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The Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

November 17, 2009 at 5:15 PM

Bus on the outside, light rail on the inside… Can you guess what it is?

swift11709m.jpg
11:02 a.m. [Click on sketches to view larger]
swiftdos11709m.jpgIt’s the new Swift transit system coming to a 17-mile stretch of Highway 99 on Nov. 29.
Community Transit offered a media ride-along on one of their new Swift buses this morning and the sketcher was there to document the occasion, just as I did with light rail.
The Swift is billed as a cheaper alternative to light-rail that provides a similar experience. Off-board payment, lower boarding platforms, wider doors and more standing room help in that regard. There are also bike racks inside the bus. A priority signal system keeps the traffic lights green longer when the bus is approaching. “It’s only going to make 12 stops. It’s going to make the trips quicker,” said Community Transit spokesman Tom Pearce.
The Swift won’t help me in my daily commute to downtown Seattle but it’s going to help everyone who travels along Highway 99 between Everett and Shoreline. “This is our highest ridership route,” said Pearce. “More than one million a year use Community Transit on this corridor.”
Driver Tim Lynch, a 15-year veteran with Community Transit, said he’ll miss the interaction with the customers, who will be paying the fares off-board at the especially designed Swift stations. But he likes the new buses. “They’re the leading edge for bus transportation,” he said.
I’m still partial to light-rail and can’t wait for the rails to arrive further north, but I like these Swift buses too. Any improvements to public transportation in our region are welcomed in my book.
For a map of the route and more information about the Swift visit this Community Transit web page.

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