RapidRide R Concept via Metro

Ashley Archibald reports some locals aren’t so sad Metro is shelving RapidRide R (Rainier):

Much of the Rainier Valley community “doesn’t really want the RapidRide R,” Kidde [of Rainier Valley Greenways] said, adding that they don’t like the reduction in the number of stops, the removal of the Prentice loop at the south end of the route nor the RapidRide-style fare enforcement where officers check payment on the bus. Advocates fear that the new fare enforcement will result in disproportionate enforcement against people of color.

Important source material includes longtime 7 driver Nathan Vass’ essay opposing the R line. It has some valuable firsthand testimony and some ideas I completely agree with. It also has not a lot of data and a weird assertion that RapidRide “counts as gentrification.”

Notably, Metro is going ahead with the BAT lanes, probably the most important substantive improvement. But really, what is RapidRide?

  • a minimum level of service all day and night (which the 7 already meets)
  • fare inspectors, which should reduce dwell times (even if it still accepts cash onboard)
  • some branding that helps core routes stand out from the spaghetti (although current riders have figured it out, and a good map can achieve this, too)
  • as Vass points out, it’s a magnet for federal funding, which is a big deal
  • stop consolidation (a tradeoff between addressable population and speed)
  • road improvements for speed and reliability, but not always.

So from the 7 rider’s point of view, you have a few speed and reliability improvements at the cost of enforcement interactions and longer walks for some (1). Like Vass, I wouldn’t dream of speaking for the average 7 rider, or potential R rider (2), nor would I make assumptions of which they prefer. But it’s not surprising “much of the community” would prioritize the losses over the gains. Indeed, RapidRide is very-low-grade BRT and it’s far from shocking not everyone is in love with it.

Of course, all over the city riders are experiencing that mixed result, as faster buses and federal funding are good for the Metro’s finances. Personally, when I ride the 7 I mostly wish it was faster. My opinion shouldn’t matter that much, but the well-intentioned but Sisyphean outreach process does matter. A Metro that doesn’t make changes it judges to be broadly acceptable improvements, because there are tradeoffs and losers, is a Metro that can’t improve.

That said, if the R is relatively unpopular, by all means kick it to the back of the line.

(1) The route is also shorter: no Prentice Loop on some trips, and Vass points out that the 7/49 interline is quite useful to many current riders. Metro makes few promises about maintaining these interlines, and I wouldn’t presume this particular one is more useful than the alternatives. But a reduced service area is important!

(2) Not otherwise mentioned in this discourse.

66 Replies to “What’s the point of RapidRide?”

  1. I can’t help but wonder if there’s a race element at play. Anytime you make a restructure, there are going to be some people who like and some that don’t, so it involves the judgement of whether the good outweighs the bad. But, when the constituency is people of color, it feels like rational judgement goes out the window and one person opposed makes the entire restructure “racist”.

    It almost feels like race has made any changes to route 7 – however tiny – become politically untouchable. In the case of the R-line, the overwhelming majority of route 7 riders would see nothing change, except for a slightly faster bus.

    1. +1. Kind of reminds me of people along 35th opposing bike lanes or along Route 70 opposing Roosevelt RapidRide; all changes be dammed!

      Perhaps it came down to people who opposed RapidRide R Line, who’d normally be just called NIMBYs, decided to bring up race to intentionally derail this project after it’s been humming along for a while. Now, quite unfortunately, people who support RapidRide R project or other improvements can be labeled as racists and gentrifies, so little to nothing will get done to improve speed and reliability on a very important transit route.

      Then in five years, people along Rainier will have forgotten about this, then wonder why Route 7 still performs poorly, stating unironically “communities of color don’t get invested in”. Reminds me of Kenmore recently asking why it’s not getting Link Light rail after opposing a Link extension in ST3: we get what we ask for.

      1. Then in five years, people along Rainier will have forgotten about this, then wonder why Route 7 still performs poorly, stating unironically “communities of color don’t get invested in”.

        There’s something in between “do nothing” and “full RapidRide upgrade,” and that’s to make some of the RapidRide-style improvements without doing the others that the ridership community doesn’t like. Adding BAT lanes and offboard fare payment is entirely doable without branding it RapidRide and deleting stops and the Prentice St loop and interline with the 49.

        A lot of handwringing seems to be happening here over what people claim to want. It is well-established, by Metro and Sound Transit’s own studies, that people of color have worse experiences with fare enforcement staff. So it should come as no great shock that a ridership community largely populated by people of color do not want more opportunities to come in contact with fare enforcement. That doesn’t mean they are evading fares; it means they’ve had worse outcomes even though they do pay.

        As for deleting the Prentice loop and doing stop consolidation, yes, people are going to be upset about this, especially when you brand something as a new service. If we did our BRT properly, with express and local routes, then there’d be no issue. But deleting service and stops is not a recipe for success if those stops and that service are used by people who have little other choice.

      2. “Reminds me of Kenmore recently asking why it’s not getting Link Light rail after opposing a Link extension in ST3”

        Kenmore didn’t oppose a Link extension; it just knew it was behind the line behind Kirkland and Issaquah. Kirkland would have gotten Link if its city council and Save Our Trail hadn’t opposed Link in different ways and ST threw up its hands and deferred it to the next round. Issaquah got Link because it had a mayor on the ST board. Kenmore and Bothell didn’t have those advantages. The 522 community was very pro transit and petitioned for Stride. It would have petitioned for Link if it thought it had a chance; it has been enthusiastic about Link all along. But it would rather have Stride than nothing.

    2. I can’t help but wonder if there’s a race element at play.

      Of course there is. What is wrong is when a self-appointed spokesman for the community (Nathan Vass) is somehow indicative of the general opinion on the route. He wrote:

      I have the ability to speak for the community because I’m there every evening.

      Uh, OK. To be fair, he then follows it up with:

      I know I don’t speak for the whole community; of course that’s ridiculous.

      Good, I’m glad we are on the same page.

      I don’t even speak for the whole 7-riding community.

      Nope. Nor do you speak to the folks who *don’t* ride the 7, because it is too slow or too infrequent. So why are we even bothering listening to you? Because you are a very good local essayist? Yeah, sure, maybe, but also because of this, absurd statement:

      Can those who’ve suffered at the hands of authority be expected to give their honest feedback to authorities on command, on terms not set by them?

      Yes, definitely. These aren’t people talking to cops, but taking to people at Metro. This is an outreach that the author admits “has bent over backwards trying to get feedback over this.”. Yet somehow the handful of folks he chats with offer a better, more true understanding of the community than the people who’ve done the outreach. Sorry, I don’t buy it. If people are pissed, they’ll let you know, and you won’t read it about in a blog. By and large, people are OK with the RapidRide plans. Many of them like it, some hate it, but most are OK with it. Or, at the very least, they will reserve judgment. The idea that folks in the area are somehow really pissed, but haven’t bothered to tell Metro is absurd. The only reason that gains any traction at all is because of race.

      He then writes:

      I can’t help but wonder if there’s a race element at play.

    3. There have been plenty of good restructures stopped by selfish white people who screamed loud enough, or happened to be in positions of power.

      I’ve never known Nathan Vass to scream, or be selfish, and wasn’t aware he was a person of color. He’s just a youngish white bus driver, last I checked, who knows the riders, routes, and ridership far better than most of the commenters here, because he has transported them. His award-winning writings are all about self-awareness for the needs of others, especially real-life passengers — the subjects of his writings.

      When Vass talks about a line being useful to riders he is not dreaming up ghost riders to concern-troll or cover for selfish motivations, like we have see happen when other restructures go wrong.

      I’m not saying I agree with his conclusions. I’m just saying I’ll trust his input more than I’ll trust just about anyone else’s.

  2. The irony of RapidRide is that it is the high volume routes that gain the most speed from all-door boarding. All of the other improvement elements don’t actually require a RapidRide designation to be beneficial unless there is a funding advantage to use the term.

    1. And all-door boarding isn’t that important when each stop only gets 2 or 3 people most of the day. Frequency and transit/BAT lanes are the most important, followed by next-arrival signs. All-door boarding is a lame concession when you’re waiting 25 minutes for a bus or it’s stuck in traffic and stoplights.

      1. all-door boarding isn’t that important when each stop only gets 2 or 3 people most of the day.

        Yes it is. All-door boarding means off-board payment which means no one is fumbling with cash. It means that if you have someone in a wheelchair, or who is slow, riders can get on in the back. It also means that you don’t have the occasional, big group (kids after school) which slows up the route. This reduces bus bunching. It also means that the route requires less “float” — it can be expected to be consistent, so you don’t have to have a bus sit in the middle of the route to follow the schedule.

        It all adds up. That’s why cities have adopted it for all their routes, the entire day. Of course it makes a bigger difference during rush hour, but it is telling that San Fransisco, for example, didn’t just focus their efforts then — off-board payment applies all day long.

        Oh, and a faster bus leads to a more frequent bus.

      2. San Francisco has had full-time frequent transit on most routes for decades. Going to all-door boarding was a logical next step, and didn’t divert money from filling in frequency. Seattle is in a different position.

      3. Groups of school kids occur at most once a day, and only on a few routes. Wheelchair riders are likewise only occasional. Bus bunching is mainly caused by car congestion.

      4. The 7 has several stops in the Mt. Baker area where many more than 2-3 people are getting on at a time. All-door boarding makes a big difference.

      5. San Francisco has had full-time frequent transit on most routes for decades. Going to all-door boarding was a logical next step, and didn’t divert money from filling in frequency. Seattle is in a different position.

        I’m not arguing that off-board payment should be the first priority, but either way, it is important.

        Groups of school kids occur at most once a day, and only on a few routes. Wheelchair riders are likewise only occasional.

        That’s my point. It is an inconsistent delay. This is why, for example, stop diets make sense. It is pretty easy to argue that if no one uses the stop, then it doesn’t cost the bus anything. Except that isn’t the case. It is the inconsistency that causes problems. You want buses running at the same time, every time. To compensate, you add extra time to the schedule. If the bus arrives early (if it skips a bunch of stops) then it sits there, until it matches the schedule. Reducing dwell time — especially peak dwell time — makes the route faster all the time.

        Bus bunching is mainly caused by car congestion.

        Not true. It is worth noting that the very first suggestion here is to reduce dwell time: https://pedestrianobservations.com/2018/08/18/the-dynamics-of-bus-bunching/. This makes sense, because it is the boarding itself that causes bunching. A bus gets delayed a bit late (because of traffic lights, traffic or some other reason) and as a result, it picks up more riders. This causes the bus to be delayed even further, and it picks up even more riders. Eventually the first bus is picking up everyone, the second bus is cruising by the bus stop, and they are bunched. This is the cycle, and it is unique to buses.

  3. Most major cities have limited stop and local routes if a route is popular. Route 7 has had Route 7x and Route 9x that have been such routes.

    As a SE Seattle resident and rider, I prefer having the option of choosing a local or limited bus over a generic RapidRide makeover with only one kind of service plan and set of stops.

    Thank God that Link is available as a limited stop service!

    1. +1. A little creativity in route planning could go a long ways. God forbid there’s a second, limited-stop bus route on Rainier.

    2. RapidRide was originally marketed as “BRT like Swift”, which is a limited-stop overlay. It’s unclear whether Metro really intended to do that or not, but it later said it didn’t have enough funding for an overlay so these would be the only route in their corridor. So RapidRide A-F were like that, and the later plans followed the precedent.

    3. Most major cities have limited stop and local routes if a route is popular.

      I’m pretty sure you mean most American cities. The idea of an all-day overlay is one of those American experiments in transit that is largely rejected in places where transit is far more effective. It is like American stop spacing — largely a bad idea.

      It is pretty easy to see why it doesn’t work that well. Consider the E. It is famously effective, carrying a huge numbers of riders all day long. It has very good stop spacing. Neither short, like most American bus routes, nor really long (like Swift). There is no need for a second bus route — it works really well. The E runs every 10 minutes during the day, and 15 minutes at night (as it did during the pandemic). This is not especially good, but better than most of our buses.

      Now consider the alternative. You run an express, every 20 minutes. It makes limited stops, saving those riders quite a bit of time. You get the money for running the express from the regular E. They both run every 20 minutes. Unfortunately, they can’t be timed since the the EE runs faster.

      Is that better? It depends on who you are. The E has good ridership at most of its stops. There are no huge spikes per stop, which would make the EE bus stop choices less than obvious. Thus a huge number of riders would not be able to use the EE, either because their origin or destination (or both) is too far away. These riders are much worse off — their bus runs every 20 minutes, instead of 10. But even the folks that can use an express aren’t much better off. Waiting 20 minutes for an express just isn’t worth it. Their wait time varies as well. The worse case wait time is not 10 minutes but 20 minutes (a lifetime for a bus rider) at some points on the line.

      This is why express overlays only make sense when the main bus is running very frequently (e. g. rush hour). This is the case with the E. It has the 301, which serves riders from the very north to downtown during peak times. It doesn’t go on Aurora, either, but via I-5 (a faster route). But the main thing is, it goes there when the E is frequent. At the point that it is running, the E is running every 4 minutes. You could just more E buses, but the benefit is minor. At that point, the only reason you are adding frequency is to deal with crowding. An express bus is a cheaper way to do that.

      It is worth noting that while the 301 performs reasonably well, the E is still much better during rush hour. Even with all of those extra stops, the E has more riders per hour. This means that the 301 is essentially a luxury service — a better option for some, but not the most cost effective way to serve the public (other than, as noted, dealing with crowding).

      Express buses only make sense if you are trying to deal with crowding. The 7 is very similar to the E, except shorter. It has that same 10 minute frequency in the middle of the day, along with 15 minutes at night. Running an express overlay would result in a system that is worse for more riders. Extra money — if it can be found — should be put into making the 7 more frequent, rather than adding an overlay used by a relatively small subset of riders.

      1. Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver have overlay limited-stop routes too. Take a look at Calgary’s MAX buses as an example.

      2. Rainier is not Aurora. The maximum posted speed is 25 mph for essentially its entire length. Aurora has higher speeds for well over half of the length of RapidRide E.

        Please don’t call them similar. It’s clear you don’t live in SE Seattle.

      3. “The idea of an all-day overlay is one of those American experiments in transit that is largely rejected in places where transit is far more effective.”

        Other countries have multi-line metros and/or all-day commuter rail, which perform the same function as limited-stop overlays. Bus overlays are in corridors that don’t have those. Aurora and 522 are examples. Rainier is sort of an example, but it’s complicated by nearby Link and the shortness of the corridor. Maybe a better overlay would continue to Renton.

      4. I totally agree with (what I think is) your premise. The same service hours put into a single higher frequency route with appropriate stop spacing is superior for the vast majority of riders than a route with a local and a limited that by definition are not synchronized or spaced. If the bus comes every 5 or 10 minutes instead of two buses with different stop patterns that have lower frequency, then the shorter wait time makes it more useful and productive for the vast majority.

        In fact LA, which put in place quite a few so-called Rapid routes with limited stops on top of locals is in the process of abolishing that in favor of higher frequency on the underlying routes but some kind of stop diet to appropriately space them.

        That’s probably what the 7 needs, too, together with the appropriate BAT lanes

      5. Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver have overlay limited-stop routes too.

        Right. North American cities. A point I made earlier.

        Rainier is not Aurora. The maximum posted speed is 25 mph for essentially its entire length. Aurora has higher speeds for well over half of the length of RapidRide E.

        What difference does that make? If anything, it would make the case for an express on Aurora stronger. On Aurora, the bus stops are what is slowing it down; on Rainier, it is the speed limit. An express on Aurora would be much faster than the regular bus. On Rainier Avenue, not that much.

        Other countries have multi-line metros and/or all-day commuter rail, which perform the same function as limited-stop overlays.

        Yes, and they carry massive numbers of people! My point is the 7, as great as it is, is not full when it runs every 10 minutes. Those trains you speak of *are* full, which means that running the “local” is just a nice little extra.

        What you are suggesting is that we run an express, but cut away service on the main line that inevitably carries more riders. It is backwards. It doesn’t work. It has failed, repeatedly in similar situation, as Carl pointed out.

      6. “Los Angeles has the overlay and its been a failure.”

        Snohomish County has the overlay and it’s been a success.

        “What you are suggesting is that we run an express, but cut away service on the main line that inevitably carries more riders.”

        No, you add a limited-stop (not express) overlay while keeping the local route above a minimum appropriate frequency. The limited route connects all the urban villages, transfer points, significant shopping centers, etc. The local route serves the in-between stops that fewer people are going to, like a coverage service. What’s frustrating is sitting on a bus for 30-45 minutes as it stops at every single little stop.

        Limited-stop routes would make it faster to travel between Ballard and the U-District, Ballard and downtown, Ballard and Greenwood, Greenwood and Lake City, North Seattle and Shoreline, North Seattle and the Snohomish 99 corridor, UW and the Central District, the Central District and Columbia City, etc. Models would be the 7X, 9, and 15. Not the 301. Limited-stop routes don’t have nonstop segments longer than a mile or two, unless there’s really nothing there.

      7. Mike: If you’re referring to SWIFT and CT Route 101 on Highway 99 as Snohomish County having the overlay, keep in mind that the 101 runs as a “local” route at half hourly daytime/hourly weekend/evening headways. At such low frequency, it’s little wonder SWIFT is more popular!

      8. More people are going between Edmonds Community College, Aurora Village, and the shopping centers and transfer points where Swift stops than the in-between stops it doesn’t, so it makes sense that Swift is more frequent than the 101. Lynnwood has zoned urban villages at all its Swift stations, so when those are built out they’ll generate more riders, and then the difference will be wider.

        When Swift started, it didn’t make the 101 less frequent but added more service. If Swift were canceled, that doesn’t mean the 101 would become more frequent. Swift and the 101 serve different kinds of trips, so if it were deleted, those trips would just not be served well by transit. That’s the problem with transit across the US: it focuses almost entirely on local coverage and doesn’t provide a reasonably fast way to travel between urban villages, or between a village and a regional transfer point.

    4. I agree, we visited Denver a bit over a year ago, and used transit exclusively for getting around. The 15/15L/16/16L routes on Colfax are a close analogue to what you describe, and the “limited” service runs frequently enough that it was a reliable time-saver over the local service (though the first day we were confused about the L, and though it was Local rather than Limited… typical tourist oops). That said, there are portions of Colfax towards the termini of the routes that are much closer to a highway than even Rainier is, which allowed the “limited” coaches to leapfrog the local coaches without getting stuck with the lane changes.

  4. It also has not a lot of data and a weird assertion that RapidRide “counts as gentrification.”

    People see our transit improvements as gentrification because we make them so rarely, and with such great fanfare, that the areas around them usually increase in popularity and we have virtually no capability to prevent displacement.

    This is what is the most troubling to me about the King County Council and Metro’s decision to say that we need to reallocate hours out of some areas of the county to give them to others post-pandemic on the grounds that the “losing” areas of the county aren’t riding the bus during the pandemic so “obviously” they don’t need that service.

    People who need or want to use transit as their primary mode of transportation will, by default, move to where the transit is good if they are able to make that choice. We built light rail through the south end and are now shocked to find that townhouses and apartments are springing up all along the south end light rail route. We put down streetcars and RapidRide routes and tout the opportunities for transit-oriented development, yet the people who already live in those areas have nowhere to go when they’re priced out.

    A lot of angst and digital ink is spilled about serving “choice” riders versus “dependent” riders, and this view of a new RapidRide line causing gentrification shows why that’s a false distinction. People who have the resources to choose will always push out people who don’t if there’s a limited supply. Yet we clearly know that we need people to “choose” to get out of their single-occupant vehicles and into transit.

    Metro’s job isn’t land use, but it is providing transit to the people who live on that land. Pulling service from a light rail station that hasn’t even opened because people who currently live around where that station will be tend to drive is foolish. How do we expect them to use transit if we cut transit? Also foolish is restricting where people can live in a car-free way. If we want people to use transit, we must provide transit and we must allow housing to be built where we have transit, whether rail or bus.

    1. “How do we expect them to use transit if we cut transit?”

      That’s exactly the problem across the country. Ridership goes up and down as service is expanded or contracted, has good maintenance or decays. Almost all of the US has less comprehensive transit than Canadian or European cities of similar size, so it’s no wonder ridership is low.

      Seattle has bucked the trend by investing in transit, and our water and hill barriers cause transit-generating bottlenecks. Most other American cities don’t have anything like the 7 or its ridership. But overall transit is still behind all other industrialized countries, and that’s what transit-dependent riders are asking for even if they don’t know what it’s like in other countries: they just have a sense that transit should be convenient and ubiquidous.

    2. I agree Annie. Its really a bizarre argument. “We can’t add good things for the neighborhood, otherwise it will gentrify”.

      So too is the argument that well-to-do riders will take RapidRide, but not a regular bus. As if anyone cares what a bus looks like. To be clear, there are some buses that scare some people, but the E ranks high above the 5 in that respect.

  5. I live at Rainier/Rose and getting to Link is way too hard. My options are numerous but all poor: a 0.7 mile walk/bike to Rainier Beach, a 0.9 mile walk/bike to Othello, a 2-seat ride via 7->106/107, or a 0.5 mile walk to the 50, drive and hide and ride, or a long slog via the 7 to Mt Baker to catch Link there. (I know there’s VIA right now, but that probably won’t be around forever.) I wish we could at least extend the terminus from Rainier/Henderson to Rainier Beach Station, even off-wire if needed, with a turnaround via S. Trenton St. and Renton Ave S. Or a 7A to Rainier Beach Station (3 of 4 buses, say) and a 7B to Prentice Loop (1 of 4), or some sort of restructure that keeps a different service on Prentice (say, a 108 to Renton via Prentice Loop) while connecting the southern 7 tail to Link. Or an all-day, frequent 9X style variant. SOMETHING, whether you give it red paint or not.

    1. “I wish we could at least extend the terminus from Rainier/Henderson to Rainier Beach Station”

      That’s good testimony because you’re in the target market for such service. The reroute to Rainier Beach Station is for people south of Columbia city, so the question is, would they ride it? It partly depends on whether you’re going north or south.

      I’m sympathetic to not cutting off the Rainier Beach shopping center. But the residential part of the Prentice tail seems unnecessary. The 106 is nearby. It wasn’t earlier.

      1. Sorry, Mike Orr. If I’d bought a house along the length of wire including Prentice Street, I’d consider myself wronged to lose it.

        With a fair amount of ill-will attaching to door-configurations and anything else to do with “branding.” Who’s supposed to be the cow here, the bus or me?

        From behind the steering wheel of anything both rubber-tired and electric powered, all the System needs to do with KCM route number 7 is to remove anything that’s in the way of its buses.

        Might there be available a real-time video of the 7 showing buses in action? My point being that this is one route that, with obstacles removed, does a tremendous amount to keep its service on time.

        Nor would a few more miles of trolleywire, like maybe four, to make it’s reader-sign say “Renton Transit Center.” By my car’s own clock, twenty minutes’ zero-pollution run.

        Mark Dublin

      2. Prentice Street is a single-family area. Only a small number of people are within the walkshed. They have enough money for a house, so they have enough money for a car, and on average more of them drive than in multifamily/commercial areas. All of Metro’s restructuring plans and proposals since 2009 have shown eventually rerouting the 7 to Rainier Beach and withdrawing from the Prentice tail.

        If we take the logic that we can’t ever restructure a route after somebody bought a house there twenty years ago, the 42 would still be running, maybe still half-hourly.

      3. [The Prentice Street Loop is a single-family area.

        For the most part, yes. There are really two loops, shown quite well on this map: https://seattletransitmap.com/app/. The more northern one (Henderson and Rainier Avenue) runs all the time, for good reason. There are a fair number of apartments in that area, along with restaurants and shops in the area. This is basically what Nathan makes reference to in his essay. The southern one (that goes to Prentice) has very little.

        Unfortunately, both loops would go away. That would be a pretty hefty walk for some (https://goo.gl/maps/HaHcYfoNYrbPRrBB7). Still not huge numbers of people, but those folks live in apartments, or work in retail. These are folks who use transit. By no means does this mean we should keep either loop, but I feel it is important to differentiate the two. I’m not sure the best way to serve Rainier Avenue south of Henderson, but I believe it should be served, if we move the 7. The Waters/Prentice loop, on the other hand, is all about coverage, and I feel is less important (rush-hour only service may be adequate, like the 17).

        How best to serve this part of Rainier Avenue is a bit of a challenge. As it stands right now, the loop functions well, but it isn’t perfect. Most of time (when it isn’t serving the Prentice Loop) the bus lays over on Henderson, half way between Rainier Avenue and 52nd. When it starts up again, the bus loops around. But right now it means that people have to walk from the bus to their destination (https://goo.gl/maps/zhQ7UJgkXrepjjF29) but get to enjoy the loop on their way out (https://goo.gl/maps/FhEqBf3VnJyEcPRZ6). This is where a live loop would be fantastic, but of course, unrealistic. So while it is served, it is only served in a half-ass fashion (making the loss of service less severe).

        In any event, there are alternatives. The 106, which is on Rainer Avenue very briefly, could continue on Rainier a little bit farther instead of going down 51st. That seems like robbing Peter to pay Paul, as 51st has some multi-family housing. There is also no good way to head south, which explains why the half-hour version of the 7 goes on Waters.

        I think the only way to cover the area is with a tail of either the 50 or 9 (or both, or something similar). Personally I would just run the 50 down there, maybe with improvements elsewhere (as we’ve discussed for the 50) and run it every 15 to 20 minutes. The 9 should be restructured out of existence.

    2. I routinely walk 0.7-0.9 miles to a transit station to save a connection. It’s good exercise and, even if the bus runs every 10 minutes, often faster.

      You can even try jogging it and get from home to Link station in about 5-7 minutes, everyday, no matter what the traffic. If it’s too much at first, just try jogging a small section of the trip and gradually build it up. It’s also a great way to keep warm during the winter, even when it’s raining.

    3. Right, and this is exactly why the route should end at the Rainier Beach Station. Of course there are drawbacks, but there would be benefits as well. You don’t mention why you are taking Link (to the airport, for example) but it is unrealistic to assume that everyone can just walk to Link (sorry asdf2 — it just takes too long). Rainier and MLK, in general, are too far apart — a situation made worse with the infrequent stop spacing of Link (its over a mile walk if you live up Orcas). Keep in mind, this is from Rainier Avenue — its worse if you are to the east.

      The Prentice Loop is obviously not as strong as the rest of the route, otherwise it would have better frequency. It runs every half hour — a situation that complicates the route, and probably only results in relatively minor savings. But it isn’t worth running the bus there every ten minutes, since it can’t pick up enough riders. Connecting to Link would likely result in better ridership.

      That being said, the tail is probably worth serving. One option would be to extend the 50. Instead of laying over at Othello, it would layover at Prentice. This is a bit farther, but not expensive, since the 50 doesn’t run very often.

      This would open up further restructures, especially for the 106. It could overlap the 7, by turning on Othello, instead of Henderson (like so: https://goo.gl/maps/mFJSmr2MiriYmDNT8). This overlap would provide a one-seat connection between a different part of the south end of Rainier Valley with Renton (as to whether that would be better or worse, I don’t know). Another alternative is basically the opposite: have the 106 stay on Renton Avenue to Henderson, at the expense of the connection to the high school. Or you just leave those alone. The point being, this would enable other changes, while still providing a coverage bus for the Prentice area.

  6. In the Urbanist piece as well as comments from others, it’s the loss of limited service (combined with fare enforcement issues) that is driving much of the dislike.

    It’s 7 miles from Downtown to Rainier Beach Safeway. Unlike the RapidRide C and E services on 99 that have long stretches of few or no stops and higher speed lanes, Rainier Ave is a vibrant urban street most of its length set at 25 mph. That really sets the stage for both local and limited service needs rather than a one route fits all approach..

    1. I agree. Keep the 7 but add back the old 9 as a RapidRide overlay that goes up Boren to SLU, ending at Denny Station maybe.

    2. It’s 7 miles from Downtown to Rainier Beach Safeway.

      Its also about 7 miles from Aurora Village to Green Lake.

      Unlike the RapidRide C and E services on 99 that have long stretches of few or no stops and higher speed lanes, Rainier Ave is a vibrant urban street most of its length set at 25 mph.

      Making the case for a 7 express *weaker* than an E Express. Consider:

      1) There are more stops on the E than the 7. Thus there are more stops to skip.

      2) Skipping stops on Aurora dramatically increases the speed of the bus. Skipping stops on Rainier Avenue does not. As you noted, much of the time, the maximum speed is 25 MPH. Slowing down from 40 MPH is a lot bigger deal than slowing down from 25 MPH.

      3) A vibrant urban street is going to have people taking trips to lots of different places. This is different than, say, the freeway, where park-and-ride users are all trying to get downtown.

      4) The E already has an express (the 301). The time savings are dramatic, not only because of the skipped stopped, but because it uses the freeway. But again, we can’t justify running it more often, because it doesn’t have anywhere near the ridership of the E. You could do the same with the 7 except the 7 isn’t very peak oriented (again suggesting that a lot of the trips don’t involve going downtown).

      Look, it is an easy thing to propose from an abstract standpoint. I’ve tried to argue against it from an abstract standpoint, but it gets complicated, because I have to argue against every possible idea. So let me ask you some particulars:

      1) Where would the express stop? (you don’t have to precise — just a rough idea, stop spacing would be sufficient).
      2) How often would it run?
      3) How much faster would it be?
      4) How often would the old 7 run?

      Remember, the 7 runs every 10 minutes during the day, and every 15 minutes at night. So every time you run an express, you cut into the frequency of the local. Run the express every half hour, and the local runs every fifteen minutes in the day time, and every half hour at night.

      I don’t want to put you on the spot, but when you start talking about cutting service on the 7 (which is essentially what you are proposing) it just won’t work. I contend that any proposal would result in a system that would be less popular and carry fewer riders. Put the stops really far apart, and the vast majority of riders continue to use the regular 7, which now comes less often. Put the stops a little closer together, and the express is not much faster. Either way, even if you are sitting at a stop served by both buses, what you gain in speed you lose in frequency. But again, show me your proposal, as it is much easier to explain why a specific proposal will fail.

      There is a huge amount of research and science regarding stop spacing, as well as articles that leverage those reports (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/). To quote from that second article:

      For the most part, the optimal average spacing between bus stops is 400-500 meters. North American transit agencies have standardized on a bus stop every 200-250 meters, so stop consolidation is usually a very good idea.

      This is the fundamental problem. Americans (and Canadians, I suppose) are used to their bus stops being close together, even when they shouldn’t be. This is a problem, and so agencies just give up, and run expresses over the top. They go to the other extreme with the expresses, of course, which is to have them a kilometer (or more) apart. On a route that is relatively short, without a huge range in stop popularity, this is going to fail. The only reason agencies try this is to avoid political fall out. This is a very bad idea. You end up with a crappy system with lower ridership all because folks don’t want to change things.

  7. I think Seattle should take a look at the LA Dash/ Metro Rapid model of service. LA has limited stop Rapid routes operated by LAMTA and city-funded neighborhood circulators called Dash that carry shorter trips but at much lower fares.

    Free or low-fare circulator shuttle routes between Judkins Park and Edmunds Street, and between Orcas and Rainier Beach that also connect to MLK and Link would make RapidRide R more palatable and could let Metro further reduce the number of stops.

      1. Do you happen to know what the stop spacing is for any of these (in numbers)? I don’t know if L. A. is like most North American cities in that they have stops 200-250 feet apart, or if they are like the rest of the world, at 400-500 meters.

        It seems quite possible these new routes (neither express, nor a “regular bus”) have spacing that is considered the world standard. This would be like RapidRide, as they are usually around 400 meters (to match the street grid).

      2. A very important element to my post is the LADOT Dash system. It offers lower fares for short distances!

        Seattle has recently played around with Via. And let’s be honest that Via is implicitly a way to avoid riding the bus with “those people” in many parts of SE Seattle. It smacks of a service for the well-to-do residents near Lake Washington rather than those that need it along Rainier Avenue. It’s also much costlier per rider than a neighborhood shuttle would be.

        If this element is in place, then it would be easier to Metro to reduce stops on Rainier Avenue and enable the conversion to RapidRide easier. Given the cost differential, it may be possible to make the shuttles completely free and still be cheaper than operating Via.

      3. “let’s be honest that Via is implicitly a way to avoid riding the bus with “those people” in many parts of SE Seattle.”

        Is it? What facts do we know about who’s riding it, to where, and why? Or are so few people riding it that it makes pratically no difference? I recall that it gets 3-4 riders per hour, twice as many as average demand-response services, but far lower than a fixed-route bus (which are over 10 per hour, or in the worst cases approaching that). If there are three cars, that means they’re carrying 9-12 people per hour. That’s a drop in the bucket in a district of tens of thousands of people.

        “It smacks of a service for the well-to-do residents near Lake Washington rather than those that need it along Rainier Avenue.

        It’s for locations that are hard to serve with a fixed-route bus, because they’re low density, in a cul-de-sac, or far from a shopping center, and either have no bus within walking distance or one that’s very infrequent or runs only part-time. Lake Washington is one of those areas.

        Via is restricted to frips to/from a Link station. In Rainier Valley, that’s predominantly east-west trips. So it’s competing with the 50, not the 7 and 106. The 50’s ridership is probably far whiter than the rest of the valley, and often there are only one or two passengers so you practically have the bus to yourself. So it’s not one people would be fleeing from.

        There are also corridors that are missing a bus like Graham Street, and some people make diagonal trips that are time-consuming on existing routes.

  8. The biggest de facto benefit of RapidRide is guaranteed minimum frequency. The predecessors of the C, D, and E were half-hourly evenings. In the recession/covid cuts, they’ve escaped the frequency reductions that other routes have.

    The second biggest benefit is transit/BAT lanes and signal priority, which allow buses to get through traffic and make them more competitive with driving. So many people don’t take buses because it takes too long to get anywhere or they can’t fit as many activities into the day. Metro/SDOT’s record has been spotty with this. The A and E have full BAT lanes outside Seattle, but none of the routes inside Seattle do.

    The 7 is the most unusual route in the city in having such high frequency and 24-hour service for so long. So if the local residents don’t want RapidRide, it wouldn’t be such a loss to put that line last. But that doesn’t mean cancelling all unbuilt RapidRide Lines, because other areas don’t have the existing service the 7 has.

    1. RapidRide usually comes with lots of things. But there are plenty of other routes that have those things as well. These include bus/BAT lanes and high frequency. If you look at the 40, for example (https://seattletransitblog.com/2020/03/06/sdot-plans-route-40-improvements/), it will be improved quite a bit (not unlike if it was converted to RapidRide). But it could still use a bit of a stop diet (as I mentioned in the comments). There is no reason why the city couldn’t do that at the same time, but for whatever reason, they don’t. Of the various ways to improve a route, I would say the following:

      1) BAT Lanes — Common outside RapidRide
      2) High Frequency — Common outside RapidRide
      3) Stop Diet — Rare outside of RapidRide
      4) Off board payment — Exclusive to RapidRide
      5) Signal Priority — ??
      6) Branding — Exclusive to RapidRide
      7) Funding — Exclusive to RapidRide
      8) Restructure — Common outside RapidRide
      9) Fancy Stations — Rare outside of RapidRide

      Converting the 7 to RapidRide is likely the only way we get off-board payment, a relatively minor stop diet and additional funding. It is easy to argue that the restructure is the most important part — although it is the most controversial. That’s what’s funny about this — the part people seem to object to the most is the part that could easily happen with RapidRide. Metro could decide to restructure the 7, and send it to Rainier Beach Station without converting it to RapidRide.

  9. As usual Nathan’s perspective was refreshing and enlightening. I learned from it.

    The essay is titled “It’s Complicated” which basically sums it up.

    Do white people like red Metro buses more than green Metro buses? You bet.
    Is the whole “RapidRide” branding a big part of that? Absolutely.

      1. Exactly. The idea that white people feel more comfortable on the E instead of the 5 is absurd. The only reason people like the E is that it is fast and frequent (which is also true of the 5).

      2. There are a LOT of white people who have stereotypes against buses. Branding such as ‘RapidRide’ gets more white people to ride the bus.

        This isn’t rocket science. I’ve had it said to my face multiple times in West Seattle. “Only ride the red buses.” That’s a quote.

  10. Double standard. We condemn other neighborhoods for complaining about transit, but we pull our punches when it’s the RV.

    1. I haven’t pulled any punches. I like Nathan, but I think he is completely wrong here, and is arrogantly trying to speak for a community (while at the same time claiming that he isn’t trying to speak for a community). A handful of people complain, and suddenly its a bad idea. Sorry, no. Every time they have a stop diet people complain. Every time they restructure a route, they complain. But if they do it right, then folks are happy afterwards, and find something else to complain about (and there is always something to complain about).

  11. It’s pretty cynical when the major reason for doing RapidRide is to access federal funds. How about allowing for federal funds to support service improvements like BAT lanes without all the other bells and whistles? And stop diets within reason can be done incrementally so they don’t attract too much opposition. How about setting a 1/4 mile standard and working over a mile a year?

    1. I agree. The federal transit system is messed up. I would imagine it grew out of capital funding for big projects (matching funds and the like). Build a new subway line, and the feds will pay for a lot of it. Then, rightly, folks had “BRT” ideas. Some of these (like a bus tunnel) are very expensive, and having the feds pay for a portion of that bus tunnel makes as much sense as paying for a portion of the train tunnel. But now we have agencies basically painting a few buses red, throwing some paint on the street, and asking for funding.

      I’m just guessing the history, but the system encourages bullshit improvements. The feds should just give grants to cities. If they want to run more buses and trains, great. If they want spend it on capital improvements, that’s find too.

      I also agree with you about the stop diet. That should just be the city standard (as it is the standard for most of the world).

  12. Off-board fare payment is good and has been well-covered by other commenters, so I won’t go over that again. I will note that in a place like Seattle, where wages are among the highest in the world, drivers are going to be more expensive over time, and BRT is ultimately a dead end, because the ratio of drivers to passengers needs to go much lower. We need more (and preferably driverless) trains.

    But, one of the linked articles complains about how Link is basically useless for people along Rainier. And this is totally true, because Mount Baker Station is in the wrong place, and Link makes a pointless, lengthy detour through Sodo.

    The solution to this would be to either 1) do some serious rezoning along MLK (and in Sodo, for that matter), so more people could live there; 2) put another Link line down Rainier (ideally cut-and-cover); or even 3) fix the process that continually results in terrible routing and station location (repeated all over the current and future Link network), and then redo Mount Baker Station all over again. These are complementary improvements, so ideally we could do all three!

    1. The ratio of drivers to passengers is very good on the 7 — much better than most of the buses in our system. You could replace it with a train, but that wouldn’t make things better — it would likely make them worse. First you have the high capital cost. But then, when you are done, you have a vehicle that is more expensive to run than the bus. You could save by automating it, but driver cost is only one cost (you need to maintain the track, the trains, etc.). You would run fewer trains, but not that many fewer. The 7 has very good all-day ridership, and is not especially peak oriented. Before the pandemic, it ran every 8-10 minutes during rush hour, and every 10 minutes during the day. If you went with Link stop spacing, you then have to run a shadow, which would probably pick up about as many riders (ridership there is not “spiky”). It all ends up costing *more*. There are a lot of reasons to invest in a train, but maintenance savings isn’t one of them.

      As far as Link being “useless” for those on Rainier, that isn’t entirely true. It is useful for getting to Beacon Hill and the airport (and in both cases would be better if the transfer was better). But most people are headed towards downtown (or just going along Rainier) and it just isn’t worth switching to the train. This is understandable, and just the result of geography, not a major weakness in Link (lots of people take buses in New York, after all). It isn’t worth working your way over to Link when the bus will get you there — and runs just as frequently most of the day. By the time the two routes overlap, you are practically there (its not worth the bother, especially since it is not a trivial transfer). My guess is things won’t change much with East Link, either. Its why someone who boards the 10 at Volunteer Park doesn’t bother taking Link to get downtown — it just isn’t worth the hassle.

      So basically, there is nothing that really needs to be solved. But as to your ideas:

      1) Do some serious rezoning along MLK (and in Sodo, for that matter), so more people could live there. Generally speaking, the area has been rezoned. Development took a while in places for complicated reasons (https://publicola.com/2017/09/07/why-are-there-so-many-vacant-properties-near-rainier-beach-light-rail-station/). Since that article was written, there has been plenty of development. But the lack thereof it not really about zoning (you can lead a horse to water…). Anyway, there are plenty of people along both corridors.

      3) Fix the process that continually results in terrible routing and station location (repeated all over the current and future Link network), and then redo Mount Baker Station all over again. To dream, the impossible dream… Yeah, anyway, I think things will actually improve a little bit. They aren’t going to move the station, but when they finally redo the roadway, they are likely to improve pedestrian access (which would make it easier to get to the station). I could see some other, fairly cheap things. Even if it was a painless transfer though, I wonder how many people would make it. The 106 runs the entire line of Link in Rainier Valley. It would be reasonable to get off at Rainier Beach (a very easy transfer) and then just wait for the train. But my guess is people don’t do that, unless the train is running very frequently, and even then, lots of people still won’t do it. It would be interesting to see the numbers though (to see if lots of people get off inbound at Rainier Beach).

  13. “What’s the point of RapidRide?”

    Yah, good question.

    I’ll posit that the answer is two-fold:

    1) Maintain a little cachet for Metro in a Link world, and

    2) Tap into the Federal funding stream.

    Consider that prior to Link there were only two major cities on all of the North American west Coast that didn’t have rail transit – Seattle and Tijuana, Mex. What distinguished Seattle was that they had this unique piece of infrastructure called the “bus tunnel”.

    Even though they were never able to actually operate it at the promised capacity, the bus tunnel was the crown jewel in Metro’s KC crown. But when Link opened they lost their crown jewel, and the public focus shifted to LR. What is a former great transit agency to do?

    RapidRide!

    RapidRide looks sort of like rail, has some rail like features, and even allows passengers to board at any door just like rail. And has real rail-like fare inspectors. But it really isn’t that “rapid”, and one has to wonder if the minor improvements are really worth the cost.

    The second reason for RapidRide is maybe more important. If Metro can truly get more Federal funding by painting their buses a different color, allowing people to board at any door, and rebranding them as “Rapid”, then maybe that is enough. But color me skeptical. Eventually facts and data will rear their ugly head.

    So, ya, funding…maybe that is the point of RapidRide. Because it is hard to get money for an X route or a BAT lane, but rebrand it as RapidRide and it is like mana from heaven. Or something like that.

    Note: I once got off the D and started walking because it was faster. Such situations don’t build confidence in “RapidRide”, and lead to general skepticism of BRT. That is not good in the long term.

    1. Even though they were never able to actually operate it at the promised capacity, the bus tunnel was the crown jewel in Metro’s KC crown.

      Citation please. My understanding is that the tunnel could have handled a lot more buses. I’m also pretty sure that daily rail passengers through the tunnel still hasn’t exceeded the numbers for buses back in the day. This will probably change with Northgate Link, as Sound Transit finally — finally! — builds the section they should have started with (U-District to downtown).

      Anyway, Metro, for all its faults, still carries way more riders than Link. This will continue … well, likely forever. I can imagine a train system that would carry the bulk of the transit riders — it would even be smaller than what they are building — but that isn’t what they are after. Sound Transit is all about symbolism (Everett to Tacoma!) — the very thing you are accusing Metro of.

      Oh, and Sound Transit gets federal funding as well, even when they make big mistakes. So yeah, you are right — both agencies are guilty of building wasteful things, knowing full well that the feds will pay for a good chunk of it.

      The idea that Metro (or the city) should focus on a handful of routes and give them extra treatment is not that crazy, especially given Sound Transit’s weakness is providing something similar. RapidRide+ is a good example of that (https://seattletransitblog.com/2015/12/21/rapidride-the-corridors/). These would be core routes — similar to what other cities build subways for (instead of running them out to Fife). The buses would be faster and more frequent. Of course they wouldn’t be as fast as real BRT (or a real subway) but they could be a lot faster than a regular bus, and in many cases, faster than driving most of the day.

      Unfortunately, they ran across many problems. Investments are completely dependent on the city (which mostly means Seattle). The funding for RapidRide+ fell short — way short. There are competing interests (e. g. for the 70, bike lanes). There is still a lot of potential with a lot of the routes (including the 70). Off board-payment, lots of bus lanes, and most importantly, high frequency (another thing ST struggles with). There is a lot of potential, but I’m not sure if it will be realized, given the same sort of politics that dragged down ST.

      Somewhere along the line RapidRide became a little treat to give out, much like ST gives out rail (here you go, Issaquah!). Now, rather than a handful of core routes that dominate ridership, we have a whole alphabet of RapidRide routes, scattered around town. The 7 waits, as does the 40 and 8. Despite being the most cost effective routes, they wait their turn, while Kent and Auburn get all the improvements.

      This is nuts. Off-board payment is the biggest differentiator for RapidRide. It accounts for much of the cost. It is the one value of the brand (if you arrive at a stop for the E, you know you can pay off-board, and get on at any stop — that is not true of the 5). It makes the most difference (saves the most time) for buses that make lots of stops, with lots of people coming and going at each stop. The 7 is a poster child for such improvements — yet it won’t have them, while we serve areas that probably aren’t worth the effort.

      It is pretty easy to argue that the RapidRide system is a failure. We should adopt all-door boarding system wide. You either pay at the bus stop, or in the middle of the bus. Either way, the bus doesn’t wait for people to pay. All the buses should go on a stop diet, to follow the international standard (400-500 meters) not the North American one (200-250 meters). Bus lanes and BRT lanes should continue to be added (as they are now, for every bus). Frequency should be improved system wide. But the idea of a core set of routes where we focus on these sorts of improvements is not a crazy idea — it has simply transformed into a largely meaningless mess.

  14. A Metro that doesn’t make changes it judges to be broadly acceptable improvements, because there are tradeoffs and losers, is a Metro that can’t improve.

    Exactly, well put. Keep in mind, this is both a restructure, and a RapidRide. The restructure part is likely every bit as controversial (with way more winners and losers) than the RapidRide access of this. The stop diet is fairly minor in comparison, and off-board payment isn’t that controversial (how it is handled is a different issue). But changing a route is bound to have people who come out worse. Still, connecting the southern tail to Link would have more winners than losers, and the part of the 7 that would go away should have coverage from a different route (if anything).

    That said, if the R is relatively unpopular, by all means kick it to the back of the line.

    Sorry, but that is crazy. First of all, there is no reason to believe it is any more or less unpopular than any other change. Even if it was, it doesn’t make sense to delay a restructure, just because part of it is a little less popular. It definitely doesn’t make sense to spend a bunch of money on ORCA readers in some other part of town, when they would do more good, and save people more time here. If we are going to have a RapidRide system, the 7 should be a priority, not be put on the back burner. The 7 should also connect to Link at Rainier Beach, so that riders can get to their job at the airport. The proposal would be a huge improvement for many, and an inconvenience for some, just like every other proposal. The difference is that this would benefit more — a lot more — than just about any RapidRide proposal.

  15. Martin wrote that Metro was going ahead with BAT lanes. The rights of way are the responsibility of the city or SDOT; so, Shoreline and SDOT have provided BAT lines for Route 358/E Line. Seattle has provided some bus lanes and BAT lanes.

    In general, network design is Metro’s responsibility with input from the cities, but lately, Metro has conceded RR phasing to the Seattle Move Seattle lines (e.g., now G, H, J, R, 40, 44, 48); that is why has had to be reset a few times and is delayed.

    BRT was studied in the aughts; planners looked at Vancouver and LA. RR was part of Transit Now, 2006; was it a selling point? The Seattle Monorail Project had just imploded. Transit Now and RR implementation was hindered by the recession. New revenue was needed and found in 2010; that is how the F Line was funded to meet the 40-40-20 requirements of new hours. (subareas were eliminated in 2011).

    STB posters have questioned the value of branding. I assert that the major source of speed improvement for RR is faster fare collection from all-door boarding and alighting at high ridership stops. In a ridership forecast model, the coefficient for branding might be positive, but would be quite small. Please see Translink Route 99B at the Broadway station. in SF Muni, they use network wide proof of payment fare collection with on board transponders. There are several frequent routes that would benefit from faster fare collection and are not targeted to be RR (e.g., routes 36, 106, 5, 21, 45-75, 65-67, 372, 271, 255, 150, 101). Note reset under consideration. Now, due to inadequate service subsidy, as well as capital shortages, the RR schedule is being reset. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wGgAB4qsd4

    The concept if gentrification needs definition. Does it stem from increased land value? The initial Link segment opened during the recession; now, post-recession, in time for another, the market is responding with development. Link is much more powerful for land value than RR. I doubt RR leads to gentrification. has it happened along the A Line; it was first?

    The network design is separate from but related to RR. With or without rebranding Route 7 as the R Line, the Prentice loop could have different or no service. The concepts in Metro Connects are just that and are subject to a public and legislative process and funding. The important investment is trolleybus overhead on South Henderson Street so Route 7 or the R Line can serve the Rainier Beach Link station. SDOT and Metro could not agree on it in the aughts, but did extend routes 14 to Mt. Baker and Route 36 to Othello. A Prentice shuttle could be trolleybus and also serve the station.

    One wonders why ST did not use faster fare collection on its bus lines.

  16. errata
    in the gentrification paragraph “of” instead of “if”.

    SDOT likes lines J and R; they would overlap in downtown Seattle. The first Metro Connects network used Routes 70-7 turnback to Mt. Baker Link and extended Route 48 south to the Rainier Beach Link station. This would have efficiency gains in downtown Seattle.

  17. Longtime 7 rider here. I used to use the I90 stop under the overpass until it closed, with the stop moving 50 yards south still along Rainier.

    No matter the speed and frequency of the buses coming from the south, once they hit Mt Baker and until crossing Jackson, there are a large number, with more coming, of service providers for homeless and addicts. Many of these people use walkers and wheelchairs.

    I can’t count the number of times I beat the bus to Chinatown by walking. Additionally, it’s a rolling mental hospital, with people shooting up, masturbating, doing drug deals and generally being unpleasant to passengers. This is all day.

    The 7 ought to get a reset simply to address the population of the bus, riders versus those who dwell on it.

    1. Ride the A or F Line a few times in the evening, and tell me which set of riders/”dwell”ers bother you worse. I just don’t see RapidRide as necessarily being a way to gentrify a bus route, as that has not happened on most of the other lines, in my limited experience (mostly A and F lines, which I’ve ridden more than a handful of times).

      The C and D lines are more notorious for cracking down on non-payers, but they serve mostly lilly-white neighborhoods. I expect RapidRide R would resemble route 7, A, and F in terms of who rides.

      I do agree, though, that most of the behavior you describe should not be tolerated. That’s where reporting it to stop it comes in, and that approach tends to be more successful than orthagonal approaches.

      1. Thank you for your reply. You’re correct that there are other lines with equally disruptive and disturbing “passengers” who essentially reside on the buses. There are many occasions when I reverse the commute to take the 7 to Link at Mt Baker; the riffraff within the station makes that almost as unpleasant, although the fare beaters have a tougher time on the train than the bus.

        I don’t know what the answer is. The gentrifying comments don’t really make sense to me as you kind of can’t get more blended than a city bus, at least through part of its journey. Even the 550 gets its share of squirrelly riders within Seattle proper.

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