This is an open thread. The report on West Seattle Link is coming tomorrow, so hold your horses.

78 Replies to “News Roundup: Already Here”

  1. For those who haven’t seen it yet, the ST board meeting on the first of this month covered initial findings on Everett Link, Downtown – West Seattle – Burien – Renton and East Link Rail/BRT corridor.

    http://d2virlc8fnqkl3.cloudfront.net/video/board/2014/20140501_Executive%20.mp4

    Biggest new reveal: The downtown transit tunnel would apparently go in under 4th, not 2nd. Also, the West Seattle portion might consider a routing through South Park with a spur through the junction down to White Center.

    1. The spur seems to come out very well by every metric except for cost, where it doesn’t do terribly.

      I’m a bit surprised at the daily ridership numbers, though. 100k? Really?

      1. From what they were saying in the talk I can only imagine that they suspect White Center and South Park both have at tremendous amount of riders without cars.

        Also, this does include the east-west traffic across the south end trying to get to and from the spine. I suspect this would be a pretty big boost to the spine as well.

      2. Umm… yeah…

        Sprawling as they are, those places are less car-free (i.e. far more beater-dependent) today than the Rainier Valley, which hasn’t earned a fraction of 100,000 riders on Link plus all of the buses combined.

        The sprawling southwest quadrant is, quite simply, the last place in the city rail should go. There’s no density. There’s no cohesive urbanity. There’s no there to serve.

        But as usual, our “local experts” willfully ignore basic transit geometry, and propose failure. I’ve ceased to be surprised.

      3. @d.p. The way ST2 was designed requred them to study this corridor (Burien to Renton) whether or not its actually built. I do like seeing all of the different options on the table here, but I do also want to know where the actual ridership numbers come from, and if they make any sense.

        We will have a chance this summer to provide feedback if you would like to propose other ideas.

      4. While I’m unwilling to wade through an hour-plus MP4 file in order to parse grainy maps, I’ll admit that I find it a intriguing if their strategy for thrift involves brainstorming Duwamish crossings at thinner and less heavily-trafficked points along the channel.

        But I still think they’re succumbing to the superficial temptation to overlay the region with a large “X”, regardless of whether the limbs prove individually or holistically rational.

        A reasonable look at the kinds of density, kinds of uses, kinds of nodes, and kinds of continuous urban build that support true high-capacity transit demand (and network effects) will likely point to the 44 corridor, a 48S-ish corridor, and a Lake City Way spur long before you’d be able to justify the expense of crossing the Duwamish in any location.

        Also, FYI, there was no mandate to design for West Seattle or Burien in ST2. There was a mandate to approach shovel-readiness in designs for either Ballard-south or Ballard-east, which has been happening but has thus far not been viewed or disseminated in toto as ST2 implied it should be.

      5. There may not be any there out there, but such places are popular among develpers for tearing down and rebuilding. East Burnside east of 82nd in Portland mighrt have had that same comment made of it, before 1986. However, at least that nowhere was on the way to Gresham.

      6. White Center might fit your speculative bill. Maybe. A little. Eventually.

        South Park is functionally an island — a low-slung, half industrial one — and will never, ever be transformed into the New Urban Hotness.

        Most of West Seattle is single-family homeowners on large-even-by-Seattle-standards plots, with pitchforks in hand, defending against the place ever beginning to resembling something more than a hilltop commuter suburb. This covers about 90% of the peninsula proper, and hems in the supposed “density” at as little as ½ a block in width. The place will never look like Ballard. It won’t even look like the multi-family swaths of the C.D. It’s not high-capacity spine material.

      7. West Seattle has more headroom for growth under existing zoning than a lot of other places in the city.

        I can only imagine they are assuming 20 years worth of infill development before the line even opens.

      8. There’s a reason West Seattle has the worst voting record of anywhere in Seattle proper when it comes to transit and urbanism issues. It’s a freaking suburb, and one especially populated with escapees from urban living.

      9. …And yes, I do have a chip about West Seattle.

        The place is disingenuous, even by Seattle standards. It’s entitled, always jumping to the front of the line for special infrastructural perks and considerations. And, most egregiously, West Seattle is boring!

      10. West Seattle is no more boring than Phinney Ridge, Wedgewood, Maple Leaf, or Shoreline–no art galleries, performance art, or punk rock clubs in those places. Yet the mode of escape for for it increasingly resembles squeezing a watermelon through a straw with no constructive alternatives to enhance egress nor easy connection to other parts of the city.

      11. If only there were a bridge, with bus lanes… ;-0

        Fix the access to those bus lanes on both ends, and you’ve fixed West Seattle transit. The place neither needs — nor can geometrically support — rail.

        Those other places can be boring too, in isolation. That’s why they benefit from being part of a contiguous city. West Seattle is not contiguous, and its residents freaking love that about it. But sometimes you have to take the bad with the good.

      12. D.P.,

        You keep simplifying your comments about the West Seattle Bridge. It has a bus lane not bus lanes. Don’t let your point get lost in a generalization that isn’t true.

      13. I attended the West Seattle Jane’s Walk last weekend, which went from the Admiral water tower (single-family) through the Junction (multifamily) to Edmunds Street and the Fauntleroy-35th “triangle” (car dealerships turning multifamily). The leader said West Seattle has the highest population of any Seattle neighborhood, which surprised even him, but it’s apparently because there are a large number of multifamily buildings that are easy not to notice because they’re scattered around rather than all together. I think it may also have to do with neighborhood boundary size, if “West Seattle” is defined as the entire penninsula but “Columbia City” and “Ballard” are defined as just part of their districts. And also, High Point apparently has a lot of units (I haven’t seen much of it). So anyway, this is an assertion, which may or may not be true. But my own observation was that there’s several square blocks of industrial land in the triangle which is heading toward multifamily, and that will make a pretty large neighborhood.

      14. It’s the broad boundaries, as you suspected. “West Seattle” broadly encompasses 1/7 of the city. It contains a lot of people, but it is enormous. It is, by even Seattle standards, quite sprawling.

        And yes, there’s a not-insignificant quantity of older-style multi-family on the peninsula, but it is largely quarantined in a handful of arbitrary locations and along a few limited corridors. And it’s uniquely unwalkable multi-family, with code-derived building gaps and dull frontage and nods to auto-supremacy everywhere. It’s an anti-walkshed.

        And yet, even Greenwood has more mixed urbanity than that. The C.D. has far more, and the single-family there is palpably denser too.

        M,

        On the West Seattle Bridge, the bus lane stretches end-to-end eastbound, 24/7. Westbound has no similar bottleneck, and is never backed up on the structure.

        On 99, the bus lane bypasses traffic to the very cusp of Pioneer Square, 24/7. In the other direction, the road widens at the same point, and congestion evaporates.

        There are three bottlenecks to be overcome: from Avalon to and from the Bridge, from the Bridge to and from 99, and the last mile into and out of downtown. Fix those things, and you’re set for the foreseeable future. These are significant capital projects, yet they would cost a drop in the bucket next to even the most uselessly-routed de novo rail ROW.

        And I would be remiss not to mention how much better the C is already than the D. Today. In the worst traffic, and with all of its Achilles’ heels. Busy, dense, growing all-hour civically attached Northwest Seattle is in a predicament you can’t even begin to fathom. There is no equivalency.

      15. d.p. pretty much nails it. I’ve driven many long and frustrating trips stuck in all of those bottlenecks.

        I’d also add TSP/routing improvements at Alaska Junction which is insanely frustrating to navigate and adding trips that turnback at Morgan Junction.

        Details:

        Navigating WB Alaska approaching the Junction is a merging / weaving shit show where virtually anything goes. The right lane in front of QFC is straight for buses and right turn for cars but the rules are often ignored by everybody when it backs up. Giving the C Line (all buses for that matter) TSP priority to clear the California/Alaska intersection would help. (In practice, I stop at the 55 stop in front of QFC and let my C Line passengers out if I see a long line of cars waiting at the light to the Junction since I know I won’t make the next light cycle. I let them know I’ll also stop at the Junction but that they can walk there faster) – Rerouting the C Line to turn left (with Priority) and have the stops on Califorina would be a VAST improvement over the current routing that involves two left turns and one right with two stop signs and a signal (Edmunds & California) devoid of priority as far as I can tell.

        Service beyond Morgan Junction rarely has more than a dozen or so passengers, even during my 5pm rush hour trip, so I’d suggest any future headway improvements be turned back at Morgan Junction. (Cutting the 116 may add a few passengers as Downtown to Vashon Ferry times are virtually identical for the two routes. However, Fauntleroy service would need to be backfilled.

      16. 98125 (NE Seattle) has higher population DENSITY than any/all of West Seattle’s zipcodes. As d.p. mentioned above, Lake City should rate rail service long before WS does simply based on that and being on the way from somewhere to somewhere else.

        (as an aside, sort of–I spent a bit of time this past Saturday with an acquaintance whose family has lived in WS for decades, and all of a sudden during an unrelated conversation he started going off “I hate what they’ve done to West Seattle. Hate it. HATE IT!!!! There are too many damn people there now and they have RUINED it.” Now, he’s a bit of a nutter but based on what I’ve seen from community comments maybe not so much of an outlier.)

  2. About three days ago, a bicyclist heading south on 34th Ave NW blew through a Yield sign at NW 62nd. Unfortunately for him, there was a car in the way, with right of way. The car now has a badly dented fender, the bicyclist was taken away with neck brace. So much for Idaho stops, a truly stupid idea. I hope the car owner can recover the damage costs, and that the public purse doesn’t have to pay for the cyclist’s neck.

    1. There’s a difference between “blowing through” a stop or yield sign and treating a stop sign as a yield sign.

      1. Exactly. The bicyclist is at fault. He didn’t yield (I’m assuming it is a he). Stop signs (whether people treat them as Idaho stops or not) mean yield to the other car. Just like you yield to the right on an unmarked intersection.

        As for traffic, generally speaking, bikers pay more attention to the possibility of a collision because they are the ones that will suffer if things go awry. For every story of some idiot that breaks the law on a bike there are a dozen of guys (and gals) who followed the rules of the road only to see a driver cause serious bodily harm. Generally speaking, those drivers don’t do time, even if the accident results in death.

      2. As someone who is frequently a pedestrian on bike routes, the idea of legaiizing bikes running stop signs scares me. Many (not all, but many) cyclists push through a stop sign, at varying speeds, even when pedestrians are present. In some cases, I’ve had cyclists ride inches away from me at high speeds. In general, I think cycling is a better mode for the world than driving, but I also know that when I’m standing at a stop sign, cars are more likely to stop than cycling. This is not a good or safe way to encourage biking.

    2. Why no traffic circles in that part of town? Those wide open and barely-controlled intersections are scary!

    3. Under the Idaho rule, based on your description, the cyclist would clearly be liable. Idaho doesn’t say people on bikes can ignore stop or yield signs, it says they treat stop signs the same as yield signs — yield right of way, stop as needed, proceed only when safe to do so. An accident is prima facie evidence it wasn’t safe to proceed.

      Liability for cycling accidents is generally covered by the personal liability coverage of renter’s or homeowner’s insurance, so the average cyclist probably carries better liability limits for property damage than the average motorist. (Personal liability even on cheap renter’s insurance is commonly $100,000 or more per incident; mandatory property damage coverage for motorists is $10,000.)

      Yes, there are plenty of low-income bike commuters who don’t have renter’s insurance, but there are also plenty of motorists out there without mandatory auto insurance.

    4. In practice, everybody pretty much does this now, including drivers. Making it legal for cyclists simply recognizes the reality that they pose far less of a risk to other road users and that making them put their foot down and STOP doesn’t actually improve overall safety.

      If you turn this stop sign into a de facto Yield sign for cyclists, I doubt you will change the number that blow through it when I’m approaching on Alaska with the ROW. It’s illegal to blow that Stop sign today, it will be illegal to blow it with an Idaho stop rule. But for those of us who like living and follow the spirt of the rules, you give us a legal option to ride through that stop when nobody is around and nobody’s safety is at risk.

  3. Are the labs that UW is moving the same ones that prevented ST from planning a station under The Hub? If so, then why didn’t UW decide back then to move them rather than pushing the station to a worse location and now moving them anyway?

    1. There was never a plan for a station under the HUB. The original alignment was going to be closer to 15th, where the physics labs and new molecular engineering building is. ST moved the alignment east to avoid these buildings. Sensitive equipment in the buildings near the currently planned tunnels will be moved to the molecular engineering building.

      1. Thank goodness there is no station under the HUB. It would be manifestly ridiculous to build a high capacity transit station in the midst of a sea of UW-owned open space.

        I’m no fan of the current station’s siting on the wrong side of the Montlake bridge, but it’s infinitely better than putting a multi-billion dollar gift it in the middle of UW’s private property.

      2. You own the UW. It’s also the overwhelmingly largest destination in the overwhelmingly highest-ridership area outside downtown. A central HUB station would make at least as much sense as a hospital-stadium-and-canoe station way in the furthest possible corner. (There’s a name. Can we call UW Station “Canoe Station”?)

      3. Ah, so we’re talking about a different set of labs in a different set of buildings. That makes more sense. I assume it would’ve cost more to move the labs near 15th than these labs?

      4. Mike Orr: the citizenry owns the University of Washington just as much as the citizenry dictates the urban form of the city that hosts its campus. If the University of Washington wishes to integrate itself with the transportation fabric of its host city, it is welcome to adopt the form of an urban university successfully seen worldwide.

      5. You want to replace the UW campus with a grid of office buildings??? The UW campus is one of the city’s primary historic assets. Its walkability has been proven by hundreds of thousands of students over the decades. There’s a minor problem with giving directions to people (“Go around the left of this building, and the right of the building behind it, and then left side of the fountain…”) but that’s not remotely enough to justify ripping up the Quad and Rainier Vista. We don’t want the entire city to be parklike like that, but the UW is the right size to be such, the way Central Park is different from the rest of Manhattan. (And I don’t think NYU or GWU or Urbana are better university layouts than UW.)

      6. You want to replace the UW campus with a grid of office buildings???

        Nope. It’s just that preserving it as-is is at complete and total odds with siting a multi-million dollar public good underneath and fully surrounded by it. And I’m glad we put Brooklyn Station in the urban environs where it belongs.

      7. A station at the HUB would be much harder to access bike, requiring a significant hill climb up from the Burke Gilman trail, compared to the current station. The current location (while still not ideal) is still orders to magnitude better for 520 transfers than a HUB station.

      8. The HUB is the logical central location for 50,000 students and staff to disembark from. The hospital is the only (weaker) ridership justification for a station in the hinterlands corner. Husky Stadium is *not* a justification because it has only a handful of games per year, no matter what the UW athletic department or accounts or alumni association think. Lots of football fans can walk from the HUB to the stadium, as is shown every game day when they walk from parking lots a mile away.

      9. Sun Dodger Station is not in any way an outpost that serves only a “Hospital”. That “Hospital” is one of the largest Medical Centers in the northwest. Most of those buildings clumped together to form the Health Sciences Complex are classrooms or research labs. Remember there’s an entire medical school and nursing school plus most all of the undergraduate life sciences classes are held there. I’d bet more students use the complex every day than Seattle Central CC. But one of the primary reasons it’s a much better choice than the HUB is because there are tons of bus connections on Pacific and Montlake and it’s an easy walk to the 520 flyer stop. Students, primarily living within walking distance of campus will be a tiny portion of U Link’s ridership. And although the pointy ball games are only a few times a year they are huge events that completely gridlock traffic through this important choke point. Hec Ed has events going on every week. In short, the HUB would be a terrible station location because it’s deserted after about 4-5PM. And it’s off in a corner itself because it was located to be next to what at the time was the primary residence hall location. The two station locations do the best job possible of serving the U District.

      10. I think you’ve got some of the history wrong. The first plan for U-Link would have had U-Link cross the ship canal under Portage Bay with two deep mined stations (like Beacon Hill) at 15th/Pacific and 15th/45th.

        The initial bids for tunnel work came in much higher than expected (well over budget). Sound Transit looked at the alignments a second time with an eye to reduce construction risk. The alternative that emerged was one with a station at Rainier Vista (serving both Stevens Way and the Triangle/stadium/medical center). The UW objected to the tunnel alignments for this alternative as the tunnels would be close to a number of labs.

        The UW suggested moving the station to the stadium parking lot and a more East/North crossing of campus.

        While the original 15th NE ULINK alignment would have been close to the physics building and a number of other UW labs, objections from the UW aren’t what caused ST to change the alignment. Construction cost and risk are the reasons for the alignment change. Objections from the UW caused some changes to the ultimate alignment but weren’t as major as some seem to think. Note that under no alternative I’m aware of would there have been a station at the HUB.

      11. Wednesday, December 10, 2003

        “The University of Washington appears onboard with a new light-rail proposal that would move the rumble of underground trains farther from the instruments of science. After two years of talks, university regents and Sound Transit announced yesterday they are considering a train tunnel on the east fringe of campus near Montlake Boulevard — instead of beneath some science and engineering buildings. University officials have said they were unwilling to allow a route that disrupts research. But recently, the two sides have cultivated “a good, strong working relationship, much more than in the past,” said Ron Sims, the transit-agency chairman and King County executive. Joni Earl, Sound Transit’s chief executive officer, said yesterday the change could add 650 feet of tunnel and increase the potential construction cost by $20 million to $30 million. Sound Transit had considered a tunnel slanting through the middle of campus between the Montlake Cut and 15th Avenue Northeast. But that location threatened to cause vibrations and electromagnetic interference that the UW says would have eliminated some research involving “interferometry,” the study of acoustic and electromagnetic waves. Another tunnel proposal, to the far west of campus, would have required digging beneath soft soils at Portage Bay, where expected costs were higher. Sally Jewell, chairwoman of the university’s Capital Assets Committee, told Sound Transit on Friday that both the new Montlake Boulevard route and the west route are “very promising.””

        http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2001811538_sound10m.html

    2. ST has now built a light rail line that caters to sports fans, the airport, and soon, college students and a high tech company. Hopefully, one day they’ll build a line for the rest of us.

      1. You forgot the Port of Seattle, people who work downtown, and people who live in the Ranier Valley. And I also hope for Sound Transit to build more lines to serve more people.

      2. Sam must be talking about a caricature of Link. I take it regularly to Columbia City and Costco, and whenever I go to Beacon Hill. Martin takes it every time he leaves the valley (I assume). It gives me the option to live in the valley and have a 10-minute frequent train, although I’m not currently exercising that option. None of these are stadiums or airports or colleges or a high tech company.

        It’s like when people say, “Don’t build a waterfront park because it will line the pockets of the adjacent property owners,” or the variant, “The people who want a waterfront park are the adjacent property owners and the construction companies.” What about the rest of us??? So the fact that ordinary people benefit from the park doesn’t matter at all? And the fact that we are citizens who are democratically choosing what kind of city we want to live in? All that is nothing compared to making sure some greedy property owner doesn’t get a cent? Sigh, you wonder how San Francisco ever got its Embarcadero or marine mammal beach.

  4. KIRO radio producer takes trip to SF. Recounts on air his BART subway car being terrorized by a menacing woman demanding money from everyone. The woman even threatened to spit on this producer for not giving her money.

    http://kiroradio.com/listen/9971452/

    His terrifying ordeal starts at 24:00

    1. Clearly we should outlaw public transit to protect people from menaces like this woman.

  5. Just a note on one headline — the feds have not taken toll restrictions off interstates. But the President has proposed it for the first time, which is new.

    1. So clearly if cities were to buy their highest density properties, tear them down, and build parking lots it would result in cheaper housing for all.

  6. Of course the TSA would give SoundTransit a “gold” rating for a security program that holds northbound trains on the Westlake Station platform during security checks while buses stand in line behind them…

  7. Could driverless cars render public transit obsolete?

    In some visions of the future, SDVs usurp today’s commuter car altogether. Why would you drive to the nearest rapid transit rail line and pay for parking when an SDV could whisk you to the station in the morning and then return to your own driveway for the day? Dial it up on your way home, and your autonomous ride could be waiting when you arrive back in the evening, like a suburban soccer mom waiting for her children to be released from school.

    Remove commuters’ demands for street and lot parking, and SDVs could completely change a city’s landscape. Some cities devote a third of their land to parking, so SDVs could free up significant real estate for other uses, from parks to residences to office space. Cutting back on the land used for parking might even reduce real estate costs.

    http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/the-report/could-driverless-cars-render-public-transit-obsolete/#col=35d5db9e-7cec-476a-b540-904362addeed&colnm=Issue+17

    1. What is this thing you call a “station”? Is it not a public transit hub? Why would you be going there if transit was obsolete? The truth buried in the article’s confused hype is that low-density suburbs are the hardest to serve with local buses (meaning it’s not cost-effective to go to every block every 15 minutes) but the easiest to serve with some kind of taxi/carshare/jitney arrangement (meaning they won’t cause gridlock).

      But that does not apply to a city like Seattle, and especially does not apply to a larger city like London. There’s no f*ing way tens of thousands of taxis could take all downtown workers to their jobs or all UW students to their classes — you’d have to build several more street lanes. Of course, it could work in the outer neighborhoods of Seattle or London… I won’t bother getting into precisely where the cutoff would be.

      Also, the article is confusing rapid transit (i.e., metropolitan rail) with high-speed rail (intercity rail). No metropolis is so large that it takes all night to traverse, and even if it did you wouldn’t want to do that every day. Metropolitan rail is for every-day trips. High-speed rail is for twice-a-year trips. (Or once a week at the very most, but only if you’re a highly-paid executive who loves his country house and also loves trains… or if your helicopter is being repaired.)

      1. Yeah, the article is fine (as far as it goes) but the headline is misleading. If there are self driving cars, then taxis become a lot cheaper. So do buses. Meanwhile, the financial advantage of private cars goes away. But a car with one person in it is still more expensive to operate (per person) than a bus. From a traffic perspective, it still takes up a lot more room. Likewise with a train versus a bus. So, I could easily see the following:

        1) Lots more buses and taxis (because of the labor savings).
        2) Way more ride sharing taxi services. The labor/licensing issues go away, and these taxis could actually mean real ride sharing (pick up more than one person per trip). In that way, they work like instant car pool/van pools.
        3) Fewer privately owned cars.

        But buses and trains wouldn’t go away, since they make a lot of sense in lots of different situations. The infrastructure situation doesn’t change, either. Buses and cars are relatively cheap because they leverage the existing roadways (that we’ve paid for). But as a lot of that wears down, it makes sense in many cases to replace those with something more durable — rail.

        Oh, and I think the idea that we will soon have self driving cars is far fetched. Predicting the future of technology is ridiculously hard (e. g. fusion energy is always only ten years away. It might happen soon, but don’t bet on it.

    2. For some reason I have this image of thousands of unoccupied cars circling Ballard looking for the last remaining parking place in front of the movie theatre.

    3. I don’t think so. Too many things have to go “right” for driverless cars to replace all transit.

      I should point out that if parking lots no longer become necessary, as the article suggests, those lots are going to become something else that will increase density – which cars typically don’t handle very well.

  8. I’m dying to see what kind of transit plan Murray has that will preserve Metro routes with the cooperation of the so-called region–a region that appears to not want to play ball with the city when it comes to preserving local transit. Seattle Sounders ticket tax? Seahawk apparel sales tax?

  9. I wrote this (more or less) on the bike blog, but I’m repeating it here because I’m sure folks here know a lot more about the issues involved:

    Now that 2nd Avenue will have a protected bike lane, I think it would make sense to turn second avenue into a combined bus/bike street. Something like this (http://streetmix.net/-/130869). Once you take the cars off of the street, then riders have a lot less to worry about. Buses will only make a handful of turns, and they will do so slowly. Those intersections can be well marked and regulated as well (e. g. separate right or left turn light with a stop light for bikes and pedestrians, but a turn for buses).

    1. Would we be moving buses from 3rd, or is this for routes running in other parts of town?

      Since ST might be looking at 4th instead of 2nd now using 2nd for more new surface infrastructure could make some sense…

    2. I could go either way (second or third avenue). But my point is that a bus/bike street (with two way, separated bike and bus lanes) is the way to go. The bus lanes would be 100% for buses, all day, every day. Mixing the bus lanes and bike lanes on the same street is counter intuitive, but I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be really good after reading some of the comments on the bike blogs. This picture (http://passiveegression.com/workszoom/1428235) looks like hell to me. I would hate to be that biker. But some riders commented that they find that much safer. Those bus drivers know where they are going, and have had their cup of coffee. I’m still not sure if I would want to be that biker, but I understand that point.

      In this case, though, it is the best of both worlds. The lanes are completely separated (none of the bike/bus leap frogging). Buses know where they are going, and know that bikers are coming from both directions. Drivers are often confused downtown, and do stupid things. Buses don’t need to turn at every intersection — there are limited number of routes. That means that special signalling (as I mentioned) would be necessary on only a handful of blocks. All of this could mean fairly fast service on the surface for buses, and a fairly safe route for bikes.

      The losers are drivers, but the only issue I see is delivery vehicles. But even then, I could see a special “parking lane” like so: http://streetmix.net/-/132373 (the street is wide enough). This would have to be clearly marked as such. At worst you might have a delivery guy use the bus lane, but only to pass a parked delivery vehicle. Drivers using the delivery lane would be forced to go one direction and be forced off of it at every intersection that allows a right turn (there would be no interaction between a delivery vehicle and a biker). It would be pretty easy for traffic police to enforce the rules for the “delivery vehicle” lane. Or we can just simplify things and make the delivery folks walk further (or use the alley way).

  10. Gotta love it when Houston manages to install a useful, gridded, merely-frequent-ish-but-at-all-hours-and-on-weekends transit network, while our County overlords lose elections by continuing to insist the inefficient crap we have is the best they can possibly do.

    Wake me up when our low-information civic-circle-jerk leaders get 1/3 of a clue about how to operate a city.

    1. I grew up in Houston and rode the buses there extensively during the year or so before I got my drivers license. I still ride it occasionally when I fly in for visits. It’s a huge improvement over what’s currently there.

      In fact, if this restructuring goes through there, while service cuts happen here, it is entirely conceivable that we could actually see a day where core routes in Houston run more frequently than core routes in Seattle. Absolutely crazy.

    2. I am also astounded by Houston’s proposed definition of frequent service under their proposal:

      “The Draft Reimagined Network Plan features a series of high-frequency routes with buses scheduled to run every 15 minutes or better fifteen hours a day, seven days a week.”

      In the meantime over here, routes like the 5, 16, 32, 40, and 48 are don’t do better than 30 minutes on Sunday.

    3. I’m a loyal STB reader (I’ve read some of the most intelligent writing on the details of bus route design that I’ve seen anywhere here) and the Houston METRO board member who pushed this proposal. Two things make it possible:

      (1) A dedicated sales tax funding source that cover capital and operations. We made it through the recession with no reduction in service. So we know what we can operate in the future.

      (2) A board, staff, and consultant team willing to reconsider everything. The board explicitly said from the beginning that we wanted a blank sheet redesign. This is a whole new set of routes — not a tweak of the current system. There was a strong effort to retain service to where we have riders today, but no effort at all to preserve the current route structure. That let us eliminate a lot of redundancy (like replacing low-frequency routes radiating from Downtown with grid crosstowns) and use those resources for frequency.

      Here’s hoping Seattle ends up with both of those, too.

  11. That article about crime is scary because crime could go up at any minute, really. What was so special about the 1990s~2000s that crime was low? We don’t even know.

  12. The leaded-gasoline correlation has proven a fascinating hypothesis, and has yet to see any substantial refutation. So perhaps if we can avoid intentionally brain-damaging another generation of youngsters…

    1. Friday night, on the 71 northbound, the driver forgot to make the right-hand turn onto 65th, and he slammed on the brakes, leaving part of the bus in the middle of the intersection. All passengers got thrown, but especially a woman who was standing near the front door ready to exit. She got thrown face-first into the windshield of the bus. She could have lost some of her teeth, or possibly could have a concussion, or worse. She ended up in the stairwell, saying she was OK. The driver said he was thinking about something else. The passenger did write down some pertinent information before she departed, and I hope she goes to the doctor. It was really shocking. The driver backed up, in the middle of the 65th and 15th intersection, and went on his way. Weird.

      1. I did that once. It’s an easy mistake when you’re switching between 71/72/73 on every trip. No panic needed; there’s always a way out. I turned left on 67th -> left on Roosevelt -> left on 65th, and no one was the worse for wear except for a couple minutes’ delay. Panicking is never in a bus driver’s best interest…

    2. I’ve seen the southbound 30 twice miss the 55th turn, but fortunately without the dramatic braking or injuries. The first time the driver made a U turn a block further south. The second time the driver seemed at a loss so I told him that the earlier driver had successfully made a U turn and he did it too.

  13. Kudos on the links: these are high quality. Just got done with Licata’s opinion piece…

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