Issaquah Long-Range Plan (click to enlarge)

This is an open thread.

51 Replies to “News Roundup: Planning in Issaquah”

  1. In more news, Metro will start installing the automated stop announcement equipment beginning in August. init appears to be the vendor for the passenger-side of things, so the system will be somewhat similar to TransLink’s. However, the system will instead be interfacing with the DDUs currently in place rather than init’s DDU. Motorola is also installing a new 700 MHz TDMA radio system for everything to operate on. Another part of the new system, which involves installing APs at the bases will be IP based, however I don’t believe it will allow for on the fly data downloads, so you’ll still have to wait for pull-in before the ORCA reader gets new info.

    1. I hope they give drivers the option shut the automated system off and continue to do the announcements ourselves. Some of us have some fun with ADA announcements and add things like “Land of the lost and found” at 5th & Jackson or other fun embellishments. That said, most will be happy to have the system do the work so it will be welcome.

      1. One of the most frustrating things when riding in the new fleet of cars on the NYC subway is when the conductor overrides the perfectly legible, professionally-read announcements to deliver a rushed, garbled, or staticy mess of unintelligible goo.

        Obviously for safety and operational reasons there will need to be some way for the driver to address the coach. But I hope that anyone who overrides a functioning automated announcement to provide “embellishments” gets their butt handed to them.

      2. The system will supposedly have some pre-recorded “public service” announcements, and that’s a stupid name for them because the announcements are things like “Please move back so more people can fit on the bus” and “Have your money ready before you get to the front so you’re not fumbling when you get up here” (“Have your pet spayed or neutered” is a good public service announcement). Supposedly it’ll take a few key presses on the DDU to get to them, so I bet most operators won’t use them.

      3. The only thing that astounds me more than the consistent failure of Metro passengers to move to the rear of the bus is the consistent failure of Metro operators to tell people to move to the rear. As with stop announcements, these sorts of “public service” announcements should be automatic, not left to operator discretion.

      4. That’s something I’ve noticed on Link, too. The automated stop announcements are fine, but then the operator makes an announcement that is so quiet I can’t understand it. Does the microphone have a gain control?

      5. Worst yet – and something I really don’t understand – is how Tacoma Link operators say station names even though the automated voice does a waaaay better job. The operators always mumble and it sounds like a garbly mess. Why???

        The Sounder announcements always make me roll my eyes too. Especially when they name off all the stations on the line before leaving. Or when they say things like, “doors are closing, aaaaaaallllllllllllll aboard!!!!” right as the perfectly coherent “doors closing” announcement comes on.

      6. Does anyone know when Community Transit is going to start installing their equipment? They’re using Init too, so I imagine there’s a lot similarity.

      7. I didn’t know they were using init, but they don’t have any funding for it right now. I think 2011 would be the earliest start, and I don’t know if they have money set aside for it or not.

        Metro is at least a year behind on this project.

      8. I’m pretty sure it was a pre-budgeted capital expenditure and the union wanted them to cut it. CT refused, from what I’ve read. The project is ongoing…they’ve been working with init for a while. In fact the system should be in place on all the paratransit vehicles based on the last capital projects meeting I attended a couple of months ago.

      9. The drivers of Pierce Transit and PT-operated Sound Transit have no problem adding their own flavor to announcements without turning the system off. One driver just makes additional announcements after the automated ones.

        I don’t like how Pierce Transit implemented their system compared to Vancouver TransLink’s. There’s no distinctive tone before an announcement to catch your attention. The text scrolls only once and disappears. Which means if you missed it, it’s as good as nothing. And the “stop requested” text takes up the entire screen when it should be displaying what stop is being requested. Did I mention the text scrolls and the display has a low resolution and width.

    1. Thank you for sharing this article on the DJC! Next to LINK starting, the transportation related issue that I have been waiting for more than anything else is the complete refurbishing of King Street Station. This place will look AWESOME when it’s completed. This has been a long time coming. Can you imagine what the ID area will be like once KSS and the First Hill Streetcar are completed?

      1. Today a huge crane came and took the escalator away!!! Hopefully, the rest of the 1949 structure is soon to follow.

        Funny thing about that escalator addition: To look at it, it seems to have been the most expensive way to do the most cheapest thing. On the one hand, it was made out of brick. On the other hand, it was brutally ugly, exceedingly Soviet in its utilitarianism, and depended on the original 1912 canopy to serve as the roof.

        I’m not big on criticizing in hindsight – there’s undoubtedly a lot of boneheaded decisions that we are making each and every day, which will cause future generations untold grief and eye-rolling – but that whole escalator thing was just rinky-dink. What, indeed, were they thinking?

      2. And I think that drop roof in the main waiting area is a close second to a “what were they thinking” moment. I love reading the mid-60’s PI piece talking about modernizing the station. UGH! When that drop roof comes down, you will honestly see me celebrating.

      3. I hope the funds hold up to complete the removal of the drop ceiling. For years, I have advocated that they just pull it down and let the original, unrestored ceiling speak for itself. If the citizens could see the potential there, I think there would be many people willing to step up and donate funds to help restore it.

        Look at how they let people donate tiles to restore the market – they should be doing that here.

  2. I live near that new buffered bike lane on 130th. Beyond the initial “Dude, what happened to this road?” reaction, it appears not to have had much of an impact on drivers I’ve talked to about it. I am not bike person, nor do I know any bike people who live nearby, so I can’t comment on that. As a pedestrian, I’m looking forward to the installation of the pedestrian wait area thingy in the median–LOTS of people with kids/strollers go to Bitter Lake Park and have to cross that street, so pedestrian improvements are definitely welcome.

    Now if only they could get going on the Linden Ave. project…

  3. Correction on the Mariner’s Service!

    Today is the last day of Special Service. Tomorrow, Thursday, is a 12:40pm game, so there would be no special service anyway.

  4. The PSRC’s annual budget is about 22 million dollars, while ST’s is over 900 million, with over 60% of that going towards capital projects. Just saying…

  5. I know I’ve become a bit of a broken record about how much Seattle’s rail system, after all these years of waiting, is missing the chance to be an ultra-useful and multi-dimensional in-city system in exchange for a couple of minutes saved on trip times to the middle of nowhere as part of poorly integrated long-distance trips.

    But that PSRC / ST debate on ridership numbers reminds me of an important piece of evidence.

    By Sound Transit’s (higher) estimates, our rail system will eventually handly 310,000 trips per day (that measn 155,000 two-way riders, maximum). Strangely, they marketed ST2 with reminder that “our region is expected to grow by over 600,000 people” over the next couple of decades.

    I found it insane at the time, and insane now, to plan a system that wouldn’t even be useful enough to compensate for the expanded regional population (never mind those who are already here and might switch to transit if the transit were better.

    All of those who continue to think ST2 is adequate for hitting “the high points” in the region while ignoring all other connectivity (especially in-city, where people would switch to rail en masse if given useful rail to which to switch) need to think long and hard about the above numerical disconnect.

    1. I don’t know anyone who thinks ST2 is the end-all and be-all of transit expansion and improvement in this region. I don’t think any of the regular, non-insane, contributors to this blog believe that.

      1. Of course everyone here is aware of ST2’s failures to do much for urban Seattle.

        But I’ve had many interactions over the past couple of days with those who think each line, taken separately, is as comprehensive as it needs to be for the corridor it serves.

        The ridership estimates show otherwise.

        Each of these lines, if better designed, could capture a huge share of bi-directional (origin and destination) traffic for the given corridors. As planned, they’ll capture only the tiny percentage of trips that mesh perfectly with the “select” station locations.

        Again, the numbers show this to be the wrong planning decision.

      2. Discussed on about eight different threads.

        Short recap:

        1) As close and with as much regularity as finances would allow. Not closer than 20 blocks (10 in super-dense areas). But always closer than the 2-miles we’re stuck with in most of the plans.

        2) Wherever the routes pass through existing urban continuum, there are potential users. Even in medium-density areas. Super-dense developments are not the be-all-and-end-all, so you shouldn’t make a point of bypassing everyone and everything in between.

        Also, in my view, servicing existing demand satisfies a greater variety of potential trips than any route designed to foster tabula-rasa development ever will (since new Seattle developments tend to have less myriad uses — residential, cell-phone store, dry cleaner, little else).

      3. Don’t be such a Debbie Downer! ST2 gives us 2 light rail lines that are just the beginning of a more comprehensive rail system. There are plans in the works for a westside Seattle line, an east-west line in North Seattle and an east-west line between Burien and Renton. And who knows what after that. Even if nothing were built after ST2, and if Sound Transit’s numbers are right, we’d have the busiest light rail system in the country, and the sixth or seventh busiest rail system overall. Personally, just these 2 lines will cover 95% of the transit trips that I make on a regular basis.

        I think you’re hanging a lot of weight on one light rail line. I understand your anxiousness to have a more comprehensive system, I’d like it too, but these things take time. Boston’s Tremont Street Subway wasn’t built overnight, the various tunnels and stations that make it up were built over a period of some sixty years. In New York they’re still trying to figure out how to build the 2nd Avenue Subway after 70 years of talking about it. Even Portland’s meager system took 26 years to build, even with free, pre-built ROW provided by the Feds.

        I think that if things keep going the way they are, we’ll see a big acceleration in the rate at which we build transit in this region in the next ten years. Just hang in there.

      4. Well said! And if ST3 and ST4 are voted upon and approved in the next 20 years, once built we could have one of the more modern and vast light rail systems in the county complimented by commuter rail, streetcars, buses and ferries. And yes, in due time, ridership on this system could be right up there with the heavyweights (NYC, DC and Boston).

      5. Zed,

        The debates I’ve been having here over the last few days most involved the (unfortunate and depressing — and I don’t actually relish being “Debbie Downer”) inadequacy of the current lines, as designed. I can only expect that, with Seattle’s slow learning curve on transit issues, ST3 and ST4 will contain lines of equally inadequate design and scope.

        The perfect analogue just occurred to me (I may have to start inserting this example whenever this debate arises, so I’m sorry if I start to get repetitive):

        Even BART, which is a regional rather than urban transit system in every possible way, had the good sense to build two stops in the Mission — even though it’s not downtown, both stops aren’t “primary regional destinations.” As a result, an entire large San Francisco neighborhood — from Church to the 101, from the Central Freeway to Bernal Heights — is within BART+walking reach of the entire region, no transfer required.

        I swear that Sound Transit — and many here — would have argued for one stop in the Mission, and claimed that people should just “switch to buses” for the rest of their journey (even within the neighborhood).

        Option A (what BART did) simply works better and appeals to more travellers than Option B (what Seattle would do), even though it had a higher capital cost and costs through-travellers a negligible extra few seconds!!

    2. It seems quite sane to me to build part of something you need. We’re going to build a lot more transit in the next couple of decades. ST2 is just a good step in that direction.

      The issue is that voters won’t accept a 1% increase in sales tax – you can model that on a napkin. They’ll accept .5% this time. Next time it’ll be something else.

      You could have leveled these same criticisms of Sound Move, but look, we passed ST2. Then there will be ST3, and ST4, and so on. The key is to fight to get them sooner.

      1. And to make sure that any city built infrastructure meshes well with the future system.

  6. An important take away from the Issaquah article is that part of the stated motivation is as leverage to gain access to high capacity transit.

    “This plans says to Sound Transit, that if you bring Sound Transit out to Issaquah, we are set up to feed it in a rational way,” he said.”

    Yet another failure of Link. Making cities go all green and pro density.

    1. Although this does show one big failure of Link: so many people think it is “the Sound Transit” and don’t even seem to realize that Sound Transit is a large transit agency the runs two light rail lines, two commuter rail lines, and a lot of bus routes.

  7. Metro is a joke. I wish they grew some balls and actually decided to cut most of the initially proposed stops on the 3/4. My stop was on the cutting board and I was surprised to see they reversed their decision for most of the stops in QA. I know someone said it before here – it apparently only takes one… ONE person to complain and Metro bends over backwards to accommodate them. For crying out loud, you’d only have to walk, at most, 2 extra blocks to get to your bus stop.

    1. apparently my tags didn’t keep… This was just me venting. Move along now :)

    2. I’d agree with you on that. Metro had a chance to greatly improve service in Southeast Seattle by completely redesigning routes there to increase east-west mobility and shift north-south trips to Link, but they botched it by kowtowing to the handful of people who have time to show up at the public meetings and whine about the changes. It seems that a lot of the time intelligent transit design comes last and pacifying little old ladies comes first at Metro. :-)

      1. While I’m on a venting rampage today – what was up with the protest downtown on 2nd Ave near the Federal Building?

        Serious question – What are the rules and regulations regarding protests, especially those that occur in the street?

        I understand they wanted to be visible, but every cop I asked had no idea what was going on – only that they knew that they were called in to help direct traffic. To me, this protest was planned by the organizers to be as disruptive as possible, but not with the city.

        This, in my opinion, is unacceptable. Cars can easily reroute, but buses cannot. The protest caused a huge disruption in transit services and I highly doubt those that were affected by this service outage will be supporting those who were protesting. Heck, they are almost or just as bad as Critical Mass in getting their message across. Making people upset about their commute home is not the way to gain support.

        If there is an ordinance in regards to protests and how disruptive they can be, the SPD did a horrible job in addressing the situation by actually letting the protest continue in the streets.

        END VENT

      2. They had a permit to use the plaza at the federal building both yesterday and today. I don’t know if they also had a parade permit, but I know that this same group staged a large (and if I remember right, disruptive) protest last year. So, assuming all the government agencies communicated effectively about the event (LOL), then the city and Metro should have been able to prepare for disruption to the evening commute.

        I think the group was trying to get as much media coverage as possible, even if that made some commuters angry. The news helicopters circling the area demonstrate that they met their goal.

      3. What can we do to get some people with balls in charge of Metro?

        When you elect a County govt interested in ignoring public input.

      4. Martin, don’t get me wrong. I applaud that Seattle even takes public input, but it’s to a fault. In a situation like this, the only people to come out or make any comments are those who are feverishly against it.

        While I have no numbers (I’m actually awaiting a response from Metro, but as with all my other inquiries, I’m sure I won’t get one), I am currently under the assumption that Metro decided to listen to a minority and reverse their initial plans.

        So, what would you rather, Martin? Take feedback from the “community”, which may not be an accurate representation of the whole, and continue to have poor performing service on routes, or actually take a risk, make the proposed changes and see what happens? Even in the case of Metro growing a big pair and removing stops doesn’t mean that they can’t check the numbers a few months down the road and reverse their plan.

        Remember, buses are flexible and stops can be added and removed at any time. To me, removing the stops and checking the numbers would be well worth the risk as you can always go back to how it was.

      5. So it looks like a total of 50 people made comments about the stops, 37 of which were about two stops that the Metro decided to reverse its decision on. I hardly call this a majority.

      6. Although more expensive, perhaps merging stops would be a compromise that Metro could use against opposition such as this, assuming there is some legitimate pressure being put against them.

      1. Just got a response back from Metro – only two stops are being reversed and the rest are moving forward. I thought it was more than just two stops being reversed.

        Anyway, Taylor and Galer/Garfield and Cherry and 33/34 are the two stops that were reversed.

  8. During the Trolley open house I asked Jim Jacobson about the revival of the WFSC and he said that there are two things preventing it:

    1) the viaduct construction
    2) the first avenue line

    I asked what would happen to the old cars and he said they found someone willing to lease them.

    1. It’s really sad that the elitist Seattle Art Museum was allowed to destroy the trolley line without being made to be responsible for the maintenance building. Frankly they could have incorporated a maintenance building into the bridge they built over the railroad. We would have ten more years of the trolley running, keeping an amenity for tourists and excursionists which made the waterfront more attractive and accessible.

      Jacobson’s solution is they leased them? How does that do much good for Seattle?

  9. Instead of buffering the bike lane with more pavement, why aren’t we installing something that serves as a REAL buffer, like landscaping?

    The more ROW we give to bikes, the less we have for things like street trees and vegetation that can help with traffic calming, pollution, and storm water retention. I wish tranportation engineers would open their eyes to options other than just more pavement.

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