7:19 AM: As the first week of RapidRide C Line and other Metro changes wraps up, we’re tracking the bus commute again today – comments are open on this story for bus riders’ experiences, and we will add to the story during the day if there’s any bus-related news. Yesterday afternoon, Metro spokesperson Jeff Switzer told WSB that two standby buses would be available again today with a transit coordinator tracking whether they’re needed. Here’s our coverage from the past week:
There was some slow going earlier this hour on 99, because of a stalled vehicle blocking a lane (thanks to those who messaged us about it!), but before we could even mention it here, we saw live video of WSDOT’s incident-response truck pushing it out of the way.
ADDED 10:32 AM: Councilmember Tom Rasmussen rode RapidRide on Thursday and writes about the experience, and his recommendations, here.
ADDED 11:21 AM: Metro is adding buses to RapidRide C Line. Just received the announcement:
Starting Monday, Oct. 8, King County Metro Transit is adding two morning and two afternoon peak commute bus trips to the new RapidRide C Line – a move intended to ease overcrowding and meet rising demand for the popular new service between West Seattle and downtown Seattle.
As a result, riders will see more RapidRide C Line peak service with trips running every 8 to 9 minutes, increased from every 10 minutes, during the highest ridership commute times – about 7 to 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 to 6 p.m.
It’s clear that adding two bus trips in the morning and afternoon schedule will help ease crowding, said Kevin Desmond, Metro Transit general manager.
“We understand that it was a challenging and frustrating first week for some commuters who rode overcrowded buses, or watched as full buses passed them at bus stops,” Desmond said. “As the week progressed we learned where to use standby coaches to best address these high ridership demands. The results support our decision to make those additions part of the regular schedule.
“We have heard customer feedback, and we appreciate everyone’s patience as we continue to make sure the C and D lines operate as smoothly as possible,” Desmond said.
Metro launched RapidRide C Line service Sept. 29 with buses scheduled to travel between West Seattle and downtown Seattle every 10 minutes during the morning commute.
Higher than expected ridership demand emerged this week during the peak commute times. Customer reports, early ridership data, and field observations helped to confirm that there was strong transit demand to justify adding two morning and two afternoon commute trips to the RapidRide C Line.
Metro noted hundreds of additional commuters on RapidRide and other bus routes from West Seattle compared to tallies from this spring. Metro transit planners and service coordinators will continue to actively monitor ridership, transit operations and performance and make adjustments to service as needed.
“This transit service is still very new and daily ridership can fluctuate and evolve, however we were seeing full buses passing riders at bus stops at about the same time each day,” Desmond said. “By adjusting the frequency of service to this emerging pattern we will ease overcrowding and reduce delays.”
As part of the Sept. 29 transit service change, Metro has a contingency budget to pay for the additional RapidRide C Line trips and will continue to operate two standby buses for the RapidRide C and D lines. The red and yellow RapidRide buses needed for the additional trips are available in Metro’s reserve fleet, which is set aside in case of mechanical problems. Metro will continue to assess the maximum fleet use that can be sustained on an ongoing basis.
Metro also is taking steps to maximize and fine-tune transit signal priority and other transit priority measures, as well as operator training and customer communications about transit conditions and commute options.
We will keep the daily comment centers going again Monday to get your take on how it affects the service.