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April 7, 2011

Executive proposes frequent RapidRide service for the Eastside and related route efficiencies as part of fall service change

Transit service revisions in other areas of King County also proposed for October

King County Executive Dow Constantine today proposed more and faster transit service for the Eastside through the launch of the much-praised RapidRide bus rapid transit. He is also calling for more convenient, efficient and cost-effective bus service to support it in his fall service change ordinance transmitted today to the the Metropolitan King County Council.

“Rapid Ride will allow you to just show up to catch a bus between Bellevue and Redmond every 10 or 15 minutes, without having to check a schedule,” said Executive Constantine. “We heard from Eastside residents, businesses, and public agencies, and this proposal reflects their wishes to consolidate resources and make Metro an easier alternative to driving a car.”
If adopted by the Council, the proposed changes would revise 24 King County Metro Transit bus routes to coincide with the launch of RapidRide B Line service between Bellevue and Redmond via Overlake and Crossroads. The service change would go into effect on October 1.

“RapidRide serves as a missing link for frequent, reliable connection to our employments centers in Bellevue and Redmond,” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague. “This is a major increase in transit services for the Eastside.”

“Commuters want transit service that is frequent, fast, reliable, easy to use, and part of an interconnected network, and that’s what RapidRide and the changes to Eastside transit service are designed to provide,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, Chair of the Council’s Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee. “These changes also reflect our work to maximize the cost-effectiveness of the Metro system to ensure we are spending our transit dollars wisely.”

Executive Constantine said the proposed transit service changes will improve Eastside connections to take advantage of recent service additions made by Metro and Sound Transit to the all-day routes between the Eastside and Seattle. These improvements were made possible through federal Urban Partnership grants, a recent redistribution of existing property taxes, and the Sound Transit Phase II plan – all of which provide alternatives for people who will soon be paying tolls to cross the State Route 520 Bridge.

The proposed revisions to the 24 Metro bus routes are being coordinated with the launch of the B Line. That means some current Eastside bus routes will be changed or eliminated in order to maximize bus service and avoid duplicating the new RapidRide service. Eastside bus riders should have the same level of service – and in some cases more – but some may need to adjust to new routes or transfer connections.

The first of King County’s new RapidRide lines serving the route from Tukwila to Federal Way has proven so popular in its first four months that ridership is up 25 percent over the less productive route it replaced, with 84 percent of those surveyed saying they’re satisfied or highly satisfied with the new service.

The Executive’s proposal will be heard by the County Council at a public hearing on Tuesday, April 12 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Mercer Island Community Center, 8236 SE 24th St., Mercer Island.

On the Eastside, the proposal calls for:

New Metro routes:
RapidRide B Line, 226, 235 and 241

Routes with added service:
212, 255, 271

Routing changes:
221, 234, 240, 245, 246, 249, 250, and 265

Routes proposed for elimination since current service will be offered by other routes:
222, 225, 229, 230, 233, 247, 253, 256, 261, 266, 272, and 926

The transit service package also includes additional service to help ease travel through Alaskan Way Viaduct construction, and a partnership with major medical centers on First Hill in Seattle to increase bus trips to that area from locations to the north, east and south.

In West Seattle, the fall service plan calls for increasing frequency on Route 54 from half-hourly to every 15 minutes midday Monday through Saturday. It also maintains the current weekday peak 15-minute service that is being provided through an agreement with the Washington State Department of Transportation related to the replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

The Transit Now partnership with the First Hill Transportation Group – a consortium of the Swedish, Virginia Mason and Harborview medical centers – will increase transit commute options to First Hill employment centers. Trips would be added to routes 193, 211, 303, and 309, extend Route 211 to the Issaquah Highlands Park-and-Ride, and extend Route 193 to the Federal Way Transit Center. Implementation of the partnership adds approximately 7,500 annual hours, of which Metro will be responsible for two-thirds and the partners will cover the other one-third of the cost.

The proposed changes are consistent with adopted policies and budget priorities, including the investment of 49,000 annual hours budgeted for 2011.

Route-by-route descriptions, downloadable maps, and an interactive map can be found on Metro Online.

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