The RapidRide B Line buses through Bellevue and Redmond are set to launch this weekend with free rides Saturday and Sunday along the route.
Bellevue Mayor Don Davidson couldn't help but pun on the name "B Line" during his remarks at the launch ceremony for the line on Wednesday morning.
"It's got the perfect name, 'B Line,' " Davidson said, remarking that it will be a fast and direct connection—or a "beeline"—between the area's two major employment centers—downtown Bellevue and the Microsoft campus in Redmond.
Service on the B line will be between the Bellevue and Redmond transit centers, with limited stops along Northeast Eighth Street, 156th Avenue Northeast, 148th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 90th Street.
The bus has 19 new stations along the route which will be equipped with an ORCA card reader and marquee signs. The route also includes about 12 bus stops each direction of the route. RapidRide does not stop on every bus stop on Northeast Eighth and 90th streets and 156th and 148th avenues Northeast. Riders should look for the stops marked with a red circle and a "B" in order to catch the B Line bus, said transit spokeswoman Linda Thielke.
The buses are expected to come every 10 to 15 minutes through both cities' downtowns as well as the Crossroads neighborhood, the eastern portion of Overlake, the campus and North Redmond.
RapidRide B was brought on with other changes made to the Eastside transit system.
Kevin Desmond, general manager of Metro Transit, told a crowd of people at Wednesday's ceremony that the RapidRide A line, which serves Tukwila and Federal Way, brought about an increase of riders along that corridor by 30 percent.
Elected officials from Bellevue and Redmond, including Davidson, Congressman Dave Reichert, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Bellevue Councilwoman Claudia Balducci, Redmond Councilman John Stilin and King County Councilwomen Jane Hague and Kathy Lambert, spoke at a launch ceremony Wednesday morning at Crossroads Bellevue. Bellevue Councilman John Chelminiak was also on hand for the inaugural bus rides.
The line is the second RapidRide line, which features energy-efficient, low-emission, hybrid buses with low floors and three doors for easier, faster boarding. The buses will also have free Wi-Fi, automated on-board announcements and transit signal priority for traffic lights.
Service will begin on Saturday, with free rides both Saturday and Sunday.
RapidRide will have the same fare as a regular Metro bus. Bus stops will offer real-time bus arrival information and, in some cases, ORCA card readers.
The new service was made possible through the Transit Now, a measure passed in 2006.