|New queue jump light on Highway 99 at 148th Street.|
There is the closure of the 4th & Union bus stop in downtown Seattle, which will impact about 1,300 passengers a day - a quarter of all our downtown commuters. The new stop is just one block north, but some riders will have to make a decision whether to use that new stop at Westlake Park or one a few blocks south at 4th & Seneca. Either way, Metro's changes should ease up evening bus congestion on 4th Avenue.
Today, the remaining commuter buses out of our Kasch Park base turned on their new technology. This project started on Route 425 in mid-summer as new GPS-based equipment, as well as automatic passenger counters and announcements, went live.
For now, the biggest customer-facing features of this technology are the automatic announcements, by voice and electronic display. Our planners are already getting great new data from the passenger counters, and drivers and dispatchers love the new computerized communication system. Of course, the big news will be when all buses are outfitted and the real-time bus information is available. We'll continue to monitor this project through its rollout until we can introduce the real-time information.
In the next week or two, the University District routes (800's) will go live, then the remaining commuter routes (412, 424) in early 2013. Finally, the local routes will be rolled out in the spring.
Today also is a big day for Swift buses. The new queue jump light at 148th is being tested and should go live by this evening. This is where the northbound transit lane on Highway 99 ends, so buses have to merge into regular traffic just after the signal. It's a busy intersection, especially at peak times, so that merger can really slow down our rapid transit line. The queue jump - which may be the first in Snohomish County (I'm trying to get confirmation) - gives the Swift buses a few seconds head start before the regular light turns green.
This tool, which was in the original plan when Swift was launched in 2009, combined with the new headway management system technology, should really help Swift keep its 12-minute frequency.