Also from the ‘in case you wondered too’ file: Fill-in buses on RapidRide routes

Laurel emailed us wondering about what appeared to her to be a high percentage of RapidRide runs being handled by non-RR coaches – running with the green/yellow or blue/yellow buses instead. She said that as a rider, it’s more than just what the bus looks like: “When there are not ORCA readers throughout the bus and when there are fewer doors, many of the ‘rapid’ benefits of load/unload disappear.” We went out to look for examples of fill-in RapidRide buses, and in fact, the first four we saw, on both H and C Lines – including the one in our photo above – were not red/yellow RR coaches. So we asked Metro’s Jeff Switzer about it, mentioning Laurel’s concern about card readers. He replied, “We intermittently make coach substitutions to ensure a trip is delivered. By the way, more blue/yellow and green/yellow buses also have ORCA readers at back doors as well as at the front door as we phase that in. Also, because RapidRide routes have high frequency, there will be another bus shortly behind, which is most likely a red RapidRide coach. As we hire more mechanics and better match our fleet with service, we’ll go back to seeing 100% (or close to it) of RapidRide service delivered by red buses.”

12 Replies to "Also from the 'in case you wondered too' file: Fill-in buses on RapidRide routes"

  • WS Neighbor March 7, 2024 (7:28 pm)

    Thanks for your update. ….Yes,  I too  have wondered why there are different colored busses on this route .  Hope they take of the issues soon. 

  • Jean Mackie March 8, 2024 (12:28 am)

    The bigger issue is the red buses have signal prioritization, the others do not. Rapid is supposed to not hit as many red lights…not the case with swaps.

    • Trixi March 8, 2024 (7:28 am)

      Not true.

    • Jeff Switzer March 8, 2024 (12:54 pm)

      I checked with our Speed and Reliability team, which works with cities on new bus lanes and transit signal priority systems. All Metro buses had transponders installed on-board that work with TSP systems, so a RapidRide line’s transit signal priority (and advantage) will work regardless of what type of bus is used. — Jeff at Metro

      • CAM March 8, 2024 (3:24 pm)

        Jeff – if you’re still reading the comments, it would be amazing if the signals on Columbia heading eastbound would line up so that the buses didn’t have to stop at every single light on the way to 3rd. I’ve missed many a transfer by seconds and watched the bus I need to be on drive by on 3rd as I’m sitting on the bus waiting for it to make the final turn onto 3rd because it has to wait at every single light to get from Alaskan to 3rd. It’s a complete waste of time. 

  • anonyme March 8, 2024 (5:27 am)

    There’s another issue with the substitute buses, which is exit doors.  The exit doors on the green buses are way, way in the back.  This may not be a problem for a lot of people, but many drivers insist that seniors exit that way.   The senior seating section is at the front for a reason: accessibility.  Demanding that seniors exit off the back is punitive and potentially dangerous, as the rear exits don’t “kneel”.  This has become an issue on other routes as well.

    • Bus March 8, 2024 (10:14 am)

      Wow, I have never been on a bus where a driver required a senior to exit in the back when they needed assistance (kneeling or the ramp) to deboard.  I’m also confident it is not Metro’s policy to do so.  Have you reported the driver(s) who are doing that?

    • LAintheJunction March 8, 2024 (3:08 pm)

      I’m only middle-aged, not a senior, but prefer to sit in the front third/half of the bus (not in priority seating). When I’m commuting during rush hour, the bus is almost always overfull with people standing. On the non RR buses with only 2 doors, multiple times I’ve barely been able to get to the far back door in time to deboard before the bus driver starts to pull away from the stop. I’ve had to shout for them to stop more than once. I’ve started going to the front door on those buses to depart. If the driver complains that it’s for boarding only, I very politely explain that I’ll be happy to use the middle door again as soon as the RR buses are back on the C Line route. 

  • Robbie B March 8, 2024 (8:40 am)

    I take the bus all the time to work, and they’ve been switching out the red RR busses for months and months now. We’re down mechanics, and we’re down drivers. Civic employment isn’t exactly booming right now. People just need to be thankful that there is an on time bus for them to ride in the first place.

    • Steve March 8, 2024 (2:12 pm)

      Thank you Robbie B, you are absolutely right.

  • JeffB March 8, 2024 (9:09 am)

    Most, if not all, Metro coaches have TSP (traffic signal priority) installed.

  • B March 8, 2024 (9:43 am)

    Wait – Seattle Metro had a plan in place that didn’t pan out as planned? Shocker!

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