Last Wednesday, King County Metro announced two public meetings to solicit input on the last two planned RapidRide lines, E and F, which will supersede current Metro Routes 358 and 140 in Spring and Fall of 2013 respectively. RapidRide is Metro’s improved local bus service, with branded stops and buses, off-board ORCA payment and arrival time displays at busy stops, and service “so often, you don’t need a timetable”*. Mark your calendars for the following dates:
|RapidRide E (Shoreline to Seattle)
Wednesday, Jan. 25, 6-8 p.m. at
Green Lake Presbyterian Church
6318 Linden Ave N, Seattle 98103
|RapidRide F (Burien to Renton)
Thursday, Jan. 26, 6-8 p.m. at
Renton City Hall
1055 S. Grady Way, Renton 98057
Due to budget constraints and the sheer volume of changes to the bus network Metro is undertaking in 2012 and 2013, Metro has replaced the sounding board process with more direct public outreach, using online and paper surveys in addition to public open houses to gather feedback, along with direct mail, social media and blogs to get the word out as widely as possible.
Maps and discussion of the some of the main issues and choices Metro would like input on, after the jump.
First up, the E line. Click here to see the full map of proposed stops and routing: it’s basically today’s 358 with fewer stops, except in one place, west of Green Lake between Green Lake Way and Winona Ave. Between those streets, the 358 turns off Aurora Ave to serve Linden Ave; this is known as the Linden Deviation, and is shown in dashed purple in the map extract to the right. Metro is considering eliminating the deviation and staying on Aurora; either option would have one stop, at 68th St. Eliminating the deviation would significantly improve travel times and reliability for virtually all riders, but ADA access and pedestrian safety are an issue for the Aurora option’s northbound stop.
The part of Aurora Ave between Downtown Seattle and Winona Ave is described by SDOT as the “freeway-like segment of Aurora”, because it’s six lanes wide, has relatively high average speeds and no signals except for one crosswalk by Greenlake, just north of 68th, which riders would have to use to access the northbound stop. As a safety measure for cars, SDOT has installed concrete barriers in the middle of the road, and safely navigating the crosswalk currently requires walking through a narrow gap in that barrier — easy for sighted people, but possibly difficult and dangerous for blind riders. A textured strip on either edge of the crosswalk to provide a non-visual cue is an example of the kind of technique that might be used to address this problem.
On the east side of Aurora, there is curb, but only a gravel sidewalk, so upgrades to pedestrian infrastructure will be required in order to provide a path from the northbound stop to points north and east that is navigable and accessible to all riders. Metro is working with SDOT to examine potential solutions these problems, and props to those agencies if they can make it happen in spite of their financial straits: the speed and reliability benefits of this change would be tremendous, and it has no other disadvantages I can think of.
Elsewhere on Aurora, I’m told there will be 17 intersections with newly-installed signal priority for the E Line, and by my count there are roughly 25 signalized intersections between the Ship Canal and Aurora Village TC, so if the priority is sufficiently strong, that’s enough to make a real difference in travel times. Currently, the 358 has no priority at any intersections outside of downtown. Readers interested in the history and ridership patterns of the current 358 can dig in to my magnum opus on the subject.
Next up, the F Line. I have rather less commentary about this route, as I’ve never ridden the 140, and I’ve not spent much time in this part of the county. Metro wants feedback on three possible alignments for the segment east of Tukwila Sounder Station to Grady Way. The potential extensions to Renton Landing identified on the map above are unfunded and no estimate is given as to when they might be funded, although the extension is strongly desired by the City of Renton. Business Access and Transit (BAT) lanes will be added on Rainier Ave S, and 20 intersections throughout the route will be upgraded with transit signal priority.
As always, you can have your say here in the comments, and Metro staff do read them, but if you want to be certain that your feedback is officially considered, you should email it to email@example.com, show up to a meeting, or include it in your response to the surveys on the RapidRide pages linked to above.
* Although the proposed RapidRide C and D lines will operate every 20-30 minutes in the early evenings, obviously inadequate to meet that promise, and somewhat undermining the whole point of special service branding, as Oran pointed out a while ago.