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“Rapid Ride” arrives as part of fall transit service improvements

Summary

Launch of south King County route, increased service on SR-520 part of Council adopted transportation legislation

Story

Transit riders on one of the County’s most congested corridors will see the arrival of new bus rapid transit service with today’s unanimous adoption by the Metropolitan King County Council of fall transit service upgrades. The implementation of “Rapid Ride” service from Tukwila to Federal Way is one of the 2010-2011 service improvements approved by the Council.

“Rapid Ride will allow riders to throw away their bus schedules for fast, frequent service on key corridors, and increased bus service on SR 520 will offer commuters alternatives to congestion and tolls,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, Chair of the Environment and Transportation Committee. “Bus riders will see these improvements to their service in the coming months thanks to voters’ approval of Transit Now and partnerships with the federal government and local communities. However, Metro’s budget shortfall continues to threaten the viability of our transit system, so we must remain focused on finding a long term solution.”

“These are exciting improvements,” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague. “Today’s legislation provides significant increases in bus service to the eastside suburbs. Bellevue and Kirkland commuters will now have more opportunities to avoid the 520 gridlock.”

Rapid Ride is part of the “Transit Now” initiative adopted by voters in 2006. The “A Line” is the first of six Rapid Ride routes to be launched over the next three years. Arriving every 10 minutes during the busiest morning and evening travel hours, the specially-designed buses will have low floors and three doors, so people can get on and off quickly. A new fare payment system will allow riders with passes to pay as they enter any door.

The new route will replace Metro’s Route 174 operating along Pacific Highway S/International Boulevard between the Federal Way Transit Center and Sound Transit’s light rail station in Tukwila.

“Rapid Ride is a solid transit investment that will serve some of the most densely populated, high ridership areas in our county, like the 15 mile stretch of roadway between Tukwila and Federal Way that will be connected by Line A this fall,” said Councilmember Julia Patterson, whose Council District includes part of the Rapid Ride corridor. “With Rapid Ride coming soon, we mark a time when we’ll be able to move more people more quickly than ever before, all while getting them out of their cars.”

Additionally, the adopted legislation implements a federal Urban Partnership Agreement on SR 520, making the region eligible for more than $100 million of grant funds to address congestion in the SR 520 corridor. As part of the partnership agreement, King County will add 28,000 hours of bus service to existing routes 255, 265, 271, and 311. The transit service improvements will add 38 peak period transit trips to help reduce congestion and improve mobility along this important corridor. Sound Transit will increase regional express bus service on SR 520.

Under the Urban Partnership Agreement-related service, in October 2010 and February 2011, there will be increased service between downtown Seattle and Kirkland’s Totem Lake Transit Center (Route 255), the Houghton Park and Ride (Route 265), and Woodinville (Route 311). There will also be more service from Eastgate and downtown Bellevue to the University District on the Route 271.

This legislation also initiates a number of bus service improvements jointly funded by King County and the cities of Kent and Auburn as well as an expansion of service in Issaquah where the county is partnering with the city, the Port Blakely Communities, Timber Ridge at Talus and the Talus Residential Association. Through Transit Now service partnerships King County has been able to leverage its investments with contributions from other public or private entities to continue expansion of the Metro system even with the current budget constraints.

Read more about this legislation on the King County Council’s LEGISEARCH system at https://mkcclegisearch.kingcounty.gov and type in “2010-0276” and “2010-0277”



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