Those Maddening Bus Bulbs

A blog in the Seattle Times yesterday caught my eye, alerting me to an interesting issue that I was completely unaware of – RapidRide bus bulbs. For those also unaware of what these are, I’ve included a graphic. These bulbs are constructed, at a cost of $100,000 each, with the idea that buses won’t have to pull over and waste precious secondsbulb-graphic after picking up passengers to navigate back into traffic. The City of Seattle and King County Metro view these bulbs as a tool to “tip the time scales toward transit, at the expense of individual drivers.”

These bulbs are being built close enough to the intersection that drivers following the bus get caught in the middle of the intersection, and/or they are unable to get through the intersection on a green light. As should have been expected or predicted (with very little effort), these bulbs are provoking motorists into passing the buses using the oncoming traffic lanes – not to mention increasing the stress and time associated with navigating to or from wherever it is they’re traveling. In short, these bulbs are causing an uproar, and rightfully so. Even worse, more of these bulbs are in the works as the City moves to carry out the new master plan that promotes these in-lane bus and streetcar stops.

Many motorists think the City and Metro are wasting money – and a lot of people’s time. I agree. Although I agree with the notion (and natural shift) of more people taking transit to work or to run errands, there will always be the need (for the foreseeable future, at least) to maintain current infrastructure that allows for efficiently getting people from point A to point B. Not everyone can ride the Metro. If the City and Metro continue with this plan, they should also expect that drivers are going to continue illegally passing these buses in those oncoming traffic lanes in addition to people generally being more stressed and angry during the commute – perhaps leading to more instances of road rage. I think this situation is creating more danger for everybody.

In addition, I’m curious if anyone actually took the time to study not only the time and travel impacts to those non-bus riding drivers, or if they looked at the bigger picture of impacts to air quality through potentially increased greenhouse gas emissions – overall increasing our collective transportation carbon footprint.

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