148 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: “The Sound””

  1. When you go to Youtube to watch The Sound, then look at the comments, you realize that many people have no idea this is a train safety video, they just think it’s a really bad song by a group they like.

      1. True, but these are the kinds of people that Sound Transit wanted to reach: Younger people. And if these commenters, who are fans of Blue Scholars, are confused by the song and video, and think it’s just a really lame song by a group they like, then the PSA wasn’t effective.

      2. Conflating YouTube commenters with “younger people” is an insult to pretty much all normal, sane younger people.

      3. I really like that Seattle has given birth to an unexpectedly successful Filipino-Iranian hip-hop group.

        I just wish their music was… better.

    1. David, I can understand you wanting to work the word “conflating” into one of your comments after seeing Chad use it earlier. It’s a cool word that makes the user of it sound smart. However, it doesn’t make you sound so smart when you use it wrong.

      1. Sam, that was a fairly inappropriate comment, especially since David used that word 100% correctly.

  2. The last several posts have been thought provoking for me.
    Asking questions about efficient delivery of service, offering free parking to attract riders or ridership trends in general all can be viewed in the bigger picture over time, say the last 10 years.
    King County grew about 10% to 1.9 mil. people
    Transit riders for Metro grew by 12% to 114 mil (incl access + vanpool thru 2010)
    So thats good, right? Transit is outpacing population growth – just barely.
    Now, throw in Sound Transit as a player in the last 10 years, carrying riders on bus and rail.
    Now transit is up 33% overall and much more than population growth. Again, Kudos.
    Before we throw a big transit party, we have to look at expenses to achieve these gains. (Note: FTA reports unlinked trips, so there’s some double counting in there)
    Both Metro and ST combined had operating budgets (inflation adjusted) that rose from $429 mil to $853 mil, or double.
    So it cost us twice as much to gain 1/3 more. Hmmm. I inflated the beginning numbers, so that’s not it. Yeah fuel is up, but that doesn’t explain most of it away.
    The next post was Bellevue, where we seem to spend gallons of ink speculating over walking 100 to 200 feet to BTC in our quest to save some chump change for the city to get their tunnel ($60 mil). In the same breadth, the Director of ST is telling the PSRC that revenue is short by nearly $5 Billion through 2023 over what they expected just a few years ago. Where’s all the ink on a problem that’s 100 times bigger?
    Costs are skyrocketing and income is plummeting.
    Any Econ 101 grads want to chime in and tell us where we are going?

    1. Are you conflating King County data with multi-county data? ST serves riders and has operational expenses in 3 counties. CT, PT and ET also serve riders and have opearation expenses in those same 3 counties.

      1. You could mine the numbers for CT,PT but the outcome is about the same – rising costs relative to inflation and population growth and sinking revenues.

      2. PT went from 14.5 to 15.9 M annual trips and expenses went from $63 to $118 over 10 years.
        CT went from 8 to 10 M. annual trips and expenses rose from $56 to $106.
        Population growth was about the same as King Co. or 15% over 10 years.
        It’s a similar story.

    2. We are going to a future where a large chunk of the population has access to the kind of fast, reliable, frequent service that only a subway type system can give.

      How long it will take us to get there is the only question, and that is really only a question of the populations need for it and their willingness to pay for it. Yes, taxes are down, but the people in this area aren’t morons, I’m pretty sure they can see that for themselves so if some of the ST2 projects have to be rolled into ST3 I don’t think it will be a deal breaker. Especially when you point out that for projects within the last decade ST has been under budget and ahead of schedule every single time. Not their fault the economy drove off a cliff.

      1. No. We are heading into a future where a painfully small percentage of the people have “access to the kind of fast, reliable, frequent service that only a subway type system can give”.

        Even by Sound Transit’s insanely inflated estimates, their future completed system will carry less than the equivalent of 1/3 of the population of Seattle or 1/10 of the population of the service area in “riders” (which are actually one-way trips, and need to be divided again by two, for 1/6 and 1/20 population equivalents).

        Hardly a “large chunk”. And the estimates from Lynnwood and elsewhere that contribute to those totals are basically bald-faced lies, so really it’s less than that.

        These is what happens when even your friendly local transit advocates spend their time defending doing everything wrong.

      2. Some ST2 projects have already effectively been rolled into ST3: 272nd station, and I think a Redmond station. To give DP some hope, the voters could in ST3 conceivably cancel the 272nd station and the Lynnwood Extension. Then you’d have to ask, “

      3. DP, take a deep breath, calm down, and reread my post. I made it very clear I don’t consider ST2 to be the end of our journey, notice the part where I talk about ST3? We are moving in the right direction, but we still have further to go (thus the word ‘heading’ and not ‘arrived’).

      4. Um, no. At the rate we’re going, ST3 will be all about doubling down on our previous mistakes. 10-minute service to Everett, Tacoma, and Renton! Commuter/sprawl heaven! Walkshed of nobody!

        Oh, right. You still think that Fearless Leader can convince Seattle voters to “go it alone” on a system that “must” include billions in new downtown tunnels! Even though forces that don’t get urban transit (or don’t care) are working hard to undermine him and give us useless toy trolleys instead!

      5. DP, when you have a moment, go read up on this policy ST has called ‘subarea equity’, then checkout what Seattle Subway is about then come back and post a reasoned response.

        ST3 WILL include Seattle projects. Seattle Subway is NOT about going it alone.

        You know this. Stop lying.

      6. I didn’t realize my comment got cut off. If ST3 did cancel the Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, and 272nd stations, the next question would be, “What would they do with all the money they save?” Answers with more service hours are preferred over answers with tax cuts.

      7. Well, Matthew, it’s super-awesome that Seattle Subway has helped forge an ST-SDOT alliance that will allow them to express “subarea equity” in the form of stupid-ass streetcars.

      8. It’s too soon to say that ST won’t do an alternatives analysis or that it won’t include a “real” subway alternative with a cost estimate.

    3. Basically, this would be a continuation of the discussion at last week’s post.

      One of the basic things I don’t understand about cost overruns is how starting up a segment faster and getting it done faster saves money (except for the wierdnesses of interest rate shifts). If, for example, Lynnwood wants more time to mull over how Link’s route should look through Lynnwood, and we don’t start throwing money into engineering, could that not save a bundle on long-term debt financing? I honestly don’t know if getting Link out to Lynnwood will do that much for Link ridership compared to having an armada of buses from Snohomish County terminate at Northgate. The timeline between finishing Northgate Station and finishing Lynnwood Station seems overly optimistic considering the change orders Lynnwood is already telegraphing. Could ST slowing its roll in Lynnwood save hundreds of millions? Or does the continued large commuter operating costs for CT wipe out any potential savings ST would gain?

      Metro has made a major investment in their role in the ORCA card rollout, and then proceeded to slow its roll in getting riders to use ORCA. Given that the contract is for 10 years, and almost four of them are behind us, I’m wondering if Metro has had a change of heart. Yes, there was a mini-rush of new ORCA purchasers a couple weeks ago, but cash-and-change fumbling is still commonplace everywhere, thanks to paper transfers, lack of price differential, and the exhorbitant $5 charge for getting the card.

      But on a larger scale, politics continues to hobble improving efficiency, as the 40/40/20 rule has been replaced with the 2:1 rule. Buses outside Seattle get to perform half as well as buses inside Seattle, with the result that buses with a few empty seats in Seattle get cancelled before half-empty express buses from Sounder stations get cancelled.

      I’m totally not into removing service where it has existed. Removing *duplicative* service is a more worthy goal than deciding where to remove service from. So, a basic problem remains that Metro is working under mixed directions from a fickle legislative body. And as we’ve seen with this restructure, with ORCA, and with bringing back the 512 on Sundays, finding efficiencies sometimes leads to improved connectivity and service.

      The forced non-transfer of the 101/102 at Rainier Beach Station is another prime example of improved connectivity and efficiency knocking at the door. Throw in through-routing the 169 etc, and any new “forced transfer” at RBS is simply replacing a forced transfer in Renton, turning a 2-bus ride into a bus+train ride. And it might even free up some parking spaces. ;)

      For those saying that having buses waiting at RBS won’t work, I happened to notice Metro’s new bit of cooperation with ST last week: The 7 is sometimes waiting for passengers from a Link trainload at Mt Baker Station. I saw this happen during the PM peak period last week. And this was a full bus waiting for one passenger, as it happened (not me, FWIW). Certainly, the same could work just as well with an empty bus waiting for a full load of transfering passengers. If you claim that all the space around RBS is congested, show me pictures.

      1. I don’t have time to write a detailed answer right now. I will later. But for the moment, here’s your picture: a Google Map centered on RBS. The short answer is that every inch of pavement close enough to RBS for a forced transfer to be tolerable is an active traffic lane except for the E/B bus bay on Henderson, which can’t be a layover because it’s an in-service stop and only has space for one 60′ bus. There is only one lane in each direction on Henderson and you can’t seriously be suggesting that we should block one of the two lanes on MLK.

      2. “the change orders Lynnwood is already telegraphing”

        What is Lynnwood telegraphing? So far I’ve heard an unconfirmed rumor that it might want to move the station a couple blocks closer to the center of downtown. If so, any lost investment would be minimal because ST hasn’t even decided on the stations yet, much less engineered them. And the benefits of a central station would far outweigh any lost investment. And ultimately, it’s the Snoho taxpayers who would pay the cost so they’re the only ones with standing to complain.

        “If, for example, Lynnwood wants more time to mull over how Link’s route should look through Lynnwood, and we don’t start throwing money into engineering, could that not save a bundle on long-term debt financing? I honestly don’t know if getting Link out to Lynnwood will do that much for Link ridership compared to having an armada of buses from Snohomish County terminate at Northgate.”

        This is getting into the realm of unlikely speculation. How has Lynnwood suggested changing the route beyond moving the terminus a couple blocks? Is it, gasp, reconsidering the 99 alignment? The opening is already 11 years out, which is already a long time, and any delay might move it to 15 or 20 years, which would be a significant detriment.

        Buses turning back at Northgate has never been fully considered as far as I’m aware, especially once the decision to extend to Lynnwood now was made. Buses would have to go through a backed-up intersection and traffic lights to get from the freeway to the TC, plus the TC would have to add more bays, so if this were seriously an alternative they’d better start redesigning the TC and putting in bus lanes right now.

      3. David L,

        Thanks for reminding me to let google maps do the walking. The space just to the west of the station is a parking lot. The space just to the east of the station is a wide sidewalk in front of Quality Rentals, followed by a dirt parking lot, and a grassy knoll. If these aren’t easy places to install bus pullouts, I don’t know what is.

        Yes, I’d prefer the spaces to be on Henderson, rather than MLK, so riders use the crosswalk.

      4. Here’s an answer to Mike Orr on Lynnwood, but I’m starting a new comment below for clarity.

      5. The 101/102 could have an in-lane NB MLK stop, near-side of Henderson, then turn right on Henderson and lay over wherever convenient, such as along Henderson or Rainier like the 8. For the return trip, left turn from Henderson to SB MLK (protected left turn phase) to an immediate in-lane stop, then off to Renton.

      6. Brent, if you really want to make this work, you are going to need to initiate the forced transfer with at least the 101, 102, and 150. At peak hours, for decent reliability, you are going to need to have up to 3 buses (two 101/102s and a 150) staged at any given time, and probably 3-4 more laying over. That’s 195 feet of space needed just to stage the buses, or the length of a two-car Link train, and 260 more feet needed for layover. (Chad, buses can’t stage in-lane along a street like MLK without completely disrupting traffic. Imagine one lane of MLK completely blocked in each direction throughout rush hour — it wouldn’t be pretty. There is always going to be at least one bus picking up.)

        Staging. The only passenger-friendly place to build the staging space is S/B on MLK. The only other option that won’t involve buses making an agonizingly slow turnback after passengers board is W/B on Henderson, but that requires passengers to cross two streets. Building the space S/B on MLK would require taking the Polynesian Market’s parking lot and both of the properties along MLK on either side of S Fairbanks St; you’d stage two buses (the 101s) north of Fairbanks and one bus (the 150) south. Building the space W/B on Henderson would allow for only two buses to stage unless you relocated the Chief Sealth Trail crossing. It would also create a safety problem because cars would be turning right from W/B Henderson to N/B MLK directly in front of the front bus. Since you’d be closing the right-turn lane, there would be no way for bus drivers to identify right-turners who failed to signal. (Also, you’d need a queue jump for buses turning left onto MLK from the staging area, but that’s easy enough.) So staging is a problem unless you take a bunch of properties and substantially rebuild the intersection.

        You seem to be imagining staging buses N/B on MLK. The biggest problem with this is that southbound buses would have to make their turnback with passengers on board. There is no short turnback in the area… this will add 3-4 minutes to the trip, at least. The other problem is that you will probably have to buy Quality Rentals out entirely. Their business is not much use without a parking lot, and you’ll have to take the entire parking lot to add enough width for an out-of-lane zone.

        Layover. This is not as hard a problem as staging, but it’s still a problem. Most of the curb space along Henderson is used for existing school bus pickup areas or Metro layovers. The rest is parking, some of which you can surely convert to bus layover. But space for 4 60-footers is a lot to add.

        The sum total of this is what I’ve been saying — turning high-volume routes into RBS feeders will require a major, disruptive set of changes to the area around RBS, which is not a trivial problem. I continue to think it’s not worthwhile to go through that pain and slow the total ride time down just to get those riders onto Link.

      7. David L,

        The 101, 102, and 150 don’t all have to be converted from forced backtracking and forced milk-running (on the 106 and 107) to forced transfer. The 101/102 and 150 can be considered independently of each other. Nor do layovers have to be right by the station. There is gobs of undeveloped space in the area around RBS.

      8. Re Northgate turnbacks instead of the Lynnwood Extension, there’s the difficulties I mentioned above of getting from the freeway exit to the TC, and adding multiple bays to the TC. I think people breathed a sigh of relief when the Lynnwood Extension was included in ST2, because it bypasses these problems, eliminates many bus runs, and significantly truncates the remaining ones. It turns a “How to get to Seattle problem” into a “How to get to Lynnwood problem”, which is very appropriate for Snohomish County.

    4. A gallon of gas in city driving costs $4 and will take you 20 miles.

      Metro will do that but for less.

      And that doesn’t count the amortization and repair costs.

      Basic problem is everyone wants a free magic carpet but no one wants to bear the true costs – or to restructure society for greater efficiency.

      1. Metro’s OPERATING costs, not including any capital costs, are around 75 cents per passenger-mile. So, taking a passenger 20 miles on a bus costs about $15.

        That is far more than the operating cost per passenger-mile of an average auto, not to mention a new, fuel-efficent auto.

        The transit in our area is vastly more expensive to operate per passenger-mile than autos.

      2. Ok so then the argument goes…but what about the “subsidies”?

        What if you figure those in (both for cars, parking and transit).

      3. Norman, your numbers are pure garbage.

        Notice carefully the following, and pay attention to it.

        1. “Per passenger mile” numbers depend entirely on number of passengers in the vehicle.

        This is dominant. The fact is that Metro has “unpopular bus routes” and “popular bus routes”, and averaging them gives you your utterly useless “per passenger mile” numbers. Meanwhile, you’re averaging carpools and solo drivers to get the “per passenger mile” numbers for cars.

        Garbage generated by division.

        #2 – the cost of operations is different on different routes.
        The cost of driving an idling car through downtown traffic is going to be rather higher than your number which averages open-road rural driving. The cost of running a streetcar down a short downtown corridor, meanwhile, is going to be a lot lower than the cost of running multiple diesel buses from Seattle to Tacoma…

        Garbage generated by averaging.

        If you want to make a coherent argument based on “per passenger mile”, you can argue that a particular route would better be served by people driving.

        If you want to make a coherent argument about public transit vs. cars in general, you *cannot* use “per passenger mile” averages, it’s a useless garbage measure.

        But I suspect you don’t want to make a coherent argument at all, you just want to write vaguely plausible-sounding gibberish which hates on public transportation. So I expect you will not make any attempt to come up with more careful analyses. (Contrast the work of Bruce Nourish.)

      4. Nathaniel, your “arguments” are useless garbage. I use the figures that Metro supplies. Operating cost per passenger-mile is a metric used by all transit agencies. If it is “useless” why do transit agencies all use it?

        Bailo used 20 mpg for in-city driving. That is pretty reasonable. On highways cars average well over 20 mpg. Bailo also used $4 per gallon gasoline, which is also pretty current, although it will likely drop to well below $4 per gallon this winter.

        Buses, and light rail, always will require off-peak travel — the buses have to get out to W. Seattle in the morning, running mostly empty, before they can take a full load of passengers back into the city. There is no way to avoid this, unless you make only one round trip per day per bus, which does not happen.

        So, it is indeed accurate to compare average cost per passenger-mile of autos to buses and light rail or streetcars. And buses and light rail are vastly more expensive to operate per passeenger-mile than autos. That is just a fact.

        The fact that you don’t like the truth that buses and light rail are vastly more expensive to operate than autos does not change the truth of that very relevant fact.

      5. Norman is forgetting something here. It is true that there is some deadheads involved but in most cases its just the first and last trips that have significant deadheads. for downtown based routes there may not be much deadheading at all. This was a key factor in eliminating the 133: too much deadheading.

        Buses are expensive to buy and that is true. But im sure if you look at the most productive routes you will see that those buses have a very acceptable cost per boarding. Some routes even bring a net profit for metro (cost less than the adult fare to operate — not exactly a true metric given transfers and passes but still efficient).

        we can spin numbers all we want but at the end of the day we have a system that has a low marginal cost per boarding. We all pay for at least part of it through taxes (as a non driver i think taxing registration is a bit unfair to those who drive) and we can all choose fo benefit from it.

    5. “One of the basic things I don’t understand about cost overruns is how starting up a segment faster and getting it done faster saves money (except for the wierdnesses of interest rate shifts).”

      One other way: construction price inflation exceeding general inflation.

      A second other way: less consultant and management payments. All that “mulling over” *costs money*, it turns out.

      1. Thanks, I’ll change the prototype after the Seahawks beat the Patriots!

    1. A one time witnessing of a train running when you don’t actually know the reason why is hardly a shocking revelation of government waste.

      1. Zed, there’s more to the story than just the train running. The website is a prototype.

      2. Obviously Sounder North is a huge waste of money, but a train left running is nothing unusual, it’s pretty much been standard practice up until recent changes to emissions standards.

      3. Zed, I’m investigating the train being left on. But we agree Sounder North is wasteful. I’m pro express buses instead for Everett, Mukilteo – with a stop at the Future of Flight Museum, Edmonds and Seattle.

        Sounder South is for another documentary, another citizen producer.

      4. Sounder North was poorly thought out. I still don’t see a problem with the concept of Sounder service to Everett and Edmonds — but having a captive fleet of trains for it, operating them only in peak, retaining crews just to operate them (who sit idle the rest of the time) — it makes no sense.

        Trains benefit massively from economies of scale. In fact, trains are all *about* economies of scale. Economies of scale are what *make* trains work better than buses or cars. Without the scale, trains just aren’t that effective.

        Sounder North has, for some reason, been denied the benefits of economies of scale — as an operational matter! If operated as extensions of Sounder South trips, I am sure that the operations costs would look *very, very different*. And better.

        Before pulling the plug on Edmonds and Everett commuter train service, it’s worth inquiring to see whether this sort of restructuring is a possibility, or whether it is prevented by the nature of the agreements with BNSF.

        The current operations scheme is of course completely unsustainable and will have to stop.

      5. @Nathaniel: The unique Sounder North stations are poorly situated for any ridership potential (even P&R), and from the non-unique station it’s slower than the bus. More trips would only dig Sounder North deeper.

      6. Economies of scale.

        And that’s just the problem for a 21st century region like ours! We are not people who travel from points B1, B2, … all to point A. And over time with more work at homes, and new technologies like 3D printing, ever less so!

      7. Through-routing would mean having 8-car trains in Everett to do each run. That’s 16 extra cars ST doesn’t have.

        As it is, the transfer at King Tut Station is not that inconvenient. At best case, Sounder North might pick up maybe a dozen passengers by through-routing.

      8. Thru-routing south Sounder and North Sounder won’t work because it would cause the schedules to be out of sync with what riders actually want.

        If we did this, the north Sounder would have trains running away from downtown in the morning and towards downtown in the afternoon, exactly backwards from the ridership demand.

      9. Through-running as I proposed it would use a Sounder North trainset for a low-demand reverse-peak trip SEA-TAC and then a lowish demand peak direction, shoulder of peak trip in the morning. Something for which a three car trainset would be useful. Or run one north train with four or five coaches.

        In the afternoon, the train would go south before the peak really got started, then do a reverse-peak TAC-SEA trip and continue north to Everett.

        There would be many challenges to this approach, scheduling being one. North Sounder wants to coordinate its schedules with ferry schedules in Edmonds and Mukilteo; to additionally coordinate with South Sounder schedules might be an insoluable problem. There might also be a problem with train congestion at the platform in KSS.

      10. Another challenge with my scheme is that it doesn’t fit with ST planner’s ideas about how the new South Sounder train easements will work as revealed in the 2013 SIP.

      11. The suggested schedule in the SIP is very preliminary. It was developed before Sounder to Lakewood opened for service. At that time, their predictions of ridership were a shot in the dark.

        Though it is clear that not next year, but some time soon, all the Lakewood ST buses will move to the top of the list for cutbacks or restructuring, given their high purchased-cost-per-rider.

  3. The Geography of Americans who work from Home

    Nationally, the number of workers responding that they worked exclusively at home increased by 1.8 percentage points (4.8 percent to 6.6 percent) from 1997 to 2010, according to the report. Workers who reported that they worked at least one day per week at home increased from 7.0 percent in 1997 to 9.5 percent in 2010. Just under half of those who work at home were also self-employed, while a quarter were from management, business, and finance occupations.


    1. So off-peak transit will become more important, as more of people’s trips occur outside rush hour.

    2. I haven’t seen any evidence that we’re entering a work at home revolution. At 80% of the US work force, the service sector is enormous, and a majority of people with those jobs cannot telework. From food service to healthcare to engineering, most people need to commute to a work site that has specialized and expensive equipment. Even jobs that can be done at home are preferably not done at home, as it’s difficult to coordinate with large amounts of people. The social aspect of work is incredibly important, and there is no way our future is interacting with people exclusively via internet.

      I saw your comment in the article you linked about cities becoming obsolete. Even if a large percentage of people began working at home, people will still continue to shift into dense cities. Work is only part of the equation.

      Telework and web conferencing have their place, but I am highly skeptical that it’s going to have any real noticeable effect on mode share, density or even peak transit ridership. I think it’s ridiculous that anyone would even be talking about how telework effects peak or off-peak transit. It’s your business if you want to jump on the futurist visionary crazy-train, but I just don’t see how telework is going to add anything useful in the discussion of mass transit today or the future.

      1. In fact, the reasons people move to cities have little to do with work: cities are simply more attractive places to live for (last I checked) over 40% of the population. (It may be upwards of 60% depending on whose numbers you use.)

        There is a hardcore of 10-20% who actually prefers living in rural areas (I find it hard to understand myself), but rural areas also lack jobs, so some of them live in cities anyway — rural population is dropping to very low levels.

        And then there’s the suburbs. They’re still popular, but they’re *less* popular than the cities.

        Unfortunately I’m having trouble finding the various “preference” studies which gave these numbers. (The two I’ve seen had very wide differences from each other in the numbers, but in both, cities were definitively more popular than either rural areas or suburbs.)

    3. Last week I heard an anecdote that Google has been flying developers from Mountain View to Dublin for face-to-face meetings, because even its gee-whiz teleconferencing technology can’t completely replace the effectiveness of periodically discussing things in person.

  4. West Seattle Blog has a break-down from Metro on some of the numbers people have been throwing around regarding crowded buses to downtown. Short summary: yes, buses are crowded, but it’s part of a long trend. Standing in the aisle may be new for some in West Seattle, but it’s status-quo in other neighborhoods.


    Mike Lindblom took a look at this, and added a quick cell-phone interview with Victor Obeso at KC Metro:


    It will be interesting to see if these trends continue.

    1. October is typically the highest ridership month for Metro, and this year looks to be a record. I have a feeling that Metro is as we speak exceeding the records set in 2008.

  5. I recently went to San Francisco to attend JavaOne, which was great. I decided I would not rent a car and rely only on public transportation. Here are my thoughts on what I used.

    My hotel was near the airport, and the conference was downtown, so most of my travel between the two places was on BART, from the airport station to Powell station. The service itself was pretty good – I was able to get between the two places very quickly, and the ride was pleasant and comfortable. It was expensive, however – over 8 dollars one-way between the two stations. Frequency was good enough for my liking, and I never had to wait more than ten minutes for a train (I was mostly traveling at peak hours, though the first night I didn’t go back to my hotel until after 8:00 PM).

    The other thought I had regarding BART was that it doesn’t feel like a subway system like those of other places – basically, it resembles an S-Bahn system more than an U-Bahn system, so it’s more of a commuter rail. I also wasn’t able to find if there was any kind of daily or multi-day pass that was useful for my duration.

    So on the whole I like BART, but it’s pretty pricy, and I wouldn’t have minded if it went to more than just one corridor of San Francisco.

    I also rode the F Market streetcar line and N Judah light rail line. The F line is a vintage streetcar, which are cute, but they were also pretty hot and uncomfortable inside. I also had to wait over thirty minutes for one to arrive on Market street (I watched five go by in the opposite direction while I waited).

    I liked the underground portion of the N line, but not so much in the surface segments. This line is definitely showing its age. It shares lanes with car traffic, which certainly slows it down quite a bit. What really surprised me was the fact that it stayed in the middle of the street when it reached its stops, and you would often have to cross lanes that would have traffic or parking before you could get to the sidewalk. Frequency was pretty good – I saw several trains pass by my restaurant when I had dinner, and only had to wait about 2 minutes before my train back to downtown arrived. I also liked the interior of the trains more than I like Link trains, though that may have been mostly due to the seats being more comfortable.

    So I think the N line needs some modernization, because once it leaves the tunnel it just feels like a bus on rails. I’m very glad the MLK Way portion of Link doesn’t share lanes with car traffic – it’s about as fast and reliable as I could hope an at-grade line to be.

    1. I recently visited friends out along the L Line. Drivers on those streets are mostly pretty good at stopping when they’re supposed to. The overall result, compared to a “modernized” system like Link on MLK, is a much better pedestrian environment. But, holy hell, there are tons of 4-way stops along it. You’d figure the city would want to streamline the operation of its major transit line at least a little.

      The F Line cars really do get bunched up. I’ve actually seen them in streetcar gridlock up there…

      As for BART… it’s really a shame to watch Link about to make so many of the same mistakes with stop spacing and siting and station design. It shouldn’t be nearly as unpleasant as it is to access businesses on the major arterial halfway between the Daly City and Colma stations, for instance (the illegible local bus service on that corridor and the intermittent lack of sidewalks doesn’t help). And the noise! Apparently BART’s rather unique noises are caused by the rigid-axle trains going around curves at high speed and wearing waves into the tracks, which cause tones when later trains pass through; because the tunnels have so little extra clearance around the train the sound really echoes around in there. At least we shouldn’t have that problem (and BART shouldn’t either once they get their rolling-stock replacement going).

      My experiences with transit in suburban areas in SF, Seattle, and Chicago suggests to me that our current model of agency-city operations here is off-kilter. For one thing, buying a bunch of land for a station and plopping bus and train stops in the middle of a parking lot, which is inconvenient for pedestrians and inefficient for buses, kind of sucks. This is the BART model, and the Seattle P&R model. Instead, why not build the bus stop where buses can get through efficiently, and stick in parking wherever it fits? Many commuter train stations in the Chicago suburbs have businesses and homes right across from the platforms and city-operated pay garages scattered around nearby. Peak traffic rushes are spread among a variety of lots instead of a single entrance to a large lot, the pedestrian environment around the station is better, and development potential is more flexible because parking lots and garages can be added and removed without fundamentally disrupting transit operations. Also cities can tailor operations and charges to their specific situations.

      1. “Apparently BART’s rather unique noises are caused by the rigid-axle trains going around curves at high speed and wearing waves into the tracks, which cause tones when later trains pass through; ”

        This isn’t a problem on most trains with rigid axles, curves, and high speeds. A lot of very complicated engineering work goes into the curve designs, the track dessign, and the bogie designs.

        Really tight curves such as on the NYC Subway still make horrible squeals, but the fairly shallow curves on BART shouldn’t….

        I suppose for BART it’s harder because they used a nonstandard gauge. Because of that, they can’t rely on the off-the-shelf standards for how to design curves.

      2. As for BART… it’s really a shame to watch Link about to make so many of the same mistakes…

        But why would anyone ever need to go to more than precisely 7 places in the entire city of Seattle? Why, Al?

        We’re not building more stations because there’s “no demand” outside of those precisely 7 nodes. That’s why the whole rest of this city of 600,00 consists of nothing but virgin rainforest!

    2. Regarding the $8+ BART ride, I too bristled at this the last time I was down there, so I finally looked into bus alternatives to SFO. From the Mission (24th & Potrero) I took SamTrans 292. It took nearly twice as long as BART (~45 vs 25 minutes), but at 4 or 5 pm on a weekday there were just 10 other people on the bus (versus a rather crowded train), and it was $4 versus $8.05. If I’d been leaving from downtown, I could’ve taken the SamTrans KX, which as fast as BART (at least on paper) and $3 cheaper.

      Unfortunately SamTrans doesn’t do real-time arrival info via 511, and if traffic sucks you could get screwed, but personally I expect SamTrans to be my standard way to & from SFO, with that saved $4 going towards my first burrito.

      If you’re doing OAK or SJC, though, I think BART’s pretty much the only sane option.

      1. BART doesn’t go to SJC. From San Francisco you’re probably taking Caltrain to Santa Clara and the airport shuttle from there. But you’re probably not flying out of SJC to go to San Francisco.

      2. @Al: Ah, right you are. I vaguely recalled flying into SJC at least once, but now that I think about it, a friend who worked in Mountain View picked me up when I did.

      3. While the $8+ Bart ride may be a bit expensive to do every train, it’s chump change for an out-of-town traveler who has already spent several hundred dollars on airfare and likely several hundred dollars more on a hotel.

      4. Correction –

        While the $8+ Bart ride may be a bit expensive to do every day, it’s chump change for an out-of-town traveler who has already spent several hundred dollars on airfare and likely several hundred dollars more on a hotel.

    3. Center stops are actually pretty normal for streetcar and light rail systems, and they’re a good idea.

      The difference is, on newer systems:
      (1) The streetcar has exclusive track reservation rather than shared-with-car lanes. (In fact, exclusive reservation was common on old systems too, but the reservations were often opened to cars later.)
      (2) The streetcar stops have platforms / waiting areas, so people cross the street before the streetcar arrives and then wait “in the middle” for the streetcar.

      I can’t speak to whether that’s a worse or better pedestrian environment than the “old style” where you simply step off into the street. I’ve seen both and I can see things to like and things to dislike about both.

      Anyway, my actual point is that it wouldn’t be too hard to modernize the SF Muni surface streetcars to a modern light-rail style system, but you have to take cars out of the lanes and pour some concrete. It’s not a huge project.

      The four-way stops are indeed a “seriously?!”, and an indication that the attitude at Muni is “we can’t be bothered”.

      1. The pedestrian environment on MLK is certainly made worse by the long spacing between places to cross the street and the excessive width of the street. The nice thing about the 4-way stops on Taraval is that you never have to wait long to cross the street at just about any block.

        I guess it’s not really fair to compare them — it wouldn’t be appropriate to run a train down Taraval or Judah at 35 MPH with mile-plus stop spacing and few places to cross the street between stations. I can’t really think of analogs to those streets in Seattle, though. Streets with frequent transit service and a decent number of businesses but not much through-traffic.

    The city is clear what they expect to happen in their recent “City of Lynnwood Mode Split for City Center Roads” report (googgle it)
    Here’s a quick outline of both walksheds for LTC (purple) and the identified City Center (pink) and one of 3 preferred additional stops to the current TC. The report concludes they need 3 stations (LTC, City Center, and Alderwood Mall) for things to work right.
    ST is only showing one station at LTC, with 16,500 daily boardings. My Flickr link shows all of this in two screen shots.
    So it maybe an ST3 maneuver, but one station in Lynnwood is clearly on the drawing boards if anyone cares to read about it.
    Compare the 16,500 daily boarding number to all three Bellevue stops at about 8,000 per day. Gonna need a bigger garage than 500 stalls and lots of bus bays to move 8,000 riders in AM peak off I-5 to the train. That’s about a bus a minute discharging about 40 riders each. I want Latte Cart for this operation.

    1. I think Lynnwood has the right idea, sans out-of-the-way park&ride station, and serving yet another mall just four stops from Northgate.

      I’m surprised Federal Way is still pushing to serve their parking garage, rather than the city center and mall a few blocks away, but difficult to get to on foot. They’ve got a couple decades to sort that out, though.

      1. There is never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever going to be any development in the Federal Way “city center”.


        (I feel like I’m living in an cartographic alternate universe even having this discussion.)

      2. Never is a long time. Same was said about Bellevue and I can remember when Redmond only had one traffic light.

      3. d.p. — what if they decide to move in additional prisons? :-) Then there could be a great deal of development in Federal Way! Imprisoning people is a growth industry in this, the country with the highest incarceration rate in the world (beating out Stalin’s gulags) — and businesses in the same industry do tend to cluster together!

        (Yeah, I’m messin’ with you. But seriously… it is possible…)

      4. Mic –

        If I remember correctly, ST wanted to put in a stop at Southcenter but they didn’t want the business interruption of construction. I believe at a later date they wanted it again, but the planning had already been done.

      1. Yes, such a pity your transfer to Link from Ballard will have to occur in the new tunnel being planned because the Lynnwood Chia Ctr will fill up the DSTT.
        Ta-Ta-Ta-Too Bad
        Sa-Sa-So Bad

    2. I found a report dated 2009. If that’s the most recent, either Lynnwood was ineffective in communicating its priorities to ST, or ST refused to increase the number of stations. I do know that Lynnwood citizens suggested an Alderwood Mall station in the alternatives analysis, and ST said no to that. It sounds like Lynnwood has to both be more vocal about its transit vision, and help ST find funds for these additional stations if it wants them before ST3. Because if ST had enough money for the Alderwood Mall station it would have included it in its drafts.

      This part sounds very good:

      Sound Transit Future Bus Service Plans
      With the passage of ST2, Sound Transit anticipates that when light rail reaches
      Lynnwood by 2023, Route 511 between Lynnwood and Seattle would be discontinued
      and hours reinvested into Route 532/535 Everett/Lynnwood to Bellevue service and
      possibly a new Mukilteo/Paine Field to Lynnwood route. Also, Route 510 between
      Everett and Seattle would be truncated at Lynnwood Transit Center with frequency

      So there’s confirmation on that.

      I don’t have any comments on the specific local routes or developments, since I’m not that closely familiar with what Snoho residents need. I just know that for me, I’d want frequent buses to Edmonds CC, Swift, Edmonds, and Mukilteo.

      1. Conspiracy Theory #2
        Seattle Pols killed having a Link station at S.Center/Westfield Mall because they wantrf to keep mall tax revenue for themselves from Westlake and Northgate. Same at Bellevue Mall, no stop (plus they hate Kemper).
        Now, Lynnwood wants a station at Alderwood Mall- No dice boys and girls.
        “We ain’t gonna stop at every little mall just ’cause we won’t”

      2. mic, I only wish Seattle pols had that kind of influence over ST.

        Although Kemper likely killed a useful Bellevue stop all by his lonesome. Without all the activism from him and from neighborhood groups he funds, Bellevue would have chipped in more, and ST would also likely have been receptive to spending more of the East Link budget to get the tunnel under 108th (or even 106th).

      3. Seattle pols are outnumbered on the ST board. Suburban pols look first to their own constituents, which is why the Lynnwood Extension is happening now.

        I wonder if Link will become known as “the subway to five malls”. (Bellevue Square, Northgate, Alderwood, Southcenter, and Federal Way Commons) That may be a first in the country. I’m sure DP could have a field day with that. On the other hand, it may show that the malls are in the right locations, in lines north, east, and south.

        Another thing, if my new theory is correct that P&Rs should not be at urban TCs (Renton, Burien) but rather just outside city centers (South Bellevue), that would argue for two stations in Federal Way, one at the TC and another at the Commons. (DP chokes, “Two stations for Federal Way when Montlake has zero???”)

      4. Nah… It will simply become known as “the train nobody uses, even if they would like to”.

        And it’s not about “stops per neighborhood”. Referring to Montlake in that way just reinforces your misguided “node”-based thinking about transit.

        Subway stops should be spaced in whatever way will ensure the greatest walkshed over the populated area. Stops should be located as close to major activity centers as possible, of course, but maximum walkable access and available non-circuitous cross-connections should be the ultimate aim.

        You want a subway that becomes a part of the daily urban experience. That only happens when as many people as possible can think to themselves: “I wish to make a trip from [x] to [y]. Can the subway help me do that?” and have the answer be “YES” most of the time.

        Literally nothing about Link enables that.

      5. I thought the plan for Link was to have a station as close as possible to every interchange on every freeway in the region.

  7. Sound Transit published the 2013 SIP on Friday, here are the highlights:


    -510, 511 – Midday, evening, reverse peak, and Saturdays eliminated. One round trip added to 510.
    -512 – replaces 510, 511 during nonpeak hours and reverse commute. Every 10-15 minutes at middays, 15-20 on Saturdays, and 15-30 at evenings.
    -513 – 4 AM and 5 PM trips added.
    -560 – all trips end at Westwood Village.
    -566 – some peak and most midday service eliminated.
    -567 – new Kent-Bellevue-Overlake Express (skips Renton), timed to connect to all Sounder trains.
    -596 – add one round trip.
    -Sounder South – Add one peak direction round trip.
    -Savings from 566/567 will allow more peak trips to be added to 545, 550, and 577

    1. The 510/511->512 change is something a lot of people have suggested and it sounds good in principle. So the concerns:

      1. Reliability. When I used the 511 in the reverse peak it was pretty reliable. Such a long route will have more reliability issues. Any idea how reliability typically is between Lynnwood and Everett?

      2. Duplication. The CT201/202 runs between 30- and 15-minute frequency in the I-5 corridor between Lynnwood and Everett. There’s also frequent north-south service on Swift, which is a different corridor but not that far away. Meanwhile, among all that north-south service, the east-west service is often lacking. How is utilization and efficiency between Lynnwood and Everett?

      3. Downtown Everett. The 510’s downtown Everett tail is being removed. Will that make a difference? There are lots of other routes that make the trip that should combine for considerable frequency, so it might not matter much at all.

      1. 1. The main problem with running a 512 at peak is that it can’t use the express lane. Since counter-peak trips already can’t use the express lane, that issue is moot.

        2. If more 512s enable CT to truncate some 201/202 runs (which is not necessarily the case), so be it. There may also be duplication/savings on U-district commuters, but I think it will take time to right-size CT’s 800-series runs.

        I think the larger question is whether the service planners have thought through capacity issues, so we don’t get surprises like how Metro’s 218 was overwhelmed.

        Thank you, Sound Transit!

      2. I agree that this change is probably great; it extends the frequent network and increases connectivity along the I-5 corridor, such as it is. I wouldn’t expect there would be capacity issues; capacity to Everett is being increased, and I’ve used the 511 a lot both off-peak and reverse-peak and never seen it especially crowded.

        1. I would have figured a forward-peak 512 would skip 145th and 45th like the forward-peak 510 and 511, and that the reason a forward-peak 512 doesn’t exist is capacity management. I guess I’m still concerned about how adding the run to Everett will affect reliability between Seattle and Lynnwood for non-forward-peak trips. A lot of people catch rather infrequent connecting buses at Lynnwood TC and if the reliability goes out the window they’ll be in trouble. In particular, I’m worried about southbound evening congestion causing extreme bunching on such a long route. But even that wouldn’t likely cause serious capacity issues, just inconvenience riders.

        2. Since forward-peak service is basically unchanged the forward-peak 511 and 510 don’t stop at 45th and there’s no reverse-peak or off-peak 8xx service. So the 8xx routes don’t enter into it. Removing the Lynnwood-Everett leg of the 201/202 (except southbound in the morning and northbound in the evening) might be a sensible response.

      3. Good to see ST is forward-thinking on the 512. Would this be in February, June, or October?

        Overlapping the 512 and 201/202 does sound like overservice. Given CT’s extreme financial situation and its local-service mandate, I’d say let ST take over the corridor. The south local part (196th to 128th) can be made up for by extending a route from Edmonds to Alderwood Mall and as far as there’s all-day demand (along Ash Way?).

      4. The 201/202 serve Mariner P&R, whereas the 512 does not and cannot without significantly bloating travel times to Everett to serve very few riders. The simplest solution would probably be for CT to truncate the 201/202 at Everett and extend some other (less frequent) route that ends at Ash Way P&R to take over the Mariner P&R bus stop.

        As to reliability, I am not too concerned about bus bunching here. In the southbound direction, by the time the buses hit traffic on I-5, they will be far enough south that nearly everyone who will be riding will already be on the bus. As for the U-district->downtown segment, it can’t possibly be worse than the current schedule, which has the 510/511 go by back-to-back in pairs every 30 minutes.

        Northbound, the only way I can see this possibly causing a problem is if combining the route means a more crowded bus, meaning more change fumblers getting on at every stop downtown, meaning more time to get through downtown, meaning a late arrival at Lynnwood. However, given the increased frequency of service that this change will buy, I’m not worried about this.

      5. Isolated P&Rs like Mariner and Ash Way don’t necessarily need off-peak service. If the Lynnwood P&R is not full weekends, drivers can just go there. The issue is whether there are sufficient on/offs at the stops between Alderwood Mall and the P&Rs to justify extending an all-day route, and that I don’t know.

        I don’t fully understand Ash Way’s role. Is it necessary for routes to transfer there rather than Lynnwood TC? The 113 moved from Lynnwood TC to Ash Way, but was that just for cost-cutting reasons or is it really a good transfer place. There’s nothing around it except a cafe (which is nice, it’s a Viennese cafe).

      6. Ash Way has the nice property of being as close to the city as possible, yet still right on the way, for anyone driving there from either Seattle or the Eastside. This makes Ash Way P&R a convenient P&R lot for people from disparate parts of King County who want to carpool up north.

        Lots of hiking groups, for instance, meet at Ash Way for carpooling to trailheads in corridors such as highway 2, North Cascades, and Mountain Loop Highway, and I have ridden the 511 bus there several times to join carpools for such groups. Even at 7 AM on a Saturday morning, I have consistently found that the bus is not anywhere close to empty. I don’t know where exactly everyone else is going, but the stop is being used. For me, if the 512 were to stop serving there, hiking trips that met there for carpooling would become drastically more expensive – I would be essentially forced into paying for a taxi or rental car just to get to the P&R.

        There is also a large apartment building right across the street from the P&R which means there are probably a fair number of people who live there and walk across the street to ride the bus. If off-peak service were killed, I’m sure they would strenuously object.

      7. Even if not much is within walking distance, there is still a large value in maintaining a consistent stop spacing every few miles, rather than have huge gaps. Even if being able to get off the bus 3 miles from your destination, rather than 7 miles away doesn’t put you within walking distance, it does help a lot in other ways. For instance, a friend picking you up at the bus stop may have a much shorter distance to drive to get to your, which means less waiting on your part, less burden on the driver, and less congestion on the roads. And if it is necessary to hire a taxi to complete the trip, being able to get a few miles closer on the bus can greatly reduce the monetary cost. If you’ve got a bike on board, the difference between being 3 miles away from home and 7 miles away is also a big deal, although the limited bike rack capacity greatly limits the number of people for whom this would matter.

        And when all other options disappear, a 30-minute walk from a bus stop is still vastly preferable over a 2-hour walk from a bus stop further away.

    2. In addition to the big changes coming for ST Express, the preliminary plan is for South Sounder peak-of-peak headway to drop to 20 minutes. There is no mention of the 152, 158, or 159 in this year’s SIP.

      The SIP contains this shocking stat: North Sounder purchased-transportation-cost-per-rider dropped to $16.71 in 2Q 2012. My recollection is that the old number was closer to $37, but last year’s SIP is now gone from the website.

      1. “There is no mention of the 152, 158, or 159 in this year’s SIP.”

        ST’s SIP is not the place to tell Metro what to do.

        The SIP does mention the 120 as one of three alternatives for West Seattle – SeaTac, although it ultimately favors an ST route instead. I’m not sure if that means ST would give Metro money to extend the money, or if ST would just stand aside and let Metro find the money itself. But it does show a possibility of augmenting other Metro routes the same way (169, 168, 180, 181).

      2. How many additional trips on the D-line could we get if we truncated to the 152, 158, and 159 to end at the Sounder station? Could this by a couple more hours a day of 10-minute headways vs. 15? Or 15-minute headways vs. 30?

      3. I suspect the 152, 158, and 159 will die the death of a few more cuts rather than be officially axed all at once, thanks to the proposed 20-minute peak-of-peak Sounder headways.

        But I don’t see their service hours leaving the south subarea. The most likely recipient, I am guessing, would be the 150.

  8. Oran just posted some SF photos over on flickr (1, 2) and I noticed the orange dots on the road under the overhead wires. I’ve always figured these were to help ETB operators figure out when or where to hit the switches so they don’t come off the wires, but I’m wondering if any operators or enthusiasts here have any insights as to their purpose and utility. Like, would it be helpful if Metro were to put these sorts of markers down on Seattle streets?

    1. I think you’re close. From those photos, they look like they exist to tell operators where they have to go slowly to avoid losing their poles in the special work (or damaging the special work). It looks to me like an operator would need to be moving slowly as the dot passes his/her body.

      Here in Seattle, the slow order speed is 5 mph (used to be 10 mph). But very few operators actually obey it consistently, which is probably good on balance, because trolleys consistently moving 5 mph through every piece of special work would completely screw up downtown. Straight-through special work can usually handle 15 mph without any issues, and most kinked special work can handle 10 mph. Operators quickly learn where the truly finicky bits of overhead are.

      1. Y’all need (a) wires which can easily be rewired in transit, and (b) battery backup sufficent to drop the wire through intersections, and then you can get rid of the special work entirely.

  9. Just spent 20+ minutes waiting at Mercer & Queen Anne in the rain and wind, “shelter” monopolized by drunks and smokers, pylon broken, no clue when the bus would show.

    RapidRide is awful. Just fucking awful.

      1. Been borrowing a friend’s car, and driving a lot.

        I can’t tell you how exponentially better it is than this shite.

        Saturday night, SoDo:
        20 minutes each way, free parking, dry as a bone.
        If I’d taken the bus:
        60+ minutes each way, unknown waits, 12 minutes walk on each end.

        Hmm… What a choice!
        Metro sucks at everything.

      2. I have a Zipcar membership, and like having the option, but… really?

        I pay one of the highest urban transit monthly pass rates on this continent! I live in the dead center of our 4th largest urban center.

        Yet I should have to spend $40-$60 on a Zipcar just to go anywhere in the evening because Metro doesn’t know what the fuck they’re doing!?

      3. d.p.,

        Are you just now figuring out that Seattle is a driving city, with the possible exception of Capitol Hill/U-District/Downtown/Belltown?

        Almost the full weight of decades of public policy has been dedicated to making it easy to drive anywhere.

      4. d.p.: You are being mentally prepared for the New Ballard to Seattle Streetcar project which is going to look oh-so-good on paper to get you out of your zipcar and off those awful smelly RR-buses that everyone hates.

      5. Are you just now figuring out that Seattle is a driving city, with the possible exception of Capitol Hill/U-District/Downtown/Belltown?</blockquote

        And up until last month, Ballard.

      6. I’m not going to profess to be a expert on Ballard, but I don’t seem to recall everyone saying transit there was super-duper awesome before the service change.

      7. What Kyle said, Martin.

        I discovered that Seattle was an incorrigible driving city my first year here. So I moved right into the center of Ballard my second year.

        And yes, Metro’s lackluster excuse for urban transit has long underserved densified Ballard. Getting from here to points east or southeast of downtown has always been a slog, and always suffered a severe transfer penalty.

        But if you could get yourself downtown, you could get yourself back to Ballard. Until 12:15 AM*, three buses an hour made their way to Ballard’s true center. If you were willing to walk from 15th, you had options every 15 minutes until 12:30 AM.* Moreover, these buses had very good on-time track records after about 8:30 PM.

        Now you literally cannot get to Ballard proper after 10 at night — hourly routes might as well not exist, and neither RapidRide nor its “connections” at Leary or Market are frequent or stable enough to rely on.

        RR has no schedule, no real-time info, and thus far a pretty lousy track record on evening headways… and that’s before it drops to half-hourly 90 minutes earlier than Ballard service did before. And after all that sans-schedule-followed-by-inadequate-schedule extra waiting, you’ve got 10-15 minutes more walking awaiting you.

        So, no, it was never great. But now it is objectively terrible!

        *(In both cases, I am including a 12:15 outbound trip on the 17 that was unwisely axed a year ago.)

      8. “I discovered that Seattle was an incorrigible driving city my first year here. So I moved right into the center of Ballard my second year.”

        I’m sorry if it wasn’t obvious that Seattle’s main transit axis is downtown – Capitol Hill – U-District – Northgate, and has been for decades. Supposedly the axis follows the dominant trip patterns, although some may argue that’s incorrect or obsolete. Nevertheless, if you want the widest choice of frequent transit in the most directions, that’s where you have to live, at least for the foreseeable future. Not Ballard or Fremont or Greenwood. Ballard is a lovely place to live in, but it’s not a great place to get in and out of. And the 44 runs surprisingly frequent and late for a crosstown route, just the thing for bar-goers. And seventeen blocks maximum is not a long walk to a frequent line. Two half-hourly routes 8 blocks apart is not better than one frequent route. The whole point of route consolidation is to get full-time frequent service to all parts of the city. Sorry if it doesn’t go to “real” Ballard, but the problem is Ballard itself with its “V” shaped development pattern, with the center on one side of the V rather than at the bottom, and on the side hardest to get to, either for a north-south route or a north-then-east route. Yes, Seattle/Metro/ST should make huge transit improvements to Ballard, which could become the second-largest transit axis, but it has made no concrete promises for that yet, and RapidRide was never going to be the godsend.

      9. Not going to disagree with most of your rant, but late at night there is a schedule. When RR is half-hourly you don’t just have to show up at a stop and hope.

      10. That’s what I said, David:
        “And after all that sans-schedule-followed-by-inadequate-schedule extra waiting…”

        You used to have a reliably on-time schedule from 8-11 PM.
        Now you wait up to 15 (or 20, or more, because RR sucks) with no information. Then you walk further to get home!

        You used to have a 15-minute schedule from 11PM – 12:30 AM.
        Now you have a 30-minute schedule. Then you walk further to get home!


      11. …And in what backward universe is replacing “two half-hourly routes 8 blocks apart” with one half-hourly route something you could defend?

      12. But if you could get yourself downtown, you could get yourself back to Ballard.

        Yes, you could get there, and Metro could get you back. It still can! That’s the motto. :-)

        But it’s always been less convenient than driving. It’s only in the really close-in neighborhoods that (Metro’s time penalty) < (hassle of a car), largely for the simple reason that distances are shorter. It's unfortunate that it's crossed some sort of threshold for you now so that you'd prefer to drive. But what Mike said. Because we've under-invested in rail for so long, and put primary emphasis on easy, cheap car access everywhere, the transit system can only make a few neighborhoods comfortably car free, and Ballard was never one of them.

      13. “Rail on wheels,” Martin. “Rail on wheels.”

        Listen, we both agree that things here have always been sub-par. But never in my most fearsome nightmares did I think Ballard would get screwed so badly under the guise of a flagship service implementation.

        Can you imagine if, when Link opened, the 7 had been cut to hourly after 10? Seriously, try to envision that!

        And can you imagine if Link itself went half-hourly after 11?

        Would this blog be equivocating in the slightest over that result? Would anyone take a “wait and see” attitude toward that turn of events?

      14. (Oh, and don’t forget to imagine way-off 15-minute headways on Link most of the rest of day, while you’re imagining those massive cuts to the 7.)

      15. (And for the record, MLK and Rainier are actually closer to one another than 15th and 24th for almost their entire lengths.)

      16. I don’t know where you got the idea we’re happy with headways and implementation of RapidRide.

        The only point this thread is making is that Ballard was never in the circle of neighborhoods where it makes no sense to own a car.

      17. No, Martin, but it was a neighborhood where it was feasible not to own one!

        Now those of us who moved to densifying Ballard because of its formerly usable bus service are left out in the cold—literally!

      18. Again, what Kyle said.

        I know I’ve always been the angsty agitator here, mercilessly berating Metro for its low aims and low standards, but if it hadn’t been feasible to live here car-free I would have moved to Capitol Hill years ago.

        That feasibility is no more.

      19. p.s. Well over half of the people I know living in garageless older Ballard buildings are car-free. In my experience, the rate of car ownership here is only marginally higher than on Capitol Hill.

        (Compare to West Seattle, where pretty much everyone still owns one. Which, along with drastically different densities, is why treating W.S. and Ballard to equal all-day service levels has never made any sense.)

      20. d.p. – there are numerous ways to go out in the evening without depending on infrequent bus service to get back home that are much cheaper than $40-$60 on Zipcar.

        If you’re within a few miles, biking all the way and not worrying about the bus at all is simplest.

        Another option is to bus to where you’re going and leave options open for how to get home. If you’re going somewhere with lots of people around, the odds are quite good that you’ll find someone there who drove who lives near you. Usually, getting a ride home from a social event is not difficult if you ask around. And if no one lives anywhere near you, you can always call a cab for far less money than what Zipcar would cost. Pioneer Square to what you call “Real Ballard” is just over 6 miles. Eastside for Hire charges $2.25 per mile, which comes out to $13.50 for a one-way trip home, door-to-door in 20 minutes. Only suckers blow $40-50 on a rental car for the sake of avoiding a $13.50 taxi fare (which you may not need to pay anyway if you get lucky and find someone there who is willing to drive you home).

        And if all else fails, the bus is still a backup option. Even at half-hourly headways after 11, it does still run.

    1. I was surprised to get this response when I asked, but my friends in the north part of Ballard (15th & 85th walkshed) are actually very pleased with the D – it works better with the needed transfer one of them needs to do so they get a faster commute all the time and a really faster commute some of the time. ‘Course, they also have the real-time info working there.

      1. I sincerely doubt the “needed transfer that works better” is something your friend is experiencing in the evening.

      2. What is so shocking about people along 15th liking D better than its predecessors?

        Not everyone’s going to put the same priority on things like evening service as you do. Hell, I didn’t have any at all even before this last change, but when I did, I found 30minutes entirely workable (an hour less so, admittedly).

      3. Mostly because you said one of their needs was transfer-based.

        As hard as Metro has been straining to market their changes as creating a “connection-based system”, the lack of frequencies and failure of real-time reporting are arguably making transfers worse than they used to be: you can’t accurately plan your trip because you haven’t a clue when the bus will show up until you reach the stop (if the stop even has a working pylon).

        If your friend’s trip involves RapidRide->44 or vice-versa, I could see that working as well or better (at rush hour, or in the very early evening) than it used to.

        Any other two-leg trip that involves RapidRide is almost guaranteed to leave you out in the cold… literally.

  10. The Limo ad in the banner above says we can get a ‘Party Bus’ for only $45 an hour.
    I think Ballard should get some of these as mitigation of getting screwed out of late night service.
    Party Bus leaves Pioneer Square, via Belltown Pubs every 15 minutes after 10 pm. Hop aboard and ‘We’ll get you there’
    Don’t get any ideas about interlining our party buses with the ones in W.Seattle either.

  11. So I have had some trouble finding when rapidride C line arrives at 3rd and virginia going southbound.
    It always says “every 10 minutes” but how can I find out what TIME it is scheduled for?
    I often have the bus pass me across the street and have to wait for the next one.

    1. The long-term solution is to complain to Metro.

      In the short term, try One Bus Away if they’ve gotten real-time info up; otherwise, Sound Transit’s trip planner knows when it’s scheduled for, if you can coerce it into giving it out one trip at a time.

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