102 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: A Better 44”

  1. I often take my pre-school boy on long rides with his trail-a-bike attached to my regular bike. I was wondering if it were allowed to take the trail-a-bike on a bus, so we can ride back on a bus if he is exhausted. Anyone know?

    1. I’m having trouble with your logic. Even if he were exhausted, what kind of effort does he have to exert on a trail-a-bike?

      1. If we are 10 miles from home, it’s over an hour to return. Even if he doesn’t do much peddling, that’s a long time for a pooped kid.

        Perhaps you have never experienced a tired 5 year-old, but I can promise, it ain’t fun.

        I’m just trying to determine a back-up plan to allow me to venture further and do more neat stuff.

        I figured there are enough metro-savvy folks here that I could get a definitive answer, given that if a driver says no-go, it will be too late to lock it up. If you don’t know, just say so.

    2. There is no official policy that I am aware of. The policy against bringing bikes on board is for safety reasons (What happens to the bike if I have to slam on the brakes?) As such, you’re in a gray area. If the trail-a-bike is small enough to fit under a seat or tucked away out of the isle, you are likely fine. But since it looks like a bike, you’re going to get about 3000 different opinions.

      I have a folding bike, which is explicitly allowed on board as long as I keep it out of the isle and secured, but I’ve had one driver who held the bus until the coordinator called him back to verify that it was Ok.

    3. Presumably, your type of trail-a-bike can be easily detached from your bike, otherwise you couldn’t bring it on the bus. If that’s the case, why couldn’t you just secure the trail-a-bike to the bike rack? Perhaps even bringing along a couple of bungee cords for extra security?

      But no, even small or half-bikes aren’t allowed on buses. You have nothing to lose by asking the driver, though. I’m sure there are plenty of drivers who will break the rules for you and allow you to bring it aboard. It’s a stupid rule, anyway. Why are small child’s bikes disallowed, but personal shopping baskets on wheels are allowed?

      1. Mike, what I was suggesting is that by Metro allowing a wheeled personal grocery cart on the bus, they are tacitly admitting that having such an item on the bus isn’t really dangerous, so the exclusion of things like children’s bikes is unnecessary.

      2. Some of us have to get to work (over the 520 bridge) but that doesn’t mean it’s allowed.

    4. Policy grey area. I’ve allowed them to be stowes on the bike rack. I have more of an issue withchild seats that extend above the grill and obscure the driver’s vie.

      1. Thanks. I do have something to lose by waiting to ask the driver. I will have to wait for another bus if he says no, because I would still need to do something with the trail-a-bike. Which can sometimes be disastrous.

  2. Bus bulbs and cue jumps are great, but the bus is still going to be stuck in the same all-day traffic congestion on 45th as before. Half the people on the route 44 are students. If they want to get to and from school quicker, they should ride a bike. The only way for the bus to move more quickly is for there to be less cars on the road. My solution … toll 45th through Wallingford. And I don’t know if this is legal or not, but make toll money collect from city roads to go to pay for free fully-loaded ORCA cards for the poor. Two birds with one stone.

    1. It’s called “congestion pricing”, Sam. If the general public were as enlightened as you are (or are pretending to be) we could solve an enormous number traffic issues.

    2. If you ride a bike you’re stuck in the same all-day congestion on 45th as before, because 45th/46th is the only way through I-5 in its general corridor (50th and 40th also go through but are pretty awful places to bike).

      I live in upper Fremont; my wife and I take the 44 and walk down to Wallingford pretty often. We think these improvements are a great idea. She says she sometimes beats the 44 from Fremont Ave to Stone Way on foot. It’s specifically stuck at that one light waiting to get up to the bus stop, which then causes it to miss the next light. A queue jump there would be a significant improvement. In Wallingford the westbound queue jump at Wallingford Ave is already a big help for the 44; other, similar jumps could have similar impact.

      Even though I generally like congestion pricing I usually don’t like tolling surface streets; I think they’re a basic public service. We should be tolling I-5, though, for the same reason we should toll all freeways; reducing traffic there would reduce traffic on many streets that feed it, including 45th.

      1. If you’re going all the way from the U-district to Ballard, I think you could beat the 44 on a bike just by staying on the Burke-Gilman trail.

    3. Several times I’ve walked from University Way to Wallingford Ave or Stone Way, a 20 minute walk, without seeing a bus even though they’re supposed to come every 15 minutes.

    4. I live on 40th Street. It is already a low speed freeway between about 7 am and 6 pm, such that crossing the street at a crosswalk can be a hazard. Tolling 45th won’t exactly improve that. No thanks.

  3. While researching smart card fees for transit agencies, I came across something unrelated that requires me to offer a retraction here:

    The Utah Transit Authority has a Free Fare Zone.

    Previously, I had erroneously claimed that Port Authority of Allegheny County (Pittsburgh) was the only other free ride zone in the country. I apologize for the previous misinformation.

    1. Portland has the free rail zone (no buses). Unfortunately that will disappear in October.

  4. Cleveland pursues hydrogen fuel for public transportation

    The Greater Cleveland Transit Authority has announced plans to pay more than $50,000 to the NASA Glenn Research Center for a new hydrogen fuel station that will find a home in East Cleveland, Ohio. The fuel station will serve a new fleet of hydrogen-powered buses that are expected to come to the city within the next year. One of the buses that will be used in the city currently operates in Connecticut. Cleveland is expected to sign a $2 million, one-year lease with the company that owns the bus to have it brought over.


    1. Ah, the GCRTA. Now there’s an agency I know something about (I’m a student in Cleveland). They should focus on having <30 min headways on the vast majority of their routes before they start dealing with H2 buses. They could also spend some $ on having 60 ft buses on routes other than the HealthLine.

      1. clarification for the post above, they have >30 min headways on most of their routes (I would not be surprised if you counted, about half would be 1 hr, with no service on sat. or sun.)

        OTOH, we have the rapid, which is 3 lines, and have 10 min headways on weekdays, and 15 min on the weekends.

        In fact, Cleveland had I believe the first light rail in North America. It was built by the Van Sweringen brothers for their planned suburb, Shaker Heights (named that because they bought the land from the Shakers, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaker_Heights,_Ohio )

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_and_Green_Lines_(Cleveland) Light rail
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Line_(Cleveland) Heavy, traditional subway type cars.

    2. Cleveland! Committed to doing the wrong thing.


      And again.

      And again.

      The Rapid is nice, but they haven’t managed to do anything sensible since the Red Line. Of course, part of this is Bush and state Republicans pushing to make the “Health Line” buses instead of a Rapid extension.

      Now watch Cleveland pay a fortune to buy that hydrogen and store it. And watch it be produced expensively from methane.

      Sigh. Cleveland. Sigh.

    3. The hydrogen-powered bus can travel for more than 80 miles before needing to be refueled

      And there’s the issue. The fuel tanks and fuel cells are still mighty bulky, so either range or seating still has to suffer. That range might be good enough for a tripper, though.

      Is the price of Hydrogen coming down or something? Seems like there’s been an upswing in the exhibition of fuel-cell powered heavy equipment lately. Is the fuel starting to get price-competitive with Diesel or CNG? I’d love to see a fuel-cost-per-mile figure on these.

      1. Is the fuel starting to get price-competitive with Diesel or CNG?

        Come on, the fuel is natural gas. Please don’t feed the Bailio… hydrogen is not a fuel; it’s a storage medium.

  5. My apartment building had its grand opening a few days ago. According to the leasing company, the ratio of cars to units leased so far is about 0.45. Given the demographics of this area (and this building), that’s a pretty impressively low ratio.

      1. 98 garage stalls for 184 units; units are a mix of studio, 1 bed and 2 bed. Cost for residents is $75/space.

        There are four at-grade spots facing the alley, two for zipcars, one loading, and one disabled.

      2. $75/month seems cheap. I paid over $100/month for a garage spot at 2300 Elliot 9 years ago.

      3. Holy cow, $75? My apartment two blocks away is twice that. Was that a move in special or something?

      4. $75/mo is one hell of a steal for parking in that neighborhood.

        I bet once the units fill in they rent off the excess spaces to the general public at twice the price.

      5. @Velo: Sadly, ZipCar doesn’t really pan out if you need to rent it for more than 4-5 full days (or 40 hours) per month. If you need a car for commuting, for example, it’s right out.

        Where Zipcar really shines is for (relatively) quick round-trips where the important part is carrying capacity. It’s also good for occasional weekend day trips to transit-inaccessible locales. But the prices make it much more suited for occasional than constant use.

  6. Another week of recorded parking in Seattle.

    Current Global Averages:
    Average Cost per Hour: $0.48
    Total Cost for Parking: $34.92
    Average Distance from Destination: 1.25 block(s)
    Average Time spent Searching for Parking: 1.02 minute(s)
    Total number of hours parked: 73.15 hours
    Total number of recorded parkings: 46

    I’ve also taken the time to map out what areas of the city I actually record parking in, to give a better idea about these numbers. When looking at the map, if my destination is in one of the lighter blue areas I record parking. These tend to be “urban villages” or places where parking is perceived to be difficult. If it’s a yellow area, then I will record it at least a couple of times to have a record of that area but if it is too easy then I’ll stop in order to prevent distorting my numbers. Green areas I may or may not record parking, depending on the destination and how difficult parking is. If I find that parking is hard, I will record it, but if I am visiting a friend’s house in the residential neighborhood and there is ample parking… then I will skip it.


  7. Good article in the NYT today about New York City’s planning department director, Amanda Burke. I wish she, with her belief in contextual zoning, ran Kirkland’s planning department, because of the proposed Potala apartments, with its 143 units being squeezed into 1.2 acres (with 1.7 stalls of parking per unit, with additional guest parking), in an area where 5 to 12 units per acre is the average. This kind of unlimited density doesn’t belong in Kirkland. http://www.stoppotala.com

    1. I think you’re barking up the wrong tree, Sam. NIMBY causes like this aren’t popular on STB. Viewing the renderings, this looks like a quite modestly-sized project for the Seattle area, so you’re not going to be hearing any outrage from this blog.

      1. Let me correct one thing I said. It’s not that something like this doesn’t belong in Kirkland, rather a high-density building, such as this one, shouldn’t be plopped down in the middle of a low density, mostly single family home neighborhood.

        As for NIMBYISM not being popular on STB, I think most of the bloggers here are NIMBYS, it just depends on the issue. Example, a light rail line going through their neighborhood? Perfectly fine. But a parking garage? Oh hell no!

      2. NIMBY stands for “Not In My Back Yard”. I think I’m a pretty good stand-in for STB attitudes on this sort of thing, so here’s a personal example:

        I oppose freeways almost everywhere. If a freeway was proposed through my backyard I’d join the Fremont NIMBYs in opposition, and if a freeway was proposed through Kent I’d join the Kent NIMBYs in opposition. But if I owned strategically located property and the city called me asking if it could buy my backyard to build a bike path I’d sell in a second (I’d be a YIMBY). And if a dense mixed-use development was planned next door to me I’d probably publicly support it, at least in that I’d oppose those people that wanted the city to ban it.

        The Fremont NIMBYs would, on the other hand, oppose the Fremont Freeway along with me, the Fremont bike path along with the Seattle Times Bike-Hating Club, and the Fremont light rail along with whoever all opposes that.

      3. There’s another issue around parking garages, Sam, which is who is funding the parking garage. I think few around here would argue that, in the abstract, developers should be stopped from building parking lots or garages on their own land with their own money (for my part, I’ll throw in: as long as the exits are safe and don’t cause sidewalk obstructions — I think the city would be right to restrict movements around the Dick’s parking lot in Wallingford, for example, for safety reasons). But we may believe the provision of free parking is a bad use of public money in many cases. A project has to meet a much higher bar to be worthy of public investment than to simply be allowed to be built.

      4. NIMBY is location-specific: not in my neighborhood (but in someone else’s). The second regional airport failed because nobody wanted it in their neighborhood. Sometimes NIMBYs in different neighborhoods support each other out of solidarity, but if their complaints aren’t really neighborhood-specific at all, it starts getting into BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone).

    2. Way too many parking spaces; 316 spots for 143 small apartments and 6,200 sq ft of commercial space.

    3. Most of the comnenters/bloggers here are Nimbys, Sam. Thanks for calling them on it. Neighborhoods are important…more important than one groups over-world view.

      1. You’re wrong Glenn. Most of the commentators don’t have a “backyard”. For the most part they’re pontificating about neighborhoods they don’t live in. If the changes are to where they live it’s not a big commitment since they’ll likely be long gone whether it’s a success or a failure. It’s mostly just rage against the machine. So is it in dense MF housing where David Gilmour lives? Footnote, he’s been very philanthropic with his fortune… from Soho down to Brighton I must have played them all!

      2. Careful observers will notice on STB that while certain bloggers/commenters here are quick to accuse others of NIMBYISM (Surrey Downs), when caught being a NIMBY themselves, they deny it, claiming that because they object to a project on principle, they are immune from being labeled a NIMBY, which is total nonsense.

      3. I want to knock down my house and build a skyscraper. Is that un-NIMBY enough?

      4. Are you being intentionally dense, Sam? Nimbyism by definition means objecting to something—transit, homeless shelters, retirement homes, etc.—that you support in principle but don’t want in your neighborhood because, well, you’re exceptional and homeless people are not. If you oppose something in principle—parking garages—opposing one in your neighborhood ain’t Nimbyism.

        Bernie, your narrow parochialism will make perfect sense the moment we start discussing local issues that don’t have regional impact. So, never. Not to mention the fact that pretty much everyone here has votes or taxes involved in pretty much everything discussed here.

        Glenn, still waiting.

      5. Bernie,

        I think you’re getting your classic rockers confused. :)

        More seriously, it’s been explained many times that the commenters and posters on STB lived in quite a few different neighborhoods and locales. I live on Capitol Hill, as do Adam, Zach, and Mike Orr. Bruce lives on Belltown, and the changes he’s discussed to the 2/3/4 (among others) would directly impact him. Oran and Sherwin live on the Eastside. Martin lives in Rainier Valley, and of all the regular contributors, he’s been the primary advocate for restructuring service there. d.p. lives in Ballard.

        Personally, I see the ability and willingness of STB contributors to look beyond their own neighborhood as a strength, not a weakness. But even so, there’s no question that, whether we mean to or not, many of us put the most energy into pushing for the changes that will directly affect us.

        Also, just because I don’t live in a neighborhood doesn’t mean that I have no stake in it. I regularly travel to the U-District, Fremont, Ballard, and Redmond/Overlake, for example, and would travel to many of those destinations more often if transit were more convenient. One of the reasons that I supported rerouting the 5 down Dexter, for example, was that I used to live at 46th and Phinney, and I was acutely aware of how difficult it was to get to Fremont, despite being such a short distance away.

      6. classic rockers confused

        Gilmour’s place is in Brighton and I bet Townshend visits regularly. They probably talk about money while playing pinball :=

    4. I’m looking at 10th Ave S & Lake, Kirkland, in Google Maps Street View, and I don’t see what the problem is. The developer’s elevations show that the surrounding hills will obscure nearly half the building’s height from view from certain angles. Half (I’m guessing) the buildings in that area are already commercial or multi-family, especially along the Lake St/Lake Washington Blvd arterial.

      1. The problem is this project is ten times the density of the neighborhood. It doesn’t fit, and some believe the city is throwing the neighborhood under the bus in order to make a buck.

      2. “and some believe” = weasel words

        So the units/acre density of the development is numerically higher than the average for the neighborhood. I still don’t see that density, per se, as a problem. The building itself doesn’t look out of place for the area (again, there are numerous commercial and multi-family structures in the area, and the building doesn’t rise extraordinarily high above the surrounding terrain). Moreover, other commenters (e.g. Yorik, Lack Thereof) suggest several possible benefits of this new development.

    5. The urban eastside needs more apartments, wherever they can be shoehorned in.

      Rental pricing over there is more unaffordable than in Seattle!

    6. The project looks very reasonable for a desirable (near waterfront) location in the region’s urban core. The neighborhood will also likely wind up better off with it – more neighbors means more and healthier businesses to shop and dine at, more transit service, and more voting clout as a neighborhood within the city and as a city within the region/state. Probably not going to be a lot of armaggeddon (nuclear bombs, alien attacks, etc.) like the website’s graphics suggest… just regular people trying to live in Kirkland.

  8. as to the 44, the bigger delay is from 15th TO the freeway. The other day I wanted for three lights for the bus to go from 15th to the Univ Ave. I finally decided to walk because I was only going to Tully’s on 45th in Wallingford. I WALKED faster than the bus arriving about 5 min before the bus. There don’t look to be any changes in that section…so we are in the same position in terms of reliability for that section – which makes the whole process fail.

    1. It doesn’t make the whole process fail. There will be reliability improvements for the whole route even if speed through the U District is unimproved. The existing queue jump at Wallingford Ave isn’t a failure just because there are problems near Aurora and I-5. It’s still a small improvement that should be built on. This will be a moderate improvement that should be built on.

      45th through the U District can certainly be a mess for buses, and it’s used not just by the 44, but the 43 and 49 briefly, and various peak-hour routes coming from I-5. It’s indeed disappointing that there aren’t any improvements coming there.

      1. Its been a while since I last rode #44. I seem to remember lots of on-street parking on 45th between Stone Way and Interstate 5. Recalling an argument on here against street parking(why should the public pay to allow people to park on the street?), we should ask why 45th couldn’t get rid of the parking and allow for bus lanes, at least in that segment?

      2. Fair enough – it just seems like for such an investment overall, that this relatively short stretch should have been included…I guess the question is how because there are two lanes now and not room to expand. Timed lights probably wont work as the back up is the I5 entrance…perhaps routing more of those cars to the 50th st entrance? Onluy carppols can enter at 45th?

      3. That is the issue. We could build a basic level of BRT cheaply by converting parking lanes to BAT lanes, not just on 45th but also on 15th W, 15th NE, Aurora, Roosevelt — every street that has a trunk bus route. That’s what happens in Europe. But here, parking lanes are sacred, and the Wallingford business will say they’ll go out of business if their customers can’t park there, because the customers will go to University Village instead. So you’d end up killing an urban neighborhood and entrenching a parking-lot mall further. They do have a point to some extent, because transit has been substandard for so many decades, which has made people accustomed to driving to Wallingford shops.

      4. Of course, there isn’t really all that much street parking capacity on any street, and having people trying to park parallel on an arterial road really gums up the works even more (this is certainly true on 45th).

        Meanwhile there are still quite a few surface parking lots in Wallingford (some front the street like Dick’s; others are hidden away, like at Chase Bank, the liquor store, and to some degree QFC and Wallingford Center) and the overall parking utilization is never all that high. I think if the business community got together it could find ways for businesses to pay eachother for shared customer parking rights — they could increase space efficiency and maybe even increase average real parking availability even without street parking.

      5. Al, that’s been my complaint about on-street parking for years, the parallel parkers that can slow down ALL the traffic trying to squeeze into a tiny parking spot. Get rid of the on-street parking on main roads like 45th, Roosevelt, etc, and traffic will flow much more smoothly. In the case of Wallingford, there are plenty of spots to park on the side streets for the afternoon shoppers. Parking one or two blocks away is actually a shorter walk for most people than if they park at a mall like University Village or Northgate where they have to walk across a huge expansive parking lot(or garage at U Village). If residents complain about ‘their’ parking spots being taken, well then clean out your garage and put your car into it! Nearly every house between 47th and 43rd between Densmore and Sunnyside has a garage–use it! Why should the public pay for you to have a parking spot on the street when you already have a garage?

    2. Transit on the Ballard/45th/U-District corridor will probably be frustrating until it’s grade-separated- something like the Purple Line on the Seattle Subway vision page. Since that’s more than a dozen years away, even under the most optimistic circumstances, the only near-term option for the corridor is to improve the 44 service with signal priority and bus bulbs.

      I had thought Prop 1 would fund some improvements on 45th between 15th and I-5 (if it had been approved)- maybe there will be another chance to fund U-District improvements later this decade. Right now, Seattle’s Transit Master Plan only says “Additional study needed between I-5 and 15th Ave to identify feasible priority measures”.

  9. After surfing various agency websites, card websites, vendor websites, and an op-ed about the cost of and poor customer support service for LA’s Tap Card (since the price was not easily obtained on their dysfunctional website), I have the following data to offer:

    Of 18 transit agencies or consortiums around the country that have transit smart cards, ORCA is indeed the most expensive. It tied with the the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s SmartLink, the Port Authority Transit Corporation’s (Philadelphia to Atlantic City) Freedom Card, and DC’s SmarTrip. The asterisk here is that the two New Jersey smart cards are only used by train agencies, and are not used for any buses. So, Metro’s only peer agency that charges $5 for a smart card is the Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority.

    Coming in third is Maryland’s CharmCard at $2.50.

    Coming in at a four-way tie for fourth at $2 are LA’s Transit Access Pass, San Diego’s Compass Card, Spokane’s GO Smart Card, and South Florida’s EASY Card.

    Atlanta’s Breeze Card is $1.

    But the industry standard (if you define the mode — most common price — as the industry standard) is FREE!

    Boston’s Charlie Card is free.
    The Chicago Card is free for first-time registrants.
    Houston’s Q Card is free with registration.
    Minnesota Metro Transit’s Go-To Card is also free with registration.
    San Francisco’s Clipper Card is free with a purchase of $5 of fare product.
    Go Ventura is also free with a fare product purchase.

    Phoenix’s Platinum Card is available only through employers, and not available to the general public.

    The Utah Transit Authority accepts major contactless credit and debit cards, with tap-off strongly encouraged. It also accepts various specialty smart cards, such as through schools, but it doesn’t have a general smart card available to the public for those who don’t have a credit or debit card, or access to one of the specialty cards.

    The average card fee for bus agencies/consortiums in the US is $1.54.
    If you don’t count ORCA, the average fee drops to $1.27.
    And again, six of the fourteen bus agencies that have publicly-available smart cards charge no fee for obtaining them.

    1. yes … but do all these systems use cards with embedded antennae / RFID chips? or are they like the NYC Metrocard which is flimsy plastic w/a magnetic strip?

      1. Most are the real smart card RFID variety. Also of note, Chicago CTA will replace ChicagoCard every 4 years no charge. It seems some ORCA cards are failing and people are being charged for their replacement.

      2. These are all smart cards. The particular agencies may have other fare media as well.

      3. I believe every single agency which charges for a smartcard has other fare media.

        I haven’t rechecked all of them recently. Since you have :-) perhaps you could say whether there are any which don’t.

        I know for sure that San Diego, LA, DC, PATH, PATCO, and Maryland have other fare media. (and as long as they charge for cards… they always will.)

        I’m pretty sure Maryland, Atlanta, South Florida, and Spokane do as well.

      4. Nathanael, I’ll answer the converse of your question by listing the other media for the six agencies that give the smart cards out for free.

        MTBA still has the CharlieTicket, a paper non-reloadable version of the CharlieCard.

        Chicago still has “Transit Cards”, which are essentially e-purse-only versions of the Chicago Card. Don’t ask me why they have those.

        Houston has printed train tickets. For buses, the choices are Q or cash. I never thought I’d be jealous of anything Houston does.

        Minnesota Metro Transit has 10-ride cards, passes through various specialty programs, and ticket (voucher) books.

        SF Muni has paper passes, ticket (voucher) books, and transfer receipts. The receipts double as proof-of-payment for cash payers.

        Ventura has multi-ride tickets and multi-day passes.

        Eliminating the card fee could lead to elimination of all other fare media except cash and train tickets (as in Houston), but not necessarily (as in everywhere else).

        Metro’s report on expanding ORCA adoption mentioned the need for a report to the federal government on mitigation for poor riders if and when Metro decides to differentiate fares between electronic media and cash, or to eliminate paper transfers. It may seem obvious that eliminating the card fee would count as mitigation, but that is not established case law yet, as far as I have seen.

      5. Chicago Transit Authority’s “transit cards” are the plastic magnetic stripe cards that must be dipped into magnetic reader-writer units. They are reusable and reloadable. The agency does not charge anything for these cards beyond the initial fare purchase.

        CTA also has two smart cards: The stored-value Chicago Card works essentially the same as a transit card, while the Chicago Card Plus is linked to an online account and a credit card. Each card nominally costs the user $5, though there are various ways for first-time purchasers to have the cost waived.

  10. Can anybody tell me how the five dollar fee for an ORCA card was arrived at? And same for the $5 minimum for adding money to the E-purse?

    Mark Dublin

    1. I think the card itself costs something like $2.50 for the plastic and the embedded antennae and RFID chip (and whatever other bits of silicon are inside it)

      then there is the distribution costs and the “it need to cost something to the user so they don’t just throw it away” cost

      1. In other words, they just made up the number.

        If you care about “it needs to cost something to the user so they don’t just throw it away”, you use a refundable deposit like in London.

      2. $5 may very well have been a typical smart card purchase fee in 2009. Various agencies have lowered the fee over time.

        Metro/ST may not have noticed.

    1. Most of the 8’s problems come from Denny, which is virtually unfixable — just too many cars trying to get to/from the freeway.

      1. True, but can’t they make a queue jump on some of the lights on Denny?

        Also, are you sure that Denny is the only bottleneck? It’s such a long route.

      2. I would think that some congestion pricing of I-5 and/or Downtown Seattle would do wonders at fixing Denny.

      3. I’ve been meaning for months to write a “why we can’t fix Denny” post. To elaborate a little on my answer…

        Denny has four problems:

        1. It’s full of cars, commonly gridlocked in the peaks.
        2. It’s on a grid break. so there’s lots of hellciously ugly multi-way intersections that are hard to signalize at the best of times.
        3. It has no street parking that can be taken, nor little pockets of “extra” lanes (where the road briefly widens for some reason). You need such spaces to be able to create queue jumps.
        4. It has lots of crossing transit service: 1st Ave N/QA Ave, 5th Ave N, Dexter, Aurora, 9th Ave, Westlake, Fairview. This means that “hold or advance green” signal priority is not appropriate, as time added to the cycle to benefit the 8 directly detracts from the speed and reliability of the crossing routes, many of which actually carry more people than the 8.

        Of those four problems that Denny suffers, 45th St suffers only #1, which is why it’s far more amenable to such minor improvements.

        If the 8 were split at its historic terminus (Group Health on Capitol Hill), the “south part”, running mostly on MLK, would be very reliable. It wouldn’t be particularly long (only a little longer than the 9X), and most of MLK doesn’t suffer major traffic issues, except around Mount Baker, for which SDOT has a potential fix if they can get the cash together.

      4. Of course, if we split the 8, the two routes could overlap. So the north route could go from Seattle Center – 15th (or 23rd or Madison Park), and the south route could go from Rainier Beach – Capitol Hill station. That way the south route wouldn’t end in the middle of nowhere, less than a mile from a Link station.

    2. The problem of Denny is the problem of Washington.

      Inadequate East-West roadways at every level.

      Streets that should be highways to pull cars off the the other streets.

      1. Unfortunately highways don’t pull traffic off of anything. They tend to add traffic in the long term, which means you’re stuck with the same congestion but you’ve killed walkability and made long travel distances effectively necessary for more people.

        This is true even if, as you insist, regional population is destined to drop, as people are driving longer distances and taking up more road space daily. Building highways out of congestion has been tried and failed; if our east-west streets are overwhelmed in dense urban areas we should be reducing the magnitude of north-south highways.

      2. Not true at all. Over time business and jobs follow people out of the central city and disburse themselves naturally over the whole highway accessible area. However, in many cases, inadequate highway planning and zoning, coupled with an ideological government planning ethic that favors pie-in-the-sky mass transit “solutions” over simply doing more highway infill and encouraging horizontal sparsity cause the problems.

  11. Oh good. Comment #44 on the MT44.
    This sounds good. One of THE worst chokepoints to the whole route is the left turn from 15th to 45th, due to 45th being gridlocked all the way to I-5. That just kills the route on the WB PM peak. With that, the rest of the day should be helped by letting the bus get a little jump on traffic. Anything helps.

  12. While getting rid of paper transfers is not on the table, we could be a little creative.

    Don’t offer paper transfers in the Central Business District. If someone wants a transfer, they can go get an ORCA, which is not far away.

    If this works, the vast majority of paper transfers will go away within days of the RFA going away. Of course, we don’t have to wait until September 29 to make it a policy that paper transfers are not offered in the Central Business District.

    If this is too much for Metro to swallow, at least ban paper transfers from being given out on 3rd Ave in the CBD, and in the DSTT. The effect will still be noticeable within days.

    Think of it this way: We already don’t give out paper transfers in the CBD during RFA areas. This would just extend that policy to all hours, for consistency’s sake.

  13. I’ve been searching for this but I haven’t found it. What will Metro’s fleet look like after all current bus orders are fulfilled? Will all of the 40′ high floor diesels be replaced by low floor Orions? Will all of the high floor articulated buses be replaced by new 60DLFs? I’m kinda curious what the fleet will ultimately look like.. (I recognize that it’ll be constantly changing, but I’m trying to understand what the current plan looks like.

    1. The plan WAS for all of the 40′ Gilligs to be replaced with Orions, leaving us with a 40′ fleet of D40LFs and Orion VIIs.

      However, Daimler is killing off Orion (building transit buses for the US market is not very profitable – the market is too small). Metro is basically getting the last batch of Orions that will ever be made. I have not yet heard if Metro will get enough buses to replace all the Gilligs.

      1. …which is a shame, as the Orion VII is one of the best-designed busses in North America. Much brighter, more open interior, with an excellent ride – as long as the person driving it has figured out how the acceleration is different on the hybrids.

  14. MTA Promises a Greener Future for Michigan

    FLINT, Mich., May 21, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — The Mass Transportation Authority (MTA) today unveiled its new hydrogen fuel cell bus and opened their alternative fuel facility in Grand Blanc Township. The MTA is the first transportation agency in the Midwest with a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. The vehicles will be stored at the Grand Blanc Service Center and Alternative Fuel Facility location.


      1. Flint is the perfect place to create a Hydrogen Economy to restore what was taken from it during the de-industrialization of the auto business there.

  15. You got your Copenhagen.

    I got my Oslo!

    Hyundai teams with Norway’s Hydrogen Operation to support pilot project in Oslo

    Hyundai’s hydrogen-powered SUV getting a lot of attention

    South Korean automaker Hyundai continues to make waves in the world of hydrogen fuel as the company announces an agreement with Norway’s Hydrogen Operation (HYOP). Hyundai has recently been ramping up efforts to promote its hydrogen-powered vehicles. The automaker’s Tucson ix35 SUV has been gaining a great deal of attention because it is one of the few hydrogen-powered SUV being developed. As part of its effort to promote hydrogen fuel cells, Hyundai has been looking to partner with parties in other countries to bring the Tucson ix35 to more markets around the world.


  16. SDOT has an 82 page study of the options they examined in 2010 for improving the Route 44’s corridor available as a PDF here.

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