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KNKX, along with NPR, will bring you all the information you will need as we close in on Election Day 2016. Stay up to date with local and national issues along with stories about how this election cycle will affect you and your family here in Washington and around the world.Also be sure to check out our series on Sound Transit's Proposition 1, also known as Sound Transit 3. You can read more about ST3 and this series here. Be sure to stay up-to-date with our national coverage too by clicking here.

Bus Rapid Transit: Part Of The Plan, But ST3 Critics Say It Could Stand Alone

Simone Alicea
A King County Metro RapidRide B Line bus approaches. The county's RapidRide buses are a kind of bus rapid transit.

When voters think of the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure, the first thing that comes to mind is usually light rail.  But the people in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties who are voting on the plan will have to consider other modes of transit, too.

ST3 would add something called bus rapid transit to Sound Transit's transportation options. 

What is bus rapid transit?

Bus rapid transit is not the same as express buses. These buses have certain features like elevated platforms and ways for passengers to pay before they board.  Most importantly, they typically have their own lanes so they can maintain regular speeds, come more frequently and make stops that are farther apart like a train might.

Under ST3, bus rapid transit would run in corridors that see a lot of congestion during peak travel times: along I-405 between Tukwila and Lynwood,  SR 518 between Tukwila and Burien, and  SR 522 between Bothell and Shoreline. These routes  are among ST3's earlier projects, to be completed between 2019 and 2025.

Bus rapid transit and other bus projects included in ST3 are one way to get service to certain areas in general. But Sound Transit's other goal is to integrate the buses with the light rail system.

One alternative to light rail

Critics have said that bus rapid transit shouldn't play second fiddle to light rail. They say the region needs to look at flexible transit choices now, rather than decades later.

Many argue that a broad bus rapid transit system with regional reach would be cheaper and faster to build because it works on existing infrastructure. The routes don't have to be built from the ground up.

ST3 supporters argue that bus rapid transit doesn't have the capacity that light rail has, and that building out a bus system doesn't help get people off roads.

A Seattle native and former KNKX intern, Simone Alicea spent four years as a producer and reporter at KNKX. She earned her Bachelor's of Journalism from Northwestern University and covered breaking news for the Chicago Sun-Times. During her undergraduate career, she spent time in Cape Town, South Africa, covering metro news for the Cape Times.