Link Excuse of the Week: Rainier Beach Art Walk


The Rainier Beach Merchant’s Association is hosting the 3rd annual art walk this Saturday, September 7th from 11am to 3pm. Details at their webpage and facebook page.  The activities center around Rainier and Henderson, about half a mile east of Rainier Beach Station.  The weather is supposed to be gorgeous Saturday and it’s a great opportunity to use a station and see a neighborhood that most people simply pass through.  Along with art and entertainment, food trucks will be on site and I’d also recommend the nearbye reasonably priced and delicous King Donuts & Terikayi for a bite to eat.

Metro routes 7 and 8 will be on event reroutes from approximately 7am to 6pm (click the route number for Service Advisory).

See past Link Excuses of the Week here.

News Roundup: It Doesn’t Count


This is an open thread.

Rail~Volution Local Scholarships Available

Rail~Volution, a fantastic national conference focused on transit and land use advocacy, will be in Seattle this year from October 20th through the 23rd and the Local Host Committee has announced that they have additional funds for conference scholarships. Press release below:

The Seattle Local Host Committee has identified additional funds for local scholarships to attend Rail~Volution, a national conference emphasizing building livable communities with transit, that will be hosted in Seattle October 20-23, 2013. These scholarships are in addition to the scholarships offered by the national Rail~Volution organization.

As a learning network, Rail~Volution exposes attendees to some of the best minds on livability in the country and the world. In this learning lab, you’ll hear concrete examples that illustrate the rediscovery of community that is sweeping the country. You’ll have a chance to ask hard questions and explore cutting edge ideas in more than 80 workshops, networking events, toolbox sessions, and mobile workshops. This is an opportunity to attend a national conference in our backyard and should be a good learning and relationship-building opportunity.

There is a local scholarship fund to ensure participation of diverse communities from the Puget Sound region in the conference.  Depending on the number of applicants and available resources, these scholarships will cover all of the $425 registration.

To apply for a scholarship, please complete this application and send it by September 20 to for consideration.  Feel free to reach out and forward this application to some of your community partners that might be interested.

Your Bus At Night, Only A Little More Often.

One of the very first questions I expected when I published the Frequent Network Plan about two weeks ago was “How much frequency would we get at night?”  And, indeed, reader lakecityrider brought the topic up in the second comment to my original post.  I wrote at the time that I needed to crunch the numbers.

21 bus on 3rd Ave at night
Metro at night: Skeletal, and raggedly efficient. Photo by zargoman.

Now I’ve done that.  And the results, summarized in this map, show just how badly Metro’s night network has suffered in recent years.  Night service has borne the brunt of all the cuts and efficiencies in the last decade.  As a result there are just not a lot of hours to put into core-route frequency.  The existing all-day network in the area covered by the FNP uses about 324 buses; the existing night network uses only about 196 buses during early “night” hours (about 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.), with the number rapidly diminishing as the night wears on.  Further, there are no peak trippers at night that may be made redundant by a superior all-day network, so there are no “extra” buses to add to the new night network, either to provide more frequency or to add recovery time.  Night service does run faster than day service, but not by enough to make a huge difference; there is no alternative but to cut frequency substantially from daytime levels, and to cut a small amount of service entirely.

Speaking in broad terms, most 10-minute routes in the FNP would have to become 15-minute routes in the early part of the night, except for two that become 20-minute routes.  Most 15-minute routes become 20-minute routes, although there are several that become 30-minute routes.   The 30-minute routes stay at the 30-minute level, but several suffer truncations of varying severity.  A couple of through-routes that would be impossible during the day would be used at night to save additional hours.  Further details after the jump.

Continue reading “Your Bus At Night, Only A Little More Often.”

Feds Allocate $24m to Sound Transit

TIGER-DOT-logoIf you value transit investments in the Puget Sound there is really no substitute for Senator Patty Murray:

Sen. Patty Murray today announced that Sound Transit will receive two TIGER grants totaling $24 million. The grants, secured in cooperation with the Washington State Department of Transportation, will help add new HOV lanes across Lake Washington on I-90 and replace the Tacoma trestle bridge that Sounder and Amtrak trains rely on in downtown Tacoma.

Spokesman Geoff Patrick confirms that unlike most Federal Grants, this appropriation is not already built into the Sound Transit budget, so that this is new money that will improve the bottom line for the East King and Pierce subareas.

Unsurprisingly, there are no plans yet for the newly freed money, but Patrick added that it “increases the general subarea financial capacity [and] creates more options for the Board whether at the ST2 or ST3 level.”

More on the TIGER program here.

[Update: Lindblom breaks out the money ($) as $14m for I-90 and $10m for the Tacoma Trestle.]

Metcalfe’s Law in Transit Planning

How should we value an individual transit station?  Proximity to jobs and housing is of course important, but even important is how the addition of that station increases the value of the network as a whole.

When University Link opens in 2016, it will be great for people who live and work in Capitol Hill and the UW.  At the same time, neighborhoods along Central Link (Downtown, SoDo, Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley), will instantly have access to two significant new destinations.  Property values surrounding Central Link stations will likely increase substantially, even though actually nothing’s “changed” in those neighborhoods.  It’s as if you woke up one day and Comcast had doubled the speed of your internet connection.

This is roughly the principle behind Metcalfe’s Law.  Metcalfe proposed that the value of a network was roughly proportional to the square of the number of nodes. If five people have telephones, then the network has a certain value. If 10 people have phones, the value of the network quadruples, rather than doubles.  It’s why Facebook and Twitter — with their hundreds of millions of users — are  so valuable.*

To take the analogy back to transit; if you have a station near your neighborhood, then the value of that station increases exponentially as stations are added elsewhere throughout the city.  When light rail goes from the initial 13 stops to the planned 33, the value of the network will be roughly 644% greater than it is now due to all the new origin-destination pairs that will open up.

Of course, Metcalfe’s law assumes the value of each station is equal.  In reality, that’s rarely true.  On social networks, some users contribute more than others.  The same will be true of Link stations.  A freeway station in North Seattle may be attractive to the people who live nearby, but probably not a frequent destination for people who live in, say, Overlake.  By contrast, a station right in the heart of Capitol Hill or Bellevue or the Airport has the potential to be valuable to everyone on the network.

This is why it’s so important for every station to maximize the development opportunity around it, and why even people who don’t live in the neighborhood ought to be able to weigh in on the development of the area around a planned station.  A botched walkshed doesn’t just affect the neighborhood that surrounds it, rather it degrades — substantially, quadratically — the value of the network as a whole.

* Some have challenged Metcalfe’s equation with respect to very large networks, but the man himself is sticking with the law for smaller numbers like our transit example.