Pike Pine Renaissance
Pike Pine Renaissance

This is an open thread.

98 Replies to “News Roundup: A Big Plan of Small Details”

  1. Actually, apparently there was a bit of rider confusion around Rapid E at first. Not only did the 358 suddenly disappear, but OBA listed the run as 675 instead of “E”.

    1. Suddenly disappear? Like notices at most all bus stops? And, new shelters? And, alerts on the headsigns on the last day of 358 service?

      1. Some of the stops have notices. Some don’t. I looked. A few candy-heart graphics mentioned the E-Line and 358 in the same phrase.

        I didn’t see “formerly route 358” on the E-Line electronic signs on the fronts of the buses yesterday. I did see some signs on other buses saying the 358 becomes the E Line tomorrow (but this was Saturday).

        One gentleman we were standing next to Saturday called Customer Service to ask what happened to the 358. We don’t actually know how many calls Customer Service got from passengers looking for the 358. We do know there was an organized effort with the C/D rollout to flood Customer Service with calls about every little mistake, every “full” bus, and every time there was more than 10 minutes between buses. No turn was left unreported or undocumented for the public. But I think Metro did an outstanding job with the C/D rollout in the face of a few organized riders still steaming about Metro’s efficiency moves, like cutting underperforming routes. Metro wisely made no such efficiency moves this time, and so drew no organized effort to pre-declare the E Line rollout a disaster.

      2. Nobody would have known that the 675 was really the “E” line as Metro has been touting the arrival of the “E” line not the 675.

        As for people not knowing … that is not unusual. People don’t read signs and they don’t pay attention. I witnessed many people waiting for the 358 on Monday … until I explained to them that it had been replaced.

        Lots of people were getting on the “E” thinking it was the “C” or “D” … just like people would get on the old 2X, thinking it was the 2, and then get mad when it didn’t stop between downtown and Mercer St.

      3. I’ve heard buses give audio messages through the open front door to let riders know which bus is pulled up in front of them (an ADA requirement, I believe). If the audio message can be adjusted to say “This is the E Line, formerly route 358”, that might help a lot.

      4. Brent, the downtown stops had and still have notices. The rider alerts for the shakeup, posted inside every bus (on all routes), had a notice that the 358 would be replaced by the E Line. The stations with Orca readers have line maps that look just like the routing of the 358. An agency can’t personally tell every rider about a change; I think it went pretty smoothly, except for the 675 thing. And I don’t think Metro would want to put “formerly 358” on the front of the E Line; it would hurt the rebranding effort of a fairly notorious route.

      5. People need to take some responsibility for their lives and the things around them. I saw plenty of notices and alerts that #358 was changing. In fact, Metro even gave us a couple of extra months since the conversion was originally going to happen last year. If people were confused, then it is their own fault for not paying attention–unless you’re 75 years old with dementia, you have no excuse for not knowing about the conversion.

      6. cinesea is right. Folks need to look up from their phones and take off their headphones and learn about the world around them. The only certainty is change.

      7. @Lloyd @Cinesea The point isn’t the route number change specifically, but the confusion around its listing on the OBA readers. No one had any idea what 675 was.

        I think the launch went well overall, but that the wrong numbering without any warning was confusing and was worth noting. I consider that a significant (though not critical) “snafu”.

      8. Sometimes, it’s important to use a little bit of common sense. Given that the E-line is the only bus on Aurora, when OneBusAway reports a bus coming down Aurora with the same high frequency promised for the E-line, it should be obvious that it’s the E-line because, well, what else could it be. Especially given that when the bus actually approaches, it says “Rapid Ride E” all over it.

      9. asdf,

        This is Metro we’re talking about. This is the agency where you can wait at a single bus stop on Queen Anne Ave N, and depending on which bus you catch, you will either be taken directly towards downtown or directly away from downtown. This is the agency that routinely runs buses with different destinations using the same number, such that if you get on the wrong bus, you’ll get dumped on the road halfway before your destination (if you don’t end up heading in the wrong direction). Can you blame riders for not trusting that a differently-colored bus, with a different number than the bus they used to take, and a different number from the bus displayed on the real-time arrival sign, will be the bus they want?

      10. well stated Alex. I refer to such routes as ‘Mutations’. Metro has calls them something else, and gives them a letter on the timetable.
        Riding the bus is not for the faint of heart.

      11. I’ll take riding the bus over driving or biking in traffic any day of the week. The latter two are scarier.

      12. Aleks, my favorite stop in all of Metro is stop #13001, 21st Ave & E James St, where the only bus that stops there, route 3, will take you to downtown or to Madrona. Same stop, same bus number, completely different directions. Like Brent says, though, still beats driving.

  2. I took several rides on the E Line yesterday to check out the ridership, headway control, and consistency of fare enforcement.

    The first first three northbound stops from the south still have the wrong printed schedule, showing way too few runs, and not starting until 9:30 a.m. SInce all have real-time arrival, this isn’t a serious error, but a slight embarassment.

    However, the real-time arrival kiosks still show 675 instead of E. Some signage (even guerrila signage) might help people realize the 358 hasn’t just vanished into thin air. Signage might be a much easier fix than whatever has to fix the computer program’s algebra.

    The off-board ORCA readers were consistently charging for one zone going northbound, even way outside downtown, where they weren’t doing dual duty with the D Line. The southbound off-board readers in Shoreline were charging for two zones until around 6:30, and then switched to off-peak. The off-board readers can cancel trips if you double-tap within a couple minutes, compared to on-board readers merely giving a “pass-back” warning. The identical sound of tapping on and cancelling is an ADA issue ST, Metro, and Community Transit, I believe, ought to look at.

    The readers on the buses going northbound in Seattle were lacking a little in precision. The first one that came to Pike at 3:02 charged off-peak, as it should since the run started before 3:00. The next one charged for two zones. The next one one zone. (Each a different bus): Then two zones. Then one zone. Then two zones. Then off-peak.

    The driver assured me it was supposed to be off-peak. “It isn’t 5:00 yet”.

    Then one zone. Then two. Then one. Then two. Then one.

    The two northbound boardings in Shoreline charged one zone. By the time I caught my first southbound trip, at 5:38, the on-board readers were charging off-peak, while the off-board readers were still charging for two zones until 5:45ish.

    Not all construction work at all stops is done yet. Several of the “stations” were still pretty bare, with no reader or RTA sign yet.

    The difference between the C/D rollout and the E rollout is not really that Metro got it right this time. It’s that Metro raised the expectations last time, got overwhelmed by the ridership, and had a blog full of belligerent commenters (some who didn’t actually ride the C/D Line but were merely happy for the opportunity to call for defunding a bus system they don’t support and probably weren’t even from that blog’s neighborhood). Maybe two, if you count some of the commenters here who insist on trashing the bad and never congratulating the good.

    The jury is still out on whether Metro overdeployed E Line buses, as Seattle Public Schools are on vacation this week, and Metro did significantly less to publicize the E Line than they did for the C/D Line. People may still be looking for their old 358.

    1. I believe construction is mostly done on stations. Certainly getting the real-time arrival signs and Orca readers actually working at Virginia and 46th would be good. Many of the stations (e.g., 76th, 125th) along Aurora will only have real-time signs and Orca readers in the inbound direction, similar the directionality of infrastructure on the C and D lines.

    2. Now, consider this: With many on-board ORCA readers on the E Line set to 2 zones, is that how most other 2-zone local routes operate?

      If you pay with cash, you just pay $2.50 for the one zone. If you tap at the front, you may get charged $2.50 or $3. You may be paying a random $0.50 electronic-payment surcharge. (At stations on the E-Line that happen to have off-board readers, just tap off-board to avoid this problem, but I’m curious about 2-zone local routes in general.)

      It looks to me like Metro is incentivizing cash payment on 2-zone local routes, and is doing so at the exact time of day when cash fumbling does the most damage. Has anyone else noticed how often you are getting charged for two zones?

    3. “headway control”

      To my knowledge, we are not using headway control on the B, C, D, or E lines. We used it for a short time on the B line but I’ve never seen in on C or D. I’ve only driven the E Line once so your guess is as good as mine.

      It seemed to work fine to me when we were using it but I obviously had a tree view – no idea what the forest looked like.

      1. I drive during the afternoon peak and have done so for the last year so if they had, I imagine I would have seen it. Headway control is turned on across the entire line so when it’s on, we all have it.

      2. Yes, it existed for the first month. The controllers thought it best to slow every bus to 15 minutes behind the prior, ensuring that every new hiccup or missed light rendered the next trip slower than the last. 35-40 minutes became the new Market->downtown standard, and you’d still find yourself “holding” at Bell or Virginia in your gleaming red prison.


        In the high-volume, low-headway systems for which this sort of control was originally developed, managers might have been expected to creatively alleviate bunching and keep all vehicles flowing smoothly and efficiently — perhaps by instructing a leader to run express for a few stops (an emptier one being right behind). But in Metro’s culture of s l o w, there was no such impulse. That first month was a disaster.

      3. “But in Metro’s culture of s l o w, there was no such impulse.”

        Bingo. Metro’s three “S”es – Safety, Service, Schedule is an impediment. Safety obviously should be #1 but Service and Schedule are more intertwined than Metro’s current training regimen allows for. There are slow changes – Tunnel operations policy is very explicit about opening doors once and not waiting for runners, but the old culture dies slowly. And with that culture dies the old, more friendly Metro which becomes a potential political liability.

        Probably start with RapidRide, Tunnel Ops. and any high frequency routes – preach something like “Safety first, compassionate ruthlessness second” – Ok, not very catchy but the buses will move better and people hopefully won’t have to wait long for the next bus…

      4. Perhaps a more holistic view of the “service” concept is needed. Sometimes, going out of your way to serve one rider can become a disservice to every other rider on your bus, or even on the next couple dozen buses and a train or two lined up behind it. The good of the many outweighs the good of the few.

        There are ways to serve the good of the few and the schedule of the many better, though. One E Line operator told me each operator gets to choose how to set the default on the ORCA reader zone, so he sets it for one zone, “because they want the RapidRide to be rapid”. His approach is not only more legally defensible, but more likely to convince riders to choose to pay electronically, especially if every other E Line operator followed his lead.

        Fare inspectors, for their part, can’t assume anything about how far someone has ridden, and certainly how far they will ride. If they can’t prove someone with a paper transfer rode 2 zones, but have a way to find that out about ORCA users, they are on shaky legal ground holding ORCA users to a tighter standard. It also encourages cash use over electronic payment. So, my suggestion to the E Line operators is for all of you to collude and set the peak zone to “one zone” consistently. It will speed up the line over the long haul, and we need a couple more of those E Line buses for the C/D Line, which is much more packed, and about to become even more packed if the 21 goes away, among other first-round Highway-99 based cuts breathing down our neck in June.

      5. One E Line operator told me each operator gets to choose how to set the default on the ORCA reader zone.

        You have fucking got to be kidding me.

        This explains everything.

        How dare Metro act — and charge — like it offers mass transportation, when it can’t be bothered to address the basics of consistency and expectation.

        It’s no wonder drivers who routinely take 15 minutes longer than other drivers to travel the same route are allowed to continue driving such routes. Metro just doesn’t care.

    4. Regarding ORCA settings on the E line during peak hours:

      The settings on the bus are the same as they were on the 358. Heading Southbound from Aurora Village to 145th, the readers on the kiosks and on the buses should be set for 2 zones. Adult passengers not traveling south of 145th need to ask the driver for a one zone fare. Once the bus crosses the zone line, the presets will be for one zone the rest of the way.

      Northbound, it’s different. All kiosks will be set for one zone, and the buses as well. Adult passengers travelling to Shoreline will need to ask for a two zone fare to avoid a $124 citation.

      FYI, there are a lot of routes that serve the CBD that are preset to one zone.

      1. The operator with whom I conversed said he didn’t think the zone reset takes long, and he has done it a few times. I sincerely hope the fare inspectors will be looking for passengers who didn’t pay any fare rather than educate lots of riders how to ask for a zone reset.

      2. @John Slyfield,

        Thanks for the information.

        I have an E-Line brochure. It mentions nothing about asking for a zone reset.

        I also searched the Metro website and found only one occurence of the phrase “zone reset”, on the Q&A page for the end of the RFA, telling passengers to ask the operator to ask the driver to reset the reader to one zone if they are not riding two zones. I was nothing under the E Line pages about asking drivers for a zone reset in order to avoid a citation.

        The operator with whom I conversed agreed that there is no logical reason to charge for two zones on local routes. If most two-zone fares Metro is collecting are the people living just outside Seattle who are commuting in in the morning, is it really worth it to have such a convoluted and mostly secret ORCA payment system just for that small amount of extra revenue?

        Since the low-income fare will be coming in, which will render moot the off-peak discount’s minor social equity effect, why not just end the off-peak discount to more than make up for the loss of the local two-zone occasionally-charged fare differential?

      3. One more detail: All the off-board readers had a standard message (I can’t recall it now), but said nothing about what they were set to charge. I had to tap each to get the answer.

      4. The thing with per-rider zone changes is that drivers do them so rarely they don’t remember how, or it takes several clicks on different screens to get to, and even if they do do that it sometimes doesn’t work. I didn’t understand for a long time why my ORCA card was charging surcharges on trains but not on buses. I thought I just had a lucky card. Then I remembered that way back at the beginning I had set it to one zone online, so I started asking drivers “two zones” on the uncommon occasions I was doing so. Some drivers said to just tap it anyway (at one zone), and some who actually tried to go through the screens either couldn’t find it, or when they did do it it didn’t work. It will probably be different on the E because drivers will be doing it frequently and will get used to it.

      5. The off-peak universal fare isn’t just a concession to poor people. It helps boost ridership when it’s the lowest and there’s the most spare capacity. It partly compensates for the worse service off-peak (less frequent and slower). It encourages cost-conscious non-riders to try the bus. And it’s when Metro’s expenses are lower so it more accurately reflects the cost of service.

        High expenses come from peak expresses and extra peak service on most routes. The very long local routes have mostly been split, so there are no more one-seat rides from downtown to Federal Way or Auburn or Bothell or North Bend (on Metro off-peak). Finally, there’s the issue of fairness. Do you think it’s fair to pay two zones on the 120 or 150? The 120 goes only 2 1/2 miles outside Seattle, and some of its riders only barely go into Seattle to transfer to the C. The 150 takes a freaking hour to get to Kent and is half-hourly evenings/Sundays. Metro should be paying people to ride the 150, not charging a two-zone fare for it.

      6. Yeah makes no sense. I actually ride the 150 more than anything and it’s silly that it’s preset to one zone out of downtown when there’s only four stops out of the tunnel before it high tails it to tukwila and two zone town.

        Personally I think they should have local and commuter fares which would better reflect the true cost of service delivery.

  3. “80% of households below 50% of Area Median Income (AMI) are cost burdened.” So most people that make under half of the median wage find it hard to afford housing? Shocked!

    The study is actually good for what it is, though a more useful study would have looked at impacts of incentive fees. As written it’s casting the debate as *how much housing should we force developers to build and at what income levels*, rather than looking to see whether incentive fees (or inclusionary zoning) is helpful at all.

    1. I think that political precedence, the stated preference of the council and mayor, as well as where the public is means incentive zoning isn’t going anywhere (inclusionary zoning is different but similar). I do however think that this presentation and work that’s come out of the planning commission (http://bit.ly/NesUdp) is bringing up needed discussion to who affordable housing resources should targeted.

      I’ll give you a personal example. Two good friends of mine recently moved into a brand new, 2-bedroom income restricted “workforce housing” unit in SLU. Both of them work in the service industry are in their mid-20s and have college degrees. They got a great deal on the place and I’d jump at the chance too. They could have afforded rents in other Seattle neighborhood but wanted to be close to the action and friends, hopefully I’ll seem more now. BUT is housing like this Seattle’s highest priority for affordable housing?

    1. Sounds like it finally died today. A major supporter in the Senate is now against the project, and it appears that the issue won’t be brought up this session.

  4. Great news for the cycle track on Westlake progressing forward, it’ll beat riding the parking lot everyday for sure. Although I hope it doesn’t get neutered, shrivel up and die in committee.

    Now if the darn Missing Link could push through too, I’d be a happy camper.

  5. Speaking of the Pike/Pine stuff, there’s Bell Street (recently fully open after its renovation), which is is much less standard and more precious version of a similar concept. To me, Bell Street doesn’t look any more full or vibrant, it just had some (sometimes silly) design work poured in. I really think, given all the new bike racks and direct connections to other important routes, they should consider converting it to two-way bike traffic, thus making it a focal street for navigating Belltown for that mode (this probably doesn’t even require a center-line in the rebuilt one-lane blocks, but would certainly require one elsewhere, and some traffic signal work might be needed). And for Pike/Pine, as well, if both streets remain one-way through downtown, one of them should gain the ability to bike contraflow by one means or another.

    1. Interesting idea for Bikes. I agree about Bell Street. It needs more activity and honestly I think it’s only going to be solved over time if new buildings open up to the street rather than primarily face the Avenues.

    2. Belltown has a number of shady characters, especially at night. Previously, walking down Bell Street meant that you had to risk bumping shoulders with one of those characters. Now, because the pedestrian part of the street is so wide, it’s trivial to walk in a direction that avoids contact with anyone you don’t want to have contact with.

      I think this improvement is worth the cost of the project. And I think that activity will fill in over time.

      1. Don’t forget the drastically improved lighting. The fact that the lights on the block between 1st and 2nd were knocked out by a clear act of sabotage last month shows that those “shady characters” are not fond of the new lights.

        And let’s see what Bell Street looks like this summer when people actually want to be outside.

    3. fully open after its renovation

      Yeah, I wish.

      […he writes, from a bus still on absurdly long-term reroute around a block that never seems to have anyone working to complete it.]

      1. Yes, what is the long-term plan for bus routing on Bell St? The inbound 26, 28 and 40 have been on a time-consuming, out-of-direction detour for many months, that may become permanent. The “new” Bell Street doesn’t appear suited for Metro bus. Was Metro consulted during this redesign? Is there any plan for a speedier re-route?

      2. Doesn’t the post-tunnel revision to Aurora include blocking off the last block of Dexter just south of Denny anyway, meaning that this routing won’t continue?

      3. The post-tunnel revision to Aurora will close the connection between SB Aurora and SB Dexter/7th. I don’t think any buses use that. Buses coming south down Aurora are in the far right lanes to let people off near-side at Denny, and continue downtown using Wall and 3rd. The reroute is for buses coming from Dexter, which ordinarily would take 7th to Bell to 3rd, but now go 7th to Bell to 6th to Wall to 3rd.

      4. @Chad: the Belltown Community Council has followed the Bell Street project closely. From what we were told by the Parks project manager, Metro was very involved in the planning (as well as the Fire Department, due to their special traffic arrangement for Fire Station 2). The original designe was changed to provide a dedicated travel lane of sufficient width for buses and fire trucks. My understanding is that those routes will return to Bell St once the last block finally reopens, which is supposed to be very soon.

      5. Is that redesign responsible for essentially nixing all the greenery that was supposed to be present on Bell?

        I used to live on Bell. We were promised a park. I’m glad I moved out before I was given a concrete zigzag.

      6. @Kyle: A street (even a pedestrian street!) is very different from a park. That said, the greenery you were promised just ain’t yet grown. By the density of little trees planted, it looks like Bell Street will in time have as much tree mass as any urban street you can think of.

  6. There’s been talk of that Convention Center expansion for at least 4 years now. Hopefully it’ll actually come together.

    1. I think buying land makes it real. But I’m sure there will be many more years until shovels hit dirt.

    2. I was disappointed that the state didn’t go ahead with the Convention Center expansion in 2008, because the new bookings would recoup the entire construction cost in just a few years, and all further income would be a perpetual benefit to the state.

      It’s only five years until buses are evicted from the DSTT, if not sooner. So that would be around the time any construction project would get underway anyway.

      1. Convention centers feel a bit like stadia in their terrible effect on cities. But I’m hopeful this could be done well. Our current convention center is one of the better ones I’ve seen – it keeps the street grid, has retail on the street, and even lids the freeway. There’s potential for another lid of the freeway at the new site as well. If we lose the street grid I’ll be upset as well, but I can imagine ways this can help the area rather than hurt it.

        Economically, the difference between a stadium and a convention center is that the stadium generally just pulls money from around the area, whereas the convention center pulls people in from the entire country (or world) to populate our hotels, shops, and sidewalks. That’s a strong positive in my mind.

      2. Mega-events of the sort that would require an ounce of expansion are few and far between. All that expansion capital, all that urban opportunity cost, and the presumption of a vastly expanded marketing budget to compete against Chicago and Las Vegas almost guarantee this amount to a net loss.

        Heeding the convention bureau’s invocation of this as a “need” would be like listening to asphalt makers’ assessment of highway projects.

      3. At least one show has huge demand to grow into the new space, but can’t grow without leaving Seattle: PAX Prime. Current estimates put “sell-out” attendance at about 90k, but demand at over 300k (based on tickets selling out in less than one hour last year). Also, for the many shows that wouldn’t use the whole center, multiple shows could be running concurrently with the second building in place.

      4. Yeah, nothing happened in 2008 that might have limited the viability of a convention center. Nothing at all.

      5. ” Our current convention center is one of the better ones I’ve seen – it keeps the street grid, has retail on the street, and even lids the freeway”

        In contrast to the Santa Clara Convention Center.

        The roads in front and on the left are 6-lane boulevards, which is typical for the area it’s in. The tall buildings are hotels. The closest thing to walk to is an IHOP over a mile away. Forget about supermarkets or apartments or houses; you’ll have to commute to them. Fortunately there’s a light rail station nearby, and a pair of half-hourly buses (hourly Sunday and evenings).

        “nothing happened in 2008 that might have limited the viability of a convention center.”

        There’s the general fact that the economy is bad, and then there’s the specific fact of how many conventions the center is currently (post-crash) turning away due to lack of space. My understanding is that it’s a lot. It doesn’t have to become as large as Las Vegas and attract the largest conferences to be worthwhile. It just has to attract somewhat larger conferences, and more smaller simultaneous conferences. That would be a net gain in the state’s budget.

      6. Your understanding is wrong, and informed only by the whinings of the very administrators who would see their purview expand. It’s bullshit, with a capitol “BULLSHIT”. It’s like expanding NSA powers based only on the constitutional analysis of these guys.

        Again, the increase in marketing budget alone, to draw a handful of mega-conventions away from the likes of Chicago, would likely negate the benefits of those conventions.

        The cost of building this expansion, plus the opportunity costs of permanently gumming up three more square blocks of the downtown-Capitol Hill connective pedestrian corridor for a handful of events each year that can’t currently be accommodated, renders this proposal unconscionable.

      7. Does the size of the convention center really bother you? What bothers me is the empty overpasses over I-5, the express-lanes entrance at 9th & Pike, and the sea of soulless buildings between Union Street and Yesler Way. The Convention Center has never bothered me. That minor street off Pike bothers me a little but not much. Sometimes I go into the Convention Center and up the escalators and through Freeway Park on my way to the library or lower downtown. That doesn’t bother me. The concrete design in Freeway Park and its inhumanly-scaled benches bother me somewhat, but it’s nothing compared to the other things that bother me.

      8. It bothers me that convention center ambitions — here as everywhere — are heavily subsidized by the public, under the nebulous justification of increasing the tourist-tax base. Figures are fudged, corollary economic activities erroneously credited to spike-events that, in actuality, merely max out hotel capacity and supplant the (less volatile and more evenly-spread) dollars of everyday tourists and business travelers. Megacorporate hotel chains and establishments physically attached to the convention center win; all other businesses and the city as a whole lose.

        And all because trend-following bureaucrats treat convention centers as part of the same civic penis-measuring contest as they do sports palaces and billion dollar subway stations. It’s terrible urban stewardship.

        This is the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. It cost $850 million to build, in an as-yet poorly redeveloped former railyard district. Any number of service taxes were hiked in perpetuity in order to pay for it. It hosts roughly one dozen events per year that would have been too large to fit in the older Hynes Convention Center (also on a former railyard, but centrally located and now fully integrated into its surroundings). And contrary to its mission, it has failed to replace the Hynes on any level, because smaller events — lower profile but exponentially greater in number — actually prefer an intimate and easily customizable space.

        The mega-convention center has been a drain, any way you slice it. The area around it has failed to redevelop, and only a single adjacent hotel has opened — would you open a hotel for only 12 days of peak demand annually? Now the T has been forced to expend resources on a ridiculous-on-its-face DMU proposal that will, again, likely only be worth running 12 times a year.

        The Seattle proposal isn’t in the middle of nowhere, but its justification is equally specious. And twilight-lit first-draft images (lidding/supplanting Convention Place Station, but not one inch of the freeway, and conveniently omitting the street-killing pedestrian bridges that you know they’ll start working in later) can’t mask that this corridor would be better served by any new thing that would draw full-time activity, which means not this.

      9. It’s worth noting that Hynes is not small by any measure; togther with the many hotels which are attached to it, it hosts events that most cities would consider enormous. I’m surprised there are any events too large to host in Hynes — we don’t have World Exhibitions any more.

      10. Correct, Nathanael.

        And the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle has, in its present form, a thousands-greater capacity than the Hynes.

        Seattle “needs” the further downtown-gobbling advocated by self-interested types at the convention bureau like George Zimmerman needs more guns.

  7. I love DSA’s Pike-Pine plan. The ‘deep’ layer of street design (ROW allocation) in the report calls for: pedestrian priority, return to two-way streets, lower speed limits, raised crosswalks, widened sidewalks, fully implementing both the Bicycle Master Plan and the Center City Connector, and fully implementing bike share. A couple quotes I like:

    “After several decades of enduring hazardous, machine-dominated streets…[let’s] boldly reclaim our streets as places for local, daily life.”

    “Differentiate hill streets from avenues. Make hill streets easier to walk, and strengthen the avenues’ grandeur while slowing them down.”

    1. Regarding the DSA Pike-Pine plan, there are a lot of great things in it (I like the “Light Layer” and alley improvement concepts) but hopefully they will not be reducing total sidewalk area with plantings and furniture causing crowding and obstacles to the handicapped. Hopefully there will be a viable protected lane for cyclists on every street in the design area so that there is no temptation for bikes to compete with pedestrians on the sidewalks. Interesting that the one thing that would make our downtown vastly more liveable, eliminating all private vehicle traffic from at least one of the avenues is scarcely mentioned. I guess there will someday be the transit mall that we desperately need, obviously when tunnel buses must surface. My visiting friend from Italy thought to book a downtown hotel in May. I advised her to stay in a neighborhood B&B on the C Line instead. What is there downtown (other than maybe the waterfront area) to make a tourist want to stay in a hotel there and hang around, especially after 9:00 pm? Seattle is long overdue for a liveability makeover, so kudos to DSA for finally coming up with a plan.

  8. Last week there were some questions about van shuttle services in Ballard that operated in the past. I know of 2 projects that were tried in the 1990s: LINC (Local Initiative for Neighborhood Circulation) was a pilot project that operated May – October 1995 and the Route 600 Zoo to Golden Gardens Shuttle that ran May to September 1997.

    In the summer of 1995 there were 4, free LINC routes and they were centered on Bergen Place in downtown Ballard. Route 805 was a clockwise loop that left Bergen Place and roughly ran NW 59th St. > 34th Ave NW > NW 65th St > 14th Ave NW and back to Bergen Place. Route 806 ran the same route in a counter-clockwise loop. Vans ran daily every 30 minutes from 9am-7pm and there were no posted stops. The service was advertised as being “hop-on, hop-off” and it was free.

    There also were 2 flex routes (807, 808) that allowed riders to choose their drop-off point on the outbound trip from Bergen Place, but the return trips followed a fixed path. Outbound, route 807 WEST BALLARD served any destination the area bounded by Market Street, 32nd Ave NW, NW 70th St and 24th Ave NW but the inbound trip followed 28th Ave NW to NW 57th St to Bergen Place.
    Outbound, route 808 EAST BALLARD served the area bounded by 24th Ave NW, NW 70th St, 15th Ave NW and Leary Way. Inbound, the 808 operated on NW 20th St. Routes 807 and 808 operated daily between 9am and 7pm at 20 minute headways.

    In the summer of 1997 Metro provided Route 600, a van shuttle between Golden Gardens and Woodland Park Zoo. The vans ran daily at 30 minute headways starting at 1100am and ending at 617pm (Sunday – Thursday) or 1017pm (Friday and Saturday). Route 600 ran from Golden Gardens > NW 24th Ave > NW 65th St > Phinney Ave N to the Zoo. Standard Metro fares (85 cents off-peak, $1.10 peak) were charged and the van only stopped at designated bus zones. There still are a few faded curb markings along NW 65th St where route 600 zones used to exist.

    1. I can’t recall when exactly they started/ended, but those routes were replaced by the 47, followed by the 86. The 47 ran in a loop along 8th Ave NW (I believe? It may have been further west), NW 65th, Phinney Ave N, Fremont Ave N, and Leary Way. The 86 operated more or less the same loop, but continued to Ballard and Golden Gardens.

      (Oddly, I believe the 47 followed the 5 between Phinney and Fremont, but the 86 used N 46th St.)

      1. Wow, I forgot about the 47, but I found a schedule from summer 1998 with the 47! It was a daily route (10am – 630pm) that originated in downtown Fremont. The clockwise loop left Fremont and followed the current 40’s route to NW 65th St, then to 65th & Phinney following most of the 5’s route (no turn to Aurora, just straight down the hill.) There was another van that ran the same route in the counter-clockwise direction. Headways were 40 minutes in each direction and standard Metro fares were required.

        I don’t remember an 86 route, but there was van shuttle service on weekends between Ballard and Golden Gardens in the summer of 1998. Weekdays the 46 ran between GG and the U District (hourly middays/more frequently during peak hours) using standard Metro coaches. On weekends the 46 was a van shuttle between GG and downtown Ballard every 40 minutes.

      2. My description of the 47 route is confusing. From Fremont it followed the current 40’s route to 65th & 24th NW. Then via 65th Street to Phinney where it followed the 5’s route back to Fremont & 40th, then straight down the hill to downtown Fremont.

      3. Wonderful! Not sure why I thought the 47 only went to 8th.

        Digging through Metro’s service change archives, it looks like the 86 ran from June ’99 through the dreaded February 2000 cuts. (7 days a week June-Sep, 5 days Sep-Feb.) I don’t have a map available, but I’m pretty sure it was identical to the 47 except for running on 46th instead of 43rd in Fremont, and the added tail to Golden Gardens.

      4. I lived in Fremont in the late ’90s and remember well the clockwise and counter-clockwise 86 runs to Ballard. Best part was the fast service between both neighborhoods along Leary Way, now again possible with the 40. I also remember that in 1980 there was a Metro route that would serve the city’s major parks, hop on/off type. And the 43 (now 44) would go to all the way to Golden Gardens.

  9. I’ve just thought up a new idea I would like to see implemented. People must attend a class and pass a test and be issued a license to be able to ride public transit. The will, among other things, be trained in proper passenger etiquette. Perhaps everyone need not take this class, just people who have been arrested by transit police for etiquette violations. I thought up this idea the other day after seeing a woman get on the bus with her emotional support dog, and she left a lot of slack in the leash, allowing her wet dog to wander around the front part of the bus, rubbing up against other passengers who were clearly annoyed and disgusted. Two passengers even got up and moved to the middle of the bus to get away from her dog! The entire time, she was sitting in a front seat, looking for money to pay her bus fare. I’d say it took her a good 5 minutes to gather-up the $2.25. After the two passengers moved, she was still searching for her fare, her dog was standing in the middle of the isle! So as the bus continued on its route and stopped to let people on, she did not move her dog out of the way of boarding passengers! After she paid her fare, she continued to sit in the same front seat, not moving her dog out of the way. I even took a picture of this rude and disgraceful event from my seat near the back of the bus. Something has to be done before it’s too late.

    1. Could be worse, Sam. May be an urban legend, but I recall an incident where a “service-pot-bellied-pig” got loose on an airliner in flight. But more powerful (in spades!) memory from driving days is when whatever his poor dog smelled like could not be ascertained by existing instruments because the owner smelled so bad.

      If evolution had permitted a wolf-descended creature to hold its nose, the dog would have been walking on three legs. Had I known dog language, I would have told him the animal he was welcome to stay if he’d tell his owner to get off the bus.

      So I propose that transit personnel be encouraged to learn at least dog and ferret languages to keep their owners under control. Threat of getting bitten for disobedience is a lot more of a deterrent than just a citation.


      1. Community Transit requires that dogs wear muzzles. I also remember reading that Metro requires that fare be paid for a dog not being carried, but I have never seen that happen.

    1. Using police to clear homeless people off transit could rapidly consume law enforcement like a California brushfire, due to fact that any male over 40 who is not happily married is in fact visibly a form of a homeless person.

      Full time transit driving is notoriously hard on the married and otherwise normal. Main problem for transit is that after the driver gets removed to a shelter or hospital, who’s going to the risk similar removal by getting in the seat to move the bus or train?

      But luckily pathogens create their own antibodies, Sam. You’ve finally discovered a cure for yourself: the idea for a link where humanity can fight back against every piece of law-enforcement you come up with directed against the poor and the powerless. With virtual keyboard for either paw or wet, furry nose. Great that the Internet is now good for something besides cat videos.


  10. Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act, Amtrak Funding, Grade Crossing Funding, and Freight Train Crew Size are among Key Rail Topics in Washington DC right now:

    Notable PRIIA and Amtrak funding quote from the article:
    “It is not reasonable to expect Amtrak to be able to plan, build and maintain adequate infrastructure that provides optimal transportation mobility and connectivity when there is so much uncertainty regarding what its capital and operating funding will be from one year to the next,” – American Association of Railroads president Ed Hamberger. The fact that someone at AAR is actually issuing pro-Amtrak funding statements is a positive step.

    1. The fact that someone at AAR is actually issuing pro-Amtrak funding statements is a positive step.

      That’s actually a monumental step. I think the freight roads have seen the benefit of using government funding to improve their infrastructure to accommodate Amtrak trains.

      1. That is quite extraordinary and a very good sign.

        So, in order, we’ve had BNSF’s CEO say (paraphrasing “Why not maintain our tracks so that passenger trains can run at speed? It gets us a lot of good publicity and costs relatively little” (over 10 years ago now), NS’s CEO suggest that government-run passenger railroads should own the infrastructure and freights be the tenants, UP start dispatching Amtrak on schedule, CN start dispatching Amtrak on schedule, and now AAR actually start advocating for Amtrak to get a consistent funding stream.

        I wonder whether the old “anti-passenger” generation of freight railroaders is simply going away.

  11. I think Washington state made the right choice not to privatized WSF. I think the solution for BC Ferries is going public.

    1. To be fair to de Blasio, he wasn’t driving. Have you ever been in a car driven by someone else who started driving recklessly? I have.

      The big question is whether his driver has been fired.

  12. I rode the E a couple of times this week and am very unimpressed. About 2 years ago the 358 was always 20 minutes late and there’d be four of them in 4 minutes bunched. Then they started tightening the 358 up. Then it started running on a more Rapidride E schedule (waiting if it gets ahead of schedule). It got down to only being 7-8 minutes late when I come home from work. My Rapidride E was 20 minutes late and there were 4 within 4 minutes and it took at least as long to get home as the 358. Some things never change.

    Metro got new buses with new paint. That’s pretty much all it is. People still pay in pennies, they still don’t hop on the through the back doors, the drivers seem like they’re out for a Sunday drive. I was really hoping that Metro’s “BRT” would actually be better than a ratty old bus.

  13. I read the Pike-Pine plan, and while there are many things I liked about it, I noticed that the sidewalks that are ostensibly pedestrian friendly seem to be very narrow.

    I live and work downtown and walk those same streets now. People often stroll two abreast, and it makes walking quickly frustrating when the sidewalks are built with planters and signboards taking up over half of the available space.

    I am all for encouraging the space to be pleasant, and street life in general, but reducing the space for foot traffic is not the best way of doing things.

    1. Here, here…. the annoyance of planting wells and other obstacles on our current sidewalks (something to try to get around or to trip over) far outweighs

      1. ….their convenience and aesthetic value. (pushed the button too soon). The plan should make sure there is plenty of room for the primary purpose of sidewalks, serving the pedestrian transportation mode for both the abled and disabled. In the current environment, I bike (carefully) on the sidewalks downtown for safety reasons, but would like to have equally convenient, safe and separated bike and pedestrian options downtown.

  14. Even in East Iowa…

    A 2012 report by the Iowa Finance Authority found that young adults between the ages of 25 and 34 formed more new households in Iowa than any other age group in the decade. But they aren’t buying new houses – the majority of them are renting.

    “This is a generation that’s moving into apartments,” Culkin said. “This is a phenomenon that is going to continue to increase.”

    Renters can move more around freely, which may be necessary to deal with today’s challenging job market.

    “There will always be people who will buy homes,” he said. “But apartment living is no longer an economic necessity – more and more it’s becoming a choice.”

    A search of Apartments.com, a national apartment data base, show that rents for a two bedroom apartment in Cedar Rapids are from $655 to $925; Iowa City rents range from $680 to $1,100; Des Moines rents range from $620 to 1,500; and West Des Moines rents from $670 to $1,100.


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