David Rosen
RapidRide Line C, launching Oct. 1 brings with it some important changes including prepaying with ORCA card readers at stations, the end of the FREE ride zone downtown, and more.

UPDATE 2 : RapidRide's first test was a little rough

Morning commute resulted in overcrowded buses and long travel times

RapidRide Line C launched today in West Seattle (and Line D in Ballard) and changes greeted the daily commuters. Metro had teams out during the day helping commuters adjust to the changes. Those teams will be out again throughout the week.

Metro is urging riders to review new printed timetables and route maps – or see them online at metro.kingcounty.gov – and plan ahead to have an ORCA card or fare ready when boarding, especially during the Monday afternoon commute. The Ride Free Area ended in downtown Seattle on Sept. 28 and riders now are required to pay their fare when boarding.

Over the weekend the ORCA card readers and station information panels were not working but that appears to be solved as riders report that all systems are now online.

West Seattle commuter Laura Plough on one of the early runs on Monday said. "So far I think it's really slick. The bus came fast and I paid outside, everything's great."

David Vey said, " I was taking the 54 bus before so if its the same as the 54 it should be fine. I think it's a great idea." He said the change did not affect him.

"This is my first time trying it. I live on Vashon Island so I do a lot of commuting. I'm just trying to compare between this and taking the ferry downtown," said Kenan Pekoz. "It's pretty nice being able to use the wi-fi."

Kristiana Lockman headed to South Lake Union said, "It's super crowded. I was looking forward to it. I thougt it would be more efficient but it's really crowded. I have to switch busses downtown now and I didn't have to before."

Erin Pangborn said, "I was optimistic and the wi-fi is nice. It's a smoother quieter ride, but it definitely got very crowded very quickly."

The bus ride from Fauntleroy and Alaska took 14:52 to Third and Pike. That stop is now between Pike and Pine on Third Ave. which means some will have to walk a little farther. Riders at 35th and Avalon report that the map does not show where the bus was on the route.

Many people experienced very crowded buses at peak times and were late because they could not be picked up. Adding to the tardiness was the long travel time which according to several riders took nearly an hour to travel from 26th and Barton to 3rd and Pike downtown.

Some transit service delays are expected in downtown Seattle as bus riders, transit operators and traffic adjust to route changes and the pay-on-entry system. Metro personnel will be available to answer rider questions Monday at key transit stops in downtown Seattle, Ballard, Burien, West Seattle and Northgate during the peak commute times 6:30-9:30 a.m. and 3:30-6:30 p.m. Some locations also will have personnel 12:30-3:30 p.m.

Metro in a press release late today offered:

"Riders during the afternoon commute saw delays and several full buses heading out of downtown Seattle. To help keep buses and trains moving in the downtown Seattle transit tunnel during the evening commute, Metro personnel used portable ORCA card readers to help riders board buses at Westlake, University Street and International District tunnel stations. Portable ORCA card readers also were used to help riders board during the evening commute at Third Avenue and Pike Street, Third Avenue and Union Street and Columbia Street at Second Avenue.

Earlier, during the morning commute, buses across the system saw some delays as Metro operators and bus riders familiarized themselves with new routes and stop locations. There were reports of a few full West Seattle buses and some challenges with some of the RapidRide electronic signs, issues Metro is working on for Tuesday’s morning commute.

Metro continues to urge riders to review new printed timetables and route maps – or see them online at metro.kingcounty.gov – and plan ahead to have an ORCA card or fare ready when boarding, especially during afternoon commutes. The Ride Free Area ended in downtown Seattle Sept. 28 and riders now are required to pay their fare at the time of boarding.

Some continued bus service delays are expected in downtown Seattle as bus riders, transit operators and traffic continue to adjust to route changes and the pay on entry system. Metro personnel were available to answer rider questions at key transit stops in downtown Seattle, Ballard, Burien, West Seattle and Northgate during Monday’s peak commute times.

The changes to routes and elimination of the downtown Ride Free Area are part of an effort to preserve bus service as well as improve transit ridership and productivity to make tax dollars go further, Desmond said."

To keep buses and trains moving in the downtown Seattle transit tunnel during the afternoon commute, Metro personnel will have portable ORCA card readers to help riders board buses at Westlake, University Street and International District stations. Portable ORCA card readers also will be used to help riders board during the evening commute at Third Avenue and Pike Street, Third Avenue and Union Street and Second Avenue and Columbia Street.

The changes to routes and elimination of the downtown Ride Free Area are part of an effort to preserve bus service as well as improve transit ridership and productivity to make tax dollars go further.

You can find tools from Metro Transit online:

Route changes and Metro’s online trip planner at metro.kingcounty.gov
Pay-on-Entry/Ride free area elimination information: metro.kingcounty.gov/tops/bus/ride-free-area/changes.html
RapidRide information page: metro.kingcounty.gov/travel-options/bus/RapidRide
ORCA card information page: www.orcacard.com
Customer Service customer.comments@kingcounty.gov or 206-553-3000

Metro advises that call volumes and wait times might be longer this week.

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