First Hill Streetcar Visualization

SDOT has released four renderings and a very slick video (above via Slog) showing what Broadway could look like if the CHCC desgin was selected. Although I’m fairly certain that SDOT has not made any decision yet on which design to build, this certainly shows they are moving towards this design. On closer analysis you will see that only a few blocks actually have the cross section that CHCC advocated for. Most of the other blocks have the 3-lane design (two travel lanes, a turn lane and one parking lane) with the cycle track added on. The only turn restrictions appear to be SB to EB at Pine, NB to WB at Pike, and SB to EB at Terrace. At all other locations a left turn lane is provided.

Visualizations available:
Broadway & Denny Station Visualization (pdf)
Broadway and Pike Station Visualization (pdf)
Broadway and Boylston Station Visualization (pdf)
Broadway and Terrace Station Visualization (pdf)

Broadway Corridor Animatic:
Broadway Corridor Animated Tour (wmv)

H/T Michael Arnold

First Link Train Wraps

A peek at Link's first ad wrap from City University

After some scattered speculation here and there and a bit of clamoring for more ad revenue anywhere and everywhere, it looks like Link will debuting its first ad wrap sometime soon.  Thanks to an unnamed tipster, we’ve learned that train #105 has been in the shop getting dressed up with a full advertisement from City University, giving Link it’s first full-body wrap.  We’ve seen plenty of bus wraps before and while not everyone is wooed by them, I would say that doing likewise for Link is a healthy part of breaking in the system.

The trains should be “rolling in a day or two,” said Bruce Gray, a Sound Transit spokesperson. The deal includes posters at Link stations and will generate about $8,000 a month for six months, according to Gray.

As for bus shelter wraps and ads, those we are still waiting on.

New Stops for Swift

"Swift Aurora Village Terminal", by Oran

The Community Transit Board will meet tomorrow to discuss the property condemnations necessary to construct two new Swift stations in each direction. From the press release, not online:

The four new Swift stations were in the original route plan but were deferred due to lack of funds. Everett has secured state funding for this project; Community Transit is overseeing construction. The four stations are at Highway 99 and 112th Street (northbound and southbound), Evergreen Way and Madison Street (northbound), and Evergreen Way and Pecks Drive (southbound).

ROW acquisition has been settled for all but one of these stations.

CT expects to put bids out later this summer and open the new stops in the first half of 2011.

Pecks Drive and Evergreen Way are a little less than a half mile apart. Oran whipped up a modified Swift map showing the new stations, below the jump.

[Read more...]

SR 520 Transit Service Increasing Soon

All-electronic tolling begins Spring 2011 on the 520 Bridge

In Spring 2011, some may avoid paying tolls by taking transit.

This October and next February, Metro will add service to Routes 255, 265, 271, and 311 as part of the Lake Washington Urban Partnership Agreement (UPA). Sound Transit is also adding service in October by introducing Route 542 between Redmond and the University District. The increased service will provide an alternative to paying a toll to cross the 520 bridge or driving other congested routes. Variable tolling on the SR 520 bridge will begin in Spring 2011.

According to the SR 520 and SR 522 Service Implementation Plan, tolls are expected to increase transit demand by 15-35%. A recent poll suggests that tolls will encourage transit use, with 16% of respondents choosing transit as one of many alternatives to tolls. That figure increases to 22% if both 520 and I-90 were tolled. Currently, 15,000 riders cross the 520 bridge every day. Routes 255 and 271 together provide 4,300 crosslake trips each weekday.

Funding for the 28,000 additional annual service hours will come from the property tax for transit, a part of which is dedicated to SR 520 service. On the transit capital side, the UPA grant provides $41 million, including $31 million for 41 new hybrid buses—28 for Metro and 13 for Sound Transit. Other investments include the recently completed Redmond P&R garage, a South Kirkland P&R garage (by 2014), new bus shelters, and real-time information displays.

Details of service additions and changes after the jump.

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RIDER ALERT: Link Service Suspended Between Rainier Beach and Sea-Tac

Due to electrical problems on the elevated section between Rainier Beach and Sea-Tac, Link service has been suspended on that portion of the route until further notice.  A bus bridge is in place between Rainier Beach and Sea-Tac, and Link service remains available from Westlake to Rainier Beach.  Expect long delays.

More info on this as it becomes available.

[UPDATE: As of 10:00am service had been restored.  The new alert showing resumed service was slow to arrive.]

Transit Advisory Panel Meeting Now

The legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee formed a Transit Advisory Panel in legislation this year. Its objective is to help determine the State’s future role in transit. Currently almost all transit dollars come from either local or federal sources.

They’re meeting this morning at Sound Transit Headquarters. I understand Andrew Austin is going to liveblog it on Moving Ahead. The panel is supposed to produce a draft report by November.

Design Options for East Link through Bellevue

East Link's B2M & C9T/C11A Preferred Alternatives. 112th Ave is under the red highlight..

Last Thursday, the Sound Transit Board heard a report (PDF) on the varying options that have been studied for East Link’s B and C segments.  In April, the Board’s go-ahead with the 112th Ave/B2M segment (see image above) accelerated the alignment into preliminary engineering.  The Board also chose two downtown preferred alternatives: C9T, a tunnel, and C11A, a surface alternative in the event of inadequate funds for the tunnel.  For those unfamiliar with the storied history of East Link planning, the B2M alternative is the most direct path to the Bellevue Transit Center, but because runs so close to neighborhoods, has been targeted acutely by NIMBY residents in South Bellevue.

The report given on Thursday was heavy on how a 112th Avenue alignment could work with “community interests.”  Six options were studied which mix-and-matched various 112th Ave modifications (at-grade, side-running, center-running, etc.) with the downtown C segment options, the C9T tunnel and the C11A surface alignment.  A brief rundown of the options before I get to my scatterbrained thoughts:

More below the jump.

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Magnolia’s BAT lanes

There’s a pretty lively thread over at Magnolia Voice as to whether or not the BAT (business access and transit) lanes on 15th Ave are “working.” I can’t think of a worse way to resolve that question than asking random people to comment, but here are some associated thoughts:

  • If we have to have this argument in Magnolia, there is no hope regionally.
  • I’d like to levy a $5 fine to the next person who argues that congestion wastes fuel, and that therefore impediments to driving are not environmentally sound. There is simply is no end to the highway projects you will support using that logic.
  • There are absolutely people who genuinely support BRT and think it’s a better investment than rail. As someone who wants both BRT and rail, I hope I see those people come out in these discussions, when there is direct competition for resources between transit and cars.

Orion VIIs are is here

"KCM 7000", by Zargoman

[UPDATE: Metro tells me this is a prototype bus, used just for testing. The production run won't arrive till the end of this year or early 2011].

Bus porn isn’t really my beat, but the new Hybrid Orion VII buses have arrived and are roaming around the county. Oran reported last year that Metro purchased these with federal stimulus funds. These low-floor, air-conditioned buses will replace 14-year-old, high-floor, non A/C-equipped Gilligs.

Sunday Open Thread: Bicycle Shortest Path Tree

Brandon Martin-Anderson is at it again with a new project – determining the shortest bicycle paths between destinations in Seattle and San Francisco. This video shows the Seattle map being grown. It would be pretty interesting to do this for transit as well.

RIDER ALERT: Nighttime light rail track work June 28-30

Rider Alert

From the news alert:

Nighttime light rail track work June 28-30

Starting on Monday, June 28 and lasting until Wednesday, June 30, from 10 p.m. – 1 a.m. each night, Central Link light rail will operate every 20-25 minutes instead of every 10-15 minutes due to track maintenance.

The work will also temporarily close one platform at Columbia City Station Monday night from 10 p.m. – 1 a.m. Riders boarding at Columbia City may be directed to the opposite platform.

RapidRide A Line Launch Outreach Begins

Rear driver side exterior view

RapidRide bus at Westlake

Metro first put its RapidRide bus on display at Westlake during Earth Day and announced October 2 as the launch date for the A Line. Last month, the King County Council approved the final station locations and service levels. Today, with 100 days left before launch, Metro has announced the dates when staff will be available for information on the new service, along with a RapidRide bus on display for people to check out. Metro will be at these public events, beginning this weekend:

  • June 26—Safety Fair (Federal Way Commons), 12-3 p.m.
  • June 27—Pride Parade (Seattle)
  • July 4—Fourth of July Parade (Burien), 3-4 p.m.
  • July 14—Tukwila International Blvd. Station, 7-9 a.m.
  • July 21—Federal Way Transit Center, 7-9 a.m.
  • July 31—Seafair Parade (Seattle)
  • August 11—Federal Way Park-and-Ride, 7-9 a.m.

According to Metro, the process of installing new station shelters has begun and they are finishing work on the fiber optic communications system along Pacific Highway. The system, dubbed IntelliDrive, enables transit signal priority and real-time bus information. RapidRide A is expected to be 30% faster than the 174 and attract 2.5 million riders annually within the next 5 years, a 50% increase over the 174′s ridership. We also learn that RapidRide buses will have onboard Wi-Fi service.

Amtrak Advisory Committee Slots Open

photo by Stephen De Vight

Amtrak has had a Amtrak Customer Advisory Committee (ACAC) since 1997, where frequent riders provide feedback to management. As it happens, they’re currently looking for Cascades and Empire Builder riders:

While there is no application form, if you are interested in serving with the ACAC, please send (1) a letter of interest explaining how your travel, customer, educational and work experiences can benefit Amtrak and the committee’s work, (2) a resume, (3) a list of the short- and long-distance Amtrak trips that you have taken during the past 12 months, and (4) planned trips for the next 12 months.

To apply, send an application package to:

Ms. Kate Warr acac@amtrak.com

Completed application packages should be sent by August 21, 2010.

I suspect someone that reads this would make a good committee member.

(H/T: Mike Billak)

Environmental Groups File Suit Against PSRC

Publicola reports that Cascade Bicycle Club, Futurewise, and the Sierra Club have filed suit against the Puget Sound Regional Council challenging their Transportation 2040 plan. They contend that the plan meets neither state VMT reduction or CO2 reduction laws – instead preserving the car-centric status quo.

During T2040′s public comment period, there were five options to choose from corresponding with differing levels of transit and highway investment. Alternative 5 was the option with the most transit, and the majority of public comment on the plan favored 5 – or even more transit investment than 5.

All of the PSRC options are projected to see CO2 growth, rather than reduction. The PSRC doesn’t appear to have studied an option that would reduce transportation-related CO2 emissions at all, despite state law requiring a 50% reduction from 1990 levels by 2050.

Differential Fare Increases

Photo by Oran

One reasonable response to my post on the potential for fare increases is that those increases should be focused on two-zone commuters. There certainly is a logical case: by traveling farther, two-zone riders both save more money (affecting their willingness to pay) and (in general) cost more money for Metro to service. Furthermore, it seems nonsensical to charge close to $3.00 for a short hop to the grocery store. Back when the fare was $1.50/$2.00, there was a proportionally large premium to travel two zones; with $2.50/$3.00 on the immediate horizon, that’s eroded substantially.

However, the problem is that a two-zone increase just doesn’t raise that much revenue. Linda Thielke of KCDOT was kind enough to provide these numbers, after the jump:

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Link Noise Meeting in Tukwila Tomorrow

The Tukwila Blog reports that ST is holding another meeting to hear public concerns about Link noise:

Please join us: Thursday, June 24, 2010, 5:30 to 8 p.m., with a presentation at 6 p.m. 
The Commons at Foster High School 
4242 S. 144th St., Tukwila. 

This is an opportunity to discuss your noise concerns directly with Sound Transit technical staff.

Some residents are certainly not yet happy.

News Roundup: Planning in Issaquah

Issaquah Long-Range Plan (click to enlarge)

This is an open thread.

U.S. Census: Seattle Gains 13.7k Residents

Seattle skyline. Photo by Oran.

According to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the city of Seattle gained an estimated 13,707 new residents between 2008 and 2009. The new official population estimate – 617,334 — is a 2.3% gain from last year’s estimate and represents 9.4% growth from the year 2000.

A slightly hysterical article that appeared a 2006 edition of the Seattle PI question former Mayor Nickels’ suggestion that Seattle could grow to 923,000 by 2040, but in the unlikely event that Seattle continues to gain population at 2.3% per year, its population will be much higher by that year: just under 1.3 million.

Bellevue, largest suburban city in King County, had 126,626 residents in 2009, the Bureau says. Bellevue grew slightly faster than Seattle last year — 2.5% — and has seen a 12.6% growth in population since 2000.

Seattle is the 23rd largest city in the county, behind Boston (20th), Baltimore (21st), and El Paso (22nd). Bellevue is much further down the list, at 192. Seattle had muted growth in the early part of the decade, probably related to the dot-com bubble and subsequent recession. Since 2004, though, Seattle has had strong year-over-year growth and has grown faster than the next four largest cities.

Figures for 2010 population estimates will be released next year, when the 2010 census is completed.

Trolley Meeting Thread

I’m fairly sure that no STB writers were at Metro’s trolleybus open house tonight, but if you were, feel free to share your impressions in the comments.

Clock for Trains Spotted at Mount Baker and Rainier Beach

The count up clock

Reader Michael Arnold tipped us off to new clocks at Rainier Beach and Mount Baker stations that count the time since the last train left the station. At Rainier Beach, the clock is installed on a pole by the northbound track before the crosswalk near existing train signals. At Mount Baker, it is installed on the overhead catenary support just south of the platform for southbound trains. “They’re designed to help keep the trains from bunching up on MLK,” according to Sound Transit spokesperson Bruce Gray. He says the “shorthand for operators is this – if flashing, hold. If solid, make your signal call to proceed.”

Every time a train passes by those points and leaves a station, the clock resets to 0:00 and begins counting up. The elapsed time flashes until 4.5 minutes have passed at Rainier Beach or 5 minutes at Mount Baker, then stays solid. Although trains are nominally 10 minutes apart during the day, I observed that trains depart as soon as possible which can be a minute or two under ten.

Watch the clock in action in this video.