Riders want BRT in King County
By Chrissy Mancini Nichols
Oct 7, 2011
This post first appeared at metroplanning.org
Did You Know? Ridership on King County, Wash.’s first BRT line increased more than 30 percent over the “regular” route it replaced.
King County, Wash.’s new RapidRide Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service proves, once again, that when BRT replaces “regular” buses, riders will flock to it. The system’s A Line, which launched in the fall of 2010, covers an 11-mile stretch of southern King County. It is the first of six lines that will serve the greater Seattle region. In addition to three doors for easy passenger boarding; pay-before-you-board stations for ORCA regional transit card holders; and traffic signal prioritization – green lights stay green longer or red lights turn green faster as the bus nears an intersection – the line features roadway improvements such as high-occupancy vehicle lanes and dedicated lanes to keep buses moving, even in heavy traffic.
The A Line has been met with such overwhelming satisfaction that ridership and customer satisfaction has topped expectations. Ridership increased more than 30 percent over the “regular” route it replaced, and overall satisfaction with service on the corridor is at an all-time high, with 84 percent of riders giving the A Line positive reviews, compared to a 52 percent satisfaction rating on the previous route. The A Line scored high with passengers in several other areas, such as:
• 81 percent overall satisfaction with how long their bus trip takes.
• 83 percent satisfaction with how often buses run during peak hours.
• 88 to 90 percent satisfaction with Metro’s new hybrid-electric RapidRide vehicles and on-board features, such as free WiFi.
• 81 percent satisfied with the A Line getting them to their destination on time (RapidRide stations have electronic signs with real-time bus arrivals and schedule changes).
“These new findings confirm that people will leave their cars and take the bus if they are assured of reliable, frequent, and improved bus services and stations,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Within a matter of months, the A Line has proven how effective bus rapid transit can be."
RapidRide’s B Line debuted October 1, 2011, and travels between Bellevue and Redmond via Microsoft’s campus, connecting two of the biggest job centers in the Seattle region. Ridership on the B Line is expected to increase to 2.2 million riders by 2016, above the current ridership of just over one million passengers a year.
RapidRide is funded through King County’s 2006 voter-approved Transit Now sales tax increase. King County Metro Transit also received $80 million in federal and state grants for RapidRide. With a total budget of $200 million, all six RapidRide lines will be implemented by 2013. That includes $118 million for 113 new buses; $50 million for corridor and road work; and $35 million to build the stations and new facilities.
With even more evidence to back up our theory, MPC is reiterating its challenge: let’s do BRT in Chicago, and let’s get it right! Our BRT study, Bus Rapid Transit: Chicago's New Route to Opportunityreleased in August, highlighted the 10 best routes for BRT in the city, based upon 14 livability metrics, such as access to medical centers, food stores, and employment centers. The study demonstrates that gold standard BRT is entirely feasible for Chicago and would offer tremendous benefits for riders, support existing community assets, and fill accessibility gaps in the city’s current transit network.
The Sept. 16 edition of Talking Transit should have included Pace Suburban Bus Service’s Campus Connection, a discounted transit pass for students valid for unlimited rides on Pace buses and Call-n-Rides, every day of the week, at any time of the day. For more information, please visit http://bit.ly/oFOuLm
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