The whole line after Mercer Island, for your viewing pleasure:

109 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: East Link Animation”

  1. More operational questions! :) I’ve been riding trolley buses a lot lately and have noticed a few interesting things.

    Do operators like driving trolley buses or are they usually for the denizens of the lower ranks of seniority?

    Some of the stops are “dual tracked,” I suppose for passing while one bus is at the terminal or picking up passengers. How is the route of the wire controlled, just friction? Also, what is the significance of the beeping the often console makes when the bus is turning?

    A couple of you have explained this to me but I’m just not getting it: Are the 3 and 4 headsigns actually confusing or is it me? Several times I’ve seen 3 and 4 buses going eastbound on Jefferson past Harborview with a headsign of “Downtown.” Further confusing things is OneBusAway. I tried waiting at the “bidirectional” stop for the 3 (the turnback at 21st and James) for a bus that OBA said was going to “Downtown” but the one that showed up was going to Madrona. Are the ones going to downtown from there the buses that came in as, per the schedule, “to 21st & James only?”

    1. Several artificial barriers to better functioning stations to come to mind when watching the video.
      1. So Belvue R&R: Exiting the train you see your car parked 50′ away, then begin the long walk down, over, and up following the mob, only to follow them down again in your car.
      2. The ‘Great Wall of Surry’ cuts off most access from the west, and unless you have a hotel room, there’s not much on the East.
      3. BTC: After the tortuous, pointless series of wheel screeching turns to get there, bus transfers kinda suck. I hope the escalators keep working better than elsewhere in the system.
      4. Overlake stops: Wonderful views of 520 and a crappy Ped Misery Index (TM).
      These are just my favorites.

      1. Not to mention the level crossing of 130th… East Link has so many frustrating design decisions. Good thing I never go to the east side.

      2. mic,

        Bus transfers will suck even more if there are fewer buses to which to transfer.

      3. If the downtown station is going to be so close to the freeway, we may as well make the cost of it and build a 6th St. freeway station for the 532, 535, 566, and 567 buses, rather than make them loop through 10+ minutes of stoplights to access the transit center bus bays.

        We could pay for it many times over by just scrapping the tunnel and routing the train down 112th.

      4. (fixing typo)

        If the downtown station is going to be so close to the freeway, we may as well make the most of it and build a 6th St. freeway station for the 532, 535, 566, and 567 buses, rather than make them loop through 10+ minutes of stoplights to access the transit center bus bays.

        We could pay for it many times over by just scrapping the tunnel and routing the train down 112th.

      5. mic #1: A bridge would be useful only to the top floor of the garage, which will be the last level to be filled. I can’t tell how many stories the garage is, but each story makes the bridge useful to a smaller percentage of drivers. Contrast the Northgate bridge, which will be useful to everybody walking/biking to the west side of the freeway.

      6. Look at the total pedestrian trip getting off the train.
        Down 4 floors on the elevator, escalator or stairs, over the parking garage then up the elevator or stairs to level 2-4. The break even point is about the 2nd floor of the garage if a short ped bridge were included in the design. The elevator bank is next to the 30 foot chasm separating the guideway to the garage.
        That offers a choice to depart the herd heading for the bus platforms from the park and riders heading for a car, thereby spreading the load over more people movers and making a shorter queue for everyone.

      7. There are a number of things I don’t like about TriMet’s Clackamas station, but at least there they combined the parking garage elevator with the elevator to get up to the station level from bus level. It does mean that if the one elevator breaks wheelchair passengers have to take a long, twisting route on a ramp to get up there, but it can be done.

        On the other hand, the arrangement TriMet used here is only possible if you allow pedestrian crossings at track level to get to the center platform, which obviously SoundTransit wants to avoid.

      8. Lots of complaints there, mic!

        Just a couple of clarifications. First, if you meant to name “The Great Wall of Surry” after Surrey Downs, note that there’s an ‘e’ in the name.

        Second, The Great Wall of Surrey doesn’t actually impede any reasonable route to the station. Take a look at a map before you complain–the access points that are cut off (SE 4th & SE 1st) aren’t straightforward to get to by any means. The roads in the neighborhood wind around quite a bit and there are only a few access points into the neighborhood.

        Now, if you meant that we should just bulldoze Surrey Downs and cover the whole thing with brand new parking-free apodments, then you got me. But if you’re talking about people who currently reside or work west of the East Main station trying to get to the station, they’re far better off using Main Street. (That’s kinda why they named it “Main Street”, by the way…)

    2. In answer to one of your questions, this looks like a pretty good explanation, although it would be nice to have an actual operator or former operator comment on how it’s done here.

    3. On the first two questions, lakecity:

      1. On who chooses to drive trolleys, main question should be this: Given that one reason routes are wired is because they’ll generally carry heavy passenger loads, and given that it takes about a year full-time before you’ve got the feel of the coach and seen every way it can de-wire and what the driver has to do about it, and given that the run does not pay extra for the extra work and knowledge- why does anybody pick trolleys voluntarily at all?

      My own instructors were excellent. May Jeff Linsted and Roland MacVey rest where they can pick both their own work and management. I’m told that in the nineteen years since I last drove, that has been less the case. Worst of all, drivers have told me they’ve had instructors who themselves believe that trolley work was punishment for being helpless scum. Hope that’s been cured, because as far as taxpayer’s money, that attitude is worse than stealing change from the farebox, and should be reported and treated accordingly.

      Luckily, for some of us the extra work counts as a valuable skill, partly for the lack of noise and fumes, but I think mostly because it’s interesting. I suppose there’s also the sense that it’s like being a nineteenth century weaver like Silas Marner- though there have doubtless been improvements elsewhere that will eventually get here.

      Also, fact that fewer drivers favor trolleys means there’s more work available for those who pick them. But like transit driving itself, trolley work generally attracts and keeps those who like it.

      2. I think you’re asking how a trolleydriver sees to it that the bus goes the direction it’s supposed to through a switch. We used to have some of the old-fashioned switches, where either the direction of the coach or whether the driver had his foot on the accelerator or not determined which wire the bus took.

      Now, I think all the switches are of the “Fahslabend” variety, activated by a radio transmission controlled by the turn signals- or by an override switch on the dashboard. Notice a fixture like a little ladder lying on the wire just ahead of a switch- that’s the antenna that receives the signal.

      Above is especially important in negotiating “special work”, which chiefly means switches. Notice that on every switch, there’s something called a “bridge” that resembles a suitcase handle. To avoid instantly blowing out the electric system, it’s necessary to carry the current of one wire over the wire crossing it.

      Operationally, this means that the wire is dead the whole length of the bridge- sometimes more than five feet. Meaning that if the bus stops with a shoe (the swiveled piece at the top of the pole, that contacts the wire) under the dead spot on level ground, it takes a push from another vehicle to get it moving. Again, street gradient can help get moving. But best practice is for a driver to learn to know exactly where the shoes are at any given time and place.

      In San Francisco, MUNI paints yellow circles on the pavement spaced so that the circles come under the driver’s window exactly when the shoes are under dead wire. In Seattle, drivers learn to use things like fire hydrants or utility man-holes for the same purpose.

      There’s a mechanism called a “retriever” that drops the poles away from the wire upon sensing dewirement, a special danger with all special work. But considering liabilty of a loose pole grabbing the overhead- the wire and switches over a busy intersection can weigh as much as a truck, charged to 600 volts- rules limit speed across switches to something like five miles an hour, and anybody with an imagination obeys.

      Negotiating special work smoothly is probably the major skill in trolley-driving, involving timing and above all a feel for the grade of the street. Like ocean sailing or glider-flying, forces like gravity and momentum are friends to those who understand them. Downgrades help with acceleration, upward ones smooth out braking. Without back-pressure from a combusion engine, a trolleybus will roll down First unpowered from Pike Place Market to Yesler.

      Or could,if King County Metro quits wasting a whole Downtown avenue-full of trolley overhead for years, on an important arterial that presently hardly handles any service at all. Like with trolley driving, transit management is also best done by those who truly love and understand the tools. Not to over-condition my support for Resolution 1, but it comes with the understanding that the agency is capable of the above, and with needed money, above will be accomplished.

      Mark Dublin

    1. The last advocate of driverless cars here admitted that there would be accessibility issues, and they would require more freeway lanes.

    2. I can think of several reasons why not. For example:

      1) Cost. Even if cars are driverless, the cost in the form of gas, wear, and tear of making long car commutes every day is not going to go away. Even if housing may be cheaper out there, the expense of driving 30+ miles round trip every day would make such savings quickly disappear.

      2) Time. Even the car is driverless, the time lost to sitting in traffic will not go away. Sure, you can watch TV or text your friends if you don’t need to keep your eyes on the road, but the options for what you can do in the car are still going to be a lot more limited than at home. For instance, you will still remain couped up in the vehicle without being able to stand up and stretch.

      I can imagine a world where rich people commute to work in driverless RV’s so that they can eat breakfast, shower, etc. doing there commute, or perhaps even a full-fledged mobile office. However, such a vehicle would be beyond the ordinary person’s financial ability to purchase and operate and, even those that could afford it, would likely run into problems with motion sickness due to the constant starting and stopping as the car inches forward in traffic.


      That said, driverless taxis can do a good job complementing transit by helping to solve station access problems at suburban locations without the need to build giant parking monstrosities. They can also be used for last-mile travel for people making reverse commutes, people who currently feel compelled to drive the entire way.

    3. So… the three sectors that dominate climate change are argiculture, transportation, and urban buildings (this means something like the energy needed to make buildings habitable, stuff like heating and light). Larger living spaces require more energy. Longer and more personal-vehicle-heavy commutes require more energy (as well as infrastructure that forces other people into longer and more personal-vehicle-heavy commutes, something that those conflating autos with individual choice rarely acknowledge). Where is the energy coming from? Are we going to completely ignore our environmental responsibilities in the next 40 years?

      1. The only truth about self-driving cars (if they ever come to pass) is that they will be such a disruptive a technology, that nobody at this point can predict the outcome. They could be really bad for cities (makes sprawl viable, siphons people off transit, still need to be stored…), or really good for cities (makes car-free living way more viable, solves the last mile problem, can be used far more efficiently than regular cars meaning less cars are needed meaning more space currently used for storing cars can be converted to housing…).

        It’s too big. We just don’t know.

      2. My point is that use of energy and the environmental consequences of it, in about a generation, won’t just be unaccounted results of our activities, they’ll be important considerations in determining the shape of our activities. Predictions of the future that call out massive additional energy use without calling out sources for this energy are not realistic. A prediction that we’ll double the size of personal living space and average commute distances without addressing energy is a fastasy.

        Sprawl is (economically) viable today, it’s how a huge portion of America lives. Sprawl will be less economically viable under a real mandate (i.e. one with economic teeth) to reduce carbon emissions.

        (I could be wrong about this. But I don’t think I am. People are used to energy and environmental concerns being the tail, but going forward they’re the dog. Higher energy costs have already had real impacts on the characteristics of the last recession and recovery, and the world is starting to act together on climate change, though its first steps have been slow and stupid.)

      3. And many people live in sprawl because the rents are cheapest there. Which shows how popular sprawl actually is.

  2. Does anyone know on average how many times a Link train is forced to stop on MLK outside of the stations for traffic lights? I was on one last week that stopped 6 times – more than I’ve ever experienced in a single trip.

    1. Not very often (I go sometimes a week or more with out a severe loss of signal “cascade” on MLK), but sometimes when it does occur it can be particularly bad – usual culprit: an emergency response involving Seattle Fire (either fire or medical aid) especially when they are travelling the opposite direction that your train is going. Emergency vehicles running “red” have priority over all signals and they take control of many intersections via an optical signal at the same time. It takes nearly a minute for each signal to reset to normal as the emergency vehicles clear each intersection. If the train was stopped by any signal the request for transit priority has been sent ahead to several intersections but if the train is delayed too long we may have to stop again to request another priority “cascade”.

      When emergency vehicles are travelling the opposite direction as the train, the signals nearest the train interrupt last holding the train while the signals several blocks ahead of the train have already reset and have given the train its signal priority – but since we have been delayed we cannot reach distant signals before they time out. Occasionally we end up stopping at each signal to recall our priority until we reach the next station.

      You may not even notice an emergency response that crosses MLK or one that is travelling the same direction as Link other than the train stopping once or slowing until the emergency vehicles get far enough ahead. Since the signal that we first encounter a delay resets while further signals ahead are still delayed – we just follow the response.

      If we are lucky enough to notice an emergency response while at a station. We can wait to request a signal until the response clears which usually allows us to operate normally after only the station delay.

      When we are prevented on leaving a station 39 seconds after requesting a signal “cascade” due to someone holding a door open or other reason, We have to request another signal. The original request still is granted by several intersections even though the train has been delayed. If there is very low cross traffic and no pedestrian crossing requests – this may not result in any further delay when the train gets its second “cascade”. But in high traffic times the signals will go through the entire cycle before granting another transit priority movement which stops the train again upon arriving there.

    2. Silly question, but if the emergency vehicle is just going straight down MLK and not actually turning, there is no conflict, so why does it need to impact the train at all?

      1. If Opticom is used to pre-empt a given signal, it gives all phases in that direction (left, thru and right turn) a green signal. Regardless of turning movements, the emergency vehicle may interrupt the signal priority of Link. Link uses TSP (transit signal priority) to slink through the corridor.

        Opticom is used to allow emergency vehicles not only to proceed through signals, but to help clear or better spread the platoon of vehicles at a given location. It’s easier for emergency vehicles to maneuver through traffic mid-block vice at a signal, since traffic is at a dead stop with curb/barrier on both sides.

    1. Same reason as Hospital Station. So Bellevue can have stations 1/3 mile apart, and a tunnel too.
      Just like big sister across the lake.

      1. It all boils down to an unwalkable freeway crossing necessitating separate stations on each side.

      2. So I would assume you would favor scrapping the unfunded Northgate pedestrian bridge in favor of S-turning N. Link across the freeway to North-Northgate Station on the other side.
        How is that any different than I-405, seeing as how the chicken has to cross the road anyway?

      3. mic, it doesn’t have to cross the road until Lynnwood, and it’s much more useful for it to stay on the east side as far as Montlake Terrace.

        Even so, the activity center on the east side of 405 is north of the activity center on the west side; East Link can have one station at each without going out of its way anything near like what would be required at Northgate. The difference would be all the more acute if the Downtown Bellevue station had been placed in the more sensible location on 108th.

      4. Actually in the original conception it wasn’t all that unreasonable. A station serving “Old Bellevue”, which is a bit sleepy but has walkable bones and isn’t right in the middle of freeway ramp hell. A station at Bellevue TC, which is one of the biggest transfer points in the whole region and situated for access to Bellevue’s most important destinations. And one at the hospital that might catch some development east of 405 (that’s always been an iffy proposition, but major regional transit there might do something to push it in a more walkable direction).

        But then a series of routing, tunneling, and station placement discussions happened, were dominated by a series of interests other than a good (or even coherent) transit route, and the combination of decisions made crippled each of the stations as well as the line itself. It got a frequent, high-capacity injection of “Seattle Process” and Design By Committee. Its gold plating was expensive and useless while its cost cutting was painful and fruitless. Impact mitigation efforts managed to damage the system while hardly improving the neighborhoods or natural areas they wanted to protect. And in the end we’re getting three stations with no useful walkshed because the process has a schedule, damn it, and it has to move forward even when it’s producing nonsense.

      5. (When I mention “Old Bellevue”, what I mean is that the original idea was for the station that became East Main to usefully serve Old Bellevue — the East Main station we’re getting doesn’t.)

      6. Thanks Al. I was just being snotty about the whole East Link line, and especially about N.Northgate. Your take on how we got here should be gold plated, framed and posted at all the dysfunctional train stations on the Eastside.
        Call it 1% Pop Art if you like so future riders don’t have to scratch their heads saying “What the hell were they thinking”.

      7. Hospital Station is because of the freeway, the medical businesses on 116th north of 8th, and the anticipated development on 116th south of 8th. Compare Othello Station, which was also built as a growth area.

        East Main Station is because of stop spacing; it’s two miles from BTC to South Bellevue, and Bellevue is the second-largest downtown in the region. Al gives a good outline of how the station got watered down to mediocrity.

  3. I can’t believe that we are actually building this monstrosity. Billions of dollars down the drain. We should be beefing up our bus service and maintaining our highways. A light rail line that will take nearly a decade, if not more, to build will only worsen our financial situation for ST and KMETRO. The solution is financially reasonable transit, more bicyclists, carpool lanes, an expanded rideshare and Taxi fleet, plus buses. Rail, though pretty, is too costly to build and maintain. More can be done with buses. I’m against all these projects and am saddened that we have succumb to them, at the same time killing innovation for lyft/sidecar/and uber. Even after it opens, I’d rather take an Uber to Bellvue than walk six blocks and take the light rail, and I live in SLU!

    1. The problem with the bus-as-cheaper-alternative solution to trains argument is that we’ve heard this all before. Every time we hear it from an organized lobby, that lobby group then never lobbies for the buses, much less the infrastructure to allow the buses to move faster than molasses.

      In fact, the most well-heeled opponent of East Link, Kemper Freeman’s Eastside Transportation Association, argued vociferously about how much better a network of eastside express buses would be. Now that bus funding is on the ballot, guess what they are doing? Opposing it.

      We are so done falling for that scam, and the Eastside Transportation Association has pretty much zero credibility remaining as a group that cares about moving people around in any mode.

      1. Anyone who would spend $45 on Uber to avoid walking six relatively pleasant blocks is not someone who gives a damn how the masses get around.

        East Link is patently necessary.

        But we give ammunition to our concern-trolling enemies when projects like East Link are built terribly and are guaranteed (by ST’s own estimates) to underperform as a result.

        East Link might be better returned to the drawing board than built — and rightly mocked — as presented above.

    2. Look at it this way, Sloo: a balance sheet has two columns. One is for “credit”, meaning the value of what every expenditure bought. A private firm finds an expensive piece of machinery that will earn it future returns far exceeding its cost. Would any responsible auditor claim that this purchase automatically puts the company in bad financial condition?

      The Interstate highway system is an excellent example. While I don’t think its creators, including Republicans like Dwight Eisenhower, planned for these roads to subsidize a half century of real estate development, as an accounting issue nobody can say they haven’t earned their keep by many multiples.

      Who knows? It may be that they also served the military purpose for which they were intended, first by assuring that this country could easily handle a two-front conventional war-the kind that really defeats nations- but more because they contributed to the unity and prosperity that really is the chief strength- and deterrent- of the United States.

      I used to drive a cab, and occasionally still use them- more lately, since when my schedule is pushed King County local bus service really is slower than is tolerable. Would like it if more voters indicate to King County that their positive vote next month is less for the one that exists than for the one that needs to replace it.

      I’ve never used “Uber”, and won’t get into anything with a purple mustache on the grill. But am I wrong that when it’s stuck in traffic- which we’ll never be able to keep moving if we pave Lake Washington and flatten the Cascades for all the lanes- the new services move as fast as everything else?

      Anyhow, would really like to know if, like taxi meters, Uber charges for the time spent standing still. If so, wouldn’t be long ’til you’d paid for a train line with platinum rails. But- your money.

      Mark Dublin

      1. **Anyhow, would really like to know if, like taxi meters, Uber charges for the time spent standing still. If so, wouldn’t be long ’til you’d paid for a train line with platinum rails. But- your money.**

        FYI, yes, Uber & Lyft have a Drop fee, a distance component, and a time component just like the taxi meters do.

        That, and I do agree that the argument that we should all drive instead of taking the bus or train is a false one. It amazes me that people are still arguing about this.

    3. It all comes down to whether you believe Seattle-Eastside high-capacity transit is needed. It has been needed for forty years. The next question is what kind of HCT. Using the same technology as our existing Link makes sense to allow economies of scale (interchangeable parts and vehicles, and interlining with the downtown-Northgate segment which needs double capacity anyway).

      Rail per se is not expensive; what’s expensive is new rights of way (tracks, elevated structures, tunnels) to bypass traffic and intersections. These expenses are comparable for rail vs bus rapid transit. So if you’re spending billions anyway, you might as build rail which has more capacity and attracts more passengers.

      Also, Link is expensive to build but not to operate or maintain. Link’s operational cost per passenger is already below Metro’s and ST Express’s I believe, and it will only go lower as it’s built out and ridership increases. Steel guideways and electric motors last longer than asphalt roads, rubber tires, and internal-combustion engines. So it’s a good long-term investment.

      The capital cost is comparable to a freeway, and that’s how it functions, as the fastest and most convenient way between the areas it serves. People don’t evaluate freeways based on the capital cost per car; the evaluate it on how well it meets the regon’s overall goals. Light rail should be evaluated the same way. You may think it doesn’t contribute much to the region, but I would disagree with that, and would also say your goals are inadequate. Making it easy to get around without a car, to all the many destinations Link serves, every 10 minutes all day and evening, is an important goal for a county of two million. Link is not perfect, as many of us including me acknowledge, but it addresses this need at least somewhat, and moreso than anything else that has been proposed.

      1. Seattle is a bit unique in that just looking at the numbers gives a bad impression of light rail. Link is more expensive per passenger mile than the ST express buses. However, it has more stations than a typical ST express. It is less expensive per passenger mile than the average KCM bus, but operates faster and fewer stops.

        Most cities have a fairly clear cut advantage with rail of any sort being significantly less per passenger mile than buses operated by the same agency.

  4. Wow, that has a lot more at grade crossings than I was aware of… seems like that would slow things down a bit. Those crossing gates near the Overlake make me a little nervous.

    I find it funny how they have to pretend TOD is not TOD in this animation… and how residents need buffer zones to protect them from the station rather than having any direct access to it.

    I guess it goes to show the different levels of support for Sound Transit in Seattle vs the east side.

    1. Surrey Downs is the only residential neighborhood East Link goes right next to. The rest of it is all downtown, industrial zones, and highways, so there are no NIMBYs to object.

      Link’s actual impact on Surrey Downs will be similar to Rainier Valley. E.g., not audible above the car traffic, and just a small vehicle the size of two buses. It won’t even have the grade crossings that MLK has. But Surrey Downs is not Rainier Valley, and its residents have a lot of stereotypes about trains. Few of them have probably ever gone to MLK to see how Link actually behaves in a residential neighborhood; they just imagine large loud trains blighting their property values.

      1. two buses eight buses. I forgot about four-car trains. And yesterday I saw that a Link car is long enough to fit two buses. But still, the impact of a train passing through every 10 minutes is the same as a bus passing through.

      2. @Schuyler, as a former resident of University Heights (the city next to Shaker Heights) and a current resident of Surrey Downs, amen! I’ve brought up Shaker before, to the council, to Surrey Downs residents, you name it. One point you don’t explicitly make is that Cleveland’s commuter trains started running in 1920. The trains are by no means light rail!

        However, I will maintain that Surrey Downs residents aren’t just blindly afraid of the trains blighting their neighborhood. They’ve been scarred by a number of ridiculous missteps and displays of incompetence. The train should go down Bellevue Way…instead, we get the East Main station. The train should go down the east side of 112th which is populated by businesses….instead, the train crosses over 112th into residential properties *to protect the Bellevue Club’s tennis courts* (by Sound Transit’s own admission!) The tunnel shouldn’t be routed down 110th when the two stations at either end open up on 112th.

        No, we’re not afraid of any dog-gone train. We’re afraid of the idiots with eminent domain.

      3. They’ve been scarred by a number of ridiculous missteps and displays of incompetence.

        It’s not clear that blaming ST for any of those missteps is quite appropriate. Resident activists and the City of Bellevue, prioritizing their concerns over ST’s, are responsible for essentially all of them.

        If ST had had its way, we would have a Bellevue Way alignment, a logical tunnel under downtown Bellevue, and no worry about the Medina residents’ precious tennis courts.

      4. @David Lawson, this has been a at least a three ring circus. Saying that only the resident activists and city are to blame is ridiculous. I didn’t attribute all of the missteps and incompetence to Sound Transit but they certainly have their share of the mistakes here.

        Frankly, it’s tragic on all counts that we’re building this train on the proposed alignment. But Seattle is a region of big thinkers. The Thomson Expressway, the Kingdome, the Alaskan Way Tunnel, all kinds of brilliant ideas have marred our civic history. We in this region have an absurd affection for the smell of our own farts.

      5. @David Lawson, and to your point about an alignment down Bellevue Way with a reasonable tunnel: pretty much everyone in Surrey Downs was absolutely in favor of that alignment. It wasn’t the resident activists who killed that plan. It was–as many have pointed out in these comments–Kemper Freeman to blame.

        The folks of Surrey Downs started screaming for the B7 alignment (BNSF railway) after it was clear that the monied business interests in the core of downtown were going to protect their properties at all costs. And frankly, I agree with them–once you put the train on 112th, you may as well hop over the highway and put it on the existing right of way.

        But we spent three years discussing that (lack of) alternative. There’s no use dredging up old arguments, is there? Let’s just stop this bickering and spend our billions on whatever the hell we can build. We’ll fix it later, no doubt.

      6. spend our billions on whatever the hell we can build. We’ll fix it later, no doubt.

        Yeah, that’s the sort of attitude that will encourage yes votes in the future. We fucked it up the first time but give us more money and it won’t be worse. Sure, I’ll vote for that… not.

      7. Well, at least AP agree’s with one of my complaints – the ridiculous and totally useless tunnel.. Sorry about my spelling of Surrey Downs.

      8. Which mistakes did ST make that were not caused by the combination of several kinds of contradictory opposition from Bellevue? ST knows where a line and stations would have the most benefit and that was its first choice (Bellevue Way). But opposition and costs forced it away from there. Once it decided on 112th, obviously it had to choose one side of the street or the other, and one negative impact or the other. All infrastructure-planners have to make these kinds of tradeoff decisions, and they wish they had a third better option that avoids both impacts. We have to let them make these decisions, and give them all the information to understand the tradeoff, and complain if their reasoning is radically illegitimate. I can’t call this decision radically illegitimate, just controversial.

        However, AP, you did raise in my mind a greater understanding of the impact. One, that this is the only part of East Link right next to a residential area. Two, that MLK has a built-in buffer in the form of the half street and sidewalk on each side, so part of this 30′ buffer is in lieu of that.

        My main concern is about the size of the buffer and wall; it looks like another attempt to push the train away, and to treat it as wholly negative. When I went to Bellevue High School many years ago and had a friend living in Surrey Downs, both of us would have been glad for a train and a station there to get across town on. Obviously we would probably expect some buffer, but not something “out of sight, out of mind”. But again this is a judgement call, what size and type of buffer is right. I don’t have any absolutes. Although I hope the vegetation is trees/flowers/shrubs rather than an empty “open space” lawn that looks abandoned.

      9. >> We have to let them make these decisions, and give them all the information to understand the tradeoff, and complain if their reasoning is radically illegitimate.

        @Mike Orr: Are you really recommending blind trust? I hope that works out for you. It certainly hasn’t worked well for the Seattle area in a number of instances in the past.

    2. The crossings around 130th are low-volume streets, which is probably why at-grade was even considered feasable. The higher-volume streets east of them have overpasses. I didn’t notice any crossing at Overlake so I’m not sure how significant it is.

      1. 130th isn’t at grade. Crossing 20th just south of 140th is at grade. Sigh, even the transit advocates don’t even give a damn about East Link. I gave up given our council make-up and the fact that even transit addicts can’t enunciate a coherent reason for East Link to exist. ST’s original brain dead plans were to use 24th at grade through Overlake. Beyond stupid was the starting point; everything from there starts to look good.

      2. Are you sure that isn’t a misprint, Bernie? Because I can’t imagine how insanely stupid it would be to use 24th. There is, almost literally, nothing there. All the activity is south of 520. What’s more, 24th is a two-lane road that heads up and over a huge hill just north of 520. In every way, it can be seen in an instant to be a horrible alignment for light rail.

      3. Okay, that’s more sensible. I assume it would turn and head north at-grade on 156th? Actually, if it wasn’t for the new Overlake Village development and the 36th Street Bridge, and for the shared lanes, I’d say that’d be a better route than they’re currently taking…

      4. William C., I had to go back to the DEIS to remind myself what the proposed alignments were. The D2 family of alternatives would hook up to 520 around Park Place Motors, then follow 520 elevated on the south side to NE 24th, then head east cross 148th NE and transition to at greade. They would then turn left at 152nd NE to a station at Overlake P&R or a little north of there. They would then transition to retained cut to the station at OTC. There were no alternatives that looked at using 156th NE.

        IIRC, the FEIS also examined an alternative on the north side of NE 24th. All in all, I prefer the current alignment.

      5. Crossing 20th just south of 140th is at grade.

        That was a typo. It should have said just west of 140th is at grade. It’s crossing NE 20th just east of Park Place. May take out Honey Baked Hams and World Cup sports. But immediately after crossing NE 20th they pull maximum grade so they can hang a hard right and develop enough elevation to cross 140th. One reason they don’t want to elevate sooner and have a larger radius turn is the absolutely not in a million years option of buying out some 20 different property owners and relocating some 35 businesses so they can use the land bordered by 140th Ave NE & ~134th east/west and between NE 20th and SR520 for their maintenance facility. The whole thing is just dumb and dumber. The clowns even proposed taking the Fred Meyer property up on 148th less than a year ago for the MF. The NE 24th alignment would have been a disaster crossing 148th at grade where there is already gridlock. I haven’t been able to get a straight answer from anyone at ST at public meetings why the are elevating over 148th and then doing the roller coaster thing to put it in a trench when they could with coordination and planning (what a concept) piggy back on Redmond’s planned slip ramp from 520 to 152nd and go under 148th. The attitude at ST seems to be, “hey, not my money and I don’t live there so who cares.”

  5. Let the narrator’s soothing voice, hypnotic background music, and utopian future make you ignore how truly awful much of the alignment and station placements are.

  6. The design is a solid foundation for the future.

    This area A) is very car-centric, and B) has development patterns with tremendous flux (For that matter, the Eastside didn’t even exist in any real size until ’70s). Naturally that means the first iteration of rail will have difficulty meshing in with existing neighborhoods in a way that is operationally optimal…but because of “B” it’s also likely that there will be subsequent improvements that are both rapid and relentless. This design gets us moving forward.

    As for the “Seattle process”; there’s always room for improving the underlying processes themselves, but usually what critics seem to be more interested in is removing the other stakeholders from decision-making. I find it hard to believe that over the life of a project, eliminating stakeholders and their concerns will somehow lead to the best design.

    1. Miles of property acquisitions and sound walls and reconfigured crossings, all to buy off a neighborhood with no interest in the line, in order to follow a path a mile further east than the optimal path that would have allowed the line to cross downtown Bellevue from west to east.

      A half-billion dollar tunnel that skirts the far edge of the downtown, contains no stations, pushes the “East Main” stop a mile from any destinations on actual Main, and ensures that intermodal connectivity to, from, and across downtown Bellevue will forever suck.

      A partial-grade/partial-cut alignment that relies on vague promises of Magic Unideveloper TOD (tentative diagrams resemble Century City more than any real city).

      A highway-median station Seattle is forced to pay for, but hardly needs, which somehow winds up forcing passengers to cross the tracks, eradicates the safety of sightlines, and makes transferrers backtrack to today’s flyover platform and winding ramps just get to the street.

      And don’t forget the windswept pedestrian bridge at Overlake, crossing a million lanes of traffic and connecting directly to the top floor of a massive garage… but not to the train platform.

      You “find it hard to believe” that fewer voices of ignorance in the room could have yielded a better outcome? Because I don’t see how the results could possibly be worse?

      As Al says above, the insanity of continuing down a path that is producing identifiable nonsense is beyond belief. When the route that was only chosen to be cheaper proves terrible — and thanks to concessions, no longer all that much cheaper — it’s time to design anew, incorporating what you’ve learned.

      Why is this the only place on earth that never learns anything ever?

      1. I’m pretty sure the designs of the ped bridge over 520 at Overlake Station will have wind barriers – it will not be windswept. And it will make a significant difference in connectivity between Microsoft’s west and east campuses. The problem today is not so much the distance, but the stoplights, which the bridge will bypass. The bridge is also not just about train access – it’s also about Connectivity to the freeway station for the 542 and walking trips between Microsoft buildings that don’t involve transit at all.

        If you look at the actual distance on the map, the bridge will take no more than about about 2-3 minutes to walk all the way across.

    2. The problem with the “moving forward” mindset is that this isn’t moving forward, this is it. Once this is built, it isn’t going to get changed for a very long time. You hear the phrase “moving forward” as a justification for bad designs because people think of it as just one phase in a continuous process that can always be improved upon. In the grand scheme of things, that may be right, but big expensive things set in concrete are not part of a process. They’re there. And they are going to stay there until another big expensive thing set in concrete comes along.

      The planned route through Bellevue is appalling. An amalgam of high cost and poor service. Maybe, in the grand scheme of things, this will be a learning experience that will lead better design in the future. But the Seattle Process has not yet shown that capacity for learning.

      The problem with public participation in the design process is big one, and I haven’t sorted out my views on this subject. But I do observe that the current iteration is not working at all. The stakeholders that get represented include the “antis” (the anti-everything changephobes), the ignorant, and the wingnuts. Although the ignorant do a lot of damage in our current process, I don’t feel as much antipathy as I could. Most people do have lives, and I don’t blame people for living them. The number of issues that a responsible citizen is expected to keep abreast of exceeds anyone’s reasonable capacity. But something must be done to recognize that some people know more about the issue than others. Some people even know people’s wants better. At these types of planning hearings, you always hear “more greenspace” even for urban areas where it isn’t appropriate. The professionals know, because they have stepped back and looked at the issue objectively, that most people don’t want more greenspace. When people are observed in public settings, even when they have a direct choice between grass and concrete, most choose the concrete. Most people prefer to hang around with other people and not with ducks. (Now I love my greenspace and would go to the barricades to defend my favourite patches, but I do know that “more greenspace” is clearly not the answer everywhere.)

    3. “it’s time to design anew, incorporating what you’ve learned”

      This was the best agreement ST and Bellevue could come up with after six years of negotiation. The only way to renegotiate a better one would be to replace the city councilmembers or convince a majority of them to change their minds. ST could have invoked privilege and ignored the council, but it would have faced lawsuits and interminable delays and expenses and difficult permitting status. ST chose to do only what the council would agree to, and that’s a reasonable position even if you’re not satisfied with it. The alternative, just cancelling East Link or subjecting it to another ten-year or twenty-year delay, would have held hostage the thousands of citizens that have been losing months of their life to slow and infrequent buses due to the absence of HCT, and it would have contradicted their ST2 vote. I also believe that the failure of Sound Move is one of the reasons Bellevue developed in such a decentralized and car-dependent way, because there was no advantage in organizing around nodes. Sound Move did have a majority but it didn’t reach the supermajority requirement, so even then people recognized the need for HCT and now we’re finally getting it 50 years later. Let’s not make that 60 or 70.

      1. Sorry, but no. The last two years of process were all about placating 112th, handling Surrey Downs with kid gloves, revising and revising the tunnel geometry until it ceased to have any utility as a tunnel…

        Again, the only reason the train was ever sent over to 112th, rather than along Bellevue Way, is that it was fucking supposed to be cheaper. Once the cost of the route ballooned, and once it’s awfulness as a route became apparent, its whole reason to be had ceased to be.

        It was someone’s responsibility to say, “Screw that. We’re getting some part of this right, or we’re not doing it at all.” At the point we’re at, a Bellevue Way alignment and a NE 6th tunnel wouldn’t necessarily be more expensive. And the stakeholders you’d be dealing with wouldn’t necessarily be nearly as pissy as those on 112th.

        Sound Transit owed it to both taxpayers and all future riders to explore the possibility that they’d chosen a fundamentally incorrect route that no longer offered expediency or savings, and to see about fixing that error for the good of all.

      2. Sorry: Meant to reply to this comment, not the one above.

        @d.p., I am once again saddened that this blog has no “Like” button. Well stated, sir!

    4. ST is the 800 lbs gorilla in the relationship with Bellevue, but they didn’t want to step on any toes, which was required to make just an adequate light rail system a great one. Look at Bill DeBlasio. He’s saying to New Yorkers, “Don’t like what I’m doing? Too bad. I have a mandate, b…, so suck it.” ST had a mandate to create a great regional light rail system, but let every small town and neighborhood in their path push them around.

  7. I have the feeling that some not too bright people at ST actually thought Main street in Bellevue is called East Main street, like streets in West Seattle are designated as southwest, and streets in the Rainier Valley are south. They dumbly thought, “well, it’s on the east side of the lake so it must be East Main street, right?” “Duh, yeah, sounds good to me, Bob, let’s call it East Main Station cuz it’s on East Main street.”

    Still thinks the folks at ST are the “best and the brightest?”

    1. I thought the commentors here were the “best and the brigtest”. The not too bright person named Sam actually thought that was the permanent name, thinking “well, that’s what they call it now, how could it ever change?”

      1. Thanks for the link to revisit all the ghost riders heading for the station. I’m curious about the new technology to count them.

    2. It’s just an interim name for planning. ST asked for permanent name suggestions at the 60% open house February 25th. I don’t know if the window is still open; I couldn’t find any mention at ST’s website, but if you have a preferred name you can email ST anyway. The preprinted choices on the form were Surrey Downs, East Main, and another I don’t remember. I’d be satisfied with either of those two.

      1. Then why didn’t they call (in the interim) 130th Station in the Spring District East 130th Station? Why isn’t it East Hospital Station?

      2. You could ask ST why they chose East Main. The top-of-my head assumptions are: (1) People would think “Main Street Station” is in Seattle, (2) they would mistake “Main [Street] Station” for the primary Bellevue station and get off at the wrong station, (3) even though Bellevue’s named streets have no “NE” or “SE” on street signs, I have seen it called “East Main Street” occasionally, probably on maps.

        I am concerned about Hospital Station being out of place (i.e., not on First Hill), and seeming like hubris on the part of Overlake Hospital. But I’m not worried about it until the final name is chosen. Somebody suggested reviving an old name for the neighborhood — I think it was “Midlakes”? — that I put as one of my suggestions.

      3. Re: Hospital name, why not use Lake Bellevue station? I see no reason Link can’t have two stations named for lakes. Or just call it Whole Foods station!

      4. The problem with Lake Bellevue station is not the lake part, it’s the Bellevue part. There would be three stations with similar names.

      5. @Peter Landsman: I just realized that the Hospital Station isn’t actually by the hospitals. It’s behind Whole Foods! (Over the existing train right of way, mind you!)

        Ugh. Yes, we should name it the Whole Foods station. Or the “Lake Bellvue” station. Yes, the missing E is from the video. It helps to disambiguate station names :)

    3. Mike Orr, using your logic that Hospital Station should be renamed to what people used to call the neighborhood over a half century ago, Midlakes, Beacon Hill Station should be called its original name of Holgate and Hanford Hill. I like your thinking! If passengers get confused, it’s their own fault they don’t know their history!

      1. Sam – What do you propose calling Hospital / Midlakes / 116th Ave NE Station, then? Beacon Hill has a more modern name, which was an obvious candidate; I don’t think this area does.

      2. So Seattle gets primacy in naming things, any suburban station with a similar name should start with NOT.
        NOT one of Seattle’s many Hospital Stations
        Not University or Community College Station

      3. “Hospital Station” should go to the largest and most traveled-to cluster of hospitals, the same way “Stadium Station” should be in the main stadium district and “University Station” should be at the UW (alluding to University Street Station). Bellevue can have whatever it’s primary in, of which the only thing I can think of is the name “Bellevue” (so no Bellevue Avenue Station). “Overlake” is primarily the area between Bellevue and Redmond, even if people disagree on how large it is.

        “Midlakes” is an unfortunately generic name (Which lakes?), and mildly clashes with Interlake/Interlaken (Interlake Avenue N is in Seattle; Interlake High School is in another part of Bellevue). But at least it’s a picturesque name and not just a generic word. “Lake Bellevue Station” has also been suggested. I think people could immediately make out that “Lake Bellevue” like “South Bellevue” is not the city center station because it sounds specialized. Specialized in a way that “Main [Street] Station” (without the East) does not.

      4. University Street Station is both misnamed and misplaced. It should be between Spring and Madison, and it should be called “Library”. But since that’s not going to happen, I would like to see it renamed “Symphony”.

      5. Mike Orr, you are incorrect. Since there is no station called Hospital Station anywhere on Central Link, U Link, or Northgate Link, it’s perfectly fine for there to be a Hospital Station on East Link. In my expert opinion, it’s the most logical choice for that station’s name.

    4. William, here’s what I do know: Nobody calls that area Midlakes. The area where that station will be there are two large hospitals with numerous medical offices and clinics nearby. If Central Link calls a station Stadium because it’s by a stadium, and SeaTac/Airport because it’s by an airport, why can’t a station be called Hospital because it’s by a hospital? I’m saying it would be foolish to call it by a neighborhood name that went out of favor decades ago. Call it Hospital Station. Second choice, 116th Ave/Hospital Station.

      1. Nobody? Until closed by Congressional stupidity it was the Midlakes Post Office. And there are plenty of other buisnesses which use or used Midlakes in their name. I’d be OK with Hospital Station except, what hospital? My guess is the overwhelming majority of people trying to get to ‘the hospital” will be assuming they are boarding the train to UW Medical Center. Calling it Overlake Hospital station is problematic since Overlake Medical Center is private. And the Overlake neighborhood is actually more up toward Microsoft. I’m in favor of replacing the Bel-Red nomenclature, which never was a neighborhood but rather a collection of automotive services, flooring stores and U-store facilities with the historical name from when it was a place people would actually want to live and visit which is Midlakes. Given that three bus routes stop closer to both Group Health and Overlake and are sparsely used Hospital Station has a bit of a hollow ring to it. FWIW, Overlake Medical Center has two giant parking garages. I’m guessing Group Health has a similar ratio of parking to people.

      2. Bernie, you refuted a statement I didn’t make. I did not say, “No business have Midlakes in their title.” If I had said that, then yes, you would be correct. What I said is nobody calls it that. I live in Bellevue. I grew up in Bellevue. Listen closely. NOBODY CALLS IT THAT! If I asked someone where Whole Foods was, NOBODY would say it is in Midlakes. NOBODY! They would say it’s across the street from the Overlake Hospital, or they would say it’s on 116th, but nobody in Bellevue would ever say it’s in Midlakes. No go run along and find some example of someone somewhere saying or writing about the Midlakes neighborhood, but you’ll still be wrong. That area being called that by more than a few people on a regular basis ended generations ago.

      3. I disagree with “Hospital Station” for Bernie’s reasons, but I’d be fine with 116th Avenue.

      4. Bernie, you must think people are idiots. You said, “My guess is the overwhelming majority of people trying to get to ‘the hospital” will be assuming they are boarding the train to UW Medical Center.” So the average person in the DSTT, who is waiting in the for a train going south then east, would think the train is actually going north to the UW? First of all, that stations will be called University of Washington Station, not Hospital Station. If you’re taking an East Link train pointed south, how could you mistake that for a U Link train going north? And now must the 130th Lynnwood Link Station change its name because people might think they are going to 130th Station in Bellevue? Either you’re just being argumentative and recalcitrant, or you’re being a giant ad hominem.

      5. Nobody calls that area Midlakes.

        In fact, a venerable NW buisness, Bartells still identifies with the name Midlakes naming their new store in that neighborhood as such. That, along with numerous established businesses still in that area prove you wrong. You are correct however in that explaining a location to people that didn’t have a connection with Bellevue dating back 30 years would avoid Midlakes. What I’m saying is that this is a chance to reverse the gawd awful “Bel-Red” moniker associated with the Muffler District.

        Or it could be the Clinkerdagger, Bickerstaff & Pett’s Station. Hello, I’m you’re serving wench and will be punching your Orca card ;-)

      6. “now must the 130th Lynnwood Link Station change its name because people might think they are going to 130th Station in Bellevue?”

        This is a clash that I think snuck up on people because the came out of discussions with two completely different groups of people. Bellevue clearly has first claim on the name because it was in the ST2 map, and it would pair nicely with “120th Station”. But those are just planning names, not final names. Bellevue could discard the name. However, I would not like to see 130th being the only numbered station in Seattle because that’s name. Numbered stations work well in a series but not just one arbitrary number here and there (29th Avenue and 22nd Street in Vancouver, West 4th in Manhattan, Caltrain in SF before the T line started). But on the other hand, it’s hard to think of a name for 130th Station (Seattle) because it’s on the outskirts between three neighborhoods (Lake City, Northgate, Aurora/Bitter Lake) and has no name of its own — similar to Midlakes where the name has been forgotten.

    5. I think there used to be a Jaffco where Whole Foods is, and a Brenners Brothers Bakery behind Barrier Porche. One more thing, the announcement on the B Line when it gets to 116th, if I remember correctly, is, “116th Avenue. Group Health Medical Center. Ovlerlake Hospital.”

  8. Okay. This week’s question is more of an opinion piece:

    While most transit systems (like CT and PT) generally re-brand their coaches’ paint schemes every 10 years or so, Metro has had its current “Crayola” color scheme active for almost 20 years. Is it finally time for a rebrand after nearly two decades?

    1. The current scheme is much better than the previous white scheme that made dirt easily visible. I like the current scheme and see no pressing reason to change. If it does change I hope it remains dark colors with similar or light trim, because I generally like those best.

      1. How can we even contemplate throwing money away away to repaint buses when we are struggling to afford basic operations costs to keep them on the road?

      2. It would not be an immediate repaint. It would just be the color scheme for new buses and rehabs as the fleet gradually turns over. That’s how it happened the last time.

      3. We are currently replacing bus stop signs to match our fleet of crayola buses. I don’t see the bus color changing anytime soon.

    2. Union Pacific has had it’s current logo for 150 or so years, and its yellow and grey colors since the 1940s.

      If it works, don’t break it.

    3. The last buses using the previous two liveries were not retired until late 2005, so we’ve only had eight years where the entire fleet was unified. I appreciate the unified fleet and don’t want to go through another decade-long transition between liveries, so I support staying with the current look for awhile longer.

      That said, the current livery doesn’t look good unless the buses are almost new. Dark colors quickly fade and show scratches easily unless they are maintained to a standard which isn’t realistically possible for a transit bus agency. So I wouldn’t have chosen this livery to begin with.

  9. Metro requires that someone who exits the tunnel at ID/Chinatown and wants to transfer to a northbound 16 or 66 must walk four long blocks to the stop at Second and Occidental instead of being able to board these routes at Jackson and Fifth, the layover point. Since these routes will be ending there instead of at the ferry terminal for an indeterminate period of time while the viaduct/tunnel destruction/construction takes place, this makes no sense at all and provides zero public service.

    1. If you’re transferring to a northbound 16/66, why would you exit at ID rather than Westlake?

    2. That layover point is not a safe place to board and deboard passengers. (And, even if it were, Metro avoids having passengers board at downtown layovers for a lot of very good reasons.) The buses would have to stop at the zone on Jackson, which presents a safety problem for buses going straight on Jackson (as cars can turn right from the middle lane).

      1. Makes no sense. The 358 used to layover at the same location, yet would let passengers board at Jackson and Fifth.

      2. The 358 turned right from Jackson onto 4th. The 16 and 66 don’t. They would have to go straight from a right-turn-only lane (which has another right-turn-allowed lane to its left) if they served that zone.

        Personally, I think the reroute is silly, but Metro feels it’s necessary to serve traffic headed from the ferry terminal to other parts of downtown, so there you go.

  10. I ran into a similar issue today going to Fremont from Carkeek Park. The 28 passes right by the park’s southern entrance as part of its turn-around loop at the end of line, but it doesn’t stop there. The nearest stop is 1/4 mile down the street. The recently-rebuilt 7th Ave. appears to have plenty of space for a bus stop/layover zone (in addition to an absence of NIMBY’s to object to the bus laying-over there). Yet, for some reason, the 28 drivers right on past and does not use this area for a stop.

    That said, when you are entering the tunnel from the south, it is usually best to choose Westlake Station to transfer to a surface bus, not ID station. The primary reason is that inbound buses, with almost no change fumblers, almost always move through downtown faster than outbound buses, with pay-as-you-enter. Making the connection later can sometimes mean the difference between making a connection and missing it and having to wait for another bus. In addition, making the connection at Westlake can sometimes open up additional route options. For example, if you’re headed to Seattle Center, instead of waiting specifically for the 16, you can take some other route, such as the D-line, if it happens to come first.

    1. By the time either of these two routes reach Westlake, they are usually full, with standing room only. Not so good for someone coming via Link from the airport, for example.

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