RapidRide Schedule - Inside via VeloBusDriver

Metro isn’t hosting any opening day festivities for RapidRide service so we want to organize a group ride as a fun way of celebrating the first day of RapidRide service.

We’ll target for a departure time of 10:00 am from Tukwila International Blvd Station. Meet at the bus layover area directly below the Link platform. If you take Link there either catch the 9:08 or the 9:18 train leaving from Westlake Station. The first train will give you some mingling/photo taking time before the bus leaves. We’ll take RapidRide down to the Federal Way Transit Center bum around for a bit, and then you can either take RapidRide/Link back downtown or ST 577.

We’ll be tweeting the whole time so check out our twitter account on Saturday. Also make sure to bring your camera to document the event and add your photos to the new RapidRide flickr pool. All rides on RapidRide this weekend will be free.

76 Replies to “RapidRide A Line Opening Day Ride”

  1. I’ve been concerned about RapidRides rollout for some time now, and haven’t had much luck getting any answers from their blog moderator. http://rapidride.wordpress.com/2010/09/13/how-will-rapidride-get-you-there-faster/#comments (even did a knock, knock, Is anyone home post?)
    One of the best ways to shave time off a route is signal pre-emption. They say up to 20 intersections will get the equipment, but not how many at startup, or when the others may happen.
    My other question was the protocol for pre-empting a signal. Does every bus get to hold the green or shorten the red, OR just the ones that are behind schedule?
    It seems the times will not be much different than the 174 to start with, and no where close to shaving 30% off the 174 run times.
    If RapidRide is hugely successful, then Link benefits directly. OTOH, a half hearted implementation sends the wrong message. “Same old crappy, smelly, bus than inches along Pac Hwy – Ride the bus? – No way” The people that make those kind of comments are the very ones transit should be sucking up to. Quick clean buses that feed a new light rail system would really be something!
    I hope Metro is ‘game on’ for RapidRide.

      1. I’d agree with your comment if Metro had plans to reduce headway in the future. But, yeah, making the route faster is more important, by a factor of two, unless the buses are overwhelmed by the ridership.

      2. Internal chatter suggests that the new GPS being rolled out will help enforce coaches staying exactly 10 minutes (or 15 minutes) apart.

      3. @ Tim. What? I don’t get it. From my understanding these systems cant be “semi-automatic” unless you have someone sitting the the control center telling drives to slow down or leave terminals early. And how does the TSP fit in. Is a TSP request always accepted or only if the bus is “late”. So many question.

      4. Semi-automatic in that the system will track the coaches, and the control center will communicate with operators to speed up/slow down/whatever.

        I’m not really sure, I’m getting this info by word of mouth.

      5. I can imagine a controller telling a driver to slow down, but NEVER telling them to drive faster. That’s a huge liability on the controller IF there’s an accident. It’s more plausible to just let the slow-pokes set the pace, and have everyone else march behind them.

      6. I can imagine a controller telling a driver to slow down, but NEVER telling them to drive faster.

        It happens daily now. They don’t say “speed up”, they say “blank your signs and do drop off only” to get them back on schedule.

      7. “I can imagine a controller telling a driver to slow down, but NEVER telling them to drive faster.”

        Assuming signal preemption is under the control of the driver, this would allow us to speed up safely – assuming there are enough signals to be preempted. Other than that, blank signs and drop-off only can speed you up a bit, unless you are packed to the gills. At that point, you’re stopping at every stop anyway.

  2. If I’m reading the brochure properly, they aren’t giving riders a timetable nor telling them when the buses will depart the endpoints except between 10pm and 4am. That’s BS. Labeling it “Frequent Service” and saying the bus is coming every 15 minutes but no schedule isn’t rider-friendly. Maybe some people want to come at a random time, but others would like to time their arrivals to when the bus comes.

    I’m taking this from the photo in the posting. If there is a full schedule, I remove my criticism, but every photo I’ve seen makes it look like they’re just going to tell you “every 10 mins” or “every 15 mins” without giving a schedule. The schedule is still there, you just can’t see it. That’s BS.

    1. They have some printed material that one Metro employee referred to as “timetables” but they weren’t allowed to hand them out at last week’s event at Highline.

      Sadly, I’m afraid that the photo above from VeloBusDriver is what she was referring to. They were marketing that RR would be great for students at Highline Community College since they won’t have to deal with parking. While that’s true, bus fares for a quarter (academic quarter, that is) will be higher than parking ($42/quarter).
      And don’t forget–there are always spots in Highline’s West parking lot.

    2. Every 10 mins and no schedule is fine with me as long as they provide the real-time arrival info but 15 minutes is on the borderline.

      From the run cards it appears that RapidRide will have clock face headways, that is buses will depart the terminals on the 10s, 20s or 15s 30s, etc.

      1. We had this issue a year ago with Link – why on earth cannot a printed timetable be produced for the benefit of the traveling public? Link did it for a year, but now I see they are no longer included in the ST schedule book. Sad that the transit agencies make assumptions that people don’t mind waiting around in the cold and rain and that they do not have connections to make.

      2. Yeah, the “schedule” provided in the book is just stupid and useless. You’d think a printed book would provide much more information over the limited info at stations.

      3. Especially when the outreach people at Highline were telling students that they could use it to get to class–the fact that it comes every 10 minutes doesn’t mean anything to me–I don’t want to be late to my 8am class.

        (Though when I was going there, there was still plenty of parking by 8am. The lots usually filled up by 8:30. I ended up getting a carpool permit).

      4. Agreed. There is a long list of bus routes that currently run at sub-15 minute frequencies (i.e., 48, 3, 4, 7, 36) all of which currently have detailed schedules.

        I have concluded that RR-A is Metro’s test bed for future technologies. They are leaving the scheduled duration the same as the 174 for this shake-up, in order to test out the schedule impacts of all the improvements in real-world situations (without making any promises on speed). Lessons learned on RR-A will be tweaked and applied on the other rapid ride routes, and eventually be mainstreamed onto all core routes.

      5. In my opinion 7-minute headways is the point at which you don’t need a schedule. If you include a robust real-time arrival system you can go up to 10-12 minutes. Headways longer than that are just too long.

      6. 7-10 minutes would be about right. When I was in San Francisco I never looked at a schedule (none were posted anyway) and relied on the nextbus displays at many sheltered stops.

      7. I have concluded that RR-A is Metro’s test bed for future technologies

        Exactly. The whole off-board payment (did I mention off board payment will only be allowed from 6a to 7p? Well, the readers will still be hot after 7p, but you’re gonna have to get on at the front door and pay again) is an experiment for Metro. Depending on how well it works, they’ll change it.

      8. I read the “trial fare system” as we (as in Metro) don’t want to pay for fare inspectors, and after running this system we’ll be able to show it only saves a few minutes per run so we are going to get rid of it. That is my gut reaction.

      9. The extreme is actually the 41. From 7AM till 8:30AM inbound, and 4:30 PM till 5:30 PM outbound, the 41 runs with headways of less than 5 minutes. I believe that this is the shortest headway of any Metro bus route by far, even the combined 71/72/73. And yes, the schedule includes all of these times.

        Honestly, it seems silly to me to do so — when the bus comes every 4 minutes, do you really care whether it’s at 8:01 or 8:03? But if we’re going to have a detailed schedule for the peak hours of the 41, we might as well be consistent and have one for the less-frequent Link.

      10. @ Aleks I’ll be posting about schedule design. I have a good number of examples and it would be nice to put them out for everyone to see.

      11. @Aleks Yeah, the 41 is awesome. 4 minutes at its tightest. Next closest is 48 at 6 minutes and 590 at 5 minutes with a handful of routes under 10. Check out the links to the service frequency tables here

      12. And on the 41, I don’t understand why there are so many “runners” in the tunnel in the afternoon. Or why operators wait 15 seconds for the runners.

      13. “… operators wait 15 seconds for the runners.”


        Drivers who wait for runners in the tunnel when buses are stacked up should be issued PRs. Open your doors, when everybody is on and off in the immediate area of the bus, close your doors and go. Watch that runners not get into a position that they can injure themselves but keep going.

        That said, I wait for runners when I can do it without delaying other buses. But you’re going to hear a lecture about all the injuries I’ve seen or the fatalities I’ve heard about – at least one of which was in the tunnel. Seriously, running for a bus is a really bad idea.

    3. I could not find a full schedule either, but I tested the trip planner using the terminal stations as the depart and arrive locations to see what they are projecting the overall trip time would be during rush hour. I suppose you could derive a full schedule using the trip planner if you wanted to invest the time.

      1. How did you get the trip planner to produce that schedule? I don’t see anywhere that I can give it a time span, even in the so-called advanced interface. Do you need to give it a magic URL?

      2. Thanks Tim. Notice the trip times are nearly identical to the current 174 trip times. That’s why I started asking question about signal pre-emption. IF RR-A is going to be 30% faster than the 174, then trip times have to get down from 45 minutes to nearly 30 minutes.
        The run cards have an estimated arrival time at the end terminal. All it takes is one driver to try to hit the published timepoints listed on the run card, and everyone else will have to follow suit to maintain constant headways.

      3. So Metro has a complete schedule and they are hiding it from riders? I can kind of understand they want to see real world performance, but via trip planner, they are telling people to show up at a certain time, so what’s the point? They can always issue a revised schedule if it turns out to operate faster than they expected.

      4. I wonder if the issue is that they don’t want to be held to the schedule if they are running early. A printed schedule implies sitting around at timepoints when things are fast.

      5. @Carl No there really isn’t a schedule. Read the comments above. If you look at the run cards, everything north of Kent/Des Moines road is an “estimated timepoint” on northbound trips, and vice versa on SB.

        And how would Metro distribute these “revised” schedules? What if I picked one up on 10/1 but never rode the bus until 12/1, and kept my old schedule with me, followed Metro’s instructions of being at the stop 5 minutes early, and had to wait 15 minutes for a bus? They don’t do that, and more importantly, Metro is promoting headways over a schedule.

      6. Tim – trip planner gives you a time to pick up RRA, that’s a schedule.

        They can update the on-line timetables, they can put up signs in the buses that the schedule changed, they can put a note in the timetable that it’s and estimated time and the bus won’t wait. Metro publishes schedules for other new routes it introduces, and it uses estimated timepoints now.

        As someone else said, every 15 minutes is not a service frequency for which I want to show up at a random time and wait. I’d like to know when to expect it, and time my walk to the stop. Even every 10 minute service, if I know it takes me 4 minutes to get to the stop, then I leave 6 minutes before when it normally arrives.

        If service is every 5 minutes, no timetable needed. But for 10 minute or 15 minute headways, there should be a published schedule. I hate that Link seems to think they won’t publish a schedule anymore, either. It’s the wrong trend. Even NYC subways have a published schedule, as does virtually every transit system in Europe.

      7. @Carl I don’t disagree that RR needs a timetable (see my various points above) but just because the Trip Planner lists a time does not mean it’s an exact time. Try planning a trip that has an estimated timepoint in the middle (for example transferring to another route after hitting one of the last stops on freeway express service). The trip planner gives an exact time but does not mention that the bus could be 10 minutes early or 10 minuets late. An example is using the 197 to get to Star Lake Park & Ride and transferring to the 152 to get to Auburn. The trip planner usually suggests a 15 minute wait, though you might wait anywhere between 0 and 30 minutes since both coaches hit that stop at an estimated time.

      1. I like that they did this but the fact that they say “5-10 minutes” or “10-15 minutes” makes it completely pointless.

    1. The highlight of the Oct. 2 service change is the debut of RapidRide “A Line,” which replaces Route 174 between the Federal Way Transit Center and Tukwila International Boulevard Link light rail station. On Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 2 and 3, all trips will be free on the A Line.

  3. Will Metro continue its grand tradition of bus connectivity to high capacity transit by moving the regular bus stops a couple blocks away from the RapidRide stops?

  4. I’m still bummed that there’s a stop every few blocks. Four stops between 200th and 224th is kind of nuts for something that’s trying to be BRT. CT’s Swift is much better in that regard.

    1. That’s an average of about 27 MPH; not very rapid at all. Of course, Central Link’s 17.3 mile journey officially takes 37 minutes which means an average of about 28 MPH. Link isn’t that much faster than RapidRide, but has wider station spacing making it feel faster.

      What Link does have is the ability to go past cars on what is mostly its own ROW, so the standard deviation of Link’s trip should be much smaller.

      1. Central Link is 15.6 miles long and takes 37 minutes, equalling a 25.3 mph average speed.

        In comparison with other rail rapid transit systems: NYC Subway 17.4 mph, Chicago L 22.3 mph, Skytrain 28 mph, Singapore MRT 28 mph, BART (2nd fastest in the U.S.) 33.1 mph

    2. Check your map John. It’s only 11.6 miles, so that’s less than 16 mph – making Link look like HSR.

    3. Nope, you’re not reading it right. The schedule ballparks it between 35 and 55 minutes. Metro has no idea how much TSP and deleted stops is going to speed things up or how much the new fare payment will slow things down, so they’re playing it safe with the scheduling.

      1. You’re still not getting it John. There is no schedule. There is a provisional timing, but they don’t know how long it will take.

      2. John, according to your link it’s 15 minutes by car if you take I-5. I hardly think that’s a fair comparison. If you take 99, like this it’s 11.0 miles, 23 minutes by car.

        At 9am the 174 is scheduled to do that same run in about 42 minutes. Considering all the changes being made to expedite the route, ball-parking the end-to-end time at 35-55 minutes seems reasonable. There will probably be some kinks to work out in the first few days that could lead to longer trips, but I assume it would settle out eventually to something at the faster end of the range.

      3. @John please use a URL shortener when you have urls any longer than 20-30 characters. Thanks.

    4. Does the average speed include the time stopped at stations and decelerating/accelerating? It must be if the average speed is so slow, because I don’t see it poking along at 28 mph on MLK. When people drive they don’t calculate their speed by counting the time spent at stoplights. So the number is kind of misleading and makes transit look really bad.

  5. You nerds be careful out there. Federal Way is not Redmond. Pac Highway is not highway 520. The Federal Way TC is not the OTC.

    1. I’ve lived here for over 20 years. We’ll be fine with expensive cameras in a big group. Alone, maybe not. Either way, it’s (slightly) safer than the greater Downtown Seattle.

  6. One thought that’s been overlooked in all the RR-A discussions so far (myself included), is that there will be far fewer people on each bus. Ridership takes years or decades to ‘mature’ on a route. Essentially, the same number of transit riders are going to split between twice as many buses in the beginning years. (Also transit performance metrics all suffer from being halved).
    So, it takes time to board and alight passengers. With only half as many on a bus, as the 174, and 3 doors to do it through, it should go way faster than the current schedule. I don’t understand Metro’s ‘timidity’ over publishing a realistic schedule.

  7. I just wonder what the difference between “Stop” and “Station” is. If the A Line still needs to serve bus stops as many as the route 174 does, why does KCM open the A Line? I don’t think there is any necessary changing 174 to the A Line if it still serves 50 stops in one way.

    1. Stations have ORCA card readers to pay before boarding and they have information displays that show the next bus times. They also have large shelters, and more seats. Stops are more like a plain bus stop with a sign and a seat but no shelter and less amenities. The A Line has less stops than the 174.

    2. On the B (Bellevue line), the “stops” are those that often don’t have any people waiting and at most one or two. So they shouldn’t hold up the bus much. However, some people have said the A stops will get more people, so we’ll have to see.

  8. It appears that we are using one car consists on Link both Saturday 10/2 and Sunday 10/3. All information at OMF indicates this as of 1am 10/2 despite several events on both days (sounder and mariner games and Rapid Ride debut).

    I hope this is a typo on the bulletin posted Friday 10/1 but there were nearly enough LRVs uncoupled in the storage yard for a Saturday sign out when this operator pulled in for the evening.

    Plan accordingly in case this is accurate – I hope that the Rapid Ride roll-out isn’t affected and everyone going to and from downtown events (or the regular airport passengers) get to where they need to go without too much inconvenience. Maybe someone with more responsibility than me knows that ridership will be low and no overcrowding will occur.

    I wonder which special events will warrant multi LRV consists for Link service from now on.

    Looking forward to reporting for work this afternoon!

    1. Sounder will be providing service to the Sounders’ match from both directions:


      I hope we haven’t been too hard here on RapidRide and scared Metro out of the first-weekend promoting. I’ll be trying the A out (though perhaps not at 10 am, as I plan to be at the match).

      I wish the A well. Despite our ability to over-analyze the details to death on this blog, I have some faith that Metro really does have a plan, and that some of the things we’ve pointed out here as appearing nonsensical may actually be experimentation.

      I’ll try to be there at 10 am, but then head the other way. Is anybody bringing a “Where’s Norman?” sign?

    2. This is a serious ST FAIL. I arrived back home about an hour ago from the Rapid Ride STB ride, and yes there are one car “trains” operating on the day of a Sounders game. Jam packed at TIB, even more packed along MLK. Somebody at ST made a serious public relations mistake, and hopefully Ms Earl will call that individual on the carpet for it. Maybe even trot out some two car trains for after the game???

      1. Yeah, they did. I sat at SODO station around 15:00 and watched three trains go by SB and two NB. Every other one was a two car train. However service was running at about 5 minute headways, so overcrowding wasn’t too much of an issue. Definitely standees on all trains, but not terrible.

        At Mount Baker, the operator waited for the shot clock to get to 5:15 before departing.

  9. Well……
    Not as smooth an opening as we might have liked – incomplete stations, barely audible or absent automated announcements, but nice coaches and it was great to see bloggers and blog groupies!

  10. So how’s the A line? I am stuck out of town for the weekend. I’m looking forward to riding starting Monday. Any first thoughts?

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