King County Metro RapidRide 2013 New Flyer DE60LFR 6089

After returning with additional modifications, Metro gained approval from the Burien City Council for RapidRide H improvements (previous coverage here).  See Omaha Sternberg on Twitter for the play-by-play.  You can read Metro’s full proposal (Alternative C) on the Burien website (PDF).

RapidRide H, the upgraded version of Metro Route 120, will use Business Access and Transit (BAT) lanes for much of its route through Burien, thanks to the rechannelization scheme that passed the council last night.  Ambaum Way SW, which is five lanes wide in many areas, will get BAT lanes, two general purpose (GP) lanes, and a center turn lane.  Previous alternatives proposed more aggressive rechannelization.  The new Alternative C has no real road “diets,” since no lanes are being removed, they are simply being repurposed for BAT use.  The main exception is a short, curved stretch of Ambaum Way, which will go from 4 lanes to 3.  I’m not personally familiar with this stretch, but the fact that someone thought to put concrete barriers between the road and the sidewalk certainly suggests that it has serious safety issues.

To ameliorate motorists’ concerns about being stuck behind the bus, Metro will avoid placing bus stops in areas where the road narrows to “only” 3 or 4 lanes.  That will mean stop spacing approaching half a mile in some spots, which is normal for rapid transit but has not been the norm for RapidRide.

The new alternative will only slow cars by 5-8%, while decreasing bus travel times by 13% in both directions.  New pedestrian crossings and signals will further enhance safety.   RapidRide H will launch in 2020; Metro projects 12,800 riders by 2023.

Photo by Zach Heistand, via STB Flickr Pool

18 Replies to “New RapidRide H Alternative Passes Burien City Council”

  1. The curved section of Ambaum has always been a safety challenge. Lanes are narrow (I’d guess 10.5′) and car drivers in the area are not known for making prudent speed choices. Glad to hear that stretch will get the diet.

    Honestly the whole outcome is better than I expected given the process and the rumors.

    1. This is great.

      I helped to root out some fascist council members – the pro-immigrant newbies are also friendlier to transit and urbanism.

    1. I read this incorrectly at first too – might be better to rephrase so it’s clear that the bus travel time is improving, rather than “decreasing,” which implies something negative at first glance.

    2. Travel times, not speeds. They are the inverse of one another; when one rises the other falls.

  2. Huh. That stop spacing is pretty wide in some areas where it’s the only route around. It seems a little weird to eliminate bus stops over general-purpose traffic delays on segments that will have BAT lanes! I don’t think the spacing is excessively close today, but I guess the stop removals will speed up some moderate-distance bus trips a bit…

    1. It’s a very long route as it is. I don’t live far from its southern terminus, but I always take Link + the F Line to get back home from Downtown Seattle, because it’s 15-30 minutes faster. The only thing the 120/H has in its favor for my purposes is an all-night schedule (the F’s last run leaves around 12:30). Speeding it up might change that calculation for me sometimes (plus wifi, honestly).

    2. There will not be BAT lanes in the curved section. The article states that the road will have two driving lanes and a two-way left turn lane.

      1. Right, I wasn’t referring to the curved section, but to stop eliminations elsewhere (in places where, according to the document, there will be BAT lanes!). My reading of the document is that there isn’t a stop in the curved section that’s going away — maybe the northbound stop south of 116th is moving or something (maybe), but it’s not being eliminated.

  3. I have to laugh at this bullet point:

    ” 24.9% of residents are identified as partially transit-reliant or transit-dependent (meaning 1 or fewer vehicles per household) ”

    What about people that live alone? I know plenty of single-person households with one car that don’t rely on transit at all.

    A better statistic would be some cross-tab between household size and auto ownership. I don’t know if that’s possible — but this particular statistic looks pretty silly.

  4. I think that for Rapid Ride in general, and same with bus service, it would be good to get at least enough signal cooperation to be sure a bus gets across an intersection to a far-side bus stop.

    As driver and passenger, have always hated having to have to stop twice, with a hold of several minutes in the middle, before I can get into the zone I’m looking at a dozen or so yards away. System-wide, how much a fight is transit putting up over that?

    Shouldn’t even slow cross-traffic for a couple of minutes.

    Mark Dublin

    1. It’s not cheap to treat an intersection, and you can’t make it work where lines cross. But, yes, any arterial with ten buses per hour per direction should certainly be treated, with single-line RapidRide routes to follow.

      Ideally one would advance greens as well, but that’s more controversial.

  5. That is a pretty entertaining picture of RapidRide, an RR bus stuck in traffic behind a car. The picture is a harsh indictment of the futility of our predominately bus based approach to mass transit so far.

    And, yes, I know, there are things we can do to improve the situation, but at the end of the day you still haven’t gained that much.

    1. We all want RR to be better, but when our city is bucking the national trend of declining bus ridership by making RR-style investments in our bus service… it’s hard to call that futile!

      By RR-style improvements I mean both the actual RR routes and spot-improvements to other popular arterial routes. Nobody would accuse the 44 of being fast or reliable, but between clever queue-jump and signaling projects and funding commitments from the county and city to keep service levels up throughout the day/week, it’s a lot better than it would be in most cities, with the ridership to show for it.

      And at the regional scale, Seattle does a much better job of serving suburban employers with public transit than most US cities, including many with far more trains than we have. Chicago, for instance, has an excellent commuter rail system for suburban-living downtown workers, but transit access to suburban job centers is bleak. San Jose, for another example, extends VTA rail service to a few suburban job centers but only serves a tiny fraction of commuters this way.

      We have a history of under-investing in transit, and rail in particular. We could use a lot more rail, especially for our biggest and densest neighborhoods! But we’ve done a hell of a lot with buses and we should be proud of that.

    2. to be perfectly fair/pedantic, I believe the photo is of a RapidRide coach being used on local Metro 120 service, not of an actual RapidRide service

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