King County Metro plans to expand bus service in Kent

Better East Hill connections starting in September

King County Metro plans to expand bus service in Kent, Auburn and Renton starting in September in preparation for a new RapidRide I Line in 2023 that will serve the three cities.

The Kent City Council in December authorized Mayor Dana Ralph to sign a letter of support to King County Metro for the Renton-Kent-Auburn Area Mobility Plan. The King County Council will vote on the plan in the spring.

“The proposed changes will provide increased service on Kent’s East Hill and to the Kent Sounder (train) Station,” according to the letter. “In addition, the changes increase night and weekend service and create new single trip connections between Covington, Kent, SeaTac and Burien and between Des Moines, Highline College, Kent and Green River College.”

The changes in Kent include frequency improvements to Routes 164, 166, 168, 183 and 180 as well as night and weekend service improvements:

• Route 164 (Green River College to Kent Station): Sunday service and additional evening and night service

• Route 166 (Kent Station to Highline College to Des Moines to Burien): Additional evening and night service and extended weekend service

• Route 168 (Maple Valley to Kent Station): Additional evening and night service and extended weekend service

• Route 183 (Federal Way to Star Lake to Kent Station): Additional Sunday service

New connections would include:

• One-seat ride connection (no transfers) between Covington, Kent, SeaTac and Burien through Routes 180 and 168

• Frequent, all-day, one-seat ride connection between Renton, Kent and Auburn (future RapidRide I Line)

• One-seat ride connection between Des Moines, Highline College, Kent and Green River College through Routes 166 and 164

• Bus service from the Kent East Hill with timed connections to Sounder through Route 164

Metro proposed the changes after input from residents, businesses and city staff.

The primary needs in Kent are to improve distribution of service, create new connection points and improve east-west connectivity, which is hard to get now, according to Metro staff.

Metro plans to provide more all-day service on Southeast 240th Street and 132nd Avenue Southeast. In the Valley, more all-day service is planned for 64th Avenue South and South 212th Street to help serve the many employees at the Amazon Fulfillment Center.

Ralph also sent a letter to Metro in support of the RapidRide I Line between Auburn, Kent and Renton. The route in Kent would be along Central Avenue and Canyon Drive and 108th/104th Avenue Southeast. The County Council will consider approval of the RapidRide I line in the spring.

The RapidRide I Line will serve more than 6,000 riders who use Routes 169 (Kent Station to Renton) and 180 (Auburn to Kent Station to Sea-Tac Airport to Burien), two of the busiest Metro routes in South King County. The new line will connect transit centers in Auburn, Kent and Renton, including Sounder train stations in Auburn and Kent. RapidRide buses send signals to traffic lights, so green lights stay green longer or red lights switch to green faster.

Ralph said in the letter that the city looks forward to working with Metro to develop transit routes to serve the new Kent-Des Moines and Star Lake Link light rail stations scheduled by Sound Transit to open in 2024 as well as a RapidRide line to link the Kent-Des Moines light rail station to Green River College via Kent Station and Southeast Kent Kangley Road.

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