Photo by DWHonan

Community Transit reports that October 2010’s Swift ridership is up to about 3,500 boardings per weekday, out of a total corridor ridership of about 8,200 (Swift, CT 101, and Everett Transit 9). The corridor boarding figure counts each transfer as a new boarding, so a trip involving a transfer 101 to Swift is counted twice.

A 2004 CT study predicted 2,500 Swift boardings at this time and 4,000 in four years, so they’re ahead of their expectations. CT routes average about 20 riders per revenue hour, while Swift is at 25, compared to Metro‘s 48.2 in 2009. That’s in the ballpark of Metro’s East Subarea 2009 productivity of 29/hour.


Where do people board Swift? While every station has seen good activity, solidly a quarter of all boardings in either direction originate at the terminals of Everett Station and Aurora Village in Shoreline. Northbound, 216th Street by Stevens Hospital, 200th Street near Edmonds Community College and 148th Street are the next most popular boarding stations. Southbound, Casino Road, Pacific Avenue near the county campus and Airport Road are the next highest boarding stations.

According to CT data analyst Davis Hyslop, CT does not use automated passenger counter sampling like Metro or Sound Transit. For Swift, CT takes data from ORCA readers and ticket vending machines, and adds an estimate of flash pass boardings based off of manual surveys on random days. For other CT routes not based on fare inspectors, they use ORCA/farebox data plus manual operator record of flash passes.

74 Replies to “October 2010 Swift Ridership”

  1. It will be interesting to see any numbers from RapidRide. Both ends of Pacific Hwy have pretty consistently auto-oriented land uses, but there are long stretches of the A-Line where there’s absolutely nothing.

    1. I wonder if something would be gained if RapidRide E Line (Aurora Village to downtown) were implemented as an extension of Swift – agency coordination challenges notwithstanding – with through routing so you wouldn’t have to transfer at Aurora Village to continue on. Do a lot of people want to continue on SR 99 there? Is a line from Everett to downtown Seattle too long to run reliably?

      1. It wouldn’t matter. The Swift comes every 10 minutes and as long as the 358/E came every 10 minutes it would be just fine. They couldn’t coordinate meeting at Aurora at the same time because neither can keep time just driving down the street. Still I think a maximum of 10 minute wait at Aurora would be good. What the RapidRide E needs to do is speed up the Aurora to Seattle section. If they can find 10 minutes in the journey then from 148th street and 99 to Seattle would take the same time as 113/ST511.

      2. Why wouldn’t it matter? For people who want to go from Everett to DT Seattle, surely having a direct bus with 10-minute headways would be better than having to switch to another bus on the same street at the halfway point (and potentially having to wait in the cold/rain, especially if the bus is late).

        I’m rarely one to argue against connecting service, but in this case, it just seems silly. You’ve got one long road; run one long bus. Save connections for where they’re necessary

      3. Well, the 358 comes every fifteen minutes normally, but it’s close enough so that a wait is never that long based on my observation of Swift when I transfer to the 331 on the wait home.

      4. @Aleks It doesn’t matter because the transfer time is so small between the Swift and the 358 that you’re never standing outside more than a few minutes. In addition for those of us who live in the souther half of the Swifts run we also have the 101 at Aurora Village. If I’m going either way I just grab whatever bus comes first. I think on average having one bus run the whole length would save 5 minutes which isn’t enough out of an hour long ride to make a difference. Also the 358 is currently a more comfortable bus to be on. The seats in the Swift are quite poor.

  2. SWIFT is a great bus service, but I think it’s a shame it’s being wasted on this relatively low-ridership route. Why do you need a premium bus service between Everett and the Aurora Transit Center?

    SWIFT is what should have been built instead of Link light rail. They could have built 4 SWIfT-style routes for about $120 million instead of Central Link for $2.6 BILLION. One SWIFT route to replace the 194 to the airport, one to replace the 174, and two to replace the 42 and 42 Express, with some of those #42-route SWIFT buses going all the way to Tukwila and SeaTac.

    I think the Rapid Ride routes between Ballard and downtown and W. Seattle and downtown will have much higher ridership than SWIFT. I just wish those RapidRide routes had the same features as SWIFT.

    Both SWIFT and RapidRide seem like wasted opportunities to me: SWIFT because it is the wrong route for premium bus service; and RapidRide because the service is not nearly as good as SWIFT (also, the current RapidRide seems like a poor route for premium bus service, like SWIFT’s route is).

      1. You would operate an express bus for that trip between Everett and Seattle, obviously, just like you would run an express bus between downtown Seattle and SeaTac that took only 30 minutes, compared to 40 minutes on Link.

    1. The Swift line is Snohomish County’s highest ridership corridor. Likewise, RapidRide A Line (or the former 174) is the highest ridership route in South King County. They were the right corridors for BRT.

      By the time these routes were planned (2006-2007), Central Link was inevitable.

      1. Those are not the right corridors for BRT. SWIFT could easily handle 3 times the ridership it is achieving. That is a waste, in my opinion.

        Like I wrote above, I think that Ballard/downtown and W. Seattle/downtown are much better routes for BRT than Everett to Aurora Transit Center. Who the heck wants to travel between Everett and the Aurora Transit Center? Not many people, obviously.

      2. Why would Community Transit, a Snohomish County agency, build a Swift line in King County? Like Oran said, Swift was built on Snohomish County’s most used transit corridor, where Community Transit decided to invest in improving their product.

      3. 1. Community Transit is a separate agency from King County Metro.

        2. West Seattle and Ballard get RapidRide, lines C and D, starting in 2012.

        3. “Those are not the right corridors for BRT.” Thanks for the laugh.

      4. Norman, just one post ago, you advocated “One SWIFT route … to replace the 174”. That’s exactly what RapidRide A is (albeit not nearly as high quality as Swift). So is it the right corridor for BRT, or isn’t it?

        Also, I’m not sure why you’re advocating so strongly for the 42. In 2009, the 42 was one of the *least* productive routes in Metro’s west subarea. If you were going to upgrade any corridor in Rainier Valley to BRT, it seems like a much better choice would be Rainier (e.g. the 7/9, like Martin previously suggested).

      5. The bigger point here, though, is that Central/Airport Link is built and operating. So is Swift, and so is RapidRide A, and U-Link is coming soon. We can’t turn back time. Even if you think that these investments were a mistake, they’re here to stay, and so arguing against them is just as pointless as arguing against building I-5. What’s more useful is to suggest how future transportation spending should be directed.

        Norman, if you think that the region would be better served by building North and/or East Link as Swift-style corridors (or something even cheaper), then please explain your proposal and reasoning. I’m always happy to listen to and debate future service planning and system expansion. (Yes, both East and North Link are progressing rapidly, but so is the DBT, and so if we can talk about stopping the latter, then it’s only reasonable to listen to you talk about stopping the former.) And despite what you might think, I’m actually somewhat sympathetic to the idea of building East Link as BRT, with the potential to upgrade it to light rail later.

        But when you talk and talk and talk about how Central Link was a mistake, it sounds less like you’re interested in making forward progress, and more like sour grapes.

      6. Aleks, the 174 used to go to Seattle. That is the route I was talking about for SWIFT-style buses, between Seattle and Tukwila, which is what the 174 used to do before Link.

        And when are you going to figure out that Link started running in 2009 in direct competition with the #42, so the 2009 nunmbers for the 42 are not legitimate? The last full year of the #42 without any light rail down MLK Jr Way was 2008, during which year the 42 had a fare recovery of about 40%. 2009 is not even relevant for #42 statistics.

      7. If you would bother to actually read what I wrote, I never said what agency should build premium bus routes. Do you see anything that makes you think I was suggesting CT should build bus routes in Seattle? No.

        I just wrote where I thought SWIFT-style bus routes would make sense. I never said who I thought should build them.

        I would say that CT likely has no need for any BRT anywhere in its area.

      8. Oran: I did not imply that in any way whatsoever. I just said that the Everett-Aurora Transit Center route was not a good place for BRT. I think the ridership bears that out.

      9. That is the route I was talking about for SWIFT-style buses, between Seattle and Tukwila, which is what the 174 used to do before Link.

        Okay, so you’re talking about today’s 124. This is the same argument that Bernie was making — connect Seattle and the airport via Marginal Way rather than Rainier Valley.

        Given that Link exists, do you still think that BRT for this corridor is a worthwhile investment?

        And when are you going to figure out that Link started running in 2009 in direct competition with the #42, so the 2009 nunmbers for the 42 are not legitimate? The last full year of the #42 without any light rail down MLK Jr Way was 2008, during which year the 42 had a fare recovery of about 40%. 2009 is not even relevant for #42 statistics.

        That’s a valid point. That said, note that the 2009 numbers for almost every route are significantly worse than the 2008 numbers. According to the 2009 performance report, peak service saw a 10.5% decline in annual ridership. Route 15’s peak service to Blue Ridge, generally a star performer, dropped from 110 riders per revenue hour in 2008 to 94 riders/rev. hr. in 2009. So at least part of the route 42 drop was probably unrelated to Link. (And, analogously, part of the lower-than-expected ridership on Link is probably due to the same forces.)

      10. Aleks, you wrote: “Also, I’m not sure why you’re advocating so strongly for the 42. In 2009, the 42 was one of the *least* productive routes in Metro’s west subarea.”

        It’s not so much that I am advocating for the 42. It is that that is the route that ST chose for its Central Link light rail! If you think that the 42 route is a weak route for BRT, then why in the world would you think the 42 route was a good route to replace with light rail?

        You do understand that the 42 is one of the main bus routes that Central Link replaced, don’t you? Ergo, it was Sound Transit that chose the 42 as the route to replace with “rapid transit” — not me.

        In other words, what I have been saying is that, if you think the 42 route needed “better” service than it was getting, it would have made a lot more sense, and cost a fraction as much, to replace the 42 with better bus service, a la SWIFT, than to spend $2.6 billion to put light rail down MLK JR Way.

        To repeat: I chose the 42 route to discuss, because that is the route that ST chose to replace with Central Link light rail.

      11. “Ergo, it was Sound Transit that chose the 42 as the route to replace with “rapid transit” — not me.”

        It wasn’t Sound Transit’s decision, it was a policy decision made by local electeds a long time before Sound Transit even existed. And it’s not like the routing decision was made by looking at a list of bus routes and picking one to replace. Link didn’t replace or duplicate any one bus route and to imply that Link is merely equal to the buses it replaced is ludicrous. But whatever, keep twisting history Norman, you’re getting good at it.

      12. What is the route that Link replaced down MLK Jr Way? The #42.

        I don’t care who chose that route for Link, or why. The question was, why did I compare Central Link to the #42 bus? Because the #42 is the route which Central Link replaced down MLK Jr Way. That is why I used the #42 bus, as opposed to the #13 or the #2, or the # 17 or the #15, etc. Get it?

        Aleks asked why I chose the #42 bus. That is why!

      13. What makes you think there is any place in Snohomish County which should have BRT? You just assume that every county in the U.S. must have a place that is suited for BRT? Or, what?

      14. “What is the route that Link replaced down MLK Jr Way? The #42”

        Link didn’t replace any bus route on MLK. The service was restructured, but there is just as much service on MLK today as there was before Link, it’s just provided by the 8 & 42 instead of the 48 & 42.

      15. Why of course, yes! Snohomish County should have better transit service, with more frequent and reliable service, transit signal priority, off-board payment, nice vehicles, etc. Who wouldn’t want better transit service in the highest ridership, highest productivity, corridor of their area?

      16. BRT is a continuum. You can have everything from RapidRide (i.e. frequent service, some off-board payment, some signal priority) to Boston’s Silver Line Waterfront (fully grade-separated service with subway frequency). But at the end of the day, BRT is about making bus service more productive, more reliable, and more pleasant.

        Some BRT-style investments are clearly not suited for all areas/routes. Grade separation doesn’t matter if you already have excess road capacity. Off-board payment isn’t worthwhile at stops that see tiny numbers of riders. But other investments, like nicer buses/shelters, route/stop rationalization, and signal priority, are desirable on any route, and the only reason not to implement them is a lack of money.

        Not only did Community Transit have the money to implement Swift’s amenities, but that money was granted specifically for BRT improvements. So it’s hard to criticize CT for doing what they can to improve service on their most heavily-used corridor.

        Norman, I apologize for my bluntness, but it’s comments like these that make many people wonder whether you’re actually interested in improving transit in the region, or just in criticizing what we’re building. So far, you’ve said that Link should have been BRT, and that RapidRide A and Swift are both pointless. The only service I’ve ever heard you praise is the 194, a bus that had no amenities at all.

        May I ask you to point to a local transit infrastructure investment that has been (or is being) built, which you think is a worthwhile use of money? Anything that has a capital cost is fair game.

    2. The Swift was a horrible waste of money. We spent $34,000,000 on some bus stops and new buses that hold fewer people than the old ones. Is this what you call a good deal Norman? All they needed to do is run the 100 bus more often and all day. The stops would have been synchronized with other buses, the enclosures would have already been there and it would have saved a bunch of money. The only gain we got was signal priority and we could have done that with the 100.

      1. I agree that SWIFT is not needed on that route. The ridership does not justify the investment.

        However, this is not nearly the waste of money that LINK is. Link cost $2.6 billion for 22,000 boardings per weekday.

        SWIFT cost $30 million for 3,500 boardings per weekday.

        Link cost about 90 times as much as SWIFT, and averages around 6 times as many boardings as SWIFT. LINK cost about 15 times as much per boarding as SWIFT!

        So, if you think SWIFT was a waste of $30 million, what do you think about the wisdom of spending 90 times that amount on Link to carry 6 times as many passengers per weekday?

      2. SWIFT won’t always have 3,500 boardings per day.

        They expect SWIFT’s ridership to grow as fast as Central Link’s, maybe faster. In which case, the cost per boarding of Central Link will always be about 15 times as high as for SWIFT.

      3. Your logic is a bit off Norman. I think you’d get a long fine with Chris Cristie. So you think that spending $34M and getting nothing is a better deal than spending and getting something? Spending a fortune and getting something may not be a great deal but spending a small fortune and getting zip is a horrible deal no matter how you factor it.

        I’d rather go over budget and have something when I was done than to spend less money and have nothing. The light rail has changed and will continue to change how we commute. I don’t drive to the airport anymore. It will take time for all of the less transit aware folks to start using it that NEVER would have taken the 194 no matter how hard we push.

        We have 245 buses a day go down I-5 to Seattle then return later. Something tells me that ONE train would better serve that corridor no matter what it costs. The Central Link is a good deal but it should have had a stop at Southcenter Mall and crossed the Sounder tracks and allowed transfers there. That was the one real boneheaded decision. That and we don’t need massive stations costing millions. A small platform with an overhang is just fine.

      4. Swifts ridership won’t grow much at all. I ride it every day and what we have is what we get. I think it’s fairly close to being plateaued right now unless they run more buses or put in more stops. The 112th street stop will get me on it more often but that’s only on occasion. Currently I have to take the swift/101 and then transfer to an Everett bus. It’s major problem is that it doesn’t go anywhere anyone wants to go since the stops are too far apart. Going to EdCC? You ride it one way only. This will never change.

      5. Grant, amusing, but meaningless points you attempt to make.

        SWIFT has achieved just as much — or little — as LINK, at a fraction of the cost.


        And, what makes you think SWIFT will not achieve ridership gains just like Link is expected to? For the past couple months, ridership on Link has actually been falling.

        “This will never change.” Yeah, it’s really difficult to add or change location of SWIFT bus stops, isn’t it? LOL Another brilliant comment, Grant.

      6. @Norman I ride the Swift every day and at first nobody would get on it because it was different (and it didn’t stop where people wanted to go). Later you saw people moving over from the 101 stop (which the ridership numbers support). I don’t think the overall numbers for Highway 99 have budged much in years. There’s only so many people that will ride a bus down 99 no matter what you do. If we put a train there we’d still be doing 3500 per day. The Swift only carries 2x the passengers of the 101 but it comes 6x as often.

        The reason I say we spent money and got nothing is the Swift has not given us anything we didn’t already have outside of headways. It doesn’t hold any more people (it does hold one more bike though), it’s not as comfortable, the shelters are next to worthless, the stops are so far apart it’s difficult to use and it’s only slightly faster on half of its route (the other half the 101 will catch it). Outside of the headways and saving a few minutes it’s got us nothing. Once they overcome the stop distance the few minutes you save will be gone as well.

        Had they just run the 100 more often we would have everything we had before and everything we have with the Swift for next to nothing.

        The Link’s ridership is seasonal since the biggest stations are the AP and downtown. I think you will see this exact same patter next year and the year after. It will be interesting to see what ridership on the Link will be during the Holidays.

      7. Grant: have you ever ridden Central Link light rail in your life? I suspect not.

        Either way, what do you think Link does that SWIFT does not do?

        By the way, each Link light rail car has 74 seats and only 26 of them face forward — 26 face backwards and 22 face sideways. And those seats are almost identical to the seats on SWIFT, but even less comfortable. I am telling you this because I don’t believe you know anything about Link or have ever ridden it. Am I corect about that?

        In other words, all your complaints about SWIFT — stop spacing, et al — apply just about equally to Link light rail. But Central Link light rail cost almost 90 times as much as SWIFT!

      8. @Norman “SWIFT won’t always have 3,500 boardings per day.”

        True, but it’s upward potential is limited. The EIS indicates that ridership is estimated at 6,600 boardings in 2015. And the EIS also indicates that this is based on a number of factors including land use.

        Experience shows that Transit Oriented Development really only occurs with rail corridors rather than bus corridors.

        Permanence, Magnitude, and Implications for Development Risk
        Many sources question the permanence of bus compared to rail. “Developers and home buyers alike seem to be attracted to the permanence of rail transit” (Dittmar and Ohland ?004). “Because the locations of bus routes are not fixed or permanent, this greatly increases the risk of investing in transit-supportive land-use
        development” (California Department of Transportation [CDOT] 2002).

        Your continued screaming about investments in bus transit versus rail fail to account for the real tangible benefits that rail brings to a community including “Permanence”. While BRT is a modest investment that a community can make early in a communities life, ultimately it is rail that will spur density which is essential both for community development as well as mitigating environmental impacts.

      9. So, SWIFT ridership is expected to almost double by 2015? That is good to know. Thank you for that information. Link ridership is not expected to double by 2015, I know that much. So, in 2015, if that prediction comes true, SWIFT will look even better compared to Link than it does now.

        The GAO did a study of BRT vs LRT which found that both had about equal effect on development along their routes.

        I always get a good laugh at people who claim rail is “permanent”. Haven’t you ever noticed all the old rails in Seattle that are mostly covered up with pavement? Were those rail lines “permanent”?

        What about the waterfront streetcar? How “permanent” was that?

        The rail route on the eastside that has been abandoned. How “permanent” was that?

        All the other rail lines that have been turned into trails in the “rails to trails” programs. “Permanent”?

        All the streetcar lines in Seattle were torn out by the mid-forties. “Permanent”?


      10. “So, in 2015, if that prediction comes true, SWIFT will look even better compared to Link than it does now.”

        What, so now you like Swift again? Just yesterday you were saying it was a waste of money and built in the wrong place. Make up your mind. Why do you care anyways? You don’t live in Snohomish County.

      11. “Permanent” is relative. The 540 is, if I understand, less than 10 years old, and in that time it’s gone from an all-day route serving Redmond to a peak-only route serving Kirkland.

        Conversely, many of the old streetcar routes are still being served by buses that follow the exact same route. In many cases, the routes haven’t changed in almost a century.

        An individual rail line might not last forever, but that’s not the point. Any transit infrastructure investments are a signal, to developers and residents and everyone else, that the corridor is a priority, and that at least some effort will be made to maintain high-quality transit service in that corridor for some time. The more extensive the investments, the stronger the signal.

        As an example, one of the biggest dangers of BRT that uses business-access-transit (BAT) lanes is that, eventually, someone will notice that they only see a bus go by once every five minutes, and otherwise the lane is empty. That enterprising person will decide that the lane is clearly underutilized, and will start a campaign to open it up to general-purpose traffic. Before you know it, the main benefit of the BRT line has disappeared, which causes a lot of people to switch from the bus to SOVs, thus making the problem even worse. Fully grade-separated rail lines avoid this problem, because the trains aren’t running on pavement that cars could be using. The transit-riding public in the US understands this, which is part of the reason why rail has such a better image around here. (In parts of Europe, where bus lanes and signal priority are standard operating procedure, it’s much easier for buses to spur development, since people are more willing to trust that the investments are real.)

        All that said, rail lines *do* last a long time. Streetcars ran in Seattle for over 40 years. At the extreme, the Green Line in Boston, and the Jamaica Line in New York, contain segments that were built before 1900. (Both subways are well older than the interstate highway system.) It’s entirely reasonable to assume that today’s transit investments will last for the better part of a century. (This also means that it’s reasonable to amortize costs over at least 50 years.)

        Oh, and by the way: It’s Link and Swift, not LINK or SWIFT. They’re neither acronyms nor initialisms.

    3. Yeah, except those buses would get stuck in traffic all the time. And once you start building separate busways everywhere, light rail is cheaper.

      1. Buses do not get stuck in traffic all the time. The 194 averaged about 30 minutes between Seattle and SeaTac. Link takes 40 minutes to get within a 5-minute walk of SeaTac terminal.

      2. You’re averaging down for the 194 and up for the Link Norman. We all know that the times for both were nearly identical. This still doesn’t put the Link in good light but the reality is people who would never ride the 194 are riding Link. Every logical argument supports buses over trains but deciding to get in your car or take transit is rarely a logical argument. Hassle free and consistent transit options build ridership. You can run as many buses as you want but they’re still buses, there’s a LOT of people who just don’t want to get on a bus. I’ve thought about it in my mind and I’m willing to pay about double to ride a train over a bus even if all else is equal. If it comes down to the Sounder/113 or the 511/113 I’ll take the Sounder every time even though I’m paying 50% more. It takes just as long but my hour is more enjoyable.

      3. No, I am giving the average times from my many trips on Link and on the 194 between Westlake Station and SeaTac airport: Link 40 minutes; the 194 Express 30 minutes.

        And that does not include the extra 5-minute walk from the Link station to the SeaTac terminal.

        So, from Westlake Station to the actual terminal at SeaTac it is:

        Link: 45 minutes
        194 Express: 30 minutes

    4. “Why do you need a premium bus service between Everett and the Aurora Transit Center?”

      That’s the second time this week you’ve called Swift and Link premium services.
      They may be premium in the sense of being more comfortable than regular buses, but they’re not premium in the sense of being optional extras that one should pay a surcharge for, like Sounder here and express buses in other cities. Instead, Swift and Link are attempts to transform the transit system by adding core backbones — backbones we’ve never had until now. Swift and Link are not meant just for rich commuter yuppies, they’re meant to be the primary way people get around these corridors — all transit riders. The local buses supplement them in case your destination is between stations or on a side street.

      Link has a bit of a split personality because it charges per distance like BART, but doesn’t yet have the regional coverage BART has. When ST2 is built out, Link will offer dramatic advantages compared to existing Metro and ST Express service in those corridors, and the distance-based fare will make more sense.

      1. By “premium”, I just mean “better than ordinary” bus service. Sort of like “top of the line” bus service, compared to what existed before.

    5. Norman, instead of wining constantly on this blog, why work with some people and actually draft together one of these BRT plans.

      If there was actually a real plan out there, that was actually as cheap as you say it could be, then I would vote for it. Until then, the lack of such a plan suggests to me that these wild claims people made about BRT are just that, wild claims.

      1. SWIFT is up and running. The latest ridership is 3,500. The construction cost of SWIFT was just under $30 million.

        Which claim about BRT is it that you consider “wild”?

      2. Swift runs on a wide 45 mph highway in a suburban (i.e., medium density) area. That allows it to reach rapid transit speed, and the low density around it and underdeveloped parcels at the stations means the buses don’t overflow. (I guess, I’ve only ridden Swift once on a Saturday evening.) On which street between downtown, UW, and Northgate would you propose to put such a BRT system? I-5 is clogged much of the day, although the express lanes could be converted to BRT (but that’s over a half mile walk to UW). All the other streets are 30 mph, and all of them south of UW are overflowing at peak times. Would you just put more buses on Eastlake and call it BRT?

        BRT at Swift’s quality in Seattle would require new roads, and that would raise the cost to be comparable with light rail.

        One other thing I like about light rail that I read recently is, originally the streetcars had right of way over cars. The switch to buses made buses inferior to cars: streets are designed for cars, and buses have to pull in and out of stops and wait for traffic lights and wait behind cars and wait to turn. All this dampens a bus’s efficiency and makes it uncompetitive with cars. But light rail with its own lane, fewer crossings, in-track stations, and not having to turn at signals, can regain that advantage of priority right of way, to put transit ahead of cars again.

      3. You know, I would love to see the I-5 express lanes converted to be all-day bidirectional, and the interchange at 520 hooked up so that the new HOV lanes will have direct access to the I-5 express lanes (in all four direction combinations).

        Being able to have North Seattle/Snohomish and Eastside express buses avoid traffic all the way to downtown would just be fantastic. The density on the Eastside around 520 is too scattered to make light rail a worthwhile investment right now, but this would be a great way to improve bus service quality without building a significant amount of infrastructure.

      4. Aleks,

        If I were one of the Bellevueites fighting to keep Link from coming through Bellevue, I would be trying to find a clever way to divert all the money that is being spent on East Link elsewhere … such as lobbying to lump East and South King County together in ST’s “sub-area equity” so that the money being spent on East Link could instead be spent on a faster build of South Link all the way to Tacoma.

        Also, you have to be more specific than “express lanes”. We have those, and ST is paying to build the bi-directional expess lanes on I-90. But unless they are specified as “HOV” or transit-only, they will just fill up with SOVs.

        And don’t get me started on ST’s and Metro’s going along with the plan to not have bus connections at UW Station. Talk about a huge squandering of public resources! Instead of having high-frequency BRT lines from Kirkland to UW Station, ST/Metro will have twice as many routes, with half the frequency, and longer trip length. If I were a Kirklander trying to get high-frequency BRT, I’d be paying more attention to the lack of connection of buses to UW Station.

      5. Brent,

        I agree with your entire post. You’re absolutely right, I meant to say that the bi-directional express lanes would need to be HOV (preferably 3+). And yes, terminating all Eastside buses at UW Station would eliminate the need for a 520/I-5 HOV interchange. (I’m not sure if there’s the political will to make that happen, sadly…)

        I have to admit, with so many people loudly opposing East Link and so few people loudly endorsing it, the cynical part of me wishes that ST could just take its ball and go home — use the money to build out South Link, or speed up North Link, or build a new line to Ballard/West Seattle. I know that there’s a silent majority that wants East Link (they voted for it, after all), but still…

  3. I’d actually call the results somewhat dissapointing, Especally given the current economic situation. I would be expecting the line to be carrying atleast half of the ridership along that corridor. Its of my opinion your BRT should be carrying 50-60% of the ridership, and you have a shadow local or two mopping up whats left.

    It must not look very good for CT and ET, when their local shadows offering a combined fifteen to twenty minute headway alongside the every ten minute BRT. With a bit of tweaking of the BRT I bet you could improve its productivity by lowering the frequency of the local shadows, saving scarce operating funds and improving public perception in the process.

    1. As with Central Link, I really think we have to see what happens development-wise in the corridor before making any judgments.

      High local-route ridership is a product of wide stop spacing.

      1. It will be an intresting comparasion in later years, however I dont think SWIFT is going to have the same level of impact as LINK will. The whole situation with SWIFT, its stop spacing and Shadow bus service just bugs me to no end. If i were a taxpayer in snohomish county, i’d be demanding changes (adding stops and cutting back the frequency of the shadow service) to make SWIFT the primary mode along the corridor. I can easily see having 30 minute local, with a ten minute BRT, but combined 15 minute in the city of everett, and 20 minute in the county ONTOP of the brt just leaves a bad impression with me.

      2. In NYC, express trains see high ridership for two reasons. First, the express train really is a whole lot faster than the local. The NYC subway is quadruple-tracked (or more), so express trains literally don’t have to slow down once between station stops.

        But second, and much more importantly, connections are super easy. Express trains in Manhattan often become locals in the boroughs. Thus, a standard commute pattern is to board a local in Queens, get off at an express stop in Manhattan, and transfer to a local for the last 2-3 stops. Both trains run every 3-5 minutes during rush hour, so this connection takes almost no time.

        In contrast, with Swift, the time to transfer could easily overwhelm the time of just riding the local the whole way. So the only people who will take the rapid bus are people whose origin/destination are within walking distance of rapid bus stops.

      3. The time to transfer on the Swift does often overwhelm riding the local. Another issue is that if I have to walk 3/4 of a mile to a swift stop then I might as well taken a slower bus that picks me up closer to where I want to be. From my house I have the option of getting the 101 or the Swift. But if the 101 is coming less than 10 minutes after the Swift I’ll wait for the 101 because my walk on the other end is 10 minutes shorter.

        I have to say that the brilliance of the Swift though is the 10 minute headways. I don’t know how we’d pay for it but all buses should run every 10 minutes. I think ridership would go up because you no longer have to plan your journey.

      4. It would be ridiculously easy to design a bus network where every bus ran every 10 minutes. And it wouldn’t cost any extra than the bus network that we have now. We’d pay for it by having a significantly smaller number of routes — no peak commuter routes, no milk-runs, and no redundant circuitous routes like the 43.

        I think that Alexjonlin had a Google map with a sample grid network for Seattle, where all current buses were replaced by a new network of super-frequent service. Alex, if you’re reading this, do you still have that map?

    2. The problem with Swift is it’s horribly designed. The frequency and boarding at any door is real nice but they could have done that with about any bus as long as there was an ORCA reader at the stop.

      Swift has made the 99 Corridor both easier to navigate now and harder. Because the 101 still runs down the same street and because the stops aren’t integrated you have to stand between the two stops in order to catch the first bus that comes along. Sometimes the Swift and 101 stop aren’t anywhere near each other. Other times they put the Swift stop going one direction a full block away from the Swift stop going the other direction meaning when I go south I use Swift but when I go north I use 101.

      The other problem with the Swift is it’s lack of comfort. It’s nice to be able to board using any of three doors but there’s very few forward facing seats so if like me you don’t like reading while riding sideways you will find yourself waiting for the 101. Compounding the problem is the very aggressive regenerative breaking which causes you to pitch forward and backward the whole way down 99.

      The last problem is the distance between stops. More than once I ran out to catch the Swift only to realize there isn’t a stop anywhere near my destination. This meant mile walk that I hadn’t anticipated.

      From 128th street to Aurora Village the Swift isn’t any faster than the 101 so it makes me think the traffic and stoplights are the limiting factor, not the number of possible stops. When lights are held/changed because of the Swift it gains on the other buses.

      The last last problem is the stops are rubbish. Instead of the old ugly square enclosures of a typical CT stop they made fancy “WAVE” dividers and slanted roofs that virtually guarantee that you will NOT be able to get in out of the rain.

      Having said that I ride the Swift quite a lot. It doesn’t yet smell like Urine like the 101.

      1. I learned about the poor enclosure of the stations the hard way when the cold freezing wind came in two weeks ago. Those dividers didn’t help. They should’ve made them more enclosed like the ones at Lynnwood TC.

        I don’t mind the sideways seats but I think the seats are stiff and have an odd back angle, at least for me. I like the Link seats better.

      2. The Link stations do not stop the wind, and, in many cases, don’t even stop the rain. What is with Link stations have roofs over only small sections of the platforms, for example, at SODO?

      3. @Oran, exactly. No matter where you stand you will get wet. They have giant stops and only 6 seats. To make matters worse they’ve taken out nearly all the 101 shelters along the Swift route to encourage 101 riders to take the Swift. Or at least that’s my theory.

        The Swift seats are not that comfortable in themselves. With most of them sideways it’s even worse. Add in the regenerative braking and the thing starts to be a pain. If I’m going a short distance or if I’m bringing a lot of luggage on it then it’s fine but for longer journeys it’s not that great.

      4. @Norman: I suspect ST minimized costs by only constructing roofs over the sections of platforms where today’s two-vehicle trains stop. The stations have been built to accommodate future roof expansion once four-vehicle trains are running. It may look a bit awkward to have the bare supports sticking out like comb teeth for a few years (SODO and Stadium Stations come to mind), but I think it’s a valid cost-saving measure until the extra lengths are truly needed.

  4. I see nobody has brought up yet the idea that if we didn’t have “Swift” we could still have Sunday bus service. 25 passengers per hour is horrible productivity for any kind of rapid transit. We also see kind of the Los Angeles Metro Rapid problem, where many people want to get off at intermediate locations that are stops on the local and not Metro Rapid, and the Metro Rapid “shuffle”, where passengers get ready to make a mad dash towards whatever bus seems to be coming first. Transit systems really need to operate basic local service at an advanced level before they fool around with big city kind of things. The “Swift” could end up being the San Jose VTA of BRT, a poster child of ineffective rapid transit.

    1. As has been stated in other publishings, Swift is grant funded for a number of years which didn’t impact CT’s Sunday service. Also don’t forget while 25 boardings per revenue hour isn’t as high as it should be for a BRT service(yet), it’s growing and any service takes time to grow into the community it serves. I ride Swift from time to time and will admit, it’s really nice to be lazy, never look at schedules, walk up, tap the ORCA and just wait a couple of minutes. Presto, there comes a Swift. Is it perfect? Nothing is, but for a $1.75, it’s cheap and get’s places pretty quick.

    2. I know facts are pesky little things that get in the way of a really nice slam, so I hate to take your fun away. Like was mentioned, Swift is funded in large part by grants and partnership money that can’t be used for any other service. No Swift, no money. So still no Sunday service.

      Seriously, criticizing without at least basic fact-checking is lazy and disrespectful to every reader.

  5. It would be interesting to see data on how many Swift riders are new transit users. Only about 2 out of 5 Link users previously used the bus, I wonder if a good BRT implementation such as Swift can capture as many new transit users.

    1. I hadn’t ridden the bus since I was a little kid. I was driving down 99 and saw one of the stations they were building. I only noticed it because it looked so much different and not like a typical bus shelter. I looked it up when I got home and decided to check it out.

      A year later, I mostly leave my car at home.

  6. If I were a SWIFT rider wanting to see the line survive, I would be lobbying like heck to get North Link out to Aurora Village.

    (Similarly, I think Link will be integral to the success of the Line A.)

  7. I use Swift from South Everett to Edmonds CC (both directions) in the evening for a once a week sports league. I don’t mind the walk from the SB stop at 196th. Before Swift, I would always drive rather than suffer through the frequent stops of the 101/ET9 with an awful transfer at Airport Road. Time on Swift is about 26 minutes from 50th street in Everett to EdCC. The trip would have taken at least 30 minutes longer before Swift, including the required transfer. I usually drive and park near the Swift stop since evening local service to my home is nonexistent.

    When I use Swift during the day, I’ll often use the ET9 or 101 to get to a Swift stop (I would show up in the ridership numbers for both). Construction of new stops is progressing well. Too bad the new Pecks Drive SB and the Madison NB stops are so far apart, making transfers to/from #8 on Madison more difficult to/from SB Swift. Still, ridership numbers should continue to increase with the new stops. Swift should be extended north to Marysville or Smokey Point with a Broadway alignment to allow an Everett CC stop.

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