In the comments to Bruce’s post on RapidRide E&F, some folks wondered how the routes were chosen, since the Metro routes being replaced have vastly different ridership numbers, as the Times reported recently.

Well, I don’t have any answers, but this map of RapidRide routes overlaid on King County Council districts might shed some insight.

RapidRide meets KC Council
RapidRide meets KC Council

I’m being a bit cheeky here because of course the districts are drawn based on population, which means the population centers are divided between them, making some amount of district-straddling routes inevitable.  That said, I don’t actually think it’s a bad strategy to spread out support. Defense contractors figured out long ago that the best weapons system is one that’s built in all 435 congressional districts and never actually ships. So kudos to Metro making RapidRide “hard to kill” in the political parlance.

44 Replies to “RapidRide Route Selection”

  1. Clearly, my representative in District 1 isn’t pulling his weight. (I guess that would be our new AG, since the new guy hasn’t had a chance to make a difference yet.)

    1. I guess Shoreline counts. A glance made I-5 look like a district border and so I read it as part of District 4.

  2. RR A had the largest gain, since the route it replaced (174), only operated every 30 minutes off peak and 20-30 minutes peak. RR B already had every 15 minute weekday midday service (replaced combined 230 and 253 service), RR C replaced the 54 (which gained more frequent weekday and saturday service just a few shakeups before RR C, as part of viaduct mitigation), and RR D replaced Route 15, which already 20 minute service weekday midday and Saturday. RR E and F routes that will it replace (358 and 140) already have frequent weekday midday service (every 15 minutes). So, for the exception of RR A, it did not cost much more service hours (weekdays is the most expensive to add service hours). Too bad I wished RR F would been Route 169 instead. That route needs more service and running artics on the 140 is kind of a waste of resources. It will be curious how they will handle the extra peak directional frequencies on the RR E line, since it is costly to buy extra RR buses, when they cannot be used on other non RR routes.

    1. “I wished RR F would been Route 169 instead. That route needs more service”

      You’ve just said one reason why the 169 might not have been chosen. On the B, C, D, and E, only a few evening trips and Sundays had to be filled in. The grant didn’t cover that so Metro had to pull hours from other service. But the 169 would have to be doubled in the daytime and quadrupled evenings. That’s a lot of service hours and South King County is the poorest subarea.

    2. Mike, you’re totally right, but how perverse. We improve an already good-enough bus route because that’s cheaper than improving the route that really needs improvement.

      I think you can make a cogent case that the 169 is the single route throughout the entire KC Metro and Sound Transit systems that needs a major increase in frequency.

      If you’re considering actual ridership and service patterns, I think it’s obvious that the following are the corridors that should get the RapidRide treatment first:

      12/11 (Madison BRT)
      150/180 (Southcenter-Auburn BRT)

      The problem is that the only one of those that would be easy and cheap to RR-ize is the 120. Everything else would need either major capital improvements (7, 12/11) or a restructure coupled with a major increase in hours (150/180, 169).

      1. If people would just stop pinching pennies and give Metro funding to fill in the frequency gaps on all the core routes as has been Metro’s plan all along, we could have had this done ten years ago. Then we would have frequencies like Chicago, San Francisco, and Vancouver that would really incentivize people to take transit. Forcing Metro to truncate the 27 and run the 168 hourly in order to improve service on Jackson or allow the 164 to exist at all is just scraping at the bottom of the barrel. We should do better than that, but it requires a council and a state and voters willing to do so.

      2. You may recall the the strategy in Seattle Prop 1 2011 was not additional service hours, but all capital improvements, designed to yield operating efficiencies. That fed into John Fox’s line of attack that no new service hours would be added (not that he is any friend to additional bus service hours). That is a strategic error we should probably not repeat.

  3. I’m curious if anyone’s aware of plans for new lines. My understanding is there are none, but maybe some people have heard things through unofficial channels?

    I guess the southeastern U-District will be getting Link in three years, but there’s still a fairly wide gap between there and Aurora that could be filled with north-south “rapid” bus service. Admittedly I’m not sure exactly where it could run, and I don’t know if the ridership numbers would justify it, but who knows.

    1. Don’t forget that North Link will be filling in a big gap in the western part of NE Seattle.

      In my opinion, the best N/S corridors for further development east of Link are (in this order) the current 372 corridor, the current 373 corridor north of 65th, and the current 75 corridor (connecting with E/W corridors at both ends).

    2. I’ve definitely heard talk of Delridge RapidRide, I guess replacing the 120. Also I think Sound Transit was talking about Lake City Way BRT to connect to Link.

      1. This was originally an actual drawn line under discussion in planning for the Viaduct replacement… and disappeared as the bored tunnel’s increasing budget ate up lots of the amenities originally envisioned as part of the waterfront project. IIRC, it may have even been intended to slip in as RR F.

        It’s still on the minds of Metro planners, and SDOT is using some federal grant monies to make improvements and repave Delridge in anticipation of improved service in the (realtively) near future.

    3. Most people I have talked to at Metro believe the 120 corridor is the most likely to be next due to both ridership and lower cost.

      There are no new lines right now in the pipeline due to the uncertainty around federal transit funding.

      1. I think you meant the uncertainty about local transit funding. Federal transit funding is stronger in the Obama era, but Metro can’t take on any new projects while its local funding just barely covers operations and is under threat of a 17% cut. The federal grants are only for capital expenses, not operations, and they don’t cover 100%, so there needs to be solid local funding to complement it. Transit Now was caught in the rising oil prices of early 2008 and the great recession of late 2008, and so RapidRide had to be cut down further from its already watered-down level. Until there’s stable local funding for expansion, there won’t be any more RapidRides.

      2. @Mike Actually as we reported a few times the Very Small Starts FTA programs which is what funds the RapidRide program changed under MAP-21 in a way that focuses on funding high quality BRT and improvements for regular buses. So for example the 7,44,48,120 are getting some BRT type speed and reliability improvements but not the full RapidRide treatment.

  4. didnt some of the district boundaries change a year or so ago? I wonder if metro took this into consideration or if they even knew?

    1. It’s only a slight exaggeration (mostly because of Factoria and Covington) to say that no one from District 9 will ever ride public transit.

      1. Don’t know if it counts, but there is a Connector route to Maple Valley. There is also the possibility that a few people from district 9 might be driving to Kent or Tukwila to take Sounder into downtown.

  5. The story was that Boeing complained to Tom Foley about how he wasn’t supporting something it wanted and Foley replied by asking how many employees they had in the Fifth District. Guess where they located the next facility of Boeing Computer Services.

  6. This mashup of council districts and RR routes doesn’t demonstrate much. It certainly doesn’t explain Rapid Ride F, which serves the boundary of Districts 5 & 8. The heart of District 8 is already served by RR-C, and RR-A passes through the length of District 5.

    Now we would know that District gerrymandering is going on if a RapidRide conversion was scheduled for Route 143 to Maple Valley.

  7. Rapid Ride F is not quite the dog that ridership numbers would suggest. In terms of a long-term capital investment, it is attractive. Boeing will dramatically be increasing workforce at the Renton plant. The Landing is attracting both retail jobs and housing. Renton is aggressively promoting housing in its downtown around the transit center, as is Burien. Southcenter is home to 100,000 retail jobs. Connections to Sounder, Link, and RR A all make this line an important link in eventually building a network of frequent bus service to key job and residential centers in the county.

    1. but you do have to admit that route 7 specifically would have been a better choice – it serves thousands of customers a day and is slow as ****.

      1. Anyone who doesn’t want to put up with the 7 always has the option of walking a few extra blocks to either Link or the I-90/Ranier freeway station. With limited resources, RapidRide is better spent on corridors that Link is not already serving.

      2. The 7 would be very expensive to convert in a way that would make any difference to its speed or reliability.

    2. Once RR F is in place can the 560 skip Renton TC and stay on the freeway all the way from Bellevue TC to SEA?

      1. The answer is no for several reasons. First is trips from Renton to either the airport or Burien. 10-15 minutes on the 560, 40-45 minutes on Crapid-ride F, with a transfer to Link. The F-line is horrendously slow and indirect. Yes, making the 560 skip Renton would speed up trips from Bellevue to the airport, but if we learned anything from the C and D-line debacle, the number one rule of transit planning is to never forget the Hippocratic oath – do no harm. A rider who loses time as the result of a change matters a lot more than a rider who saves the same amount of time as a result of the same change.

        Second, making the 560 skip Renton would make it unusable for trips between Bellevue and Renton. This is not too big a deal when the 566 is running, especially during the peak when the 566 runs frequently. But, on weekends, this is a huge deal. Make the 560 skip Renton and a 30-minute trip from Bellevue to Renton on the 560 turns into a 60-minute trip on the super-slow, meandering 240.

      2. beginning in the fall sound transit will be converting all of the Kent to overlake 566 trips into 567 routes which skip renton. they plan to coordinate the 560 and 566 trips to keep buses going through renton every 15 minutes. if you read past sound transit service implementation plans you will know that they think about these things constantly.

      3. Well, it makes sense. Dropped off my son this morning at S. Kirk. P&R headed to SEA for a choir tour in Italy and Croatia. a 255 showed up within a minute of dropping him off. 20 minutes later he was on Link headed to the airport. Probably faster than a direct bus on 405 most mornings. And somewhat sad, faster than it would be from the planned 130th P&R if East Link were running today. Except when East Link goes live the 255 will be kicked out of the tunnel. Slower and billions of dollars more; that’s progress?

    3. also remember that the f line will use different routing east og southcenter. ridership west of there is already awesome but they are modifying the route to serve providence. in short it will not serve grady way.

    4. Connections to sounder and link from downtown Renton?! Is this a joke?! every 10 minutes on an articulated bus? why?! where do you go when you get to the Tukwila Sounder or even worse, Tukwila Link???? Don’t tell me Seattle because you can take 101, 102, 143, 167 in half less time without transfers, and it better not be thr airport because 560 already provides near VIP service non-stop to the check-in counters. So whats left? Dull ghetto of Pacific HWY on RR A, or continue west to the same in Burien? I mean no one is that desparate to live in Burien and work in Renton. It’s insane to think that Boeing, FAA, Paccar, and many other well paid employees of Renton will choose to live in Burien or Pacific HWY corridor, when Renton has all the same services and even better quality of life, not to mention the close proximity to work. As for the big box employees of Renton, they should apply for low income housing. Renton even has its own housing authority. If they work for $9/hour and commute far, then it’s a little ignorant, if not mental. You are much better off being on welfare than working then.

  8. So, one of my questions is, will the A line and the F line connect well, (The A line arrives at Tukwila Link Station 5 minutes before both east and west bound F lines arrive, and vice versa)? If so, that would be a good transit incentive for people of Burien-Renton because of many of the things on the A-line. Also, do you think that the F line will actually drive into the Tukwila international boulevard station, like the A line does, or will it just have a stop off to the side (like the A line at Redondo Heights P&R)?

    1. Yes, the F Line will probably drive into TIBS. For riders on the eastbound F Line, this is unfortunate, as most riders can walk from Southcenter Blvd to the transfer area faster than the bus takes to get there. I can see why westbound riders would want to loop into the lot.

      Maybe the Linden diversion has shown us the way…

    2. As for the connection timing, keep pushing it with Metro. I’d say its a matter of how many people ask, and when it gets into the service planners’ to-do list.

    1. No, the A is a local. Link will not serve everything on 99, just the largest points in and out of the area.

      1. Still, along the Federal Way to Seattle corridor is:

        ST Express 577/78
        Rapid Ride A
        Standard local buses

        Kent to Seattle:

        Sounder (rush hour weekdays only)
        150 Local

      2. Kent also has express buses that go to Seattle. keep in mind the 150 takes about an hour to get from Kent to Seattle. it takes about 40 minutes to get from federal way to tukwila on crapid ride not to mention the rude passengers on that line.

    2. Unfortunately Kent might have to wait a while. The real pattern for Rapid Ride routes is like this:

      The A Line goes by the Airport. The B Line goes to Bellevue. The C and D lines were supposed to go to Crown Hill and Delridge, but then they decided to go to Fauntleroy and switched the two, apparently on accident. The E Line will go all the way to the edge of the county and the F Line never leaves sight of the freeway.

      Since you missed the chance for Auburn and East Hill lines, you’ll have to wait for the K Line. Before that comes… a line near the Burke-Gilman Trail, for part of its length at least, roughly along the 522’s path. You’ll be able to see Harbor Island and the Hight Point from the Delridge-based H Line. The I Line will go to Issaquah, though it won’t relieve their peak overcrowding issues. Then the J Line, a massive 48-speedup project, will end near Judkins Park. Finally, after all this, the K Line may serve Kent… unless you let Kirkland win.

    3. John, agitate with ST in favor of sending the 578 to Kent and replacing the service to Federal Way with a stop on the 594. That’s the way you’re going to get better Kent-Seattle service.

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