For Eastside bus riders commuting into downtown Seattle, potential new connections between Metro Transit and Link light rail offer an appealing option for beating the congestion of traffic on Interstate-5.
Eastside residents have a chance to weigh in on these potential new connections through Link Connections: SR-520, a partnership between Metro and Sound Transit to explore several of these potential options, which include stopping cross-lake buses at the University of Washington light rail station so riders can transfer onto trains headed to downtown, and providing Eastside communities with new transit connections to destinations such as South Lake Union. Routes potentially affected include the 252, 255, 257, 268, 277, 311, 540, 541, 542, 545, 555 and 556.
This month, the agencies launched a public outreach process to hear from riders on potential changes and how transit service can be improved. Your feedback will be used to shape service concepts that will be presented for public review in May and June. Final proposals will be shared with the public later this fall for feedback, then presented to the King County Council and Sound Transit Board for consideration.
At Metro’s Link Connections SR-520 website, you can:
- Take an online survey through April 2,
- Apply to serve on the Sounding Board,
- Find the next Community Conversation meeting near you, and
- Sign up to receive e-mail updates.
Metro is recruiting a sounding board of 15-20 community members to advise the agencies through the planning process. The sounding board will meet regularly through November 2017. People of diverse backgrounds who reflect the affected communities are encouraged to apply, via the website.
Connecting 520 routes to light rail could connect riders with congestion-free service to Downtown Seattle at the University of Washington. Metro first considered this option when the University of Washington light rail station opened during the University Link Connections outreach process, but decided to hold a separate process with Eastside communities.
At the same time, major transportation projects and other changes over the next five years in downtown Seattle are expected to affect traffic flow through the 520 corridor. To mitigate that, Metro and Sound Transit are partnering with the city of Seattle and the Downtown Seattle Association in another process called One Center City, which is aimed at keeping the region moving with potential strategies that include bus route changes alongside street and traffic improvements and other measures in Downtown Seattle.
Nearly 230,000 people commute in and out of downtown Seattle from throughout the region, with many thousands more coming to shop and attend cultural events. Over the next 20 years, Seattle’s center city is projected to add 55,000 more jobs and 25,000 more households. That growth will occur as downtown traffic is affected by significant changes, including demotion of the Alaskan Way Viaduct; expansion of the Washington State Convention Center; and the long-planned conversion of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel to a rail-only facility, which will send seven bus routes to the surface.
Changes outside downtown Seattle over the next five years include SR-520 construction and work along I-90 in preparation for the opening of East Link in 2023.
Senior Strategic Communications Advisor to the Director of the King County Department of Transportation