Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Improvements Ahead as Swift Turns 4
It was four years ago this Saturday, Nov. 30, that Swift bus rapid transit was launched. People still talk about the flash mob that invaded the grand opening party. And the sub-freezing temperatures that first week of service, when staff were out at each station teaching people how to use the off-board ticket vending machines and ORCA readers.
Today, Swift is a mature BRT line talked about across the country. Because it does not have its own dedicated lane, some say it is not “true” BRT. But Swift uses right-turn BAT lanes for 7 miles, transit signal priority its entire length and off-board fare collection at all stations to save a third of the trip time of a regular local bus. And, with 4,400 riders a weekday and nearly 3,000 riders on Saturdays, people obviously love to take Swift!
After its 2009 launch, several improvements have been made to Swift. In 2011, four new stations opened in Everett; a pair at 112th and one each at Pecks and Madison. In 2012, a queue jump signal was added at northbound 148th as the BAT lane ended. This early light gives the Swift bus a three-second jump on other traffic so the bus can merge into the general purpose lanes.
There are two new improvements coming in 2014.
A WSDOT project in early 2014 to shave the “pork chop” islands at Airport Road will allow Swift buses to use right-hand turn lanes, rather than general purpose lanes, as they cross the busy intersection and glide into the next station. This will save time and make for a smoother ride into the station.
Later in the year, Community Transit will build a southbound station at 204th near Edmonds Community College. That station was in the original route design, but was delayed because 204th was a dead-end street. The city of Lynnwood plans to extend that road between Highway 99 and the college, so it is finally time to build that station.
The big news that will emerge in 2014 will be details for what is being tentatively called Swift II. A feasibility study is underway for a second Swift line that would travel from Boeing-Everett in the north end, down Airport Road along 128th crossing Highway 99 and I-5, then south at Highway 527 (Bothell-Everett Highway). The route would serve Mill Creek Town Center and terminate at either 164th or Canyon Park.
Before people get all righteous about why this next Swift route is where it is, visit our 20-year Long Range Transit Plan to see that we do envision a network of Swift routes. Unless we fall into a great deal of new funding, we’ll take them one at a time, seeking federal and state funding for each one. The good news that we are moving forward with plans for more Swift!