METRO increases services for Renton

City and county staff work to serve transit riders with longer hours, more routes

At the Aug. 12 Committee of the Whole meeting, King County METRO staff presented council with their long-range planning efforts regionally, and what projects are coming to Renton.

Staff said at the meeting they are looking to restructure fixed routes and add flexible routes so there’s an all-day, two way network in Renton.

Immediate changes

Some immediate improvements to Renton are coming in September, adding 111 hours a week in routes serving the city.

Route 101, to downtown Seattle, is adding four trips on weekdays, Saturday and Sunday. This expands service to two hours later a day, operating until around 1 a.m. Route 105, Renton Highlands to downtown Renton, serves Renton Technical College. That route is increasing Sunday frequency from every hour to every 30 minutes.

Route 107, Beacon Hill to Renton, is adding one trip on weekdays and combining with Route 60 to have a 15-minutes between Beacon Hill station and the Renton Transit Center. Lastly Route 906, connecting Fairwood to Tukwila, will change from every hour to every 30 minutes during peak hours on weekdays.

RapidRide I-Line

Staff said they’ve heard that RapidRide is one of their most recognized programs, so METRO is investing more into the service. The new lines will have redesigned bus stops, free WiFi and air conditioning.

First METRO will introduce an H-Line, Burien to downtown Seattle, and G-Line, Madison Valley to downtown Seattle, before adding the I-Line, Renton to Kent to Auburn. The I-Line is scheduled for September 2023.

Right now Route 169 and Route 180 serve the I-Line route. This is one of the high-productivity areas of the county with 6,000 daily riders. The line is expected to cost $120 million.

Since service has stayed the same for a long time in South King County, METRO staff said, they are working on a Renton-Kent-Auburn Mobility Plan. Staff can then use the plan to add a single route service change, from Renton to Kent to Auburn, to begin next year: September 2020. This will upgrade to the I-Line once it’s ready in 2023.

Renton’s needs

Community outreach for the I-line helped staff learn what was needed on this route. METRO tabled at events earlier this year and conducted an online survey.

People in and around Renton said they wanted more frequency at night and on weekends. Folks in the Highlands said that area needed more transit access and options, and Southern Renton wanted more east to west options.

Those providing feedback also asked that METRO engage historically underserved populations with what they need from public transit.

METRO has an online survey for the RapidRide I-line and possible changes, which is available at kingcounty.gov/metro/iline.

Renton Transit Study

After King County councilmember Dave Upthegrove heard of chronic performance issues for METRO routes in Renton, he added a proviso to the 2019-20 county budget for a Renton Transit Study, as previously reported by Renton Reporter.

The study is being finalized and will be delivered to council in October, staff said. In this study, METRO focused on six areas that are already being addressed with METRO projects: the valley industrial area, Rainier and Grady, downtown core, Southport, the Sunset neighborhood and Interstate-405 where it meets Northeast 44th Street.

The locations were named in the proviso, which Renton city staff then helped narrow down for METRO staff, who said there was a short turnaround window for this study and outreach for the Renton-Kent-Auburn Mobility Plan does target communities that are being missed in this transit study.

The study looks at demographic equity, crash data over the last five years and which transit stations and projects are planned there, staff said. Concepts of ways to handle transit problems and recommendations for further studies will be included, staff said.

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