Bus vendor issues threaten Seattle's new rapid ride line

Note: Bus pictured is for current Rapid Ride Lines in Seattle. 

Credit: Wikimedia Commons 

SEATTLE — As Seattle faces continued delays and cost overruns on projects covered by the "Move Seattle" levy a new issue threatens the proposed Rapid Ride lines.

The Federal Transit Administration is withholding money the city and King County Metro were counting on to complete the projects.

The US Department of Transportation tells KIRO 7 the money is being withheld from the Madison Street BRT because the busses currently planned for the route are not built to handle the steep hills along the route.

A spokesperson for the Seattle Department of Transportation says “due to an inability to procure the originally identified vehicle based on vendor constraints, we are assessing alternatives. We’re actively working with Metro to identify fleet alternatives that meet route requirements and can be procured in time for the Madison BRT’s planned opening date.”

The Madison BRT service is currently scheduled to begin sometime in 2021. The other new Rapid Ride routes include Delridge, Mt Baker to Rainier Beach and Roosevelt.

KIRO 7 reached out to SDOT with additional questions about the new bus procurement issues and how they could delay not only the Madison BRT but all the new Rapid Ride routes, but have not yet received a response.

Seattle is not alone in awaiting funding from FTA. This week, the group "Transportation for America" posted a ticker of how long the USDOT has waited to release $1.4 Billion dollars earmarked for transit projects.

An FTA spokesperson released this statement on Wednesday:

"FTA’s understanding is that the project sponsor of the Madison Street BRT, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), is undertaking internal review of the project’s engineering and design, including potential changes to the type of vehicle to be used. SDOT may be able to comment further. In general, FTA does not proceed with the award of Capital Investment Grants (CIG) funds until the project’s cost, scope, and schedule are firm and finalized."

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