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Expedia’s announced move from Downtown Bellevue to the Interbay Waterfront is likely a net negative for its transit accessibility to employees. Workers coming from arbitrary parts of the region will have to transfer downtown. Getting downtown is straightforward, but the last leg involves a slog through the (still general-purpose) 3rd Avenue through Belltown, time on the wildly unpredictable Denny Way,  a potential diversion through Lower Queen Anne, and a trip down Elliott, where a commuter to Interbay is “reverse peak” and currently unworthy of priority treatments.

As a regular traveler in this corridor, I can attest that 30 minutes to cover the mile and a half Lower Queen Anne to Westlake is something that happens a few times a month. When added to another trip to get to downtown for most people, transit is an unattractive option.

I asked Richard Sheridan of SDOT if the Expedia announcement would cause them to reconsider policy in this area. He told me that “SDOT is interested in adding off-peak direction operation to Elliott Avenue’s transit lanes. Given the recent nature of the Expedia announcement, we do not yet have a timeline for doing so.”

108 Replies to “Expedia Move Enables New Look at Bus Lanes”

  1. Has there been any thoughts to running buses along Elliot/Western from downtown? As you mentioned, most of the buses go to lower Queen Anne. By just going along the waterfront, I assume it would be a lot faster. Things are about to change substantially when the tunnel work is done. I’m not sure what that will do, to be honest. A lot fewer people will go along Western/Elliot, since it won’t connect to 99. But those that do will move more slowly through the surface streets. Anyway, it seems like buses closer to the water might be better, at least in the short run (although I could be wrong — I haven’t been by the streets much in rush hour).

    In the long run, the WSTT is the answer (along with full time bus lanes, as mentioned). That would be the best of both worlds, enabling buses to move quickly through downtown, while connecting neighborhoods (you could get to Expedia within a couple minutes from lower Queen Anne, and about five from downtown).

      1. I don’t follow you. I mean, aren’t trucks going from the north going to go along the waterfront? Where exactly would the problem be?

      2. Zach worded it poorly but I think he’s getting at the fact that Elliot Ave is one way and so is Western Ave. Both go UNDER 99 (as 99 comes out of the Battery Street Tunnel) and the buses can’t fit under the elevated roadway that turns into the viaduct.

        I hope that’s a bit clearer.

      3. That’s going away, though, right? I mean, when Bertha gets fixed, the tunnel gets extended, and the viaduct goes down. That is what I’m talking about (rerouting buses after 99). Expedia isn’t moving for a few years, so hopefully that work will be done by then (I wouldn’t move the buses until then).

      4. do we know?

        I see a height 14’8″ from street view southbound on elliot.
        however, I don’t see any warnings northbound on western.

      5. Buses can’t fit under the entrance ramps to the Battery St tunnel. I thought a typical bus was only about 12 ft tall?

      6. That first sentence was meant to be a question. Because this is the first I have heard of this height issue.

  2. Would it be ironic if one of the world’s largest on-line travel agencies couldn’t figure out a way to get its employees to work on-time?

    With the continuing build-up in SLU, plus more job growth in Interbay and (perhaps) the completion of road re-construction at the north portal of the Bertha tunnel, transit planning should focus on connecting Interbay and SLU to residential neighborhoods without requiring a trip through downtown Seattle. Any transit line that comes from the eastside to SLU could be extended to Interbay once the road grid is fully reconstructed. North Sounder can look at the possibility of a stop somewhere in the Interbay/Broad St. area. The 8 goes to Interbay and Broad St. or Ballard…just a few ideas. Luckily Expedia doesn’t plan to move until 2018.

    1. When Bertha is done, the grid will be reconnected over Aurora, for John and Thomas. This will enable much better east/west bus routes. If the Seattle Center allowed it, then we could run a bus on Thomas through it. That would be a nice way to connect Lower Queen Anne with South Lake Union (even if the bus goes around the Center and not through it) but I’m not sure how well it connects with the waterfront. One way or another you end up going on Denny or Mercer to get there, and that is a problem.

      Likewise, while something like this would be great, it really doesn’t make life easy for those traveling from other locations. Downtown is both a destination and a hub. So even if you had a fairly fast bus on Thomas, you still have to get to Thomas from downtown, and that is very difficult. A Gondola could probably do it (connect the waterfront with Capital Hill Station) but that would cost a bunch and be fairly slow. But it would be a lot cheaper than a subway, and a lot faster than buses and it would go the whole way to CHS, something buses can’t do well.

      I think it makes sense to build the WSTT, then run buses on Thomas from Eastlake (through or around the Center). Eventually we would build a subway that replaces the Metro 8 (especially if we didn’t build a gondola).

      1. A transit-only lane through Seattle Center along Thomas … that’s a really interesting idea! Coupled with crossings of Aurora and I-5 to Cap Hill station, a transit-only Thomas could be made a rather useful east-west route, with connection also the SLUT and future Elliot Ave HCT. Some Cap Hill parking would have to be 86ed (oh well).

      2. Yeah, I wonder what it would take to build a bridge over I-5 at Thomas. The 99 work will be done in a few years (meaning Thomas will go over Aurora). A bus (or streetcar) through the Seattle Center only requires political will (I mentioned streetcar not because I would favor it, but only because it might be politically easier to do instead of a bus). But building a bridge that could handle a bus over I-5 would be a big expensive project. It would have its own political risks as well (Thomas is not an arterial on Capitol Hill). But if it was made to be bus only then I think it stands a chance of success (assuming it isn’t terribly expensive).

      3. I’d ammend my proposal to include bike-ped access to the bridge as well, like on the new bridge in Portland. I’m not worried too much about the cost – I think the idea would be hugely supported by anyone whose access to the other side is currently cut off by I-5, which is a lot of people. Even if HCT on Denny happens (I don’t even think it’s been seriously considered), access between the two is a lengthy proposition.

        The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and I think if you sold to Cap Hill residents 5-minute access to so many places that are a pain to get to now, they wouldn’t mind the loss of parking.

        Also get Amazon to pay for some of it. They would benefit the most.

      4. “If the Seattle Center allowed it”

        Seattle Center is owned by the city, so it’s really the City Council’s decision whether its citywide benefit is greater than impacting the Center. A Thomas Street route would depedestrianize access to a third of the Center. It would run between the theater building and Fisher Pavilion, between the Mural Amphitheater and the Armory, and between the Space Needle and the Monorail entrance. Near the space needle it looks visibly like a roadway, so that would not matter. But the interior part is a heavily-used walkway that’s full on event days with pedestrians and food booths, and immediately behind the amphitheater’s audience. So the Center would have to study the impact of narrowing the walkway, relocating the food booths, and preserving access to the amphitheater and the listening experience in it. A one-lane woonerf would have less impact than a two-lane road, if that’s acceptable for transit. But don’t outlaw jawalking like the city did on the Bell Street non-woonerf.

      5. Yeah, the Center is owned by the city, as is the port; meanwhile the UW is owned by the state. Ultimately, we the people have jurisdiction, but that doesn’t mean the folks in charge will do the right thing. Sometimes it is easier when you aren’t dealing with public agencies — you just declare eminent domain and pay them off. I wonder if SeaTac was a private agency if the station would be closer.

        As far the walkway goes, I have looked at it, and it is only narrow along one section. I could easily see it being converted back to a road, if there is political will. I would think that a streetcar would be easier to push through (from a political standpoint). Then again, maybe a trolley (run wire through there). That means you avoid the noise and stink of a bus, while allowing for more flexibility (the ability to go up steep hills). Sad to say, but if you suggested running a bus through the Center, a lot of folks would go “Ewww”, while suggesting a trolley is a different matter.

      6. Maybe y’all should go to some of these places and look around. Thomas? Thomas, really?

        Right, so the bridge over I-5 at Denny is pretty steep — you’re not running a bus on a bridge much steeper — and the west approach extends as far out as Yale. I don’t have numbers on this, but the elevation profile of I-5 at Thomas looks worse — more like it is around Mercer, where the bridge over the freeway requires a longer approach, and is turned north-south. West of I-5 I’m guessing we’ll need an approach about out to Pontius.

        East of I-5 the block between Melrose and Bellevue is steep, narrow, and for now, paved in brick. Maybe you can soften the breaks enough to get a bus up it, so that the bridge can land right at Melrose, but I wouldn’t count on it. I also don’t know exactly what that bridge would be supported by, but I’m not a bridge-builder… anyway, my money is that the bridge has to land at Bellevue, which means the bottom of the bridge has to pass at least 10 feet or so over Melrose, so that we don’t completely shut down every other route through. Thomas continues to be narrow, steep, and twisty; take away one side of parking and draw a yellow stripe down the middle and you’ve got, what, the worst parts of the 16’s route, where two buses can hardly pass by eachother?

        West of I-5 you hit stoplights at Fairview and Westlake, each timed to favor the dominant peak traffic flow (i.e. not Thomas). Then two-way stop signs, again against Thomas at 9th and Dexter. Then what’s sure to be a stupefying wait at Aurora — if you want a preview of that signal cycle, cross Westlake on Valley or Mercer on Dexter to see what SDOT is in the business of building these days. 6th is going to be a car sewer with another similar new traffic signal, and so is 5th. Far side of the Center you have two-way stops against you at almost every intersection and pretty steep hills. In total, today you hit a significant obstacle to efficient transit movement about once a block from Broadway down to Elliott; a barely sufficient solution at any one of those intersections would be a minor miracle; getting them all right is too improbable to consider.

      7. As for crossing I-5 I don’t see another road bridge being built between Denny and Belmont. The hillside is just too steep to make it practical. On the other hand a pedestrian/bike bridge at Harrison or Thomas could be useful, especially with an elevator to help in getting up/down the hill.

      8. > »A Thomas Street route would depedestrianize access to a third of the Center. […] But the interior part is a heavily-used walkway that’s full on event days with pedestrians and food booths, and immediately behind the amphitheater’s audience.«

        Sounds like something that’s common in many places around the world on ordinary non-event days. A certain Durch city immediately comes to mind:

        And basically any of the new French tramway systems, as a route through a newly pedestrianized downtown is a crucial part of most of them.

    2. Eastside Expedia, and other commuters most efficiently arrive downtown near King Station.
      A transfer to a Waterfront Streetcar to Interbay could work. From Interbay, extend
      streetcar beneath Ballard bridge to SPU or on Westlake near Fremont.
      Streetcar on 1st Ave doesn’t look safe. The Streetcar Couplet on 4th/5th Aves makes more sense.
      1st Ave could run modern low-floor trolleybus straight to Queen Anne more effectively.

      Bertha Plan B:
      Extend bore 2000′ to a Pike/Pine portal.
      Construct cement pier rows both sides entire length.
      (offers means to stabilize soils between).
      FEIS alternatives for Lower Belltown.
      Extend Battery Street Tunnel
      (same grid reconnect at John, Thomas, Harrison Streets).

    1. The Ballard Bridge plus the tanged mess of an intersection just south of the Ballard Bridge tends to cause backups.

      This means northbound trips on Elliot can get stuck in the off-peak direction. It becomes particularly awful for buses because they have to get around parked cars or other obstacles through there in the off-peak direction as the transit lanes only are effective in the peak direction during peak periods.

      1. Maybe “reverse peak” is a better term. In other words, traveling in the opposite direction as the predominant traffic flow.

      2. Yeah, reverse peak is a better term. In general, though, lots of folks recommend full time bus lanes (as the other post did). Midday traffic is pretty bad along a lot of streets, so it makes sense to encourage bus travel.

    2. The NB Elliott bus lane is for both AM and PM peak periods, but the SB lane on Elliott is only bus-only in the AM only. This idea would make the SB bus lane operational both AM and PM.

      1. Interesting. That seems backwards to me. In the morning, there probably aren’t huge numbers of people driving north out of downtown on Elliot. But in the evening, there are probably a lot of people driving to downtown from the north. Not for employment reasons, but for social reasons. Either way, though, both lanes should be bus-only at peak, if not all day.

  3. Please also, can the ex-AmGen Helix Bridge extend across Elliott? Or something?

    1. I’m assuming you are talking about the pedestrian bridge. There are three (I’ll list them south to north):

      1) Third Avenue West Bridge. This is the nicest, in that it connects right into Queen Anne, so if you approach it from that side you don’t have to go up stairs. It is a ways from Amgen, though. One possible enhancement is to make a ramp (or add stairs) on the other side (heading north). I would also put Pronto Stations there.

      2) Helix Pedestrian Bridge. I assume this is the one you are talking about. It lines up with Prospect. I agree, it should be extended over Elliot. To get across the tracks, you need to take a bridge, so you might as well take it from the other side (as the Third Avenue West Bridge does). There are crosswalks, but making everyone wait (and traffic wait) is a bad design. Unlike the Third Avenue Bridge, it doesn’t connect to much on Queen Anne (there is a dead end).

      3) Pedestrian Bridge next to the West Galer Street Bridge. This is probably the least popular bridge. But if Expedia expands to the north, i could see this bridge being used a lot by folks that come from the north (Ballard). There is a huge amount of land there, so it stands to reason that it will be developed. Like the second bridge, there isn’t much on the other side (although it at least hooks into a trail).

      I would put the extension of the bridge you mentioned (number two on my list) as my first priority. This is where the vast majority of employees will make their way to work, especially in the morning (take a north bound bus and cross over Elliot and the railroad tracks). Adding stairs on the other side of the Third Avenue West bridge would be nice, but I doubt it get used much. It would be nice for lunch time breaks, but if they add Pronto stations here, I think everyone will use them instead of walking the extra mile (and those that do walk won’t mind walking the extra quarter mile). The third improvement only makes sense when they actually develop that area.

      1. Yes, the Helix Bridge. I’ve tried to cross in there, and it isn’t especially pleasant at all.

        It doesn’t connect to a trail down the hill now, but it could, just like Roy (just slightly south) does.

      2. The city (or parks department) would have to do some work to get the trail to connect. There are a number of make-shift trails, but if memory serves, it gets really sketchy back there. There are a lot of homemade trails that fizzle out, or lead to barbed wire fences and the like. You can make some connections, but most people wouldn’t.

        I agree, it would be nice to make a trail along that hillside right about Prospect. That would make for a short, very steep walk up the hill. That would be nice, considering the two alternatives are quite a ways to the north and south. Looking at the topo maps, it is not the steepest part of the hill, but plenty steep. At a minimum you would have to have a lot of switchbacks. I’m pretty sure they’ve done a lot of work (French Drains?) to avoid having the hillside slide, so that is a bigger consideration. Which is not to say the two can’t coexist, but it does mean that it isn’t as simple as just pushing your way up the hill.

      3. I’d have been happy to just be able to get across Elliott to the northbound bus stop from the bridge without having to mess with traffic.

        A trail up the hill would just have been gravy for a different trip, when I went up to Kerry Park from there.

      4. @Glenn: The path through to Roy is a lot different, just on a physical level. Roy at the entrance to Lower Kinnear Park is not that high in elevation, so the trail is barely a climb. From there you have to climb switchbacked stairs just to get to Upper Kinnear Park, then walk up a few steep blocks to get to Prospect…

        … now despite the reasonable grade of this trail through Lower Kinnear Park, the park has a reputation as a place you don’t want to walk through at night, which really extends to all the greenbelts on the steep slopes of Queen Anne Hill. For that matter, the Elliott Bay Trail is not a good place to be at night either. The trail surface and park grounds are extremely poorly lit, but there’s a lot of distracting light from above, so you’re not only isolated but blind. It’s especially bad when the ground is wet. Better lighting on the Elliott Bay Trail could conceivably bring enough through-going bike traffic to at least put a few “eyes on the street” (as on otherwise isolated parts of the Burke-Gilman or Chicago’s lakefront trail), but of course bike traffic there is depressed by the abysmal connection to Ballard…

        … If you did build a stairway from Elliott up to Prospect or 10th there’s no reason to believe it would be any better traveled or less sketchy than the existing paths through the greenbelt. It’s just not on the way between places that make common walking trips, and swapping out Amgen for Expedia will do nothing to change that. It’s an isolated campus and it’s hard to see that changing within a generation, if ever.

  4. I vote for an all day 15 to take advantage of these lanes. I will allow for a stop at Prospect (but no more!), in exchange for this all day, truly rapid bus route.

    1. Why do we need an all day 15 when we already have the “D” line (though the 15 skips Lower QA). too much duplication. Remember 75% of the Expedia’s employees live on the Eastside. Maybe some Eastside routes from downtown could be extended to serve the new HQ. Since the move is not coming for awhile, got plenty of time to plan.

      1. If only there were a Link station at Montlake, the express buses on 520 could go to SLU and maybe a bit further, once that opens.

    2. The 15X is express so it’s faster. It would complement the 26X and 28X, which Metro has already proposed expanding to all-day daytime. It would also serve as a stopgap until we can get rail to Ballard.

      1. Metro has only proposed expanding the 26X and 28X to all-day routes at the expense of the local routes. There’s not enough ridership on either corridor to justify running both express and local versions during midday periods, so having an all-day express would mean deleting the local route entirely.

        Whether the D/15 corridor has enough ridership to support an all-day 15X option is something I don’t have the data to answer. Adding it would probably entail frequency reductions on the D line.

      2. If Metro ran the 15 (no more “X” designation) all day, the D would absolutely lose ridership, since the 15 is a more direct route that avoids a obscenely long left turn light and an unnecessary diversion that shall remain unnamed. In fact, they could probably run the 15 every 10 to 15 minutes and the D every 15-30 minutes during the day and only the feds would care.

        There’s a lot of people that want to go from Ballard to/from Downtown at all times of the day. The D does nothing but frustrate them with thoughts of what could be.

      3. Instead of bringing back the 15X for all day service. I say use the 17X instead. The problem with the 15X is that bypasses Downtown Ballard proper, while the 17X and 18X serve downtown Ballard (15X would also duplicate “D” too). I picked the 17X over the 18X, because 24th Ave NW (18X) already has Route 40 with it’s frequent service, while 32nd Ave NW has no off peak service. Yes, I know that Route 61 was a lousy route, but having either the 15X or 18X for all day service would cannibalize Routes “D” or 40.

      4. “If Metro ran the 15 (no more “X” designation) all day, the D would absolutely lose ridership”

        There were two major controversies when the D was created, one was whether to run it through Elliott or Uptown, the other whether to put it on 15th or 24th NW. I would have preferred Elliott for faster travel time to Ballard, but for reasons I don’t fully understand Metro did it the other way.

      5. The 17 (again, no more X’s on any of these routes after the D line opened) is great for downtown Ballard, but would have practically zero ridership north of Market.

    3. There’s no need to cannibalize the D for more 15 service. Just switch the D and 24. If Magnolia gets too whiney, just being back the 19 during peak hours once funds become available.

      1. The 19 is coming back as part of the Seattle Transit Incentive that passed last November.

  5. Does Expedia know that Seattle used to have a streetcar line from International District Station, through Pioneer Square, with stops at Colman Dock and the Victoria Ferry landing, terminating a pleasant walk through a park from their new location?

    With plans- check the archives on the tenth floor of the Central Library- to extend the line north, past an existing foot-bridge to the Amgen building? If so, I think Expedia’s locating here is a very positive sign that they plan to help, financially and politically, with a dynamite lane-reserved car-line up Fifst Avenue.

    And that they can count on their attorneys attaching a monumental penalty clause if Seattle builds it, abandons it, and lets its track, catenary, and stations stand in ruins for ten years before tearing it out.

    Hate to keep sounding so pin-striped suit about accounting. But liberals who throw away that much working capital in plain sight make the fight against anti-Government reaction damned near impossible.

    Mark Dublin

    1. A couple months back I went through there, and noticed that the north yard track for the grain elevator is extremely rusty. It could be converted for Waterfront Trolley use without any real impact to the grain elevator. The bad news is that you would only be able to access it from the bridges as it would have the grain elevator yard on the south and the main line on the north.

      As long as that yard lead is, you could also easily accommodate a Sounder South Line train there.

      1. An additional Sounder station has been suggested by several people on different forums. I think it is a good idea that should be explored. If we do that, I think another station in Belltown or so might make sense. I don’t want to get too excited about Expedia. They are big, and likely to get a bit bigger, but they are not huge. The area (Expedia, Big Fish, etc.) is a pretty big employer, but it is no Belltown or South Lake Union. Of course, if it doesn’t cost that much to rent the tracks or build the stations, then it should be built for sure. The idea should certainly be explored.

      2. Expedia doesn’t excite me either. It’s creating an alternative that could supplement/provide alternative transit network connections to/from/instead of the buses on 15th and Elliott. The fact that Expedia is there is only a happy accident.

      3. I agree, I think it would be great. I could easily see it being tacked onto ST3. But I do wonder if it becomes a bit superfluous if the WSTT is built. It becomes a bit more of an express (making at most one stop between I. D./King Street and Expedia) but not a huge one. I think it would be of biggest benefit to those that are already on Sounder or can walk to King Street Station. That is significant, but not huge. Otherwise, I don’t know how many people would transfer to the train that travels less often, and only marginally faster. When you factor in the transfer walk, I think the speed difference goes away. When you consider the frequency of bus service along the WSTT (every minute or two) versus Sounder, I think most people would just grab the first bus.

      4. Glenn, I regularly observe the rail activity at and near the grain terminal. In fact, I am out there right now as I type this. I can assure you that none of the tracks are rusty. All of them are used.

    2. The original 1962 Monorail also planned to continue past the Seattle Center to Interbay–anyone interested in reviving that idea?

      1. Ballard people would ride in gutted Tauntaun carcases, if they were frequent and grade separated to downtown. We’re to the point of desperation. Although I voted against the recent monorail proposal, I would have rode the shit out of it, if for some reason it got built.

      2. Yeah, that is the problem. It probably wouldn’t have been built. But elevated (mono)rail from Ballard to downtown would have been extremely popular.

      3. Extending the Monorail to Interbay, in particular the Cruise ship terminals, would be great for the 900,000 annual cruise ship passengers. It would provide an enjoyable and direct route for all the tourists from Westlake Center to the Cruise ships while serving the Amgen campus. With some key bus transfers to the D and 15, all the more useful it could be.

      4. Add one inch to the monorail, and you will be required to rebuild the whole thing from scratch, to modern emergency-egress standards.

        Never mind that you don’t build and can’t justify run all-hour fixed mass transit to a place where people congregate all of once a day, a few hundred times a year.

        Never mind as well that this “impressive” number of annualized potential users is the equivalent of just a couple thousand people on average, and therefore dwarfed by the existing monorail ridership, which is itself fairly unimpressive itself in the scheme of things. (SeaTac airport’s annualized passenger count is 37.5 million, BTW. How’s the expensive dedicated infrastructure we build to that “terminal” doing in terms of either its modeshare or its mediocre raw ridership figures?)

        How many times must Seattleites spew slight variations on the same bad ideas?

      5. I’m not so sure the upgrade would be that expensive, difficult, or undesirable. Drop a grate between the two rails and it’s no worse than getting down out of a subway car.

      6. Glenn, sadly I think it would take more than a grate between the rails to meet current regulations.

        Extending the current monorail is a bit of a non-starter. First there is the issue of getting around the Center House in order to go west. Second we really aren’t talking all that many additional riders from Elliott. A station at 1st and Thomas would likely add far more riders than going further West would.

        Bringing back the WFSC with an extension to Expedia and the cruise terminal is a better idea. However any money used for it should be private, Port of Seattle, or from budgets used to build tourist amenities. In other words don’t use scarce transportation dollars to fund it. However if built it should integrate with the rest of the transportation network.

      7. @dp: do us all a favor and find the exact code and section that explicitly states upgrades to existing systems requires demolition and reconstruction. You seem to be in the know, and it sure would make things easier on all of us if you could share some of that knowledge in place of berating an idea without facts.

        “Facts, its what’s for breakfast!”

        I don’t doubt additions require upgrades along the system to an extent, but demolition of the whole system? If the monorail is so completely unsafe to warrant demolition for additions, how can it be possibly be safe enough to operate now? Are you to suggest that every transit system in the world tears up their tracks each time the system expands? NO! They make the necessary upgrades to bring the system into compliance and they add on! Now, if you were to argue the COST of said upgrade and addition wasn’t worth it, we could have a conversation. But as before, present some facts.

      8. @Andy In the engineering world, it’s pretty standard that once you touch an existing structure/building/road/etc, you have to bring it up to modern standards.

        While d.p.’s statement may have been hyperbole, it’s probably not too far from the truth. To bring it up to modern FTA regulations and other newer codes would require so much renovation to the existing structures and tracks that you may as well rebuild the whole thing for less money.

        Source: I’m an engineer.

      9. @RapidRider:

        Great, I’m an engineer too. That’s why I want to know the applicable codes and code sections. I want to see the code interpretations pertaining to those sections. Only then will we truly know the extent of the upgrade, and THEN we can make an educated decision on the cost for comparison to a brand new sparkly redundant train that will be 20 years out. I know the system will have to be brought up to compliance; that’s why I stated that.The intent of my original comment at dp was to not dismiss an idea without actually presenting a factual argument, cynical hyperbole be damned. When East and North link are completed in 10 years, will Sound Transit have to bring the rest of Central link up to compliance?

        And if upgrading to compliance seems too daunting, the engineer of record can always apply for a code alternate. If the city was serious about transportation, I’d imagine they’d be willing to work with the design team on this to make it work.

      10. Among the many lousy financial and political assumptions that sunk last decade’s monorail project was the expectation that the slim, minimalist, cheap, and non-redundant design of the original World’s Fair shuttle could simply be duplicated and extended. That obviously proved untrue, as the cost-inflated final version was forced to include physical external buffers and full-length lateral walkways that made the ROW just as bulky and costly as any elevated railway not on beams.

        Those later-draft plans presumed a complete, from-scratch reconstruction of the Belltown segment. And not just because a Bell Street stop was to be added, and the current termini significantly relocated. Any kind of extension of the system was found to demand entirely new operating systems commensurate with more complex multi-station operations, and as far as I am aware, this combined with the station alterations easily constituted enough of a holistic rehabilitation to invalidate any remaining “grandfathering” for the beams in between.

        There is clearly some minimum threshold of alteration below which a total overhaul is not mandated. For example, at the City Council hearing which led to an agreement to assess ORCA integration and the acceptance of ORCA-based transfers, Seattle Monorail Services insinuated a need for a future cash infusion to re-widen the Westlake approach and return to 2-platform operation at the downtown end, so as to avoid a repeat of the 2005 crash. The minimal scope of this revision would apparently trigger no changes elsewhere. But I suspect that a proposal to extend any further into downtown — or into LQA — probably would.

        I would be just as curious as you are as to where the threshold sits. But doubling the line in length, and likely ending all-shuttle operations (in which the beams never touch and have no switches) in favor of traditional directional running, most certainly sits above that threshold.

  6. The 24 and 33 could probably use some minor schedule adjustments to provide better service to Elliott Ave W.

    1. You mean like the dozen or so short-turn counter-peak bonus trips, beginning at Galer, that Metro ran for years up until 2012? At which point the RapidRide restructure broke the (131/132) through-routes that made these extra trips feasible, and Metro was shocked to discover that Elliott commuters didn’t want to walk farther just to ride the infuriating D detour?

      There are already two dozen comments above me waxing about more bridges and new crosstown connections and mother#%+}{&g streetcars, and not one person has mentioned the sane and financially accessible notion: run bus service where and how it is needed and at a scale that is appropriate. And when you accidentally break stuff — today’s counter-peak 33/24s have up to 40- minute device gaps; it’s no wonder they overcrowd when Interbay desk jockeys file out! — try to actually notice, so it doesn’t require a 3-years-later press release to fix what you broke.

      1. At least through there, the streetcar wouldn’t be in the street and wouldn’t be dealing with the traffic on 15th and Elliott. Cars going towards Expedia could be used by their employees, and cars going south could act as a connector between RapidRide & etc. and the further south areas of downtown and possibly Sounder. The original waterfront streetcar was significantly separated from auto traffic, so this could be a better link than trying to get through downtown.

      2. OK, I’ll admit, I’m lost. I mean I forget what the buses used to do. What is it you are proposing?

      3. Until 2012, the overload problems caused by the proliferating Elliott office parks and their counter-peaking employees were solved by starting half of the peak 131/132 runs as short-turn “33s” that did not actually come from Magnolia.

        I know this, because I used them all the time, switching from the 15/18 whenever feasible — and it was feasible often, since there were many of these runs — in order to avoid the LQA detour that Metro has since quadrupled down on.

      4. OK, thanks, that makes sense. Metro rerouted the buses to make a better connecting corridor without doing anything to actually make that corridor faster. Putting back those buses does seem long overdue. But that doesn’t mean that other ideas (such as a bridge over Elliot) wouldn’t also help (they would compliment each other). Long term it makes sense to build the WSTT, because then you have the best of both worlds (a fast, frequent transit corridor).

      5. they would compliment each other”

        “Oh, you are looking LOVELY this morning, 132.”
        “Thank you 33. I am to die for your new haircut.”
        “Tee-hee-hee. Than, you 132. You’re such a tease!”

      6. I agree with d.p. And Ross, the best short term solution is to run peak hour buses to serve the Elliot office parks (Big Fish, F5, and several other companies are down here too).

        Longer term a pedestrian bridge across Elliott, the WSTT, or even a light rail stop if an Interbay route is built will help.

        But by 2018 the only thing that can be in place is bus lanes and buses.

  7. The case for the Alternative 1 311 (UW, SLU, LQA) just got stronger… especially if it was extended a mile or two.

    1. remember most of us had some concerns about the 311 proposal going down Mercer St and ending up at Lower Queen Anne. Maybe KC Metro staff saw this one coming.

      1. I was thinking about this recently, and it’s less necessary than it seems if most buses are rerouted to the Link station. The 271, 311, and most other routes will all stop at Montlake and Shelby, so people can transfer there.

  8. This also seems like a great opportunity for a new Pronto bike share station or two near the Expedia campus to help make that last mile connection.

    1. Yes, anyone who is willing to ride a bike from downtown to Amgen will have a great ride through Myrtle Edwards Park, but the ride from Ballard to Amgen desperately needs improvements.

    2. Not only for folks getting to work, but going out for lunch. There aren’t too many placed to eat unless you head south. That is a very pleasant ride and can easily get you to the bridge crossing over to Queen Anne or the base of Belltown or the waterfront. Stations along there would make a lot of sense.

    3. Unfortunately, an isolated office park effectively becomes a cul-de-sac to a bikeshare system. Without any sort of critical mass of all-day comings and goings in multiple directions (as in a contiguous-city environment), the number of docks you build effectively becomes your cap on the number of people who use your service each day. Such a number is by definition too low (because no “sharing” happens).

      You cannot even fix this with Pronto van redistributions, the way that you can fix other misweightings (downhills versus uphills, rush-hour pulses at King Street). Those redistributions are all about dispersal, whereas at an office cul-de-sac dispersal becomes irrelevant. Once the workday has begun, those bikes aren’t coming back; redistribute them, and there won’t be any to leave with at 5pm either.

      Any smartly planned bikeshare needs to be able to distinguish between “last mile” problems it is equipped to solve and those it cannot. This is why I have a conniption fit each time Pronto proposes Kirkland P&R nodes rather than expanding to an urban coverage area broad enough to make a membership to their half-assed program ever worth buying.

      1. I think a lot depends on what Expedia does with the vacant land (I assume they own it). A lot of people have talked about this issue — the lack of decent restaurants and the like. If they add some there, then folks might go the other direction, just for giggles. Not that there is likely to be a hugely popular restaurant there, but that the combination (a very nice ride plus lunch) is appealing for folks along the waterfront. Again, not for commuters, but for lunchtime folks, or business folks that want to “go green”. Ride from Belltown to Expedia for a midday meeting — makes sense to me (that is the type of ride that doesn’t involve breaking a sweat). Even those out for a picnic might use a station at Expedia. It is pretty close to the north end terminus of the pretty part of the bike path (it connects to Magnolia, but becomes a lot less fun after Expedia). So I’m thinking someone might walk down the hill from Belltown, grab a bike, head out to Expedia, park the bike, sit by the seagulls and eat lunch, then bike back. There are worse ways to spend your lunch hour.

        I don’t think there are too many places where Pronto can solve the “last mile” problem for commuters. This isn’t one of them (as you say). I think one that could be solved is Fremont. There are a lot of folks that live there, and a lot of folks that work there, and a lot of folks that like to visit there in the evening. Light rail goes to Husky Stadium, and lots of buses go to Campus Parkway. That means riding along the Burke would make a lot of sense, whether by a bike stashed in the locker somewhere, or folks use Pronto.

      2. I’m not opining into a vacuum here — that just isn’t the critical mass of variable and contiguous uses that transforms bikeshare from an accoutrement on a brochure into a useful piece of the mobility puzzle.

        An office cul-de-sac with a “food truck zone” is still an office cul-de-sac.

      3. (Agreed on Fremont, of course. There would be some redistribution-requiring misweighting in Fremont usage patterns, but the fact that it is a multifaceted urban area on the way to other multifaceted urban areas — with daily trips to and through that outnumber any single-use destination by orders of magnitude — makes it apples to these “Expedia Park” oranges.)

      4. There is a bike route that runs north of the Amgen campus to Ballard, but it’s not as nice as riding through Myrtle Edwards. Actually, the bike route between Myrtle Edwards and Ballard is pretty bad unless you really like to ride along railroad tracks. But if the bike route between Amgen and Ballard can be upgraded to the point that riding a bike along that corridor becomes enjoyable, then the Expedia campus will be much less of a cul-de-sac and more of a waypoint.

      5. I suppose they could ride the trail to get to the Irish pub on Dravus & 21st.

        You can get to Maggie Bluff’s too, but the Magnolia Bridge isn’t too great on a bike.

      6. If Pronto ever gets its act together enough to grow its coverage area to a usable portion of the city, then sure, go ahead and drop a mid-point dock or two along the way from Ballard to Belltown.

        But don’t kid yourselves. That doesn’t make the Expedia dock a scalable destination from any direction, and however many bikes you do allow there will be “loss leaders” and quasi-private vehicles, never to be touched by another customer for the duration of the day.

  9. It’s also rumored that Alibaba will be moving its corportate HQ to Seattle. Does anyone know how many people will be located here and where Alibaba might choose to locate?

    1. The rumor is that it will open a US HQ in Seattle, not that it will move its main HQ to Seattle. Big difference.

  10. B-b-but… RapidRide, right everyone? Surely our fancy red buses are moving swiftly through this corridor as promised?

  11. I’ve been told that many Expedia employees must be at work by 5 or 6 AM. This will affect the way that bus operations are adjusted to better serve the new location. Since it’s a few years away, I’m sure that some interesting changes will emerge.

    1. Yeah “I’m sure” Metro will anticipate the demand and provide ample, quality service for the growing Interbay population on Day 1.

    2. Surely an Eastsider who needs to be in an Interbay office at 5am or 6am will drive. Hard to make that particular transit option compelling.

  12. I read in the Seattle Times that 70% of their employees live on the Eastside, so this move is pure insanity at best (and by insanity I include the nefarious interests of greedy landowners, and tax lusting city bureaucrats).

    The best solution for this is to let everyone work at home, and leave those new buildings as empty shells, much like Chinese ghost cities…they are built not for their utility, but as safe deposit boxes.

    1. Do they live on the Eastside because that’s where they really want to live, or just because it makes commuting to the current Expedia offices tolerable?

      From what I’ve seen, Expedia has a relatively young, diverse workforce drawn in large part from outside the Puget Sound native population. Do they have deep roots on the Eastside that will keep them there after the move, or will some large fraction relocate to the Westside? With a 6-figure average income, there’s plenty of housing they can afford within a reasonable commute of the new location.

      1. You hit the nail on the head. From what I hear their recent hiring has been biased towards the seattle side of the lake, and just because a current employee lives on the Eastside doesn’t really mean that that is where that employee wants to live. I suspect that by the time the move actually happens their employee split will be closer to 50-50. A year after that? Definitely biased towards seattle. Such is the draw of the big city.

    2. The best solution for this is a transit system that has better connections, so that people can get where they need to go.

      Right now, the only thing through there that is an east-west route is the 32, and isn’t so bad if you want to go to Fremont. There is no Magnolia-Seatle Center-SLU-Montlake route equivalent to the 31 further south to tie all this together, or tie all this to an express route on 520, or even act as a reasonably high speed connection to somewhere that does at least have some sort of express service to someplace.

      The first root word of network is net. There is a hole in the “net” in this spot so the “work” part of the word can’t happen too well either.

      Take a look at a map of Seattle bus routes and you’ll see the hole.

      The AmGen building could sit vacant for 30 years, and there would still be a hole in the net in this spot unless some other change were made.

      1. The best solution for this is a second LR line that goes from DT to Ballard via Interbay with a stop at Expedia. Yes, the lead time is longer than just moving buses around, but the payoff in mobility is vastly greater

      2. That won’t address the unfortunate lack of east-west ties through there. You have to go north to the 32 or south to the 8.

        This is what the domino effect of not planning for really good network connections are like. If the 520 Link station were built, there could be a bus route on 520 that could stop there and give eastside passengers a quick, frequent connection to the Husky Stadium station. The route could then continue to SLU and Seattle Center, and connect across an assortment of other routes, as well as this proposed light rail line once it is built. The entire network gets much stronger.

      3. There is nothing fast about a bus on that route and there never will be. If people really wanted the slow one seat ride on the bus then it hardly matters if the bus stops at 520 or Husky Stadium. Slow is slow.

      4. All Glenn is saying is that a proper, non-arduous 520/Link connection would free up various buses to serve ultimate destinations other than downtown, while a more effective, thorough, and thought-out transit grid would have all manner of positive outcomes.

        But we all know you can’t be bothered. Like every “Radial Express Distance Rail 4eva” foamer, care neither about such pesky minutiae as holistic mobility outcomes, nor about facts that might prove inconvenient to your worldview.

        Like that a couple of corporate buildings behind a fence do not an all-day urban high-demand corridor make.

      5. Lazarus; When you have visited Portland, have you watched what happens at the 82nd Ave MAX station? It’s a station surrounded by not much, just like a 520 Montlake station would be.

        Just standing there a few minutes will show you a huge number of transfers between the 72, 77 and MAX there.

        The 72 is free to serve 82nd and Killingworth without going downtown because MAX exists. MAX doesn’t have to be crammed onto a tiny northeast Portland street because the 77 exists.

        Sure, transfers are not a convenient one seat ride. Several hundred people do it every hour at this station though, because one route can’t do everything.

        Link could have that sort of transfer traffic, or better, at the Montlake 520 station, if such a station existed. The trains will be so frequent no one will need to think about transfer waiting.

      6. Lazarus,

        Especially when you have nice wide streets like 15th/Elliot buses don’t necessarily need to be slower than rail, depending on how much you are willing to help the buses out (bus lanes, signal priority, etc.).

        Adding such treatments to the path taken by the 15/18X, stops on Elliot to serve the office parks, and reverse peak service to central Ballard or Fremont would do much to improve access to the Amgen campus.

        Even better if a Ballard/UW line happens a reasonably fast bus connection to the line is possible from the Amgen campus. Similarly while Option D wouldn’t serve the campus directly, decent bus connections to the Lower Queen Anne, Ballard, and Belltown stations are possible.

        As d.p., Ross and others are fond of pointing out we will never have rail everywhere in the Seattle area. Many if not most link riders will be taking a bus on one or both ends of their rail trip. Let’s work on providing the best connections we can to the stations already planned/built and on siting new lines/stations/infrastructure where they can best help the bus network.

      7. That’s one of the things I find really annoying when I go through there: it already has bus lanes. Somehow, the need to store several parked cars, on a street where parallel parking is terrible to get into and out of, and where all the businesses seem to have more than adequate parking lots, is more important thsn transit flow.

        That part of things could be solved tomorrow, as this article notes.

      8. I would also point out that this works going the orher direction too.

        Suppose some higher speed transit does come to the area. With an east-west line of some sort you can increase the ridership of that too.

        Suppose it winds up being an extension of Sounder South as I suggest above. You can now get from a station at the AmGen helix bridge to King Street Station in six minutes over the half hour + slog it is now on the surface streets. People working as far away as SLU may be interested in getting to this service, especially if they live near Kent.

        How do people get to it without an east-west line?

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