King County Metro has released proposed service changes for June, 2012. Among the changes are two in or very near Beacon Hill, the deletion of Routes 38 and 42.
Route 38 currently is a short route that runs between 15th Avenue South and Martin Luther King Jr. Way South on South McClellan Street. Previously, it ran down to Sodo, but since the opening of the Link light rail line in 2009, it has been truncated to the shorter route. The 38 runs only between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., generally every 20 minutes.
The proposal to delete the 38 cites “low performance” as the reason for the deletion:
“Route 38 performance is in the bottom 25 percent of routes that do not serve the Seattle core on the measure of passenger miles per platform mile.
“Consistent with our Service Guidelines, Metro plans to use resources from low performing routes to relieve overcrowding, improve on-time performance, and increase the number of trips on underserved corridors.”
The alternative transportation suggested for 38 riders is Link, either at Mount Baker Station or Beacon Hill Station. Either station is less than one-half mile from the 38’s current stops, however, there is a very steep hill between 23rd Avenue South and Mount Baker Station. Link trains do run more frequently and for longer hours than the 38 buses do.
Route 42 runs in Rainier Valley from Pioneer Square to Columbia City. Currently the 42 runs only once an hour between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays, and not at all on weekends. Similar to the 38, Metro says “Route 42 performance is in the bottom 25 percent of routes that serve the Seattle core on both measures Metro uses to rate performance (rides per platform hour and passenger miles per platform mile).”
Alternatives Metro suggests for 42 riders, depending on whether they are going to Columbia City, Martin Luther King, Jr. Way South, Rainier Avenue South, or South Dearborn Street, include Route 7, Route 34, Route 39, Route 8, or Link light rail. Most stops are less than one-quarter mile from the current stops, and Route 8 serves the same stops as Route 42.
A previous attempt to delete Route 42 caused some controversy in 2009. Representatives for the Asian Counseling and Referral Service on Martin Luther King Jr. Way South at South Walden Street argued that the route is necessary to serve their clients, and that clients who are elderly or disabled would not be able to walk to the nearby light rail stations.
“It’s demonstrably unnecessary for mobility, it’s costing a fortune, and riders are choosing in droves not to ride it. At this point, Route 42 is indefensible.”