How will RapidRide get you there faster?

One of the goals of RapidRide is to reduce travel time for passengers by at least 25 percent along the corridor. Metro will use a number of techniques to meet this goal, including signal priority and signal coordination.

Signal priority is the use of a wireless Intelligent Transportation System to give buses more “green time” at traffic lights. For the A Line, Metro will use signal priority at 20 intersections along Pacific Highway S/International Blvd. The system can extend a green light by 5-12 seconds, depending on the time of day, to give an approaching RapidRide bus (and the traffic around it) an extra shot at getting through the light.

Signal coordination makes traffic flow more smoothly along the length of the corridor. With the A Line, this means coordinating traffic signals managed by four different cities (SeaTac, Kent, Des Moines, and Federal Way).

The entire RapidRide corridor is covered by a wireless network that’s reserved for public agencies. This network connects buses, bus stops, traffic signals, and Metro’s central computer system, allowing them all to work together.

Photo: electronic gear in cabinet

Here's a peek inside one of the plain steel cabinets that will give the red buses a little extra "green time."

28 thoughts on “How will RapidRide get you there faster?

  1. A 25% increase in speed would be great. I’m confused though.
    The 174 averages 42 minutes between Fed.Way Transit Center (FWTC) and Tukwila International Blvd Stn(TIBS). Shaving 25% off that time would yield a trip time of 32 minutes.
    Looking at the run cards for the A-Line (route 671) shows a scheduled trip time of 46 minutes in the AM-Mid-PM peak times. That’s slower than today, and a full 14 minutes slower than the “at least 25% faster” time you quote above.
    What’s going on here?

  2. The A Line is scheduled using estimated time points, which means that operators do not have to wait at a time point if they arrive before the time on their run cards.

    Metro has been conservative in initially writing the schedule for the A Line because some elements like transit signal priority will not be fully implemented at the start of service. Also, speed improvements that may come from new fare payment methods and all-door boarding will take time to achieve as riders get used to the new system.

    We also expect to gain some time savings from the reduction of bus stops, but will need to get actual experience to know how much time is saved.

    So, while the run cards do not show the time savings, over time Metro expects the A Line to be faster than Route 174. Metro scheduling staff will use actual travel time data from the A Line to adjust the scheduled data in the future, once all the elements designed to speed up the service are in place.

  3. How many signals will actually be On-Line (subject to pre-emption)when RapidRide opens and does the bus always get priority (a little more green or a little less red) based on the bus being there, or is it based on whether the bus is behind schedule before pre-emption is enabled?
    Also what route number will people input to the website to get route info/schedule/maps? 671 or just ‘A’.

  4. If the goal is to reduce trave time “at least 25 percent along the corridor”, will success in reaching that goal be measured by ultimately achieving the 32-minute run time calculated by the previous commentor?

  5. The A Line is replacing Route 174, and will be following the same alignment. Last September, after the launch of Link light rail service, Metro discontinued service to downtown Seattle on Route 174 and instead connects with Link at the Tukwila International Blvd. Station. This prevents duplication of service between Metro and Link, allowing Metro to provide more service elsewhere.

  6. On Metro’s website, just enter “A” as the route “number” when looking for a schedule or map. When using the Tracker, enter “671″ since the Tracker application at present accommodates only numbers.

  7. Thanks.
    Could I get an answer on my first question?
    How many intersections will be available for pre-emption at start-up. You acknowledge not all of the 20 will be on-line, but don’t say how many, or how soon on the rest of them. Is it 1, 10 or 19?

  8. All of the signal priority equipment has been installed, but none of it is operating yet. Metro is working with local jurisdictions to set new traffic signal timing to improve traffic coordination. We will phase in traffic signal priority at each intersection as this work is completed.

    We expect to have signal priority working at 18 intersections by the end of November. It will come to two more intersections in about a year, after Federal Way completes the final mile of HOV lane.

  9. I can understand how the A line might work in getting people from Federal Way to SeaTac station faster – the bus has a semi-dedicated lane, which isn’t affected too much by any prevailing congestion.

    How on earth will RapidRide C be time-reliable??? The West Seattle onramp merge and the Seneca Street offramp are two horrible choke points during rush hour. The only way I can see a BRT working well on this route is if there was a dedicated and separate lane on the bridge for bus traffic that is not obstructable by cars trying to merge into bridge lanes.

  10. I am not convinced that the D Line from Ballard to Downtown will be as fast as the 15 Express currently in operation. Looking at the proposed map, there will be 12 more stops/stations between Market Street and Denny Way, plus the increased distance up to Queen Anne. Even with all the improvements stated, I seriously doubt that it will faster.

  11. What happens to the 18 and 18 Express? Will everyone who now rides these buses have to transfer to the D Line? If so, how will this improve their commute times? Plus, the 15 and 18 Express buses that now serve Ballard often are packed- standing room only- during rush hour; especially those leaving dwontown between 4:30 and 6:00 pm. During this 90 minute timeframe, there are 10 express buses or one every 9 minutes which is better than what is advertised for the Rapid Ride. Ubfortunately, Ballard- Seattle’s “Urban Village” is getting a bad deal, when combined with the revised “local” route and added stops, with this slick transit revision.

  12. Metro estimates the time savings on the D Line will be between 25 and 30 percent over current Route 15 service, making the D Line slightly faster than the current 15 Express. Also, the D Line will come more often than the 15 Express, which arrives about every 15 minutes (so the average wait time is 7-8 minutes). With peak-hour arrivals every 7-8 minutes, D Line wait times will average about 3-4 minutes.

  13. Metro’s RapidRide program calls for arrivals of at least every 10 minutes during peak hours and every 15 minutes during off-peak hours. In other words, those are the minimum levels—and we expect to provide more frequent RapidRide service when demand warrants it. Also, all RapidRide buses will be 60-foot articulated buses instead of the mix of 40-foot and 60-foot buses currently used. Finally, the RapidRide service design is much less complex to operate than Metro’s regular service, and will therefore be easier to manage when service disruptions occur, which will improve service reliability along the corridor.

  14. Excuse me, but you did not explain how this “25% to 30% over current route 15″ can occur”. Are you looking at the route from one end to the other? With about 12 more stops between Market and Denny and a longer route up thru Queen Anne, I still doubt that time savings for the 15 Express.

  15. What happens to the 18 and 18 Express that now serves downtown Ballard and all neighborhoods west of 15th Ave NW? Will they have to transfer and it so, how will that make their ride faster and increase Metro’s customer base? (Big tip here: No one likes to transfer buses..)

  16. RapidRide A has been quoted in numerous articles as having 2.5 mil/riders/yr in just 5 years, which is a 50% increase over the 174. That pencils out to about 8,000 weekday daily riders in 2015. It also suggests that ridership on the 174 was about 5200 per day(TIBS to FWTC).
    After one month, how many riders is RapidRide A seeing each day?

  17. Metro will begin planning and public outreach next year to consider possible changes to regular bus service in the C Line corridor. (A similar process is underway now for service in the B Line corridor.)

    At this point, no decisions have been made about Route 18 or 18 Express. We encourage you to provide your feedback on any changes that might be proposed during the public outreach process next year.

  18. Metro is doing some ridership calculations now. RapidRide buses are the first to use new on-board systems and associated passenger-counting equipment, and we’re in the process of calibrating and validating the units. We probably won’t have ridership data via the automated counters until December.

    Meanwhile, we are collecting farebox and ORCA data that we’ll use to estimate ridership for October. It will probably be close to the end of November before that information is ready to share.

  19. It would be helpful to West Seattle residents if you could respond to my post above and answer the question of how Rapidride C will actually be time reliable, with all the congestion on the West Seattle Bridge. Or, is Rapidride just a gussied up Metro express bus offering no real travel tome improvements over existing service? Please respond.

  20. I look forward to the first numbers in a couple of weeks.
    At that time, could you also include the ridership on the 174 between TIBS and FWTC so that an accurate baseline number is established. Average weekday ridership is the normal metric.

  21. RapidRide said that by the end of November:
    1. Ridership would be posted. Any numbers yet?
    2. 18 of 20 signal priority would be operational. How many are up and running.
    3. Any data yet on how much faster the A line is over the 174 it replaced?

  22. I think spending this kind of money so a select few can have slightly faster rides is ridiculous. Meanwhile, Metro is going to eliminate the 18 in Ballard, and we’re all supposed to save time by walking an extra mile to ride the D line on 15th Ave. Gee, that’s really helpful for the elderly, disabled, people with small children, and commuters with an already long ride and connections, to eliminate the bus from our neighborhood completely. I think it will decrease our property values and sense of community.

    People used to marvel at what a great bus system we had in Seattle. I guess that’s why Metro is trying to make it like the crappy bus systems in other cities, where the buses only go through a few neighborhoods and everyone else is screwed, and has to drive.

  23. Just think how fast the existing 15 or 18 Express would be with the current routes AND all these signal improvements! If Metro really wanted to save commuters time, that is what they would do.

  24. Actually, I seriously doubt that the “D” line will be faster than the 15 Express since it will be now taking the route of the 15 local. While teh current 15 Express has NO stops between 15th and Market and 1st and Bay, the new “D”line will have NINE stops! To those smart Metro planners who believe that by having signal priority (there are not that many signals on 15th) and having the bus now stop in traffic (slowing traffic for everyone else) so they don’t have to merge into traffic, I say just think, how much faster the 15 Express would have been if you could have done that.

    Of course, they heard all taht in the “public” process but it did not make any differences.

    As the Michael says above, “show us the numbers”!

  25. The King County Executive has proposed to the County Council that Route 15 Express would continue to operate, but with fewer trips (six during weekday morning peak hours and six during weekday afternoon peak hours).

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