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King County
Executive Office

Ron Sims, King County Executive 701 Fifth Ave. Suite 3210 Seattle, WA 98104 Phone: 206-296-4040 Fax: 206-296-0194 TTY Relay: 711
Image: King County Exeutive Ron Sims, News Release

Sept 2, 2008

$32 million boost in transit service for first phase of viaduct work

More than 4,000 new daily bus riders expected

More than 4,000 new daily bus riders expectedMore buses, more often is the centerpiece of a $32 million transit plan that will help Seattle commuters during next year’s start of Alaskan Way Viaduct construction. West Seattle, Ballard and Aurora Ave., the neighborhoods most affected by construction, will see the most service as well as incentives for transit passes, carpools and other ways to help people avoid being stuck in traffic.

“This investment by Washington State will mean more convenient service during construction and will help us be ready for more than 4,000 new riders expected to ride Metro and leave their cars at home,” Sims said. “Metro Transit will be able to fast-track delivery of new buses, add more frequent service on popular routes, and get bus passes in the hands of more downtown Seattle employees.”

The transit mitigation plan is part of the first phase of planning currently underway by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), King County and the City of Seattle to repair or replace the first half of the seismically vulnerable viaduct. It will offer more service and more choices to many of the 200,000 workers commuting to downtown Seattle each day. About 40 percent of all downtown workers rely on the bus to get to work. Discussions are still underway for transit mitigation during construction of the one-mile center section of the viaduct.

“This funding will enable us to immediately improve bus service in the West-Seattle-to-downtown corridor,” said King County Councilmember Dow Constantine. “Commuters directly impacted by viaduct demolition will benefit from more frequent service on important routes such as the 54 and 21 express.”

What will expanded transit services look like during initial phases of viaduct construction?

This transit funding will increase the frequency of existing bus service along three busy Seattle travel corridors – Aurora, Ballard, and West Seattle – in advance of the start of RapidRide, Metro’s planned bus rapid transit funded through voter-approved Transit Now. For example, West Seattle’s Route 54 may offer 15-minute service six days a week. And improved service will provide more options for people who work in West Seattle and Ballard. Peak period service will be expanded on several routes to better meet growing demand, and passenger waits and overloads will be reduced with the help of a new bus detection system designed to more closely monitor on-time performance.

Additional transit improvements in the pipeline will benefit first-time transit users and employers alike. Working with employers, Metro plans to provide more than 3,500 transit, carpool and parking incentives to downtown Seattle workers who choose to share a ride during viaduct construction.

Metro will also work with selected companies to develop innovative approaches to telecommuting and flexible work schedules.

Moving forward with new buses

To support the Moving Forward projects, Metro is preparing to accelerate the purchase of 30 new 60-foot hybrid coaches and the delivery of coaches already on order for its own future transit expansion. It will also increase the use of some buses currently in service. Metro expects to take delivery of the first 15 buses in 2009, in time for the start-up of initial viaduct construction.

The City of Seattle is also taking steps to support the Alaskan Way Viaduct transit mitigation effort with upgraded traffic signals and add dynamic electronic messaging signs on several corridors to support transit and traffic flow. As part of the State Route 519 project, freight connections from Interstate 5 and Interstate 90 to the Port of Seattle will be improved. And Spokane Street will be widened with a new 4th Avenue ramp scheduled for completion prior to the start of south end viaduct construction.

These improvements, along with information about travel alternatives and incentives to encourage use of transit, carpool and vanpool programs, will help keep buses and vehicles moving.

With this initial set of transit improvements identified, the state, county and city now turn their attention to the next phase of transit mitigation required to keep the region moving during construction of the central portion of the viaduct.

“This initial transit mitigation investment is just the first step in our efforts to ensure there is enough transit service available during and after Alaskan Way Viaduct construction. We are working with the state and city to make transit part of the final solution for the central waterfront,” Sims said.

The central waterfront transit mitigation plan will be part of a larger set of viaduct recommendations that will be issued late this year.

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  Updated: March 17, 2010