More from last night’s Morgan Community Association meeting: New details about how Metro promises it will be beefing up West Seattle bus service, even though the “RapidRide branding” for planned service improvements is proposed to be delayed a year. What Metro’s Jack Latteman discussed with MoCA includes a plan to add rear-door card-readers to hundreds of buses to speed things up – read on for details on that and more:
September 2011 is when Metro originally had planned to debut what it calls the “C Line” of RapidRide, mostly along the same run now used by the 54 – which Latteman says is the second-highest-ridership route in Seattle. (The highest, he says, is the 120, which is on the table as a future RapidRide corridor, though that concept has seemed in recent transportation discussions to recede further into the future.)
But as reported here last month, Metro now says that it doesn’t want to debut the RapidRide branding at a time when construction impacts from Alaskan Way Viaduct “corridor” work will be at their highest – as evidenced by this chart provided last month:
However, as Latteman reiterated, they promise “enhanced service” even without the branding.
The details he laid out include:
*Design work that’s under way for additions including “a new set of stops … for Fauntleroy near the ferry terminal” and the “terminal” at Westwood Village. He says the design work is about a third done and that it should be at the “60 percent level” by year’s end, because SDOT will be building “capital facilities” next year. He says those facilities are “still on track” to include “bus bulbs” that will enable even the pre-RapidRide buses to stop “in the street” in spots, and that those will be completed “by the September 2011 ‘service change’.”
*Some “peak trips” may be added because of the 15 new buses Metro has received this summer and another 15 by this time next year, as part of the $30 million “mitigation” money from the state (as announced last September) to make up for the effects of the Viaduct-corridor construction. However —
*Some buses will have to be added to existing schedules to maintain those schedules because of slower traffic flow during construction.
*About 500 rear-door card readers are planned for buses around the system so that boarding can happen faster, likely starting next year
*In addition to the 54, the February service change may also include “ramping up service” on the 21x, the 56x, and the 121, which Latteman acknowledged doesn’t directly service West Seattle but has “heavily used trips in the 509 corridor that feed into The Viaduct”
He says a meeting with state staffers next Monday will be the next step in discussing the February plan, as well as what else might kick in by the middle of next year. He mentioned an “emphasis on rush hour” while elaborating that the traditional definition of rush hour no longer applies: “Some of our heaviest loads are at 2 pm, 9-10 am.”
Before his section of the busy MoCA meeting agenda was done, Latteman fielded some pointed questions, most notably, how will buses get into downtown when configurations start changing and construction starts intensifying? Among other possibilities, he mentioned, “We’ll see if it makes sense for some of our services to start using that new Fourth Avenue ramp [from the Spokane Street Viaduct] — even though in theory we could stay on the 99 corridor till 2015 because the Seneca ramp will stay up (while the tunnel is built).” Here’s the rendering of what that ramp’s going to look like, with traffic coming out right across from the City Light HQ on the south side of the existing SSV:
He also acknowledged that there’s talk of connecting the south-end RapidRide corridor with the future West Seattle line “by putting the 120 through Westwood Village,” and that the idea of connecting North Delridge with The Junction – the Route 50 configuration that didn’t make it through a recent round of Metro changes – is still a future possibility.
Still more to come from the MoCA meeting – from historic preservation to wastewater.
4:16 PM FOOTNOTE: Rochelle Ogershok from Metro e-mailed with a couple corrections from what Jack Latteman said last night: She says the 54 and 120 are actually the first and second highest-ridership WEST Seattle runs, not citywide. And she says the rear-card readers actually are more likely to be installed in “a couple of years.”