Photo by Jerry Gay
A lot of changes will be happening to bus routes and schedules in the Ballard area and beyond. Some good, some maybe not so good.

Bus schedule changes are coming Ballard's way

Coming September 29, the Ballard area will be seeing a lot of changes to their bus schedule, and Ballardites may take some time getting used to it. At a Ballard District Council meeting, District Coordinator Rob Mattson said that the Northwest region may be seeing some of the most dramatic changes in all of Seattle.

So buckle up, faithful transit riders, and let the Ballard News-Tribune guide you through some of the changes.

For more details, including maps of routes and bus stops, readers can visit the King County Metro website at metro.kingcounty.gov/up/scvchange.html. Public comment has already officially ended.

RapidRide

The big question that has been on many Ballardites’ minds this summer is, “What the heck is RapidRide, and how will it serve me?” Many the BNT has talked to in casual conversation have scoffed at the idea that the service would provide “rapid” service at all, and the new bus shelters have become the butt of many jokes around town.

Externally, the RapidRide buses are sleek, swanky looking new buses with a distinctive red and yellow design. Internally, they’re energy efficient, low-emission hybrid vehicles with low floors and three doors for easier, faster boarding, according to the King County Metro website. Also, they have free Wi-Fi.

The RapidRide D Line will be replacing portions of Route 15 between Crown Hill and downtown, via Ballard, Interbay, Uptown, Seattle Center and Belltown, according to the Metro website. They are scheduled to come every 10-15 minutes. West Seattle will be getting the only other new RapidRide line.

At the Ballard District Council, community members expressed concern over the way bus stops are setup. Instead of having its own dedicated lane that the bus can swerve in and out of, the RapidRide bus will instead take up a whole lane of the road, possibly clogging up traffic behind it. The stops were designed this way so RapidRide buses would not have to awkwardly be stuck at a bus stop and so they could meet their 10-15 minute goal. Council chair Catherine Weatbrook brought up the point that many buses currently do not even go all the way into the dedicated lane and that it would be interesting to see if there would be any noticeable effect, considering.

Despite concerns, mockery and disgruntled comments, RapidRide may have its supporters. The BNT’s sister newspaper, the West Seattle Herald, recently conducted an unscientific poll asking readers if they were looking forward to the new service. 47 percent said they were, 37 percent said they were not and 16 percent were neutral on the topic.

Ride Free Zone Discontinued

For those going on downtown excursions, don’t expect a free ride. Really. After 40 years, the Ride Free Zone will no longer exist in Seattle. The decision has come to much controversy, particularly among social services, as the ride free service has been a boon for many homeless or poor individuals who could not otherwise pay for bus fare or other means of travel.

For the typical rider, perhaps the most significant change will be the boarding procedure. Now riders won’t have to be confused whether they pay when they get on or when they leave, as now everyone in King County will be paying as they board. Riders will then be encouraged to get off through the back door, helping to expedite the process.

Metro is also encouraging riders to use an Orca card, to avoid long boarding waits in downtown, particularly during commuting hours.

Discontinued Routes

15: Alternate service will be provided on Route 15X and RapidRide D Line.
17: Significantly, the 17 is what has connected Seattle Pacific University to Ballard. That connection will remain, but under the new route 29. Additional alternate service for the 17 will be provided on 17X, 18X, 31/32, 40, 61 and 62.

18: Alternate service will be provided on routes 40 and RapidRide D Line.
29: A new route which will stretch along Central Ballard, Seattle Pacific University, Queen Anne and Downtown. Replaces 2X.
46: Residents along Shilshole Bay, beware. The 46, which is the only bus route that goes along Seaview Ave down past Ray’s, along Shilshole Bay Marina and to Golden Gardens, will no longer be in service. No alternate route will be serving this section, but other sections will be served by 31, 32 and 44.
62: This new route is for the travelers. It will connect Ballard, Seattle Pacific University and South Lake Union to King Street Station. It will coordinate trips with Sounder morning arrivals and afternoon departures.
75: The 75 will be re-routed to operate between Northgate Transit Center and Ballard
81: Alternate service will be provided on RapidRide D Line.

Route Changes

5: The Greenwood-Northgate segment will be discontinued, instead provided by Greenwood. All trips will now travel to Shoreline Community College.
28: Routing to no longer operate north of NW 103 St. Express service will continue to operate that area.
40: This new route will finally connect Ballard with Fremont, which has long been an awkward place to get to via public transit. It will replace parts of 17, 18, 46 and 75.
44: No changes.
48: No changes.
61: A new route which will replace route 17 service on 32nd Ave NW and Route 18 service in North Beach.

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