Photo by Oran
Photo by Oran

40 Replies to “News Roundup: The Action’s in Bellevue”

  1. I don’t like how drawn out the East Link and Bellevue alignment will be (after reading the timeline at the end of the NW Hub article). I understand that each stage of the process takes time: design, environment impact, construction.

    I just have this feeling that there is more opportunity to derail the project if given enough time by those who would like to see more freeways, pavement, and buses over LRT’s.

    1. The schedule for East Link is no more drawn out than that for U-Link/North Link. 2016 for opening to UW Station, 2020 for Northgate, and 2023 for Lynnwood.

      Most of the reason for everything taking so long is the need to wait for the money to dribble in. If ST had its portion of the funding on hand when the EIS was complete then these projects would proceed much faster. Similarly the process of getting FTA grants slows things down a bit.

      Though to be fair U-link and North Link would have taken a while to build no matter what simply because digging tunnels takes time.

      1. As Chris said,

        The only reason construction takes so long is because of the method in with Sound Transit is using to gather funding. As this money trickles in, they can begin the next step.

        It’s like the lottery when you take the full amount of cash, you never get one “lump sum” and is given out to you in chunks.

        If Sound Transit had all of the money available right now, the line would only cost the amount of that line. Since they are doing the loan/bond method, this is where the inflated numbers come in at.

        This is how Portland manages to get their routes done so quickly and which is why in the time that Central Link has been under construction, Portland opened 2 new light rail lines (Green Line and Portland Mall) completed major track work and 2 streetcar extensions. As it is, Portland will complete the Orange line to Milwaukie and the entire Portland Streetcar loop before U-Link will open.

        Of course, Portland and the State of Oregon are much more rail friendly than Washington State and the Seattle region.

      2. Though, the Orange/Yellow Extension Line are much more simple and the ROW is fairly flat. They have to build a bridge, but its a 2-lane, cable stay bridge which is a piece of cake to build, even with trains (LRV’s are pretty light in the spectrum of things). Imagine the extensions they’ll have under way when the Orange/Yellow Line is complete!

        Compare that to two deep, curvy, steep tunnels and 2 massive underground cathedrals. And trying to make the UW happy with tons of goodies.

        BUT, Portland is still cooler than us.

      3. Anyone know what the skybridge cost and what that would be in today’s dollars? I’m curious because a similar scale structure would be needed to get rail to West Seattle.

      4. Ben,
        That late? With U Link I’m hoping Portland can be passed sooner. By 2020 I hope Link passes SF Muni. With all of their expansion plans including 2 lines under construction LA will probably stay ahead of Seattle.

      5. Can someone explain this to me? I’m always a bit cloudy on transit funding. What on earth does TriMet do differently? How do they get a “lump sum”? I took a glance at their revenue sources for FY09 and ST’s and the basic structure is similar, assuming that their payroll taxes are equivalent to our Sales/MVET taxes. Farebox recovery is a larger share for TriMet’s funding, but nothing significantly different to explain why they can get funding so quickly.

        Someone educate, please.

      6. First, as Chris says, it’s the state. They get big lumps right away. We have to wait until we save up money via the sales tax trickle.

        Also, Oran says they can do “more than us” – I want to clarify that. They can build more miles. They’ll serve fewer people.

      7. You can’t overlook the fact the most of MAX has been built in pre-existing ROW. That has had a huge effect on the speed with which their system has been built, because it eliminates the difficult process of ROW acquisition and significantly reduces the cost. The most difficult to construct MAX line, Westside MAX, still took 8 years to complete after funding was approved, even though most of the alignment west of the tunnel is in an old interurban ROW.

      8. With East Link there’s also the requirement to finish the I-90 HOV project before they get to work on the express lanes.

  2. I knew it was coming someday.Having a U-Pass was just too quick and easy. No more simply holding my pass up as I squeeze past the person searching for change at the fare box. No more simply stepping into a Link train, having a seat, and holding my pass up as the fare inspector walks by. Oh, well… progress.

    I suppose I should start paying attention to where the ORCA readers are.

    1. When they get the ORCA readers installed at the back doors supposedly the customers with change will be boarding at the front only.

      As to just holding up your pass for fare inspectors – U-passes are one of the most commonly counterfeited passes out there, usually just by someone laminating a color print of one.

      What you are experiencing is a re-focus on this idea that people should actually pay their fares, or present a valid pass to ride. Not sure when (or if) you’ll really see this on Seattle buses again. Anybody’s guess. Right now the number of fake passes,cribbed paper transfers, and “disabled passes” that HAVE to have been fraudulently issued makes the entire fare system aboard busses pretty much a huge joke.

      1. This is why I have no problem with aggressively moving to ORCA for everything. I also support getting rid of paper transfers and adding a surcharge for those who pay in cash on-board.

        I’d also like to see Metro do fare inspections and fine those who haven’t paid their fare. I doubt this would improve farebox recovery all that much but hopefully it would discourage some of the fare evaders.

      2. Pretty much the only thing that is holding me back on ORCA swallowing everything is paper transfers. Without a decent fare option for tourists (I can’t believe we don’t even have good day, multi-day, or week-long passes), I don’t think paper transfers should go away. For every other fare media, let ORCA be used, but not the poor unsuspecting visitors who find out that they have to buy an ORCA card just to get that transfer credit.

      3. Other places with expensive smart cards have figured out ways to get them into the hands of tourists. Why don’t we look at what they’ve done? Besides even without an ORCA transit is going to be cheaper than renting a car or taking a cab.

      4. I’m fully in favor of fare enforcement, but believe that elimination of paper transfers, surcharges on cash etc. is both unrealistic and vehemently anti-poor.

      5. poor people still have time to get a free orca card. We still have a long way to go to make Orca as good as Oyster, but I am confident after 20 years we can be there… :)

      6. Justin,

        Sorry – completely unrealistic and out of touch with the realities of thousands who ride the bus, many of whom are homeless, don’t speak English, and/or literally live from day to day.

      7. Even if paper transfers aren’t eliminated and some form of surcharge for cash isn’t implemented I think a better job needs to be done of getting ORCA cards into the hands of those who would be most effected by any such change. Switching the reduced fare permits over to ORCA is a start. I’ve also heard talk that the ticket books given to social service agencies may be switched to ORCA too (though there is the problem of no longer being able to give a client just one or two tickets).

        I’d also like to see more ticket vending machines that sell tickets good for the various transit services in the area. At the very least every transit center should have some.

      8. There are many potential solutions. If we just dismiss it as impossible we won’t have any progress.

        We can do it. We can learn. We need the right attitude and the right people. There are numerous good examples from all over the world to draw from. Metro and Sound Transit’s incompetence in getting ORCA done right should not be an excuse.

        Cheap paper RFID cards exist so why not use those for tourists and for low-income riders?

      9. Time has nothing to do with it. At some point ALL of us will lose our cards, or they’ll wear out, etc.

        Why do we think it’s good business sense to ask someone to pay for a card BEFORE they get any actual business value for using it?

      10. Jeff if London can do it so can we. Believe me if it costs more to pay with cash then use a card they will figure it out ASAP. I don’t believe in having a slow old paper system just because some people may not be able to figure it out, that argument is ridiculous unless you think people are here less intelligent then every other major city…

      11. London doesn’t charge those 16 or younger at all, nor many others, and has a transportation system which like their health care system is subsidized by a level of taxation that folks in this country aren’t prepared to tolerate.

        I definitely imagine that investing billions of dollars in a complete conversion to a no-cash system – that would include a massive expansion of the number of machines to dispense the things, customer service reps to distribute the things and process applications, enforcement officers to enforce and deter fare evasions etc. – I’m sure you’re right. After all – all it takes is money.

        However – if the goal of going to a no-cash system is to save money and increase other efficiencies – I think the solution is worse than the problem – or at least it would cost a hell of a lot more.

      12. investing billions of dollars in a complete conversion to a no-cash system

        Where’d you get that number from, Jeff? Multi-billion dollars for a smart card fare system is absurd. ORCA cost $43 million to implement region-wide. Adding readers to rear doors on every Metro bus is budgeted at $5.5 million. Adding more features, fare incentives (to encourage ridership) and significantly expanding the card distribution/reload network and fare enforcement is likely to cost several more million dollars. I’d put the maximum at $100 million, which still seems high for me.

      13. Multi-billion dollars for a smart card fare system is absurd.

        Unless of course you recognize that the cost of any system wouldn’t be “one-time”, but ongoing.

      14. Unless of course you recognize that the cost of any system wouldn’t be “one-time”, but ongoing.

        Of course I recognize that but you’re making up numbers without knowing what you’re talking about.

        Metro’s annual operating budget is over half a billion dollars. How much are you thinking they are going to spend in ORCA operations and fare collection in one year? Definitely not a hundred million dollars per year which is the amount Metro collects in fares.

        It’s hard to tell the total cost of operating ORCA since it’s part of the regular fare collection system. You don’t hire more people to operate ORCA readers. You’d probably hire or more likely train existing shop technicians to repair the electronics which doesn’t cost significantly more. And for administration of the program itself, Metro’s 2010 budget is going to spend $300,000 a year on 3 FTEs.

      15. The cost of any fare collection system is ongoing. How much do the current fare boxes cost to install and maintain? How much does it cost to process the cash and coins from the fare boxes? It seems like installing and maintaining a smart card system would be much less than a cash system in the long run. A standard fare box must cost significantly more than a card reader and I bet the ongoing maintenance and administration costs of smart card based system are much less than a cash based system.

  3. I don’t think a bus and ferry commute are really comparable. Ferries have food, toilets, tables, and tons of room to stretch, walk around, and work. Buses simply don’t. Personally, I get motion sick on buses when I try to read, work, or watch something on my laptop. The train, ferry, no problem. Nice, smooth, and the ride is very consistent. Not to mention I still can’t take a post-morning-coffee crap on the bus :-)

  4. The Ballard High School Homecoming is this Friday and since I’m working Velo’s 14 tomorrow night, my Grandfather is taking my daughter to the game.

    He was telling me this evening that when he was in high school – somewhere in the vicinity of 1943 – the schools would charter STREETCARS to get folks to and from the Big Game.

    1. Very Interesting. Too bad schools can’t do that with LINK.

      Off Topic, but still on streetcars. found this interesting re-post of something the Overhead Wire posted last year. It was a campaign video that some say saved Melbourne’s streetcars from being ripped up. Although the accent and driving position are different, the motorist sounded like the same info that was often sold up here to get rid of streetcars. That the streets were for cars, get rid of the trams.

      1. Thats great, thanks for that info! I’m definitely going to contact them to see if I need to reserve a spot.

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