113 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: The Ladies Who Bus”

  1. New King County Metro / Sound Transit Challenge:

    Challenge starts with next month’s service change (june 5) and lasts until the end of September (when the new service change starts)

    1) Must ride every King County Metro route in existence from beginning until end
    2) Must ride every Sound Transit route operated by King County from beginning until end
    3) Must ALSO ride ST routes 512 from S 145th Street to Seattle (ok to start or end north of there) 578 from Auburn to Seattle (ok to start in Puyallup or Sumner), 577, 560, 566, and 567.
    4) Must ride ST Link from Seatac to westlake

    1. My fantasy game has been to start on Route 1, then transfer to Route 2 > 3 > 4 > 5 etc. How far could I get in 1 day? And how long would it take to ride every route?

    2. Does one get credit for routes already ridden? Is there a reward? A few years ago my then-toddler grandson visited every library in Seattle using Metro. Got a stamp at each one.

    3. And I only collected bus schedules in junior high, and rode them at my leisure.

      To do the conecutive ride, the 1 starts conveniently downtown. Take it to Kinnear, walk ten blocks to the 2, take it to Madrona. Walk up the steep Madrona hill or take the 2 partway back (if that’s allowed) to 34th, and take the 3 back to Queen Anne. Walk ten blocks and take the 4 to Judkins Park. Now you have to walk a ways back to downtown or take the 4 back. Take the 5 to Shoreline CC. There is no 6 (it was an Aurora milk run.) Now you’re really in a pickle because the 7 is miles away. Walk three hours to downtown or rake the 5 back. Take the 7 to Prentice Street, and count how many steps it takes to Rainier & Henderson and how many more steps to “Rainier Beach” Station. Take the 8 to Queen Anne again. (You’re spending a lot of time on Queen Anne but that’s almost over.) The 9 runs only part-time so I don’t think it’s fair to include it. Take the 8 back to 15th & John and walk up to the 10. Take the 10 downtown and conveniently the 11 stops at the same place. Take the 11 to Madison Park, then partway back to 19th, and walk up to the 12’s teminus. Take the 12 downtown, and the 13 to Queen Anne and SPU. Take it back downtown and the 14 to Mt Baker. The 15 is a peak express, so take the 14 downtown and the 16 to Northgate. The 17, 18, and 19 are peak expresses, and there is no 20 (it was part of the 120). So take the 16 back downtown and the 21 to White Center. Is there a 22? Ah yes, lower California, but it’s part time. Still, it’s nearby, so take it downtown if it’s running. There is no 23, so take the 24 to Magnolia and back. The 25 is part-time, so take the 26 to Greenlake and back, and the 27 to Leschi and back. Now we’re getting to the point where we have to make a lot of round trips….

      1. I wouldn’t require an end-to-end trip on each route, just that the buses be ridden in consecutive order which would make it easier. But extra points could be awarded for every terminal visited. I imagine the ORCA cards could be used to verify that the correct buses were boarded in the correct order.

      2. 22 doesn’t go downtown anymore. It only goes to California Ave. SW and Sw Alaska St. (aka “The Junction” in West Seattle.

    4. The only exception to the terminal to terminal rule is one which would ensure you have no reasonable trip home. You’re not going to take the Duvall bus all the way to Duvall, since there’s no way back home for instance. Personal safety always comes first. Sorry Metro 143 riders. You have to go to Maple Valley, since there’s transit service there. But you also would get credit for the 168 :)

      1. “The Duvall bus” is the 224, which runs all day to Redmond, weekdays. The peak express, 232, goes not to Seattle but to Bellevue TC. I had excluded daytime-only routes and peak expresses because the former restrict your schedule and the latter really belong to some different game.

        Since Duvall is on the Eastside, this raises the fact that many Eastside routes don’t go to Seattle anymore, so it would probably be better to treat the Eastside as a separate game and start at Bellevue TC. Numbering doesn’t matter as much on the Eastside, so the goal here would be to ride on all all-day routes while going through Bellevue TC the fewest number of times. (Hint: Kirkland-Redmond, Redmond-Eastgate, Kirkland-Bothell.)

        Two issues we haven’t addressed are Sound Transit routes and lettered routes. Can these be used as wild cards to get between routes? That would be in keeping with their trunk role. Then you could use the E to get back downtown after the 5, and the C to get back downtown from the 22, and Link to get back from the 14.

        I don’t think it’s worth putting much stock in consecutive numbers though. The numbers are arbitrary so their consecutive pattern is accidental. What is the greater meaning of the 5 going to Shoreline and the 7 going to Rainier Valley? The only pattern in the numbers is Metro halfheartedly tries to put one district’s routes in the same number block. And it has started reviving “traditional” 1980s numbers (226, 235).

  2. Many years ago, there was a story in the Sunday magazine in the Seattle Times about a guy who was riding all the Seattle (or maybe Metro) bus routes. Sounded kind of cool.

  3. Accompanied by every single person connected in any way with transit information.

    At the very least, everyone actually giving information should spend one day out of every work week riding transit for their first month of service, and one day a month from there on.

    And every time they’re unable to answer a question from first-hand knowledge, required and paid to ride and visit the problem scene.

    And it goes without saying that no information work whatever be subcontracted to any firm not located within walking distance of our transit grid.

    Whatever these measures cost, they’ll repay the system many times over.

    Mark Dublin

      1. Include planners. Should visit in person proposed routings, including transfer points. And wait at least 15 minutes at such transfer points.

    1. Along the same line:

      On Friday afternoon I was talking this sort of thing over with one of the older TriMet drivers, and the conclusion was definitely that one of the Crown-Ikarus artic buses should have been preserved as a monument to why sometimes it is a bad idea to go with the lowest bidder.

      1. The irony is that I actually liked riding the Ickies… Remember, this was before TriMet had a/c on any equipment, bus or light rail, so they weren’t particularly bad in the heat, and in the winter, OMG they were nice and toasty.

        And I will tell you one of the coolest sounds is an Allison HT hooked up to a Cummins N14, plus a reduction hub.

        Their wheelchair lifts on the other hand… … … But then I was a youngster, and didn’t care because I never had my stepfather with me on Portland trips.

      2. Good heat is definitely accomplished by something designed for the streets of Moscow.

        I agree about the first generation power system though. In later years with the Detroit engines they sounded ….. well, much worse.

  4. I wonder what the biggest car vs transit time difference is? In other words, is there some errand or trip, that if you run it in your car takes only 10 or 15 minutes, but if you attempt it by bus, it turns into a 2 or 3 journey? If I wanted to get from Bellevue to Renton by car today, it would be about 50 minutes round trip. But if I took transit, it would take two buses, some walking and some waiting, which would easily end up taking about 4 hours round trip.

    1. Which parts of Bellevue and Renton are you thinking of? Downtown to downtown, it’s only 25 minutes on the 560.

      Regarding your question… I think the answer is Monroe-Woodinville. If you don’t catch the 424 on its two trips a day, you need to go the long way around through Everett and Lynnwood.

    2. I don’t know, but it is a good question. I think it would be interesting to see a spreadsheet with different destinations and look at the differences. My guess is that the trips that are faster (or close to as fast) on the bus are the ones that are most popular. Lots of people take the bus because they have no alternative, but those that have a choice take the bus when it is faster (or close to as fast). Downtown destinations are especially popular, because it is often much faster to take an express bus (traveling in HOV lanes) than it is to drive.

      I think the routes that go the way that people would drive (more or less) are the routes that are popular as well. If I’m in Lynnwood and want to go downtown I’m going to get on the freeway. If I’m in the west part of Shoreline and headed to Ballard, I would probably go down Aurora and then cut over. The bus routes are better in this regard, then they used to be (in both those cases the buses follow that general pattern). In the old days most buses required a downtown transfer.

      But things could get a bit worse with the latest change, which is frustrating, considering that the whole point of the reorganization of the routes is to provide a better grid. People are supposed to transfer more in exchange for faster and more frequent buses. But the new 67 (if implemented) doesn’t do that. If I’m in my car in the U-District and want to get to the Northgate Transit Center, I’ll either get on the freeway or head north and cut over to 5th. I certainly won’t drive through Maple Leaf until Northgate Way, then cut back south to the transit center. But that will be the only way to get there if the latest proposal goes through. For an obvious, essential, important bus route, this would be a big mistake.

      1. I’m not actually all that concerned about the 67 taking Roosevelt to Northgate because the real destination at Northgate is not the transit center, but the mall, homes, and businesses north of the transit center. Think of the new 67 as really running from the U-district to 5th and Northgate, with the transit center tail being merely a matter of operational convenience, since the bus has to end somewhere with layover space, a restroom for the bus drivers, and room to turn around.

        In the end, some trips may actually be quicker under the new 67, such as trips to Target or anything just north of Northgate Way.

      2. OK, fair enough. That is a reasonable argument. There is a trade-off. I would run the 73/373 down Roosevelt, and run the 67 down fifth. This is how I see it for the various people if you went with my change:

        1) Roosevelt Way from 80th to Northgate Way — They come out a bit behind with my suggestion. The 73 follows the exact same route, but is less frequent.

        2) Roosevelt Way and Northgate Way to the transit center — They come out behind, because they will have to transfer or walk a ways.

        3) The area around the transit center (103rd and 5th) — They come out ahead because their trip will be a lot faster.

        4) 5th NE from 80th to the transit center — They come out way ahead. Otherwise they will have to walk.

        5) Those that transfer to another bus — They come out substantially ahead. They spend a lot less time just getting to the station.

        It is this last group I am most concerned about. The difference between the first two groups and the third and fourth is not huge. There are smaller medical buildings as well as really big buildings right next to the transit center. Likewise, there are a few smaller apartments and offices to the south on 5th. The difference in no way makes up for the huge number of people who will transfer at the transit center.

        This to me is the key. A lot of old routes will go away, or will go away soon. The idea is to make a transfer a lot more palatable. A lot of people (myself included) avoid riding Metro if there is a transfer, because the transfers are usually so bad. In this case, the transfers will be bad. Getting from the UW Medical Center to Northwest Hospital (which is part of UW medicine) means taking a bus up to Northgate Way, then back down to the transit center, then back up north again. This is just one of many trips that are like this — very awkward and time consuming.

        The whole point of a good grid system is to make the transfers really easy, so folks won’t mind doing them. For people going from the UW to Northgate, I think this fails in that regard.

      3. Ross,

        Such spreadsheets do exist and are used and produced for travel demand modeling purposes—PSRC should have these. There are often spreadsheets by mode and by time of day that list travel times between every pair of zones in an area. There are usually three different types of travel time spreadsheets for transit: walking time to and from a transit stop, time spend waiting at a stop, and in-vehicle travel time. Mapping software driven by these travel time spreadsheets can be incredibly useful for showing the mobility and accessibility impacts of different transit networks.

      4. I used to live just north of Northwest Hospital and I see what you’re talking about. I traveled to the U-district quite frequently, and would often drive when I didn’t have time for a 45-minute bus trip to go 4 miles. A few times, I even tried running home from the U-district and even a relatively slow 8-minutes-per-mile was still often enough to beat the bus.

        However, if I imagine the trip on the new 67, I actually see it being quite a bit better than the current route. With the new 67, I could walk home directly from 5th and Northgate, and bypass the transit center completely. With the current system, the choices were to either walk home from the transit center (longer), or wait at the transit center for another bus (who knows how long that might take). And this is on top of the fact that the new 67 runs more frequently than the existing 66/67 combo.

        The real problem is that that the new 67 de-emphases service to the transit center, but that the transit center is located in the wrong place. If they built it closer to Northgate way, we could have had a #40 that went straight through down Northgate Way, the way you drive, and things would be a lot better. The current transit center location is a classic example of shoving buses out of the way to make room for a giant P&R lot.

      5. I agree — the Northgate Transit Center is in a lousy location. It’s main advantage is that it is close to the express lane freeway ramp. This makes the 41 a good bus. Of course, this advantage will go away very soon (as soon as Link gets here). But then the main advantage is that it will be a Link station. So it will be important for a long time, even though it is in a lousy location. So we are stuck with it as a major transfer point.

        Which gives people two choices. Either ride and walk (as you suggest) or do a transfer. The whole point of this restructure is to enable the latter. The whole point is to run buses frequently enough that no one has to make that choice. For this route (the 67) the idea is that it runs often enough that the transfer penalty is practically non-existent when it is the tail end. Which means you only have to time the other bus going the other direction. But this has a time penalty, piled on top of the transfer penalty, which just makes it annoying for anyone doing this. They might save five minutes on a transfer, but lose it again as the bus loops around.

        On a related note, one of the things that Metro should fix is the other button hook: the use of 92nd for a bus heading out of Northgate Transit Center, even if the bus is headed north. This is probably not as bad as the other one (traffic being lighter here) but it is still the wrong direction. The purpose is obvious — to pick up students at North Seattle College. One more reason we need to build a bridge, so that those buses can skip the school and take a more direct route to the transit center. You would probably have at least one bus that goes by the school, but not as many as do now.

      6. “the idea is that it runs often enough that the transfer penalty is practically non-existent when it is the tail end”

        Unfortunately, this is a pipe dream. 15-minute paper headways is nowhere near the threshold of a practically non-existant transfer penalty. Nor is Saturday nights and all-day Sunday, when the 67 is down to every 30 minutes. And, until Metro is willing to route buses straight down Northgate Way, bypassing their fancy transit center, any kind of cross-town trips through Northgate that do not end there are always going to stink.

        Rather than focusing on making a few horrible trips slightly less horrible, it is better to focus on serving the centers of the areas that the routes are designed to serve so that the trips served directly by the 67 become better. If you travel through Maple Leaf, you can see that there really is a lot more multi-family housing on Roosevelt than on 5th, and there’s a lot more commercial activity near Northgate Way than near 100th St.

      7. If that’s the case, then the whole redo is a sham, and they never should have attempted it. There are so many people who will lose their one seat ride. Many will lose service to their neighborhood altogether. But the trade-off was supposed to be that increased frequency was going to make up for it. So why kill off so many routes going to so many places, and then turn around and say the frequency is just not adequate for good transfers?

        I am quite familiar with the area. I’ve walked all around there. The difference is really minor between 5th and Roosevelt (it is just that the apartments on Roosevelt are more visible since they are closer to the top of the hill). None of it is even in the same league as the UW as far as density goes (step a few feet off the main drag and you have houses on big lots). Again, I wouldn’t completely remove service there (as is proposed for 5th) but move the 73 and 373 there. As for Northgate Way, it has lots of buses going by (or close to) it. I was biking around the area yesterday. I happened to bike close to the Northgate Transit Center around 4:00. North of 103rd — traffic was already backed up. South of there, it was wide open. So someone who lives a couple blocks north of 100th will probably get off a couple blocks away from their stop anyway, instead of sitting on their bus while it creeps forward.

    3. The most common horror stories I’ve heard are in south King County where you had to go downtown to get from one part to another. But now there’s a spiderweb of east-west and diagonal routes centered at SeaTac, Kent Station, and Southcenter, so I don’t think that’s a problem anymore. However, the routes are half-hourly daytime, hourly evening/Sunday, so that still makes it “15 minutes in a car, an hour on a bus”. My friend bought a house on 24th Ave S in SeaTac, and I noticed there was no bus to the nearest supermarket in Burien. Going from Seattle to Snohomish (city) requires going through Everett. Going from Lynnwood to Canyon Park is probably difficult. Downtown Bellevue to Snoqualmie would take half an hour in a car or two hours on the 271+208. Then of course there’s the notorious Sand Point to Ballard, Lake City to Ballard, and Lake City to Bitter Lake.

      1. I remember living in Kirkland and having to take a bus downtown to transfer to a bus to Issaquah that only ran every two hours.

      2. The 210 was still alive in the 80s. I lived on Somerset for several months in high school and attended Bellevue High. The nearest bus route was a 10-minute walk away (210: Issqauah/North Bend milk run, every 90-120 minutes). At the bottom of the hill 20 minutes away were the 252 (Eastgate-Crossroads-Bellevue-UDistrict hourly) and 252? express: Eastgate-Crossroads-405-UDistrict). Maybe the 252s came to the middle of the hill; I don’t remember. Further away were the 240 (Bellevue-Factoria-Renton, hourly. 30 minute walk?) and 340 (405 express, half-hourly, 40-60 minute walk?)

        In the morning the best schedule was to take the 210 to Mercer Island and transfer to the 226/235 back to Bellevue. In the afternoon I usually took the 240 or 340 and walked the rest of the way. I wrote out and carried combined schedule of all the routes so I could choose based on the current time and how far I wanted to walk.

    4. I think I’ve just thought of it. North Bend to Auburn. 20 minutes by car, and probably over two hours by bus.

      1. 30 minutes by car, 2 hours 52 minutes by bus, using the all-day network (208->554->578). When Sounder is running the time drops to about 2 hours flat. Of course, this is just to Aurburn Station. Pick a random address within a 3-mile radius of Auburn Station and the bus time increases by another 30-45 minutes, while the drive time remains essentially the same half-hour as before.

      2. Then North Bend to Covington is even worse. Say the hordes living in Covington who shop or work at the North Bend Premium Outlets (as the factory stores are grandiosely called now). Highway 18 goes right through Covington so the driving distance drops by a quarter, to 15 minutes. Using Sounder, get off at Kent Station dropping 7 minutes from asdf2’s itinerary, and take the 168 adding 35 minutes plus transfer time to a half-hourly route (34 minutes to Wax Road plus 2 minutes to Covington center). You’re now at 2 hours 28 minutes plus transfer time to a half-hourly route. (Southbound at 5pm.)

        Not using Sounder, I don’t know. 208+554+150+168 would lead to: 208 51 minutes (tx Issaquah TC), 554 26 minutes (tx Intl Dist), 150 55 minutes (tx Kent Station), 168 35 minutes. Total 2 hours 47 minutes plus transfers.

        But you’d prefer not to go through Seattle. (Or at least Mr Bailo would). There I don’t know because the 554 has no common stop with the 566/567. You could take the 271 from Issaquah TC to Bellevue TC (48 minute milk run). Or take the 554 to Eastgate and the 271 to Bellevue TC. Neither of these sound very appealing. Here’s where a 4-way transfer station at South Bellevue would be especially helpful.

      3. The 240 does go from Eastgate P&R to Renton. Granted, it takes almost an hour to actually get to Renton, but it at least exists.

    5. I used to work evenings in the Renton Highlands, at the end of the 908 DART route, and lived near the Brickyard Park & Ride. Getting there was easy, about an hour during the PM peak. Work gets out late, between 9-10 pm. Getting home by transit would’ve been totally impractical. It’d take 2-3 hours one way plus waiting on the 30 minute frequency of the first leg, whereas a drive on 405 at that time takes about 25 minutes and I didn’t have schedule anxiety. So I drove.

      Or how about infinity, for trips that are not possible by transit?

    6. What limits do you want to set? Eg: Bellingham to Yachats via Olympia, Aberdeen, Astoria and Tillamook can be done using a series of local buses.

    7. I live I upper queen anne and work in ballard. Bus rakes 50 minutes to an hour, bike takes 10 minutes. It’s actually faster for me to walk the 3 miles

      1. Believe me, you don’t want to get rid of segregated land uses. In Houston they’ve never had them and people are constantly exposed to the risk of a thirty story building going up in the lot next door. No, it doesn’t happen very often, but if it does, you’re SOL.

      2. Houston’s lack of zoning is actually more restrictive according to “Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism” by Benjamin Ross. Instead of zoning, the city puts its enforcement power behind private deed covenants. In the rest of the US these covenants are “voluntary” and you have to sue in civil court to enforce them. Ross says the legal justification for these covenants is shaky, and they’ve lasted mainly because there have been few court cases; most parties just follow them or settle out of court.

        Covenants originally appeared in the late 1800s to preserve the developer’s vision in a master-planned neighborhood, which mainly meant excluding industry, apartments, and minorities. Later the courts invalidated minority exclusions but the others remain.

        So in other places the civil courts enforce covenants, but sometimes they invalidate them, especially if the original covenanteer is long dead or no longer has a financial interest in the area. But in Houston the city enforces covenants. The net result is that instead of a citywide zoning plan that channels apartments to growth areas (or whatever the city’s democratically-elected representatives decide), each development has absolute power to exclude things they don’t want, and that effectively means no infill apartments in single-family developments even if the city wants to. It’s like giving NIMBYs absolute power. If we had that in Seattle, Roosevelt could unilaterally veto apartments and the city couldn’t upzone it. So the only new apartments are in greenfield developments at the edge of the city.

      3. If the land next door to your single-family house is valuable enough that someone would be willing to invest in constructing a 30-story building on it, then maybe single-family zoning isn’t appropriate for your block and Houston actually has it right here.

      4. That’s not how it works if the house is part of a neighborhood development. The neighborhood covenant vetoes the 30-story building. You’d have to convince a majority of the homeowners in the development to change the covenant. Since homeowners often want the neighborhood to remain exactly as it was when they bought their house, they won’t consent.

      5. yeah don’t believe the texas hype about free markets and no government…no zoning but highly restrictive covenants, limitless government budgets for new and expanded freeways in places that cant even support a 2 lane road (they have no time for low cost cloverleaf interchanges, its all 4 level flyover interchanges), anti-private enterprise passenger rail, etc.

  5. Nice to see at the Capitol Hill Station open house yesterday that there will be a grocery store and market hall, sounds good right? Well except for the part about the customer parking to serve this market which would be accessed right in the middle of the site, right at John where the bus transfer is. So on top of this busy Link station and major bus-rail transfer point (and public plaza) we are going to have a steady stream of cars going into and out of the parking garage which will of course be most concentrated at the evening rush hour. Its going to be a traffic nightmare and hazard for all the pedestrians walking to/from the station which is at the heart of this highly walkable transit oriented neighborhood in what would otherwise be the best example of a TOD in the region. Why is there any retail parking especially at this location?!?!?

    1. Grocery stores without parking are almost non-existent. From personal observation, the threshold for how dense an area has to be before someone will build a standard-sized grocery store without on-site parking appears to be something on the order of midtown Manhattan.

      Part of the problem is that even people who who walk, bike and ride transit most places are still known to get in the car and drive 2 blocks when it’s time to go to the grocery store.

      1. Capitol Hill is definitely the place for it especially over a station with 14,000 people/day for projections made well before the boom. Hell, even Portland has several no-parking markets including its City Target.

        Maybe then a market is a bad choice for this location if parking is a must. Look at any garage entry at a supermarket around here and watch the huge amount of auto traffic it creates.

      2. Correction: grocery stores without parking are almost nonexistent in the PacNW. They’re not uncommon elsewhere.

    2. Poncho, why shouldn’t there be retail parking at that location? A lot of people, even on Capitol Hill, need a car to get to the store. Not everyone lives close to a bus line. Not everyone is able to physically transport by public transit. Why shouldn’t there be a place to park for them? What are they supposed to do?

      1. I don’t care about whether a market has parking or not. I have a problem with the stream of auto traffic flooding into and out of this garage at this particular busy high foot traffic location. This is not a trickle of cars like residential parking, this is a flood of cars like at any supermarket. The garage entry is on a shared pedestrian/vehicle street that runs through the middle of the site from John to Denny which will be dumping cars out on John where the bus transfers are and on the plaza at Denny.

        As for “Not everyone is able to physically transport by public transit. Why shouldn’t there be a place to park for them? What are they supposed to do?”

        Well I guess they’ll starve like everyone did back before the glorious sacred automobile was invented. Believe it or not, for thousands of years humans managed to feed themselves without the use of cars.

      2. Getting people out of their cars for a half-mile jaunt to the grocery store really has very little to do with transit. For trips that short, wait times become dominant, and the walking distance to reach the bus stop is often only marginally shorter than the walking distance to simply reach the destination.

        Rather, it has to do with who is willing to carry groceries home on foot and who isn’t.

      3. Have their groceries delivered? Or drive to another store–I believe there are others in the general area.

      4. Now you’ve gone too far, when you start telling people where they should go for groceries. Next you’ll be telling them to get a cart so they can hall them home. Lets be real and remember that buses are for the people who ride them, not just toys for planners or people on this blog!!!

      5. Who is talking about telling people where to buy groceries? You cant possibly be implying that no off street parking is forbidding people from patronizing a store?

      6. Go to a different store, of course. If they’re auto-bound they’re driving all the time anyway; stop at a different store on a different errand.

      7. Reg, buddy. I HAVE A CART to haul them home and a backpack for smaller trips.

        And I live in real genuine suburbia — Hazel Dell in North Vancouver WA. The neighbors have stopped staring and I’ve even seen some of them carrying small loads home. My oh my; revolution, one bag at a time.

      8. Anandakos,

        I’m not your buddy, I have a backpack and a cart too! It’s not the job of the blog to tell people where to go shopping and how to do it either by foot, bike, bus or otherwise!

      9. How about they shop at another grocery store that has parking. Like pretty much any other grocery store in the city.

      10. Probably the store shouldn’t be right at the station. That would mean there wouldn’t be cars going back and forth where people were trying to walk to and from the station. People who choose to can still walk to the grocery store with carts, but those who feel that they must have their car for groceries would be able to do so. Apparently not having parking at a grocery store is discriminating against people who want to use their cars, or telling people where they have to shop, or something.

      11. Grocery stores with parking can be made to be more transit friendly than the traditional acres of parking layout. The Fred Meyer store at SE 39th and Hawthorne in Portland has one of the better arrangements, but newer nearby Safeway and New Seasons stores do reasonably well at separating parking lot traffic from walk-up customers routing. In the case of the Hawthorne Fred Meyer store the parking access is from side streets, while sidewalk access from the main pedestrian traffic street is basically a traditional storefront from the sidewalk.

    3. Thank you for the insight into CHS. This must some of the same great thinking that put the station there instead of between Pike and Pine which would have Metro’s bus routing to CHS and it’s use much easier!

      1. Its pure nuts that there’s no second station in Capitol Hill/First Hill. When they dropped the First Hill station they should have put one at Pike/Pine around Belmont or Harvard where the line now runs underground. Minus Convention Place and the gap between Westlake and CHS is even more insanity.

      2. Really, there should have been several stops in Capitol Hill: one around Pike Pine (maybe at Summit), the original CHS, maybe one at Group Health, one in “Upper Capitol Hill” (like 23rd and Aloha–not particularly dense, but since you’re passing through the neighborhood and it’s a long way from anywhere no reason not to stop), and one at Montlake.

        Maybe my New York upbringing is showing with the closely-spaced stops, but all of these (except maybe the 23rd and Aloha stop) probably would have been blockbusters. A Montlake stop would have made cross-lake commuting from Capitol HIll even better than the UW stop. A Group Health stop is still possible with an 8 subway, if that ever happens.

      3. Hell even the convention center stop would have been good–it’s pretty convenient to a lot of the Denny Triangle and “lower” SLU

      4. Could a new convention place station ever be built under Pine where the trains layover now? Theres a fair amount of land south of Pine next to I-5 and the Paramount for a station headhouse, now being used as a construction staging area for ULink.

      5. Maybe, but what’s the point? Convention Center station doesn’t serve *that many people, so it’s pretty much worthless as a terminal. It would only have merit as a through station, which as I understand would not be possible.

      6. I agree that it’s nuts not to have a second station on Capital Hill either Pike/Pine or Broadway and Madison. The same great minds that “fixed” Broadway with bike lanes and a street car with no dedicated lane must have located the ST LR stations, right?

      7. No, ST did years before that. It was mostly about cost and fearing voters wouldn’t approve it with more stations pushing up the price tag, and they weren’t thinking about intra-Capitol Hill mobility but connecting the “urban centers”.

      8. You’re so right they were not thinking, the question is anyone thinking today, just look at Broadway?

      9. It’s not lack of thinking; it’s having different priorities. Most of the ST board is suburban, so in their mind “going to Capitol Hill” means Broadway between Pine and John. Not Summit, not 15th, not 23rd. It’s important to understand this because it explains why Link is the way it is, and where you’d have to start if you want to make it something different. It’s not that they tried to build an “urban-spaced” system and failed; it’s that they didn’t consider it important.

      10. Yes, but they did fail to consider how the suburban riders from the 520 corridor were supposed to connect to Link. So it really is a combination of a suburban mindset with a little bit of incompetence thrown in.

      11. I don’t think ST thought about the 520 corridor connecting to Link at all until a few months ago. They designed Link thinking of the I-5 corridor and nothing but. The station is where is purely for reasons engineering convenience. The fact that it has the potential to connect with 520 is just an accident.

      12. Not putting a station at Montlake and 520 was probably the single most short-sighted decision in U-Link, considering it would have been a huge mobility improvement for both suburban and city-lving commuters. It would have been a blockbuster station and fit well into ST’s suburban vision.

        All of the other good station choices would have required some desire for urban transit. It’s a shame Seattle didn’t get the monopoly on designing U-Link

      13. Fara,

        I would say that the US Husky Stadium and BroadwayJohn LR stations are both in dumb locations The UW one works fine for 8 football games and is too long a walk to get to UWMC versus the bus which drops one right at the Main entrance. The Broadway LR should have been between Pike/Pine and then Metro could get passengers on the LR seamlessly!

        Something is really wrong and is going to be the story with all the other LR stations in Seattle?

      14. asdf2, your comment very much reinforces my perception that the Eastside and Seattle have a lot of shared transit interests (despite what seems to have been a bit of antagonism in the past), while it’s the areas to the North and South that are going for pie-in-the-sky ideas (and unfortunately controlling the conversation)

      15. Coming from Westlake Station, the train has to go east, then curve north. Moving the Capitol Hill station south a couple blocks would mean the train would have to curve south before going back north again. Possible, but it would likely may for some sharp curves with slow speeds.

        It’s not clear that overall, Broadway and Pike is really better overall than Broadway and John. One place is better for some people, the other for others.

      16. UW Station was outside ST’s control. The UW is a higher government entity than ST (state vs regional), and it wouldn’t allow any other location on its property. The location puts it “out of the way” of UW, and serves the stadium (a moneymaker for UW) and the medical complex (prestige and source of grants), while being no worse for students than the Montlake parking lot.

        520 again comes down to priorities. It wasn’t a goal to connect 520 to Link, except maybe at UW Station (ST’s commitment to that has been lukewarm). Ergo, the Kirkland-downtown and Redmond-downtown buses would remain, or maybe get truncated at UW Station, ST didn’t care much. People transferring from an Eastside bus to 23rd/24th were too few and “local transit” to matter, in the same way that people going to Summit and 15th were too few and “local transit”. If Summit, 15th, and Montlake had a college or other large institution or their own urban centers, then they would have gotten stations.

    4. I wish I’d gone to the Capitol Hill open house. Can you say more about the walking paths and building entrances? The grocery entrance is on John Street? Is it a large supermarket or small convenience store? The picture shows an open plaza between two towers. I assume the open plaza is where closed-off Denny Way is? What else will be in the buildings?

      A small grocery store would not generate much car traffic. A large supermarket, well, Capitol Hill hardly needs one because there are three supermarkets within five blocks in three directions.

      1. Its by the station entrance at the corner of Broadway and John. The grocery store and market hall are on Broadway. This building is on Broadway between John and Denny has its parking garage entry in the middle of the site on an extension of Nagle Place up to John. The garage serves retail and residential in just this one building in 3 levels of underground parking (no motorist left without easy abundant parking apparently). The garage is accessed by Nagle Place which is supposed to be a “woonerf”, of course we know that means in Seattle (hello Bell Street joke) nevermind the traffic you always can expect going to/from a grocery store. I wouldn’t expect the market to be that big but it is part of a larger indoor market hall occupying the first floor of that main building (think Melrose Market but in a new bigger building with customer parking). All the other buildings also have parking including the standalone all 30-60% AMI affordable housing building located right over this transit hub.

  6. Hey, can I answer Sam without being accused of a career in Reality TV? He’s raising a decent point this time.

    After about 2 weeks in the San Francisco Bay area: where you’ve got a regional transit system that’s taken decades to build and is still in progress, answer is still “Depends on route, destination, and time of day. With complete knowledge of all these factors.

    Considering traffic conditions entering San Francisco itself, especially on Bay Bridge, even delayed service into SF on BART is like Warp whatever is fastest.

    Combined with 20 minute max off-peak headways, game to BART, no contest. Along BART corridor, all freeways are increasingly getting jammed bad enough for same to apply- along those corridors.

    Inside SF city limits- much the same as with KC Metro. Except with much more service, bus, streetcar, and LRT subway-surface. Closer contest than you’d think, due to fierce skill and work ethic of drivers.

    Average commute compromise- large parking lots at just about every BART station. Inside SF? Whatever transit speed, only the brave, the non-time-dependent, the over-insured dare drive a car during daylight.

    The normal-level claustrophobic will walk, except among the routes like the 1 California, where trolleybuses are essentially building elevators. Bus-and-taxi-only curb lanes prove how much parking removal can improve really horrible conditions.

    But since these lanes go back to above conditions at an idiotic 6pm, 7:01 means three packed buses per block stuck for half an hour. Over less than 20 parking spaces.

  7. I have a marketing question. Normally I’m the sort to scoff at marketing. I always think, if the product is good, people will tell their friends. But I’ve come to realize, some people might not know anyone one who takes transit.

    I have a friend from the Tri-Cities who’s parents took her to Vancouver for her birthday. I asked if she rode the sky train to which she replied, no the bus was already too expensive. It turns out, her parents dished out $130 for the three of them to get day passes for the hop-on-hop-off bus. She complained that it only had thirty minute headways and was primarily filled with old people.

    The price of a translink daypass is $9.75 a person. What could possibly induce someone to pay more for an inferior product? I did a little research and put together a little pro con list for the hoppity hop hop.
    * Price: Cost 500% more than TransLink.
    * Coverage: Only has two loops. One for down town and one for Stanley Park.
    * Headways: 30 min
    * Covers Stanely Park. The 19 simply drops you off to one side.
    * Only has stops at tourist destinations.
    * Comes with walking tours at most stops
    * Has a tourist friendly website.
    Stanley park is a regular coverage issue, but the other three points come down to presentation. They mean you don’t have to do research about where to visit, what is interesting about where you’re visiting, and how to get to where you’re visiting. By contrast, try getting a general notion of how the regular transit works. TransLink’s introductory page helpfully tells you about bikes and even etiquette, but doesn’t give you any idea about the general working of the system. Count how many links you follow before you manage to find any sort of system map.

    Now even though I’m tempted to say stupidity gets its just deserts – tourists are parted from their money – no surprise, the issue is these peoples’ opinions effects transit in our part of the state. They went to one of the most transit rich cities in North America and left with the impression that buses have thirty minute headways and are too expensive for regular use. She is far from my only friend here in Bellingham who’s first metro bus ride was here at Western.

    So here is the question. How do we up our tourism game? How can we make tourists buy in to regular transit for their visit?

    I have several answers to my own question, many of which have been discussed on this blog before.
    * Make a bigger focus on clearly announcing tourist destinations reachable from a stop.
    * Make a website for new transit user and transit users and transit users new to the area. Currently we have a lot of separate transit agencies, each with their own confusing site.
    * Put together a website for tourists. It could feature well packaged sets of destinations and routs and all the information you need to use transit to get between them.
    * Put more tourism info signs by our tourism sights, about both how to find the spots and why they’re significant (I fondly recall first learning about the gum wall when I thought a tourist asked me how to get to the dumb wall. I still don’t know why it’s significant. In fact, it looks a little gross)
    * proper ORCA day passes
    Some potential problems with the website ideas is who builds and hosts it and how do we insure it’s well linked and at the top of search results and in those travel books. I actually stumbled upon this good start after writing everything above this. Even with google bubbling me, all the top results for “tour seattle”, including several government sights, where all trying to show you expensive non-transit options. The top result for “how to get around seattle” looks great, till you follow some links. The second result is okish, if you’re intrigued by the aesthetic of Windows 8 meets Netscape Navigator. Basically you wouldn’t think to tour Seattle on proper transit unless you already read this blog.

    How do we change this?

    1. Excellent question. I think you are on the right track. I think the city needs to do more. Just looking at the city web site, it pretty much ends once they’ve gotten you to downtown. You take the train from SeaTac and then it “whisks” you to downtown. Great, now what? Pike Place is easy, but maybe you want to check out Ballard — it’s a long walk, and there is no help from the city.

      As far your friend’s experience, I’ve actually run across the opposite. I met someone who was staying close to the Seattle Center and he walked from downtown to there (carrying or dragging his luggage). He complained that the train didn’t go there. I asked him if he considered the monorail and he said he had never heard of it. I think he didn’t want to deal with our buses either.

      I see a couple problems. One is that our bus system is extremely complicated. This is part of the reason that visitors tend to stay on trains. Vancouver deserves some credit for trying to get people on a scaled down, tourist friendly set of buses, but it is ridiculous that they didn’t tie it into the train system. If we simplified our bus routes, then I think people would be more eager to take them.

      But the biggest problem is lack of information. You can download Metro maps or Sound Transit maps or just check Google maps for getting from one place to another. I think people will generally try the latter. But Google Maps isn’t perfect — it doesn’t even recognize the monorail. It wouldn’t be too hard for the city (or a volunteer) to produce a “My Maps” (or similar) map that does exactly this. Have little icons for popular destinations (all with hyperlink popups describing the spot) along with the bus routes (again, with other information). That way you could look at Pike Place to the Seattle Center and realize that the monorail goes right there. From there you could take a bus to old Ballard, and from there to the locks. I personally would really like this.

      1. That’s an interesting map, but I think most tourists would be overwhelmed by it. Maybe that just emphasizes my point (our bus routes are just too complicated).

        I also think it puts too much emphasis on the bus routes, and not destinations. I personally was thinking of a more interactive map (not a PDF). It would have different layers. One would be tourist spots (Space Needle, Pioneer Square, Fremont Troll, etc.). These would have little symbols. Having another layer showing the buses/train, all on a regular map background. This could be done on Google Map, but you would want it to be vendor neutral. I believe you can do that, just as some people combine several map layers (like this one — http://www.mappingsupport.com/p/gmap4.php). That way a user could choose the particular maps and zoom in and out. So, for example, if you saw a symbol for the Space Needle, you might zoom in on the neighborhood (using satellite view or a street map) and then figure out that the neighborhood next to it is worth wandering around. Then click the transit layer and figure out how to get there.

      2. It wasn’t intended to be a tourist map. If it was, it would look more like this. It was designed to be an overview of the frequent transit network in Seattle that people could print at home.

        Call me old-school but I think paper maps are still important, especially for tourists, some who might not have access to the internet on arrival. There are racks in the airport, at attractions, and hotels. The tourist maps in Seattle are terrible at showing transit options, while the official San Francisco tourist map doubles as a complete city transit map.

        All of that information is already available in Google maps. The tourist spots would need to be curated though. You can turn on a transit layer which will show all the transit routes in a city (if data is available; it is for Seattle) but the way Google shows bus routes is very unhelpful aside from letting you know it exists. Is it peak only or all day? Frequent or infrequent? Dare I say Metro’s official maps do a better job at that than Google. The only way to know is to get point-to-point directions, which kinda defeats the point of a map for serendipitous explorers.

        And honestly, how many people are going to turn on the transit layer if it’s off by default? What’s encouraging them to do so? The transit has to be a key feature because the problem here is awareness and discoverability.

        I don’t mean to say that such interactive maps are not useful. It’s just that I’m not impressed with the maps I’ve seen. I might even take a shot at making one myself.

      3. @Oran — That is exactly what I’m talking about. I would love to have that map if and when I visit London (I might bookmark it right now). As for paper versus electronic, I hear you. I go back and forth. When I am on a computer, I hate pdf. But I still like to print out a map and stick it in my pocket. So, yes, having both is really nice.

        As for layers, some work would have to be done. You start with symbols like the ones in the map you linked to. Put that on a Google/Bing/Yahoo map and you are half way done. But I agree, more info about the transit options is useful. But that is why the interactive nature of an electronic map is handy. You should be able to click on two spots and figure out a transit plan that will show everything you mentioned. You can do it right now, but it takes a lot of work (Google is much more geared towards a particular time, rather than “in general”).

    2. On the Translink website it is only two clicks to get to the system map, the downtown map or the frequent transit network, but you need to know where to click. This could be made simpler. And the fares page could definitely be made simpler. The opening page ought to explain the basics of the zone system and the various types of fare media.

      The Vancouver Trolley that these tourists found themselves on is run by a private company and is strictly for tourists. No local would dream of going on it. The buses have been done up like streetcars, but they have loud diesel engines and large truck tires. The overall effect is fakey and tragic. Some tourist traps have some value, and I will acknowledge that the trip through Stanley Park is worth something, but tourists have to venture into the tourist traps with their eyes open.

  8. Hmm, seems some of my links have been lost. A preview feature might have been nice.

  9. A more productive fantasy transit planning might be:

    How many bus routes could be served by double-talls?

  10. Since it’s an open thread – Why are pedestrian sidewalks so bad around freeways? Pedestrian access and sidewalks (which is already an afterthought basically everywhere), are much worse around freeways. Roads near freeways are the most common to not have sidewalks, or have the dreaded incomplete three-sides-of-a-square crosswalk pattern, so if you need to cross the road without the crosswalk, you have to jaywalk or cross three roads (even the road adjacent to the Federal Way transit center is like this!).

    1. I guess because freeways are a car-first, ped/bike-second environment, even more so than any other type of corridor?

      I’ve had to jaywalk many times crossing I-5 on my way to my bus in Smokey Point, mostly because of the pedestrian signals making me wait several cycles for no reason at all.

      1. No sidewalk on the north side of the Denny I-5 crossing, nevermind the lack of east-west pedestrian crossings north of it for miles. And this among the most urban areas of Seattle. Of course this sidewalk on one side of the overpass is typical too. Mindboggling how utterly clueless the freeway planners and designers were especially 50 years ago.

    2. As you said, it’s an afterthought. It’s also on James Street under I-5, where there are three crosswalks but not a south one.

    3. This is the sort of thing that I think is best explained by history. Before mass-motorization pedestrian access was the lifeblood of every business. After mass-motorization car access was the lifeblood to most, and freeways were largely built in response to mass-motorization. So the areas around freeway ramps were designed after the middle class had adopted cars, at a time when new-growth suburbs were highly desirable, and were designed by engineers — members of a professional class that could live where they wanted and get around how they wanted. Engineers like to think they react to data, but design is about vision as much as anything, and these were people designing roads they’d drive on but never walk on — so they’d envision driving the junction but not walking it.

      Of course there were other aspects to this. We built a lot of freeways all at once without a whole lot of experience at them, only models and theories of their operation. Simple models show that junctions involving merges (cloverleafs, roundabouts) tend to be a lot more efficient than those where people wait to take turns going through (stop signs, stop lights, rail switches). Mythbusters actually ran a test of roundabouts vs. stop signs… and just like the models, their test didn’t include pedestrians at all! Designs motivated by a desire to move more cars, influenced by models of traffic flow that didn’t include pedestrians at all, or at best considered how pedestrians affected vehicle flow, were never going to account well for walking. Pedestrians can’t merge with car traffic, we have to take turns — that screws up the model! With experience we’ve found that even half-decent pedestrian accommodations make road projects that look simple and elegant under the theory turn complex and expensive. The early models also didn’t really account for the weaknesses of human judgment, and we didn’t understand all the ways that road design would influence behavior. So, for instance, we built a lot of cloverleaf interchanges because they were the simplest and most repeatable all-merge type of interchange, only to find that they were really dangerous. At the time you could have hardly found a safety nut to argue against classic cloverleafs, and today you can hardly find a motor-head to argue in favor of them. But maybe the biggest issue is land use. A lot of pedestrian-indifferent interchanges were built in rural areas at the junction of an old highway with no sidewalk and a new freeway with no sidewalk, at a place hardly anyone used to walk. But then if a gas station and a hotel and some restaurants popped up near the interchange, now the high schoolers living in the nearby town that work the desks have to get across the interchange every day, when they never had to do that before. Or if urban sprawl encompassed the area, now the interchange would be in the way of a lot more commute and errand trips. European interchanges and junctions are often just as bad, but with tighter land-use control they didn’t build around them as much, and with slower growth in the auto age their cities didn’t sprawl as much along freeways. I haven’t spent a ton of time in Europe, but as a runner I’m often on foot trying to cover distance, not go places, so I see a good deal of that.

      A lot of arterial intersections in and around Seattle have incomplete sets of crosswalks, too; I bet the current layouts of most of these intersections were designed after 1950… and they’re still being designed today. Experience has taught us a lot about what we care to measure, and led us to refine the models and theories. We do care about people dying, at least a little, and we still care about moving cars, a lot. We’re willing to sacrifice pedestrian convenience for safety and vehicle throughput and we have a lot of tools to do it, some of which involve missing crosswalks.

  11. Does the Green Lake Park and Ride really need all of its 411 spaces for free parking? In view of the upcoming improved and much more frequent transit service to the area, that seems a bit excessive. Since this is the crossroads of many routes, a real transit center with bays and such seems a much better use of some of the space, and coul also be used for layover/turnaround space so buses like the 542 doesn’t have to drive around in circles to find a layover space. When Roosevelt Link starts, having a real transit center at that location would be even more useful.

    1. The P&R utilization was 102% in 2014. Why would you want to reduce its capacity?

      Maybe it would be better to see how the upcoming changes in the network affect the usage and make changes if it drops off. It probably also makes sense to re-evaluate around the time that Roosevelt Station will open.

      1. Why: to encourage more riders to leave their car at home and use public transit exclusively when better and more frequent service will happen.

      2. But will they respond to that? I would think many would just drive to their ultimate destination if they can’t find a parking space in the P&R.

      3. Part of the problem now is that express buses serve it well, but local buses don’t. For example, there is no bus from Phinney Ridge. This means that someone who lives around there, but is headed to, say, Redmond, is going to want to drive to that park and ride and take the bus. Otherwise, he or she is probably just going to drive.

        That might change once Link gets to Roosevelt. More buses can funnel people that way. I do think it makes sense to charge to park there, though, especially since it is so full so often.

    2. Green Lake P&R doesn’t bother me all that much, primarily because there really isn’t much else that land underneath a freeway is good for. Nobody would want to locate a home or business there and at least the P&R generates foot traffic through the area that makes it something other than a place for crime and homeless camps. For this alone, I don’t see a good reason to ever get rid of it – if people in Maple Leaf 5 years from now want to drive there, walk a couple blocks to Roosevelt Station, and ride the train downtown, so be it.

      Green Lake P&R also makes a good carpool spot for hiking and skiing trips on weekends. Enough so that the P&R is often as much as half full on weekends, even though the only bus serving it is the slow-as-molasses #48.

  12. Anybody going to that WSF open house in Anacortes Wednesday? I’ve got a last-minute schedule conflict so might bow out…

    1. I’d love to, but I don’t think I can get enough time off to do the trip.

  13. Brenda has been relaunched and has left the station on her way to Brooklyn Station. She is a real hard worker.

    But does anyone know when Pamela is expected to arrive at Roosevelt Station? They appear to have her tuned up and humming away too. I know she has had a couple of 80 foot days lately, but I haven’t heard an estimated arrival date yet.

    Can’t wait for U-Link and NG-Link to open. They will completely change transit in Seattle. Completely change the transit debate.

  14. Can someone explain to me how its taken 7 years for University Link to dig and outfit the tunnel between the Paramount Theater and Husky Stadium and somehow the giant Bertha tunnel was supposed to be open to traffic later this year (obviously that’s not happening) but how could this waterfront tunnel boondoogle supposed to only take what 2-3 years to open (if it hadn’t gotten stuck) vs 7 years to open for ULink?!?!?!?

    Who knows maybe it will take Bertha 7 years but I’m really curious how this tunnel project was supposed to be built so fast?

  15. In the US, large grocery stores (not convenience stores) without parking are pretty rare, except in Manhattan. I can think of maybe a couple in the center of Chicago, though even there some of the grocery stores have parking. In San Francisco, there’s a fancy superette sized grocery store in the Mission District without parking. But most of the groceries in San Francisco from Trader Joes size on up have a parking lot, at least one that they share (that being the case for the Trader Joes South of Market). I wish it were otherwise, but this seems to be the case.

    1. The Kress IGA in downtown Seattle is an example too. If there is any place where a supermarket without parking would work the heart of Capitol Hill is it.

      But… this isn’t about whether a supermarket/grocery/markethall should have parking or not, its about whether its wise to locate a significant retailer with customer parking and all the intense automobile congestion that comes with it right on top of and into a very busy transit station where most of the curb space will be loading buses and streetcars and throngs of pedestrians crossing the street and walking on the sidewalk. The busiest time for a market is in the evening after work right in the heart of the evening rush hour. The north-south woonerf for pedestrian access to the station is also the vehicular access point to the garage.

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