I had a lot of free time on my hands today and made my rounds clear up to Everett to see the construction of Swift. From all the hype, I honestly believed this system would be rather promising but after driving the route, I have to ask…why here?
Community Transit’s Swift service will run between Everett Station and Aurora Transit Center via Aurora Avenue its entire way. The speed limit along the route is 45 to 50mph until Everett proper where the speed limit dropped to 35mph. I didn’t bother counting the lights but it took me 55 minutes to drive the length of the route at 2pm on a Saturday. This to me is pretty pathetic in itself. I passed 2 fairly full buses though so obliviously this service will see some sort of ridership..if they eliminate those other routes that duplicate its run.
The disappointment for me was the choice of the route. While I understand the concept of wanting to be unique and different, they definitely could have hit a much more populated corridor than this one. The biggest downfall of this route will be the 50+ car dealerships that starts from Aurora Ave and 200th clear up into Everett. There are a few nice apartment complexes (including 2 I looked at a few years ago), some RV parks but all I mostly saw were car dealerships. If I had any guess, it really seemed 80% of Aurora Avenue is just car dealerships. I hope on the side streets near these stations is some sort of strong residential living or the cities that this route runs through will rezone and start building up to encourage people to use the service. I saw one construction site near one station that seemed to be in “limbo”. What its status is was beyond me but I didn’t see anyone at the site when I drove by both ways.
The three stations I did see was currently one big slab of concrete, maybe 60-80 feet in length. If there is any bunching of buses, they’ll have to wait their turn for the station. It does appear that CT will separate normal CT bus service with Swift. The stops do vary, as I saw one station with the normal CT bus stop a good 40-50 feet ahead of it. There was one station with the normal bus stop behind it by 40-50 feet.
CT claims the service will run between Everett Station and Aurora Transit Center in 40 minutes compared to the current 50 to 65 minute service that is available now. If they can achieve this, I will be greatly pleased but the ridership will still remain questionable to me. Upzoning at this point is absolutely crucial to making this a successful BRT route.
There is still a great amount of work that needs to be done, I’ll check back later this Summer but to sum it up, they still need to stripe the BAT lanes the entire length of the route, they still needs to build the stations, setup signal priority on the signals, test out the buses and equipment, etc.
So far though, BRT is still just a very glorified bus. CT has a lot of work to prove to people like myself, a normal bus and rail rider, that this service will stand out from the rest. I truly do hope for the best for this service but my initial impressions of this line is very, very, disappointing. I rather have seen the money go to the Everett Streetcar or ordering new and improved buses.