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This is an open thread.

51 Replies to “News Roundup: Number One”

    1. That whole war cost hundreds of billions.

      Think about the F-35. The planes will cost $1 trillion. Not billions, a trillion, a thousand billions. That’s hundreds of subway lines. The boeing tanker deal, which exists only to fuel the F-35, is another $50 billion.

      It’s insanity.

    2. The problem is with our bought and paid for Congress, if that extra money from the embassy were hypothetically available, they’d just spend it on tax breaks for the “job creators”. Furthermore, the republican controlled congress hates urban areas for they have predominantly democratic contstitutencies, therefore they vote against legislation that benefits urban areas, i.e., transit.

      1. It’s still depressing that we have to fight for $1-2 billion for transit investments at the same time that $1 trillion is spent in the Middle East in a way that certainly doesn’t seem to give the USA 1000 times the benefit. I’m not make the argument that we have no interests there, but the relative scale seems out of whack with the national interest and benefit.

  1. Regarding the S. Kirkland P&R TOD, it’s a shame that the expensive SR-520 rebuild doesn’t provide for a freeway station and/or ramps for buses remaining on SR-520 – something that would allow buses like ST 542/545 and MT 252/257 to serve this area at the freeway, and also allow connections to routes like 234/235.

      1. I guess the 252/257/311 could exit using the new HOV ramp, make a stop and then re-enter via the general purpose on ramp. Wouldn’t work well for the 542/545, however.

      2. If the network had been considered, this could have allowed the 255 to be replaced, for example, by a fast regional bus route continuing to Houghton P&R and Totem Lake, but with a timed connection at S. Kirkland to 234/235 for Kirkland service. Today the 255 and 234/235 are somewhat redundant through this low-density area

      3. Why wouldn’t that work for the 542/545? EB They could also exit through the center HOV ramps and reenter via the EB GP ramp. Same with WB (exit via the GP ramp, enter via the HOV ramp). This would add some time, but if you give the traffic lights TSP, then it wouldn’t be too costly. Then then 255 and 540 could be replaced exactly as you mention with transfers to the 542/545 (or any other of the busses across 520 every two minutes). If riders of the 545/542 complain you could eliminate the Yarrow Point freeway stop which has no transfers at all and serves a far less dense area then S Kirkland. There would still be some time penalty to cross over the GP lanes, but it would be small and greatly improve connectivity.

      4. Things I don’t understand: Why the 520 rebuild is building a lid on Yarrow Point, complete with a median bus stop. That same money could be used to build a median stop at Overlake TC to much better effect.

      5. As a user of the YP stop, I’ll defend it somewhat. I’ve used it for transfers, and while you need to be a reasonably sophisticated user of our transit system to understand how to use it, there are a few transfers made there. In particular between 545 to/from Redmond/Overlake to/from I-405 buses (e.g. 167, 311, 252, 257 and even 255). I agree that’s a limited market, but it has some use.

        Each of Evergreen Point, Hunts Point, and Yarrow Point got a lid to mitigate the impact of the massive SR-520 widening. In retrospect the WS-DOT design for SR-520 seems like massive overkill. What today is a 55-foot-wide roadway, with 2 GP lanes each way and 1 HOV lane is being turned into a 140-foot-wide roadway. While it is nominally 2 GP lanes each way and 1 HOV lane each way, it has over 40 feet of shoulders, and my cynical view is that it was built that way so it can be restriped as 3 GP lanes each way should the need ever be there. In any event, in order to get community buy-in, WS-DOT offered up lids, and kept the existing freeway stations, which do get some use.

        The bigger question is indeed why didn’t good stations get designed at S. Kirkland and at Overlake? Even with light rail coming to Overlake, there will be demand for bus service to the U-District and likely continuing ST service toward Renton & Kent. Also the freeway project is to finish in 2013 and I don’t know when light rail reaches Overlake, another 10 years?

        It is amusing to consider that WS-DOT’s name for the SR-520 work is “SR 520 – Medina to SR 202: Eastside Transit and HOV Project” when it is largely a roadway widening project. It does move the HOV lanes into the center. But all it does is preserve the existing stops – it doesn’t create new stops or infrastrucuture to dramatically improve operation – the HOV lanes don’t have good connections to I-405 nor at Overlake. Website: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/SR520Bridge/MedinaTo202/default.htm

      6. We’re missing the golden opportunity here to move the S. Kirkland P&R to the WSDOT owned property right on the 520 corridor. Instead of the lame so call TOD at the present site it should just move. Structured parking in a residential neighborhood to add shops and low income housing is stupid expensive. Instead build an Eastgate/Kingsgate like structure and include direct HOV/transit access to 405.

    1. At a absolute minimum, any redesign of the P&R should have aimed to keep the 255/540 running in a straight line down 108th Ave, rather than leaving the street to got into the P&R.

      All this does is needlessly make the service slower, less reliable, and more expensive to operate. The “less reliable” comes from delays caused by every bus in both directions sharing the same stop, which means a northbound bus now has to stop and wait because a southbound bus is loading or unloading a wheelchair. Furthermore, by making the trip slower for thru-riders, but not for people who drive to the P&R, we’re actually providing an incentive for people who live further north along the 255 route to drive the the P&R, rather than walk to the bus stop from home, thereby causing the parking lot to fill up a little bit sooner than it otherwise would.

      Similarly, the 234/235/249’s crazy detour into the P&R is also nuts, as it’s very unclear who the supposed beneficiaries of this are. Nobody in their right mind would choose drive to a P&R to catch a bus like 234/235 when the alternative exists of driving directly to the final destination (and the few who really want to do so can walk one block and catch the bus on Northup Way).

      The detour into the P&R doesn’t really provide any direct access to homes or businesses, so that leaves transfers. 234/235->255 is inferior to walking a few blocks and catching the 255 directly. 255->234/235 is most likely inferior to either staying on the 255 to Kirkland and walking a few blocks or taking 550 or 271 to Bellevue. The few people going to the tiny number of destinations who would benefit from this transfer can walk one block and catch the bus at Northup Way. For 255->249 and 249->255, a similar argument can be made.

      I don’t buy the argument that it’s worth slowing down everybody’s trip and paying for all those extra service hours so people making a transfer are spared the inconvenience of walking one block or crossing one street. At the end of the day, what really makes transfers suck is 15-20 minutes of standing at a bus stop, not 2 minutes of walking a block or crossing a street. If the street stops on 108th Ave and Northup Way are a less pleasant place to wait for a bus than the P&R stop, we can use some of the money saved by the elimination of the detour to fix this.

      1. It does seem like there could be a significant streamlining of service by putting bus stops along 108th Ave & NE 37th instead. The hill on 108th Ave doesn’t help things. I still think it’s fairly redundant to send the 255, 234, 235 & 540 all along this route which has little ridership, and that a good freeway station design and walkway could allow for more efficient network design, and also reduced operating costs and travel times. It seems like a missed opportunity.

        Network design and operating plans should influence infrastructure that gets built, and it so rarely seems to be done that way around here. I’m fairly sure transit dollars built the HOV ramp from SB I-405 to WB I-90 that is used by zero buses.

  2. This being an open thread, I thought I’d bring forth some math in my headshaking that the ST 560 still serves anywhere west of SeaTac.

    Scheduled run time on the 560 between Burien TC and Renton TC (averaged over both directions): 27 minutes

    Scheduled run time on the Metro 140 between Burien TC and Renton TC: 42 minutes (This is before any time savings in conversion to the F Line.)

    Scheduled headway on the 560: 30 minutes daytime weekdays; 60 minutes evening and weekends

    Scheduled headway on the 140: 15 minutes weekdays, 30 minutes evenings and weekends

    Average scheduled wait+travel time between Renton and Burien on the 560: 42 minutes weekdays, 57 minutes evenings and weekends

    Average scheduled wait+travel time between Renton and Burien on the 140: 48 minutes weekdays, 57 minutes evenings and weekends

    Of course, the 560 has to deal with traffic jams on I-405. The 140 does not.
    .

    If ST and Metro weren’t two separate agencies, it would be a simple matter to roll a chunk of 560 service hours into the 140 to enable a faster trip between Burien and Renton.

    At any rate, the value of the 560 as an express alternative to the 140 between Burien and Renton is negligible, and probably nonexistent once traffic jam data gets added in. There remains the value of the 560 trip between the airport and Renton and points north, given that the Metro alternative is a 2- or 3-seat ride.

    The 560 does not serve the portion of its route north of Burien TC off-peak, due to low ridership. The portion of the 560 between Burien and SeaTac is redundant with (and poorly interlined with) the Metro 180. If Metro and ST were the same agency, it would be a simple matter to extend the 120 to the airport, and thereby provide West Seattle a straighter and more frequent direct ride to the airport.

    1. The 120, at a minimum, should be extended to TIBS. It is maddening for the dense developments on the 120’s Ambaum section to so narrowly miss a 1-seat ride to Link/RRA.

  3. I guess a local option gas tax is OK. Personally I feel that anything that increases the price of gas to near what it should be is just fine.

    I’m not a big fan of the concept that even the local option gas tax would be dedicated just to roads, but lord knows our local roads could use the funding. And if our local spending on “roads” could also include the additions of sidewalks and certain surface runoff improvements, then so much the better.

    However, what I would really like to see is the ability to extend the local sales tax to gasoline. Revenue from a sales tax on gas would not be constitutionally restricted to roads, and could be used for a variety of transit and walkability improvements.

    So lets to both! Yeah.

  4. I’m an occasional 358 rider but I typically avoid it with safety concerns (and a general lack of patience for the craziness) being a big factor. It’s the only bus I’ve ever ridden where fist fights between riders are not an unusual event.

    I typically only take it northbound so I’m hoping the end of the Ride Free Area might help a bit headed in that direction. I’m not sure about southbound – when I used to take it more frequently years ago southbound seemed a lot quieter.

    1. If you commute into downtown on the 358, it’s not nearly as crazy as the evening northbound commute. I assume that’s because most of the crack heads and hookers/pimps aren’t awake yet.

      I have been riding the 358 consistently since the summer of 2006, and I’ve seen a lot of sketchy stuff. Including 3 people having (drug-induced?) seizures requiring a 911 call. To be fair, though, I haven’t seen any fist-fights, just an awful lot of shouting, including at drivers. I was hoping that the coming of Rapid Ride would improve things, but since Rapid Ride A was #3 on the list of “incidents” I guess it’s unlikely things will change much.

      That said, it’s not sketchy enough for me not to take my kids on it. My daughter and I took her first ride on the 358 in December (she was 2 months old at the time) and a very polite crackhead told me how cute she was.

  5. Why is this OK?

    From Seattle DOT:

    “Ballard Bridge Painting–No lane closures until last week of Feb. Sidewalk on the east side will be closed weekdays 6am to 3pm through Apr.”

    So SDOT has three lanes each way on the bridge, two for automobiles and one for Pedestrians and Bikes. But when it’s time to paint the bridge with Property Tax and General Fund monies, the decision is made to close the Bike/Ped one but not inconvenience the private automobile?

    Bollocks!

    1. Actually the city of Seattle does a pretty piss-poor job of protecting pedestrian access during construction around the city, even downtown.

      1. All of Washington State is like that. Sidewalks will be gobbled up during construction without alternative access even though (as I last remember researching it) DOT state law says that it must clearly be provided! Complaints went unheeded…

    2. @Erik G.

      The only way to settle the matter is for bikes to permanently ride on the roadway, like I do every morning since this absolutely screwy closure of the sidewalk has begun.

      Otherwise drivers start to think that they literally own the WHOLE road, and constantly try and intimidate bicyclists.

      BTW, I don’t know if those jerks on the bridge are actually working, well at least not hard.

      1. Erik – I know that you have brought up the bogeyman of an ADA lawsuit many a time. I encourage you to investigate the ADA and related law further to understand how the ADA works.

        In order for the ADA to be triggered, there needs to be new or reconstruction occurring on the site. From the work described, it appears that this is maintenance. If this was classified as new construction or a reconstruction, the accommodations must be technically feasible. A structural engineer will need to comment on this but it may end up that a 1930’s drawbridge may not be able to be brought up to ADA requirements without a complete rebuild.

        Also, note that the ADA law does not mean that every facility has to be brought up to code immediately. Instead, the ADA requires a transition plan so as facilities are reconstructed, they can be brought up.

        Finally, the requirements for facilities within the right-of-way have been changing. Following the initial release of the PROWAG in 2002, they have been revised following comments in 2005, and then updated in 2011. However, in all of these cases, the updated technical requirements are not considered law (yet) but rather best practices.

        All that being said, the Ballard Bridge needs to have some updated accommodation for pedestrians and bicyclists.

  6. New Metro web site:

    Love it. It puts what needs to be emphasized right up front — Trip Planner and Bus Schedules.

    At the point that OWA is real time, I would add a third tab to it (only integrate it into the general theme).

    Metro’s search requirements always puzzle me and I wonder if it gives other people trouble. I always want to put the city name in, but they tell me not to. Also, using abbreviations. Even if the user mistakenly puts them in, can’t they be reshaped in code for proper use with the database?

    Another nice feature might be to throw the user into a map if there is a question about which start or end point is meant. That would clear it up.

  7. Transit and low-density suburbs…

    TransLink targeting growing suburbs for transit expansion

    VANCOUVER(NEWS1130)-TransLink isn’t surprised by the latest census numbers, which show suburbs around Vancouver growing faster than the city itself.

    It is targeting some of those areas with the next phase of transit expansion.

    TransLink’s Drew Snider says 180 thousand hours of bus service will be added this year – more than half of those will be south of the Fraser.

    http://www.news1130.com/news/local/article/328764–translink-targeting-growing-suburbs-for-transit-expansion

    1. Vancouver “suburbs” are not traditional American, low-density suburbs.

      And as always, percentage growth is a horrible measure when comparing a large city with a small city.

      1. Another “city” in decline…

        Business growth stalls in Vancouver, suburbs thrive

        But data from the 1991 and 2001 censuses – the 2011 figures are not yet released – show that Vancouver, though still considered the core of the Metro area, is rapidly losing its regional preeminence as a place where people can find work. As far back as 2001, both Richmond and Burnaby had surpassed Vancouver’s ratio of jobs to workers. Since then, of course, both Surrey and Langley have come on strong.

        http://www2.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=3332a3cf-cb33-4862-bc64-716ec6b02c8c

      2. My friends live in New Westminster in a condo. Their neighborhood looks more like Ballard’s Market Street than, say, Redmond. I have no idea if their part of New Westminster is unique or something, though.

      3. @Adam; they’re even bigger houses with more complicated rooflines than we have here. Had to go to Willowbrook last week for my spouse’s dental appt., made White Rock seem downright normal.

        Vancouver is in for a HUGE meltdown, transportation wise. Doesn’t matter that the Port Mann is being twinned, the traffic and density is expanding way faster than the infrastructure can handle.

      4. Vancouver is headed for other meltdowns too. It has the most expensive real estate in North America, even higher than Manhattan. My Canadian friend suspects it’s the drug dealers laundering their money into real estate and not caring if the property goes down in value a bit. This month the Canadian press has started warning of a real estate bubble about to burst, not as bad as ours of course (because they don’t have 30-year mortgages and liar loans) but still significant. I expect Vancouver’s unique real estate situation has something to do with their patterns of growth.

        And we also know in the US that the cities with the highest housing prices (SF, NY, parts of LA) have the largest commuter belt.

        However, the different land-use patterns in BC are real. I haven’t been on the ground in east Vancouver or New Westminster, but the clusters of highrises around Skytrain stations is clear from a distance. They built a new downtown in Surrey in the 90s to focus growth and prevent it from all being low-density sprawl. Although there is lots of sprawl too.

  8. Speaking of Yglesias, is it just me or has the move to Slate reduced the quality of his writing? He writes a “business and economics” column now, which is fine as it is on the economics part, but he knows nothing about business and his posts are usually ridiculous (even some of his economics posts can be bad). Combine that with fewer posts on urban issues, and I think overall it’s worse than when he was at think progress or the atlantic.

    Thoughts?

  9. Are you trying to say something with your picture of the #2? It is not directly blocked or anything here. If you don’t want any of this and solutions discussed here, why a picture of the #2?

    1. The bus was stopped there for a few light cycles waiting to merge into the curb lane when I shot the photo.

      This blog is very particular about keeping discussion on topic. This news roundup is an open thread. Bruce’s post is not. Otherwise it’ll turn into another 100+ comment discussion about nothing related to what he proposed.

      1. The 2 bus in the picture is indeed blocked. Because, you see, I-5 traffic is backed up all the way to 3rd, and the impatient drivers will not let the bus into the lane where the stop after 4th is.

        Which is representative of what happens to the 2 every day!

        The photograph at the top of a “news roundup” also generally relates to one of the links within. In this case, that would be this link.

        Which you should read, Joanna.
        Seriously.

        And don’t neglect this comment.

      2. I was also at that meeting, and really felt like hollering “But what about the #3” at several points. You can take the 2 to the 3 and transfer if you’re that scared about going downtown, and change in Madrona.

        But as Justin says in that comment, the folks who were the most hostile to the change apparently don’t ride any other Metro routes, are scared to transfer downtown at all (not just at night), think the QFC on Broadway is the only grocery store in Seattle, and on and on. As someone who lives in the CD and rides the #2 very often (and walks to the Grocery Outlet Frank mentioned in his post) it was fascinating to hear the perspective at that meeting. I think of the 2 as a connector between various points and routes and destinations; many of those folks seem to think of it as their only available path from where they live to their particular destination, and any change to that configuration would be absolutely unbearable. I don’t envy Metro if that’s the bulk of the public comment they receive.

      3. So I will to comment that the #3 is not a good option for many of those who live in Madrona in response to the Orphan article. Citizens pay taxes and have a right to organize. Change for the better would be more well received than change for the worse. Safety issues do not always mean fear of a specific thing. Forcing more transfers on riders does raise legitimate safety issues. Anyone of us is likely to encounter less trouble and troubled people on a one seat ride compared to situations where we are forced to transfer. Bus2riders have proposed several solutions to the situation you describe above. Bus ridership all over town has increased, just as the ridership on the #2 has.

  10. As for all of the snide comments about not using other routes. That may be true for some on all routes. I was not at the meeting and live west of Madrona. The route #2 is the bus to all other routes and to many shopping options. I think many who do their main shopping at the QFC on Broadway also shop for some items at the Grocery Outlet. I would be more heartened to believe some rational dialogue could be had with most of the writers if the celebration of snide remarks regarding advocates for a good route that serves the community well were given a fair hearing. We are not proposing that crummy route down Madison for anyone else, but we don’t have to like it being proposed for us. It is not as if we haven’t been using the service as it is. I guess it is easier to make fun of us than to listen to us. Real solutions do not come from on person being right and everyone else being wrong.

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