The best place for light rail? Federal Way thinks so.
The best place for light rail? Federal Way thinks so.
  • Federal Way didn’t take the advice of yours truly, recommending an I-5 alignment for Link instead of SR 99. Apparently avoiding nebulous ‘impacts’ is worth serving fewer people, with harder to access stations, in halved or nonexistent walksheds, in perpetuity. We need to figure out a way to organize for better outcomes in the suburban subareas. (Federal Way Mirror)
  • Bedroom counties: Only 7% of King County residents commute outside the county, compared to 40% for Snohomish County and 29% for Pierce. (The Urbanist)
  • Our hot housing market: the average Seattle home sells within just 9 days. (Curbed)
  • New ferry: WSDOT’s  M/V Samish is now plying the waters of the San Juans. (Seattle Times, $)
  • Remember LEAP Transit, the new techie bus in San Francisco with $6 fares and $7 cold-pressed juice and luxury seats? It’s been shut down, at least temporarily, for operating without the proper permits. (SFGate)
  • The right tool for the job: Light rail is our best bet, says former state Representative (and Republican) Bill Finkbeiner. (Seattle Times, $)
  • Reclaiming space: 5th Avenue may get a protected bike lane from Mercer to Stewart, in the westernmost lane. Cars would in turn be allowed to park in the unused space underneath the monorail supports. (Seattle Times version ($), and Seattle Bike Blog version.)

REMINDER: please join us for our meetup and happy hour on Friday at the Impact HUB from 5:30-7:30. Talk with Metro planners about the ULink Restructure, meet the STB bloggers, and have a beer or two! The ImpactHUB portion is all ages, and drinks at Good Bar afterward are 21+.

This is an open thread.

91 Replies to “News Roundup: Impacts”

    1. Not a streetcar – he supports dedicated lanes, like Link on MLK. I think we could do a lot with just running buses in those dedicated lanes, but his plans are still much, much better than the present.

      1. The big question– does this hurt or help ST3?

        If you are a Ballard to U District LRT fan, this would probably put an end to that dream. On the other hand, it may make Seattle politicians take a stand/do something.

      2. Really? I don’t think it impacts ST3 at all. For one, this’s just two city council candidates who haven’t even gotten elected. For another, they’re talking about serving whatever neighborhoods ST doesn’t; they’ll take into account ST plans once (if) they draw up a more concrete map. For a third, Ballard to U-District is one of the corridors where underground rail will perform best in comparison to any surface alternatives.

      3. Their projections of $10-15m cost per mile are laughable. First Hill streetcar is clocking in at over $50m per mile, and that’s with no bells and whistles like traffic signal pre-emption.

      4. I agree with RDPence. I sure wish these candidates would do their homework before spouting out. Not to suggest that he is terrible (he might be just fine) but to come out and basically say “Hey, I have an idea — let’s run some fast, cheap rail to Ballard — no one has thought of that” is really ignorant.

        There are lots of cheap things the city could do to make things better (like reform the zoning laws) but those are just simple trade-offs (sorry — someone might park next to your spot on the street). But mass transit is like food. You can make it fast, cheap or good, but you can’t have all three. [Not to say that Sound Transit is without its flaws — a knowledgeable candidate could certainly run on that — but this candidate doesn’t sound very knowledgeable.]

      5. @RossB – “fast, cheap or good” — we learned that in design/construction you could pick any two, but you would never get all three!

    2. I’m inclined to like John Roderick a lot more than Tim Burgess. But the notion that 100 miles of rail of any sort is just a billion dollars away is eerily reminiscent of the 90’s, when the Monorail Authority and pre-2002 shakeup Sound Transit were massively and unrealistically overpromising what they could deliver and when they could deliver it given their budgets. I don’t think it’s in Seattle’s interest to return to those days. If Roderick wants transit community support, he should start getting really specific really fast about how he thinks we can do this for orders of magnitude less than it costs ST.

      1. Or he should follow ST’s lead and massively overpromise in order to get legislation approved, then reorganize the project with a more realistic budget and timetable so he can claim it’s all “under budget and ahead of schedule” when it’s finally finished! Because that strategy has clearly worked.

      2. Wasn’t rapid ride’s capital budget something like $200 million? How many miles was that?

      3. $192 million for rapid ride (had to infer from $107.3 m being 56%), in fact:

        And if you investigate the data you’d see that little of that was spent on actual road-way improvements, it was mostly vehicles, with the rest being signalling, passenger facilities, etc. Stuff you would need for a rail line in addition to laying the actual rail and running the overhead wire.

    3. This isn’t a plan, it’s just nostalgic bullshit. Take the lanes, but take them for ETB’s.

  1. New ferry: WSDOT’s M/V Samish is now plying the waters of the San Juans.

    Not quite.
    While the Samish was christened last week, she won’t go into service until the start of the summer sailing season on Sunday, June 14th.

  2. Anyone noticing an odd number of buses showing “To Terminal” on their headboards (and “TRM” on the backboards) lately?

    1. Seems to be more TRMs at the Northgate TC. If Prop 1 money is adding extra runs, those runs have to staffed. I wonder if we are seeing more new hire training.

  3. Re Federal Way, “Apparently avoiding nebulous ‘impacts’ is worth serving fewer people”.

    I’m more cynical than Zach, I suppose. Other than the students at Highline, and maybe the local Democrats, there seems to be a consensus in Federal Way about Light Rail. It says (i) yes, we want Light Rail, but (ii) please put it where I’m not so that I’m not ‘impacted’.

    1. Agree! Maybe FedWay is looking north to Snohomish County. You know, monkey see, monkey do.
      How many body blows to ridership can Link absorb?

    2. How about a route down 516 to sr 167?
      Take the floodplain to Tacoma through Auburn, Sumner, and Puyallap.

      1. And that line would remain active until mt rainier blows her top off.

    3. In my opinion, light rail in a suburb that size just needs a good terminus where buses can feed into it. In that regard, I think the freeway is the best choice. Way more people live west of there (in Kent Valley) than east. Way more people overall live within busing distance than walking distance. The only way you are going to have a decent stop is if the buses feed it, and feed it well.

      To make matters more interesting, you have the big conundrum whereby the buses are actually faster most of the day to where most of the people want to go (downtown Seattle). So, at 11:00 AM, lots more people would rather take an express bus over a slow train. At rush hour it is a bit closer, but the train is not necessarily a winner (especially if the folks in charge change the HOV 2 to HOV 3). What to do, then with all these buses headed downtown on I-5. The simple answer is to have them stop off at a freeway station (Mountlake Terrace style) before continuing the rest of their journey. That will pay dividends to those who want to go to the airport, or otherwise connect to the rest of the route (Angle Lake, Tukwila, or Rainier Valley). For those who are going the other direction — Tacoma — life if great. Now you have a very quick way to get to the city of destiny (the freeway terminus station become a major transit hub).

      If light rail actually goes all the way to Tacoma, then running it down 99 is the right thing to do. But if light rail ends where it should end (in the southern suburbs) then a freeway terminus is the way to go.

    1. We should be looking at the same things as we add new skyscrapers in Downtown Seattle.

      1. I think that really only works in nyc. No way a devisive would pay an extra 220M for the right to build. The list of skyscrapers in SEA worth that much is pretty short. Let alone as an added cost. And real transit improvements do cost a lot

    1. It’s not light rail, it’s streetcar. Not grade-separated, and absurdly low cost (probably fabricated cost #s.)

      1. $10 mil/mile. That’s about 1/3 the cost per mile of FHSC. Can you just anchor the rails directly to the asphalt pavement?

      2. I wonder if it’s possible to save by buying in bulk? If we get Costco-scale rail, rather than the Whole Foods-style FHSC, we could make it work, right?

  4. Thank you Federal Way mayor and city council. I didn’t need another reason to vote against ST3, but you’re making this a ridiculously easy decision.

  5. If they are going to built protected bike lanes on 5th, then the bike lanes on 4th need to go away, and the police who ticket jaywalkers need to enforce the use of bike lanes when they see bikers riding in auto/bus traffic. I don’t mind building them, but using them should no longer just be optional.

    1. Seattle has no state law requiring cyclists to use bike lanes on any street. And that’s good, because where those laws exist they’re often used against cyclists reasonably (and legally, as such laws are written), avoiding a variety of unsafe conditions in the bike lanes or preparing to make turns.

      1. (Not, “Seattle has no state law” — these sorts of laws are almost always state laws, and Washington has no such law.)

      2. True. There’s no way for me to get to my building without deviating from the bike lane at least a little bit. That’s common sense but I’d rather not leave it to a cop’s interpretation

      3. I don’t think it needs to be so black and white. Obviously where there are no bike lanes, you have no option. But downtown, where there are plenty of bike lanes (and now new protected ones) they should be forced to use them whenever possible.

        You can enforce it by ticketing bikers for holding up auto traffic, as you would a slow driver on a highway.

      4. A city street isn’t a highway, and you can’t ticket anyone, no matter the number of wheels, for driving slowly on a city street. That’s how we end up with horse carts and pedal pubs, both of which are far worse traffic annoyances than any bicyclist.

      5. Bike lanes anywhere you might want to go, as long as it’s on the east side of 2nd Avenue between Yesler and Pike. I mean, really, now:

        – There are practically no bike lanes running east-west anywhere in downtown or Belltown (also true in large parts of Seattle generally).
        – South of about Blanchard (where the 7th Ave bike lane ends into a construction zone, though its permanent extent is not much greater) there are no southbound bike lanes anywhere east of 2nd Ave.
        – North of Pike (where the 2nd Ave Cycletrack ends), northbound bike lanes are similarly thin on the ground. Literally no downtown street except Western Ave has a northbound bike lane in the blocks between Pike and Olive; 8th picks up there, then runs out at Westlake; 7th picks up at Westlake; 6th effectively has no bike lane due to construction.
        – The problem of how to ride into the CBD from I-90 or anywhere in south Seattle could fill an entire blog post. There is no great answer, certainly none that involves a lot of bike lanes.

        These aren’t small gaps in the bike network, these are gaping holes. Some might be smaller by 2020 or so; others will still remain. Until then, the complaints department when it comes to people blocking traffic on bikes is closed.

      6. David, where do you see those outside of the stadium area? Not that often.

      7. Al, you continue to ignore the fact that where they do exist they are routinely ignored. If the bikers aren’t going to use them, then what is the point?

      8. PI, when you see someone riding outside of the lanes on 4th you have no idea why they’re there. If you have to make a right turn off of 4th you have to start getting over blocks in advance, just like you would if you were driving. If you have to access a business on the right side of 4th the same applies. And even if you’re just riding through, you really want to be on the right side of the road once you get north of the library. It’s hard to stress that enough to someone that doesn’t actually do it and doesn’t know what a shitshow the left lane is north of the library, and because of that it’s perfectly reasonable to get right a few blocks before the bike lane ends. If you enter 4th just a few blocks before the bike lane ends there’s no point going all the way left, just to move all the way right again. Maybe you’d prefer we all use crosswalks to make these lane changes and turns (I do that sometimes) but in the absence of official support or direction it’s hard to blame cyclists for riding how they’ve been trained to ride (largely in a vehicular mode) and choosing lanes according to their own interests. Given the general conditions on 4th it would be stupid to expect to see everyone riding in the bike lane.

        Outside of 4th, I’m not exactly sure what you’re seeing. A few people taking the lane on 2nd? They’re mostly keeping up with traffic. People riding on streets without bike lanes? For the most part their trips can’t be accomplished within bike lanes at all; and often even where using a street with a bike lane is possible it requires extra distance and climbing. People riding outside of crappy bike lanes? I ride outside the bike lane when the street is tilted downhill and the bike lane is in the door zone, because I enjoy living. That’s especially true on, say, 8th Ave, where the bike lane is chronically half-blocked by parked cars — point is, usually there’s a good reason people ride outside the bike lane, and it’s usually one that trumps your distaste for seeing spandex through your windshield.

    2. Also the bike lanes on 4th are entirely south of the location of the proposed stuff on 5th.

      If you read an article about bike lanes on 5th Ave north of Stewart, and your first reaction is that bike lanes on 4th Ave should be removed because you don’t realize that their locations don’t overlap for even a block, you’re not just “possibly”, but certainly ignorant about cycling in Seattle, to the point that you’re unqualified to comment.

      1. It doesn’t really matter where they are on 4th, no one uses them anyways. So yes, they should be removed.

        But your authoritarian stance on the subject is duly noted.

      2. Also, it would make sense to eventually continue them along 5th ave, so you eventually have one long thoroughfare higher on the slope than 2nd. At which point, the 4th ave lanes would become redundant.

      3. No one uses the bike lanes on 4th? That’s a pretty bold statement, and demonstrably false.

      4. I’d be all for bike lanes on 5th extending down to Pioneer Square, but I don’t think that’s likely to happen anytime soon. The protected bike lanes being built on 5th make sense because of the placement of the monorail. South of Westlake Center, removing a traffic lane to build a protected bikeway would probably be quite a bit more complicated. It seems to me that keeping the northbound bike lane on 4th, and providing a convenient way to transition over to 5th north of Westlake, would be the best solution, at least in the short term.

      5. A bit hyperbolic, I’ll admit, but the point was that there are many bikers who choose to use the general purpose lanes of 3rd and 4th when they could (And should) be using the bike lanes.

        Same goes for the occasional bike riders who use the sidewalks.

      6. As someone who drives Pacific Street to Fremont (a lot) I’ll admit my first thought when I see a biker along there is “Hey, why don’t you use the Burke Gilman — it’s right there”. Then I look at my speedometer and realize this guy (or gal) is keeping up with traffic just fine. That is the thing, either the biker is about to turn, or is moving really fast. Oh, to be young again — I remember keeping up with traffic on Nickerson back when it was four lanes the entire way. Anyway, my point is that folks that avoid the bike lanes do so for a good reason — either they need to go on that street or the bike lanes are too slow (meaning they can keep up with automobile traffic just fine, thank you very much).

        I am more annoyed with the drivers who take a left on a street like 36th (look it up) on a nice sunny day. This means they are trying to turn across the oncoming car traffic AND cut across bidirectional bike traffic. Ugh. There are a lot of better alternatives (Stone Way and under I-5) but God forbid you drive a little bit out of your way to make a much safer and much more traffic friendly left turn. Oh, I know, your car might get tired.

    3. And the reason for this complete change in the law is what exactly, other than your personal convenience? Bikes travel at all kinds of different speeds. Those of us who are too slow to keep up with traffic need separated lanes (which, oddly, your typical UPS or Fedex truck thinks is just a really neat parking space) while those who can keep up with downtown traffic don’t. There are many, many reasons to encourage cycling (public health, the fact that bikes take up less space and consume no fossil fuels, etc.).

      The Fifth Avenue proposal comes out of some dangerous situations the Monorail stanchions have presented for 50 years (my wife was hit by a car making an illegal turn from behind one about 25 years ago). Your proposal is unsupported.

      1. Yeah converting that strange single lane on the right side of the columns on 5th Ave. into a bike or pedestrian space makes so much sense I’m shocked it hasn’t been done yet. As a driver, it’s phenomenally confusing (I’ve made some illegal right turns there myself.)

      2. Yeah, that thing is a mess. It’s funny to read the comments on that article — no one seems to know if it is legal to change lanes under the monorail. I thought it was illegal and my wife (while in the passenger seat) said “its OK, don’t worry about it” — and I grew up in this town!

        That being said, making it bike friendly is not easy. The biggest problem are the driveways. Getting to them or getting from them means going across bike lanes, which is not a great thing (especially if the bike lanes are bi-directional).

      3. @Ross: I looked at Street View and counted driveways a couple days ago… there are actually none north of Blanchard, but several south of it. For those, I tend to think if traffic turning in and out is channeled properly in the space under the monorail posts (using actual curbs — maybe the bikeway ought to be raised to sidewalk level there) that should force drivers to slow down to where it’s obvious they’re crossing two-way bike traffic before the nose of their cars reach the path.

      4. Yeah, I agree, I was thinking the same thing.

        I think there are a few more driveways than that though, but most have alternatives. For example, the parking lot just south of Bell can be accessed via Bell (or the alley). Further south, though, some of the lots lack other entrances (for example, the King’s Inn). I actually used to work right next door to there on the second floor of what is now Palace Ballroom. One would think it is only a matter of time before those buildings get replaced, but I’m not sure what that buys us (working with the new owners to have cars enter via the alley or side street, maybe). Personally, I would try and buy out some of the owners (and close their driveways) but that might get pricey.

        I have no idea if it is plausible, but I could also see adding mid-block crosswalks, along with detectors in the street. This means adding a traffic light to the turn areas (where you turn into the driveway and exit). A bit overkill, to be sure, but not that much different than hiring a cop to get people out of church on Sunday (which happens every week). I could imagine some of the bigger places would want this and chip in for it

        Ultimately, I doubt all that will be done. I think in general a bike lane makes sense, but I’m not sold on a bidirectional bike lane. Anyway, I think it is tricky and I don’t have a great answer, but maybe if we can just get drivers to drive really slow from the driveway to the area underneath the monorail (as you suggest) that will be fine.

    4. And what’s with all these cars with multiple people in them not solely using the HOV lanes? What’s the point?I see whole families driving in the right hand lane of I-5 sometimes. Rip them all out!

  6. When Weyerhaeuser, one of Federal Way’s top employers, left, there really was a direct quote about transit access being a big selling point of the new location in Pioneer Square. I guess Federal Way is content with being a park-and-ride suburb instead of a place where people work.

  7. I hate this “ULink is 9 months early” talking point. In 1996, we were told ULink would open in 2006. It’s ten f#$king years late, not 9 months early.

    1. You know, it’s probably been said a million times, but let’s do it again. U-Link is a completely different project than the one that sent ST off the rails. It’s a two-station, 3-mile subway that crosses the ship canal at Montlake Cut.

      In 1999, the project was a 4-station, 4.5-mile subway that crossed under Portage Bay and went up the west side of campus. That project was $1 billion over budget, and was scrapped in 2001. ST re-did its EIS and came up with something it could afford: U-Link. Different scope, different schedule, different budget. Since that decision was made a decade ago, the revised project is in fact under its budget and ahead of its schedule.

      We can all agree ST screwed up the initial project. This is not that project. GIve them due props for making the most of their mulligan.

      1. We can all agree ST screwed up the initial project. This is not that project.

        That is the easiest way out I’ve ever heard.

      2. Oh, c’mon. You want to let a few facts get in the way of a good (if very old) rant?

      3. Let’s compromise.

        Sound Transit has dutifully brought a very poorly designed and functionally substandard project in slightly early and slightly under budget.

        We’re all very proud.

      4. It only has two stops.

        The first is so woefully inadequate for its purported coverage area that it has rendered an effective multimodal restructuring of the corollary transit services that might increase its utility all but impossible.

        The second is a 7-minute fucking skywalk from anywhere.

      5. What poor design choices does U-Link have? Let me count a few off the top of my head:

        * Too few stops. This is the biggest problem. There are multiple miles of good urban development with a subway line running under it… inaccessible. Look at how the Capitol Hill restructure has had to bend and twist routes to send them by the station, and think how that could’ve been prevented by one or two more stations. Look also at the 520 restructure problems stemming in large part from the absence of a 520 transfer station.

        * No level spots to add more stops later.

        * Poor siting of and access from UW Station. The entrance quite possibly has the worst possible design at the worst possible location that’s not on an island. This’s the other cause of the 520 restructure problems – if there was an entrance on each side of Pacific Street, things would be much better.

        * Too-large stations.

      6. No offense d. p., but that is the least of our problems. OK, to be fair, they should have used a tunnel underneath there to connect to the existing tunnel so that folks can easily get to campus or the hospital. But a minor inconvenience compared to the other failures. We didn’t add more stations on Capitol Hill, because, well, we ran out of money. Likewise, the First Hill station was skipped because we were afraid of an engineering failure (and cost overruns). I can live with that. Sometimes you have to throw a few things overboard to save the ship.

        But no 520 station? There is no excuses for that. All you need is a flat spot, and we can add the station later (complete with a gigantic lobby and such). But there is no flat spot. There was no consideration, whatsoever, about the highway that just so happens to cross right over the subway. To make matters more amusing, the freeway at that point is actually below the street surface there as well. So now someone riding a bus like the 255 (from Kirkland) has to walk up from the freeway (no elevator) then cross the bridge, then go down to Link before taking a train anywhere. Lovely. By the way, the 255 is one of the buses still slated to run in the tunnel during this transitional period. How is that for crazy. I just love the schematic. This bus runs for 520, crosses over our new, multi-billion dollar light rail line, then (without making any additional stops) heads right into the very tunnel that the train came out of. Someone might rightly ask “Hey, why doesn’t the bus just let people off there, and have people take the train, then go on and serve some other area (like South Lake Union) before heading back”.

        The only answer Sound Transit can come up with is basically “Wow, we never thought of that!”.

      7. “Obvs” on all points.

        But I still think the bassacktitface visible manifestation of UW station access is the ultimate symbol of the depths of the prevailing ignorance at Sound Transit.

        That anyone could view a transit nexus whose primary egress route requires ascending from 4 levels underground to more than 30 feet in the air, then being funneled into a long and unprotected skyway, then still being dropped far from any and all destinations and connection points — as William says, rendering one of only two “urban” stops on our $2 billion “urban” line an effective island — and think “this is the best that we can do; let us proceed with pride!”, should be galling to the advocates charged with ensuring that the same individuals are handed $50 billion more of our money and the responsibility to fix all of our future mobility problems.

      8. Much of the problem lies with the UW. While they certainly care about their students and football fans riding Link to classes and football games, their interest in Link as a transportation medium ends their. To the UW, the interests of people trying to get to downtown or Capitol Hill from Redmond, Kirkland, Sand Point, or Wedgwood is worth absolutely nothing.

        This would not be such a big deal if Sound Transit had the leverage it needed to force the UW into accepting a better design for the overall transit network, but the reality is they did not. With the UW being a public institution, Sound Transit lacked the authority to take any land from them via eminent domain, and with the UW being a must-serve institution, Sound Transit could not make a credible threat to simply bypass the university altogether if they didn’t get the station location they wanted. The result was that the UW essentially had the power to dictate the station location and Sound Transit could either accept the location that the UW was willing to offer them or not build Link at all. If you think about it solely from the perspective of the UW, the chosen location makes a lot of sense. It avoids impacts to the Triangle Garage and the rest of campus during construction. It provides front-door service to the football games, which generate huge crowds and horrible traffic. And it provides a walk to campus that, while a bit much for transfers, is reasonable for able-bodied students getting to class. The fact that the location is sub-optimal for transfers, the UW really doesn’t care because it is not their people who would be making such transfers..

        So, taking the station location and UW’s selfish refusal to allow a transit center on its parking lot, the question is what should Sound Transit do. Spending a couple hundred million dollars to add another station next to the freeway, just 1/3 mile south of the Husky Station (and bloat travel times to/from all places to the north) is not the right answer. Montlake Blvd. between 520 and Pacific St. isn’t that bad, and Montlake Bridge doesn’t open that frequently to justify that drastic of a solution. There’s also the question of if a 520 Link Station existed, what 520 buses would do after dropping their passengers off. Continuing on downtown would be a complete waste of service-hours, yet laying over turning around would require yet more very expensive infrastructure (essentially, a full-scale Montlake lid to house a transit center and layover space). So the total marginal cost of having a bus->Link connection at 520 might amount to as much as half a billion dollars.

        Taking into account WSDOT’s plans for the Montlake area, which it will eventually fund with its own money, the most obvious solution is to basically do what alternative 1 tried to do – send 520 buses down the Montlake exit and drop off passengers at Pacific St. Ideal – no, but still much better than continuing to fight the traffic on I-5 and downtown streets.

        Even though alternative 1’s 520 restructure failed this go-around, I’m sure it will eventually come back. Right now, there is natural skepticism towards Link and WSDOT’s new Montlake exit ramp, neither or which has opened yet. While traffic on downtown streets is bad, at least people know what to expect, and there’s a certain comfort in what’s known. There’s also the fact that the feedback process is strongly biased towards existing riders, which severely under-represents the people trying to get between the Eastside and any Seattle destination other than downtown. In 2021, Link Transfers will be used not only to go downtown, but also to go north to Roosevelt, Northgate, and beyond. If nothing else, WSDOT’s planned closure of the Montlake Freeway Station is going to have to force the issue. Sending buses down the chronically-congested eastbound Montlake exit ramp to serve a stop on the lid – on top of whatever congestion the bus would face on I-5 and downtown streets would be terrible, and skipping Montlake altogether to force all off-peak Eastside->U-district riders to detour all the way to Westlake Station downtown would be even worse – you’d be talking about a full 30-45 minutes added to a lot of people’s commutes.

      9. I’m sorry, but I’m sick and tired of that explanation.

        “We’re spending $2 billion of the public’s money here. We refuse to do a shitty job with it.”

        That’s the kind of political stalwartness that congeals public support, that forces the intransigent oppositional fiefdoms to come to the negotiating table, lest they reveal themselves as irresponsible stewards of the public trust.

        By contrast, Sound Transit’s “we’ll just design some crap and hope no one notices” approach is not about realpolitik, but about cowardice and entitlement and plodding bureaucracy and not especially caring how your project comes out. When ST3 goes down in flames, it will be Sound Transit’s ineffectiveness with its piles of money and its blown once-per-lifetime mobility opportunities that the public will be recalling.

      10. While the design and position of the Montlake Station is not ideal, it’s not the complete waste of $2 billion you make it out to be. It will still be a whole lot easier to get between the UW, Capitol Hill, and downtown after the station opens than before.

        Sometimes, it’s important not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. You insist on the perfect design and refuse to build anything until all the jurisdictions beyond your control allow the perfect design, the result you end up with is nothing.

        Going back to the Sound Transit->UW negotiations, there is no way Sound Transit could have made a credible threat that they would avoid the UW completely if the UW didn’t allow Sound Transit to choose the location. The UW would have simply laughed it off, as everybody would know it to be nothing more than an obvious bluff. The UW knows that the ridership on the buses to it speak for itself and that it is a place that Metro and Sound Transit are desperate to serve. Like it or not, the UW has the leverage to practically dictate the terms, and the transit agencies can’t do much besides nod their heads.

      11. It wouldn’t have totally been a bluff. Sound Transit could’ve tunneled under the University Bridge and built their station near Roosevelt or 15th off the other side of campus. I know their original tunnel design going in that direction was envisioned to to cost more, but it’s still possible.

        Or they could’ve built to Fremont or Ballard. Or, even if they gave up on the Husky Stadium station, they could’ve still built a far better line under Capitol Hill.

      12. If Sound Transit were to insist to the UW on providing land to build a transit center or else, the most credible threat probably would have been to just have Link follows its chosen alignment, but skip Husky Stadium entirely and go nonstop from Capitol Hill to the U-district Station at Brooklyn and 43rd. Perhaps with a plausible plan for how to re-invest the savings (second Capitol Hill Station, junction at Brooklyn Station to support a future extension westward to Ballard), maybe it would have worked – especially if the ask were something as simple as sacrificing a few parking spaces right next to the station.

        On the other hand, while the transfer situation with 520 buses is not ideal with the current situation, it’s at least doable. Eliminate the UW Station and go straight to Brooklyn Station, now the deviation from the freeway becomes a lot greater, which would make truncating the 520 buses a complete non-starter until the end of time. At first glance, it seems no worse than today, but once the closure of Montlake Freeway Station happens, the situation becomes a lot worse – Sound Transit would face the ugly choice of either replacing a half-hourly 545 with an hourly 545 and an hourly 542 or forcing everybody going to the eastside from north Seattle to detour all the way to the center of downtown to catch the bus.

      13. >> Montlake Blvd. between 520 and Pacific St. isn’t that bad, and Montlake Bridge doesn’t open that frequently to justify that drastic of a solution.

        That explains why the 255 is being truncated at Husky Stadium, thus increasing frequency. Oh wait, it isn’t. It is being sent downtown on a completely redundant route — completely redundant! as in no additional stops! — and being sent to the exact same tunnel. This is nuts. It is clogging up the tunnel, kicking out other buses (that better integrate with the tunnel) even though it literally adds no additional stops. Meanwhile, someone getting to Capitol Hill either goes all the way downtown, or gets off the bus, goes up, crosses the bridge, then goes down.

        The problem is that Montlake Blvd. between 520 and Pacific St. *is* that bad. Of course it is. If it wasn’t, then people would welcome the truncation. But riders of that bus would rather slog through traffic downtown then slog though this part of Montlake.

        As to what to do after you drop off the bulk of the people, there are a number of options. You could simply take the next exit and turn around. Better yet, connect to South Lake Union or any number of locations as Glenn suggested ( It’s not that hard to think of possibilities, any one of which would greatly improve mobility by adding to the network.

        Meanwhile, a stop like this would slow down Link (on its endless march to Lynnwood) only a few seconds. Having stops clustered together is actually better, if you are concerned about speed. There is no acceleration or deceleration penalty, because they are so close together.

        No, the only reason the stop was skipped was because they didn’t think of it, or didn’t think it was important. They were focused on one goal, and one goal only — building a line connecting dots on a map (UW — done). They wanted light rail bad, so they built bad light rail.

        Not to suggest this isn’t the best thing Seattle ever built — it is. You really can’t screw this up too badly. The idea of light rail that includes downtown, Capitol Hill and the UW is bound to be popular, its just that it could be a lot, lot better.

      14. The second is a 7-minute fucking skywalk from anywhere.

        To be fair, it’s VERY near to the stadium that is used, what, six times a year?

      15. There are several reasons why the 255 changes were canceled. Some of it is bias towards the known, rather than the unknown. People know what the experience on the 255 is today, and it’s human nature to fear that change will make things worse, rather than welcome change that will make things better.

        There’s also the problem that the details of Metro’s proposed 255 change in alternative 1 were not good for downtown riders. Route 545 riders got the carrot of increased frequency to compensate for the extra connection. Route 255 riders got the truncation, but no increased frequency to compensate. Alternative 1 effectively shifted some of the 255’s service-hours from Kirkland to Seattle, so it is no surprised that people in Kirkland would be opposed. Furthermore, Metro made the mistake of having route 255 riders headed east wait for a bus that was traveling to the station via southbound Montlake. Whenever Montlake is backed up, everybody going from downtown to Kirkland would be left standing at the bus stop for however long it takes for the bus to get through the traffic.

        If the proposal were to simply do for the 255 what it did for the 542 – turn around in the U-district and offer increased frequency in exchange for the connection, it likely would have fared better.

        There are also issues with your ideas of what the 255 bus could do after dropping people off at Montlake. Getting off at the next exit and turning around would not be cheap, as the bus would have to wind all the way back to Montlake on surface streets. If you’re going to do that, you may as well take the Montlake exit ramp and serve the U-district. Taking 520 to SLU would require the bus to get all the way over across 4 lanes of freeway in 3/4 mile, something Metro specifically rejected in alternative 1 (proposed 311) as too dangerous. It would also be more expensive than turning around in the U-district and preclude additional frequency being added to the route, which is really the main point of a truncation.

        And, if the best way to truncate the bus is to send it right by the Husky Station anyway, spending another $200 million to build another station just to move that connection point half a mile south is crazy. There are so many better ways to spend $200 million than that.

  8. Hydrogenics and Alstom Sign Agreement to Develop and Commercialize Hydrogen-Powered Commuter Trains in Europe

    Alstom Transport is a unit of Alstom, a France-based global leader in power generation, transmission and rail infrastructure with sales of EURO6.2 billion for the year ended March 31, 2015.

    The agreement, valued at over EURO50 million, includes the supply of at least 200 engine systems along with service and maintenance as necessary over a 10 year period. Hydrogenics was selected by Alstom following a rigorous technical review process. The fuel cell systems, based on the Company’s Heavy-Duty HD series fuel cells, will be developed to meet European train compliance regulations. The first units are expected to be delivered in 2016 following prototype work slated for late 2015.

    1. I’m coming too. Might be late depending on SR 520 traffic, but I”ll be there.

    1. I think it’s cute that KT is trying this bus in Bremerton and Silverdale, when it will just end up being used on one of the Poulsbo-Bainbridge terminal express routes (where the extra capacity is really needed)

  9. What are everybodys thoughts on double decker buses? What about double decker electric buses? Can they use the existing oveehead wires?

    1. I suppose they would physically work as long as the trolley wires are a uniform distance off the ground, but the trolley poles would have to be so short that they would be difficult to reset should they go off-track.

      There would also be a big wait at some stops while people made their way downstairs. But I suppose if London doesn’t have a problem with that then we probably won’t either.

      1. London does have a problem with that. It’s part of the reason that heritage Routemasters survived so long on Oxford Street, It’s also part of why cash fares no longer exist in Central London. The newish three door Boris buses help some. Unfortunately, making buses longer (which is pretty much the only alternative) has its own set of issues.

  10. Typical short-sighted thinking from suburban “leaders.” Of course, this is how sprawly suburbs are created in the first place, so why should anybody be surprised.

  11. The people complaining endlessly about the location of the UW Station apparently have not spent much time around that node. I graduated from the UW and work at the NOAA research facility just a block to the south, and I walk to campus almost daily, and although a stop directly underneath Red Square would have been more ideal from a ‘center of the universe’ perspective, that had a design probability of 0.00%.

    The nearly complete station will work just fine (great even!), especially considering students aren’t walking adverse (seriously, everyone walks to the IMA, and that’s basically the same distance. Also, there is a HUGE regional medical center directly across the street, where at any given point in the day there are crowds waiting to get on downtown bound buses. Almost every (ex) 43 rider will be using Link, along with a big chunk of the 48 contingent. And, who in their right mind would hesitate walking across campus from 15th/Gould Hall/Terry-Lander Dorms/Schmitz Hall/the Ave etc. for a guaranteed 2-3 minute ride to Capitol Hill or 5-6 minutes to Westlake. I hate to say it, but sometimes I think the whiners are afraid of being outdoors since it might mess up their hair, or get the vapors ascending 2 steps…OMG, you mean the skybridge isn’t covered!!! (said in mocking Emperor Palpatine voice). This is friggin Seattle, and people aren’t scared of walking in the drizzle for 5 minutes. A true Seattleite would not complain about an uncovered skybridge, it’s hood up and grin and bear.

    U-Link will be a massive success, and will surely beat expectations. I put that probability at 100.00%.

    1. Before DP says it, 4 minutes to Capitol Hill and 8 minutes to Westlake. (He would also mention that 6 minutes to Westlake was in ST’s earlier brochures.)

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