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This is an open thread.

97 Replies to “News Roundup: Not Armageddon”

  1. “Reports from the first day without a ride free area. Slower, but not armageddon.”

    So just what I was expecting. I really couldn’t believe some of the predictions I saw here.

    If NYC does it (yeah, yeah not exactly the same thing), Seattle can do it.

      1. As with most suburbs — which is what West Seattle (excepting Delridge) is in its heart of hearts — the primary transit interest is in commuting at rush hour.

        This is why the C, whose usage reflects significantly greater route consolidation at peak times than the D, is having greater capacity problems at those times.

        A high-capacity transit route cannot only be about peak usage, but it does need to be able to handle whatever peak usage might come its way. Nominal 10-minute headways are clearly inadequate to do so.

        On the other hand, I doubt you’ll find much mid-day or evening overcrowding*, even at the grossly substandard and inadvisable 15-minute headways.

        If anything, this reinforces the dearth of need or demand for all-day rail service to our quaint southwestern annex.

        *Note: 1 person having to stand ≠ “overcrowding”

      2. d.p., I was on the C Line on Wednesday at 5:15pm, and it was interesting to see people get on the bus at 2nd/Columbia then immediate walk right off because there were not any open seats (but only about 5 standees).

        Riders of the 120 don’t always get a seat, and the same is true for Ballard Expresses. Before this shakeup, did riders of certain West Seattle routes have empty seats consistently during the peaks?

      3. The 22, 55, 57, and 116 were consistently not full during the peaks. The 54, 54X, and 56X tended to have higher loads. (Not sure how the remaking of the 57 into a Highway 99 bus is affecting its loads.)

        Part of the reason West Seattleites were spoiled is because of the 5/54/55 and 15/18/21/22/56 through-routes, which put a lot of artic capacity into West Seattle that was actually needed to serve the north end.

      4. I take the reports of RapidRide buses passing by stops at face value. That said, one commenter at WestSeattleBlog complaining of having to wait another 12 minutes when a bus passed her by says more about the expectations of this set of commuters than it does about how well Metro is doing (or maybe it just says something about the unreasonable expectations of one commenter).

        I feel like I’m talking to a wall every time I bring up all the parking that is causing buses to get stuck in general traffic, and hear nothing but crickets in response. The West Seattle commuters are thinking entirely of adding more and more buses, not in terms of how to reduce travel time. And of course, the idea of standing on a bus is going over like a lead balloon with the western West Seattleites (while 120 riders, like those in other parts of town, have long since gotten used to it). We can’t just keep adding buses to eliminate standees, unless the 20-minute standing rule is being violated.

        Who else has been on the C Line during peak to report on whether the buses are packed, or merely SRO?

      5. I was on a C Thursday morning (departed 35th and Barton NB at 6:10a) and it had a pretty full aisle by the time we made our last West Seattle stop. And that is an early bus, before the real peak ramps up.

        I think one of the biggest problems over here this past week has been the spacing of the buses. The C/D seems to be having a big problem with bunching. I’ve noticed this downtown and in West Seattle.

        The 120 also seems to be having this problem, though I don’t know if this is a new phenomena. Yesterday afternoon, I saw two 120s bunched together SB in White Center and as I continued driving north on Delridge I saw two more back to back heading south.

        With bunching of course, you get some big gaps between buses and the stops fill with people so that first bus (and this week in WS, probably the second) get packed to the gills.

        Prior to the launch of the C, I know I’ve seen a number of buses leave downtown on the affected routes in the afternoon with aisles pretty full of people (~15-20 people). I don’t think the all customers of the C are really that unused to people standing, but I think the buses are getting full at earlier stops than before.

        Metro seems to have been caught flat footed at the number of people riding the C, which is a bit surprising to me. You’d think they’d have a better handle on this and after all, wasn’t this part of the point of the C? To jam more people on few buses, making the system more ‘productive’?

        In retrospect, Metro probably could have done a better job preparing their customers for this by making it one of their primary talking points. “Hey, we’re consolidating a bunch of routes which will put more people on fewer buses. This will make us more efficient with your tax dollars.”

  2. Little things can make such a big difference in pedestrian-unfriendly suburbs. Those green walkways inside parking lots that connect the building to the sidewalk outside are a great step. A very few parking lots around here have them, and I like them even when I drove my car to the parking lot.

  3. The 120 NB has been packed to capacity every morning since the restructure. I’ve been passed by full buses in North Delridge two times this week, compared to once in year previous (and that was during a snow storm). Any idea where all the new riders are coming from? It can’t all be Westwood Village, right?

    1. It could be. Especially now that at WW, you have a choice of the 120 or RR C and we’ve read how West Seattle residents feel about RR C.

      1. Comments on a bflog represent nothing but the viewpoints of the individuals posting there. Without going through every commendation and complaint to Metro, and knowing the typical complaint-to-commendation ratio, we really have no idea how the masses of West Seattleites really feel about RapidRide.

  4. Special for d.p.: Walking back to my office from lunch, I just saw an outbound 40 go by. Its sign said: “NORTHGATE / BALLARD.”

    1. Yes, I overheard a driver talking about it.

      Turns out the 40 has four headsign combinations — one in each direction with Fremont as the signed mid-point, one in each direction with Ballard as the signed midpoint. The driver is supposed to change the sign as soon as they hit 24th southbound / the Fremont Bridge northbound.

      Two problems with this: Firstly, drivers have to remember and also take the time to switch, which often they won’t. Secondly, the northbound fails to tell downtown riders that this is the bus — the ONLY bus — to the actual center of Ballard.

      1. For some reason, 40 foot coaches with OBS don’t make the transsign switch automatically, but 60 footers do.

      2. In fact, unlike with the 60 foot coaches, the DDU doesn’t connect to the transsign at all. All route codes have to be entered manually. Not sure why this is, as it’s the same OBS system AFAIK on both types of bus.

      3. The Luminator sign controllers on the D60s are a newer model than those on the Gilligs. I’m surprised the difference is big enough to prevent the older ones from operating with the OBS system, though…

      4. It’s not the Luminator controller. Metro decided it would be a waste of money to connect the signs to OBS because the Gillig coaches are due to be retired within a couple years.

      5. Last I checked, the 44, 29, and some new circulator route also went the the center of Downtown Ballard, and the D Line went a stone’s throw away.

      6. Last I checked, the 44 went in a totally different direction, the 29 operated three hours a day, the circulator route went in a pointless circle, and the D line was 1/2 mile away, with no BRT features, low frequency, no real-time, and not showing on OneBusAway.

        Why is it that riders on 19th Ave E, on 6th Ave W, and on Seneca and Union are allowed to freak out about being asked to walk a freaking quarter of a mile, and LQA can’t live without its 2/5 mile deviation, but when the trunk line to Ballard misses it’s mark by an entire half mile it is “a stone’s throw away”?

    1. Hotttt. Metro had a grant a while back to get an all-electric bus to run out of South Base. I’ll find out what happened with that.

    2. It’ll be awhile before one of these can range 400 miles and then be ready for another full day of ops 4 hours later. Neat concept, though, and testing it in limited service can only be good.

      1. I like the idea of pantograph charging stations which I’ve seen (at every stop) on some Chinese ultracapacitor buses. One could modify that idea a little: if your cycle gives you 15 minutes layover and partial charging is fast, you could just have a charging station at the layover and make it last a day. This has the potential to bring electric traction for routes that aren’t ever going to justify the investment of rail, and aren’t worth the cost of trolleybus infrastructure; I think that’s really exciting.

      2. Yeah, having electric buses that are intermittently charged sounds like a good idea, and it is in principle, but there are some technical challenges. Here’s a few things to consider:

        1. Batteries don’t like being charged quickly. Batteries that are charged at a high “C-rate” (the fraction of the battery charged per hour) do not last nearly as long. A C-Rate of 0.25 (four hours to fully charge) is acceptable, but lower is better.

        2. Any kind of energy storage is less efficient than no energy storage. ETBs are basically ideal in this sense, because the electricity goes from the power plant to the wheels without being stored.

        3. By conservation of energy, and kind of fast charging system requires a large amount of energy to be transferred in a short time. If a bus is operating for twenty hours, and then needs to be recharged in four, the electrical wires supplying the the charging station must be rated for five times as much power as the bus consumes in operation, on average. You’re basically asking Seattle City Light to supply all of the energy the bus would need for a whole day just during the few hours the bus is offline at night. That could be tricky.

        4. Ultracapacitors are not nearly as mature technologically as batteries, which means they might have lots of room for improvements, but are more risky to implement. Remember that whenever you store a large amount of energy in a small space, releasing that energy unintentionally can be dangerous. Capacitors do not fail gracefully.

        I am, however optimistic about battery electric buses as a way of extending or filling in gaps in ETB service. Ideally, however, I would have ETBs everywhere.

      3. Batteries *can*, however, be used to allow ETBs to pass obstacles and go through corners without putting up trolley wire junctions, which are finicky and expensive. This is now proven tech.

      1. I was just in Lithuania’s capital city Vilnius and they have had electric busses for ever. It’s awesome to se busses that don’t spew massive amounts of smoke.

  5. All I know is every trip I take is taking a total of twice as long. U Dist to Lower Queen Anne. U Dist to Freelard. U Dist to Fremont.

    And the amount of walking to catch a bus, and the number of bus lines to get anywhere is also double.

    Epic Fail.

    1. Seriously. I live in the real center of Ballard (which is on 24th, not on 15th). I work on the other side of the Ballard Bridge. My commute used to be a scheduled 10-minute door-to-door trip on the 18.

      Now, I am saddled with a transfer penalty of up to 15 minutes—longer than my entire commute used to take!

      I’d be happy to sacrifice door-to-door service on the 18 for the 40 to Fremont if the cost weren’t so high. I’d even take a slight transfer penalty and a slightly longer commute time.

      But at headways of less than 5 minutes, RapidRide D ceases to be functional.

      Why does Metro hate Ballard?

      1. Kyle, they SAID it was “so frequent you don’t need a schedule!”

        Not their fault if you don’t accept the power of Magical Thinking.

      2. I’m not sure it’s constructive to suggest Metro “hates Ballard”. As far as route structure goes, planners traded off one direct connection for another that they believed was more useful in the aggregate. The inadequate frequency and capital investment on RapidRide C & D is indeed egregious, and was dictated by lack of funds and Metro management’s desire to deliver something called “RapidRide”, regardless of quality.

      3. Notice how, on the photo of the bus in this post, RapidRide D is cut off- not entirely there. Seems appropriate.

      4. I’m not sure it’s constructive to give Metro the slightest benefit of the doubt, or to trust them to do anything correctly without a heavy dose of political persuasion and a targeted media shaming.

      5. Bruce, they listened to Magnolia residents instead of Ballard residents and caved to the demands that created the preposterous Route 61.

        They killed anything resembling a usable transfer to RapidRide, cutting off thousands of central Ballard residents, including the thousands who live in apartments built in the last two years, and the thousand who will be living in the new building at 24th and Market.

        All while knowing they lacked sufficient funds to properly implement BRT.

        They are moving the stop at 15th and Market back to the other side of the street, and think it’s perfectly okay to abandon realtime arrival information—a key promised feature of RapidRide!—for an entire year in preparation for a move that shouldn’t be made in the first place.

        The stop at Leary and 15th, in addition to smelling like dirt and horseshit, since that is quite literally the goods sold by the adjacent business, is also lacking in realtime information!

        Metro set themselves up for failure; don’t admonish me for calling them out on it.

      6. Funny how many detractors of the inefficiencies of the one seat ride seem to have gone silent on STB.

      7. Beavis, like I said, I’d be more than willing to transfer if the transfer was reliable and dependable. After all, I now have better service to Northgate and to Fremont than I did before.

        But because RapidRide lacks a schedule without coming anywhere near “don’t need a schedule” frequency, I cannot help but be immensely frustrated as my 2-mile commute stretches from 10 minutes to 35.

      8. I agree with most of your comment, but I’m, not sure claiming they “hate Ballard” really advances your point.

      9. The decision between 24th and 15th was made back in 2009 and included broad community support.

        Here’s a quote from the Ballard-Uptown RapidRide Advisory Panel:

        To provide quick access to a majority of residents in Ballard and Interbay, the 15th Avenue NW corridor is the preferred option.

        Nearly all panel members support or could live with RapidRide located on the 15th Avenue NW corridor, for the following reasons:

        -It’s the most direct route and a straight alignment heading downtown.
        -It features a higher degree of safety and lights that accommodate pedestrians.
        -Routing RapidRide on 15th Avenue NW keeps 24th Avenue NW safer for bicycles.
        -Signal prioritization will allow buses to travel faster.
        -Most survey respondents residing in all parts of Ballard selected the 15th Avenue NW option.
        -It serves Ballard High School.
        -It supports development along the 15th Avenue NW corridor.

        A few people had concerns about the 15th Avenue NW alignment, including:

        -The 15th Avenue NW corridor is approximately a half mile from the retail/banking/entertainment core of Ballard.
        -Residents from the west may have to transfer buses.
        -The alternative corridor, 24th Avenue NW, must not be left without adequate bus service.

      10. AndrewN, I’m not disagreeing with the choice of 15th for RapidRide. Sending the bus into the quagmire of Market Street rush hour traffic just to turn around and hike back up to 15th to complete its route would be only slightly stupider than sending it on a slow detour through Lower Queen Anne—oops!

        15th is the proper corridor for RapidRide. The problem isn’t the corridor selection, it’s that RapidRide fails to deliver the level of service required to make it a usable trunk.

      11. The decision was made back in 2009 and included broad community support.

        Exactly. Back when it was going to be every 10 minutes 6 days per week until at least 7, and every 15 minutes until at least midnight. Back when off-board payment was going to be ubiquitous, and trip times would be guaranteed to “be faster than the current expresses”. Back before it was through-routed over the reliability-killing viaduct.

        I certainly supported it as a high-quality trunk back then, even if it meant a longer walk.

        I’ve seen the implementation. The results are not worth the longer walk.

        [15th] features a higher degree of safety and lights that accommodate pedestrians.

        They’re kidding, right? They must be kidding. This is the panel, kidding.

        Signal prioritization will allow buses to travel faster.

        Mmmm… hmmm…

        The alternative corridor, 24th Avenue NW, must not be left without adequate bus service.

        News flash: half-hourly after 6, hourly by the middle evening is not adequate!

        The problem isn’t the corridor selection, it’s that RapidRide fails to deliver the level of service required to make it a usable trunk.

        Exactly!

    2. I feel kind of bad about this but I too think that this process hasn’t been the best. My commute used to be 25 min or so. Now, it’s 45 min. What irks me is that I live on Cap Hill, I work downtown, and I don’t drive all that much but somehow, the city is punishing me for that.

      I know, I know. This is all on the emotional level. My brain tells me that the reason the 14 changed was to reduce delays on 3rd, the KC council had to do something to get the $20 CRC passed resulting in the elimination of the RFA, and that, sadly, none of this could wait until the Cap Hill station is completed and operational.

      Well, I am giving myself a week of complaining and then just accept it.

      1. If your commute is 45 minutes and you live along the 14 route, you’re on par with walking. I’m sorry.

      2. Summit is so near and yet surprisingly far from downtown. It takes 20 minutes to walk from Thomas to Westlake station. I turned down an apartment on Summit & Roy because it would be a 30 minute walk to Convention Place or Westlake. And why would I walk? Because the 47 (then 14) is half-hourly, and at various times the evening frequency has gone down to 45 or 60 minutes, and now it’s cut off entirely at 10pm. (Like Magnolia, hmm.) Even though it’s the second-highest density part of Seattle after First Hill. Yes, there are more-frequent routes nearby, but at the same time, Summit is the poster-child for the density we want to encourage. It’s just in an unfortunate location that’s close but yet not so close.

      3. As I wrote in a prior thread, I’ve already explained to a number of 10/11/14 riders that their “home” routes are likely to get much more reliable in the outbound direction as a result of the live-looping, and argued that in some ways these routes represent the only successful part of the restructure.

        But it’s hard to argue with their (and your) complaints about the inefficacy of their new downtown transfer. The tunnel is a terribly inconvenient option. 3rd Ave is atrociously unreliable. As you’ve experienced, an additional 20 minutes just to hop one extra bus a few stops is now commonplace.

        Metro needs to address the severity of its transfer penalty, by adopting a no-nonsense approach to dwell times: no lingering for dumb questions, no driver changeovers downtown, no high-floor buses on any core routes, and perhaps reversing the “load bikes anywhere” policy. Unfortunately, since Metro doesn’t give a shit…

      4. Here’s an idea: put the 2/12 restructure back in place, then move the 47 to Seneca. Don’t know how you get from Bellevue to Seneca, but I bet that justifies higher frequencies for the route, though probably not 15 minutes.

  6. And don’t even get me started on overcrowded bus lines that partially work, like the 44 or 32.

    1. The 44 didn’t change in the restructure. The whole reason the 32 is there is because the 30 it replaced didn’t work, because it got chronically stuck in the Mercer Mess at PM peak times.

    2. If anything the 44 works better (i.e., more reliabile) since the new bus lane openened on Midvale Pl.

  7. In Magnolia night service news… did they sneak another trip back on the 33? I seem to remember service after 9:30 was supposed to be cut, but there’s now a 10:03 departure from Yesler to Magnolia and a 10:36 from Magnolia to downtown on the online schedule.

    Can someone confirm this is a bus that actually exists before I commit to possibly waiting at the stop for it? If it doesn’t… well, OK, it’s just slightly more walking, but it’d save me the extremely hilly half of the bridge walk tonight.

    1. It’s in the weekday runcuts… the last pair of trips on 27/2R. I think that’s a pretty good sign it will show up.

      1. Well, we’ll see how that works. I have no idea if I’ll be in a position to catch it – my main experiment tonight is whether RapidRide will night-stop me to the base of the bridge where the old 15 stop was.

        Unfortunately, people aren’t going to use it if they don’t know about it, and I think most regular riders were reasonably well informed about the 9:30 thing. Among other things it was handwritten on most of the service change signs downtown by a helpful/upset individual. And people who were heavily affected were planning based on the stated cuts.

      2. When Metro gives times (like “9:30”) in a narrative they are always approximate, sometimes to a rather surprising degree. I do hope people actually checked out the schedules before making their plans.

      3. So far as I can tell my confusion relates to the fact that they proposed cutting the last trip of the 33 along with all the 24 late trips, decided not to at some later point, and then didn’t communicate about deciding not to in any venue I was aware of. Potentially actual 33 riders were better informed – the dude who scribbled on all the downtown bus change notices was not.

        It’s good that people can at least get up the hill if they’re at their Seattle stop by 10. Didn’t catch it tonight – I was actually too early. It only cuts out about a third of a mile of walking for me so not worth waiting. I did get my D night stop.

  8. Is there an arrangement in the Seattle area similar to the Silicon Valley, where large corporations (ie: Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon.com, etc.) run their own employee shuttles?

    1. Microsoft has the Connector, which has grown huge. Amazon doesn’t need that type of service as much, being located (essentially) downtown.

      1. Amazon’s shuttles are primarily inter-building but they serve Sounder and Westlake in their loop. Microsoft seems to run mostly commuters, but they have at least one all-day shuttle between SLU and Overlake. Boeing pays for custom Metro routes to get commuters to some of its facilities (although anyone can board them), but it doesn’t seem anything like as extensive as Microsoft’s. UWMC and Children’s do run a few crosstown shuttles. Locally, Google does not.

      1. The Columbia City – Mt Baker shuttle takes a left just before the much maligned Mt Baker transit center – then drives a half mile into the hills.

        Really frustrating. No plans to put a stop anywhere near a LINK station.

        Not useful by design.
        Would like to know if whether Metro or ST nixed a better plan.

      2. Aren’t the shuttles meant to take people from their home neighborhoods? If so, it doesn’t matter if they’re Link stations because they won’t be taking Link. If people are taking Link from elsewhere to a shuttle stop, is there no other station they can transfer at?

      3. Mike,

        There are no shuttle stops near Link stations.
        Nor are there any shuttle stops in my neighborhood (Beacon Hill).

      4. So the issue is to get Microsoft to have a shuttle from a Link station, not necessarily Mt Baker.

    2. The comment (in the article) that the shuttles are elitist transit really hit home, because temp workers and service contractors don’t get to take the Microsoft shuttles. It takes away from demand that would improve connections for all workers. It’s even worse now that 520 is tolled, which has been a real hardship for my family since there is really no alternative currently. Companies can invest in transit by providing passes to workers instead.

  9. Seattle really has nothing on Silicon Valley when it comes to the anti-density crowd. A family member had a transplant at Stanford, and couldn’t find a furnished apartment for less than $3k a month (she had to be close to the hospital for 3 months). Friends of mine transferred down to Apple and are house hunting – the $2M bungalows they found are small and rundown. The tallest structure in miles is a 3-story parking garage.

    Imagine an alternate universe where Silicon Valley embraced density and planned for growth. They’d be their own San Francisco by now.

    1. I wrote earlier about a friend who was offered a (non-dotcom) job in San Francisco and turned it down because he’d have to pay $2500+ rent for a closet even as far away as Hayward. He took a job with another branch of the same organization in Sacramento, where he could get a large apartment in the city for a reasonable price, and still go to San Francisco once or twice a month for fun.

      1. San Francisco has an anti-upzone problem too, but they started out in a much different place than Palo Alto. Keep in mind SF has made room for 805,000 people in their 47 sq mile space, whereas Palo Alto only has room for 64k in their 24 square miles which even includes much of Stanford University. When you employ 98,000 people but only allow housing for 64,000 (some of them children, elderly, university students, and other groups that don’t work), something has to give.

        City-data.com tells me that the median rent in SF was $1,363 in 2009, and $1,675 in Palo Alto for the same time period. Sounds low for both, but median home prices are roughly the same ratio ($752k v. $917k). They don’t look amazing, but there are certainly apartments larger than closets in SF for less than $2k.

    2. It’s the old entrenched interests problem. Current homeowners in the Valley sure don’t mind if their crappy bungalow is suddenly worth $2 million. We see this in Seattle too, just in less extreme form. The narrow interests of the current residents trump those of new residents that want to come in and boost the overall local economy.

      1. As is pointed out in the Human Transit post, the real problem is that the Silicon Valley firms put up with it instead of relocating to San Francisco. Some, like Apple, outright embrace it.

      2. The people running those Silicon Valley powerhouses already have homes there and, for the most part, have for a long time. As do most of the highest-value people they are trying to recruit. They have very little incentive to upend the current order.

        I’m a fan of Apple products, but they are the most retrograde of the bunch in this respect. And it’s finally showing through in the products with iOS 6 Maps, which prioritized a whiz-bang but useless 3D feature over basic transit directions.

    3. There are lots of things we rightfully complain about in Seattle.

      But our suburbs aren’t that bad as suburbs go. I wasn’t exactly psyched when my job got moved to Kirkland (from Seattle), but I’ve lived in Teh Valley, and if my job got moved there I’d quit instantly without a second thought. Even if my employer had an amazing network of shuttles from San Francisco.

      1. Today I left work early to grab some riding in the afternoon sun.

        I rode down Kent East Hill and got on the Interurban trail and leisurely rode to the south end, Algona and back.

        Then I stopped off at Kent Station and had a wine sampler of blends called “Red Flight” at Reds Wine Bar. I sat outside, red, enjoyed more sunshine, French Onion soup. ( http://pics.lockerz.com/s/250575087 )

        The place had plenty of people, students from GRCC extension, commuters from Sounder.

        At the end, I threw my bike on the 168, used the ORCA card I always carry and got up the Hill and then rode the rest of the way home.

        Tell me.

        What “urban” thing am I missing?

        I think all the talk about super density and super urbanism and Seattle-centrism is making people miss the really good things that are happening in the exurbs…which I believe are “right sizing”. Building some density, and having better transit, but also keeping their basic natural areas like bike trails and mixed garden apartment and SFH zoning.

      2. Try using your ORCA to go from Kent East Hill to a show on Capitol Hill in the evening and getting home with that ORCA around 1:30am. That “Urban”thing.

      3. The point being, for all those with less than elementary school reading comprehension levels…I don’t always have to go downtown to see a show.

      4. Bailoman does have it right about bicycling. A bicycle provides a middle level between walking and transit. Walking won’t get you very far in the suburbs, and transit can’t be as frequent as the city because of low density. If Pugetopolans ever get as bicycle-oriented as The Netherlands, it would make the smaller cities much more viable places to live, and perhaps “urbanize” them in its own way.

        But still, walking is the only mode that’s built into humans. So it does matter what the walk circle is around your house, workplace, and transit stations. Suburbs have little in their walk circles; that’s the problem. And the large parking lots and wide streets exacerbate it. We could build small cities that are walkable, or at least have several walkable nodes and frequent transit between them. In fact, that was predominant a century ago. Even Bailo has cited small cities with real town centers as an ideal. There’s gotta be something besides farms and isolated Wal-Marts, right?

        To cite the overused example of Capitol Hill, in a 20-minute walk I can reach three supermarkets (2 different companies); three specialty grocery stores (a co-op, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods); tons of bars and clubs; a community college; a library; two gyms and several specialty gyms; fifty thousand potential friends, colleagues, and people with common interests; a multimodal transit station and a future Link station; four movie theaters and one specialty movie theater (Northwest Film Forum); several department stores, office buildings I could work in, and doctors/dentists. I see neighbors and pedestrians on the sidewalk at all hours, and that makes me happy. In short, everything to sustain life and a lot more is within walking distance. And when I want to go somewhere outside the area, transit is more frequent and more 24-hour than it will ever be in the suburbs.

        A 20-minute walk from East Hill would only get you halfway to Kent Station. You live next to a shopping center, so there is that. A 20-minute bike ride is a bigger circle, so that would include Kent Station (ignoring the uphill back). But not Southcenter.

        The main problem with the suburbs is their large scale, their automobile scale.

      5. I guess my view is that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. As far as daily supplies, I can walk (up to 1/2 mile)to a major grocery, a whole foods grocery, a target and Ross, a Home Depot and about 30 different eateries and coffee places.

        The next leap would be to the library on my bike or Kent Station and Covington. Beyond that there is bus service and then my car.

        When I was growing up in Queens, everyone had a car…but most of the time they sat in the drive way. My Dad put on less than 5,000 miles a year because he took the subway to work. We walked to the grocery, to church, and kept the car for bad weather, family visits and annual vacations.

      6. As I’ve pointed out before, your own lifestyle is more urban than your rhetoric. You talk about the wonders of single-family neighborhoods in small cities like Chehailis, and rural and semi-rural houses, and the wonderful mass of humanity in Southcenter and its parking lot. Yet you live in an apartment that you apparently like, purposely located next to a shopping center and the convergence of three bus routes. Essentially, you live in the second-most urban part of Kent, which is itself the “capital” of southeast King County. It’s a lot more urban than where I grew up east of Crossroads, in a purely single-family neighborhood, with one hourly bus, and a mile from two shopping centers.

        “When I was growing up in Queens, everyone had a car…but most of the time they sat in the drive way. My Dad put on less than 5,000 miles a year because he took the subway to work. We walked to the grocery, to church, and kept the car for bad weather, family visits and annual vacations.”

        Yes, that’s the goal! Everything essential is walkable, including schools, and a frequent subway is available for everything else.

        If we built up all suburban neighborhoods like 104th, it would be a step in the right direction. Not as urban as I would like, and still too many large parking lots, but at least you can do some things without a car. The problem is more in the single-family areas of Kent, and Kent-Meridian high school which is automobile scaled, far from its students, and not designed for a frequent Metro stop at its front door.

        Interesting, 104th and 256th SE has a walkscore of “75: very walkable”. The house I grew up in is “37: car-dependent”. A random address in northeast Kent (21800 116th Ave SE) is “40: car-dependent”.

  10. Why am I still hearing the two most infernal words in the English language? Why on Earth would drivers not open the back door every single time the bell is rung and the stop isn’t crowded when people are explicitly supposed to leave out the back door whenever reasonable?

    1. Part of it, especially outside the CBD, is simple force of habit taking its time to die out.

  11. Now this is the 21st Century…a bike you rent with your phone!!

    SoBi has built a GPS-enabled bike that you can find and unlock using your mobile phone. These bikes will be used to create an affordable and scalable bike share system that makes cycling more accessible and interactive.

    http://socialbicycles.com/

  12. Slower service and buses that go nowhere. Our convenient and busy buses are now mostly empty buses. The 61 that replaces the 17 is the most useless bus–it’s bad enough that we now have to transfer at least once to get downtown and add 30 minutes to the commute, but the silver lining for some was that at least it met up to the 28 and went to Fred Meyer. However, although the bus goes there–it doesn’t STOP there!! Metro seems to think that empty buses that drive around and don’t pick up or drop off passengers save money. Very odd. It’s kind of a sadistic system that passes up potential passengers. I guess the theory must be that people will walk long distances in the dark and the rain carrying groceries to get to a bus stop while the buses pass them by. From what I’ve seen so far the buses are now less than half full, so riders don’t seem to be willing to put up with so much inconvenience and are driving instead. I’m concerned that Metro will claim that the low ridership on these reconfigured routes will be an excuse to delete service in our neighborhood completely. They also got rid of the 46 which was usually standing room only when I rode it from UW–Metro claimed it was eliminated due to low ridership.

    1. Why should the 61 remain when the 40 is eight blocks away? The 61 is what’s preventing the 40 from being frequent in the evenings. I don’t know about the missing Fred Meyer stop but other people have mentioned it too so perhaps you can all convince Metro to add it. Fred Meyer is the kind of thing that buses exist for.

    2. I suggest that the only reason the 61 exists is as a placeholder until Metro can either link it with the 24 (as originally proposed for the restructure) or with something going east. (East could be either the tail of the 26 or additional service on the 31/32 corridor from Fremont to UW which would provide some relief for the 44.)

      1. As I’ve suggested previously, they should extend the 48’s tail to Ballard and Market, laying over in the old 75 stop on Leary. Then we can kill the 61 and restore frequency to the evening 40.

        That still doesn’t address the North Beach Loop, though.

    3. However, although the bus goes there–it doesn’t STOP there!! Metro seems to think that empty buses that drive around and don’t pick up or drop off passengers save money. Very odd.

      Totally made my day.

      As pissed off as I am at Metro’s monumental incompetence, at least it’s capable of inspiring some righteous satire!

    4. The 61 will be short-lived. Its walkshed is no more than 4-5 blocks wide, and probably less than that, given the 40’s superior frequency. Most riders will get used to making that flat (for most of upper Ballard) walk to the 40, in the direction headed toward where they are actually going, instead of walking to an infrequent, non-connected bus, in a direction away from where they are going. Outside of some isolated spots, there is no market for the 61. This is not to say that Metro “hates” those isolated spots. It is just that the collection of those isolated spots does not add up to any serious ridership, even when the route did go downtown.

      In transit geek parlance, the 61 is a “political route”, just like the 42.

      Mike is right: The rider of the 61 will learn to love the increased frequency on the 40 once the 61’s hours are rolled into it.

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