FHSC Construction (Gordon Werner/Flickr)

This is an open thread.

53 Replies to “News Roundup: A Piece of History”

  1. It still seems odd to me that the 140, out of all the South King County routes, was chosen as the best corridor for RapidRide. I could see a better case for a variety of others, but especially the 169 or the corridor between Southcenter and Auburn now served by a combination of the 150 and 180.

    1. The 169 suffers from failure to connect with Link or an ST Express route to downtown. Cut the 101 midday, and use the hours to extend the 169 to RBS and increase its frequency. The forced transfer at South Renton means the parkers get the good seats and the transferers get the SRO. It’s time the neighborhood riders got the good seats.

    2. The 140 is South King’s most important east-west route and connects Renton to Burien via Tukwila Station (during the peak), Southcenter, and Tukwila Int’l Blvd Station.

      1. I know where the 140 goes. Based on Metro’s own productivity metrics, though, the 169 is far more productive. Using my own knowledge of the corridors to extrapolate from the data, I would speculate that if you treated the Southcenter-Kent-Auburn corridor (now parts of the 150 and 180) as a single route, it would also be far more productive than the 140. There’s no reason RapidRide should favor crosstown routes at the expense of productivity.

      2. Count yourself lucky, L.

        The 169 would be better served getting the 120 treatment than the RapidRide treatment. Then, you’d still have a schedule, more capacity on the bus, and not have the too-closely-spaced stops cemented into law should you ever want stops consolidated.

      3. Connecting Auburn to Southcenter means connecting Auburn to downtown Seattle, unless the 150 is radically restructured. The 150 did go from Auburn to downtown until 1990-ish, but it was split because the route was way too long and unreliable.

        It’s odd to me that the 180 goes north then northwest. Why not 180-169? But SeaTac is a magnet for all of south King County, and it’s now a Link transfer. So maybe that’s why.

      4. Based on my knowledge of the ridership in that area, I think the following restructure would service most riders better:

        – Truncate the 150 at Southcenter, except during peak hours, when it would be extended to Kent.
        – Start a Valley RapidRide line, running on the 150 route from Southcenter to Kent and the 180 route from Kent to Auburn Station.
        – Make the South Auburn part of the 180 back into a separate route, the way it used to be (it was the 151).
        – Through-route the Kent-Burien portion of the 180 with the 168.

      5. “Through-route the Kent-Burien portion of the 180 with the 168.”

        That gets into how much ridership potential is on the 168. Metro currently has half-hourly frequency on the 169, and hourly on the 168. Is that a fair reflection of the potential ridership potential, or just an arbitrary distribution of service that has never been corrected?

    3. It’s partly a concession Southcenter not being on the Link line, and anticipation of a future Burien – Renton Link line. I assume the transit planners thought this corridor has the highest potential ridership. The 169 is an obvious second corridor for the next round of RapidRide, like the 120 in West Seattle.

      1. Somehow I get the feeling that the F Line is more politics than transit planning.

      2. Well, transit planning is politics, to a degree. There has long been a regional vision to link Burien and Renton via Tukwila. Check out PSRC planning documents that the growth strategy in that corridor.

  2. I took advantage of the SDOT Blog that was recently discussed on STB to ask about a possible road diet for 23rd Ave near Madison and here’s the response I received:

    We are currently in the process of studying this area for a possible rechannelization, though no final decisions have been made and may not be for some time due to budget constraints.

    Not particularly earth shattering, but nice to know that SDOT actually does read and respond to questions. I hope they do find a way to implement a road diet there – the lanes are painfully narrow and speeds tend to run pretty fast…

  3. Totally unrelated to any of the posted news items but this past weekend I was hospitalized due to complete failure of my right optic nerve. While in the ER I was given an MRI … 3 actually, but during the initial one they failed to remove my wallet. Fried everything in it (MRIs are huge magnets after all) with the exception of my Orca Card. Still works as well as the day I got it. Plus 1 for Orca!

    1. “during the initial one they failed to remove my wallet” Heh. I thought you were describing the reason for the other two.

  4. “Mark Hinshaw nails the problem with the waterfront plans.”

    Huh? I thought that piece was meandering and uninteresting, bordering on flat-out wrong in some places. The small part of the waterfront which doesn’t have a viaduct or railway line right through it is actually almost entirely midrise residential or hotels, and the areas behind the viaduct are zoned for residential, although a lot of the parcels are waiting for the the viaduct to come down to be redeveloped.

    1. Yeah I started reading and lost interests pretty quickly. Having attended a few waterfront design meetings I’m pretty sure all these issues are well know and steps are being taken to address them.

      1. There are indeed a few head-scratchers in the Hinshaw piece. Seattle isn’t flat, but the waterfront is, sitting as it does on landfill. San Francisco, with obvious geographic similarities, is dismissed as “the exception that proves the rule” that people won’t walk up hills. He neglected to mention that SF has a convergence of transit lines near the Ferry Building– something that Seattle might have if the waterfront streetcar can be revived.

        Hinshaw’s closing shot of PNW exceptionalism was just a little strange, praising the supposed solitary nature of those who live in an area that “combines the restrained and introspective attributes of Scandinavia and Asia.” I don’t know which Scandinavian cities he’s thinking of, but I suppose Oslo and Bergen might have some public spaces where the Nordic archetypes can interact as little as possible with each other. The Asian cities I’ve been to were rather crowded and seemed curiously low on urban spaces that were appropriate for restrained introspection. Maybe he just chose a really rainy day for a walk along the Bund.

    2. Yeah, that diagnosis seemed way off. My only personal point of comparison is Chicago, where the lakefront is an unbroken string of parks or buildings that are more or less public (i.e. the public can usually walk right up to them even when they’re closed) all the way from Edgewater to South Shore (Google Maps leaves a part of the near north side grey, not green, but the lakefront bike path is there, so it’s a public space and linear park). A block away from those parks there are residential areas, many expensive and most quite dense, though not always.

      Seattle doesn’t have the continuous expanse of waterfront Chicago does, but private buildings come closer to the water than in most parts of Chicago.

    3. Hinshaw forgot to mention what specifically he finds wrong in the waterfront design, and what he’d replace them with. The public workshops did ask for input on what would make the waterfront inviting year round. And the public input has been negative on the “mist plaza”, which is probably the most inappropriate piece for Seattle. Hinshaw seems to agree that the wild-nature gardens should be kept. What else is there? Surely he’d keep the escalator and bicycle/ped path. Some of the outdoor plazas could be turned into covered plazas in a later stage: it’s only at 5% design if I remember right. Should Seattle not have a waterfront park because of the steep hills and lack of waterfront condos? That’s silly. A waterfront park would be a big asset to the city.

    4. By the way, the #1 feedback at the last public meeting was to include a streetcar. That had some 30+ supporters, or fifteen times larger than the next most popular comment. And half of those said to bring back the Benson streetcar specifically.

      I personally just want some kind of frequent/fast transit on Alaskan Way, whether streetcar or trolleybus.

  5. RapidRide F to The Landing? Yes please :)

    What needs to be done to come up with funding?

    1. Platform hours have to be cut somewhere else nearby, such as duplicate-head express buses all day to downtown.

      1. I’d gladly F –> Link to get to Downtown instead of a one seat ride.

        Yeah, I know: some people would just “die” if they lost that one seat ride (cough cough #42 cough cough)

      2. The 42 is going away. It just got a one-year reprieve while Metro outreaches to the non-English speaking community. The issue for RapidRide F expansion is consolidation in south King County, or more revenue to Metro. Several ideas have been floated, such as extending the 149 to Rainier Beach and deleting the 101 (keeping the 102 to avoid the wrath of peak commuters).

      3. If the F-line took a more direct route from TIBS to Renton (possibly at the expense of making people going to southcenter or the Sounder station walk a couple 10th’s of a mile), the service hours to extend it to the Landing would already be there. But apparently, Metro feels that the big loop around southcenter, plus a detour into Tukwila station (all day to connect with a train that runs only during the peak) is more important.

      4. asdf, have you ever walked in that area? It’s as pedestrian-unfriendly as it gets. And Southcenter drives most of the 140 ridership. If you skipped Southcenter, you’d have a bus to nowhere.

      5. “Southcenter drives the 140 ridership”.

        Absolutely true. I ride the 140 every afternoon on Southcenter Blvd (which is actually across I-405 from the mall), and almost no one ever boards with me. The stop actually at the mall (Andover Park W/Strander) usually boards 10+ passengers per trip.

        The 140 is never crushloaded, even though Metro only runs 30′ buses on it at 15-minute headways. *I’ve never had to stand once.* So I agree with other commenters, too, that the 140 was chosen as RapidRide for non-ridership reasons, namely as a LINK consolation prize and for network connectivity. It does serve to connect 5 major hubs relatively well, if a bit circuitously.

    2. Oh, and any extension of a RapidRide line comes with a capital cost for more red-painted buses, plus the need for a full council vote to alter the line.

      Again, you may not want your favorite line to get the RapidRide treatment.

  6. The Government Accounting Office has released a report “BUS RAPID TRANSIT Projects Improve Transit Service and Can Contribute to Economic Development that compares many of the new BRT projects in the US and the subsequent changes to ridership, travel times and local economic development. Looking at the data presented it seems that Cleveland and Eugene have done BRT best, with KC Metro in the mid-range (A Line) or lower third (B Line). Metro’s BRT lines seem to be deficient mostly in fare collection and ITS features when compared to other US BRT projects. The A Line’s ridership increase was mid-range; but in the category of travel time savings created by the new BRT projects compared to previous services, Metro’s A & B lines were dead last of all projects surveyed.

    1. Given that the frequency of the A Line is doubled or better over the old 174, the actual wait+travel time is down about 12 or so minutes.

      I’m not sure they factored that in.

    2. “Looking at the data presented it seems that Cleveland and Eugene have done BRT best,”

      That fits anecdotal reports.

      Although it’s worth noting that in Cleveland, they’d *still* rather have the “Health Line” be rail service — and it would be cheaper to operate. But the state and federal governments wanted to provide money for “BRT”, so BRT is what they got.

      BRT as usually advertised doesn’t really make sense. Something like LA’s “Metro Rapid” — buses with decent shelters and longish stop spacing — does make sense. Seattle hasn’t even managed to do that.

  7. I’m thinking about going to Rail~volution in October in LA, at the Lowes Hollywood Hotel, Hollywood/Highland station. I’ve only been to LA a few times so I have some questions for any Angelinos lurking on the list.

    A] You can choose up to two excursions. Which of these sound best in terms of rapid transit and urban villages? (1) Bike ride to San Juan Capistrano. (3) Purple line TOD. (4) Santa Monica bicycle features. (6) Gold line Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Mariachi Plaza. (7) Gold Line Monrovia and Azusa. (8) Union Station rebirth. (10) Gold line Boyle Heights. (11) Silver Line BRT. (12) Orange Line BRT sustainability. (13) LAX. (14) Wilshire Blvd BRT. (15) Old Pasadena. (16) Rail transforms LA’s historic core.

    B] Are there any under-$100 hotels on the Red Line that people would recommend, or a district that has a concentration of such hotels on a good transit line?

    C] Does the Coast Starlight still go to Union Station where the Red Line is? It did when I took the train down in the 80s, but the Rail~volution brochure doesn’t mention the Starlight in its discussion of Union Station’s revitalization.

    1. I can only comment on C] – yes the Starlight arrives and departs from LA Union Passenger Terminal daily.

    2. A) I’d do 3, 6, 7, 10 or 16. The “transit way” or whatever it’s call (bus-only freeway with stops like stations) is worth checking out. If you are going to Union station for amtrack maybe you probably don’t need 8? Old Pasadena, Santa Monica and San Juan Capistrano are all really far out suburbs relative to the LA proper options. All sound good other than the LAX green line nightmare. Worst train ride I’ve ever had, and I’ve taken a local train across India once.

      B) Try this: go to here and see the list of hotwire/priceline hotels:
      http://www.betterbidding.com/ You can usually figure out exactly which one it is.

      C) Yes it does.

      1. In fact, a quick peak indicates there are a lot of good 3-4 star hotels around there in October for like $80.

    3. I think (8) or (17) would be interesting. Union Station is a fantastic building and the rebirth of viable local and intercity passenger rail in SoCal would be very interesting to me. I’ve also used the Wilshire Blvd BRT several times and it works well–(14) might be interesting. I’d also be interested in (9) the bicycle tour of Long Beach. The Long Beach area has a very busy working port area near downtown Long Beach. How does Long Beach integrate port traffic with other commercial traffic and activities?

    4. I’d kind of like to see Capistrano anyway because I went through there on the train in the 80s and the station area was beautiful, with a 50s gas pump. I’ve heard the rest of the core town is exceptional too. But I haven’t had a bike for eight years (when I moved near Harborview’s steep hills) so I’m not sure about that part.

      I’m leaning toward one of the purple or golds, and I’d like to see Santa Monica too since I’ve never been there. But I have to narrow it down to two.

      1. If you take Rapid Line 720 which is the present Wilshire BRT from, say, Wilshire/Vermont (has TOD on top) subway station and ride it to the end, you’ll end up in Santa Monica.

        Gold Line has a number of TOD projects including one built enveloping the station just south of Old Town Pasadena (forgot which one).

        Both Old Pasadena and Santa Monica have very nice, walkable and active downtowns reachable by Metro. I think SJC requires Amtrak or Metrolink and is much farther out.

        Silver Line BRT might be familiar. It’s like our freeway stations. They are no longer transit exclusive, now shared with HOVs and to become HOT Lanes. Maybe you’d want to the stacked interchange station with the Green Line and the center platform freeway bus station. Or maybe the new El Monte bus station.

      2. Consider going to SJC by train if you have the time and money. It’s a full day trip, though, no seeing anything else that day.

        You can check out Union Station, Chinatown/Little Tokyo and even Boyle Heights all in one excursion; things are fairly close together there.

    5. I’m not an Angelino, but I’ve visited fairly often. If you arrive at LA by Amtrak you’ll see Union Station without even trying to take an excursion, so you might cram three of your options in.

      Regarding your other two excursion choices: LA is a weird place, and it would be hard for me to give advice.

      However, if you go see the “Silver Line BRT” or LA Airport, it will be basically to see how *not* to do “rapid transit and urban villages”. And if you go to see the “Orange Line BRT”, you’ll be thinking “this should have been rail” the whole time. Most of the others will be relatively positive experiences — although quite different from one another.

      I don’t know whether you want to see bad examples or good examples; there’s something to be said for seeing the really bad examples. :-) The “Silver Line BRT” is really a case study in how to get something extremely unpleasant and unpopular for hundreds of millions of dollars.


    1. Would it help if maps were deployed to each machine pointing to where the several other machines are? That would be millions of dollars cheaper.

  9. The C and D lines will be operating much later than the routes they are replacing. The last C and D to leave the downtown will leave at 3:30 AM. Right now, the last 54 and 15 to leave downtown leaves at 1:05 and 1:32 AM.

    1. Those last two trips are just replacing the 81 and 85 owl buses, which are both going away in the restructure.

    2. Still, that confirms that at least some of the 3:30am routes will survive in October.

      Consolidating the night owls with RapidRide or another nearby route makes sense. It leads to a simpler system where people just have to remember a few 24-hour routes. The night owl loops were an attempt to put a stop near everybody’s house, but the same stops and segments that are most used in the day are the ones that are most used at night.

  10. Two evening commutes in a row I have had connection errors with One Bus Away. Am I the only one or is something up?

    Also, discovered when I turned to Metro’s bus tracker yesterday that it has some pretty bad data. For example, the 312 does not stop at 3rd & Seneca southbound during the evening commute, but the bus tracker website said it did yesterday.

    1. Did you look at the date of the article? January 2009. That’s right after the mortgage meltdown put several financial companies out of business. Seattle had a spike in vacancies too. I remember that winter on Summit and Bellevue Avenues, every single building had a vacancy sign for six blocks straight. There’s your Seattle depopulation! But it was temporary. And meanwhile, Covington and Maple Valley also had “For Sale” signs as far as the eye could see. (By the way, how many signs do you see there now? Are they still advertising Maple Valley homes in Kent?)

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