Toronto is building a crosstown LRT line. Current bus ridership in the corridor is over 78,000 daily. The 10-kilometer, 12-station, underground portion is about the same distance from the Ballard Locks to Children’s Hospital.

100 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Eglinton Crosstown End to End”

      1. Not to mention that Toronto is now building its light rail lines after thoroughly investing in transit in the more dense areas. They didn’t build this line first.

      2. Not so fast there Mr Smarty Pants.
        A recent ST survey shows that over 51% of all riders are willing to walk 5 km to a station, therefore, no intermediate stations are justified. It only slows the train down.

      3. Sound Transit study for the Eglinton Crosstown prioritizes an express branch to West Mississauga Junction.

      4. Here’s the Question Pool.
        1. How far are you willing to walk to a subway station in kilometers (Note: lots of km’s in a mile)
        A. 20km
        B. 10km
        C. 5 or less

      5. Sound Transit study for the Eglinton Crosstown anticipates integration into a “completed spine” from Kitchener to Trois-Rivières.

      6. To be strictly correct, 5 km stop spacing means a maximum walking distance of 2.5 km, not 5 km from somewhere along the line. Still pretty high if the entire corridor is densely populated, but might make sense if the vast majority of the ridership potential comes from the areas along the line near where the proposed stations are.

      7. The stations on the Eglinton Crosstown Line will be about 850 metres (half mile) apart, while surface stops will be about 500 metres (550 yarrds) apart.

      8. Kitchener has a population density of around 1,500 per square km. Everett is around 1,100 per square km. So, if Everett added a few hundred more apartments across its entire area that analogy might work.

      9. (The analogy works because no Ontarian with 1/8 of a brain would suggest running high-volume, high-frequency subway service from Toronto to Kitchener.)

      10. So everyone’s having a bunch of fun with comparing ST’s results to Toronto’s, and in general I agree with the critique. But what are the personal or institutional factors that are creating better outcomes for Toronto? Would a different (electable) political officeholder or different institutional design create better outcomes? Is our current outcome inevitable given the state of the electorate? Is there some plausible bill that Olympia could pass that would create better outcomes?

        I often play the role of ST apologist because I think we can’t do much better. Perhaps the region’s problem is that STB needs a better editor! But for people angry and incredulous that ST’s plans are the way they are, I’d welcome constructive suggestions as to what the movement should do to create better outcomes.

      11. You probably need a whole new post started to discuss that.

        Here on STB, I have only seen vague mentions of the capital cost per passenger. Is there any sort of analysis ST does to determine the amount of money they are going to spend for the various options?

        That Federal Way Freeway Fluctuation thing is astounding to me. It is obviously going to cost quite a lot more to build than a straight line, yet has no ridership advantages. When TriMet was prioritizing some of its corridors, they would show a basic chart of ridership and cost, making it easy to see that certain things just shouldn’t be done.

        Click on Final Draft Environmental Impact Statement

        Sadly, chapter 2 lists only the results of the alternatives analysis but it does at least give an idea that those alternatives were examined and rejected due to costs or impacts.

        I understand that Federal Way wants the line to be built along the freeway, but at least a table of costs would be able to let them say “if we do that it will cost [so many] more dollars to build due to the added length of the line, plus it will cost us [another number] in added operating costs, plus reduce ridership by [so many] due to the line being further from potential development areas.”

        This level of alternatives analysis is the very basic stage of starting the planning process, before the Draft Environmental Impact Statement is started. It is sort of a first blush analysis to see what needs to be rejected outright, before including alternatives into the detailed analysis.

        For the Milwaukie MAX line, several alternatives were run through this basic sanity check, including things like running the line down the west side of the Willamette River and crossing near Sellwood. This would have picked up a pretty active part of Portland, but would have left out southeast Portland. A basic look at population density along the line and bus connections told them that the place they needed to look was on the east side of the river. So, the John’s Landing and Sellwood alignment was rejected very early on, before any more work could be done on it.

      12. OK, here’s the key thing:

        If a city like Federal Way is obsessed with “shoving the rail line out of the way” into a corner next to I-5, *YOU DON’T GO THERE*, you stop in Des Moines. This is what all the regions with successful trasnit lines have done. When a city is demanding something stupid, counterproductive, and self-destructive, you (a) do not give into their demands, and (b) if possible, avoid them entirely.

        Los Angeles wasn’t able to avoid the lunatics in Beverly Hills entirely, but did not give into their demands regarding the Purple Line, and avoided them as much as they could (they have to go through Beverly Hills to get where they’re going).

    1. So, one of my pet peeves is that Subway maps (and transit maps in general) are rarely shown with a scale. But I used Google Maps to determine that it is about 6 miles underground, and about 12 miles altogether. There are 25 stations, which means it has about half mile spacing. From what I can tell the largest gap is Caledonia to Keele, at 3,500 feet, or around 1,000 feet larger than average. This all looks very standard to me.

      In contrast, there is little that Sound Transit has built that similar stop spacing. Sound Transit did not build the bus tunnel. So all of those stops — the bulk of Link ridership — was built before they existed. Once you leave the core (the area that was built before Sound Transit) the stations are much farther from each other. From SoDo to Beacon Hill is about a mile and half. From Westlake to Capitol Hill it is almost a mile, and from Capitol Hill to Husky Stadium it is over two miles! We are building something that is very unusual, and yet no one has explained why.

      1. Possibly, Ross, because real life transit systems and the places they serve cannot be arranged as colored lines with dots.

        Wouldn’t you agree that the track distance from SODO to Beacon Hill Station is better governed by the importance of the station’s surrounding neighborhoods than by simple linear measurements?

        Likewise, for the time-frame of our present system, it makes more sense for the trains to do the five existing CBD stops rather than the one BART would need by the tape measure.

        The DSTT and our light rail system are very early stages of this region’s eventual system. Our needs are still much closer to MUNI’s streetcar-evolved subway-surface network than to a system including hour-long trips at near 80 mph.

        It’s very likely that it will someday be time to build a regional network of even faster trains. In which case, the Seattle CBD will have one stop, connected by elevator and escalator to the present DSTT.

        With yet another level for the heavy-caliber bullet trains to (not kidding) Mexico City and Toronto. Involving long arguments over whether on their own segments St. Paul and Amarillo put stations either too far apart or liable to slow service to a crawing hundred seventy five mph.

        Also, be grateful. If Seattle was presently good place for ruler-and-dot station spacing, we would have to be someplace in Iowa or Texas. Instead of our existing pathetic doll-house scale limitations of them like ….well, depends on subarea equity.


      2. Why did you use Google Maps to determine that? You could have just looked at the website for the line. It tells you right there how long the whole line is, and how long the underground section is.

      3. BART has close stop spacing downtown too. If the DSTT hadn’t existed, Link probably would have too, because downtown is not Capitol Hill.

      4. (BART’s stop spacing from the Mission to Balboa Park, though rather sprawling by the standards of the grid above, still doesn’t hold a candle to the anti-urban stunt pulled by Sound Transit in our city.)

        (So what does it say to you, that the consummate example of the crap transit model pursued by our dumb regional leaders still isn’t quite as bad as what they have wrought?)

      5. ST’s most egregious mistake is having only one station between Westlake and UW. It’s almost unthinkable that they’d skip First Hill and have only one station in Capitol Hill. The spacing between UW and Northgate is not good, but not horrible either. The DSTT (not built by Sound Transit) has appropriate spacing. South of Downtown is also not great, but could be worse (the huge mistake there was at-grade along MLK),

        If SDOT’s proposed Ballard route is built by ST (a big if) the spacing will also be decent, although I think it is probably a mistake to miss Belltown in favor of SLU with this line. The big issue with this line would be if they ran at-grade along 15th Ave W.

      6. The great thing about at-grade along MLK is *you can fairly easily add more stations later*. Serious advantage of at-grade construction.

        If ST is hellbent on huge station spacing, urbanists should insist on at-grade construction. And if they’re hellbent on going elevated or underground, urbanists should insist on frequent-enough station spacing…

      7. This’s why I praise SDOT’s recent letter demanding frequently-spaced stations and listing their precise locations.

    2. ST is crazy to report people are willing to walk 3.1 miles to ride the link. Seattle has hills, rain, intersections to cross,…. Who is willing to walk the distance from Whole Foods in Interbay to Westlake Center to ride link? The answer: nobody!!! More bad data to continue to talk about possible routing options, stations, and pros/cons of link vs buses,… this conversation just goes on and on and on

      1. I think Mic’s comment to that effect was intended as a meta-joke. Though I wouldn’t put such ideas past the bobbleheads in the ST boardroom.

      2. I especially find it amusing as the Seattle pedestrian is expected to walk a mile but by golly if that darn Park & Ride isn’t within a few hundred feet of the station, heads are gonna roll.

      3. All my jabs probably merit my name in the bulls-eye in the ST staff breakroom’s dartboard, and it’s not without justification.
        I think Martin asks a key question this morning, my jabs aside, as to what institutional problem needs fixing and fast to get the Toronto style thinking ingrained in our political leaders mindset.
        I’ve watched both staff and board foster this ‘Regional Concept’ since the JRPC bought into it 25 years ago. Yes, lots of great transit has been provided over those years thanks to ST, but its intransigence to changing the concept of Everett to Tacoma competing with freeway speeds just keeps the tax stream and bond indebtedness going for decades more. Meanwhile, Seattle finds itself longing for Toronto style solutions with little hope of doing both urban transport and regional transport at the same time.

    3. FWIW the subway obsession has generally been considered deleterious to Toronto, leading to extension of the subways waaaay outside the urban core, where light rail or comuter rail (=== can have grade crossings) would be more appropriate.

      This is vaguely comparable to the unnecessary construction of the tunnel in Bellevue, but not nearly as bad.

      1. Sound Transit study for the Eglinton Crosstown presumes a detour to Downsview/Bombardier Airport.

      2. Being familiar with both Toronto and Seattle transit “planning”, d.p., I have to say that your jokes are cracking me up, because every one of them is on target.

        And Toronto has been *far* from perfect in transit planning. The sort of errors ST is making are just exceptionally bizarre.

        Would you care to do a similar set of jokes based on how Sound Transit would design the San Diego Trolley system (an imperfect but rather decent system?)

    1. It is curious how we don’t debate the differences between spokes and pinwheels at a rail route alignment. Then again, Toronto has always been a flat, mostly uninterrupted grade. Seattle has hills and waters that created our streetcar and road patterns differently.

      1. Metro 8 and 44 are good examples of places where this would work very well. This line is even being built where it crosses an exisying subway line predating it by several decades.

      2. What Glenn said. We have very challenging terrain (to be sure) but by and large, the north-south routes work quite well. I believe it has something do with the glaciers, way back when. At this point, it doesn’t matter. North-south streets work really well for buses, and east-west lines don’t (which means they work extremely well for subways).

      3. I think east-west streets worked well for buses at one time, but cramming thousands of autos into the Mercer Mess and Denny Disaster forced them to become terrible places for buses.

      4. Eglinton Crosstown crosses under not one but *two* subway stations, with direct transfer at both. Tricky to build. Well worth it.

    2. Chris, the Swiss started straightening out mountain distances with tunnels through mountains a long time ago. Letting trains high-ball through areas far below local railroads that carry passengers through scenery more appealing to everybody than the walls of an international concrete pipe. Stopping at more places which are not under several miles of rock.

      Also, even for surface rail, track that has to climb anything requires long distance-consuming curves. Otherwise, the shorter the linear distance, the steeper the grade. Until propulsion requirements transition from the Queen Anne Counterbalance to Pittsburgh’s former elevators carrying 1890’s vintage streetcars. Like if we put streetcars on the Route 8.

      Toronto’s flat. We’re not. Though the bedrock under six inches of dirt in Maryland indicate that Bethesda used to be higher than Katmandu. In geology, subarea equity takes even more time than transit building around Seattle.


  1. Over the past several weeks, I have been working on an app for Windows 10 called OneAppAway that uses the OneBusAway API. It’s basically a client app for OneBusAway with features that it doesn’t have. Some of the features it will have is downloadable bus schedules, so you can view bus schedules when you are not connected to the internet, as well as a list of bus arrivals that change based on your location (for example, when I’m in Seattle, this list may contain arrivals for 577/578 to Federal Way, while if I’m in Federal Way, it may contain arrivals for buses to Seattle).

    If anyone has Windows 10 installed and would like to beta test this app, please shoot me an email at and I can set you up. I would appreciate feedback and feature suggestions.

    1. I believe there is already a OneBusAway app in the Windows 8 app store (which should also work on Windows 10). Is this the same, or something different?

      1. This is different. I am writing a new app from the ground up so I can add extra features. (I’m a nerd and like to program for fun, so I thought a OneBusAway app would be a fun project for the summer.)

      2. Offline schedules was one of the biggest reasons I’m building this app, since it’s a pain to lug around a whole lot of Metro schedules, and since Metro plans on getting rid of the paper schedules next year.

  2. Good an open thread.

    As many of you know, I was down in your fine city for Seafair Weekend. Have to say that anybody who thinks grade-separated transit is not worth the investment stay in say Columbia City – in my case via Airbnb – and have to decide between the Route 7 with an unreliable schedule and light rail with a reliable schedule.

    Also have to say I am happy people are starting to financially support STB. The work you do is invaluable to making sure you guys ensure transit agencies do things in partnership with the ridership, not to the ridership. As I’ve moved into a Whidbey Daily slot, I continue to keep my STB memories at the forefront.

    1. I have to make the subtle distinction between “grade separated” (no grade crossings) and “exclusive right of way” (maybe grade crossings, but no autos running along the tracks). You get most of the benefits from “exclusive right of way”.

  3. I have a question.

    There’s an article in today’s New York Times about welfare-dependent black people in St. Louis complaining about how they are stuck in the high crime ghetto part of the city and county, and have a hard time finding places to live in safer, whiter sections of town. People who fight having poor section 8’ers moving into their neighborhoods are portrayed as racist. But if higher crime is linked to poverty, don’t people have a valid concern that they might be introducing more crime into their neighborhoods by sprinkling people from violent ghettos throughout their low crime neighborhoods?

    1. Is everybody in Mexico a mobster for a drug cartel? Or are only a few people mobsters and they create a violent atmosphere for everyone else? For any random person moving to a better neighborhood, the chance that they’re violent is small. The people I’ve known with violent tendencies, when they move to the suburbs they’re less violent, because they have the stable apartment and job and “regular American life” which is what they wanted in the first place.

    2. Got a solution for you, Sam. Do away with poverty. Whose best definition is: “The inability to participate in society for lack of money.” Every single ill in the world will go away. With the USA being the country with the least excuse for not leading the way.

      Only possible complication is McDonald’s, both meals and half gallon buckets of corn syrup. Have had people from both Sweden and Turkey tell me that these factors are making both populations get fatter,sicker, and dying sooner than when they were poor.

      However because this is the Seattle Transit Blog rather than the “Eisenhower Built the Interstates to Facilitate Fleeing From the Poor” one:

      Toronto indeed has an excellent transit system. However, there is a freeway about a mile across the north end of the city. And also, like the whole rest of the world, the place is dead flat.

      I may have missed this, but do those trains have any grade-level crossings? And if so how do they do signal pre-empt?


      1. You know, for poor people to get income-tested benefits, they have to make a pact with the government to continue to stay in poverty. Under our current system, it will be impossible to do away with poverty. Poverty is encouraged and rewarded.

      2. I have to speak up and point out that fear is used as a tacit justification for prejudice, Sam. You are channeling a blurring of lots of issues even if you may not personally subscribe to them.

        1. Most high density affordable housing in Seattle (and St. Louis for that matter) is not Section 8 housing. New high-density housing in Seattle is generally not affordable period! Let’s further be clear that the fear of things like second units in single-family homes are fueled by irrelevant logic like this.
        2. The small cities in St. Louis area has a legacy of picking on poor minorities — turning minor infractions like parking tickets into a way to incarcerate people who simply can’t afford to pay them. How would you like it if a minor parking ticket led to a permanent criminal record that always shows up your employment application background check? That coupled with a proven targeted effort to prosecute poor minorities is part of the genesis in the frustrations in St. Louis that erupted in Ferguson.
        3. Rental discrimination on the basis of income and race is a real problem, especially in a place like the St. Louis area. When someone poor has to come up with 3 months of rent to get housing AND clear a background check (noting that St. Louis area police have a history of targeting poor people for convictions in unfair ways), it forces those struggling people to make difficult choices. I have strong doubts that the kitchen staff in those chic Capitol Hill or South Lake Union residents or those clerks in those chic upscale grocery stores can afford to live anywhere near those places — and let’s be clear that this is true although they are working low-income people who aren’t committing crimes.
        4. What do you mean by permanently welfare dependent? There are still plenty of misconception about our assistance programs that stem from the pre-Reagan area. Most of those programs have been significantly reformed to the point that it’s hard to be permanently on welfare. Permanent disabilities or retirees are about the only ways people that can do that these days. Your comment appears tainted with the lingering bias of a 1980 talking point.
        5. I am often amazed at how we legitimize “crimes” committed by poor people but when wealthy people take financial advantage of others like create corporations that declare bankruptcy after the owner skims off hundreds of millions of dollars of profits (like Donald Trump did), no one is willing to stand up and call that the much bigger financial crime against our society that it is.
        6. I have lived and worked in many income-mixed urban areas across the country — and the vast majority of people in any income and any race and any nationality are law-abiding citizens (yay SE Seattle)! I even observe that lower-income people are more willing to assist those in emergency need than those with significant financial means. Those wealthy areas should embrace having more compassionate, lower-income neighbors rather than fear their presence.

      1. I didn’t provide a link because it’s on the front page. It’s a good article, if a bit unsatisfying, because in the end, one of the main people profiled, complained that the nicer, safer white neighborhood is “not what he knows.” He wished that all the qualities that he was seeking, like safety, better schools, nicer amenities, could be transplanted to the black part of town.

    3. >> don’t people have a valid concern that they might be introducing more crime into their neighborhoods by sprinkling people from violent ghettos throughout their low crime neighborhoods?

      If people from the ghetto are sprinkled into other neighborhoods, then is it still a ghetto?

      Not trying to blow your mind Sam — I’m just saying.

    1. Interesting question, Frank. Probably something to do with surveying. Or it could be part of the One Percent for the Arts program.

      However, it’s purpose is almost certainly to give bicyclists practice in navigating metal things in pavement like grooved rail.

      But most of all, to discourage car traffic by ripping tires to shreds. And leaving the remains branded with a logo to remind drivers who not to mess with.

      West Mercer Street location is exactly like a dog marking future territory. So at least we know where Ballard light rail is going to run, and who’s going to operate it.


    2. Where on west Mercer?

      To me it looks like an electrical ground connection for something underground.

      In the 1990s a couple of TriMet passengers had bad experiences with odd stray induced currents in bizarre objects. The most infamous one was a seeing eye dog that got zapped pretty badly from a puddle of water on a sidewalk near one of the lines.

      Now, even the chain link fences have ground wires on them.

      I’m guessing something like a power feed from the higher voltage lines along 15th into a substation near the tunnel in an underground conduit or something, and they wanted to ground the conduit casing every few hundred feet.

      Might be communications of some sort too, such as the link between the outside world and the cell phone boxes going into the tunnel. They would probably want similar grounding on the exterior conduit for that.

      It might also be just an indicator spike for where such an underground conduit is located, for future street digging.

  4. What is the daily bus ridership from Ballard to Childrens? I know the 31 and 32 (aka 75,65) have stout ridership to Fremont with the 40 resuming to Ballard. I also see the 44 loaded to the till everytime I’ve boarded it. I’m not sure if there is anything running along 50th.

    1. Wrong question (and it’s not the question of the Eglinton line either). The question is what is the ridership at any point between Ballard and Children’s. Most people don’t go from Ballard to Children’s. I take the 31 or 32 from Wallingford to Fremont and the 44 from Wallingford to Ballard or Wallingford to the U District. Others located in different places take different segments. That’s why intermediate stops matter. And intermediate stops with walksheds in all directions (compare Queen Anne Ave. and Mercer to Aurora and Harrison) matter.

  5. A few quick notes from the Portland area:

    + Sunday (today) is the day we have BridgePedal. At some point or other during the morning each of Portland’s paved Willamette bridges will be closed to motorized vehicles. If you are visiting here this weekend, take this into consideration. You may be better off walking between locations on each side of the river.
    (Apologies for not posting this earlier, but this was the first open thread since the article publication date.)

    + This includes the first time the new MAX / bus / bike bridge is open to the public.

    + Of additional note to those that occasionally visit Portland, Car2Go has cut back some of its Portland home area due to poor usage rates there.

    + After expending hundreds of milliseconds of research, experts conclude Vancouver, WA is a suburb of Portland, despite howls of protest from blog commenters. What outrage could possibly be next? Asking for a toll on the bridge over the Columbia?

    + Joseph Rose, the Oregonian transportation columnist and occasionally referenced on this blog, is being shifted to cover history. Elliot Njus will become the new transportation columnist.

    1. I’m thinking of coming down for the Orange Line opening, and I’m wondering exactly where the ribbon cutting ceremony will be held. The website only lists events as being at all stations, but I assume the ceremony will be at one of the stations on either side of the bridge.

      1. I wish I had inside information but I don’t. At least not from TriMet.

        I do have information that says anti-light rail Clackamas county commissioners Tootie Smith and John Ludlow will have booths at the opening ceremony. “We hate light rail so much we’re here to welcome it.”

        I’ve been told they have been stuck in the Park Avenue park and ride structure.

    2. It would be interesting to know if the typical Vancouverite prefers Full Sale Ale over Pyramid Ale, Brooks over Nike or Dutch Bro Coffee over Starbucks? And do they root for the Timbers or the Sounders?

      One thing for sure is they prefer the Portland mall experience and Portland jobs but a cheaper place to live in Vancouver. Regardless of what they say, their identity is driven by their checking account. A duplicity to some degree.

      1. There’s Vancouver and the rest of Clark County. MAX expansion into Clark County passed in Vancouver, but not everywhere else.

        Of course, the rest of Clark County wants the rest of Oregon and Washington to pay for a new highway bridge so that no tolls would be charged.

      2. Hmm. I wonder if it would be possible to fund a straight-up MAX extension to Vancouver, then, funded by City of Vancouver and the MAX district. I know it’s a big bridge to build, but a two-track railroad bridge is an object with extremely controlled dynamics compared to a highway bridge — you know *exactly* what the loads are going to be.

  6. Well if Fort Vancouver really is just another suburb of Portland, then I sure wish they hurry up and connect it to Portland DT via LR. Bring on the Portlandification, because lord knows Vancouver could sure use it.

    1. One thing I found a bit entertaining about the Vancouver article is the use of the word “suburb” is now potentially so insulting that not even the people from the US Census Bureau were willing to try to use it.

      It’s almost like the term “inner city” used to conjure up images of vast decaying brownstones or something and “suburb” was where people wanted to be.

      Next thing you know, developers and real estate agents will put up some big signs advertising new housing developments with “Come Live in the Vital and Dynamic Inner City Environment of Orting”

      1. I think you’ve just predicted exactly what will happen! I will now watch for those ads…

  7. Mindless question of the day: Why do recycling trucks have to be painted same green/yellow colors as most buses? More than once when I see one ahead I think I have just missed the bus.

  8. i am reading a book on investing in real estate, and it says look for properties in the path of progress, and since I live on the eastside, that made me think of East Link, and if there might be any areas that will increase in value due to being near a light rail station. But then I realized I don’t really know if being near a train station will increase or decrease a property’s value or rent potential. For example, take the homes just to the west of the future South Bellevue Station. Will the station be a value adder, like living next to a lake? Will it have no effect? Or will it have more of a negative effect on desirablity?

    Thank you in advance for your thoughts.

    1. I know my friends are talking about abandoning their Laurelhust place and buying one near Roosevelt Station. But they have more of a European mentality about public transportation. Bellevue is a tough call. I think as it progresses to a more international flavor and more millenials land jobs at Microsoft I think it would be a good buy. I think neighborhoods that are dominated by retirees tend to frown upon LR (Scottsdale case in point).

    2. How many years do you have available to wait? How much money do you have?

      It took about 20 years for SE Hawthorne Blvd here in Portland to turn from the nowhere of the early 1980s to the hot properties of today. The transformation of Fremont and Ballard looks to me like it took about that amount of time.

      South Lake Union obviously took much less time, but it also had big money behind its transformation.

      The problem with properties near East Link is that the areas are so horribly auto oriented that factors other than East Link will probably have more of an impact on values.

      Downtown Bellevue could have been a good place to invest, but there won’t be a station there.

      I just don’t see the situation that Portland had along Interstate Avenue where the one thing missing to revitalize the area is better public transit.

    3. Those who plan to use the train will preferentially choose that location, while those who don’t won’t. There’s plenty of both people. In fact, since there are so few houses near train stations, there are several times more people who want to live near a station than actually do. However, in a settled single-family neighborhood, only ten or so houses in the few blocks facing the station will go on sale in a ten-year period, and the transit-lovers may not be ready to buy then or may be outbid by somebody else. So it doesn’t automatically lead to a transit-riding neighborhood.

      If you’re looking for proof that light rail lowers property values and is a blight on the neighborhood, you should look at the segments between stations, because that’s where all of the negatives are and none of the positives. We can watch Surrey Downs after Link opens. Or we can just go to MLK Way (although Sam won’t, since it’s full of crime and shootings), and see that there are no negative effects on property values, and even if construction hasn’t been as fast as anticipated (due to the recession, not Link), it’s still proceeding faster than it did before Link.

      “Negative desirability” was back when trains were coal-belching noisemakers.

    4. Passenger train stations have always always ALWAYS increased property values.

      Train lines without stations tend to decrease values a bit.

  9. I like the little touch of realism at 1:18, when three people step off the train and stand right in front of the door to have a conversation.

  10. Re: distance between light rail stations: piece of Detroit transit history from days when it was still a city, urban grooved rail was called “streetcars” and these same cars outside town “interurbans”:

    Both diesel and gasoline buses and fixed route cabs called “jitneys” were permitted to pull into streetcar stops before the trains arrived and deposit passengers.

    Wonder if Uber or Lyfft would be interested?


  11. I did a pleasant ride on the Interurban Trail down to Algona and back to Kent this morning. I treated myself to a 168 up the hill from Kent Station and was perusing the RapidRide A Line schedule. Quite an extraordinary resource as I had not realized how far it travelled and that it made not only the SeaTac LINK stop by also the Tukwila one. Good to know that if I want to avoid searching for parking in Tukwila when going downtown evenings, I can park near one of the Kent stations and take that up to LINK.

  12. Ah, now this is interesting…. Apparently the “fact” that 65% of Seattle’s land is zoned SF is not a “fact” at all, it is actually just an urban myth.

    The official number for what percentage of Seattle’s land is zoned SF???….35%! That is the official number in Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan.

    So have those tricky developers on the HALA committee been lying to us? In a word, “yes”, or at least “sort of.”

    How does HALA arrive at their skewed 65% number?

    First, they exclude streets and other ROW’s from their calculation. ROW’s are bigger in industrial areas so excluding them from the calculation would inflate the apparent amount of land that appears to be zoned SF. How tricky of them….

    Second, they include parks and lakes as being zoned SF! So those 260 acres that are Green Lake (just the lake mind you)? That is considered as being zoned SF and included in their calc to get to 65%! Obviously we are not going to fill in Green Lake or develop any of our local parks, so it is pointless to include them in your calc unless you are intentionally trying to skew things yet again…. How sneaky of them…

    Then there is some other stuff, but the bottom line is that 65% is a myth and the real number lies closer to 35%, and is certainly less than half.

    1. ROW’s are bigger in industrial areas


      But that’s only the most explicitly fraudulent of Crosscut’s many whoppers.

      Seattle’s ROW’s are relatively huge everywhere, compared to any reasonably dense city. Yes, even those famously inefficient “2-way, 1-lane” neighborhood streets, with their street parking on both sides and ginormous sidewalks.

      The vast, vast, overwhelming majority of Seattle’s streets run through single-family zoned areas. That’s precisely the problem with low-density sprawl: you maintain a gargantuan quantity of pavement just to reach a relatively small number of people per asphalt block.

      It is far more mathematically egregious to attempt to discount all that asphalt as explicitly belonging to the single-family zones it serves. But that’s precisely the wool that the reactionaries over at Crosscut are attempting to pull here.

      Furthermore, Crosscut appears to have no evidence that roads are being counted as “single family” anywhere but in zones that are entirely “single family”, on both sides of the street.

      This isn’t even spin, Laz. Just plain, boring lies.

      1. p.s. That’s the city’s official zoning map, and that’s a lot of freaking yellow.

        You have to get absurdly meticulous with the X-ACTO knife to even attempt to carve that down to 35%.

        Crosscut’s objection is nonsense.

      2. The 35% figure isn’t Crosscut’s, it’s the city’s. If you don’t like their math, then take it up with the city.

      3. Um, no.

        That’s the city’s map above. The city considers the roads service single-family-zoned lots to be within single-family zones.

        Because they are.

      4. Though if you want to suggest ways to replace every other block of boring planting strips and oodles of street parking with tightly infilled duplexes and brownstones, I’m all ears.

      5. “Seattle’s ROW’s are relatively huge everywhere, compared to any reasonably dense city.”

        You keep comparing Seattle to the old northeastern cities as if they’re the majority, but if you’ve ever traveled in most of the US you’d see that their streets are wider than Seattle’s. I’ve seen many huge streets in Dallas, San Diego, San Jose, etc and it makes me want to cry; I wouldn’t want to live there. Last week I went to see the old northwest Everett neighborhood, and every north-south residential street was wider than comparable Seattle streets, and large setbacks on top of that. We don’t have wide streets for the same reason we don’t have many row houses: it’s hard to get them approved in the automobile era. Not just in Seattle, but everywhere in the US. Plus the current fire regulations mandate a minimum width. And there again Seattle is luckier than cities that require a deep sidewalk curve at intersections, forcing pedestrians to turn out of their way to reach the sidewalk.

      6. “We don’t have wide narrow streets for the same reason we don’t have many row houses”

      7. “We don’t have wide narrow streets for the same reason we don’t have many row houses”

      8. Well, the approach throughout large swaths of, say, Los Angeles, has been to squeeze in a whole lot of apartments and a relatively high level of lot coverage on any given block, thereby enabling that same quantity of pavement and planting strip to provide access to exponentially more residents than we do.

        Do that, and you can fairly claim those dozens of square miles of asphalt as part of the multi-family city.

        Devote those thousands and thousands of acres to SF 5000 and SF 7200 sprawl, and those roads count as single-family-zoned land. Full fucking stop.

      9. Furthermore, when the lot-to-lot and building-to-building widths of our average residential streets are wider than the major boulevards in thousands of cities new and old — yet thanks to universal setbacks, wide sidewalk/planting strips, and tons of parking, a firetruck can barely squeeze down these massive ROWs regardless — then “fire regulations” is a logical non-starter of a defensive excuse!!

      10. An ordinary Seattle residential street is maybe 60-65 feet across, I’d estimate. 2 sidewalks plus planting strips (together, ~15 feet each) plus ~30 feet of roadway sounds about right.

        Any standard 6-lane street with sidewalks would be wider than that. That would include every street considered a “major boulevard” that I can think of.

      11. 60-65 feet does sound about right to describe the total public ROW average “minor” Seattle residential “neighborhood street”

        Of course, if one includes the setbacks that are mandated as part of single-family zoning in this town, you’re looking at more like 90-95 feet from building to building. On every single “minor” street. Multiplied by the thousands and thousands of blocks of such streets that cause these zones (streets and all) to consume (roughly) 65% of our total urban land.

        The world is full of cities in which the “minor” streets are only 30 feet wide, with parking only on one side, or disallowed entirely. (In older cities, that could mean building to building; in younger ones, probably not.)

        Where minor streets are this thin, it is hardly uncommon to see comparatively “major” streets in the 4-lane range, plus perhaps a median, plus perhaps wider sidewalks, but again with little or no parking. Adding up to the same 60-70 foot width that counts as “minor” here.

      12. Well, where I live, the typical city streets are about 35 feet wide. Two driving lanes (<10'), two parking lanes (<8'). Side streets are often narrower. Rural roads are definitely narrower (and don't have parking). Really Big Roads have 4 driving lanes.

        You have completely ludicrous amounts of space devoted to streets in Seattle. That's why I keep suggesting taking lanes and converting them to exclusive bus/streetcar lanes — you've got gobs and gobs of room for it.

      13. For proper reference, add another 5 feet on each side for sidewalks, to get a ~45 foot ROW, maybe 50 foot. I live in the Northeast, of course. Where most of the US population lives.

        I notice someone mentioned San Diego; San Diego streets in places like Downtown and Hillcrest are mostly actually pretty narrow too, though they have the occasional bloated boulevard and *way* too many freeways carving the city up. Your Seattle streets are jaw-droppingly wide compared to San Diego. (Dallas and San Jose are as bad as Seattle.)

    2. The percentage of space wasted on streets in Seattle is actually massive, and worthy of its own expose. You have excessively wide streets.

  13. @Mike Orr,

    I concur with your comments about some of Seattle’s narrow streets. Every time my out of town brother comes to visit I have to listen to his whining about how narrow our residential streets are. It gets rather annoying listening to him all the time….

    But the really egregious thing that HALA did was to include park land in its calculation of developable SFH zoning. That is where they clearly stretched the truth, because I don’t’ care what you say, the middle of Green Lake is developable SFH land – it’s a fricking lake!

      1. Salmon Bay is not developable land. Yet it is zoned industrial.

        Hundreds of feet off the coast of Alki is not developable land. Yet it is zoned “midrise”. (It was even divided into speculation-able lots decades ago, that remain on the tract maps.)

        Our multi-family zones, proportionally scant as they may be, continue to include all of the parks and roads and cemeteries other undevelopable lands contained within them. There are a lot of these — this city has a ridiculous number of separately defined parks per capita — a few of them occupying blocks worth of non-s.f. areas that only stretch a few blocks total.

        A block of road that serves a low-density area is a low-density use. Full stop.

        A park in one zone is not treated any differently for statistical purposes than a park in another zone. Full stop.

        Crosscut’s outrage here is manufactured from whole cloth, and yours is too.

  14. The sodo arena plan apprently now includes a pedestrian bridge over the RR tracks.
    Hansen’s team revealed Thursday new plans for a 14-foot wide pedestrian bridge that would stretch from near 4th Avenue to the east over the railroad tracks and to the southeast corner of the facility.
    Jack McCullough, attorney for the applicant, told the Design Commission on April 16
    that the applicant has agreed to fund the construction of a pedestrian bridge and has been
    talking with SDOT about three potential alignments for the bridge along S. Holgate Street (north
    side, south side, or in the middle). Preliminary estimates are that the bridge would be
    approximately 700 feet in length. The alignment and height of the bridge will be negotiated with
    Amtrak and BNSF.

    Building it north, over the footprint of Massachusetts would be more useful for fans, but still some progress.

    1. Holgate Street crosses no less than *twelve* railroad tracks (though that may go down to eleven). I’m a little surprised that it isn’t going to be grade-separated for cars too. Maybe it will just be closed?

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