124 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Promoting Mass Transit in LA”

  1. They seem genuinely proud of their accomplishments without identifying if they are bus, BRT or rail fanatics like some cities do.
    I wonder if they look at the job to be done, then choose the right technology to get the best outcome?

    1. What are the outcomes you want to see for the transit system here, mic? The only measuring stick I’ve seen you advocate is for them to have less revenue and spend less money.

      1. You’ve not been doing your homework then.
        I’ve consistently advocated for fewer SOV trips and more Transit trips. A good measurement of overall success would be in ‘Mode Share’ for each. My disappointment with our outcome to date is we’re stuck at about where we were 20 years ago in the overall category, but have made substantial improvements in peak only trips, and Seattle is rightfully proud to have increased transit usage to the CBD to about half of all trips, keeping in mind they constitute a very tiny slice of the overall pie. Completion of LINK will improve upon the peak only numbers, but not do much for transit providing about 5% of all trips in the region.
        Likewise, our collective costs for a ‘Linked Transit Trip’ have been going up 3 times the rate of inflation for the last 20 years, and looking to transit agency planning documents holds little in the way of relief after ST2 is completed. Transit’s competition is the automobile. It’s not winning the race. As a matter of fact, it is losing quite badly, which is a huge concern with me and my first paragraph.
        There. Are we clear?

      2. Do you think cutting Metro service will help increase Metro’s modeshare? or ST+Metro’s modeshare?

      3. Brent’s question goes unanswered. Admittedly I haven’t made a careful study of all your comments, but the primary focus of your advocacy seems to be that Metro should get less money to punish them for being too expensive. Now you’re saying your priority is to improve transit’s modeshare. Since these obviously don’t go together, which is it?

      4. A couple of days ago, Brent reported that Metro’s official policy is to let every RapidRide E driver do whatever they want with the zone settings and payment policy.
        This on a “flagship” service that had been in the works for 8 years and was supposed to exist as part of a systemic game changer.

        A week before, Metro announced that they were removing frequency on a major route in favor of more schedule padding. Three of my most-used routes (the 40, 44, and D) are now so padded that the talented drivers can wind up 5-7 minutes ahead. Other drivers manage to be 15 minutes late (routinely) on these very same streets, and yet Metro wields precisely zero consequence for poor performance.

        The mistakes that cost us worthwhile and increasingly desirable transit pervade every aspect of Metro’s route system, its contracts, its operational culture. LA Metro used to be the same way: Oran’s video is the “after”; what we have here is the “before”.

        (And we haven’t even discussed Mic’s legitimate criticism about ST, an agency prone to back-patting itself for the worst-designed — i.e. least effective, who gives a shit if they’re pretty? — subways ever laid.)

        Nobody thinks a massive Metro cutback would be fun. But if Metro can’t get its act together after two new sales taxes, multiple emergency cash infusions, and doubling the fare, then it is perfectly legitimate to wonder if immediate shock therapy isn’t an advisable next step.

      5. I’ve never said Metro should get less money. Find it and post it if you can!
        Now, should it keep on the trajectory of having it’s cost rise 3x faster than inflation for the past 20 years. Most economist will tell you that’s not a sustainable business model. I agree, and something should be done to change that.
        Agreeing with new funding sources, and higher tax rates, while services remain flat is akin to negotiating with a gun at your head.
        I’ve seen lots of good cost cutting measures go down in flames because they were politically distasteful to some. Others are just more feather bedding by outdated work rules, and trappings of large bureaucracies. I’m not in favor of creating another transit district, on top of the 3 we have in King County, just to be able to bump the tax rate up. I am in favor of keeping MT and ST seperate, and convincing Olympia they need higher tax authority than they do now. They never made the case to convince enough legislators they really needed it. So here we are, hands out, and begging for more… again to keep the status quo. That’s not good enough.
        It’s a good discussion today on how transit in general, in this area needs to move forward, as LA seems to have their shit together for a change.
        As transit is heavily subsidized, increasing mode share with more service is problematic when Metro is constantly trying to keep what they have, instead of adding services.

      6. mic,

        Your analysis raise more questions than it answers. I’ll try to keep it simple.

        1) How do you plan to vote on the ballot proposition on April 22?
        2) Would you be less troubled by the sales tax and car tab increase if the county had the authority to do this directly, rather than creating the Transportation Benefit District?
        3) Which revenue increases for Metro would you support if the state gave the county such direct authority?
        4) When you talk about service, are you talking just about hours, or are you also considering quality? If speeding up a route results in just as many runs, but using fewer service hours, is that really a problem?

  2. I encourage everyone to watch the post video because if you learn just one thing from it, it’s that I am a genius. At 1:52 into the video some woman who works for L.A.’s transit agency starts yappin’ about their Problem/Solution marketing campaign. Hmmm. Problems and solutions. Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, I said it one week ago in the More Duplexes comment section. I said: This isn’t a blog about transit, “It’s blog about problems and solutions.”

    So call me a troll all you want. But I am sitting here with a smug, self-satisfied smirk on my face because I’ve been proven right once again.

    1. Check out “Ubik” by Philip K Dick. It has a man who becomes everywhere and in everything, essentially the most important person in the universe. You may be able to identify with him. It also features a “reality maintaining” aerosol spray, and a kind of anti-evolution where objects devolve into their ancestral techologies.

    2. O Great Sam, what’s it like to have such a large ego? Do you have trouble with fitting your head through doors? Do you ever get embarrassed that while you act so über, in reality you might not be quite so über in every respect?

      Why is Martin the Editor-in-Chief rather than you? Did you delegate mundane tasks to him because you have loftier things to do? Is he a puppet leader like Medyedev was when Putin took a one-term break from the presidency to give token respect to the constitution?

  3. Do any of you think it would make sense to have a single I-5 corridor Sound Transit route for late evenings and nights? For example, instead of running the 594, 574, and the 512 separately late into the night, have just a single route that maybe goes like this:

    Lakewood TC
    SR 512 P&R
    Downtown Tacoma
    Federal Way TC
    Star Lake P&R
    Kent-Des Moines road
    SeaTac Airport loop (counterclockwise loop around 518, airport terminal, then SR99 northbound)
    Downtown Seattle
    NE 45th freeway station
    NE 145th freeway station
    Mountlake Terrace freeway station
    Lynnwood TC
    Alderwood Mall
    Ash Way P&R
    South Everett freeway station
    Everett Sounder Station

    This way, all of the demand for late night (and/or night-owl) express service on I-5 can be efficiently aggregated into a single route, and those that commute late night from long distances (Lynnwood to Des Moines, for example) can have their trip simplified. It would also get people from the airport to downtown quickly after link stops running. And because traffic on 5 is mostly a non-issue so late at night, this kind of route (which would normally be horribly unpredictable because of its length) would probably run reasonably reliably, despite how many stops it makes and how long it is.

    1. From a rider standpoint, I’d expect such a route to end up abysmally late on a regular basis, even without traffic. The per capita rider incident rate would likely go up on a long warmmobile. If there are a significant number of riders trying to get between locations north of downtown and south of downtown, it might make some sense, but they would have to outnumber the number of passengers wanting a dependably on-time connection within the north subset of locations and the south subset of locations.

      A middle ground might be to build in catch-up time all along the route, as Metro has done to some of its routes. Sure, it is annoying, but it beats waiting out in the cold and rain for another bus you don’t know whether it is coming or not.

      Getting here from there would be pricey. The 574 already has a coverage gap between 10 pm and 2 am. Don’t ask me my it is those hours. The 512 shuts down between midnight and 5:30 am. Link shutting down between 12:30 am and 4:30 am creates multiple challenges to having a legible overnight service pattern. The route would take nearly two and a half hours end-to-end.

      The opportunity cost might be slowing down Link construction through south King County, Pierce County, and Snohomish County, unless we come up with an additional funding source. If Link is capable of eventual 24-hour service (which I’m not sure it is), then getting Link built faster would be the answer.

      1. Since link presumably can never support 24 hour service because of maintenance, does that mean that no light rail anywhere can operate 24 hours?

        Maybe this problem can be solved by bringing the frequency at night to low enough levels that portions of the track could only operate on one side, which would handle both directions, while the other side would be receiving maintenance. This might work if link goes down to half hourly at night, and the track is broken into four sections, with each getting their turn for maintaince each night.

      2. ST’s long-term plan envisions 24-hour Link, to Tacoma and Everett. There are no concrete plans for funding it, just an expectation that it might be worthwhile in twenty or thirty years.

        Of course it would have to be interrupted periodically for maintenance, as the NYC subway is, but a shuttle-bus replacement on some nights is better than no service any night.

      3. One of the reasons the NYC subway runs 24 hrs is because the lines are so long. The A train takes about 2 hours to go end to end when running local. If the last train left Inwood at 2 AM it wouldn’t get to Far Rockaway until 4, and resuming service at 5 would mean no service until 7… 24 hour service is a necessity.

        If Link ran from Tacoma to Everett (or further) I wonder how long the trip would be. It does seem like 24 hour service in this case would be necessary also.

      4. Remember that link is SLOW in comparison to unobstructed I-5 lanes. I think link has a top speed of 50 miles per hour on long stretches of straight track, but curved track slows it down (and obviously stations). When it does get to federal way, it will be hard to move away from the 577/578. I’m pretty sure that if the 577/578 are canceled when link reaches Federal Way, then FW to Seattle travel time will at least double.

        So Tacoma to Everett is going to be bad. 24 hour service would be necessary.

    2. I agree with Brent – I like the idea, but my biggest concern here is reliability. People traveling between downtown and Lynnwood would strongly and rightly object to having a 20+ minute unscheduled wait for the bus due to traffic all the way back in Tacoma (which would likely happen whenever there’s a large event at Tacoma Dome).

      Better would be to focus on consolidating off-peak Seattle->Tacoma service from three routes to two. The 594 would go Downtown Tacoma->Tacoma Done->Federal Way->Downtown Seattle. Most days, it would use the 578’s pathway into downtown to make up the time lost by the Federal Way stop. However, selected trips around Mariners, Seahawks, and Sounders games would continue to serve the stadiums via the SODO busway, just like today. The driver would also be given the discretion to check the traffic report and reroute the bus from I-5 to SODO busway (without stops) on occasions when traffic on I-5 through the area is unusually bad.

      The 574, meanwhile, would go Lakewood->Tacoma Dome->SeaTac airport. The new 574 would be much faster than the current 574 by serving fewer stops. The idea is that anyone traveling between Federal Way and SeaTac would take the A-line and anyone traveling between Federal Way and Tacoma would take the new 594 – hence the 574 doesn’t need to stop there anymore.

      594 riders between Tacoma and Seattle would see one extra stop, but in exchange, they would get significant improvements in frequency, along with more reliable service (I-5 between Lakewood and Tacoma is notorious congested at all hours of the day and lacks HOV lanes). Riders from Lakewood would have to make a 574->594 transfer. However, with the improved frequency of both lines (especially the 594), the transfer would be less of a big deal and the time overhead of the transfer would be largely made up by being able to bypass downtown Tacoma and take I-5 straight to Tacoma Dome Station.

      Under my plan, there would be a couple of freeway stations along I-5 that would lose off-peak coverage entirely (Star Lake P&R, Kent DeMoines road). But there is really no need for these places to have off-peak coverage in the first place. The only thing that is there is a deserted parking lot. Drivers who want to be able to return to their car in the middle of the day have an easy solution – just drive to a different P&R lot instead, such as Federal Way TC, that has all-day service. Given that the 574 never went to downtown to begin with, most drivers are probably already doing this anyway.

      1. Interesting. That might work, but the demand for Federal Way – Seattle direct service warrants its own route, even in the off-peak, but probably not late at night (hence, it runs every 30 minutes off peak, 7 days a week).

        I like the 574 the way it is, though. It’s nice having a direct connection to Lakewood from Federal Way without having to wade through a sea of slow PT service. And cutting the two freeway stations out of the picture would not save that much time, because the bus stops are built right into the freeway exits. And to tell you the truth, the 574 is much, MUCH faster than the slow slow A-line.

    3. I’m not sure that a single route would be ideal. You still have to exit the freeway in downtown Seattle, because that’s where most riders will be coming from or going to. And as Brent says, there’s the potential for major delays.

      I think there’s a stronger argument for merging just the 574 and the 594 during low-use times, just like Sound Transit has already done with the 512. There’s one tricky part, which is that serving the airport represents a major diversion that is only going to benefit a handful of riders. I think it makes sense to serve the airport late at night or early in the morning, when Link isn’t necessarily running. The rest of the time, I’d rather see the bus exit at Angle Lake (once the Link station opens), so that riders can transfer to Link to get to the airport.

      Until that happens, I think it will be a hard sell to merge the 574 and the 594. Given the choice of waiting 30 minutes for a bus, or waiting 15 minutes for a bus that will take a 15+ minute deviation to the airport, I think a lot of people will choose the former. So the merger is only worthwhile if it can turn a 60-minute wait into a 30-minute wait, or if it can provide service during periods that currently have none.

      I think the more pressing change is to reorganize the 577/578/594. Right now, the 594 doesn’t stop at Federal Way TC, even though it would only add a minute or two to the schedule. Adding this stop would make it possible to change the 577 to only run during peak, and to change the 578 to bypass Federal Way entirely. Instead, the 578 would be rerouted along SR-167 to serve Kent before hitting Auburn, with a stop at Southcenter along the way. This new bus would take 90% of the ridership of today’s Route 150, which would make it much easier for Metro to truncate the 150 at Rainier Beach Station. That saves everyone money, and yet doesn’t leave anybody worse off, unless you count the fact that off-peak trips to/from Tacoma or Auburn will be ever so slightly longer than they are today.

      1. I, too, am hoping for a 574/578/594 reorg soon after Angle Lake Station opens.

        But we can’t downplay the impact of adding stops at Kent/Des Moines P&R, Star Lake P&R, and Federal Way TC have on a route. Star Lake does actually have apartment neighborhoods within its walkshed. Kent/Des Moines has Highline Community College within its walkshed (though it is an admittedly miserable and scary walk). Adding these stops to the 594 would add ridership to the route, and improve connectivity for the folks living around those stops.

        Subtracting these stops from the 574 would have minimal impact, except for those who “need” it to avoid paying for parking at the airport. The number of passengers getting on and off at these two stops is really small. If they work at the airport and need free parking, then the Port, not ST, has the cheapest solution to that problem within their grasp.

        The impact on travel time can vary with traffic, but is usually not more than a minute per stop at the P&Rs, but only off peak. The stop at Federal Way TC takes a few minutes, even with no traffic and few boardings.

        What is holding up ST from doing this is that the planners do not see what the problem is that we are trying to solve. One of them told me as much at one of the open houses in Federal Way.

      2. Ideally, the benefits of consolidating route 577 and 594 would include improved 594 frequency on evenings and weekends (15-20 minutes vs. 30 minutes) and the introduction of real express service to Kent during the large majority of the day when Sounder isn’t running.

        Unfortunately, though, unless a Southcenter freeway station gets built, serving it with a Kent express bus would be a huge time sink that would render the service only marginally faster than the 150. Given that the new 578 would probably not be nearly as frequent as the 150, most riders would probably just hop on the 150 if they see it coming first. Instead, I would rather see the modified 578 express nonstop from Kent to downtown – if you’re going to have an faster, but less frequent alternative to the 150, it has to be fast enough to make it worth waiting for.

        For intermediate trips (e.g. Kent to Southcenter, Southcenter to Seattle), the new 578 would not be necesary – that can remain the job of the 150.

      3. The 574 actually does have quite a bit of traffic due to the TSA workers starting early in the am. The real problem with the above route is which agency would operate it? It’s a long ways to deadhead a bus from Everett to Lakewood (or vice versa which is where the ct and pt are based) back to base. So not the most efficient way.

      4. Given that Sound Transit chooses to spend the money for half-hourly frequency at 2:30 in the morning, I kind of assumed this was the case. They wouldn’t do it if those trips weren’t getting riders.

      5. Why truncate the 150 at all? It’s not a very good Kent-Seattle “express” route (nor does it claim to be), but it is a good Kent-Tukwila local route, Tukwila-SODO express, and a DODO-Downtown local route all rolled up into one (like PT trunk routes).

      6. Alex: Cost. I consistently advocate that Metro restructure service to avoid redundancy, because redundancy wastes service hours that could otherwise be used to improve frequency, span, or coverage. The 43 is the route I love to hate, since it has not one unique stop on its entire route.

        The 150 is also redundant, since the long I-5 segment largely runs parallel to Link. I wouldn’t really mind if it were a Sound Transit route, since ST is in the business of running regional expresses. But it seems like a tell shame that so many buses in Kent and Renton run at 30 minute frequency, when the 101 and 150 burn so many service hours running back and forth to downtown.

        I think the argument for changing the 101 is stronger than the argument for changing the 150. The 101 is a half hourly route; a combined 101/169 from Rainier Beach Station to Kent could run every 15 minutes, and existing 169 riders would still have a two-seat ride to downtown.

        But still, in any other city, there just wouldn’t be so many buses running parallel to a major train line with lots of spare capacity. An express to Kent is nice to have, but is it really better than the network we could otherwise have?

      7. The situation with the 150 is this, and I’ve said this many times:

        Kent Station (and to a lesser extent, Southcenter) is a transfer point for those boarding south and east of Kent.

        These individuals have to transfer at Kent to catch another bus. So let’s say we want to dump all of these individuals off at Rainier Beach Station (RBS) to save a few bucks and let Link take them the rest of the way. So now someone boarding at Maple Valley has to transfer two times, and Link gets stuffed full of people on the two car train because they can’t run with four past Stadium.

        Until we give everyone a one seat ride to Seattle, it’s probably best to leave the 150 alone for now.

        And, the problem with switching the 578 is how are we going to pay for it? I don’t want this to be a Kent vs. Federal Way issue because, quite frankly, the proposal that this forum is making is taking away service from Federal Way and giving it to Kent. The 578 is designed to supplement the 577, and unless you find a pot of gold in the King County South Subarea to pay for the deleted trips, you’re going to anger those living in Federal Way.

      8. These individuals have to transfer at Kent to catch another bus. So let’s say we want to dump all of these individuals off at Rainier Beach Station (RBS) to save a few bucks and let Link take them the rest of the way.

        Move the connection point to Rainier Beach or Tukwila International Blvd. For all the buses that currently terminate at Southcenter, extend them or reroute them to one of those two stations. Likewise for all the buses that currently terminate at Renton TC and/or South Renton P&R.

        I’ve been advocating this since the very beginning. There’s no reason anyone should have to have a three-seat ride to Seattle. Upgrade all those bus-bus connections to bus-train connections. Any other city would have done that ages ago.

      9. My opinion as a Federal Wayan is that trying to cram all those Seattle-bound passengers on one bus per hour is a no-no. I like the current 578 configuration, although somewhat selfishly because I enjoy the very quick ride to Auburn station, but it does make some sense because there is still some demand for Seattle service from Auburn/Sumner/Puyallup off peak, but apparently not enough for a stand-alone route. So one bus an hour from a nearby city makes sense.

        This is also a great deal for Sumner because the 578 is the only off-peak transit service that operates in Sumner at all. The 578 works well as a local connection here, giving otherwise stranded Sumnerites a path to Puyallup and Auburn.

      10. You may have a quick ride to auburn station but on weekends that’s only once per hour, but it’s nice to have for those in Sumner (Puyallup residents are often better served by taking the 402 to Federal Way and transferring there to the ST 577). Also, you have the half hour service to Seattle which is nice. Some people suggest diverting the 578 to serve Kent, which as I’ve stated would hurt you because it would mean service only every hour to Seattle, when I know for a fact you need it every half hour (weekends).

      11. The proposal to move the 578 is paired with adding a Federal Way stop to the 594, to avoid losing Federal Way service. That still seems like overservice in Federal Way, which has the best express connection to downtown in all of south King County even though its off-peak ridership seems to be less than Kent. But it’s a concession to avoid a fight with Federal Way over losing their status quo.

        “I wouldn’t really mind if it were a Sound Transit route, since ST is in the business of running regional expresses.”

        The 150 is not in any way an express from Kent’s perspective, even if it may be from Southcenter’s. The time saved by the freeway segment is eaten up by all the turns and congestion in Southcenter. That’s why people are so frustrated and clamoring for an express.

        The idea of extending all routes that transfer at Kent Station to a Link station is an interesting one. It would probably increase travel time though. Especially for routes going west since KDM Station doesn’t exist yet. The 180 takes 20 minutes to get from Kent to SeaTac Station, and it’s already going pretty fast so it can’t get faster. An ultra-frequent 180 would make it just equal the 150’s travel time. Its current frequency is 30 minutes, which means you can be stuck waiting 20 minutes southbound to transfer, which makes the whole trip 20 minutes slower than the 150.

      12. Here’s an example of what the all-day network could look like if we moved the connection points from Kent and Renton to Link stations. I haven’t run the travel times yet, but as you’ll see, the only riders who will have an extra connection are people who currently live directly on the route of the 101 or the 150. A lot of riders will have to make fewer connections, especially if their origin or destination is somewhere outside of downtown but on Link.

        Note that Sea-Tac Station isn’t the ideal transfer point, since you spend too much time traveling west. For both Kent and Renton, Rainier Beach Station is better. For Kent, the fastest non-freeway route to Link is roughly the 150’s current route, but instead of getting on the freeway, stay on Interurban and use Boeing Access Road. For Renton, just take any of the main arterials.

        Finally, note that this is based on currently available Link infrastructure. I don’t think Angle Lake will be too helpful, because the street grid around 200th leaves something to be desired. Of course, if and when Kent/Des Moines Station opens, things would look a lot differnt.

        Frequent: These are buses that would run every 15 minutes or better, from the start of service until 9:30 PM, 7 days a week.

        106: Downtown Seattle – [Yesler/Jackson] – [MLK] – Rainier Beach Station – [Renton Ave] – Renton TC – [Rainier Ave] – South Renton P&R – [SR-515] – Kent Station

        150: Rainier Beach Station – [Boeing Access Rd] – [Interurban] – Southcenter – [W Valley Hwy] – Kent Station – [Auburn Way] – Auburn Station – SE Auburn

        105/148: Interlined for 15-minute headways on MLK/Sunset between Rainier Beach Station and Renton TC (see below)

        164/168: Interlined for 15-minute headways between Sea-Tac and 104th Av SE/SE 256th St via Kent Station (see below)

        Local: These are buses that would run every 30 minutes or better, from the start of service until 9:30 PM, 7 days a week. Peak headways will depend on capacity needs. They will all have timed outbound connections from a Link station.

        105: Rainier Beach Station – [MLK/Sunset] – Renton TC – [existing route] – Renton Highlands

        107: Rainier Beach Station – [existing route] – Renton TC

        148: Rainier Beach Station – [MLK/Sunset] – Renton TC – South Renton P&R – Fairwood

        156: Southcenter – [existing 156 routing] – Sea-Tac (timed connection point) – [existing 156 routing] – Highline CC – [existing 166 routing] – Kent/Des Moines P&R – [Military Rd] – [existing 183 routing] – Federal Way TC

        164: Sea-Tac Station – [existing 180 routing] – Kent Station – [existing 164 routing] – Green River CC

        166: Tukwila Intl Blvd Station – [S 1564th/156th] – [4th SW] – Burien TC – [S 148th] – [1st S] – [existing 166 routing] – Kent Station

        168: Sea-Tac Station – [existing 180 routing] – Kent Station – [existing 168 routing] – Maple Valley

      13. That proposal would make a great article. I like the 15-minutes full time from Kent Station to two Link stations. I have a couple concerns about the 106.

        Why is 515 paired with Renton Avenue rather than MLK? Renton Avenue is the slow way, and I think anyone coming from 104th would be more interested in speed. 104th has higher ridership than the Renton Highlands or Fairwood, so it seems like they should have the faster route.

        Second, you seem to be assuming that the 8-to-106 shift on MLK will still be on the table if the cuts are superceded. Some of the reorganizations Metro wanted to do anyway, like moving the 2S and splitting the 8. But I’m not sure moving the 106 is in that category, and it’s unlikely Metro would delete the middle part of the 8 except under duress. Likewise I doubt we’d see the 50 turning south on California if it weren’t for the cuts. In any case, I haven’t heard that Metro is considering these changes otherwise. Do you think there’s a good reason to move the 106 anyway? That would contradict Metro’s attempt to build a new corridor in Georgetown. Do you think it has already failed?

      14. Mike,

        Thanks for reading. I was worried this would get lost in the noise. :) I may publish it as an article sooner or later…

        First of all, I realized that there are a few bugs in my proposal, due to misreading of maps, and also due to changes I made while constructing it that had follow-on effects I didn’t really account for. The differences are as follows:

        – The 101 (not 106) runs on MLK/Sunset, all the way from Jackson to Renton TC. (It does not go to South Renton P&R.) From there, it continues east to Renton Highlands along the 105 route. (There is no more 105.) This is a frequent route.

        – The 106 starts at Rainier Beach Station. It runs along Renton Ave, turning south at Rainier Ave S, and heading to South Renton P&R. (It does not go to Renton TC.) From there, it continues south on 515 to Kent. This is a frequent route.

        – The 107 runs along Metro’s proposed reroute from Beacon Hill to Renton, except that once it gets to Renton, it takes the snow route to Rainier Ave S, and heads south to South Renton P&R. (It does not go to Renton TC.) From there, it continues south to Fairwood on the 148 route. (There is no more 148.) This is a local route.

        Why is 515 paired with Renton Avenue rather than MLK? Renton Avenue is the slow way, and I think anyone coming from 104th would be more interested in speed. 104th has higher ridership than the Renton Highlands or Fairwood, so it seems like they should have the faster route.

        Transit centers. Or rather, I’m trying to avoid them as much as possible. Right now, all the Renton buses make hideous loops and unnecessary turns to serve both Renton TC and South Renton P&R. These detours add at least as much time as you lose from taking the “slow” route to Seattle (excluding the 107, of course). In the current system, it’s important for all routes to serve both transit centers, especially Renton TC, because that’s where everyone connects to Seattle buses. But if the nexus moves to Rainier Beach, then no one will ever need to connect at either one of the Renton stops, so you might as well save time by not serving both.

        In my proposal, buses coming from the west on MLK/Sunset will continue east, passing through Renton TC, but skipping South Renton P&R. From there, the only place to go is further east, which means Renton Highlands. On the other hand, buses coming from the “northwest” (on Renton Ave or the crazy 107 route) will head south on Rainier Ave S, skipping Renton TC, but serving South Renton P&R. From there, you have two logical places to go. You can go south on 515 to Kent, which is what the frequent 106 does. Or you can go southwest to Fairwood, which is what the local 107 does. The combination of the 107 and the 148 is the ultimate milk route, but you’ve got to have a route like that, right? :)

        You could imagine doing a swap. The 101 could turn south on Rainier, hitting South Renton P&R but not Renton TC, while the 106 and 107 could take Rainier to Sunset/3rd and turn east, hitting Renton TC but not South Renton P&R. But that adds a lot of unnecessary turns, and it also creates an intersection where many buses enter but none go straight. I hate intersections like that. :P

        Do you think there’s a good reason to move the 106 anyway? That would contradict Metro’s attempt to build a new corridor in Georgetown. Do you think it has already failed?

        Well, you know that I’m not a fan of redundant routes. :) I think there are a lot of opportunities to improve Georgetown. David Lawson presents one compelling plan. A variant of his plan would be to have the 34 continue south on Swift, then to Myrtle and terminating at Othello Station. The 35 would continue south on Beacon Ave, going around the bend, and terminating at Rainier Beach Station. Then a new route (the 126?) would follow the 124 from downtown, but turn south to cross the South Park Bridge.

        Either way, I think the important part is that there should be frequent service on Airport Way, and it should be a common corridor all the way from downtown. The current 106/124 doesn’t cut it.

        But I’m not sure moving the 106 is in that category, and it’s unlikely Metro would delete the middle part of the 8 except under duress.

        There are two issues here.

        The first is, if you’ve got a handful of different ways to get from Renton to Rainier Beach, and a handful of useful places to go from Rainier Beach, how do you put them together?

        In the absence of a more compelling answer, my preference is for straight routes. This means one route on MLK from Jackson to Renton (my 101); one route on Renton Ave from Rainier Beach to Renton (my 106 — nowhere useful to go north/west from there); and one “weird” route that covers all the other streets that need some amount of service, but probably not much frequency (my 107).

        The second issue is, what happens when you hit MLK and Jackson? Well, why has the 8’s obnoxious deviation persisted for so long? The reason is that 23rd and Jackson is a *really important* stop, and Metro is loath to give it up, especially with the terrain differences.

        From a grid-purity perspective, yes, it would be better to continue on MLK. But where do you go once you hit Madison? Madison Park is hardly a destination. You can head west, and terminate at Capitol Hill Station, but that’s a really roundabout way to get to downtown. (Plus, for anyone who lives south of Jackson and wants to get to Link, it’s probably easier and faster to take the bus or walk to Mount Baker.)

        Also, keep in mind that Metro is still running the 14 at 30-minute frequency. So the combination of the 14 and 106 might provide 15-minute frequency on Jackson, which is important. (If you think about it, it’s not really any weirder for the 106 to turn than for the 14 to turn.)

        As you say, the only tricky part is that Metro’s plan won’t serve the middle part of MLK anymore. But that’s easy to fix, right? The 8 can continue south until it gets to Jackson, then turn west and terminate at 23rd.

        To summarize: I think that Metro’s plan is mostly good, given the reality that 23rd and Jackson is probably more important for most current 8S riders than anywhere further north. It’s unfortunate that the middle part of MLK is losing service, but that’s fixable. In a different world, where all of these routes are super frequent, I would prefer an all-MLK route, and people heading to 23rd who didn’t want to walk could connect to the 14 at Jackson.

      15. We’ll have to move it to the next open thread at least; it’s getting hard to reply and ensure it’s at the right level.

        We should also consider Renton’s transit needs. Ideally all cities should have a transit center like Bellevue’s, where you can transfer between many routes without them having to detour too far, and within walking distance of destinations, and without a pedestrian-hostile park n ride. But Renton isn’t very walkable to begin with, and it has already invested in an out-of-the-way transit center with a garage. (I think the garage does double duty for downtown parking and maybe condo parking, so maybe it is better than several garages or surface lots.) So what do you do? The first thing I notice is that the South Renton P&R is a good location for a second transit center, because I have certainly used it as a dropoff place for southeast Renton destinations, and City Hall and Uwajimaya and other things are near it. So I think it just needs a pedestrian-friendly facelift and then it can be a worthy place for routes that don’t go to Renton TC.

        I support your Renton decisions on the principles of straightness and the overhead of serving both transit centers.

        When referring to other proposals like David L’s 34 and 35, it would help if you resketch them, so that people don’t have to find the other article and study the map and figure out where those routes terminate.

        Would the Talbot loop still be on the 106, or how would you serve Valley Medical Center?

        I’m not sure how the 107 is changing, and I don’t care if it’s just moving from one minor street to another. Except that my friend lives off Beacon Avenue so I’d like to keep service in that vicinity even if he doesn’t use it. :(

        The main issue in the middle of the 8 is that the west-side elevation is steep between Pine and Madison, so the 48 is not as viable as an alternative there. That’s why I don’t think Metro will delete it absent the loss of service hours.

    4. Consolidating the 574 and 594 will be as difficult as consolidating the 510 and 511 was. ST was resolutely against both (unless funding dropped to the point that it could run only one half-hourly route), but then it changed its mind on the 512. The primary reason it changed its mind was not to give frequent service between all the combined stops (which is why we wanted it), but to extract service hours to divert to overcrowded peak hours. It gave more frequency on the combined route as a side benefit, which ST is also marketing.

      The biggest reason for combining the 574 and 594 is horribly-underserved Kent. It would allow the 578 to be rerouted through Kent. (Not necessarily to Southcenter; it could take KDM Road to I-5.) When I suggested this to an ST rep at an open house, he was skeptical of the idea, thinking it would require too many new service hours than ST can afford. I don’t know why he thinks turning west then north in one place is much different from turning west then north in another place, but that’s what he said. The time comparison of routing it on KDM Road would be the same as the 158/158, which also use that route. They take 37 minutes from Kent Station to 4th & University. (6am, typical of the non-Sounder hours this would be running. It’s 44 minutes at 7am.) That compares to 26 minutes on Sounder, 45 minutes on the 150 evenings, and 60 minutes on the 150 daytime. The 578 takes about 51 minutes from Auburn Station to mid downtown. If we take 37 minutes for Kent-Seattle, that leaves 14 minutes for Kent-Auburn before it starts lengthening their travel time. The 566 takes 20 minutes from Auburn to Kent, so it would increase travel time 6 minutes. However, Kent-Seattle would probably have greater ridership than Auburn-Seattle or Puyallup-Seattle, so it would help more than it would hurt. And ST could truncate the 566 at Kent off-peak to save some service hours, since it’s one of the lowest-performing routes.

      I don’t think a Tacoma-Everett bus is in the cards. Insufficient demand and too much chance of delays. Link can do it easily because it’s a train and it has its own right of way, so it’s just as easy to run it end-to-end. But even Sounder does not have a south-north through route; you have to transfer downtown.

      No comment on adding Star Lake and other stops. Except that that was one of the 194’s slownesses that led to the creation of Sound Transit and the 577 and 594 in the first place. But maybe that’s less significant evenings.

      1. “Consolidating the 574 and 594”

        I mean the 577 and 594. The 574 is a unique issue, which may be able to be combined into that route but maybe not. The best solution would be to cut out half the stops on the A to make it faster. Then Lakewooders wouldn’t be so pissed about transferring in Federal Way or Tacoma. And extend the A to Tacoma while you’re at it, for frequent local service.

      2. Combining the 577 and 594 gets you the old 194, plus stops in Pierce County. A route that now sits in the Metro graveyard where it shall remain. The 512 was rightfully resuscitated (it existed in the early days of ST) as it serves a useful purpose. The 512 serves the same function as the 594 does. The 594 combines all the stops from 590 and 592 (minus Dupont and Olympia) wheras the 512 combines all the stops on the 510 and 511.

        Something else to think about: Adding more stops to the 594 which already runs an hour would be silly in my opinion.

      3. The old 194 stopped at SeaTac airport and slogged through the length of the SODO busway every trip, resulting in a good 15-20 minute spent before it even got on the freeway. A combined 577/594 would serve federal way, but not the airport, so it would be a good deal faster than the old 194. It also could and should use the Seneca St. exit off I-5, rather than crawling down the busway – under normal traffic conditions this would easily make up enough time to compensate for the Federal Way stop. The SODO busway could still be used for special occasions, for example, to drop people off closer to the stadiums before and after major events and as an emergency bypass when I-5 heading into downtown is a standstill.

      4. For the purposes of creating the off-peak express from Kent Station to downtown, Mike Orr’s proposal may be more politically viable. 37 minutes beats the heck out of taking an hour on the 150 midday, so pull some platform hours from the 150 as a starting point to fund off-peak 158 or 159 service. Also pull platorm hours from the 168 for the local tail. Even if it comes only every half hour, the wait+travel time on the 158 would beat the travel time on the 150 even if no wait time is assumed. Also, move the platform hours from the express portion of the peak 158/159 to off-peak, letting Sounder do the heavy work when it is in service. That probably doesn’t quite cover the number of hours needed, but it should cover the bulk of it.

        Dropping the 578 re-route debate may be the political key to the 578/594 reorg. Keep the tail of the 578 between Federal Way and Puyallup as a new renumbered route, and add some peak trips between Auburn and Federal Way to fill in the peak missing link. Various riders will be unhappy about the transfer in Federal Way, but they would be outnumbered by the peak commuters tired of the long slog on the 181. Speaking of which, is there anything that can be done to reduce travel time on the 181?

        I’ll be curious to see if adding a stop at Angle Lake Station significantly impacts travel time. If it doesn’t, the 574 can be rolled in, and airport riders from Pierce County will have to suffer a transfer in exchange for moving the 594 corridor to 10-minute headway. I doubt Angle Lake Station turns out to be a quick stop though. Perhaps ST has already timed the path?

      5. Consider also that an off-peak-only 158 (or even allow for some shoulder counter-peak runs) could easily fit in the tunnel.

      6. “off-peak 158 or 159”

        Funny thing about those routes. To me they’re the bad kind of expresses: deluxe service from certain single-family houses to downtown, an extraordinary privilege that none of the surrounding houses have. Then I realized that an express on KDM Road would essentially recreate their western half. I could support the 159 replacing the 168 as a compromise, since KK Road is a main street and the Timberlane loop would be the compromise. (Maple Valley would need some kind of replacement service though.) But the 158 gets my goat: it serves all those low-density houses around Lake Meridian who don’t take transit much. If that route were chosen, I’d prefer a truncated version of it.

      7. Another variation on the theme of an off-peak Metro express from Kent Station is to have it take over the portion of the 180 from Kent Station on south. That mix of residential and commercial ought to even out ridership directionally, to some extent.

      8. I hear talk of pulling platform hours off the 150 to fund some 158 off peak service. Hmmm interesting. Ever been on a 150 as it pulls into southcenter and see half the bus or more empty only to fill back up again? Yanking half the buses away doesn’t seem so smart after all.

  4. I have a question. How come air travel isn’t considered public transit? How come gov’t doesn’t get into the business of air travel like it does bus and train travel?

    1. Thank you, Sam, for helping me realize I was just being paranoid when I imagined going through a federally-run security checkpoint the last time I flew.

      1. Not just security of course. The government owns and runs almost every airport. Runs the air traffic control system. Regulates the safety and operations of all airlines and aircraft. Pays for service to many smaller airports (via the Essential Air Service).

    2. I’ve heard people explaining they don’t consider air travel public transit because it’s run by private companies. As for why government doesn’t get into the business – some routes, it does subsidize through the Essential Air Service program; much like Washington contracts with Greyhound to run some bus routes. Let’s also not forget the many subsidies from cities to their airports.

      After all that… most routes that can be run profitably, because they serve a different market from publicly-financed roads. Ground transit used to run profitably as well, before people had automobiles to use without paying the costs of their own right-of-way.

      1. If it ever becomes cheap enough for ordinary people to get their own pilot’s license and own their own plane for a cost comparing to owning a car, air transport will likely cease to be profitable anymore. However, since planes are orders of magnitude more expensive to operate than cars, take orders of magnitude more space to store, and require orders of magnitude more training to get a license to operate one, I don’t see this happening anytime soon.

    3. It does. Airports are heavily subsidized by you and me, the TSA and FAA are paid for out of our tax dollars, and the Feds bailed out the entire bloody industry in the 2000s.

      Such little breadth of knowledge for a world-renowned expert/genius, eh, Sam?

      1. d.p., so because airports are subsidized, that means Southwest Airlines or American Airlines is just as much a public transit agency as King County Metro or Sound Transit?

      2. No, it means that the real-world regulatory and economic frameworks in which common carriers exist possess too much complexity for whatever dumbass analogy your troll fingers were trying to volley.

      3. No, it means that a 500-mile or 2000-mile flight is a different scale than a 5-mile or 20-mile transit trip. One is much longer, much more expensive, ten times faster than a bus, and you do it one a year (or once a week at most) rather than every day.

    4. No wonder people like Bruce Nourish stopped posting here, and the bloggers that do post rarely mix it up with you commenters. You people are a big, steaming pile of Ad hominems.

      1. Many people, including myself, don’t post here because a few arrogant blowhards make it miserable to read through the comments section. Why bother say anything when Sam has already spoken on the topic? It’s as if God himself has sent a prophet of transportation knowledge to this transit desert.

      2. Gabe, you just gave me an idea. Back in the old days of AOL chatrooms, there used to be an ignore feature where if you clicked ignore on someone, you wouldn’t see their chatroom comments. Perhaps the Seattle Transit Blog’s IT department could assign a team of programmers to write some code so we could ignore certain commenters and their comments.

        BTW, AOL chatrooms also had room Guides, that would monitor the chatroom, and had the power to remove, block, and ban members who violated AOL’s TOS. I would be willing to volunteer to be the STB’s comment section guide and monitor, provided I’m given the power to block and ban people who misbehave.

      3. Brent is a blogger now, and he comments frequently. Ben rarely comments except when his favorite topics come up and he’s in campaign mode. I’m not an official blogger, but I used to reply to everything and would keep repeating the same points in the same thread if somebody kept disagreeing. Now I let more things go, and realize I don’t have to refute everybody’s errors all the time, and if somebody won’t be convinced by my refutation, it’s sufficient to just let both our views be documented rather trying to have the last word. Maybe Bruce is becoming the same way. You say the same thing so many times that you get tired of repeating it, so you keep quiet except when it’s particularly urgent. Or when there’s somebody as brilliant and good-natured as you to talk with.

      4. Many people, including myself, don’t post here because a few arrogant blowhards make it miserable to read through the comments section.

        Yeah, I do hope the powers that be are asking the question about the costs of allowing Sam to continue to troll the comments section here so aggressively. The ratio of on-topic, non-derailing comments to straight-up derailment seems to be getting worse, and for some reason people can’t seem to stop themselves from providing a succulent and delicious buffet of troll food for him to gorge himself on.

    5. So if American Airlines is exactly the same as Metro, as d.p. claims, then a homeless person should be able to use a free day pass issued by a social service agency to fly to Hawaii?

      1. Alas, one can get a free ticket to fly out of Hawaii, but not the other way. Whether it is via day pass or single-ride ticket is besides the point, as we are talking about solutions, not transit, right Sam?

    6. Many rail and bus lines started as private. New York City had three competing commercial lines before being merged (which is why the system seems so incredibly non-optimal, with stations that should be single hubs having clusters of two or three connected by long tunnels).

      Also growing up in Queens I rode the “Green Bus Line” which was a private company but integrated into the fare and route system of the MTA.

    7. If you want to get technical, commercial air service is certainly “public transportation” according to the technical definition. As are taxis. Along with rail and bus service. If a random member of the public can walk up, buy a ticket, and get transportation, it’s public transportation.

      Charter services aren’t, because they’re allowed to refuse service to customers on an arbitrary and fairly capricious basis. They are *mass* transportation. As are all of the forms of public transportation listed above *except* taxis.

      You ask why some forms of public transportation are government-run, some are government-owned and privately-run, while others have profiteering private companies involved, and yet others have the government helping to prop up private profiteers (taxi medallion systems)?

      Historical accident.

      Most of the rail systems started out privately owned and operated, but massive government subsidies for roads and private autos and gasoline (and for a while, airports) drove most of the private operations out of business — since they were essential, the governments picked them up.

      Taxis almost went bankrupt in a number of cities during the Depression too, but the governments usually decided to provide government subsidies for the private businesses in that case.

      All historical accidents.

      1. It wasn’t just subsidies for roads. Many cities including Seattle forced the streetcar companies to keep the fare at 5c even when inflation eroded its value to the point of not covering operations and maintenance. They didn’t understand inflation back them, because it was a less-common occurrence. What was common then were panics and depressions. Inflation was the price we paid for escaping depressions. They didn’t understand that when inflation goes up, you have to let all prices and wages and interest rise, or it creates bottlenecks where non-inflated income or assets shrink into oblivion. So they kept the streetcar rate at 5c to help the poor (who grew dramatically in the Depression), and it made the streetcar companies non-viable.

      2. Thank you for the added information, Mr. Orr — I should have thought to include that stuff (I’ve studied enough historical economics to know how important it is).

        Given that we’re now in a depression running headlong towards deflation because people in power forgot all about how to avoid depressions, it is particularly important that people understand this stuff…

  5. Car2go question – have people been having trouble with dead spots in the network that the cars use to begin and end trips? I live just south of the Trader Joe’s on Madison, and there’s an area of four square blocks or so – basically Madison to Union and 17th to 19th – where the network is consistently unreachable. I’ve given up on parking near home and just leave the cars up near John now. If you call Car2go while you’re looking for parking, they will manually take the car offline for you, but that’s quite the hassle. (I also see their cars regularly parked on my block for a few days in an “Out of Service” state.)

    Just wondering if anyone has had similar experiences or if Car2go has ever commented on it.

    1. Actually, the population-weighted density of the LA metropolitan area is three times as high as the population-weighted density of Seattle.

      1. It’s interesting how people think of LA as some sort of sprawly car paradise. It was like that 50 years ago. It has not been like that for decades.

      2. @Nathanael

        The last time I was there was three years ago visiting a friend who lives with his family in Bel Aire. This friend used to be the consummate Mahattanite, and although he’s lived in CA for two decades, he still lives a very urbanish existance, finding the trendy restaurants on dense streets. Driving around with him, it struck me that yes, a lot of old LA where there are bungalows and wood frame houses, resembles the neighborhoods of Seattle and many west coast cities.

      3. It’s useless to compare citywide averages, because a person is rarely if ever in an “average” location, with an average walkshed, an average choice of transit routes, and average road capacity. They’re either in a dense neighborhood or a non-dense neighborhood or somewhere along that continuum, or they’re next to an unpopulated lake or park that throws off the statistics because they lose a walkshed but gain an intangable amenity. What matters is how many of the neighborhoods are dense and what size they are. Manhattan is ideal for city-lovers, while Pasadena is better for automobile types, even if Pasadena has the same density as outer Queens or Brooklyn. Citywide averages don’t tell anything about whether a city-lover or car-lover would like a district that could be their home or workplace. Population-weighted average does tell that. It tells a density-loving person that he’d be three times happier in LA than Seattle, because there are roughly three times more dense blocks per capita to choose from.

      4. But LA also has more uniform medium density than many other places. Most of the city is like central Bellevue, i.e., less dense than San Francisco but more dense than Rainier Valley. That’s because of more uniform zoning, which has parking minimums even downtown and thus puts a ceiling on density, but at the same time it doesn’t have many low density areas because you gotta fit four million people somehow.

      5. @Aleks

        I see.

        Still it’s hard to believe that such a high proportion of LA people also live in high density.

        One doesn’t think of high rise apartments for example, but at most, low level garden style developments.

        Still over such a large population and area, if say, more people lived in apartment units than in SFHs, that could account for the high PWD.

      6. It’s not as high density as you might think. Let’s assume that each city block is 400 feet square, if you extend out to the middle of the street. Then there are about 175 blocks in a square mile. At 12,000 people pretty square mile, that’s about 68 people per block. If every apartment is 1000 square feet, then you can fit over 100 such apartments on the ground level alone.

        In fact, if you look at the density of a single multifamily residential block, it’s in the stratosphere. Densities of over 100,000 people per square mile are not uncommon, and densities of over 40,000 exist even in Seattle. 12,000 is what you get from a continuous swath of row houses, but it’s also what you get when you mix low-rise or mid-rise apartments with retail, schools, parks, and other non-residential uses.

        Eventually, I hope that we’ll come up with a new measure of density that more accurately reflects daytime uses. Until then, residential density is mostly useful for broad classifications (e.g. city versus suburb) and for comparing residential districts, and not much else.

      7. For the historically-minded, 2013 was the 50th anniversary of the dismantling of the last Yellow Car streetcar line in Los Angeles; the last Red car line was dismantled in 1961.

        So there’s a reason I said that Los Angeles was auto-oriented *50 years ago*. I meant that quite precisely.

        Regarding LA: there are huge areas with lots and lots of *small* single-family homes — technically fully-detached, but cheek-to-jowel with each other, with maybe 30 in a block. These are interspersed with the occasional 2-4 story apartment building. This stuff runs on and on and on for miles and miles, stopping when it hits industrial areas (and there are some huge industrial areas in LA).

        “12,000 is what you get from a continuous swath of row houses, ”
        They don’t even have to be actual row houses; if the side-to-side spacing is minimal enough (usually just enough for a one-lane alleyway or driveway, or maybe only a walkway) you can still get 12000 pretty easily. And that’s what you get in much of LA.

  6. Test fleet shapes next step for fuel cell cars
    Toyota, Honda prepare for retail rollouts

    As part of Honda’s decade-long beta test of hydrogen technology, Spallino may be the dream brand advocate, routinely putting 1,000 miles a month on his FCX Clarity and helping Honda better understand what changes need to be made for fuel cell technology to reach the mainstream.

    “People always ask me the same questions: How do I get one? How much does it cost? How far does it go? How long does it take to refuel?” Spallino said.


    1. “The upcoming Toyota fuel cell sedan is projected to have total global volumes of 5,000 to 10,000 units over three years. By contrast, Hyundai has limited aspirations for its fuel cell Tucson, hoping for 300 global sales per year for the next three years. Honda has declined to give a sales forecast. ”

      The carmakers are not taking fuel cell cars seriously — they’re not even trying for volume. These are what alternative-fuel car fans call “compliance car” numbers.

      Meanwhile, Tesla Motors delivered 6900 Model S cars in the *fourth quarter* of 2013, a level which is expected to increase. Tesla remains production limited with a several-month order backlog.

  7. 0:54 in the video- I want to be able to take my bike on the escalator! Elevators at Westlake always smell like a bathroom…

    1. Agreed. It honestly feels safer to ride up the escalator with your hand brake set than to carry the bike up the stairs (which is allowed). Now, if all stations had runnels… Well, that would be an entirely different situation.

    2. That is actually not supposed to be allowed on LA Metro, but many cyclists do use the escalators because the elevators are overloaded and reek or urine.

  8. I saw this morning the the location of the old Hostees factory on Dexter is going to be a 7 story apartment building: https://www.seattle.gov/dpd/toolsresources/Map/detail/default.htm?pin=1988201285&lat=47.62309&lon=-122.34262&addr=435,,DEXTER,AVE,N

    My question is this…. This appears to be part of the new re-zone for SLU… why did the developers not max out this lot? Did the not want to pay the ‘costs’ of incentive zoning?

    Is this a sign that developers will baulk at the heavy ‘tax'(incentive costs) to get the extra floors?


      1. Bummer,
        After all that work on the re-zone the council really screwed it up… Now we get neither more units, nor public benefits.

      2. So the council should try another approach. Incentive zoning has always been a bit ridiculous, and charging developers for low-income housing more so. Charging developers for the roads and sewers to their new neighborhood makes sense because they created the expense. Affordable housing is a citywide problem so it should have a citywide solution, not just sticking it to developers who didn’t create the problem, and thereby raising the price of non-affordable housing further.

      3. I’m not opposed to development impact fees in principle, but I worry that they don’t mesh well with ad valorem property taxes. Sure, new developments should pay for the cost of their public services. But how come a 2,000 square foot house worth $350,000 pays the same annual taxes as a 800 square foot condo worth $350,000? You can’t possibly argue that the condo is an equal drain on the city’s budget.

        The folks who spend their life advocating for development impact fees have no interest in yearly impact fees for existing properties, of course, because such a system would significantly increase the cost of living in a single family home, and that wouldn’t further their goal of halting growth in Seattle. Better to just enact as many barriers to development as possible, couched in language of sustainability and environmentalism.

        (To be clear, I’m not referring to anyone on this comment thread.)

      4. “But how come a 2,000 square foot house worth $350,000 pays the same annual taxes as a 800 square foot condo worth $350,000? You can’t possibly argue that the condo is an equal drain on the city’s budget.”

        How is the house a bigger drain on the city’s budget?

      5. How is the house a bigger drain on the city’s budget?

        Washington State authorizes development impact fees for the following types of costs: public streets and roads; publicly owned parks, open space, and recreation facilities; school facilities; and fire protection facilities in jurisdictions that are not part of a fire district.

        Road maintenance: If you have 1000 people, each of whom lives in a single-family house, then you’re clearly going to need a more extensive road network than if you have 1,000 people in 10 side-by-side apartment buildings.

        Parks, open space, and recreation facilities: This one’s a bit fuzzy, since people who live in homes with yards probably don’t use public parks as much. But if you assume that housing is sufficiently dense to need parks, then it’s clear that you can get by with a smaller number of parks if people live closer together. More parks means more money spent on park maintenance.

        School facilities: Most of the costs associated with schools are per-person, though if you have a 32-unit microhousing building, that building will probably have fewer school-age children than if you have 32 single-family homes. However, one thing that’s unambiguously true is that we need to get children to and from school. A neighborhood of single-family homes needs an extensive bus network. A neighborhood of dense housing can be accommodated with a smaller bus network, or the children could even walk to school.

        Fire protection facilities: There are two reasons a city needs to build more fire stations. First, each individual fire station can only protect a certain number of people. Second, each individual fire station can only protect a certain geographical area. If you put people closer together, then you can get by with fewer fire stations per capita, which saves money.

        There are other costs; for example, sanitation trucks are more efficient in dense neighborhoods. I’m sure there are more still.

    1. Karl Marx must be rolling over in his grave.

      But remember that not every house is equally useful to the homeless. Many of these were built on the edges of exurbia, with no services or jobs nearby. Sure it’s a roof over your head, but where do you get food or earn money to pay your utilities? Especially if you have limited or location-specific skills. Exurbia may be 50 miles from the nearest city, so how are you going to afford gas? Many of these places were never built with the expectation that anybody would actually live in them; they were just a get-rich-quick schemes to flip and then they’d be somebody else’s responsibility. Cities are bulldozing them not just to keep up the price of existing homes, but to erase isolated buildings that would forever be expensive to service with police/fire/roads/utilities.

      1. The article itself states many of the empty European homes are in failed resorts. Definitely not where you want to move if you’re looking for a job or need services of any kind.

    2. There’s also the size and shape of the house. What would a single person do with a three-bedroom, two story house with a large yard? It would be a huge burden to heat and maintain.

      1. In cities where people actually live, large houses are adapted to uses different than they were originally intended for. Many large houses lining Chicago’s old boulevards were originally inhabited by rich families when the boulevards were something like a green belt at the edge of the urban extent. Today many of them now fall in poorer neighborhoods (in what’s now the “inner city”) and have been divided into apartments. The boulevards make lousy public streets: they’re stubbornly single-use and often have huge front lawns without sidewalks, which is obviously a problem for walking but also fails to create a distinction between public and private space that’s become more necessary as the original public spaces of the street and median has been taken over by speeding cars. The houses aren’t perfectly suited to apartment conversions and are showing their age. Still, people need housing and there’s rent to be collected, so everyone makes do.

    3. London has an extreme shortage of housing. The population is now larger than it was in 1931…. and by most estimates, there are actually fewer bedrooms than there were then (due to various things which happened in between).

  9. A bit upthread there’s a comment made about the 43 not having any unique stops along its entire route. That aligns perfectly with a question that I wanted to ask: Why is there a 43 at all? 43 seems like another 3, at least from looking at OneBusAway. Sometimes the trips go into Capitol Hill/First Hill (kind of where the 64 and 265 go), sometimes they go downtown, sometimes they go all the way to Ballard as the 44. Is it a legacy route or is it there to keep something going on the trolley bus wire so people don’t agitate for it being pulled down?

    Pipe dream: since it’s electrified down that far, if the trips “to Capitol Hill” are going to be kept, I’d love for them to go in the reverse: Continue down 23rd to Yesler, right on Boren to Broadway, up Broadway to Olive, then to Atlantic Base via downtown. Seems just as sane as having the “dead end” diversion the other direction and gives the CD another destination.

    1. Clarification, the 43 seems like another 3 in that the route does different things and goes completely different ways depending on the specific trip, which is a confusing way for a route to behave.

      1. The 43 is a legacy route, but it’s a peculiar one, in that it’s one of the most popular routes in Metro’s system. It serves several vitally-important stops, and until U-Link opens, there isn’t really a good alternative (with the possible exception of the 49 and the 10 for certain trips).

        To the north, the 43 has two options. Sometimes it goes to the U-District and stops. Sometimes it turns into the 44. You can tell the difference by reading the headsign. If it says “43 BALLARD”, then it will become a 44. I agree that it’s confusing, but it’s actually not much different than the downtown though-routing mess; the difference is just that few people ride any given through-routed bus through downtown, whereas a *lot* of people ride the 43/44 “around the bend”.

        To the south, there are also two options. Most of the time, the 43 runs downtown on Pine to 3rd Ave. Sometimes, late at night, an individual 43 bus is being taken out of service. Instead of deadheading back to base, the bus runs its normal route to Broadway, then turns left and heads to Atlantic Base. Sometimes, the bus signs itself as “International District”, or sometimes as “Atlantic Base”. In either case, it generally keeps accepting passengers, though presumably there’s a point at which everyone would be asked to exit. (I’ve never ridden it that far.) While it’s confusing, the alternative would be to delete these runs entirely. It’s like the Link trains that only go as far as Beacon Hill. It’s a weird case that only applies at night, so the best approach is for people to just deal.

      2. Very good points, thanks. I suppose I was just wondering why there has to be a 43 and a 44, just make them all 44 (though I guess that means more service hours and a longer route means bunching). Or why the 48 goes to Loyal Heights instead of somewhere more interesting (seriously, who got the bright idea to connect Mt Baker and west-of-Roosevelt?). Or why no buses go from south of Montlake north via 25th (mo wires mo problems?). Or why I keep wondering when anything will ever make sense again. ;)

      3. @lakecityrider: I think they always used to be connected. But it’s probably good that they’re split. They’re only connected way off peak when traffic is pretty light, and the split means the 44 is mostly insulated from the traffic jam at the Montlake Bridge and on Montlake Boulevard.

        IIRC a couple years ago someone said Metro avoids going through on 25th because of travel time unreliability. I’m rarely in that part of town when the Montlake Bridge opens, but I do know southbound 25th gets really bad when the Montlake Bridge opens. I’m sure Pacific is bad, too, but it has bus lanes up to the bridge at least. It’s sort of a chicken-and-egg thing — hard to run a bus there without bus lanes, hard to justify putting down bus lanes where there’s no bus yet. And then there’s the problem that so many of the people riding the 48, 68, and 372 are really going to UW, and a route going straight through leaves you way downhill of UW. It could be an interesting RapidRide candidate (just as a way to coordinate infrastructure improvements and service changes), because with bus lanes on the bad parts of the route it actually could move pretty fast. It seems like the obvious destination from a network perspective is Lake City, but Northgate will have the train. Maybe in the distant future it would run to Lake City and then west to a station at 130th or 145th (going all the way to Woodinville would be a little long). That would be a pretty risky change, though — shaking up a bunch of existing routes around a largely new one.

      4. The 43 is a legacy route from the 1970s when Metro combined (and modified) the 4 MONTLAKE and the 30 BALLARD/LAURELHURST into one long and unreliable route. Originally, the 43 provided the only service along John St. to Broadway and in those days the 48 was a much more limited route.

        The 48 was a very popular route for Rainier Valley kids who wanted to go to Green Lake. When the 26 was thru-routed with the 42 MLK and the 48 extended to Rainier Beach, Rainier Valley residents used to have 4+ one-seat rides to Green Lake every hour.

      5. You can ride the “special” Broadway 43s all the way to the station at 5th & Jackson, that’s where they’ll boot you off. Not sure why OneBusAway has it ending at Yesler & Boren.

        The headsigns aren’t always a good indicator of whether a 43 or 44 will continue through. At least from Ballard *every* 44 says it’s going to the Med Center. You have to know the schedule, ask the driver, or wait until you cross Roosevelt to find out if you got the lucky one that continues through. In the weekday AM there are a few 43s that turn into 44s but they have the same headsign as the ones that don’t. It might just be the ones that sneak out up Broadway instead of coming from downtown, I’m not sure.

    2. The original transit network was pretty exclusively downtown-centric, which may have made sense in an era of low population and corner stores every few blocks. So the 43 is just that kind of route. I don’t know when the 48 started but it’s probably much more recent. In the 80s it was about the only non-downtown route. The 43 and 44 were a single route for many years, and was clearly the long way to go from Capitol Hill to Wallingford or Ballard, but a few people did it because it was a one-seat ride. There’s no mirror route south of John because that area was historically poor and neglected by transit, and it’s also lower density.

      The current 43 is popular because it matches a lot of trips. Broadway is the primary shopping area for people living on both sides of 23rd. People use the 43 to go to QFC or Seattle Central or the Miller Community Center or 15th, or walking five blocks to Trader Joes, or to their house on 23rd and 24th, or to the Irish pub in Montlake or St Demitrios, or coming from the southern part of the UW (where the 49 is out of the way), or transferring from a 520 bus. The route’s bend does reflect where the highest density and ridership is. However, Metro might finally pull the hammer someday and replace it with more service on the 8 and 48, and people will just have to transfer. Aleks has suggested making the 43 daytime-only. That might be a good compromise, because most of the trips I’ve descibed are in the daytime, and if you had to transfer in the evenings it would be better than transferring all the time.

      The base deadheads in the early evening compensate for the lack of transit on lower Broadway, so that at least a few hours a day people coming from the U-District can have a one-seat ride to First Hill.

      As for buses on 25th, University Village was much smaller before its expansion in the 90s. So it’s only recently that a route there was justified. And that happened around the same time that Metro split the 74-local and made Campus Parkway a major transfer node, so it got out of the business of new one-seat rides to downtown from northeast Seattle, and that probably included routes to Montlake.

      1. Before the mid-1970s there was no one-seat ride from Capitol Hill/Broadway to the University District unless you consider the 4 MONTLAKE which ran Pike > Madison > 23rd > University District. There was no 43 and the 9 BROADWAY didn’t cross the University Bridge.

        The 48 was started in the late 1960s or early 1970s in response to local Civil Rights activism. Seattle Transit didn’t believe that a route that connected the historically Black Central District with the University of Washington would generate enough ridership to justify its operating cost.

    1. City of Kirkland has a whole slide deck of every crazy transit idea imaginable for the ERC…

      Between, say, Kirkland TC and some point along the ERC you have the combination of a steep hill, short distance, and traffic congestion that gondolas tackle with aplomb. A similar thing is true near downtown Bellevue, with the physical obstacle of 405 substituted for the hill — a gondola may be the cheapest way to get across 405, and could be extended west beyond the transit center above congested roads. A gondola’s extremely high frequency would be well suited to transfers to and from faster services.

      But along the ERC? The pancake-flat ERC? The long ERC with a small number of widely-spaced activity centers? The wide-open ERC? The ERC whose primary competition is driving on 405, which even during severe traffic congestion will beat a gondola’s 10 MPH average speed by an enormous margin? The ERC’s strength as a ROW is that it easily supports fast vehicle movement and connects more readily to South Kirkland P&R than any road. Its weakness is distance from the downtown cores of Kirkland and Bellevue. Gondolas along the ERC would throw away its strengths without addressing its weaknesses. They’d be doomed to fail, and would cast all urban gondola projects in the same negative light that Rosemont cast on PRT. Complementary gondolas make more sense than ERC’s gondolas.

      1. Well, cars beat most public transport modes in most use cases save for maybe rush hour. The difference with a gondola system, is that it is constantly in motion. Cars arrive every few seconds, and other than queuing up to get into a car, there is practically no waiting. So what if it takes 30 minutes to get from TotemLake to South Kirkland? By the time you wait and wait for a bus and then plod along a meandering pathway, you’ll have spent the 30 minutes and then some.

      2. Yeah, the bus service between Totem Lake and South Kirkland is lousy so not many people use it. A gondola that was just as slow? Not many people would use that, either.

        Gondolas are a terrific idea in some places. Along the ERC is not one of them. Crossing the ERC might be given a commitment to fast transit along the ERC and transit-oriented land use near it.

      3. As Al says, why along the ERC? LRT on the ERC would be a much better solution.

        For a complementary gondola system, how about from Moss Bay -> Kirkland TC -> ERC somewhere around Kirkland Way -> some landing on the other side of I-405.

        Or in the neighborhood of Totem Lake, how about Kingsgate P&R -> Evergreen Hosp. -> 124th & 124th -> LWTC

      4. There are lots of “why”s and “why not”s for all of these things. I think one thing is clear, which is that any transit in this are is likely to fail without a commitment to transit-oriented and pedestrian-oriented land use around the transit we build. The ERC offers some advantages as a transit corridor but there are plenty of challenges, including terrain and width in some areas.

        There have been a variety of studies and proposals surrounding transit along 405 and the ERC. Groups ranging in scope from the Cities of Kirkland and Bellevue to Sound Transit to WSDOT all think that north-south transit on the northern eastside is important and would likely all be involved in trying to solve it. I really believe we could build transformational transit for in either corridor if we’re committed to transformation. If gondolas complementing the ERC make sense, they make as much sense complementing 405-based mass transit, which has similar strengths and weaknesses (faster through speeds, farther from any walkable part of Kirkland, more new P&R potential, few remotely attractive station areas, no connection to South Kirkland P&R… but these corridors are generally both fast through-ways that need some last-mile work). I also believe we could fail spectacularly in either corridor, and that without the will to remake the northern eastside one project at a time around transit we will fail regardless of corridor and technology.

    2. Charles, not true. They are proposing a gondola line between downtown Kirkland and up the hill to the Cross Kirkland Corridor. Not, as you say, from DT Kirkland, up to Google, then out to Totem Lake.

      As one of the top four experts in aerial gondolas in North America, I believe this idea is a gimmick and a waste of taxpayer’s dollars. As it is, 6 different bus routes already connect with the CKC in 5 different locations throughout the city. This gondola is an answer to a problem that doesn’t exist.

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