106 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Smart Growth Stories”

  1. I was surprised to see a northbound D Line say something like Ballard via Uptown. Do people really call it Uptown and not Lower Queen Anne? Maybe other buses say Uptown and I just haven’t noticed. Yes, I know that’s its official neighborhood name, but I’m pretty sure nobody calls it that, just like nobody calls western downtown Seattle the West Edge.

      1. So I searched through the Seattle Times archives for mentions of “uptown”, “lower queen anne”, and combinations.

        Lower Queen Anne wins. It has been called that way for a hundred years in real estate listings and news articles. Capitalization of “lower” varies.

        Uptown is a more generic term referring to areas north of downtown, which varies from Pike St all the way up to LQA. There are businesses and organizations in LQA that have used the Uptown moniker, like the theater (1926), Uptown Florists (1940s), Uptown Market (1960s), the Uptown Queen Anne Community Club (1960s).

    1. I’d also guess Uptown fits better on a sign.

      I call it Uptown. Lower Queen Anne seems a bit demeaning.

    2. I’ve never heard it called Uptown. I’ve lived in the area for 23 years and it’s always been Lower Queen Anne and the buses were signed either Queen Anne or Seattle Center East/West. If you went Downtown or even to the “Uptown Neighborhood” and asked people where Uptown was you’d likely get a lot of shrugs.

    3. Or maybe no one cares if the RR bus that they see approaching will go to some obscure place like “Seattle Center West”?

    4. The 40 doesn’t say “Ballard” on it.

      Which is hilarious, because it’s now the only bus that serves actual Ballard, and it does so faster than the “RapidRide”.

    5. It may depend on when they lived on Queen Anne. I learned about Uptown in the 80s from my friend who was living on Queen Anne at the time. I asked where is Uptown, and he showed me it’s lower Queen Anne. Also, the names have changed over time. In the 80s people used the larger district names rather than the smaller census-tract names that have come into fashion more recently (and may have been used before the 80s but I wouldn’t know that). Squire Park, Bryant, Crown Hill, Loyal Heights, Broadview, Maple Leaf weren’t used much, it was “Central District”, “Capitol Hill”, “Ballard”, “Greenwood”, and “that unnamed area between the U-District and Lake City”. For years I thought Wedgwood was 65th because that’s where the “Wedgwood” bus turned. I thought Ravenna was that extra-narrow strip between 56th and Ravenna Blvd. It was only in the past decade that I’ve heard 65th being called “Ravenna”, and only here on STB that I learned about the 8-Ravenna bus.

      The names that were created by the real estate industry in the 90s are SODO, Madison Valley, and West Edge. South Lake Union may have revived a defunct old name; it was “Cascade” or “Queen Anne” in the intervening years. International District was more of a political creation; the city/Metro couldn’t stomach a “Chinatown station” when the DSTT was built.

    6. In the NY City papers now they use UES and LES to refer to Upper Eastside and Lower Eastside.

      So how about LQA if they want to save sign letters?

      1. I’ve always thought of Seattle Center West and Seattle Center East as akin to Central Park West and Central Park East.

  2. I know that it has been mentioned somewhere on this blog before, but I cannot find it. What is the fastest way between U District and Downtown. (and don’t say the 70 series)

      1. Or to answer that seriously the 70 series because of the frequency. If you want the shortest time and you aren’t fussy bout reliability the 510/511 that stop at 45th and I-5 are faster – they go right down Stewart from the freeway and then down 5th.

      2. “Driving.” Certainly not true if you have to park. The bus connection between UW and downtown is fast and frequent. And just wait until Link opens.

      3. I meant it sarcastically since he had his caveat about the 70 series but really none of our bus lines beat driving in terms of actual travel time – particularly if you’re willing to pay for a garage Downtown. Link should do it.

      4. There’s also the 255 & 545 to Montlake – if you are headed to the hospital or south campus areas – plus fairly frequent 43 & 48 to take you along 15th Ave

      5. Overall, biking is best – about 25 minutes door to door and doesn’t get bogged down in any traffic.

        If you’re looking for transit options, the answer is it depends. If I’m under serious time constraints, I don’t fool around and just call a cab. It’s well worth $15 for the piece of mind of knowing a late bus won’t cause me to miss a critical connection downtown to an hourly bus I absolutely need to make.

        If I have the time, I will take one of serveral bus options, including the 66, 70-series, and 510/511. Which is best depends on the time of day, the day of week, and which direction you are traveling.

        On weekdays during rush hour, in the peak direction, the 70-series is usually best because they are running in express mode and the I-5 express lanes offer a nice connection to the tunnel that bypasses all the stoplights. On weekends, I tend to go for the 66, 510, 511, or 512.

        Southbound, the 510/511/512 tend to be very reliable when the freeway is uncongested because there’s very few bus stops up route for change fumblers to delay the bus. Unfortunately, there’s no OneBusAway info to report the real-time progress of these routes, but I often use the WSDOT traffic report as a proxy. Basically, if I-5 southbound is flowing freely from Lynnwood/Everett into Seattle, the 510/511/512 buses should be mostly on-time. If I-5 is clogged, the buses will be late, and you should probably go an alternate route.

        The 70-series tends to be the most often used because it runs the most frequently. However, it takes a good 10-20 minutes to get from one end of the U-district to the other down the Ave, and these buses tend to get bunched a lot, which can negate much of the advantage of their frequency. These buses can often be very crowded and overcrowded buses tend to be very slow moving through the U-district. On evenings and Sundays, these buses are in “local” mode, which means frequent stops along Eastlake as well.

        The 66 is a convienient alternative to the 70-series which is often overlooked because it runs every 30 minutes vs. every 10-15 minutes. However, it’s a lot less crowded than the 70-series and it gets through the U-district itself quite a bit faster. Between the U-district and downtown, the 66 is virtually identical to the 70-series in travel time, (except when the 70-series is running in express mode and the I-5 express lanes are open in the correct direction). I often use the 66 to connect with the light rail for trips to and from the airport to avoid needing to squeeze my suitcase onto an overcrowded 70-series bus.

    1. Err, well, generally it is the 70 series (71/2/3 or 71/2/3X), although in the evenings when the 70 series is local, you may as well take the 49 or 66 if one shows up first.

      1. The 66 is better any time the “expresses” aren’t taking the express lanes.

        That Ave crawl is a killer. As are the zig-zags into the tunnel.

    2. Whether you’d prefer the 70 series running express or the 511/510 depends on what part of the U District you’re going to. If you’re going to Araya’s or Petco the 511/510 are probably better. If you’re going to most parts of campus proper the 70 series is better (which is one reason those buses are packed in the reverse-commute direction and the 511 isn’t).

    3. The 70 (at 34 minutes at 5pm southound), followed by the 49 (41 minutes), and the 43 (39 minutes). Subtract 5-10 minutes for off-peak.

    4. If a 66 is anything less than 10 minutes away, that is the best choice. Always.

      You might think you’re better off on the 70-something that claims to be at 50th & The Ave, but you absolutely are not.

      1. For a few months, the local routing of the 70-series is on a construction reroute that avoids the Mercer Mess, making it quite a bit faster than normal. On a day with low ridership, it might even be almost as fast as the 66.

  3. There is some talk that the 133 may come back in February. Although I generally don’t want to see Metro go backward on any of their route changes, taking away a full bus that bypassed the Central Business District and headed to UW was probably a mistake. Yes, it takes more platform hours, but at this point it makes more sense to keep those buses out of the downtown busruption. This route, along with the 167, 197, and 586, should be set to go away when University Link opens.

    1. Unless you’re planning on cutting service on some other route, you’ve got the same number of buses in the downtown bus-ruption either way.

  4. With the RFA ending, even ORCA ePurse customers are going to slow down buses heading downtown if they have to request 1 vs 2-zone fare resets. Or drivers are just going to leave them set for 1-zone fares and not bother with the second zone.

    1. I hadn’t though of the zone issue. How will we enforce this, leaving from downtown? The honor system?

      1. I don’t know how it *will* be enforced, though I can think of various options for how it *could* be enforced.

        Like with the question of when to pay as you exit, the simplest answer is to have one rate, all day, with no fare boundaries. Some routes could be designated local, and some express.

        In the case of Sound Transit, routes serving two counties ought to, by policy, charge the two-county fare for everyone boarding in the originating county. Metro and ST should get together and match Metro’s express fare to ST’s one-county fare, say $3 any time. I mean, really, it is a premium service. People should be willing to pay for it.

        Zone fumbling and fare disputes are just not worth the extra theoretical fare revenue. Nor does the peak fare seem to make people want to do more travelling off-peak, so I don’t really see the point in peak vs. off-peak.

        $1 reduced fare, $2 local, $3 express, $4 2-county express cash fares. With or withour pushing ORCA, cash-and-change fumbling would pretty much go away.

      2. I would hope that riders be honest about their destination and ask for the proper fare (be it higher or lower than the preset). myself I’ve asked drivers to lower it to one zone when it was set for two and I’ve asked to increase it to two zones when for whatever reason it was set to one and i had intended (or did in the days of paystte) to cross the zone line.

    2. i believe on routes where a majority of people are going one zone the drivers will just leave it set that way the whole way. If someone WANTS a two zone fare that can be arranged.

      1. When I wrote this, I meant buses LEAVING DOWNTOWN.

        Quite a few 2-zone buses have stops within the first zone.

    3. Remember that you can set a fare zone default into your ORCA card. With the bus defaults set correctly, and the user defaults set correctly, it seems like it would be rare that a customer would need to request a zone fare change.

      1. Someone who can manage to navigate around orcacard.com? There must be a few people around the region that can manage that, difficult as it may be.

        Just set the buses that cross a fare boundary to two zone by default until they cross the fare boundary when they default to one zone. If a user doesn’t understand, and they tag for the larger fare, it’s on them to notice that they’re overcharged. If they don’t notice it’s more revenue. If they notice, the operator could suggest that they change their user default if they can figure it out.

      2. With our fantastically complicated fare system, you could live outside the Seattle zone with default set to 2 zones, come in on an ST bus ($2.50) and be headed for, say, Safeco Field. When you board the 101/150 in the tunnel, you need to ask the operator to switch to 1-zone or be charged an extra 50c. Such a great fare system.

        Lovely to see how it works tomorrow.

      3. The common case is going to be the commute. If the defaults work okay for those trips on most days, it minimizes the problem. Event service is always going to screw things up (just like traffic is screwed up on those days).

      4. the problem with these presets particularly the One zone preset is what if you need a higher zone fare?

      5. Those who get their Orca through their employer may not even know there is an orcacard.com. And that will include people who have epurses.

  5. Uptown is the Business District in Lower Queen Anne. You may work in Uptown but you would never say you live there. The Whole Uptown thing is Realtors trying to make a buck and the businesses trying to fit text in a limited space for signs and business cards as Metro is doing now.

  6. Will be very curious to see reports of how well or poorly operations worked in the first days of Busruption. I am traveling and so won’t be riding the bus (or even Link) until at least the end of the week…

    1. David, to where are you traveling?

      I was back East last week and… well… I have a mea culpa and a long story to tell you about a bassackwards policy change on the Green Line.

      I’ll save it for now…

      1. Actually Valley Transit is quite well run and useful for an agency of its size, and there are surprisingly thorough intercity connections for such a rural area.

      2. Good to know. I tend just to assume that small towns and rural areas have no transit. I should know better, having spent quite a bit of time in Port Townsend growing up.

  7. RapidRide D was failing hard last night.

    It was about 10pm and I was waiting at the stop at 3rd and Virginia with a number of other people, some of whom said they had been waiting for 15 minutes already. Another 15 minutes after that and a D Line comes, but switches its sign to “Test Coach” right as it passes the stop. A lot of people expressed their anger at this, a few of them talking on the phone about how this new RapidRide business isn’t working. About five minutes later another one came, but the sign said “To Terminal”, many of us hopped on anyway, apparently our coach was switching to dropoff only because of bunching. Needless to say tons of people at stops that we passed were throwing their hands up, yelling at the bus, running after us for blocks on end, etc.

    I’m betting a huge reason for the delays was traffic near the stadiums because of the game, but it sucks that on the first day of this new brand (from the perspective of people who don’t use the other two previous lines) it let so many people down. When people are expecting some great new service with 15 minute headways and what they get is a lack of information and the buses they’re waiting to catch come flying by after 30 minutes of waiting, it doesn’t do well for the image. That on top of the generally unspectacular ride I had earlier in the day (90 second loading times in downtown, no noticeable signal priority, getting stopped at the Ballard bridge for 10 minutes, etc) I’m hoping that they can pull this together and make a good impression with RapidRide.

    1. Unlike a regular Metro bus route, I thought RapidRide buses were not supposed to blank their signs and switch to drop-off only. I thought they were supposed to run the route no matter what, then if the follower catches its leader, it’s supposed to pass him.

  8. [Reposting my own experiences and observations from yesterday, from a prior thread:]

    My first-ever trip on the 40 made it from Ballard & Market to 3rd & Bell in all of 19 minutes. We sailed right by a backed-up Ballard bridge approach. Everyone on the bus paid by ORCA, and understood exactly where the bus went or were easily taught.

    RapidRide ate our dust.

    I wouldn’t count my chickens, though. Traffic was sparse along the route, and the lights were on our side. On most days, I’m sure the trip will be similar in length to the former 17, and perhaps worse when NSCC and Aurora bottlenecks and increased demand from being the sole service on 24th Ave NW come into play. Still, it will be nice to never fight the Nickerson overpass again.

    While running errands downtown, I popped my head into University Street station to refill my monthly pass, and wound up hopping a bus to Convention Place. PAYE did not prove to be a problem. It helped that every single person getting on my UW-bound bus had an ORCA. And it was expeditious for all to get let off the back at Convention Place (contrary to prior “one-door when PAYE” policies downtown).

    So, no RFApocalypse yet.

    The next time I needed a bus wasn’t until 6:30, at which point I was at Mercer and Queen Anne. And that’s when the day went downhill.

    By this point, OneBusAway was working… for every single route except RapidRide. The digital displays at the LQA “station” (which is big enough to protect perhaps 2.75 people from future rain and wind) told me only that the bus was coming “every 15 minutes”. Helpful! The ORCA readers, when not sheathed in regal velvet, displayed “out of order” warnings. Synecdoche!

    In the end, a bus came in only 9 or 10 minutes, but it was already quite full — at least 20 people standing, what a Seattleite might even describe as “packed”. I couldn’t help but be reminded that this service was originally supposed to be every 10 minutes, 7 days a week, and that the demand for real frequency actually exists.

    Although the driver tried to be generous with his gas pedal, the trip up 15th was infuriating. We had cash-fumblers and bike-loaders galore. We had lots of trouble pulling out into traffic, especially at Dravus. And best of all, we got passed by a 32! “Rapid” my ass.

    Oh, and nearly half the bus got off at Market and started walking west toward actual Ballard. Because that is the kind of place where people who use transit actually want to go!

    I wound up going out again later in the evening. While I was able to connect to RapidRide using 40s and 61s in both directions (by sheer luck), I was struck anew by just how unpleasant it is to wait in the dark, by a pile of manure, with literally no idea when the bus will come, and how offensive it is to be asked to walk significantly further to do just that.

    My later trip involved a broken “stop request” system — “Please come to the front so I know you want off” — among other little hilarities.

    Crucially, though my later trip also involved many fewer riders than I’m used to seeing on the evening 18s. Could it be that people in “sprawl Ballard” mostly commuted on the former 15, while people in “urban Ballard” used the 18 all the time (like I’ve been saying all along)?

    I also noticed an unusual amount of traffic and circling-for-parking in central Ballard last night. Could it be that people looked at the night schedules people, decided “fuck this”, and returned to their cars…?

    1. It sounds like Ballardites will tell each other to take the 40, which will prove to be faster than the D Line.

      Regardless, one systemic/cultural change I’d love to see at Metro is to allow *more* late night frequency in general on weekends. Have extra runs that are Friday only, and asterisked in the schedules. The demand exists, but Metro has operated as if adding runs on Friday requires adding them Monday through Thursday as well.

      If we can have extra runs on days UW is in class, having Friday-only runs is really straightforward.

      1. While I don’t disagree that demand-appropriate service levels on Friday and Saturday evenings would dwarf the rest of the week, the whole point of consolidated, high-quality trunk services is that they are supposed to work for you whether you need them at 7:30 AM on a Sunday or at 11:30 PM on a Tuesday.

        That is what Metro fails to get when it has key-to-the-network routes die at 10 or 11 at night. They are training the rest of society to do what they probably do themselves: drive at all but the busiest times.

    2. I rode a 24 today from Magnolia into downtown. When we went straight through Mercer St. along Elliot, bypassing the long queue of cars in the left-turn lane, I couldn’t help thinking how grateful I was to be on a 24 bus, rather than a RapidRide bus.

      Nevertheless, I wouldn’t blame the “unusual amount of traffic and circling-for-parking in central Ballard last night” on the RapidRide. The RapidRide bus goes to downtown, which makes it out of the way for anyone visiting Ballard from anywhere in North Seattle, besides the fact that you’d need a second bus to connect to it. The 44 is useful to people visiting Ballard, the D-line is really primarily about people living in Ballard. I highly doubt the outright elimination of the 15, let alone its replacement with the D-line would have any significant effect on the amount of circling for parking in downtown Ballard.

      1. But the 18 was “outright eliminated of the 15”.

        That’s how people who visited Ballard from north or south got to the part of Ballard they visited.

        And the replacement is hourly.

      2. But the 18 was “outright eliminated”.

        That’s how people who visited Ballard from north or south got to the part of Ballard they tended to visit.

        And the replacement is hourly.

      3. My other point was that riders along the 18 corridor (a.k.a. “urbanites”) are more likely to be the ones inclined toward leaving their cars at home as much as possible, whereas those in the sprawl surrounding 15th may be more inclined to drive for all but work/school commute trips.

        So I’m used to seeing decently-filled 18s in both directions, at night.

        But the replacement is hourly!!

      4. At night? Hourly!!

        And not even staggered with RapidRide, causing a significant net loss in total Ballard service frequency!

    3. A couple of comments. The 40 will give D a run for its money rider-wise and travel time-wise, but the D will prevail in both – not to criticize the 40, which will be a good route. Reasons:
      – D is close enough to the epicenter of Ballard for most riders, particularly when all the new housing going in around 15th is finished
      – 40 crosses the Fremont Bridge, which opens more often than Ballard because it is much closer to the water
      – D is more frequent and will be several minutes faster once the kinks are ironed out. Riders from near D will not walk to the 40 unless headed to SLU or Northgate; many riders near the 40 will walk to D if destined downtown because D is fancier and faster

      That said, D needs more priority and the fare collection system needs to be simplified.

      1. 1. People keep ballyhooing the, like, three buildings happening along Market near 15th. This pales not only in comparison to what already exists in central Ballard, but even in comparison to the single, gigantic new building happening on the NW corner of Market and 24th. The 15th corrodor still has a higher population overall, because it includes Crown Hill. But central Ballard is where the majority of the future demand for liveable density will remain.

        2. Ever get stuck in a 20-minute backup after the Fremont Bridge opens? I have at the Ballard Bridge. Exponentially higher traffic volumes on 15th render it by far the worse reliability-killer of the two. And RapidRide has precisely zero merge priority.

        3. Not faster. Really. It’s just not. I’m on a RapidRide bus at this very second and the driver is intentionally driving like a snail, either because his run card tells him so or because some dispatcher told him to stay 15 minutes behind some other slow-ass bus. Those dispatchers have the potential to make this thing even worse. Plus, we just missed an entire light cycle at Elliott & Mercer, so you can put to rest any hope that these buses have signal priority there. Elliott & Mercer is worse than 9th & Mercer most days.

        4. Not really more frequent, either. Not in the middays, or all day on Saturday. The only times it is more frequent are at rush hour, when you might take an express anyway, or in the early evening, when you might rather a scheduled service than walking + waiting ~15 minutes in the dark with no information. In the late evening they both suck terribly.

        Metro had failed to provide any significant incentive for choosing one over the other, which should be illustrative of just how bad their “flagship” line is. Only when the other is so terrible as to be unusuable does RapidRide seem appealing.

      2. 2. Ever get stuck in a 20-minute backup after the Fremont Bridge opens?


        I spent more than my share of time driving both the 15/18 and the 26/28. The 15/18 had far, far fewer bridge-related issues.

        When the bridge opens, Dexter can back up halfway down Queen Anne and Leary can back up past the end of downtown Fremont.

        The bridge is an advantage of RR D versus the 40.

      3. I think the hope here is that the D-line will get better with time as kinks get ironed out. Just because it isn’t getting any signal priority right now doesn’t necessarily mean it absolutely never will. When Link first opened, I noticed it stopping a lot more for red lights along MLK than it does today.

      4. Soundsd like d.p. lives near 24th and is a pork-barrel rider. D will also be much more frequent at night when the 40 goes down to hourly at like 10:00! Given, the 40 DESERVES more frequency, but ain’t got it, so D is the clear winner in that regard.

      5. What the duck is a “pork-barrel rider”?

        RapidRide drops to half-hourly itself.
        Less frequent + further walk = recipe for driving.

        Anyone who thinks a big red bus with crap frequency and crap reliability trumps all else is a ducking moron.

      6. …But I like how your argument remains “D will be faster and more frequent”, even when it is demonstrably never faster and rarely more frequent. And even on the rare occasions when it is more frequent, the frequency is never good enough that it will (or should) earn a larger walkshed than the 15 had.

        I get your ascription of the word “pork barrel”, though. You think I want a pet service, that I demand disproportionate attention to my local needs.

        Guess what, Bob? I don’t own a car. I live smack-dab in the center of one of only 4 urban neighborhoods this city has. I would walk a mile uphill both ways if it could get me to any transit that didn’t totally fucking suck. I’m the very definition of transit’s target audience.

        But the RapidRideExceptForAnyTimeYouActuallyNeedIt can suck it.

      7. The reality is, the speed of a local bus is inversely proportional to the number of people riding it. If everyone riding the D followed d.p’s advice and took the 40 instead, the 40 would simply become slower and the D-line faster until people start noticing it and switch back to the D-line again.

        Eventually, the result would be an equilibrium where the 40 and D-line get you between downtown and Ballard in almost exactly the same amount of time.

      8. Well, if only there were some way to mitigate the proportional relationship between demand and delay.

        Perhaps by adding features associated with “rapid transit” to a bus line, thus allowing everyone to board and exit in a matter of seconds. You could even treat it as a trunk line, and offer service that came frequently enough to consolidate multiple former routes while still ensuring it never slowed from overcrowding.

        You could even call this line “RapidRide” to highlight its rapidity and imperviousness to demand-induced delays.

        Yes, if only someone would come up with such an idea…
        […and so on and so forth and blahblahblahSeattleisboringmetodeath]

      9. The 40, in practical terms, went two opposite ways. In the daytime it’s more frequent, but after 10pm it’s less frequent. So DP’s noise is all about the three hours between 10am and 1am, and ignores the fact that eight blocks away there’s a D route running every 15 minutes until 11pm and half-hourly thereafter. People in most other neighborhoods could only wish they could walk 8 blocks to such a frequent late-evening route. It’s not happening on the 11 or 43 or 2 or 48, routes which have more or less comparable density to the 40.

      10. This would be comparable if the 43 were the only route on Capitol Hill after 10, or if the 2 were the only route on Queen Anne after 10.

        I’m sorry, but no “rapid transit” service to an entire quadrant of a city should drop to half-hourly ever — and even less so when it fails even to provide direct service to the major activity center in that quadrant.

  9. Does anyone know what the ridership on the sounder is projected to be when lakewood/s tacoma is supposed to be? The trains are getting pretty full in the valley

    1. The forecast result of the new Sounder service extension to Lakewood is for 1,700 new transit riders in 2030 as a result of the two station extension beyond Freighthouse Square. That’s the number in print from ST lately.

      Back in 1996 when the first Sound Transit taxes and the Sound Move Plan were voted in, the 2010 boarding forecast for Lakewood to Seattle commuter rail was stated as 10,200 to 14,000 per weekday. (See Table 16 in the 1996 Sound Move Plan posted at http://www.bettertransport.info/pitf/SoundTransit1996SoundMovePlan.pdf .)

      The new COP report on Sounder North issued last Thursday states weekday boardings for the South line without Lakewood and South Tacoma are at 9,280 as of 2011. So adding the 1,000+ bump up hoped for with the Lakewood extension plus growth on the rest of the line gets South Line ridership in the near future (say 2015) close to the forecast range for 2010 that was set in 1996. Hooray! Now lets see what happens.

      Sounder North is a whole different kettle of fish. It’s never reached half the ridership forecast for 2010 because BNSF put a lid on the number of North Line trains and blocked reverse peak direction trips like are offered on South Line. As we all know, BNSF northward from Seattle is a busy freight mainline.

      Current ridership is 1,100 per weekday. Back in 1996 the forecast for 2010 was the range 2,400 to 3,200 daily.

      Focused on low North Line ridership, the new COP report provided to the Board last Thursday is an interesting read, at http://www.bettertransport.info/pitf/120926-COPNorthShoreAlternativesTaskForceReport.pdf .

      My favorite quote from the COP gets at the bus-rail resource allocation trade off so central to transit system cost-effectiveness:

      “We do believe that the Board and the public should be aware of just how costly this [North Sounder] service is and what the implications are of continuing to allocate scarce resources to an underutilized service when the alternative express bus service is running overcrowded every day with standees in the aisles, at a much lower cost.”

      The COP study concludes “the status quo of low ridership and high costs on North Sounder is not acceptable.”

      Finally, somebody besides CETA and friends have spoken up on this little train that couldn’t.

      1. I like Sounder North. It reminds me of the Rock Island Lines.

        Remember, when in doubt, Route it Rock.

      2. A Richmond Beach station could be very helpful. Richmond Beach is not particularly well served by current transit, with the result that transit ridership there is low. The peak option to Seattle right now is the 304, which is significantly slower than Sounder would be. The 304 could be cancelled outright if Sounder North were to stop in Richmond Beach, and I think commuter ridership between North Beach and downtown would improve quite dramatically.

      3. If we are willing to take as given that we are going to continue to pay for Sounder North indefinitely, then yes, building the Richmond Beach station makes sense.

        However, north Sounder is obscenely expensive and when Link goes to Lynnwood, it’s never going to be competitive with Link, except for people that either live right next to a station or are making connections with a ferry.

        Even then, then cancellation of north Sounder could pay for non-stop shuttle buses between Edmonds, Mukikteo, and Everett stations and Lynnwood TC many times over.

        If we believe the north Sounder is a waste of money, it does not make sense to undergo capitol expenditures for what will ultimately become throw-away work when we decide to pull the plug on it.

        There are also real issues in letting Sounder replace the 304. The 304 stops at several places on the way between Richmond Beach and I-5. Get rid of the 304 and all of these people along the way lose their quick ride to downtown. In many cases, the next best alternative would easily take 2-3 times as long, so you would better believe it – if you tried to kill the 304, there would be a lot of fits and screaming.

        We should eventually be able to truncate the 304 to a future Link station in Shoreline. But until then, I think there’s no choice but for it to continue to exist in its current form.

      4. Well geography hasn’t favored North Sounder. Running along the shoreline means that there are only residents on one side of the route, so half the potential density. Plus the hillsides tend not to attract nearby density. It also only has 3 stations from which riders board.

        Have schedules been coordinated with WSF so as to make car-free commutes from Kingston and Clinton convenient?

        I would also think that a stop near the tunnel portal near Pike Place hillclimb would make service more convenient for people working in that part of town.

        On the whole, though, the North line wasn’t very conceived of designed. It’s not where you would have built a line based on where people lived.

      5. I would take whatever is being spent on North Sounder and turn it into a doubled schedule for South Sounder…like extra night and reverse commute service.

        South Sounder actually goes directly to the hearts of towns in the SeaTacOly corridor which is the fastest growing region of Washington State according to the 2010 census.

      6. Sounder North is a case where some transit fans agree with the anti-rail critics. It would make much more sense to cancel Sounder North now, replace it with express buses, and put the remaining money into accellerating the Lynnwood Extension and an Everett Extension. Sounder North — unlike Link — will never reach the bulk of south Snohomish’s population, will never be all-day, and will never generate much two-way ridership.

        However, ST’s policy is soundly in favor of continuing Sounder North, so it would take a complete reversal of the board’s position. The most effective way would be to start a citizens’ campaign asking for an end to Sounder North in ST3.

      7. The ST Citizen Oversight Panel actually just issued a report that was pretty critical of Sounder North.

    2. Great idea, more transit advocates should jummp on this, and make sure only transit projects that have immediate returns go forward.

      I’ll have to work on getting the North Cascades Highway closed, based on the same criteria.

      1. Wait until after it closes for the winter, then argue against reopening it in the spring because “no one uses it”.

      2. No one uses it now.
        At least statistically speaking.
        It wasn’t worth the money to build it, if we apply the same criteria we do to Sounder North today.

  10. Anybody know what happened with the 124’s routing? They took what was a pretty straight direct bus route through South Seattle and turned it into a serpentinous, wandering bus of aimlessness. Anybody have any idea why?

    1. Much of the aimlessness is due to the closure of the Airport Way South Viaduct, which should be over by the end of the year. The rest is due to the 124 taking over the coverage of Georgetown and Airport Way from the 131 (I think?), which now runs where the 124 used to go. I think the new arrangement in SODO is better overall, although I can understand how if you’re somewhere in the middle of the 124 and you just want to go downtown, this isn’t much comfort to you.

    2. To allow the 131/132, which now have 15-minute combined frequency, to serve the higher-demand 4th Ave S corridor rather than the lower-demand Airport Way corridor.

      Like Bruce says, it will get a lot less circuitous when the Airport Way bridge reopens.

    3. The 124 is used by those who pay cash to get from federal way to Seattle and don’t want orca cards. glad they make ot longer for these folks and glad to government Georgetown direct access to museum of flight.

    4. Speaking of Airport Way, what is the current status of the project? SDOT’s site is a month out of date. Is it progressing on schedule for the viaduct to be open around the new year?

      That will make 106 and 124 riders very happy.

      1. I complained to SDOT about the staleness of both that page, and the W Thomas project page, which is even more embarrassingly out of date, saying that bridge will open by mid-September [it ain’t open yet]. SDOT told me via email that Thomas would be early October, and the Argo Viaduct IIRC around New Year, although hard to pinpoint exactly, as the project has a way to go.

  11. So talk about feeling like an asshole.

    So today I went down to Sustainable Ballard. Decided to try out D so took Link to Westlake and then turned the corner to get on at the 3rd and Pike ‘Stop’. Why the heck is the stop at the one of the largest transit nodes IN THE STATE a ‘stop’ and not a ‘station’?!?! Check it out on the Map. Makes no sense. Not that it matters right now anyway, no off board fare payment in the near term. So yeah, the 30+ of us all shuffle single file through the front door. Thankfully only a handful of cash fumblers. Then it happened. Wheelchair. Guy tried to set it up himself but couldn’t. Then the driver came back. They fumbled around for about another 2 to 3 minutes but didn’t seem to make any progress. Both seemed utterly clueless. At this time I started having bad thoughts and mentally said something along the lines ‘f— dude, just give up and let the rest of us get to where we were going’. And then he did just that, forcefully telling the driver to unhook him now, and let him go, and then scooting himself off the bus…

    And I felt like a colossal dick for a good long time. :/ THANK’S METRO! Totally as ‘good as light rail!’ LOL

    1. You didn’t actually do it!

      It’s a “stop” right now because the off-board payment isn’t in place yet. Once the equipment is in place and working, it will become a “station.”

    2. I had close to the same experience Saturday. It took 2-3 minutes to load the one wheelchair rider with the driver’s help, and the rider complained vociferously the whole time. Didn’t like sitting backward, whoever designed it never rode a bus, etc.
      I don’t really know what the problem was, but hopefully this is just a learning curve thing.

      1. Wonderful. I thought the whole point of the sitting backward was so the wheelchair wouldn’t take 2-3 minutes to load.

      2. Well just for starters…

        Vancouver and other places with passive restraint have the “in the way” folding seat in the default “up” position. That means it will not be in the way and have to be raised, often with help, any time a disabled rider boards. Moreover, it will often be the last seat on the bus taken, reducing the chance that you will have to ask some lazy jerk repeatedly to move.

        Why RapidRide has its folding seat default to “down” and “taken” is beyond me.

    3. I take it passive restraint is not a feature on the CD Line.

      Maybe the guy was looking forward to trying the passive restraint system.

    4. Do you not have the Orion buses in Seattle?

      Also, on LINK, is there no restraining system for mobility?

  12. Does anyone know the story behind the “temporary route” of the D at the north end of the line? The map shows the route turning east on NW 85th off of 15th NW, then north on 8th NW to the terminal at NW 100th Place behind the QFC on Holman Rd. What is the point of this when it looks like there’s a perfectly good RR stop in place northbound on Holman Rd between 90th and 92nd.

    1. 7th Ave NW needs to be repaved to provide a way for buses to make the full terminal loop at Crown Hill; 8th has no connection to Holman. The pavement on 7th will not support the weight of buses, in addition to having no sidewalks and dumpsters from the neighboring store randomly rolling around on it.

      I’ve never bothered to ask how they managed to not even start that work in time for the service launch, just as I’ve never bothered to ask why they only started building the Uptown curb bulbs a week before launch, as I suspect the answers would only annoy me.

  13. One new change is that the Route 5 now goes through downtown, rather than on the Viaduct, a real plus for the Metro change over.

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