Labor Access Rate, Brookings

One convenient feature of having a strong central city is that it allows a region to build a good transit system. The unfortunate trend in the past few decades to move jobs into the suburbs has seriously degraded this transit potential.

Brookings released data this week detailing both how accessable jobs are via transit, and the share of working-age residents that can access these jobs within 90 minutes using transit. In Seattle (pdf), we do quite well in terms of serving jobs with transit. In fact, we’re #3 in the nation, with 99.3% of all jobs accessable by transit in our region – and a full 100% accessable by transit in our cities.

However, those rosy numbers don’t show the full picture. It’s not important that you can get to your job from somewhere, you want to reach it from your home. This number shrinks all the way down to 30.8%, 26th in the nation, and represents the percent of the metropolitin population can reach a typical job within 90 minutes using transit.

Why is there such a strong difference between these numbers? Because a hub-and-spoke model transit system requires a long journey often in the wrong direction to go from two points that aren’t near the hub. If you live in a suburb and you work in a different suburb, there is likely no easy transit access between your work and your home.  An efficient region would have most jobs in a central city, and our region has lost this transit efficiency as jobs have grown in the suburbs.

141 Replies to “You Can’t Get There From Here”

  1. The initiative that limited building heights in downtown Seattle, CAP, prevented further office space growth when the city last had a large commercial real estate boom, and caused a lot of this issue.

    1. And it’s still happening. I’m sure Amazon wouldn’t be building three buildings that are exactly 300′ high if there wasn’t a height limit of 300′.

      1. So what’s wrong with three 500′ buildings? I think we’ve determined that the US is not so starved for space that we need buildings more than 40 stories. Even a solid cluster of 10-story offices and 6-story apartments is enough to sustain a subway and vibrant pedestrian atmosphere.

      2. This is a different discussion than neighborhood heights. We want to do more than sustain a subway and vibrant pedestrian atmosphere when it comes to downtown buildings. Business thrives when you have a maximum of businesses in a walkable distance. For instance, when it’s easy for an engineer to walk over to an architect’s office to work on a design together, productivity and creativity increases dramatically. This is why you see tall core business districts in cities throughout the world – they’re usually walkable from one end to the other, and are filled with tall buildings.

        When you cap heights (and require open space) downtown, you limit the amount of businesses that can fit in this walkable area. Prices go up, and some businesses find other cities they can afford while others give up on the walkable concept and head for the suburbs.

      3. Matt G, that sounds like the same thing. The purpose of large, dense, walkable areas is to attract a complete variety of services so that you can walk to a nearby business for everything you need. Maybe that needs to be made explicit so that the diversity emerges rather than a monoculture, but in general it’s the natural outgrowth.

        If we cut all tall buildings in downtown Seattle into 40-story chunks, and expanded downtown to accommodate them, how would that make the situation worse? There’d still be a very good chance that most of what you need is within walking distance, even if walking edge-to-edge isn’t.

    2. The CAP initiative preceded the state GMA and city comp planning. Seattle CBD development was massive office towers only. Residential was not a factor. All that CAP did was impose a modest reduction of scale on new office towers. And no Ben, CAP didn’t bring office development to a halt. If anything, it provided some boost to getting GMA adopted.

      1. A glut of commercial office development in the late 80’s/early 90’s, changes to the tax treatment of commercial development, and the early 90’s recession is what brought office development to a halt. Bellevue had a similar lull in development as did most US central cities during the years CAP was in effect.

      2. Everyone always reacts to the PREVIOUS problem. So, after a bubble in commercial office development, in come the severe restrictions on commercial office development — which we don’t need any more because there isn’t a bubble. Et cetera. It would be better to be able to identify the bubbles forming and pop them, while allowing things to proceed normally outside bubble periods. This appears to be impossible, though.

    3. Two thoughts:

      1. A 1950’s model of a monopolar jobs center in the CBD, surrounded by Bedroom communities that house downtown workers, isn’t the ideal groundwork for a transit paradise.

      2. European cities have done quite well with transit, and has not had to concentrate all office jobs into large towers.

      The problem hasn’t been about height limits in downtown, its more about the lack of transit supportive urban form being implemented when jobs grew elsewhere.

    1. What do you say to somebody who has only been able to get temp work? Stay in a motel nearest their assignment till it’s over?

      Employers just need to get with it and locate near mass transit cause getting a job period is challenging much less getting it with a decent transit route.

  2. I wonder if anything interesting would come out of grouping all these cities into network types, hub and spoke, grid, timed transfer, etc. and see if there is any trend when it comes these results.

  3. The hub-and-spoke model is great for getting people to downtown jobs. But there are so many peak-only one-way bus routes, going past employment sites, that nobody can get to those jobs.

    We can’t put all the jobs downtown. We just can’t. Nor can we expect that the majority of jobs are 9-5. They just aren’t. But we cater to the 9-5 downtown crowd because that is a productive crowd to serve.

    I live within walking distance of my job. But because of poor walkability to anything outside of my neighborhood, my living situation is depressing. I have to take transit to go for a long walk, buy groceries, or really do much of anything besides go to work. At least residential neighborhoods were allowed to be built within walking distance of lots of jobs in my neighborhood. Someone had the foresight to stand up to efforts to make my neighborhood all industrial. And someone else had the foresight to stand up to efforts to make my neighborhood all residential. Whoever you were, thank you.

    So, before lecturing us that we should live next to our work, please consider that we do more than just go to work.

    1. It is possible to build warehouse/industrial districts where transit is available/well used. Spend some time on Google maps looking around industrial suburbs of European (or even Canadian) cities. Warehouses can be pretty tightly packed if vast parking lots are not provided for each one, allowing most workers to walk to a reasonably frequent transit route.

    2. Before lecturing us that we should live next to our work, please consider that we do more than just go to work.

      +♥, Brent.

      That’s why we live in major metropolitan areas. We want stuff to do beyond working and hanging out on our couches.

      Transit planners, statisticians, and Über-Local Movementarians take note. Sakoku Japan is gone for a reason. People migrate to big cities from small ones for a reason. And we want to be able to get around them.

      So build them better: tear down the walls of single-use zoning; allow for density and build for complete streets. But don’t tell everyone to live under their desks and never go anywhere else — make the transit work!

    3. Couples also need to both get to work, and each one may be in a different industry that has different locations.

  4. I’ve lost count of the employers who’ve relocated closer in in the past few years. Often they specifically point to transit as a big reason, and the importance of transit for recruitment.

    1. This is why Tacoma is dying on the vine, and is missing the forest if they don’t push for faster completion of Link between Seattle and Tacoma.

      ST2 included an extension of Tacoma Link. Extending it east toward the golden spike in Federal Way would be the most farsighted use of that approved, but not sited, project.

      1. It will be a cold day in hell before I contribute my vote to extend Link even farther away from where it’s needed: the Seattle city core.

        We’re already extending Sounder through Tacoma.

      2. Tacoma needs to think about centralizing jobs and housing so that people in Pierce County commute to Tacoma rather than to Seattle, Kent, or Puyallup. Link to Tacoma is still worthwhile to replace the 59x, 57x, and to provide the all-day service Sounder doesn’t. But that doesn’t negate the need for Tacoma to become more of a center in its own right too.

      3. Tacoma’s dying on the vine because most of the blue collar jobs on which it was built have disappeared; pulp, aluminum, copper, lumber. And the industries that remain, like shipping employ a small fraction of the labor they used to because of automation. The same thing’s happened to Everett. Making them bedroom communities to Bellevue and Seattle isn’t a solution it’s a problem.

      4. Tacoma has a niche. The UWT is bursting at the seams apparently, and just needs funding to keep expanding. They’re growing as a tourism center. The Downtown edges have gained some residents. My sense is a lot of Tacomans(?) would like to live in an urban district and are gradually doing so as decent districts arise mostly north of Downtown up to Stadium Hill School or so, and at the south end near UWT. A hell of a lot of townhouses have gone up on the hillside too.

        The whole Tacoma area has a very small amount of office space. It would make perfect sense to have 4x as much if it were a stand-alone city based on per-capita averages. It’s easy to imagine it growing as a peripheral office employment center much like some suburbs have done, though those suburbs are usually in the higher-end quadrants. Tacoma has a hard time justifying the rent needed for office construction…transit is key because then at least the garage costs can be reduced.

      5. Tacoma is also only recently a commuter suburb. Even in 1990 it was unusual to commute between Tacoma or Auburn and downtown Seattle — they were more separate towns than suburbs. What changed in the mid 90s was the growth of Auburn and Puyallup — acres of new housing — and people’s willingness to commute greater distances.

      6. Kyle wrote “It will be a cold day in hell before I contribute my vote to extend Link even farther away from where it’s needed: the Seattle city core.”

        @Kyle S., if you voted for ST2, you already have.

      1. One think that strikes me as a “tell all” of how KC wastes transit dollars is coverage vs useability. Although 90 minutes is ridiculous, 1hr would be better you look at San Francisco’s 85% “coverage” and 35% availability (NY is only 36%) vs Seattle’s 93% coverage but only 30% useable.

      2. Except that this is coverage of job sites, not coverage of residences. Businesses usually locate on arterials — where buses are. There are far-flung office parks and clusters of office parks far from buses, but that’s only a fraction of the number of single-family houses in low-density neighborhoods. Metro’s problem is that it gives too much attention to the low-density neighborhoods — houses, not job sites — that it starves the higher-ridership areas. Metro could focus more on those office parks and high-and-medium-density neighborhoods; then more people — especially the kind of people who are willing to take transit and to live near a bus stop — could take transit to those jobs.

    1. Affordability will help cause nowadays most affordable housing is at the edges of the city and beyond.

    2. More supply would help affordability. Word to the neighborhood bosses: If you love your planet, let more people live close to electrified transit.

  5. From today’s WSJ:

    Which Cities Have Most Suburbanized Work Force?

    http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2012/07/13/which-cities-have-most-suburbanized-work-force/

    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA, pop. 1,748,039
    Urban Jobs:41.5%
    Suburban Jobs: 58.5%

    Even though suburban jobs clearly dominate, 99.9% percent of the focus of transit planners is on “The City”. If you state the obvious, you get the bullied response of how the suburbs are “sprawl” or some other idiocy.

    What you don’t get is a fair and balanced transit system that correctly focuses on this region as a dispersed, multi-nodal area, not one which is dominated by some “urban core” or other such claptrap.

    What this region really needs is a top to bottom political purge, to sweep out all the liars from the top to the bottom and to bring in planners who recognize the reality of the situation.

    1. Connecting those 41.5% is far, far easier and less expensive than connecting the 58.5%. This is both because because of the density of the urban core (many more jobs are walkable from each bus stop), and because of geometry. Connecting many nodes to one node is efficient – there are the fewest number of lines required, totalling the shortest distance, leading to the smallest number of transit hours. You end up with N-1 lines, where N is the number of nodes. Connecting many nodes to many nodes is inefficient – you can end up with up to .5*N^2-.5*N lines (for example, a 10 node network could have 45 lines instead of 9).

      It’s easy to call politicians liars. But I’ve yet to hear how you’d build an effecient transit network serving geographically spread out businesses.

      1. I would also question whether the entire 41.5% is in the “urban core”. For example, is Northgate urban, or suburban. I could argue for the latter.

        I can and have argued that our transit problems stem not from sprawl but from the density caused by the urban cores. The main traffic jams are those from people getting on and off the few exits in Seattle. Remove that imbalance and the logjam disappears.

      2. It’s the nature of transit that it can serve centralized job centers more efficiently than scattered job sites. That’s why every city’s transit has the most emphasis on working downtown — it’s what transit can do best. It’s an easy goal to get 51% of downtown workers out of their cars — Seattle has already done it. It’s a far harder goal to get 51% of suburban workers out of their cars. It would take a lot more dollars per rider to achieve it. We’ve succeeded with downtown Seattle and the U-district; now downtown Bellevue is the logical next target. 51% may be unrealistic but 30% might be realistic, and that’s better than 15% or whatever it is now. So when I say “suburb” I mean low-density areas, not everything outside Seattle city limits.

      3. If you remove Seattle, Metro as we know it would fall apart, and there would be far less coverage or frequency. Look at the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill triangle for what happens when you put three suburbs together with no higher-density central city.

      4. The north Seattle area around Northgate is more suburban, but Northgate is already halfway toward becoming a successful urban village. Already you can meet almost all of the weekly necessities by walking, and the mall and office buildings and medical buildings give some choice of employment with the neighborhood. Southcenter and downtown Kent should emulate it. Then they’ll be more likely to get RapidRide and Link sooner.

      5. It’s an easy goal to get 51% of downtown workers out of their cars — Seattle has already done it.

        This is not true, Mike. Sorry.

        “9-5 downtown commuters, regardless of origin” (40%) is still Seattle’s only remotely commendable transit mode-share figure, beating the pathetic 20% mode-share for in-city commutes in general, the 9% share for all in-city trips, and the <3% share for all trips region-wide.

        But the fact remains that, despite the downtown-obsessed service, 3 of 5 daytime workers even there do not use transit, and more than half still drive alone.

        Only when transit is a part of everyday life does it perform better than that. Seattle's got a long way to go to reach that point, and the denial pervading this blog will not get it there.

      6. I thought I read that downtown Seattle had reached a milestone, and more people were not driving to work than driving.

    2. We’re neither hub-and-spoke or point-to-point. We’re clearly both, one layered on top of the other.

    3. As with all statistical sets, there are certain data points that can skew the numbers. Methodology matters – perhaps they are using city borders (rather than population centers) to measure the ratio. As far as physical size, Seattle is only 83 square miles of land versus Austin at 297 square miles. No wonder Austin has a higher ratio than Seattle.

      1. From Matt’s link to the list of cities, Austin as one might expect has low geographical coverage, 60% vs Seattle metro area coverage of 93%. But the useability index is virtually the same at ~30%. Again, I’d like to seen the threshold be 60 minutes rather than 90. Who’s going to regularly use transit if it eats 3 hours a day out of your life? I’d expect Seattle would look better at the 60 minute threshold.

      2. I’d expect Seattle would look better at the 60 minute threshold.

        I wouldn’t. Between transfer penalties and excruciatingly slow running times (built into the schedules, even!), a mobility map at 60 minutes would reveal all sorts of terrible holes. Heck, Sand Point to Ballard wouldn’t come in under that threshold, and that’s 5 miles in a straight line!

        A 40-minute map would look like Swiss cheese.

  6. There are two ways to respond to this situation:

    1. Adapt the transit system to the dispersed land use pattern: Shift from a region-wide radial to a grid system, improving suburb-to-suburb commuting, or

    2. Adapt our land use to fit the radial transit system, i.e. incentivize jobs near transit hubs.

    Which is better? From a pure transit efficiency perspective, (2) will be better. But adapting land use takes a long time, while bus service restructures can happen within a year. So we probably need to do a little (1) setting the incentives so more sprawly office/warehouse parks are not built on the fringes.

    The best scenario in a mature metro area is to have multiple transit/job hubs, with a grid of efficient two-way transit connecting them, with a majority of the region’s residents living near enough to access that grid.

    1. Even within the city of Seattle itself, we can make some serious improvements by focusing more on a grid system.

    2. What about Link? Are we going to start making it a transit spine, with TOD built up around most stations, and bus routes restructured to connect to the spine, or are we going to just spend our transit dollars duplicate-heading everyone to downtown?

    3. There’s the ideal and there’s reality. Ideally we would make the designated Link and RapidRide stations into larger urban centers, and build a grid of local transit. But in reality the Hagues and Bailos and Glenns and Kemper-Freemans and Surrey Downs residents have political power, and they have a different vision, and the Cinesas and poor-people’s advocates want one-seat rides to everywhere and stops every block. So we end up with something in between, and we can be glad it’s going slowly in the right direction, even if there are reversals at times (housing starts in the exurbs, loss of Sunday service on CT).

      1. Poor people’s self-proclaimed advocates who don’t ride the bus with the poor people for whom they are advocating need to understand: Slow and infrequent bus service (caused by nonproductive half-empty one-seat ride entitlements) disproportionately hurts poor and minority commuters.

        And, oh yeah, the $5 head tax for gaining the privilege to board the bus faster (150% higher than any similar head tax around the rest of the US&A) that obviously disproportionately keeps poor and minority riders from being able to board faster, is a big part of the problem, but about to become much bigger, as the center of the wheel gets tangled up and the wheel grinds to a halt.

      2. Incremental improvement is better than no improvement at all. I’m very glad Metro’s service is better than it was in the 80s, when the 8 didn’t exist and there were 15-mile-long milk runs.

  7. One problem with the spoke-and-wheel model not sufficiently made plain by nodal graphs is all the one-way peak routes. For those trying to get to jobs at the end of those one-way routes, the model more resembles a black hole.

    And the effect of the black hole is clear, as various long-standing suburbs get torn apart by the gravitational pull.

  8. Best model for a region is not the single Central City but rather a multi-centered region. Not just one Hub but several. On the East Side, it’s downtown Bellevue. There is no credible argument that the region would’ve been better off if all that development had occurred in downtown Seattle instead!!

    1. Transit Voter, care to provide us with your credible argument that the existence of downtown Bellevue has had any positive effect on the region?

      1. a multi-centered region allows the development of transit trunk routes that carry commute riders in both directions. It also provides developers and tenants a CBD environment closer to where they are already. Downtown Bellevue allows shorter commute trips for many, and being a dense hub means high quality transit can develop.

      2. And it allows people to commute even further in the same amount of time, strongly increasing the incentive for sprawl.

        “allows the development of transit trunk routes that carry commute riders in both directions” Why is the preferred over having all of those jobs in one location? If you could cut a major city in half and move that half 20 miles away, would that be an improvement?

      3. Matt, the limits of sprawl are determined by the location of Urban Growth Boundries, not whether we have one or multiple Urban Centers. Transit professionals learn that routes are much more efficient when they can carry productive loads in both directions — examine most any route that has an Urban Center on each end (41, 550, etc). Compare to CBD commute routes coming only from P&R lots that have to deadhead back empty.

      4. Our Urban Growth Boundries are not only far more porous than we’d like, they encompass a large, sprawled area. We’re talking about a boundry that includes North Bend, Arlington, and Puyallup.

        I’m not saying transit between two cities isn’t efficient – I’m saying it’s far less efficient than if it was one city. The best commute trip is the one you don’t have to take.

      5. “Commuting” is more than just going to work. Commuting is what you do every time you cross the metropolitan area to go to a store that’s not in your neighborhood, or to visit somebody, or attend a bible study that’s only in one place, etc. People who congregate in higher-density centers tend to be more avid transit riders. By putting fast/frequent/full-time transit between these centers, you achieve maximum ridership, and the most people can fulfill their mobility desires with the least dollar outlay. Not just peak hours, but all day and night. Adjacent lower-density areas get some benefit too as feeders are put in, and that strengthens the transit-oriented nature of the population even further.

        It’s not about cutting a city in half and moving one half 20 miles away. When has that ever happened? Minneapolis-St Paul grew because both sides grew, not because half the city was moved across the river.

        There may be a theoretical advantage to moving all of downtown Bellevue, Lynnwood, Renton, and Kirkland into Seattle next to downtown. But it flatly contradicts the region’s history and sentiments. The reason Pugetopolis is more decentralized than New York or Boston is that it was a much smaller city when the hammer came down in 1945 and the streetcars were ripped out and the suburban blossoming began and it was highway fever baby. A much smaller core survived than in northeastern cities, and the interurbans were gone and couldn’t evolve into Metra or the streetcars into rapid transit. That’s how Seattle and Pugetopolis got to be so car-oriented.

      6. “Commuting” is more than just going to work.

        That’s putting a pretty broad spin on the word:

        com·mute/kəˈmyo͞ot/
        Verb:
        Travel some distance between one’s home and place of work on a regular basis.
        Noun:
        A regular journey of some distance to and from one’s place of work.

        From Wikipedia:

        The word commuter derives from early days of rail travel in US cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago, where, in the 1840s, the railways engendered suburbs from which travellers paying a reduced or ‘commuted’ fare into the city. Later, the back formations “commute” and “commuter” were coined therefrom. Commuted tickets would usually allow the traveller to repeat the same journey as often as they liked during the period of validity: Normally, the longer the period the cheaper the cost per day.[1]

      7. Tell that to the people in Jersey City, Newark, and Chicagoland who call PATH and Metra “commuter rail” and use it at all times and for all purposes, not just to go to work. That’s what commuter rail should be, and is in England, Germany, Russia, etc.

      8. Bernie,

        Put those jobs in Totem Lake and people commuting to them from Newcastle and Issaquah will make the bumper to bumper traffic going into Bellevue from the south worse.

        Transit Voter,

        I wouldn’t call the 41 bidirectional but the 550 and 545 certainly fit.

        I can tell you that Microsoft is on lots of bus lines and has its own bus system now, but it’s still the case that most of those who commute to Microsoft by bus live in Seattle. Not sure if that means a multi-hub model is fundamentally flawed or if it’s just not a great hub.

        I think the case for multiple hubs is that plenty of the area is dense enough for bus transit but the region is too large to be efficiently served by a hub and spoke model with with single hub. A handful of hubs with excellent transit connecting them and decent transit to the nearest hub might work, but we need to keep the number of hubs small.

      9. Bernie,

        Put those jobs in Totem Lake and people commuting to them from Newcastle and Issaquah will make the bumper to bumper traffic going into Bellevue from the south worse.

        Doesn’t work that way. I’m all for more jobs in Issaquah as they’ve built mega housing and a huge parking palace out there (rode Duthie Hill last weekend and was amazed). Jobs closer to people is much easier to achieve than moving people to jobs but I do believe any new development should have a healthy mix.

      10. One would hope that a job center in Totem Lake would mnostly attract workers from Redmond, Kirkland, Kingsgate, Woodinville, Bothel and points further north and east.

    2. The enemy of one center is not several centers, it’s sprawl. But each center needs to be brought up to at least a medium level of density (Chicago’s north side is a convenient model), and there needs to be fast/frequent/full-time transit between these centers. I have heard New Yorkers say people don’t travel much between Queens and Brooklyn much because “everything is in Manhattan and everyone wants to go to Manhattan”. I don’t think it’s literally as stark as that, but there is an overwhelming Manhattan bias on most out-of-borough trips from Queens, Brooklyn, and Jersey City. I think it’s too strong, and there needs to be stronger destinations in the other boroughs. More like London perhaps, where there are more centers that have a more equal draw. Multiple centers does not mean descending into sprawl or excessive travel-miles.

  9. So here comes Brookings, with yet another pile of useless statistics based on a “90 minutes / %” metric.

    Who cares how that relates to the size or population of the metropolitan area as a whole? Who cares how that compares to other modes of transportation over long or short distances?

    At least some internet “news” hack will now be able to spew out a commission suggesting that it’s easier to live car-free in Portland, San Jose, Salt Lake City, and Seattle than in Boston. Laughable on its face!! (Also, check out the contorted methodology in the above link that allowed them to “calculate” an average 8.8-minute headway for Seattle! Hilarious!)

    90-minute measurements, where worthy discussion goes to die.

    Here’s the truth: Unless I have some burning desire to live in Connecticut and work in Manhattan, or to live in distant North Side Chicago and work in Hyde Park, a 90-minute transit commute is not going to happen. If 90 minutes is what transit commuting will cost me over shorter, reasonable, basically urban-scaled distances 260 days a year, I am getting a car, just like everyone else faced with such a choice. That’s how useless is a 90-minute measurement.

    Even more hilarious is how the statistic, measured across Metropolitan Statistical Areas as a whole, punishes most major cities just for being major cities! Check out the preponderance of the dark-blue (>34.1%) dots: Madison, Grand Rapids, Albuquerque, Fresno, Portland. Of course you can traverse these places in 90 minutes — they’re not big cities!

    None of this is rocket science. Fix city service so that people can get anywhere to anywhere in much less than 90 minutes. Connect the suburban job centers with commuter-focused services that will let people park’n’ride past the worst of the gridlock… also in less than 90 minutes! Don’t treat them as the same type of need or follow the same type of service principles, and don’t expect door-to-door perfection from your outpost in Sammamish.

    And don’t treat “90 minutes” (sans distance/land usage context) as a useful descriptor of anything.

      1. They speak too highly of Seattle on the rail transit front–Light Rail reaches limited sections of the city and our monorail in the city center is an obsolete shuttle.

        If enough KC voters had the sense to vote for Forward Thrust back in the early 70’s, there would be a lot more substance to our national transit rating.

      2. It’s even worse than that. The nods to Link and the monorail in the silly blurb aren’t actually how they arrived at their ridiculous ranking.

        They significantly overvalue “coverage” over a wide area, regardless of quality or reliability. They adhere to the insane “90 minute” metric. And they calculate “frequency” as the sum-total of buses-per-hour within a mile of any given point –regardless of where those buses are going, how they’re timed, or whether any of them offer any actual trunk-level service frequency in and of themselves — and divide by 60. Oh, and that applies to rush hour only. So Seattle gets ranked as having “8.8-minute service”.

        That article is a laugh riot. And it spread widely enough around the Internet that a Boston friend who had lived in L.A. without a car called to ask “what the fuck?” about it.

      3. Honestly, Seattle has one of the best transit systems in the country despite the fact that it is almost entirely bus. Our system may seem subpar compared to places like NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, and anywhere outside the US, but inside the US not many cities’ transit systems come close to ours. When we add a large grade-separated and at-grade rail system we’ll really be a model for the country. Of course there will always be a ton to complain about, but I don’t know of one city in the world whose residents don’t constantly complain about their transportation system.

      4. Honestly, no.

        I dare you to spend a week on West L.A. without a car and then continue that claim. Despite no western subways of any use, the transit system runs a near-constant stream of straight-arrow buses on every major arterial. They board quickly, they move fast. They don’t fuck around. It has flaws and limits, but it makes mincemeat of your claim.

        Calling Seattle’s thousand fragmented routes on 30 minute headways with zero reliability and an average travel speed of 6 mph “one of the best transit systems in the country” is the definition of denial. Get help.

      5. “Seattle has one of the best transit systems in the country despite the fact that it is almost entirely bus. Our system may seem subpar compared to places like NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, and anywhere outside the US, but inside the US not many cities’ transit systems come close to ours”

        It’s true. There’s a large gap between the first-tier systems (NY, Chicago, Boston, DC, and to a lesser extent SF) and Seattle. We’re a long way behind those. But there are two hundred cities below us, where transit is like Tacoma or even less. Where 15-minute frequency is a rarity, hourly is common, buses stop running at 7pm, night owls are science fiction, walkable streets like Broadway and University Way don’t exist, etc.

      6. It depends which routes you use. Sound Transit routes are generally pretty good, especially if you’re willing to ride a bike a couple of miles to get to them. King County Metro routes, not so much.

    1. 90-minute commutes are a major factor only in metros much larger than Seattle, like the Bay Area, southern California, and New York. The average commute time in Seattle is around 25 minutes, and I’m not sure if that’s city or metro. A 90-minute commute means driving/busing half an hour to the Puyallup Sounder station and commuting to downtown Seattle. That’s about the limit of which a significant number of people will travel. One person here or there commuting from Marysville to Northate or from Monroe to Redmond doesn’t change the overall profile.

      1. The Central District to Ballard would be an example of a commute that comes in under Brookings’ 90-minute threshold… just barely.

        Though it *shouldn’t* be more than 25, as you say.

        Which is why a 90-minute measurement is useless. “Thanks for sharing. I’ll drive my car, thank you.”

        That’s the very point I was making.

      2. Well, the C.D. is barely a mile from downtown, so the fact that 20-30 minutes is standard is a crime against humanity. For suggestions on how to drop this to 5-10 minutes, read [almost anthing Bruce has ever written on this blog].

        Ballard would be 20-25 minutes already if RapidRide meant a damned thing is said about off-board payment, lanes, headways, and signal priority.

        Of course, in an ideal world, you’d have:
        frequent gridded bus -> First Hill Link station -> Ballard Spur
        and the whole thing would take all of 15-20 minutes.

        But we’ve already shot ourselves in the foot about that should-have-been-reasonable option eight times over.

      3. A decent chunk of the time it takes today is waiting, and a huge chunk is being stuck in traffic. When you say something “isn’t rocket science” and needs to be fixed, that suggests it can be fixed by policy decisions at the transit agency. But what we’re really talking about is shifts in policy and funding at every level of government. That’s hard.

      4. The average commute is 25-35 minutes. That means if your commute is 45 minutes, you’re in the outlying minority of Pugetopolans with the longest commute. Mine is an hour, but I could cut it down to 20 minutes if I moved to the U-district but I choose to live next to downtown (because the most transit runs to everywhere converge here) until ST2 Link is finished.

        Most people also drive, so the “25 minutes” is mostly about driving distance. People who think about commuting between Ballard and the CD on transit quickly realize it’s ridiculously non-viable and they’d better think about moving or changing jobs or driving to work or getting a bicycle, unless they’re such a die-hard transit fan that they’ll suck it up and make the 60-minute trip until better transit comes along.

      5. The statistic we are all debating is about transit commute time, and as you just admitted, Metro is a horrible failure in a way that the “90-minute” statistic does not reveal.

        In New York, 90 minutes probably means you’re coming in from the suburbs or distant outer Queens. In Seattle, it might just mean the C.D. to Ballard.*

        That is what we call FAILURE.

        And yes, I do know people who do this commute. 5 miles, centrally located neighborhood to major destination. It shouldnt take that long, and they shouldn’t have to move. Period.

      6. And Al, you’re wrong to let Metro off the hook.

        Traffic and SDOT didn’t let a whiny “Save The 2” mob derail a change that would have doubled the speed and effective frequency, eliminated the bottleneck, and fixed reliability over First Hill to the C.D. once and for all. Metro did that.

        Traffic and SDOT don’t disincentivize ORCA and refuse to standardize rear-door exit. Metro does that.

        Traffic and SDOT don’t reward habitually slow bus drivers with extra layover time and pad the schedules so that ultra-slow becomes “normal”. That’s Metro’s game.

        The C.D. is 5 minutes from the city center in a car. Ballard is 12. Transit service that is 250% – 600% slower is NOT INEVITABLE and is not about “traffic”! Ugh!!!

      7. The reason I brought up average commute (both driving and transit) is to put things into perspective. We’re not in an epidemic of most people commuting 45+ minutes. Most people work within 10-15 miles of where they live.

        The Bay Area is in an epidemic of super-long commutes, where even DP might have to live in Hayward and drive to a BART P&R, if he doesn’t want to share a room with 2 or 3 strangers or spend his retirement savings on rent. Hopefully housing prices will never get that bad here.

      8. My point exactly.

        If you live in a place where everyone commutes 90 minutes regardless of mode, it might be nice to know that a large percentage of jobs are reachable on transit in the same.

        In a city where m

      9. In a city where most commutes are in the 25-35 minute range, a statistic measuring 90-minute transit trips is fucking bunk, even if the number it arrived at is 100%.

        “Thanks, dumb statistician, for confirming that I can hypothetically do something 3 times slower on transit. I’ll keep my quick car journey, kthanksbye.”

      10. OK, DP, now we’re getting somewhere. My commute is an hour from CapHill to northeast Seattle on 2 buses. It “should” take 30 minutes, and will when U-District station opens. (Insert plea for more frequent feeder buses.)

        For Ballard-CD and Queen Anne-Fremont, and Fremont-Capitol Hill, the ultimate problem is Lake Union and its bridges. Similar trips with direct roads, like the 48 from UW to Mt Baker, are faster than that. The 16 and 358 are intermediate: they’re fairly direct but have too many stops (and the 16 has a lot of turns, which may be unavoidable around Greenake, and suggests the route may be in the wrong place).

        Therefore, Metro gets a C on some trip pairs and a D on others. My response is: (1) finish ST2 and implement Seattle Subway, and (2) live on a C-graded route. Don’t live in upper Queen Anne or Fremont where it’s hard to get anywhere. Don’t live on the opposite side of Lake Union from where you frequently go.

        This may sound like accommodating Metro’s atrocities, but it’s better than being angry all the time and getting an ulcer. It will take a long time to get better, given Metro’s funding situation and Council pressures and inertia. In the meantime the Good News bunny says, “It’s much better than it was in the 1980s, and it’s slowly getting better.”

    2. Is it really not rocket science?

      My wife and I live in Fremont and she works on Cap Hill. Not so far as the crow flies, but on a bad day it can take an hour each way on Metro. Link will change the game, but we’re moving a lot of dirt to do it. It’s not rocket science but it’s financial science.

      And I’m not sure what you’re even envisioning as far as connecting suburban job centers with P&Rs. Downtown Bellevue is one thing (and there are already commuter-focused services there from much of the region), but what about Canyon Park? It may not be much of a “job center” in itself, but there are lots more like it all over the region. What would you do to improve transit to Canyon Park that isn’t way more expensive than what CT/ST are doing now (that is: there’s a P&R in the corner of one of the office parks near where 405 cuts through, with all-day ST freeway routes to Everett and Lynnwood about every 30 minutes that combine for 15-minute frequency to Bellevue; there are also a few sparsely-used and infrequent CT locals that loop through parts of the office park; some parts of the office park are 2 miles from the P&R and at least a mile from any bus stop; there’s a decent number of KCM vanpool vans there every day)? Why would someone P&R there when parking is free and you need wheels on the work end as much as on the home end of the trip?

  10. I’m surprised that DC is in the same rank as Seattle. DC has a much more extensive transit system and higher ridership, and there are several commuter trains to Baltimore, various parts of Virginia, and New York. All that doesn’t add up to a higher ranking?

    1. But it’s an even larger metro area, with lots of suburban employment that couldn’t possibly be served within the threshold, or really served at all. Again, useless metrics yield useless results.

      Draw an actual “urban extent” boundary and measure 40-minute service radii and then we might have something useful to discuss.

  11. A big surprise to me is San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, 36.7% urban, 63.3% suburban vs San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, 61.7% urban, 38.3% suburban. One I have a hard time understanding is Jacksonville 71.4% / 28.6% vs Orlando 18.7% / 81.3%. What’s so polar opposite about those two? Orlando metro area has almost twice the population which if anything I’d think would mean a more dispersed job base.

    1. I haven’t looked at this study’s methodology, but you can probably rest assured that its numbers are meaningless. Typically they assign an “urban”, “suburban”, or “rural” designation to a city, or even worse, a county (!), and use that designation to label all jobs within it. The results you cite suggest that’s true here. Jacksonville has an notoriously huge municipal boundary; Orlando has a crazy-shaped boundary that omits many areas close to its core. Similarly, SF has a tiny municipal boundary, and SJ’s is huge. So although almost all of SJ is suburban in character, it’s all put in the “urban” bucket.

    2. There’s no fucking way San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara is even half as urban as San Francisco-Oakland… er, forget about Fremont it’s far away, substitute Berkeley and Daly City. That was my lament in March when I was at a conference near Great America and went down to San Jose. A million people in San Jose proper, where are they? Where’s the city? Not in downtown SJ, not anywhere. VTA light rail at rush hour looks like Link on a slow evening. My parents lived down there in the 1960s and we moved here in 1972. I asked my mom why there’s no city in San Jose or Santa Clara, and she said it’s because the “town and country” motif was so strong — people didn’t want anything more than two stories because they were trying to get away from the city. Perfect Bailoland. Now there are ten-story buildings in Santa Clara but they’re as isolated as Northup Way. Surprisingly, I saw more ten-story buildings in little Santa Clara than central San Jose, which is still mostly two-story.

      Although, if they’re comparing SF-Oakland-Fremont, which is a huge area and must include Concord; all that southeastern low density is what’s dragging the numbers down. That’s not comparable to SJ-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, which is a more compact area. The light rail takes a leisurely half hour to traverse the core of it at 30 moh, while BART at 80 mph takes 46 minutes to reach Fremont from Embarcadero. (But at least that’s better than the 150, which can’t even reach Kent in 46 minutes in the daytime at half the distance.)

      1. There’s no fucking way San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara is even half as urban as San Francisco-Oakland.

        I take it that you regard population density as the key indicator. San Jose is more densely populated than Oakland: 5,256 per sq. mi. vs. 5,009 per sq. mile, according to the 2010 census of both cities. In fact, Seattle, at 6,717 per square mile, isn’t a whole lot more urban than San Jose.

        I suspect you’re terribly bothered by the lack of high-rises in San Jose. I’m not a huge fan of sprawl, depending on the details, but a city doesn’t have to be vertical to be urban. If it did, then a whole lot of European cities wouldn’t qualify as “urban” either.

      2. Please tell me where the Capitol Hills, Northgates, Ballards, and Fremonts of Silicon Valley are, especially the ones that have transit as frequent as Metro between them. Where can I live in an urban village in Silicon Valley? Downtown San Jose and Mountain View seem like the closest. I have not found any part of Silicon Valley that doesn’t resemble some part of Bellevue circa 1985 (e.g., downtown Bellevue in its 2-story days, Overlake, or the single-family parts). Except Lockheed Martin which is like a Boeing plant, and the convention center/museum amenities in downtown SJ.

      3. Please tell me where the Capitol Hills, Northgates, Ballards, and Fremonts of Silicon Valley are, especially the ones that have transit as frequent as Metro between them. Where can I live in an urban village in Silicon Valley? Downtown San Jose and Mountain View seem like the closest. I have not found any part of Silicon Valley that doesn’t resemble some part of Bellevue circa 1985 (e.g., downtown Bellevue in its 2-story days, Overlake, or the single-family parts). Except Lockheed Martin which is like a Boeing plant, and the convention center/museum amenities in downtown SJ.

        I’m not the San Jose Chamber of Commerce. I was recruited by a company down there about 15 years ago. I politely declined, while thinking to myself that I’d rather eat ground glass than move there. All I’m telling you is that San Jose is urban. Very urban, in fact. That doesn’t mean I’d ever want to live there.

      4. That gets into the definition of urban. San Jose may not be technically a suburb but its layout is like one. The stats on people per square mile are meaningless over large areas; they have been used to say that Los Angeles is more dense than New York City, when a casual visit shows that’s definitely not the case. New York has several high density areas, but SFHs in southeast Brooklyn and on Staten Island, and large industrial areas in Queens which may mistakenly be called “low density”. Los Angeles has a uniform medium or less-than-medium density. So LA’s density-per-square mile is closer to a person’s actual experience in any part of LA, while it’s meaningless for NYC. What makes a place “urban” is medium- or high-density walkable neighborhoods, which Seattle has several of and Silicon Valley has hardly any.

      5. What makes a place “urban” is medium- or high-density walkable neighborhoods, which Seattle has several of and Silicon Valley has hardly any.

        It’s nice to know that Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Miami, Riverside (CA), Tampa-St. Pete, Orlando, Las Vegas, Austin (TX), Tucson (AZ), Oklahoma City, Raleigh (NC), Richmond (VA), Louisville (KY), Norfolk (VA), Indianapolis, Memphis, Nashville, Charlotte (NC), and Jacksonville (FL) are not urban areas.

        Instead of calling these places “not urban,” why not just say that they don’t meet your idiosyncratic hipster standards for coolness? It would be more accurate.

      6. Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill is my quintessential example of three suburbs in search of a city.

      7. Like I say, not hip enough for you. Hell of a definition of “urban.” It’s only urban if some yuppie wannabe in Seattle aspires to living there.

  12. Fixed rail advocates are rooted in a mid-20th century concept of the city. It’s as if they wander through life channeling Petula Clark, singing Downtown. This would have a certain charm, if it didn’t come with a multi-billion dollar price tag. Cities are more dispersed now. Fixed rail, in particular, won’t work. There are other paradigms available, but the choo-choo train buffs refuse to think outside the rail.

    1. Tell us please, Not, just how people are expected to get around in your city without a downtown? Without spending billions, of course, on auto-oriented infrastructure? Inquiring minds want to know.

      1. Tell us please, Not, just how people are expected to get around in your city without a downtown?

        If you were in business, it’d be called the Strawman Construction Company. I didn’t suggest a “city without a downtown.” If you want to engage me in a serious way, you’re going to have to be serious about it.

    2. When discussing proposed urban rail systems, anti-transit folks harp on the cost and how it is not affordable. They seem to have forgotten that we have spent Billions on a car-based transit system that doesn’t work, and that we continue to spend Billions to half-maintain it, not to mention the costs of fuel, car insurance, car purchase/payments and maintenance, and worst of all on places to park those cars for 22.5 hours per day.

      Where can we find an estimate for what our car-based transportation system costs in aggregate? Setting aside debates on subsidies (aka who pays for what), I want to know what society pays for cars. We have a pretty good idea how much we spend on transit and what it would cost to build a comprehensive system that would allow us to live without cars, so I want a comparison point.

      1. They seem to have forgotten that we have spent Billions on a car-based transit system that doesn’t work, and that we continue to spend Billions to half-maintain it, not to mention the costs of fuel, car insurance, car purchase/payments and maintenance, and worst of all on places to park those cars for 22.5 hours per day.

        Doesn’t work? What, because some roads are congested at rush hour? If cars “didn’t work,” people wouldn’t have them.

      2. so where do you live? I say we put a 22 lane highway right through the middle of your neighborhood. After all folks got to get where they are going and massive highway construction is far cheaper than rail.

      3. It doesn’t work because we can’t afford it, either dollar-wise or environmentally. Now for my personal opinion: cities build around cars are tend to be uglier and less interesting that cities built around people.

      4. Which city has a bus-only transit system where the majority of people don’t drive cars, or at least not to work. Excluding third-world cities where the majority of people can’t afford cars.

      5. It doesn’t work because we can’t afford it, either dollar-wise or environmentally.

        Sure we can. Electric cars are the wave of the future, and in our region they’re the greenest option of all. And, by the way, the new light rail system is going to ADD to pollution.

        Now for my personal opinion: cities build around cars are tend to be uglier and less interesting that cities built around people.

        Which cities are “build around cars,” and which cities are “build around people”? And please don’t give me the typical hipster lament about Europe is so much cooler. To borrow a phrase: “We’re here, we’re Americans, get used to it.” So which American cities can you cite?

      6. I’ll bet you can’t afford a long-distance electric car. (Just speaking statistically here; only the 1% can afford ’em.)

        But really, what we can’t afford is the cost of building and maintaining the roads. *Asphalt prices are going up.*

      7. Among LARGE cities, NYC, SF, Boston, and Philadelphia are clearly built around people. Dallas and Houston are clearly built around cars. (“Let’s get in our car to drive across the street”.) Many others are somewhere in between; Chicago has an ugly tension between the two trends (and I do mean ugly, it feels like there’s a fight); LA has a weirdly laid-back tension between the two trends.

      8. Among LARGE cities, NYC, SF, Boston, and Philadelphia are clearly built around people. Dallas and Houston are clearly built around cars. (“Let’s get in our car to drive across the street”.) Many others are somewhere in between; Chicago has an ugly tension between the two trends (and I do mean ugly, it feels like there’s a fight); LA has a weirdly laid-back tension between the two trends.

        Have you lived in any of the places you’ve mentioned? If not, how much time have you spent in them?

      9. I have, dude. Lived 26 years in Boston. Been to New York literally hundreds of times (there right now, in fact). Had family in all four.

        Nathanael is right, you are wrong.

        But thanks for making so explicit your ignorance and lack of experience. The rest of your blather is now descredited and can be safely and categorically ignored.

      10. You asked Nathanael to name American cities fundamentally designed around people rather than cars. You dredged up the old “we-ain’t-Europe” knee-jerk just to underscore your ignorance.

        [ah]

  13. Speaking of transit-accessible jobs, I’d point something out to the choo-choo buffs at this website: All of Portland, Oregon’s net job growth — yes, 100% of it — has occurred outside of the reach of its much hyped light rail and trolley systems. It seems that employers in that metropolitan area, and their employees, would rather drive to work.

    In reacting, remember the five stage of grief. Eventually, you will really have to just accept it.

    1. That hasn’t been the pattern in the Seattle area. I don’t believe the new lines scheduled to open over the next 11 years is going to slow job growth in the employment centers LINK will serve. I don’t see Microsoft, Expedia, Amazon, etc. relocating to Buckley or Monroe any time soon.

      1. A mile away from where? Funny. as a district gets more popular now your criticism is it’s “too far away”. What happened to “there’s nothing there”. If you want to extend it then you have Redmond Town Center. Microsoft has provided their own transit system. Isn’t that what demand is all about? How did Metro miss out on this?

    2. (1) Business owners, not employees, decide where companies will be located. If business owners have a pro-sprawl bias or the development incentives are pro-sprawl, employees can do nothing about it.

      (2) Maybe the MAX lines are in the wrong place or there’s not enough of them. I’ve long been surprised that there’s no MAX on Hawthorne Street which is like the U-district in atmosphere, and you have to walk 20 minutes through a single-family area to reach a MAX station on a freeway. (Caveat: I don’t remember if the 20-minute walk is from Hawthorne or Burnside, but in the latter case it’s even longer to Hawthorne.)

      1. Businesses decide where to locate, but they won’t locate where there aren’t people. It’s an interactive process. As for Portland expanding Max, they’re doing it, but more recently without the help of outlying communities that are now refusing to participate.

        Portland is also facing a growing financial crisis involving its transit system. The feds built most of it, but the locals have to operate it. The money is insufficient, so they’re raising fares and cutting service. The buses are suffering the most, which is entirely predictable given that the rich ride the rails and the poor ride buses.

        It’ll be interesting, in the Chinese sense of the word, to see how it goes in Portland over the next 20 years. Their fixed-rail system will be a lead weight around their neck. Any growth there is happening outside of the Max footprint. One of these years, maybe even the New York Times will notice.

      2. What about those office parks on Northup Way, or the Microsoft campus in Redmond, or the offices along Eastgate Way? They were built with no regard to where transit was or where people lived. Microsoft has enough clout to get transit rerouted to it, but it’s been a several-year process, and it’s still an office park with nothing around it.

      3. it’s still an office park with nothing around it.

        Except single family homes, multifamily homes, parks, schools, retail, hotels, other major employers and the Group Health site rezoned and awaiting redevelopment.

      4. What about those office parks on Northup Way, or the Microsoft campus in Redmond, or the offices along Eastgate Way? They were built with no regard to where transit was or where people lived.

        Oh balderdash. If they’d been built “with no regard to where transit was or where people lived,” they’d have been built in Moses Lake, where land is somewhat cheaper.

      5. Not Fan, you’re just going to be completely wrong about Portland. Much of the growth in the area is going to happen within the MAX footprint, I predict. It would happen that way in any case, but the Urban Growth Boundary guarantees it. (If Portland *shrinks* that’s another matter.)

        The fixed-rail system remains cheaper to operate than the bus system per passenger and per passenger-mile, which is (of course) why the buses get cut, not the rail. The *bus system* is the lead weight around their neck financially speaking.

        MAX is only just getting to the expansion level where it’s possible to have significant numbers of poorer people living near it; because many people *like* being near rail, the rich always move there *first*, and only once their demand is close to being sated can the poor start to get places there. I suspect that MAX is just beginning to get to the size where the rich-who-wanna-be-on-the-train-line will start to get sated.

      6. There were definitely some… poor routing decisions made in the early MAX lines particularly.

      7. “Except single family homes, multifamily homes, parks, schools, retail, hotels, other major employers and the Group Health site rezoned and awaiting redevelopment.”

        Overlake Village is almost a mile away. That’s not walking distance, and it’s not the same neighborhood.

      8. Overlake Village is almost a mile away. That’s not walking distance, and it’s not the same neighborhood.

        Sorry, Overlake Village now borders on MS and it was sold as TOD. Your idea that there’s nothing surrounding the MS campus is absolutely absurd.

    3. During which time period, “Not Fan”?

      Past performance is not a predictor of future results. Any data from prior to the 2008 crash is meaningless in this regard, unless it’s from the 1930s.

    4. The fixed-rail system remains cheaper to operate than the bus system per passenger and per passenger-mile, which is (of course) why the buses get cut, not the rail. The *bus system* is the lead weight around their neck financially speaking.

      I disagree, but one of these days I’ll get the numbers to prove it. In Portland, as everywhere else, white yuppies ride the trains and poor and minorities ride the buses, with the exception of the crime-plagued portion of Max that goes to Gresham.

      MAX is only just getting to the expansion level where it’s possible to have significant numbers of poorer people living near it; because many people *like* being near rail, the rich always move there *first*, and only once their demand is close to being sated can the poor start to get places there. I suspect that MAX is just beginning to get to the size where the rich-who-wanna-be-on-the-train-line will start to get sated.

      There are vast areas far from rail system. You need to consider the whole area. Portland, as a city, is economically stagnant as a whole. There are been no private job growth there for 20 years. The region has grown, but all net job growth has not only been outside of the city, but outside the reach of Max.

      The line that goes to Hillsboro center is almost depressing. The choo-choo train buffs are going to have a whole potful of eggs on their face when this pipe dream collapses in a couple of decades. The suburbs already realize it, and are refusing to go along with more expansion.

      1. You need to consider the whole area. Portland, as a city, is economically stagnant as a whole. There are been no private job growth there for 20 years. The region has grown, but all net job growth has not only been outside of the city, but outside the reach of Max.

        I phrased that badly due to my use of the word “whole.”

        The City of Portland, as a complete entity, is economically stagnant. Some of the neighborhoods sparkle, but most of it barely treads water. There has been no net private job growth in the City of Portland for 20 years. Any increase has come from government, which is merely a transfer.

        Outside of the city, all net job growth has occurred outside of the reach of Max. Anyone who drives around the metropolitan area will quickly realize it. The Max system is a money pit that will never work out. The suburbs realize it, and are now increasingly refusing to participate in Max expansion.

        Hope that’s much clearer.

      2. In Portland, a ride on Max and a ride on a TriMet bus cost exactly the same, $2.10. There is no reason for a poor person to choose a bus over the train if the train will get him/her to his/her destination faster.

      3. “The Max system is a money pit that will never work out. The suburbs realize it, and are now increasingly refusing to participate in Max expansion.”

        In other words, the suburbs are getting even further stuck in automobile dependency.

      4. The City of Portland is no less auto dependent than its suburbs, a relative handful of 20- and 30-something hipsters on bikes notwithstanding.

  14. OK, looking at that map, what the heck is that city just north of NYC, but south of Albany, which is as bad as Orlando, FL?

    1. Aha! Poughkeepsie.

      Yep, that’s pretty much a “car mandatory” location. And it shouldn’t be, either, but it’s been allowed to develop that way.

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