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This is an open thread.

81 Replies to “News Roundup: Fancy New Trains”

  1. Hmm… I’ve had nothing but good experiences with car2go. Maybe I’m one of the lucky ones?

      1. Agreed! I live between Broadway and I-5 on Capitol Hill and finding a car2go in this neighborhood is a lot like finding gold at the end of the rainbow. Since parking is such a problem up here, I find that I need to park outside the neighborhood and walk the rest of the way most of the time. And don’t get me started about the swarm of car2gos in South Lake Union during the day. Yes, I could walk all the way to Denny and into South Lake Union to get one, but by that time, I could have caught a bus or get a Zipcar to do what I need to do. Without some dedicated parking for these cars in my neighborhood, it’s hard for me to use them more.

      2. In Ballard, finding one below 65th is lucky. They tend to be sparsely scattered in the single family neighborhoods around and north of 85th or around South Lake Union like you mentioned.

      3. Car2gos are scattered like litter along the streets of Haller Lake and Pinehurst. It’s not uncommon to find two or three per block.

      4. So far, I have had just one bad experience with c2g and that was when the app on my phone claimed I had successfully reserved a car downtown, only to walk over there and find it reserved for someone else, with the nearest available car over a mile away. I ended up just going into the tunnel and slogging it out on the 70’s (local) instead.

        I have since realized that Car2Go always sends a text message to your phone when you make a reservation, so, regardless of what the app says, if you got the message, the car’s reserved for you, if you didn’t get the message, it isn’t.

        My last c2g trip, however, I had learned from past mistakes. I was coming come from the airport at 9:00 on a Monday night with more luggage than I wanted to squeeze into a likely-jam-packed 70-series bus. Knowing full well that availability of cars downtown would be tight, I hopped on Link and looked for cars available at Link stations before the train got downtown.

        Unfortunately, Columbia City Station has not quite reached the level of gentrification to make me feel safe walking from Link to car after dark, so I instead chose a car near Beacon Hill Station. It worked like a breeze – the car was parked right across the street from the station (probably by someone doing the same thing as me, but in reverse) – I walked to it, hopped in, and for $8.34, I was home at least half an hour earlier than I would have been had I transferred to a bus.

      5. asdf, Sorry gentrification didn’t work for you this time. Let me know when it does. {sar} Really though, you had to mention that? It’s not that bad.

      6. “And don’t get me started about the swarm of car2gos in South Lake Union during the day”

        Depends on your perspective. Those car2gos are handy if you take transit in from the suburbs and need a car during your lunch break. The only thing missing from car2go’s model right now is incentives for relocating cars from low use areas to more productive areas. I might be willing to grab a really cheap/free car2go trip if I happen to be in an area with too many cars and am headed where they need the car to be.

  2. The FWTC article presents three intriguing options for making the parking garages more productive. The most intriguing one, IMHO, is to offer to let frequent commuters pay a quarterly fee for the guarantee of a slot, so long as they use the spot by a certain time in the morning. (I assume a payment is involved for the permit, or what would be the point of that program?) This proposal has the political side effect of satisfying those parkers mostly likely to complain the most consistently.

    I would usually say the idea of building yet another parking garage is ill-advised, but in this case it presents an opportunity: Build the new garage just east of Highway 99. Then, build Federal Way Station on Highway 99, and it never has to move over to I-5.

    In the meantime, imagine if ST were to move to distance-based express fares (i.e. Base the fare on a formula similar to that for the trains, but for the longest express segment of the route, and have it be the single fare all riders on that bus pay.) That would deal with the sticker shock Federal Wayers will face when the station finally opens, and they are suddenly being asked to pay twice as much for a circuitous train ride downtown as they were paying for a faster express bus ride.

    1. I thought the permit idea was sensible, but in the comments someone said it would be a “non-starter” for some unfathomable reason. Apparently that person did not understand that the paid parking would just be an option, and lots of non-paid parking would still be available.

      Someone else suggested that ST lease a vacant retail lot and “make some money”. I’m not sure how they would make money by paying for a lease to provide more parking. Since the off-site lot would be more inconvenient than the on-site parking structure which is currently free, why would anyone pay to park in the off-site lot?

    2. Washington D.C. Metro stations, besides charging $5 to park, to begin with, offer reserved spaces for an additional fee. After 10:00 each morning, and all day weekends/holidays, the reserved spaces open up to the general public, so even if the person reserving the space is taking the day off, the space will still get used.

      If Washington D.C. can do it, there is no reason why we can’t do it too.

  3. Good article about East Link property acquisitions. It made me wonder, what’s going to happen to all the property taxes those condo owners pay? Sound Transit will start paying property taxes on that land when they take over the property, right? I went onto Parcel Viewer to take a look at Sound Transit’s giant parking garage next to the Auburn Rail Station, and see what kind of taxes they pay on that property. And now here’s where I need help. It looks to me like Sound Transit doesn’t pay any taxes on that parcel, or any property they own. It looks like the previous owner of the parking garage land used to pay property taxes, but as soon as Sound Transit took it over, property taxes stopped being paid. Would someone take a look at this and tell me if I’m right?

    http://info.kingcounty.gov/Assessor/eRealProperty/Dashboard.aspx?ParcelNbr=7815700185

      1. You realize this is just a free parking garage for commuters. Why does Sound Transit have to own and run it? I wouldn’t expect Metro or Sound Transit to pay property taxes on something essential, like a transit center.

      2. MF = park & ride? Bellevue City Council doesn’t want it? Hallelujah for a change. I asked ST about it during an open house, and the rep said it was a temporary use until development caught up to the area. I told them that’s a weak reason for a P&R and a weak justification for a station that’s only 10 blocks from 120th. It will also create a constituency that won’t want their P&R taken away ever ever. I don’t understand why ST is so insistent about the P&R. But if the Bellevue City Council opposes it, that will have some clout with ST.

    1. Lost property taxes could be made up through increased adjacent property values (near stations) and economic development along the line.

      1. One high rise building downtown (Bellevue) would more than make up for all the “lost” parcels.

    2. Sam,
      Don’t forget to include sales tax revenues of the businesses that lease space in the garage now versus the businesses that were there before the station existed. You should also probably include a portion of the sales tax revenue that was generated by nearby businesses as a result of the station. I know I’ve spent more taxable dollars in Auburn because the station is there.

    3. This is the real reason Bellevue City Council doesn’t want the MF in Bel-Red. It will be sitting on some pretty prime real estate once that area develops as planned. It is possible to get mitigation for the loss. Like have ST provide a park or something. I’m pushing for the idea of an aquatics center on ST’s dime.

    4. MF = park & ride? Bellevue City Council doesn’t want it? Hallelujah for a change. I asked ST about it during an open house, and the rep said it was a temporary use until development caught up to the area. I told them that’s a weak reason for a P&R and a weak justification for a station that’s only 10 blocks from 120th. It will also create a constituency that won’t want their P&R taken away ever ever. I don’t understand why ST is so insistent about the P&R. But if the Bellevue City Council opposes it, that will have some clout with ST.

      1. No, MF is Maintenance Facility. The most likely spot seems to be the old International Paper box factory adjacent to the BNSF ROW. The Council has never opposed the P&R and the Transportation Commission plans take it into account. It’s a sign of how much deception is being played out though as the P&R location paves over the Geoff Creek drainage when all the flowery press for the “Spring District” contains lots of verbiage about daylighting creeks… like they daylighted Kelsey Creek on the old K-Mart site. Money money money.

  4. From the Economist story: “A more radical approach to powering trains is that proposed by Russian Railways, which says it is designing a nuclear-powered train in conjunction with Rosatom, the state nuclear giant. Able to generate immense power, such a train could, in theory, move extremely fast or be used to supply power to a remote town or industrial site, using an on-board reactor similar to those found in nuclear submarines.”

    Russian nuclear high-speed rail. What could possibly go wrong?

    1. So, other than the technology they’re working on over in Redmond to develop nuclear powered rockets to Mars, doesn’t a nuke simply make steam (Flying Scotsmans, 100mph) which is generally used to make electricity?

      1. Yes. They’d probably run electric motors, and they’d have as much power as they could ever use for speed. They plan to run this through Siberia, which is probably the only reason they’d consider this. I.e. no people to evacuate when you derail and hit a boulder creating a radioactive mess, you just fence off that area and build a new track a few miles away.

        Keep in mind the Russians tested out nuclear fracking in Siberia back in the ’60’s. And their way of capping out of control oil wells is to nuke them.

      2. Yep. Lots of steam. I imagine they’ll use electric motors, running as fast as the tracks will let them.

        They’re planning on running this through Siberia, which is the one reason they’d even consider it. I assume their strategy is to just abandon any crash and build new tracks around it. They don’t seem very worried about nukes, as they use them to seal oil wells and have even fracked for oil using nukes.

  5. Just say “NO” to an Auburn Amtrak stop. It would be great if Sounder and AmtrakCascades had a coordinated schedule that would allow riders in Auburn, Kent, Puyallup and Sumner to transfer easily in Tacoma at Freighthouse Square between the 2 services, but Amtrak’s role is to provide fast intercity transportation. Stopping in places like Auburn, Lakewood, Chehalis or Stanwood for a handful of passengers isn’t part of Amtrak’s mission–that’s for local transit agencies.

    1. The correct answer is for Sounder to be Amtrak’s “local” but it doesn’t run frequently enough or coordinate with the Amtrak schedule.

      Alternatively, I could argue that Amtrak should make each and every Sounder stop between Seattle and Tukwila. I think it would find passengers, and be the missing local that Sounder should be.

      1. Is this like when Kermit the Frog told Scooter, “If you don’t like your salary, I’ll give you ten times the amount.” But Scooter makes zero so the raise was still zero. Or did you mean “Tacoma” instead of “Tukwila”?

      2. Aren’t there already multiple express buses an hour between Auburn and Kent or Tacoma where one could make a connection?

      3. Not really. Auburn->Seattle has 2 express buses per hour midday, 1 per hour weekends. The “express bus” is still nearly double the time that Sounder takes, when it is actually running. Auburn->Tacoma has no direct connection whatsoever, except for Sounder. When Sounder is not running, options include taking 578 to Federal Way and transfer to the 574 south, or taking a series of Pierce Transit local buses. According to Google, both options take about 90 minutes, compared to 20 minutes by either driving or Sounder. Kent, meanwhile, has no express bus service whatsoever, except for buses that go exactly where Sounder goes, during exactly the same times that Sounder goes there. According to Google, travel time from Kent to Tacoma without Sounder can be anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on how lucky you get with your connections. Drive time is estimated at around 25 minutes.

      4. Oh, I forgot that their an express bus between Kent and Auburn (route 566) that runs once an hour weekdays during the day and early evening, not at all weekends. Still not much use, though if you’re trying to get from Kent to Tacoma.

    2. So, to continue this argument, here’s the Seattle to Tacoma trains:

      Depart Arrive Connection Duration* Route Train (Bus) #
      Thu 7:30 am Thu 8:13 am Direct 0 hr, 43 min Amtrak Cascades 501
      Thu 9:35 am Thu 10:21 am Direct 0 hr, 46 min Coast Starlight 11
      Thu 11:25 am Thu 12:08 pm Direct 0 hr, 43 min Amtrak Cascades 513
      Thu 2:20 pm Thu 3:03 pm Direct 0 hr, 43 min Amtrak Cascades 507
      Thu 5:30 pm Thu 6:13 pm Direct 0 hr, 43 min Amtrak Cascades 509

      In the morning, there are only two Sounders from Seattle to Tacoma, at 6:10 am and 6:50 am.
      Using Amtrak we could have all morning service. The afternoon southbound Amtraks are more redundant with Sounder, and could operate express.

      Going from Tacoma to Seattle:

      Depart Arrive Connection Duration* Route Train (Bus) #
      Thu 8:10 am Thu 8:50 am Direct 0 hr, 40 min Bus (8848)
      Thu 11:04 am Thu 12:10 pm Direct 1 hr, 06 min Amtrak Cascades 500
      Thu 2:10 pm Thu 3:00 pm Direct 0 hr, 50 min Bus (8866)
      Thu 2:49 pm Thu 3:55 pm Direct 1 hr, 06 min Amtrak Cascades 506
      Thu 5:19 pm Thu 6:25 pm Direct 1 hr, 06 min Amtrak Cascades 516
      Thu 7:03 pm Thu 8:37 pm Direct 1 hr, 34 min Coast Starlight 14
      Thu 8:49 pm Thu 9:55 pm Direct 1 hr, 06 min Amtrak Cascades 508

      Well, the 8:10am is done by Sounder, so can stay express.

      However, it would be great to have the 11:04 am, 2:10pm and 2:49pms as all day locals into the city.

      The 5:19pm is redudant, but the 7:03pm and 8:49pm would be fantastic for night crawlers.

      The only disappointment is there aren’t any evening or late Amtraks going back Seattle to Portland that could distribute bar hoppers all around South King!

    3. Chehalis? Just a couple of miles from the Centralia stop? Are people actually arguing for that? That would be pretty ridiculous. Centralia is a good and reasonable stop; there’s no other intercity public transit options from there, the two towns have 25,000 people, and it wouldn’t be reasonable to ask those people to use the Olympia or Longview/Kelso stops.

      Are people actually asking for a Chehalis stop?

    4. I agree that serving small towns shouldn’t get in the way of Amtrak’s primary intercity mission. However, Amtrak already stops at Tukwila Middle-Of-Nowhere Station. If you’re trying to delete that, that’s one thing. However, I think that one intermediate stop could easily be moved to Auburn without taking away in any way from Amtrak’s mission – and, indeed, making it much more useful.

      1. They have to change their pricing and speed though.

        According to the website, Amtrak TUK-SEA costs $9.00 and takes 38 minutes to get there!!

      2. 25 of those 38 minutes are padding. But yes, we definitely need to integrate Sounder pricing /RailPlus onto Cascades between Seattle and Tacoma.

      3. Why should Amtrak be price competitive with Sounder? If anything, I think they would want to dissuade short hops like Seattle to Tukwila.

      4. Normally, it does take 38 minutes, just like they say – 13 minutes to actually move, preceded by 25 minutes of standing at the station because the train is late. By the magic of padding, a 25-minute late arrival in Tukwila translates into an on-time arrival into Seattle. On rare days when the Northbound Amtrak arrives at Tukwila Station on time, it will usually arrive in Seattle early.

        The reason why they do this is deliberate. Most of the people on the train are going all the way to Seattle, so putting all the padding time in Seattle means that when the train sits and waits because it is early, such waiting delays almost no one. Put the padding in Tukwila and you would now be delaying an entire train load of people who simply want to go from Portland to Seattle.

      5. It may be worth adding Sounder stations to Amtrak Cascades. It does not make sense to add them to the Coast Starlight, which is already the slowest way to travel down the coast except by rowboat and bicycle.

      6. I used to take NJ Transit in from central Jersey to New York or Philadelphia. At the major stops like Princeton and Trenton, there was often an option to get on one of the Amtrak Trains (as long as it wasn’t a Metroliner). It was a little more expensive and it didn’t make any stops like the NJ Transit trains did.

    5. Move Tukwila station to Auburn or Kent. The purpose of suburban stations is to have one station downtown and another in the outer half of the metro area. I was initially opposed to suburban stations but it has become common in large cities. Tukwila is too close-in to serve the outer metro area, and is too redundant with King Street station. Kent is right in between the inner and outer suburbs and has a good station area. Auburn is the historical biggest city south of Seattle although I’m not sure if that’s still true. Either of these would make a better Amtrak and Cascades suburban station than Tukwila.

      1. Kent would be a great location for it as well. Really both. For all the additional stopping time, I think it would gain a whole lot more passengers. They can even add a car just for the Seattle-Tacoma trip if it impacts their long distance riders.

      2. +1. Moving the Cascades stop to either from Tukwila to either Kent or Aurburn makes a lot more sense and provides much more even spacing between stops.

      3. @John Bailo,

        Cars cannot be added or removed from a Cascades trainset anywhere except in the maintenance facility. For one thing, there’s a cab car at the end without the engine, but the most critical thing is that there is only one axle between each pair of adjacent cars. An idler has to be brought to the end of the car to be removed which doesn’t have the wheels attached via a permanent pendulum pivot. The adjacent car connects to the suspension structure via a coupled pivot that can be disconnected.

        Not something to do in real time in Tacoma.

    6. ” Stopping in places like Auburn, Lakewood, Chehalis or Stanwood for a handful of passengers isn’t part of Amtrak’s mission–that’s for local transit agencies.”

      It’s not for the handful of passengers in Auburn or Lakewood. It’s for the entire southern quarter of the metro area.

      1. One suburban station is enough between Seattle and Tacoma. If we build more stations we will be collecting just a handful of passengers at each one. I think Tukwila was chosen because it’s close to several freeways, has plenty of parking available and it’s close to the airport. But I agree, Kent might have been a better choice.

        Moving forward, we should be looking at building better transit connections to the new Freighthouse Square station and the new Tukwila station (whenever that happens) for suburban riders. Currently, there isn’t a single-seat transit ride that connects the Tacoma Amtrak station with Auburn (14 miles) or Auburn with the Tukwila Amtrak platform (16 miles). No wonder Auburn wants an Amtrak stop.

      2. Unlike Tukwila, Kent and Auburn have a 1-seat bus route to the airport.

        Kent and Auburn also have sales-tax generating business surrounding the stations.

      3. But then again, I’m not sure why anyone would take Cascades to Kent, and then the 180 to the airport, when they could simply take the 574 from Tacoma Dome Station or Link from King Street Station, unless they were trying to kill time.

      4. I talked with someone who works for Amtrak about this awhile back. Essentially, the idea was that because Amtrak is a separate agency that has no affiliation with either Metro or Sound Transit, it has to plan its service as if connecting buses do not exist, and the only train connections possible are private car pick up and drop off, parking at stations, or taxis. Hence Tukwila was chosen as the station location because it was the shortest (and, hence cheapest) taxi ride to the airport.

        Yes, I know perfectly well that this argument is ludicrous, and if you want to tell me so, you are preaching to the choir. But that was what the Amtrak guy said was the decision making logic at the time that the decision was made. And now that Tukwila station has opened, we’re stuck with it. (Relocating a station is always going to be politically difficult because there will always be someone out there who will be hurt by the decision and make a big stink over it).

        Even more ridiculous about the airport argument, 574 service notwithstanding, is that I don’t see airport->train connections as a very common scenario to begin with. For starters, I can’t imagine why anyone would fly to Seattle to take a train to Portland when they could just fly directly to Portland. And even if you are coming from somewhere (say, Alaska) where the only way to fly to Portland is to chance planes in SeaTac, simply changing planes at SeaTac is hours faster than switching to the train, and possibly cheaper too. Furthermore, if you miss your flight because your connecting flight got in late, you can get rebooked at no extra charge and, with airline headways between Seattle and Portland as frequent as 60-90 minutes, you won’t be waiting at the airport too long. On the other hand, if you get into Seattle late and miss your train, you’ve thrown away the money you spent on the train ticket, and the next train won’t be until several hours later, if not the next day.

        I suppose the Amtrak->Airport connection could be useful if you are trying to get from, say, Kelso to Houston. Even then, the round trip train fare is likely to be only barely cheaper than gas+airport parking, depending on the length of the trip. And if you get stuck in Seattle or Portland for a night, and have to get a hotel, now, you’ve spent way more than driving and parking would have cost.

        Bottom line, train->airport connections sound great on paper (after all, it’s multi-modal), but in practice, the number of times such a connection actually proves useful is too small to be worth worrying about.

      5. Ironic that Amtrak would be transit-hostile. What it should do is ask the state which location has the best long-term guarantee of the most transit connections, and the state can ask the transit agencies or cities. That would clearly favor Kent Station, which is not going away, and which both ST and Metro have invested in as a transit hub, and which has a quasi-express to the airport.

      6. Tukwila Station won’t be going away either and has a frequent bus connection with Metro 140. Access will get better with the permanent station and RR-F.

      7. Have you ever been to Tukwila Station? Up until just recently it was made mostly of wood! Just the simplest platform imaginable. There is nothing Amtrak-specific about it. It’s simply a platform station. They’ve been rebuilding it to be a bit more permanent, but Kent and Auburn are already fully developed stations with lots of commercial and some retail TOD. Transit to Tukwila is nearly non-existant especially in rush hour,

        Kent is a central hub both for area traffic East-West routes like the 168 and 164. As far as airport linkage, at Kent there’s the 180, and that’s a 20 minute ride up to the LINK Seatac station with the same walk to the airport.

      8. Tukwila Sounder/Amtrak Station is well served by the 140/future F line. It’s walkshed will be greatly increased when the new bike/ped bridge over the Duwamish is built.

  6. Fuel Cell Shuttle Buses Begin Service at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

    The buses feature the same fuel cell stacks as found in the Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL fuel cell car, hybridised with a 27 kWh lithium-ion battery. The latest generation of the bus uses 50% less hydrogen than its predecessor, and as such it has been possible to reduce the number of storage cylinders from nine to seven for a total of 35 kg of hydrogen on board for a range of more than 300 kilometres.

    http://www.fuelcelltoday.com/news-events/news-archive/2013/june/fuel-cell-shuttle-buses-begin-service-at-karlsruhe-institute-of-technology#sthash.NTrCFH1g.dpuf

  7. My comment (previously expressed — and lambasted! — on STB) on the (T)OD article:

    I have gone so far to say that its a really dumb thing to put residential density around your transit station. The point of a station is easy access, and the ability to get to your connection.

    If you gum up the connection by making it dense, and make reasons for slow moving traffic to block access, then you’ve removed its value as a station!

    So ideally you’d have a “dry” area around the station itself, and then a fast way to get from the population center to the station ( bike, pedestrian walkways, shuttles, taxis, monorail, gondola, streetcar, ……..)

    1. Or you could put the population center right around the station and completely eliminate that last leg of your journey.

      1. But see that’s the problem.

        The minute you build an “inner circle” near the station it makes it more costly and harder for others to use.

        What you want is an “access neutral” station where a dense cluster of say garden apartments served by a trolley and a set of single family homes, can get to the station without stepping on each other’s toes.

      2. The severe cost differential is only because of the lack of walkable housing generally. We need to build twice as much walkable housing as we have, clustered around more train stations if necessary to fit them in. Then the cost difference between transit-rich and transit-poor housing will go down.

        “Garden apartments” are generally understood as two-story affairs with parking lots and setbacks (grandiosely, or Englishly, called “gardens”). That architecture is part of the problem. Extend the building out to the property line. Add more units and stories. Replace the unused open space with a courtyard the tenants will want to be in.

      3. It’s only a “problem” if you assume a land shortage — something Washington has plenty of but artificially restricts with anti-middle class zoning laws and design.

      4. JB, if you act like there’s “no land shortage” you quickly end up with a road shortage around anything that matters because everyone has to drive everywhere, period. And that’s how you get crowding without density, because those cars take up a lot of space, especially when moving. If the SFH neighborhood in your model is driving to the station they’re going to step on eachother’s toes inevitably.

        On the other hand, it takes immense, extreme concentrations of people to create unpleasant pedestrian crowding. Most of the time you wait in line on foot it’s to go through a man-made bottleneck related to access control (airport security, stadium ticketing, grocery lines). For walking to urban transit with POP this shouldn’t be a problem.

    2. Putting this together with your idea of the Eastside as a 21st-century city leads to vehicle-dependent cities. People were born with feet, not with cars or even bicycles. Vehicle-dependent cities contradict our evolved human characteristics,and we’ve already done a number on ourselves by driving agriculture and wildlife habitats out of cities. In Manhattan a lot of people take transit, but they also have within an hour’s walk practically every necessity or pastime — they don’t have to take a vehicle to it. Along the entire way are other pedestrians and walk-up storefronts, which addresses another human need for community. A vehicle-dependent landscape also builds in a permanent necessity for high energy inputs.

    3. Ya, if you have a population center, the same “gummed up” traffic near the TOD is now gummed up all the way from the population center to the transit center. I have direct experience with two examples:

      – Elmhurst, IL, where I grew up. The town’s traditional center and business district is around its longstanding train station, but it’s not much of a residential concentration — residential density around the train would have to have lowered significantly since the car came to dominate transportation and much downtown land was converted to surface parking. I doubt there’s a residential unit in town without at least one reserved parking space. There’s heavy traffic during commute hours as people drive to the station (or to downtown jobs) from all over town. You might have said downtown Elmhurst was TOD when it was originally built but it’s been diluted so much and never really refreshed that I don’t think anyone would call it that today… nearby old building patterns and land use are a little more walkable than the rest of town, but not much more intense. The result is decidedly not an elimination of rush-hour congestion. If there was more affordable, quality housing near the station… well, it’s not like there would be much less traffic. Peak-hour ridership in Elmhurst seems to be parking-limited (and that’s paid parking) and real-estate is pretty robust there. I don’t think there’d be a whole lot more, and there would be more train ridership, more walking trips to jobs and shopping in the town center, etc.

      – Bascharage, Luxembourg. I stayed there for a few days recently, so my experience is limited but it’s very close to what you suggest. There’s a commuter train station maybe 2km from the main part of town, and there’s very little housing or commerce directly adjacent to the train station (I don’t know the history of the town — whether it was built along the road as a “between place” or was along a train line that was destroyed during war or freeway construction or something). During rush hour traffic congestion is pretty heavy between the town and the station. There’s a bus route that goes directly from the town to the city center and another that goes from the town to the train station; both get held up significantly in the rush hour traffic. A decent chunk of that traffic is park-and-ride and kiss-and-ride type traffic, though obviously not all. So here’s an example of a real place with a “dry zone” as you just suggested, and the result is the opposite of what you predict: lots of congestion concentrated along the road between the town and the station. Transit misery. I don’t actually know whether you’re better off taking the bus all the way to town (and getting caught in additional traffic in the places where there’s no bus lane, like between the outskirts of Luxembourg and where the route joins the EUROBUS corridor) or connecting to the train and paying the transfer penalty.

      1. (As for “what Bascharage is doing there” — IIRC there has been some mining in Luxembourg, and there’s some industry near town (including the Bofferding brewery). Some housing and services may have originally been built for workers there. The town’s commercial district is spread out along pretty evenly and not very deeply along the Rue de Luxembourg, suggesting considerable growth post-auto-age en route to Pétange and Belguim or Luxembourg. There’s currently a bit of construction out by the train station.)

  8. I thought that the Federal Way S 320 St Park and Ride is already an overflow parking lot near the transit center.

    1. The old Federal Way Transit Center is too far away from the new one to be an easy walk. Is whats needed, IMO is to route the 177 178 179 574 577 578 through it on the weekdays so riders have the option of parking at either park and ride. It will add a few minutes to the schedule but hopefully would resolve the parking capacity issues.

  9. Auburn makes a hell of a lot more sense than Stanwood but stops are granted only if your legislator has a powerful position like head of the Transportation Committee. If they do add a stop, who pays to staff and maintain it? If Auburn put together a group as active as those in Olytown they might have a better chance.

  10. From the article about Roger Valdez and Richard Conlin:

    Conlin added, though, that he … wants all buildings that are of similar size (say, an eight-unit apartment building and a 48-unit aPodment building) to be subject to the same environmental rules.

    Exactly. Why should a six story building with 48 units have to follow different rules than a six story building with 8 units? It makes no sense unless you are simply trying to limit the number of people in the neighborhood. This is exactly the kind of reform we need. It is simple and easy to understand. It is reasonable to want to limit the size and shape of a building; it is another thing to limit the number of people who can live in that building. The same approach should be taken with regards to all of the zoning. Limit the size and shape of the house next door, but don’t tell me I can’t build the exact same size house with four units instead of one. It is crazy that we allow builders to make mega-houses in single family neighborhoods, but as soon as someone wants to build a duplex, they can’t.

    Of course, the same applies to mother-in-law apartments. You shouldn’t limit the number of people that are allowed to live in a place (beyond health and safety concerns) just because you are afraid too many people will move into the neighborhood.

    Making this change would go a long way towards making Seattle more affordable while retaining the look and style of individual neighborhoods. Getting rid of parking requirements would be the next, obvious step. This wouldn’t be as big a change as many people want, but it would still be a huge step in the right direction.

    1. It makes no sense unless you are simply trying to limit the number of people in the neighborhood.

      That is exactly what the anti-density crowd wants.

      Their reasoning is, at bottom, fairly simple: every new person coming in will have a car, and all the extra cars will muck up their ability to park right in front of their houses every day. That’s it… ultimately when you peel back the other layers of justification that is what remains.

      1. Maybe so, but then it is best to isolate their argument. If you read the complaints about Apodments for example, you will see that lots of people think they are ugly. Fair enough, I don’t like ugly buildings in my neighborhood either. But without this type of change, the suggestion is that this is part of the trade-off. In other words: you can have Apodments, with their affordable rent, but the cost is an ugly building (and more people with cars). Change the zoning laws (as Conlin suggests) and the “ugly building” part of the argument goes away.

  11. TOD is pretty much the same thing as walkable; it just defines an anchor point that’s also the main entrance/exit to the area. TOD without rapid transit is called “transit-ready development”, and has long existed in Reston Town Center and Burien and Ballard, where it was specifically intended to attract a subway station to it. Similar new urbanist developments exist with no aspirations of transit, which I think is a mistake, but if it’s walkable enough that people actually do walk to destinations within it rather than driving to the nearest Safeway outside it, that’s something.

    1. In some places where there’s no likelihood of (and sometimes no reason for) transit’s existence it may still make sense to focus on walkability. There are small towns, for example, that aren’t big enough to support transit systems. But walkability is important in every inch of human civilization. That’s really the heart of New Urbanist ideals, even if they get distorted when it comes to building cities in 21st Century America.

  12. I noticed the 70 is running trolleybuses again, that was nice to see. What was not nice to see, however, was four of them bunched together at Fairview and Denny.

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