There have been a couple of changes to the Metro bus system that we thought were worth addressing since many of our readers ride the Metro. The two major changes are the elimination of the downtown ride free zone and the addition of the Rapid Ride bus service.
For those of you that live and/or work in Belltown or Downtown you might have been used to riding certain buses for free. As of September 29th, the ride free areas are gone. Along with this change is a new procedure for paying. All riders will pay upon entering the bus in the front and will exit out the rear door. Pay in front, exit in back. That is the new slogan - cute isn’t it? Why the changes? According to Metro’s website, eliminating the ride free area will help the city’s budget as they pay to operate the buses in those routes. As for pay on entry, they believe it will make riding the bus less confusing as the method for paying will be the same on all routes.
New to the bus riding scene is the Rapid Ride. Intended to run more frequently, be faster to board, stop less and move more, and be safer, Rapid Ride is the newest way to ride Metro. Right now there are 4 lines with more in the pipeline. Right now, the routes are the A Line from Tukwila to Federal Way, Line B from Bellevue to Redmond, Line C from West Seattle to Downtown, and Line D from Ballard to Lower Queen Anne and Downtown.
Some highlights of Rapid Ride are:
- Buses arrive at stops every 10 minutes during peak hours and 15 minutes in off-peak hours
- They run 7 days a week
- Always follow the same route
- Next stop is displayed in the bus
- Maps at the stations show all of the stops
- Electronic signs at the stations show when the next bus will arrive
- 3 doors for quick entry and exit
- You can pay at the ORCA card reader at the stations before boarding
- Buses send signals to traffic lights so the green lights stay longer or turn green sooner to keep the buses moving quickly
- Roadway improvements such as HOV lanes keep buses moving, even in heavy traffic
- Stations feature stop request signals so bus drivers know you are waiting there
Hopefully these changes will have a positive impact on the Metro riders’ experiences and get more of us on the bus when bouncing around town for shopping dining, drinking, etc., and not just commuting to work. It’s nice to know you can hop on rapid ride from Downtown/Belltown to hit up a bar or fun restaurant in Ballard as well.