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!


  1. Happy Birthday, dear Swift. Are you four?
    You have riders and fans now, galore.
    I just want to say.
    You still make my day.
    You're the bus that I'll always adore.

  2. The jump queue at 148th has rarely worked, i ride daily and the drivers say it worked for a week or so and that is it. Regarding Swift ll, won't it get severely slowed down on 128th near I5? What plans do you have to address the situation? if i ride the 115 it takes 10-15 minutes just to leave mariner and get to McCullum. I'm glad the airport rd. will happen, now if Everett would just make BAT lanes, that would be great!

    1. Yes, the queue jump signal at 148th has had a number of technical issues. We are hoping that gets resolved soon. When it is working, the signal has been helpful to keep Swift buses moving.

      As for Swift II at I-5, that is the biggest infrastructure issue on this project. The feasibility study is looking into solutions for crossing I-5 and will present a recommendation.

  3. A stop at 204th St SW sounds like a very good idea. The current trek from 196th St SW can be cumbersome.

  4. Does this mean there will be more Swift stops going southbound than northbound if/when the 204th Street station is built or will the 196th Street stop be removed (since the new westside 204th Street stop can be the southbound equivalent to the northbound 200th Street stop on the eastside)? Yet another additional stop on the Bus RAPID Transit line (Potentially so close to 196th too)...*Sigh* :/

    1. This does mean there will be one more southbound stop than northbound. The 204th Street stop was part of the original Swift alignment. The idea was that all three stops (196th, 200th and 204th) would serve Edmonds Community College, while the 196th Street stop would also serve the growing retail area at that intersection.

      Given that boarding/deboarding time at each station is about 10 seconds, this one stop will not add significant time to the southbound trip. This is the last planned stop for this Swift line.

  5. Given that this is walking down the hill by EdCC, the SB traffic would be deboardings more than boardings. 200th is harder to walk down than the potential grade of the [newly regraded] 204th, along 196th as 9 blocks away, 204th would be less than five blocks away, down less of a grade. 204th is about 4 or 5 blocks away, 196th is 8 blocks away, and 200th is 6 blocks away. It would be nice if the 200th stop were split into two with 200th removed, one on the SE corner of 196th and another one across the street at 204th. What was the abandoned CT bench on 202nd used for? I like Swift II, but the only issue it seems is not traffic, but ridership, given that the stretch between 99 and Boeing would be more express bus than BRT, since there really is a lack of development there. Why does the TMP call for a route down 527 from UW Bothell to Boeing, with another down Airport to Cathcart on 132nd? "SR 527 – Downtown Bothell to Paine Field," as said. Still, great work on Swift, it works great, I can't say nearly that much about Metro's RapidRide in comparison.

  6. that's 1.61 rider per that really something to be proud of

  7. last Friday I was trying to take swift from Everett one point there were 5 swift buses at Everett station and I counted 7 drivers all just standing around, I asked one of the drivers what was going on and I was told that the dispatcher was holding the buses to get them back on time . now im not a dispatcher or a driver but it seems to me that holding buses to get them back on time is kinda walking up a down escalator ......I waited out in the cold for more than 35 minutes to get were I was going.....not so swift community transit