Sunday Open Thread: Empty Seattle

Bailo’s prophecy has come true: a depopulated Seattle.

From the same guy who did this.

About Martin H. Duke

Martin joined the blog in Fall 2007 and became Editor-in-Chief in 2009. He is originally from suburban DC, but has lived in the Greater Seattle area since 1997. He resides with his family in Columbia City and works as a software engineer in Lower Queen Anne.




Comments

  1. John Bailo says:

    If it were like that, then as Harry Bemis said, there would be “Time Enough At Last”!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ER2VNU3R0gA

    But, really, Seattle did almost look like that (minus the new additions like the Ferris Wheel) when I moved there in 1986. Even as late as the mid 90′s, you could easily drive to the streets near the Seattle Center and find free parking.

    Is it better now that everyone has to live in 500 sq. ft. apodments?

    To each, his own…

    • “Nobody goes there any more. It’s too crowded” – Yogi Berra

    • Mark Dublin says:

      Better question for you, John: What do you plan to do these next 26 years to make Seattle and the rest of this region 52 years better than everything you liked about this place in 1986?

      Mark

      • John Bailo says:

        I think my thoughts on this have been adequately expressed for all but those who choose to put their fingers in their ears. That, unfortunately, seems to be the mode of the times…

    • Yes, it was indeed lovely when one canceled order at Boeing could send the region into a tailspin. Ask the folks on the OP about the Spotted Owl sometime and the effect on their lifestyles.

    • Yes, no one interesting was around, the region was an economic and cultural disaster, and the only people with money were drunken Alaska fleet fishermen between trips…

      …but it was better, because you could avoid paying $3 to park by Seattle Center.

      What is it about paying for parking that turns people into raving lunatics?

      • s/paying for//

        Try taking “their” parking spot on that public right of way near their residence some day…or so I’ve heard, anyways. Never had any use for all that parking, besides for practice stepping around the oily puddles and whatnot.

      • John Bailo says:

        So the choices are, a region where no one has money…or a region that most can’t afford to live in unless it is by slicing the real estate ham into 500 sq ft apodments?

        I’m not saying turn back the clock, but perhaps it is sometimes better to take one step back to go two steps forward.

      • If we would actually allow the amount of development the market is demanding within the city, rather than clinging to enormous lot sizes and useless forms of “open space,” even more people could fit into the city at lower cost. When we only allow construction of a fraction of the close-in housing the market wants, of course it’s expensive.

      • John Bailo says:

        Is that the reason why there are still only a very few high rise condos in Belltown? It’s as dense and cultural rich an urban area as you would want…but they stopped building them in 2005. If there is this demand which you claim, it should be there.

      • Eh what? You didn’t notice the Escala, several new buildings along Western, and the proposed Marselle? All built or planned in the teeth of the worst financial collapse since the Depression?

      • A few Apodments among the thousands of multifamily housing units in Seattle is hardly an epidemic.

        Condo building stopped because it got ahead of demand. The real estate bubble made developers and buyers crazy. After the bubble burst, people were either too poor to buy condos, they didn’t trust the real estate industry and the banks, and they thought the asking prices were twice what the units were worth. That doesn’t mean they didn’t want to live downtown or they didn’t desire a condo; they just didn’t think it was a good time to buy. There were also the “flippers” who never intended to live in the condos, who just vanished. I personally am waiting to buy until I can pay cash, or at most, take out a small mortgage (50% or 25%). That’s if I decide to buy, which I’m still not sure about.

        People’s interest in condos has largely transformed into interest in apartments. But condo buying has started to increase, although slowly like everything else in this economy.

      • John Bailo says:

        Escala:

        2 Bedroom homes are available from $619,000 to $1.6 Million.

        http://www.escalamidtown.com/

      • Thus proving my point.

      • So what’s the most expensive condo in Kent? Is there a demand for high-end condos there? If not, what does that say about the desirability of Kent, and how can it be called a “new Seattle”?

      • Looks like $380k but that’s a foreclosure auction and will likely go for less. I find it hard to believe that there are no million dollar condos in Kent. Even in impoverished Bellevue and Seattle there are always a few million dollar units available.

      • John Bailo says:

        Well, now you’ve come full circle right into your own backside.

        I’m not saying high end condos are a measure of success…you are!

        So the lack of them in Kent, means that people can live good lives without density.

        However, it is constantly argued (by everyone else but me) that Seattle needs “more density” and that all these areas have to be zoned for density. My response is simply that you don’t seem to finish playing with one toy before you start crying about getting a brand new expensive toy! So here’s Belltown, which could have scads more towers and density…but where are they? Why does every place have to have more density when you haven’t densified the more centrally urban of all places, Belltown? The argument stares you in the face…you cannot turn away from it. Answer the questions…

      • It’s a basic fact in free markets that the price of something goes up when there’s greater demand for it, or when rich people are willing to buy for a higher level than would otherwise exist. That’s why real estate in general is more expensive in Seattle than Kent: more people want to live there. You’re right that I confused this with the high-end market, which is a separate market as I said, and is not necessarily worth pursuing. But the general fact remains that when the bulk of people decide that Kent is more desirable to live in than Seattle, its real estate prices will be higher, unless Kent builds a huge amount of housing to absorb the demand.

      • Affordable housing happens in Kent because there is no shortage of land to build relatively inexpensive units. In Seattle the land is expensive and therefore any new construction will also be expensive; more expensive than the housing it replaces. In Kent the new construction may be on vacant land or replacing an industrial use that has moved off shore. It’s the same reason Houston can continue building cheap housing ad nauseam. Kent, the new Seattle.

      • But why is the land expensive, that’s what I’m getting at. It’s expensive because more people want to be there.

  2. I can see where some stock footage was easy to get, minus the cars (520 closures), but how on earth did they photo shop out all the rest of the streets and freeways?
    Neat video, and yes John, you are the smartest guy in the room.

    • Interesting thing about time lapse. WIth timing of shutter releases, faster moving objects (cars) just do not show up. Slower objects like ships leave an image.

      Great video.

      • Mark Dublin says:

        Thanks, Kent, for chance to give John a real measure for the improvement I’d like to work on for the next 26 years.

        Recalling what happened both in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel and on surface streets all over Downtown when signals went down last Thursday rush hour, here’s a wonderful goal:

        No transit vehicle in revenue service will appear in any time-lapse footage except stopped at stations. Achieve that, and may fewer automobiles will show up, either.

        Some because they’re being saved for rides in the country, and some because nobody needs them anywhere anymore.

        Mark Dublin

    • There have been plenty of SR-99 closures in recent years too. I-90 is closed for a couple of hours on a few days in September every year (although a cross-lake photo would show lots of boats). Wasn’t I-5 closed for maintainance a few years ago?

      Although instead of waiting for planned closures, why not just do a lot of the shots early on Sunday mornings in June? I imagine there isn’t a lot of activity on downtown streets at that time.

      Was that a ghost ship at around 2:15? Even if there were people aboard, they were leaving town.

    • It’s actually pretty easy, since the cars are never in the same place.

      http://rossching.com/running-on-empty

  3. Metro doesn’t seem to listen to Mr. Bailo either.

    Their restructure proposal around the F Line is just in Renton, and a rather timidly small list. The 169 is not in line to get any new platform hours.

    • John Bailo says:

      I don’t know how long it’s been around, but I was looking at the 140 route the other day. It’s quite an amazing little line that interconnects Longacres Sounder station with International Station LINK and goes to Southcenter along the way!

      http://metro.kingcounty.gov/cftemplates/show_map.cfm?BUS_ROUTE=140&DAY_NAV=WSU

      • The 140 was originally a part of the 340, a gigantic super-route that crossed the whole region. Starting in Burien, it went to the airport; to Southcenter on what is now the 156 route; to Renton on roughly the current 140 route; on the freeway to Bellevue, stopping at all freeway stops; on the freeway to Bothell, again stopping at all freeway stops, except Kingsgate, where it exited the freeway to serve the P&R; through neighborhood streets in Bothell on the route that became the 334 and is now defunct; then from Kenmore P&R to Aurora Village along the current 331 routing. A trip took well over two hours.

        When ST arrived, the route was split into pieces, with ST handling the freeway bits in the middle. Eventually, the south part had enough small changes to turn into the current 140.

        Over time, it also improved in frequency from hourly to every 15 minutes, which is honestly more than the ridership warrants most of the time. But it’s a politically favorable route because it crosses two councilmembers’ districts and provides easy frequent connections to popular destinations from routes crossing two more members’ districts. (By contrast, the 169, for example, really doesn’t benefit anyone outside of Julia Patterson’s district.)

      • Almost. The 140 was part of the 240. The 240 and 340 coexisted as local and express routes between Burien and Bellevue. (The 340 also continued to Bothell and Shoreline P&R.) The 240 was repeatedly truncated due to low ridership, first to Sea-Tac, then to Southcenter and finally Renton. At that point the 140 appeared, to cover its original southern half.

        As for the 140 vs 169, the 140 also serves three cities instead of two, and it provides the missing Link-Southcenter connection that was needed due to the lack of a Southcenter station. In that sense it’s a consolation like the First Hill Streetcar.

      • Mike, the 240 had been shortened to Renton (and rerouted off the freeway through Newcastle, replacing some other route I can’t remember) some years before the 140 ever started. The 140 was introduced when Sound Transit service started in 2001; by that point, only the 340 was covering the current 140 route, and it had the low ridership you mention, because it ran very infrequently and was tremendously unreliable thanks to its length and I-405 traffic.

        The 340 restructure split the 340 into four parts. The 140 handled the portion between Burien and Renton; the 560 the portion between Renton and Bellevue; the 530/535 the portion between Bellevue and Bothell; and the 341 the portion between Bothell and Aurora Village. They kept a few vestigial trips from Renton to Aurora Village, renumbered 342. Since then the northern parts have been restructured again but the southern parts are mostly unchanged.

        The split allowed the 140 to prosper as a half-hourly route. Ridership went way up, and buses were full. Now that the route has 15-minute service, buses are not as full anymore, but the route remains successful.

      • John Slyfield says:

        The 140 has excellent weekday ridership especially during peak hours. It most definitely seems warranted to have 15 minute service along the route during peak hours.

    • That’s because there’s no money for the extension to Boeing and state mobility grants for Renton expire at the end of 2013, but it will happen anyway at the cost of service to someone else.
      The 140 is a political route, and as far from BRT-UltraLite as you can get when converted to RR-F. Just count the 90 degree direction changes along the way. If this doesn’t put the nail in the BRT coffin in Seattle forever, then nothing will. Well played rail buffs.

      • Yes, looking at the map, the sad thing is, it could just travel along 405 and 518 and do the main part of its job (uniting LINK, Sounder and Renton) in 10 minutes instead of what will probably take an hour!

      • Isn’t that what RapidRide F is supposed to do?

      • Supposed to take an hour to go the equivalent of a 10 minute express trip? Why yes!

      • Brendon,
        I think 10 minutes is a little optimistic when it takes the Route 560 16 to 17 minutes to go between Renton Transit Center and the airport.

      • I was commenting on the RapidRide approach (not going for realistic). It’s a shame that RapidRide again is replacing local service, instead of adding a more-express variant to a local backbone. There’s just too much pressure to have an excess of stops. In a BRT-world, stops should be for local service, and stations for RapidRide.

      • Some of the turns are temporary because there’s a gap in Strander Blvd at the BNSF tracks, so the bus has to go around to the nearest crossing. Supposedly that gap is going to be filled sometime.

      • What is the mobility grant in Renton covering? The Kent grant is covering hours on the 164 and 168.

    • The fact that the 140 rather than the 169 got the RapidRide treatment is at the very top of the long list of stupid decisions that arise from having the King County Council micromanage Metro.

      I’ve regretted my vote in 1994 for many years now.

    • Now’s the time to tell Metro to extend the 169 to Rainier Beach, delete the off-peak 101, and put the money toward more trips on the 169. If enough people tell Metro that during its focus on Renton, at least Metro will notice.

      Thinking more about the 140 vs 160, there are other rational reasons for it. It’s not just a case of “being in two people’s districts”, but that there are a tradeoffs between the two and they had to choose one or the other. Besides providing a Link-Southcenter connection, the F is a crosstown Link feeder that we’ve long asked Metro to have more of. It’s also a pretty ideal feeder because the Link connection is at the middle of the route rather than at one end. (Of course it would be even better if it were straightened out and had fewer stops, but geographically it’s in the right place.) It serves three nominal cities rather than two; ultimately that probably carries more weight than being in “two people’s districts”. (Or if it’s true about two people’s districts, that suggests an even worse case: that councilmembers are thinking solely about parochial pork than about the good of a county as a whole, in which case we’ll have worse problems down the road. That also argues against splitting Seattle into council districts, which may have the same problem.) There’s also the ridership issue: some people seem to think the F has potential to generate the most ridership in south King County besides RR A. They may be wrong in that but it explains their preference.

      • Also, for crosstown routes the 140 didn’t compete with the 169 but with the 180 and 181. The 140 makes a better second RapidRide line than either of those, because it goes through more higher-density areas, and it’s also a straight unobstructed shot.

        Then there’s that TIB thing. The planners obviously had high hopes for TIB and it was meant to be a bus/train/P&R center, and that influenced the choice of RapidRide F.

      • The trouble with the 140 is that it connects a huge number of destinations that have serious problems as destinations. It looks better on paper than it works in real life. There is not a single high-density residential neighborhood anywhere along the 140, and many of the destinations (TIBS, Southcenter Parkway, Sounder, SW Renton) are very limited in the span during which they’re useful. Southcenter and RTC are the only two true all-day ridership generators on the line.

        You can say that lots of new residential and commercial development could make the 140 work in the future. But the thing is that the 169 works right now, with the highest productivity of any route in South King County, and one of the three highest ridership numbers. It goes through areas that are currently well-developed with lots of residential and commercial, and has downtowns at both ends. The real knock against the 169 is that it connects to fewer regional services than the 140, but I don’t think that should be the main driver of decisions.

        Yes, County Council members are absolutely that parochial. How do you think 40/40/20 got its start? It sure wasn’t with the planners or the executive, both of whom would rather see service hours go where they will result in the highest productivity. The cities don’t have power to plan bus routes; the council members, sadly, do.

      • Yes, but 40/40/20 was about favoring the suburbs in general and bringing their service hours up to Seattle’s. That’s different than favoring one suburb at the expense of all the others.

  4. Seattle Times Op-ed: We should stop waging a war on cars

    The car is an innocent and dutiful result of the basic principles of a free society. People want to have mobility. People want to travel in a safe environment where they want to go, when they want to go and with whom they want to go. The individual right to be free is what creates the demand for the car.

    http://seattletimes.com/html/opinion/2019699309_brucenurseopedxml.html

    • The city of Seattle isn’t waging a war on cars when it provides basic access for people traveling by other means. Cars are waging a war on themselves and the rest of the city in the process.

      • Jim Cusick says:

        “Your argument assumes that everybody has a car and that the only costs of driving are the variable costs of gas, tires, and maintenance.”

        Unfortunately, most of the public I deal with thinks exactly the same way, although they are actually looking to travel by train/transit.

        Convincing Norman isn’t the challenge, since that only becomes entertainment.

        Getting the point across to plain folk in an easily digestible way is the real challenge.

    • I’m tired of correlations between Freedom and car ownership, as though there is something so pure and natural about cars. Let’s be clear about the fact that a largely automobile-centric transportation system is the most expensive way to move people around. Yes, sometimes it is the most time-efficient system we have come up with. But it scales poorly and has some pretty horrendous effects on the health of its users. It is also somewhat incompatible with dense urban areas. Our obsession with cars has resulted in the edges of cities being stretched out like a lump of dough into a pizza.

      I grew up in a rural area outside Spokane. My school was 8-10 miles away, the nearest store was 3-4 miles away, the highways were 50mph and not a safe place to bike, and my closest friends lived 5+ miles away. I couldn’t *wait* to get my driver’s license and was obsessed with cars. Our family had 5 of them even when it was just my parents that were driving.

      I understand car=freedom. Cars are ideal for many environments and will be around until our species suffers severe decline. But cars are not all that compatible with cities, at least not the kind of cities people of my generation now crave.

      • Let’s take the word freedom out of it. Let’s use numbers. According to trip planner, the time it would take someone to go from the Kingsgate P&R to the Auburn Supermall on buses today is 2 hours and 29 minutes. 2 1/2 hours on public transit to go 31 miles. In a car it would take about 30 to 40 minutes.

      • Sam, two things:

        1) You could only get from Kingsgate to Auburn in 30-40 minutes at three in the morning. Midday, it would take an hour. At rush hour, it would take 75-80 minutes.

        2) The very fact that we think it’s natural to go frequently from Kingsgate to Auburn for something as routine as shopping in ordinary mall stores is a symptom of a major societal problem.

      • “Let’s use numbers”

        That 31 mile journey costs about $18 using AAA’s Average Sedan cost per mile. Spending $36 round trip to go shopping in Auburn when you live in Kingsgate seems a little insane.

      • ““Let’s use numbers”

        “That 31 mile journey costs about $18 using AAA’s Average Sedan cost per mile. Spending $36 round trip to go shopping in Auburn when you live in Kingsgate seems a little insane.”

        Yes, let’s use numbers. Here is the AAA report:

        http://newsroom.aaa.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/YourDrivingCosts2012.pdf

        page 7. The OPERATING cost of the average sedan is 19.64 cents per mile per VEHICLE-mile. At the national average of about 1.6 passengers per car, that comes to an operating cost of about 12.3 cents per PASSENGER-mile. That would make the operating cost of a 31-mile journey about $3.80 per person, on average, by average sedan.

        Metro buses cost about 90 cents per passenger-mile for just the OPERATING COSTs. So, that same 31-mile trip would cost about $27.90 by Metro bus.

        So, USING NUMBERS, we see that moving people by Metro transit bus is around SEVEN TIMES more expensive than by the average sedan.

        Spending $55.80 round trip by bus to take one person on a shopping in Auburn when they live in Kingsgate seems a little insane.

        Of course, almost all of the cost of the bus trip is being paid by taxpayers. So, for the transit rider getting the (almost) free ride, it seems fairly reasonable, paying a fare of probably only about $3 each way, assuming it is even possible to take that trip by transit.

        For taxpayers, however, paying that much to subsidize bus trips is more than a little insane.

      • Norman, you lie often enough that I don’t believe any unsourced numbers from you, including the claim about average car occupancy. So my response is: “citation needed”

      • Jim Cusick says:

        AAA’s Operating Cost is based on the assumption people buy the car new, and trade it in at 5 years.

        Essentially, the operating costs are hidden in the capital costs.

        Either way, it costs.

        Keep the car longer, and the costs migrate from the capital or ‘sunk’ cost side to the operating cost side.

        AAA’s $.59/mile figure is the legitimate one to use.

        Norman’s argument is one that rationalizes the automotive based transportation system.

      • Cusick, you are wrong. I own and operate a 2001 Ford. The operating costs that I experience are about what it gives in the AAA report for a “small” sedan. My “maintenance” costs per mile have been a lot lower than what the AAA report uses.

        What is totally unrealistic is the “depreciation” and “financing” costs in the AAA report. I have zero financing costs, and the depreciation on my 11-year old Escort is a few hundred dollars per year, at most (AAA gives depreciation at $2,285 per year in the first 5 years of ownership for a “small” sedan).

      • “Essentially, the operating costs are hidden in the capital costs.”

        No, they are not. They are calculated separately from the “ownership costs” in the AAA report. Look at page 6 for the operating costs of a small sedan. They are separate from the “ownership costs.” They are not “hidden in the capital costs.”

      • J. Reddoch says:

        Yes – but does your 2001 Ford always carry 1.6 people per trip? If not, what steps are you taking to reach 1.6 people per trip?

      • Even when I drive my car alone, the approximately 16 cents per VEHICLE mile, which the AAA gives for “small sedans” (like mine), is a fraction of the operating cost per PASSENGER-mile of a Metro or ST bus, or Link light rail.

        So, driving alone my operating costs are about 16 cents per mile, compared to around 90 cents per passenger-mile for a bus or light rail transit.

      • Financing costs are never zero. Even if you pay cash for the car, you are still foregoing income you could have gotten by investing the money instead.

      • Jim Cusick says:

        I know the report Norman.
        I’m intimately familiar with car costs, espcially the repair and maintenance side.

        You’re arguing semantics.
        Depreciation is a capital cost.
        You might be able to argue the approximately $1000 of tax, license, registration and insurance costs are truly sunk costs.

        If you purchased the vehicle at its value nadir, about 10 years old, and kept the car running via repairs, then it becomes operating costs.
        Your tax, license, registration and insurance costs will go down significantly, too. Just don’t get in a wreck.

        What you’re doing is rationalizing the fact that to access the as-built road transportation system, your ‘yearly pass’ is the vehicle.

        I don’t have a problem with that, other than what I want is the ability to vote whether I want to be taxed to create more roadways, or create more transit options.

      • I don’t know how to say this in a way that Norman will understand, but I’ll try: When you are forced to spend thousands of dollars every year on a piece of machinery to about being stuck in your home all day is not freedom. When this piece of machinery breaks down and you are forced to cancel all your plans for the day and go to a repair shop to fix it is not freedom. Roads that send the message that if you aren’t in a motor vehicle, you don’t belong are not freedom.

        And driving from Kingsgate to Auburn to shopping is definitely not freedom – it’s stupidity. Spending a ton of money on a car to save time traveling on the one hand, then spending a ton of time to save a tiny bit of money on the other. Avoiding the trip completely and buying off Amazon is a much smarter move, even if it costs $20-$30 more by the time you add shipping.

        Rather, freedom means the option to decide which transportation you actually need and want and to only pay for what you need and want, no what the car companies and their incessant advertising says you need and want. It means that each time you make a trip, you have the opportunity to consider the relative values of time and money for that trip and choose the transportation option that makes the most sense. If some cases, it means walking, biking or busing. In others, it means paying for a taxicab. And sometimes, it even means renting a car and driving. Yes, lots of people who don’t own cars still drive.

        As long as there are plenty of taxis and rental cars around, you get the same freedom of mobility as a car owner, but with the important caveat that you only pay for the car’s level of mobility when you actually decide to use it. In many ways, owning a car to drive it once a month is analogous to buying season tickets to the Mariners and only going to a game once a month. Yes, the price per ticket may be cheaper when you buy a season ticket, but you have to buy so many tickets you don’t need that it’s just not worth it. Car ownership is similar.

      • Here’s a specific counter-example from my experience a few months ago to the theory that car ownership=freedom.

        I was going on a hike to the Olympics with a group of people that were meeting in Edmonds P&R. I had made arrangements with someone in the group driving from Issaquah to pick me up along the way, but then the day before the hike, she e-mailed me that her car had broken down and she couldn’t make it. When her transportation was disrupted (because the car broke down), she had to stay home and take the car to a repair shop. When my transportation plans were disrupted (because she was supposed to be my ride to the P&R), I used some of the money saved by not having car payments to ride to Edmonds P&R in a taxi, then went on the hike anyway. (I returned home on the 511, so I only had to pay for the taxi one way).

      • I love how you twist numbers, Norman. Your argument assumes that everybody has a car and that the only costs of driving are the variable costs of gas, tires, and maintenance. AAA’s costs are “all-in” and reflect the true cost of ownership. Even then, you’re not satisfied. You have to lower those numbers even more by adding virtual passengers to your car but gloss over the very real examples of where public transportation does the same. You are incredible…

      • Jim Cusick says:

        “Your argument assumes that everybody has a car and that the only costs of driving are the variable costs of gas, tires, and maintenance.”

        Unfortunately, most of the public I deal with thinks exactly the same way, although they are actually looking to travel by train/transit.

        Convincing Norman isn’t the challenge, since that only becomes entertainment.

        Getting the point across to plain folk in an easily digestible way is the real challenge.

      • [Ad hom]

        If you want to talk about “total costs” of owning and operating a car, that is fine. But then you have to compare that to the “total costs” of transit systems, which would include capital costs.

        So, if you want to include depreciation on my car, then you have to include depreciation on the buses, bus stops, light rail cars, stations, overhead wires, et. al.

        What are the “total costs” of Link light rail per passenger-mile when you include depreciation? Sound Transit’s “cost per boarding” figures never include depreciation. They even say in the charts that “depreciation is not included.”

        So, since Metro and ST use operating costs, without including any capital costs or depreciation, I used only operating costs for a car to compare to the operating cost of transit.

        Apples to apples, kids.

      • There is no finance charge when you pay cash. That is just flat-out stupid. The finance charge is the interest on the loan. If you don’t borrow any money, there is no interest payment to make. So, there is no finance charge.

        The “ownership costs” in the AAA report are on cars five years old or less. This is when cars depreciate the most. My 12-year-old car depreciates very little each year. The average car in the U.S. is almost 11 years old. People who buy and drive used cars don’t have anywhere near the depreciation costs in the AAA report. And many of them, like me, have no “finance charge”, either. My annual insurance is only $700 — not the $979 in the AAA report. And my “license, registration, taxes” is under $100 per year — not the $441 in the AAA report.

        So, my “ownership costs” if I drove my car 15,000 miles per year would be about 7 cents per mile.

        Add that to my 16 cents per mile of operating costs (when driving alone) to total about 23 cents per mile total cost for driving my car solo. With a second person in my car, the operating cost is halved to 8 cents per passenger-mile, and added to my ownership costs, the total cost would be about 15 cents per passenger-mile.

        The “operating cost” alone of Metro buses or Link light rail is around 90 cents per passenger mile. How much would that be if you include depreciation of the capital assets, like I included the depreciation on my car? Including depreciation at least doubles the cost per passsenger-mile of Link light rail, to probably over $2 per passenger-mile. It would probably be far less of an increase for buses.

      • @Norman

        “You guys are really, really not intelligent.”

        Don’t worry, you’ve already impressed us, you don’t have to flatter us any more.

        So what major repairs have you had to make?
        I suppose you’ve religously kept up on the maintenance of your paint, suspension parts, interior, so that the car is as good as it was new.

        I drive my beater for a really low cost, too.

        Do you do your own work on your car? (It is a F-O-R-D, after all. You DO KNOW what that stands for, don’t you?)

      • “There is no finance charge when you pay cash”

        No, but there is an opportunity cost.

        “Apples to apples, kids”

        You mean like this little gem of a comparison:

        “The ‘operating cost’ alone of Metro buses or Link light rail is around 90 cents per passenger mile”

        Care to cite where this came from?

      • Norman, you realize that study you cited shows that Seattle’s light rail is more energy efficient on a per passenger mile basis than cars, right? Thanks!

      • “So what major repairs have you had to make?”

        New brakes. Replace engine belt and gas filter (not major, but as major as I have had to do).

        “I suppose you’ve religously kept up on the maintenance of your paint, suspension parts, interior, so that the car is as good as it was new.”

        I have maintained the running gear. The interior is still good, as is the paint. I bought my car used, so it wasn’t “as good as new” when I bought it. According to Kelley Blue Book, the differnce in price between a 2001 and 2002 Ford Escort, adjusted for fewer miles on the 2002 car, was only $52. So, that is my depreciation cost now — about $52 per year. And I am including that depreciation of $52 per year in my “ownership costs.” I included that depreciation in my “total costs” figure of about 23 cents per mile.

        “I drive my beater for a really low cost, too.”

        So, you know that the AAA numbers are much higher than the real-world cost for most people who drive older cars.

        “Do you do your own work on your car? (It is a F-O-R-D, after all. You DO KNOW what that stands for, don’t you?)”

        No, I don’t work on my own car. It has not needed much work. It’s a good car. Cars nowadays are designed and built to go at least 100,000 miles without any major repairs. They should go 200,000 to 300,000 before being worn out.

      • “No, but there is an opportunity cost.

        “Apples to apples, kids”

        So, what is the “opportunity cost” of the approximately $700 MILLION in tax dollars Sound Transit collects and spends each year subsidizing transit trips? What could $700 million per year do for our schools, police, courts, roads, etc., if it were not spent by Sound Transit to subsidize transit riders?

        Or, you think there is no “opportunity cost” associated with money spent on transit?

      • @ Norman

        “No, I don’t work on my own car. It has not needed much work. It’s a good car. Cars nowadays are designed and built to go at least 100,000 miles without any major repairs. They should go 200,000 to 300,000 before being worn out.

        Thank you. Question resolved.
        It is a beater.

      • My car is a 2001 Ford Escort that runs great, still looks pretty good, and costs me very little to own and operate. It is only slightly older than the average age of cars now being drving in the U.S., and, as such, probably has about the average total cost of owning and driving a small sedan in the U.S. — about 23 cents per vehicle-mile, indcluding depreciation, insurance, license and other fees and taxes, maintenance, tires and gasoline, et. al. In other words, all my costs of owning and driving my car.

    • I am hoping that Op-Ed is deserving of its own post on STB.

      How pathetic the Kemper Freeman organization has become.

      “People want to travel in a safe environment…”; free of flip-flop wearers I presume?

    • Brock Howell says:

      I walk, bike, and bus for freedom and access to opportunity, friends, and family. I spend thousands of dollars each year on a car so I don’t have to deal anyone except be locked away in sheet metal and congestion and foreign wars.

      • Well, the buses have sheet metal and unfortunately are often in the same congestion.

        I wonder, does anyone else here just travel by whatever mode makes the most sense? Be it walk, bike, bus, train, drive, cab, ferry, airplane, whatever…I cannot get myself to be anti-car-, anti-bus, life is too short.

    • Mark Dublin says:

      From long personal experience,I’m a lot freer in a standing load aboard the ST 511 or one of the CT double-deckers than I ever was in driving either of the two excellent cars I wore out in suburban traffic these last couple decades.

      Have felt freer still looking out the window of a loaded BART car at a parking-lot full of cars with an Interstate shield overhead. Yeah, Bruce, I know: build more lanes. Which based on history would just give me more stuck cars to pass at 70 mph.

      David Horsey the cartoonist once said in an op-ed piece that “A car lets people feel like freewheeling cowboys. On a bus, we’re just cows.” Twenty years later, every car-horn should go “Moooo!”

      Mark Dublin

    • The car is an innocent and dutiful result of the basic principles of a free society.

      The car as it exists today is a result of heavy subsidies for the oil and auto industries, as well as urban planning regulatory schemes designed around moving cars from place to place as fast as possible rather than creating desirable places to live.

      Cars would have a place in a truly free society, but it wouldn’t be as central.

      third bridge across Lake Washington from Sandpoint to Juanita
      520 bridge replacement has been downsized from eight lanes

      Of course, it really doesn’t matter that a third bridge would completely wreck downtown Kirkland, Magnuson Park, and the neighborhoods around Sand Point. When you could save 5 minutes on a cross-lake trip, who cares about such trivial details?

      Seattle has also supported light rail to the Eastside, taking the Interstate 90 center roadway, reducing total lanes from 10 to eight, which will reduce the freight and general-purpose traffic in the I-90 corridor.

      What? This is just wrong. There are only eight lanes today. There will remain eight lanes after the project, because the main roadways will be restriped from three lanes to four. This will maintain roadway capacity, at the cost only of a lower speed limit.

      Another megaproject that would help Seattle would be an I-5 tunnel under the hills east of downtown Seattle.

      We don’t have the money, but this is the only reasonable idea in the entire piece. But what incentive do Seattle voters have to spend that money to help those in the suburbs rather than spending the money on rail to Uptown and Ballard to help themselves?

      • “What? This is just wrong. There are only eight lanes today. There will remain eight lanes after the project, because the main roadways will be restriped from three lanes to four. This will maintain roadway capacity, at the cost only of a lower speed limit.”

        There will be ten lanes when the outside roadways are restriped and the center roadway is still carrying traffic before it is converted to light rail. They could restrip the outer roadways right now, but they have chosen not to. Guess they don’t want motorists to find out how much better the I-90 floating bridge would work with ten traffic lanes instead of the current eight.

      • David L, to be more accurate, the car today is a historical accident resulting from cheap oil during the 1920s, which was a result of various historically contingent events, but mostly because spewing unlimited amounts of pollution was legal.

      • Norman, why would ten lanes across the bridge work better when two of those lanes would just end at the west end of the Mount Baker Tunnel? You’d just be creating a bottleneck where there isn’t one now.

        This is the same reason the eight-lane 520 bridge was always a brain-dead idea.

      • “Norman, why would ten lanes across the bridge work better when two of those lanes would just end at the west end of the Mount Baker Tunnel? You’d just be creating a bottleneck where there isn’t one now.”

        You could restripe the lanes at the west end of the Mt. Baker tunnel just as easily as you can restripe the lanes inside Mt. Baker tunnel and on the outer spans of the bridge itself.

        In late afternoons, westbound traffic is often backed up on the bridge itself, then opens up and flows much more freely at the west end of the Mt. Baker tunnel.

      • There’s no more room for lanes on the span going around the curve on the Mt. Baker Tunnel. There are currently four lanes there, one that came from the center roadway and three that came from the outer roadway. There isn’t room to restripe and create a fifth lane. With four lanes on the outer roadway but one still coming from the center roadway, you’d just be creating a bottleneck.

        And of course there’s no traffic there now… there’s no bottleneck. I’m saying you’d create one.

      • Sigh… “on” in the first sentence of that reply should have been “after.”

      • “There’s no more room for lanes on the span going around the curve on the Mt. Baker Tunnel. There are currently four lanes there, one that came from the center roadway and three that came from the outer roadway. There isn’t room to restripe and create a fifth lane.”

        Wrong. Of course, there is room to restripe that segment, just like there is room to restripe inside the tunnel.

      • The bridge has room to restripe because it has very wide shoulders. The shoulders on the curve are not wide enough to allow for a fifth lane without compressing the lanes too much.

        In any case, then you’re just pushing the bottleneck a bit further, to the three combined lanes (1 south, 2 north) to I-5.

      • “The bridge has room to restripe because it has very wide shoulders. The shoulders on the curve are not wide enough to allow for a fifth lane without compressing the lanes too much.”

        That is not correct.

        “In any case, then you’re just pushing the bottleneck a bit further, to the three combined lanes (1 south, 2 north) to I-5.”

        Not everyone who crosses the I-90 bridge westbound is going to I-5. Many take the exits to Rainier Ave. S., and many continue to the on-ramps to 4th Ave. S. or Edgar Martinez Drive. Thatis an additional 2 or 3 lanes (can’t remember which, but certainly wide enough for at least 3 lanes, if not 4) in addition to the onramps to I-5.

      • Have a look at the curve next time you’re there. The shoulders are nowhere near as wide as they are on the bridge.

        There are two lanes going toward 4th Ave S and Edgar Martinez Dr, one of which splits into one of the two lanes of the exit for northbound I-5. They are almost empty even at rush hour. All but a tiny number of the cars coming off I-90 are going to I-5 in one direction or the other. If you added a (narrow) lane as far as the I-5 interchange, you’d still have everyone cramming onto it, but now from 5 lanes into 3 rather than 4 lanes into 3.

      • I have driven that stretch many times, and I have also looked at it from satellite pictures. It is plenty wide enough to add another lane. One of the things they are going to do when they increase the number of lanes on the I-90 bridge is to make all the lanes narrower than they are now. So, they don’t need 12-foot wide shoulders to turn into traffic lanes.

        And, when I-5 northbound gets backed up to the exits off of I-90, a lot of people do what I do and take the Edgar Martinez Drive exit to the Alaskan Way viaduct and use SR99. That’s what I do when I see that the ramps to I-5 are backed up, even though I-5 to the Mercer exit is my preferred route in decent traffic.

    • Interestingly enough, Kemper Development provides “free” parking (or “free” off-site parking/shuttles during busier shopping days) for employees rather than provide any incentive to purchase bus passes. Is their organization’s loathing of public transportation so complete that they’d rather pay for shuttle vans and leased parking spaces rather than providing their employees with another choice in how to get to work?

      • Yes. It’s always been ideological with Kemper Freeman. He sees stormtroopers coming to yank him out of his car and force him onto light rail around every corner.

      • And Microsoft provides free private “Connector” bus service to its employees. Is Microsoft’s loathing of public transportation so complete that they’d rather pay for private buses and large parking lots rather than force their employees to take public transportation?

        The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Headquarters in Lower Queen Anne has underground parking for many hundreds (over 1,000??) of cars.

        Amazon has built large underground parking garages for its buildings in S.L.U.

        Boeing has huge parking lots for its employees.

        Amgen has a huge parking garage at its campus on Elliott Ave.

        Which of the major employers in our area don’t provide parking for their employees?

      • “Is Microsoft’s loathing of public transportation so complete that they’d rather pay for private buses and large parking lots rather than force their employees to take public transportation?”

        You would have to have your head firmly in the sand to think Microsoft doesn’t support public transportation, Norman. They have provided employees with bus passes for at least 20 years and have paid for extra bus service to their campus.

      • Thanks to zoning laws, it is illegal for almost any business outside of downtown to not provide parking for all their employees. Even in suburban Microsoft, you can see the effect of this. Walk through the parking areas on a typical weekday and you’ll see about 1/3 of the spaces are empty. Given that about 1/3 of the employees get to work by some means other than driving a single-occupancy vehicle, this is not a coincidence.

        But according to the law, no matter how much Microsoft spends on providing transit passes and connector service, they still have to provide enough parking for every employee to show up for work at the same time in a separate car. Given that most parking at Microsoft is structured garages, much of it underground, we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars minimum, per space.

        I’m curious what would happen if we could go back in time and Microsoft weren’t constrained by zoning laws. Perhaps there would be 10-20% less parking in some buildings, with the savings reinvested to provide more connector service. They also very likely would have built taller buildings covering a smaller land footprint, resulting in less driving from building to building for meetings.

      • @asfd-

        You’re dead wrong about parking requirements outside of Downtown – at least in the City of Seattle. You can view the parking requirements online –

        http://clerk.ci.seattle.wa.us/~scripts/nph-brs.exe?d=CODE&s1=23.54.015.snum.&Sect5=CODE1&Sect6=HITOFF&l=20&p=1&u=/~public/code1.htm&r=1&f=G

      • Seattle has gotten better about parking requirements over the past few years. But as far as I know, Bellevue and Redmond haven’t changed. And even if they did, the glut of parking at Microsoft is a sunk cost. Once a parking garage is built, knocking a level off later because it’s not needed doesn’t make sense – lots of money spent, but for no benefit.

        At best, some of the surface parking could conceivably be redeveloped into more office space, but all the garage and underground parking is here to day, indefinitely.

    • Leave it to Bailouts to cite an OpEd as if it had some value other than narcissistic bloviation.

      A legend in his own mind.

    • Any idea of what the author is talking about when he says “an I-5 tunnel under the hills east of downtown Seattle”? Isn’t the 405 the alternative to going through Seattle?

      • The author is VP of Transportation for Kemper Freeman’s property company, which owns Bellevue Square and a bunch of property in Downtown Bellevue. Of course they don’t want all that traffic on 405.

      • Jim Cusick says:

        Actually it is part of Dr. Eager’s report from “End Gridlock Now”, but I haven’t found the specifics on it.

        I know when Kemper Freeman was explaining this plan to Dave Ross, he even gave the cost estimate. Didn’t bat an eye.

        Dave said his jaw about hit the floor.

        I think it about the same cost (or thereabouts) as the DBT (SR-99).

      • It would be much shorter than I-405, just a bypass of downtown running under Capitol Hill and First Hill and rejoining the existing I-5 where the Jungle is today.

        It’s actually not a horrible idea, because downtown Seattle is such a unique bottleneck, and you could build the tunnel without causing as much damage as you would with a typical giant urban freeway project. The only really nasty damage would be to a small section of north Capitol Hill where the north portal would enter.

        It’s just extremely expensive and there are much better things to do with our tunneling billions. I think d.p. could suggest one or two of them.

      • Zach Shaner says:

        As long as we’re in fantasy land, I’d consider a new I-5 tunnel if and only if we could (1. pay for it, and (2. it meant tearing out or lidding the current I-5 from Jackson to Denny or Lakeview. Just resurrecting the idea for an R.H. Thompson-style auto bypass is ridiculous. I-5 will have to be redone within our lifetimes, maybe we could lower the roadway enough between Jackson and Marion to fully reconnect the grid we used to have. Then rebuild the pedestrian links between Summit Slope and Cascade/SLU!

      • I (full speculation hat on) expect the “cheapest” way to resolve the I-5 bottleneck would be to build a structure with two full-width decks, one for each direction, on the current footprint of I-5 between the Ship Canal Bridge and I-90. The question is whether such a total rebuild is even worth the cost and the total disruption of the city that would occur during construction. My guess is no. When I-5 is redone, it will involve only minor tweaks to the current alignment, and it won’t fix the bottleneck.

      • J. Reddoch says:

        Zach,
        I see the streetcar lines are on that map you linked also.

      • Interbay looks decidedly dubious in that map. Not sure Puget Avenue W ever really got built. Might be platted streets vs. actual.

      • I-5 will have to be rebuilt or replaced somehow. Otherwise it will just deteriorate and eventually have to be closed. It’s already fifty years old.

        Putting I-5 underground would certainly include reclaiming the real estate where it is now. People have been talking about a full lid downtown for years, but it has never gotten further because of the cost. But a rebuild will be expensive anyway, so the cost of some kind of lid would just be part of it. I don’t know if it’s possible to add a double-decker level to the freeway and have a lid, but maybe the engineers can come up with something.

    • Lack Thereof says:

      There’s no War on Cars in Seattle.

      I live in the central district. I park my car for free on the street, 95% of the time directly in front of my apartment door. I can hop in it during rush hour, drive into downtown and park in an underground lot with no particular difficulty within 10 minutes. I can get an hour or two of free validated parking, hit a couple of stores, and then head home with my trunk full. This is after the “war on cars” has installed in-lane bus stops and bike lanes all over the route, relaxed parking requirements, and raised street parking rates. The worst thing that happens is I miss a couple lights I wouldn’t have otherwise missed. Traffic is fucked up around freeway onramps, but that’s because freeway ramps fuck up traffic, not because of the War on Cars.

      A failure to devote 100% of your resources to something does not equal a war on it. It does not even significantly impair it.

    • The “war on cars” is one of the most disingenuous memes of our time. I’ll believe there’s a “war on cars” when I can cross a four-lane arterial in the dark at rush hour at an unmarked crosswalk without fear or anxiety of being struck. There are exactly two streets in Seattle where the automobile *isn’t* the most privileged form of transportation: Pike Place and Post Alley.

  5. Sam that’s why they have Zipcar. You’re telling me I should buy a car and pay the high monthly costs of ownership for the one or two times a year I want to go to an outlet mall. No thanks, ill pay my $75 a month Zipcar membership. Works well I use it about 4 or 5 times a month, and there’s always a car within two blocks.

    • Rental or bought, what you’re saying is cars are essential to people who value time and freedom?

      • Cars are essential to people who want to make certain trips in the fastest time and at the lowest cost.

        So is transit.

        It wouldn’t make any more sense for me to drive to work, doubling the length of my commute and paying $250/month for parking, than it would for me to take the bus to an outlet mall on Sunday.

      • Yes cars are essential, especially if you have kids. I never said they weren’t. I just think designing a system that only accommodates the automobile is a bad idea. There are thousands of people in King County alone that are spending a huge percentage of their income on a car. I use to be one of them. I sold my car and moved to the city, and suddenly I had more money to save and spend than most of my friends. Even friends that made significantly more money than me. Unfortunately I still have friends that spend ridiculous amounts of their income on a car simply because our society tells us that if you don’t have a car than there is something wrong with you.

    • Talking about which… Is Zipcar available on the Eastside? Last time I looked at their website, it contradicted itself.

      • Yes, there are several cars available in downtown Bellevue and two in Redmond. ZipCar has added more cars and a ZipVan over the past few years so they appear to be growing.

    • Wes, I assume you meant $75/year?

  6. No I mean $75 a month, it includes gas. It allows me to use the car as much as I need to in a month. Still a lot cheaper than owning even one car. Also if I don’t use all of my credited time it rolls over to the next month.

    • Sorry Wes, for some reason the $75 number stuck out as the yearly cost of the “occasional” plan, which I’m on. Turns out that plan actually costs $60 per VeloBusDriver’s link.

      I drive so infrequently that the occasional plan makes sense for me. And that plan also includes gas.

      • Lack Thereof says:

        AFAIK every plan includes gas. I was going to sell my car and sign up, but I had only just made up my mind when Zipcar removed the only location I could walk to.

    • I used to be on the $75 a month plan, but after 6 months, I got off of it because I was too often reserving Zipcars not because I actually needed it for something, but because my prepaid driving credit was about to disappear if I didn’t find something to use it for promptly.

      Now, I’m on the occasional driving plan and reserve a Zipcar about 3-4 times a year for $80-90 per day. I do supplement Zipcar with a considerable amount of taxi trips, which are often quite a bit cheaper then renting a car. For hiking trips, I usually, walk, bike, bus, or cab to a convenient meeting spot, then carpool and let someone else do the driving (but I do help pay for gas).

      Once, I even took Enterprise up on their $14.95 per day special, but by the time I added up all the taxes, fees, insurance, and gas, (plus needing to rent the car for longer than I actually needed it for, due to their limited office hours), the grand total was about $85 – almost exactly the same as Zipcar would have been.

      • You can reduce the insurance by getting 3rd party cdw–it’s about a third of the price.

        Don’t remember if it’s true here but taxes are often much less at non-airport locations.

        Also Zipcar has $39 deals for 6pm-8:30am if those hours happen to work for you.

  7. Keith Tyler says:

    When did they make this? I thought Waiting For The Interurban was moved inside over two years ago.

  8. John Bailo says:

    Took transit from Kent East Hill to airport today.

    Opening door, first big decision was, do I want to get wet. Well, put on my big boy pants, grabbed a telescoping umbrella and hiked through the parking lot. I followed the rule of taking half as much luggage and twice as much money and worked it down to a single NF backpack.

    Thanks to OBA, made the 168 bus in seconds flat. Longer wait at Kent Transit for 180, but only 20 minutes. The more I rode the more I was glad I didn’t drive…water soaked streets, lots of traffic.

    I guess for a plane trip the big risk is missing it completely. Having been burned by the 180 in the past ( 2 missing buses at one point ) I leave very much in advance and content myself in the (quite nice airport eating areas). But a car accident on the way would be bad, or worse even, than missing a bus connection!

    One thing about the buses, they are not very accommodating for luggage…although on the 180 I seem to be the only one carrying anything of size. I wonder if any travelers know of the existence of this bus…or its mainly for the airport employees.

    • I went to Green River CC Saturday evening for some amateur MMA fights. I took the 150 and 164, and returned on the 181, A, and Link. This was my first time on the 164 and on the eastern part of the 181.

      The 150 was pretty full. I was expecting to maybe be the only person on the 164, but it was packed. Lots of standees on the 30-foot (?) Orion. For reasons I couldn’t fathom, ten people got off at the Lake Meridian shopping center, five got off at around 300th in Auburn, and four more at 312th. The latter two seemed like single-family areas, with a dark office park looking in the background, although I couldn’t see much in the dark. A lot of people were Asian and several spoke different languages, similar to the buses in Bellevue. My impression was that southern Kent/eastern Auburn is heavily working-class and minority and can’t afford to drive. If this ridership is typical, the 164 deserves a frequency increase. And I wonder what all those people do on Sundays when the 164 doesn’t run.

      As I approached GRCC I thought, “Maybe the 181 goes here.” I’d never ridden it east of the Supermall so I didn’t know. It made sense that it should, a route from GRCC to Federal Way TC. I got off at the stop, and sure enough, the 181 was on the schedule. I was torn whether to go back the way I came and check the later ridership, or take the other route to Federal Way and try the A or 577 or 574 (whichever came first). In the end, I decided to leave the event at a time when the 181 was the next bus.

      The 181 made quite a circuitous route to Auburn, the Supermall, and Federal Way. The 50-minute trip could easily be brought down to 30 minutes or 20 minutes if it would just stay on 320th, couldn’t it? (Except for transit centers, which it would have to go to for transfers.) I didn’t see the purpose for all the turns, although it may make sense in terms of Auburn trip patterns. Ridership was low but present, around 4 people total.

      At Federal Way TC, the last 578 had left at 10:30pm, the last 574 at 9:15. So I took the A. It took 30 minutes to SeaTac station, or 6 minutes less than the 574 would have. Ridership was typical for RR A off-peak: half the seats taken. I could see deleting the 574 off-peak since it’s speed advantage is only 6 minutes. But that would probably anger people from Pierce County who’d have to transfer to the airport. I could also see extending the A to Tacoma, replacing the 500 and truncating the 574. That would be a tricky three-agency agreement. But if the A had wide stop spacing south of Federal Way, as befits a semi-rural area, it could work. The one-seat ride would somewhat make up for not being on the freeway.

      • [The A] took 6 minutes less more than the 574 would have.

      • I have literally never been on or driven a 164 trip that wasn’t packed. It’s a very successful route, doubly so because it’s pretty new in the grand scheme of things. It was originally a variation of the 168, but it ended up considerably more successful than the 168.

        On Sundays, people are walking to the 168 or the 169, or not going anywhere. Demand is a bit lower in any case because the college is closed.

        There are no 30-foot Orions. If you were on an Orion, it was a 40-footer. And that seems right — there has been too much demand on the 164 for 30-footers for a long time.

  9. You know how fucked up the bus tunnel is right now? The outbound platform at CPS is FULL OF PEOPLE!

    • What happened? I arrived at University Street on a northbound Link train at 8:30 (later than usual) and everything was normal.

      • Apparently a NB 255 broke down in the tunnel. This caused some really crazy backups, including SB buses being completely stopped and lined up all the way back onto the I-5 direct express lane ramps. I was too far north in the tunnel to see what happened. Once things started moving they cleared up pretty quickly.

        This in combination with the complete traffic disaster caused by the Mercer closure pushed my commute way over the 2-hour mark today. Can you say, “RR E (and D, of course) needs dedicated ROW all the damn way downtown“?

      • I got caught in that. I only had to wait ten minutes for the 73 (/71/72), but the driver said he was 30 minutes late and a woman said she had waited an hour.

      • Yeah, I really got the double-whammy. I came into downtown on the 16, which became pretty much stationary north of Mercer, and based on the driver’s report of traffic conditions I figured I could walk to the tunnel faster than the bus could get me there (I walk very quickly and traffic was very slow). I got to CPS just before buses stopped moving. Then on my way to Kirkland the 255 had to be rerouted because of flooding on Bellevue Way.

        I should have biked today. Around the south end of Lake Washington. On a unicycle.

      • I guess I really don’t get why the tunnel thing had to be such a disaster. First, if the bus broke down between stations, couldn’t it be pushed into a clearing where other buses could get around? It would seem that would make it easier for help to get into the tunnel, rather than stopping up the whole works for so long. And the wait for the 255 itself was just ridiculously long, despite (apparently) only one bus going out of service. But I’m not sure why Metro/ST couldn’t have pulled something together and got one of the handful of “East Base” buses going through there to take the crowd of waiting passengers to, say, South Kirkland P&R, which isn’t that far out of the way. I guess the Bellevue Way flooding would have thrown a wrench into that plan, but it would have disrupted the route back to East Base too, right?

        As to the Mercer stuff, there are going to be a lot of Mercer closures in the next couple years. We could have two kinds of headlines:

        1. “Mercer construction makes driving downtown impossible!”

        2. “War on cars makes driving downtown impossible (subtitle: the buses are getting through fine)!”

        Reserved ROW all day every day for RR lines, at least from the ship canal all the way through downtown and as far as West Seattle or so. It needs to be the first priority on those roads, including the ones through LQA. We need people to flock to the transit system on bad travel days, not away from it.

      • I guess the Bellevue Way flooding

        What happens to East Link running in a trench between Bellevue Way and the swamp when it rains. Hypothetical question I know since it’ll never rain like this ever again around here.

      • @Bernie: I haven’t actually seen what’s going on. The driver announced that there was flooding at the interchange between Bellevue Way and 520, and Bellevue Way itself is pretty high ground at that point, so it might have just been part of the ramp from 520, which I guess is the low ground.

        Anyway, flooding at this interchange wouldn’t affect Link, which goes nowhere near it. Which certainly doesn’t mean that no low place on Bellevue Way had problems or that the Link tracks will be perfectly fine…

      • Civil engineering 101, Bernie.

      • @Zed: If it’s Civil Engineering 101 then I hope we hire sophomores to design Link. The 520/Bellevue Way interchange is (I think) temporary, but it’s brand new. And Mercer’s underpass of Aurora flooded, too.

  10. John Bailo says:

    New York Times Op-Ed:

    To Reduce Inequality, Tax Wealth, Not Income

    ..the majority of American families would receive an enormous tax cut. Some would owe only payroll taxes (for Social Security and Medicare) and state and local taxes every year, and others would pay less in wealth tax than they did in income tax. Taxes on earnings, capital gains, dividends and interest, all of which may distort decisions about working and investing, would disappear.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/19/opinion/to-reduce-inequality-tax-wealth-not-income.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0&smid=fb-share

    And all your transit dreams could be funded…with such a change in taxes…and most people would be fabulously happy!

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