Near the expected southern end of the future West Seattle RapidRide bus route, we caught up this morning with a city delegation including Councilmembers Tom Rasmussen and Jan Drago (at right, with various SDOT and council administration staff, two of whom live in West Seattle, as does Rasmussen). Our last major update on RapidRide came from a briefing presented to the city council last month (WSB coverage here); as a bus service to be provided by Metro, RapidRide is a county operation, but city leaders are trying to keep close watch on the plans. As Drago — who chairs the council’s Transportation Committee — put it, “This is the first of three (RapidRide routes) in the city and we want to make sure it’s done right – it’ll set a precedent for a long time to come” During that briefing in June, she had expressed a lot of concern that RR wouldn’t really live up to the “rapid” in “bus rapid transit” because it will still have a fair number of stops; this morning, Drago told WSB her concern about that has lessened a bit, because there are far fewer stops between Morgan Junction and downtown, than along the southern stretch between MJ and WV. She also said the bus-route tour was eye-opening in one respect: “There’s a lot more development going on over here than I realized.” As we discussed that development — particularly in the booming Triangle area — for a few minutes, Rasmussen noted that he wants to be sure developers are involved in the discussion before the RR design and other aspects are finalized, since so much will be changing in the area in the next few years before RR is scheduled to be ready to go in 2011. Drago said the city is sending Metro a letter with many followup questions regarding this RapidRide route (you can see a map here – the late-spring version that the city delegation was reviewing this morning matched that one except for a few additional stops between the ferry dock and Westwood Village). She also revealed there’s some talk of leasing parking lots – where and whose, we don’t know – to alleviate the parking crunch that’s already been caused by “park-n-hiders” who drive to The Junction and leave their cars in neighborhoods, to catch buses downtown. As for what’s next from the city standpoint, Drago expects her committee to revisit RapidRide late this year or early next. And with that, the delegation re-boarded its van, and headed back to City Hall.
West Seattle, Washington