News Roundup: Incredible

Sound Transit

This is an open thread.


  1. David L says

    Love the commenters on that Broad Street article complaining that the end of the world is nigh because metered street parking is being taken away… in a neighborhood that has lots of surplus garage and lot capacity.

    • Mike Orr says

      “It’s a car culture here, absolutely, and they need to make room for the parking as well.”

      A car culture in Belltown? Who knew?

      • Mark Y. says

        To be honest, it sort of is. It’s still 40 minutes to Capitol Hill, Eastlake, the U-District, etc. About the only place we can get to quickly here by transit is DT and LQA.
        That being said, there’s tons of parking around here. The spots in front of my building are always empty during the day (they fill up quickly after 8pm). And that stretch on Broad really needs help.

      • Mike Orr says

        So my first thought was, what would it take to make Belltown a non-car culture? Mark Y is saying it has more to do with transit out of Belltown than anything in Belltown itself.

        Although I despair when I see people in San Francisco driving from one part of Mission Street to another, or people in Chicago driving to or between urban neighborhoods. It seems like New York is the only place in the US that has achieved European levels of non-car ownership.

  2. Gordon Padelford says

    • Andrew Smith says

      Paul Constant is [ad hom]. Comparing Bogota to Seattle is like asking why we can’t open a subway line a year like Beijing and Shanghai do.

      • d.p. says

        Paul’s point is about false advertising.

        The contrast between what RapidRide is and what the term used to market it actually entails cannot be emphasized enough, especially in a city populated by the unworldly and the credulous (both the leaders and the plebs).

      • Andrew Smith says

        His point is idiotic:

        o what can we do here? I think first, it’s important to not allow any city official to get away with calling RapidRide bus rapid transit. It’s not. It fails to meet even the most basic definition of what a bus rapid transit system should be.

        Beyond being poorly punctuated, it should read “calling RapidRide ‘bus rapid transit'”, he basically says BRT is something that meets his definition, which is something not everyone agrees on. RapidRide is a bus, and it’s transit, and if it moved fast it would be BRT? So is the 594 BRT? What is brt?

        It’s ridiculous.

      • d.p. says

        Terms are terms, Andrew.

        “Light rail” isn’t called that because of the weight of the vehicles. It acquired that euphemistic name because the word “subway” made parochial West Coasters and Midwesterners of the late 20th century picture scary spraypaint-toting New Yorkers of color coming to destroy their way of life.

        Also, it sounded cheaper (which is often the case only if it’s totally half-assed).

        BRT got its name for its ability to mimic, in certain situations, and to achieve some of the benefits of an actual rapid transit system. The operative phrase here is “rapid transit”, and not merely the word “rapid”.

        Rapid transit systems that work do not zip straight to the suburbs on freeways. The 594 is not rapid transit.

        And BTW, yes, a compiled best-practices set of standards for BRT does exist:

      • Andrew Smith says

        My point, d.p, is that your average punter doesn’t care one single shit what your definition of a “rapid” bus transit is. They want a bus that is fast and comes frequently. There’s no reasonable way to say that rapidride is a failure because of semantics (which was Paul Constant’s idiotic point). That’s ludicrous even at face value. If RapidRide is a failure, it’s of some combination of not being fast or not being frequent, not because it’s miscategorised.

        I have no idea what “people of colour” (whatever that expression means, even) has to do with this.

      • Mike Orr says

        There’s wide disagreement on what’s required for BRT. The feds have thrown up their hands and recognized two levels of BRT, one with exclusive lanes, limited stops, and 100% off-board payment, like Swift or better, and the other with only some of those features, like RapidRide. Hopefully that will at least be a starting point. The main problem with BRT is it’s often planned to be rail-like, but because it’s so easy to water down, it ends up not being much better than regular buses. The reason this happens is a lot of people rate projects according to how low their initial capital cost is rather than on how useful it will be. To be truly transformative and gain mode share from cars, it has to be expensive enough to at least approach the convenience of driving.

        “Light” rail is an arbitrary technical distinction from heavy rail. The term became popular to denote a higher level of service than century-old streetcars (faster, underground segments, fewer stops), and to have a common term worldwide. Streetcar/tram/trolley have widely different meanings in different English-speaking countries.

        I don’t quite buy DP’s argument because the term “subway” is easily avoided. “Subway”‘s first connotation is underground, and most light rail systems in the US have few or no underground segments. Link is the only one that’s extensively underground, and even that has not been enough for the term “subway” to catch on among non-transit wonks. Maybe it’ll catch on when more underground stations open.

      • d.p. says


        The term “light rail” is used worldwide now, and has definitely regained some semantic neutrality. The cars are lighter and smaller, and therefore can run partially at grade without wreaking total havoc at crossings (though not without degrading your quality of service). That “light rail” encompasses an intermediate spectrum between streetcars and full subways is accepted, even though the spectrum is so wide as to include both the Houston Yakety Sax MetroRail and the high-capacity Vancouver SkyTrain or Docklands Light Railway.

        But the history remains: the term was coined as a euphemism by the Urban Mass Transportation Administration (predecessor to the FTA). New York and Chicago were disaster areas in 1972. Line extensions in Boston and nascent mass transit plans in Atlanta experienced pushback from suburbanites fearful of letting “those people” flood into their neighborhoods on loud, dirty trains.

        “Light rail” was a careful choice. It sounds non-threatening, non-invasive, clean and sleek, perhaps a bit cute. It even rhymes with “white”.

        It may have been a successful choice; that’s up to time to decide. Lots of stuff got built because of it, but much of that stuff is less than stellar.

        But it was definitely a choice. The term did not arise organically. As a result, Boston and Philadelphia and San Francisco now all run “light rail” systems that literally no one calls by that name!


        RapidRide is a failure of semantics. It advertised the attributes of BRT, and it took money (both from the feds and from the taxpayers via TransitNow) to implement the attributes of BRT. But because it has so few actual attributes of BRT, it isn’t fast.

        Because a bus on a street with no stations and few lanes and little priority will never be fast! A bus on a street with no stations and few lanes and little priority is the opposite of “BRT”!!

        One of the reasons we have RapidRide is because American politicians and transit planners — including our own — took junkets to Curitiba and came back effusing “look what we can do”. And then they didn’t do any of it.

        They saw BRT. The took to BRT. The fucked up BRT. They continued to sell it as BRT. That makes them liars.

        This was a semantically-enabled fraud.

      • Andrew Smith says

        d.p. I find your argument extremely unconvincing. Take the 545. It comes very often, it goes very fast. Is it brt? No. Does anyone care? No.

        Take the 41 in the morning form Northgate (or Lake City Way) to Downtown. It goes very fast. Is it brt? No. Does anyone care? No.

        Because of this, I bet the 358-cum-E will be “successful” for the reason that it will be fast.

        It’s also idiotic that Paul Constant thinks “city officials” are the ones who called RapidRide “BRT”

      • d.p. says

        Two things.

        1. [ad hom]

        2. Those bypassed by the 545 and 41 sure as hell care!

        The 545 and 41 are both of limited utility, because they only go a handful of places, bypassing all possiblye intermediate or connective trips. And the only reason they’re fast is that they take expressways to go those handful of places. Without the expressways, they wouldn’t be fast. (With PAYL, even their endpoint speed was compromised.)

        Their limited utility is why both of your named buses are being replaced with rapid transit that, for all their flaws, exponentially improve utility by service intermediate points and complete corridors.

        Even RapidRide E is terribly compromised: north of Green Lake, where actual stuff exists on Aurora, it won’t be particularly fast. South of there, it won’t be particularly useful. Ask Fremonters (or even Wallingforders) whether or not they give a shit about RapidRide E’s “success”.

        The only reason RapidRide C is “improving” is that it has about the same routing design as the 41. When most of your riders use only the express portion, it’s easy to make them happy with a slight bump in frequency (especially if you pretend any missed intermediate trips are an unrelated constituency).

        RapidRide D — the only line that ever pretended to function as an urban BRT corridor — is an unmitigated disaster.

        And although Paul was clearly generalizing when he used the term “city official”, intending to mean any area-based official with power over the form that urban transportation takes, Mayor Mcginn and various city council members have done more than their share of hyping RapidRide and mislabeling it as BRT.

      • Mike Orr says

        The 545 and 41 are not BRT or subway-equvalents for two reasons. One, they’re primarily point-to-point on their ends with 4+ miles nonstop in between, and two, their frequency drops off to regular buses. The 545 is half-hourly after 8pm weekdays and all day weekends, and the 41 is half-hourly after 7pm and Sundays. That makes it impossible to go to a station at any time in the day or evening and expect a bus within 15 minutes. ST has never called the 545 and 41 BRT; they’re called “regional expresses”.

      • David L says

        d.p., the 545 is not being “replaced” by East Link, but supplemented by it. It will still be faster than East Link by a considerable margin for the connection it makes, and it will still exist.

        And, really, who cares if those buses are of “limited utility” to the people in the middle, when they are already filled to capacity by people traveling between the endpoints?

        Maybe I’m just irritated by that remark because I just got off a SRO 41 less than ten minutes ago and I don’t think anyone on it would say it was of “limited utility.” When you are filling up express buses, run the express buses.

      • Andrew Smith says

        d.p., you have accused McGinn, and the unexplained “it” (the one who advertised RapidRapid) as fraudsters, said the 545 and the 41 are of limited utility, and that “BRT” and “light rail” are terms coined by racists.

        I am not saying you’re mad, but … it sounds a bit like you might be.

      • d.p. says

        Pop quiz, David.

        You’re coming home from the U-District.
        Now you’re one of those people in the middle.

        The 41 could run every 45 seconds all day and night, and it still wouldn’t be useful to you. If every other way home from Capitol Hill were hourly (and it often is, isn’t it?), you’d be livid about this high-frequency useless thing flying by.

        Until the train is built, the 41 is doing it’s job. I never opposed that.

        I oppose Andrew trying to redefine what “rapid transit” is and should be down to simply the word “rapid”. [Ad Hom]

        Right in the news roundup above, Martin writes that “the only point I’d add is that freeway-based BRT, like freeway-based light rail, has the problem of not going where the people are.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. The 545 is a great Microsoft shuttle and a not-so-great Redmond shuttle. But fuck you if you need to get either of those places from the middle of downtown Bellevue. Then you’re spending a freaking hour on the supposed “BRT”.

        [Ad Hom]

        My original points remain:
        RapidRide was sold as BRT.
        RapidRide is not BRT.
        Highway buses are something completely different than BRT.
        Language matters.
        We ride the fucked-up proof of how much language matters every day.

      • d.p. says

        Andrew, anything that only does one thing has a “limited utility”.

        That’s not to say that one thing isn’t important.
        Or that it can’t do that one thing well.
        It just says that it only does one thing.

        So it’s limited to that one thing.
        And doesn’t help with any of the other things.
        So the other things have to be done some other way.

        “Limited” is a description, not a judgment.

        A true rapid transit line is far less limited than an express bus, because you can get on and off at many points and therefore use it in many ways. That’s not to say a subway is “unlimited” in its usefulness, but it is less limited for sure.

        Meanwhile, anyone who oversold RapidRide was party to a fraud, whether or not they were nefarious.

        And “light rail” was coined as a euphemism, no matter how much you’d like to whitewash history. Deal with it.

      • d.p. says

        Lastly, I never said that those at the UMTA who coined the term “light rail” were racists. I said that they were aware of a prevailing national anti-urban bias at the time — and yes, an associated racism — and were looking to euphemistically tiptoe around it.

        I also never said anything about the “BRT” and race in America. BRT was invented and first correctly implemented in South America. Race was not a factor; cost and mobility were.

        By the time “BRT” found its way to North America, rapid transit was fashionable again. The term would be more appealing to anyone than “the plain old bus”. The semantic problem is that the “BRT” here has essentially no “RT” in it. Again, nothing to do with race.

      • Andrew Smith says

        Thanks for illustrating exactly what I was talking about, you’ve given me a tremendous amount of credibility.

      • d.p. says

        Clinging to gut feelings in violation of language, precedent, facts, or any interest in learning anything new ever ≠ “credibility”.

      • d.p. says

        Signing into your legacy account so that you get a cute little border around your insult also ≠ “credibility.

      • Andrew Smith says

        Shorter d.p.:

        “BRT” is a phrase with a very serious meaning. If you use it and don’t meet some magical definition, you are guilty of fraud. In fact, you can judge the success of a project that has had that phrase applied to it entirely on the whether or not it meets the arbitrary definition.

        On the other hand, “Light Rail” is a racist word. (Why this is salient is left as an exercise to the reader, I presume).

        TIL: If you disagree with d.p., he will insult you endlessly, imply you have all kinds of negative character traits, bring up things you said ages ago, misconstrue your words and your intentions, and provide textbook examples of “ad hominem” attacks.

        d.p., it’s been a blast, but if you are even a bit concerned whether you come of as a madman, you may want to tone down vicious personal attacks. “Legacy” accounts may not add credibility, but obvious, striking madness doesn’t either.

      • d.p. says

        Blah. You can’t argue with poor reading comprehension.

        In fact, you can judge the success of a project that has had that phrase applied to it entirely on the whether or not it meets the arbitrary definition.

        Yes. 100%. And I’ve already linked to it:

        Do that, and you’ve got BRT.
        Don’t do that, and you’ve got RapidRide.

        Why you would think it’s remotely acceptable to sell the former and deliver the latter is beyond me.

        Again, the term “light rail” isn’t “racist”. But it’s origins lie in an attempt to avoid scaring an urban-phobic populace. How is that not clear? Do you deny that the 1950s-1980s were an urban-phobic time in the United States?

        If you continue to deny that language carries meaning, that transit service should do what it claims, and that people should call spades spades, your opinion will continue to be invalid.

      • d.p. says

        Heck, half the population of Seattle proper is still urban-phobic. That’s why we’re still arguing about modest density and tepid transit proposals all the time.

        And this city voted down a big scary landscape-changing subway project in the era before the kindler, gentler “light rail” was a marketing option.

        If anything, we live in the poster city for the attitude I’m describing.

      • d.p. says

        Lastly, I find it hypocritical that you continue to lob insults and accusations of insanity while bemoaning my “textbook …ad hominems”.

        You are clearly, and perhaps willfully, misunderstanding what I have written. I have attempted to patiently explain, more coherently and in greater detail. But apparently wanting you to understand a fairly basic matter of transit geometry — which you do not — makes me some kind of aggressive monster to be pathologized and penalized.

        Never have I lived in a city where people cling so desperately to their ignorance. This is precisely why I have so little hope for Seattle.

      • David L says


        1) If I were in the U-District late at night, why would I be livid about the hourly 41? (Yes, it too is hourly at night, despite ridership that would easily justify half-hourly service.)
        2) The logical implication of your argument is that we should cancel the 41 and just run the 66 (but FREQUENTLY!) on the downtown-Northgate corridor until Link opens. Is that really what you want? It would delay and antagonize the bulk of Northgate riders for the benefit of a few people who, most of the day, already have frequent service of their own on the 7x.

        You serve the most people the most effectively with the tools you have. When that includes a freeway and an extremely slow and convoluted surface street network, but no grade-separated transit facilities, serving the most people the most effectively is going to include the freeway.

      • d.p. says

        Thank you!

        the hourly 41…

        Although I wasn’t trying to bait you (pinky swear), I was really hoping you’d say that. Because it points to exactly what Andrew is willfully refusing to comprehend here (but I’m pretty sure you do).

        When you run point-to-point expresses, the very limited utility that he attacked me for describing will lead to a precipitous drop in demand at times when the one thing it happens to do (downtown to far north) is needed by fewer people.

        Sure, it could probably justify half-hourly after 10, but not better. Not even a fraction of volumes that the multi-destination rapid transit corridor replacing it can.

        And the limited-utility -> low frequency -> low demand cycle is self-perpetuating. Do most people care how “rapid” it is at times when it barely runs? No! It’s just one more reason to drive!

        And that’s why no commuter expresses on earth are “rapid transit”. Andrew is not just fighting language here, but fighting reality.

        The logical implication of your argument…

        The logical implication is to finish building the train as fast as possible, thus solving the “limited utility” problem, and with it the limited demand and limited service problems. (I’ve argued for more urbanity in Link, but I’ve never opposed Northgate in the slightest.)

        Though if the 66 ran every 10 minutes all evening (the time of day when it’s reliably fast), I doubt you’d much object.

  3. Mike H says

    I found the Fairview article interesting about the SLU street car barn.

    Seattle says that they will have extra room. However, the question I have is since we know that the First Hill Streetcar’s maintenance facility will not have enough room to accommodate extra cars 9such as the Waterfront cars), what will happen when Seattle wants to install more lines per the TMP and the Streetcar planning report. Are we going to have to build a new facility for every line? Seems like we are spending money for the sake of it.

    • David Seater says

      I’d imagine that once we get streetcar lines that actually connect to each other we’ll build a central storage and maintenance facility. As long as we keep building disconnected lines we’ll obviously need separate facilities for each.

    • alexjonlin says

      I think they picked the First Hill Streetcar barn site with the idea in mind that it could easily be expanded. But maybe they would need another facility along the Ballard-Fremont Line, I haven’t heard anything about that.

  4. Andrew smith says

    That Bellevue response article is light on data, I learned very little for. Reading it.

    • Matt the Engineer says

      I laughed at that as well, until I found out that although they hold a lot of properties in Manhattan recently they’ve been building office parks in Arizona, California, and New Jersey. Compared to that, Bellevue’s pretty vibrant. Not sure about the 24-7 bit though. Have they been to Bellevue after work hours?

      • aw says

        You know, that block was probably where most of the nightlife in Bellevue was back when the bowling alley and John Danz were open.

      • Benjamin C says

        Downtown Bellevue is less vibrant than Downtown Missoula, Montana most nights. If they can’t beat out a small college town, they have no business bragging about liveliness.

    • Andrew Smith says

      That article was better than the one martin linked to which was 95% platitudes rather than 90%.

      It is surprising they would consider building that much office space on spec, but maybe it’s not that, they are just going through the motions now and trying to get a tenant signed on as the process works its way out. It seems they are buying an option to build rather than the property.

    • Charles says

      For some reason, I thought this had already been settled. Amen to his ___ getting tanned.

  5. Chris I says

    The video from King5 about the landslides is frustrating to watch. The guy is standing in the middle of a grass yard, where a forest once stood, and wondering why he is having landslide problems? Are people really this stupid?

    • Benjamin C says

      Yes, they are. Forest should not even be allowed to be cleared above steep slopes, especially if that slope is above a major rail corridor.

      • Nathanael says

        In general, I have found that the answer to the question “Are people really this stupid?” is always “Yes”. No matter what subject you are talking about.

        Perhaps the reduction of the pervasive lead in the environment will reduce the general stupidity level. Leaded gasoline appears to have been the worst thing that humans have ever done to themselves.

  6. Alex Francis Burchard says

    I rode the Istanbul subway a couple days ago, and I was just blown away by how clean, spacious, quick, and modern the trains and stations were. Their escalators even slow to a crawl when no one is on them to conserve energy. Its really very impressive. I wish we could create such an experience in the states. I rode the metro in Ankara yesterday, not as sparkly as Istanbul, but still quite a bit better than your average American subway, spacious, quick, clean, quiet. Just nice.

    • Mark in Kenmore says

      Ah, so that was you on Reddit. :)

      What would you say is the highest quality subway or light rail system in the USA? Are there any you’re aware of that compare to your experience in Istanbul?

      • Alex Francis Burchard says

        Oh no, you know what a turd I am then! haha. It was.

        Subways, I was pretty impressed with MARTA in Atlanta, Light Rail, Seattle is the best I’ve ridden, in terms of being clean, fast, and awesome (though, I have a home bias, and it is brand new, we’ll see if Seattle Maintains better than other cities or not. If they take Chicago’s path, God help us) I would say none of them come close to the whole experience of Istanbul’s subway. I could get from my friend’s apartment in Istanbul-Mediceyekoy, to my hotel in maslak in about 15-20 minutes, at 11:45 pm. I couldn’t do that in any city in the states I’ve been to. And I could see when the next train was in the station, there were projection screens to keep you entertained in the stations, as well as other information like traffic for the city. The trains were sparkling clean, fast, super quiet, had TVs in them, digital line maps saying where you were, AND which direction you were going(stations already passed were red, stations yet to come green, and arrows), digital signs stating the next station and such. Buying a ticket was easy, and I barely speak any turkish, there was enough english to make it easy for me to figure out. The signage was marvelous to get you around the massive stations, signs told you every stop each platform served, it was just SUPER well thought out and maintained so far.

        I really wish I knew more about how it is funded, and run, if anyone here knows, please speak up!!

      • Nathanael says


        Direct funding from the city government, which also owns most of the utilities. (Some are owned by the national government.) Bank loans are involved, too, since the city can’t get all the construction money in one fell swoop.

        I do not know the city’s funding methods. I believe the city gets some funding straight from the national government. It also has its own taxing power (property tax at least, possibly other taxes), but I’m having trouble finding English-language information on that.

        So, pretty typical really. The key feature is that the municipal *and* national governments are both strong supporters of passenger rail.

  7. says

    I was just on the 255 yesterday for the first time in a few weeks. There’s a whole new entrance to the South Kirkland P&R! It looks like the 234 and 235 will have to make fewer extra turns to serve the P&R loop… but the 255 now makes 4 extra compared to just going straight up 108th! Northbound it’s 3 extra lefts and an extra right!

    This seems like utter madness. Wouldn’t we we better off letting the buses run straight through on adjacent streets and building better pedestrian crossings of 108th? All the routes there (255, 234, 235, and 249) use 108th between Northup and 38th (it’s not perfectly natural for the 249…).

    • Bernie says

      I’m not sure anything is finalized yet at S. Kirkland P&R. The whole place is torn up as they build Overlake Village West.

      • Mike Orr says

        I was not aware that a Safeway, Sears, Fred Meyer, and a lot of apartments were going up in south Kirkland. Maybe on the south end of 108th and Northup Way? :) Although if that strip of space-wasting low-density non-single-family buildings were redeveloped, it would be an improvement.

      • Bernie says

        Overlake Village, or as it’s been rebranded The Village at Overlake Station is the subsidized housing project that was responsible for the terribly sited P&R that currently plagues RR B. South Kirkland is obviously well utilized but this same type of development will forever doom the lot with substandard service vs what it could be had they done a land swap with WSDOT and relocated to where there could be a Kingsgate type flyer stop. Given the terrible utilization of the Houghton P&R building the project there, adjacent to other apartments instead of in a single family neighborhood would have made a lot more sense. But S. Kirkland is even worse than Overlake Village since they’re going to spend bookoo bucks replacing capacity with structured parking. How do you build “affordable” housing? Why, start by building two $40k parking stalls for each unit of course, DOH!

      • Bernie says

        Yes, but it’s the TOD that means routes like RR B are forced to serve it instead of selling it or making it primarily a commute only destination. Now that same mistake is being duplicated at S. Kirkland. That lot is in a terrible location. Houghton OTOH could be a fantastic location if instead of spending the money on structured parking at S. Kirkland that same money was put into center lane access à la Kinggate/Totem Lake.

      • Mike Orr says

        I haven’t heard Houghton P&R suggested before, but yes, it would make a much better TOD node than South Kirkland. It’s close enough to downtown Kirkland that frequent Kirkland-Redmond buses could be extended to it, Google is nearby, there’s an existing supermarket shopping center, and my friend lives within walking distance. :) Has Kirkland and/or Metro realized its potential?

      • Bernie says

        It appears the only potential Metro sees in the Houghton P&R is as a parking lot for van pools. It would be a great spot for all the reasons mentioned but the reason Kirkland and a few sharp developers landed on the South Kirkland P&R location is because they were able to leverage federal dollars doled out to mitigate impacts of 520 construction. Hell of a way to mitigate; tear up the lot at the same time you do the highway. Point out that it’s costing $60-100k per unit to build the structured parking and the city officials go all deer in the headlights.

      • aw says

        Regarding Houghton P&R, it would be a major project to add a freeway station accessible from the HOV lanes there. There is no median south of the interchange that could be used for ramps. On the other hand, since a lot of the traffic would be buses headed to/from Seattle on SR520, the outside lane bus stops probably are preferable. Maybe a relatively cheap amenity would be a ped. bridge over the freeway, ramps and NE 116th with access to the freeway stops.

        Mike, is it really a decent walkable area? The supermarkets are more that 8 blocks away with a long detour north to the interstate bridge. And I’m not sure that diverting Kirkland-Redmond buses to Houghton would be in the best interest of people who want to get between Kirkland and Redmond.

      • Bernie says

        since a lot of the traffic would be buses headed to/from Seattle on SR520, the outside lane bus stops probably are preferable.

        All those buses have to go northbound too and actually the major bus routes affected would be ST 532 and 535 to Bellevue. The 550 from there is an option for getting to Seattle but most people using a P&R would just go to S. Kirkland anyway. Center access was achieved at Kingsgate which lacks center median as well. Certainly not cheap but on the order of 5X less than they are going to spend replacing existing capacity at S. Kirkland with a parking garage. Houghton is on Old Redmond Road and already has decent, by eastside standards bus service. Groceries are quite a schlep walking with the Albertsons on NE 85th gone but frequent buses go past the Bridle Trails Red Apple and the Houghton QFC. And if they followed the model they are using for S. Kirkland ground floor would be additional retail which would serve all the neighboring apartments/condos. There’s also several schools within walking distance.

        Maybe a relatively cheap amenity would be a ped. bridge over the freeway, ramps and NE 116th with access to the freeway stops.

        Already has that but service is so spare because of having to exit the HOV lanes that hardly anybody uses the P&R.

      • Mike Orr says

        “Mike, is it really a decent walkable area? The supermarkets are more that 8 blocks away with a long detour north to the interstate bridge.”

        Maybe not. I only go to the area occasionally, and I may have underestimated the distance. In any case I was thinking more about expanding the existing node at 108th & 68th than about the freeway station.

        “And I’m not sure that diverting Kirkland-Redmond buses to Houghton would be in the best interest of people who want to get between Kirkland and Redmond.”

        The main Kirkland-Redmond buses already go that way rather than 85th. I was thinking of making them more full-time frequent.

    • asdf says

      The whole South Kirkland P&R design is insane. Beyond the points you just mentioned, having the buses going opposite directions serve the exact same stop is asking for trouble. For starters, you have northbound buses holding up southbound buses, or vice-versa. On top of that, I’m sure there are a fair number of inexperienced riders who have accidentally boarded the bus going the wrong way.

      • says

        Inexperienced riders? Sometimes I get on the wrong direction there, and I should definitely know better. And if I’m riding through northbound during the morning rush and there’s a crowd of people waiting for a southbound bus it’s pretty common for someone to ask if the bus is going to Seattle (if anyone boards the driver often asks, “You’re not trying to go to Seattle, right?”).

      • David L says

        Confirmed. It’s particularly fun when the inexperienced riders head into town for a ballgame and you pull in driving a northbound 255. I’d make the announcement: “THIS BUS IS NOT GOING DOWNTOWN. WE ARE GOING TO KIRKLAND AND KINGSGATE.” Invariably after a few blocks going north on 108th someone would still ask where we were going and why we weren’t on the freeway.

      • Mike Orr says

        That happens a lot on the northbound 30 too. People end up in the middle of nowhere in Sand Point and say, “I thought we were going downtown” or “I thought we were going to the U-District.” So the driver has to explain to go across the street and wait for the next bus. So many people have lost an hour or more of their day because of this.

      • David L says

        Where in the heck do people get on a northbound 30 thinking it’s southbound? They don’t have any stops in common (except the NOAA terminal). Those are some challenged people.

      • Mike Orr says

        These people think all buses go to downtown. The few who realize the 30 is a shuttle to the U-District, assume that the first bus stop they see goes to the U-District.

      • Bernie says

        The 249 is especially bad since it comes up the hill regardless of whether or not it’s headed to Bellevue or to Overlake. And when you come in on a Seattle bound 255 and there’s a 249 already waiting there’s no way to tell which direction it’s going.

  8. Orv says

    The telecommuting thing is not surprising. I’m not sure why people keep expecting “labor-saving” technologies to actually cause them to work less. In a capitalist economy, reducing the labor needed to do something just means that that job becomes cheaper, and you need to do more of it to make the same money.

    • David L says

      And, at the moment, the benefits of productivity improvements all flow to capital rather than labor.

    • Mike Orr says

      “We were left behind to bewail our fate.”

      I wonder what first-, second-, and third-class carriages were like.

      • Nathanael says

        The system used at the time did not have corridors inside the trains. You can fit a hell of a lot more seats in a train if there are no corridors. Each carriage had a stupendous number of doors, one (on each side) for each of the many, many compartments.

  9. SR Das says

    Idea for a DSTT Improvement:

    RapidRide-type “next bus” arrival displays at ALL bus bays at ALL stations. Especially important since cell phones (and thus One Bus Away, even if it is the text-only version in a $30 LG Tracfone) DO NOT work in the DSTT.

      • Matt L (aka Angry Transit Nerd) says

        No. They already installed those LED VMSs. Just make them do something useful instead of encouraging people to report suspicious activities to Metro employees or security officers.

      • Mike Orr says

        It just takes money to install a countdown system and use it. I can’t believe ST settled for a system of “Next train southbound in 2 minutes”. Nowhere in the world have I seen that. But it’s like the MLK surface route; a way to save money. If they want something inexpensive, they could at least install count-up clocks so that people would know how long ago the last train departed. The Moscow and St Petersburg metros have that throughout, while Link just has two obscure clocks for the drivers. (One southbound at Mt Baker; the other northbound I could never find.)

  10. Lack Thereof says

    North Sounder is a PR disaster for regional transit as a whole right now.

    Dori Monson has been railing against “The Sound Transit” all week on KIRO-FM based on North Sounder’s cost per rider, low ridership, and mudslide cancellations. Also he dug up some ridership projection from the 90’s, based on the assumption of all-day service on the North line, and has been using it to shout about how “the sound transit” is lying.

    We can sit here and discuss the finer points of sub-area equity all day, and how it’s Snohomish County’s own money to waste as they see fit, but the general population isn’t making those kind of distinctions. It’s tarnishing the whole agency and the whole system, and will likely jeopardize ST3 if nothing is done.

    Can anyone think of a way to convince the North Sounder backers to drop their support? Maybe throwing them more money for some other, better smelling project in the same general area?

    • Jim Cusick says

      Dori Monson has always done that. That Luke Burbank is doing it now shows his credibility is borrowed from Dave Ross.

      • Citizen says

        Who’s Dori Monsun? When is her radio program?

        And whatever happened to rising to challenges and fixing them? When we were building the interstate system, did we listen to radio hostesses talk about how it shouldn’t have been built? When we got attacked at Pearl Harbor did we sit around listening to hand wringers like this lady?

        Radio is dying. People like her aren’t helping it any.

      • Mike Orr says

        Dori has been a Seattle radio host for many years. More of a regular host than a themed talk show. KIRO is the most listened-to news station, but I wouldn’t say Dori’s opinions are particularly influential.

    • David L says

      Yeah, Dori would be railing against “the Sound Transit” even if every single service it ran had the packed ridership of the 550 and the reliability of Central Link. He’s just part of the “war on cars” background noise.

  11. Bernie says

    Homes reach record affordability

    Last year is poised to set another record for home affordability, thanks to lower prices and record-low interest rates, the National Association of Realtors reported Tuesday. Local affordability also surged last year,

    No need to chuck the zoning laws just yet.

    • Matt the Engineer says

      Nothing like a national housing price collapse followed by a long awaited income recovery to make housing affordable. Of course, that’s not local news. King County’s at 132, compared to a national 194, and is down 14 points from last year. I have a feeling Seattle’s even worse.

      • Bernie says

        Actually “up from 131.9 in the second quarter and 127 a year earlier”. It’s down from Q1 of 2012. Hard to say where it will be in three months but the Fed has made clear it is going to maintain hysterically low interest rates, the job market is improving and lots of new supply is in the pipeline; especially in Seattle..

      • Lack Thereof says

        lots of new supply is in the pipeline; especially in Seattle.

        I would argue with “especially in Seattle” – how many units does a hard-fought-for urban village upzone add compared to a rubber-stamped low-density suburban subdivision? And I would say “lots” might be overstating it given current demand, especially if the job market seriously improves, but I generally agree. We are slowly crawling towards affordability in King County.

      • Bernie says

        I have a feeling Seattle’s even worse.

        That would be correct according to the Census Bureau QuickFacts. No shock that the median home price is higher in Seattle than for King County (~$453k vs $402k) but I was surprised that median household income is significantly lower (~$62k vs $70.5k). Median household income is higher for Bellevue ($84.5k) and the affordability index is half way between that of Seattle and King County take as a whole. Auburn appears to be the winner on the affordability index. The poor people are being railroaded ;-)

      • East Coast Cynic says

        The job market is improving—-primarily in low paying jobs, which may be tough for taking advantage of the new supply in the pipeline.

        Then again, around here, its usually good if you are a software engineer.

    • Bernie says

      Here’s an older article from the Seatle Sometimes. King County housing-affordability index best in 17 years:

      In addition to its overall housing-affordability index, the Center for Real Estate Research calculates an index for first-time buyers. That one assumes a lower down payment, slightly higher interest rate, lower income and less-expensive house.

      King County’s third-quarter score was 67.5, suggesting affording a starter home remains a challenge for many.

      Still, it’s probably less challenging than in the third quarter of 2006, when that index hit an all-time low of 38.6.

      These are truly exceptional times when you can buy relatively cheap and lock in an interest rate most likely to be less than the rate of inflation over the life of the loan. Free money from the Fed, wait… isn’t that what caused the housing bubble and resultant recession in the first place?

      • Nathanael says

        It’s all very well for it to be cheaper to get a house, but if you’re already $20,000 down on student loans, you’re probably not gonna take on *more* debt.

    • Mike Orr says

      “Affordability” has got to be the most abused relative term in the world. Wake me up when somebody with a mid 5-figure salary can afford a Seattle home without worrying about devastation if he loses his job and can’t find another immediately.

  12. Stephen F says

    Is it just me or does the I-5 third lane scheme sound like a terrible idea? It just makes the weave that much worse. About the only improvement is a meter.

    • alexjonlin says

      I don’t think so – right now a lot of the weave results from people merging from the Seneca lane to the through lanes when that lane becomes exit-only, whereas with these changes they can stay in the lane. Although I’m usually very much against freeway expansion, this feels less like expansion and more like fixing an efficiency problem.

      • Stephen F says

        I get the feeling that the overall efficiency to be gained in way less than 25%, probably not more than 5% to 10% when all factora are considered. How does this help transit? (except the very few UW-bound expresses, sort of) I say spend the money on TSP or something for HCT. Screw SOVs.

      • Matt the Engineer says

        Yep. $25M can move a lot more people with transit than this fix will for cars. Hey, that might buy a basic gondola line somewhere.

      • David L says

        I’m with alexjonlin here. This is the sort of road project that makes sense. It will ameliorate a chronic bottleneck and have region-wide benefits for not a huge amount of money.

      • Stephen F says

        Why ameliorate traffic that is SOV in nature? Why do you want to induce MORE traffic? If this had a measurable benefit to HOV, I’d there with you. It’s not. It will only make traffic worse in the long run by increasing volumes, it’s not managing traffic, save for the meter.

      • aw says

        Because, like it or not, lots of people are driving SOVs through town? Not to mention lots of HOVs and trucks and buses.

      • David L says

        Why ameliorate traffic that is SOV in nature?

        Because growth is good; capacity begets growth; and, in this case, we can expand capacity without any ill effects.

        The reason to dislike SOV-oriented projects is because they suck up money and, most of the time, harm the areas through which they’re built. This one does neither.

      • Stephen F says

        That absolutely does not stand to reason. It will continue to spur induced demand from East King and South King County, exactly where people should not be coming from via SOV. It’s an awful idea. If you want to help HOVs, put in an HOV. Of course, I really don’t see how that is feasible here considering the location of ramps. Spend the $23 million on something for HOVs or don’t spend it at all.

      • David L says

        I don’t think of this as “inducing demand,” I think of it as fixing an artificial bottleneck. Inducing demand would be spending billions to widen the freeway by two lanes, not merely making the most of the pavement that’s already there.

        It just doesn’t make sense to say “we’ve already built this facility, but we can’t make full use of it because it might benefit SOVs too much.”

      • Eric H says

        Five decades of highway projects have demonstrated that you don’t “fix” bottlenecks. You just move them around some.

      • Nathanael says

        The only cases where I’ve seen road bottlenecks “fixed” is river bridges — adding additional river bridges in other locations does actually help sometimes.

        Other “bottleneck” situations are generally induced-traffic situations, where you have too much traffic for roads — instead of “more roads” you often want railroads at that point.

  13. Nathanael says

    “You know, in the old days….”

    A district, as it got denser, would have fully detached single family houses replaced with *semi-detached* single-family houses or duplexes, and then with *rowhouses*. This was not considered to be a big problem.

    Side lot setbacks were not required by law. Why in the name of all that is holy are they required now? (Fire code is certainly not a good enough reason.)

    • Stephen F says

      If you can convince fire departments of that, every planner in the world will worship you.

      • Nathanael says

        Manhattan does not have lot setbacks.

        Yes, fire departments would now like you to put in a “firewall” when you build two large buildings right next to each other. This works a hell of a lot better than a setback (flames DO go through air).

        If fire departments are claiming that setbacks are important for fire prevention, they’re full of shit and should be told to shut up.

      • Nathanael says

        I suppose these small setbacks might have some value in an area with no wind to speak of. I’ve never been in such an area, and where I live we get tornado-force winds. Setbacks are worthless, unless they’re humungous 50-foot rural setbacks.

  14. GuyOnBeaconHill says

    Excellent reading from the GAO:

    Pilot Program Could Help Determine the Viability of Mileage Fees for Certain Vehicles

    The report contains lots of facts that relate to the transportation funding topics that are frequently discussed here. It also might show that Norman is right when he says that he is paying for his share of road costs, if his vehicle is small enough. But there still is a huge deficit in road operation and maintenance funding that isn’t going to get better in the foreseeable future without major changes.

  15. AndrewN says

    If you are a Ballard resident, the Ballard District Council has a survey regarding the transit changes. I would encourage those who live in Ballard to take the survey. Especially with the readers/commenters here, it should provide useful feedback.

  16. John Bailo says

    I have been over to SeaTac a couple of times over the holidays, picking up and dropping off, as well as travelling, and it seems to be the whole departure and arrival ramp situation is in need of redesign.

    Basically you have four lanes and yet people want to park and drop off in three of them…all the while traffic has to flow through! I am wondering if they could encourage the use of the new LINK station as a drop off point instead. Maybe they could let people with boarding passes ride free the one stop. Also how about having baggage drop off facilities open at the SeaTac stop once you exit the train…in the same fashion that they have curbside baggage check they could have station-side baggage check thus transit passengers would not have to lug big bags all through the airport and not have to wait in long lines.

    Overall it seems like the topology of the airport should be expanded so that queues do not get so clogged.

    • asdf says

      Simply offering free rides from TIBS isn’t going to be enough, as the delay at the drop-off line would have to be at least 10 minutes just to break even.

      The only way to effectively meter the pick-up-and-drop-off traffic is to impose a dynamic congestion charge to use it.

      An example of the wrong approach to managing drop-off queues is what Newark does. Private cars can use the drop-off area for free while hotel courtesy shuttles are forced to drop people off at a satellite terminal from which you have to transfer to a train to reach the real terminal.

  17. John Bailo says

    My response in comments to the article on telecommuting:

    So, they effort has always been to destroy the middle class suburbs because they cannot be controlled by the centralized state apparatus. Anything that gives a person independence, whether it is wholly owned land, a savings account, a small business or a car, has to be destroyed by the Statists.

    Now it’s telecommuting. The reason being is that they don’t want us to use cars, but then again they do as long as they are Smart Cars…and by smart cars they mean ones that have RFID chips that can tax by the mile. So yes, they want us to move around, but only when they can clock each foot traveled and turn it into a tax.

    Here Slate plays the obvious mouthpiece of laying it all out…my as the New York Times peppered us with editorials about how we “really need to” raise taxes on everyone before Papa Bama socked us all for several thousands of dollars in a payroll tax increase.

    • David L says

      You’ve officially been assimilated into the Agenda 21 conspiracy theorist Borg.

      No one wants to destroy your middle class suburb or your independence.

      We just want to stop giving it subsidies and unfair regulatory advantages over our dense city.

    • Nathanael says

      This is a mixture of half-truths and nonsense which has been spread by propagandists for the 0.1% for their own benefit.

      Real independence comes from either cities or rural areas. Suburbs are by far the easiest for a Big Government to control, unfortunately. (Yes, I live in one.)

      • Nathanael says

        Rural areas are independent for different reasons (huge distances, not worth conquering) from cities (walking, anonymity)

      • Nathanael says

        I’ve left out about a dozen of the reasons cities promote independence from a “big government”, mostly to do with the sheer social power of crowds. The French Revolution started in Paris, not in “suburbs”, and not in the oppressed rural areas.

  18. Joseph Singer says

    I don’t know if this is a good place to ask, but here goes. If you enter a bus and find that the ORCA card reader is down you of course can’t pay for passage with ORCA. What about the rest of the passengers? Why should ORCA people get free passage and cash people have to pay a fare?

    • David L says

      Because sometimes stuff breaks and we have to keep service moving.

      The cash farebox breaks a LOT more often than the ORCA reader.

  19. John Bailo says

    US Department of Energy free webinar:

    Wind-to-Hydrogen Cost Modeling and Project Findings

    During the project, NREL analyzed the cost of hydrogen production via wind-based water electrolysis at 42 potential sites in 11 states across the nation. The analysis included centralized plants producing DOE’s target of 50,000 kg of hydrogen per day, using both wind and grid electricity.

    • Bernie says

      The problem with this money for nothing scheme is that for any electricity generated by wind it’s highest valued use, both economically and for the environment is to replace electricity produced from burning fossil fuels. Given over 60% of U.S. electricity is from coal and natural gas there’s a long long way to go before any other use makes any sense at all. But, assuming the day comes where we have a surplus of carbon neutral electricity hydrogen is still faced with so many fundamental flaws that it’s ludicrous to believe it would ever make sense as a replacement for gasoline. Car makers are using the Hydrogen Highway scam to get the government to push out the dates for tighter CAFE standards. The energy industry is hot on the idea because the cheapest source of hydrogen would be from natural gas of which we are currently blessed/cursed with an abundance.

      • John Bailo says

        Gasoline is not a fuel…it’s an energy…really a hydrogen carrier!

        You do not get gasoline out of the earth as we know. It’s a product, a by-product, of oil refining, which is very energy intensive itself. The most valuable product of oil are the plastics. Once gasoline is created, it still must be enriched to boost the octane to make it usable for modern vehicles. That is why the US already makes so much hydrogen…to add into the gasoline…ironically, we’re already running our cars on hydrogen which is the energy of the non-fuel known as gasoline!!

      • Bernie says

        Material such as coal, gas, or oil that is burned to produce heat or power.

        The critical difference between fossil fuels like gasoline, even that produced from energy intensive sources such as oil sands is that you get more energy back than you put in. In the production of hydrogen it’s always a net loss. Electricity -> Hydrogen -> Electricity. You lose, always, forever unless the laws of thermodynamics are repealed. You really don’t have an answer for why electricity generated from wind would not be best used as electricity to replace that generated by fossil fuels. Sort of puts the whole stupid idea into perspective, no?

      • Anandakos says


        Hydrogen electrolysis is actually an environmentally sound use of the “surplus” wind available when winds are high and the rivers are flowing. It doesn’t make sense to build distribution lines sufficient to move the highest volumes of power generation possible in the upper gorge area where so many windfarms have been located, so having a plant to electrolyze river water would not be a bad investment. The hydrogen could be liquified for barge shipment.

        Now it’s true that nobody would call such hydrogen “cheap”. But it’s potentially a way to avoid having to luff those extremely valuable wind machines in times of high river flow.

      • Bernie says

        . It doesn’t make sense to build distribution lines sufficient to move the highest volumes of power generation possible

        BS, BPA routinely sends hydro power all the way to California on our existing antiquated grid. And much of our wind generated power comes from California. There is never ever a time when we have so much hydro power on the west coast that there aren’t fossil fuel plants running to make up the deficit. Barging hydrogen down the Columbia River, Oiks!

      • Nathanael says

        Anandakos, it would be more effective to use the wind power to operate existing pumped-storage hydro systems.

        On top of that, I’m working with people who’ve developed a new (non-chemical) battery technology with 100 times the energy density of any current battery.

        That beats hydrogen, game, set, match.

  20. Anandakos says

    The same dozen people dominate discussions on any topic on two of them, Debbie Peterson and Carolyn Crain, actually ran for the state representative in the 49th district.

    What an embarrassment, but at least they got their heads handed to them. It doesn’t seem to have taught them anything, though; they basically despise their district’s electorate.

    All I have to say is “Thank God I can vote for Jim Moeller!” His very existence causes the wingnuts’ heads to explode. Sweet!

You may want to read our comment policy.