News Roundup: Petitions

"Link, SB SODO Station, 4:39pm, Monday", by Oran

This is an open thread.


  1. kwakiudl says

    News from Cental link…We as operators (drivers) have been told starting in October that car cuts will be made at night and on weekends. So if any of you have been wanting to ride or get photos of single car consist trains, here is your chance. 2 car trains will be cut to one car trains in the Pine Street stub starting at 7:30pm weeknights, and we will send out single car trains weekends if no special event is happening that day.

    Also note that all the LRVs are getting new sun visors, replacing the visors with full width pull down blinds. The old visors moved left and right on tracks and ball berrings, and kept getting stuck and couldn’t move.

    • alexjonlin says

      Is it cheaper to operate single-car trains? It doesn’t seem like it would be, but I suppose there’s a little extra cost involved with security and maintenance? And will they keep two-car trains on weeknights when there are events then, as it sounds like they will do on weekends?

  2. kwakiudl says

    Oh, before you ask…We were told the car cuts were to cut costs and to get more maintaince time on the vehicles

  3. Lightning says

    I, a Ballard resident, had hoped I would be able to commute by rail before I retired. It won’t happen. As much as I would like it, I realize that for any number of reasons, a Sounder station in Ballard isn’t very feasible. But I could still dream, right? It still amazes me, however, that save KSS, there is no Sounder station within the city limits.

  4. Geoff says

    I live on 24th Ave NW in Ballard and it would take me almost as long to drive to Shilshole to board the train as it would to drive downtown. When you add in the time time on the train it becomes a wash with taking the 18x.

    The problem is that no one lives near where they want to build the station. It does not make a whole lot of sense.

    • barman says

      Exactly. But it would definitely make a trip to Golden Gardens a lot easier…

      Interesting what John Niles said though:

      “200 to 240 riders additional riders at a Ballard Station on top of the Sounder North Line ridership of 1,000 to 1,600 is a growth of 12 to 24 percent, a seemingly substantial boost for the now very poorly utilized service from Everett to Seattle.”

      A 12 to 24 percent boost in ridership is nothing to shake a stick at. That, combined with a stop at Broad Street could make North Sounder more useful.

    • d.p. says

      The article was somewhat confusing about where the potential site would be. It kept mentioning Golden Gardens, whereas I’ve always had the impression that the hypothetical station site was to be historic station location between Market and 57th.

      The latter location is an exceedingly easy walk from Downtown Ballard. It’s about 11 minutes — only 2 minutes further than the RapidRide/ex-monorail station intended to serve central Ballard. It’s a walk I’d happily do in any type of weather in exchange for a <8-minute train ride into the city, except…

      The problem, of course, is that Sounder North barely runs. Unless that should ever happen to change, there really is no point to building the Shilshole stop.

      • Lightning says

        Years ago I attended meetings when the provisional Ballard station might have been more likely to become reality. We were told that the Seattle Parks Department had nixed any plan to build a station at Golden Gardens [Park]. The idea was to then build it farther south, but some neighbors complained about potential parking issues on their streets. The Ballard Terminal Railroad even “considered” some kind of shuttle between downtown and a Sounder station as a “possibility”–to draw more passengers. Or even a water taxi to Shilshole (supposedly from Bainbridge)–all kinds of pie in the sky ideas when the Sounder hadn’t even begun to roll and people’s imaginations took hold. I personally liked the GG idea, in spite of, because it has a straight track, large (unused during the week) parking lot and an already existing underpass.

    • says

      With the new time gains in the Interbay and Edmonds double tracking, the extra couple of minutes for a Ballard Station wouldn’t slow the train down from the original run times.

      Far fewer people live near the Tukwila Sounder station but there is still a station. Same with Kent. And really most of the south end stations. They’re in industrial areas. Mukilteo is difficult to walk to from residential areas. Despite being out of the way, people still drive to all those stations. Build it and they will come.

      As for the existing buses, adding any additional capacity over the ship canal is never a bad thing. 200 riders? That’s an extra 5-6 buses worth of capacity in each direction per day. Cyclists could bike to the station, use the Sounder instead of the narrow Ballard Bridge, and cycle to where they need to go from KSS.

      • Geoff says

        Yes but those areas are also much further from downtown. Like I said, for anyone who drives, the gain is almost zero.

        And for Ballard bus commuters, why would you drive out to Shilshole to take a train when you can get on the bus by walking, and have more or less the same trip time?

        Look, I am very big proponent of rail serving Ballard, I just don’t think this is the ideal solution.

      • Martin H. Duke says

        Those people will be much better served by busing to Lynnwood and then getting on North Link.

      • says

        Not unless you have something that can bypass all the traffic from Ballard to the UW. It can take 20-30 minutes (sometimes more) to get from the 44’s terminal in Ballard to 15th Ave NE.

      • Mike Orr says

        The 45th corridor is another high-priority item. I guess it or 50th needs a limited-stop bus, with bus bulbs and things, until we can get rail there.

    • Mike Orr says

      Golden Gardens? That would be nice for people going to the beach but… the yacht clubs around are avid rail commuters? People will walk up the extremely steep switchback from the station to their houses on 32nd? Those in the Market Street area will (drive|take a bus) to Golden Gardens to catch the train downtown?

      • Andreas says

        That was a premature submission… In full: How does it take you as long to go <2.5 miles (the greatest possible distance from 24th to Golden Gardens) within Ballard as it does to go from Ballard to Downtown?

  5. Martin H. Duke says

    I think the real reason you won’t see a Sounder Station in Ballard (or indeed, anywhere in Seattle or Shoreline besides KSS and Broad St.) is that it would come out of North King subarea funds that are needed to build Link, and would probably involve North King chipping in on operations that are currently entirely covered by Snohomish County.

    That, and the fact that ridership isn’t that great.

  6. Anc says

    And we’re back to a chicken and egg problem.

    Is the demand there to put in new stations until we expand frequency?

    Is the demand there to increase frequency until we put in new stations?

    I honestly don’t know, but considering all the other options for getting around the city, I think Sounder would need to have nearly all day service, both directions for more incity stops to be worthwhile.

  7. alexjonlin says

    Hm it’s not clear if the Ballard resident who wants a Sounder stop there has talked to Sound Transit about it… he says “all that is needed is a light to make the trains stop, a bus stop-sized shelter and a ticket puncher” but that’s definitely not true. It would take a little investment, but I think, especially if they were able to procure some kind of grant to get most of the funding, it would be a fine idea. I get it, for the vast majority of Ballardites, taking the bus straight Downtown will still be faster; this is not meant to serve you, this is meant to serve those few people for whom it would be faster to take the train. Also, it’s near the end of the Burke Gilman, so they could probably get plenty of cyclists from Downtown Ballard to take the train. For transit connections, they could extend the 44 out there, but that would require another half mile or so of wire in each direction, so maybe they could just align the 46 schedule in each direction with the Sounder, helping people commuting from Ballard to Downtown and from the north to Ballard.
    So basically, I think it’s a pretty good idea, as long as they could find some partner in funding it.

    • says

      A Ballard actually makes brilliant sense because it short cuts around all the traffic funneling Eastward on 65th and 45th to get to the corridors that take people across the ship canal downtown (car or bus…or LINK).

      So, traffic would flow to the West where people can park, get on a train and speed downtown. And from downtown they can get to the east side.

    • Mike Orr says

      Extending the 44 to Shilshole or Golden Gardens wouldn’t be a bad idea. It kind of stops arbitrarily and doesn’t serve the Locks or the businesses around there. There should be full-time transit to the major tourist attractions and recreational spots.

      Changing the 46 from infrequent to mediocre would not be as good as extending the 44, because of the differences in frequency and the need to transfer. Only if the 46 were made into a full-time Fremont-Ballard-Golden Gardens route would that make sense.

  8. says

    Why Suburbs, Not Cities, Are the Future

    This article originally appeared at Foreign Policy Joel Kotkin is executive editor of and is a distinguished presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University. He is author of The City: A Global History. His newest book is The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, released in Febuary, 2010.

    And that’s not such a bad thing. Ultimately, dispersion — both city to suburb and megacity to small city — holds out some intriguing solutions to current urban problems. The idea took hold during the initial golden age of industrial growth — the English 19th century — when suburban “garden cities” were established around London’s borders. The great early 20th-century visionary Ebenezer Howard saw this as a means to create a “new civilization” superior to the crowded, dirty, and congested cities of his day. It was an ideal that attracted a wide range of thinkers, including Friedrich Engels and H.G. Wells.

    More recently, a network of smaller cities in the Netherlands has helped create a smartly distributed national economy. Amsterdam, for example, has low-density areas between its core and its corporate centers. It has kept the great Dutch city both livable and competitive. American urbanists are trying to bring the same thinking to the United States. Delore Zimmerman, of the North Dakota-based Praxis Strategy Group, has helped foster high-tech-oriented development in small towns and cities from the Red River Valley in North Dakota and Minnesota to the Wenatchee region in Washington State. The outcome has been promising: Both areas are reviving from periods of economic and demographic decline.

  9. says

    Personal Transit Systems (PTS) get Greener and Cleaner…ready to go in 2012

    Hyundai To Sell Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars In 2012

    In a bid to one-up their competition, Hyundai has announced that they will sell hydrogen fuel cell cars starting in 2012 – three years before Toyota, Honda and the rest of the competition. Seeing that renewable energy is becoming decidedly cheaper and that hydrogen fuel cell cars are more commercially viable than they were a year ago, Hyundai has said that will deliver the world’s first series production fuel cell vehicle in 2012, with 500 hydrogen vehicles rolling off the line that year and more afterwards.

    Read more: Hyundai To Sell Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars In 2012 | Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World

    • Transit Guy says

      Hydrogen fuel cell cars, electric cars, wind-up cars, whatever they’re powered by, STILL require roads and highways to operate on and parking spaces at each end of each trip.

      Until they make a magic car, major shortcomings of commuting by private automobile will still be with us.

      • says

        What about houses and apartments?

        When people are at work, they can be empty.

        What a bunch of wasted space. It must cost trillions to have all these empty bedrooms while people are at work.

        Just like parking spaces.

    • Nathanael says

      Fantasy. I will bet anyone real money that hydrogen fuel cell cars will not become commercially significant in my lifetime. I doubt Hyundai will even *SELL* that car.

      Battery cars are another matter.

  10. d.p. says

    It has to be vented.

    To all the Metro defenders:

    I just can’t understand what goes through the collective minds that operate a system which allows intoxicated, urine-soaked, more-than-vaguely-threatening whackjobs ride around freely all night without paying but treats someone like myself, who pays full price every month for a pass and just wants to get home (which is taking two full hours because your system sucks), with suspicion and derision because I dared ask for the rear door so that I didn’t have to get off the bus with the aforementioned whackjob who had just chased me from my seat.

    Let’s review:
    Fare enforcement = unimportant
    Behavioral cocde = unimportant
    “Front door only after 7” = the inviolable rule

    A serious [string of expletives] to tonight’s asinine #2 driver for this.

    Thanks for ruining another night, Metro!

    (To Mike Orr in particular, there’s a difference between making sure the poor don’t get penalized by a hypothetical replacement of all paper transfers with ORCA and giving carte blanche to every psycho to commandeer every bus crossing Belltown with their good-all-night transfer slips. This is simply not okay.)

    • says

      Comrade, you didn’t read the last Party Directive.

      The Seattle People’s Council directs you to to relocate yourself to a Sea Dru Nar shelter in Pike Place.

      The Five, Ten, and Twenty Year Agriculture Production Quotas must be met..and tractor production increased by 20 percent.

      • d.p. says

        John, I know your whole schtick here is to be an ideologue and polemicist, but I think you might actually not have such a negative impression of urban transit if you hadn’t spent your entire life in the orbit of a city with the most uniformly unpleasant example the U.S. has to offer.

        You wouldn’t think highly of cars if you’d never seen anything but a Pinto.

        You wouldn’t think highly of bread if you’d never eaten anywhere but Subway.

        I honestly don’t know what makes any Seattleites think this is okay. Vancouver, Portland, and San Francisco have psycho-transient problems at least as bad as ours (and perhaps worse) and have simply put their feet down about letting those populations become the dominant presence on their transit systems. In Seattle, they are essentially the expected “vibe-setters” on every night route and many mid-day buses.

        To those who would call this a necessary evil, part of offering a “public good
        :” WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. I know more people living here who would and have used transit as their primary mode in other cities who would sooner take a sharp stick in the eye than switch to Metro. Metro hemorrhages potential market share thanks to choices like this.

        Treat all your patrons like 2nd-class citizens and only 2nd-class citizens will choose to patronize you.

      • Zed says

        My commute’s quite pleasant, no urine-soaked junkies on my bus, just normal working stiffs. Maybe you should move to a better neighborhood.

      • d.p. says

        Those who only use Metro during rush hours (in a peak direction) don’t have a clue how much the presence of “unpleasants” dominates the rest of the time.

        I also get the sense that many of the blog regulars live on the Eastside or hold tech-oriented jobs there. You too have no idea how pervasive is the unseemly element on Seattle-proper Metro routes.

        Living in downtown Ballard, I’ve met more than a few actual homeless people who, despite their troubles, couldn’t possibly be more pleasant and lovely. This is not about throwing people in need off/under the bus. It’s about drawing a distinction between those who should be allowed to use public transit because they’re capable of doing so non-disruptively and those whose current behavior is tolerated here but wouldn’t be on any other transit system I can think of

        “Maybe you should move to a better neighborhood.”

        Or a city where stupidity doesn’t reign.

      • Zed says

        I’ve lived in downtown, Capitol Hill, the U-District, Belltown, Greenlake and Ravenna in the past 17 years, and lived car-less for quite awhile, even while working graveyard shifts. I have a pretty good idea of every side of life in Seattle, even the unseemly side. I was just trying to get you riled up – your egocentrism makes it all too easy.

      • Bernie says

        You’ve been everywhere man! Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota. Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota :=

      • d.p. says

        Yeah… wanting to be able to get around the city without being treated like the dregs of society makes me a total egocentrist. If truly what you think, maybe you should reevaluate your depressingly low expectations, Zed.

    • Mike Orr says

      I oppose the 7pm rule too. The Ride Free Area used to be 24 hours, so it was easy to remember to pay on the non-downtown side. But now it changes depending on the time of day, and even after years I still get confused because my mind thinks geographically, not temporally. Occasionally times I end up paying twice or just walking on or off because my subconscious is thinking, “That’s what I did last time or usually do.”

      The argument that front-door-only is more secure seems to be bogus. I never noticed any difference in misbehavior levels before and after the policy change. And other large cities open the back door full time, and some even insist you leave by the back door so the bus can get loaded quicker. It’s especially pathetic when out-of-towners get scolded, “Front door only!”, and they’re thinking, what a backward town Seattle is.

      We might as well eliminate the ride free area, since Metro will refuse to make it 24 hour again. One idea would be to replace it with free downtown circulator routes, one on 3rd from Intl Dist to Seattle Center, and one making a loop from Intl Dist to Yesler-Harborview-Swedish-Virginia Mason-Seneca-1st-Intl Dist. That would have a slightly larger area but it would serve the biggest tourist attractions (an overall advantage for the city), the steepest hills, and poor/disabled patients. One of the reasons Seattle cited for the Ride Free Area was to avoid needing extra buses for downtown circulators, but maybe it’s time to revisit that.

      • d.p. says

        Or, you know, maybe there could be readily-available 3- and 7-day ORCAs for tourists, and the urine-soaked junkies making threats under their breath will just have to walk those <1-mile distances.

    • Mike Orr says

      You’re overgeneralizing. The urine-soaked junkies are limited to a few routes: 3, 4, 7, 106, 358, etc. I rarely see them on the 49, 71/73/73, 30, 43, 10, 11, 14, etc. Maybe the Belltown routes get them.

      • d.p. says

        And enough of the time on any other route I ever take that one can never take a casual journey without having a reasonable expectation that you may encounter it.

        Again, name me any other city where that sort of thing is a reasonable expectation (rather than an occasional unpleasant exception).

    • Anc says

      This would probably be best in the Sunday Open Thread, but as I’m leaving on a trip tomorrow and need reading for it, here it goes:

      What would be the best beginner’s book for New Urbanism/TOD/etc?

      • Mike Orr says

        The “Option of Urbanism” is a good introduction, along with the Jane Jacobs classic “The Death and Life of Great American Cities”. There’s also a book focusing on New Haven, CT, but I don’t remember the title offhand. After those read Jacobs’ “The Economy of Cities” and “Wrestling with Moses” (a 3rd-party biography of her life and struggle with Robert Moses). There are a few others but I can’t think of them offhand. But “The Option of Urbanism” is the best comprehensive introduction. You can search my previous comments for an overview.

  11. Bernie says

    Parking “Cash Out”

    Enforce the existing State of California parking “cash out” law (to lease out the value of parking spaces) at the municipal level in cities where a significant share of employers lease parking.
    Uh, any transit, urban planner, wonk types want to put this into plain English? Sounds good, Mom, apple pie, Ford :=

    • Nathanael says

      Oh. What this means is that any employee who is given “free parking” by their employer is given the right to refuse the free parking and get the cash equivalent value instead. When the employer is actually leasing the parking from or to a third party, it’s easy to work out the cash equivalent value.

      (Employers who don’t lease their parking from anyone else or to anyone else are exempt as they would have no way of figuring out the value of the parking.)

  12. Belleviewer says

    What if we used the existing and separate railroad right of way from Golden Gardens, past the Locks, along the Ship Canal, through downtown Ballard, crossing over the rail bridge just east of the Ballard Bridge and continuing on down Westlake to join the SLUT (with stops at Golden Gardens, South Shilshole, Downtown Ballard, East Interbay, North Queen Anne, SPU, Fremont Bridge and Westlake.

    Uh oh, sorry, I missed that. When did we abandon all of that? 30 years ago?

    And it’s now used by 6 homeless guys and 4 bikers each and every day?

    Cool — good decision guys.

  13. Bob says

    Anyone notice the blimp that’s floating around? I see it most days over Lake Washington and 3:30 pm and again over Queen Anne about 4:20. Just noticed it a week ago but seen it every clear day. What’s up with that and can I get a blimp ride?

    • Mike Orr says

      I did back in the 80s. It’s good for downtown Bellevue but a long walk to east Bellevue. Lately I’ve noticed it would make a good route for Renton, but you’d need onward transportation to the residential area or from the Kent industrial district.

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