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This is an open thread.

78 Replies to “News Roundup: Bills Slogging Along”

    1. Doubtful. There’s plenty of ROW for a taxi turnout and such, but I don’t expect there will be a Holgate link station any time in the foreseeable future.

      I honestly don’t think the stadium’s distance from transit is a problem. The bus stops on 4th are plenty close, even if they walk from Stadium station, sports fans are accustomed to walking much longer distances from off-site parking anyway.

      Seems like a pedestrian pathway along the busway between Royal Brougham and Holgate would be good and cheap, but it’d be a nightmare for KC Sheriffs to police after-hours.

      1. There is a mixed used (bike/pedestrian) trail along the east side of the light rail tracks going from Royal Brougham to Forest Street. I believe it’s an extansion of either the Mountains 2 Sound Greenway, or the Chief Sealth Trail.

      2. Lack: No Link station b/c of funding? Seems a relatively small ask from the Hansen group in light of the amount of $$ we’re talking in total.

      3. Unlikely not because of funding, but because of current stop spacing. It would be right between two already close stops. This would mean that Central Link would have a stop at every block through SODO.

    1. Kudos to Jarrett for putting his foot down and insisting that it is not productive to preserve every inch of hand-me-down trolleybus service if that comes at the expense of creating a system that everybody can use.

      If only I could think of some relevant, recent local analogue in which a plan for faster, easier service were scuttled by a minority who preferred their trolleys remain as slow and late as they’d been for decades…

      1. The 34, 39, and 56 aren’t trollies, but they serve streets with mansions and people who don’t want to set foot on the 7 a couple blocks away.

        The fact of a route being underutilized may be something the well-to-do want to hold onto.

  1. image

    SCRRRAPE.

    Seriously, every time an artic comes off of the viaduct. We can allow them there, but not on Madison? It seems like a worse angle.

  2. Reasons to get behind the proposed #50:

    1. It’s the most sensible transfer-based efficiency in the whole restructure package, since the 34, 49, and 56 have low ridership, and Link has the space to easily absorb the downtown portion of these trips.
    2. Implementation will yield better eastward connections for riders east of Columbia City Station and Othello Station (hopefully to include listing those stations in the printed schedule, which it currently doesn’t ).
    3. The downtown “bus lanes” will be a little less clogged without the 34, 39, and 56. We desperately need every bit of streamlining that can be done on 3rd Ave come October 1.
    4. If we lose on the 50, don’t expect Metro to invest in any more connections to Link.

    Metro needs to give the 50 a chance, and do it right. Align the afternoon eastbound bus departures with Link runs, and put those Link connections in the printed schedule. If possible, spread out the bus departures to serve different southbound Link runs, and make it really stand out in the schedule which station to go to with each Link run. We can and will satisfy the lady who complains about standing in the dark and rain for 25 minutes at a time at Columbia City Station!

    1. I emailed Metro my approval for the 50, mainly because the proposal will provide more frequent and regular clock-face schedules for the 39. Excellent idea about providing information about LINK connections, also the 50 printed schedule could show that there are plenty of bus connections from SODO Station (and other places) to downtown.

      1. Showing the connecting buses on the Busway and on 4th Ave S certainly ought to happen on the 50’s printed map.

        The city is still in the early process of deciding where to put a bus stop for routes going southbound on 4th Ave S and turning onto Lander. I talked to an SDOT rep who handles bus infrastructure investments Monday night. They still have to do a traffic engineering study to figure out where to put that. I begged him to just get one up, whether it be on 4th or Lander, as soon as possible, and let that inform the study.

        For the 50, I’d actually like to see a stop as close as possible to SODO Station in addition to the one on Lander around the corner from 4th. Maybe that means two stops on Lander. Given the large number of transfers that could go on there once the stops are provided, I think two stops that close together would be justified.

        One place I would disagree about the clock-faced schedules is for the Link-to-bus connections. Metro needs to understand how Sound Transit schedules the trains, but riders need assurance that the eastbound bus won’t leave a minute before the train it normally connects with gets to the station. The 50 riders headed home to points east of Link need “connection protection” as Metro calls it.

      2. that would be east of MLK, not so much east of SODO Station, where a lot of riders might connect via frequeny Busway or 4th Ave S bus.

  3. Regarding the publicola bit, and loosened parking requirements – what is their definition of “Frequent” transit for that purpose? 15 minute weekday daytime headways, at least?

    Pushing people on to 30-minute headway buses is a great way to turn them off of transit forever.

    1. On the other hand, we shouldn’t have parking minimums in the first place. Why does the city get to tell me how many parking spots I need to build on my own land? It’s my property, and maybe I don’t want a car.

      Now parking maximums I could understand, assuming we eventually decide there are too many cars in the city.

      1. What logical difference is there between the city telling you how many parking spots you must build, compared to what’s the most you can build?

        I’ll help you…none.

        The reason for minimums is to internalize a project’s parking demand, rather than externalize it to the street or neighbors.

        Obviously it’s a bit of chicken and egg, and regulations generally follow reality given the lack of nimbleness in government. I will always argue that a nimble government is a dangerous government.

        One could just argue that the market place can make their own decisions, which is arguably true. Might not always be what you want though if you think it’s within your power and rights to “eventually decide there are too many cars in the city.”

      2. BA is right.

        The point we need to drive home isn’t “free market über alles (except when I don’t get what I want)”. Instead we need to address our systemic preference for constructing and enforcing automobile infrastructure.

      3. [Kyle] I can agree with that, though I still see a large difference. I don’t mind government telling me what I can’t do – if I want to build a nuclear waste dump or even a bodywork shop in my residential home, it’s a good idea for society to keep me from doing it. But it makes me uncomfortable when government makes me buy something I don’t want, even if there’s a vague justification that it serves the public good.

        Hey, I have a solution to homelessness. Let’s require everyone to build a homeless shelter on their property. And a solution to our greenhouse gas emissions – just make everyone buy an electric car and cover their roofs in solar panels.

      4. My approach to issues like this is to create a market structure in which the desired outcomes for society align with the decisions making of the market. Policies that require parking for housing, are in my opinion restrictive and redundant.

        In places with plenty of street parking, requiring parking isn’t an issue because people can just park on the street, or because of housing preference renters/owners will demand on-site parking.

        In areas with a lack of on street parking, there is a demand for off-street parking, but only up to a certain price point. At this point a developer has to decide if building an extra level of underground parking, or for townhomes, if the elimination of a bedroom will result in a more desired housing option.

        Both of those examples show how market forces and public policy can align to provide the ability to build cheaper housing or bigger housing, if parking requirements are more flexible. So in my opinion allowing the market flexiblity gets to the desired goal of parking requirements, providing parking when it is needed, but does so in a way to balances this objectives with other objects we agree are desirable from a public policy perspective.

      5. Now we’re talking gibberish.

        If the government is telling you you can’t build more than X parking spaces and it’s OK because they’re preventing you from doing something…that’s again no different than telling you you can’t build less that X parking spaces.

      6. I admit it’s a nuanced argument at best, and I’ve already agreed with Kyle that there’s a better approach.

      7. I agree that we shouldn’t have parking minimums.

        On the topic of markets versus government fiat, there is a middle ground. You can recognize that the market is the most efficient tool for allocating resources but also think that there should be left and right limits that line up with stated policy.

        Seattle (and Washington) Policy is to become more sustainable. Requiring a minimum number of parking stalls does nothing to further this end. In fact it is counter productive as said parking is taking up valuable space and people are already paying for the infrastructure, so they might as well use it. Give people the choice (which is all the market is, allowing people a choice) on whether or not they want to pay for parking and see if that moves us towards our goal.

      8. I don’t think they should require parking or having parking maximums. The added cost to having a ton of parking is crazy, as much as $150K per space.

        It would suck if I used on-street parking all the time and then all of the sudden a development came in and all the on-street parking was taken away. This scenario happened to my tenants at one of the places I own, and it was a serious enough issue for them that they moved and mentioned it as the reason. When the LRT opens near Northgate, that should clear this up hopefully, but that’s a long time from now.

        So I understand the feeling, but we can’t build a society around a few peoples’s desire for free parking.

      9. Free, on-street parking is useful for *short-term* access — local deliveries, drop-offs, and pickups — and there’s a case for including handicapped-access spaces too.

        I don’t see a case for general-purpose long-term free on-street parking; I think it was done because it was easy to build (no markings necessary, no meters, no enforcement, just slap down some asphalt).

  4. I think those environmental laws are silly and are one of the reasons that transportation projects cost so much here (community outreach, too).

    1. I’ve heard stories (from WSDOT engineers) that some environmental laws actually end up causing more damage. There was a project in the past where (I’m not an expert) some sort of tarp had to be used to prevent a little bit of run-off. The tarp stretched 2-miles long, and it was temporary, so it was discarded afterwards. However it had to be done because of environmental protection.

      Now how do you balance 2 miles of disposable tarp/wasted materials vs. a little bit of run-off that most likely has negligible effects considering the amount of run-off that already goes into our waters?

      1. Plus, they had to pay somebody to interpret the rules figure out they needed the trap, and another guy to audit the environmental plan and make sure it was being followed to the letter of the law.

      2. I had a project that the local jurisdiction required a silt fence along one side of an excavation. Problem to me was that it was uphill of the ground disturbance, so it seemed rather implausible to me that it would catch any silt from the water presumably running uphill.

        That said, being very thoughtful about how to accomplish real environmental mitigation might mean a bit more upfront effort – as opposed to running miles of silt fence for example.

        We need to remember too that these seemingly minor environmental insults, repeated on the grand scale of society, become meaningful.

      1. The Department of Ecology is the state agency responsible for the Shoreline Management Act. Local jurisdiction write their own rules for implementing it under the oversight of Ecology.

    1. A MMORPG expansion pack, CnimbyCity, will be released during the fall rezone of the game, and will offer new heights of PvP sniping. In response, Rockstar Games has announced plans for a new Grand Threat Apartment release.

    2. Could one of you clever gamer types develop a Norm(an)City?

      Or is that persona, ad hom, and ot?

      1. Something like Carmageddon, as a tribute to the low, unsubsidized cost of cars, with side goals of counting link passengers while (mostly) trying not to collide with the said mass transit vehicle, perhaps?

  5. “Seattle Times article on parking in the International District has little evidence to back it up.” An article in a local newspaper is not a court of law. They don’t have to produce evidence. The statements and concerns from the International District business owners is sufficient and stand on their own.

  6. Barriers to entry!

    One of my co-workers commutes daily from Lynnwood to the CD, by himself, in a Dodge Durango. Today he mentioned maybe trying to ride the bus once, because of gas prices.

    He mentions “The new Mountlake Terrace Park and Ride” is right by his apartment, and figures he’ll just drive down there, look at “the maps” and figure it out.

    This seems like a very reasonable, rational way to start using transit. It will also turn out horribly badly.

    One of the customers overheard and chimes in “You need that Orcas card, it’s like 80 dollars but then you can ride all you want”.

    On my lunch (now) I’ve figured out the 511 runs direct downtown at 15/30 min headways from there, but I wonder how long it would take him to puzzle it out at the station. And then what happens when the cash fare ends up being $6 without Orca, and he finds out an Orca card is $5 and not easy to get in Lynnwood.

      1. It wouldn’t surprise me if they sold ORCAs at Lynnwood TC (I don’t remember where I bought mine, but it might have been Lynnwood TC), but probably not at Mountlake Terrace P&R.

        FWIW, if this guy shows up at Mountlake Terrace he’ll have no problem getting on a 511 to downtown Seattle. I’m not sure whether the maps available at Mountlake Terrace will help him much getting to the Central District, though.

      2. Have the run the telgraph wires out to Lynnwood yet? There’s this thing called the “Internet” you see and…

        But I wonder, how good is the ST/CT info that is published in the local telephone directory for this man?

        Not that anyone takes their phone book anymore.

      3. You want to force people to buy ORCA cards online? Some people prefer to do the transaction at a TVM or in-person, where they can immediately get the card and verify the transaction was correct. Otherwise you don’t know until the card arrives whether the transaction went through or the card was lost in the mail or somebody stole it en route.

      4. Dude’s not going to buy it online. He doesn’t have home internet access, and is not going to go to the library. He had a smartphone internet for a while, but cancelled it due to the bills.

        If he manages to blunder into the Lynnwood Transit Center, he might be able to get one.

  7. Idea for Metro Vehicle Improvement:

    Mandatory Perma-Sealed Windows On All Air-Conditioned Buses

    Obviously, passengers are unaware of the fact that rear-windowless buses are air conditioned and open up the windows anyway, destroying heating and air conditioning. ALL air-conditioned buses in the Metro fleet–2600’s, 6800’s, 7000’s, 3600’s, 6000’s and 2870’s, need to be fitted with perma-sealed windows (like on some 6800’s) if not already equipped.

      1. Indeed – AC is needed perhaps 10 days each year. Keep the openable windows and turn off the AC until it gets over 85F.

      2. Teach the drivers how to use the roof-hatches properly too!

        Front tilted-up-forward to scoop in air, but more importantly rear tilted-up-rearward to suck out air.

        Is this ever taught in KC Metro training?

      3. That roof-hatch trick is not nearly as effective as it seems like it should be. A fully open roof-hatch creates more suction than the angled position – pop both hatches all the way up and you get a flow in through the windows and out both hatches, with more air circulation than the “scoop” method.

    1. Remember in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, if the bus is in HUSH mode, the A/C will not run. Even though it’s usually a 8 to 10 minute trip, if a coach is delayed, HUSH mode may stay on up to 20 minutes. A crowded bus with no air circulation is not fun.

      1. Open a window. It is almost never overly warm in the DSTT. But plenty of fresh air as there is plenty of air being pumped into it.

      2. I remember riding the 194 from hell. The particular coach had sealed windows. It was crush loaded and delayed in the tunnel (because of people and their luggage) on a hot summer afternoon. It slugged and sweated up Southcenter Hill while a Link train effortlessly glided past it. Airport Link hadn’t opened yet.

    1. Because buses don’t work as effective as one would think. I had to take the 880 this morning due to the mudlside, and I thank CT for running it. But once and individual takes the train, it’s amazing how all of a sudden they bring their friends on-board to show them how nice it is to commute w/o dealing with I-5.

      Patience is what’s needed for the Northline. There are days believe it or not where it actually is crowded, gasp! I look forward to ten years from now to see how its doing then.

      1. What North Sounder actually needs is a new route. That shoreline is in trouble. It’s important to have a train between those points, but that is not a good location for the route.

        Unfortunately, that costs REAL money.

  8. Self-driving cars will be a reality within a decade

    Ford’s chairman and namesake Bill Ford took to the stage among technology companies at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week to reveal the ‘Blueprint for Mobility,’ which contains some intriguing insights on how the brand believes we’ll be driving in the future.

    Ford and its competitors such as General Motors already manufacture car technology which would have been unthinkable just a decade ago — radar-based collision warning systems, traffic-aware satellite navigation or automated parking, for instance.

    But now, the automaker has offered its vision of what will come in the next few years, the mid-term and long-term, suggesting that we’ll see a revolution in the way we drive.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/autos/self-driving-cars-a-reality-a-decade-article-1.1029880#ixzz1ntTXGP5H

    Self-driving cars: Bill would set rules for a new automotive era

    California lawmakers are starting to get ready for a new automotive era, during which the first self-driving cars will hit the roads.

    State Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) last week introduce SB1298, which would establish guidelines for such “autonomous vehicles” to be tested and operated in California.

    Tech giant Google, Caltech and other organizations have been working to develop such vehicles, which use radar, video cameras and lasers to navigate roads and stay safe in traffic without human assistance. Google has said that computer-controlled cars should eventually drive more safely than humans — who, after all, get sleepy and distracted and can’t see in every direction at once.

    http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-automated-cars-20120229,0,4764644.story

    1. They’ll be banned the year after they’re commercially available. Really. Please study the history of hysterical reactions to robots. They might be re-legalized two decades after that.

      I’ve told you before, if society were ready for robot cars, society would be OK with grade crossings on automated trains. Which it isn’t.

      1. To repeat: I’m not saying they won’t work. They will. I’m not saying they’ll be less safe than cars with human drivers. They’ll be more safe. I’m saying people won’t *accept* them as safe, and evidence bears me out on that.

  9. Air Products wants to supply California drivers with hydrogen

    …California has been the nation’s legal and atmospheric testing ground for air pollution control. The resulting standards have set the course for lower and lower vehicle and plant emissions across the United States.

    Now Air Products, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Trexlertown, is helping California develop its next wave of smog-clearing controls — hydrogen-powered vehicles. Company officials say they believe hydrogen fuel cell batteries will eventually revolutionize the nation’s auto manufacturing industry and then transform the nation’s energy policy.

    “It’s about energy sustainability, the environment and efficiency,” said Ed Kiczek, Air Products’ global business director for Hydrogen Energy Systems.

    Air Products’ effort is centered on the California Air Resources Board’s push to force the auto industry develop zero-emissions vehicles. That can be done with hydrogen fuel cells that emit nothing but water vapor from tailpipes. Air Products is one of several companies building the infrastructure on California’s so-called “hydrogen highway” that will allow consumers drive into a fueling station to top off hydrogen-fueled vehicles, which can go up to 400 miles on a full tank.

    http://www.mcall.com/business/mc-outlook-allentown-air-products-20120310,0,2483648.story

  10. The value of industrial land. (Reposed from the Arena thread in case nobody’s reading that one now that Sacto’s staying put.)

    Other cities like Vancouver and San Francisco have completely converted their former industrial land to condos and urban-form big-box stores. Those are productive assets that reduce sprawl, but they leave the cities dangerously dependent on a limited variety of jobs (basically “paper pushing” jobs). A city with a diversified job base is a healthier city, one better able to absorb downturns. Seattle is fairly unusual now in having so much industry in the city limits. A large part of that is the Port and container ships, but the other part is all the small companies in SODO and Ballard that are doing their thing. Industrial-zoned land provides a low entry cost for new small businesses, which one day may become pivotal businesses in Seattle’s economy, as Starbucks did.

    There’s a great new book, “The Battle for Gotham”, by Roberta Gratz, that gives evidence for this. The author was a disciple of Jane Jacobs, and her family’s life makes concrete what Jacobs said in generalities. Her father had a dry-cleaning shop in Manhattan that was displaced by urban renewal in the 50s, and they moved to the burbs right at the beginning of the suburban explosion. She loved the city and moved back for college (NYU), and married a man who had a metalwork business in Manhattan. His factory also got displaced by urban renewal and he moved it to Queens. She assures us that the factory does a gangbusters job and has many diverse clients because many kinds of businesses need a custom metal something. Many such businesses can exist in a single multistory building, in different industries, and their proximity to each other makes it much easier get things done and to find an expert in whatever you need. In short, the small forgotten industries make the economy go round.

    Seattle is lucky to have so much industrial land, and that so much of it is active. Its proximity to downtown and transit is a good thing. We do need more housing and more urban villages, but we need to think hard before converting industrial land to it. Is the land really unproductive now, and will no future industries ever need it?

    1. Active industrial land is important, indeed. Particularly “clean” industrial; industry was exiled to the suburbs because of the toxic chemical emissions, generally (though sometimes due to 24-hour noise or bad odors). Any industry which can avoid all of those is generally a welcome neighbor.

    2. There are different kinds of industry. “Heavy” industry is the kind that was so obnoxious it had to be moved out of neighborhoods, or needs such a large plant it can’t fit in a neighborhood. There’s also “light” industry, but I think Gratz says the term is problematic, so I’ll just say “small” industry for the kinds she’s talking about. The (former) Starbucks factory, Rainier brewery, import/export warehouses, wholesale distributors, Re-PC, recycling plants in SODO all qualify as non-obnoxious “industrial” uses, and Gratz also cites metalworkers, garment factories, theater companies (scenery and lighting), etc. Some of these need an entire block; others could fit into a multistory building. Indoor agriculture, if it ever gets off the ground, would also be another use. Vacant floors in these buildings can be leased to artists, hobbyists, and new businesses.

      The Sears in SODO is also more industrial than it appears from the outside. It sells mostly blue-collar work clothes and work tools. I think it also has TVs and household appliances, but not as many as in other Sears, and no huge clothing or furniture departments. It must have shed those when the Sears was downsized? I remember reading years ago that the store’s main problem was that everybody had forgotten it existed since it’s not in a typical suburban location; the article said its parking lot has much free space “you can park an Winnebago in it”.

      1. We need the heavy industry too: shipyards, steel mills, rolling mills, cement plants, glass factories, etc. There is a fair amount of that too, especially along the Duwamish.

  11. Anti-Sound Transit crackpot and disbarred lawyer Will Knedlik filed an unsuccessful recall petition of Aaron Reardon.

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/politicsnorthwest/2017636203_petition_to_recall_aaron_reard.html

    I’m not sure how he had time to write the petition since most of his time is taken up by testifying at every Sound Transit meeting, mumbling insults at the board members, filing frivolous lawsuits and attempting to walk on water (seriously, Google it).

    I guess he also thinks he has the power to recall politicians from outside his own district.

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