Existing and Proposed RapidRide
Existing and Proposed RapidRide

For a city that prides itself on its green reputation, it may surprise you to learn that only 1 in 4 Seattle households lives near frequent transit, where the bus or train comes every 10 minutes or less.  That’s not King County, mind you…. that’s within the city limits.  If we’re going to get more people out of their cars, we’ll need to put more frequent transit service closer to where people live.

Fortunately, Seattle DOT has a plan to do just that.  With money from last fall’s Let’s Move Seattle levy along with 2014’s Prop. 1, SDOT envisions a world where 72% of Seattle households are within walking distance of 10-minute transit service by 2025, almost triple the number today.

A key piece of that agenda is expanding the city’s RapidRide network, which Move Seattle called “RapidRide+.”  What is RapidRide+?  How is it better than today’s RapidRide? And how will it put frequent transit near the front doors of 3 in 4 Seattle residents?  Today we’ll look at the system all-up, and then tomorrow we’ll look at the individual corridors.

RapidRide’s Past

RapidRide 1.0 was hobbled by a couple of key problems.  The initial six routes were spread around the county, but Metro didn’t own the streets the buses run on, so they could do little to speed up travel times.  On top of that, the recession hit and decimated the agency’s balance sheet.

Still, the current Seattle routes are among the most well-used in the city, carrying almost 37,000 daily riders combined in 2015 – about as many as Central Link does today.

Enter RapidRide+

SDOT is well-positioned to address all of the aforementioned issues with RapidRide+.  The levy funds aren’t from a volatile revenue source like sales taxes and SDOT owns the street right-of-way and can optimize it for buses.  Here’s how the campaign levy materials described RapidRide+:

Building off the success of King County Metro’s RapidRide bus network, the replacement levy will fund seven new RapidRide+ corridors that will take the network to another level. With improvements such as dedicated bus lanes, superior bus stops, and new sidewalks and bikeways to access transit, these RapidRide+ corridors will provide a new alternative for people to quickly get where they need to go.

With the levy’s passage now in the rear-view mirror, SDOT has wasted no time updating the 2012 Transit Master Plan with an addendum (PDF) that reflects the current administration’s priorities.  The addendum is more or less the playbook for Let’s Move Seattle. While it represents the most clear vision to date for LMS’s eventual implementation, all of these projects are still in early conceptual phases and will go through plenty of costing, design, and public feedback before any hardhats show up.

The addendum makes a forceful case for the RapidRide brand and the need to expand it.   There’s no talk of a separate Seattle BRT brand.  In addition to the three corridors that currently run through Seattle (C, D, and E), the city is proposing seven more, for a combined 10-line, 80-mile rapid bus network.

RapidRide+ will use a basket of infrastructure tools, including queue jumps, exclusive and semi-exclusive lanes, and signal timing, to increase speed and reliability.  All-door boarding and off-board payment are also discussed. SDOT estimates this will result in a 14-40% reduction in travel times depending on the route.

The city also is creating a 5-year plan to achieve a rating of silver or better on the ITDP scale, and has proposed its own internal scorecard:

  • Mixed traffic for no more than 50% of corridor acceptable with intersection enhancements to prioritize transit (e.g., bus bulbs, far-side stops or near-side stops with queue jump lanes, transit signal priority)
  • RapidRide corridors limit transitions between median- and side- running alignments along corridor extent
  • Provide transit priority at congested intersections by providing queue jump lanes and/or signal priority treatments
  • Alignment provides connectivity to local and regional bus, planned Link light rail, and other modes of travel; the alignment is direct and easy for customers to understand
  • Maximum stop spacing is every 0.5 miles with no overlaid “local” service
  • Stations to be upgraded to a full featured RapidRide stations, offering a base level of passenger amenity
  • Safe, intuitive, and proximate paths are provided between RapidRide stations and local bus stops, Link light rail stations, Colman Dock, regional express routes, and Pronto Bike Share stations

Astute observers will note that 50% mixed traffic is greater than 0%, indicating that Seattle has set itself up for a goal of less than “full” BRT, defined as 100% exclusive right-of-way.  But keep in mind the baseline.  Overall, the RapidRide+ corridors are improved from their previous iterations in the 2012 TMP.  Recall, the TMP was created in an environment where ST3 was still pretty hazy (and in many ways the TMP itself pushed Sound Transit to study Ballard), so the emphasis was on rapid streetcars to Ballard and Roosevelt.  With Sound Transit now planning light rail to Ballard and West Seattle, the new TMP directs more money into core bus lines.  That also tracks with what we’ve seen so far from Madison BRT and the Roosevelt-Eastlake project, where RapidRide+ is referred to as the “targeted investment” alternative, between basic RapidRide and “Full BRT.”

Once the seven additional corridors are up and running, we’ll have a bus network that, in combination with Link, will cover most of the city’s urban villages with frequent service, even late into the night and on weekends.  Within 10 years, RapidRide+Link could serve well over half the daily rides in Seattle.  If you are one of the 72% of Seattleites who live near a RapidRide stop, you’ll be able to walk to the station almost any time of day with confidence that a bus will arrive relatively quickly to take you to any of the city’s urban villages with at most a single, frequent, well-lit transfer.  That kind of guarantee is fundamentally transformative to the way people view transit and is a game-changer for car-free or car-light lifestyles.

The new TMP marks seven corridors for RapidRide+ treatment:

  • Roosevelt Way & Eastlake Avenue, Northgate to Downtown
  • Metro Route 40, Northgate to Ballard & Fremont to Downtown
  • Market & 45th Streets, Ballard to U-District
  • 23rd Avenue, Judkins Park to U-District
  • Madison Street, Madison Valley to Downtown
  • Rainier Avenue, Rainier Beach to Little Saigon
  • Delridge Way & East Marginal Way, Delridge to Downtown

In a follow-up post, I’ll look at what we can expect from each.

118 Replies to “An Introduction to RapidRide+”

  1. Is it just me, or has Metro abandoned being the bus company for Seattle proper?
    Maybe having SDOT and Sound Transit playing key roles in planning and funding transit projects within the city limits, and having Metro do their own planning and trying to serve all 3 masters is the new reality; in addition to running all the services, it seems overly complicated to get things right the first time around.
    As an aside, ‘Shouldn’t all transit strive to be rapid – all the time?’ The lines between BRT +/- , RapidRide A-Z, have really become blurred.

    1. Why should ST have anything to do with inner-city bus routes? They’re even more suburban focused than Metro. They currently do not operate a single service that is entirely within Seattle city limits.

      If Seattle wants more bus service, they can (and do) pay for it themselves. SDOT is already doing exactly what you propose – that’s what this post is all about.

      1. I understand that, but all those buses with the wave liveries are planned and funded by ST, so they have a huge role in all this. Planning rail routes that overlay or replace bus routes is but another facet of this (ST3).

    2. It’s a reflection of the political reality. Seattle voters supported investments in buses, King County voters did not.

      1. Well, to be fair, King County voters outside Seattle didn’t support paying more to maintain the same level of skeletal, marginally useful service that it receives today. The Prop 1 stuff was going to support Seattle mainly, not everyone else.

      2. Like the rest of reality, political sentiments change, Frank. Definition of a life creature vs. a stuffed one. Which only changes as moths eat it.

        Fact that I-5 is now paved with roofs powerfully indicates the increasing unity for King, Snohomish, Pierce and north Thurston county. Owing to the otherwise horrible fact that people still need to work where they can no longer afford to live.

        One way or another- whether people will continue to spend billable time trapped in their cars, vote statewide for rent control, or build new work centers where they live…region is already unifying by populating.

        Ending every public statement with: “We’re already one region” will finally confirm in voters’ minds what they’re already seeing, whether they like it or not.


      3. King County Prop 1 would have canceled the cuts countywide, and then when the economy unexpectedly improved it would have added suburban service proportional to each area’s existing service, with perhaps greater weight to the highest-volume routes (e.g., 150). The improving economy wasn’t known when King County Prop 1 failed, but it was when Seattle Prop 1 succeeded, so Seattle had more knowledge it would get increases. Still, if you don’t like the skeletal county service. making it more skeletal is a step backward, especially for those who don’t have a car or don’t want to drive.

  2. “it may surprise you to learn that only 1 in 4 Seattle households lives near frequent transit, where the bus or train comes every 10 minutes or less.”

    Any idea what it what the population share is at 15-minute headways?

    We don’t have many 10-minute routes, but we have a decent number of 15-minute routes that are almost as useful.

    1. Yes, almost 3/4 are served by 15-minute transit today, according to the TMP. But 10-minute is 33% more useful!

      1. So, IMO not terrible. 75% is pretty good considering the housing density and geographic layout challenges we have.

        Especially considering I doubt many (any?) of us would want to see 4-6/hour service to Laurelhurst or other neighborhoods that have limited transit demand simply to achieve a 100% coverage goal.

      2. 10-minute service leads to an average 5-minute wait on originating trips and transfers. 15-minute service leads to a 7.5 minute wait. That doesn’t sound much different but it adds up over lots of days and lots of trips, and the frequent service makes all of your waits shift down on average, so 1-2 minutes instead of 3-4 minutes, etc. That level of convenience makes people at the edge of a decision choose transit, so the potential ridership increase is more then the nominal 33%.Of course, it takes a few years for people to realize the service is there and get used to taking it, so the increase is gradual.

    2. For trips like Everett to Tacoma,you’re right, Alex. But for city trips, transit only “works” when missing one bus just means seeing its follower a few minutes behind it. Many reasons, but…

      From my own driving days, the longer the headway, the longer a driver, by common decency, tends to hold a bus for somebody running for it. Like across a street mid-block.

      I don’t know how it is now, but some years ago in Vancouver apologized to me because afte 8pm, buses went from 4 to 8 minutes headway.

      Here’s the thing. If you think present level of ridership is ok, fifteen minutes will keep it that way. Shorten to five, and you could get three times as many riders.


      1. There’s a route running along Scott Road (the Delta/Surrey border) that runs every 6 minutes at peak last I checked. And that’s a good 20 miles from downtown Vancouver.

        I don’t think Seattle has any routes that run that frequently in both directions at once even at peak. And we’re talking distant, very low density suburbs in Vancouver.

  3. Does anyone know the logic of why these corridors? If you look at the current 7 highest ridership corridors (presumably the corridors that give you the biggest bang for your buck), it would look something like:

    – Eastlake (lots, hard to say from ridership report what % of the 7x routes are on east lake but probably a big chunk).
    – 7 (13.1k)
    – 48 (12.0k)
    – 3/4 (11.6k) – this one may not exactly be accurate as I’m not certain how much ridership the tails pick up vs the main corridor but I assume the main corridor is the most of the ridership
    – 36 (10.6k)
    – 8 (10.3k)
    – 41 (9.7k)

    What’s not in this list?

    – 120 (9k) this seems like the next logical corridor if you were to bring in another one.
    – 40 (7.9k)
    – 44 (7.4k)
    – Madison (7.2k) this is the full ridership of the 11 and 12 combined, both of which have huge sections not covered by Madison brt.
    – Roosevelt way (66/67 combined are at only 4.9k)

    Actually looking at the ridership numbers I’m amazed that Madison is the first route being RR’d. As you can see above there are a large # of routes that would improve trips for a larger # of riders.

    (Source: http://metro.kingcounty.gov/planning/pdf/2011-21/2014/service-guidelines-full-report.pdf)

    1. The TMP has very detailed analysis about why certain corridors were picked and how the screening went. It’s not just about ridership. All of the corridors you list are also listed as “priority bus corridors” which will receive investments, just not RR+ level investments.

      I think you have to look past straight ridership numbers and instead look at where investment can have an impact. the 41 is going to get replaced by North Link, so no point investing in that. The 36 is already frequent and electrified. There’s no parking lanes to convert on Denny, etc.

      1. I was hoping to see Lake City Way on the list, and I’m sad it isn’t. This corridor seems like a good one to invest in for fast, reliable, and frequent bus service. Most of Lake City Way doesn’t need local service, so stops every 0.5 miles or so would probably be sufficient. Lake City is growing, so it would be nice to have good service started on Lake City Way. Any thoughts? I’m probably missing something in my analysis.

      2. I’m sure there are other factors, but those factors would have to be pretty strong considering that the 65/66 corridor gets literally half the ridership of the 8 or the 36. I read though the document and didn’t see an explicit discussion about why certain corridors are in the RR+ bucket versus the Priority bus bucket. There was discussion around why certain routes are good, but nothing like a zero-sum comparison that actually explicty says what pushed some in versus others not.

        Specifically, for the 41, I would assume much of the ridership isn’t at the Northgate parking lot (which would be the only stop replaced by Link), but I don’t have the data to support that. 36 already being frequent and electrified doesn’t justify it not getting RR+ investments of TSP, offboard payments, transit lanes etc… I could make the exact same statement about the 44, it too is frequent and electrified (and has only 70% of the ridership). For the 8, the lack of parking lanes to convert is an issue, but a solvable one. It could involve moving the 8 off Denny to Republican and having transit lanes there, or, (gasp) taking GP lanes and converting them to BAT.

        I actually would assume there’s a detailed analysis — somewhere — about how Madison deserves more investment than Denny, I would just like to see it.

      3. @Kari – I’m curious what kind of service improvements you’d like to see on LCW. I agree it’s an important corridor. Is it more frequency? more destinations? More speed? Downtown commute? Weekends? Mid-day? Thanks!

      4. Lake City does seem to be the biggest one left out, as it usually gets left out. Given that Link will obviate 2/3 of the 41, it will have to be rerouted in any case. If 130th Station isn’t built, then the 41 could become a Northgate – Lake City – 145th Station route. Possibly extended to Shoreline CC if another route doesn’t take that up. If 130th Station is built, then it could be a 130th – Lake City – 145th route, although other route combinations also become more feasable.

      5. I can’t help but think that what Mike said is the reason that Lake City is deferred in terms of improvements. Sound Transit (to the best of my knowledge) has not officially said that a station at NE 130th will be built. It is highly likely, but still not official. Without that official word, the city can’t plan on using that corridor, which puts them in a bind. If they invest in the Northgate Way corridor, there is the potential of investing in a route that would be slower even if you added bus lanes (since it is farther away and involves a lot of turns).

        The city could, of course, just speed up the section of Lake City Way between 125th and 145th. That will certainly need to be improved, but I don’t think they want to do that until there is a substantial set of improvements for the area. I can understand that. To improve the situation, you will have to remove parking. The shop owners will object (I know a few that will certainly object). When you do that, you want to promise them something really good for their customers — something that might add new customers, like a new BRT line — not just a faster way to go by their store. I think that is the main reason they are waiting. Given the fact that a station at NE 130th won’t be here for another 7 years at least, I think it is reasonable to wait a couple years. My guess is nothing changes on that corridor until Lynnwood Link gets built. Hopefully that includes a new station at NE 130th (whether paid for by the city or as part of ST3) as well as BRT along Lake City Way to NE 130th (and on to Bitter Lake).

      6. Of, course, Lake City Way is one of the few streets not owned by the City of Seattle, as it’s a state highway.

      7. ST decided to put 130th Station in the ST3 pool rather than including it in ST2. ST3 is up in the air, so we don’t know whether it will include the station. But I don’t think SDOT’s minimal treatment of Lake City is based on that; it’s based on SDOT thinking Lake City is lower priority than the other things. That could be because of Lake City’s population, distance from other urban villages, the deep sea of large-lot houses around it, or something else. It may be practically difficult to site a line in Lake City without knowing which Link station to orient to, but if so the TMP should say that.

      8. LCW also already has access to the express lanes on I-5 via the ramp at 80th. There are a lot of full 522’s. I think the 312 is getting expanded. When ULink opens, a lot of service hours are moving to NE Seattle, getting added to routes like the 372 (and 65 and 75 which provide connections to those LCW routes. My problem with LCW buses isn’t so much the frequency or how fast they get downtown as much as how to get to the stops fast enough to make the frequency and speed worthwhile. I think the ULink restructure will help, but I personally think Pronto expansion to Northgate and Lake City would surprise people with how well it could connect a lot of people to the LCW express buses.

      9. Oh come on, Mike. You can read a census map as well as anyone else. It should be obvious that Lake City needs an improvement, the question is where. Until ST commits to 130th (whether it is part of ST3 or not) there is no answer to that question.

      10. @Kari – I’m curious what kind of service improvements you’d like to see on LCW. I agree it’s an important corridor. Is it more frequency? more destinations? More speed? Downtown commute? Weekends? Mid-day? Thanks!

        @Frank — There are a few improvements that I think would be worthwhile on Lake City Way. For some of them, improving the pedestrian/biking atmosphere would be helpful (which is not something King County Metro can do, I understand).

        Frequency: When U-LINK opens in March, the restructuring of the bus network up in NE Seattle should help with frequency in some ways. Currently, if you’re traveling in the commuting direction on Weekdays, frequency is good on the 312. I don’t really count the 522 since it does not stop south of NE 125th St.

        More Destinations: Currently there is no regular (non-peak only/commuter) bus route that has any stops south of NE 95th St. on Lake City Way. As the Roosevelt and Lake City neighborhoods continue to grow (and perhaps Maple Leaf and Wedgewood), more people will likely desire to get around that area by bus. Until the area is all very dense, it seems that stops every 1/2 mile might be sufficient, meaning a Rapid Ride style route might be good. Perhaps in the future if density is greatly increased that would need to be changed.

        Weekends and Mid-day: It would be nice to see the Lake City Way corridor used for local service routes more than it is now. Currently it is mainly a commuter corridor as far as bus service goes.

        Overall it just seems like Lake City Way could be better utilized for more than just commuting to and from downtown Seattle.

        Since it is a state highway, I have no idea what the implications are for making any actual changes to the roadway for any of this to happen.

    2. Stephen, it’s been an unpopular comment to say, but most of the high ridership corridors that you listed were in the 2005 TMP than the 2012 TMP. I’ve found dubious logic for this. It seems to be traceable to a very limited public discussion along with conclusions made by only a few people. I’ve even pointed out that the process was implicit white privilege as the reposes entities on the committee and the consultants lacked participation that better reflected the ethnicity of the riders. Somany corridors with out higher portions of persons of color are not presented in subsequent SDOT budgets.

      That’s not to be grateful to the effort made by the TMP participants, of whom some post to this blog and can be defensive about it. It’s only to note another dimension of bias that occurs when participants focus on their favorite routes.

    3. Wouldn’t the Delridge Rapid Ride pretty much follow the route the 120 takes now? Please correct me if I’m misunderstanding your mention of the 120 as not being on the list.

      1. The improvements only go to the city limits because it’s city-funded. The city and Metro will have to figure out how to apply that to the 120, just as they’ve already had to do with the Prop 1 increase. In that case, I think Burien and the county matched it so that the extra runs would go all the way rather than turning back at White Center. Burien would certainly be interested in improving the 120, so it would just be a matter of whether they can afford it and can overcome anti-tax sentiments. Otherwise it may be two alternating routes or a suburban shuttle or something.

    4. I ride the 40 several times a week. To say that this route is packed is an understatement. People are routinely left behind, or forced to cram in at the back, because there isn’t enough room on the bus. Many people will opportunistically take alternative routes (especially the 28) because it’s the only way they could hope to get a seat.

      There are a lot of artificial constraints on the 40’s ridership: the frequent use of 40-foot buses, and traffic on Fremont and Leary, and the fact that the 28 is a decent substitute for many people. Come March, the 28 won’t be a substitute anymore, and I expect that Metro will change both the 26 and 28 to 40-footers, reserving the 60-footers for the 40. Combine that with dedicated lanes on Leary and TSP, and ridership will go through the stratosphere.

      1. Don’t forget congestion on the north side of the route at Aurora and Greenwood. Big time slowdown. Luckily the plan has mitigation for this.

  4. .”The city also is creating a 5-year plan to achieve a rating of silver or better on the ITDP scale.”

    Check out the link to “IDTP.” See if you don’t see a private organization with an evangelical approach to a single form of transit., Look at the Board of Directors. Has anybody heard of any of them?

    I other words, why should we care whether we get a rating of silver or a pile of tin cans from this organization? To me, accepting the judgment of t an organization like this makes a lot else about this project look suspicious.

    Does anybody in favor of streetcars want to use a similar source for a testimonial?

    “The addendum makes a forceful case for the RapidRide brand and the need to expand it. There’s no talk of a separate Seattle BRT brand.”

    .”Brands” don’t move any buses, but one lesson out of “Rapid Ride” is that they lend themselves to cover things that don’t work any better than unbranded things, when they’re not worse.

    Better to let the honestly-acquired performance of the whole transit system smell better than burning cowhide. Whatever the vehicle looks like, like it or not it’ll be judged, as it should be, by its speed and reliability.

    A standard “artic” in smooth, constant, fast motion will work just fine for a brand.

    LINK would be no faster or slower painted with the same colors as the rest of the unified transit system the Central Puget Sound Region has needed for so long. Which leads to the main question:

    .How many actual people, let alone agencies, are going to be in charge of the entire system? If answer numbers any more than one- shelve this whole discussion ’til answer is one, Even only choice for the new chief is named “Mic.”


    1. It’s the criteria that matter, not the certification. The scale represents levels of quality, and at least somebody thought each level made sense. Before the scale BRT was such a squishy term it was meaningless: RapidRide was BRT and so was Curitiba, and if you ask for “Curitiba-style BRT” it gets watered down because each compromise looks like a small thing and there are no levels to say “You just lost that level”. No other scale is available, much less any that is better than this one, so why not use it. Then maybe Seattle will eventually get embarrassed about being “just silver” and make it better.

      1. I agree, Mike. I think right now RapidRide would not even medal. Most (if not all) the runs would be judged as “Not BRT”. Having an agency judge your system means that you can build it to a certain level and not simply throw a little paint on the bus and call it BRT.

      2. As Ross says, RapidRide does not currently medal under the ITDP system. The Downtown Transit Tunnel/ SODO Busway gets a bronze medal, but is completely omitted from the above map of “Existing and Proposed RapidRide”.

    2. Thanks for the vote for Transit Czar, but I have to decline, plus it only takes one negative vote to force a recount and new election.
      If elected, my big change would be to treat all transit by the same standards of performance and objectives regardless of the type of vehicle, rather than focus the public’s eye on vehicle color scheme and buzzword descriptions like RapidRide, or RR+, or even Ultra RR++ with free lattes in the hinge section (or Artic Bistro).

      1. Since our anti-royalty Founding Fathers couldn’t figure out to whether President Washington should be an earl or a duke (both had yet to become a Gary Larson first name for a bear, and the nickname for a terrible actor), committee came up with “His Mightiness!”

        Immediately giving other people’ voters license to give John Adams the title of “His Rotundity.” Budget sequester limits on ink funds made it: “Mr. President.” Not sure what the Czar was called, but like with much royalty, position came with hereditary illness and being assassinated.

        How about Mic? Man less bytes for referring to you. Also, we your co-commenters don’t get paid enough for enough gunpowder to relocate you to Texas. Good program, though.

        So hope opponents don’t earn any more than we do, or have anything left over from the Fourth of July.


    1. Denny is a “priority bus corridor,” one tier down from RR+. My guess is that it is one of the corridors where “right-of-way characteristics are not conducive to RapidRide investments,” in the language of the TMP.

      1. If I read between the lines, I see that as “SDOT unwilling to take away lanes that serve freeway access from Denny”, which may sound disappointing. But, it could also be a really bad idea without the much more extensive street reconfiguration that would be necessary.

    2. Perhaps they might move the route to Harrison St if the 99 tunnel project completes…since almost no one uses the corridor, they could take bus lanes from day one and few would notice.

      1. Harrison is listed in the amendment as a transit pathway, or some such term … so maybe that’s the plan

    3. Same problem as many other corridors including 45th through Wallingford and Madison past the Arboretum, Shotty. Needs at least one lane extra on both sides.

      Unfortunately, long drop to an interstate highway on one corridor, long line of buildings on the other. Was about to say there’d be enough room for BR- or R+ in Texas, but Dallas already has LRV’s.

      Maybe JR Ewing would come up here and help if we promised not to either extradite him or let all his enemies live in his house like on the TV show.


  5. The only explanation for that completely infuriating map is that the head of metro planning lives in Ballard.

    Can you please just take an eraser to just one of the now, what?, FIVE lines redundantly trundling around Ballard and snake it up Lake City Way.


    1. I’m noticing that you’re counting each end separately for the two lines that continue through Ballard, even on the D-Line which ends slightly to the north. Which ones would you call redundant?

      (Though I agree; there needs to be some service to Lake City! Maybe RR-ify the 372?)

      1. Yeah, maybe I’m over-counting, but their certainly is overlap. Don’t forget that additional 3 subways to Ballard that Seattle Subway is pushing though. So maybe I’m under-counting.

        As far as I can tell, people who move to Ballard are shocked to discover they chose a pretty difficult place to live if they want to get to downtown. So they hope carpet-bombing the place with RRs somehow solve the fact that they chose to live in this out-of-the-way sleepy peninsula on the way to exactly nothing except a beach or two. It won’t.

        A 10 billion in trains might do the trick, but Ballard just isn’t really that dense to justify that, no matter how many hipsters move there and townhomes you build.

      2. 372 is mostly an Eastside route and would require multiple cities to work together to get much change. Maybe we can get something done through Sound Transit, but last I checked the surrounding cities wanted to skip Lake City and go directly to 145th.

        Let’s focus on making the in-city routes better (41? 75?) where we don’t have to worry about getting out-voted and having our high population neighborhoods skipped. Its worth considering creating new routes entirely for the north end since neighboring cities seem so keen to throw us (the north end) under the bus.

      3. @biliruben
        “Yeah, maybe I’m over-counting, but their certainly is overlap. Don’t forget that additional 3 subways to Ballard that Seattle Subway is pushing though. So maybe I’m under-counting.”

        What are you talking about? I see two at most going to Ballard on Seattle Subway’s maps, and one of those continues on through Lake City to Woodinville.

        Quite a lot of us are also fighting for the 130th Station which would essentially be built to give Lake City earlier access (via a bus along 125th/130th) to the light rail spine.

        You’re overreacting, and its not going to help Lake City get more service by attacking other neighborhoods. We need to work together to get more lines on this map, not less.

      4. I meant the part of the 372 inside Seattle. (And if Sound Transit is smart and does open BRT on 522, it could be upgraded all the way to Bothell.)

        And, biliruben, you’re overcounting again – Seattle Subway’s plan has one subway line ending in Ballard (following the 44) and one line going through Ballard (following the D+40.) The east-west line is badly needed, not just for Ballard but for the whole north half of Seattle; the north-south line could probably be diverted further east, but SDOT and ST are both determined to build it anyway.

      5. @biliruben

        “As far as I can tell, people who move to Ballard are shocked to discover they chose a pretty difficult place to live if they want to get to downtown. ”

        You live in Lake City and you are complaining about people choosing to live in a difficult place to get downtown? My commute from Ballard to downtown is 25 min each way. How is I-5?

        And as much as you think we all controlling apartment dwellers have the ability to force developers to construct buildings in Ballard rather than Cap. Hill, Downtown, or Lake City (?) we tend to just be checking Craig’s List for the best deal (or any apartment that’s availability) and Ballard usually checks that box.

      6. The Ballard routes make sense: 15th, 24th, and Market Street. All those are of citywide significance. The problem is that the first RapidRide was put on 15th rather than 24th, similar to how Fauntleroy got the C rather than Delridge. But we can’t yank those routes out now, so the only way to fix it is to make 24th and Delridge also RapidRide. ST3 is too unclear to depend on at this point, and it might not open until 2030 which is too long to do nothing. Seattle Subway’s vision is unofficial, with no government endorsing it. One ST boardmember has spoken in favor of it, but one boardmember’s opinion doesn’t equal an ST commitment. And he didn’t say to adopt it without any changes, but to consider it or something that extensive. So even if ST does it it may not look exactly like Seattle Subway’s map. And SS itself has said it hasn’t expertly engineered the corridor concepts: it just wants ST to study them, verify the assumptions, and see if there are any better alternatives. When we know what rail we’re getting where, then we can adjust the RapidRide corridors to complement it. That may entail throwing away some street investment, but mostly not because some bus route will be there, no matter whether it goes to the current destination or elsewhere. And if Link has wide stop spacing it will need a local shadow. Instead of taking away the proposed routes, we should do what we can to make the priority bus corridors the best possible, and get them into the next round of RapidRide when Move Seattle expires.

      7. what’s up with the ballard hate? ballard has several cultural and night life destination, as well as being (one of the?) fastest growing neighborhoods. 5-over-1’s are popping up in every allowable plot pretty much and would be much higher if the zoning allowed it.

      8. “As far as I can tell, people who move to Ballard are shocked to discover they chose a pretty difficult place to live if they want to get to downtown. So they hope carpet-bombing the place with RRs somehow solve the fact that they chose to live in this out-of-the-way sleepy peninsula on the way to exactly nothing except a beach or two. It won’t.”

        I moved to Ballard and while I wasn’t quite shocked, I eventually realized the significant overhead of getting to Ballard from practically everywhere else: downtown, Bellevue, the U-District, Aurora, Lake City, etc. I worked in a Ballard office or at home so I didn’t go downtown every day. And I shopped at the Ballard Market and Fred Meyer and occasionally went to shows in Ballard, so those were in the neighborhood. But I realized that most of my activities were in the east half of the city or the Eastside or the gym on Aurora, so I was spending a significant amount of time going to all of them. When I left Ballard I thought I might want to settle back there later in life when I’m not going to so many other places.

        So there’s definitely a “half-hour Ballard overhead” to get to anywhere else in the region, and that’s substandard for Ballard’s size and density. It’s the largest urban village not on ST2 Link, and that prevents it from making its potential contribution to the city. People say “The lack of transit hasn’t stopped development.”, but some of that development assumed a monorail was coming or that RapidRide D would be better. The rest of it assumed we would get our act together and build a light rail line to Ballard. Some of the development may have been just “Build like in Renton because no transit is coming”, but I doubt that’s very much. But the lack of definite HCT plans has certainly made it harder to shrink parking standards or get microapartments built, because it makes the NIMBY case more plausable (“they’ll park on the street and you won’t be able to find a space”).

      9. @Charles B: 372 is not mostly an eastside route! Kenmore isn’t an “eastside” town, neither is Lake Forest Park. Bothell kind of is, but that’s one service section out of five (University, Lake City, Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, Bothell).

        (My neighbourhood in Kenmore is further west than multiple Seattle neighbourhoods. So is all of Lake Forest Park. You can’t call that “eastside.”)

      10. @Dara

        Appologies, they aren’t exactly “east side”, you’re correct. It is still mostly not Seattle route, thus would require inter-city coopertion to build a new route. This is exactly the kind of thing Sound Transit is for, and is thus a bit out of SDOT’s job desciption.

        In addition, as I stated earlier, the cities working together for a new ST 522 route seem set on skipping Lake City for 145th ST. If that’s the way things are going, it makes sense for SDOT to find a way to serve Lake City theselves.

    2. Instead of talking about removing routes, let’s push to add more. The 75 needs RR+ treatments in addition to the 15 minute frequencies it will be getting next year. The 41 should keep its current service hours and use those to increase frequency when Northgate Station opens. Those hours should be redirected to the 130th station after it gets built (and we all need to keep pushing for that).

      1. I’m not sure the 75 is the answer. I think the clear answer is to look at the oldest, historic N-S route, and use it. Lake City Way needs a dedicated lane to Roosevelt Station. I’d prefer a surface train down the middle, but I’ll take BRT.

        All this insistence on gridification makes sense in the abstract, or in fly-over Flatsville. In Seattle you ignore geography at your own risk.

      2. Is there something wrong with a 130th/125th bus route? The densest part of lake city is also right around where the the 41 and 75 meet.

        An express bus from Lake City to Roosevelt might be nice, but is there ridership along the corridor (south of Lake City) to fill the buses? If the buses are already basically full leaving Lake City and those folks want to go to the light rail, why not take them straight to the nearest station?

      3. To be clear I view the bus running along 130th as serving both Lake City and Bitter Lake, both pretty high density areas that are heavily transit dependent. If we were to invest in building something like a Rapid Ride along Lake City Way, I’d be interested to know what ridership market we’re targeting other than Lake City itself…

      4. There’s only so much money in Move Seattle. Adding more RapidRide+ corridors means not doing something else, something that people voted for and may be eagerly expecting.

      5. Lake City Way is low density between 120th and 75th; that’s why most routes go around that area. BRT from Roosevelt to Lake City has to be weighed against corridors where the entire route is more productive. Unless perhaps you want to upzone lower Lake City Way.

      6. >> The densest part of lake city is also right around where the the 41 and 75 meet.

        Well, no, at least not as of the last census. I realize things change (there is a lot of construction everywhere) and it may be a statistical anomaly (not all census blocks are the same size) but that is not the most densely populated census block in Lake City. The most densely populated census block in Lake City — a census block denser than any in Ballard — making it the most densely populated census block between the UW and the Canadian border is …. (drum roll) …

        The one bordering 145th, 140th, Lake City Way and 30th.

        There is solid density stretching the length of Lake City Way until the city border, where it trails off very quickly. None of that argues against what you are pushing for. I personally favor the same thing, and need to write a little Page 2 about it. Essentially a BRT line from 145th and Lake City Way, down Lake City Way, then over to Bitter Lake (via 125th/130th) would make a lot of sense. Here is a sketch of it, with other bus routes (it is the big red one): https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=z-ZcpzpzqRA0.kA0uqqGICdaU&usp=sharing

        I’m thinking frequency in the 5-10 minute range (5 at peak, then transitioning to ten during the day and evening). Late at night it would probably trail off to around 15 minute frequency (perhaps timed with Link).

        I think the reason the city hasn’t done much with Lake City is because they want to wait until ST officially adds a station at NE 130th (even if Seattle ends up paying for that station). It would also make sense to add such a route when Link gets there, which is seven years away. That would mean that in, say, 2020, the city could approve money for that (and other worthy projects). That would allow plenty of time for planning, while voters would see the value of things like Madison BRT (and want the same thing for various neighborhoods).

      7. @Mike Orr I wasn’t suggesting that we fund the Lake City routes specifically out of Move Seattle, but its likely that there will be opportunities going forward to extend more service there.

        At a minimum the 41 and the 75 are both looking at boosted service in the very near term. Both routes benefit from not having to go anywhere near the downtown grid or SLU at this point so will be pretty reliable for a while yet.

        When Northgate link opens, there will be a lot of opportunity for adjustment and for improving service to Lake City in the mid term while we figure out exactly when 130th will be built… and eventually a full line out to Lake City (uncertain when that happens, which is why we act on other options sooner).

      8. I think most everyone agrees that we should spend more money on more areas. Personally I would rather make these corridors as good as possible, even if it means that not every one is covered as well as possible. I think Madison and Roosevelt BRTs should be models, which may mean that other areas get less money. It also certainly implies that it doesn’t travel very far (on farther than Roosevelt in that case and no farther than MLK in the other).

        Then later we ask for more money. I said the same thing down below.

      9. “There is solid density stretching the length of Lake City Way until the city border”

        Those one-story buildings you call density? I walked north of Fred Meyer to see what the potential for a route to 145th Station would be, and the density had already dropped off; it was all one-story businesses facing the highway and only minimally walkable. It looked like White Center or Kent to me. You say there’s dense apartment behind it somewhere?

      10. High density for Seattle. Obviously not Brooklyn density, but way denser than anyplace in, say, West Seattle or Everett. Census maps don’t lie (and when the do, they under count areas like Lake City). Here are the numbers (in people per square mile) from north to south: 31,000, 12,000, 11,000 and 19,000. I think you just walked down the wrong street (32nd is better if you want to look at apartments — just look at Google Maps). These are older, cheap apartments, which give the area more density than most of the city. The numbers don’t reflect the new buildings, or the ones about to be built (or the ones that will no doubt be built in the future). Most of those tend to be closer to Lake City Way. But yeah, there is a small gap north of Fred Meyer that needs to fill in, but not enough of a gap to worry about adding a stop around there (11,000 people per square mile would be outstanding in West Seattle or Everett).

      11. The Pierre family parcels along LCW are going to be redeveloped in the next ten years. LCW BRT to the Roosevelt station or bust!

  6. I wish they focus on travel time. It’s a fantasy world.
    Promised but not delivered.
    Right now a schedule 20 min. trip on e line is more like 35 – 45 min.

  7. Is Move Seattle paying for the new service hours to upgrade these routes to all-day 10-minute frequency? Or is that money coming from somewhere else? Does this mean that if Move Seattle is not renewed when it expires in 10 years that lots of people will experience massive service cuts when headways are cut back to today’s level?

    1. We don’t know yet. The Madison BRT project only has $15M in funding so far (which the SDOT guy said was higher than normal) and we don’t know where the rest of the capital costs will come from, let alone its operating costs.

    2. Fun fact: Prop 1 expires in 2020. If it’s not renewed all that new 15-minute service will go back to 30 minutes. Bye bye 5, 10, 11, 40, 41, nice knowing you. 30-minute service is when I avoid those areas if I can.

      1. Hopefully we’ll be looking at at an even more pro-transit city in 2020. Hopefully Northgate Link opens a year early… its not clear until then what will happen when the funds expire.

        Its far too early to be doom and gloom about this.

      2. Yeah, I agree with Charles. The city is going to want to pay for projects like these because they are so cost effective.

      3. Why on earth do you think voters won’t renew it? It passed easily. I’m capable of significant pessimism but even I struggle to imagine a chain of events that would make the Seattle electorate ~20% less pro-transit than they are now.

      4. I didn’t say I thought voters won’t renew it. I said it’s uncertain. My belief on these kind of things is always 50/50 because unexpected things happen.

      5. I’m hoping that once voters get used to the new service, they won’t want to lose it, so the renewal will pass. People always react more strongly to avoid losing something they already have than at the prospect of getting something new they don’t currently have.

      6. I’m a bit concerned about whether the 15-minute evening service will translate to twice the ridership, and whether people will think it’s important enough to keep because they’re usually concerned about daytime service. So the question is whether people will think Prop 1 was enough improvement to renew. I’m more optimistic about Sound Transit and the next Move Seattle because those needs are bigger and the benefits more obvious. More RapidRide routes mean more mobility: I definitely see the better service in West Seattle, Ballard, and Aurora. Whereas Prop 1 just makes Metro suck less, but it doesn’t make it wonderful transit.

    1. West Seattle is 1/7 of the city and getting 1/7 of the new RR routes. The route selected is, by an extremely wide margin, where the greatest demand for transit in West Seattle exists. I can’t fathom how you’ve arrived at this conclusion.

  8. I look forward to the braying masses in the Columbia City and Rainier Beach Facebook and NextDoor groups when/if Rapid Ride comes to Rainier Ave and the car lanes are further impacted. There’s still vitriol spewing around regarding the Columbia City rechannelization/road diet. It’s hilariously depressing to see some of the comments…

  9. Based on what I’ve read, I wish the city had allocated a lot more money for this. There is 166 million for all these projects (if I remember right). That really isn’t that much, given the number of areas and the potential for huge change. Consider the info from the city about the Roosevelt Corridor: http://1p40p3gwj70rhpc423s8rzjaz.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com//srv/htdocs/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/FINALBOARDS_12-07-2015.pdf/ What they call “Full BRT” is probably expensive. I fear it won’t be implemented, because they have other projects they want to build. But consider what it would do:

    South of Denny: 25.1 mph
    North of Denny: 21.3 mph
    Corridor: 21.5 mph

    That is competitive with Link. For example, a trip from 45th to Westlake would take a little over 10 minutes. A trip with Link will take 8. When you consider the time spent going up and down the stairs, it is just about as fast to take the BRT. That is the type of “game changer” that we spent billions on. Now, obviously this has its weaknesses. Roosevelt is nowhere near as good as Brooklyn. Link serves Capitol Hill and the other side of campus. But the BRT would serve Eastlake (no slouch) as well as South Lake Union. All for a lot less money!

    But it is still substantial amount, which is why I fear it won’t happen. I personally hope that it does, even if other corridors get short changed for now. Not because that is necessarily the best way to spend the money, but it shows the value of the system. Understanding the value of Link is easy, and now people argue about which neighborhoods it should serve next. There is the expectation that it will be a very fast way to travel. I would like the same approach taken for other areas of the city. It may not be that easy, but I see that as the best way to get a lot more money for projects like this, which I think make a lot of sense.

    1. Another weakness is much lower reliability on the route, no matter the difference in mean travel times.

      I’d love to see full Roosevelt BRT but I don’t think there’s a free lunch when things are much cheaper.

      1. Sorry, I must have missed that. Where in the report does it say much lower reliability? Oh, and if that is average travel time, I guess that means that it is sometimes faster — Wow!

        I agree, there is no free lunch. This is why it makes sense to spend money on things that are a better value. In many cases that is light rail, in many cases that is BRT. The trick is figuring out where it makes the most sense in both cases, and spending the money wisely.

      2. Oh, and just to be clear, the time stated is “Peak Hour”, meaning rush hour, which explains the huge improvement. Right now the travel times are 7.0 MPH, 2.5 MPH and 6.5 MPH (for north, south and the full corridor respectively).

  10. I think it’s time to point out that the 2012 was flawed and needs fixing.


    Because it focused on existing routes, many of which are affected by needed Metro restructuring to take advantage of Link.

    The TMP should be prepared in conjunction with route restructuring. That’s the only way to get maximum effectiveness for our money. Why invest in Madison if some riders will instead go to Capitol Hill Station? Why invest in Roosevelt when some riders will switch to North Seattle Link stations?

    In 2012, we were in an environment of service reductions. Now with Move Seattle and eminent Link service, we need to revisit much of the 2012 plan in tandem with restructuring!

    1. @AI we are investing in Madison because those riders won’t be going to the Capitol Hill station. You can think of it as mitigation for bad station placement. We should have had at least two if not three stations in the Capitol Hill/First Hill area. Instead we got one. A lot of people are well out of the walk shed.

      We tried (as a city) to mitigate that by building a streetcar, but we ended up with one that will forever be stuck in traffic, and doesn’t reach the core of the underserved first hill corridor.

      Madison BRT is, in fact, a fix for these problems.

      The Roosevelt line brings people from SLU to the U District and helps folks between these routes get to current and future link stations.

      The alignments could interact better with metro, but the aren’t a substitute for light rail. If anything, they support the alignments and fill in the holes of our poor station placement choices.

      1. Yep. It is also worth pointing out that in many cases it is faster to take BRT. UW to South Lake Union, for example. Or Eastlake to Roosevelt. Or 55th (which is plenty dense) to downtown. If done right (with “Full BRT” as SDOT puts it), even the UW to Westlake trip is competitive. Just about trip to anywhere north of Westlake and south of Roosevelt is competitive, which opens a lot of trips.

    2. I think you are wrong, guys. For example, if you live in Madison Valley, and are headed to anywhere south of IDS or even Westlake, you will be likely to choose a John Street bus than take Madison into Downtown and walk another few blocks to Link. If you live at 12th and Pike, Link is just a walk a few blocks away so the hassle of a transfer makes Link more attractive. None of these things were examined to take trips off of Madison in the TMP. It was entirely based on existing riders.

      1. Interesting.

        Have you tried talking to anyone who lives on Madison to test these assumptions?

      2. I have, Charles! My pals even 1/2 mile from Capitol Hill Station plan on switching. My pals in Madison Valley are looking forward to changing buses at Capitol Hill Station, especially at night when Downtown feels abandoned and a little scary.

      3. I live on Madison, work in Westlake, and at least in the evening am just as likely to take the train to Cap Hill and change there–either walking to the 11 or walking home from Mad Valley after taking the 8–simply because the bus can take an eternity, packed to the gills, to get up the hill. The 11 is fine enough in the morning, but the evening is an unpleasant commute. I’ve walked home and beaten the 11 on at least one occasion in the past couple months.

  11. I think I may have asked this before, but why is the Madison route only running to 1st Ave. and not all the way to the waterfront?

    1. They looked at both alternatives and decided 1st Avenue is close enough to serve both areas; the ridership is about the same, and the 1st Avenue turnaround will allow it to share the streetcar’s station so it’s a convenient transfer to SLU and Pioneer Square (and maybe later Seattle Center).

      1. Still makes no sense. If it went to the waterfront it would obviously have a stop at 1st as well.

        All they’re doing is forcing people to walk hundreds of feet inland and uphill. And some of these people are carrying baggage. For no reason.

      2. It will be a same platform transfer between Central City Streetcar and Madison BRT. That’s the reason. Two problems with putting the BRT stops off to the side so it can continue to the waterfront: 1. it would force most people transferring there to cross the street, 2. the bus would stop on a slope, which is less accessible to people with mobility issues. So you’re making the majority of transferring riders walk up or down a slope and cross the street.

        The ferry terminal has an level walkway that connects the terminal to 1st Ave a block south of the proposed terminus. There is no hill to climb as walk-on passengers disembark on the second floor, not the surface. A stop on the waterfront would require a level change and a 1.5 block walk north.

  12. Frank can you confirm that the reason SDOT is shooting for 50% is because that’s want they need to get federal funds… and federal funds are the only way they’ll be able to afford all of these BRT corridors?

  13. I call the Rapid Rides the Nazi Buses because you will Not See me on them while they still have the ridiculously authoritarian and accusatory Fare Enforcement pseudo-deputy wannabes harassing the working commuters to verify everyone has paid their three dollars. Fortunately, I can stick to the local trolleys or just walk to avoid them all together.

  14. Awesome stuff here. Can’t wait for the 7 new routes to join the 3 existing routes in constant gridlock. The last time I took the C line, I spent 2 hours on the bus and my friend beat me by a half hour driving in his car and leaving after I did. From Dravus to DT in only 2 hours is just so Rapid. Before that it was the E line getting me from QA to downtown in an hour an half, which I drove the next time in 25 minutes. Gridlock sucks, but the only thing that sucks more than gridlock is the promise of Rapid at double the time of a SOV. I’m not saying that Seattle can succeed with SOV, I’m saying that Seattle is screwed if RR and RR+ is the future to solve this problem.

    I’ll stay in my car and safe hours of my live while the city adds new RR+ routes to spend hours in the bus. Maybe after 10 2 hour+ routes to DT we can start discussing why 50% non-exclusive is even being considered a goal still.

    1. We need more car drivers like you to demand the city to give 100% exclusive lanes to transit, SOV gridlock be damned, because the city is too afraid of negative reaction from the pro-status quo keep-parking-and-car-lanes people which is why transit is stuck in gridlock in the first place.

    2. Have you tried walking from Queen Anne to downtown? Depending on what part of Queen Anne you live in and how bad the traffic is, the walk might be faster than the bus, and almost as fast as driving. You can also consider shortening the distance by walking just to the Monorail. Even if the Monorail is a 20-minute walk away, that may still be faster than riding the bus.

    3. Yikes. You mean the D Line from Dravus to downtown? The C Line from West Seattle to downtown is quite fast. Generally a bit faster than SOV, probably because it’s got exclusive lanes most of the way. Two hours… that’s just unbelievable. I’ve had 1.5-hour trips from U District into downtown to WS Junction, at 5:30pm, covering about 6 times that distance.

  15. One of the reasons I was willing to live this far north (Kenmore) is that Bothell Way, at the time, had better transit access than most of Seattle proper. I mean clearly better, not “kinda better.” That, and we could afford it, whereas most of the places we were looking at just weren’t in our price range.

    If you include the 331, we still are. Across all routes, our weekday bus service is no worse than six/hour until late evening, and quite often better. That’s a mash of Metro 331, Metro 372, and Metro 522 most of the day. But that’s a technicality, let’s be honest; the 331 isn’t worth much. But the 372 and 522 are every 15 minutes combined, and their common sections (Lake City through Bothell, basically) are large enough that this actually helps.

    1. Kenmore is fine for getting to downtown and back during rush hour, but if you want to visit any part of Seattle outside of downtown – especially on weekends when route 372 isn’t there – things become a lot more difficult. An average person could probably pedal the Burke-Gilman trail all the way from Kenmore to Ballard in less time than it would take to walk to, wait for, and ride the bus.

      If the 522 turns into a Link shuttle, then the problem of access to the rest of the city becomes a lot less severe, in additional to being able to get more frequent service along the 522 corridor itself at all hours of the day.

      1. asdf2: Absolutely. I’ve been advocating Metro – which has never been Just Seattle and is now King County in general – extend 372 to weekend service as well. One of the things they’ve been talking about specifically with the elimination of the 72 is an extension of service on the 372 to weekends – but they’ll likely stop that at 125th. I want that to go the whole route, and have told them so.

    2. Dara mentioned Lake City. If Lake City is the part of Seattle you mainly care about, then the combined service is just fine. And the 372 goes the back way to U-Village and the U-District when you want those. Getting to other parts of north Seattle is not so easy, but that’s a problem throughout north Seattle. And if the 522 is rerouted to 145th, you’ll lose some access to Lake City, although maybe not complete access if the 372 as-is.

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