In this post, I’ll provide more details on the BRISK (Bellevue, Redmond, Issaquah, Seattle, Kirkland) network, which is one component of a ST3 package that I hope Sound Transit will consider over the next few months. Sound Transit has studied each of these individual corridors, but there are areas where STB readers would probably like additional details as well as areas where enhancements to Sound Transit’s concepts are desirable. The goal of BRISK would be a full-featured BRT system meeting these standards:
- Right-of-way: Buses would generally operate in right-of-way which has been prioritized over general purpose traffic. This could be done using busways (at-grade or elevated, similar to the LA Metro Orange Line), HOV3+/HOT lanes, or median bus only lanes. Avoiding lower quality solutions like HOV2+, curb bus only lanes, or BAT lanes would be desirable.
- Service Frequency: Buses would come frequently, all-day long. High frequency service is key to reducing total travel times, particularly for trips that include a transfer to/from Link.
- Stations: Stations would be fully equipped with off-board fare collection and level boarding much like Swift. Station spacing will vary by corridor and segment with regional travel in mind.
- Vehicles: Lines would use articulated buses with 3 full-width doors, passive restraint systems, easy to circulate interiors and in-bus bike storage. Again this is much like Swift.
- “Open” System: In addition to the core BRT routes, parts of the system could be be used by local Metro or ST Express buses to maximize the usefulness of the capital investments.
Community Transit’s Swift and LA Metro’s Orange Line are good examples of BRT lines which meet some of these standards. The Orange Line is a particularly good example for ERC segments since it too was a former railroad corridor and has a multiuse trail along it. The descriptions below build off of Sound Transit’s existing studies, adding features and modifying routing.
Totem Lake – Kirkland – UW (Purple)
- Sound Transit’s B1a route from the University District-Kirkland-Redmond Corridor Report is very similar to this route. On average 8,100 daily transit riders used buses in this corridor during 2014.
- This line would likely replace the current 255/540 and would mostly travel along the Eastside Rail Corridor (ERC) from Totem Lake to the South Kirkland P&R. From the ERC, buses would access the SR 520 HOV 3+ lanes. After crossing SR 520, buses would access UW Station via a new Montlake crossing and an off-street bus-rail transfer station.
- Like existing successful services on this corridor, this route serves the more transit-oriented neighborhoods in the city, but delivers better travel times between those neighborhoods than the often-congested 108th Ave NE corridor and surface streets between downtown and Totem Lake.
- Downtown Kirkland would be served with a deviation from the ERC because the ERC skirts the edge of the downtown. There are a variety of ways this could be achieved and Sound Transit should study the options, with the goal of minimizing mix-traffic operations and balancing coverage while also minimizing out of direction travel. Routing options through downtown include 6th Street/Central Way or via the Transit Center on 3rd St.
- The routing in Totem Lake would exit the ERC near 124th NE crossing that street on an elevated alignment. It would then continue via bus lanes to the transit center and onward to the freeway stop at NE 132nd. This would be a useful connection point to I-405 BRT. The line would reach within easy walking distance of much of the urban center, promoting transit oriented redevelopment in the area.
- A trail along the corridor would be protected and improved. Capital investments in bus-way facilities should be leveraged to improve the pedestrian/bike experience. For instance, an elevated crossing at NE 124th St could also serve trail users, reducing or eliminating many of today’s conflicts with cross-traffic.
Totem Lake – Kirkland – Bellevue (Blue)
- This route is most similar to the northern portion of Sound Transit’s C2 route from the Kirkland – Bellevue – Issaquah HCT report, excepting the service to downtown Kirkland described above.
- From Totem Lake to the South Kirkland P&R. the line would run almost entirely along the ERC leveraging investments made for the Purple Line.
- As with the Totem Lake-UW line, improved travel times are key to this corridor’s success. A direct service to Bellevue that avoids most on-street congestion will deliver better ridership than today’s services in mixed traffic.
- The line would extend into Bellevue mostly along the ERC. There would be a connection to Link at Hospital Station. South of that point it would continue along the ERC to NE 6th St where it would cross the freeway to the downtown Bellevue Transit Center.
Issaquah – Bellevue (Red)
- This line would replace the 271 between Bellevue and Issaquah (the UW-Bellevue segment would have Metro service similar to today).
- The line is fairly similar to the southern portion of route C2 from Sound Transit’s Kirkland – Bellevue – Issaquah Corridor Report.
- From I-90, buses would use 142nd Pl SE/Snoqualmie River Road, allowing connections at the Eastgate P&R and Bellevue College. It would use the proposed Snoqualmie River Rd Busway to connect to a combination of at-grade and elevated alignment along Richards Rd and the Lake Hills Connector.
- New in-line stations would be added to I-90 at Eastgate Plaza and Lakemont Blvd. The line would access the Newport/Hyla area of Issaquah which is planned for high density mixed use via a direct access ramp and at-grade busway. Bus lanes would be used to connect to Old Town and Issaquah Highlands.
- The east end of the route would extend to Old Town and Issaquah Highlands with various routing options. As with the Kirkland routing, mix-flow operations should be minimized even if roadway widening and removal of street parking are necessary.
- In 2014 WSDOT reports that the I-90 HOV lanes operate above 45mph 100% (morning) or 99% (evening) of the time in the peak direction. While other corridors have degraded over the years, I-90 has not. (Bottom of page 20).
Issaquah – Mercer Island (Green)
- This route would replace the 554/212 and leverage investments made for the Red Line. On average 7,200 daily transit riders used buses in this corridor during 2014.
- Beginning at Mercer Island buses would use the proposed bus-rail transfer station and then enter the I-90 HOV lanes, continuing on to Issaquah via the same routing as the Red Line.
UW – Redmond (Orange)
- This line is similar to C1 from the University District-Kirkland-Redmond Corridor Report with HOV 3+ lanes moved to the inside lane, new inline stations, and direct access ramps. On average 11,100 daily transit riders used buses in this corridor during 2014.
- The Orange Line would replace the 545/542, upgrading those routes for the fastest possible connections from Redmond and Overlake to Link at UW Station.
- It would begin by running north-south through Downtown Redmond accessing SR-520 via a new direct access ramp near Redmond Town Center. New in-line stations would be constructed at 51st St, Overlake TC, and Overlake Village (feasibility would need to be studied).
- The remainder of the routing is shared with the Purple Line.
In combination with completion of East Link and I-405 BRT, these five lines would deliver more frequent service and better travel times over every major trip pair on the Eastside. Balancing the necessary commuter-oriented service on I-405, BRISK delivers upgraded urban connections.
The final post on this series will cover the cost of this package of investments.