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Seen in this larger context, RapidRide doesn't do much except quicken the commute a little bit – maybe. Compared to other accelerated transit modes, it presents only one unchallengeable advantage: its price. According to an email from Metro spokesman Jeff Switzer, “RapidRide is not intended to be a replacement for high capacity rail corridors and its costs are pennies on the dollar compared to projects requiring the acquisition and creation of new rights-of-way for transit.
“Based on successes so far,” he added, “we see the possibilities of applying this BRT concept in several additional similar corridors in the future (e.g. the Ambaum-Delridge Route 120 between Burien and downtown Seattle, and others).”
The success he alludes to remains open to debate. When technology-heavy solutions fall short of promises, they plead the case for the more certain benefits that dedicated lanes, exclusive rights-of-way or light rail would yield. Four million dollars a mile for a system that doesn't get you there any faster becomes pure waste. The far larger sums that true BRT eats up would at least hold the promise of fast buses that are almost trains – which is the whole idea.
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