1. mic says

    Ah, our beloved ‘Spines’ of rail, with all the infill potential of a sewer system.
    So where’s our beloved Link system going to drop us off, with lots of room for growth?
    Broadway? Sure, we’ll doze the homes within a half mile radius.
    UW? Next to a freeway and lake.
    Brooklyn? Which buildings do you plan to demolish?
    Mercer Is? Good luck there.
    So. Bellevue P&R? Homes, freeways and swamps, and parked cars for the day.
    Anything along SR520? Some, but not much.
    Bel-Red? We shall see.
    Anything along I-5 after Northgate? I wish the NEW City of Lynnwood well.
    How about all those stations south of Henderson Stn? (Me Bad!)

    • Mike Orr says

      “Brooklyn? Which buildings do you plan to demolish?”

      None, the neighborhood is already highly walkable. You can ask hundreds of thousands of students and residents over the years. The only thing that has been missing is a subway station. It’s a fallacy to say stations are useful only if they encourage new development. If the development has already occurred (as in the U-district, Ballard, Fremont, Capitol Hill, etc), then you need a station now, regardless of whether new development occurs. That also applies to Northgate, where you can already walk to the mall, Northgate North, a library, a gym, a park, several restaurants, and a medical clinic. (Although the walk is longer and less pleasant than ideal TOD, the fact remains that you don’t “need” a car to get to any of these places from the TC or an apartment.)

      • mic says

        That’s my point with these locations like Broadway and Brooklyn. They’re nearly fully built out. What you see is what you get – mostly. Yes, Link will be well used in those locations.
        Where’s the station in S.Lake Union where development is occurring?
        How about along HWY99 in N.Seattle/SnoCo just ripe for the Arlington model?
        Building Link along freeways nearly ensures a two seat ride for most everyone whether they arrive by car, bus or bike. The walkable city is nearly non-existent at the majority of Link stops when built out.

      • Transit Voter says

        Look at all that surface parking between 45th and 50th in the U. District. Perfect candidates for TOD, mic.

      • mic says

        OK, I did. It’s about 1.8 M.SF if built to 12 stories, so that’s roughly 1500 DU’s. I didn’t think Audi wanted to move so left them out.
        It’s significant, which is why I said ‘nearly fully built out’.

      • David Seater says

        At Broadway, there is a massive new development nearing completion on the adjacent block. Within a few more blocks are several new, large developments that have recently finished. Several more are planned, including on the station site itself. I would not be surprised if many of the small houses near the station do get bulldozed in the next decade and replaced with apartments or townhouses.

  2. says

    Have you ever looked at any of the development around the Sounder stations especially Kent ( of course ) but also recently Auburn?

    We essential have that Arlington model in place right now — you can find condos in Auburn for example, some in very nice reconditioned classic brick and in town buildings, just a block or two from the Sounder station — which is also a bus hub.

    • asdf says

      The Sounder schedule is so limited, it is not possibly to plausibly argue any development to be “oriented” around it. At best people that live there and work downtown can use it for work, the occasional Mariner’s game, and nothing else. And if you do work downtown, you could live in Capitol Hill or Lower Queen Anne instead and get to work in the same amount of time on foot.

      • says

        Yes, but life don’t begin and end “downtown”.

        In fact for us Kentians, with an events center and the Kent Station mall we have true “Transit Oriented Development” which means that the station becomes a destination in and of itself.

        Also, as I said, it’s a rich bus hub with 9 bays that are active all day and night 7 days a week.

        For example yesterday I attended the fantastic Kent Earthworks Bicycle Art Tour — an inauguration of a new marked bicycle trail with stops at our 4 Earthworks parks built by Bauhaus designers. There was entertainment at each stop.

        It was fantastic and something that people could do in and around Kent itself. At the end of it I used my ORCA and threw my bike on the 169 for the ride uphill.

      • Brent says

        Northgate’s sushi bar is much cheaper than Kent’s. I think that makes Northgate more attractive.

      • asdf says

        “Also, as I said, it’s a rich bus hub with 9 bays that are active all day and night 7 days a week.”

        The only bus route I can think of serving Kent with better than 30 minute headway outside of rush hour is the 150 weekdays and Saturday midday.

        And how many people in Kent actually use those buses? Anyone who wants to live without a car will have a much better time doing so in Seattle than in Kent and anyone in Kent with a car has little reason to let it sit there in the garage to ride the hourly bus instead. Granted, the buses in Kent are still useful for special situations, such as going to the airport or one-way trips home after a bike ride down the trail, or for that emergency ride home when a bike breaks down on the road, but saying the development in Kent is “transit-oriented” is a huge stretch when you look at the actual mode-choice statistics and compare it with places like Belltown or Capitol Hill.

      • says

        The 168/164/169 routes are all active outside of rush hour.

        On a given Saturday afternoon (much as yesterday) you will often find a crowd at those bays (as well as for the 150).

        (One of the transit analyses I’ve looked at showed that something like 50 percent of all bus trips begin and end in Kent.)

        You will also see people at transit (and walking and riding bicycles) along corridors such as the 104/108th, 256th Ave and Kent-Kangley Road.

      • Brent says


        Have you heard anything back from Metro about continuing the 169 on to Henderson Station, so riders along the 104th/108th/Benson corridor don’t face a forced bus transfer to get to downtown Seattle?

      • says

        asdf, I can honestly say Kent Station is VERY busy. Off-peak, it’s not 1000s like 5pm to 6.15pm, but it does have a steady stream all day, everyday.

    • Mike Orr says

      If South King County were like the Virginia DC suburbs…

      – Kent’s TOD would be several times larger and include East Hill (104th), with tens of thousands more residential units.
      – Southcenter would have a Link station connected directly to the mall and to an office tower.
      – There would be a Link line to Renton, and another to Southcenter and Kent, with an extension to Auburn under construction.
      – All these stations would have lots of apartments and businesses within walking distance.
      – In other words, it recreates the historic downtowns these cities used to have, but at a larger scale.

      • asdf says

        Once you get past Arlington, most of the stations in the Virginia DC suburbs do not have much in the way of homes or businesses within walking distance at all. Just a parking lot in the middle of nowhere and that’s it. And even if you want to walk to the station, their sidewalks are very narrow and poorly maintained compared to Seattle, and bike lanes are almost non-existent.

      • Mike Orr says

        Still, the DC metro system area has some twenty (!) urban villages that grew up around stations, which has decisively turned the trend in that direction. We should be so lucky.

      • says

        Luckily we’ve avoided all those monstrosities and proven that we can have a successful low density, horizontal infrastructure mixing the best of culture, business and healthful residences.

        Thus, in some sense, these Sounder TODs thumb their noses at the overbuilding of LINK north…prefiguring a new Rural Small Town Agrarianism that challenges the obsolete vertical density of “cities” of the 20th century past.

      • Paul Hoffman says

        Having lived in DC for three years now, the only urban villages in Virginia around the DC Metro are Arlington on the Rossyln-Ballston corridor, Pentagon-Crystal City north of the Airport, and Alexandria around King Street. Outside of that, there are a few urban villages in DC, mainly in Southeast and Northwest, Bethesda, and Silver Spring. Most of the DC Metro is suburban commuter rail. The cars even feel more like Sounder than they do a subway.

  3. Brent says

    Standards for TOD:

    1. TOD should be in the middle of nowhere. This helps shelter the residents from crime, and protect them from the slippery intrusion of mom-and-pop shops.

    2. Bus lines should make loop-de-loop stops to serve TOD. This serves as a deterent to residents of the main street filling up all the seats on the bus.

    3. There should be at least one free parking stall per housing unit at TOD. This is what is known as Personal Rapid Transit, and is far superior to buses. Extra stalls for hydrogen-fuel-cell cars are a nice marketing touch, and certainly cheaper than more archaic versions of PRT that involved expensive overhead wire, from which there was an epidemic of copper being stolen.

    4. The second-best format for funding TOD is with money that would otherwise have been wasted on bus service.

    5. The best format for TOD is the Tao of TOD: Whatever is already there is the highest and best use of that land. This achieves the goal of keeping the ethnic demographics of the neighborhood stable. Ideally, any neighborhood in Seattle should be at least 50% Duwamish. (See Pioneer Square for an example of how this principle works.)

  4. says

    Thanks for reminding us how good of a system Metrorail is. It made me go their website, where I discovered they have 42 Park and Ride lots, some with over 5000 spaces. If they are as smart and progressive of a system as the video suggests, and they believe in P&R lots, then that tells me P&R lots area smart thing to do.

      • says

        During weekday hours. I drove to the Franconia-Springfield P&R last week (I was coming up from southern Virginia)–for shame! Most of the P&Rs are on the outskirts. You’d be amazed how well used they are used even on Sunday! I’m just glad there aren’t any inner-urban P&Rs with significant capacity. They do however need to nix the one in Alexandria. There’s no excuse for it at King Street Station (not ours, Virginia’s).

    • asdf says

      They also charge for parking at their park-and-ride lots. I think weekday parking at a Metro station costs around $5 per day.

      • Michael Ragsdale says

        Having just visited DC, it’s $4.50 a day and you must pay using SmarTrip (no credit cards or cash accepted). I left the car at the hotel and took the 10 minute bus ride to the Metro station (Van Dorn to be specific) then hopped the train on into DC :)

    • says

      None of the Metro stops in Arlington provide any parking at all. Zero spaces! The P&R spaces you refer to begin after you leave Arlington, heading further into the suburbs, and on the outer reaches of the other lines. The sucess of Arlington’s walkable station neighborhoods is directly due to the lack of emphasis provided on station parking.

      The stations with park&rides, in general, are unwalkable wastelands.

      • says

        That is a fact. Nothing to see in Franconia-Springfield. The stations are pretty horrid too. I’ve been to Shady Grove as well. Desolate. These things have potential and they’re being completely shunned.

  5. Carl says

    Route 255
    On weekdays, one morning peak-period trip to downtown Seattle and one afternoon peak-period trip to the Brickyard P&R will be added to improve service frequency between the Kirkland TC and Seattle to every 8 minutes between 7:30 a.m. and 8:20 am, and 4:45 p.m. and 5:17 pm. Two eastbound and two westbound off-peak trips will be deleted.

    Gotta love the support for bus service now that 520 is tolled. Net loss of 2 trips. They deleted a couple of trips in Feb, too.

    • Brent says

      Service hours seem to have been shifted to the 218:

      “Route 218
      In preparation for the elimination of the Ride Free Area this fall, inbound trips to downtown Seattle will stop at Bay A instead of Bay B between International District and Westlake Tunnel Stations.

      Also, several Route 218 trips will be added to the morning and afternoon peak periods and schedule coordination will be improved.”

      (All inbound tunnel buses will deboard at the forward bus bays starting June 9.)

      • says

        “and schedule coordination will be improved”

        I hope that means all the 212’s will be scheduled to pick up a few minutes before the 218. I hate driving, and passengers hate riding, a 218 that pulls out in front of a 212.

      • Brent says

        How will the 218 passengers feel when the 218 is kicked out of the tunnel September 29?

      • Zed says

        I always thought the 218 should go on the surface with the other Issaquah buses, that would keep it from getting overloaded with Eastgate bound riders in the evening.

      • Brent says

        I’ll betcha the 212, 216, and 217 get kicked upstairs to rejoin the 218 in the middle of the winter pick, as an emergency administrative measure to get the tunnel moving again, with the concurrence of ST to waive the 180-day notification requirement.

      • John Slyfield says

        The 218 and the 301 have eviction notices from the tunnel. All others will remain.

      • says

        218 is staying in the tunnel. 212, 217 & 301 are being moved to the surface (2nd & 4th). 306, 308, 312 & 522 will move OB routing to 4th Av.

      • Brent says


        The administrative changes listed with the fall restructure now who 218 going upstairs, and 212 and 217 being unchanged.

    • Brent says

      Other platform-hour recipient routes include 71-73 on Sunday (or maybe this is just an interlining schedule improvement), 99 in the evenings just until the next pick, the 177 getting two more afternoon runs (though it takes a little following the math between the new 178 and deleted 196 to see if platform hours really did go up), and 180 evening service extension to Burien (as promised in the reinvestment proposal). But mostly, the pick is a bloodbath of deleted routes, as promised.

      For ST, 550 is getting new trips, and 577 is getting an extra morning northbound run. The big change is that the 578 is finally going all the way to Puyallup on Sundays (at the expense of express service between Puyallup and Tacoma every day henceforth) and getting more evening trips.

      Platform hours for I-90 peak runs, per run, are probably going up due to congestion, as you point out, so adding more I-90 trips means platform hours on I-90 are ballooning.

      Yes, it may be time to look at having express service from Bellevue to Seattle via SR 520.

      • asdf says

        The 71-73 are definitely winners from this (and it’s real platform hours not just interlining improvements – current combined headway on Sundays is 15 minutes), and all I have to say is that it’s way overdue. The 71-73 are the only routes I’ve seen where I’ve been multiple times passed up by a crush-loaded bus on a Sunday afternoon because there was simply no room for one more passenger.

      • PSF says

        Bellevue to Seattle via 520 isn’t realistic with current I-5 congestion.
        are there any proposals for two-way I-5 HOV, as on I90?

        Really wish I90 tolling was in the works.
        Which legislators are the current roadblock?

      • Michael Ragsdale says

        The Tacoma – Puyallup portion of the 578 is replaced by the “semi-express” PT #400, which runs all day on weekdays

      • Mike Orr says

        Increased frequency is better than nothing but they really should stand up the 71/72/73X on Sundays. It’s not like people are twice as likely to travel on Saturday than Sunday.

      • asdf says

        “Increased frequency is better than nothing but they really should stand up the 71/72/73X on Sundays.”

        I absolutely agree with you, but I’ll take what I can get.

      • Mike Orr says

        I guess I’d better qualify that “should”.

        Should(1) is what’s needed to fully match transit service against mobility needs and achieve maximum ridership, with less than 50% trips by car, and with many zero-car and one-car households.

        Should(2) is what Metro can achieve with its current budget, which has no room for more service hours but can consolidate service to make it more effective. I don’t expect Metro has money for 71/72/73X on Sundays, which is why they didn’t do it. But it would appear that Metro can replace the 157/158/159 with more trips on the 164/168/169 connecting to Sounder, and have hours left over to improve off-peak frequency and/or extend the 169 to Rainier Beach.

  6. says

    Elgan: Robots will soon deliver pizza
    Self-driving cars are about to be legalized in California. That same technology will enable the robot revolution.

    A driver sits in the driver’s seat without doing anything and a Google engineer in the passenger seat. This is a precaution and, it turns out, an unnecessary one. Google’s self-driving cars have driven hundreds of thousands of miles on public roads without a single accident while under computer control. In fact, the most dangerous thing about Google’s self-driving car is the human driver. Once he or she takes the wheel, the risk of accident increases.

    • phil says

      I like driving. I hate being driven by someone else, being a passenger in a car is very boring. Also, how is someone who almost never drives supposed to be able take over for the robot car when things go wrong? It’s the same problem we are already seeing with pilots who use autopilot all the time, except in emergencies when they supposed to jump in and take over. Except they no longer have the skills. At least robot car owners can just park and call for help.

      • Aleks says


        First, not everyone agrees with you. I much prefer being a passenger to driving. I find driving very stressful, whereas as a passenger, I can do all sorts of fun things, like listen to music, or read, or even just space out.

        Second, once driverless technology is sufficiently advanced (or rather, once it’s sufficiently well tested and the laws allow it), who’s to say that there needs to be a licensed driver at all? Driverless metros, like SkyTrain, have no driver on board, not even for backup.

        In many real ways, a driverless car is far safer than a human-driven one. Computers never get distracted.

        And anyway, cars are heavily computerized as it is. A computer breakdown would already lead to a crash. We crossed that bridge a while ago.

    • asdf says

      How good are robot drivers at stopping for pedestrians? I can only imagine the lawsuit potential if a software bug, or whatever else caused someone to get run over.

      • PhillipG says

        Google’s car seems to do a good job at stopping for pedestrians in the videos that Google has provided. They’ve driven it for more than 100,000 miles, including in San Francisco.

        To be an improvement, the software doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be a better driver than your average human being.

      • Lack Thereof says

        Generally speaking, from what I’ve seen of the DARPA Urban Challenge, they are too good at stopping for pedestrians, and are likely to stop for no apparent reason, waiting for an imaginary pedestrian or other obstacle to clear the roadway.

        I recall one of the (losing) vehicles from the webcast getting “stuck” at a stop sign, waiting for some imaginary obstruction to clear. Slowly, over the course of tens of minutes, other entrants dutifully lined up behind it at the stop sign, waiting for the car to negotiate the intersection.

        After tens of minutes of this, one of the vehicles stuck in line apparently decided that it had been mistaken, the other objects were not cars, but immovable obstacles to be navigated around. It then quite comically and gingerly crept out of line and around the car waiting in front of it, and tried to pull back into line between the two cars. There wasn’t enough room between the two cars, so it just kind stuck it’s nose in the gap, and waited there, half in and half out of the lane.

        After several minutes, the car made the same decision again, passing the next car in line, and continued this process 1 at a time until it finally passed the “stuck” car waiting at the intersection, and could proceed on the course.

      • Nathanael says

        “To be an improvement, the software doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be a better driver than your average human being.”

        See, that’s true in techno-geek world. But in the world of public acceptance, it’s just not true.

        If it were true, we’d have automated robot-driven trains on Link (yes, grade crossings and all), because they’ve been better than humans at driving trains for decades now.

        People *will not accept* robot drivers unless they are *much, much better* than humans. Unfortunate but true.

      • Gordon Werner says

        the real problem with robot/computer driven cars is not their ability to drive … it is the impossibility of being able to accurately predict what real human drivers will do 100% of the time. Unless 100% of vehicles on the road are driven by computer … problems will occur … possibly fatally so.

    • Lack Thereof says

      “X Ceedingly Bad Idea Prize” Announced for Autonomous LeMons Cars

      Emeryville CA–In a bid to eliminate the typical team’s weakest link, 24 Hours of LeMons, Inexplicably Presented by Car and Driver will begin taking driverlessautonomous vehicles immediately. Defined as computer-controlled, self-piloting mobile platforms, “autonomous vehicles” (AV) are not to be confused with “terrible hoopties whose idiot drivers bail out” (THWIDBO), of which the series has plenty already.

      To accelerate the shift from human drivers to the better-smelling silicon variant, LeMons has also instituted the X Ceedingly Bad Idea Prize, an award of one million nickels to the race’s first AV winner. Before being allowed to compete, AVs must demonstrate safety and on-track performance on par with those of regular LeMons teams, including the ability to ignore yellow flags; stop dead in mid-corner for no reason; never find the racing line; and argue irrationally when called in for penalties.

      While AV equipment is exempt from the series’ $500 price cap, both Google and Carnegie-Mellon quickly announced they’d go after the Prize using new systems based on such LeMons-appropriate technologies as wooden legs, Atari Pong consoles, GM Cross-Fire Injection, and string. Humans wearing C3PO costumes are ineligible.

      As an occasional LeMons racer myself, I would love to see a team do this. Navigating the congestion, vehicle/vehicle contact, and other assorted mayhem found in a typical LeMons race would be a real trial-by-fire for these autonomous systems, and it’s not like it would put the existing drivers in any more danger.

    • Nathanael says

      All true, and yet these will be banned in a couple of years.

      Because no technology is perfect. The first crash, and they’ll be banned. Even if they are 100 times safer than human-driven cars (and I’m sure they are).

  7. says

    The term TOD has been hijacked by rail enthusiasts. TOD has been going on for millennia. When they built the city of Babylon next to the Euphrates river, that was TOD. When towns popped up along side old trading routes, that was TOD. Since transit is defined as transportation from one place to another, humans naturally, and without encouragement, build near modes of transportation, be it a river, trail, road, or rail line. Don’t be fooled into believing something cannot be considered TOD if it’s not next to a rail line.

    • Mike Orr says

      TOD is the modern terminology for what was considered “common sense” until the 1940s. The difference is that now TOD is considered a specialized technique, whereas before the 1940s people would think it was insane to locate an important business center away from the main train station or a streetcar stop, or to put a supermarket or school over a mile away from where people lived, or to put houses in cul-de-sacs. The films “Futurama” and “The Magic Motorway” were a fantasy at the time and still are. Maybe it would work in some utopia, like how The Jetsons might work in some utopia, but in the real world you get into trouble if you depend too much on inputs of cheap energy and personal wheeled boxes for everybody to drive in.

      • phil says

        Don’t forget cheap labor, with stay at home mothers available to act as chauffeur for the kids and running all the errands during the day.

      • says

        TOD is some sense is a return to Main Street in small town America…at least as witnessed around the Sounder stations.

        We forget that this nation used to be 50% rural or more…the concentrated vertical urbism was a recent change, peaking in the 1940s.

        But when we say rural we also mean an intricate network of towns crisscrossed by rail networks.

        So, rather than a single center surrounded by a residential “sprawl” as they put it, we now see many many nodes of density populating and very wide area…and some singular clusters around transportation points.

        Eventually, these points, as in the case of Auburn, Northgate or Kent Station become places to be and go to in and of themselves, rather than just a Park n’ Ride to a downtown.

  8. Curt says

    Anyone remember the “Forward Thrust” bonds that were rejected by the voters back in 1968 and 1970? A big component of those were many miles of rail (ala Metrorail in dc). We would probably have a lot more of what you see in DC here if those had passed.

    • Atenhaus says

      Oh, the thought of what could have been…

      I would very much appreciate having a built-out heavy rail system completed years before I was born, as opposed to one that will be “completed” when I’m in my 40s.

    • says

      Look at the bright side. We don’t want to make Seattle too desirable a place to live, because people will then flood to this area and eventually it won’t be such a nice place to live. I look at all the cloudy days, lack of a good light rail system, the high cost of housing, etc., as a good thing. This place is special because it’s not overly crowded, so anything that keeps it that way is a positive thing.

      • Eric H says

        It worked very well, too. Forward Thrust was voted down, and hardly a soul has moved to Seattle since 1970.

      • GuyOnBeaconHill says

        Notice, however, that the 68 & 70 rail plans did not envision light rail to the airport!

      • Gordon Werner says

        notice … rail across I90 … and also notice how the Seattle Subway plan is almost identical. The route corridors have not changed much since Forward Thrust was proposed … which is why we need to build it starting now.

  9. Joseph Singer says

    Will OneBusAway ever be fixed? This morning trips from downtown to Capitol Hill all buses were “scheduled” and none were arriving. Scheduled evidently means little as well since none of the buses that were “scheduled” arrived or at least arrived at the scheduled time.

    • says

      Keep reporting problems via the interface, somebody is fixing them. My 249 data used to be horrible but it is generally reliable these days. I’ve seen some scheduling problems with the 550 as well that I’ve reported. Not sure if those have been fixed yet.

  10. SMP Belltown says

    That’s an interesting video. Sometimes it’s almost as though they’re describing the way some of Seattle’s bus routes connect residential neighborhoods with downtown and medical/service locations.

    Like, say, the way Route #2 connects residential streets on Queen Anne with (retirement) condos in the Belltown/Regrade area, businesses in the downtown core, and some of the medical centers on Renton Hill / <strike / First Hill in Seattle.

    • Mike Orr says

      It is like that. The difference is it’s this is in the suburbs, and almost every suburban metro station in Virginia has walkable villages like this. The residents have found it desirable, the developers have found it profitable, so there’s really no question about building an automobile-scaled neighborhood or office park next to a metro station anymore. Even Rosslyn station, which is probably the worst in terms of walkability (only auto-oriented hotels around it), has a Costco hidden in a middle floor of a building on a raised walkway from the station.

    • Mike Orr says

      There are two significant business/residential centers outside the metro system: Reston Town Center and Tyson’s Corner. RTC is more like what the TOD in Kent, Burien, and Renton would be if they were bigger; it’s called “transit-ready development” because it was built before rapid transit came, as an encouragement to extend a subway to it. Ballard is similar, although Ballard is an old neighborhood and RTC is recent (1990s I think). Tyson’s Corner is the opposite: an automobile-oriented monstrosity like Southcenter. There’s a longstanding regional priority to extend the metro to RTC, which would make a good situation better, and a recent priority to extend it even to Tyson’s Corner, which would make a bad situation less bad.

      • Charles says

        This STB post from Jan 2010 links to a PBS video that includes a segment on the development in Tyson’s corner. I’ll say something heretical here and say, we could have catalyzed the transformation of Southcenter/Tukwila by simply routing Link 2 miles.

  11. Mike Orr says

    That Sounder thing.

    The Kent Station shopping center, Kent Commons, ShoWare Center, and the proposed residential development all fit some definitions of “transit-oriented development” because they were built around a transit center with Sounder and the 150. However, the missing piece compared to Arlington is full-time frequent transit, particularly rapid transit. At minimum this would mean making the 150 15-minute frequent until 10pm seven days a week. Even better would be a Link line running every 10 minutes. But if you want to go cheap, you at least have to upgrade the 150, and do something about its hour-long travel time.

    Urbanists will not move to Kent because of the lack of full-time frequent transit, even with the walkable shopping center. Kent residents who want full-fledged TOD note that Sounder does them no good off-peak, and the 150’s frequency is spotty. As for the 169 and 168, the 169 is *half-hourly* and the 168 is *hourly*. That’s not how to get more of your residents on transit. The people who are riding the 169 now have no other choice (many of them are poor), or are willing to tolerate bad bus service for the privilege of living in Kent. What’s missing are people who would take transit if the transit were more comprehensive. For instance, all those people driving to Kent Station for Sounder. Some of them might take a bus if the buses were more frequent and comprehensive, like the PATH feeders in Jersey City.

  12. says

    STB has frequent posts that drip with envy and admiration for other city’s light rail lines and TOD. Does anyone here think transit blogs in other cities profile LINK in their posts? Can anyone here find a blog post from another city where they are in awe of how great our current and future LINK lines are? They have to be out there somewhere, right?

      • Aleks says

        In fairness, Link isn’t really that great. I mean, it succeeds very well at what it sets out to do, but its goals are very modest. I wouldn’t expect a city like New York or London to be awed by Seattle’s transit, any more than I would expect Seattle to be awed by an hourly bus service in a small town (like the one that was highlighted in a feature article in the NY Times).

      • says

        Actually I recently read that some borough officials in Brooklyn and elsewhere are rebelling against the one size fits all Subway and its high budget projects like 2nd avenue and also its Manhattan centrism.

        One proposal sounds more like LINK/Sounder where they would run a passenger line on existing freight rail Northwest through Brooklyn directly into the Bronx and to Yankee Stadium running on elevated and at grade lines. Of course, the centrists would never want such a thing.

      • says

        @Bailo: Yes, digging new subway tunnels is expensive.


        1. There is no such thing as “like LINK/Sounder”. Link and Sounder are very different.

        2. If I’m thinking about the same project you are, it’s probably more similar to the eastside corridor proposals than Sounder or Link. It has a lot of the same strengths and weaknesses.

    • Mike Orr says

      The only thing innovative about Link is that it’s 50% grade-separated in a medium-sized city, and the stop spacing is 1-2 miles instead of 0.5-1 mile. Other American light rail systems were built on the cheap in surface streets with more stops. (MAX, VTA, San Diego, Dallas, Hudson-Bergen, parts of MUNI and the LA Blue Line, etc.) So they never reach their 55 mph potential except for the one station under a hill or highway. So the rest of the country is waiting for Link to be finished and established to determine how well the “subway with light rail” worked. That may lead to more systems like Seattle’s, or it may not.

      In terms of transit comprehensiveness, Seattle is still far behind the best cities in the US and Europe, so naturally there are no glowing reports about that. But we get some kudos for actually doing something about our transit problems, and for being more comprehensive than most American cities. (Most cities do not have Metro’s frequency or night owls, nor the equivalent of ST Express, Sounder, or streetcars.)

    • says

      Other cities and communities facing budget problems would no doubt recoil in horror at the order of magnitude higher than average cost per mile of LINK as well as the ridiculously long two decade timespan to create what is still basically a starter system.

      • Mike Orr says

        That cost is what makes Link faster than those other systems, which makes it a more viable alternative to driving.

  13. Lack Thereof says

    OBA seems exceedingly useless this weekend.

    I don’t think it’s actually OBA that’s broken, though, because the offical County app is also only reporting on a small fraction of the buses. It’s gotta be the data feed.

    • says

      I really don’t see why Metro can’t contract with with a wireless broadband carrier like Clear Wimax and just uplink position data periodically.

      The modem can be just what I have — a USB stick.

      The amount of data sent would be infinitesimal…just a GPS coordinate and the time.

      It wouldn’t have to stay connected for more than a fraction of a second…so they should negotiate a deal to ride on this existing wireless broadband network.

      • aw says

        For somebody who in a recent post coplained about the high cost of Link, you’re pretty casual about the implied cost of introducintg a new system of broadcasting GPS data with a software project to integrate it into a legacy system that then has to interface to third-party data consumers. All of this across a fleet of thousands of buses while they’re trying to deploy a new radio system, GPS hardware and software patches/upgrades to the current system which fixes the very problem you’re trying to address. But then there are those third-party developers that need to catch up with the newly implemented system and its quirks and bugs.

        Why don’t you just move to Pasco? It doesn’t have any of these problems, and I’ve heard that it’s a small town paradise.

      • says

        Ok, let me make it easier.

        Every bus has a bus driver.

        And almost every bus driver has a smart phone.

        And almost all smart phones have a GPS…which can report position back to the Internet.

        So, give each bus driver an app that they can use to report their position. They check in when they get on the bus. Their cell phone then reports back the position.

        It could even be a special Driver Edition of OBA and essentially just cut around the entire system (assuming the Bus Drivers Union approves).

        It would also be a good safety measure for drivers and also allow them to report complaints and so on as the journey goes.

        Near zero cost.

        And most smart phones have a wifi mode for areas where there is no cell service…they can just put a few Wifi nodes in those spots.

      • says

        Ok, here’s another solution.

        Garmin GPS tracker:

        $125 and it includes a year of network tracking.

        Aren’t these buses $500,000 ?

        Can’t they afford a $125 GPS tracker per?

        It even comes with the monitoring software for back at the base (though I imagine Metro/OBA would write their own interface).

        I guess there is something called a GSM Network that these devices use to communicate. I’ll have to research that more…but it doesn’t sound like a big investment to know where all your buses are real time!!

  14. says

    Another week of parking in Seattle and the numbers.

    Current Global Averages:
    Average Cost per Hour: $0.36
    Total Cost for Parking: $34.92
    Average Distance from Destination: 1.15 block(s)
    Average Time spent Searching for Parking: 0.96 minute(s)
    Total number of hours parked: 96.05 hours
    Total number of recorded parkings: 65

  15. Bernie says

    US First-Quarter Transit Use Rose 5% Versus Year Ago Amid High Fuel Prices:

    APTA said all public transit modes saw increases in the first quarter, with light-rail use up by 6.7% from a year earlier and use of subways and elevated trains up by 5.5%. Commuter rail ridership was up 3.9%, while bus ridership was up around 4.5%.

    If Metro’s Q1 numbers match ST’s we’re double the national average. That might have something to do with Washington having the highest gas prices in the lower 48. Also the unemployment rate in Puget Sound is better than the national average. It doesn’t hurt that we’re #7 on the list of cities with the worst traffic. It’s a big jump to #6. We’ll have to do something special to move up. Like toll only one of the routes between Seattle and the Eastside… or; boot all the cars out of the I-90 reversible lanes :=

  16. Joanna Cullen says

    Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). As you compare all the different areas of this transit, especially the rail in Arlington, you have to remember that it is also regional with only a few stops in Arlington. Have you checked out the development or lack of around New Carrollton? Did you actually check out the density around all of the stations? I don’t think you did. There are issues here too. Arlington has areas that are good examples. Still there are many who depend on a car to get them to the stations. This is a video of only a small piece of Arlington.

    I am currently staying in Arlington, and there is a place where cars park and also where I waited along with others to be picked up by vehicle at the Metro light rail station, East Falls Church Station.

    • Martin H. Duke says

      New Carrollton isn’t in Arlington, so its land use policies aren’t relevant to my point. It’s true that East Falls Church is the only one out of 11 stops in Arlington that isn’t built up with high rises around it, and not coincidentally it’s a freeway station. 9 of the other 10 have tall buildings, all built in the last 40 years or so, after zoning in places like Seattle made tall construction illegal. The 10th is the Pentagon, the largest office building in the world.

      Coincidentally, there are 11 stops in Seattle, and only at four of them is it legal to build high rises. They’re all places where tall buildings were built before zoning laws came into effect.

      I’m not sure what point you think you’re refuting by suggesting that some people use cars to access the Metro.

  17. Joanna Cullen says

    I am not necessarily trying to refute the ideals but am saying that Arlington and Seattle do not make for a good comparison. Others on the blog also mentioned King County suburbs in comparison to Arlington. Which are we comparing Seattle or Seattle’s suburbs? If both then comparing all the area served appropriate. At the East Falls Church where, yes, the intent is to get people to use the buses or walk to the station, there is a small park and ride (parking lot) and in addition to that a small short term parking area and drop off and pick up spots. This type of space is not generally available around Seattle’s stations and is not planned. Arlington would be more appropriately compared to services in on of Seattle’s suburbs and where there would likely be positive comparisons. At the moment none of our stops directly serve large employers like Boeing or Microsoft. Those would be the closest to any thing like the Pentagon. When visiting D.C. area I have always enjoyed using the transit in the area. I am just saying that I was not sure what you were trying to say in your post, since areas around our some our stations are high rises (downtown) and others are not just as it is here. Our rail is newer. I just was not sure if your brief statement of analysis to introduce the video was valid or relevant.

  18. Joanna Cullen says

    Park and Rides in Arlington VA
    West Falls Church-VT/UVA
    All day spaces: 2,009 (Fees collected upon exit, 10:30 am to Metrorail system closing)
    Cost/day: $4.50
    Payment: SmarTrip® cards only
    Short-term metered spaces: 45 (Parking available 8:30 am – 3:30 pm and 7 pm – 2 am, time limit eight hours at West Falls Church greentops)
    Additional spaces and costs: 68 spaces on access road, metered for 12-hour maximum, @ $1.00 per 60 mins.
    Reserved parking location: Median of I-66, off Haycock Rd. east of Leesburg Pike
    Reserved rate: $65
    Availability: Yes

    East Falls Church
    All day spaces: 422 (Fees collected upon exit, 10:30 am to Metrorail system closing)
    Cost/day: $4.50
    Payment: SmarTrip® cards and credit cards
    Short-term metered spaces: 33 (Parking available 8:30 am – 3:30 pm and 7 pm – 2 am)
    Additional spaces and costs: None
    Reserved parking location: 2001 N. Sycamore St.
    Reserved rate: $65
    Availability: There is a waiting list for reserved parking at this station. Join the waiting list.

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