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Nov. 2, 2012

Metro Transit to add buses to RapidRide C Line

Riders will see more frequent service during evening commute

SEATTLE – With a focus on improving reliability and in response to strong ridership, King County Metro Transit is phasing in additional RapidRide C Line trips during the evening commute between downtown Seattle and West Seattle.

Two additional bus trips will be added during the evening commute starting Monday, Nov. 5, and another two trips starting Tuesday, Nov. 13. Those four additional evening trips will target gaps in bus service that emerge when buses are delayed between 5:15 and 6:45 p.m. Three of the bus trips will start in Belltown, a move expected to help these added buses avoid delays in lower Queen Anne traffic.

“We know there are gaps between buses that are longer than we want,” said Kevin Desmond, Metro Transit general manager. “Strategically adding bus trips will help tackle this problem. I want to improve our customers’ experience with the C Line, and we appreciate their feedback as we’ve worked through lingering issues from our September service change.”

Metro has been monitoring and making operational changes to address challenges that emerged with the RapidRide C and D Line service since Sept. 29. The lines travel between downtown Seattle and West Seattle and Ballard.

Last month, Metro first tackled reports of overcrowding due to an increase in West Seattle ridership, adding two trips to the C Line during each weekday commute starting Oct. 8.

On Oct. 29, to address crowded buses in these corridors, four peak commute trips were added to Route 55 – which complements the C Line – and four peak commute trips were added to Route 120, which travels between Burien and Seattle via the Delridge neighborhood.

Traffic in downtown Seattle poses a daily challenge for bus schedules on the best of days. Metro schedules its RapidRide buses for 10-minute service during the peak commutes – even higher at 8-9 minutes during the highest ridership times about 7- 8:30 a.m. and 4:30-6:30 p.m. But traffic, events and other factors can cause buses to be delayed. Buses might bunch up and arrive together when riders are expecting more frequent service.

Analysis of recent transit travel times shows intervals longer than 10 minutes between buses during the evening commute. Inserting additional bus trips is expected to help fill those gaps in arrival times, Desmond said.

“We’ve monitored the reliability issue for a month, and know that people depend on our buses for their daily routine,” Desmond said. “We’re going to keep working at it until we get it right.”

Metro is drawing on a limited contingency reserve of transit service hours for the additional bus trips. The contingency was created to address any operational issues that might arise as part of the Sept. 29 transit service change, the largest in memory for Metro. The reserve hours also were used to add the route 55 and 120 trips Oct. 29, and additional daily C Line trips that started Oct. 8.