The joint ST/Metro planning open houses began on Tuesday at Union Station in Seattle.
Sound Transit is looking for feedback on a potential ST3 measure (which could be affected by the current stalemate in Olympia on a transportation package). The board will consider public input in less than a month, on July 15; we should expect an updated project list in August, and a draft plan should be ready by the spring of 2016. Now is a good time to make your voice heard.
Metro, for its part, is starting some long-range planning. As per their website, one piece of feedback they’re looking for is how to allocate service between express, local, and frequent routes. Frequent service appeared to have the most support at Tuesday’s meeting. Metro intends to have a final long-range plan in the back half of 2016.
Check out the event calendar for an upcoming workshop near you.
Mike Orr contributed to this report.
12 Replies to “Joint Metro/ST Open Houses Begin”
“Sound Transit is looking for feedback” may not be entirely the case if they want to keep using informational boards that ask no questions or create any openings for conversation, and they continue to have their staff just stand around next to them with nary a “dot” sticker for rating anything or a notepad for them to capture public comments on. They could do a MUCH BETTER job…
Are both the Move Seattle and ST3 measures aiming to be on the same 2016 ballot? If so, I’m afraid voters will start looking at the cumulative cost/person-family in the Seattle districts if both pass. It could siphon support away from ST3.
Move Seattle is planning to be November 2015. ST3 is November 2016 alongside a housing levy. The city is spacing things year by year to avoid too many at once, and it’s making room for ST3 by putting Move Seattle in a different year.
The “Frequent” definition is like RapidRide frequent: 10-15 minutes for 20 hours a day or such. That was on the posters but it doesn’t seem to be on the website. I’ve written to Metro to ask for the posters to be online, but they probably won’t see it till Monday. The Express definition is 15-30 minutes for a shorter span, and “like ST Express” with stops every half mile or mile. (So in the city it would be like the 522 Bothell Way or 550 Bellevue Way.) The Local definition is 30-60 minutes. All three scenarios are combinations of these, allocating the same service hours in different proportions. This would replace both the current all-day network and the peak network.
When I saw the frequent map I thought, “That’s right where I’ve been wanting frequent routes.” North Seattle has a very good grid, and the rest of the city and suburbs have about the level of service I would draw. Basically where core all-day routes are now, there would be frequent routes, including Admiral/Alki, KDM/KK Road and Benson Road in Kent, 148th in Bellevue, etc. (It would more or less fulfill Bellevue’s transit master plan.)
The Express scenario has five frequent north-south routes in north Seattle: 15th W (to Northgate/Lake City), Aurora, Roosevelt (to Lake City/Bothell), 35th NE, and Sand Point Way (north of 65th only). East-west would have frequent routes on Northlake/Leary Way, 45th, NW 85th/NE 65th, Holman Road, and 145th. Central/South Seattle has a frequent route on 23rd/Rainier/Renton Ave (to Renton), Madison, Broadway/Beacon (from Aloha). West Seattle on Delridge, 35th, and California (to Admiral). All other Seattle routes would be Express or Local. “Express” includes ST routes, and “Local” includes alternative service (operated by nonprofits with limited Metro support). There are some oddities: does it really intend two 15-30 minute express routes from Enumclaw (one to Auburn and one to Renton), a 15-30 minute Highway 18 route from Federal Way to Snoqualmie, and a 15-30 minute express route to North Bend? These must be peak-only, surely? That’s a heckuva lot of service hours right there. While I often clamor more all-day expresses, I want it on top of a complete local network, not a skeletal local network. And I have realized the past couple years that frequent makes up for express to a large extent, and when I’m in other cities I generally choose the most frequent line if the fastest one is less frequent.
And express service is Sound Transit’s specialty, so shouldn’t Metro focus on something complementary rather than the same? The map says people will “drive to a P&R or bike to a bus stop”. Huh? Is that a way to get from Greenwood to West Seattle? Drivers will just stay in their car the whole way (except for cases where they use P&Rs now), and forcing everybody to use a bicycle to get to transit means it would leave a lot of people out who won’t do that. (Would there be citywide Pronto?)
The Local scenario is like what we have now expanded. There would be fewer frequent routes than now, but they would have a longer frequent span. Local routes would include such goodies as N 50th St, NW 65th St, NE 75th St, several routes in Magnolia/Interbay/north Queen Anne, etc. This would be the worst scenario: it’s our past rather than our future. People would avoid the infrequent routes the way they avoid 30-minute routes now; they would stay in their cars. There would be more routes possibly, closer to you and possibly going in your direction, but if they’re not going in your direction or it’s a two-seat ride, forget it unless you can latch on to one of the frequent routes.
I really, really wish Metro would get better with its PDF creation tools. Or at least a smartphone with a camera and an upload button. This is what bothers me the most about these public outreach meetings: plans are discussed and batted around, while those of us who can’t make it to the meetings (like night shift folks such as myself who are generally asleep during the meetings, yet have nobody to clamor for improved service for us) either can’t see the presentations or have no idea they existed in the first place. The latter, of course, is less of an issue with so many STBers going.
Metro has finally put PDF copies of their timetables on their website and it only took me two public records requests to motivate them. I wonder if I’ll need to make PRA requests for every single presentation Metro does from now until the heat death of the universe.
Tristan Cook from Metro replied and said the information is on PDF maps which are under the “View a map” link on each scenario page. The legend at the bottom of the maps say,
Frequent Service: Buses every 10 to 15 minutes/4 to 6 trips
per hour; 20 hours per day
Express Service: Buses every 15 to 30 minutes/2 to 4 trips
per hour; 15 hours per day
Local Service (includes alternative services): Buses every 30
to 60 minutes/1 to 2 trips per hour; 18 hours per day
I went to the Seattle 5:30 meeting. Some thoughts:
* The ST staff on hand were really insistent that feedback be delivered ONLY by the feedback sheets of paper they had on hand. You really had to force the issue to give them feedback.
* I asked each ST staff about the fake Ballard population numbers, and they’re all aware of the problem (thankfully) and said the PSRC should have updated stats in July. (They apparently are a month behind their promised release date). They seem to also be aware of the ridiculous Everett numbers too.
* None of the Ballard-DT options are totally underground. All of them are either at grade, or a combination of elevated and tunnel.
* Most of the staff was very blasé about grade separation in the city. Grade separation is something we’re going to have to fight really hard for.
Overall, I wouldn’t recommend going to these meetings. I can’t imagine they’re putting more weight on the paper feedback sheets than the online survey and the staff didn’t seem that receptive to in person feedback.
I brought up the PSRC issue with Metro staff too, and one of them said that while this long-term plan is based on PSRC’s numbers, Metro’s shorter-term decisions are based on the actual population changes and trends. He said that the PSRC is eager to correct any oversights and is working to update the population stats. I mentioned that in particular, Ballard-Fremont and Lake City should have been designated urban centers and get the commensurate level of transit. However, somebody said earlier it’s up to King County to designate them as such, and King County has a formula that focuses too much on job numbers and that’s what those two can’t clear, So it may require them to amend the formula or make an exception, and Totem Lake and Woodinville may not be too enthusiastic about giving Seattle an exception and drawing “their” future population to the city and making it harder for them to get Link.
Regarding ST, there was no new news other than the timeline details, so I didn’t even try to give feedback there, because I want to think it over futher and write it up rather than making a few lame statements verbally.
Actual growth can hurt the case for urban center designation. As long as there’s lots of under-developed land, there is oodles of ‘developable’ capacity. But every time somebody builds a residential building, it gets harder to make the case for ‘jobs capacity’.
Issaquah is in the queue for urban center designation. Downtown Kirkland is thinking about it, as are others. I wonder if said designation will become less valuable over time. If everywhere is a priority for regional investments, then those investments will get spread ever more thinly.
Why in God’s name do we have “residential buildings”, “commercial buildings”, etc.?
This is *not how they did it* in the 19th century. They built buildings. As demand shifted, the buildings shifted purpose from commercial to residential and back. We still *do* this sort of conversion, but it now has lots of red tape associated with it.
Industrial buildings have always been special, but we’re not talking industrial here.
I hereby dub the Federal Way – Snoqualmie route the “Bailo Express”, and decree that it shall terminate at the North Bend factory stores. In the longer term it can be upgraded to high-speed rail. Since Sound Transit can’t go past Issaquah, Metro will take over the 554 and extend it to North Bend to meet it while it plans a Metro-funded Link extension. And all the people in North Bend clapped joyfully and said, “Do you know the way to San Jose? La la la la la, la la la la.”
We should also tell Metro any other criteria we want in a 2040 plan. What to we want?
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