70 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Winning for Transit with Grassroots Coalitions”

  1. For those interested in the future expansion plans for Link … including future Satellite OMF facility location options as well as a Core Light Rail System Plan Review … ST has posted them here:


    The Core Light Rail System Plan Review is especially interesting as how they plan to run the trains once the full system is built (Everett to Tacoma and East to Redmond)

    1. Thanks Gordon, fascinating document on why the DSTT is going to be so full of trains at 3 minute headways. Both the Yellow and Green lines from OTC, combined for 6 minute headways is… problematic to say the least.
      Sorry d.p. – No Ballard line for you anymore, when the masses in Redmond crush load the extra trains to Lynnwood.
      So Sad,
      To Bad.

      1. an interesting point is that 3min headways are the max ST is allowed to shove through the tunnel per FRA/DOT/US GOV regulations

      2. So, with all this pent up demand to get from Lynnwood/Northgate to Overlake/Redmond in ST3, which justifies exactly half of the DSTT capacity, I though we should ask the ST trip planner for routes that take us from A-B.
        Northgate to OTC (53 min on MT41 & ST545)
        Lynnwood to OTC (62 min. on CT855 & ST542)
        Lynnwood to Redmond (70 min on ST535 and MT930)
        The last pairing kind of says it all for me. We’re planning on replacing a DART van that has 6 trips in the morning, with a train capable of 600 riders every 6 minutes.
        Anybody see anything wrong here?

      3. 3min headways… per FRA/DOT/US GOV regulations

        Oh, bull. The FRA has nothing to do with subways, The US DOT says nothing of the sort.

        Page 15 of Task 2.3B cites only an unspecified, unsourced, vague “fire/life safety” issue. No further clarification.

        This ostensibly has nothing to do with operating specs. http://www.globaltelematics.com/pitf/SoundTransitCentralLinkOpsPlan.7.29.08.pdf clearly pegs that at a “90-second design headway” to allow “an ultimate two-minute operating headway”.

        More likely, the authors of Vague 2.3B were making some fire-code calculations based on DSTT stairway egress, and then pegging them to an estimated number of ridiculously-full trains. A pretty credibility-stretching way to revise your capacity limit.

        Anyway, arguing 2-minute versus 3-minute headways is a moot point, when the 3-minute headways are born of presuming that Everett needs 4-car trains every 12 minutes, Lynnwood needs 4-car trains ever 6 minutes, and Northgate needs 4-car trains every 3 minutes!

        Have these authors ever been to any of these places!? Lynnwood, in its entirety, has half the population of Ballard. You could hollow the entire town out with that many trains. And we can barely get 500 rush hour commuters to use the Everett train that already exists! Northgate may grow, but it’s hardly going to turn into Times Square any time soon.

        Really, the proof of ST’s sky-pie dreaming is on Task 2.3B’s 14th page: the run time chart. Subway trains making 61, 84, 94-minute one-way trips.

        The word for that is “BART”. And BART — at headways that don’t even come close to these — is tragicomically under capacity.

      4. Ah, watching DP boil over… and a hailstorm outside… and an eagle flying above the trees… nice Sunday afternoon.

        For reassurance, nobody has voted to extend Link to Everett and Tacoma yet. This is, as it says, a “conceptual” map, chock-full of assumptions made in the absence of data or decisions. It’s useful only as a way to guide discussion on what “rail to Everett and Tacoma” means.

        The green line, Lynnwood – Overlake, screams of being an overflow relief line. It’s the only line with no unique stations. I would not be surprised if it were peak-only, deferred, scaled back, or reorganized by the initial opening. The report is focused on peak capacity, and says almost nothing about off-peak service. I assume the red, blue, and orange lines will have a daytime/evening floor of 10 or 15 minutes. In that case, the green line seems unnecessary off-peak. (And I’d better not hear about any 30-minute lines; that defeats the purpose of light rail, (cough) VTA or earlier MAX.)

        There are some surprising things in the long-range map that seem to be out-of-date. It’s like they took a 2005 map and did not update it for changes in ST2. East Link is still shown as “BRT convertable to light rail”. The Ballard-south and Ballard-east lines are shown, but no West Seattle line, even though all three are supposedly in ST2 for planning. There’s no mention of the 130th or 220th stations that are under consideration. There is a Burien-Renton line, shown as part of a Burien-Renton-Lynnwood line.

      5. Typical values for maximum trains per hour in a subway tunnel are in the range of 26 to 33 tph (i.e. around 1.5-2.5 minute frequency). Link tunnels can handle this as well, if properly configured.

      6. I’m going to hijack mic’s silly analysis of Lynnwood-Redmond transit demand to make my own silly point. Look at Metro’s northeast system map and you’d think you could go Lynnwood to Redmond by 535/248 or Lynnwood to Overlake by 535/245. If I had one wish for our transit system it would be for better connections between freeway routes and surface routes. That requires a few freeway infrastructure improvements but… it seems like if there was a focus on it we could take advantage of freeway construction projects when they occurred.

      7. Well played Al. I think they call it TSM, and yes, there’s a lot of little cheap things that could make transit work so much better for many more people.
        I sometimes think I have to hit myself in the face with a hammer before anyone takes notice, so the analogy of the DART bus being replaced by a jammed train do serve a purpose.
        Planning for your maintenance facilities should use the very best and latest information the planners can provide to the consultant. This is current thinking. I find the station locations for ST3 to be interesting. No Lynnwood emerging CBD, and no Alderwood Mall. Next stop after LTC is Ash Creek P&R, 3 miles up the road, then off to Paine Field. These plans have a way of getting set in concrete unless someone yells foul soon enough.

      8. I wouldn’t put any stock in the ST3 stations; they’re just placeholders. ST hasn’t even finalized the stations for the Lynnwood Extension yet. The time to make noise is when ST starts choosing corridors for the alternatives anlaysis.

      9. Chad N, do those ‘typical’ subway tunnels include multiple lines that have non grade separated portions? One of the problems with our system is that by running trains at grade in the RV and on the East Side is that schedules aren’t to the second. Some trains may be faster, some slower, which when spread out over multiple lines really gums up the works, especially when you have windows only seconds long.

      10. Seattleite,

        Yes. Pretty much every high-volume multi-line light rail (or “pre-metro”, to use European parlance) includes branches with at-grade running, generally with much less sophisticated signalization than ours (if any) and therefore even less adherence to a “to the second” schedule.

        “90-second design headways, for 120-second real-world headways” presumes plenty of time for trains to load and clear, even if they are not perfectly, evenly spaced.

        Once again I shall link to this video — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ez8JtYvvlts — and laugh about the part where it calls a train “relatively slow” when it’s running 3 times faster than Link drivers ever do.

    2. I like how they’re seeing the core of the system as the Northgate – International District segment. I am curious if they really think they can get up to 20 trains per hour on that segment.

      Mic the Ballard loop does still show up on the strategic plan map.

      1. Well if the ST2 Plan adopted in May ’07 is any indication (Appendix C-11), System capacity is stated as “The downtown tunnel can support train headways as low as two minutes, but the 2030 ridership would only require headways in the 3 to 4 minute range” (Table 10)
        Capacity: 2 min headways = 8,800 seated, 18,000 comfortable, 24,000 crowded riders per hour on 4-car trains throughout the system.

  2. A man being attacked last weekend on a Phoenix light rail train, which was captured on video, is defended by man with a sword. The man being attacked said he was scared to death, and says he doesn’t feel safe on light rail trains.


    Let’s be careful out there when riding Link! Also, keep all your valuables, including smart phones and ipads hidden away!

      1. Pssst, Zed, this isn’t a dancing blog. That’s a light rail train next to the title of this blog. Nice try, though.

  3. [ at 6:57ish ] “… make it personal. People need to see and meet the people who are riding the bus.”

    The entire video smacks of “concerned citizens” helping the carless poor get around by supporting transit. Just about everything wrong with the way we do transit around here comes from this attitude.

    Long term, real positive changes for our public transportation system will only come if people are shown how to use the system we have and educated about ways to make it more effective and efficient.

  4. Idea for a new RapidRide line: The H Line (I’ve already used the letter G before so on to the next letter). Essentially it is a tunnelized (West Seattle’s first tunnel route), limited-stop version of Route 21 Local between Westwood Village and Downtown.

    Stop List:
    Northbound (to Downtown Seattle):
    -SW Barton St & 26th Ave SW
    -SW Roxbury St & 28th Ave SW
    -35th Ave SW & SW Barton St, SW Thistle St, SW Holden St, SW Myrtle St, SW Morgan St, SW Raymond St, SW Findlay St, SW Dawson St, SW Edmunds St and SW Avalon Way
    -SW Avalon Way & SW Yancy St
    -SW Spokane St & Chelan Ave SW
    -1st Ave S & S Spokane St, S Lander St and S Holgate St
    -Edgar Martinez Dr S & 1st Ave S
    When DSTT is Open:
    -International District Station Bay A
    -Pioneer Square Station Bay A
    -University Street Station Bay A
    -Westlake Station Bay A
    -Convention Place Station Bay E
    When DSTT is Closed:
    -4th Ave S & S royal Brougham Way and S Jackson St (island stop)
    -3rd Ave & James St, Madison St, Union St and Pine St
    -Olive Way & 4th Ave and 6th Ave
    -Howell St & 9th Ave

    Southbound (to Westwood Village):
    When DSTT is closed:
    -Stewart St & 9th Ave and 7th Ave
    -3rd Ave & Pike St, Seneca St and Columbia St
    -3rd Ave S & S Main St
    When DSTT is Open:
    -Convention Place Station Bay C
    -Westlake Station Bay C
    -University Street Station Bay C
    -Pioneer Square Station Bay C
    -International District Station Bay C
    -1st Ave S & S Atlantic St, S Holgate St, S Lander St and S Hanford St
    -SW Spokane St & Chelan Ave SW
    -SW Avalon Way & SW Bradford St
    -35th Ave SW & SW Avalon Way, SW Edmunds St, SW Dawson St, SW Findlay St, SW Raymond St, SW Morgan St, SW Myrtle St, SW Ida St and SW Thistle St
    -SW Barton St & 35th Ave SW and 29th Ave SW

    1. Right idea, wrong corridor. The next West Seattle RapidRide line needs to be the 120, which has about twice the ridership of the 21.

      1. My thoughts, exactly, David L. G-Line is already taken for the 120.

        However, SR Das may be on to something. Based on Metro’s track record so far, they just might continue choosing lower-ridership routes with marquee destinations for Rapid Ride treatment. The mixed-income housing along the 120 has never gotten as much press as the High Point mixed-income redevelopment along the 21.

      2. would the Madison St. high-frequency ETB line be part of Rapid Ride? if so it should be the “M” line

  5. Yesterday, as I was riding my bike from downtown to Fremont, I watched a #40 load up while I unlocked my bike from a downtown rack. In Belltown, I caught up with the bus, as we were both waiting for the same stoplight at the same time. Then, our paths diverged as the bus took Westlake, while I took Dexter, which is must safer than Westlake when you’re on a bike. When I got to the Fremont, bridge, there was the same #40 bus I saw earlier.

    Then, on my way from Fremont to the U-district, I again watched a #32 load up while I waited for the red light to cross Fremont Ave. Even though the bus left about a minute before the light turned green (it was a very long cycle), I still managed to catch up to it in the U-district, while riding a leisurly 12-15 mph on the Burke-Gilman trail. Once in the U-district, I think I pulled ahead of the bus for good since I got to stay on the trail, while the bus had to meander through campus.

    Given that Fremont is more than halfway to Ballard and that this blog has already established the 40 being faster than the D-line to get to Ballard, by extension, this makes “Rapid” Ride officially slower than a bicycle!

    1. Sadly, most urban bus lines (anywhere) are slower than a bicycle pedaled by a reasonably fast rider. 12 mph is a typical average speed for a city bus line. In denser areas, they can be slower — DC’s 52/4 and S2/4 lines average about 6 mph, and NY crosstown buses about 2-3 mph.

      Truly aggressive TSP would be the best way to ameliorate this, but then the Blethens would trumpet to the ends of the earth that the “war on cars” was intensifying, and endorse a bunch of Republicans for the county council. Right now, bus TSP will only hold a light for a few extra seconds, or turn it green a few seconds early. It won’t preemptively interrupt the cycle the way the TSP on Link will.

      The reason you beat that 40 was that it had to wait for the obnoxious set of non-synchronized lights on Westlake. If you had kept going to Ballard, it would have beat you the rest of the way. (The 32 is a different story — you beat it, I bet, because it got caught in traffic on 40th near I-5.)

  6. The City of Redmond is currently removing the rails paralleling Willows road and will eventually be putting in a trail.
    I think it’s called the Redmond Central Connector, North Corridor Phase 2 project, which they hope to begin work on in 2014. My question is, does Bellevue or Kirkland have any plans to turn their old BNSF tracks into trails?

    1. Kirkland absolutely is going full bore on the Cross Kirkland Trail. They purchased the ROW, have had it surveyed and several meeting on the subject since the purchase. It’s been in the planning phase for years. Bellevue, nadda. Purchasing the ROW isn’t even a place holder in the budget.

      1. In Kirkland there’s even been a minor amount of physical work on the corridor. There are a few signs announcing that the Cross Kirkland Corridor and the bridge across NE 68th has a pedestrian walkway (I don’t think any major work was done on the bridge, but the wood surface and fencing looks pretty new). You can walk it easily and bike it in stretches (it’s reasonably passable from about South Kirkland P&R to the path leading up to NE 60th, for example); I even see normal-looking people (not dork-asses like myself) using it pretty often.

    2. So who owns the Bellevue ROW now? Is the county holding it in trust? Is it in danger of falling to a non rail/trail use?

      1. Yes, King County is now the official owner of the property. It was transferred from Port of Seattle ownership not all that long ago. I was surprised to hear Redmond is tearing out the tracks along Willows because, I believe, that section is tied to the northern ROW from Woodinville to Snohomish and was not part of what was partitioned for abandonment. There was in fact an attempt to serve some of the businesses along Willows that could still use rail delivered products (Stoneway Roofing and a lumber yard). Lang Stoves went belly up several years ago and it seems Redmond wants rid of any blue collar type companies. I know Redmond did spend money on the ROW thru downtown so they could build some big ass intersections providing more automobile access to Redmond Town Center.

  7. Went to Sounders game. Walked north to Seneca. Waited 30 minutes for RR D. Encouraged fellow riders to write Metro board members and King County council members. This is just rediculous. Ignore a large paying population in the name of “efficiency”.

    1. Which part are you upset by? The walking to Seneca part? Or the waiting 30 minutes? And what do you want other riders to say to Metro? Do you want the D Line to go by Century Link Field?

      1. He wants the C and D lines split, and the D line to go to the stadiums. Of course, with what money the split is supposed to be accomplished (i.e., what should be cut to make the split happen) is never specified.

      2. I want a bus from Ballard that goes downtown. The 40 is not a bus from Ballard to downtown any more than the old 75 was a bus from Ballard to the U-District. And the RR D only goes though half of downtown. And believe me, there were a bunch of people that were mad at the 15 to 20 minute walk to catch the “improved” RapidRide bus that had a “schedule so frequent you didn’t need a schedule!”.

        I don’t understand why people are all of a sudden claiming that it would cost too much money to split the C and the D. The tradeoffs would be better efficiency, since buses for either leg aren’t getting tied up due to problem on the opposite leg (which happens all day, every day). You can then use that efficiency towards adding the bus or two to allow the C and D to be separate. It’s no different than decoupling the 10 and the 12. It seems like Metro should be willing to spend money on one of the few routes that generates revenue.

      3. It’s pretty straightforward. If you split the lines, you are duplicating service along about a mile of the slowest part of the route, and you have twice as many buses laying over at any given time. Plus, you want the D line to go all the way to the stadiums, which is about another mile of service. At 15-minute frequency, add 2-3 buses for the extra in-service miles and 2-3 more that are laying over. 4-6 buses is an entire half-hourly city route, depending on length. Which one do you want to cut? (And you need even more extra buses at peak.)

        If you split, the buses will get more reliable, but you won’t get one “free” bus out of that, let alone 4-6. Part of the reason RapidRide currently has reliability problems is that the layovers are at the bare minimum; reliability improvements won’t allow you to shorten them further.

      4. The bus doesn’t need to go to the stadiums, I just use that as an extreme example of what the 15/18 used to provide. Have the bus loop around Jackson like the 358 with no layover and optimize the layovers in Crown Hill. But I don’t think it’s the minimal layovers that cause the delays. It’s the fact that it’s a single route that goes indirectly from the north end of the city to the south end of the city, making it one of the longest non-express routes, if not the longest. One little delay here and there gets compounded immensely along the rest of the route.

        Of course I speak from a RR D, north Seattle perspective, but I’m sure RR C, south Seattle riders have their own frustrations and ideas. But to say that Metro shouldn’t add a couple of buses to fix the fatal flaws in what should be their pride and joy is, well, silly. And what about when the RR E comes into service? I don’t think having a couple extra RapidRide buses downtown is that big of a deal.

      5. If you think reliability is bad now, just wait until you try to live-loop a route that goes all the way through downtown in both directions (as well as crossing the Ballard Bridge and waiting at the famous d.p. memorial light at Elliott and Mercer Place).

        Systemwide on-time percentage has suffered notably in the past two years. Part of the reason is relentless cutting of layover time. Up to a point, in a tight funding environment, the tradeoff may be understandable, but live-looping a long route would just be too much. You really need a layover at the south end.

        Right now, the only routes that live-loop in downtown are extremely short Capitol Hill routes, 509 express buses, and the 125. None of those are remotely as delay-prone as RR D.

      6. You bring up a good point about live looping, especially the long way through downtown. So maybe what they need to do is find a layover spot near the 358 layover spot. Space is limited downtown, but if Metro wants to change the RR D from a neutered 15 to an almost BRT line, they would work something out with the City.

      7. Yawn, the 14 and the 11/125 were also split, so Capitol Hill has no one-seat ride to Pioneer Square either except nights/sundays on the 49/7. That’s a minor inconvenience but I wouldn’t call it the end of the world, or an egregious fault that Metro must fix immediately. Pine Street is the center of downtown and has transfers to almost all routes, and the D and 40 serve it directly. So I don’t see why all routes should have to go to Pioneer Square even if they did historically.

    2. Wouldn’t it be funny if Metro went “Oops, I made a mistake” and announced that next February, the C and D-lines go away and all bus schedules revert to what they were in July/August (with the off-board Orca readers remaining bagged up and inoperable for eternity, of course).

    3. Wouldn’t it have been shorter to catch the 40, and then walk 9 extra blocks through beautiful Re-al Ball-ar(d)?

      1. Oh, whoops. The Sounders game was over the weekend.

        The 40 goes into hourly hell even earlier on Saturdays and Sundays.

  8. If anyone from West Seattle is reading this, please read the 2013 SIP proposal before bashing Sound Transit over terminating the 560 at Westwood Village. West Seattle Blog put out only half the story (but I’m glad to see a neighborhood blog cover transit so intently). Yes, the 560 will be terminated at Westwood Village (which, btw, it currently doesn’t serve). But the span of service to West Seattle will be extended to all trips, not just “peak” trips.

    So, study the proposal before getting incited. Some in West Seattle may be out to get the transit agencies, but the transit agencies aren’t out to get West Seattle.

    1. If that gets traction, it will be another Arbor Heights story… the reason ST wants to revise the 560 routing is that no one is riding it with the current routing.

      1. Well, ST did seriously consider extending the 120 to the airport, but the platform-hour math left the service cut off on weekends.

        It is painful to see Ambaum continue to get way overserved, but western West Seattleites don’t seem to want to take the 128 down to TIBS, and several on the blog have discovered the 50+Link connection.

        Frankly, I wouldn’t have such a problem with the 560 doing to the Alaska Junction if it didn’t meander down to the ferry dock, and instead served the Triangle. But the platform hours aren’t there to do that, and it duplicates the 21.

      2. TIB is a nasty concrete-and-automobile jungle on the far side of a low-density area that West Seattlites probably never go through, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they dismiss TIB out of hand; if, that is, they’ve ever considered it as a potential transfer point in the first place. TIB is OK for transferring to a train but is depressing to transfer to a bus, waiting inside all the concrete and car fumes.

      3. I wouldn’t say Ambaum is overserved. Ridership in the Ambaum segment of the 120 by itself is similar to ridership of the entire 21. Northbound buses are often half full before they get to White Center. It’s a relatively high-density, low-income corridor.

        West Seattleites don’t want to use the 128 because it’s indirect and slow. Between the SSCC deviation, the meandering through White Center, and the meandering in the TIBS area, it’s easier, faster, and less frustrating to do 50 -> Link. The 128 (like the 50) is really designed around short neighborhood trips, not through trips.

    2. Transfers from the train are always going suck, be it at TIBS, SODO, or downtown. Still, though – taking transit to the airport and a cab home is a lot cheaper than using the cab both ways.

    1. I don’t know what is the bigger story, how much Link initially under performed, or how much it is over performing in year over year growth. Hopefully both phenomena are being studied so in the future we can minimize the first and continue with the second.

      Either way, Link’s continued growth is great isn’t it?

  9. The southbound bus shelters at 3rd and Pike seem to have been disappeared as of this morning. Anyone know the skinny on that?

    1. I think it’s part of RapidRide. The buses come so often, you won’t even have time to look for a shelter or seat.

    2. The other day, I observed a D-line bus stop at 3rd and Union, then stop again one block later at 3rd and Pike. This is closer stop spacing downtown than every other route I can think of, including those that aren’t “rapid” rides.

  10. A journey in the UK powered by Hydrogen (video).

    Shows refueling at new stations in Nottingham and Isle of Man (Eco Island) and the new production model Hyundai.

    1. Poor Uncle Sam–being somewhat corpulent, of that there’s no argument–
      quite ignorant of trams, spent all the money in his purse, for a
      Hydrogen powered hearse. (He could instead bend those jambs, and not die
      in so horrible a land.)

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