Last week I described the overall goals for the RapidRide program. Today I’ll look at all the corridors themselves.  Keep in mind that everything described here comes from the Transit Master Plan addendum and represents early-stage ideas.  This will all be refined through community input as these routes are designed and implemented over the next seven years.  Overall, though, the 2015 addendum includes more aggressive use of exclusive lanes than the original 2011 TMP.  There is also mention of center-running bus lanes on every route, raising the possibility of buses with left-hand doors.  It’s quite possible that within 10 years the majority RapidRide routes could require left-door buses.

First, though, a brief taxonomy of bus lanes, for those who might need a refresher.

  • Center-running bus lanes are preferable: buses can’t get stuck in traffic or blocked by right-turning cars. the downside is that they require median bus stops (typically on wider streets) and often require special buses with left-side doors. They also mean taking lanes from cars and are so the most controversial and expensive.  The TMP generally refers to these as “transit lanes.” They are orange in the maps below.
  • Business Access and Transit (BAT) lanes are bus only-lanes that cars can enter to make turns into side streets or businesses. They are yellow in the maps below.
  • Peak-only BAT lanes may allow parking outside of rush hour, or may only operate into downtown.  This can be problematic for reverse-peak trips.  Thankfully these are kept to a minimum.  They are magenta in the maps below.
  • General Purpose lanes, sometimes referred to as “mixed traffic”, are used by all modes.  Buses can still benefit with bus bulbs, which allow the bus to stop without moving out of the lane (SDOT is planning bus bulbs for all RapidRide+ corridors).  They are black in the maps below.

In general, more exclusive the lane, the faster the bus can go.  Now, on to the corridors…

Corridor 1: Madison St.

BRT-Corridor-Maps.001
I hacked these maps together. For better ones, read the TMP doc.

Madison Street, which we’ve covered previously, is the farthest along in design.  At just under 3 miles, Corridor 1 is small but mighty.   It’s expensive, at $41M/mi, but quite productive, projecting 172 riders per platform hour  (The next closest is corridor 3 at 107 riders/hour).   That gives it a low operating cost of $1.24 per new ride.  The TMP shows it extending to MLK, although we know the Eastern terminus is very much up for debate.   Despite having 36% mixed traffic, it achieves 40% reduction in travel time, the highest of any corridor.  SDOT estimates 17,000 daily riders in 2035.

Corridor 2: Delridge

BRT-Corridor-Maps.002

Corridor 2 mirrors Metro Route 120.  It’s over 10 miles long, and would have dedicated lanes for 30% of the route.  This is a great example of why 100% exclusive lanes is sometimes overkill.  Could you do it? Sure. Would it substantially improve travel time? Unclear.  The exclusive lanes are in the most important places: from the West Seattle bridge approach to the terminus in SLU.  The cost is $4.6m/mi., and it achieves a 14% reduction in travel time, probably because the 120 is already traveling close to the speed limit for most of its route.

Corridor 3: Mt. Baker via Rainier & Jackson

BRT-Corridor-Maps.003

This corridor is served primarily by the 7, though other buses like the 9, 14, and 36 share parts of the route. Jackson and Rainier are often congested here, so it’s good news that, for just $4.4m/mi., SDOT is proposing transit-only lanes for the entire corridor.  The TMP also includes this nugget: “evaluate tradeoffs of converting First Hill Streetcar running way on Jackson Street to center-running transit-only lanes to allow for shared RapidRide/streetcar operations and Japantown, Chinatown, and Little Saigon center-platform stations.”  The result would be an impressive 33% travel time savings through the corridor.

Corridor 4: Rainier Valley – UW

BRT-Corridor-Maps.004

This route is a hybrid of Route 48S and Route 7.  Building on the 48’s success as a connector (the new TMP has a full page that can only be described as a paean to the 48), Corridor 4 connects with no fewer than five Link stations (once East Link is built).  Riders will have access to the entire link system without having to transfer downtown.  Which is good, because unlike the 7, this route wouldn’t even go downtown.   Downtown riders could instead transfer to link at Mount Baker or Judkins Park.

The total number of stops would be reduced, and BAT lanes would speed up travel through Judkins Park, Montlake, and UW.  Much-needed (and welcome!) road diets on 23rd and Rainier will make transit lanes unworkable, so buses will run with traffic in the Rainier Valley and CD, though they will have bus bulbs and signal priority to stay speedy.  For $8.8m/mi, we’ll see a 24% travel time savings.

Corridor 5: Ballard-UW

BRT-Corridor-Maps.005

Ballard-UW is a hard nut to crack without springing for grade-separated subway (which is still officially on the table for Sound Transit!).  Still, SDOT is making headway in speeding up the 44 since the last TMP.  There was some stop consolidation along with speed and reliability improvements back in 2012.  With the new TMP they’re back to finish the job.  Acknowledging that traffic isn’t going to get any better, SDOT is proposing BAT lanes or better for almost the entire corridor.  71% of the route would have dedicated right-of-way.

These improvements won’t come easy. the TMP acknowledges that this much dedicated ROW is aspirational, noting that they will have to “evaluate feasibility” of dedicated lanes east of I-5, and “work with corridor business stakeholders to evaluate tradeoffs between transit speed and reliability and on-street parking needs.”  Transit supporters will have to be particularly organized here for the 19% travel time savings to materialize.

Corridor 6: Northgate via Ballard (Route 40)

BRT-Corridor-Maps.006

Corridor 6 was one of the “rapid streetcar corridors” in the 2012 TMP. Now that the TMP assumes Link from downtown to West Seattle, it becomes a bus corridor.  It would have 41% dedicated ROW.  In Ballard, the corridor moves from 15th Ave NW to 24th, with bus bulbs.  There would be transit-only lanes on Leary and Westlake (though the TMP notes that Westlake will get crowded with Corridor 2, RR-C, and the Streetcar all using it).  BAT lanes would run through Crown Hill on Holman Road and around North Seattle College, where the route would cross I-5 at NE 92nd to avoid Northgate way and end at the Northgate Transit Center.  A total travel time savings of 17%.  At 24,400 riders in 2035 it would be the busiest of the seven lines mentioned here.

Corridor 7: Roosevelt

BRT-Corridor-Maps.007

Roosevelt is in the outreach phase already so, again, I won’t spend much time with it here. What SDOT has at its open houses are going to be more current than what’s in the TMP.  As we’ve noted, the preference is for BAT lanes in Eastlake through to Roosevelt, with a dedicated lane on Fairview Ave through South Lake Union.  What was once proposed as a rapid streetcar is now a bus running largely in its own right-of-way (49%).  23% travel time savings.

RapidRide C

Also worth mentioning, the TMP gives some love to RapidRide C specifically.  It proposes some traffic improvements to keep cars out of the bus lanes and possibly a new C Express: 10 peak trips that would stop only at the ferry, Morgan Junction, Alaska Junction and Downtown.

Update 1:03pm: Added keys to the colors above.

129 Replies to “RapidRide+: The Corridors”

  1. Even if aspirational, without full transit lanes through Wallingford, the 44 will never get better. It would also help route 16, even after the reroute.

    40 is interesting because it seems they are trying to address most of the trouble spots. The worst bit in the evenings is from the Fremont Bridge clear down to downtown. The transit priority on Westlake south of Valley will help some this year, but the bottleneck is at ita worst just before that point.

    A bigger question is what to do about 3rd downtown. Its had bus priority for some time, but its been getting so crowded lately that many downtown routes are becoming completely unreliable.

    Is there a way to fix 3rd with the current throughput, or does SDOT need to start taking a few more transit lanes on parallel streets?

    Are we at the point where forced transfers to Link become necessary to keep buses moving?

    1. +1

      3rd is the infrastructure upon which all transit relies, and it’s broken.

      Step one: car ban all the way thru Belltown

      Step two: box-blocking enforcement

    2. Bus bulbs on the 40 would help tremendously. When driving the 40 today, it is very easy to get trapped in many Ballard and Fremont zones. I’ve taken to leaving the bus tail out to block the lane at the worst spots though that is an imperfect solution. There are also many zones along the route where an extra few feet of paint (plus enforcement) would ease reentering traffic, especially in zones near a driveway.

      One choke point to be addressed through station design will be 15th and Leary. When the bridge opens, traffic in the area impacts E/W traffic on Leary when drivers use the center lanes to cut in line to make the turn to the bridge.

      1. to cut in line to make the turn to the bridge.

        You know those cameras that San Francisco has mounted on the front of buses to record the license plates of Red Lane violators? Seattle needs to go big on that.

      2. Alternately we could kill the parking in the area we are thinking of putting in a bulb and make it a BAT lane instead.

    3. A building’s stairways become so packed with people that can be on time for work. The building owners put in several banks of express elevators.

      Will anybody seriously claim that the’re being “forced” to use the elevators? No matter how much the increased occupancy of the building makes it impossible to ever build enough stair-capacity to handle?

      There are cases where a transfer is a hardship. I’ve been talking about the proposed one at 23rd and Thomas, my reason for keeping the 43 ride single-seat between the U-District and Capitol Hill Station. I’m sure there are others.

      But when the numbers of both people and cars make travel itself impossible, ever fewer people will consider bus-to-train transfer an irritation.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Agreed that we need cameras enforcing no-passing when a bus’s left turn signal is on. I have a feeling that some Metro routes could completely cover their operating costs with them.

    4. >>A bigger question is what to do about 3rd downtown. Its had bus priority for some time, but its been getting so crowded lately that many downtown routes are becoming completely unreliable.<<

      From my experience on RRE, the trouble area is not actually 3rd or Aurora, but the stretch along the streets through Belltown that connect 3rd and Aurora (don't know off-hand which streets, I think Bell St. northbound and another one southbound?).

  2. “Corridor five connects with no fewer than five Link stations (once East Link is built). Riders will have access to the entire link system without having to transfer downtown.”

    That’s the best argument for a Rainier-23rd route I’ve seen. I’ve been doubtful about it because of the large number of people going between lower Rainier, upper Rainier, and Jackson, and not carving up the valley into transit islands, but this makes a case that the improvements to Rainier-23rd would make it worth it. And Judkins Park Station will probably be the sleeper hit of the valley, with nonstop service to downtown, access to the Eastside, and (hopefully) a better bus-to-train transfer than Mt Baker Station. So if this route gets to Judkins Park Station just as easily as the 7 does, that could be popular. I’m still a little apprehensive because 23rd is so residential and most destinations are west of it, but maybe it will work.

    “without full transit lanes through Wallingford, the 44 will never get better.”

    I’ve mostly given up hope for 45th until the subway comes. The Wallingford businesses probably have a better case than Madison because it’s an entire business district rather than just an outpost of shops. The city should probably just take a lot and move the parking off-street.

    It’s interesting that 45th used to be the only frequent route in the area and people in Fremont used to have to walk up to it, but when the 31/32 went in (originally as partial daytime routes), they quickly became high-volume and expanded and expanded like the 8, and now they probably carry as many people as the 44 in the daytime if not more. Which makes me wonder if there should be a RapidRide there too.

    1. I agree on the 44. Offering a parking garage to offset removing parking for a bus lane seems like a decent compromise the businesses could accept. Perhaps SDOT could seize the soon to be CVS thru eminent domain and replace it with a temporary parking structure that will be a place holder for the future Wallingford subway station.

      1. ..and make a precedent in every other neighborhood? If you want tonspend funds on more subsidized parking and less transit, its a great model….

      2. Going from east to west north of the Ship Channel is truly a problem.

        There is no “easy” solution. Certainly, some sort of bored tunnel will probably be required. With growth, congestion is only going to worsen and lane takes are already impossible.

        To get the most utility of such a tunnel in years to come, it probably should be something like the current DSTT, where rubber-tired vehicles and rail vehicles can both use it. (Please no rail grounding mistakes, though!)

        With such a tunnel investment, all sorts of operational variations exist. How about linking a rubber-tired route to cross the 520 bridge? How about an L-shaped rubber-tired route that goes from UW through the tunnel, connects with light rail in Ballard and proceeds to the north? How about that proposed extension from the Downtown-to-Ballard light rail line that uses the tunnel? With transit, it’s as important to look at how linkages occur as much as it is what segments get served.

        I actually think that without a multi-modal and multi-line strategy in play, the investment will never get enough traction to get off of a wish list of some STB posters. It may even take two lines to make such an investment cost-effective.

      3. It would make sense to move parking off-street for all business districts that were built up before off-street parking was common.

      4. “Going from east to west north of the Ship Channel is truly a problem.”

        It’s a bigger problem south of the Ship Canal. Especially south of Jackson Street where the barriers get twice as difficult and the viable neighborhood pockets are less than a quarter mile wide.

      5. Please no. AC Transit is building free off-street public parking for displaced street parking for their BRT project on International Blvd. Great way to completely undermine the transit improvement and waste land that should be TOD.

      6. The parking is for buildings that were built before the 1960s when it was normal for buildings to have zero or just a few parking spaces. The lack of on-site parking makes these buildings more pedestrian-friendly, which builds community, and their general aesthetics are more human-scale because standards were higher then. So there’s a real argument that eliminating street parking without replacing them would make these buildings non-viable for business. TOD is a great thing, but do we really want to tear down the best old buildings rather than the ugly modern overparkinged strip malls and 1960s-70s buildings?

      7. Greenville, South Carolina. A quite lovely walkable downtown with (primarily) a single long shopping high street. The city built several parking structures a block or so off of Main Street; these structures charge a nominal amount during the business day but are free at many times, and the downtown area has simply boomed. Without the transit usage we have here in Seattle (to say the least) there is still street parking in pockets, but the garages worked wonders. The city’s downtown is dramatically different than it was a decade ago when I first visited.

        IIRC, Boulder, Colorado has done something similar, although their main street is pedestrian-only. Both are quite nice places to shop, eat, stroll etc.

        Mike’s comments are spot on…keep the high street feel as close to what it is as possible while enhancing the pedestrian and transit experience. Getting the cars off the street will help immensely in doing so, while still protecting the many businesses that still depend to some extent on auto traffic.

    2. The way to fix the 44 is by digging a three-lane auto tunnel (one lane in each direction with a center breakdown) from Stone Way to I-5 under 50th, thereby allowing 45th to become “one block BAT” plus parking. By “one block BAT” I mean that a car can enter the street by making a right turn to access a business in the adjacent block and then when leaving must turn right at the end of the block to exit the street. The current center turn lane would be restricted to buses passing cars in the running lanes which are parking or turning right to leave the street. This would have some impact on the north-south streets between 40th and 50th, but I genuinely believe that the business owners will be surprised at how few of their customers actually drive there. The vast majority of their customers are local residents.

      There would be the occasional conflict between buses going opposite directions which were simultaneously blocked, so there would need to be a rule for access to the center lane in such situations.

      1. If we’re going to dig a tunnel for the 44, the proper thing is to put a train in it, not cars.

        We don’t need any more tunnels for cars.

      2. Most business along 45th only have room for 1 or 2 cars in front and these businesses aren’t high volume. They would scream bloody murder if they lost these precious few spaces.

      3. @les — One or two spots? that makes no sense. That is not much business.

        I really think businesses overvalue parking. I think a lot of people have trouble thinking logically. If parking is hard to find it means that lots of people are parking in the area. That means lots of people are in the area, walking by your shop. I have more than one friend that has whined about how hard it is to find parking in Ballard (meaning cheap or free street parking of course) but all that means is that everyone else has taken it. It means those businesses are booming.

        Meanwhile, you are talking about a very small number of spots. Again, this is a logical error. It is like those white dudes who complain about a minority set aside, when they finished well out of the running. Yes, buddy, if there was no affirmative action, that black woman wouldn’t get in ahead of you — some other white dude would. Happy? The same is true of load/unload spots or handicap spots. I know it is frustrating to see that spot and think that you would have grabbed it, but chances are you wouldn’t have. Someone else would have.

        Even though I don’t care about the special “branding” that comes with RapidRide, or the silliness that comes with streetcars, I can see their value in this regard. It makes a splash. If the city announces that buses along 45th are now running 25% faster, only the transit nerds (like us) get excited. But if the city announces a fancy new Pink and Purple BRT line, with 25% faster service than the old stupid bus, it might get more shoppers to visit the area. I know there are plenty of areas that I will visit a lot more once things improve. The shop keepers should know this. The more time people spend stuck in their car or stuck in traffic, the less they want to get out and the less they want to visit your shop.

      4. les, and this idea maintains the parking. Remember that 45th is really a five-lane street. Yes, the lanes are narrow, but through most of the distance between Stone Way and Aurora, there are two parking lanes, two driving lanes and a center left-turn lane. This plan keeps the parking, making the business owners happy, and takes all three driving lanes for transit and short-range access to the businesses.

        As a refinement to the original post, I’d also allow cabs and commercial vehicles to use the transit lanes freely. BUT, they’d have to park against the curb. Double-parking twice would get the driver AND THE BUSINESS For which he or she works banned from the transit lanes.

        Now, all this is pretty draconian, so to sweeten the medicine, autos crossing the city in the corridor would get a tunnel like the Broadway Tunnel in San Francisco. The hill it pierces is much higher, but the distance is comparable and the idea is the same. A region of the city with a road system crippled by topography is underpassed.

        Everybody wins; the buses on 45th run freely but stay on the surface in order also to serve short hops for which subways are less useful without the cost of Verny frequent stations. Auto drivers simply passing through Wallingford get through it in half the time and without clogging the neighborhood.

      5. Businesses do underestimate the number of potential walk-ins they’d get if the neighborhood has better transit and more TOD. Some companies that have embraced the trend rather than fighting it have seen their business increase substantially, to the point that they don’t need to be concerned about the minority of driving customers. That only works in a walkable urban neighborhood, but that’s what Wallingford is.

        Still, there’s a difference between saying more businesses should embrace the rising pedestrian traffic and work to maximize it and be less tenacious about parking, and a blanket “Let’s eliminate all street parking around parkingless buildings without any replacement whatsoever because it’s all bad.”

    3. I recently moved from being close to 45th in Fremont to 40th in Wallingford, so switched from using the 44 as my main E/W route to 31/32. I was surprised by how busy they’ve become; a few weeks ago I took the last 31 back from campus around 8PM, and it was SRO at the HUB. About half the people got off at Campus Parkway, but were replaced by a new crowd of people.

      I don’t know that 31/32 need the full RapidRide treatment, but a few things that would help:

      1. Left turn arrow at 15th & Campus Parkway.
      2. More use of articulated buses
      3. Either add Sunday and night service on the 31, or make a short-run equivalent between UW and Fremont.

      1. 15th through Interbay already has RapidRide to Lower Queen Anne. Does it need the 32?

        It seems to me the whole arrangement from 15th westward should probably be rethought. Among other things, it seems like the 24 could use a reduction in service hours spent doing it’s three way weave, and replace those hours with a mixture of 31, 32 and 19 that go someplace without the weave.

        A Magnolia – Queen Anne – Fremont – Ballard restructure is probably a bit off topic though.

      2. The lights at Brooklyn/Pacific and Brooklyn/Campus Parkway each have buses sitting around and waiting for excessive amounts of time with little to no cross-traffic. As a very low-tech solution, I would suggest allowing unprotected left turns from eastbound Pacific to northbound Brooklyn, and getting rid of the Brooklyn/Campus Parkway stoplight altogether, replacing it with a 4-way stop sign.

        The 32 definitely needs a greater span of frequent service, at least between Fremont and the UW. The problem is that there’s nowhere around Fremont where a bus could easily lay over and turn around. One idea I’ve thought of would be to thru-route the 32 with the 13 at SPU, and eliminate the route 32 service through Interbay, which is redundant with the D-line and the 31. The saved service hours could be used to boost the frequent of the combined 31/32 routes for the SPU->UW segment, as well as finally solve the problem of connecting upper Queen Anne to something other than downtown. The problem is that the 13 is currently a trolley route and there would be a lot of resistance of converting the 13 to diesel. If some day, a battery-powered bus could carry enough of a charge to run a route like this, that would solve the diesel/trolley issues.

    4. I was initially very pessimistic about the possibility of making the 44 a very fast bus. It just seems like there are too many things that would make it very difficult.

      But I am a lot more optimistic now. A lot depends on political will and money. I think the biggest problem is the second one. For all the complaining about Madison, the city showed a lot of political will there. They did get rid of a lot of parking and got rid of a lot of turns. For those who drive that road it is going to get a lot tougher. But transit advocates pushed hard for the right things, and according to the engineers, we got the ones that mattered.

      But center running costs a lot of money. Improving the 44 in the same way would also cost a bunch. BAT lanes would be a huge improvement, but there is a lot of pedestrian traffic, and plenty of people who would likely be using the BAT lanes to turn right. The main reason I am optimistic, though, is that at least there is parking that can be taken, unlike some corridors (e. g. Denny). The other reason is that this could easily become a full fledged BRT line, meaning off board payment and signal priority. The second one is the real challenge of this route and why it makes sense as a subway. The main north-south route is Aurora, and this goes under it. But there are still a large number of north-south running lines (with plenty of buses on them) so giving this street a lot of priority is a challenge. Still, I think there is potential here to improve things considerably.

      I do wonder about the timing. To me this makes sense after Link gets to the U-District. At that point Link will be connected to that corridor. The businesses will see the obvious trade-off. I rarely shop (or do much) in Wallingford, because the traffic is terrible and the bus service takes forever. OK, to be fair I just take 50th and walk a ways. But with the combination of Link and a fancy bus (that moves fairly well) I think the owners can see the obvious trade-off. A bus can deliver a lot more customers than the puny number of parking spaces removed.

  3. With SDOT proposing off-board fare payment for all these lines, it would be logical to go back and add TVM’s to the existing C/D/E lines and end the prohibition of night time rear door boarding (that is, if they want a cohesive, comprehendible system).

    That alone would help speed up travel times on the C/D/E lines.

    1. Assuming rear-door ORCA readers, you could retain cash fare on board as long as it was higher than the ORCA fare. With only ~20% (declining) paying by cash you likely wouldn’t slow things down much provided all-door boarding hours are expanded. This could be a good intermediate step to ease transition to full off bus payment. That said, never purchasing fare boxes for new buses would be wonderful and cut down on a lot of nonsense.

      1. I agree rear-door ORCA readers are the way to go, but Metro has been resistant to them, even on the RapidRide lines. My only (small) concern is that they make the off-board ORCA readers redundant. It needs to be clear that if you tap off-board, you don’t need to tap again… that way you don’t have a line of people slowly shuffling past the readers.

        Also, the new TVMs the Streetcar got are nice. They’re super easy to use and are capable of selling several different fare products. The best part is they cost between $5,950 and $7,650 (depending on if they’re wireless/solar/coins & cards only… or if they’re hard wired with bill acceptors). Also, since they’re based off Seattle’s new parking meters, replacement parts will be easy to come by. But that’s cheap enough that even low-volume stops could get them.

    2. The 7pm rule is ridiculous for a supposedly BRT-like line. But I’m afraid it will likely go the other way, with the 7pm rule spreading to the new RapidRide lines. Maybe Metro should just budget for full-time fare-enforcement officers and off-duty police for the RapidRide network, then it would have no excuse for the 7pm rule. And get rid of two-zone fares on the E while they’re at it; that’s also usability-unfriendly.

      1. A couple of years back SF MUNI put a card reader on every single door in the fleet.

        Also, 7pm rule is plain idiotic. Seattle being an actual city, in places with entertainment and refreshments, life far from stops at 7.

        As with most things of this order, fare inspection will pay for itself in operating hours saved. So when County Council is pressured by business and passenger interests, will actually put saved hours in the credit column of the balance sheet.

        Mark Dublin

      2. @Mark Dublin

        The worst thing about the 7pm rule from my perspective is the inconsistent behavior from drivers. I’ve seen drivers on the E-line let people in the back door as late as 11:00 pm, and I’ve seen others enforce it.

        I’ve also seen two drivers literally slam the back door on passengers trying to door (hitting them in the face or catching arms in the door), and yelling at them for attempting to board the bus “incorrectly”. (this is E line, they have already paid off board!)

        This policy is not only bad for transit, its really bad customer service. It confuses people and encourages some drivers to physically abuse riders.

        It needs to end now.

      3. Consider the following;
        * Fare inspectors work well past 7pm (I’ve been inspected on the C Line as late as 9pm) and Transit Police (who could also inspect fares) work 24/7/365.
        * Rear-door boarding decreases interaction with drivers and therefore I would imagine it reduces the risk of a violent interaction with a passenger.
        * Having two different sets of rules confuses passengers.
        * The rule is nearly possible to enforce at busy stops, since the rear doors will open for disembarking passengers.

        So taking all of that under consideration… can anyone explain the logic of the 7pm rule to me? Heck I’d take someone playing devil’s advocate.

      4. My guess is someone thinks it keeps the drivers safer. If safety is really an issue at night though, I doubt the door someone boards matters…

      5. Metro recently surveyed RapidRide operators as to whether we would support extending all-door-boarding hours. The answer was a resounding “yes, absolutely”. Whether they’ll listen to that or not is an entirely different matter. I recommend commenting to Metro as a customer as to why you want rear door boarding. Vote early, vote often…

      6. I noticed the Madison BRT has a fairly abrupt change at 7:00 PM from 6 minute to 15 minute headways. I wonder if they assume a big slowdown after 7:00 and want to save money on fare inspectors by running fewer buses then. I doubt the Madison BRT will have front boarding. I’m with you, though, Ricky, other than trying to save on fare inspectors, I don’t see the point of the current rule.

      7. Yes. those of us from out of town find the 7 pm rule a bit confusing at first.

        Somehow, Eugene manages to have all door boarding all hours.

    3. Charles and Rick, inconsistency, especially when trying to enforce a policy that didn’t made sense, was a very important motive for permitting use of all doors for de-boarding after 7. Good precedent for same action before agency offices close today.

      Al, in design engineering phase, chief engineer strongly considered letting the original trolley-wired dual power fleet to run in electric mode underground from Convention Place to Campus Parkway.

      And perhaps install wire up the Ave for them to continue north. Rejected mainly because turned on or not, the fire department would not permit combustible fuel underground for that distance.

      Main reason for rejecting similar idea for the E-3 across I-90 was one, that the motors of the day would only handle about forty miles an hour.

      And also, and very pertinent for any non-urban busway, since buses can’t be coupled, safety cushion between vehicles makes a platoon 400′ long standing still to be a third of a mile or so at 60 mph.

      All above are critical considerations for both Ballard-University and another dual-mode tunnel downtown.

      Mark Dublin

    4. I would also push for Metro to improve their operator training regarding opening the rear door. I’ve been on a number of buses (including one RR E) where the operators still thought that the rear doors couldn’t be opened for deboarding after 7PM. I’ve taken to just complaining every time it happens, but it seems that Metro should just tell drivers to open the rear doors at every requested stop, unless there’s an obvious safety problem with doing so.

      1. If you don’t get anywhere with Metro Customer Services, call your King County council member and request they get in touch.

        Get route, bus number, time, location, and direction. Description of driver helps too. You’re not doing him any favors by letting this go. After dark, he could annoy the wrong passenger and get hurt.

        Nothing lost with bothering Dow Constantine, too. They’ll generally have Kevin Desmond get in touch with you, but nothing to lose by staying onto your elected reps as long as problem persists.

        When the county campaigned to take over Metro twenty years ago, one of their campaign points was that the system should be run by elected representatives.

        Other people and groups have no trouble reminding reps what they want. Present state of bus plan for Capitol Hill is perfect example. So you’ve got precedent.

        Mark Dublin

        Mark Dublin

      2. I have not had any problems exiting the rear doors for years now. Occasionally the driver doesn’t see you or is busy dealing with people up front and you have to shout “Back door!”, but I haven’t had drivers complain about opening the rear door, and there is a sign on the ceiling of every bus saying “Exit rear if able”. So the problem is either just a few drivers or mostly outside Seattle.

  4. Wait a minute… I just re-read the map for the 44 and it appears that they are not planning on asking for ANY lanes through Wallingford.

    That’s the worst part of the route. If they can’t get lanes there, they might as well not even bother with this investment…

    1. I’ve not driven the 44 in a while, but don’t underestimate what could be done with ruthless priority assigned to queue jumps and strategic banning of Right on Reds. SDOT has only scratched the surface of what’s possible so far.

      1. I drove it too, Velo, and more than agree. But I further think that if it isn’t happening now, coming generation of business will notice that efficient transit past their doors delivers the most customers.

        And decide that if still needed, mult-story off-street parking will work just fine.

        Mark

    2. While improvements for the 44 are certainty very welcome, this is also the corridor that I remain the most skeptical of. Expect SDOT’s current plans to be extremely watered down, and by the time this gets through the Public Process, we’ll likely end up with only tiny improvements over the 44 today.

      I’m definitely a fan of send the 44 over the viaduct to Children’s rather than detouring south to the UW Medical Center (pending the opening of the U-district Link Station in 2021). This will finally solve a huge gap in the transit network. Today, taking the bus up the hill from Children’s Hospital to 15th/45th in the U-district is no faster than a brisk walk, factoring in wait time, the Campus Creep, etc.

      1. University Village is a big destination too that is quite hard to access via transit now. Just adding a Pronto station there (if they’ll allow on their property such public urban infrastructure) or on the sidewalk next to it would improve non-auto access overnight and leverage the Burke Gilman trail adjacent.

    3. Charles I think you have that backwards. It’s hard without the key but orange = transit only lane, yellow=BAT lane, black = mixed traffic. So all of Wallingford would have a transit lane. Or at least that’s the plan.

      1. Ah that is more clear… without a key I could only make conclusions from the notes written on the map.

        Please include keys next time to avoid confusion. ;-)

      2. Thanks; i guess i figured people would download the PDF if they wanted to learn more. But that’s why you guys read STB, because we do this work for you!. :) I updated the bullet points above to make it more clear. To recap:
        yellow = BAT
        orange = transit only
        magenta = peak BAT
        black = mixed traffic

      3. Thanks Frank. Whew, much better. Yeah, I would be freaking out if they had no intention of doing anything in Wallingford.

        As far as parking, I think it is an interesting subject. I know a number of shop keepers, and I think it varies quite a bit. A lot depends on the street. My son is a brewer in Fremont, and he could care less about the parking in front of his place. Parking is hard everywhere, and no one expects to park anywhere near where they want to go. There is plenty of foot traffic anyway, so it really doesn’t matter.

        On the other hand, I know the guy who runs the Beer Authority in Lake City. He is concerned in general about parking. But part of the problem is that the streets are huge. If you park around the corner, you have to walk the equivalent of several Fremont blocks. Meanwhile, you don’t have the foot traffic, or the overall volumes to make up for the tough time parking. In other words, parking is hard in Fremont just because there are so many people there. Parking is hard in parts of Lake City because of the layout of the area.

        But ultimately, there are only a handful of parking spaces we are talking about. The only people who really get hurt are the quick in and out shops (such as a bottle shop). Eliminate the half hour parking spot and some guys might skip it. But even then you are talking about maybe a dozen sales per parking spot. Ultimately street parking is a drop in the bucket.

        It would be quite reasonable tomorrow for the city to just ban all parking on arterials, because it clogs up traffic. Would there be many complaints? Maybe, but we all know traffic sucks, and that would help things. In this case, we are trading much faster bus service for a handful of parking spaces. Ultimately, the shop keepers should come out ahead. As people shift to viewing transit as being primarily for getting to work to being a great way to get around, business should improve. Right now there are a lot of people who won’t visit the shops in Wallingford because taking the bus or driving is terrible. But a quick ride on Link followed by a fast ride on a bus and suddenly it sounds appealing.

      4. Hah. Yeah. Burke has his opinions.

        He blamed Romio’s doing poorly at the old location on the bus stop (instead of the fact that their food is pretty terrible.) I love the Albanians, but they should do much better as the the only Pizza place in Lake City. I guess the new location will be a natural experiment in the detrimental effects of transit.

        I would think another brewpub would do great in the old Romio’s location. Or a decent pizza place.

        He does have a point that parking is a bit tough for him, but just a bit. I never have too much problem. I would guess far more than 50% of his in-house clientele are there on foot, in any case.

      5. What really needs to happen is to slow things down between 130th and 127th, as there is always plenty of parking across the street. It’s just too dangerous to jaywalk for anyone but the foolhardy (like me).

  5. Like I keep saying, I think that with transit that does any street-boarding at all vehicle, especially buses, doors on both sides of a vehicle are a needless expenses, passenger-space reducers, and maintenance complications.

    Bellevue Transit Center and Federal Way Park and Ride- and Tacoma LINK- demonstrate the concept. Buses that have to cross lanes to enter the transitway can be signaled diagonally across intersections, just like any other street crossing.

    Any lane “bus-only” enough to be called rapid deserves physical barriers that cabn keep motor traffic out. Low Jersey Barriers or decorative paving stones same height should “do it.”

    Remember that a couple of decades back, both Second and Fourth Avenues downtown ran contraflow for years, separated from rush-hour car traffic by a paint stripe only.

    Does this setup get buses closer to and less collision-protected from, oncoming traffic than the average two-way street?

    Tell me, Velo, and any other Metro drivers: can’t you keep a bus inside lanes like this. Especially if barriers have tire-guides inside them?

    Mark Dublin

  6. The glaring destination omission is Harborview/First Hill/Yesler Terrance/Cherry Hill. Short distance services may be off the RR radar, but this area deserves better access with faster service too. It has very high residential densities and regional medical services.

    It would be very easy to extend or create a route to serve that part of Seattle between Cherry, I-5, Yesler and 20th Ave E. Why is this area still on a RapidRide island?

      1. Not at 15-minute headways!

        I can’t believe how we spent money to lay the tracks and electrical but no agency talks about how to salvage some utility by simply buying and operating more vehicles!

    1. The 3 and 4 are supposed to be rerouted to Yesler between 3rd and 8th as soon as somebody funds installing the wire. That will speed them up and make them more reliable. They’re already full-time frequent to 21st.

      1. That’s not enough, Mike. The areas need to be on the RapidRide network and have all the investments to speed up the routes in the area. The 3/4 journey is excruciatingly slow and the buses take awhile to board. Also, Yesler Terrace is poised to get buildings as tall as SLU.

  7. This needs to be said:

    If we’re buying new dual sided door buses for the electric bus routes, run them down 1st instead of 3rd. 3rd is full and we’re apparently going to spend money to get some exclusive streetcar lanes on 1st.

    Let’s put those lanes to work.

      1. Not every city bus can fit on 3rd. We have precious few parallel streets and can’t afford to waste one with exclusive lanes on just the short steetcar line.

        Additionally, the streetcars and Madison BRT will provide key uphill connections to folks who cannot walk uphill without having to even switch platforms.

        Are there any major destinations downtown you can’t get to by switching to a streetcar or Madison BRT? Its kind of nice how many good connections can be made on this corridor…

      2. “Steep hill away” doesn’t quite describe the 3 and 4 route between Third and Harborview.

        Driver uniforms should be exclusively driven by guys around 60 with elegant black-visor hats from the tansit past. Sitting on fold-down wood stools.

        And only controls should be a big brass wheel with a wood grip. With the driver calling out floors and merchandise at every stop.

        Maybe the Bay to Lake cable car system could route to Madison, and then down to Leschi. Though cable-car or bus, wouldn’t hurt to keep cars out of the way.

        Mark

      3. I noticed that 3rd & Pike northbound has only the D and E now, while 3rd & Pine has over a dozen routes. They must be preparing for the C and D split, to put the C at that stop.

      4. Correct. In March, between the C, D, and E lines, you’ll have 24 buses per hour stopping there during peak and 15 buses per hour off-peak. That’s a lot, especially when you add in the peak-only expresses and the 21 southbound.

    1. That’s a phenomenal idea… especially for the South Lake Union – Mount Baker corridor that will more or less parallel the streetcar (except that it would use Fairview instead of Westlake).

      1. One comment after going back and looking at the plans for the Center City Connector… looks like some sections of the line will be cobblestone or brick. That would look nice under a streetcar… but it would be miserable on a bus. Someone should run this idea by SDOT before they build the CCC.

      2. Actually, upon reading closer, that is exactly what SDOT proposes for the route you mentoned.

        I had some crazy idea that it would be good for RR D, but really any bus we can move off of 3rd helps.

  8. To speed up some of the Rapid Rides downtown, I would like to propose a backup plan to the WSTT; to use the 99 Tunnel.

    Vertically bore shafts for high-speed elevators to access 3 to 4 mined stations on top of the 99 Tunnel. The buses could either run in general traffic lanes and pull over to stations along the emergency shoulder lane or the shoulder lane could be reconfigured into Bus Only lane. The tunnel has the physical space; simply a shuffling of the lanes are in order. As planned, the tunnel has a 4 foot buffer, two 12 foot lanes, and an 8 foot emergency shoulder. Reducing the general traffic lanes to 10-11 feet, and reducing the 4-foot buffer to 2 feet should give the proposed bus lane or bus pullover/emergency lane the 12 feet needed.

    We could create the stations at 3rd and Bell to serve Belltown, 1st and Pike with additional inclined shaft to Westlake Station, 1st and Madison, as well as stations at the North/South portals.

    The stations would need to have Platform Screen Doors that open upon opening of the bus’s doors. This would prevent any rider from inadvertently entering the tunnel.

    The north end of the tunnel has a great alignment to accommodate the stations (3rd and Bell, Pike Place Market!). The southern end is not as ideal, but that is the trade-off for saving 3+ billion on an additional tunnel downtown. The southern stations at least would be directly transferable to the City Center Connector and the ferry system.

    I understand this would not give the desired exclusive lanes we so badly need, but it would be a lot quicker than slogging through congested city streets with traffic lights. Variable tolling of the general traffic lanes would help minimize routine traffic we are accustomed to on the Viaduct. Fish truck level incidents would have the potential to impede the flow of traffic as this would not be a grade separated form of transit, but that is another trade-off for saving 3+ billion on an additional downtown tunnel.

    One issue I foresee with the bus/station configuration is that one direction would require left side boarding. But seeing as the Rapid Ride fleet will be expanding to have left side boarding, problem solved!

    And for those of you worried about construction of the vertical shafts, WSDOT & STP have lots of practice at that now ;)

    Only a handful of the routes could utilize this, namely the E, the C, the RapidRide 120, and a revised D. Additional express routes that currently use 99 could also make use of this idea. But that is a sizable amount of buses that can be removed from 3rd Ave and thus improve the quality of the other Rapid Rides on 3rd.

    How would you all improve upon this?!

    1. Main improvement: encase the transit portion, stations and running lanes, in ventilated and soundproof concrete.

      Freeway flyer stations are bad enough. But underground, the tire-noise itself would be unbearable for waiting humans, let alone the fumes.

      Your tunnel fleet should be trolley-wired or battery powered for same reason.

      I like the idea itself- because of how much I hate the idea of a transportation project that size carrying no transit at all.

      Would be worth serious consideration if only to watch Big Bore Backers try to explain why it shouldn’t be done.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Valid points about noise and fumes, but those can be mitigated through proper design. I don’t necessarily think those are big enough problems that can’t be overcome. The tunnel will already be adequately ventilated per the engineer of record’s design. The stations could be ventilated separately via ducts running down next to the elevator shafts. For redundancy though I would over supply with fresh air the station boxes where the people are waiting. That would keep the space filled with fresh outside air and keep it positively pressurized between the roadway ensuring no fumes enter the stations. For the noise, I concur, soundproof the heck out of it. Soundproof glass, thick concrete, floating floor over neoprene isolation pads.

        One other point that I forgot to mention before is that this could be operational by spring 2018. What other option can boast that quick of turn around for a mostly grade separated route through the city with connections to existing DSTT, ferries, CCC, and leverages our current technology? Nothing else before the end of the decade, that’s for sure.

        What other things could improve this? Perhaps mezzanine connections to the waterfront as well?

    2. The document talks about adding SB bus lanes on Alaskan Way for Rapid Ride buses to West Seattle… what about just using the SoDo Busway?

      1. Too slow. There’s no good connection between the busway and where the bus needs to go on either end.

    3. If the tunnel could be leveraged it would be huge. It would be very tricky politically. As it is now, the rest of the state thinks we wanted the thing. In that regard it would be better if McGinn (an avid opponent) was in charge. Other than that, it sounds like a great idea.

      Here is why: Without downtown or Western ramps, it won’t carry that many people. The state wants to have very high tolls to try and recoup some of the money, but that will discourage use. They will have a hard time generating much money regardless of how much they charge. But the city could chip in and use it for transit. I see a couple possibilities. One is that the city just buys one of the lanes for transit. Given the cost of various projects, it seems like a good value. The other is what you suggested. My only concern there is whether the pullouts will work in a safe manner. The cars might be moving fast and this will be a tunnel. Maybe activated warning signals might help.

      All in all, this sounds great. It is quite likely that very few cars will use the tunnel. One lane in each direction may be adequate. Those that use it will love it (and pay extra for it). But for most of the city it just doesn’t make sense.

      Your plan would essentially create two thirds of the WSTT. It leaves out arguably the most important part, though (the part under lower Queen Anne connecting to Ballard). But if Ballard to UW is built, then Ballard really doesn’t need the WSTT. It is nice, but not essential.

      Lower Queen Anne is the one area that is left out. But Lower Queen Anne will be much better once Bertha is done. Then a bus can go from lower Queen Anne to South Lake Union and avoid Mercer and Denny by using Thomas over Aurora and possibly through the Seattle Center (and presumably run in its own lane much of the way). It’s still a challenge to go downtown, unless the Roosevelt “Full BRT” (AKA Roosevelt/UW/South Lake Union/Downtown) line is built. The speed on that thing is truly remarkable (over 20 MPH through there). That would mean that you could turn south and go to Westlake without any delay. If the rest of the line from Uptown was built to the same standards (and I believe that is possible) you could start at Queen Anne Ave and Mercer, cut across almost all of South Lake Union and get to Westlake Center in six minutes. It would also enable a transfer north to the other line which would get you from lower Queen Anne to the UW faster than Link ever could.

      All in all, that is one hell of a set of projects for the money. But again, I’m not sure if it would fly. The state might freak out if we tried to “take” one of the lanes for buses. But who knows? They might be thrilled by the idea of us, say, chipping in a billion dollars for one of the lanes at a time when state coffers are really low.

      1. I don’t think the Bertha problems are the half of it. My money (no pun intended) is that the new Waterfront Tunnel defaults from not meeting toll projections and has to be bailed out. By who I don’t know but it sure as hell better not be Seattle.

      2. I agree Poncho. The Bertha issue is a side show. The real problem is the lack of downtown ramps and ramps at Western. That kills a huge part of the whole thing, and tolls won’t come close to raising the money necessary to bail it out.

        But if Seattle can simply buy up a lane and use it for transit, I would be thrilled (assuming the boring could work as Andy suggests). I think we could strike a deal for way less than it would cost to build a new tunnel. Even though a new tunnel would be much better, if we could buy a lane for cheap, I would be all for it. The devil is in the details, of course, but a billion sounds about right.

  9. I’d be more comfortable with median or left-side boardings if there was a multi-agency commitment to technology that guided the vehicles to align within an inch of the platform like a rail-guided train. While there are different places that have developed some applications of this, Seattle could be a model for a better US standard for these systems.

    1. So far the only technology which does that reliably is called “train tracks”. Also called “streetcar tracks” when they’re in the street.

      I don’t know why some people go to so much effort to try to avoid building trains, including coming up with idiotic bus schemes.

    1. Eugene, Oregon busway has an interesting method of guiding buses, a lot simpler and less expensive than guide-levers with rollers attached to the front axle as Germany has used.

      At every station where high platforms make accurate approach critical, there is a bar of smooth heavy yellow material that looks like plastic or fiberglass bolted to the concrete below the platform.

      Side of the tire rolls smoothly along the guide. Might be good idea to call Eugene as to possible tire damage. But doesn’t look like there’d be a problem.

      Good rule seems to be to use these guideways wherever the bus has to work to a high platform. Though I think Metro considered forming a slanted concrete “lip” into the curb under every lane.

      Leaving guidance to the skill of the driver. Which some not-given intensive training makes easier than you’d think. Also have to make sure that part-time DSTT drivers get double the training.

      Incidentally, Eugene busway vehicles have doors on both sides, and open the left-hand doors on the center-platform stations, making non-contra driving easy.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Eugene has also experimented with an automated guidance system that uses magnets and GPS. When it’s turned on, the drivers simply control the brake and gas pedal and the bus steers itself. The system is far more precise and consistent than a driver could ever be. It also allows the drivers to approach the stations faster since they don’t need to line up the bus.

        Here’s a video example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oKsleOocFM

  10. Re: Corridor 4: Rainier Valley – UW – I prefer bus lanes to road diets. For one, when I was in Seattle during Seafair 2015 Route 7 would get stuck in traffic. Bad.

    Speaking of Seafair, I have to raise the issue that currently Seafair and KC Metro awesomely provide a shuttle from Columbia City Station to Genessee Park and America’s Blues. Hopefully there’s a way to also provide shuttles to/from this BRT corridor.

    1. If SDOT, Metro and ST developed an exclusive busway for Oregon Street from MLK to 42nd for those days, the shuttle could operate with profoundly high frequencies and speed.

      Over time, I hope that a multi-agency action team for special events gets promoted for both operational development and marketing. How about a Special Events management position to supervise these many parts of services and serve as spokesperson for these days?

      1. I would love to see a Special Events transportation consultancy or transportation staffer w/ Seafair who can be loaned out; and I say Seafair as Seafair runs so much of Seattle’s events now. Smooth transportation to/from is so vital for a good event… and a great trip.

  11. So, this all looks really exciting, but I’m wondering if STB has heard why the 7/48 corridor is different from those proposed in the Move Seattle Levy: http://letsmoveseattle.com/projects/transit/

    I really like the proposal to create a 48/7 hybrid (especially creating a better connection between the Central District and Columbia City), but it seems to be different from what was proposed in the levy?

      1. Thanks! Looking forward to the follow up. As I said, I love the change, but it seems like a fairly major change!

    1. Guess I missed the Alaska Junction part. That’s a heck of a deviation for one stop when it can serve the zones at Fauntleroy/Alaska as the 116 currently does.

    2. The 116 is a milk-run along Fauntleroy, making a bunch of stops.
      The C Express is a good idea… but frankly I wish they’d look at running a short-turn at Alaska Junction instead. It seems to me that the busiest portion is near the dense residential development at Alaska Junction and the Fauntleroy Triangle (Fauntleroy, 35th & Alaska). Plus, there’s more apartments being built now. Morgan Junction and the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal are quiet by comparison.

  12. A center lane BRT does not require left-side doors. See https://www.sfmta.com/projects-planning/projects/van-ness-corridor-transit-improvement-project for a planned example of center lane BRT without center platforms. A big advantage of right side platforms is the ability to use existing equipment, and allow open access for other systems; Muni’s Van Ness BRT will be used by Golden Gate Transit’s suburban buses coming across the Golden Gate Bridge.

    Another advantage is a graceful failure mode; a coach breaking down at a stop will not block the line. All a following coach would have to do is swing into the opposing BRT lane for a short distance to pass the disabled vehicle. This can’t be done with a center platform; any passing would have to involve the crowded auto lanes.

    1. Agreed, center running with right side (normal) doors is the way to go. I wish we were seeing more of this.

    2. A lot of these streets don’t have extra space to put two stations, so sharing a center one is a lot cheaper. This should be obvious.

      Another obvious advantage to center running versus exclusive side running (as the Van Ness project has) is that general traffic has an easier time getting into the main corridor. It is quite common in the city to simply ban left turns around congested areas. If that happens, then a set of center running buses has no conflicts at all with cars. No special signals — nothing. With the other configuration you have more cars crossing the paths of the buses. Obviously that is controlled, but adding controls slows down overall traffic.

      Both Link and our streetcars have left side doors. The advantages (other than cost) should be obvious, but if not, consider what happens if you want to change directions. With a center station it is trivial. Without it you need to cross the street (or in the case of Link, go up and over). As we build out our system we will have overlapping lines. This very post mentioned one:

      The TMP also includes this nugget: “evaluate tradeoffs of converting First Hill Streetcar running way on Jackson Street to center-running transit-only lanes to allow for shared RapidRide/streetcar operations and Japantown, Chinatown, and Little Saigon center-platform stations.” The result would be an impressive 33% travel time savings through the corridor.

      The key word here is trade-offs. Something to consider when it comes to this sort of thing. But it should be obvious that left side boarding is a very small price to pay for all the flexibility and advantages it offers.

  13. Andy, the less likely something is to happen, the more you want to push the most extreme approach you can think of. Therefore, demanding that your lane and stations become a completely encased transit system is your only hope.

    Though even better approach would be to demand converting the whole tunnel to an enormous electric rail right of way and freight yard. Then you might get your separate transit tunnel.

    Ricky, the problem with putting anything in or close to street traffic completely under electronic control to transit-plaftorm tolerance is that when such equipment fails, it blows out suddenly and without warning.

    It’s also really doesn’t like getting hot, wet, dirty, or hit. Meaning the whole world of public transit. The airport underground train to the terminals might be good applicton. But for busways with tighter tolerances than a driver can handle, something mechanical is a lot safer.

    Mark

  14. So seems like SDOT/Metro will be ordering a big fleet of RapidRide+ buses with doors on both sides. Does this mean the 40 & Delridge will be electrified and they will only order electric trolleys? Or hybrid-diesel versions for these two lines? 7-Rainier is electric, Roosevelt has been mentioned as becoming all electric, Madison is electric, 44 is electric, 48 is getting electrified in the missing gaps. Would also appear this would free up a lot of the brand new trolleys that were to be allocated to the 7,12,44,70 (plus the loss of the 43 and 19th Ave service) perhaps for electrifying more routes like the 8 and 11? Other electrified candidates?

    1. Don’t forget the RR version of the 44 is getting extended to Children’s Hospital, where there isn’t trolley wire yet, so add a bit more to the list of electrification needs, if SDOT’s going that way. Also, most of the trolley wire in the city badly needs improvements if it’s going to be called “rapid.”

      Good question.

    2. Appears in the document that the RapidRide+ 44 will not be left side door buses, so probably then the new standard fleet articulated trolleys will continue to run here and this extension. Found the map of possible extensions, the #48 on 85th, extension of the 13 to Fremont, even Magnolia buses are candidates for electrification.

      This document is fantastic bedside reading for any transit aficionado. The more you dig into it the more you find especially the maps at the end… “Harrison Transit Pathway, new Boren-Denny line. Its really exciting to see all these improvements in the works and likely funded, finally transit is being taken serious, though we need to strongly support SDOT in implementing these over NIMBY, SOV and business parking interests.

      1. I agree. I think the biggest challenge, though, is money. Well, that and traffic. I know people think that parking will be preserved, but so far, the city has shown little interest in preserving much, if any, when it comes to these corridors. General traffic flow is much harder to manage. To take a lane on Denny, for example, would be very difficult. That would send traffic shock waves through the city that might end making things worse for buses overall.

    3. I doubt the Delridge line would be electrified, there would be too many technical challenges in putting wire on SR99 & the West Seattle Bridge, for a line that will likely be truncated once light rail opens.

      On the other hand, I’d love to see the 40 be electrified. It’s a good candidate since it’s such a popular route and once the improvements are in place, it’s unlikely to be rerouted.

      The 8 is a great candidate to be electrified too. Unlike the 11, it likely wouldn’t face much community opposition.

      Another option is that Metro could simply modify the existing trolleybuses to serve on a new line that doesn’t need left-hand doors. It’s not hard to slap a coat of red paint on an old bus. It also wouldn’t be impossible to modify the old buses to have left-hand doors, if necessary.

      1. I’d like to see the 40 electrified too, but it seems unlikely at the moment.

        SDOT seemed most keen on extending existing electrification (like the Roosevelt cooridor) than they were on electrifying entire new corridors.

        Electrifying the 40 may have to be a long term goal.

        I’d like to see all major routes (especially off the major arterials) electrified eventually.

        40? 75? yes please.

    4. Turns out we were guessing wrong. Page 4-9 of the TMP Addendum: “BRT typically uses diesel-powered vehicles, however electric trolley buses could also be used. The TMP recommends one such line, on Madison from Capitol Hill to Colman Dock. It would be limited to 40-foot buses due to the topography of the corridor.”

      1. Yeah sounds like 3 types of vehicles to be ordered… 40′ ETB left & right side door BRT, 60′ ETB left & right side door BRT and more diesel-hybrid RapidRide buses identical to the existing for the 40,120 and more service on current RR lines.

  15. I’m surprised to see bus lanes proposed through Wallingford commercial district… what would the street section look like here?

    1. I suspect the parking would be gone and the bus bulbs would be shaved back.

      Since the buses will run either curbside or the center lane would be converted to platforms.

      Not sure which idea SDOT is backing yet. With electrified double door buses, both are an option.

  16. A new multi-modal bridge is proposed west of the Fremont Bridge as one option for BRT in Fremont and to avoid the Fremont Bridge. The Sound Transit Downtown-Ballard via Westlake at-grade option also actually had a short tunnel proposed to bypass the Fremont Bridge and dive under the canal.

    1. I seem to remember the city thinking about adding another bridge a while ago. The thought was to add another bridge for transit only at 3rd NW if memory serves. Then someone suggested using that one for cars, and make the old Fremont bridge for buses only. Either way that is an expensive (but rather intriguing) idea.

      1. My vote would be to move the cars to the new bridge at 3rd and make the existing bridge transit-only. Since one lane per direction is plenty for a transit-only bridge, the saved space could be used to create a much bike lane that is separate from the sidewalk.

        Of course, any new bridge at 3rd would have to include bike lanes and sidewalks, but if transit can serve the center of Fremont with the existing bridge and have an exclusive lane while doing so, I don’t think transit over a 3rd Ave. bridge is necessary.

        Furthermore, cutting cars off of the Fremont bridge means significantly fewer signal phases at the Westlake/Dexter/Nickerson intersection, which means less time waiting at red lights for all road users.

      2. but this new bridge is mentioned as a high bridge, if transit used that it would be a huge advantage for buses and rail over cars

      3. Not really, because any buses that took a 3rd Ave. bridge would have to skip Fremont. If the point is to get from Ballard to downtown quickly, better to just take 15th Ave. all the way.

        It is much better for ridership overall to take the existing Fremont bridge, but get rid of all the traffic jams. Even if the bridge occasionally has to open for boats, as long as buses don’t have to wait in a long line of cars after bridge re-opens, it’s only a few minutes.

        Ideally, of course, bridge operators would know when there’s a bus approaching and time the bridge opening to inconvenience as few transit riders as possible.

      4. Good point about the bridge openings asdf2. That is a common misconception about openings. It isn’t the time spent waiting for the boat, it is the time spent waiting for traffic to clear. It is counter intuitive. In a car (in heavy traffic) you want to be stuck at the front, not way in the back. But in low traffic (such as on a bike) it is the opposite. A handful of buses is low traffic.

  17. Thanks Frank. This is an excellent report and very exciting. I think this is the most exciting thing to happen in transit since the bus tunnel was built. Consider Madison BRT, which will carry around 15,000 people a day the first year. That is over a third the number that Link carries right now. The time saved is also huge (as you mentioned). All this at a small fraction of the cost of Link. I think it is clear that it will save way more time per trip per dollar spent.

    Despite the fact that this is much cheaper, the big challenge is finding enough money to do everything we want to do. Roosevelt BRT is a great example. As you suggested, I believe your information on this corridor is out of date. The time savings would blow away those found on Madison. The “Full BRT” option* would lead to a 203% increase in speed north of Denny, and a 905% increase south of there. 905%! This is at rush hour. This is huge, and worth putting in perspective.

    Which I will try to do here (although I think it deserves its own post). But consider this schedule, starting at 8:00 AM:

    65th and Roosevelt — 8:00 AM
    55th and Roosevelt — 8:02 AM
    45th and Roosevelt — 8:03 AM
    Eastlake and Hamlin — 8:06 AM
    Eastlake and Howe — 8:08 AM
    Fairview and Aloha — 8:10 AM
    Fairview and Denny — 8:12 AM
    Third and Stewart — 8:14 AM

    The numbers are rounded, including the last one, which is rounded up. This means that you can get from 65th and Roosevelt to Macy’s in less that 14 minutes. The shocking part are all of the places you can get to in between there. The UW to the Hutch in about 7 minutes during rush hour. You can go from the Moore Theater, over to Fairview, cut north and get past the south end of Lake Union in less than 5 minutes.

    But that is all assuming “Full BRT” is built. I know there is only so much money to go around, but I say we build it. Worse case scenario, much smaller changes are made in other areas. I realize that would suck, but in the long run I think it would be worth it. If this corridor is made as fast as it could be made, then it alters the way that people look at these projects. Not one is begging for RapidRide. But people would beg for this, and they would pay for more of this throughout the city.

    Page 3 of this document: http://1p40p3gwj70rhpc423s8rzjaz.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/FINALBOARDS_12-07-2015.pdf

    1. 14 minutes from 65th and Roosevelt to 3rd and Stewart on a bus with stops every 1/2 mile is simply not realistic. Google Maps pegs the route at 18 minutes without traffic (assuming you take Roosevelt and Eastlake and do not go on the freeway) – and that’s driving in a car, without stopping to load or unload a single passenger along the way. Even taking the freeway, a drive from 65th/Roosevelt to 3rd/Pine would still take about 14 minutes – and that’s even under the assumption of empty roads.

      Full BRT would probably be at least 25 minutes if the route is to have any kind of decent stop spacing. RapidRide Plus would likely be more like 30-35 minutes.

      1. Here is a quick review of the math:

        65th and Roosevelt to Fairview and Denny: 4.2 miles at 21.3 MPH = 11′ 49.85 seconds
        Fairview and Denny to 3rd and Pine: 0.6 miles at 25.1 MPH = 1′ 26.05 seconds

        Total time: 13 minutes, 15.9 seconds, which I round up to 14 minutes.

        Please correct my math and tell me where I made a mistake.

        Your seat of the pants, unscientific estimation is bizarre to say the least. I have no idea how accurate Google Maps is, nor do I care, but I know they don’t assume you will make every light (with or without traffic). But the cities modeling may assume exactly that. The time spent on the freeway, by the way, would be way less than what you said, because again, the distance is less than five miles. It sounds like you have a problem with SDOT’s modeling, and that is fair — so go ahead and ask them how they get such impressive numbers.

        But if you want to estimate numbers, I can do the same. Let’s see, 4.8 miles, but just round it up to 5 Assuming you made every light, and traveled at 30 MPH, that is 10 minutes. Now add in 9 stops at 20 seconds per stop, for another 3 minutes. Add in another minute for time spent waiting at lights (no signal prioritization system is perfect, although this one has some obvious advantages). Wow, what do you know — pretty close to 14 minutes.

        The distance is rounded up. The dwell time of 20 seconds is generous (BRT systems have “a typical dwell time of no more than 15 to 19 seconds at a stop”, http://reimaginerpe.org/node/344). About the only thing that might slow this down is if you added a bunch of stops. That is reasonable. If you doubled the number of stops (to 18) you get 6 minutes of dwell time (again, that is generous) or closer to 17 minutes, end to end.

        It all depends on what we want this to do. I do find it funny that people are very excited about Link, with its ridiculously large stop spacing, but when it comes to building something almost as fast with three times as many stops, folks complain that it might not have enough of them.

      2. As it turns out, I failed to realize that the document actually spelled out the stops. There would be 12 south of Roosevelt. This is well within the range of my napkin math for the speeds they claim (an average dwell time of 15 seconds and you would get this easily).

        I’m not sure I would put the stops where they put them, but they are quite reasonable. I suggested 9 stops south of Roosevelt which works out to about 1/2 mile stop spacing, which some might call standard for a rapid transit line.

        Our light rail line is, of course, not standard. Outside the downtown area (which they did not build) stop spacing is around a mile (or worse). There is no stop at 55th, there is no stop at Campus Parkway, no stop at First Hill, etc.. Even the addition of Graham Street will only shrink the distance between it and the station to the south (Othello) to around a half mile. The distance to the station to the north (Columbia City) would still be around a mile.

        But back to the BRT line, I could go either way. Optimum stop spacing has been debated quite a bit, but of course every expert on the subject says that you have to adjust to the local realities. The first thing I noticed about this line is that it is relatively flat, which means that wider stop spacing is OK. I would in general split it into sections. North of the ship canal, the choices are pretty clear. For example:

        1/4 mile — 65th, 60th 60th (Ravenna), 55th, 50th, 45th, Campus Parkway
        1/2 mile — 65th, 55th, 45th

        Personally I would compromise a bit, and add Campus Parkway to the 1/2 mile stop spacing. The city has 65th, Ravenna, 50th, 45th and Campus Parkway. Personally I would stick to the one stop at 55th. Ravenna is nothing special, really (there is actually a decrease in density and no connecting bus service). 50th is a tougher call — it does have more density, more shops and some connecting bus service. But bus service could me moved (and connect with 45th or 65th) which would make sense in general, but also to support this line. .

        In Eastlake it gets tricky. Heading south (still) I get the following:

        1/4 mile — Allison, Hamlin, Louisa, Boston, Garfield, Yale,
        1/2 mile — Hamlin, Boston, Galer, Aloha

        It is worth noting that the Garfield to Yale distance is closer to a half mile, but that is the existing stop spacing (it would be silly to increase it for a rapid transit service).

        This is a tricky region in general. Unlike the area north of the ship canal, parallel service would not be very complementary. The 49 serves Allison (which would be fine if you are headed north) but if you are headed south, it quickly splits off in a different direction (headed up the hill). Between Allison and Hamlin, there are no cross streets, meaning you can’t make a logical compromise without throwing away any hope of a reasonable connection. With all that in mind, I think it makes sense to put a stop at Allison, even though it is very close to the north end of the peninsula. The city actually puts the stop right at the point of the peninsula, which I think is silly. That creates a pretty big hole. I would start with Allison. With that in mind, I would shuffle things a bit and have closer to 1/3 spacing with:

        Allison, Roanoke, Newton, Galer, Ward

        The city has wider stop spacing. I basically add a stop and end a bit farther down the road. From there (South Lake Union to Downtown) here are some stops:

        1/4 mile: Republican, John, Boren, 7th, 3rd
        1/2 mile: Thomas, 8th, 3rd

        I think the city has the right idea in general with their stop spacing, except for Mercer. Mercer is a very messy stop (next to the freeway). From Ward (or even Yale) it isn’t that far to Mercer. The rest of the stops look good, which leads to:

        Republican, Denny, 7th and 3rd.

        So, for those who have of you still following, here is the difference between my stop spacing and what the city has sketched out:

        Mine:
        65th, 55th, 45th, Campus Parkway, Allison, Roanoke, Newton, Galer, Ward, Republican, Denny, 7th and 3rd.

        SDOT:
        65th, Ravenna, 50th, 45th, Campus Parkway, Fuhrman, Lynn, Garfield, Yale, Mercer, Denny, 7th and 3rd.

        It’s actually the same number of stops. Mine are shifted around a bit to reduce maximum walking distance (especially in Eastlake) whereas SDOT’s show a strong preference for more populous (or popular) areas.

  18. The RapidRide C Express proposal ignores the Move Seattle project titled Fauntleroy Way/California Transit Corridor that is to invest $70 – $86M for bus lanes, ITS for ALL bus stops and transit centers, and a full transit station on Fauntleroy near the West Seattle Bridge.
    .
    The photo used for the project (titled V in the document) is a portion now used only for Vashon peak period express buses (116, 118, and 119).
    .
    SDOT has not offered substantive information about the features and certainly not enough to justify the cost estimate range.

  19. “Seattle’s RapidRide station s are distinguised by providing a full suite of station features a customer would expect at a light rail or rapid transit station — from comfortable seating…” (TMP, page 59)

    Where are the RapidRide stations with comfortable seating? The only ones I’ve seen have benches less comfortable than regular bus shelters, and a paucity of seats.

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