McGraw_Square_pedestrian_plaza 068
McGraw Plaza, Photo by Allie Gerlach, SDOT

This is an open thread.

28 Replies to “News Roundup: A Streetcar Plaza”

  1. My wife was annoyed at me and us transit types for increasing parking rates downtown, because now if we need to drive in to work for only a few hours it costs a lot more (they bumped up the price in front of her work last week, costing her $8 instead of $5 – lots nearby charge $6 for 2 hours).

    But that’s the point, right? We move to a lot, and that street spot is available to someone that’s shopping. Warehousing cars for office workers is a terrible use of street space.

    1. What? You mean that the city is actually charging ABOVE “market rate” for parking in that area? I thought the idea was to charge “market rate”, not $1 per hour more than market rate. Could it be that this is not really about “letting the market set the rate”? It might just be about gouging motorists to generate more revenue for the city?

      I’m happy to hear that you now park in a private lot, and that the city no longer gets any revenue from you.

      So, is it working so far? Are there 2 empty onstreet parking spots on that block at all times now, at $4 per hour?

      1. [ad hom]

        Any person walking around the market in summer will note the packed private lots charging $14/hr PLUS city taxes. Elsewhere and at other times of year, the going rate is more like $8/hr. So no, Norman, at least for that part of downtown, the city is leaving cash on the table at $4/hr (and they’re getting 20% of the the private lot’s money in taxes anyway — hate to burst your little bubble on that one too.)

        But of course, none of your posts are really about facts. You’re just standing on the tracks, throwing a little tizzy and making everyone look at you, until you get run over by progress.

      2. We work near the cheapest parking in downtown.

        I haven’t noticed free spots open yet – but I’m sure they’ll come (our once or twice a month for a few hour parking spot will be free, and I’m sure we aren’t alone).

        “It might just be about gouging motorists to generate more revenue for the city?” “and that the city no longer gets any revenue from you”

        (sigh) Can you at least try to make coherent arguments?

      3. If you aren’t parking on the street — you are parking in a private lot instead — then the city is no longer getting the money you pay to park, now is it? You were paying the city $5 for 2 hours to park on the street. Now you are paying a private lot $6 for 2 hours to park in that lot.

        If the city is charging $8 for 2 hours, and the private lot is $6 for 2 hours — which is what you wrote — then the city is gouging people to park on the street.

        My arguments are coherent.

        By the way, Bruce, what part of downtown is Matt talking about? It doesn’t say in his post, does it? So, how do you know? And where are the lots which charge $14 per hour in Seattle?

      4. “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.”

        Of course if the city really is charging too much, then people will park in private lots. And then nobody’s “gouging”. Price gouging implies a complete control over a market. The fact that people are parking in private lots is proof that no gouging is occuring.

        Perhaps you mean “charging more than I want them to charge”, which is different.

      5. 1st & Stewart (in the summer; it’s $10/hr currently). I used to live in an apartment overlooking that lot. It was >50% all day every day and at capacity on weekends.

  2. Amtrak service between Portland and Seattle has been disrupted since Saturday:
    http://www.columbian.com/news/2011/feb/14/rail-traffic-remains-halted-following-landslide/

    Amtrak released a press release with January ridership numbers. While ridership numbers were up nationwide over January 2010, ridership on Amtrak Cascades was down 3.9%. could this be due to the numerous disruptions of service during January?
    Record January Marks 15 Straight Months of Ridership Growth

  3. I’m confused by Mercer Island’s position in the SDEIS comment summary.

    Mercer Island is interested in preserving the historical use of the HOV lanes for Mercer Island single‐occupancy vehicles in accordance with the 1976 Memorandum of Agreement.

    I thought the MoA made it clear that the express lanes were built for the express purpose of rapid transit. Is the City of Mercer Island’s position available somewhere?

      1. Okay, but how can an HOV lane be designed for SOVs? Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?

        Perhaps it’s just poorly phrased, and the author was just trying to differentiate transit vehicles from personal vehicles?

      2. HAven’t Mercer Islanders always been allowed in the Express Lanes even if they are SOVs?
        Isn’t that what they are seeking to maintain?

  4. Also worth noting that Florida’s Republican Governor killed a fully-funded high speed rail line this morning. Said HSR line had many private companies (Central Japanese Rail, SNCF/Alston, Bombardier, Siemens, DB, and many more) jumping up and down to become part of the action. Some of that $2 billion may be coming to Washington State very soon, as what happened when the Republicans Governors of Wisconsin and Ohio cancelled their train projects. Maybe a good day for Washington, certainly a bad day for Florida.

      1. The larger question, what HAS been done with the money we were supposed to have received? Did the $ ever arrive in Olympia?? What’s Pavement Paula and the Rail Office been doing???

      2. Hell, if we’re in line for a chunk of that Florida money I’m sure we can come up with something fun.

      3. ” what HAS been done with the money we were supposed to have received? Did the $ ever arrive in Olympia?? ”

        I’ve heard that they’re wrangling with BNSF and FRA about their agreement with BNSF. WSDOT and BNSF had come to terms, but FRA thought it was too freindly to the freight railroad.

      4. If everything else that Wa wants to do with HSR werre funded, then I would vote for an East/West corridor, either (or both) of the following would be good

        Seattle-Everett-Levenworth-Wenatchee-Spokane (with aditional infill stations) scheduled East bound in the morning, and west bound in the evening to counter the Empire Builder

        Seattle-Auburn-Elensberg-Yakima-Tri cities (with aditional infill stations where appropriate) 2 daily trains a morning east bound and west bound, and an evening east and west bound

        If both of the above were done, then as a third option, Spokane to Tricities, running oppisite of the other half of the Empire Builder.

        Lor Scara

    1. They should send that money over here. All that Florida money could build-out the Cascades full plan and then some. We want it… both the public and politicians, have quality transit systems in both cities and serving the stations, have already put a good amount of public money into it so far, have a popular rail line already running, a fairly willing railroad, rail cars, etc.

      $2 billion would do a lot to the Cascades, its still a drop in the bucket for CA HSR (though I’m all for that project too).

      1. Sorry Sherwin but If I post this comment in the next post it wont make since

        Actually no I am pretty sure that wsdot estimates that if they reach there long range plan it will cost over 6 billion dollars. On another note Oregon asked for 2 billion and only 8 million. So they can definitely use some more money.

      2. i’ll direct the rest over there but just wanted to follow up on this one.

        but $2 billion is a 1/3 of $6 billion vs. 1/20th of $40 billion for CAHSR

  5. I had the day off from work today, so I thought I would spend the day on public transit. I started off taking ST 511 from 145th and Interstate 5 at about 10am. Spent some time in Pioneer Square before boarding LINK to Sea-Tac. Then, after walking around Sea-Tac for a bit, took RapidRide down to SeaTac Mall, er, The Commons. I haven’t done this much ‘free-form’ riding on public transit since I was a teenager, picking a bus route at random and seeing where it ended up. It was interesting today. First, the bus was pretty crowded, no seats available. Then, LINK had most seats full from International Station to Mount Baker. And RapidRide had more than half the seats full throughout the trip to Federal Way. Coming back, everything was even more full, of course by this time, it was ‘peak hour.’ I did discover that ST 510 and ST 511 don’t stop at 145th, so instead I took Metro 41 and then 347 to get home. Both Metro routes were very full. So, why do people keep saying that no one is using public transit? It looked like lots of people were getting around pretty well today.

    A few random notes: I do wish that ST used an articulated bus for 511 but at least Interstate 5 wasn’t blocked. LINK station at Rainier Beach: what was the reason for putting a station there? Maybe someday there may be TOD, but that someday looks very distant compared to every other stop from Mount Baker on South. RapidRide stops: a few of them seem very close together as if RapidRide is a local bus. Plus, we seemed to stop at every stoplight, aren’t these busses able to manipulate the lights? And, it would’ve been nice if RapidRide A went right next to The Commons, as there is no easy way to walk to it from the Federal Way TC. But, after walking through that mall, I’m sure there’s no one that would really willingly go there over Southcenter, or even the Supermall.

    Overall, a fun day that recalled my early teen years when I first moved to Seattle and explored my new hometown by riding the bus. Now, if I had just found a way to take Sounder somewhere…maybe tomorrow, along with the SLUT?

    1. The “people” who keep saying that no-one uses public transit are the same clowns who believe that East Kent Hill is the densest area of the pacific north west and that we will soon consign public transit to the dustbin of history in favor of hydrogen fuel-cell cars. Their opinions should be shown the contempt they deserve.

      Anyone who believes that cheap BRT solutions can meet the demand for high-traffic routes like Downtown/U-District/Northgate should be forced to ride the 7xs and the 41 until they admit the idiocy of their belief.

      Mike Lindblom posted on twitter a month or so ago that ST is retiring the Gilligs from the Snohomish county routes and will be replacing them with DE60LF’s within the year, so your wish will soon be granted in that respect.

      I will have either half a day or a full day off late next week, and if I get the whole day I’m going to take Sounder reverse-commute to Tacoma and spend a day there. If I get half a day I’m going to take the Sounder north to Everett and the 511 back.

      As for Ranier Beach, all of the Ranier Valley stations are justified in large part on the basis of future TOD driving ridership, and Ranier Beach is even more aspirational than most in that respect. I speculate (and I have this on no authority) that there is or was some hope to use Ranier Beach as a transfer point for some South King routes — certainly the ones to Renton. In fact, STB had a fiery post and comment thread on this very topic. Any move that forced riders to make a Link transfer would cause a riot, but the crisis at Metro is so acute that it just might happen.

      As for the SLUT, it doesn’t really go anywhere yet. I’d save that ride for when it gets further up Eastlake or to Fremont.

  6. I was always a bit agnostic on the skyscraper sign issue. I’m not convinced they’d be bad, but I’d certainly like to see proposals before allowing them. I wonder if the city has a report on them.

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