(Part of a series on high-performing transit routes in the Puget Sound region)
Every year, King County Metro provides statistics on their bus services in their System Evaluation, available online. One measure that is presented for all regular bus routes is Rides per Platform Hour. It answers a core question: “how many people does this route serve for each hour a bus spends driving it?” Using this measure, King County Metro can assess the time efficiency of routes and make choices on future service.
Which route performs the best at Rides per Platform Hour? You might be surprised. One might guess that the most time-efficient route would ply the densest parts of Seattle, where there is the highest concentration of riders. But this would be incorrect. In fact, the best performing route on this measure is RapidRide A, which connects Federal Way to Tukwila along Pacific Highway South (SR99). Not only does it have the most Riders per Platform Hour at both peak and off-peak weekday times – that means Monday through Friday, 5 am to 10 pm – it also performs well on nights and weekends. Altogether, RapidRide A serves 7,116 rides per weekday, which is 4th among all Metro bus routes.
|Day||Period||Rides per Platform Hour||Rank among Metro bus routes|
|Peak (5-9am, 3-7pm)||36.8||1st|
|Weekday||Off-Peak (9am-3pm, 7-10pm)||33.1||1st|
I took a drive down Pacific Highway at Saturday noontime to witness this unsuspecting ridership champion. As I drove south from Tukwila, I quickly reached the airport. Nearby, leafy hotel plots and office parks flanked the road. On this bright but overcast day, there were plenty of people out-and-about, walking on the sidewalks. “Probably out-of-towners,” I thought, off on a lark from their hotels. But I was surprised to see that the pedestrian traffic sustained even once I had gotten beyond the airport. People were walking the sidewalks on either side of the seven-lane highway. What was fascinating to me was the seeming contradiction between the built environment and what I perceived on the ground: the amount of people that travel through the area on foot or transit.
Most of South King County is zoned in the suburban pattern of separating residential from commercial land uses and multifamily housing from single-family housing. The few areas for mixed uses are often concentrated on busy roads, like Pacific Highway. There are significant downsides with placing mixed uses on busy highways. For one, these “stroads” are unsafe. In cities in South King County, pedestrian fatalities have almost tripled in the past decade, according to the Urbanist and Washington State DOT. In addition, development that stretches along busy roads tends to be less compact overall, which means longer walks for pedestrians. This is particularly a problem in places of low income, where the average person is less likely to have access to a car. The success of RapidRide A consists largely in serving this challenging development pattern efficiently.
First, the direct routing of the A on Pacific Highway works in its favor to make it both useful and fast. The suburban development pattern described above, though posing significant costs to pedestrians, concentrates diverse uses on a continuous corridor. Pacific Highway is the longest corridor with reasonable foot access to services in south King County (as can be seen in a WalkScore map of the area). By serving this entire corridor, the A connects many destinations where people may need to go, and its arrow-straight routing saves time that could be lost on turns and detours.
The A is also aided by the technological and infrastructure amenities associated with RapidRide service. Off-board fare payment speeds boarding. The route uses Business Access and Transit (BAT) lanes that extend for most of the corridor and seem to remain reasonably clear of traffic. RapidRide A stops about every 2,000 feet, compared to a typical local bus, for which about 1,200 feet is common. It may mean longer walks for passengers, but the entire corridor is still accessible with a quarter-mile walk or less. Meanwhile, fewer stops mean higher speeds and greater reliability.
As a result of these factors, the bus can get travel its 10.9 mile route in 42 minutes at noon time. For comparison, the “7” – a local route – takes 41 minutes to travel 6.4 miles down Rainier and Jackson – a 40% slower average speed. Overall, RapidRide A provides a service that is speedy enough to compete with driving. It goes directly where people need to go, and its strong ridership and productivity statistics throughout the week attest to its usefulness. It seems undeniable that the A makes Pacific Highway a more walkable, productive, and vibrant place than it would be otherwise.
With continued investments in traffic safety and transit, hopefully RapidRide A can continue to fulfill people’s transportation needs for years to come. RapidRide A is itself an example of a smart investment. When it began in 2010 as the first in the RapidRide program, it took advantage of existing HOV lanes on SR99 and the connection to the then-new Central Link light rail. 13 years later, its success continues to provide lessons to transit planners and advocates on how to invest in effective transportation. Soon, another investment will reshape the area: the Federal Way Link extension is currently scheduled to finish in 2025.
137 Replies to “The Surprising Efficiency of RapidRide A”
I’ve taken this from almost end to end at night when I’ve missed the 574. A slow boat, but a workhorse, for sure. Surprisingly well used, even late-night.
Almost wish it made it Tacoma.
Great post! I’ve always liked the A. I like that it stays on Pac Hwy, and doesn’t zig zag its way down the road. The B Line crisscrosses the same north/south line 5 times from Bellevue to Redmond. And, Pac Hwy, even during peak hours, in most places isn’t heavily congested. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens to A Line ridership after FW Link opens.
I’ve taken the A between Federal Way and SeaTac a few times when I didn’t want to wait for the 574. Travel time was half an hour, which isn’t bad, and I’ve never seen it bogged down in traffic.
When Link starts it will receive the pent-up demand for more frequent express trips, but that’s probably a small fraction of A trips. What typically happens when you add a frequent limited-stop overlay is an initial loss on the local route, but then both routes increase ridership. Because now the area is more transit-accessible, and relatively more transit-accessible than other areas (like Kent and Auburn). But the A has already gotten most of its ridership boost over the past decade (compared to the previous 174), so future gains will be slow and gradual. The future TOD at Federal Way and Kent’s side of 99, and more future retail at Federal Way, will probably boost both lines. Tukwila is also pushing to extend the A north to an emerging village at 144th and future BAR station.
The main point is that Link doesn’t replace the A. The A serves in-between stops like neighborhood shopping centers. If you want to go to Angle Lake Park, it’s one stop north of the Link station.
I suspect the A is also used by visitors staying at airport hotels, who can take it to dinner or entertainment or groceries. In a strange city it’s easier to trust a line that’s frequent all day and evening and runs 24 hours so you won’t get stuck somewhere, and most (all?) stations have a map of the line and a schematic of all the stops.
“The B Line crisscrosses the same north/south line 5 times from Bellevue to Redmond.”
The Eastside has no street like Pacific Highway. Pac Highway is long and straight and has multifamily-and-retail uses all along it, and is denser than any of the surrounding neighborhoods. The closest in the Eastside is probably Bellevue Way, but it’s shorter. Then you’ve got a disconnected island at Crossroads that must be served, and you need something between the two. Then you have to get to downtown Kirkland and Redmond, going through residential/office areas that lack a supermarket or other retail.
Mike, that sentence doesn’t need to be refuted or explained. I wasn’t questioning why the B Line crisscrosses the same line 5 times. I was saying that the A Line, in contrast to a route like the B Line, is refreshing in its simplicity. The fact that many routes need to detour from a straight line goes without saying.
I’ve noticed that the drivers on SR 99 between 320th and 188th ignore the BAT lane restrictions often. Is this a speed problem for buses? Should enforcement increase?
Please double check your assertion about BAT lanes. SR-99 in south King County may have HOV lanes. They should probably be shifted to BAT lanes. They have painted diamonds for HOV; the occasional sign has emblems for bus and carpool and words allowing right turns.
In general, the productivity of two-way all-day frequent routes in South King County and the Seattle core fell less with Covid and recovered more after Covid.
Sam: Link will be several years away; I expect the A Line productivity to increase; Link will make the local network more powerful; the A Line and Link will complement one another as they do at the three existing Link stations.
I’m pretty sure those are (all?) HOV lanes.
The federal way ones https://www.cityoffederalway.com/page/pacific-highway-south-hov-lanes-phase-v-s-359th-street-s-340th-street and also just spot checked on google maps.
Actually a transit/hov map might be an interesting thing to make. SF has a transit lane map https://data.sfgov.org/Transportation/Map-of-Transit-Only-Lanes/6zeq-tp86 and there’s the seattle area hov/express lane map for freeways; but I don’t think there’s a corresponding map for transit lanes or hov lanes on regular streets/avenues.
Regardless if it’s an HOV or BAT lane, I’ve witnessed many solo drivers in them.
Thanks for pointing this out. I’ll see if I can correct the post with accurate information on the lanes.
The A Line comes in #1 as the bus route I ride most (and not just drive along to admire) that does not connect to my neighborhood.
I can easily see likely reasons it would be so popular at night: Shift workers, lots of young riders, families, people who are likely to be transit-dependent due to economic demographics, some who appear to be self-employed, some who are busy being primary caregivers and don’t mind wheeling their charges around on transit, and a general welcoming attitude that lots of riders of color might not find on whiter, more uptight buses. I say this as one of the more uptight riders just trying to keep my head above the possibility of COVID, by standing most of the time I am on that bus.
There seems to be some correlation between the buses with the highest proportion of riders of color and especially African Americans, and the buses with the highest ridership.
The A Line has multiple strong anchors, including the 1 Line connections, the airport, Highline College / WSU – Des Moines, at least one high school, the major public library for the region, downtown Federal Way, street-facing multi-story residential buildings, most of the multi-family housing in the region within walking distance of a stop, most of the major grocery stores in the area that are still in business, and scenic views.
And, oh yeah, it is fast, with stop spacing generally four blocks and occasionally eight blocks.
If I were in charge of service investments, I would choose this line as one for experimenting in all-day seven-day frequency matching the 1 Line, and usable frequency overnight, as in at least four times an hour, for a preponderance of reasons including all the 24/7/365 employers (especially the airport), the need for usable 1-Line shadow service, and as the best candidate for a demonstration project that frequent-night-owl service can work when it is given enough frequency to be useful.
The one investment that I think could make it faster would be off-board payment infrastructure at all stops, so the bus never has to dwell for long lines of change fumblers. Get the fare payment completely out of the way of the bus moving even faster.
There is also the Redondo Heights Park & Ride. I have not observed this stop being stronger than others. I would love to see the Redondo Heights surface parking sewer replaced with serious street-facing TOD with first floor community services, not just businesses.
I see the A Line as not just a major accomplishment, but also a place for multiple major opportunities.
Metro’s 2022 system evaluation report in the first link has a lot of interesting information on post-covid ridership at different parts of the day, routes needing reliability improvements, the partial shift of service hours from peak hours to all-day service, and an equity analysis.
Can you guess which route needs the most additional weekend runs to reach its target level of weekend service? It’s the 271. It needs more than twice as many runs as other weekend routes.
An addition of 7 trips per hour on Saturday and Sunday on the 630 is something that I would dream for, but I am surprised that it is in the service growth table. Probably a little luxurious to have with some duplication to east link, but it would be very nice to have a bus coming every 8-9 minutes to bring the Mercer Islanders to downtown, first hill and central library.
The 630 really does not duplicate East Link except perhaps for crossing the I-90 bridge, but “duplication” has more to do with the stops at the ends of the route.
East Link has one stop on MI while the 630 has numerous stops. East Link goes to downtown Seattle while the 630 goes to First Hill where most Islanders on the 630 are going. I doubt many are going to the library or downtown, because today the park and ride has plenty of space and several buses stop frequently on MI that go to downtown but folks going to First Hill prefer the 630. MI has a library, a clean and safe one. No one is going to downtown Seattle these days, certainly not from MI. Islanders on the 630 are not discretionary riders. They have no choice. The entire point is they don’t want to go downtown on transit, and then transfer standing on a city street, but their jobs in healthcare don’t allow WFH and employers won’t provide them with subsidized parking.
The additional service may be due to the city subsidizing the 630. The cost per rider today according to Ross’s research is around $4.30/trip, pretty close to the fare (and likely cheaper than East Link per trip). Weekend service recognizes healthcare workers work weekends too, and those riders don’t want to transfer in downtown Seattle on the weekends any more than they do on weekdays.
It would be nice if Link went to First Hill but it doesn’t, just like East Link doesn’t go to Bellevue Way hence the 554, and it would be nice if downtown Seattle was a safe place to wait for a bus to First Hill but it is not. I also think it would be nice if the employers on First Hill that benefit from the city of MI subsidizing the 630 subsidized it but the hospital industry is close to collapse, Seattle has no money apparently to contribute, N KC refuses to contribute to cross lake ST express buses, and MI doesn’t have the pull a city like Issaquah does in having ST pay for the 554 running to Bellevue Way but no one wants their spouse or loved one standing on a corner at 3rd and James waiting for a bus to First Hill.
Thank you Daniel and Steve for finally stating a discussion on the route 630. I don’t understand why everyone is talking about the A Line.
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Sam.
Sam, maybe Steve placed his comment in the wrong thread (think there are five going now), but Jesus how much can be said about the A line? The article pretty much said it all: ironically a route along a highway in S. King Co. with long stop spacing in traditional suburban use zoning is one of the most efficient. Go figure.
After that the comments are just people wanting to hear themselves speak or argue with one another, or comment on HOV vs. BAT lanes, the B line in Bellevue and how — amazingly — it has a different routing than the A line, offboard payments on (some) RR, how to use Google search, the 7 opposed to the A line (no shit), platform boardings per hour vs. rider miles or platform miles.
If there is one part of the article, I thought was particularly interesting it was:
“Most of South King County is zoned in the suburban pattern of separating residential from commercial land uses and multifamily housing from single-family housing. The few areas for mixed uses are often concentrated on busy roads, like Pacific Highway. There are significant downsides with placing mixed uses on busy highways. For one, these “stroads” are unsafe. In cities in South King County, pedestrian fatalities have almost tripled in the past decade, according to the Urbanist and Washington State DOT. In addition, development that stretches along busy roads tends to be less compact overall, which means longer walks for pedestrians. This is particularly a problem in places of low income, where the average person is less likely to have access to a car. The success of RapidRide A consists largely in serving this challenging development pattern efficiently.”
So ridership on the A is contrary to what many on this blog would project based on the zoning.
As the author writes:
“First, the direct routing of the A on Pacific Highway works in its favor to make it both useful and fast. The suburban development pattern described above, though posing significant costs to pedestrians, concentrates diverse uses on a continuous corridor.”
Now that second sentence may sound like a tautology. The “costs to pedestrians” (walking distance, first/last mile access) are inherent in RR stop spacing which the author notes is the prime benefit of the A line, but it is the segregated use zoning that CONDENSES these uses into the A line’s route. My complaint for a long time is Seattle has dispersed its retail and commercial (jobs) density — and urbanists of all people want to further disperse housing density — so the kind of efficiency for the A line is not possible despite the much higher density in “downtown” Seattle.
People in S. King Co. don’t have a lot of money so take transit, the A line is fast because of its direct route along 99 because folks on transit, just like driving, are going from A to B, the long stop spacing for RR makes it fast but you probably have to walk farther, and the segregated use zoning is why a rider (or driver) can get to commercial and retail density along the A’s route despite S. King Co. not really having the retail or commercial density for the huge area.
It is the same on the eastside: a huge area without the population for retail or commercial everywhere, so unless you condense the use zoning –mainly by SFH zoning because you want exclusionary zoning in this case — you will never create the retail and commercial density for a route like the A line so will never get the same efficiency because folks are not riding transit for fun, and usually want to walk to more than one retail or commercial activity at their stop, especially with the stop spacing on RR. The only major difference between east and south KC is wealth, so more eastsiders drive, but they still want the retail and commercial density that comes from “traditional suburban” (really segregated use) zoning.
Too bad they built East Link where the folks and businesses are not, hence buses like the 554 which will be as packed and efficient as the A.
DT: I noticed the discrepancy between what is often advocated on this blog and the good performance of the A line, too, but I would offer two possible retorts to that:
1. The performance of the A could be “in spite of” the counterintuitive setup, not because of it;
2. There could be confounding factors (the relative lower income of the residents in that area, as an example).
The observation of the correlation between the two, which you made, is reasonable; but, as it is often said, correlation does not imply causation, and so I would caution you against drawing the causal connection without further proof.
> So ridership on the A is contrary to what many on this blog would project based on the zoning.
No it is as expected? A straight route along density with a college. The density calculation depend on what is next to the stations/stops not what is farther away.
If anything I think a large misconception is that the corridor is denser than most people think it has. But this is not typical in other suburbs
> My complaint for a long time is Seattle has dispersed its retail and commercial (jobs) density — and urbanists of all people want to further disperse housing density
I’m not sure what you are referring to? Seattles upzoning for apartments are mainly around the urban village concept or also along arterial corridors.
Also sfh upzoning to townhouses isn’t going to suddenly mean there’s no demand to build apartments.
I am only touching on the service growth part of the system evaluation report and Mike stating 271 needing more than twice at many runs. That’s when I looked across the table and found the surprise of 630
The A Line, in some ways, is the type of route alignment many here argue for. Whenever a commenter says buses shouldn’t detour into Bellevue College, or the VA, or the old Houghton P&R, or NW Hospital, etc., they are arguing to make the route more efficient. I may personally disagree with eliminating some of those detours, but I acknowledge it’s being done with the goal of greater efficiency. In the past, I’ve questioned eliminating the Bellevue College detour, but, hypocritically, I think it’s a good thing the A Line doesn’t detour into Highline College.
Anonymouse, you only have to read the PSRC’s 2035 and 2050 Vision Statements to understand the “causation” they are trying to create by zoning.
People can walk only so far. Experts put that distance at around 1/4 mile for transit, around the same for retail. So if you want to live without a car (and most don’t) you need three things within 1/4 mile: housing, transit, retail. commerce (jobs).
That means you have to “condense” those three things within 1/4 mile of one another, or figure out another form of first/last mile access. The reality is even along the A there isn’t enough retail/commerce for every stop although unfortunately every stop is zoned for those so Hwy 99 is pretty dispersed.
The PSRC’s vision — pre-pandemic based on crazy future population growth estimates — was “mixed use zoning”, or TOD. Since every area was already zoned, and development had followed that use zoning for decades, and transit can service only a tiny fraction of huge areas like East KC, either the transit has to go where the retail/commerce is because these areas had condensed retail and commerce in town centers because it was the only way to condense them and create walkable retail and commercial, or they had to go where transit was or would be.
The biggest problem with much of Link is ST thought Link was so transformational retail and housing density would come to Link stations. Instead WFH is transformational. Still, the PSRC vision makes sense — depending on population — because if folks can or will only walk 1/4 mile, and there isn’t enough retail or commercial for an entire area, you have to condense all three within 1/4 mile, which is tough (unless the station is a transfer intercept or park and ride like S. Bellevue).
The RR A runs along a highway. Retail and commercial are condensed by zoning along that route because buses run on roads, and direct, fast RR like the A run on highways because highways are faster BECAUSE that land was not valuable because folks don’t want to live along Hwy 99 so it was zoned retail/commercial (and in S KC pretty shlocky). Urbanists would tell you the A should not be efficient because of the lack of one of the three legs: housing density. But it is.
It is pretty easy to condense retail and commercial and transit, especially on land people don’t want to live near. That is the RR A. But not housing. The reason the A is efficient is not because folks want to live along its route or Hwy 99, but because retail and commercial were condensed along Hwy 99 because it is a highway and people don’t like to live next to a highway so cities zoned that land for retail and commercial (and sometimes very low-income housing).
The reality is at least on the eastside most residents can do without the transit part, but still want offices and commercial and retail condensed to some degree although they mainly drive. That was done, either intentionally or unintentionally, by strict use zoning in the SFH zones, and to his credit the author recognizes that. The mistake East Link makes is not going to where that retail and commercial density already is, and expecting folks will suddenly want to live along 405 or 520 or a train in inchoate TOD when just like Hwy 99 folks don’t want to live there.
It isn’t too hard to condense retail, commercial and transit with zoning and have them co-exist if the transit is done correctly (which is easier, and easier to correct, with buses). Look at downtown Seattle pre-pandemic where transit, commercial and retail density co-existed (in large part because DSTT1 was sited well along with the stations). But the housing was dispersed to the surrounding neighborhoods. Folks don’t want to live along 3rd Ave., even in downtown Seattle pre-pandemic, despite the transit, retail and commercial density. Just the opposite.
The A is efficient because it runs along a highway that was zoned for commercial and retail because folks don’t want to live along a highway although RR does have larger stop spacing, even without the housing urbanists think is necessary for efficient transit. Would the A be even more “efficient” if there were more housing along Hwy 99? Probably, but folks don’t want to live along Hwy 99, so basically you would have to move the A off of 99 if you want to reach the housing, which would kill its efficiency.
The problem with the PSRC’s Vision statements and TOD in general when along a highway is people don’t want to live there. Transit is for most a tiny consideration when choosing their housing, because it is pretty easy to change mode (i.e. car). That has been the rub: yes, if you put a station on Capitol Hill or Roosevelt where folks already want to live they will live there (but want it underground). If you put a station along Hwy 99 or I-5 or 405 they don’t want to live there, and there isn’t enough retail for every station to create any kind of retail density. So RR stop spacing makes sense.
The pandemic, WFH, aging Millennial wanting a SFH, and general deurbanization and demise of downtown Seattle has rendered the PSRC’s visions irrelevant because none of the assumptions — especially population growth and commuting to work — are true anymore. But even in 2018-19 the trick was to combine all three — housing, transit, retail/commerce — within a walkable 1/4 mile because so many folks want their housing to NOT be within that 1/4 mile. So you have feeder buses and park and rides and micro-transit and now WFH.
The entire point of the article, which the author makes very clear, is the RR A is one of the most efficient routes for all of Metro when folks on this blog would argue it should not be because it has very little housing density along it. For me, like the author, that is what made the article interesting because I would not have expected that based on the assumptions made on this blog and by the PSRC.
How many of the 630 riders even live on Mercer Island vs. drive to Mercer Island from Bellevue or Issaquah to pick it up? I suspect the 630 would be even more productive if it just served the park and ride and didn’t serve the rest of the island.
“How many of the 630 riders even live on Mercer Island vs. drive to Mercer Island from Bellevue or Issaquah to pick it up? I suspect the 630 would be even more productive if it just served the park and ride and didn’t serve the rest of the island.”
That is probably a good point asdf2 although nominally the 630 is a MI route.
If you live off Island and drive to the park and ride to catch the 630 then the only stop on MI is the park and ride, so no waiting for the neighborhood stops before you can exit and get to your car or vice versa. The last stop on MI is the main P&R. IIRC the large number of stops on MI for the 630 was when the park and ride was full by 7 am (53% by off Islanders). Today there are always plenty of empty stalls. If I lived on MI and took the 630 I would just drive to the main park and ride rather than to a satellite park and ride or walking to one of the neighborhood stops because it is easier and quicker.
When I spoke to the city manager, she indicated MI might reach out to Issaquah or other eastside cities to see if they want to contribute to the 630, especially when those workers know there will be space at the park and ride and I-90 has so little congestion to MI these days. I am sure Metro tracks boardings per stop to show who boards where. Personally, I think the 630 could truncate on First Hill and not continue to the library or CID.
East Link doesn’t open for several years, and Issaquah usually makes up its mind at the last second, like it did with the recent upzoning bills or the eastside transit restructure and the 554, but when it does pay attention Issaquah usually gets what it wants, like with the amendments and strikers to the upzoning bills and the 554. If Issaquah gets on board my hunch is Metro will be told to find the money in the budget for the 630 without subsidies.
Yes, the A Line is fine.
Let’s skim through the system evaluation report for Route 630 points, since we wandered off topic. It has a relatively low 2.8 score on equity areas. I wonder why it is included in appendix E at all on needed service growth; Route 204 barely shows; it is the two-way all-day service. Appendix F is titled Fixed Route Investment needs; Route 630 is DART and should not be included. The report has data from 2021 when Covid suppressed ridership. Appendix G has ridership data; Route 630 only carried 14 weekday rides. Route 630 was partially suspended. In Appendix H, the DART routes were blank; they do not have automatic passenger counter data. Even pre-Covid, Route 630 was weak; older years are available. Both before and after East Link, Route 630 is a weak route.
The 630 may have weak ridership but it is very cheap to run. Ross noted the cost per rider was around $4.30 when the fare is close to that. So what, each trip costs $14 above fares for 14 riders for an agency as inefficient as Metro?.
Since these are critical essential workers I think the equity index should be higher like the 332.
Since MI plans to subsidize the 630 whether it is a “weak” route is irrelevant. Instead maybe all routes that cost more than $4.30/ rider should be eliminated as weak, or the neighborhoods those buses serve required to subsidize them.
MI pays a ton of taxes for Metro service for the 204 and 630. I would like to see pure subarea equity for Metro like we have for ST. Then each area can decide what routes are weak based on the taxes they pay toward Metro.
“Then each area can decide what routes are weak based on the taxes they pay toward Metro.”
That amounts to allocating bus service to each city in proportion to the number of car dealers within the city’s limits, which is a very terrible way to allocate service.
“The 630 may have weak ridership but it is very cheap to run. Ross noted the cost per rider was around $4.30 when the fare is close to that.”
It costs $207 per Metro bus hour.
It operates for about 2 hours every peak period
In order to get to $4.30 per passenger it would have to move 48 passengers per hour it’s in service. If it’s actually moving that many people then it’s worth it.
It’s difficult to believe average passenger counts are that high on it.
I agree, $4.30/passenger does seem quite low, and thank you for putting together the concrete math. 48 passengers per bus seems extremely high. I don’t think even the 550 gets anywhere near 48 passengers per bus, and while First Hill is certainly a big destination, it is not nearly as big as downtown itself. I also don’t think 48 passengers on a small bus, like what is actually used to run the 630 is even physically possible – at least not without the aisles being filled with standing passengers.
My guess is that the low cost per boarding arises from a combination of:
1) A contractor operating the route with nonunion bus drivers, rather than Metro itself, so their operating cost per hour is far less than the $207 Metro pays.
2) An accounting gimmick where only the service time that the bus is actually carrying passengers contributes to the official “cost” of the route, while the deadheading needed to run it doesn’t.
It could get such high ridership relative to bus hours because it spends most of it’s time on the freeway between the two dense areas. Secondly because it is so close to downtown Seattle it only needs to use one bus/bus driver to run the second bus trip during rush hour (To run both the 6:30 am and 8:00 am). Versus say Issaquah, it would take too long for the first bus to get back in time to Issaquah that you’d need a second bus and bus driver to provide 2 bus trips during peak am times.
> The additional service may be due to the city subsidizing the 630. The cost per rider today according to Ross’s research is around $4.30/trip,
I think that was in the past, not currently.
Ross did the research about the cost per ride for the 630 and cited to his source. I just can’t find his post. Ross is usually pretty accurate on these things. There were a number of posts at the time expressing surprise at the low cost per ride (around $4.30). The 630 is part of the DART program and probably has lower hourly costs.
But it doesn’t matter if MI will subsidize the 630 because downtown Seattle is too dangerous to transfer in, which is the real existential issue for Harrell and the DSA because that is a prime shopper on the 630. If they won’t transfer in downtown Seattle so MI has to subsidize the 630 they won’t visit or shop in downtown Seattle period, which is why retail is dying in downtown Seattle. Who cares about the 630 if downtown is dying?
I also expect the 630 to truncate on First Hill once MI begins to subsidize it. No point in running the 630 to the CID or library.
Of course, if Issaquah signs onto “sharing” the 630 with MI Issaquah will insist Metro (or ST) cover the full cost, or maybe micro-transit for 630 riders like Sammamish is getting. One of the trends I am seeing is East KC insisting on more of the Metro pie, especially if the state is forcing them to upzone residential neighborhoods, something Seattleites and S. King Co. never should have wanted.
This does raise an interesting issue: if the 630 does cost $4.30/ride what is the cutoff to eliminate routes or frequency? Or if the 630 costs more than $4.30. What is the cost per ride that transit is no longer a good investment and should be eliminated (inclduing frequency, weekends or nights), or at least fares raised to lower the cost per ride. If Ross’s research is correct, and the 630 despite Mon Dieu being some white suburban female healthcare workers going to Seattle really does cost $4.30/ride and MI has to still subsidize it why aren’t all routes that cost more than $4.30/ride being subsidized by the neighborhoods or cities those routes serve, or the service cut until the ride costs $4.30/ride?
P.S. On a side note, I have a Metro pole and bus stop sign outside my house that has had a closed cover on it for the last 10 years that is now all tattered. The route was the 892 as far as I can tell from reading the fading sign under the closed cover. https://kingcounty.gov/depts/transportation/metro/schedules-maps/route/892.aspx
Anyone remember the 892? Maybe only my stop was eliminated but I never heard of this route on MI despite having two kids graduate from MIHS within the last few years. I am sure MI subsidized it somehow since it serves the HS. Or remember the 201? Or the much better frequency on the 204? MI is getting shafted when it comes to Metro service vs. taxes paid toward Metro, and I for one am happy to see East KC demand a bigger cut of the Metro pie, or at least a cut that better approximates the amount E KC contributes to Metro’s costs.
Route 630 is DART (Hope Link). The hourly cost is lower than that of Metro. Hope Link also has a shortage of operators. In the 2021 NTD report, the average operating cost was about $143/hour.
addendum: the NTD tables for 2021 also show an average DART operating cost per rider of $108. That is a countywide average; some routes in Federal Way would have higher ridership than Route 630; others would have lower ridership. Again, it might be best to look at pre-Covid data.
There is so much more to say about the 630. It goes to Seattle at a time its riders want to go to Seattle. The people who want to ride it at noon don’t ride it.
The people who want to ride the 630 to Redmond also don’t ride it, because it doesn’t go there.
There is no organizing the riders on the A Line to decide what time of day it should run. So, they just run it all day.
Actually regarding the HOV right-side lanes on Pacific Highway that Rapidride A uses, has it ever been investigated using them more when it’s politically/technically hard to add bus lanes? Of course BAT lanes are preferred, but it seems like it’d still help if one finds it politically hard to add BAT lanes.
For example perhaps some spot hov lanes for rapidride B along NE 8th street or 156 st. Or say for Westlake ave or Rainier ave, prefer the BAT lanes under the current proposed projects, but if there’s a lot of political pushback perhaps could still install HOV lanes.
Or to give an example of bus lanes that were cancelled (delayed again) on 23rd avenue for route 48 https://www.theurbanist.org/2023/01/14/transit-lanes-still-under-consideration-as-part-of-route-48-revamp/. Albeit I haven’t really seen right-side hov lanes on smaller 4 lane roads before.
The opposition to HOV lanes and BAT lanes is the same: people who think all lanes should be general-purpose.
> people who think all lanes should be general-purpose.
I”m not sure of that is actually true. Or at least I find there are more supporters of HOV lanes versus Express (toll) or Bus lanes.
And by “general-purpose”, they mean cars only. Try walking, or skateboarding, or scooting, or biking in one of those lanes some time and see the seething entitlement in the eyes of the driver pulling up behind you.
I cannot find a definition for “general purpose” lanes in RCW, but a couple of definitions may be useful. Both are taken from https://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=47.04.010
(11) “Highway.” Every way, lane, road, street, boulevard, and every way or place in the state of Washington open as a matter of right to public vehicular travel both inside and outside the limits of incorporated cities and towns;
(14) “Laned highway.” A highway the roadway of which is divided into clearly marked lanes for vehicular traffic;
I believe that the operative word in both cases is “Vehicular”. A further definition of this may be enlightening:
(43) “Vehicle.” Every device capable of being moved upon a highway and in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway, excepting power wheelchairs, as defined in RCW 46.04.415, or devices moved by human or animal power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.
I read this that to imply that “devices moved by human or animal power” (including skateboards, (unpowered) scooters, or bicycles) do not count as vehicles; neither do people themselves (as they are not devices), and thus their usage does not abide by the definition of “highways” in article 11, above.
I would therefore caution against treating the reaction from people who do use the highways according to the definitions above as “entitlement”, unless you mean entitlement according to the RCW. If you believe that the RCW should be changed, I certainly encourage you to do so, of course.
Has anybody tried out the A line as an airport parking shuttle? I could easily see it being faster and more reliable than the parking operator’s own shuttle fleet, due to not having to sit in traffic. And if you already have a transit pass, it’s free, just like the official parking shuttle. It does mean walking further, but if you’re traveling light, it hardly seems like a big burden. It’s just a matter of getting over that “public bus=poor people” mentality.
It doesn’t seem practical. All of the airport parking and most of the hotels offer shuttles that are from front door to their facilities, to, most importantly, your airline’s check-in desk. Rapidride could be a good distance away from your parking facility, since the office aren’t always next to the road, and will be a pretty long walk thru a dank parking garage to your airline ticket counter. Most of the airport parking companies have enough people on staff that someone can quickly pop in their shuttle bus for a pick up.
What I really wish is that Sound Transit would get into the airport parking business and open up the Angle Lake garage to long term airport parking in exchange for a reasonable daily fee. It’s not like the garage is filled to capacity today, and usage will only decline when it’s no longer the terminus. They could even offer a bundling deal where, once you pay for parking, your one stop Link ride is free.
I’m sure it will never happen, in part because the existing parking operators would object to having to compete with it. But, it would still be a very useful service.
Indeed. I considered it last night, and looked up the 24 hour rule. Alas, I needed it for 48. I wonder what enforcement looks like?
Interesting post. This level of ridership bodes well for Federal Way Link ridership when it finally opens. But what happens to the A-Line when Federal Way Link opens?
Does the A-Line get downgraded to a regular Link shadow route and the RR resources get redeployed elsewhere in the system? Or does Metro attempt to run a competitor to Federal Way Link?
> Does the A-Line get downgraded to a regular Link shadow route and the RR resources get redeployed elsewhere in the system?
I imagine it’ll keep running perhaps minor frequency cutbacks.
I’m assuming your question is about will the A-line have a drop in ridership similar to what happened to the 41,42,43 routes when university link opened and lead to severe cutbacks. I think it’ll be more like the 106 which has high ridership even after link opened on MLK.
Also unlike say Rapidride C where that section is empty (along the freeway) and after West Seattle link it’ll be cutback to Alaskan junction, the Rapidride A is running along plenty of destinations. More importantly Federal Way Link is along i-5 not along pacific highway. Though will have a drop in Highline College riders to Seatac or downtown Seattle.
Minor correction, I assume you mean the 71, 72, 73 routes (one of which was indeed removed, the other two suffered frequency reductions).
Thanks Anonymouse :) yes I meant the 71,72,73
The A remains long term. Link and the A serve overlapping but different transit markets. Link is better for long distances to a distant station. The A is better for short distances (one Link station) and in-between stops.
With a Fred Meyer and a Walmart near RapidRide A, as well as several budget hotels that employ low wage staff near SeaTac, the route has many other good destinations that won’t be well served by Link.
Isn’t there a Walmart close to Federal Way Commons Station, and another one close to South Federal Way Station?
That said, I don’t see a lot of riders on the 1 Line visually carrying groceries, much less large shopping bags full of cheap clothing.
The A Line, and Federal Way Link, won’t be competitors. The A Line is necessary with or without Link. Even if FW Link was running right down the middle of Pac Hwy, with stops at KDM, 272nd, and FW Station, there would still need to be an A Line, or something similar.
My guess is that the A line will continue to have lots of riders, but different types of riders. There will be fewer people riding the A line all the way, end to end, and more people riding it for short distances, just a few stops.
However, frequency will be very important to make this happen. When the average trip gets shorter, wait time becomes a larger proportion of the overall trip time.
It’s really hard to know how bad things will get for the A after Link opens. The author provides little insight into where the current riders are boarding and how long their average trip is.
But we can be reasonably sure that the bulk of the A trips aren’t just short hops, because why would Metro upgrade this line to RR level just for short hops? Speed really isn’t that important for people just making short hops.
And speed will really be in Links favor. I don’t know who decided that the speed of the #7 was the standard for comparison, but the A at only 40% faster than the #7 will look pretty anemic next to Link’s speed of over 200% faster than the 7.
So anyone valuing speed will take Link. And anyone doing more than a short hop will take Link. And anyone going to the major destinations along the Line will take Link, because that is where ST sited their Link stations.
So I’d expect at least a 40 to 50% drop in ridership on the A, which will blow all the A’s performance metrics to “heck”.
So, if the remaining ridership is short hop oriented where speed isn’t important, then why maintain the A as RR with increased speed and stop spacing? That isn’t the clientele that will remain on the A. It doesn’t make sense.
There also is a perception issue. RapidRide really won’t look that “rapid” when it is running directly against Link on the same corridor. Does Metro really want such a direct comparison between the two systems? Or will Metro adjust, or downgrade, the A somehow to make direct comparisons more difficult?
It’s an interesting dilemma for Metro.
> So, if the remaining ridership is short hop oriented where speed isn’t important, then why maintain the A as RR with increased speed and stop spacing?
While RapidRides have increased stop spacing compared to the bus routes, it’s really just increasing American bus routes to what is the normal ‘european’ bus stop spacing in many cases to around 0.25~0.35 miles. Link outside of downtown has pretty wide stop spacing. Going from around 0.5 miles / 1 miles to around 2 miles. Angle Lake to Kent is 2 miles and then Kent to Star Lake is also 2 miles.
That being said, I did think about it a bit more and perhaps the situation is more like University Link, though a bit more nuanced. I believe all the riders at Kent station and north of Kent station will switch over to using the Link. Especially all of the Highline college riders.
On the other hand south of Kent station, the current pacific highway is far from the link stations and you’d still take the rapidride to get to seatac/other destinations.
This map illustrates what I’m talking about a bit better:
The reason I used the 7 as a comparison is because Rainier and Pacific Highway have similar traffic volumes, the routes have similar ridership, and both travel a long time down their respective corridors without turning. I judged it to be a reasonable comparison of the speed differences between local and RapidRide.
I’m glad you brought up service decisions after Federal Way Link opens. It’s true that the average trip length is long, judging from the “passenger miles per platform mile.” Clearly Link will make more sense the longer the trip is.
However, the amount of Pacific Highway in walkshed of Link is pretty low (stop spacing will be about 2.5 miles, and both the Star Lake and Federal Way Downtown stations will be over half a mile from Pacific Highway). It seems like a lot of these trips could use RapidRide A plus Link.
As far as making it a local route, they could consider that. But if speed suffers, headway will suffer (assuming the same amount of bus hours). Good headway will be crucial if transfers between Link and RapidRide A are common.
Fortunately, I think the action plan for Metro is pretty easy: wait until Link opens, see what the ridership is like, and adjust service from there. I doubt they’ll be planning anything dramatic, so they’ll have time to see what the effects are before they change anything.
I’m a bit confused. You selected the comparison with the 7 because the routes have similar ridership, and because the roads have similar traffic volumes? And then you talk about the speed advantage of RR A? I think this is fundamentally incorrect.
Buses are restricted by both the traffic they operate in, and the characteristics of the roads they operate on. #7 operates on Rainier Ave, which has close light spacing and a speed limit (last I knew) of something like 25 mph. RR A operates on Pacific Highway South, which last I knew had pretty spread out light spacing and a speed limit of (mainly) 45 mph.
So…. Since Metro operators are professionals and therefore stop at traffic lights and obey speed limits ( or get fired), I would naturally expect RR A to have a higher average speed as compared to the 7. I.e., the higher speed of RR A is not a function of traffic volume, nor of ridership, nor of the type of service. It is more directly a result of the characteristics of the roadway that RR A operates on.
As per Federal Way Link walksheds, yes, the stations are more spreed out than in the urban center of Seattle. But this is a direct result of the diffuse nature of ridership demand along this corridor. Per linear mile of roadway Pac Hwy South just doesn’t generate as much ridership as a similar linear mile of Rainier Ave South. So of course Link stations are more spreed out along Hwy 99. They should be.
But the key to Link ridership potential is that Link stations have been placed at the higher ridership locations, or at the higher ridership intercept points. So it is hard to imagine Link not taking a fair chunk of RR A ridership. Because Link will be serving the key ridership destinations along the line, and will be offering key transfer points also.
And that is another key issue for RR A after Federal Way Link opens. If some RR A riders are currently using other services (buses, cars, whatever) to intercept RR A, then there is exactly zero transfer penalty to using Link. These riders will just adjust their first leg to intercept Link instead of RR A.
But I do agree that Metro will take it slow when responding to the addition of Link on this corridor. That might be a good thing, or if might be a bad thing. Only time will tell.
Your point on speed limits and light density is a worthy criticism, as they are not the same between the 7 and RapidRide A. The most apt comparison would be a route that has similar road and traffic characteristics, ridership, and built environment, but a local route (versus RapidRide). There may be better comparisons out there, and probably speed limit was worth a mention.
However, even though I am not a transit expert (I will be studying transit in the fall, but not yet), it’s clear to me that boarding/alighting make some sort of difference. Anecdotally, the 7 crawls because people get on and off at nearly every stop – even though Rainier Ave is the fastest road through the area. Hence the use of ridership, meant to prevent comparing a busy route to a lightly used one. Traffic volumes were used to control for traffic congestion, though clearly an imperfect proxy. It was a pleasant surprise more than anything that Rainier Ave and Pacific Highway had similar traffic volumes – although of course Pacific Highway spreads that over more lanes.
Not “anyone”, Lazarus. “Anyone traveling between two Link stations.” Some –probably “most” but certainly not all — riders making a trip which starts or ends somewhere between two stations with to a Link station not the one closest to the non-Link end will transfer to Link.
But most riders making a trip between two non-Link-served points will just stay on the bus unless the trip passes at least three Link stations along the way.
Obviously I don’t have a breakdown of A trip pairs to that degree, but I bet it’s well more than half. So the A will be fine.
The A might lose some peak frequency if the peak crowding is reduced by riders able to transfer to Link earlier. Otherwise, two new Link transfer should induce ridership on the A, causing its metrics to improve. I see the two lines (A & Link) supporting each other, not competing. This is a very different situation than when a Link extension results in truncation of freeway oriented express routes.
Metro Connects 2021:
RapidRide Interim network (after ST2, page 32 of PDF): RapidRide A continues. Note how they diverge wide enough to be noticeable on the map between Federal Way and KDM. Link serves the major transit markets of Federal Way Commons, Highline College, and the airport, but only two stations in between. It doesn’t serve the supermarkets, drug stores, and strip malls that residents also need to get to. Compare the proposal for Link on Aurora, with stations at 130th, 145th, and 185th, and ask, “How would I get to 105th, 155th, 160th, and 175th without the E?”
RapidRide 2050 network (page 33): The A is extended north to BAR and Rainier Beach, transferring to RapidRide R (bus 7). There’s a continuous red line from Federal Way to downtown. RapidRide R has some similarities with the A, in that Rainier Beach and Othello stations are as far from Rainier Avenue as Federal Way and Redondo stations are from 99.
What it really bodes well for is the Pacific Ave BRT in Tacoma. A corridor with very similar land use, a long straight line routing, and connections to major population and transit centers at the north end.
Are their stats on ridership of the 1? Is Pacific or 6th the main ridership section?
Very interesting and in depth analysis. However, I am wondering what motivates the choice of using rides per platform hour compared to passenger miles per platform miles. On one hand, a ride is a ride, maybe a ride taking up more resources should be considered less efficient. However, 40 people taking 5 mile trips and 200 people taking one mile trips both mean a bus allows for a total of 200 miles of travel. The rides per platform hour metric will however would claim the first case only has 20% of the productivity compared to the second case.
> However, I am wondering what motivates the choice of using rides per platform hour compared to passenger miles per platform miles.
Probably for a couple reasons.
1) Rides per platform hour is more accurate of how it is being used. This is slightly tangental but the old LOS or level of service for cars also mainly tracked how far one was traveling not how many actual rides.
> However, 40 people taking 5 mile trips and 200 people taking one mile trips both mean a bus allows for a total of 200 miles of travel.
The 40 people taking taking 5 mile trips would cost more for the bus to provide. Though again this depends on how fast one is traveling. Or put it in another way 10 people traveling 20 miles would be considered the same as 20 people traveling 1 mile. Even though it really would cost around 20x as much bus hours and you supported much less people.
2) platform miles in general isn’t a good measure of cost, as a freeway bus is traveling much farther, but that doesn’t mean that it is actually more useful than a bus on an avenue. That is why platform hours is much better as it directly measures the cost of both the bus driver and the operation cost of the bus. I mean you’d skyrocket the 150’s analysis because it uses the freeway.
I guess one could create some more convoluted calculation combining both passenger mile and passenger rides but it’s probably best to just keep it simple.
Two hundred people taking one mile trips will produce MUCH more dwell than forty people taking five mile trips. So they aren’t exactly equal in terms of resources consumed.
I mean that’s why platform hour is also a better measure of cost. One can more directly see how delays (lack of off board payment) translate into time which means more platform hour cost
Riders per hour is the primary productivity measure for any transit agency because labor costs are the bigger budget item (drivers and related staff). Miles are more appropriate for things like tires, basic maintenance and fuel. In other cost elements, simply the number of buses matters.
Here’s a detailed report from Minneapolis-St Paul allocating costs between different measures — miles, hours, vehicle counts, guideway miles being maintained and other categories.
I don’t think it’s necessary to get into the weeds of cost allocation — and as technology changes the proportions do too. I think it’s pretty safe to say that riders per hour will remain the most appropriate productivity measure until transit vehicles become driverless.
“Riders per hour is the primary productivity measure for any transit agency”
I assume you mean riders per “platform hour” as riders per hour is rather meaningless. Riders per actual hour just measures transit agency size, whereas riders per platform hour at least attempts to measure actual efficiency or productivity.
But be careful how you interpret “riders per platform hour”. Any given route with a high number of riders per platform hour might be viewed as a highly efficient and productive route. Or the high number of riders per platform hour on that same route might be a sign of underinvestment, inequity, or even racism.
Think of it in relation to RR A. Any given mile of RR A on PAC Hwy South has a high number of riders per platform hour as compared to a mile of #79 in Viewridge.
Does that mean RR A is more productive? Or does that mean that Metro is underinvesting in the lower income, poorer, more ethnically diverse neighborhoods along PAC Hwy South while simultaneously lavishing service hours on the richer, whiter, less diverse neighborhood of Viewridge?
Think of it this way. The ridership of RR A is lower income and with a higher percentage of recent arrivals than many other Metro routes. As such, these riders generally have fewer transportation options than other riders and represent a bit of an inelastic ridership base.
Therefore, if I was a transportation planner and wanted to increase riders per platform hour, I’d simply reduce platform hours. Riders per platform hour would go up! And I’d accomplish that increase while saving money too! I’d probably get promoted.
I could see either platform hour or revenue (“in service”) hour. It comes down to what’s being compared and what an agency is trying to measure.
I should have said “boardings” rather than “riders” too — but I think that’s implied. That would clarify any confusion about whether a bus ride with a transfer is counting as one or two (or more).
Since platform hours include the out-of-service time between the garage and start of the route, using that can make routes that take time to reach from the garage appear less productive out of no fault of the route itself. Of course, many express routes aren’t in service in an off-peak direction so platform hours is probably more appropriate for those comparisons.
Of course these terms mean vehicle hours rather than rider hours. I think that’s implied, and certainly rider hours wouldn’t make much sense in a productivity analysis as you say .
As the Minnesota example explains, a more sophisticated productivity analysis would have proportions for vehicle hours and vehicle maintenance miles (as well as other measures like number of vehicles used) derived from budget categories. If both time and distance and other things can be monetized, it is possible to describe a route in terms of something like cost per boarding or subsidy per boarding. However it’s hard enough for most people to comprehend a direct measure, so trying to assign weighted proportions that change with every budget year would seem too abstract to fathom for many, especially if a comparison between years is warranted. One way agencies get around this is to group routes by route type when comparing productivity.
I may be wrong in my interpretation, but I think fundamentally rides per platform hour and passenger miles per platform mile measure different things. The first for time efficiency, and the second for mileage efficiency. I think that’s why Metro includes both in their System Evaluations.
As for the article, I made a deliberate to focus on rides per platform hour in this installment to avoid complicating things. RapidRide A performs very well on both measures. However, some routes perform well on one but not the other, which is something I want to explore in future installments.
rides per platform hour is an industry standard; passenger miles per platform mile came out of earlier RTC discussions; it was made up. RTC members were concerned about how weak the long one-way peak-only routes appeared. Both are included in the reports.
When Stride operates between Burien and TIBS, I can’t help but wonder if that leg should shift from RapidRide F to RapidRide A. That would connect Burien to SeaTac and the rest of the 99 corridor. It seems really advantageous for RapidRide I and West Seattle.
Of course it would create a transfer to get between Burien and SouthCenter, but at least the RapidRide transfer point at TIBS occurs at adjacent bus stops.
I’d rather the A continue on that linear corridor; BAR station may be a good future terminus?
We had a good discussion on an earlier thread on some other good options to better connect Burien TC to SeaTac station, which also provides a direct connection to the A.
I appreciate this type of post. Local, about transit, and about something current. So many posts/comments/links are about somewhere else, about something in the future, or not about transit. I’d like to see more posts and discussions like this one.
Thank you, Sam! There will be more to come.
Regarding A ridership after Federal Way link:
When TriMet opened the green line, the sorta-parallel 72 increased in ridership.
I’m pretty sure the A winds up with the same network dynamic: long-haul riders switch to Link, but a bunch of local destinations along the A suddenly become much faster to access by transferring between Link and the A.
I used to ride the A frequently from 2016-2019 for studying at Highline College. I can say that the bus was generally busy most of the day. You had rush hour, but you also late morning and early afternoon peaks as well from college and high school students. The only qualms I remember about the A is just station quality being inconsistent and lack of general off payment boarding at all stops. I’m hoping that TOD does eventually start building along Pac Hwy. As there has been some but slow going to happen.
Maybe I need to correct that as well. I thought there was off-board payment at every station, but I should double check.
On the station quality, I noticed the odd station that was literally just a RapidRide sign – no shelter (maybe a bench, not sure). I started jokingly calling it “RapidRide basic.” I didn’t know that level of station was allowed for RapidRide!
> On the station quality, I noticed the odd station that was literally just a RapidRide sign – no shelter (maybe a bench, not sure). I started jokingly calling it “RapidRide basic.” I didn’t know that level of station was allowed for RapidRide!
They decide on the type of RapidRide station depending on the ridership at the stop. Which is fine, honestly sometimes I’m afraid they spend a bit too money on stations rather than on the actual bus/hov lanes because the former doesn’t impact drivers at all.
For example for Rapidride I https://rapidrideiline.com/, there’s below 50 passengers (just sign post); 50 to 150 adding bench and shelter; 150 to 350 adds more random amenities; 350+ adds the orca reader
Yeah a few stops when initally built out were just a bus stop pole, they had like three levels of stop from what I understand. The basic bus pole stop, minor stop with an upgraded shelter but no fare reader, and major bus stop with shelter, lighting, fare reader, and RTI. It definitely was a touch inconsistent as to what stops would get what and the logic and reasoning behind it.
I will say that KCM has gone back a couple times and upgraded stops like the Southbound Highline College stop. Moving it fron the ARCO gas station to the college’s administration building along with adding all the features of a major stop. Made for a better rider experience in terms of safety and on and off boarding.
No RapidRide line has off-payment boarding at all stops, nor should they. There are some little used stops where it wouldn’t make sense to install them. Should the second to last A Line bus stop in Federal Way, where almost no one waits for the bus, have an off-board ORCA reader? Of course not. I think it would be incredibly wasteful to install ORCA readers at every single RR bus stop. “But, Sam, every Link station has ORCA readers!” Yes, strawman, but bus stops aren’t Link stations.
If you just use that internet thing that Al Gore gave us and go to the Metro website it will tell you exactly what RR stops are just “stops”, and which stops are actually “stations”.
Of course Metro doesn’t explain the difference, but it probably aligns with what you are seeing.
RR A is approx 50% “stops”, which makes you wonder a bit what the point is. But oh well.
RapidRide has “stations” and stops. Stations have the works. Stops are at lowest-ridership locations may not have off-board payment or other features. Metro sometimes upgrades stops to stations later.
Now that the entire rapid ride fleet has ORCA validators at all doors, this should enable faster boarding where there aren’t platform validators.
While we focus on transit a large part missing in the discussion is the land use along pacific highway. Or more accurately the surprising density along pacific highway (that doesn’t exist for other suburbs like the east side)
One might think it is mainly just single family homes or only some retail. Or as some think there isn’t much housing density. That isn’t actually true.
In federal way along the highway there are apartments — sure auto oriented but still denser than single family homes. On 272 there’s apartments as well as. Near the Fred meyer there’s apartment as well. Federal way has zoned along that corridor https://www.cityoffederalway.com/sites/default/files/maps/Zoning.pdf
Then there’s high line college and then SeaTac also has mainly placed its apartments there.
Note in comparison bellevue way doesn’t really have apartments outside the downtown square. Instead they are placed along i5 like
https://maps.app.goo.gl/pUWR8NWwFoFRvB5E6. Nor does say island crest way on Mercer island have any apartments
Just like all other transit routes you need housing density to succeed and rapidride A high ridership stems from housing density as well not just from retail/offices.
Pacific Highway is like many ex-federal highways: most of the area’s apartments and retail and businesses are along it to keep them away from the single-family blocks around it. Aurora is part of the same highway so it’s similar. Pacific Highway’s density is high for South King County but low for Seattle neighborhoods; that’s why people complain it feels suburban. Both Pac Highway and Aurora have tons of room for a lot more housing if the cities would allow it. A lot of it is decaying 1960s/70s big-box stores and strip malls that could be densified without disturbing anybody’s single-family house.
Because Pacific Highway has a large total number of businesses and apartments and the best transit in the area, it has above-average ridership. It has always been this way. In the 80s there was the 174, half-hourly days and evenings and into the late night and early morning. That was when everything else in South King County was hourly, except the 150 and 340 which were half-hourly weekday daytime. Now the A runs every 15 minutes until late evening and has 24-hour service, and Link has started to overlay it. Nowhere else in South King County has that level of service.
“bellevue way doesn’t really have apartments outside the downtown square”
Bellevue Way has apartments all along it, from NE 30th Street to SE 19th Street. I and my relatives have lived in four of them. They’re lowrise 2-4 story so they may not be prominent in the satellite images. The few houses that exist are mostly by the P&R were the western sidewalk ends and it becomes more of a highway. There are some 1990s cul-de-sac developments that may be townhouses but not regular low-density houses.
Most apartments in Bellevue are not along 405 but along Bellevue Way, 156th in Crossroads, 140th/145th between NE 8th Street and Bellevue College, and the new ones in the Spring District and Overlake. There may be apartments in Factoria (although I’ve only seen commercial buildings).
There are apartments or small condos in Factoria, I believe in that area behind T-Mobile and the road that goes up towards Somerset. I’ve driven by them a few times. I imagine there are others, but those are the ones I have seen.
They are similar to the ones in Bellevue Way, 2-4 stories.
> “bellevue way doesn’t really have apartments outside the downtown square”
> Bellevue Way has apartments all along it, from NE 30th Street to SE 19th Street
I am aware there are a couple apartments but they not that high (or more accurately not that dense) and also very few.
I guess the more accurate statement is that Pacific Highway has more area dedicated to apartments and is also denser than Bellevue Way’s apartments.
> they’re lowrise 2-4 story so they may not be prominent in the satellite images.
Just saying if it’s not prominent in satellite images, it’s not that dense lol. But I was aware of them.
A good proxy (though not quite accurate since some are grandfathered in as exceptions) is just comparing the zoning maps.
Bellevue Way just has too small pockets along it, and many of it is really still “high density” single family zoning not actually multi family zoning. And that ‘high density’ of 5 units per acre is much less than the lowest category Federal way Multi family of 3600 square feet per unit or 15 units per acre.
“I am aware there are a couple apartments but they not that high (or more accurately not that dense) and also very few.”
There are dozens of apartment buildings there.
“I guess the more accurate statement is that Pacific Highway has more area dedicated to apartments and is also denser than Bellevue Way’s apartments.”
Pacific Highway is also longer. You’d have to look at a portion of it. It has small clusters of two or three 5-story apartments, but large gaps between the clusters. Anyway, there’s no point in arguing which streets have more apartments. My point is that Bellevue Way has lots of apartment buildings, and almost all the apartments in Bellevue are not along 405.
> My point is that Bellevue Way has lots of apartment buildings, and almost all the apartments in Bellevue are not along 405.
That is part of my point. Those apartments along the 405 such as https://goo.gl/maps/7jhjo4J6wXxLZZGA6 or https://goo.gl/maps/3X5sgJ93idLD1YDc8 are much denser than the ones along Bellevue Way.
Looking at the zoning map the 405 section has Medium Density, up to 20 units per acre (R-15 & R-20) while the SF-H along bellevue way is just 5 units per acre. Sure there’s small pockets of multi family zoning along Bellevue way but this is nothing compared to the larger swath Federal way zoned for MF zoning. Sure there might be some differences between the zoning map and the actual density but spot checking satellite imagery and the other density maps I don’t think it’d make up for a times 4 factor.
> Pacific Highway is also longer. You’d have to look at a portion of it. It has small clusters of two or three 5-story apartments, but large gaps between the clusters
I mean we can combine up with Lake Washington that goes north. Sure Kirkland has density around their downtown but outside of that is also just single family/townhouses.
And either way the data can’t really lie. If not using the satelitte estimated density map of https://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=f9cb5e481ecc48bfbdd6486c42e19a24&find=bellevue
there’s still the census tract maps which pretty much shows the same conclusion https://www.energyjustice.net/justice/index.php?gsLayer=&gfLon=-122.29757717&gfLat=47.5458956&giZoom=12&gsGeo=tract&giAdvanced=1&
FWIW, I would say there is multifamily along 118th, not “along 405,” and there’s good reason there is no frequent bus on 118th but several on Bellevue Way.
There’s a single census block, #2028, that does indeed have a few multifamily developments, but that block has 3K people per that “Justice Map” link, whereas block #1000 (Bellevue Way SE 3rd to SE 6th, i.e. outside of the downtown ‘square’) alone has 4x the population (12.7K), so I’m not sure why WL thinks there is more density ‘along 405’ than along Bellevue Way.
“Those apartments along the 405 such as … are much denser than the ones along Bellevue Way.”
That’s two buildings, which i can’t tell from the map whether they’re dense, and if they are they’re probably towers in the park alone.
“the SF-H along bellevue way is just 5 units per acre”
That’s not what’s there! I grew up in a neighborhood that was maybe 5 houses per acre. Bellevue Way is not at all like that. That’s why I was so happy to move to downtown Bellevue. The apartment buildings may be short but they’re one right after another with only modest space in between. So from any point you can walk to several of them. I would add a story or two, but they’re a good example of middle housing or a bit above. And as videos of The Netherlands has convinced me, neighborhoods of middle-sized housing is what we should be building.
“the larger swath Federal way zoned for MF zoning”
We were talking about the entire RapidRide A corridor, a lot of which is strip malls, supermarket plazas with large parking lots, and only occasionally a cluster of 2-3 five-story apartments. Of course Federal Way has the largest city core along it and probably has the most apartments, but not all of them are within a few blocks of 99, and you wouldn’t likely ride RapidRide A one stop or two between them.
> so I’m not sure why WL thinks there is more density ‘along 405’ than along Bellevue Way.
That’s not what I said. I said those i405 apartment blocks are denser than what Mike was referencing and are more similar to what is along pacific highway.
Also is a good example of a suburban city placing their density next to a freeway that really has no connection versus along their avenue.
> Bellevue Way SE 3rd to SE 6th, i.e. outside of the downtown ‘square’)
Yes we know about those, I and mike are talking about the apartments further South.
> We were talking about the entire RapidRide A corridor, a lot of which is strip malls, supermarket plazas with large parking lots, and only occasionally a cluster of 2-3 five-story apartments
There’s a large clusters of apartments outside federal way downtown. They are slightly away from pacific highway but still walkable to it.
* S 288st has La Madera Apartments (https://goo.gl/maps/DdeDE4n7UxfntJDQ9) and The Village At Redondo
* S 272nd Street has the Avana Star Lake https://goo.gl/maps/w7xUuktdVJWAAfE76, and also Silver Shadow Apartments.
* S 260th Street has Appian Way Apartments and Saddlebrook,
* S 252 and S 244 don’t have apartments but still denser single family housing and a grid so easier to get to than on bellevue way (though I guess there is a hill)
* S 240 has hillline college
* kent des moins road has something similar to the i405 apartments silverwood park apartments next to i-5; but in this case it is close enough that one could walk over to pacific highway
* S 216 has viewpoint apartments, emerald court, and waterview crossing
I could go and list more, but practically almost every intersection of pacific highway has a sizeable apartment cluster.
South of the 112th junction, Bellevue Way is functionally an I90 on/off-ramp, so I don’t think it’s relevant to compare to Pacific Hwy.
My take on this line of discussion comes down to this. If you locate a transit line, either bus or rail, in the correct place to begin with, you won’t then need to come in later from a place of desperation arguing for zoning reform and TOD, in order to save your poor alignment and station placement mistake. The A Line’s success doesn’t hinge on upzoning or TOD. It’s a success without it. On the other hand, East Main station, for example, is a horribly placed station, and can only be a success if the area around it dramatically changes.
> The A Line’s success doesn’t hinge on upzoning or TOD. It’s a success without it. On the other hand, East Main station, for example, is a horribly placed station, and can only be a success if the area around it dramatically changes.
The entire point I am making is that the A line does have apartments along it. And there were upzonings along the corridor as well. I have no idea why people keep thinking there isn’t much housing along it.
> South of the 112th junction, Bellevue Way is functionally an I90 on/off-ramp, so I don’t think it’s relevant to compare to Pacific Hwy.
Mike referenced apartments from “Bellevue Way has apartments all along it, from NE 30th Street to SE 19th Street” I was comparing that those really aren’t that dense compared to the ones near i-405 or to what Pacific Highway has.
Anyways again my main point here is to highlight that Pacific Highway has a lot more housing density than it first appears.
sorry I interpreted your comment incorrectly, you can ignore my most recent response.
“My take on this line of discussion comes down to this. If you locate a transit line, either bus or rail, in the correct place to begin with, you won’t then need to come in later from a place of desperation arguing for zoning reform and TOD, in order to save your poor alignment and station placement mistake. The A Line’s success doesn’t hinge on upzoning or TOD. It’s a success without it. On the other hand, East Main station, for example, is a horribly placed station, and can only be a success if the area around it dramatically changes.”
That is pretty much the nugget Sam. But a major reason the A line is efficient is because suburban “exclusionary” zoning, i.e. SFH zoning that precludes retail and commercial development in the SFH zone, condensed retail and commercial (and to some extent multi-family) in a huge area along this awful bit of land called 99 S. that was sacrificed for a highway. The area around East Main station will never be able to compete retail wise with Bellevue Way and will never dramatically change. Why should it? To justify ST placing a East Link station in a terrible location?
The keys are:
1. Don’t locate Link where folks ain’t. That is your point.
2. Don’t locate Link where folks don’t want to live now because they probably won’t want to live there in the future, which usually is why they ain’t there now, if the goal is to have housing manufacture the ridership for Link.
3. Don’t expect folks to change the zoning of where they live now because
ST was stupid enough to put a light rail station next to them they will never ride. Telling say Surrey Downs good news, the Seattle renters are coming to TOD near you, won’t sell. If that is true they can move to The Spring Dist. if there ever is a Spring Dist. that is already zoned for (very expensive) multi-family housing and currently is a place folks don’t want to live.
4. Understand that neighborhoods where folks do want to live usually want Link underground. Yes, it’s cheaper to locate it along a ROW near a freeway but don’t expect folks to suddenly want to live next to a freeway and elevated/surface Link station when the reason the Link station is located there is because the land was cheap because folks didn’t want to live there. Post pandemic and the loss of the peak commuter this mistake has become more acute because ST hopes housing will manufacture the riders to meet its inflated ridership estimates.
5. For the vast majority of folks transit is a very minor consideration when it comes to where to live. Affordability, schools, public safety, neighborhood character (SFH) are the major factors, especially with WFH.
6. TOD implies three things within walking distance (1/4 mile) of a transit station: 1. retail density; 2. jobs/commercial density; 3. housing density. It is hard to get all three — especially within 1/4 mile of one another — because folks usually don’t want to LIVE next to numbers 1 and 2, but really you only need 1 and 2 for TOD, which is the definition of Seattle’s downtown core that once was quite vibrant before crime and WFH. I love downtown Issaquah for shopping, and big box stores to Old Front Street, but I don’t want to live there. I want to drive there. This is the fundamental mistake in the PSRC’s Vision Statements because the PSRC is filled with ideologues and urbanists. Folks don’t want to live in TOD; they want to work and shop in TOD.
7. At least pre-pandemic, mixed use “TOD” development (office, retail, housing) had a zoning flaw “urban planners” who don’t understand construction or development did not understand: office buildings are cheaper to build but lease out for more per sf than housing, and housing is more profitable than retail, so you end up with no retail SPACE when retail is hard enough to create. But without retail TOD is crap and no one wants to visit let alone work or live there. Unfortunately, there is only so much retail an area can support, and if it is going to be walkable it has to be condensed. Where it ends up being condensed has a 1000 different factors over long periods of time, but usually transit isn’t one of them. Or 3rd Ave. would have retail density. Too much of Link is ST trying to reinvent the retail wheel when folks don’t want a new wheel. There is already plenty of good retail density.
8. People don’t mind taking some kind of transportation to retail or offices because they don’t want to live near either. They have done it for years. Cars, buses, bikes, trains, commuting on packed transit an hour each way before WFH, folks were just desperate to not live in an urban retail/commercial zone.
9. A fundamental flaw with “TOD” is most Americans won’t or can’t walk more than 1/4 mile, especially if they have to carry things (and won’t walk at all unless it is 100% safe). That just is not large enough of a radius to combine retail density, commercial and housing unless you have height limits like downtown Seattle or Bellevue. Folks don’t want to walk 1/4 mile to a corner “grocery store” anymore. They want really large grocery stores that with parking consume a ton of the 1/4-mile radius alone. It would be like a mall like Bell Square asking shoppers to walk 1/4 mile from the parking lot to the mall. They won’t do it.
10. Women decide where a couple lives. There are no women on this blog because it is about transit, although TOD is really about RETAIL. 90% of men are straight so have a woman. Women make up more than 1/2 the U.S. population and buy 95% of everything sold in the U.S. If transit and TOD depend on retail better understand women, because Kemper Freeman does (and decided Link was not important to his retail), and so do U Village and Simon Properties that owns Northgate Mall which I think will be quite popular because of the retail, not the housing, and will cause real problems for downtown Seattle retail because Northgate Mall will be SAFE, retail denser, has much better parking, great transit access, all the reasons U Village does so well and why the A line is efficient despite running along 99 S. But very, very few shoppers are going to shop at Northgate Mall and say to themselves, I want to move here next to the mall. They just want easy parking or transit access to vibrant and dense retail and to then go home with their purchases. The irony is Northgate Mall is in Seattle, but will badly hurt downtown retail because Northgate Mall’s owners understand women and will have plenty of parking and SAFE SAFE SAFE shopping while ideologues created downtown Seattle.
From the PSRC to ST it has been fools gold to get folks, or force them, to live next to transit or TOD unless the housing is publicly subsidized, because for most housing, retail and commercial don’t mix, although it is the dream of urban planners. So make sure the stations are near vibrant retail and offices (although there is not enough of either to go around and East Link highlights that) because folks don’t mind driving or taking transit to vibrant retail, or the office if they must, and those two can mix if done halfway well, even along a highway like 99 within 1/4 mile of the station.
But forget about Surrey Downs being the savior for East Main Station.
“Women decide where a couple lives. There are no women on this blog because it is about transit,”
Please stop with this. As this does nothing to help your argument and quite frankly shows a lot of disrespect to everyone’s intelligence. I know many couples in my personal life who searched, decided, and bought their house as a partnership because that is what a marriage is.
“the legally or formally recognized union of two people as partners in a personal relationship”
Because at the end of the day this is a purchasing decision made by two people not one.
There are also women on here, so no need for that comment as a means to discredit other people’s arguments. It’s honestly very disrespectful to the women I know who work in transit or are transit advocates as they actually work hard to help make women feel safe on transit. Because the American Public Transit Association or APTA has actually studied ridership statistics and the majority of riders they surveyed are women, in paticular women of color.
“a major reason the A line is efficient is because suburban “exclusionary” zoning, i.e. SFH zoning that precludes retail and commercial development in the SFH zone, condensed retail and commercial”
All over King County retail/multifamily development is limited to 30% of the housing-allowed land, mostly along stroads, at arterial intersections, and in urban villages. Pacific Highway is not unusual in this regard, so that doesn’t explain why the A has higher ridership than other routes.
What makes Pacific Highway unusual is that it’s so long and has commercial/multifamily along its entire length.
70-80% of the residential-allowed land in King County is single-family (with ADUs/2-4-plexes as applicable), including in Seattle. Multifamily/commercial development is limited to stroads and certain other places. Pacific Highway
“If you locate a transit line, either bus or rail, in the correct place to begin with, you won’t then need to come in later from a place of desperation arguing for zoning reform and TOD, in order to save your poor alignment and station placement mistake. The A Line’s success doesn’t hinge on upzoning or TOD. It’s a success without it.”
If the entire county has poor zoning, there’s no correct place to put it.
The A is relatively successful but doesn’t have world-class ridership. More upzoning and TOD would make it more successful. Kent zoned an urban village on its side of 99. Des Moines zoned a couple of TOD buildings, but left most of it beyond the immediate college area as “auto-oriented” strip malls and one-story commercial buildings.
Linear density is better than nothing, but rectangular density is more ideal. That allows people to walk to more things in two dimensions. Downtown Federal Way is an example of rectangular density. You could have several of those along Pacific Highway with the A connecting them all. Or you could expand the density corridor ten blocks on both sides where topography allows. Then the A would go through a larger area with more people and businesses, and it would thus have more ridership.
“On the other hand, East Main station, for example, is a horribly placed station, and can only be a success if the area around it dramatically changes.”
“70-80% of the residential-allowed land in King County is single-family (with ADUs/2-4-plexes as applicable), including in Seattle. Multifamily/commercial development is limited to stroads and certain other places. Pacific Highway”.
So let me get this straight Mike: you are proposing we remove zoning restrictions on offices and retail so they can disperse to the SFH zones so there is no walkable retail or commercial space anywhere?
Mike, I think you are high at 70% to 80%, and SFH + DADU/ADU/2-4 plexes IS the definition of multi-family and missing middle housing. There just are not any SFH only zones anymore except in HOA’s, which ironically are exempt from HB 1110.
To argue, “Multifamily/commercial development is limited to stroads and certain other places” conflates two very different things or uses: commercial, and “multi-family”. Is Capitol Hill/Broadway a stroad? Ballard? Pioneer Square? Is Bellevue Way a stroad. Downtown Kirkland? MI’s town center with sleepy 76th/27th as its west/east spine? Of course not, and yet they all have multi-family and commercial.
A real problem with the concept of TOD — other than what I previously discussed, that generally people don’t want to live where retail and commercial density is — is the different needs of each, which is why they are segregated and have different minimum lot sizes and different regulatory limits, and most importantly different access.
For example, if you are going to have significant density for offices or retail which means no yard setbacks or lot vegetation you must have large access roads, and often highways. You don’t site a major mall or 50 story office tower or Ikea or QFC in a residential zone with very limited street access or next to residential housing.
If the argument is more SFH should be opened to more HOUSING density that is one argument, and then the question is whether you want to disperse that new housing to residential zones, or like the PSRC argues condense it in multi-family housing near transit (although admittedly most people don’t want to live there), but whether to site offices and retail in those residential zones, as you propose, is a much different argument.
To be walkable at all you must have retail density. Remember, most folks can only walk 1/4 mile. There just is not enough retail to create retail density in this huge and undense region without condensing it with zoning, which means a retail zone, which by definition means retail (and office) is excluded from other zones, mostly SFH.
In fact, in many eastside cities the traditional zoning excludes commercial and retail from multi-family zones because….drum roll… people living in multi-family zones still think of that as their home and don’t want to live next to retail and commercial density with no yard setbacks, high traffic volumes, tall building heights, lots of noise and lighting. I know architects and urban planners make it look nice for places like The Spring Dist. mixing the three, but it almost never works.
Anyone familiar with 99 S. knows it is not a very nice area. After all, like Aurora it is a highway, and if you need to rent a hotel room by the hour that is where you go. Folks don’t want to live there if they don’t have to, but don’t want commercial and retail where they do live, so zoning 99 retail/commercial is the perfect solution to an area no one wants to live in.
The final point the article makes, and I have pointed out before, is transit is expensive, especially if you want to run it to undense places. The A line is efficient because retail and commercial got condensed along 99 S. Make it less “efficient” because fewer ride it because there is less retail/commercial density which really means riders vs. cost and then the A line becomes inefficient and should have its frequency cut.
You get so focused on SFH zoning — that really has to do with housing supply (which I think is grossly overestimated so oppose upzoning SFH zones) you miss that what we are talking about is condensing retail and commercial uses so they are walkable so transit can serve them (TOD without the housing), and they can have the regulatory limits that allow true density. A car can easily drive from one remote retail or jobs spot to another, but not someone on foot or on a bus.
You could upzone the SFH zones to 50 story multi-family, but still you need to condense retail and office (use zoning) if they are going to be walkable, and there is just a limited amount of retail and commercial busninesses (especially commercial post pandemic) so you really have to restrict where it can go, and anyone who has driven along 99 S. or anywhere in S. King Co. has seen how disappointedly undense the retail is, mile after mile of shops and businesses along real stroads because of our original flawed zoning for 6500 sq miles with a relatively tiny population, but it would be even less dense if not along highways like 99 and excluded from the SFH zones.
It just has nothing to do with zoning for housing or SFH homes, except to condense retail and commercial you have to limit where it can be built so it can’t be built anywhere, where huge regulatory limits are acceptable to create density and walkability, and where there is massive road access because buses like the A line drive on roads too.
“If the entire county has poor zoning, there’s no correct place to put it.”
“The A is relatively successful but doesn’t have world-class ridership. More upzoning and TOD would make it more successful. Kent zoned an urban village on its side of 99. Des Moines zoned a couple of TOD buildings, but left most of it beyond the immediate college area as “auto-oriented” strip malls and one-story commercial buildings.”
That is a crazy statement, Mike. Yes, our population and geographic size make light rail a poor economic choice for most of the three counties, but there are excellent areas (especially pre-pandemic when the levies passed) to site Link stations. The county’s zoning has nothing to do with poor decisions by ST about which areas supported light rail.
For example, Northgate to UW to Capitol Hill to Downtown Seattle to CID. Pre-pandemic from downtown Seattle to downtown Bellevue (Bellevue Way). Maybe even to Microsoft pre-pandemic.
You don’t site Link where the folks are not and zone for them to come because they are not coming because this region won’t grow by 1 million residents over the next 20 years. This is likely it for the next 20 years, and any growth probably won’t ride transit.
If an area or station like East Main is a terrible location for a Link station don’t put one there. Or Wilburton or The Spring Dist. or even downtown Redmond that pre-pandemic was estimated to have 1300 boardings/day in a city of 80,000 and is very remote. Don’t put one in S. Kirkland and Issaquah and then complain about the zoning. You don’t run it to West Seattle, or even Ballard, because there is too much nothingness in between, and even when you get there, and neither plans to upzone significantly. Overall Seattle has terrible density because it is very large and has relatively a small number of residents and most folks like SFH.
The county’s zoning is fine. Multi-family housing is allowed on 99 S. already, it is just people don’t want to live along 99 S. but it is the fastest route for the A line and there is retail and commercial along 99 and folks want fast trips whether in a car or on transit.
Yes, the A Line does not have world class ridership numbers, but did you expect it to along 99 S. in S. King Co.? What makes the article interesting is all of us, before reading it, would have said the A has terrible ridership, but compared to the rest of Metro it is still better, which says more about the rest of Metro than the A line.
It is the county’s population and population density that never supported light rail in most areas. That is all. You can’t change that. You can’t zone for people that are not there or coming hoping they will move to this huge three-county area, want to ride transit, live near transit or along 99 S., because so much of our regional planning is based on false future population growth estimates because ST and the urban planners knew we did not have the regional population for most of Link and most of the stupid upzoning and mixed-use zoning, so they made it up. The miracle is there is ANY retail density in S. King Co. Drive the Maple Valley Highway or Issaquah to Hobart Road someday.
Sam hit the nail on the head: 1. don’t build Link stations where the people or retail or commerce are not and then bitch about the zoning; and 2. don’t expect the residential neighborhoods that got a stupid Link station next to them to change their zoning or character to make that station valid, because it never will be, especially post pandemic.
“If the entire county has poor zoning, there’s no correct place to put it.”
Mike, if you believe that, then why did you once say it would have been better for East Link to go up Bellevue Way than 112th?
WL, thank you for corroborating the “mixed-useness” of Pacific Highway and contrasting it with other areas.
Another thing I noticed on Pacific Highway was a large number of hotels/motels with weekly rates, which is also housing of a sort.
Circling back to Andrew’s post and something that is reasonably close to being on topic:
If you look at Andrew’s data an interesting trend emerges. Both RR A and #7 have average realized speeds equal to about 1/3 of the posted speed limits of the roads they operate on. This is despite the fact that RR A has more spread out stops and operates on a state Hwy with higher speed limits, fewer traffic lights, and less congestion. It still only achieves a speed of about 1/3 the posted speed limit, just like #7 on Rainier Ave.
Is this a general characteristic of non-express bus systems? That they generally operate at an average speed equal to 1/3 the posted speed limit? Or has Metro set an average speed of 1/3 of the posted limit as a design standard? I.e., has Metro baked in this ratio by design.
You can sort of see how something like this might be. The #7 with its lower peak speed will spend substantially less time accelerating and decelerating, and buses generally don’t have very good acceleration characteristics anyhow. So the effect of less accel/decel might offset the closer stop spacing.
Additionally, the #7 actually slightly outperforms RR A when compared against this speed metric. The difference is small, but it might be because ICE powered road vehicles generally have more acceleration at low speed than at high speed. #7 can take advantage of this because it never achieves really high peak speeds, whereas RR A will have much less acceleration potential as it nears its peak speed.
This metric also gives some insight into the speed advantage of cars. If buses only ever achieve an average of 1/3 the posted speed limit, whereas cars are usually operating near the posted speed limit, then cars will travel at 3 times the speed of a bus and be 200% faster.
And, yes, cars still need to stop at signals, so cars might not see this much speed advantage in practice. But often the lights are timed so a car traveling at the posted limit will see a traveling green and not have to stop at all. Additionally, this doesn’t account for the 15% increase in vehicle speeds that the police officers will always give you before enforcing the speed limit.
So…. Interesting data.
Note: This 1/3 speed ratio wouldn’t apply to Light Rail (outside of the RV) because LR has its own ROW with no traffic signals and a completely different max speed than what is on the road system. Add being electrically powered LR also has much better acceleration characteristics.
> Is this a general characteristic of non-express bus systems? That they generally operate at an average speed equal to 1/3 the posted speed limit? Or has Metro set an average speed of 1/3 of the posted limit as a design standard? I.e., has Metro baked in this ratio by design.
It’s less to do with the speed limit itself; Most local bus routes (and around the world) typically end up around 10~12 miles per hour for end to end travel time (including dwell time). A large part of the total travel time is really the stops. If you have 20 bus stops and it takes 15~45 seconds for each one it adds up. Plus there is time to slow down and speed up.
For example London’s “TfL continues to publish average bus speed information in its budget and annual report. The target for average bus speed in 2020/21 is 9.3mph, compared with a 2019/20 forecast of 9.2 mph. ”
To contrast, say NYC subway. it’s average speed (including stops and dwell) is also 17 miles per hour with its relatively short stop (half mile) spacing. BART on the other hand is 30 miles per hour, with its very wide stop spacing (outside of downtown 2 miles).
> Note: This 1/3 speed ratio wouldn’t apply to Light Rail (outside of the RV) because LR has its own ROW with no traffic signals and a completely different max speed than what is on the road system. Add being electrically powered LR also has much better acceleration characteristics.
It doesn’t have much to do with acceleration speed, actually many people complain that busses are too jerky with their starts/stops since they accelerate ‘faster’ than light rail sometimes. Also the light rail is typically running at the same speed as the nearby road. What really makes it faster is not having to stop at intersections but also it has a lot less stops.
This is also how express busses on the freeway can be quicker than the light rail sometimes.
> This metric also gives some insight into the speed advantage of cars. If buses only ever achieve an average of 1/3 the posted speed limit, whereas cars are usually operating near the posted speed limit, then cars will travel at 3 times the speed of a bus and be 200% faster.
Assuming there is no traffic, that is generally true and is what Houston, Los Angeles etc… many US cities thought was the future. What they forgot is you’ll need some giant parking lot for all those cars at every destination and massive roads to accommodate all those cars. That being said, if one desires to always travel far distances for every trip (getting coffee/grocery shopping) transit won’t quite work.
So many topics, so little time….
First, there is no such thing as “acceleration speed”. Acceleration is actually the derivative of speed. The two are not the same thing.
Second, LR most definitely does have higher (and smoother) acceleration than buses. This is particularly true at higher speeds because electric motors have a flatter torque curve than ICEs. In fact, you can usually tell the newer Link operators because they have a hard time hitting their target speed due to the higher acceleration at speed and therefore tend to “hunt” a little before getting it right.
But that herky jerky motion you sense on a bus isn’t actually a sustainable acceleration. It arises from something called “jerk” in physics (honest). Jerk is the first derivative of acceleration, or the second derivative of velocity.
Jerk is what you get when a new driver drops in the clutch on a car and stalls it out, or when the brakes suddenly grab near a stop. Such motion can result in momentarily high accelerations that throw riders to the floor, but they are also fundamentally unsustainable accelerations with typical road vehicles.
Third, since velocity is just acceleration integrated over time, a vehicle with a higher acceleration that remains high as velocity builds will have a shorter total time to reach any given speed. This is why the #7 takes less time to accelerate to its target speed than RR A. Because at higher speeds RR A has lower acceleration.
And I get that dwell time is important, but even with all the fancy offboard payment systems of RR, the RR dwell time just isn’t that much better than a standard bus.
You would think that #7 with its slightly longer dwell times and it’s much more frequent stops would pay a bigger penalty in total dwell time over a given distance, and that this would negatively affect its performance.
Yet #7 actually outperforms RR A slightly on the 1/3 posted speed metric. It’s actually somewhat astonishing.
The #7, with longer dwell times, more stops that incur that dwell time, more traffic lights, and more congestion, actually has an average speed as close (in %) to the posted speed limit as does RR A, and in fact might actually be outperforming RR A.
Or think of it in terms of momentum transfer.
There is only so much rotational momentum in an ICE. You can transfer all that rotational momentum into linear motion as fast as want, but once it is gone it is gone.
I know what acceleration versus jerk versus speed is. Though it is my bad for saying acceleration speed. Thanks for the explanation
My main point was that the bus acceleration is basically within ballpark of the light rail acceleration. The electrified acceleration is needed over diesel locomotives which have slower acceleration
> And I get that dwell time is important, but even with all the fancy offboard payment systems of RR, the RR dwell time just isn’t that much better than a standard bus.
The main speed advantage of the RR is really from the stop removals. Though the off board payment can decrease dwell time more when there’s lots of riders at a stop.
> The #7, with longer dwell times, more stops that incur that dwell time, more traffic lights, and more congestion, actually has an average speed as close (in %) to the posted speed limit as does RR A, and in fact might actually be outperforming RR A.
The 7 does have dedicated BAT lanes for a portion of it. Though I am a bit surprised, I was also under the impression that the RR A was faster
That is exactly the point. The acceleration capability of an ICE powered bus is nowhere near as good as the acceleration capability of LR. Why? Because the acceleration capability of a bus decreases with increasing speed, whereas the acceleration capability of LR is relatively constant with increasing speed.
This is a fundamental characteristic of ICE powered vehicles. They can often accelerate fast “off the line”, but the level of acceleration drops quickly as vehicle speed increases. Not so much with electric vehicles like LR, or a Tesla.
So why is the average speed of the #7 so good compared to RR A? Despite the lower road speed, more stops, longer dwell time, more lights, and more congestion?
Part of the answer to that question is because #7 doesn’t accelerate to as high a speed, and therefore the average acceleration is higher. The #7 benefits from the higher acceleration at lower speeds, without paying the penalty of lower acceleration at higher speed that RR A has to pay.
So it appears that in some respects the #7 actually outperforms RR A.
Im not sure that it’s from the acceleration that makes the difference from one bus route to another.
My guesses are with rapidride A maybe from right turning cars stopping the hov lane or perhaps they just have a less ambitious schedule
So if RR A actually does stay as RapidRide after Federal Way Link opens, is the plan to have it directly serve the Star Lake Link station?
Or does Metro want people going to the Link station to first take RR A to the Redondo Heights PAR and then transfer to a shuttle to go the last little bit to the Link station? It’s only about a mile.
It seems like direct service to the Star Lake station with RR A would be much more efficient, but I’m sure if Metro actually did that then the traveling public would want RR A to actually layover at Star Lake to make the transfer better.
Maybe Metro could split RR A into two segments with each segment laying over at Star Lake LR Station.
It’s not that much farther from SR99 and Southwest 272nd to the West Kent Station site than it is to turn the corner and pass through Star Link Station. The difference in travel time for those riders not transferring to Link would be too high a price. Jogging over to Star Lake would be the 36’s former VA Hospital Hospital loop for South King County.
Successful transit serves the destinations that people want and need to go to. The Star Lake LR Station will easily be the biggest transit destination between KDM and the FWTC. In fact, it is pretty much the only major transit destination along this part of Hwy 99.
And it is not just a little bit farther for these riders to go to KDM, it is a lot farther. KDM is about 2.5 mikes from the Redondo Heights PAR, whereas the Star Lake station is only about a half mile.
So it is 5 times the distance along Hwy 99. And with multiple stops and lights. There are none of these impediments to speed along 272nd. And it is approx only 20% of the distance.
Also, Andrew’s data doesn’t address it, but it is easy to imagine that the biggest destination for RR A riders is the SeaTac airport area. Forcing all these transit riders to take a slower service to KDM to get to their destination when there is a fast, reliable service just a half mile away seems unjustified.
Where do you come up with these crazy ideas? The problem is the Link alignment. Instead of running on 99 where the walk-on passengers are, it runs on I-5 and serves a minor little isolated P&R close to the main Federal Way P&R. Drivers also have alternatives at KDM P&R, Angle Lake P&R, and TIB P&R. Since Link doesn’t go to 272nd & 99 at Federal Way’s and Des Moines’ insistence (Kent wanted it on 99), riders going to 272nd & 99 can transfer to the A at Federal Way station or KDM station. That’s the tradeoff of having Link on I-5. There are many times more people at Federal Way and KDM stations than at 272. I think Metro Connects envisioned an east-west bus route on 272nd, probably an infrequent coverage route or two. Not rerouting the A.
I don’t think fast, efficient, transfers between modes at high transit demand locations is a “crazy” idea. It is exactly what our transit agencies should be striving for.
Star Lake will easily be the highest demand transit site between KDM and FWTC. It needs to be served in a fast and efficient manner.
The distance to get there from Hwy 99 and 272nd is 1/5 the distance to go from the same spot to KDM. And the trip from there will be a lot faster on Link.
But hey, if Metro doesn’t provide a high quality transfer opportunity at Star Lake, at least the riders on RR A will be able to look over and see the train zip by on its elevated guideway.
But I do agree that Link should be on Hwy 99. It would be better for everyone involved, but the cities were concerned about their beautification project, and they had just gotten their first Dick’s.
I guess they had different priorities.
“I don’t think fast, efficient, transfers between modes at high transit demand locations is a “crazy” idea…. Star Lake will easily be the highest demand transit site between KDM and FWTC.”
That’s another way of saying it’s low. The high-demand sites will be KDM and FW.
I don’t think the ridership potential on this part of the route can really be that low. After all, Metro saw fit to install RR here.
Federal Way Link ridership estimates are between 20,000 and 40,000 daily boardings.
Last I saw, KDM was estimated to have 3500 daily boardings and Star Lake 3000 daily boardings. This, I believe, is based on the low end estimate of ridership from above.
So Star Lake is estimated to see boardings about equal to 85% of what KDM sees. That is significant. They just aren’t estimated to be that different.
So Star Lake should do just fine. And even its low end ridership estimate is in the range of 40 to 50% of the total ridership that RR A is able to accomplish today.
That is not an insignificant number, and Metro really needs to provide fast, efficient access to the station. The easiest way to do that is with RR A.
Lazarus, Star Lake station isn’t going to be like the 130th infill station, which needs to be a bus interrupt to make the station useful. Star Lake station will most be used by park and riders. Star Lake station also isn’t sandwiched in between two higher density neighborhoods, like 130th is, with Lake City to the east, and Aurora to the west. Suggesting the A Line detour to the station, no offense, sounds like you don’t know that area. And I am someone who is usually pro-detour! Making the A Line detour to the station for an insignificant amount of passengers would be a colossal waste of time. Granted, in a couple of decades, when the area has grown, maybe it will need a higher level of bus service, but when the station opens, it won’t. But, whatever that area will need, the last thing that should happen is detouring the A Line. That would go down as one of the biggest blunders Metro ever made.
At the most, perhaps the route 183 could be rejiggered and its frequency increased, but, again, riders for that station will mostly come from the garage.
I’ve always doubted Star Lake station should exist in the first place. Just close the P&R.
Lazarus: According to the last systemwide forecasts published here, KDM has 4300 to 272nd at 3000.
That’s 70 percent of the KDM riders.
I can think of plenty of reasons to deviate a rapid bus. The Stream project in Tacoma is a good example. It’s just in this particular case, it’s not a quick deviation. It just seems easier to leave the route in its special lane on PAC Highway and its long green lights.
If a rider wants to get to Link, they can still go to FW or KDM. The overall journey will take longer on the bus but it may save time for the riders if the entire journey is considered.
It would take up to 15 minutes to go south from Fred Meyer to FW on RapidRide A — but going to Star Lake and transferring would take 5 minutes on the bus, 4-5 minutes on the train as well as making the effort transfer and wait for a train (say another 5-13 minutes for both things).
It would take longer for most if not all RR A trips headed to Link. And for RR A riders not using Link it would be a huge time waste.
The P&R that will be closed is Redondo Heights. IIRC, it was a land swap with Mark Twain Elementary School.
While Star Lake is a bummer of a station, consolidating the two P&R was a nice win for TOD.
Lazarus, I’m not sure what problem you are trying to solve. Are you asking how are Link riders supposed to get over to 272nd & Pac Hwy? If Link riders want to go there, they should transfer to the A Line where it wherever it will already connect with a Link station, like Federal Way, or KDM, etc. It’s the same problem as how are southbound Link riders supposed to get to Rainier and Alaska St? They transfer at Mount Baker station to a route 7. It would be insane to have the route 7 at Alaska St. to detour over to MLK, then return back to Rainier.
Agree. Good comp to the 7. Both A & 7 preform well because they serve a linear corridor.
I don’t see any need to serve 272nd St or Star Lake Link with RapidRide A.
1. The route already stops at the stations north (KDM) and south (FW) of that.
2. The only thing at that location is the Link station. Laying over would really wasteful to any rider not going to Link. From a surrounding land use lens, there’s no other there there.
3. There are plenty of local places on 99 that attract riders like Fred Meyer. Deviating just to swing by a middle Link station would add several minutes for many to get to that destination or others in the corridor.
4. The need to make left turns create operational problems with the right handed lanes and RapidRide stops on 99. Trying to turn a bus left from the 99 southbound right lane looks pretty risky even with some sort of signal preemption for the rest of the traffic.
That’s not to say that 272nd/ Star Lake Link shouldn’t get Metro service. It seems just not very useful for RapidRide A to deviate.
Sam: Suggesting the A Line detour to the station, no offense, sounds like you don’t know that area.
Thank you for saving my time, Sam. No offense, Lazarus, but yeah, not your geographic area of expertise.
Star Lake will be a park&ride station, nothing more, and might possibly continue as a stop on the night owl extension of ST Express 574, if ST deems such an extension worthwhile for Pierce County riders wanting a one-seat night owl ride to the airport. It would be rather baffling to not have STX 574 truncated during the day at Federal Way Commons Station when the time comes. The 1 Line will simply be faster to get to the airport terminal even with transfer time and time to walk from the station to the terminal.
There may be people nearby wanting to ride a bus to the school next door, and not well-served by the milk run known as route 183, and some who will live at or near the Redondo Heights TOD who want to keep that segment of route 190 just to get to that school, but the quickest path to 1 Line destinations to the north will be riding the A Line to Kent / Des Moines Station.
I can see that segment of route 190 being saved, and made all-day two-way, by making it the south end of the northern portion of route 183, and splitting the 183. I think that is worth doing based on the preponderance of apartment complexes (unfortunately mostly car-oriented) already there.
Yes, the Star Lake Station will be a PAR, but it will also be a major intercept point for people transferring to Link. Riders going to KDM would be well served by transferring to Link at Star Lake since Link will be substantially faster than RR A. Remember, Andrew’s data indicates the A only travels at 15 mph.
And the diversion on 272nd would be fast. That stretch of roadway has no signals or cross traffic, so the A should easily exceed its average speed of 15 mph during the diversion. And ST has also designed a very efficient bus turning loop in the north side of the parking structure that separates the bus traffic from pedestrian traffic. This is a significant improvement over the original plans.
Additionally, if the Redondo Heights PAR really is going away, then it becomes even more important for RR A to serve Star Lake. Some RR A users are using that PAR to access locations along PAC Hwy S. Once it closes those riders will undoubtably switch to Star Lake instead, assuming Metro provides service of course.
Some may recall how ST Express 574 used to have frequent night owl runs. Now, they are totally gone between midnight and 4 am.
When the 1 Line reaches Federal Way Commons, that would be an ideal time to restore 574 night owl service, timed to drop passengers at FWC in time for A Line northbound runs, and hold the A Line’s departure for transferring 574 riders. Similarly, hold the 574 for southbound A Line riders.
That would require allowing A Line riders night owl passage through SeaTac Airport Station’s mezzanine level.
Brent, according to an article in The Seattle Times yesterday there is very little open or to do in the Seattle area after 2 am. https://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/nightlife/looking-for-a-late-night-bite-or-social-scene-good-luck-seattle/
Basically, Denny’s in Sodo is about it, and it is packed and the parking lot full since there is no transit and Uber is pretty expensive to this area that has nothing walkable around it.
To be accurate there isn’t much to do in Seattle during the daytime these days either.
So this is probably why there is little night owl transit, in Seattle or Federal Way. And if there is a driver shortage because of dealing with the public I would imagine the night owl run would be the last route picked.
“For the Sleepless in Seattle, times are tough between 2 and 5 in the morning. There’s not a single full-service 24 hour grocery store within city limits. Most public transportation grinds to a halt around 1 a.m. Drive-thrus at a surprising number of fast food chain locations close before midnight, and there is no late-night diner scene here to speak of.”
“Past a certain hour, even food delivery apps dry up, leaving just gas station fare and ghost kitchens. Cafes, catering to a mostly daytime crowd, brew their last batch of coffee around 5 p.m. And most places that cater to a late-night crowd shut down around 2 a.m., when a state law restricting the hours of alcohol sales takes effect.
“For newcomers, it comes as a bit of a surprise. For some partyers and night-shift workers, it’s an annoyance”.
I don’t know if it is just the lack of customers, or whether it is crime, or Seattle getting older, or a nesting attitude after Covid. Many eastside grocery stores and pharmacies are 24 hour, although I don’t think there is a strong restaurant/bar/club scene on the eastside after 2 (really after 12).
I don’t personally stay out late anymore, but my son at the UW does, but of course their club night is going to end in time to get something to eat (and everyone knows if you get to Dick’s one minute late you are not getting served). They might take Link to Capitol Hill to start the evening but they always Uber home because there are just too many crazies on Link at that hour, and then along the Ave. on the walk home, and Uber will swing by a fast-food joint.
Seattle has always had a weak night owl scene compared to cities like San Francisco, but my guess is San Francisco’s night owl scene is pretty depressed today as well, probably due to the same reasons.
As far as airport access, I think 8% of trips to the airport are by transit, and probably a tiny fraction of airport trips are between 2 and 5 am, although some workers work late, although I don’t know if their start or end times are between 2 and 5 am.
The A Line and ST Express 574 come nowhere near Seattle. Do try to track what geographic area the post is about.
I understand that Brent. But you never identified who these riders would be on the 574 that would justify the cost of night owl service (actually closer to 10/11 pm to 2-4 am), or why they should transfer from the 574 to the A line. If downtown Seattle plus Capitol Hill don’t justify night owl service who are all these late-night riders who will fill the 574 and then transfer to the A line (that will be waiting) rather than transferring to Link, and why doesn’t current ridership on the A line support night owl service on the 574, at least according to ST?
The 574 begins its run at 2:03 in Lakewood heading north getting to FW at 2:42, and begins its southern route at IB and 176th at 4:33 am reaching FW at 5:01 am. https://www.soundtransit.org/ride-with-us/routes-schedules/574?direction=0&at=1683529200000&view=table&route_tab=schedule&stops_0=1_60900%2C3_27603&stops_1=3_27603%2C3_13215. The 574 then stops running around 10 –11 pm for each run, so I am not sure you are really talking about night owl service.
You state, “That would require allowing A Line riders night owl passage through SeaTac Airport Station’s mezzanine level” without stating who those riders are and where they are going, or why they should transfer from the 574 to the A. Are you suggesting truncating the 274 at FW?
Are you expecting a significant number of SeaTac passengers to take the 574 (after getting to the 574 with luggage in the dead of night) to then transfer to the A to catch a flight when 8% of all passengers use transit to get to the airport, including on Link from the north during times flights normally depart. I am sorry if I missed the point of this transfer during the few hours the 274 currently does not run.
I just think you are going to have to identify who these riders on the 574 (while holding the A) will be at these hours and where they are going before ST is going to see a need to restore night owl service or require this transfer. If they are going to the airport the 574 goes to the airport and there is no congestion at these hours. At least I didn’t understand the riders, their destinations, or their numbers that would justify night owl runs from your post. If I missed the point of restoring service on the 274 during the few hours it currently does not run, and requiring all riders to transfer to the A at FW and then rerouting the A through SeaTac I apologize.
I rode A in its infancy, and I found it to be a great ride, taking it from Tukwila Station to/from Federal Way. I remember that, going NB, it was packed by the time it reached SEA, and it was fairly full at least a few stations prior to that. It was most impressive to me that, how a behemoth transit agency such as KC Metro, which has about 6x as many buses as CT has, for instance, could pull together its “Rapid Ride” program in a much shorter time AND include such niceties as maps and audio and “next bus” signage at even their minor stops in such a short timeframe. KCM spends far less on marketing and far more on service than either ST or CT, and it shows in how fast they can pivot for initiatives like this while the others have meetings for years and years to discuss it.
I rode A in its infancy, and I found it to be a great ride, taking it from Tukwila Station to/from Federal Way. I remember that, going NB, it was packed by the time it reached SEA, and it was fairly full at least a few stations prior to that. It was most impressive to me that, how a behemoth transit agency such as KC Metro, which has about 6x as many buses as CT has, for instance, could pull together its “Rapid Ride” program in a much shorter time AND include such niceties as maps, audio, a button to turn on a light as another way that the driver can tell there’s someone waiting, and “next bus” signage at even their minor stops in such a short timeframe! KCM spends far less on marketing and far more on service than either ST or CT, and it shows in how fast they can pivot for initiatives like this while the others have meetings for years and years to discuss it.
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