King County Metro 1999 New Flyer D60 2336 and others by Zack Heistand

This is an open thread.

57 Replies to “News Roundup: Second Time Around”

  1. FYI … FHS news

    the contractors have saw-cut the SB (inbound) trackway from Howell St. to Pike St … next up is asphalt grinding and then excavation for the trackway (per this week’s construction update) … that should all start on or around this weekend … regardless the first rails should be in the ground very soon.

    Metro / SDOt considers the Southbound leg “Inbound” and the Northbound leg “Outbound” if you come across those terms re: FHS.

    1. oh yea … I put a composite image of the construction plan for the First Hill Streetcar on zoomit … (sorry for some blurriness where a few of the humongous images didn’t align exactly)

    2. ok … confirmed with @seattledot … tomorrow SB trackway excavation begins from Howell St to Pine St.

      recommended drivers stay away from Broadway if at all possible as it will be a mess there

  2. This is an open thread, right? I got an e-mail from Metro last night saying the alignments for Rapid Ride E and F are now posted on Metro’s website. Regarding the Linden deviation, they’re keeping it northbound only, and the stop will be south of 65th–from the map it looks like it’s near the church? Southbound, the routing stays on Aurora and that’s where the stop will be.

    1. In that case I’m surprised that they didn’t keep it southbound too, since in that direction the deviation is nearly delay-free — the right turn onto Winona from Aurora is either green or there’s opportunity for a right on red, and there are no disruptions or lights on the rest of the segment.

      Northbound, meanwhile, *always* has to wait at the signals for both left turns (Aurora onto 63rd, and Winona back onto Aurora.) I hope those two lights have aggressive TSP implemented.

      1. Totally agree. Those two lights slow things down a lot. I guess the neighborhood’s safety concerns trumped speed–now they won’t have to cross Aurora (either over it via the crosswalk at 65th, or under it via the underpass farther south). Also probably saves Metro money since they won’t have to upgrade the crosswalk?

    2. There’s a contradiction here, or two different proposals, because the one I saw said almost the opposite, that it would go north-south on Aurora, unless Metro fails to get SDOT to make a short bus lane on Aurora, in which case it would go southbound on Linden and northbound on Aurora.

      I got an email Thursday saying Dow Constantine was about to introduce an ordinance proposal fixing the E and F routing. It didn’t describe the routing but just linked to a RapidRide page, which didn’t say either. So I searched the county’s website and finally found the legislation search page and the proposal.

      It says, “The E Line will replace Metro’s Route 358. Between the Aurora Village Transit Center and downtown Seattle, the preferred E Line alignment primarily follows the current Route 358 path. The one exception is southbound between Winona Avenue North and North 63rd Street, where the E Line will stay on Aurora Avenue North rather than operating via Winona Avenue North, Linden Avenue North, North Woodland Place and Aurora Avenue North, as Route 358 currently does. Metro is in discussions with the City of Seattle to convert the far-right of three southbound Aurora Avenue North lanes to a transit lane for a short segment to site a RapidRide stop on Aurora Avenue North in the vicinity of North 66th Street. If Metro is unable to site a southbound RapidRide stop on Aurora Avenue North, the E Line will operate southbound via the current Route 358 routing with a single southbound stop on Linden Avenue North.”

      1. Also, your link to the proposed legislation isn’t working. I tried searching the legislation database, but it just spun and spun and never connected. If anyone can access the text of the legislation and post it here, that would be helpful.

      2. The “proposal” link is the same as the “page” link. I didn’t realize until after I posted that the result URL is the same as the search URL. Search for “rapid ride e”. It’s file# 2012-0225.

    3. Also, I am really wishing more stops through the city were being eliminated. They could start with mine, at 125th (I would happily walk to 130th instead), and I also think 95th is a dumb stop. In addition, the alt high school program at the stop by 90th is being relocated to Northgate Mall (this would be another good reason to put in a ped bridge, so the kids going to Middle College High School at Northgate can get to classes at NSCC), which makes that stop’s usefulness substantially decreased. So really, they could eliminate either 90th or 95th or both. If it’s just going to be 358 with a tiny increase in speed due to limited stops on Linden, then what is the point in spending all this money?

      1. 15-minute service evenings and Sundays. People take transit more if they know they won’t have to wait more than 15 minutes, and if they don’t have to look up the schedule to see the exact time it stops being frequent that day. Metro could do this with its regular buses, and it has done it on the 7, 36, 49, and a few other routes, but it has taken a federal grant to get it done on RR A and B.

    1. How is that walkable? The sidewalk (only on one side of the street) dead ends. Your choices are to walk in the road or through the large parking lots. Zooming out, in order to reach this area you’d have to walk from a highway through large open fields or a golf course.

      This is clearly driveable and likely bikeable, but walkable?

  3. New hydrogen-powered bus coming to Austin, Texas

    Hydrogen-powered buses seem to be a craze in the U.S. In some parts of the country, these buses are becoming commonplace. The city of Austin, Texas, is expecting to receive its first hydrogen-powered bus sometime this month.

    The University of Texas at Austin has announced that it has partnered with Capital Metro, a public transportation provider for the city, to roll out a new kind of hydrogen-powered bus that is said to be more efficient and powerful than other models.

    1. a new kind of hydrogen-powered bus that is said to be more efficient and powerful

      It’s the new model LZ-129 :=

      1. I see what you did there. ;) Unfortunately, it only serves Lakehurst, NJ (and only once).

  4. There’s a massive road construction effort going on in Renton on Rainier Avenue South from S 2nd St to Grady Way. The long term project will create a more transit and pedestrian friendly environment on Rainier, which, given how little there currently is in the way of transit and pedestrian friendliness there at the moment, it sounds good to me.

    However, the city of Renton has gone ahead and restriped Rainier to the point of causing gridlock, leaving multiple buses – 560, 566, 110, 140, among others – in a huge lurch. All of those buses have timed connections to make (to other transit centers, to sounder) and to be quite frank, the delays are simply ridiculous: 20 minutes or more sitting on S 2nd waiting to turn left onto a standstill Rainier Avenue. It was clogged beforehand; now, it’s impossible and is backing up onto other parts of the street grid. It will have the sad effect of making otherwise reliable services completely unrideable.

    I’ve ridden the 110 – a timed sounder connection route at Tukwila – loyally for almost two years, and I’ve never missed the train connection before, which is remarkable. The new roadworks make the desired timed connection impossible, cutting the entire route off at the knees. So what reason do I have to keep riding either the train or the bus? The Law of Unforeseen Consequences strikes again, and I’m a very disappointed transit rider.

  5. By the way, that’s ROGUE community intervention, not ROUGE!

    Rouge community intervention would be a bunch of 17th century fops with powdered wigs invading your neighborhood!!

  6. RE: Misguided reporting in the Capitol Hill Times.
    Are you referring to the misguided way in which Kent, a 32 year old community leader was quoted as “Mike Kent, a young man who moved to Seattle with his wife a few years ago, told a story familiar to many struggling Seattleites in their 20s and 30s.” Or are you relying solely on the headline, a pop culture play designed to highlight the obvious fact that community meetings about plans for Yesler Terrace are not hot spots for 20 and 30-something involvement?

  7. Idea for improving Metro’s system:

    I call it “Idiot-Proofing The Metro System,” or “Filling in the Route-Numbering Gaps.”

    You see, the lay person does not understand the concept of “turn-back” trips (trips which terminate at what otherwise would be an intermediate point along the route). Most people looking at a bus’ headsign pay attention to only the route number, NOT the destination, unaware that the last stop is actually somewhere they least expect.

    My solution: Give the turnback trips their own separate route number to avoid confusing passengers (for operational clarification, the route/run code would not change, like how the 71/72/73 all are identified as “71”). The turnbacks recieve the closest available unused number, which also fills in those annoying numbering gaps.

    For Example:

    -All Westwood-only route 54 trips (in both directions) are renumbered Route 52. (I know this is a moot example because of the C Line but it illustrates my point)
    -All NE 65th-only trips on route 73 get renumbered route 69.
    -All NE 125th-only trips on route 41 get renumbered route 40.
    -All Whittier Heights-only trips on route 28 become route 29.
    -All Route 5 trips to/from Northgate becone Route 6.
    -All route 301 trips serving the Richmond Beach loop are renumbered route 302.

    I could just go on and on…

    1. add to that …

      when there is an express variant of a route like the 2X … make that a different number … will avoid people not understanding that the bus doesn’t stop at every rt.2 stop.

      1. Exacerbated by the fact the front headsign doesn’t include the X, but rather flips between the destination and “EXPRESS.”

    2. I’ve been saying this for years. It needs to happen. Consistency is important or people get confused.

    3. “the lay person does not understand the concept of “turn-back” trips”

      That’s an overgeneralization. Some people don’t understand it, other people have no problems with it. The opposite problem is having so many route numbers it’s difficult to memorize. Some cities have a third way with a letter appended.

      However, I agree that branches to a completely different destination deserve a different number. The 5-Northgate should be renamed (but fortunately it’ll go away in September). The 74-local was modified beyond recognition and was renumbered to 30. The “to 125th only” and “to 65th only” relief runs do not need a separate number.

  8. Via the SunBreak (see original, genius rant here), the PI says the newest waterfront plans include a gondola at Union St.

    Man do I want to get in on that discussion. If it really only goes to 1st, it’s better than nothing but still a waste. Keep going up the hill, guys. At least up to the Convention Center, and consider continuing to Broadway.

    1. It does seem like taking it all the way up to the Convention Center would be the thing to do.

    2. I think the PI and Times both erred in calling it part of the plan. More of an idea being tossed around, along with a whole bunch of other ideas.

  9. “Last ditch effort by Bellevue NIMBY groups to stop East Link.” Apparently ABP didn’t fully read the linked article. They aren’t NIMBYS. This group wants Link in their backyard, just underground. It’s inaccurate to call them NIMBYS.

    1. “Building a Better Bellevue” is an anti-rail group grasping at straws. It is a NIMBY group, full stop.

      1. It’s clear you are trolling. Build a Better Bellevue didn’t come out of no where. Anyone who has been paying half attention to East Link knows they are a bunch of NIMBYs.

      2. Thank you, Matthew.

        And yeesh, Sam. We’re not allowed to call out “Build A Better Bellevue” as NIMBYs because they take pains to concern-troll their legal filing? And we’re supposed to ignore all their prior anti-rail activities because one article lacks such context?

        Grasping at straws will only leave you thirsty.

    2. Not to mention there simply isn’t the money to put East LINK underground along Bellevue Way. Hell ST and the City have been working overtime just to figure out how to afford a short tunnel downtown.

    3. Wait a minute, STB said that a group cannot be labeled NIMBY if they disagree on a project on principle, and that’s why the anti-parking garage group in Northgate aren’t being called NIMBYS. But if Building a Better Bellevue is an anti-rail group, who are against rail, much like Northgate residents are against parking garages, why does one get the NIMBY label, and the other doesn’t?

      Does STB only assign the NIMBY label to those neighborhoods that disagrees with something STB agree with? And if a neighborhood disagrees with something that STB also disagrees with, STB refuses to call the neighborhood NIMBYS?

      1. “Building a Better Belleve” opposes one specific rail project (East Link) solely and consistently on the basis of it passing through their back yard (Bellevue). All other arguments wider or narrower have been canards.

        You are being purposefully obtuse.

    4. It’s part of human nature that when someone is shown that they hold a double standard on an issue, they blind to that fact, and will deny it up and down, often having a very good excuse as to why their double standard isn’t a double standard. They are quite good at explaining it away.

      1. Nice attempt to “explain away” the fact that you are full of shit.

        This group may oppose rail in general because they can’t imagine it being useful to anyone (hundreds of millions of daily riders worldwide notwithstanding). But even if they do, it is irrelevant to their actual stated desire to keep rail out of Bellevue (its “backyard”).

        And clearly there is no “principle” underlying its litany of concerns about the “specific route” — they’ve made it clear that any useful Eastside route would give them conniption fits about “aesthetics” and “property values”.

        So let us summarize: There’s no larger principle at play. The group argues specifics in bad faith. There is no concern here other than the need to control access to its “backyard” in a way that serves only its narrow understanding of its “interests”.

        You couldn’t find an organization more appropriate to the word NIMBY if you tried.

      2. d.p., can you show me an example of STB calling a neighborhood NIMBYS when the neighborhood was objecting to a project that STB also objected to? If STB doesn’t have a double standard when using the term NIMBY, then you should be able to produce that example.

      3. ?????????

        Maybe you’re not pretending to be obtuse here. Maybe you are actually unclear on what a NIMBY is.

        NIMBYism is, by definition, irrational. It sees something new or different on the horizon and says “not here.” It invents reasons for its objection in the form of “safety” or “aesthetics” or “neighborhood character”, but those arguments can never hold water because they have zero rational basis.

        You will not find “NIMBYs with whom STB agrees” because STB argues for rational transit and urban development policies, and rational discussion is not NIMBYism.

        You are clearly grasping for comparisons to the Northgate garages. Well…

        There is a general principle that large parking structures around transit stations are anathema to transit-oriented development. Not NIMBYism, but fact.

        All at STB admit that there are places where “park-and-rides” are a necessary evil: distant suburbs where there is little else around and where most riders will drive to the station for the foreseeable future. Northgate is not one of those places.

        That is not NIMBYism, but fact.

        Current models suggest that nearly 85% will arrive at Northgate station some other way than in a car. Large garages are both wasteful of their tax dollars and a direct impediment to their access.

        That is not NIMBYism, but fact.

        The plan for 900 parking spaces reportedly dates from a time when Northgate might have been the rail line’s terminus — in which case it WOULD have attracted more car-bearing rides off of the highway. With the line proceeding north, those drivers will avoid Northgate traffic by parking at stations further out, rendering the original purpose of the large parking structure moot.

        That is not NIMBYism, but fact.

        All of that is a bit different than “I think your train is ugly,” which is the Bellevue NIMBY group’s root position.

  10. Here is the press release regarding the decision by the WMATA board (a.k.a. DC Metro) to effectively lower the price of their contactless smart card, SmarTrip, from $5 to $2.

    Can anyone explain why Metro/ST would find it advantageous to continue to charge $5 for ORCA, when no other bus smart card in the country will cost more than $2 starting September 1?

  11. How much is an extra rider worth in construction cost?
    Is $200,000 per rider worth it, or can transit find a different new rider somewhere else for less?
    The current angst over downtown Bellevue is searching for ways to save some money, but ignore the obvious. Why build a tunnel at all, with the associated hard left and right turns and extra length costing up to $1.025 Bil to capture a few extra riders per day when other solutions exist that save up to $450 Mil? (ref: Elink FEIS seg.C)
    I’ve been advocating for remaining elevated on 112th, with a station next to City Hall (C7E), then making a softer right turn over I-405 to the BNSF ROW (C14E), coupled with covered moving sidewalks to both BTC and Overlake Hospital.
    This only cost the system somewhere between 1,500 and 2,500 riders per day by 2030. I would argue they can be found in downtown Bellevue with better E-W crossings of I-405 with a nearly level Ped/Bike xing to stitch together the existing downtown and the next big high rise boom along NE 116th (auto row).
    It seems that saving time (it’s a shorter route with two fewer stops), and money (1/2 Bil), risk (tunnel v. elev), and fixing the unbearable crossing of 405 on NE 8th would trump an extra couple of minutes to get to the bus bays.
    Perhaps the extra riders come from Overlake TC and Redmond because the total trip to Seattle would be several minutes faster.
    Construction doesn’t start until 2016, so there is still time to get this right.

    1. At this point, remaining elevated down 112th obviously makes more sense in my opinion. The outdoor station on NE 6th in front of Meydenbauer completely eliminates the need for a tunnel. I don’t know why ST is even considering wasting money on a tunnel under downtown Bellevue if they can’t afford a tunnel station.

  12. Hydrogen continues to prove a popular, but often criticized, form of power for public transportation

    Hydrail, a term which refers to railway transportation that is equipped with on-board hydrogen fuel cell systems, has become a popular subject in Europe.

    Travel by train is a popular form of transportation in the region and has become a primary candidate for the adoption of alternative energy. Railway transportation is also a popular option in many Asian countries, which are also poised to benefit from progress in the hydrail field.

  13. One thing I haven’t heard Metro say anything about for the September 29 tsunami is what will happen to the structure of paper transfers. Yes, they’ll still be around, but for how long will they be valid?

    Some time last year or the year before, Metro administratively reduced the validity period of transfers from 2 to 2 1/2 hours from the end of the route (that is, that’s where the transfers are cut), to 1 1/2 to 2 hours from the end of the route. They couldn’t make it shorter, I was told, because of the Ride Free Area and all the through routes, with transfers needing to be valid at the point of payment. (Don’t ask me why then didn’t consider having transfers be valid based on the route’s start time downtown.)

    Pierce Transit has been cutting their transfers at 1 to 1 1/2 hours from the end of the route. During the post-CNG-fueling-station-fire debaucle, they upped it temporarily to 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

    I’ve been expecting Metro would simply reduce the cut time to 1 to 1/2 hours from the end of routes, effective September 29, to match Pierce Transit’s policy. But like many other aspects of the RFA transition, I’m getting this dread feeling that nothing is going to happen, and in this case it is the wrong sort of nothing.

    But rather than push for matching PT’s policy (and for the Executive or General Manager to make the decision administratively), I’d like Metro to take a look at Kitsap Transit’s policy. Their transfers are only good at transfer points, and only for the next bus of a line number that takes off from that transfer point, going a certain direction. The transfer cannot be used on a bus of the same line number.

    This would be a cultural shift, of sorts. Transfers would be cut at 0 to 1/2 hours from the end of the route, and then drivers would judge validity by the headway on their own route. Yes, it has the analog problem that it is hard to determine for how long the transfer should really be available. But it should also remove a huge incentive for cash payment, which should result in a lot fewer fare disputes, not to mention faster bus service.

    1. Where I currently live (Hampton Roads Transit), before we moved to Day Passes:

      Pay fare, ask for a Transfer. You may switch at designated points only. You may switch for up to a 2 hour window after Transfer dispensed (like ORCA). You may NOT ride back on the same bus.

      Unlike paper transfers on Pierce and Metro, HRT transfers were magnetic swipe cards dispensed by the farebox. Like ORCA, once the 2 hours were up, they were up.

      Ultimately, I’d like to see ORCA implement Day Passes or Oyster’s Daily Cap (yeah, discussed on this blog numerous times in the past)

    2. I’d rather have no paper transfers than draconian transfers. One of the nice things about Metro is you can use a transfer for anything, including round trips. You’re leasing a bit of transit capacity, and two people shouldn’t be charged different if one person has a longer trip and another has two shorter trips. Just give them a 2-hour time slice and be done with it.

      1. I don’t mind giving riders a two-hour time slice, so long as they have the courtesy to get an ORCA card. No courtesy, pay twice.

        I, too, would prefer no transfers over KT-style transfers, but I’m trying to be a realist, and give Metro more options for *something* to do to save the RFA transition, since they’ve declared eliminating paper transfers to be a possibility for the distant future only. If someone complains about paying twice on a two-seat ride, mail them a free ORCA. Frankly, it isn’t that many people, and the issue of getting an ORCA has no bearing on their opposition to losing a one-seat ride. Metro’s position on that point is as off-base as their hope that people will buy ORCA cards because an ad says it will make their trip faster.

        Does Metro want the RFA transition to fail, so that there is an immediate hue and cry to bring the RFA back?

        Does Metro think congestion in the tunnel can be solved simply by moving runs upstairs until the level of congestion becomes acceptable? Does Metro think congestion on 3rd Ave can be solved simply be moving some buses to 2nd and 4th Aves? Does Metro think congestion on 2nd and 4th Aves can be solved by moving buses to 1st and 5th?

        Or does Metro know the RFA transition is going to be a disaster, and just hasn’t told the county council, and the county council believes the RFA transition will go smoothely? Or does a majority of the county council want the RFA transition to fail, so that they have ammunition to bring back the RFA, and get rid of some of their colleagues who don’t deserve blame for this impending catastrohe?

  14. The same link in my earlier comment about RR E routing also has a proposed ordinance for RR F. I don’t know the area well enough to say whether it’s good or bad. It goes on 158th/154th/Southcenter Blvd from Burien to that Southcenter freeway crossing, making the TIB station loop. It then backtracks around the mall (Andover Park W, Strandler Blvd, W Valley Hwy) to Tukwila Sounder station. Then, after the gap in SW 27th Street is filled, it’ll go on 27th to north on Oaksdale Ave SW, east on SW 16th St, north on Lind Ave SW, east on S 7th Street, north on Rainier, to the TC on 2nd/3rd. An extension to Renton Landing on Logan Ave N is outlined but is unfunded.

    Unlike the 140, it does not serve the South Renton P&R. Also, the 140 uses Rainier Ave and Grady Way more, while RR F goes on smaller streets. I don’t know whether that’s good or bad. It could be bad if the speed limit is lower and there’s more turns, but it could be good if it avoids congestion.

  15. Recently we’ve been discussing Pierce Transit’s shrinkage and challenges. Somebody said it’s because land use is extremely bad in Pierce County and the peripheral exurbs are hostile to transit and taxes. That got me wondering about Snohomish County. Is one county worse in land use or are they the same? Are Snoho’s exurbs less hostile than Pierce’s? Are its core cities more transit-supporting?

    Would CT benefit by shrinking its service area like PT did? Would it be enough to restore Sunday service and add frequency? Are the exurbs less hostile because of the vast commuter routes to Seattle, which PT never had?

    One difference is that Pierce County has only one major city, Tacoma, while Snoho has Everett and Lynnwood. Federal Way, the counterpart to Lynnwood, is just inside the King County border. Has that influenced the county’s transit?

    And how does south King County compare to Pierce and Snoho? I’ve been interested in south King because it has 800,000+ people, significantly larger than Seattle. As many people as San Francisco but it’s hard to get around on transit. Is south King doing significantly better than Pierce or Snohomish, or is it about the same?

    1. Some info regarding your comparison of Lynnwood to Pierce County…

      Lynnwood is according to Wikipedia the 4th largest municipality in Snohomish County after Everett, Marysville, and Edmonds. Lynnwood’s 2010 Census population was 35,836 is significantly smaller than Pierce County’s 2nd largest incorporated city – Lakewood with 58,163. Pierce County also has other populous cities including University Place and Puyallup in addition to numerous unincorporated areas of significant populations. Lakewood is the host city to Washington State’s third largest employer – Joint Base Lewis McChord with over 40,000 employed service personnel and many more civilians that service the base. It has a direct economic impact of $2.2 Billion to the local economy.

      Traffic conditions along the I-5 Corridor adjacent to JBLM are often congested and problematic. There are some major investments that should be made in both road and transit infrastructure to accomodate this traffic and future growth in the region.

  16. As much as I have whined about ST/Metro being behind the times on their exhorbitant charge for getting ORCA, it turns out Metro is even further behind the times in offering paper transfers (while having a smart card).

    Of fourteen bus agencies/groups offering a smart card in the U.S., only five still give out paper transfers. In addition to Metro/PT/KT, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Spokane offer free transfers. LA Metro charges 35 cents for transfers, and even TAP users have to get the paper transfers to transfer between some agencies.

    Spokane hasn’t established e-purse on their Go Smart Card, so cardholders have to get paper transfers if they aren’t using a pass. I suppose that counts as a good excuse.

    I’m sure others here could give long treatises on the politics of why SF Muni can’t get rid of paper transfers.

    Minneapolis is an enigma. I have no idea why they still have paper transfers. But they also have pay-as-you-leave on commuter express buses coming out of downtown, and 50-cent intra-downtown fares.

    So, yeah, Metro’s reasons for keeping paper transfers (that not everyone can afford an ORCA card; and that people will mutate into 1-seat-ride advocates if forced to buy an ORCA) are painfully weak, when the solution is right in front of them.

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