This weekend was the grand opening of King County Metro's RapidRide B line, which runs from the Bellevue Transit Center to Redmond Transit Center. RapidRide is Metro's bus rapid transit system, featuring supposedly more efficient bus lines, a faster pay-before-you-board system for passengers, and more frequent service. I'm a little bit of a transit nerd—while I one day aspire to be as wonky as our friends at Seattle Transit Blog, I'm more of a fan and by no means an expert—and so I went out and rode it from end to end.
Basically, my feelings on the RapidRide B line are the same as my feelings on the A line: While it's nice that there are dedicated bus stop "stations" along the route, and while the buses themselves are snazzy, and while it's great that there are plenty more buses along the route, this route really tests the definition of the word "rapid." If anything, the B line is going to get even more gummed up than the A line; my trip landed on the outside of Metro's time estimates. Metro predicts that route B trips could take as little as 35 minutes from start to finish, but it took my bus about 50 minutes to run the whole route. (And keep in mind that this is on a weekend; I bet the whole thing takes way more than an hour in rush hour traffic.) While I appreciate the re-envisioning of bus service to make the details run more smoothly—I wish every bus line in the city could be replaced with RapidRide buses and bus stops—this isn't anything revolutionary.
The next RapidRide line scheduled to open, about one year from now, is the C line, from West Seattle to downtown. The D line, from Ballard to Uptown, is scheduled for a vague "2012" start date. I do look forward to the frequent service that these route will bring; every little bit helps. But they're not going to cure Seattle's ongoing need for serious public transit solutions.