Last night, Mike Lindblom reported on the raging debate at the City Council over the money in the Mayor’s budget to study a streetcar on Eastlake:

Mayor Mike McGinn’s budget proposal for a $2 million streetcar planning study in the Eastlake corridor is running into resistance from the City Council. […]

Tom Rasmussen, chairman of the Transportation Committee, said Tuesday he’s not convinced Eastlake rail is urgent, as the nearby University of Washington will get light-rail stations in 2016 and 2021.

Let’s unpack this a little bit.

Eastlake is a pretty small place, about 4,000 residents in a quarter-mile strip of dense low-rise residential and light industrial, bracketed by the immovable and largely impermeable boundaries of Lake Union and I-5. While most of its local bus and trolleybus* service (66 and 70 in the daytime; 66 and 71/72/73 in the evening) suffers overcrowding at times, that’s primarily due to the terrible design of Metro’s U-District trunk routes (71/72/73), which take over local Eastlake service from the 70 in the early evenings, at a time when those routes are still overwhelmed with riders making longer trips — and who couldn’t care less about access to Eastlake or South Lake Union. Similarly with the 66, most of the peak crowding, in my experience, is riders making longer trips to the U-District or Roosevelt. Partly as a result of service duplication between the 66 and 70, and partly because there’s just not that many people in Eastlake, both routes consistently show up in the bottom third of Metro’s performance reports.

Now, people like trains, and, compared to an otherwise identical local bus service, slightly more people will ride them. But there’s no plausible way that rail bias can get you from two mediocre-to-middling bus routes running at 15- to 30-minute headways to a well-used streetcar (with twice the capacity per vehicle) at 15-minute headways (or better), and any claims to the contrary should be regarded askance. A streetcar service might be slightly faster and more reliable than an improved trolleybus service, which would induce a little more demand, but there’s not enough room on Eastlake for a Link-style exclusive right of way to significantly boost speeds, and vehicle congestion is usually not chronic on Eastlake anyway.

Most of the speed and reliability problems riders experience in this area are due to the (unrelated) overcrowding discussed above, traffic signal delay, or buses having to pull back out in to traffic from behind parked cars. The latter two problems can be addressed with bus bulbs or islands (think SDOT’s treatment of Dexter) and transit signal priority (just like a streetcar), and the crowding will, even if Metro completely fails to ever restructure the Eastlake corridor, partially go away with the opening of University Link, and disappear completely with the opening of North Link. In less than two years, Metro will start to take delivery of low-floor trolleybuses, potentially with passive wheelchair restraint, which will provide faster, almost-level boarding — more akin to a streetcar than the high-floor buses that ply the route today.

I’m convinced it’s realistically possible to provide fast, frequent and reliable trolleybus service which will meet the needs of Eastlake riders, with minor capital improvements to bus facilities, and a budget-neutral rationalization of the bus service on the corridor. For those reasons, I’m with Erica on the Eastlake streetcar’s lack of merit as compared to other projects in the TMP; I’d rather spend these extremely scarce funds on figuring out how best to build rail to a place like Ballard, which really needs it, or on the Madison rapid trolleybus corridor.

But I didn’t just come here to make friends by rubbishing both the Eastlake streetcar proposal and Metro’s current lousy service. Here’s the real kicker in Lindblom’s piece:

Rasmussen supports an amendment, drafted Tuesday, to delay a two-year Eastlake study to 2014 and to shift $1 million next year to help buses citywide.

“I see crowded buses, hear the complaints of people on the bus rides,” he said, recounting his own trip recently on a packed bus to Harborview Medical Center.

It’s funny that Council Member Rasmussen should mention overcrowding on Harborview buses. He was presumably referring to the hopelessly overloaded 3/4 trolleybuses on James Street, which form part of the Queen Anne-Madrona corridor. Metro proposed, but then abandoned, a budget-neutral restructure concept which would have improved service on James Street to Harborview to run every 5 minutes during peak periods, and made the service dramatically simpler and more comprehensible. Shortly thereafter, Metro abandoned a similarly meritorious structure concept in Magnolia.

Then, a few weeks ago, Metro dismissed the RapidRide E Sounding Board, stating that no restructure of north-central Seattle would be required to implement the E Line next year. Implementing the E Line will require a pretty substantial injection of new service hours, to bring the 358 (which currently only runs every 20 minutes on Sundays and every 30 minutes in the evening) up to RapidRide service standards (which stipulate 15-minute headways until 10 PM every day). In response to my questions about how this was achieved without improving efficiency in north-central Seattle, I was told only that this additional money came from the “operations budget”, whatever that means.

The obvious takeaway from all this is that whatever Metro is hurting for, it’s apparently not money in the operations budget, nor a lack of possibilities to improve service. I submit to CM Rasmussen that he should put away the checkbook and pick up the phone, and ask Metro about the seeming lack of urgency in rearranging Metro’s buses to put them where they are needed most. Throwing a million dollars in operations money over the fence fails to address Metro’s structural financial problems (lack of long-term funding and over-dependence on the volatile sales tax), while disincentivizing necessary bus network improvements.

Whatever the Council does with the Eastlake money, the one thing it clearly shouldn’t do is blow it on next year’s bus service. While the more I contemplate the Eastlake streetcar the less sense it makes, the basic premise of the TMP, that Seattle desperately needs to spend money improving the quality (i.e. speed, reliability) of transit service rather than just indiscriminately increasing the quantity is a good one. There is inevitably a tradeoff between benefiting tomorrow’s transit riders versus today’s transit riders (and, for that matter, tomorrow’s bicyclists and pedestrians), and there’s no doubt today’s transit riders are hurting, but with our city growing steadily, we need to stop spending on transit service and start investing in smart, cost-effective ways to make it scale up to the increased demand.

* The 70 is currently dieselized due to the Mercer East Project construction, but should return to trolleybus service early next year.

175 Replies to “What Not To Do With The Eastlake Money”

  1. This smells like Mayor’s Race Politics to me. As you point out this doesn’t stop the Eastlake Streetcar streetcar, it just pushes it back until after the election.

    As you point at the bottom, we need to start investing NOW.

    BTW, I’ve seen no mention on here of the City grabbing 1.75 million in Fed Money yesterday to get the Broadway extension to final design. Glad that is moving forward without council/political interference.

  2. Oh and on Eastlake, I think it is getting sold short. To me it has a decent amount of potential to serve as a housing area for SLU employees. What’s the zoning along the proposed line right now?

      1. It’s the University District, too. They start their neighborhood planning soon. They’ll be upzoned by the time a streetcar could be built, they’ll need it.

    1. The zoning is mostly LR3 on the uphill side and LR2 on the downhill side – it’s already been designated a Residential Urban Village. Some waterfront properties are SF zoned, but it’s a narrow strip the we can disregard.

      What that means on the uphill side is FAR of 2.0, and a height limit of 40′ with an extra 4-5′ available through bonuses (measured from the UPHILL side of the building).
      On the downhill side, it’s FAR of 1.3 with a 30′ height limit (same bonuses available, and still measured from the uphill side).

      Lots on eastlake itself are a mish-mash of multi-use zones, with height limits around 40′.

      Existing old purpose-built multifamily buildings in the neighborhood are 3-4 story apartment buildings with the lower level ramblerized into the hillside, which max out FAR while still leaving roughly half the lot for surface parking. Newer multifamily buildings in the neighborhood are shorter 2-3 story that cover the lot to the minimum setbacks, with ground-level secured garages.

      In all cases, the limiting factor is FAR, not the height limits.

      The FAR gap between LR2 and LR3 needs to be addressed, I think. Maybe make LR2 1.7 in designated growth areas, the way LR3 gets a FAR boost from 1.5 to 2.0 inside these areas. LR2 gets bumped from 1.0 to 1.2, and is the least-dense zoning DPD recommends for growth areas.

      1. To not sound all doom-and-gloom, I should point out that there’s plenty of room for infill from existing single family properties in the LR zones, but a lot of the larger single family structures have already been subdivided into multiplexes internally.

        I think its future is primarily as housing for SLU/U-District workers, and it has the ability to grow alongside SLU, so long as the neighborhoods are properly linked with transit. The 70-series does not serve SLU – it runs as a zero-stop express from Garfield to 9th, leapfrogging all of SLU, all day long. So be wary of anyone that sites the current 70-series utilization as a reason not to tie Eastlake to SLU.

      2. Really? You’re an STB regular and you’ve never heard of the 70-73 locals?

        Anyway, it’s “be wary of anyone who cites 70-series utilization as an ENDORSEMENT of Eastlake as a pressing need”, as Eastlake is 100% irrelevant to what those crowded buses do.

      3. Oh, geez, I just realized your real mistake, and it’s even worse than that.

        Those buses are on re-route for a bunch of months during Mercer/Fairview construction. That’s why OneBusAway shows no existing stops along the normal Fairview route.

        The 70 and 70-series locals do not express by SLU. They normally stop 5 times on Fairview. They currently stop 5 times on the equivalent segment of Eastlake. When construction is over, they will go back to stopping 5 times on Fairview.

        It is baffling that you could be arguing on this subject with such a chasm in your knowledge.

      4. And the 70 serves SLU the rest of the time.

        None of them “run as a zero-stop express from Garfield to 9th” as Lack Thereof claimed.

        Lack posted this link —,-122.3036)_(0) — which shows no stops along the re-route segment… because of the re-route!

        Digital glitch. Not true on the ground. Which Lack would know if he ever used the services in the part of town about which he’s making claims!

  3. I would have to assume that the 71-73 will get truncated to UW Stn in 2016 and the 70 would get beefed up to properly serve Eastlake with some of the savings. All that would happen well before a streetcar could be built, so it seems prudent to let those changes mature, before launching the Slut off to the U district with unknown benefits in relation to large scale cost over the ETB’s.

    1. If I recall correctly, Metro does not plan any changes to the 71-73 when the Link station opens. The station wasn’t designed for transfers…

      1. Well, if Link goes to 6-minute headway in 2016, there will be buses kicked out of the DSTT — roughly half of them, as the remaining bus capacity of the tunnel will be cut in half.

        Right now, they can only get two platoons of buses between each train without degrading travel time through the tunnel. If the trains come that much more frequently, only one platoon of buses will fit between each train.

        If Metro does not eliminate the downtown portion of some routes with the opening of U-Link, the traffic jam upstairs is going to get much worse.

      2. I think it’s likely that Metro will restructure service in Capitol Hill with the opening of U-Link. I’m also hoping that they’ll also use it as an opportunity to restructure the U-District trunk service into a “super-express”. A previous proposal mentioned creating a route 80, which would provide 10-minute service between downtown and Northgate via I-5, 45th/the Ave, and 65th/Roosevelt.

        However, beyond that (which could just as easily happen earlier), I doubt we’ll see a substantial restructuring of north end service until North Link opens.

      3. We can hope for trucation at Brooklyn station – it will not and should not happen at UW station.

    2. I don’t think that restructure will happen until U-District Station opens, although Metro could conceivably reduce 71/72/73 levels of service, or turn one of those three routes into a shuttle (all-day 373 replacing 73?).

      1. David, you may be late to the party, but we’ve geeked out on many occasions playing fantasy route planner with all the Capitol Hill and U-District routes. Just search.

      2. David, as I understand it they’ll likely terminate the 71/2/3 at Roosevelt and take the 70 that far north. An Eastlake streetcar would meet that need VERY well, we could extend it to 65th.

      3. They should terminate the 522 at Roosevelt as well, adding stops at NE 85th and possibly 95th/Ravenna and 110th. (There should be a subway station where Link crosses Lake City Way near 80th/85th, where you could just get off the bus and walk down the stairs, but that’s a different story altogether.) There would seem to be enough layover space just west of Roosevelt under I-5 for the NE routes.

        Since the 522 corridor should eventually be HCT of some sort, the transfer to Link (and Ben’s streetcar extension?) there would be natural. That routing was the original way to head north and east out of the city, and was also the NE subway route voted on in 1968. Roosevelt is a far better and more intuitive transfer point for NE Seattle than Northgate is, simply because of the lack of E-W road capacity in that part of the city and the horrendous traffic in the Northgate area.

      4. Scott and Ben,

        Yes, my understanding is that “Corridor 8” includes service along Roosevelt all the way to 65th. This means that a streetcar would be able to replace the 70 and the south portion of the 66.

        However, looking at the TMP, it seems like the SDOT would like to run Lake City service from UW Station, via Pacific, Campus Parkway, Roosevelt, and Northgate. Which makes sense, since that routing would be able to provide local service along the North Link corridor, and direct service from Lake City to the nearest Link station, and a one-seat ride to the U-District (which is likely to be the most common destination for Lake City riders).

        Either way, I think it’s pretty unlikely that we’ll see any routes terminate at Roosevelt. It’s not really a logical stopping point for anywhere, and it’s not a big enough demand generator to be worth its own routes.

      5. There is one significant advantage to Roosevelt station: less east-west congestion. It’s impossible for a bus to speedily get to U-District or UW stations, but Roosevelt is within 15-minute access of Aurora to Magnuson Park and Maple Leaf, and street improvements could extend that to Loyal Heights.

      6. “run Lake City service from UW Station, via Pacific, Campus Parkway, Roosevelt, and Northgate.”

        In other words, a long detour, which is going to take twice as much time as the 372’s route straight down 25th. Brilliant.

      7. asdf,

        As usual, I want to reiterate that this isn’t my idea — it’s taken straight from the Seattle Transit Master Plan.

        The proposal makes the most sense in the context of North Link. At that point, the fastest way by far to get from Lake City to downtown or the U-District is by transferring to Link. I think that people will readily accept the transfer simply because of the congestion along the route.

        Separately, there is the need for local service between the Link stations. The corridor listed essentially follows the most logical route between each individual station: the 43 route between UW and Campus Parkway, then the 66 route to Northgate.

        No one’s going to take this bus the whole way. They’re going to transfer at Northgate, or they’re going to use a short segment of the route for local travel.

        Until North Link opens, of course Metro will continue running a route that uses I-5 to avoid U-District congestion on the way to Lake City. But I doubt that Metro will reorganize this corridor once in 2016 just to do it again in 2020.

      8. “David, as I understand it they’ll likely terminate the 71/2/3 at Roosevelt and take the 70 that far north.”

        Then there’s no longer any point to considering them as a unit; the 71 turns off at 65th, so it would no longer have any relationship to the 72 or 73. Then there’s the question of how useful the 72 is in its current form if 65th is its southern terminus, or whether or not it’s arbitrary to stop the 73 (or whatever replaces it) at Roosevelt or have the 70 serve the same purpose that far north. (Yeah, 73 riders can transfer to Link or the 70, but it kind of seems like a pointless transfer to me, especially if the 66/67 ends up being no more south of 65th either. The U-District is probably still going to be a major transfer point.)

      9. Thanks for the info, Aleks.

        The 522 should still terminate at Roosevelt after that station opens; the 65 and 75 could be re-routed to serve Husky Stadium station via Montlake, and that should be done in 2016 when the station opens. Yes, Montlake needs some serious work in order for this to happen effectively, but adding a transit lane in each direction between Pacific and U Village should be a huge priority for the City before then. There is room at Montlake to expand the road width, at least from Hec Ed north, and it would seriously help transit from NE Seattle–which, again, has NO downtown service north of 65th or easy transfer to a frequent trunk route. Those routes should not travel through campus once Montlake is improved.

        Both the 75 (directly, though a longer trip) and 65 (three blocks east of Real Lake City :) but a flat walk) would provide service to Link this way in 2016–the 522 can terminate at Roosevelt when it opens and the 75 or a frequent cross-town shuttle can hit the station at 130th when it opens. Now this area of the city can at least utilize rail…until LCW finally gets its own HCT!

      10. Scott Stidell: I agree that terminating the northeast Seattle routes at UW station would be useful for Link riders and help me personally, but it would break Metro’s Dravus Street to Children’s Hospital corridor that it promoted in the last service change. I can’t see Metro turning its back on a corridor that it was just promoting. Of course, it partly depends on how popular this corridor becomes.

        Also, re Capitol Hill restructuring in 2016, yes I do expect that.

    3. If you truncate 71-74 at Husky Stadium Station, the total trip time will increase significantly. Inbound, you have to run from the last stop at NE Campus Pkwy & 12th Ave NE to Pacific & Pacific (stop right outside the Medical Center; the one closer to Husky Stadium). Just to get to 15th you have to detour north on 12th, east on 41st. Or you could move the 71-74’s last stop to Campus Parkway & The Ave (where 65/75 stop) and then you can get to Pacific via Brooklyn.

      From there, best case scenario is 3 minutes. Worst case is probably 8. The you’re looking at a 4-5 minute walk to the station entrance. Add a couple minutes to get to the platform, and then the headway, in case you just missed it. I don’t recall U-Link’s planned headways, but I’ll assume it’s 7 minutes at best due to the Rainier Valley detour. Best case is 15 minutes; worst case is 25. Not a fair tradeoff if you ask me.

      I’m surprised you guys aren’t discussing truncating the 255 et al.

      1. Oh, we have talked in circles many times about having bus routes connect better at UW Station, and about what should replace the SR 520/Montlake freeway stop.

        Metro is avoiding commenting on its 2016 plans except to say that they are not ready to engage in the restructure process yet.

      2. Going by Metro’s past restructuring processes, there will probably be an initial proposal by November 2015 (if the changes are extensive) or February 2016 (if not), a council vote around April or June 2016, and implementation in October. We’ll likely hear nothing from Metro until the initial proposal.

        I highly doubt the 71/72/73 will go to UW station because (1) Pacific Street can’t handle a lot more articulated buses, and (2) it would only be a temporary solution which would force a second reorganization in five years. Metro is most likely to downscale the 71/72/73X as-is (delete the short 73s to 65th, and lower the frequency to 10 min peak/15 midday). It may revive the route 80 consolidation it has sometimes muttered about (combining the 66,67,71X,72X,73X into one route to UW and Northgate).

      3. We need more buses going directly to the station from points in North Seattle, avoiding the need to detour through the U-district and slog down the Ave and campus parkway.

        This means weekend service on the 372, at least to Lake City, combined with greater frequency, plus more trips on the 65. The 243 also serves two important corridors and will get even more important when the UW station opens. Right now, the 243 is allocated so few trips, it’s almost useless. But if it ran more often, more people would likely use it.

      4. Mike,

        Given Seattle’s TMP, it’s possible that Metro will reorganize the main Lake City service to follow Corridor 12 (which includes Pacific St).

        If you assume that the 43 would be deleted (in favor of bringing the 8 and 48 up to RapidRide standards), then consolidating the 72 and 372 in favor of a single Corridor 12 bus would be a zero-sum change to Pacific.

      5. Based on what’s happened with past restructurings, I think it’s highly unlikely the 43 would get deleted, at least right away. Nor do I realistically see the 71/72/73 expresses get deleted because there are too many people who travel between downtown and the western portion of the U-district for whom this would lengthen travel times.

        But I am cautiously optimistic that Metro can find a way to make some improvements here. For instance, weekend service on the 372, plus more trips on the 65 and 75 ought to be feasible, along with some additional 373 runs. As to what to cut to pay for it, the 25 would be at the top of my list, followed by reducing the number of trips on the 71/72/73 trips, as riders who aren’t going to the U-district shift to 65/372->Link to get downtown. It may also be possible to reduce the number of 68 trips, if not eliminate the route entirely, provided enough 372 trips can be added to maintain the existing level of service along the 25th Ave. corridor.

      6. asdf,

        Here’s why I think the 43 is going to get deleted sooner rather than later:

        – U-Link will be the first arterial service which offers a significant time savings compared to the alternatives. People will want to use U-Link to get to and from downtown, because it will be so much faster than dealing with the congestion on Pike/Pine/Olive. So ridership on the 43 will plummet.

        – Unlike the 42 (which was similarly redundant), the 43 has no unique stops. All riders can go to the same stop, and use the 8 or 48 (as appropriate) to get them to the nearest Link station.

        – The 43’s schedule completely uncoordinated with the 8 and 48, meaning that despite each corridor having 8 buses an hour, the worst-case wait time is still 15 minutes (plus delays).

        – Many people think of U-Link as “rich people Link”, so politically speaking, if Metro doesn’t try to delete some of the redundant service, I think many people in the south end will raise a stink (and rightly so).

        Regarding the 70-series expresses, I can’t tell whether you’re talking about a U-Link or North Link restructure. I don’t know anyone who thinks that Metro will delete the U-District express service as part of the U-Link restructure. However, I think it’s almost certain that Metro will delete the all-day express service when North Link opens; if they aren’t able to do so, then something is drastically wrong.

        I do think that Metro will soon resurrect the “route 80” idea, which would combine an all-day I-5 express to the U-District with the northern portion of the 66/67. This would be great for a lot of reasons. It’s much easier (and cheaper) to schedule a single 10-minute route than three 30-minute routes; it would be much easier for riders (especially casual ones) to understand; we’d be able to have a single service pattern 24/7; and the Roosevelt/Northgate corridor definitely has more demand than any of the 70-series tails.

        That said, I think you’re right that there will definitely still be demand for one-way peak expresses between downtown and the tails of the 70-series routes. But that just means that Metro will keep running the 76, 77, and some peak-only 72 equivalent. For all-day service, the 70-series expresses pretty much clear out by the time they get to 65th.

      7. I do agree with your argument that the 43 will indeed be redundant. But Metro has consistently chosen to prioritize making sure no existing riders are worse off with a service change over making other riders better off. I’m sure Metro’s staff will initially propose to cancel the 43, but a few Montlake residents will flood the meetings and scream about they’ll be forced to transfer to get downtown, never mind the fact that it would allow other routes to run more frequently or the fact that most of these people will probably be close enough to either the 10, 12 or the UW station to walk and avoid the transfer anyway.

        With regards to the 42, I don’t think the 42 had any unique stops either. All of its stops on MLK are served by the 8, and the remaining stops are served by the 7. Just like the 42 is eventually dying, the 43 will probably eventually go do – I’ll just be very surprised if it ends up happening right away.

        However, it should be noted that not all cities do things this way. I grew up in Houston, Texas, a city not known for its transit system. In 2004, a light rail line opened, covering a 7 mile segment leading into downtown where a bunch of bus routes converged, and the agency announced a plan to truncate all the bus routes at rail stations when they intersected the rail line. And in spite of lots of media hoopla about how the restructuring was a slap in the face at all the poor people who were suddenly going to have to transfer, the agency ignored the criticism and went right ahead and did it anyway. And around the same time, they even had the guts to get rid of paper transfers, forcing all riders to either use the Houston equivalent of the Orca card or pay twice.

        And 8 years later, when I use the transit system to get from the airport to by parents’ house for a visit, I absolutely appreciate the change. The trains run every 6 minutes and have TSP that actually works, similar to Link along MLK, allowing the trains to move about twice as fast as the buses used to move along that segment. Then, they used the service hours saved by the truncation to boost frequency, promoting buses that that used to run every 20-30 minutes outside of rush hour to every 15 minutes all day until 7 PM, followed by every 30 minutes until midnight (evening service used to be once an hour on those routes). Even though the bus truncation may have been controversial at the time, I can’t imagine anybody wanting to back to the way it was from the way it is now.

        It’s the same here. Truncating bus routes to boost frequency is always going to be controversial at the time. But in the long run, it’s something that riders will be thanking you for.

      8. When North Link opens, the 71 should be truncated to a cross-town shuttle, continuing service on 65th past the Roosevelt Station to Greenlake (and beyond?–it could even travel up the north side of the lake and across NW 85th, although a future crosstown route there might better be located on NE 75th). This would maintain decent service downtown from Wedgwood and enhance connectivity to Link from Greenlake on those days when you don’t want to (or can’t) walk or bike.

      9. Scott,

        If I were in charge of all land use and transit planning in Seattle, I would definitely merge the tops of the 71 and 48 into a single crosstown E-W route.

        However, the TMP does not list the 71’s unique segment (65th St east of 15th) as a transit priority corridor. In fact, it does not even list that segment as a future candidate for frequent service.

        If you think about it, this makes sense:

        – Ridership on the 48N’s unique segment is far stronger than ridership on the 71’s unique segment, and will continue to be so for a long time — meaning that any single bus would either underserve the west, or overserve the east
        – Riders on the 48N are generally heading to the U-District and UW, rather than Ravenna
        – Transferring to Link for one stop is probably not worth most people’s time
        – With the other TMP- and Link-related changes, the 48N could become the only all-day frequent local service on 15th/the Ave between UW and 65th

        So realistically, I would say that the chance of merging the 48 and 71 is pretty much zero.

      10. By the way, I think it’s worth everyone’s time to read through the appendices of the TMP.

        They considered a *lot* of different routing options for pretty much every different corridor. The 48/71 routing was on there, as corridor D1. It was eliminated after Stage 1 for a whole host of reasons, none of which were “it’s different”.

        If we want to make Seattle’s transit network better, the best thing we can do is push for creating RapidRide-quality service on as many of the TMP corridors as we can, as quickly as possible.

      11. The TMP is not binding on Metro, and it doesn’t supercede the recommendations of Metro’s own planners. So let’s not get too excited about exactly which streets and turns are in the TMP. Also, the TMP seems heavily influenced by Metro’s existing routes; e.g., why go from Northgate Way to 92nd and back to Northgate Way. It currently does that because of the traffic bottleneck at Nortgate Way and I-5 and to serve NSCC. But the bottleneck may be gone in 5-10 years when that corridor is fully implemented, and a pedestrian bridge across I-5 could lessen the need for the Ballard-Northgate bus to stop in front of NSCC. There are details like that all over the SMP maps, where people who had no power over Metro’s routing decided to defer to Metro’s current service when in doubt. E.g., the #12’s backtracking from 23rd to 19th. Metro and Seattle may decide later to smoothen some of those things out. And some of the choices in the TMP are rather arbitrary, like how to connect the routes north and south of Mt Baker Station and Jackson Street.

      12. Mike,

        I don’t agree at all that the choices are arbitrary. If you read the appendices of the report, it’s clear that many different corridor possibilities were evaluated on quite a number of different metrics.

        I also don’t agree that the corridors are influenced by Metro’s current routings. First of all, as I mentioned below, almost half of the corridors don’t correspond to any existing single bus route. Some of the corridors include street segments which currently have no buses at all (like the section of NE 45th St immediately east of 15th Ave NE).

        As far as the weird deviations you mentioned, such as the 19th backtracking on the Madison BRT corridor, I think that just reflects the fact that the report wasn’t particularly interested in the 19th Ave corridor. So they added that turnback as a way of reconciling the demand on Madison with the existing service. I don’t see any of those weird deviations on the transit priority corridors which were actually proposed.

        Finally, yes, you’re absolutely right that the TMP is not binding on Metro. That’s where we come in. :) I think that the authors of the TMP did some great work, and that the network envisioned in the TMP would be much better for Seattle than the current “radial spaghetti” that we currently have. Therefore, I think that it would behoove us to urge Metro to implement the TMP as quickly as possible. Unlike the various ad-hoc route structures that we’ve come up with, the ones proposed in the TMP are backed by lots of real data. Therefore, if we ask Metro to implement those routes, we’re on much firmer ground than if we ask for random restructures based on our own anecdotes.

    4. Why not do some enhancements for the 70, bus bulbs, etc and add a 70X that follows the same route, but doesn’t stop on Eastlake and runs in the tunnel. Run both of those suckers every 10-15 minutes (every 5 minute during peak for the 70X). If they 70X runs all day, they could work in tandem like the 40/41 do now.

      The 71/72/73 would then all truncate at or around Campus Parkway ALA the 373. Then the 71/72/73 could all be timed as demand allows rather than on fixed schedules that relate to downtown.

      The 70X would of course go away when the UW Link Station opens in 202X.

      1. If you want better Eastlake service, support what’s on the table and let’s build rail. It’ll carry more people and be more cost effective to operate.

      2. I love rail and want much more rail in the city. However, I think the Eastlink rail proposal should be at the bottom of the list of rail projects if money is currently an issue, which it is. Especially if a slight revision to buses in the area could improve the overall service as a cheaper, temporary option. Eastlake just doesn’t have the density to justify rail currently compared to other potential corridors.

      3. Anon,

        The only rail projects on Seattle’s table are this one, Corridor 11 (Ballard via Westlake), and the center city connectors. Corridor 11 is highest-priority, followed by Corridor 8, followed by the center city connectors. I think that’s the right order for what we’ve got.

        There’s no question that rapid transit to Ballard via 45th is on the top of my list. However, if it gets built, it will probably come from Sound Transit, not Seattle. So it’s not really competing with an Eastlake streetcar in any way.

      4. Eastlake is my primary bike route to downtown and I do not want rail destroying this route, in favor of a streetcar that, in traffic, is inevitably going to be slower than a bike.

        (Theoretically, we could make room for the streetcar and bikes simultaneously by getting rid of parking, but the political uproar of getting rid of such parking would probably be too much, leaving everyone who bikes between the U-district and downtown screwed.)

      5. “The only rail projects on Seattle’s table are this one, Corridor 11 (Ballard via Westlake), and the center city connectors. Corridor 11 is highest-priority, followed by Corridor 8, followed by the center city connectors. I think that’s the right order for what we’ve got.”

        Corridor 8 should be higher priority than the other two combined, and supporting a subway to Ballard in whatever way the city can should be higher priority than all three combined. I can only support corridor 11 as a normal streetcar to Fremont as opposed to a homeless man’s replacement for a real train to Ballard, and the center city connectors as presently proposed are an iffy replacement for and may ultimately preclude a Belltown-Queen Anne streetcar.

      6. Morgan,

        First, be careful you’re not making the endpoint fallacy. A streetcar along Westlake/Leary is useful for a whole host of trips. I would definitely use it to get between Fremont and Ballard, for example.

        I think this should be higher-priority for the simple reason that, while it’s not designed for trips from downtown to Ballard, it will do a passable job of providing that service while we wait for Ballard Link to be funded and designed and built.

        Second, I completely agree that Ballard Link should be the highest priority. But that’s coming out of Sound Transit’s budget, not Seattle’s. I don’t know if it’s even possible for Seattle to ask to speed that up. Needless to say, I fully support everything that Seattle Subway is doing on that account. My point is just that the Westlake/Leary streetcar is not competing with Ballard Link in any meaningful way, and we shouldn’t oppose the former just because we’d prefer the latter.

      7. The fear among several of us is that if we do build the downtown->Ballard streetcar, everyone will assume that because it’s a train, it’s good enough, therefore making the billions of dollars it would take to fund real rapid transit to Ballard unjustified.

        I think people like d.p. would be more supportive of this if they could be somehow assured that it’s going to happen in addition to, not instead of a real rapid transit line.

      8. And I’m sure d.p., like myself and the rest of Ballard is worried that Seattle will declare the Ballard>Fremont>SLU streetcar as mass transit/LRT and sing it’s praises while Ballardites still struggle to get to and from downtown efficiently and quickly.

      9. …Or to and from anywhere else.

        Seattle is great at singing the praises of stuff that obviously sucks, ain’t it?

  4. You are definately right, Bruce. The more we think about it, the less sense it makes to implement a streetcar along Eastlake. I am thankful that someone on the city council spoke up and had the objectiveness (or not) to legitimately analyze the functionality of a rail line in that corridor.

    Current bus service, I believe, is sufficient along Eastlake. Though I am not in favor of the 71/2/3 serving Eastlake after 7. When they do this, service actually increases in the evening along Eastlake versus during the day (which makes no sense). However, I must admit that each time I see a 70 during the day, it is usually full or moderately loaded. Saturday headways are an overkill. Much of the ridership in the corridor is due to SLU employment. So 15 minute service on Saturdays is inefficient.

    Seattle’s transportation planning & infrastructure is already a byword amongst the region. Lets not allow the SLU extension to Eastlake give further justification to critics’ scrutiny.

    1. This is the old argument that if we can do it with a bus then why build rail. This is the same argument that we heard about seattle to seatac. It’s true, you can do everything with buses. But the interesting thing is that we have a streetcar going to SLU and it’s interesting enough that Amazon is subsidizing part of it’s operating costs. Perhaps someone should ask the company currently utilizing it to see what they want. Obviously a bus would have sufficed but I don’t think I ever saw Amazon jump up want to subsidize a bus. Did they? Perhaps their employees would like to ride the light rail from Northgate and transfer to the SLU to work as apposed to riding all the way to Westlake then backtracking… I see the SLUTs ridership going up by quite a bit if it connected to the U-District not because of the people living in Eastlake but because of the people wanting to go to SLU from the north or even just people who don’t want to walk a mile or more to find a Light rail station to go to Westlake. Link stations are a really long way apart. Is it worth the money? Of course not but transit is NEVER worth the money but it provides a valuable service…

      1. Amazon runs their own shuttle system that includes building-to-building routes and transit hub-to-campus routes (Coleman Dock and the tunnel).

      2. I think it’s not a matter of just settling buses, but a matter of deploying the limited resources we have to build HCT to areas that need it more.

        I also think Eastlake has substantial potential for more density. But I can recognize the validity of Bruce’s argument; certainly I think developing true HCT to Ballard or even the Fremont streetcar is a much better use of tax dollars.

      3. “…transit is NEVER worth the money but it provides a valuable service.”

        Then let the people who are getting that “valuable service” pay for it.

      4. @Norman: Define “use”. I consider transit “users” to be a broader group than transit “riders”. Examples: 1) When you patronise a business that pays its employees low wages, at least some of those employees probably came to work by transit. If transit didn’t exist, the business would have to raise wages, in turn raising prices, in order to have employees who can afford cars. 2) Think of the youngest and oldest generations in your family or circle of friends. The youngest can’t drive due to the law, and the oldest may have lost their ability to drive for various reasons. Surely, even as a non-rider of transit, you benefit by its being available for them. 3) If less other people are driving cars, traffic goes smoother for you when you drive.

        It’s just like something I explained to someone else recently. I am a dyed-in-the-wool heterosexual, but I’m not offended when I see two men kissing. Reason: if two men are kissing, there’s two more women out there for me!

      5. @Norman – “…transit is NEVER worth the money but it provides a valuable service.”

        “…highways are NEVER worth the money but it provides a valuable service.”

      6. “Obviously a bus would have sufficed but I don’t think I ever saw Amazon jump up want to subsidize a bus. Did they?”

        There was a bus already, or actually two of them, the 17 and the 70. But Paul Allen wanted to jump-start a streetcar like the Portland Streetcar, and Amazon went along with it. Companies do subsize extra runs on other routes, most notably the 8. I don’t know whether Amazon specifically is sponsoring the 8, but somebody is.

    2. The current bus service is infrequent enough you can be halfway across University Bridge, walking, before a 70 catches up with you, and that’s before the rush hour randomly cocks up the schedule. You can play the walk-a-ways to the 70/66 stops and hope you can catch either or, but those buses go to different destinations, and the 66 is so infrequent that you’re usually again just better off walking. (Or driving, if that’s your ethical cup of tea, which many seem to do in lieu of the supposedly sufficient bus service.)

      1. So…. we should replace that bus service with a mixed-traffic train at identical frequency that you could ALSO outwalk?

    3. It’s insane to keep the 71/72/73 local evenings rather than switching to the 70 full time. Whatever ridership there is between Eastlake and the U-district, it’s probably not going specifically to Wedgwood, Lake City, and Maple Leaf over other places. It’s certainly not going to Wedgwood, Lake City, and Maple Leaf in the evenings more than in the daytime.

      1. The thing is, those through-routes really don’t hurt anything. I’ve spent a *lot* of time driving those routes, both during express and local times. The parts between NE Seattle and UW run on time, every time, and are well-used but not overcrowded. If you broke them up during no-express times, you’d have the same overcrowding and delays that exist now on your new 70 trips, and nothing would really be fixed.

      2. The parts between NE Seattle and UW run on time, every time

        You’re kidding, right? Please tell me you’re kidding.

      3. Nope. I can’t remember more than one or two times, driving those routes 3 or so days a week for more than a year, when I got to Roosevelt more than a minute or two late from a north-end terminal. Most of the time I had to lollygag to avoid running early.

        Now in the other direction, it’s a completely different story — but that’s entirely because of the downtown-U District portion of the route, not the north end portion.

      4. Sorry, but no.

        Poor coordination of individual routes, each prone to every run-of-the-mill Metro delay, is why the “interlining as a solution to very high demand” thing fails so completely on the trunk route from the U-District south. Late individual buses that become terribly bunched trunk buses are epidemic morning, noon, and night.

        Go here:
        Go right now. I’ll wait.

        This is normal.

      5. It is notable, David, that you say that you were never late to the U-District driving those routes.

        Have you used them much when others had control of the wheel.

        I get a lot of flack here for claiming that some drivers drive like the don’t care about speed, or just sort of suck at their jobs. Extra trouble pulling out into traffic, extra likely to miss lights, extra chatty.

        This is a hazard of any transit where the technology/ROW don’t help to guide and standardize operating procedures. But Seattle seems to have a disproportionate share of drivers who don’t pass muster, and who are therefore habitually late for no acceptable reason.

        It sounds like you were an excellent driver, and therefore had no troubles on the least troublesome southbound section of these elsewise entirely troublesome routes.

        Riders whose experiences are effected by drivers other than you are not so lucky.

      6. It also makes the system more complex. There should be one frequent route in that corridor, so that it can be listed simply on a schedule without several footnotes. This helps both visitors and occasional riders, and makes people feel the transit system is more effective.

      7. d.p., I think David’s observation is something very specific, which is that an individual bus, starting on time from its terminus in Wedgwood or Lake City or Jackson Park, will generally make it to 50th and University Way at the scheduled time.

        There’s a million other problems with the current setup, all of which would be greatly improved if there were a single route which was always express. As Mike mentions, there’s the legibility issue; a single 24-hour route would be far more comprehensible than the five different routes we currently have (70, 71, 72, 73, 83) — six, if you count the turnback 73s. There’s the scheduling issue, which is that it’s much easier to create a reliable schedule with one 10-minute route and 2 endpoints than three 30-minute routes and 5 endpoints. There’s the fact that moving the bulk of service from Eastlake to I-5 would be (mostly) faster, and therefore cheaper.

        But if you did create that super-express, and you wanted to extend it north — to Roosevelt or Northgate, for example — then, so long as you only had a single route and a single pair of endpoints, I agree that the north segment wouldn’t have much of an effect on reliability.

        It’s the branching that creates the problems, not the fact that the bus continues north.

      8. I can only imagine that either something horrible happened that day or that the scheduling has gotten much worse since I drove them (which I wouldn’t doubt). I don’t even know how I would have ended up 9+ minutes late at 65th/15th southbound on any of those routes, except maybe the 73 with a Breda when I got a wheelchair and also had to make every single uphill stop on the 15th hill…

      9. That was today. I screengrabbed it less than 5 minutes before I posted the link.

        When I posted a direct (real-time) like to that stop ID yesterday at 3:44, it was much the same: a 14-minute late bus and a 5-minute late bus were both about to arrive.

        It’s a very regular occurrence, and has been so since I moved here in 2006 (before the schedules tightened).

    1. You mean did NOT have issues, right? It seems a whole lot better than the empty 24 and the empty 61 that we have today.

      1. The 24 isn’t empty. It’s the best-used of the three Magnolia off-peak buses, and was only barely flirting with lowest 25% in 2010 despite the long and winding route. And it’s already been restructured some to put it on 3rd.

        Sticking the population center of Magnolia on a one-way residential loop is pretty dubious, and disconnects people from local stores, churches, schools etc.

      2. And I doubt there’s actually much pent-up 61 demand to go to Magnolia if there isn’t any now to go to core Ballard. (Heck, the 61 doesn’t even go past the high school, which is where you have guaranteed MagnoliaBallard demand).

      3. There were no one-way loops in the restructure that I can recall. Just direct services to the north, south, and east for the first time ever.

      4. Different people are remembering different things. I remember a route on 32nd, abandoning 28th completely (although there would be a new peak-only route on 28th). Others are talking about a one-way loop. There may have been multiple proposals at different times.


        See 24 and 33.

        The densest part of Magnolia is obvious from Google Maps satellite view – it’s not really on the new 24 route, considering the hill. In addition, a lot of the area between the 24 and 33 uses both buses interchangably in a pinch, especially to get home – this would definitely reduce total frequency to the area and peak capacity might be a concern.

        Not to say there aren’t good ideas involved, but caution seems advisable. I heard at the meeting last night that they’ll be looking next year at making stop placement in that part of Magnolia (i.e. maybe the closed school doesn’t need one)…

      6. I think DJR is referring to the proposed 33 loop, which would indeed have encompassed the entire area of highest residential density in Magnolia, and which would not go to Magnolia Village.

        The thing is, it’s not like a ton of people are accessing local businesses on the 24 from 28th. A few are, but it’s not common.

        Here’s another idea, DJR. How about if the 24 did the loop, serving 34th outbound and 28th inbound (and thus carrying people up to 28th from Magnolia Village, while allowing them to walk down to it from 28th/Newton), and the 33 were sent onward to Ballard and Sunset Hill? That would require a few residents along Gilman to walk a few blocks to a bus stop, but would mostly take care of the intra-Magnolia problem you identify, and could assuage residents worried about sufficient peak capacity on the proposed 33 loop. It would also provide an easy transfer from the 24 loop to Ballard at 28th/Blaine.

      7. Why not the 31, perhaps on an altered route that parallels the 32 for longer? It already terminates in the Village, it’s already half-hourly, it seems poorly used at present… okay, it would look silly on a map, but it just might work…

        (sadly, I think the 61 kind of skirts the areas of Ballard that would have the highest Magnolia demand, but there’s probably no way to get it to hang a right on 65th)

      8. No Magnolia routes will ever be frequent enough for a transfer at a rainy residential intersection like 28th/Blaine a workable option, David.

        If the point is as close to a grid-like system of connections as the geography will allow — rather than focusing entirely on downtown, as DJR is — then it makes no sense to place the new Magnolia-Ballard connection a mere 0.4 miles from the parallel D corridor, still requiring another connection to make any headway into the bulk of Magnolia.

        The problem is that the single “obvious on a Google Map” high-density development where DJR clearly lives is actually high-density-for-automobiles by design. Steep, winding, unconnected streets, plenty of parking behind.

        Like it or not, this place was constructed for people to enjoy the Magnolia quiet and especially the Magnolia views without having to earn the fortunes to own a house in the area. Which is perfectly commendable. But it was the ’60s and car-ownership was expected. This place was not sited for transit, and transit will never be able to serve it well.

        It’s worth doing what’s best for the rest of Magnolia east of 34th, which has consistent mid-range density: tightly-arranged bungalows with plenty of multi-family and mid-rise interspersed, especially on the eastern slope.

        And look! In its efforts to avoid the Nickerson overpass, the revised 24 was proposed to use Dravus (clearly Metro thought it could make the turns)… so the connection would wind up serving the eastern slope anyway!

      9. Magnolia quiet? On that slope? Right by the rail yards? XD

        d.p., I watched an entire 19 bus transfer to a 31 from their broken-down bus yesterday and then transfer again SRO onto a 24 at 28th & Blaine to get downtown :) “Taking the first bus up the bridge” is a time-honored Magnolia tradition because our buses are so unreliable. About any time you have two Magnolia buses close enough to hit the same stop after the bridge a couple people trade. It’s admittedly more of a informal P&R than a transfer point, but… at peak you get some transfers either there or at the 24/33 divergence very close by. Generally of the “two buses, same stop” variety because of the high peak frequency and habitual lateness of our buses, but I definitely use that area as a transfer point.

      10. The existing 33 and 24 already serve that multi-family area rather well. The sidewalks are a bit narrower than ideal. And of course it’s on a big hill. But there is a main arterial, Manor Way, to walk up and down. And the whole idea of the 33 loop was to take that hill out of the equation by ensuring that the vast majority of users would always be walking downhill both to and from the bus.

        Given existing ridership patterns on the 24 and 33, which draw extremely heavily from that area, I find it strange that you would want to shortchange it to improve service to parts of Magnolia that have fewer actual riders, even though in theory it is easier to walk to the bus stop.

      11. If anyone wants to talk to actual Magnolia bus riders about Magnolia bus issues, a group’s working on inviting a Metro representative and possibly someone from the Council to a small event Monday after next, probably at the Magnolia Library at 6:30. I don’t think the details have been totally nailed down yet.

      12. I went to the small event last night (, which had more than 15 people, many transit-dependent, in the pouring rain, including representatives from the Transit Riders Union. There was supposed to be a Metro representative but he backed out. Almost exclusively 24 riders, there was a guy who works at Daybreak Star who mentioned that the 33 tail is subsidized (Tribally? Wasn’t clear) which I wasn’t aware of. Service until 10:30 has apparently been promised by Metro in Feb, people feel they need it sooner and 10:30 is not late enough. One fellow would use d.p.’s much maligned service if he could but sadly the Locks close at 9.

        Night service #1 priority. The crowd was remarkably fatalistic about reliability, I noticed. It was mentioned that Metro was going to study stop spacing next year – probably could do some good on the east parts of Magnolia. The Viewmonts are imho fine, stop spacing is close but it’s not slowing anything down here.

      13. I was squinting at an old transit map recently and I realized the 24-equivalent started as a one-way loop, but it used to stay more uphill and turn south by the present Met Market instead of going down Government to the streetcar. I’m not necessarily against one-way loops in all circumstances – they potentially have some use in Magnolia for late night service (i.e. running the 24 around to the village, then sending it back downtown on the 19 route might make sense if it could get us back to 30 min night service and rider convenience added up for both workers getting out of Magnolia and people getting home from downtown).

  5. I would agree that there’s no reason that the Eastlake corridor should go to the front of the line at this point. I’m also glad to hear Metro is backing off on a big restructure around the RRE implementation. It seemed like they were headed for a difficult time of it and I don’t think anyone would call the last service restructure a glowing success. If anything they proved that they can’t be trusted (at least yet) to pull off a transfer-based system.

    1. I don’t get it. The TMP shows clearly that Eastlake should be right there with Ballard. Our opinions don’t override that.

      1. Our opinions can very much override that if we make them clear enough to the council. And I have to say Ballard does need HCT before Eastlake does.

      2. The TMP clearly and unambiguously says that Ballard/Westlake rail is a higher priority than Eastlake rail. I don’t think anyone would argue that point. But my understanding is that it’s much cheaper to plan and build two corridors in parallel than it is to speed up one corridor. So if we’ve got the money to start them both now, why not?

    2. If anything, the City has shown it can’t be trusted to lend a helping hand to make a RapidRide route truly rapid.

      Has the City done its part to give the 358 as much continuous bus lane and signal priority as possible, with in-lane stops, and proper electrical connection for the RTA signs and ORCA readers? Or has the City gotten in the way by pushing to add *more* stops?

      1. It’s Shoreline that pushed for keeping all stops on RR E. Seattle’s been a bit more neutral.

      2. Brent, not sure of the source of your information, but each point is inaccurate. To set the record straight: The City recently added BAT lanes to the 358/E Line on Wall and Battery streets and to Aurora south of the bridge. The City is currently leading a traffic analysis study that will identify additional BAT lanes for the 358/E Line. The City is also funding not only additional electrical connections but several actual RTIS signs and ORCA readers on the 358/E Line. As well as working towards aggressive signal priority on Aurora and elsewhere. The City has never formally requested added bus stops on Aurora. On the contrary, our transit plan calls for fewer stops, something SDOT has been supporting and encouraging on most high ridership Seattle routes.

      3. Shoreline has built full-time BAT lanes along the entire route [1], and promised TOD at every station. Both of those mitigate and help justify its close stop spacing. Seattle has peak-only BAT lanes on parts of it, no promises of TOD, and still hardly any stops were chopped. How about Seattle start thinking about a small parking lot or garage to replace the parking lanes in the small-business districts.

      4. I have to say, the “political boundary” on Aurora really bothers me. I understand that there are reliability problems with running long routes, but it really does seem unfortunate that someone who’s starting 10 blocks south of Aurora Village TC, and going 10 blocks north of it, has to take two buses.

        If there were any way at all to integrate Swift and RapidRide E, I would give it all my support. Couldn’t we get Sound Transit to take it over or something? Run a combined service?

      5. One solution to the county break is to move the Aurora Village TC to the Shoreline P&R (192nd), as both Shoreline and Seattle assume the agencies might move someday. I haven’t heard anything about bus routing in that case, but I can see Swift taking Aurora down to 185th, then turning east nonstop to 185th station. RR E could do a hook, extending its existing route via Meridian and 185th to 185th station. Passengers continuing northbound or southbound would get off at the Shoreline TC and wait at the same stop for the other bus, with no detouring off Aurora.

        If the agencies try to terminate the routes at Mountlake Terrace station, things would get more complicated. Metro could simply extend RR E in that direction. That would partly duplicate the 347, leading to a bit of overservice. Swift would be more traumatic because it may just bypass King County completely and go directly on 104 to MT station. That would make the transfer even further from Aurora than it is now, unless RR E went further into Snohomish County, but it would have to go all the way 228th to get around Lake Ballenger.

        Finally, the border transfer is most significant for Shoreline – Edmonds trips rather than longer distance trips. Most people I know make longer trips like Greenlake – northwest Lynnwood or Ballard – Shoreline CC. In that case, the border transfer is minor compared to rest of the travel time. So the question is, how many people do make Shoreline – Edmonds trip compard to longer trips? Is there really that much in Shoreline that Edmondsites want to go to or vice-versa? (Of course, many of the longer trips would be superceded by Link, especially if RR E is not significantly improved.)

      6. Aleks, there’s another problem with integrating Swift and RR E, which is the sheer length of the route. The 358 has length-related reliability problems as is. Extremely high-ridership routes on busy arterials are the most delay-prone city routes to start with. Throw in 12-mile length, and you have a recipe for delays. You’d make it twice as bad by making it 25 miles long.

    3. I was hoping the Queen Anne restructure and the Central District restructure would come back next year as part of RR E, even if modified. If that’s not going to happen, then when will Queen Anne and the CD get a plan B?

      1. I’m not sure the CD wants a plan B unless it’s “the status quo”, but I would expect the CD at least to get one when Cap Hill station opens.

      2. Based on my conversations with various people about the restructuring, I think that the biggest objection to the restructure was the loss of service along Seneca from downtown.

        The loss of the 4 will affect some people, but there are very few unique stops, and Metro made similar changes to services in West Seattle and Ballard that survived just fine.

        Similarly, Metro changed a number of through-routes; riders on the 12 lost service to downtown, just like the 2 riders were going to. These were classified as administrative changes. Metro could easily apply the same trick that they did for the 14.

        However, the segment of the 2 from 3rd to 12th is not served by any other bus. And since it’s in First Hill (and serving Virginia Mason), there’s undoubtedly quite a number of riders who really can’t walk 2 hilly blocks to another service.

        I predict that the future restructure along that corridor will look something like this:

        – Move the 11 to an all-Madison routing, and alternate the 11 and 12 to provide the desired level of service on the First Hill segment
        – Delete the 2N and replace it with the 13 (as before)
        – Delete the 4 and replace it with the 3 (as before)
        – As an administrative change (i.e. no public comment), break the through-route of the 2S and the 13. Have the 2S live-loop in downtown like the 10 and 12 do, and through-route the 13 with whatever they were planning to through-route it with before.

        People will still complain, but I think Metro will be able to stick up for this one, the same as they were able to get the 10/12 split through despite opposition.

      3. There was also a big hubbub about the 4S from Center Park residents, who have a long tradition of vocal activism.

        And I think they’ve got a point, at the moment. Getting from the southbound 7/48 stop to Center Park is a bit of a nightmare even for fully able-bodied people. But if there were to be changes to the intersection of Rainier and Walker to make it reasonably navigable by people with disabilities, they wouldn’t have a point anymore.

  6. I never understood how the eastlake streetcar in the TMP was going to improve service. The streetcar was not getting its own lanes, still had to use the bridge, ect. This corridor seems perfect for a BRT style trolley bus. You could make the buses just as reliable and frequent (or more frequent) as a streetcar for way less money. Just add TSP to each intersection, bus bulbs, and off board fare payment.

    1. We could call it (Really)RapidRide. The extra R makes it faster, but what color scheme to choose?

      1. I vote for “RapidRide Type R”. A “Type R” sticker makes anything go faster; just ask any kid with a Honda.

      2. Make sure it’s through-routed to Tukwila and skips half of downtown. Maybe have it get on I-5 at Yale St. That way it’s more useful and efficient!

  7. One thing to consider is that this streetcar is potentially going to be the only HCT transit that SLU has for the foreseeable future. As that area grows it may make sense to invest in extending the street to other transit nodes.
    That being said, I really think the Mayor and City Council need to figure out how to get grade-separated light rail to the NW portion of the city. That should be priority 1.
    And the $1 million to Metro? That’d be money down a rathole. They’d just use it to keep the 42 running.

    1. $1 million to Metro? That’d be money down a rathole. They’d just use it to keep the 42 running.

      QFT. One of the big reasons we need to move forward on transit aggressively at the City level, is that the County has demonstrated they cannot acceptably serve Seattle’s transit needs. If RapidRide is the best Metro has to offer, I’ll take my chances with an SDOT-planned streetcar, thank you very much.

  8. Not quite on-topic, but the names of the last two posts make an interesting juxtaposition in my RSS reader:


    I’m sure Eastlake residents would not be happy if someone tried to use it there…

    1. Fixing that nearby Bellevue/Bellevue/Bellevue (CT/PL/Ave) intersection might be a worthy effort.

    2. Reminds me of the time Seattle came up with the slogan Metronatural. Wonder how much that cost them.

      Aw, man. October 20 was Metronatural Day and I didn’t even celebrate it.

  9. As a former Eastlake resident who took the 7X/70 multiple times a day I completely agree. I think that the $2 million dollars should not be spent on an Eastlake study, but I would like that money to stay in the planning/design silo for speed and reliability projects. $2 million dollars can go a long way in planning and begin design work on a lot of worthy speed and reliability projects.

    One project I would offer up is a citywide transit signal priority study, to look at which signals and/or corridors should get upgraded signal equipment so TSP can be implemented.

    1. Yes! We need more focus on TSP, more money for its development, and the willingness to use it far more aggressively even when it may slightly increase car travel times. And we have a good first example right here in town: Link on MLK. Anyone who hasn’t ridden it should go and ride a few times… the effectiveness of the TSP there is a revelation. If we could make it that good in a bunch of other corridors, we could make transit far more effective, both by reducing travel times and by allowing the same equipment and drivers to make more trips.

      1. We don’t have anybody coming out to city council meetings asking for that. Until you fix THAT problem, it’s just armchair planning.

      2. Ben TSP and other speed and reliability improvements are not “armchair” planning, they are established tools that are being used around the city (Rapidride, Link, 44, etc.) to speed up transit service.

      3. I think Ben is saying that we won’t get any TSP unless we agitate for it, not that planning for TSP isn’t useful.

  10. Don’t waste the money on buying a year’s supply of fish, Councilmember Rasmussen. Invest in enabling Metro to fish better in perpetuity.

    We need the buses to be *faster*, not to have more of them stuck in the same traffic jam. 3rd Ave is already beyond capacity.

    Please reject this short-sighted amendment.

    1. Metro learning to fish may be counter-productive, as fishing involved a lot of sitting and waiting.

  11. “But there’s no plausible way that rail bias can get you from two mediocre-to-middling bus routes running at 15- to 30-minute headways to a well-used streetcar (with twice the capacity per vehicle)”

    What sort of streetcars have “twice the capacity” of a bus? The S.L.U.T. has the same capacity as a 60-foot bus with the same number of seats as the S.L.U.T. The S.L.U.T. has about 1.5 times the capacity of a 40-foot bus.

    Is the city comtemplating operating “streetcars” the same size as Link light rail cars, with a capacity of 132, compared to a capacity of 60 for a 40-foot bus, or 90 for a 60-foot bus? Because the S.L.U.T. certainly does not have nearly the 132-person capacity of a Link car, since the S.L.U.T. is only 2/3 as long as a Link car.

    1. Your obtuseness on this issue makes me want to bang my head against my desk. A streetcar has the same *seated* capacity as a 60-footer. But it’s wider, longer, and has way, way more space to stand. Saying it has the same capacity fails the laugh test.

      I’m not sure if a one-car streetcar would have quite twice the effective capacity, but it would be close.

      1. That’s absurd. A streetcar is slightly wider than a bus, but not much, if any longer, because of the 2 driver cabs on a streetcar, which are eaqch longer than the driver area of a bus or the engine compartment in the back of a bus.

        If a bus and a streetcar have the same number of seats, there is virtually the same standing space on a bus as on a streetcar. The S.L.U.T. does not have as many seats as most 60-foot buses, so you are wrong about that, as you are about your other assertions.

        Have you even every ridden the S.L.U.T? Where is has forward or rearward facing seats there are two seats on one side of the aisle and only one seat on the other side of the aisle. Most buses have two seats on each side of the aisle, which makes for more seats and less standing space. I think each S.L.U.T. has fewer than 40 seats, whereas most articulated buses have close to 60. Saying the S.L.U.T. has the same number of seats as most articulated buses fails the laugh test. Again, have you ever actually ridden on the S.L.U.T.? Where did you get that ludicrous idea?

        And, again, the passenger compartment on a S.L.U.T. is not much, if any longer than that of an articulated bus, and the difference in width is minimal.

        Perhaps you can provide us with the number of seats on each S.L.U.T. and on articulated buses, to prove that you know what you are talking about. It is obvious to me that you don’t have a clue.

      2. Actually, the S.L.U.T. is narrower than a New Flyer 60-foot bus. The bus is 102 inches (2.6 meters) wide, and the S.L.U.T. is 97 inches (2.46 meters) wide.

        I guess that is why the S.L.U.T. does not have 4 seats across anywhere — it is not wide enough for that.

      3. You win on the width and the seated capacity (I didn’t realize our cars had such a low-density layout), but not on the overall capacity. The manufacturer claims a rated capacity of 140 for a Trio-12 car like ours. A crush load would be a good deal more than that. You could only dream of packing 140 people into a D60LFR.

      4. The rated capacity of a single SLUT car is roughly 23% higher than the rated capacity of a 60′ New Flyer Artic.

        It’s 115 to 140. And you can make multicar trains with the streetcars; all you can do with buses is increase frequency past the bunch point.

      5. “The manufacturer claims a rated capacity of 140 for a Trio-12 car like ours.”

        That is utter b.s., since a Link car, which is almost 50% longer than a S.L.U.T. and several inches wider, has a capacity of 132. So, you actually believe that the S.L.U.T. has a higher capacity than a Link car? lol That 140 figure is for a “crush load” which no streetcar in Seattle would every carry on a regular commute in normal conditions.

        “The rated capacity of a single SLUT car is roughly 23% higher than the rated capacity of a 60′ New Flyer Artic.

        “It’s 115 to 140. And you can make multicar trains with the streetcars; all you can do with buses is increase frequency past the bunch point.”

        Again, that 140 figure is a “crush load” for a streetcar. That is not the capacity under normal conditions.

        First of all, 23% higher is not close to “twice the capacity per vehicle.”

        Secondly, the New Flyer buses have a lot more seats than a S.L.U.T., which reduces the overall capacity. With the same number of seats, a bus has about the same standing room as a S.L.U.T., with therefore, the same real-world capacity.

        Which is better, a 2-streetcar train every 10 minutes, or a bus every five minutes? I would prefer twice as many buses with shorter headways. Or, you could use two buses at the same time, following each other very closely, which would be the same thing as a 2-streetcar train.

        For 2-streetcar “trains” you would need very long stations, which would take up long stretches of curb space, or long stretches int he middle of streets. With buses at twice the frequency of 2-car streetcar “trains” you would need bus stops only the length of a single bus.

        And where does it say anything about 2-streetcar “trains” in any of the plans for more Seattle streetcars?

      6. Norman, there is no problem fitting 160-180 people into a Link car. I’ve seen it myself on a few exceptional occasions. The rated capacity, unlike with either the streetcar or the DE60LFR, is nowhere close to a crush load.

        There is not the same amount of standing room on a bus as on an equivalently sized streetcar. You can’t pack into the doorway areas on a bus or the doors won’t close. Only one or two people can stand in the hinge on a bus, whereas the hinge area on a streetcar is no different from the rest of the streetcar. There is an engine compartment taking up a few feet on the back of the bus where no one can sit or stand (there is also a driver’s compartment on the back of the streetcar, but the extra 6′ or so length of the streetcar makes up for it). And, as you mention, in KCM/ST configuration the buses have more seats, and as we are seeing with RR, people scream bloody murder when you try to take them out.

        On a realistic basis, the difference is even greater. People don’t really mind standing on Link or on a streetcar. People hate standing on a bus because, even with a smooth driver, the ride is far lurchier, bumpier, and jerkier.

  12. Though the Council hasn’t micromanaged a possible “$1 million” shift yet, my understanding is the city could spend it toward bus reliability improvements of the types in the Transit Master Plan — signal advantages, curb bulbs, better stops, and so forth, as opposed to buying raw service hours. But $1 million by itself doesn’t travel very far — at best you could clear some D Line delays in Uptown for that magnitude of money.

    1. Best use would be Delridge. The capitol investement to realize Delridge TMP corridor was about $1M.

      1. Don’t fret. Metro put out a cheery press release just last week, laying out the timeline for activating the pylons. It promised that at least half will be functional by mid-2013, with the rest working after the Cubs’ World Series win but before the Rapture.

      2. Maybe STB could install coin-op generators at RapidRide stops. In exchange for dropping a quarter in the slot, the generator runs long enough for a minute of real time info signs. That way, the later a bus is delayed, and longer it takes for everyone to exit and enter through the front door, the more money we get to keep the blog running!

      3. How about pedal-powered generators? You want to see when the bus is coming, you pedal for half a minute and see the display for another half minute. In the half-hour it takes for the bus to show up, you could get enough exercise this way to cancel your gym membership!

  13. vehicle congestion is usually not chronic on Eastlake anyway

    It is on Fridays. And game days. And weekend days. And lots of other times.
    Perhaps not congestion, but backups.

    1. And it lacks bicycle infrastructure. This planning would identify options for bike infrastructure, and funding a streetcar with federal money would probably, basically, get us a cycletrack for free.

      1. No it wouldn’t. Eastlake is only wide enough for one travel lane in each direction, plus parking. Which means in order to get space for the cycle track, you would need to get rid of parking to make room. Good luck convincing the Eastlake neighborhood to go along with that.

    2. Speaking of lack of congestion, there were lines and lines and lines of cars last night on Eastlake. Scary how much time they spend going nowhere, or veering wildly around side streets looking for an out. Passed three 70s, two within maybe 200 feet of one another, plus a bunch of other trapped buses. The sidewalks were clear for walking, as usual, hooray!

      How about a congestion fee to cross the University Bridge at peak times? No? Ahhh well, cannot obstruct the right of folks to freely sit in traffic, I guess.

  14. Since Councilmember Rasmussen is a resident of West Seattle, and they clearly should have more buses running between downtown and West Seattle, let me offer this suggestion:

    Since *nobody* getting on the bus at the C/120/37/55/56/57/125/21X stops at the north end of Seattle is interested in riding the 21 through downtown/SODO, why have the 21 stop there at all? In fact, why have the 21 run through downtown at all, when the platform hours of the 21 could be cut nearly in half by having it terminate at SODO Station? Or interline it with the 50, and that would feed two routes with one seed, to mangle a metaphor. Time the 21/50 so that one of them is picking up at the westbound stop by SODO Station after at least every other peak-direction train. Oh, and please make that stop visible.

    Not having the 21 add to the crowded stops on 3rd in north downtown would help a lot to reduce traffic congestion at the most heavily-used stops.

    BTW, there is currently no stop at SODO Station to get on the 21 westbound, in part because the City has not studied where to put such a stop or requested that one be opened.

    1. The 21 is through-routed with the 5. Taking the 21 out of downtown won’t accomplish anything unless you also take the 5, or some other 15-minute north end route or combination of routes, out of downtown.

      1. The 5 used to be through-routed with the 54/55 (meaning that it skipped most of downtown).

        Through-routes are flexible. They shouldn’t be used as an excuse to run redundant buses parallel to a train with excess capacity.

      2. Of course you can change the 5 to through-route with something else, or not to through-route at all. The issue is that unless you take both the 21 and 4 north-end buses per hour out of downtown, you won’t be reducing the number of buses going through downtown at all.

      3. There are plenty of south-end routes with no through-route partners. For example, you could link the 5 with the 120.

  15. more akin to a streetcar than the high-floor buses that ply the route today.

    Evening and Sunday service runs hybrids, which you know are low floor. 66 often runs artics, the majority of which are hybrids (again, low floor). D40LF’s (that’s the 3600s) are seen on the 66 at times as well. 70 was primarily Gillig trolleys when it was electric, and primarily Gilligs when it was dieselized.

      1. Hybrids are on the 66 regularly. It’s North Base, and North Base runs hybrids and D60s interchangeably on non-tunnel routes. About half the 66 runs this shakeup are on artics, so hybrids appear often. Similarly, the 40′ runs are divided more or less randomly between D40LFs and Gilligs.

      2. >About half the 66 runs this shakeup are on artics,

        Ah, that might be why :) I haven’t been in Seattle since mid-August (I’ll be in town Sun-Tues, woot!)

      3. Yes, it’s a substantial increase. There were just a couple of runs on artics last shakeup. Now, the 66 and 67 are rotated at Northgate, and the 67 and 68 are through-routed at UW. Both the 67 and 68 often need artics, so the 66 is getting them as well.

  16. Metro dismissed the RapidRide E Sounding Board, stating that no restructure of north-central Seattle would be required to implement the E Line next year

    I hadn’t heard this before. I’m not sure if I’m disappointed, frustrated, angry, or just confused. The original proposed changes to the 28 and 5 made sense in conjunction with the beginning of the E Line and the creation of the 40.

  17. Why don’t they study extending the SLUT into downtown (4th/5th)?

    * Extending to Pike – easy transfers to Link, Capitol Hill routes, many ST Express routes – all of this is possible today, but cumbersome – requires walking and adds too much time to a potentially lon trip
    * Extending it to Pioneer Square – provides a high-quality way of moving along downtown, potentially connects to the First Hill streetcar

  18. North Seattle could save a crap ton of service hours by STOP CONSOLIDATION. Yes, Metro, we North Seattleites actually like your clever stop reductions on the 48 from the 85th Street construction. NOW, implement that along the entirety of the 48, 5, 16, 26, and 66/67!!!! That alone probably will save about 30 trips per day per direction.

    I counted the number of cars parked along Eastlake (179) between Galer and I-5, then counted the number of empty parking spaces adjacent to the roadway (205), using Google Earth (Thur, 7/5/12: ~10am)
    What would a BAT lane cost, and let the market place figure out where the cars go?
    I vote for taking our street ROW back, and putting in decent ETB service for starts.
    The results might surprize all of us armchair QB’s.

    1. I agree, but the threat of losing parking along Eastlake was a huge issue for the neighborhood when ST was considering an Eastlake route for Link, and also when the first streetcar master plan came out. It would be an awfully tough battle.

      1. So this rapid streetcar is going to have to wait for Elmer Fudd to try multiple times to parallel park?
        What a hoot.

      2. it sorta makes my point though.
        If it’s a streetcar doing x, then of course street parking will have to go.
        But a lowly ETB, “Why piss off the neighbors for a lousy old bus”, doing exactly the same thing.
        I guess that’s the rail bias we keep hearing about.

    2. I would vote for taking our street ROW back too. The problem is we would get outvoted because there are too many others, who don’t read this blog, whose sole concern about transit is making sure it doesn’t interfere with their god-given right to park their car for free right next to their home.

  20. In an ideal world, I would agree with you completely that the streetcar is superfluous. But given the actual politics of the region, I think that it has one very useful role.

    Many of us have remarked, on many occasions, how odd it is that so many of the important corridors in Seattle are completely ignored by Metro. The 40, which will run along the proposed Westlake/Ballard rail corridor, only started a month ago. There is no single bus running along corridors 3, 4, 5, 6, 12, or 13.

    By virtue of being controlled by SDOT and not Metro, streetcars are one of the few ways that Seattle can ensure that a given corridor has high-quality service, regardless of what Metro wants to do.

    I don’t know whether or not Eastlake has enough ridership to warrant the capacity of a streetcar. But given the choice of a single frequent service which is specifically targeted at local riders, or a combination of infrequent services that are liable to be overcrowded with students, I think there’s no question that the former is a better place to be in the long-term.

    1. Metro bus routes are decided ultimately by the county council, with heavy input from the local councilmember on her/his turf. It makes one want districting on the city council. Not.

    2. “There is no single bus running along corridors 3, 4, 5, 6, 12, or 13.”

      Those corridors were just decided on this year. It will take several years for routes to migrate to them. Also, some of them are essentially arbitrary, like Rainier/23rd. There are many ways to connect the routes at Mt Baker station and Jackson Street, all with roughly similar impacts. I.e., they’ll advantage some riders and disadvantage others, and we need Metro’s input on whether these parings would really advantage the most riders and disadvantage the least.

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