Dedicated Bus Lanes

Support new dedicated bus lanes

Background

Most of Seattle’s transit is provided by buses. A bus cannot run on time when it is stuck in traffic, and people cannot use transit if it does not provide fast and reliable service. This is also an equity question when there are a lot of people needing to use the road: a bus carrying 60 people takes up the same road space as three single occupancy vehicles. There will be public opposition to some of these bus-only lanes from people who are currently using them for their personal vehicles or who are dependent on them for parking, and this change will require support in order to be successful.

One of the biggest sources of opposition in the past has been from small businesses, which are dependent on street parking for their customers. But a small business might have many more customers if it is not limited to those who can park nearby; if many people are riding transit, walking or biking by, some will stop in the store, and this may be more than were previously getting there by car. Store owners usually do not have a good way of finding out how their customers arrived there. Doing a canvas to ask people is often illustrative. SDOT has done such canvases in Fremont and on Capitol Hill, and found most people arriving either by walking or transit.

The King County Strategic Climate Action Plan calls for the county to work on corridor prioritization for transit in each biennial budget period. This period, the improvements will be with RapidRide.

RapidRide bus by S.S. Sol Duc

Current Plans

Many of the planned bus-only lanes are part of RapidRide lines. The RapidRide lines are funded by a combination of the Move Seattle levy, the Seattle Real Estate Excise Tax (REET), Metro, and federal grants. RapidRide lines have been delayed and scaled back for a number of different reasons: (1) Mayor Durkin argued that the Move Seattle promises were too ambitious for the revenue and cut projections; (2) REET proceeds which had been set aside for transit were redirected to back bonds for the West Seattle bridge repairs; (3) Metro has had to scale back plans due to decreased revenues because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

RapidRide Corridor H runs from White Center to Downtown through West Seattle along the current Route 120. This is now planned for 2022.

RapidRide Corridor G will run on Madison St. from the Colman Dock Ferry Terminal to 24rd Ave. E., with a dedicated bus lane. This is now planned for 2024. It will have bus lanes from 1st Ave to 9th Ave, and from 12 Ave. to 24th Ave.

RapidRide Corridor J will run from the University District light rail station south along Roosevelt to Eastlake, and Downtown. This is now planned for 2024. It will include 2.3 miles of bus-only lanes.

The Move Seattle levy also called for Multimodal Corridors for Routes 40, 44, and 48, which may include bus lanes, signal priority, and other improvements. Route 40 Multimodal Corridor is in design and has been briefed to the advisory boards as of October 2020. Route 44 Multimodal Corridor is moving forward into design after outreach in Sept. 2020, with completion in 2023. Some improvements are coming sooner: an eastbound bus-only lane on NE 45th St between 9th Ave NE and 15th Ave NE, as well as a southbound BAT lane along 15th Ave NE between NE 40th St and NE 45th St, will be constructed in 2021 as part of the Northlake light rail opening. Work on the Route 48 Multimodal Corridor is still planned, but remains further off. SDOT has cut a planned bus route on Rainier Ave S. just south of I-90, due to need for further analysis. A southbound BAT lane along Rainer Ave S. from S. McClellan St to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. S. is still planned.

In the Media

From The Urbanist: 2021 Budget Takes Another Bite Out of RapidRide Program