Link at sunset
Link at Sunset, Photo by Flickr User litlnemo.
  • Some Beacon Hill residents are not happy about powerlines that have been installed in their neighborhood for the station their, noting they would rather have had them buried. As a Beacon Hill resident I’ll say I never noticed the powerlines, and I prefer the “don’t ask, just do” approach that was taken to an endless barage of community mailers, meetings and notices.
  • Speaking of endless meetings, the Seattle “process” even made the New York Times in their write-up of Link’s opening.
  • In order for Sounder to be extended southward from Downtown Tacoma to Lakewood, new tracks need to be built. The choosen path has an incline from D to M street, and the grade needs to be slowly elevated in that area. Many in Tacoma are not happy with the proposal for an “earthen berm” construction that they say would be akin to a wall in the neighborhood and be a potential barrier to future re-development in that area. Others just want Sound Transit to get on with it already.
  • Here’s WSDOT’s report on SR 167 HOT lanes. Apparently some 30,000 single occupancy drivers paid a fee to drive in the HOV lanes in the project’s first year, with an average of 1,710 drivers per weekday in April. The first number seems huge, while the second seems incredibly low to me. Still, the program had a postive effect on general purpose lane speeds with no apparent negative effect on HOV or transit speeds. (H/T to Erik G.)
  • Some County Councilmembers want to charge Seattle more for the ride free zone Downtown, and Downtown Business leaders are not happy.

More links below the fold.

37 Replies to “News Round-Up”

  1. I guess if the Tukwlla parking lot continues to overflow … they could always build a multi-story garage that attaches to the mezzanine level of the station

    1. Good lord, no. We want TOD there. They can build an underground garage if they must.

      1. TOD in the current Tukwila P&R lot? I guess it would work if it replaced all the parking. I have heard of major plans for TOD on the west side of Int’l Blvd across from the station (I believe that’s part of the City of SeaTac). I wonder if there are any plans to build parking into the SeaTac/Aiport Station; I know that major TOD is planned for that area (SeaTac keeps talking about that being its new city center). S 200th St will have a large P&R, I think in a multi-level structure, but I haven’t heard of any plans for TOD there. Anyone know anything about the P&Rs/TOD planned at other suburban stations?

      2. Sorry, Transit Oriented Development. That lot is perfect for a good mixed use development. We shouldn’t fill it with a garage.

    2. Have you forgotten about the A Line BRT? It will feed many people into the TIB station as well as SeaTac station. Let’s hope Metro makes it happen.

      Other P & R sites should come as Link expands. I suspect the political pressure will be too great to avoid some P & R lots. But, it’s my hope that ALL of them will be pay lots. Free parking for cars is ridiculous. The infrastructure is too expensive to be free. Price it so it’s still less expensive to park and ride. It’s time to start converting all lots to pay lots, even those only fed by buses. It is a revenue stream that ST and Metro are going to have to tap to stay viable. A couple bucks a day is all I’m suggesting. Phase it in.

      When are American’s going to start paying the full price for being an auto oriented society?

    3. Maybe we could take advantage of the huge private airport parking lots across 518 on the weekends. Weekends should be a slow time for them and they already have shuttle buses.

      Parking at the Tukwila station will have more problems, as airport users will take advantage of it once Link goes to the airport. Probably some are already.

    1. I did like it because yes, William Yardley (NYT’s point man for the Northwest) had a humerous take on our introspection. Is Seattle the most democractic city on earth because everyone has their chance not only to speak once but to exercise the option of thinking again and speaking twice, or is Seattle the silliest? Mr. Jim Ellis said it right when he suggested that every so often this great city of ours that we all love just gets it right! Of course, not before everyone has had their say and final word – Seattle Process or Seattle priceless?

      What I didn’t like was the largely empty interior picture of Link they had to publish


  2. I think the report on the HOT lanes is missing a zero in the reported number of users in the first year. They say the number of daily users has gone from 1050 to 1710, which equals a lot more than 30,000 per year.

    1. 30,000 is the total users. So 30,000 physical, countable humans have used the HOT lanes, and 1710 are using it per day. Obviously, only about 5% of people who have ever used it are using it each day.

      1. Oh yeah, duh. I missed this part, “More than 30,000 individual Good to Go! customers paid to drive the HOT lane.”

    2. No, accourding to the news release, there are 30,000 customers that have the transponder. Each day, 1710 trips are paid for in the HOT lanes.

    1. Here’s something interesting, the average speed of the Canada Line is slower than Link, even though the Canada Line is completely grade separated. Canada Line covers the 9.3 miles to the Vancouver airport in 25 minutes, whereas Link covers the 15.6 miles to our airport in 36 minutes.

      1. That’s interesting. And it’s got about the same number of stations from downtown to the airport.

      2. The link stations are quite far apart – the Canada Line Skytrain’s top speed is 80km/it runs this speed betwen station on the longer stretches. The dwell time in stations due to expected passenger volumes also slows it down.

        Canada Line averages 2 minutes, 36 seconds per mile
        Seattle Link averages 2 minutes, 18 seconds per mile
        Skytrain’s Expo line runs 17.9 miles (Waterfront to King George) in 39 minutes, an average speed of 2 minutes, 10 seconds

        So yes, Canada Line is slow by comparison

  3. I love how the Beacon Hill folks are trotting out equity issues despite having the single most expensive station and segment in the entire system – not to mention incredibly fast travel times into Downtown.

    1. The Beacon Hill station is one of the best aspects of LINK … you’d think everyone there would be thrilled at the prospect of fast service downtown

    2. “The Beacon Hill folks.”

      This is a limited subset of Beacon Hill people, mostly older (one couple had lived in their house for 50 years or so). This in no way reflects the attitude of the rest of Beacon Hill about the light rail or even the wires in question.

      I have been to see the wires. My photos are at and . Now, tell me. What do you think about them?

      I will tell you what I think. They have added some vertical lines to the view of a very small group of houses. But they are no big deal, and none of us are promised that our view is a permanent amenity.

      (Now, having said that, it would be a good thing if more power lines were put underground in general. But I don’t have a lot of sympathy for this complaint, having actually been there and seen in person what it looks like.)

      1. I could be a little hypersensitive about this, after the article last year in Hugeasscity that basically called us all a bunch of ungrateful idiots who don’t deserve a transit station because we don’t support TOD. (Which was both patronizing and untrue. In general I think folks on the Hill support upzoning and TOD around the station, but there are a few very loud voices who do not. But they don’t speak for everyone.)

      2. It seems like a similar thing has happened with feeder bus routes in the Valley. Now that Link is open I hear a lot of people complaining about not having any feeder bus service to the stations, but it seems like Metro is afraid to really implement that because of a few loud people screaming about changes to their bus routes.

      3. Thanks to all on this thread for NOT repeating that tired claim, that Sound Transit is responsible for the wires in question. We are a City Light customer; nothing more. We have a deal with City Light: They don’t tell us where to build our rails and stations, and we don’t tell City Light where or how to install their wires. ‘Nuf said.

      1. Well, the only reason it’s litlnemo and not Little Nemo is because many, many years ago, I made a user account at the University of Washington, and at the time, they had an eight-character limit for user names. So I just kept using it.

  4. Andrew, bravo for saying this:
    “don’t ask, just do”

    I have wanting someone to say this for months now – I am sure the poles are annoying but have they been placed there purely for that purpose! I doubt it….

    Moving on….

  5. Couple of other regional transit news items I picked up today in my news scanning:

    Officials in Vancouver, BC announced this afternoon (Tuesday August 4) that the Canada Line automated subway (and otherwise elevated) train line between the downtown multi-modal Waterfront Station and the YVR international airport and Richmond is opening several months early, on Monday August 17. This is not a Skytrain extension, but somewhat similar to Skytrain. It will cause the elimination of a number of bus lines, including the 98-B-Line BRT in a parallel corridor. I recall that the construction of this line was NOT part of the Winter Olympics bid package, and NOT favored by many local officials, but rather was forced by the Provincial Government.

    Thurston County’s Intercity Transit received an award today from American Public Transportation Association (APTA)as being the best transit system in America in its size class. I’ve occasionally used Intercity’s nice express bus service between Tacoma’s Freighthouse Square and the State Capitol area in Olympia, which is a joint service with Pierce Transit, as I recall.

    Google for further details.

    1. Yeah, I saw one test train running over the new bridge crossing by the airport on Saturday and another train sitting in the end station by Richmond Centre. (In case folks aren’t aware, the line splits at the end, with one running to two or three airport stations or to two Richmond city stations.)

      I wish I could have captured photos. :-(

      It’s 1.5 miles exactly from Richmond Centre station to my parent’s front door, though!

  6. “I have no idea how politicians expect a program that destroys (im)perfectly good cars is somehow going to save the environment and make the nation wealthier.”

    It’s a stimulus, which is something the nation needs right now. And it does replace low-mileage cars with high-mileage cars. The electric utilities do the same thing when they subsidize new refrigerators and florescent light bulbs; it translates to one less power plant to build. I’d prefer a more equitable stimulus rather than one which just benefits car lovers and auto factories, but anything that creates jobs and props up spending is better than nothing.

    1. There’s a difference with light bulbs and cars though. The major expense for lighting your house is the electricity, not the light bulb. You can make back the difference in a cost from incandescent bulb to a fluorescent bulb in a matter of months. A huge amount of cars expensive is the, well, car. You scrap a $5000 car at 18 mph for a $15000 car @26 mph and you need to drive tens of thousands of extras miles to make up the difference. That means more traffic,etc. Plus it’s energy intensive to make cars.

  7. This analysis came to pretty much the same result I did, `Cash for clunkers’ effect on pollution? A blip. For $3B we’re reducing the amount of gasoline used by about 1/10th of one percent. And that’s assuming people won’t increase the number of miles driven which is probably wrong because driving a car with better gas mileage is like getting cheaper gas. It was a bailout for the auto industry and not even a particularly good one since neither GM or Chrysler are in a position to ramp up production and even if they were the giveaway was so sweet that manufactures didn’t have time to react.

    I wonder how many clunkers were really trucks folks kept around for the occasional dump run or extra car driveway queen. The car that’s really getting replaced, the daily driver is the five year old model that’s still worth market value. Toyota was already pre-selling virtually every Prius before it even rolled of the line in Japan. With the Cash for the Clunkers disappearing fast I bet a few would be Prius buyers opted for lower mileage cars to close the deal now. Why not? With the money handed out by the government you can afford the gas on that new SUV.

    It’s not all bad. I can’t find the statistics for the US but it’s something similar to China where 10% of the cars account for half of the polution because they tend to be worn out and poorly maintained (if it ain’t broke don’t fix ‘nothin). China’s phase out plan was far better in that it leverages much of the money in the form of low interest loans. For $3B we might have taken a big bite out of the worst poluters but what we got was replacement of less than half of one percent of the total vehicle fleet.

    Oh well, they can always print more money and try again.

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