from the Flickr Pool

February Link ridership numbers increased slightly over January’s average to 16,741 boardings each weekday, 13,744 on Saturdays, and 12,076 on Sundays. That actually beats out the record for weekdays, set in October, of 16,192.  The weekend records were set in the July opener and are unreachable for the foreseeable future.

Prediction and analysis on this subject are fraught with peril, but the major change in February was elimination of the 194 as part of a reorganization of Southwest King County service that also greatly improved bus access to TIB and Seatac stations.

These always turn into really long comment threads, but recall that we have a basically incomplete data set, Link’s most important promises won’t be realized for decades, and these numbers are neither so astoundingly high nor abominably low that anyone on the either side is likely to be convinced to change their opinion on the project as a whole.

For obsessives, the raw data is here.

149 Replies to “February 2010 Link Ridership Numbers”

  1. Well I’m impressed. Only those living within walking distance from this segment – which mind you is a tiny percentage of Greater Seattle – can use it, and it already is being heavily used.

    Now when is the WestSeattle-Ballard-Greenwood line going to start happening? We have the Central Link – Yellow Line – the East Link – Green Line… now what about the Red, Blue and Orange lines?

    I love lightrail (especially undeground like a subway), but when will I see a cobweb of lines, like a true, worldclass subway system?

    1. Agreed. I’m waiting for the sign: “Seattle Metropolitan Underground” to be placed all over this burgeoning metropolis allowing commuters to take multiple underground lines anywhere around the clock.

      It’s happening, but not fast enough.

      1. If you want to make it happen faster, you have to help us elect better pro-transit legislators.

    2. You impress easily. Route a light rail line though transit dependent neighborhoods, eliminate some bus routes, alter other bus routes to feed light rail stations, and viola! You have a “successful” light rail line!

      Ridership numbers aren’t important. Eliminate enough bus routes and you’ll have a full train. It’s a manufactured success. Which isn’t really a success at all if you aren’t getting people out of their cars. If the majority of Link riders are merely former bus riders, then Link is a failure.

      1. A couple of things here:
        First in any transportation network the usage of any link tends to go up the more connections there are in the overall network. So as more Link lines get built the ridership of all Link lines will go up.

        Second, for the line between Northgate and downtown the carrying capacity of the current bus based system is maxed out and the operating costs are quite high. The road network doesn’t have a lot of additional capacity at peak times and is subject to frequent delays. Historically this is the sort of thing that saw tunnels built for trolley systems (Boston, Newark, Philadelphia) or heavy rail transit systems built (Boston, NYC, Philadelphia, Chicago, Toronto, London, etc.). The people who used the new rail lines were mostly already using the existing transit system. Should the NYC subway system be considered a “failure” because it only attracted people who were already using other forms of transit.

        Furthermore what about someone who currently commutes to their job on the bus but drives for all other trips? Is rail doing what it is supposed to if that person uses Link to run an errand? Attend a concert? Or are SOV trips during peak hour the only ones that count for today’s goalposts?

      2. You assume wrong. People who live such a distance away from work that multi-billion dollar transportation systems need to be built for them are living unsustainable, earth-destroying lifestyles. They are part of the problem. I, on the other hand, am living the correct way. I am part of the solution. I moved to within walking distance from work. Am an example of sustainable living. I am to be admired.

    3. Actually, only a fraction of those “living within walking distance from this segment” can use it. There are several very long stretches of track that pass by thousands of residents without a station within walking distance.

  2. “I love lightrail (especially undeground like a subway), but when will I see a cobweb of lines, like a true, worldclass subway system?”

    How high do you want the sales tax in Seattle to be?

      1. I oppose the viaduct tunnel. However, the tunnel itself would be paid for with gas tax. The money for the tunnel is already there. It would not require any tax increase.

      2. That’s false. The tunnel plan is underfunded – remember how the city and county portions aren’t paid for yet?

      3. The city and county portions are for things like the replacing the seawall and moving utilities. The tunnel itself is fully funded by gas taxes.

        I support rebuilding the viaduce, which would cost a lot less. The city would still have to pay for a new seawall, however, which is combined in the total “viaduct replacement” plan.

    1. I think there is still plenty of room for increased taxes — I, for one, would love to see the Seattle City portion of our local sales tax extended to gasoline and the proceeds dedicated to transit, bike, and walking infrastructure.

      1. The gas tax in WA (federal and WA combined) is round 20% when the price of gas is $3.00/gallon. Sales tax is 9.5% in Seattle. So people buying gasoline are already paying about twice the rate of tax as people just paying sales tax on purchases.

        To pay for transit, there should be taxes on transit fares. Why is there no sales tax on transit fares?

      2. “To pay for transit, there should be taxes on transit fares. Why is there no sales tax on transit fares?”

        That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Transit fares are already a tax that goes directly to the operating agency. Why would you pay a tax on a tax, so the state government can take a cut before passing on the rest to the transit agency? Metro has already raised fares this year by more than what a sales tax on transit fares would add.

        I pay about $1200 a year directly to Metro in fares, in addition to several hundred dollars a year in sales taxes for Metro and Sound Transit. The average driver only pays around $350 per year in gas taxes.

      3. Fares are not a tax. They are a fee for services delivered. Just like a ticket to a movie is not a tax — it is the charge for seeing that movie.

        Fares don’t cover more than a fraction of operating costs. They pay zero of construction cost. A tax on fares could be used towards construction costs for transit, or for roads that buses use.

        Whatever you pay to Metro in fares doesn’t come close to paying for the operating costs of the buses you ride. And ZERO of that fare money you pay to Metro goes to paying for the roads Metro uses. Zero of the sales taxes you pay that goes to Metro or ST pays for roads Metro and ST buses use.

        So, the average driver pays about $350 per year (if your figure is correct) in gas taxes which goes to pay for roads, and the money you spend on fares that goes to Metro and ST doesn’t pay for any part of the roads you use. Why shouldn’t bus riders help pay for the roads they use? Or part of the construction cost of the transit systems they use?

      4. The problem is of that $350/year I pay in gas taxes, I don’t see any of it being spent on MY roads.

        But I never get to vote on where it gets spent, save for Ref 51. Which I voted NO on, anyway.

        You make a great argument for tolled roadways, Norman.

      5. i have no problems with tolled roadways, and am becoming increasing in favor of charging a modest fee for use of some P&R facilitys. So long as the revenues generated are used for improvement to said facilities.

        A good example of this is the Bridgeport Station in Vancouver, BC. Its a rather unique facility being partially tied into the adjacent casino, however there is a large P&R structure which users of the Canada line have to pay a modest toonie a day to use. It gives you 24 hours from time of purchase so its quite geneorus. The garage is tied into both the casino and Canada Line, and if you are going to the casino its free to park there.

        The signage was a little confusing to find the pay station, but otherwise it was easy, safe and convient to use. I think more Public-Private partnerships like that could be a good investment in our community. For example, If you could build a freeway station at the EQC in fife, that garage is idea for such a project. Building structured parking at Tacoma Mall, along with a freeway stop would be eaqually as good.

        Now, i realise this doesent help with our sprawl situation, however it’s not going away anytime soon. This does help make express bus (and rail someday) service more attracitve; while providing a benefit to both the private property owner (i.e. parking fees and capital construction assistance). Also lets not forget the more people that choose to park at a secure P&R means the fewer automobiles they bring into downtown and other urban areas.

      6. Norman, you need to stop with the false dichotomy between “transit users” and “drivers.” The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the regional electorate drives, and—as drivers—has convincingly decided to fund transit at the levels you find abhorrent.

        The vast majority of transit users also drive, and therefore pay fares in addition to, not instead of, gas taxes, car tabs, sales taxes, property taxes, etc.

        You ask, “Why shouldn’t bus riders help pay for the roads they use?” They do, because they also own property (or pay property taxes indirectly through rent) and cars and buy gas and spend almost all their income in the area. Your obsession over free-loading transit users and tax-paying drivers is sheer fantasy because the two populations are one in the same.

      7. That is entirely different from paying for the services you use.

        When I buy a car, your taxes don’t help pay for my car. But my taxes help pay for your train. You don’t ride in my car, and I don’t ride in your train (except to see how things are going on Link. I have never ridden a Sounder train). You don’t help pay for my car. Why should I help pay for your train?

        When paying bus fare, bus riders are not paying anything towards the cost of the roads. When I buy gas, or tires, or a car, or pay a toll on a road, I am also paying taxes that help pay for roads. You don’t see the difference? When you buy gas and pay car tabs, you are helping pay for roads. When you pay bus fare, you are not helping pay for roads — you aren’t even paying the operating cost of your bus trip.

        In other words, you have two different “roles”: car driver; and transit user. In your role as car driver you help pay for roads. In your role as transit user you do not help pay for roads. Why should you only help pay for roads when you drive your car, and not when you ride a bus?

      8. What a joke. Most people drive, and have voted to tax themselves (as drivers, consumers, and property-tax payers) to pay for transit, however often they may or may not utilize it. Voters are not divisible into roles. Bus riders don’t have to pay for roads with their fare because, just like you, they’ve already paid for it. Why do you have to pay for transit that you don’t want to? Because you live in a democracy and lost the vote.

      9. “The gas tax in WA (federal and WA combined) is round 20% when the price of gas is $3.00/gallon. ”

        This is somewhat awkwardly worded. I don’t believe the gas tax is a percentage of the price of gasoline but rather it is a fixed price (around 60-cents for gallon at the above rate). When the price of gasoline reaches $4.00 per gallon, then it will only be about 15% of the price.

        Concerning the no sales tax on transit fares, do you have a reference that says it doesn’t? I believe there are still a number of services where sales tax is not charged.

    2. By focusing on the tax side and not the value side, you miss the point completely. The eventual light rail SYSTEM that will exist in the central Puget Sound region will benefit all residents whether they ride the line or not. That’s why a majority of voters rationally voted to tax themselves to pay for the next increment in that system.

      1. Hey, if they used to drive a car or ride a bus and now they don’t (and so that car or bus is no longer on the road), then I would benefit as a driver.

        (Don’t jump on me. I’d ride a train everywhere if there were a train near me. I have a seven minute drive to work. If I wanted to take the bus it would take 90 minutes on the bus, several transfers and include a walk of more than a quarter mile.)

    1. We have a standing request to get these monthly numbers as long as they’re reporting them to the FTA. Numbers are posted on the website quarterly.

  3. I’m still have a concern about how many people skip paying on Link. I took the Link from SeaTac to Westlake on Tuesday and when we all got off, I recall a distinct LACK of those “beeps” going off at the ORCA machines. And it was only light rail passengers in the mezzanine.

    1. Public Interest Transportation Forum has published detail on Sound Transit’s revenue collections from Central Link in 2009 as the Lead Story at http://www.bettertransport.info/pitf/index.htm .

      Average collected revenue per passenger in 2009 was 97 cents. Remember that ORCA was not yet completely in operation.

      The story includes a photo of four fare enforcement inspectors in action.

    2. I have an orca card and never tap out when travelling SeaTac-downtown. Why bother – the system charges you the maximum fare anyway. (Or in my case, it makes no difference with my pass.)

      (I might change my attitude when the SeaTac-Westlake fair is no longer the system maximum, presumably once North Link is up and running, of course.)

      The lack of orca beeps at Westlake doesn’t really say anything about who’s actually paying.

      1. You ought to tap out just so the system can collect accurate ridership statistics.

        Also, it could be argued that you were planning to do a partial fare evasion. Suppose you tap in at some station, travel to a second station and don’t tap out. You then go do an errand, return to the station, don’t tap in and travel in the direction of your original station. When you get off, you tap off and pay a fare smaller than that at station #2.

    3. Some people pay with methods that do not require the use of the ORCA reader:
      – U-PASSes
      – Cash
      – FlexPass
      etc…

    4. A couple of weeks ago, I was at the University Street station on a weekday midmorning recharging my ORCA card’s e-purse, and showing a couple new to the area how to buy their tickets to Sea-Tac. (They’d taken the ferry from Bainbridge, and it appeared that the trip planner had given them misinformation, because they thought they were supposed to catch a bus some blocks north of the ferry terminal, and told me that the website they had used (Metro, probably) hadn’t pointed them to either the Sound Transit or the ORCA sites.) I mentioned fare scofflaws took the chance of getting a permanent record, along with the hefty fine and getting booted off the train, and told them they’d likely see a fare inspector at some point during their journey. However, the entire time I was on the mezzanine, I was the only one to tap in, and the couple and I were the only ones to use a TVM. When I got off at Beacon Hill along with over a dozen other riders, I was the only one to tap out. (Several of them jumped when the reader’s bell clanged.)

      I’ve noticed at the other stations where I get on and off, I usually tend to be the only one tapping in and out. So I too feel there’s a problem with fare scofflaws on Link, as I tend to see an awful lot of ORCA users on buses these days, and I’d think Link would see a similar percentage.

      I’d like to see a comparison of numbers of ORCA fares paid versus estimated boardings. I realize it wouldn’t be an entirely accurate comparison, what with cash, transfers, paper passes still being used, etc., but it would be interesting.

      1. There are a lot of flash passes still out there. Once the County, UW, and other large employers switch to ORCA, you should see more tapping…

        Also: I wonder how much trouble you get in if you don’t tap an ORCA pass. It seems like a gray area: You have a legitimate pass but you haven’t registered it. It’s the same idea as walking past the bus driver and not showing your pass.

      2. Mike, most pass users are still on flexpass, and will be until their flexpasses expire.

      3. I get fare inspected about twice a week on my daily commute trips, and only once or twice have I noticed someone being confronted for non-payment in the car I’m riding. And being a Transit Guy, I do pay attention to notice such things.

        Whatever you see happening on the mezzanines, don’t presume it represents fare evasion.

    5. Fare evasion seems quite low and has improved over time. I ride Link regularly twice a day, and whenever fares are checked, everyone has usually paid or there may be one person who hasn’t. Also, I think that the officers have done a good job in handling this.

      Not every paying rider has to use an ORCA card. Some people have a paid paper ticket which doesn’t require the ORCA card. I still have a FlexPass which hasn’t transitioned to ORCA yet.

      Also, I have to say that ORCA seems to be working much more reliably now.

  4. So, Link is averaging about 16,741 per weekday. Does anyone know how many millions of dollars Sound Transit has spent on advertising Link since Link started operating? There were TV commercials, radio ads, newspaper ads and internet ads all over the place for months, although that seems to have almost disappeared lately.

    But, how much money has ST spent advertising Link to achieve 16,741 boardings per weekday?

    1. Does anyone know how many millions of dollars GM spent of our taxpayer money advertising to US citizens and residents to buy more of their crappy cars?

    2. If advertizing by ST can successfully get people out of their cars and onto transit, then I say, “ST, please spend more!”

      1. ST advertising does not seem to be working particularly well, as evidenced by the latest ridership numbers.

        What would riderhips be if ST had not spent millions of dollars advertising Link?

      2. It’s amazing that you’ll believe ridership is related to advertising, but not service quality.

  5. Picking up on the notion above, “Link’s most important promises won’t be realized for decades,” I invite your attention to the computerized travel model forecasts of year 2040 regional movement by mode published Friday (yesterday) by Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) in the Transportation 2040 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) at http://www.psrc.org/assets/3674/01-Executive_Summary.pdf

    From Exhibit 1-11. Transit Travel (Average Daily Boardings by Mode)

    2006 rail: 5,800 (before Central Link, but including Sounder and Tacoma Link)
    2006 bus: 367,500 (KC Metro, PT, CT, ET, KT, and REx)

    2040 financially constrained preferred alternative (PA-C), rail: 164,400
    2040 financially constrained preferred alternative (PA-C), bus: 717,100

    In other words, in 2040 the ratio of bus boardings to rail boardings is forecast to be over 4 to 1.

    Of course a lot of the bus boardings represent trips to/from rail stations. Every planned rail and bus transit route is contained in the PSRC’s 2040 model, including arterial rapid bus lines like KC Metro RapidRide and CT Swift.

    PA-C includes all of ST2 plus light rail extensions to Tacoma, Everett, and Redmond. This alternative also includes a doubling of bus service hours by 2040.

    The PSRC model calculates land use changes brought about by the new travel options to be built over the next 30 years.

    In light of mobility demand and land use, daily motor vehicle trips are modeled to grow from 8.7 million daily in 2006 to 12 million in 2040. Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) per capita per day drops from 22.5 to 20.6 between 2006 and 2040.

    There is much to ponder here, considering that Exhibit 1-3 in the Executive Summary shows over half of government transportation investment in the four county PSRC region out to 2040 going to public transit.

    Final approval of the Transportation 2040 Plan by the General Assembly of PSRC (elected officials) is scheduled for May 20.

    Much more detail is in the transportation chapter and Appendix D at http://www.psrc.org/transportation/t2040/t2040-pubs/transportation-2040-final-environmental-impact-statement/ .

    1. That’s funny, cause ST’s ridership estimates for ST2 which even opponents of the plans conceded were conservative said that over 350,000 people would be riding the system daily by 2030. I don’t know what PSRC’s deal is.
      And I don’t like the plan anyways, it’s not nearly long-range enough. The extensions proposed in there will probably all be in ST3, while by 2040 I expect the lines from ST4 or 5 to be opening.

  6. Does anyone know when we’ll be getting the first ridership numbers by station? I’m curious to see which stations had the highest, other than the obvious one, Westlake.

    1. Sound Transit does not have a historical record of releasing ridership numbers by station. For Seattle Central Link light rail, the information would be available by compiling numbers from the automated counting of boardings.

      1. I’m not sure why you’re saying ST doesn’t release ridership numbers by station. The 2010 Service Implementation Plan that was just released breaks down ridership by station for Sound Transit’s bus and commuter rail routes. I assume the 2011 SIP will have similar date for central link, once the data is actually collected.

  7. Just two days ago, this site had an article about ridership on the SWIFT bus route. So, I would assume it is appropriate to compare SWIFT to Link, since these two subjects were brought up here within two days of each other.

    SWIFT Feb. weekday ridership: 2,660; SWIFT capital cost: $29.5 million

    Link Feb. weekday ridership: 16,741; Link capital cost: $2.6 BILLION

    So, Link is averaging about six times as many boardings per weekday as SWIFT, but Link cost almost 90 times as much to build as SWIFT.

    Link is getting 6.3 times as many boardings for 88 times the capital cost.

    Which is more cost-effective, SWIFT or Link?

    We could have built about 88 SWIFT-style bus routes for the cost of just one light rail route. If each of those 88 bus routes averaged 2,660 per weekday, that would be 234,000 boardings per day on those bus routes, compared to 16,741 boardings on Central Link.

    1. It might be a better comparison if you added to Swift the cost of purchasing the same percentage of ROW that Link was required to buy, and of course the capital cost of the pavement, and the appropriate percentage of the maintenance base used by Swift.

      What’s the Swift capital cost compared to a similarly used Sound Transit bus route?

      What does it matter – you’re comparing apples to oranges – I don’t compare repaving my private road to building a similar length of freeway lane as if they compare somehow – the capacity is enormously different, which is why the comparison isn’t relevant.

      Let’s see what the ridership is in 20 years, and what the surrounding land use looks like then as well for each mode.

      1. Why would you do add any cost of ROW for SWIFT? The road SWIFT uses was already there. And that road is used by tens of thousands of other vehicles every day, as well as by SWIFT buses. SWIFT buses make up only a very tiny percentage of vehicles on that road. There might be over 1,000 vehicles per hour per lane on the SWIFT route in peak hours, and SWIFT buses are only 6 vehicles per hour per direction out of the total.

        Link’s tracks are only used by Link trains, and no other vehicles. When a Link train is not on the tracks, they are useless, wasted space.

        You don’t need to build new roads to add bus routes. The Rapid Ride routes coming soon don’t require building new roads.

        The $29.5 million capital costs for SWIFT were the only cpaital costs SWIFT required.

      2. Norman, just take a drive north along 4th Ave (downtown Seattle) in the afternoon. The right 2 lanes are basically all buses. Don’t get me started on how much space those articulated buses take up while driving around Seattle, turns are the worse as they can’t make a 90 degree turn without wandering into other lanes slowing all other traffic. Plus we have whole streets dedicated to storing suburban buses while they wait to start their routes.

    2. If we go back to the SWIFT approach, we’ll soon be able to get between downtown Seattle and Everett in just 90-120 minutes. Yippee!

      1. There would be express buses using I-5 between Everett and Seattle with no stops between the two cities. Where do you get 90-120 minutes for express buses between Everett and Seattle? Just making that up?

      2. http://soundtransit.org/x13218.xml

        ST Express bus 510 travels between the Everett station and 4th and Union (or 5th and Pine, depending on what direction you are going) in about 45 minutes to an hour most times of the day.

        The Sounder train takes just about exactly one hour to go from the Everett station to King St. station. Then, if you work in downtown Seattle, you have to walk, or take a bus, back north to the business district.

        I have read that the Everett/Seattle Sounder trains are not exactly full most of the time.

      3. Norman, at what point are you going to start thinking about the longevity of capital expenditure?

      4. Foolish me, for buying those bonds that mature in 2047. Oh, and that were issues in 1896.

        D’oh!

    3. Anti transit advocates love to pit one technology against another. What you’re doing, Norman, is like debating weather I-5 or 15th Ave is more cost effective to the tax payer. They both have their place in a good transit system.

      1. Actually, 15th Ave is more cost effective.

        The average cost of one lane of an arterial around the Puget Sound is about $4Mil/mile. A congested arterial, at that rate, will have the users burning enough gas so that they actually pay enough gas tax @ $.02 mile to ‘pay for the road’. That figure is around 17,000 vehicles per day.

        In order to ‘pay for itself’, that lane would have to be at that congested level from Day One, 365 days a year, for 30 years.

      2. Are up aware that gas tax is not the only tax or fee paid by car owners/users?

        You know about the MVET? Car tabs? Tolls? Weight fees? Tire tax? Special 1% sales tax only on motor vehicles in WA? License fees for trailers? License fees for trucks? Parking fees? Parking tickets? Commercial parking tax? Freight mobility fee? Sales tax on new cars? Sales tax on used cars? Sales tax on car parts? Sales tax on car servicing? Sales tax on car body shops?

        The list goes on. Why would anyone think that the sales tax is the only tax/fee that motor vehicle owners pay? The gas tax is only a part of the revenues collected from motor vehicle owners.

        17,000 vehicles per day is not necessarily “congested”. Highways can carry 2,000 vehicles per hour per lane without being “congested”.

      3. Norman, you have to do a better job at being Devil’s advocate.

        You keep bringing up the ‘but auto users pay all these taxes on auto related purchaces’, therefore all that money must go to auto related infrastructure’ argument.

        It’s weak. You can do better.

        Put together a plan, with specific projects, a description of who pays, and who benefits, and put it before the public on a ballot measure and we can see if the people want it. Heck, draw up the plan an test it out on us.

        If it passed, and included funding via the MVET or sales taxes, then I’d have no problem paying for them.

        Before you even go any further analyzing what’s congested on an arterial, you still need to come up with an explanation how adding lanes to existing roadways reduces congestion.

        Until then, well, like I said earlier, you’re not doing your job as Devil’s Advocate on this blog with another weak argument.

      4. You make no argument at all. It does not matter where specific taxes and fees are officially “spent” in a budget. It only matters that all the revenues collected from motor vehicle taxes and fees is equal to or greater than the total spent on roads. If they toll a bridge and “officially” spend that money on libraries, that does not mean that the tolls collected did not pay for the bridge. That is just an accounting trick to say that toll money was spent on libraries.

        Likewise, if there is an MVET on motor vehicles and that money is given to Sound Transit to pay for trains, that does not mean that car owners paying that MVET were not paying to use roads. The MVET is a cost of using roads. What the revenue is spent on officially, is an accounting gimmick. It is revenue that would not be collected if people were not driving motor vehicles. What it says in some budget that that revenue is spent on is irrelevant.

        Whether or not you understand this is inconsequential. Your arguments are not just weak — they are nonexistent.

        I never spoke once about adding lanes. I wrote about adding buses to existing lanes, which greatly increases the capacity of those existing lanes.

      5. ” It does not matter where specific taxes and fees are officially “spent” in a budget. It only matters that all the revenues collected from motor vehicle taxes and fees is equal to or greater than the total spent on roads”

        I’m tempted to just leave this statement as it stands, but I’ll ask anyway…

        Why? Why does it matter [that taxes are] equal to or greater than the total spent on roads?

      6. If you are concerned whether car drivers are subsidized by non-car drivers, that is the relevant information: total taxes/fees etc. paid by motor vehicle owners/drivers compared to total amount spent on roads.

      7. I am a motor vehicle owner, actually two, I pay taxes on said vehicles.

        I don’t want all those taxes spent on roads.

        Are you saying that I am required to spend them on roads?

        By what decree?

        Put the plan together, and we can all vote on it.

      8. We do spent the money on all sorts of things. Unlike WA a portion of the federal gas tax goes to transit. Doesn’t really matter since almost exactly the same amount (imagine that) is added to the federal highway fund from the general fund. That’s the budgetary shell game. It lets transit advocates claim that roads are subsidized and the highway lobby to point out how much of the tax revenue generated by drivers goes to transit. The fact remains that the tax revenue generated by autos, part of the pot that government has to play with, exceeds the amount of money they spend on roads. It has to. Autos are one of the money makers which lets government spend on things that don’t, like transit, wars, public assistance, etc.

      9. “Tax money generated by autos… ” ???

        It still goes back to the idea that somehow because it was a tax generated by a sale that might be auto related, we therefore have some moral obligation to spend it on highways?

        Okay, since the plan seems to be to keep spouting the same thing to justify that point of view, you need to put some framework under it.

        If it is such a money maker (roads/autos) then either lay out a votable plan,

        OR

        Tell us how you would operate a “For Profit” highway!

        Just as the NEC is touted as a profitable passenger rail service, the NJ Turnpike and the Connecticut Tpke probably are the only highways that potentially meet that criteria, given the density of their location.

    4. Wait a minute…

      SR 99 has dedicated bus lanes that Swift takes advantage of. Who paid for those, Norman?

      1. More to the point what would have the capital cost of SWIFT have been had SR 99 needed to be widened for those two bus lanes with the associated property purchases and business displacements?

      2. No, you’re pointedly ignoring people who are bringing up costs you aren’t thinking about. This is why you’re losing the debate.

      3. What costs? SR99 did not need to be widened for SWIFT. Ergo, there was no cost for those bus lanes, other than some signs, and painting on the lanes.

        This is one reason why I am winning the debate.

      4. SWIFT did. But there aren’t really any dedicated bus lanes for SWIFT that I saw. Have you ever ridden SWIFT? Where are those lanes? The “queue-jump lanes” for SWIFT approaching intersections can be used for vehicles tunring right at the intersection. And, as far as I could tell, they are not new lanes. Only difference is that SWIFT buses can go straight through the intersection in those lanes, while all other vehicles must turn right. Really no capital expense involved. But, whatever cost there may have been was part of the capital cost for SWIFT.

      5. Uh Norman, you think it would be better to have cars make a right turn from one lane inside – just as a bus passes?

        Those lanes on SR 99 looks pretty contiguous to just be queue-jumpers. Can’t find a reference on the web, so I’ll double check where they start next time I drive back from Edmonds.

        The road around Aurora Village was completely rebuilt and includes bus lanes. Somebody paid for those extra lanes there.

      6. As far as I can tell, on 99 there was no new concrete poured for SWIFT. If there are “bus-only” lanes for part of the SWIFT route, all they did was paint “bus-only” in those lanes, and put up some signs. How much could that cost? The actual concrete or asphalt that SWIFT buses use was already there, I believe.

        Any new lanes which might have been built for SWIFT (and, like I said, I don’t believe there are any), around Aurora Village, or anywhere else, would be included in that $29.5 million capital cost for SWIFT.

        As far as the “queue-jumping” lanes for SWIFT — those lanes were already there, also. They were right-turn lanes for motor vehicles. The only thing that was done is that SWIFT buses are allowed to go straight through intersections from those lanes. That is all. That did not require pouring any concrete or building any new lanes.

      7. Everyone understands that since the gas tax collected on an uncongested arterial is not enough to pay for that arterial,

        and
        proponents of BRT either have to argue for those buses to be in the same congested lanes as the cars (for through travel),

        OR,

        in effect, Norman, and Mr. Niles are advocating for transit that actually subverts the intent of the 18th Amendment of the State Constitution since SOV’s can’t make use of that lane.

        Of course, that’s if you broadly interpret the intent as for the benefit of the car driving public, and not for benefit of transit users.

        Sneaky devils.

      8. This is just nonsense. Car owners pay far more taxes/fees than just the gas tas. Anyone who owns a car knows that. See my post above.

        What is usually done to create “bus-only” lanes in our area is to prohibit parking in the far-right lane, at least during peak hours. So, those new “bus-only” lanes were never general purpose lanes for the most part. They were parking lanes.

        For the large majority of the SWIFT route, SWIFT buses do just share lanes with the rest of the vehicles on that road.

        It sounds to me like you have never ridden a SWIFT bus.

        The major difference with SWIFT buses is that they have fewer stops, and much shorter dwell times than the other bus on that route. This has enabled SWIFT buses to travel the full route in 50 minutes, compared to the 70 minutes it took for the regular bus on that route, thus saving 20 minutes on that trip.

        Basically, riding SWIFT is just about as fast as driving a car on that route, instead of being 20 minutes slower than a car.

      9. And your point? Yes, SWIFT is an Express version of the bus service on that corridor, and will draw riders.

        Are you arguing that bus ridership growth doesn’t depend on the ability to travel faster than the adjacent traffic?

        Do you have any analysis on whether they came from other bus routes, or were pulled from their SOV’s? Probably not, on because it’s too early in the game for CT to bother surveying the riders as ST did for Sounder the year after it opened.

        Can’t make the “Look at all the auto related taxes I pay” argument. NOT ALLOWED.

      10. How many buses travel faster than adjacent traffic? Yet, Metro alone had about 400,000 boardings per day a year or so ago. How do you think those 400,000 trips per day would have been made if there were no buses? The vast majority of those trips were slower than they would have been in a car. Yet, all those people still took the bus.

        Of course people ride buses even though buses are slower than cars. Are you saying that is not true? Bus ridership grows as more service is provided. That has certainly been proven over the past decade.

        Sounder and Link (to the airport) are slower than driving your car also. What does that prove, in your opinion?

        Is there some point you were trying to make?

        So you decide what arguments are allowed and not allowed?

      11. Your argument is that SWIFT is superior. It remains reliable as a ‘swifter’ alternative to regular bus service only if it has the advantage of speed.

        It retains that advantage as long as it isn’t another ‘bus stuck in traffic’

        That’s it’s advantage, it’s reliability. That’s Sounder’s advantage, and that is Link’s advantage. RELIABILITY.

        Something you cannot guarantee when auto traffic is involved.

        “So you decide what arguments are allowed and not allowed?”

        I’m assuming you are referring to my “NOT ALLOWED” statement.

        Yes, since your argument is the same old tired argument, with no conclusion other than auto drivers deserve all the taxes they pay, regardless, and you aren’t willing to put forward your own plan, well… then what’s your point for making it?

        However, Tim Eyman actually tried to do that, with I-985, and it failed by 60%.

        Time for a fresh argument.

      12. SWIFT is 20 minutes faster than the bus route it replaced. That makes it superior, of course.

        This advantage does not exist because SWIFT does not “get stuck in traffic.” It exists because of fewer stops and much shorter dwell times, as well as a few stretches of “bus-only” lanes where SWIFT, indeed does not “get stuck in traffic” for just a few short stretches.

        But the main difference with SWIFT is fewer stops and shorter dwell times. That is why it is 20 minutes faster than the old bus route.

        My own plan for what? I don’t have any problems getting where I want to go. I don’t need any “plan.” So, what plan are you talking about?

      13. Your own plan for fairly funding highways, so that the users actually pay for the highway they drive on.

        But I guess you’re right when you say

        “My own plan for what? I don’t have any problems getting where I want to go. I don’t need any “plan.” ”

        That you have no problem with our highway system as it exists…

        Norman, WE AGREE !!

      14. REally? You agree with me that ST light rail is an unconscionable waste of money? Why didn’t you say so in the first place?

  8. alex: I would say that Westlake is number one, then SeaTac, Tukwila and International stations are the most-heavily used, not necessariy in that order. Those three are probably pretty close although SeaTac is probably behind the other two.

    Of the stations in the middle of the line, Beacon Hill is probably those most-heavily used.

    I am basing this on about 200 one-way trips I have taken on Link trains,while recording boardings and deboardings at each station. I don’t have any totals station-by-station, although I could do that, but just from skimming over my records, that is how it seems to me since SeaTac opened.

    1. I agree, that’s about what I’ve seen too. I’m just wondering when we might get data to find out what the real exact number of boardings at each station is.

  9. Nice quiet thread. Maybe most people are finally tiring of rehashing this stale debate on a monthly basis?

  10. So what happened to all the people that were using the 194? Instead of a bump of 4000 average daily ridership only increased by about a 1000.

    1. They’re all in a huge queue, waiting the board the next 194 at the south end of the terminal. The crowd is getting so large that FOX mistook it for a Tea Baggers rally.

    2. Not all of those boardings are at the airport. The 194 picked up passengers at three park & rides and a couple roadside bus stops. In theory, the 574 should have taken over a big chunk of those pickups. The problem is that frequency at these stops was actually reduced to a half hour, instead of the three or four stops each way per hour if you combine the old 194 and 574 schedule.

      Metro and ST should have looked at the 194 as a truncation, not an elimination. 194/574 should have at least maintained the same level of service between Federal Way and the airport, if not gained frequency to make up for losing the 194.

      I heartily encourage ST to look at upping frequency on the 574, so that total wait&travel time to downtown via 574+Link ends up being less than total wait&travel time on the old 194. Please don’t do anything wasteful like bringing back the 194, but please do provide service on the southern portion of the old route 194 that is at least as good as previous service, timewise.

      1. 194 from Federal Way to the Airport was always 30 minutes, and still is.

        But, Sound Transit is planning on increasing frequency to meet with demand.

      2. Are you referring to the frequency of the 574, since the 194 is no more?

        My point wasn’t about the frequency of the 194, but of the combined frequency of the 194 and 574.

        I take it that it is the 574 that will have its headway increased. Thanks for the good news!

    3. Yeah, Federal Way riders, more air travellers in January, and mainly that these numbers are noisy. Plus, the 4K ridership was for Spring last year and has probably been eaten into by Link opening and unemployment.

      1. Well, back in August Ben predicted a spike of 4,000 in February:

        2009-08-26 23:06:09
        when the 194 is gone ridership should go way up

        Comment by Ben Schiendelman
        2009-08-27 10:53:53
        I’d expect a February bump of 4000/day.

        And again in December:

        2009-12-16 16:53:41
        I think once the airport station is opened and the 194 is eliminated we will see big short-term gains for Link. The forced transfer and slower travel time make me usually opt for the bus when going to the airport.

        Comment by Ben Schiendelman
        2009-12-16 18:25:00
        Yes, it’ll be something like 3-4000 daily. And Metro fare increases won’t hurt either.

        To be fair there was one estimate in December of only 2000 but we saw less than half of even that. Creeping back to October levels can hardly be called a spike. The increased frequency of the 8 was supposed to boost ridership too. ST is running out of bullets as far as bus route changes. They’re going to need a silver one to double ridership by years end.

      2. I agree that several Link boosters, including Ben, have proven to be way too optimistic about short term ridership performance.

        I, too, am increasingly skeptical they’ll get to 26,000 by year’s end. I’ve also become conscious of the fact that ridership projections have evolved over time, so which one you choose to use really depends on the point you’re trying to make.

        I don’t have the 1996 figures on hand but I suspect they’re quite a bit higher than this, so if your angle is “the voters were lied to” that’s where you’d go. On the other hand, the 2009 SIP numbers are basically right on, so if your point is that “the models are broken” then the fact is that the models that had the most accurate information (about operating headways, employment, etc) actually did pretty well.

      3. The 26,600 riders per weekday prediction is for all of 2010, as far as I can tell — not for the “end of 2010.”

    4. Not to mention the expanded service on Route 577 and 578 probably accounts for a number of the 194 boardings also.

  11. I know most readers here discount the monthly ridership numbers as somewhat meaningless at this early stage. I would offer a diferent perspective of how important the monthly ridership numbers are, at least through June of 2011.
    ST 1, 2, and maybe even 3 depend upon healthy doses of FTA funding. ST1 Link got 500 million and signed a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA), which spells out a number of things, including ridership. (Joni Earl, 10/24/03) U-Link has been granted another large chunk.
    IF SOUND TRANSIT SIGNIFICANTLY UNDERPERFORMS THEIR CONTRACT WITH THE FTA IN EARLY PHASES, IT SETS THE STAGE FOR LIMITED FTA PARTICIPATION IN FUTURE PHASES.
    I see two major problems on the immediate horizon for ST.
    By contract, ST is to report a “Before and After” analysis of Central Link, for the first 24 months of operation, of which 8 are complete. ST estimated it would carry 42,500 weekday daily riders by 2020, of which 16,000 would be new riders. ST projected 19,800 in 2009, and 32,600 in 2010 (Central Link Operating Plan 7/29/08), gradually ramping up to the 2020 figure at about 3% growth per year.
    Current projections are only about half needed for 2010 or 2011 targets.
    AT CURRENT RATES, ST WILL BE FAR SHORT OF FTA PROMISED RIDERSHIP ESTIMATES, a point that prompted several letters from congress to the FTA administrator at the time.
    Part of the FTA required report for July of 2011 is a breakdown of corridor ridership for bus and rail, mode split, origin and destination data, and farebox revenue, which is only running at 11%, instead of the 40 to 53% level estimated.
    The second problem with low ridership perfomance is that it calls into question the ridership model being used. A fair question to ask is this: IF CENTRAL LINK IS ONLY RUNNING AT HALF THE RIDERSHIP PROJECTED, ARE THE PROJECTIONS FOR NORTH AND EASTLINK ALSO DOUBLE WHAT CAN BE EXPECTED?, in other words does the model need some serious calibration to actual data.
    You can discount the importance of ridership at this early stage, but I believe the FTA will be under tremendous pressure by other “New Start” applicants to send the federal dollars elsewhere. Just my opinion.

    1. I won’t make any predictions for East Link, but I strongly suspect U Link and North Link won’t have any problems meeting their ridership targets at least based on current bus ridership on Capitol Hill, U District, Roosevelt, and Northgate.

      1. I hope you’re right Chris, but when I analyzed the ridership data several months ago for Northlink (Northgate to DSTT) I could only come up with about 1/4 of the projected ridership. That included healthy truncation of all the corridor routes like the 41, 66, 70 series, 49 etc. and because the stations are so few and far between, background service is still requires. We saw how that works with the 42 and 8 along MLK.
        I found similiar problems coming up with ridership estimates for East Link, when looking for routes to feed the system. Saying you’re going to put all riders on Link coming from Eastgate and beyond, or expecting riders to transfer to Link going from Redmond/Kirkland to the U Dist is one thing, but in reality people vote with their feet. Buses to Seattle/N.Seattle are as quick as Link in many instances. Add in the transfer and wait for rail, even if fares are equalized, and you still face an uphill battle making the transition.
        Of greater concern is a point the FTA harped on over Central Link. That too few automobile trips were being converted to mass transit. Putting bus riders on trains is not what the FTA likes to do without some compelling reasons for saving operating costs. With Links farebox recovery running at less than half of Metro buses ratio, that only hurts local transit, requiring ever larger budgets to subsidize current levels of operation.
        Seattle may be smug about our shiny new rail system, but the rest of the country will surely cast stones at any future funding requests made, based on actual performance. THAT’S WHY THE NEXT 16 MONTHS ARE CRITICAL. Sometimes a ‘mid-course correction’ manuever is a wise decision.
        Losing federal support for Link, combined with sales tax revenue shortfalls would seriously hamper ST’s ability to deliver projects anywhere close to on time in the future – Northgate and Bellevue included. Stakeholders should be asking ST some really dificult questions right now, and demanding explainations that pass the giggle test.

      2. I’m sure the FTA understands, though, that ridership for transit as a whole in the nation is way down. The ridership estimates for this project were not based on having the biggest recession in decades.

      3. Mike. Dude. We aren’t missing ridership expectations. The FTA expected about what we’ve been getting.

      4. “That included healthy truncation of all the corridor routes like the 41, 66, 70 series, 49 etc. and because the stations are so few and far between, background service is still requires. We saw how that works with the 42 and 8 along MLK.”

        You’re treating express and local segments the same. Express segments that duplicate Link should be eliminated (41, 71/72/73, 66 Eastlake). Link is a superior express, and north Link will be faster than south Link. But local routes are needed all along the line (49, 70, 8). Maybe the 49 will be reconfigured, but some bus is needed on 10th Ave E.

        “Buses to Seattle/N.Seattle are as quick as Link in many instances. Add in the transfer and wait for rail, even if fares are equalized”

        Link uses less fuel and comes more frequently, especially in the off hours. Some obstinate bus riders may grumble and find some bus to take instead, but there’s not much you can do about people who insist on keeping their heads in the sand.

        “That too few automobile trips were being converted to mass transit. Putting bus riders on trains is not what the FTA likes to do without some compelling reasons for saving operating costs.”

        Which other rail system in the US (or world) converted more existing car drivers than bus riders? Everywhere, the highest-ridership bus routes are converted to rail to improve speed/frequency/economy, not only for the specific route but for the entire rail network. Some drivers switch to transit because of the increased convenience, but they don’t become the majority of riders (except at park n rides?). The FTA surely knows this.

        The long-term goal is to get the majority of all trips away from cars. (That’s not the same as the majority of drivers switching to transit.) As in DC, London, NYC. But that can only happen with a much larger transit infrastructure, several times larger than what we’re building now. So that all bus/train routes run every ten minutes until midnight, and comprehensive owl service every 1/2 hour. That’s what you’d need to get everybody out of their cars. But Link is a good investment in that direction, even if it isn’t fully realized for a few decades.

    2. I’m so angry…watching them build just two more stations…

      There’s thousands of cars south of that airport that need to be built to. There’s thousands more towards Lynnwood… They aren’t going to dramatically increase their numbers with these two stations being built now.

      They aren’t even working on the brooklyn/45th st. station to connect to the 44 bus from ballard. I mean, wtf?

      Why would I take the train if it doesn’t go anywhere and I don’t live in the Ranier Valley?

      1. Luke, the two stations we’re building now will more than double Link ridership, and they’re a more heavily used and congested corridor than any other.

        If you want them to build faster, quit whining and help us get funding. Sound Transit builds slowly because we give them money slowly.

    1. Check ridership reports for Seahawks home games. Or there were a couple-few Saturdays that had both Sounders and Mariners games.

  12. One benefit to me is the fact that Link runs on electricity instead of gasoline. It is much better for the environment and the operating costs should be much lower. Do we have any data on how much fuel/electricity is used between the various types of transit (bus, Link, Sounder)?

    1. One benefit to me is the fact that Link runs on electricity instead of gasoline.

      Why, do you own BNSF shares? The bulk of our marginal ability to meet electrical needs is from coal. Even Seattle City Light which is usually able to sell excess power to keep it’s rates down is scrambling this year because of the small snow pack.The idea that dams are environmentally friendly is pretty questionable. Overall WA uses fossil fuel to generate about 20% of it’s electricity, OR about 30%. Nation wide, and we are on the national grid, the numbers are even worse. Increased electrical use is directly proportional to mountain top mining. Electricity is great for reducing point source pollution in urban areas but it’s no free lunch.

      1. Seattle City Light’s fuel mix is 88.83% hydro, 5.68% nuclear, 3.43% wind, 1.38% coal and 0.58% NG and 0.10% other as of 2008. Regardless of what fuel source is used to produce electricity, large generating stations are more efficient at energy conversion than small internal combustion engines.

      2. Considering all of the environmental destruction caused in the name of getting our hands on more crude saying “don’t build electrically powered transit because of mountaintop removal coal mining” is pretty weak.

      3. First off, much of the new electricity generation comes from gas turbines (natural gas), not coal. However, the single largest new source of electricity in the USA last year was wind generation.

        Secondly, the “pollution relocation” argument has some merit, but is mostly hooey. Electrical power generation plants, are far more efficient than diesel vehicles, and the use of electricity instead of diesel fuel not only relocates some of the pollution, it also decreases its size. Also, Link trains move people much more efficiently than buses, thanks to steel wheel on rail technology, regenerative braking, and all the rest.

  13. There are plenty more opportunities to alter routes to reach Link stations.

    One such opportunity is the 132. It comes within about a mile of Tukwila International Boulevard Station, but then curves back to head 2-3 miles west to Burien TC before heading a couple miles east to Des Moines Memorial Drive and heading south again.

    Back in the day, Burien TC was the place to transfer in southwest King County. That was before Link opened. Now, TIBS is becoming the major transfer hangout for the area.

    The 132 would actually become a shorter route, and save Metro a little money on bus hours, if it went to TIBS instead of Burien TC, before heading south around the backside of the airport on Des Moines Memorial Way.

    But the much larger savings to Metro would be from having the 122 similarly re-routed to go to TIBS, where it would terminate instead of duplicate-heading downtown.

    Moreover, the newly-improved 122/132 would provide Normandy Park and downtown Des Moines their first one-seat ride to Link, even while reducing costs for Metro.

    As a South Parker, I already have another twisty neighborhood crawler (the 131) to get to Burien. Why do I need two scenic routes to Burien?

    So far, I’ve had trouble getting my county council member or anyone on Metro staff to even respond. Does anyone have suggestions as to who at Metro would listen, or if route improvements is something that only the county council does?

    1. If you sent a note to Metro planners they’ll file it away. They just got through redoing all that service and probably won’t reopen the discussion for at least a couple of years. Perhaps a comment now might plant a seed that one day could result in a change.

  14. I think it’s funny when people talk about “walking distance” to a station. As I’ve pointed out in past blogs, I’ve traveled to just about every major Asian city in the last 2 years and I commonly have to walk at least 2km (1.5 miles) to the nearest subway station from the hotel that I’m staying at and I don’t mind it at all. It appears the general population of those cities don’t either. Why, even most of them are much thinner than our heavier population as well!

    I live a mile from the Mount Baker LINK station, it’s even up a hill and all and I love it. It takes me 15 minutes to walk there, but I have lost weight because of it and feel a heck of a lot healthier now. People need to get out of this frame of mind that they need a station at their front door. If I didn’t want to walk the whole way, I could take the 14 or 39 which is only a few blocks each from my house.

    One last thing, speaking of taking multiple transportation modes and as I have pointed out before, it was rare that I didn’t take a bus and a few subway lines to get where I was going in Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing or Shanghai. This is common over there and people don’t mind. It’s cheaper and you avoid terrible traffic. Yes, there are crowds on the buses and trains, but oh well, at least you can get to where you’re going without an automobile. And I do that here in Seattle now!

    1. Ditto… I live .9 miles from South Bellevue and even though the 222 stops about 100 feet from my house, my wife and I frequently walk to the P&R instead of taking the 222 and transferring. Total travel time is about the same give or take 5 minutes depending on the time of day. If the bozos on Bellevue City Council are successful in pushing rail out to the B7 line I’ll be biking to Mercer Island a lot to access Link at just over 2 miles.

      I do wonder about the elderly and mobility challenged though. The “Milk run” routes like the 222 serve a lot of people who really can’t be expected to walk a mile to access the bus. A former neighbor of mine in her 80’s still does pretty well but I suspect the stairs between her home and SBPR are a problem.

      1. If ST picks B7 the 222 won’t go away and neither will South Bellevue P&R. The only downside might be that you lose the one seat ride into Seattle. Isn’t cycling 2 miles a lot less time than walking .9 miles? You’ve got a bike path most of the way and you’ll have less traffic to deal with on Bellevue Way. Not sure why you bring up the stairs; despite what you may have seen in the Link ad it really doesn’t enable people fly.

      2. If ST picks B7, I’ll finally be able to get a parking spot at South Bellevue, yay! Trouble is, I won’t be able to use South Bellevue to go anywhere I want to on a regular basis. More importantly, I’ll lose the 15 minute headways M-Sat that I currently enjoy. But this is just my selfish interest – I don’t believe South Bellevue station should be built just to serve me and my neighbors. I’m not really interested in the Park & Ride either. (I’d build a smaller and less expensive garage and charge for parking to keep spaces open)

        I look at SBPR, with it’s better freeway access from both 405 and I-90 as the best transfer point between buses coming from Factoria, Newcastle, North Renton, Issaquah, and beyond. It also offers a convenient location to truncate multiple existing bus routes so that bus service frequency can be increased or new routes created. By the designs I’ve seen, ST and Metro obviously have this in mind.

        I live here, bike here, use transit here, drive a car here, and drive multiple buses here. I know that passengers already transfer from the 222, 240, and 560. I know because I see them running for my bus every time I come through there and also had the experience of my 222 emptying out at SBPR every time I came from Factoria. If you put a rail station there, the transfers will only increase since the train will be a reliable and fast way to get to points east AND west. (Currently, it’s mainly linked to Bellevue and Seattle via the 550)

        Biking is a viable option in this area. I think there are many people who, with a little bit of nudging, could easily bike to South Bellevue, Wilburton, or Mercer Island to access Link. But Bellevue has a *LONG* way to go before cycling is comfortable and safe enough for the majority to do it.

        Maybe the 222/Link connection will work – it’s just the concept of riding a bus 12 minutes in the *wrong* direction through Bellevue traffic to access East Link that has me irritated. Frankly, I probably won’t do it. In 15 minutes I’d be at Mercer Island with my bike locked up, waiting for the train into Seattle. I have no idea what folks who ride the 222, 240, or 560 today will do. Will they stay on the bus the extra 5-15 minutes to ride Link back into Seattle? Your guess is as good as mine.

        I brought up the stairs in the context of “Milk Run” routes like the 222 that stop frequently. In my neighbor’s specific case, I’m pretty sure SBPR is actually a closer walk than the 222 stop she uses. However, for her the interference isn’t distance but a fairly long stair climb. The point in general though is that closely spaced routes like the 222 are needed by those with mobility issues. Those of us who can walk or ride longer distances will tend to prefer routes with stops spaced further apart, resulting in faster travel time.

    2. I had a friend from Ireland who said he never gained weight until he moved to the US, and it was because people don’t walk as far here. (I think the trans fats and corn syrup in our foods is also a factor.)

      But on the other hand, walking 15-20 minutes to a station gets to be a drag if you do it every day or more than once a day. For instance, if you’re carrying more than you can carry on one trip so you have to make two trips: that’s over an hour of your time lost.

    3. Americans have just gotten freaking lazy. I live two blocks from a station, and yet I have friends who have complained about walking from my house to the station, walking a block to the Thai restaurant from Mount Baker Station, walking the two blocks or a block and a half to Vince’s from Rainier Beach Station, etc.

      Visiting Europe really was an eye-opener for me. Yes, there are fat people there too — but I sure as heck didn’t see many, and most I saw were Americans or Canadians. The locals walked a lot and the cities I visited were quite livable and walkable. Truthfully, I was one of those lazy Americans until I got overseas and had a bit of a conversion, so to speak. Though I admit it took Link opening to really kick it into high gear for me, because now it’s just so danged easy to get around without a car.

      But Americans are both lazy and afraid. To the average American, walking is too hard, and cities are scary.

    4. You may be willing to walk 1 mile to a station or bus stop, but the majority of people will drive instead. Do you want to extol the virtues of walking more than ten minutes, or do you want to get them out of their cars? It’s an either/or choice.

      1. I’d vote for extolling the virtues of walking. Seems like a better use of time and energy than driving a mile to a P&R then driving 5 miles to the gym after work so they can get in 30 minutes on the treadmill. Besides, commuting just one mile is about the worst thing you can do to a car. There’s a good reason they tell you to run for at least 15 minutes before taking the car in for it’s emissions check. But the biggest reason is you’re making the assumption that the destination at the other end of the P&R is within a 10 minute walk. If that’s a deal breaker then you’ve lost half your potential riders.

      2. The treadmill is indoors. :)

        I know, boo hoo. But that could also be a factor, especially when choosing a mode of transit to and from work. Last thing you want after a tough day at work is a dark and stormy 15 minute walk home to continue to keep you grumpy as cars and trucks fly by causing wind gusts or splashing you from puddles.

      3. Yeah, I know I’d spend 5 minutes circling the lot at the gym to avoid having to spend any more time outdoors that necessary. I mean, you could catch cold and die!!!!

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