This is an open thread.

48 Replies to “News Roundup: Happy Thanksgiving”

    1. Yeah, I saw that yesterday. Didn’t they already try that a year or two ago?

      I’m pretty sure it’s doomed to failure. The fact that it will be subject to delays because of boat traffic is, as far as I’m concerned, a deal killer.

      I can’t see the effort to bring back the monorail as anything but quixotic.

      1. I agree. I doubt they get enough signatures, really. Especially since Sound Transit is already studying the route anyway.

      1. Based on past experience, “planned to accommodate in the future, but currently deferred” is simply a politically correct way of saying “dead”.

    1. That would suck. Last I read, the cost wasn’t that high. Is there any way the city or county could step in and pay for it? I know that sets a bad precedent, but maybe if they got a promise from the board that if money is found, then they will pay the city or county back. I know the county doesn’t have any money, but if we end up having a bond issue to pay for Metro, I would like to see this included. This will improve the bus system considerably, so it is reasonable to tie them together.

      A station at 130th is critical. Without it, the entire region has substandard transit. Northgate is a terrible spot for a transit center.

      1. Once again NE Seattle gets screwed (and I am specifically talking about the area north of 85th).

        Nobody living in Meadowbrook or Lake City travels through Northgate to get anywhere other than Northgate or NSCC. That is an area to be avoided at all costs. A 130th station would have opened up not only Lake City but the areas directly to the south via a revised 75 that traveled crosstown.

    2. It said the staff recommended the 130th and 220th stations but the board took them out again.

      They’re not dead because the current board can’t predict what a future board will do. Both of Seattle’s boardmembers are changing next year, and the other members will turn over at various times too. In any case, if the Lynnwood Extension comes in at budget or under, there may be money to add 130th without waiting for another vote.

      1. I think it would be great if this blog did a story on the board itself, and how they typically vote. In this case, I assume a change in the Seattle members wouldn’t change a thing. If anything, I would guess it would make things worse (new members would vote the same way, but not be able to convince the other members to go along).

      2. In this case it’s potentially downhill because we’re losing two people 100% supportive of 130th and gaining two people with unknown ideas. But I doubt Murray will reverse course although he may modify it slightly. The councilmember position all depends on whether they appoint a transit supporter or a (pro-roads/undensity/open space) reactionary. I’m cautiously hoping they’ll stick to their senses and appoint the best qualified transit supporter. (And who would that be in this council?)

      3. Also, I don’t fault the board for voting the way if it was the only way they could fulfill their legal obligations with a limited budget and unknown cost contingencies. But they should outline a milestones under which 130th would automatically be added, or at least have a high percentage of being added. Namely, if they find $X million in savings or voters approve ST3, it would first be applied to 130th. That’s similar to how the Fed is handling interest rates: “We won’t raise them until unemployment gets down to 6.5%.” That way people have certainty about when and how they’re moving. 220th could be handled the same way, depending on how strongly Snohomans feel about it.

      4. Has anyone who spoke with the staff at the open houses discussed how much pre-build construction can be designed into 130th station area? (If they actually choose the retained cut/retained fill option in that segment)

        Of course, the big issue is the reconfiguration of the bridge/interchange that was evident in the plans.

        Maybe we can get another trucker to smack into the bridge supports, thereby having Fed highway money completely rebuild the 130th overpass to the proper, station ready configuration.

      5. Anyone know if the city could step in and pay for the station? We are talking about $24 million here. That is peanuts compared to a lot of projects. I would rather have this station then another streetcar.

    3. Well, that nails it, we’re definitely moving away from Bitter Lake just as soon as my youngest starts elementary school. Between the crime (hookers, cars broken into, drug deals on the corner, and lately our street has become where people abandon the cars they’ve stolen) and the lack of transit connections, we really have no reason to stay.

      1. What can you expect from a place called Bitter Lake?

        It’s only one step away from Desolation Row.

      2. I think 130th will eventually have a station. The question is when. At best you are talking ten years from now (when Lynnwood Link opens). It might take a few years after that, but hopefully between now and then we can make sure the station is included.

  1. The opera link reminds of something I saw in the Vienna U-Bahn (Karlsplatz station, I think). There was a toilet labeled as “Opera Toilet” with music playing. This station was the closest to the Vienna Staatsoper, naturally.

    1. I took the Bremerton ferry today and saw the signs. They don’t say anything about what the issues are, just that it’s regular ferry-decision stuff.

  2. I would have posted this in the Mount Baker Station area upzone thread, but it wasn’t quite on-topic. So…

    What does everyone think about the bowtie intersection concept? To me, removing the Rainier/MLK intersection and reducing the number of uncontrolled turns across oncoming traffic look like big wins for pedestrian safety comfort in the immediate area of the station. But would the extra turning traffic on and off of McClellan, Bayview, and Walden cancel out the benefits?

    1. I don’t know. The city says it would eliminate a nightmarish multi-way turning bottleneck at Rainier/MLK/McClellan. I can’t say I’ve observed a problem there. But the city probably knows best about what would improve traffic flow. I can’t see how dispersing the turns to surrounding streets would make things bad for pedestrians; 15th NE in the U District has lots of turns but they don’t cause much problems.

      1. I figure the city is competent to analyze traffic flow, more than I am at any rate, and they pretty much can’t get away with doing anything that makes car traffic worse for any reason. With car traffic already so well taken care of, I don’t even bother thinking about it.

        The difference between this and 15th is that you’d have intersections at the corners of the bowtie with so much turning traffic that they’d require long turn phases. That’s a big cause of pedestrian delay.

    2. I do predict drivers saying, “Huh? I’m supposed to divert to a different street, turn onto a cross street, and then turn back onto my original street?” Is there any other city where something comparable is working?

      1. As for this… similar sorts of situations happen all the time when old roads are broken up to build new roads, or when streets named for their position in a grid change their position in the grid. For non-grid-imposed examples (there are too many of these to count), if you’ve ever tried to follow Renton Ave S or Beacon Ave S, you’ve probably observed this. For an example involving higher car-traffic volumes than that, see Butterfield Road and 22nd Street in the west suburbs of Chicago. It’s a little confusing to drivers, but they are basically used to it. We shouldn’t let streets’ names dictate their design — if a street’s name changes are really that confusing, maybe the naming should be changed to represent what’s really going on.

  3. I applaud the letter sent to the ST Board by Seattle Subway last week. Point one is a discussion worth having as ST pushes forward on their current and future planning efforts. Clearly, there is great room for improvement in bringing the long touted cheaper operating cost of rail v. bus to reality.
    Ben points out that Vancouver BC has operating cost per passenger trip of $1.97, which would allow Link to break even at those costs. Looking directly south of us to Portland, their MAX system cost $2.27 per rider in 2011.
    For comparison, ST route 550 cost $3.11 in 2011, which is comparable to trip length, speed to a typical current day Link trip. Now compare that to the projected cost per boarding to secure federal funding of $3.70 per boarding with the actual cost of $6.52 in 2011 (ref: Before/After Report), or approaching twice as much.
    From the latest SIP document, ST is forecasting operating costs to come down to $4.44 per boarding in it’s first full year of operation in 2017 between UW and Angle Lk. This is more than twice as much as Vancouver and still much higher that comparable bus routes with trip speed, distance and load factors. Shouldn’t bringing the two most productive stations on-line bring cost down significantly? Sacramento’s LRT cost per rider is 3.49 each. The list of lower cost operations goes on and on.
    Is Seattle just ‘stuck’ with the situation, or can you think of ideas to bring costs down to comparable systems? Building more segments into the urban fringe is not what I had in mind either. That always drags a systems metrics down, not up.

  4. The Community Transit article (“A few new improvements”) has a link to CT’s long-range plan. It envisions several levels of service by 2030 including five Swift lines (pages 16-19 [physical pages, not internal page numbers]). (1) Swift I. (2) Swift II extended to Bothell. (3) Paine Field to Cathcart Way, wherever that is. (4) Mill Creek – Lynnwood – Edmonds. (5) Everett – Smokey Point.

    The last line is more cautious: it “may” have the potential to support Swift but should be evaluated in stages, including “encourage TOD in [two intersections in Smokey Point]” and “encourage implementation of Marysville’s Downtown Redevelopment Plan and the increased density, pedestrian, and transit-oriented development it calls for”. I bring this up not to emphasize this corridor, but to show that CT generally and even some exurban cities are thinking about density nodes, which is a good thing.

    For Edmonds – MT – Bothell (page 22) it says the streets are not up to Swift or Arterial standards, so the best it can support is a local route.

    Pages 24-26 discuss CT’s plans when Link gets to Lynnwood. The downtown and University expresses are history, replaced by feeders.

    Pages 32-38 have a quite interesting discussion about park n rides. They were built in the 80s and 90s when many local routes didn’t exist or were hourly, but local service has since increased. And it seems people are using the feeders. “A 2006 survey of Lynnwood transit Center users indicated that 57% of people traveling to the park n ride arrived by bus. Only 22% arrived by car.”

    It then says, “Park & rides are often understood to be a transitional or temporary solution to transit system access.” It then praises Bellevue TC for being designed in a multimodal way without parking, in the city center. The gist of it seems to be that P&Rs work best at the boundary between 30-minute and 60-minute bus service, and that boundary has moved from north King County (I assume meaning 145th Street) to Marysville/Lake Stevens/Snohomish. It seems to be saying now is the time for inner P&Rs to redevelop to higher uses (TOD) with public-private partnerships, and outer P&Rs are the new inner P&Rs.

    (Hmm, I wonder how that squares with ST’s big plans for parking at Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood stations.)

    1. I didn’t see one word in CT’s long range plan about restoring Sunday service (although, please correct me if I missed it). Does it make sense to start a whole new Swift line if we can’t even find the money to operate the one we have seven days a week?

      1. Sunday is mentioned on page 5. “In light of the significant service cuts implemented in 2010 [Sunday service] and anticipated further cuts [this was written in 2011], the Long Range Transit plan must now provide guidance in rebuilding service before Community Transit resumes system expansion to meet demand.” It doesn’t say how to do it; it just says to do it.

        The article about Swift II a few days ago wasn’t a proposal to go ahead with Swift II, it was basically a press release saying the House package included money for it. It also says the House package might net CT $1.4 million/year in operating funds, “which is about a third of the amount needed to offer a reduced level of Sunday service”.

  5. Is it really that hard to get rider alert info correct? ST website says the 512 wouldn’t use 4th and Pike from start of service until around 6:30pm. After waiting at 3rd and Union for buses that never came, I went up to 4th and asked a 512 driver what was up. He told me his re-route started at 8. I try to be a prepared rider and it ends up costing me almost 45 minutes of my time.

  6. A quick poll. For those of you traveling to someone else’s house yesterday within the tri-county area, how many did so by public transit? How many did so by car?

    1. You also have to ask what kind of neighborhood people went to and whether it even has bus service. That plays a significant role. It’s not like everybody’s parents lives in the same level of density.

    2. Seattle to Belfair. Bus 49, walk from Pike Place to ferry terminal via waterfront, Bremerton ferry, carpool.

      (BTW, Kitsap Transit had no holiday service, and had flyers at the ferry terminal to that effect.)

      1. I’m not sure what to make of the proposed zoning changes, but I know what I think of the article: Not much. It belongs in the editorial pages. The Ave isn’t struggling. It is one of the most vibrant, diverse streets in the entire city. It reminds me of Toronto. Literally dozens of independent, different shops, bars and restaurants representing cultures from all over the world. The only ugly part is the handful of chain stores. The article states that “much of the retail business shifted long ago to University Village”. That is simply not true. What little boutique or Thai restaurant moved to University Village? Is this where all the used records stores relocated? What about all of the independent coffee shops that predated Starbucks — are they now in the University Village? Of course not.

        The only legitimate complaint is about homelessness on The Ave. Well, sorry. Unless you address this on a national level (which means undoing everything that has occurred since 1980) you are going to have homelessness around public areas. Malls are private, so they can kick them out. But a public area with lots of people walking buy? There will be some panhandlers.

        I could certainly see how some of the buildings in the area could be replaced by bigger ones, but if you remove the old buildings on The Ave, then you will probably destroy what character remains on the street, and you will have chain restaurants, shops and bars. Some preservation is in order here. Not preservation as in “tear down the old buildings but make sure the new buildings are the same size” but preservation as in “don’t tear down the buildings in this area”.

      2. “Unless you address this on a national level … you are going to have homelessness around public areas.”

        My friend from Dallas says this only occurs in bleeding-heart liberal areas. In Texas people don’t put up with panhandlers and run them out of town, so they don’t have them.

  7. Correction. Former Eastside Rail Corridor – Redmond Spur. Not a rail corridor anymore. It’s something much better. It’s a walking path. #RailFail.

  8. The Eastlake neighborhood has flyers at bus stops about the Metro cuts. It correctly puts the blame on the conservatives in the Legislature, and then lists the restructures. (Delete the 25; consolidate the 66, 71, 72 into the 73.) They urge people to write the county and defend the 25 and 66, but secondly “Probably most important, please urge that if route 66 is eliminated even temporarily, Metro must replace its four express stops (Aloha, Garfield, Lynn, and Harvard) with similar express stops on the 73.”

    1. A corollary of this is, the 73 wouldn’t be able to run on the freeway or it wouldn’t be able to make the Eastlake stops.

    2. The 70 is still in service under the 17% cut proposal. Given the short walk to Fairview, I cannot imagine Metro screwing over everybody in the U-district in the name of slightly better coverage of Eastlake.

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