Nov. 17, 2011
Executive and Council praise Congressional approval of $37.5 million for future Metro RapidRide serving both North and South King County
New E Line will link Shoreline and Seattle; F Line will connect Burien and Renton
King County Executive Dow Constantine and members of the Metropolitan King County Council today expressed their appreciation to Congress for appropriating $37.5 million for two more Metro Transit RapidRide lines. The measure passed in both the House and Senate today and now goes to President Obama for his signature.
"Federal funding for these RapidRide lines will provide jobs during construction, improve access to employment and commercial centers in North and South King County, and stimulate development in the future," said Executive Constantine, who thanked the state's Congressional delegation for its support.
RapidRide is a different type of Metro service that includes newly designed buses, shelters and signs. The distinctive red-and-yellow buses are energy efficient, low-emission hybrid vehicles with low floors and three doors for easier, faster boarding.
Line E will travel along Aurora Avenue between Shoreline and downtown Seattle. Line F is planned to connect Burien, Tukwila, and Renton. Both are scheduled to start two years from now.
"This federal investment is great news and will help us continue improving our transit system, giving bus riders streamlined and more convenient service," said Councilmember Bob Ferguson, whose district includes Shoreline. "As a regular bus commuter, I understand the importance of transit service and I look forward to the improvements RapidRide will bring to the entire Aurora corridor from Shoreline to Seattle."
"I was pleased to help make the case to our federal partners that funding Metro's RapidRide E and F Lines will create jobs, spur economic development, and increase options for people to get to work and participate in their communities," said Councilmember Larry Phillips, Chair of the Council's Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee. "Bringing the E Line to the Aurora corridor will be a great investment and benefit to the region, as it's a proven, highly attractive transit market and provides substantial opportunities for transit oriented development."
"Historically, south King County has had inadequate east-west transit connections," said Councilmember Julia Patterson, who represents Tukwila and Renton. "With these funds, Metro can provide the east-west bus service so desperately needed, with RapidRide F expected to serve 4,800 riders a day."
"As areas outside of Seattle continue to grow, we must provide transit connections for our suburban cities to keep our entire region moving," said Councilmember Joe McDermott, who represents Burien. "This funding is an important piece of that work."
Metro debuted the first of six RapidRide routes in 2010, when Line A began serving a key corridor linking Federal Way with Tukwila. This fall, Line B started between Bellevue and Redmond. Next year, the C and D lines will link West Seattle and Ballard to downtown Seattle.
Studies show the A Line has increased bus ridership by 30-40 percent in that corridor. On the Eastside, B Line ridership is projected to increase to nearly 2.2 million passenger trips a year by 2016 when compared with the regular bus service it replaced.
The $37.5 million will be awarded as part of a federal Bus and Bus Facilities grant program, and represents full funding of Metro's request. The county will share some of the funding with partner cities to help construct the street improvements and transit elements inside their jurisdictions that make RapidRide successful. Funding partners for the E and F lines include Shoreline, Seattle, and Tukwila.
A national study released earlier this year by the Urban Land Institute indicated the E Line has strong potential to spur both redevelopment and development along the corridor it will serve in North King County.
"RapidRide will give commuters an option that they do not currently have, especially those who will be able to take advantage of the Burien to Renton line," said Council Chair Larry Gossett. "These are routes that will go through major employment centers, which means that more people will be able to get out of their cars and onto a bus."