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Metro Transit Division

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Seattle, WA 98104
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RapidRide - A new Metro bus service is coming to Ballard-Uptown

graphic of boulevard with RapidRide bus and passengers

The comment period ended February 25, 2009

Metro Transit, in coordination with the City of Seattle, is planning a new, streamlined bus service that will make frequent trips all day between Crown Hill and downtown Seattle via Ballard, Interbay, Uptown Queen Anne and Belltown.

This "bus rapid transit" service, called the RapidRide D Line, is scheduled to begin in 2012. Everything about RapidRide—the buses, the stops, the way it operates—is being designed to keep people moving quickly and comfortably throughout the day in this heavily used transit corridor.

The D Line will operate on major arterial streets—Third Avenue in downtown and Belltown; First Avenue N, Queen Anne Avenue N, Mercer Street and W Mercer Place in Uptown; and Elliott Avenue W and 15th Avenue W in Interbay. It will replace Metro routes 15 and 18 on these streets. Metro is considering two alternative routes through Ballard to Crown Hill, and we want to hear which route you prefer.

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The comment period is over; responses were due by Feb. 25, 2009

How will RapidRide be different from regular bus service?

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

RapidRide D Line buses will arrive every 10 minutes or better throughout most of the day. In the evening after 7 p.m., buses will come every 15 minutes, and after 10 p.m. buses will come as often as they do today.

Boarding will take less time.

RapidRide buses will have low floors, three doors, and more space near the doors, so people can get on and off quickly. A new, faster fare collection method will be used on RapidRide. A pilot project will allow riders with passes to pay at their bus stop before they get on the bus, and board through any door.

Buses will move more, stop less.

Bus stops will be farther apart for RapidRide than they are for typical routes, so trips will be faster. RapidRide stations and stops will be placed where the most riders board, at reasonable walking distances along the corridor.

Metro and the City of Seattle are working together on roadway and traffic signal improvements to speed the movement of buses. These include the following:

  • Bus bulbs—extensions of the curb into the parking lane that allow buses to avoid merging in and out of traffic. Bus bulbs also increase the space available for shelters and other passenger amenities.
  • Business access and transit (BAT) lanes—outside lanes reserved for buses and right-turning vehicles.
  • Transit signal priority—traffic signals that recognize an approaching bus and make green lights stay green longer or red lights switch to green faster.
  • Queue jumps—travel lanes added on the approach to an intersection to allow buses a head start when the traffic signal turns green.

All these improvements will make RapidRide faster than current local bus routes. RapidRide will travel from Ballard to downtown Seattle in about the same amount of time as express bus routes do today. Since RapidRide will run more frequently all day long, riders will often wait less time, reducing total door-to-door travel time.

Lighting, frequent service and security staff will increase safety.

All RapidRide stops will be lighted. Buses will arrive often, and stops will be placed where the most riders board, reducing the amount of time or the likelihood that people might be waiting alone.

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 stops where the most people catch buses—about every mile along the route—Metro will build stations with large, well-lit covered waiting areas. Electronic signs will tell people the number of minutes before the next bus will arrive. Stations will have bus-pass readers so people can pay their fares before the bus arrives. Stations will also include other amenities such as benches, litter receptacles, and bicycle racks. The shelters and signs will have a special RapidRide style and color scheme.

Between the major stations, RapidRide bus stops also will have the distinctive RapidRide look. In some cases shelters and benches will 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 colors. All buses will be high-capacity, diesel electric hybrid vehicles designed especially for RapidRide.

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RapidRide will connect communities

RapidRide will give riders frequent, fast connections to neighborhood activity centers and other key destinations, including major employers, stores, medical and other services, schools and residential areas.

Some of the major destinations near the D Line include:

  • Crown Hill commercial district
  • Ballard commercial district
  • Rapidly growing residential areas in Ballard
  • Interbay
  • Uptown and the Seattle Center
  • Belltown
  • Downtown Seattle

The D Line will provide convenient connections to other bus routes at major transfer points, including NW 85th Street, NW Market Street, Leary Way NW, W Prospect Street, Queen Anne Avenue North, and downtown Seattle.

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RapidRide funding

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.

New services funded by Transit Now include:

  • RapidRide service in five busy corridors (A Line, Pacific Highway S; B Line, Bellevue-Redmond; C Line, West Seattle; D Line, Ballard-Uptown; and E Line, Aurora Avenue N)
  • 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.

Transit Now graphic

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 funding measure in November 2006. These modifications are critical to improving transit travel times and schedule reliability.

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Jan. 16, 2009