125 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Chicago BRT”

  1. That’s great except for needing custom left side door buses that only work on this route and the busway cant be shared with other lines using normal buses. Why not center lanes like this but then individual right side islands per each direction? I’ve seen this in SF for the metro lines.

    1. Easier way to handle this: As they enter the busway, have the buses swing left so that the doors are on the same side as the platforms. That way, no need for extra doors on the left side of the bus- as they do in Eugene. And ordinary buses can also use the platforms.

      It may be necessary to put a barrier to the outside of each bus lane so that no vehicle can stray into lane in the opposite direction. I don’t think barrier has to be so high that a fire truck can’t climb over it.

      It is true that- like just about everyplace else in the world-Chicago has wider and flatter terrain, making expansion of streets and everything else easier than here. But I’ve always been irritated by Seattle’s unwillingness to use center lanes for express buses.

      SDOT owns the streets- not private interests of any kind. So our “Rapid Ride” setup really carries a sense of “bait and switch.” “Business Access/Transit lanes makes exactly as much sense as “Business Access/ Express Train tracks.

      And from experience- including pavement in DSTT from the beginning- I’m not saying that a smooth ride is impossible, but that I doubt that any agency is willing to spend the repaving money necessary to come anywhere near railroad ride quality.

      One Chicago winter will likely leave those lanes looking like a prairie dog town. With being seriously slowed by detours around paving crews.

      Maybe it’s just overexposure, but whether it’s transit or politics, happy cartoons even interspersed with photographs with deedly background music. Reaction starts from low-key (Klingons approaching at warp speed! Shields up!) to fury (Impeach Obama now!)

      Completely oblivious to the real menace of Joe Biden in the White House!

      Mark Dublin

    2. I’m not sure you want to mix BRT with regular buses. You want BRT to board and disembark as quickly as possible. In that regard, it makes more sense to mix BRT with light rail or a streetcar. You also want the system to be used to capacity. It doesn’t make sense to have buses coming every ten minutes. You want them coming every minute, to take advantage of the fast boarding and off board payments. With that in mind, you don’t want a BRT bus to be slowed down by a regular bus.

      Of course, this means a greater investment by the agency involved. If the BRT buses go through the neighborhood, you will have to add special ramps (and stations in the middle of the street in some cases). This is more expensive, so unless you save a lot by having a center station, it might be worth it to get BRT buses that board on the other side (as you suggest). My guess is that they were solely focused on this corridor, the way that light rail, or streetcars only focus on a single corridor. Doing so limits the inherit advantage of BRT — they can be expanded without much cost. Of course, the one advantage of center boarding is that it is easy for a rider to switch directions. That only matters if the buses come from outside the corridor, though.

      1. Whereas West Seattle likely makes a perfect case for “open BRT” and the trunk-specific bottleneck-bypassing capabilities you mention, Chicago’s Ashland corridor couldn’t possibly be a better case for Curitiba-style corridor-focused “closed BRT”.

        The endless, uninterrupted, arrow-straight Ashland — which, as the video says, already boasts the highest passenger count of any CTA bus route, despite reliability problems — travels from the ever-busy North Side, through the medical district and the gentrifying-like-(literal)-gangbusters Near West Side, and remains busy well into the expansive interior of the South Side. Along the way, it meets every single in-city El line except the Red, creating seven new easy and reliable cross-connections that are forbidding today.

        While it will obviously be costly to rebuild 16 miles worth of urban boulevard to make way for the lanes and center stations, it would doubtless be far costlier to remake it with 16 miles of catenary poles and tracks, including the extra buffer width that MLK required. Meanwhile, CTA intends to take full advantage of those center stations and flat Chicago topography, with perfectly level boarding and full off-board payment, open floor plans without wheelchair straitjacket-straps, and (hopefully) fare-gated entry.

        Frankly, the plan is good enough that I question the need for an ultra-local underlay, which outside of a couple of very elderly-heavy southern stretches is likely to run totally empty most of the time.

        So, yeah. Single corridor, self-contained, no unintuitive service-mixing, fast and frequent, with good connections. A BRT plan actually worthy of being added to the rapid transit map.

      2. From the conceptual rendering, it appears they are taking a traffic lane to implement this.

        Maybe just a little bit more expensive than paint, given the ‘street hardening’ they will have to do in addition to the station and left turn lanes.

        From Google maps, this looks like a fitting upgrade to this street, depending on costs.
        (Haven’t dug into that part yet)

      3. Well, in that same document the Alternatives studied were:
        1) Build BRT
        2) Don’t build BRT

        Not much help there.

        However the anticipated costs for the infrastructure are $10m/mile.
        Finding a breakdown of costs that would essentially duplicate this type of running, except with LRT vehicles (no ROW acquisition, and all at-grade) is a bit harder, because most costs I can find out on the Internet are an aggregate of different situations, with the lowest LRT cost I’ve seen at $15m/mile, and the average low-end at ~$25m/mile.

        That’s only capital costs by the way.
        Would have been helpful if they compared apples to apples… as opposed to apples to zilch.

      4. The real reason for retaining all the parking is that doing anything else would violate the terms of — and trigger a whopping penalty under — the insane parking-meter privatization deal, by which former mayor Daley gave away 75 years of control over the city’s street-space allocation and revenue for a song.

        But anyway… Yes, the bus lanes are former general lanes. Duh. Did you really to pull out maps to figure that out?

        There will be few (if any) left turns permitted of Ashland ever again. This will not only ensure speed and prevent conflicts, but also discourage SOV traffic from using Ashland as a long-distance through-corridor, lightening the strain on the remaining general-purpose lane.

        Segregated LRT may not even be possible, since today’s design standards seem to presume a wider lane buffer than the BRT diagram anticipates (again, see MLK or Interstate Ave). Even if it were possible, the cost of 16 miles of track and catenary supports is going to be higher. You don’t need a Jim-approved rail study to tell you that.

        This is a connective corridor, that aims to bolster and fill gaps in the El network and to reduce the need to head all the way into the Loop for certain transfers. While it serves very high passenger numbers and possesses sufficient demand for high quality and frequency, it does not demand the super-capacity that only rail can provide. That is what the fully grade-separated network is there for.

      5. “You don’t need a Jim-approved rail study to tell you that.

        Opinions seem to work just fine when it comes to BRT, right?

        I’m used to Environmental Impact Statements having a few more Alternatives than Yes/No.

        Yes, BRT probably is the perfect solution for this corridor given it is in Chicago, the rail capital of the US.

        It also assumes that SOV traffic flow on this roadway does not need to be preserved, as was dictated by SDOT to Sound Transit when they constructed the MLKing Way segment.

        I like the idea of taking GP lanes for BRT. That validates Mr. Rogoff’s argument.

      6. Of course, there are more than a couple of places in Chicago where new full-on grade-separated El lines could do some glorious good, but the city may never be able to afford such expansions.

        It might behoove you to notice that places which qualify as “the rail capitol” of anything (as you describe Chicago) tend to be especially circumspect about on-street rail of any kind. While neophyte cities lust rapaciously after any rails they can get — no matter where they go — experienced cities understand that the investment inherent in rail is only justified when it is really, truly justified. If a job can be done just as well for less, and on slightly tighter ROW, using buses, then buses it will be. Save the rail for the truly grade- or pathway-separated, for the places with overwhelming demand and the change to leverage all of rail’s advantages.

        There is nobody in the world who “loves” buses. That is why the equivalencies you tend to draw between railfan types, and those whose desire for effective transit requires poking holes in railfan tautologies, invariably ring false (and sound ridiculous). It’s never about “better” modes for us. It’s just about getting the job done as effectively as possible given any on-the-ground constraints, and given realities of cost-consciousness and demand/service geometries.

      7. As someone that’s been on the Ashland bus a lot, d.p. pretty much has it. It doesn’t need a massive capacity upgrade. It does need a massive reliability upgrade.

        There are a bunch of bus routes in Chicago that get truly crush-loaded (not Seattle-crush-loaded) during peak hours — they’re mostly LSD expresses, which is why lake-shore L lines, both north- and south-side, are common fantasy transit projects. The “Circle Line” is the other common Chicago fantasy transit project, and Ashland BRT is actually better in some ways (not least: it can be built quickly, and its benefits immediately extend beyond the length of the initial busway).

      8. Ashland BRT is the circle line. A full half-ring El line was ruled out due to cost/benefit ratio, so Ashland BRT came in under the 80/20 principle (solve the 80% of the problem that can be done at reasonable cost; defer the 20% that requires extraordinary cost).

      9. I hope the CTA will consider constructing (literal) in-system transfer stairs/elevators, platform to platform. Especially at Lake and Division, even if it requires a significant rebuild of the former and a new tunneled passage at the latter. They must also ensure that the software recognizes any out-of-system transfer swipes as if they were in-system (i.e. no possibility of getting double charged, either then or upon transferring to a different bus or train later in one’s continuous trip).

        Successful network integration will be the truly decisive factor in this project’s success or failure.

    3. They did a substantial alternatives analysis, see Appendix A in the EIS. They looked like 16 different configurations of mixed traffic, BAT lanes, and the full on median lanes. From other EIS’s I’ve read it seems common to do all that ahead of time, pick a preferred alternative, and then the EIS is just analyzing build / no build.

      I would guess the left-side door design has to do with having a clean design of having the continuous median. Otherwise the bus lanes would have to wiggle through the intersection.

      1. My experience has been with the I-405 Corridor Program EIS , which includes comparisons of all the modes (well, not gondolas).

        I did find a
        power-point presentation type of document for the CTA Circle Line analysis
        , which contains some tables more on the order of what I was looking for, except since I’m not interested in getting into Chicago politics to see why they decided to go with BRT, I don’t plan on investigating that any further.

        However, what was curious was the horizon-year for their cost/benefit analysis was 2030 for a 2009 study. This is because the I-405 study used the same year, but that study was done 10 years earlier, and since any rail investment (with major infrastructure upgrades) has a payback that doesn’t come into effect until at least 30 years later, why would CTA use only a 20 year span?

        Politics is always an issue, and as I witnessed with the initial scoping of the North Corridor HCT study, varying the time span can give you the answer you want. That study also was done around 2011 with a 2030 horizon year.

        I would have been interested in seeing how the SR99 alignment compared with the selected I-5 alignment for North Link on a 30 year time span.

        Based on responses from Shoreline at the meeting I attended, I believe it was more a political issue. I think the current alignment was a poor choice by ST.
        Actually, let me rephrase that, it was a poor choice by the regional leaders, since Sound Transit isn’t really a transit agency, but more of a transit building confederacy acting on their behest.

  2. The final South King County corridor report is pretty negative on a Burien-Renton line. Both the travel pattern maps on page 21 (part 4) and the level 1 bullets on page 33 (part 5) say that the main travel patterns are north-south in both Burien and Renton. “The travel and transit market in the Downtown-West Seattle-Burien corridor is primarily oriented in a north-south direction, which aligns well with the proposed HCT alternatives. The travel and transit market in the Burien-Renton corridor is also generally oriented north-south, which does not directly align with the east-west HCT alternatives. For example, Renton travel is more oriented to Kent and Downtown Seattle.” Elsewhere the report mentions elevation challenges for LR at I-5 and east of Burien, and the need to cross the UP and BNSF lines, and suggests underground stations at TIB and Tukwila Sounder to address those. That sounds expensive.

    ST’s response will likely be to skip Burien-Renton or use BRT (if BRT has enough advantage over RapidRide F to make a difference). But another implication is that ST has neglected Seattle-Renton-Kent, and it should be studying that instead of Burien-Renton. Which brings us back to the Aleks plan. LR or BRT to Renton would duplicate Central Link to Rainier Beach, so it would probably have to terminate there. And that’s where Aleks’ 169 comes in, on Rainier Beach-Renton-Kent. ST’s long-range plan draft had something similar, but on 167 and continuing to Puyallup. How long until ST addresses this area? It’s probably too late for ST3, which is unfortunate.

    1. Perhaps the single-best way to speed up transit from all of South King County to the most popular destination (downtown Seattle) is to move up building the SODO bypass Link track.

      It will benefit all south King County and Pierce County riders, as well as South Park and Georgetown commuters. It’s amazing half the ST Board hasn’t coalesced to make that happen.

      1. “What exactly is the “SoDo bypass Link track”?”

        Some alignment between the curve off of Fourth Avenue South by the Maintenance Facility and the curve between East Marginal and Boeing Access Road. I personally favor the low-cost Airport Way side because I don’t think there will ever be sufficient ridership on the much more expensive East Marginal Way side, simply because airplane hangars are the very antithesis of density.

        One very nice “plus” of using the Airport Way side is that there is already a “flying junction” perfectly oriented to connect to it laced around the Maintenance Facility. At the other end the interchange between Airport Way and BAR just about perfectly mirrors what a rail flying junction would require.

        However, at this time the only thing that should happen is that SoundTransit should buy some pieces of right of way just north of the Airport Way overpass of the railroad tracks in North Georgetown in order to preserve the option of putting a Link express track between the railroad tracks and I-5.

      2. OK, but I’m still confused. Are you talking about a new busway, a new rail line or what? And either way, where would it connect to the rest of the system? I think you have covered some of the particulars, but I am very much confused as to the general concept.

      3. They are referring to the exceedingly dubious idea of an express Link spur that bypasses the Rainier valley, stopping only in the intriguing but superlatively underpopulated postage stamp known as Georgetown.

        It’s an idea that only makes sense if you think transit speed, rather than distance or long-term land-use patterns, is the only thing holding Federal Way back from being our next great metropolitan contributor. Or if you can’t calculate the difference between Seattle passenger volumes and London volumes. Or if you’re drawing a Seattle fantasy subway map with six evenly-spaced radial points, and you need a central southern line to mirror your (only fractionally less daft) Aurora express train. Or you went out for your morning run and found that the Duwamish had changed from flowing water to flowing $100 bills.

        A Link bypass wouldn’t even be of much use to Renton — the only southern suburb with a chance in hell of making good use of full-time rapid transit — because the out-of-direction travel would be so much further than, say, the out-of-direction travel the very proposers are complaining about on today’s line. If Renton ever gets a Link line, it will be as a straight-shot spur from Rainier Beach.

      4. Thanks d. p, I appreciate the clarification. It does seem like a silly proposal, especially since Sounder does pretty much the same thing as well (get you from the South Sound to Seattle without bothering with stops in populated areas). So, basically this would enable a south end rider to get to Seattle four ways: Central Link, SoDo bypass, Sounder and HOV lanes. Sorry, but I think that is ridiculous given how many people would ride from there. Like you said, that doesn’t even cover Renton, or West Seattle or Burien for that matter. Four lines for a very thin, relatively sparsely populated part of the region. Sorry, ain’t gonna happen (not should it).

      5. If Renton gets a link line it will be as part of a Burien-Renton line.

        Decry it all you want but it is fairly cheap for the predicted ridership.

        In addition to transfer connections to Central Link and Tukwilla Sounder a direct connection to downtown via West Seattle or South Park is possible.

        The B4 option is only 40 minutes to Renton from Downtown.

      6. Since the 101/106 demonstrate an all-hour radial ridership in that direction that suggest a future high-capacity corridor might actually succeed, I hope you are wrong.

        The Burien-Renton approach’s best-case ROI is disastrous. That will not be built.

      7. Also, I don’t feel like looking up what “B4” is, but there’s no way South Park rail makes sense, and there’s no way a journey from Renton to downtown via Alaska Junction (involving a bunch of tunnels that also don’t make sense) would take only 40 minutes.

        Not happening.

      8. The SoDo bypass is not that bad of an idea when/if link runs all the way from Tacoma to Everett, until then we are perfectly fine with only the current alignment

      9. If speed were the only thing keeping Tacoma-Everett from being a good idea, then you wouldn’t be seeing mid-day BART trains slogging dozens of miles with barely 1 or 2 passengers per car.

      10. .d.p.,

        Sorry but direct LRT (and BRT) between Renton and Rainier Beach was dropped early in the scoping process for the ST South King Corridor study.

        In the South King Corridor study there were 3 alternatives that served Burien and Renton:
        A3: to Burien via Delridge
        A5: to Burien via West Seattle Junction
        B4: to Burien via SR509 (includes stops at Georgetown and Souh

      11. Oops, hit “submit” accidentally mid-rant …

        B4: to Burien via SR509 (includes stops at Georgetown and South Park because they are on the way)

        The Burien-Renton portion is the same for all 3 alternatives.

        B4 is actually 2 rail lines. One going to West Seattle Junction and Westwood/White Center. The other as outlined above. Fortunately the costs and ridership estimates are broken out separately for each line.

        The SODO to Renton portion of B4 has a daily ridership of 52,000-62,000 and costs between $2.5-3.4 billion. Note that this is only a modest cost increase over the Burien-Renton segment alone with a substantial jump in ridership. Costs are not believed to include the Downtown tunnel. Travel time to Renton from downtown is 40 minutes, Burien 25 minutes.

        Considering the ridership vs. cost numbers for other corridors considered for future rail, this looks pretty good.

      12. It doesn’t look so good when you consider that it’s unlikely to get proposed without a megatunnel under West Seattle getting bundled in, adding a couple of billions (at least) to the project, for surprisingly little reach and middling return.

        And since South Park has next-to-no demand, and a 509 line would actually miss Burien proper, I fail to understand where all of those hypothetical riders are coming from. That would be a pretty dumb way to journey from Southcenter into the city, and for the time being Southcenter remains little more than another mall (Link’s fourth). 101/106 ridership is high, but not translates-to-52,000 high. There’s really nothing else along the way.

        When traffic is moderate, today’s 101/106 take about 40 minutes from Renton Transit Center to University Street station. So the least-massively-out-of-direction proposal (B4) saves zero time, while stopping in a handful of places that Renton riders aren’t going — as Mike’s cited study explicitly says — and traversing miles and miles of nothingness in between.

        And meanwhile, only 4.5 miles separate downtown Renton and existing Rainier Beach station. The current bus does it in 15-18. A well-separated train could do it in 6-10. And unlike the 17 proposed miles of B4, it would serve proven transit riders and actually be fast.

        direct LRT (and BRT) between Renton and Rainier Beach was dropped early in the scoping process for the ST South King Corridor study

        So it sounds like the only reason for this was a desire to propose stuff the preponderance of which would shop up in the South King subarea. Not because it’s bad, but simply because it contained too much “north” and “east”.

        Now the South King study has proven that an east-west approach is bunk. Maybe it’s time to go back to considering ideas that serve people, rather than those that check boxes.

      13. “Perhaps the single-best way to speed up transit from all of South King County to the most popular destination (downtown Seattle) is to move up building the SODO bypass Link track. It will benefit all south King County and Pierce County riders…”

        That’s the first time I’ve heard the bypass recommended as a way to improve all-day South King County transit rather than just twice-a-day commuters and airport travelers, especially given your work focusing on low-income communities. And that does raise an issue. North and east Link will be competitive with express buses, enough that the’re all being truncated. Could this bypass do the same for south Link? And would it be enough to close the speed gap with the express buses? Would it be enough to offer something meaningful to Kent and Renton too?

        Second, we’ve been assuming North King won’t pay for it because it’s low in Seattle’s priorities and wouldn’t benefit Seattle much. But what if South King paid for it? It would certainly benefit South King, more than this Burien-Renton line perhaps. Would it, again, close the speed gap with the 577/578/594?

      14. Another issue that would arise with the bypass is scheduling and routing. I will not consider reducing any line’s frequency below 10 minutes, although the bypass segment could be an exception. So would the Duwamish branch and the Rainier branch alternate every 5 minutes? Would even spacing be realistic? What would the Duwamish trains do when they get downtown since the DSTT will be full? They could theoretically switch to the second DSTT, but that would be confusing for passengers (some trains going to one tunnel, some to the other). Would the Rainier branch terminate at TIB and require a transfer station? Or would they continue south to somewhere?

      15. Since it’s clear that there is lots of Renton-Seattle chatter on this post, I’m going again mention considering a light rail line from Renton to Rainier Beach and up the Rainier Valley, with a Y up MLK to the the top of I-90 lid then turning to the Rainier/23rd/I-90 station as a line. That would give Renton a link to both Seattle and Bellevue with several transfer points.

      16. d.p.,

        Actually alternative B4 serves central Burien. The route leaves the 509 ROW to serve a station in Burien proper.

        As to “where does the ridership come from?” you’ll have to ask Sound Transit as the report does not go into that level of detail (boarding counts for the station areas in the study).

        Such a line does not necessarily have to come with rail to West Seattle. Otherwise why break out the costs for the individual branches separately?

        The Delridge LRT alternative (A3) serves White Center and Delridge without being stupidly expensive. The travel times for this alternative would be more than a pure LRT option to the Junction or a direct route between Burien and Downtown Seattle but the travel times still beat current bus service when there is congestion.

        Again the report does not go into detail why certain corridors were dropped during scoping or level 1 screening. I don’t believe which sub area the line would fall into really entered into it. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a bunch of expensive West Seattle tunnels. Renton to Rainier Beach would have mostly been in the East sub-area which isn’t short of money for future expansion.

      17. Al S,

        Two problems with your proposal:
        1. The capacity constraint on the south line is due to at-grade running on MLK. There is no room for 2 lines to interline at a reasonable frequency.
        2. There is little additional ridership for the cost. I just don’t see who cares about a direct connection between the Mt. Baker station and the I-90/Rainier/23rd station.

      18. I just don’t see who cares about a direct connection between the Mt. Baker station and the I-90/Rainier/23rd station.

        Everyone going to or coming from the Eastside. Currently, everyone living along MLK who wants to get to Bellevue, or everyone from the Eastside who wants to get to MLK, needs to either go all the way downtown and backtrack, or transfer to the 7. That problem will only accentuate when East Link opens a clear path from I-90 to Microsoft. Granted, the MLK capacity constraint makes it questionable whether Link is the best way to solve this problem, but it’s definitely worth solving.

        To pose a wild possibility… What if, in a long-term-future ST6 or so, we abandoned the Beacon Hill Tunnel, linked the Sodo segment to West Seattle, and extended the MLK line up past Judkins Park into the Central District?

      19. William,
        The time peanalty for transfers between Rainier Valley and East Link is relatively minor. The number of people using such a transfer would be very small. Certainly not enough to justify the cost,

        A line serving the CD with transfers to East Link at 23rd and Central Link at Mt. Baker may make sense, but not a connector.

        As for your last comment, why the heck would we abandon one of the highest ridership SE Seattle stations constructed at great expense?

      20. Thanks for understanding the general concept, William C. The conceptual benefit is to also link Renton into the overall light rail system with a corridor that allows for riders to go towards Downtown Seattle or the Eastside with a simple transfer. It can easily serve as the rail transit connection between Bellevue and Renton (noting that the feasibility of Eastside Rail Corridor looks pretty bleak).

        William C., it’s also true that the route could someday head further north into the CD but that likely would need to be in a tunnel and it would be costly. That comment exposes an overall weakness in this round of ST rail planning, which is that all of the alternative alignments and technologies are quickly locked down way too early in the planning process (in the rush to get to an alternative for a referendum) and the realm of other possible solutions is ignored.

      21. “However, at this time the only thing that should happen is that SoundTransit should buy some pieces of right of way just north of the Airport Way overpass of the railroad tracks in North Georgetown in order to preserve the option of putting a Link express track between the railroad tracks and I-5.”

        At the risk of looking like a narcissistic fool I’m quoting myself to emphasize that such a bypass should not be done now. It should almost certainly not be done in ten years. But it might begin to make sense in twenty and is likely to make a great deal of sense in 30.

        But it can only come about in 20 or 30 years if SoundTransit makes a few relatively inexpensive investments in the area between the Airport Way bridge over the BNSF/UP main in Georgetown and Spokane Street between Airport Way and I-5. At this time there are only three businesses in that location, and all are pretty darn marginal. It can’t cost much to buy the land and lease it back to the current businesses for ten years at a time.

        To the Renton issue in response to several of you, I think that a bypass for a deep Southwestern King County which has filled up with climate change refugees is entirely compatible with a Renton and possibly Kent East Hill expansion of Link. Whether it goes via MLK (“Renton Way”) all the way, takes Henderson to Rainier and follows the old 107 route to Renton, or creates a new right of way alongside the Chief Sealth trail and Tolt aqueduct, Renton to downtown via the MLK stations is much less of a mental pretzel than Highline or Federal Way to downtown Seattle via the MLK stations.

        Would there need still to be service to Sea-Tac via the MLK stations? Of course, but no farther. Deep south King County and Pierce Countuy service would be better and much more attractive to riders to downtown Seattle and the U-district via the “bypass”.

        Look, SoundTransit has set a strong precedent making Link an express service through North Seattle which is much denser than the Rainier Valley will ever be except possibly the stretch between Mt. Baker and Judkins Park stations. And it’s mostly an express for folks from Snohomish County; the line all but bypasses Shoreline.

        Why should folks from South King County making similar length rides to the Seattle CBD be forced to make 35 mile per hour surface running for four and a half miles twice a day while their compatriots from Lynnwood whish along 55 never worrying about a car blocking their way?

        Again, not now but plan for the eventuality.

      22. d.p.,

        I personally wouldn’t favor a stop in Georgetown. The inexpensive alignment is on the “wrong” side of both Airport Way and the BNSF/UP rail lines so it would be pretty unpleasant to get to such a station.

        And on the other side of course there would be I-5 and the Beacon Hill bluffs.

        There’s really zero walkshed at such a station, unless one adds quite a bit of expense to cross the railroad tracks and Airport Way, visit the station and then re-cross the tracks and Airport Way.

        This is meant to offer South King County something roughly equivalent to the “express” sections across Lake Washington on East Link and all along I-5 north of Brooklyn.

        I do think it makes sense to revisit the idea of a station at about 116th and East Marginal Way. There’s pretty good bus access to “north” Tukwila on both sides of I-5 from there. It might even be a better bus intercept than Rainier Beach since 599 gets so little traffic. With the bypass to zip people downtown it could give Kent and Auburn speedy access to the region’s core at relatively low price.

        Such an intercept on Marginal doesn’t make sense with the MLK diversion but it would with the bypass.

      23. As ever, it is bad planning to emphasize super-expresses in any direction, and to pretend that they represent some sort of all-day regional panacea when they actually do so very little for non-commute movements. That ST has succeeded in building an F- Most Of Seattle Northern Express — at great cost to Seattle — in no way qualifies as a good reason to start planning an equally pointless southern super-express.

        Once again, it’s the distance and the land use that makes frequent distant sprawl-rail worthless. It’s not really about the speed.

        If (or when) climate change gets so terrible that there are “climate refugees” in any significant numbers and in any direction, our economy will be so comprehensively fucked as to be recognizable. You can’t ameliorate that with a fucking train.

      24. p.s. Renton is actually pretty close, and multi-faceted, with a direct economic continuity with the Rainier Valley and demonstrated all-day demand. That’s the sort of situation in which frequency and speed do matter.

        And yet the same people arguing for a Bailo Bullet to the distant south are the very ones who would detour Rentoners to distant Burien and West Seattle, at great expense and with a resulting trip that is zero minutes faster than today’s. It’s totally crazy!

      25. Damnur, d.p. I am not one of the people you say want to “detour Rentoners to distant Burien and West Seattle”. Quit putting words in my mouth. You’ve done this for several years now, and I’m sick of it.

        I said very clearly that having a bypass is very compatible with an extension to Renton and potentially through East Hill to downtown Kent.

        Of course those things have to come in the future, after Seattle’s needs for in-city mobility are met. But it’s cheap to reserve right of way and ensure the ability to make connections. You constantly nag on ST for not doing this in the University and North Links. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. You’re dangerously close to Ballard OIMBYism. (Only In My Back Yard).

        The area north of 85th is mostly built out all the way to Lynnwood and Bothell except for the potential of repurposing the auto-oriented sprawl crap along Aurora and Lake City Way. No matter how much you cry about the lack of density in Seattle’s and the close-in northern suburbs’ lack of density in the single-family neighborhoods, those neighborhoods are powerful politically and the housing stock is mostly desirable, even the smaller dwellings.

        You’re not going to get your dream of spread out consistent density that you say is necessary for urban transit. It’s just not going to happen. Nor is it likely to happen anywhere between 85th and Spokane except along Westlake/Dexter, Fifteenth West (maybe), Greenwood/Phinney and in the urban villages of Ballard, Fremont, U-District, Capitol Hill the CD and the Mt. Baker-Judkins Park strip.

        Because King County as a whole is desirable it is going to grow. Folks will continue to come to the Northwest because it’s a great place to live, especially for outdoorsy folks. Sure, there are questions about where will they work, but that’s true everywhere in the coming AI economy. At least Seattle is on the ground-floor of creating that economy.

        In any case, those folks will need somewhere to live. Since you really can’t break the power of the SFH neighborhoods in Seattle, they’ll need places like Bellevue, Renton, and yes, West Kent and Federal Way to live. The truth is that SR99 south of 200th is an ideal location for a strip of density. The SFH neighborhoods are almost without exception at least a quarter of a mile east or west of the street (mostly west of course). The A-Line can make a great “local shadow”.

        There will come a day that South Link is serving a half million people in its walkshed south of the airport.

      26. Before I even read the rest of your comment, I want to say that I did not mistake you for one of the Renton-Seattle-via-everywhere-else logic abusers, and I did not mean to imply that you were among them.

        There were others above you who engaged in the specific cognitive dissonance I described, and I’m genuinely sorry that I didn’t do a better job of distinguishing your position from theirs. My bad.

        (You’re still wrong on the Express Bypass for the Post-Apocalyptic Future, though.)

      27. …And now I’ve read the rest of your comment, and I don’t really know where to begin responding. Nor do I have any particular urge to be mean, even though your prescriptions are mostly just fallacy after fallacy after parochial boosterism after economic bubbledom after geometric untenability after fallacy.

        A minute ago, you though southwestern King would fill up with density because of massive climate upheaval. Now it’s because Puget Sound is the preeminent “lifestyle destination” of the modern world.

        That’s ridiculous. People are attracted to robust economies first and quality of life second. Quality of life can be aesthetic, spatial, social, cultural, and yes, exploratory/physical/outdoorsy. But if you think the Puget Sound is destined to become a 7-million metropolis because hiking, then you might as well give up your dream of any public transit anywhere, because what you envision is 7 million dipshits surgically affixed to their automobiles.

        I agree that Seattle proper has some housing stock less likely to be replaced, and some more likely to be replaced. But the latter covers far less of the intransigently-zoned areas than you might imaging. Unlike in a San Francisco or Boston, there are literal dozens of square miles available for infill and retrofitting and better cohesive urbanism in Seattle proper, and this city is quite screwed if it continues to deny that in every facet of its planning (zoning striation, preservation-doesn’t-apply-in-interesting-areas hypocrisy, anti-urban transit acquiescence).

        I also agree that the inner-ring adjacent suburbs are ripe for a great deal of growth and urban cohesion. But a South 99 Density Strip is a different can of worms. There’s no there way out there, and there never will be. If such a thing gets built, it will as useless for transit as the strip malls there today. Because geometry is reality, and what you envision is fantasy. If anyone takes that development plunge, and if anyone actually rents units in the least pleasant “density” since Clichy-sous-Bois, you can expect to see an unprecedented traffic jam in your cultural black hole for all eternity.

        But, hey. At least they’ll have a really fast train of almost no use to them.

      28. ” today’s 101/106 take about 40 minutes from Renton Transit Center to University Street station”

        That’s 40 minutes for the 101 and 60 minutes for the 106.

      29. Swings from 40-60 depending on traffic, says the schedule. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a schedule with such a broad range.

        Crucially, though, the non-Link-duplicative part of the trip is less than half of the run time, in all cases. Reminding us how obvious it is to connect this high-demand destination with the Link line that is already tantalizingly close (but for traffic), and how not obvious it would be to send passengers on a 16-mile detour for whatever insane reason has been proffered.

      30. “ST has succeeded in building an F- Most Of Seattle Northern Express — at great cost to Seattle — ”

        BS. Wallingford and Greenwood and Bitter Lake will benefit from having Link nearby even if they’re not right on it. Ballard and Lake City are far enough away that the benefit is less clear, but it will be clear if you’re going to someplace other than downtown (or specifically, beyond the Stadium-to-Northgate area). Oh, and what’s that about it taking an hour to get from Ballard to Capitol Hill on the bus? Try 25 minutes to U-District station + 9 minutes to Broadway.

        in no way qualifies as a good reason to start planning an equally pointless southern super-express.”

        Link is in no way a superexpress. A superexpress would have no stops between the U-District and Lynnwood and would run at 80 mph. Link is a limited-stop corridor service like Swift. It just happens to be fortunate that its grade separation allows it to match ST Express’s travel time, so that it can simultaneously circulate within Seattle and replace the express routes on its way.

        I can literally find 3-15 times a week that ST2 Link will significantly improve my trips’ quality, travel time, and choice of departure time, and that’s even if we exclude commuting to work (for which I’ll still have to transfer to a bus, so Link covers only part of it). Granted, I chose to live on the east side of the city because that’s where the most existing transit is and where Link will be. But no matter where I live, I’d still have to go to a mall occasionally, and I choose Northgate because it’s the most in-city and transit-friendly one, and Link beats the 41 or 66 hands down. And people are always going between University Way and Broadway and downtown: there’s Link again. Roosevelt/Greenlake will probably join that triad as soon as it’s on Link. Again, Wallingford and Greenwood will require a bus connection to link, but what f*all better alternative do they have? The 16 and 5 win no speed awards. My friend lived in Wallingford Center and then moved to Wedgwood (on the 76); he mentioned that the travel time from downtown is the same. I took that as it’s not a good idea to live in Wallingford, but Link will make it somewhat better.

      31. “Swings from 40-60 depending on traffic, says the schedule.”

        I have taken the 106 on Saturday mid-day when there’s no traffic to speak of, and it’s 30 minutes from Renton to Rainier Beach, or 60 minutes from downtown to Renton. (I don’t transfer southbound at Rainier Beach because of the risk of having to wait 30 minutes for the bus.)

      32. Wow, long thread. So many things said, about several different subjects. Anyway.

        I really have to disagree with the idea that growth can only occur in the suburbs, and that it will occur there. The political power and single mindedness of single family home owners is greatly exaggerated. People are, for the most part, largely ignorant of the situation. Even the Seattle Times, a very conservative newspaper, had to run an editorial today essentially saying “new buildings don’t increase housing prices”. This should be obvious to anyone, but they had to to it because people often confuse correlation with causality (i. e. the big cranes aren’t causing high rent, the high rent is causing the big cranes).

        As has been noted many times before, even minor changes could have a huge impact on urban density. Portland and Vancouver BC have far more liberal ADU laws. There is no reason for this. Liberal statutes can increase density while maintaining the style of housing that exists now. Besides, a lot of people aren’t really concerned about that. I’ve seen several houses mowed down not to far from my house — do I really care if a small duplex or a big house goes up next? Not really. Do my neighbors — I doubt it. Maybe someone would whine if they put in a few row houses or small apartment building, but for the most part, they don’t care. They don’t want ugly — whether it be an apartment or a house — but even that doesn’t concern them as much as other amenities (like parks, sidewalks, etc.).

        Then you have the businesses. The big suburban business experiment is over. People want to work and live in the city. You can’t hold back the tide forever. Even if the city does nothing eventually the folks who live in apartments in Lake City (or even Pinehurst) will outnumber the folks in live in houses in the same area — and that is in the districts specifically designed to serve the interests of single family housing owners. Whether the city council understands it or not, people want lower rents, and the best way to get lower rents is to build more housing. This will occur where people want that housing — which is in the city, not far flung suburbs.

      33. “moved to Wedgwood (on the 76)”

        Ravenna I mean. I keep thinking 65th is Wedgwood because the 71 says “Wedgwood”. It was only last year I realized it’s Ravenna. Before I never understood how Ravenna could be so small; it seemed to be the narrow strip between 55th and 60th.

      34. Though you seem intent on forever sidestepping the point, Mike, I have never said that Link lacked any utility or purpose. Your delving into cellular-level specifics of destination-pairs that are directly or indirectly aided by the line amount to attacking a strawman. I have never said they don’t exist.

        What I have said is that Link’s utility is limited by its anti-urban form. And yes, any train with 1-3 mile spacing through the bulk of the city proper is anti-urban. That’s wider than most express-line gaps on the NY subway. It’s wider than most any RER or S-Bahn segment you can find. It’s wider than the stop spacing through sprawltastic Phoenix.

        It may not be as anti-urban as highway-hugging rail in, say, Denver, but Link’s pan-urban utility and interconnectivity are begrudging afterthoughts. Do the tens of thousands living in the Central District, or the equal numbers routinely headed to First Hill, derive any benefit from this whopping investment that passes a mile from them? (Answers: no; and fuck the streetcar.) Major cross-streets are missed; gridded connections are intentionally scuttled. Link is not 3-dimensional-mobility friendly.

        Heck, even your attempt to spin it as solving the downtown transfer penalty (“Try 25 minutes to U-District station + 9 minutes to Broadway”) is basically a lie. The schedule padding on the detour-ridden, zig-zagging, light-missing nightmare that is approaching downtown from the north gets worse with every shakeup, and any time savings from Link disappears into the ether if your easterly destination is anywhere but the middle of Broadway. You’ve merely replaced your downtown penalty with an egregiously long lateral walk once up the Hill. Or more likely, you keep taking your old bus, because Link abjectly failed to solve your problem.

        When you go to bat for the anti-urban express, Mike, you veer dangerously close to Bailoland: “What the people want is high-speed regional trains to Kent and Paine and Orting… and hey, how come I still find myself having to drive or bus all the time because this multi-billion dollar sprawl rail doesn’t actually fucking do anything useful?”

      35. Oh. Whoops. Your Try 25 minutes to U-District station + 9 minutes to Broadway actually referred to using the 44.

        Yeah, the 44. 25 minutes. Riiiigggghhhhtttt.

      36. d.p.
        I have to agree. No way you make it from Ballard to UW station on the 44 in 25 minutes except possibly early Sunday morning.

      37. “I have never said that Link lacked any utility or purpose.”

        Your rhetoric makes it sound like that. You decry the lack of a Central District or 15th or 85th station as if these are such vital necessity that the stations it does provide are nothing without them. I might agree that Link has some un-urban aspects and we could debate where the tipping points are, but you just blanket denounce the whole thing. Guess what, Seattle is anti-urban, and Link has to fit in Seattle, not in New York. If Seattle had more density between its urban-village islands, then Link could have more stations. Meanwhile, Seattlites need to go places, and Link’s stations reflect where the most Seattlites go between and where they want quick access to. You compare Link to some unattainable ideal; I compare it to the status quo, or what we can actually get our politicians and voters to agree to this decade.

      38. People choose robust economies first and foremost”

        Yes, and people are still crowding into California even though in the LA basin everywhere west of Pomona costs 50% and more of median income for housing. Everywhere in the Bay Area is 50% and above. The more like California the climate in the Northwest becomes, the more people will move here just to be here. And then they’ll figure out how to stay.

        The reasons that people choose a given place to live are typically multiple. Job opportunities are obviously high on the list: people are flocking to Williston North Dakota for good jobs, and if there’s a more god-forsaken place than northwestern North Dakota it’s well hidden. But they won’t stay there after the shale is completely fracked. People scrape their fingers raw trying to hold on in the Northwest.

        You may be right that I’m wrong about this; you make good arguments. But as I try endlessly to emphasize I’m not advocating doing anything at this time except preserving some small stretches of right-of-way to maintain the option of serving South King County more efficiently than the street running on MLK allows in the future. If it becomes useful. How is that not a reasonable idea for SoundTransit at least to discuss?

        And thank you for the apology.

      39. I think it is worth mentioning that it was largely fear that resulted in our light rail system being as “sprawled” as it is. Fear of cost overruns, to be exact. There was talk of First Hill, and another stop on tenth, and a stop on Campus Parkway (instead of the stadium). All of these were cancelled because Sound Transit was afraid that the soil might be problematic, and that this would result in cost overruns, which would in turn kill future success (too bad WSDOT wasn’t afraid of similar concerns before they committed to digging a highway 99 tunnel).

        Of course, that doesn’t let Sound Transit completely off the hook. Many of the problems aren’t the result of trying to build “BART 2”, but some of them are. Ignoring a station at 520 is pretty stupid, even though it simply connects the east side suburbs with light rail. But extending light rail beyond Northgate, or beyond Rainier Valley to the airport before Ballard, the Central Area or South Lake Union (broadly defined to mean just about anywhere between Mercer and Denny west of I-5) is asinine.

        That is the part of this discussion that seems to be missing. There already is an “express to the southern suburbs”. It connects Rainier Valley with the airport and beyond (as we speak). There is a very strong argument to be made that it shouldn’t have gone that far (at least not yet). But let’s not pretend it is bogged down by multiple stops serving too many people — it goes for about five miles without a stop. If that isn’t an express, I don’t know what is. Now folks want another express? That is just silly. While we are it, how about we fill in the missing pieces that we should have built. How about light rail to First Hill?

      40. some unattainable ideal…

        A line that is basically usable when traversing the city in the same general direction that the line traverses the city should not be “some unattainable ideal”. It should be the bare minimum expectation for the project. Especially when it’s the only rapid transit that is ever going to be built in that direction.

        There’s nothing worse than a transit system — be it the present plodding one, or the future, ambitious, mega-costly one — designed to check off distance/destination boxes rather than to intuitively serve actual movement functions. The latter involves paying attention to properties of design that can be easily researched and modeled. The former can be done by a total hack.

        It shouldn’t be the advocacy community’s job to sit around and reinforce the hack thinking that passes for “common wisdom” around here, thus helping to translate idiocy into inevitability. Seattle is especially prone to groupthink, and equally prone to awful outcomes. That’s no coincidence.

        I just cannot understand where one would get the urge to bend over backward endorsing sub-minimum-expectation mobility outcomes on a once-in-a-lifetime investment.

      41. Oh, and Anandakos, I don’t find the idea of preserving a few patches of future-proofed ROW here and there remotely unreasonable. I wish ST would establish an entire department of future-proofing, since thus far they’ve failed even to do the near-term obvious (a connection-enabling design at 45th, or even bare-minimum platform space at Graham).

        But as long as the BNSF/Sounder main line runs through SoDo and Georgetown, the ROW in question basically exists, does it not?

      42. d.p.

        Re the right of way. Certainly, having BNSF and I-5 on either side pretty much guarantees that the vast majority of it is going to be available. There’s some potential trouble just south of Albro Place along Corgiat Drive where there’s a greater separation between the freeway and railroad, but it’s a cul-de-sac and, so, unlikely to be filled up with valuable buildings. Right now an at-grade solution could still be provided by changing the access to the southernmost two businesses to the I-5 side of their buildings and using the Corgiat Drive right of way for the bypass.

        In the worst case Albro is high enough above the railroad that a short section of elevated could be built on the railroad side of the development.

        The area with which I’m most concerned is north of the Airport Way overcrossing of the railroad tracks where there are currently pehaps half a dozen low-intensity businesses between Airport Way and I-5. I’d like ST to buy the land under the businesses east of what used to be a railroad spur line between Airport Way and Ninth Avenue South and lease use of it back to them so that an at-grade solution can be provided all the way to the Spokane Street viaduct. There is a strong trend in this section of the Industrial District to replace legacy businesses with new distribution facilities, and we wouldn’t want to pay for knocking down a few of those.

        I don’t know how to use Google earth in order to show you what I mean, but it you’ll look at Maps in Satellite mode along I-5 just south of Spokane Street, you’ll see a diagonal slash across the blocks south to about Industrial Way. It’s obviously an old railroad right of way.

        I would propose that ST buy the land under the businesses to the east of that old right of way and west of Ninth Avenue South, plus the single business to the east of Ninth South. Doing so would allow an at-grade approach to the Spokane Street viaduct and an undercrossing of it where the surface cross street could be closed since the businesses it gives access would no longer be there once the bypass was built. The alternative to such an undercrossing is a very high elevated section overcrossing the viaduct.

        Airport Way would rise up north of Spokane Street to overcross the bypass line which would connect with a re-engineered (perhaps double-tracked) outer loop around the Maintenance Facility. The tracks might need to dip a bit as well in order to give Airport Way a reasonable profile.

        It’s possible that some preliminary engineering would show that only the southernmost one or two businesses and the one east of Ninth South are actually necessary for construction of the bypass and that using the eastern half of the street is sufficient for the right of way.

      43. Hee-hee. “The Department of Future-Proofing”. I love it! It will cause the anti-transit folks’ heads to explode.

      44. Well, I see your ROW between Airport Way and 9th South (tracks mostly still present). But I must admit that I still don’t quite understand why your far-future proposal would go this way.

        Wouldn’t your line simply follow the BNSF main line as far as where 5th South would be, at which point it would turn due north directly to the busway? That spur remains an active railway today, so there’s little risk of it being blocked or degraded over time. And I would have to imagine that upgrading the existing busway/Link corridor with a handful of simple-underpass grade separations would be a whole lot easier and cheaper than building a parallel separated line just four blocks over.

        Anyway, you seem passionate enough about this, and I can’t see what the harm would be in presenting your future-proofing idea to ST in writing. (The agency could certainly stand to be regularly reminded that future-proofing is a thing.) But I can’t really see ST devoting purchase money or expending legal fees on one particular SoDo pathway, even if a future express Link were far more likely than it is. SoDo isn’t anticipated to change much over the decades, so there’s little possibility that all of its minor or vestigial rail spurs would get sold off or repurposed in such a way as to prevent future usage.

        Regardless, I truly can’t see Seattle ever having express subways for the purpose of facilitating spontaneous all-hour long-distancing across the region. We’re not a European megalopolis, and we’re neither going to grow that big nor be rebuilt with a pervasive density that would give rise to demand for such a thing. We’ll probably see all-day Sounder trains some day. Subways through SoDo, not so much.

      45. d.p.,

        I quite agree that extending the busway alignment seems a good idea. That used to be my assumption as well. But it has two fairly severe engineering problems and one less severe but nonetheless worthy of consideration.

        The first is that from Forest Street where the existing line turns away from the busway to Hinds Street the east side has an active rail line directly next to the northbound bus lane. The southbound lane has an active rail line the entire distance from Lander to Spokane. At Hinds the track on the east side of the busway crosses it to join the track on the west side. All buses stop for that at-grade rail crossing.

        Since the land immediately to the east of the busway is occupied for that three block stretch and there is a level rail crossing, an at-grade option for the mooted bypass is not possible. That means that the guideway would have to cross Spokane on an elevated structure high enough to give clearance to the large trucks which use t headed for the port. I expect it’s means to be a “high clearance” route. So say a track height of fifty feet. That’s certainly doable — I’m sure at least a half dozen of the supports along I-5 on the climb to TIBS are that high, but it’s not cheap.

        The second issue is the equally hemmed in geography at the curve from the busway to Forest Street. I do not see how to work a flying junction into the available rights of way and still be at grade level for the SoDo station.

        I know you’re an advocate for level junctions, and perhaps this would be an appropriate place for one because the number of trains passing this point will be at most 2/3 of the number which would need to interchange at UW for a Ballard-UW line.

        Still, ST has seen fit to include a flying junction at the Maintenance Facility where adverse moves are much less frequent than at a junction between two in-service lines. So they’d probably not like to entertain one at the curve.

        Finally, South of Spokane there is quite a bit more development which impinges on the old UP/Milwaukee Union Station access track, much of which is relatively recent construction.

        The reason I like an approach along Airport Way is that it answers each of these problems:

        1) It can underpass Spokane Street at grade level
        2) It has the existing flying junction for the Maintenance Facility available to it.
        3) The types of business along Ninth South which may need to be removed have less valuable land uses than those between the UP/Milwaukee tracks and Sixth South near Industrial Way.

        One caveat on #2. It might be reasonable to use the access loop at the Maintenance Facility and return to the busway using the rudimentary street right of way a block south of Hinds. Spokane could then be crossed at grade next to the busway, sparing the expense of a tall elevated structure.

        However, why go east to Seventh, back to Fifth then back past Seventh southbound and west to Fifth, east to Eighth then back to Fifth northbound? The Airport Way alignment allows almost direct passage from the divergence from the rail right of way at Airport Way to the existing line at Forest.

      46. I’m glad to understand your thought process, though I admit to having a finite amount of enthusiasm for parsing such minute details about a project that I think not only won’t ever happen but should never happen.

        What’s weird to me — and I think this applies to a lot of long-term visions proffered by the wonkily inclined — is that you seem to be burning your logical candle from both ends.

        On one hand, you’re suggesting a project that would require absolutely gargantuan changes in regional development patterns and modeshare to remotely pencil out. At the same time, you’re presuming that every inch of existing SoDo sidetrack is so sacrosanct that you’re taking elaborate pains to go around them, to the point that you’re introducing extra right-angle zig-zags to a route that you intend as an express.

        Now I don’t think we’ll be seeing massive changes in mid-SoDo — it’s our largest industrial area, and it’s pointedly zoned that way. But since an express train would only be built in the face of overwhelming and widely-understood need — it’s not happening as a bargaining chip or a single board member or STB advocate’s folly, sorry — it seems preposterous to think that such a project would be incapable of underpassing or just plain buying out one of the least-used vestigial spurs in the entire area.

        Frankly, an “express project” that didn’t go in a straight line, didn’t bother to eliminate the mere 3 grade crossings that exist today, or didn’t fix the crazy-slow tunnel portal would seem to be guilty of putting the cart way before the horse.

        I’ll say the same thing about this that I say when people whine about North Link “imminently running out of capacity”: On the very unlikely occasion that this happens, you’ll be looking at a such an unrecognizable city and modeshare and political landscape that you won’t even remember today’s geometric and realpolitik constraints. It would be a good problem to have. So save that worry for when the theoretically-needed redundancy isn’t just theoretical.

      47. p.s. I didn’t fully understand your ROW plan until I re-read the part where you suggested using today’s maintenance-base flying junction to connect express to local.

        So I guess you’re picturing hopping over Airport Way just north of the Spokane viaduct (so as not to get in the way of the brewery complex), then building a second level of track above ST’s current storage loops, and hopefully not getting too bogged down in maintenance junctions on the way to the current flyover.

        It’s a perfectly find plan, frankly. But again, what’s weird to me is that it obsesses over how to do it cheapest even at the expense of doing it best, and it really seems to be premised on the idea that it could get built tomorrow if only we can make it cheap enough.

        Again, that’s cart-before-horse. It wouldn’t make sense to have this line if it were free. The South King all-day demand for rapid transit doesn’t exist any more than it does in the south Denver sprawl, whose underperforming lines look quite a bit like yours as they blast into downtown as cheaply and non-usefully as possible.

        Only if there is ever reason to build this right will there be reason to build it at all.

      48. Thanks for reading it carefully, d.p. I like the thought of doing it cheaply because Link is light rail technology even though ST seems intent on using it as “BART-North”, and where it’s possible to do so without degrading performance and reliability, why not put the ties on ballast directly on good ol’ Mother Earth? There are a few other places in the South alignment where building at-grade may make sense for a mile or two.

        Also, I agree with your skepticism about a Georgetown station and one for the Air Museum, which is why I favor the east side of Boeing Field. Georgetown may become the southend’s hip bar destination, but few people with any money are going to want to live 300 feet underneath the Boeing Field glidepath. No, there aren’t a lot of planes which use it, but enough.

        I am going to take your challenge to heart and write to ST with excerpts from the thread, hoping that it will be routed to whomever is currently in charge of Future Proofing. Thank you for all the questions, which have helped me to state the idea more clearly and completely.

      49. While many keep discussing the possibility of a Duwamish bypass I really fail to see the need, now or in the future.

        A much better idea might be to cough up the money needed to fully grade separate the SODO and Rainer Valley alignments. This would increase reliability, allow short headways, decrease travel times, and improve the transit experience for every station from Stadium to Tacoma.

      50. Chris,

        That would be a perfectly acceptable solution, for the reasons you stated: it would allow faster speeds and greater reliability.

        However, if you’ll pardon a pun, “That train has left the station”. I see no way to elevate Central Link while it’s in operation. It would take at least two years and possibily a bit more to build the guideway and stations, during which time the existing system would have to be shut down.

        You may see a way to accomplish it, but I don’t. ST did not “future proof” the line by allowing enough track separation to build the guideway supports.

      51. Chris,

        To be clear, I was speaking of the MLK section. The space between the tracks is occupied by the catenary and is too narrow anyway, and in most places there is only the about three feet of separation between the vehicle envelope and the protective curbing.

        On the busway there’s enough room to park a vehicle between the tracks and the busway so there’s probably enough room to place the supports along the busway. It would be tricky and certainly would make operation of the buses slower, but it could be done.

        And, in fact, if there is ever enough South King County development to make the bypass worthwhile, the busway section probably ought to be elevated as well. But that would be a separate project.

    2. I think Aleks’ plan makes a lot of sense. But my biggest concern is that it would result in a substantial time penalty for those who want to get to downtown (which is probably the vast majority of riders). I think the problem is two fold:

      1) The zigzag route of Central Link costs a lot of time.
      2) Getting to a station takes a lot of time.

      Eventually South Link could meet next to the freeway at a station south of SeaTac, which would make a connection with express buses trivial. But then the zigzagging hurts you the most.

      Meanwhile, that would do nothing for the folks in Renton. It seems like it might make sense to investigate faster ways to get from the HOV ramp to the Rainier Beach station. Could additional ramps be built? Is there another way to do this?

      Another alternative would be simply improve bus travel through the corridor (e. g. by building another bus tunnel). There are a few trade-offs, as I see it:

      For buses going downtown:

      1) Buses going straight to downtown will be faster.
      2) One seat ride from the south end to downtown.
      3) Leverage existing infrastructure (HOV lanes and SoDo busway).
      4) Improvements in the corridor (like another bus tunnel) could benefit buses from West Seattle and other areas.

      For buses interacting with Link:

      1) The buses would travel a shorter distance, which means they could travel more frequently.
      2) Capacity problems are better handled by trains. We could reach a point where buses simply back up, and can’t get through a new transit tunnel.

      1. I’ve always thought that a straight-south express really is a missing LINK in our system. Starting with passengers’ absolutely reasonable fear of missing an international flight over an MLK incident.

        I can’t imagine any other light-rail system leaving this track missing from an airport run. Speaking of which, I think one very good chance would have been if Alaska Airlines had made good its threat to move operations and terminal to Boeing Field.

        A very large number of passengers would have pointedly demanded not to be forced to transfer to surface buses in order to make connections between airlines. A fifteen minute train ride might have been tolerable.

        Would also have offered the chance to see Downtown Seattle in between flights.

        Anyhow, I don’t think Alaska was really serious about the move. Just wanted to bug Sea-Tac about something. Too bad. I still think we need the line.

        Connected thought, but still considering details: Direction would be good to continue southeast past (and of course serving) Southcenter on the way out the Kent Valley. At junction around Boeing Access, maybe express trains could alternate between the valley and the airport.

        We’re going to do this some day.

        Mark Dublin

      2. Sure, it’s a good idea to have someday. But in our current world of very limited budgets, it should be placed solidly behind Ballard-UW, Fremont-downtown, SLU-Capitol Hill, Central District – Downtown (in North King), or Renton-Kent-Puyallup, Federal Way – Seatac (in South King). And those are just the first several I can list off the top of my head.

      3. At least for Renton, the problem is getting to the station, not service to the Ranier Valley. Renton TC to Ranier Beach Station is a full 30 minutes on a 106, which only runs every 30 minutes to begin with. The 101 is faster getting downtown, but loses most of its speed advantage along a circuitous loop within Renton.

        Taking the F-line to TIBS would have potential of the F did a straight shot down Grady Way/Southcenter Blvd. With all its twists and turns to serve the empty Sounder station, it is not a viable option.

        I had an occasion a couple weeks ago where I need to get downtown from Renton TC. OneBusAway was showing a 20 minute wait for the 101, a 15-minute wait for the 106, while an F-line bus was pulling into the TC ready to leave right now. Given the wait times of the competing options, I decided to slog it out on the F-bus, although I did manage to avoid some of out-of-direction travel by switch over to the 150 at Southcenter, rather than Link at TIBS. Meanwhile, I tracked the progress of the 101 and 106 on OneBusAway. When the dust cleared, my grand tour of Southcenter beat out the 101 and 106 options by a wonderful 2 minutes, although it was still nearly an hour between the time I left Renton Transit Center and the time I arrived downtown.

        Bottom-line, the Renton bus service is a mess and a consolidation of the 101 and 106 into a high-frequency Link shuttle is definitely in order and long overdue, as is a straightening of the F-line to reflect the reality that a station with peak-only train service does not warrant an all-day route deviation of a core bus route. I might even consider using Lyft over Uber and a Link shuttle the next time I’m down there (whenever that is, I don’t visit Renton too often) if Metro doesn’t restructure its service to be more usable.

      4. @William — What would be a good thing to have someday? I proposed a couple things. The first would be a ramp (or something) making the connection from I-5 to the Rainier Beach station much faster. I’m not sure what they would entail, but I figure it would be much cheaper than anything you mentioned (and I like what you mentioned). The second thing I mentioned was basically another transit tunnel (https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2014/10/24/lets-build-another-transit-tunnel/). That is as expensive as many of your proposals, but also as rewarding. It is also possible for ST3 (unlike some other great proposals, like replacing the Metro 8 with a subway).

        @asdf — I’m confused by your comments. You first say “the problem is getting to the station” and “Renton TC to Ranier Beach Station is a full 30 minutes”. Right. That is what I thought. Getting to Rainier Beach from I-5 takes forever, which is the problem. But then later you say “Bottom-line, a consolidation of the 101 and 106 into a high-frequency Link shuttle is definitely in order and long overdue”. But given the first part, where does the Link shuttle occur. Rainier Beach? But I thought you said that was the slow part.

        I’m sincerely confused (it is often hard to tell on the internet) — I’m not trying to be argumentative, only trying to figure out what you have in mind. Is the Rainier Beach connection, as flawed as it, worth using to increase frequency? Or is there another way to connect to Link that would be reasonably fast, and increase frequency enough to make worthwhile.

      5. Sorry for not being clear, Ross. I was referring to Mark’s cheering for the oft-mentioned Duwamish Bypass Airport Express Line: it’s a nice thing to have, but far down the priority list, behind everything I mentioned, and everything you mentioned too.

        And though I’m not asdf, I read his post to say there needs to be a better Rainier Beach – Renton connection by some way or another. I’m surprised the 106 takes so long just on Renton Avenue. Your extra ramp proposal sounds intriguing, though I’d need to know more about the site to be sure.

      6. Getting to Ranier Beach from I-5 isn’t a problem. The existing ramps work pretty well and MLK moves pretty fast through that stretch. There’s even a flyover ramp already in place which buses could use to go from Ranier Beach Station to I-5 south. Google Maps estimates the 1.5 miles from the I-5 exit ramp to Ranier Beach station to be about 3 minutes.

        The problem with a Ranier Beach transfer is that you would have a bunch of little things that slow down the trip, and even though each one individual is only a few minutes, they add up into time penalty that’s too much. Start with a time 2-minute time penalty for the stoplight at Boeing Access road, plus the difference of a 35 mph speed limit on MLK and a 60 mph speed limit on I-5. Add another minute or two for people to get off the bus and wait for the green light to cross MLK to the station in the center of the roadway. Cash payers can then add an additional 2 minutes for fiddling with the ticket vending machines. Now, add a random number between 0 and 10 minutes to wait for the train, 3 minute time penalty for the 35 mph speed limit on MLK to Mt. Baker Station, 4 more minutes for station stops at Othello, Columbia City, Mt. Baker, and Beacon Hill, respectively. Even ignoring the SODO crawl and tunnel delays for the time being (since the 594 has to go through SODO too), we’re already up to a 15-minute total average delay, which is too much to be compensated for with the frequency boost that could be enabled by a route truncation. (Average wait time with 15 minute headways = 7.5 minutes. Average wait time with 30 minute headways = 15 minutes. The difference (7.5) is less than 15, so the math says the route truncation is not worth it).

        Now, let’s consider Renton. One could make a similar argument, except for two things. First, for anyone heading downtown from the TC, rather than the P&R or car dealerships, the 101 largely squanders the time saved by avoiding the Link transfer by making a grand tour of Southeast Renton. If you’re coming from the Landing, where an additional transfer is required to get to the TC, it’s even worse.

        To illustrate this more precisely, let’s take a look at some schedule math. The 106 has a scheduled running time of 23 minutes from Renton Transit Center to Ranier Beach Station. Add in 2 minutes for crossing MLK, 5 minutes to wait for the train, and 25 minutes to ride the train downtown, you’re looking at about 55 minutes total. The 101, for all its faults, has about a 10 minute edge here (45 minutes scheduled running time), but it only runs every 30 minutes.

        Because the 106 is also only every 30 minutes, there is no reason for people to choose the 106 over the 101 today (in fact, the schedules are aligned so that both modes arrive downtown at exactly the same time, so even if you just missed a 101, the 106 offers no advantage over waiting half an hour for the next 101).

        But now, let’s consider a world where Renton service was restructured. Let’s suppose the restructure split the 106 so that the downtown->Ranier Beach segment and the Ranier Beach->Renton segment were separate routes, with the service hours of the 101 redirected into beefing up the frequency of the Renton->Ranier Beach piece of the 106. Since the 106’s travel time from Renton Transit Center to Ranier Beach is about half the 101’s travel time from Renton to downtown, the truncated 101 would provide 4 buses per hour on the Ranier Beach->Renton shuttle. Add 2 more buses per hour from the current 106, and the result is 10 minute headways – the magic threshold that provides a bus to connect with every train.

        This is already a significant improvement over the half-hourly 101 we have today, but there are additional factors that could make it even better, for instance:
        – Passengers getting on and off in Skyway would now be spread over more buses, which means fewer Skyway passengers getting on and off each bus, which means less dwell times at bus stops, which means faster service between Renton and Ranier Beach than what the 106 is currently able to provide.
        – People in Skyway would enjoy frequency improvement to and from both Link and Renton, while giving up absolutely nothing.
        – The current 106’s route deviation in Ranier Beach (51st to Henderson, rather than taking the diagonal shortcut) could be shifted over to the 107, allowing even better travel times on the new 106.
        – One out of every 3 buses of the new 106 could thru-route with the 169 (modified to serve the transit center instead of the P&R), avoiding turning what is currently a 2-seat for some people into a 3-seat ride.
        – Southbound buses could be made to leave Ranier Beach Station 2 minutes after a southbound train actually arrives, thereby making that critical train->bus connection in the outbound direction as painless as possible. In other words, no waiting in the dark in Ranier Beach wondering when the bus is going to show up – the bus would already be there, waiting for you.

        The tradeoff for all this is South Renton P&R, along with a couple of apartments northwest of Renton currently served only by 101, would lose off-peak service. But since the demand for these areas is basically peak-hour anyway, I don’t think this would be much of a tradeoff.

      7. asdf – I think you will find that the bulk of the ridership during off peak hours on the 101 is from the numerous multi family housing complexes that exist along ML King Way S west of downtown Renton. Standing loads are very common mid day and early evening hours.

        I would suggest that if the 106, 101 were to be restructured that they would do an oval loop – 101 would operate inbound to RBS and then continue outbound to Renton on the 106 and vice versa.

        For me (West Hill resident) I would gladly trade the express trip to and from downtown on the 101 for more frequency to RBS.

      8. Thanks William, that makes a lot of sense. I agree with your comment – an additional train route through SoDo would be nice to have, but only after we build dozens of other things.

        Thank you too, asdf. That makes a lot of sense, and would, in my estimation, be a huge improvement. I agree with all of your suggestions. This would be better than the current situation, and much better than when buses are forced out of the tunnel.

        I think eventually (as part of Ballard to UW rail) a transit tunnel makes sense. This would connect to the SoDo busway. At that point, an express Sound Transit BRT (real BRT as Wikipedia defines it with their bullet points) from Renton could be a good idea. The limitation at that point becomes the vehicle capacity in the tunnel. This means that running 7 buses per hour during rush hour and 2 buses per hour in the middle of the day wouldn’t cut it. You would run them every ten minutes all day (or fifteen at worse). If there isn’t enough demand for this, then you would run BRT into the tunnel from elsewhere. I’m guessing there would be sufficient demand, though. This would compliment the other routes quite well. Express bus to downtown for folks in Renton TC (or those willing to get to Renton) and fairly fast, quite frequent service for everyone else.

      9. Any restructure has to preserve service on both MLK and Renton Ave. Aleks’ proposal is to move the transfer point from downtown Renton to Rainier Beach. So 101+169 (MLK + Benson Road) and 106+105 (Renton Ave + Renton Highlands). The South Renton P&R would have only peak service (102 and others) but the 169 stops three blocks away so it’s not cut off completely.

  3. I was on a 183 the other day and I noticed that the ORCA reader was set to two-zone. I asked the driver about it, and she said that it was for route 153, which turns into 183 at Kent station, and she forgot to change it. I said that I thought that two zone fare was only for routes entering and exiting Seattle, but she said that the zone fare is for different areas of the county, and Renton is one of them.

    I don’t think this is right. Route 153 only goes as far north as the Renton TC. Is that north of the fare zone?

    1. If we can’t trust the operators to correctly adjust for our ridiculous fare scheme, maybe it’s time to abolish zone fares.

      1. Been discussed here on STB plenty of times as to what should be done:
        * local bus = local fare
        * express bus = express fare

        Since my father lives in Pierce County, when I visit I’m used to PT anything being local fare and only paying a premium when switching to ST

      2. I would be happy to see it go. I’ve been charged the wrong price on the 373 plenty of times (a bus that really does have two zones). The two zone system is outdated and inappropriate in most cases. It might make sense for an express bus (e. g. from a Lynnwood park and ride to downtown) but not for a bus like the 373, which goes through the neighborhood streets. But even if you attempted that structure (extra charge for express buses) it would have the same flaw. The 73 express is just a regular bus from the U-District to the north end, so it wouldn’t make sense to charge extra for that. All the more reason to abolish this nonsense. Fares should be simple and cheap.

      3. Long-distance express vs short-distance express. Running express from downtown to 45th is not enough to warrant an extra 50c and should be part of the all-day base service. (Link offers the same to southeast Seattle.) What the express service really does at this level is compensate for congestion: the express travel time is the same as the evening travel time. Northgate is perhaps as far as you can stretch it, and again it’s pre-building Link ridership. But if you’re talking Shoreline or Federal Way, that’s more than just compensating for congestion (because a local route could never match that travel time at any hour); it’s an extraordinary service.

      4. Ross,

        The 373 is essentially Bronze Minus BRT. It has the long stop spacing but nothing else.

        Still, it’s a darn useful route; there should be more like it, especially on some cross-town corridors.


        Metro folks. It would be a big improvement if a list of stops were included in the online schedules. Just having the dotted line (“Makes limited or no stops”) is pretty off-putting to someone who is not familiar with the details of the route. It clearly stops more often than the specific time points in the schedule, but where?

  4. So what actually happens when you take away culdesacs, take away parking, allow developers to build taller, all in a dense, walkable, and transit-rich environment? Presenting the $81 million dollar condo. You really have to check out this short video. The view is amazing!


    1. You are aware that watching a video puff piece on the New York Times website is not the same as reading the New York Times for reportage and contextual understanding, are you not?

  5. Some actor I’ve never heard of was on Jimmy Kimmel a couple of days ago, and Jimmy ask him how he likes driving in L.A., etc., and the actor said he doesn’t own a car, he rides the bus to get around, and Jimmy was shocked he rides the bus.

    1. I’ll bet that when this actor is working on a movie or a TV show, he gets a limo to pick him up to get him to the set in a timely fashion.

      1. An actor on the first season of his first high-exposure gig is not taking a limo to anywhere.

        I don’t doubt that Uber gets called sometimes when he is cutting it close to get to work.

        The Seattle-sized swath of L.A. that runs from downtown to Santa Monica, which contains a disproportionate amount of the city’s wealth, defining industries*, cultural institutions, upward mobility, and density, is exceedingly easy (if not always quick) to get around on public transportation. The transit network is logical, and some lines boast frequencies that many smaller cities would find unimaginable.

        But the experience of car-free living there, as in Seattle or Portland, is definitely one in which your total range — and therefore your routinized experience of the world — shrinks dramatically. And isn’t the hermetic nature of L.A.’s power base a big part of the problem?

        *(of course, much television production happens in Burbank and Glendale, on the other side of the Hills; it is totally possible this young actor rents a place in the Valley)

    2. An interesting and I’d say, quite astute actor. The truth is most actors have a sky high “EQ” (emotional quotient). I mean, really, how can one become someone else (“method” acting at its best) and not be extraordinarily penetrating in her or his human understanding?

      Mr. Enoch is a great example. And of course he clearly had an English “public school” (e.g. “private school”) education.

  6. Hey, I was reading the Seattle Times the other day, and it mentioned that travel times, even on HOV lanes, is terrible. I was a bit surprised by this, and Danny Westneat jumped on the issue, suggesting it is time to switch these over to “three person and transit” (instead of two). So, I figured I would get opinions on this subject. Have you experienced HOV slowdowns, and why?

    1) Just too many vehicles. I think this happens on the weekend, but not so much during rush hour (but I don’t know).
    2) Backup caused by the end of the HOV lane. For example, the HOV lanes on the express lane (in the morning) end on exits. Drivers can be backed up trying to change lanes at the last minute (or backed up from the exit) causing the bus to be backed up. A similar thing happens on 520 before the bridge.
    3) Bus being forced to change lanes to exit. This is basically a design flaw, but it slows down the bus.

    Opinions, experience?

    1. SB I-405 from south of downtown Bellevue to past Kennydale hill is very slow going even in HOV lane during afternoon rush. The difference is travel times is often less than 3 minutes compared to the non-HOV lanes. It’s time for hot lane variable pricing and 3 person HOV.

      It’s also time for a BRT route along 405 corridor from Bothell to Renton.

      1. As long as the BRT gets its own lane on 405 rather than share and HOV one, I could see it working.

    2. I-405 between Totem Lake and Bellevue is seeing this regularly. All legit 2 person carpools, but just too popular.

      Optimum carpool size right now would be 2.5.

      1. One of the dumber things that occurred around here was changing the requirement for HOV lanes from 3+ to 2+. Supposedly the HOV lanes would be reverted to 3+ if they became congested, obviously that hasn’t happened. Hopefully WSDOT can fix this without an act of the legislature and without excessive prodding.

      1. I-5 carpool lanes perform fine southbound. It would be nice if they existed south of Northgate in the mainline, though.

      2. I meant headed south from the city — outbound — in the afternoon rush.

        They have not performed remotely “fine” literally every single rush hour I’ve ever tried to use them. Often they’ve been slower than the general lanes.

      3. And thus it’s been jammed every single time I’ve been on a bus or in a carpool, or in a rush.

        “Wised up”, my ass.

      4. Let me guess, you are one of those who opposes HOV, transit, and bike lanes? You know the “if it is paved I should be able to drive or park on it” crowd.

    3. In addition to 405, I would also add I-90 westbound to the list of HOV lanes that frequently get just as clogged as the regular lanes.

      By contrast, the 3+ HOV lanes on 520 consistently move.

      1. In my (pretty extensive) experience, the problem with the HOV lanes on westbound 90 are almost entirely caused by cars merging into the general purpose lanes at Rainier and/or 80th Ave SE. The former is a combination of SOV traffic off MI and people trying to get to I5; the latter is caused by the fact that the HOV lane ends abruptly there. All but the problem of I5 traffic should be addressed as part of the works for East Link, and East Link will ensure that (at least for the most part) transit is unaffected by any backups. 405 should be fixed when WSDOT implements HOT-3 lanes there.

  7. Come on, now, William C. Where did I say we don’t do all those other things first? I’ve always thought, however, that the farther in advance you start planning for anything, the more less it will cost when it reaches the top of the list.

    Luckily, there are always a few people who think that “someday” is a really good time frame for design engineering, and also developing the budget the project will need. A long time frame means more time for fundraising.

    Alki Point is a good symbol. Probably not exactly serious when first spoken: to a passenger list of women sobbing their hearts out with their first sight through the rain pouring onto the miserable muskrats’ nest their husbands had dragged them to.

    But somebody said: “Well… New York Alki!” First nation word for “In a little while.” Do wonder what the translation was for “In ya’ dreams!!!” Still and all, while we’ll be able to get a good corn beef sandwich at 3AM someday, a brillo pad of rail and catenary will have long been in place. With a lot of station cafes to buy the sandwiches in.


  8. Has anyone ever seen that Sound Transit commercial with the guy with the really long arms that are attached to his car? Then some lady standing next to him tells him if he rode ST, he would have a lot more free time on his commute to get stuff done, like reading or texting … Smash cut to him on Link, with that annoying old woman yammering on about something while she’s knitting … and he’s just standing there, not getting anything done! He’s not reading. He’s not texting. He’s not listening to music. I thought the whole point of him taking ST was to get stuff done!

  9. Wonderful presentation! The initial part clearly shows the interconnectivity of this BRT with other modes. This is what I was hoping would happen in Seattle south of downtown, a miniature version that’s in Washington, D.C. For those unfamiliar with that one, their main station has two levels of two tracks of train, which includes Metro Rail and Amtrak, with connections to bus, taxi, etc. Of course, they’re at the center of the political universe, thus the decision makers are acutely aware of their situations.

    Back to Chicago’s BRT. The painted bus lanes and the overhead signs are nice touches.

    1. Translation: we want a European-style capital so we don’t look like backward hicks to visiting diplomats, but we’re unwilling to do the same in other American cities.

  10. I found a video tour of the tiny house hotel in Portland. They’re shaped like trailers but they’re made out of wood like a traditional house, and each one has a unique design, with some kind of mini kitchen & bathroom, and multipurpose furniture and storage. These ones range from 90-160 square feet; other tiny houses are around 60-400 sq ft. Some fit into a parking space, while others are built from a metal shipping container (or two or three). So, imagine these as ADUs in Seattle yards.

  11. On a completely different topic, I rode the Hot Dog Bus last evening again out to Aurora Village and had a totally different experience. I’m not sure whether it was that the driver last night was just extremely timid and didn’t trust the signal pre-emption and therefore missed the extra hold or that it turns off at 7:00 PM when the lane reverts. I swear that we had to stop for nearly every light between Winona and 145th whereas a week and a half ago — on an earlier schedule granted — we made every one!

    If anyone from SDOT or Metro is reading, could you let us know if the signal priority does turn off at 7 o’clock northbound? Thank you.

    If it does not, my goodness what a difference a driver makes! This guy was timid as a mouse; it was weird. After everyone was on board he’d wait another few seconds before starting up and then hardly use the inherent acceleration of the buses. It was as if the electric motors were disabled as well.

    The good news is that even though the E-Line runs every seven minutes until the 6:45 departure from Main Street, by the time we got to Denny Way the bus was stuffed. People could move around in the bus with some ease so it wasn’t at d.p.’s desired level of stuffedness — JOKE, d.p. I want them full too…. — it had around 80 people on it. At 6:53 PM. Pretty darn good.

    I don’t know why a RapidRide stops at four stops on Aurora south of the bridge, though. Galer? Sure. It has the hill-climb to Taylor and East Queen Anne. The other stops? No. The Five and Sixteen are frequent enough service for those minor stops. There are two lines on Dexter as well.

    To David Lawson’s comment about “Faye Garneau territory” and the long light at Winona northbound, WOW, are you right, David. I was worried that the bus was going to gather some moss waiting to turn left onto Aurora. [ed note hyperbole, but not a lot]

    SDOT, can we have a signal advance there?

  12. On LA–That Santa Monica to Downtown corridor is getting a heavy rail extension out Wilshire Blvd., construction just started on the first segment to the, ah, rather reluctant city of Beverly Hills. There was an interesting exhibit (in Santa Monica) about car-free people called “Without a car in the world.” It had both voluntarily and involuntarily car-free folks. The voluntarily car-free were generally enthusiastic about their situation, the people car-free due to low incomes much less so.

    On Chicago–My question on alternatives was why Ashland was picked for the first BRT line. It does have the highest ridership, but it didn’t seem to have bad travel time problems. There are other busy bus lines on the North side where speeds seem to be much worse. It would make sense if part of the line is meant to be a kind of edge of downtown circulator serving hospitals, a university campus and the like. But only a few miles of the route would do that.

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