47 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Never A Dull Moment”

  1. Love old videos like that. Here’s one of Bellevue when it truly was a suburb, called Over The Bridge To Gracious Living.

    1. Hey, Sam.

      Thanks for posting that slideshow. I remember darn near everyplace from 1964 on.

      Kentucky Roast Beef. I worked there when it was brand new. It was owned and operated by Mormons. I did not think I would ever see a photo of that place again in my entire life…

  2. I notice sometimes that u-district – DSTT buses (71x, 72x, 73x, etc.) sometimes don’t take I-5 to/from downtown, even though there are no stops between the U-District and convention place. It’s a bit of a dice roll on whether they will take I-5 or Eastlake Ave E.

    1. There is a pattern but it’s complex. Peak hours they take the express lanes for the traditional commute, and Eastlake for the reverse commute. Mid-day they take the I-5 regular lanes northbound and I’m not sure southbound. The rationale seems to be that the express lanes are never congested, but the regular lanes are too congested for buses peak hours. Ironically, Eastlake itself gets congested peak hours, so the buses don’t just zip through, although sometimes in the morning northbound they do.

      1. Interesting. But if it’s supposed to go via Eastlake, then why don’t they remove the X (for express) on those trips, and have stops along Eastlake like a regular route?

        I was on a southbound 73x on Monday at 7:40, and it took Eastlake. It might make sense during peak hours, because that section of I-5 is totally jammed in both directions because people from both the north and the south commute to both downtown and UW, but outside of peak hours I-5 is much quicker.

      2. Because the whole point is to be faster than the 70 or 49. I agree that they should use the freeway more often, because it makes the difference between a 10 minute trip and a 20 minute trip. Fortunately Link will address this problem, although it should have been addressed twenty years ago.

      3. The fact that the 71/72/73 stop running express as early as 7 PM (6 PM on Saturdays) is a travesty, considering that the buses are packed to the gills and at least 90% of the riders are going straight through, all the way between downtown and the U-district.

        I hear the old excuse, that the service hours aren’t there to run the 70 in the evening and Eastlake needs coverage. But Eastlake doesn’t need coverage from both the 70 and the 66. In reality, a half-hourly 66 (possibly running the #70 route through Fairview) should provide plenty of coverage for Eastlake in the evening, thereby allowing the 71/72/73 to continue operating express until late in the evening.

        And, yes, the express 71/72/73 should use the freeway at all times, unless the freeway is congested. And, when they do take I-5 to 45th St., they should stop somewhere along 45th St. before Roosevelt so that people going to the northern part of the U-district have the option to choose a 5 minute walk over a 15-minute slog that goes south to Campus Parkway and back north again along the Ave.

      4. The 7#X do run until 7:30pm southbound. I was on one last week, and it was some 75% full.

        Also, the 70, 49, 43, and 255 all take overflow from the 7#X, meaning people sometimes switch to those routes when they get bumped from a 7#X or they don’t want to deal with the overcrowding. So they appear as ridership on those routes, when what they’d really want to be on is an uncrowded 7#X… and preferably on the freeway as you say.

      5. I have an interesting story about this last July when my parents were visiting me from out of town and we were going from the U-district to downtown around 7:15 in the evening – one of the worst times to make the trip by transit.

        I checked OneBusAway and, while the 71/72/73 were still running express, there were long delays and the one wasn’t due for almost 20 minutes. We had also just missed a half-hourly 66, so that wasn’t an option either. Nor was I enthusiastic about rolling the dice with the 510/511, which would have to travel along a clogged I-5 to get to us, with no OneBusAway, and the freeway station a 15 minute walk away on top of that. With 3 people traveling together, Car2Go wasn’t an option, and I didn’t have a phone that supported the new rideshare services either. I was thinking about calling a cab when I suddenly realized that there was one incredibly obvious bus that I hadn’t tried and wasn’t showing up in my OneBusAway checks because the stop was a block away – the 70!

        So, we walked one block over to 15th, waiting about 5 minutes, and rode the 70 all the way to downtown. The ride was anything but fast overall – it made tons of stops along Eastlake, but it got through he U-district relatively quickly because all the hordes of people who didn’t check OneBusAway (which I took pity on) were letting us go by to wait for the express. I, of course knew from experience , that when the express finally did show up, it would be completely packed and take 20 minutes, minimum, to get from one end of the U-district to the other, with long lines of change fumblers and “move to the back”-level squeezing at every stop.

        Just for fun, I tracked the progress of the express bus on OneBusAway as I rode the 70 down Eastlake and Fairview. It was exactly as I predicted, going from a 10 minute delay at the north end of the U-district to a 20 minute delay when the bus finally reached campus parkway. By the time it had actually left campus parkway to do its express run along Eastlake, I was all the way downtown.

        Had the same situation arised in 2016, I would have walked through campus and taken Link in a heartbeat.

        Our return trip back to the U-district went very smoothly on a 510/511, so no hassling with the 71/72/73 for that leg either.

      6. There is also an analogous situation in New York. I know someone who discovered for a certain commute through Manhattan that taking a local train for a few stops, then transferring to an express train was actually often faster than catching the express train right from the beginning, even though the stretch on the local went through a couple stops that the express train skipped. The reason was that the local train had moderate loads, while the express trains were packed, with a lot more offs an ons at each stop. (At the point where he does make the transfer to the express, the express train becomes less crowded and begins a long run of 5 or so stations without any stops).

    1. Sadly, that is probably more to do with their 27% unemployment rate and corresponding low wages.

  3. One thing I only recently noticed with the new service change is that the 560 is now going to be operated by Pierce Transit? I’m kind of curious what the logic is behind having Pierce Transit operate routes that don’t serve Pierce County, and how this affects funding and the like.

    1. Whaaat? That makes no sense. They also operate ST577, ST566, and ST567, none of which enter Pierce County (560 and 567 in particular don’t even come close to Pierce).

      To be honest, I hate how PT runs them. If they aren’t using humongous MCI buses (which are slow and single-door), they use normal Pierce Transit buses (I’ll call “small buses”) that are branded to say “Sound Transit,” which are fine for Pierce Transit routes (which have relatively few passengers), but not OK for routes like the 574 and 578, which have a lot of demand and desperately need articulated buses (which PT doesn’t have). I got passed up by a 578 in Seattle because it was full due to the fact they used a small bus, and had to wait 30 minutes for the next one. They also use small buses on the southbound 574 midday, meaning it’s jam-packed and often arrives in Tacoma 11-20 minutes late. Even the slow MCI buses are preferable in these situations.

      PT, when are you guys going to get artics?

      1. The 578 has a huge tail (from Auburn on) that generates almost zero ridership. Running an articulated bus on that tail would be a huge waste.

        Again, the solution here is a 577/594 restructure to improve frequency.

      2. Since Sound Transit is contract work to the partner agencies (the agencies charge what they deem an appropriate amount per hour to ST for the work, including the operator, fuel, and overhead costs) and that PT is cheaper per hour than KCM. I have also heard that KCM does not really want the work although I don’t know how accurate this is. As for articulated coaches, Motion M2013-61 states that PT will be getting ten articulated buses in March or April of next year. The seating capacity difference in between an MCI and an artic is 57 to 60 or 62 (a standard 40ft coach is only about 42) so its a moot point, unless you have a wheelchair. The biggest issue on the I-5 corridor, is that demand has exceeded the funded capacity, and there needs to be more money provided for more trips.

      3. Good point, asdf. It probably would be a good idea to reroute the 578 to Kent instead of Federal Way, give it small buses, and run the 577 half hourly to FW running mostly artics. Maybe they should just have the 578 be the off-peak sounder replacement.

        The thing about the 578 now is that it is the only all-day route serving Sumner. I also like it when I want a fast ride to auburn from FW. In a way, it’s almost like two different routes joined together.

    2. The decision could have something to do with logic, or could be back room politics the public will never know about.

      1. The logic isn’t hidden, it’s plain to see. Federal Way got disproportionate service before ST, it’s located on I-5, and it’s the largest city “halfway” between Seattle and Tacoma. So it looks good on paper for Federal Way to be the gateway to south King County, and those Federal Wayans make a lot of noise if you try to cut down their express service.

        Logically there are two ways to look at it: (1) Federal Way has an excessive amount of express service, or (2) Federal Way has the right amount but Kent should also have the same amount. Because #1 is dubious and there’s no money for #2, a third alternative gets floated: (3) reroute the 578 to Kent anyway. This leads to a fourth alternative: (4) reroute the 578 and add a Federal Way stop to the 594. That appears to be a win-win situation, with the only loss being a few minutes longer on the 594. But it’s hard to get political support for that. If the 512 becomes popular it may build momentum for it.

      2. At first blush, it would seem that Federal Way gets (federal) way too much Seattle express, until you make your (federal) way over to the transit center in the morning at commute time, and observe the Seattle line beginning at bay 7, wrapping half (federal) way around the transit center. The line gets extremely long, despite the fact that empty 577 buses come around every 12 minutes at this time. There is also a smaller line in the middle of the day.

        A major reason that Federal Way has a much higher demand for Seattle express than Sumner/Puyallup is that there are many well-served (admittedly, over-served) routes that come from all around the city, and converge at the FWTC. Puyallup doesn’t have it that lucky as for most people, there is no (federal) way to get to the sounder station, and Sumner in particular only has the sounder and the 596 that can be used to transfer to the 578 (not that anyone would).

  4. I’m sure that this has been discussed multiple times before, but why in the world is there no day-pass for transit in Seattle? Looking at this http://tinyurl.com/ks72w2t (scroll down a few posts), it appears that Seattle is one of the few cities in North America that still hasn’t introduced a day pass. Combining the lack of a daypass with the complicated fare structure, the complexity of the route network, and the lack of free interagency transfers without an ORCA card*, it seems that the transit system in Seattle is intentionally set up to be unwelcoming and intimidating to visitors and new riders, which is not a good thing. Why hasn’t a daypass been implemented yet? I’m pretty sure that the agencies could agree on how to split up the revenue like they have with ORCA cards, and they could simply set the price such that the agencies will break even.

    *Also: I’m opposed to the lack of free transfers without ORCA cards on conceptual grounds. It’s good to encourage people to use ORCA (although there really needs an easier way to get youth or senior cards without having to wait several days for it to be mailed to you, or having to go to Downtown Seattle), but charging double for cash transfers is the wrong way to do that. As Jarrett Walker argues, there is absolutely no reason for the fare policy to differentiate between transferring and non-transferring passengers: transferring is an integral part of a transport network and should not be penalized for any reason.

    1. I don’t know. PT offers day passes for cash payers on weekends and holidays only for double the cost of a regular fare (you put 2X your fare in, and they give you an uncut paper transfer). Metro doesn’t officially but I have seen someone ask for a day pass on metro and the driver gave him a full transfer (for 2X fare, I assume). These obviously are not inter-agency.

      For ORCA, they would need to add an additional type of transfer that is good all day, and one would need to tell the driver that they want a day pass before tapping.

      I agree that ORCA cards need to be more accessible. They need to expand the available outlets for youth and disabled/senior cards big-time.

      1. For ORCA, they could simply implement a daily cap (discussed before on this blog)–where no matter how many times you tap your card, you will never pay more than the price of a day pass, so there shouldn’t be a need to tell the driver before tapping.

      2. I’m pretty sure I recall that the behind-the-scenes technology for the daily cap is patented and owned by whoever administers the Oyster Card in London.

    2. Metro had a weekend day pass although I think it went away with ORCA. The problem is Metro, CT, and PT have been on shoestring budgets for at least five years so they can’t afford any loss of revenue. Metro lost its standby buses that take over when a route is delayed, CT lost Sunday service, and PT has only a few things that meet a minimum definition of frequent. So a day pass would mean cutting some evening runs, and some of them are already hourly.

      1. Why not simply set the price of a day pass to allow the agencies to break even or gain a small amount of revenue? Given that I don’t have the data, I’m not sure what a price would be, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to calculate an appropriate price that allows the agencies to break even in terms of fare revenue (keeping in mind that a day pass would also increase ridership, so that should be taken into account).

    1. Rainier Square is pretty underutilized, I look forward to seeing something more useful (and hopefully iconic?) go in its place.

    1. I listened to this podcast and thought this guy and his obsession with parking sounds like someone the people at STB would enjoy hearing. So … you’re welcome.

      1. One thing that struck me about the YouTube video you posted earier today with old images of Bellevue was the huge amount of parking around all those businesses. I think I prefer the urban form of downtown Bellevue today. There’s still a bit of surface parking around, but there’s a lot less and most of the strip malls are gone.

      2. I lived in Bellevue when it was all like that. It was a much smaller city then, so maybe it was more appropriate for the population size. As a kid and teenager, I just accepted it as “normal” and had nothing to compare it to. Downtown Bellevue was minimally walkable in spite of those parking lots. (And Bellevue Square did get more walkable in its 80s incarnation — perhaps Kemper was more forward-thinking than we give him credit for.) But Bellevue’s current incarnation is much better, and it certainly would have been better if Bellevue had originally developed as a “compact” city.

  5. Here is the first rational transportation project I have ever heard them proposing:

    WSDOT says Puget Sound Gateway Project would finish 167, 509

    Engineers began planning the first phases of State Routes 167 and 509 in the 1950s, and road crews built them in the 1960s — but from the start, the intention was that someday these corridors would connect to I-5.

    Someday is now, John White, director of tolled corridor development for the Washington State Department of Transportation, told members of the Auburn City Council at City Hall on Monday as he laid out the guts of WSDOT’s latest mega construction proposal, the Puget Sound Gateway Project.


    Highway class transportation all the way through to Kent? And Puyallup? They should have done this 20 years ago! But, not looking at gift horse in the mouth. Not too much detail on how far they would bring 509 into 516. I believe we need it all the way to Black Diamond!

    1. 509 will connect to I5 south of seatac and that’s it. It’s not an east west corridor.

      There’s no funding identified for it yet and it will be tolled.

      1. Ah, the good old funding issue.

        Put in on the ballot. If people think the funding mechanisms, be they tolls, raising the gas tax, or even sales or property taxes, are fair and the benefits of these projects are worth it,…

        they will vote for it

    2. The 509 extension is needed for 99 to get enough traffic to make tolling pencil out on the downtown tunnel.

      It was in the (now dead) state transportation bill. Not sure how they plan on getting it done now.

    3. They plan on extending SR 167 from Puyallup to SR 509 in the Tacoma tideflats. That’s going to be just plain weird. Then, southbound 167 will turn northwest, and northbound 167 will start out going SE.

      Why don’t they just do this, and call the new extension SR 410, which already goes east-west in mostly the same direction as the extension anyway?

      1. Because it’s not really an extension, it’s a rerouting. River Road northwest from Puyallup to Tacoma is already part of SR 167. Though until 1970, it was part of SR 410 instead, just like you propose.

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