52 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Race the Tube”

      1. Maybe make it an annual event, call it the SLUT Sofa Shove, and make it sorta like the Silverton Davenport Races?

        That gives the racers a proper handicap?

      1. You can also race transit for much further distances. Ballard to Capitol Hill, U-district to Northgate, and Green Lake to Ballard are all trips that I have run with less door-to-door time than the best all-day-network transit alternative.

        I’m also pretty sure you could get from Redmond Transit to Bellevue Square on a weekend faster by riding the 545 to Yarrow Point and running it out from there on foot vs. riding the B-line all the way. But I’m yet to set up an experiment to actually confirm this. The outcome would probably depend on how fast of a runner you are.

    1. Cool is giving your lunch to a homeless person, or giving up your seat for an elderly person. This is a narcissist wasting time to accomplish something that means absolutely nothing.

    2. I challenge someone to beat the Portland Streetcar from Riverplace to the OHSU tram. It actually moves pretty fast in that section.

  1. The resignation/retiring of Island Transit’s CEO is big news. Hopefully their moribund board can get the agency fixed up.

  2. Just getting around to reading the Stranger’ article on Boondoggles here in Seattle – Our favorite Big Dig.
    http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2014/09/18/seattle-tunnel-tops-highway-boondoggles-list
    or as any self respecting sports town would chant “We’re #1, we’re #1…”
    The 23% drop in traffic and 42% increase in transit sounds quite impressive.
    Looking back 15 years to 1999 when the transit was really ramping up construction, commuter rail came on-line and regional buses were filling the HOV lanes, it caused me to see if the 42% number was something to brag about.
    Well, it turns out that in the last 15 years, the Seattle Urban Growth Area grew 75% from 1.7 to 3 million residents, and the four transit agencies combined unlinked trips grew by only half that number – 38% from 122m annual trips to 169m. (FTA Nat’l database).
    Transit is loosing ground every year in the great ‘Mode Shift’ war. Our planet deserves better from us.

    1. …and the ‘Shoddy Journalism Award’ goes to the SLOG on their claim of transit gaining 42% in the region since ??.
      If you read the report, and follow footnote 39, the 42% number is only part of the Alaska Way Viaduct corridor mitigation money, not regionwide since 2005 as implied.

    2. What boundaries are you using to define the “Seattle Urban Growth Area”? The Seattle Metropolitan Area (King, Pierce and Snohomish counties) passed the 1.7 million residents level in the late 1960s when transit barely existed in most of King County (outside of Seattle) and Snohomish County and rural Pierce County.

      1. Can you show your work please, or provide a source? The three counties that compose the metro are have grown a total of just over 20% since 1999. I find it difficult to believe there’s a way to carve the boundaries to identify an area where that growth has been 75%, because that would mean the rest of the three counties must have depopulated quite dramatically, which I’m fairly certain has not been the case.

      2. Glad to.
        ST population is here for 1999, (which captures the four transit agencies ST, MT, PT, CT, with the exception of the fringe areas)
        http://www.ntdprogram.gov/ntdprogram/pubs/profiles/1999/agency_profiles/0040.pdf
        and current ST for 2012
        http://www.ntdprogram.gov/ntdprogram/pubs/profiles/2012/agency_profiles/0040.pdf
        (not sure why 2013 won’t come up, and the service area population is slightly less than the UZA (Urganized Area)
        Did I miss something? Population is outpacing Transit boardings. No?

      3. Look at the comparison of the size of the urbanized area in the 2 reports–it goes from 588 sq. mi. in 1990 to 1,010 sq. mi. in 2000. Not exactly an equivalent comparison.

      4. The service area population goes from 2.6 million in the first link to 2.78 million in the second. Obviously, a major expansion in the definition of “urbanized area” makes that a useless comparison across time, which comports with common sense, since we all know, presumably, that the area’s population has been growing between 1-2% a year for decades now, not 7.5% a year, an absurdly implausible rate of growth for a city in the developed world (indeed, such a growth rate would virtually tie Seattle with Karachi for the fastest growing city in the world, ahead of all Chinese cities. Doesn’t remotely pass the smell test) . I’m not sure why you’d go to the non-stable “urbanized” area rather than the service area in the first place, even if was stable over time.

      5. Ouch! I missed that.
        I give myself the ‘Shoddy Research Award’ for the morning.
        Somehow the sniff test didn’t click at 8am this morning. Sorry

  3. I’ve been following a podcast series by Oregon Public Broadcasting on their Think Out Loud program about the working poor in Oregon.

    Bend has only about 1% vacancy rate in its rentals, so that working people there have a terrible time meeting the very restrictive rental policies in place. Transit is very sparse, so that living elsewhere is not easy and requires car ownership.

    So, affordable living isn’t a struggle just in urban areas.

    1. Yeah, it’s a struggle any place that’s growing. New housing is rarely affordable housing. Exceptions: when it’s built cheaply, and when there’s so much housing demand that even new construction can be as affordable as existing buildings.

      Some things are easier in a smaller city than a big one — most of the jobs are within a reasonable bike ride of most of the housing, for one thing, even if density isn’t particularly high!

  4. Just a random thought. I know that public transit vehicles always stop at railroad tracks for funding purposes (I think there is an RCW that requires them to do that). But the question is still why? Is it at all noticeably more safe to stop on the tracks when there is no train coming? Has that ever stopped any accidents?

    1. Just a random thought. I know that public transit vehicles always stop at railroad tracks for funding purposes (I think there is an RCW that requires them to do that).

      What do you mean, “for funding purposes”? If the law requires it, fine, but what does that have to do with funding?

      1. I think the law requires it for funding, like state grants or something. I don’t remember exactly what it was.

      2. Failing to stop costs money when the operator’s CDL is suspended, and the bus agency has to fill in for a few months until the operator can get his CDL back, or has to hire someone to replace the fired operator.

    2. Many states have that in order for the commercial driver to look in both directions to make sure that there’s no train coming. It goes back to the time when railroad crossing signals were a courtesy and not often properly maintained. Indeed the private railroads still maintain the bells and lights, not local jurisdictions. Since it takes longer for a bus to cross the tracks than a regular passenger vehicle, it’s really to protect the passengers in the bus.

    3. It became law a few years back. School buses and para transit vehicles have always stopped there but now all revenue bus service in Washington (including greyhound) has to stop at all crossings unless marked “exempt” which marks inactive lines.

      1. The car wouldn’t make it up the stairs to begin with, unless it has Dalek hover technology. Due to that constraint, the car would still lose, even with a trebuchet.

  5. Thinking out loud here–I know that the point of the 71-73X routes is to be faster than the 66 and 70, but I have an idea for a change. How does the idea of having southbound Expresses travelling via Eastlake from the U-District serve the stop at Stewart & Yale. This could potentially become the 71-73 Eastlake Expresses’ new first stop in Downtown Seattle, before CPS–the 255 does it all the time (and sometimes the 41), so why can’t the 71-73X’s? The Expresses would still continue to make no stops on Eastlake itself.

    Likewise, northbound Eastlake Expresses’ last downtown stop would be Howell & Yale, after which they would continue to Campus Parkway non-stop.

    How does that sound?

    1. The 71-73X buses are crowded enough and late enough as it is, and I don’t think it’s worth making things worse just to serve one more stop that receives only moderate use, at best. There really isn’t much around there, and its walkshed will be permanently limited by I-5.

      Furthermore, the 71-73 have very erratic service patterns. The buses are express some times, local others. When running in express mode, the I-5 express lanes are open sometimes, closed others. The express lanes can never be open in two directions at once. When the 71-73 are in local mode, they cannot stop at Stewart and Denny because they go down Fairview instead of Eastlake. When in express mode with the express lanes open, the direct connection between the express lanes and Convention Place Station saves buses a huge amount of time by avoiding all the stoplights and traffic getting on or off the freeway.

      Adding service to a stop only during the hours that the buses are running express mode with the express closed would produce a very confusing service pattern where a stop has hours of operation something like this:
      Monday-Friday : 6 AM-1 PM (northbound)
      11 AM-7 PM (southbound)
      Saturday: 10 AM-6 PM (southbound)
      10 AM-1 PM (northbound)

      And even this would still very randomly, whenever WSDOT decides to use a non-standard express lane schedule to accommodate special events, construction, or whatever.

      At best, a stop with a schedule like this would achieve little value other than to opportunistically pick up a few riders who were actually waiting for the 66. In practice, it would cause confusion and frustration as riders sit at the stop for half an hour, wondering why their 73X isn’t coming, not realizing that the express lanes are open. Better to just make them either walk a few blocks to somewhere with more regular service, or time their schedule to match the 66.

      The 255 does serve the Stewart and Denny stop, but the situation there is markedly different. For example:
      – Since the 255 uses 520, it never uses the I-5 express lanes, which means every bus can serve this stop, with no special rules to remember about when it’s coming.
      – The stop at Stewart and Denny serves as a useful shortcut that people from Kirkland can use to walk to either South Lake Union or Capitol Hill (they could theoretically take the 8, but let’s face it – unless you see it coming, walking is faster). Coming from the U-district, however, there are direct buses to both SLU (the 70) and Capitol Hill (the 43 and 49), so this “shortcut” is not necessary.

      The 71-73X buses are also a lot more crowded than the typical route 255 trip.

      1. “Monday-Friday : 6 AM-1 PM (northbound)”

        Monday-Friday: 8 AM-9 AM (northbound). Other times it takes the I-5 regular lanes and gets off at 45th and down Roosevelt. Last week I took a bus at 7:05 AM and it went on I-5. I don’t know exactly when it switches to Eastlake but it’s between 7:15 and 8:00. Then at 9:00 the buses go back to I-5.

        It takes just 10 minutes via the freeway when there’s no traffic, compared to 20 minutes on Eastlake, so moving more buses to Eastlake would make them less expressful. And it would only be until Link replaces them, probably in 2021.

        There’s also an expess-lanes-only stop at 42nd & 8th, so AM inbound and PM outbound like traditional peak expresses.

      2. At least on evenings and Saturdays, I am yet to ever see a 71-73 express take the I-5 regular lanes when the express lanes are closed. Maybe they do on reverse-direction weekday mornings, a trip I don’t normally ride.

      3. That’s exactly it. They use the regular lanes northbound only on weekday mornings (with a hole as Mike Orr mentioned at the most congested time for I-5). All Saturday trips when the express lanes are closed use Eastlake. All southbound trips at any time when the express lanes are closed use Eastlake. All trips during normal express lanes hours use the express lanes unless they are closed. All trips that are scheduled to use the express lanes but cannot because of an unscheduled closure use Eastlake.

  6. Meant to mention this earlier. New parklet open today at the Molly Moon’s in Wallingford. Live music and free samples from 3 to 5.

  7. 2015 Hyundai Tucson fuel cell a gem

    To clear up lingering confusion, fuel-cell vehicles are electric vehicles. The electricity to run the motor is created by mixing hydrogen from the fuel tank with oxygen from the air in the so-called fuel-cell “stack.” The exhaust is water vapor, no pollutants.

    Tucson fuel cell is the best example yet in a small universe. That’s based on drives over the years in a variety of hydrogen-fuel vehicles.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/columnist/healey/2014/09/20/2015-hyundai-tucson-fuel-cell-a-gem/15850643/

  8. Im amazed at the massacre of bus service beginning this week in Capitol Hill with the loss of the 47 but continuing in the next few years. Yes there will be a single light rail station in the neighborhood. Soon the 8 and 11 are to be combined, the 49 combined with 36, people talk of 19th avenue losing its service and the 43 even going away. Broadway will have lots of service but everywhere else will be drastically reduced or non-existant in an incredible dense and growing urban neighborhood.

    1. The only “for sure” things on your list are the 47, 19th Ave, and the 8 reroute to Garfield HS. The 36/49 is still just a high-level idea, not a concrete proposal yet. Changes to the 11 and 43 are just unofficial speculation at this point.

      You have to distinguish between cuts and revenue-neutral reorganizations. The cuts reduce service hours, meaning that the 47 and 12 are deleted or reduced and that’s it. But the 36/49 and the later 8 “enhancement” are not part of the cuts: they’re revenue-neutral reorganizations. Any hours saved will be reinvested in the same neighborhoods, which for the 36/49 means Pine Street and Jackson Street (perhaps the 10, 7, and/or 14). I’ll get into the advantages of this in a separate comment.

      The 8 enhancement is odd because it says “Madison Valley” not “Madison Park”. That suggests maybe they’re not thinking of the 11 at all. Maybe it’s the same as the second February cut propsal (which sends the 8 to Garfield HS). Maybe the integration committee put it into the report before the cut committee suddenly adopted it, and it was too late to change the report. I can’t think of any other plausable enhancements in Madison Valley. There is an argument for keeping service on northern MLK because it’s a steep hill to 23rd.

      What’s most likely to affect the 11 is the Madison BRT project. That could change the 11 into an all-Madison route. It’s unclear at this point how Madison BRT will affect the 11 or 12.

      1. Getting rid of the bloody stupid two blocks of on-street parking on Madison between 13th and the Union/14th intersection would help movement on Madison immensely as well. (It’s on the south side of Madison and is only no parking from 4-6.) It is, I believe, the only street parking blocking a travel lane on Madison until east of John where the street narrows to one lane in each direction all the way to Madison Park. With no turn lanes on Madison, traffic stops there any time someone wants to turn north from Madison, 22 hours a day, because you can’t go around. This seems to be an easy fix particularly as the building on one of those blocks is vacant. Through bus service on Madison has been discussed often on this forum; a fix like this will make potential service immediately more efficient that it could be today well before any form of BRT makes it off the drawing board.

        (Don’t even get me going on Broadway/Madison–that streetcar will sit in traffic on Broadway approaching Swedish from the north most of the afternoon…and sit…and sit…and sit….)

    2. The 36/49 idea comes out of a transit-best-practices principle of frequent grid routes and more crosstown service. Seattle’s Transit Master Plan identified five or six major corridors, of which U-District – Broadway – Beacon was one. (And U-District – 23rd – Rainier another.) So Metro is following Seattle’s priorities. The argument is that some people are taking the 36 and 49 to downtown because they want to go downtown, but other people are taking it only because the bus network forces them to, and they really want to go straight north-south or transfer at some other point. Strong grid routes would enable more people to get closer to their destinations.

      For instance, imagine someone getting on the 36 from the apartments around Pacific Medical Center. It’s too far to backtrack to the Link station. Only a few of them will be going to Pioneer Square or lower downtown. Those going to Chinatown can walk from 12th or take the streetcar. Those going to midtown can transfer at Pine Street (probably faster than going through Jackson and Pioneer Square). Those going to Providence hospital or the Broadway Market or Madrona or the U-District or Wallingford will find the 36/49 faster than going through downtown. And they can transfer to Link at Capitol Hill station if they wish.

    3. As for the 43, 11, and 10, any armchair speculation must start with the fact that the most grid-incorrect routes are the 43 and 49, and that their north-south components are needed for the two TMP corridors (Broadway-Beacon and 23rd-Rainier). I think it would be easier to split the 49, which Metro has now suggested. The 43 goes across the entire hill to all commercial centers (Broadway, 15th, Montlake) and the Miller Community Center, so it will be harder to cut. I’m not convinced that the 8 is an adequate substitute for the 43.

      As for the 11, it will either stay the same or become an all-Madison route. Use cases suggest keeping it as-is because more destinations are on Pine than Madison unless you’re going to a medical service. But it may become all-Madison to maximize and simplify Madison BRT.

      That leaves the 10. There’s no other way to serve 15th Avenue, and Pine Street will need more service if the 49 is split, so I suggest keeping the 10 as-is but more frequent.

      Another possiblity is that Metro will push all buses away from Pine to either Olive or Madison. That would give more even route spacing. So the 11 goes to Madison and the 10 to Olive. (I assume the 10 and 43 would coexist, unless the 43 is deleted.) That puts the 10 and 43 directly at Capitol Hill Station, and is a close enough walk to SCC. But the dense businesses and residents around Pine would object. I assume that would likely carry the day, so the 10 would remain as-is.

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