RapidRide H Line Transit Project Achieves Envision Platinum

King County, Washington and Washington, D.C. — A bus rapid transit project in King County, Washington has achieved an Envision Platinum award. King County Metro upgraded existing bus Route 120 to deliver the RapidRide H Line, adding to Metro’s growing bus rapid transit service. Consolidated bus stops, designated bus lanes, and all-door boarding are improving the rider experience with faster, more frequent, and more reliable service. The bus station shelters are designed to increase rider safety and improve wayfinding, while also reducing operations and maintenance costs and impacts on the environment. For this multi-jurisdiction project, King County Metro partnered with the City of Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), the City of Burien, and White Center (an unincorporated area of King County).

 The new RapidRide H Line addresses key public transit issues to support the development of a more mobile, equitable, and resilient community. The project transformed one of King County’s ten busiest routes, that had struggled with severe overcrowding during peak transit times, into one providing buses at least every 15 minutes all day, every day — and at least every 10 minutes during peak travel times. Newly designated business access and transit (BAT) lanes and queue jump signals for the buses throughout most of the route allow for faster travel times, while other roadway improvements — including new turn lanes, traffic signals, and pedestrian crosswalks with flashing beacons — are improving overall safety. Since this transit route passes through several economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, the upgraded service also better connects residents to community amenities and job opportunities.

King County’s Green Building and Sustainable Development Ordinance requires community projects to achieve high levels of environmental sustainability while also addressing equity and social justice issues. Given these key priorities, Metro chose to pursue Envision verification for this project because the comprehensive framework provided the best direction to inspire and achieve the breadth and depth of sustainability sought throughout all project phases — from planning to design through construction.

The new RapidRide H Line service began in March 2023.


Verified Sustainability Achievements

Demonstrating Community Leadership Planning and design of the new RapidRide H Line involved thorough outreach and engagement with the community, which ultimately helped to inform routing, stop locations, station amenities, and safety and access improvements.  The project team first partnered with local organizations to identify community stakeholders, and then conducted several phases of multilingual public outreach — including surveys, interviews, polls, and more — to identify the most concerning issues along the H Line route. This stakeholder involvement significantly contributed to the project’s overall success. For example, station stops and shelters were revised to provide the most equitable access for vulnerable communities to economic opportunities, healthcare, and other community services.

Improving Community MobilityThis project serves to advance equity and social justice in King County by investing in faster, more frequent, and more reliable public transit service in an area representing Metro’s priority populations: communities of color and those with lower incomes, limited English proficiency, and high transit dependency. One of the main objectives of Metro’s bus rapid transit service, including the new RapidRide H line, is to increase transportation capacity so that a rider can arrive at a bus stop at any time and quickly get on a bus, eliminating the need to rely on or interpret a schedule. The RapidRide H Line creates new connections that expand King County’s public transit network, providing better access to the Burien Transit Center, other bus routes, and bicycle and multi-use trails. The project also reduces disparities with respect to sidewalk infrastructure and pedestrian safety along the project’s corridor.

Preserving Water Resources King County Metro Maintenance and Facilities has an established program to minimize bus zone cleaning times while still providing adequate cleanliness for customers. Bus station shelters were therefore designed to minimize maintenance and water usage, while maintaining the desired function and aesthetics. By designing the bus shelters with smooth glass roofs, power washing efficacy was increased while water use for cleaning was decreased. The project team also aimed to reduce water irrigation needs by specifically choosing drought tolerant plants, so no permanent irrigation was installed. Finally, the overall reduction of impervious surface in the project area led to decreased stormwater runoff and lower impact on water quality.

Stimulating Economic Prosperity The RapidRide H Line was a unique opportunity to directly benefit neighborhoods in its service area, as studies have shown a link between bus rapid transit projects and economic development in the communities they serve. It achieved this not only by providing faster, more reliable and connected public transit, but also through the generation of living wage jobs and the development of skills and capabilities throughout the construction and operation of the line­­. As an example, the project team (with support from King County Central Procurement and Contracting Staff) leveraged County apprenticeship and training programs, particularly for construction trade workers and disadvantaged communities, throughout the development of the project.

Designing Resilient Infrastructure The project team hosted a workshop to assess vulnerability to climate change and explore strategies for resiliency. Climate risks identified included wildfire, heat waves, and wetter winters, but projected impacts to the RapidRide H Line are deemed minimal. However, since riders may be exposed to these conditions, the bus shelters were designed to provide greater protection from the sun and hazardous weather conditions, while the increased frequency of service reduces wait time, allowing riders to limit their exposure. The project also partnered with other transit agencies in the region to create trip planning tools that better integrate routes and empower communities along the RapidRide H Line by improving access to services and thereby increasing quality of life. The project will continue to monitor rider capacity, bus delays, and other metrics to further improve rider access, mobility, and wayfinding.


“Metro worked closely with the community to design and build the RapidRide H Line,” said Michelle Allison, General Manager of King County Metro. “Together, we created the best way to travel between Burien, White Center, West Seattle and downtown Seattle. Transit has always been the greenest way to travel, but winning this award takes our shared sustainability commitment to a new, higher level. We’re grateful to all of the jurisdictions and partners who made this recognition possible.”

“Our community loves having the H Line right around the corner from the new food bank!” shared Carmen Smith, Executive Director of White Center Food Bank. “It makes it really easy for them to get to the food bank, as well as take their groceries home without having to walk too far or uphill to get to the bus. Volunteers have been able to utilize the H Line when their car hasn’t been super reliable or when they don’t want to worry about parking. We also have a staff person who lives right on the H Line, which makes it easy to commute to work and not have to always rely on a ride. It’s neat that we have so many different folks connected to the food bank using the H Line.”

“ISI is proud to announce the Envision Platinum Award for the new RapidRide H Line,” said Kristi Wamstad, Verification Director at ISI. “This project absolutely demonstrates how the Envision framework can be used to align multiple stakeholder priorities and ultimately strengthen economic, social, and environmental results.”