On Wednesday, I joined many others in attending the open house for King County Metro’s RapidRide E Line in Green Lake. It seemed like a majority of the attendees were from the Linden Ave neighborhood where the open house was held, but riders from up and down the line, and around the city, were present. Metro staff provided posterboards discussing the general improvements of RapidRide, along with planned stops, BAT lanes, and intersections that will be equipped with signal priority. (I was hoping to include them in this post, but I didn’t get them in time — I will add them later.) The room was well-filled and there was lots of conversations between staff and attendees, and among attendees, some quite intense.
More after the jump.
Unsurprisingly, the dominant topic was the Linden Deviation. As I discussed at some length in my previous post on RapidRide E, the decision presented by Metro is between maintaining the deviation, with the bus leaving Aurora to serve a stop at Linden & 68th, or staying on Aurora. This is partly a coverage versus speed issue, but primarily about the safety and accessibility of a potential northbound stop on Aurora, access to which would require using the crosswalk at 68th St, which is near-universally regarded as somewhat dicey.
Most of the neighborhood residents seemed to be strongly in favor of keeping the deviation (one of them came armed with a WSDOT chart showing accident statistics for this segment of Aurora); many neighbors also expressed a preference for the stop serving this neighborhood to be located further south, near 63rd. On the other hand, one long-time resident who lives next to a current 358 stop on Linden complained of incidents of trespass, urination and littering by (often intoxicated) patrons; she wanted the stop anywhere other than in front of her house.
One idea that seemed to gain some traction among staff and attendees was the compromise of maintaining the deviation in the northbound direction, but staying on Aurora southbound. This provides speed and reliability benefits southbound, but doesn’t require anyone to cross Aurora. It would probably save Metro money up front, as no pedestrian infrastructure improvements on the east side of Aurora would be required.
Another neighborhood concern was about the size and visual impact of the RapidRide shelters in the predominantly single-family area around 68th. The proposed RapidRide stops at 68th are “Station” stops, rather than “Stop” stops, which typically means larger shelters with ORCA readers and real time arrival signs. Linden doesn’t have much pedestrian activity, so it seems to me that Metro could assuage the neighborhood’s concerns and get more riders by downgrading 68th to a Stop and using the money to upgrade Stops in a more active place further north to Stations.
Many readers have noted the closely-spaced stops, particularly in Shoreline, and I was able get details on this from staff at Metro and Shoreline. The City of Shoreline requested that Metro maintain stops at every signalized intersection north of 145th, and while Metro isn’t required to honor that request, the opinions of local jurisdictions carry a lot of weight, so the stops have made it this far in the process. This could change if enough rider feedback demanding a reduction in stops was forthcoming. Perhaps more interesting is the background to the request.
Shoreline is in the process of a top-to-bottom makeover of their segment of Aurora, which includes a complete repaving, full-time BAT lanes throughout Shoreline, as well as extensive pedestrian and transit infrastructure upgrades. By contrast, about half the length of Seattle’s BAT lanes will be peak-period peak-direction only due to local business opposition, and there’s really nothing nice to say about the pedestrian environment and road condition in Seattle’s segment of Aurora. Shoreline feels they’ve already done their part to make RapidRide smooth, pleasant, fast and reliable, but would perhaps revisit the stop spacing issue if Seattle would go into bat for full-time BAT lanes and other improvements.
As always, if you have thoughts about the E Line, Metro staff from the General Manager on down do read our posts and your comments, but you should also take the survey, and you can email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATE: Here are most of the boards from the open house. The only information likely to be new to most regular readers is the signal priority location. Unfortunately, the map of the BAT lanes seems to be missing.