Here’s what’s happening:
The RapidRide C and D lines will start service. Together they’ll form a 17-mile bus rapid transit spine providing fast, frequent and reliable service all day, every day between West Seattle, downtown Seattle, Uptown and Ballard.
The Ride Free Area in downtown Seattle will end and we’ll shift to pay-on-entry on all Metro buses.
- More than 50 bus routes will change. Routes have been restructured to reduce duplication, make service more direct, and give riders better connections to RapidRide and popular destinations. Some of the least productive routes are being discontinued and those hours are being reinvested in more heavily used corridors to reduce overcrowding and improve reliability. Smaller adjustments to bus routings and schedules are also being made toimprove the speed and reliability of our service.
- Among the new service additions will be the crosstown route #50 which begins in Alki, follows Admiral Way to Admiral and then California Avenue to Alaska Junction and then proceeds to Delridge before continuing crosstown to the Rainier Valley. Here’s Metro’s description of the service:
- New Route 50 provides all-day service between the Rainier Valley and West Seattle via Columbia City, north Delridge, Alaska Junction, the Admiral District and Alki. 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.
In making these changes Metro is following a path described by Dow Constantine and the King County Council. County leadership has given Metro new strategic direction that emphasizes reducing inefficiencies and providing service where it’s needed most, making the best use of the public’s tax and fare dollars.
Demand for transit has been rising and will continue to increase as employment and population grow. At the same time, Metro is still facing a substantial funding shortfall after the expiration in 2014 of the congestion reduction charge—supplemental funding that is enabling Metro to keep the system whole for now. Although some riders will, unfortunately, be inconvenienced by upcoming changes, Metro needs to make the best use of current funds to serve more riders overall. The County will continue pursuing a funding structure that enables Metro to help meet the region’s goals for public transportation growth.
According to Metro, the long-term outlook for the September service revisions is promising even if the first couple of weeks are expected to be bumpy. Metro will be running a multi-pronged customer information campaign about the changes and the advantages of using ORCA cards after the switch to pay-on-entry. Around the 29th, Metro employees will be out in full force in downtown Seattle and key neighborhood locations to assist riders. In the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel and at several surface stops, boarding assistants with portable ORCA readers will help riders who have cards prepay and board through the rear doors. This is because Metro has not installed ORCA readers on the Third Avenue transitway. For more details on that issue, see Seattle Transit Blog’s entry http://seattletransitblog.com/2012/08/31/rapidride-cd-lines-to-open-without-orca-card-readers-downtown/
Metro is also collaborating with the City of Seattle to start a circulator shuttle to serve people who have relied heavily on the Ride Free Area to reach health and human services in the city center.