The First In-Service RapidRide, by Atomic Taco on Flickr

Any marketer will tell you that a brand isn’t just what a company says it is – a brand is a set of attributes that gets assigned to a product or service over years or decades of use. Your brand is your reputation.  As Martin pointed out last year, we have several bus brands operating in Seattle are: RapidRide, Metro, and Sound Transit.

The problems with the RapidRide brand go beyond the poor choice of Copperplate Bank [thanks, DavidL & others in comments] Gothic for the typeface. Of the characteristics that make up a hypothetical BRT service – frequency, speed, off-board payments, dedicated lanes, upgraded stations, reduced stops – RapidRide can only make a solid claim to the first and weak claims to a few others.  Whatever its benefits, “rapid” isn’t really the salient characteristic of the new service.  Especially if you’re used to taking the 54 Express into downtown from West Seattle, say.   Many commenters have pointed out, here and elsewhere, that “FrequentRide” might have been a more apt name, if not nearly as catchy.

In his recent STB op-ed, Kevin Desmond noted that RapidRide will evolve over time to include a few more BRT features (off-board payment). So that’s all to the good.  Despite the complaints, West Seattleites are using the C Line quite a bit.  I have no doubt that SDOT and Metro will keep making iterative improvements on all six lines over the coming years.  One hopes those improvements are put in place before the service gets a bad reputation in the minds of the city.

Then again, the South Lake Union Streetcar probably had the worst brand of all time when it launched, and that didn’t keep riders away.

75 Replies to “On Branding”

  1. Despite the complaints, West Seattleites are using the C Line quite a bit.

    Well, let’s not make too much of this. One reason for this, obviously, is that the re-org drastically reduced other options for West Seattle–Downtown transit. Under those circumstances, there’s no inconsistency associated with complaining about RR and riding it as well.

      1. I’m not sure that’s meaningful. Isn’t autumn always the high season for transit ridership? I think a more meaningful way to track the impact of these changes would be to track year-over-year changes in comparison to the rest of the system. And to track not only peak ridership, of course, but the utilization of the network off-peak, and on non-downtown trips (especially crosstown trips and trips within West Seattle).

      2. The autumn counts are consistent with spring counts because both feature uw in session as well as k-12 schools. I see nothing wrong with the numbers on that basis.

  2. Why weren’t the features of BRT put in place before the switch?

    Or is this a case again of BRT Bait-n-Switch?

    1. Some of the features (signal priority, wiring for the signage, and lane priority) require cooperation from municipal authorities.

    2. Metro just needs to get finished rolling out RapidRide and move on to other things. The lines are established; now they can be improved upon. At least they give residents some certainty about where to live and work if they want the most frequent transit Metro has at any one time over the next several decades.

    3. Again, I say, we have BRT…but it is in the form of the standard Metro and ST Express buses that blanket the Puget Sound. The ones that serve major stations, and jump on and off freeways and use the HOV as a “bus lane”.

      If we could go back in time, I would have taken all the billions wasted on LINK and streetcars, and used it to turn our rush hour express bus network into an all day and weekend service.

      1. In other words, instead of funding the transit that will bring faster service to tens of thousands of riders of all sorts, you would have taken service that is overwhelmingly oriented to commuters and run a bunch of empty buses along the same routes at non-commute times.

        ST and Metro run express buses all day when there is demand for it. On a few occasions, ST has tried to jump-start demand for all-day service on commuter routes. Sometimes they succeed mildly, as with the 545 and 554. Sometimes they fail spectacularly, as with the various iterations of the 565/566, the west part of the 560 (and the old 570), and the 540.

        On the corridors Link is serving or is planned to serve, there is already all-day bus service, some express, some local, and in most cases it is considerably slower than Link. Where Link is open, it has sharply increased ridership over the previous bus service.

      2. My contention is that those buses would not be empty and would foster a truly fast, regional transportation network at 1/100th the cost of rail. Put it in place and people will use it, I say.

        So, just as you say build density and keep piling it on one corridor, I say no. I say let’s think regionally and give people lower cost living and better working opportunities through a fast BRT transportation system…one which is essentially in place right now

        As far as saying a bus is slower than light rail, well, that’s entirely due to the corridor given the maximum speeds of each. If LINK were a roadway with timed lights, etc, a bus would be just as fast.

      3. And if I had athletic ability I’d be able to compete in the Olympics.

        The only way you make buses as fast as trains is by building them a dedicated guideway. Once you’ve done that, which is the expensive part, you might as well enjoy the capacity and comfort benefits of rail.

        ST is not building rail in mixed traffic. The City of Seattle is, and you know about how popular it is with readers of this blog.

  3. That font is ugly, but it ain’t Copperplate Gothic. It’s squarer and doesn’t have serifs.

      1. A font can be perfectly readable and still be ugly, either inherently or in its application. Personally, I think the not-real-small-caps in the RapidRide logo make it look amateurish.

      2. Okay, and the more doors. (Not that I’ve even once been at a stop where I could enter through them.)

  4. I’m not sure if this is the best place for this comment, but it is related to BRT. When the E-Line is built, it will pretty much skip over Fremont. There will be a stop on Boston Street (on east Queen Anne) and a stop on 45th. Given the distance between the two stops, I think it would be great if there was a stop on Bridge Way and Aurora. This stop would be the equivalent of about 36th. From there, a rider could walk down the stairs to 36th, and be a couple blocks from the heart of Fremont. Wheelchair riders would have to go a bit further, but there is access there. Furthermore, a transfer to the frequent 31 and 32 would be even easier.

    Unfortunately, there is no stop there right now. The city would have to carve one out. This would not be trivial, but I can’t imagine it would that expensive. It would certainly be cheaper than adding another bridge over the ship canal (which is being discussed). Obviously another bridge would be of better benefit, but I think adding another stop would prove to be really popular for the cost.

    1. Northbound, it wouldn’t be difficult at all. Southbound would be harder, because the bus would have to quickly merge into a lane of fast-moving traffic from a dead stop.

      But I think the reason you won’t see it is that it would slow down the line while duplicating a ton of bus service already in the area. To get downtown, there is the choice of the 5 (if you are uphill) or the 26, 28, or 40 (if you are downhill). To get to the north end, there is the 5, which serves many of the same areas that RR E will.

      1. Regarding the merge, doesn’t the bus stop at 45th do that?

        With regards to the area being served by other options, couldn’t you say the same thing about the Rapid Ride in general? I don’t see any place on that line that isn’t served by existing transit (but maybe I’m wrong). Yes, there is always a trade-off between adding a stop or not adding a stop. But Fremont is very popular. There are a ton of businesses and homes there. The folks who work there and take the bus from downtown have to wait for a slow, infrequent bus (like the 26, 28 or 40). A fast, frequent bus would make a huge difference.

        As far as a Fremont stop slowing down the line, it isn’t hard to see several stops along the E Line that would I trade for a Fremont stop. The detour along Linden being one. It makes sense to have a stop between 45th and 75th, but that adds a tremendous amount of time compared to a simple stop. Given the distance between 45th and 75th, I can understand why they did that though. On the other hand, there are way too many stops as you go north. Once you get past 80th it seems to stop every five blocks (with only a few exceptions). I don’t see how it is going to be very fast because of that. But maybe that is not the point, I guess (as this article suggests). The point is to be reasonably fast (faster than most buses) and very frequent. Taking advantage of Aurora will make it a reasonably fast bus. It would be a shame if folks in Fremont can’t take advantage of it, considering the number of businesses and homes near there (and the number that are being added all the time).

      2. Yes, the bus has to merge southbound at 46th, and it’s awful and a real safety problem. Buses just can’t do 0-40 mph in 100 feet.

        The volume of RR stops north of 85th is very controversial, and a lot of people here are mad at both Seattle and Shoreline for not allowing half-mile stop spacing.

        The type of fast service to downtown that you’re thinking about is already provided by the 5, which stops at 38th and Bridge Way and uses Aurora to get downtown, using the same path that the 358 currently does and that RR E will. Yes, it has a few extra stops on the map, but (except for Aloha) they are barely used. Inbound, you’d have the issue that RR E and the 5 would provide the same service but from different stops, so no one would know where to wait.

      3. Also worth noting that 45/46th is crest of the hill, where as 36th/bridge way is the bottom of the hill, meaning cars are likely going even faster.

      4. Yes, I agree, from downtown to Fremont, the 5 provides what I want. It would be nice if it were more frequent (as frequent as the new RR will be). It would be nice if Fremont was better connected to north Aurora as well. A new stop would do it. If there was an easier way to get back on Aurora, then maybe using the stops that the 5 uses would make sense. But the ramps aren’t built that way, and driving threw the neighborhood would cost a lot of time. Maybe new ramps to the north would be a worthy project (although the costs and local opposition might be high). Again, it would be nowhere as big as building a new bridge.

        But I’m still not sure of the vision for RR. I think it could provide for a very fast feeder system. For example, lets say you want to get from Wallingford to Northwest Hospital (around 115th and Aurora). Take the 44 over to Aurora and then take the RR. Since both buses run very frequently (so frequently that you don’t need a schedule) and both buses run just about as fast as traffic, their would be very little difference between riding and driving. For a distance that far and unusual, that would be something new and special for around here.

      5. And if you need to go north from lower Fremont you have nothing, because the two north-south routes (5 and 358) skip lower Fremont on Aurora. There could be less duplication in the transit network around there if the big trunk line didn’t just skip over a place like lower Fremont with significant (if not overwhelming) transit demand.

        Now, to be fair, it’s not all the fault of the transit agency. The road network is sort of just built this way (it’s not especially easy to head north on Aurora from many parts of Fremont). To do a southbound stop on Aurora near lower Fremont you’d need to do it in-lane like all the other stops along Aurora. I’m not sure there’s a good place that’s far enough after the Fremont Way merge and not already over the water, and there might be safety issues stopping a bus on such a high bridge. If it’s not feasible without rebuilding the bridge, then next time the Aurora Bridge is up for construction we should seriously consider (a) how to include a lower Fremont stop for the E Line and (b) removing pedestrian barriers on and near Aurora (I have lots of ideas about that).

      6. The main problem is Aurora itself. Ideally RapidRide should travel on the fastest street and stop in all major neighborhood centers and the densest housing blocks, so that there would be one trunk route in the area. But Aurora Avenue does not allow this. The fastest street runs in a lower-density area adjacent to rather than in Fremont/Phinney/Greenwood. So there’s a tradeoff between the 5 and the 358. The 358 has to be the RapidRide because it’s the trunk to Snohomish County. So the only solution is to upgrade the 5 to 15-minute minimum. Which Metro did propose in the September restructure, at least for weekday/Saturday evenings (I don’t remember about Sunday). But status-quo activists objected to other parts of the proposal (5 on Dexter, 26 reorganized) and it was withdrawn. It’s likely to come back next year with RapidRide E because it’s too sensible to be ignored.

        The upshot is, RapidRide can’t do everything when the street grid is flawed. It’s similar to the Ballard dilemma, actually. In both cases there’s a “Y” at the Ship Canal, and the fastest and most direct street to further north is on a different branch than the “real” neighborhood center. Metro has responded to the Ballard situation by making both RapidRide and the 40 frequent. (Although it failed after 10pm, acknowledged.) So it’s probably headed that way for Fremont/Phinney/Greenwood too.

      7. Oh, and the most effective Fremont stop for RapidRide E would be a flyer stop on the highway with an elevator down to the surface street. The problem with that is the cost of the elevator, but we may be able to do it someday.

      8. to upgrade the 5 to 15-minute minimum.

        Mike, the 5 already is a 15 minute minimum bus, from around 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM.

      9. When I say 15-minute, I mean a floor of minimum service till 10pm including Sundays. I’m not worried about the easiest periods to get frequency because they take care of themselves. I’m concerned about the hardest periods to get frequency, because those are the gaps that encourage people to drive and to not get rid of their second car.

    2. Al Dimond, that connection to the north was easier before the current service change. Ridership was low, but there were a few people who consistently rode the 28 from Fremont all the way to the end of the line to connect with the 358 at 145th. Also, the 5-Northgate crossed Aurora at Northgate Way but that is now (otherwise thankfully) gone.

      The topography is the real challenge. Serving lower Fremont from the Aurora Bridge is just not easy because Aurora is 150 feet up. Even if you were to build an elaborate stop at considerable expense, people would still have to hoof it up those vertical feet. Depending on where you are starting, the climb would be like climbing between 10 and 15 stories.

      What would improve connectivity in the area substantially would be service that traveled all the way up Fremont. Such a service existed way back in the day — the Route 30 of the 1990s. Toward this end, I’ve seen suggestions to extend Route 13 to the zoo or to change the routing of the 26. Both of these particular suggestions have some issues, but the idea is worthy.

      1. There have been suggestions to extend the 13 to the zoo, and I believe some of Metro’s or the TMP’s planning maps have mused about it. The main issue is the bottleneck of the Fremont Bridge, whether that would have an unacceptable impact on the 13’s reliability. Especially if the 13 becomes the main route on Queen Anne, as Metro has also proposed.

      2. David, nothing about the 5 matters when you’re in lower Fremont. From the Center of the Universe sign to the nearest northbound 5 stop it’s a real hike. Taking the old 28 all the way to 145th only helped you if you’re going some place around or north of 145th.

        A route up Fremont would improve connectivity also. Logically that route is the 5 (the original fall restructure plan basically moved the 26 and 28 to Aurora and ran the 5 down Fremont and Dexter), but lower Fremont is too much of a traffic mess for people in Greenwood to tolerate that or something (though there is an express 5, which my Greenwooden friends use a lot… the desire to skip lower Fremont traffic on the way downtown seems like mostly a peak commute issue, and it’s not such a long walk to the 358 for a faster route). The 13 would be nice as a connection between (apologies to d.p.) Real Fremont and Real Queen Anne. Putting the 26 through the grind on 45th seems crazy.

        But there is really no reason that vertical feet should stop a north-south trunk bus route from serving a place with actual transit demand. Elevators and escalators do exist. Sure, it wouldn’t be the most convenient route downtown for a lot of people, but it would be helpful for lots of trips between lower Fremont and destinations to the north, and serving those sorts of trips effectively is why you build a real transit network and not just downtown commuter services.

      3. would be like climbing between 10 and 15 stories.

        Not really. I do it all the time. I just did it yesterday. Scaling Troll Hill then climbing the stairs feels both less arduous and less interminable than trudging up the Fremont Ave dead zone between 36th and 39th.

        Elevators and escalators do exist.

        Not in Seattle, they don’t. Metro would rather wasted hundreds of thousands of service hours for all eternity than build useful physical infrastructure. RapidRide has already made that clear.

      4. Yes, you do have to climb stairs to get from lower Fremont to the proposed stop near the north end of the Aurora Bridge. So what? A lot of people would be willing to climb them. A trip I need to make once in a while is from my workplace in lower Fremont to near 130th and Aurora. Currently the best way I’ve found to do that trip using transit is to hop on the 26/28 going south, get off at Dexter and Galer, and climb stairs to catch the 358 northbound at Aurora and Galer.

        That trip is convoluted enough that I usually find it easier to ride the bus home and transfer to my car to get to my destination. If I could just walk up the stairs by the Fremont troll and catch the 358 there, I might make that trip by bus more often. It’s just asinine that I should have to make a wrong-way trip and endure a transfer penalty to catch a bus that basically runs right over my head at my point of origin.

      5. If you can get the city or the state to build 1) a stop that doesn’t require that immediate merge and 2) an elevator or escalator, that’s fantastic. I’m opposed to a stop at Bridge Way without southbound changes to make it safer, though, and I think usage by lower-Fremonters would be lower than a lot of the athletic people here think in the absence of vertical transport. 100-150 feet of elevation really is quite a lot.

        The 5 is already at the threshold of pain for through-routing, just because it’s so long, and hits so many troublesome intersections. (It was incorrectly claimed a few days ago that RR D is the longest through-routed route. That prize belongs to the 131/132, but the 5 is the longest in the north end.) I think adding Fremont and the Dexter mess to the 5 would break that threshold of pain, not to mention making the ride in from Greenwood ludicrously long. And if you say that 36th to 39th is too far to walk, does it make any sense to tell Greenwood folks to walk twice that far to Aurora if they want a reasonable ride?

      6. The Amgen pedestrian bridge over the tracks in Interbay has two elevators.

        Maybe the answer is to get a private company interested :P

      7. While I hate setting a precedent of dependency on corporate interests, this is a pretty good idea. An on-bridge station with elevators dropping right down on 34th — the flattest and therefore best street for universal accessibility — would also drop passengers 500-700 feet from a number of high-powered companies.

      8. Humans are adapted for the savanna. It’s incredibly difficult to walk even our own height in vertical feet unless it’s reeeeeeally gradual.

      9. Actually, RapidRide in general in Seattle seems to suffer from pre-1950s city planning choices, where the fastest routes intentionally skip the main population centers. The D has the same problem with skipping central Ballard in favor of a comprehensible, straight-line route, as d.p. knows very well. Say what you will about the urban freeway movement, at least it essentially admitted this and created bypass routes that didn’t also try to serve as city streets transit could use, which might be why B actually hits most of Bellevue and Redmond’s extra-downtown urban centers, because it’s 520, not NE 8th and 156th, that serves as the high-speed bypass.

      10. It’s incredibly difficult to walk even our own height in vertical feet unless it’s reeeeeeally gradual.

        Not as much as you might think.

        Sure, it’s very hard to scale those downtown blocks where skyscrapers have 5th Ave entrances four floors above the 4th floor entrances. But other vertical changes can feel surprisingly negligible.

        The next time you’re in central Ballard, stand outside Ballard Coffee Works and look straight down 22nd Ave NW. You’ll be surprised to notice that you’re staring at the second story windows of the buildings one very short block away.

        But walk up and down that short block of 22nd, and you’ll barely even notice the grade.

    3. What if we were to dedicate some right-of-way along Aurora for buses, so they would not cause back-ups, or get stuck trying to merge into traffic. Call it a “bus lane”.

      1. It would cause backups on local streets which are already congested.

        Northbound, there is no problem with the current arrangement, in which buses stop in-lane in the rightmost of three lanes.

        Southbound, there is no rightmost lane, because that space is dedicated to several merge lanes. The reason the merge lanes are necessary is because of very high volumes of traffic entering southbound Aurora. If you converted the merge lanes into a bus lane, you would have to have all of that traffic stop before entering Aurora, which would cause bedlam during rush hour along streets like Fremont Way, Bridge Way, 46th, and E Green Lake Way.

      2. There is a bus lane southbound on Aurora in places. There’s a third lane in places. There is street parking in places.

        In this particular spot, north of where Fremont Way merges in there are two lanes, and Fremont Way becomes the rightmost lane. Wherever you put a bus stop, you’re crossing into the lane coming from Fremont Way (including buses running routes 5, 16, and 26X). That traffic is accelerating, and you can’t really see between the right to the middle lane until the right lane is merged. Putting a bus stop there would be insane without some physical changes. That’s why I think next time we’re doing major maintenance in that area we should think hard about how to arrange the roads to accommodate a bus stop. That probably means designing the intersections so they’re actually usable in the non-peak direction.

        As for the 5… a walk from 35th or 36th to 39th doesn’t sound like much, but the spacing between numbered streets is distorted south of 45th, such that it’s actually a longer walk up a pretty steep hill. Plus the intersection of Fremont Ave and 39th is really terrible — I have to walk pretty fast (heading north on the east side of the street) just to get across without having to wait an extra cycle in the “island” between Fremont Way and 39th. The 40 is showing that lower Fremont is usually not that much of a travel time disaster, and during peak hours the 5X (which southbound leaves the normal route and takes 46th to Aurora) handles peak volumes from Greenwood and makes their travel times acceptable.

      3. The 5 is already ridiculously slow for users north of 85th, even with the Aurora route, which is scheduled to take 12-14 minutes from 38th/Fremont Way to 3rd/Pike. Assuming 2 minutes to travel from 39th to 34th (non-sychronized lights), the trip from 39th/Fremont to 3rd/Pike would take 16-21 minutes. And that’s assuming there is no box-blocking delaying Dexter during the afternoon.

        You could potentially address this by splitting the 5 at 85th, but that would get very expensive, very fast.

  5. The most important thing about branding is its ability to get that next pot of money to keep going and to grow the system ridership.
    Ron Sims and Greg Nickels were great at press releases extolling the virtues of RR, ST2, CRC, Transit Now, and any number of measures before the voters to ensure the bucks kept rolling in.
    RapidRide sounds so fast – it’s not much better than before.
    1000 intersections timed and more bus service – Transit Now (how many got timed)
    Prop 1 (ST2) – 108 million annual boardings and a billion miles a year by 2030, so where about 1/4 way there.
    Since 1996, all the transit agencies in the 3-county area have increased the number of riders from 111 mil boardings, to 164 mil, and local taxes for operations have increased from $251 mil to $661 mil (YOE). Ridership growth is up 48%, while local spending for O&M is up 263%
    Clearly more branding is needed to ‘Bridge the Gap’.

    1. mitigating that (albeit slightly), the dollar in 1996 would be worth $1.47* today–so taxes in 1996 would be $369m in 2012 dollars and the increase in O&M is closer to 179%. Ridership still doesn’t quite match up, though. ;)

      (* figure derived from year-over-year increase in CPI)

  6. The typeface is Bank Gothic, not Copperplate Gothic.

    Copperplate is the font you see on every low-rent lawyer’s letterhead.

  7. My impression was that the whole amusing nickname thing helped the streetcar more than hurt it. It both educated people that the streetcar existed and motivated them to at least give it a try so that they could say they rode it and/or buy the T-shirt.

    1. You nailed it… “nickname”. I’m not sure why Frank thought that South Lake Union Streetcar was the worst branding of all time. SLUS.

      The Stranger and other streetcar-haters stepped in with revisionist history claiming that it was at some point called SLUT by the city or Metro. Not true!

      “Most easily spoofed branding ever”? Maybe. But it was at least descriptive and accurate, unlike RapidRide.

    1. Of the handful of occasions I’ve actually been at a stop with working real-time info, the number showing on it has been greater than 15 minutes the preponderance of the time.

      True story.

    2. The RapidRide B signs have been showing implausably long times for months. Oftentimes the sign says something like “29 minutes” but the bus comes in 5 or 10 minutes anyway. And at Bellevue TC, the sign seems to show when the following bus leaves (the one that isn’t there yet), rather than when the bus that’s sitting right there leaves.

      1. With regard to rapidride terminals the next bus display can be unpredictable. sometimes when the bus pulls in to drop off passengers to finish a trip the system also records the next trip as started even though they have a 15 minute break which shows 30 minutes to next bus!

      2. The headway broadcasters probably do more harm than good. There’s nothing more ridiculous than setting up your slowest, least effective, or least lucky driver as the pace-setter, and artificially slowing everyone’s trip behind him ad infinitum.

        When you stand at a RR stop and it takes 20-25 to come, that’s the lead bus you’re waiting for. It got caught in traffic on the Viaduct or at Denny. It waited forever at Elliott and Mercer and effected the whole outbound C Line downstream. The broadcaster could do nothing for that bus.

        But when you’re near the start of the route, and a sign counts down to “1 min” before reverting to “5 min”, and then you roll really slowly down 15th and intentionally miss every other light on 3rd, that’s the broadcaster forcibly extending your trip in a vain attempt to keep you from bunching.

        That’s what happened to me tonight. And it didn’t work — we bunched with the prior RR bus anyway at Pike. But what also happened was that we got released from the bus mere seconds after a caravan of 10/11/43/49s were pulling away from 4th and 6th, with no Capital Hill buses whatsoever due for another 15 minutes. So the RR broadcaster forced me to walk up Capitol Hill in the rain. Success?

        The broadcaster could even create the next overlong gap by holding a bus “15 minutes behind” the prior one, only to see the trailer get caught in a series of unexpected delays after being held.

        RR drivers need to be allowed — nay, they need to be encouraged — to drive like they mean it. Artificial slow-downs do precisely the opposite.

  8. Are the new RRs even more frequent? For most of the stops wasn’t there already 15 min or less headways for rides to DT?

      1. Can we all come to a collective agreement that Rapid Ride was oversold, has been used to patch holes in funding losses, and is generally both an annoyingly ironic brand and a substandard service? Few would disagree, and that fundamental starting point would serve as the benchmark for improvement. This way less energy can be wasted on sniping and more on solutions.

      2. What? I agree with Beavis’s assessment of RR as an “annoyingly ironic brand” and as evidence that Metro hasn’t given two shits about improving mobility with it (even if he was the last person to admit this about it).

        I just disagree with the false hope that Metro will suddenly START giving two shits in the future, if only we take a conciliatory attitude towards their prior frauds.

    1. I have several complaints about RapidRide, but as someone who commutes downtown in work and lives near 15th ave NW and 80th street in Crown Hill, RapidRide has been an improvement. When I leave for work, between 7 and 8 am, I have not had to wait longer than 5 minutes for a D line bus and don’t have to worry about a schedule. Previously, I had to coordinate with the schedule and the express 15 buses were uncomfortably packed.

      So I have seen a noticable increase in frequency, and while the ride takes a little longer than the 15 express, it’s worth it because there’s much less waiting at the stop. Also, the bus is more comfortable, I like the clear stop announcements, and it feels like the bus has more ROW (although I could be wrong there).

      All that said, RapidRide is a disappointment for many reasons already cited, and as someone who used to ride real BRT in Eugene, I can safely say this is not BRT. But from my perspective it has been an improvement, albeit probably not worth the cost.

      1. I basically agree with this, and with similar sentiments expressed by those who live very close to 15th and who primarily travel to places directly served by RR or that have always required the same transfer they do today. There’s no doubt that RR has improved their experience — if not really their range of mobility — especially at peak and in the early evening.

        RR’s shortcomings are not really about the immediate 15th corridor, but about those further from the corridor who WOULD have been serves by a TRUE high-frequency BRT service. Not only was RR marketed as that service, but the rest of the restructure was DEPENDENT on it being that service. Because the implementation is definitely not what was sold to the public, all who are more than a short ways from 15th now experience a long walk or an ineffective transfer, without the benefit of any schedule or frequencies that would justify those penalties.

        It has never been my intention to pit 15th-corridor riders against all others, but this is why it has been frustrating to see STB writers and commenters defend RR based primarily on the isolated experiences of riders of the former 15. It’s nice that these riders have benefited. But that’s just a tiny sliver of why RR was supposed to do.

        These are all things I can tell you understand, James. Your thoughtful and balanced comment is much appreciated!

      2. Those are great points. I think my expectations were so low that I was pleasantly surprised. But I do recognize that I am pretty lucky to be living close enough to the corridor so that it works. If I lived West of 24th I don’t think it would be worth it to walk that far.

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