(h/t Gordon Werner)
TriMet, the Portland Streetcar, and C-Tran (Vancouver, WA) have announced the name of the new smart fare payment system coming in 2017: Hop Fastpass. The name derives from a community engagement process in which Portlanders wanted to promote their craft brewery industry.
The Hop Fastpass will be groundbreaking, at least as far as transit systems in the US go, in several ways:
The daily and monthly caps will only be available on the Hop card.
TriMet unveiled their mobile ticket app a year ago, and have sold over 5 million mobile tickets. Dallas Area Rapid Transit was the first transit agency in the US to implement mobile payment, but originally on its trains only. TriMet is the first to do so on trains and buses. DART is now offering mobile payment on buses as well.
Discussions about density, transit, biking, and pedestrians generally center on two issues: the implications for low-income people and environmental impact. Lest we forget the enormous public health implications of these policies, The Economist has some encouraging figures ($):
London’s authorities calculate that if every Londoner switched to walking for trips under 2km, and to cycling for trips of 2-8km, the share who got enough exercise to remain healthy simply by getting around would rise from 25% to 60%. That would amount to 61,500 years of healthy life gained each year.
Obviously, most Londoners are going to have more short trips than most Seattle residents since stuff is simply closer together. And since walking and bicycling are often unsafe in Seattle, collisions with cars while using these modes would probably claw back some of the health gains. But a directed policy of densification and ped/bike safety would have large, positive economic and quality-of-life implications.
In a companion article, the magazine shares a less London-specific finding ($):
Even a little exercise has a huge health effect, whether or not people shed their extra pounds. Research presented on August 30th at a cardiology conference in London suggests that walking fast for 25 minutes a day can buy three to seven years of extra life. A bigger study by a team at Cambridge University tracked 300,000 Europeans over 12 years, and found that a brisk daily 20-minute walk, or the equivalent, cut the annual death rate for people of normal weight by a quarter, and for the obese by 16%. Getting everyone sedentary to do this would save twice as many lives as ending obesity, says Ulf Ekelund, the lead researcher.
Many readers here probably recognize about 20 minutes of brisk walking inherent in their use of transit. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that transit agencies should deliberately increase the amount of walking their customers do — encouraging ridership through practical usability trumps enforced exercise — but sometimes the time penalty of using transit can be a feature, not a bug.
— Sound Transit (@SoundTransit) July 22, 2015
Sound Transit photo of the opening of the pedestrian/bike bridge over Montlake, first featured in the Seattle Bike Blog
Link Light Rail service remains something to look forward to in 2016. However, the new pedestrian/bike bridge from UW Station to the rest of campus is now open.
Also coming in 2016:
- Mid-day Saturday frequency on Metro route 48 may increase to every 10 minutes (but with the northern portion split off as route 45, and still running every 15 minutes on Saturdays);
- Routes 67 and 372 may start running on Saturdays, every 15 minutes mid-day;
- Route 75 may increase Saturday mid-day frequency to every 15 minutes;
This is IF the county council votes to accept the proposed Metro route restructures. Take a moment to submit online testimony and encourage your county council member to say Yes to the bus restructures that will substantially increase access to Husky Stadium, and to Link Light Rail.
And now, back to our regular programming…
The University of Washington home football season starts this Saturday. There will be cash shuttles from 320th St Park & Ride in Federal Way, Eastgate P&R, Houghton P&R, Kingsgate P&R, NE 100th St near Northgate Transit Center, Shoreline P&R, South Kirkland P&R, and South Renton P&R. The shuttles are free if you hold a UW Athletics season pass, but $5 cash otherwise.
Regular bus routes serving Husky Stadium or Stevens Way on Saturdays include King County Metro routes 31, 32, 43, 44, 48, 65, 68, 75, and 271. You can also get to the SR 520 / Montlake flyer stop on Metro route 255 and ST Express 545.
Check out the map below for post-game pick-up staging areas:
Thank you for your patience. Next year will be a game-changer for getting to and from Husky Stadium quickly, assuming the county council gives the green light.
- Kiwanis Club volunteers no longer providing shuttles to Puyallup Fair; alternatives remain.
- A mathematically rigorous example of how adding a road can increase congestion and travel times.
- Metro exploring “alternative services” for Vashon Island, looking for residents to participate.
- Yesler Terrace construction moving along ($), will increase the number of units by almost nine times.
- Microsoft considering renovations to make their campus more “urban.”
- KING5 mourns the loss of Forward Thrust.
- SLU development “just getting started.”
- Stephen Fesler is right: Vancouver is awesome.
- Uber, Lyft likely to get permission to pick up passengers at Seatac.
- All that construction also creating lots of working-class jobs ($).
- New Mercer Island transportation citizen group forming, “Vision Mercer Island,” intentions unclear.
- Portland’s Orange Line opens Sept. 12th.
- WSDOT’s toll program administration has been… scattered ($).
- Washington’s text-and-drive law is toothless ($).
This is an open thread.
The Tulalip Tribes, in cooperation with WSDOT, the FHWA, Snohomish County and the City of Marysville, is currently rebuilding the 116th Street NE interchange on I-5, one of the two primary access points for the reservation’s outlet mall and casino complex. The current interchange, built in 1971 and handling traffic far beyond its capacity, also includes a pair of Community Transit bus stops adjacent to a small park-and-ride lot. Though the 57-space lot and interchange only see 4 trips per day from Stanwood to Seattle (Route 422) and Paine Field (Route 247), The Everett Herald reported in June that its spots are regularly full by 8 a.m.
The completed interchange will be the third single-point urban interchange (abbreviated as SPUI), in the Puget Sound region, with the other two at I-705/SR509 in Tacoma and at I-5/41st Street in Everett. SPUIs require a single signalized intersection with three light cycles, but due to the lack of thru lanes they do not facilitate quick reentry to the interstate and are thus incompatible with transit flyer stops.
In an email, a representative from Community Transit explained that the park and ride would instead be used by carpool and vanpool users after the stops are permanently closed. An email to the project team at the Tulalip Tribes was not returned.
At a Tuesday morning press conference from the last timber-supported bridge in Seattle – a 500′ long structure that carries Fairview Ave E into South Lake Union – Mayor Murray formally kicked off the Move Seattle campaign effort. Flanked by a diverse coalition of interests including Transportation Choices Coalition, Puget Sound Sage, the Downtown Seattle Association, and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber, Mayor Murray repeatedly hit themes of access, equity, Vision Zero, and investment to sell the $930m levy that would supplant the expiring Bridging the Gap Levy.
Later that evening at Spitfire Grill for the campaign kickoff, Mayor Murray, SDOT Director Scott Kubly, DSA President Jon Scholes, and TCC’s Shefali Ranganathan energized a surprisingly raucous crowd while appealing for donations of time and funds. Proving that Seattle’s penchant for lovable nerdiness knows no bounds, Peddler Brewing Company’s Haley Woods took the mic and said that reading the project list filled her with literal tears of joy, prompting Mayor Murray to quip (paraphrased), “If only I’d known when I was back in the legislature that transportation project lists could bring people to tears. That makes me want to hang out with you.”
Opposition to the levy is scattered but also relatively well funded, with names such as Eugene Wasserman and Faye Garneau leading the Keep Seattle Affordable opposition campaign, for which Garneau alone has contributed $50,000 (90% of total contributions). Prior to last night’s kickoff, the Move Seattle campaign had raised $32,750, with the Downtown Seattle Association, Urban Visions, and Urban Renaissance Group kicking in 75% of that. It’s clear that the general public has not engaged much with the proposal yet, on either side. As with any campaign, they are seeking donations and volunteers for phonebanking and doorbelling.
So what’s in the levy and what does it mean for you? The levy is substantially the same as when we last reported on the proposal, with some tinkering around the margins. The project list is visionary and expansive, strongly investing across all modes and in all council districts. City leaders have spoken of a ‘growth dividend’ made possible by higher home values and a growing population, permitting a funding level that is nearly triple Bridging the Gap while still keeping the median additional tax burden to $12 per month. The $930m levy will be leveraged by $285m in current appropriations and an estimated $564m in external funding such as grants, leading to a $1.8B project list.
Project highlights after the jump. [Read more…]
If you live in Seattle, I strongly encourage you to show up and listen or comment at tonight’s city council hearing on the Housing Affordability and Livability Committee’s recommendations, which have come under attack from single-family protectionists. Tonight’s public hearing will help the council decide which of the 65 recommendations to set in motion. It will take turnout, support, and continued pressure from urbanists like you and me to ensure they make the right decision and keep the most critical elements of HALA intact.
Iterations of the term “urbanist” have been hotly debated recently (I prefer “reality-based urbanist” myself), but the bottom line is that we all want to ensure that everyone in Seattle–not just wealthy single-family homeowners, not just Amazonian imports, not just those who got here first, but everyone–can live in safe, affordable housing in the city.
This fight is critical, because the council is under tremendous pressure to abandon the very recommendations that will have the most positive impact on affordability. Mayor Ed Murray and several key council members have already abandoned a major, symbolically important HALA recommendation, which would have allowed a greater diversity of housing types (such as duplexes and townhomes) in the 65 percent of Seattle’s land mass that’s currently reserved exclusively for detached single-family homes. Murray, along with council president Tim Burgess and council land-use committee chair Mike O’Brien, walked back their support for that recommendation after angry property owners and neighborhood activists flooded city inboxes with letters of protest and crowded council meetings to voice their complaints about the changes.
I believe that most of the city supports the principles behind the HALA proposals, even if they aren’t familiar with the details, for one simple reason: they provide more affordable housing. Mandatory inclusionary zoning, which would require developers to build affordable housing on site in exchange for the right to build more densely, combined with a new linkage fee on commercial development, would provide 6,000 units of set-aside affordable housing. Other key measures in HALA would expand the boundaries of urban villages to reflect current and future walkability and transit access, increasing supply and limiting the growth of housing costs (which is true no matter how much some progressives insist that supply and demand does not exist).
The opposition to HALA, which has described population growth as a cancer and have suggested single-family homeowners and neighborhood activists should “take back Seattle,” is organized, motivated, and can turn out plenty of people with the means and time to attend midday hearings when most of us are working. Nighttime meetings like this are an ideal opportunity for HALA supporters to show that we, too, deserve a voice at City Hall and in the future of our city.
King County is considering adding more water taxi routes. Last week, the County Council’s TrEE Committee (Transportation, Economy and Environment) reviewed an interim report looking into expansion of the service.
The interim report screened 36 potential routes serving 17 terminal locations on Lake Washington and the King County shore of Puget Sound. Just three of these met criteria for travel time and operational cost recovery. The routes were:
* Kenmore (Log Boom Park) to University of Washington (Waterfront Activity Center)
* Kirkland (Marina Park) to University of Washington (Waterfront Activity Center)
* Ballard (Shilshole Marina) to Downtown Seattle (Pier 50).
The screening criteria are forgiving. Water taxis were considered time-competitive where the round trip differential compared to available transit was less than forty minutes. Seven routes meeting that threshold were evaluated for ridership and operating costs. Those projected to achieve less than 10% farebox recovery at startup, or 25% recovery at maturity (ten years after startup) were then eliminated, leaving three routes for further consideration.
Will riders favor water taxis over other transit modes with better travel times? The round-trip time penalties for water taxi are 21 minutes for Kirkland-UW, 26 minutes for Kenmore-UW, and 29 minutes for Ballard-Downtown Seattle. The report argues that riders might prefer “the enhanced experience of riding a water taxi, a guaranteed seat, on-board restrooms, and great scenic views”. A water taxi might also have less variable travel times. In contrast, the current West Seattle-Downtown service has travel times similar to surface transit. Vashon is only accessible by ferry, and the water taxi (22 minutes) is nearly three times faster than Metro Route 118 via the Washington State Ferries (63 minutes).
King Street Station’s much needed $55m restoration did much to heal the decades of architectural and functional neglect that had turned the 1906 landmark into a 60s-era eyesore. The expansive waiting room is now beautiful and grandiose in an austere sort of way, the white and beige palette imposing a coldness nicely balanced by the warmth of yellow light.
But aesthetics alone don’t make a good train station. Its primary function is as a transportation facility, to efficiently facilitate human travel while comfortably providing basic human needs such as restrooms, food, drink, and safety. On these counts, there remains much work to be done.
Here are my Top 6 ways to improve King Street.
Mark Professor loves the London bus system, and his Oyster Card.
(Thanks for finding this, Andrew!)
It is almost time for the State Fair. The Fair runs Friday, September 11 through Sunday, September 25.
Sounder service will once again be limited to the second and third Saturdays of the Fair (September 19 and 26), and will feature two round-trips from Everett each of those days, with longer trains due to high demand. On those two days, the Fair and Sound Transit are reprising the package deal of Everett, Mukilteo, Edmonds, and Seattle round-trip / gate admission tickets for $17 / $12 for youth ages 6-18, and Tukwila, Kent, Auburn, and Sumner / admission tickets for $15.50 / $11.25 for youth 6-18.
North Sounder trains will leave Everett Station at 8:40 am and 9:40 am. Passengers will transfer to South Sounder at King Street Station, where trains will depart 9:50 am, 10:50 am, and 11:50 am. All stations from Everett to Puyallup will be served. The stations west of Puyallup (Tacoma Dome, South Tacoma, and Lakewood) will not be.
Return trains will depart Puyallup Station 5:50 pm, 6:50 pm, and 7:50 pm, with the first two trains having North Sounder trains awaiting transferring passengers.
Pierce Transit will be running shuttles between Puyallup Station and the fairgrounds, as well as express shuttles between South Hill Mall, Tacoma Mall, Lakewood Towne Center, and the fairgrounds.
Regular bus routes serving Puyallup Station include ST Express 578, and Pierce Transit routes 400, 402, 409, 425, and 495. Regular Pierce Transit bus routes serving the fairgrounds include 400, 402, 425, and 495.
Many years ago, when I had more free time than money, a friend and I mused about a scheme to charge people commuting across the 520 bridge $20 to sit in their car from Redmond to Montlake in the afternoon. This way they’d get access to the HOV 3+ lane, and we’d make some cash on the side. This turned out to be wildly impractical, and we never made it work.
I was reminded of this old scheme recently while reading about a new service from Uber. For a while now, Uber has had a feature called “UberPool,” where they let you carpool with someone else to save money. Recently, the company began testing “smart routes” which let you save even more money if you get on and get off on a major arterial street. Many people snarked that this was essentially describing… a bus.
Snark aside for the moment, UberPool seems to work best when there are lots of people headed roughly in the same direction at the same time, like a traditional carpool. One reason I suspect carpooling is on the decline in America is that it reduces flexibility. If you have a job that’s a guaranteed 9-5, carpooling can work, but if you need the flexibility to stay late or come in early once in a while, carpooling starts to break down. UberPool could offer the best of both worlds: an on-demand carpool that leaves when you need it to.
Taking it one step farther, the writer Ben Thompson has argued that the driver of the UberPool might one day be another commuter headed to work, and not a “professional” Uber driver. This person is going to work anyway, so they probably don’t need to be paid that much to pick up a couple of other close-by riders. That could make the service far cheaper than any current Uber offering – perhaps even cheaper than a bus pass.
I actually wonder if they would need to be paid at all. If it gave them access to the HOV lane, they might offer to pay the rider instead. This would also create a much larger and more vocal constituency for free-flowing HOV lanes.
Who knows, maybe someday my dream of getting paid to sit in a car while crossing 520 will come true.
by LISA HERBOLD
Seattle Transit Blog editor Martin H. Duke misrepresented my position when he wrote on Saturday:
Council Candidate Lisa Herbold argues that flexibility in single-family zones will threaten displacement from affordable single-family homes.
Click through to the article in the link above, and you will see that my position relates not to opposing “flexibility,” but to rezoning existing single-family zones without including a companion housing preservation strategy. When we talk about “flexibility” within single-family zones, we are not referring to rezones; rather we are referring to expansion of the current DADU program and allowing backyard cottages in existing single-family zones, which I support. “Flexibility in single-family” zones presupposes the retention, not the elimination, of the single-family zone.
So now that we’ve got the definitions straight, on to the rest of the article, which says:
But current law doesn’t prevent a landlord from renovating or rebuilding a singlefamily home to be more valuable and displacing the tenant. When this redevelopment occurs, the only difference between the law allowing a triplex and demanding a single home is that it forces two additional households out of Seattle.
It’s true that current law doesn’t prevent rebuilding or renovating a single-family structure that displaces the tenant when a new single family structure is built. But it is not a good comparison because it ignores how upzones create incentives for redevelopment. Hopefully it is understood that the frequency of tenants being displaced after a renovation or rebuilding of a single-family home in single-family zones is less than the frequency of displacement from redevelopment that occurs when the value of property is increased after an upzone. It is that frequency of displacement that makes this a pressing issue when contemplating the upzone of approximately 138,000 single family homes, about 36,000 of them home to renter households.
Finally, the mischaracterization of my position and argument against it ends with this sentence:
- SDOT seeking comment on more restrictions for ship canal bridge openings.
- Scott Bonjukian writes at length on Kitsap’s Transit high-speed foot ferries.
- WSDOT tackling mudslide issues on the North Sounder route.
- Hurrah! Seattle Police step up enforcement of bus lanes.
- UW may crown U-District station with a 240-foot tower.
- Only 0.1% of eligible Seattle residents have received a $20 rebate on their vehicle license fee for transit, but the City is looking at reducing paperwork.
- The drive for TOD at Tacoma Mall(!)
- Othello TOD project now in trouble due to fraud allegations.
- Seattle-area drivers apparently among the most accident-prone.
- Rapid Metro service growth leading to sporadic route cancellations.
- King County Council mulling Lake Washington ferries.
- Struggling Sodo arena plan adds a pedestrian/bike bridge over the train tracks.
- O’Brien proposes unionization for Uber drivers ($); political, legal obstacles to follow.
- Bertha is back underground ($).
- Nobody seems to know when the First Hill Streetcar will open.
This is an open thread.
The miscellaneous route restructures for King County Metro proposed for March 2016, transmitted from the King County Executive Dow Constantine to the County Council last week, included some good news for South King County Commuters:
Metro is proposing service additions to peak period service on two routes in the I-5 South Corridor: routes 179 and 190. Metro was awarded State Regional Mobility Grant funding for these routes to relieve congestion on Interstate 5 between Federal Way and downtown Seattle, which accommodates over 150,000 vehicles every day, with very high volumes during peak periods. During peak periods, it can take commuters more than an hour to drive the 22 miles between these places due to congestion. Adding two AM and two PM peak trips to both routes 179 and 190 will enable Metro to serve more riders during these periods, relieve crowding on existing service, and reduce single occupancy vehicle traffic. Both Metro and Sound Transit partnered together in pursuing this grant funding. The Regional Mobility Grant will also fund additional service for Sound Transit Route 577.
Sound Transit will be adding two AM peak direction trips and one PM peak direction trip on ST Express 577 in the upcoming September service change.
The King County Council will soon consider the restructure proposal that Metro submitted last week to take effect in March. They’ve set up an online form for public testimony on these changes. Our sources tell us that the initial comments from this tool, not widely publicized, are running heavily against any changes.
Most STB readers likely understand some basic principles of bus service planning. The University Link restructure enables higher frequency and easy trips to more locations by placing less emphasis on one-seat rides. It also leverages the enormous time advantage of transferring to U-Link from many parts of Northeast Seattle. During peak hours, most riders will still retain their direct buses if they so choose.
The rough STB staff consensus is that the Northeast Seattle changes are a huge step forward for transit connectivity and frequency. The Capitol Hill changes, while significantly watered down from a fantastic first draft, make some important improvements over the status quo for the 8, 11, 48, and 49.
Service changes of this magnitude are a huge organizational effort for Metro, and if the Council strangles this proposal it will only make Metro even more reluctant to rationalize the network County-wide. Moving this plan forward is critical to the system’s ability to improve in speed, efficiency, and usability.
So take a few moments to fill out the short form and tell the Council what you think about what Metro has done. It’s not clear what the deadline is, and there will be no new information, so do it now.
Monday, September 7 is Labor Day.
King County Metro, Link Light Rail, Sound Transit Express, the South Lake Union Streetcar, the West Seattle Water Taxi, Pierce Transit, Community Transit local buses, Intercity Transit, and Everett Transit will be running on their Sunday schedules.
the Tacoma Link streetcar, the Vashon Water Taxi, Kitsap Transit, Community Transit commuter buses, Skagit Transit, Island Transit, Whatcom Transit, Mason Transit, Jefferson Transit, Clallam Transit, Grays Harbor Transit, and Twin Transit will not be in service.
The Seattle Center Monorail will run 8:30 am – midnight Saturday, August 5 through Labor Day, in support of the huge crowds expected for Bumbershoot.
For Washington State Ferries, check the info on your specific route.
Amid the general hand-wringing about growth in Seattle lately – be it from Danny Westneat, Crosscut, or innumerable KUOW radio hours – there has been no shortage of discussion about the relative lack of transit service in South Lake Union. A combination of fewer transit options, abundant parking, and an affluent workforce have yielded a drive-alone rate in SLU (46%) that is more than double that of the traditional downtown core (22%). Though no one would argue that transit has kept up with growth, our agencies are working hard to catch up, with many potential projects to address the problem:
- By September, Prop 1 will have boosted service to every route in SLU.
- By March 2016, RapidRide C will have extended to Fairview/Aloha in SLU, and will likely share new transit lanes with Route 40 and the SLU Streetcar.
- SDOT has asked Sound Transit to shift an ST3 Ballard line eastward to two new stops in SLU.
- If/whenever Bertha finishes the tunnel, Route 8 may shift to Harrison and be (mostly) free of Denny, and bikes will have a new route on Thomas.
- The Downtown-to-Roosevelt HCT project will likely positively impact SLU arterials for transit.
- If the U-Link restructure is approved, new peak service to SLU will be added from Lake City, Wedgwood, Ravenna, Green Lake, and Northgate.
Aside from an ST3-funded subway – a line at least 15 years away if all goes well – the good projects above still generally tinker around the margins while continuing to treat SLU as a peripheral neighborhood. But SLU deserves transit service befitting what it has become, which is the northern half of Downtown. That means a lot of peak bus service, at least until 2023.
But if you look at the current peak network operated by Metro, Sound Transit, and Community Transit, you could be forgiven for thinking that the respective agencies still view SLU primarily as layover space for buses. Aside from Route 309, the closest any I-5 buses get to SLU is the view they get from I-5 while slogging towards Stewart Street. From the south, it’s much the same, with all routes petering out in Belltown or Denny Triangle and either deadheading back to base or laying over. From the eastside, the 554’s routing is particularly disappointing, with the last stop on 4th/Lenora in Belltown, from which it then deadheads into SLU to layover. Despite all the growth, the peak network still acts as though Downtown ends at Stewart. And of course, Mercer Street has no transit at all.
A perfect storm is brewing, with massive growth in north Downtown and SLU, Convention Place likely closing a couple years early, ever fewer buses in the tunnel, too few Link vehicles to mitigate lost tunnel capacity, and progressively degraded surface transit pathways. We need more transit, and we need more surface right-of-way (ROW), especially in booming Denny Triangle and SLU. Fortunately, these two neighborhoods have two wide arterials that are not choked with traffic, have a direct connection to the I-5 express lanes, and could have a relatively uncongested pathway into Downtown: Fairview and Virginia.
- Shift most non-SR 520 peak service away from Stewart/Olive/Howell to Fairview/Virginia, drawn from the following routes:
- Metro Routes 74, 76, 77, 111, 114, 157, 158, 159, 177, 178, 190, 192, 301, 304, 312, 316, 355
- Community Transit routes 402, 405, 410, 413, 415, 416, 417, 421, 422, and 425
- Sound Transit Routes 510, 511, 512, 513, 554, 577, 578, 590, 592, 594, and 595
- Add two-way bus lanes on Fairview between Mercer and Denny
- Add two-way bus lanes on Virginia, including a contraflow bus lane between 2nd-8th
- Add a bus-only turn lane from northbound Fairview to the Mercer on-ramp
- Add a bus-only turn lane from the Mercer off-ramp to southbound Fairview
- Make the Mercer off-ramp from the express lanes HOV/Transit only
- Remove the bus-only lane on Howell Street
Here’s how it could work.