Community Post

Transit Opportunity for the CD

Just noticed a new service coming to Seattle: Rapid Ride bus service. 

Metro has just opened its first route (the A line running from Tukwila to Federal Way) with 4 more on the way, including routes for Ballard and West Seattle ( The idea is to generate light-rail like bus service in high traffic corridors through a combination of 1) more frequent buses (every 10 minutes during rush hour), 2) giving buses some control of the traffic lights and priority lanes like HOV lanes, and 3) Great bus stops that are well lit and sheltered to encourage ridership. 

So are any of the 5 lines coming to the central district? Well No. 

But metro is advertising the Rapid Ride as a solution for high traffic corridors and the CD has the number one route, the #48 bus running the length of 23rd Ave ( There has been some rumbling about putting 23rd on a road diet ( Perhaps a complementary idea would be getting Rapid Ride service on 23rd. As a resident of the Central District, I think some good arguments could be made including: 1) The #48 is the most frequently used route in town, 2) Rapid Ride on the #48 route could connect CD residents to the light rail at three points: Mt. Baker Station; The University Station (in a few years); and the I-90/23rd station for the East Side light rail link even further down the road.

So, maybe this is an idea to bounce around- Maybe someone out there is already advocating for it?

0 thoughts on “Transit Opportunity for the CD

  1. When you say on the #48 route, are you proposing simply adding service and amenities on the entire route? Remember eventually there will be a station on Broadway and John. Currently we would be connected on the northern boundaries here by the #43. The #2, #3, #4, #11, #27 could connect to the Broadway street car to Broadway and John station. The #14 will connect in Mt. Baker and the ID.

  2. The idea would be to replace, rather than supplement, the #48 route.

    The point about other bus options is a good one, but it speaks more to the issue of coverage, rather than high capacity options.

    Central District residents have made the case that CD transit ridership is as high as any other neighborhood in Seattle, but we’re not even on the radar when it comes to light-rail or light-rail like options like streetcars (consider the lobbying effort to route the First Hill Street Car down 12th). I know neighbors who would like to continue to advocate for a streetcar, but Rapid Ride down 23rd might be a more tenable option. Clearly Metro is pursuing these light-rail like options in other neighborhoods.

    We should be thinking about which, if any of these models could best help the CD hook up with the Light Rail grid. Regarding the #3, #4 routes: I personally don’t see much value in taking a bus (that runs every 25 minutes) to a trolley (that runs every 15) to the Capitol Hill Light Rail station. But I’m not a hard-core bus user. I have been very impressed with bus service that runs every 10 minutes in towns like Vancouver, BC; and I dig the downtown Portland transit stops that post the next bus/train arrival on LED screens- it makes riding easy- and Rapid Ride could too.

    Look forward to more discussion.

  3. More frequent service would always be great. Every 10 or 15 minute service seems often enough to be useful.

    I like the #48 bus route going to the U and to Roosevelt. It runs normally at least every 15 minutes apart and often even every 10 minutes. Only early morning before 7:00 PM or after 10:30 PM is it every 30 minutes. To be really useful they should all run every 15 minutes until at least 8:00 PM. I am not sure why you would not want to just add to the service. The service on this route is quite good.

    The #3 and #4 during the day: each one runs every 15 minutes and together give much more frequent service to the area west of 23rd. Later in the day west of 23rd service is reduced to every 15 minutes between the two. I am sure (I have forgotten) that the “Broadway Street Car” (not trolley) will run more frequently than you indicate here. The #3 and #4 are trolleys.

    The #2 runs every 15 minutes (slightly more often in peak hours) and every 30 minutes after 6 PM. Sometimes during peak hours the amount of time between buses increases. Reducing service during peak hour here is really infuriating. On this route extending the hours of more frequent service would be a better use of the extra buses. At the moment it only makes the schedule more weird. It would be great if service of every 15 minute could be extended. Supermarkets, downtown stores, and entertainment venues are all active much later. After school activities and community and parent meetings are going on later. Why make it so difficult.

    Metro recently added some service to the #60 improving some……
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    nnections for the#2, #3,and #4 on Broadway. I am looking forward to the street car as it will improve this situation.

  4. The folks close to 23rd have pretty good direct service to the Mt. Baker station. There are other areas of high ridership where access is not quite so direct and thinking about how to accomplish a better direct service is a discussion that should take place.

  5. Okay- I’ll defer to a hard core rider on transit schedules.

    Would simply increasing the current #48 service accomplish the same things as a new Rapid Ride line? It’s entirely possible. But the advantage of advocating for an option like Rapid Ride is that it’s a coherent solution that’s easier to spell-out politically.

    The CD wants to be linked up with Light Rail.
    We’re not getting Light Rail.
    We’re probably not getting a Streetcar concession prize.
    If we can’t get any of these, maybe we deserve an awesome Rapid Ride line with frequent service and well-lit bus stops (Mt Baker Station, I-90 Station, Jackson, Cherry, Union, Madison, and up to University Station) with ORCA card machines and real-time bus schedules on display.

    You could list all of the improvements that would make the #48 better and then try to advocate for all of those improvements, or we could make a pitch for Rapid Ride and let Metro engineers sort out the details- politically it’s simpler, if a little grander!

    “Buses can’t run more often than currently scheduled” –this is a refrain I hear sometimes on the blog- the problem that increasing the frequency of current bus routes will just lead to buses bunching up and fail to provide a better service. Well- Metro has a solution that they’re presently rolling out- so why not give it some consideration?

  6. Love the ideas spelled out by Ryan re: Rapid Ride being available at #48 major arterial intersections. I walk to my work in Belltown as it takes me 15 minutes more than door-to-door bus service (#8). A #48 Rapid Ride enhancement wouldn’t impact my commute but anyone able to access it would be getting a super efficiency upgrade from what’s currently available.

    Not totally related but interesting transit aside, my Maple Valley co-worker’s Express Bus commute is about the same as my Madrona/CD to Belltown bus commute.

  7. Upgrades to any well-traveled route that ensure more on-time service and smoother rides would be welcome. The #48 bumps down 23rd and the distance between traffic and pedestrians is uncomfortable to say the least. There is room for improvement.

  8. is caught up in a bunch of other stuff at Metro and the County budget-wise. If you ride the new line, you’ll note it’s not even entirely finished yet – that is, many of the off-board improvements, stops, and traffic signal priority projects aren’t yet complete. But the 3-door buses are fairly efficient to load and unload. It’s important to note there won’t necessarily be TVMs, Orca readers, and real-time displays at each stop – and that perhaps it would be worth pursuing RapidRide in return for some 48 service, as opposed to outright replacing the 48. While the A line replaces the 174, it’s forced to make more stops (and thus have slower service) as a result. Fewer high-quality stops at major destinations would also cost less in capital dollars, and we could leave the remaining stops for the “local” 48 service as is.

    Metro will have to look seriously at service hour allocation once the light rail station @ Broadway/John opens; I don’t think we’ll get many hours back from the streetcar line.

  9. That’s an unfortunately common scenario, lucky13. We’ve put a lot of $$ into express rides from the ‘burbs, and a lot less into improving our in-city network. With Metro (hopefully!) buying new electric trolleys, we may be able to speed things up quite a bit on the 2/3/4/14/43 with low-floor coaches and on-board battery technology.