The Route 44 bus runs from the University District, through Wallingford along 45th Street, and into Ballard where it merges onto Market. If you live in our neighborhood, you’ve no doubt ridden the 44 a time or two or more. Personally, I avoid it. I remember it as being extremely, extremely slow. To be fair to the 44, it has very high ridership, and it has to make its way along some very congested streets.
Recognizing the problems on this route, Metro is considering some changes to improve our ride. Public input is currently being gathered, and to that end, SDOT is holding a series of community meetings, one here in our neighborhood:
- Date: Thursday, November 21
- Time: 6 – 7:30 PM
- Place: Wallingford Community Senior Center, 4649 Sunnyside Ave N #140
SDOT has set up a website to track this project as it progresses. Possible changes to improve speed, safety and reliability may include:
- Dedicated bus lanes and queue jumps: Bus-only lanes and signals that give buses a head start to separate buses from traffic and increase speed and reliability.
- Signal upgrades or optimization: Transit signal priority extends or activates green lights to reduce waiting times for buses at signals.
- Channelization changes or turn restrictions: Changes to roadway channelization and limiting certain turns can allow buses to move faster, avoid conflicts, and improve safety.
- Safety improvements: Improvements to crossings and transit connections to help people get to bus stops more easily.
Didn’t they make these improvements a few years ago? At least on 45th, the 44 bus runs well. I ride it frequently. Maybe they’re extending this work all the way to Ballard?
I hope that the viability of small businesses along N 45th in Wallingford is at the very top of SDOT’s priorities.
Like tear down houses on 46th to make bus lane, tear down houses on 44ths for cars, and make 45th a pedestrian only place? What do you mean by viability of small businesses along 45th? Do you mean specifically catering to the existing small businesses, or do you mean any sort of potential new business would be OK as long as there are some? There are many ways to intepret what you say, and the solutions could be completely different, let a long the fact that without clarification there is no obvious reason why your statement is important.
I hope so too. Letting people from other neighborhoods access the Wallingford business district as easily as possible should be a top priority. Shortening the trip from Ballard or the University District by even five minutes would have the potential to change behavior and get more people in the door of our local businesses.
To that end, any block on 45th where the bus regularly gets stuck in traffic should have a bus lane on it. If that means removing parking lanes, so be it. A few dozen folks parking their cars should not be a higher priority than letting 9,300 people get where they’re going in an efficient manner.
I’d defer to the business owners on that.
Which business owners? Do we effectively subsidize existing businesses by catering to their needs, or do we collect wish list for all those who want to open businesses? The interest of businesses are often conflicting with each other. For example, having limited parking in the neighborhood boosts Ezell’s and Taco Time, but hurt some others.
It’s vital we support those business owners who prefer land use laws that make it impossible for thousands of more potential customers to live within walking distance https://media1.giphy.com/media/dPghHslnqEKLC/giphy.gif
I don’t know the last time you’ve ridden the 44 to Ballard, Jack, but I’ve found it much-improved in the past few years, due mostly to the dedicated lanes and signals at Wallingford Ave and immediately west of Stone Way. My guess is that SDOT would like to see these types of improvements implemented between Husky Stadium and I-5, and maybe near and through Ballard.
They do not need long term improvement for the last stretch to the stadium, not with light rail station in U-District coming live. The last stretch on Pacific is horrible, but that stretch won’t exist in the future.
Great point. Getting the 44 to move quickly from the Brooklyn station and across I-5 should be a priority by 2021.
I agree, Doug. I take the 44 every week or 2, mostly to and from Ballard, and it’s much faster than it used to be. A quick ride either way.
Trips to the U-District aren’t as quick; certainly during morning rush hour, around I-5. But then, no one escapes the stop-an-go at that time in the morning.
where will these changes happen? We have plenty of bus bulbs in Wallingford. ( c re c) And preferential lights.
I think the point of this blog post is to encourage us to attend one of these meetings to find out more, and to offer feedback to help shape the project.
I am going and I am thankful that they are reaching out early so we can all be a part of the process. People always complain about changes but it seems they are doing their job here and we should do our part.
Reading the SDOT’s materials on this project, it doesn’t appear to me that any changes to the actual route are being considered. (Which is fine by me.)
Does that match with what others are seeing/reading?
No. It seems they are gathering ideas and feedback from the community and once they have done that they will have designs. I went to the one at the bookstore and there were lots of concepts to look at and discuss. Some of them are big ideas and some involve the very heart of Wallingford. I’d suggest you attend and give your feedback.
The 44 is far better than it used to be, but that’s a very low bar to meet. The biggest problems I’ve experienced right now are exclusively in Wallingford:
1. Eastbound, scofflaw drivers frequently block the intersection at 5th, particularly when I-5 is backed up. This causes 45th to back up and, without dedicated lanes, the 44 simply becomes stuck. SDOT should construct BAT lanes from I-5 at least to SR99 and work with SPD to actually enforce them.
2. Westbound, scofflaw drivers frequently do not yield to the 44 at Latona as it is merging from its out-of-lane stop. Metro could have license plate cameras and ticket drivers who violate state law (RCW 46.04.355) and/or SDOT could build the bus stop out into 45th so the 44 can make an in-lane stop.
3. Similarly, eastbound, scofflaw drivers frequently do not yield to both the 44 and 62 at Wallingford. Again, Metro should have automated ticket cameras and SDOT should build the stop in-lane.
Other improvements outside of Wallingford should include closing 45th in the U-District to private vehicle traffic between I-5 and 15th during peak hours when Community Transit is running their peak-hour buses (similar to how 3rd was downtown, before it became all-day transit-only) to avoid penalizing transit riders and rewarding private vehicle operators; and closing the I-5 on/off ramps at 45th to private vehicle operators to push the impact of these operators to non-transit corridors like 50th.
As for impacts to businesses, unless the vehicles I see on the streets are actually TARDISes (larger on the inside than the outside), they only get a handful of customers from on-street parking. The 44 already potentially brings thousands of people to their doorsteps and could bring thousands more if it ran faster, more often, and more reliably. While Metro has a driver shortage, the best way to increase frequency without hiring more drivers and buying more coaches is to speed up the route. These improvements make more efficient use of our public resources, something that should be appealing across the political spectrum.