Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Swift II... and Beyond!

When Community Transit first launched a bus rapid transit line on Highway 99, we had a vision for a network of such routes. The Long Range Transit Plan, approved in 2010 and being updated next year, outlined a series of high-traffic corridors that could eventually have Swift service.

With the great success of Swift, plans are underway for a second Swift line, tentatively called Swift II. Other lines will be considered as individual projects because we simply don’t have the resources to tackle them all at once. In some cases, like Highway 9, the corridors themselves are not ready for such high-volume transit service.

A corridor study was conducted over the past year to sketch out a Swift line that would run between the Boeing-Everett plant and Canyon Park. The study determined this line could start out carrying 3,300 riders a day and complete the 12.5-mile trip in about 40 minutes.

This route was selected in part because:
  • Some of the infrastructure already exists (transit lanes and transit signal priority on 128th/Airport Road).
  • The Mill Creek portion of the route has robust transit ridership.
  • This line would intersect with the existing Swift line at Highway 99 & Airport Road, establishing a network.
Community Transit cannot build this project with existing revenue. Federal grants are needed to buy buses and build the stations. Here are several things the agency must do before Swift II can become a reality:

Preliminary Swift II route
Preliminary Swift II route
  • Complete federal requirements for Small Starts capital funding (stations and buses), including an environmental impact analysis.
  • Develop plans for a northern terminal near Boeing (dubbed the "Seaway Transit Center").
  • Work with the state to develop traffic efficiency improvements across I-5 at 128th Street (already a major congestion point).
  • Continue to work with partner cities on infrastructure improvements along route, including transit signal priority.
  • Get new funding to pay for Swift II operation (possible new taxes).
Should all of these items fall into place, it is possible that a Swift II line could be operational as early as 2018.

Looking ahead, Community Transit would like to begin planning studies on future Swift lines as this project is underway. Ideally, that could lead to a Swift line opening every few years until the network is built out.

That scenario would rely on the agency getting a successful federal grant for Swift II (giving us the track record and experience in winning these grants), and securing a long-term increase in transit operation funding. Such funding would not be just to build more Swift lines, but to improve transit service throughout the county.


  1. What is the possibility of extending Swift II to Bothell Park & Ride or UW Bothell? Seems like a significant transfer opportunity exists at BPR with the 522 and other regional services. UWB is a regional hub as well. Either would help Swift II further connect to our regional transit network.

  2. I agree with the comment above. Bothell is growing at a healthy rate. Swift II should extend further into Bothell and terminate at UW-Cascadia. CT has an opportunity to connect the Bothell/Mill Creek area with the rest of SE Snohomish & NE King Counties.

  3. I agree, it makes sense to extend the line to UW Bothell as it reaches a college population. Many students commute from Everett to UW Bothell on 405 and this bus line could help reduce the traffic.

  4. I also agree - the line should serve UW-Bothell/Cascadia. The ridership that the campus delivers for route 105, especially mid-day, is very impressive.

    WSDOT's planned southbound I-405 shoulder lane for buses between Canyon Park and NE 195th would be perfect for Swift II. It would be really great for trip speed if southbound Swift II could serve Canyon Park Bay 3 instead of Bay 1 or 2. The left turn from SR-527 as the lanes are configured now would be a little over 90 degrees but still seems feasible.

    Is CT considering eliminating route 105 when Swift II starts? I think this would be reasonable if the new Swift line served about 20 stops in each direction, which might make Swift II a little slower but makes more sense than having Swift service with not quite enough stops plus shadow service with too many stops.

  5. I like the idea of sending it down I-405 between Canyon Park and UW Bothell. While both places have Sound Transit routes, at Canyon Park, there only appears to be a single, limited stop Metro route at a single time, northbound in the morning and southbound in the return, whereas at UW Bothell, there are a handful of Metro routes, including connections to/from Woodinville, downtown Kirkland, downtown Bothell+Kenmore+Lake Forest Park+points south, and Redmond. This means that extending to UWB means that commuters from any of the cities just mentioned could connect to Swift II's destinations and visa-versa, such as from Mill Creek to Woodinville. Time-wise, extending to UWB would mean that the time to navigate over to Canyon Park and back (from the Bothell/Everett highway) would be replaced by a shorter jaunt to UWB plus the time to travel on I-405. Hopefully, this extension can be made to happen.