520 Construction Update: Yarrow Point Closed Eastbound

Yarrow Point

[UPDATE 8/9/12, 11:22am: We received word via a WSDOT consultant that the shuttle operating hours have since been extended:

As of this morning, the shuttle, which runs between Evergreen Point Road and the new temporary transit stop on Northeast Points Drive, west of 92nd Avenue Northeast, operates 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.]

Thanks to ongoing long-term construction of SR-520 on the Eastside, the eastbound stop of the Yarrow Point Freeway Station will be closed for roughly 18 months.  The closure is already in effect, having started last Saturday.  According to Metro, regular Yarrow Point riders will have to use other stops, which will prove to be a challenge given the station’s far-removed location from other stops and routes.

One interesting mitigation strategy is the provision of a free shuttle that will run limited hours in the afternoon peak between Yarrow Point and Evergreen Point.  Interestingly enough, the shuttle is not being provided by Metro and appears to be privately operated (PDF):

Effective Monday, August 6, and until further notice, a private, free, non-Metro Shuttle van operates on Weekdays from 5-8 PM (see above) between the eastbound Evergreen Point Station and Points Dr & 92nd Av NE.

During these times, exit eastbound buses at Evergreen Point Station and walk to the top of the pedestrian walkway. A private van marked ‘Shuttle’ operates about every 15 minutes on Weekdays between 5-8 PM, and will take passengers to the temporary bus stop northbound on Points Dr just west of 92nd Av NE.

I can’t attest to how well this shuttle will be used, but it does set an interesting precedent for construction mitigation, particularly given the fact that Metro doesn’t seem to be paying a cent for it.  It will be intriguing to see, however, how riders might respond to having to hop into a van devoid of any Metro livery.

Community Transit Proposes 2013 Changes

Current Route 112

CT is already seeking comment on its service change for next February:

Route 112 (Ash Way Park & Ride – Mountlake Terrace Transit Center)

Route 112 buses would be routed to serve the Lynnwood Transit Center to improve connections with other buses.

Route 417 (Mukilteo – Downtown Seattle)

Route 417 buses would no longer travel on 44th Avenue W, north of 196th Street in Lynnwood. Instead, buses are proposed to travel on Highway 525 from Mukilteo to I-5, then exit at 196th Street before serving the Lynnwood Transit Center. Northbound routing would be the reverse. This proposed change would provide a peak-hour connection with Route 196.

Route 885 (Lynnwood – UW)

Route 885 trips are proposed to be eliminated and replaced with trips on Route 880. The two routes currently serve much of same corridor at different times, except that Route 880 does not serve the Lynnwood Transit Center. Riders wishing to travel between UW and the Lynnwood Transit Center could take Routes 810, 821 or 855.

In a change less likely to invite negative comments, money from Olympia and “congestion mitigation and air quality” money from the Federal Transit Administration will enable CT to add thirty trips on ten different commuter routes next year, lasting for at least three years. It’s nice that the State is stepping up to help out agencies that don’t have the special fundraising authority that King County gets.

Your best commenting options are September 6th, 3pm, 700 Hardeson Rd., Everett, or 2013changes@commtrans.org. I’ve always thought it odd that these hearings occur outside the proper CT service area.

Undoing an Archaic and Anti-Urban Code

Photo via Flickr user La Citta Vita

As Martin pointed out on Saturday, subtle anti-urban rhetoric is often too casually thrown into the public arena, intentional or not.  But even in our existing legal framework, small regulations of this very nature abound in code, let alone the major restrictions that prohibit density and development.  The most recent example is the case of Paulo Nunes-Ueno, who’s received flak for putting a sandbox at the end of his driveway for neighborhood children to play in.

By all accounts, Nunes-Ueno’s sandbox is technically illegal on paper, as it encroaches on public right-of-way.  But in the practical world, the regulations prohibiting this kind of use are based off archaic notions of segregated uses and traffic optimization, mixed in with a fanatical panic of kids being hit by cars– all of which are driven by notions of privatization, which really have no place in a discussion about public streets.

The oddest argument I hear against Nunes-Ueno’s sandbox is the one that evokes the 5PM commuter rushing to drive home only to slam at 40mph into an unsuspecting child who was playing with sand only moments earlier.  The imagery works because it’s sensationalist– motorists only drive that fast because they’re under the impression that only vehicles have priority in the roadway.

A lot of this has to do with how street design has been standardized in the U.S., with the division of public right-of-way into travel and parking lanes, sidewalks, planting strips, etc., all of which are designed for a single use.  Regulating it in code means wider right-of-ways, more wasted space, and less land for development.  The alternative standard, a street designed for a multiplicity of modes and uses, is a concept already perfected by the Europeans.

While converting all our low-traffic residential streets at the bottom of the network hierarchy into woonerfs may not be entirely practical, Nunes-Ueno’s case represents the small prices we still have to pay for outdated anti-urban regulations that stifle the city’s path forward for vibrancy and livability.

Metro’s Southeast Seattle Outreach

King County Metro 4 and 2 (on detour) at Cherry & MLK
King County Metro 4 and 2 (on detour) at Cherry & MLK

Since the spring, King County Metro has engaged in extensive outreach with bus riders in the Rainier Valley, looking for a better understanding of how riders are using the transit service which exists there now, and what barriers exist to greater use of that service. This outreach was ordered by the King County Council, as part of a political compromise to approve the eventual deletion of the cost-ineffective and geographically-redundant Route 42 in 2013. The public products of this outreach thus far have been seven posts on the official Metro Matters blog and a report, of which the report and several of the posts are full of great new information.

Let’s dig in to the report. There are three sections dedicated to public feedback, broken out by source: community organizations; community members (who attended in-person meetings organized by Metro); and online survey results. The first is easily the least interesting: it’s mostly a recitation of ACRS’s long-debunked arguments for how supposedly-irreplaceable the pre-2007 Route 42 was and is. Notably, according to the report, ACRS, after suggesting Metro’s survey questions were biased, conducted its own transportation survey in which a whopping 30% of surveyed riders thought the 42 was needed.

Rider feedback after the jump.

Continue reading “Metro’s Southeast Seattle Outreach”

More Spurious Anti-Arena Arguments

Dodger Stadium Traffic (Manny/Flickr via Streetsblog)

I can certainly sympathize with people who don’t particularly care for basketball or hockey and don’t see why these diversions should receive special tax treatment. But I wish Seattle public figures would stop making deeply anti-urban arguments against the arena. Today’s nominee is Peter Steinbruck at Monday’s PubliCola arena forum:

Former city council member Peter Steinbrueck, who has been retained as a consultant by the (anti-arena) Port of Seattle but was speaking on his own behalf, had an interesting suggestion for arena proponents: Given that the city has committed itself to carbon neutrality, why not do a carbon analysis of the arena proposal?

Current estimates are that 65 percent of arena attendees will come from outside Seattle, and that fewer than 20 percent of all arena users will get there by transit. So what is the carbon impact of all those cars driving in from the suburbs? So far, the city has only committed to do an analysis of traffic impacts on the area around the arena as part of its environmental review.

On the surface Mr. Steinbruck is just asking for a study, but we all know how this goes: some people will drive to the arena, generating more emissions than they would if they stayed at home. Then arena opponents get to cluck at arena backers’ reckless disregard for the environment. Rhetorical points are scored.

The end logic of his position is inescapable. The carbon impact of patrons at Benaroya Hall and Seattle Center is not good; the cruise ships and those precious jobs at the Port also generate emissions. Shut all these down, and one eliminates the things that make Seattle a city. It would also sacrifice the economic and environmental benefits of urban living. More after the jump.

Continue reading “More Spurious Anti-Arena Arguments”

When Do Peak Fares Begin?

2010 fares, photo by Oran

Last week we were approached by a reader who confided in us a tale of discrepancy regarding Metro’s peak fares and exactly when they begin during the day.  According to the agency’s instructional literature on fare payment, the peak fare designation doesn’t get any more specific than “Monday to Friday 6-9 a.m. and 3-6 p.m.,” begging the question of how trips that travel between peak and off-peak hours charge their riders.

The question was raised when the reader transferred from an off-peak trip to another trip at about a quarter to three in the afternoon when the ORCA transfer deducted an additional $0.25 from his E-purse, a peak charge despite the fact that the boarding occurred before designated PM peak hours.  After sending a query, Metro responded that peak trips are charged according to how much time a trip spends in the peak period.

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Metro to Platoon Buses, Use Loaders in DSTT

Starting October 1st Metro will begin to actively platoon buses between 2:30-6:30pm, in addition to having fare inspectors at the rear doors, called “loaders”, at some bus bays from 4-6 pm in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (DSTT). These changes are an effort to mitigate the large delays which will be caused by the elimination of the Ride Free Area (RFA). We have written about that extensively here, here, here, and here. Metro has already implemented some obvious and low-cost changes, like adding a 2nd Link “sweeper” at Westlake Station and allowing inbound buses to pull as far forward as possible. Continue reading “Metro to Platoon Buses, Use Loaders in DSTT”

Tacoma Link Open Houses This Month


Via Tacoma Tomorrow, ST is starting the process to expand Tacoma Link that voters approved in 2008, and is seeking public input in three weeks:

Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012
11 a.m.-1 p.m.
People’s Community Center
1602 S MLK Jr Way, Tacoma
4-7 p.m.
Tacoma Dome Station Plaza (off 25th Street)

The point of this process is to develop the routing alternatives that will be formally studied in the Alternatives Analysis, to begin in October and run through April 2013. More after the jump.

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News Roundup: A Piece of History

FHSC Construction (Gordon Werner/Flickr)

This is an open thread.

Link Service Reduced Some Evenings For Copper Replacement

Tukwila IB Station (Oran)

Last week, a reader alerted us to a new rider alert posted on Link trains. From now until the end of October, service is being reduced some Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 7pm-1am, from the 10-15 minute headways that would normally exist at that time to 20 minute headways. We spoke to Sound Transit, and this is necessary to make time to replace the copper grounding wire recently found to be stolen.

With the deep recession, stories of stolen wire are becoming more common – every week or so I see a wire theft article from somewhere in the US, and Sound Transit tells us they’ll be taking additional security steps in the future.

It’s not entirely clear which specific dates work will be done, as crews to do the work aren’t always available late in the evening – so riders are encouraged to be prepared for 20 minute headways. Last Tuesday and Thursday I rode after 7 and experienced 10 minute headways, so it’s not always in effect.