Route 120 in RapidRide Branding by Zach Heistand on Flickr

SDOT and Metro are still hoping for a 2021 opening date for RapidRide H in Delridge, but some potential utility work could delay things until 2022, according to a presentation (PDF, video) to the city’s Sustainability Transportation Committee on Tuesday.

Staff seemed hopeful, however, that an agreement with Seattle Public Utilities to move the stormwater facilities off of Delridge Way could let the project proceed as planned.

Otherwise, the 30% design is looking good for transit, though not much has changed from the 10% design in December. Proposed improvements include:

  • 1.5 miles of 24/7 bus lanes
  • 1.2 miles of peak-only bus lanes
  • 13 station pairs being updated with RapidRide branding as well as bus bulbs
  • Signal priority and two queue jumps

(Since this was a City of Seattle presentation, it was focused on the city’s side of the route. Burien will be seeing improvements as well.)

As usual, the messy tradeoff between bikes, buses, and on-street parking leads to some compromises. Parking will be removed in some areas, especially where SDOT is adding both bus and bike lanes. There will be some protected bike lanes and some diversion to neighborhood greenways on either side of Delridge. The (generally high quality) greenways themselves will be improved.

SDOT is responding to the community’s desire to extend the northbound bus lane further south, to reduce delays in the AM peak. We’ll know more at 60% design (this would be a good thing to advocate for if you go to one of the spring design presentations).

Finally, SDOT is interested in working with Sound Transit to coordinate capital improvements with a future Delridge link station, though it’s still very early in the ST planning process.

The long, narrow nature of the corridor and lack of major cross-streets means that there’s real potential for speed and reliability improvements with dedicated lanes, in-lane stops, and queue jumps.

The next round of outreach will happen this spring, with a goal of construction in 2020 and opening in 2021. Route 120 is the 10th busiest in the system, with 9,000 daily riders. The $70M project budget includes paving and stormwater as well as the bus & bike infrastructure.

22 Replies to “Bus lanes stay intact in RapidRide H 30% design”

  1. Sounds good. My understanding is that the bus is pretty fast right now, so this won’t be a dramatic change. But since this is a long run, all these features add up, which should make it an even better route. It looks like when it is all done, it will be similar to the E, in that it will carry a lot of people, and run really fast.

    1. Route 120 moves pretty fast, when it is moving. But dwelling time is painful when riders are trying to fill the last few standing spaces to avoid waiting 12 minutes for the next bus.

      Thank you, Metro and/or SDOT, for giving route 120 a service boost on March 25. Thank you to all the neighbors who are allowing the H Line to be competitive with climate-killing SOVs.

      BTW, has Metro decided on whether the buses will be diesel, hybrid, electric, or something else?

    2. Route E is hardly “pretty fast”. Midday scheduled time is 55 minutes to go 13 miles (leaving Town in the evening–add another ten minutes). My calculator tells me it’s average speed is 14 mph. Link will supposedly get me from Lynnwood to downtown in 25 minutes, even with the detour to UW, now that’s “pretty fast.” Granted, it’s the stretch in and around downtown that is the really slow part, and travel times are not too bad if you’re just going up and down Aurora Ave. Questions: how much more speed can we realistically expect to squeeze out of these busses, especially downtown? Can we learn something from the E about which battles to fight to get the most out of the H?

      1. 14 MPH is pretty fast for a bus that makes 33 stops, especially since that includes time spent moving through downtown. The 44 does not go downtown, and it averages less than 10 MPH at noon. In general 14 MPH is quite fast for a line inside a city (where the E spends most of its time). The average speed for the New York subway is 17 MPH (not much faster than the E).

        Granted, it’s the stretch in and around downtown that is the really slow part, and travel times are not too bad if you’re just going up and down Aurora Ave. Questions: how much more speed can we realistically expect to squeeze out of these busses, especially downtown? Can we learn something from the E about which battles to fight to get the most out of the H?

        I think you answered your own question. The Aurora part of the E is reasonably fast. It could be made faster if we skipped the silly detour to Linden. Maybe we could speed up boarding and improve the signal priority. WSDOT didn’t to it any favors by putting the southbound downtown exit on the left side. But even with all of that, the big speed improvement would be to avoid the big slowdowns downtown or building an express overlay (i. e. skipping stops). As with all speed related issue, tackling the slowest parts first will save you the most time.

      2. I’ve consistently gotten 45 minutes from Pine Street to Aurora Village. I think that could be sped up to 35 or 30 minutes with more transit lanes and closing the stops that are five blocks apart. Shoreline gave Aurora full BAT lanes but Seattle was too afraid of a few landowners and car-oriented businesses that are stuck in the past.

        Aurora is free-flowing off-peak but slows down peak hours, like 15th Ave W.

        The Linden deviation is unfortunate but it exists because the community felt that crossing the street at 65th was too unsafe for elderly people, and I found the unsignalized crosswalk a bit dodgy myself. There is an underpass a little further south; i don’t know if it’s ADA accessible. Or the city could install a traffic light or blinking there, although that would shorten the expressway a little bit.

        “The average speed for the New York subway is 17 MPH (not much faster than the E)”

        And cars go 25-30 mph on arterials and 65 on freeways. No wonder driving has such a high mode share. People regularly say, “It takes 45 minutes by bus but it only 15 minutes by car.” New York has express subways, regional trains, and express buses to make up for the slow speed of the local subways. The E has nothing faster than it.

      3. And cars go 25-30 mph on arterials and 65 on freeways.

        You are confusing average speed with top speed. Typical driving speed in the city is not 25-30 MPH, let alone 65. Most trips aren’t that close to the freeway, and traffic lights slow travel down considerably. If a trip “takes 45 minutes by bus, but 15 minutes by car” it means that the bus system has broken down. For example, getting from Phinney Ridge to Lake City takes over an hour by bus, but about 20 minutes by car ( The problem isn’t that the buses are too slow, but they just aren’t headed in a sensible direction for that sort of trip.

        It is funny that you want to close some stops five blocks apart, but don’t want to close the Linden stop (which is a much bigger delay). The Linden stop costs people time even if no one uses it (unlike the other stops). If Metro can’t figure out a way to carve out a stop here: (next to a signalized crosswalk) then just forget about it. It is one of the lowest density areas along that corridor, and doesn’t connect to any other route. The riders can simply walk over to Phinney and catch a bus there (or walk to the stop at Winona and Aurora). There are plenty of other places (with higher density) that have longer walks (e. g.

      4. I’m not saying we must keep the Linden deviation; I’m just mentioning the reason it’s there, which has some merit. The 65th stops (wherever they are) don’t have a lot around them but they do have something, and removing them would cut a whole neighborhood out of RapidRide. If you removed 80h, 95th, 125th, and 135th, people would only have to walk 5 more blocks to the next station, but if you removed 65th they’d have to walk to 78th or 46th. 76th might be OK given the relatively low density of 65th compared to the rest of the line.

        (There’s also an argument for removing stops in Shoreline, but Shoreline promised an urban village at all of them, so I’m inclined to defer to that even though I think 10-block spacing is better than 5 blocks on long RapidRide lines outside places like downtown and the U-District. Also, Shoreline is at the end of the line so the close spacing affects only people up there. (Although it also affects those going from Snohomish County to North Seattle. But the BAT lanes in Snoho and Shoreline make it more bearable. Maybe “bearable” is too strong; the E is certainly more tolerable than the 6 was or the only-daytime-frequent 358.)

      5. “getting from Phinney Ridge to Lake City takes over an hour by bus”

        It’s not just crosstown trips that don’t have a direct bus corridor. It’s also; e.g., from downtown to 15th & Aurora or downtown to Greenwood north of 105th; there’s no feasible choice except the E which takes 35 minutes or the 5 which takes about that time. That’s what people are complaining about. It’s not about trips like downtown to 46th which take a reasonable time on those routes. You can’t take the 512 to 145th and a westnound route because there’s no westbound route, and there’s no other alternative for north-central Seattle.

  2. From the linked pdf of the recent presentation: Based on community input, SDOT has agreed to create new “marked crosswalks” at 3 bus stop intersections that lack even that currently. This is unsafe and unacceptable. The minimum should be flashing pedestrian beacons, like recently installed mid-block at Boren STEM; better yet, full overhead stoplights, actuated by beg buttons, similar to the Holly Street crossing. Delridge has a mish-mash of inconsistent crossing improvements along the corridor. The City should decide what is best, and consistently implement it at *every* bus stop without a vehicular stoplight. No more playing favorites with whoever is most vocal or finds the biggest grant. This construction project is the time to make the crossings safe and equitable at *every* remaining Rapid Ride bus stop.

    1. Seriously. I live near Delridge & Hudson and crossing Delridge is the single most frightening thing we do everyday. Simple marked crosswalks should be the existing condition that we’re improving on, not the improvement that is being provided. Currently one has to travel 3/4 mile to get from one marked crosswalk to the next (23rd Ave SW and SW Brandon). It’s unacceptable.

  3. It’s good to hear that this is moving forward. I am very concerned, though, about the lack of bus lanes south of Alaska St. Traffic backs up on this stretch of Delridge to Hudson on occasion. With the addition of a median and curbside parking, it pretty much locks in delays for buses on those days. We should have a minimal guarantee that the transit time is as reliable as possible. I’d make the case to get rid of street parking on this stretch.

    I agree with Chad N about the pedestrian crossings. Although, I wouldn’t take Holly St as a good operational example. The City has this light horribly timed. I’ve seen so many people just ignore waiting for the light and crossing with a gap in traffic and then the light changes for nobody. It’s at least 45 to 60 seconds of waiting. The crossing at Boren is much, much better as it activates immediately. More of those, please!

    1. This exactly. Like the C-line, the H-line will remain unreliable on days with bad traffic. A true reliable solution will have to wait until 2030.

    2. I am very concerned, though, about the lack of bus lanes south of Alaska St. Traffic backs up on this stretch of Delridge to Hudson on occasion.

      Does the backup happen at various times of the day and both directions? If it is a case where the backup extends in the morning towards the freeway than it makes sense to just build in a “Peak bus lane/off peak parking” lane a few blocks. Either way, it should be something we push for.

      1. Yes it’s an AM peak problem.

        It’s silly that parking is being retained at all on Delridge or any other arterial street. The meandering bike route is the other odd part of this project. Cyclists prefer to commute in straight lines, same as anyone else!

      2. Well, the plans aren’t set in stone. They still want input. It is worth fighting for things that have a good chance of being implemented. It seems like extending “Peak bus lane/off peak parking” lane a few blocks on the northbound side would be pretty simple, and not piss off anyone (you can still park there during the day, load and unload, etc.). I would let them know.

  4. Something must be wrong with the city’s data on page 7 of the presentation PDF. It states that the current King County Metro route 120 makes 9,200 trips each weekday. Do they mean that it serves 9,200 passengers? 9200 trips would mean a bus every 9.4 seconds. On the other end if they mean there are 9,200 weekday trips over the course of a year, that’s only 36 trips per day, which can’t be right either.

    1. They mean 9,200 people board each day (on average). My guess is they meant that 9,200 *people* make a trip on the 120 each day (which is what they mean by “trips”).

    2. I suspect the author should have said “boards trips” rather than “makes trips”. Because both riders and vehicles use the word “trip”, the chosen verb is important. The other solution is to never use the word “trip” unless it contains a clear adjective that differentiates the trip.

      I generally prefer specifying “boardings” over “trips” when talking about bus route ridership, and “runs” over “trips” for in-service vehicles — but it’s hard not to confuse the terms. For example, I’ll say “six buses at peak hour” when it’s more accurate to say “six runs in each direction at peak hour”.

    3. “Trip” means one person going from an origin to a destination. (Unlinked trip: one boarding and deboarding. Linked trip: following them through transfers.) This is a common term in Metro and STB writings. The PDF might have been worded more clearly for laymen; maybe SDOT is less experienced with writing transit information that Metro is. Maybe “passenger boardings” would have been better, and it would have fit in the paragraph. I might have said “passengers”, but then some people might argue that implies distinct people rather than boardings (since a round trip is two boardings but one person). “Run” means a bus going on its route, although I’m not sure if it refers to a single, um, trip or its entire day from base to base.

  5. The streetmix section images are doing a weird jiggle thing when I click to view them full size…

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