This is an open thread.

64 Replies to “News Roundup: 82% of U.S. Wants More Transit”

  1. I’m loving the bus bulbs. Now they just need to do some stop consolidation for the 44.

    1. A bus bulb was recently built for the stop I use to transfer to the 511. While it was nice how the bus isn’t forced to merge back into traffic, what I really liked was the addition of two shelters. There weren’t any shelters prior.

    2. I heard the 54 will be getting some bus bulbs in West Seattle, too. Can’t wait. It will really help when entering traffic from a stop on Fauntleroy Way, after the ferry has just unloaded. Also, people on California Ave never seem to let you in either. Many times, on many differnet routes and streets, I will just swing the front door over the curb and leave my rear end in the lane to block traffic, because you may have a hard time getting back out.

      I haven’t driven the 44 in a while, but I would assume people would still be passing the bus in either the oncoming lane or left turn lanes with these bus bulbs. Which becomes more dangerous after you start moving and they cut you off trying to come back into your lane after the pass. Anyway, I still think its a great thing. Should be adding bulbs more places to speed up transit. The qwuicker the ride, the more people we may attract.

      1. At several locations along 45th (e.g. at Corliss and at westbound Woodlawn) when they installed the bus bulbs they also installed islands in the center turn lane to prevent drivers from attempting to pass. Of course, since such islands can interfere with legitimate turn-lane usage, they can’t install them for every stop. But at least they seem to be installing them when they’re feasible.

      2. Casey, that should come as part of the implementation of the Rapid Ride route through there…

      1. So, after catching up on my evening news programs it looks like the oil drilling story, including the photo op in front of the F-18 Hornet is for real. April Fools on me.

      2. Increased drilling is neutral policy that is part of a very beneficial one. While we need to move away from fossil fuels into renewables and more nukes ASAP (which hopefully this will help do) it will not be easy or quick. We are going to be using oil to some extent for quite a while. Better to have access to it than not, especially if there is a huge spike down the road.

  2. I have a question: why not build more commuter rail stations along the existing sounder line?

    1. I have an answer: We don’t have the demand yet. There are precious few people on Sounder North already, and that won’t change until Mukilteo and Edmonds get integrated ferry terminals. We don’t want to slow down the existing commuters.

      Where would you like to see a station, specifically? That would help me answer.

      1. Broad Street and Ballard. Broad Street because the north end of downtown really lacks connections to the big regional transit systems except for slow buses that travel on 3rd. Ballard seems obvious. Crappy commute on 15th + space at Golden Gardens for a station = money. The south line is nearly perfect except for the missing mile.

        The new Edmonds Station is coming in the next year.

      2. Broad Street is a big issue – Sounder trains would then have to turn around and go south again.

        Ballard would be obvious if the train showed any sign of increased demand – but it doesn’t. The same amount of money spent elsewhere will get you more passengers.

      3. I don’t know if really all that many people work in Ballard, and the people I know who live there and work Downtown have pretty zippy bus commutes.

      4. “We don’t have the demand yet.”

        Demand comes with convenience. The Sounder currently is in no way “convenient”. It has to share the tracks with Amtrak and Freight stopping at a few stations a couple times a day. It’s easy to see why the demand is low… it’s nothing near what you’ll see in Japan or Europe’s infamously convenient rail systems.

        Here’s my point. If it is convenient, then you will see demand, but the Sounder is in no way useful except for those living within walking distance.

      5. Bingo. Sounder is useful but not yet convenient because of the limited operation. I would love to use it to get to and from Tacoma or Everett occasionally, but the schedule of it is useless for me. Expand the schedule, and I would ride it.

      6. Right, so should we spend a billion dollars making Sounder more convenient, or should we build it on significant light rail expansion?

      7. I agree that Broad Street and Ballard would be good stations, Broad Street serving North Downtown and Ballard serving the Shilshole area which is currently ridiculously underserved by transit. The other one that they should consider is a Point Wells Station, possibly paid for by the developer. That development could bring thousands of new people to an area that currently just has a two-lane road going to it, so they’ll need a station there to take some of the load off the streets.

      8. Two questions:

        1) With subarea equity, how would North King pay for the operational cost of Sounder go serve those stops?

        2) What type of demand does Shilshole have for people from Snohomish County from 6:30 am to 8:00 am?

    2. The whole Sounder North thing is never going to make a major contribution to regional mobility because the tracks are on the shore while the bulk of people live near 99. It works for a small number of people who live right in downtown Edmonds and Mukilteo, but it’s not worth expanding. As for a Ballard station, Edmonds’ center is right near the station; Ballard’s center is not.

  3. Hard to really say it’s “UW to blame” 100%. Last year it was rolled in free with metro and this year it’s been split out and would cost more to include. Note for at least a few months it also won’t be covered under the Flex Pass I have from work as far as I know as well (which is annoying but presumably will change when the current passes expire and we’re presumably moved to Orca).

      1. Yeah, since it’s not covered under the FlexPass. They told UW it’d be extra, and when Metro was operating it Metro gave it to the UW for no charge under the FlexPass.

  4. Is 82% of people wanting transit surprising? The other findings are (most people want more transit than highways), but if you say something good, and say “do you want more?” I think most people would say yes. I bet 82% of Seattlites want an NBA team, but few would pay for it.

    1. We are going to have to pay for either roads or transit, might as well put that money into transit.

      1. I think what he’s trying to get at is how many people see transit as something for someone ELSE to use. They want to get the reduced congestion benefit of others using transit so their SOV commute is quicker.

      2. That’s funny, but I think if you look at the David Brooks column, it shows that a lot of people really want an easier commute.

    2. All these people said that they want transit but have none, but I feel like a lot of people think that the transit around them that they’ve never ridden is way worse than it is.

      1. I was really surprised how nice the ST Expresses were the first time I rode one just to try it. Now I take it to work a few times a week.

  5. The last mapping of the deep bore tunnel didn’t have it running under Alaskan Way for so long, but had it going directly to the Battery Street tunnel entrance. These people really haven’t designed this project yet.

    1. Nope. I don’t understand why it’s making so many turns. What does it want to miss? It seems like a straight shot would be more logical and cheaper.

      The other thing I noticed from the video is that they’re putting 38′ of clearance between themselves and the 11′ diameter sewer line under 2nd ave, which means any light rail tunnel under 2nd ave would have to be below the sewer AND the DBT, or shoot a 38′ gap (something i doubt anyone wants to do).

      The video sure is interesting with all the underground stuff in Seattle mapped. I’d be interested to see an interactive map of all that stuff.

      1. I’m not sure if I agree. The DSTT passes 4′ under the Great Northern tunnel. 38′ should be plenty.

      2. A straight shot would collapse buildings. It’s moving because it creates stresses on historic structures.

  6. This is a quote the article about Highways reducing population reminded me of. From the book This Place on Earth, by Alan Thein Durning.
    “It was almost too late before the Northwesterners realized that putting a freeway through your city to improve transportation is like putting a hole through your heart to improve circulation.”

  7. “Highways reduce the population of cities.”

    I agree. I hate it when the DOT’s only response to traffic is by adding more roads and lanes. BUT, I need some back-up responses to why Houston and LA have such a large population when they worship their cars and 18-lane highways.

    1. I think that’s just how you draw your boundry lines. LA is huge by area, and the dense part has had subways for a long time (well, until it didn’t but it does again now). I believe the sprawled mess outside the dense part happened along with freeways.

    2. I’m curious how the study counted freeways. Looking at Houston, for example, there are two major interstates (10 and 45), two ring roads (I-610 and the Sam Houston Tollway), US 59, and a bunch of spurs. So that’s anywhere from 3-5 major freeways (I’m not sure if ring roads count for this theory) plus lots of freeway sections.

      On the other hand, the metro area has 5.9 million people compared to 2.2 million for the city, so at a rate of 18% per freeway you go from 5.9 to 2.2 in 5 steps. If the theory is that without freeways all 5.9 million people would live inside the city limits, then Houston fits the theory.

      Dallas/Fort Worth has Interstates 20, 30, 35, and 45. US-75 and 67 might be counted as a 5th freeway, and there are some smaller connecting highways or splits in the interstates that make it hard to get an authoritative count. But with an in-city population of 1.2 million in Dallas and 700K in Fort Worth compared to a metro population of 6.3 million, and you can accommodate a similar 18% drop per freeway by assuming almost all those people would live just within the two major city limits if the freeways weren’t there. So it fits with the theory.

      1. Doing this same math for Seattle:

        Population of Seattle: 602,000
        Population of Tacoma: 197,000
        Population of Everett: 103,000
        Total current population of pre-freeway urban centers: 902,000
        Total population of Seattle metro area: 3.4 million
        Number of 18% drops from 3.4 million to 902,000: about 6.5
        Number of freeways: 6-7 (5, 405, 90, 520, 167, 512, 18)

        Again, you can quibble about how to count freeways (notice I didn’t count 16 because it ends in Bremerton which is not in the metro area, and arguably 405, 167, and 512 make one corridor with different numbers, and 520 is pretty short but does connect a city with a major suburb, etc.) Still, it fits the theory pretty closely. If you just look at Seattle’s population and freeways it doesn’t really match up.

        I do wonder if this sort of thing isn’t really measuring a correlation that doesn’t necessarily point to freeways as a cause.

      2. It’s still not clear how the number was derived but if it assumes all population that is in the suburbs would somehow have squeezed into the original metro area then I think it’s seriously flawed. As the author pointed out people and business move to the suburbs because of cheaper land and even with the suburban boom in city remains more expensive. A lot of the jobs just wouldn’t exist if the costs were not only current in city levels but much much higher.

        Seattle 91.6 square miles
        Everett 47.6
        Tacoma 62.6

        3.4 million in 201.8 sq miles is 16,850 people per square mile. That’s on par with NY at 17,837. You’d get different numbers if you exclude water but still I just don’t think it’s even remotely reasonable to assume that Seattle, Everett and Tacoma would have reached these densities if we’d simply not built freeways.

      3. 3.4M is for the metro area, whereas the 201.8 sq mi is for the cities alone. The population for the cities is 902,000, or less than 4500 people per square mile, or a quarter the density you give for NY.

      4. I think the point that Bernie was trying to make is that if we rounded up every one from the greater Seattle area and put them in the city limits of Seattle, Everett and Tacoma you would have a population density of 16,850.

        I am highly skeptical if living in the suburbs is truly cheaper. It might seem like it is cheaper at first but in the long run with more commuting and less walking I think it is about the same or cheaper to live in the city.

      5. Yes, exactly. If the claim is based on suburban growth is “stolen” from the city then you have to look at what the “city” would be like with the growth that was presumably “lost”. Once again, I can’t find any actual data on how this claim of 18% reduction is accounted for. Maybe there’s data that shows cities have actually shrunk 18%. Certainly some have but I’m thinking of examples like Pittsburg where it was the loss of the domestic steel industry and not road construction that lead to the decline. On a local case we have Tacoma where jobs were lost in the aluminum, copper and pulp industry. None of that was related to building freeways.

        Moving to outlying areas is cheaper. The Safeway distribution plant that is the centerpiece of the Bel-Red Spring District was abandon in favor of moving operations out to Kent. It would certainly seem that keeping the distribution center close to where your major markets are would be more efficient but cost wise the land prices forced Safeway to move. It would also seem that from an efficiency standpoint the rail line that was the basis for the light industrial district forming in Bellevue in the first place would remain in place but the land values say condo/office space.

        As the article pointed out and the Puget Sound has proven; originally the suburbs were bedroom communities but over time jobs moved to the suburbs so you no longer have the cost of commuting into the city. It’s the Capital Hill to Redmond commute that starts to look expensive.

      6. originally the suburbs were bedroom communities but over time jobs moved to the suburbs so you no longer have the cost of commuting into the city.

        This maybe the case that there are starting to be more jobs in the suburbs but the are have met many people that commute from the likes of Sammamish, Issaquah etc into downtown Seattle. Even if you jobs is close to your house in the suburbs I am still a little skeptical on weather it’s cheaper to live on lets say on Capital hill and work in downtown. On Capital hill it is very likely that you don’t need/have a car(s). Whereas in the suburbs you will need a car because of the neighborhoods are a lot of times unwalkable due to low density.

      7. Had reason to venture into the big city today. Picked up something around 62nd and Roosevelt. To get back to I-5 I went over to Latona yeah, I’m hopeless in the city). On 65th it was a cool little grouping of low rise buildings (two story) that had pedestrian access and a tavern. Between 65th and 50th though, everything visible east and west…. nothing. More people on foot at that time of day (7:30PM PDT) on 132nd/134th in Belleve. I just can’t see this neighborhood walking to the grocery store. On the other hand I see all sorts of people walking back across the awefull 148th st overpass in Bellevue with groceries from Overlake to their apartments.

        Personally I used to live out in Woodinville. It was 10 miles into my job in Redmond but 6 of it was on the bike trail. We bought the family property in Bellevue and the commute became 3 miles. The company moved to Kirkland and now it’s 7 miles. After graduating from the UW I went to Shoreline to get machinist training. All the while paying for it thanks to a job out on Rose Hill in Kirkland. Living in the suburbs has always been closer to work. Not leaving the land here in Bellevue even if I do have to commute but I’m thinking a comarable 1 acre lot in city would cost a hell of a lot more (and this dirt ain’t cheap).

      8. Latona was just starting to develop when the streetcars were ripped out.

      9. I was wondering that too about the 18%, does that mean Los Angeles’ population should be zero now?

        A lot of things would have been different if I-5, 520, and I-90 hadn’t been built. There would have still been 99 and the Mercer Island Bridge. But there still would have been freeways around the cities like in Vancouver. I guess I-5 would have been located somewhere around Sammamish (405 is too close to downtown Bellevue).

        When the freeways first opened, people didn’t know what to do with them, because few people lived and worked where a freeway drive would be beneficial. It took ten years for the freeways to fill up.

        The population of Pugetopolis would have grown anyway, assuming the big northwest companies grew as they did. Microsoft would have built a more compact and more close-in headquarters. I don’t think Seattle/Tacoma/Everett would have been big enough for the population, so Bellevue and Burien would have grown into sizeable towns. (The Kent valley might still be farmland or taken for industry, but Southcenter would be in Burien where it was going to be until the freeways.) Transit investments would have been presumably at European and Canadian levels, so there would be rapid transit to Bellevue. (The Eastside couldn’t otherwise grow with just the 4-lane bridge and ferries to it.)

        But… I-5 would have had to go somewhere. It’s nice to think that Pugetopolis would have grown like Vancouver, where the Trans-Canada highway skirts the edge but most people use the six-lane boulevards like Kingsway, it’s hard to see how I-5 near Sammamish wouldn’t have attracted sprawl anyway. Maybe not as much, but how could people turn down building at the cheap land around those exits?

      10. You think the day will ever come when 405 is turned into I5 and I5 is just taken out?

      11. I-5 is at the end of its life; it’s going to need major repairs soon. If these are deferred, it will deteriorate like 99 and eventually need a more serious overhaul. Nobody has proposed how to do the sections that are most landlocked (i.e., around downtown), or whether two or more lanes will have to be closed during construction, or how to widen it (as has sometimes been suggested). Widening would involve cutting into the hillside or taking out a swath of office buildings and peripheral roads.

        So if I-5 is left to deteriorate, and especially if car use goes down in the coming decades, there might be a time when I-5 can be retired or downsized.

        I never thought much about the neighborhood-destroying effects of I-5; it has been here longer than I have. But living next to the freeway noise now, and the proposal for a streetcar around Harrison Street (which would require a new bridge over I-5), has got me thinking about it. Many of the Summit area buildings were built in the 1920s, and my neighbor has lived around there since the 1950s (although not continuously). She says the area was full of middle-class families with children. (In a dense apartment district!) The noise must have built up gradually as the freeway became more used. Long-time residents must have moved away in disgust that they could no longer sit on their balconies without the 24-hour roar.

  8. the Kitsap article starts to point out some of the issues with the ORCA system, especally with regards to cash fares. Also in regards to the ferries, I’ve noticed that theres been some confusion in distingusihing the card, vs whats loaded onto it. E.G. I have an orca card so why doesent it work in xyz way. Does the KCFD take ORCA, and if so what products? Finally, i had the oppertunity to use Sounder last week to come home from seattle, and I noticed at both the DSTT and King St Station, ST needs to install more ORCA pylons. The 2 they seem to install are either out of the way of travel, or are too few for a hundred plus commuters to use at once…

  9. anyone know if tomorrow (good friday) is a holiday schedule for buses? the king county metro website is terrible and useless.

    1. I would not think that KCM would be celebrating or observing such a “holy”-day. Only X-mas is a holiday for both christians and the state/feds.

      1. Good, no holiday schedule on Friday but they will be running a Sunday schedule this Easter :=

    1. I was down in San Diego last week and rode their trolley system for the first time. I liked it a lot. I especially loved the trolley/amtrak connection at the beautiful Santa Fe station.

    2. The 150 is the only way to get to Kent in the reverse-peak or midday/evening. It takes an hour, which is inordinately long, but there’s no other choice for now. (Except the 180. I haven’t tried the Link-180 connection yet, but that side of the 180 stops at 7:30pm. Which reminds me, I’ve been meaning to try that route.)

Comments are closed.