Metro transit plan includes updates for Water Taxi, Shuttle, C Line, Service from Admiral District
King County Metro Transit has been busy formulating a plan for people in West Seattle and beyond to get around, practically from the day the closure of the West Seattle High Rise Bridge was announced on March 23.
That plan is finally ready to be shared and it is a complex mix of solutions that encompass two primary scenarios over two time periods.
The 42 page plan is available for download.
From the Executive Summary of the plan:
On March 23, 2020, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) closed the West Seattle High Rise Bridge to all traffic, restricted the Spokane Street Low Bridge to allow transit, freight, non-motorized users, and emergency vehicles, and implemented detour routes for all other vehicles. The bridge is closed at least until 2022 while the City assesses and begins work to shore up cracks and increase structural stability. The bridge may ultimately be deemed unfixable, and the City announced late May the creation of a Community Task Force and Technical Advisory Panel to look at bridge replacement options.
The closure of the bridge causes impacts to 13 Metro routes that normally travel across the West Seattle Bridge. Before the state’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order went into place, these routes made approximately 900 daily weekday trips across the bridge, carrying around 17,000 daily passengers, with reduced trips and passengers on weekends and holidays.
A Metro team (“WSB Response Team”) was formed immediately following notice of the West Seattle Bridge closure in order to develop a Metro Transit Action Plan (Plan), which would address the Peninsula’s mobility needs. The goal of the Plan is to address the mobility needs of West Seattle residents, employees, and others through non-private vehicle modes that are under Metro’s control, including bus (Metro Bus, Metro RapidRide, and Metro Water Taxi Shuttle), Water Taxi, Vanpool, non-motorized, and other innovative shared-ride solutions within Metro’s financially constrained budget.
Within this Plan, Metro is planning for two network scenarios over two horizon periods.
• Current to September 2020 - primary focus is on service reliability and accessibility, being responsive to demand while addressing physical distancing capacity limits on buses, Water Taxi, and Vanpools.
• September 2020 Service Change through September 2021 - This period is inclusive of Metro’s planned service changes that are expected to bring back additional West Seattle commuter routes and other service, and the ability to increase Vanpool and Water Taxi service.
• Scenario 1: Spokane Street Low Bridge is open to fixed route and other transit solutions
• Scenario 2: Spokane Street Low Bridge is closed to fixed route and other transit solutions. This scenario could happen for two reasons:
a. Tier 1- Short term closure due to maintenance work, low bridge malfunction, etc.
b. Tier 2- Long term closure due to a West Seattle High Bridge instability or collapse, including “fall area” evacuation.
Transit Action Plan
Metro’s West Seattle Bridge Closure Transit Action Plan reflects consideration of its entire mobility toolkit. In the near-term, mobility solutions must be based on financial realities, which within our current environment are highly resource constrained. Each scenario in the Plan presents options for various modes to keep West Seattle moving.
As part of this Plan, Metro has prepared a customer-focused communications plan to gain back customers (lost due to COVID,) attract new ones, and provide easy-to-use maps and other transit tools for convenient trip planning to greater Seattle and key regional destinations. This King County Metro plan has been developed in close coordination with the City of Seattle and other partners.
1. Water Taxi service upgrades: up to two boats all-day (peak, off peak, weekend) year round, roughly corresponding to the 5am-9pm daily period when SOVs are not allowed on the low bridge
2. Route 773/775 Water Taxi shuttle improvements: new route(s) and/or substantially increased frequency
3. RapidRide C Line service frequency upgrades: add additional peak and off peak trips
4. All day fixed route service between Admiral and Downtown: such as an all day Route 56, which historically provided this all-day service until 2012)
5. Route 50 service frequency upgrades: add additional peak and off peak trips as far east as Sodo Station
Current Key Messages as of Publication
• Metro reduced service in West Seattle and throughout the county to respond to decreased ridership and revenue and to preserve our workforce for a ramp-up after this COVID-19 chapter closes
• While it is good news is that we implemented a service increase on June 22 and are able to add supplemental bus service as needed, future service levels are uncertain and Metro knows that transit will be acritical part of keeping West Seattle moving while the bridge closure is addressed
• Our plans preserve the West Seattle transit network with the same stops and same destinations in Downtown Seattle, SODO, and elsewhere. The only change our bus riders would see other than added travel time is a different pathway across the Duwamish River
• At this point (mid-July), bus ridership is currently down around 65%, with crossings between West Seattle and downtown/SODO down by 80% largely as a result of the commute-heavy nature of the West Seattle market, and Water Taxi ridership has been down as much as 85%. We’ve not seen any clear impact of the bridge closure on West Seattle route ridership to date as many commuters continue to telework in response to COVID-19
• Metro will continue to implement smart service modifications or additions as our region moves through the four phases of the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order and the region returns to more normal travel patterns
• We’re also finalizing plans for this fall’s twice-annual service change. Due to the budget-constrained environment brought on by the COVID-19 crisis, September’s service change still won’t restore the service levels which were in place before COVID-19. Metro and City of Seattle are committed to providing mobility options in all parts of the region, including West Seattle
I would LOVE to see an increase in water taxi times for health care workers as well as a quick way up to Pill Hill after getting off the taxi!!!