Choose Your Way Bellevue Blog

 

And how I dealt with Route 550 move out of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel onto surface streets!

Editor note: Phyllis is the newest member of the Choose Your Way Bellevue Outreach team. While you can find her commuting from Columbia City to Downtown Bellevue using light rail and the bus for work, she’s most happy when she’s out riding her bike for transportation or recreation!

Whenever I can park my car, walk, bike or take transit, or light rail, I do it. I’m highly energized and like the outdoors and doing things that are productive towards health, fitness and the environment. This way I can contribute to all three. Riding my purple and red Kestrel bike gives me a sense of freedom and makes a daily gym routine seem hard. Pedaling on a fresh and crisp morning is quite exhilarating and prepares me for what is next to come.

I live a few blocks from the Columbia City light rail station and although I prefer biking for a commute to work, taking the light rail and bus is more efficient. The walk to my neighborhood station is quick and I can hop on the Link and head to the International District.  My commute to Bellevue offers various options via the bus and light rail and takes about an hour from start to finish without having to sit in the heavily congested traffic that Seattle is incurring more rapidly as the city continues to grow. Not bad, right?

Day 1– This week I chose the light rail and the bus, Route 550 from Seattle to Bellevue. My first day was a little challenging as the 550-bus route had changed. Learn more about buses moving out of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel on Choose Your Way Bellevue’s Seattle Squeeze for Bellevueites page. I approached Bay 2 of the transit tunnel and noticed there were no buses in sight and a large detour sign that included information and a map.

I read the information and learned that the Route #550 bus stop was now located six blocks north at Yesler and 2nd Avenue. After reading the information, and reviewing the map, I walked upstairs and outside the tunnel and headed north. My eyes stared in the direction of where the bus would depart. At that moment I could see the bus and the doors were closing. I waved my hand to get the attention of the bus driver and jetted pass a lady that was trying to make it to the bus. I got there first and by the kindness of the bus driver he waited a few extra seconds to make sure she made it on too. A lesson learned, be prepared. Check the bus sites prior to taking the bus. Change happen, and Metro is very informative about route changes with posting given prior to the change.  You can sign up to receive alerts for your favorite routes with both Sound Transit and King County Metro. So, if you don’t ride frequently, don’t do what I did, check the route first. Lesson 1 learned.

Day 2– The second day was a breeze. I took the light rail from Columbia City and got off at Pioneer Square which was one stop beyond the first day. Walked upstairs out to Yesler and 2nd and here come the 550, hey that’s my bus? Yay! I thought this was much easier than walking up the stairs and across to the other side to catch the bus after getting off the Link to go to Bellevue on the prior route. People at this bus stop were lined up in an orderly fashion and I found my place at the end of the line. Next, I stepped on the bus, used my new ORCA card, found a seat and enjoyed the ride. It’s a 30-minute commute and the bus drop me off less than a block away of my destination. This is so easy!  Was there a lesson learned? Yes! Prepare, use the info that listed on the web, and plan your ride. I did, and my ride was very efficient with no bumps along the way.

Day 3- Headed out the door at 7:15 a.m. taking the same route as yesterday. What challenges will I have today and, if so how will I handle it?

I enjoyed my light rail ride just a little too much this day relaxing in the moment that I missed my Pioneer Square stop. No problem, I got off at the next stop – University and walked over to the opposite side of the tunnel and waited for the Link. I heard the train notification arrival time announced on the intercom; “The next train will be arriving in two minutes.” I waited and boarded the next train and got off at the very next stop. Followed the same route as yesterday and there I see, from a half block away, people lined up to the right and I look to my left and see the #550 three blocks north. I crossed the street at the light twice and found my self at the end of the line again. I found a seat about three rows back, sat and enjoyed the ride while finishing up on a few emails on my phone. Thirty minutes later, I’m getting off the bus and walking toward work.

The first three days haven’t been quite routine, but I plan on having a standard routine yet with mixing it up a little. I can also take the Route #7 bus instead of taking the Link and connect with the #550. It may take a few minutes more, but as long as I get to work on time, I like the experience of learning different ways of getting around the city. I can also take my current light rail trip but extend it to UW and take the #271 from there to the Bellevue Transit Center. This keeps it fun and adventurous. I took advantage of the information that we share with commuters through our custom commute plans about taking the bus and other ways to get around without riding in a single-occupant vehicle.

I used the King County Metro Trip Planner and learned how to map out the many different routes based on ETA. Next week I will try a different route and maybe next month I’ll move on to something I haven’t tried. Being new to the program, I appreciate Choose Your Way Bellevue information on getting around when not driving. I’m a morning person and energized about commuting. Feel free to share your experiences of your commute, you don’t have to be a morning person to do that!

I enjoy all modes of commuting and hope that you will try one of the multi-modal ways of commuting while leaving your car at home. Happy Commuting!

-Choose Your Way Bellevue Staffer Phyllis!

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019 2:50 PM | by Tim Kelley | Add a Comment

 

Get ready–Spring is in the air and that means that Bike Everywhere Month is right around the corner! Here are a few exciting opportunities the City of Bellevue is offering to get you out on two wheels during the month of May:

And to officially kick off Bike Month, including the Bike Everywhere Challenge, Choose Your Bellevue is hosting the 2019 Eastside Bike Bash at REI-Bellevue with Cascade Bicycle Club and all our friends on May 1 from 4p.m.-7p.m. Learn about exciting bike projects coming to the Eastside, snack on delicious goodies, and meet up with other like-minded people who ride bikes.  We’ll have friends and partners from all over the Eastside with fun giveaways and coupons!

And don’t forget that May 17 is Bike Everywhere Day!  Find your nearest Celebration Station!

Want to give biking a try, but have questions or don’t know where to get started? The City of Bellevue will be hosting a “Basics of Urban Cycling” class at City Hall in May. The class will cover planning your bike route, riding safely and comfortably, rules of the road, clothing, gear, and is led by a Cascade Bicycle Club instructor. Free pizza will be provided.  Dates and times are still TBD, but check back soon for more details!

Additional Resources:

 -Choose Your Way Bellevue Staff

 

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019 10:11 AM | by geri | Add a Comment

From Sound Transit:

On March 23, 2019, ST Express bus 550 will shift from the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel to surface streets to accommodate the Washington State Convention Center construction and future Link light rail expansion.

Due to Convention Center construction and to prepare for light rail expansion, buses will permanently leave the downtown transit tunnel. ST Express Route 550 and six Metro routes will operate on surface streets.

All tunnel buses will move to surface streets on March 23, 2019

With buses no longer sharing downtown tunnel stations with trains, Link light rail will be more reliable and the system will be ready to expand. Extensions to Northgate (2021) and Mercer Island, Bellevue and Overlake (2023) are under construction. Trains will then reach Lynnwood, Federal Way and downtown Redmond in 2024; West Seattle and Tacoma in 2030; Ballard and South Lake Union in 2035; Everett in 2036; and South Kirkland and Issaquah in 2041.

As the system expands, Sound Transit will operate longer trains at higher frequency. Early next year, Sound Transit will begin the process of connecting tracks from the Eastside to the current system at International District Station.

Sound Transit, Metro, and SDOT issued the March 2019 Service Change press release on Feb. 20.

Signage at bus stops will go up in the first week of March, and street teams will be out at stops several days before and after the service change at affected stops to direct riders to their new/revised bus stops.

The newly updated Downtown Accessibility Map shows how to get around the steep grades of downtown Seattle.

Bus service changes

  • Route 513 will extend to Seaway Transit Center and connect to Community Transit’s Swift Green Line. The route will serve a new stop at Casino Road and Evergreen Way, which will replace the current stop at Evergreen Way and 79th Place. All other stops will remain the same.
  • Route 542 will add evening and weekend service between Redmond/Overlake and the University District to mitigate the June 2019 closure of the Montlake Freeway Station.
  • Route 550 will travel inbound to Seattle via 4th Avenue and Pike Street, and outbound to Mercer Island and Bellevue via Union Street and 2nd Avenue. Outbound riders currently boarding at International District Station will board at 2nd Ave Ext S & Yesler Way. Visit here for more info on new routings for Metro tunnel routes 41, 74, 101, 102, 150, and 255.
  • Route 555 will only operate between Northgate and Bellevue starting on March 25, 2019.  Sound Transit will invest resources into improving reliability on Route 554. Riders can use King County Metro Route 271 between Issaquah, Eastgate and Bellevue or routes 240 or 241 between Bellevue and Eastgate.
  • Route 580 will run fewer trips to Lakewood beginning March 25, focusing resources on the high-ridership segment between Puyallup Station and South Hill Park and Ride.

In addition to these major changes, Sound Transit is making additional minor service adjustments to several other ST Express routes. Visit soundtransit.org/servicechange for more info.

If you ride an affected route, sign up for Rider Alerts to get the most up-to-date information delivered right to your inbox.

Friday, March 8th, 2019 10:33 AM | by Tim Kelley | Add a Comment

Jeff, on a recent trip to Glacier National Park

Did you know that you can have a chance to earn awesome rewards just by logging your commute? If you sign up with Choose Your Way Bellevue, you will be entered in a drawing for a chance to win a $100 REI gift card just by participating and logging your non-drive-alone commute at least 8 times a month.

Jeff is our March Mover of the Month and commutes regularly from Issaquah to Bellevue by bus. By choosing to commute by bus, Jeff is less stressed, saves money with an employer subsidized bus pass, and enjoys have some “me” time on his commute.

We caught up with Jeff earlier this week and this is what he had to say about his commute:

CYWB: What is your green commute (what is your mode and where are you coming from/going to)?

Jeff: I’m fortunate enough to be within walking distance of the Issaquah Highlands Park and Ride so I catch the Sound Transit 556 Express in the mornings and get off at the Bellevue Transit Center where I’m within walking distance of my building.  I feel like I’m living the dream with an efficient, car-free commute to and from work.

 

CYWB: Why do you choose to commute this way?

Jeff: There are few reasons I commute by bus.  The #1 reason I commute by bus is because it’s the least stressful way of getting to work.  I’d rather have someone else do the driving instead of me dealing with traffic.  My employer also subsidizes my bus pass, so I’m saving money on transportation and not having to spend as much money on gas.  On top of that, I can read my Kindle on the bus or take a nap.  It’s basically extra time in my day for whatever I want to do.

 

CYWB: What is something unexpected you’ve discovered/learned/experienced since you began commuting via this mode?

Jeff: I occasionally think deeply while staring out the window.  I don’t know why, but some of my best creative brainstorming and reflection happens on the bus.

 

CYWB: Tell us a bit about yourself—do you have any fun hobbies?

Jeff: I love learning new things, so I’m always reading.  Currently, I’m learning programming and building projects in my spare time.  Besides that, I enjoy being outdoors riding my road bike and running trails.

Special thanks Jeff for sharing his commute with us! We hope his experience can serve as inspiration for others to try out your own alternative mode of transit – why not start with the bus!

Would you like to be the Choose Your Way Bellevue Mover of the Month? Log at least eight non-drive-alone trips on your RideshareOnline calendar and you’ll automatically be entered into the drawing for next month – as well as our 25 win $25 drawing – and be eligible for “Perks” local business discounts! Learn more at www.ChooseYourWayBellevue.org/Rewards.

– Choose Your Way Bellevue Staffer Tim

Thursday, March 7th, 2019 4:16 PM | by Tim Kelley | Add a Comment

Cloudy weather with a side of Seattle Squeeze got you down? Choose Your Way Bellevue wants to perk you up! A lot of bike goodness happened in Bellevue in 2018 and we want to keep that momentum rolling in the new year. So with that in mind we’re giving away backpacks, bike lights, bells, and winter bike socks and all you have to do is send us a selfie so we can share your smile on social media!

Interested? Here are three easy steps that will score you some free swag:

Step 1: Pull your bike out of winter hibernation or find the nearest Bikeshare Bike, and then go for a ride in Bellevue!

Step 2: Enjoy your fast, easy, convenient bike ride and snap a selfie with your bike, or the view from your handlebars (while not in motion of course!), within the Bellevue city limits! Or better yet, grab a friend to play photog and go for a ride with you!

Step 3: Email us your photo (info@cywb.org) and provide us with your mailing address. Just for taking a ride and sharing your photo, we’ll send you a fancy, limited edition Choose Your Way Bellevue backpack stuffed with goodies inside, like bike lights, a bell and winter socks. (While supplies last. Let us know if you don’t want us to post your photo publicly.)

Step 3a (Alternate option):  Don’t have your selfie-stick handy? Fancy yourself a budding author or the next J.K. Rowling instead? Send us at short writeup on why you ride in Bellevue and you’ll be eligible for the same reward!  Send a narrative (50 words minimum) on why you like to ride your bike in Bellevue to info@cywb.org and we’ll feature it on our social media and mail you the bike goodies.  Easy as that! (Note: All entries are moderated for compliance with the city’s social media guidelines; one entry per person please.)

The Fine Print:
We only have a limited number of goodies, so this promotion is first-come, first-served limited to Bellevue riders. One reward per rider. Photos must be taken within the City of Bellevue. We want to share your smiling selfies with the world, but we do respect your privacy–let us know if you don’t want us to share your photos on social media.

Update: here’s a pic of some of the goodies you’ll get:

Friday, January 25th, 2019 12:05 PM | by Tim Kelley | Add a Comment

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