Island Transit 412 & Skagit 90 routes waiting for Sounder Arrival by Chad
Island Transit 412 & Skagit 90 routes waiting for Sounder Arrival by Chad

This is an open thread.

98 Replies to “News Roundup: Building and Burning Bridges”

  1. Mass Transit Magazine has an article this month about the Montreal Metro, titled “From Ice Age to World Class Service”. Among other things I was interested in the commentary about how giving people a say in the design of the new metro cars helps give citizens part ownership of “their metro”. This seems to be taking the normal practice of customer feedback to the next level.

    Sadly, this article is only available in Digital Editions format or print format. I find this format to be really annoying:
    Then click on the feature article to go there.

    1. Let’s hope that the newly procured subway cars — which a significant chunk of the article is about — succeed in maintaining the system’s already-incredibly-brief dwell times. That requires both customer-focused-outcome thinking and engineering expertise.

      Sound Transit could definitely learn a thing or seven from Montreal operations.

      1. Like maybe play “THE DOORS ARE CLOSING” announcement when the doors are still opening? That sure seems to make everyone hop to it in terms of getting on quickly.

  2. Can regular Joes and Josephines use the Hutch stairs? All I see is a couple of photos without subscription.

    1. That was my assumption… I used to work there and from what I remember the location of the stairs isn’t a restricted area.

  3. There willl be a party at and on the new bridge starting noon Sunday, June 29, with the ribbon-cutting at 3 p.m. For one day, the bridge will belong to the pedestrians. The new bridge will feature (narrow, unprotected) bike lanes.

    The path the 60 is switching to Monday is slightly different than before the old bridge closed. The 60 now stays on 15th Ave S, instead of making several turns to slog through the VA parking lot and serve the front door by the emergency room (but this is considered a construction re-route). Also, since the bridge closed, the 60 started serving the Olsen-Meyer Park & Ride next to Arrowhead Gardens seven days a week. During the closure, the 60 also benefited from a stop consolidation.

    This will be the fastest the 60 has ever travelled between South Park and Beacon Hill Station. Indeed, it will probably be noticeably faster in wait+travel time between S. Cloverdale St. and downtown (ca. 30-32 minutes vs. 40 minutes), depending on the new schedule. Consider that before the bridge closed, the 132 ran hourly, and along a slower 1st Ave path. But the 131 also served South Park, running hourly, via Carleston/Corson, and Airport Way. The current 132 is already a significant improvement, but will be eclipsed by the new 60 path in terms of travel time to get anywhere other than locations only served by the 132 or 131.

    The new rapid 60 path may be short-lived, as Metro’s proposed service reduction plan calls for restructuring the 60 to cease running north of Georgetown, and instead go to Othello Station. When the restructure was first proposed, it had the 60 serving Graham St, but now the plan has it serving Swift/Myrtle/Othello St, duplicating the proposed new 107 path and the 36 path.

    It will be interesting to see if the South-Park-to-Beacon-Hill stretch of the 60 becomes much higher ridership between now and February (at the expense of the 132), and then have the rug pulled out.

  4. I have to take issue with calling Dan Savage a monorail “booster”. Yes, he was a supporter, and used much the same George-Carlin’s-seven-words style on that issue as he does on any other issue, but gets to do it since, well, he is the publisher.

    But to imply he lifted a finger to build the monorail, beyond just writing articles full of grade-school vulgarity, gives him too much credit. To imply that the people who actually worked to build the monorail agreed with Dan’s grade-school schtick is also presumptuous. They made many mistakes of their own, but use of vulgarity just wasn’t that high up the list. (Note to future transit boosters: If you want a project completed, you need an agency willing and wanting to build it. Forcing a construction project on an agency is a quick path to years of fighting and accomplishing nothing.)

    It also leaves the wrong impression to characterize Murray as a monorail supporter. He went along with it, pushed some bills, and eventually agreed to the compromise that caused the construction plan to no longer pencil out. But Murray’s actions had a much larger impact on the monorail than any mouthiness by Dan Savage.

    1. I wasn’t intimately involved in the monorail (I was in my early teens) so maybe my definition of a booster is a bit different than yours. My point (based on my understanding) was that monorail supporters/boosters/advocates fought against Sound Transit and the establishment in pushing the monorail forward. I don’t want the Seattle Subway to fall into the same trap.

      1. I sure don’t want to see Seattle Subway make the same mistake either, but somebody needs to pressure ST and the establishment to speed things up. There doesn’t seem to be any urgency by anyone to improve the current situation. Perhaps use the extra ULink money to start Ballard-Seattle-West Seattle engineering or add more BRT features to RapidRide. The new save Metro Plan W doesn’t include any new service despite being the perfect opportunity to improve Seattle bus service. Even if we vote yes in 2016 to build new LRT, at their pace, no new infrastructure will be open until 2028-2030. Especially if there are tunnels involved.

      2. There were people who happened to support the monorail, who opposed Sound Transit. Most of them did little work to try to make the monorail happen. Instead, they were using the monorail like some are using the Hyperlink proposal in California. Most of the people working on pushing the monorail went out of their way not to rub up against Sound Transit, hence the western alignment designed to complement Sound Transit’s plans.

        Regardless, I think Seattle is worse off today because the monorail didn’t get built. There were many reasons it didn’t succeed, starting with NIMBYism driving up the costs. Ultimately, it could never get support in the legislature for its full funding plan, and had to close up shop. Whether Ed Murray used his power to shut it down or was simply not able to corral the votes for the full funding plan is a matter of perspective, and only Murray knows which side he was truly on.

      3. I agree that The Stranger staff strongly supported the monorail. I don’t know how much they knocked heads with Sound Transit though. The purposely chose a route (west side) that Sound Transit wasn’t even considering. Sound Transit folks thought the idea was silly, or stupid (and they had a point). But the biggest failure was in trying to do it as a monorail. The technology is just not a good value. The other problem was in scoping, and estimating the cost. What finally doomed it, though, was an accounting error. Had it not been for that accounting error, and the vote it required, then I think it would have eventually failed because building it was going to be way more expensive than they planned.

        But an elevated line is a reasonable solution for Ballard to (and through) downtown. It would have been expensive, but not as expensive as much of what we have built (or are building). One obvious problem, though, is how it would interact with the existing light rail (a problem that Sound Transit shares — notice how the Ballard to downtown line ends at 2nd and Pine, two blocks from the Westlake station — not much of a better connection than if you built a monorail above there).

        Having the city go it alone, though, is probably the best idea. Ideally we would get support from the rest of the area (like the state). But extending our current light rail line further south from SeaTac before we even know how we are going to reach Ballard shows how screwed up our system is.

      4. “notice how the Ballard to downtown line ends at 2nd and Pine, two blocks from the Westlake station ”

        There would be an underground pedestrian tunnel connecting the mezzanine of Westlake and the new tunnel, which are a block apart. That’s about as good as it gets for a physical transfer with infrastructure built decades apart.

      5. ST at the time appeared to be glacially slow, financially irresponsible, bureaucratic, unaccountable, and desperately unambitious. The feeling back then was that they had spent billions of dollars and amazing numbers of years getting basically nothing done, and that we’d all be dead before they’d come up with anything resembling a useful transit system.

        The monoral project, by contrast, was boldly laying out a real plan for an actual transit system that you could actually imagine using to get around the city in a useful way. They weren’t going on about years of planning processes and whatnot, they were just saying “here’s the plan, let’s do it”.

        A great deal of the monorail support, then, got its energy from a sort of citizen revolt against the Seattle Establishment; it was less about whether the specific monorail plan was the best idea and more about the fact that *we want real transit in our city already goddamn it, get this thing built*.

        In the years since, Sound Transit seems to have gotten their act together, and after they magically got themselves back “on budget” by rewriting the budget and pretending that was the plan all along, they’ve actually seemed to be pretty good about their estimates and money management. So ST actually looks like it might be able to deliver a reasonable city transit system after all, though they keep making mistakes like spacing the stops too far apart.

        In any case, the situation with Seattle Subway and ST is totally different than the relationship between the monorail project and ST. The monorail project happened in an era when basically nobody but the city government believed ST was worth a damn, so we just wanted to basically ignore them and whatever it was they were pissing their money away on, and go get something done for the city of Seattle. But they turned themselves around, and so it looks to me like Seattle Subway accepts that ST is the agency which will build Seattle’s rapid transit system, and their purpose is to push and guide ST so that the system they build is a good one.

      6. “notice how the Ballard to downtown line ends at 2nd and Pine, two blocks from the Westlake station”

        You speak as if there’s one alignment set in stone. There are several concept alternatives, and a future concrete proposal may not exactly resemble any of them. They can’t specify the Westlake coupling until it’s decided whether it will terminate there or continue south in a second tunnel, which is beyond the scope of this study. There will surely be something better than a separate station a block away with no transfer tunnel(s), unless something about the environment makes it impossible. I’m more worried about that at U-District Station than I am about Weslake.

      7. @Mars,

        Well….it wasn’t so much that Seattleites were upset with ST, it had more to do with the fact that ST had a much more difficult political and demographic landscape to deal with. Remember that ST is a regional agency and has to satisfy a much more diverse citizenship made up of suburban Eastsiders along with people from Sno and Peirce Co’s. Many of these people are vehemently anti-tax, anti-government, anti-Seattle and anti-transit. And ST had a car tab fee which PO’d another whole group of people in the burbs.

        This contrasts with the monorail folks who only had to deal with pro-transit, pro-tax, forward thinking, friendly and good-mannered Seattleites. Plus the monorail folks were promising the moon at a totally unrealistically low price and hadn’t actually tried to build anything yet. So, ya, the monorail folks had a very easy task compared to what ST faced – and they still screwed up.

        What did the monorail in was their unrealistic promises. It was doomed the day it passed. The only question after that was how far they were going to get before they hit the wall, and whether or not there would be anything left after they did. In the end they didn’t make it very far, and there wasn’t anything left at the end of the day except a few posters to sell at their going out of business sale.

        That said, I’ve always thought that there should be a way to resurrect the monorail taxing authority and create a new Seattle only sub-area overlay within Seattle. This would allow an acceleration of transit development inside Seattle while still operating within the regional frame work of ST. It should be doable.

      8. @ Mike B — Right. Sorry. I stand corrected. On page 45 of the final report it says “Qualitatively assess the ease of a pedestrian connection between the south end of the corridor and Westlake tunnel station. Assume that corridors that include a tunnel connection to downtown would provide an underground pedestrian connection
        to the Westlake Link station and therefore receive a higher rating than corridors with an at-grade downtown connection, which would require patrons to connect to the Westlake Link station via surface streets”

        @ Mike Orr — Right. The proof is in the pudding. But so far, I think we can all come up with many examples of where Sound Transit has failed in the little things that can make a light rail system really effective. The fact that we are worried about the U-District station shows that. If they had done a fabulous job up to this point, we might relax and assume they would nail that one as well. But as it is, we have to keep on our toes and make sure they do it right. My point is that while the monorail team was hopelessly incompetent, Sound Transit hasn’t been stupendous either. In their defense, a lot of their mistakes were the result of cutting corners, which were the result of political pressure (e. g. we couldn’t risk cost overruns in trying to add a First Hill station). The end result, though, means that a lot of people will be surprised at how weak our system will be. For example, someone trying to get from Roosevelt to Redmond will either have to walk ten minutes to the station at 520 to catch a frequent bus, or deal with (at best) eight minute headways while they take the underground tour of the area. Adding a station at 520 might have cost a bit more, but if they had only put in a flat area (for future enhancement) then we could debate the cost/benefit of that station. As it is, we are left considering new bridges, new on-ramps and the like. Chances are, none of that will ever be built, which means those commuters will just walk — or, more likely, drive.

      9. @RossB

        I’m sorry, what are we so worried about with the U-Dist Station again? I know there was a big debate about the name (UDPA won again), but surely that isn’t a big black eye on ST. And it certainly doesn’t rise to the level of the agregious sins of the ETC and the monorail folks.

        It seems like you are stretching a bit to find things to hold against ST.

      10. @Lazarus: U-District station is constrained on three sides by the UW Tower foundation, the Neptune block buildings, and the historic apartment building on the south, with only five feet leeway. That restricts what kind of transfer statations can be built. A second platform would have to have an opening in the wall and a passage to it. Is there space for this in the station design? Which side would it be on, and how would that impact pedestrian paths to the trains? ST should study this now and verify to us that it has some viable options, and make the target walls so that they can be opened later if necessary. Someone said that if the second station is east-west under 43rd or 45th there would be no problem. ST should confirm that and publish a report on it.

        @RossB: I have no sympathy for that Roosveltite who won’t even look at the map once during ten years and see the travel time estimates. It will probably take an hour from Roosevelt to Redmond. Is that reasonable? Is it necessary to have a faster 520 bus? Is Link bad because it’s slower than a 520 bus between north Seattle and Redmond? Those are debatable. On the other side is the fact that East Link will run every ten minutes or better all day and evening and weekend, with no traffic slowdowns, and a one-seat ride. Buses can’t offer that, and from Roosvelt you’d have an extremely unpleasant transfer at Montlake freeway station with asphalt everywhere and cars whizzing by. Meanwhile that Roosveltite can also take Link every few minutes to UW, Northgate, downtown, Columbia City, SeaTac, Lynnwood, etc — all a one-seat ride for the cost of one. That’s an incredible improvement over the status quo. Being uncompetitive on Redmond is a minor issue. All HCT lines, no matter how fast they are and where they go, are superior for some trip pairs and inferior for others.

      11. If only there was a bus that went from UW station to Redmond.

        There is no reason our hypothetical transit rider would need to walk from UW station if ST and metro service is restructured properly after 2016.

        True the transit connection between link and buses on Pacific could be better but it isn’t as bad as you make it out to be. Moving the bus stops on Pacific closer to the station would do wonders as would providing bus bay and layover space in the huge UW parking lot next to the station.

    2. If you want a project completed, you need an agency willing and wanting to build it. Forcing a construction project on an agency is a quick path to years of fighting and accomplishing nothing.

      And once it does get built, of having it improperly operated so as to discourage future extensions of the unwanted project.

      MAX was not originally wanted by a number of officials in Portland, as “Portland is too small a city for any sort of rail to make sense.” At least that turned out OK in the end.

      WES was also not wanted and could have been done much better, had there been a desire to do so.

    3. Not sure if dragging up the monorail is of any use.

      The goal of the King County taxpayer is singular.

      Build a Regional Rapid Ride transit system.

      To date, one rail system meets that definition: the Sounder.

      It is fast both between stations, and also, and this is key, in entering Seattle (well, unless there’s a BNSF freight with right of way!) It travels far and even links several cities. It has adequate parking at its stations for commuters. And, indeed, it has some of the most developer TOD of all our systems.

      1. No, Sounder is not what I want. It does not get me to Bellevue, Redmond, Ballard, Capitol Hill, UW, Fremont, West Seattle, Beacon Hill, Queen Anne… Notice that many of these “regional” destinations are actually inside Seattle, but slow Seattle traffic makes getting there take almost as long as the far-away places. We need a grade-separated rail system linking all those places.

      2. LINK is partially grade separated and has right of way…but it choose a meadering path and operates at low speed.

        Sounder has both right of way, separation, and short travel times competitive with the car.

        And (on a good day) is not dependent on downtown highway traffic.

      3. Yes, if you’re traveling from one Sounder station to another, Sounder is time-competitive with the car. But what if you’re going to the UW, Ballard, Fremont, West Seattle, Georgetown, or just about anywhere other than downtown? We need something with grade separation and right of way connecting all those places. If you want to call it Sounder, that’s fine – but we need it.

      4. Sounder isn’t even terribly good at serving Downtown: it dumps you off South of Pioneer Square. It’s a five minute transfer to the transit tunnel, and a fifteen minute walk to the heart of downtown. What it gains over Link south of downtown, it throws away by dumping passengers so far to the South of their actual destination. Plus it doesn’t really help at all unless you happen to work 9:00 to 5:00. It’s good for weekend specials to the ballgame, but that’s an even less worthy goal than trying to clip a few minutes off of travel time to the airport.

      5. Sounder is only good at serving the people John Bailo cares about, who are people exactly like himself. While those people are worth serving, and thus South Sounder is worth having, the real growth and demand is to various destinations within the city of Seattle. Urban rail serves these people while simultaneously complementing Sounder’s goals.

        But that’s common sense for everyone except John Bailo.

      6. Even the Bailoman himself goes to the Seattle Symphony when Sounder isn’t running for the return trip. This is what the King County taxpayers want? Sounder lines everywhere with limited schedules? I’m a King County taxpayer and that’s not what I want. And how would you build Sounder where no track exists, such as Seattle to Redmond or SeaTac or Federal Way? You’d condemn whole swaths of houses for the track? You’d build an elevated track or tunnel?

        When suburbanites go to Seattle, do they only go downtown? Or do they also go to Capitol Hill, UW, Greenlake, Fremont, etc? How will they get there from King Street Sounder Station? Should they be condemned to the existing slow buses forever because “the only thing King County taxpayers want is more Sounder lines”?

      7. when you say “King County taxpayer”, are you really saying “non-city-dwelling King County taxpayer”, or something like that? Because this particular King County taxpayer has effectively zero interest in a regional transit system and feels very frustrated by the fact that regional transit priorities form such an enormous obstacle toward getting simple basic ordinary city transit built.

        What I want is the New York subway, translated for Seattle, as soon as possible, and I basically don’t care what it costs, just build the damn thing and raise my taxes as much as you need to raise them to get the job done and stop waiting for me to vote on it. And stop wasting your time on highways, city government, they aren’t getting us anywhere.

        / rant

      8. I’m surprised that there are many urban residents who don’t care about good regional transit and vice versa. In fact, all great transit cities (such as Vancouver, Toronto, Washington DC, Zurich, and many other European/Asian cities) have a good mix of both urban and suburban transit: both crucially complement each other. Traffic congestion in both the city and the suburbs is already crippling, and the entire region needs a fast and frequent rapid transit system to provide an alternative.

        Even though Sounder’s frequency and span of service need to be GREATLY improved (to 30-min frequency all day or better), one thing that it does well that John Bailo correctly identifies is that it actually provides travel times competitive with the automobile between major urban centres. Timed transfers to local buses can easily be implemented once Sounder moves to a clock-face headway, which would give good transit service that bypasses congestion to everyone in the Kent Valley.

        Obviously, suburban rapid transit also requires strong urban transit service. For example, Kent to UW is much slower by transit than by car even when Sounder is running, but this will be remedied somewhat when U-Link opens. Expanding light rail further in the city would have similar effects. Meanwhile, suburban transit expansion will also allow city residents to access any part of the metropolitan area without a car. Thus, city and suburban transit are mutually beneficial and we ought to be improving both.

      9. Josh, I think the problem is that many local politicians and commentators have put urban and regional transit in competition with one another. For example, several times, I’ve seen people saying that a Ballard-UW rail line should not be built because “we need regional transit.” In response to this, people who correctly see the need for urban transit point out the many needs which regional transit won’t serve by itself, sometimes going so far as to (correctly, in my mind) say it’s less important than urban transit.

        I’m not criticizing suburban transit in itself. It definitely has a place. But I would not slow urban transit down one day for its sake. And I don’t even live in Seattle.

      10. Seattle per se has always had excellent transit via its rich bus system.

        The addition of LINK, and its multibillion dollar price tag, has not qualitatively changed much of anything in the transit topology or speed.

        The only innovations in the last 20 years have been the addition of Sounder and the ST Express buses.

        These are qualitative differences, because they put suburbs in transit-reach of centralized locations.

      11. If you think Seattle’s bus system is excellent, you haven’t been riding it at rush hour lately.

        Though I agree Link hasn’t qualitatively changed much yet… when more of it’s open, then we can reevaluate.

      12. Bailo, most of Link hasn’t even opened yet. For the existing line many people do find it more useful than the previous bus service (as can be seen by ridership figures) even if it isn’t all that useful to you personally.

        Now when U-Link, North Link, and East Link, and Lynnwood Link open they will have a dramatic effect on regional mobility. Transit service in those corridors will be much faster than current service (even beating cars in free flow traffic between Northgate and Downtown).

        As for Sounder let’s not forget what a loser North Sounder Service is. While I’d be all for eliminating it entirely, politically I think it would be difficult to walk away from the large sunk cost.

      13. Link will be time-competitive with ST Express and Sounder on downtown-Lynnwood and downtown-Redmond. The only place it’s “meandering and slow” is Rainier Valley and SODO. That happens to be the part John Bailo uses on his way to Kent, which gives him the impression that all of Link is meandering and slow. But… Link is not designed for trips to Kent. It’s designed for trips to Rainier Valley and Des Moines. South King County is so wide one line can’t cover all of it; that’s why the 150 is still running. If Link did serve Kent, it wouldn’t serve SeaTac or Des Moines. The powers that be decided that the airport and the 99 corridor were the highest priority for high-capacity transit, so that’s what they did. If the 150 is someday truncated at Rainier Beach, then you could say Link “serves” Kent indirectly, but it would still be the 150 directly serving it.

      14. As to why Link is “meandering and slow” in Rainier Valley, it’s because it was the first segment. It was harder to get grade-separated transit approved then. Now that it’s running and people can see the benefit of grade-separated transit, now everybody wants it and is more willing to pay for it. But that wasn’t the case in the 90s.

  5. Why oh why won’t the Obama administration support an increase in the gas tax? It’s been hugely devalued by inflation and improved fuel economy. It’s a user fee that increases as vehicle fuel economy decreases, so it has positive environmental and green house gas effects, and is somewhat progressive. It’s still the best proxy for miles traveled. Is their opposition purely politics?

    Replenishing the highway trust fund from corporate taxes is wrong headed.

    1. I would really like to see it reconfigured as a sales tax, so that the amount changes with price. If that had happened, there would be no funds shortage.

    2. It’s a mix of politics and progressive policy. I fully support a gas tax (for the reasons you mentioned) but it is a regressive tax. There are ways around that. One would be to use the money to offset Social Security taxes (which are arguably even more regressive). A lot of this is based on an ignorant public. A lot of people support cap and trade for CO2 sources, but this will, of course, raise gas prices. You could accomplish the same thing by taxing gas (and other fossil fuels) but people would whine more.

      The crazy part is tying the gas tax to highway funds. This implies that drivers are “paying their own way”. Those sorts of arrangements are usually bad for everyone. If a tax is justified, then use it. If not, then don’t. The same goes for spending the money.

  6. I want someone to investigate something for me that I’m curious about. First, what are the demographics of all Rapid Ride passengers? Second, what is the racial breakdown of tickets written for RR fare-evasion. “Hold on a minute, Sam! What would knowing that prove? Your trying to stir something up!” First off, I’m not saying it would prove anything, straw man. Secondly, learn how to spell. It’s “you’re,” not “your.” I just think it would be interesting if the tickets written break down racially to the overall ridership. Or, if one group is disproportionately written tickets, that could suggest a potential problem. For example, if race X account for 15% of total RR passengers, but then it’s found that race X receives 40% of the fare evasion tickets, that could suggest a problem. Maybe race X tends to have higher incidents of poverty, hence, not having money to pay the fare. Or, maybe race X is being profiled. (But how could they be profiled if everyone’s fare on the bus is checked)? Or, maybe it’s something else. But I want someone to look into this for me because I’m curious about it. This kind of story or study should also be done for Link and Sounder.

    1. I’d also be curious about the sexual breakdown of tickets. If 50% of riders are male, and 50% are female, for example, but males receive 85% of the fare evasion tickets, we would have to get to the bottom of why males are getting ticketed more than females.

    2. Those would actually be fantastic numbers to examine and analyze. It’d also be interesting to know who gets off with a warning and who receives a ticket. Although, what happens if the results show that a certain demographic isn’t being targeted but simply skips the fare more often for no other reason than not wanting to pay? (I certainly hope fare inspectors are ticketing 100% of evaders, 100% of the time, no questions asked so the issue is simply evasion.)

      Anecdotally, as a RapidRide E user, I have no comment.

      1. Actually, quite often I see fare inspectors who catch someone who hasn’t paid simply direct the passenger to the farebox to pay their fare. But what message does that send to people? That you can go most of the month not paying the fare, and then the one or so times a month a fare inspector does come into contact with you, the worst that is going to happen is they will ask you to go to the front and pay the fare?

      2. It sends a terrible message and creates the illusion that nobody is in control (think NYC Subway in the 1970’s). They’re being way too nice about it.

    3. “I want someone to investigate something for me that I’m curious about.”

      I think you can. I know you can. I have faith in you, Mr. Sam.

    4. Sam, in a previous post you have mentioned that you are one of the top economists on the country or something like that? Don’t you have a staff that does this type of research for you? You probably have more resources than anyone else here when it comes to FOIA requests to get this type of information for us to see.

  7. A few thoughts:

    a) Good choice of picture. Especially as I’ve recently used all three services.

    b1) I wanted to wait until an open thread to bring this up, but Island Transit is about to start making cutbacks. Critical county connectors are being lost and Island Transit has tapped out its tax authority. Details at

    b2) A strident conservative critic has even said that Island Transit should NEVER charge fares as the deal of the taxes for transit was NO FARES on Island Transit. Read his letter at

    c) Can we please speak with ONE voice on transit issues instead of us Northwestern Washingtonians up here, you Seattle folks having to suffer and so on? I mean this Republican is voting 1 R, 1 D for the State House to get rid BEFORE she gets seniority of a moronic far-right talking head who has no time for transit riders but all the time in the world to run to stage far right.

    1. One way to bake the political cake necessary to get the tax authority to do ST3 and to fix funding for Metro, Community Transit,, and Pierce Transit is to make sure there is something in there to fix funding issues for transit in places like Island or Kisap county. While you would likely need to pas a vote to increase taxes it is at least nice to have the option. Having something for the ferry system as well could win a lot of legislative support.

  8. “moronic far-right talking head” And from a few posts ago, someone called Kemper Freeman an idiot. So what’s the deal here? It’s ok to demonize and call names at “anti-transit” folks, but if people are pro-transit, and someone calls them names, that’s deleted as an ad hom attack?

    1. AverageJoe is the one who made that comment, and says he is a Republican, so it sounds to me like it is just more internal party politics.

      1. I live in Oregon.

        Several years ago the Republican party here nearly had to file for bankruptcy protections due to mishandling of funds.

        The head of the Oregon Republican party has sent out notices asking for people to send him their urine samples.

        The Oregon Transformation Project (a tea party affiliated group funded by a timber baron) has insisted that cities save money by sending annual multiple copies of letters opposing “High Capaicty Transit in any form” to TriMet, the State of Oregon, and various other offices. This measure has already passed in Tigard.

        The Tea Party affiliated timber baron in the previous paragraph is funding his girlfriend’s Republican congressional campaign, but has also filed a restraining order against her.

        Then, people write letters to the newspaper complaining that the Democrats have a monopoly on power here – because nobody here is willing to vote for the Republicans any more.

        So, I’m not sure that getting ugly early, often and the mostest is necessarily the key to success, but whatever works in Skagit and Island Counties to keep transit operating there.

  9. Mr. Large, I’m pretty sure that Nelson Mandela would have mentioned how fast a huge African city cleared effective bus-only lanes during a recent soccer tournament.

    And Mr. Savage, your general approach proves at least two things:

    One, you don’t turn a multibillion dollar engineering problem over to a cult headed by a whole committee of boosters who think transit engineers are lying reactionaries.

    And two: The Seattle Stranger lost its edge when science finally discovered that since our species lost its tails and couldn’t live in trees anymore, there hasn’t been anything new about sex.

    However, the primal instincts to bite, screech, and discuss things by throwing excrement remain solidly unchanged.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Yes. There from my recollection there certainly was a level of disregard for the technical details… which taken together can quickly make or break a project.

      1. While there should have been a stronger regard for technical details for putting together the monorail, some of us couldn’t help but support what amounted to be an act of desperation and frustration when faced with the reactionary ostrich intransigence from a Seattle/King County/State political establishment that didn’t want to do a damn thing to improve public transportation in a metropolitan area with a rapidly growing population and worsening traffic.

  10. And the late South African chief of state would also have started by pointing out that whatever the merits of the project, nothing passes if nobody votes.


    1. …and would have successfully lobbied for international boycotts of Seattle’s best gold mining operations until progress was made.

      1. Great idea, come to think of it. But how do we do an international boycott of rent and housing prices?


  11. One of the changes I like best in the service reduction proposals is the truncation of route 8 back to its original Queen Anne to Capitol Hill routing.

    But what would people think of extending the new 8 on both ends? From Capitol Hill it could head east to Madison Park and replace the 11. Would Madison Park riders be willing to trade 15 minute headways to Capitol Hill and Queen Anne on the 8 in exchange for 30 minute headways to downtown on the 11?

    And, from the 8’s current Uptown terminal, how about extending the 8 to Ballard? Metro could then make the D-Line faster by moving the D-Line off of the QA deviation, remove a couple of RR stops on 15th West (the 8 would make all local stops on 15th West) and truncate the 32 in Magnolia instead of Uptown. Looking at existing timetables, it appears like the 8 would take about 32-37 minutes to journey from Capitol Hill to Ballard and the D-Line would trim about 5 minutes on each trip with these changes.

    1. Route 8 is going to be an important feeder to Link when the Capitol Hill station opens. I’d think the Madison Park and Madison Valley people would like a more frequent connection to Link.

    2. Route 8 extensions are highly problematic because there’s no way to make the 8 reliable for much of the day. Denny is just too screwed up.

      Once East Link is built, Madison Valley residents will probably want to take the bus south and access Link at Rainier, rather than trudging block by block through Capitol Hill. But southbound 8s that have come through Denny are a complete crapshoot. Thus the wish to split the 8 (and, in proposals not featuring huge cuts, to keep routing on MLK through Madison Valley).

    3. That is a natural line, and I believe parts of it have appeared among Metro’s ideas, especially the west part. However, it’s going to be a hard sell to have neither a Madison-Pine route nor a Madison-Madison route, because more people are probably going to downtown or the Pike-Pine area than are going to Seattle Center, and vice-versa for people going east. This is a case where a grid may look better on paper than in reality, especially with so many single-family blocks around that act as destination-less holes in the grid.

  12. Some fast but still overdue reflection on what I just wrote- especially the instinct from beyond our monkey days for emotions to suddenly blow out all the circuits of reason.

    Dan Savage is a brave man and a talented writer- whose reaction to the end of the monorail project was exactly the same as my gut reaction to his choice of words- words written over a decade ago.

    American English is so weak for insult that if it weren’t for bleeps, the world wouldn’t hear it at all. A few short words, mostly out of very old German, from a time when all the real fighting words were about religion.

    In most languages, you can commit suicide in one sentence, by adversary who has to kill you. And any 19th century English parliamentary back-bencher could verbally cut your throat so slick your head wouldn’t fall of ’til you shook it. Check Wikipedia for “on the gallows or of the pox.” Only three letters- but before penicillin, reality rendering perversion tame.

    However, main point here is about revulsion overriding my real sentiments on main subject. Dominic Holden gets credit for two very timely pieces lately, especially last one on the waterfront tunnel. Could be argued that monorail’s cult had the excuse of being amateurs, and results less damaging.

    But after all these years, for both efforts, the main task at hand is still the same: step one toward the transit west corridor needs. Article should have finished, and should be followed by, a plan for immediate action.

    What’s left of the viaduct has got to come down right now. Waterfront rebuild has got shift to give transit priority over car traffic right now. If need be, at least starting on Seattle’s dime until the Legislature wises up. Exactly like the rest of this region’s -and State’s-only full bore transit system.

    If I don’t get to speak this afternoon, please somebody else say it, with one five letter word and one three.

    Mark Dublin

  13. So I’ve been putting this together:

    It’s far from being finished (It’s supposed to cover the greater part of Puget Sound, like my old Scribblemaps project), and relies on several assumptions, but what do you guys think?

    1. Looks like fun! A few initial thoughts:

      1) I don’t think I’d have the patience to put anything that big together in Transitmix. Well done!
      2) While I’m not taking the TransitMix estimate at face value this looks to me like the parts of it that are fully developed would require double to triple the Metro budget. I see a lot of ideas from my +33% plan, but with way more service and secondary routes.
      3) Quite a few of your routes use streets that aren’t suitable for buses (a particularly bad offender is your 19, but there are lots of others). Designing a network would be much easier if it weren’t for the high number of our streets that are impassable to buses, even 35-footers…
      4) Some routes are going to be very prone to delays because they are both long and routed through known choke points.

      1. So some answers:

        1) You haven’t even really begun to see my Transit plan, I’m planning on covering everything between Bellingham and Kelso. And with this, I can show far more than what Scribblemaps would let me show when I tried to do something similar with that program.

        2) I am cribbing a lot of ideas from you and aleks and also Bellvue’s transit plan, but there’s also many ideas here that are throughly my own, such as the 10, 27, and 53.

        3) I am assuming many transportation improvements in this scenario, which take place 2031. I call it “The Happy Compromise” because Seattle and Suburbs managed to come together and come up with a reasonable compromise that allowed both Seattle and the suburbs to get what they wanted (Well, almost everything).

        4) I am aware of that, and also in many areas the map won’t let me plot out the route I actually want to put the bus down. For instance, there’s no function that allows me to assume the existence of ROW where is none (or an existing ROW is closed for rebuilding), nor will it allow me to go the wrong way on a street, and nor does it allow me to show different inbound and outbound routings. But in some areas I’m doing it because I honestly feel it’s better that way, and makes things more legible overall.

        5) On the 47, I was assuming one-way routing on neighboring streets east of Summit, because I knew those streets were really narrow when I was doing my research. (Remember, I live in San Francisco)

        6) On budget, I am assuming some new taxes supporting both urban and suburban bus services. This scenario’s ST3 and ST4 (In 2016 and 2024, respectively) provided a massive jolt to reorganize the regions Transit service. (Though ST4 did way more, because ST3 was so capital intensive)

        7) On what capital projects have been built in this scenario, they are: Spine North (Lynwood-Everett), Spine-South (Federal Way-Tacoma), North Seattle Link (Ballard-UW, option A4 modified), West Link (Fremont-Morgan Junction, Option D modified on the north end, going through downtown on a 4th Ave subway shared with buses (Though there aren’t that many buses anymore), and serving Youngstown on the south end), in-fill stops on Central Link at North Capitol Hill, Convention Center, Graham, Boeing Industrial Road (making the case why it’s awesome), and Interurban/133rd, East Link extension to Redmond TC, East Link 2 between Kirkland and Issquah via DT Bellevue, BRT on I-405 and SR-520, Sounder South extension to Dupont, Sounder North extension to Arlington (With Sounder South having 30 Round Trips and Sounder North having 13), additional Cross-sound Ferry Service as well as several Streetcar projects in Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Bremerton, Bellingham, and a few other places.

    2. I’m intrigued by your idea for the 47. I wonder though if using the Lakeview Blvd over I-5 and getting downtown via SLU might be a more unique and high-ridership alternative routing? Then again this all assumes that buses can make it down Roy Street which I’m not sure they can.

      1. Roy wouldn’t be passable without significant rework. That rework might well be worth it, given how appealing a SLU-Summit-CHS routing is. But it would for sure run into local opposition, in addition to costing money.

    3. I’ve made a small Transitmix map of Everett Transit, with the ST Express routes serving Everett Station and two Swift lines included:

      (Disclaimer: Headways may not be completely accurate. I blame ET’s terrible online schedules)

    4. In Magnolia:

      I’m not sure that you could run the new 19 up Dravus that way without making it a trolley bus route. That is a quite steep hill.

      The problem with the route that crosses the Ballard Bridge and then go into Magnolia is that the Ballard Bridge is horribly congested in the peak direction. If I could wave a magic wand at that thing, one lane would go away, and be converted to a directional carpool + bus lane. So, in the morning rush you would have 2 lanes cars + one lane HOV going south, and one lane for everything going north. Then, this gets reversed in the afternoon so it is 2 lanes cars + one lane HOV going north plus one lane for everything going south. It is far from an ideal solution but I don’t know what else to do there.

      In any event, anything going into Magnolia over that bridge needs to be high enough frequency so that when stuff gets delayed due to the traffic mess, it doesn’t really matter because the frequency is there: you just get a bus that should have gone by much earlier but got stuck.

      This mess on the Ballard Bridge is one of the reasons why I think something really needs to be done as far as working with the BNSF on making Sounder somewhat more useful than its current awfulness. It is the only bridge over ship canal that isn’t chocked up in some way or another during peak periods. The line is double tracked for the entire distance, and there is enough space to make the main line four tracks wide by the grain elevator (they have two storage tracks that have not been used in a long time) and through Interbay. The only grade crossing of the line between the Ship Canal and King Street is at the Sculpture Garden. You would want to add a couple of stations, say at Dravus and maybe the new pedestrian bridge just north of the Sculpture Garden. Maybe one or two others. Get a Stadler GTW or two (these have been allowed to operate in mixed traffic by DCTA in Texas, so there is precedent for operating those on a USA main line). Use an electrified version (Dallas DART has a light rail line that crosses a BNSF line at grade, and the overhead does clear double stack containers there so overhead clearance should not be an issue).

      With something like that operating as a core higher speed line than is possible in the mess on 15th through Interbay, stuff like your proposed #19 and a few other of your proposed routes could act as feeders from Magnolia and Queen Anne. There needs to be something better / faster through there than what is happening on the RapidRide, and despite the various criticisms of RapidRide the real problem in this case isn’t RapidRide itself but the horrible mess that happens twice every weekday on the Ballard Bridge. The only way to avoid it is, well, to avoid it. The Fremont Bridge is congested as well, and really on the wrong corridor.

      There’s only one alternative bridge in the area right now, and the bad news is that it has rails on it and is owned by the BNSF.

      1. I’ll reply by paragraph:

        1) I took at things on google maps, and while think that the Streets are steep and narrow, I still the 19 is doable, I mean San Francisco MUNI regularly operates 40-foot Diesels on the 67-Bernal Heights, a route that similarly narrow streets and intense grades as the line I’m proposing. I should point, the 19 was originally an idea to give an additional “exit point” off the hill for Queen Anne service, and I originally saw it as an extension of the 3, but saw that I was giving what I felt to be far too much service to that area.

        2) The Line across the Ballard Bridge (The 62) was actually proposed (in a modified form that goes all the way downtown) by King County in one of their recent shake-ups, and David L also ran with the idea in his proposal. What I did to make it my own was assume that Light Rail had been built between Fremont and Downtown And Ballard and UW. With this assumption, the leg south of Seattle Center was no longer necessary, thus the 62 terminates there. However, the Fremont-Downtown LRT just opened in the scenario, and not all of the service changes associated with have gone through yet: Once the Jackson St Streetcar Extension opens, the 13 will be similarly cut South of Seattle Center.

        3) About Sounder in general, it has actually been one of the focuses on ST4. By 2030, Sound Transit’s plan is to do to Sounder South what the Bay Area is planning on doing to Caltrain. The 578 (just added) and 590 (will be added, the 594 doesn’t exist anymore) are scheduled to be cut once frequencies on Sounder South go up to 30-minutes off peak, though that won’t happen until Electrification starts (Which is still in the study phase). As for Sounder North, Sound Transit is trying to do that corridor right, using it’s newfound agency co-ordinating ability to better arrange Ferry-to-Train transfers, while spending lots of capital dollars on reinforcing the coast. While the two services remain separate, there’s been some effort to make their services overlap, by extending all Sounder South trips to Interbay (Ballard eventually, but it hasn’t finished it’s permanent Sounder station yet), and all Sounder North trips to Tukwila.

      2. I can confirm with certainty that Dravus is not passable by standard coaches either in Magnolia or in West Queen Anne. The steepness isn’t the only problem; there are three others. First, many of the approach and breakover angles are too abrupt for coaches. Second, on the Magnolia side, there is a narrower portion near the top where uphill buses will have to take a portion of the opposite lane in a location where they are invisible to downhill traffic until possibly too late for it to stop. Third, on the Queen Anne side and also on the Magnolia side west of 28th, a couple of the turns are too sharp. The 19, as drawn, would require major and invasive street reconstruction on both sides for a crosstown route that would attract relatively few riders.

        If Dravus were passable, it would be the most natural way for a crosstown route to enter Magnolia, and both my +0 and +33 Magnolia networks would look a lot more comprehensible. But such is the nature of running buses in Seattle.

        I also don’t think that the Ballard Bridge, if accessed via Leary, is quite as bad as Glenn makes out. There is a reliable wait of a few minutes. You can (and Metro does) schedule around that. It makes service slower, but doesn’t prevent a line from being reliable.

      3. I’ve been stuck on the 31 a few times in traffic backed up in that area, and at least that doesn’t have to actually cross the bridge there. On the other hand, that new 62 would be really nice the rest of the time.

      4. The 31 suffers worse issues there than the buses that actually cross the bridge. Its problems would affect FDW’s 62 (which is the same as my FNP’s 24 without the downtown part) northbound, but not southbound. Fortunately, reliability matters a whole lot less northbound than it does southbound for that route, as long as there’s good layover time at the Loyal Heights terminal.

  14. How/when did they decide that Mercer Island would be the bus-rail interchange point? I guess I can understand it because it is slightly faster for trips into Seattle than a connection at South Bellevue, but the reverse is true for trips from Issaquah to Downtown Bellevue, Overlake, Kirkland, Bothell, Renton, SeaTac/Airport. Also, if the 554 is also truncated at Mercer Island, this would preclude the possibility of replacing the 554 with something like an all-day 556 (U-District-Bellevue-South Bellevue-Issaquah) as was proposed in the Bellevue Transit Master Plan.

    1. Reading over the details, it seems the plan’s primarily talking about the I-90 peak expresses. The 554 and the Renton expresses are planned to call at South Bellevue and continue on to downtown Bellevue; they specifically mentioned the Bellevue TMP.

    2. Mercer Island to the Eastside is a lot easier to serve reliably in the peaks than is South Bellevue.

      Merging from the Eastgate HOV on ramp to the I-405 off ramp is illegal; merging to Bellevue Way is difficult. It’s not uncommon for Eastgate Way to back up for 3 light cycles in the pm peak: my experience was that I had to allow 15 minutes to drive from the Eastgate P&R to the JCC on Mercer Island to pick up the kids at daycare. The Bellevue Way on ramp often backs up because of exiting traffic: both from I-405 South onto Coal Creek Parkway, and from I-90 East to Richards Road/Factoria Blvd, and deposits you on the right side of the Freeway

      In the morning peak, it’s not uncommon to see 10+ people get off incoming westbound buses at the Eastgate freeway stop, most of whom seem to be headed to Bellevue College, so skipping the Eastgate stop, at least in the morning, is not a great option, and in any case, doing so, simply means that you are planning to leave the HOV lanes sooner.

      Barring the 554, which plans seem to suggest will head to S. Bellevue, all the buses in question are peak only buses explicitly designed primarily to serve peak volume commutes between the Eastside and downtown Seattle. [okay, some 212 and the 217 are reverse peak buses, but they don’t usefully serve downtown Bellevue today — that’s the 550’s job.]

    3. That makes the 554 the potential precursor/replacement for Issaquah – Bellevue Link. (And it could theoretically continue to Totem Lake.) It also raises the question of whether the 555/556 still need to go to Issaquah or could be truncated in Bellevue.

      1. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ran the rerouted 554 over the 520 bridge. to replace the 555/556.

    4. It seems a shame to me that the 80th Avenue transit station was so quickly dismissed. I’m not happy with the U-turns, but it’s better than the wander through downtown in scenario 2. The City Council seems concerned with EMT access in scenario 3, and I suspect they would raise similar concerns for the 80th avenue transit station. There’s a lot to like about scenario 4, but I suspect that the property takings, noise mitigation near the roundabout, and the pedestrian transfer issues will end up as show stoppers.

      1. To me, scenario 2 seems like the best option. It allows for the shortest distance transfers between bus/LRT in both directions without any street crossings for the I-90 buses. The path the buses take is straightforward and it has the added advantage of being less costly than scenarios 3&4.

  15. Is Tier 2 planning under way for the Center City streetcar? What’s the schedule going forward?

      1. Thanks-that’s a treasure trove of information. They’re much further along than I realized…things are really firming up.

  16. Adam, your explanation of the third link (Seattle isn’t the only city that is growing faster than its suburbs) is incorrect. Your statement should be Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue isn’t the only city…

    Primary cities in this study are defined as the region’s major city (Seattle) with up to two additional cities with populations exceeding 100K. If you look at the data set ( you’ll see that in this region, the Primary Cities include Tacoma and Bellevue.

    So this data doesn’t show that Seattle is growing faster than the suburbs. It shows that Seattle and two suburbs are growing faster than the exurbs. You can’t limit your definition of “city” to just include Seattle.

  17. WSDOT moved the goalposts again.
    New link on sr520 page shows the HOV plan from Redmond to I-405.
    “The existing outside HOV lanes east of I-405 will remain in place until traffic patterns and transportation planning efforts show a change is needed.”

    The accompanying map shows that westbound buses approaching I405 will continue to sit in traffic in the outside lanes – along with the 50-60% of vehicle exiting onto I405.

    “East of I-405: Operations will remain the same. Buses and carpools will travel in the outside lane, with a 2-person minimum occupancy requirement for carpools.”
    So, no HOV lane from 51st to Redmond at all, and the 545 remains unusable during the PM peak because of the I405 approach.

    The original commitment was just to restripe the roadway.
    Would really like to know what caused WSDOT to change the commitment, and why.

    1. Fortunately if your driver is with it this is no big deal in either direction. Westbound, move over to the left lane somewhere around or just before 124th. Most of the time the left lane is clear sailing in this area — even when there is a major backup to reach I-405. Eastbound, move over anytime you like after clearing the I-405 interchange.

    2. Holy crap. Why? Their own document shows ~50% of 520 traffic exits at I-405 and that 300 buses per day don’t. The plan was always to move to center HOV lanes. What rationale could there possibly be not to do this?

    3. Today, westbound buses typically get in the left around 130th St., just before the HOV lane ends. I see no reason why they wouldn’t keep doing this. In fact, even before the construction, when HOV lane after 405 was on the right, buses still used the left lane to get across 405, then cut back over to the right shortly afterward.

      That said, during the afternoon peak, even the left lane is often not smooth sailing. It is not uncommon for the bus to take 20 minutes or more to get from 124th Ave. to 108th Ave., a stretch of road that takes as little as 1 minute without traffic.

      My guess is that the what is actually happening is that the folks inside WSDOT are more concerned about drivers turning onto 405 south bypassing congestion headed into Seattle (via an exit-only lane to the off-ramp to 405) than allowing buses to bypass such congestion. In any case, I can only hope that the left-side 520 HOV lane will at least pick up right at 405, rather than 108th. It’s only a 1/4 mile difference, but it’s a 1/4 mile stretch where general purpose traffic routinely crawls at 2 mph.

      1. A center HOV lane, which the 542/545 buses can access as soon as the enter back at NE 40th would consistently bypass the backup at 405. That is how the project was designed – and this was promoted to the public and probably the legislature as a bus & HOV project from Evergreen Point to SR-202. The area near the 405 interchange is a major bottleneck for transit operation, at least on weekday afternoons. And they seem to be giving up that feature without any public comment. I’m sure it goes against what is in the EIS for the project.

      2. Hmm…
        No EIS for Medina to SR202.
        Our findings are described in the finding of no significant impact (FONSI), issued on May 21, 2010.

        WRT to transit:

        The doc says…
        “How will the completed project affect transit
        Relocating the HOV lane to the inside of the SR 520 corridor
        between Medina and SR 202 will allow carpools and buses to
        reliably bypass congestion. HOV lane operations and safety
        will also improve as general-purpose drivers no longer need
        to merge across the lane to access ramps.
        • Travel time savings will be the greatest for westbound
        buses and carpools during the afternoon peak period,
        which is when the westbound general-purpose lanes will
        be congested as far east as the NE 40th/51st Street
        interchange in Redmond.
        HOV travel times between I-5 and SR 202 are expected to
        reliably average 20 minutes westbound and 15 minutes

        It’ll be better than today, but 20 minutes isn’t likely.
        Wonder when Metro and SoundTransit were informed.

  18. So to continue my conversation with David:

    -On the 19, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. (Though I do think narrow-profile 30-foot buses could operate on that line.)

    And about Glenn’s the 62 over Ballard Bridge:

    -Ultimately, the Ballard Bridge isn’t going to be that big of a deal, because most of the ridership going Southbound will be headed for the nearest Link station (There’s one on 15th Ave NW north of the Ballard Bridge (at either Leary or Market, haven’t decided) and there’s one Seattle Center), because of this, there won’t actually be a ton of people going over the Ballard Bridge itself Southbound in the peak, though more so in the reverse peak as people try to go out of direction in order to get a seat.

    So any other comments on my map so far?

    1. I’m interested in the project but I don’t have any specific comments now. I tend to get overwhelmed with online maps and so many routes at once; I do better with text descriptions and a few routes at a time. Like with Metro’s mass of cuts, it took me a week or two to have any concrete comments. So if you talk more about your ideas over the next couple weeks, and what you think are improvements and why, I’d be more likely to have input.

      1. I was actually thinking of doing exactly that. With tomorrow’s thread (and each open thread thereafter) I’ll break things down more, starting from the downtown and going out as I go.

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