A map illustrating Sound Transit's 2013 change to Route 560, with service to SeaTac Airport. The change, a shorter route stopping at Westwood Village but offering service seven days a week, will take place in June.
Shorter West Seattle route, but more service with Sound Transit Route 560 changes in 2013
Sound Transit’s Route 560, one of a few good options for West Seattle and White Center residents traveling to SeaTac Airport without paying for a cab or airport parking, has a service revision planned later in 2013 that will shorten the route, but increase service to seven days a week on the peninsula.
Currently, Route 560 picks up in West Seattle on weekdays only during peak travel times (roughly 4:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.), and serpents its way along (S.W.) Roxbury, 35th, Barton, Fauntleroy Way and California Ave., making the final stop at Alaska Junction before turning around and heading to the airport.
Sound Transit plans to revise the route on June 8th, leading to the following changes:
1) Instead of traveling to Alaska Junction, Rt. 560 will terminate at Westwood Village shopping center (S.W. Barton St. and 29th Ave S.W.), King County Metro’s main West Seattle transit hub after the September 2012 service change. Sound Transit and KC Metro are separate agencies, but work together in coordinating service changes.
2) Instead of peak-only, weekday trips, Rt. 560 will run seven days a week, picking up every 30 minutes during the weekdays and every 60 minutes on the weekends and late night.
Sound Transits’s Service Planning Manager Mike Bergman said a new schedule will come out a few weeks prior to June 8, giving riders time to adapt their schedules.
“This is personal for me as a West Seattle resident, this route is the main Sound Transit route I have an opportunity to use so there is a real net improvement here,” Sound Transit spokesman Geoff Patrick said of the upcoming change. “There is a truncation involved in having the service run between the growing transit hub that is located at Westwood Village and the airport and on to east side (after the airport, 560 travels to Bellevue), but the positive for West Seattle that is going to make it much more accessible is that where as before the route was peak hours only, it is going to operate seven days a week.”
“It’s possible that people are going to have to travel a little farther to get to Westwood Village,” Patrick said, “but the bonus is it is easy to get there on any number of bus routes … or if its short term you can actually find street parking down in that area, get a ride to the airport and get to your flight.”
According to Sound Transit’s 2013 Service Implementation Plan (page 70), the change is due in large part to the introduction of King County Metro’s RapidRide C Line in September of last year. With the C Line duplicating much of 560’s current route and picking up at (ideally) 10 to 15 minute intervals, Sound Transit hopes to reduce redundancy and take advantage of RapidRide’s frequent service in getting airport-bound travelers to Westwood, and onto a 560.
The plan explains: “The objectives of this proposed restructure include avoiding duplication with King County Metro service, improving ST Express productivity and providing a convenient full-time connection between the West Seattle/Highline areas and SeaTac Airport.”
The change was first announced in October, 2012, followed by a comment period. The main concern voiced by West Seattleites during that time was “that early morning connections to SeaTac Airport are difficult because (Metro’s RapidRide C Line) currently does not operate from Alaska Junction to Westwood between 3:45 a.m. and 5:45 a.m. (currently, RapidRide’s schedule shows trips from the Junction to Westwood every 60 to 120 minutes during that time frame).”
In response, Sound Transit said they are working with Metro to “add a new early morning C Line trip with timed connections to Route 560 at Westwood, allowing C Line riders to reach the airport by 5:30 a.m.”
Bruce Nourish, a frequent contributor to regional transit watchdog Seattle Transit Blog, wrote about the 560 change a while back and gave it praise as a way “to provide significantly improved mobility at minimal cost.”
“The word synergy is horribly overused, but it really does apply here,” he added. “Sound Transit and Metro have created value for riders, as if from nothing.”
Bergman said another airport-bound alternative is taking Metro’s new-ish Route 50, with stops at Alaska Junction and along S.W. Admiral Way to Alki. Headed east, Route 50 stops at the SODO Light Rail Station where commuters can hitch a ride south to SeaTac.