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Both houses of Congress continue to struggle with the new transportation bill as they enter a one-week recess. Speaker John Boehner has delayed the justifiably maligned House bill, allegedly because it doesn’t have the votes.

Over on the Senate side, in a flurry of parliamentary maneuvering that I don’t really understand, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Friday offered amendment 1730 to the much better Senate Bill, S.1813. The amendment is not yet in the bill, much less law, but it does have this interesting provision:

 (2) BUS RAPID TRANSIT SYSTEM.–The term `bus rapid transit system’ means a bus transit system–

`(A) in which the majority of each line operates in a separated right-of-way dedicated for public transportation use during peak periods; and

`(B) that includes features that emulate the services provided by rail fixed guideway public transportation systems, including–

“(i) defined stations;

“(ii) traffic signal priority for public transportation vehicles;

“(iii) short headway bidirectional services for a substantial part of weekdays and weekend days; and

“(iv) any other features the Secretary may determine are necessary to produce high-quality public transportation services that emulate the services provided by rail fixed guideway public transportation systems.

STB obtained an email to other transit operators from Metro Director of Service Development Victor Obeso, excerpted below the jump:

New requirements that all BRT systems have a “majority” of each line operating in a separated right-of-way “dedicated” for public transportation use during peak periods would effectively exclude all of King County Metro’s RapidRide lines from future federal funding, a major blow to this region’s transit system.

BRT corridors have previously qualified for funding when a “substantial” portion of the line has operated in a separated right-of-way, rather than a “majority.” This allows arterial based BRT lines to be built more economically.  Metro’s RapidRide lines in the Seattle area, like many other new BRT services nationally, also typically do not operate in a separate right-of-way “dedicated” for public transportation use.  Instead, the lines often share the curb lane with right-turning vehicles and sometimes carpools.  Complementing rather than impeding other general traffic flow still allows BRT corridor designs for faster, more reliable operations.  Metro has successfully implemented two of six planned RapidRide lines in the greater Seattle metropolitan area and has experienced great operational and ridership success to date.

I have to admit to mixed feelings about this provision. From a narrow regional perspective, I’m on record as supporting RapidRide as a positive development. It would be a real loss for the region if it went away, or if other service had to be slashed to preserve its meager advantages.

At the same time, it’s only human to feel a little schadenfreude that King County may suffer due to insufficient emphasis on route quality. Metro has watered down RapidRide to just about the minimum necessary to qualify as BRT; aside from Sunday service, it’s clearly inferior to its neighbor, Swift. Taking a broader view, it’s a positive step to set up nationwide incentives to produce genuinely high-quality transit — as Chicago is doing. Perhaps the hammer of federal funding is what can finally nudge Metro and (especially) cities into making the necessary political decisions for right-of-way.

ST Express doesn’t receive BRT-specific funding, but it does receive funding from the “fixed guideway” bucket thanks to its HOV lanes. The Reid amendment would also remove HOV lanes (as they are not dedicated exclusively to transit) from the fixed guideway definition. According to ST spokesman Geoff Patrick, ST has formally requested a change to the amendment language including the HOV system in the definition. In 2011 the redefinition would have cost ST about $7m.

56 Replies to “Senate May Define BRT Upwards”

  1. I’d be happy to see this provision pass. RapidRide should be the standard for Express service. It is not and never will be BRT.

    1. Srsly? RR is not express, but the exact opposite. Stops every half mile or less for 11 miles… that’s not express.

      Even MT itself admits that RR is underperforming: “Our current data indicate a travel time savings on the A Line of about 10 percent [versus the 174], which is well below our hoped-for figure of 25 percent.” Sad that the 174 is their yardstick — sadder still that the difference is barely noticeable.

      1. A quick bit of Googling reveals the source as

        But of course the bit that K snipped from the much longer response doesn’t tell the whole story, which is that there were apparently a number of issues related to road construction in Federal Way, construction around TIBS, and ongoing TSP adjustments that (theoretically) affected performance. It would be useful to check the numbers again now that at least some of those issues are resolved.

    2. +1 Glad to see the gov’t giving the BRT name some real teeth and legal definition.

      RR is not express. It’s limited stop service. Express service features a portion of stop-free running between areas of local service. Limited stop features fewer, far-spaced stops.

      1. Swift is limited-stop, as is the 7X which stops every mile or less. RapidRide is local. An express really needs a nonstop segment longer than 2 miles, and not evenly spaced. Link is limited-stop in principle although some of its station pairs are borderline express (CC-Othello, RB-TIB, and everything north of Northgate).

        However, Metro has a screwy definition of express, meaning a bus that skips Metro stops no matter how short the nonstop segment is. Which leads to oddities like the 66 being “express” while the 41, 101, and 150 are not, even though people ride them as such. I.e., people take the 41 because it’s faster than the 16, and the 101 because it’s faster than the 106. (The 150 doesn’t really have a local equivalent though.)

      2. I, for one, am in favor of this Senate definition.

        Metro has already secured funding for the currently proposed Rapid Ride lines. If enacted, the new definition would force any future Rapid Ride lines upwards in quality. More likely, Metro would continue to slowly expand Rapid Ride without federal funds (they could use Transit Now funds, for example).

        Federal funds should be reserved for agencies developing rapid-transit-like BRT networks, not limited-stop arterial service such as Rapid Ride.

  2. “It would be a real loss for the region if it went away, or if other service had to be slashed to preserve its meager advantages.”

    Sounds like the perfect stick to get Metro and the cities it serves to throw a bone to transit. If they want to keep the money flowing, simply upgrade the routes. If people start to bitch and moan, point them to this law.

    1. I’m tempted to agree with that, and it would be a great outcome. I think it’s more likely, though, that the stick doesn’t work and we end up with less transit. I can’t imagine, for instance, that Bellevue would actually give up two lanes on NE 8th for RapidRide.

      1. They don’t have to give up the whole thing, only 50.000001%. If they can’t even do that, then they obviously don’t want BRT.

      2. By that standard I don’t think anyone in this region wants BRT. Even in Seattle, simply taking a lane on an arterial would be DOA. At best, you can take parking away, but that doesn’t apply on NE 8th.

      3. Sadly, yes. I’d love to be proven wrong. The D line has already built those lanes, but I can’t imagine taking GP lanes on Aurora or through West Seattle.

      4. In this way the language is really unfortunately inflexible. Most of the distance traveled by the 358/E Line is on Aurora (which has bus lanes in some places but not everywhere). But Aurora is not 520 — the 358 is slow in places, but not because of utter traffic congestion on Aurora. It’s slow on Aurora because it’s a heavily-used route with slow boarding and unloading procedures, and because it waits at a lot of red lights. Off-board payment and signal priority really have greater potential for speed improvements than dedicated right-of-way there. In Belltown and Downtown it’s much the same — even when 3rd Avenue is bus-only it often moves at a crawl because of slow boarding and unloading, and stop lights.

        I don’t know much about the A and B lines — but on the 358/E, RR-style improvements are a lot more important than what the Feds are calling for. Clearly there are some routes where right-of-way is the only solution… and we’re currently replacing them with trains (obviously not all of them, but… you know…).

      5. (B) that includes features that emulate the services provided by rail fixed guideway public transportation systems, including–

        (i) defined stations;

        (ii) traffic signal priority for public transportation vehicles;

        (iii) short headway bidirectional services for a substantial part of weekdays and weekend days

        …does a pretty good job of covering the things you refer to, Al. Except that RapidRide’s versions of stations (i.e. off-board payment), signal priority, and short headways all may be too weak-sauce to meet the criteria.

        I’m 100% in favor of the Fed being unwilling to fund projects that barely amount to improvements at all.

    2. RapidRide wouldn’t have to go away … it just couldn’t get any federal funding as BRT … as Kyle says above … Rapid Ride is how express bus service should be … right in between regular bus service and BRT/LRT

    3. “Sounds like the perfect stick to get Metro and the cities it serves to throw a bone to transit. If they want to keep the money flowing, simply upgrade the routes. If people start to bitch and moan, point them to this law.”

      Simply upgrade the routes. If only it were so simple. If Metro had enough money to do full Swift-like BRT, it would have done it. That’s what I gather from the early brochures that said RapidRide would be like Swift. Metro was surely not so incompetent it didn’t know what CT was already running, especially since they overlap at Aurora Village TC. Some would say, “Fine, let’s not do anything until we can do full BRT.” But they need to understand that the most likely outcome of that is they won’t get anything.

      1. I’m curious what Metro’s original RapidRide plans looked like. I remember them planning to through-route the West Seattle line though the tunnel to the U District.

  3. RapidRide is a piece of crap as implemented. BRT is an OK idea, although no matter how you slice it, it’s a cheap shortcut around proper mass transit; it’s slower, has to contend with traffic, and seems to just be an excuse to ditch a bus line in a PR-friendly way.

    There are two good things about RapidRide: the platform fare system (which is only half-heartedly implemented), and the WiFi, which they yanked out of other routes.

    Probably the most damning problem with RapidRide is that it *isn’t Rapid at all.* It’s deathly slow. Since RR replaces the 174 *and* the much faster 194 (drivers of the 174 would routinely advise boarders that the 194 would get them to the airport 30 minutes faster), the fact that it runs about as slow as the grudging 174 makes for a *downgrade*, not an upgrade, in FedWay-SeaTac service.

    So if the government decides to put more teeth on the definition of BRT, which is clearly way too loose, then maybe MT will have to actually create / upgrade to decent RR lines that aren’t sloggingly slow and traffic-choked. Sounds good to me.

    1. So if the government decides to put more teeth on the definition of BRT, which is clearly way too loose, then maybe MT will have to actually create / upgrade to decent RR lines that aren’t sloggingly slow and traffic-choked. Sounds good to me.

      and you think people complain about losing traffic lanes to road diets and bicycles … I could only imagine if they started losing them to bus only lanes (personally I think cars should lose out all the time)

      1. I honestly don’t know why people complain about losing general purpose lanes.

        After one lane each way, and special turning queues, extra lanes really don’t help traffic significantly, and often make it worse.

        I can understand complaints about reducing streets to one way or closing them to car traffic completely, and even complaints about losing parking lanes (how does trucks make deliveries, how do taxis do pickup, if there’s no parking lane?).

        But desire for more than one general-purpose driving lane is each direction is just misguided. Except on expressways, it’s not actually *useful* to have a passing lane. The traffic benefit drops off very very fast, and it makes the roads MUCH more dangerous to cross.

        (Even on expressways, it’s not really useful to have more than two general-purpose through travel lanes in each direction.)

        So I understand the desire for one travel lane each direction, one (short-term) parking lane each direction, and left-turn queues. If you’ve got extra space beyond that, on a road with intersections, use it for something useful: sidewalks, light rail, streetcars, bus lanes, bikeways, landscaping, even medians are more useful.

      2. +1

        Of course good luck convincing the average driver of this. The backlash on Seattle’s (very, very sucessful) road diets was huge.

      3. Nothing some well placed Jersey Barrier/K-Rail won’t fix!

        “Sorry Folks, Lane’s closed. The Moose out front should have told you.”

    2. Also a big problem is killing off the parallel local routes in favor of RapidRide only service. RR has to slow down dramatically to pick up the local scraps.

      Follow the Community Transit Swift model: fast buses with big stop spacing and parallel local to compliment the fast buses. It’s costly, but it’s cake we get to eat.

      1. Ah, yes, the “Mike Orr plan”, Other Mike.

        20 minute service that excludes half the corridor from its walking reach, and 30 minute service scraps for those unlucky enough to be between rapid stations. Violating three iron-clad principles of good transit service:

        – Transit should access many places, not just a privileged few;
        – If you’re along a quality service corridor, and willing to walk a reasonable distance, you should have access to the corridor;
        – Service splitting means inferior service for all, whether on the same corridor or parallel ones (at all but the very highest frequencies)

        RapidRide has indeed been wussy about making people walk a bit for the sake of better service for all. 600-foot stop spacing in some places is unacceptable. But 2-mile gaps in the manner of Swift — like 2-mile gaps on our “subway” — is a big kiss-off to urban usability and a proven ridership killer.

      2. It’s easy to justify Swift from Everett to Tacoma. It’s only a bit more of a stretch to imagine Swift on a few other well-chosen routes, of which 45th/Market, Madison, and 23rd would be at the top of the list. Link would obviate some of these corridors, so we can see Swift as a natural temporary measure until Link is built. And Link being underground would be able to make twice as many stops while still maintaining acceptable travel time.

        I’ll concede that #15 is not a great corridor for Swift. The problem with the #15 is that Seattle Center is on the main route rather than a secondary route or transfer. If they would just fix this, then the whole corridor wouldn’t need limited-stop service (or the 15X either!).

        It all comes down to what’s a reasonable travel time. 15 minutes from UW to Ballard is reasonable. 30 minutes from downtown to Aurora Village is reasonable, as is 30 minutes from Aurora Village to Everett. 15 minutes from Ballard to downtown is reasonable. If it takes longer, there needs to be a higher-speed service, and one running all day not just peak.

      3. What’s always funny about this back-and-forth is how much we actually agree on.

        UW to Ballard is only 3 miles, and less than 15 minutes should be a totally reasonable goal even for surface transit. Lane priority at key junctures and improvements to boarding speed would be vital to making it so, though stop reductions should also be a must.

        But the 44’s east-west corridor — from The Ave all the way to Ballard Locks — is only four miles. With 1/3- to 1/2-mile spacing as your goal, that’s only 9 or 10 stops: 32nd, Ballard, 15th, 8th, maybe 3rd, Phinney, Aurora, two or three in Wallingford, and Roosevelt.

        That’s a sea change from the current 24 stops!* But the locations are still convenient enough not to require any wasteful local overlay service.

        Now, Ballard is 5.5 miles from downtown, so 15 minutes is not going to happen without a zero-stop express (or, y’know, real subways). But 20 minutes should be a reasonable aim. Again, boarding changes and not compromising on LQA lanes and signals, combined with four or five more deleted stops than the RapidRide plan calls for.

        But splitting service so that a few can save five minutes at the expense of many being able to reach the service at all — while simultaneously lowering frequencies for everyone — is a non-starter.

        *(I consider it negligence that there has been no progress on the very mild stop diet proposed more than a year ago.)

      4. Fun fact: people are more willing to pay for a subway than to reduce on-street parking. Evidence: underground Link is being built, but the BRT lanes on 45th, 15th W, and Aurora are still blocked by parked cars and nobody has any plans to remove them

        So in other words, we could have local buses with acceptable travel times if all the arterials had transit lanes. But it’s easier to get Link or Swift built than to do that. Especially with the businesses complaining they’ll lose customers if they lose parking.

        I would love to see the government say, “Either we’re going to build the Seattle Subway at $big-X billion, or we’re going to implement real transit priority on the arterials at $little-x billion, and that means replacing parking lanes with transit lanes. But doing neither is not an option.”

      5. I’m not suggesting lowering frequencies with a Swift plan. I never said we should implement it in a revenue-neutral manner. It requires increasing revenue to fund a new route while keeping the local route at its current frequency, or rather its new-justified frequency.

        My contention is that when you add a Swift route, more than half of the riders will switch to it. So the 44-local and 358-local would not be able to justify their 15-minute frequency. You can say, “Oh, that’s bad, grandma in her house at an in-between stop will have worse service,” but it’s really the same argument as to why we shouldn’t put too much resources into the 27 or 25. Why should the majority of riders be slowed down so that a minority can have frequent service their intersection? The market for Swift is: (1) people living at a major stop and going to a major stop or transfer, (2) people willing to walk to a major stop and going to a major stop or transfer, (3) people who live elsewhere and transferring from another route, who are most of the time going to a major stop (a neighborhood center, shopping area, or large institution). In contrast the market for local routes is: (1) people living not near a major stop, not willing to walk, and probably not transferring, (2) a *small* number of people from outside the area who are going to somebody’s house or an isolated business that’s not near a major stop.

        I look at all my trips over the years, and most of them are to a major stop, or where I’d be glad to walk from a major stop if only Swift existed. And when I transfer, an overwhelming percentage of trips on my non-home route are between two major stops.

      6. Here’s an exercise for you: (1) What percentage of your trips involve a transfer? (2) Of the trips on your transfer routes (i.e., not your home routes), what percentage of them are between two major stops (“major” = similar to the stops below)? (3) Assuming you live near one of the following stops, what percentage of your trips on these routes are to another listed stop, or close enough that you’d be willing to walk without grumbling? #44: Locks, 22nd, 15th, Greenwood, Aurora, Wallingford, Univ Way. #15: 85th, 65th, Market, Leary, Emerson (?), Dravus, QA/Mercer, QA/Denny, Bell, Virginia, Pike, Madison, Yesler.

      7. Ah, Mike, but that’s only two fewer stops than I listed! But whereas I created a route that essentially everyone could walk to, you’ve left an unwalkable 1.3 mile gap between 15th and Greenwood.

        Meaning that my route needs no shadow-local, but yours needs an infrequent one. So which route is more wasteful or more problematic for people?

        People will walk further for faster and more desirable service… within reason. That’s why a Ballard Spur subway would only need four stops, averaging 3/4 and with no single gap more than 1 mile even. The Ballard Spur could also terminate between 15th and 17th but still consider Ballard Avenue in its walkshed. You would need no 44 anymore with a subway line of that quality.

        A limited-stop bus is less desirable, and no one will walk significant distances to it. But my 9-ish suggested stops would average 1/3-mile spacing, with no single gap more than 1/2 mile. Again, no ultra-local needed at all. And again, at the cost of precisely two more stops than your slightly-too-express.

        Same goes for your wide-gap approach to RapidRide D. Your route is universally accessible, except for a whopping 2.2-mile gap between Dravus and Queen Anne Ave. Why?

        Under your plan, if I need to stop at Whole Foods, I have to suffer a 30-minute local. Ditto the many apartment dwellers on Gilman. And what of Amgen employees?

        So take your list of stops and add merely three — Gilman, Garfield-ish, and the bridge at Prospect, each roughtly 1/2-mile apart — and again your need for a shadow-local disappears.

        What do you save by ultra-expressing past these three stops. One minute? And at what cost?

      8. I’m not making an absolute: these stops must go. I’m saying these stops are lower-priority than others, and we should discuss what the cutoff is to justify a stop. (And I forgot Roosevelt, which is higher priority than Latona or 8th NW but lower than the others.) One added stop is not noticeable but there’s a cumulative effect. Have you never ridden the 358 or 48 or old 174 (SeaTac-downtown, after 9:30pm when the 194 stopped running), and gotten frustrated that it takes an hour and stops at every blinking stop along the way? Go a minute, stop a minute, go a minute, stop a minute. That’s what frustrates me and makes me ask for limited-stop service.

        I wish Latona and 8th NW would enlarge their commercial districts so that a stop would have more ridership, and so that immediate residents could meet more of their daily needs on foot. Denser residential would help too, so that the walkshed is more than just a few houses. And yes, they’re transfer points for the 26 and 28, so that may justify the stops, as if people are going to wait 25 minutes for a transfer.

    3. The sad thing is…we “almost” had BRT.

      We built the bus lane out of the tunnel.

      And the buses could use the HOV lane on I-5

      BUT — the connection between the two was the same exit the cars took…and there is all that gridlock to the entrance of the bus way, for say the 150.

      So you had the idiocy of 15 minutes or more being spent getting from the HOV lane on I-5 to the bus lane.

      1. That’s what made the Michigan St. to E3 Busway Bypass soooooooo attractive.
        Exit I-5 from the HOV, and less than two minutes later you were crossing Spokane St onto the E3 busway. Going south was just as nice.
        All that for about the same cost as 10 feet of tunnel to the U-dist.

      2. Math fail:
        2 bil/3.15 miles=$120k/lf, so the $100 mil bypass was 832′ of tunnel.
        (better to clean up ones own mess)

  4. From a technical perspective I like this change because it combats the downward BRT quality creep that you see playing out here and across the county but it also sounds a bit rigid to me and doesn’t focus on outcomes. Then again since the Feds have the money, they need to be the enforces of quality because cities and transit agencies haven’t shown the leadership on this front. How to better define quality is the major issue here and percent of exclusive ROW might not be the best way.

    With that said, I see other changes that could possibly achieve the similar goals, although would require more information and probably more uncertainly. One could be to tie funding more closely to the performance outcome of the BRT features. So a BAT lane on a uncongested street would get much less funding than a new, but shorter lane at a congested intersection. So in essence tie funding to performance, not the feature its self.

    Another would be to limit the federal funds to non-bus capital costs. If I remember correctly, something like 50% of RapidRide costs are related to buses. By limiting federal funds to the non-bus elements of the BRT system agencies won’t see the Very Small Starts program as a bus replacement funding mechanism, and would be forced to focus funds on things that actually increase speed and reliability. I’m not sure how this would actually play but I think it’s an interesting idea. I think this also addresses the American bias of overemphasis of American BRT systems on “fancy” buses at the detriment of actually improving service.

    1. I second the Parast Amendment, both parts.

      Though, to clarify, funding should not be doled out micro-lane project by micro-lane project, but rather based on the ability to demonstrate significant resultant gains in operational speed along high-use segments of the line and significant savings in average trip time (including wait time).

      Meaning that off-board payment infrastructure could still be a qualifying amenity (but probably not if it can’t handle cash), and agencies would finally have leverage to tell places like LQA: “if you want the service, you have to give up the lanes needed to make it work; we’re not going to jeopardize the whole line’s funding for your parking space.”

    2. I agree. A lot of what gets passed off as “BRT” in the USA is really just the kind of bus frequency and traffic-queue jumping implementation that is par for the course in European cities.

      But send a bunch of politicians on a junket to Curitiba courtesy of USDOT and all of a sudden *any* rational improvement to buses becomes “BRT” even though it never achieves the “quality” that Curitiba offers.

      If you think about it, Vancouver Translink has had “BRT” for years. Frequent Trolleybuses on major crosss-treets, off-board fare collection in the form of Faresavers and Day-Passes available at most every convenience and grocery store. And the bus-only Granville Mall.

      The fun thing about this re-definition is that it removes the “BRT” designation from just about every system in the USA apart from Los Angeles’ Orange Line, Pittsburgh and maybe Eugene, OR.

      1. Would it? South End – Roxbury has the lanes but not the signal priority, and the lanes are badly enforced.

        The waterfront tunnel, meanwhile, represents less than 50% of the length of either route that runs through it, neither of which have any BRT features outside the tunnel. Heck, the airport bus was denied access to the State Police on-ramps and instead backtracks most of the way downtown, passing the exterior entrances of its own tunnel stops.

        I wouldn’t give that thing precious Fed money.

  5. The other MIke says, doesn’t that provision apply to new startups? RR is funded through RR-F (I think), with no new lines on the horizon. Metro has to pay to operate whatever they build, so what’s the big deal.
    New BRT would have to be at the higher standard for funding.

  6. BRT corridors have previously qualified for funding when a a substantial” portion of the line has operated in a separated right-of-way, rather than a “majority.”

    I’m not overly familiar with our existing RR routes and I realize “substantial” has a lot of wiggle room in it, but based on many of the complaints I’ve heard about RR, I’m surprised it meets even the current definition of BRT…

    1. I think for RR B the “substantial” portion of separated right of way is the 1 block inside Bellevue Transit Center. 1 block is substantial, right?

      1. It also has a pullout for the southbound stop at OTC. That’s good for a couple hundred more feet of ROW. ;-)

      2. Bash the B-line all you want. But the fact of the matter is, while it’s not ideal (especially the stupid jog down 152nd St.), it’s still a lot more pleasant than the 253 bus it replaced.

  7. This tightening is due. The low quality of RapidRide can be directly attributed to lax standards for what defines “BRT” at the federal level. Metro’s not interested in actually building true BRT, they’re just interested in getting federal funding to fill their budget holes – so they do the absolute bare minimum to qualify.

    Now they’re going to have to upgrade Rapidride to continue to qualify. Thank god.

    I wish the definition would be tightened even more, maybe requiring off-board fare payment or minimum average stop spacing.

    I hope Metro manages to make necessary modifications to RR C/D/E/F plans to qualify for federal funding, though. It would result in improved service.

    1. “Metro’s not interested in actually building true BRT, they’re just interested in getting federal funding to fill their budget holes – so they do the absolute bare minimum to qualify.”

      Metro has budget holes so it has to fill them. Metro has been in a continuous budget crisis since early 2008, or going further back to whenever Transit Now was implemented at a lower level than planned. How do you know that Metro wouldn’t fulfill its own goals if it had the money? (15-minute minimum on all core routes has been one of Metro’s goals for over a decade, and it has been gradually building it out whenever it can: see how it has achieved it on the 7, 36, and 49.) Yes, Metro should economize by consolidating routes and withdrawing service from low-density areas, but that’s not sufficient to reach a Chicago or San Francisco level of transit. It’ll only buy you one or two frequent routes, as we’ve seen in Metro’s Sept 2012 proposals.

      1. Seattle won’t reach a San Francisco level of transit unless it approaches the same level of density (SF 17,179.2/sq mi, SEA 7,361/sq mi). And it won’t get there throwing operational funds and capital into commuter routes. A common ROT is that density needs to reach 8,000/sq mi for public transit to be viable. Bellevue is at 3,950/sq mi, Lynwood 4,430/sq mi, Federal Way 4,233/sq mi, and Redmond only 2,848/sq mi. The ST transit model pretty much mirrors the failure in our GMA.

  8. Sometimes I wonder if a significant purpose of RapidRide was to get the feds to pay for a replacement fleet of buses that, at some point, they were going to need anyway.

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