'Pay Parking at Othello Station' by Oran

I think it’s a travesty that something as trivial as expensive downtown parking can make such sensationalist headlines in the local paper, especially when considering that parking is nothing more than a good, which can be bought and sold.  It’s telling of the cultural attitude our society has towards non-auto modes when there’s such outrage over a phenomenon that’s framed according to market principles.

Luckily, people like Jon Talton get it:

But even “free” out in the suburbs isn’t really free. The externalities, such as environmental damage and climate-altering emissions, of big surface parking lots, wide streets, extensive car use, etc. aren’t priced in to conventional studies or public policies. Much of this is an artifact of a moment in history when energy was very cheap and debt low. Not for nothing are many suburbs suffering worse from the recession and its aftermath than center cities.

While Jon’s last point isn’t as simplistic as it sounds, there’s a reason why the Seattle/North King subarea always seems to outperform its peers in terms of sales tax revenue.  A lot of the lowest-density suburbs in the county that are subsidizing free parking (both public and private) also subsidize and encourage the kind of low-density development patterns that weaken the local tax base and reduce justification for strong frequent transit service.

It makes me chuckle when I read comments in Seattle Times articles about how people are driven to prefer the malls with free parking over the “expensive” downtown retailers, supposedly giving suburban businesses a big economic advantage.  As we’ve seen, that’s not the case— a sad reminder that free parking is almost always subsidized at the expense of transit, either directly or indirectly.

78 Replies to “Free Parking & ‘Bad’ Transit”

  1. Perhaps people who shop at giant malls are busy posting on the internet about how they prefer to shop there because there is parking; and meanwhile people who shop at local businesses are actually out shopping?

    1. Maybe people are sitting at Southcenter, using the Facebook Android app and posting how “rilly, rilly, great free parking is, because like kensha could, like park and not have to pay and so, like we all could get bubble tea…yeaaah…”

  2. Seems like the free market to me; supply and demand. The market as it stands cannot support any more garages downtown, since they will not be profitable due to land costs, usage, density, etc. otherwise there would be more being built. People should be thrilled the free market is working in such an efficient, albeit expensive, way!

    Typical Seattle Times at the end throwing in a little transit blame.

    1. If that’s true, then why aren’t they raising every single garage on 1st avenue and turning it into a 110 story skyscraper?

      1. There’s a concept whose name I forget, but it’s something like “economic inertia”. The idea is that an important difference between an ideal market and the real world is that capital is not perfectly liquid, since there are things like transaction costs and zoning, which work together to create a disincentive for investment.

        Thus, even if it’s economically ideal to convert a parking garage into a skyscraper, there often isn’t anyone around who has the money, time, and motivation to see it through.

        Conversely, surface parking lots often emerge out of thin air. If a developer buys some land, razes the building, then runs out of money, the most natural thing to do with the land is to run a parking lot. Better that than a money-losing pit, right?

        As Mike says, the fact that no new garages are being built speaks for itself.

      2. “If that’s true, then why aren’t they razing every single garage on 1st avenue and turning it into a 110 story skyscraper?”

        Because there are still a reasonable number of surface parking lots and lots with single-story old buildings that are cheaper to develop in Belltown, Pioneer Square, and South Lake Union. There are numerous mid- to high-rise construction projects going on in these areas right now. Lots like that do not incur the huge up-front cost of demolishing a multistory concrete structure.

  3. Everybody talks about the people who boycott downtown because of parking fees, but nobody talks about the people who walk or take transit to the downtown retail core because they don’t want to go to a suburban mall.

    1. Nobody talks about how they have the same freaking Old Navy store “downtown” as in a mall in Tukwila and yet somehow the “experience” is supposed to be totally different.

      1. The experience *is* different. It matters what’s outside of the store, not just what’s inside. That’s how indoor malls first got started; developers wanted to build a shopping center that felt more like a traditional downtown “Main Street”, albeit sanitized. Outdoor malls just weren’t cutting it anymore.

        Of course, like Zed says, this also neglects the fact that there are lots of small stores which you just don’t find in malls. There are independent booksellers, used clothing stores, used music stores, cafes… lots of places that you can only find on the street. Yes, we have Old Navy and H&M and Forever 21 and Macy’s, but we also have the indies.

      2. I agree with what you’re eluding to. Downtown definitely needs more unique stores, but that situation has improved. Downtown could also use more 24/hr activity and a bigger cap over I-5, but those are pipe dreams.

      3. I had a “coffee date” at Redmond Town Center over the weekend and I took transit to get there.

        What I observed however, is that the complex seems to be struggling with significant vacancies and business failures. The same can be said for Renton’s “The Landing”. I think one key difference between how downtown Seattle occurs for people and places like RTC, Kent Station and The Landing is that there is an organic aspect to stores in Seattle. They are not all spec chains and even if they are, they have their own unique instance.

        What is also interesting is that it took me less time to get from Downtown Seattle to the Downtown Redmond on ST545 than driving to a mall and parking. Indeed, if the purveyors of Redmond Town Center had any smarts, they’d be promoting how easy it is to get to their center by public transit and that in a few short years, they can take Light Rail to get there.

      4. Nordstrom started downtown. So did the Bon Marche. And maybe Bartell’s? So they’re part of the organic fabric of downtown.

      5. I go downtown for all the stores that would never survive in a suburban mall. In malls all you have is corporate america and it’s the same crap over and over. If we fill downtown with that same crap then why would I go there? However, having said that we still need to make sure that if we’re downtown our other needs are met. It’s not exactly easy to find a grocery store wherever you are downtown.

  4. It would help if you and Mr. Talton, rather than become apoplectic about subsidized parking could actually cite an example (location, amount spent per space) where this is happening.

    For example, I am not aware of any state agency here in Kent which subsidizes parking.

      1. Is the parking garage entirely paid for by private entities, and not Metro or Sound Transit?

      2. If I remember correctly, the City of Kent contracted out to a private entity to build and run the mall…so it was probably their decisions as to what customers would want that determined the construction of the garage. I could ask around to find out exactly what the story is there.

        However, that’s a very specialized case. The way this article is written, it seems to suggest that each and every parking lot is subsidized. For example, there’s a large lot up on East Hill outside of Top Food. Are you saying that that parking lot is subsidized…by how much?

      3. The cost of the parking lot is folded into the customers’ food bill. When a store has some locations with paid parking around it and other locations with free parking around it, the prices are often equalized across all the stores, so that people shopping in non-free parking locations are subsidizing those who shop in free parking locations. There’s also the fact that half the land area in American cities is dedicated to parking. That prevents this real estate from being put to other uses like housing, so it drives up everybody’s housing costs and causes sprawl.

    1. Do you own a car? Is it parked on the street? Is that street public right-of-way?

      1. Do you own a car?
        Yes, a 2007 KIA spectra.

        Is it parked on the street?
        No..its parked in my apartment’s private parking lot. My lease includes the use of two free parking spaces. I can pay extra for a guaranteed space with a covering, or for a completely enclosed garage.

      2. Put it this way: a person in your complex with no car will pay the same price as a person with two. The person with two gets 650 or so square feet of land for car storage. The person without gets none. Hence, the person with two cars is being subsidized by the person with none.

        If you could use your parking spot to hold a storage container, or anything, even that would make it a little less uneven, but if your complex is like most, that’s forbidden (Why? Think about it).

    2. “Subsidized” isn’t exclusive to government subsidies. It could also apply to one consumer subsidizing the actions of another.

  5. I love Northgate! They have a nice big parking lot that I use to park my car as I take the bus downtown to go shopping at Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square(Grand Central Bakery-yum!), and see a movie at the Cinerama.

    1. LOL, that’s what I used to use Northgate for too! A big parking lot. Now I ride the whole way. Parking downtown is never fun however I do it in Sundays sometimes.

  6. Enough with the ‘burb-bashing. The Line A at least keeps the handful of hyper-insensitive parkers out of the HOV lane, while the Line C cannot make that claim. If we have to picket the businesses that think three customers are more important than a thousand bus riders, I’m up for that.

  7. Two things …

    Sherwin, let’s see if you’re consistent. Do you believe people should have to pay to park their bicycles on the sidewalk?


    1. In before Sam’s post gets replaced with an asterisk…

      …since we all know what he was going to say.

    2. Subsidy is a dirty word if you sling it but we’re all guilty of it. All of us to some degree believe in the necessity of government. We can debate where and how much without being hypocritical.

      1. Exactly. If you believe that some activities (driving) have negative externalities, then it makes sense to implement policies which will encourage people to switch to alternatives (transit/biking/walking). It’s not all about paying your way. (But paying your way is a fine place to start when we’re currently subsidizing activities that we should be taxing.)

    3. “Do you believe people should have to pay to park their bicycles on the sidewalk?”

      There is a big difference in cost between providing parking for bicycles and cars. A garage stall costs north of $30,000 to build while a bike locker costs around $1,100 – Bike racks are even less.

      Still, if it gets crowded enough, you bet we should pay. Bike owners pay a yearly rental fee of $50 at Sound Transit park and rides which is more than I can say for cars.

    4. Not Sherwin, but I’ll take a crack at it (I bicycle).

      I think people should have to pay, with the following caveats:

      Charging for parking is about demand and supply. As it happens, in many places there are far more random posts than there are parked bikes, so there’s no shortage, and hence no reason to charge. At a Dutch train station, charging would be justifiable. Most other places, not so much.

      You can see a similar situation with motorbikes. Some places, they have meters. Other places, they just park wherever because there’s plenty of room.

      A bike takes perhaps 12 square feet for parking– a car in a lot some 325. So it stands to reason that bicycle parking should cost about 1/27th of what a car parking spot costs. This may result in a market rate so low that collecting and enforcing parking fees is totally impractical.

      The concept of public goods is pertinent here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_good

      There are places with paid bike parking. Usually with a slightly better service than just a post in the ground– cover from the weather, convenient access, security. And that’s fine, and people use them.

  8. Reading the comments here, I feel like I am THAT GUY. I live in West Seattle and I frequently drive 509 to 518 to the Southcenter Mall instead of going downtown to shop or see movies. I’m usually taking a car full of car-less Seattle friends. And yes, we are all transit advocates. (Though I will admit to an anti-bus bias; I vastly prefer grade-separated transit.) I really think the combo of bums and expensive parking makes the gas cost of driving to Southcenter worth it. If either thing were not at issue, I’d probably be downtown more often. Just my honest .02 cents. If we could take a Light Rail to Southcenter, we’d certainly do that instead. Maybe if we get that Aerial Gondola from Alaska Junction down to SODO Station, then a spur line to Southcenter from the airport, someday we could. :D

    1. The entire point of high parking prices is to discourage people from parking downtown. If prices were lower, but there were the same number of spaces, then you’d instead have to spend 30 minutes looking for a space — and you probably wouldn’t be any more likely to drive downtown. The higher prices save you (and everyone else) time, and saves a whole bunch of unnecessary circling around the block.

      In other words, it sounds like you’re making a very rational decision, given the options. So power to you!

      That said, it’s a shame that transit isn’t good enough to meet your needs, or that Seattle’s commercial districts aren’t compelling enough to make the parking cost (or the bus ride) worth it. That’s the part which we transit advocates need to focus on.

    2. Ideally, we’d all take transit to shop or to events, but our system still has a long way to go. For those who still want/need to drive downtown the Pacific Place garage offers low cost parking designed to appeal to shoppers. It’s not free, but it’s centrally located, has nice wide spots, and is secure. They even offer a game day special of $6. Given that the garages near the Stadium charge you up to $40 game day, $6 + $8 for 2 round trip Link tickets from Westlake to Stadium station is a pretty good deal. The fact that you won’t be stuck in the traffic mess around the stadiums should be worth it.

      As for the bums, well… It’s fairly clean around Pacific Place. If you can’t stand the possibility of bum interaction, may I suggest Bellevue? That said, Bellevue is starting to see a few panhandlers too.

      1. “our system still has a long way to go” Couldn’t agree more. If I lived in D.C., I would not own a car. Here I consider it a necessity.

      2. Thanks for the plug, Velo! Our rates have gone down, and garage use has soared, w/ a mess of folks taking advantage of thta game day special.

      3. Now if only Metro would get a clue and stop obstructing the post-game subway advantage with a 71 or 41 that sits in the tunnel for 10+ minutes as new people arrive faster than the cash-payers can feed their money in.

        No more on-board payment in the tunnel! Ever! But especially after games!

      4. How about Metro and Sound transit work with Event and game organizers to include a free ride on public transportation? Revenue could be used for adding overflow trippers.

    3. I don’t understand why we should pay for a gondola because you don’t like the bus. There’s not a damn reason Link should go to Southcenter mall.

      1. Well, it’s a major transfer center, and on the way to Renton from Tukwila International Boulevard Station. So I think we *should* build a stop there as part of a Burien-Renton alignment, which connects to a Ballard-West Seattle alignment.

      2. Ryan, I have this obsession with grade separation. And I think there was another post on here about how amazing gondolas would be. :D Anyway, I don’t want to pay for buses that end up sitting in the same traffic as my car or motorcycle. Fine, don’t link a major shopping center to the Light Rail, we are going to pay for it either way, not like ridership matters, right? LOL.

      3. Tukwila furiously tried to arm-wrestle ST into routing Link via Southcenter, which would have made for a slower and more expensive alignment that would have been suboptimal for everyone not going to Southcenter.

        There is a massive shopping center on Link — at Westlake. If malls are your thing, Northgate will be right by the station there. Presumably Bellevue’s malls will be within walking distance of Bellevue TC station.

        Sadly, if lack of grade separation is a deal-breaker for you, West Seattle is not the place to be for transit. Rail to West Seattle from downtown will be staggeringly expensive due to the large water crossing, steep grades, lack of ROW, and unspectacular current ridership (compared with Ballard, Aurora, Ranier and other potential future rail corridors).

        Then again, in prevailingly low-density, uncongested areas, mass transit of in any mode doesn’t offer much compared to cars. West Seattle to Southcenter off-peak is a trip that is unlikely to ever have much transit mode share, however much money we throw at it.

      4. It would probably have added a few minutes to the total time getting to the airport but you also have to agree that the main purpose of the line is not simply to be an airport shuttle.

        I think having a link stop in South Center would have simplified transportation for many thousands of people who wish to go to that area either to shop or to work. Having the option of direct light rail service to such a large scale shopping district and business district would have created tremendous possibilities for transforming the area just as the advent of the Metro in suburban Washington DC is transforming mall oriented communities like Tyson’s Corner and others. Transit Oriented Development like the scale that we are screaming for here is happening there in communities previously oriented towards the car.

      5. Yes, it would have been much better for many thousands of people, and much worse for many thousands more, because of the delay. Not right now, perhaps, because there’s only a couple of stations south of a hypothetical Southcenter station, but in time as the line extends down 99. You can get a sense of how much more ridership there is going down 99 than to Southcenter by comparing the 150 to the 174 and 194 on this chart:


        I agree that large-scale transit oriented land-use changes in the suburbs are necessary, but there is plenty of opportunity for that on the 99 corridor. I’m also totally fine with putting Southcenter on a future Burien-Renton line as it probably won’t require a big detour. I also think the 150 should get the RapidRide treatment (along with the 120) as it’s obviously a major ridership corridor that deserves investment. I just don’t think a Central Link detour was the right choice.

      6. But Bruce, that’s like saying the many thousands of people that get on AND off in the Rainier valley are inconveniencing those that want to go beyond the Rainier valley and would just as soon have by-passed the RV all together. So, what’s it going to be?

        Is SouthCenter/Tukwila a legitimate destination for people or not?

      7. Of course Southcenter is a legitimate destination, but that doesn’t mean it’s oh-so-important it has to be on the first north-south line. It’s well-positioned to be on the Burien-Renton line. The owners of Southcenter bear some responsibility for not locating the mall in a straight line between Seattle, the airport, and Tacoma so that the main rapid transit line could easily serve it. Instead they sited it at the junction of I-5 and 405, which were built at the same time as the mall. They did everything to optimize the mall for cars and not for transit. The 150 has to turn-turn-turn-turn to get to the mall, adding 10 minutes to the travel time, because there’s no direct road from Interurban to the mall. If they had sited the mall a couple blocks east, the bus could just stay on Interurban/West Valley Highway and still serve the mall.

        Tyson’s Corner was built as TOD, from what I’ve heard. It was designed to attract a rail line to it. And the other places in Virginia that have been transformed into shopping-TOD centers are all on the lines’ natural path; it doesn’t zigzag all out of its way to reach non-transit-oriented centers that “promise” to become transit-oriented in the future. And Southcenter has made no promise to become transit-oriented. We could have put the entire TIB station and a parking garage at Southcenter and it would have made more sense, but I gather Southcenter didn’t want the P&R. Southcenter could still build some apartments among the retail buildings. But that won’t change the fact that there’s no way to serve Seattle-SeaTac-Tacoma, Seattle-Southcenter-Kent-Auburn, Seattle-Renton, Burien-Renton, and Southcenter-Renton without 3-5 lines.

      8. Southcenter doesn’t come close to the RV for ridership — 50% of Link’s boardings come from there. You can’t possibly compare Southcenter to the RV. Yes, there’s a time penalty for the RV vs Duwamish — several minutes, for South King riders. The riders per additional time for the deviation to Southcenter aren’t worth it.

        Where did I say Southcenter was not a legitimate destination? I explicitly advocate for more service on that corridor.

      9. “There’s not a damn reason Link should go to Southcenter mall.”

        I’m a little confused with the logic here. What is the purpose of transit? Isn’t it to the masses where they want to go. Southcenter mall is pretty popular. In hindsight I think the Link should have crossed I5 there at Southcenter, had a stop for the mall and another over the Sounder tracks for transfer before turning north to MLK. Having the Link turn north and run along I5 was a complete waste.

      10. “Southcenter doesn’t come close to the RV for ridership — 50% of Link’s boardings come from there. ”

        Right, you’re comparing current ridership trends with no direct Link to what the RV has now? This is a case of “if you build it, they will come.” I know anecdotally that people in the RV would prefer to shop at SouthCenter but are stymied for lack of direct transit options. Further, with better transit options, the jobs available in that region become more accessible to them.

        And it isn’t about creating a direct benefit for the mall operator because a link station would create a “transitshed” for that entire area.

        For those that suggested that the mall operator erred in locating their mall, I suggest that topography, land use and market driven decisions played their part back in the 1960’s when all this was built. Transit was not a serious consideration at all at that time. You shouldn’t be “blaming” the mall operator for these things.

        And to put things in perspective, the Hiawatha line in Minneapolis in addition to going directly under 2 airport terminals at MSP (and not requiring you to walk 1/2 mile) terminates at the Mall of America right inside the garage adjacent to a mall entrance. There are more people riding the Light Rail going to the mall than use it to go to the airport.

    4. The IRS figures driving costs $0.555/mile, based on fixed and variable costs of vehicle operation. Using that rate, driving from Alaska Junction to Southcenter & back costs at least $14. Driving from the Junction to Downtown and back, on the other hand, costs less than $6.50. For middle-of-the-day trips longer than 2 hours, the unlimited free parking at the mall might make it the more financially sound option. But if it’s a weekday evening or any time on a Sunday or holiday, you’re paying $8 just to avoid bums.

      And there’s regular and relatively speedy bus service between the Junction and Downtown until 1 a.m. every day of the week. Avoiding bums and 45 minutes total on a bus is worth $10 to you?

      Maybe you buy a lot of stuff, or really big stuff, or you hit up lots of disparate stores every time you go shopping. Or maybe there’s a big hill between your house and the bus stop. Or maybe bums really just bother you that much. But I think if you look at the real costs (financial and environmental), your decision may not be as rational as it seems at first blush.

      1. Seeing that you own a motorcycle, though, I should say I think it’s BS that motorcycles and scooters pay the same street parking rate as cars & trucks in Seattle. In SF, for example, the meter rate for motorcycles is 20 or 25% the car rate (40-70¢ v. $2.00-3.50). In London they mostly park free; they park free Toronto; most park free in NYC—illegally, but without much trouble.

      2. If it takes a full parking slot, a motorcycle should pay the same rate. However, you should be able to park at least two or three bikes in a standard parking space.

      3. Nice to see some numbers on this, thanks. Maybe I SHOULD prefer downtown to Southcenter. I think it will be an interesting discussion among my friends when I bring this up with them. Bums and parking fees don’t deter me at all if Southcenter doesn’t have what I want.

        Several of my friends have been getting motorcycles lately and I doubt we’d ride in a group all the way to Southcenter when we can park free anywhere we like. I’ve never paid for parking downtown with my motorcycle, but it is a tiny 1-cylinder dual sport and doesn’t take up much room- perfect city vehicle but a bit rough out on the freeways! :D

      4. Does downtown even have what you want? I don’t know if a Southcenter Mall customer is a downtown customer. If you’re looking for a Sams Club or Costco you won’t find it downtown and Westlake/Pacific Place aren’t going to offer everything Northgate or Southcenter offer.

    5. Even city-dwelling transit fans drive to places with free parking if (A) they’re with somebody who has a car (because they insist on driving everywhere) so they have to stow the darned car somewhere, or (B) they’re with somebody who has a car and is disabled so they can’t take the bus around. A parking fee of $3 or $10 seems kind of a lot compared to the $10 meal or $10 in groceries you’re about to buy, yet you have to make the trip so you head to a place with parking (U-Village, suburb, Northgate, etc).

    6. I think that this decision also has a lot to do with personal preference. I live off 509/518 and work near Southcenter. The mall there is convenient with ample parking (although the traffic is a nightmare a lot of times since the expansion and the poorly designed roads around it). Having said that though, I always prefer to head downtown: it’s more diverse in both stores and activities, it’s walkable, it has views, it has easy ways to get to other parts of the city. Most importantly, I can take light rail there.

      To me it’s a personal preference but I don’t disparage anyone for choosing the alternatives (eg, Southcenter, Northgate, Bellevue Square). I’m just happy there are options!

  9. I’ve said this before, I’ll repeat it here. It is not wise politically to raise arguments that are perceived as “warring on the car” and by extension, the suburbanites that drive them. Suburbanites despite the open disdain shown for them on this blog, often vote.

    While the downtown Seattle core is our most important business sector, it is NOT our only business core and it is foolhardy to believe it should be the only one in this area. This area has a metropolitan population in excess of 3.4 Million and further a Combined Statistical Area of over 4 Million. While it is certainly good that Seattle is concentrating on increasing density (and in my opinion, not doing enough yet) Not everyone of those 4 million people can or should try to live in Seattle. There is a reason and purpose that nearly 800,000 people live in and near Tacoma including “manning” the military bases in Pierce county, the port which is one of the largest auto importation facilities in the country, and significant timber and paper processing among the many other economic interests.

    Bellevue Redmond and east King County for what ever reason has grown to become a major high-tech base for a large number of companies. It is also home to a number of very large companies that you don’t often hear about such as SSA Maritime. It is no longer a sleepy bedroom community it is a major economic force in its own right. In the last decade, East King County grew at a rate of 12.3% versus Seattle’s growth of 4.9% http://goo.gl/VQvPN

    South King County has the bulk of warehousing and distribution services as well as a number of industrial concerns. These activities are not simply to provide commodities for the local population but also for export to other states and countries thereby adding to our State’s domestic product. The scale of these operations could not economically be housed all within the boundaries of the city of Seattle.

    That is not to mention that the State’s largest company (though no longer headquartered here) has operations in 3 major plants and numerous other locations. Only part of these operations are near Seattle and as I understand it, their actual property is just outside city limits.

    Despite the name of this blog being the “Seattle” Transit Blog, the reality is that it deals with transit issues region wide. So, we should be encouraging density in several of our regions corridors including Bellevue, Lynnwood, Everett, Federal Way and Tacoma. We should encourage the development of public transit within and among all these places. We should encourage people as much as possible to live closer to their work. But we have also seen that is not always possible and indeed, economics and culture has caused a variety of population movement trends.

    We have already built an environment and short of bulldozing large portions of it, what is needed is a courageous leadership based on sound economics and environmental reasoning as the basis for future land use policy decisions. But as we are seeing with the DBT, economics and rationality are often tossed aside when development decisions are being made. It comes down to money and power.

    The best way to deal with the likes of John B. and other suburbanites is to understand the economic realities of oil and educate the public that oil will inevitably become more expensive regardless of what the United States does. We can’t control in the long term the upward trend of these prices. This alone is going to dictate a whole slew of societal changes that are market driven and not driven by politics. My significant fear is that we will waste billions of dollars on boondoggles like the DBT before realizing that is not what will best serve this region in the future.

    My significant expectation is that people that are choosing a suburban lifestyle either by choice or necessity will find the cost of using their cars so prohibitive that they will make other choices including living closer to their work – in higher density communities; the redevelopment of their communities to be more walking and transit friendly and the encouragement of entrepreneurial solutions such as shared car/taxi services.

    1. While I agree that the Eastside and South King are important economic engines in their own right, the graph you provide does not necessarily bear on that point; that shows population growth, which would also be consistent with a bedroom community.

      I also don’t get your point about the DBT. My indifference to that project is partly based on that fact that the DBT will maintain regional mobility in a way that S&T will not; much of the urbanist opposition to the DBT is based on that premise that we should penalize cross-city commuter, particularly those in cars. For exactly the reasons your describe (extended to the region as a whole) I think this is a stupid attitude.

      I do agree that a regional focus is required. On the other hand, most of the action is in Seattle, and will be until work starts happening on East Link and the North Corridor, which are years and years away. I don’t think the editorial focus of STB is wrong or unbalanced in this respect.

      1. Monday-Saturday daytime, transiting the existing I-5 in the GP lanes is already a penalty compared to the viaduct, and the one extra lane (one of which is actually now a HOV lane) in each direction isn’t going to move the needle that much.

      2. Correct, a repainted, redecked I-5 with one extra GP lane in each direction (which I understand is what’s proposed in S&T). That ain’t gonna substitute for four lanes of tunnel.

        Unless you are referring to some much bigger project of widening I-5 — which I agree, might work, but is not in the cards right now.

      3. As has been shown frequently when the viaduct is closed, and most recently in the (non)Carmegeddon experience in the capital of the car, Los Angeles, traffic adapts and adjusts and finds it’s level. The surface + transit plan is the right one. Those going past downtown can use I-5.

        But the larger question given the FACT that oil is becoming increasingly expensive and is wreaking catastrophic damage to our environment, why would you seek to EXPAND the infrastructure that continues the entrenchment of petrol fuels? It requires serious cognitive dissonance to deny this reality that the cost of owning and operating a car is becoming prohibitively expensive and harmful.

      4. “As has been shown frequently when the viaduct is closed, and most recently in the (non)Carmegeddon”

        Irrelevant. Those are short-term closures. Demand response is very different on different timescales.

        “Those going past downtown can use I-5.”

        You mean the parking lot I walked over half an hour ago when I went to get my groceries?

        “why would you seek to EXPAND the infrastructure that continues the entrenchment of petrol fuels?”

        I don’t. I seek to maintain grade-separated/limited access roadway capacity through downtown in a way that makes downtown more pleasant and livable. Not everyone can work downtown, live near where they work, or use transit. For the foreseeable future there will need to be more north-south freeway capacity through downtown than I-5 can provide.

      5. So the Embarcadero freeway coming down had no adverse impacts on the city of San Francisco, when they replaced it with a surface roadway and the rest of the traffic used the other freeways. The exact same thing can happen in Seattle.

        The surface+Transit plan provide suitable capacity via augmenting existing grade separated corridors and further augmenting transit options so that people can make the choice to change modes of transporation that better benefit our community and our planet. If you don’t want to face the reality that gas prices will be double what they are now in a few years, and if you don’t want to face the real danger to our environment that these particulate spewing vehicles pose, even then, a $4 billion tunnel isn’t going to help you “maintain grade separated capacity” because all the evidence shows it REDUCES capacity. The gridlock you fear will be real and no other avenues will be augmented unless we spend money on that ALSO.

  10. One commonly overlooked fact that anyone whose ever been to downtown Bellevue can appreciate is that free parking often makes you pay in time, rather than money. I recently tried an experiment where I road my bike from Redmond to Lincoln Square at the same time my co-workers drove there and parked in their free parking garage. In spite of 520 flowing freely at 60 mph, the bike still beat the car by a good several minutes.

    Similar with Northgate, where parking, while free, can be a real pain in the ass during the holiday shopping season. I once drove to Northgate Mall, circled the lot, gave up, drove half a mile home, then walked to the mall to do my shopping.

    1. Many lots in Bellevue are not free and on street parking in Bellevue is also limited. Several business zones require permit to park. So, Bellevue is not the free parking panacea everyone makes it out to be.

  11. ([Sherwin] travesty = “an absurd imitation” You probably either mean “travesty of justice” (though that’s not quite right in this context either) or “tragedy”)

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