C and D line update: working out some kinks

We’ve had some start-up challenges with the new C and D lines – overcrowded buses and delays during peak commute hours on the C Line, and some technology that isn’t working yet on the D Line. Here’s a rundown of what we’re doing to address these issues.

Adding buses

After adding two morning and two afternoon trips to both new lines to make buses less crowded and more reliable, we’re monitoring passenger loads. Things appear to be going more smoothly on the C Line during morning commute hours, but there are still problems with the afternoon commute. We may add more trips to these lines or to connecting bus routes if necessary. We’ve also stationed two extra buses near the C and D lines so we can put them into service quickly if the regular buses are delayed or overcrowded.

Actively managing service

Metro has a control center where a dedicated coordinator actively manages RapidRide service during peak commute hours, communicating with bus drivers to help them keep buses evenly spaced. This is a new approach for us, and continues to improve with experience.

Transit signal priority

Most major intersections on RapidRide corridors have transit signal priority systems. RapidRide buses send signals to traffic lights to make green lights stay green longer or red lights switch to green faster.

C Line transit signal priority systems are up and running at all but one of the intended intersections. D Line systems are now operating at more than half of the intended intersections. Metro is working with the Seattle Department of Transportation to turn on the remaining systems by the end of the year.

We’ll be refining traffic signal timing for both lines over the next six months. After that, we’ll continue to monitor the systems and adjust them as needed. The C and D lines are connected, so as signal priority improves on the D Line, the C Line should provide more reliable service coming out of downtown Seattle.

photo: RapidRide station with dark sign and hooded card reader

You’ll be seeing fewer nonworking signs and hooded ORCA readers as we get power and troubleshoot isolated connection problems.

Bus arrival signs and ORCA readers

The real-time bus arrival signs at RapidRide stations depend on network connections that have both hard-wired and wireless components. When a sign isn’t working properly, Metro has to identify the problem before we can fix it. The wireless access point may be faulty and require replacement, or the signal may be interrupted by something physically coming between the sign and its wireless access point (in which case we would move one of the antennas).

As of today, there’s still one arrival sign on the C Line that we haven’t fixed yet. On the D Line, we’re working with Seattle City Light to make permanent electrical connections, which will allow us to turn on the off-board ORCA readers and arrival signs. Experience with the A and B lines tells us that once we’re able to hook up the equipment, turn it on, and see if it’s working, most of it will probably work, with a few isolated issues.

Thanks for your patience

While we’re working to get everything running smoothly, we really appreciate our riders’ patience – and also your comments and suggestions, which help us know where improvements are needed.

Next time: what riders can do to speed up RapidRide

13 thoughts on “C and D line update: working out some kinks

  1. Now nicknamed “Rancid Ride”. The 54 worked great. Arrived about five mins after ferry docked at Fauntleroy; got me up the hill to my connection stop; the old shelter we had before it was pulled down for a year with no explanation, really did shelter us. Now I miss the bus by 3 mins; get delivered a block from where I need to go, and suffer waiting in a shelter that doesn’t shelter. Two out of three times the bus wait has been 25 mins. The shelters, designed to be uncomfortable for homeless people, who don’t pay taxes, are now made uncomfortable for citizens who DO pay taxes. I still invite Paul Roybal to come stand in a shelter on a stormy windy day and see just how wet and cold he will get, that is, if he is lucky enough to get the one seat on the inside of the shelter. Perhaps he will be one of the lucky ones who gets to sit on the bench outside the shelter!!!!!!!!!!! Duh. How stupid can you guys be? Obviously Paul doesn’t come from WA state if he designed a bench outside a shelter in WA weather. Rancid Ride – pass on the nickname. Ellen

  2. October 23 – STILL 25 minutes longer than the 54X was. HOW is this an improvement? Standing room only – buses not on any kind-of schedule – bright lights that trigger headaches – reliability was much better with the the various 54 routes, this is ridiculous.

  3. Northbound D line downtown needs a lot of work. Afternoon rush hour is guaranteed SRO through Ballard. The stop lacks an ORCA reader, so there are extra delays as a busfull riders have to single queue to board. I realize you’re in the startup phase, but do something about rush hour or lose people to any other option. Once lost, you will find it difficult to get people to try again.

  4. We’re working on the remaining ORCA readers on both the C and D lines – as fast as we can, given available staff and the need to coordinate with other agencies such as Seattle City Light and the Seattle Department of Transportation on power and network connections.

    Not sure where you board, but here’s a timeline for completing installation of the ORCA readers. There are five D Line stations in Ballard and lower Queen Anne that we expect to have readers activated by the end of this year. Five stations in Belltown are scheduled for activation by mid-2013, and the central downtown stations by fall 2013. Activation at one additional Belltown location, at Third Avenue and Cedar Street (southbound), is further delayed until the adjacent building construction is complete – most likely into early 2014.

  5. Pingback: News Roundup: Apparently Not Enough - Seattle Transit Blog

  6. In lieu of real-time arrival signs on the D line for an indefinite time period, what is the progress on making real-time arrival data available for One Bus Away? Since all the infrastructure is in place for OBS-based real-time info, it seems like something that could come online in an much accelerated time frame.

  7. While I can’t speak for West Seattle riders, one of the biggest problems with the 15/18 northbound was the throughrouting with routes from West Seattle. There were times when you would have two (sometimes three!) back to back 15/18 due to delays caused in West Seattle, causing huge service gaps for Ballard riders. This problem, understandably, has not gone away with the RapidRide, as back to back RapidRides are a common sight, after waiting 30 minutes for one. The RapidRide C/D route is currently one of the longest non-express routes in King County.

    When RapidRide C/D were first announced, they weren’t shown as throughrouted. Metro quietly changed this, with no explanation whatsoever. I understand the challenges faced in having bus layovers in the downtown core, but aren’t the challenges worth it when you consider the on time reliability the routes will gain when leaving downtown? Is this something Metro is actively pursuing a solution for?

  8. Still no realtime info in OneBusAway yet. When will that be fixed? Currently we have to head out to the stop at random and wait up to 15 minutes (or more…) for a bus to arrive. Makes RR a far less user-friendly route than every other route on the network, with far too much guesswork.

  9. One hour door-to-door this morning. What would have taken 40 minutes on the 54X.
    Say a bus leave the Fauntleroy/Calif. station at 7:09… next one did not come until 7:34. What happened to the added buses that were going to make the wait a maximum of 6-8 minutes during rush hour?

  10. I have two questions for Metro staff:

    1) When will the real time information display and ORCA card reader be functioning at the RapidRide stop at 15th Ave NW & NW 65 Street southbound?

    2) When will lighting be improved and connecting schedule information be posted at the new stops on NW Leary Way & 15 Ave NW? This is supposed to be a major connection point between RapidRide and routes 40 and 61, yet there is absolutely no info about connection times and both stops are dark. My spouse refuses to transfer there. This Metro service change rollout in Ballard has been very underwhelming and disappointing, and I speak for other riders I know as well as myself.

  11. Leaving aside the opening “kinks” for a moment, the lack of completeness on rapid ride D is a total embarassment. Metro delayed the opening of C for a year because it was worried that construction related congestion would tarnish the rapid ride “brand”. Guess what guys – opening a line that is largely incomplete (and failing to tell the public about this until AFTER opening) is a far worse tarnishment of the brand. Thanks to this experience I’ll probably always associate rapid ride with incompetance and frustration. Get it together.

  12. That’s good they’re going to fix the readers and real time displays. I haven’t seen a working one of either in months. Also, the buses don’t keep to the schedules well at all, and you can wait anywhere from 5-30 minutes for a bus which makes it difficult to rely on them for work or school.

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