For the second consecutive week, West Seattle’s future RapidRide bus service resurfaced at a local community-group meeting. Last week, WSB’ers had a lot to say following our report on the Southwest District Council discussing a request to reopen the issue of its Triangle route. Today, a two-part update: First, the Fauntleroy Community Association got an update Tuesday night on how RR will travel through Fauntleroy. FCA is hoping to book a Metro rep for its March 23 all-membership meeting so that residents can take questions directly to the source.
Meantime, Susan Lantz-Day reported to the FCA board that Metro is still working on where RR will stop in relation to the ferry dock when it officially revs up in fall 2012, and addressing disability-access issues. The service, she says, will not lead to the addition of traffic lights in the area; a uniformed officer will still be on hand to direct traffic. The stops will use curb bulbs. FCA board members remain concerned about the east side of Fauntleroy, across from the dock, where the current bus shelter sits atop an access-challenged, taller-then-normal curb. Board president Bruce Butterfield said it’ll be vital for them to reiterate these concerns to the Metro at next month’s gathering (watch fauntleroy.net for more details). Now, part 2: We talked with Metro deputy general manager Victor Obeso re: some of the questions raised after last week’s RapidRide report – read on for our summary of that conversation:
For one, Obeso (county photo at left) re-confirmed the RapidRide branding is not going into use until 2012 – some reports about the recent finalization of federal funding had confused that point. They’re increasing service sooner (including what was added this week), and probably will have more service increases later this year, but Obeso says those decisions are being made based on information from the state regarding progress of the Alaskan Way Viaduct construction work – since the added service is being paid for with state-supplied “mitigation” money, which is available through mid-2013.
Our conversation preceded the Fauntleroy meeting, but he brought up the northbound bus shelter that FCA is concerned about, saying, “That project is being worked on this year” – while other RapidRide stops/stations work won’t get under way till next year, looking ahead to the 2012 launch. A few “preview stations” may actually be up and running, with ORCA card readers, in 2011 – he mentioned 35th and Fauntleroy, in particular.
We asked Obeso a question that came up in comments after last week’s story – what about transit lanes? He said a few short segments of the overall route may have them, but in Metro’s research, they did not save significant time, so they are not a focus. Along California SW, for example, they’re still planning curb bulbs, so that street parking won’t be lost.
Regarding how the RapidRide route – which at its heart replaces the 54 – works with other routes, he said that about a year prior to the service launch – in other words, around fall of next year – “we’ll be back out (asking the community) ‘so how do we take this combination of routes and blend it with RapidRide’ – which routes will be more local, which will keep going downtown.”
As for taking another look at the Triangle route (above), as the Southwest District Council discussed last week – he says “it would be a huge issue for us to go back to the drawing board on,” but, “we’re more than happy to sit down with (community advocates), more than willing to look at the other factors” that have been mentioned. Still, he noted, “we have progressed significantly with the city on design” of facilities for the already-approved route, which was passed as a county ordinance.
Last question we asked – how about that possible future Delridge RapidRide route?
“Delridge is on a list of possible future projects,” Obeso replied, adding, “We need to stabilize our funding before we can plan for significant growth in the future. Whether there are new funding sources or partnerships with the state … Delridge and the 120 route are ‘high-performing'” and therefore on Metro’s radar.
And what about a bus running from Delridge to The Junction, as proposed – then discarded – last year? “We might talk about that when we revisit (routes, next year) – we might redirect resources.”