King County Executive Dow Constantine joined city, county, and community leaders at a ribbon cutting celebration in White Center on Friday, Mar. 17, 2023 to celebrate the launch of the RapidRide H Line, Metro’s seventh RapidRide line.
Transit improvements spanning 12 miles from downtown Seattle to Burien will upgrade the speed, reliability, and customer experience for 6,000 daily riders of the current Route 120.
Recent construction work has changed how regular drivers used to the old Ambaum Blvd. SW handle the expanded bus lane.
Investments in new transit stations, bus lanes, and traffic signal upgrades are ready for riders along the RapidRide H Line corridor, totaling $154.1 million between Metro, Seattle, and Burien.
Improvements span the entire corridor between downtown Seattle, Delridge and West Seattle, White Center, and Burien.
“Burien takes pride in our vibrant and creative community,” said Sofia Aragon, Burien Mayor. “We are a place that embraces diversity, celebrates arts and culture, promotes vitality, and treasures the environment. This project has helped serve as a catalyst for us to advance this vision of Burien. Not only is the new H Line bringing faster and more reliable bus transit options to the families and workers in our community, but it also brought many critical road and pedestrian safety improvements along Ambaum Blvd. These investments are part of our city’s longer-term strategy to build a community that is more safe and walkable, and take action on climate change. Burien is proud to be a partner on this project; we believe this new bus service will help make a difference in the daily lives of Burien residents and create a more vibrant future for our community.”
Route 120 carried 1.7 million riders in 2022 and is the sixth busiest route in King County. Buses on this route serve many communities that are more diverse and have lower incomes than the county average. Ridership demand has stayed strong in recent years, validating the current high-frequency service customers have come to rely on. Buses currently operate every 7-8 minutes during weekday rush hour and every 10-15 minutes during midday.
Starting Mar. 18, 2023, Metro is adding more weekday and weekend trips.
“We are delivering what riders across the region need: frequent service and connections to support commuting and everyday travel,” Constantine said. “RapidRide H Line transforms one of our most popular routes into a new resource connecting communities across one of the most dynamic parts of King County. It’s an exciting step forward for neighbors, businesses, families, and the next generation of transit users.”
Upgrading to RapidRide will serve those customers better and retain and attract even more riders.
“The RapidRide H Line connecting Unincorporated White Center to Seattle and Burien is really exciting because it gives this community a reliable and faster option to get to where they are going,” said Carmen Smith, White Center Food Bank Executive Director. “What I’m looking forward to the most is that our new facility is right around the corner from the 102nd & 15th stop. This will give families quick access to the bus line without having to carry their groceries far and the opportunity to rely on a bus route that is consistent.”
“This is an exciting moment for Metro riders in this community, whose buses will come more often, be more reliable, and have more service on night and on weekends,” said King County Councilmember Joe McDermott who represents the H Line (Burien, White Center, and West Seattle) on the King County Council. “I applaud the cooperation between Burien, King County, and the City of Seattle as we elevate service for thousands of riders each day.”
Seattle projects support travelers and transit riders
The City of Seattle completed work on Delridge Way SW this past fall, investing over $90 million in local infrastructure thanks in large part to funding from the voter-approved Levy to Move Seattle. This work supported reliable bus service by repaving the road, adding bus lanes, building 20 new bus stops, and upgrading traffic signals which move buses to the front of the line at red lights. SDOT also built a variety of safety and community improvements including new crosswalks and sidewalks, bike lanes, and planting over 150 trees. In addition to roadwork, the City also upgraded the neighborhood sewer, water, and electrical systems.
“Expanding access to fast, reliable transit that gets people where they need to go is one of our administration’s highest priorities,” said Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell. “In so many ways, this project will open up new opportunities for Delridge neighbors and communities across the region. We have Seattle voters to thank for passing the Levy to Move Seattle, and our partners at King County Metro and City of Burien for their shared commitment to a robust, accessible, and sustainable transportation system.”
“Bus ridership has always been strong along the H Line corridor, as many residents are transit dependent for access to jobs and services,” said Seattle Councilmember Lisa Herbold. “RapidRide will bring more frequent and reliable service to the Delridge neighborhoods.”
Burien pedestrian improvements increase safety
Construction of several pedestrian safety improvements is underway, including wider sidewalks with landscaped separation from traffic along portions of Ambaum Blvd. SW, a new sidewalk on SW 136th Street from 8th Ave SW to Ambaum Blvd. SW, two new signalized crossings on SW 150th Street, and installation of a signalized crossing on 16th Ave SW near Sw 114th Street. The types of signalized crossings being installed include a Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB) and High-intensity Activated crossWalK (HAWK) beacon.
Artists design custom ORCA cards, future sculpture installation in Burien
4Culture and King County Metro have commissioned two public art projects in celebration of the RapidRide H Line launch: limited-edition ORCA cards and a signature sculpture installation.
In June 2020, artists Elisheba Johnson and Kristen Ramirez (working as Johnson|Ramirez) submitted a groundbreaking art plan for the RapidRide expansion program. Ramirez passed away after the conceptual development was finalized and Johnson refined and formalized details. The artwork is being fabricated and will be installed later this year. The Sky Remembers You, three mirrored sky viewers etched with lines of poetry, will be positioned at the northwest corner of the Burien Transit Center on 4th Ave SW.
Also inspired by the plan are limited-edition ORCA cards created by three young artists. Each design is distinct and features imagery tied to the contexts, histories, cultures, and communities of the RapidRide H Line, as well as the forthcoming RapidRide G and I lines. The cohort, Jovita Mercado (RapidRide H Line), Yasiman Ahsani (RapidRide G Line), and Rey Daoed (RapidRide I Line), was supported by mentor artists Angelina Villalobos and Jesse Brown.
The Metro Matters blog has more information about the RapidRide and 4Culture art program.
RapidRide project proven sustainable and equitable
Metro is pursuing Platinum level certification under Envision, a third-party certification standard for capital infrastructure. This will be the first Metro project to achieve Envision certification and to demonstrate achievement of sustainable and equitable practices in a RapidRide line.
By the Numbers: Route 120 and RapidRide H Line:
- Ridership: 6,000 each weekday; 1.7 million in 2022
- Corridor length: 12 miles
- Total stations and stops: 51
- Intersections with transit signal priority: increasing to 19
- Bus lanes: 15 miles total, including five new miles, plus 3/6 miles of Business Access and Transit (BAT) lanes
- 1.4 miles of new sidewalks
- 40 crosswalks (at intersections and mid-block)
- 8 mid-block crossings with push-button flashing signals
- 60 new ADA accessible curb ramps
- Project budget: $154.1 million in Metro, Seattle and Burien investments
- Service frequency on Route 120:
- Peak direction during rush hour: Every seven minutes currently
- Midday and evening (until 11 p.m.): Every 10-15 minutes
- Late nights: Every 30-60 minutes
- Weekends: Every 15 minutes; late night every 20-30 minutes
- Service frequency on RapidRide H Line
- Peak direction during rush hour: Every seven minutes
- Midday: Every 10 minutes
- Evenings (until 11 p.m.): Every 15 minutes
- Late nights: Every 30-60 minutes
- Weekends: Every 15 minutes 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.; nights every 20-30 minutes
RapidRide is Metro’s highest level of service
RapidRide is Metro’s premier bus service, offering riders real-time information signs, convenient off-board and all-door ORCA payment and 10-minute service operating most of the day. Metro launched the A Line in 2010 and operates six lines throughout King County. Additional expansions are planned in the coming years, including the G, J and R lines in Seattle, the I Line in Renton, Kent and Auburn, and the K Line in Kirkland and Bellevue. Long-range plans map out additional lines in the alphabet of routes in key areas across King County.
About King County Metro
King County Metro is the Puget Sound region’s largest public transportation agency. Metro provides bus, paratransit, vanpool, and water taxi services, and operates Seattle Streetcar, Sound Transit Link light rail, and Sound Transit Express bus service. Metro is committed to providing safe, equitable, and sustainable mobility, and prioritizing service where needs are greatest.