Downtown Auburn – Wikimedia
Downtown Auburn – Wikimedia
  • 126 “Seattle style” apartments open near Auburn Station. Would you live in Auburn for $1,300/month? (DJC)
  • Most of the Montlake Triangle/Rainier Vista has reopened, including the Burke-Gilman rebuild, and Seattle Bike Blog loves it. (Thanks to this week’s transportation package, the Burke will also get $16m to fully rebuild the trail through campus.)
  • South Tacoma Way (e.g. Auto Row hell) is getting an upgrade near South Tacoma Station, with bike lanes, ADA compliant ramps, and a connection to the Water Flume Line Trail (Tacoma Weekly).
  • In a belated move that shows how auto centric digital mapping services have been, Google announced this week that it will finally add rail crossings to its map products, but only after a request from the FRA. (The Hill)
  • The Times ($) profiles 6 commuters – including a Lake Union Kayaker.
  • County Councilmember  (and ST board member) Dave Upthegrove proposes legislation to decriminalize fare evasion, make it harder to impose rider suspensions, and to eliminate the “Shoreline Rule” for adjudicating citations. Hmm, I wonder where he got the term “Shoreline Rule“? Props, Erica. (KC Press Release)
  • A transit evangelist with a pragmatic streak“, from the Times ($) endorsement of Rob Johnson for City Council District 4.

This is an open thread. Happy 4th, everyone!

91 Replies to “News Roundup: Seattle Style”

  1. I think Upthegrove’s plan makes sense. We don’t consider parking tickets a criminal matter, nor do we issue trespass orders preventing people from parking on city property because they get a few tickets. Maybe we should, but some parity would seem to be in order here.

    1. Not all fare evaders may actually be doing it to save the $2.50 either. If you don’t have an Orca card and see a train coming, knowing that you’ll likely miss the train if you fiddle with the ticket machine, it is very tempting to just jump on the train if you’re in a hurry and not bother paying. If push comes to shove, even a $124 ticket may still be preferable to missing a flight. (Unless, of course, the fare officers force you to get off the train and you end up missing your flight anyway).

      Then, there’s people who want to be honest, but just screw up and forget to tap. This is especially common for those that arrive in the downtown tunnel via a bus. I did it myself once and had to run from the train to the card reader back to the train again at a future stop to avoid the potential for being ticketed.

      1. Dumb rules are dumb.

        If you have already paid — and if you have a pass, you have done so in the most literal sense — then a fine and public shaming should not be a possibility for you.

      2. Fines for monthly pass holders would also never happen if we had fare gates or better placed card readers.

        Right now its set up for easy failure for no good reason other than “its cheaper”

      3. ST could reposition some ORCA readers to be more line-of-sight when entering and exiting, and redesign the fare-paid boundaries to look more like a doorway even without actual gates. Signs up high don’t help if you’re looking straight ahead. After people use the system a few times they often move unconsciously while thinking about something else, and putting the reader right in front of them at eye/hand level is the most reliable way to trigger an “Alarm: Must Tap” message in their brain.

      4. Sound Transit could learn something from “virtual fare gates” LA Metro uses at their at-grade stations.

        The card validators are placed in the middle of the walkway (to make them easier to notice) and there are red signs to warn passengers they’re entering the fare paid zone above the validator, on the ground in front of the validator and at eye level just past the validator.

        Check out this picture: https://flic.kr/p/vixC8J

        ST seems to like to hide their validators off to the side and make the “fare paid zone” signs look similar to all other directional/instructional signs at stations.

        Of course ST is just about to replace all their signage before UW/Capitol Hill/Angle Lake stations open, so they could take this opportunity to at least buy some more noticeable “fare paid zone” signs.

      5. A fare-paid zone will be a lot easier to implement once buses get out of the tunnel. As long as you can enter the tunnel on a bus and Link does not accept paper bus transfers, it’s going to be problematic. From talking to people, this is also when most of the forgotten taps happened.

        It used to be worse – for the first year or so after Link began operations, they had no Orca readers on the platform level, so after entering the tunnel on a bus, you were expected to trudge all the way up to the mezzanine just to tap your card, only to head right back down again where you started. In practice, almost no one did that.

      6. That god Link at least runs frequently. In other cities the dilemma of whether it’s worth risking a ticket to avoid missing a train gets a lot more serious. A few weeks ago, I made a connection from BART to CalTrain (buying a legitimate ticket) with one minute to spare. Had the BART train arrived just one minute later, I would have had to choose between either riding the CalTrain without paying or fiddling with the machine while watching the train go by, then being stuck in Millbrae for 45 minutes until the next train showed up.

        I’m guessing even a good chunk of otherwise honest people would end up jumping on the train if they were in that situation. It would be an interesting question whether the fine, multiplied by the probability of getting caught would exceed the cost of calling Lyft or Uber to avoid the wait.

    2. I’m not sure how I feel about it. Rules are rules, and when people take advantage of a hole in the system that allows them to break the rules without likely getting caught, when they do get caught I want them to feel the burn a bit. If we take the step of declaring that breaking the rules is now decriminalized, I worry about a rampant attitude of lawlessness and total disrespect for the rules among transit riders.

      1. The fact that almost everybody on STB has forgotten to tap sometimes, and several usually-diligent riders have been fined, and frequent riders have an exponentially greater risk of 1-2 fines per year even though they’re the highest-paying customers, and other cities don’t have nearly this level of unintended infringement — means that something needs to be fixed.

        It also occurs on Metro. Officially if you’re riding the E peak hours across the 145th boundary, you’re supposed to pay a two-zone fare even though the offboard readers are set to one zone. If you do what you’re supposed to — enter the front door and ask for a two-zone fare — the driver will often say to just tap the default because there are five people behind you and the bus is full and and everyone is waiting. But tapping the default makes you a fare evader criminal subject to a $124 fine if an inspector cites you. And if the driver is just going to have you tap the default anyway, it would have been more efficient to tap the offboard reader and enter by a rear door, except that at that point you don’t know whether the driver would have set it to two zones or not. Metro should just declare the E a one-zone service, because it’s the trunk route Metro wants everyone to ride, not a premium route deserving a premium fare. But in the meantime this gotcha exists, similar to Link.

      2. I think the two zone scheme is ridiculous. It should be based on cost of operation. The trolley routes which pack people in like sardines are overpriced, while the commuter routes to places like Duvall and black Diamond are underpriced. I say have two fares based on the type of service. Routes which stay in one zone or which are cost effective all day routes (like the 150, 101, rapid rides, all Seattle routes, etc) would be lower, while your routes from Seattle to far away destinations would charge a little more. These expensive routes would have to serve both Seattle and somewhere not in seattle, be peak only (usually has to deadhead somewhere), and serve (a) major employer(s) and or educational instutution.

      3. I’m a bit confused about the zones. If you have a registered ORCA card, you can go on the website set the default to 1 or 2 zones (and ST for 1 or 2 counties). What does that do? Would that override what the bus driver and/or external scanner has set?

        Personally, it doesn’t effect me since I have a U-Pass – essentially a regional pass with the highest value. But when family come to visit and use transit, I wonder if they’re getting overcharged taking the 372 from UW to Ravenna.

        Also on the RapidRide topic, what happens at stops with multiple routes? For instance the D and 32 share a long stretch of 15th Ave NW. If one taps in advance, but the 32 comes first, can they board it without tapping? Or do they have to tap again to cancel (like Link)? It’s not explained on signs at the stops.

      4. Just tap the card again at the #32 farebox. It will count as a “transfer”, so you will only be charged for one trip.

      5. I am not a hater of the two-zone system, although it admittedly is confusing. I think given there are a number of routes that are express to Seattle on one end with a local tail on the other (179, 197, 150, 101, 158/159 come to mind), I think charging a two zone fare on the express portions make sense. After all, if you want to take the 150 for two miles, or take the 179 or 197 in federal way to go to the transit center and not Seattle like people do a lot, you shouldn’t have to pay the two zone fare. But the E line thing is really a mess. They should make an exception to zoning for that one route, or have a tap on tap off system for that route. Or at the very least, have a switch on the ORCA readers at stations that let you switch zone fares.

      6. Yes, premium routes would be better than this idiotic policy that charges a two-zone fare between 130th and 155th as if that’s any way comparable to UW to Federal Way. But that system was set up decades ago when half of Metro’s routes were peak expresses to downtown, and almost all the other ones were long milk runs to downtown. Two-zone fares were in effect 24 hours for a long time until they were dropped off-peak. I have told Metro repeatedly that two-zone fares should be replaced by premium fares on the most expensive routes, but they haven’t done it.

        One problem is that not all routes are as clear-cut as just soaking the downtown-Auburn expresses. Sometimes there are two overlapping routes going to the same destination, one of which would be premium and the other not, and is that fair? For instance, the 212-219 look like premium routes, but to a large extent they provide capacity relief for the 554 which would otherwise have to run more trips. The fact that each one skips different P&Rs is a variation of the A/B stop pattern that subways sometimes use to even out capacity peak hours. So is that really a premium service or just a way to accommodate the higher peak ridership?

        Likewise, the 102 is identical to the 101 to the South Renton P&R and then has a residential tail in Fairwood. I assume half its riders get on/off at the P&R, otherwise why does it stop there? So is the 102 really a premium route to Fairwood, or is it a local route plus a 101 that are interlined for operational efficiency?

  2. Good on Dave Upthegrove – I’m not a big fan of fare evasion but when it’s disproportionately non-white fellow human beings, we have a problem. Plus the Shoreline Rule is kinda silly. Plus for people who already have a monthly pass to be fined over $100 dollars for not tapping on & off is theatre of the absurdity.

    Erica C. Barnett should run against Jessyn [ad hominem] Farrell….

    1. I fail to see what Rep. Farrell has to do with the flaws in Metro’s and Sound Transit’s fare enforcement practices.

      In contrast, Councilmember Upthegrove is partially responsible for the fact the youth fare is $1.50, 25 cents more than when he joined the council and inexplicably fifty cents more than the RRFP fare. In fairness to Councilmember Upthegrove, it was his predecessor who voted to raise the youth fare from 75 cents to $1.25, shortly before publicly complaining about how much a $20 annual car tab would hurt poor families. The youth fare has doubled in the past four years, or gone up $384 for 12 monthly passes.

      I’m delighted that some watchdog groups noticed the problem with too many African-American children being banned from the bus for the crime of being broke, and brought it to a councilmember’s attention. But the underlying problem starts with the county taking kids’ lunch money. That’s something Councilmember Upthegrove could address, to the benefit of all the transit-dependent families in the county, including the ones who have been forking over their kids’ lunch money just to get around.

      1. Good comments about the Youth fare Brent.

        I’d like to see Farrell fired for her starring role in the ST3 fiasco – $500 million payout all for the educational industrial complex? That’s far out ell sellout to me.

        I wish the request was never placed of Sound Transit in the first place. I would rather see the money spent wisely – i.e. on transit needs.

      2. I responded to your near-identical comment on the Farrell post.

        Clearly, fare enforcement and your disagreement with Rep. Farrell have no relation to each other, so let’s keep that discussion over there, if you don’t mind.

      1. X2

        Just before the 100 degree weather hit, the last TriMet route I regularly take that used non-air cond buses was changed to newer equipment. Low floors too, finally!

    1. They deserve to work at a place not run by people who make such terrible decisions.

    2. It also sucks for passengers. At least the bus drivers have a window next to them for ventilation (right?) I was on a 75 yesterday where the air conditioning was “malfunctioning”. It would turn on for 3 seconds whenever the front door opened at a stop, then shut off. And the windows didn’t have handles so they couldn’t be opened. That was an unpleasant trip from Northgate to U Village.

      1. Rode a couple of the new short air-conditioned coaches yesterday, really liked them and drivers said they do too.

    1. It sounds like the Market needs to think more about vendor parking, because vendors obviously need to bring their materials in a car and leave it parked while they’re open. The market should really have a vendor parking plan, and if it does something like raising all parking rates it should explicitly address the impacts to vendors.

    2. I would expect most of the deliveries could happen during the early morning hours while the vendors are setting up, but the customers aren’t there yet. The public parking lot should be mostly empty at that time, allowing plenty of space for temporary parking to unload merchandise.

  3. I talked to Rob Johnsen on the 76 a few days ago. I was quite impressed. Besides being pro transit, pro density, and pro workers’ rights, he also struck me as the sort of person who could collaborate with anyone. He’s going to need to work with a lot of people who are coming with very different views. There is a visceral response in most people to those they think appose their views. I got the feeling that Rob will be effective at easing people past that response into discussion about shared interests and cooperation.

  4. Downtown Auburn is a vastly underused resource.

    First of all, the old it’s a veritable hipster paradise, frozen in the 1950s, with a shopping street that still has hardware and clothing stores.

    Then there’s the area near Sounder. Lots of new and somewhat trendy bars and restaurants.

    To top it all off, not only is this a Sounder station, and a hub for buses, but it’s right on the Interurban Trail, a cyclist’s dream!

    And, you’ve got plenty of nature preserves nearby.

    1. Yeah I love those old railway downtowns, Auburn and Sumner etc, but $1300 studios are insane when you can nearly get a house for that down there. I pay less than that for 800 sq ft in Central Seattle, adjacent to a huge park and 1/2 mile from ULink.

      1. Well, you used to get a house for that…but everything decent around is now $400K.

        Sure there are teardowns for cheap, but (as I have been finding out through personal experience) the banks and realtors (and multiple bidders) will do everything possible to make sure you don’t get those bargains. And you would still have to add maybe $100K or more to make them habitable.

        No, it’s not just Seattle, but a good deal of Washington State that has gone sky high. About the only thing that can cure it would be more building, especially of apartments, to relieve the pressure, and the in fill of suburbs and rural areas (and maybe some mansion busting) to add more smaller houses and townhomes so people can buy in again. (Oh, and we need to figure out how to keep everyone from moving here).

      2. There are, in fact, entire houses near downtown Auburn for rent in the $1300 range.

        John and Zach are both correct — quite the alignment of stars! — that Auburn has lots of potential. The historic center is just intact enough, just charming (yet non-twee) enough, and just extensive enough to provide a real foothold for renewed, desirable, and semi-self-contained commuter-town growth.

        The scale of the town and the potential for some self-sufficiency are key, because while Auburn provides a very reasonable commute to Seattle, it is simply too far to economically or culturally commune with the center city on an all-day basis, in the way a classic first-ring suburb would. It is Morristown, not Hoboken. Naperville, not Oak Park. Manassass, not Alexandria.

        But man… those “Seattle style” apartment prices!

        I live in the epicenter of Ballard, in an ample unit in a historic building, and I pay less than that.

        My ex lives in a 21st-century low-rise (non-breadloaf) building north of Market, even more ample and with its own contemporary charms, and she pays less than that.

        No one will (or should) pay that much to live in a formulaic 5-over-1 in Auburn.

        It is past time for the “market purists” among the pro-growth factions to take a seriously hard look at their flawed presumptions of elasticity, and at the financing system that so inflates the cost of these large-lot amalgamated mega-projects. Price-setting in larger new constructions clearly has nothing whatsoever to do with the supposedly rigid “rules” of supply and demand. But it can have the detrimental corollary consequence of putting price pressure on surrounding properties, especially those managed by imperfect humans.

      3. Woodstock is actually my choice for a Auburn analog in the Chicago area, not least because of this sign (probably an actual building by now, but last I saw it was just a sign), which might have been pulled straight out of Seattle (note “Historic brownstones” in a brand new development probably 40 miles from the nearest brownstone — we recently had “Vintage new homes” in the Alderwood-ish area).

        Even so, there are lots of people out there with practical reasons to live in Woodstock (or the far-northwest ‘burbs generally), and just like some of ’em want a piece of the country, some of ’em want a piece of Chicago. Not everyone is as discerning as d.p. regarding value and authenticity. Hopefully the building is well-built enough not to be a total dump in 30 years. Duplicate this paragraph with Seattle/Auburn details filled in, except around here it’s more likely the building will degrade to a total dump in 30 years.

      4. I’m really not being judgmental here (though I wouldn’t choose to live in a value-overstated 5-over-1 anywhere).

        My sole point is that the asking price of $1300 (and up), for these type of units, in a location like Auburn, does not compute!

        Auburn is cheaper than that, and will remain so for the forseeable future.

      5. Why on earth would people pay $1150/month for a studio in Auburn, even if it is next to the train station??? So you can walk to the neighborhood redneck bar and the Safeway? People stupid enough to pay that price for a studio in Auburn almost deserve to be perpetually poor. Heck, you could probably find a whole house in that same neighborhood for under $1,000 per month – split the rent with a roommate for $500 per month. Completely idiotic.

      6. John Bailo, there are plenty of homes in Auburn for well below $400k that are perfectly habitable and do not require $100k in improvements.
        Zillow ID: 49097698 ($238,000)
        MLS #798434 ($190,000)
        Zillow ID: 48981366 ($260,000)
        MLS #776058 ($329,000)

        These are just a few of the listings that I took about 30 seconds to find that are within a reasonable biking distance to Auburn Station and not up one of the hills. I’d classify all of them as at least decent, if not better. Sure, they aren’t “modern” or “new” and can’t compete with homes at the $400k price point you specify (nope, no 5-piece master suites or kitchens with granite countertops), but these are nice homes that my family would have been envious of when I was growing up.

        I’d love it if every home in Auburn was valued at over $400k. Then, I could sell my home and relocate, and make a very nice profit on the sale. With prices like these, why, again, would anybody be willing to pay $1150 per month to RENT a studio in Auburn???

  5. The referendum in Vancouver about transit has failed by 61.68% of people saying “no.”

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/transit-referendum-voters-say-no-to-new-metro-vancouver-tax-transit-improvements-1.3134857

    The reason why it failed because of governance at TransLink which has no accountability to anyone. This should tell the Provincial Liberals that TransLink needs to be changed by redoing the law for more accountability in the governance of TransLink, but no it doesn’t, the mayors and general public is saying this. The Provincial Government says to mayors it is your problem to fix but by law they cannot fix TransLink. So basically, Metro Vancouver has gotten nowhere and weaken the Metro Vancouver relationship with the Provincial Government.

  6. The Inevitable, Indispensable Property Tax

    The main way taxes harm the economy is by causing people to change their behavior. Raising the income tax can cause people to work less; a higher sales tax can make people spend less. But the only way to avoid a property tax increase is to sell your property, and even then, you have to find a buyer who’s willing to take on the tax burden you’re giving up.

    Real property is an excellent tax base because it can’t be moved and it lasts a long time. In the case of land, it usually lasts forever. We, as economic actors, cannot respond to a higher tax on land by reducing the amount of land that exists. We may change what buildings to construct and where, but once a building exists, it’s not likely to move in response to tax changes.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/05/business/the-inevitable-indispensable-property-tax.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=0&abt=0002&abg=1

    1. Property tax is a reasonable approximation of a wealth tax, especially in the current era where landowners have just gotten a windfall. And more generally the rich have redirected an unprecedented share of money to themselves even when the value was created by others (i.e., workers), and they have put that money into real estate. There should be some concession for those in the smallest houses/condos who may not be able to afford a tax increase, but those in larger houses can always move to a smaller house if they can’t afford to pay a tax on their windfall.

      1. Except property owners are protected to some degree by Tim eyman initiatives that limit property tax growth. And income tax is scaled so that those on the bottom end pay a smaller rate than those on top.

  7. The Google blurb above is a mischaracterization. The article says that the FRA has asked a number of navigation sites/companies to add the data. While it may be a “what took so long?” there’s nothing to suggest that Google had previously been resistant, if anything, the article seems to suggest that Google’s going to get it done before the others.

    1. The intent was just to say that it’s strange that railways were not considered for inclusion as vital infrastructure in the first place, by Google or anyone else.

      1. Your editorial remark is still very questionable.

        Railroads have been depicted on various online maps (including Google’s) for a long time. Just as on many printed city maps, their inclusion mostly helps people orient themselves or make sense of the shape of the road network in some places — people riding or operating trains need more information. The changes outlined in the article mostly appear to be about using this data in a new way… to help drivers using turn-by-turn navigation.

      2. They’ve been on the maps. They have’t been part of voice navigation.

        The goal here is to keep people from turning onto railroad tracks or otherwise doing stupid stuff while following voice navigation.

        People turning onto tracks while following voice navigation has been an issue in several collisions.

      3. I think even AAA maps list railroad tracks if you squint hard enough, while bike/pedestrian path are ignored completely.

        Sometimes, it’s fun looking at maps that do the reverse, where the Burke-Gilman trail is prominent, while I-5 is a faint line, no more useful to a cyclist than railroad tracks are to a car driver.

      4. Who on earth thinks that mapping software is infallible? Enough that you turn first, and then look to see where the car is going later?

        I can’t begin to count how many times my navigation software has tried to send me down power line roads.

        Driverless cars, indeed.

        It’s hard enough keeping the people without GPS off the tracks.

    1. I can’t believe they made East Link blue and North-South Link red. It should be the other way around because East Link is more affluent/Republican and the south end is more working-class/Democratic.

      1. ‘Eh, red was for Ds before it was for Rs, and pink was for boys before it was for girls, too.

        Anyway I don’t know of an arena where self-professed progressives disagree with working-class and poor people more reflexively than Seattle-area transit, so any form of political identity confusion is probably representative.

      2. Politics aside, I too am baffled as to why the line to the Airport becomes the Red Line, given that on all current maps/etc. it’s depicted as blue. Would have made a heck of a lot more sense to keep the “current” (albeit extended) line the Blue Line and make the new line to Bellevue/Redmond the Red Line.

      3. @Kacie, there’re actually some maps (e.g. the Sound Transit system map at Overlake TC) where the current Link line is shown as red. They’re definitely a minority, though.

      4. Thank you, I’d forgotten about that map (which has Tacoma Link colored purple and Sounder South and North as two barely different shades of green). I think that’s the only place I’ve seen Link as not blue though, but feel free to correct me again. (Obviously I’m counting the teal-ish color on the Metro maps as a shade of blue.)

      5. It has become stereotypical for the most popular/robust line to be known as the Red Line, the second best line the Blue Line, next up is the Green Line, or maybe the Orange Line, and then on down the list of primary and secondary colors.

        Sound Transit is just copying everyone else (ie Boston, Chicago, DC, LA). Personally, I’d rather keep the current named lines until there were at least 5 lines.

      6. With a mere 2x the passengers of Link, the Blue Line is by far Boston’s weakest.

        (The next weakest, the Orange Line, has 5x Link’s numbers.)

    2. University Street, University of Washington and U District Stations? Really? I’m perplexed that ST would insane enough to name three stations with “University.”

      This ranks up there with signs advising riders at Westlake Station to the Mezzanine instead of a clear “EXIT” or “WAY OUT SIGN.”. Why not sign transit riders to “EXIT” or in the Skytrain (TransLink) language “Way Out?”

      1. Given our general naming scheme University Street is probably the one to rename, I guess…

        In Chicago the station announcement would just be, “This is University.” Here it’s, “Now approaching University Street Station,” which buries the important information in the middle of a bunch of boilerplate. We say, “Street,” because we’re going off-scheme by naming the station after a street; the “Now approaching” and “Station” bits are indefensible.

        The worst station name in our system is Westlake. It’s named for a mall and park that sit on the former ROW of Westlake Ave. There is a Westlake neighborhood a couple miles north of there (west of Lake Union) but because now the three most prominent places in Seattle with Westlake in their names (the mall, the park, the DSTT station) are near 5th/Pine, there’s effectively a second one. This is exactly what names should not do. Maybe in a generation we’ll rename the neighborhood west of Lake Union (as it’s not a particularly “sticky” place).

  8. I’m headed north on the 594.

    I’m slowly getting the hang of OBA.

    It was mildly annoying to have to go through several Tacoma Dome stops on the map (the different bays) in order to get the right departure. For a minute there it looked like I would have to go to Federal Way or the airport first.

    It makes me really appreciate the integrated trip planner and arrival times app developed for Portland called PDXbus.

    1. Don’t know why people continue to use OBA when there are several much better alternatives using the same RTA data.

      1. At least for a visual thinker, who will use map-point-based intuitive planning rather than any sort of narrative trip calculator, OBA is still far superior in Seattle than any of the global alternatives (Moovit, Transit App, etc).

        Having tried out the competing apps while traveling, then compared their functioning elsewhere to here, they seem well suite for rationalized systems but problematic for complex and duplicative ones, prioritizing ordinally to the point of giving you irrelevant options at distant stops before your desired route at the stop right next to you.

        Furthermore, OBA’s design by a local has allowed it to tailor its display to help Metro-acquainted riders reverse-engineer any flawed Metro data that no programmer can overcome themself. Thus, “minutes late” is a crucial data point, as anyone familiar with Metro’s schedule padding or the “pole problem” can identify and compensate for many quirks.

        Lateness calculations are conspicuously absent from the other apps.

      2. I have tried to use “Transit” in downtown Seattle and found it completely inscrutable. In OBA it’s at least possible to narrow down on the information I want.

        I think two relatively small tweaks would improve OBA without breaking the way it’s weirdly suited to weird Seattle:

        1. Collapse each multi-bay transit center into a single icon on the map; then within the list of arrivals, include the bay number/letter. I might exclude Campus Parkway, because the “bays” are right on the street and really spread out (i.e. it’s not really that similar to a multi-bay transit center). This might not be super easy (it would require maintenance of data from outside Metro/ST, but not a huge volume of data).

        2. Use a second color or icon to represent all the “special” stations: transit centers and DSTT stations, along with median Link stations, and maybe median streetcar stops. This would allow users to visually discard the irrelevant information at a glance.

      3. +1 on both points. With regards to 2), the special color is especially important for the downtown transit tunnel, as the huge number of stops downtown makes it difficult to find.

        It would be even better, course, if we could get cell service in the stations and on Link trains so you could actually use OneBusAway when you’re down there.

        It will only become more important in a year, as there will many trips where the outcome of OneBusAway determines whether you wait at this stop for this bus or that stop for that bus, or call home and ask for a ride.

      4. ““minutes late” is a crucial data point, as anyone familiar with Metro’s schedule padding or the “pole problem” can identify and compensate for many quirks.”

        Is Metro really less punctual than other cities?

      5. Some yes, some no.

        But Metro absolutely has dumber data. Apps don’t need to let you compensate for a “5 minutes away” bus (actually just around the corner) in cities without asinine padding. They just need to tell you how close the reality-bus is.

        But again, it’s mostly system complexity that renders many of the universal apps so impossivle to use here.

    2. Glenn, you can search by route and it’ll show only the stops for that route with its path. Don’t know which platform you’re using but the iOS version lets you choose from “route”, “address”, and “stop #” when you tap the search field at the top of the screen in Map mode.

      1. Problem is, I didn’t know the route. I just knew I wanted anything going towards Seattle from downtown Tacoma or Tacoma Dome.

  9. “Would you live in Auburn for $1,300/month?”

    The real question is, “What does south King County need?” Most STB readers have strong job/cultural ties to Seattle and would be travelling back and forth often, so they’d look at it as relative to a $1600 Seattle apartment (or $2100 new/luxury Seattle apartment) and how the cost compares to a longer trip and fewer local destinations. But there’s over 800,000 people in south King County (more than Seattle), and many of them don’t go to Seattle very often. How many of them would want to live in a walkable neighborhood near a regional transit station. Even a small percent would be a significant number of people, and that’s why south King County needs more and larger urban villages. And better intra-subarea transit, and better transit to Tacoma.

    1. Yeah, but you can rent an entire house for that, a couple of blocks away.

      Even those of us with zero desire for a house would have trouble defending the cost/value inputs there.

    2. How many houses is that? Less than ten probably. The other same-priced houses are a mile or more away, maybe near the 164 or maybe near nothing. So they’re not really a choice.

      1. Others nearby are only marginally more expensive.

        You are missing the point for the sake of equivocation, and missing the forest for the trees. These units have been grossly inflated in price by forces unrelated to demand. That’s a serious problem for finding an eager audience, or pursing the desirable effects of scalability in a promising location.

        See also: the Rainier Valley.

      2. The high prices for are because the inventory is extremely low. For some reason people have practically stopped selling their houses/condos. The explanation used to be that the owners were underwater, but now that house prices have mostly come back I don’t understand why that problem hasn’t disappeared, or why else people aren’t selling. Either this price spike is a blip until people start selling again, or people are now holding on to their houses for far longer than they used to.

        If they are holding on to them for longer, then how long? Surely in 10 or 20 years at least some of them will have been sold. That would bring the turnover up to, if not the historic level, than at least something in between, and dampen the price increases.

      3. There are non-supply/demand factors in the price of new apartments in Ballard and Auburn. It would be worth describing them specifically and what can be done about them, if you know.

      4. Funny how that map has fuck-all to do with Link-adjacent 5-over-1 “node” explosions.

        Nobody is claiming that SE Seattle isn’t experiencing a wave of gentrification, radiating in all directions from the historic center of Columbia City and decreasing in intensity the further it gets.

        But the fact remains that the sole overpriced large-lot 5-over-1 project at Othello has been a spectacular failure, and that the Rainier Beach node won’t even see attempts at “new urbanist” profiteering.

        So no, the prices at such megaprojects are not set by “pure” market forces, and yes, those hoping for sustainable growth in growth-worthy locations should be looking beyond the levers that would place undue emphasis on them as lynchpins and bellwethers.

      5. Your article admits that poorly-thought-through retail spaces, which remain unrented to this day, inflated construction costs in a way that raised the break-even point of the project’s residential spaces.

        Which they eventually were forced to drop closer to the genuine market rate for the area. Begrudgingly. And likely at a loss.

        We’ll see if they learn from their mistakes with the next phase (as they’re spun it to “Bizjournals”), though we’re 2 years past the filing and that project appears to be in no particular hurry.

        Perhaps the land acquisition represents such a sunk cost that the investors feel obligated to proceed, whether or not the demand exists to charge break-even rents.

        Regardless, this is hardly evidence of the smashing success of deep-debt megablock 5-over-1 assemblages in less pricey parts of the city and region.

      6. I genuinely enjoy the coffee shop in the trailer, though. That’s pretty cool. Rent from that must totally be mitigating the accruing debt on all that land the Othello Station developers amassed.

      7. The Times today has an article that finally elaborates on the reasons for the low inventory. ‘The shortage, [John L Scott CEO Lennox] Scott said, stems from ”
        virtually no new condominiums, virtually no new single-family lots near the job centers, people moving on average every 10 years instead of every six years, and sellers hesitating until they find their replacement home.” King County has less tham a month’s supply of single-family homes and condominums for sale from March to May, according to a Seattle Times analysis of MLS data…. far below the historical average of about three months’ supply.”

        I’m not sure I quite buy that we need a lot more new single-family houses, especially if that means low density greenfield development, but it suggests that the problem with apartment scarcity is paralleled by house/condo scarcity, so maybe we need to build those too. I would say people don’t need brand-new houses, they can get used houses, except that there aren’t hardly any used houses available.

    1. ($ summary: Seattle has a tower-spacing rule that bascally says, if one property on a block get a 40-story permit, then all other buildings on the block will have to be shorter or have a minimum distance between buildings, to preserve the block’s light/view/airflow quality.)

      Yes. I was concerned about its density-limiting nature. But if it’s really similar to what Vancouver has rather than more restrictive, then maybe it’s the most we can expect.

    2. I understand the objection to tall towers. There are cities all over the world that achieve very good density patterns with just lots of lower buildings.

      Many cities in Europe would probably scream in protest at 40 floor towers too.

      1. It’s interesting to go through Crntralia or Raymond or any number of other cities that have retained their old downtowns. Going through Centralia today on the train I realized there is something two or so blocks from the station that must be a 5 floor or so retail / residential multi use structure.

        Raymond has several huge apartment buildings along the former route of 101.

        Enough of those and we might get somewhere.

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