Seattle Transit Blog previews Seattle's soon-to-be-launched RapidRide bus service, which is designed to move people quickly through six commute-heavy corridors from Federal Way to Shoreline, as well as on the Eastside. Some cool features: Buses are expected to run every 10 minutes and they'll be able to signal traffic lights to ensure that green lights stay green longer or red lights switch to green faster. The service is set to launch in October, but meanwhile, Metro is testing its payment system now. And, Seattle Transit Blog reports, it's got some issues:
All RapidRide stations will have ORCA card readers. When boarding at these stations ORCA card users tap their card at the station and then board at any door. Those that don’t have an ORCA card board at the front door and pay with the driver.
...The problem with this design is that you have all of the problems associate with either fare systems without getting all of the benefits. Traditional pay as you board systems are good because drivers enforce fare payment (sort of), but as everyone knows it can be painfully slow, especially when people pay with cash. Conversely POP systems are bad because you have to employ fare enforcers, but are good because they significantly decreases dwell times by eliminating fare transactions with the driver, allowing for all door boarding, and improving internal circulation. In the case of RapidRide Metro will have to employ fare enforcers but won’t see all the time savings, because cash payments will still be processed by the driver. Additionally, this system is incompatible with the ride free area which will affect lines C, D and E and is confusing since payment process varies from one stop to the next.
The blog also suggests a few fixes for these issues. You can read them over here. Voters approved RapidRide when they passed the Transit Now initiative in November 2006.