156 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: A Tale of Six Cities”

  1. I was in SF last week for a conference and it was my first time on BART. I was surprised how loud it is–it was difficult to hold a conversation with my friend sitting across the isle. The station announcements were also useless because you couldn’t hear.

      1. On Foster Isle – y’all know about the 520 hearing Tuesday night?

        What’s the thinking on option ‘K’ as it applies to transit access and preserving the rail conversion option. I know ‘K’ is expensive and has value, but is it worth it?

      2. Matt, I could, but that would be a lie ;-)

        I was in the process of deleting this whole thing for being off-topic when I realized it was an open thread.

      3. Sam,

        “aisle, not isle” is not a sentence. It has no predicate (it may not have a subject for that matter), and it has no period.

        It’s an existential paradigm masquerading as English prose.

    1. Yeah it’s ridiculously loud when you’re going through the Transbay Tube. So are several other systems when they’re in tunnels (like MAX under Washington Park) so I was pleasantly surprised that Link is pretty quiet even under Beacon Hill.

      1. However, has anyone else noticed that the tracks/wheels are making A LOT more noise in the Beacon Hill tunnel than they used to?

    1. I wish that extending LINK from the airport south could be considered shovel ready … would be great to have them working on that part of the route while excavating the route to Capitol Hill and the U District.

      1. It’s pretty damn close to being “shovel ready”. All environmental documents complete and 30% design projects can get dirt moving pretty quick when the money comes through. In fact Sound Transit has already been talking about speeding up S. 200th for a possible 2013 opening.

        Unfortunately getting to Highline CC or Star Lake will take a bit longer. I don’t think any of the environmental review documents have been done. Also I’m not sure what the South King sub-area funds look like. It may be the other two stations have to wait for tax revenue to trickle in. I’d also love for a way to get to Federal Way TC by 2023 to be found.

      2. It seems like if extra money from the feds becomes available in the coming years beyond what is predicted in ST2 (which is pretty damn possible given that they’ve proposed a new Transportation bill that would have $99 billion for transit, as well as $50b for HSR) ST should put in requests for money to extend Link to Federal Way TC, given the large TOD potentials there, and the already existing large demand, to Alderwood, as that is a regional destination, and to Downtown Renton, as that is an important extension. Those together would probably be about $1 billion, or maybe even less.

      3. Alex – do you know what kinds of projects the new transportation bill may designate that $99 billion for? I feel like with the way state and local budgets are going around the U.S., that could potentially get eatn up pretty quick by keeping local bus systems afloat – not that I don’t support that, too!

    2. Not per se ‘shovel’ ready, but Sound Transit should really be looking at the design of Tacoma north right now. WSDOT is completing the design of the HOV system between Tacoma and the Pierce line (not far from the Federal Way Transit Center).

      It would be nice have these systems coordinated, if not actually sharing some right of way near both the FWTC and the Tacoma Dome Transit Centers.

  2. Tunnels ‘amplify’ steel wheel on rail squeal. But, rail advantages are significant and too important to dismiss. The larger question is how best to integrate buses and rail lines with their over-arching effect upon urban/suburban development patterns. This larger question can reduce the need for prohibitively expensive tunnels, and for that matter, the need for more and more freeway lanes.

    1. Seattle can’t avoid tunnels due to the terrain and the density of the downtown areas of the major cities (Seattle, Bellevue, etc …)

      1. Seattle didn’t have to build the Beacon Hill tunnel nor is the U-Link tunnel necessary. Neither does Bellevue need to build a subway. Try thinking outside the box.

      2. True, Beacon Hill tunnel wasn’t necessary if you didn’t want to serve Beacon Hill, and U-Link tunnel isn’t necessary if you don’t want to serve Capitol Hill and Husky Stadium. But given that it would be very good for the environment and for the personal mobility of tens of thousand of people to serve those areas, and tunnels are the only way to do so, these tunnels are most definitely worth it.

      3. The Express lanes of I-5 (north) were originally intended in the 1960’s as a light rail corridor. The rail laid in the DSTT and Convention Place Station in the 1980’s lead to the Express lane. Bus connections to light rail are essential and could serve destinations light rail cannot. Catering to transit armchair activists’ foolish desire for subways cripled Seattle’s light rail and turned it into an exclusive ride for tourists and ivory tower elite. I’m hoping Mayor McGinn will upset Seattle rotten apple cart.

      4. “The Express lanes of I-5 (north) were originally intended in the 1960’s as a light rail corridor.”

        Sorry Wells, but you’re wrong about that. The I-5 express lanes were not built with the intention of converting them to rail. The rail laid in the Seattle bus tunnel was an afterthought suggested by George Benson and not part of an overall plan for rail in Seattle. Just because the rail ended near the express lane entrance doesn’t mean that it was ever intended to continue there.

        “Catering to transit armchair activists’ foolish desire for subways cripled Seattle’s light rail and turned it into an exclusive ride for tourists and ivory tower elite.”

        [deleted, ad-hominem]

      5. I was wondering about the express lanes being intended for rail. I’d never heard that and dont’ know if it would be practical/possible to transition to the DSTT give the elevation difference. I did some searching and did come up with this quote from a Seattle Times article (Get ready, Seattle: You’re about to be a light-rail town):

        Seattle asked the state in vain to put rails into the Interstate 5 express lanes, designed in the late 1950s.

      6. Even if WSDOT could have been convinced to allow the express lanes to be converted to rail a bridge over the Ship Canal would have been required. Furthermore such an alignment wouldn’t have been able to serve Capitol Hiil, the UW, or the U-District effectively.

        Sure the tunnel for U link and North Link is expensive, but few corridors offer similar ridership density either.

      7. Quotes from King County Metro’s Transit Milestones page:

        1953 State Highway Department rejects Seattle Transit proposal for rail transit in new Central Seattle Freeway (future Interstate-5).

        1956 Seattle Transit Commission appeals to the State Highway Commission to include transit right-of-ways in the design of Interstate 5. The request is rejected as too expensive due to an estimated $16 million price tag.

        1960 Puget Sound Regional Transportation Study begins to plan new freeway system but rules out rail transit.

        1968 Voters pass seven Forward Thrust bonds, but not transit plan, on February 13. The $1.15 billion transit plan included 49 miles of rail serving Ballard, northeast Seattle, Bellevue and Renton.

        So there you have it. It was considered by Seattle Transit but the state didn’t agree and built the freeway without consideration for future conversion to rail transit. I think that’s one reason the Forward Thrust plan didn’t use I-5.

      8. Actually the Beacon Hill tunnel was necessary if Link was to serve Rainier Valley. Sure Central Link could have followed the East Link alignment over to Rainier, but that really wasn’t in the cards without putting rail all the way across the lake.

        I don’t see how you would serve Capitol Hill or the U District without a tunnel. Then there is the problem of crossing the ship canal which costs about the same no matter if you go under it or build a bridge over it.

        I suppose there is some magik gadgetbahn technology out there that requires purchasing no right of way, and that contractors will pay transit agencies to build and operate?

      9. North link could’ve left Capitol Hill at Lakeview/I5. Don’t have enough info to compare to the route chosen, but it is probably better for connecting to any 520 based rail routes.

        Beacon Hill was definitely a good decision, all of the issues of getting from the ID to I-90 are avoided and service to a close in neighborhood is added. Beacon Hill will likely be the first and biggest TOD success on the south Link. (Columbia City should also do well)

      10. North link could’ve left Capitol Hill at Lakeview/I5. Don’t have enough info to compare to the route chosen, but it is probably better for connecting to any 520 based rail routes.

        You still need to get across the ship canal somehow and to serve campus rather than the freeway crossing at 45th.

  3. One of the more expensive components of tunneling is the TBM … has anyone discussed reusing the SR99 TBMs for other things like underground light rail from West Seattle? or making a 1st ave (or 2nd ave) light rail tunnel from Queen Anne to SOOD?

    The SR99 TBMs will be large enough for a single bore tunnel through downtown above the SR99 route and below street level … might be a good way to save $$ and give us another underground transit route.

    1. I was told before that the TBM was the property of the contractor, so unless the same contractor was used again (or sold it to a different one), it likely would not be re-used. Is this still the case?

      1. Its also 54 feet in Diameter. The biggest in the world last I heard? The tunnels for ST would not need to be nearly that large.

    2. The Hwy 99 TBM is too big to use for a single bore bi-directional LR tunnel — it would hold at least 4 LR tracks and probably closer to 6 since you don’t need shoulders with LR. It’s just way too big.

      However, the idea of digging a single bore, bi-directional LR tunnel is a good one. It would probably save time and would have a less footprint than digging two single-direction LR tunnels side by side. You’d probably need to add a curtain wall down the middle, but that shouldn’t be a big deal.

      1. Hmm, you could put station platforms pretty much anywhere. Need more capacity? Add tracks.

        Of course in forty years, we could take over the SR-99 tunnel (or half of it). Lower deck a truck bypass of downtown, upper deck rail?

      2. As big as it is, would it meet freight clearances? As for the grade, I don’t remember seeing elevations, but would the grade be above 1%? It could be electrified, but that would just require more height for the catenary and pantograph.

      3. Bike lane! If people are motivated to ride through the Snoqualmie Tunnel, the probably would do it here, too… I wouldn’t, though.

    3. One problem with the viaduct replacement TBM is that it will be huge compared to what would be needed for even a single-bore light rail tunnel. Once U-Link is complete, there will be 3 TBMs that could be refurbished and used for additional projects. It seems to me that twin-bore tunnels should be used to allow for additional operational flexibility. and to avoid moving around as much dirt. A lot of the cost will have to do with hauling away the excavated dirt, not the tunneling itself.

    4. The TBM equipment I presume was used for the Beacon Hill tunnel got moved from behind Mt. Baker station to property on M.L. King near Norfolk (previously a mobile home park) last week. It appeared to be a tight fit under the ROW next to the Mt Baker station on a very large truck. It took at least two trips over a couple of days. Curious what it will be used for!

  4. One thing about Atlanta is their attachment to one type of rail transit vehicle-type. There is no thought to adding light rail or commuter rail to the mix.

    So any extension will require a large capital outlay per mile and can only be routed through certain corridors. And of course not into Cobb County (where it is truly needed) as they don’t want “those people” coming into their jurisdiction. Of course Cobb County doesn’t like Gays or Darwinists either; they were the district of Newt Gingrich.

    Big Don! Now that Algona is poisoned, move to Marrietta!

    1. Actually, Atlanta is planning on putting in light rail. It’s called the “Beltline” and it will encircle most of Atlanta.

      And remember, the reason Atlanta has MARTA is because Seattle rejected Forward Thrust and the Federal money that was going to go to Seattle built MARTA instead.

    1. Chris,

      No capacity. Atlanta is the heart of the South for both CSX and NS. Unless the government wants to build track they aren’t going to get passenger trains on those lines.

      1. I find it hard to believe space for a couple of commuter runs a day even on a busy freight line can’t be found. Sure there will be an upper limit to the number of runs the host railroad will allow without track upgrades, but not every commuter line needs to be Metro-North.

        Besides I have a hard time believing every rail line in and out of Atlanta is congested with freight. It is a major rail hub and has track coming in and out from all directions surely some of those tracks aren’t heavily used.

    2. They’ve been trying to build a commuter rail line to Athens for a number of years but GA DOT has been fighting it tooth and nail.

  5. If I had made the video, I would have shown the Seattle Monorail appear first, and then exist as a tiny little dot of a line while everything else developed. Or, better yet, show interurbans appear and disappear in all the cities. Am I correct in thinking that Seattle was one of the earlier cities in the U.S. to have some form of electrified rail – not the first, but somewhat early to the game? I thought I heard that somewhere… Anyone know where Seattle’s electricity came from in 1900?

  6. Is anyone else getting rocked by 4th ave construction in their afternoon bus commutes into downtown? It’s gotten pretty bad, with stuck-in-car-traffic delays of 15+ minutes. I really wish SDOT would do something, like a bus only right lane, which should probably already be there anyways on nortbound 4th ave south of Jackson.

    1. The 4th Ave paving project is between Jackson and Olive Way. Right now they’re working around city hall. Are you saying traffic is backed up all the way down to Royal Brougham for more than 15 minutes? Not that it’s surprising to me. It’s bad enough without construction as this aerial photo taken over a year ago shows.

      Please send a comment to SDOT and let them know you want them to do something.

      1. Yeah it’s pretty much gridlock in every lane from the stop north of royal brougham all the way to Jackson the days I’ve been on the 124 around 5-6pm. Makes me miss the days the old 174 went through the tunnel. You’re right, Ben, getting off at royal brougham and walking to intl district station is way faster, and on foot I usually pass multiple other buses stuck along that stretch. I guess I could transfer to stadium or sodo instead but I figure I might get a bus to conv pl quicker at intl district as it catches the buses coming from I-90. If Link comes first though, the extra walk from westlake is usually worth it. :) I emailed SDOT, I’ll let you know if I hear anything.

  7. This says it all. Seattle’s been debating and analyzing while the other cities have, by and large, been doing. Atlanta is probably the most notable exception to the above. They got MARTA in the 1970s, credited in large part to Seattle voting down heavy rail, yet they’ve sat on that same amount of track for the past 30+ years, 48 miles is my recollection. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Bay Area, which would have been another interesting comparison (along with Vancouver, BC), has expanded since they started BART in the same decade, also credited by some to Seattle voters turning down their opportunity, though their plans started in the 1960s, and are at 104 miles of track and still expanding. By comparison, Seattle’s ST2 will expand the slower (due to “at grade” portions) light rail to just 55 miles, and that in over a decade! If I had told anyone in 1980 that car-loving Los Angeles would have miles of subway and BRT by 2005 while Seattle was doing largely nothing, they would’ve called me crazy given Seattle’s semi-environmental reputation (Portland’s is greater, IMHO). Yet, here we are, and LA is literally miles ahead while Seattle is just warming up their engine in the transportation arena.

    1. It is impressive how much LA is doing

      It is dreadful and depressing how little SF has done in the past 20 years, given that SF has an pro-transit and pro-environment bent

      SF hasn’t built Geary LRT or subway – and the plan is for BRT (just like lighttrail but cheape)

      SF hasn’t built the central subway

      Caltrain should be electrified and have 20 minute service, instead they just reduced it to hourly off-peak

      BART now is extorting airport travelers with an $8 one-way fare or $6 to Millbrae to transfer to Caltrain

      There has been very little done since BART was built and the Market St. LRT subway.

      1. LA is doing a lot because they have no choice – the conundrum of freeways filling up as built is very, very clear in L.A.

        LA also presents a problem because they are setting a construction business model that is not only bankrupting the State it is also quite attractive the international engineering firms of the Haliburton class to recreate elsewhere, perhaps Seattle being at the top of the list of monopoly addicts.

    2. The Bay Area looks impressive until you realize that the population tripled since BART was first built. The rate of car ownership grew faster than the population, indicating transit was lacking. There used to be service across the Bay Bridge 24 hours but that was cut. Then finally around 2000 they started building BART extensions again. The penninsula has always gotten the worst of it with slow SamTrans buses and hourly Caltrain (every two hours on Sunday). But now at least BART goes halfway down the penninsula to SFO and Millbrae.

    3. BART is why the subarea equity policy, contrary to common transit-fan belief, is a good policy for the city. BART board’s structure is heavily weighted to the suburbs, and so while BART could spend $50-100 million in several places (30th and Mission, San Antonio in Oakland, etc.) to get 10,000 more riders a day, it’s instead spending billions to extend the lines to places it’ll get 5,000 riders a day (Livermore, South Fremont, etc.) and require bigger operating subsidies. It’s a disasterous setup.

      For comparison, consider how outrageous it would be for ST to consider ST3’s prime priority being building an extension from Redmond to North Bend rather than connecting to Ballard or West Seattle.

      1. I’m not against subarea equity. ST seems to be doing it right. It eliminates complaints about one area’s taxes being diverted to another area. What I’m against is the 40/40/20 rule, which screws Seattle both when revenue goes up and when it goes down. It’s based on the specious idea that if East and South King County had the subsidies Seattle previously had, their transit infrastructure and ridership would equal Seattle’s. Clearly that hasn’t happened, both because suburbanites are more attached to their cars, and because the cities are laid out in a transit-unfriendly manner. I do think both East and South King County need more transit to enable more crosstown trips. But Seattle needs more than 20% of funding. Given Seattle’s enthusiastic use of transit where it’s available, I’d give Seattle 50% (which happens to be closer to its population ratio anyway).

      2. When you are considering transit funding splits do also consider capital spending on light rail. Theoretically, light rail should be the end of a capital development plan originally proven by bus tech.

        This is another reason why light rail to the Eastside is not justified at this time and a BRT solution much better. A tunnel through downtown Bellevue could be built now and connections to points east on I-90 would also be much benefited.

      3. Eastside residents voted to spend their own taxes on Link. Who are we to tell them they can’t have it?

        A Seattle-Eastside rail route has been on the drawing boards since the 1960s, so it’s clearly time. The 550 is essentially BRT (except evenings/Sundays).

        I do believe that “If you build it, they will come”. (Unless you put it in a really bad location.) A lot of potential trips on Bel-Red or between Redmond and Bellevue aren’t being made by transit because there is no rapid transit.

        Plus, there’s an argument that the only way to get rail on the Eastside is to build a starter line on the Eastside. Then after people get used to it, they’ll want more. And it would be odd for Seattle to say, “Light rail is wonderful, we’re very happy about it, it should go everywhere … but we don’t support building it on the Eastside at this time.” It also diminishes the impression that “Seattle gets all the transit dollars”.

  8. Denver is the one that both impresses me and gives me hope. They had a mayor who walked the talk (may still have, I don’t follow local politics there except through friends) and I think that went a long way toward inspiring folks there to vote for transit funding. And look how far they’ll get and how fast! I know the terrain isn’t the same, but still. We just elected a mayor who has been walking the talk…here’s hoping.

    1. i agree, although their suburban-style park and rides at most all the stations except in the downtown core are a little discouraging. For all the awesome stuff Denver has done to stimulate their downtown development, the city mostly comes across to me as one that bows to the sprawl gods. But I’m probably being overly critical…i respect their pro-transit populace and progress.

      1. Denver’s ambition is impressive, yes, but hold your judgment until 2017. Due to their miserable funding situation, not all of Fastracks will be built on time as promised unless they are able to obtain additional taxing authority…some lines may be delayed a decade or more. The Airport Line, the Gold Line, and the West Corridor will be done by 2017 for sure, but the North Metro, Northwest, U.S. 36 BRT, I-225, the Southwest Extension and Southeast Extension are all in jeopardy.

      2. Also, as a defensive response to the GREAT CITY video that led off this open thread, let’s remember that besides perhaps better planning and a more amiable political climate…all the cities in the video besides Seattle are mostly topographically flat. Portland’s main extensions will be south and west over mostly friendly terrain, and Dallas, Atlanta, L.A., and Denver feature easily-built land. Our physical challenge is like nothing they have to deal with. That’s no excuse for our stunted political culture, but it does disabuse us of the notion that this ‘tale of 6 cities’ is comparing apples with apples.

      3. Zach,

        Ummm, I think you forgot the Max West Hills tunnel, which is longer than the Twin Peaks tunnel on Muni and much longer than the South Hills tunnel on the Pittsburgh light rail line.

        And don’t forget that the next expansion to the “north” will cost three quarters of a billion dollars for the transit part of the Columbia River Crossing. If the bridge is built as designed that is, which is looking more and more like one of the smoke bubbles blown by the caterpillar.

      4. I agree that you can’t read too much into this cartoon, but the maps aren’t to scale either. LA is much bigger in area than the scope of the other boxes.

      5. also this simplistic video only considers rail. Not (total transit riders)/(population of commuters) which Seattle does just fine with by the way when you add in buses. And if you are only considering fixed rail you forgot the monorail.

      6. I don’t think you can really count the Seattle Center Monorail (which starts operation at 9am!) as a serious part of the City’s transportation system.

      7. Does anyone know how many monorail passes are sold each month? I know there are some people who commute by monorail in Seattle, I just have no idea who many… under 1,000? Under 100? Under 10? One?

      8. A number of folks exit I-5 at Mercer to park in lots around Seattle Center — where monthly parking passes are considerably cheaper than in the CBD — and commute to work on the Monorail.

        I’ll try to get some numbers if I can get a meeting with them soon to lobby for ORCA readers on the monorail.

      9. There’s a way in which Denver now = ST circa 2001: They’ve promised a lot and won a victory at the polls, but price tags have gone up and neighbors have complained a lot as they’ve done the engineering work, so getting something built on time, on budget and to the satisfaction of the electorate is going to be a challenge.

        That said, it’s be great if they’d succeed. And even if some lines or extensions get cut, getting some frequent (15-minute), electric, standard-gauge commuter rail in service could be an inspiration for the rest of the country.

  9. Curious if anyone knows the answer to these: What is the shortest KCMetro route by time to complete round trip and by distance traveled? The 51 seems like the shortest time wise but I don’t know about distance.

    1. I think that would be the Route 38 between Mount Baker TC and Beacon Hill Station via S McClellan St. It is about 2/3 mile long and takes 6-7 minutes one-way.

      The South Lake Union Streetcar (Route 98) is only 1.3 miles long and takes about 10 minutes to complete a one-way trip.

      The Waterfront Streetcar Bus (Route 99) is about 2 miles long (2.7 if each one-way portion was included) and takes 15 minutes one-way.

      The 51 does a 5.1 mile loop. The 27 covers the same distance.

      Route 886 (Clyde Hill-Bellevue High School) is a 1.86 mile loop extension of Route 240 that exists only as a dash sign on some 240 trips.

      1. The “official” reason is that McClellan St. is incredibly steep. It’s actually one of those things where it was originally a somewhat longer, more useful route, but it got scaled back into something pointless.

      2. Heh. Maybe a funicular elevator or a chair lift would be better, now.

        I was one of the people who sent comments to Metro in favor of keeping that #38, but it got truncated on both ends, so it really isn’t that useful at the moment. I just thought there should be something to make it easier to go up that McClellan hill. But the route should be longer.

      3. I, too, heard that the hill steepness was a reason for the 38, but I guess I don’t get it. It’s too steep to walk up, down, or both? I figure the uphill could be dealt with by walking down to Mt. Baker station and then riding Link into the hill and the elevator to the top.

      4. At least part of it is seriously that steep. (Anyone know how steep?) It is certainly difficult in either direction in bad weather or if you are not in good health.

        Now if they converted it somehow into a route that went, say, up McClellan, then south on Beacon for a bit, then west to West Seattle… that would be functional and useful. Not that we need more service on Beacon Ave., probably, but the east-west service to West Seattle would be great.

      5. I wonder if you made it run every 30 minutes and had it serve the Lighthouse for the Blind, if you could replace service on the 4 Judkins Park? With the 48 on 23rd and the frequency of the 8 improving on Martin Luther King, I think there is some opportunity for budget savings.

    2. As for the longest KC Metro (not including Metro operated ST) routes:

      #1 Route 952 Boeing Everett–Auburn P&R via I-405 is over 55 miles long and can take up to 1h48m to go one-way. Compared to Sound Transit, it’s longer than the 592 Seattle-DuPont. The 564 trails at 40 miles but can take over 2 hours during PM peak to go from Overlake down to South Hill.

      #2 Route 215 North Bend–Seattle is about 34 miles long
      #3 Route 197 U District-Twin Lakes P&R in Federal Way ~32 miles
      #4 Route 311 Seattle-Woodinville-Duvall ~32 miles
      #5 Route 194 Seattle-Airport-Federal Way ~28 miles

      I approximated these distances from Gmaps.

      1. I can attest to the length of the 215. Last winter I drove a single trip with chains – I don’t recall how long it took, going no faster than 30mph, but it felt like *forever*. Not much of that route gets truncated during snow. On the plus side though, I had many passengers happy to see a bus with chains and traction control.

      2. I’ve done a reverse direction peak trip twice on the 197. Took just over 30 minutes from terminal to terminal.

        I’ve ridden 3-5, and a 564 between Auburn and Smellevue. And yesterday I got to connect a 194 to a 402 to the Puyallup Sounder station. Fun stuff there.

      3. It boggles my mind to think that anyone working in Everett could lead a mentally sustainable life commuting from Auburn… Just like it also boggles my mind that there isn’t a similar bus that goes up the I-5 corridor. I’ve emailed the Boeing commute folks and there apparently was one that was cut due to low ridership, which I’m guessing was probably during Boeing’s early 2000’s downturn. They do schedule the 952 to meet up with the 510 at Ash Way, although a friend of mine tried it and he was the only person doing that connection that day.

      4. Archie,

        People commute from fricking Victorville to Orange County, and they’re driving. At least the folks on the 952 can read or work on the computer.

      5. Bellevue to Ft. Lewis.

        It wasn’t bad in the mornings, but then again I left the house at 4:45. Coming home though… LOL now that was an exercise in anger management. :D

      6. The problem is that people get a job at one Boeing plant and buy a house nearby, then their group gets transfered to another Boeing plant 30 miles away. You can’t keep moving and changing your kids’ schools every time your job moves. If Boeing cared more about people’s commute lengths and the environment, it would transfer people less, run shuttles from the nearest transit centers to the plants, and support state/local transit more.

      7. true, Mike, but I put more blame on a culture and infrastructure that tolerates and accomodates those sort of operations, of which Boeing takes full advantage.

  10. Why are the riders on the 71/72/73 so bad about moving back when the bus is standing room only? They all crowd in the front of the bus and have to constantly be told to move back to make room.

    Then again few routes have as many standing-room or crush load trips as the 71/72/73.

      1. Yeah it doesn’t make any sense. Even if the entire bus is packed and they have to pass people up, people refuse to step up the two stairs and stand in the very back. Maybe it’s the unconscious aversion to going up stairs, even if there’s very few of them, like how in casinos they put the gambling floor a couple steps down to discourage people from leaving.

      2. Really interesting psychology there about the stairs. Some European articulated buses like the Citaro don’t have the steps. The back seats are on a platform just like the seats above the middle wheel well.

      3. I think people like feeling like they’re near the doors when the bus is crowded (fear of getting stuck on the bus past your stop). Going up to the back area means a single person can block you off.

        Another reason for 3-door buses.

      1. No, I think you misunderstand, I’m just giving a possible reason why a lot of UW students, especially at the beginning of the year, don’t know how to ride the bus very well.

    1. Because they’re always busy chatting with their friends and are indecisive about where to sit. “Where should we sit? Here? I don’t know, you pick a spot!” “Anywhere’s fine with me!”

    2. Really though I think they see there’s nothing further back and figure there’s no point in going any further and having to step over people. Then once they’ve formed a plug just before the artic joint, othe people getting on getting on can’t go back any further, and the ones that made the plug can’t see how many more people are getting on.

    3. Because it should have been upgraded to a subway years ago, but Seattle sent the money to Atlanta.

      I would like to know why we in the USA cannot have those awesome third set of doors on our transit buses like they do in much of Europe. Would make the move-on-back issue much easier.

      1. The Subway is coming but it is still a number of years off.

        The Bredas have a third set of doors, I have no real idea of why Metro didn’t decide to get at least some of the New Flyer articulated with 3 doors instead of 2.

        For some of the high passenger volume routes perhaps it is worth redoing the seating to create more standing room. Say with side facing fold-up seats all the way back to the rear door.

      2. Some Metro buses do have three sets of doors. I’ve always found them a useless waste of space, because they’re so close to the other doors. Most of Metro’s crush loads, nor the number of stops where a large number of people get on and off, are big enough to where three doors are an advantage. Most routes have only one, two, maybe three stops where a large number of people get on or off all at once.

  11. I always enjoy the noise when riding a subway. It makes you feel like you are really moving…sort of like a 727 during take-off; a 1967 Cobra from 0-60, or a WWII aircraft-engined hydroplane. Love it!

  12. I was reading McGinn’s transportation .pdf on his campaign website and he talks about connnecting Ballard, Fremont and Wallingford with light rail and putting it to Seattle voters in two years. Does a Portland style Link system to Ballard mean running at street level the whole way? Also could it connect to our existing system via transfer downtown without building another tunnel?

    1. “Portland-style” generally means surface all the way, though it remains to be seen whether that’s what McGinn will propose. As for the tunnel, I think the conventional wisdom is that another one would be required, as the current one will be at capacity when east link is completed.

    2. The general expectation is that it will be a smart surface route, similar to Link’s MLK and SODO segments. In-street stops, in-street right of way in densely populated areas, but separated right of way with fewer traffic crossings in non-dense areas (Westlake, 15th Ave W). (As opposed to a dumb surface route like downtown Portland and Gresham, where no effort is made to optimize the speed of the train.) Downtown will probably need a 2nd Avenue tunnel because the surface streets are already at capacity, and the 3rd Avenue tunnel will (probably?) be at capacity when ST2 is finished, but Belltown/Queen Anne/Elliott (depending on the route chosen) might be in-street.

  13. And despite all that, we still have the highest transit commuting mode share out of all the other five cities.

      1. Interesting graph, thanks for posting it. It would be interesting to see a similar graph that covers only commuters who work a typical M-F 8-5 shift: that would probably show higher transit use.

      2. Unfortunately that graph is for central cities only, not the Metro area. So you’re somewhat distorted by totally arbitrary municipal boundaries.

      3. Crazy how the transit ridership rates of some of those cities in the inset rival Seattle’s somewhat paltry bike ridership!

    1. To some major degree that is a result of the topographical constraints of the “hourglass”. It doesn’t matter how much people want to drive to work in downtown Seattle. They can wish and scream and pray that they could do it, but there is simply no way for them to get there except on the bus. So they ride the bus.

  14. Okay, so I have a streetcar idea that I think would be really cool. You would start at UW Station, then go up in dedicated ROW using part of the current huge Husky Stadium parking lot next to Montlake Boulevard. At 45th it would cross over and continue in the middle of 25th past U Village, going all the way up to 65th, where it would turn left, going through Ravenna (my neighborhood, so I guess this is kinda biased) and Roosevelt, then turning right onto Ravenna Boulevard and taking the median of that street to Green Lake. This would connect a major destination, U Village, and the growing business districts of a couple neighborhoods (Ravenna and Green Lake) to Link. It would also spur development along 25th next to U Village, and in Ravenna, Green Lake, and Roosevelt. And with its portions of dedicated ROW, it would go pretty fast too. What do people think about it?

    1. Except for the bit along 65th, it sounds like a very nice idea. But 65th is a pretty narrow street. You’d be stuck with running in mixed traffic through a pretty high-traffic area.

      Unfortunately, the median in Ravenna Boulevard is the creek that empties Green Lake and runs through Ravenna Park running in a very old pipe. I expect one would need to dig it up before one laid the tracks to avoid having to dig it up after laying them…..

      You’re forgiven for wanting a streetcar by your home. Lots of people have that particular weakness.

      1. I had a similar idea a while back of running the SLU line up Eastlake (as planned now), but then continuing it up Roosevelt and 11th/12th, then cutting over to Greenlake on Ravenna Ave as well.

      2. My personal idea is to run the SLU line up Eastlake then along Campus Parkway. From Campus Parkway one branch would run South on University Way and East on Pacific to UW Station. The other Branch would run North on University Way and 15th to 65th, West on 65th to Ravenna and up Ravenna to Greenlake.

        Some obvious problems with this alignment are that many of these streets are major bike routes and would need careful design to avoid conflicts between bikes and streetcars. Furthermore Ravenna is a historic Olmstead Boulevard and even if you don’t use the median as ROW (lots of mature trees) there may be strong objections to running streetcars on Ravenna.

        Some potential alternate alignments would be to use 15th NE instead of University Way and to use 66th, Weedin Pl, and 72nd instead of 65th and Ravenna.

      3. I’ve liked Weedin Place as a transit ROW for a long time, too; it’s wide, flat and sure looks like it used to have a street car. You don’t have to go right to the edge of Green Lake to serve it. Most people who go there by transit go to walk and run. Adding a block from 71st or 72nd and Woodlawn isn’t going to prevent them from going.

        Sixty-sixth might be a problem, though, because it’s residential in the block west of Roosevelt and not wide, to say the least.

        Although in a perfect world there would be some sort of rail service along Pacific, the traffic would make it too unreliable. Sadly.

      4. Greenlake is more of a regional destination than Roosevelt, if even only for recreation. Roosevelt, at the transition edge of the UW Student residential area(a relevant point for TOD in this area with active neighbors), is also an easy bike or walk to campus.

        IIRC the cost of serving Roosevelt over a I5 area stop (perhaps before Greenlake) was 100 million, maybe 1 million per business in this area.

      5. The original Roosevelt stop was going to be at 65th/8th. For all the hooting of the Rooseveltians, that’s only two blocks to their business district, and four blocks to Greenlake. But no, Roosevelt was afraid people wouldn’t walk two blocks to shop, so they had to have an expensive tunnel and move the stop farther from Greenlake.

      6. In fairness, Green Lake’s business community supported Roosevelt’s choice. I think there was a sense that having the station next to the highway would make the stop undesirable (given the noise and pollution), and that TOD options in Roosevelt’s core were stronger. The same extra two blocks isn’t a big deal when it’s a matter of walking to Green Lake, either.

      7. The stop at 8th would have been 4 blocks from the center of the commercial district, and would have had very little TOD potential. The 12th alignment, though, is right in the middle of the neighborhood, surrounded by a few TOD-ready blocks, and just two or three blocks from the Sisley development, which no matter how the council decides to zone it will probably have at least one or two thousand people in it. This station is much better.

      8. To be fair there was some NIMBY type arguments against the 8th ave alignments. Mostly about adding more concrete over Ravenna Boulevard and the several blocks of single family homes that would have been removed along 8th north of the station. Also it added fuel to the “save our valley” fire about the north end getting a tunnel while the south end got at grade.

        Though to be fair Roosevelt did say they’d take more density if the station was moved to 12th. They also asked for a neighborhood plan update with upzones around the station as part of dealing with the Sisley property redevelopment.

      9. One wouldn’t want to miss the Ave. It was a streetcar ROW at one time and is plenty wide enough for one again. The Ravenna median is the same width at its intersection with University Avenue as it is at Roosevelt or 12th. If one is going to mess up the median, might was well use it all the way to the end.

        However using the median isn’t a good idea because of the creek underneath it and all the trees that would have to be removed. But that doesn’t rule out the roadway. The car would of course have to run in mixed traffic because there are the bike lanes, but there is little enough traffic to accept that.

        Now you might put the bike lane in the median without disrupting anything. Then the bike lanes would be available for the street car.

        The overriding weakness is that it doesn’t serve the Roosevelt or the Brooklyn Link station.

      10. You could have the U-Line streetcar continue up from the Ave (the Upper Ave has always seemed wayy to wide to me; perfect for a streetcar) and along 15th, turning left on 65th and joining my proposed line to Green Lake.

      11. “I’ve liked Weedin Place as a transit ROW for a long time”

        I had to look on a map to see where Weedin Place is. It’s where I used to bike to Northgate when I lived in the U district. Yes, it’s a good location for a streetcar.

        I can see a use for a route on 25th and 65th. But if 65th is too narrow, I started thinking further south, like 55th. But there’s no way to get through the hillside between 15th and 25th where the streets get really narrow on the hillside. Unless you went through Ravenna Park (just kidding). So maybe a bus from UW station to Roosevelt Station on 25th & 65th is the best we can hope for.

    2. You’re assuming the UW would be willing to give up part of its parking lot. A route on 25th/65th/Ravenna probably would get used because the 25th Avenue bus seems to be popular.

      But as others have said, there’s no way you’d get the Ravenna Boulevard median because that would destroy a park that people feel strongly about preserving. However, running it on the street there might be doable. Some people (like me) would consider that a visual enhancement.

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