This has nothing to do with anything, but will appreciated by anyone who’s sat through public comment periods at any agency meeting.

67 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread”

    1. See also the reader comments after articles in the Seattle Times. We have a huge population of people in this country that are almost totally disconnected from society for a variety of reasons, and use these fora to vent their frustrations, hatreds, fears and phobias. In addition to pharmacological issues, fear of others, especially those different from themselves, and lack of education in critical thinking motivate much of this behavior, but insensitive bureaucracies in both the private and public sectors certainly play a role as well.

      1. There is a difference in responding anonymously to a post on the ‘net versus actually standing up and uttering this shite…

  1. 1) What ever happened to the plan for a meet up on my side of the lake? (remember: I know nothing about Bellevue restaurants since I can be perfectly happy with a Jack-in-the-Box (for example) and you’ll never catch me in a bar)
    2) Got stuck in the Beacon Hill elevator (some idiot put chewing gum in the door track (I watched the guy do it) – is it that hard to use a trash can?)
    3) I’m ready for Airport Link!!

    1. Well I hope it remains an Eastside venue – can you be flexible on a bar/restaurant combo as opposed to just a bar idea as it would be nice for us all to meet you. Beyond this comment, I don’t have any sway over where Martin, Ben and the STB Board members decide for the next meeting.

  2. So I’ve heard a lot of people talking about transfers here on the blog. There’s many who don’t believe that Seattleites will go from the bus to light rail to streetcar to commuter rail to ferry and so on.

    I disagree. When I was in Tokyo, not once did I transfer less than 3 times to get to all my destinations. I used their 2 rail systems and the bus lines everyday. Same in London. I don’t remember a day not boarding at least 2 buses and transfering between 2 and 3 tube lines. Don’t get me started on NYC. One time I had to make 5 transfers (bus/subway), to get where I needed to go.

    So over time I believe Seattleites will adapt and use more than one mode of transportation to get to and from where they need to go. In fact, I already know people doing this. One friend takes Tacoma streetcar to Sounder to Link to SLU streetcar to get from her condo on Pacific Ave in Tacoma to her job in SLU in Seattle. It normally takes her less time, costs her less and saves her mounds of stress!

    1. minimal transfers are always better … but when I want to visit a friend who works in Burien, I take the bus to Westlake, LINK to Tukwilla, the bus to the Airport, and then the but to the Burien TC (and back again) … never caused me any stress … though I am not sure why LINK doesn’t run a LINK connector bus to the Burien TC as well as the airport (at least until the schedule change)

      1. The 140 will be rerouted to connect with Tukwila Link station in the February service change. At that point it won’t connect with the airport anymore, but the 560 and 180 will still provide a fast Burien-airport connection for those who don’t want to transfer onto Link.

        And if you’re visiting your friend in Burien on a weekday, the 121 or 122 would get you there in less than half the time as Link. Outside of commute hours, the 120 will get you there in less time as well, but maybe not enough less to make it worth taking it instead of Link.

      2. It seems like a good thing for quick connections like the 560 and 180 to exist from Link stations. It’s nice if people can ride to a Link station that’s near their destination and expect to be able to get to somewhere significant just outside walking distance really easily. Some sort of signage about that would be cool – like a sign that says on top “How to get to…” an then lists Burien, Southcenter, etc. (I.e., apart from the regular timetable-type signs.)

      1. boston used to have and today in a few places still has, some great transfers where buses ran into the station and provided almost a cross platform transfer. unfortunely the mbta seems to be slowing removing these easy transfers and moving them further away from the station. the mattapan ashmont line used to run right into the ashmont red line station and stopped about 20 feet from the heavy rail train doors. a year or two ago the ashmont station was reconfigured and rebuilt with the mattapan ashmont line now looping around outside the station. there also used to be the sullivan square station, a massive indoor station with large ceiling where buses and trolleys and streetcars met the orange line trains, it was torn down 30+ years ago, the same for andrew station, fenway station etc. harvard station remains with its bus tunnel but that is now one of the few. its a real shame since these were super easy transfers and its also a shame other transit agencies havent adopted this model.

        i recall the marta station ‘arts center’ used to years ago have buses enter the station and into a fare paid zone for easy pre-paid transfers. last time i was in atlanta about a year ago the station bus platforms had been removed from the fare paid zone.

      2. Toronto does this best. Almost all subway stations have ride free terminals where you can walk on and off while still being within the fare paid zone. Transfers between buses and subway lines are a snap!

      3. Toronto is great? That would definitely be the first time I’ve ever heard anyone say something good about the TTC. Toronto’s transit is by far the worst system I’ve ever had the displeasure of using – certainly embarrassing for a city of its size. Vancouver and Montréal, both smaller Canadian cities, beat the pants off the TTC hands down.

      4. so why dont more cities have this kind of toronto/boston transfer system? and why dont we see this with newer transit systems?

        i had always thought the orange line in LA should have had one of these fare paid zones at north hollywood station where the buses would enter the metro station.

      5. It might be because of space. Some stations like Finch in Toronto use up valuable city space for these transit depots.

        It’s nice that Spadina and St. Clair run street cars underground though. Maybe we could build underground depots (Sounds expensive)?

        As for the poster claiming TTC sucks compared to other major transit cities. I don’t understand why? The subway runs every 2 minutes (Yes, every 2 flippin minutes, I was blown away by this) and the entire city is guaranteed 24 hour 20 min walk to 30 min bus service throughout the entire city (A city much larger in acreage than Seattle btw). During the day the guarantee is 20 minute service city-wide!

        I wish we did this in Seattle. Trying to get a bus at 2 am sucks :(

      6. i was under the impression toronto had the best transit system in NA from both quality of service and extensiveness and coverage of service perspectives. then again i’ve never ridden the TTC. doesnt it also have the best farebox recovery of any transit system in NA too?

        people always like to bitch about their transit system and yes a lot do suck. but some perspective is needed, systems with no weekend service, that shut down at 7pm, have a total 5 lines, and run at best with hourly headways do indeed suck. many times it is the poor management of the system that is the problem as is the case with many of the major transit systems like muni in SF. but you cant accuse muni of poor coverage, something like 95% of residences in SF are within 1/4 mile of a transit route and muni has few infrequent minor routes.

      7. Interesting. I took a couple trips to Toronto a couple years ago and didn’t have any trouble making it from an airport area hotel to a subway station where I caught a train to downtown. I also didn’t have any trouble getting back to my hotel. I seem to recall that they didn’t have a trip planner, but everything seemed fairly easy to use from the perspective of someone such as myself who had never used it before.

    2. I think transfers will work well in Seattle, but I think there’s lots of confusion over the multi-agencies and multiple overlapping fare structures. Once ORCA is up and running and has had the kinks worked out, I think things will improve. However, clearly there needs to be more outreach as many people are still confused.

      1. I experimented with ORCA transfers last Monday. Started with a trip to Seattle on the 101 at 1230PM to Sodo Station, Link to Columbia City station where I had lunch (90 minutes) and returned to University Street Station (with a 30 minute stop at Mt Baker station) on Link wandered around downtown for an hour and then boarded the 101 at Westlake Station to return home (5PM).

        Total charge from my epurse when I checked online the next day was $2.50. Cash fare would have cost me $4.25 or $6.25 depending on whether my paper transfer would have been valid after lunch. as long as Link accepts other agency transfers – more after January 1 when they won’t.

        It appears that ORCA is allowing you to update the expiration time on transfers as long as you do not go more than 2 hours between travels.

        Clearly ORCA education is needed – it is a deal for most users and will become more so when inter agency transfers end.

        I encountered no ORCA reader problems that day and have seen a large decrease in those lately anyway.

        TVMs though are another story – Way too many “freezes” along Link – seems odd since they appear to be the same machines that Sounder has been using for quite some time now.

        Seems also that ORCA card sales should be front and center on all TVMs since they are still free. My experience is that you need to know about ORCA before getting to the TVM to touch the right buttons to get to those options.

      2. “TVMs though are another story – Way too many “freezes” along Link – seems odd since they appear to be the same machines that Sounder has been using for quite some time now.”

        The same old machine with new software is a new machine.

      3. Total charge from my epurse when I checked online the next day was $2.50… Clearly ORCA education is needed – it is a deal for most users…

        There’s no way in hell that trip should have cost you only $2.50, so I imagine one reason there isn’t much education yet is because ORCA clearly doesn’t work yet. The transfer policies of the agencies involved hasn’t changed with the introduction of ORCA, just the manner of issuing transfers. Just as you couldn’t hand in a paper transfer as it was about to expire and get a brand new one, ORCA shouldn’t have been “updating” your transfer.

        This sort of thing is one of the many reasons I’m not a fan of ORCA. I have friends who have gotten many free rides out of the ORCA readers not working, whereas I have had to pay more on several trips than I would have if I were using cash and a paper transfer. Randomness is not something any user wants in a transit fare system, and I really hope Metro et alii get all this stuff fixed before ORCA becomes the only way to transfer.

      4. If the $2.50 fare for my trips was not accurate – it was not due to malfunctioning readers. Every leg of my trip accurately showed up on the Orca transaction history. And the fare-sets on the readers were properly set (off peak, one zone or two zone).

        I cannot speak for how the ORCA transfer system works – other than if you “time out” the transfer your card is charged the full fare on the next trip. But what ever the policy is, the system appears to be implementing it and all the partner agencies are aware of it.

        As a former bus operator, I could not in good conscience insist that a customer pay an additional cash fare if the ORCA reader on my bus didn’t work. Just as when the fare box malfunctioned – people are not asked to pay fares (and metro policy does not allow drivers to handle cash).

      5. Wait, won’t Link honor other agencies’ transfers after Jan. 1, just only in the form of ORCA?

  3. so yesterday I got to experience LINK (headed southbound) when the Sounders game was over.


    I think they stuffed more people on the train than on opening day. What I do not understand is that they only were running two car trains.

    I do think that they ran a few extra trains yesterday afternoon since a number of them terminated on the way back at Mt. Baker station … but I do not understand why they didn’t just add a third car to the trains right before and after the game. I think it would have made more sense.

    Additionally, why did they kick us off at Mt. Baker and not at Beacon Hill? I know that Oran was on a different train that also did this … and since the train has to pass through Beacon Hill anyway … you’d think they’d force everyone off there.

    Finally, it was really nice to hear all the people on the train after the game saying how wonderful it was to have LINK and how great the ride was/is.

    1. They can only run two cars until the tunnel boring for U-Link is done – the turnaround track is truncated to make room for the tunnel operations.

      1. Me too. Not to mention I thought there would be special ‘game day’ trains that terminated and reversed at stadium station. Maybe that’s only for Mariners/Seahawks?

  4. Just a couple of points:

    I guess everyone has heard about the write-in campaign rumors for Mayor of Seattle. Ed Murray has been mentioned and I wouldn’t be surprised if Greg Nickles gets asked to place his foot in the waters of choice for Seattleites. This would be an approach worthy of Senator Joe Lieberman but lets not go down that road perhaps? It may be that Mike McGinn has perhaps overestimated the public’s enthusiasm to see an end to the tunnel-as-replacement-for-viaduct idea?

    Secondly, a question I guess for Brian, but any early indications yet on how well or otherwise the second train to Vancouver is doing?

    Thirdly, the Seattle Times mentioned today that Washington State has applied for an early request for some High Speed Rail stimulus money for the Eugene-Vancouver corridor. Remember that the American Recovery Act earlier this year included $8bn for High Speed Rail and WSDOT is hoping to secure $1bn of that for improvements in Washington. These of course would include the Point Defiance Bypass and other track improvements through Vancouver, WA and Blaine, WA.

    Lastly, the four clocks at King Street Station now appear to be working – an event seemingly marked by little public/media attention. The lighting I thought had been turned on in the clock tower as I mentioned in a post long ago, was probably just the setting sun hitting the clock faces in such a way as to cause a mirage effect of internal lighting. The last time I saw KSS at night, there was no lighting anywhere on the clocks or exterior. The odor control facility outside the station appears to be nearing completion some four or five months behind schedule. Why do they bother with these time frame notice boards when next to none of them ever fulfill the promises set therein?!

    1. Apparently, if you lose the primary vote, you cannot be a write-in candidate. At least that was what they said on KUOW the other day.

      1. So if I write in, say, Jan Drago, my vote is thrown out? (Not that that’s not a de facto discarded vote anyway.)

      2. What? The primary rules can’t abridge a voter’s right to write in anybody they wish.

  5. I’ve just started a web page to track the growth of Central Link ridership day by day using Sound Transit’s reports, at .

    Be patient on updates; I sense that Sound Transit is becoming reluctant to announce daily or weekly boarding numbers, and it will take some extra time to get them through the Public Disclosure Act process. Also, as reported in the P-I, there are problems with the automated counting that are being worked through.

    1. I would expect the counts to be low for the last two weeks of August. Why? Because the freeway seems to me to be wide open for driving which implies that people are not working. I would expect that many folks take one or both of these weeks off for summer vacation. I know that I have on other years.

  6. From Portland:

    MAX light rail service began today on the new Portland Transit Mall. Yellow Line’s downtown route has now relocated to the Mall. September 12 the Green Line begins and joins the Yellow Line on the Mall.

  7. Are there any plans for TVMs at non-Link transit centers? I was at Bellevue TC with only my empty ORCA card. I had added money online and two days later it still hadn’t credited…quite frustrating.

    1. That’s a great question. You should email Sound Transit and tell us what they say! The more email they get from people who aren’t just us bloggers requesting things like that, the more likely they are to do it. :)

    2. You can find TVMs at Sounder stations and there’s also one by the back door / security desk at Sound Transit’s Union Station headquarters.

      The distribution network for ORCA really needs to be ramped up to help ease the transition away from cash. In Chicago you can buy a farecard at most grocery or drugstores, some of which have TVMs.

      1. He’s not a spokesman, it’s just stock imagery. I guess Sound Transit and MBTA buy their images in the same place. (But ST is clearly the better photoshopper)

  8. So I’m kinda new to the area (moved out just over a year ago), and nothing is more frustrating here than trying to move east-west without a car. I just don’t see the need for a town of this size to have two parallel thruways so close to one another (I-5 and 99). Which leads to my newbie question: is there any movement to tame Aurora between Mercer and Woodland Park (at least for starters)? At the very least the segment needs more ped-bike bridges, but it would be great to see the road fully reintegrated into the street grid. Also, the lanes seem awfully wide, leading me to think it could be rechanneled to accommodate a streetcar, or (physically separated) bike lanes, or widened sidewalks with designated pedestrian and bicycle routing. I’m guessing there’s a lot of interest at the local level, but movement is hindered by the fact that it’s a state road, and the state seems totally car-obsessed? Anyhow, any feedback is much appreciated. Thanks.

    1. I don’t know of any movement about this, but it is something I have long being in support of. It’s not just the Viaduct that is a blight to Seattle, it is the whole of 99: from the neighborhood destroying swath through Uptown to the endless seediness in North Seattle. Aurora is a highway that is long past its shelf-date. Integrating it as much as possible into a real street grid is vital to resurrect the neighborhoods it runs through.

      1. “blight”? Your blight is just unfettered capitalism. I too used to look at Aurora North and South of Seattle as truly poor land use planning. And then I started noticing the huge number of retail, light industry, housing that is along this highway and the low cost of the land, and easy access and then I realized that it’s the first step up the economic ladder for many many people.

    2. Kind of.

      South of Mercer, the city wants to reconnect the street grid all the way down to Denny by putting 99 below street level.

      Up at 45th, there’s a study planned in the next few years to plan for light rail / subway between Ballard and the U-District. But then we’d have to fund it.

    3. From 85th to 105th the city is planning some sidewalk and bus stop improvements that should make Aurora much more friendly in that area. Ben already mentioned the planned changes between Mercer and Denny.

      This should help some, but I agree, removing the median, fully re-connecting it with the street grid, and putting it on a serious road diet would be even better.

    4. Part of the plan with the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement is to reconnect the grid near South Lake Union, which I think will make a big difference in the area. Unfortunately no such plans further north, which is a shame because any east-west traffic from Ballard/Crown Hill to Wallingford/Green Lake/U District is heavily constrained by the narrow and overtaxed undercrossings.

      1. The Metro Bus “Aurora Express” transit service on SR 99 north from downtown Seattle to the Snohomish-King County line and the associated transit center at the county line are well used: 9,900 average boardings per week day not including Ride Free zone only riders in Seattle CBD. This corridor is going to be a RapidRide arterial BRT service in the future.

        There are electronic variable message signs on I-5 to divert drivers to SR 99 if the flow on I-5 goes toes up because of a semi going crossways to several lanes.

    5. Moving east-west here is difficult no matter what your mode thanks to the north to south movement of the Puget Lobe of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet during the Ice Age. This image, while not in Seattle (it’s Binbridge Island) is typical of Puget Sound topography: long, gently sloped rolling hills and valleys going north-south, and short, steep terrain going east-west.

  9. This WSDOT article about SR-520 traffic has me confused. It says ” Over 500 buses carrying 11,000 bus riders cross the SR 520 bridge every weekday”. That’s only 22 people per bus. How can the average possibly be that low? It goes on to say that “The morning and evening commute periods account for 70% of total daily bus ridership”. I just can’t get this to work out. The peak hour buses are pretty full both directions. I would hope that if that period is 70% of the demand then something approaching 70% of the trips would be during that period but even if you say only 1/2 of the buses are during peak hours 70% of 11,000 is 7,700 which spread over 250 buses would only be 31 people per bus. Did they greatly overstate the number of buses or under report the number of riders?

      1. I was wondering about the deadheading issue. You’d tend to assume they wouldn’t include that in the stats and there really is (I think) a fairly significant bidirectional demand. Even if you run in deadheads I’m finding it hard to justify the numbers. It’s not the whole story; that’s for sure.

  10. So the late-night Link issue has been gone over a lot. But this is an open thread. I had an idea that’s in between doing nothing and adding super late service. Link’s hours are listed as 5 a.m. to 1 a.m., and what that means is that the first train anywhere leaves around 5, and the last train all day pulls off the track around 1. My one disappointment with Link was when I found this out – I thought 15-minute frequency from 5-6 a.m. might mean 4 trains, but the first train from Columbia City northbound isn’t till after 5:30. What if they could just extend the service enough so that if you showed up to a station within the system’s hours, you’d be guaranteed a ride? BART does it that way. Obviously more funding would be necessary.

  11. Pioneer Sq: South bound LINK

    Does not have an Orca reader down on the platform. Anyone know if ST is planning on fixing this?

    1. It’s at the top of the stairs. If you are transferring, you need to do that at Westlake.

      1. But for a short hop ride, that’s dumb. I have a pass, I can ride anything and I want the next thing that is coming. I don’t care if it’s a free bus or the train…. Running back up the stairs to swipe my card just to catch the train is not going to work in the long or short run.

  12. Isn’t it a little odd to support a tunnel on SR-99 to speed cars through Downtown while proposing to slow them down more in North Seattle?

  13. Let me happily report new language that’s in the tentative agreement reached between Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Education Association, which represents teachers, instructional assistants, and more:

    “District will provide transit issued discount passes at the discounted cost.”


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