File photo by Patrick Robinson

From RapidRide to route eliminations, massive Metro changes start Sept. 29

Sept. 29 is the day King County Metro implements a significant overhaul to their public transportation system, including the RapidRide C Line service in West Seattle, several routes changing or being eliminated, a pay-on-entry system and the end to a downtown free ride zone.

We asked our West Seattle Herald readers to chime in on the changes and they were not shy. Their comments are included with a list of significant updates below:

RapidRide C Line
The most widely controversial change in West Seattle is the beginning of a RapidRide C Line with service from Westwood Village to downtown Seattle, via S.W. Barton St, Fauntleroy Way S.W., California Ave S.W., S.W. Avalon Way, S.W. Spokane St. and the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

The new bus service includes red and yellow hybrid buses equipped with low floors, three doors, security cameras, air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, “Next Stop” displays and audio announcements. In addition, several stops will have Orca card readers so riders can pay in advance and board at any of the three doors. A Metro ticket officer will be on board to check for payment. Those paying with cash or tickets will have to board at the front.

Stations will have “real time” arrival displays and lighted maps along with improved lighting near the shelter.

Buses will arrive at stops on a 10-15 minute frequency for most of the day and run seven days a week.

The downside, according to many commuters, is the potential traffic madness with the addition of transit-only lanes to ensure RapidRide buses meet their 10-15 minute goal, especially along the S.W. Alaska St. corridor and where Fauntleroy and California meet at Morgan Junction.

“RapidRide is probably a decent idea but it is poorly executed and promises to be a huge traffic clog,” Vince Stricherz wrote to the Herald. “The design of the RapidRide stops guarantees the buses will block traffic, since they do not leave the lane of traffic. This problem is magnified when the stop is at an intersection, such as Fauntleroy and California, where the bus stops on the west side of the intersection and no following traffic can get through the intersection … The changes might be well-intentioned, but as so often seems to happen around here, they appear to be very short-sighted.”

“Going east on Alaska and crossing Fauntleroy, it is a sorry mess,” Richard Latham wrote. “One has to get in the bus and right turn lane to go straight and then move left, almost in the intersection, to get in the left lane before moving back to the right (bus-only and right turn lane) to turn south by the fire station. This moving back and forth occurs all along Alaska (and) it is a mess again at the Alaska Junction because the left lane is for left turns so drivers have to move into the right (bus and right turn) lane to go straight.”

LeeAnne Beres, in a Facebook comment, echoed Latham’s concerns by writing, “The lane reconfigurations are confusing and dangerous, especially heading west from the 42nd and Alaska intersection through the … Alaska Junction. In order to get over in time and not be cut off, it often requires changing lanes mid-intersection at 42nd. There has to be a better way.”

“We have new condos going up all over the Junction area to add to the ones that have been built in the last five years,” Carol Williams stated, extrapolating to the big picture. “We are adding new tenants and cars to our already jammed up streets … with no room to expand our streets to accommodate all these new commuters over the bridge … Ask most residents of West Seattle if they think that ‘driving has dropped seven percent in Seattle (over the past ten years, as Mayor Mike McGinn recently said in a West Seattle town hall meeting), and see what their response is.

I think that RapidRide will prove to be anything but RAPID in the future,” Williams continued. “Traffic is moving slower and slower through the Junction already. What does the future hold for us?”

There is undoubtedly those who are excited about the more frequent RapidRide service and, although none of them wrote in with comments, our unscientific poll held at www.westseattleherald.com revealed 47 percent of respondents said they were looking forward to RapidRide, 37 percent said they were not, and 16 percent were neutral on the topic.

Discontinued Routes in our area (*Descriptions from King County Metro)

Route 23
Route 131 will serve Highland Park and 4th Ave S. Alternative service will be provided by Route 60 to the Duwamish area and routes 120 and 131 to downtown Seattle. Routes 131 and 132 will both serve 4th Ave S between S Michigan St and downtown Seattle.

Route 51
During the peak periods only, Route 57 provides alternative service to Genesee Hill. No service will be available on the eastern portion of Route 51 between California Ave S.W. and S.W. Hanford St. and 35th Ave S.W. and S.W. Avalon Way. Routes 50, 55 and 128 will provide service between the Admiral District and Alaska Junction.

Route 53
During the peak periods only, Route 37 provides service on 48th Ave S.W., Beach Dr S.W., Alki Ave S.W. and Harbor Ave S.W. The Water Taxi shuttle routes 771 and 773 also provide all-day service during the summer months via Alki Ave S.W. and Harbor Ave S.W. but operate only during the peak periods during the rest of the year. Route 50 provides all-day service between Alki and the Alaska Junction via the Admiral district.

Route 54/54 Express
The new RapidRide C Line replaces Route 54. Route 116 and the RapidRide C Line provide alternative service to and from downtown Seattle.

Route 56
During the peak periods, Route 56 Express will continue to operate between the Admiral District and downtown Seattle. Route 50 provides alternative service between Alki and SODO during the off-peak periods where transfers can be made to the RapidRide C Line or Route 21, routes operating northbound on the SODO Busway or Link light rail to downtown Seattle.

Route 85 Night Owl
The RapidRide C Line will provide alternative 2:15 (along with Route 120) and 3:30 a.m. trips from downtown Seattle to West Seattle.

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Route changes – Over 50 routes will change, many in West Seattle and White Center

Route 21
Route 21 will end at Westwood Village and will no longer serve Arbor Heights. Alternative service will be provided by Route 21 Express during the peak periods and Route 22. There will be no evening service to Arbor Heights. Also, peak-period, midday and Saturday service frequency will improve to every 15 minutes between Westwood Village and downtown Seattle. Most Route 21 trips will be connected to northbound Route 5 to Shoreline CC via Phinney Ridge, Greenwood and Broadview.

Route 21 Express
One morning and afternoon peak-period trip will be deleted.

Route 22
Route 22 will operate between Arbor Heights and the Alaska Junction via Westwood Village and Gatewood. It will no longer serve White Center and downtown Seattle. Alternative service between Westwood Village and White Center will be provided by routes 60 and 120. At the Alaska Junction, Bay 1, board the RapidRide C Line to downtown Seattle or new Route 50 to SODO.

Route 55
Route 55 will operate five northbound morning and five southbound afternoon peak-period trips only. During the off-peak periods, routes 50 and 128 provide alternative service to the Alaska Junction where transfers can be made to the RapidRide C Line to downtown Seattle.

Route 56 Express
Route 56E will operate directly from Admiral Way S.W. to the West Seattle freeway and will no longer operate on S.W. Spokane St between S.W. Avalon Way and Chelan Ave S.W. Also, Route 56E and revised Route 57 will have a coordinated schedule with 13 morning and afternoon peak-period trips between the Admiral District and downtown Seattle.

Route 60
Route 60 will be extended from White Center to Westwood Village where transfers can be made to the RapidRide C Line and routes 21 Local, 120 and 125. Also, Route 60 will serve the Myers Way P&R on both weekdays and weekends.

Routes 116, 118, 119
In the morning, Route 116 will be revised to begin at either the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal to connect with arriving ferries or at 45th Ave S.W. and S.W. Brace Point Drive if there is no ferry connection. In the afternoon, it will serve the bus stop on Fauntleroy Way S.W. at the ferry terminal and then continue to 45th Ave S.W. and S.W. Brace Point Drive. Also, one northbound morning trip to downtown Seattle and two southbound afternoon trips to Fauntleroy will be added.

Routes 116, 118 and 119 will be revised to serve all stops on Fauntleroy Way S.W. between the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal and Fauntleroy Way S.W. and S.W. Morgan St. Also, southbound service will operate via the new 1st Ave S. on-ramp to the West Seattle Bridge.

Route 120
Route 120 will operate via S.W. Barton Pl, 26th Ave S.W. and S.W. Roxbury St serving Westwood Village. It will no longer operate on Delridge Way S.W. between S.W. Barton St. and S.W. Roxbury St.

Route 125
Route 125 will operate to and from Westwood Village only and will no longer serve Shorewood and White Center. It will operate Monday through Saturday only and will no longer be connected to Route 11.

Route 128
Route 128 will be extended to California Ave S.W. and S.W. Atlantic St. in the Admiral District. Also, service frequency will improve to every 30 minutes at all times and the hours of operation will be extended to about midnight seven days a week.

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One new route for the area
New Route 50 provides all-day service between the Rainier Valley and West Seattle via Columbia City, north Delridge, Alaska Junction and the Admiral District. It will connect to the RapidRide C Line at the Alaska Junction and to Link at Othello, Columbia City and SODO stations. Route 50 will operate every 20 minutes during the peak periods, every 30 minutes during the midday and Saturday, and every 60 minutes at night and on Sunday.

The end of free rides and a new pay-on-entry system
Along with all the changes, deletions and alterations of routes, Metro will put an end on the downtown free ride zone area after 40 years in order to “raise needed revenue and preserve transit service,” according to Ashley DeForest with the King County Department of Transportation.

Metro is encouraging riders to get Orca cards to help avoid long downtown boarding lines as a result of the change.

In addition, all riders will be required to pay on entry for all trips in King County. Metro says the changes will “standardize boarding procedure.” Riders will pay at the front door and will be encouraged to exit at rear doors (if able) to expedite the influx of up front payments. The one exception will be RapidRide buses, where riders can pay at Orca stations before boarding.

For more information on Metro’s changes, including any routes not mentioned above, visit their Service Change website at http://metro.kingcounty.gov/up/scvchange.html.

We encourage our readers to comment. No registration is required. We ask that you keep your comments free of profanity and keep them civil. They are moderated and objectionable comments will be removed.