Pioneer Square streetcar terminus-- Sounder Bruce (Flickr)
Pioneer Square streetcar terminus– Sounder Bruce (Flickr)

While it may be fair to look at 2015 as the final Year in Waiting™ for University Link to open, 2015 will bring about plenty of changes in its own right, and transit riders, people on bikes, and people walking have much to anticipate. Here’s a look at the upcoming year. 

New Openings & Service Changes

  • Assuming that the already-delayed vehicles start arriving soon, the First Hill Streetcar will finally launch sometime this spring.
  • I-405 opens express toll lanes between Bellevue and Lynnwood.
  • Mukilteo Station’s south platform project will be complete early this year.
  • Metro’s new trolleys will begin entering service.
  • The Mercer West project will be mostly complete by summer, with some North Portal work obviously delayed pending Bertha repairs.
  • Sound Transit introduces ST Express route 580, with 20 daily one-way trips, between Lakewood Station and Puyallup Station, connecting with Sounder. (June)
  • Seattle Pacific University gets its layover, with Metro routes 3 and 4 extending to SPU and losing their vestigial terminal loops.
  • Metro will unveil its ULink Connections plan (June) 
  • Prop 1 funded service hits the streets. (June)
  • As part of ULink testing, Link will go to 6-minute peak headways, the DSTT will be able to accommodate 4-car trains, and some tunnel buses (yet unnamed) will be surfaced to make room. (September)

Fare Changes

  • Metro fares go up $.25, to $2.50 off-peak, $2.75 1-zone peak, and $3.25 2-zone peak. (March)
  • Link’s base fare will also rise by $.25. (March)
  • Metro, Sound Transit (Link only), Seattle Streetcar, and King County Water Taxi implement the first-ever Low Income Fare (March)
  • Community Transit fares will rise by $.25, to $2.25 Local, $4.25 for inner suburban expresses, and $5.50 for outer suburban expresses. (June)

Groundbreakings

  • After more than seven years of design and environmental work just to rebuild an existing corridor, 2015 will see ground finally broken on the Point Defiance Bypass. The project is still on track to meet ARRA requirements for a 2017 opening.
  • Late in 2015, Tacoma’s Freighthouse Square will likely begin renovations to accommodate Amtrak.
  • Assuming no delays in the final design process, the Tacoma Trestle replacement should begin construction this summer.

Elections

  • Spokane Transit goes to ballot seeking to fund its 10-year plan, titled STA Moving Forward. The measure would exhaust STA’s remaining sales tax authority in order to bring a frequent, high performance bus network to Spokane. (April)
  • 2015 is the year that our City Council changes to mostly district representation, with an August 4 primary and a November 3rd election. Expect much of the year’s bandwidth to be consumed by crowded candidate fields and the elevation of neighborhood issues like sidewalks.
  • Bridging the Gap expires this year, and renewal will be on the November ballot.

Ongoing Construction

  • Capitol Hill Station’s ‘Red Wall’ comes down. (spring)
  • Sound Transit’s Northgate Link TBMs (Pamela and Brenda) will reach Roosevelt Station in early to mid-2015, and tunneling between UW and Roosevelt will begin.
  • WSDOT and Seattle Tunnel Partners will attempt to surface Bertha’s broken cutterhead for repairs. (April)
  • Angle Lake Link extension work will continue, with construction milestones about 6 months behind ULink. The project is still on track for a late 2016 opening.
  • In preparation for East Link construction, I-90 two-way HOV will break ground between Seattle and Mercer Island.

BicyclesBMP Implementation

  • The Westlake Cycle Track begins construction (autumn).
  • Year 1 of the Bicycle Master Plan implementation calls for protected bike lanes on parts of Roosevelt Way NE, NE Ravenna Blvd, S Dearborn St, more of Dexter Ave N, N 34th St, and a small piece of Rainier Ave S. (See map).
  • SDOT will complete design for the Center City Bicycle Network for implementation beginning in 2016.
  • Pronto Cycleshare will expand to the Central District, Little Saigon, and Yesler Terrace. (TBD)
  • As part of Mercer West’s completion, there will finally be a safe way to bike from Lower Queen Anne to South Lake Union. Mercer Street will enjoy a protected bike lane between Queen Anne Ave N and Dexter Ave N.

Plans & Studies

  • Lynnwood Link will have a number of milestones in 2015, including Final EIS publication, the Sound Transit Board formally selecting the project, the FTA issuing its Record of Decision, and the project moving into final design.
  • Metro will begin work on its first ever Long Range Plan.
  • The Center City Connector will begin environmental and design work, and will likely select an alignment to connect McGraw Square to 1st Avenue.
  • SDOT will release prelimary concept design for Madison Bus Rapid Transit in March, with complete concept design by July.
  • ORCA Monorail integration study results are due in June.

Sound Transit 3

  • Its Long Range Plan update complete, Sound Transit will be seeking authority to place a 2016 Sound Transit 3 measure on the ballot. Regardless of the legislature’s actions, Sound Transit will begin the developing the measure in Q2 2015 with an initial round of public input. Later in 2015, we’ll see specific package proposals based on the 3 proposed funding sources, each of which raises about $15B in year-of expenditures. The legislature needs to approve new funding authority either in 2015 or 2016 in order for the Board to approve a ballot measure no later than July 2016 for a November 2016 vote. Depending on economic forecasts and subarea horsetrading, this is the measure that could get us light rail from Ballard-Downtown, Ballard-UW, Downtown-West Seattle, Des Moines-Federal Way-Tacoma, Lynnwood-Everett, Overlake-Downtown Redmond, I-405 BRT, and more.

61 Replies to “What’s Coming in 2015”

  1. Did SDOT ever look at putting a trolley pole on top of an off the shelf modern streetcar for the new First Hill Streetcars instead of this experimental battery hybrid? Its crazy the delay for the vehicles, and meanwhile the unused stations on Capitol Hill are getting ravaged with vandalism.

      1. The manufacturer, Inekon, has a parts shortage which is affecting production of all their streetcars, not just Seattle’s.

    1. Repetitve, I know, but I’ve got my own pics from San Francisco showing trolley buses and streetcars with poles following each other and sharing the same positive wire. Smaller pantograph might also work.

      So have never “bought” the idea that we can’t share wire in Seattle. But it’s not my main propulsion-related concern here.

      If part of the battery-hybrid propulsion package decision has to do with Federal research money- which is only a surmise on my part- I wouldn’t have any problem with it.

      While I know that this propulsion has been run in service, I really would like to know the steepest gradient it has ever run in passenger service for, say, a year. Failing that, I think the idea of completely and deliberately leaving out the southbound wire is irresponsible in the extreme.

      The inbound line is not uniformly downhill. There are at least two rising grades- in places where there is likely to be heavy traffic. The Broadway lane configuration seems to me to be seriously prone to blockage in places where lane reservation looks impossible.

      In addition, the car’s electrical system has to be able to handle air conditioning- not a single passenger window can be opened- and heating, and ventilation.

      For experimental purposes, a spur from Pioneer Square along the Waterfront would be just fine- as long as the cars run under catenary in both directions on First Hill.

      And also: how possible will it be to interchange hybrid and non-hybrid cars if necessary?

      These considerations are a long way from matters of opinion. So I wish someone, or preferable more than one person who understands the technology would comment on these questions.

      Preferably from the tech personnel of the KC Metro departments who will have to keep the First Hill line running.

      Mark Dublin

      1. VM has a trump card yet to play. Breda buses will be plentiful, very soon. What’s not to like about that?

      2. The battery propulsion fiasco (which who knows how well it will work since it has not been tested yet) is something some consultants designed. San Francisco makes pans/poles work together fairly well, although all their equipment is the same 600VDC, whereas Seattle is 700 for trolley coaches, and 750 for streetcar applications. (the WFSC was only 600 vdc). Even with a voltage difference, it would have been a lot easier to design the system to run with poles. Personally, I wouldn’t be too surprised if such a conversion happened someday either (or the missing section of pan wire installed somehow if the battery system does not work as promised). Personally I don’t like what the streetcar installation did to Broadway. More of the city’s poorly installed cycle tracks, and now with traffic shifting one way or the other for whatever reason and now its immoveable because of the streetcar tracks. I will say though its better installed than the one on 2nd…

  2. An interesting year ahead, but the ROD for Linwood Link maybe the topper in this persons opinion.

    Any other thaughts out there?

    1. I think the activities in Seattle should be interesting. Theoretically there could be a whole new city council. People fear (I know I fear) an anti-growth agenda pushed by a few candidates, but I’m not so sure. Renewing the “Bridging the Gap” is also important.

      Another item (not on the list) is the mayor’s report on affordable housing. This could go either way. If they find (as anyone with any sense would) that our zoning laws (which are way more restrictive than similar cities) are greatly increasing the cost of rent, then maybe they will liberalize them. On the other hand, they might just propose help for the lowest end renters (congratulations, if you wait long enough, you too might get subsidized housing — good luck finding a place until then).

      Something also occurring this year (but without any deadline) is that the mayor’s transportation team will do something. Right now, they are basically just learning the area and the issues. But by the end of the year, they should (hopefully) have some substantial recommendations.

      1. >On the other hand, they might just propose help for the lowest end renters.

        Considering that’s probably what they’d consider the safest move politically, this is what I expect to happen. If they do anything to significantly liberalize zoning regulations you can betcha that there’ll be NIMBYs with torches and pitchforks knocking down the doors of City Hall.

      2. That’s what the focus has been on, people near the poverty level, which is around $16,000. But affordable rent means 33% of your income, and an increasing number of landlords won’t consider people making less than that. The median rent is around $1500, times three is $4500, times twelve is $54,000. Adding 25% for taxes $67,500. There’s a huge gap between $16,000 and $67,500.

        The $15 minimum wage comes out to $2640/month (15 x 8 x 22), or $31,680/year, subtracting taxes $23,760; or a nominal rent of $880. There was a saying that the minimum wage wound increase rent competition and raise rents across the board. But 95% of apartments are already beyond the $15 wage’s reach, so the only competition is in a miniscule 5% of units.

        Rental rates follow the vacancy rate, so this shows how vastly far behind we are on building housing, and non-luxury housing in particular.

      3. Like always, the way I’d handle “affordability” is to create an economy that will pay its workers high enough wages that they can afford a decent place to live- along with a decent life to go with it.

        Notice I never use the term “attract employers.” For one thing, anybody for whom a naturally beautiful place in a mild climate with a clean government, a working port and an educated workforce is not attractive- should not be attracted.

        And also, anybody attracted by having their taxes paid by those whose low wages are also an attraction will not leave an attractive place in their wake. But mainly, based on corporate hiring trends, the term “employer” itself has become a title of nobility, rather than a description of function. “His Excellency The Fifth Employer of Lower Saxony!”

        So to raise our people’s Affording-Ability, a very good first step would be to do what’s generally demanded for companies: find and remove all the legal and regulatory obstacles to self-employment, individual and cooperative. And to the development of every kind of company financed, governed, and staffed locally.

        Obstacles including a transit system forty years behind where a modern region needs to be.

        However elected, at whatever level, most important factor is an informed, organized and politically active constituency. The repulsive condition of current party politics has one strong benefit: two major political parties with the locks rusted off their basement doors. There for the taking by anybody with a mop.

        Who, as in every healthy political system, will need more than one new party to refresh their politics. All of which will solve all the affordability problems without making anybody suffer for not being poor.

        MD

      4. If shrinking the geographic area that each legislator represents leads to the election of council members that are more willing to accept land use changes in their districts, that will be the first time in history that’s happened (to my knowledge).

  3. That’s absolutely ridiculous that it takes 7 years of design and environmental work to upgrade an existing rail line. What’s been the hold up or just typical federal, FRA and NIMBY BS?

    Is the Point Defiance Bypass double tracking the line the whole length, what kind of new grade separation will there be?

    1. Main cause of delay: Massive NIMBYism in Lakewood, including multiple lawsuits filed. As a result, WSDOT decided to dot every i and cross every t so as to be able to smack down the lawsuits; this took years, but was successful.

      Secondary cause of delay: when they started, full enviornmental impact statement procedures were required for really minor work. Since then — and politically, as a *result* of this and other delays — there is now a set of federal “Categorical Exclusions” for typical improvements to an already-operating railway line, provided that work stays within the railway right-of-way, and doesn’t mess with wetlands or endangered species. (You still have to check for endangered species and watch out for filling wetlands or screwing up water drainage.) But when they started the Point Defiance Bypass project, there was no such rule, so they had to analyze all kinds of silly stuff like “noise”, and “views”, and “parking”, and “historical structures”, and “parkland”, and blah blah blah.

      1. Careful, Nathanael. Attention to noise management and and maintenance of views, historic structures, and park lands are not irrelevant nuisances.

        For one thing, whatever the law says, a gracefully-done project saves a lot on legal and lobbying costs by turning residents along the line from entrenched opponents to supporters- and passengers too.

        And more important, on major projects special attention to many details often results in an improved technical design.

        Also remember that the cash value of the scenery in this part of the country is proven by both property prices and tax assessments.

        But transportation-wise: a lot of passengers would choose the view out the window of a jetliner over a ride on a view-free train. But considering the freedom-and-comfort-free nature of air travel, many more would grab a scenic train ticket so fast it will break your wrist.

        And since I always thought freights should take Bypass, and passengers get to see the Narrows Bridge, I’d still be grateful to have some park-landed historic scenery for my faster ride.

        Mark

      2. Mark: when it comes to rehabilitating track, double-tracking, and increasing service on AN EXISTING RAILWAY LINE, things like “noise” and “preserving views” are, in fact, irrelevant nonsense.

        That’s why a categorical exemption for such work on an EXISTING RAILWAY LINE was, in fact, added to federal regulations recently

        Things like “noise” and “preserving views” are certainly relevant for major new greenfield construction. They are irrelevant nonsense for work on a railway line which has been there for 100 years.

      1. My understanding is that it will be single track from Tacoma to South Tacoma, double track from South Tacoma to Lakewood, and single track from Lakewood to Nisqually with a passing track in Dupont.

      2. Zach and Mr. Z are correct.

        The Tacoma Trestle will also be double-tracked.

        There is also a long section of triple-tracking at Nisqually Junction where the Bypass rejoins the mainline, which should allow some flexibility.

      3. Also, the double tracking extends some distance west of Lakewood station.

        Anyway, there will be delays until the Tacoma Trestle construction is done. After that, really the number of conflict points is very low and I would expect very smooth performance.

  4. “Bridging the Gap expires this year, and renewal will be on the November ballot”

    Shouldnt we be hearing proposals about this from SDOT arleady?

    I cant find anything on it on SDOTs website.

    1. November is a ways away, and the mayor’s team is very new. But I would expect that this is a high priority and that we should see something in the Spring.

  5. I have to wonder what changes we will see, development wise, in 2015 with the First Hill opening. As the Yesler Terrace redevelopment ramps and developers(both real estate and software) begin to see the area as new and gentrifying.

  6. My understanding is Metro’s initial U-Link proposal will be unveiled in January or February, and the county council’s vote is in June. Likewise, I think the Prop 1 enhancement proposal will be out by February.

    1. Thinking about what *should* be done for U-Link integration…

      I’m going to say that Metro should wire up the gaps in 23rd Avenue for the #48, and when U-Link opens, beef up service on the #48 (south). And attempt to provide decent connections between all the buses in the area and the University of Washington station.

      Rationale:
      (1) the #48 should be wired up for economic reasons anyway; it has sufficiently frequent service that this will save money in the long run.
      (2) The #48 will become even more heavily used when Northgate Link opens, if transfers are available at University of Washington station.
      (3) The end-to-end ridership on the #70 and #43 is about to switch to U-Link, which could free up trolley service hours for a route where the ridership *isn’t* going to switch to U-Link.
      (4) This improves service on the south end of the #3 and #4. See below.

      I notice that SDOT made a study in August 2014 which concluded that electrifying the #48S was worthwhile, and that they were applying for PSRC money.
      http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/docs/23rd/SEATTLE%20Route%2048%20Electrification%20Study%20Report%20FINAL.pdf

      The right time to do it is around when U-Link opens.

      As noted, there is a project to unify the routes 3 and 4 on the north end by providing more layover space at the terminus of route 13 ( https://seattletransitblog.com/2014/03/24/sdot-and-metro-improve-queen-anne-trolleybus-routes/ ). This is supposed to be constructed in 2015, and it should be constructed.

      With this done and U-Link operating:
      — The #4’s twisty Judkins Park tail becomes redundant. It can be replaced with additional service on the #3 route. Combined with the other project on the north end, this would allow #3 and #4 to become a single frequent-service route.
      — The #49 doesn’t need to go downtown anymore. Connect it to the Capitol Hill Link station and get it out of the I-5 entrance/exit traffic. In fact, extend it down Broadway/Boren/12th to Jackson, to do the job which the First Hill Streetcar isn’t doing. The trolley wire is already there, but not used in revenue service. People who yearn for the old route can change to the #10 at Pine St. I’m not sure what to do south of 12th, but perhaps running down Jackson and looping at 2nd, Main, & 3rd makes the most sense in the short term.
      — The #43 becomes mostly redundant. It is certainly redundant for the end-to-end traffic. It doesn’t really need to go downtown any more, either, and getting it out of the I-5 entrance/exit traffic would help reliability. This may sound radical, but I propose running it from the Capitol Hill Link station to 23rd Avenue. (This may require some minor trolley wire loop construction — or it may not, given off-wire capability on the new buses.)

      Some other stuff could be done just with U-Link opening:
      — The #71, #72, #73 (local *and* express versions), and #74 and the #66, should be redirected to terminate at the University of Washington Station (on the loop used for the #44), rather than downtown. It’ll be faster, though barely (sigh).
      — The #75 should be rerouted to its “snow route”, making connections with the University of Washington station. The 25/31/32/65/67/68 can retain the route through the campus.
      — Consequent to these changes, the #70 should run all the time. As a trolleybus. Including at night and on Sundays. And replace the #83 “night bus”. Make it comprehensible.

      There is an unfortunate hike from the bus stop on the #48 to the University of Washington station location, so a new bus stop should be built further south on the triangle. It looks like this might actually be planned.

      1. The 48 is going to be a lot more constrained before it gets better, though it’s hopefully going to get a lot better. Construction on 23rd (the city is tearing out and redoing the whole street between John and Jackson) will mean rerouting the 48 and the 23rd Ave part of the 3 for most of 2015. SDOT is installing trolleybus wire poles along the redone portions of 23rd for Metro to use when it can.

        I really wish the existing wire went just a little farther north. As it stands, there are a lot of one-seat rides via the 48 (yes, I know, one-seaters are bad) that will be lost in a split. Hopefully Prop 1 will let Metro make some useful timed connections or just have so much frequency that it doesn’t matter.

      2. “Metro should wire up the gaps in 23rd Avenue for the #48”: That’s part of the 23rd Avenue overhaul, although whether it will be ready by U-Link’s opening I don’t know.

        “The #48 will become even more heavily used when Northgate Link opens, if transfers are available at University of Washington station.”: Why is that? To me the 48 is most critical before North Link opens, to bridge the gap between UW station, the U-District and its buses, and Roosevelt.

        “The #4’s twisty Judkins Park tail becomes redundant. It can be replaced with additional service on the #3 route.”: Metro has proposed this before and probably will again. The Judkins Park tail will be the only difference between the routes, and it’ll be hard to justify keeping it. Also, the 3/4 will move to Yesler west of 8th when that trolley wire is installed.

        “The #49 doesn’t need to go downtown anymore.”: Metro seems to be heading toward either a Broadway-Beacon route (49/36) or a Broadway-Madison (49/12). The latter would give western Madison direct access to a Link station (Capitol Hill). That in turn suggests Metro is taking seriously the idea of pushing all Pine Street routes out to either Olive or Madison. They’re trying to get the 15th Avenue neighborhood interested in moving the 10 to John, again to give it direct access to Capitol Hill Station.\

        “The #43 becomes mostly redundant.”: I initially thought that too, but now I think it’s the most useful route on Capitol Hill. It connects all the commercial districts, the community center on 19th, and people on 23rd and Montlake, who are going to all these destinations and to UW. It already serves Capitol Hill Station and doesn’t need to be moved (unlike the 10). The redundany on 23rd is acceptable because that’s the dominant travel pattern and where the urban villages are. Otherwise people will have to transfer at 23rd, and that would only be acceptable if buses were every 5 or 10 minutes including evenings and Sundays. Metro has not had much success achieving that so far. And some people consider 23rd unsafe to transfer at at night. Some people will switch to Link, but not those whose origins/destinations are between Capitol Hill Station and UW Station, or in the Summit area. And while we might think everybody living around 15th or 23rd will transfer to Link to go downtown, some will probably not, especially off-hours when there’s no congestion.

        “The #71, #72, #73 … should be redirected to terminate at the University of Washington Station”: Maybe true, probably unlikely. Pacific Street is already near capacity.

        “The #75 … University of Washington station. The 25/31/32/65/67/68 can retain the route through the campus.”: I would like to reroute all the 65/68/75 to UW station. However, I give it a less than 50% chance. A lot of people want to go to campus or the U-District. There’s only one layover space at UW Station, and I think a problem with a southbound bus stop on Montlake Blvd. Plus the traffic on Montlake. However, if the 75 can be through-routed with something, it could avoid the layover. What could it be through-routed with?

        My own suggestion to Metro is to reroute the 65/68/75 to UW Station, and extend the 31/32 to U-Village or Children’s. That would give people in northeast Seattle a choice of UW Station or campus/U-District/west. Those starting on 45th would have a one-seat ride to either place. Those starting from further north or west would transfer at the same stop if their bus is going to the “wrong” place.

        “The #70 should run all the time.”: Sunday 70 is probably coming in June.

      3. I like the idea of moving the bus stop at Pacific St. and Pacific Pl. a bit to the east to be closer to the UW station. A new crosswalk signal just opened about halfway between the existing bus stop and Montlake Blvd. Next to that crosswalk signal would be a logical place to put the bus stop, with good access to both the Link station and the hospital. Besides improving access to the Link station, simply moving the bus stop off the island (in the westbound direction) would also increase capacity by allowing multiple buses to serve the stop at the same time.

        I also like Mike’s idea of extending the 31/32 to Children’s, with the 65/68/75 going down Montlake, provided that the service hours exist to given both corridors reasonable frequency. In particular, will reasonable frequency exist on both corridors all day, 7 days a week, not just 8-6, Monday-Friday.

      4. “And some people consider 23rd unsafe to transfer at at night.”

        Ah, to dream of that being a consideration in Metro’s planning. Given the absurdity of going from a reasonably-dense neighborhood (the western CD) to probably the most-dense neighborhood (Capitol Hill) with both of them touching and the fact that every single transfer south of Montlake has to be done via 3rd and Pike/Virginia/Bell, I’m not sure that factors into the equation.

        My kingdom for some way to go a mile and a half (the distance between a randomly-chosen restaurant along Broadway and the Arco at 23rd and E Cherry) without it taking 29 minutes and two buses, with the 29 minute part being the more important of the two.

      5. I mostly agree with Nathanael.

        I agree the #43 is mostly redundant post U-Link. The few people who might benefit from the convenience of a one seat ride are more than trumped by freeing service hours for other routes such as the 8, 48, and 70. A #10 following the 43 route between John and Downtown could replace the most heavily used section of the route. Then again there would be the question of ensuring there is enough service on 15th between John and Pine, and on Pine between 15th and Bellevue.

        I think extending the service span on the 70 and having it provide the majority of local service along Fairview/Eastlake is a good idea.

        I’m opposed to truncating the 66/71/72/73 to link until after North Link opens. Some of the previous restructure/consolidation proposals that don’t force a transfer at UW station might work though.

        There is the question of what to do with the riders currently using the 66 along Eastlake between Fairview and Stewart. Even with the crappy walkshed these stops are pretty busy.

      6. One Problem with these lofty ideas, is that U link like South Link all suffer from lack of suitable bus transfer and layover facilities. if you look at bus transfer options on South Link, they all suffer from poor bus integration due to poor overall design. Mt Baker is behind a building across the street, Othello is around the corner, TIBS is a giant dark concrete monolithic mess that was too small the day it opened (lack of coach layover space). and Sea-Tac Airport Station is nothing more than glorified curb stops, with poor southbound access (have to cross the street!)

      7. The 71/72/73 will likely no longer come downtown. Theres your “Surfaced” tunnel routes, they make up for quite a bit of it.

        The 4, starting in Feb, will term at 21/James. It could be the start of something grand…….

      8. punkrawker: The 4 which direction will stop at 21st and James, the one coming from downtown or from Judkins? I also didn’t think there were any service changes of note for February given the impending shakeup and additions from Prop 1 happening in June.

      9. ” Construction on 23rd (the city is tearing out and redoing the whole street between John and Jackson) will mean rerouting the 48 and the 23rd Ave part of the 3 for most of 2015. SDOT is installing trolleybus wire poles along the redone portions of 23rd for Metro to use when it can.”

        Well, that’s good news (for after 2015, obviously it’s a huge mess during 2015). That covers most of the gap in the wire. I wasn’t clear on whether this was actually a committed project. Good to know that it is!

        The southern end still needs to be wired up (as an alternative to the Judkins park twistiness).

        I’m also glad to hear that a combined 49/12 or 49/36 is under consideration. Either way the specialwork at one intersection has to be redone. I think 49/36 is more comprehensible on a map. 49/7 might be even more comprehensible, but Rainer Ave folks probably want their 1-seat rides to downtown.

        While I’m dreaming (sigh), why not rename the combined, all-electric 49/36 to “RapidRide G” and the revised, electrified 48S to “RapidRide H”? Make sure you’ve got enough trolley service hours to do it — but they’re already 15-minute, all-day routes, so it should be possible. You could start to have the beginnings of an actual grid system.

        Come to think of it, putting the tail of the #7 (south of Mt. Baker) onto the revised #48 might make sense too.

        Oh, and the northern part of the 48? Should be extended to University of Washington Station. Obviously. Don’t know how I failed to mention that. Eventually it should go to U District station, or maybe Northgate station, of course, but in the meantime…

        Where possible, get the buses out of the traffic bottlenecks: ship canal crossings, I-5 entrance-exit traffic, etc. The U-Link subway burrows right under those bottlenecks with exclusive right-of-way; use it. The *express* routes to downtown are routinely scheduled at *20 minutes* from the U district to downtown. With the U-Link subway taking 6 minutes, it should be possible to make the transfer noticeably faster than the one-seat ride — just get the pedestrian connection right.

        “One Problem with these lofty ideas, is that U link like South Link all suffer from lack of suitable bus transfer and layover facilities. ”
        Yes, yes, and the University of Washington station is arguably the worst of the bunch. However, the area in front of the station features a giant triangle of mostly-empty space, huge roads, and a lot of parking, so this CAN be fixed, fairly easily, if anyone bothers to.

        Mt. Baker would require more work, but a trolleybus loop could be built around the station in partial replacement of the current situation.

      10. I still have to say that I’m really, really against cutting the 48, or at least stopping it where the current wire for the 70 stops. That is, I’m opposed unless Metro can get timed transfers or very-rapid service on the continuing routes. One part of this is selfish: I go to Roosevelt and Lake City quite often and being able to get closer to them is a handy feature of the 48. Another is service patterns through the CD overall. The 8 is long and unwieldy but it looks like splitting it in half at Garfield isn’t going to happen even though the proposed restructure would be very nice for the western CD and would link the two neighborhoods together. Then there’s just losing our only route north of the cut, especially when the split of the route will still keep the southern part of the route sitting in abysmal traffic on the south side of the bridge over 520.

  7. Washington State Ferries is tentatively scheduled for a fare increase on Oct. 1, 2015. Will they restructure fares to maximize net revenue and ridership? They made some moves in that direction in 2013 (giving vehicles slightly larger increases than passenger fares, for instance) and saw gains in ridership and higher than projected revenues. The Transportation Commission will decide on fares at their July meeting in Seattle.

    1. I don’t suppose there is any chance WSF will consider joining the PugetPass pod, since it is already a member of the ORCA pod (essentially in name only). It can raise the cash fare and charge tourists more, and it would hold onto the difference between the ferry ORCA fare and the top other fare within a foot commuter’s trip, along with its share of the amount below that lower fare.

      It’s kinda crazy that Kitsap Transit is planning its own cross-sound foot ferry service when there is lots of available space on the car ferries, if WSF would but prioritize meeting the latent demand for a reasonably-priced car-free passage. Yes, it would have to buy more lifevests and lifeboats, but that’s still hella cheaper than building new car ferries.

      1. I agree that it is irrational to add a Kitsap foot ferry to routes already served by the state system. I’ve been advocating for a fare reduction for the multi-ride passenger passes. (They received disproportionate increases after the loss of the MVET, and are the source of much of the decrease in ridership.) The Ferry Fare Media Study http://leg.wa.gov/JTC/Meetings/Documents/Agendas/2012%20Agendas/JTC_010412/FareMediaDraftFinalReport_010412.pdf found that fare revenue from frequent riders has declined despite fare increases. So a fare reduction could increase revenue from these riders.

        But I believe the boats already are equipped to handle the full complement of passengers, so no additional investment is needed.

      2. Except it’s rational. Kitsap will cut the commute time in half, and have an enhanced experience for riders. While WSF has all the capacity in the world, it’s slow, expensive, and inconvenient to foot riders.

      3. Thanks for the link!

        The ferries were overwhelmed on Seahawks Parade day, but the story also suggests they get full on holidays.

        When the Cathlamet had to return to the Bremerton Dock due to the passenger count apparently being over capacity, WSF revealed that the passenger capacity is all about the quantity of rafts and vests, not available space or weight.

        The ferries reach car capacity all the time. That suggests the ferries could and should charge a lot more for the car fare. They are nowhere near reaching their true passenger capacity, so the high passenger fare seems nutty, especially when it is already past the point in the curve where revenue declines as fares go up.

        Still, I don’t mind charging more for one-time walk-ons vs. frequent riders, so long as people who ride the bus to the ferry, and then ride the bus from the ferry don’t get charged through the nose because Bremerton is where they can afford to find an aparment, and their bus pass is no good on the ferry.

        Kitsap and King Counties will soon both offer low-income fares. Having a low-income fare on WSF (One can dream) would make little sense without WSF’s honoring of multi-agency transfers and multi-agency passes. But when it comes to fares, WSF is increasingly becoming the black sheep in the ORCA pod.

        A pilot project with the Bremerton-Seattle route accepting PugetPass, inter-agency transfers, and low-income ORCA for a reduced fare, seems like a relatively safe place to start, but I’m pretty sure an investment in additional safety equipment for such a project would be necessary.

        But like the monorail, I think opening up the ferries to regular transit riders would increase both ridership and revenue, and additionally, could convince more people to leave their cars at home and free up more space on the car deck.

      4. Kitsap Transit is thinking about bringing back the financial disaster that was the Kingston-Seattle express ($100 subsidy per ride), and duplicating it for Bremerton and Southworth. KT has no idea how to fund it. The kind of low-wake fast ferries being contemplated would be able to carry dozens of riders, not hundreds or thousands. It would be a fast, heavily-subsidized ride for the wealthy, not freedom for the masses currently riding the slow boats.

        Fixing the pricing scheme on WSF would almost assuredly increase ridership by much more than KT’s mosquito fleet pipe dream.

      5. Disagree wholly with your insinuations. Don’t get the faux agro. WSF surely needs to get its act together by not punitively charging peds and bike. You’re absolutely right about that, and true ORCA integration could go a long way on that. Of course, the agency doesn’t want to deal with the administration of the ORCA programme. They want the full $$$ with all the benefits. It hasn’t been a priority for WSF to bring more peds and bikes onboard, and that’s a tragedy. But that has more to do with WSDOT than anything. Meanwhile, a mosquito fleet makes sense. Hopefully the pilot will be successful enough to drive further interest in higher capacity fleets down the road. I won’t hold my breath on WSF. They’re parent agency has a long way to go before moving people fairly becomes even an inkling of priority.

      6. Remember that WSF only collects passenger fares one direction. Divide by 2 to get a comparable rail or bus fare. The passenger fares aren’t quite so bad when seen that way.

        That said full integration (accepting transfers and the appropriately valued Puget Pass) should be a goal for WSF.

  8. If the 3 & 4 lose their Queen Anne loops after being extended to SPU, what will happen to the overhead of the abandoned loops? Will they simply cut the power to the overhead (saves money–no need to keep unused sections energized) or completely dismantle it?

    1. In this case they’ll surely dismantle it because the intention is to never use it again, and alternate service on the main street is just three blocks away. In other cases, most notably the 47, they keep it up a few years because it might get used again.

      1. If they can reuse the wire on the #48, it might save some money.

        You never want to leave de-energized copper wire up; it gets stolen. Often you might as well leave up the rest of the infrastructure.

    2. They have other sections of abandoned overhead, the big ones being the 47 and WFSC, however there are numerous turning loops and other sections still in place (90 or was it 91 turn back, the unused wire on 2nd that’s de-energized, the connection on queen Anne). I’d imagine the wire staying up for the foreseeable future until such time that someone else comes in and pays for its removal.

  9. As we talk about the opening of the I-405 Express Lanes, which will operate with demand pricing based on traffic conditions on the general purpose lanes and HOV lanes, Gov. Inslee has proposed the extension of those lanes from Bellevue to Renton in his recent transportation package. Granted, the matter is subject to scrutiny of the public, impacted municipalities and the legislature which has the ability to increase funding for transportation. How to address the perpetually congested corridor has been bumbling about in various iterations (one or two extra general purpose lanes, one general purpose lane, or from I’m hearing simply adding an HOV lane and converting those lanes to High-Occupancy Toll). One added portion of this project would construct an HOV to HOV ramp from southbound I-405 to southbound SR 167 and conversely, a ramp from northbound SR 167 to northbound I-405. HOV drivers and transit routes would no longer have to weave across the general lanes of both 405 and 167. All solutions are currently unfunded.

    The Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the widening of I-405 between Renton and Bellevue was written under the premise that funding would be available (most likely under Prop 1 back in 2007). Even though it was voted down, WSDOT completed the I-405 FONSI
    .

    1. Ah, the old Funding bugaboo…
      At least it’s forcing the tolling issue, because I’m sure not interested in having my gas tax raised to pay for someone else’s need for an unfettered auto commute.

      Except for some property takes in the Kennydale neighborhood, most all the improvements are happening within the current I-405 right-of-way.

      Essentially, if you liked the lovely green landscaping in the corridor, you can kiss it goodbye, unless WSDOT has plans to paint the jersey barriers and sound walls green.

      1. I’m sure the owners of those homes backing up to the freeway in Kennydale will not agree that there are No Significant Impacts.

      2. The needs of the many (SOV commuters) outweigh the needs of the few (homeowners).

        Hey, they could have insisted that widening I-405 through the area be taken off the table (just as they were successful doing with any talk of using the ERC … for anything) during the I-405 Corridor Program, but they didn’t.

        They had a seat on the Citizens Committee.

      3. While I support use taxes, I’ll play devil’s advocate. 150,000 commute through one of the region’s most congested freeway segments (I-405 at Kennydale Hill). Given the routine congestion that forms between 6 am and 7 pm between I-90 and SR 167, I’m sure these folks would like their gas taxes to pay for some relief. ….regardless of SOV or HOV. Thing is, the recession forced many to change jobs and commutes that used to be short. This commute has been terrible for eons and simply adding one lane will do little to alleviate demand for this road as latent demand has forced drivers to use back roads, head across the lake to I-5 and head east to SR 18. Some used to have short commutes to jobs, yet were forced to take new jobs with longer commute times to afford mortgages (or sell a home at a loss).

        I brought up the use of ERC a while back because the line was “too far from the core of Downtown Bellevue.” I think a DMU would have been a great option for the ERC. A streetar could have run down the median of NE 8th or 6th into Downtown Bellevue.

      4. Sadly, the Eastside Rail Corridor was chopped into pieces and is being completely dismantled. I really don’t understand why this was allowed to happen; it’s against federal policy, against state policy, against most local policies, and contrary to common sense.

      5. Ballard Terminal lost because the STB found they weren’t a bona fide petitioner.

        Specifically, when they said they had financing, they did not. Nor any idea of how much they would need. Nor an inkling of a business case. When they said they had customers waiting for service, they didn’t. They had letters from a handful of businesses, some of which had no customers to ship to, several of which had no way of getting access from their business to the rail line.

        It went on for page after page, dismantling every claim to have a viable business interest in reopening the line. Judge basically said they were liars.

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