Here’s some light reading for those of you stuck in POTUS-induced gridlock. King County Metro has won a competitive grant from FTA’s State of Good Repair/Bus Livability program to improve 3rd Ave. While that might sound like something to do with riding late-night trips on the 75 in winter, it’s actually about improving the quality of bus facilities and access to them. Hot off my Gmail, here’s an official statement from Metro, emphasis added:
King County Metro has been selected to receive a total $4,788,000 for two projects from the Bus Livability program.
* Bicycle Access Enhancements to RapidRide Facilitates – $730,000
* Third Avenue Transit Corridor Improvements – $4,058,000
These two projects have also been selected to received funding through competitive grant competitions at the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC). So we’ll need to look at where there may be duplication of scope between the PSRC award and the FTA award to determine whether there are portions of grants that may need to be returned.
More after the jump.
Q: What will this be used for?
The Third Avenue Transit Corridor Improvement and RapidRide Facilities project will focus on the region’s primary transit corridor – Third Avenue between Jackson Street and Denny Way. Bus stops along Third Avenue are used by roughly 42,000 daily passengers and approximately 54,000 daily riders travel along the corridor.
The project complements Seattle’s efforts to provide a more attractive, safe and convenient Third Avenue environment to visitors, commuters and residents. In addition to current high levels of local and regional bus service on Third Avenue, Metro’s RapidRide C (West Seattle), D (Ballard) and E (Aurora Ave N) Lines will use the Third Avenue corridor through downtown from Denny Way in the north to SR 99 in the south.
The project will increase transit speed and schedule reliability, upgrade passenger amenities, boost ridership, and improve safety and security. Metro projects 50% ridership growth in RapidRide corridors by 2017 and is seeing trends toward this goal on the already-implemented A and B Lines. Recent research by the University of Illinois-Chicago has shown that providing real-time information at bus stops increases ridership. Ridership growth will decrease automobile usage, thereby lowering vehicle miles traveled (VMT), and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Annual GHG reduction estimates are about 2,500 metric tons.
The project components include:
1. Twenty-one bus stops in the downtown core and Belltown will receive the following passenger amenities:
-Real-time information signage for passenger convenience
-ORCA card readers for off-bus fare payment by card
-Ticket Vending Machines for off-bus fare payment by cash
-Branding elements to highlight premium RapidRide service
-Weather protection for passenger comfort
-Lighting upgrades for passenger safety and security
-Sidewalk improvements/ADA compliance to enhance pedestrian circulation and accessibility
-Solar-powered compacting trash receptacles to enhance cleanliness and aesthetics
This project will also improve the sidewalk and install pedestrian-scale lighting and bicycle facilities at select locations within the project area, enhancing the walking and biking environment and improving safety.Q: Is this “new money”, or money that Metro had already budgeted for, in anticipation of the award?
The grant award is new funding, not previously assumed.
My initial reaction? Awesome. It’s not going to singlehandedly turn RapidRide into the real rapid transit that Ballard and Aurora deserve, but it’s a big step in the march towards better bus service, especially combined with SDOT’s Denny Way trolleybus wire project and promised spot paving of 3rd Ave. Another huge pat on the back for Metro’s grant writers!
UPDATE: Mike Lindblom has more details at the Times.