Crews work on a new Swift Green Line station on Airport Road at Gibson Road in this photo from July. (Community Transit)

Crews work on a new Swift Green Line station on Airport Road at Gibson Road in this photo from July. (Community Transit)

Need for speed drives design of new Swift bus stops

The Swift Green line is to open next spring. It will connect Boeing with the Canyon Park area.

Street Smarts reader John Mohr, of Mukilteo, supports local transit but is curious about new bus stops under construction on Airport Way and 128th Street.

Why are these new stops being constructed in the general travel lane? And so close to existing bus stops that have pullouts?

Mohr is seeing signs of the newest Community Transit bus rapid transit route.

The Swift Green line is slated to start service in spring 2019. It will connect Boeing in Everett with the Canyon Park area in Bothell, with stops along Airport Way, 128th Street and Highway 527.

The route also will meet up with existing Swift service, the Blue line, which has run along Highway 99 since 2009.

Bus rapid transit differs from traditional bus routes, and the more than 30 new stops under construction reflect those features.

Swift service is “more like light rail on wheels,” said Martin Munguia, a spokesman.

“Swift buses have fewer stops and riders pay before they board the bus. This means there is no line at the front door as people board and pay their fare. A Swift bus pulls into a station, opens all three doors, and riders get on and off the bus in an average of 10 seconds. Then the bus is on its way,” he said.

Several features inside and outside the bus help serve the need for speed.

Community Transit’s Swift Green line will add bus rapid transit service from Boeing Everett to Canyon Park in Bothell starting in spring 2019. (Community Transit)

Community Transit’s Swift Green line will add bus rapid transit service from Boeing Everett to Canyon Park in Bothell starting in spring 2019. (Community Transit)

Inside the bus, there are bike racks and simpler wheelchair restraint systems. On the road, some bus-only lanes and bus-only traffic signals (which give buses a jump on green lights) help keep wheels spinning.

And when it is time to load and unload, the bus simply stops in the right travel lane.

“Buses that stop in pullouts often have to wait for traffic to let them back into the lane. That would defeat the purpose of bus rapid transit,” Munguia said.

In the bigger picture, the Green line is intended to get more cars off the road by providing faster bus service to key employment centers. For example, Community Transit studies show 12,500 Boeing workers live within a half-mile of a Swift Blue or Green line stop — easy walking distance.

The service also will eventually provide connections to Sound Transit’s light rail plans for Snohomish County.

More buses — and colors — are on the way.

The Blue line this month increased service to every 10 minutes, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. That’s what the agency started with, until the recession pared service to 12-minute intervals. The change adds 28 trips per day.

Meanwhile, planning continues for the Swift Orange line to run between Mill Creek and Edmonds, along the 196th Street and 164th Street corridors. Orange line service is anticipated in 2023. Next up would be a Red line, from Everett to Smokey Point.

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