Red Bus Lanes Euston Road
Red Bus Lanes Euston Road. Flickr user Ian Fisher.

[UPDATE: the other locations are Wall St. between 3rd and Denny, Midvale Pl. approaching Aurora Ave, and Pacific St. approaching the Montlake bridge.]

SDOT is unveiling it at 3pm:

First Red Bus Lane Installed in Seattle

First of four locations with new red marking; More on-street transit improvements coming

WHAT:  First block of red bus lane installed in Seattle

WHEN:  Today – Tuesday, October 21 at 3:00 p.m.

WHERE:  Southwest corner of Battery Street and Fourth Avenue

Today Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) crews will be completing Seattle’s very first block of red transit lane. Scott Kubly, director of SDOT, will highlight this brand new bus facility, explain where you will see more red lanes in 2014, and discuss other improvements to help transit in 2014 and 2015.

This is one of those simple things that makes a big difference. A NYC study suggests that painting the road a noticeable color increases compliance. Four other locations (announced at 3pm) will get this treatment in 2014. One also hopes this would encourage conversion of part-time bus lanes (like 3rd Avenue) into full-time ones.

52 Replies to “First Red Bus Lane Opens Today”

  1. FINALLY!!! Astonishing that this took over 5 months from announcement to implementation.

    Now, let’s get some police enforcement to really drive home the point.

    1. Is traffic enforcement on board with this? They’re the ones who can make drivers pay attention.

      1. Well Zed, they were all over Third Avenue this afternoon around 4:00.
        I don’t know what the driving rules on Third are, but there were several police cars, black vehicles w/blue lights, and motorcycle cops pulling cars over.
        I was watching the event while waiting for a bus @ 3rd & Spring.

  2. I like red bus lanes! Some drivers just don’t pay attention to bus only lane markings, so this will be more effective.

    I do wonder how red color is going to look in 5 or 10 years, though.

      1. London’s bus lanes have the red colouring integral with the asphalt, not painted on top. It’s not as vibrant as paint when it goes down, but it lasts a lot longer.

    1. My father in law was in UWMC for a heart valve replacement last week so during breaks I took my rather ostentatious camera out to the Pacific Place sidewalk in front of the Surgery Pavilion. I would very obviously take repeated pictures of everyone who drove in the bus lane, aiming at the license plate.

      You’d be pleasantly surprised how many jumped into the middle lane when they saw me. They knew they were breaking the law; it wasn’t ignorance.

      Since I don’t live in Seattle, I can’t do this regularly, but I’d recommend it as something others might do from time to time a nice little “eff you” to the autoistas.

      1. Anyone else smell a public art / modern media project?

        Commission statues of Seattleites wielding cameras to stand at key intersections. Tourists will enjoy hunting for them (the guy with the targus backpack! Pumpkin spice latte + Uggs taking a selfie! Keens, hiking pants, marmot fleece!). One random statue per day actually takes photos (via some low-power camera in the statue) and broadcasts blurred versions to twitter.

        Surveillance, mobility — those are buzzwords, right?

  3. So glad this is happening. I get really tired of everyone getting in the right lane at 6th and Wall. If that’s reserved for busses, STAY OUT!

      1. It would be interesting to flesh out a city-wide application of this, supporting David Lawson’s Frequent Bus plan.

        Politics notwithstanding, of course.

      2. Glad to see them doing this, although I worry about the durability. As Peter says above the coloration is an integral part of the road surface in London.

        Also, $15,000 sounds like an awful lot to paint just one block. 12 feet wide * 110 yards long: that’s about 4000 square feet. You should be able to manage that with less than 100 gallons of paint. Let’s say $50 a gallon for special road paint. So $5000 for paint. Allow another thousand for tools and supplies. Even at $100 per hour, that’s enough for 90 hours of labor. What am I missing?

      3. Does seem extremely expensive for a little paint on the road. For that cost, does it come with a warranty? “If the paint wears off within six months, it will be replaced free of charge.” I remember reading that the cost of the green bike spaces was somewhere in the range of $10,000 each but I could never get an answer on why they were so expensive, too.

      4. William, Cinesea,

        I can’t go take a look at it so this is speculation, but the cost implies that it’s that “cake” paint that DOT’s use for striping nowadays. When it’s applied it’s about a quarter of an inch thick and rather vitreous. It’s not just “paint”; there’s some asphalt or similar material mixed into it.

  4. This is so stupid, I plan to organize my friends to walk down the red lane to protest these stupid traffic causing lanes. Open all lanes up to cars. Slow the buses to a crawl on random days every week, the libs in Seattle will get the message.

    1. So transit is more convenient than driving, which rubs you the wrong way for some reason. Your response is to try to make transit less convenient by organizing some civil disobedience? And that is going to cause the city to say “Gee, we should remove all buses and bus lanes, that will make getting around Seattle easier!”

      Let me guess, you are still mad about the north end traffic jam on Monday.

      1. Unlikely, just like those who hate bike lanes have been able to do exactly nothing about the road diets and new bike lines.

        Sure the opponents of the “missing link” have delayed the project for years but only because there are business owners on their side who are willing to pour money into lawsuits rather than working out a compromise with the city.

    2. That’s an interesting point of view. Let’s take the Wall Street lane as a plangent example of a bus lane which is violated frequently by drivers. Perhaps it will be less so once it’s red, but for this analysis, let’s stipulate that it’s never violated.

      The buses using the lane are the E-Line RapidRide, the 5 Phinney Local and Express, the 16, and the 26 and 29 Expresses. For the time that the right hand lane on Battery is reserved for buses, 3 to 7 PM a total of seventy-nine buses are scheduled through the lane (i.e. they leave Third Avenue and the northernmost timepoint in the schedule for the route during that time span). If we give a very conservative average of 40 riders per bus (this is after all, the rush hour so the buses are nearly to over full and the E-Line and 5 Locals are all articulated buses with over 60 seats), those 79 buses carry nearly 3200 people, A single arterial lane with a stop light at every intersection carries about a thousand vehicles per hour, and the congestion on Battery is pretty much over by 6 PM, beginning at 4:15 or 4:30. So the remaining lane carries roughly the same load as does the reserved lane AND cars have the opportunity to use Blanchard to Sixth then follow Sixth north to Battery. North of the intersection of Sixth and Battery both lanes are available to all traffic.

      This is a good use of the street.

      1. Battery Street, not Wall Street. Wall is for southbound buses and is rarely congested because the Denny Way crossing acts as a “ramp meter”.

    3. Neither Oregon or Washington has raised their gas taxes in decades, causing undue property taxes to go into roads.. Write us back when auto traffic pays an equitable share.

      1. Do your homework. Washington state raised gas taxes $.03/gal in 2006, $.02/gal in 2007, $.02/gal in 2007 and $.015/gal in 2008–the biggest increase in state history.

      2. There was always a portion of property tax that went into roads.

        However, with as much anti-tax sentiment as there is, local municipalities are having to put focussed levies out there, and explain how it will be spent (wisely), if they want it to pass.

        Since they can’t count on either excess gas-tax revenue from the state being moved around to finance a chosen project, or the Feds, a lot of projects are being put on the back burner… sort of.

        Except for SR99, SR520, I-405… well, when it comes to road-building, we don’t worry as much when, where, and if the money will come (from).

      3. Call me when buss riders pay their fair share. Stop sucking funds from car registration and charge the riders the true cost of providing transportation.
        Also, keep the viaduct and the tunnel. decreasing lanes in Seattle at this point is stupid. They need to be building more lanes of roads for cars. Traffic times are going up and up.
        Mass transit id not s viable solution because costs are way way out of whack, Too much is subsidised by people who never ride a bus.
        Also, unlike a place like Denver where one district operates mass transit in 7 counties…We have 8 for three counties. Everett transit, Community Transit, Metro, Peirce, Mono rail, trolly, ferry, sound transit. All have blotted managment and high paid union workers. All these should be rolled into one transportation district. I stopped riding the bus after trying it for two years, having to take a Community transit bus then sound transit then metro and non are in sync sucks. Stupidist mass transit in the world.

      4. To Jim’s point about property taxes paying for roadways, that is absolutely true at the county level and below. Non-primary arterials and all secondary streets are paid for by property taxes, as they should be. They directly enhance the value of abutting properties.

      5. Stop sucking funds from car registration and charge the riders the true cost of providing transportation. Also, keep the viaduct and the tunnel. decreasing lanes in Seattle at this point is stupid. They need to be building more lanes of roads for cars. Traffic times are going up and up.

        Which buildings do you propose demolishing in order to build another freeway through downtown Seattle? They already thoroughly examined the viaduct, and that’s why they are building the highway tunnel. Any additional lanes are going to be hugely expensive due to the existing use of all available land.

        So, lets at least double or more the gas tax price and car registration fees to provide adequate current funding for roads:
        That will help get you the results you want.

        Then you can propose eliminating transit once the roads are adequately funded to handle the traffic that eliminating transit will cause.

      6. “Mass transit id not s viable solution because costs are way way out of whack,”

        And highway costs aren’t?

        “keep the viaduct and the tunnel.”

        That means a new project to replace the viaduct with one meeting current earthquake standards. It would have to be a new levy since the tunnel money is already spoken for (and in danger of cost overruns). It would cost, perhaps, 50% of North King’s portion of ST3. For a highway that doesn’t really connect north Seattle to south Seattle very well. People use it because it’s there and it’s less crowded than I-5, not because it’s wonderfully convenient.

        “They need to be building more lanes of roads for cars. Traffic times are going up and up.”

        Psst. You can’t build your way out of congestion. Cars are larger than people, so accommodating 100 drivers requires a 1000-person space (if the people are standing). Multiply that by 10,000 and you see why the freeways take up so much space, and that’s not even counting the parking spaces (a dedicated one at home and a shared one at a destination). How many more highways can we build before they suffocate the city?

        Oh, and there’s the tragedy of the commons. People overuse a free resource and clog it up. If it were a deer park they’d be extinct. If it were an oilfield it’d be dry. Because it’s a road, it’s congested and people can’t get through. So should all these roads be tolled?

      7. “parking spaces (a dedicated one at home and a shared one at a destination)”

        Well, it’s shared in the case of a supermarket. In an office building it’s filled 8-5 by one person and unused the rest of the time, so it’s the same as dedicated even if it isn’t assigned to a particular person: you still need as many of them as you have driving employees. So that’s three spaces the person needs: home, work, and a share in a supermarket space.

      8. So Jim Borne, where do we put all the 22 lane freeways you seem to want? What buildings and neighborhoods should we destroy to build them? As Mike points out where do we put all of the parking these cars will require? Who pays for all of this? What about the expansion of city arterials all this highway and parking construction will require? Again what buildings do we tear down? Who pays for it?

    4. Sorry Jim but unless you are a Seattle voter (and it appears you are not) these bus lanes are none of your concern.

    1. The headline just picks up the idea that was in the lede. The rest of Lindbloom’s article seemed pretty balanced to me.

      The comments page on the other hand is just the sort of trash you normally find in ST comments. A bunch of loundmouthed commentators that seem to be immune to reason.

      1. Yeah, it’s a solid article. Anyone reading the head, though, would assume the article is going to quote or at least reference angry drivers. Not to mention the head leaves the impression the bus lanes are new, not just painted red.

      2. This article seems to have commenters in even more of a froth than an article on bike lanes.

  5. The Seattle Times article mentions that the E line alone carries 12,000 riders per day, but fails to put that into perspective of the ADT of Battery street, which isn’t even shown on the 2013 traffic map, so I’m guessing is around 5,000 or less. And of course the comments are ridiculous. So yes, half the people get half the road. It’s fine.

  6. Seattle – repeat Boston’s Big Dig mistake in spades. I bet that drill goes 1500′ before breaking down again.
    Bus lanes – special bus lanes – should have cars parked on them in protest. Grid lock till all roads are free for everyone.

    1. Hope you can afford all of the parking tickets and towing fees you’ll incur.

      If you are really so mad about this why don’t you find a like minded group of Seattle voters and take it up with the city council?

    2. You do know that a vehicle improperly parked is at fault if struck by a vehicle legally using that lane, whether from the front or rear of the improperly parked vehicle.

      Good luck with that “park-in”.

      1. I volunteer to get a Unimog and help keep the bus lanes clear by gently shifting improperly parked vehicles.

  7. I’m having trouble figuring out what all the anger is about on the Times site. These lanes were already bus lanes; they’re just a different color now! It’s not not taking anything away from cars!

    1. Don’t ever try to understand the anger of commenters on the Times’ site (or, really, any other newspaper you might chance to look at). It’s a relatively small subset of people, almost all of them consumed with fear.

      I miss the old days of the paper, when there were “letters to the editor.” When comments on sports stories tend to be the sanest in the paper (and that’s strictly a relative term), anybody taking the frothing mouth crowd seriously should really step back and take a long look at reality.

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