[UPDATE: What I should have pointed out is that it’s actually the city — through Bridging the Gap funds — that’s deciding where to put these BAT lanes and other road improvements.  In classic Puget Sound disconnected decision-making, that may not be where Metro ends up deciding to put the bus line.]

Metro just released the first detailed information on the RapidRide D Line, running from Downtown Seattle to Ballard and scheduled to open in 2012.

They’re looking at both 15th and  24th Avenue routings in Ballard, and are open to suggestions on what to do north of 85th Street.  The comment deadline is February 25.

The corridor not chosen will get more 15/15X or 18/18X service, whichever is applicable.

Key Features:

  • 10 minute headways before 7 pm, 15 minutes till 10pm, less afterwards.
  • Off-board payment to speed stops.
  • Road improvements, such as bus bulbs, transit signal priority, and business access and transit (BAT) lanes.

Given that 15th Avenue is slated to have road improvements and 24th isn’t, the former seems like a no-brainer to me.

We’ve covered the A, B, and C lines extensively in the past, which cover Pacific Highway South, NE 8th St in Bellevue, and West Seattle.   The E line, which we don’t know much about, will go up Aurora.

The other big BRT project is Community Transit’s Swift, which I discussed here.  More recently, Brian checked up on Swift.

20 Replies to “First Details on Ballard RapidRide”

  1. With so much service from downtown to Uptown already (1, 2, 2X, 13, 15, 15X, 18, 18X, a nearby monorail, and a future streetcar), is it really necessary for this Ballard RapidRide to detour to Uptown? It seems like it could shave somewhere between 5 to 10 minutes off its schedule if it stayed on Denny, then continued on Western and then Elliott, completely bypassing Uptown, or lower Queen Anne, as I still call it.

  2. Well, the 15/15X or 18/18X would go away, so there’d be less service to that neighborhood.

  3. I thought the plan for the viaduct replacement called for a transit only contraflow lane on Queen Anne north of Denny(?) Is this plan flexible to respond to that possibility

    1. Yes, since that contra-flow lane would be on Queen Anne Ave N, as I recall. And it probably won’t happen soon since the new Viaduct tunnel doesn’t fund it.

  4. Looking at it again, I was hoping that TPTB would try to solve the issue of the jog from third to first in belltown that is presently used by the 2,13, and 1. Isn’t there any way to get a transit-only left turn light from third avenue (heading north) to Denny? Maybe they are concerned about backups on Denny even if you could turn left?

  5. Good point, and besides, that’s not even up for discussion. They want people’s thoughts on 15th vs 24th. I don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other. I would imagine people who live in Ballard would probably prefer it to go up 24th, so that it cuts through and stops in what many people consider to be the heart of Ballard, the area around Market and Leary. But then again, it is called Rapid Ride.

    1. I’d rather it go up 24th since it should directly serve that “heart of Ballard” area. But 15th wouldn’t kill me, either.

      1. Actually, I just read this page: http://transit.metrokc.gov/up/sc/plans/2009/012009-burr-station.html

        It seems Metro prefers 15th, but for good reason. BAT lanes. Not residential lanes. And (frankly) no bike lanes. 15th is pretty close to the commercial core.

        As far as going through Lower Queen Anne (“Uptown”, whoever calls it that) and Belltown: yep, let’s do it. We’re not just serving Ballard, we’re serving three dense neighborhoods. That’s smart transit planning.

  6. I like the 15th alignment more, since it seems more straight-forward. Doesn’t serve downtown ballard, but it’s only a short walk away.

  7. I think you have to consider how much faster the BRT service will be. If it’s fast enough that it makes sense to take about 10 minutes to walk an extra seven or nine blocks (often in the rain) instead of taking the local bus that stops much closer to your doorstop, then I’d run it up 15th. People will walk over from 24th and 8th to use it and the spacing between 15th and the other BRT line on Aurora covers the neighborhoods better.

    But if it’s not fast enough to make the walk worthwhile, then I’d compare the ridership numbers for the 15 and the 18 and use the alignment with the highest current ridership. (I live in Crown Hill, but I don’t commute downtown, so I have no clue which is more used). Because in this scenario most of the ridership is going to have a point of origin that is within about 5 blocks of the route, so you want the route with the higher demand to better serve the area and make the BRT successful.

    What I’d really love to see is better East/West service. The dead zone between the 48 and the 44 keeps a lot of people in their cars, and the 75 is on my personal hate list for being slow, circuitous and having a layover at Northgate.

  8. My question is why the heck will this take another 3 years to get going? We passed this bill two years ago right? And a lot of 15th already has the lanes and signage up. Seems inefficient to pass a nice bill like this and then make people wait 5 years when there aren’t any bridges being built or massive investments in new equipment, like light rail cars.

    I’m all for better transit, but Seattle’s snail pace just kills my enthusiasm.

    1. Partly because King County is flat broke, partly because the federal contribution takes a really long time to show up.

  9. I would suggest 15th mostly because it would facilitate an extension north to Northgate where it could connect with Link. Northgate is an Urban Center with lots of retail, job and housing growth, and given its proximity to Ballard, I would suspect there is a fair amount of demand in that direction. Also, Ballard is a destination, not just an origin. When you combine the retail core of downtown Ballard with the industrial jobs located in Interbay and on the Leary corridor (which may get a streetcar eventually) and I think you may see people getting on Link from the north, riding to Northgate, then transferring to Rapid Ride to get to Ballard. A sizable amount of residential development is also planned for Northgate, and Northgate is a hub for a lot of local bus routes and a park-and-ride. All of this adds up to a pretty large potential pool of people at least some of whom will likely be headed to Ballard/Interbay.

    BTW, a couple numbers:

    Downtown Ballard has about 5,000 jobs, Interbay (including the Leary Corridor) has about 15,000 as of 2002. That’s about 20,000 total, and more growth is planned. For comparison, Downtown Bellevue has 30,000 jobs. Northgate has only 11,000 as of 2002.

    1. Good idea, but I’ll bet you they don’t have the money to get to Northgate. If you run RR on a signficant stretch of unimproved road at the beginning of the route, you’ll get platooning.

  10. I think 15th would be better for now, as it would be faster, and north of downtown Ballard there are more destinations on 15th than on 24th. But if we ever get light rail up there, I would want it to go into a tunnel after an elevated stop at Dravus and jog over to downtown Ballard for the stop, then go back to 15th to stop at 65th and 85th before going on to stop at 105th & Aurora, Northgate, and Lake City.

    1. When it comes to light rail, the straighter the line, the better. Zig-zagging all over the place defeats its purpose. That’s what bus routes are for.

    2. I agree with sam’s comment that a jog into ballard would for light rail would cause problems. I think you make a good point though about future light rail on this corridor. My question is, if this is supposed to be BRT, why on earth does it stop every 1/4 mile, when Light Rail, it’s obvious successor, stops every mile at most? This rapid ride line should stop ONLY where eventual light rail stops will be. That’s one of the biggest advantages of light rail: limited stop spacing substantially improves travel time. Imagine how ineffective Link would be if it stopped every quarter mile.

      BRT should behave exactly like light rail eventually will. Then, Light Rail becomes a simple version upgrade. If we pick the stations now and space them appropriately, density can begin to cluster around what will ultimately become a light rail. All of the principles of TOD still apply. In fact, by building the TOD around the BRT stops, which are exactly where the light rail stops will be, you quickly ramp up demand and increase the political will to upgrade sooner.

      1. I hear you Tony, but every 5 blocks is less frequent than most Metro service. With off-board payment the time penalty for stopping won’t be as high as it is now.

        Furthermore, I think Metro is trying to make sure that BRT is complimentary with any light rail solution in the corridor. If they end up covering the same turf, RapidRide would be the “local” while LINK stations, 1 mile+ apart, would be the “express”. That’s the concept along Pacific Highway, at least, which is going to have both RR and LINK in about 10 years.

  11. I would prefer the 15th ave route as well. But I am concerned that I would lose my 15X. The BRT route is essentially the 15 local route if they choose 15th. It will never be as fast as the 15X.

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