More on the Revenue Shortfall

To expand on yesterday’s post by delving into the Sound Transit Executive Committee presentation on the revenue shortfall, some important details emerge:

The July 2008 projections were the ones used in creating the Sound Transit 2 plans. The change in the August 2009 and August 2010 projections from 2008, in absolute and relative terms, are on the right.

Since each subarea essentially pays for its projects out of its own account, the breakdown by subarea is important:

  • North King (Seattle/Shoreline), already holding up relatively well, loses only an additional $43m over 30 years.
  • Snohomish, already bad, doesn’t get much worse; also, they are absolutely reliant on North King remaining whole to get to the County line, so the North King numbers are also very good news.
  • East King loses $223m, which puts the downtown Bellevue tunnel even further out of reach.
  • South King has the most precipitous drop since the last estimate, and is now in the worst shape.

The presentation also breaks out how ST absorbed last year’s $3.1 billion drop: $2.1 billion came from project reserves and from lower construction bids; $900m in lower inflation and financial contingencies; and a $90m cut in administrative expenses.

There will be a new financial plan in September, which the Board will discuss through the end of the year.

Comments

  1. says

    I am probably in the minority but I say build the surface option in Bellevue. Not just because it’s cheaper, but because it’s more useful. Virtually all of downtown Bellevue is within a 10 minute walk of either of those two stations. The intersections where East Link interacts with traffic are easier to control with fewer points of conflict than on MLK. The one exception is all the parking garages off of 108th – something to consider.

    ST’s experience with MLK shows that it hasn’t been as bad as they expected. Bellevue’s advanced traffic management system would be a plus here. I’ve never bought the traffic chicken little/Armageddon arguments – I’ve rarely experienced really bad traffic on 108th or Main street. While I’m not thrilled about interacting with the trains and traffic as a cyclist, I have a ready alternative in 110th or 106th should the tracks prove difficult/dangerous to navigate.

    One question: I don’t think Central Link has crossovers at every station. I assume it is possible to run trains down the track the wrong direction under certain situations and with appropriate safety protocols. Would adding more crossovers and creating a plan for wrong-way emergency operation allow for continued, although delayed, operation when some ninny gets entangled with a train? Just a thought.

    • says

      Starting from the North:

      Pine Street stub
      Maybe something at the IDS layover area; I’ve never had a good look
      Just south of Stadium
      OMF
      MLK near Charleston
      MLK at Willow
      Just south of Rainier Beach station
      Above S 133rd St
      North (or East, depending on how you look at it) of Tukwila/International Blvd station
      Just north of SeaTac

      I know there’s nothing in either the Downtown tunnel (except possibly IDS) or the Bacon Hill tunnel. That means you’re pretty screwed between the OMF and MLK near Charleston (which is south of Mount Baker station and after the elevated section)

    • Daniel Warwick says

      Agreed. C11A is much more useful than C9T. It also gets rid of an unnecessary walk from the tunnel station. And if C9T will have to cross Main Street anyway, why should we be worried about one more big intersection (NE 4th).

    • Bernie says

      ST’s experience with MLK shows that it hasn’t been as bad as they expected. Bellevue’s advanced traffic management system would be a plus here.
      The trains on MLK are flowing with the majority of the traffic. The majority of the traffic in Bellevue is going to be perpendicular to Link. The traffic management is designed to move automobiles. By “help” you mean 4+ minute waits for the trains. Sit at the light some time after exiting at NE 4th. Even trying to make a right turn to go west you can sit there for a long, long time. The City has plans to make NE 2nd the main inflow for cars on 405 northbound (half diamond interchange, mirror of NE 10th). This will mean even more delays for trains at grade through DT. The legal bills for trying to plow through DT Bellevue at grade will make C9T seem like a bargin.

      • says

        You’ve got it backwards. Bellevue’s advanced traffic management system should be used maximize throughput of the roads while delaying the trains as little as possible. I’m not a traffic engineer so I won’t speculate on the details of how it would work. It’s obvious to me that moving a 4 car train through Bellevue with 800 (oh sorry Norman, 400? 500?) people through downtown every 7.5 minutes, is going to get a LOT more people moved through Bellevue than cars and buses alone.

        I can’t speak to the legal bills other than to say they are 2-sided. At some point Bellevue residents would hopefully get tired of COB government wasting their money on a pointless fight, but whatever.

  2. Another Andrew says

    South King County is down the most? North King is the most healthy?

    How could this be? Isn’t Kent in South King and that rapidly depopulating city of Seattle in North King? John Bailo, help me out here!

  3. Anandakos says

    It’s time to consider the “unthinkable” and ask if the Eastside is really appropriate for Link. The largest employer there has its own excellent and far-reaching bus service, the largest landowner in the Bellevue CBD hates trains (and the “scum” they bring), and the best opportunity for Transit Oriented Development in the Link alignment seems as distant as the Moon.

    Now that adding the outer roadway I-90 HOV lanes is baked in the cake, does it make sense to put a two-way busway in the reversible lanes instead of a two-way rail line? It seems to me that there is more than adequate capacity to provide service with buses. After all, in 2030 there is expected to be only a four-car train every four minutes on East Link during peak periods. Link cars are bigger than articulated buses, but not a lot bigger. Could not say ten or in a worst case even fifteen buses every four minutes provide the same capacity? Fifteen buses in four minutes is only one every sixteen seconds, a completely adequate safety margin for separation.

    Admittedly the stops at Mercer Island and Rainier Avenue could not be served by all buses running at such headways, so there would have to be two levels of service across the bridge during peak hours. Since the same four-car trains would have been running every ten minutes during off-peak operations and base service trains are rarely full in any transit system, there would need to be six or eight buses every ten minutes for the normal “backbone” service (one every seventy-five to eighty-five seconds, adequate time to clear a bus pad most of the time). Those buses would of course continue to provide “all (two) stops” service across I-90 during the peaks, stopping at MI and Rainier. Mercer Island would of course still have the 202 or its descendant entering the Transit facility on the island. The base level buses would reach more destinations than will Link, eliminating the need for a transfer at South Bellevue for riders from the east end I-90 and I-405 corridors.

    The additional capacity would be added by Park-N-Ride “super-expresses” which would not stop at MI or Rainier.

    The biggest problem comes with downtown Seattle distribution. Link would have to continue to share the tunnel with buses in order to accommodate the increase in motor coaches from the east side. But if the region is not going to return to the original base line of economic growth projected by ST2, there wouldn’t have needed to be those fifteen four-car trains per hour on East Link. It will be only ten, or even eight. The number of buses requiring downtown Seattle distribution would be proportionately smaller as well of course.

    The last problem is of course the larger operating cost of all those buses. The construction costs of Link appear largely to be “free” because of the Federal match whereas operating costs have to come from the local populace. Worse, any increase seemingly has to be approved by the United Apple Farmers of the Wenatchee Valley (e.g. the Washington Legislature).

    But in fact the Federal match is not “free”. In Washington we pay a bit more than $1.12 for every dollar we get back from the Feds ($1.00/$0.89), so if we build something “to get the Federal match” that doesn’t make sense on its own merits, we’re wasting $1.12 instead of $1.00. Grant that the “match” seems to hypnotize the United Apple Growers — they live the most subsidized lives of any region in the Lower 48 not working directly for the Federal government — more than it does the hard-headed realists of The People’s Soviet of Washington who live here on the west side of the Cascades.

    • Anandakos says

      I forgot to mention that the Bellevue CBD itself would be served by additional short-turn service along the “base-level” routes through the CBD that would be by-passed by the P’n’R expresses providing the Seattle-centric peak service across the bridge. There would still be every-four-minutes service between downtown Bellevue and downtown Redmond although the buses might take two or three somewhat different routes between the city centers. One of those routes should be a three stops express roughly emulating the Link stops.

      • Norman says

        Actually, I’m pretty sure, by 2030 ST is planning trains only every NINE minutes on East Link — not every four minutes.

        http://seattletransitblog.com/2009/11/16/link-headways/

        “Currently, the East Link DEIS operating plan summary (PDF) suggests four car trains every 10 minutes in 2020, with headways down to every 9 minutes in 2030.” Written by Ben Schiendelman

        The capacity of a Link car is about 1.5 times that of an articulated bus — not twice the capacity. One Link car costs about $4.5 million vs about $0.75 million for an articulated bus. So a Link car holds about 1.5 times as many people as an articulated bus, but costs about 6 times as much.

        If it is correct that ST is planning 9-minute headways on East Link by 2030, with 4-car trains, that equates to about 27 light rail cars per hour. You can match that capacity with only around 41 buses per hour in each direction. Right now there are about 50 buses per hour in each direction over the I-90 bridge in the afternoon peak hour, so, obviously, 41 buses per hour per direction oer the I-90 bridge is easily doable — more than that is being done right now.

        Of course, it makes far more sense to run buses over the I-90 bridge instead of light rail.

      • aw says

        Once East Link is finally built and smashes the ridership projections, I’m sure they’ll consider revising the preliminary operating plan.

      • aw says

        Due to network effects, I’m confident that Central Link ridership will increase substantially with the completion of U Link and North Link and East Link.

      • Norman says

        And St is projecting that will happen. That does not mean ridership will ever be over ST’s projections, does it?

      • Norman says

        Try again, Tim. Link cars do not have a capacity of 200. That lie was debunked a long time ago.

      • says

        “That lie was debunked a long time ago.”

        Oh Norman, it’s good to have you back. It just wouldn’t be the same without you calling us liars. I thought we concluded that the capacity of a Link car was 300, right? I’d say that’s about the same as you telling me that we can space buses at 4 second intervals mixed with SOV and vanpool traffic. :)

      • Norman says

        Articulated buses have a capacity of 90. That is accepted. Nobody denies that. Do you?

        So, you can’t find where ST is still claiming the capacity of Link cars is 200, eh? lol I thought so.

        Buses commonly are spaced at 4-second intervals on highways with mixed traffic. On I-5 and I-90, for example. Are you saying this does not happen? A bus goes past a spot, then a car, or van goes past the same spot in the same lane 4 seconds later. Are you seriously saying this does not, and can not happen? What in the world would prevent that from happening?

      • aw says

        With respect to ST Express:

        10. Passenger Load Guidelines
        Ideally, a seat should be available for every ST Express passenger during all periods of operation. However, this is not always possible because of funding constraints or limited vehicle or driver availability. The purpose of load guidelines is to ensure that most passengers will have a seat for at least the majority of their trip. The maximum average load factor is calculated by dividing the total number of passengers passing the maximum load point by the number of seats passing the maximum load point during the operating period being considered. As a guideline, the average load factor during the operating period should not exceed 1.0. Since this is an average, individual trips may exceed the guideline. For individual trips, load factors greater than 1.0 should not be exceeded for time periods greater than 15 minutes or for more than two consecutive stops, whichever is longer.

        With respect to Central Link:

        Passenger Load Guidelines
        The characteristics of light rail make it possible to comfortably and efficiently accommodate standing passengers. Compared with buses, light rail has relatively fewer stops, wider doors and aisles, and a smoother, steadier ride. The average light rail trip distance is relatively short, so when passengers have to stand it generally is for brief periods of time. Accordingly, Central Link trains can routinely accommodate standees while still providing quality service. The general guidelines below are intended to help in making short-term decisions on the passenger capacity needed during different times of the day and week:
        • Standees are permitted during weekday peak periods, up to a maximum of 200 percent of seated capacity per car (approximately 148 passengers total). This is the equivalent to 4.4 square feet per standing passenger and is considered to be a “comfortable standing load” in the Transit Capacity and Quality of Service Manual (2nd Edition) published by the Transportation Research Board.
        • Passengers should not have to stand for more than 20 minutes under typical day-to-day circumstances.
        • During off-peak periods, schedules and consists should be designed to provide enough seats for all passengers except when major events are scheduled, when construction or maintenance work results in longer headways, or when service is disrupted due to
        circumstances beyond Sound Transit’s control.

        You sound disingenuous when you variously use maximum capacity for one mode (buses), minimum capacity for another mode (automobile) and a performance metric for a third mode (light rail).

        With respect to buses in mixed traffic with a four second separation, it is not possible in general, because cars will merge in front of the bus to take up that space.

      • says

        Buses commonly are spaced at 4-second intervals on highways with mixed traffic. On I-5 and I-90, for example. Are you saying this does not happen? A bus goes past a spot, then a car, or van goes past the same spot in the same lane 4 seconds later. Are you seriously saying this does not, and can not happen?

        Per Metro policy:

        40 foot buses – 4 second spacing
        60 foot buses – 6 second spacing

        These numbers are in perfect weather so add a minimum of 2 in wet weather.

        When other drivers change lanes into that spacing, we have to reestablish the required spacing which typically means driving 5-10 mph slower than the prevailing flow of traffic.

        Norman, we’ve been over this many times. Are you trying to convince me that we can space buses closer to vehicles in front of them than 6 seconds? Or are you effectively accusing me of lying about Metro policy?

      • Norman says

        I’m not talking about “policy”. I am talking about what actually happens in the real world. Even if Metro’s policy were somehow strictly enforced, which it is not, there is no way to prevent cars following buses to be any certain distance behind them.

        I have videos of traffic on the I-90 bridge. In one clip, 7 vehicles pass a point in 8 seconds. The third of these vehicles is a bus.

        To say that vehicles, including buses, can not pass a point on a highway at 4-second intervals, on average, is nonsense. In fact, in the real world on highways, spacing between vehicles is much shorter than 4 seconds during at least part of the day.

      • Norman says

        By the way, Velo, the previous poster — Aw — writes that even 4-second spacing between buses and cars is not possible: those spaces will be SHORTER than 4 seconds. Maybe you should explain to him why you think he is wrong.

      • aw says

        Norman, did you read the part where Velo agreed with me and said the bus had to slow by 5-10 mph to maintain spacing? Cars of course aren’t bound by those rules and they can follow behind a bus far closer than they should. And they don’t need to because they can stop in less time than the bus.

        In a lane with only buses, they could be spaced at four (or six) second intervals, but they’re not going to have an average spacing anywhere near that.

      • Norman says

        AW: I am using the accepted way of determining “capacity” for light rail — you take the number of seats, then compute the area left fot standing passengers and divide that by some standard number of standees per square meter. When you use the accepted standard in N. America of 2 standees per square meter on light rail, you get a capacity of about 137 for Link light rail cars.

        The accepted capacity of 60-foot articulated buses is 90, with about 60 seated and 30 standing.

        http://www.bettertransport.info/pitf/TIPapplication-Airport%20Link.2006.pdf

        page 10 of this PSRC document, in the second paragraph from the bottom:

        “A 60-foot bus has a seated capacity for 60 persons and a total load of 90 persons. A 3-Car Train has a seated capacity for 216 persons and a total load of 360–432 persons. A 4-Car Train has a seated capacity for 288 persons with a total load of 481–572 persons.”

        Do the math for light rail, and you get a “total load” of 120 to 143 passengers per light rail car. You do not come up with 200 per light rail car.

        The Puget Sound Regional Council is not anti-light rail.

      • Norman says

        As I wrote, to provide the same capacity as ST’s planned 4-car trains every 9 minutes over the I-90 bridge, requires only 41 buses per hour. So, there is no need to have buses every 4 seconds to achieve the same capacity of what ST is planning for East Link light rail. However, vehicles every 4 seconds is easily achieveable with 41 buses per hour per lane mixed with other traffic, or even a lot more than 41 buses per hour. Right now, over the I-90 bridge during peak hours there are around 2,000 vehicles per hour per lane, including about 50 buses per hour, most of them in the same lane. They certainly all could be in the same lane.

        I find it amusing that some people want to argue that something is not possible when it is actually happening every day right now!

      • Nathanael says

        Think of the pollution, Norman. Or are you planning to extend trolleybus wire over I-90?

      • Norman says

        41 buses per hour creates “pollution” that is not even discernible in the total put out in our area. In other words, it is insignifcant.

        In another decade or two, buses running on hydrogen will produce no pollution where they operate. There are already CNG buses which are quite low-pollution vehicles.

        “Pollution” as an argument for light rail over buses is a red herring.

      • says

        To say that vehicles, including buses, can not pass a point on a highway at 4-second intervals, on average, is nonsense. In fact, in the real world on highways, spacing between vehicles is much shorter than 4 seconds during at least part of the day.

        Stop twisting my words, I never said it isn’t possible. It is possible and does happen *every single day*. However it’s very dangerous, it’s not Metro policy, and it’s not legal. When somebody cuts in front of me I am forced to slow down to reestablish my following distance which reduces the number of buses that you can get across the bridge in an hour.

      • Nathanael says

        Now Norman reveals his belief in magical hydrogen buses, which have been a decade away from usability for decades and will continue to be a decade away forever.

        You should have gone with battery-assisted trolleybuses if you wanted credibility, Norman.

      • Anandakos says

        Guys,

        The proposal was to replace the railway in the reversible lanes with a busway. The antics of Seattle’s selfish drivers is irrelevant. They won’t be anywhere near buses in a separated busway.

      • anonymouse says

        A light rail car also lasts about 3 times longer than a bus, so you’ll have three generations of buses to serve the same lifespan as one light rail car. Thus, the rail car only costs about twice as much. Plus light rail, being electric, has rather lower fuel and maintenance costs, not to mention operations costs of having one train operator replace 6 bus drivers.

      • Norman says

        Actually, a light rail car lasts about twice as long as a bus — not three times as long. However, either way, I would rather ride on a brand-new bus 15 years from now, than on a 15-year-old light rail car. Unless they totally refurbish the inside of light rail cars every 15 years, which would not be cheap.

        There is a lot to be said for getting brand-new vehicles every 12 or 15 years, instead of using the asme vehicles for 30 years, or so. You get the advantage of having the newest technology every 12 to 15 years, instead of every 30 years, or so.

        And don’t forget that light rail cars cost about 6 times as much as articulated buses.

        The operating cost of ST light rail is a lot higher than buses.

      • Nathanael says

        “There is a lot to be said for getting brand-new vehicles every 12 or 15 years, instead of using the asme vehicles for 30 years, or so. You get the advantage of having the newest technology every 12 to 15 years, instead of every 30 years, or so.”

        You’d *think* this was the case, but it isn’t consistently so. For a dramatic example, most people think that the streetcars of the 1900s are more comfortable than the buses which replaced them in the 1950s.

        For an example of a different sort, Amtrak’s 1970s/1980s passenger rail cars are generally more comfortable than *brand new* intercity buses.

        Good design matters. If the good design will last for 30 years, it’s better than a good design which lasts for 15 years. If it’s a bad design, then you would do better to get a good design rather than saying “well, it’ll only last for 15 years”.

        Furthermore, under-the-hood parts can be replaced, and are, on trains, if (for instance) substantially better motor technology becomes availabl

        If there are substantial changes — improvements — in design standards, such as the level-boarding changes driven by the ADA, that’s a good reason to get new vehicles. But this doesn’t happen very often; the level-boarding change is a once-in-a-century change. Or more. It’s the first major user-visible design standards change since the replacement of individual compartments with “corridor” vehicles in the 19th century train designs. In buses, it’s arguably the first major change since they stopped being horse-drawn.

        And again, the operating cost of ST light rail is a lot less than buses per passenger-mile. I can make unsupported claims just as well as you can.

      • Norman says

        The operating cost per passenger mile of SOUND TRANSIT light rail is higher than that of buses.

      • Nathanael says

        The operating cost per passenger mile of *Central Link before U-Link is built*, which is going to go way down with the increased passenger loadings from U-Link — is higher than that of WHAT buses, Norman? The specific buses which East Link would replace? I doubt it.

      • Anandakos says

        Nathanael,

        You are right that people thought the PCC’s were more comfortable than the buses of the 1950’s, but they weren’t from the 1900’s. The Presidents’ Conference Committee (that’s “presidents of traction lines”, not the US which is why the apostrophe trails the “s”) was first delivered in 1936, so it took advantage of the rapid advances in railcar technology during the first three and a half decades of the 20th century.

      • Norman says

        I would not count on that. U-Link will add a lot of very short trips, like UW to downtown, Capital Hill to downtown, and Capital Hill to UW. That will make the average trip a lot shorter than it is on Central Link. More passengers, but they won’t be traveling very many miles. They will be operating a lot more Link trains when the U-link opens, which will increase operating costs, obviously.

        Operating cost of Link trains is higher than that of ST Express buses, some of which go to the east side. Many of the buses crossing the I-90 bridge are very full, which means low operating cost per passenger mile on those trips.

      • Zed says

        Sound Transit doesn’t pay for Link based on passenger miles. They pay Metro a fixed amount per service hour to operate the trains. U-Link will have higher passenger turnover per hour, i.e. more paying customers per hour, so the net operating cost will be lower than what it is currently.

        “Operating cost of Link trains is higher than that of ST Express buses, some of which go to the east side.”

        Sound Transit’s 2010 budget shows a per-boarding cost of $5.95 for Link and $7.22 for ST Express. Last time I checked $5.95 was less than $7.22.

      • Bernie says

        That sounds a bit backwards. Searching turned up a previous blog post:

        Comment by Oran Viriyincy
        2009-12-05 16:35:02

        Unfortunately, Metro doesn’t provide that detailed information directly. It only has performance metrics and not cost figures.

        Tri-Met’s overall (bus & rail) operating cost per boarding is $2.85 which is still much lower than Metro’s. This accounts for an integrated regional bus and rail system versus Metro’s all-bus system (until recently).

        From the draft 2010 Service Implementation Plan, ST Express systemwide has a $5.88/boarding, on the top two hisghest ridership, high service routes 545 $4.82 and the 550 $3.41.

        So, if true, bus service to the eastside would be half the cost per boarding as light rail (it only replaces one route, the 550).

      • Zed says

        http://www.soundtransit.org/Documents/pdf/about/financial/2010/FinalAdopted2010Budget.pdf

        If Norman is going to make broad statements than I’m going to make broad statements too. He said point blank that Link operating costs are higher than that of ST Express, as if they are directly comparable. Obviously higher ridership bus routes have lower cost per boarding, the same is true for light rail.

        “So, if true, bus service to the eastside would be half the cost per boarding as light rail (it only replaces one route, the 550).”

        You feel comfortable making that statement 10 years before East Link has even opened? OK.

        If you look at the 2010 Service Implementation Plan, the estimated cost per boarding in 2014 for ST Express is $6.52, and for Link it’s $3.13. Until the extensions open there are no plans to increase service on Link, so any increase in ridership has a huge effect on the cost per boarding, given that it’s a derived figure.

      • Bernie says

        “So, if true, bus service to the eastside would be half the cost per boarding as light rail (it only replaces one route, the 550).” You feel comfortable making that statement 10 years before East Link has even opened? OK.

        Absolutely (except it’s going to be more than 10 years). The eastside can’t come close to the efficiency of the North King (aka Seattle) subarea. That disparity will only be magnified by light rail. Rail scales well in high demand corridors, like UW to DT Seattle. Somehow the focus has been lost. The eastside is just barely able to justify bus service. There are decades worth of light rail expansion in Seattle that would be more productive than running rail across a sinking bridge.

      • Martin H. Duke says

        There are decades worth of light rail expansion in Seattle that would be more productive than running rail across a sinking bridge.

        I think this may very well be true, but of course state law and public opinion would prevent us from taking East King money and plowing it into Ballard/West Seattle light rail.

      • Bernie says

        It doesn’t prevent loaning the money which was done to build the first leg of Central Link.

      • Martin H. Duke says

        Sure, but you still have to eventually spend the money on the Eastside. If you’re suggesting that we loan the East Link money to accelerate Northgate and then defer East Link till whenever, I personally wouldn’t have a problem with that, but I think you have some convincing to do with your compatriots on the Eastside.

      • Bernie says

        I’m sure there would be a faction against doing this as there would be a block that’s all for it because of the belief that buses are the best answer for the forseeable future. If the budget ax falls somewhere between Bellevue and Overlake I think there would be a solid majority that would feel this way.

    • says

      Is that largest employer Microsoft? I’m almost positive the Connectors do not serve the Bellevue campuses.

      And yes, Link cars are a lot bigger. They have roughly twice the capacity, and four cars can be operated by one operator. That’s roughly 800 people. You’d need at least 8 or 9 buses for the same capacity–assuming you can cram 100 people on a bus, which is difficult.

      Fifteen buses in 4 minutes is massively expensive. You’re looking at at least $500,000 per bus–more for hybrids. I don’t know the cost of a LRV, but I do know that electricity is cheaper than diesel.

      Also, 16 seconds is not enough time. If one coach has to stop to load a wheelchair, you’ll have 5 more stuck behind it by the time the wheelchair is clear.

      • Chris Stefan says

        The Connector doesn’t even begin to serve all of the Microsoft employees and contractors who ride public transit. There is a reason most of the routes serving Overlake TC in the morning and evening are packed.

        A fair number of the routes serving Bellevue TC during rush hour are packed as well though by no means are a majority of the riders Microsoft employees.

      • Norman says

        Microsoft certainly has the money to expand Connector to several times its current size.

        You mean that Microsoft workers and other white collar workers actually ride buses? They don’t demand trains?

      • Kyle S. says

        I was never convinced by the argument that white-collar workers commute by bus. At least in Seattle they do.

        The key is getting these people out of their cars for non-commute trips. The bus is just too inconvenient for relatively frequent but unscheduled trips. You can build a 45-minute bus (or rail, or ferry, or…) trip into your daily commute. It’s hard to swallow when you’re talking about heading out on the town or running to U Village for a shopping trip.

    • Steve says

      As I read the table, east king county is contributing nearly on par with north king county. Why shortchange the whole eastside population just to spite one wealthy car-loving landowner in Bellevue? He certainly doesn’t represent the transit using population of the eastside.

      The one huge bottleneck that I see now in the system is that the central line tunnel is shared between bus and light rail, and the difference in bus operation can adversely affect the operation of the light rail through downtown Seattle. Under your proposal to use buses, that wouldn’t end and bus breakdowns would continue to plague central line light rail operation for decades. The alternative is to re-route eastside transit into Seattle out of the transit tunnel, which is completely counter-productive. A transit system’s efficacy largely depends on its ability to fully network the entire region.

      • joshuadf says

        I’d say it looks like East was on par with North, but tax revenue fell about 9% more so now it’s significantly lower contribution to its subarea.

    • Mike Orr says

      If the Eastside can’t afford East Link, I guess it won’t be built until the account fills up. Presumably, Eastsiders would have to vote on any changes to the ST2 mandate (i.e., putting bus lanes in the reserved rail lanes, or diverting some Link money to ST Express). I doubt ST could just make these changes on their own.

      I would support adding bus lanes to I-90 only if they can be quickly and inexpensively be converted to rail later. But that would raise a problem. The buses would have to get out of the lanes in order to convert the lanes, and anti-rail advocates would scream that putting the buses back into trafficky lanes temporarily would be an intolerable hardship.

      • says

        “I would support adding bus lanes to I-90 only if they can be quickly and inexpensively be converted to rail later. ”

        I always assumed that BRT would be the preferred choice for the Eastside. The problem comes, however, in “quickly and inexpensively” converting to rail later. Once you’ve spent the money acquiring and building dedicated ROW for a BRT system that is rail compatible, it is actually *more* expensive to convert it later.

        The question is really is this: Do you think BRT can handle the transit needs of the Eastside for the next 50 or 100 years? If so, then let’s build BRT today and forget about future rail. If, however, you think we eventually need to go with Rail, then by all means build Rail today so you don’t incur an expense and construction hassle penalty sometime in the future.

        Arguments can be made both ways but in my mind we’re beyond that. Just build the damn thing already.

      • Anandakos says

        Velo,

        I’m not assuming strict BRT, but rather the “Blue Streak” model already in existence throughout the Eastside (local feeder “expresses”). From what I understand the “BRT” Rapid Rides won’t have significant lane dedications except perhaps at some intersections that back up badly.

        So the East area monies would go to operations, not capital expenditures (except new buses of course).

        The same is obviously true in spades for South King County. But I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that there will be few tears shed in Star Lake and Federal Way over the substitution of the slow ride down MLK for their I-5 expresses.

      • says

        RapidRide A Line will essentially have BAT-HOV lanes. Right turns and carpools OK, everything else needs to stay in the other two lanes.

        Motorists respect that for the most part too. I remember traffic being terribly awful one morning on my way to school–I-5 was completely hosed for some reason and the general purpose lanes on Pac Hwy were full, but the carpool lanes were empty.

      • says

        “I’m not assuming strict BRT, but rather the “Blue Streak” model already in existence throughout the Eastside (local feeder “expresses”)”

        And this is why BRT always looks less expensive – It’s an apples to doughnuts comparison. BRT advocates always assume use of existing ROW which lowers the cost but also increases travel time. BRT advocates love to talk about the cost savings but I never hear admissions of slower travel times.

      • Anandakos says

        I DIDN’T SAY BRT! YOU said BRT! I think the local collector expresses have been shown to be the most popular service, if there is a reasonably quick arterial over which to run the collector operation. It produces the most satisfied customers except for commuter rail. They only have to ride one vehicle and it’s with their neighbors.

        Certainly the overall average speed is lower than BRT, and it improves the efficiency to have a Park’n’Ride at the freeway access, in order to attract people who don’t live within walking distance of the arterial.

        And yes, I do understand that the operating costs are somewhat higher than forcing people to drive to Park’n’Rides. But it produces an overall higher ridership with lower capital costs because it reduces the need for garages.

        Where there is a strong commitment to TOD with the cities in question squeezing development into the catchment of the stations, it makes sense to invest in fixed rail transit. In its absence it makes more sense to link activity centers throughout the region with fixed headway BRT “mass transit” running in HOV lanes and to run the local collector expresses and Park’n’Ride buses to the Seattle and Bellevue CBD’s.

        North Link should be completed to Northgate and I guess that subarea equity demands that it be completed to Alderwood Mall since there’s really not much else to spend capital on up there. But the Eastside has its own CBD that should be favored for service over there.

      • Nathanael says

        “I think the local collector expresses have been shown to be the most popular service, if there is a reasonably quick arterial over which to run the collector operation”

        Isn’t that “if” crucial here?

        Any route which has to get from the Eastside to Seattle has a rather dramatic gap in available arterials. Ahem.

      • Anandakos says

        Oy-vey! A two-way busway in the reversible roadway would very much be an “available arterial”. Ay-yi-yi. You people have no sense of transit history! The BlueStreak service introduced in the late 1960’s was a smashing success. So much so that Metro still runs every one of the routes, in the case of the 41, with the same number.

        Now it’s true that local-collector expresses are expensive to operate and should only be run in the peak hour and with a premium fare. But they could provide better coverage of the East Side than will Link at a much lower capital cost.

        Yes, the problem of downtown Seattle distribution is a tough nut to crack. But if the Eastside buses run on the surface and suffer from congestion you’ll have fewer people coming to Seattle to work from the Eastside. They’ll seek jobs in Bellevue or Redmond, as they really should unless they are willing to make the sacrifices in greater density that make rail transit work. The hyperventilation in The Cute Little Surrey With The Fringes All About is not a hopeful sign that they will.

        Let the skyscrapers of downtown Seattle be filled with people from Burien to Lynnwood. There are plenty of them and they have the skills.

      • Bernie says

        The cost of East Link would most certainly benefit a far greater audience if used to flush out our HOV system (i.e. 90/520 to/from 405 all directions) and build more flyer stops. Since the 520 rebuild opportunity was lost regarding making it a rail corridor the bus traffic split over two bridges will provide faster service for the next 50 years. If you must run rail, billed as a 100 year solution, don’t run it over a bridge that’s sinking into the sunset, er a lake. These structures are good for about 50 years if you’re lucky. I-90 will be almost 40 years old if East Link is built according to ST history of project completion.

      • Ryan says

        Worst case scenario, link could be built at least as far as Overlake Hospital in Phase I. Phase II could then extend to Overlake. Not ideal, but the former Safeway site likely won’t be developed by then, so the only real loser is those using the Overlake station. That said, RapidRide could serve as a connector in the meantime until Phase II is completed.

      • Bernie says

        Part of the problem with East Link as funded in ST2 is that doesn’t make it to Redmond. Shortening it to a Bellevue to Seattle line would never justify the operational costs; not to mention the tizzy fit Redmond and Microsoft would throw. The entire scheme was dependent on a huge redevelopment of Bel-Red that’s not going to happen in the next 8-10 years. Maybe in 20 years there will be meaningful development there. We already have a housing glut and until a large number of new jobs appear there’s not much need for anything more than densifying (is that a word?) zones already designated residential.

      • Mike Orr says

        Still, 520 was built the same way. Out to 124th, then 148th, then Redmond. Maybe Microsoft can put that in its pipe and smoke it. It would delay the Bel-Red segment until the line and housing can be built more or less together. And a bus could do the rest of the way if they spring a small chunk of change for it.

        (That’s how other cities like Vancouver build rail. Start with Swift on the whole line immediately, then convert the segments to rail as it’s ready. That way people can immediately how frequent transit can help them, rather than waiting 13 years for it.)

      • Mike Orr says

        The thing is, the 550 needs some help on the reverse commute now. It’s fine on the traditional commute where it can use the express lanes, but it gets seriously backed up on the reverse commute where it’s with general traffic. A BRT lane (maybe just one) would tide us over if East Link gets delayed past 2023. Actually, it’s 13 long years even if Link gets built on time. Maybe we could (sacrelige) convert one of the regular auto lanes to a reverse-peak express lane. Sigh. Well, maybe tolls will reduce traffic enough to speed up the bus.

        If there’s no money to build East Link, it won’t be built no matter how much it’s needed. The budget situation will no doubt be worse next year and the year after because that’s how it’s been going, and where will the ton of new jobs come from to rescue us? The only plausable wave of new jobs is in alternative energy and retrofitting houses for efficiency, and the govt is dragging its feet about investing in it (and letting China eat our lunch).

      • David Seater says

        Part of the East Link work on I-90 is to reconfigure the outer roadways to add an HOV lane, one in each direction. I’d think that would help address the reverse-peak problems on the 550. That project is already underway and is supposed to be complete in 2014.

      • says

        Agreed. I was driving the 550 when they completed the current HOV lane from Bellevue Way to Mercer Island. I went from being 10-20 minutes late a couple of nights a week to being late 5 or 10 minutes only once or twice a week. Friday nights heading back into the city still suck though. I frequently bail out of the HOV lane and move over to the Mercer Island SOV lane to avoid all the 2 person HOV’s merging at Mercer Island.

      • Bernie says

        The only plausable wave of new jobs is in alternative energy and retrofitting houses for efficiency

        Actually Bel-Red had a lot of jobs. Unfortunately the City Council has taken the attitude that those kinds of jobs aren’t good enough for Bellevue. Losing the RR was seen as a plus because in makes it harder for Safeway to bake bread, the cardboard box factory to stay in business, etc. And those gritty trucks from the distribution plant… way better to put that crap down in Kent and have them slog up 405 every day, DOH! Amazon Fresh has taken over the facility. Wouldn’t it be ironic if they were able to be the low cost provider because of superior distribution.

    • says

      Metro and Sound Transit buses bring far more people to the Microsoft Campus than the connector buses do. Either way, they are complementary services, not competing.

      • Bernie says

        I’m thinking I’ve seen numbers for how many MS employees ride Connector buses but I don’t remember how many. It would be interesting to know the brake down; drive, Connector, Metro/ST, walk/cycle. Our company moved but for several years we were near 148th Ave NE and NE 51st St. I sure seemed like during commute peak there were a lot more Connector buses than ST + Metro.

      • Chris Stefan says

        The connector buses are smaller and don’t allow standing passengers. Also many of the green and white vehicles you see scooting around near the Microsoft campus aren’t for taking employees between work and home but simply for moving them around all of the various Microsoft facilities in the Puget Sound area.

      • Bernie says

        I’m not including the mini vans and Priuses. I’m talking about just the giant tour buses being far more numerous than Metro and ST routes. Plus, not everyone on the Metro and ST buses is a Microsoft employee. Most are but there are a substantial number of other businesses (like Nintendo) plus a lot of residents that are going to/from jobs in Seattle and elsewhere. Pretty sure M$ has the data published but don’t remember where to look. Microsoft would seem like the perfect employer for van pools. Microsoft leased space in the complex where I used to work. The bike parking was in the lower floor of one of the three buildings. The only van pool I saw parked there was from Kitsap County.

    • Nathanael says

      “In Washington we pay a bit more than $1.12 for every dollar we get back from the Feds ($1.00/$0.89), so if we build something “to get the Federal match” that doesn’t make sense on its own merits,”

      This is false computation. The feds are taking their money *whether or not you get any of it*. If you don’t get the federal match, then you pay the same amount and get less back from the Feds… (while, say, North Carolina gets more back).

  4. joshuadf says

    I’m a little surprised that Seattle tax revenues haven’t fallen nearly as much. Is there any explanation for this? Does it correlate with some other economic stats?

    • Anandakos says

      There is an explanation: Seattle has genuine businesses that make things and provide important services, not real estate scams and car dealerships. Therefore employment and wages have held up well in Seattle but less so in the non-commuting Eastside. And that means that sales for Seattle retailers have held up better.

      Remember that Microsoft makes the vast majority of its sales outside the State and is therefore exempt from sales taxes on them. Ditto Boeing, but neither Payne Field nor Renton is within the North King or Snohomish ST subarea, so they wouldn’t help anyway. If MS had to pay sales taxes on its enormous worldwide sales, the local portion would make Redmond the Croesus of American small cities.

      • joshuadf says

        That’s plausible but it still would be good to see some breakdowns by area or sector or something. King County actually has more population outside Seattle and it’s certainly not all car dealerships.

      • Bernie says

        I think it has more to do with the eastside purchases being driven largely by excess prior to the bust. Now poeple are starting to actually increase their savings rate and shop like there is a tomorrow. Woodinville had three grocery stores; a QFC, an Albertsons and Top Food. The QFC, the high priced spread, is the one that’s closing.

    • Chad R says

      I’m a little surprised, too. I thought stores like Wal-Mart were supposed to be the saviour of counties and cities. So, North King County, with very few Wal-Marts is doing better than Snohomish and South King Counties with all their Wal-Marts and such? I guess people really are going to Macys and JC Penneys afterall…

      • Mike Orr says

        Wal-Mart doesn’t do as well in places with money. There are a lot of people here who make enough that they don’t have to shop at Wal-Mart, and with their environmentalist/localist/pro-union leanings they don’t want to. Wal-Mart’s competition is not Macy’s which sells higher-end stuff, or Penneys which is mostly clothes. Wal-Mart’s competition is Fred Meyer, Target, etc. And for food, Fred Meyer again (cheap shoppers), Costco (wholesale shoppers), and Whole Foods/farmers’ markets (environmetalist/health shoppers), etc. Also, Wal-Mart never even came into the northwest until ten years ago, and I’m not sure they’ve aggressively tried to expand in Seattle. They could have bought the Oak Tree grocery that closed, or made an offer to K-Mart for its space.

      • Dave says

        I’m confused, what does WalMart have to do with anything?

        There’s only two of them in the Sound Transit taxing district of SnoCo, anyway.

  5. Anandakos says

    Tim,

    Yes, the Connectors are focused on the big campuses; the old ones around South Kirkland P’n’R only get Metro service. But Link won’t serve them either, so the “Bellevue campuses” argument is to a degree a red herring.

    Please, read the whole post before you comment. I said very clearly that the extra capacity running at the peaks would not serve Mercer Island and Rainier Avenue, so the fifteen second headways would not affect operations at the stations. They’d operate as they do now as pull outs, except that buses returning to the traffic would have only to contend with other buses instead of the swarm of HOV and Mercer Island autos. And I specifically said that seventy-five seconds would be sufficient to clear the pad most times. I didn’t think I needed to spell-out that the exceptions were for wheel-chair lifts.

    About the need for nine buses to substitute for one Link train, that is clearly too high. Rich riders from the East side simply will simply patronize Link trains that are crush loaded (your estimate of 200 people per car) every day. Either they’ll drive/carpool or they’ll take the P’n’R expresses that continue to run. Light Rail cars begin to feel a bit crowded at 100 people (60 seated and 40 standees). Given that an articulated bus holds about 60 seated people seven buses per train would provided seats for everyone. Thus my estimate of six to eight per train; eight was meant to allow for the occasional “event rush” in which people do tolerate standing crush loads.

    Yes, buses take longer to load and deboard; trains are better for high-volume corridors and greatly speed CBD distribution. But if ST’s East King budget is going to have a shortfall of 25% either the operations or capital budget must suffer. In the absence of a huge TOD effort through the Bel-Red corridor, Link must certainly depend on feeder buses to meet its capacity expectations. Those feeder buses will require diversion of at least a portion of the savings from single operation of the four car trains.

    Maybe it makes the most sense for employment that was projected to develop in Seattle but won’t occur soon be re-directed to the Bellevue CBD when and if it does arrive. Let the Seattle workforce be provided from west of the lake and that of Bellevue from east of it. There are plenty of people in both areas to provide an abundant workforce for both activity centers.

    I grant that Microsoft is a problem because the sort of people it hires are not the sort who are suburbanites. Now once they get options they often become the sort who are suburbanites, but when they start out they’re mostly urban hipsters. So they need to get from Capitol Hill and Belltown to Overlake and Link would certainly provide a better option than public buses for them. But there is Connector which is actually better than Link for people heading to the big campus.

    Steve,

    Yes, the buses in the tunnel would be a problem. It’s best to do as mentioned above and focus living and working on the same sides of the lake. If it becomes increasingly difficult and expensive for people to live on the east side and work in downtown Seattle or live in Seattle and work in the Bellevue CBD, people will increasingly choose to do less of both. I can’t see that as a great tragedy; the people in the two cities basically despise one another. To Seattleites generally Bellevue is a troglodyte outpost of Texas (‘Soft excepted) and the majority of Eastsiders think of Seattle as an urban cesspool (Stadium station and the Nordstrom’s anchor store excepted). Maybe it’s time for two counties, too.

    Mike,

    Sure, put the rails in the pavement now; the only thing that would have to be added later would be the catenary should conversion be chosen. Rainier and Mercer Island stations would be out of service for a few weeks to a few months in order to change the platform configurations, but that’s not the end of the world. However, I doubt the rails would ever be used unless things change radically in Bellevue.

    Yes, a slight majority of the Eastside voted for ST2. But I bet in their heart of hearts the huge majority were voting for their neighbor to take Link and leave them a bigger patch of I-90 to drive over.

    Of course, that’s true of nearly all suburbanites who support transit, not just Eastsiders. (Again with an exception: those who get to ride commuter rail LOVE it. But then, what’s not to like? a double decker view of the world whizzing by, free Wi-Fi, not traffic jams. It’s ALL good, buddy.)

    • says

      I wanna see you merge a half-loaded 60 foot bus from a dead stop between two buses going 60 MPH in less than 16 seconds.

      • Anandakos says

        They do it now pulling away from Rainier Avenue station in the midst of mixed traffic. Why would having other transit operators being the other drivers be harder?

  6. Martin H. Duke says

    I think we’re a long way from having to kill East Link. At the moment we’re just talking about eliminating extras like the Bellevue tunnel. Were that not enough, there’s tons of scope to save by delaying completion, shortening the line, and deferring stations in the Bel-Red area.

    • Anandakos says

      Martin,

      I’m not talking about “having” to kill it. Choosing to kill it is the point.

      • Charles says

        We don’t want to give Mr. Freeman any ideas now. Next thing you know you’ll start seeing TV reports about the dire subarea budget…

    • Anandakos says

      The post above (about truncating East Link at Overlake Hospital) has some possible merit budget wise, but it makes Link’s future success even more dependent on feeder buses. The only significant Park’n’Ride facility on it would be at South Bellevue.

      I seriously doubt projections that people will get on a bus in Issaquah to ride to South Bellevue and jump on a train that goes no faster from that point west than would their bus have. They’ll squeeze onto whatever remains of the point to point expresses.

      And that’s even though transferring works pretty well in the to-CBD commute because the rider is changing from a less-frequent to a more-frequent service. There would be a typically short wait.

      In the evening with the away from-CBD commute things would be much more problematic. Why take the hit on a transfer and suffer two waits — yes the first would be relatively short? It would make more sense to time one’s exit from the office to the departure of one of the direct expresses that will certainly remain.

      The only reason to consider East Link at all absent a strong commitment from Bellevue to build up the areas around the stations is because it eases the problems of distribution in the Seattle CBD.

      • Ryan says

        I would still imagine that a bus-to-link connection at South Bellevue would be faster during rush hour, especially on Mariners game days when westbound I-90 traffic backs up well past Factoria. Even though HOV lanes are being built, I suspect that I-90 will continue to have significant backups during rush hour.

      • Anandakos says

        Ryan,

        Please read the entire thread history. In the original post near the top I said “doesn’t it make sense to put a two-way busway in the reversible lanes instead of a two-way rail line?”. The buses would not be competing with private vehicles.

      • says

        Ah, but what if there is no Express bus into Seattle and because of that the Express bus to the Link station comes twice as often? Do you think they would use it then?

      • Anandakos says

        Velo,

        Given your hypothetical, of course some would. But you can be double darn betcha sure that there will still be direct expresses from the Issaquah and Eastgate Park and Rides in the Link era. People will demand them, and they will get them.

    • says

      How does delaying completion drive the cost down? I can only think of one thing off the top of my head that says the reverse: equipment rental. If you had originally planned to have task X done in 5 weeks and you’re now expected to do it in 7 weeks, you now have to rent that backhoe for 2 extra weeks, increasing the cost of that backhoe by 40%.
      Labor I don’t really get. Say it would take 10 workers to complete task X in 5 weeks, or 2,000 man hours. Stretch that out to 7 weeks, and you’re at about 7.14 workers for the same amount of work hours. Does that actually save money?

      • Bruce Gray says

        Delay does not drive costs down. It drives down expense. Yes, you have to take inflation and labor market cost fluctuations into account but the general principal is the less you spend, the more you save. When you have saved enough to sell the bonds to pay for the work, you get to work.

  7. Bruce Gray says

    Here’s why East Link is steel instead of rubber. I-90 will be at or above capacity soon – both directions, both peaks. There is no capacity for the number of buses needed to meet that need once you got them off the bridge on either side. Building rail ROW to meet the capacity/needs is cheaper in the long run. Here’s the “Purpose and Need” chapter from the East Link Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

    • Norman says

      I-90 is nowhere near capacity. One bus takes up to 90 SOV’s off the road. Adding buses reduces the number of vehicles on roadways while increasing capacity. Adding 60 buses per hour on I-90 could remove as many as 5,400 cars per hour. Even if it actually only removed 2,000 cars per hour, trading 2,000 cars/hour for 60 buses/hour obviously greatly reduces congestion while maintaining, or increasing the number of people per hour on that roadway.

      At either end of the bridge, buses can fan out in many different directions. They don’t all need to go to downtown Seattle or downtown Bellevue. But even in each downtown there is more then one street through downtown which those buses can use. Cary Moon claims that the downtown street grid has LOTS of unused capacity — enough to get rid of the viaduct and not replace it with anything other than surface streets.

      Also, the number of lanes on the I-90 bridge can be increased, and is going to be increased, to 4 lanes in each outer span, instead of the current three.

      Another thing not being discussed in this thread is the likeliehood that I-90 will be tolled in the not-too-distant future. Tolling reduces the number of vehicles, and increases the number of passengers/vehicle, thus reducing congestion while increasing the number of people using the highway at the same time: fewer vehicles per hour with more passengers per vehicle. Tolling is a good way to encourage car-pooling and van-pooling, which increases the number of passengers per vehicle. One van can replace up to 15 SOV’s.

      • Charles says

        And the area is going to add how many hundreds of thousands of people (if not millions) in the next 30 years?

        I-405 even with the modest enhancements will continue to be clogged and will reach saturation. Bellevue is planning to extend it’s downtown core east across the freeway with additional zones for high rise condos. There is going to be a lot more people in the I-90 corridor as far east as North Bend and Fall City.

        Also, lets not forget that rail is one of the best ways to reduce consumption of fossil fuels and unless the agencies make a commitment to converting their entire fleets to alternative fuels, rail wins out on that score.

      • Norman says

        So, you refuse to even consider that tolling on all the major highways in our area, especially during peak hours, will reduce the number of vehicles on those highways, while increasing the number of passengers per vehicle, thus moving more people per lane with less congestion?

        Or you just prefer to pretend that that will not happen?

      • Bernie says

        Comment by Norman
        2010-08-07 14:48:00

        I-90 is nowhere near capacity.

        Not the point. What Bruce is pointing out is that there is no way to deliver the passengers DT via bus. It’s what happens when the I-90 HOV lane ends. We have a very similar situation at Montlake. Won’t matter if they pave the arboretum and put a lid over the Cut. Can’t get through the Pacific/Montlake Triangle. What’s needed in both cases is transit lanes that aren’t congested all the way into the destination. I think in Montlake converting two of the existing four lanes to HOV 3+ does the job. The expense is rebuilding the Montlake Flyer Stop to provide that direct access. I-90 to DT is a lot harder (i.e. more expensive). You would have to build new ROW and the existing “bus way” through SODO would need major investment. Guess what, it needs it anyway and should be part of the viaduct removal plan. Likewise DT is going to need a transit mall for service transit. The logical choice seems to be 3rd Ave. Maybe long term a new bus tunnel under 5th Ave. The bus lanes from I-90 to DT and a new bus tunnel could be future ROW for rail. As for the I-90 bridge it’s self; if the vehicle lanes are reduced from 10 to 8 then yes. One HOV lane each direction is going to result in a clogged artery. OK if you’re one of the lucky few that can use Link.

      • Norman says

        You are wrong. There is room for more buses in both downtown Seattle, and downtown Bellevue. Especially since adding buses takes cars off the city streets, thus freeing up even more room for those buses.

        Where do you think all those thousands of cars per hour on the I-90 bridge go at either end of the bridge? If you replace even 30 cars with just one bus, don’t you think removing 30 cars makes room for one more bus?

      • says

        “Especially since adding buses takes cars off the city streets, thus freeing up even more room for those buses.”

        Only if people fill those buses and you live in a closed system where other people don’t jump in their cars to fill the newly freed up lanes.

      • Norman says

        How do you know that? The significant amount of work they are doing on rails, etc., is adding to ST’s costs. Plus, ST added a lot of security personnel after the tunnel fight earlier this year, which has raised their operating costs, if they are honest about it. We won’t know for sure until after this year ends, and we see if ST counts all the added costs of operating Link which were not in the budget for 2010.

      • says

        “The operating cost of Link trains per boarding is higher than for ST express buses.”

        Maybe that’s because Link is only a year old and is still growing it’s ridership. As it does, the variable cost of adding a new rider is almost zero. (A *tiny* bit of electricity and that’s it). As you like to point out, there is lots of room for ridership to grow so as Link adds riders, it’s cost per boarding goes *down*.

        On the other hand, ST Express Buses have been growing their ridership for over a decade. Most peak routes are at or above their desired capacity so adding more passengers will require additional buses, more drivers, and a lot more diesel fuel (or CNG if it’s a Pierce Transit route).

        In short, for the foreseeable future, adding passengers to Link increases revenues while barely increasing costs. Adding more bus passengers will add to revenues a bit but will add to costs even more.

      • Zed says

        “Plus, ST added a lot of security personnel after the tunnel fight earlier this year, which has raised their operating costs, if they are honest about it.”

        The number of security personnel is the same as before the incident, they have just switched security companies. They had security in the tunnel before Link, so it’s not an operating cost that is unique to light rail.

      • Norman says

        There were a lot more security personnel on Link trains after the tunnel fight. It may be that Sound Transit is not paying the cost for those added security people, but there absolutely were a lot more security personnel in the tunnel and on Link trains after the incident than before it.

      • Sherwin Lee says

        Portland’s mature system expends a smaller marginal amount for MAX than it does for its buses. Twist it anyway you can, buses incur a greater operating expense.

      • Nathanael says

        All the evidence shows that the buses coming off the bridge do need to go to downtown Seattle (because that’s where the vast majority of people are going); that even with the new directional bus lanes, I-90 across the bottleneck over the water will remain full; that if I-90 is tolled, traffic will fall, but so will total travel because it’s a bottleneck (and we *do* want people to get to work, don’t we?) — that running lots of buses is more expensive than running a few trains; et cetera.

        Trains are *ideal* for crossing tight bottlenecks with high volumes. It’s a no-brainer to run trains across the I-90 bridge. The fact is that, despite the dire claims of some, people *will* go to the South Bellevue P&R and switch to the train to cross the bridge. This is just the sort of thing which happens with natural bottlenecks like this.

      • Norman says

        That is ridiculous. Much of the traffic over the I-90 bridge heading west in the afternoons, goes to southbound I-5.

        Some of it goes to First Hill and Capital Hill, and other neighborhoods east of I-5 without going through the downtown business district.

        Some of that traffic uses the new offramp to Edgar Martinez Drive, and then heads south on 1st Ave. S., or even north to get on the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

        I drive over the I-90 floating bridge about 2 round trips per week. I know where that traffic goes on the west end. You, apparently do not.

        You don’t seem to even understand the way tolls work — they encourage people to carpool and vanpool. They reduce the number of vehicles, but they don’t reduce the number of people (total travel) — there are just more people per car. People stop driving alone, because the tolls make trips alone too expensive. So, people will still be able to get to work, of course, just with 2 or 3 people in each car, instead of so many SOV’s.

        One 4-car Link train every 9 minutes is not “high volume.” Link light rail is not a “high-volume” system. The ridership ST is predicting for East Link in 2030 is not “nigh volume.” The number of people ST is projecting East link would carry over the I-90 bridge in the center 2 lanes is a lot less that a freeway can carry in two lanes in buses, vans and carpools.

      • Nathanael says

        You got percentages on where the traffic is going? Some Department of Transportation *may* actually have measured the car counts.

        Tolling does cause some carpooling, and tolling is probably worthwhile. But have you considered how many people will simply rat-run through Renton via untolled I-405? Particularly anyone headed *south*.

      • Norman says

        If people “rat-run” through Renton, does that not reduce congestion on the I-90 bridge, which is what we were discussing?

        By the way, the South Bellevue park and ride is already always full from people driving there and switching to BUSES. Trains are not necessary to get people to use the park and rides on the east side. They fill park and rides to take BUSES.

      • Transit Guy says

        Sheezsh. This thread has become troll-city. No matter how many SOVs are taken off the freeway be each bus/train, it still doesn’t eliminate congestion, or even much reduce it. Reason of course is that for every commuter who leaves their SOV at home and gets on transit, the “hole” they left on the freeway is promptly filled up by a new commuter — at least when the economy is functioning normally (and I hope nobody is looking at the Great Recession to reduce traffic congestion…)

  8. eddiew says

    in response to the fiscal reality, projects may be delayed; more years would collect more revenue in each subarea. in sound move, projects were delayed and deleted as they cost more than expected. in ST2, revenue is the first issue.

    a reasonable capacity for a married pair Link car is 150; 200 would be a crush load. a four-car train has a very high capacity: 600. with a five-minute headway and 12 trips per hour, that is a hefty 7,200 per hour or more than the north corridor, let alone the modest east corridor will require in the next two deacades.

    capacity is only one factor. capacity does not attract riders. the lack of capacity may repell riders. the transit attributes of frequency, speed, and reliability attract riders.

    if east link is delayed for fiscal or political reasons, it could make sense for ST to actullay accelarate some other projects: the third phase of R8A on I-90, the HOV lanes on Bellevue Way SE that they may have agreed to with Bellevue, and improved Route 550 service frequency. the longer the third phase of R8A is delayed, the longer the reverse peak direction riders of ST routes 550 and 554 will sit in congestion.

    the projections of I-90 capacity could be recalculated with dynamic tolling. the law of demand cannot be repealed or ignored.

  9. Evergreen Railfan says

    These new revenue forecasts are NOT a problem for E. Link. The 8/08 East King subarea revenues estimates through 2023 called for using $2,045M in ST2 taxes. The new estimates are that there’ll be over $3B in E. King tax revenues over that period. That’s plenty of cushion, even if construction costs don’t come in less than those estimated as of 8/08. The agency learned from Sound Move, and planned for lots of extra tax revenue.

  10. Cindy says

    Instead of spending time calling each other liars wouldn’t our time be better spent calling Sound Transit the liars that they are?

  11. lazarus says

    Ya, for some reason it seems that the trolls have suddenly come out – must have something to do with that CME even the other day…..

    Don’t feed the trolls and they will eventually go away.

    But kudos to the North King subarea for keeping it’s revenues up relatively well. That means that LR to Northgate and Lynnwood should be relatively un-impacted, and that will certainly bring a lot of riders into the system – not to mention even more growth and economic vitality to North King.

  12. Anc says

    Hmmm… looking at the shortfalls in another way, is this an indication that Seattle’s economy has taken less of hit due to this recession than it’s suburbs?

    • Sean says

      Anc –

      The updated tax revenue forecast trend lines holding steadier for N. King are attributed to the higher percentage of households there with one or more government employees.

  13. Sean says

    Anc –

    The full Conway Report speaks to this difference. It’s not a function of what you theorized (“Seattle’s economy has taken less of hit due to this recession than it’s suburbs”). These projections don’t look at the present, they look forward 14 years.

    Basically the big downward change to the revenue projection compared to 12 mos. ago on the eastside is attributable to lowered private sector job growth projections. And no, Microsoft is not the only player to blame. Although the overall economic activity levels on the eastside and Seattle going forward essentially will be the same, the higher percentage of households with one or more government employees in Seattle shelters that subarea in terms of revenue capacity. In contrast, the eastside has a significantly higher percentage of households without government employees (per the census data). As you must be aware, the consensus outlook for private sector employment everywhere in the Urban West has deteriorated over the past twelve months. Fortunately for the N. King subarea the relatively high percentage of “government employee households” will offset the effects of that deterioration.

    • Anc says

      Do you have a link to this report? All I am finding for “Conway Report” is a study of libraries in England.

    • joshuadf says

      I don’t get it. If revenue is down won’t government employment decline too? For example at UW where I work the humanities have already been hit very hard by state budget cuts, though ARRA grants came through for the research side.

  14. Brent says

    Thank you to ST for not giving free transfers to cash fumblers any more.

    How long will it take for Metro to follow their lead?

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