Photo by Oran
Photo by Oran

This is an open thread.

249 Replies to “News Roundup: Spite Votes”

    1. It seems like the pendulum is swinging from one extreme to the other.

      From the Densifiers to the Super NIMBYs.

      The choice is presented either 100 sq. ft. apodments or $1.5 million Craftsmen homes.

      Few remember, but at one time an attraction of Seattle, among other things, was its ability to find rational solutions, and moderated consensus.

      Those old Swedish good government types must be long gone. Make way for the hotheads.

      1. Yes, the “ultra-densifiers”… who gave us the 2-block walk from the light-rail station into houses-only zoning.

        The “ultra-densifiers”… who kept duplexes banned from over 90% of the city.

        The “ultra-densifiers”… who gave us 6,000 new housing units in a year where the city added 20,000 new jobs.

      2. From the Densifiers to the Super NIMBYs. The choice is presented either 100 sq. ft. apodments or $1.5 million Craftsmen homes.

        Wake me up when it no longer occurs that every single multifamily building proposed for the city is not protested by almost every nearby resident. Or when my Craftsman house hits $1.5m in valuation. Either works for me.


        It is a vicious circle. Smaller houses on smaller lots are the logical solution to the problem of affordability, yet ­density—­and less affluent ­neighbors—­are precisely what most communities fear most. In the name of fighting sprawl, local zoning boards enact regulations that either require larger lots or restrict development, or both.

        These strategies decrease the ­supply—­hence, increase the ­cost—­of developable land. Since builders pass the cost of lots on to buyers, they justify the higher land prices by building larger and more expensive houses—McMansions. This produces more community resistance, and calls for yet more restrictive regulations. In the process, housing affordability becomes an even more distant ­chimera.

  1. Darn, those pesky Mercer Islanders, I hate them!

    How can they not see that the proposed bus intercept loop route won’t affect their downtown!?! I mean heeeelllooo all you need is a 5min Google maps search to accurately determine future impact!

    They need to just bend over for us off-islanders, cause ya know we are much smarter than those people anyway! For the greater good!

    1. If they are afraid of transit riders on the island, why are they allowing a light rail station to be build there at all? (I’m not talking about all Mercer Islanders, just the ones hating on transit.)

      1. They don’t want busses looping through their downtown all day.

        So less about transit riders and more about infrastructure constrictions.

      2. The plan was to loop buses around the station, which is in the middle of a freeway, not send them into Mercer Island’s downtown, such as it is. My impression is that some Mercer Islanders are afraid of having a downtown area, and that looping express buses around this station in the middle of a freeway will somehow cause these bus riders to frequent the downtown area several blocks away.

      3. As many have advocated here against plopping a stop in Shoreline (given the animosity towards upzoning near NE 185th St), why not advocate the same on Mercer Island? If Mercer Island is unwilling to reasonably play well in this matter, cut your losses and simply run Link across the island without a station. The money saved could be applied to project change orders and any right-of-way issues that may or may not arise in Bellevue.

      4. Apologies. Islanders tend to call their town center “downtown” on occasion.

        A portion of the loop does travel through a developing area of the town center, which is a concern of island residents.

        Transit riders on island? Less so. You’ll still find dated anti-off islander views, just like you can still find dated view points in Seattle.

        My impression is the loop has caused more outrage, buti suppose we’ll see what happens.

      5. Cy, that group sued the city this week. I live about 0.75 mi from the 185th station.

      6. Maybe if the Shoreline neighborhoods aren’t willing to budge on more density, ST should pull out and focus on 130th.

      7. I was thinking the same thing. Is the imposition of a transfer to go east on a bus really what they want? If a less-direct bus->train path from Issaquah to downtown (which would induce more off-islanders to drive and park at Mercer Island) really what the want?

        If they really want to get pissy about this, maybe ST really should play hardball and send the train right on through island without stopping. They can use the existing P&R for carpool and vanpool.

      8. “Among other issues the petition states that the City erred in that although the EIS’ for the 185th and 145th Station areas and the Lynnwood Link projects are all interrelated, the City failed to analyze the “cumulative impacts” of all to each other in their environmental documentation. The petition states “In one stroke of the pen, the City Council has radically transformed a City which prides itself on livability and quality of life, good schools, and a breathing and continuous canopy of trees, into a dense urban center not unlike South Lake Union or West Seattle.“

        WHAT?!! A South Lake Union in Shoreline??? That’s the most ridiculous hyperbole I’ve heard this year. Can we have a South Lake Union in Northgate instead, please? As for a West Seattle in Shoreline, that must be referring to the few blocks of lowrises at the Junction, not the small-lot bungalows throughout the penninsula. Shoreline’s lots are already larger than that.

        Oh, and Shoreline, we really, really, really, really want that 130th station. Would you help us get it? An upzone there could take some pressure off 185th, you know.

  2. I love how the concern trolls praise the idea of requiring endangered species preserves in front of houses near Capitol Hill Station, as if that were ecosystemically feasible. Stopping developers will stop humans from procreating. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

  3. The fairly new electronic Bus Time board at NB Campus Parkway stop has not been working for about a month. The one at Northgate stopped working years ago. What gives?

  4. I completely disagree that South Bellveue as a truncation point is “objectively inferior and mobility damaging” – in fact quite the opposite.

    South Bellevue is a better transfer point for one key reason: it will serve both north-south and east-west corridors.

    More concretely, it is currently impossible to transfer between the 554 (the core east-west route) and the 560 (north-south). This means, for example that trips between Issaquah and Renton have to use the 240, which is 20 minutes slower to get to south Bellevue. Additionally most future transit plans involve service improvements on 405 south – it would be absurd if the Eastgate and Issaquah-bound busses compeley bypassed any connection with those improvements.

    In comparison, while South Bellevue has a number of all-day routes with connectivity to many parts of the Eastside, Mercer island has exactly one all-day route, which I doubt will be a common-transferred route for Issaquah riders.

    Also importantly, assuming the 271 restructure ever happens (truncate at Eastgate, since the tail is very unproductive), the only off-peak way to get between Issaquah and Bellevue would be a transfer to the slow 271 at Eastgate, or, go to MI and then backtrack to Bellevue on Link, which will likely be frustrating to riders.

    There are only 2, minor drawbacks with South Bellevue (if I recall total travel times and service hours saved were roughly the same):

    1. It makes Issaquah – MI trips slower, which is compeley acceptable IMHO compared to the many other more frequent destinations.

    2. Busses from the I-90 HOV onramp at Eastgate PR have to move across several lanes to exit for Bellevue Way. However, this is already being done today for the 556, so clearly it’s an acceptable risk. (Plus, if the concern is just the total #of busses that would do this, you can have many of the routes get off at Factoria Blvd, which is already a service pattern for the 555 for example.)

    1. North/south connections.

      A better dialogue than senseless criticizing of Mercer Island by this blog.

      Thank you.

      1. Search, and you will find several sensible discussions about Mercer Island and north/south/east/west connections on this blog. Forcing all the connections to occur at South Bellevue Station requires either some severe freeway reconstruction or long roundabout trips, stuck in gridlock, for east/west bus routes.

        What about the transfer proposal at Mercer Island do you find to be a bad idea?

      2. Transfer on Mercer island conceptually is fine when focused on east/west.

        The present design/proposal? Let’s get back to the drawing board.

      3. See below.

        By the way I love the “OH YEAH!?! Show me what YOU GOT INSTEAD”. Its an easy way to win a discussion without actually doing anything.

        Quick question, when the original concept was presented, and reviewed by this blog. Did you instantly agree with it with out question?

      4. No, I didn’t agree without question. I saw a beautifully-designed map, saw how little time would be wasted travelling to distant layover spots (meaning a high ratio of productive revenue service to deadheading or slogging through downtown), saw how little transfer penalty there would be, saw how this kept buses away from any neighborhoods that might be offended, and then LOVED it.

        Even so, I am definitely open to the constructive suggestion you made a few threads down. Let’s go there and talk details.

      5. Do you have direct experience in the area of question over the course of, oh, lets say reasonably 10+ years? Driving through does not count.

      6. I wouldn’t say that the criticisms of Mercer Island on this blog have been “senseless”. Quite the opposite in fact.

        MI is getting a major infrastructure improvement paid for mainly with dollars from elsewhere in the East King subarea. They should be trying to work with ST instead of fighting ST at every turn. We don’t need a repeat of the parking garage fiasco where MI forced a sub-optimum design on ST and then complained about it afterwards.

      7. @Laz

        Word word to use, but I believe you understand what I am getting at.

        Almost everyone single one of these “links” posts that involve something about mercer island usually carries a snarky, deep rooted, comment about it. Honestly, “you” lose credibility when doing that.

        And the island’s view on the parking structure hasn’t exactly changed. The islanders didn’t want a large parking garage for various reasons, one of them being that 100% increase in traffic it would bring. Smaller structure seemed like a way to discourage off island traffic from using mercer island as a launching point.

        Problem is, off islanders flood the parking structure anyway, resulting in islanders not even being able to use it…

      8. @Brent

        This isn’t really true “Forcing all the connections to occur at South Bellevue Station requires either some severe freeway reconstruction or long roundabout trips, stuck in gridlock, for east/west bus routes.” Nor is: “high ratio of productive revenue service to deadheading or slogging through downtown”

        First, truncation at Bellevue means there is no freeway reconstruction required. As discussed, 556 already follows the service pattern of serving Eastgate P&R followed by S. Bellevue P&R. ST staff have mentioned “concerns” about having a lot of busses follow that pattern, but it clearly isn’t a showstopper that would require millions to reconstruct freeway.

        Second, what gridlock are you referencing to? The 4 minutes it takes to travel from Eastgate to S.Bellevue, at peak times? Yes, I’m sure without traffic it could be 2x faster, but it’s such a short segment on the freeway in the first place I don’t think it can really have a huge impact either way.

        Third, the P&R is literally full of layover space. Although there are other interesting service patterns (e.g. eliminate the 554 and turn the 556 into an all day route) that wouldn’t require a layover at all — busses can literally exit the freeway, and go through one traffic light to the P&R where they can immediately layover. Literally 0 time is wasted in this model.

        I totally agree that, in isolation, the MI design is elegant, and I think that MI is opposed to it for all of the wrong reasons. But the fact of the matter is when you look at the network as a whole, it opens up way more connectivity to truncate at S. Bellevue as opposed to MI. Ultimately, the only people losing out would be MI residents that want a 1-seat ride to Sammamish.

      9. @CP,

        Of course off islanders fill the garage. ST repeatedly told MI that such would be the outcome of building such a small garage, but somehow the group think on MI was that ST was wrong and that the off islanders would just somehow magically disappear once they saw the shinny new garage on MI that was… know….mainly paid for with off island dollars.

        I mean what is so hard to understand here? You insist on ST building a small garage and you should only expect it to fill up early. It’s not rocket science.

        Now MI is playing a variation of the same theme with the bus turn back loop. My advice would be to stop fighting the enevitable and instead work productively with ST to find a design that benefits both MI and off islanders.

      10. @Laz

        That stance assumes ST can do no wrong, and any objections islander residents have are inherently wrong. My advice? ST and the opinions here are not nearly as smart as they hope they are.

        Let new ideas in, let projects get criticized. Encourage debate and accept city specific challenges.

      11. CPtheCoug, I think Sound Transit can do plenty of wrong. However they seem to have been very correct in this instance: they predicted Mercer Island would be a popular place to park and ride, they proposed a large garage, and ended up building a smaller one after community input.

        Now you mention that “off-islanders” are using all the space in the garage. Due respect, your sense of entitlement is astounding. You don’t get to demand Sound Transit build an expensive light rail station and parking garage on your island with regional tax dollars and then complain when people from elsewhere in the region use it!

        If you want Mercer Island residents to have priority over others, you should use your own municipal tax dollars to build a parking facility, hand out parking stickers to island residents, and require that anyone in the garage have a sticker. It really isn’t hard.

      12. “turn the 556 into an all day route”

        Hmm, it overlaps with East Link a significant distance (South Bellevue to BTC). It would be a bit hard to justify that. What if it went on another route that didn’t overlap as much… Such as backfilling the Bellevue Way segment that the 550 will vacate. That would save Metro the headache of having to serve it somehow. But would it hurt Issaquah – UW travel time too much?

      13. Issaquah-UW riders can connect to Link at either South Bellevue or Mercer Island. Even with the transfer penalty, this should be faster than taking the 556 all the way during peak times, and only a little slower off peak* so I wouldn’t be too worried about moving the 556 to Bellevue Way. Incidentally, according to Sound Transit’s SIP, the 556 will be rerouted there anyways for East Link construction, which will unfortunately add 5 or so minutes to Issaquah-Bellevue and Issaquah-UW trips (the latter might be served better by connections to U-link in Downtown Seattle though).

        *Link will take 24 minutes from South Bellevue to UW, and 20 minutes from Mercer Island to UW. The 556 is scheduled at about 26 minutes “off-peak” and 29 minutes during peak; however, it isn’t unusual for the 556 to be 10-15 minutes late (even 25 minutes late sometimes!) when there is traffic. Admitedly, Link will be much faster if going to the U-District station vicinity, and the bus may be faster to the 15th/Pacific area, so it’s a bit more complicated.

      14. @CP,

        Nobody is saying that ST is incapable of making mistakes, but given the relative records of ST and MI it is clear where a smart betting man should place his money.

        And MI just seems to be generally against everything and unconstructive. And the denigration of all things off island and of off islanders in particular gets a bit tiresome.

      15. @Eric

        As mentioned before, I don’t live on Mercer Island, your “entitlement” comment is ridiculous.

        A bigger park and ride was a dumb idea to begin with. This blog advocates for transit use, and to an extent walking and biking as well. So “you” now criticize the city for NOT wanting a larger parking garage, to…. ya know…. DISCOURAGE driving?

        Back and forth, back and forth. Argue what feels good man, you’re entitled to it.

    2. I agree with this. Let’s take a look at the travel times:
      -Eastgate Freeway Station to South Bellevue takes 4 minutes, according to the 556 schedule. (Anecdotally, this is quite reliable during rush hour.)
      -Eastgate Freeway Station to Mercer Island takes around 6-8 minutes during peak hours, according to the 554 schedule. I think we can assume that it will be closer to 6 minutes if the transfer improvements at Mercer Island are made.
      -South Bellevue Station to Mercer Island Station will take around 4 minutes on Link.

      Thus, just by travel times alone, for Eastgate/Issaquah to Seattle riders, a South Bellevue transfer point would be about 2 minutes slower than a Mercer Island transfer point (assuming that the physical transfer takes the same amount of time at both places). However, for riders going to Downtown Bellevue, Overlake, Kirkland, etc., a South Bellevue transfer point would be about 6 minutes faster than a Mercer Island transfer point. Moreover, for people going to Renton, a South Bellevue transfer point eliminates the transfer to Link entirely, so the time advantage for South Bellevue is going to be even higher (10 minutes, assuming an average 4-minute wait for Link).

      So, the real question is, are riders headed for Seattle or Mercer Island 3 times as numerous as those going to Bellevue, Overlake, Kirkland, and Renton combined? I don’t know, but there are disadvantages and advantages to making either station the connection point, and South Bellevue is definitely not “objectively inferior.”

      1. South Bellevue is 2 minutes closer than Mercer Island westbound. It is a wash (or even slightly slower) eastbound due to the need to make a left turn onto Bellevue Way leaving the station; the Mercer Island concept would have a nearly straight shot onto the HOV lane. I doubt Bellevue would be willing to do any signal priority there as well due to traffic volume on Bellevue Way.

        Service levels in the I-90 corridor would indicate the vast majority of the demand is to Seattle. The 212 (Eastgate) has 20 peak direction trips, with headways getting below 5 minutes at times. The 214 (Issquah) has 13 trips, the 216/218/219 (Sammamish/Issaquah Highlands) combine for 21 more, and the 554 has ~8 trips during that same span. Express service to Bellevue consists of the 555/556 which is 8 trips on half-hourly headways, and some of that demand is for service to UW and Northgate that could be served by Link instead (although I think there is a great argument for deleting the 554 and going to an all-day 555/556 truncated to the U District when East Link opens).

        Midday, the 555/556 and 21x don’t run, and 554, 240, and 271 seem to do a fine job serving the demand that exists, largely from Bellevue College to both Bellevue and Seattle.

        I think that far more than 3 times as many people are traveling to/from Seattle than Bellevue.

      2. In the eastbound direction, I think the case for signal priority leaving South Bellevue (if buses end up being truncated there) will be much stronger than it is currently, since there will be multiple full buses departing simultaneously right after each Link arrival.

        With regards to current service levels, that is a fair point. However, I think it’s clear that Metro and Sound Transit have put very little effort into offering any transit option for Issaquah or Sammamish to Bellevue that is remotely competitive with the car. (The 556 is infrequent, very unreliable, does not have well-timed connections to Issaquah/Sammamish/North Bend, and gets stuck in traffic south of Bellevue. Off-peak is even worse–going from Issaquah TC to Bellevue TC generally takes 40-60 minutes, compared to ~20 minutes by driving, and it’s even longer if your destination is not next to the transit center.)

        According to page 10-11 of this study, (Issaquah-West Bellevue) and (Issaquah-Redmond) combined have roughly the same number of total trips as (Issaquah-Seattle). Obviously, transit will always do a far better job of capturing the Issaquah-Seattle trips, as that study predicts, but I wonder if improved transit service to Bellevue could increase transit modeshare for Issaquah-Bellevue.

        I agree that an all-day 556 would be a good idea. If that happens, though, and the peak buses are truncated at Mercer Island, riders headed to Issaquah from Seattle would need to transfer at Mercer Island during peak hours, and at South Bellevue off-peak. This isn’t the end of the world (and on-train announcements could help), but it is still a bit confusing.

      3. South Bellevue is objectively inferior. These travel time numbers have been crunched before, right here on this blog, and quite heavily discussed, dating back to over two years ago. I don’t plan on digging into 100% of that. Search the archives. The MAIN problem is the turnaround time, which costs transit agencies lots of money, even when it doesn’t delay riders.

        The mercer island station will sit right on top of the highway. Unless the MI city government screws the plans up for misguided reasons, it will have transit ramps directly into the station, and a turnaround route that puts buses right back on the highway without having to sit through any lights or navigate any parking lots.

        In a world where a single bus costs our transit agencies ~$150/hr, every slim minute we can shave off of a heavily used turnaround route, every freeway weave we can eliminate, every stoplight we can avoid, are all as valuable as gold.

        But if we ignore the long-term cost of sending our buses bumbling down Bellevue Way and through a park & ride lot 1/2 mile off the freeway, and just focus on the riders, it’s still the same.

        I also argue with your cherry-picking of the 555/556 AM westbound schedule time. The I-90 express lanes are open to westbound traffic during the morning rush hour, and so the HOV-to-exit-ramp weave is made through not-terrible traffic. Please recall that the I-90 express lanes will no longer exist when East Link opens. You should be looking at the “reverse-commute” timetable, where the I-90 express lanes are closed in the buses’ direction of travel.
        Looking at the appropriate line of the schedule turns that 4 minutes turns into 7 minutes, a match for the Mercer Island bus travel time. And that still doesn’t include the transit agency’s turnaround time getting that bus back across rush-hour Bellevue Way traffic and back onto the freeway, or the transit rider’s time riding an extra station on East Link.

        Making matters worse for S. Bellevue is that bus circulation through the park & ride will be slowed, because the elevated Link station gets in the way and the bus stops move further from Bellevue Way and deeper into the parking lot. Meanwhile, bus circulation at the Mercer Island station will be improved, with the bus stops moved further from the parking and closer to the offramp.

        As for Issaquah – Bellevue riders who would potentially have to ride one more station… look at the numbers. Those riders are vastly outnumbered by Issaquah – Seattle riders. And… get this… the current quickest all-day way from Issaquah to Bellevue is to transfer from the 554 to the 550 at Mercer Island (no joke!)

      4. You do have a good point that, while Mercer Island is slightly more direct for getting to downtown Seattle, South Bellevue P&R is a lot better for east/west-north/south connectivity and probably makes for a better all-day network. I guess it ultimately comes down to a question of tradeoffs. A South Bellevue P&R connection entails a smaller inconvenience for larger number of riders, whereas a Mercer Island connection entails a much larger inconvenience for a smaller number of riders.

        Given that the weekday peak period has enough service hours to go around where you could split the service and have some Eastgate/Issaquah buses go to Mercer Island, while others go to South Bellevue P&R, my intuition would be to have the peak-only routes go to Mercer Island, while the all-day route go to South Bellevue P&R, probably in a form similar to route 556 (but end in the U-district, with a Link transfer to go to Northgate).

        Ironically for Mercer Island, moving the bus->train connection off the island increases the time incentive for people east of Mercer Island to drive to Mercer Island to catch the train, making parking for islanders all that much harder to find. I am not sure if the Mercer Island people realize this.

      5. @Josh F. – I disagree about signal priority. Bellevue Way is a already complete disaster southbound in the PM peak, exactly when you’d have a bus every minute or so leaving the station. Changing the light for every bus would just make it that much worse, and I doubt Bellevue is willing to do that when the impact to Bellevue Way traffic is so great.

        Sound Transit is very aggressive about matching service levels to demand, so if the demand for more/better 555/556 service were there, I think they’d pursue it; they’ve done this in the past in multiple corridors. The problem, as you point out, is that an Issaquah-Bellevue express bus just isn’t competitive with car travel times. This is compounded by the lack of effective (or any) connecting bus service almost everywhere east of Eastgate due mainly to the land use pattern, so just getting to the express service requires hopping in your car. Unless/until traffic gets substantially worse it is going to be almost impossible to move the needle on Issaquah-Bellevue transit demand.

        @Lack Thereof – I’m the one who ran a lot of the travel time numbers for South Bellevue vs. Mercer Island, and your general recollection is pretty much spot on. The westbound AM peak time difference is ~2 minutes in favor of South Bellevue, while the eastbound PM peak difference is zero. The killers for South Bellevue are the distance between the station and I-90, the signal leaving South Bellevue, and the ramp configuration at I-90. Since Mercer Island is almost 2 miles further away, that is kind of incredible.

        @asdf2 – My reading of Sound Transit and Metro’s initial thinking about bus intercept is that they intended for all-day routes to go to South Bellevue and peak routes go to Mercer Island, but they didn’t say as much.

        I’ve made that bus connection/parking argument to any of my neighbors who will listen (I live very close to the MI P&R), but it doesn’t seem to sink in!

      6. The “reverse-peak” 555 service uses a slower surface-street routing (via the Richards Rd exit and Eastgate Way) to serve the Factoria area, so it’s not an exact comparison. See page 97 of ST’s schedule booklet: However, your point about traffic in the general-purpose lanes getting worse still holds.

        Ultimately, I agree with your point that the “weave”,traffic light, and geographic deviation required to serve South Bellevue is probably a deal-breaker for truncating buses there. The Mercer Island plan is most likely better overall (if the city will even allow it). Unfortunately, it is still objectively worse for some trips (especially Issaquah-Renton, which will forever be very convoluted), but I guess Sound Transit has looked at the numbers and determined that these trips are very small in number compared to Seattle-bound trips.

      7. The problem is that the train won’t run that often. If it ran every four minutes, then either station would be OK. But since it won’t, timing the bus routes with the train will be important. You want the bus to arrive a couple minutes before the train, then leave as soon as folks have time to get onto the bus. But this is almost impossible with South Bellevue. The lights and the traffic make this extremely difficult. You are back to random timing, which means that folks will curse the transfer, and, as asdf2 said, will decide to drive. Those coming from the south end of the east side (along 405) via a bus will be out of luck, and will suffer through this problem. But there is no reason to have more people suffer through it than absolutely necessary.

        It is different in the north end. The trains will come by every four minutes during rush hour, which means that a bus from Lake City going to 130th will just keep going. There will be no attempt to time the connection.

        As for Mercer Island and their concerns, I don’t blame them about the giant park and ride. But I think fighting the bus is the wrong solution. With good bus service and a small park and ride, very few people will drive to Mercer Island. If they are along the I-90 corridor, they will avoid traffic and park where they can catch a connecting bus. If they live north of I-90, then they will park at South Bellevue. If they live south of there, they will take 405 and go to South Bellevue, just because the parking is easier.

      8. “The problem is that the train won’t run that often.”

        Ahem, 10 minutes is much more frequent than half-hourly bus routes. 10 minutes is considered a “reasonable” transfer time, and the actual average wait would be half of that.

      9. Not when your transfer point is minutes out of the way, and your direct route was all of 9 minutes on a freeway from your destination likely final destination, it’s not.

        Transfer tolerance is all relative, but pretending that any “rail” is an instant teleporter when in fact placement, design, and trip distance have conspired to leave many transfer-based trips infuriatingly slower than direct ones is not a winning argument.

        Also, good luck getting ST to pledge to 10 minute all-hour minumum frequency on East Link. They haven’t, and ridership estimates suggest they won’t.

      10. @RB.

        “The train won’t run that often”?

        Um…. What exactly are you smoking? At either 7.5 or 6 min headways this will be the most frequent, highest capacity and most reliable transit option into Seattle that the Eastside has ever seen. And with dedicated lanes across the I-90 floating bridge it will also be the fastest.

      11. ST does not anticipate running East Link at closer than 9-minute headways even at the peak of peaks. Ever.

        The demand simply is not there for more.


      12. @RossB: I disagree with the claim that timing transfers at South Bellevue would be impossible or even difficult. In the afternoon, buses deadheading from the east would only need to pass through one traffic light (1 minute delay at most, since the bus would be travelling on Bellevue Way, which the traffic signal favors). Traffic generally isn’t bad in that direction, unless somehow gridlock ensues after the express lanes are closed, which I doubt will happen. Sure, you might need to schedule a few extra minutes for the deadhead to ensure the buses arrive before the Link train arrives, but I don’t see why this is a dealbreaker, considering that buses would need more time to access Mercer Island anyways.

        South Bellevue transfers definitely have disadvantages, but the inability to time transfers isn’t one of them.

        @Mike Orr: While 10-minute transfers may be unavoidable for some trips, we should still aim to do better than that for heavily-used connections, if possible. For example, Vienna operates timed transfers between 2 subway lines running every 5 minutes.

      13. I’m still pushing for 10 minutes minimum on all lines until 10pm, more peak hours as needed. I’m not concerned about peak hours because they will take care of themselves; I’m concerned about the maximum average wait. If absolutely necessary we can drop to 20 minute evenings for the Eastside, Everett, and Federal Way; the main issue is that it should be more frequent than the current 30-minute buses, because the time adds up if you wait day after day. ST also has to be mindful of even headways in the shared segment, and 20-minute East Link would lead to a a 5-5-10-10 pattern.

        Josh: I agree with your sentiment, but we are so far from a 5-minute standard, and the Eastside is so less dense than Vienna (I assume Austria rather than Virginia), that it’s not really comparable. But maybe the agencies could get times transfers to work whatever the frequency. Although there’s still an inherent unreliability in buses subject to stoplights and unpredictable boarding delays, so they wouldn’t necessarily meet every train they’re supposed to.

  5. It doesn’t seem like Mercer Island has much to bargain with considering that under state law it’s illegal for them to block the siting of a transit facility.

    1. One of their state representatives is Chair of the House Transportation Committee. Nothing against her, but people in that position do tend to favor what their constituents ask for over the greater good, way too often. I hope transit riders on Mercer Island can get organized and fight for a good transfer situation, such as the excellent set-up Sound Transit and Metro are proposing, that minimizes the encroachment of east-west buses away from the freeway and into Mercer Island neighborhoods.

    2. Yes, but that would also require Sound Transit to go to court to force the issue. They’ve never done so, even though they very easily could have against Tukwila and Bellevue. I doubt they’d start now, since doing so would taint every negotiation about anything with a city going forward. ST is much better off working collaboratively.

  6. Mercer Island: Feels entitled to a train station with no TOD and no bus transfers (except for on island buses maybe?)

    1. Incorrect. They have an issue with the poorly thought out bus intercept proposal, not the idea itself.

      1. ok, what solution do you propose then other than forcing the transfer off the island?

        Unless you have a plan, the effect is the same.

      2. Nice response. One badly executed proposal and suddenly its the islander’s burden.

        Here’s an idea, bus intercept on the island, but executed differently?

        Seems a lot more reasonable than your “take it or we’re screwed” implied response.

      3. I didn’t say take it or else, I am open to better proposals. Off island or nothing implied by the article is also not a valid response.

        A middle ground can be found.

      4. CPtheCoug,

        What do you find problematic with the Mercer Island bus loop proposal? How would you do the bus transfers differently there?

      5. In Sound Transit’s defense, the 80th Ave bus station proposal is far better than the original three proposals. These were:
        1) A counter-clockwise loop on 80th Ave SE, SE 27th St, 77th Ave SE, and N Mercer Way. Not favored due to significant traffic impacts, mostly on SE 27th St.
        2) Turnaround via a roundabout at Sunset Hwy/77th Ave SE via N Mercer Way. Not favored due to significant park and trail impacts. It also pushed the station dropoff/pickup area over to 77th, which is not ideal.
        3) Turnaround via a roundabout at N Mercer Way/77th Ave SE. Not favored since it required taking 2 homes, and may not have provided sufficient layover space. It also had dropoffs at the current westbound P&R stop, which would require everyone to cross N Mercer Way.

        I’ve suggested using Sunset Hwy as well, although that has impacts on the sculpture garden and trails, and puts significant bus traffic on 77th Ave SE and N Mercer Way. I’ve also suggested a roundabout at N Mercer Way and 76th Ave SE (further west), although that has impacts on the I-90 ramp there as well as dropoffs crossing N Mercer Way.

        One of the major sticking points is that ST and KCM won’t commit to a hard limit on buses per hour and per day (for operational flexibility reasons). There is also little desire to add more bus traffic than exists today on the current pathways.

    2. Utilizing SE 27th St is the problem. It “MIGHT” have capacity for current levels, but future capacity? No way.

      My “gut-reaction” analysis? Reconfigure Sunset Way.

      This will solve a handful of issues. It will silence Mercer Island residents about buses in their town center, complaints about bus noise/pollution (lol) will be mitigated by the fact that sunset way is right ontop of the highway, and will allow for future expansion.

      Keep the current loop, but on sunset way. 10, 15, 20 years down the road? Expand it again, have buses take a longer loop northwest along n mercer way, left on 76th ave se, reconfigure 3-way stop sign so buses are allowed to roll on through, left again on sunset way (near Freshy’s Seafood Market).

      You want compromise with these Islanders? That is a better solution than currently presented.

      1. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say that the city goverment would fight a Sunset turnaround even harder, seeing as Sunset is not a city-designated arterial. Even though it would be more efficient.

        But if you read the article a little more carefully, you’ll see that the Mercer Island City Council is not complaining about bus traffic on 27th (which is only one Metro route, and only a dozen times an hour at the peak). They’re complaining about all the ST-Express buses turning around on 80th, which would complete their turnarounds on the freeway lid, and never touch a Mercer Island city street.

        The city of Mercer Island isn’t asking for a change or a compromise. They’re saying that the 80th Street turnaround is a complete nonstarter, and implying that they won’t accept ANY plan that involves ST-Express service terminating anywhere on the island.

      2. The city of Mercer Island is doing a very poor job articulating what it does want and what is wrong with buses turning around on the freeway lid. My guess is that they want the Eastgate/Issaquah buses to continue downtown out of fear that if the bus is truncated, people who currently catch the bus close to home will opt to drive directly to the train, rather than make the transfer. With the result being that even more parking that Mercer Islanders believe belongs to them will be taken up by outsiders.

        As much as nobody wants to admit it, I think the only reasonable solution to the parking problem is to just bite the bullet and start charging money to park there, at least on weekdays. Even a charge of a couple dollars a day would have enough of a psychological impact to get most people who live in Eastgate or Issaquah to ride the bus from Eastgate or Issaquah, especially if route truncations are able to get re-invested in meaningful frequency improvements.

        And if they want to make horror stories about $2/day to park at the Link station being unacceptable, I will call B.S. The only sections of Mercer Island where one could possibly live without being filthy rich are all close enough to the park-and-ride to just walk. There’s also the fact that when parking is free, many people who could easily walk to the P&R end up driving and parking just because they can and it’s free and it saves 2 minutes. With paid parking, those who can walk will walk, freeing up spaces for those who actually need them.

      3. The major sticking point isn’t actually the 80th Ave SE concept itself (although the amount of concrete, compared to the existing condition where half of the overpass is landscaped, is certainly shocking), rather KCM and ST’s reluctance (so far) to commit to any kind of cap on the number of buses per hour and/or per day. Mercer Island wants some assurance that there won’t be an endless conga line of buses coming off I-90, but ST and KCM want to retain the possibility of doing that (I’m exaggerating).

      4. I feel that Sound Transit and Metro are absolutely in the right, when they refuse to commit to a permanent maximum number of buses. They absolutely need to reserve the right to scale up service in the future to match any new future demand. To artificially cap it would be foolish and irresponsible on their part.

        That said, there is practically zero chance that there will ever again be as many buses passing through Mercer Island P&R as there are today, once the 550 is replaced by East Link. Almost all the routes that could potentially be truncated at Mercer Island already pass through the MI P&R. And demand on the handful of routes that currently skip the island stop (by my count, just Metro 217, 218, and 219) will never be as high as the current 550. They add up to only 42 buses per day presently, while the soon-to-disappear 550 pushes a whopping 182 buses through the current Mercer Island P&R.

        And if, by some wizardry, Issaquah & Eastgate densify, and the 554 explodes in ridership, requiring 550 level frequency… the added buses will only be temporary. If demand hits that level, a new train will get built, and then the 554 will disappear like the 550.

      5. The only I-90 routes that stop on Mercer Island are the 550, 554, and 216. Everything else passes by without getting off I-90. This includes the 212, 214, 217, 218, 219, 111, and 114. As of last summer, total daily volume was ~500 buses per day across I-90, with ~350 stopping on Mercer Island. During peak, those numbers were 63 and 33. Mercer Island’s stated interest is in keeping the daily number below 350, and the peak volume at some unspecified level.

        I disagree that ST and KCM shouldn’t agree to a cap. There is a number beyond which it simply becomes impractical to feed more buses in due to physical limitations, and also a (lower) number where service quality degrades to the point where it would be better to start breaking things up.

        Keep in mind that the high end estimate is 84 buses per hour in the peak of peak. As these would all be articulated (bendy) buses, you’re talking about an hourly capacity of over 4,700 riders, just by seated capacity. That is a third of projected 2030 daily demand, and is almost identical to current daily westbound demand on I-90 at Mercer Island. minus the 550, including buses that don’t stop! ST and KCM either need to explain why that massive capacity isn’t enough or agree to some kind of limit.

      6. The buses that don’t stop will turn into buses that do stop if the routes are truncated, which both ST and Metro have said are their goal.

        What about a cap at Mercer Island and any expansion beyond that at South Bellevue if needed? They could probably jiggle the routes so that all the routes going to the same place call at the same station. If, for instance, trips from Issaquah to Seattle are still 66% of the total, then the routes from Issaquah TC could go to Mercer Island (554 pattern), and the routes from the Issaquah Highlands P&R could go to South Bellevue (218 pattern). That assumes two separate routes going to one or the other. A route that serves both would be a low-volume local milk run, so it wouldn’t really matter which one it goes to. I’m putting the Issaquah TC route on the more direct path to Seattle (Mercer Island) as a reward for living closer to the city, and the Issaquah Highlands route on the less direct path (South Bellevue) because they’re further out and is also the cachement for Sammamish and (presumably in the future) Snoqualmie/North Bend. It’s also possible that those living further out are more likely to be going to Eastside destinations than those living further in (because if they wanted to go to Seattle more they would have lived further in). However, that may be somewhat reversed with the Issaquah Highands being denser than west Issaquah (more likely to go to Seattle maybe?).

      7. In other words, an all-day express going from Mercer Island to Issaquah TC, and a separate all-day express going from South Bellevue to Issaquah Highlands. Which one(s) serve Eastgate P&R could be decided later. Peak routes would overlap these as necessary. Then, for service between the Highlands and Issaquah TC, a local route that also serves north Issaquah along the way (that notoriously-underserved neighborhood with a school where the 554 doesn’t stop and no other route exists). I’m not sure whether that should be the same route that serves south Lake Sammamish Road and Eastgate Way or even Factoria, but something has to. That still leaves eastern Issaquah that the 208 currently serves. I’d like to move the 208 to Issaquah Highlands, after confirmation from one Snoqualmie Ridge resident that he’d prefer that and doesn’t think his neighbors would mind. But I’m not sure how to backfill eastern Issaquah service in that case. The Highlands route would be serving north Issaquah, and to get to east Issaquah it would have to backtrack. Maybe extending the route 200 loop could do something. There’s also that proposed northwest Issaquah urban center, which would need bus service of some sort, preferably connecting it to downtown (City Hall).

      8. Thinking further, and to quell objections that two all-day expresses is one two many, the Issaquah TC route could continue east locally to serve east Issquah. The urban center could be addressed with a triangular route going one direction to downtown and the other direction to Issaquah TC. That could even be the same as the express route possibly. The other express route going to the Highlands would continue to Sammamish, fulfilling one of ST’s long-term goals.

      9. Mike, that is a service pattern that could work, although it could also be viewed as unnecessarily complicated. I thin that, in general, the ideal situation is having a single main “trunk” that everything funnels into. With that said, however, a desire to limit capacity at Mercer Island (or South Bellevue, for that matter) would work against the ideal. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, another possible approach is to push the all-day service to South Bellevue and run peak express service to Mercer Island. This gets you better connections in the all-day network while preserving some speed for the peak expresses.

        Without origin/destination data, I’m hesitant to suggest which buses should go where because I don’t know where the riders are generally going.

        For service in Issaquah, one of the more intriguing ideas that came out of the U-Link eastside proposal was to create a milk run running from Eastgate P&R to Issaquah Highlands P&R and shift the 554 to the 555/556’s express (I-90) routing from Issaquah Highlands to Issaquah TC. This would replace the 271’s Issaquah tail and pick up crosstown Issaquah local service. The main problem with this idea is that Issaquah local service may have higher demand than the 271’s tail, creating an imbalance. I don’t think this is a huge problem, but ridership info would need to back that up.

  7. Has anyone looked at possible options under the monorail authority if Ballard gets a Westlake streetcar in ST3? IIRC, WSTT would be a real stretch, but what about the Ballard spur? (this assumes ST3 loses)

    1. ST3 will be a grade separated Ballard/WS line at a minimum. We are willing to scorch and salt the earth on that one. A decent ST3 package will win handily.

      Q: What if Ballard/WS is all ST3 brings?

      A: Seattle will need to look at local options sometime soon. The CTA could fund Ballard/UW – but might not vote due to geographic isolation. Maybe that plus a subway extension to SLU?

      1. Wait. If ST3 ends up including a line that runs from downtown to Ballard, and then through Phinney Ridge to UW, you would be willing to oppose that proposal because it doesn’t get the line all the way to West Seattle?

      2. West Seattle is going to get a line full stop. I think what Keith is saying is that we won’t accept anything not grade separated.

      3. Keith – who will pay for a new Ballard Bridge or a tunnel under the ship canal for grade separated light rail? Sound Transit? Will they have enough. To me, light rail to ballard isn’t worth doing if they somehow try and use the existing bridge.

      4. In other words, BRT, with dedicated lanes on the West Seattle Bridge, would cause you to vote No on ST3. Am I getting that right?

      5. James, that is why I have supported the Ballard spur (no expensive ship canal crossing), but it doesn’t look like Ballard to UW is happening (just look at the design of ST survey)

      6. To people wondering about opposition a package which doesnt include LR to West Seattle:

        That’s a completely hypothetical problem. LR to West Seattle *will be* in the package. We can all have opinions about whether or not that is the best idea, but it really really really looks set in stone. What we are most concerned with is making sure that anything built in Seattle is up to snuff.

        Grade Separated or bust!

      7. Okay, well that guarantees that 50% to as much as 80% of North King funding — of the last major initiative ever — will go to a line that is functionally useless even to the tiny percentage of residents who live on or ever go to the peninsula.

        That sure as hell secures MY “no” vote!

      8. WTF are you talking about, you Skagit tax thief?

        I’ve yet to vote against a transit initiative in this town in a decade, even the ones with provisions that churned my stomach enough to make me want to.

        But $5 billion in waste and fatal compromises to potentially useful projects are simply beyond the pale.

        ST needs to collapse in a sea of post-failure recriminations. We’ll never get useful transit out of them, so we need to stop pretending we will.

      9. Uh d.p., I read your comments and I gotta tell ya maybe Skagitonians should stop giving away a dime and nickel of services for every dollar of tax we pay.

        “$5 billion in waste and fatal compromises to potentially useful projects are simply beyond the pale.
        ST needs to collapse in a sea of post-failure recriminations. We’ll never get useful transit out of them, so we need to stop pretending we will.”

        Spell it out buddy, and tell us how we get you to a YES.

      10. I think it’s far from a sure deal that West Seattle light rail will be in the package. By the numbers, West Seattle isn’t as compelling as other potential Seattle options, and ST is obligated to work with the numbers.

        I suspect we will get some sort of Ballard rail, and several west seattle studies. These studies will probably end with a 50/50 chance of anything at all for West Seattle, because after the cost of a Ballard line, there just won’t be any money left to get any significant west seattle project past the planning stage.

        Rapidride C and the 120 will have to do for west Seattle for the next few decades. If ST3 can pay for some studies that lay groundwork for future lines, great. Maybe by the time ST4 comes around, Seattle zoning will be saner, and there might be more than just a couple of block-wide strips of multifamily housing to serve with a West Seattle line.

      11. Lack, West Seattle has too many political heavyweights (Dow et al) not to get light rail. I think most know that it scores less on “bang for the buck”. My only hope is that after West Seattle bogarts North King’s budget, Ballard gets more than the “40 streetcar” aka Option E.

      12. Several current and former city and county politicians and ST boardmembers live in West Seattle, therefore West Seattle will get light rail in ST3. Given that, what matters is that Ballard gets a high enough quality of rail to be substantially faster than the D or 44. If it does, then I can support ST3. If not, then I don’t understand the point of it.

      13. The only way to get BRT in West Seattle is to seriously convince the board it’s superior, and that will be a hard sell. Remember, West Seattle was expecting a monorail and it didn’t happen.

      14. I feel the same way as d. p., so while I won’t answer for him, I’ll answer for me. To be clear, I have voted for every transit package (including roads and transit) and this would be the first time I voted no on transit since I turned 18, some 35 years ago (I did live in Bellingham for a while, so I missed a few Seattle votes). What would get me to vote yes? Some combination of the following:

        1) UW to Ballard light rail.
        2) WSTT
        3) West Seattle BRT
        4) Back filled stations (NE 130th and Graham).

        That’s about it. I wouldn’t oppose the proposal even if it included silly (and wasteful) plans in the suburbs (like completing the spine). But some combination of that needs to be on the ballot for me to support it. I don’t know if we have the money to pay for all of that, but I think it is reasonable to think we might. Other plans include:

        * West Seattle light rail. The cheapest version of West Seattle light rail is to skip the tunnel and put in a low bridge over the Duwamish that then head out Delridge. This would still be really expensive, so calling it cheap is a bit of a stretch, but it is still *only* four to six billion. So, basically, this would skip the junction, skip 35th, skip Alki, skip Fauntleroy, require a movable bridge, run on the surface on Delridge and still cost more than four and a half billion (at the low end). This is the most cost effective of the West Seattle light rail options and yet it would still take up most of the budget and do little for most of the people who live in West Seattle. I can’t accept that.

        * Light rail from Ballard to downtown (under or next to Queen Anne). I’m more ambivalent about this. If this was included along with the other projects, then I could probably vote for it. BRT to Ballard will never be as good as BRT to West Seattle because building a new Ballard bridge is a lot more expensive than (and doesn’t solve as many problems as) simply adding a lane on the Spokane Street viaduct (and restriping the lanes and adding ramp metering). BRT to Ballard will be nice, but BRT to West Seattle will be outstanding. Every major corridor in West Seattle meets up at the freeway. Only one corridor (15th) meets up at the Ballard Bridge (although buses from nearby streets could be made to converge there). Meanwhile, while a north south route for rail to Ballard will never be as functional as an east-west route, the destinations along the way are big enough to get numbers that justify rail (Ballard, lower Queen Anne and Belltown). So, while I still think it is a secondary value, it is a reasonable project, and I wouldn’t oppose the project if it skips ahead.

        All of this assumes that light rail runs unimpeded (as we have been lead to assume). Rainier Valley style light rail is fine — Seattle Streetcar is not. I would oppose an ineffective route no matter where it was built (e. g. Ballard to the UW).

      15. >> Several current and former city and county politicians and ST boardmembers live in West Seattle, therefore West Seattle will get light rail in ST3.

        >> West Seattle has too many political heavyweights (Dow et al) not to get light rail. I think most know that it scores less on “bang for the buck”.

        That is a prescription for electoral defeat. A bunch of politicians, without consulting outside experts (which we desperately need) decides that West Seattle light rail is a great idea because they think it is what is best for the area, and best for the city. That means that the only way to stop them is to vote against the plan. That seems plausible and likely (if they don’t wise up).

        >> The only way to get BRT in West Seattle is to seriously convince the board it’s superior

        I agree. I don’t think is impossible, either. If you read between the lines, you can see that the idea of West Seattle BRT is creeping into the conversation. The West Seattle Transportation Coalition mentioned it recently (see the bullet point on this: The Seattle Times mentioned it recently (see the third paragraph in the “West Seattle and Ballard?” section of this I am working on a post that makes the case for West Seattle BRT (over West Seattle light rail) and expect to be done with it soon. If West Seattle light rail was cheap, then I don’t think we stand a chance of building anything better; but since it isn’t, I think there is a good chance that folks will figure out that BRT to the area just makes a lot more sense.

      16. West Seattle residents are starting to publicly declare openness to a good BRT alternative, but it’s still only 1 or 2% of respondents in the West Seattle Blog and other media. It needs to get much higher to make ST reconsider. If many West Seattle residents tell their politicians they want high-quality reliable transit, not necessarily rail, that would have the biggest impact.

        ST is basically afraid of giving them less than they’re expecting. They were expecting a monorail. The same thing happened in First Hill. ST deleted First Hill Station, and the loudest voices on First Hill said they’d accept nothing less than a streetcar as compensation. That’s clear mode bias. We need to break this cycle now, and get people to realize that rail is not always the most effective or appropriate solution in every neigborhood, and it’s not a magic pill that has same dramatic benefit in every environment. When the public understands what high-quality transit is and that it’s not always synononymous with rail, then they will demand that ST provide high-quality transit appropriate to the neighborhood environment, and ST will do so.

      17. >> ST is basically afraid of giving [West Seattle residents] less than they’re expecting.

        I agree, but this is pretty much a given. The cheapest light rail line by far is via Delridge. It avoids a tunnel and a huge bridge. It would have a movable bridge, followed by being at grade through West Seattle. It will pick up a substantial number of people per dollar spent (way more than the alternative light rail proposals). If I was on the board and told that I must build light rail for West Seattle, this is what I would support.

        But I think this is a lot less than what they are expecting. It runs on the surface. It skips 35th and everything to the west of there (California, Fauntleroy, Admiral, Alki, etc.). I think this is less than what they are expecting, but I think this is realistic if we take a “light rail or bust” attitude.

      18. That would put them out if ST said, “Here’s your light rail. By the way it doesn’t go to the Junction.” These are the same people that got RapidRide C diverted to the Fauntleroy route when Metro wanted to put it on Delridge. Metro cited higher ridership and lower income on Delridge. The neighborhood activists and politicians cited the Junction urban village and Fauntleroy multimodal terminal. (Never mind that the ferry is far less frequent than RR C. At least it’s not peak-only like Sounder Tukwila Station, ahem.)

      19. Anything less than grade-separated light rail won’t work for West Seattle. It’s definitely the right time to make the push for this. We’ve all seen what Metro thinks BRT is and it just completely fails in West Seattle. C line is an absolute joke.

      20. >> We’ve all seen what Metro thinks BRT is and it just completely fails in West Seattle

        Seattle has completely failed light rail — what does that have to do with what Sound Transit will build?

    1. The bill you link is SB 5988. Rep. Farrell got SB 5987 amended, preventing a transfer of money raised solely within the ST district to areas outside of the district.

      1. Correction respectfully:

        “Rep. Farrell got SB 5987 amended, preventing a transfer of money raised solely within the ST district to areas outside of the district. transferring transit money out of transit when King County Metro, Community Transit, Everett Transit and Pierce Transit could have used the money.”

        That’s my point. I agree in keeping the money in the district, heck knows my region’s connectors got a state grant & Sound Transit is locked out of many state grants now.

      2. Joe, your continued harping on this is absurd. That money was being transferred out of transit no matter what Farrell did. She’s a legislator, not an emperor. Instead of uselessly railing against it she made sure her district didn’t get screwed. That’s good legislatin’.

      3. Al, I’m raising the issue one last time for 2015 open threads. I just love reading the excuse factory because the legislator is a Democrat.

        The money could have stayed within regional transit or at least the transit community but the option was never proposed. Instead we are now going to have transit dollars transferred to public education because a state legislator preferred the education industry over putting the gas tax to a referendum who happens to be of the same party as most STB commentors.

        I argue Sound Transit should be exempt from many permits and from sales tax because it’s a vital gov’t function. The need is there for high density transit, not using transit dollars approved at the ballot box for an education industry that wants more with as few to no voter approval like the highway industry.

        Good arguments, yes?

      4. The $500 million wasn’t a use tax of any sort.

        It was a straight up “tribute to your masters” penalty clause.

        And it was orchestrated by the Republican caucus in order to punitively stick the state’s sole metropolitan area with the bill for an unrelated hole they blew in the budget.

        I’m sorry that you had a bad experience with public education (or whatever your beef is), but your attempt to offload blame for one of the most egregiously thieving legislative acts ever perpetrated by your party is both ludicrous and asinine.


      5. d.p., I swear flying past your stop sign in my Super Hornet would make my day. However this is the last open thread of 2015 I’m raising the issue.

        I made perfectly clear where I stand – I wanted the referendum Rep. Jessyn Farrell spoke against on the house floor (and luckily for her, her primary challenger(s) can’t use TVW footage in accountability ads) and I wanted – IF – we had to do this gawdawful transfer to see more funding for a better transit net for as you so aptly put it, “the state’s sole metropolitan area”.

        I also have said in the past Sound Transit should get permit & regulatory exemptions.

        I doubt I’ll satisfy you, but I hope most reading are now satisfied.

      6. Joe:
        I’m a longtime Democrat. I’m not going to defend her, but I’m not going to throw her under the bus either.

        It’s just the reality of the 46th. She represents a part of the city that has never given any significant support to transit. This is one of those suburban districts that would be a swing district if the Republicans could ever field a candidate in King County that wasn’t a crazypants tea-partyer or theocrat.

        And my party doesn’t have a strong enough internal structure to make her tow the party line.

        Additionally, as much as I am concerned by money moving out of transit, I reject the idea that it is somehow a giveaway to a corrupt “education industry.” This state has never had a sustainable funding source for education, we desperately need to up-staff our schools, and if our legislature was at all interested in governing responsibly, they would have found a permanent revenue source to fix the education budget. Not more of this robbing Peter to pay Paul garbage.

      7. Lack Thereof;

        I think we find some agreement here.

        I agree, the 46th would be, “one of those suburban districts that would be a swing district if the Republicans could ever field a candidate in King County that wasn’t a crazypants tea-partyer or theocrat.” I hope since Democrats lack “a strong enough internal structure to make her tow the party line”, the Republicans put up a good moderate candidate who will hold Jessyn accountable for being a WEA puppet (and I love teachers, just not the WEA) and for us make very, very clear no matter his/her feelings about Sound Transit this robbing Sound Transit to pay the McCleary decision off is wrong. I’m not even convinced the education industry needs any more money beyond that, but that’s for another blog.

        Perhaps you Democrats should primary her. That’s why one last mention on the open threads this year.

        At least Senator Barbara Bailey in the new revenue transportation budget and Representative Dave Hayes in the no new revenue transportation budget can get transit funding for their districts without these kinda antics… I’m just saying ;-).

      8. Lack,

        It’s “toe”, not “tow”. One “toes the line” by moving right up to the “line in the sand” the Sergeant drew with his bayonet, when demanding volunteers for a dangerous mission.

        Thus, one who “toes the line” is not a “go along git’ along” but a genuine hero.

      9. “Thus, one who “toes the line” is not a “go along git’ along” but a genuine hero.”

        I would expect transit advocates to obviously advocate for transit not give money to fill another worthy pot of money like education, incarceration, militarization, or medication – all important roles of government.

        Again, I reiterate, therein lies the rub. Transferring transit money out of transit when King County Metro, Community Transit, Everett Transit and Pierce Transit could have used the money is absurd and deserves consequence in this transit advocate’s mind & soul. Made even worse that the lead advocate of this transfer – Rep. Jessyn Farrell – was ready to put the gas tax increase up to referendum but then spoke against the referendum clause. So now the roads lobby gets both sales tax relief and more roads expansion.

        If we really want to be an advocacy group, are we going to challenge this lady of the nighttime speech against the referenda or say we’re up for more political Beyond Stupid like this? All I’m asking here is really, in the end, an editorial or a rude awakening by her constituents who read the site. If I can’t accomplish those goals this round, well then I probably never will in 2015.

        Finally: Thank goodness Sound Transit now has three rotating tax authorities to work with so we don’t have Sound Transit at such whims! I just hope – pardon my ignorance – Sound Transit got some regulatory relief out of this so we can get high density, grade separated transit faster!!

      10. “Instead we are now going to have transit dollars transferred to public education because a state legislator preferred the education industry over putting the gas tax to a referendum”

        The money was used to backfill money that went from the general fund to the highway fund when the Legislature exempted certain WSDOT purchases from sales tax. The gas tax itself is an exception to the sales tax, dedicated to the highway fund rather than the general fund. Diverting the Sound Transit money to an education fund isn’t the same thing as giving it to the general fund, but the state is under court order to fully fund education, and even this budget arguably doesn’t do that, so putting the money in the general fund would just get it allocated to education anyway. It’s not about the teachers’ union. It’s about Republicans’ reluctance to raise taxes to fund education or anything else, and both parties’ privileging the highway fund over everything else. I wish there was a constitutional mandate to fund transit because it always gets put behind other things, and the ST situation is a typical example. The legislature won’t hear about funding transit itself, except for short-term grants. It merely allows the ST district to tax itself, and asks for concessions to even grant that, concessions both to highways and now to education.

      11. Mike;

        Well I think I’ve made my displeasure at the transfer deal known. I’m saddened that many in the STB community don’t see we could have asked for a better arrangement for transit. My issue is the transit community is now subsidizing a broken public education system.

        I am a voice for continued regulatory relief for Sound Transit and other transit agencies so we can get more projects, more often.

      12. Joe:
        The way I see it, the money isn’t actually a transfer to education. It’s merely passing through the education budget on the way to the highway budget.

        WSDOT steals $500 mil from education -> education steals $500 mil from transit to replace it… therefore it’s, in truth, a well-obfuscated transfer from transit to highways. Exactly what I would expect from some convoluted back room deal meant to preserve the highway budget at all costs.

        Perhaps you Democrats should primary her.

        Oh, if only we could! But primary voters are always to the right of general election voters, in both parties. For example… how long have Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon been winning primaries? And the Kenmore/Lake City/Lake Forest Park area is not exactly a hotbed of transit activism. I doubt any of her constituents are reading these words, unless they live on the fringes of Green Lake or Sand Point.

        In her last primary fight, she barely beat out a very strong transit advocate (Sarajane Siegfriedt) 28% to 22% in a tight 6-way race (4D, 1R, 1I)… meaning two Democrats made it to the general election, and Siegfriedt got a second chance. But then in that general election, all the money lined up behind Jessup, and Siegfriedt got creamed 64% to 36%. During that election, Jessup talked a good talk about restoring state funding for transit agencies… but obviously the proof is in the pudding.

        Also, I saw the toe/tow swap immediately after making the post. Boats tow lines; people toe lines. EDIT FUNCTION WHEN?

      13. Lack Thereof;

        Best comment of the whole debate. I hope some in the STB community closer to the action will approach Ms. Sarajane Siegfriedt and ask her to primary “Jessup” promising to give money, doorbell and make clear we are not going to take this lying down like sheep.

        Had Jessyn demanded the gas tax go to referendum I admit the future of the Tri-County Connector would be a big fat question mark that may not be answered tomorrow by Island Transit’s board. But I fear if STB folks don’t primary Jessyn a precedent has been set where transit fills a budget hole WSDOT created. Contrary to the very public protestations of one Senator Curtis King, transit is not “a black hole” and some of us will not take lightly the fact we are one of only a handful of states with minimal to no state transit support while local taxing authority is sent back downstream to Olympia.

        Why is it only the 10th Legislative District (Whidbey Island & Stanwood) that comes remotely close to understanding this?

      14. “And it was orchestrated by the Republican caucus in order to punitively stick the state’s sole metropolitan area with the bill for an unrelated hole they blew in the budget.”

        Well, we can say that the ultimate cause of the transfer was the WSDOT-sales tax provision. As to why ST was chosen to raid rather than some other fund, it may have been the legislature’s general attitude toward transit and Sound Transit, but it sure looks like compensation for granting ST the full $15 billion rather than $11 billion. In other words, it allows legislators to say, “We didn’t give ST quite everything it wanted.”

        But there’s a reasonable possibility that this was a one-time thing that will not be repeated. It was an expediency to plug a last-minute hole. I doubt any legislator would say it’s a good precedent; it’s a sleazy reassignment. Taxes should transparently go to the purpose they were raised for. How many voters will even understand that part of their ST taxes will go to a non-transit, non-ST purpose. Everyone understands that ST pays sales taxes (if it does) that go to the general fund, like all individuals and organizations do. They don’t understand that a tax which has historically been used 100% for transit now has a non-transit “tax” on it.

      15. Joe, we need to make sure that the “ST raid” is not repeated or made commonplace. I’m not not convinced that primarying Farrell is the best way to go about it or even relevant. What is her general attitude toward transit and how does it compare to other legislators? What else has she done in office? The behavior of Rodney Tom and the “turncoats” and most other Republicans and Frank Chopp seem far more central to transit’s and Sound Transit’s overall situation than what Farrell has done.

        If anything, we need to tell all our representatives that we do not like the ST diversion, and all taxes should be straightforward and transparent.

      16. Mike, thank you.

        At this point, considering how many “Jessyn Fans” (a phraseology I use offline towards men & women like I told one planner talking to me on background over the phone Friday I’m a “Carolyn Fan”) are in the STB comment house, I think we all need to come together and work on a common goal of, as you put it, “If anything, we need to tell all our representatives that we do not like the ST diversion, and all taxes should be straightforward and transparent.”

        This cannot happen again. I hope you are right, this is a sucky one-off because if this happens to Community Transit, Island Transit or Skagit Transit I am going to be not just angry but nuclear.

        Finally, I am very clear I want this to be the last open thread about the $500 mil financial gamesmanship for 2015. There are many, many things we need to discuss.

      17. I’m not a Jessyn fan. I’ve never even heard of her before this thread. I just don’t like to see somebody singled out or scapegoated for apparently insufficient or inaccurate reasons. If she’s a teachers’ union lackey, there has got to be better evidence than this. And “Republican” and “teachers’ union lackey” sounds like a contradiction. Perhaps some of the other “Jessyn fans” know as little about her as I do, and defended her for similar reasons. If there is something to be said about Jessyn’s total career and behavior in the legislature compared to other legislators, then we should talk about that. Otherwise we should talk about getting all legislators committed to the principle of keeping special-interest footnotes out of the tax code.

      18. Mike, on “Otherwise we should talk about getting all legislators committed to the principle of keeping special-interest footnotes out of the tax code” I agree.

        Jessyn is no Republican. She’s a pet of the Washington Education Association and a problem to me. If you watch the first 10 minutes of the TVW link you will get what really set me off.

        I believe we need a tax code that is flat and fair. I think with a progressive tax exemption or a few of them for the working poor – no contradiction sadly – we can get there. Why we need to make loopholes and shift money around is stupid politics to me.

      19. Wooooooooooo…. Teachers bad! Military-industrial complex good! Pay no attention to the falling real wages or the Boeing relocation plan behind the curtain!

      20. No, it precisely captures your Fox-addled position statements and your self-defeating party-affiliation rationale, Joe.

      21. No, it does not. More ad hominem attacks, that’s when I know I’m making my point we might want to go in REVERSE from Jessyn’s house with the red porch light and find some REAL friends.

      22. Nice. Your loathing for GOP-scapegoat-du-jour teachers’ unions is so intense that you are willing to call a female legislator a prostitute on a public forum.

        Stay classy!

      23. Did I call her a prostitute? NO. I sure hope not because I sure think there are some male legislators – both Democrats and Republicans – selling themselves to the wrong kinda people as well.

        I just said you guys think Jessyn is your friend and you guys really are having your wallets taken to the cleaners.

      24. Some of us are just relieved not to potentially have half a billion dollars stolen straight out of the Puget Sound region by this bill.

        And some of us — gasp! — aren’t offended by the idea of teachers being paid properly for their work.

      25. As to,

        “Some of us are just relieved not to potentially have half a billion dollars stolen straight out of the Puget Sound region by this bill.”

        I get that. There was another way; but Rep. Farrell sold King County Metro, Community Transit, Everett Transit and Pierce Transit out.

        “And some of us — gasp! — aren’t offended by the idea of teachers being paid properly for their work.”

        Some of us would prefer the education industrial complex live within our means to pay for it – something the WEA in its overreaching greed have a serious problem with. Ditto the military industrial complex and the roads industrial complex.

      26. “…house with the red porch light…”

        “Did I call her a prostitute?”

        Yes, Joe. Yes, you clearly did.

      27. Well maybe I could have said BLUE or WHITE and it wouldn’t make a damn hill of difference. If some think I said the word, look, sorry but I didn’t say that. You did, you suggested it.

        The point is pal: Get a bunch of steady friends who won’t rob from you to pay WEA union bosses.

      28. Nice clumsy and not remotely convincing attempt to spin and backpedal.

        You could totally be a state Republican rep with those skills.

      29. One last thing, and then let’s all agree to a cooling off period….

        I am no fan of Representative Orcutt, Senator King, Rep. Farrell nor frankly 140+ state legislators. I think most are up for sale to the highest bidder and not pro-transit to my satisfaction.

        If I called somebody a filthy name tonight, sorry. There was no intention to do so.

      30. Our “educators” are paid enough thank you. We don’t need to take transit dollars – all voter-approved to pay for the education industry, the roads industry or the parks industry!

        I rest my case.


      31. Ms. Farrell is my representative. I’ve been in contact with her and unlike other representatives, she is very responsive. I haven’t tried to contact the governor because, well, he is the governor. I’ve worked with Inslee before personally (we put up yard signs together when he was running for Congress). I believe that he is a strong environmentalist, but I believe he favors grand legislation — swinging for the fences if you will — instead of little improvements (a solid single). He did this in Congress, when he supported ethanol legislation. He rightly assumed that this could be a huge deal breaker. Not ethanol from corn, but ethanol from farm waste (which has never panned out). If it had worked, then you would have a rural-urban coalition not seen since the New Deal. Before representing the 1st district, he represented the 4th, so he knows about such things. Still, as an arm chair political consultant, I feel like screaming at him to “just get on base!”.

        Anyway, here is how things went down from my perspective:

        Inslee reveals his transportation budget, after talking with members of his staff (and presumably representatives from his party if not the other). It contained, global warming legislation that was bold, but not easily understood (which I suppose is the point — a gas tax is probably more effective but less popular). It also contained a couple projects of dubious value, especially the 509/167 projects. The rationale for the 167 project is that it will improve port related traffic. No discussion as to whether improving rail facilities (from the port to distribution facilities) would be a better approach. My guess is because while the port people want the road improvements, the folks in those districts want the roads more. Inslee (and the people under him) probably felt that without the support of those swing representatives, they wouldn’t have a roads package. So while Inslee tried to get innovative changes in a transportation budget (to fight global warming) he compromised and assumed that building roads in sprawling suburban districts was a necessary trade-off. Of course, many essential road projects (e. g. 520) were included as well.

        I saw the package and was horribly disappointed. I knew about the 167/509 plans for years, but never thought Inslee would propose including them. Maybe in a compromise deal, but not as an opening proposal. So I wrote my representatives and suggested an alternative. How about a budget that focuses on maintenance and “finishing what we started” (like 520). I asked if maybe they could get some Republicans on board, since the gas tax would be much smaller. Farrell was the only one to respond. She said that the Republicans would never go for it. Now, maybe she didn’t try hard enough (a friend of mine was a clerk in Olympia and he said the situation reminded him of high school — a bad high school — with cliques and people ignoring the speeches while they play around on their phones). So maybe she should have tried to reach across the aisle. But I also saw nothing like this from Republicans. The Republicans who wanted lower taxes just voted against this (or went along with their party leaders). There was no attempt by the so called fiscal conservatives to produce a reasonable, small, effective budget. They were playing the same games, but from the right. So Farrell was probably correct and even if she went on long walks with each and every Republican, she probably couldn’t have convinced any one of them to do what is right — to stand up for their convictions — instead of playing politics.

        So, of course, the Republicans countered the governor’s proposal. They stripped all the global warming legislation and attached various nasty legislation, but kept in all the roads. Farrell (and others) tried to remove some of these amendments. With some she succeeded, with some she failed. If not for the amendment in question, the money would have gone back to the state, not the district. On the surface this is not a terrible thing (in my mind). This happens all the time. You have a project, but parts of the project can be taxed. If we had an income tax, then the money each worker made would still be taxed. As it is, the money they spend on goods and services (after being paid) will go back to the state. If private contractors are hired, my guess is they pay B and O taxes, like everyone else.

        What made this different was that it didn’t apply to road material purchases (this time), and that the only major transit project was here. If transit spending was spread out everywhere (like road spending) it wouldn’t make much difference, but since transit spending is focused here, it was essentially a tax that targeted an area and asked that area to pay for state services (above and beyond what they normally pay). Farrell replaced that with a tax that puts the money in this district.

        Joe seems upset that the money goes to education, but I think that misses the point. If the money had gone to the state, then the state could have shifted money from the general education fund to other services, or lowered taxes. Cut education by that amount, and increase spending on health and human services. Or lower taxes overall for everyone. So someone in Yakima gets a tiny tax break, while those in the Sound Transit area pay more. This is the part that was terrible.

        The same tax shifting can happen here. This extra money will go to the schools in this area. This means that the schools can pass a lower tax levy, if they want. It really doesn’t matter — money can be moved around. But the key thing is that one area (the Sound Transit area) won’t pay extra, so that the rest of the state pays less. This is a good thing, and I think representative Farrell did a good job in this area.

        But overall this is a minor thing. The governor completely misplayed his hand. He should have been the one proposing the small budget, and let others push for their pet projects. He has worked in the state house (and the federal house) so I really don’t understand this. Perhaps it is because he has never been in a leadership position in the state or federal congress. I don’t think he knows how to trade votes, or how to negotiate well. He probably trusted the leadership too much, and got played. The Republicans were all too happy to start with a bloated roads budget (they certainly won’t oppose those roads in suburban swing districts) and then remove the global warming stuff and replace it with the opposite. That is what happened. Rookie mistake, I guess.

      32. Good comment RossB. Joe is very upset that transit is now subsidizing education.

        Again, I would have said we need more transit grants in WSDOT – at least for King County Metro, Everett Transit, Community Transit & Pierce Transit. Made that my opening offer.

        I also if Gov’r would have wanted road maintenance, culverts/stormwater required by the judiciary, transit package authorization and bridge replacement (e.g. 520). I would at this point need some convincing we need more road lanes.

    2. [ad hominem] should read perhaps, maybe in hindsight The “$500 Million Sound Transit Tribute to the Education Industry and Its Legislative Puppets”. Note the plural.

      I reiterate had this money gone to King County Metro, Community Transit, Everett Transit, and Pierce Transit – no complaints from me. I have no right to complain if that is what happened since Skagit County taxpayers like I are subsidizing (we only get back 85 cents of services per 1 dollar of tax) a wheeled passenger-only ferry to/from Island County in the county connectors.

      This is a bad precedent that means more transit moneys can be taken away from transit in general – and this was done to keep Rep. Jessyn Farrell from attaching a referendum clause instead of leading the charge on the legislative floor against a referendum on the gas tax & highways. This is also until 2016 the last open comment thread I am raising the issue. Perceive your friend Jessyn is pro-transit at your peril I believe.

      Hey legislators, male or female, grab a microphone with a TVW camera aimed at it, you will be held accountable.

      1. Joe,

        It wasn’t going to go to transit in any plausible scenario. It was going to the general fund to make up for the $500-odd million hole that exempting highway projects from state sales tax was blowing in that general fund budget.

        What Representative Farrell did was ensure that the money is directed to education — the state’s primary Constitutional responsibility — and got agreement from the boonies caucus that it could stay in the areas which were providing it.

        I call that a double win and I’m amazed that the rural folks agreed to it. Kudos to them for recognizing that they can only take so many golden eggs from the Puget Sound goose.

      2. Anandakos – I’m sad you of all fellas down here in the STB comments have gone wobbly and think we should use transit dollars to fund another function of government.

        I would be a lot more gracious towards Rep. Jessyn Farrell had effort been exerted either to put the money back into transit or a referendum on the gas tax PLUS, PLUS serious regulatory & tax relief for transit agencies. As is, we got an okay deal – it would have been rather good without “$500 Million Sound Transit Tribute to the Education Industry”.

        I think it’s obvious I’m losing the final round if I can’t win you over.

      3. Hey, you know what would be even better?

        If the right wing faction to which you subscribe would knock the “I got mine, you (can vote to self-tax for) yours, and then we’ll steal 4% of it just because we can” charade the fuck off.

        As long as you publicly identify with the Grand Larceny Party, you don’t have a leg to stand on here.

      4. Considering the Republican Party is the party that would have liked a public vote on the gas tax, and is the party of regulatory relief, dp you and your blame-shifting party deserve what you get from the female & male hustlers that currently represent you.

        After all, you know Speaker Chopp who happens to reside in Seattle could have put a stop to this… ditto a lot of Democrats and some suburban Republicans who know better. Knowing you will vilely bring it up, I’m not asking the state legislature to bail out Island Transit or give more goodies to Skagit Transit here – I’m just asking will we hold accountable state legislatures who rob from us to pay WEA union bosses? At least soon, it seems America governmental workplaces will be right-to-work and the WEA won’t have the money to literally buy state legislators in 2020. Not that I think anybody buying state legislators is a good idea…

        Most STB commentators know state Democrat legislators are perceived as too hustled to do the WEA’s bidding instead of in concert with other governmental priorities. When do we as a state say NO, enough?

        This isn’t a Republican problem. Unless that is you can give me a name and a quote for me please of one Republican who hustled for this transfer. I dare ya. Don’t use the regulatory relief for WSDOT as an excuse to pin this on the Elephant – there were other options such as closing tax loopholes, tying the same relief & more to transit agencies to be equal, I could go on.

        Ultimately, I’m about getting the best deal for transit possible to spread the transit net as far as possible. There’s my agenda.

      5. “Regulatory relief.” (How platitudinal!)

        “Vote on the gas tax.” (How ahistorical!)

        [rolls eyes]

        The $500 million transfer b.s. idea was hatched in the Senate. The Senate is the upper chamber of our state’s bicameral legislature. It is controlled by the Republican caucus.

        That is the sole body responsible for this insane, unprecedented transfer of locally-specific self-taxation into the statewide general fund.

        No one is “on record”, because it was hatched in negotiations that are private by design.

        But you are literally the only person in the state pretending not to understand which party’s nefarious idea this ransom payment was.

        Stop it. Stop the Fox News blame-shifting and anti-labor regurgitations and profoundly reality-warping rhetoric. Stop shoving your own head deep into your rectum. Just stop.

      6. Joe,

        I didn’t say we should take money away from transit, I said, as several others have also said, that it is inevitable that we would. And that makes Representative Farrell’s amendment a good counter-move.

        Once the sales tax exemption was baked into the bill, Democrats had two choices. they could let the money flow into the “general fund” as the Republican bill-writers insisted and be hacked up into little nibbles for every agency in the state. Or they could insist that it be directed by the Puget Sound Counties from which its replacement revenues were being raised. Given the current arguments over “full K-12 funding”, sending it to education was something to which everyone could agree. The Democrats get to say, “See, we can still deliver for education.” and the Republicans get to say, “We do too care about education!”

      7. Anadokos, my point my friend is we could have demanded better and Rep. Farrell choose what she did. If STB folks want to let her off, okay. Fine. I don’t want to revisit this issue again in 2015… as sadly we’re talking past each other.

        I don’t blame just her, but she’s the one who grabbed the microphone as the lady of the nighttime speeches. I watched the TVW replay of the debates and it was Rep. Orcutt (Republican) who demanded a referendum on the gas tax.

      8. Joe, you aren’t even listening to what Anandakos is saying. The tax on ST is not Farrell’s fault. You’re singling Farrell out for making any amendment, when it was the entire legislature’s responsibility to strike out the transfer from ST. Why are you letting all the other legislators off the hook just because Farrell proposed a different kind of amendment? At least Farrell’s amendment made the law better than it would have been without it.

        “Considering the Republican Party is the party that would have liked a public vote on the gas tax”

        First I heard about it. Why didn’t they do it then? All I heard about was funding new exurban freeways without a vote.

      9. Mike;

        As to me singling out Rep. Farrell, I watched the debates carefully. I listened, I attempted to warn some of you guys. I also have said, “Speaker Chopp who happens to reside in Seattle could have put a stop to this… ditto a lot of Democrats and some suburban Republicans who know better”.

        As to the gas tax, I watched the TVW debates. I also have for friends some in the House Republican Caucus. There was a genuine effort to put the gas tax up to referendum – something many of us wanted here. Rep. Farrell undercut us – but apparently most in the STB community prefer her and I’ll stop there before somebody who doesn’t watch TVW accuses me of misogyny.

      10. d.p. is so far… OUT THERE I’m not going to dignify his/her/its trolling with much more of a response than you deserve the cheap legislators you get.

        Same to the rest of you. You wanted the gas tax to go to referendum, Rep. Farrell was ready to do that for us but sold us out to the WEA union bosses, yet you guys won’t primary her or run a moderate Republican. Okay then, the Farrell Fan Club wins and I lose.

        On to other subjects – unless I misunderstood any of you.

      11. Farrell blocked the Republican majority from putting the gas-tax plan up to a referendum in the Senate bill? Singlehandedly? (Or with a just few allies?) That’s interesting.

      12. Just watch the 1st three (3) or so minutes of – the Rep. Farrell amendment ( ) to Transfer Transit Dollars to Public Education is debated straight out. I agree w/ Rep. Orcutt.

        Then right away, Rep. Orcutt led the charge for the referendum clause. Rep. Farrell (WEA) won the day.

        Now you will get my righteousness about this. Many of you know I do not like the emergency clause and prefer voters decide on taxes.

        Guys, I think many of you would be well served to start watching TVW legislative debate clips now and then.

      13. All your video shows is Representative Orcutt (R – Thieveryton) desiring to “backfill” the hole his party blew in the general fund with its the highway giveaway.

        He explicitly states his wish to “backfill” solely from Puget Sound residents (and no one else), so that he doesn’t have to explain to his constutents in Thieveryton that highway projects cost money and that they might have to help pay for them at the pump.

        Who cares how much floor debate you watch, if you haven’t a clue what’s going on, Joe?

      14. d.p., it has long ago been established you have little to no credibility whatever.

        “Thieveryton” is NOT a district.

        “He explicitly states his wish to “backfill” solely from Puget Sound residents” – tell me where in the clip.

        Just do it if you really want me to feel 2 inches tall.

      15. Hey buddy:

        a) I don’t watch Faux News

        b) Rep. Orcutt was “a little puzzled by this amendment… and how in a transportation tax package… how do we allocate money in a different budget. This is not an appropriate way to go and I recommend a no vote”. Rep. Orcutt then turned and demanded a referendum – one thing Rep. Jessyn Farrell demanded. I can type very fast.

        c) I recommend you find a new date. The libertarian party would welcome you.

      16. Orcutt was quite clear: Republican intentions in the original negotiations were to use Puget Sound-voted transportation money as half a billion in slush for the general fund.

        All subsequent bloviating is nothing but a temper tantrum about losing that slush.

      17. Considering the source, as to:

        “Orcutt was quite clear: Republican intentions in the original negotiations were to use Puget Sound-voted transportation money as half a billion in slush for the general fund.”

        Direct quote please.

        After all, why should WSDOT chip in to the general fund? Ditto Sound Transit?

        People like you are saboteurs not working for the best deal possible. You just want Dee Progressive – not the best transit net possible.

      18. Again, 1:58. Not remotely unclear.

        No attempt to mask a direct transfer of $500,000,000 in local self-taxation to the general fund to backfill a giveaway to highway projects.

        What the hell is so hard for you to understand about this?

      19. Representative Orcutt was against this gamesmanship, you’re just playing with words.

        Again DeePee.

        I got Transit Development Plan comments to submit. To a professional female transit planner with integrity.

      20. First off, Joe, if you think that a real debate occurs in front of the cameras, you will be sadly disappointed to know that it doesn’t. Everything occurs in the back rooms. The speeches are just for show, which is why so many of the legislators just ignore them (ask a clerk if you think I’m wrong).

        Second, it really isn’t about whether the money goes to education, health and human services, the state patrol or any other part of the budget. What is important is where it goes, and where it comes from. Money can be moved around, which is why legislation with dedicated spending is stupid. If the original legislation passed, then in a couple years the state would simply move 500 million from education to another area (or cut taxes). What makes this unusual, and terrible, is that it would be a tax on a particular area (Seattle mostly) that would give the rest of the state a break. So folks in Walla Walla might get a tax break, while those in Seattle (and surrounding areas) pick up the bill.

        This isn’t good, and now has been changed. The money stays in this area. The tax and the dedicated funding are probably all she (and the other representatives) could get away with. But as with other dedicated funding legislation, it really doesn’t matter. Taxes in the various areas can be shifted around. If the next ST proposal passes, then the next school levy (in your district) could be just a little bit smaller. If so, then there is no real change. If not, then it means that the voters (and the school board) simply want to spend more money on education. So if this really bothers you, then ask the school board (after ST3 passes) to ask for less money.

      21. Good comment but I still think this is wrong. Dump Farrell.

        Maybe next time one of these expensive date politicians – male and female – will stand with us when it pours in the middle of the night.

      22. I’m just asking will we hold accountable state legislatures who rob from us to pay WEA union bosses?”

        Well, Joe, now you’ve morphed from someone who is a bit too enthusiastic about “transit everywhere” for my particular view, but one whose position is honorable and certainly has reasonable arguments in its favor, into an enemy of the people.

        So goodbye, Joe. Hope you enjoy living in the Medieval world that your wealthy masters have planned for you. You can be certain that they won’t look kindly on or be generous to your disability. It’s all about “value added” to their bottom line, not people.

      23. Well, Joe, now you’ve morphed from someone who is a bit too enthusiastic about “transit everywhere” for my particular view, but one whose position is honorable and certainly has reasonable arguments in its favor, into an enemy of the people.

        “Enemy of the people” because I oppose the WEA taking transit dollars and the WEA’s nonstop thirst for cash?

        I am and remain respectfully a bit too enthusiastic about “transit everywhere”. I admit to that. My bias is to spread the transit net. Taking money out of transit for any reason is not cool with any transit advocate worthy of the title. We transit advocates should have said point-blank to the WSDOT tax cut advocates: You either give transit agencies the same tax break, or you put this to referendum.

        Making a deal to help satisfy WEA union bosses or road construction company CEOs instead of getting Sound Transit regulatory relief and waivers so we can speed up construction of more light rail faster is not cool with me. Never has been, never will be.

        We good now?

      24. I will say that I think that Speaker Chopp railroaded the amendment through. While the “Yea!” shout certainly was clamorous, so was the “Nay” shout. Clearly it wasn’t different enough to be clearly discernible. A division of the House should have been called and recorded.

        Now the result would probably have been the same, but it was a sleazy way to handle the allocation of a half billion dollars.

      25. No, we’re not good. The trade union movement through the 1950’s and 1960’s historically had aspects which required reform. There are even yet a few reactionary pockets of corruption in it, but education is certainly not one of them.

        In today’s world unions are the only thing standing between the people of the nation and penury. And that goes for both their own member and everyone else who benefits from “progressive” concepts such as graduated income taxes, the EITC, retirement and disability insurance, and an ever-wider franchise. It provides a significant part of the Democratic Party’s funding and is an counterbalance to the authoritarian “libertarian techies” who are the another large source. The third leg of the stool is Hollywood and other arts aficionados who simply can’t stand the aesthetic crassness of the small business folks who dominate the Republican grassroots and so support the Democrats as a less bad option.

        Of those three groups, trade unions are the only group who genuinely care about everyone. Yes, they care especially strongly about their members, but they have a dialectic which recognizes the contributions that every member of society makes, even those with mental disabilities preventing them from work.

        Now all this bloviation is a sideshow for the transit orientation of this blog, I will certainly agree. But without unions there will be nothing standing in the way of a complete takeover of government by wealth, privilege, and inherited elites. So, yes, since you’re obviously pretty rabidly anti-union, you are indeed an enemy of the people.

      26. Good stuff Anandakos. I don’t want a long winded off-topic discussion but I gotta tell ya I support private sector unions 100%. Corporate power is a threat to republican democracy. Private sector unions protect worker bees – public sector unions have sadly overreached our ability as taxpayers to pay.

        As to, “Now all this bloviation is a sideshow for the transit orientation of this blog, I will certainly agree. But without unions there will be nothing standing in the way of a complete takeover of government by wealth, privilege, and inherited elites.”

        Yeah, probably. I worry about what would happen without a strong IAM 751…. ;-)

        So please quit calling me an “enemy of the people” because I want the WEA weakened and put in its place instead of overpowering other functions of government & going on illegal strike.


      27. And, I should have specified, a “good hearted enemy of the people.” I think you’ve simply not had sufficient access to an unbiased historical record. I hope you have the opportunity to learn more about the struggles of the labor movement in America.

      28. Thank you. I’m an enemy of the WEA because their tactics and demands have turned me against them.

        As I said earlier, making a deal to help satisfy WEA union bosses or road construction company CEOs instead of getting Sound Transit regulatory relief and waivers so we can speed up construction of more light rail faster is not cool with me. Never has been, never will be.

      29. “Considering the Republican Party is the party that would have liked a public vote on the gas tax”

        Perhaps they’d be willing to write an STB guest article saying they agree with us that gas-tax projects and gas-tax raises should be put to a public referendum if transit projects/operations are held to that standard. They could also say they’d eliminate the state restrictions on regional/local transit taxes, to allow voters in regions/counties/cities to raise transit taxes as high as they want with voter approval, since they’re the only ones paying them and the rest of the state isn’t. Then the regions/counties/cities wouldn’t have to go to the state for specific permission for every transit capital project.

      30. I, for one, would like to see that conversation furthered.

        I get what the Representative Orcutts say that they feel they have to watch out for the overall tax burden – but sure he and most members of the rural party cannot stand “Big Government” telling them what to do.

        It cuts both ways.

      31. Rein it in, guys. The nature of education spending is out of scope for STB, even an open thread, and even though it’s linked through this bill.

      32. Agreed. I think we’re about done here anyway.

        If somebody wants to step forward to primary Jeesyn Farrell, great. I’ll contribute a lot.

        If not, okay. I made the best argument I could.

        There are other things we as a transit community need to discuss – such as Island Transit, ST3 projects, electric buses, hydrogen fueled buses, Mukilteo’s transit needs, etcetera.

      33. OK, Joe. My sincerest apologies. I don’t agree about the WEA but your other support for unionism is much appreciated. Thank you for not getting angry with me. I deserved it, but you were gracious enough to refrain. I appreciate it.

  8. While MAX orange line isn’t officially open for service, various groups are offered rides on th e trains, including a certain number from a drawing.

    Is there anything like that being offered for Husky Stadium Link?

    1. Not yet (but I hope there’s preview rides). Imagine a STB meetup underneath Capitol Hill…

      I’m considering making the trek down to Portland to see the Orange Line opening. Any recommendations on which stations will have the best opening day events? I imagine the ones near the new bridge and the southern terminus will have the largest ones.

      1. Oh man, is that a can of worms. I’ve heard people that should know say that there might be 20,000 people on hand for the opening day. It’s very possible considering stuff that has happened on past opening days.

        I’m guessing the new bridge will be the best due to the open space around the bridge for larger concerts and etc. I’ve yet to find a good summary of everything they have planned.

        Because of the huge crowds on days like this, they will be operating fare-free on Saturday. It’s just too much of a mess to do otherwise. They’ll need to cram as many people through the system as quickly as possible, and they can’t do that while dealing with fares as well.

        Milwaukie might surprise me and have somewhat of a good show. They have a bit of an arts community there that can put on a good show, but usually that is Sundays at the farmer’s market.

        The area known as Brooklyn could have a good show too, but the station isn’t too close to the artistic center of the community, and there’s not too much in the way of outdoor performance space near the station.

        So, my bet is on the new bridge.

      2. By the way, keep in mind that opening events are going to be going on for about a month.

        For example, there is the fireworks show on August 22nd:

        The public art walking tour will be on August 7th:

        First Light for the bridge will be on Sept 10th:

        The only official event they have announced for the 12th is that the new bridge will feature a temporary Grande Ronde Village:

        In typical fashion for any USA transit agency, the Opening Day events page currently points to a Facebook page, which says for more information see the Catch The Orange page, which of course is what you followed to the Facebook page to begin with. You’re welcome to follow that loop until September 12th for as long a time as you see fit.

      3. I am pretty sure they are sponsored by someone. If they weren’t, someone at Willamette Week would have dug up the numbers by now and published an article about “They’re spending [Huge Sounding Number] on a fireworks show while at the same time they cut [some obscure program 10 people use].”

  9. I had a hard time digesting Jarrett’s article. TransLink isn’t just a transit agency, it’s a semi-privatized transportation authority with grossly overpaid administration (huge severance packages, annual/performance bonuses, etc). The “hate” that developed against TransLink, and to BC Ferries, has been developing for sometime. Do a quick search on the Vancouver Sun, CTV and CBC News (Canada), and other Canadian news outlets for Lower Mainland BC regarding these “quasi-private” agencies. Disdain for TransLink translated into “No” votes primarily because the plebiscite wanted reform to the administration and have better accountability, not because they didn’t want expansion. Jarrett advocates throwing more money at the problem without addressing the voters’ concerns.

    1. I was just up in Vancouver. What I experienced was a transit system that got me everywhere I wanted to go, with wait times of just a few minutes, and usually much less than that, and very little room for additional passengers to get on board. They certainly didn’t appear to be deploying resources wastefully, or running any “empty buses”. If some executives were getting paid well to run such a fantastic transit system, so be it.

      1. +1

        David Gunn was hired to reform NYCTA, even though he is a Canadian citizen.

        Very few people manage transit systems well, and the best will get hired by the highest bidder.

      2. Brent, are you suggesting that I don’t visit Vancouver regularly and am unversed on it’s capabilities?

        TransLink is still accountable to the public, even with its semi-private status and the fact it collects taxes from a variety of fronts. My concern is that these unelected individuals reward themselves with bonuses and inflated salaries with voters’ money. Therein lies the conundrum (much like our legislators voting themselves an 11% pay bump). These pay packages amount to things such as the former CEO getting a fabulous severance package of $35,000/month until mid 2016 (for being a “consultant”).

        TransLink Salary Flap

      3. I wasn’t saying anything about you, Charlotte. But your words speak volumes about how you feel about public transit, since this concern trolling about governance structures is a tried-and-true tactic to oppose transit initiatives.

      4. Um, these are TOTALLY REASONABLE salaries at Translink. It’s hard to find competent people to run transit systems and $500K/year is well inside the right range for a competent CEO. Look at it this way: it’s about $240/hour, which is less than many top-notch lawyers get paid.

        I don’t start getting upset by CEO salaries until they exceed $1 million a year.

        At $10 million/year (which is common for big corporate CEOs) they’re obviously just looting the company, because nobody is worth $4807/hour.

      5. …in general, if you want to see if pay for a highly specialized professional job is too high, convert it to hourly, then compare it to top-tier lawyer billings. (Lawyers actually work by the hour, unlike most other top-tier professionals.)

    2. I think Jarrett Walker’s fawning over Translink’s planning department is unwarranted.

      Translink is a mess all around.




      Yes, Brent, they do run lots of buses, that carry lots of people, and run them frequently. The vast majority of those buses ran at similar frequencies, on the same routes, for many years before Translink came into the picture. When I go up there, I experience many of the same things. But our anecdotal experiences do not define the agency.

      Translink has a hard time keep costs under control, identifying and fixing problems on the fly, and executing the service they put on the street, consistently. The government agency bus subcontractor, CMBC, has a lot of issues.

      The entire structure of the organization did not work out as planned when initiated 15 years ago (the idea being a top level admin/planning agency – TL – with operations subcontracted as necessary … the subcontracting got as far as their own agency, and stopped there, creating layers of duplication rather than cost savings).

      It’s time for BC to take a hard look at TL (and BC Ferries, for that matter, which is suffering from similar problems), and figure out what a better structure would look like.

      1. No, anecdotal experiences don’t define an agency. But they are third in North America in per capita transit usage. Third! That number shocked the hell out of me. New York, Toronto, Vancouver sitting on the pedestal. Bronze looks really good for a city that size (again, it is per capita, but still). []

        Which is not to say that they don’t have operations or governance problems. But the subway lines were built well, with frequent stops and frequent trains that connect to frequent buses. We can’t even get our buses in the most populous region in the state to connect to our train (because we only put in one stop).

        Complaining about the way the Vancouver transit system is run is a bit like complaining about the way the Seahawks are run. Yes, they should have won the Super Bowl, but holy smoke, they won it two years ago and were runners up last year. I’m sitting here in the land of the Oakland Raiders. I’m sorry if Vancouver folks feel like you need major changes. I’m just jealous. Do you want to trade?

      2. It should be “standing on the pedestal” (not sitting). Hard to be triumphant if you are sitting.

    3. I will spite vote against the bloat of King County metro anytime I can. I wish Seattle had grown up and used their transit money wisely like other cities. Contract their own service at a fraction of the cost and give people more transit.

      1. “A fraction” sounds like 10%. At best it would get something like what Pierce Transit and Community Transit are paying. (Community Transit contracts to a private operator, so it’s comparable.) Their costs are somewhat less than Metro’s, but I would guess it’s more like 75% than 10%. The city would also have to get the tax authority granted by the legislature, and the legislature is much less willing to do that now due to its Eyman-fear. And the county would have to, what, exclude Seattle from Metro and the Metro tax? Metro is a county department now so there may be legal issues with doing that (e.g., equal services to county residents).

      2. Mark,

        Because of legacy service Seattle still gets more transit from Metro than would be paid for strictly by the taxes within the City, so unless you think that the overhead at Metro so much greater than it would be with direct city operation, the City is still getting a very good deal. The envious folks out in the county are right: they do subsidize transit in Seattle.

        Because of 40-40-20 the hours of service ratio is much closer to “what is paid for” today than ten years ago, but it’s still somewhat in Seattle’s favor.

        Of course that’s absolutely what should happen. If things were balanced exactly according to tax revenues paid in while meeting the true demand for service inside the City, the eastside “subarea” (that’s not the formal word the County uses) would have jillions of empty bus hours, and the southend sub would have some. There is simply much more demand for transit inside a truly urban city than in the suburbs.

      3. The remaining imbalance in Metro’s service is that Seattle and South King County have less bus service than they could productively use, and the Eastside has more than it can use which leads to little-used coverage routes. Metro has been good about keeping the service hours within subareas during reorganizations, and that includes large Seattle districts like northeast, east, and southeast. Obviously, shifting hours between subareas would be highly controversial no matter which direction they go. But city-suburban routes and express routes are tricky so it can be hard to agree on who should pay for them. Metro sometimes divides routes into “touches Seattle” or “touches central Seattle” vs those that don’t, which is a loophole big enough to drive a bunch of suburban-benefitting downtown routes through. Still, no matter how you slice it, somebody would complain. Metro does the best it can given its own standards. (Or as Sam might say, “Metro has a high estimation of itself in its own opinion.”)

        Although I’m not sure how to reconcile “the Eastside has more service hours than it knows what to do with” with Bellevue’s excellent Transit Master Plan which calls for full-time frequent corridors that would require more service hours than currently exist. Why aren’t the excess hours going into those corridors?

    4. It reminds me of a conversation I had with my mom when I was just a little lad. She was a member of the school board, and the board had done some unpopular things. A new levy was coming up, and I said I don’t blame folks if they vote against the levy — makes sense to me. She quickly (and correctly) pointed out that you shouldn’t vote against a levy because you hate the board, you should just vote against the board members. Hard to argue against that.

      But what exactly is the governance structure for the transit board in Vancouver? For most school boards, the board doesn’t get paid, but they hire a superintendent, and decide how much that person will be paid, as well as everyone else. I’m not suggesting that these board members work like school board members (for free) but it seems to me like directly voting on a board is the way to go. Their salaries could be set by a different commission (or otherwise legislated). But the folks they hire could earn a lot, or a little, depending on what the board decides.

      The folks in charge blew it by not proposing a change in governance structure before they proposed a spending package. It wasn’t enough to have a few guys fired (while still collecting full salaries, no less).

      I also think that their success might have caught up with them a bit. I’m sure a lot of Vancouver residents think the current transit system works really well (for good reason — So much so, that a lot of people might say “enough already”. Sending a message isn’t a huge loss, because the system right now is still way better than what most cities have.

  10. The entitlement in the Cap Hill letter is outstanding. People in the comments on that blog are saying that the apartment in question there is ugly, but it looks great to me. I love the wood outside panel, and its proximity to light rail will be fantastic.

    I really need to figure out how to argue against that kind of entitled thinking effectively without having the arguer getting defensive. Something to think about, because some commenters made every anti density commenter on CHS defensive with their responses.

    1. I think that banana types really are training themselves to find all new development aesthetically objectionable as an adaptive strategy, so they don’t have to fake it.

      1. Think of all the Andean Condors that could have lived in the trees that could have been planted..

        Seriously, though, the problem may not be the verbage, but the medium. Show up to neighborhood association meetings. That’s where most development battles are won and lost, and people really do listen to each other there.

    2. I was glad the Capitol Hill comments were balanced. On KUOW’s Week In Review it was all pitchforks about the housing affordability draft. Everyone talked about preserving single-family neighborhoods; nobody talked about how people will find a place to live or the rising rents. It’s like they don’t understand that the moat they’re trying to preserve leaves people out, people who are forced to pay $1500 rent or live in Des Moines or Marysville.

      And they misrepresented the racial issue. The report correctly states that zoning originated to keep minorities and the poor out of certain neighborhoods. That got turned into, “If you support single-family zoning now, you’re a racist, and that’s why we need higher density.” No! It doesn’t make individuals now racists. But we have to acknowledge that the original intended purpose of zoning was racist and classist, and that its ongoing de facto effect is to make housing in large parts of the city unavailable and unaffordable to low- and middle-income people, who often are minorities. It’s all about allowing everyone who wants to live in Seattle to do so, and to give them a choice of locations and housing types rather than just one or two bad options.

      Chris Vance got my goat too. I thought he was a moderate old-school Republican, but he ended up sounding identical to the right-wingers on these issues. He acknowledge that single-family zoning may be a bad restriction in a new greenfield development, but now that it has been established in these neighborhoods for decades, these people have rights to keep their neighborhood that way. They have a right for their neighborhood to remain just like it was when they bought their house. That apparently means they have the right to prevent their neighbor from building a duplex, even if they don’t own the neighbor’s land. Because several decades of zoning gave them that right! And those people who want a place to live or don’t want their rent/mortage to keep climbing sky-high, apparently they don’t exist because he doesn’t acknowledge it as a concern.

    3. All those one-sided pitchforks made me pessimistic about the future. If we get a bunch of NIMBY councilmembers, I want a big campaign to keep asking them and force them to repeatedly explain why they think preserving single-family neighborhoods and low density is more important than making sure housing availability is maintained. If we grow a number of jobs, then we need at least that many more housing units. Vacancies are low and prices are rising, so we need more housing or it’s going to get worse.

  11. If you’ve spent your entire life and career in Seattle, as Licata possibly has, then it is unsurprising that you would think “mass transit” can’t possibly carry people efficiently for long distances while also enabling high turnover and quick trips along the way.

    That’s an indictment of decades of Metro operational history (as well as of Sound Transit’s distortic planning and rhetoric) more than an indictment of Licata.

    But since Seattle’s streetcars-to-nowhere are so poorly considered that they can’t even be counted on for short trips right along their precise vectors, his indictment of their sole purported purpose is perfectly valid in this instance.

    1. I can’t really respect anyone who’s incapable of taking a trip to another city, and proceeds to make sweeping generalizations based on one and only one city.

    2. It depends on how long is “long”. If transit is defined as Seattle to Lynnwood, then that’s too narrow. But if it’s defined as also downtown to Ballard and downtown to Group Health, then that’s exactly what transit should be providing. He may be talking about the SLUT’s short distance and how you can walk the entire length in half an hour, and people do so and arrive at the same time as the train. That’s pretty weak as far as transit goes. The 70 and 40 are better examples of a “long” distance: they actually go somewhere that’s too far to walk.

    3. That being said, there is no excuse for these guys (and gals) being so bad when it comes to transit. They get paid pretty good money. They have a lot to worry about (a police crisis is probably top on the list). But at some point, in your long career of public service, you should listen to experts when it comes to transit. You might figure it out (as I have) or just listen. Really — the transit people are not that hard to find and they will all say something very similar to what you say, d. p.. It really isn’t rocket science. Compared to half of what they do (standing in front of a huge crowd and explaining why you are a better candidate than the gal sitting next to you) it is really easy. We aren’t talking about arm chair quarterbacking, because being a quarterback (even the part that doesn’t involve getting hit by a 300 pound lineman) is really, really hard. I spent much of my youth watching football but I can’t tell you what a cover two is versus a cover three, let alone figure it out in a split second, before I have to make a pass. But I sure as hell know that if you are going to spend billions on a light rail line from the UW to downtown (which is essential) than it should have more than one stop in between there. At a minimum you need a stop at 520, and oh — I don’t know — let’s ask the bus guys at Metro where they would like a stop or two? Nyahhhhh, the important thing is that we keep building onward and outward. Spine or Bust, Baby!

      I don’t mean to signal out Licata, but I just don’t see anyone, anywhere, saying what needs to be said. You don’t get better unless you admit your mistakes. We have made a lot of mistakes, and someone in a leadership position needs to say that. I don’t care if there are excuses (and there are) but at least admit that if you had a chance to do it all over again, with more money (or less fear), you would have done it differently, so that people don’t get some screwy idea that this is what a mass transit system should look like. It’s just not.

  12. I really worry about spite votes against Sound Transit.

    If I lived in the Sound Transit district, sure I’d have a litany of complaints (why no service to Mukilteo? How long until double-talls out of Everett Station? Sounder North?!?!?) but I also would want to have three rotating taxation authorities to keep growing high capacity transit through our region.

    There you go.

    1. Given current Everett travel times during the peak and reverse commuting, including Everett makes sense. What I am concerned about is the lack of benefit of connecting Paine Field. The 10 minute travel time penalty and the extra cost just to have the same ridership along 99 seems dumb. Also there has to be some way to not have so many sharp curves to traverse to wherever needed.

      1. Dan, I really think Sound Transit planners need to realize that in regards to Paine Field – without a great bus net from the Paine Field station to the museums, light manufacturing & flight schools surrounding Paine Field – that station is going to be bordering on empty most hours of the day. Also how much demand from the grassroots is there genuinely for this alignment?

      2. Per Paine Field one point I haven’t seen brought up is the fact that Snohomish County and Everett want it to be a regional airport. If commercial air service is provided it might be one argument in favor of running LRT there.

      3. Right now, it appears the Paine Field terminal application & permitting process is in limbo. An old court case given a stay has been reopened, plus Mayor Gregerson and the City of Mukilteo have filed a new one against the Snohomish County Gov’t. Looks unlikely this terminal will happen.

      4. No critical mass of flights. No economies of scale. No basis for competitive pricing.

        All similar civic-earnestness-based attempts to offer “reliever airports” in the same market as unmaxed-out primary airports have failed within 5-10 years.

        Many transit experts believe the case for “airport rail” as a top-level priority is thin even for primary regional airports. For a scheme to offer 30 flights per day before atrophying when profits fail to arrive, the case is nonexistent.

      5. Joe from what I have heard and have seen there are certain individuals that are wanting that alignment for the sake of getting more money. The thought is that I-5 or Paine Field will be the two choices which I completely disagree with. Bending to these wishes of politicians simply leaves us with a low quality transit system that we will be on the hook for, for the next 30 years. I am done with the whole “we need the entire spine” argument. While Everett is needed, a Tacoma extension at this time seems like a giant waste of money for a package. Sounder should be the focus and a reduction of travel times for that system rather than trying to extend Link. Unless someone can show me the station areas would have ridership, Federal Way is as far south as I would go at this point in time.

        It should be an SR 99 alignment and the case needs to be made to Snohomish politicians that this would look like a boondoggle rather than a win. The travel patterns I am betting do not support an LRT line to there. If Boeing wants a station, then they should pay the full price given the tax breaks they have received. Even with that, I still think it is sacrificing 10 minutes of run time to serve a place that might only need it during peaks which is what express buses are for.

        Everett travel time and following SR 99 is the more important of the elements versus serving an industrial center. I do not know of any industrial center that has an all day transit ridership element let alone a good supporting transit element.

  13. More about Mercer Island’s “hardball”: Adding bus traffic to downtown MI streets south of I-90 is likely to be problematic. This is not just a question of aesthetics – traffic is already fairly heavy, in an area with continuing residential and commercial development and finally some interesting places to go. ST & Metro have apparently been unwilling so far to commit to a ceiling on such bus traffic, even with the 80th Ave intercept (which I agree is basically a good idea). The proposal needs more work. My take is that the MI Council is basically telling ST / Metro “you REALLY need to work on this” – and Claudia Balducci’s comment near the end of the June 25 ST Board Meeting is saying that ST seems to have got the message.

    My fellow Islanders have much less the right of it about parking. We had a pretty good offer – construction of an additional lot that would transition to the city of MI over time – and the NIMBY’s nixed it. And it was indeed short-sighted to push against a larger structure when the existing P&R was built several years ago. All that said, the more fundamental problem is that free parking is a bad idea, just as toll-free I-90 lake crossings are.

    1. As I pointed out above, The Mercer Island City Council has raised no complaints about bus traffic on 27th (ONE bus route, and only 12 trips an hour at the peak).

      Their outspoken complaints and foot-stomping are all against the Sound Transit turnaround loop on the freeway lid, where ST-Express buses will turn around without ever going south of I-90. Every negative remark from Mercer Island electeds in the Reporter article was regarding the 80th St turnaround.

      1. Mr. Thereof,

        I understand your take on the M-I Reporter article, but you might want to look at this link:

        and I call your attention to this language:
        “2. Operational Parameters: Metro has not yet provided firm operational parameters or data that
        would sufficiently inform us as to bus volumes, bus routes on Mercer Island, how many buses
        would travel through the Town Center, or the number of buses parked or driving on Mercer
        Island at different times of day. Consequently, we are unable to come to definitive conclusions
        as to these issues. We have, however, made it clear to Sound Transit and Metro that under any
        construct, an agreement acceptable to Council will include firm and enforceable limits on key
        operational parameters such as these.”

      2. @Lack Thereof – There were three proposals before the 80th Ave SE proposal was created, and one involved using SE 27th Street for all bus movements. That option went nowhere; ST heard loud and clear that using SE 27th for significant bus traffic simply wasn’t acceptable.

  14. Hey I’m just curious – how many of you are donating to this world-class site? You can say how much if you feel up to it, but if not I understand.

    I just did $10 instead of a psnl trip to the Future of Flight in 6 days to an event of theirs. I hope soon to make it a recurring $10/month. I wish it was $20 or $25.


      1. Glenn,

        Yes, that’s true. But the film showed a modern city bus not a stagecoach, and IIRC Einstein used a thought experiment of one person on a moving train and another standing on the ground motionless. He then analyzed what happened to each of them in relation to experience of the passage of time.

        It he had been on a bus, I expect he would have used a bus for the illustration. Perhaps he knew that horse drawn buses hardly flirted with relativistic speeds and chose the train as at least somewhat more believable though still 0% cisluminal.

  15. “The Point Defiance Bypass bids are in, with Stacy & Witbeck besting the competition by $20M with a $53M bid.”

    YAY. The article was really short on detail. I remember that estimates for the Tacoma station renovations were edging upwards — will the $20 million savings allow the station to be built the way the locals want it to be built? How much can be allocated to other Cascades projects (of which there are lots)?

    1. The money can be shifted to other projects, as long as they are within the existing ARRA projects that WSDOT, ST, BNSF, UP, and Amtrak agreed upon.

    2. Good news, except that when a bid comes in that far below both competition (admittedly limited) and expectations, it ought to raise red flags. Is the contractor appropriately allowing for contingencies? Is he competent? Is he solvent?

      1. That is where I look at the unit bids because they will have low unit costs on certain items which raises a red flag. Usually if you dig a bit deeper, you will likely find there may have been some issues from previous projects.

      2. I really think everyone is being pretty alarmist here. Stacy & Witbeck is a very experienced rail infrastructure builder, certainly one of the most experienced three in the nation other than the big four railroads’ own Maintenance of Way Departments. They know how to grade and build railbeds and then lay the track structure on top of them efficiently and reliably.

        And while I agree that one should be skeptical of “out of line bids” by serial contract abusers, they aren’t in that group. And really, what “missing” elements within the RFP might there be? The only Bridge and Structures element is the replacement of the I-5 crossing west of Mounts Road and that can’t be hard to engineer. It will be a very similar steel truss bridge, but without all the “decorations”. At least initially.

        The rest of the route is re-grading on a reserved right of way and installing much upgraded crossings. I understand that the idea is to build a single-track but move it over toward the north side of the ROW enough that a second track can be built later while smoothing one of the curves for higher speeds. That second track would be required by the extension of Sounder to Dupont or possibly at some time, Olympia. It will probably be possible to do that while leaving the existing track in service, but if not, the rebuilding will be done in two stages leaving the Fort connected to rail initially at the Nisqually end and then via a reversing move over the newly reconstructed trackage.

        Crossings for the second track will likely be included in the reconstruction so that the approach roads don’t have to be closed again in the future.

    3. I cringe when I see these kinds differences among bids. That often means there is a loophole or something grossly missing within the RFP, and the state is going to be milked. I see it all too often when the contract is awarded.

  16. NE 50th to Westlake at 5pm Friday — 1 hour. Normal travel time: 20 minutes, Eastlake traffic: 10 minutes, Stewart/9th traffic: 10 minutes, DSTT traffic: 20 minutes. I can’t wait for University Link. I just hope they eliminate the DSTT overcrowding then; otherwise people will say, “Link is still as slow as crap.”

    This kind of slowdown occurs once or twice a month. A “regular” slowdown (10 minutes in the DSTT) occurs every weekday. One of the reasons people want Link is not just speed but reliability: to eliminate these slowdowns every few weeks.

    That makes me think more about West Seattle Link. I generally support open BRT, because its fanning nature would help West Seattle, and its fastest segment is the common one. (Whereas the 71/72/73X are the opposite: their bottlenecks are in the common segment.) But one thing a West Seattle Link supporter said stood out: the slowdowns once or twice a month whenever there’s an accident or extraordinary volume or a rainstorm or something. That’s the same kind of problem that happens on the 71/72/73X and it drives riders up the wall. Transit lanes would help immensely, bit if a truck has an accident and blocks all lanes including the transit lane, then the transit lane is ineffective. So in that sense West Seattle is looking for reliability as well as speed, and Link would be the most effective way to address that. Still, I have a lot of support for open BRT because of its low cost and general effectiveness in that district, but I wonder how effective its reliability will be.

    1. This is a very good point. On the 71/72/73, it’s even worse when the buses get delayed before even arriving in the U-District, and people end up waiting 15-20 minutes, only to squeeze onto a crowded bus and slog through traffic. This is why I’m sure that making people connect to U-Link will actually be very popular for reverse-direction riders.

      As for West Seattle, if BRT is to be accepted there, it probably needs to be equivalent to light rail in quality. If this means creating concrete barriers between the bus lanes and general lanes to insulate it completely from traffic, then we should probably do it.

      1. Nobody at STB would object to Jersey barriers separating the transit lane from the general traffic. But because the eastbound bus lane is not continuous through the Delridge on-ramp merge zone, cars regularly cross it in both directions through that merge. At the end of the merge zone there would be a very dangerous zone in which the Jersey barrier suddenly reappeared. The highway people would never agree to such a system.

        And, unfortunately, it’s not possible to have buses run on Spokane between Avalon and Delridge then use Delridge to get into a far right-hand lane, because that’s the SR99 exit lane which can’t be dedicated to buses.

        It’s not going to be easy to create 24/7 bus lanes to and from West Seattle to make “real BRT” work with just the existing road structure. I’d propose rather that a parallel two lane with six foot shoulders and a four foot median strip span be built with its own access to SR99 and to the Fifth South busway to the east and connections to Delridge and Avalon to the west. Build it such that Light Rail trains can (just barely) make the grades but don’t start running trains.

        By building it to the resultant 40′ width one ensures that a broken down bus can be passed at a safe but not creeping speed by using the median strip.

        This avoids the cost of a tunnel through the Triangle to the Alaska Junction and gets the benefits of “Open BRT” that are so clear for West Seattle while guaranteeing reliable, every day without fail transit access to wherever in the region ridership can support.

    2. PS. I have stopped taking the 71/72/73X southbound between 4pm and 7pm because of these unpredictable slowdowns that make a mockery of “express”. I take the 43 or 49 instead. The only time I take the X’s in that period is when I’m going through downtown to the south end or to the library or Pike Place.

      What people don’t usually realize about the 71/72/73X is that the 43, 49, 70, and 255 all take overflow from them. Either because the regular UW-downtown routes are physically full, or might be full, or there might be a twice-monthly slowdown, or just because it’s stressful to be in such a packed bus day after day. By “overflow” I mean people who would prefer to take the 71/72/73X but don’t because of its quality defects. These are part of Link’s target market which don’t show up in the existing 71/72/73X ridership statistics.

    3. I think it is hard to make a comparison unless you know what you are comparing. If you have a starter line (like this — Then almost everyone has to arrive to the train station by bus. So what difference does it make if the accident occurs on the bus before you get to the train or not? If you have something like A3 (the most cost effective light rail line) then it is fine, as long as there is no accident on Delridge (since the rail would run on the surface). Of course, everyone west of there (35th, California, Fauntleroy, Admiral Way, etc.) has to take a connecting bus (or they are no better off than now). The same issues apply to those connecting buses (of course). Something like this — — would be great and would be extremely reliable (for many people) but cost an enormous amount of money.

      So I just don’t think that any system that will be built can be as reliable for as many people as U-Link. Lots and lots of people will be able to walk to the station and walk from the station. That just won’t happen in West Seattle. But with some fairly simple, fairly cheap improvements, bus reliability can improve substantially. With a few relatively cheap improvements (250 to 500 million) you could have buses run in their own lane from Delridge to SoDo. Buses entering on Avalon or Admiral Way would have to change lanes. There is a remote possibility of an accident here, but accidents happen on Rainier Valley, too.

  17. I do not agree with any movable bridge concept. Sure you can proclaim few openings but then I will present the what if it does not close after a 2pm opening for 3 hours? Then you lost the purpose of fixed rail transit. The compromise in the Rainier Valley and the tight curves in the DSTT that were not corrected during closure cost probably 5-6 minutes in travel time. If Westlake-Sea-Tac was a 30 minute trip which I think could have been achieved, we wouldn’t need to be talking about a Georgetown express track yet.

    I am beginning to think it is time to potentially look at A4 but instead via SLU. Not sure if that is feasible but worth a look to see if something can be done to connect SLU to fixed rail transit.

    1. Running underground in Rainier Valley wouldn’t save that much time. Avoiding it altogether would save a tiny bit more, but then you kind of defeat the purpose. For every rider to the airport, you lose two in Rainier Valley.

      Yes, a bridge can be stuck open. A tunnel can collapse. Or leak. Trains can malfunction. I just don’t think we should worry about mechanical problems that are likely to be very rare (if they ever occur). For example, I don’t remember the old 520 bridge ever failing to close, once it was opened. But then it rarely opened (which is my point).

    2. Dan,

      Whatever might be the probability of a three hour opening, “the tight curves in the DSTT” could not be corrected without re-boring the tunnel. That was simply not going to happen; indeed, it probably could not happen. Those tight curves are there because of underground obstructions.

      As d.p. has pointed out time after time, a high average speed through the CBD is not necessary for a transit tunnel to be “successful”. Closely spaced stations don’t lend themselves to it in any case, but the comparison to the speed and unreliability of travel on the surface makes it preferable for trips across the center.

      Now it’s true that the DSTT currently is operating sub-optimally; the platooning isn’t working as well as it might, and the buffers mandated between a train the the preceding and following bus platoons mean that there are erratic gaps in service. That will end when North Link opens and bus service moves out completely.

      One can hope that by that time ST will have quickened the laconic pace of its station dwell times.

      So far as A4, we here on STB can “look at” it all we might want, but it’s obvious that the political decision to do Ballard-West Seattle either around the west or east side of Queen Anne Hill has been made. We are in the Potemkin Village phase of “public outreach”.

      1. I agree, and one reason that the DSTT is operating sub-optimally is that everyone involved knows that the problem is temporary. The problem could be solved fairly easily but no one wants to spend the money on a solution that will be obsolete in a few years. I don’t blame them. Just tough it out. My understanding is that D. C. traffic was terrible (on bus, taxi or private car) when they were building the subway. Just wait, it will get better.

        The really funny part is that everything would run a lot smoother if they had held on to the ride free area a little bit longer. That policy had many, many problems, and I sure as hell don’t miss it. But it did make vehicles in the tunnel move really fast.

      2. >> it’s obvious that the political decision to do Ballard-West Seattle either around the west or east side of Queen Anne Hill has been made.

        Boy, if it has, I would be very surprised. My guess is that Sound Transit is really struggling right now. Everything else has been ridiculously easy compared to this. ST1 was the UW to the airport. That was easy. It contained the most important connection along with the part of the city that has both density and diversity along with just a bit of suburbia thrown in. Of course there were short cuts made after the fact, but those decisions played out in public (and without public vote). ST2 was also simple. Seattle to Bellevue and Microsoft. Up to Lynnwood — a bit far, but we definitely needed to go farther than Northgate, and the part from there to Lynnwood was pretty cheap.

        Now all the decisions become extremely difficult. Include West Seattle with a half way decent light rail plan and you have no money left for anything else. Do what is right from a regional standpoint and you risk upsetting West Seattle. That is just for Seattle, which is easy compared to other regions. I know what I want, I have confidence that an outside expert would recommend something similar, but I don’t know if Sound Transit will propose it because I fear that the board wants something different.

      3. I am curious about the ID station with those curves but probably the tight one to Westlake was a no other option. My guess is that would have added at least 200 million for negligible time savings.

        It definitely becomes hard from here on out in deciding on projects from a winning side and that will be fought out over the next few months.

      4. Ross,

        Don’t you think the way the survey was laid out and the questions asked sort of paved the path to a full Westside line? Like you, I don’t see how they can get from $5 billion to a full Westside line, but it sure looks like that’s what they’re leading people toward.

    3. The West Seattle Bridge was stuck open for several years before the high-level bridge replaced it and the low-level bridge was rebuilt. But that doesn’t mean openable bridges are more prone to mishaps than other kinds of infrastructure.

      1. That would be my point in even the best maintained infrastructure is susceptible to failure and if we are constructing new links we should make sure they are as reliable as possible.

      2. Hmmm, I think opening spans are more exposed and susceptible to collisions, just because the structure forms a portal. The passage is hemmed in on both sides by the support structure for the opening span. It’s always that way, regardless of the form the opening span takes.

        Fixed bridges can have the supports placed back from the waterway or at a minimum wider apart than the channel used for shipping. I think that does make them less prone to damage.

        It was many decades after the original Spokane Street bridge was opened that it was smacked, so it doesn’t happen often. But I do think you’ll find that opening spans get smacked more often than fixed ones for the reason specified above.

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