Metro Wants Your Route 65 Feedback

Wedgewood Community Council

News about the route modification on Route 65 — previously reported here — has made its way to the Metro website. An online feedback form is included. Comments are due by April 8th, although the change would not occur before October at the earliest.

The proposed change would add two to three minutes of travel time for customers who travel through the revised area. Route 65 would serve all existing stops along its new routing on NE 55th Street and Sand Point Way NE/NE 45th Street, as well as some new stops along 40th Ave NE (exact locations for these have not been determined).

Metro is considering making this change in order to serve the significant numbers of employees, volunteers, and visitors to Children’s Hospital who live in areas served by Route 65. Also, the businesses and apartments along the revised routing could potentially provide more riders than the single-family homes and cemetery along 35th Avenue NE and NE 45th Place between NE 55th Street and NE 45th Street.

How Surface Works

In this episode of “How You Can Help Get Us Transit,” we look at a couple of examples that help demonstrate why removing highways is not only not a big deal, but also good for transit.

I’m going to use two real viaduct commutes as examples. Both originate in West Seattle. One drives to work at Google. The other drives to First Hill – this is actually the commute of a doctor I know, so we’ve talked about it quite a bit. He usually takes the bus – he’s an occasional driver.

Today, both commutes are highly congested on the West Seattle Bridge, but not very congested on the viaduct itself. Neither spend very much time on surface streets in the city today, most is spent on highways. Google lady gets off 99 near Fremont, and doctor dude takes the Seneca exit.

If the tunnel were built, Google lady’s trip time would be faster – the deep bore tunnel is designed for this commute. It would be more expensive for her, but it would be faster. Her time on the West Seattle bridge would remain similar, but her time on 99 would decrease. At the same time, some of the traffic that was using today’s viaduct goes to downtown streets. So instead of the bus looking like a more attractive option than the toll, because she would have to take two buses *and* the buses are now a little slower, she keeps driving.

Doctor dude switches to I-5. His commute time increases overall for bus or car, and he’s very angry, because this tunnel thing was supposed to help. He votes for a Republican to replace Governor Inslee in 2016 because he remembers this is Gregoire’s fault. The Republican scuttles Sound Transit 3…

If a surface option were built, Google lady’s time on 99 would be a little slower than it is today – by as much as a couple of minutes. However, because the fast bypass through downtown isn’t there, a lot of trips aren’t taken, so the West Seattle bridge is less congested – making up time. Her total trip is still slower, but not nearly as slow as tunnel proponents suggest. Because the surface option also included transit improvements, there’s also a significantly better chance that she’ll take RapidRide and a local bus (or Dexter bike lane) the rest of the way to work. There’s another good discussion here about Central Streetcar and a future Fremont extension, but that’s for another post.

Doctor dude uses the new surface boulevard when he drives – it’s faster than sitting in traffic on I-5. He wasn’t spending that much time on 99 anyway, and the West Seattle bridge is now slightly faster, so his commute time improves. Transit improvements more than made up for that travel time decrease, though, so he continues to bus.

For both users, the surface option makes transit more attractive by encouraging trips to match corridors easily served by transit. In the longer run, this means surface gives us more potential ridership for serious mass transit to West Seattle. And it’s cheaper, so we lose a little pressure on the state’s backlog of highway maintenance and repairs – meaning it’s easier to fight for transit funding.

Transit advocates – this fight won’t stop with the referendum, but you know we’ll keep fighting. Please help: donate to the campaign, and email me to volunteer!

Luggage Racks

Photo by Oran

The problem with an airport train is, inevitably, what to do with all the luggage. Although Link’s floors are nearly spotless, under the seats doesn’t seem very popular.

Photo by Oran

The other preferred solution is to put a suitcase in the bike bays. As someone who brings a bike on Link a couple of times a week, that’s not exactly my favorite, especially when they’re running one car so that there’s only two spots.

As Link becomes more crowded over the years, this will be more and more of a problem, although four car trains will help. Luckily, there’s a lot of volume over our heads in a very tall Link car. Are overhead luggage racks the answer? I asked ST spokesman Bruce Gray about this, and his reply is below the jump:

Continue reading “Luggage Racks”

Sprawl vs. Train

As North Sounder has the latest in what seems like an endless series of mudslide cancellations, an anonymous alert reader sends this in:

This picture was taken back in December (not the current mudslide). It’s one of the few pictures where the news crew panned out to show one of the primary causes of these slides: a shameful history of bad land use regulations So, these folks got their nice view, and got their McMansion site stripped clear of any trees or foliage – and a whole bunch of other people continue to pay for it.


I don’t know if the specific house pictured was built last year, or in 1980, or in 1915, but I think his point stands. There’s no real policy prescription here, except to stop allowing stuff like this without considering the real costs to the thousands of people who use that rail line.

Schiendelman in Slog

Ben has a good piece in Slog about the deep bore tunnel and the Protect Seattle Now movement.

I think Ben’s right to go back to first principles for why the tunnel is a terrible policy choice. Too much of the tunnel debate has spiraled into spurious arguments about the “will of the people” or “jobs” or “safety” or micro debates about process.

The fact is that of the three alternatives, the DBT is the most expensive (for both state and city) and gets you both the most highway and the least transit. The City’s massive commitments to the waterfront will soak up the financial capacity to do anything great from the Transit Master Plan. All for a waterfront park that the City is bound to mess up.

I wonder about the ballot measure, though; will it accomplish anything besides embarrassing tunnel supporters? That’d be fine, as tunnel supporters deserve to be embarrassed, but I’d be more excited about a measure with a concrete path to a better alternative.

Suggested Tourist Route

This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

Please excuse my recent gondola craze, but here’s a little daydream. 

Imagine you have a half day stopover as Seatac and are looking for something to do.  The information desk gives you a few tips, and you find this route interesting.  Start by hopping on the light rail and riding it to Westlake.  Go up the stairs and ride the streetcar.  When you get to SLU, transfer to the Galer St. Gondola.  After your scenic trip up the hill, explore upper Queen Anne for a bit, then head down the hill via Kerry Park and our historic stairs (or take a trolley bus down, if you prefer).  Head to the Seattle Center to look at the fountain and the Space Needle, then hop on the Monorail to get back.  Extra time?  Check out the Pike Place Market and maybe even the waterfront.  If not, hop back on the light rail to the airport.

Man, you think, Seattle has their transportation system figured out.

Tomorrow is Bus Driver Appreciation Day

Photo by Flickr User GodzillaRockit

Tomorrow is International Bus Driver Appreciation Day, as is March 18th each year. Sherwin summed up the idea perfectly last year:

Whether you only commute by bus, or run all your everyday errands on transit, we encourage you to show your appreciation through any way you can… Even though it may be “Bus” Driver Appreciation Day, it certainly doesn’t hurt to say a quick thanks to train or streetcar operators if you manage to catch of glimpse of them (as long as you’re not disrupting them in the cab).

For someone who doesn’t witness enough riders thanking their drivers when exiting out the front, here’s a big thanks to all our driver readers and their coworkers.

Apparently, Metro’s rules forbid Metro drivers from accepting gifts, and I imagine there’s a good reason for that. Given all they have to put up with, it is a nice gesture to take a minute to say “thanks” or other words of appreciation, even if you cannot give your driver a present.

Scheduling Routes 120 and 125

Longtime reader (and Seattle City Council candidate) Michael Taylor-Judd forwards us this exchange:

I’m writing you today along with a number of Delridge corridor residents to request a study of the scheduling of the Metro Route 120 and 125 buses through our neighborhood. Anecdotally, many of us have been frustrated for some time at watching Downtown-bound buses pass by close together (some literally following right behind). While we have excellent 15-minute headways most of the time on 120 (thanks to Transit Now initiatives), it can still be incredibly frustrating to just miss a bus, and wait 10-15 minutes only to see both of these buses coming down the street…

There is a schedule time point at 16th Ave SW & Roxbury. A quick glance at the two schedules side-by-side shows that nearly ALL of the Route 125 stops scheduled at this time point arrive with[in] four minutes or less of the Route 120. In fact, of the 45 scheduled runs in-bound to Downtown Seattle, only seven buses are NOT scheduled that close to the 120. Both are even scheduled once at the same time – 4:33pm – and several times only one to two minutes apart.

I’d like to request that planners take a look at these two schedules prior to the June service change to investigate adjusting the two routes further apart. Route 120 has the highest ridership of any bus route in West Seattle , and the Delridge corridor also has some of the highest demand for transit service in the city…

If there is some mitigating factors that we are not aware of as citizens, we’d appreciate an opportunity to learn more about them at the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting or another regularly scheduled meeting in our neighborhood.

and the response from Metro GM Kevin Desmond, below the jump…

Continue reading “Scheduling Routes 120 and 125”

News Roundup: Winding Its Way

TBM midsection, by Atomic Taco

This is an open thread.

CT Workshop

Community Transit is holding two workshops in Everett where average riders will go through a planning exercise:

We are limited to 25 participants for each workshop.

If you are interested in attending please RSVP with your date preference no later than March 18 to Donna Clausen at If you can make either date, please let us know; that may improve your chances of being selected.

Sat., April 9, 9 – 11:30 a.m.
Tues., April 12, 6 – 8:30 p.m.

Having done this kind of thing in the past, I’d say it’s pretty rewarding.

Bellevue Residents, Councilmembers Spar at Council Meeting

Bellevue City Councilmember Kevin Wallace.
Kevin Wallace

While there were no raised voices this time around, plenty of heated emotions and rhetoric were still enough to make last night’s Bellevue city council meeting a spectacle.  The most recent chapter in the saga started last Friday when the Seattle Times reported that councilmember Kevin Wallace failed to disclose a deal he signed with GNP, which, in short, has sought to reactivate the Eastside rail corridor from Renton to Snohomish in addition to the Redmond spur.  Shortly after the story broke, the City of Bellevue announced it would be hiring an outside investigator to look into Wallace’s situation.

The evening started off with a spate of public comments, ranging from support of the investigation to testimony decrying it as a “waste of taxpayer money.”  Both B2M and B7 supporters were present, the latter not explicitly emphasizing support for investigating Wallace, but that rather it include both Grant Degginger and Claudia Balducci, who have been accused by a few of having conflicts of interest of their own.  B2M supporters, on the other hand, expressed frustration with the lack of transparency recently pioneered by Wallace.

Aside from comments about the investigation, there was one testimony from a Robin Ray, who launched a blatant attack on the pro-light rail group *Move Bellevue Forward (MBF), accusing it of being “sponsored by Sound Transit” and Tim Ceis.  Ray didn’t back up or cite any of his claims, and instead attempted to discredit MBF through a mostly emotional plea.  While citizens are free to say anything they want, it interests me why Ray chose to make his claims to the city council, which has no part in the group.

As far as I’m concerned, whether or not Kevin Wallace’s dealings with GNP are a conflict of interest isn’t the only problem.  The greater concern is the fact that he didn’t disclose the deal at all, especially while the council was voting on spending $670k to further study B7.  Under the precedent of recusal, the council may not even had Wallace’s critical fourth vote to proceed with the study.

More coverage on the Seattle Times as well as live tweets and analysis from our Twitter last night.  The meeting is also now available to watch on Bellevue TV.

*In the interests of disclosure, MBF is a group I am involved with, but these opinions are my own and not on behalf of the organization.

Cascadia Congress for New Urbanism – Summit in Portland

In 2006, the Congress for New Urbanism released a report that is still the most important piece of literature on the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project – a study that found major flaws in WSDOT’s work and suggested the surface/transit option was a good choice even from a traffic congestion perspective.

Chapters of this organization, such as Cascadia (not to be confused with Discovery Institute’s Cascadia), bring discussions like this local. Architects, urban planners, designers and more are all represented. This year, their summit (PDF) is in Portland, and focuses on how to bring urbanism to the forefront of the sustainability discussion.

CNU Cascadia has two great speakers lined up, Kingston Heath and Steve Mouzon – both write about sustainable placemaking, each with different focuses. They’ll also have a streetcar tour showcasing good design and urban planning – projects we can learn from here, especially in South Lake Union today and on Capitol and First hills in the next few years. Tickets are only $35, and it’s a good excuse for a trip on Amtrak Cascades.

More thoughts on gondolas

This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

1. Bike racks.  You probably only need one for every 5th car or so, but it should be easy to add.  Would probably get more use up hills than down.

2. Perth Australia is renovating its waterfront, and has just proposed a $30M gondola system to connect it to Kings Park (called a “cable car” in the image here). 

3.  In considering if such a system is appropriate for our city, it’s useful to look at what it can do.  Here’s a great list of aerial trams and gondolas that are the highest, shortest, etc.  Some useful numbers:  tallest support pillar is 373′ tall, and longest run is 2.8 miles and takes 15 minutes (in New Mexico).  The longest unsupported span is at Whistler at 1.9 miles.  I’m not sure of the world’s fastest – the Genting Highland claimed to be the fastest at 13.4 miles/hour, but Whistler is 15.7 miles/hour and there may be faster ones out there.

4. Capacity.  Medellin has a capacity of 3,000 passengers per hour per direction at 12 second spacing.  Assuming 100 passengers per bus, that’s 30 buses an hour capacity.  I would guess that beats our bus demand between any two points in the city.  We can start with wider spacing to save money, but design in the ability to add cars in the future.

My Right of Way is the Highway


In a good post on HSR Yglesias makes a common sorta-true observation:

Now a separate question is whether there’s any feasible way to actually do this in a country that doesn’t have a French (or Chinese) level of central political authority empowered to build straight tracks through people’s suburban backyards. The answer seems to be “no.

Of course it would be very difficult to build a sufficiently straight right of way through sprawling single-family subdevelopments, much less a place like Greenwood. As luck would have it, however, we’ve built very straight, wide, reasonably graded rights of way between all our major cities via the interstate highway system.

Although building local transit lines in the freeway is a suboptimal choice, HSR has limited stops. Building connecting tracks into the center of cities, or linking with existing tracks for these stops, is comparative child’s play, and can even enforce discipline with respect to the number of stops between major destinations.

That’s not to say that we’re on the cusp of change; for starters, Washington’s 18th amendment would almost certainly prevent taking lanes in places where the median wasn’t wide enough. And there are undoubtedly lots of necessary projects beyond putting down tracks and stringing wire. But the necessary political change is “merely” a shift from total preeminence of the car, rather than a sudden willingness to have bullet trains in the backyard. It’s clear to me that if true bullet trains are ever going to happen in the Northwest it’ll be this way.

Seattle Visitor Guide

[UPDATE: I buried the lede here. Judging from the comments, people are watching the video and not reading and offering suggestions on the STB visitor guide.]

The Seattle Channel recently produced this transit-oriented users guide to the City in 2005. It’s a little more focused on attractions than getting around.

Last week I threw together this visitor guide for people visiting Seattle and trying to get around using public transit. It’ll remain on the right sidebar for reference.