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King County is experiencing a budget shortfall due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically reduced ridership across all of Metro’s services, further reducing available revenue from fareboxes. As a result, Metro can no longer launch all previously planned new RapidRide lines by 2027.

Watch our narrated presentation

Prioritizing RapidRide lines

We are prioritizing building new RapidRide lines based on the following factors:

  • Project status
  • Equity impacts
  • Funding
  • RapidRide policy goals
  • Community feedback

After serious consideration of these factors, Metro decided to pause RapidRide R Line until more funds are available. If we move ahead to build this project with limited funding, we risk leaving service conditions worse than their current state, not better. RapidRide R Line has been an agency priority since Metro formed the RapidRide expansion program and we will explore ways to resume this project once it is feasible.

Route 7 will continue with frequent bus service between downtown Seattle and the Rainier Valley.

Project background

Route 7 has been a consistent form of transportation for Rainier Valley communities—a lifeline through Southeast Seattle that has helped to create a sense of place for many historically underserved communities. The route is one of Seattle’s busiest, serving up to 11,200 riders per day before the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to be a top ridership route during the pandemic, with 60 to 70 percent retained ridership.

RapidRide R Line:

  • Upgrades and replaces the Route 7
  • Runs between downtown Seattle and the Rainier Beach Link light rail station.
  • Increases access to reliable and frequent transit in the Rainier Valley.
  • Improves the quality and ease of connecting to transit safely, including the infrastructure, amenities, and technology riders use to access transit.

The goals of RapidRide R Line are to:

  • Increase access to reliable and frequent transit in the Rainier Valley.
  • Improve the quality and ease of connecting to transit safely.

What we've heard

We are building on previous engagement in the Rainier Valley community. The following themes from the community helped to shape RapidRide R Line design:

  • Concerns about service for riders south of S. Henderson Street
  • More reliable service within the Rainer Valley and other transit
  • Community values Route 7 for access to essential services
  • Concerns about distance between stations
  • RapidRide is unfamiliar
  • Better, safer access to stations, especially for people with mobility challenges
  • Concerns about personal safety
  • Clearly communicate how and when community can influence decisions
  • Concerns about fare enforcement and affordability
  • Community members have been underserved and deserve better service as soon as possible

We used community feedback to develop design concepts, inform our overall community engagement approach, and guide our project decisions. If we continue the project with the limited available funding, we risk overlooking the priorities we’ve heard from the community.

Read the Needs Assessment Engagement Summary.
Read the Preferred Concept Engagement Summary.
Read the Final Preferred Concept Engagement Summary.

What's next

Metro has completed RapidRide R Line conceptual project design, which provides a foundation for future work. Metro will continue frequent Route 7 bus service along its existing route. Although we will be pausing this project, the current preferred concept, guided by your feedback, provides a list of priorities to improve service quality along this route as funding becomes available. Seattle Department of Transportation will continue to make street improvements along Rainier Avenue S. as part of the Route 7 – Transit-Plus Multimodal Corridor project.

Once Metro receives the funding needed to build RapidRide R Line, we will re-engage with community members before restarting the project.

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