RapidRide A (Metro)

RapidRide has of course been in the works for a long time, but the King County Council last week formally approved the October 2nd Metro service change, which eliminates the venerable route 174 and replaces it with RapidRide A from TIB station to the Federal Way Transit Center.

The BRT-lite features of RapidRide are dependent on both the largesse of host cities (for transit lanes) and the availability of funds in Metro’s budget for stuff like ticket vending machines.  What we do know is that the A line will have at least 15 minute headways between 4:15am and 10pm, 7 days a week.  There will be longer headways through 1:30am and a couple of night owls.

Other changes:

  • extend all-day service on Route 200 to Issaquah Highlands and the Talus Urban Village.  This Transit Now “urban partnership” leverages funds from the City of Issaquah and various community organizations.  This will begin no earlier than February 2011, pending final agreement.  As recently as December this wasn’t going to happen.
  • implement revised routing for Route 903, for which there was a public comment earlier, in October 2010.
  • new route 910 and revised route 919, serving the Auburn Sounder station, in October 2010.

30 Replies to “RapidRide A, other Fall Service Changes Now Official”

  1. South Park remains envious of a direct ride to TIBS (after the bridge is closed and we lose access to the 124). It’s not just for light rail, but for the RapidRide Line A, too.

    Please cut the duplicative 122 and 123 (since the 121 already provides excellent headway from Burien to downtown Seattle), extend the 139 across Riverton to Highline Medical Center and TIBS, and let the 132 stay on Military Rd S the last mile to TIBS to link South Park and north Boulevard Park with the great expanse of South King County. Renumber the 132 from Burien south, or scrap it in favor of short routes to the Line A and future Link stations, since the 131 serves the 1st Ave S corridor well. This should end up as a net savings to Metro. Please, Metro, listen to our neighborhood.

  2. I guess Metro is planning a really ‘soft-launch’ of Rapid Ride because official information on their website is A) Non-existant, or B) So Obscure, that only Homeland Security Specialist can find it being smuggled into King County.
    I tried the scrolling banners 1 thru 6, and got stuff on ‘transit coaches’ and i-phone apps, but nada on Rapid Ride.
    Maybe the A-Z index would help? A, for A-line? or R, for Rapid-Ride?.. Nope.
    How about under proposed changes. Naw.
    Projects? Not there either. Humm… Maybe STB is now the Official Site for Transit.

    1. Don’t worry Mike. We’re just putting out feelers to see how the Magnolia Community Club reacts to news that cars will be kicked out of some lanes on Pacific Highway S. If they can go ballistic on pedestrian safety improvements on Nickerson St in Queen Anne, what’s to stop them from interfering with bus lanes — which they strongly oppose — in South King County?

    2. So I went to google and found all the bus stops for the 174. There’s 36 between TIBS and FWTC, or 4.5 blocks apart, or 1485 ft apart. That’s a pretty good shag!
      RapidRide will reduce that to 12 Rapid stops and 12 old style flag stops, for an average of 2600 feet between, with no intermediate ‘local’ service to fill in the voids, like SWIFT does. That seems like the biggest downside to this – less access.
      But, more service is on the way. Every 10 to 15 minutes. Better than the 174’s 15 to 30 minute headways.
      I tried in vain to find out on the Metro website how fast RapidRide would be over the plodding 174’s 9 mph average speed between TIBS and FWTC. As the name implies, I’m guessing it’s faster…. (Does anyone here know?)
      So, double the service hours (and costs), and 2/3 of the stops, and a little faster works out to what….
      More Riders (maybe)
      Less Cost per Rider (Doubt it)
      Faster Trip for some riders (absolutely)
      Maybe someone could tell me I’m full of crap, and it will all be wonderful.

      1. More Security (almost certainly)
        Signs Announcing Next Bus’s Arrival Time (yep) — on this one, I have to hand it to Metro for showing up ST, for once
        Lower Emissions (claimed)
        Better Experience for Wheelchairs (I’ll believe it when I see it)
        Fewer Million Dollar Lawsuits Over Slippery Steps (seems likely to me) — which reminds me, even BRT operators have a responsibility to summon EMS in a timely manner, and that might occasionally put a bus out of service
        Ability of other buses to continue if one is out of service (Oh yeah)

      2. “Better Experience for Wheelchairs (I’ll believe it when I see it)”

        100% low-floor kneeling buses with automatic ramp extension? If you haven’t got those on regular bus routes, then it will be a better experience for wheelchairs….

  3. Will the route change in ten years when the link stations south of the airport open up? It seems like they might be slightly duplicitive.

    1. The sad thing about A is it looks like the highway 99 bus before Swift was launched, with stops every eight blocks. However, that also shows why A will have to remain even after Link. Link already skips the green stops between 154th (TIB) and 176th (Airport). The stations after that are 200th, 240th (Highline CC), and 272nd (Redondo). That’s 2+ miles between stations, or too far for most people to walk. Plus, it would be silly to have A go to the end of Link and then a gap with no bus to TIB: what will people do at night after Link shuts down?

      1. I’m guessing once South Link opens then they’ll put back the (not many) stops that were cut for this. Link will be way faster than RapidRide along that stretch, so people won’t use RapidRide for long distances anymore. Then, it won’t matter if the bus along the 99 is fast, it just needs to serve as a good feeder service. So basically, RapidRide A will last for about 10 years before being brought back to being just like the 174.

    2. Some sort of local service will be needed between Federal Way and TIBS even once Link reaches Star Lake. The Link stops are very widely spaced. Rapid Ride can provide that service.

    3. I’d expect agency resistance to altering the route between Federal Way Station and the south terminus of Link (wherever it is at any given time). But it shouldn’t make that big of a difference to add more stops north of the Link terminus, as long as cost does not go up significantly.

  4. I pray that as routes are eliminated or altered in favor of shifting riders to light rail and BRT that travel times will decrease as opposed to increase which has been the result thus far. The frequent delays and difficulties with LINK operation have been extremely disappointing..say if the next line increases the travel time by an amount equal to or exceeding the increase in westlake-seatac duration (not including the 6-8 additional minutes it takes to walk from the LINK terminal to the airport terminal) then my fear that Americans cannot build effective rapid transit systems may be founded.

    We have a huge opportunity in Seattle–and i think the will is here for certain–to build an excellent regional, partially rapid transit system capable of moving even the 15 year projected population around effectively. I fear we are missing some major marks as this youngish system has some serious flaws–and appears to be continuing on that path with lack of reliable LINK data, performance, and even to go as far as to plan the removal of the Montlake Flyer stops which i used twice a day a few years ago. To expect these busses to connect at the light rail station by the university LINK stop, then get back on 520, and not increase travel time, is naive. Its these kind of things that draw more people away from transit–the die-hard riders like myself even, then draw new riders.

    1. That’s why some of us are still trying to get the transit exit from 520 on a high bridge that won’t have to navigate general-purpose traffic, and will drop directly into UW Station, where it should take less than ten minutes to hop off the bus, go down the elevator, wait a couple minutes for Link, and then be in downtown.

      I don’t expect direct northeastside bus service to downtown to continue after UW Station is open, but that is up to ST.

    2. Link isn’t just for Downtown-SeaTac. It significantly reduced travel times for people in the Rainier Valley, where they need good transit a lot more. And although it increased travel times by 4-6 minutes over the 194, the 194 was frequently late, so Link’s reliability makes up for its worse scheduled travel times.

  5. Well now that would be exactly what she’s is talking about right? Having to get off one form of direct transit–ST BUS–and wait to get on LINK (which will take longer to make the trip downtown due to speed and an additional stop in CH).

    Its also definitely going to increase the travel time from the eastside to downtown by ~15 minutes due to bus-wait time-LINK connection. The buses stop at the flyer for 30 seconds or less. it will approx. 10 mintues for train deceleration, exiting and waiting/boarding for the bus.

    And based on what we have seen so far with transit station placement (Mt.Baker is a perfect example of this-awkward, time consuming (the bus should pull up directly in front of and behind the station, not across the street) hazardous, airport station–really too far away from the terminal–the rental car places and renters are rewarded for their actions by being so close to baggage claim, even with a future moving sidewalk I can get home to cap hill in 20 mins via car vs. 1.5 hour walking/bus/LINK combo)…..what makes anyone think that the current designs and limitations will encourage more transit use? I take go to redmond or woodinville every day by bus and as soon as it starts to take me 5-10 minutes longer i’m in the car, solidly.

    The new system must be faster and more reliable than what we currently have–nice sleek trains will not entice people to sacrifice more time. Even tolls will not shove people around that much. We are not building that reliable, awesome system we could be.

    All the more reason to demand (elevated, separated) light rail capability on 520 ASAP. To continue to design and build these stations and routes like we have been doing is a recipe for long term failure resulting in gridlock.

    1. As you probably know, I agree with making 520 light-rail ready. However, I’m not understanding your math. Once on U-Link, the trip downtown will be 6 minutes, with acceleration and deceleration accounted for.

      By running buses downtown, it will take more than twice as many buses to reach all the same eastside destinations, so frequency to UW will be much less than what it could have been.

      My math still says it is faster to get downtown by transfering at UW Station to U-Link (assuming the approach from 520 is unhindered by traffic) than to take a direct ride, even without factoring in the likelihood of a traffic jam on 520 or I-5.

      1. One of the biggest conearns i have with people on the ‘blog is a extreme willingness amongst those to “force” transfers from bus to link, solely based on the fact that light rail is there.

        There are cases, where yes it does make sense to re-align service around the new light rail options, and indeed eliminate duplicate service even if its replacement may not be as quick. However, there almost seems to be the attitude that every route, regardless of origon/destination should terminate at a link station and funnel its riders onto light rail.

        This may work for transfers farther out in the system, where you will have more then fifteen or twenty minutes of ride time on light rail, however it dosent make sense for say Capitol Hill-Downtown as the ride time is so short, and you have to cover the corridor either way. Now, as travel patterns naturally change because of light rail, its worth looking into, but not a forced affair.

        Another reason why forced transfers dont work now, is because of ORCA! Yes, something i have been saying all along is that those paying in cash need to have the same transfer rights as those paying their fare with the ORCA card. I have given the reasons in previous posts so i wont repeat them, but in order for any transfers to work we need to end this regressive fare policy, and go back to allowing intra-county cash transfers. Even if it means spending extra money on transfer printers, which will help eliminate the fraud from the cash fare riders.

      2. Z, you’re right for another reason too. It’s the 1/3-2/3 transfer rule. Once riders get within 1/3 of their trips distance to their destination, they are very resistant to changing modes. It’s the bird in the hand, two in the bush thing. There’s no real time advantage to finishing the last 1/3 of the trip on something faster.
        That’s why few people transfer from bus to Link at Rainier or Mt.Baker. Downtown is ‘just a little bit further’ so what’s the point.

      3. If all the northeastside bus routes terminate at UW Station, then yes, people will transfer, and quickly discover how much faster their commute has become. If buses bypass UW Station and head downtown, then yes, people will take the bus going downtown, ruining the frequency for those going to campus. Some will whine. Some will be happy that doubling the frequency into UW Station has given them wonderfully short headway on both legs of their trip.

        I guess we’ll have to let the eastsiders decide for themselves whether they want redundant service to downtown with long headway, and poor service to UW, or good short-headway service to both downtown and UW. If they want to wait a half hour for their bus and then sit in traffic on I-5, I guess we can’t stop them.

        If there is a place where truncation makes sense, this is it.

    2. I don’t know about your experiences, but the time it takes the 545 to get from downtown to Montlake is excruciating. It’s scheduled for 22 minutes in the middle of rush hour. I don’t see it on time too often either (ie unreliable). Give me a reliable 8 min ride to Montlake and a bus with 15 min head ways and your average time to the same spot has dropped from about 22 mintues to about 15 minutes. And that’s being very generous to the 545 and its timing at teh same time being very ungenerous to the time it takes Link to get to Montlake AND ST Express headways (they’re more likely to be 10 mins or less at that hour like the 545 is now). You’re more likely to see an avg of 10-12 minutes to get from the center of DT Seattle to being on your way east on 520.

    1. In order for the RapidRide Line D to truly be rapid, we’ll need to convince the powers that be to dedicate a lane to transit 24/7 on 15th Ave W/NW. With the Magnolia Community Club pulling every trick in the book to stop that from happening, it may be an uphill battle.

      1. Agreed. It seems like they are spending millions for RapidRide Line D for something marginally better than the current 15/18 route. Combined, those two routes already provide 5 to 15 minute headways from 6am to 2am, 7 days a week.

        What is RapidRide going to provide that isn’t already there? A slightly faster trip? There is only so much time can be saved with stop consolidation and paying fare at the stops. The worst part is we will be losing the service provided by the 18 on 24th in order to get this, which just happens to be where I live.

        I really hope that RapidRide isn’t seen as a acceptable substitute to the rapid transit service that the monorail was going to provide. We need some service that is completely separated from traffic. A dedicated lane on 15th would just barely meet that requirement.

        Personally I would rather they skip RapidRide, make some stop consolidation along the 15/18 routes, and take the money they are spending on RapidRide and put it toward a true rapid transit system instead.

      2. Exactly. This whole thing just feels like a big waste of money. Granted, it hasn’t even come online yet, but that’s what it feels like. I’m trying to be pragmatic here.

        There are so many ways Metro could have spent that money to increase quality of service on the entire system. Quality maps, increased frequency, better website, better signage… Ridiculous how far behind TriMet/TransLink we are in all those areas yet we need to waste money on these strange projects.

      3. Well, it’s enough money to buy all those buses, construct the shelters, etc. I don’t know how much money they’re collecting for this, but it was enough to require a public vote.

        I simply believe the money would have been better spent improving the overall system. It wouldn’t cost much to redesign the maps and get a good website. Then they could increase frequency on some routes that badly need it, not corridors that are imminent recipients of light rail service. I think that would have been possible.

      4. I’ll just add to that by saying:

        There are many things Metro can do to improve ridership and service quality on the system we have in place now. RapidRide is a gimmick.

      5. RapidRide was a separate federal grant from ST2 or any other capital project. So we either use it or lose it. The buses can later be deployed elsewhere in our hopefully expanding RapidRide network. I’m mainly concerned about the station/street enhancements: how much of them will be sunk costs if a later rail improvement can’t use them? (E.g., bus bulbs don’t benefit trains, and a train station may be up in the air above the bus station.)

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