Metro Transit to add more buses to ease crowded routes

Since cutting back routes last month, many King County Metro Transit bus riders are feeling the squeeze. To ease congestion on routes, Metro is adding buses to meet increased ridership demand between West Seattle, Burien and downtown Seattle.

Starting today, eight additional commute time buses will be added to routes 55 and 120. Two more trips will be added to each route during the morning and evening weekday commutes.

"We're seeing double-digit demand over last year on this corridor, and demand increases even in the face of tight budgets," said Kevin Desmond, Metro Transit general manager. "Scheduling these additional trips when commuters need them most continues to improve our transit network."

Crowded buses during the peak commutes from West Seattle prompted Metro to add buses to the RapidRide C Line's regular schedule starting Oct. 8. Routes 55 and 120 - also in the corridor between West Seattle and downtown Seattle - have seen full buses during most weekday commutes. Earlier this month, planners tallied a snapshot 26 percent increase in the number of passengers on routes between West Seattle and downtown Seattle compared to 2011.

Adding buses to Route 55 gives riders a parallel service to help ease commuter crowding on the C Line during the edges of the morning commute and the peak of the evening commute. The additional trips to Route 120 also will ease crowding on trips from Burien and White Center through the Delridge neighborhood to downtown Seattle.

Metro is drawing on a limited contingency reserve of transit service hours for the additional route 55 and 120 trips, a reserve also used to add the four additional daily C Line trips that started Oct. 8. The contingency was created to address any operational issues that might arise as part of the Sept. 29 transit service change, the largest in memory for Metro.

As a result of adding RapidRide C Line trips, operations have continued to improve with fewer reports of full buses passing riders at bus stops.

"We expect adding buses at these key times on routes 55 and 120 will make things better for commuters, and we will continue to monitor operations as West Seattle continues to grow," Desmond said.