This is an open thread.

59 Replies to “News Roundup: Shrinking”

  1. Anyone who’s not yet seen Urbanized at the Northwest Film Forum needs to stop what they’re doing and watch it immediately.

  2. “First Hill Streetcar maintenance facility will be on Dearborn St.” That’s old news. In fact, STB even did a post months ago about how some in the I.D. were complaining the tracks going along 8th Ave from Dearborn to Jackson would be dangerous for the elderly and disabled to cross.

    In STB’s June 9th 2011 News Round-Up’s comment section, even I knew where it would be.

    “Someone was asking where the future First Hill Streetcar’s storage yard will be. 8th and Dearborn.”

    Also, I have a serious question. If I park my car on the street in downtown Seattle, and purchase a parking sticker which I put on my window. But my window also has about 50 expired parking stickers which I have left up on my window, and the meter maid gives me a ticket because she couldn’t find the valid sticker out of all the bad one’s, do I have to pay that ticket?

    1. Yes, you have to pay the ticket — because your valid ticket wasn’t properly displayed.

      And the police officer should give you a 2nd ticket for operating a vehicle with obscured vision. What you are doing is against the law, and the police should spare no effort in removing you from the road.

    2. Legally you are responsible; you’re suppoed to remove expired receipts – the current one should be the only one displayed. If you challenge it, though, the judge will likely waive the fine anyway (you did keep the receipt, I hope) and just give you a warning. It’s a VERY brief, very informal hearing, nothing to be afraid of.

    3. What’s wrong with you? Just pay the fine, clean your window, and stop being such a baby.

  3. Amazing to see us being catapulted decades backward in time by the austerity fad. It’ll be nice when political hemlines go down again so we can rejoin the march toward a better tomorrow. Sorry thing about Pierce County.

    1. I’m currently riding on a Pierce Transit bus, and happen to live within one of the county’s transit-friendly pecincts. If shrinking the boundary affords PT the opportunity to provide frequent and efficient bus service to those who want it, then what is the problem?

      1. Doug, the “have your cake and eat it too” notion that you can live in the middle of nowhere with a nice big yard and a garage, yet still enjoy some form of comprehensive transit service (usually at great cost to your denser neighbors) — leading to travesties like 40-40-20, leading to Federal Way demanding shiny light rail when getting around built-up areas continues to suck — seems to be a purely west-coast phenomenon.

        Even in metro NY, even in metro Boston, even in metro Everywhere Else, people accept that living in the boonies means that transit can’t be made as convenient or comprehensive, that it may have to be driven to, etc.

        Pierce Transit is only cutting off the places where the current service is patently unsustainable, and not all that well used anyway. Atenhaus gets better-funded and more useful transit out of that; he and his neighbors will use it more.

        Those in Orting can easily park-and-ride from Puyallup if they don’t want to deal with downtown driving issues. (Nobody there is using transit for anything but downtown access anyway.)

        And if they don’t like it, then they can choose to move somewhere where transit makes more sense.

      2. I’m thinking about some folks I know who live out in part of the area that would be cut off. Only one of them has a car, and she is getting older and starting to have vision issues. The others are bus-reliant because of age or — yes — poverty.

        Why do they live out there, you ask? Well, that’s a good question. Here’s the story of one family. They were in Seattle, but the State basically forced them to move. You see, the grandma is a foster mom for her grandkids. The State said “you have to have a larger house for these kids or we will take them away.” (Four kids. In Seattle, they had a 3 bedroom house, tiny, but the kind of house people used to live in back in the mid-century without qualms. Kids used to share rooms, you know.) They made her get a behemoth of a house in the middle-of-nowhere because that was the only thing that met their requirements that she could afford — in the six weeks they gave her to get this done.

        I think they’d probably rather live in a neighborhood that is more walkable and transit-friendly. But they had no choice but to move, and now they are in the middle of nowhere without a lot of options. So before you start saying “what is the problem?” realize that not everyone has the easy choice to live wherever they want.

      3. Litlnemo, of course I’m not going to follow your nightmare story with a dismissal.

        But in terms of asking “What is the problem?”, your story is not about a problem of transit policy, but of DSHS having a terrible enough sense of priorities that they would force someone to make faulty real estate decisions in a bad real estate market or otherwise actively cause harm to children by tearing them from the loving care of an extended family member.

        (I am, of course, taking your version of the story at face value, and presuming that DSHS took issue with the size of the grandmother’s Seattle home, rather than, say, the home’s condition. As described, their actions are way out of bounds.)

        Where exactly are they now located, and what kind of Pierce Transit service even exists there to be cut? Could it have been remotely good enough to meet their needs even without the scale-backs?

        We’re already seeing the beginnings of the suburbanization of poverty, and the next generation is likely to see a lot more of it. Transit planners are freaking out about it, for good reason, as there’s really no solution short of a wholesale remaking of the suburban form, for which those moving into ex-desireable (now run-down) cul-de-sac subdivisions can’t really afford to be on the hook. The best they can do is to try to stem the tide through investments in affordable urban housing and transit service good enough to make car ownership unnecessary in places where that is actually feasible.

        As Anc’s link suggests, this is about making sustainability “legal,” rather than about halfway supports for the unsustainable choice the people you know have been forced to make. It’s like using the emergency room for primary care thanks to a lack of health insurance. It’s far more expensive and much less effective. Just because it’s the status quo does not make it valid.

      4. “We’re already seeing the beginnings of the suburbanization of poverty, and the next generation is likely to see a lot more of it. ”

        Given that operating cars is going to get only more expensive, at some point the suburban poor are going to start bicyling in large numbers for long distances. Or, in places with lower populations like the rust belt, squatting in urban locations.

        Gonna be interesting to be sure. *Sigh*. Interesting is bad in this case.

      5. Anc, I haven’t been reading that blog, but maybe I should.

        d.p., the story is accurate as I understand it. Of course I did get this info from the grandma involved and not from the State of Washington. But as I was told, the issue was the size of the house. The condition of the house was old but I didn’t hear anything about it being the main problem. Admittedly it was a small house. Part of the complication was that it was a three-girl, one-boy group of kids, and the state required the boy to have his own room, understandably… which put the girls all in one room, but, hey, I think it worked for the Brady Bunch, didn’t it? ;)

        The grandma had lived there for 40 years, though, and had six weeks to find another place and move. Even if the house wasn’t appropriate for the long term — which is debatable — I find it unjust how the situation was handled.

        “Where exactly are they now located, and what kind of Pierce Transit service even exists there to be cut? Could it have been remotely good enough to meet their needs even without the scale-backs?”

        I don’t want to say exactly because I am concerned about their privacy. My understanding is that they do have regular service of some sort on a nearby major arterial. I don’t think it’s what I would call great service, but I am probably spoiled by living on Metro’s 36 route. The area would be eliminated according to the map attached to this post.

        “We’re already seeing the beginnings of the suburbanization of poverty, and the next generation is likely to see a lot more of it.”

        Yes. It’s worrisome. I worried when she moved out there because I knew they would be completely car-dependent. But housing in Seattle was so expensive. This was before the market crashed. If they’d been able to do a more leisurely search, maybe they could have stayed in the city, or King County. But with the time crunch, and the housing market at its peak… sigh.

        “As Anc’s link suggests, this is about making sustainability ‘legal,’ rather than about halfway supports for the unsustainable choice the people you know have been forced to make. ”

        Right, and I’m not saying “don’t ever make any cuts because it might affect someone I know.” It’s just that when people start getting smug because they live in a place that is well-served, they might want to consider that not everyone who doesn’t live where they live had a realistic choice in the matter.

      1. Oh, you wacky, wacky neo-Keynesian, you.

        Didn’t you know that the Chicago School is infallible and beyond reproach in the modern world? Infallible, I tell you! Don’t ever question the wisdom of the free hand!

      2. Although Mike Orr is right: this particular move is not about austerity, but about rational allocation of resources.

    2. It’s not austerity, it’s car dominance. Even in the roaring ’90s and ’00s there wasn’t much ridership in these small, isolated exurbs. People moved there to be away from “the city”, or to have a house and yard of a certain size and free parking everywhere. Guess what, they got it. They could demand houses within walking distance of the town village and schools; they could take transit (1) at all, (2) for more than just commuting to work; they could demand that businesses cluster in walkable islands; but they didn’t, didn’t, didn’t, didn’t. In the end, the people who want transit have to cluster together on a road where semi-frequent transit is viable. Of course, people can’t choose where their workplaces are located (non-accessible office park), but these are bedroom communities so there aren’t any major workplaces there.

      1. I’d suggest looking at rural England (other parts of the UK as well) as an example of where bus service functioned for decades to make it possible for folks to use town services while living in the country, doing things that people in the country do. Unfortunately the UK has also succumbed to the austerity fad (which is really a way of saying that part of society is trying to detach itself from another bit) and so this plan which worked well for many years is now falling apart.

      2. But rural England rarely sprawls, Doug, even in its furthest reaches.

        A surprisingly large portion of residents dwell in towns or villages with at least a few walkable goods and services; most of the remainder dwell in clusters or along the roads that connect the clusters.

        It’s inherently more serviceable, even at skeletal levels, than some Bonney Lake subdivision that’s a mile and a half from anything resembling a through-route.

      3. England is 10X as dense as Washington State. It’s also less that 3/4 the size. Cede Eastern Washington to Idaho, bring in 15 million new people and transit will work here like it does in England.

      4. The state has (the Grape Line, the Dungeness Line, Apple Line, Gold Line) where Greyhound and Trailways won’t go. That’s more akin to rural bus service than Bonney Lake or Buckley, which are exurbs of Tacoma. Maybe there should be rural bus service to them, but maybe Pierce Transit is not the best agency to provide it. Given the size of those towns, they can probably arrange their own van-size service more cheaply than PT can provide.

      5. “But rural England rarely sprawls, Doug, even in its furthest reaches.”

        I haven’t been everywhere in rural England, but what I saw of it was stunning in its lack of what we think of as sprawl. Even suburbs that they describe as sprawl seem to be so much more walkable! (I imagine there are exceptions somewhere, of course.)

        Bernie, I got the feeling it is not so much the population being denser — smaller towns and cities were nicely walkable and dense in a way that most Western American small towns aren’t. One reason is that row-type houses are so much more common there. Some “suburbs” I saw had streets and streets of row houses near the high street and train station. That alone can make a big difference, compared to many modern American suburbs that have almost no dense housing and were designed for the auto. (Streets in these older towns that are now suburban were narrower than ours and more human-scaled.)

        But maybe I only saw the suburbs that don’t sprawl. I don’t claim to be an expert on UK suburbs.

    1. If Inekon wins the “rebid” most likely they’ll build the new streetcars here at Pacifica Marine since they are teaming up with Inekon to qualify for federal grants

  4. Just saw a truckload of Link tunnel segments heading for CHS … the first in a while …

    Anyone know when Brenda is scheduled to start boring the SB tunnel?

    1. And does anyone have a good map/progress sheet for the other two tunnels?

      That progress graphic ST puts up on their webpage is one of the worst graphics I have ever seen – and it is totally useless.

      1. the first one is now, apparently, under Volunteer Park … the second is not too far behind it

  5. Thanks for the article on the ORCA survey results. The silent majority of the ORCA-carrying minority has tepidly spoken! … and the improvement from a year ago almost made it beyond the margin of error.

    The one big surprise is that among those who have the card, there remains complaint about the difficulty obtaining an ORCA. Metro has responded accordingly, but it remains to be seen whether their choice of sites for the new ORCA VMs will prove to be effective.

    Given the dire results if change fumbling continues apace on October 1, 2012, there need to be at least some ORCA VMs on the surface in the Central Business District carefully placed to cover the busiest loading points, with the most routes that don’t also have an ORCA VM at the other end of the route. (That is to say, for example, that the 577/578 are covered with the ORCA VM at FWTC and the various stations.) Stops right next to tunnel entrances are also low priority, as long as SIGNAGE POINTING TO THE TUNNEL materializes.

    Renton TC, Southcenter, Northgate TC, and the Ave would be low-priority sites for ORCA VMs due to their downtown routes going through the tunnel (so those riders already pass by a gauntlet of ORCA VMs every day).

    Burien TC, Overlake P&R, the Alaska Junction, and Aurora Village would be somewhat higher, but still not effective as placing ORCA VMs at the most popular loading points downtown for the routes going out to those locations.

    And then, of course, the lack of a cash fare surcharge would also be a huge wimp-out with disastrous results. Don’t let the transit system down, county council. You’ve committed to ending the RFA. Now you have to vote for the policies that will make the conversion work.

  6. CH2MHill published a few reports for the Burnaby Mountain Gondola, near Vancouver. This project would connect a college to Vancouver’s SkyTrain. They recommended a 3S style gondola (two support wires, one drive wire – very fast and high capacity), and found a 25-year benefit of $500M and a 25 year cost of $157M. It will save users between 1.3 million and 2.0 million hours a year in shorter commutes compared to the bus.

  7. Just sent to the State Auditor a public records request via webmail:

    To Whom This May Concern;

    Please e-mail me all requests for an SAO-led performance audit of Sound Transit sent in 2011 or 2012 as well as all documents about the contracting of said performance audit.

    Unless told otherwise, I will send the results to contact-at-seattletransitblog-dot-com.

  8. I just wanted to give a quick shout out/thanks to everyone on STB (both contributors and commenters). I started reading this blog a few years ago, mostly out of curiosity, and am definitely a better informed and hopefully more rational transit user as a result.

    The value of a STB education became strikingly obvious recently when I got into a protracted debate on the topic of the proposed fall 2012 changes to the the #2 on Central District News. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to have a cogent discussion on this topic without my exposure to STB. I may not have gotten all my facts right, but it was definitely nice to be able to deal with the FUD/hyperbole from an informed position, which is what STB helps to provide…

    Thanks again!

  9. Points from the article on Hawaii’s rail system:

    $5.3 billion
    20-mile rail line that will be elevated
    Two-track line —a 30-foot-wide span, with 21 elevated stations — is The Scheduled for completion in 2018.

    $5 billion, 20 miles and done in 6 years.

    And before you can say it, doesn’t Hawaii have the highest real estate costs in the world? And doesn’t all the equipment have to be brought in by ship…to say nothing of housing the workers?

    Given these numbers and others from around the world…is there any doubt left that the City of Seattle and State of Washington is being ripped off by billions of dollars for a rail system that has taken much, much, too long to build??

    1. Good try JB, but no cigar. This is a a mostly rural project for future growth.

      …20-mile rail line that will be elevated 40 feet in the air, barreling over farmland, commercial districts and parts of downtown Honolulu…
      …designed to accommodate an increasing crush of commuters and tourists while encouraging new growth and development, particularly on this undeveloped part of the island.

      1. Uh…I don’t see how “downtown Honolulu” is rural.

        Also, from aw’s article, “attract 100,000 daily riders”

        Isn’t that more than twice of what LINK carries?

      2. Gah, building over “farmland” to “accommodate an increasing crush of commuters”? Apparently Hawaii builds transit the way the mainland has built freeways: as part of the self-fulfilling prophecy of sprawl.

    2. Points:
      (1) I do not believe the Hawaii route will be done in six years.
      (2) The route, although elevated, is *flat*. Water crossings are minimal. Engineering is simple. It’s a lot like the southern end of Central Link, all prefab segments.

      Seattle’s digging tunnels and crossing large bodies of water. Sigh.

      On the other hand, there are massive complaints in Honolulu about the fact that the line will be elevated. Sigh.

  10. I was reading a New Yorker complain that he had to wait 10 minutes, instead of hisbusual six, for a train because it was a NYMTA minor holiday. The horror!

  11. The 48 has been downright broken lately. Yesterday it took 3 hours to get from Green Lake to the CD, between slow/late buses and being passed-up by full buses. It would have been faster to walk. And it’s impacting both directions – a northbound 48 should never be a half-hour late at Yesler.

    Something needs to be done to keep this route usable during the Greenwood construction. Even if it’s just extra buses to maintain the scheduled headways in the face of delays.

    1. I was wondering how situation was turning out. I’ve heard other complaints. I’ll put in a call to Metro’s outreach people to see if we can get any official word on this.

    2. Even if it’s just extra buses to maintain the scheduled headways in the face of delays.

      The extra buses should be laid over just after the reroute zone. Metro would monitor the severity of the reroute delay, and would give the laid-over buses a radio the go-ahead to enter service whenever reroute traffic ensures more than 1.5 intended-headways of gap.

      Other cities do this sort of thing all the time. Metro themselves have promised to do so for RapidRide D should the viaduct C-D through-routing wreak havoc on promised headways. (I’m not sure I believe them.)

      This should have been written into the Greenwood project’s budget.

  12. I think it’s time for Metro to start padding the schedule of the 181 (or revising the schedule entirely). Last summer, traffic volumes (and bus ridership) were low enough that a bus leaving GRCC at 4:25 p.m. could arrive at Auburn Sounder Station at its scheduled time of 4:41, plenty of time to connect with northbound Sounder at 4:50. Last fall, however, weather conditions and traffic and street construction and ridership often conspired to delay the 181 from its schedule, sometimes missing the Sounder connection entirely. With street construction mostly complete, the 181 no longer has to take a 3-block detour through the most congested part of Auburn at rush hour, but it’s still about five minutes late getting to Auburn Station (too close for comfort).

  13. Perhaps of interest, hour video of talk “Can Universities Save Cities?”

    To build a world-class city, build a great university and wait 200 years. This, at least, was the wry prescription offered by the late Senator Pat Moynihan. If the advice wasn’t failsafe (neither Ithaca nor New Haven is really on track to become the next Manhattan), it nevertheless underscored the importance of institutions of higher learning to the vitality and cultural health of their proximate communities. Today, in the midst of economic crisis, American cities are increasingly turning to nearby universities for support in creating new sources of economic growth. These can take the form of full-scale research parks, such as the University of Pittsburgh Applied Research Center. Or they can take the form of smaller efforts, such as the new symphony orchestra that Syracuse University helped to establish after the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra went bankrupt. What untapped potential exists within current university walls? Can the ivory tower save a city like Cleveland, or even Detroit? University of Southern California President C. L. Max Nikias; Rice University President David Leebron; University of California, Los Angeles Chancellor Gene Block; and Arizona State University President Michael Crow visit Zócalo to discuss what our universities have in store for our cities.

    Writeup at

    And… maybe a Stanford campus in Seattle?

    1. “To build a world-class city, build a great university and wait 200 years. This, at least, was the wry prescription offered by the late Senator Pat Moynihan. If the advice wasn’t failsafe (neither Ithaca nor New Haven is really on track to become the next Manhattan), ”

      Hey hey hey, it’s not 2065 yet, there’s still time for Ithaca! :-)

      Of course, having ripped out all our railway lines, we have no chance. Ezra Cornell, who established the first railway line to Ithaca, would not have approved.

      Universities are lovely, but you need transportation too. Just ask Williams College, which is just too damned in the middle of nowhere to develop in anyway.

  14. the journal Transportation Science has shown that drivers who parked at the first available spot and then walked to their destination on average saved considerable time (never mind savings in gasoline and anxiety) over those who cruised around until a “better” spot opened.

    True that! What really just dumbfounds me are the people who go to the gym and circle the lot looking for a place closer to the door. The Bellevue Transportation Commission had a presentation on the DT mobility plan Thursday. One thing I found lacking was what effect being able to park once, shop many would have (i.e. the Yeti DT circulator). If someone drives downtown and has walking or transit options to get to say three separate places that’s 1/3 the traffic vs having to drive the few blocks between destinations. DT Bellevue has lots of pavement but is still gridlocked much of the time. Projections for 2030 are double the number of jobs and residents. Doubling the number of lane miles just isn’t an option. It was good to hear the realization that every driver becomes a pedestrian after they park and Bellevue is doing well on that front; at least DT.

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