City Council ready to move Madison bus rapid transit plan forward

(Image: SDOT)

(Image: SDOT)

Just in time for everybody to be just a little irrationally excited about a fixed-rail transit option opening in the area, the City Council’s transportation committee Friday pushed forward the process to create a “bus rapid transit” corridor on Madison from downtown to the Central District.

Friday, the committee agreed to pass a resolution adopting the Seattle Department of Transportation’s “locally preferred alternative” design for the route and clearing the way for the project to seek the necessary exogenous funding. If all goes to plan, the BRT plan with a few segments of honest to goodness dedicated bus lanes will be open by 2019.

CHS wrote here about the final adjustments to the design proposal. Instead of a BRT route running in a dedicated lane through the extent of the route, the plan has buses running in mixed-traffic east of 18th Ave with “signal priority” helping speed the trip to the MLK terminus. A dedicated center lane with island stops will run from 9th Ave to 13th Ave under the proposal. The rest of the route will run curbside with right-turning traffic until 18th Ave.

In the time it took the First Hill Streetcar to open, bus rapid transit has emerged as a popular alternative for cities looking for a cheaper, more flexible form of public transit. The Madison project has an estimated price tag around $120 million — not far from the First Hill Streetcar’s $138 million cost. Whether the lighter investments can truly achieve the “rapid” part of the rapid transit equation will remain to be seen.

The full City Council is expected to vote on the proposal February 1st.

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8 thoughts on “City Council ready to move Madison bus rapid transit plan forward

  1. To say Madison BRT connects the Central District is disingenuous. It actually connects Madison Valley to downtown, with a couple stops on the outskirts of the CD, on the cusp of Capitol Hill. While Madison BRT is important, the CD remains cut off from light rail, street cars, or BRT.

    Connecting the CD to reliable and fast mass transit is critical. It should take the form of a Link light rail connection in the form of a “Metro 8 subway” line. I’ve seen a great deal of discussion about a Metro 8 line, but nothing from the policy-makers or organizations that carry the purse strings (SDOT, Sound Transit or King County Metro).

    Connecting the Central District and South Lake Union to light rail should be the next major priority for mass transit investment in Seattle. It should be something like this: https://www.theurbanist.org/2016/01/11/ballard-spur-and-metro-8-subway-serve-seattle-better-than-interbay-light-rail/

    This subway line, running underneath 23rd (which is having a lane eliminated as we speak) and John/Olive would bring reliable mass transit to some of Seattle’s most dense neighborhoods and to a community that is heavily reliant on public transit. It just makes so much sense.

    We should get the word out about this option and get the wheels turning.

    • Like everybody but the “disingenuous” part :) Depends on whether you consider Mad Valley CD, no? Anyhow, agree transit to and through the Central District is a huge opportunity for the city.

  2. I am a huge supporter of BRT and think that the Madison BRT looks a hell of a lot more effective and useful than that aweful Broadway streetcar. It’s hilarious how the Broadway streetcar will not have a dedicated lane for the streetcars (which cannot bypass stalled-out-cars or cars stuck in traffic turns) but these buses will be getting its own lanes, and therefore will be traveling at MUCH faster speeds than the disgrace of a streetcar.

    Anyway, that’s enough negativity. I think BRT is a wonderful idea, and Seattle should implement a lot more BRT throughout the city! Meanwhile, if Seattle dares to continue with implementing more streetcars (a pointless novelty compared to its superior bus brethren), it BETTER give it a dedicated lane.

  3. Ridiculous and overkill planning by folks who probably never travel Madison or live in the area. And only one lane of traffic for autos? Geez, all they had to do was get rid of all parking along Madison and create much needed left- turn lanes at busy intersections such as 12th and Madison. Done.

  4. I agree with Collin, with all the cars on Madison, where are they going? at rush hour it’s already crazy, and forcing them into two lanes will greatly add time to the commute.

  5. More old fashioned expensive transit plans, Seattle doing the best of mid-20th century technology. Our civic leaders and bloggers haven’t noticed, for example, that technology is available to make ride sharing a significant factor. What about inviting one of the ride sharing companies to set up something like Lift Line in SF — lots of locations where you can get a ride share for a very reasonable price (right now, matching price of streetcars in close in SF areas comparable to Capitol Hill – yes it’s temporary but it shows that ride-sharing companies are responding to pressure for low prices http://blog.lyft.com/matchmuni/). Ride sharing would move people with far fewer cars total, but cost taxpayers nothing. (Or if we really want to incentivize it, what about the city subsidizing a system like this for say, 50 cents a ride; how would that compare with cost of our streetcars or BMT?) But — it’s just ride-sharing, no big project to build, we could start it up in a few months, where’s the irrational excitement about that?

    Or let’s get really radical. What about setting up a public Lyft-like system, where people could get subsidized for sharing rides with their neighbors? Technology is available to make this work. But again, no big public works projects needed, so what’s the appeal to our public transit boosters or our city council?

  6. It seems so strange to me that this doesn’t run all the way to Madison Park. It’s another big population center with slow commuting options and a destination in it’s own right. This just seems like a real half-measure/lost opportunity. It doesn’t even really go to all of Madison Valley as is.
    Still an improvement I guess, but just dissapointing.

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