RapidRide 4 Line Sign. Flikr user andrewjn_minn.
RapidRide 4 Line Sign. Flikr user andrewjn_minn.

This is an open thread.

49 Replies to “News Roundup: Counterfactual Nonsense”

    1. How can removing sales tax on transportation projects be interpreted as anything but a Dino Rossi-like grab for general fund/Transit dollars for roads?

      1. You know what else is exempt from sales tax? Gasoline.

        Suppose that we levied the regular retail sales tax on gasoline, and lowered the gas tax so that gas remained at its current price level. In that case, over 50% of the current gas tax revenue would go to the general fund instead.

        Gas taxes represent about 50% of WSDOT’s revenues.

        So whenever anyone tells you that the WSDOT is self-funding, keep in mind that about 25% of its “gas tax” revenue is actually a tax expenditure from the general fund.

  1. Re: Ed Murray and Bike infrastructure.

    Maybe Peter Steinbrueck is advising him on transportation issues.

    1. Peter Steinbrueck has always been right on when it comes to bike lanes. You can drop your vendetta now.

    2. At least that would suggest someone is advising him. He did a 180 after the Seattle Bike Blog article: http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2013/10/22/murray-reverses-his-position-about-ne-75th-street-bike-lanes/ This is the third bike infrastructure item he’s completely walked back once there was the slightest pushback (Missing Link, Westlake).

      If he had come to an informed decision opposing it and stuck to his guns I’d have more respect for his process. Right now it sounds like he isn’t fully informed, says whatever sounds good at the moment, then researches the facts after other people complain.

      Frankly that’s more alarming to me in a mayoral candidate than someone who’s just cynically trying to appeal to the Mayor McSchwinn haters.

  2. The port of seattle has two business: a money making airport, and a subsidy requiring, money-losing port. They should spin off the part they don’t know how to run.

    1. It probably doesn’t help that they are giving $300 million to help build a waterfront highway tunnel that will not do a thing to improve their operations. That money could buy two grade separations on tracks near the port in SoDo. Yes, West Coast ports are in trouble, but the Port of Seattle has done immense damage to its own cause through ideological obstinacy.

      1. The SR99 funding helps pay for the ‘little h’ overpass into Terminal46 along with Colorado St. road realignment Providing direct access for trucks between T46 and the BNSF railyards. So the project will do a lot to improve operations.

  3. IT sounds like the whole container shipping industry is having trouble, Portland is in a similar situation

  4. Yglesias on unions is becoming increasingly painful. No, Matt, these kinds of hyptheticals aren’t particularly useful in figuring out how to think about mass transit union strikes as a general category. The fact that the sticking points between the union and management weren’t actually about salary at all seems particularly relevant here.

    1. There are only a few really highly-paid bart employees anyway, the rest make pretty normal bay-area working-class sum.

      1. Metor has multiple drivers making over $100,000; and a significant number making over $70,000. Labor costs account for much more than half of Metro’s expenses, so any serious discussion of Metro’s finances require us to look carefully at whether we are getting good value for money from bus drivers and other transit workers.

  5. I don’t think the reopened South Park Bridge will change the 132 routing; that would leave all but the very eastern end of South Park without any north-south service.

    It will streamline the 60 quite nicely. Perhaps the southern part of the route might even have some riders again.

    1. Yeah, the big loop on the 132 there is just how you exit the highway. The 132 would probably be a little faster using the South Park Bridge. Does anyone know what the route was before the bridge construction started?

      1. That part of the 132 route hasn’t changed since the Stone Age. (Other parts have changed more recently, both north and south of South Park.)

        Because of how South Park is arranged, there is no good way to provide north-south service that both 1) is direct and 2) covers more than a corner of South Park.

      2. Right, I agree. It’s too bad it can’t be done with fewer turns, but that’s the way the grid is laid out. Though it’s probably not “the grid’s fault”, really. IIRC (from reading stuff, not because I’ve been around that long) 8th Ave S connected through before 99 cut through the grid, and there was a bridge on that street also; It wouldn’t surprise me if that was a (very) historic transit route (though one that wouldn’t make much sense today). I have historic maps that might be able to confirm this, but on a different computer… will check later.

      3. Well, the awesome 1912 Baist map shows 8th going over the Duwamish and across the future location of 99, with a streetcar as far south as Cloverdale, then turning east and ending at 14th. It looks like that line ran along what’s now Airport Way S and down Carleton in Georgetown.

        That was before the river’s current alignment and before 4th Ave S (which currently carries the 132) crossed either the Duwamish or the big railyard, so needless to say, a lot has changed since then. The neighborhood used to be laid out nicely for direct access but the freeway and bridge reconfigurations destroyed that.

    1. Hmm. Two oversized corporations who each believe they are on a mission from God fighting over an abandoned factory in rural Bellevue. Interesting :)

    2. ” On Mars Hill’s web site, Hurst claims that Sound Transit “has chosen to seize this property under the authority of eminent domain.”

      That isn’t true. Dean acknowledges that Sound Transit didn’t actually seize the property, but says “if [International Paper] had sold it to us, Sound Transit would have just taken the property anyway under eminent domain.” He says the church plans to correct the claims on its web site. ” (Publicola)

      I wonder what the Bible has to say about intentionally lying to further your agenda?

      1. “I wonder what the Bible has to say about intentionally lying to further your agenda?”

        That section is obviously part of the Apocrypha.
        Something about the poor in there too.

    3. “[that site] is the location that God wants us to use to further the mission of the Gospel.”

      God told Pastor Hurst that He wants him in that location?

      1. Also, what about the thousands of Christians who would benefit from the Link line? They may go to this church once a week or twice a week or not at all, but they make other trips every day. There are only a few places where the maintenance base can be sited. With both Bellevue and Lynnwood trying to keep it out of their backyard, one of them will have to give.

  6. Is it true that the BART workers tried to negotiate the work rules in question and BART management refused?

    Just curious, Mr. Yglesias. Because a fourth option could easily be that company management take a salary cut across the board. Or failing that, bargain in good faith.

    This is the real class divide in the modern industrial world: those for whom a legitimate demand for fair treatment counts as extortion and robbery, and those for whom every salary demand, legitimate or not, is “street cred.

    Could we please hear from someone familiar with the facts of the BART negotiations so that we can reach a fair conclusion

    Mark Dublin

  7. I wonder how much objection to new buildings dedicated to density and lower cost stems from their resemblance to packing crates, and cheap and hastily designed ones at that?

    Someone who knows building construction, please explain to me why the very large new building on the north side of Market Street just west of 24th Avenue NW is not the blazing high-occupancy death trap it appears llikely to become?

    Or why the hall floors shook under my running shoes in the new building across the street from a LINK station yesterday?

    And could we have an informed discussion of the new Green Fire development just east of the Ballard Library, just to compare aesthetics and structural quality with the half dozen or so new residential buildings in walking distance of Downtown Ballard?

    I know quality costs money. Show me the debit column for the price of the all around ugliness that is, like the song says, “to the bone”.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Quality does cost money, and I think we need more of it. But Greenfire is a horrible example of affordability or being a good neighbor.

      For example, 500 sq feet starts at $1,700/month*. Want a P-Patch? That’ll be another $75/year (twice the City’s rate). Also, when a new building goes up nearby, they send their lawyers to speak at the public meetings to ensure that they don’t lose views or “solar access.”


      1. Greenfire is an equally horrific example of urbanism and scalable environmental sustainability.

        It’s nothing but driveways and underground parking and wasted space: http://www.greenfirecampus.com/location.html No frontage. No urban interactions. No there there.

        It’s the triumph of the faith-based approach to environmentalism: We don’t actually have to change our urbanphobic ways, because expensive “green” technology will save us all!

        That place is offensive.

  8. I comment about the picture on this article:

    Why do all the Rapid Ride arrival signs sort routes by number and not arrival time? I have been to a lot of different cities all over the world and have never seen it done that way. Routes are allways sorted in arrival order, the soonest is on the top of the list (like OBA does). Does anyone know why RR does not follow this convention?

    1. I don’t know Metro they did it that way but that’s the way it’s done for airport flight monitors. The reason airports do it that way is with hundreds of flights, it’d be more difficult to find your flight if it weren’t ordered alphabetically by destination and people don’t/can’t just take whatever flight is leaving soonest. I don’t think that reasoning applies to a bus stop with a 2-4 line sign though.

    2. I’d speculate it’s because sorting by arrival time would show just the 3-4 bunched 8s that are arriving, excluding the other routes from the sign. Sorting by route allows the 30 minute headway buses to get their time on the sign, too.

  9. Yikes, the Times article misconstrues a lot of the pushback on aPodments/boarding houses/halfway homes/whatever they are truly called.

    Of course, the first thing they, and other pro-boarding house people, focus on is parking, which neighbors have every right to be up in arms about. But that is a drop in the bucket. It can be mitigated with RPZ and will work itself out.

    The next thing they talk about (which is a big issue) is that people are against affordable housing, because of course us elite rich people up in Ballard just don’t want poor people moving in (or some other lame weasel statement). Of course this is not true, there is plenty of affordable housing in Ballard, most recently the Compass Center and the upcoming 15th and Market development, of which there was very few people against (other than losing a Denny’s). And if these boarding houses are the face of affordable housing, we have a sad future ahead of us in Seattle. For example, the first Ballard boarding house starts at $650/room. How is that “affordable”? If I had $650 to spend on rent, I could very easily find a roommate a get a small two bedroom apartment for $1300/month, without having to go to the edge of the city and without having to live in a cubby hole and share a kitchen and living room with 9 other people that I don’t know. And all the homeless people the article makes a point of calling out? Remember, these boarding houses are for profit, they aren’t going to house the homeless, unless the city steps in, so I wish that would stop being a talking point.

    What most pro-boarding house people DON’T talk about, which is the main concern of neighborhood citizens, is the infrastructure. The area the Ballard boarding house is going in is zoned for small apartments and townhomes, typically 6 unit condos and 4 townhomes per lot. The sewer and water in these neighborhoods were designed for single family homes, but have the capacity for the condos and townhomes, determined by years of design reviews. These boarding houses, however, don’t follow the spirit of the zoning, use loopholes to skirt design reviews and have NOT shown that the utility infrastructure can handle the capacity of 43 people jammed into a single family lot. When the infrastructure inevitably fails, who is going to foot the bill? You can bet it’s not the “build and run” developer, who safely lives in a single family zoned, water front mansion.

    And what about transportation? You never hear the pro-boarding house crowd talking about that either. Traffic in and out of Ballard is getting worse and worse. Transit is lackluster and really hasn’t changed much in the past 10 years, other than some slight realignment and fancy paint. I got a boiler plate letter back from the director of DPD about boarding houses, where I kid you not, the term “transit rich” was mentioned. I would like to hear from someone who believes Ballard is “transit rich”.

    So myself and other still fail to see the positives of these boarding homes and currently see them as shortsighted, secretive, “build and run” cash grabs by greedy developers, spouting off dribble about affordable housing out of the side of their mouth. I really would like to see something to convince me otherwise, but so far, nothing has surfaced.

    1. As a ballard resident, I don’t have a problem with apodments, save for the strain on transportation. The rationale that ballard is transit rich is well, hilarious. (It takes an average of 30 minutes to get home in the evening rush. With the massive Urbana apartments opening up soon, the commute gets more crowded). If we were guaranteed getting light Rail to downtown or Ballard spur to U-district, this might make sense. However, this is at best, up in the air.

    2. You’re conflating several different things. A halfway house is a program for people in rehabilitation from jail or psychiatric treatment. “Affordable” housing is for people eligible for low-income housing or subsidies; the cutoff for that is less than a barista makes unless they have three dependents. There’s a gap between the “affordable” cutoff and the $1000+ rents that most of the market is. There aren’t many boarding houses; the ones in the U-District are presumably full with students, and the others (if you mean a single-family house that rents rooms) are few and mostly have bad transit.

      Apodments fill a niche for people who (1) aren’t eligible for affordable housing, (2) don’t want to negotiate with a roommate they don’t know, (3) want more privacy than a boarding house (e.g., their own bathroom, refrig/microwave, lock on the door), and/or (4) want to live near frequent transit and an urban village. The latter is of most interest to a transit blog. Under-$1400 two-bedroom apartments and boarding houses are mostly NOT located near urban villages, while apodments are.

    3. I think your infrastructure concerns are a bit overdramatic.

      Water: The water mains are sized for firefighting needs, which is more capacity than a neighborhood full of apodments will ever need. Not to mention that modern fixtures use a fraction of the water that fixtures did when the system was designed.

      Sewer: The sewer mains are massively oversized for stormwater drainage (a legacy of our old “combined system”), which is more capacity than a neighborhood full of apodments will ever need.

      Electric: Primary load here is wintertime heating, which will be no different than any other building of comparable size on the lot, no matter how many units it’s divided up into. In many cases an apodment will use less electricity than the smaller building it replaced, due to modern insulation practices.

      Transportation: You laugh at Ballard being “transit rich”, but the reality is that there’s more transit capacity in Ballard than much of the rest of the city. The condition of transit there isn’t a Ballard issue, it’s a regionwide issue. The Seattle city government’s Transit Master Plan includes bringing more – MUCH more – high capacity transit to Ballard (the high priority “corridor 11”), even if it means doing it on the City’s dime instead of Metro’s or Sound Transit’s.

      1. … Hopefully rolling over and implementing the plan the council passed?

        … Pushing for its inclusion in ST3 instead of giving up subarea equity and handing the next line to the suburbs?

        I’m just sayin’ what current city plans are. If the new mayor scuttles those plans, Ballard residents have every right to take to the streets with pitchforks.

      2. While I’ll give you water and electricity (although I don’t agree with your load equivalency argument), combined sewer lines are over capacity, hence why Ballard is the trial grounds for rain gardens. We’ve spent billions of dollars upgrading sewage transmission lines to upgraded plants, but that doesn’t affect the local collector pipes.

        And on transportation, if it’s lagging, why overload the system more? If it’s a regional issue, shouldn’t they work it out how people are going to get around before they put the people there? I’m glad the the TMP makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, but Ballardites would disagree with you.

        And what I’m continuing to hear is that boarding house issues are really fake issues and we should rollover and smile as they swarm in. Expect the free for all, rather than expecting well planned out density. And yet, there’s still people on this blog don’t get why there’s opposition to density. Fear of boarding houses is one of the reasons Charter Amendment 19 is going to pass.

      3. And on transportation, if it’s lagging, why overload the system more? If it’s a regional issue, shouldn’t they work it out how people are going to get around before they put the people there?

        Well, here’s the thing. It’s not just Ballard that’s lagging. It’s everywhere. And the people are coming into the region whether we plan for it or not. So the question is, do you want them in neighborhoods planned for it and zoned for it, or do you want them in unregulated pirate multiplexes and pirate rooming houses in single family neighborhoods where there really is no infrastructure or oversight?

  10. I’ve been working in DT Bellevue for just a few weeks, and I’ve noted that the 560 is now operated by Pierce Transit.. I could’ve sworn it was operated by King County Metro last time I took a look at it. Does anyone know if this is true and if it switched recently?

Comments are closed.