45 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Link Opening Day”

  1. Six years of awesomeness for Seattle, jealousy from the rest of Washington’s transit geeks who dream of light rail every-where! One of the great engineering marvels of our state, right up there with Ross Dam, Space Needle, Grand Coulee Dam, the locks to/from Lake Union, the North Cascades Highway, the state ferry system and the 2nd Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

    Heck, when I’m in Seattle, I usually get my light rail fix when I can. Not always but most trips…. except when it’s too tempting to take a Metro Bus through the former Metro Bus Tunnel because I’m in a hurry. He he, ha ha, great work Seattle.

  2. Only six years ago? Seems longer. It was a very hot day, much like today. I took a great picture of Mayor Nickels at the Columbia City station.

  3. I really like the idea of having the opening day a couple months before the fall major schedule revision. It gives the opening surge ridership a chance to settle down before the adjustments to actual service needs happen.

  4. Happy 6th Birthday Link and to all the Metro drivers sitting in the cabs with little human contact as they bounce back and forth between the Airport and Westlake. At least in a bus, you got to learn peoples names during the shakeup. They’re the hero’s of the system nowadays.
    I’ll be morning the death of CPS, which could have been a great station serving all the new development in the Denny Triangle, a SLU station on a branch line going to Seattle Center, LQA and Ballard. Too bad the Convention center designers can’t see the utility of having a mass transit station in the basement, and some rail planners that can’t fathom two trains merging at a junction every couple of minutes.
    Goggle Earth ™ to see CPS before the bus lanes go away. 30 artics fit nicely, ready to start their journey through the tunnel each day – up to one bus per minute during the rush hours. Now look at the footprint for Lynnwood Link, and compare the bus layover and loading bays to CPS, where up to one bus departing per minute will be required to handle the peak alightings if all the CT buses start there when Lynnwood Link is finished in 2023, justifying the 18,000 daily boardings and 18,000 alightings in the newly released FEIS and ROD just posted.
    Happy B-day.

    1. I sure hope this doesn’t backfire the plan to just feed Community Transit commuters to light rail… it’s the official Community Transit long-term strategy so Community Transit can serve more destinations more often.

  5. When Lynnwood Link is up and running, and East Link is up and running, and University Link is up and running, and then also taking into account Central Link, which line will be the most transformative to the communities it travel through, and why?

    1. Once the University District staion opens, I’m guessing U District. I think the transformation there will look a lot like what happened to Portland’s Hollywood area.

      By contest, the UW will be the least changed, unless serious outside forces help. It’s surrounded by things set up to last until the End of the Universe: The Stadium, an underground parking lot, busy streets, and the UW heating plant.

      1. I ain’t never been to Portland’s “Hollywood” area, but I looked it up on Google Maps and I think I’d be disappointed if the U District ever had that much surface parking. If there’s any place in Seattle we can prove that we have not, as a civilization, lost the ability we once had to build multi-story buildings with deep, narrow storefronts, reminding everyone that it’s not height that sucks, it’s parking, the U District is it. Success in the U District would look nothing like any part of Seattle or Portland. It would look like old parts of Philadelphia, Boston, or Chicago. Any net increase in parking (surface, underground, high-floors, wherever) will be a disappointment.

      2. In defense of Portland (but not of Hollywood), I was along the SE Division corridor recently, and I was thoroughly impressed by the general excellence and quality sidewalk interface of the new construction that is popping up along the stretch.

        This is even more impressive because Division has almost no preexisting unbroken frontage to build upon — the older commercial on the street is like the part of Wallingford where everything is converted from old freestanding houses. So the new projects have had to forge their own design vernacular as they simultaneously redefine the pedestrian scale of the street.

        The quality of the result is virtually unprecedented in the modern era. There must be some smart coding involved, but I have trouble imagining why Division’s outcome would look so much better than elsewhere even in Portland.

        Anyway, it should go without saying that this has nothing whatsoever to do with MAX.

      3. Ermph. Division has older storefronts in a number of places, but they are vastly fewer and farther between than Hawthorne.

        If you think Portland’s Holywood is a wasteland of parking lots now, you should have seen it in the early 1980s. The area along Sandy between about 37th to about 44th in particular would not have developed 5 floor retail + housing buildings. Instead, it would have stayed looking like the area around Southcrnter would look had it been abandoned for 30 years.

      4. Classic 2-story flat-over-retail buildings exist on Division, but they are few and far between, as well as relatively modest in scale.

        The vast majority of the prior retail flanking the street is either nondescript mid-century single-story or, as I described above, single-family houses converted into businesses.

        Anything over 2 stories or with significant massing and sidewalk presence is brand new, yet eminently more effective than analogues in Seattle or even elsewhere in Portland.

      5. How are they better than the recent and similar constructs on inner East Burnside (say, west of 30th or so)? Or Seattle’s Ballard and Fremont?

    2. I hope that the area around Brooklyn/UDistrict station changes the most. That should be the city’s second downtown. Keep The Ave. vibrant lowrise retail, but the rest of the area should be highrise and dense as possible.

    3. That sounds like a homework question. Only professors care about vague meaningless categories like “transformative”. If I answered this for you it wouldn’t help your critical thinking skills which is the more important than getting an A on this test.

      “Transformative” implies changing, but shouldn’t we we be looking for certain outcomes rather than just change for change’s sake? So wouldn’t it be better to decide what we want the communities to be like and then measure how closely they get to it, rather than measuring how much they change? If a community is already close to the ideal and Link brings it the rest of the way, isn’t that more important than a larger change in another community that still leaves it at a lower level than the first community? So aren’t small transformations sometimes better than large transformations?

      The U-District is the most flexible and has the widest variety of housing and business sizes, so it will be able to make the most out of any trunk transit improvements. So better transit has a multiplicative effect on the existing uses and infrastructure.

      Capitol Hill is probably second, but it doesn’t have any large businesses or institutions coming that I know of, so it will mostly remain what it is, a college area with the walkable urbanism people like to live in and visit, and more housing.

      Northgate has a huge amount of potential and underdeveloped land around the station so it could theoretically blow the pants off the others, but it’s unclear how much of this potential will be realized. If the landowners decide to develop heavily, and large companies are attracted to the frequent trains to all of downtown, Bellevue-Redmond, and Lynnwood, and they give it some nightlife as well as daytime shopping, it could become an “urban village that has everything” like the U-District and Capitol Hill are. It has that minimally now with the library and park, although supermarkets are a bit peripheral. But it all depends on how much upzone it gets, and how much developers follow a pedestrian-oriented vision.

      1. The Redmond downtown around the someday light rail station has already been transformed in anticipation of light rail. If you measure from when light rail finally gets there, you would have a much different result than if you measured from when the East Link ROD went through.

      2. Bellvue had a lot of potential to to become a really interesting mix. It’s unfortunate there were no stations built directly under the existing transit center. There’s where John Balio’s 2nd Seattle could have been.

      3. Redmond’s downtown has transformed because its proximity to lucrative jobs and its urban-settlement bones (dating all the way back to frontier times) have uniquely situated it as a human-scaled — if sterile — urban outpost with a potential for a very pleasant quality of life.

        It has literally nothing whatsoever to do with the “anticipation of light rail”.


      4. d.p., that’s BS. Yes, it’s true that “Redmond’s downtown has transformed because its proximity to lucrative jobs and its urban-settlement bones (dating all the way back to frontier times) have uniquely situated it as a human-scaled — if sterile — urban outpost” (although I might quibble with ‘sterile’), but at least some of the development has anticipated light rail. I’m thinking in particualar of the apartment building called Elan which for several years during the recession was a hole in the ground. The sign at the site at that time called the project “The Station”. That was prior to the preferred station location being moved further west. That location to the west has also had another apartbment building built adjacent to it.

        There’s other development going on in Redmond that I don’t attibute to potential/future lignt rail, but my main pint was that urban locations may not be transformed a lot prior to HCT service to their neighborhood. Future development may happen differently in outlying areas where just the possibility of service could improve access to vibrant non-sterile urban outposts.

      5. Gee. Large project in location with overarching growth trend saw its finances unsteadied by recession, only to rebound and begin construction the moment the recession ended.

        And more than a decade before the (as-yet-unfunded) light rail might arrive.

        Quite the Q.E.D. there!

        Clearly, at some point, someone working for that project thought it would be good marketing (not financing) to associate with the someday rail line. That person was probably fired long ago.

        You might as well attribute all of Ballard’s post-recession growth to the vague pledge of an eventual subway made “implicit” by the monorail fiasco.

        Yours is one of the most tenuous uses of “magic TOD” logic I’ve encountered yet.

      6. @d.p. +1.

        And, as someone who lived just outside Redmond when I first came to town over twenty years ago, and who now works in downtown Redmond, I’m not yet ready to get too excited about the development in Redmond. Yes a lot more people will be living downtown in multi family dwellings. But where is the interesting retail? Why aren’t there any decent bars? Why is the place a ghost town after 9pm? Why isn’t there anywhere interesting to eat lunch? Frankly the change feels more cosmetic than real to me.

      7. For the record, I have nothing against Redmond. The downtown’s smattering of Victorian artifacts are an interesting reminder of how long it has been evolving, and how far it has come. If I had to choose an Eastside urban center to live in, I’d probably choose Redmond. It doesn’t have Bellevue’s defining anti-pedestrianism, and is both more diverse and less snotty than Kirkland.

        Redmond’s new construction is suffering from the same flawed development conceits as in Seattle: megalot projects whose number-crunched retail rates manage to repel interesting retail tenants. But eventually there will be a critical mass of people desiring interesting places to be and things to do, and plenty of room exists for the Cleveland St/Redmond Way retail stretches to fill in with those places.

        Redmond Town(e?) Center is another matter. It is legitimately unsettling to see such a large and increasing portion of central Redmond’s retail/entertainment/lodging and now office sectors inserted into a bubble where every facet of daily experience is micromanaged by a single private entity. There are some even who see such arrangements as desirable, as one possible future of “managed density” — in exurban Virginia, that future is already here — but frankly, who cares how pleasing the massing proportions are, or how correctly applied the street width and scale, if you can’t eat or wander or sit anywhere that hasn’t been approved by eight levels of corporate hierarchy!?

        Why isn’t there anywhere interesting to eat lunch?

        Yeah, Preet’s was quite a loss, IMHO.

      8. I wonder how the IKEA towns in England are doing.

        What are we supposed to see in that Virginia picture? It looks like SLU Terry Avenue on the ground, and older buildings like 3rd or 4th Avenue above.

      9. Nothing old about it.

        Reston Town Center is a from-scratch exurban faux-downtown development, with residences and hotels and a few prominent corporate HQs in its ample class-A office space. The architecture is above-average for corporate design in our era, the main streets boast quality frontage, and the street proportions in its epicenter are generally good.

        But it is entirely constructed, controlled and managed by a single private entity, allowing it precisely zero room for the type of organic environments and moderate entropy that have allowed cities to thrive as incubators of human innovation and cultural evolution since the dawn of time.

        Naturally, the development is ringed by parking and auto sewers (with eventual Silver Line stop relegated to the far side), so as to ensure that an organic connection to surrounding, non-micromanaged areas (and to the distant city proper) shall never come into play.

        This is as dangerous a development as any mall or Silicon Valley cubicle farm. It merely looks better. Don’t be fooled.

    4. It depends on what you mean by transformative. I would say there are several different things:

      1) UW to downtown is the probably the most heavily traveled trip. Improving this, even a bit, is a big change. This is a solid improvement, but not huge, in my opinion.

      2) UW to Capitol Hill or Capitol Hill to UW is a huge change. If you happen to be in Capitol Hill (and a lot of people are) and want to go to either destination (and a lot of people do) this will be a very big change. Huge, even.

      3) All these changes will allow major bus route changes, as Link picks up some of the heavy lifting. This will enable changes in areas a long way from Link. In that regard, Northgate Link will be huge. For the northeast end of Seattle, having buses go to the U-District (or places closer) will enable the buses to run a lot more often, with improved mobility. The recent changes are impressive (given the challenges with the Husky Stadium station location) but I think the real changes will come when Link comes to Northgate (and in the case of Snohomish County buses, when it gets to Lynnwood).

      4) UW to Ballard light rail is a combination of the second two. Along that corridor you have very slow moving traffic. Even in the middle of the day, it will be faster to take the train than drive. With Link all the way to Lynnwood, the only section where this is true is to Capitol Hill. In the case of Ballard to UW light rail it is true all along there. The idea that transit is substantially faster than driving even when traffic is light is transformative. All that, plus major increase in the frequency of the buses (because they won’t need to go downtown) and everything north of the ship canal and west of I-5 goes through a dramatic change.

      1. Why must ALL bus hours freed up from having Link Rail be re-deployed? Why not say one mode that is more efficient (rail) is replacing a mode that is not that efficient?
        Here’s an analogy. You have a car getting 10 mpg and purchase a hybrid getting 30. Should you re-deploy the old clunker to a son or daughter that doesn’t have their own car (more service) or scrap it and save the operating cost?
        Sure, freeing up bus hours provides more service to more people, but those are more inefficient routes, otherwise they would have competed fairly for service in the first place.
        In the case of the cars, we now have two gas tanks to feed. In the case of transit it’s two vehicles to run everyday.
        Why not bank the service hours and not spend the money?

      2. Why? Because the population is growing, and there needs to be more transit service. We will never reach a point where we can stop adding service.

      3. More population means higher sales tax revenue to pay for more service. That’s not the answer

      4. Which routes would you prefer to see cut?

        Other routes are so crowded that people are left behind.

        Also, while the light rail trains will take some buses off the road, routes feeding the light rail lines will become more popular due to better overall system performance. If thise routes become overcrowded or unreliable, the UW suddenly will find itself the biggest park and ride lot in be city.

      5. That’s obvious Glenn. You cut the buses that duplicate the corridor now being served by much higher capacity vehicles. Those are transit hours saved.
        What you elect to do with those hours is the question. I didn’t say bank ALL the hours, but shaking the bushes in search of a passenger is not a very efficient way to spend money.
        Airlines retire aircraft that are smaller and less fuel efficient for good reason – the shareholders expect it. They don’t automatically deploy them all out to satellite airports to feed the jumbo jets unless the new routes can carry their own weight.

      6. The car analogy doesn’t work. You’re conflating capital costs and operating costs. It’s much easier for transit agencies to buy new buses regularly thanks to federal grants and they do. Operating funds are harder to come by which results in situations like Community Transit having brand new buses and no Sunday service.

        The airline analogy doesn’t work either. Airlines wouldn’t redeploy jumbo jets to puddle jumpers, they’d buy new planes suitable for new routes they’d like to expand into with the savings if the existing fleet doesn’t fit their needs.

        I don’t see redeploying all saved hours in to bus service a problem. It’s a policy choice. For me, I’d like to see those savings reinvested into expanding the reach and frequency of the transit network to make it more attractive to those it was not before. That’s how you grow the transit mode share, not by refunding dividends to the tax payer in cash.

      7. I disagree Oran. I said nothing about capital cost of Link, which if amortized over 30 years would result in nothing being built. My question was based strictly on operating cost, including both examples.
        Simply saying that it’s a good thing to spend every cent on something less efficient is crazy. You’d get laughed out of the Board Room saying that in any fortune 500 company.
        Why not bank some of those hours, for a rainy day, or a least to counter the effects of the next recession, seeing as we drew those funds down to nothing in the last one.

      8. You were talking about old cars and planes, which would be replaced on their own merits regardless of service level, unless funding falls off a cliff. You know that the primary cost of operating a transit vehicle is the driver. That’s why I think the analogy was flawed.

        Transit is not a Fortune 500 company nor should it be; it is a public service. I’m not saying spend every cent. We have policy goals. If we have met our transit needs and goals, then we can talk about tax refunds.

        I think having operating reserves is a great idea. Again, up to policy makers and the public to decide what is appropriate.

      9. OK, we mostly agree then. The old car or plane was just the vehicle (pun intended) to get the concept of providing ongoing operating costs for a service that was not nearly as efficient, such as my 16 year old getting his first car, or putting an aging B737 on the Aberdeen to Seattle route because they currently have no air service.
        Some circles fear the next recession will be bigger than the last and sooner than we expect because government went so deep in the hole and has made no attempt to climb out of it. I tend to agree with those economists, therefore shudder when I hear people rejoicing that we’re going to spend to the hilt.

      10. “Why must ALL bus hours freed up from having Link Rail be re-deployed?”

        In order to answer that, you first have to look at, what is the ideal bus network? What level of service would maximize ridership/cost? We can look to our peer cities for guidance; e.g., Chicago, San Francisco, Vancouver. They all have full-time frequent service in a grid: 5-10 minutes daytime, 15-20 minutes evening. Also as a reference we have Metro’s reorganization proposals for University Link, which show what a revenue-neutral change would look like. We see that it does a better job of 15-minute frequent, but still not enough for the 8 and the mid Madison hole (Page 2 has a long thread about this), and it’s still less frequent than our peer cities.

        North Link and Lynnwood Link are expected to free up more hours than any of the other phases, so that’s where the possibility of saturation would be highest. However, we can only guess from unofficial proposals like David Lawson’s, how many hours would be required for a complete feeder network. Most people’s gut instinct is that the network would still be less than ideal, so the saturation point would not be reached.

        On the Eastside, Link is mainly replacing the 550, so its service hours will go into Link. The Metro truncations are all peak-only routes, so that won’t give many service hours to the local network; so that’ll be more like Central Link or University Link. Bellevue has a Transit Master Plan which is very good. The freed-up hours would make a contribution to it but wouldn’t fund most of it, and of course Bellevue would have to share the hours with other cities.

        In the south end, Link is generally not replacing bus routes. We don’t know whether the 157, 158, 159, 177, 178, 179, 190, 192, 197, 577, 578 will be reduced or substantially changed, so we can’t tell whether it will free up a few hours or a lot of hours. But we do know that Link is essentially irrelevant to Kent, Auburn, Renton, Southcenter, and Burien; any forced transfers would significantly increase their travel time. Metro and ST could be bold and do it anyway, but most likely they’ll keep the peak expresses and the 150 and 101, and just provide better off-peak access to Link.

        (The 158 and 159 are interesting because they serve the Kent-Des Moines P&R which is in-line with Link, but then they serve Kent and eastern Kent which are not. They could be rerouted to 405 and 167 to avoid duplicating Link, but that would put them in the 405 traffic and Renton traffic. They couldn’t really go past the KDM P&R without stopping there — that would be silly — so they either have to move or remain as-is. Of course, they take 45 minutes to reach Kent Station vs Sounder’s 20 minutes, which raises the question of why do they still exist. But for whatever one-seat ride reason or train-capacity reason or P&R reason they do.)

      11. mic: could you give an example of what you are talking about?

        By parallel service do you mean the 70? That’s a local and not really replaced with Link.

    5. If allowed to be built in a good location and if rexoning and street pedestrian access improvements are made so that people don’t have to get run over to use transit, Incould see Federal Way having a significant change. However, the current community philosophy there seems to be aimed at making a horror.

      If any of those guys come to Portland, I would show them what good zoning changes plus a light rail line has done for N Interstate Avenue (which happens to also be highway 99W through there so there are similarities).

      Then, I would show them downtown Beaverton, and tell them “This is the traffic hellhole that, for 30 years, has been held up in Oregon transportation and planning circles of what nobody ever wants repeated again. It is something that no amount of transit investment will ever overcome without completely rebuilding almost all of the city from scratch. It’s also pretty much what you are planning to do.”

  6. Why is the light rail vehicle stopped on the tracks outside of TIBS in the video at 1:59?

    1. At that point the airport line segment wasn’t operating yet. They had to stage trains to turn around by running them onto what would eventually be the main line.

  7. What was the deal with having Link operate 10am to 6pm on Sunday? It seems like that would lead to horrible service on the first day of actual real operations.

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