Metro has questions for you, as it unveils next steps in converting Route 120 into RapidRide H Line

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Though we’re almost three years from the expected launch of the RapidRide H Line – which will be a conversion of what’s now Route 120 – the process requires that some key decisions be made soon, Metro says, so the next round of feedback is launching now.

First: A brand-new online survey for you.

Next: Community meetings are planned in White Center and Burien during the second week of December (exact dates, times, locations to come).

Just before the survey was announced today, we talked with the project manager for the H Line development, Jerry Roberson, and Metro spokesperson Jeff Switzer. Roberson, a West Seattle resident, says the new round of feedback is to “find out what issues we should be addressing” before they wrap up the “planning phase” next spring, getting ready for construction in 2019 and launch in 2020 (likely with the September service change).

We asked about a key issue that’s resurfaced repeatedly in community-group discussions about the impending conversion: Concerns that RapidRide is geared toward getting people downtown quickly, but Route 120 is used much more for point-to-point transportation on Delridge.

That’s what they hope to learn more about during this feedback process, said Roberson. And because there will be no “underlying local service,” he acknowledged, “we’re going to have to be flexible.” That means instead of the standard RapidRide half-mile spacing, stops will likely be closer together, “especially in the more urban areas of the corridor – which is much of the corridor. … There are areas where we may have as close as quarter-mile (spacing),” though he expects the average will be more like a third of a mile. “That’s one of the things we’re going to take to the public.” Your feedback, Metro insists, will be vital. “Maybe the public will point out, here’s a critical stop, and here’s the reason why.”

They also want to hear exactly how you use transit and where it falls in your transportation usage – and find out where they might need to upgrade pedestrian connections to get people to RapidRide stops from home, school, business, etc. Where you start your trip and how you connect with transit are big questions they want you to answer, “so we can understand the needs,” Switzer explains.

Speaking of “where,” the final alignment of the H Line has not yet been settled, and they are looking at some alternatives in White Center – between 17th and Roxbury and 16th/107th – and in Burien, as circled on the map above. (That’s why Metro was collecting traffic data in WC recently, as we reported two weeks ago on partner site White Center Now.)

The feedback obtained from the new survey and at December open houses will be incorporated in time for follow-up meetings early next year, and then, Roberson says, their “target date to start design” is April 30th.

P.S. The project is a partnership with SDOT in part of because of the funding the city contributes to service; here’s our report from last spring on feedback that the city collected for H Line planning. That followed this Delridge Neighborhoods District Council discussion.

53 Replies to "Metro has questions for you, as it unveils next steps in converting Route 120 into RapidRide H Line"

  • Jort November 14, 2017 (2:14 pm)

    I hope that Metro will consider making the entire stretch of Delridge from the WS Bridge to White Center “Bus Lane Only” and close it completely to cars. This would be very effective at making the bus faster! 

    In case that suggestion is too “extreme”, then I am willing to compromise with some “Bus Bulbs,” which would prevent existing automobile traffic from passing the bus and backing it up in more and more traffic. Hopefully we can also add spikes or barriers of some kind to the median so that nobody can pass the bus when it’s stopped, either. 

    I love seeing buses act as traffic calming measures, since they serve the greater good of the community. I love the idea that nobody will be getting into downtown any faster than the bus gets into downtown. Then, maybe people will finally figure out that they should take the bus! We should be proud of bus bulbs, and everything they represent! Hooray bus bulbs!

    • Jon Wright November 14, 2017 (2:45 pm)

      I totally agree with the philosophy behind bus bulbs but the challenge becomes all the yahoos who decide that the center turn lane is really the “stopped bus passing lane.” I have had some interesting nose-to-nose encounters with other drivers while I was trying to turn left from California onto Findlay.

      • KM November 14, 2017 (3:03 pm)

        California/Morgan is a hotbed for this. I used to pass busses in turn lanes in some places before I realized it was not only illegal but unsafe. I’ve since learned. I see a lot of passing in Morgan Junction too, as many cars approach the SB left turn lane to turn E onto Fauntleroy, suddenly there’s a car in their turn lane trying to dart around the bus headed in the same direction.  I think the bus bulbs are great, now we need to enforce improper TWLT lane usage AND intersection blocking (and all the other issues!)

        • TreeHouse November 14, 2017 (7:26 pm)

          I agree with the bus bulbs! I feel bad for the bus drivers who have to deal with the rude drivers who speed by and cut them off from continuing on their route. That is one under appreciated and underpaid job!

      • Jort November 14, 2017 (3:05 pm)

        I agree, Jon. That’s why I would propose putting large, pointy spikes in the center lanes, which would immediately disable the illegally passing vehicle. In fairness, I would also put up a sign in the median that said, “SEVERE TIRE DAMAGE”, because I’m not THAT mean!

        If pointy, very sharp metal spikes are too “extreme” of a suggestion, then perhaps we could put planted medians of some kind, or just design the road so that passing is not possible.

        • The King November 14, 2017 (3:33 pm)

          Jort, I have noticed a trend in your posts where you are intentionally injuring drivers of vehicles. Maybe you think you’re being cute, but you come across as a disturbed sociopath. 

          • geographer November 14, 2017 (3:37 pm)

            Comes across as almost satirical to me

          • Jort November 14, 2017 (3:37 pm)

            Hi, The King. I may need your help. I am not aware of a special, biological bond between driver and automobile that would cause physical injuries to a person riding inside of a car whose tires were flattened. When a car gets a flat tire, does the driver’s arm just reflexively snap in half or something? I am confused…

            I am certainly aware of the profoundly deep emotional connection that people have with their automobiles. Perhaps you are telling me that if a car had its tires flattened as a result of an illegal action, that the driver would suffer a truly debilitating, unrecoverable emotional injury from which their psyches may never recover? If so, I may need to reconsider my idea. After all, I don’t want to advocate hurting anybody’s feelings…… :-(

          • Jort November 14, 2017 (3:44 pm)

            Additionally, I’m not aware of any pedestrians, bus passengers or cyclists who have intentionally injured any automobile drivers, but I am certainly aware that automobile drivers are responsible for more than 40,000 human fatalities in 2016, alone. Automobile-involved collisions are one of the leading causes of unintentional death in the United States, and that number continues to climb year-over-year. 

            But, sure, I’m a sociopath because I advocate for safer roads. 

        • Sam-c November 14, 2017 (5:43 pm)

          So, would the spikes blocking the turn lane be equal opportunity spikes?    When the bus gets stuck behind a garbage truck stopping every 60′ feet, i would chuckle, but not as hard as Jort will ROFL when a car’s tires blow out, and who knows where the car will end up.

          • rico November 14, 2017 (7:32 pm)

            Not all bus stops are the same with respect to the hazards of passing a stopped bus in the center turn lane.  There are many bus stops where it is absolutely safe and quite honestly the right thing to do, but not at the bus stops adjacent to busy intersections.   We pay a lot of money for that strip of pavement in the center of the road, use it when safe, keep people moving along. To become upset about people doing so in a safe manner is quite honestly weird and control freakish. I admit ignorance about the legal details of this scenario, but it does not strike me as an obvious offense.

          • KM November 14, 2017 (8:22 pm)

            Rico, using the TWTL to pass a vehicle headed in the same direction is illegal, according to the RCW. It doesn’t matter how much you think you’ve paid for it.

          • Boats November 14, 2017 (9:00 pm)

            Team Jort af

          • rico November 15, 2017 (7:01 am)

             The RCW prohibits passing a vehicle proceeding along the road in the center turn lane.  Most definitions of the word proceed include actual forward movement, so when the bus is stopped it is arguably not proceeding down the road at that time.


            It remains weird and control freakish to be worried about such things. 

  • Scott A November 14, 2017 (2:16 pm)

    Wow that survey is clunky to use.  I got through a few minutes of it and gave up.  Even on a regular desktop browser it was a pain.  I’ve done other online surveys for SDOT that while probably on the simplistic side gave me a chance to express a couple of key thoughts in free form fields.  This seemed to be lots of multiple choice and probably too complicated.

    • WSB November 14, 2017 (2:27 pm)

      I tried testing it- sometimes surveys include added information for stories, and going through them (until dropping out at the end so our “answers’ don’t actually get counted) makes the story better – and did notice a technical glitch or two. Nonetheless, this is what they’ve released, and there are some truly crucial sections, such as which stops people use, so not taking it all is … not a good thing. I did see a spot or two where the respondent was asked to explain an answer of “other,” and also there are feedback windows when you click on spots along the route where you either use the stop or would like to see it stop (of interest to for example Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights CC, which has advocated for routing it on Delridge by the Barton “triangle” stop, which is in a densifying area where new businesses are opening too) … TR

    • AMD November 14, 2017 (6:41 pm)

      SO clunky, my goodness.

      Having a feedback box when you pin the bus stops is good, except that when you start typing in it the page immediately scrolls up so you can’t see what you’re trying (typing blind and then scrolling up to make sure you got it right got the job done).  Also the question that asked how often you do a given activity with no time frame (per week, per year, ever?).

      I did take the survey, but I’ve taken A LOT of surveys for Metro over the years and this one I seriously was about to give up on.

      • qc November 14, 2017 (11:02 pm)

        Wow, I figured the complaints about the survey clunkiness were overblown. But no. It was terrible! AMD’s note about the page jumping to the bottom when you start typing is spot-on. It was so difficult to type when I couldn’t see the output. I hope Metro has a stern talking-to with whoever designed this. They’re going to lose out on a lot of potential feedback because people get frustrated and give up. 

        Worse yet, there didn’t seem to be anywhere to actually give feedback on the survey itself. Do they even know how bad it is?

        To really sum it up, here was a question near the end:

            Including yourself, how many transit users are in your household:

            * 0

            * 1

            * 2

            * 4 or more

        There was no option for 3!! Seriously!!

        • WSB November 14, 2017 (11:19 pm)

          I am bringing this to the attention of my Metro contact tomorrow. Will also ask where feedback is supposed to be sent.

        • Michelle November 15, 2017 (7:51 am)

          Yes, but there IS an option for ZERO. Think about that! If one includes oneself in the response, the fewest persons in a home would be one. So…what’s with the zero? Also, I have three in my household so I left it blank. The writers of this survey did not do their best work; the interface programmers didn’t do so well either.

    • Ari Yoder November 15, 2017 (7:01 am)

      I had the same problem and ended up aborting.  I had some things to say, but no place to say them.

  • TJ November 14, 2017 (2:49 pm)

    I’m glad we get a small break from reality, which is a post from Jort lol. Even some city politicians have admitted bus bulbs have been a bad idea. And closing a main arterial to car traffic? Being most people commute by car, that certainly wouldn’t be serving the common good, for sure not mine. And luckily, not a remote possibility. Besides, we have a train coming in 2025 I believe to cure all of our traffic woes. But that isn’t going to happen by then as it will be over time and over budget (if that is possible being part of a $54 billion budget)

    • Jort November 14, 2017 (3:14 pm)

      Hi TJ. False! Most people do not commute by car, when it comes to commuting to downtown Seattle! In fact, only 30 percent of commuters drive alone to downtown Seattle. 47 percent take transit!

      That’s why it’s so important to make sure that transit has the ultimate priority over people in their individual cars.

      Additionally, people who are driving alone in their cars should be eternally, unendingly grateful to the people who are riding the bus. One RapidRide bus can (and often does) hold hundreds of people. I’ll bet you don’t want all of those people driving their cars around, too!!??! Right?!?!

      The next time you’re stuck sitting behind a RapidRide bus at a bus bulb stop, instead of getting angry, maybe try saying, “Thanks, RapidRide, for helping create a better transportation option so that fewer people have to use their own cars on the road!!!!” You will probably feel a lot better!!!

      Also, one other nit-pick. Nobody, anywhere, at any time, has ever said that the train (arriving in 2030, not 2025) will “cure” our traffic. It will definitely provide a better option than driving alone, however! The reason I can be sure that nobody has ever asserted this is because no city on planet earth in the history of our entire human civilization has ever “cured” traffic.

      Seattle won’t be the first.

      • chemist November 14, 2017 (4:55 pm)

        Interesting survey Jort.  Despite all the investments in bike lanes, etc, the survey has 12% of to-downtown commuters using non-motorized travel in 2010 and 12% in 2016.  Maybe we should make sure there’s dedicated bus lanes downtown before we worry about bike lanes.

        • Swede. November 15, 2017 (9:38 am)

          There is dedicated bus lanes downtown. Third Ave. is busses only most times of the day. 

  • Qc November 14, 2017 (3:38 pm)

    It’s very disappointing to see that the map shows the route stopping short of south lake union downtown. I’ll take the survey and urge service to slu. 

    Also, I do agree with the comments above about prioritizing transit on Delridge. Buses should not be delayed by single occupancy vehicles. 

  • TJ November 14, 2017 (3:51 pm)

    Well Jort, I stand corrected on the train time frame. Part of my confusion comes from the fact we passed ST3 with its promise to get rail here, but there is still debate on how to get it over the river and up the hill (tunnel, above grade, ground level). Sounds like a blank check that $54 billion won’t cover. While I hate the idea of rail, in reality I do like buses. I just hate that the city has gone from making bus riding desirable on its own merits, to now socially engineering the streets to purposely negatively affect cars. 

    • Jort November 14, 2017 (4:04 pm)

      Given the choice between a bus that takes longer than driving alone, and a bus that provides an advantage in time and convenience, people choose the bus.

      The RapidRide C Line hasn’t been a huge success because we made it easier and easier for people to drive alone to downtown Seattle! The C Line has been a success because it made it worse to drive alone than to take the bus.

      Seattle has a fixed amount of space on its public roads. Those roads are not going to expand. Traffic happens because the amount of vehicles exceeds what the streets can handle. We are at the upper limits of capacity for our streets. We can either start building a duplicate street network above and below our existing one, or we can start finding ways for more people to take the bus, bike, or walk. A bus takes up as much space as 2 or 3 cars, but holds hundreds of people. That’s a good start.

      I know this is hard to hear, but there is no solution for auto drivers stuck in transit. I know this, because no city in the history of human civilization has ever solved the issue of traffic congestion, and I assure you that Seattle will not be the first. 

      Seattle is, however, joining the ranks of other cities that have faced this exact problem of too many cars with too little space, which have prioritized alternative transportation as a sustainable, scalable method to move their people throughout the city.

      • Canton November 15, 2017 (5:41 am)

        Again, a question you refuse to answer, do you have a driver’s license, children, or elderly family? My guess, at this point, is no, to all three. Just because it works for YOU, doesn’t mean it works for all. Given your responses, you are an INDIVIDUAL, that works downtown, has no childcare obligations, and no need for a car. Good for you, but until transit serves the entire employment region, get used to the FACT, that some people NEED to drive.

  • flimflam November 14, 2017 (4:23 pm)

    i see, so renaming the route will magically make it “rapid”? i wish there were more routes with limited stops – every 2 blocks or so can get pretty ridiculous. i know many people can’t walk that far and rely on the many stops but it would be nice to get from point A to point B quicker. as it stands, the so-called rapid ride buses take just as long as any other routes.

    • AMD November 14, 2017 (6:44 pm)

      RapidRide buses get signal priority iirc, which other buses don’t.  That and the boarding options DO help speed it up a bit.  But it will never be on par with truly rapid transit (light rail, etc.) as long as it’s stuck in the street behind single-occupancy vehicles.

    • Jon Wright November 14, 2017 (8:11 pm)

      The specific ways that Rapid Ride typically improves performance on a bus route is by reducing spacing between stops, setting up card readers at stops to allow payment before boarding, and infrastructure like bus bulbs. I think Metro uses “rapid” to evoke images of bus rapid transit (BRT) but existing Rapid Ride service comes nowhere near BRT standards. In spite of the challenges (pushback on consolidating stops, limited room on Delridge for bus lanes) I think there is still room for improvement vs. current 120 service.

  • miws November 14, 2017 (4:31 pm)

    I gave up on the survey too, at about page 3 or 4. It was clunky for me as well, the page jumping around and the comment field disappearing from view while typing, the map was a bit difficult to navigate, and it would have been nice to have some “N/A” options in a few places or at least the option to leave what didn’t apply to me blank.  


  • Pete November 14, 2017 (7:55 pm)

    I find it quite interesting that the information that they say they want to get from the community has been expressed at multiple Community events that I have attended. SDOT wonders why they have absolutely zero credibility with the West Seattle community. It is because they come out and ask our opinion on their proposals and then go ahead and totally ignore what they were told the Community wanted. At some point there needs to be a revolt against this top down attitude from SDOT and others in the glass tower downtown. Route 120 is not a Rapid Ride line…… is the only means of transportation between points in Delridge that our neighbors use to live their daily lives. Wake up Seattle and listen to your citizens for once. 

    • Jon Wright November 14, 2017 (8:15 pm)

      Local residents are understandably concerned about the 120 being turned into an express bus for downtown commuters. But there are still opportunities for improving service with some elements of RR and maintaining the local character of the 120. 

  • Trickycoolj November 14, 2017 (8:13 pm)

    Wish there were better East-West connections between C and H. Look at that giant island in the middle. 128 is like the mystery bus that connects these on paper but I never see running.

  • AmandaK November 14, 2017 (8:36 pm)

    Waves from Burien!  Hoping this Seattle led project will be beneficial to Burien and White Center as well.

  • m November 14, 2017 (9:14 pm)

    Very frustrating that the projected Rapid Ride H line will bypass the heart of south Delridge’s Urban Village south of Henderson as mentioned by WSB above. This was brought to SDOT’s attention at several neighborhood/community meetings, but seems to have fallen on deaf ears.  That stretch of Delridge between Henderson & Roxbury is on the cusp of several new development projects and a redevelopment of the bus park triangle at Delridge/18th/Barton. This is a missed opportunity to bring more relevant and efficient transportation to this area that is soon to experience greater density.

  • West Coast Nomad November 14, 2017 (11:44 pm)

    It seems like there’s still more work to do in order for this route to fully reflect community needs (enough stops, going through dense areas, etc.).  And agreed on how awkward the survey was. Hopefully SDOT will do additional testing to develop a more user-friendly survey. If they track how many users bailed out, that will be a strong indicator of how long or difficult their survey is to complete.

     By the way, its getting really old  to see all the SOV bashing that happens like clockwork with every WSB commuting blog post. For one thing,  not every West Seattlelite or person commuting from Burien or White Center is driving downtown. Many are trying to reach points beyond it or are simply trying to get past or through it. For example, I took the bus religiously downtown for more than a decade but now where I work presents no viable mass commuting options that would take less than an hour and a half, minimum.  

    Our friends and neighbors are all making commuting decisions based on their individual lives and schedules (kids to drop off at daycare, sales or service jobs that require a vehicle, events after work, etc.). And these commuting needs vary depending on where people are in their lives, changing locations of jobs, the age of their kids and what sports their kids are in, etc. In short, I  don’t think it’s my business to summarily condemn or get self-righteous with generalizations about  all commuters in cars. Everyone has a different and sometimes complex situation so transit, vanpooling, biking or walking can’t solve every commuting need. 

  • Michelle November 15, 2017 (8:00 am)

    One thing this survey did not include is the option for comments at the end.

    I like the idea of an express bus option but making it express doesn’t change the fact that the buses get overloaded as they get closer to Seattle. Those of us living in North Delridge are left hanging. The bus frequency is really nice in theory…but when there is no more room, buses will just pass you by.

    I am still extremely confused why we have a route that is so freaking long when there is a natural break at Roxbury. I keep suggesting it on every survey:

     – 120 Local: Hits every stop from Burien TC to downtown

    – 120 Express: Hits more spaced-out stops along the way (Rapid Ride!)

    – NEW ROUTE: Burien TC up to Roxbury and then into downtown (no Delridge service); this will capture the folks between Burien TC and Roxbury who want to get downtown but don’t want to spent an hour on the bus

    • sam-c November 15, 2017 (8:44 am)

      That makes so much sense !  ^^^^^^^^^

    • DK November 15, 2017 (7:10 pm)

      As it sits right now, many peak hour trips start at 15th and Rox in the morning. They do not all start in Burien.

    • Dustin November 17, 2017 (12:07 pm)

      Yes! I completely agree with you. I had the same complaint when the 54 was converted to the C – express service and local service can coexist, especially during rush hour. I suspect Metro’s goal with these RapidRide conversions has been less to substantively improve the system than to reduce the cost of looking like they’re improving it. Or maybe it’s an example of social engineering that was intended to encourage transit commuters to relocate to within walking distance of one of a few trunk lines. At best, it’s a misguided effort to make existing service seem faster. In my opinion, if we want more people who drive to start taking public transit and supporting Metro, we need additional routes through underserved areas, and express options for those who commute from farther out.

  • Genesee Girl November 15, 2017 (8:42 am)

    So glad I’m moving away from here next year.  I retired over three years ago when it took me an hour each way to commute from West Seattle to my job downtown—a mere 6 or so miles.  On a jam packed C Line bus.  Standing room only.  Offering my seat, if I was lucky enough to get one, to elderly/disabled/pregnant passengers because no one else would.  

  • Kimbee November 15, 2017 (10:24 am)

    Don’t give up on the Metro survey! I know it’s a pain, I ended up typing out my open responses and doing a copy and paste into the response boxes.  Fight to make sure your voice is heard. 

    • WSB November 15, 2017 (10:36 am)

      Thank you. Also, I just heard back from Metro, and for anyone who can spare a moment to notify the project team directly of the glitches you experienced – – thank you.

  • Michele November 15, 2017 (11:56 am)

    Is it me or is it impossible to use on a smart phone? I gave up but would like to have input since I ride the 120.

    • Lena November 15, 2017 (4:29 pm)

      It’s not you!  It’s very difficult, if not impossible on a smartphone.  I went on my PC and got it done quick and easy in about 7 minutes.  

  • Really now November 15, 2017 (3:42 pm)

    For the commenter asking about Jort. He/she has been called out here before as a commenter on a lot of blog’s. Or as the commenter put it:Trolling. On WSB Jort has said:they sold their car because their junction apartment was too expensive. Another post said they would “BAN ALL PRIVATE CAR OWNERSHIP”. in another post said they knew all about w/s traffic BECAUSE THEY DOVE A CAR. Seattle as a whole has real issues with traffic. We need REAL WORKABLE idea’s. Throwing out wild bizarre statement’s doesn’t help anybody.

  • Jeff Switzer, King County Metro November 15, 2017 (5:25 pm)

    (Caps but not shouting) THANK YOU! to all who gave feedback on the survey today. We worked with our  vendor earlier this afternoon to make the mapping feature work better (no jumpiness) and other formatting improvements. This survey includes a new mapping tool to give us location feedback that would be otherwise difficult to achieve online, and your feedback helps us sharpen this tool. Please continue to take the survey, and let Jenna ( know if you are finding specific technical issues or general feedback. Stay tuned for details on upcoming open houses on RapidRide H Line planned in just a few weeks.

  • 1994 November 15, 2017 (8:22 pm)

    Just a few words for the JORT.

    Please remember to be thankful for ALL of the cars and trucks on the road, please be thankful to ALL who pay taxes to support Metro bus service. As a reminder to JORT,  out of your pocket you pay only 31% of the true bus fare while taxes pay the other 69% of your fare.  Some of the 69% in taxes comes from motor vehicles.  Don’t wish for spikes to come out of the road to flatten our tires “Hopefully we can also add spikes or barriers of some kind to the median so that nobody can pass the bus when it’s stopped, either. “

    • MSW November 17, 2017 (11:24 pm)

      1994 – Amen!

  • au November 16, 2017 (11:00 pm)

    Hey neighbor jort, are these spikes you propose going to be retractable? Cuz, you know, fire trucks, ambulances, cop cars, or shall they wait behind the bus too? Perhaps you derive glee from your sadistic thoughts?! There are other ways forward toward solving our regions transportation woes than wishing pain and suffering on your neighbors. Think constructively not destructively.

    As for metro, I’ve been thoroughly disgusted with that agency since the advent of the CRapid ride. That stupid bus with the idiot ‘super hero’ (not the actual person, the concept) waving in the Hi-Yu parade then the removal of the convenient dependable (every half hour except for sundays) bus service into downtown. And those solar trash compactors, from what i can recall they weren’t cheap. And, and, and…

    It seems like all the meetings and surveys and outreach is just one long drawn out dog and pony show (not to discount those who struggled through the poorly formatted survey) as the situation gets worse and worse! I don’t even know what can be done, its almost like we need to get a bunch of engineers together and take over metro ourselves.

Sorry, comment time is over.