RapidRide C/D inbound on Seneca
RapidRide C/D inbound on Seneca

Those of us who live on the D Line have had plenty of opportunity to catalog anecdotally all the enhanced features that were (and largely still are) missing at launch, features which, along with stop reduction, would operate to make RapidRide D faster and more reliable than the 15 local it replaced. I’ve obtained from Metro a list of all outstanding capital projects related to all the in-service RapidRide lines, along with the estimated completion times.

First, note that this list excludes capital work in the downtown Seattle area; that was discussed in an op-ed by Metro GM Desmond. Essentially, in downtown, Metro made a high-pain high-gain tradeoff to delay installing ORCA readers and real-time displays until Seattle finished installing its own fiber network on 3rd Ave in the second quarter of 2013. This saves a tremendous amount of money (by avoiding digging up the street at Metro’s expense), but, of course, downtown Seattle is exactly the place where off-board payment and other enhanced features are most desperately needed. In this post I’m going to focus on deficiencies elsewhere.

Note that in this discussion, I’m going to count opposite-direction paired stops separately, rather than together, as riders usually do. So the northbound and southbound stops at 3rd & Cedar count as two stops, even though I’d typically speak of the two together as “the stop outside my apartment.” Also, a few of these things may already fixed, as most of my information is probably a couple of weeks old by now.

After the jump, we go Line-by-Line.

A Line

Metro has six stops with network problems on the A line, which prevent the realtime arrival sign or the ORCA reader from working. For the pair at S 308th St, this is due to a road paving project which has delayed the installation of fiber conduit; the ETA is Q1 2013. For four others, the pair at S 200th St, and northbound at 216th and 260th, the explanation given is “Problems with wireless communication, staff is working to identify source of problems and a solution” with no ETA.

B Line

Metro has three stops with the same no-ETA “wireless connection” problem as the A line: the pair at NE 8th St & 124th Ave NE and southbound at 148th Ave NE & Old Redmond Rd. Two other pairs of stops have a wireless connection problem with an fix identified and an ETA of Q1 2013: 146th Ave NE & NE 87th St, and 156th Ave NE &  BelRed Road/24th St. Supposedly, Transit Signal Priority is working on the B Line, but bus drivers tell me that some days it just doesn’t seem to operate.

In addition, Bellevue Transit Center’s real time arrival sign malfunctions on almost every trip: two buses at a time lay over at BTC before setting out for Redmond; when the following bus pulls in, the “next departure” time becomes that of the follower, rather than that of the leader. The sign thus displays a times that’s off by 15 minutes for much of the day. Metro staff say they are “working with the vendor” on this.

Finally, it seems Metro is adding a new stop on the B Line, at NE 8th St & 120th Ave NE, expected Q4 2013.

C Line

The C Line is comparatively shipshape, with only one intersection (I don’t know which) where Transit Signal Priority is not working; fix ETA is by the end of this year. Network connections at two stops near Westwood Village, on SW Barton St at 26th and 35th Ave SW are pending the completion of work related to Metro’s Delridge Corridor Improvements. Not mentioned in the response from Metro, but mentioned on the Metro Matters blog, the real time arrival signs at the California & Fauntleroy (Morgan Junction) stops are also broken.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there were other broken things which didn’t make Metro’s list, so if you know of other facilities on the C Line which don’t work, chime in in the comments.

D Line

The D Line is a mess.

  • Signal priority is not enabled at 15 (!) intersections; explanation given is “Several causes of delay:  incorrect traffic signal response, bus software issue, miscommunication with SDOT, Seattle City Light permitting, staff resource constraints.”; ETA is end of this year.
  • Many of the stops in Uptown did not begin construction until less than a month before the introduction of the D Line, although they seem (as far as I can tell) to be mostly complete now. Several reasons are cited for this delay: “Uptown area had longer permit reviews, coordination with trolley overhead and in some cases required work by other Seattle departments including Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities. When construction is complete and amenities installed, SCL must make electrical connections. RR needs compete for SCL resources with their other projects.”
  • All of the RapidRide stops in Belltown are physically complete, except southbound 3rd & Cedar which is affected by adjacent private construction; but, just like the downtown stops I mentioned in the beginning, all the ORCA readers and realtime arrival signs will need to wait until Q2 2013, when the city’s wireless network will enter service.
  • The “interim routing” at the RapidRide terminal is due to delays in the required reconstruction of 7th Ave NW north of Holman Road. “Roadway reconstruction was a bigger project than anticipated; longer design and review timeline. Staff resources were devoted to implementing the A and B lines in 2010 and 2011 and were unavailable to start design activities earlier.” ETA 2014.
  • Three other stops on 15th Ave NW have been delayed either due to a “late design change” or construction on adjacent property, including (notoriously) the southbound stop at Market St.

STB commenters are, in frustration, wont to chalk all the (very real) deficiencies in RapidRide up to pervasive incompetence or supposed animus to their neighborhood on the part of Metro, but I know enough of  the people involved well enough to say that’s not the case. From the information in this list, and from talking both on- and off-the-record, to Metro staff both high and low, about the tottering launch of the C & D Lines, my impression is of an agency that’s simply stretched too thin (especially, understaffed in facilities, field supervision and outreach) to properly deliver services of the quality it has publicly committed to deliver, and which riders should expect.

While I’m temperamentally suspicious of (and disinclined to throw to throw money at) bureaucracy, it may not be reasonable to expect any major improvements to Metro bus service without a substantial chunk of new revenue, in large part for new service hours, and to backfill the two-year $20 Congestion Reduction Charge when it expires, but also to fill empty positions among back-of-house staff who can design and plan such improvements. Of course, such new revenue would also free the agency from pressure to make difficult but important efficiency improvements in the bus network, presenting a difficult choice to those of us who are keen to see public money spent where it is most effective.

While exchanging email on the subject of RapidRide with Metro staff, I took the opportunity to ask about RapidRide’s infamous near-complete omission of published schedules, and I’ll discuss that tomorrow.

85 Replies to “The RapidRide Punchlist”

  1. I have to wonder if Metro staff feel like their hanging onto the tails of a technology beast that sounded good in the RFP’s but have become a quagmire of complexity.
    Metro was introduced to simple OPTICOM technology in the early 90’s to switch traffic signals on demand by approaching buses. It’s the same transmitters that fire trucks use, and can be set for various priorities of pre-emption. Rainier eventually got some. Simple!
    They were also introduced to GPS tracking software to keep track of all the buses in real time. Simple!
    Instead, we now have a system that requires ground cables, wifi, and untold complexity in both implementation, operation, and I suspect very high cost.
    By the time the vendors and bureaucrats design things like AVL, Realtime info, or ORCA systems, only a cadre of vendors can keep things running (OMG, a contract forever). What ever happened to my parking meter TVM idea of spitting out a 2 hour transit ticket good for anything to anywhere? Simple! (Died at Metro and SDOT)
    Of course, when the politicians want more money to support the new program, they are spoon fed the accolades of the vision, but few of the messy details of ‘what-if’, so here we are with dysfunctional BRT, Sounder Trains that are 5x more expensive than a bus, and BART II to suburbia and the GMA Fringe-ville stop because Mayor Duffus lives there.
    All Aboard.

    1. They were also introduced to GPS tracking software to keep track of all the buses in real time.

      Complex! I can’t do a better job of explaining it than this.

      we now have a system that requires ground cables, wifi, and untold complexity in both implementation, operation

      If you’re referring to RapidRide there, then only one of those are required. Yes, ground cables are required. How else do you expect the ORCA readers to work? WiFi isn’t required but is a cheap bonus. The bus communicates with the signal cabinet wirelessly for TSP, and the link is speedy enough to support WiFi so they added it.

  2. Another one for the list – no lighting as of yet at either stop at 3rd & Virginia.

    I think Metro’s biggest failure around the D Line launch is going ahead with the launch with so many things not working. I think folks would have understood “we hit some delays we hadn’t anticipated so we’ll be waiting another service change to do it” but the decision to go ahead with it has tarnished the overall Rapid Ride brand.

    1. I noticed that this weekend, and it’s weird because I remember the lighting working at some point.
      Maybe when the ripped up the concrete to extend the stop it was shut off?

      1. I think the lighting stopped working when they expanded the bus zone. That stop really needs some lighting for the winter months.

  3. I get that they’re stretched thin, but the GM should know that and present realistic timelines to the council. You have to know what you’re agency is capable of and not overpromise and underdeliver because that destroys the public’s trust.

    And if you know you’re going to miss and the startup is going to be rough, then say so.

    1. I would have appretiated a Feb 2013 delayed startup over what we got, especially for the D Line, which has a lot to get done still.

  4. For the Uptown stops, they are physically complete. But the 1st Avenue stops are still not powered, the southbound stop at John has a blank real-time arrival sign (but working ORCA reader), and the ORCA reader is out-of-service westbound at Queen Anne/Mercer.

  5. I thought that they were supposed to have “traffic signal priority” set-up. How is it that I find (at least on C Line) that the bus spends just as much time at the stoplights?
    AND, why on earth is the seating on the coaches so messed up? What’d Metro say-something along the lines of having wider aisles? It just seems that all the seats get filled real quick and by the time the bus gets to to the Junction, people are having to consider standing-It really doesn’t help when there’s no bus for 20-25 minutes, then two of them come-that seems to be happening quite a bit.

    1. I think RR seating is the least of the complaints from most folks here. The third door and more open space helps with internal circulation and can help prevent excessive delays when a bus is full. Many routes serving locations outside of West Seattle (such as the U District, 550 to Bellevue, Eastgate expresses, etc.) frequently have crowded standing-room-only coaches and would appreciate the extra standing space and third door.

    2. The seating arrangement is the same as on the A and B lines. It is designed to give more people room to stand. I find it frustrating that some riders have suddenly declared standing on a bus to be a violation of the Geneva Convention. We all stand on buses, so c’mon let’s get real.

      But if you do have stories of riders who actually need to sit, asked the operator for help, and did not get it, then we have something to be concerned about.

      As for waiting 20 minutes for a bus at peak of peak, I’m a little disturbed that Metro is catering more to the desire to get home faster than the desire to get to work on time. The morning commute is when on-time performance is of the essence. I do hope headway control gets worked out over time, but we can’t have buses sitting in Belltown on standby all day in case one falls behind.

      1. Standing on a bus or train is tolerable and even expected on short duration trips.
        Metro and ST are very much in the long haul business, so riders want a reasonable expectation that they will find a seat on those routes. Chronic standing on a 30 minute trip to work everyday will surely have riders looking for other ways.
        Are there any studies out there showing the relationship I just described?

      2. RapidRide buses have more seats than the S.L.U.T. I think it is something like 40 seats on the S.L.U.T. and 50 on the RapidRide buses, compared to up to 60 seats on a “regular” Metro articulated bus.

        So, if this city is ever foolish enough to run long streetcar lines out to Ballard or UW, for example, will they have gthe same seating arrangement as the S.L.U.T., with even few seats than RapidRide buses?

        The streetcars in Seattle are 5 inches narrower than a bus, so I think it is not possible to have 4 seats across on a streecar — that would make the aisles too narrow.

      3. mic, I’m not sure about studies regarding ridership, but Metro’s service guidelines state this as the threshold to increase the number of trips and/or adjust the schedule for a route:

        -When a route operates every 10-minutes or better, an individual trip should not exceed a load factor of 1.5.
        -When a route operates less than every 10-minutes, an individual trip should not exceed a load factor of 1.25.
        -No trip on a route should have a standing load for 20 minutes or longer.

        The load factor is the maximum load on a trip divided by the number of seats, and it is measured across all observations for that trip over the shakeup (not just on a given day).

  6. Would it be best for Metro to delay the roll-out of the E Line and/or the F Line? Recall that the route restructure that accompanied the current rollout was a lengthy process, taking over a year. I don’t want to see that process get dropped just out of fear that there will be detractors (and there always are when a transportation system gets improved). Maybe it could be done, but without so many rounds of watering down. But getting the existing lines done first would be nice.

    If staff is stretched too thin, I’m all for delaying the next rollouts. I really, really want to see Metro be brave enough to do restructures around the new lines. There is also a question of whether the new fleet will be ready (and sufficient).

    Of course, the restructuring around the rollout of Link still isn’t done, as the redundant 42 is still in service for two and a half more months.

    1. Yes, but they won’t. They shouldn’t have even tackled as many lines as they are. Not even one line qualifies as BRT; they should have halved the number of lines so that they could focus on two and made actual good service out of them. But geographic equity took favor over a quality product so people wouldn’t yell “Rabble rabble rabble” at public meetings.

    2. +1. And I’m someone who rides the 358/future E Line. I’m OK with waiting for the “improvements” that the E Line is supposed to bring (which I think will be minimal–although, it would be nice to have a bus shelter at my stop), if it means Metro can focus on giving my fellow riders the improvements that should already be in place on their RR lines.

  7. TSP: From a driver’s perspective, it is difficult to know for sure whether TSP is operating or not. Let’s remember that TSP is “priority” not “preemption”. That said, you get a pretty strong hint in areas where green lights stay green longer than you would expect, but even at those lights I would occasionally get red lights. Additionally, the closer you get to Kemper’s Kingdom, the less priority is allotted to Public Transportation of all kinds. Buses in the downtown Bellevue core spend an awful amount of time stuck at red lights. I don’t blame engineers here – It’s all on the council.

    B Line:

    An additional stop at 120th & NE 8th is probably warranted. That said, if Bellevue would speed up fixing the crosswalks in the area, one could argue that you don’t need this stop. Additionally, a queue jump light Eastbound at 120th & 8th should be a *requirement*.

    “Metro made a high-pain high-gain tradeoff to delay installing ORCA readers and real-time displays”

    Kudos for making the tradeoff – Avoiding the proverbial digging up and patching the street only to dig it up and patch it again after repaving should be encouraged and celebrated. What sucks here is that Metro, again, is in reactionary mode. Say it with me, Mr. Desmond: “Under-promise, over-deliver”. A simple explanation of the delay within RapidRide’s marketing program would have calmed a lot of complaints.

    1. From a driver’s perspective, it is difficult to know for sure whether TSP is operating or not.

      That means the TSP is not nearly aggressive enough.

      Maybe once every few weeks, I have a Link trip where the TSP doesn’t work for some reason. It’s incredibly obvious… because the train actually stops multiple times on MLK outside of stations.

      Trips would get monumentally faster if all signals along trunk bus routes were given a very aggressive, Link-style TSP program. Unfortunately that wasn’t cheap on Link and it wouldn’t be cheap on the buses, but it would really be one of the best capital projects we could possibly do.

      1. I agree. Key routes, RRs specifically, must (not should) get preemtion always. There’s zero excuse. Bus riders outweigh the delay to a few drivers (they are not a priority); always.

      2. “That means the TSP is not nearly aggressive enough”

        Absolutely agree. When I drove the B Line, I clocked anywhere from 9-14 minutes stopped at red lights. Some red lights are reasonable but many of the stops were completely unnecessary (i.e. Being stopped at a red light for 2 minutes when traffic in the other direction is light or nonexistent) I look at that wasted time as a resource – At some point ridership and/or political winds may change to make the B Line faster simply by turning the TSP dial to “aggressive”. If only Bellevue could get over it’s love affair with funneling cars into a single company’s property. Oh look, an election is coming up with only that company’s supported candidates up for reelection…

      3. @velobusdriver

        Agreed. Cities, especially ones like Bellevue, need to get on it and be more aggressive with their signals but King County (and elected officials) need to push local cities for more priority.

    2. I rode the B last week and sat near the middle of the bus, and saw a green light at 116th. Then the light went out of view as the bus went down the downslope of the freeway overpass. Guess what the bus did when we got to the intersection?

      “An additional stop at 120th & NE 8th is probably warranted.”

      That would probably officially put the nail in the coffin on “Rapid”Ride, but I would love that because I was going to a psychiatrist on 120th. And it doesn’t help that the place was closer to 12th, meaning the only reason I was on the B in the first place was because I’d missed the 226.

      1. As noted elsewhere, they *could* make up time for that stop by turning the TSP dial more towards “aggressive”.

        Bellevue does had funding for adding sidewalks on the south side of NE 8th but I’m pretty sure there will still be a gap once that project is done. If the sidewalks existed there, and there was a signal and crosswalk near the railroad tracks, it would be a reasonably walkable shopping area – at least relative to Bellevue’s horribly oversized streets.

      2. I fail to see the reason for the 120th stop. If the 116th stop is a problem due to the lack of sidewalk, use the 124th stop. Really, though, Bellevue should just fix the problem and add sidewalks. Too bad the business owner would probably scream because the loss of parking for him would outweigh the benefit.

      3. That whole area is slated for some pretty major road destruction over the next few years. The odd angled intersection where Bel-Red comes in will go away and 120th will be connected. Plus East Link will push through on the BNSF ROW. I expect the sidewalk situation will be corrected as part of that.

  8. Unfortunately, the TransitNow initiative was the “substantial chunk of new revenue, in large part for new service hours” you describe — including and especially RapidRide — and we all saw what happened to that revenue.

    First, 80% of it was squandered on low-demand 40-40-20 obligations. The rest of it was spread thinly around Seattle, yielding indetectable differences in usability or system quality.

    Metro dedicated TransitNow hours to 50-50 partnership matches with entities like Children’s, giving us more service on the monumentally useless 25. Other TransitNow hours went to sitting motionless on Denny (8) and Mercer (16).

    Finally, the economy happened, and this perpetual regressive tax went straight down the sinkhole of the Status Quo Fund.

    Why would we expect any better for the next funding stream “dedicated” to real and palpable improvement?

    1. For the record, the additional service hours on the 25 have long since been reallocated to the 75, where they are quite productive.

    2. TransitNow is also sales tax revenue, which is directly proportionate to the amount people spend. When the economy tanked, less revenue was brought in than had been expected.

      1. Poppycock.

        They squandered plenty before the crash. They continue to misallocate after. And they shortchanged everything they could possibly shortchange about the flagship service that TransitNow purported to create.

        Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, I’ll never trust you with a “substantial chunk of new revenue [that you claim will be] for new service hours” ever again.

      2. [Meh. I screwed up the adage. Extra embarrassing considering the last person who screwed it up in a high-profile manner. No more typing while walking for me.]

        Point being: shame on Metro. They’ve squandered the public trust good and proper.

      3. No, it’s simple economics. If you don’t like a product, don’t give money to it. Don’t give money to it and then complain about how much you don’t like it.

      4. Transit is not like canned soup. If you don’t like brand A soup you can buy brand B soup or make your own soup or buy chili instead. There is no brand B for transit, you can’t make it at home, and the alternative is being consigned to a life of driving and congestion and parking lots. We already went down that path for six decades and I don’t want to take a turn toward increasing auto dependency further. Metro may not be high quality but you’d like the service without Transit Now even worse.

      5. When over 70% of Metro’s operating money comes from sales tax, how do you not give money to them?

      6. Exactly, Oran.

        So you think that not giving money to Metro will improve transit service?

        I think it has been well demonstrated that giving money to Metro will not improve transit service either. So what’s the difference?

    3. I experienced a very real service improvement from Transit Now in the form of additional #14 trips in the peak, which was at the time part of my daily commute (and an actual, reliable, every day shoulder-to-shoulder crush load at peak below 12th, no matter what Norman says). I’m sure people in Fall City loved the additional trips they got on the 929, too (thanks 40/40/20!).

      But the added Transit Now funding was basically cancelled out when sales tax revenues tanked. So saying they underdelivered on the promise isn’t really fair, when there was an overall reduction in transit funding, despite its passage.

      1. Add mediocre service, cut worthwhile service, skimp on crucial core service. Nice trade-off!

        Had the TransitNow funding actually be “dedicated” to doing useful things — as it was supposed to be — it might still be doing those useful things today.

  9. What’s the news on Metro providing RapidRide arrival information in a format that OneBusAway and others can use? It’s great that RapidRides come every 15 minutes, but when I live less than 5 minutes from a stop it’d be great so I can time to get to the stop when they come rather than get there just as one has pulled away.

    1. Metro’s own internal bus tracking system is working but OBA isn’t up to date. Metro has helped OBA but it looks like Metro doesn’t see OBA as a critical part of their mission, or at least they don’t have the staffing to do so.

      1. Not sure what you mean by “Metro’s own internal bus tracking system”. I used the Metro bus tracker (the one accessed via http://trackerloc.kingcounty.gov/) again yesterday, and got (as I often do) results like:

        – 2 buses listed as having left ~30 minutes ahead of schedule
        – my bus of interest listed as being 300 minutes late (it actually showed up 1 minute late)

        Maybe you mean something else I don’t know about. But the one I used is accessed from, and is at, a KCMetro website, so it would appear that KCMetro has at least some direct responsibility for it.

      2. My impression is that Metro has been bending over backwards to help OBA, and has been very grateful for amount of troubleshooting data and “ground-truth” we have been able to give them in return. The big problem, as you said, is that they are understaffed and have a ton of work to do—so is OBA, for that matter.

        The fact that the issue with OBA and Tracker is really complex to both understand and fix doesn’t help. It is being worked on, though, along with all the other issues in OBA that have popped up recently.

  10. Why wouldn’t Metro, instead of adding new RapidRide stops at 120th Ave NE, compromise or split the difference and take out the stops at 116th Ave NE and put a stop midway between 116th and 120th? In other words, don’t have stops at both 116th and 120th, but just have a stop at 118th. Did they consider that option?

    1. That’s allowing the tail to wag the dog. 116th is the Overlake Hospital stop, which is one of the most major destinations along the route.

      It might work once Link is running to the hospital.

      1. There are other routes that serve Overlake hospital better (226, 234, 235), stopping next to the main entrance. The B Line stops are 500 to 600 feet away from the hospital.

        Does anyone know why some of the B Line off-board ORCA readers have been hooded for over a year?

      2. 116th is the Overlake Hospital Whole Foods stop, The only major stop on East Link that isn’t a P&R is BTC.

      3. Q: “Does anyone know why some of the B Line off-board ORCA readers have been hooded for over a year?”
        A: “Metro has three stops with the same no-ETA “wireless connection” problem as the A line”

        The list of hooded ORCA readers should match Metro’s “wireless connection” punch list. Additionally, I’ve been told that gaps in the wireless cloud interfere with TSP since the “system” loses track of bus locations.

      4. That has always surprised me, why the stop is so far in the middle of the block. I’m surprised Metro hasn’t gotten complaints about the stop being on an incline from the intersection.

  11. I’ve been riding D line a few times in the evenings, outside of commute time, and one thing I can say is that name Rapid is a complete misnomer. It is as slow as any other bus and signal priority or orca readers have nothing to do with that. The only solution is to space stops much further away… or replace word rapid with ‘frequent’ — that is the only difference I’ve noticed.

    1. or replace word rapid with ‘frequent’

      The problem is that outside of commute time it isn’t frequent either. In fact, the reduced frequency of the evening 40 compared to the 18 leads to an overall increase in wait times to get from downtown to Ballard.

      I’ve proposed in the past that since we can’t saturate the route with 5-minute all-day frequency we should rip out half of RapidRide D’s stops to make it truly rapid and finally replace the otherwise redundant 15X. Reinvest the saved service hours from that and other low-hanging fruit into providing 15-minute all-day service on the restored 15 local, and we could have a truly operational express/local pair on 15th Ave NW.

      By the way, I got stuck in Rush concert traffic the other night going north through Lower Queen Anne. How ironic. You can’t build a backbone that is so catastrophically sensitive to nearby events. It kills the reliability and usefulness of the service. RapidRide D must stop serving the LQA deviation.

      1. I ended up riding the D at peak last night and this morning, and what struck me is that it seemed that no more than half the riders (30-35) were going to Downtown from Ballard or vice-versa. The D as it exists seems as much a LQA route as a Ballard one, really.

      2. Any time you add an unnecessary deviation to a bus route, you create a situation where people that are going through the deviation choose not to ride the bus because it’s too slow, while people who are going to the deviation are more likely to ride the bus because it goes closer to where they’re going. This creates ridership numbers that make the deviation superficially look justified. But these ridership numbers don’t mention all the people would would take the D-line from downtown to Ballard, but drive instead because they don’t have time to get stuck in Seattle Center event traffic, nor does it mention that the people who actually do want to go from downtown to LQA would not be lost – they would simply take the 2 or 13 or simply walk a few blocks further. Furthermore, eliminating the deviation saves service hours, which can be reinvested to make either the D-line itself or the 2 run more frequently.

      3. There seems to be an unspoken assumption here that nobody in Ballard wants to go to see the events that are causing the traffic in LQA. I recall that right now the D deviates so it isn’t stuck in stadium event traffic, but people are complaining about that too…

        I was seeing a certain amount of LQABallard demand.

      4. It is impossible to go right next to Key Arena and not be stuck in Seattle Center traffic. Those in Ballard that want to go to events at Seattle Center can get off on Elliot and walk. But putting the bus right in the path where it’s going to be stuck in the long line of cars going in and out of the parking garages at Seattle Center from people driving to events is just asinine. Especially when you impose these delays on people going to downtown who are just passing through the area.

  12. My impression is of an agency that’s simply stretched too thin to properly deliver services of the quality it has publicly committed to deliver

    I imagine some of this is because vacant positions were not refilled due to budget shortages. And those vacancies were not created because of budget issues but because of separations/promotions/retirements.

  13. It is strange because real time arrivals and the ORCA card reader at 8th & 124th worked up until the end of this summer. It also makes sense that I have been seeing 120th show up on next stop on WB B line trips

  14. Is there any plan to upgrade all the B line stops to include the real-time arrival signs? At least on 148th, they seem to be in all the wrong places — the stops at Old Red Rd and 51st have the full treatment for a handful of riders, while further up 148th the stops at 46th and 40th are always busy but have neither signs nor off-board payment. This shouldn’t be surprising either, since the first two stops serve low-density housing and parks (who takes the bus to Bellevue Golf Course?), but the latter are surrounded by apartments and office buildings.

      1. The good news is that Redmond was able to talk some sense into the ST planners and drop the planned excursion up NE 24th to make that same deviation to 152nd Ave NE.

      2. There was talk of Redmond handing over operations of the lights at 152nd and Bel-red road to Bellevue so they could coordinate the signals better. I don’t know if this has happened yet. This stretch was the most irritating to me as the TSP seemed to be ATSP – Anti Transit Signal Priority.

        As much as I tease/gripe about Bellevue, they do have their ducks in a row for most of the signals that they operate – that is, until you get within the sphere of influence of Kemperland… About 116th is where it all turns to molasses although at least the B line is headed with the flow until 108th.

      3. 152nd and Bel-Red? They don’t actually intersect, and RR-B doesn’t go near the almost intersection.

      4. Clarification: 152nd & NE 24th and Bel-Red & NE 24th are Redmond lights. 156th & NE 24th is a Bellevue light. Coordination between the two was horrible last year.

      5. Being an optimist, I’m just greatful that at least the B-line stays on the street and doesn’t go into the parking lot like the 253 used to do. The existing stop on 152nd is at least useful for access to Safeway, Fred Meyer, or the other stores in the Overlake Shopping Center. Whereas the old 253 stop was all about people in one particular apartment building (who could have easily cut through Group Health to access 156th Ave.) and nothing else.

  15. Bruce, I (and I’m sure others, based on the replies above) would love it if you could get some on- or off-the-record feedback on whether Metro considered delaying the launch, and, if so, why they ultimately decided against it.

    Being understaffed and underfunded is certainly understandable. Rolling out a major product this incomplete isn’t.

  16. In all the bashing of Metro on this thread, let’s not forget another culprit: the City of Seattle. Many of the explanations in the post above that Metro staff gave for delays are due to City staff.

    This falls directly on Mayor McGinn as the head of the administration. I am a supporter of McGinn, but SDOT and other City departments have clearly dropped the ball here. Bureaucracies, when not prodded by strong leadership, devolve into feifdoms that obstruct and delay anyone outside their department. I read once that Mayor Nickels had to instruct each city department to cooperate with and expedite ST’s light rail construction. Until that directive, they simply didn’t know that was expected. The basic assumption was that ST was an outsider to be opposed, delayed, complained against, etc.

    SDOT under McGinn’s administration clearly hasn’t heard the message that RapidRide’s success was important, even critical. SDOT reps have even posted on this site that in terms of traffic signal priority, cars get preference over buses if the cars carry more traffic. That is not planning, that is reactionary. People choose to use the travel mode that the City prioritizes, and in the SDOT budget and operations practice, that mode is still private autos.

    1. Link was Mayor Nickels’ baby, and we need to give him full credit for that. But as for local transit needs and concerns, I feel that McGinn has been far more productive in this area than Nickels ever was. The city’s not moving as fast on it as I would like, but I feel like they’re moving faster on it than any time I can recall.

  17. Does anyone else remember that Rapidride C was delayed by around a year because Metro felt that viaduct construction would slow it down to the point that it would damage the brand? They did that, and yet somehow felt that it was OK to launch D when it was (not even) half baked. I cannot think of anything more damaging to the RR image than what they had ready on day 1 for line D.

    1. I guess the name reflects the letter grade Metro earned for each RR deployment. The trend isn’t looking good for Renton-Burien :=

  18. I was surprised to see the homeless encampment under the Ballard Bridge gone tonight – the area was clean and looked like underused commuter parking. Very odd. The D stop, by contrast, was trashed – I cleaned it up a bit while waiting.

  19. The question is are these lines really ‘Rapid Ride’ or simply a prettier version of a regular metro bus route? They still sit in traffic regardless of priority signals. Stop focusing so much on real time arrival information and techy gadgets and put in place real rapid transit. This is a big joke to me. But hey I think they were given free federal dollars to build it.

  20. Brent, if someone does need to sit and gets on at the back door of a long RR buses, it’s hard to get to the front to ask the driver anything. It’s also embarrassing to have to do so on a daily basis, especially if you don’t look as if you need a seat (no cane, no limp, etc.) I personally just avoid the RR buses now unless I can see that there are seats.

    1. I’m puzzled why you don’t just enter at the front door then, where the operator will gladly assist you. If you see the same operators every day, they will get used to the routine.

      It seems some of your neighbors are taking advantage of your situation by demanding that everyone get a seat, which is not something Metro can honor for just one route when other neighborhoods have dealt with full buses and occasionally getting passed by for years.

      I get it that not everyone can stand. I hope the people berating Metro get it that not everyone needs to sit, and indeed most riders are capable of standing.

  21. The RapidRide systems required tons of mutual coordination with municipal projects so the system could be built out to the extent we see now. The RapidRide system is leveraged using projects paid for and implemented by others. Metro is at the mercy of these projects and has very little influence on them.

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