Metro’s Emergency Routing Plan

Photo from SLOG
Photo from SLOG

Yesterday, Metro unveiled the emergency service network, a route system intended for times when heavy snow or severe flooding renders regular service impossible.  This is a level beyond the standard snow routing depicted on schedules for 180 routes, designed for when the occasional hillside is a little too slippery.

The 70 routes are basically a core set of Metro’s most important routes, minus some that are obviously impassable in severe weather.  However, there are interesting tidbits for armchair planners, like a new Route 90 that serves as Capitol Hill/First Hill/Downtown Circulator, and a modified Route 39 that is truncated to run between Seward Park and the two nearest light rail stations.

Veterans of last winter’s “snowpocalypse” will recall the basic impossibility of adhering to any sort of schedule.  Indeed, spokesperson Rochelle Ogershok explains that “given the emergency conditions that would be in effect, these buses would not have regularly scheduled service. However, Metro would deploy as much service as possible on the core routes to move customers.”

With many buses likely out of commission (and about 335 of the usual 550 articulated buses sidelined for safety) Metro envisions a minimum frequency of 2 buses/hour, with certain busy routes like the 48 running as many as 4/hour.  This is all, of course, subject to the roads being passable.

To that end, there’s been a coordination effort with road departments to prioritize these routes for clearance.  Metro also has a new type of traction tire.

Here’s hoping this isn’t put to the test this winter — with Link’s switch heaters not yet installed, and GPS-based bus tracking coming in 2011, we’ll be much better equipped in a couple of years.

You can watch Metro GM Kevin Desmond explaining the new plan in a 15 minute video.  Next: how you can find out when the snow plan is in effect.

McGinn Slightly Widens Lead

The McGinn party at the War Room on election night.
The McGinn party at the War Room on election night.

Update: King County dropped more ballots at 7:30, nearly doubling McGinn’s lead again to 2,384. The numbers tonight:

Mayor of Seattle
Mike McGinn – 85,416 – 50.31%
Joe Mallahan – 83,032 – 48.91%

Previously: Mike McGinn has more than doubled his lead over Joe Mallahan from yesterday’s ballot drop, according to the King County elections department, and now leads by a margin of 1,209 votes.

Mayor of Seattle
Mike McGinn – 75,657 – 49.99%
Joe Mallahan – 74,448 – 49.19%

Publicola reports that 51.4% of the ballots went for McGinn compared to 48.0% for Mallahan, possibly indicating a late surge for McGinn. King County will release another drop of ballots tonight between 9pm and 10pm according to their elections blog.

Just before the results were posted today, Dominic Holden on the Slog posted statistics from the McGinn campaign showing that the ballots remaining to be counted are trending younger — a trend that favors McGinn.

This is an open thread regarding the mayoral election.

Pierce Transit to End Sale of Ticket Books

On Monday evening, the Pierce County Board of Commissioners will hold a hearing on ending sale of ticket books to the general public effective January 1.  This is obviously a casualty of the ORCA rollout, and would sadly mean the end of the buy-10-get-one-free deal these books offered.  From the press release:

Tickets would still be available for sale to human/social service providers, school districts and administrators of the Pierce County Superior Court Juror Ticket Program.

These groups would be able to purchase:

• Regular adult tickets for $1.75 each

• Discounted tickets for $0.75 each for use by youth, senior citizens, individuals with disabilities and individuals with a valid Medicare card…

Human/social service providers, schools and the Pierce County Superior Court would be required to preorder and prepay for tickets.

Board meetings usually begin at 4:00 p.m. and are held in the Main Training Room (The Rainier Room) on the first floor of Pierce Transit’s Training Center, Building 5, directly across 96th Street from our Maintenance Base.  Address: 3720 96th St SW, Lakewood, WA.

According to spokesperson Rochelle Ogershok, Metro has no plans to discontinue ticket book sales.

Eastside Rail Corridor Soon To Be In Public Hands

Photo by Slack Action
Photo by Slack Action

Sound Transit has just announced a partnership with several other agencies and governments to keep the eastside rail corridor in public ownership. This purchase would allow King County and Redmond to move forward with trail projects, and secure portions of the right of way necessary for East Link.

In Sound Transit’s statement of interest in the Memorandum of Understanding, they’ve called out both the southern portion (for the C portion of East Link) and the Redmond spur (for the E portion of East Link, where funding only exists for study and some right of way acquisition), so they’re thinking ahead.

The purchase itself is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

Metro Reroutes for Friday Morning’s Procession

To accommodate Friday morning’s procession for slain officer Timothy Brenton, King County Metro has released the rerouted detours for all routes that will be affected by lie in the path of the procession, which is expected to last from 9am to 11am.  However, traffic is expected to be affected as early as 8am and as late as 1pm.  As far as we know, Metro has not made a clear update linking to all of the reroutes, so we’ve taken the liberty of identifying all of them (pdf).*

[UPDATE: 11:28am] *The procession is now over and Metro has pulled most, if not all, of the reroutes.  A statement was issued:

The procession has concluded.  All buses are back to regular route.  While there are still some delays, most buses are back on schedule.   Expect trolley routes to take a little longer to get back on regular schedule.

While there are no post memorial reroutes, you may experience delays due to heavy traffic around the Seattle Center during and after the event.

Thank you for your understanding and patience during this event.

[UPDATE: 6:53am] Metro has added information about the shuttle and more reroutes.  Commenter Transit Supervisor was also kind enough to post specific information about the Queen Anne Shuttle:

– From 2/Clay, via 3 Av, Broad St, Western Av, Western Av W, 2 Av W, via Rt 1 to Kinnear, via the wire to the Rt 2 terminal, continues as inbound 2 to Queen Anne/Galer, left on Queen Anne via Rt 13 to SPU. Opposite in reverse, except that the motor coach will follow regular Rt 1 routing SB on Queen Anne Av N. NB signed “W Queen Anne via SHUTTLE” and SB signed as “To Seattle Center West”

– The other is the Rt 4 Night/Sun routing between the top of the hill and 5 Av N & Valley St. Signed NB “4 E Queen Anne via Nite/Sun Rt” and SB “To Seattle Center East”

See the list of links to individual bus routes below the jump. Continue reading “Metro Reroutes for Friday Morning’s Procession”

McGinn & Mallahan in Dead Heat

Mike McGinn. Photo by flickr user justsmartdesign.
Mike McGinn. Photo by flickr user justsmartdesign.

The election for Mayor of Seattle shows little hope of being resolved in a timely matter. Today’s ballot drop reveals that a small 515-vote lead puts Mike McGinn narrowly ahead of Joe Mallahan. From yesterday’s results, that is a net 53-vote gain for McGinn out of more than 25,000 ballots counted since then.

Mayor of Seattle
Mike McGinn – 65,172 – 49.78%
Joe Mallahan – 64,657 – 49.38%

The common wisdom on election day that McGinn was an underdog, but his grassroots campaign had a noticeably better ground game and a stronger get out to vote operation that is likely contributing to his impressive showing. Transit advocates should be pleasantly surprised by McGinn’s continuing fortune — Seattle Transit Blog endorsed him earlier in the general election season after Mayor Nickels was ousted in the primary.

Publicola reports that some 4,700 county ballots have been dropped due to signature discrepancies. (We remind people to check that their ballot was processed and be sure to return calls from the King County elections department.) These ballots could be party to any dispute between the campaigns if the election remains this tight. Speaking of, the King County Votes blog has an entry about the statues regarding automatic recounts of tight elections.

The final drop of the week will be posted tomorrow at 4:30 pm according to the King County elections website, but it’s unlikely we’ll be able to find out who our next Mayor is for quite some time.

Major Service Disruption Centered on Capitol Hill

Photo by Oran
Photo by Oran

The memorial procession for murdered police officer Tim Brenton is going to close a bunch of streets between 8am and 1pm Friday.  Map of the Route (pdf):

On Friday, Nov 6, between approximately 8:00 AM and
approximately 1:00 PM, a Seattle Police memorial procession
between Husky Stadium and Key Arena will significantly
impact all traffic and travel – including Metro service on
many bus routes – in the following areas:

* University of Washington / Husky Stadium
* Montlake / 24th Av E & 23rd Av E
* Capitol Hill / E Madison St, Pine St & Broadway
* North of Downtown Seattle / Denny Way & Mercer St
* Queen Anne / 1st Av N & Seattle Center

In somewhat related news, “unpaid intern” on SLOG offers up a fine whine about Route 8, which degenerates into an epic comment thread complaining about Metro’s worst routes. A followup anecdote makes a compelling argument for the 150.

Of course, a “bad route” actually has three components: (lack of) speed, unreliability, and unpleasant fellow riders. Unfortunately, Metro doesn’t make data about on-time performance and incidents per revenue hour easily accessible, so it’s hard to inform these discussions with actual data.  I happen to know that Metro switched the 8 for the 48 in the Rainier Valley largely because the data showed the 8 to be more reliable.

Seattle’s crappiest bus route

This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

Vote over at the Slog.

I actually like the 3 and 4. I’m a 2, 13 (and recently 15 and 18) rider myself, and the 4 is a nice change – calm, quiet, with few stops and little traffic. But that’s up QA hill – maybe the problem is on the south end of the route.

Infill Stations

Vote is legally binding

Sound Transit doesn’t have a lot of extra cash lying around right now, but should that change, surplus subarea funds might be used to construct an infill station — that is, an additional station on an existing line.  There are 5 such stations that come up now and then.  What follows is a highly speculative review of each of these; note that all of these have the drawback of increasing travel times by a minute or two.  Click on each station name to see a Google map of the approximate location.

1. MLK & Graham St. – This station would plug the biggest gap in the Rainier Valley segment and place virtually everyone within a half mile of a station, potentially allowing cutbacks in Metro service in this corridor.  It would also serve a minor retail district, middle school, and in the long run probably allow MLK to become a solid line of dense development instead of islands around stations.

2. Boeing Access Road Long mentioned and long lamented, BAR station actually has fairly low ridership estimates, as there’s almost nothing to walk to.  Additionally, potential building heights are unimpressive because it’s at the foot of a runway.  However, BAR is the only place for an intermodal Sounder/Link/Bus transfer point aside from King St; the connection would facilitate connections from the Green River Valley to the airport, provide a bypass of the Rainier Valley for Link riders from Federal Way, and possibly allow the truncation of bus service along I-5.

3. S. 133rd St. A station here would also break up the huge stop-less stretch between Rainier Beach and TIB.  It provides a superior transfer point to get I-5 buses like the 150 off the freeway before they enter town.  However, there is no Sounder connection.  Since it’s in Tukwila, this station would have to be paid for by South King funds, which might otherwise be used to extend the line another stop.

4. Broad Street Sounder. A station on the Belltown end of downtown would improve anemic ridership on North Sounder by providing better connections to jobs in Seattle Center, SLU, and Belltown.  It’s not entirely clear that the logistics of terminating South Sounder here work out, but if they did that would be an additional bonus.  One drawback is that fixing the street grid could be messy and expensive.

5. Ballard Sounder would bring Sound Transit service to an otherwise ignored quadrant of the City.  It would provide a traffic-independent means downtown and boost ridership on North Sounder.  However, the tracks run well away from the population and business centers, hurting ridership.  Furthermore, this station would credibly require North King operating funds to contribute to North Sounder operations, which is a either a feature or a bug depending on what else is going on.

Mallahan Closes on McGinn; Other Races Decided

Mike McGinn (photo by Martin)
Mike McGinn (photo by Martin)

The latest results from King County Elections have been posted and it looks like the race for Mayor is going to down to the wire. Joe Mallahan has slowly gained on Mike McGinn’s 910-vote margin last night to a narrow 462 vote lead today.

Mayor of Seattle
Mike McGinn
– 52,238 – 49.77%
Joe Mallahan – 51,776 – 49.33%

According a campaign staffer in the McGinn camp, the last minute attempt to get out final votes netted an additional 203 ballots. That could prove crucial in a tight race that may end up heading to an automatic recount. King County will release the next round of results tomorrow at 4:30pm.

Today’s results have effectively finalized some results: Tim Eyman’s I-1033 has failed  statewide and Constantine has defeated Hutchison for King County Executive. On the Seattle City Council: Conlin will hold on to his seat against a challenge from Ginsberg; Bagshaw has defeated Bloom; Licata has defeated Israel; and O’Brien has defeated Rosencrantz. With the small exception of Nick Licata, Seattle Transit Blog had endorsed these very results. The results from Bellevue, on the other hand, are just as disappointing for transit advocates as last night’s results were.

If you’d like to track your mail-in ballot and make sure your vote was counted, check out this useful widget on the King County Elections website.

Conlin: Rail to West Seattle, Fremont, Ballard – Soon

Richard Conlin
Richard Conlin

Dominic Holden of The Stranger interviewed likely Seattle City Council President Richard Conlin, christening him the “new mayor” while the titular mayor gets situated.  He didn’t waste any time before pandering to the STB crowd:

• Building Light Rail to West Seattle and a Streetcar to Ballard

“I would like to see us extend the South Lake Union Streetcar over to Fremont and over to Ballard,” Conlin said. He envisions using the same sort of traffic-signal preemption light rail uses on Martin Luther King Jr. Way South to allow a streetcar to move quickly through traffic. But that’s only a stopgap until we can afford to build a Ballard-bound light-rail line, he said. In the meantime, Conlin thinks the city can build a light-rail line to West Seattle within a few years. “I think that that one is relatively easy from a logistic standpoint,” he said. “We have to come up with the money, but I don’t think it’s terribly expensive.” A member of the finance committee of Sound Transit, Conlin thinks the voters would approve “a financing plan that makes sense” to pay for the project. He proposes a small utility hike, buy-in from businesses closest to the line, and other tax increases.

Yowza.  This isn’t exactly the McGinn vision, but it would certainly appear that the chances of this kind of thing actually happening just went way up.

There’s a lot more about the tunnel and the 520 bridge, which you should click over and read.

The Biggest Loser: WSDOT?

CRC, SR-99, SR-520
CRC, SR-99, SR-520

It’s probably a bit early to draw broad conclusions about this election, but please indulge me.

If McGinn holds his lead and wins, this election will be a significant setback for WSDOT’s three largest projects. Together totaling over $13 billion dollars, the deep-bore tunnel, SR-520 bridge and the I-5 Columbian River Crossing (CRC) will all face significantly altered local political landscapes. One that is not entrenched in the establishment like the former mayoral incumbents of Seattle and Vancouver, as well as one that is hostile towards key aspects of WSDOT’s projects. The establishment knew this, and that is why they lined up behind Mallahan. Not because they liked him, but because they knew he was malleable or pragmatic, depending on your point of view. Not so with McGinn.

While Seattle’s mayoral election was epic, there are other cities in Washington. In Vancouver, transportation also pushed its way to the forefront, dominating a contentious, $400,000 dollar mayoral contest.

More after the jump. Continue reading “The Biggest Loser: WSDOT?”

Other Early Returns Not Good

Downtown Bellevue (WSDOT)
Downtown Bellevue (WSDOT)

[UPDATE 10:15am: Let’s not over-interpret the Bellevue results.  This isn’t a comprehensive voter repudiation of East Link, it’s a local election with inscrutable forces, whose outcome is a Bellevue City Council that is less likely to make good decisions about Light Rail.  “Screw Bellevue” comments are totally unhelpful.]

In the other races we’ve endorsed, the early returns are not good.  Apparently the power of the STB endorsement (in bold below) does not extend much past the Seattle City limits.  Other results are here.

Transportation Benefit District No. 1 (Burien)
YES – 958 – 23.50%
NO – 3118 – 76.50%

Bellevue City Council Position 2
Vicki Orrico – 6817 – 46.55%
Conrad Lee – 7800 – 53.27%

Bellevue City Council Position 4
Kevin R. Wallace – 7012 – 50.95%
Patsy Bonincontri – 6730 – 48.90%

Bellevue City Council Position 6
Michael Marchand – 5320 – 38.72%
Don Davidson – 8385 – 61.04%

Bellevue City Council Position 8
Mike Creighton -5622 – 40.68%
Jennifer Robertson – 6493 – 46.99%
Betina Finley – 1681 – 12.16%

With Kemper Freeman’s apparent clean sweep in Bellevue, it’s clear just how much work we still need to do in the suburbs.  The likelihood of a B7 alignment — missing the population centers and blocking Eastside Commuter Rail forever — just went up.

Early Results: Constantine, McGinn Up; 1033 Down

The McGinn party at the War Room.
The McGinn party at the War Room.

The King County and State election departments have posted early results from the ballots received so far. Given that the state votes by mail now, we’re going to have to wait days to see who the official winners are.

The county has reported a turnout of 35% so far, with an expected final turnout of 56% — so the county expects that 38% of the expected turnout were mailed in recently but not yet received by the county. That could have a significant impact on the final results.

Early reports show Tim Eyman’s I-1033 failing big, Dow Constantine showing a large lead in the King County Executive race, and Mike McGinn leading in the race for Mayor by less than a thousand votes. Over-all, a pretty exciting night for supporters of transit.

Initial Results

(Our endorsements are in bold.)

I-1033 (WA SOS)
Yes – 299,021 – 43.22 %
– 392,802 – 56.78 %

King County Executive (KC Elections)
– 139501 – 57.01%
Hutchison – 104622 – 42.76%

Mayor of Seattle (KC Elections)
– 42563 – 50.03%
Mallahan – 41653 – 48.96%

Seattle City Council Position 2
– 56540 – 75.40%
Ginsberg – 18232 – 24.31%

Seattle City Council Position 4
– 51952 – 68.58%
Bloom – 23611 – 31.17%

Seattle City Council Position 6
Licata – 45062 – 57.73%
Israel – 32808 – 42.03%

Seattle City Council Position 8
– 44040 – 57.91%
Rosencrantz – 31835 – 41.86%

News Roundup: Election Day

Technical Difficulties

We apologize for the site outages you may have experienced in the last day or two.  There have been issues with our hosting, which was selected to be as inexpensive as possible, but we’re hopeful that we’re now through the worst of it.  They’ve moved us to a faster server.

Who’s Gonna Run This Town Tonight?*

[UPDATE: Lost your ballot? Go to Union Station to vote.]

Most people who are going to vote have already done so, but we won’t get any results till 8:15 pm tonight. Put your predictions, last minute exhortations, etc. in the comments.

And by all means don’t forget to drop your ballot off today.  If it’s a mailbox, make sure you do it before the last pickup of the day; better yet, save postage and drop it off at one of the Elections Dept. dropboxes by 8pm.

Dedicated procrastinators can check out our endorsements here, but why not do it later?

And don’t forget that I-1033 is hidden in the lower left-corner of your ballot.

*We all know the actual answer to this question is “Greg Nickels.”

Editorial: Reasons why Central Link wasn’t a political ploy

ZOOM!, by Mike Bjork
ZOOM!, by Mike Bjork

Frankly, I wasn’t around actively advocating for Sound Transit’s Central Link when it was being conceived, but one common criticism that I’ve heard rail opponents iterate time and time again is that the Central Link alignment was some sort of a political ploy or gimmick. “Why Tukwila of all places? People don’t go to the airport on a daily basis. Why not the suburbs first?”  First of all, it’s rather ironic that the same people wanting to block light rail to the Eastside (and anywhere else in general) are tied with those who criticize the Central Link alignment and throw their hands up in the air asking why the suburbs were not Link’s first destination.  It’s a fair indication that these people are just against rail transit in general under the pretense of a number of other excuses up their sleeves.

More below the jump.

Continue reading “Editorial: Reasons why Central Link wasn’t a political ploy”

Next Train Signs

Video by Oran (click to watch)

Alert readers Michal Bryc and Dick Burkhardt have gotten responses from Sound Transit on when we can expect to have next train announcements at Link stations:

Due to the work being done in the Airport Station the train arrival message will not be activated until the end of November. We have been working on integrating this station into the Central Link system and it requires us to use two different train tracking approach one for the Central Link and different one for expanding to the Airport. As we are so close to opening the Airport Station we decided to hold off on implementing arrival messages for Central Link until we can include Airport Station and its new schedule, and to facilitate our testing of Airport Station.

So there you go.