62 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: London Night Bus”

  1. If the STB Board is preparing to make endorsements for the general election, I would like to heartily recommend Seattle Proposition 1. It is the sort of real reform that would allow people from all across the city to get together and be able to mount a serious council campaign without the backing from the usual suspects and Old Money. If people from less wealthy neighborhoods can band together with small contributions and get candidates elected, the face of the Seattle City Council and the language of the debate over such things as housing, transit service, public amenities, etc, could change enormously for the better.

    Reduce the role of the wealthy in politics. Pass Seattle Proposition One.

    1. Maybe I’m a bit skeptical, but if Citizens United is any guide, the wealthy will find a way to make their influence felt, with or without prop 1. Even if they can’t donate directly to the campaign, they can still donate to shell organizations whose only effective purpose is to help the campaign.

      1. I expect that this will continue to happen, too. *But* the playing field will still be a lot more level. Right now, candidates who don’t have connections to the same couple hundred mega-donors who provide the bulk of the funding to candidate after candidate after candidate have to bring knives to a gunfight (metaphorically speaking). With 6:1 matching funds, it can at least be a gunfight. (BTW, I am not an advocate of real gunfights, in case that isn’t clear.)

    2. With Prop 1 I think we’d end up with council representatives who are more focused on their little slice of the city, versus the city as a whole. If my representative isn’t well aligned with my views, I’ll be SOL when trying to influence the City Council. With the current system, I can effectively lobby the whole council. I say NO on Prop 1.

      1. Prop 1 is a public-financing proposal, not the districts thing. That’s Charter Amendment 19.

        I agree with you on the districts issue. I can’t believe how many declared progressives think they should support a plan written by NIMBYs, financed by NIMBYs, with boundaries drawn by a career anti-urbanist, and with the stated intent of vetoing progress.

        Prop 1 in other hand, though somewhat weak sauce, is likely worth supporting.

      2. +1 to everything you said about districts. There are plenty of ways that we could make Seattle city council elections better, but creating geographical districts is not one of them.

    1. I really hope Seattle doesn’t turn as smug and douchey as San Francisco, but I think it’s already begun.

      1. Have you not been in Seattle lately? I think we give anywhere a run for their money on douchedom and smugness.

    2. By taking up the living space he does, Sam has forced someone out of Bellevue. Sam, what do you think of the person you forced out of Bellevue?

    3. “It’s not surprising that when you have a growing population and don’t build new housing, you see an explosion in house prices. In the last decade we’ve added at least 50,000 new residents to San Francisco, and produced very little new housing.”

      The problem is a lack of housing in the city, and a lack of walkability/transit in the suburbs. The population is increasing but housing isn’t keeping up. Lower-income people can’t compete with higher-income people. But if there were enough housing, lower-income people could still find an apartment in a non-prestigious city neighborhood. But they can’t afford Frisco so they have to move to the burbs. That would be fine if suburban neighborhoods were compact like city neighborhoods and had lots of transit. But they don’t, so people have to get a car and deal with miserable traffic and parking lots and another drain to their pocketbook.

      1. The thing is, the type of people who actually use “walkable transit” are not the high end condo dwelling residents of center cities. They would continue to use cars and cabs. In fact, as the income level of a center city goes up, the density has been shown to decrease..not increase! As often these people will use up apartment space for a single person that formerly housed a couple or a family!

        So we end up with the ridiculousness of having spent the last 20 years twiddling our thumbs to build a few miles of transit in one restricted space while meanwhile forcing out the types of people who would use and benefit from such a thing to the outer ring and beyond where it doesn’t exist.

      1. It’s already started, to a degree. Actually, I think there is plenty of culture on both sides of the bay. More so than Seattle. There are several reasons for this: San Francisco proper is really small; east bay has a history that goes back a really long time (unlike Seattle’s suburbs) and the university (Cal). Unfortunately, prices in east bay aren’t cheap anymore either, which gets into the problem you mentioned in your last paragraph (people being forced into the neighborhoods that aren’t compact).

  2. The biggest challenge facing rail here in Washington is that the state constitution ring-fences certain revenue streams for roads and highways. That not “only” impacts funding for all things rail, but has produced a “highway culture” in state institutions.

    I know that some feel the solution is to enable local tax districts-and that’s certainly fine-but I still would encourage people to focus on the root problem: Amendment 18.

    I think it’s days are numbered. During the “Big Bang” of 2023, Link will open service to Overlake, Lynwood, and Federal Way, with construction commencing on the final push to the city centers in Everett and Tacoma. Lite rail will be a part of daily life in Sno-King-Pierce, where (roughly speaking) 66% of the state’s population and 60% of its businesses are located. Meanwhile, if the Oregon state legislature allows CRC to go forward, then rail will start crossing the river in 2019, and by 2023 will simply be a matter of fact in Clark county, one of the larger population centers outside metro Seattle. That’s the popular support we need to drastically update an Amendment initially passed around the time of the Battle of the Bulge.

    CRC and the Big Bang gives us a real shot at pulling the main lever that governs transportation funding and bureaucratic decision-making in our state.

    1. Given that the highway department is short on funds, even with the 18th amendment, I don’t realistically see it ever going away.

      1. Given how hard it is to amend the state constitution (requiring first the legislature and then a vote of the people), I don’t see it happening either. Seattle doesn’t exactly control the legislature, you may have seen.

    2. Don’t worry about the 18th Amendment.

      Using gas-tax monies only for highway purposes is a legitimate restriction, as long as it is for maintenance only.

      What should be pursued is that any highway capacity expansion must be presented to the public for a vote, exactly the way transit capital projects (such as Sound Transit’s) must be voted on.

      Then agreeable funding mechanisms can be put in place that will be equitable for all within the voting district.

      If a gas tax is included in said project proposal, then that should be able to pass on its merit. If tolls, or local property taxes are part of the mix, then they too will need to pass muster with the voting public.

      There are plenty of legitimate highway projects out there, and many questionable ones, and transit supporters, of all people, should be the ones to insist on a public vote for highways.

      Release your inner Timmy.

      1. I’ve never understood why “highway purposes” are defined to moving cars and not people. The purpose of a highway is mobility moving people and goods. We create HOV lanes to move commuter buses more efficiently. Why are rail lines along highway corridors treated differently? Why doesn’t rail qualify as a highway purpose?

        Couldn’t the legislature declare a grade-separated transit system to be a “legitimate highway purpose” and then we could be done with it?

      2. Paulish, haven’t you figured out that in the minds of some highway proponents, only people driving cars are valid people?

        Everyone else is either a moocher or some sort of smug eco-weenie.

      3. In politics, you at some time have to make nice with those on the opposite side of the fence.

        As far as the 18th Amendment goes, that’s a fight that’s not worth the effort, but since the anti-tax crowd is already in agreement about funding… transit, roads, or otherwise, this is the time to get the playing field level for major capital projects.

        A roads package needs to come before the voters.

        Whether that’s a statewide, or a regional package will determine how far on the other side of the fence you have to reach to get concessions on transit issues.

    3. Well Jim I think that’s what the 18th should reflect: an agnostic approach to transportation mode, with funds awarded according to what is the best solution for that specific problem statement.

      And we will have the votes to do it after the Big Bang & CRC.

      The 18th’s days are numbered…

  3. In a story that’s somewhat related to that S.F. piece, does anyone have info as to whether the stats that were mentioned in yesterdays KING-5 report about the Lockhaven Apartments in Ballard are accurate?

    Such as,

    “Tenants were given notices to vacate their homes within 20 days, which was eventually ruled as illegal.”


    “According to Dupre + Scott, a local apartment research firm, the average asking price for a one bedroom Seattle apartment built in the last six years is $1,802 a month.”


    “Some tenants have already found new places to live. But other residents are fighting relocation because they call Lockhaven some of the last affordable housing in Ballard, located near vital public services.”

    I’d really like to know how many of units in the new housing that’s being built in Seattle will be available to renters for less than, say, $1,000 a month. Any of it?

    1. To answer your last question: Hard to say. Apodments might be cheaper. The Seattle Times has had articles from some experts suggests that Ballard is overbuilding, which would result in a burst bubble. This would mean that landlords would offer cheap rents, even though they bought the building assuming they could charge more.

  4. I was checking out the East Link video, and was pretty surprised at where the Overlake Village Station is located. I just assumed it would be next to the Overlake P&R. But it’s actually going to be 1500 feet to the north, along highway 520, next to where 152nd bends before a small hill. If anyone here is familiar with the area, I’d be curious to hear what you think about the station’s location. On the video, it’s at the 3:51 mark.

    1. I know that area. There’re a few office buildings right around there, so it’ll be great for them. On the one hand, I’d have preferred the station to be closer to the Safeway and the rest of the shopping center at 24th and 148th, but on the other, having it close to the 36th Street Bridge to Microsoft West Campus would be nice. So all in all, I’m equivocal.

      1. KC Metro has been trying to make Overlake Village into a transit hub for years. It’s a bit ridiculous as there’s not much at the Overlake Village right now. There are apartments above the Park & Ride that have income limits. Amusingly, there are a ton of Microsofties living there. I speculate that they have their parents (who have no income) rent the apartment and then live with them in the units.

        The city of Redmond, after years of forbidding Microsoft to build any buildings over four stories tall, is planning on building a hotel and conference center on the old Group Health hospital site. That freaking monstrosity, plus the park and ride, plus the Overlake shopping centers, make this a reasonable place for an East Link stop.

    2. Oh, and to answer your question specifically: the 1500 feet doesn’t matter. Anecdotally, most users of the current Overlake Village park & ride seem to walk there. Putting the train station nearer to the 36th Street bridge won’t be an impediment.

      I also wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft didn’t require the placement of the station nearer to their campus. Given how the UW has held Sound Transit in a stranglehold, it’s obvious that they’re keen to serve big-monied interests.

      1. The UW’s stranglehold is not money, it’s legal authority. The UW is a state institution so it can tell Sound Transit what to do. Microsoft is the second-largest employer in the state so it naturally has a lot of transit riders going to it. Boeing could have had stations too if it weren’t so car-oriented and uninterested in transit.

      2. It’s not so much big-monied interests as big-ridership-interests. Both Microsoft and the UW attract a ton of riders to the system.

        I would even go so far as to say that they should have built a freeway station next to the 36th St. bridge, to be served by routes 542 and 545. It would have gotten quite a bit of use.

      3. I think the name Overlake Village Station is fooling people a little bit. First off, this station is more of a freeway station than anything. Secondly, the word “village” is a misnomer. A village suggest there’s a residential community close by. There isn’t. The closest residences is a retirement home. The next closest is The Village at Overlake Station, an apartment complex at the Overlake P&R, 1500 feet away. And that’s it! There is no other residential area within walking distance. Even the Overlake commercial district (Sears, Fred Meyer) isn’t within walking distance. Obviously, the B Line bus stop will have to be moved closer to the OVS. This will, however, be a great station for some MS workers.

      4. The B line already goes up that way, if I’m looking at the video correctly.

        I’ll agree that the name sucks. Why is that area called “Overlake” anyway? It’s nowhere near the lakes. And why is there a hospital called Overlake, also not near the lakes, and not in Overlake?

        As for the “village” part, I can’t even speculate. It’s like calling a new housing development “Cougar Ridge” when you’ve driven off the cougars and regarded the ridge.

      5. Overlake originally referred to an area around Medina (the “Overlake Medina District” the old real-estate ads call it), which is why Overlake Drive and the Overlake Golf & Country Club can still be found in Medina. Eventually it referred to pretty much all of Bellevue (Bellevue School District used to be Overlake SD, Bellevue High School was Overlake HS, etc), but eventually the Bellevue brand took over, and Overlake seems to’ve referred more and more just to that area around Microsoft.

        The area of the Microsoft Campus between 520 and 148th was actually platted in 1960 as the Overlake Industrial Park, with the right-of-way now occupied by 520 being dubbed Overlake Parkway. So the name was certainly well established by the time the Overlake Village shopping development went up in 1976. The “village” means nothing more here than it does in University Village or Magnolia Village—that was just the trend in naming these sort of suburban-y not-quite malls.

  5. Anyone know what Queen Anne Ave has been consistently backing up at Denny for the last two weeks during morning rush hour? Perhaps a signal change?

    It’s been adding 10 minutes or so to several bus routes (D-line, 1, 2, 8, 13, 29…).

    1. There are two Overlake stations. One is called Overlake Village Station, located 1500 north of the Overlake P&R, and another called Overlake Transit Center Station, which I wasn’t talking about. I’m talking specially about the OVS.

  6. Why is it that there is no all day, 7-day bus route from University Village to downtown? Of all the all-day bus routes that run between the U-district and downtown Seattle, not one runs by the east edge of the district. It’s a bit strange.

    1. University Village became a major shopping center around the time that through routes to downtown went out of fashion and the 74 local became a shuttle (now the 30), and the new routes after it were designed as feeders. The old Metro model was several half-hourly routes meandering slowly to downtown. The new Metro model is a trunk-and-feeder system, and the trunk is University Way. The old model infuriated people because you had to wait 30 minutes for a bus while a parallel bus a few blocks away was out of reach (you might try to walk to it but it passes before you get there, and then the bus behind you passes too and you have to wait another half hour).

    2. Forget about an all-day thru-route route to downtown. On evenings and Sundays, there is zero bus service whatsoever down 25th. Even on weekdays, except for 2 243 trips per direction per day, you are forced into a giant time-sucking detour through the U-district to get anywhere. David L’s Frequent Network Plan does a pretty good job of addressing this hole, but I have never heard of any serious proposals from Metro to do so.

    3. On weekends, it’s basically impractical. To my house, it’s either 4 (!) buses, or 3 buses and a lengthy walk. That extra transfer can be a real time killer, not just for me, but for anyone that lives south of Seattle or in Bellevue. And at the same time, 15th and 45th is famous for being overloaded by bus traffic. I really think that some of the buses should continue on 45th St until 25th Ave, and enter the university from the east.

      I wonder why metro doesn’t like direct buses to downtown. Direct buses to downtown are somewhat necessary for anyone that doesn’t live in Seattle. If there are more direct routes to downtown, then Seattle has the advantage that almost anyone in the region can get to almost anywhere in Seattle with no more than two transfers, which is important, because no one wants to ride the bus to where they are going if they have to handle 3 or 4 transfer points.

      1. I wonder why metro doesn’t like direct buses to downtown. Direct buses to downtown are somewhat necessary for anyone that doesn’t live in Seattle. If there are more direct routes to downtown, then Seattle has the advantage that almost anyone in the region can get to almost anywhere in Seattle with no more than two transfers, which is important, because no one wants to ride the bus to where they are going if they have to handle 3 or 4 transfer points.

        The “hub-and-spoke” model sounds great, until you think about the kind of trips that people are likely to take.

        Want to go from Ballard to Wallingford? Instead of going 2 miles crosstown, it’s now 10 miles into the city and back. Fremont to the U-District? Greenwood to Ravenna? Capitol Hill to Mount Baker? Magnolia to Queen Anne? All the same problem.

        In fact, it’s possible — straightforward, even — to design a gridded network of buses with frequent transfer points. In such a network, it’s still possible to get between any two points with at most one transfer. But because there are so many transfer points, you very rarely have to backtrack, the way that you do if downtown is the only transfer point.

        To make matters worse, because of some fundamental laws of geometry — namely, the circumference of a circle — a hub-and-spoke model requires a much greater number of bus routes than a gridded model. Think about the 48; one crosstown route is able to take the place of 5-6 downtown routes. That means that you can run the crosstown route much, much more frequently than the downtown buses. Back when Metro exclusively used a hub-and-spoke model, most routes came every 30 minutes or even every 60 minutes. If you had to transfer between a 30-minute bus and a 60-minute bus, you can expect to spend 45 minutes waiting! But if you transfer between two 15-minute buses, your average total wait time is only 15 minutes.

        While it’s true that lots of people want to go downtown, it’s more true that people tend to want to go to places that are geographically close to them. People are willing to take long trips in the bus to go to geographically distant destinations, but they’re very reluctant to spend a long time traveling a short distance. And people also hate waiting. That’s why Metro is trying to optimize for those short trips (which also makes it pretty easy to get almost anywhere), rather than optimizing for getting downtown (which makes it hard to get anywhere else).

      2. Good point, Aleks. I wasn’t necessarily saying that all parts of Seattle needed a route to downtown, just that there should be some more routes to downtown. Some of the non-downtown service could be organized better for less redundancy (for example, about half of route 8 is redundant with route 48).

        Route 48 would be able take the place of 5-6 downtown routes… if it went downtown.

    4. The fact that 25th is mostly single-family and a few low-density strip malls has something to do with it. Those generate low ridership, which makes it hard to justify a frequent bus or a bus to downtown. Asdf has also said that there’s something wrong with the bus service in northeast Seattle, there are too many places without evening or Sunday service, and it takes too many transfers to get anywhere. But the fundamental cause of that is the low density in northeast Seattle.

      1. Today, there is no good solution for Northeast Seattle without taking service hours from other areas. In three years from now, however, Link will come to the rescue. All Northeast Seattle really needs is buses that run reasonable frequently and connect to Link running a reasonably direct route. This means taking Montlake and/or 25th to the Link Station, entering the U-district from the Southeast, not forcing everyone headed to downtown to detour through the U-district (and then slog down Eastlake if it’s an evening or Sunday, or if the express lanes are closed).

        This could be had with a few obvious restructures, but Metro has, thus far, shown no signs of being willing to do anything. If anything, their current attitude is that if people in Northeast Seattle have been putting up with the current network forever, they can continue to do so for 5 more years until 2021, because route restructuring is too much bother and it’s not worth dealing with the wrath of the one person who will be worse off from such a restructure.

        My wish list for Northeast Seattle in 2016:
        1) Truncate route 74 into a Link shuttle. This would follow the existing route from Sand Point to 25th Ave., then take 25th Ave. and Montlake to the Link station. The route could either end there, or continue on Pacific St. to Campus Parkway to turn around. The savings from not going downtown would buy more frequent service and allow the service to continue running for more hours each day. In the reverse direction, buses would take Montlake to Sand Point Way, providing frequently, direct, limited stop service from the Link Station to the Children’s Hospital. Since buses would be deadheading this way anyway, the marginal cost of such would be next to nothing.

        2) Add weekend service to the 372, at least as far as Lake City (having it go all the way to Woodinville would be a waste). Service hours to pay for it could come out of the 71, since Link will absorb demand for some of the 71/72/73 service.

        3) Increase frequency on routes 65 and 75. Again, service hours could be cannibalized from the 71 to pay for it. With 7-day-a-week service on the 372, combined with a more frequent 65 and 75, and Link absorbing some of the 71/72/73 demand, I’m not convinced we even need a route 71 at all.

    5. I’m not opposed to rerouting the 44 to University Village; that may make trips in northeast Seattle easier. But there was a route in that corridor earlier, and I think Metro stopped using 45th because it got so congested at the viaduct that it was making the buses too unreliable, the same reason Metro stopped using Montlake Boulevard. So that will still be a challenge if the 44 is rerouted to Children’s someday.

      1. The 25 used to use the 45th St. Viaduct. However, I had always assumed that the reason for the reroute was so people could wait at one stop for either the 25 or 75, whichever came first, if they were headed somewhere that was served by both routes (like Children’s Hospital). In particular, under the old system, everybody was waiting at the #75 stops in campus because the 75 ran much more frequently than the 25, resulting in crowded 75 trips and empty 25 trips.

        Really, though, the 25 should just be put out of its misery. If the 17% cuts happen, I highly doubt a route like this would survive. Even if they don’t, I doubt the 25 would survive the next big restructure regardless.

      2. When Metro changed the 25 from the 45th St Viaduct to its current routing, the cited reason was that they wanted to unify its path with the other routes serving University Village. All the other routes went through UW, and so the 25 should, too.

        It seems hard to believe that the viaduct could possibly be more congested than the rest of 45th St, or more congested than Pacific St. And a rerouted 44 would also get to avoid the terrible left turn from 15th to 45th.

        I think the biggest reason the 44 hasn’t been rerouted is simply that it’s a trolleybus, and Metro doesn’t have the budget to string up more wire.

  7. What does a Mayor Murray mean for the Ballard to Downtown rail options (I realize I am focused on this one issue), but curious what the horde thinks about what happens if he is elected?

    1. I’m more worried about losing Conlin. OK, I’m worried about losing both of them at the same time. I think Conlin knows more about the transit and density issues than anyone else on the council. If he loses his seat, and we have a new mayor, we will struggle for a while. I’m thinking that the bridge over Northgate, or even the stop at 130th might get a little harder to implement. Meanwhile, we may regress with regards to zoning (added regulations on Apodments, fewer changes to parking requirements, etc.).

  8. Hydrogen Highway is Back!

    Jerry Brown signs bills extending fees to reduce emissions

    Assembly Bill 8, by Assemblyman Henry Perea, D-Fresno, will extend until 2024 a $3 increase in vehicle registration fees that was scheduled to expire in 2016. It requires the California Energy Commission to spend as much as $220 million in vehicle registration fee revenues over the next decade to fund the development of up to 100 hydrogen-fueling stations.


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