Bellevue residents can now make a “beeline” to Redmond, starting this weekend.
King County Metro will roll out it’s latest fleet of fast, high-tech buses on the RapidRide B Line, a Bellevue-Redmond connection, featuring free rides Saturday and Sunday.
Elected officials representing the Eastside converged at Crossroads on Wednesday morning to celebrate the new route, funded by local and federal money.
“RapidRide means less time waiting and more time moving,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said during his remarks at the “ribbon-tying” event at Crossroads, where approximately 70 people celebrated the launch of the new route.
The B Line route will travel between the Bellevue and Redmond downtown transit centers, with limited stops along Northeast Eighth Street, 156th Avenue Northeast, 148th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 90th Street.
With buses arriving every 10-15 minutes, the route makes connections to Crossroads, the eastern portion of Overlake, the Microsoft campus and north Redmond.
The B Line, which features 19 stops, is expected to operate about 20 percent faster than the routes now in those corridors. This is achieved by eliminating some bus stops, quicker fare collection with off-board Orca card payment stations at major stations and transit signal priority that either extends or provides green lights for arriving B Line buses, according to Paul Roybal, the B Line implementation lead.
“It’s got the perfect name — B Line,” said Bellevue Mayor Don Davidson, referring to the speedy, state-of-the-art route.
Davidson said the B Line will connect two of the biggest job cores in the region — downtown Bellevue and the Microsoft campus in Redmond.
RapidRide is a different type of Metro service that includes newly designed buses, shelters and signs, which offer real-time bus arrivals and schedule changes. The distinctive red and yellow buses feature free WiFi service for the route. The roomy buses are energy efficient, low-emission hybrid vehicles with low floors and three doors for faster and easier on-and-off service.
County Council member Kathy Lambert, a Redmond resident who represent parts of Bellevue, also pointed out Metro’s new partnership with Safe Place, a non-profit organization aimed at building community safety nets for young people in crisis, during her remarks.
There is a sign on all Metro buses, including buses on the B Line, that say “Safe Place,” indicating to youth they can approach a Metro driver and simply say “I need a safe place.” The driver will then call a youth service provider, who will meet up with the driver and youth, and get the youth to a place of safety through a local social service agency. The B Line’s go-to social service agency is Friends of Youth.
“Not only will you be safe, but children who are having troubles will be safe on these buses,” Lambert said.
To learn more about the Safe Place program, visit www.nationalsafeplace.org.
The new bus line is the focal point of a host of service changes on the Eastside:
• Three new routes: 226 travels through eastern Bellevue between the Eastgate Park-and-Ride and Bellevue Transit Center; 235 connects Bellevue Transit Center and Kingsgate Park-and-Ride; and 241 serves south and west Bellevue with service from the Eastgate Park-and-Ride to Bellevue Transit Center.
• Revised routes for 211, 221, 234, 238, 240, 245, 246, 249, 250, 265 and 930 Dart.
• Additional trips for 211, 212, 255 and 271 and Sound Transit Express 522 and 545; and
• Elimination of routes 222, 225, 229, 230, 233, 247, 253, 256, 261, 266, 272, DART 926 to avoid duplication of service.
“We had to reconfigure so many services,” said King Councilmember Jane Hague, who represents parts of Bellevue. “But we kept our priorities straight and that is making sure you got transit for your needs. … I’m really excited about this new RapidRide — the second to be launched in King County — because it connects jobs and the economy and connects our Eastside.”
The B Line is funded by Transit Now, a 2006 measure and $20.2 million in federal money.
“RapidRide buses conveniently connect many people in our communities to the places where they work, shop and socialize,” said U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, who represents the Eighth District, which includes Bellevue. “I was impressed to learn that this advanced transit system syncs to a single network, and I hope this technology will improve reliability and efficiency. I anticipate the B Line will meet the Eastside’s growing ridership and passenger needs over the next several years.”
To view Metro’s new routes and schedules, go to www.kingcounty.gov/metro. Be sure to input a date of Oct. 1 or later when using the Trip Planner.
Bill Christianson is editor of the Redmond Reporter. He can be reached at 425-867-0353, ext. 5050 or firstname.lastname@example.org
From left: Bellevue City Councilmember John Chelminiak; U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert; PSRC Transportation Policy Board Chair Claudia Balducci; Bellevue Mayor Don Davidson, King County Councilmember Jane Hague, King County Executive Dow Constantine, King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert, Redmond City Councilmember John Stilin, and Metro Transit General Manager Kevin Desmond.