Photo by the author in the STB Flickr Pool
The Old 42 (photo by the author)

As I implied in my last post on the subject, of all the complaints about elimination of Route 42, the one that has some merit comes from those served by the old 42, primarily clustered around Graham St. Too distant to walk to a Link Station, to access downtown users have to board the frequent (15-minute headway) Route 8 to connect with either Link or the 7, both of which are extremely frequent. The remnant of the 42 attempts to serve ACRS, would be adequately replaced by Access or other low-volume service, and does no good for the Graham St. market.

A transfer, in itself, shouldn’t be a dealbreaker for a system design. Unfortunately, the Southbound 8 is intensely unreliable as it works its way through knots on Denny Way and Capitol Hill, indeed not much better than the 48 that used to provide Central District-Rainier Valley connectivity.

In the last few days I’ve heard an interesting new idea bubble up from the grassroots, and I understand there’s a little bit of organization pushing for it: split the 8 at Mt. Baker Station. Although it costs some money to layover buses, it would solve the reliability problems and make train/bus transfers less painful. There’s a less attractive addendum to this idea, however: have this “southern 8” replace the 42 by heading up to the International District from Mt. Baker, a move that raises costs substantially and provides zero additional connectivity. Moreover, one nice effect of restructuring service around Link is creating new direct connections to elsewhere, and splitting the 8 there wrecks that. More after the jump.

A much more cost-effective way to proceed would be to split the 8 at its natural elbow at Madison & MLK. This preserves the continuous North/South and East/West gridlines while insulating the Southbound 8 from all the significant reliability killers. Bruce’s indispensable data shows that this turn is one of the low points for bus occupancy. Moreover, when U-Link opens there will be little reason to take the 8 from MLK’s Link stations to Capitol Hill. Even with a transfer, riders will be much better off taking the train.

To offset some costs of this improvement, our own Bruce Nourish suggests terminating the East-West 8 at Group Health on 15th, allowing the 43 to mop up the much smaller ridership on points East and forcing transfers for a very small group of riders. It may also be easier to layover buses near Group Health rather than MLK & Madison. Either way, it’s a much more cost neutral move for Metro and addresses the legitimate concerns of neighborhoods far down the line.

74 Replies to “42 Redux”

  1. I live off MLK (north of Union, south of Madison) and, while I won’t argue that the SB 8 reliability is wonderful, I’ve also noticed that the NB reliability isn’t that great either. Is this simply carryover from the SB buses that get messed up on Denny/Cap Hill never being able to get back on schedule once they turn around and head back north or are there also reliability hits at the south end of the line that can cause a NB bus that starts on time to become consistently late?

    1. It’s probably a carryover effect. A huge delay can eat up all the extra layover time, but the driver still gets to take a break, so everything can get delayed for a long time.

    2. The reliability of the n/b 8 is directly connected to the s/b 8. I know, I used to drive the 8. I now avoid the 8 as if it were the plague. The route gets hammered on Denny Way and Capitol Hill and there isn’t adequate recovery time at Rainier/Henderson. We, operators, are human too. We need to refuel our bodies and we need to use the comfort stations. We also need to decompress from the “you’re late” looks and comments. None of us likes running late any more than you, the passenger, likes the bus running late.

      The s/b 8 also gets hit with traffic on MLK around Graham and Myrtle/Othello. One of the biggest sticking points is turning from s/b MLK to e/b S. Henderson. I’ve waited at the light and light rail crossing for 6 minutes before.

      The n/b 8 gets hit with a lot of passengers. It is the purpose of transit but without sufficient time in the schedule, it becomes unreliable.

      Metro listens to you, the passenger, far more than they listen to me the operator. Call them, tell them the route isn’t reliable. Tell them it violates their own mission statement of providing safe, dependable service.

  2. Is there a need for bus service on Dearborn to downtown? For me, that seems to be the only possible reason to keep the 42 running in its current form.

    As for the 8, I would like to see it broken into 2 routes, both terminating at Mt. Baker Station. On the southern 8 I would look into running it from Mt. Baker Station to Rainier Beach Station, then via Henderson to Rainier Avenue and back to Othello Station via Othello Street, so that the southern end would form a box: OthelloSttion/RBStation/Henderson/Rainier Avenue/Othello Station.

    1. As Martin pointed out in the piece, Madison is a much better place to split the 8, it makes more a much more coherent network.

      Also not sure what’s gained by having a giant loop on the south end. As Jarret Walker put it (I’m paraphrasing), loops have pretty limited utility as most people do not want to travel in circles. If you’re trying to improve connectivity to Link on in the SE end of the RV, there are better ways to achieve that. I have a post on this later this week.

      1. The thing about a split at Madison is that it seems highly unlikely that Metro would run a route between Madison/MLK and Rainier Beach (or even just Mount Baker). Neither terminus is a major demand center, or even a reasonable stopping point for any reason except that it’s an intersection. (And it’s a terrible place to wait.)

      2. I worry about making any judgement on splitting the 8 based on data from only a couple years into it’s reroute. The 8 is still a pretty new route along MLK. Residents are just now starting to realize that it has frequent, all-day service, rather than the old daytime-only, strand-you-at-group-health route.

        That said, if it has to be split, I would rather see it split at a light rail station, either Capitol Hill or Mount Baker, so that riders from in-between still have an option on where to make their transfer. Mount Baker makes the most sense to me; it’s already loading/unloading the majority of its riders at that stop, so forcing a transfer there seems only natural. And approaching Mt. Baker from the north is a slightly lower ridership point than Madison/MLK (as is departing it to the north).

      3. Normally I would agree that loops aren’t particularly useful, but in Rainier Beach it might be worth looking at. The RB Station is a good distance from anything attractive unless you are planning to rent some furniture or need to fix a leaky pipe. The City does have a dusty plan–languishing somewhere–that turns Henderson into a grand boulevard with lots of housing and commercial development. It won’t be a new Broadway or Queen Anne, but the Rainier Beach/Henderson area has the potential to become quite attactive. By looping the 8 back to Othello, the 8 would connect Rainier Ave./Rainier Beach to Othello. Currently there isn’t sufficient service east of MLK on Othello, the 39 runs on 45 minute headways for most of the day.

      4. A Capitol Hill split makes the most sense, even though it would cause a long route and a short route rather than two equal-length routes. But the two routes should overlap between Broadway and 23rd. That would facilitate transfers to the 48 from the west, and would also serve those on MLK going to the Broadway shopping area (which is a much larger destination than MLK/Madison or Group Health).

  3. The 43 doesn’t strike me as a great replacement for 8 riders in the vicinity of MLK & Madison. There’s a significant uphill climb from MLK up to 23rd. Also the 43 doesn’t go any further south than John.

    1. Riders in the Madison Valley are probably better off taking the 11 to 15th and then walking to Group Health. The 11 was slated for an increase to 15-minute headways in the Fall 2012 restructure, although that might be cut to pay for more coverage elsewhere. I think Martin was referring to riders between 23rd and 15th, although in reality I think most people would just walk rather than ride two stops.

      1. I realize I’m reacting the typical way people do when suggested services cuts affect them, but the 8 is a backbone route to someone living in the Madison Valley/East Capitol Hill area (along with the 48 and to a lesser extent 43 and 11). The idea of cutting it off at Group Health just seems shocking. Splitting the route at MLK/Madison is a lot more palatable.

      2. A major difficulty in responding to claims of an “area” losing service is that “areas” are broad and vague. It makes it easier to analyze the real impacts when people talk about specific destination pairings (e.g. residents along Madison between X and Y and business sites such as Group Health, Madison Market, etc.).

      3. If the 8 no longer ran down MLK, how would people go south to Mt. Baker? The nearest N/S alternative in that corridor is the 48, which is a 4-6 block steep uphill climb if you’re starting anywhere along MLK from Madison down to Yesler or so.

        In the east/west direction, the 11’s a reasonable substitute for Madison Valley riders heading to Group Health or the Capitol Hill Link station (especially once the First Hill streetcar is in place), provided you live close enough to Madison. I think 8 riders further south in the CD may feel left out in the cold though.

      4. Martin is proposing the N-S section of the 8 turn around just short of the intersection of MLK and Madison. The old 38 used to do this:

        https://seattletransitblog.com/2011/11/20/sunday-open-thread-the-7000-miles-of-metro/

        The only coverage lost in his proposal is the one-seat ride to SLU and QA between 15th Ave and MLK. Those riders would have to transfer from the 11. It seems to me that between the proposed increase in midday frequency for the 11 (which, of course, is far from a done deal yet) and the small number of riders in that deleted segment, the benefit to riders in the CD and RV far outweighs the loss to riders between 15th and MLK.

      5. I don’t understand your point about the ridership chart. Yes, people west of 23rd can walk to 15th, and people north of Madison can switch to the 43. But the 43 is far too north and uphill to help 8 riders from further south headed to Capitol Hill, who are (as you point out in the chart) “most of the people on the bus”. I’m concerned about those riders (though I’m not one of them).

        It’s true that the Madison boardings from 23rd to MLK are weak, though showing nonexistent stops in the chart doesn’t help (there’s no Madison/27th stop in the westbound direction). It’s the boardings along MLK from Madison to Jackson I’m worried about.

      6. Ah yes, you’re right about that. This proposal works best once U-Link enters service in 2016, because then RV riders will have a subway ride (or subway ride + reliable transfer) to Capitol Hill. If we wanted to do it before then, we’d probably have to extend the span of service on the 9X, which would make this a very non-budget-neutral change.

        This change would fit perfectly as part of the restructure that will happen on Capitol Hill as part of the U-Link opening.

      7. Bruce,
        Looking at the map and following Route 38, I don’t think the 38 turned around at MLK/Madison. It would appear to be a peak-hour route that went from MLK/Madison to Boeing. It probably ran south in the morning and north in the afternoon.

      8. That sucks. It looks like it would be physically possible to turn around there, if the city took a few parking spaces. At any rate, it’s no worse than the left turn onto Madison.

      9. Add me to the chorus of those who think that having a the 8 still reach the Madison Valley and connect with a separate MLK route is a valuable step in the direction of gridded transit in this city.

        There is a value in being able to get from Madison to Broadway (at the site of the future rail station), or to SLU or beyond, along a true east-west axis and without dealing with the downtowner-service issues or the many lights and stop signs of the current 11 routing.

        Madison Valley is actually a very active business district — much bigger than Madison Park or even the one on 15th, and only 13 short and relatively uncongested blocks past the latter (MLK=28th). Its low transit numbers may be partially due to demographics, but the historic lousiness of the service is a contributing factor. If it became the endpoint of two frequent, linear services, with reliability at all but the 8’s worst hours guaranteed by end-points at the intersection of Madison and MLK, the appeal would be much greater.

        Laying over the east-west route is easy: there used to be a southbound stop just past Harrison on MLK, in front of a little raised park. It was deleted recently. Make that the layover, with a ban on engines running. Then the bus just has to spin around Thomas and Arthur to head west.

        Alternately, put the layover northbound between Harrison and Arthur. There’s nothing at all there; it’s not even near any house. If the bus can spin around the traffic island, that would be ideal. Otherwise, have it turn right on 29th to Harrison.

        For the MLK-only route, which is very long but surprisingly reliable, I’d frankly advocate a live-loop, so it would only need to layover at the south end.

        Short version: the drawbacks of a 13-block gap in what would otherwise be a gridded route aren’t worth the (slight) savings in running cost.

    2. Argh. I just realized I read “terminating the East/West 8” in Martin’s proposal as “terminating the 8”. All of a sudden things make a lot more sense. Sorry for the noise.

      Also, thanks for pointing out the old 38 route, I wasn’t aware that existed. If headways are improved for the 11, the picture isn’t so bleak for riders east of 23rd.

  4. Ignoring the specific routes, for the moment, please allow me to address the frequent refrain here that Access can replace eliminated fixed routes.

    No, it can not.

    Access is paratransit. It is for riders who qualify for the service based on disabilities, not lack of nearby fixed route service. Indeed, the county could remove someone from the Access-qualified list if that person lives too far from the nearest fixed route.

    If you want fixed-route service replaced with something that everyone is qualified to ride, that would be a DART zone, which is definitely not being considered in relation to the 42, since the only served-area in line for elimination is Dearborn, a mere couple blocks from Jackson.
    .

    In relation to the 42, I don’t think the 42 supporters are advocating running the 42 down Dearborn any more. They want to get direct access to Little Saigon, which means Jackson. The 42 would be interlined with the 7, so the additional service on the 42 north of Mount Baker TC would come from reducing runs on the 7.
    .

    The only people who will be added to the Access rolls as a result of the restructurings/reinvestments/etc are people who were already eligible for Access, and had not bothered to go through the qualification process. Others who lose service will just have to find another way to the nearest fixed-route stop. (Of course, this really doesn’t have anything to do with the 42, since the only service at stake being lost is a one-seat ride, but Martin brought up the Access claim, so I hope it is appropriate to respond to the claim.)

    1. Brent,
      I believe the bit about Access is mostly to counter the ACRS claim the 42 is needed to service their disabled and elderly client base. If someone is too disabled to take Link or the 7 from downtown and walk from the nearest stop or transfer to the 8 they can then use access.

      Of course if ACRS was so concerned about transit access for their elderly and disabled clients they would have picked a site with better transit access (say maybe closer to a Link station?), not put their front door facing their parking lot rather than MLK, and not made pedestrians walk through their parking lot to get to the front door.

  5. One of the odd arguments brought up at the hearing was a petition signed by a few dozen students from Rainier Beach, Franklin, and Garfield High in support of the 42. It was presented by one of the human service organization representatives, not any students.

    It mentioned better access among the schools. As I said, this is odd, because keeping the 42 will likely mean splitting the 8, which would eliminate the existing one-seat ride between Rainier Beach and Garfield. (Not that anyone does that more often than a football or basketball game.)

    I suspect the students weren’t apprised of the plan to split the 8, or a lot fewer of them would have signed.

  6. behind Group Health (16th) the street is wide and only has a few residential properties as well as some hospital related businesses (like labs) … all on the East side of the street. The west side is kind of a park … buses could easily use this area for a layover spot.

    They’d just need to turn left on 15, right on Thomas, left on 16th, then left at the next street and then left on 15th to head back to the Seattle Center down like today.

    1. Between the time of the 8’s creation to the the Link restructure, when it was extended, it terminated and laid over at Group Health. This presumably wasn’t an accident — east of 15th there are virtually no arterial streets where you can turn around a bus, let alone get curb space for a layover. Group Health gives you layover, and gets you far enough east to capture the densest part of the Hill.

    2. I miss the days when the 8 just ran between Seattle Center and Group Health. It was simple and reliable.

      1. As a CD resident, I very much do not miss that.

        Because the turnback was poorly advertised or understood, most residents actively avoided taking the 8, because “the last time I tried to use it I got stranded at Group Health and couldn’t get home”. In fact, I still hear that from people today, something like 3 years since the turnback was killed.

        The effect the 8’s old turnback had on CD riders is the main reason I’m so opposed to same-number turnbacks in general.

      2. Lack: I believe zef is referring to a time when Group Health was the full-time terminus, not just a turnback routing.

      3. Zef: Even worse. What were headways on the old 38?

        The 8’s current routing was a welcome change for anyone east of the 48’s walkshed.

      4. Why not split the 8 at Madison and extend the E/W portion all the way to Madison Park and rechristen it the 11? Turn the 12 into a Coleman Dock-Madison Park frequent service route.

      5. Kyle – one problem with your proposal is that there’s no overhead wire on Madison east of 23rd (or possibly 19th) for the 12 to use to get to Madison Park.

      6. If the 11 ran at frequent headways, I don’t see why this would be a big problem. There’s a clearly a mismatch of demand in the current system.

      7. +1 Lack Thereof. All-day service on the 8 gives us a bunch more options than we had previously. And walking from Group Health to the lower part of Madrona (east of MLK) is a haul.

  7. Extending the proposed 40 eastward from Georgetown down Graham St would be a beautiful fit, and could be funded mostly from cutting the 40 off at the Morgan Junction, instead of duplicating the frequent (Don’t chuckle) Line C up to the Alaska Junction.

    Unfortunately, this path doesn’t connect to Link. However, it does connect to the even-more-frequent 36, with less connecting time than getting into or out of a station, which is then mitigated by longer travel time to downtown.
    .

    One variation on the theme would be to have two routes serving Graham: One serving the eastern portion to MLK, then serving MLK northward to Mt Baker, and then on to Madison Valley. Lets call it the 8-south, just for algebra’s sake.

    The other would serve the portion of Graham west of MLK, and then continue as the 40 is currently proposed. It could also serve the portion of MLK from Graham to Henderson Station.

    Note that there is a frequency mismatch between the proposed 40 (30-minute headway) and the existing 8 (15-minute headway — Don’t chuckle). Other than that frequency mismatch, I think this could be pulled off in a revenue-neutral manner vs. the current restructuring proposal.

  8. Another advantage to this idea is that it would make electrification of the shorter Seattle Center to Cap Hill portion of the 8 much easier.

  9. As a schedule ignorer and onebusaway devotee, I’d like to ask a question. Is the 8 really that unreliable outside of the southbound afternoon rush hour? I know the Denny Disaster kills it for a couple hours a day, but when I ride the 8, OBA is always showing me buses about 15 minutes apart. If it’s maintaining the headway, it seems OK to me. And it always seems to be maintaining the headway.

    Maybe we should just ditch the schedule, brand it RapidRide, and advertise it as every 15 minutes rather than scheduled service. Problem solved!

      1. “And after 7pm, it’s no longer frequent.”

        … which certainly falls within the parameters of RapidRide™, starting October 2012.

    1. I’ve had many times where I have gotten out and walked from Capitol Hill to Queen Anne because it was faster than taking the bus. That should not happen.

  10. Someone should examine the ons and offs on Rt. 8 and maybe identify a midpoint with minimal through ridership, and see if that would make a good breaking point. There’s some merit in separating the southern portion of the 8; improve reliability by separating it from the unreliable service on Denny Way, but find a good breaking point.

      1. A couple of years is a decent amount of time for a route to bed in. If there was major latent demand here, we’d know by now. As I recall from having walked it a couple of times, MLK between Union and Madison is pretty sleepy, mostly single family homes. This isn’t a recipe for crazy ridership.

      2. Bruce – you’re right, that stretch is pretty sleepy. There are a few apartments/condos/duplexes, but nothing approaching anything close to real density.

        I live 1/2 a block up the hill from an 8 stop in that stretch and I only take it when going to Seattle Center or possibly transferring to a bus on Dexter to get to Fremont. I wonder if the 8 along that stretch will get more riders once the Capitol Hill Link station opens. Yes, you can take the 8 now and transfer to the 2 or 48 and get to those places, but you know how folks are about transfers to buses. :-)

        In many ways the 8 is a great, semi-unique route in that it goes between several dense areas without requiring a trip to downtown.

        Interestingly, if this proposal to split the 8 goes through along with the proposed Fall 2012 changes to loop the 2 downtown instead of having it continue north to QA, I’d potentially go from having 2 options for 1 seat rides to/from Seattle Center and QA to having none…

      3. There might be some increase in ridership with Link, but that can be accommodated with the 11, which will stop on the other side of Cal Anderson from the station. 3 blocks walk through the park isn’t too much to ask for frequent trains downtown.

        The fact is, Madison Valley is probably too low-density and high-income to really justify two frequent bus routes. Metro wants to increase frequency on the 11, and at that point it might be a little ridiculous to keep the 8 in that segment. That said, it would be weird to just turn it around at Madison. That’s not a good anchor for a route.

      4. It is mostly single-family. There’s a couple of multifamily units facing MLK (the biggest one is at MLK&Olive), but they’re all not in line with the current zoning. What Lowrise zoning there is in the area is strangly set back a half-block off of the street, and has mostly filled out with lower-end townhouses, however most of that is on the West side of MLK, and thus can be served by a steep walk to the 48, or a longer, flatter stroll to Madison or Union.

        Although not as dense as many other neighborhoods, it’s a neighborhood with a high transit mode-share. Although it’s mostly zoned SF5000, most of the plots are closer to 2500 sqft, and a not insignificant portion of the rental houses on those plots (not to mention a few of the townhouses) are being shared by a half-dozen low wage roommates.

        But I may just be defending MY BUS here. If you’re right, when the Capitol Hill Link station opens, grabbing all the through-riders, and the First Hill Streetcar opens, giving the eastern CD a non-painful transfer to Broadway/Capitol Hill, those 20 peak riders will dwindle to 5 or 10.

        But, at the same time, the Capitol Hill station and U-link might bulk up the 8’s numbers through the CD, as people use it to access the new station.

        I’m nervous about this idea. Very nervous.

  11. I used to drive the 42 back when it went all the way to S. Leo, and was connected on the other end to the 26. The route had utility then, and was well-used.

    In it’s current truncated incarnation – doesn’t extend past Columbia City or travel all the way to downtown – the 42 is little more than a wounded animal that should really be either re-extended or put out of its misery.

    1. Beavis has a point (which was stated repeatedly at the hearing).

      To have a true sense of the 42, as proposed by its advocates, you have to look at pre-2009 data.

    1. Seriously. That we’re even talking about this is proof of a neophyte agency’s whopping spacing error.

      1. Yeah, the spacing is pretty weird. In Portland the Yellow Line stops every half-mile, and that allowed them to discontinue bus service on that corridor. It is slow, but at least most people can access it. In the Rainier Valley they have really wide spacing even though it is street-running. It’s almost designed to piss off residents in the area. They managed to build a segment that is both slow and inconvenient! If it was elevated or underground then at least the lack of access would be balanced by speed.

      2. It’s a symptom of how starved this city is for real mass transit. Other cities know there’s a difference between commuter rail and urban rapid transit. Muni and BART, U-Bahn and S-Bahn, NYC Subway and PATH. But the politics of transit planning are so screwed up here that the inner city is served by a bus system that panders to commuters in low-density suburbs and our commuter rail system runs at-grade in the middle of the street.

      3. PATH is not a commuter rail. It’s a 100-plus-year-old rapid transit line that (successfully) extends the urban reach to Hoboken and Jersey City.

      4. Many commuters access PATH from elsewhere via commuter rail. Much the same as those who access the NY subway from Grand Central.

        The insult to injury is that our commuter rail is supposedly “serving” the city enough to justify our paying every penny of in-city service, including that dumb Rainier/I-90 station.

        Even though it doesn’t actually succeed at doing so.

        Fucked up.

      5. Jerseyites call PATH “commuter rail”. I was surprised at this because I thought commuter rail meant “peak hours only”, while PATH runs as often as a subway.

        I don’t care what it’s called, as long as there are both in-city and suburban trains, and they run all day.

      6. PATH is not a commuter rail. It’s a 100-plus-year-old rapid transit line that (successfully) extends the urban reach to Hoboken and Jersey City.

        Jerseyites call PATH “commuter rail”. I was surprised at this because I thought commuter rail meant “peak hours only”, while PATH runs as often as a subway.

        OK, PATH isn’t a good example.

        I should have gone with the one I’m most familiar with: Metra in Chicago. Chicagoans have the L, a traditional rapid-transit system that provides frequent service within the city limits. Suburbanites have Metra, a heavy-rail commuter service that nevertheless provides all-day service to downtown 7 days a week. Taking your kids to the Museum of Science and Industry on a Saturday afternoon? Take Metra! Going to a show this evening? There’s a good chance you can catch the last train out of the city. Metra lines stretch out in all directions from the city, even extending over the state line into Wisconsin.

        Sounder is pathetic by comparison.

      7. Mike, North America may be the only continent on earth where “regional rail” means “peak-commute direction.” And even this continent has plenty of exceptions in the form of hourly-or-less service emanating from New York, and a range service levels on all-day networks emanating from Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto, and to a lesser extent from Montreal and Los Angeles.

        Of course, regional rail service responds to demand (though it’s availability in turn creates demand). Even the New York region would never support the 10-minute frequencies found on some European networks. (But give me a 10-minute S-Bahn line and I’ll show you a 3-minute U-Bahn line. Any city in any country can justify more urban service than suburban.)

        Some Jerseyites may shorthand PATH as a commuter service because they happen to use it as part of their commuting habits. They are, however, wrong.

        The PATH train, operating since 1908, has always operated with urban-style stations and equipment, at urban-style frequencies. It has always been a rapid-transit shuttle of sorts, connecting the major rail hubs (as well as the population centers) of Hoboken and Jersey City with Manhattan, and replacing the ferries that previously did so.

        The Newark extension, which came just a couple of years later, has always acted as a sort of rapid-transit interurban, connecting New Jersey’s biggest city with the metropolis next door. Though for the sake of demand, it doesn’t hurt that Newark is a major transit hub in its own right.

        Anyway, at very high frequencies — and with, unlike Commuter-BART or Irrational-Exuberance-Link, consistent ridership along its whole length to actually justify such frequencies — it would be inaccurate to describe PATH as a commuter-oriented train.

      8. “Commuter” in this sense means all trips from Jersey City to Manhattan and Newark, not just those for work or at recurring times. Going to a movie or museum or the gym? Take PATH, it keeps your car out of the auto tunnel. This is what I hope Link becomes, and what all metropolitan areas should have. Metra and Caltrain are OK but they drop to hourly off-peak, which is why so many would-be transit riders drive and why there’s so much pressure for more roads.

        I’m surprised you call PATH rapid transit because you’ve been saying “rapid transit” means stops every mile or closer. PATH has long spaces between stops outside Manhattan, which is necessary in order for it to successfully compete with cars.

      9. For long-distance “commuting” (work or recreation or otherwise), hourly services are perfectly okay if that’s what the demand justifies. You’re planning the whole day/evening around your outing anyway. You’re like travelling great distances, which is something you’d have to plan for in a car too.

        Commuter rails also tend to be build around central hubs, reflecting that their almost sole use is for trips from rural/burb to central city.

        PATH is completely different from that paradigm. The furthest you can possibly go on it is about 12 miles. Between Manhattan, Hoboken, and Jersey City — where the closest headways and by far the highest ridership is — the average stop spacing is about 1/2 a mile. Journal Square, the last stop before the service effectively changes from “urban rapid” to “interurban rapid,” is barely 1.25 miles from Grove Street.

        PATH also allows and attracts plenty of multi-purpose, bi-directional usage. Exchange Place is full of jobs. I’ve taken it to Hoboken for dinner or live music.

        You can even go exploring on a whim, because: A) the line serves actual places with actual stuff to explore; and B) the short distance and rapid-transit service allows you to do so.

        As I’ve said before, Link will do these things about as well as BART does (which is to say “not very well”), thanks to its very long spokes and its relative dearth of destinations both interesting and walkable along its lines.

        It costs a ton of money to run BART services as if they had a “rapid transit” purpose; it will cost an arm and a leg to run Link that way as well. It just doesn’t offer very much benefit for the buck. PATH, with an operating subsidy of less than $3 (very low for a short and self-contained system), is exponentially more useful.

      10. “You’re like travelling”? Where did that come from?

        Of note: BART maintains a looks-good-on-paper fare-recovery ratio. They are only able to do this through extremely high fares. When you do the math, you realize that even someone paying $8 for a one-way trip is still getting subsidized to the tune of about $4.50!

        Link will never charge fares that high. ST knows their constituency; people around here are so conditioned to think that “driving is free” that they’ll freak out and jump back in their SUVs if asked to pay a fare higher than $3 or $3.50 (even for a long-distance trip).

        So when Boonies-Link winds up costing BART-like money to run in a BART-like manner, the percentage subsidies are going to be outrageous.

      11. PATH is an urban metro system no matter what people call it. It is classified as such by the FTA. It operates like one (short headways, long span of service). It even has ridership like one. Heck the rolling stock is even similar to MTA IRT cars.

        If the Jersey side of the river was part of NYC proper (or the Port had ended up owning the subway system) we would have seen the MTA lines extend across much the same way they do to Brooklyn and Queens. Since it isn’t, and the NYC metro area suffers from somewhat balkanized transit service (the various MTA divisions often seem more at war with each other than they are other agencies), PATH is as good as it gets for subway extensions to the Jersey side of the Hudson.

    2. Well sure, but that’s a whole lot more expensive, and you have to overcome South King County complaints.

      1. “Foul! How dare you add one extra stop at a busy intersection where it can relieve a whole lot of access and service-duplication issues! Now, instead of taking 51.5 minutes to commute from the station we can’t actually pay for in our nonexistent Downtown Federal Way, it will take a whopping 52 minutes to commute from the station we can’t actually pay for in our nonexistent Downtown Federal Way!! Foul!!!”

      2. Seriously, though, can I inquire why everyone throws hissy fits about 45 added seconds for walkshed-expanding stop here or a 2-minute-longer routing there, but no one in this region seems the least bit bothered by ridiculous operating procedures like the hyper-cautious, 3-minute, 5 MPH crawl into the DSTT? Those are the really pointless time-wasters.

      3. The short answer, d.p., is that the stadium area is crawling with drunks, including sports fans who think it’s okay to duck under the crossing gate and beat the train.

    3. Check the history. My recollection is that Sound Transit looked at the ridership projections and concluded that while a Graham station would be well used, much of its ridership would be cannibalized from Col. City and Othello stations, so the net overall ridership increase would be modest.

      Evidence to refute the above, as to history or as to conclusions, is welcomed.

  12. “To offset some costs of this improvement, our own Bruce Nourish suggests terminating the East-West 8 at Group Health on 15th, allowing the 43 to mop up the much smaller ridership on points East and forcing transfers for a very small group of riders.”

    And what happens if the 43 eventually gets cut?

    A better solution, in my view, is to take advantage of the elbow to extend the East-West 8 into Denny Blaine and connect to the 2. The north-south 8 can be extended to a loop north of Madison, or terminated at Cap Hill Station.

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