RapidRide R concept via Metro

Metro has a new online open house up for Ranier Avenue RapidRide, now known as RapidRide R. The standard RapidRide treatment of off-board payment, new bus shelters and stop consolidation are being proposed. Additionally, the new route would extend the trolley wire to terminate the line at Rainier Beach Link Station, an improvement we suggested in 2014.

You can also view feedback from the last open house, which we wrote about here.

Note that this is an open house for Rainier RapidRide, which opens in 2024. In the interim, SDOT is paving the way (literally) with a Vision Zero and a bus corridor improvement project, which will wrap up in 2022.

Several stops would be consolidated, meaning an average of 3.3 stops per mile instead of just over 4 today, if my napkin math is right. That’s still well below the 1-2 stops per mile of the fastest BRT systems, but appropriate given the ridership characteristics of the 7 today.

Metro is also showing some updated shelter design concepts and wants to hear feedback on those as well:

The online open house runs through March 10. In person meetings will be happening across the Rainier Valley over the next couple of weeks:

Thursday, February 27, 6-8 p.m.
Hillman City Collaboratory
5623 Rainier Avenue S.,
Seattle, WA 98118

Tuesday, March 3, 6-8 p.m.
Dunlap Elementary School
4525 S. Cloverdale Street,
Seattle, WA 98118

Thursday, March 5, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Hirabayashi Place
442 S. Main Street,
Seattle, WA 98104

80 Replies to “Metro seeks feedback for RapidRide R, to replace Route 7”

  1. Putting wire to Rainier Beach Station long overdue. Just please don’t take down the wire up to Prentice Street. As a reward for picking trolleys, drivers have the right to one of the most beautiful stretches of route in the system.

    The Route 107 DSTT route of, say, 1990 also included a stretch along the lake between Rainier Beach and Renton- good if somebody could at least put that part of it back. Also another night-shift discovery: How fast Rainier Avenue can really be run if you get cars out of its way.

    Rapid Ride will be a complementary service with MLK Link that’ll more than pay for itself. Good going.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Yes on the speed. One night I couldn’t sleep and took a walk around north Capitol Hill and ended up at St Mark’s Cathedral shortly before the first bus at 5am. I learned three things.

      1) There were two dozen other people waiting. St Mark’s is apparently a homeless shelter at night. That explained why I’d kept seeing such large crowds at 4th & Pike getting on the 49 at 8:30pm and 9:30pm like it was rush hour.

      2) I decided to stay on it as it turned into the 7 and see how early-morning Rainier Valley is doing. The bus went amazingly fast, not much more than half an hour from St Mark’s to Henderson Street.

      3) The other passengers trickled out along 3rd Avenue and Jackson Street. A couple people got on downtown and along Jackson. Then there were no on/offs at all between Jackson and Mt Baker Station. Then a smaller number, three or four, trickled out between Mt Baker and Henderson Street.

    1. Why? This is pretty standard stop spacing the world over. It is only when U. S. cities get weird — with stops every block, or stops every mile — that you have big problems.

      1. This is why … “Several stops would be consolidated, meaning an average of 3.3 stops per mile instead of just over 4 today, if my napkin math is right. That’s still well below the 1-2 stops per mile of the fastest BRT systems.” Stop coddling RV residents!

      2. It’s not RV residents, it’s all over Metro. Metro’s standard now is 0.25-0.5 mile, with 0.25-0.33 more likely on regular routes and 0.5 on RapidRide. The E has mostly 0.5 mile spacing — every 10 blocks — but in Shoreline and 73rd-105th it got talked into 0.5 mile — 5 blocks. Shoreline asked for that because it promised urban villages at every station. Seattle got it because… people insisted. So it stops at 76th, 85th, 90th, 95th, 100th, 105th. It would have made more sense to stop at 76th, 85th, 95-100th (for Oak Tree and the bit at 95th and 97th), and 105th (for Northgate Way and the 40). Rainier will probably be similar. I looked at the stop proposals but I don’t know which ones would be best so I’m not sure if I’ll sbumit anything about that. I just wish the spacing would be close to 0,5 mile except for arterials/transfers/plazas that may justify a couple more.

      3. The “fastest BRT systems” have parallel local-stop alternatives. The 7 has a parallel express alternative over on MLK. Different network functions, different goals, different results.

      4. Some articles about stop spacing: https://humantransit.org/2010/11/san-francisco-a-rational-stop-spacing-plan.html, https://pedestrianobservations.com/2018/10/30/sometimes-bus-stop-consolidation-is-inappropriate/, https://pedestrianobservations.com/2019/04/21/stop-spacing-and-route-spacing/.

        It gets complicated, and there are various factors involved, but the general range is 280 to 580 meters. 3.3 stops per mile (or a stop distance of 1/3 of a mile) works out 531 meters, which is on the high side. There may be a stop or two that can be consolidated, but in general, this is about right.

      5. “The 7 has a parallel express alternative over on MLK.”

        That gets wide around Othello.

        It is pretty wide for most of the trip. This strengthens the case for more stops, not fewer. So does the very wide stop spacing of Link. If you read Walker’s post, you can see the little diamonds that represent typical walk radius. If you have parallel roads on either side, then you can have similar diamonds on them, and then offset the stops, so that you have no overlap, and full coverage. But Link is pretty far away most of the time, and doesn’t have that many stops. Furthermore, there is nothing on the other side of Rainier Avenue (the 50 is too far away). Thus you have lots of riders whose only reasonable option is the 7, which suggests closer stop spacing. This is different than, say, Roosevelt Avenue and The Ave through the U-District. You could make the stop distances pretty wide on those routes, as long as they are offset. (In general we don’t have many corridors like that, as we can’t justify putting the routes so close together in most neighborhoods).

        Getting back to Al’s point, the folks that would be delayed the most from all of those stops (Rainier Beach to downtown) could take the bus the other direction and transfer to Link. Likewise, if you are headed to the north end of downtown (and certainly the UW) — you could be better off getting off at Judkins Park. Again, this suggests erring on the side of shorter stop spacing, since most of the trips will be relatively short.

      6. To be clear, I meant wide as in the east-west distance between Rainier and Othello. That’s a separate issue from how wide the north-south stops along Rainier are. Rainier and MLK meet at Mt Baker Station, are three blocks apart at Columbia City Station, and are a half mile apart at Othello Station. Henderson Street is even wider but there the bus will turn for a one-seat ride.

        The point is, Link is too far away to be the express overlay for the 7 in a significant portion of Rainier. Link helps Rainier Valley in general but not lower Rainier Avenue in particular. And that’s where a lot of the valley’s commercial/multifamily density is and is growing.

        So the lower 7 has a long trip to downtown if you can’t walk/bus to Link, but a lot of the 7’s ridership is from one part of the valley to another, so downtown is irrelevant to them. Ideally we would run the 9 all day, but it’s hard to justify two limited-stop services in the valley so close together. So MLK gets good access to downtown, and Rainier gets good access between many of the commercial destinations in the valley, and people can choose which one they want to live near.

      7. east-west distance between Rainier and Othello MLK

        I’ve been making more mistakes this week; I need to proofread more.

      8. @Mike — I knew what you meant. It can take a while to walk from MLK to Rainier. But the stop spacing on Link matters. Imagine if Link was like the New York Subway, or better yet, the Paris Metro. This means that it stops (on average) every 600 meters. So maybe it stops at Kenyon (750 meters from the nearest stop). Making a trip like this (https://goo.gl/maps/qiCPGq6r2WdAmmdU9) would be common. But instead you have to do this (https://goo.gl/maps/aiKcyqaJTshVJ8LA9) which basically means it won’t happen. Instead they will want to do this (https://goo.gl/maps/VeSGA7bBJ7zXmcVo8), since it is the only frequent transit option available within a reasonable walking distance.

        But if the 7 skips that stop (assuming everyone will take Link) then that rider is more or less hosed.

        So not only is the distance between the corridors often too wide, but the Link stop spacing makes it harder to balance the stops. It is better to err on the side of too many stops on this new RapidRide, because lots of people don’t have any other reasonable alternative.

      9. Using your own example of getting downtown from Kenyon/46th, if you care about travel time, you want Link. Instead of thinking of walking distance in terms of thresholds, what matters is the relative difference. Link is 14 minutes walk, the #7 is 6 minutes, walk a difference of 8 minutes. Since Link will save well over 8 minutes in ride time, runs with the same frequency as the 7, and has much better reliability, Link (absent Connect 2020 service disruptions) easily wins.

        Even if Link had closer stop spacing to include a stop at Kenyon, I’m not sure it would help that much. By the time you added in the dwell times for all those other stops to maintain that level of stop spacing the entire line, the added ride time would simply replace the shorter walk, and you wouldn’t actually get downtown any faster than just walking to Othello Station with the Link we have today. Plus, the 106 bus already provides local-stop service down MLK, so allowing Link to be the express overlay is reasonable.

        In the case of the RapidRide #7, I think it is still an important route, as there are many trips where using Link as an alternative just doesn’t work. There are some spots on Rainier a full mile from the nearest Link Station, and for traveling along Rainier, having to walk a mile, ride Link one stop, then walk another mile to the destination, is not reasonable. I think the standard 1/4 mile stop spacing for the #7 is a reasonable goal. More frequent stops than that, I think just slow things down. There is no advantage of saving someone two minutes in walking to the bus if the bus isn’t going to show up for another 5 minutes, anyway.

      10. “I knew what you meant”

        I mainly meant it for others who might have not.

        “It is pretty wide for most of the trip. This strengthens the case for more stops, not fewer. So does the very wide stop spacing of Link. If you read Walker’s post, you can see the little diamonds that represent typical walk radius. If you have parallel roads on either side, then you can have similar diamonds on them, and then offset the stops, so that you have no overlap, and full coverage. But Link is pretty far away most of the time, and doesn’t have that many stops.”

        If you talk about Link’s spacing then you’re adding a third factor. Rainier spacing, east-west spacing, and Link spacing.

        Again, Metro’s standard is now 0.25-0.5 mile. The previous standard when the 7 was set up was closer than that, and Jarrett calls it excessively close. This stop consolidation is about consolidating those, not about making the 7 ultra-wide. I would like it slightly wider than 0.25 mile, and that may be what Christopher Cramer meant. But 0.25 is at least better than some routes that stop every two blocks. So those are Jarrett’s diamonds on a local bus route.

        For Link, Jarrett’s diamonds are an abstract ideal, and don’t take into account what’s around the neighborhood. That affects trip patterns and trip distance. More stops means a longer travel time, and that can get significant. Also, there are different levels of density along a street; some places have a wider variety of uses and attract more people, especially non-residents coming into the neighborhood thus creating two-way demand, while others don’t. Adding stops makes Link better for some trips but worse for others. Having as many stops as a local bus route makes it not much faster than a bus, so it just duplicates the existing service. Having limited stops (0.5-1.0 mile) makes it faster than a regular bus, so more competitive with driving, which doesn’t have those stops. Part of the reason people drive so much is it takes so long to get somewhere on transit. So you need this higher level of transit to get maximum mode share. You need the lower level too. One reason transit is mediocre is we keep compromising with one in-between level or one slow level rather than recognizing we need two levels.

        The gap between Columbia City and Othello is wider than even a 1.0 mile standard, so that’s not a failure of the principle, it’s a specific failure of the alignment.

        Rainier and MLK are an unusual geography that make planning harder. A solution that looks obvious north of Columbia City fails south of it, and vice-versa. Since those south of it have a significant burden, the overall solution has to be along those lines. It’s still too close perhaps for a second limited-stop route, expecially if the R wraps around at Henderson, eliminating the biggest problem.

        I don’t quite understand why they built two highways through the valley; i.e., why does MLK even exist south of Mt Baker? (North of Mt Baker it was to get to the ferry terminal at Madison Park.) But this is the fundamental cause of the dilemma. MLK was there, so that gave Link the possibility of running down choice of running down MLK instead of Rainier. ST chose MLK because it thought Rainier was too narrow and congested to add light rail to it. That’s probably true for a surface train, but an underground train wouldn’t have that problem. Putting Link on MLK separates it from the center of the valley’s business district and makes the Rainier-MLK gap more critical. Instead you could have put Link on Rainier and made the Rainier commercial/multifamily district wider to accommodate all the new apartments that sprang up on MLK, and then just had a local route like the 106 on MLK.

      11. By the time you added in the dwell times for all those other stops to maintain that level of stop spacing the entire line, the added ride time would simply replace the shorter walk, and you wouldn’t actually get downtown any faster than just walking to Othello Station with the Link we have today.

        First of all, there are a lot of people who won’t walk 15 minutes to any transit, no matter how fast and direct it is. That issue is discussed (with some research behind it) at the beginning of Walker’s essay, and the basis for all the geometry after it.

        Second, I completely disagree with the idea that having stops really far apart would be faster overall. You can see in Levy’s articles, that optimum stop spacing varies somewhere between 280 to 580 meters. Put the stops too far apart and the time saved avoiding dwell is lost to the extra time spent walking. He also states — right in the introduction — the optimal average spacing between stops is 400-500 meters, although North American transit agencies have standardized on a bus stop every 200-250 meters (making stop consolidation usually a good idea).

        But it is about 1600 meters between Rainier Beach and Othello. It is about 2600 meters between Othello and Columbia City. That is several times larger than the upper end recommendations for optimum stop spacing. Even in the article where Levy pushes for stop consolidation (https://pedestrianobservations.com/2017/08/23/anti-infill-on-surface-transit/) he doesn’t want the stops to be that far apart — even for a subway. “But the range of stop distances is such that more people lose out from having fewer stops. Paris has a Metro stop every 600 meters, give or take.” (So does New York City).

        I think this is a common misconception. North American transit agencies typically have too many stops. So it is a good idea to consolidate them. But this can go too far. Then agencies try and be clever, with a limited stop express, as well as a “local” that makes stops every couple blocks. This usually ends up just wasting service. Riders on the express lose more in time spent waiting for the bus than they gain by the faster trip.

        It makes a lot more sense to just do what highly successful transit agencies do: have stop spacing around 400-500 meters on the bus, and maybe 600 meters on the train (if you can afford it — building subway station can be very expensive). Of course there are exceptions — there are bound to be areas where you need to add more stops to enable connections, or areas of essential wasteland. But in general we shouldn’t try to have stops too far apart, or too close together.

      12. If you talk about Link’s spacing then you’re adding a third factor. Rainier spacing, east-west spacing, and Link spacing.

        Yes, and my apologies for complicating the argument.

        Metro’s standard is now 0.25-0.5 mile.

        Which is pretty much in line with world standards (400 to 600 meters), although half a mile works out to 800 meters — a bit on the high side. In general I think the problem is that a quarter mile (400 meters) often works out to five blocks. Ideally, especially for a long run, like the E, you would want it about 7 blocks (or about 1/3 of a mile, 530 meters). But arterials are often 5 blocks apart. Since development (and often crossing buses) tend to cluster around those arterials, the stop spacing is a little on too close, or a little too far apart. You can see that with the E Line; it isn’t sure whether to make a stop every five blocks or ten (although overall I think the stop spacing is very good with the E — the only significant flaw is the Linden detour).

        Also, there are different levels of density along a street.

        Yes, that is what Alon Levy means when he writes about demand being “isotropic” or not. Basically he runs the numbers for when demand is centered around a stop or when it is spread out evenly everywhere.

        I agree with your points about Link. It should have been done on Rainier, as a cut and cover subway. One of the ironies is that a surface system can build a lot more stations, yet Link has way too few in Rainier Valley. This is because ST is focused on building more of a commuter rail system than an urban subway, even though building a commuter rail system from scratch is a very bad value. It is extremely expensive to build and maintain, while having fewer riders.

      13. “half a mile works out to 800 meters — a bit on the high side”

        That would only be RapidRide. Jarrett also says people will walk further to faster/more frequent service. I didn’t separate out the upper boundary of local routes and the lower boundary of RapidRide because they overlap and I’m not sure where each one would be. If the E had stops every half-mile at 73rd, 85th, and 95th like most of the line, it would be better. (100th and 105th are necessary because of Oak Tree, the 40, and the fact that they could become big urban villages if the city allowed it.)

  2. When are the new service change schedules going to be available? Right now metro is speaking in generalities. Interesting that the234 replacement services will still be hourly on weekends. Not an upgrade.

    1. Depends what part of the 234 you’re talking about. Finn Hill/Kenmore – yes, it will be once an hour. But, the Juanita->DT Kirkland section will get weekend service every 15 minutes on the 255 (a very significant upgrade). The Kirkland->Bellevue segment will remain every 30 minutes, as currently provided on the 234/235 combined.

      Another hidden benefit of the restructure is that Kirkland finally gets a bus to Bothell that runs in a straight line down the road, rather than having to spend an hour zig-zagging on the 238.

  3. Man these are horribly confusing graphics!

    First of all, the improvements shouldn’t be listed by agency! The public doesn’t care very much if SDOT or Metro is making them. Unless there is one open house for both agencies, the process looks incomplete at best and manipulative at worst. I know who does the work matters to the agencies and funding pots — but the user doesn’t really care!

    Second, creating a BAT lane in a segment that carries lots of traffic needs better information to discuss it. It’s not clear if it’s going in one direction or two. The section between I-90 and Alaska carries lots of midday traffic (perhaps more than at commute hours) and the proposal to drop the second lanes on MLK between Rainier and Walker will add more traffic to this street. This is probably the messiest and most controversial element; it would be pretty naive (or manipulative) to not discuss it in detail — at least the direction of the lane proposed for removal (Which direction? Using the left-turn lane?)

    That’s not to say that the project doesn’t have merit. Some stops are in horrible locations. Some stops are pretty close together. My complaint here is about the way the design is explained and not so much about the elements of it.

  4. I for one welcome our new rapidride overlord.

    I kinda feel like there’s even less reason for a Graham St station to be added to link now :(

    1. We’ll see if it becomes significantly faster than the current 7. It may get watered down later in the process as drivers agitate to keep GP lanes and parking, or another cycletrack gets added.

    2. What? They are two different corridors over 15 minutes apart (at Graham). Both are served by their own line, going different places (Link goes up to Beacon Hill, the 7 does not). Graham Street Station should be added (it should have been added a long time ago).

      1. The South Graham Street station was part of sound move, 1996; it was deferred by the board. Sadly, it was not funded by the 2008 ST2 measure.

    3. One consideration the addition of a Graham Street station needs to take into account: it’ll be one more stop on your line to the airport. Not speaking either for or against. Just has to be kept in mind.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Each stop is only 20 seconds. The problem is not adding two or three infill stops, it’s adding a lot of them. Some people think Link should have twice as many stops, but that gets annoying if you’re riding through ten stations every day.

  5. I’m glad that Judkins Park features prominently here. I’m also glad the Rainier Beach wire and reroute is proposed. It shows an awareness among Metro staff that transit travel patterns will change soon.

    To that end, shouldn’t more prominence go into the layout in these areas? The pedestrian environment around both of these stations is pretty harsh, and the transfer activity will be significant.

  6. So a few months after ST states that we won’t have a”Red Line” because of offended people, Metro proposes a labeling of an “R” in a dark red circle. Isn’t that imagery just as potentially offensive? If ST keeps the color but calls it something other than “red”, won’t the logo similarity (letter in a circle) get confusing to a less-than-savvy rider? Why is Metro even skipping several letters when the other lines aren’t letter for the major streets that they serve? The branding needs some discussion.

    1. I’m hoping that that color-letter proposal (“R” for Red, “G” for Green) gets rejected. The problem won’t be just “R”; it will be ST using letters for color initials and Metro and most other agencies that have letters using them alphabetically. Rainier “R” is an exception to the alphabetical scheme. I still don’t understand why Metro turned down “M” Madison but is pursuing “R” Rainier. “D” Delridge is another lost opportunity. “DelriHdge” is unintuitive, as is “MaGison”.

      1. Pacific Highway as “P” instead of “A”? Aurora as “A” instead of “E”? That letter-same-as-street thing has all sorts of issues with it.

        I’m reminded of how SF Muni riders call Metro lines by letters+streets like N-Judah and J-Church and L-Taraval. Riders don’t need to have the letters match the streets, and the specificity can make it superfluous to add “RapidRide” or “line” in conversation. We could get to a point where just saying “E-Aurora” will be all that needs to be said.

      2. For God sake’s just name them after the damn street. Rainier, Aurora, 15th NW, (and Evergreen in Snohomish County and Pacific in Pierce and 405 for ST’s line), I mean, isn’t that easier for everyone?

      3. But why make it gratuitously bad? Metro has a system where routes 0-99 are Seattle, 1-199 are South King County, 200-299 are the Eastside, and 300-399 are North King County. The letters aren’t only arbitrary; they don’t tell you where the routes are. A is in South King County, B is in Bellevue, and C, D, and E are in Seattle. Nobody cares which order the routes were created; they care where they go. And now they make it worse with G Madison, H Delridge, and J Roosevelt. There are cases where two areas would want the same letter, like B Bellevue and B Ballard, and R Rainier and R Roosevelt. Surely we can decide which one is more regionally significant and give the letter to it. Rainier can get the R because it’s the main street in southeast Seattle and a former highway, and “Roosevelt BRT” was always a misnomer because on 10% of the route is on Roosevelt and it originally terminated at 43rd. D Delridge would conflict with what, Des Moines? Des Moines will never have a line whose majority is in it. Metro doesn’t even consider these, it just throws out arbitrary letters in the order the lines are planned, except when it does.

      4. I’m with Mike. The letters make no sense. It is crazy to think that the numbers are easier to remember. If someone says they take the 252, I at least know it is an East Side bus. Since I am familiar with the 255 and 257, I might guess it is a Kirkland-ish bus. Sure enough. Not only do you have large grouping, but sometimes certain buses seem to “rhyme”. The 8 and 48 are kinda similar. The 26 and 62 cover some of the same area. Buses that pair up seem to be next to each other (3/4, 31/32, 345/346). That doesn’t mean I remember which is which, but I more or less know what people are talking about. There are various patterns, not unlike the English language. Nothing very strict or obvious (other than the hundreds), but still some common patterns.

        The letters seem completely random. Yet they are letters! So not only are they not grouped together (the vowels outside the city, A-E in the north, etc.) but they offer no hint as to where they are. It would be like if the state abbreviation for Alaska was “QP”.

        It is pretty easy to come up with a list of letters for the bus lines. Of course there will be conflicts (“Is Ballard the “B”, or is that for Bellevue?”) but that is like the state abbreviations (Alabama gets the “AL”).

      5. Why can’t we just got back to naming them in order of when they are created, like lines A through E were?

      6. The letter+number branding could work well here specifically and for RapidRide generally. Route R7 anyone?

    2. “Why can’t we just got back to naming them in order of when they are created, like lines A through E were?”

      We are numbering them like that. F Burien-Renton, G Madison, H Delridge, I Kent-East Hill-Renton, and J Eastlake are all like that. Rainier is the only exception so far.

  7. Most of the conversation on the Columbia City Facebook group this morning centered around “they are cancelling the 7? Oh no, that’s a terrible idea,” so it seems like they need to emphasize that the 7 is being upgraded and renamed rather than replaced.

    1. This often happens, surprisingly. People hear that a route like the 7 or 70 will be modified, and think Metro will just delete bus service on one of the highest-volume corridors without replacement. I guess it shows how little trust people have that bus service will remain, because they remember a time when bus service was much less or nonexistent and they’re afraid we’re gong back to that.

  8. I don’t understand why stop spacing is a concern to people who are chauffeured between home and bus stop by microtransit.

    And, those poor Fare Enforcement Officers. Whatever they are getting paid, it’s not enough.

    1. Via only works for Link stations, not bus stops. So if you’re trying to get to someplace in the Rainier Valley that isn’t near a Link station, it’s useless AND now the 7 is going to be harder to get to.

      1. The stations along MLK use bus stops for Via, as they can’t really use the Link station due to station placement

      2. Last-mile shuttles at a transit-fare price at the transit fare never existed until a couple years ago with Via. Uber/Lyft existed few years longer but cost significantly more. Taxis have existed forever. Via is the only one I’d consider microtransit. Via’s stats are 3-4 passengers per hour, while there’s a lot more than that at the bus stops in Via’s service area, so therefore a tiny percent of riders use microtransit. If we add Uber/Lyft riders it may reach 20% — still low. So T1’s premise that most people in the service area uses microtransit every trip is wrong. Or maybe he knows that few people use microtransit — but in that case it doesn’t matter what they think about stop spacing because they’re such a small percent of passengers. Microtransit is for the few most isolated houses that have the furthest walk to the station.

    2. Most people don’t take microtransit. even in the few places it exists. Either they don’t know about it, don’t want to pay for it, don’t want to wait for it to show up, or they can walk home in the time it takes to wait and ride it. These are the ones who are impacted by too-wide stop spacing. Not that that is an issue here. Metro’s current standard is 0.25-0.5 mile stops, while some faster networks have 0.33-0.6. The old 1970s standard was 0.1-0.2 mile where you see them every two blocks. This still occurs on NE 65th Street and some other places (I saw it a couple days ago though I don’t remember where). The U-District routes used to stop at all of 41st, 42nd, 43rd, 47th, and 50th, and people would get on/off at all of them, slowing the bus to a crawl. Those are the kinds of stops most likely to be consolidated in a stop diet. It’s not going to be like Link that has no stop at Graham Street.

    3. In the context of anything like the Route 7, stop-spacing is a matter of placing for maximum efficiency, convenience and usability. My memories of the 7 from behind the wheel have a lot more riders walking than going by micro-transit.

      Only hardship I know of regarding Fare Inspection is distance-based pricing, whatever it’s officially called. Gets a lot of pre-paid riders dragged into court for theft these days.

      Real easy cure: Look at fare as entrance fee to the entire system. Ride to every stop on the ST 574 costs the same. Why not same for LINK? If I’m missing something, fill me in.

      Mark Dublin

  9. I’d like to throw out an idea here: Rather than take RapidRide R to Pike/Pine, how about turning it up James to end around Harborview instead? There will be three faster ways to get to Westlake using Link than this line will be, and the need to connect Harborview with SE Seattle directly. Ideally, it would just stay on Boren but if the Jackson jog into Chinatown is needed, this seems like the next best thing. Finally, Westlake retail is on the decline and most transit runs as far south as Pioneer Square anyway, so it’s increasingly less important to reach.

    1. Link doesn’t run for 5 hours a night. I know that might not sound like much, but remember that those of us who go to work at 4 or 5 am are much more likely to live in poorer neighborhoods like rainier valley.

      1. I see that as an easily fixable issue. Route 7 and Route 49 are interlined in the middle of the night. Just make a jog to Harborview and back! It would be Route 7 south of Harborview and Route 49 north of Harborview. The few through riders would have less than a five minute travel time increase since traffic is essentially non-existent in the middle of the night and riders along both routes would have direct service to Harborview rather than have to wait for Route 3 overnight.

    2. Al, I think it’d be a mistake to think of any of Westlake’s present difficulties as permanent. Especially as regards a long and long-time service like the Route 7. Electric or diesel, jogs up past the hospitals take time and effort, and are really rough on a line that long.

      What I do remember was the Route 9, that ran from the north end of the Broadway District all the way out Rainier. Often same run card as the 7. Mainly rush hour. Rapid Ride plans might want to include it 24-7. Paint it red, call it the 9 and nobody will mind.

      Would also appreciate some input from the business community however defined as to exactly what the land around Rainier Beach Station needs in order to “Come To Life” after all these years. Am guessing that the couple of blocks of trolleywire being added between the station and Rainier Avenue could bring a lot of change.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Right now, it’s the north end of Rainier Avenue that is “coming to life”. Between I-90 and Mt. Baker Station is filling in fast. Once East Link opens there will be a completely new residential neighborhood around Judkins Park Station. So far it’s mostly just apartments/condos and there isn’t much retail to make the neighborhood walkable. But being 10 minutes from downtown Seattle and 10 minutes from downtown Bellevue is a pretty convenient location.

      2. Yes, Mark should ride the 7 again and see all the changes. The 48 would be another good choice.

        Going from south to north, the Henderson Street area has been the last to develop because it’s so far from downtown, and it now has a slow-release zoning plan to minimize displacement and maximize the opportunities for organizations beneficial to the community (education, skills, food production, etc). And the high school and community center take up so much of the land. But a few buildings have started springing up, and they’re gradually improving Beer Sheva Park.

        Othello & Rainier is just starting to develop but will be transformed in a few years. Othello & MLK already has a few TOD buildings and more are on the way, and the two strip malls are busy.

        Graham and Orcas Streets I don’t see as much, and Columbia City is well known, so moving north to Mt Baker, the modest upzone is in place, a couple TOD buildings have been built, and more are coming.

        In North Rainier, I think you can see from the station the senior housing and other buildings just northeast of it. The Remo Borrachini area is still pretty unchanged. I-90 is taken up by the freeway and station construction.

        At Dearborn, Goodwill has a multistory office building on the corner. The warehouse is unchanged. East of Rainier are several new apartment buildings, and the houses beyond them have been gentrifying since the 200.

        Going north on 23rd, many lots have become duplexes around Judkins Park and the CD, and small apartment buildings around John Street, and larger apartment buildings around Madison. The Union Street commercial area has grown a lot and more is coming.

      3. “Once East Link opens there will be a completely new residential neighborhood around Judkins Park Station.”

        Is this promised/zoned? I think it’s all houses there, and the only non-houses are the school and a black history organization next to it.

      4. According to Seattleinprogress.com, there are 1100 apartments total in multiple projects in various stages of permitting within a block of Rainier between Plum Street and Judkins Park Station. Many are in 6-story buildings. The area today has many recent tiny blocks that have been leveled in preparation for these projects. By 2023-2025, it will look as dense as much of Capitol Hill.

      5. Rainier from Alaska to Genesee and further north isn’t seeing any significant construction. The area is also very anti-displacement, so upzoning won’t necessarily lead to development.

    3. Boren would get all backed up, while 3rd Ave has transit priority. Going on Boren would provide more diverse coverage but not sure it’s worth sacrificing reliability on a Rapid Ride?

    4. You’ve got a couple ideas here:

      1) Sending it on Boren (presumably towards South Lake Union). I think that should be a different route (similar to the way that the 36 and 60 both serve north Beacon Hill then split). I could see sending the 106 there. For a lot of riders, you’ve passed a Link station, and the transfer is very easy (at Columbia City). Other riders could transfer to this (frequent) bus, the 14, or even the streetcar. The other possibility is just to run a completely new bus, from Lower Queen Anne to Mount Baker Station. You could make the case that such a bus would be RapidRide as well, and share the same stops as the the new R. It would have no shortage of riders, and thus be a great value overall.

      2) Turning up James and ending at Harborview. The geography seems all wrong to me. Those between the freeway and downtown would have a tougher time getting to north downtown. As GuyOnBeaconHill mentioned, there is tremendous growth there; I’m sure there are lots of people who want to get from there to the north end of downtown, let alone the crowd that just wants a one seat, fast ride.

      There has also been talk (in the past) of combining the 7 and 70 as they become RapidRide. That has obvious benefits, beyond the cost savings.

      If that doesn’t happen — and the buses are split — I would be tempted to head it up to Lower Queen Anne. That doubles up coverage on the D, with trips to Belltown and Lower Queen (areas that could now be considered greater downtown). That is not that different than the way the C goes all the way to South Lake Union. Those sorts of extra connections tend to pay for themselves, as it really isn’t too far, and there are a lot of trips involving those areas.

      1. If Route 106 went to Westlake or further into SLU on Third, all of the riders north of Mt Baker would have a direct route. If Route 7 local goes to Westlake and RapidRide R goes to Harborview, that works too!

        I’m sorry but it’s just ridiculous that except for a very few 9X runs, you can’t directly get to First Hill from SE Seattle. That’s just stupid! On top of that, the nearest RapidRide Line to Harborview will still be blocks away from it. It’s a huge oversight for the RapidRide program to rely on slow and crowded service to get to such a major destination.

        I’d even suggest that the oversight is class-based.

        Does anyone have a better idea that isn’t very costly?

      2. For years I’ve been pushing the idea of a restructured Route 4 that starts at Mt. Baker Station, stays on MLK until Jackson Street and runs at 15 minute or better headways. Currently there isn’t room at MBS for layover space and there would need to be new wire, but it is possible to connect Rainier Valley to First Hill. This version of the 4 would also be within a 4-5 minute walk from the Judkins Park/I-90 Link Station which would allow additional connectivity to the Eastside.

      3. What are you saying — that folks should have a two seat ride to downtown, but a one seat ride to First Hill? Sorry, but that is nuts. If you are going to send an existing Rainier Avenue run to First Hill, it should be the 106. It is less frequent, which means that is should go to the less common location. It would double up service with the (not that frequent) 60. On weekdays, they both run every 15 minutes. That means that a rider from the “R” could transfer at 12th to either bus, potentially timed to have 7.5 minute frequency.

        But again, I’m not sure that is ideal. A completely new route, from Lower Queen Anne to Mount Baker — or to Rainier Beach, replacing the 106 section of MLK, as Metro’s long plan suggests — may be the better bet.

        What is clear is that you don’t want the main bus on Rainier Avenue — heck, the only bus on much of Rainier Avenue — going to a secondary location. You want it going through as much of downtown as you can afford.

      4. I don’t think Metro will get 106 off of Jackson and MLK because it was the direct service request between Chinatown and the Healthcare Center on MLK at Walden in the first place. Never mind the Rainier and Walden stop is a mere 700 feet further..

        Imagine that! It’s more important to serve a small healthcare daytime clinic than it is to serve a huge hospital that’s the 24/7 regional trauma center and adjacent medical center with direct service! That’s how crazy skipping Harborview from SE Seattle is!

        Skipping Westlake isn’t skipping Downtown either. It will be faster for any Rainier bus rider to get off at Judkins Park and take Link. By the time a RapidRide bus reaches Fourth and Jackson, a person transferring to Link will be at Westlake Station.

        Judkins Park is a huge game changer!

      5. I don’t think Metro will get 106 off of Jackson and MLK because it was the direct service request between Chinatown and the Healthcare Center on MLK at Walden in the first place.

        I’m not sure the history of that argument, but having excellent same stop connections, as well as much more frequent stops for a truncated 106 seems like it would be better overall. You could catch several buses (and the streetcar) from the I. D. to 12th, then catch the 106 directly to the stop, making that a very easy transfer. Besides, you are arguing that it is easier to move the 7 away from the I. D. than the 106, which just seems absurd. There are clinics on Rainier Avenue (south of MLK) as well.

        Skipping Westlake isn’t skipping Downtown either.

        I never said it was. I’m just saying it isn’t the best option.

        It will be faster for any Rainier bus rider to get off at Judkins Park and take Link.

        Not if you are north of the freeway.

        By the time a RapidRide bus reaches Fourth and Jackson, a person transferring to Link will be at Westlake Station.

        Oh, I seriously doubt that. The transfer to Link at Judkins Park is easier than the one at Mount Baker, but it will still take some time. The platform is closer to 23rd than MLK, and about a 3 minute walk once you get off the bus. Then you have a 3-5 minute wait (on average). From Judkins Park to Westlake is supposed to take 10 minutes. So that is at least 16 minutes. According to Google, it takes about nine minutes (right now) to get to Fourth and Jackson. Even Third and Seneca takes only 14 minutes. Counting the time spent going up from the station, Westlake is probably the first stop that is actually faster.

        Of course that is on a Sunday morning (with very little traffic). But that is the point of this project — to make the bus run faster. That 14 minutes to Seneca involves a lot of stops, with people all lined up, tapping their ORCA card, or paying with cash. Street improvements should minimize the traffic problems, making a bus running during rush hour more like one running Sunday morning.

        Just to be clear, if you are in the neighborhood, then Link is much faster. If you are headed to the UW, it makes sense to transfer. But it doesn’t make sense to just terminate on the edge of downtown, any more than it makes sense to have the West Seattle buses terminate at SoDo. Sending the bus up to First Hill is reasonable, although it makes more sense to send the 106 up there instead.

      6. “I’m not sure the history of that argument”

        Yes, you do, The “healthcare center on MLK at Walden” is the Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS). It was the primary champion of the campaign to “Save Route 42”, a long milk run from Rainier View to downtown. That was on top of the 8, the first Link MLK shadow. The 8 was later split, creating the 38 Rainier Beach – Mt Baker. That wasn’t good enough for ACRS and some other North Rainier activists — they wanted a one-seat ride to downtown. They complained that their non-English speaking clients couldn’t navigate all the transfers and other routes, but they could remember “42 goes to ACLS and downtown”. Metro eventually capitulated to “neighborhood requests” and extended the 106 to replace the 38 (a good thing because it connects mid Rainier Valley to Renton), and extended it further along Rainier and Jackson like the 42 was (although it was on Dearborn instead than Jackson) to Intl Dist Station. That was the compromise: it wouldn’t go all the way downtown but just to the edge of it.

        I’m not weighing in on rerouting the 7 to Harborview because it’s so unlikely. I like the idea of a Rainier-Boren route. Metro plans to have a secondary route do that in its 2025 plan. Not the main 7 or 36, but a kind of 106 from south Rainier Beach to SLU.

  10. It looks like everything is under the “online open house” link at the end of the article. The other links just go to high-level statements that don’t say anything about the specific stop and shelter proposals. The first “online open house” link has a link to “visit our online open house and take the survey”, but it asks for your name and address before you can even view the proposals and I wasn’t willing to do that. (Or maybe it’s just a mailing-list form; it looks like it might be.)

    I hope the new shelter design has larger and more comfortable benches. The RapidRide benches aren’t nearly as good as in regular bus shelters. In some cases there’s only room for one butt. Or it may be wider than that but still narrower than a regular bench. The argument that “You won’t need to sit down because your bus will come in a few minutes” breaks down when you’re waiting 10 or 15 minutes — or longer if the bus is late — or you’ve been walking a lot and are tired or carrying heavy things. Just make them as large and comfortable as regular benches and stop falling back to an ideology.

    1. Thanks for pointing that out; I updated the first link in the post to match the last link.

  11. I rode the 7 a few weeks ago, from Columbia City to downtown, due to double whammy of infrequent/unknown Link schedules, on top of a shuttle connection at SODO. The 7 was slow as molasses. Some of it was general traffic, and lack of bus lanes approaching I-90. But, a lot of it was exactly the types of issues that RapidRide is designed to address – bus stops too close together and dwell times adding up as lines of people board the bus one at a time. Somewhat ironically, the fastest part of the trip was actually 3rd Ave. downtown, because that’s where the bus gets priority, and the stops are further apart.

    Considering that the 7 carries many more people than some of the other (e.g. suburban) actual and planned RapidRide lines, upgrading the 7 to RapidRide feels like a no-brainer.

  12. There are a couple places in the open house where they ask for a stop preference*. Here are mine:

    1) 8th Avenue over Maynard — Maynard is just too close to the I. D. stop. You overlap coverage. 8th Avenue isn’t great, since it abuts the freeway, but it at least extends coverage much further south.

    2) Alaska/Hudson (A) versus Edmunds/Dawson (B). (A) looks like the better choice, for the same reason. The maximum distance someone has to walk is shorter. I suppose one argument for (B) is that folks to the east of Rainier will just use Link. However, I can think of several trips where using the bus would be much better (trips to Bellevue, but they aren’t identical in terms of trip possibilities. Furthermore, there are plenty of people to the east, and a lot of new development just east of Rainier and south of Alaska. A bus stop there would get plenty of riders and have good stop spacing.

    Here are the links: https://live-kcm-rapid-ride-r-line.pantheonsite.io/chinatown-international-district-to-i-90/ and https://live-kcm-rapid-ride-r-line.pantheonsite.io/columbia-city-to-hillman-city/. It is worth pointing out (since it isn’t on the second map) that the first stop north of Alaska is at Genesee.

    1. How riders transfer between Route 50 and this route has to be considered in the Alaska versus Edmunds choice. The northbound Rainier stop at Genesee is north of where Route 50 turns. Transferring riders would have to run across Genesee Street if Edmunds is chosen.

      1. That is a very good point. I forgot about the 50, and you are absolutely right. Alaska is clearly the better spot for folks who ride the 50 then transfer to the “R” and then go somewhere else on Rainier Avenue.

  13. Post states that off board fare payment is planned. The objective is all door boarding and alighting for shorter dwell time. How about on board fare readers; that is what muni and trans link use.

    Mark wants Prentise loop served; how about a one unit standard trolley route beteeen station and prentise?

    How will both transit and bikes have priority on Rainier?

    1. I guess it’s time to dig the bike subway tunnel under Rainier, huh? Lol … In seriousness though, you can’t make every mode fit on every major street. We keep saying that transit subways are needed and transit should pay for it, when other modes benefit from transit subways.

      As for bicycles, there are plans to build PBL’s from Mt Baker to I-90 on MLK! There are your bicycle lanes! … Of course, that will only add traffic onto Rainier and make buses run slower on both streets.

      1. I’ve been arguing for this for quite some time. The bike lanes should be on MLK, and the bus lanes should be on Rainier. Bus transit on MLK should be minor. If there is a lot of bus ridership there, then the train should add more stops.

        The only complicating factor is what is discussed above — coverage on MLK as part of a route that goes up to First Hill, then on to South Lake Union and Lower Queen Anne. MLK could be a lot slower with two lanes each way. There are several options (other than just living with it) including essentially splitting the run. Have the Renton bus stop at MLK (or keep going, but head north/northeast) while the main bus (a RapidRide) provides the far more popular service on the rest of the proposed corridor. The point being that we really shouldn’t spend a lot of money (providing frequent service) on an area that Sound Transit doesn’t think is even worth the cost of a surface station. An infrequent route will do.

    2. How about on board fare readers; that is what muni and trans link use.

      Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. To be clear, some off board stations are a great idea. They should be downtown, as well as in the U-District. Just as you don’t want a long stream of people tapping their cards, you don’t want everyone crowding in the middle of the bus, trying to tap their card to avoid the fare police.

      But there are plenty of stops that lack such demand. The fact that Vancouver and San Fransisco — two cities with extremely high density in places — do this suggests that we should too. Have both, which adds flexibility, and scales quite nicely. If a stop, over time, has lots and lots of riders, then add a card reader on the street. Otherwise, those riders just walk past the driver, get to the middle of the bus, tap, and find a seat.

  14. Looking at the overall stop spacing, this proposal looks pretty good. In general, the optimum stop spacing is somewhere around six minutes, which works out to a bit more than 500 meters. I used Google maps to break things down by walking distance (assuming the options I recommend, listed above) and this is what I got:

    IDS to 8th — 6 minutes
    8th to 12th — 5 minutes
    12th to Dearborn — 7 minutes
    Dearborn to Judkins Park — 10 minutes
    Judkins Park to Walker — 11 minutes
    Walker to MBS — 11 minutes
    MBS to Walden — 7 minutes
    Walden to Charleston 5 minutes
    Charleston to Genesee — 8 minutes
    Genesee to Alaska — 6 minutes
    Alaska to Hudson — 6 minutes
    Hudson to Brandon — 6 minutes
    Brandon to Orcas — 4 minutes
    Orcas to Graham — 8 minutes
    Graham to Hollly — 5 minutes
    Holly to Othello — 8 minutes
    Othello to Holden — 5 minutes
    Holden to Rose — 6 minutes
    Rose to Henderson — 8 minutes
    Henderson to RBS — 9 minutes

    Everything looks pretty good. There are some oddities though — places where the stops seem too close together, or too far apart. There are as follows:

    1) On Rainier Avenue, north of Mount Baker Station, there are some big gaps. My guess is that Metro feels like the 106 will complement the “R”. That sounds good in the short term, but if the 106 is moved (e. g. sent up to First Hill) then it probably makes sense to add some stops.

    2) From Walden to Genesee, things are a bit uneven. Charleston is a bit too close to Walden, and thus a bit too far away from Genesee. However, it is the only logical choice. Past Charleston, the next cross street is Andover. There is a big gap between those streets, which means that Andover would have the opposite problem (too close to Genesee, and too far away from Walden). Charleston also has cross streets from both directions, whereas Andover doesn’t. Charleston is the right choice.

    3) It is uneven from Brandon to Graham. Orcas is very close to Brandon, and pretty far away from Graham. The obvious solution is to move it a little bit further south, to Juneau. I think there are several reasons why Metro picked the bus stop at Orcas. One is that it is already there (thus saving some money). Another is that there are more destinations around Orcas. Finally, there is the possibility that someday there will be crossing bus service on Orcas. However, I don’t see that — I just don’t see how that would work. I think if you moved the bus stop a block or two further south, you would still have very good access to the churches and shops on Orcas, but reduce the walking for those to the south.

    4) From Graham to Othello it is uneven. This is similar to the second example — it is just a giant block, so there is no alternative.

    5) Henderson to RBS is a pretty long distance. This is similar to the first example, where a different bus (actually buses) can serve that area. There also aren’t likely to be a lot of riders there. To the north there are schools and parks which are just as easily accessed via Henderson. To the south, the street grid gets messy, making a midway station difficult to access from much of the area (e. g. https://goo.gl/maps/yx6KxR4Xk4U5qXW16). Thus this would only be a benefit to a handful of riders. I think Metro did the right thing here.

    So the only thing I would consider changing (at least for now) is the stop at Orcas. I think it should be a block or two south (although I’m not sure that is worth the money).

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