It’s no secret transit use is growing in Seattle, but that’s especially true where King County Metro focuses bus service on its proven, busy corridors.
New figures for May show that five RapidRide lines are carrying 28 percent more passengers than the buses they replaced. RapidRide usually provides frequent service, with low-floor, three-door buses to get people on and off quicker than a standard bus. The RapidRide is outpacing Metro’s system-wide growth of 2.5 percent to 3 percent per year.
Some neighborhoods have undergone rapid growth in apartments near the bus, or drivers have switched to the bus to escape from congestion and high parking rates.
Here are Metro’s numbers:
General Manager Kevin Desmond last week hailed the “can-do Metro team,” and customer surveys show a majority of riders satisfied — at least, among those on the bus and willing to answer.
But there’s plenty of room for criticism. Buses are often full and pass waiting riders, especially if they’re bunched in traffic instead of coming in a steady flow. Outlying routes were reduced in some neighborhoods during a 2012 restructure, to move bus service hours to the RapidRide corridors.
In West Seattle, customers say they feel less safe than before, especially at the stops. The public has complained about violent crimes near the terminus stop, between Westwood Village and Roxhill Park. Last fall, passengers subdued an armed robber on the bus, at Morgan Junction.
The highest growth is on the A Line passing Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, up 78 percent since it replaced Route 174 in 2010. The bus not only serves airport employees, but shuttles people to a pair of Sound Transit light-rail stations that opened in 2009. The E Line, just launched in February on Aurora Avenue North, is already outpacing previous Route 358, Metro says.
Besides the five voter-approved lines shown here, Metro converted crosstown Route 150 to the F Line in June, from Burien to SeaTac, Tukwila and Renton.