Paula Hammond, Greg Nickels and Joni Earl (WSDOT)

I’m happy to announce that in addition to Joni Earl, Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond will be joining us on November 17th to discuss women in transportation and other topics, tolling being a timely topic. I hope I’m not the only one getting super excited for this event.

Also please note that we have secured a location. The event will be held in the 40th floor conference center in the Columbia Tower (701 Fifth Avenue). Please be on time as we’ll start promptly at 6:00 pm. If you’re early you can enjoy the view from the 40th floor Starbucks, easily one of my favorite ways to kill time downtown. The later than normal start time was to ensure that those not in Seattle proper have time to get to the event without leaving work early.

If you have not already done so please RSVP on the previous event announcement.

21 Replies to “STB Meetup: Additional Guest Speaker, Location Confirmed”

  1. I am bummed that I can’t make it.

    With both Joni Earl & Paula Hammond there – can someone push them on making the design of the western part of 520 such that the Montlake Freeway station can be retained. Not the stop on the lid with traffic lights and congestion, but a stop that functions like it does today, and like Rainier Ave, Evergreen Point & Yarrow Point?

    Reasons: great north-south transfers to high frequency routes like 43 & 48; fairly easy transfer to Link; and the only way for efficient operations of “the bus transit corridor”. It isn’t cost effective to split downtown from U-District service except maybe at peak times. Serving via the lid slows down service, probably means inconsistent service patterns, etc. Prioritize a design that keeps it working the way it does today, the way Rainier Ave & Evergreen Point work – Montlake deserves to a be proper stop on the “bus rapid transit corridor” which the 520 freeway is marketed as.

    1. That is a great question, especially with both of them in the room. I’ll make sure to ask this.

    2. I’d like Paula to commit to allowing HOV lanes on Montlake Blvd / 25th Ave NE for the stretch where it is a state highway.

      I actually prefer making UW Station the connection over keeping the Montlake Freeway Station, since making the connection there allows more riders to be within a very short walk of their final destinations without a transfer.

      These lanes wouldn’t just be useful to Kirkland buses, but to buses serving various northeast Seattle corridors.

      I’d still like to see mid-day, evening, and weekend SR 520 service all go to UW Station, or as close as it can get, in order to keep sufficient frequency to discourage riders from taking alternate routes (e.g. heading to downtown Seattle and then backtracking).

      1. I actually thing that there is a case for SR-520 buses to terminate at UW station during peak periods and possibly mid-day but to continue all the way downtown during off-peak and evening hours. During peak periods I-5 between downtown and SR-520 is almost always congested (in addition to surface streets downtown) and headways for most routes are in the 10-15 minutes range. During off peak hours I-5 is less congested and transfers are not as convenient with some routes running at 30 minutes headways.

        I could be convinced otherwise but just something to chew on.

      2. Frequency *is* a primary point of having all SR 520 routes serve UW Station (but not necessarily terminate there, as there is no turn-around) off-peak.

        By having everyone go to UW Station in off-peak hours, we could have 15-minute headway instead of having 30-minute headway downtown and 30-minute headway to UW. It comes out to fewer service hours.

        So, let’s split the difference and make *all* the SR 520 routes serve UW Station *all* the time. ;)

        Consistency would make it easier to sell the outer HOV lanes.

      3. The reason to truncate routes at UW off-peak is for frequency. By skipping the redundant segment, you can spend more service hours on the unique part (i.e. going to the eastside).

        The reason not to truncate route at UW during peak is for all the commuters who will demand their one-seat ride. But as I’ve said before, I think these peak expresses should charge extra — in New York, the MTA charges double — for the privilege of a redundant one-seat ride.

        Believe it or not, there are people who would prefer to wait in traffic than to transfer. (That’s why people commute in SOVs, even if it means they can’t use the much faster 520 HOV lane.)

      4. There are three huge drawbacks with terminating all 520 service at UW/Husky station and expecting transfers to Link. If they were addressed, then it could make sense, but the current design doesn’t:

        1) The transfer is poorly designed. The nearest planned bus stops for 520 buses are across from the entrance to University Hospital – requiring crossing Pacific St when heading Eastbound. Instead there ought to be a transit center constructed in the Husky Stadium lot directly above the Link station. It could function as a straight shot from Pacific and then feed a dedicated 2-way busway to the east of other traffic on Montlake and using the new bridge. But that hasn’t been designed. There isn’t even an undercrossing of Montlake Blvd planned – Link riders are already underground, they should be able to surface on the Triangle, not required to surface in the Husky Parking lot and then climb a bridge to cross Montlake.

        2) All the roads in this area are extremely congested at peak periods. Pacific St as well as Montlake Blvd. And you add in the schedule unreliability of the drawbridge. There is no assurance that a second bridge will ever be built, it isn’t funded and it doesn’t have community support. For a rider you are trading off I-5 congestion for Montlake/Pacific congestion together with a long, slow connection.

        3) Unless the buses terminated at UW/Husky, there are no operational savings giving greater frequencies. If you look at 271 or 540 schedules, the time spent in the U-District is pretty comparable to the time spent to reach the downtown terminals.

        The point is that while 520 has been promoted as a bus transit corridor, they haven’t designed the infrastructure at the Seattle end to make either one an optimal solution – it is half-baked and in many ways worse than what we have today. It should either allow for efficient 7/20 operation of downtown routes with easy transfers at Montlake, or everything should be designed for an easy, efficient, reliable transfer to Link, with dedicated bus lanes and stops at the Link station. What we have is neither fish nor fowl, and we’re headed toward another embarassing development like at Mt Baker or Tukwila, where it takes RRA 5 minutes to get onto Pacific Highway (aka Intl Blvd) or at Seatac where you have to cross Pacific Highway twice to get onto a southbound bus.

        If the future is a less car-centric world, when we are building new infrastructure, we should prioritize efficient transit operation and convenient transfers for pedestrians.

        I know that they are going to say that the highway footprint at Montlake is too constrained. But consider the facts: the new highway will be significantly wider than the existing highway. The existing highway has transit stops in both directions which must be among the highest patronized in the entire network (I’d love to see the data). In widening the highway while removing the network function of this stop, we are reallocating transit function to car function. It’s the opposite of what we should be doing. And in the context of what will be a $5+ billion project, if it were made a design requirement, there are ways to make it work better for transit. It’s a large investment, and no one can say the design is done because it is still in active debate and no contracts are let.

      5. Carl,

        I’m completely with you on all points. But I don’t think it’s too late to fix this. The Montlake 520 work, as I understand it, is pretty much unfunded; it’s possible that the 3rd lane of the bridge will just dead-end in Montlake for a while.

        One of the alternatives in the EIS was, in fact, a transit center at Husky Stadium. It could easily be resurrected.

        Now, having said all that, I think we’re overblowing the issue. Once East Link gets built, I think that we’ll see a steadily decline in 520 bus service. My prediction is that the only all-day service will be to Kirkland and Redmond TC (and the latter only until Segment E is completed); the rest will be peak-only.

      6. I hope it is not too late to change – that is why I raise the issue for a meeting that includes Paula Hammond and Joni Earl!

        From a geography point of view, South Bellevue and Mercer Island aren’t an efficient route to get from Kirkland, Redmond or Woodinville to either the U-District or downtown Seattle or other north Seattle neighborhoods. I would have liked to see light rail on the new SR-520 bridge – but that was shot down in favor of a “bus transit corridor.” If that’s what we are supposed to have, let’s make it workable for bus transit! I think it requires a proper design at Montlake, either for buses going downtown to be able to drop passengers there, or a very efficient, reliable transfer at Husky Stadium. The current plans provide neither of those.

        A commute from Greenlake or Ravenna to Microsoft-Overlake or downtown Bellevue will not be time effective or even energy efficient if it has to go via downtown Seattle – Mercer Island – downtown Bellevue

  2. That is a great picture. It appears to be from the ribbon cutting on the Stage 1 R8A project, which added the westbound HOV lane to I-90 between Bellevue and MI, the firs step in converting the HOV operation to make room for East Link. Jane Hague is visuble in the background. Stage 2 (eastbound MI->Bellevue) is almost done.

  3. Wow that’s great, I will be there. I’ve been a pan pal to Joni for the last 10 years (finally meeting her at the LINK groundbreaking in 2003). I’ll have to head out of work early for this and of course take LINK downtown.

  4. Since this meet-up is going to feature women in official positions, I wonder if operating people on both the rail and bus side can encourage the women they work with to attend if they have the night off.

    Mark Dublin

  5. Looks like count me in.

    What time would it be over? (Dad needs to know what time the 594 would be bringing me to Lakewood)

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