41 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: NYC Streets Metamorphosis”

  1. Continuing my long quest to understand how to properly use Metro, I have yet another question for the open thread:

    How does route 3 work? I was in its neck of the woods (in the CD/Madrona area) and noticed the buses being very peculiar. Buses heading eastbound on Cherry, away from downtown, had “Downtown” on the headsign. By the same token, at least one bus heading south on 23rd Ave said “Madrona/34th Ave” on the front even though it was heading away from Madrona, even turning right onto Jefferson. Trying to read Metro’s combined schedule for these two routes boggles my mind and proves that I’m not as good at this whole bus thing as I thought. My confusion was furthered when I wandered by the northbound stop on 21st and the sign said _both_ Madrona and downtown…

    So, what in the world was going on? If I wanted to go to Madrona, would I have gone to the stop on the southeast corner of 23rd Ave & E Cherry St and to go to downtown would have been the one next to Ezell’s? While I’m at it, I thought 3 and 4 both went to different parts of Queen Anne but I saw a few that said “Downtown Only.” Do they not all go to QA?

    1. Ahh, welcome to the wonderful world of ‘Metro MutationLand’, where buses don’t always do as you expect. For that you need a schedule, and pay close attention to the letter symbols.
      Some 3’s start at 21st, loop around the block on 23rd to start their trip downtown.
      Some 3’s end at 3/Virginia.
      As for the SB on 23rd, signed Madron, that’s a mistake (probably hit the wrong button or forgot to change signs at 34th layover.
      Riding buses is not for the faint hearted.

    2. How does route 3 work?

      I wish they wouldn’t do this without giving a route different numbers, or at least calling it route 3a or something.

      Midday (roughly 8am-4pm), only every second bus makes the complete trip to Madrona. The other half of the buses only go as far as Ezells, then loop around the block and head back downtown. These trips are marked “V” on the schedule, and the buses destination sign should read differently on these trips (assuming it was set up properly). These are called “turnback” trips.

      On the other side of downtown, the 3 and 4 normally follow the same route as far as the top of Queen Anne hill, before they split. However, during midday again (roughly 8am-4pm) about half of the 3’s will turn around downtown instead of going all the way to queen Anne. These ones are marked “N” on the schedule, and the destination sign should read differently on these as well.

      Your confusing northbound stop at 21st & James where you spotted schedules both reading “to downtown” and “to Madrona” is part of the turn-around loop for the turnback 3’s, so you can theoretically catch a bus to go either direction at this stop. However, the only downtown-bound buses that serve that stop are going to be the turnbacks, as they turn around, so normally you’d want to catch your downtown-bound 3 on the north side of Jefferson, in front of Ezells. Every Madrona-bound bus, however, will serve that stop.

    3. Thank you both. This is an example of the online schedule being much harder to read than the printed one. I think I’ll pick up a printed schedule the next time I want to try out the 3. It makes sense now that y’all have laid it out for me; I’ve never encountered a bus route with a “loop” in the middle.

      1. Metro route 73 is also like that: most of them go to up 15th Avenue all the way Jackson Park but a few of them turn left on 65th and go to Greenlake P&R. Confusing. Why can’t the latter just have a different route number?

      2. Elbar: Most of the numbers like the ones you describe have been in place for a long, long time, way before Metro did things like “performance reports”. Metro has slowly been eliminating these oddities. I was particularly overjoyed when Metro finally deleted the 5-Northgate.

        In fact, when you consider that most people taking the 66/67/70/71/72/73 are just trying to get between downtown and the Ave and Northgate, the situation is even worse than you describe. There are six different routes, when there should really be just one or two. And, in fact, Metro has proposed to fix this problem. The 70 will become more frequent (every 10 minutes all day), picking up all local service on Eastlake. The 73 will also become super frequent (every 8 minutes all day), and will continue from the U-District to Northgate, vaguely along the 66/67 route. The remaining local service — the fragments of the 71/72/73 that only have half-hourly service and few riders today — will be restructured separately from this core trunk.

        The tragedy is that this excellent restructure is combined with catastrophic cuts throughout the rest of the system (and that it didn’t get proposed earlier)…

  2. 5 Reasons Why Germans Ride 5 Times More Mass Transit Than Americans.

    Of the 5 reason, the researchers mention car restrictions as being the most influential, saying:

    “Without the necessary policies to restrict car use and make it more expensive, American public transport is doomed to remain a marginal means of transport, used mainly by those who have no other choice.”


    This is one of the reasons that pro-rail/pro-transit people spend more time advocating measures that will hinder car use just as much as they talk about public transit. It’s a win/lose game. The only way they can win is if they work toward making car users lose.

    1. The Germans are probably overly enamored with making people do things. Seems to me our forced dependence on private automobiles is doing just fine by itself in making itself prohibitively expensive, inefficient, and above all completely miserable to use.

      I’m doing the best I can to help keep car traffic moving by keeping my car out of situations where it’s in the way of traffic, generally by using transit where my car will only block other people’s car use, and get stuck itself.

      If I had more good transit, I’d be able to stay out of even more car-lanes. Honest, I’m doing the best I can with the system we’ve got.

      Mark Dublin

      1. If you make mass transit a much better deal than getting in your car transit will increase. If you want to get rid of dollar bills in favor of coins do not print more dollar bills. People adapt.

      1. Chris, you have that backwards. The push to grow public transit is a fundamental change in the notion that it’s primarily the responsibility of the individual to travel from point A to point B. Transit advocates, in the guise of “efficiency” and “ecology” are doing nothing less than trying to make it a function of government to move people, even just to go to the store. SOV commuters mostly fund their own commute. It’s their responsibility to buy their own car. It’s their responsibility to buy the gas, insurance, fix the vehicle, pay for parking, etc. Transit advocates want to shift that responsibility over to the government. Transit discussions are inherently political philosophy discussions.

      2. @Sam: Before that, people primarily got around by walking and sometimes using privately-operated transit (sometimes operating in public streets). Some roads were created and maintained by the government as a public service, others privately. The rise of car usage created major new demands on governments to build and maintain roads, and drove transit companies out of business.

        There’s always been a mix of private and public responsibility in the way people get around, and public assets emerging from private behavior have always been important (an example: the idea of a “public realm” whose most important elements are private citizens and businesses). In America, in cities built (and re-built) around cars, road designs, city layouts, and traffic dangers prevent people from widely getting around on foot, like they used to. That’s really the most personal responsibility you can take for your transportation, and it’s a combination of public choices about road design and private decisions that decimated pedestrian public realms and filled roads with large numbers of fast-moving cars that’s hindered it.

      3. Are you bloody serious? I count the number of times this blog has debunked that sentiment and shown it to be total bullshit.

    2. Cascadian,

      I am just making up the following dates and figures, but that doesn’t make them any less valid. In 1963, just 1.7% of students in the Seattle School District received free school lunches. Back then, people agreed that it was the responsibility of the parent to feed their children. Today, over 72% of students receive free lunches from the school. There’s been a dramatic shift. Feeding one’s children is now assumed to be a responsibility of the government. The same thing is happening in the field of transit. This is all about the growth of government, not the movement of people.

      1. The point of government aid to children (in many forms, school lunches being only one), is that we should not punish children for the sins of their parents.

        I am just making up the following dates and figures, but that doesn’t make them any less valid.


      2. Anything could change in 50 years. For all you know, in 2063, 72% of all internet trolling will be provided by the government. You might be out of a job!

      3. Sam, your assignment is to research the actual figures for school lunch assistance for those two arbitrary times you mentioned and report back here. There will be a quiz tomorrow.

      4. Free lunches are for low-income families. If a lot of kids are getting free lunches, then there are a lot of low-income families. 1963 was the middle of the postwar golden age when the economy was booming, the whole world was buying American products, gas was 20 cents a gallon and a large Seattle house cost less than $50,000. In the 70s there was inflation and prices and wages rose. Then since the 80s prices rose and wages didn’t, so now people are spending a lot more of their income on housing and gas and staples and healthcare, and that’s one reason why more kids are eligible for free lunches. There has also been high immigration and white flight. More affluent families opting for private schools. And Seattle has become the most childless city in the country (alternating with with San Francisco). Ergo, a high percentage of the families left in Seattle public schools are poor and thus get free lunches.

  3. What are our priorities from the legislature this year? What do we want out of a transportation package (or do we want one at all)?

    I’ll be attending a “send-off” meeting with my legislators (David Frockt, Jessyn Farrell, and Gerry Pollet) this Thursday at Kenmore city hall. I know I’m definitely going to have a few words about the transportation package, since I don’t consider any of the proposals I’ve seen to be acceptable, but I’m wondering what it is we should push for that’s actually achievable.

    1. What’s a good goal that’s actually achievable? A transportation package that tries to clear our budget-busting highway maintenance backlog, rather than just ignoring maintenance and spending all the money on new expansion projects.

      Dreamland would involve some sort of state grant program for local/regional transit projects, and some sort of ongoing local/regional transit funding, even just a token amount.

    2. This. Major in the majors; excel in the basics. The WWII generation built our infrastructure and roads and bridges and sidewalks, and we’re letting them deteriorate for the sake of flashy new highways and unsustainable exurban sprawl (which we won’t maintain either). For transit, the “basics” include not starving Metro, Pierce Transit, and Community Transit: let them grow enough to fulfill Metro’s frequent network (as reflected in its underservice report and Seattle’s TMP), restore CT’s Sunday service (remind him that Kenmore is next door to Snohomish County), and let PT get on with more one-digit routes. Skagit and the north need a more robust regional network. And ST3 is coming up soon, so no shenanigans about that.

  4. Question. Some of today’s Central Link line, and future Link lines are elevated. Let’s say decades from now, areas around those elevated portions of the line develop a lot of residential density, can new arial stations be added to accommodate the future unforeseen density? For example, there is a couple of miles of East Link between 130th and Overlake Village Station that won’t have a station. There isn’t any density in that area now, but 50 years from now, who knows what the area will look like. Can “aftermarket” stations be added to access arial sections of the line?

    PS, I think I ask the most interesting, creative, and yes, intelligent questions in the history of STB.

    1. It must be easier to add an elevated station than an underground station.

      But if 140th and 148th get dense, pigs will be flying, and downtown Bellevue will have spread east to 124th and north to 520, and no doubt west of 130th will still be denser than east of it.

      1. “But if 140th and 148th get dense, pigs will be flying …” Why do you think it’s impossible for those areas to be dense 50+ years from now? You don’t think Link and the Spring District are going to spark dramatic growth along the BelRed corridor?

      2. How about something more practical, such as an in-fill station between Henderson and TIBS?
        Or the promised stub track branching over to serve SouthCenter and the Green River Valley, by ST.
        More flying pigs?

      3. I’m not saying it’s impossible. I’m saying that the areas where the city and developers have taken steps toward growth will be larger and more dense than the areas where they haven’t yet. The area on both sides of the Eastside rail corridor, the Spring District, Overlake, and Crossroads are being positioned for growth. The area between 130th and 148th hasn’t been yet. In fact, the city talks about an “artists’ neighborhood” around 130th, whatever that means. Why don’t you buy up the land between 130th and 148th, then you can ensure it has density, make a huge profit, and be an everlasting hero (they may even build a statue of you in the neighborhood).

  5. I’ve been thinking about the new Madison Street electrified BRT project. Could this become a potential addition to Metro’s RapidRide system? Think about it–and ETB painted in RapidRide red!

    1. The city has previously said it would not be RapidRide, but an SDOT specific BRT branding.

      The designs they’ve shown go way beyond the RapidRide level of service, I don’t think the city much wants it to be tainted by the RapidRide name.

      1. They should paint the buses red and make the route one that other RR lines should aspire to.

      2. RapidRide is a dead end, so they’re pretty much forced to. Metro can’t afford to make all frequent routes RapidRide, and RapidRide’s limitations make it a mediocre brand. There’s also the question of what Sound Transit’s BRT on 405 and Aurora will be called. So hopefully Madison BRT will have a low-key name that can serve until Metro can afford to build all its frequent lines at some better-than-rapidride level, and hopefully the feds will allow Metro to merge the RapidRide routes into that brand even if some of the brand’s routes are less than RapidRide.

  6. Long-time lurker… finally commenting.

    Why does Sound Transit do such an abysmal job of communicating with riders waiting on the Link platforms when there is a service delay? Saturday around 5 pm there were no trains running north or south through the Beacon Hill station for at least 30 minutes. I jogged across to the southbound side when I finally heard a train (there’s an advantage of a center platform!) and asked that train’s operator. He said there had been a fight onboard one of the trains, so the first northbound train (after police response and such) was just leaving Rainier Beach.

    That’s some useful information! Why doesn’t ST do anything more than play the canned “experiencing brief service delays” recording? Even *that* is hit or miss; they didn’t use it yesterday. Especially in the case of BeHi and north, there’s easy bus service that gets to the same place when the train is delayed.

    I’m signed up for rider alerts, but the ST sms alerts seem to go out on at least a 90 minute delay, and there’s no cell service at any of the underground stations.

    This turned into a bit of a rant, but perhaps ST’s communications staff lurks on STB too!

    1. Some might say it’s because ST is an agency with a lot of well-paid 9 to 5 big picture, big project” people, who believe that it’s beneath them to deal with minor issues like customer service. It’s like if every Nordstrom store had 50 Vice Presidents sitting up stairs, and only one sales person on the floor. The customer service would be crap, wouldn’t it?

      The other reason, some might say, is related to an old bumper sticker I once saw. It had the old AT&T logo on it, with the words “We don’t care. We don’t have to.”

  7. Refrigerating butane is very dangerous if you happen to live near anyone doing it:



    The real question is not when buying this gas is going to get regulated like meth precursors, but where will south east Seattle entrepreneurs get their butane when the Lowe’s near both of these incidents is turned into a 125 foot (or 85′) mixed use hardware black hole? Going to the SODO Home Depot risks any amount delays from train crossings.

  8. Does anyone know what was happening in the downtown tunnel this morning? I got an email notification that throughout the morning commute, “All routes entering the downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (DSTT) are currently operating via their surface street routing and not serving the tunnel,” even though “Buses leaving to their outlying destinations are operating their regular routes and stops through the tunnel, but may be delayed.” They never gave a reason, though.

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