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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Rapid Ride Is Not Bus Rapid Transit

Posted by on Tue, Jan 8, 2013 at 3:06 PM

Dan, I completely agree with your assessment that RapidRide is a "COMPLETE FUCKING JOKE." When I was in Lima last month, I appreciated the fact that their bus rapid transit line has dedicated lanes running right down the center of the highway that bisects the city. The BRT lines are physically separated from the rest of the highway traffic by concrete barriers. It's ugly, but at least it works: At rush hour, there are hundreds of professionals patiently waiting for the next bus. Traffic in both directions is often snarled to a standstill, but the buses keep speeding through at regular intervals in their dedicated lanes. (It's important to note that even a successful BRT can't be the whole solution; that's why Lima is also in the early stages of building a light rail line, too.) Here's video of the BRT in Lima. It's not at rush hour, but it gives you the idea:

So what can we do here? I think first, it's important to not allow any city official to get away with calling RapidRide bus rapid transit. It's not. It fails to meet even the most basic definition of what a bus rapid transit system should be. It's a goddamned insult, is what it is. Unless we reject the premise outright that RapidRide is bus rapid transit, politicians will just keep propping it up as an example of transit that works.


Comments (26) RSS

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Will in Seattle 1
But we hired PR firms to act as if it was ...

Isn't that the same thing?
Posted by Will in Seattle on January 8, 2013 at 3:14 PM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 2
It was never really BRT, and everyone knew that. It's a way of getting federal money. It's actually an interesting lesson in making sure youre incentives are set up correctly. If funding required you demonstrate you can move more people faster (performance) instead of a list of technologies (prescriptive), maybe we'd have real BRT. Instead, cities all over the country have new buses and fancy stations and pretend it's BRT.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on January 8, 2013 at 3:22 PM · Report this
Knat 3
I was really impressed when I rode the light rail to the airport this year. It took about 20 minutes, whereas my previous attempt on the bus several years ago took more like 2 HOURS. Granted, I may have screwed myself over when I worked out the route on their Trip Planner, but the difference is astounding, with the price being essentially the same.
Posted by Knat on January 8, 2013 at 3:24 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 4
Actually, even though it technically is slower, the ride to and from the airport on LINK is nice. Comfy too.

Saved me parking, great views. Plus it runs until 12:10 (10 after midnight) for departure from Sea-Tac.
Posted by Will in Seattle on January 8, 2013 at 3:30 PM · Report this
Props to Fnarf for having been trying to drill this distinction into our thick skulls for the last couple years here.
Posted by gloomy gus on January 8, 2013 at 3:34 PM · Report this
The Institute for Transportation & Development Policy has a BRT standard that defines what should exist for a bus line to be called Rapid. The idea is to protect the brand of BRT from being ruined by bad implementation.

Most of the bad implementation is happening in the US. Although here in Santiago there are so called 'bus only lanes' which everyone drives in because they are not enforced. But in general South America is leading the way in BRT.
Posted by SantiagoFan on January 8, 2013 at 3:46 PM · Report this
Former Lurker 7
@1 LOL!
Posted by Former Lurker on January 8, 2013 at 4:08 PM · Report this
treacle 8
I would be happy if we implemented BRT routes here, but that would require some significant redesignation and reconstruction of existing streets. And not nearly as big in scope as, say, oh I dunno, building a brand new gianormous tunnel underneath Seattle, or something.
Posted by treacle on January 8, 2013 at 4:11 PM · Report this
espato 9
So true. #crapidride is a joke- I waited 20 minutes in the rain for a bus that is supposed to arrive at ten minute intervals this morning (West Seattle, C line), then had the "pleasure" of riding in a bus that was similar to a can of sardines (both density of ridership and smell).
Posted by espato on January 8, 2013 at 4:29 PM · Report this
You guys keep talking about this like it was supposed to be rapid transit, which is it not, and not a reduction in service due to funding shortfalls branded as rapid transit, which it is.
Posted by Westside forever on January 8, 2013 at 4:30 PM · Report this
SPG 11
@3, I don't know if you ever took the bus to the airport from downtown back before light rail, but that old express to the airport was pretty damn quick since it didn't make too many stops. It would zip through the tunnel and the dedicated lanes through SoDo then get on to I-5 in the carpool lane. It was great to get to the airport for the same bus fare as going two blocks, but of course the schedule was too limited.
I've taken the light rail a couple times and I've found it to be a little too slow...maybe it's just my impression, but I recall the express bus being much faster since it didn't stop every couple minutes.
Posted by SPG on January 8, 2013 at 4:31 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 12

It also stopped a lot closer to the terminal.
Posted by keshmeshi on January 8, 2013 at 4:36 PM · Report this
Timrrr 13
Sad part is, when they put the RapidRide stops in Ballard they actually REMOVED a lane of traffic to do it!

15th Ave NW use to be three lanes southbound. The curb (3rd) lane was No Parking during morning rush hour.

For RapidRide, instead of converting that curb lane into a dedicated bus lane, they installed curb bulbs coming out into the street at all the stops -- ensuring that this lane can never, ever be used again for traffic of any sort -- let alone rapid transit!

(Also reducing the possible traffic throughput for the entire roadway by one third here -- bus traffic included!)

The genius put on public display by this ever-so-well-thought-out bit of engineering is just simply stunning!
Posted by Timrrr on January 8, 2013 at 4:46 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 14

I'm sure they could take the bus curb out if necessary. What part of 15th did they do this? I haven't noticed it.
Posted by keshmeshi on January 8, 2013 at 5:25 PM · Report this
I don't understand why this goes on. Either people just don't fucking care, or they believe whatever bullshit agencies like MT/ST spit out because out here in Seattle we don't have any fucking clue what other -- that is to say legitimately -- big cities are like.

No, they care about raising taxes to pay for the roads they drive on, and that they can't buy vodka at WinCo. Not about having a non-pathetic, non-clusterfuck, non-embarrassing transit system.
Posted by K on January 8, 2013 at 5:28 PM · Report this
@11, you're probably thinking about the 194, which wasn't the actual official "airport express" bus. The 174, which RRA replaced, was the official airport express bus. It also took twice as long. Despite the fact that the 174 destination sign included a "via SeaTac Airport" slide and a little airplane symbol, every single time anyone went to the door of the 174 bus and asked if it went to the airport, the driver would always say "Yeah, but you don't want this bus, you want the 194, it'll save you half an hour."

So they replaced it with an even funnier joke called RapidRide...
Posted by K on January 8, 2013 at 5:32 PM · Report this
RapidRide isn't rapid. No one seems to want to point out this obvious bit of naming fail, and the officious douchebags at the transit agencies certainly don't want to hear it.

But there's no two ways about it. RapidRide is *not rapid*. Rapid means *fast.* What RapidRide is, is *frequent*, and that is a *different* thing; though I'm sure a gaggle of parrots at MT would insist that the words mean the same thing.

I really would like someone to race the RapidRide on a bicycle. I think odds are at least even that the bike could win. Rush hour or not. At least line A, where there are stops every. quarter. mile, and usually AFTER lights.

Also, TSP, the saving grace of RapidRide that supposedly excuses it from the fact that it really has zero BRT features (well, half of one, in that it has offboard payment -- but it also has old fashioned and slow onboard payment) most of the intersections on the route don't support it. Still.
Posted by K on January 8, 2013 at 5:39 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 18
But it does have cool readerboards that tell you when the next bus is coming.
Posted by Will in Seattle on January 8, 2013 at 6:03 PM · Report this
You guys keep talking about this like it was supposed to be rapid transit, which is it not, and not a reduction in service due to funding shortfalls branded as rapid transit, which it is.

Yep, and it's only going to get worse, as light rail and buses compete for operating funds. In that competition, light rail will win because it's what the white yuppies love and buses are for the poor and the brown.
Posted by Mister G on January 8, 2013 at 6:19 PM · Report this
@6, thanks, I was about to say the same thing. You can learn more here (PDF).
Posted by minderbender on January 8, 2013 at 9:39 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 21
The NEED for real mass transit does not exist in Seattle. When there IS A NEED a solution will be found. END.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on January 8, 2013 at 10:32 PM · Report this
@21: Denny Way called. It said you should shut the fuck up.
Posted by d.p. on January 9, 2013 at 12:02 AM · Report this
#22, a typical Seattle "progressive" asshole who wants everyone who disagrees with him to "shut the fuck up."
Posted by Mister G on January 9, 2013 at 2:09 PM · Report this
Again, "G", would you care to tell us about about how liquor privatization was the price-cutting bee's knees?

I haven't heard you mention that once since privatization happened and you were proven an idiot.

You're welcome to keep spouting your mouth off. Nearly everything that comes out of it is demonstrably wrong.

You would actually be doing yourself a favor by shutting the fuck up.
Posted by d.p. on January 10, 2013 at 12:22 PM · Report this
Denny way lolz
Posted by Adebb on January 17, 2013 at 10:08 PM · Report this
@16 the 194 was the express bus to the airport. the 174 was the local.
194 was really quick (when not rush hour), but the last bus from seatac was 9pm, so after that it was a cab, or 1+ hour on the 174.
light rail is slower than the 194 during off peak (35 + longer walk v. 25min), but as fast or faster during during morning and evening rush hours.
Posted by slugbiker on January 24, 2013 at 10:11 AM · Report this

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