On Monday, there was a groundbreaking ceremony at Everett Station for the northern terminal of Community Transit’s Swift BRT line. Everett Transit Director Tom Hingson, Community Transit CEO Joyce Eleanor, Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson, and Stan Suchan from WSDOT’s Office of Transit Mobility spoke at the ceremony.
Hingson spoke of the partnership between Everett Transit and Community Transit to streamline and reduce duplication of service on the SR 99 corridor. The increased service will provide traffic relief for everyone, including freight truck drivers, Hingson said. He also acknowledged engineering consultants, Perteet and IBI Group, among others, for their continual collaboration with the agencies during the design of Swift.
Eleanor was proud to say that Swift, to be Washington’s first BRT line, took only 4 years to get from concept to reality. Swift will begin service on November 30, 2009. She noted that the brand design (name, logo, etc.) was done in-house by Community Transit’s marketing department. She also announced that the project is coming in under budget at $29.5 million, down from the estimated $32 million, thanks to lower construction costs. The Everett terminal is located just south of the current bus loop, next to the pedestrian bridge to the east parking lot across the tracks, on city property that was designated for parking.
More after the jump, with some tidbits I learned.
Representatives from Community Transit, Everett Transit, and Sound Transit had information tables with goodies like Everett Transit matchbox buses and Paul Silvi Sound Transit/Everett Aquasox bobbleheads, Swift pens and reusable bags. Unfortunately, CT didn’t bring a Swift bus to display at the event. They said it was out for driver training. Over the weekend, they had the Swift bus on public display at the Taste of Edmonds. A CT rep said that thousands of visitors (9,000?) got to see the bus and were really excited about Swift. To paraphrase, they saw the buses and it just clicked with the stations they’ve been seeing on the street. “They’ve been asking about the service and when will it begin”, she said. The next opportunity to check out a Swift bus in person will be at the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe, August 29 and 30.
What I learned about Swift
Community Transit’s Swift page explains the basics. There are several things I learned from the event that was not described in detail on the website.
The 12 stations on the 17-mile line were consolidated from 50 existing local bus stops. It is not clear whether all service on SR 99 will be replaced by Swift. Otherwise, that would leave huge gaps between stations without transit service. Fares, same as regular CT service, will be collected off the bus with 2 ticket vending machines (a Parkeon Strada pay station) and 2 ORCA card readers at each station. Swift will use 15 New Flyer hybrid articulated buses (DE60LF-BRT) with three doors. Up to 3 bicycles can be brought onboard in the rear section of the buses (photo). A new rear-facing, passive restraint system (example from Vancouver and Swift’s) allows wheelchair users to quickly board and deboard the bus with little operator assistance. However, the ramp is still needed. There is no level boarding. I was told that the average dwell time per stop would be 12 seconds but they are currently working that out during driver training.
With those improvements, the agency expects a 20% travel time savings. After the event I took CT route 100 down to Aurora Village Transit Center. My travel time was an hour. If it were Swift, it would’ve taken 48 minutes, saving me 12 minutes. Then I took the 358 “Express”, which I nominate for worst Metro route ever, and arrived at 3rd & Pike 45 minutes later. The average speed for both trips was 16 mph (26 km/h). My quick visual progress check revealed that some stations are mostly completed and many are still concrete slabs. Only three months to go!