Metro bus rapid transit coach by Brett Curtiss via Flickr under a Creative Commons license CC BY-SA 2.0.

Madison Bus Rapid Transit Project Secures Funding, Metro to Modify Passenger Limits

by Jake Goldstein-Street and Emerald Staff

(An earlier version of this article appeared on Capitol Hill Seattle Blog. This revised version is being printed under an agreement.)

On Monday, April 5, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced $187 million in federal funding for four bus rapid transit projects — San Bernardino, California, Ogden, Utah, Everett, Washington, and right here on East Madison in Seattle. 

From the announcement:

“The City of Seattle Department of Transportation will receive a $59.9 million allocation for the Madison Street BRT project, a 2.3-mile east-west BRT line operating diesel-electric buses along Madison Street spanning from downtown Seattle in the west to the Madison Valley neighborhood in the east, with connections in First Hill, Capitol Hill, and the Central Area. It will connect people to hospitals, schools, businesses, and other destinations as well as to dozens of bus routes, the First Hill Streetcar, and ferry service at the Colman Dock Ferry Terminal.”

The federal money helps put the $134 million Madison bus rapid transit project on path for its planned 2024 launch of the Metro RapidRide G line, a 2.3-mile, 10-station route connecting the waterfront through First Hill and Capitol Hill to Madison Valley.

The final designs for the BRT route’s major overhaul to the Madison corridor’s streetscape were finalized last year. You can check out a block-by-block look at the changes below.

Map of the Madison bus rapid transit line projected to start service in 2024. (Image courtesy City of Seattle.)

Construction is now slated to begin by late summer.

“Millions of Americans rely on public transit to get to work, services, and family — and communities need support to create more public transit options,” Buttigieg said in the announcement. “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to modernizing and expanding our public transit systems, and that includes support for these great projects.”

In other transit news, Metro announced on Monday, April 5 that it will start to ease COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on the number of passengers on its buses over the next six months. On April 19, Metro will increase passenger limits to 40% of pre-COVID capacity (50% of seated capacity), meaning limits will increase from 12 to 20 passengers on 40-foot buses and from 18 to 30 passengers on 60-foot buses. In a statement released on Monday, Metro said it also hopes to increase capacity limits to 70% of pre-COVID levels some time in early July or sooner if King County enters Phase 4 of Gov. Inslee’s Healthy Washington Roadmap to Recovery plan.

Jake Goldstein-Street is a Seattle journalist and news editor at The Daily, with bylines at The Seattle Times, Crosscut, Seattle Globalist, International Examiner, Geekwire, and Capitol Hill Seattle Blog. Follow him on Twitter.

Featured image: Metro bus rapid transit coach by Brett Curtiss via Flickr under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-SA 2.0). 

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