Atomic Taco (Flickr)

SDOT and Metro are kicking off another feedback session for the newly-named RapidRide J, formerly known as Roosevelt-Eastlake BRT. The route combines pieces of Metro Routes 67 and 70 to provide service through South Lake Union, Eastlake, the University District, and Roosevelt, terminating at the Roosevelt Link station.

Map of RapidRide J Line from the University Bridge to Roosevelt.
Northern segment and terminus of RapidRide J

I first attended an open house for this project nearly four years ago, yet somehow we’re still five years from opening day. The scoping has been a bit of a roller coaster: what started in 2011 as a high-capacity rapid transit corridor had by 2016 morphed in to an “enhanced bus project” running in mixed traffic. Our 2016 analysis of Link vs. BRT travel times looked pretty bleak, and at its nadir we called it “an electrified and more frequent Route 70+67 and little more.”

In 2017, however, things got a bit better. SDOT added bus priority back in south of Eastlake, including BAT lanes on Fairview and a new inbound bus-only lane on Virginia. However the northern terminus, once set as Northgate, was scaled back to Roosevelt. Finally, last year the opening date slipped to 2024 as part of the Move Seattle reset.

To recap, the corridor will have transit and BAT lanes south of Eastlake, and protected bike lanes through Eastlake and the U-District. Full electrification is still planned, meaning that, unless I’ve forgotten something, the only two electric RapidRide lines, Rainier and Roosevelt, will both open in 2024.

You can provide feedback online or at one of the open houses this month. Agencies are looking for input on station locations, bike parking, and more. Construction begins in 2021.

117 Replies to “Roosevelt-Eastlake BRT is officially RapidRide J”

  1. Another example of protected bike lanes zig-zagging between the left and right, excepting everyone who uses them to stop and wait for an extra traffic light every mile or so to switch from right to left, back to right again.

    Why couldn’t SDOT design this so that the bike lane just stays on the right? They did it for the same RapidRide line in the southbound direction? Why not northbound also?

    Also, of course, why were protected bike lanes not put in on 11th at the same time they were put in on Roosevelt? Was the expectation that people would only bike in the southbound direction, and put their bike on the bus to go back north? If you have to be willing to mingle with the cars anyway, to get back home, a protected bike lane that runs one-direction only isn’t going to attract many new riders.

    1. From an infrastructure perspective: the bus bulb islands as built on the southbound segment are expensive as they involve significant modifications to curb lines, drainage, and utilities. Modifying drainage is complex due to the amount of digging around required and is a big factor in why the infamous million-dollar-mile bike lane on 8th Avenue cost so much. The 65th St solution may be the best way to go to keep the bike lane on the right side. However…

      From an operations perspective: keeps the interference between transit and people biking to a minimum as buses are right-door and remain in the right lane, while people biking can be on either side. Also may be done to reduce or avoid vehicle turning conflicts at 45th and 50th.

      From a realistic perspective: the University Bridge forces people biking to be on the outside, the existing bike connection in SLU are on the west side, and the connections to BGT are on the outside; none of which can change without a big heap of cash. Some flips (in this case two over four miles) will be necessary to accommodate existing conditions.

      That all said, if you want to see change, get out there, say something, and provide feedback in the public outreach process. Otherwise, nothing will change.

      1. You can also give feedback in the outreach process and still nothing will change. Take the bike lane going in on 34th in Fremont. It’s obvious from a cycling perspective that a 2-way PBL should be on the south side- and that was what the overwhelming feedback was during public outreach. But the 90% plan was just announced this week and SDOT is still going with the westbound bike lane on the north side of 34th – because their modeling didn’t account for the fact that many cyclists traveling west are going to turn south over the east side of the Fremont bridge.

  2. OH DEAR GOODNESS I was hoping those ninnies would rename the I-Line as the J-Line but it looks like it has been taken. Please don’t tell me the planning team is that inept..

    1. What do you mean by inept? The A, B, F, and I lines are outside Seattle, so there are already alphabetical gaps within our current naming. Because of that, Seattle will have C, D, E, G, and now J.

      1. Using I leads to confusion in many fonts with 1 and lowercase-L. And Metro doesn’t use serif fonts on its routing tables.

      2. Also, when they color code Link the bullets will be circles with letters in them, just like RapidRide. So the Red Line is going to be the letter R in a red circle. I sure hope whatever winds up becoming RapidRide R, which will also be the letter R in a red circle, doesn’t run anywhere near it.

      3. Holy cow, RapidRide R is the 7 Rainier.

        Sure won’t be confusing when signage downtown, at Chinatown, Mt Baker, and Rainier Beach has two R-in-circle icons in slightly different shades of red where the Red Line and RR-R connect.

      4. Metro should have used a subarea-based system like it does for regular routes. (1-99 Seattle, 100-199 south end, 200-299 Eastside, 300-399 north end.) Instead it’s lettering them based on the order they open. That’s ridiculous! If I’m looking for a route in the Eastside, I want something that implies “Eastside routes”, not “The second route in the planning schedule.” Visitors don’t care about that. Residents in future decades won’t care about that. What they want to know is which lines are Seattle lines and which are Eastside lines, or whether this one is an Eastside line.

    2. Short answer: Yes. Branding issues of RapidRide I ( or is it 1? Or is it l as in lowercase?) is summarily ignored.

    3. It would make much more sense for RapidRide I to become RapidRide K. Not only would that eliminate the confusion, but most of that proposed route runs in Kent so riders would have an easy way to associate the letter with the city.

      Of course, getting a logical name change in Seattle transit is harder than moving Gibraltar.

    4. Well, there is still time to re-name the I-line the K-Line, which better fits the neighborhood (Kent East Hill).

    5. I suspect that the term “ I-Line” has been copyrighted by Apple already. It has to be “RapidRide I” to avoid that if copyrighting is an issue.

      1. But Washington fruit growers have claim to the Apple name so it could be a trade. Actually it has nothing to do with a cult tech company in Cupertino and everything to do with a letter that is confusing to read and say when used in this application.

  3. Pretty funny this will open a few years AFTER Link already reaches Roosevelt. How much more is there to say about this? Just build the thing…

  4. So the extra 3 year timeline isn’t enough to build the whole thing to Northgate. So we’re going to need a 67 stub route, just like the 11 still needs to exist because they are ending the RapidRide G short of Madison Park. I would have thought you could build more BRT with $1 billion (approx) but I guess not with the Seattle process.

    1. Part of the reason G Line ends short of Madison Park was immense opposition to the line from that neighborhood back in the early planning stages. For the J Line, at ~$10M/mile to install trolley OCS in 2.2 mile gap , that’s another ~$20M just in wire and poles and substations to go from Roosevelt to Northgate plus the cost of stations and everything else. This area is almost entirely single family homes with strong opposition to upzone from the surrounding community so not as many people live here compared to south of 70th. From a ridership and overall investment perspective, this doesn’t make sense.

      That $930M is a near-decade-long levy with about $100M for seven transit corridor projects throughout the city with the rest funding a variety of serious paving & bridge infrastructure ($400+M), and other safety & mobility projects.

      1. They could have saved that and more if they had designed Madison BRT around the existing brand new trolley vehicles. Instead they designed some hypercomplex line requiring weird turning movements and conflicts (more signals) with custom buses with doors on both sides. Its these custom buses that are the lion share of the Madison BRT cost.

      2. Our existing buses don’t have doors on both sides. Without doors on both sides, you can’t have center running buses. Without center running buses, you have buses stuck in traffic. You are basically arguing for watered down “BRT”, which is basically no different than RapidRide. It is like arguing that the light rail should run on the surface everywhere, to save money. Sure, it would save money, but it would be really slow.

      3. I’m curious, why not use floating side platforms for Madison BRT similar to the stations along University Ave in Minneapolis/St. Paul along the Metro Green Line? For a dual-ended, train with doors on both sides, the floating side platforms made no sense. But for buses, I think they would work well. Plus, floating side platforms could be used by non-BRT buses, preventing the mess that is ordering a fleet for Madison BRT.

    2. How do you get 1 billion? It has been a while since I’ve read the financial breakdown on this thing, but I’m pretty sure it won’t cost that much. Anyway, the main problem is that Move Seattle didn’t allocate enough money for all the projects. It would be crazy to spend extra to send this to Northgate, when far more valuable projects lack sufficient funding. The Northgate piece of this was always the weakest. Compared to the rest of the route, there is less in between the two stations, while people close to the stations will just use Link. It wasn’t even clear which way they would go. Looping around is ridiculous (the current route of the 67). Going the other way is other way is better, but you won’t generate that many new trips (for a pathway that doesn’t even have all day bus service right now). Either way you end up spending a lot of money serving a lower demand section, which inevitably waters down the service (or money is taken from other, more worthwhile areas).

      The same thing is true for Madison BRT. Serving Madison Park would be expensive, and have way fewer riders per mile (or riders per hour). In both cases, there will be buses that serve those areas just fine. The 67 doesn’t have to continue on Roosevelt, it can follow the 45, and cut over to The Ave. That way, you avoid the conflict between a regular bus, and one that has off-board payment. The 11, meanwhile, will head towards Link. That way riders from Madison Valley have a quick connection to Link or a bus that will quickly get them to First Hill or the south end of downtown.

      1. Assuming the 67 is kept after the J opens – because there still needs to be local service north of 65th and also service between UW campus and the U district – I think there’s some flexibility on its exact routing. The streets from Roosevelt to 15th are all close enough together that it doesn’t really matter which street a bus takes. The Ave used to handle the 71/72/73 buses, so I imagine it could handle the combined 71/73/45/67 load. And the load would be less if the 45/71/73 terminate at Roosevelt or U District station rather than Husky Stadium.

      2. The 65/67 might continue because Metro seems to like it. It serves overlapping trips between the upper U-District, the hospital, U Village, and Children’s. I can’t imagine Metro truncating it at 65th because that’s just one mile short of the U-District, and it would break trips from e.g., 50th to 80th. It might truncate it at 43th.

      3. @Larry — Yeah, that’s what I’m getting at. We don’t know what the buses will look like in the future. I feel quite confident, though, that Maple Leaf will have bus service on Roosevelt (which is now handled by the 67). I think the 67 should avoid the button-hook, and keep going straight. I just wrote a Page 2 article about that, because Metro is taking suggestions for changes following Northgate Link (

        Regardless, there are very good options for a bus headed down Roosevelt, once it gets to 65th. Sending a bus down the Ave works out quite well. If anything, I struggled a bit trying to send enough buses down there (since you want a bunch of service there). There is a huge amount of demand for service there — ridership per hour on that section will be very high, unless we overload it. If that ever occurs, then some of the buses can be truncated at 65th. Or, if they adopt my suggestion, the 31/32 would be truncated at 45th. (It is a little messier to do that, as layover space is fairly limited north of 45th).

      4. If we are concerned about buses serving campus, why not move more of them to 15th? If getting close to the station is the priority, then they belong on Brooklyn.

        The Ave’s future could be a pedestrian mall.

      5. Aw yes, I forgot that only a little chuck of this levy is for new RR+ transit projects, even though the main selling point (I think?) was that it promised-but-not-really-promised the 7 new RapidRide “plus” corridors that they probably knew full well they could not deliver. Maybe assuming that surely more money will come from somewhere? And most of this levy is maintenance and repairs that they should have been doing for years anyway. Better than nothing I guess.

        My main complaint about scaling back the distance is that it weakens the network. It seems bad that we think of a comprehensive network, then build a bunch of “BRT” lines that go partway through the network and then just stop. Particularly if the network is smart about using Link to access downtown (like the 23rd/Rainer RR *was* until it was killed for just a RapidRide version of the 7, 48 not getting RapidRide, and everyone keeping their slow one seat (not really because standing room only) to downtown). Lost ambition resulting in a network of the past.

        And with Madison BRT, it seems just so arbitrary to just stop it there when the transit corridor continues (even with lower density), and that corridor is the only real corridor to access Madison Park. Seems more doable now with the hybrid electric buses.

      6. If we are concerned about buses serving campus, why not move more of them to 15th? If getting close to the station is the priority, then they belong on Brooklyn.

        Brooklyn can’t be accessed easily from the north. 15th is crap compared to the Ave. The street is wide — an area where cars dominate. I wouldn’t call it a car sewer, but maybe a car toilet that needs a good cleaning. The Ave is the cultural heart of the area. It is where people want to be, and it extends beyond 45th (where the campus ends). Oh, and the Ave is closer to the Link Station.

        If there are too many buses headed to the Ave (if the Ave becomes like Third Avenue) then we can truncate a few at 65th. That would save money and folks would have an easy transfer (since there would be so many buses running along the corridor).

      7. My main complaint about scaling back the distance is that it weakens the network.

        Not really. There are important elements that are not obvious. The specific geography here is unusual. If we had a regular rectangular street grid, then of course it would make sense for this to extend to the end. But we don’t. Madison is a diagonal street. Some of the streets (close to downtown) run perpendicular, but the streets to the east do not. More importantly, Madison Park is a peninsula. If this was a rectangular grid, then there would be a bus line running along the shore. But there isn’t.

        Then, as you mentioned, density drops dramatically. The combination of no crossing bus service and low density means very low ridership to Madison Park. An extension would mean that roughly 40% of the time of this route would be spent serving an area that would be lucky if it got 10% of the ridership. That is not a great value.

        The specific geography also means that Madison Park has other, very good options. As Mike explained, Metro wants to send the 8 there. For those riders, that is arguably better. But it doesn’t cost Metro any more than if they did the opposite. They could end the 8 at 23rd, and end this at Madison Park and it is basically the same. From a geometric standpoint, it is identical. If they both had the same frequency, the cost would be identical. Since Madison BRT will run more often, this saves money on operations. Since building BRT is a lot more expensive than just moving the 8, this saves an enormous amount of capital. Ending where it ends — right when density drops and it can connect to the 48 — makes a lot of sense.

      8. @RossB,

        You do make some good points. One option I liked for Madison BRT actually was an early concept where half of the trips continued to Madison Park, and half took a left along John and went up 19th (like the 12 today). That seems like a good balance, especially since Metro isn’t committing to grade separation on 100% of the route (and part of the fact that Madison Park is so isolated means that, in theory, there is a limited amount of potential traffic east of MLK that could slow the bus down).

        Sending the 8 there to me also seems like a great idea as well, since that makes a very nice east/west grid line (If Metro will actually end up doing it. Last time they tried was the U-Link restructure, and they didn’t do it, and split the MLK corridor route at Mt. Baker instead, for some reason). One problem is that it would require a new route to fill in MLK from Mt. Baker up to Madison street. I think that’s less of an issue though, because (probably an unpopular opinion, but maybe not since it also happens to be in Metro’s LRP) I think this part of the 8 should probably be a low frequency milk run.

      9. @Alex — I will say that there is a significant difference between this and Madison. As I mentioned, the part of Madison east of 23rd (to Madison Park) is just as easily served via the 8 as with Madison BRT. From a network standpoint, it is pretty much the same.

        On the other hand, ending this at 65th is less than ideal. That is because you have three potential bus corridors to the north that converge there: 5th, Roosevelt, and Lake City Way. Serving one of them would be better from a network standpoint, assuming you could maintain reliability. The other two can go to the U-District via the Ave, or truncate at 65th (as mentioned). From a network perspective, 5th makes the most sense. It is the shortest, which means you are likely to maintain the reliability. It also means that a bus route from Northgate to the UW (via 5th) is a bit on the short side. A line to 5th would cost a fair amount, though, from both a capital and maintenance standpoint. Ridership would drop quite a bit north of 65th, and you have to lay a lot more wire. It could always be extended in the future, but I wouldn’t make it a big priority.

    3. The problem with Northgate was the cost. It’s already extended further than its original terminus (43rd), the same way Madison was extended from 23rd to 29th.

      The 11 doesn’t exist in Metro’s 2025 plan. Instead the 8 is extended to Madison Park, creating a crosstown route serving a distinct corridor. The only overlap is between 23rd and 29th, which isn’t that much and serves a common destination (Madison Valley).

    4. The main reason the G won’t go to Madison Park is the iimited budget. SDOT already agreed to stretch it from 23rd to 29th, so it was at least open to extending it to 42nd but it didn’t have enough money. The second reason is that Madison Park refuses to upzone, so a corollary of that is that it won’t get transit upgrades. Magnolia is in the same position: it refuses to upzone, so it’s not getting RapidRide. At the same time, SDOT/Metro could extend it to Madison Park anyway for operational convenience and efficiency; in that case Madison Park would be lucky. But all those were foreclosed by the budget ceiling. If SDOT had the money, Madison Park’s opposition (if it really exists) would be a secondary factor, which could tip the decision either way.

      From a citywide perspective, Madison Valley is where the growing urban village is. Madison Park is a tail, with some mixed-use but a modest amount, and the two highrises on the water are not enough to clinch it (since they are expensive view apartments and have attracted drivers for decades).

      Madison Park also has only one two-lane road out, which is not too trafficky so that wasn’t the reason for not extending it. SDOT said that if it did choose the Madison Park terminus, that segment would not have the RapidRide features, it would just have regular bus stops to a regular terminus. That was another budget limitation.

    5. Another factor is, Metro did not want the G. It wanted to strengthen the 11 and 12 instead, and maybe merge the 12 and 49 into a Broadway-Madison route. It felt that the predominant trip pairs on Madison are not west Madison to east Madison, but west Madison to Capitol Hill and east Madison to Pike-Pine. And as one who lives on the 11’s Pine Street part, I can say that I’d rather have the 11 than an all-Madison G. And if I lived in Madison Valley or Madison Park, I’d want the 11 over the 8 or an all-Madison G. Because Pike-Pine has a wide variety of shops and supermarkets and clubs and a college and the Westlake retail district and Pike Place Market and the centerpoint of transfers to everywhere. Madison Street has limited retail, hospitals and clinics, shops that close at 5pm around the hospitals, the library, office buildings, and nothing else.

      SDOT basically strong-armed Metro into accepting the G route because that was where it was going to make the capital improvements, and Metro didn’t have the money to do the capital improvements itself. The other RapidRide+ lines were also the city’s dictate. Metro simply incorporated them into its long-range plan and worked around them. Although in those cases Metro would probably have done the same. The 62 RapidRide, however, seems to be Metro’s idea.

  5. Yeah, the project started with a lot of promise, but then fizzled out. This became a lot more about a bike path, than a bus route. For good reason, in my opinion. This is a major bike route. It is pretty much the only way around that side of the lake. Ultimately, it came down to bikes versus buses, and on this path, the bikes one. I think I would have made the same choice.

    That being said, I do think this will be a good bus route, when it is done. The chart from the previous blog post comparing trip times seems pessimistic. For example, it has 26 minutes for a trip from Campus Parkway to South Lake Union. At noon, Google puts that trip (on the bus) at 20 minutes, and that includes the detour (of the Fairview bridge). It isn’t clear how much wait time was added, even though you assumed six minute frequency. Maybe you assumed the worst. Either way, off-board payment alone will shave a couple minutes off that. Bus lanes downtown should also help.

    If that trip is two or three minutes faster, then it changes the dynamic of a lot of trips. I think a lot of the trips that you have listed as “Bus/Link/Bus” become bus only. That is a good example of how little things can help. There are also a lot of trips that didn’t make the chart which are clearly bus-only trips (Campus Parkway to Ravenna), and they do generate ridership.

    Maybe you were focused on peak trips. In that case, the times make more sense (given the lack of right-of-way). The thing is, that is ideal. Having a bus route that is the faster choice in the middle of the day means more service when adding frequency adds the most value and when it is most affordable.

    1. Yes, that chart pre-dates the latest designs, which have bus priority through Mercer.

  6. Is there a significant difference in carbon emissions between the new RapidRide trollies and the hybrid(?) Madison special-order buses?

    1. Dunno about CO2 emissions specifically, but an underappreciated benefit of trolley vs diesel-electric hybrid is noise reduction.

    2. Yes, there is obviously a difference in carbon emissions since hybrid buses burn diesel, while trolley buses burn 0 diesel. Local electricity is >98% carbon neutral.

      1. Alaska Airlines: Portland, Seattle
        Amtrak Cascades: Portland, Seattle
        Interstate 5: Portland, Seattle

        Alright, let’s tear out I-5 and Amtrak, dude.

      2. It serves a different part of the U-District, and a different part of downtown. In between, it is completely different. Between Roosevelt and Westlake, Link will have 5 stops (inclusive). Between Roosevelt and Westlake, the bus will have 14 stops. All the stops in between (12 on the bus, 3 on Link) will be different, and most will be very different. The bus will serve Eastlake as well as South Lake Union. Using your logic, Ballard Link is completely redundant, since both Link and Ballard Link will go from north of the ship canal to downtown.

      3. “Link: Downtown, UW, Roosevelt. J Line: Downtown, UW, Roosevelt.”

        No. It’s.

        Link: Downtown, UW, Roosevelt, Northgate, Lynnwood, Everett, Blaine, Juneau.
        J Line: Downtown, UW, Roosevelt.

    1. “Legitimate” BRT doesn’t exist in many US cities. One has to visit places like Lima, Bogota and etc to experience their real malignant nature. I find the denser the urban core they exist in the worse the user experience. These Seattle wanna be BRTs are fine for what they’re need for, even though they will be heavily subsidized rider/mile systems.

      1. >even though they will be heavily subsidized rider/mile systems

        Is this a joke? This corridor is pretty urban in character throughout, and has all day demand. I would guess it will have one of the lowest costs per boarding of any route in the city.

      2. How long is the route? The shorter the line the greater the inefficiency; ridership becomes mute if buses are constantly having to turn around. Out of service implies lost wages and fuel.

      3. PS. “Urban corridor” is a relative term. Most places where BRT does exist have actual “urban corridors”. Roosevelt would be consider a llama trail for these places.

      4. “How long is the route?”

        The other end is Westlake Station. So it’s about as long as the 49.

      5. >Most places where BRT does exist have actual “urban corridors”. Roosevelt would be consider a llama trail for these places.

        Hence why I qualified “in the city.” This isn’t BRT, by the way.

      6. “This isn’t BRT, by the way.” For many in this blog it is btw. Please read my initial post.

      7. “The other end is Westlake Station. So it’s about as long as the 49”
        This one might not be so bad. That Madison stub is going to be expensive to operate, mark my words.

      8. How long is the route?

        Six miles (plenty long enough).

        The shorter the line the greater the inefficiency; ridership becomes mute [sic] if buses are constantly having to turn around. Out of service implies lost wages and fuel.

        These buses won’t be “constantly turning around”. It is long enough that they will likely need to do a layover on each end.

      9. PS. “Urban corridor” is a relative term. Most places where BRT does exist have actual “urban corridors”. Roosevelt would be consider a llama trail for these places.

        Right, and most places that have subways have way more density than we have. So you are basically saying we should stop building Link?

      10. “So you are basically saying we should stop building Link?”

        Not sure where you got this off the all comment from.

      11. “These buses won’t be “constantly turning around”. It is long enough that they will likely need to do a layover on each end.”

        Oh, so in addition to the compounded cluster-ef of buses downtown we get to subsidize the wasted layovers. Kudos!

    2. How can you take Link from 50th Street to 65th Street? Or 55th Street to Eastlake or SLU? Roosevelt/11th has become a major urban corridor with many overlapping trips like these, and is the center of the upzoned U-District area. Link has limited stops so it can get to Lynnwood and Everett in a reasonable time, or for Roosevelt-Rainier or Roosevelt-SeaTac trips. Roosevelt needs another route for trips that don’t correspond to this.

    3. Metro initially used the term BRT for the original RapidRide A-F project. It abandoned the term years ago after widespread criticism that it’s not even minimal BRT. What it is is an enhanced local route, the kind that all our core corridors should be, and in Europe would be.

  7. This is a huge nothingburger for Roosevelt and the U District. I guess electrification, pay-before-boarding, and an 11th ave PBL are nice, but that’s it.

    Roosevelt Way gets really clogged between 45th and 50th in the afternoon, and there’s no bus priority of any kind. All the businesses there have their own parking lots, so why not remove some street parking, at least between 45th and 47th (preferably 50th), to turn the parking lane into a GP lane and the right-most lane into a bus lane so the J/67 can be faster than walking?

    1. I’m guessing that they don’t want to widen the street. Doing so would require getting rid of the curb extensions, like this one: (I’m not sure if that is the right name for that, but you get the idea). Anyway, that costs money, and makes it harder to cross the street. Doing that would pretty much solve the problem, though. You wouldn’t even have to take all-day parking. Allow parking in that left lane, but not during rush hour. That would mean one general purpose lane most of the day, but two during rush hour (what they have now).

      The simpler and cheaper alternative is to just take a general purpose lane. That would mean one general purpose lane each direction. Unfortunately, the city isn’t willing to do that (pretty much anywhere, really).

      1. Yeah, the curb bulbs are in the way, but installing a bus lane in the 45-47 block just south of the curb bulb could work. Just remove the street parking in that block. This wouldn’t fix the backup at 47th, where it’s normal for the bus to sit through 2-3 light cycles without moving, but it’s still an improvement.

        North of 47th the street would be:
        PBL – GP – GP – parking
        For the first 10 feet or so south of 47th the street is:
        PBL – GP – GP – curb bulb
        South of the 47th curb bulb the street would be:
        PBL – bus – GP – GP/left

        This would require all cars to move one lane to the left shortly after crossing 47th, a maneuver sort of like this one:

        It would be a little awkward, but cheap. All you need is paint.

      2. Good point. I could see that. Just playing devil’s advocate here, but I could see a potential problem. It means you don’t have a left turn pocket lane for the turn to 45th. That means that general purpose traffic is even worse. That could extend even further north, which means that the bus is worse off. I doubt that would happen, but it would have to be studied.

        In any event, that seems like a very simple, very cheap fix. Again, the beauty of it is that you retain parking (if you want to) for most of the day. That seems like a simple change — the type they make for regular bus routes, and one that could be made later. But there is no reason to wait. I think you (and others) should suggest it, since it is highly likely it would be better for the buses, while drivers would hardly notice (and business retain parking most of the day).

    2. Seamless travel between Roosevelt, Eastlake, and SLU is not to be sneezed at. I used to live on 55th and would have taken it if it existed. The bus bulbs on Roosevelt were built knowing that RapidRide would be coming.

  8. The Move Seattle levy committee was told last week that SDOT may sign a contract for Madison and Roosevelt RapidRide *before* the FTA grant actually gets approved. We’re still waiting on sizable grants for both but apparently moving forward.

    1. Sign a contract with who?

      Is SDOT directly hiring a construction contractor? Or is SDOT signing an agreement with King County Metro for it’s portion of the budget?

  9. Streetcars in general? Every tool to its use. The purpose of the line that’ll result from using “Center City Connector” to connect the South Lake Union line and the First Hill line will be to provide a leisurely tour of the three parts of the city that’ll be most attractive to visitors.

    Think of it as a window-shopping stroll equipped with seats instead of sidewalk-benches. Car speed and smoothness? That’s what exclusive lanes and signal preempts are for. Which there’s no reason at all why buses shouldn’t share.

    Perfect front-page picture for Seattle’s every visitors’ brochure. World-wide bet all our competitors either have such a line or will feel pressure to get one when we do. Mode-feuds are for losers.

    Incidentally, we still have a couple of the Benson line, don’t we? No reason San Francisco and Portland should ace us out on museum service. Because when we fix the mistake of removing the Waterfront streetcars, same substation, communications, and maintenance could share that line too.

    Mark Dublin

  10. A: federal wAy, seAtAc, tukwliA
    B: Bellevue
    C: west C-attle (not “west cattle”)
    D: ballarD
    E: aurorE, Eurora
    F: F*ing renton, Frenton, buriFen
    G: maGison
    H: delriHdge
    I: kInt, rInton, aubIrn
    J: Joosevelt

    1. LOL

      Though the F line would be “why the F does a RapidRide take so long to get from Renton to Tukwila Intl Blvd?”

    2. That’s really funny. It reminds me of the mnemonic I use for the farmer’s markets in the north end. Phinney Friday, Wallingford Wednesday and Lake Thitty Thursday.

    1. The 44 itself is trolley, so I assume so? Haven’t heard much about that project.

      If they route it down to Children’s along the 45th st viaduct they’ll need to hang wire east of 15th, though.

      1. Yeah, I was addressing this passage from the post:

        > Full electrification is still planned, meaning that, unless I’ve forgotten something, the only two electric RapidRide lines, Rainier and Roosevelt, will both open in 2024.

    2. The 44 is no longer on the RapidRide timeline, it’s been downgraded to “Transit Plus Multimodal Corridor”

      1. LOL what a joke. I don’t know what “Transit+” is but it’s a watered down version of RR then every single route in the city should be Transit+.

      2. It was going to be “RapidRide+” (as in, better than RapidRide), with Madison BRT being a prime example (they have a lot riding on Madison BRT because it’s the *only* line that’s as good as it is).

        Now it’s becoming RapidRide-, with 44 and 48 not getting RapidRide anymore. And the RapidRide brand doesn’t really have much meaning since both kinda good BRT (RR G) and a slow coverage route just now with offboard payment (RR F) are both called “RapidRide.”

      3. “The 44 is no longer on the RapidRide timeline, it’s been downgraded to “Transit Plus Multimodal Corridor””

        Which I read as that SDOT/Metro really have no solutions to the mess that is NE 45th St. I lived for over a decade in Wallingford (carless) and traversed this corridor via the 44 hundreds of times. The rider experience seems to have only worsened since my transit-riding days, despite the increased frequency on the route.

        Has the city ever considered making one-way couplets for GP traffic flow out of 45th and 50th west of I-5? Parking could be retained on one side of 45th then (satisfying merchants’ concerns) and eliminated on 50th where the merchant argument doesn’t exist. This is assuming incorporating the contraflow bus lane idea that others have suggested (e.g. RossB) for the downtown core. I really don’t know if this is even feasible given the total traffic peak hours’ ADV but I was just wondering if the city has ever explored this as a possible solution.

        Fwiw….I don’t think it’s helpful at all to even bring up the term BRT when discussing Metro’s RR program. Doing so just inevitably ends up regurgitating old conversations about the meaning of BRT.

      4. “Which I read as that SDOT/Metro really have no solutions to the mess that is NE 45th St.”

        It doesn’t look promising. We’re missing a city transit champion who could set a world-class vision and get it through. Rob Johnson was the closest we had. And while he wanted the right things, he never proposed a network better than the existing plans, never identified the money to implement it, and was beaten down by NIMBYs so much that he eventually compromised on the planned projects in his district. I still respect him highly. But it shows that Seattle will need much more if we’re ever going to reach the industrialized-world average in transit.

      5. “Looks like it’ll possibly include sections of bus lane (good luck getting those on 45th) and TSP, but not off-board payment, bus stop upgrades, or any improvements to frequency/ span.”

        The 44 and 48 are already as frequent as RapidRide would be. They got their frequency early. As did the 45, 62, 65, 67 in the U-Link restructure. Essentially, Metro and Prop 1 did the easy incremental part. SDOT dropped the ball on the capital-intensive part. (A combination of mediocre execution, wobbly values, and unrealistic budgets.) At least it’s focusing on the most important part, which is the street improvements. Off-board payment is overrated, especially at stops where only one or two people get on most of the day.

      6. “At least it’s focusing on the most important part, which is the street improvements.”

        The meaning got lost in the editing. Fully implementing the most important part would be transit lanes. (Within reason. I never expected them on the west side of Phinney Ridge where the right of way narrows to three lanes. Westbound cars are supposed to go… where? Down to 35th or up to 73rd?) Instead SDOT is partly implementing it. That may be better than nothing depending on what emerges. Queue jumps would be something. Bike lanes would at least be “multimodal”. And I trust bus congestion won’t get worse, even if it doesn’t get much better.

  11. It’s interesting that they chose to stick with trolley service, because there will still need to be a version of the 70. There are hundreds of apartments along Eastlake rented by UW students, and they’re going to be seriously offended is no service to 15th NE is provided. It’s nearly a half mile, including crossing 11th and Roosevelt for folks to head south from campus.

    I agree that the huge increase in apartments between 45th and 65th in the corridor needs direct downtown service, but there will be problems if both the BRT and the local service are overhead contact. The BRT’s will not be able to pass the local buses unless “sidings” are included for the local stops.

    Also, there is too long a gap between 50th and Ravenna without a station.

    1. No reason I can see that a trolleybus needing to pass another can’t just drop poles and pass on battery. Necessitating a few sets of “wiring pans” along the line, but these have no moving parts. Not your grand-dad’s trolleybus.

      Mark Dublin

    2. Yeah, it is a half mile between 50th and Ravenna. That seems a bit excessive for a line like this, especially since the gap is towards the end. It isn’t horrible, but seems excessive.

      I doubt they will also run the 70. Folks will just walk (5 to 6 minutes, depending on direction) or transfer. Considering the large size of the campus I think people will just walk. Yeah, it is a lot of walking, but students walk a lot on campus as well. It is telling that Metro — in their long range plan — doesn’t plan on having the 70.

      1. The J-line looks like a good line. But, I do question the decision to use Fairview through South Lake Union, and not Westlake. I totally understand why they’re doing it – that’s where the trolley wire is, and SDOT doesn’t want to pay to move it.

        But, from a rider perspective, routing the bus down Westlake, following the path of the C-line is probably better. Westlake follows the center of SLU and has a bigger walkshed than Fairview, which is somewhat constrained by I-5. Westlake gets you that much closer to Seattle Center than Fairview.

        And, long-term, of course, Westlake will have a Link Station, while Fairview won’t. Some people will be making a J-line->Link transfer to get from Eastlake to Expedia or Ballard. The transfer will be much more direct if they can do it at Denny, and not have to slog it out all the way to 3rd and Pine on a bus.

      2. the spring 2016 Metro Connects, service network appendix A, has Route 1071, described as U District to Mt. Baker via downtown Seattle. that would be Route 70 and Route 7 turnback through routed and a great use of coaches, trolley overhead, CBD capacity, and layover. to maximize ridership the transfer walks between frequent bus routes and Link should be a short as possible.

      3. In 2016, ST3 hadn’t passed yet, so they had to conservatively assume no Link station at Westlake and Denny. When there is one, people from Eastlake need to be able to connect with Link there. An extra mile on the bus with stoplights in the wrong direction, just to turn around and go the other way on a train is not good design. As I said, savvy passengers will probably just get off at Fairview and Denny and walk, even if the trip planner says otherwise.

      4. Yes, it’s not that far, but it requires crossing two arterials (three if you count 15th which has to be crossed to go south anyway) unless one uses the underpass on Campus Parkway and doubles back north.

        I guess if Metro is planning to axe the 70, it agrees with you.

      5. Eddie, maybe not. It might be the 49 and 7 through routed which used to be the default and still happens in the evening and at night. Ross says there is not to be a “local shadow” along Eastlake. Though we disagree on a lot about Link, I generally believe it when he says something about Metro.

      6. It’s inertia probably. There has been an Eastlake-Fairview route for decades (the 74 and then the 70), and Fairview is now more built up than the parallel part of Eastlake (between Galer and Denny). They probably just didn’t think of running it on Westlake, which is where the Fremont routes traditionally were. The Link SLU routing was a late change in early 2016; before that it was going to go through Belltown to Seattle Center West. By that time RapidRide J planning was already underway and Fairview was chosen. It’s also more direct as it’s Fairview to Fairview. If the streetcar had been extended to the U-District, then it would have used the Westlake-Valley-Fairview alignment it was already pointing to. So maybe that’s something we lost when Murray decided to switch from McGinn’s streetcar expansions to RapidRide instead.

      7. The 49 is going away. Metro wants to replace it with a north-south route (49/60, serving 12th south of Denny which has no transit now). The only reason it’s holding on is U-District Station isn’t open yet and the gap between UW Station and the U-District is so problematic it’s unreasonable to expect all those people to use Link or transfer to the north-south route on Broadway. The 7 is expected to become RapidRide, so if it’s through-routed with anything it wold be the J or 40 or something like that. East-west and north-south service on Broadway will be severed, with the 2 running on Pine-12th-Union to replace the 11 and 49. There have long been calls for a Rainier-Boren route, and Metro answers this with a kind of 106 (Rainier Beach Safeway – MLK – Boren – SLU). All this is uncertain of course, but it may be a hard sell to keep the 49. Even though I’m concerned about that severing on Broadway.

    1. Based on the comment thread thus far I don’t think that is an unpopular opinion at all.

  12. consider the Tom comment. SDOT is attempting to brand and make very frequent the former Route 66X. Instead, we should be branding Route 70. The SDOT alignment is 800 feet from the Brooklyn Link station and further from the Ave or UW. Route 70 directly serves all three. A network with a Route 66X alignment requires more capital and more service hours and would attract fewer riders than a network with a Route 70 RR. Other routes may connect the Northgate, Roosevelt, and NE Campus Parkway with SLU via the I-5 reversible lanes until Ballard Link opens in 203X. good connectivity with very short transfer walks is a key tactic to maximizing ridership. Riders are complained about the longer transfers imposed by recent network choices (e.g., Mt. Baker, SeaTac, UW, Mercer Island). let’s do better. Feed Link!

    1. I think the rationale is that Eastlake transitions very well to Roosevelt, so through-routing directly will save through-riders lots of time, many service hours, and it already connects quite well at Roosevelt station. Seems great if it has excellent BRT speeds, otherwise the direct routing has diminishing returns.

      1. That’s exactly it. This creates more of a grid.

        To be clear, there are really three different choices. One is to follow the 70 route. Another is to follow that route, but keep going to 65th. The third is the proposed routing.

        The 70 route means that lots of people have two (and in some cases three) seat rides, just to do down the same street a few blocks. Eastlake to 65th and Roosevelt, for example, will be much easier.

        Detouring to the Ave and back is reasonable, but there are trade-offs. Through riders (e. g. 55th and Roosevelt to Eastlake) spend more time on the bus. The bus takes longer to complete its journey. That is reminiscent of Brent’s recent post about the F, detouring to serve Link ( While some riders would prefer, there is a cost in terms of service that ultimately results in less frequency.

        In terms of connectivity, this new routing is actually better. It is faster to get to Eastlake from a number of places: Wallingford and Ballard via the 44; Greenwood and Green Lake via the 45; the 65th corridor via 62.

        There are three transit corridors coming from the north, and this will serve two of them better. Lake City Way, Roosevelt, and 5th will have buses that either go to the U-District via the Ave, or truncate at Roosevelt Station. If this went to the Ave, then one of those would run on Roosevelt (the 67 does that today). For that route, this would be a wash. But for the other two, this will make the connection to Eastlake faster.

        For Link, this is just as good. If you are heading to Roosevelt Station, you are better off with a direct route. If you are going north of there (Northgate) then this is just as fast. (I can explain why, if someone wants). It is only southbound places that are worse. Except it doesn’t make sense to take this all the way up to the U-District, then take Link south to Capitol Hill. You would just transfer to the 49 (or transfer downtown). Likewise, this is identical for serving Westlake and places to the south. So basically it is only the station by the stadium is better.

        The same is true for transfers to buses. The only transfer advantage is for people headed to the south end of the UW, or trying to catch the 48. They will have to walk a few blocks.

        It is a trade-off, but a reasonable one. It would have been ridiculous fifty, even twenty years ago. A grid would have very few riders. A multiple hub system (with the UW as one hub) made a lot more sense. But if you’ve been on Roosevelt lately, you can see that there are lots and lots of new apartments in an area that was fairly densely populated to begin with. Other areas (Greenwood, Lake City, Wallingford) have also grown considerably. From a larger network standpoint, asking some riders to walk a few blocks, but speeding up bus service for many others is a good approach.

      2. The J could have detoured to Brooklyn fort the Link station, and under the first proposal that would have been the terminus. I’m kind of surprised it didn’t detour because of the importance of the Link station. TIB is in the middle of nowhere in an industrial area and was always going to have depressed ridership. Brooklyn is two blocks from the freaking UW and the ridership-around-the-clock U-District, and if you have to wait there a few minutes it’s actually pleasant and there are places you can go or do errands.

        There was always a tradeoff between going straight on boring Roosevelt or detouring to Brooklyn, with advantages both ways. That’s what depressed the 66’s ridership: it didn’t come as close as the 71/72/73X, and there weren’t that many riders on Roosevelt. But now Roosevelt has gained medical clinics and mixed-use apartments, and the recent upzone promises significantly more. Roosevelt will be the center of the larger village. Hopefully it will gain interesting and useful destinations that people will want to go to rather than cursing the walk to the Ave. That’s Roosevelt’s challenge for the next quarter-century.

    1. Back before Link opened, if I really wanted a quick ride from my home in the u district to downtown, and had a flexible schedule, I would go for the 66 – even though I was coming from the east, and would have to walk right by a 71/72/73 bus stop to get to it.

      The reason was that it got through the u district quickly with minimal stops, and didn’t stop all that much in Eastlake either. Plus, I knew with the 66, I could always get a seat.

      However, most of the attractiveness of the 66 was a direct consequence of the route’s low ridership. If too many people ride, it would stop too much, and no longer be worth the longer walk and 30 minute frequency. When UW station opened, I switched to Link, and never really missed the 66.

      However, that was because I lived in the u district itself – not further north – and was not interested in going to Eastlake – only downtown. The J line is still going to be a very useful route. I’m not concerned about the extra two blocks walking for those coming from campus.

    2. The Route 70 option, or RossB option one, is the best network choice. Primarily, because so many riders want to reach the Brooklyn Link station, the UW campus, and the Ave. consider those many person minutes. More than want to reach the other corridors mentioned. The connections within the Route 70 network are not much worse, if at all. There is a short transfer walk between routes 70 and both routes 44 and 45; routes 44 and 70 may have a common stop transfer on NE 43rd Street and Route 45 serves the Ave. those oriented to the NE 65th Street are worse off, but they are the smallest group and have Link. the capital and service hours necessary to brand Route 66X north to NE 65th Street have opportunity cost; they could be used elsewhere in the network. Feed Link! provide short walks for Link-bus transfers. The Ave will have many new apartments as well. Roosevelt will always tend to bog down with traffic in the afternoons, when the I-5 general purpose lanes are jammed; alternatively, transit will flow better on the Ave.

  13. Shouldnt this really be called Roosevelt-Eastlake protected cycle track? Almost all the infrastructure being planned and built for this is actually bike infrastructure yet is using the political capital of RapidRide to get this built.

    1. Yeah our voter-approved funding is often sold as a transit project — but transit speeds get later compromised to appease bicyclists during the design. FHSC is an obvious example.

      Another set of projects is often to go back and prioritize transit after complaints roll in about new congestion resulting from taking lanes for protected bicycle facilities.

      SDOT has a “transit second” culture — after bicycles. It pervades the management. Never mind that’s lower transit speeds cost every taxpayer money because we pay our driver the same salary no matter the speed on the bus. Every time SDOT makes it harder for buses to move at a given speed because of some new bicycle project (any impacted street that carry buses is affected), it introduces additional operational costs every day to every taxpayer — bus rider or not.

      1. Al S: examples are the two-way cycle tracks on Broadway and 2nd Avenue and the lane reductions on the west ends of Pine and Pike streets.

    2. I think bicycle interests hijacked what was originally a transit program (RapidRide+). And Eastlake is a narrow street with no alternatives around it, and a primary bicycle corridor between downtown and the U-District, and dangerous because it’s so narrow (or so bicyclists say; I didn’t have problems biking on it in the 90s and early 00s), and the nearest alternative bike route on Fairview is down a steep hill and incomplete and goes through slow alleys. So I can see that bicyclists have a stronger case there than elsewhere. At the same time we need transit-priority lanes in order to compete with cars like cities with robust transit do. So Eastlake is a dilemma. But the failure to put transit-priority lanes on Eastlake betrays the promise of Move Seattle and is one more in a string of broken transit promises (like RapidRide A-F). As for Roosevelt/11th, the lack of transit lanes there is because SDOT thought it “wasn’t necessary”. Ayayay! Why did we vote for Move Seattle then? We wanted to get bus routes like Paris and other cities have, that really move people and are people’s first choice for mobility. Will we ever reach that?

      1. Will we ever reach that?

        If this was not meant to be rhetorical, the answer would be, “Of course not.” Seattle is “Liberal” only in that it values multi-culturalism and sexual freedom, opposes abortion restrictions, and is widely Agnostic.

        So far as “If you’re asking me to make a real sacrifice for future generations and the other living things on the planet”, the answer is “I’ll do it when those Republicans do.” [e.g. An Inconvenient Excuse].

      2. Twenty years is another generation; the politicians and residents may think differently then.

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