This is an open thread. 

113 Replies to “News Roundup: Those Crazy Confusing Lanes”

    1. Quite a few of them. The issue is that most never ride anything except peak-hour commuter service.

      1. I know a North by Northwest area Mayor who rode the transit in off-peak hours (2 PM yesterday) and almost didn’t have room for her bike and herself.

        That said, I do think more politicians need to take the transit to/from work.

    2. Our former Mayor used to. Current City Councilmembers O’Brien and Rasmussen regularly ride transit. So does King County Executive Dow Constantine and Councilmembers Joe McDermott, Larry Phillips, and Larry Gossett. I’m sure there’s more, but I know personally that these folks do, and have seen them on board.

      1. Not only transit officials, but transit planners and designers need to use public transit on a regular basis. Not just commute routes but also those outside their ‘comfort zones.’

  1. 145th HCT study from I-5 to ST 522: What is the goal of this? I predicted earlier it was for rerouting the 522, but ST Express is not HCT. But 145th is too short for its own BRT or light rail line, so what’s to be gained by studying it in isolation?

    Northern Lake Washington Crossing: “This study would examine alternatives including and parallel to State Route 522 and State Route 520, including connections from Sand Point to Kirkland and Redmond/and or Bellevue.” That sounds like it would include the Bothell Link line. (Heretofore known as the Lake City/Bothell line, except Lake City is not mentioned. :( ) ST’s long-term plan includes a line around the lake to Totem Lake, so this would be half of it. This alternative might be more productive than the Sand Point – Kirkland crossing, at least for those west of Bothell. But expecting Kirklandites to go around the lake to get to Seattle sounds insane, so where’s the evidence that they would do so?

    Just for fun, if we take Link’s Westlake – 145th travel time as 18 minutes, and multiply by 2 1/2 to reach Kirkland, that’s 45 minutes. Hmm, that’s not bad actually. The 255 takes 45 minutes (5pm eastbound), and people are riding it. But the 255 achieves 30 minutes in the off-hours (6am), and Link wouldn’t do that. Subtracting 12 minutes from Link’s time for Kirkland – UDistrict trips, that’s 33 minutes. Not bad either.

    1. I’m curious what the 522 HCT study is going to result in as well. I could maybe see a BRT emerging from it, maybe with one terminus being at 145th, going through 522 and going on to merge into the potential BRT “mainline” on 405.

      Definitely don’t see it as light rail. That won’t be until ST4, at the earliest.

      1. I suspect that one option is to widen 145th — and add exclusive transit lanes as a way to justify an expensive taking of a row of housing on one side. It sounds more like using transit to solve a 145th problem, than using 145th to improve transit problem. I’d also add that Lake City is where Seattle has chosen to put the focus of higher-density development in the area, and 145th as a regional transit corridor would seem to miss that opportunity.

      2. Making 145th wider would not be easy. You have two cities and the state that have to get involved. My guess is the state will just go along with whatever the two cities decide to do, but the two cities (Shoreline and Seattle) have different interests, and neither may be interested in widening the street. Seattle, as you said, wants to do what’s right for its people, and what it is right is to use 125th/130th, not 145th, as the key corridor. To spend a huge amount of money treating 145th like the primary corridor, when the bulk of the people live between 145th and 125th is not only bad for the city, but it is bad for the region. I just don’t see Seattle going along with that, unless someone had something to trade. If push comes to shove, Seattle has the stronger case, for the reasons mentioned (its not that hard to push a politically selfish point when it is better for the region as a whole). If you drive along 522, it may all look the same — some apartments here and there, some houses, a few shops, etc. But if you look at the census numbers (zoom in on this: it is really surprising. Here are the census blocks along that corridor in number of people per square mile, roughly from south to north:

        Seattle — 19,000, 12,000, 12,000, 31,000
        Suburbs — 5,900, 4,900, 5,900, 2,600, 2,600, 2,900, 3,600, 3,100, 2,800

        In other words, the population drops off considerably once you leave the city and doesn’t really pick up ever. There is definitely some big growth in Bothell (with the new Bothell Landing project) but that, at best, gets you close to the lowest of the Seattle tracts along that corridor (if that). Meanwhile, most of these numbers don’t include the growth that has happened over the last five years (and is still happening) in Seattle. The area is growing quickly, and not just on the main street (e. g. 33rd has added several buildings). There are more people along that small section (from 145th to 125th) then the rest of that highway. It is pretty easy to make the case that a major investment in that corridor should include the bulk of the people.

        To be fair, there is a funneling effect. There aren’t any major east-west roads between the freeway and the highway. This tends to draw people from those areas, and accounts for the decent numbers along there for the buses. But in many cases you do have alternatives, which brings me to my next point.

        Only a very small part of Shoreline touches 522. Shoreline borders 145th, of course, so some would benefit from better bus service there, but unlike Lake Forest Park, Kenmore and Bothell, there would be no set of park and rides along there for them to use. Meanwhile, to expand the road, you would have to cut into people’s property. The sidewalk is very skinny already, and there is no parking to take away. I’m sure a lot of neighbors would hate a six lane highway. For these home owners, being told they have to give up their front lawn so buses can cruise by really doesn’t sound that appealing. When you consider that only a handful of people in Shoreline would take advantage of the bus (almost everyone who rides it will come from the 522 corridor, or the Seattle side of 145th) I just don’t see how Shoreline gets much out of the deal. By all means they want to see that road move faster (with or without buses). But if push comes to shove, most of the residents of Shoreline will simply find a different way to get to Link (very few would take 145th if they drive to the station).

        So neither Seattle, nor Shoreline, really has an interest in making 145th wider. I assume that the study will consider alternatives, and the alternative that makes sense for the region is 125th. Once folks realize that 145th is not easy from a political standpoint, and would carry way fewer people, I think that will be the corridor that is developed.

    2. As someone who takes the 255 every day at PM peak, I can say that actual travel time is only 45 minutes on the very worst days. Almost all outbound peak 255 delays come from waiting in the tunnel, between late inbound buses and the horror show that is PM peak joint ops.

      1. It’s extremely academic to me at this point since I don’t really go to the eastside regularly anymore, have never traveled to Redmond regularly, and don’t use the tunnel in the PM peak often, but… I took the 545 toward Redmond from near IDS in the morning peak once and I’m pretty sure if I had to do it again I’d take the 255 to Evergreen Point instead (unless OBA said the 255 was a much longer wait), and transfer to the 545 or 542 there (since I go to Redmond rarely I don’t really know what they do differently in Redmond), because the 545 is so slow on the surface in the morning peak, especially with the Capitol Hill deviation.

        Is the tunnel so bad in the evening peak that you’d consider the opposite? Taking the 545 (with no Capitol Hill deviation at that time) as far as Evergreen Point, then transferring to the 255 or 540 there? Or doing that conditionally based on real-time arrival info?

    3. Interesting analysis Mike. I think Mark is right and I also think these are two different travel patterns. 45 minutes isn’t terrible (it is no worse than the bus) but it isn’t great, either. That is assuming we build a totally grade separated light rail line all the way there. Spending that kind of money for “about the same” is not a great investment (if that is the destination). Light rail all the way around would have to include UW Bothell. Once you do that, you are talking about the distances you mentioned and the times you mentioned. You might save a couple minutes with fewer stops, but not that much. If you did BRT all the way around, then you add distance (the freeway and highway does a lot of curving). I think no matter what you do to the north side of the lake, people will want to ride a bus (or train) over 520. Open BRT (loosely defined) makes the most sense for much of the area, with buses headed both directions (across the lake and north to Bothell). Population in the Kirkland/Juanita area is very dispersed.

      I think Mark has the right idea. BRT for 522 makes a lot of sense. I wouldn’t connect it to 145th, though, I would connect it to 130th and then keep going to Greenwood, if not 3rd NW. You would pick up more people on the second half of that run (from 145th to Greenwood) then you would for the first half (Bothell to 145th). It is just a lot more densely populated.

      I think the study plans were hatched long before they assumed a station at 130th was going to happen, and I doubt they want to change the name of the plan now. But as part of the study they should definitely include Lake City as well as the other side of the freeway.

      Northgate as well as Lake City Way are also possibilities, but both have traffic problems that I believe are intractable. 130th is not bad right now, and could be made better without a lot of effort. There are no plans for a huge parking garage at 130th, while 145th and Northgate will have them. This means car traffic will be substantial. But build frequent bus service from Lake City and people will take the bus to the station. Maybe they drive and take the bus, but that still means the bus moves faster. All it takes is one day of hunting around for a parking spot and you adjust your approach. For example someone at 135th and 25th gets in his car and starts heading to the station at 130th. He can’t find a spot, so he trolls the neighborhood. He sees “four hour parking” signs everywhere. Eventually he parks on 17th, close to 125th. He starts walking and gets passed by a bus. He continues walking, and right before getting to the station, gets passed by another bus. He figures it out really quick and the next day he just drives down the street a little ways and parks close to one of the bus stops. Or maybe he just decides to keep his car in the garage and walk a half mile to the bus stop (it is flat). Either way you don’t have cars clogging up 125th, and a bus along there will move just fine.

      1. Depends on how frequent the bus is.

        I also get the feeling that we have a series of chicken and egg problems. Metro would need to see strong demand for any sort of bus route plying the full length of 125th/130th before they install any bus route, and it appears that we would need to have a bus route before we have a frequent BRT-style bus route. ST no doubt wanted to see an actual bus route on 125th/130th that crosses I-5.

        And the bus route really should be a straight 125th, 130th and not an offshoot of the 75 because with the interlining of the 32 it creates a ‘hell and back’ route that will bunch like crazy. 130th should be okay, but Sand Point and UW are clogs, as is the entire route of the 32.

      2. If you are hanging out in Lake City (say, sipping a beer at the Beer Authority) you will see a constant stream of buses. Some of those buses would end up going other places, but I think it is reasonable to send a bunch of them to 125th. Breaking it down a bit:

        312 — This runs commuter hours only, but it runs a lot during those hours. It runs more often than every five minutes (on average) from about 7:00 to 8:30.

        372 — This doesn’t have the numbers of the 312, but it runs all day. It is not that frequent (about every half hour in the middle of the day).

        41 — Very frequent, all day bus. It is a steady, all day, 15 minute bus (unlike the 312).

        522 — Similar to the 41, although a bit more directional.

        I’ve ignored the 372, as well as buses that travel nearby (like the 64, 65, 75). I agree, if we send buses like the 75 on here, then you will have bunching. There are plenty of other directions that buses can go. For example, heading up 30th (which is done now, by the 65) is fine. You also want at least one bus to go directly from Lake City to Northgate (along Lake City Way and then Northgate Way) just like the 75 does. Not that I love the 75 route. I don’t like that huge curve, and would prefer something coming from the north, along 30th (or a combination of 30th and 35th) but worse case scenario, it stays the same.

        Either way, though, just combining the buses I listed gives you way more than five minute frequency demand during rush hour, and somewhere around ten minute frequency during the rest of the day. This is without a connection to Link, and without a connection to Aurora or Greenwood. That connection would increase the value of that line and justify very high frequency. There are bus lanes for much of the way, and they could be expanded a bit. With that, plus level boarding and off board payment, I don’t think you would have any bunching (or at least very little — less than today, probably).

        It isn’t smooth sailing the whole way (Lake City, the freeway and Aurora will have congestion unless some work is done) but nothing major. The freeway and Aurora could probably eliminate all congestion with a little bit of paint. You have a few traffic lights, but nothing too bad, and with a little bit of signal priority, you could clean that right up. All in all, I think a highway 522 to Greenwood line (via 125th/130th) would be fast, frequent and very popular. There is huge demand now, and that is without the added connectivity.

      3. I should mention that it is less than a mile from I-5 to Aurora on 130th, and less than a mile and a half from the freeway to Greenwood. Considering the speed of most of NE 130th (it is really fast) this puts it into the “might as well” category. There aren’t that many places to turn around. You could turn around on Meridian, and that is about it (before Aurora). That wouldn’t be that bad. You would turn right no Ashworth and curve around Ingraham, then take a left on Meridian. But now you are asking those who transfer from Aurora to walk over a quarter mile. For those headed out, they would probably have to walk further, or sit through a layover. To Meridian it is a half mile, so those who started out on Aurora have a fairly big walk (then a short bus ride if they are headed to Link). It is an even longer if you started in Bitter Lake.

        You could run other buses east-west, but where would they turn around? It makes no sense to turn around before the Link station, so now you are throwing a regular bus into the mix of a BRT line. One wheelchair rider, or a bunch of guys fumbling with change and you have a four bus lineup trying to let people off to get onto Link.

        No thanks. I think it makes sense to run the BRT all the way to Aurora, if not to Greenwood and keep it clean (no non-BRT buses along the main route) There are way more people there, anyway (within walking distance). You would have no trouble getting demand, both from people transferring, and those who start out nearby.

        I think the bigger challenge is the other end — where to end it on the east. UW-Bothell might make the most sense, or maybe have a couple variations (one that goes out there, one that goes to Woodinville, etc.). This is no problem in general, but if it gets too “open”, then you might get bus bunching.

  2. 2 Questions on Toll/HOV lanes:
    A. Those look like big trucks in the HOV lane video. Are they now allowed, or just a poorly conceived graphic?
    B. HOV is permitted on 167 HOT lanes currently, WITHOUT any passes, stickers or dashboard switches. Does that ‘go away’ with the introduction of HOT lanes on 405 and/or 167, and maybe other HOV lanes as they are converted?

    1. A. Are any of the lanes going to be HOV only, or are they all going to be HOT? I thought it was the latter. Even if it isn’t, trucks can drive in HOV lanes as long as they have enough people (and they often do — one guy driving and the other guy helps unload).

      B. I don’t think anything is changing, I think it is the same as 167. As the area tolls more often, more people will get the fancy ones that switch back and forth. Otherwise you get charged, even when you shouldn’t be charged (maybe you have a “Good to Go” sticker for 520, but then get in the HOT lanes because you have two other people in the car). If you never pay a toll but carry enough people, you never need a sticker (you can drive in the HOT lanes). If you don’t mind paying a toll in the other instance, then you can do that as well.

      1. A. The Washington Administrative Code 468-510-010 provides that vehicles with the number of occupants specified on roadway signs may use HOV lanes, with the exception of trucks weighing over 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight. Recreational vehicles are not subject to this weight limit. Buses, motorcycles, and all law enforcement and emergency vehicles are allowed to use the lanes regardless of the number of occupants.
        (Note: That also limits many of todays larger pickup trucks where GVWT can exceed the 10,000 pound limit, regardless of occupants.
        B. I’ve traveled SR167 many times with my wife, so we use the HOV lane and have no stickers, passes and I’ve never got a bill in the mail. I think this is changing, but was hoping someone knew.

      2. RossB, I put a response to you in slightly the wrong spot a couple of posts down. Shorter answer: nothing is changing on 167 (for now), but 405 is different for HOV users.

    2. How do they plan to enforce the HOV minimums? What is the deterrent for someone who just flips to HOV mode and cruises solo?

      1. I assume that cops can tell if they are paying a toll or not. So, basically, it isn’t that much different than today. A cop sees a single guy in the HOT lane, but then does a double check to see if they are paying a fare. If not, whether they have one or not, they will have to pay a fine. I’m sure a lot of guys will claim ignorance (“I forgot to switch it — I swear!”) but still have to pay the fine. I’m pretty sure this system is in place in lots of other cities.

      2. On SR167 there’s a light on the toll readers that flashes if a toll is charged. Cops can sit there and pull someone over if they aren’t HOV and no light flashes. I’d assume they will do something similar on 405, except a little more sophisticated because of the different payment modes. I think if you are HOV with no (flex) transponder there’s no way to ride for free.

      3. I 405 is toll by mail. Youll get a bill in the mail which is higher than the good 2 go rates.

    3. Rules on 167 aren’t changing. (Though while looking for something unrelated, I happened to see a note on the WSDOT website that they may change soon, and encourage HOV users to get the new switchable passes.)

      Rules on 405 will be different from the 167 rules, since like the 520 bridge, they toll by camera in addition to transponder. In order to get charged a $0.00 toll as an HOV, you have to have a transponder switched into HOV mode.

    4. WSDOT is creating the confusion: Just look at thier own website. I doubt they know the answer to question B.
      SR167: Carpooling in the HOT Lane
      Carpools with two or more passengers can travel for free in the SR 167 HOT lanes. Carpoolers do not need a Good To Go! pass to travel free, but if they have a pass, the carpooler must do the following to ensure they are not charged a toll:
      i-405:I-405 Express Toll Lanes – Carpool Rules and Exemptions
      Are there toll exemptions?
      Carpools with the designated number of passengers as well as transit, vanpools and motorcycles may use the express toll lanes for free with a Good To Go! account and pass.
      No pass needed on 167 but you get a ticket on 405. That’s pretty simple to follow….Huh?
      (note: I guess WSDOT doesn’t read STB anymore or are still scratching their heads)

      1. That sounds clear to me: there’re different rules for the two highways. WSDOT could’ve said that explicitly, though, which would’ve been even better.

      2. Oh, I get it now. They want to be more like transit agencies serving a common area and the same people, with multiple rules, conflicting fares, and poorly designed communications.

  3. Not sure how I feel about pedestrianized Pike Street. If it diminishes street crime, that’s great. But it doesn’t make the neighborhood better 24/7, just for 5/2.

    I’d much rather have wider sidewalks instead. If it costs $160,000 to fund this experiment, we could actually build wider sidewalks by simply using that money for a few years. Pike is absurdly wide: 2 lanes of traffic, a center turn lane, and on-street parking on both sides. That’s 5 cars across! It doesn’t need that much space. Wider sidewalks would provide a lot of additional space for people to disperse. Removing some street parking would also help discourage driving and probably some of the related DUIs that result.

    More importantly, sidewalks can be used for other purposes, whereas a 24/7 street closure is not possible. Things like sidewalk cafes, for example. Pike-Pine needs more all-day amenities, not just a larger party space for nighlife crowds.

    1. In response to the 5/2 issues, I’ve seen areas in Europe where retractable bollards are used to block traffic during certain times of the day, and let cars through other times. I don’t have a solid opinion about what the best plan is, but that’s one option.

      1. The problem there isn’t the cafe, it’s the too-narrow sidewalk. Sidewalk cafes are awesome.

      2. Agree that is not pedestrian friendly, but it is located on a normal-width sidewalk and makes the walkway much too narrow.

        I’m thinking temporary sidewalk uses, not limited to cafes, that wouldn’t involve permanent fencing.

      3. I live near there and never noticed the outside tables or the width of the sidewalk, so I don’t think it’s a problem. The place with too narrow sidewalks is Pine Street, especially around Summit. There are so many people walking up and down the hill there that they often have to wait for each other.

      4. Don’t get me wrong, I am 100% in favor of sidewalk cafes, but this example clearly creates a choke point between the bike rack, tree well and cafe fencing (source: I used to walk Pike during rush hour) and I’d question its ADA compliance. And there’s a few other examples around the city where the primary function of a usable sidewalk is not maintained. I’ll try to rack my brain of where I’ve seen them.

        Sidewalk usability should not suffer for the profits of a business.

      5. The problem is the gigantic dirt patches for the trees instead of concrete. They should rip out the tree and plant a smaller one. There are a number of spots on Pike/Pine where saving a tree is a priority over maintaining a reasonable sidewalk width. I get it, trees and all, but we chop them down all the time for paper and wood, and it is most possible to plant a smaller one in its place.

    2. Making the sidewalk wider might not be that expensive. Generally speaking, adding sidewalks is really expensive because they have to do the hydrology studies (and mitigation, if necessary). But I doubt you need to do that with a sidewalk expansion. I think expanding the sidewalks in that area makes a lot of sense. The street is way too wide.

      1. It’s not just the studies, it’s actually moving the storm drain. It doesn’t look like it would cost that much on Melrose side of the corner, but the side on Pike would require moving that storm drain.

      2. Ah, that makes sense. I wonder if they could do a cheap version, and allow the existing storm drain (just curve out away from there)? Basically make it a bulb — maybe even put in a parking space if they felt like removing the other spaces (for deliveries). A sidewalk that is wider for most of the way is better than nothing.

  4. Not surprised that the U-District lags in Pronto ridership — it’s essentially an island. Crossing the University bridge on a bike is not an attractive proposition to the occasional rider, and there are no stations in the neighborhoods accessible by the Burke-Gilman trail. It’s poor network design but the solutions should be pretty obvious: Pronto stations in Fremont, Wallingford, Green Lake, and Ballard.

    1. Yes, absolutely. This is something that everyone mentions whenever the subject comes up (on this blog, on biking blogs, on the Pronto website, etc.). They really need to add a bunch of stations on the Burke Gilman. It is our main bike path, and connects areas that are plenty urban. It works for what Pronto is great for — an easy bike ride for a mile or two to visit some nearby restaurant or park. It also works really well for solving the last mile problem. Add pronto stations at Husky Stadium and along the Burke and you could get from Fremont to Capitol Hill really fast that way (faster than driving). But that isn’t the only connection. There are a bunch of buses that head north, and connecting Fremont to those buses (via bike sharing) is a great way to go. For example, I could ride a bike from Fremont to Campus Parkway and be home faster than if I rode buses the whole way (assuming I timed it right) because there would be no transfer penalty. I used to do that, back in the way (I used a bike locker at the UW). Pronto would make it a lot easier than hassling with bike storage (which isn’t available to many people anyway).

      1. No kidding — Fremont is a common destination of mine, and it’s a two bus ride for me, starting with the 8. When I change buses at Denny and Dexter, I look longingly at the Pronto setup that’s LITERALLY across the street from the northbound bus stop at . Then I get to ride the bus as it trundles slowly along Dexter…and watch bikers whiz by in the protected bike line. I just don’t get it.

    2. I, for one, am thrilled that Pronto’s leadership continues to define the system’s service area and locate its stations solely on basis of corporate sponsorship, rather than asking themselves tough questions about which contiguous areas must be accessible in order to convince a critical mass of Seattle residents to “buy into” the system and become a reliable revenue stream and backbone of political support.

      I am similarly elated that Pronto staff are “doing a lot of research” to understand the failure of its U-District outpost, rather than merely spending five seconds on the Internet and learning that that discontiguous and gerrymandered bike-share “networks” exponentially reduce the usefulness of each installed station and objectively never work.

      In no way does this confirm the suspicions I had three years ago that those responsible for Pronto are dead set on orchestrating a failure, and should never have been trusted with our one shot at a viable program.

      *(Spin notwithstanding, Pronto boasts significantly weaker membership and aggregate-trip figures than systems in many peer cities did in their initial year of operations.)

      1. Didn’t Pronto publish stats a little while ago crowing about their great ridership, but which worked out to something like fewer than 2 rides per bike per day?

      2. Hey, that’s like half a trip per bike-day better than Minneapolis gets when their system is shut down for the winter!

    3. Yes! Green Lake could easily use three locations Pronto locations that are close to public transit and where many roads intersect: East Green Lake by the Rec Center/ball fields, North Green Lake by the wading poolBlanchett High School area, and South/West Green Lake near Woodland Park/old Aqua Theater area.

  5. I really can’t empathize enough the importance of taking that ST3 survey people… influences the process a lot more than a Seattle Transit Blog comment.

    1. I can’t figure out which of these options might help boost the WSTT. Is that the “New Downtown Seattle Light Rail Tunnel Connection” one?

      1. I just added it to the list of things they should study. I found that part of the process very frustrating.

      2. The page where they ask you to rank 3 – is 1 the best or is 3 the best? This is just a really badly designed survey.

    2. I’m sending in a comment asking them to take a look at “diesel light rail” or similar between DuPont and Tacoma.

      The track will be completely rebuilt by 2017 or so. Other than stations and a few cars there isn’t a huge amount of capital expense involved. Certainly, it isn’t anything like Link extensions.

      It cost a lot of money to run huge Sounder train to Lakewood. Lightweight DMU on the line paralleling I-5 wouldn’t be subject to traffic light delays getting to and from the freeway. This might make it less expensive to operate than the existing bus services.

  6. Did anyone see in the previous post some commenter saying he lived one block away from the route 245 in Kirkland, and it takes him one block away from his work in Factoria? But, he said, he prefers to drive to work because he doesn’t like the alignment of the route. Does anyone else think that it’s not the route that’s the problem, but his unreasonable expectations?

    1. Sam: here is your assignment. Commute every day from Redmond to Bellevue using a one-seat ride on route 221 (which changes to route 241 at Eastgate). No cheating by using route 232, 566, or the B Line. Report how the commute aligns with your expectations and whether you would rather drive.

      1. David, in most cases, driving is easier and quicker than the bus, especially on local routes. So his argument that the 245, even though he has door to door service, isn’t fast enough, is a cop-out.

      2. The point I’m making is that the one-seat ride is not always the best option.

        Even with slow routing in north Bellevue and a not-great transfer, 234/235 + 241 get between Kirkland and Factoria 10-15 minutes faster than the 245, although effective frequency is only half-hourly for that trip.

        Still much slower than driving, though. As Dan well knows, Metro’s Kirkland-Bellevue routing needs help.

      3. Not all one-seat rides are equal. You could take the 226 from Bellevue to Crossroads but it’s not designed for that; it’s really three milk runs interlined (Kirkland-Overlake, Overlake-Northup Way-Crossroads, Crossroads-Eastgate). Metro does that when it reorganizes: it puts better routes in the highest-volume corridors, and strings the left-out pieces into a milk run. The 245 is kind of in between a trunk route and a milk run. Again it’s really two routes interlined at Overlake, and not really designed for Kirkland to Factoria trips.

    2. Yeah, so that was my original comment. it’s a 20-minute drive, or a 60-minute bus ride on the 245. Alternatively, about 48 minutes if I do the transfer from 234/235 to 241 that David referenced (though that makes for a 30-minute headway).

      Are my expectations unreasonable as Sam claims? Well, should I want to spend another 80 minutes a day commuting?

      I don’t expect Kirkland-Factoria to be any planner’s highest priority. Kirkland/Bellevue, on the other hand, is a major trip pair. And would be a better used line if it were better served. Fix the 234/235, and a bus commute gets more interesting for me and many others. Some smarter routing (not to mention less circling of parking lots) would shave several minutes off that bus at minimal cost.

      That is what used to be called a network effect. Build a better bus line, and make the whole network more useful.

      If a transit blogger prefers to drive to work because the one-seat almost-door-to-door service is a hassle, we’re doing something wrong. There are a lot of simple things we could do to make buses better in this region.

      As transit advocates, we ought to be making a lot of noise about the 234/235. There’s a lot of passion in the advocacy community for running trains around the Eastside, and so little interest in making the buses better.

      1. The lack of a reasonable transfer opportunity at SR-520 and 108th or Bellevue Way really hurts the 234/235. The higher-ridership 255 ends up using the quickest and highest-demand N/S corridor between SR-520 and Kirkland, leaving the 234/235 to pick up the scraps. The other problem is the lack (yet) of Hospital Station, which forces the 234/235 to be the primary service to the hospital as well as Kirkland. Both of those things together have the effect of making the 234/235 very slow. And, sure enough, it barely attracts any choice riders despite decent frequency.

      2. Dan, would you be willing to admit that you and your attitude are at least a small part of the problem? Perhaps you are a bit too impatient? Or do you really believe that the reason you drive from Kirkland to Factoria is all the 245’s fault?

        Also, since you are complaining that your door-to-door bus route isn’t as fast as your car, what would your Kirkland to Factoria alignment look like?

      3. Sam, I’m glad to see your attitude is so well prepared for your assignment. I eagerly await your report on your North Redmond-Bellevue commute via the 221/241 through-route.

        To answer your serious question, the right Kirkland-Factoria alignment would be a 234/235 that makes a straight shot down 108th and 112th (or, less realistically, down Lakeview/Lake Washington/Bellevue Way, without a stop at SK P&R) between Kirkland and Bellevue, with a transfer at Bellevue TC to a route just like the current 241 but with frequent service.

  7. Yesterday on I-90 near SR18 I saw a semi carrying one of Metro’s new trolley buses. Apparently it was over height because it hit an overhead sign. The lights were ripped off the sign and it looked like the trolley poles of the bus were damaged. Hopefully they take better care with the rest of the deliveries.

    1. It’s a good thing he struck a sign and not a bridge.
      Dateline Seattle: Transit makes vicious attack on roadways and bridges.

  8. Police said the train had been released, but a viewer told KIRO 7 at about 9:15 a.m. the train was still stopped..
    The train left the scene shortly before 9:30 a.m. and was heading to Sumner. Two trains were delayed by the incident

    Odd wording. Makes it sound like the train was a suspect, and was detained by police, then fled the scene.

  9. Editors: Some perspective plase: The motorcyclist was not “hit by” crossing gates. The motorcyclist tried to run the signals and “hit” the crossing gate. Gates do not hit people. People hit gates. Thank you.

  10. The next year will be a huge one transit in the local area. Has anyone heard a schedule for:

    1) Pamela breakthrough at Roosevelt Station?
    2) FH streetcar opening?
    3) U-Link opening?
    4) S. 200th Ext opening?

    1. First Hill: Late summer, August or September. Very early test runs just underway. The SDOT site says June, but more recent news releases have said they’ll miss opening in time Capitol Hill Block Party the last weekend in July.

      U-Link: early 2016, ahead of schedule and under budget. The press keeps taking about a March opening.

      S200th: “Late” 2016

      Couldn’t find anything on Pamela, though — ST used to have handy diagrams for tunneling progress but I haven’t seen a new one in a while.

      1. I went to the Roosevelt Open House on June 2nd. At that time, the ST contact told me that Pamela was under LCW/75th. Brenda was under 61st and Ravenna.

    2. From a construction alert May 29th: “Tunnel boring machine Brenda successfully re-launched from the Roosevelt Station site on its way to building the future northbound tunnel from U District Station. Brenda is currently just south of NE 62nd Street and should arrive at the U District Station site by fall. TBM Pamela is building the southbound tunnel. It’s now just south of NE 75th Street along Banner Place NE. Pamela is expected to arrive at the Roosevelt site this summer.”

  11. That sound transit survey is amazing. You have to know so much inside baseball for it even to make sense.

    No one could pretend and say I haven’t been paying attention, but even I was not 100% sure what the different options ment.

    1. I agree, it was a weird survey. Pick your top three for a particular area, and then they lump them together in weird ways — an infill station at NE 130th gets to compete with a multi-billion dollar new line out to Everett? Huh?

      1. That cod be good. The 130th Street Station is obviously far more useful than a multi-billion dollar line to Everett.

      2. I just voted for everything I actually want as a 5. Like “perfect world” want, and then rated everything else a 1.

        My cut off was “would I pay taxes to get x?”. Ballard to uw, yes. Grade separated dt to Ballard, yes. Anything to everett, sorry don’t care.

    2. Yes, it definitely seems set up to get the answers they want to get. In at least one question they lump several things together, some of which (for me) are deal-breakers, so it got rated way down. Others might rate it higher because there are some that are good projects, and then it’s taken as a “yes” on all of them.

      I think I forced it to pretty much say what I wanted, but it took some doing and quite a bit of “inside baseball” knowledge to do so. I’ve pretty much given up hope with the process and will only wish that some of the less-bad things get done (but hooray for UW-Ballard at least!).

      1. Agreed. I ended up giving the Paine Field route a 1, but then felt compelled to give the I-5 alignment a 2. In normal situations I would have given it a 1 as well, but I wanted them to know that the I-5 route was a “No”, but the Paine Field route was a “Hell No!”

    3. Agree. I’m defiantly up to speed, and it seemed to me that there were 2 options for dt to Ballard grade separated with no stated differences. I was on my phone so I didn’t explore it. Seemed really wierd.

      Maybe a vote splitter? Do you want ham or pork? You get one vote.
      Or maybe writing surveys is just hard.

      1. The 2nd one is better. Reading the info in the link led me there. Its the one with a possible tunnel option across the ship canal.

        Overall, agreed. I have no idea how non transit nerds would handle it.

      2. Wait, what? If they are both grade separated, how is the second better? Why would a tunnel be necessarily better that a bridge? If we can save half a billion by using a bridge that opens once every three months (it would be a very tall bridge) then why not?

        Of course the whole process frustrates me. I want to vote: UW to Ballard: 5; WSTT: 5; NE 130th: 5. Everything else (including a second train to Ballard) should be low priority. Yeah, I know, a combination of UW to Ballard and downtown to Ballard light rail would be very good, just not as good overall as UW to Ballard light rail and WSTT.

      3. I doubt it would be a very tall bridge; it probably would be very close to the ground.

        Anyway, a bridge would preclude driverless trains, which we want!

      4. Automated trains have inarguable advantages, but outside of the Seattle Subway echo chamber, you’re unlike to find anyone who would accept that they are needed above and beyond any other considerations, including ROI.

        Unfortunate reality check: Seattle lacks the aggregate base density of even pre-Skytrain Vancouver. Between politics and geography, it is poorly attuned to ever achieving the kind of ultra-consolidated high-capacity corridors that would demand extremely high frequencies at all hours.

        Furthermore, any genuinely justifiable future subway corridors will be of such modest distances that the labor cost of non-automation is relatively low, even at high rush-hour frequencies and adequately-spontaneous off-peak frequencies (no better than 5 and 10 minutes, respectively, will be justified by any segment other than U-Link).

        Mobility must always remain the number one priority, and that requires adjudicating situational appropriateness. “Automated everywhere”, like any single-technology fetish, can at times run counter to that goal.

        (That said, I don’t see any reason why a rarely-opening drawbridge would be in any way incompatible with automation. This would be the easiest contingency ever for which to program — if the bridge isn’t perfectly closed, a circuit is broken; if that circuit is broken, the train cannot proceed.)

      5. @Zach — It would be 70 feet high —

        That is high enough to very, very rarely open. Similar to the old 520 bridge, back in the day (say, ten years ago) when most people never even realized that it opened.

        As far as automation goes, what d. p. said. If we really want it, we can have it, and a bridge opening (which is scheduled, by the way) is no big deal.

        Meanwhile, elevated would be a lot more popular. Think about a day like today, when you can soar above the ship canal, looking out at two mountain ranges, then go into the ground as you reach the northern edge of Queen Anne. Not too shabby for public transportation, in my book.

  12. Remember how I said giving free and discounted services to the poor will shackle them to poverty? That they’ll be afraid to ever leave it? That discounts don’t help them, but rather hurt them? And remember how you people said I didn’t know what I was talking about? Well, here’s a guy who doesn’t want a raise in pay because it will take him over the poverty line, and he’ll lose all his benefits.

    PS, I am owed an apology.

    1. He’s complaining that the system isn’t set up properly, or maybe he doesn’t understand it. I know a guy from Sweden who said taxes were so high back in the day that there were times when making more money would actually cost you money. I didn’t believe it, but if the city, state and feds had really high tax rates, I could see it. The weird thing is, Americans believe this exists here. Some believe that they are better off not making money — they don’t understand how a graduated tax system works.

      I have no idea how the system this guy is complaining about works, but most assistance programs work in the opposite direction (like a reverse income tax). You are always better off making more money, you just won’t get as much assistance. So either the agencies need to get their act together and straighten out the mess or the guy is simply mistaken.

    2. It’s the media finding the one person who might not gain from making more money for the same number of hours. The vast majority of minimum-wage workers don’t have such expensive medical conditions that this would matter. So we should cancel the minimum wage increase because of one person? He also doesn’t seem to realize the flip side of the increase, that he could work fewer hours for the same amount he’s making now and keep his benefits. Or rather he doesn’t realize it’s a good thing and he could spend more time with his family. I suppose it might depend on whether he’d fall below the number of working hours required to qualify for the benefit, but if so, then everybody working minimum wage with the same medical benefit would have the same problem, and if so the state would have to adjust its medicaid program if it wants to keep it relevant. I assume the current legislature wants to keep it relevant more than recent legislatures might have.

      In any case, the whole point of the minimum wage increase is the argument that it’s unconscionable to pay people so little that they can’t meet basic needs with full-time work, it ends up making society subsidize your company. That doesn’t apply if somebody has extraordinary medical expenses that even full-time work can’t pay them. So he’s really an exception to the principle. And really it’s an argument for single-payer healthcare.

  13. The Urbanist is doing interviews of city council candidates by position/district. Their most recent post is an interview with Morgan Beach, who is running for District 3. This quote stuck out:

    Beach prefers lower frequency [bus] service with more direct routes to minimize the need for transfers. She is concerned that transfers are burdensome for people traveling with young children, with groceries, or those with mobility issues.

    I get the sentiment and the history that Metro hasn’t been the greatest with transfers, but this seems very backwards to me.

    1. It would be great for STB et al to be able to sit down with some of these candidates and explain the benefits (and drawbacks) of the various service options. Most people likely think exactly what you said–“I don’t want to wait 20 minutes for another bus when I have one that takes me right there now!” Gently educating those running for office is a good way to have them in turn help educate their constituents when they get elected.

      …either that, or mandatory “Clockwork Orange” style reading of the blog by all citizens. Whatever. I’m cool. ;-)

      1. Yep. I’d do that myself, except I’d likely be a bad representative because I live on the Eastside. Does anyone living in Seattle want to volunteer?

    2. Standing at a stop for 29 minutes to catch a bus that you missed by 30 seconds is even more burdensome for people traveling with young children, with groceries, or those with mobility issues. Doesn’t low frequency cause the transfer issue rather than minimize it?

      1. Yes, but what she is saying is that when push comes to shove, we should not worry about frequency, and focus on “more direct routes” so that we don’t have to transfer. The problem is, that doesn’t scale and how do you define “more direct route”. If I want to get from Lake City to Fremont (two fairly dense neighborhoods) is it reasonable to expect one bus? If we start adding bus routes connecting every neighborhood to every other neighborhood, we won’t be able to run the buses very often — some buses will be ridiculously overcrowded (imagine the 8 or 44 every half hour) while other buses would be practically empty (Phinney Ridge to Wedgewood). You are going to have to have transfers somewhere, so the question is whether we have decent ones or whether we just ignore them and focus on the most popular routes.

        To a large extent, we do the latter. Downtown is by far the most popular destination, and most of our buses go there. This is how Metro has been designed (more or less) for a long time. It also makes for a decent transfer point, but again, that isn’t the focus. Its not such a crazy idea when traffic isn’t bad. We have a natural bottleneck of a city, so converging to one spot (more or less) and then transferring from that spot makes sense (especially when it is such a popular destination).

        The problem is that transfers become a self fulfilling hell hole. That Lake City to Fremont trip takes forever, because buses are spending huge amounts of time in downtown traffic, or winding around trying to pick up anyone in the area who might want to get there. Just about everyone says the same thing about Metro — it is great if you are headed downtown, but terrible otherwise. By focusing on only the key areas — the most popular areas — you create a system that won’t work if folks deviate slightly from it. The end result is lots and lots of people driving from Lake City to Fremont, or even Lake City to Ballard, because even though there is a one stop route from those two neighborhoods, it spends so much time taking a round about route to get there (stopping at the Northgate Transfer Station in case anyone wants to hop on) that it really doesn’t make sense to take a bus.

        It reminds me a little of Snohomish County killing (and now finally adding back) Sunday service. If faces with a major cut back, sometimes you have to discard good service, and just run the most popular routes. That’s fine, but it means that people need a car. It also is not where we are as a city. We can afford better, and a decent grid would get us a much better system. Straighten out the routes, run them more often, and suddenly the transfer is no big deal. When you consider the elephant in the room (Link) then of course this approach makes sense. The transfer to Link should be painless — it runs (or should run) so often that you don’t need to worry about it. Run a few bus routes the same way and the perspective changes. This would be hard to afford if not for Link, but the light rail will do a lot of the heavy lifting.

        So, yeah, you could explain all to her, or just show her this:
        What exactly would she rather have than that?

  14. Among other things, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure is proposing requiring passenger trains to be equipped with seat belts in order to prevent accidents like the 103 mph Amtrak derailment we saw last month.

    This and other statements made during the T&I committee hearings has led to a Recent Column in Railway Age magazine.

    1. Seat belts prevent accidents? I suppose, in the same way that insurance prevents house fires?

    2. EU and Asian HSR routinely goes twice that speed and seem to get along fine without them.

    3. The article is hard to understand because he inverts his sentences. He says fifty things that didn’t cause it, and France and Japan don’t have these kinds of accidents. But he never seems to say what did cause it, or what France and Japan do differently, or what the solution is. So what’s the point of the article? Just to berate all the officials for not doing something that he won’t tell them what it is?

      1. It would be helpful if he said what he would like to change. Japan, for one, definitely has a very advanced signal system.

        On the other hand, it also illustrates the nonsense that goes on at the federal level, and how badly those who actually control the regulations understand what they are regulating.

  15. So wait, the first toll cutoff on I-405 is at 124th instead of 128th? This seems ill-advised to me, as it provides drivers with a financial incentive to cut across every lane when exiting rather than using the ramps that were constructed specifically to prevent drivers from cutting across every lane when exiting.

    1. Good Point.
      124th is far busier than 128th, so why create more confusion when obvious options are available?
      For the life of me, I don’t understand public agencies that work poorly with each other. I-405 is part of the National Highway system, yet WSDOT is allowed to create confusing signage for ‘either/or’ lanes, with various restrictions unknown to even Puget Sounders, and with a variety of rules and regulations even within their own sandbox (Tacoma Narrows, 520, 167, and now the 4th version of HOV/HOT lanes).
      Is anyone home at the TC to filter some of this stuff. Why not wait until they can do them all the same, or is the urge to collect traffic enforcement ticket revenue just too powerful to resist?

      1. (beating a dead horse) Here’s just one example of differences on the WSDOT website:

        Toll Rates
        SR 520 bridge toll rates
        SR 520 bridge toll rates vary by time of day and on weekends. Vehicles with more than two axles will pay a higher pro-rated toll rate. Tolls are collected on both directions on the bridge.

        Tacoma Narrows Bridge toll rates
        Tacoma Narrows Bridge toll rates vary depending on the number of axles and whether it’s paid with a Good To Go! pre-paid account, by cash or by mail. Tolls are collected only in the eastbound direction.

        SR 167 HOT Lanes toll rates
        SR 167 HOT Lanes toll rates are dynamically priced and can change based on congestion.

        I-405 express toll lane rates
        I-405 express toll lane rates are dynamically priced and can change based on congestion

        (and 167 & 405 will be different from each other) Yes, those CRAZY Toll lanes..

  16. I don’t know if this has been mentioned, but OMG, did all Metro routes get a set of SUPER ANNOYINGLY LOUD messages this weekend? It was horrible, after every stop, and way louder than the station announcements. I felt like an audible bomb was going off every few seconds. Totally unnecessary.

    1. It seems to be a disturbing trend to play constant annoying announcements to distract us from our iPhones (or in rare instances, conversations). The constant noise of these things in the tunnel has me literally shouting “shut up” when I hear them.

      People who design these things should be made to read “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut.

      (Luckily, hundreds of people feel as you do and flooded the phones and emails at Metro. The announcements have been removed for “reevaluation” aside from a few coaches that escaped deprogramming.)

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