Proposed Eastside transit overhaul includes Issaquah changes

April 10, 2011

By Staff

NEW — 10 a.m. April 10, 2011

King County Executive Dow Constantine proposed additional bus service to Issaquah in a plan to offer more and faster transit service on the Eastside.

Under the proposal, service is to be increased for Route 271 from downtown Issaquah to Bellevue and Seattle’s University District. The plan also calls for Route 211 to be extended to the Issaquah Highlands Park & Ride. Route 211 serves hospital-dense First Hill in Seattle.

Constantine is due to present the proposal to the King County Council at a public hearing from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday at the Mercer Island Community Center, 8236 S.E. 24th St.

In the proposal announced April 8, the executive called for additional Eastside transit service through the launch of RapidRide buses between Bellevue and Redmond.

“Rapid Ride will allow you to just show up to catch a bus between Bellevue and Redmond every 10 or 15 minutes, without having to check a schedule,” he said in a statement. “We heard from Eastside residents, businesses and public agencies, and this proposal reflects their wishes to consolidate resources and make Metro an easier alternative to driving a car.”

The plan aims to revise 24 King County Metro Transit bus routes at the same time RapidRide B Line service launches between Bellevue and Redmond via Overlake and Crossroads. If the council adopts the service changes, the updated routes should take effect Oct. 1.

Some Eastside routes could be eliminated under the proposal, though none of the affected routes serve Issaquah.

The existing RapidRide line — serving a route from Tukwila to Federal Way — has proven to be popular among riders. In the initial four months, ridership is up 25 percent from the less-frequent route RapidRide replaced.

Through the partnership between Metro Transit and the First Hill Transportation Group — a consortium of Harborview, Swedish and Virginia Mason medical centers — the proposal calls for trips to be added to routes serving suburban cities.

Route 211 runs between First Hill and the Eastgate Park & Ride. The proposal aims to extend the route to the Issaquah Highlands.

Implementation of the Transit Now partnership should add about 7,500 annual hours. If adopted, the agreement calls for Metro Transit to be responsible for two-thirds of the cost and the partners to cover the remaining one-third.

Overall, Constantine said the proposed transit service changes should improve Eastside connections to take advantage of recent service additions made by Metro Transit and Sound Transit to the all-day routes between East King County and Seattle.

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