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West Seattle RapidRide

A special new bus service is coming to West Seattle

Beginning in 2011/2012

Metro Transit, in coordination with the City of Seattle, is planning more frequent, streamlined bus service - with an eye-catching new style - for West Seattle.

This new service, called RapidRide, is scheduled to begin in fall 2012. It will replace Metro's Route 54 along Fauntleroy Way SW and California Avenue SW between Westwood and downtown Seattle via the Alaska Junction.

Everything about RapidRide - the buses, the stops, the way it operates - is being designed to keep people moving quickly throughout the day in this heavily used transit corridor.

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How will RapidRide be different from regular bus service?

Buses will come so often you won’t need a schedule.

After RapidRide service begins, Metro's plan is for buses to arrive every 10 minutes during the busiest morning and evening travel hours. At other times between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m., buses will come every 15 minutes. Between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m., buses will come every 30 minutes.

Boarding will take less time.

RapidRide buses will have low floors and three doors, so people can get on and off quickly. Depending on the outcome of a pilot project, a new fare payment system might be used that would allow riders with passes to pay before they board the bus, and enter through any door.

Have you heard of bus rapid transit?

RapidRide is Metro’s version of a new concept in public transportation: bus rapid transit, or BRT.

In a BRT system, buses and the corridor in which they operate are designed to provide frequent, steadily moving, day and night transportation that is convenient, comfortable and reliable.

Buses will move more, stop less.

RapidRide stations and stops will be placed where the most riders gather, at reasonable walking distances along the corridor. Bus stops will be farther apart than they are on typical routes, so RapidRide trips will be faster. Metro planners are working with the local community to choose the best places for stations and stops.

As buses approach intersections, they will send signals to traffic lights, requesting that green lights stay green longer or red lights switch to green faster.

Other features might be added to speed up West Seattle RapidRide service. Business Access & Transit (BAT) lanes would help buses move faster through the corridor. The City of Seattle is considering transit lanes for portions of work in conjunction with the transit-only lane on SW Spokane Street and the West Seattle Bridge.

Lights, frequent service and security staff will increase safety.

All RapidRide stops will be lighted so people can see around themselves and be seen. With buses arriving more often than they do today, people will spend less time waiting at bus stops. Metro Transit Police will be on buses and at bus zones more often for fare enforcement and other security monitoring.

RapidRide stations and buses will have special features and a unique style.

At the busiest stops, where many people catch buses each day, Metro will build stations with more room for the expected number of riders. These stations-placed about every mile along the route-will have shelters, benches and trash receptacles. The shelters and signs will look different from those you see at regular Metro stops-they will have a special RapidRide style and color scheme. Waiting areas will be well-lit, increasing security. Electronic real-time signs will tell people the actual number of minutes before the next bus will arrive.

Between the major stations, RapidRide bus stops also will have signs and other features to give them the distinctive RapidRide look. In some cases shelters and benches may be added or improved. Stop-request signals, which people can use to alert the bus driver when they are waiting for a bus at night, may be provided at these stops.

The buses will be easily recognizable with the RapidRide design and color scheme. All buses will be high-capacity, low-emission hybrid vehicles designed especially for RapidRide.

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RapidRide corridor will connect communities

RapidRide will also provide convenient connections to other West Seattle bus routes. In the fall of 2011, 12 to 18 months before RapidRide service is scheduled to begin on this corridor, Metro will begin a planning and public outreach process to consider possible changes to bus routes serving Alki, the Admiral District, Alaska Junction, Morgan Junction, and Fauntleroy.

RapidRide will also provide convenient connections to other West Seattle bus routes. Metro will begin a planning and public outreach process 12 to 18 months before the startup of RapidRide in fall 2011 to consider possible changes to routes serving Alki, the Admiral District, Alaska Junction, Morgan Junction and Fauntleroy.

RapidRide will give riders frequent connections all day to Washington State Ferries serving Vashon Island and Southworth.

Along the RapidRide corridor between Westwood and the West Seattle Bridge, seven major stations plus seven intermediate stops are proposed. RapidRide will connect to buses that serve the Admiral District, Alki, Burien, Genesee Hill, High Point, Sea-Tac Airport, South Seattle Community College and White Center.

The route between the West Seattle Bridge and downtown Seattle will depend in part on decisions made in the rebuilding of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The West Seattle RapidRide project will use the fastest and most reliable routing available between the bridge and downtown.

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RapidRide timeline

    Public outreach


    Permitting and construction

    Additional service hours added to existing W. Seattle Metro routes

    RapidRide service begins

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RapidRide is funded by Transit Now

Voters launched RapidRide when they passed the Transit Now initiative in November 2006.

Transit Now increased the sales tax by one-tenth of one percent to pay for a 15-20 percent expansion of Metro Transit service over 10 years. King County is expected to add over 200,000 new residents by 2020, and Transit Now is helping Metro keep up with this growth.

New services funded by Transit Now include:

  • RapidRide service in five busy corridors (Aurora Avenue North, Bellevue-Redmond, Ballard/Uptown, Pacific Highway South, and West Seattle)
  • More all-day, two-way service on heavily used routes
  • New bus service for growing residential areas
  • Partnerships with major employers and cities to add new service in rapidly expanding employment centers
  • Expanded rideshare and paratransit services.

…and by Bridging the Gap

Voters also allowed the City of Seattle to help provide traffic signal and roadway improvements for RapidRide when they passed the Bridging the Gap initiative in November 2006. These modifications are critical to improving transit travel times and schedule reliability.

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Updated: February 8, 2010