The Roundabout Bus

Several days ago, King County Metro launched their newest “BRT” (Bus Rapid Transit) line, RapidRide B, which runs between Bellevue and Redmond. (I use the term BRT cautiously, as there is a huge debate whether the RapidRide lines deserve to even be called that.) On my Twitter feed, I saw a post from @oranv about how the route travels through a roundabout, making it the only frequent-service route in King County to do so.

I found it a bit weird to see that this factoid would deserve such special recognition, mainly because roundabouts are so commonplace over here in my locale, Kennewick. As of now, the city of Kennewick has built 15 roundabouts throughout the city, and at least 6 intersections are slated to be rebuilt with a roundabout in the future. Though I’m about 99% sure the data is out of date, this info from WSDOT would imply that no other city in Washington State even comes close to this many roundabouts. The other cities of the Tri-Cities have also installed roundabouts. Pasco only has 1 on Road 44 (unless there’s others in the areas of Pasco I don’t frequent, though I doubt it), an area ripe with newer development, and doesn’t appear to have plans for more at this time. Richland has a couple, though I’m not sure sure of the exact number. They also have several traffic circles in the newer development in the south part of the city, though I think they’re better named “diet roundabouts.”

In Kennewick there’s a bus route, Route 47, that fully utilizes a good chunk of the city’s roundabouts. Along it’s route, it crosses through not one, not two, but five different roundabouts.

According to the feedback I got on Twitter, this is highly unusual. I never think anything of it anymore, but that’s probably because I’m so used to it by now. So, I decided to take it upon myself to shoot a video of the bus travelling along it’s route, so that those interested could see how it all works. Ideally, I would have liked to shoot the video through the front window, but the driver had concerns about it and wasn’t sure if BFT even has a photo/video policy to begin with. Since I don’t really want to put myself on BFT’s bad side (kinda doubt it would happen, but either way), I sat in the back left corner of the bus and shot the video from there. Keep in mind, this is a looong video, and it’s mostly boring. If you’re looking for the “action” scenes, the bus hits 4 of the 5 roundabouts within the first 9 minutes, so there’s a positive. Below, I’ll add a list of the roundabouts and the time points in the video for each pass-through. If you click the original YouTube link, I’ll have a more descriptive list with some interesting and not-so interesting quibbles about stuff seen along the route.

3:10 – Kennewick Avenue and Union Street
4:22 – 4th Avenue and Union Street
7:10 – 19th Avenue and Union Street
8:20 – 27th Avenue and Union Street (the first roundabout built in Kennewick)
15:12 – 27th Avenue and Vancouver Street

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