B Line testing at BTC, photo by Oran

In honor of our spirited tradition of gathering to ride RapidRide lines on their inaugurations, we will be hosting an informal group ride to try out the B Line this Saturday.  The B Line will actually be fare-free all weekend, the first day of revenue service starting on Monday.  If you’d like to join us, we will be meeting at Bellevue Transit Center at 10am, this Saturday, October 1st.

Keep in mind that this is pretty informal so there won’t be a venue or speakers or anything like that.  Depending on general sentiment, the group can get off for a food/coffee stop – in other words, there’s no itinerary either.  Anyone coming from Seattle can board a 550 at International District Station at 9:32a, which gets you to BTC at 9:56a.  Try not to be terribly late because last year, the group ended up being split between two coaches.

27 Replies to “RapidRide B Line Opening Day Ride”

  1. Some details I got from Metro:

    -ORCA readers are ready to go, just hooded until Saturday morning.
    -Real-time signs are running announcement-style messages right now. We expect them to be working with the countdown-to-the-bus-arrival info this weekend.
    -TSP is on right now in Bellevue, and should be on by the end of October in Redmond. The signal timings in Redmond are already coordinated, but we’re still finalizing the TSP system.

    1. The ORCA readers are in at many stations, but not all of them. There are at least a couple that still had caution tape and people working on them this morning along 156th.

      1. Yeah, I saw them installing the one at BTC this morning. They had the yellow post installed but no reader yet!

      1. I actually don’t know. I know that the whole ITS system is using a WiFi based system but I’m not sure if that is being deployed to the whole fleet as part of metros GPS+Radio upgrade that is currently happening. I would bet not but I would be glad to be wrong.

      2. WiFi and other data features for RapidRide are being deployed on a 4.9 GHz (Public Safety) WiFi system. Metro’s existing TSP system (such as what the 358 uses) uses 900 MHz. Not sure if the new intersections are using the 900 or the 4.9

      3. I’m pretty sure they are using the new system. Metro is using the WiFi system to tie all of the ITS components of the system together. This allowed Metro to eliminate a lot of the cost associated with running communication to each device.

      4. Yeah, all the coaches would be capable. It’s a matter of providing the roadside infrastructure, all the signal control cabinets, antennas, fiber backbone, and configuration.

        I’ve read that the new system provides location updates every 30 seconds as opposed to every 90 seconds and can transmit passenger load & lateness data to the TSP system.

    1. A $3.50 toll split among four people is not that much. I assumed we’d meet at Intl Dist and carpool. Even if you add a few dollars for parking while gathering people and having lunch in Chinatown, it’s still cheap enough for a one-time event.

    1. Well, I’m going to be daring and try to make this with the intention of getting on a Seattle bound express by 11:30.

      1. Just got back from making the loop. “Wheels up” at BTC 2:15PM, arrived Redmond at 2:53PM. That’s 38 minutes (call it 40 if you take into account load/unload time on a Sunday afternoon with zero traffic, no payment and skipping about a 1/3 of the stops. I can see it easily being an hour with typical weekday traffic and standing room ridership. To do the whole loop starting/ending at 134th and NE 8th was one hour 35 minutes.

        The double back to “serve” Overlake P&R and then Overlake Transit Center is absurd. Weekdays this is going to be a traffic nightmare! I think the route should stay on 156th and then use the new 136th St. overpass to 148th. Also the excursion though the warehouse district into Redmond is a complete waste. Sure it’ll be different on weekdays but but off peak and weekends (which is most of the time) nobody will be using these stops and traffic on 148th between Old Redmond Road and NE85th is all too often a 3mph crawl during the evening commute. Literally nobody used any of the stops between DT Redmond and Old Redmond Road. It should either go down Old Redmond Rd. and serve Redmond Town Center (yes, I know there are traffic challenges trying to get to Leary Way but it can be done with signal priority) or get on 520 at NE 51st and exit at the bottom of the hill. Metro needs to get serious about making this a 30-35 minute run or change the name to FrequentRide.

        BTC was a big boarding point but was matched by DT Redmond. Crossroads, I think if you combined numbers from all the stops might even be bigger. 148th between NE 40th and Old 51st is a decent draw even on a Sunday afternoon. NE 8th is dismal and I predict will be even on peak weekday commutes. The golf course stop is ridiculous. The east/west stops are staggered for no apparent reason. You have to walk about 200 feet to get to the cross walk from either stop and the in the center island you backtrack about a 100′ before crossing to the other side. A professional planned this??? Some but not all of the old fancy stops have been abandon with the new locations not having any particular advantage and in some cases being worse (like eastbound 148th). At the corner of 156th and NE 8th one of the old stops is WAY to close to the corner. But instead of closing this stop it’s still active for local service which left one person waiting thinking they could board RR here. Just down the street is a really fancy stop they’ve “boarded up”. Move it a few hundred feet closer to 156th and all would have been dandy for combined local and RR service. Another fail.

        The buses are pretty nice although even with a light load they seem to barely be able to pull the grades between 140th and 134th (especially eastbound). The two front doors are pretty close together. Getting on I thought the bus was packed. It had decent numbers headed into BTC but the issue was a family with luggage and a giant baby stroller completely blocking access to the back two thirds of the seating. Virtually the entire space between the two front doors should be open and allow bringing bikes on board. The stop announcements are confusing. It says next “stop” but the bus may or may not stop there if nobody is waiting or there isn’t a stop requested (it stops at “stations” and opens the doors for ghosts). It should only say stop if the bus is going to stop. At least one person missed their stop because of this and the red LEDs with no actual words are pretty cryptic for the first time or occasional user.

        My only other gripe would be the “service”?? for Overlake Hospital and Group Health. This is a major center of medical practices (many of which are north of NE 12th) which is exactly the all day demand RR is ideal for. The stop is a long pedestrian hostile walk from any of this. I know I’ve stressed the Rapid part of RR but I think this destination is far more deserving of a reroute than Overlake P&R. I would suggest cutting over from NE 8th to Bel-Red at 124th where the two are only a stones throw apart. The turn back on 116th and use the new 10th street overpass to enter DT Bellevue. With typical rush hour traffic it might even be faster and it certainly would “serve” a lot more people including establishments on Lake Bellevue. Alternately a Whole Foods bypass might work as a “transit busway” in conjunction with East Link but I don’t have any idea what this back road parking lot shortcut entails. Or just use NE 12th to cross 405 but that wouldn’t serve the goal of “front door” service to the hospitals.

        Kudos to whoever designed the “Little Big Map” of eastside service. This is going to live in my wallet. Best printed material from Metro ever!

      2. It says next “stop” but the bus may or may not stop there if nobody is waiting or there isn’t a stop requested

        Next available stop

      3. Simple call out the crossing street or add approaching but definitely need to drop the next stop unless it’s a “station” where they stop and open the doors for ghosts.

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