112 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Going Places”

  1. Fun video. Just to paste from your youtube description, it was produced by General Electric advocating for public transit as a way out of traffic congestion (and as a way to sell more GE motors I’m sure). Digitization from:
    http://www.archive.org/details/GoingPlaces

    I especially like all the 50s shots of electric trolley buses. Unless I’m mistaken it has a few from Seattle even, though most of it looks like LA and San Francisco.

    1. some great stuff in the video. its amazing that they knew all this stuff 70 years ago such as building roads only attracts more cars, also calling for busways/bus lanes, the waste of space of autos vs bus/rail. too bad no one was listening at all until the 1970s and still most still havent got the message.

    2. The map at 8:27 looks like Seattle. It says “Capitol Hill” or “Capital Hill”. The diagonal streets to the west of it look a bit too far north, but maybe the words “Capitol Hill” were a bit lower than they should have been. It also looks like there’s a body of water on the west and east, and a north-south route east of “Capitol Hill” that must have been 23rd or MLK, although a long part of it is somehow a couplet. But the map was not very well in focus so it was hard to be 100% sure it was Seattle.

  2. Great film! That really was what city life looked like ’til the end of my high school years, and I loved it. Especially both the electric transit and the cars. One point I think it’s hard to grasp today: I think thqt, like me, a lot of people took it for granted that there would always be both kinds of transportation available.

    Remember that in the period shown, transit was still taking the weight off car travel- making it very hard for most people to imagine what would happen if it completely went away. Like a lot of bad things: failure of the imagination.

    I’m not leaving out the powerful industrial, commercial, and governmental forces that were at work- though the film itself was produced by a huge corporation in the business of electricity, lobbying to sell more motors. Now they sell weapons and bank loans too, don’t they?

    Real question for transit advocates is: what was there about the lifestyle shown here that persuaded so many people to permanently drive away from it? But to me, key lesson is also that even without disaster or coercion, whole countries full of people can decide to change their way of life if they think they can find a better one.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Back then, smoking was accepted in virtually any public place, including transit buses. If you wanted to get somewhere without smelling cigarette smoke, car, bike, and walk were the only options.

    2. “a lot of people took it for granted that there would always be both kinds of transportation available.”

      That’s it. They didn’t foresee that the existing public transportation would be eliminated, or how suburbanization would turn cities inside out. To be fair, how could they imagine something they’d never experienced and had never happened before?

      We had our own local example with 520. When it was built in the early 1970s, people assumed it would speed up trips for existing residents, and cause a gradual, modest growth on the Eastside. Instead growth exploded, and the tolls were eliminated eight years when they’d raised enough money to pay off the bonds.

      Christopher Leinberger notes that in 1952 when this film was made, most people dreamed of suburbia but they still lived in 1920s urban housing or streetcar suburbs, with corner stores and pedestrian-friendly downtowns. House construction had halted during the Depression and the war, and had only restarted in 1945. So “Leave It to Beaver” was not how most people lived but how they wanted to live. It was only in the late 1970s or early 80s that the majority of people lived in suburbia, and only Generation X that actually grew up in suburbia.

      And it was only ten years after that until TV shows changed, with “Seinfeld” in 1989 portraying the city as a fun place, and other shows portraying suburbia as boring and like a prison.

      1. The Evergreen floating bridge opened in 1963. Our family bought the property in Bellevue in 1958; the same year Nordstrom opened a branch at Bellevue Square (JC Penny was already there). Our house was one of the first “new” houses built in this neighborhood back in 1961 but photo records from King County show our old neighbors to the north predating our home (which is built on part of the foundation of the original farm house. Bridle Trails was built out by the mid 70’s. The neighbors house was raised and replaced with a mansion in 1988 which was at the start of the second wave of suburbia. Most of Seattle is built around the automobile (Dick’s opened in 1954). After the economy rebounded following WWII everyone wanted a car.

      2. It was open that early? I moved here in 1972 and I thought it has been open for just a few years. But I was six at the time so I had no concept that the bridge hadn’t always existed.

  3. I’ve been thinking about all the efficiencies Metro could achieve through means other than cutting service, and how it compares to their new goal of cutting 100,000 service hours.

    First, let me make clear that I’m not talking about reducing opportunities for breaks. Drivers have a tough job requiring their constant attention, get to deal with fare cheaters without immediate backup, and now get to play social worker for kids. Don’t cut their breaks.

    Let’s start with the service-hour math of eliminating the Ride Free Zone. Metro’s study numbers estimated a savings of 22 daily service hours from eliminating pay-after-you-shove-to-exit. That comes out to over 5000 annual service hours saved, or 5% of Metro’s service-hour reduction target over the next two years.

    On the flip-side of that coin is the 47-70 daily service hours estimated to be wasted on bus congestion if the downtown core converts to a standard pay-at-the-front-as-you-board format. I’m cautiously confident Metro isn’t seriously considering that. Installing the ORCA readers and TVMs necessary to eliminate most of the congestion would prevent a 10-15,000 annual service hour increase.
    .

    On a side note about the TVMs: It ought to only be necessary to install one per stop. Yes, there may be occasional breakdowns, but riders trying to pay cash at the machine can walk or catch one of the free-designated buses to the next stop, or they can just go get an ORCA card or load the ORCA they already have with e-purse.

    With a cash surcharge applied both to boardings and to using the TVMs, that would maximize people’s effort to get and use ORCA e-purse, reduce the lines at TVMs to just occasional riders, and minimize the number of TVMs needed to make the downtown core a mandatory off-board payment zone.

    Using the FRZ transition to encourage ORCA use throughout the rest of the system should save additional service hours.
    .

    Eliminating some of the goofy loop-de-loop specialty stops could be another major source of service hour savings. Take the Olsen-Meyer P&R for example. That stop adds approximately ten minutes to each weekday round trip on the 60. With 45 daily round trips, that’s over 7 hours a day to provide that specialty service. What really kills me about that stop is that it takes Arrowhead Gardens residents just as long to walk to the Olsen-Meyer P&R bus stop shelter as it would to walk to an on-street stop on Olsen Pl SW. This waste comes out to approximately 50 hours a week, or over 2500 hours a year, which translates to 2.5% of the service-hour reduction goal over the next two years.

    Let me put it another way: This one goofy loop-de-loop stop uses almost as many service hours as the 42 or 38, and provides even less real service. I doubt anyone at Arrowheads Gardens would put up a banner saying “Save the Olsen-Meyer P&R stop! Call King County now!” if Metro decided to replace it with an on-street stop.

    There are dozens of other ridiculous front-door, pull-into-a-parking-lot stops that ought to be reconsidered, and could add up a big chunk of the service-hour-reduction goal. But in the case of P&Rs like this, it isn’t even front-door service.

    1. “Eliminating some of the goofy loop-de-loop specialty stops could be another major source of service hour savings.”

      The presence goofy loop-de-loop stops is one of my biggest complaints about the system today as, besides wasting service hours, the also waste the time of any passengers passing through. They also have the potential to cause a lot of confusion.

      For example, at South Kirkland park-and-ride, they have an idiotic arrangement where not only do buses have to leave the street, but the northbound and southbound buses share the same stop. This not only makes it very easy to accidentally get on the bus going the wrong direction, but it also means that a northbound bus gets stuck behind long lines of people boarding a southbound bus, and vice-versa. If they simply had regular street stops along 108th Ave none of these issues would be a problem. And as an additional bonus, the land that is currently used by the bus bays could be repurposed for retail space, or even additional parking.

      As to the problem of crossing 108th to get to the northbound stop, we have a wonderful invention called a crosswalk to address this. Sadly, the proposed redevelopment of South Kirkland park-and-ride does absolutely nothing to address this.

      1. But seriously, the S Kirkland P&R is the least opportunely place P&R ever. It’s just far enough from 520 that busses going east-west on it can’t stop there, which means we have to have routes (like the 249) that go way out of their way to serve it.

      2. For apartment residents there, having the P&R users park closer to the street would mean shorter walks to their cars;)

        But enough of the lack of analysis that went into designing this pricey bus stop. I’d like to know where Jane Hague and Richard Mitchell stand on turning this loop-de-loop stop into a faster on-street stop.

      3. There’s a considerable slope on 108th NE at the entrance of the P&R. It wouuldn’t be the best place for a bus stop.

        I think the bus loop is relocated in the TOD plan to better serve the proposed new buildings. Not an ideal solution, but better than the current situation.

      4. As to total elevation difference between the parking lot and the street is only 10-15 feet, a small stairway, plus a wheelchair ramp should be sufficient. At any rate, the walk from the car to the bus stop would still be shorter than it would be catching the 554 at Eastgate.

        In any case, if we want to keep buses moving, we need to get rid of the loop entirely, not move it around. Besides all the reasons I mentioned above about the loop making service slower and less reliable all around, making buses do the loop-de-loop also encourages people to drive the park-and-ride and catch the 255 there, rather than catch the same 255 bus at a stop closer to home. If the bus stayed on the street, the dwell time at bus stops along the way would be offset by the time saved by not having to drive through the parking lot to find a space. As it is, you have to pay the time cost of going into the parking lot whether you drive there or not, so you may as well drive there if it lets you leave home 5 minutes later and catch the same bus. In the aggregate, the result is greater pressure on availability of parking spaces, which limits the ability of the parking lot to attract users that live further from a 255 bus stop that need the parking spaces there more.

      5. I wasn’t thinking of the elevation difference between the P&R and the street, but of the grade change within the bus stop zone as the problem. Would it be possible to load a wheelchair at that location? If the bus goes into the P&R, there is a flat area to load ADA passengers.

      6. I think region-wide all the transit agencies need to set out on a program to evalue current P&R lots, Sounder Stations, and transit centers, and consolidate those facilities into fewer facilties with structured parking, and TOD where approprate (Sounder stations especally). Metro is notorious for building new surface P&R lots all over the place to meet demands, often at the expense of having to dedicate bus service or significantly alter exisiting bus service to serve these new lots. Sound Transit, has a bad habbit of building one (or more)facilities in an area, sometimes serving diffrent markets (Sounder vs. bus) or sometimes as auxilarys to exiting lots that are beyond capasity. Long story short, if we consolidated these facilities with high end structured parking (12-2400 car range, not these 600 car things ST likes to build) and close the redundant properties, will we actually come out ahead both service wise and maintenace wise? Big changes for a lot of people, probally some signifcant investment involved but i think the outcome would be worth it.

      7. What if Metro moved the 255 to travel down NE 38th Pl? There could be fairly level on-street stops. It could continue via Lake Washington Blvd, and Lakeview Drive to either State Street or to 108th/6th St. That way it would serve Carillon Point and some of the apartments/condos on Lake Washington Blvd and Lakeview Drive. The current routing from the P&R on 108th Ave is extremely low density and must be low ridership. Seems like the time savings from dropping the P&R loop could be redeployed to serve more riders. In the long run, route 255 should terminate at the Kirkland Transit Center anyway, with timed transfer to a local route that serves Market St/Juanita. Ridership doesn’t warrant sending 60-foot coaches on that local service.

      8. I have never understood why there was a bus on 108th in the first place. Shouldn’t they all be on Lake Washington Blvd? But I’ve heard it’s because Lake Wash Blvd gets backed up with traffic too much.

    2. What do you think about OTC? On the one hand, the 545’s weekday PM diversion easily costs 5-10 minutes over the straight route down 520. On the other hand, there are a *lot* of MSFTies who board the bus there. Microsoft shuttles drop people off every few seconds, and there isn’t really any reasonable place for those shuttles to go on the other side of 520.

      So I guess I’m asking, what do you think of diversions like these? Do you think they’re never worthwhile? Or do you think that high enough levels of demand at a given stop can make them worth it?

      It’s also interesting to note that the 542, which doesn’t make this diversion, has much lower ridership. It’s unclear how much of this is because of lacking the diversion, and how much is because people want to go downtown, but based on the number of people I generally see exiting the bus at Montlake, I’m guessing the former is a pretty big deal.

      1. You raise a good point, Aleks.

        The ideal is to move all the stops out to the street to retain connectivity while decreasing travel time, consolidate buses going to the same destinations at one stop, and use the off-street area for terminal stops next to the street, layover space, and other converted uses.

        If OTC could be converted into a 3rd-Ave-style (or what I hope 3rd Ave will become) off-board payment zone, that would be awesome!

        I hope ST will have its architectural engineers put their minds to how to combine a high-volume bus street with quick connectivity to the train station. But then, a huge chunk of those trips currently on buses will become train trips, possibly including most of the 542 trips.

        Or maybe Microsoft will decide to uproot and move all its facilities overseas between now and then. I wouldn’t blame them. Somebody has to control the costs on all these highly-paid unionized computer geeks.

      2. I hope ST will have its architectural engineers put their minds to how to combine a high-volume bus street with quick connectivity to the train station. But then, a huge chunk of those trips currently on buses will become train trips, possibly including most of the 542 trips.

        Actually, I think exactly the opposite will happen. The scenario I envision is that the 545 will be eliminated or made peak-only when East Link reaches Overlake, and the 542 will pick up a lot of its hours in order to close the loop between Overlake and UW Station.

        I’m very curious to see how they route buses to serve Overlake Station when it opens. I’m guessing via a loop-de-loop like the 545 currently does.

  4. Hyundai Hypes Hydrogen on Cross-Country Cruise

    The big pitch for hydrogen is, of course, that it offers the zero tailpipe emissions and energy independence of battery electric vehicles without the limited range and long recharge time. You can fill the Tucson’s tank quite quickly, and it has a range of 650 kilometers (roughly 404 miles). Hyundai says it gets the equivalent of 70 mpg, or more than twice the highway fuel economy of a four-cylinder Tucson.

    Hyundai isn’t alone in preaching the hydrogen gospel. Honda’s been leasing the Clarity for a couple of years, and both Mercedes-Benz and Toyota plan to offer fuel cell vehicles for sale in 2015. The two automakers are shooting for a price in the $50,000 ballpark. The price is driven in large part by the fuel cells, which use rare materials like platinum.

    http://www.wired.com/autopia/2011/09/hyundai-hydrogen/

  5. I know someone brought this up yesterday, but it was in an inappropriate topic, so I’ll say it again:

    How worried should we be about I-1125? It looks like it might pass based on poll numbers – does that really mean East Link will be shut down? It just sounds so absurd that a critical project that will connect the region’s two biggest job centers might not happen because of this. How can the rest of the state decide about our transit system, based on a misleading initiative that presents itself as “anti-tolling”.

    Why has the “yes” campaign raised millions while “no” has raised $67,000? Not be an alarmist, but I agree that we should be more worried and fighting harder to make sure it doesn’t pass.

    1. Given that they are replacing the Evergreen Floating Bridge, I’m curious why they didn’t plan on running LINK across there instead of I-90.

      It would seem to be that if you are building a brand new bridge, you could also accommodate two full light rail lanes with the latest and greatest technologies. and short cut right into Bellevue, Redmond and Overlake along 520 without ever having to come up through South Bellevue at all.

      1. Ok, I read it and I don’t find the arguments compelling at all!
        Most of them make no sense and can easily be turned around to make the 520 the better choice.

        1. Direct connection

        This doesn’t make any sense…so what if Eastside trains come in from the North…in fact, we’re already building a tunnel to Capital Hill and a tunnel in the U. District. Maybe the U. District should be an interchange point? Do we know if most commuters will be Microsofties going from North Seattle? How can you decide these things if you don’t know your audience?

        2. Significantly North of Downtown Bellevue.

        So what…I-90 is “significantly south of downtown Bellevue”.

        And who goes to Downtown Bellevue anyway? I bet most people would be happier with a big free parking lot somewhere near Bel-Kirk Road. And the other half will be happy with the shortest route to Microsoft’s campus near Overlake.

        #3 “It’s much simpler to…”

        Look, if that were the design philosophy, then it would have been much simpler to just go from the Airport up I-5 or 99 right into the city instead of building a crazy roller coaster through tumbleweed stops in South Seattle.

        Obviously curves and U’s are part of railroad design…they don’t just go in straight lines.

        #4.

        Not building a LINK specific crossing with the new 520 seems an insane waste of opportunity. Even if I-90 was built years ago with “light rail” in mind, look at the tunnel. It was built with light rail in mind and they still had to tear up the track and retrofit it. Only now do we know the specific technology we’re using…LINK. Now would be a better time to plan a customized bridge that goes to 520…a corridor that is much more connected to the commercial areas where people would want to commute to or from (even if that means a parking lot).

      2. 1. Because that will result in overcrowded trains. Read it again and look at the illustration.

        2. The thousands of people who ride the 550 every day. And downtown Bellevue is a major employment, retail center, growing residential neighborhood and transit hub.

      3. Well I guess the question is “which bridge should it go over first?”, with the emphasis on “first”. I look forward to the day when both bridges have Link…until then the system will be problematic: why would anyone (except us rail fans) want to ride from Northgate or Lynwood, thru Capitol Hill, each of the downtown stations, over onto Mercer I, and then all the way up Factoria to downtown Bellevue? Or the proposed Bel-Red district? Redmond itself? Each time I try to add up the stops, I lose count…that is a ton of stations.

        If not 520, then perhaps a line from Ald Mall/B-E HWY down 405 would be the answer…so you would have Eastlink-I90 coming in from the south, and NE Link coming down 405. I would imagine NE Link would have a considerable draw.

      4. Anon,

        I still have hopes that someone will eventually come to their senses, and enable seamless transfers from UW Station to 520 buses. In that case, that’s clearly what any North Link riders would do to get to the Eastside.

        As far as NE Link, I think it’s highly questionable whether a long line that completely bypasses Seattle could ever show the kind of strong all-day demand that you should have to justify the capital expense of building rail. To me, that corridor sounds more like a commuter railroad. I have nothing against commuter railroads, but there are *much* better uses of our money.

      5. @Aleks: as much as I hate it, see this document for a very good explanation of why there will be no seamless bus-rail connections at the Montlake Triangle.

        The UW Station is simply in a bad location.

      6. Matt,

        I admit I didn’t read through every line of the document, but I’m not seeing how this precludes anything. That’s because this plan explicitly does not consider the existence of North Link. In contrast, I’m most concerned about what happens when North Link comes online.

        More to the point, I don’t particularly care about enabling bus-to-bus connections at UW Station. Those can happen anywhere, and on the street is probably better. I’m also not interested in connecting riders of through buses to the train, since almost without exception, those connections can be better made elsewhere (at U-District station from the north, or downtown/Mount Baker from the south). I just want to connect train riders with end buses.

        Given all that, here’s my proposal, once we have North Link:

        – Build a transit center, as described in Option E.
        – Reroute all northbound and highway-bound buses with a terminus in the U-District (including 520, Community/Pierce Transit, and those weird peak-only buses like the 133 and 167) to terminate at this transit center.
        – Completely ignore the through-buses, which includes the 25, 43/44, 48, and nothing else. (With proposed restructures, that would only include the 43 and 48S.)

        Once we have U-Link and North Link, UW Station is a very logical place to terminate buses. A transit center, as described in Option E, would also be a perfect place for buses to layover. From the north, this could include the 48N, 72/372, 373, 65/67/68, 75, and (if it doesn’t get rerouted to Children’s) the non-through-routed 44. From the east, this could include all of the 520 buses during non-peak.

        This plan would enable seamless transfers at UW Station between Link and every *unique* destination — by which I mean, every destination for which the best way to get there is by going through Montlake, regardless of where in the city you live. (This includes all 520 destinations, as well as many places in NE Seattle.)

        I admit that my plan would not enable transfers between the 43/48 and any of these, but to be honest, I don’t really care. Most of those riders are heading to/from the U-District, not anywhere else. When you can take a train from Capitol Hill to Montlake, the number will be even smaller. We don’t need to build a transit system around the few who remain. (And it’s not like the current recommended alternative serves them any better.)

      7. Gah, somehow this ended up in the wrong place.

        Reroute all northbound and highway-bound buses with a terminus in the U-District (including 520, Community/Pierce Transit, and those weird peak-only buses like the 133 and 167) to terminate at this transit center.

        That is a terrible idea. Husky Stadium is not the U-District. You’re suggesting changing routes that currently serve the dense residential and commercial center west of 15th to instead only serve the extreme southeastern corner of the UW campus.

        I looked through all Metro/ST routes that terminate in the “U-District” and I couldn’t find any that serve the Triangle without also serving the U-District proper. When the 43 and 44 are not through-routed, they overlap so that both of them serve both destinations. The 542 has always gone up 15th to 50th, and was recently extended to Green Lake.

        You’re suggesting booting people off the bus and on to the train for a one-stop journey (or a one-mile walk through a university campus that replaces the street grid with winding streets that belong in the suburbs). That’s not good network design.

      8. Matt,

        I’m actually not proposing to route *any* buses away from the U-District that currently travel there. But I was unclear. So let me explain.

        First, I’m suggesting we make this change *during off-peak*. I admit I didn’t make this sufficiently clear. But I think it’s pretty much a given that Metro will run duplicate routes during peak, one to downtown and another to the U-District, until the end of time, and that’s how it should be. For 520-UW buses that are currently all-day (just the 271, I think), I’m not proposing to terminate those at the station; that should have been included in my list of all-day through-routed buses.

        Also, I’m obviously not suggesting that any northbound routes bypass the U-District. Something like the 48N, 75, etc. would continue to travel as they do now, except that their terminus would be next to the light rail station, instead of in the middle of UW’s campus, or somewhere else like that. It’s only the 520 buses that would require a transfer to get to the U-District during off-peak, *like they already do*.

        Currently — and with every proposal I’ve seen — the 520 buses [will] stop at Montlake off-peak, and that will be how we serve the U-District. (This is already pretty much true, the sole exception being the 271.) This means that everyone who wants to get to the U-District has to switch to the 43/48. Because the freeway lid will be far away, this means that most of these riders will have to take a 10-minute infrequent bus ride to cover the distance, rather than a 3-minute frequent train ride. It’s simply not fair to say that a one-stop journey is unacceptable, when the alternative is the same transfer to the same journey, just on a vehicle that makes more stops!

        It’s true that, compared to the plan of record, this plan would require a transfer at UW Station to get downtown. But now we’re talking about replacing a 15-minute slog down I-5 and surface streets with a 6-minute hop on a grade-separated train. That’s almost a no-brainer.

        Given all this — and the associated cost savings — it seems like my proposal is a strict improvement both on what we have now, and on what we’re predicted to have once we get North Link and the new 520 bridge, for downtown and UW riders alike.

        Now, you could say this isn’t good enough, and demand that all the buses that currently go downtown at off-peak instead go to the U-District, but I’m just not sure this is a worthwhile use of money. Yes, the one-stop ride is annoying, but not everyone will be making it: some people will go south to Capitol Hill or downtown, some will continue north to Northgate, some will take a bus north to U-Village, some will simply walk to their destination (e.g. anywhere on the south side of campus). And ultimately, all of those extra service hours are hours that we can’t spend on improving the frequency of Link, or RapidRide, or other frequent arterial routes. (And finally, downtown is still a bigger destination! So if it’s okay for downtown-bound riders to transfer for a short hop, then surely it’s okay for the smaller number of U-District riders to transfer as well.)

      9. Also, it’s worth noting that the approach of having suburban buses terminate at the first available transfer point is hardly unprecedented. Boston, for example, has dozens of express buses which terminate at Haymarket Station, even though it’s a mere 0.7 miles (and two subway stops) from Park Street, the closest analogue to our CBD. Many other buses terminate at Oak Grove, Wonderland, Alewife, Quincy/Braintree, and other suburban P&Rs.

        To the contrary, I’d argue that Seattle is the rare bird that runs buses from suburbs all the way through downtown all-day, while at the same time struggling to maintain 15-minute all-day service on its core urban routes.

      10. Aleks,

        Ah, that makes a little more sense.

        Currently — and with every proposal I’ve seen — the 520 buses [will] stop at Montlake off-peak, and that will be how we serve the U-District.

        Do you have links to those proposals? Because I know I had heard that at one point, but then I look at the design of the Montlake interchange as shown earlier in that document I linked to earlier, and I see absolutely no way that buses from could stop at Montlake and continue to the Eastside, and the westbound ramp doesn’t look like it would support stopping westbound either. My understanding of the POR is that there will be downtown-Eastside buses and UW-Eastside buses, plain and simple. The Montlake Freeway Station will be completely dead.

        If I understand your proposal, the only off-peak routes that would qualify would be the 255 and the 545. During peak there are a half-dozen more. As I stated earlier in this thread I think ST will drop off-peak service on the 545 once East Link opens and convert the 542 to all-day service. But who knows if Metro would have the courage to send the 255 to the UW.

      11. The biggest argument for I-90 is that the voters already voted for it. Trying to start all over and switch it to 520 would be the same kind of battle as pro-DBT and anti-DBT, with a lot of people feeling, “A decision’s been made, let’s just do it rather than endlessly going around in circles in the ‘Seattle process’.”

      12. Do you have links to those proposals?

        From the Final EIS, page 70:

        “New Montlake lid bus stops will remain open for all buses in the off-peak period, allowing the flyer stop functions to remain as today.”

    2. We should be very alarmed. Give money, talk to your friends and neighbours, volunteer, don’t shop at Bellevue Sq, talk to your friends and neighbours again, give more money.

    3. As I said in the other thread, it may or may not be a real threat, but if it happens it’s not the end of the world. The most vital part of Link is SeaTac – Northgate. That’s the area that’s most prepared for rapid transit, and where a car-free existence is most viable. Seattle Link will also have a major time advantage over the 71/72/73 for UW, 43/49 (for Capitol Hill), 7 and 48 (for southern Rainier), and 41 (half-hourly evenings/Sundays). East Link will have less of a time advantage over the 550 and Bellevue-Redmond buses (not the B but a Bel-Red bus). If Link fails we can push for more frequency on those routes. I’d also suggest converting the express lanes to two-way HOV only, to deal with the reverse commute problem.

      1. “I’d also suggest converting the express lanes to two-way HOV only, to deal with the reverse commute problem.”

        That would be useful now, but once NorthLink is built, a transfer to a very high-frequency train at Northgate would probably be better. I think a better capitol project would be a direct-access ramp from the I-5 south HOV lane that would go straight to the transit center, bypassing all the stoplights and traffic associated with Northgate Mall. If we did this, the zillions of express buses that provide a peak-only-one-seat ride to downtown from every conceivable neighborhood could drop everybody off at Northgate instead of fighting traffic all the way to downtown. As even the express lanes can sometimes be a bit congested, this may actually save a little bit of time. For people who aren’t going all the way downtown, it would save LOTS of time and would be a difference maker in whether transit is usable or not. Tell someone who lives in Lynnwood and works in Northgate that they have to go all the way downtown and backtrack on the 41, they’ll reply that they’ll just drive instead. But if they have the option of getting off earlier, they might decide the bus is worth using.

      2. Currently, all 520 buses are stuck in GP traffic all the way from downtown to I-405 (going east), or from Evergreen Point to downtown (going west). The 545 and 255 are extremely well-used routes, and so having them stuck in traffic like that is very inefficient. And neither North Link nor East Link will replace the need for these buses.

        If the I-5 express lanes were converted to 2-way HOV, and they were connected to 520 (in all four direction-pairs, but especially 2-way from downtown to the Eastside), that would speed up these trips enormously, and would undoubtedly convince a lot of people to give the bus a second look.

      3. I was talking about the express lanes on I-90. In East Link fails, why not make the express lanes two-way rather than reversible? The reverse commute on I-90 is as big as the traditional commute, but the buses get stuck in traffic because there’s no express lanes.

    4. I’ve heard that 1125 couldn’t actually shut down East Link, because the agreements for light rail on I-90 are already completed, some of them dating back to before the bridge was even built. No matter what initiative passes this year, it won’t retroactively invalidate those agreements. It could jeopardize future projects, but this one is in the bank, so to speak. I wish I could remember where I heard that, though.

      We got federal funding for the I-90 bridge when it was built, and that federal funding was contingent upon the express lanes being able to be converted to rail in the future (If only congress today was so transit-friendly). If the state goes ahead and says we can’t use the bridge for rail, the feds might end up asking for their money back.

      This is all based on what I can vaguely remember over dinner, though. If anyone wants to fact check me, please do so. And pass the salt.

      1. Not even close to reality. The Memorandum has no legal binding and it’s been modified over the years. Nothing when the bridge was built specified rail. When WSDOT signs a lease to ST for airspace and it’s approved by the Federal Highway Administration then there’s something with legal standing. That’s years and court cases away.

    5. Reroute all northbound and highway-bound buses with a terminus in the U-District (including 520, Community/Pierce Transit, and those weird peak-only buses like the 133 and 167) to terminate at this transit center.

      That is a terrible idea. Husky Stadium is not the U-District. You’re suggesting changing routes that currently serve the dense residential and commercial center west of 15th to instead serve the extreme southeastern corner of the UW campus.

      I looked through all Metro/ST routes that terminate in the “U-District” and I couldn’t find any that serve the Triangle without also serving the U-District proper. When the 43 and 44 are not through-routed, they overlap so that both of them serve both destinations. The 542 has always gone up 15th to 50th, and was recently extended to Green Lake.

      You’re suggesting booting people off the bus and on to the train for a one-stop journey. That’s not good network design.

  6. I’ve noticed a pattern from STB bloggers, many of whom live in the suburbs or the outskirts of Seattle, posting pieces that appear to suggest they know what’s best for other areas, far from where they live. Just recently, some guy who lives up in north Seattle proposed that a Rainier Valley route be eliminated. I got the feeling that he didn’t even interview any riders from the Rainier Valley before writing his post.

    I have a challenge for STB bloggers. How about, for a change, suggesting a route in YOUR neighborhood be eliminated. A route that you regularly take. I am totally serious about this. And I don’t want to hear any snarky backsass to my comment. What I want to see in the very near future is for someone to take-up my challenge. Earn my respect. Prove to me you can walk the talk.

    And don’t hide behind your graphs and charts to justify your nimbism. What’s a route in your neighborhood that you regularly take should be axed by Metro?

    1. The routes that I would propose for elimination are the routes that are not only redundant to other routes, but are inferior to the other available alternatives for almost every conceivable trip long enough to make the bus worth using at all. I have at least one such route in my neighborhood. But because of the above description of it, I never ride it.

      So, I don’t think the question “What’s a route in your neighborhood that you regularly take should be axed by Metro” is quite fair.

    2. I’ll take a quick stab. I’ve been Ok with Metro cutting off the loop of the 222 that comes through Beaux Arts where I live. I regularly take this route to work but recognize that the short loop where I live is where the 222 is relatively empty. Making the 222 a more direct connection between Factoria and DT Bellevue will improve productivity. (Moving the 240 out of that corridor doesn’t hurt either :)

      During the comment period I gave Metro feedback indicating that I’d miss the 222 but understood that the changes would improve productivity and that I supported the change despite losing convenient service to work.

      I suspect that’s not good enough for you, but there you go…

    3. I have a couple challenges for Sam:

      Go back and read my posts where I advocate for eliminating the 134 that runs through my neighborhood.

      And cut out the ad homs.

    4. Don’t forget to put your challenge to Norman. He’s been advocating for elimination of Rainier Valley’s highest-ridership route.

    5. “many of whom live in the suburbs or the outskirts of Seattle”

      False.

      That’s 7 Seattle (mostly near downtown) vs 2 Eastside.

      “some guy who lives up in north Seattle proposed that a Rainier Valley route be eliminated.”

      If you’re gonna name names, name ’em because otherwise you’re making things up.

      Since I haven’t written anything about cutting service in my neighborhood, a suburb outside Bothell, I’ll say this.

      Cut the redundant 252, 257 commuter routes that pass in front of my house and replace it with more runs on the 311 and timed local connections on the 236/238.

      Martin, Bruce, and Zach already wrote about the neighborhoods they live in.

      Challenge completed.

    6. Sam,

      For someone who’s as smart as you, and is an award-winning internationally respected transportation expert*, it’s interesting how much your opinions seem to line up with those of NIMBYs.

      It’s also interesting to note that you’ve never provided any documentation of your credentials, in stark contrast to all of this blog’s official contributors. And I wonder, if you really are an award-winning internationally respected transporation expert (let’s say AWIRTE, for short), why do you even bother posting to the Seattle Transit Blog anonymously? Greg Nickels and Mike McGinn, and Kevin Desmond have all posted here under their real names without reservation, so you must be an even bigger deal than them. Why not just ignore us and give your recommendations to Metro directly? Surely there are better ways to exert your influence than debating a bunch of amateur enthusiasts.

    7. The most recent set of posts (aside from the one about the 2) have all been about routes I use frequently (48, 4, tangentially the 7, the 42 if it were useful, 36 and 60). While I’ve objected pretty strenuously at times, generally I could see the point being made. So I didnt write the posts (to fulfill your condition of proposing changes to routes in my neighborhood) but not everyone sees this as some horrible anti-user exercise.

      As an aside, one place where transit orgs fall down (less so advocacy groups like STB) is when service re-org shows up the emphasis is (not surprisingly) on what is going away and less on what we get. For instance, if Metro were to take Bruce’s suggestion for the 3/4 changes, they should really talk up frequency and reliability improvements. The big red signs about service changes absolutely should include the specific why (e.g. A specific estimated value for future on time performance thru First Hill, the new headways,) and what other options a user has (information on alternate routes — including their frequencies and stop locations, etc.)

    8. How about, for a change, suggesting a route in YOUR neighborhood be eliminated.

      Been there, done that. I live downtown and every route I’ve suggested deleting or restructuring in a major way has been a route that serves the CBD and I’ve used regularly, except for the 42, which Martin was pointing out the silliness of long before I came onboard.

      I’m sorry that you don’t like my charts and graphs, but I will chalk it up to a general aversion to facts and rational discussion. I look forward to ignoring more of your unhelpful comments on my future posts.

      1. It seems like I’ve ruffled some feathers with my comment. That tells me I was right on the money with my observation. If my assertion was wrong, my comment would have been ignored. Yep, I struck a nerve. That means I was right.

        I am very proud of myself.

      2. Actually, you didn’t even bother responding to the nine comments directly debunking your observation, so no, you weren’t “right on the money.”

      3. I’m thinking about compiling an STB booklet, “The Best of Sam”, with the funniest quotes by Sam, Bailo, Norman, etc.

      4. Mike, my favorite Sam quote (which I saved for posterity) is: “Do I consider myself some sort of hero? That’s not for me to say, but yes I do.”

  7. Also, I’m really confused. If we actually knew everything we did in the video 60 years ago, how the heck did we get to where we are today?

    1. It was one contrary voice in a sea of “More roads! Freeways! Tract houses for all! Get rid of the streetcars! Replace trains with airports!” Most people probably never saw this film.

  8. I have some questions about the policy regarding using UW tickets as busfare during Husky home football games. The Husky athletics website says, “Use your game ticket to ride metro buses, special Husky Football service buses and Sound Transit bus route 554 for free to and from Husky Stadium on game days.” However, I recall riding an eastbound 545 from downtown Seattle two years ago just after a game ended and seeing everyone on the bus just flash their tickets to the driver as they boarded and they were all let on without any problem. Is the 545 still part of this? Yesterday I took the 545 home after the game and I specifically asked the driver when I got off, “Can I use my ticket as payment?” and he said, “Yeah thank you” and let me off. What gives? Is the Husky athletic website incorrect? In my opinion, there should be free rides for the 545 as well seeing as it serves Overlake, downtown Redmond and the Bear Creek P&R which are all areas where a lot of people can board to get to the games but that’s just me. Anyone else have an opinion on this?

    As an additional question, why are some of the special event shuttles free such as regular Husky games but the Apple Cup Husky shuttles at Qwest this year will be cash only? I’m guessing the issue simply boils down to UW not paying Metro/ST some sort of subsidy for the increased ridership for certain events but it’s just another hassle and barrier to entry when you have to do all this extra hunting and searching instead of knowing that, ‘the shuttles are always free to the game’ instead of ‘oh wait…….where is the game being played? Do I need to bring cash to pay for the bus?’ I’m all for getting people on buses to these events but not making the fare structure consistent doesn’t do anyone any favors.

    1. I suppose the purpose of the “free” transit is to reduce SOV traffic in Montlake and parking nightmares on game days. A game downtown can deal with the event traffic a little bit better.

  9. We could have used public transit as the video suggested, or we could have decided to de-emphasize the Downtown for commerce. We chose the later and it gave us suburbia. Of course in places like NYC, Boston, DC, Chicago, and other cities which emphasized commerce Downtown, public transit was the solution.

    Note how the video makes the argument for removing congestion during peak times, not allday. There is no suggestion that transit should be used as anything more than a cost saving solution for building more right of way and parking.

    1. It doesn’t say peak times. And people in those days did go downtown all day to shop, especially wives who didn’t work. They couldn’t go to the mall or isolated supermarkets, because there were no malls or isolated supermarkets. So it would have to run all day. It may get shortchanged in the evening though.

  10. Zach/Bruce/Martin: With all the restructures floating around, what would you think about having a “post-STB” frequent service map post (or even just a link somewhere to a map that gets updated with every new post)? I love that you’re slowly building up a system of actual frequent routes, and I’d love to see a comprehensive map of what 10-minute service) say we would have with all the new changes. It would also be really interesting to compare that to the current system, where there would basically only be two such routes (7 and Link) :)

    1. I was thinking about this after the last restructure post. It’d be very interesting.

      It’d also be useful to combine all the data from posts and comments, and said map, put it all in one document and have everyone send said document to Metro, Dow, and their KC Councilperson, and have their friends send it to them, and their Facebook friends, and post it on their blogs, print off copies to take to meetings… etc, etc.

  11. “We’ve been trying to move traffic when the basic intent is to move people”

    Whoever said this was not only perceptive but well-intentioned. However, there’s an assumption behind the wording that explains why the good ideas presented here are taking decades to put into practice.

    In 1952, the advantage that both automobiles and the living patterns that demanded them had such appeal was that they presented millions of people with an opportunity they had never had before: the chance to move themselves.

    Sixty years later, the ideas presented in the video are the excellent first steps toward exactly that goal. We need a rhetorical reset, though: the rich and powerful should be talking about order and compliance. Liberal democrats should be the ones talking about freedom.

    Like in 1952.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I want to know why it took so long for busways and bus lanes to come into being. This film suggests busways as a solution but you really didnt have the first until the early 1970s with the El Monte busway (since devolved into the El Monte HOV lanes). Technically the first bus lanes are credited to Chicago Surface Lines in 1939, good luck finding any info on those and what happened to them. So much streetcar private right-of-way across the country was lost that could have at least been converted to busways.

    2. Last night before the Mariners game I was walking from Zeitgeist and I saw some of the black and white photos of trains on the cyclone fence outside the parking lot. There was one built by General Motors that was supposed to be light, fast (100 mph) and aerodynamic built in the 1950s. The problem was it was so light, that the ride was terrible. But then I thought…hey, General Motors…do they really want to build a train that’s better than a car? And then I thought…well, maybe, if they could make more money that way.

  12. Today, I would like to bring up a rave and a rant.

    My rave goes to Amtrak’s Coast Starlight which last Monday on Coast Starlight No. 14 achieved the remarkable feat of arriving in PDX some 20 minutes ahead of its scheduled arrival time! This hasn’t happened to me before that I have had an hour layover in Portland. So thanks to Amtrak and also to the BNSF who clearly were not much in evidence on Labor Day who made this trip a scheduling success! Also, the train was packed pretty much all of the way from Los Angeles to Seattle and I wonder if anyone has thought about adding a second train to this route that would leave SEA and LAX at night southbound and northbound (ie. at the opposite ends of the current scheduling from both cities)?

    My rant goes to Sound Transit who have appalling service to Eastgate P&R, Issaquah and Sammamish after Sounders games. Why they cannot lay on extra 554 buses to make for a pleasant post match getting home experience is beyond me. After the Real Salt Lake City game yesterday they not only crammed on stand room fans from beggining to end of the bus, but they also squeezed in some poor guy in a wheelchair. ST, please lay on extra 554 buses after Sounders afternoon and evening games. More folks won’t take public transit if you don’t.

    1. Buses should be SRO every now and again, and I’d rather have a driver who’s willing to squeeze people in rather than one who can’t be bothered to tell riders to move to the rear and instead passes up waiting customers because the coach is 3/4 full. It might not’ve been the most pleasant ride, but I’m sure a lot of riders (regardless of mobility) were glad to be squeezed in instead of being made to wait another hour for the next bus.

      I agree that ST and Metro should better anticipate and deal with crowds after large events, especially with routes that run infrequently and are easily overloaded. But unless folks were being left behind and made to wait an hour for the next 554, I don’t really see the situation you describe as a failure. Sounds more like how things should work.

      1. Actually, at the end of the Real Salt Lake City game, 554s were still on 30-minute headways. The person in front of me vowed not to take the bus again to matches. Just saying or complaining here. There is a disconnect between how you and I and most feel about transit here and how the rest of the public reacts to it.

      2. I totally hear you on the disconnect—regular transit riders get used to a lot of stuff that’s a turn-off to first-time riders, and that if we want to recruit choice riders, we need to fix those things. I just don’t think gameday (or most other special-events) riders really constitute all that big of a market, or that vowing to never again take a bus to a game means vowing to never again take a bus for the sorts of more regular trips that we really need to recruit folks for, e.g. to go shopping or to get to work.

        I also suspect that giving everyone a “pleasant” ride to/from the game would mean crippling the rest of the network, especially for weekday events when agencies have fewer spare coaches to add runs. Given the amount of profit these sorts of events pull in, I’d rather have fans demand that Sounders or Seahawks provide their own shuttles, rather than rely on public transit to handle the glut. I know the agencies get paid for the extra service hours, but I don’t like the branding issue: what you’re describing isn’t (to me) a failure of ST to its customers, but rather a failure of Sounders FC to its fans. But the buses say ST rather than Grey Lines or some other private charter company, so ST gets the blame.

      3. I agree! In fact, I think there should only be seating for those who really need to sit.

        I would only have seating on one side of the bus, just a bench running along the windows….and the rest would be combination of standing, bicycle and carriage areas and mobility challenged areas.

        The exception would be long distance commuter buses that run for 30 minutes to an hour or more.

      4. Almost all buses run for 30 minutes or more. The 15, check. The 8, check. Thirty minutes will only take you to 45th, Madison Park, and Mt Baker. I frequently have to stand on the 71/72/73 and I’m not happy about it. (Actually I get on north of 45th precisely so that I can have a seat and can read or relax rather than standing all the way to downtown.)

      5. Tim,

        You should give most of your kudos to UP. They are in charge of the Starlight all the way from LAUT to the west end of the Steel Bridge. BNSF is only responsible for the portion from the 9th Avenue crossing to Settle.

        Given their performance under the previous VERY anti-passenger CEO, they can use all the kudos they get.

        And, Tim, thanks to GW Bush public transit agencies are pretty much forbidden from providing the sort of premium-fare service that would be appropriate for end-of-game service. Metro and ST can’t afford to add extra drivers to accommodate such service if they can’t recover the FULL cost of providing it. It’s not their job.

    2. I see extra 594s line up after sporting events. If the demand for an extra 554 is there, I would venture to guess ST is willing to fill that demand.

      1. I think I answered that question – there is a demand but we could create more of a demand if we supplied more buses. I find it hard to market the 554 for others not yet using transit, if I can’t also tell them that there may not be a suitable bus waiting for fans at the end of the game. Sounders matches have predictable end times as opposed to football and baseball games which do not.

    3. I missed the last Cascades out of PDX once and they moved me over to the Coast Starlate which made me very nervous because if I get into Seattle too late I can’t make it all the way home on public transportation. When I got to PDX Union Station the Coast Starlight was already there! We boarded and was eating dinner in the dining car when it started to move. We arrived in Seattle 40 minutes early. I was in shock, I don’t know how they did it but we were cooking. That just shows how much quicker these trains could be if the freight trains just got out of the way.

    4. Amtrak pads the schedule now to raise their on-time percentage. So if there are no delays the train often arrives 30-60 minutes early.

  13. Once GPS is implemented system-wide, are there opportunities to crack down on drivers leaving early? Would it be possible to program the schedule data into the on-board computers and generate an automatic notification that tells drivers not to leave yet?

    Or perhaps by tracking bus locations vs. schedules and transmitting discrepancies to supervisors? That still happens after the fact though, which isn’t helpful to those people who missed the bus.

    This only comes to mind because it’s been a problem I’ve run into several times this weekend… and yes, I’ve made my complaints, but the system shouldn’t have to rely on customers speaking up.

    1. I would venture to guess that “leaving early” could be detected by the current beacon system. But I’ve concluded that Metro’s schedule integrity is not a high priority for managers. Buses are frequently late and often leave their start point several minutes early. That has tripped me up more than a few times when I’m trying to connect to the last 39 leaving Othello.

      To me, that means Metro is not realistically accounting for congestion experience on certain routes and building that into the schedules.

  14. Just in case someone on this site lives in Lakewood and feels like slapping someone silly here you go.

    “The man behind the first and only city initiative in Lakewood’s history now wants to stop high-speed passenger trains from rumbling through local neighborhoods.

    David Anderson plans to gather more than 5,300 signatures by Dec. 13 to qualify the initiative for the special election in May.”

    http://www.thenewstribune.com/2011/09/11/1820110/man-pushes-to-keep-high-speed.html

  15. I’d like to hear from people who have ridden (or driven) on buses in transit systems that have widespread all-door boarding and alighting, with smart-card readers at all doors.

    Does such a system improve boarding time significantly? Or is it significantly slower than off-board tapping?

    Are operators generally able to keep up with the number of passengers boarding at the back, and hear the tap beeps corresponding to those boarders? Or does that system lean heavily on fare enforcement patrols?

    1. Suggestion: use the door itself as a fare gate. Put the reader outside, and the door opens when it registers a fare. Put “touch here to exit” buttons on the inside. Perhaps even use an electric eye to let only one person pass at a time. It’s far from foolproof, but combined with occasional fare enforcement and basic driver observation should be reasonably fraud-resistant.

      1. Suggestion: use the door itself as a fare gate. Put the reader outside, and the door opens when it registers a fare.

        That sounds like a recipe for even slower boarding.

        Are operators generally able to keep up with the number of passengers boarding at the back, and hear the tap beeps corresponding to those boarders? Or does that system lean heavily on fare enforcement patrols?

        If you want fast boarding, you need fare collection and enforcement to be asynchronous with vehicle movement. The notion that the vehicle should remain stationary while people file on one-by-one and pay a fare is anathema to speed and reliability.

        For reference, I strongly recommend a trip to Munich.

  16. For the second time One Bus Away has failed me. I left the Yankees-Mariners game at Safeco at about 9:30 pm and walked to 1st avenue, hoping to catch the 132. I had taken this bus earlier from a parking lot where I left my car. I knew I had a while to wait (bus scheduled for 10pm) but was sitting all day and at the game and wanted to stretch my legs. I waited until 10pm monitoring with One Bus Away. OBA showed the wait time getting smaller and smaller, then it went negative and then the listing for the 134 at the stop disappeared! 20 minutes later, the bus had not yet arrived and so I punted and walked to 4th Avenue where there were several buses that would get me near to my destination at 1st and Dawson. This is the second time OBA behaved that way…the first while I was waiting for the 180 at Kent Station.

    I was surprised because I thought that OBA was based on real time information delivered from transponders in the buses. Yet, from my observations yesterday and a few weeks ago, this couldn’t be true.

    How do others interpret this?

    1. OBA is based on scheduled time, modified by real-time timepoint data. This is a basically a very short distance device mounted on a pole, and when a bus goes by it radios in the bus number to some central point, and the data finds its way to OBA from there. In a perfect world we’d have GPS data tracking buses, but Metro isn’t there yet.

      I often have similar problems because I’m near the beginning of a route. OBA says the 2X will be there in 10 minute, then 5 minutes, then 3, then -1, then it disappears, then it figures out the the bus hasn’t driven by the tracking device yet and it shows up as late. The bus generally appears sometime after that (the 2X drivers seem to either have an issue sleeping in, or it takes longer than expected to get back and start the route over). Of course after the bus finally shows up at that tracker, OBA will be roughly correct for the rest of the route.

      I don’t know what specifically happened with your bus, but if it’s near the beginning of the route it’s possible your bus was very late. It’s also possible that your bus hit some terrible traffic after reaching its previous tracking point. Such as might be experienced on game nights near the stadiums ;-)

    2. Metro reroutes buses off 1st Ave S to 4th Ave S after Mariners games. There should be a sign at the stop that says that.

      Metro’s tracking system is not GPS based (yet), instead it tracks based on how far the bus has travelled along a predetermined path from the odometer. Since the tracking system and OBA isn’t aware of the reroute, it assumes the bus is traveling down 1st when in fact it’s going down 4th. If Metro gets its act together and provided real-time reroute info then OBA would’ve worked and showed an alert for this stop in the app.

    3. OBA’s confusion is just one sympton of the re-route problems. The buses don’t follow the timelines on the signs very well. I’ve learned to head to a stop north of Jackson or south of Lander instead of trying to guess when the re-routes begin or end. If I want to take the 132, I jump on the next train or bus on the busway, and head south to Lander, and pray there won’t be a freight train crossing when I get off and head to 1st.

      I doubt OBA is programmed to give this kind of advice.

      1. There was a verbose sign on the bus stop that said that buses could be delayed because of Mariners traffic…but no mention of re-routing.

        This was the bus stop directly across from “Dream Girls” Gentlemen’s Club with the giant tv screen billboard. (Which made as least some of the wait time not unpleasant…)

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