Metro proposes deletion of Routes 38 and 42

A Route 38 bus on South McClellan. Photo by Oran Viriyincy in the Beacon Hill Blog photo pool.
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.

Protesters at a King County Council town hall meeting in Columbia City in 2009 expressed their opinions about Metro service changes. Photo by Wendi.
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.

Seattle Transit Blog recently posted two articles, “The Case Against the 42” and “Ridership on Route 42” that argue that the route is redundant and rarely used:

“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.”

9 thoughts on “Metro proposes deletion of Routes 38 and 42”

  1. Also worth noting that as part of the same June 2012 service change, Route 36 will get additional service on Sundays to relieve overcrowding, as well as probably getting “schedule calibration”, which is where Metro re-jigs the schedules and spends a little extra money to get the bus to run on time more.

  2. Interesting fact: they are proposing to cut the 34 & 39 routes also. Putting the #50 on that route (which comes from West Seattle, it is going to be really fun to be at the mercy of a bus that gets stuck on the West Seattle Bridge!) What gives, they charge us more and then cut routes, this doesn’t make sense!

  3. I’ve long wanted a direct route from Beacon Hill to West Seattle. After all, it’s just a quick trip across the bridge. Currently, you have to go downtown first.

  4. Yeah, I won’t miss these buses either. Their service is redundant. Freeing up the resources spent on these seldom-used routes and using those resources for improved service on frequently-used routes is a good idea. As a regular bus rider, I really appreciate having a seat on my commute and having frequent service.

  5. When you live on the west side of Mid Beacon hill, the 39 is not redundant. It is the best direct route to downtown (prob half or less the time the 36 would take). With the #50 replacement the plan is to drop people off on the busway at SODO. Not my favorite place to be in the dark or after hours. Currently I do have the option to take the light rail to beacon station and then either walk a mile, take the 36 and cross the VA parking lot, or take the 60. Honestly, depending on timing and luck all these options can take about the same amount of time. Options are nice. The convenience and relative safety of taking a direct route is also nice.

  6. Once upon a time in a galaxy far away, the #48 ran from NW 85th & 32nd Ave NW in Ballard to the north end of West Seattle, running along 23rd Avenue & somehow east-west through South Seattle (over Beacon Hill?) & over the West Seattle bridge. I only rode almost the entire route once in the late 1970s–from Capitol Hill to West Seattle & back, but for that one time it made all the difference in the world to me!

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