We’ve written before about SDOT’s long-running efforts to improve transit speed and reliability, and the rider experience, at heavily-used stops on key corridors, by constructing sidewalk extensions (or transit islands) to improve bus speed and reliability, reconstructing the sidewalks at and around the stops to improve pavement quality and accessibility, and installing or upgrading shelters. For maximum efficiency and effect, these small projects have often been combined with Metro stop consolidations (e.g. Market, Rainier) or SDOT repaving projects (e.g. Dexter, 85th, Northgate).
Soon, riders will reap further rewards from this low-profile but important work: 25 new real-time arrival signs on the Jackson/Rainier and Market/45th corridors. SDOT is currently working on the 13 signs on Jackson/Rainier, and will install the Market/45th signs as funding permits.
The stop locations slated for real-time signs are as follows:
- On Jackson, serving Routes 7, 14 and 36, eastbound at 12th and Maynard.
- On Rainier, serving Routes 7 and others, at the following cross-streets, northbound only except where noted: Walker (also southbound), Forest (also southbound; transfer point for Mount Baker Station), Walden, Andover, Genessee, Orcas, Graham, Rose, Henderson.
- On Market/45th, serving Route 44 and others at the following cross-streets, in both directions except where noted: Ballard Ave, 15th Ave NW, Phinney Ave (eastbound only), Roosevelt/11th Ave, University Ave.
- On 15th Ave NE in the U-District, at all stops in both directions between Pacific and 45th.
To give a sense of what these things (and public works generally) cost, from the numbers SDOT gave me, a three-line realtime sign and a pole to mount it on costs just over $6,500 — not including installation or setup. These signs require a fiber drop to be in place to deliver data, so their installation must almost always be preceded by a complete rebuild of the stop. A stop reconstruction, including a fiber drop but minus the cost of poles, shelter and furniture, is roughly $100,000 (if it’s not included in a larger paving project, in which case it’s effectively free).
More after the jump.
I’ve raved before about SDOT’s bus priority work, but I’m going to do it again: this work is unsexy and thankless, but it’s essential to our transit future. We need Seattle buses (and for that matter, Seattle trains) to be more like trains in other cities with high transit mode-share: frequent, direct, reliable and comprehensible; riders should always feel they know when to expect the next bus. Real-time signs, bus bulbs and stop consolidations get us incrementally towards that goal, and SDOT deserves praise for making this happen on a tiny budget. Between Metro’s RapidRide and SDOT’s efforts, maybe a third of Seattle’s top-tier all-day routes will have real-time signs at major stops, and while this is not a substitute for real rapid transit, it is not an insignificant achievement.
I will offer a few constructive criticisms as a rider of these routes. I’m sure SDOT is correctly interpreting the boarding numbers they have, although I’m not sure if they include all routes, or just the 7 and 44, but there are a couple of things that perhaps could make things better for riders which may not be evident from the data. The first one is adding a pair of real-time signs between Stone Way and Wallingford Ave: these stops are common to the 16 and 44, and some of them, especially those outside Wallingford Center and QFC, are quite busy. The 16 schedule is not worth the paper it’s printed on for much of the day, so real-time arrival would really help those riders, and any stop with real-time signs would likely become a preferred stop and transfer point in short order.
Similarly, the signs at Rainier & Forest will work great for people catching the 7, 9 or northbound 8, but do nothing for those catching the 14, 48 or southbound 8, as those routes serve the Mount Baker Transit Center, not the street stops; and the number of riders for the 8 and 48 are substantial. SDOT would do those riders a huge favor if they could find some way to add a sign to MBTC. Of course, the ultimate solution to this problem is eliminating MBTC and its associated headaches, replacing it with the transit-contraflow bowtie Martin wrote about, but that could be a while.