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One of the more mysterious parts of the transportation budget associated with the $60 vehicle license fee is a total of $10m intended for “transit access” projects. The Transit Master Plan (about which the first open house occurs tonight, October 18th) devotes Chapter 5 to the kind of projects that this money could fund.

It’s not as meticulously engineered and costed as the bus priority corridor work in Chapter 3, but it should give readers a better understanding of what this money could accomplish.

The first part of the document is a set of policies in principles that basically read as mom-and-apple-pie to the STB set. But then, there’s a 20-year plan for some key transit facilities across the city, as indicated in the map above and spelled out below the jump:

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I started out pretty skeptical about this whole funding arena because I’m a big speed/reliability/capacity guy. It turns out, however, that a lot of these improvements will in fact make transit trips faster (see especially, off-board payment) and the rest are worthy projects even if they’re not precisely in my wheelhouse.

15 Replies to “Access to Transit in the TMP”

  1. Develop east-west linear transfer facility that prioritizes pedestrian movements between 4th avenue, the E-3 Busway station, and the Lander Street light rail station.

    YES. I have bitched about this before. SODO station, and the busway in that area, is horribly cut off from the action on 4th. If you tell people there’s a bus stop and train station a block to the east, they just look at you skeptically.

    A perfect example of where a small investment could make a big difference.

    1. Agreed. Another peeve of mine is that with the Stadium Station only having an exit to the north and the SODO station only having an exit to the south, that whole area is like a box canyon of inaccessibility.

      1. Metro’s RapidRide follies have already put the kibosh on that one. (See my larger comment below.)

        SDOT has also given us plenty of reasons to doubt their abilities to act upon these recommendations with pleasing results. Trips to any part of 1st north of Lander now require Link or service on 4th, with Royal Brougham as the most likely crossing. So WTF, SDOT? It didn’t occur to you to give pedestrians a non-spiraling, non-two-minutes-adding way down because why?

      2. FYI, the Royal Brougham project was not SDOT, it was WSDOT – it was part of the SR519 project, even though since the project has been completed, SR519 no longer uses Royal Brougham.

        But what would you prefer? Shortcut stairs? At least the sidewalk is large and on the inner side of the spiral. It could have been much worse.

      3. Yes, shortcut stairs. I know it wouldn’t be the universal design ideal, but this is a rare case where separate stairs-vs-ramp routes would actually be beneficial to all: a less able-bodied person wouldn’t be fighting the crowds, so the spiral would become faster for them and the stairs would be faster for others.

        Frankly, if they were making pedestrians go up and down already, they should have found a design that would drop them on the other side of 4th Ave S. The whole thing is a nightmare after Sounders games; after the extra minutes spent circling, the wait to cross 4th frequently leads to missed trains.

      4. (…and thanks to a very, very long light cycle, the train-missing happens all the time, not just after games.)

      5. One pet peeve is that those stations only have access from one side, and yet trains pull up in them halfway through the station. It’s not a huge deal, but wouldn’t it make more sense for trains to stop on the half of the platform closest to the one entrance?

  2. Pretty much everything here is a good idea.

    Accomplishing all or most of them would be not just a sea change for the day-to-day experience of transit usage in the city, but would thoroughly remake the look and feel of this city as experienced by a pedestrian!

    I am particularly heartened by the half-dozen mentions of pedestrian-access improvements and the insistence that they affect 1/2-mile radii (undermining the justification for maintaining milk runs). Fixing the area around the proposed streetcar stop under the Ballard Bridge (1.5 very unpleasant blocks from the corresponding RipidRide stop by the manure pile would be one of the hundred ameliorations necessary to make the “rapid streetcar” plan palatable.

    Unfortunately, the devil remains in the details, and the details remain in the dollars, and the dollars remain in the hands of those who frequently act like dolts.

    Those “(where route appropriate)”s that follow every mention of off-board payment are the primary erosion-ready crack.

    The need for Metro’s cooperation to bring many of these ideas to fruition, and Metro’s “worst practices” inertia, also endanger many of its recommendations.

    I couldn’t help but laugh upon seeing the line: “Assumes approach to downtown from West Seattle uses 4th Avenue S. at least north of Lander.”

    Sorry. Too late. Already missed that boat. RapidRide C now goes over the mid-construction viaduct, through-routed with RapidRide D (willfully screwing up both). No high-capacity SW-to-SE transit connection happening in SoDo for the forseeable future. This chart was a nice dream while it lasted.

    1. This table looks like it might be a few years old, if Mount Baker in the Multimodal Hub category is listed as “Future”, but everything else in that category is “Existing”.

      1. Okay, just saw Mount Baker is listed as “existing” in the “Transportation Center” category, but that just begs the question of what the difference is, since Link is already there.

      2. With regards to Mt. Baker station, I’d like to see the pedestrian bridge over Ranier Ave. connect directly to the station platform, rather than forcing people to go down, cross the street, then go back up again.

      3. With very few exceptions*, pedestrian bridges are very bad ideas. They reinforce the notion that streets are for cars alone and that the powers that be will go to any lengths — even building a huge piece of infrastructure — to keep cars from having to slow down or share.

        What Mt. Baker station needs is a gigantic crosswalk directly connecting the rail stop to the bus stops… and a signal that doesn’t keep pedestrians at bay for multiple minutes between legal crossings.

        It also needs whatever development replaces this crap to allow for direct passage from the crosswalk to the escalator/elevator landings (under the middle of the platform) so as to eliminated all the walking around.

        This latter improvement is supposedly already in the works. Hopefully, Mt. Baker Transit Center being listed under “future” rather than “existing” suggests a commitment to completely overhauling both the bus depot as well as the streets around it.

      4. *(My above wish that the Royal Brougham crossing had continued across 4th is one of those exceptions. If we already “had” to grade-separate the pedestrians from the BNSF main line, there was no reason to return to grade to cross 4th. 4th offers no other street-level activity to encourage on-the-ground pedestrianism, and the light cycle is likely to forever favor cars. It should have just been bypassed. But this is the exception that proves the rule.)

      5. They talked a while ago about the possibility of a streetcar down Rainier from Jackson to Mount Baker. Put on the back-burner since the original Streetcar Network study a few years ago, but I think it could make a reappearance sometime in the next couple decades, especially if various parts of that street become developed. And it would make a good eventual extension all the way down Rainier.

  3. I know some well-intended neighbors on Beacon Hill are pushing hard for stoplighting the crosswalks at Beacon Hill Station.

    I don’t look forward to this happening, as people will then miss buses due to cars having ROW priority at the intersection, instead of stopping for crosswalk users.

    If there is to be a stoplighted crosswalk, it should be mid-block, at least a bus length to the south of the southbound bus bay. Operators there seem to hate it when people jaywalk midblock — right in front of the buses — for good reason.

    This may need to be rethought when, in the distant future, Beacon Hill takes down the “no new residents welcome” sign around BHS.

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