Details on West Seattle RapidRide revelations: Route, name

Mentioned briefly this morning while the meeting was under way – now here are the full details from this morning’s West Seattle RapidRide briefing presented to the Seattle City Council:

Metro is running RapidRide, so most of the information came from its executives, but Seattle Department of Transportation had officials on hand too, including director Grace Crunican.

The briefing also brought pointed questions from city councilmembers including Transportation Committee chair Jan Drago, who is concerned that the RapidRide bus won’t be so rapid — with a variety of stops planned in addition to the “stations” that will be about a half-mile apart. Metro acknowledged that in fact, while certain parts of the route might save commuters time, in some cases RapidRide will NOT be the most “rapid” way to get downtown — express buses will still beat it.

First, the new details: This morning’s briefing provided the first major public confirmation that the RapidRide route will run all the way to Westwood Village; when public meetings in West Seattle began earlier this year, Metro had said there were three possibilities for where the route might end — Morgan Junction, the Fauntleroy ferry dock, or Westwood Village. The information presented today confirms it’s going to Westwood.

Other details of the route — such as the path it will take through The Junction and the Fauntleroy Triangle — appear to be awaiting confirmation.

Metro also revealed that its RapidRide routes will be named by letters. West Seattle is now dubbed “the C Line.”

And a few more features of the special RapidRide buses (artist’s rendering shown above) were mentioned too, such as plans to make wi-fi available, likely for free, to all riders. They’ll all be hybrid diesel-electric buses with bike racks.

In addition to the number of stops, which Crunican acknowledged was a source of tension between the city and county in their discussions of this route — as also was obvious from councilmembers’ line of questioning — there’s another sticking point: How riders will pay. Drago said bluntly that the only ideal way to run this kind of bus service would be for no payment to occur on board. Metro said politely that it’s infeasible to run it that way — there will be “smart card” readers at stations for certain passholders or ticketbuyers to use, but they still plan to make it possible for people to use cash to pay at the front of the bus.

Metro says another round of public meetings will start soon to continue discussing RapidRide details with people in West Seattle — and the official launch is now envisioned for September 2011. Today’s briefing included a few details on what authorities plan to do to meld bus service with mitigation of the transportation troubles expected when the “central waterfront” portion of The Viaduct comes down (not to mention the construction work that will begin on its southern end later this year. Extra bus service is to be added, and “transit priority” will be established on 99 to Seneca.

When all is running as projected, they said the West Seattle line could save 33 percent to 38 percent travel time — a ride downtown from Roxbury, normally 30 minutes, could be less than 23.

RapidRide has its own page on the county website, though it hasn’t been updated in a few months; find it here.

5 Replies to "Details on West Seattle RapidRide revelations: Route, name"

  • ZS June 4, 2008 (6:50 am)

    What a herculean joke…a bus is a bus is a bus! In other words, a bus can never become a true rapid transit option like a fixed-rail train or monorail.

    And, of course, the few elements that would make this type of bus at least quasi-rapid (fewer stations, no payments on board, direct routing) all get shot down. So in the end we will have another bus line, that gets you somewhere 3-4 minutes earlier (IF traffic cooperates), that has free wifi but costs a whole lot more.

    Wooohooo, can’t wait.

  • atemybuick June 4, 2008 (8:50 am)

    ZS is right. Without a dedicated right-of-way, this is just a fancy express bus. The RapidRide web site says there “might” be additional special lanes in some areas.

    They put “Rapid” in the name but doesn’t sound like this will really be “Bus Rapid Transit”.

    BRT on Wikipedia

  • J June 4, 2008 (10:01 am)

    While I, too, find it frustrating that what we’re getting is far from the service the Monorail would have provided, I must point out that there is one advantage to West Seattle’s Rapid Ride route that atemybuick and ZS ignored: the headways will be significantly shorter. This in itself will be a real improvement. Although it still seems to me we could have achieved that rather less expensively by tripling or quadrupling the number of buses on rte. 54.

  • Al June 4, 2008 (4:02 pm)

    This route does exactly what we didn’t want it to do, from the RapidRide website…”It will replace Metro’s Route 54 along Fauntleroy Way SW and California Avenue SW between Fauntleroy and downtown Seattle via the Alaska Junction.” And don’t forget, lest you assume that there will be the same stops as the current 54 route, no…”the ‘stations’ that will be about a half-mile apart.” Think about it. They are going ahead with the plan in spite of public input that clearly told them to leave the main route 54 intact and replace the 54x. This means ONE stop between the Alaska and Morgan Junctions. I was told in one of the RR sessions that I could take the 128 instead, with that metro rep not understanding that the 128 has 30 min headways! We will gain convenient access to Westwood, which is good, but we will loose a heavily used, USEFUL local route.

  • Mike June 5, 2008 (11:57 am)

    Wow… what a waste. Will start in 2011 (last I checked it’s 2008 now) so that does NOTHING for the next 2.5 years. The route also bypasses all of North Admiral and Alki. The current 57 route takes 45 minutes to get to my destination downtown…where I can look out the window of this building and see the Admiral area. I carpool with my wife, it’s 15 minutes door to door that way. It would be great if we can get a decent bus route that could come close to that amount of time. The other option we have is to drive to another bus stop area, hope our car is not broken into or marked to be towed away or better yet, side swiped by another driver while it’s parked.

    Figure it out Metro, this is pathetic. That and get a bike route that does not include the big rigs of the Port running over you. Maybe.. ohhh, I dunno… build a bike / walking path to downtown like there is on the north end of downtown to Magnolia?

Sorry, comment time is over.