129 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: LA Purple Line”

    1. Based on my son’s real life experiences these past months working at venues all over the area, at minimum wage, I would have to say that it density that makes life harsh on the poor.

      For example, by using a car, he is able to hop between his gigs working for an event management company (from Key Arena to Microsoft). What hampers him is not “sprawl”. In fact, sprawl offers fast access to so many venues he can do more work. It is the high costs of density and reaching venues. Low cost sprawl, coupled with fast freeway access, make for opportunities for the poor.

      However, the misguided notions of errant Social Engineers who insist that only transit and density can help, without ever verifying their ideas in the real life are to blame for making Seattle unlivable for all but the billionaires.

      That is the reality of it. Sprawl=jobs.

      1. Add housing and food costs to your son’s minimum wage budget, and ask again if driving all around Puget Sound chasing low paying wages at the current cost of gasoline really results in “sprawl=jobs”.

        It doesn’t.

      2. Ask him if trying to get from Kent East Hill to Redmond on a Saturday requires a car or not.

      3. Bailo evacuation alert. This was buried in one of the comments:

        New York City becomes ghost town. “At 4:32 p.m. Tuesday, every single resident of New York City decided to evacuate the famed metropolis. ‘We’re Getting The Hell Out Of This Sewer,’ Entire Populace Reports.” (The Onion)

      4. You say sprawl=jobs, while disregarding that the densest areas of King County are the ones with the lowest unemployment. Also, if sprawl truly did equal jobs, our regional commute patterns would be the exact opposite of what they actually are.

        You say the sprawling freeway connected suburbs make things easier for low wage workers, while disregarding that the forced East Hill – Redmond car commute has a fuel-only cost of $10/day and a time cost of 1.5 hours.

        You don’t get to say that car-dependent development is easier on the poor until you’ve had to tell a low-income car owner that the repairs needed to get their commuter vehicle back on the road will cost the equivalent of 2 months pay. Until you’ve seen the unbelieving, deer-in-the-headlights look on their face, and heard the stammering response “b-but, I need my car to get to work!”

        Before I moved up to the commercial department, I had that discussion every day, sometimes multiple times a day. Yes, they need their cars, and that’s the root problem that transit & density are trying to solve.

      5. John, I was wondering if you could comment on sprawl regarding public health. Air pollution, motor vehicle accidents, sedentary lifestyles, stress from traffic, and social exclusion of those who cannot drive would all seem to be alleviated (on a population level) by urban environments that are great for walking/biking as a form of transportation (i.e. dense enough for short travel distances to most amenities). Is my understanding flawed? I think most on this blog simply want more viable options than just driving everyday which often means more living options than just sprawl (the dominant form of development over the last half century, which happens to coincide with an explosion of obesity-related diseases). The fact that your son can drive to all these places for jobs is great, but we have to acknowledge that that too is the result of massive subsidy from governmental ‘social engineers.’

        Love to hear your perspective on climate change as well. Perhaps a future discussion. Thanks!

      6. It would cost nothing to abolish single-use zoning, and if the buildings had been more mixed together over the past fifty years, you’d have the same number of jobs and the same prices but it would be easier to live near work and to get to your destinations, and easier to support better transit,…. with no changes to the number of buildings or size of buildings.

        The jobs are in sprawlsville for two reasons. One, that’s where the business executives lived when they started them. Two, 80% of King County residents live outside Seattle, so even if growth is equal in every subarea there will still in aggregate be more of it in low-density lands.

        However, we seem to have reached a turning point over the past decade. All the high-paying jobs are going to the inner parts of Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, and Overlake/Redmond. The rest of Pugetopolis is mostly getting low-paying chain retail. (The Kent – Auburn industrial area is an exception, since it’s a unique niche.) So jobs are migrating to higher density, and over time this will become more obvious. Eventually this will reach critical mass, and everybody will want to be in these emerging centers and have good transit between them. (Except a few low-density diehards, who will always exist.)

      7. @Dale

        Air pollution->Hydrogen fuel cells

        Motor vehicle accidents->Google Cars

        Sedentary lifestyles->According to STB “walkability” means walking half a block to sit down at an espresso stand. In the country, we walk, ride, exercise and sport more.

        Stress from traffic->There’s not much traffic in the greenbelt out the back door of my apartment.

        Social exclusion of those who cannot drive->Paratransit to the senior center; Senior living complexes near the skate part. Good design and mobility accommodation make living in the suburbs more social than being stranded in an apodment on the 42nd floor!!

      8. 520 is well known to be the one commuter path that bucks the trend, mostly due to the Overlake employment centers and their island of suburban semi-density. And even on 520 the flow is practically even.

        Let me know when the 405/167 interchange reverses flow.

      9. There’s exactly one thing you could look at to be convinced Seattle is a reverse-commuting city, and that’s vehicles on 520, and only just at that. This is why Microsoft employees sometimes make the laughable claim that Seattle is a reverse-commute city; they’ve never looked at any road but 520. The I-90, I-5, 99, and 522 corridors have pretty strong forward-commuting patterns. The proof? WSDOT, KCM, CT, and ST look extensively at this info when planning service and reversible express lane operation.

        John, I’m sure there’s data out there about where people walk and bike most, and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t support your assertion.

        Obviously people live good and full lives in both “cities” and “suburbs”, to whatever extent you want to make a distinction between them. Can we all quit the hyperbole and/or elitism? Cities and suburbs have a lot in common, and need a lot of the same things when it comes to design, social opportunities, job opportunities, safety, and transportation. We can’t ignore the fact that people working at multiple job sites, or that have to travel to clients, need a road network that provides general access. We also can’t ignore the fact that a huge chunk of the traffic on our current roads aren’t doing anything like that, that lots of energy input will inevitably be required for long commutes, and that we’ll need to address energy usage long before lower-carbon vehicles are adopted en masse.

      10. @Al Diamond

        As a matter of fact when I was on the Kent Bicycle Advisory Board I remember seeing some data saying that the majority of trips that begin in Kent…end in Kent. This reflects the increasingly insular nature of the Suburban Jobs Engines.

        In fact, as I state, planners are now looking at ways to get stranded city poor people to these new jobs.

        Stimulus funds should be used to link city residents with distant suburban jobs, says a new study on job-siting trends.

        It’s easy to find jobs moving to the suburbs in places like metropolitan Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Chicago. Most weekday mornings, suburban thoroughfares are jammed with commuters trekking to their jobs – in their own communities. Employers, eager to establish leafy campuses in the suburbs in a bid to reduce commute times, are only adding to the local congestion. The trend, moreover, is probably immune to the ups and downs of the economy, concludes a study released Monday by the Brookings Institution.

        Yes, even a deep recession may not affect where jobs of the future are located – although the study’s author says states and cities should use some of the federal stimulus money now flowing their way to reverse part of the job outflow.

        Jobs leaving the cities include professions such as finance and insurance, which have long been centralized in city centers. As jobs move farther out, low-income workers increasingly lose out because many lack transportation to get to those jobs and cannot afford housing near them.

        http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/2009/0406/job-migration-to-suburbs-an-unstoppable-flow

      11. @JB: Of course most bike trips that start in Kent end in Kent. I’d never expect otherwise. The same is surely true of any town, perhaps of any neighborhood given boundaries of similar sizes (so, taking a fairly large neighborhood, I’d expect most bike trips that start in greater Ballard to end in greater Ballard). What I’m saying is that more people bike in Seattle because it’s reasonable for more people to do so there. That said, it’s just as important for Kent, Renton, and outlying Seattle neighborhoods to do things to make cycling and walking more attractive as it is for central Seattle neighborhoods to do so. The problems for walking and cycling in these places are remarkably similar.

        And I agree that it’s very important to connect people to growing suburban job centers.

      12. John said earlier that most transit trips are within Kent, so it’s not just bike trips and it could include driving too. And it’s certainly true everywhere that a majority of car trips are within 5 miles from home. But I suggest that Kent may be the only suburb with such a high rate of intra-city transit trips. Ridership is high on the 150/164/168/169/180 (west of Lake Meridian), and I don’t see the same in Renton, Des Moines, or Federal Way. It’s not just poverty or ethnic diversity because those burbs have that too. Rather it just seems that poor Kentians are more willing to ride the bus rather than scrape up a few hundred dollars for a beater car, and the fact that cental Kent is somewhat gridded in a kind of tic-tac-toe pattern may make local transit there more effective than in the surrounding burbs. In Burien I see a lot of ridership north on the Seattle routes, and somewhat east toward Southcenter/Renton, but not as much south or otherwise. In Renton I don’t see much off-peak ridership at all (a few people but not the crowds in Kent), and the same for Federal Way. So Kent may be an outlier.

  1. What a horribly drab and dreary way to spend a huge chunk of time – stuck in a concrete sewer lined with utilities and harsh lights, complete with echo chamber.
    Plan A – get outdoors on a bike, or walk and smell some roses.
    Plan B – rise above it all (rail, brt, tram – who cares)
    Plan C – take a bus with some urban interest along the way, albeit slow and jerky
    Plan D – get flushed, and emerge out the end of the sewer pipe daily

    1. I think that is a bit overstated, but that is the big reason that I love elevated rail. At best, I don’t mind riding an underground train. At worst, it feels rather claustrophobic. On the other hand, elevated rail is fun. People pay extra just to ride the silly Monorail, for example. They are also (usually) cheaper. One exception is when right of way costs are really high (which is why underground rail for downtown makes sense). The only big drawback is local opposition (folks don’t like noisy trains in their neighborhood).

    2. All I could think about is the driver stuck in that tunnel all day driving the train back and forth through LA.

    3. Mic,

      This time, you’re quite wrong.

      Los Angeles — built-out, gridded, fully urbanized, quite-dense-in-aggregate Los Angeles — is huge. And the highways that would allow you to cover such distances in any reasonable amount of time are screwed.

      The fact that one can drop down into this “sewer” and emerge in a completely different part of town 8 minutes later (Mid-Wilshire to downtown), or on the other side of the Hollywood Hills 25 minutes later, is an absolutely revelation for that city.

      Give me 8-25 minutes in a tube over 25 minutes to an hour in traffic (to cover those same distances) any day.

      1. OK, I’m just having some fun this morning.
        I also hate freeway noise walls, as they remind me of the LA drainage ditches, being surrounded by concrete on 3 sides.

      2. No, Mic’s actually right in a limited sense. I agree that elevated rail is, all other things equal, more pleasant to ride than underground rail. Of course, in the choice you pose between underground rail and horribly slow traffic, I’d choose underground rail in a moment.

      3. LA had really no choice but to go underground with a subway. An elevated anything would have added to the already crowded infrastructure on the surface level. And as a rider, I would much prefer the subway than a crowded freeway. I do, though, feel sorry for the driver…….seeing that tunnel all day. In addition, I was surprised at how few riders there were……..I wonder what time that video was taken.

      4. The only possible benefit of an elevated over a subway is that, under favorable conditions, it can be somewhat cheaper.

        That’s the full extent of its advantage.

        Otherwise, in any genuine urban situation, an elevated will cast shadows, dominate the streetscape, provide less weather protection, increase the perception of wait times, have less of a “safe haven” psychological benefit at night, and, most importantly, will be slower thanks to the route being forced to hew to the street grid at all times, likely requiring tighter turns and being subjected to a lower maximum speed and copious “slow zones”.

        There are some elegant elevateds in Paris and Berlin, and some quite sleek and efficient ones in Tokyo. But even in those places, the trains can’t help but create both a real and psychological barrier for pedestrians, to the point where even gentrified Paris has some palpable economic demarcations enforced by elevated Métro barriers.

        The elevateds of Brooklyn and the Bronx are far less elegant, and in every way inferior (in street profile and in user experience) to the lines lucky enough to have been replaced with subways before the Great Depression hit.

        Meanwhile, Chicago’s El is famous for its rickety charm, but anyone who has had to use it a lot knows it can be as slow as the dirt that only slightly predates it.

        Boston moved its last significant stretch of urban elevated below ground in 2004.

        Unless you are a tourist, you are not using transit for the journey. You are using it for the destination. Just as the transportation purpose of automobiles outweighs the Sunday-driving romance by which they are often marketed, the best transit is not slowed, detoured, or subverted for the sake of a few glimpses of scenery. Don’t believe the Save The Viaduct hype; it’s more important for a city to have interesting places to be than to have beautiful vistas to glance at while struggling to reach your destination.

        If you are building in a place (and time) that can possibly justify the cost of a true subway, the result will be better. Unequivocally. Full stop. It strikes me as nuts that in 2013 this is even being subjected to debate.

    4. You must be retired if you think a slow bus ride is preferable to a fast subway ride because of the view. I, for one, value my time, especially during the work week.

      1. As tourists in Central London, we found the buses were a better option because the time it took to get somewhere by Tube when the journey required multiple transfers was huge. Sometimes what looked like a simple transfer was actually a number of long underground tunnels and long, long escalator rides. The bus transfers that looked exactly the same on the map were in fact simple transfers and the same glorious Transport for London maps worked for the bus stops, but were less misleading about the distances (a block at most in our experience). You of course got to see where you were going and watch the neighborhoods pass by. Even though traffic sometimes didn’t move much,the frequency of the buses and their reliability was much better.

      2. London — and especially tourist London — notoriously contains a number of high-demand short-hop trips that are ill-served by the layout of the Underground.

        The failure you describe is one of mapping and multi-modal network integration. High-frequency hypotenuse bus lines should be easy to spot on a TfL map; instead, the bus and subway networks are treated as unrelated.

        But this does not mean that super-terranean transit somehow preferable, as you seem to suggest. It merely means that non-subway options should be made as legible as possible for the specific situations in which they might prove advantageous.

        You would not wish to forsake the Underground for the linear or (longer) multi-leg trips it does best, nor would you want to choose the bus in the vicinity of the many bottlenecks under which trains effortlessly glide. And despite the best efforts of TfL to scale the buses (vehicles designed for circulation, lots of exclusive lanes, going cashless), you couldn’t even begin to imagine what they would be like if 3.66 million daily subway trips ceased to exist.

  2. With regards to the 10 weekend + 1 week closure of the DSST to accommodate construction of the East Link / Central Link connection (and possibly the turn back track at the IDS …

    Would be great if Sound Transit could install temporary switches in order to allow trains to still operate north of IDS … so U-Link service could still be operated.

    Temp Track Switches:
    http://www.wa98104.us/trams/temp-tram-switch-A.jpg

    http://www.wa98104.us/trams/temp-tram-switch-B.jpg

    1. I expect they will just single-track into the northern part of the tunnel (or maybe just into Westlake Station) using the crossover at Convention Place.

  3. Isro, Tata Motors develop India’s first fuel cell bus

    Gandhi, a Padmashree awardee and retired scientist from Isro, and Dr M Raja, DGM of TML made the announcement the two organisations have developed fuel cell bus for the first time in India, which will run on hydrogen.

    “This is a leap for automobile industry for future transportation. In this vehicle there will be zero pollution since the product of cold combustion is water. This is a result of great team work of Tata Motors and Isro specialists with contributions from DSIR (department of scientific and industrial research) and PESO (Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation),” Gandhi informed in Bengaluru.

    http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/Bangalore/Isro-Tata-Motors-develop-India-s-first-fuel-cell-bus/Article1-1099844.aspx

    1. And this one isn’t really transit…but it could be the next generation of espresso cart (something near and dear to Seattlites)…

      Fuel Cell Coffees Now Available on Swiss Federal Railways

      CEKAtec AG’s fuel cell powered drinks trolley for long-distance train journeys began a one month trial on Swiss Federal Railways’ Zurich–Berne route on Wednesday 24th July. Traditional trolleys on the route use batteries to power their coffee machines, but these tend to be exhausted before the end of longer journeys. By replacing the batteries with CEKAtec’s IHPoS fuel cell and low-pressure hydrogen storage, the trolley’s runtime is doubled – providing enough power for around 120 espressos. Furthermore the fuel cell solution is smaller than, and half the weight of, the conventional system.

      http://www.fuelcelltoday.com/news-events/news-archive/2013/july/fuel-cell-coffees-now-available-on-swiss-federal-railways#sthash.9s8oY333.dpuf

    1. Is that why the sprawling suburbs around Detroit thrived while dense Detroit sank?

      Is it that all the schemes and dreams of density and re-urbanification laid out under the cold light of reality are shown to be false?

      Is it that Detroit now has a chance at survival only by de-densifying and becoming one with the suburbs with their bountiful network of highways and jobs?

      The suburbs are the future. We even had avante garde theater at Kent Station! Give it up, densifiers!

      Kent contemporary theatre company to present ‘Dog Sees God’ at Kent Station
      http://www.kentreporter.com/entertainment/217149051.html

      1. The Detroit story is in how the suburbification of a formerly dense urban core has both bankrupted it, and stalled growth of the larger region.

        When you are a one industry town and that industry is shrinking, the correct answer is never “build more highways!”

      2. Dense Detroit? If only it were. Then it would have been yuppified decades ago like Chicago and most upper midwest cities were.

      3. @phil: Have you ever been to the upper midwest? A city can’t “yuppify” without jobs. The economic stories of struggling rust-belt cities don’t actually follow some kind of facile Density Equals Destiny pattern. A lot of those cities are struggling, and they’re struggling in particular with blue-collar unemployment. Chicago has been big and economically diverse enough to make up for industrial losses with white-collar jobs, but still has a ton of problems. Its inner-city inequality isn’t going away as it’s “yuppifying” — no surprise, really. Its growing outer suburbs are separated from its rich, dense inner core by a layer of industrial land in decline, dysfunctional green belts, and undesirable residential neighborhoods — places where opportunity is in short supply.

        Detroit became a one-industry town as the auto industry outspent others for capital and talent. Auto companies bought formerly independent suppliers, increasing efficiency at the cost of robustness. Then foreign automakers beat decadent Detroit ones on design and management and lower-cost cities beat it on labor as cheap/fast shipping and communications improvements meant a car’s parts could be sourced from anywhere, designed anywhere, built anywhere. Detroit couldn’t dominate the auto industry anymore, and it had nothing else to fall back on.

      4. @Al: I grew up in the Chicago suburbs. My generation started moving back to the city while the big companies were still fleeing to the outer suburbs. Folks commute to jobs all over the world, in and out cities.

        As I said, Detroit has never had the density to make a go of it as a real city. Nothing you wrote has even talked about that, though you make some good points about other issues. But if no one wants to live in your city it will die a slow and painful death.

      5. How do you mean “real” city? Detroit certainly functioned industrially and economically as a city until it defeated itself.

        Sprawl is part of Detroit’s problem, especially because it isn’t just sprawl, it’s sprawl in one place and essentially abandonment in another, a pattern that’s both hard to break and also too inefficient to sustain without a strong economy. I just don’t think it’s Detroit’s only problem or its biggest problem.

      6. Expository nuance? Macroeconomic context? Acceptance that economic history is complex and multi-faceted?

        Al, don’t you know this is the internet!? Pick one obsession and posit that all global problems can be solved through indiscriminate application of it! Then flog it ’til it hurts!

        Not long ago on an Atlantic Cities comment thread, some streetcar obsessive berated me with straight-faced insistence that Toronto’s awful, bunched, forever traffic-clobbered 504 King streetcar line was the only thing that had prevented a certain upscale Victorian-era neighborhood from being replaced by “crack houses”. Because mixed-traffic streetcars are that awesome.

        Never mind that Canada never suffered urban flight on the same scale as the States did. Never mind that urban areas like the Westside of Los Angeles were able to retain their wealth and appeal despite the total loss of streetcar networks, while West Philadelphia devolved into a terrifying ghetto with its trolleys intact. None of that mattered. Streetcars or crack houses were your only two choices.

        Got to love the internet.

  4. Interesting. This blog, which essentially a train blog, and frequently writes about transit and safety, still hasn’t mentioned the deadly train crash in Spain. The most widely talked about train story in years, and STB refuses to talk about it. Very odd.

    1. What’s to discuss? Seattle doesn’t have high speed passenger service like Spain does. If there was a crash on a light rail system or a state-operated Amtrak service then it might be relevant.

      1. Will, are you suggesting that STB only writes about things that already exist in the Seattle area?

      2. No, but neither is Seattle Transit Blog obliged to devote a post to every train crash that happens across the world.

      3. Sam is right. Very odd not to even mention it in any regard: safety, design, use, history or anything. If this blog is primarily train transit then that is an utter failure being that this topic had international coverage. You can’t take this blog seriously when you don’t cover major topics in your blog category.

      4. Good thing this blog isn’t primarily about train transit, then, given that Seattle’s public transit network consists mostly of buses?

    2. I heard the driver was going double the speed limit on that particular section of track.

      1. Apparently the train was travelling at more than twice the speed limit–no surprise it derailed. It will be interesting to know why the signal system allowed the train to exceed the limit, however.

        Sam also wanted to know why STB hasn’t discussed the Megantic disaster. No official report has been issued, but it appears the driver was near his hours-of-service limit and tied his train up without setting enough brakes and failed to perform a proper brake test. The brakes didn’t hold and because the train was parked (unattended) on a 1% grade the laws of physics took over and created the explosion. Relevant to Seattle?

        There also was a tragic bus crash in Indiana yesterday. Shall we talk about it?

        Any car crashes we need to cover?

    3. Let’s talk about train safety, WaPo did a nice job of discussing the issue in relation to the EU area. Two wheelers are death on wheels, and you are 44x more likely to die in a car crash than in a train crash (assuming the same mileage).
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/07/25/spains-train-crash-was-a-rare-aberration-for-europes-ultra-safe-rail-system/

      Here’s the chart –
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/files/2013/07/risk-by-mode-transport.png

      1. Oops. Used airlines rather than trains (haven’t put my contacts in yet).
        You are 29x more likely to die in a car crash than in a train crash (assuming the same mileage) in the EU.

    4. I’ll cover it for you Sam, since you feel like it’s so important, and maybe that’ll make clear why it wasn’t necessary for STB to do it:

      A criminally negligent train driver was going more than double the recommended speed around a corner, resulting in the deaths of approximately eighty people and injuring more than a hundred more. For his blatant disregard for the safety protocols of the rail line, he is being charged with homicide by professional recklessness by the Spanish court. Despite this horrific incident, your chances of death while driving a car remain approximately 10 times higher per mile traveled than that of trains.

      1. Shane, first off, bringing up car deaths on a train blog is tangential. And it is necessary to cover both the bad and the good news. We get our fill of the positive train news here. We even get our fill of the frivolous and creepy train news (riders eating dinner on the Tube/no pants light rail ride). We are adults here. We all love trains here. But that doesn’t mean us readers only want to read feel-good train stories.

      2. Bringing up car deaths is certainly not tangential, given that a big part of the reason many of us support trains and other modes of travel is because of their relative impacts on health and safety. The issue is international and sensational, and as such it’s been covered to death elsewhere. What do you think STB–a primarily local-oriented blog–has to add to the discussion?

    5. I like to wait until the investigation is done.

      The equipment involved was Talgo equipment, which is used by the Cascades service.

      1. I just hope it’s a deliberate, and thorough investigation, and that the news media hype doesn’t control the proceedings (al la the Amanda Knox trial).

  5. So, if Montlake Freeway Station is eventually, going to be closed when the new Montlake lid gets built, what happens during construction? We’ve all heard about the final plan in which thru buses would be able to stop on top of the lid and continue on (at the expense of occasionally making everyone going from downtown to Redmond wait 20 minutes in a line of Husky football traffic). But, while the new lid is in the process of being built, this obviously won’t work.

    So, during the inevitable 2-3 year construction period, what happens? Do we run all-day service on the 540 and 542, even though it would likely be mostly empty? Do we subject off-peak riders on the 545 to a giant loop-de-loop detour through the U-district? Or do we tell everyone in North Seattle who commutes to Redmond that if they ever need to leave work early or late, they have to suck it up and backtrack through downtown, however long it takes, or wait up to 30 minutes for a transfer to/from the 271 at Evergreen Point?

    1. At peak times the 542 has 15 min headways and the 271 has 10 min headways. A rider could transfer to either at evergreen point, and they’d generally have to wait no more than 5 mins. While adding 5 minutes to a lot of people’s trip isn’t ideal, it isn’t the end of the world either.

      Also, I think it’s likely that the 542 will be beefed-up to an all day route with improved evening as well. I’ve interpreted the addition of the 542 this early (before the closure of the freeway station) as an attempt to ramp up ridership on that route, because they knew the’d need it eventually.

      There’s really no point of adding to the the 540 after that, riders from Kirkland can just grab either the 542 or 271.

      1. My best guess at this point is that when Montlake Freeway Station closes, ST will extend the operating hours of the 542 to at least run every 30 minutes midday on weekdays, but not evenings or weekends, as ridership per bus during those times would be unlikely to exceed the single digits.

        At best, I can foresee a three-pronged approach:
        1) Coordinate schedules between 255, 271, and 545 to keep the wait time at Evergreen Point for the transfer down to a minimum
        2) Put real-time arrival signs at Evergreen Point, especially westbound, so if your bus is late and you miss the 271, you can continue on downtown, rather than be stuck at Evergreen Point for 30 minutes to hour before the next 271 shows up.
        3) Put lots of bike parking on the Evergreen Point lid so Seattle residents who don’t want to deal with either of these options can just bike across 520 and catch the bus on the other side. At 3 miles of flat trail, biking across the bridge should take no more than about 15 minutes. (The trail across the new bridge should be open before any of this happens).

        Of course the off-peak solution that would really be best, which no one wants to consider, would be to truncate the 545 outright at the UW station, with a transfer to Link to get to downtown, then re-invest the savings to nearly double the frequency of the route. (Yes, during many times of day, getting from one end of downtown Seattle to the other can take just as long as getting from the Olive Way entrance ramp all the way to Redmond).

      2. Why is it that no one wants to consider truncating the 545 and 255 (at least off-peak) at UW Station? Doing that will give everyone much higher frequencies than any other scenario. In addition, making the 255 and 545 go to UW Station would really improve network connectivity between Northeast/North Seattle and the Eastside. Currently, it takes multiple connections to get from anywhere in Northeast Seattle to the Eastside during non-peak hours because the only route that goes from Montlake to NE Seattle is the very infrequent 25: however, if the 545/255 went to UW Station, this would allow all residents of Northeast and North Seattle to access the Eastside with only one connection. In addition, the connection from Link to 255/545 could be quite fast if designed properly: it could even be competitive for downtown trips due to increased frequency.

      3. I agree with you 100%. Unfortunately, you are preaching to the choir.

        In reality, there are a few big issues. Even though most of them are simply caused by bureaucratic incompetence, together they are sufficient reasons why ST has no plans to ever truncate downtown buses along 520.

        1) The space immediately adjacent to the UW station won’t have any room for buses to even load or unload passengers, let alone layover and turn around. The irony here is that the space that should have been allocated to a bus stop, turnaround, and layover, is instead going to parking. And, not even parking for commuters riding the train, but parking for people going to Husky football games who don’t ride the train, parking which will largely sit idle on the 357 days a year without a Husky game (or store cars that could have easily fit in the lot on the other side of the stadium). On a typical weekday, the parking lots surrounding Husky stadium are at least half empty.

        2) Due to 1), the closest buses can stop to the station would be the existing bus stops at Montlake/Shelby and Pacific St./Pacific Place. Purists dismiss this flat out as too far to walk for a transfer, even though it’s only a 5-minute walk at most (less if you walk fast), and that, even with the increased transfer penalty, it is still time-competitive with, if not faster than a bus that keeps going downtown, only to take 15 minutes to crawl from the Stewart St. exit ramp to 5th and Pine, followed by another 15 minutes to crawl from 5th and Pine to Safeco Field.

        3) Suburbanites who aren’t used to riding transit, and only ride it once or twice a year for events downtown, have a tendency to get freaked out at the mention of the T-word (transfer). In public meetings about any proposal to create a forced transfer, in return for more frequent service, will face vehement opposition. Remember, these people don’t really care about access to the U-district or north Seattle in general – they figure they will just drive for those trips, so the quality of transit to get there doesn’t really matter to them. Many people will be skeptical that the increased frequency the truncation would buy would actually happen, and that it wouldn’t disappear, never to return, as soon as the next recession hits.

        4) ST believes that once Link to Lynnwood is finished, trains will be already packed by the time they approach the UW station, and will have no room to absorb additional riders from 520. I believe this figure is mostly based on grossly-inflated ridership estimates from Lynnwood, especially during the off-peak.

      4. Regarding (1), are there really no plans to put a bus stop here? https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ll=47.649648,-122.304461&spn=0.000029,0.033023&t=m&z=16&layer=c&cbll=47.64939,-122.304506&panoid=D47KWUFAeOjCOu6aqbyJDQ&cbp=12,21.99,,0,8.13
        Yikes. Would it be possible to squeeze one in after construction is done? Layovers could occur wherever else in the general U-District/U Village area where there is room, or operating a live-loop might be feasible.

        Also, what is the plan for connecting northeast Seattle to UW Station? Will the NE buses (like the 65, 75, 25, 68, 372) be rerouted to UW Station via Montlake, or are they still going to continue to go through campus (and force a 5-minute (?) walk for everyone who is going downtown)?

      5. Here are the details of why there will be no bus stop right next to the station? https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2010/10/13/montlake-triangle-bus-stops/.

        “Also, what is the plan for connecting northeast Seattle to UW Station?” Currently, there is no plan. Nor can Metro really make any plan without first knowing whether they are going to have to cut 17% of service or not.

        My understanding is that the general conservativeness of Metro means they will mostly preserve the status quo in 2016, saving the big restructuring for 2021, at which point Northeast Seattle will probably connect to Link via U-district or Roosevelt Station, not Montlake Station.

        Nevertheless, there are some small things Metro could do that would help a lot. One idea might be to reroute the 74 into a route like this: http://goo.gl/maps/2DITq, turning left from 55th to 25th, then taking Montlake, and using the existing route 243 bus stop to unload riders next to the rail station, and the Montlake Triangle to turn around. By drastically shortening the route, Metro could more than double the number of trips each day. Metro could even operate reverse-direction service using a modified route like this: http://goo.gl/maps/wqETY, which would serve the Children’s Hospital (in a much more direct manner than any bus does today) on the way back to its terminus.

        Another thing NE Seattle desperately needs is evening and weekend service on 25th which could, perhaps, be paid for by axing the 25.

        That being said, while I really like the idea, I’m not holding my breath for either of these ideas to actually happen.

      6. “what is the plan for connecting northeast Seattle to UW Station?”

        We need a mantra. “We don’t know! We don’t know!” Metro will probably keep mum until 2015 or 2019, judging from its recent practices. Metro may not have even studied it yet, since it’s been working on RapidRide and lost planning staff in the recession, and now has to work on next year’s cuts. But many of us assume, as asdf does, that 2016 will have a Capitol Hill reorganization (including a delayed FHS reorganization), but not much change in the U-District.

        The main reason is the 5-year gap between UW station and U-District station openings. Most of the ideal reorganizations and benefits of Link depend on U-District station. I don’t think it’s likely the 71/72/73X will be truncated until 2021 because of congestion on Pacific Street, minimal layover space at UW station, and degraded travel time. But the 71/72/73X will probably be thinned out as half its riders switch to Link. Metro may do the “route 80” thing they’ve been considering, combining the 66/67/71/72/73X into a downtown – U-District express and U-District – Northgate local. The 70 would then have to become full-time, and something done with the 71/72/73 tails. Metro has been considering replacing the 72 and 73 with more service on the 372 and 373. As for the 71, it would do great as a route to Roosevelt station and then either take over the 48N or become a new route to 65th NW, but that all depends on Roosevelt station. Without Roosevelt station, Metro might just truncate the 71 and leave it at that.

        As for the 65/68/75, if Metro sends them to UW station it would lose the through-campus routing, Campus Parkway connection, and future connection to U-District station. I’d rather have them go to UW station because the through-campus routing is so slow, but I have a feeling that Metro will judge students going to campus as more important than anything else, because they’re such a bulk ridership.

      7. Of course, if Metro really wants to cut, and travel time be damned, it could just truncate the 71/72/73X and force everybody to transfer to the 43/44/48 to UW station. The “crowd” in the 71/72/73X’s ridership starts in the U-District, so most of them wouldn’t even be on the first segment. It would probably have to add a shuttle on 15th/Pacific to prevent the 43/44/48 from being packed as full as the 71/72/73X are, but that would be doable.

      8. A bus that takes Montlake to the UW station could still continue on Pacific St. to campus parkway. In fact, the 65 and 75 already do this as their snow route. And during the peak, there should be plenty of service hours to go around to have every other bus alternate between going up the hill to campus and staying on Montlake to serve the station.

    2. If 520 bus routes should be truncated at UW Station, why shouldn’t all I-90 bus routes be truncated at Mount Baker Station? All westbound buses could loop around to Rainier Ave southbound, then dump everyone off at Rainier Station? Great idea, right?

      1. Those cases aren’t remotely comparable in terms of travel time. The 545 takes 11 minutes westbound to get from Montlake to 5th & Pine, compared to 6 minutes for Link from UW to Westlake (although you have to account for the time it takes the bus to go over the Montlake Bridge so it’s basically a wash when considering higher frequency). However, the 550 takes 3 minutes to get from Rainier to International District Station, compared to 9 minutes on Link from Mt Baker to Int’l District, and it takes longer to get to Mount Baker from the freeway than it does to get to UW Station. Basically, truncating I-90 routes at Mount Baker would not be time-competitive with current bus service, while truncating 520 routes at UW would be.

      2. Very well said. Also, the figure of 11 minutes from Montlake to 5th and Pine is a best case assumption that not very realistic. On an average weekend, you’re looking at 11 minutes to 5th and Pine from the Stewart St. exit ramp. At 5:30 on a weekday afternoon, you are usually looking at 10 minutes from Montlake to the Stewart St. exit ramp (due to I-5 inevitably being backed up), 5-10 minutes to clear Denny after getting off the freeway (2-3 light cycles at ~3 minutes a piece), then another 10 minutes to get to 5th and Pine from there (the lights are timed so that every bus stop means another missed light that takes about a minute to change), for a total of close to 30 minutes.

        Even if existing bus service didn’t change at all, I would totally get off the 545 at Montlake and transfer to Link for events downtown after work, rather than slog it out on the 545 through all that traffic.

        I-90, on the other hand, the approach into downtown is much faster and is largely, if not completely, separated from car traffic. Unlike the 545’s 11 minutes from Montlake to Westlake being a complete joke, the 550’s 3 minutes from Ranier to ID station is real and true, even during the peak.

      3. All we need is flyover ramps from the HOV lanes to southbound 23rd Ave S. Make them convertible to light rail, add some track and superstructure down to Mount Baker Station, and we could have a peak direct line that bypasses downtown and SODO, saves about 15 minutes in trip time, and makes the center platform moot. Great idea, Sam!

      4. Most of them probably should be truncated, although Mercer Island or South Bellvue would probably be better.

        btw, I ride buses in the I90 corridor daily.

      5. “Those cases aren’t remotely comparable in terms of travel time.”

        Of course not, but the great Sam needs a comparison in order to make a troll.

  6. Does anyone know of a good map (or series of maps) for Seattle that show density? The best one I’ve found is this: http://buildthecity.wordpress.com/2011/03/19/census-2010-city-of-seattle-population-density-map/

    It is great, but it only shows Seattle. Furthermore, it is based on census data, so it only shows where people live. It doesn’t show where people work. A map that combined that data with commercial square footage might do the job. I just don’t know of such a map.

      1. That’s funny. My census tract (#7) , south slope of QA, which includes a ton of houses on double lots above me and even one house with it’s own block, shows a population of 6,800. The densest part of Capitol Hill is only 8,600. Must be a difference in area for the tracts. The density drops off dramatically for the other tracts in Capitol Hill.

      2. @Shane: And tract 7’s density is limited to a small portion of it. Basically along QA Ave and along/to the south of W Olympic – Aloha.

    1. That’s a cool map, but I think it only shows where people live, not where people work. Obviously, there are other considerations when building a transit system, but I think those are the main two. For example, much of downtown appears to have very low density, but as everyone knows, lot of people work there (they just live somewhere else). So, I guess I should rephrase the question, does anyone know of any good employment (density) maps? Hopefully these could be combined with the same population density maps. I think this would lead to some interesting things. For example, Fremont is not very dense from a population or employment standpoint, but combined it is fairly big. Southwest Queen Anne is probably huge if you combined the two. Meanwhile, you have places like the business district in downtown which are pretty much the opposite of Ballard.

    2. Sorry Ross, I wasn’t really answering your question. I just thought it was a cool, interactive map.

    1. As Bukowski said, you’re arguing about what color bars you want on your prison cells.

    2. If you want a parking space, people, buy one. Don’t expect the entire city to band together and give you one for nothing.

      1. If you want a parking space, people, buy one. Don’t expect the entire city to band together and give you one for nothing.

        What exactly does that mean?

      2. @Alki: It means that there’s no right to free street parking. Price the resource and watch rational things happen in the market.

      3. @Alki: It means that there’s no right to free street parking. Price the resource and watch rational things happen in the market.

        That is your opinion. Many people don’t share that opinion, and yet, the city is trying to make it happen despite what residents want or think. That is why its created an uproar.

        After all, its a ridiculous premise……..that because you build your new bldg by a bus stop, suddenly parking requirements are reduced dramatically. Developers get to save a ton of money at the expense of adjacent property owners.

        And if it was only about free street parking, you might have a slight point. However, what it does is increase traffic in a residential neighborhood, brings unfamiliar people into the neighborhood, leads to petty vandalism on weekends, and makes the world feel just little bit more unsafe. Those are very big issues for property owners.

        That’s why people are incensed.

      4. That is your opinion. Many people don’t share that opinion, and yet, the city is trying to make it happen despite what residents want or think. That is why its created an uproar.

        Those are weasel words. A fact doesn’t become an opinion just because it’s not something you want to hear.

        It’s a fact that parking is a scarce resource — which you seem to understand, given how scared you are that the new residents of the proposed developments might take your parking spaces. And it’s a fact that we currently give out this scarce resource, for free, to whoever’s first in line.

        Those are very big issues for property owners.

        Why does owning property *in proximity to* some other property automatically give you veto power over what the owner of the other property does with it?

        If I’m your neighbor, do I get to tell you that you’re not allowed to buy an American car? Do I get to tell you that you can’t paint your walls green, or that you can’t have Formica countertops? Ooh, do I get to tell you that you can’t have a garage? After all, a garage increases traffic in a residential neighborhood (since it encourages you to own a car), and brings unfamiliar people into the neighborhood (since other people can park in your driveway), and harms the environment (since it encourages you to own a car), and makes me feel just a little bit more unsafe (since I might get hit by your car). These are very big issues for me.

      5. A fact doesn’t become an opinion just because it’s not something you want to hear.

        Bravo, Aleks! Bravissimo! Every single thing that’s wrong with the Seattle Process can be traced to abuses of the distinction between fact and opinion, and to undue influence given to the latter.

        On the parking issue: I’ve seen some thought-experiment rumblings about the idea of instituting a “cap and trade” system for zoned residential permits, grandfathering in all current properties, which would make permits progressively harder for new arrivals to access unless they bought or rented from a pre-existing owner with a permit attached to the house or unit.

        I have to admit that this idea offends my small-“d” democratic sensibilities, as it willfully creates two segregated classes of residents with regard to the right to publicly-owned space, and seems to reinforce our troublesome habit of giving a louder megaphone to the zoning/transit/lifestyle preferences of established residents over the equally valid concerns of newer arrivals.

        The argument in favor of the idea is that it codifies, for the first time, the inherent scarcity and value of on-street parking, preventing the perpetuation of the destructive view that oodles of “free” parking is somehow a “right”. As with other “cap and trade” systems — carbon pollution, fish stocks — the value will eventually rise to reflect the scarcity of the resource; should the grandfathered-in permit holders happen to be (unjustly) enriched along the way, so be it.

        I have yet to resolve these competing arguments for myself.

      6. One argument in favor of such a “cap-and-trade” system is that it gives removes one of the biggest objections homeowners have to denser development in their neighborhoods. In fact, once density hits a certain level, those existing homeowners get a real financial incentive to advocate in favor of denser development in their neighborhood.

        As it is now, a big apartment building going in down the street is cause for concern for many people. After all, they might have come to rely on the ability to park on the street for free, and are worried about nearby land use affecting their ability to do that. You can come in and say “you have no right to expect to leave your property on the public right-of-way for free.” While that’s true as far as the law goes, the argument doesn’t seem to be winning over many people who might have to put their cars someplace else if new residents come in and start to compete for that curb space.

        Under a cap-and-trade system, the concern existing landowners have about losing “their” parking is 100% wiped out. It actually becomes their parking, that they can use as long as they want. All it costs the city is the revenue it could otherwise bring in by selling RPZ permits or installing parking meters, and that seems like a small price to pay for the perpetual property tax revenue that new, dense buildings would bring in.

        In fact, as density hits a certain level, these tradeable parking permits actually give homeowners a financial incentive to move their cars to their own property. If they have a driveway they’re not using, or a bit of their yard that they could turn into a parking spot, they can start putting their car there and sell or rent the street permit to someone else. Eventually an equilibrium will be reached where the cost of a street parking spot will approach the marginal cost of adding an off-street space on private property.

      7. Exactly; that’s the intent. And it does make some logical sense.

        I still have trouble getting over any policy that anti-democratically and explicitly privileges the group with the already-disproportionate voice over their next-door neighbors.

        The competing model would be the parking-roulette that exists in the densest parts of Boston, where there are quite a few more more zone-based residential permits than there exist spaces. Not paying for parking is, by necessity and by design, pretty difficult. If you truly need and value ease and predictability, eventually you’ll just pay to rent off-street parking.

        Of course, Seattle is a long, long way from that kind of scarcity.

      8. For me, the answer is clear. The current homeowners *already* have more rights than the rest of us. Enshrining those rights, in the form of tradable parking permits, would make it possible to fix the rest of our broken system.

        Also, you can eventually charge a periodic fee to the holder of a permit, as a form of land tax. Like all land taxes, it’s extremely efficient and non-distorting. So our gift doesn’t have to be all that expensive, in the long run.

      9. d.p.

        Parking minimums already, in effect, codify privilege for existing residents. It’s the new residents that have to provide one parking space per unit — if you have a house with no garage, no one complains that you’re taking up a valuable resource.

        Explicitly granting that privilege will take away the fear that density will remove it through the back door, and allow us to get away from parking minimums.

    3. Apparently KOMO is trying to stir up controversy over parking just like the Seattle Times. Most people could care less. It really isn’t that hard to park in Fremont if you are willing to walk a few (pleasant) blocks. I do it all the time. A bit of a pain, but the price I pay for driving a car (I can always pay at the lot, which has plenty of empty spaces, but I’m cheap).

      1. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people really do care. Parking usually is the primary issue underlying opposition to new development, here and elsewhere. And explaining that curb parking isn’t a right and shouldn’t be free doesn’t exactly convince many people. It’s not about logic, it’s about being given something for free for years and then being told that now you have to pay for it.

      2. Apparently KOMO is trying to stir up controversy over parking just like the Seattle Times.

        Let me tell you………the controversy is getting stirred up all on its own. People are furious throughout the city. That’s what happens whenever ideologues push their agenda too hard and too fast.

      3. You’re right, Alki. It’s time to stop the ideologues from pushing their agenda!

        It’s time to right the wrong of the past century and remove the minimum parking requirements installed by special interests!

      4. +1

        I am beyond tired of paying for my neighbors’ parking spots. I don’t appreciate paying for Alki’s parking spot, either.

  7. Sprawl news.

    Atlantic Cities: The surprising places where sprawl is still the building pattern of choice

    Futurewise: commentary on same

    Futurewise: Spokane enlarges its urban growth boundary

    The first two articles say that although Washington is generally ahead of most of the country in channeling growth to infill areas, four counties are exceptions: Thurston (Olympia), Whatcom (Bellingham), and Benton/Franlkin (Richland-Kennewick-Pasco). These made the top-29 list of the most sprawl-growth nationwide. (Some of the comments question the calculations, or say it’s because of the arbitrary way the urban growth boundaries were defined, so I’m not 100% sure about it. But it does shed light on Bailo’s ongoing comment that “There’s lots of growth in Centralia.”)

    In the Spokane article it says Spokane County wants to add 7,000 acres of rural/outlying land to its urban growth area.Even though “downtown Spokane is riddled with more than its share of vacant lots and empty buildings” and “the Urban Growth Area itself has not reached the population it was planned to accommodate”.

    There’s one interesting difference in how this is being debated now vs when Bellevue and Redmond grew in the 1960s-70s. Then there was no discussion of the cost of sprawl, and it was all just absorbed by the postwar prosperity. Now, organizations like Futurewise are pointing out that low-density infastructure (pipes, roads, power, police) will be more expensive to build and maintain than infill growth. Where will Spokane find the money in an increasingly-unaffordable economy? The other difference is that numerous entities oppose the expansion: “neighborhoods, Spokane cities, and the State Departments of Commerce, Transportation, and Fish & Wildlife”.

    The article has some good quotes: “The spread-out pattern of work makes job access a challenge for people in lower income households, who have fewer choices of where to live. And without dense employment districts, businesses cannot take advantage of the sharing of ideas, workers, and clients, which close proximity to other businesses and employees brings.”

    1. This was really the goal behind Spokane’s $2,200,000,000.00 bypass. More cheap sprawl for the developers.

  8. Anybody else make it to the “WTF, Olympia?” rally yesterday? I wasn’t particularly impressed, and I left after five or so speakers. Most people there were on some sort of political agenda, like promoting for Sawant, $15/hr minimum wage, Green Party, etc. I didn’t see much of the true pro-transit crowd that I’d hoped to.

    1. Turnout wasn’t great. The folks who were there were certainly a “true pro-transit crowd” (transit is part of a broader progressive economic agenda) but they weren’t the usual STB meetup suspects either. The Transit Riders Union is a more left-wing group, and they’re newer, so their ability to drive big turnout isn’t as strong as it will hopefully be someday.

      1. It certainly doesn’t help that they rescheduled it at the last minute from two weeks ago to the weekend of the Capitol Hill Block Party.

    2. I might have gone but I only heard about it a day or two ahead, and on Saturday I wasn’t motivated enough to postpone my other activities for it. The heavy left-wingness of the peripheral demonstrations around it is to be expected in Seattle. Sometimes it gets to be too much for me, as in the Occupy Seattle protests. But the leftists do deserve credit for being the most capable of organizing a large-scale demonstration, as has been seen in both political rallies and the Pride marches.

      So the BTU needs to welcome the left’s motiviation and skills, and recognize that any demonstration in Seattle is going to be left-leaning because that’s what the majority of citizens are. But at the same time it mustn’t go overboard and alienate the ordinary commuters and citizens who could make a major turnout for transit, but don’t want to abolish Capitalism and soak the rich and all that other stuff.

      1. Consider the Passed-up-Riders Paradox.

        Six two-car trains come every 5 minutes, and at the end of that time, no Link riders are being passed up.

        Compare that to a normal weeknight (without major events) after 10 pm. Two two-car trains come over the course of a half hour. Nobody gets passed up.

        Which set of riders got home faster on average? Which set of riders complained the most? Which set of riders was happier when they got home?

      2. Ack! This was meant to be in reponse to the whining about riders getting passed up, by someone who didn’t get passed up.

  9. The Auburn Amtrak stop evaluation study has been posted by WSDOT. Two scenarios were studied: having all Cascades trains stop at Tukwila, Auburn, Tacoma and having 4 trains stop at Tukwila and 2 trains stop at Auburn. Neither scenario produced a positive benefit for the Cascades corridor, so I think the city of Auburn will need to lobby for better public transit connections to Tacoma’s station or the Tukwila station. The proposed Auburn stop doesn’t add much new ridership, but it would cannibalize much of the existing ridership at Tukwila and likely Tacoma.

    1. It’s exasperating that (judging from the executive summary) the study never considered having all trains stop at Auburn and none stop at Tukwila. I think that would answer their concerns about degrading service and make the change a definite positive.

  10. I know I’m beating a dead horse here, but the lack of substantial extra transit service for major events like the Torchlight Parade makes Metro and ST look completely fucking incompetent.

    Taking Link from Westlake last night, the 10:22PM train was packed, and left hundreds more people on the platform, then passed up still more people at the rest of the tunnel stations. Having 15 minute frequency was ridiculously inadequate.

    The day of the parade is the same every year. It’s not like 300,000 people decide to spontaneously show up downtown on the last Saturday of July. This should be something that the City, transit organisations, and Seafair Foundation can plan for.

    If it’s just a matter of money to pay for operations, can’t either the City budget funds for it, or Seafair sponsors be asked to pay for extra transit service? If ST still can’t afford extra service, they should mention that in the press release where they detail all the bus reroutes- that way everyone knows what’s going on. If it’s a matter of ST and Metro lacking the desire or the competence to figure out the logistical issues, then they need new staffers.

    1. I don’t get why they don’t have more trains on……….is ridership growing that fast at special events that they can’t keep up?

    2. Stations and cars are designed for four-car trains – why not actually run four car trains on those days that there is significant demand? Is it still because of a lack of track length at Westlake? How much would it cost to run wire another 200′ now?

      1. @BA1959

        According to a comment in an STB post last month, there’s not currently space in the stub tunnel to turn around 3 or 4 car trains because there’s a “devising wall” separating the current operational track from the U-Link construction area.

    3. Is there any precedent for organizers of very large events being asked to pay for additional transit service? Given that asking them to pay for additional traffic cops, this doesn’t seem too outlandish.

    4. By contrast, I saw 12 route 7 buses go southbound in a 10 minute time span while sitting in Columbia City. At least Metro planned for the crowds.

    5. The overcrowding due to lack of extra event service is especially bad for people that get stuck in it who are simply passing through downtown to change buses (or transfer from Link) and aren’t even aware that the event exists.

      I was in this situation today when I was coming into downtown Seattle on Link right at the time the Mariners’ game was letting out. Since I was headed to the U-district, I would normally wait in the tunnel for a 71/72/73. But, past experience told me that with the game crowds, anything would be better than that. I considered the 66 and the 512, but the the wait time would have been 20-30 minutes on paper, likely longer with the game crowds. The final solution was to stay on Link to Westlake, walk partway up Capitol Hill, and grab a C2G to take me the rest of the way.

      Half an hour later, while I was walking home from dinner in the U-district, I walked past a crush-loaded 73, followed by a 71, followed by another 73, all right on top of each other. I knew I had made the right choice.

      Scenes like this is why the Link extension to the U-district cannot come too soon.

    6. The solution to riders getting passed up is a really, really long train. Sure, it may come only three times a day, but nobody gets passed up.

      See my original response above for a less snarky thought experiment.

      1. First, I wouldn’t characterize my comment as “whining”. Whether I was passed up or not is immaterial, and was partly a matter of luck. If people are being passed up by full trains or buses, that’s strong evidence that the system is operating inadequately. (though we might decide it’s not worth the cost to operate it at the level people would prefer).

        Secondly, I don’t understand your “Passed-up-Riders Paradox” and its relevance to planning transit service for major events. The relevant comparison is between operating Link at it’s normally scheduled 15 minute frequency for major nighttime events, or running it at some higher frequency.

        If you have a steady stream of people entering the system, so that 400 riders (= 200 riders/car * 2 cars) show up in each 5 minute interval, if the trains arrive every 5 minutes, the average wait time is 2.5 minutes, but if the trains come every 15 minutes like they are normally scheduled, then the average wait time is 37.5 minutes (assuming everyone boards in the order they arrived). The first is substantially better than a normal Saturday night after 10PM (where the average wait is 7.5 minutes), but the later is far worse.

        More simply, if you have 2400 riders (= 200 riders/car * 2 cars * 6 trains) all waiting on the platform, if you run the trains every 5 minutes, then it takes half an hour to run the 6 trains needed to empty the platform. If you run the trains every 15 minutes, as scheduled, then it takes 90 minutes to empty the platform.

        Link runs every 7.5 minutes at peak right now, so it seems conceivable that ST could run trains that frequently for major events. (Although maintenance needs and the size of the fleet could imaginably constrain how many hours a day they can currently run at 7.5 minute frequency. If that’s the case, I’d like ST to come right out and say it though, rather than have to speculate)

      2. Phillip,

        ST does run extra-frequent train service after events. Moreover, unless the train is skipping stops, not a single person is getting “passed up”. They may be opting to wait, but that is not the same as being “passed up”. I have never, ever seen a Link train that is in service pass up a station, nor anyone be told there is no more room on the train by an ST or Metro employee.

        My point with the paradox is that you perceived inaduate service, even though you didn’t have to wait long at all for a train. In other words, you got outstanding service. And yet, you have nothing but bad things to say about it.

        If 4-car trains were used, and nobody opted to wait for the next train, but you had to wait an extra five minutes, would we be having this argument? The service you received would have been worse, but your perception of it wouldn’t have been so negative.

      3. Brent,

        In 2012, Link ran at 5 minute frequency after the parade. The 2013 news release makes no mention of extra service. My southbound bus was held before the stub tunnel so that the 10:07 train could enter the tunnel. There were no southbound trains between the 10:07 train and the 10:22 train. AFAICT, Link was running at normal late-night frequency after the parade on Saturday night. If they were running Link at a higher frequency for the parade this year, it doesn’t seem to have been mentioned online.

        People were not “opting to wait”- they had to wait because there were zero seats free and close to zero open floor space in the aisles. Arguably, a few more people could have fit on the train if people stood a bit closer together in the aisles (e.g. “NYC packed” instead of “Seattle packed”), but that number is tiny compared to the number of people who still would have still been left behind at Westlake and subsequent stops. There was physically no way to fit all the people who were at Westlake station at 10:22PM Saturday night on a two-car train- not even close.

        Since 4 car trains aren’t a possibility until 2016, I don’t see their relevance to this discussion. Moreover, if the fleet is large enough to run 4-car trains at peak frequencies, then there shouldn’t be any tradeoff between train length and train frequency.

      4. Brent, I have, actually, been told by an ST employee that a train was full and to wait for the next one. Stadium Station, after a Mariners game. This happened on both north and southbound trains (since people are headed south and north in seemingly equal numbers after the game lets out).

        This happened last summer, and is the only time I’ve ever seen it happen. I am not a daily Link rider, and I’m not implying this is a regular occurrence. But it did happen.

    7. Maybe this is actually an example of the old adage “If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck …”

      If Sound Transit looks incompetent, and acts incompetent, maybe it is incompetent.

      Remember, these are government workers. Bureaucrats. One definition of a bureaucrat is “An official who works by fixed routine without exercising intelligent judgment.” (Same number and frequency of trains no matter how big the event). Sound familiar?

  11. It is hard for the execs, who seldom if ever ride the buses and trains, to relate to those of us who do – a 40 year record on this ineptitude doesn’t bode well for near term change, sadly. The planners know what to do , the Exurban Bureacrat leaders are clueeless.

    1. That’s quite awesome. I suspect in a year there will be many New Yorkers who can’t imagine the city without CitiBike and the more used to them that drivers get, the better.

  12. Getting back to beating the dead horse of the center platform, I wanted to offer another take on the math problem.

    Without our variant on the Spanish Solution, each train may spend 30 seconds to a minute more offloading and loading. The upshot is that the minimum headway through the tunnel is decreased by that differential amount. Since ID/CS will be the main terminal station downtown, throughput at ID/CS will control headway on both lines, as well as throughput in the tunnel.

    From that perspective, a turn-back track that pre-empts installation of a center platform is reducing the capacity of the tunnel by roughly 16-33%.

  13. So I have One Of Those Questions:

    I am, courtesy of King County Vehicle Licensing, presently flush with King County Metro Free Ride coupons.

    Trouble is, I mostly commute by bus on the weekends. When the only bus going by my house is a Sound Transit bus. Thus, I’ve barely used them, as I didn’t think they were valid on ST since it says “any other non-Metro branded transportation service.”

    Well, the next 4 weekends, I need to be downtown. Can I use these to ride a King County operated ST bus? I thought I saw someone use one today.

    Yes, I know I won’t get a transfer. Your opinion/facts/what have you is welcomed and thank you in advance.

    1. Those tickets are for Metro only, and have a rather short shelf life. But they are transferable, so you can given them to friends who do ride Metro, and maybe even get some cash back in exchange for them. You can even give them away to any panhandlers you feel compelled to not completely ignore.

      If you are transfering, you may as well be using ORCA and not wasting the tickets.

    2. Yeah, chances are they are expired but I’ve never seen a driver question one after it’s been eaten by the machine. Yes, only good on KC Metro and yes you can ask for a transfer. Of course the transfer is not good on an ST bus.

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