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Late Empire Builders at Spokane (Photo by Loco Steve — Flickr)

This is an open thread.

115 Replies to “News Roundup: Losing Less Money”

  1. Any estimates that if a decision is made to build a Ballard. to UW line, how long would it take to plan, build, etc. before it became operational?

    1. Won’t happen in ST3.

      Ballard-DT, or Ballard-Fremont-DT is a much higher priority and more closely matches demand without causing directional capacity issues on U/Northgate-Link.

      1. Lazarus,
        I wouldn’t be so certain. The ridership vs cost for Ballard-UW is fairly compelling. If/when federal capital grants come back it is almost certain to qualify.

        If Ballard-UW gets left out of ST 3 I fully expect Seattle Subway to propose building it using the monorail tax authority. Similarly if ST3 looks like it isn’t going to happen in 2016 I expect Seattle Subway to propose building Ballard-UW.

      2. Ballard-UW is a higher priority in the transit-network sense. Cross lines generate more ridership than parallel lines because they facilitate trips in several directions (Ballard-UW, Ballard-downtown, Ballard-Northgate, …). For instance, somebody in Wallingford is well served by a cross line but poorly served by two lines from downtown. The 45th corridor is north Seattle’s most critical need, and arguably the entire city’s. A 45th line would also be well positioned for an extension to UVillage/Children’s/Sand Point, which the parallel line can’t address at all. So you’re getting twice or more mobility for the same investment. (Mobility != ridership. It may not have twice as many riders but it enables more people to get to more places, so it serves a wider cross-section of the population, which is what rapid transit should aim for.)

        So politically it’s the network benefits of a 45th line vs the downtown-centric inertia of a Ballard-downtown line, plus also the factors of West Seattle, a second DSTT, and Kirkland.

      3. @Mike Orr,

        Actually, the first step in taking a system-network approach is to look at the system. If you do that, the Ballard Spur would be exactly the line you WOULDN’T build.

        Remember two things: 1) Link expansion is already funded all the way to Lynnwood, with ST3 probably extending that to Everett, and 2) most of the transit demand out of Ballard/Fremont is to DT. This means that if you build the spur you would be funneling all the demand from north of the Ship Canal to BFE SnoCo into one pipe – basically U-Link – and that isn’t a good design. You’d essentially be serving Ballard and Lynnwood/Mill Creek commuters by shorting service to Capitol Hill riders. Ridership out of Cap Hill would be impacted. Not a good design.

        Additionally, Ballard-DT-UW service would still be pretty good even with the DT transfer to U-Link, particularly with East Link interlined with Central Link. It would probably still beat the existing bus service on time, and would certainly beat it on quality.

        The only thing left out of the above is Wallingford. But if you take an integrated systems approach to the problem this demand could probably be satisfied with some mix of bus/BRT/SC.

        And Children’s/Sand Point is a nothing burger for ridership. Full-blown LR is not justified there.

      4. @Lazurus — You seem to make several bad assumptions. First, that Link will carry huge number of people from Everett to downtown, and that North Link can’t handle that. It can. We can run those trains every three minutes. Second, the UW is a huge destination, second only to downtown Seattle. Third, you ignore basic geography. Going from Ballard to downtown via the UW is a minor detour. But going the other way is a pain in the butt. For example, let’s assume you are on Phinney Ridge, and Corridor 4 is built and you want to get to the UW. There is no way you are going to take a bus to Fremont, then ride downtown, then ride all the way back to the UW. Even if you are standing next to the station in Fremont is questionable. You will just take a bus.

        If there are capacity issues (and we should be so lucky) then we can simply add another line, such as one along the west side of Queen Anne (Corridor B) later. Or build a line along Aurora, or build any number of lines. Either way, we will eventually want an east-west route for its own sake. It makes sense to build that line first because it is so much more cost effective than anything else. Build a line to increase capacity later, when there is a real need for it (i. e. when the UW to downtown area is really crush loaded).

      5. I think the Ballard downtown vs. Ballard UW debate is a fascinating one, and pretty hard to settle. Fortunately, that’s because they’re both solid corridors, and either one will be a great mobility improvement for Seattle.

        A few questions. I’ve heard the train/3 minutes figure quoted a lot, but does anybody know what the limiting factor is? Is it safe braking distance, dwell time, ventilation, etc? What I’m curious about is if (as RossB says, we should be so lucky) capacity is a problem, is it fundamental or engineerable? Will the next generation of trains allow for 2.5 minute headways on the same infrastructure, or would we have to redesign stations?

        I agree that we should be so lucky as to have capacity problems on three minute headways, and if we do, we’ll probably be building Ballard-Downtown by that time anyway.

        But I also think it’s a bit silly to connect one hub to another substantial one (UW) when there’s a huge one (Downtown) without a link … and the stops on the way are equally worthwhile.

        Then again, I can see good BRT on Ballard to downtown. You can travel pretty fast down Interbay when there isn’t traffic, and center running BRT lines really could move. Queen Anne gets hardrer, but it could be built. Ballard to UW, though, is always slow. The hills and 99 and the narrow streets just don’t leave a lot of options. The Ballard bridge can be expanded and is due for replacement, whereas 45th doesn’t have room and shouldn’t be turned into a fast, get-through-the-area street, as it would be a huge blow to Wallingford.

        But downtown Fremont, Lower Queen Anne…

        So hard to choose. I just hope that we get both before we expand out to the newly-hot suburbs of North Bend and Bellingham.

      6. EHS, most systems that operate at capacity are limited in different ways. I’ll lay out a few of them I’ve seen as a person who has commuted on several rail systems for decades:

        The first place that systems can reach capacity is in reversing trains at the ends of lines. Adequate tail tracks, sidings at the ends of lines and other operational elements can prevent this. Doing it the way that ST does it at Seatac is most likely to create this problem, and having extra track like they do at Westlake (required because there are side platforms), works better. The is issue is particularly a problem if a line ends at a station and there are no sidings to hold trains — only crossover tracks. The need to add driver layover time may complicate the situation too. This is why I’ve expressed my concern about Northgate when Lynnwood opens.

        The second place that systems can reach capacity is at the busiest stations. Trains may have to wait longer then normal for everyone to get out of the train cars. All other things equal, this will delay a system. There really isn’t much that can be done about this constraint outside of putting more doors on train cars or adding train cars so that people aren’t keeping people from easily getting on or off. Seattle does have a problem with Link riders not being trained on how to get people on and off quickly (like people blocking doorways while people are trying to get on or off), but a little education can help that.

        The third place is providing enough spacing between trains to allow them to operate at higher speeds. This does not appear to be an imminent concern in the ST Link system.

        A potential fourth issue is that trains that run in street medians like MLK Jr Way can create unreasonable cross-street traffic delays if they are too frequent. The remedy to this is removing the rail priority system at some intersections. Unfortunately, that would really slow down Link trains!

        The final issue is one with reliability and redundancy in the system when accidents and other service delays happen. If an accident happens and one track is shut down, it doesn’t take long for the system to collapse if there aren’t enough crossover tracks, for example. The reliability of the car mechanics (for things like doors) and on the train control system are quite important. I’ve already been on a Link train whose doors on one side would not open and I was “trapped” on the train so I had to get off at a later station and go in the other direction.

      7. @EHS. As far as I know the main constraints on Link’s capacity are insufficient ventilation shafts between Capitol Hill and Montlake, and frequency limitations on both branches on the South end. For East Link, there are rumors that only one train will be allowed on the floating bridge at once. For the southward branch, limits arise because of surface crossings. It might be possible to turn trains at SODO, but it’s also possible that doing so with the current infrastructure wouldn’t add much capacity.

        @Al S. One way to add doors is to put platforms on both sides of the train. I don’t think that this will be needed any time soon. Unfortunately, I’m of the opinion that retrofitting the existing downtown stations in an ADA compliant fashion without creating dangerously narrow platforms will be prohibitively expensive.

      8. @William

        This is the first I’ve heard anything about only one train on the bridge at a time. I assume one train per direction? If not, that would be a disaster. It probably won’t take any longer than two minutes to cross the bridge so one train per direction doesn’t seem like an issue.

      9. I believe headway on East link is limited to 8 or 9 minutes due to the bridge. I think one train total can be on the bridge at one time.

        The limit has been mostly buried in engineering studies for putting rail on the I-90 bridge. Apparently allowing two trains on the bridge at the same time takes the bridge load over the limit.

        As for Capitol Hill-UW the lack of a vent shaft limits headway to 4 minutes. Presumably a vent shaft could be retrofitted which would then allow shorter headways.

        I’m not sure what other headway limits are present in the IDS-Lynnwood portion of the system however other grade separated systems regularly operate with 2 minute or less headways.

      10. @Chris

        Funny how the ST East Link videos still show trains passing each other in the opposite direction on the bridge. An absolute best-case scenario of 8 to 9 minute headways, not including inevitable delays, is pretty ridiculous. Is there a single segment of Link where ST hasn’t shot themselves in the foot?

      11. @Chris,

        I don’t know where you are getting your info, but it is flat out wrong.

        East Link will start out at 8 min headways, but is capable of 6 min headways. Obviously Central Link will also be operating at 8 min headways whenever East Link is, so train lengths will be lengthened. Eventually both lines will be at 6 min headways.

        There is NOT a limit of 1 train on the floating bridge at a time. I don’t know where this rumor got started, but it is totally false. WSDOT would like assurances that no more than two trains will be on the bridge at any given time, but this is extremely easy to accomplish at 6 min headways.

        Your rumor about a 4 min headway limit in the tunnel due to vent shaft issues is obviously false since the tunnel will be operating at 3 min headways when Central and East Link are interlined at 6 min individual headways.

        My understanding is that the tunnel could be operated lower headways if it had to, but that the 3 min interlined headway limit is really set by SDOT’s configuration/control of the street system in the RV. This limits Central Link to no shorter than 6 min headways (current situation). This limits the interlined segments to no less than 3 min headways.

        And please note, I confirmed all of the above before posting.

      12. @lazurus — Where did you get your data? I think it would be helpful if folks could cite Sound Transit literature on headways, instead of simply stating it. I am not doubting your information, I just think it would be helpful (because the issue comes up a lot). For example, I cited Ben’s comment when talking about the ventilation shafts, which is not really that helpful.

        Just to be clear, the headway limitation is not for downtown itself, but the section from the UW to downtown. So, the two lines interlining through downtown (up to I. D.) is OK. But if both trains continued northward (to the UW) it would be a problem. That is, assuming the information about the ventilation shafts is accurate. OK, now for some links:

        1) Ben’s comment about the ventilation shaft: https://seattletransitblog.com/2013/02/22/joni-mcginn-and-lots-of-enthusiasm/#comment-295120

        2) d.p.’s comment, which actually cites an actual official document stating that two minute headways are possible through downtown: https://seattletransitblog.com/2014/06/30/ballard-uw-should-be-the-next-light-rail-line-in-seattle/#comment-498819

        3) A summary of the case for Ballard to the UW light rail: https://seattletransitblog.com/2014/06/30/ballard-uw-should-be-the-next-light-rail-line-in-seattle/

        4) A comment in that article, which discusses headways and mixing lines. NOTE: None of this information has been confirmed. However, I think those would be possible (despite some of the errors I may have made, such as underestimating the frequency with which east link trains could travel). — https://seattletransitblog.com/2014/06/30/ballard-uw-should-be-the-next-light-rail-line-in-seattle/

        5) A more in depth look at the advantages of Ballard to UW rail, versus the alternatives: https://sites.google.com/site/ballardtouw

        In summary:

        1) Worries about crush loading are way overblown.
        2) There are way more trip pairs that could be made much faster with Ballard to the UW light rail, versus Ballard to downtown* light rail (https://sites.google.com/site/ballardtouw/#TOC-Speed-Comparison).

        * I’m really not happy with the term “Ballard to downtown” because “Ballard to the UW” light rail would get a Ballard rider downtown much faster than anything available today. In some ways, it should just be considered another route to downtown, even if, at worse, it involves a transfer.

    2. ST3 as a whole is estimated to take 15 years. So if it’s approved in 2016 it would be finished in 2031. But each project has its own schedule and some could open early. The closest equivalent to Ballard-UDistrict is probably North Link (UW – Northgate) since it’s also mostly underground. North Link is 2009-2021, of which the first few years was planning, and the last year was added on due to the enue drop in the recession. Subtract a couple years because Ballard-UW is shorter. But North Link is using the existing SODO base while Ballard-UW Link will need a new base, so it depends on where the base will be (south Ballard, Interbay, a second SODO base, downtown Kirkland :) ) and when the track to it is built.

    3. “If there are capacity issues (and we should be so lucky) then we can simply add another line”

      In the long term yes, but you can’t build a line in one year. To avoid a multiyear overcrowding gap, you have to start building it ten years before reaching capacity. The DC Metro is at capacity in its core, and our own Metro is overcrowded in Link’s corridors. A prudent city would have started building Link twenty years before it did.

      1. Right, we should have started on Link a long time ago.

        But even with our current system, there are things that can be done to deal with overcrowding in the mean time. For example, a better BRT line from Ballard to downtown could be built fairly quickly. A lot of people would still take the two trains downtown, but some would take the bus, especially if the trains are too crowded. Ballard to downtown light rail along the western edge is probably the fastest route that could be built. Furthermore, if we are at capacity, then the system as a whole would be much more popular, and the need for improvements much more obvious, making it possible to fund the improvements a lot more quickly.

        DC Metro is at capacity, but that is a very successful system. Without a line such as Ballard to the UW, our system simply won’t be successful. So yes, this will avoid capacity issues, but it won’t be because we built out our line in time, it will be because not that many people use it. I’m sorry, but that really makes no sense to me, when we are talking about spending billions of dollars. I guess I don’t see the difference between “I take the bus because the train is too crowded” and “I take the bus because light rail is too inconvenient”.

  2. In the Sand Point Crossing post, there was a statement that made me curious about something. The claim was made that this was “the most asked for new corridor.” Now, even though I am a scientist, and rely and facts and figures to shape my opinions, I also rely on my “gut,” and this “most asked for” statement raised some red flags with me. No, I don’t doubt the validity of the statement, but I do question what or who encouraged those people to ask in the first place, which leads me to what I’m curious about. Could someone tell me who first came up with this current rail only Sand Point Crossing idea?

    1. Maybe it was the most asked about because the primary question was “what the hell is that?”

    2. Again the troll focuses on a trivial side issue. I first heard about the idea from some transit fan a year or two ago. I’m not going to dig my imperfect memory to determine who. Sam can use his brilliant research skills to search through the STB archive, because I know it has come up a few times before. Now turning to the more important question, “Why was this the most asked-for corridor?” I assume it’s because the other important corridors were already in the LRP or were going to be added anyway, so it wasn’t necessary to ask for them. For instance, the 45th line and the Lake City line have been in the LRP for years. So just because Sand Point was the most asked-for doesn’t mean people think it’s more important than Lake City or 45th.

  3. Can you even imagine the price tag on that bart project? The central subway in SF, about 1.7 miles and four small muni-subway stations costs $1.6 billion. That makes U-Link look cheap (we’re at least getting 3.5 miles for our $1.9 billion).

    The purple line extension in LA is on the $4-8 billion range, and that’s a way more simple project than that Bart one would be, but it’s on a similar scale to just the east-west, in-city part of that BART project.

    That BART project could easily get into the tens of billions, maybe even $30 billion+.

    1. How much did the original tube cost? Is that included in the $1.6 billion you mentioned? If U-Link and the central subway in SF are both just bored tunnels, why is their cost so much higher?

      1. There is a lot of existing infrastructure to work around in Central SF. It is part of the same reason the Second Avenue Subway in New York is so expensive.

        If new tubes are put across the Bay I’d expect them to be immersed tube rather than bored tunnels. I believe for the bottom conditions in SF Bay immersed tube is cheaper.

    2. I’d agree, Andrew. I’d add to that that San Francisco is not that aggressive about upzoning outside of the Eastern districts of the city, so it isn’t a prudent investment.

      The thing that makes BART unique is that their board members are elected. Because two of those board members are in San Francisco, they need political cover when they run for reelection but maintaining the hope that something gets built. I see it as a purely academic exercise that is going to happen to keep elected board members happy.

      1. I don’t know how effective or urbanistically successful the masterplanned rebuild of Parkmerced will be, but I definitely think that adding 10,000 people to less than a quarter of a square mile counts as an upzone.

        The Geary corridor, from downtown all the way out to the Richmond District, is already today one of the densest continuous corridors and most robust transit-trip generators in America. Always remember that height and density are not synonymous.

    3. Well, I just wrote and then lost a really long comment that I’m not up for rewriting. So here’s the bullet-pointed gist:

      – A second Transbay Tube is not happening. In addition to being exorbitant, it is not necessary. The perceived peak-of-peak space crunch is a combination of BART’s 1972 sprawl-rail network design (unfixable) and the old rolling stock’s terrible interior design (already being fixed) and failure to spread customers throughout the train (fixable with the help of smartphones in the short term and continuous-corridor cars in the long term).

      – It is therefore unfortunate that so much of the proposal’s newfound interest in rectifying the urban-usefulness deficiencies of the 1972 approach is posited as requiring another Tube to address. The planners must be pushed to find a way to divorce the concepts.

      – The silver lining can be found in the more than half-dozen infill stations seen on the detail-level map here, most of which would be cheap and effective and unrelated to the de novo megaproposal.

      – It is, of course, highly ironic that BART would begin to address its massive urban oversight just at the moment that Sound Transit puts the finishing touches on its Old BART-style city-skipping tunnel, proffers a Ballard Spur corridor study with 1.5-mile station gaps, and goes all-in on the supremacy of the “spine”. BART management is finally learning some lessons from its 40-year-old mistakes; Sound Transit refuses to.

      1. Yes… this!

        I might have been interpolating this idea over to the proposed next-generation BART rolling stock, or conflating this idea with an (I think) existing app that recommends where to catch BART at each station based on likely space availability (as a result of where people tend to have boarded at prior stops).

        Anyway, with or without weight sensors, smarter knowledge dissemination and a transition to the new everywhere-but-the-U.S. continuous subway car standard will do as much good for peak human throughput as any parallel Bay-floor tube you could hypothesize (and then never, ever fund).

      2. One big factor you’re ignoring here d.p. is redundancy. A second Tube is seen as especially desirable in the event that takes out the Bay Bridge or the first tube for an extended period of time.

        Another factor you’re ignoring is that you seem to be conflating the Inner East Bay for the Outer East Bay. The urban strip between Richmond and Hayward centered on Oakland is actually quite dense as is (not quite as dense as San Francisco, but it has a large intact grid and room to grow), and could really use more service and stations.

        As a whole, this project isn’t The Bay Area’s version of SR-520 LINK, but rather it’s version of the ARC.

      3. I might have been interpolating this idea over to the proposed next-generation BART rolling stock, or conflating this idea with an (I think) existing app that recommends where to catch BART at each station based on likely space availability (as a result of where people tend to have boarded at prior stops).

        How many trains per hour go through the tunnel these days? I was last down there many years ago, and I thought BART seemed awfully infrequent compared to some other systems.

        For weight sensors all you would probably need are strain gauges like the ones used to measure beam deflections in bridges. Existing technology that really isn’t that expensive.

      4. BART currently operates 22 trains per hour through the Transbay Tube at peak (All the extra peak service is on one line, the Pittsburgh-Bay Point line), 16 tph off-peak weekdays , 12 tph daytime Saturdays, 6 tph Evenings and Sundays.

        Now, the actual capacity of the Transbay Tube as of right now is actually about 26 Trains per hour (limited not by the tube itself, but by a curve near the Balboa Park Station), and part of the reason why BART doesn’t run more service is a limit in the number of available trains (because it’s fleet is so goddamn old, BART has to hold out more trains for maintenance).

        Part of the reason why BART originally wanted to build the 30th/Mission infill station was that it would have a turnback pockets built alongside it, which would’ve enabled (along with new signaling that I think didn’t end up happening) 32 trains per hour in the Transbay Tube.

      5. The baseline service is 20 minutes per line daytime, 30 evenings. San Francisco has two lines evenings/Sunday (Pittsburgh, Dublin), and four lines daytime/Saturday (Pittsburgh, Dublin, Richmond, Fremont). That gives 5-minute headways daytime/Saturday, 10-minutes Sunday, and 15-minutes evenings. South of Daly City gets 10-minutes daytime/Saturday, 20-minutes Sunday, 30-minutes evening.

        I didn’t realize the baseline had dropped to 30 minutes on the tails. It was 15 minutes last time I was there. 30-minute headways makes a mockery of rapid transit, and I hated it when MAX did it on Sundays. It’s too bad BART doesn’t have turnbacks at Berkeley and Bay Fair.

      6. @Mike Orr, that’s wrong. it’s 15 minute headways weekdays daytime and peak, and 20 minutes at all other times on each line (Save for the Pittsburgh-Bay Point line, which gets 6 minute peak direction headways). During better budgetary periods, service on weekends went up to 15 minutes on each line.

      7. One big factor you’re ignoring here d.p. is redundancy.

        Yeah, wouldn’t it be nice if we could build two of everything, for only 8x the price!?

        Redundancy for every piece of infrastructure in existence is not a financial option, and it might not be a great use of space and resources and engineering acumen even if it were. Why double every existing tunnel when real needs go entirely unserved elsewhere?

        The Bay Bridge and BART provide some redundancy for one another in extreme circumstances. The bridge was just rebuilt to withstand higher seismic stress, and BART could certainly stand to make further investments in the resiliency of its infrastructure to ensure that any form of disruption can be mercifully brief.

        Arguing for many-billion-dollar duplication for only the most unlikely of situations is a wasteful and losing proposition. We’re not talking about nuclear fail-safes here.

        you seem to be conflating the Inner East Bay for the Outer East Bay.

        I’m not doing that in the slightest! I am well aware of the (fascinating and occasionally lovely) city of Oakland, and its somewhat pre-automotively-enabled corridor spreading north and south. (Richmond to Hayward is pushing it, but some sub-set thereof is a reasonable description.)

        BART’s chief philosophical error has been to enable so much less transit versatility to these populations and within these areas than the Key System had just 14 years earlier. (Though yes, I know that the Key’s street-running tails would have eventually buckled under the weight of traffic.)

        I am thrilled to see better inner-East Bay connectivity on-the table, in the form of those much-needed infill stops in southeast Oakland. But that second inner-east line is nothing to get excited about — it’s just the Capitol Corridor spruced up and made exorbitantly expensive, while retaining the existing commuter rail’s problem of being pretty far from where anyone is actually headed.

        As a whole, this project is… [the Bay Area’s] version of the ARC.

        …Except that the Hudson tunnels have already maximized 100% of their existing passenger and vehicle throughput capacity, and BART truly and conspicuously has not.

        ——————————————-

        Mike,

        Please repeat, internalize:
        Outer BART is not rapid transit.
        Outer BART is not rapid transit.
        Outer BART is not rapid transit.

        That’s why, through the vast majority of the service day, even offering rapid-transit or near-rapid-transit frequencies, those segments have all of a dozen passengers on the entire train. That’s why those segments set money on fire, and why inner-segment passengers get gouged with $4 fares to make the systemwide farebox look better.

        And you would have it light more money on fire?

        Yes, BART needs to prioritize turnback-enabled urban service patterns. And it needs to explore targeted urban-expansion segments that serve real and inarguable high-demand access purposes. Again, no redundant tunnels required.

      8. DP: So while you are offended that the outer tails exist, I’m starting to be offended that turnbacks don’t exist. The outer track and stations are a one-time capital cost, which becomes ever-less significant over time. The Chicago El and Metra are essentially free to the current generation because they’ve long been paid off, and so is our monorail. But operating costs are ongoing so that’s where turnbacks would help, to give Berkeley the frequency it needs, and San Francisco a more subway-like boost, without overserving the tails.

      9. @d.p.

        “I’m not doing that in the slightest! I am well aware of the (fascinating and occasionally lovely) city of Oakland, and its somewhat pre-automotively-enabled corridor spreading north and south. (Richmond to Hayward is pushing it, but some sub-set thereof is a reasonable description.)”

        I would say that you are. The corridor between Richmond and Hayward is actually kind of longer and spindlier version of Seattle. Richmond at the northern end is very much a pre-war Streetcar suburb (Like the Sunset, and West Seattle, only far less geographically isolated), and Hayward at the southern end consists largely of the not completely awful 1950’s suburbia (Not unlike similar areas in North San Mateo county, or North Seattle/Shoreline). And both cities marked the farthest ends of the historical East Bay Streetcar network.

        “BART’s chief philosophical error has been to enable so much less transit versatility to these populations and within these areas than the Key System had just 14 years earlier. (Though yes, I know that the Key’s street-running tails would have eventually buckled under the weight of traffic.)”

        And I would mostly agree with you there, BART’s decision to go along an existing Rail ROW rather than sticking to International Boulevard (Where the density was, and is) was especially disastrous for East Oakland in particular.

        “I am thrilled to see better inner-East Bay connectivity on-the table, in the form of those much-needed infill stops in southeast Oakland. But that second inner-east line is nothing to get excited about — it’s just the Capitol Corridor spruced up and made exorbitantly expensive, while retaining the existing commuter rail’s problem of being pretty far from where anyone is actually headed.”

        I’m actually of a pretty similar opinion here. The Southernmost part of the line isn’t all that good, but the northern half (combined with wBART) would be a good extension of Caltrain in my eyes.

        “…Except that the Hudson tunnels have already maximized 100% of their existing passenger and vehicle throughput capacity, and BART truly and conspicuously has not.”

        I know that, but I think BART might end up bumping against it’s capacity limits sooner rather than later, so it would be better to at least start the process. I don’t want the Bay Area making the same kind of mistakes Toronto made in the late 80’s.

        “Yes, BART needs to prioritize turnback-enabled urban service patterns. And it needs to explore targeted urban-expansion segments that serve real and inarguable high-demand access purposes. Again, no redundant tunnels required.”

        And I would argue that this project would do exactly that, the Tube/East Bay half of the project would mean something on the order of 200,000 additional passengers a day to start, and Geary/West Bay half would mean an additional 150,000 to start on that portion.

      10. FDW,

        The urban proposals, though no doubt whoppingly expensive, most certainly do suggest network effects unprecedented in the Bay Area’s transit history. (The inner East Bay proposals, as currently drawn, not so much.)

        But I fail to see why a duplicate tube would magically make 200,000 new riders appear from thin air. The immediate result of a second tunnel does not make the current lines all that much more frequent, comfortable, or useful, nor extend BART’s lousy urban reach in any way that makes it more useful for a wider variety of trips. All it does is add capacity to the same old limited-use crap, which isn’t really needed.

        You lose credibility when you claim to double Transbay ridership without fundamentally improving the network.

        Also, Richmond proper is a city, but a sprawling ex-industrial one commensurate with the principles of the early “car in every driveway” era. It’s urbanism is weaker than even Berkeley’s, and it shows. The extended East Bay corridor occupying the strip between the water and the hills could reasonably be called “fully-built suburban”. It’s not dense and it’s not walkable and it doesn’t make any more sense for subways than West Seattle does, as BART’s non-commute anemia ably shows.

        Mike,

        Past capital costs are sunk, but with eBART and Milpitas and fantasy-mappers and and Sound Transit chomping at the bit to throw good money after bad precedents, BART’s past refusals to comprehend geometry continue to have ripple effects that cannot be ignored.

        Also, when per-passenger subsidies can reach $30/boarding on certain segments, it’s pretty hard to sweep operating costs under the rug, or paint them as marginal.

      11. d.p.

        “The urban proposals, though no doubt whoppingly expensive, most certainly do suggest network effects unprecedented in the Bay Area’s transit history. (The inner East Bay proposals, as currently drawn, not so much.)”

        Yeah, though I would do the Geary corridor a bit differently. Rather than having the line split at Masonic (Definitely chosen to avoid touching Golden Gate Park, and because while The Richmond neighborhood is very dense, 16-20 tph at peaks would be enough to service it’s long term demand), I’d cut off the Westernmost end of the line (West of 33rd Ave), and instead send it south through Golden Gate Park to Sunset Blvd. The line would then operate south of Sunset, cutting east around Sloat to Lake Merced Blvd going through Westlake Shopping Center before cutting east to rejoin the BART mainline at Colma.

        “But I fail to see why a duplicate tube would magically make 200,000 new riders appear from thin air. The immediate result of a second tunnel does not make the current lines all that much more frequent, comfortable, or useful, nor extend BART’s lousy urban reach in any way that makes it more useful for a wider variety of trips. All it does is add capacity to the same old limited-use crap, which isn’t really needed.”

        Actually, I’m assuming that the Second tube would enable a doubling of frequency on just about every part of the system. I am also assuming that this project would mean several (potentially as many as a dozen in the East Bay) infill stations, including no less than four of them in Central Oakland. (The second Tube is going to mean messing around with the Oakland wye as is, so I think there’s to completely revolutionize transportation in the area)

        “Also, Richmond proper is a city, but a sprawling ex-industrial one commensurate with the principles of the early “car in every driveway” era. It’s urbanism is weaker than even Berkeley’s, and it shows. The extended East Bay corridor occupying the strip between the water and the hills could reasonably be called “fully-built suburban”. It’s not dense and it’s not walkable and it doesn’t make any more sense for subways than West Seattle does, as BART’s non-commute anemia ably shows.”

        Actually, you’re underselling it again. These areas don’t have the disadvantage that West Seattle has in being isolated from the core by a massive industrial district, they’re all lined up in a geographically constrained straight line, which is something that mass transit should serve particularly well. It’s the piss poor Bus Network (one that’s badly integrated with the system to boot), and awful station locations in several areas that have kneecapped BART’s effectiveness in the Inner East Bay.

        “Past capital costs are sunk, but with eBART and Milpitas and fantasy-mappers and and Sound Transit chomping at the bit to throw good money after bad precedents, BART’s past refusals to comprehend geometry continue to have ripple effects that cannot be ignored.”

        eBART was originally a decent idea that somehow became completely retarded through a process I don’t fully understand. The San Jose extension was also stupid, but the costs are already mostly sunk (And not being paid with Alameda/San Francisco dollars at this point), and the last segment is probably the one area in all of Silicon Valley that actually deserves Rapid Transit (though even it doesn’t really need BART levels of service).

      12. You’re still very much overselling places like North Berkeley and San Leandro.

        Most of the corridor is, and shall forever remain, low-slung single-family stuff-is-far-from-other-stuff suburbia. It’s mostly-gridded suburbia, and it’s a little more tightly packed than newer suburbia (San Leandro is just over 6,000/sq.mile, and contains no foothills or outlier areas so that’s pretty representative of any given part of the city). But it’s still suburbia.

        And that’s fine. It is what it is. The corridor could probably support better and better-integrated transit than it has. But 95% of it will never find transit useful for more than a couple of life’s long-distance activities (heading to a center city for work or play), because it just isn’t built in a way that supports transit for other purposes.

        No let’s move down to Hayward, at the end of your supposedly urban-ish corridor. 150,000 people live there. Do you know how many use its two combined BART stations in a day? About 8,500. Nearly all for commuting. There is really nothing you can do to improve that, when the place in question is built-out with no interest in remaking itself, when it lacks any semblance of mixed-use or bi-directional demand appeal, and is just too damn sprawled to make any short-haul intra-area trips worth making.

        Outer BART usage is pretty much stuck where it is.

        Now again, I’m excited by the potential infill in the true “inner” East Bay. Many of the proposed infills on the existing lines would be quite useful — not so much for riders from San Francisco, but for enabling previously-unavailable intra-inner East Bay trips via rapid transit. So these aren’t really new riders requiring Transbay capacity, new tube or old.

        Doubling Transbay frequencies won’t get you many new riders either. The commuters who fill up the trains today will remain relatively constant, but just a little more spread out. (And at the distances they’re traveling, 15-minute versus 7-minute, spontaneous versus schedule-app-able frequencies won’t really affect mode choice much.) Off peak, there mostly isn’t the demand for greater frequency than exists today, and even if there were, the current Tube could handle it.

        So you can’t claim 200,000 new bodies just by doubling the frequency for the types of riders who are least elastically responsive to frequency shifts. And you can’t claim it from the added usefulness on the inner East Bay, because the added usefulness does not promise to be that whopping for cross-Bay patrons — at least not without the Geary line, which you attempted to account for separately.

        Those 200,000 really do seem like a BART bureaucrat’s fiction.

      13. “You’re still very much overselling places like North Berkeley and San Leandro.

        Most of the corridor is, and shall forever remain, low-slung single-family stuff-is-far-from-other-stuff suburbia. It’s mostly-gridded suburbia, and it’s a little more tightly packed than newer suburbia (San Leandro is just over 6,000/sq.mile, and contains no foothills or outlier areas so that’s pretty representative of any given part of the city). But it’s still suburbia.”

        And I think you’re still underestimating peoples ability to change the environment around once there’s sufficient incentive for them to do so.

        “Now again, I’m excited by the potential infill in the true “inner” East Bay. Many of the proposed infills on the existing lines would be quite useful — not so much for riders from San Francisco, but for enabling previously-unavailable intra-inner East Bay trips via rapid transit. So these aren’t really new riders requiring Transbay capacity, new tube or old.”

        The new tube would enable far easier access to Alameda, which is a dense, but isolated.

        “Doubling Transbay frequencies won’t get you many new riders either. The commuters who fill up the trains today will remain relatively constant, but just a little more spread out. (And at the distances they’re traveling, 15-minute versus 7-minute, spontaneous versus schedule-app-able frequencies won’t really affect mode choice much.) Off peak, there mostly isn’t the demand for greater frequency than exists today, and even if there were, the current Tube could handle it.”

        I’m not assuming todays frequencies, I’m assuming the frequencies of a maxed out tube (which would have at least 32 tph peak). That would mean going from 6tph per line to 12 tph per line with the new tube.

        “So you can’t claim 200,000 new bodies just by doubling the frequency for the types of riders who are least elastically responsive to frequency shifts. And you can’t claim it from the added usefulness on the inner East Bay, because the added usefulness does not promise to be that whopping for cross-Bay patrons — at least not without the Geary line, which you attempted to account for separately.

        Those 200,000 really do seem like a BART bureaucrat’s fiction.”

        I’m not assuming this system being plopped down into todays urban environment. It’s going to be as much as 30 years before this project would reach completion. I’m not even assuming that it would be built tube-first, rather I’m assuming that it would be built like this:

        -Infil Stations (At least 12 in the Inner East Bay, more than twice that many system wide)

        -Geary Sunset Subway (Can be built on it’s own, due to terminus at Colma BART, which doubles as BART’s only West Bay Yard)

        -Downtown Oakland Bypass (Needed for phase of project, and would see as a bone to longer-distance commuters, and Macarthur-Hesperian corridor riders in the longer term)

        -Oakland Wye Reconstruction and extension to Alameda (This would involve turning the wye into a transfer station, and would mean rerouting of services for an extended period of time)

        -Construction of the Second Tube (Which again I would think would be paired with improvements to Caltrain/HSR)

        I would use Value Capture, combined with Congestion Pricing as a way of raising funds for this project.

      14. I guess I can sort-of appreciate your optimism… with the serious caveat that you not fall into the trap of confusing optimism with inevitable outcomes, which seems to be the case in your above list.

        You’re also coming pretty close to playing loosely with your facts above: A few exampels:

        – You’re now suggesting 12 infill stations on the current inner East Bay BART lines? How!? I’m looking at the map, and there are 7. One is a hypothetical transfer station in the middle of nowhere; another is a highway-side P&R in the middle of nowhere. Only 5 are in actual places. And as much as I dislike existing BART’s anti-urban spacing, these are the only 5 additions that seem remotely sensible.

        – The new tube is described as traveling under the Bay from a construction starting point in West Alameda, but nowhere in the proposal does it guarantee a stop on that island. It seems a decent chance that it doesn’t intend to surface enough for a station until Jack London Square. And even if it did, Alameda in general is not dense, and West Alameda is really, really not dense.

        – So now you’re quadrupling frequencies? It still doesn’t matter! No one decides on the mode for their 40-mile Pleasanton commute based on whether the train is every 10 minutes or every 5. You are wholly misrepresenting the linear relationship between frequency and demand, which gets parabolic only at “spontaneous distances”. BART is already very frequent at those distances.

        – Lastly, and most importantly, these adamant suburbs have had BART for 40 years, and the built-out ones have barely changed in the slightest. (The outer sprawl, like Pleasanton, has of course only gotten sprawlier thanks to BART.) So clearly the sole “incentive” of rapid transit can’t do diddly-shit to improve land usage.

        If you want your input to be taken seriously, you need to take a serious look at the compounding fallacies that drive your “predictions” and your assessment of “needs”.

      15. “I guess I can sort-of appreciate your optimism… with the serious caveat that you not fall into the trap of confusing optimism with inevitable outcomes, which seems to be the case in your above list.”

        Point taken, though you fall into the “inevitable outcomes” trap yourself. (Albeit in a different fashion.

        “– You’re now suggesting 12 infill stations on the current inner East Bay BART lines? How!? I’m looking at the map, and there are 7. One is a hypothetical transfer station in the middle of nowhere; another is a highway-side P&R in the middle of nowhere. Only 5 are in actual places. And as much as I dislike existing BART’s anti-urban spacing, these are the only 5 additions that seem remotely sensible.”

        There are five other places in the Inner East Bay where I think an Infill Station can work: Moeser Lane in El Cerrito, Tunnel Rd in North Oakland, 27th St in Central Oakland (that I think could be combined with a re-routing of BART mainline from the 980 freeway to Telegraph Ave), and Oakland Chinatown and Jefferson Square in Downtown Oakland (They’re two of the four new Downtown Oakland stations I mentioned).

        “– The new tube is described as traveling under the Bay from a construction starting point in West Alameda, but nowhere in the proposal does it guarantee a stop on that island. It seems a decent chance that it doesn’t intend to surface enough for a station until Jack London Square. And even if it did, Alameda in general is not dense, and West Alameda is really, really not dense.”

        The previous proposal did guarantee a station on the island, two of them in fact. Again, Alameda is actually really dense (It’s a streetcar suburb after all). Alameda already has frequent bus service on the island, and significant commuter service. Having a transit connection between the island and Downtown Oakland that doesn’t involve going through the Posey and Webster tubes (an absolute hell if there was one) would be an absolute game changer there. I think BART could be used as vehicle to kickstart the development of the Military at the Western end of the Island.

        “– So now you’re quadrupling frequencies? It still doesn’t matter! No one decides on the mode for their 40-mile Pleasanton commute based on whether the train is every 10 minutes or every 5. You are wholly misrepresenting the linear relationship between frequency and demand, which gets parabolic only at “spontaneous distances”. BART is already very frequent at those distances.”

        I’m not assuming every train is going out to outer edges of the system here.

        “– Lastly, and most importantly, these adamant suburbs have had BART for 40 years, and the built-out ones have barely changed in the slightest. (The outer sprawl, like Pleasanton, has of course only gotten sprawlier thanks to BART.) So clearly the sole “incentive” of rapid transit can’t do diddly-shit to improve land usage.”

        LOS held us back big time, and we’ve finally gotten rid of it out here. There’s this thing, while you’d rather see any remotely suburban area ignored in term Rapid Transit development, I see the Urban areas being voted by Suburban areas on this. I want to turn the suburbs against each other, specifically seeking to make a coalition with what I regard as “redeemable” suburbs (like many of those in the Inner East Bay that I think can be retrofitted into more city over time), against what I regard as the “unredeemable” suburbs (the ones East of the Oakland Hills).

        “If you want your input to be taken seriously, you need to take a serious look at the compounding fallacies that drive your “predictions” and your assessment of “needs.”

        The Bay Area’s extreme geography distorts our urban geometry in a similarly extreme fashion (Look at how much area within a 12 mile radius (something you’ve used before) of downtown San Francisco is under water or a park of Mountains.).

      16. Again, FDW, there’s a wormholiness about your absolute conviction about plans and outcomes, down to finite routing details and regulatory changes found nowhere but in your own napkin versions of the proposals, that renders your voluminous writing above specious in extremis. Just look at how many prerequisites you’ve itemized for your radical remaking of the East Bay, each one dependent on every other. And then you portray the hundreds of thousands of BART riders and $4 billion in new underwater tunnels as both cause and effect.

        It just doesn’t pass the smell test.

        I’m not assuming every train is going out to outer edges of the system here.

        You’re still not making any sense, then. Some common segments are already served every 2-5 minutes today. Frequency can beget demand, but there’s a point of diminishing returns, and you’ve continually failed to see that you don’t earn hundreds of thousands of new riders by surpassing that point with mere duplication. With the exception of Geary (which, again, you considered separately), this plan is essentially about duplication.

        There are five other places…

        Okay, so now we’re clear that your proposing in a vacuum, and not in relation to any formally announced plan. As loudly and as frequently as argue for adhering to the principles of urban service geometry, that can’t make every place on earth Manhattan, and I’m not sure your brain-fart acknowledges that.

        Jack London is lamentably inaccessible from BART, more due to the massive freeway and its pedestrian-inhospitable environs than due to the 15-minute walk. But Jefferson Square is only 10 minutes from 12th Street, with no barrier. It’s easily doable today, and it just isn’t busy enough for a separate investment.

        Lake Merritt station is two blocks from Chinatown, so there’s really no need for another stop there.

        ——

        I’m guessing you’re local to the Bay Area, and therefore have more stake in this than I do. My advice, as someone who has seen altogether too much reality-warping on transit topics in my time in Seattle, is to work really hard to isolate your internet-thought-looping tendencies from your real, on-the-ground, sometimes-harsh observed realities. You have not made the case for doubling Transbay capacity, any more than the Sales Team For BART’s Future has. Your logic is on shakier ground than your Marina District.

        “Transit’s future is rosy and expansionary” is an future possibility that must be demonstrated, then pursued through hard work. You can’t treat it as a starting point.

      17. “these adamant suburbs have had BART for 40 years, and the built-out ones have barely changed in the slightest.”

        The historical context changes over time. The people who lived there 40 years ago are now retired and their children are grown. The price of gas has increased, the price of housing has increased, the price of everything has increased. The Bay Area’s job profile has changed. People are living in Hayward because it’s the closest to San Francisco they can afford an apartment. People are more concerned about climate change. They are demanding more walkability, etc. In the 1970s San Jose’s building standard was 2 stories but that’s slowly changing.

        I’m not saying Fremont will definitely build a mixed-use village around its station like it has never gotten around to, but at the same time you can’t say things will never change. People’s attitudes change over time and eventually reach a tipping point. Likewise, you can’t say that Pugetopolis stations in 2020 will turn out exactly like Bay Area stations in the 1970s.

        “The outer sprawl, like Pleasanton, has of course only gotten sprawlier thanks to BART.”

        And it wouldn’t have gotten sprawlier without it? The real estate boom gobbled up land in all directions, both where BART was and where it wasn’t.

      18. d.p.

        “Again, FDW, there’s a wormholiness about your absolute conviction about plans and outcomes, down to finite routing details and regulatory changes found nowhere but in your own napkin versions of the proposals, that renders your voluminous writing above specious in extremis. Just look at how many prerequisites you’ve itemized for your radical remaking of the East Bay, each one dependent on every other. And then you portray the hundreds of thousands of BART riders and $4 billion in new underwater tunnels as both cause and effect.”

        I’ll admit that there are certain part where I’ve been either overly confident, or not clear about the different between actual plan and my ideas, you’ve arguably been even more deterministic and overly certain in your thinking. (I’ve been lurking on STB since 2009 or so)

        “You’re still not making any sense, then. Some common segments are already served every 2-5 minutes today. Frequency can beget demand, but there’s a point of diminishing returns, and you’ve continually failed to see that you don’t earn hundreds of thousands of new riders by surpassing that point with mere duplication. With the exception of Geary (which, again, you considered separately), this plan is essentially about duplication.

        There’s no point where BART goes down to 2-minute frequencies, and 3-minute frequencies only happen for a couple hours during the peak in the peak direction, and only from West Oakland to Daly City (none of the Downtown Oakland stations currently get BART’s max frequency during Rush Hours).

        And to clarify the accounting, the Geary number I cited is what I think would represent demand solely within the West Bay. The Additional 200,000 riders I cited for the Second Transbay Tube would come from throughout the system, not just the East Bay.

        “Okay, so now we’re clear that your proposing in a vacuum, and not in relation to any formally announced plan. As loudly and as frequently as argue for adhering to the principles of urban service geometry, that can’t make every place on earth Manhattan, and I’m not sure your brain-fart acknowledges that.”

        Oh, I know that. But you don’t have to make every area Manhattan to make it suitable for Rapid Transit. The Three Stations in Central Oakland though, can probably be made into something close to it though.

        “Jack London is lamentably inaccessible from BART, more due to the massive freeway and its pedestrian-inhospitable environs than due to the 15-minute walk. But Jefferson Square is only 10 minutes from 12th Street, with no barrier. It’s easily doable today, and it just isn’t busy enough for a separate investment.

        Lake Merritt station is two blocks from Chinatown, so there’s really no need for another stop there.”

        I would argue that a Center-city area like Downtown Oakland does justify more closely spaced stops here.

        “I’m guessing you’re local to the Bay Area, and therefore have more stake in this than I do. My advice, as someone who has seen altogether too much reality-warping on transit topics in my time in Seattle, is to work really hard to isolate your internet-thought-looping tendencies from your real, on-the-ground, sometimes-harsh observed realities.”

        I’ve lived in the Bay Area for most of the last 14 years, and I know those realities all too well. This is why I’ll chew out anyone who thinks the insanely overrated Divisadero/Castro corridor deserves Rapid Transit, or anyone that somehow think that San Francisco’s transit problem end at the borders of the city of San Francisco (Daly City is just as dense as San Francisco, and really, really needs better Transit, which is why I’m an advocate for getting rid of Samtrans.).

        “You have not made the case for doubling Transbay capacity, any more than the Sales Team For BART’s Future has. Your logic is on shakier ground than your Marina District.”

        I thought this was obvious, but I’ll state it clearly: There is extreme demand for housing in the Bay Area for a variety of reasons, the most steady being our exceptionally mild weather. There will likely continue to be considerable demand for more housing in the Bay Area in the future because of this.

        There is also considerable for more urban environments in this current day and age, because people have realized that long commutes suck ass and being close to amenities is awesome. It is likely that there will continue to be considerable demand for more urban environments going into the future.

        Now, with San Francisco’s housing boom/crisis, the largest swathe of affordable urban area is now in the East Bay. Thus, it wouldn’t be unexpected for development to start hitting the area in time. (The process is arguably already starting)

        Lastly, the Bay Area (As in ,the Nine Counties) is expected to grow to over 9 million people by 2040, and will likely hit 10 million by 2050, and most of that growth is going to happen along major transit corridors.

        I think my logic here is reasonably sound, if ambitious. (And I’d rather aim high here)

        Mike Orr:

        “What’s LOS?”

        LOS, or Level of Service is a planning measure that was used in development and transportation planing. It consists solely of how long cars are held up at any intersection, with long waits obviously being bad under it. You can see how this would sabotage Pedestrian, Bike, and Transit improvements, along with Dense Development. We’ve recently gotten rid of it out here, though you guys might still be dealing with it in Washington.

      19. My only “certainty in my thinking” is that predicting future outcomes that entirely defy past precedent is a folly.

        the most steady being our exceptionally mild weather.

        If you’ve lurked here a while, you know how skeptical I am of population-explosion arguments that boil down to “climate refugees + our awesomeness”. Now, the Bay Area is already one of this continent’s prime megalopoles, so your 33% growth prediction seems a lot more likely than the 300% growth predictions and Issaquanhattan visions of some STBers. And I agree that the best outcome would be to focus much of that growth in the inner East Bay.

        But the geography of growth patterns has yet to be seen, and despite your protestations, the resistance to physical evolution across your key corridor seems to have infected the younger generations as well. (Presumably because younger people in suburban apotheoses have self-selected for that lifestyle, and continue to see their s.f. homes as investments not to be toyed with.)

        So it’s a bit rich to claim that a mostly-duplicated BART line will magically possess newcomers to fill it.

        And hey… what if your perpetual-growth prediction is inaccurate? California now has more internal (intra-U.S.) out-migration than in-migration, and transnational in-migration appears to be slowing. What if the high cost of living and lessened quality of life finally reach their breaking point?

        It seems pretty dumb to pursue a policy of duplication when a big part of the problem is the many other unmet transportation needs. BART doubling might turn out to be much like the highway expansions that state DOTs keep pushing on the public — unnecessary, based on terrible modeling, leaden with opportunity costs.

        I would argue that a Center-city area like Downtown Oakland does justify more closely spaced stops here.

        A Chinatown stop would be so close to Lake Merritt station that the front of the train would reach one before the back had left the other. A “Jefferson Square” infill would abut the highway and be, at best, 6 blocks from what exists. Built-up contiguous Oakland in general can do better than it has, but downtown Oakland is smaller than you seem to understand, and is basically well-served already. It’s hard not to see a multi-layer veil of fantasy over your eyes when you seem to be looking so cock-eyed at the facts on the ground.

        (That said, I can totally see the need for an infill between 19th and MacArthur, even without an expensive line relocation. That one should absolutely be on the table, and sadly doesn’t appear to be yet.)

        3-minute frequencies only happen for a couple hours during the peak in the peak direction, and only from West Oakland to Daly City.

        You’re willfully misleading. There can be as many as 13 trips per hour in one direction between downtown SF and downtown Oakland. The trains are often 2 minutes apart. That’s no-slouch frequency, and you will earn precisely zero new riders by the mere happenstance of doubling it.

        No new tubes are required to increase service off-peak, if ever deemed necessary.

        The Additional 200,000 riders I cited for the Second Transbay Tube would come from throughout the system, not just the East Bay.

        Again, unsubstantiated. You do know that the Transbay portion of BART’s ridership is only about 200,000 rides today, right? You’re literally talking about doubling it.

        And [the sprawl beyond the mountains] wouldn’t have gotten sprawlier without it?

        Honestly, in the specific case of the outer East Bay, probably not. Those highway passes really did become unsustainably maxed out at peak, and the supposed quality-of-life appeal of sprawling further really did come to an end.

        Until BART enabled and tacitly lent its endorsement to it. Now you could move there believing an easy and “green” commute was to be your destiny (even if it often turned out that BART didn’t serve your needs, and that your life remained 98% or 100% dependent on your car).

        You’ll note that the towns west of 280, remote and lovely and desireable, but as inaccessible as Pleasanton-before-BART, have not turned into Pleasonton-today. What you you think would happen if someone built rapid transit to Half Moon Bay?

      20. “You’re willfully misleading. There can be as many as 13 trips per hour in one direction between downtown SF and downtown Oakland. The trains are often 2 minutes apart. That’s no-slouch frequency, and you will earn precisely zero new riders by the mere happenstance of doubling it.”

        …should not be italicized.

      21. “If you’ve lurked here a while, you know how skeptical I am of population-explosion arguments that boil down to “climate refugees + our awesomeness”. Now, the Bay Area is already one of this continent’s prime megalopoles, so your 33% growth prediction seems a lot more likely than the 300% growth predictions and Issaquanhattan visions of some STBers. And I agree that the best outcome would be to focus much of that growth in the inner East Bay.”

        Well, I could also point to our strong local economy (Tourism, Technology, Industry, Finance) as a continuing driver for growth. And actually, my growth rate is closer to 50% by 2050, then 30%, since I’m only counting the Nine Counties (San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano, Napa, Sonoma, and Marin) in my projections.

        I would say the number I spat out would be a median projection for growth, and that various events could raise or lower this number. There’s also the fact that depending on how the region responds to this population growth in terms of policy could very well affect the amount of “Real City” population growth the region gets. At the lower end, we might see 500,000 people total in the Primary and Secondary (Primary being San Francisco+Daly City+Inner East Bay, Secondary being smaller blobs in areas like the Peninsula, San Jose, Vallejo, etc), “Real City” areas. At the higher end, we could be talking well over 1 million in just the Primary “Real City”, and more than half that much again in the secondary ones.

        “But the geography of growth patterns has yet to be seen, and despite your protestations, the resistance to physical evolution across your key corridor seems to have infected the younger generations as well. (Presumably because younger people in suburban apotheoses have self-selected for that lifestyle, and continue to see their s.f. homes as investments not to be toyed with.)”

        Isn’t that the same “inane projecting of present habits into the future indefinitely” that you’re complaining about me doing?

        “You’re willfully misleading. There can be as many as 13 trips per hour in one direction between downtown SF and downtown Oakland. The trains are often 2 minutes apart. That’s no-slouch frequency, and you will earn precisely zero new riders by the mere happenstance of doubling it.”

        I’m not misleading at all, I’m citing BART’s actual schedules here.

        “Again, unsubstantiated. You do know that the Transbay portion of BART’s ridership is only about 200,000 rides today, right? You’re literally talking about doubling it.”

        It’s not 200,000, it’s 300,000. And the Bay Bridge+Ferries is another 300,000.

      22. I’m not misleading at all, I’m citing BART’s actual schedules here.

        No, citing actual schedules is what I did. Between 5pm an 6pm, 13 trains run direct from downtown SF to Oakland’s 12th and 19th Streets. That’s hardly the ridership-depressing infrequency you implied. Ceteris paribus, you won’t get a single new rider from putting those trains closer together

        —-

        Anyway, we’re done here. I’ve given your the repeated benefit of the doubt, but you’ve amply proven yourself the Great Transit Tautologist of the Bay Area, your region’s Peyton or Ben: you can’t fathom that insane growth and insane transit investments aren’t both so assured as to reinforce each other.

        I said some level of moderate-to-significant growth is within the realm of possibility, but that you can’t just base your predictions on “our awesomeness”. You came back with even higher numbers, plus doubling of populations in many fully-built-out areas, mostly based on “our awesomeness”.

        I noted that outmigration from California to elsewhere in the U.S. now exceeds inmigration from from elsewhere in the U.S., and the very real possibility that Peak Moving To Cali is behind us, and you responded with… silence.

        You also doubled down on your strength in a single, monocultural industry, whose future employment needs are unknown, as the sole driver of the Bay Area’s future. That seems as dangerous an economic strategy as it is a fallacious predictor of growth.

        Isn’t that the same “inane projecting of present habits into the future indefinitely” that you’re complaining about me doing?

        Not at all. I’m noting an observed trend that is certain to have some effect on future growth patterns by having an effect on present political patterns. I’m neither predicting “no change ever” nor “great change precisely in accordance with my desires”, which are the two fallacious extremes seen so often in internet rambling.

        It’s not 200,000, it’s 300,000.

        Not according to literally every news article, or any other source I can find. 200,000 is the number of Transbay riders that BART itself publicizes — about half of total daily system usage.

        Reality-warp much?

      23. “No, citing actual schedules is what I did. Between 5pm an 6pm, 13 trains run direct from downtown SF to Oakland’s 12th and 19th Streets. That’s hardly the ridership-depressing infrequency you implied. Ceteris paribus, you won’t get a single new rider from putting those trains closer together.”

        The first part is true, but so is what I said before. The second part is completely non-factual. New riders WILL show up with more frequency, it’s just a matter of the cost being worth that benefit or not.

        “I said some level of moderate-to-significant growth is within the realm of possibility, but that you can’t just base your predictions on “our awesomeness”. You came back with even higher numbers, plus doubling of populations in many fully-built-out areas, mostly based on “our awesomeness”.”

        I never said what my exact plausible upper and lower bounds were for the region in total for 2050 (They’re 8.5 million and 12 million). And that’s not assuming some black swan event happening.

        “I noted that outmigration from California to elsewhere in the U.S. now exceeds inmigration from from elsewhere in the U.S., and the very real possibility that Peak Moving To Cali is behind us, and you responded with… silence.”

        I am aware of that of that, but the later is hardly a certainty.

        “You also doubled down on your strength in a single, monocultural industry, whose future employment needs are unknown, as the sole driver of the Bay Area’s future. That seems as dangerous an economic strategy as it is a fallacious predictor of growth.”

        I think most people know where employment for everything is going over the medium-to-long term.

        “Not at all. I’m noting an observed trend that is certain to have some effect on future growth patterns by having an effect on present political patterns. I’m neither predicting “no change ever” nor “great change precisely in accordance with my desires”, which are the two fallacious extremes seen so often in internet rambling.”

        I would argue that what you said before falls squarely in the former.

        “Not according to literally every news article, or any other source I can find. 200,000 is the number of Transbay riders that BART itself publicizes — about half of total daily system usage.”

        It’s closer to 300,000 than 200,000. Transbay Tube and Bay Bridge ridership tend to mirror one another.

        “Reality-warp much?”

        Differing views of society is more like it. I’m less satisfied with the status quo than you are, and feel that more radical change is needed in the way we do things.

        And besides, you’ve been basing you’re entire argument on the supposed fact that I would plonk this project down into the Bay Area of today, and that it’s my top priority overall, or near it, just because I have nice things to say about it. Depending on how I would order my priorities for Bay Area, it wouldn’t even be TENTH on the list, and it might not even be in the top 25. (Number one for me would be a single set of route numbers for the region, look at this madness: Here are schedules of the the 22, the 22, the 22, the 22, and the 22. And this isn’t the only example of the silliness)

      24. It’s closer to 300,000 than 200,000.

        Not according to the fucking reported data!

        New riders WILL show up with more frequency.

        Bullcrap. Trains every 3-5 minutes would represent “spontaneous” frequency even for 1-mile trips, never mind for cross-Bay trips. You don’t get one single new rider from increasing this. You’re out of your mind here.

        I would argue that what you said before falls squarely in the former.

        And you’d be as wrong as you are about seemingly every other assessment.

        I’m less satisfied with the status quo than you are…

        I would love to see a radical remaking that allows an expansion of real, pervasive-like-Europe urbanism in this country. But every shred of evidence says that ship has sailed. West Coast “density” is all about slashing and burning and building shittastic megablocks on top of garages. West Coast transit is all about 75-mile BART lines that run around empty most of the day and night. West Coast zoning is all about stagnancy first and terrible form second.

        And West Coast transit advocacy seems to see rail as the cause of all that is good and right in the world, rather than an effect of an environment that is suited for it.

        You want to see the world take a turn for the better? Trying living in it for once. The first step is to curtail your tendency towards claiming a right to your own facts, as seen throughout your post above.

      25. “Bullcrap. Trains every 3-5 minutes would represent “spontaneous” frequency even for 1-mile trips, never mind for cross-Bay trips. You don’t get one single new rider from increasing this. You’re out of your mind here.”

        No bullcrap, you would get more ridership from increasing service, even at that level. It just depends on whether or not there’s the kind of demand for it. (I’m speaking in abstract here, not specifically about BART)

        “And you’d be as wrong as you are about seemingly every other assessment.”

        I’m fine with being wrong, that means I learned something. And I’d rather learn than sit on my laurels.

        “You want to see the world take a turn for the better? Trying living in it for once.”

        Which I fucking do.

        “The first step is to curtail your tendency towards claiming a right to your own facts, as seen throughout your post above.”

        Most of what I’ve been saying so far is Educated Opinion, not dogma.

      26. Both in “the abstract” and in reality, at a certain point returns diminish to literally zero.

        Your failure to understand that cross-Bay transit modeshare is unaffected by 3-minutes service versus 5-minute service suggests that you live in denial of basic geometric facts. “In the abstract”.

      27. …And I spend altogether too much time on a blog where people insist that the only thing keeping dried-up 20th-century-aerospace time capsule Everett, WA from becoming the next Bellevue/Seattle/Manhattan is the lack of a train running every 10 minutes with a stop at every mall along the way.

        I’ve gotten good at recognizing reality-warpers when I read them.

      28. “Your failure to understand that cross-Bay transit modeshare is unaffected by 3-minutes service versus 5-minute service suggests that you live in denial of basic geometric facts. “In the abstract”.”

        d.p, you use the phrase “geometric facts” all the fucking time, but I’ve never seen you explain it once, so I’ve assumed that it’s a code word for “project that offends my sensibilities”? So could you please properly explain it for posterity?

      29. I don’t know if Jarrett Walker was the first to use the term “geometry” to describe the unassailable relationships between transit outcomes and the actual facts on the ground — frequency versus complexity in network structure, service ideals versus finite costs, speed balanced against access, capacity and demand and the fundamentals of land use, and the types of trips and uses for which frequency and capacity will matter most — but he has certainly spent much of his career defending the universality of such relationships against those who practice wishful-thinking-based prognostication.

        Crucial to understanding these relationships is avoiding the “if you build it, they will come trap”, wherein your pursuit of a certain mode leads you to presume virtually infinite demand, as you are doing above. You have spent most of this thread nudging yourself into the “wishful thinking” camp.

      30. “I don’t know if Jarrett Walker was the first to use the term “geometry” to describe the unassailable relationships between transit outcomes and the actual facts on the ground — frequency versus complexity in network structure, service ideals versus finite costs, speed balanced against access, capacity and demand and the fundamentals of land use, and the types of trips and uses for which frequency and capacity will matter most — but he has certainly spent much of his career defending the universality of such relationships against those who practice wishful-thinking-based prognostication.”

        Okay, so it meant what I thought it actually meant.

        “Crucial to understanding these relationships is avoiding the “if you build it, they will come trap”, wherein your pursuit of a certain mode leads you to presume virtually infinite demand, as you are doing above. You have spent most of this thread nudging yourself into the “wishful thinking” camp.”

        I’m not in the wishful thinking camp. I understand that you have to learn to crawl before you can walk (Several of what would be my top 10 priorities for the Transit network focus on rationalizing and improving our horrible outside of San Francisco bus network). But you’ve been looking at this project in an overly negative light. It’s (to give a Seattle comparison), less Sand Point LINK or West Seattle LINK, and more along the lines of Ballard Option D (plus the downtown segment): High Cost, and High Benefits, but there’s other projects (Like improving capacity in the existing Tube and expanding Transbay Bus Service while giving it it’s own lane over the Bay Bridge.) that would provide a similar benefit in the medium-term on a shorter schedule and considerably lower cost. (And I would do those first, maximizing the capacity that we can get from those before moving onto the Second Tube.)

        And besides, the 4-Track Second Tube is to an extent a ploy to get the counties outside of San Francisco (specifically San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa, and maybe Santa Clara) to pay for the hugely expensive Geary subway (The entire project is going to likely going to cost something like 20 Billion dollars at current prices, with the Geary Subway alone probably being 2/3rds of that, depending on alignment), so that San Francisco itself can afford other Transportation improvements beside it. (Like the Central Subway Phases 3 and 4, and the Judah/16th Subway)

    4. The Purple Line extension in LA is harder than it looks; it’s a geological mess down there, they’re basically digging through the La Brea Tar Pits. Just for reference.

    5. Bleah. A second Transbay tube is a good idea, but for *intercity* service — it should be standard gauge, not this BART custom weirdness. And yes, it’s dead for the foreseeable future; the last chance for it was in the CHSRA scoping, years ago.

      1. Technically, I don’t see any obstacles to dual-gauging the track. BART has 5’6″ gauge, so a 4’8.5″ track could be installed between one of the BART rails and its third rail.

        Of course, assuming BART cars aren’t up to the FRA standards of overkill, there would be a legal obstacle. Assuming no waver, though, it seems there should be gaps between every-fifteen-minute service where an intercity train could get through. Or maybe only peak service could run in this hypothetical dual-gauge new tube?

      2. Actually, I think if the Second Transbay Tube plan does start to move forward, it might end being a 4-track tube. There would be two tracks for BART, and two for Caltrain/HSR. Such a configuration would probably mean a touchdown at the foot of Howard Street, rather than the more easterly location (Around AT&T Park, where the crossing distance would be shorter) than what BART drew.

      3. Oh, goodie! Then instead of a $2 billion tunnel, it can be a $4 billion tunnel!

        Anyway…

        If HSR ever happens, it’s going to pass through San Jose and then come up the Peninsula. It isn’t going the long way around and skipping the places so many business travelers are headed.

  4. Oh, great, “fixing” traffic signals on Mercer. Surely at the expense of reasonable wait time for pedestrians.

    If that problem was just concentrated along Mercer, one road that really is busy at many times of day that wouldn’t be so bad. But super-long light cycles for Mercer cause multi-block queues on all the streets that cross it during rush hour, resulting in similarly extreme measures taken on those streets in the name of “car storage” (even though they’re only needed occasionally). Will SDOT ensure those other intersections work for pedestrians? At least off-peak? They haven’t so far! Just check out the stupefying wait times at Westlake/9th Ave N (west of SLU Park, used for access to the park), Roy/9th, Valley/Westlake, and even Aloha/Dexter — all intersections that see a tiny amount of traffic off-peak but have ridiculous throughput-maximizing traffic signals running all damn day.

    The overly long cycles are particularly bad when combined with sidewalk and crosswalk closures that force pedestrians to make extra crossings or prohibit us from crossing an intersection in either order.

    1. The first time I read that sentence, I thought it said they were going to make Mercer less bad through better stigmatization.

    2. And of course, not a word about signal priority for the 70/71/72/73 in their “adaptive signaling” proposal.

  5. Re: council race entrants

    Rice seems reasonable so far. He wants the NSCC-Northgqte pedestrian bridge along with sidewalk and street lighting improvements,

    As much as I loved the Lagos’ and their restaurant I don’t agree with the son and his policy positions. I don’t want to see the U-District station site turned into a plaza. I don’t think freezing NE Seattle in amber outside of the U-District and Roosevelt is a good idea. I certainly don’t want to give neighborhood councils any more teeth than they already have.

    1. It is hard to tell from just this little snippet of information, but I would agree with your assessment of the candidates and their positions. It will be interesting to hear from more of them as time goes on. One assumption that is made is that candidates for the outer districts (such as the 5th district) will focus on protecting single family homed zoning. I don’t think that will necessarily be the case. In the first place, there are lots of apartments in the area (Northgate, Bitter Lake, Lake City). Second, the housing is not the same as the housing closer to the city. The houses sit on much bigger lots, and generally speaking, people don’t care as much about the housing style (although that has changed a bit as the neighborhoods have gotten nicer). For the most part, the houses, and housing lots aren’t the super nice, super expensive neighborhoods most people think of when they think of the north end (e. g. Fremont, Wallingford, etc.). Parking is less of an issue as well. This means that liberalizing ADU or DADU rules might be popular. Even new apartment construction would probably be OK, as long as people had confidence the new apartments wouldn’t be ugly.

      For the most part, the biggest issue in the area is sidewalks. I think a candidate who ran on “more sidewalks, more housing” would stand a very good chance of carrying the fifth district.

    2. The intention of creating the districts was to slow growth, because the people who complained that “The city isn’t paying attention to my neighborhood concerns” was mainly about “The city isn’t paying attention to my single-family and parking concerns.” And the districts were drawn to maximize single-family influence in all districts and dilute the urbanist influence. But just like judges and parties, the results aren’t always as anticipated. There will probably be some moderates or even urbanists in different districts at different times. Because most councilmembers know that running a city and keeping it prosperous/affordable/functioning require doing certain things, things that collide with some NIMBY interests. So they’re almost always more realistic than the single-family/John Fox activists. It’s just a matter of degree: how much more realistic are they?

      1. Right, there goals were clear, and for the sake of argument, I will call those goals “anti-urban: But I think it is actually a lot harder for them to draw a map that represents their anti-urban goals than they first imagined. For every Maple Leaf, there is a Lake City. For every Broadview, there is Northgate. Unless you made a really convoluted map, you are likely to include a lot of apartments in with your single family home neighborhoods. As I said above, the problem is even worse for them. Maple Leaf and Broadview are a lot different than Licton Springs or Pinehurst. They are nicer, to put it bluntly. The homes are worth more, and they either have sidewalks, or have such little traffic that it isn’t an issue. I can tell you right now that someone who lives in a house in Lake City would rank “neighborhood parking” or “loss of housing character” way down their list of concerns.

        In other words, their core constituency is spread throughout Seattle, and includes the single family housing parts of Fremont, Wallingford, Maple Leaf, Broadview, Broadmoor, View Ridge, Blue Ridge, etc.

        So not only is it possible that someone who represents these “outer districts” will not only be a moderate on these issues (as you suggest) but even an urbanist — simply because they are representing the views of the majority of the residents (“more sidewalks, more housing and better transportation solutions”).

  6. “Deep-bore tunnel slipping into 2017?”

    To be more accurate: “STP dials back delusional, implausible optimism a few notches and gestures towards possibly admitting what’s been painfully obvious for a while now.”

  7. Hold the phone. Besides the new delays in the repairs they don’t even know how they’re going to extract the boring machine when it’s done with the 99 tunnel?

    “One stakeholder asked how the tunneling machine will be extracted once it gets to the north end. Preedy said that plan is still under development but that it’s clear the machine will have to be broken into “fairly small parts” that can be hauled on trucks through city streets – no lifting mechanism here.”

    1. Not a surprise. The plan all along has been for Bertha to be cut into pieces and and hauled off by truck for salvage and scrap. There has never been a plan to use her for anything else once she’s done.

      1. I’ve seen in some places before where they just lift the cutterhead and mount it near the portal as some sort of art piece. It would be nice if they did that with Bertha. Then they can cut up and recycle the rest of it.

    2. What’s the alternative? Keeping it as a plug at the end?

      The tunnel borers belong to the contractor. At best, the borers get taken apart and reconfigured with new parts on their way to the next job. The contractor digging NorthLink is the same contractor as the dig between Westlake and Capitol Hill. Brenda was saved and used again. Different contractor dug between Husky Stadium and Capitol Hill. Togo and Balto are now somewhere else.

    3. I think the concern is over the fact that the “plan is still under development”, not what they actually do. I’m no civil engineer, but generally speaking, I assumed that when it came to projects like this, you had it all planned out.

  8. Huge NIMBY turnout at the Mercer Island City Council meeting on Monday in opposition to the 2nd Park and Ride at the community center. It seems to be dead on arrival despite costing MI nothing.

    1. So, the people on MI want more transit center parking, but they don’t want another parking garage?

      In any case, it doesn’t seem like an ideal location for a long-term parking solution. It seems to me that a location south of I-90 near where the station will be sited would be better. If the city builds it, they can make rules for it that would make it unattractive to off-island commuters.

      1. I finally got time to watch the meeting last night — wife’s out of town on business, and the kids and I just got back from an overseas vacation over Thanksgiving.

        I agree that the project is dead, not so much because of the council, but because the schedule can’t be made to work. At least some of the commentators made it clear that they would be happy to tie this thing up in litigation long enough to make the new lot useless as a relief lot while South Bellevue was being redeveloped. At that point the deal doesn’t make sense for ST.

        My read [perhaps I’m seeing what I want to see] of the 6 council members who will be around when this is decided is that they were fairly evenly split on this issue (along reasonably predictable lines). I suspect that the outpouring of opposition at the (five hour) council meeting — they had a lot of other business to conduct, but they spent over an hour and a half on this issue — will sway them against this proposal, but some of them could probably be kept on board if enough Islanders chime in in support, but the proposal is still officially on the table.

        I think that the characterization of the opponents is somewhat unfair.

        The principal objection is that it takes land away from Luther Burbank Park and uses it in a manner inconsistent with the park master plan. That master plan was reached after a very contentious set of debates less than ten years ago, and is designed to ensure that LBP is left, to the greatest extent possible, undeveloped. One of the long time council members states that he believes that the inclusion of the proposed site in LBP was a clerical error [It adjoins the park, but wasn’t part of the former county park] , but opponents assert that this is not the case, and the hill in question is a popular site within the park. Ultimately, once you sweep away their emotional histrionics, this is a legitimate policy argument between preserving open space and providing access to transit.

        The next most common objection were worries about traffic impacts of access to the lot, especially during the period while it is being used as mitigation for the loss of spaces at South Mercer P&R. While I’d like to see a traffic study, I too worry about the possible additional traffic on North Mercer Way between City Hall and the Community Center. Access from downtown Mercer Island/ICW is also tricky, and may overload fairly narrow streets. While I think that these impacts could be mitigated, there are legitimate policy concerns here.

        There are also concerns about the quality of pedestrian access between the proposed parking structure and the existing P&R. These also seem legitimate to me, but could probably be mitigated.

        One commentator worried about impermeability standards [my (probably unfair) sense is that her concern was more pretextual than genuine, but her point is nevertheless well taken]. There were a few of the predictable l00t rail comments, and complaints that we are being asked to mitigate a Bellevue problem [blithely ignoring the ~$10M that ST is effectively giving us to do so]. There was also some whining about growth in general.

        Going into watching the meeting, I was ready to fire off mail to the council urging them in the strongest possible terms to support the proposal, now I’m not so sure. The concerns about giving up land at LBP are legitimate and difficult policy decisions, and I’m afraid that my support here might be based on narrow, selfish concerns about my access to convenient parking rather than good policy.

        ST are to be commended on a creative solution to an ongoing problem, especially given the constraints within which they were asked to work. It’s worth pointing out that ST need to find alternate parking somewhere while South Bellevue is rebuilt. One obvious answer is Eastgate (which has some capacity) plus perhaps the area used while Eastgate was being rebuilt. But this would require some sort of reroute of the 550 and/or restructuring of the 550/554. Either of these options would probably result in significant additional operational costs. It’s not entirely unbelievable that these costs would be greater than ST’s contribution to the proposed new MI lot.

        While this is clearly a very good deal for Mercer Island. They get a ~$15M parking structure that they control — which is apparently their number 2 transportation priority — for very little (basically the $6M of mitigation money ST has already promised them for the loss of accessibility caused by their taking of the I-90 center lanes, and the temporary use of some city owned land). But it isn’t perfect. The council would rather avoid a commuter only parking structure, they’d prefer a parking structure that also served downtown and MICA. This parking structure serves downtown poorly, and MICA very poorly. I think, at this point, that the council has done the necessary due diligence to suggest that this is about the least bad option available for a lot — the Walgreen’s lot would have been better located, but the attempt to put a lot there became untenable, and in any case, putting a parking structure there would be a very poor land use decision. Moreover, I’d worry about traffic congestion through downtown.

        In conclusion, while this wasn’t a completely altruistic move from ST, MI wants something like this more than ST: it isn’t the end of the world for ST if it doesn’t go through. While there’s some truth to the accusation that MI wants more parking on the Island, but is unwilling to allow any more parking on the Island, I don’t really think that this accusation is entirely fair: there are enough problems with this particular site that it really isn’t a no-brainer. There was also some talk against the proposed use of MI P&R rather than South Bellevue P&R. At this point, I’m not ready to declare that a problem, but it could easily become one. While I believe ST are doing good work trying to minimize the negative impacts on the Island, there is no doubt that there will be some. It’s difficult to see much benefit for MI from this proposal, so basically, MI is being asked to take one for the region. That’s fine, it’s even a reasonable request, but it’s also reasonable to expect ST to have to convince people that this is a good idea.

      2. Oh… one interesting statement from ST staff was that MI P&R wasn’t included in the paid parking pilot study because the buses there were already at capacity. [This was in response to a question from a cit councilor who seemed like they thought it might have been a good thing to try.

      3. Does the South Bellevue P&R really have to be mitigated? What if they just close it? Then a hundred more people will drive, but big whoop, there’s a train coming, and a bigger P&R.

        Why would upgrading Eastgate P&R cost more than Mercer Island? Perhaps that’s a better solution than either MI or South Bellevue since it’s a less constrained area (and less out of the way than South Bellevue). Of course, people would be resistant to taking a shuttle bus to the train, but some people would, perhaps enough to fill the P&R.

      4. Mike Orr, how would you upgrade Eastgate P&R without temporarily closing one of the surface lots there? You could build a parking structure on the west surface lot, but while doing that the capacity would be reduced. Eastgate was already at 99% utilization as of 2013. The lot that was used for a temporary P&R near the Humane Society shelter is still vacant, but tht would be very inconvenient to buses using the 142nd Pl. freeway station.

        For westbound buses on I-90, maybe the 555/556 could be rerouted to serve a P&R there before going to BTC. For EB buses coming from Seattle to Bellevue like the 550, this would be out of the way. Maybe WIlburton P&R would be an alternative, but it’s relatively small. On the other hand, what better place for a parking structure than right next to a frewway interchange. If ST would offer to build a parking garage there and route a variant of the 550 there, it might take a significant number of current riders of the 550 and users of S. Bellevue P&R while it’s being rebuilt.

      5. BTW, Mike, S. Bellevue was at 107% utiliization in that report I linked to. A few more than a hundred people. Some of them might be able to find another P&R they could use, but many of the eastside P&Rs are at or over capacity. The ones that aren’t are distinguished by not having useful bus service. Houghton P&R, Overlake P&R and such like.

      6. Mike, the whole point of adding parking at Mercer Island would be to mitigate parking loss at S. Bellevue P&R due to its total closure during East Link construction. Partial closure of another at-capacity P&R doesn’t help to mitigate the loss elsewhere. Also, Eastgate P&R doesn’t help the typical S. Bellevue user. That would be out of direction travel for most users that are actually from S. Bellevue.

      1. With that many pitchforks in attendance (and that much oil bubbling away) a suggestion like that would have been suicidal not brave.

  9. Does the 2nd Avenue parklet preclude the northward extension of the 2nd Avenue Bikeway? From the looks of it, it seems like the park would get in the way.

  10. There was an interesting article in the Seattle Times today (http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2025159633_snohomishbusesxml.html). This quote jumped out at me:

    However, there’s no plan forthcoming from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to unclog the Interstate-5 carpool lane, so buses can run at the state’s own 45 mph standard. Munguia said Community Transit has asked for WSDOT to require three-person carpools or more. Such proposals would provoke criticism, by forcing two-person carpools into general lanes.

    I guess my first question is, so what? The current situation is provoking criticism. Plenty of criticism from guys like Danny Westneat, among others.

    So my followup question is, who do I contact? Are these decisions made (ultimately) by the governor? If so, I like my chances. Inslee is as green as they come, and frankly, I think this will win more votes then it will lose. It would certainly make a lot of suburban commuters really happy, while pissing off a handful of other suburban commuters (or just folks out with their sweetie who lost track of time). But I’m guessing the bulk of people would come out supportive of this change. This isn’t like changing a regular lane to HOV lane — this is simply changing two person to three person. You would kick out a significant number of vehicles, but those vehicles, by definition, carry fewer people.

    1. I noticed that last sentence too this morning. Poor DOVs, have to drive in the general-purpose lanes. Most of my experience growing up was with 520 which has always been 3-person because it was critically short on space. I’ve seen 2-person lanes occasionally but I thought they were rare. Is 520 really the only 3-person lane? Convert them all to 3 if it’s slowing any buses down!

      1. The 45 mile and hour standard in state law isn’t written in a way that applies to to private motor vehicles, but rather only applies to private transportation providers. That doesn’t mean that the DOT can’t set the lanes to be HOV-3 (as they did on SR-520 west of I-405, although that was because it was a converted shoulder and would allegedly have been unsafe for greater volumes of traffic than it was carrying, and as they are now looking at doing for stretches of I-405), just that they would need to formally find that doing so would lead to more efficient use of the highway and/or better energy conservation.

      2. So when ST considers BRT based on WSDOT’s flimsy promise of maintaining 45 MPH in the HOV lanes, that promise doesn’t even exist?

      3. Still, that doesn’t make sense. If the lane is slowed for ST, it’s slowed for Greyhound and taxis too by the exact same speed. So it should still trigger increasing the number of people.

      4. The point is that the only 45 mph standard in law [there may be one in the regs but I couldn’t find it] allows (but doesn’t require) the DOT to prohibit PTP’s from using the lane if the speed falls below 45mph — remember they are allowed to use it even as SOVs

    2. This kind of stuff just kills me. We should have implemented 3 or 4 person HOV minimums on I-5 during peak hours 20 years ago. We should have added congestion based tolling to pay for the roadway replacement years ago as well. Everyone is so afraid of changing the status quo without 10 years of study and billions of $.

      We could end 90% percent of the congestion on I-5 today if we wanted to.

    3. So, I’m assuming by these comments that no one knows who to contact to change the rules. William says that there is a formal process that needs to be followed, but what exactly does that entail? Maybe I’m feeling a bit overconfident after the monorail thing, but I feel like a bunch of letters written to the appropriate person could make a difference. I’m assuming that this is ultimately through the governor’s office (as opposed to the legislature) which means we could start at the top. But I hate to do so if there is someone below him that would make more sense to contact. I could contact my state representatives, but they would simply be passing on the message (they wouldn’t have power to change the rules and there is no way this could be changed by legislative action).

      Initially, I’m thinking of just trying to change the Everett to Seattle section. This would make a lot of Snohomish County folks happy. The Seattle representatives would probably support it, and it wouldn’t surprise me if a handful of representatives in Snohomish County would as well (although, like the WSDOT representative, they would rather not take a stand). This is the area that the Seattle Times seems to be focused on right now, which would make it harder for folks to ignore the issue if a letter writing campaign started.

      1. There’s a number of ways to go here.

        One would be to lobby your state representatives to get a law directing the state DOT to do what you want. This might be something like directing them to set the minimum number of passengers in private vehicles using HOV lanes so as to ensure traffic flows of 45 mph, or it might add optimizing public transportation as an explicit purpose of the lanes [such a provision might be unconstitutional].

        Another would be to contact the governor’s office and ask him to direct the DOT to investigate increasing the HOV requirement to HOV 3+. They could then do whatever they had to do to make rules. I certainly believe that, as long as they can make a cogent argument that doing so optimizes road utilization (shouldn’t be hard) they have the needed authority.

      2. Thanks William. I think the first idea (changing the law) would be very difficult. I think the second route (asking DOT to change their ways) has a much better chance. As I said earlier, Inslee is a green as they come.

        But again, do we start at the top? I can certainly start a letter writing campaign (similar to the one for the monorail) but unlike the city council, the governor must take in a huge amount of ideas each day. If such a campaign was started, I would certainly reach out to local representatives, if not state representatives, to see if they will join on board. Again, I would start with the Seattle to Everett section. That crosses a couple counties and several cities. Some would support a change, some would not (and a lot of them would rather avoid the subject). But even getting a handful of local representatives (and that likely include folks from Seattle at a minimum) could get this thing more traction.

        So, you suggest the governor — not the DOT chief? I suppose, ultimately it is Inslee’s decision. I just figured I would start lower (although I’m not sure who to contact at WSDOT).

  11. Sam, how about an expert definition of what NIMBYism is, and suggestions for alternate terms for what it isn’t.

  12. FWIW, Amtrak’s basic financial problem is that it has too few trains running on each line to cover its large fixed overhead. I spent a while digging into the details.

    Most of the financial reports “allocate” the overhead to trains in various misleading ways, which simply confuses the issue. Releases of data without overhead allocation has been rare and the last partial release was for 2012. There seems to be $439.7 million in overhead allocated to the “long-distance” trains as of 2012 There is probably a similar amount allocated to the NEC and a similar amount to the state-sponsored “corridors”.

    So basically Amtrak is profitable but not profitable enough to cover the $1 or $2 billion dollar overhead. Because of the massive, massive overhead, railroads thrive on economies of scale.

    (If you strip off the overhead, some of the long-distance trains were already profitable in 2012. Most are pretty close to breaking even and will probably do so soon. The exceptions are the ones in the west — the Coast Starlight, Sunset Limited, Southwest Chief, California Zephyr, and Empire Builder still cost a lot to run even before overhead.)

    The overhead gives a lesson for transit agencies: you don’t want to build a dozen different systems. Use those economies of scale. It’s kind of too late for that in Seattle, where Tacoma Link, Central Link, and the Streetcar are all incompatible in gratuitious ways (such as voltage).

  13. I wonder what the people at Community Transit were thinking when they selected they’re route for Swift II – they somehow managed to devise a route that crosses I-5 without connecting to the 512, and they also waste a lot of service hours sending a frequent, all-day bus into the Boeing campus, where demand is virtually non-existant outside of two trips at the start and end of the Boeing employees’ work shifts.

    It, perhaps looks somewhat reasonable if you pretend Snohomish County is a bubble, but with every stop along that route a 3-seat ride away from Seattle, getting anywhere else is going to be awful.

    I suppose if ST3 extends Link to Everett, a 128th St. Link Station could remedy a lot of the above problem, but whether that will happen is far from certain at this point.

    1. If there are not staggered shifts at Boeing Everett, there ought to be. It would smooth out peak traffic on the freeway just as much as it would on transit.

    2. How far is the route from Payne Field, the Boeing tour, and all those things Avgeek Joe talks about?

      I too was looking at taking it to the Boeing stuff, and realized it doesn’t connect to the 512 or 522 anywhere. You’d have to take the 512 to Everett, backtrack on Swift, and transfer to Swift II. Or find a local bus which is probably hourly on Saturday (CT) or doesn’t run on Saturday (ET).

      1. There isn’t a good way to do the Future of Flight by transit without walking on the shoulder of the Boeing Freeway for about 3/4 of a mile, or about the same distance on a highway that has a sidewalk for most of the way. Google Transit gives you the walk on the freeway route, and the ST Trip Planner gives you the other route.

      2. See, that’s why I’ve never been on the Boeing tour, because I was afraid it might look 15 minutes away but turn out to be 30 or 60 minutes and I might miss the start of the tour. It looks like 15 minutes just from the sidewalk to the entrance.

        [Begin rant] This is what I hate about the suburbs. In Seattle if I’m at the top of Queen Anne and walk an hour, I end up in the U-District. On the way I’ve passed SPU, Fremont, and Wallingford — destinations I’d regularly go to at other times. In the suburbs you can walk an hour and it looks exactly the same as where you left — you’ve only passed a few houses and strip malls and industrial buildings — and it may still be another hour to your destination. Earlier I mentioned the time I walked from Edmonds CC to Aurora Village to see how long it would take. I expected forty minutes but it was almost an hour and a half. And the biggest destination in between was Safeway. But there were lots of places to buy a car… [end rant]

    3. Does anyone around here know much about ridership on CT 105 today? The CT blog post cites strong ridership around Mill Creek, and the proposed route is basically the 105 with Bothell swapped out for Paine Field. Ordinarily a town center would seem like a better transit destination than an airfield, but Paine Field hosts a lot of visitors for an airfield and Bothell is a pretty small town center. Maybe they’re really close enough for politics to take over… and politics for a county agency would favor the big in-county employer over a little town a mile south of the county line.

      The 112th vs. 128th thing is weird. CT has corridor studies on 128th/Airport Road as a BRT corridor, as it’s fast and has some HOV lanes already, nothing on 112th. CT today runs a fair amount of local service to its P&R at 128th, with connections to its Lynnwood-Everett service (which is more redundant now that the 512 can handle those trips most times of day) and none to the ST P&R at 112th. Maybe that’s because 112th is within Everett and is ET turf. Or maybe pre-512 restructure the 201/202 connection at 128th was valued more. In any case it would be a shame if both ends of the route were dictated by agency splits.

    4. I agree, it does seem like it is built upon the assumption that Link with reach 128th (or is it making a stronger case for it). But one of the nice things about BRT is that minor modifications can be made fairly easily. If Link doesn’t reach 128th, then it makes sense to split this in two, with both sections heading south to Lynnwood as soon as they reach I-5. Or maybe duplicate service on just the northern route. Keep this line, but add a second that is a variation (going from the north end of this route to Lynnwood via I-5 instead of Mill Creek).

      Better yet, keep the two BRT routes, and create a third which is a combination of the two. Start on Evergreen Way and 526, then go south on Evergreen Way until Airport Road. Then turn and head southeast on Airport Road and follow 128th until the freeway and then go to Lynnwood. Based on the census maps, this would be an extremely effective route. It would serve way more high density areas in Snohomish County than just about anything imaginable. It would also make for a very nice BRT network that would integrate will with light rail (assuming it only gets to Lynnwood). Three seat rides aren’t the end of the world if each transfer is very quick. North Link will be very frequent, and my combo route would be very frequent.

      Ultimately, this means improving the interchange at 128th. From what I can tell, there already is an HOV lane on the southbound ramp, but it doesn’t put you in the HOV lane on the freeway. Likewise from the other direction there is very little in the way of bus infrastructure. Improving 128th is already a bullet point item. Hopefully they will improve both routes — the one from 128th (east of the freeway) onto I-5 and the route on 128th (over the freeway).

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