[UPDATE: More info on the revenue source at the bottom.]
Earlier this week, while reporting on the 2010 King County Transportation Budget proposal, Martin reported that Metro is in the early stages of planning a sixth Rapid Ride route, the F Line. Information on the five other lines can be found here. We followed up and got some basic details, discussed after the jump.
- It will replace the existing KC Metro route 140 which already has planned route changes in February 2010. Route changes will increase the speed of service and better connect it to Link, Metro routes that serve the station and the A Line. This will be achieved by eliminating service to Seatac, making service more direct and keeping buses on arterial streets.
- It will have 10 stations with 15-20 enhanced and normal stops for a spacing of about every 1/2 mile.
- Stations will be located at:
- Burien Transit Center
- South 156th Street & 1st Avenue South
- Tukwila International Boulevard Link Light Rail Station
- Southcenter Boulevard & 62nd Avenue South
- Southcenter (on street at Andover Park West/Baker Blvd)
- Tukwila Sounder Commuter Rail Station
- South Renton Park & Ride
- SW Grady Way & Powell Avenue SW
- Rainier Avenue South & S 3rd Street
- Renton Transit Center
- Weekday frequency: 10 minutes peak, 15 minutes midday & early evening, and 30 minutes night (currently every 15 minute with service quickly dropping off after 6ish).
- Weekend frequency: 15 minutes throughout the day and 30 minutes in the evening and at night (currently 30 minutes all day).
- Service span will be increased to midnight.
- Cost is $34 million. Roughly half of this will go to bus procurement, with the remaining spent on fiber optic communication, TSP, stations etc.
I briefly spoke to Victor Obeso, Manager of Service Development, who was able to share more detailed information about the F Line, particularly how Metro views Rapid Ride and the history that lead up to the decision to enhance the route 140 to Rapid Ride level.
- The 5.5% property tax that Interim Executive Kurt Triplett proposed has enough revenue to fund this additional Rapid Ride line.
- Route 140 was one of about 20 lines that were initially evaluated before the 2007 Transit Now initiative for Rapid Ride treatment. It ranked high in this preliminary evaluation. Years before, in 1996, the 140 was identified as a “core route” by Metro. Core routes are those that form the backbone of Metro’s service and should have more frequent, all day service.
- The 140 currently carries 3,640 daily riders, up 22% from two years ago.
- Route 140 was targeted for improvements in 2002, 2005, and 2007. However suburban routes like it needed significant investments to bring them up this service level. Since then service investments have been made that now make this enhancement possible.
- Initial estimates are the F Line would need an additional 18,000 annual service hours. The more direct (read efficient) route will help metro meet this additional need compared to the current route 140.
- I asked Victor to define how he sees Rapid Ride, he said that “[Metro is] trying to apply the best elements of local arterial transit, into a package and marketing it as Rapid Ride”.
- Detailed design solutions for increasing speed will be looked at in the future during a detailed corridor analysis but that is several years away. A significant part of Rapid Ride projects is to build the communication infrastructure that is needed for real-time information and Transit Signal Priority. For this project Metro will need to work with four different cities and possibly WSDOT.
What this says to me is that in the long term Metro will continue to transition higher frequency, arterial based routes to the RapidRide brand. RapidRide is no longer a one off proposition. A RR/Link system map (.pdf) is here.
UPDATE: Martin here. I just found this Sep. 3 letter from the Executive (.doc) that explains where the money came from:
I felt RapidRide F was an important complement to the new east/west Urban Partnership service across State Route 520 that would be implemented with the first penny of the property tax as required by state law. However, based on the King County Assessor’s preliminary reports of 2010 assessed valuations, this would not have been possible without using at least 6.5 cents per thousand of the transit property tax levy. I was unable to fund this southern RapidRide and keep my plan tax neutral at 5.5 cents per one thousand of assessed value. Therefore I made the difficult choice of dropping this potential route.
I am pleased to report that the Assessor has provided updated assessed value information that will result in slightly more revenue for every cent levied. Through further evaluation and refinement of this concept, assumptions about potential federal dollars for this sixth RapidRide and the recently revised estimates of property tax revenue I have now found a way to make this new RapidRide F line work. More importantly, we can add this route while remaining within my original 5.5 cent property tax proposal and without raising fares beyond my initial 2011 increase. I am looking forward to providing the Council and the region with more information about this exciting service in the next few weeks and months.