4-Car Train at Capitol Hill Station (Photo by the Author)
4-Car Train at Capitol Hill Station (Photo by the Author)

Yesterday, the King County Council’s Transportation, Economy, and Environment (TrEE) Committee had their first briefing over two March 2016 service change ordinances. The first ordinance (Ordinance 2015-0349, Pages 287-358) dealt with suburban changes such as extending Route 200 to Swedish-Issaquah, looking at Alternative Services in Enumclaw, and the Prop 1-funded split of Rapid Ride C and D and their respective extensions into South Lake Union and Pioneer Square. The second (much larger) ordinance (2015-0350, Pages 359-599) is the big ULink Restructure that we have covered extensively. Let’s take each one in turn.

More after the jump.

Rapid Ride C & D

Splitting Rapid Ride C & D and extending them into SLU and Pioneer Square will be quite expensive. At 51,000 annual service hours, the split would boost service hours by 40% on the C-Line and 30% on the D-Line, at a cost to Seattle of approximately $7M annually. But in return, an additional 65,000 commuters will work within 1/4 mile of a C/D stop, a 40% boost in job accessibility.

Seattle would foot the bill for 20 new Rapid Ride coaches, effectively leasing them for service. If Prop 1 expires and is neither renewed nor replaced in 2020, the coaches would remain Metro property. As staff noted that the service change is intended to be indefinite regardless of Seattle’s funding, there was some unexpected hesitance from both Councilmembers Lambert and Dembowski about this arrangement and its long-term financial impacts on Metro. But tax authority is rarely perpetual and sunset clauses are common, so it seemed strange for Councilmembers to effectively complain that there was a conspiracy to provide lots of new bus service and that someone else wants to pay for it.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 9.27.38 PMOperationally, the C-Line in particular will present some challenges in its interface with the South Lake Union Streetcar and Route 40. In that very Seattle way, there could be 3 separate payment processes and two fare structures at the 4 stations shared by the 3 routes (Westlake/Denny in both directions, Westlake/Harrison southbound, and Westlake/Mercer southbound. County staff said that two ORCA readers are likely at each shared platform, and Route 40 riders would need to know to pay on board, while Rapid Ride C and Streetcar passengers would need to tap the correct reader and/or understand the vagaries of transfer incompatibility. In addition, the real-time arrival technology used on the streetcar and Rapid Ride is incompatible, so the City may install separate readers for that as well. The City pushed back on Twitter and stated their preference to have integrated payment and signage.

Planned Capital Upgrades for the C/D/ Line Extensions
Planned Capital Upgrades for the C/D/ Line Extensions

There is a grab bag of capital upgrades needed as well, including:

  • Lengthened bus bulbs at 3rd/Virginia and a new bulb at Westlake/Harrison
  • Extended transit zones at 4 stops
  • More layover space on 5th Ave S. and Valley St.
  • Tech upgrades throughout

ULink Restructure

Last on the committee’s agenda, Council staff presented the restructure in a briefing format, with Metro watching from the galley. The meat of the discussion will be deferred until the next meeting on September 29th, at which Metro will get to present the package formally.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 9.04.55 PMAs a brief refresher, the ordinance would fundamentally restructure bus service in NE Seattle, and to a much lesser extent in Capitol Hill, to connect riders with the two new Link stations. Changes include:

  • Doubling frequency in most of NE Seattle (Routes 65, 67, 75, and 372)
  • More than tripling access to 15-minute service in NE Seattle, from 8,700 people today to 28,000
  • More than doubling access to 10-12 minute service in Capitol Hill, from 15,600 people today to 40,000
  • Creating new crosstown service between Sand Point, Wedgwood, Ravenna, Roosevelt, Green Lake, Wallingford, Fremont, South Lake Union, and Downtown (Route 63)
  • Creating new peak connections to South Lake Union along Fairview Avenue from Northgate, NE 65th, and Lake City (New route 63 and restructured Route 64)
  • Adding service on most NE Seattle peak routes (63, 64, 74, 76, 316)
  • Deleting or realigning the popular 70-series routes (71 and 72 deleted, 73 realigned to UW Station), with service every 3 minutes between UW and UW Station for frequent Link transfers
  • Deleting Route 43 in Capitol Hill and using its hours to increase frequency on Routes 8 (12 minutes), 11 (15 minutes), 48 (10 minutes), and 49 (12 minutes)
  • Splitting Route 8 at Mount Baker TC and creating a local Link shadow route on MLK (Route 38)
  • Making routes 26 and 28 full-time expresses on Aurora

The committee heard supportive public comment from SDOT Transit Director Paulo Nunes-Ueno, UW Transportation Director Josh Kavanaugh, and others, but the discussion at committee didn’t discuss the meatier issues of the restructure, instead focusing on a few important but secondary issues.

Councilmember Gossett focused on fare compatibility, reading a letter from a constituent claiming they’d have to pay $10/day to transfer between Metro and Link due to Link’s lack of paper transfers. Gossett asked staff to do a revenue analysis of the hit Sound Transit would take if they accepted Metro’s transfers. Dembowski asked about the 28% of riders in NE Seattle who currently pay cash, and Metro GM Kevin Desmond came to the mic to assure the committee that Metro will do a robust public outreach prior to launch, both to get retail ORCA cards in people’s hands and to enroll riders in ORCA Lift. Desmond also noted that UW – with its universal student, faculty, and staff transit passes – has fewer ORCA access issues than just about anywhere else. No one noted that Metro is an outlier in their continued issuance of transfers, with Sound Transit, Pierce Transit, and Community Transit having abandoned them already.

Dembowski asked staff about the timing of the restructure, noting that he’d prefer the network to stay intact without any optimization until Northgate Link opens in 2021. He suggested three additional options: “doing nothing”, creating a phased approach, and/or implementing a 1-year delay to see if and how travel patterns change. He also criticized SDOT’s investment in Rapid Ride C and D, (incorrectly) stating that “we’re adding 50k hours in South Lake Union while contemplating a revenue neutral restructure in NE Seattle. Why can’t we just add frequent service on top of the current network?” In fact, Prop 1 funds have been applied to both areas, and service hours across the city go way up under the proposal. Metro’s baseline network is indeed revenue neutral, but almost everyone gets more service hours under the proposal.

Again, the next meeting on September 29th will give the committee much more time to chew on the substance of the proposal, with Metro themselves rather than Council staff doing the briefing. Now is the time for thoughtful and constructive conversation with your councilmember about these changes. If you live anywhere in King County you can and should have a say on this, as the urban councilmembers (Phillips, McDermott, Gossett, and Dembowski) get an equal vote with suburban members (Von Reichbauer, Dunn, Lambert, Hague, and Upthegrove) for whom these changes are outside of their district.

Stay tuned for more updates, and for upcoming public hearings tentatively slated for early October.

118 Replies to “County Council Begins ULink Restructure Deliberations”

  1. Let’s make sure to get a *free* ORCA card into the hands of that constituent Councilmember Gossett quoted. Having the restructure killed over the fact the ORCA card costs $5 would be worse than having it killed because people (especially Councilmember Dembowski) are not doing the math of how bus hours spent in the I-5 rush hour parking lot would be converted into more neighborhood service hours, with vastly-improved access to the whole UW campus, as well as vastly-improved connections to that 6-minute train ride from UW Station to Westlake.

    Northeast Seattle has waited decades for this opportunity to get access to light rail. Don’t pull the rug out from under your own constituents, CM Dembowski.

    1. It’s pretty bizarre that a transit rider would be BOTH 1) A frequent rider who’s informed and interested enough in upcoming service changes to take time out of their day to write a letter to their King County Councilmember protesting a change AND 2) be paying cash every day, AND plan to continue paying cash every day, after they calculate it will cost them $10 a day to do so.

      1. If you pay cash for everything it is much more difficult for the government to track your movements, purchases, and lifestyle preferences. It’s not impossible for the government to track you, it is just more difficult without all their automated systems.

      2. That’s why cash is more anonymous than credit cards, but this is about ORCA, which is as anonymous as pre-paid debit cards, which are themselves popular precisely for their anonymity.

      3. It’s not what reality actually is that is important, it is what people believe reality to be that is important..

        If people believe that all electronic card transactions are being tracked by the government, then they will act accordingly.

      4. It’s not as crazy as you think to pay in cash. Paper transfers usually last 1 to 2 hours longer than an ORCA card transfer. This means that for running certain kinds of errands you can avoid paying two fares by paying cash. If that was the principal type of trip that a person made, it’d be entirely rational not to purchase an ORCA card, especially with the $5 fee.

      5. People who can’t afford another fare the third hour are precisely the ones that the LIFT discount fare was designed for.

      6. The post doesn’t specify that the constituent was paying in cash. Collect all thousand-ish possible all-day versions of the paper transfer, and you’d never have to pay again, as long as you stick to Metro.

        CM Gossett’s comments don’t bode well for following up on our investment in ORCA LIFT, and getting rid of the now-pointless-except-for-freeloading paper transfers.

      7. Gossett’s tone was one of education and good faith, responding to a letter he received. He mostly wanted to know whether the facts of the letter were true and what could be done about it. It was the furthest thing from grandstanding.

      8. People who can’t afford another fare the third hour are precisely the ones that the LIFT discount fare was designed for.

        It’s not a question of “afford.” My Grandmother has, in her her golden years, inherited a sizeable amount of land and money, but she still clips coupons and pinches pennies. I’m pretty close to a middle of middle class person, not close to LIFT eligibility, but if I know my return/next trip is in the 2.5 hour range and I happen to have change handy, I’ll often purchase a paper transfer and keep the ORCA in my wallet, for the same reason that I’ll order off the happy hour menu, even though I can afford full price. They’ve incentivized this particular money-saving move, quite foolishly, so why shouldn’t I take advantage of the incentive structure? It’s naive and foolish to assume only those who truly can’t afford to do otherwise will avail themselves of this incentive structure.

      9. @djw: True; those in all income groups avail themselves of money-saving opportunities, but if that transit rider is in the same class as your grandmother, then there really isn’t a hardship argument to be made if s/he ends up paying more each month.

    2. I’m probably missing something here, but … if Councilmember Gossett’s constituent can’t afford a $5 ORCA card, then presumably s/he would qualify for ORCA Lift. Isn’t an ORCA Lift card free? And wouldn’t an ORCA Lift card both eliminate the transfer issue and reduce his/her basic fare? Sounds like a complete win for him/her.

      1. The quote doesn’t mention the $5 fee so the opposition seems to be something else. Either the person doesn’t know ORCA exists, or thinks it’s not for them, or is unwilling to use it or something. A lot of cash riders seem to have these issues. Perhaps it’s to avoid being tracked, although that seems to be an issue more for tekkies than for working-class cash payers. It can’t be the $5 fee unless the person is seriously misinformed, because paying $10 a day for a bus-to-train round trip would pay for the card in one day. $10 a day for a 22-day work week would be $220 a month, while a one-zone peak pass costs $121. I would be pissed off too if I had to pay $220 a month, but the transit agencies agree and in fact you don’t have to, the person just needs to learn that. Or maybe the extra $99 a month is worth it for the tin-foil hat.

      2. Alternatively, perhaps his opposition is based on the inconvenience of reloading it, when (currently) the only TVM in northern Seattle is at Northgate? Fortunately, there’s going to be another one at Husky Stadium.

        Councilmember Gossett should do some more digging into this objection. On its face, it can be dismissed simply by, “Orca exists.” Perhaps there’s something more substantial that can be addressed, but not until it’s brought to the surface and we know what to address.

      3. Actually, you don’t have to take Link. Many of these cash payers have already been avoiding Link, so they can continue to do so. For downtown/Capitol Hill to UW, see 11+48, 49, or 70, or 2+48. For downtown to anywhere near NE 65th or further north, see 63. For Rainier Valley, see 38.

      4. Anyone who is using Link will have a TVM right at their station. The person complained about the double cost of a two-seat ride with Link, which means he’s using Link, so he’ll have access to a TVM.

      5. William, you can reload it online. True, you don’t have access for a day, but really. It’s not that hard.

      6. Yes, you can reload it online, but you can’t depend on it showing up even the next day. My sister was burned once when the bus the next morning hadn’t gotten her reload yet.

        Plus, that only works if you have internet access, you have a credit card, and you don’t mind associating your Orca card with your credit card. I’m sure there’re some people who really don’t trust Metro and Sound Transit with that information; we may not want to cater to them, but they exist.

        (The real problem, in my mind, is the delay before the reloads show up. Fortunately, if I understand things correctly, Link readers will automatically update your card with any reloads.)

    3. I agree. This is especially horrible just one day after Glenn observed that every minute of delay costs King County Metro roughly $2.66. So, if giving one person one free Orca card saves only two minutes, the card has already paid for itself.

      Scatter Orca cards from airplanes. Send people to walk down the street and give them to everyone they meet. Mail them to every address in Seattle. Put them in council members’ advertisement mailings. Don’t delay a restructure because you insist on people paying $5 for the opportunity to save Metro time and money!

      1. One person paying cash twice a day for a year, delaying the bus 15 seconds each time, costs Metro $485.45 in added operations anually, enough to give away 97 ORCA cards at the retail rate. Let that sink in.

        One person tapping ORCA twice a day for a year, delaying the bus 3 seconds each time, costs Metro $97.09 in added operations.

        One person tapping before they board for Link? Zero fare-related boarding delay, ever.

        Tell me again why ORCA cards aren’t free?

    4. Drop the damn fee for the ORCA cards already. At the very least lower the cost to $1 card. Include $1 of fare value with each card. Eliminate paper transfers. Make ORCA the only fare media accepted on Sounder, Link, and the streetcars.

      Send a flood of people out to hand out ORCA cards with a $10 value to anyone they see slowing down a bus with change fumbling. Hell have the drivers do it too.

      Put readers on all doors of all buses.

      Past that signal priority and bus lanes should be a top priority for Metro and the City of Seattle (and anyone else paying for bus service hours). Enforcement of those lanes should be a priority as well.

    5. Boston sells Charlie Cards for $5, worth $5 in fare. The card is basically free. I didn’t see people throwing them away.

      That would seem like a good starting point, at least.

      1. I just got a Charlie Card when I was visiting Boston in July. I didn’t actually have to pay for the card at all; when I asked an attendant how I could get one, she said “you ask me” and handed me one. It had no value on it, I had to then step over to the machine to do that, but still the point is that the cards are in fact freely distributed.

      2. Why does Boston do it that way? Because *that’s how you distribute fare media*. That’s just how it works.

        What Seattle does with the $5 ORCA fee is just crazy.

        It reminds me of Matt Yglesias’s rant about insane boarding procedures at certain Amtrak stations. http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/07/10/_.html Speaking of which, you in Seattle have an especially-crazy Amtrak boarding procedure, even weirder and more insane than at DC Union or NY Penn.

    6. Brent,

      Since the peak hour direct express versions are not going away, “more neighborhood service hours” essentially will mean more empty seats running around northeast Seattle mid-day attracting insults from the transit haters. Seriously; until Link reaches Brooklyn and Roosevelt “choice” riders will not see transferring at Husky Stadium as a sufficient improvement in their downtown access to switch to the bus in order to fill up those extra “neighborhood service hours”. Even though, yes, it will usually be faster than the “Eastlake slog” everyone complains about.

      When the two stations that actually will speed things up dramatically for them open, they might be attracted.

      Most of Northeast Seattle is expensive enough that both adults are working their butts off to keep their heads above water; they aren’t around to ride the bus on mid-day trips. How many mid-day 7X runs have more than 1/3 of the seats full north of 55th? There’s a pulse once an hour when folks get out of their last class for the day, but it’s relatively minor.

      As I pointed out before, the “overcrowding” on the 7X’s will disappear the day that Link opens to Husky. Everyone on campus will walk to the train. Voila! crowding solved.

      I can see killing the 71 and 72 in order to provide hours for the extension of the 16 to Magnuson Park and to beef up the schedule of the 372 and 65. More people in the area would benefit by frequent service on the north-south arterials than would by the continuation of the 71. What is true for the area as a whole is even more true of the far Wedgewood tail. There’s no (transit riding) there there at all. But the rest of it is a huge gamble on people being willing to wait at Montlake and Pacific.

  2. Putting Rapid Ride on Westlake will mean that the city HAS to start implementing transit only lanes for both the SLUT and RR … otherwise it will be an even greater cluster

    1. That’s the plan.

      The transit only lane on Westlake is supposed to be striped by March 2016, when the C Line rerouting takes place.

    2. I said this in the post about the proposed transit lanes on Westlake, but I’ll say it again.

      Southbound the proposed transit lanes help pretty much nothing. The proposal I saw only had the transit lanes going as far north as Valley, and Southbound Westlake between Valley and Stewart is essentially wide open all day. I commute on this route daily in my car, and the southbound backups are always in the two blocks north of Valley. South of there, the only slowdowns are the occasional car making a right turn (and often waiting for pedestrians). This problem will not change at all with the addition of a transit lane.

      If they want to smooth out the southbound traffic flow through this area, then they need to make major changes to the Aloha/9th/Westlake intersection and extend the Westlake transit lanes at least 1 block north of Valley. Unfortunately, it wasn’t too long ago that they did a major restructure of the Aloha/9th/Westlake intersection, so the chances of it being redone again is pretty slim.

      Northbound is a different story, a transit lane would likely help a lot through there, but I still don’t know how you deal with the cars taking right turns onto Denny and Mercer, which seem to be the major backup points at all times of day. Maybe the 40 & C could follow the SLUT tracks and divert over to Terry, which would remove the Mercer problem, but you still have the Denny problem.

    3. Enforcement has been picking up lately, especially in the AM on 3rd. I often see two motorcycle officers circling 3rd Ave pulling over drivers violating the bus restrictions.

  3. Holy crap, I didn’t realize how far into SLU they’re planning to run RapidRide C. This is a catastrophe for West Seattle. Adding some service hours couldn’t possibly make up for the morass of infinite congestion they’re going to get stuck in. By 8am every day, the entire RR C fleet will be backed up in gridlock on Westlake, and they won’t find their way back to West Seattle again until maybe noon.

    1. Not only is Westlake slated to get transit-only lanes (though possibly dependent on a passed Move Seattle), they’re also adding 40% more service hours to cover a route only 13% longer than the current pathway between Westwood and Downtown. And Blanchard and Lenora are also rarely congested, and should be a reliable pathway between the two.

      1. I don’t see why a levy passing or not would effect putting down some red paint. Paint is cheap.

      2. Oh. I did not know that about the transit lane on Westlake. It’s not mentioned in the article or in that big map of capital improvements along the route, but I guess it was an unconnected fact. That’s good about Lenora and Blanchard too.. I’ve only ever skirted portions of SLU at rush hour, so I assumed the entire area was as gridlocked as Mercer and Denny.

      3. An oversight on my part. It’s important to point out that the ordinance described in the article is a service change ordinance for the route alignment, whereas most of the improvements will be undertaken separately by SDOT. There are a bunch of interlocal agreements between city and county as part of it, so lots of those came up for discussion at council too.

  4. Westlake transit lanes are a great start but the main backups will continue to be at the intersections of Denny, Mercer, and Fairview. Grade separating only these intersections would be a nice compromise for a whole grade separated alignment.

    Denny & Westlake could have an elevated intersection for cars installed over the streetcar/RR lanes. This would also have the benefit of creating a car free plaza underneath the elevated intersection that connects the Wholefoods plaza with Discovery Center/Denny Park.

    Mercer & Westlake could have a transit/pedestrian bridge over the Mercer mess. If the city were to utilize precast bridge technology, this bridge could be up in a matter of weeks, not years.

    Fairview; I don’t have a clue short of extending the Mercer transit bridge. Suggestions welcomed.

    1. Main issue I see with C line into SLU is if the boxes are still blocked let alone Valley being congested half the time, that will make a hard case even with transit lanes, without signal priority and enforcement of blocking the box, those delays could turn into service hours down the drain. Sure you access employment but if you end up having lots of delays in SLU, bunching will happen.

      Left turns for turning around and crossing Mercer during the rush and you already have a street car. I do not think this is a wise idea running down Westlake and will hurt C line reliability but okay.

      1. Don’t worry about Valley; just send the buses down the SLUT tracks. They’re paved widely enough that professional drivers can use them perfectly well. The multi-use path is a little close but people will just move over a couple of feet when a bus comes. They don’t have to drive quickly; 20 mph would be plenty quick for four blocks if they can bypass the congestion on Valley.

        I realize that people have noted that the box allowing access to the trackway is often blocked southbound on Fairview to the north. This is an EXCELLENT use for a red light camera.

        As I stated downthread, this is a great reason for keeping the 73 Expresses headed to downtown instead of turning them over to Husky. 18 hour per day express service from Amazon and the big towers under construction along Westlake to the U-District, Roosevelt and Maple Leaf.

      2. I really like that idea. I’ll ask SDOT about the feasibility of using the exclusive ROW in Lake Union Park.

      3. The main question I’d have is if they could proceed due east across Fairview from the tracks to the planned Valley/Minor layover.

      4. Asked SDOT, and this was their response:

        Hi Zach,
        I assume you’re talking about the streetcar line segment.

        We looked at that early on and the fatal flaw is that the concrete trackway area wasn’t designed to support vehicles and definitely not buses.

        Turning radii is also probably a fatal flaw (fitting a bus between trolley support poles).

      5. As the intersection’s currently designed, no; there’s a traffic island that’d need to be torn down.

      6. Compare the paving on that segment of the SLU line with the width of paving on the grass right of way of EmX in Eugene.

      7. Zach,

        Thanks for asking SDOT. I’m surprised that it’s not strong enough to support buses because the track structure of “panel track” has to be pretty stout since it’s a real pain to align the tracks if they get out of true. But I doubt they’d lie about it, so, enough of that.

        Darn! I like exclusive right of way for transit vehicles of all kinds; especially the kind that’s actually physically separated from roadways like this.

  5. “there could be 3 separate payment processes and two fare structures at the 4 stations shared by the 3 routes (Westlake/Denny in both directions, Westlake/Harrison southbound, and Westlake/Mercer southbound. County staff said that two ORCA readers are likely at each shared platform”

    I hope this is a joke.

  6. The whole 2 different ORCA readers and 2 different real-time arrival signs are pretty terrible. ORCA could be fixed by aligning the Seattle streetcar and the metro fare structures. As best as I can tell the only difference across all categories is Seattle streetcar is $2.25 instead of Metro’s $2.50. Since most people who ride the streetcar will need to transfer anyways, just make it $2.50.

    2 information signs is just a joke, there’s no excuse why you couldn’t pipe the data to a single LED display….

  7. I’ve always been mystified why a RapidRide D extension didn’t go to Harborview using the Yester overpass. Service south of Pioneer Square seems to be quite redundant — and Harborview is a very high-demand location all day.

    1. RR D or route 40 going to Harborview would be awesome and I think/know that there has been talk of doing this (running route 40 to 12th/Jefferson or thereabouts) but apparently not enough talk because it didn’t make it into this proposal. As for running D there, perhaps the Yesler bridge is too steep to reliably operate 60′ coaches?

      1. What? When I lived near Harborview and rode the 27 sometimes, it was the smallest bus and only had a couple people on it.

      2. The 27 is a mix of equipment, including some runs with a 60ftr (for busy route 33 trips).

        The last time the 27 was exclusively a 40ft route was when it was still thru routed with the 25. That’s been a while.

    2. The sportsball fans who use the D Line a few times a year get the same vote, and have the same clout, as someone going to work at Harborview every day.

  8. Dembowski’s question is a valid one – why not just layer frequent service on top of the existing network?

    Gossett and Dembowski are also valid to ask about the transfers, and it’s a shame that people are responding to bashing the poor and assuming they’re idiots. It doesn’t matter why someone pays in cash – if 28% of NE Seattle riders do, then that has to be taken seriously rather than handwaved away.

    Those Councilmembers are the ones who decide how Metro will spend its money and they are right to ask these questions.

    1. They’re right to ask these questions, but we’ve discussed these questions extensively, moreso than councilmembers who don’t spend their leisure time following transit issues, and most of us think there are good answers to them, which Metro can explain.

      Without the restructure, the 71/72/73X will be running in parallel with Link. That may give a slightly better one-seat ride to the Ave when there’s no traffic, but it’s horribly unreliable between 7:30am and 7pm. That’s a ton of service hours not available to make other routes frequent. There’s no 63, which is a major improvement in crosstown grid service for Wedgwood and Sand Point. The routes currently on Roosevelt and University Way won’t go to the station, and the 372 will continue to have a limited span and not loop to the station entrance. So if you want to use Link: (1) it’ll be harder to get to UW Station, (2) the 3-minute frequent buses between the U-District and the station won’t be as frequent, and (3) you’ll still be incentivized to continue transferring to Link at Westlake, which adds at least 15 minutes to the trip.

      The Capitol Hill issues are more debatable and more of a tradeoff. I don’t feel like dragging them up myself, except to say that Zach didn’t mention the 11 reroute. I assume the use of 19th Avenue is still on?

      But the immediate issue with Dembrowski’s question is all or nothing. There may be an argument to roll back a subset of the changes, but not all of them, for the reasons I listed above.

      As for transfers, Link may give people an incentive to get ORCA which they haven’t had so far. So half of the cash payers may convert on their own. There’s both a stick that they’ll need it for free transfers, and a carrot that the TVMs will be much easier to get to. Plus they’ll probably find that Link’s offboard payment and plenty of wide doors is more convenient than paying the driver.

      1. The #11 change is so small that it’s administrative, i.e. within Metro’s authority to do on its own without an ordinance. Even so, Dembowski was assured by Metro staff that the Madison Park Community Council compromise (which the 19th Ave deviation was a part of) was included as an administrative change.

      2. Zack,

        Taking the 11 off of East Madison may be a small administrative change to some, including the Madison Park Community Council and Metro, but the impact is BIG on those needing the bus west of 19th as constituted today. The MPCC is a self appointed, non democratic group that is not representing the wishes of the users of the 11. They held meetings and the community did not approve their position on this change.

        I know that they did the proposed route by car and saw no problems, but I suggest that they don’t represent anyone but themselves. Their last meeting had five people in attendance and most of their members don’t even use the bus.

    2. The answer is the elimination of paper transfers, free ORCA cards, mobile payment options, and a daily fare cap. Full stop. Metro is the last major agency in the region using paper transfers, and agencies like Pierce Transit have an even higher proportion of low-income riders but paper transfers are obviated by their own inexpensive $5 Day Pass.

      The councilmembers are absolutely right to call out the lack of fare integration between Metro and ST, but integration should only move in one direction: toward easier to use fare products, toward ZERO barrier to entry for obtaining fare media, and toward ubiquitous access for low-income riders.

      1. There seem to be a fair number of systems that were doing the thing where you don’t get a transfer unless you buy a day pass. It seems like Intercity Transit was doing that, and I know Salem was doing it that way for a while. Maybe Jefferson Transit up in Port Townsend as well?

        I’ve been told that one reason other agencies are reluctant to accept Metro transfers is they are too easy to spoof as there is no date stamp, and King County provides too many free passes to its employees and families. I don’t know the veracity of any of that.

    3. If Metro incentivizes paying with cash (and they do), having lots of riders pay with cash is hardly a sign of lack of intelligence, but it is still a Tragedy of the Commons. Defending the incentivization of paying cash, knowing how many bus hours it kills, merits harsh disagreement.

      As does defending unnecessarily having buses sit in slow-moving traffic on I-5, when those hours could have been converted to more frequent neighborhood service that connects to light rail and produces a faster downtown commute.

    4. Tourists are also often paying with cash. Few know about ORCA cards, even fewer know where to buy them (very few places, and absurdly not at most transit stations), and even fewer know how and where they can be loaded with money (far too few places, not enough machines at the stations).

      ORCA cards aren’t even available at the airport. Seems like we want tourists to pay cash.

      1. You can get ORCA cards from the TVMs at the Airport Link station. Making visitors aware of it and pricing it to make it worth their while is an issue.

      2. They’re certainly available at the Link station on the other side of the parking garage, but at the airport itself?

  9. I feel like this should have maybe been two posts. The lede, that Seattle rep Dembowski is signaling that he is considering holding up the U-Link restructure for at least another year, is really buried.

    It’s a poor design that has a suburban majority deciding this Seattle change, though, it should be noted, these changes aren’t really in Dembowki’s area either. So we kind of have to wonder what is at the heart of his objections. We can only speculate.

    This plan certainly has room for public comment and tweaks — but to completely scrap it (or at very least, pull all of its guts out) as Dembowski is suggesting would be a terrible misstep.

    Regarding off-board payment and ORCA costs. Yeah, penny wise and pound foolish all the way there. I think the two sentences are:

    “It is more expensive to have riders pay with cash than it is to give them an ORCA card.”


    “It is more expensive to have riders pay on-board with ORCA than to put ORCA readers at every bus stop.”

    1. I doubt it’s on anybody’s radar to put Orca readers at every stop. I have no reasonable idea how many bus stops are in King County but it must be over 10,000. That’s a lot of electronics to maintain.

  10. If the will of the county council is really for nothing to happen, why did they agree to spend the money on the meetings and staff time to plan the restructure in the first place?

  11. Thanks for providing this summary of the proceedings yesterday. It should be really shocking to everyone here that a county council member would suggest Metro should not coordinate service with Link. Metro has shown real leadership and courage to try and optimize service despite the fact that it is challenging to make big changes.

    If Dembowski is successful in stopping Metro from integrating with Link, we will all be worse off. Metro will spend a ton of money on unneeded service that is unreliable. Traffic around UW Station will be grind to a halt as thousands of residents of NE Seattle will choose to drive to light rail. Even the riders he is trying to protect such such as Viewridge commuters on the 71 will lose access to the downtown transit tunnel and have increasingly slower, less reliable trips.

    From an equity perspective, Dembowski is trying to protect the interests of people who live in wealthy neighborhoods like Viewridge and work in offices downtown (enjoying one seat rides on Rt. 71, oblivious to people with the reverse commute who don’t benefit from the express lanes). His proposal of no change would be a huge blow for the increasing number of people who ride transit at different times or in different directions such as people from South Seattle who work or go to school in NE Seattle.

    It has taken decades to finally build a grade separated rail line to the U District. Metro has risen to the challenge and put forth a bold vision for a better transit network that leverages Link. I really hope readers here take the time to let Dembowski know that he is making a huge mistake and urge the council to step up to this opportunity.

    1. Agreed here, and with Keith Kyle, up thread. The U Dist restructure is not perfect, but is perfectly adequate for the 2016-2021 interregnum. NE Seattle has been in need of a major restructure for over 20 years, but it keeps getting kicked down the road because of “light rail” leaving its residents with much worse transit than say, Ballard (even before RapidRide), for decades.

      1. Hit reply too soon….

        Any delay of the U Dist restructure, by the council, is a mistake. I reserve judgement on both Capitol Hill and the C/D split (though that is being driven by the city of Seattle).

    2. “From an equity perspective, Dembowski is trying to protect the interests of people who live in wealthy neighborhoods like Viewridge and work in offices downtown (enjoying one seat rides on Rt. 71, oblivious to people with the reverse commute who don’t benefit from the express lanes).”

      Actually, he’s not even doing that. Those people are commuting to downtown during peak hours and will take the 76 not the 71. Metro’s planned restructure increases the number of trips on the 76.

  12. When the blog tossed d.p. overboard a few weeks ago, I bemoaned the chill it would cast over the comments and conversation on this blog.

    This thread is a great example of the group think that is often present amongst the authors and commenters. I do give this blog and its leadership huge credit for changing the tone of the conversation in the city, and doing a great job educating many people who are now active, intelligent, informed voices on transit in Seattle. But the fact that no one picked up on the shocking amount of service hours required to split the C/D (as noted by Shaner in the original piece) is unreal. Some mentioned that others will take d.p.’s place. He would have been all over this. Where are those voices?

    Since no one else will, I’ll stick my neck out there.

    This is an incredibly large amount of service hours. Remember, the driver for pushing C-Line in SLU is the lack of layover space for a split route in the traditional downtown core (Lenora? Blanchard? Bell? all full). In order to layover the coaches, they have to push the route through SLU to the nearest stretch of parking they could use, without negatively impacting the storefronts/businesses on that block.

    It will take a huge amount of time and money to get to and from that layover. Thus, to sell it, you see statistics like the one Shaner posted above. “An additional 65,000 commuters will work within 1/4 mile of a C-Line stop.” That’s a nice, eye popping number, but really is meaningless.

    All 65,000 of those commuters within 1/4 mile of a new C-Line stop are all within 1/4 mile of the underutilized SLUT. They have transit service. They have the streetcar that was built for them (at the cost of thousands of service hours to in city bus service). And they don’t use it (for many reasons, including some reliability issues that will be addressed).

    When this issues has been raised before on this blog, the typical response is “yeah but, a lot of those workers will now be able to ride the C-Line all the way home to West Seattle.”

    Will they? Do we have an origin/destination survey to support that?
    Also, didn’t the service guidelines King County adopted a few years ago push the system away from supporting one-seat rides? But we’ll support it here, because….?

    Because no one has the knowledge or the will to improve service on the SLUT, as it stands today?
    Because this seems like a simple, but very very costly fix that makes it look like “they are doing something?”
    Because because because…

    Meanwhile, no one has asked for other solutions for fixing the C/D bottlenecks. Headway improvements to both routes can happen independently of a route split.

    Just a few days ago on this blog, the paid reporter wrote a wouldn’t-it-be-nice-if piece about improving access to SLU. Not much reporting there, but it did pose some interesting ideas. But there is nothing from the writing staff giving a critical look to this *enormous* expenditure of Prop-1 money. How about a story on what else these service hours could buy, and what the improvement would be on mobility, across the city, if the C/D were left through routed and the service hours were deployed elsewhere?

    These contrary views were exactly the kind of critical thinking d.p. did every day in the comments here. Who is going to provide them now?

    1. What do you mean “tossed d.p. overboard”? I have noticed that he’s no longer commenting, but I figured he was on vacation or perhaps sick. Did he get banned?

      1. Wow, what a mistake. I think he was always particularly hard on me, but I don’t want to see him gone.

    2. “These contrary views were exactly the kind of critical thinking d.p. did every day in the comments here. Who is going to provide them now?”

      You just did, and without any annoying, over-the-top-insulting vitriole, and with far deeper analysis than most of the stuff I’ve read from d.p.

      However, you failed to ask the question of what happens to the C Line when the viaduct ceases operation, or pick on the stop spacing as being too close or too far. And then you have to pretend to like the light rail long enough to contrast it to the Rapid Ride, as in one-tenth the functionality for one-tenth the cost. Be prepared to argue the same point back and forth over and over, and never let anyone else have the last word.

      And then you have to threaten to vote against the next transit measure, while claiming you voted in favor of all the previous ones you argued venomously against.

      I like your comment style just the way it is. There is no need to imitate d.p.

    3. There was significant unhappiness with joining the C and D in the first place, which was only done because Metro didn’t have enough service hours to run them separately. The most complaints have come from Ballard, that they lost their one-seat ride to lower downtown, Pioneer Square and the stadiums. I think DP was one of those but I don’t remember for sure. So splitting the C and D has long been a significant goal for Metro and some of the ridership community, more than any of the other Prop 1 changes. It gives Seattle three full RapidRide lines rather than 2 1/2 lines. The ultra-frequent service along 3rd Avenue will (A) allow future consolidation of downtown north-south routes if Metro decides to (there’s an argument that too many routes go through downtown, a legacy of the old milk-run network), (B) absorb inevitable population increases and ridership increases, (C) treat SLU like part of downtown as it has become. Downtown doesn’t have just one or two bus routes, it has almost all the bus routes, so SLU should too, by extending south-end routes to it or through-lining them with north-end routes.

      1. Mike Orr –

        I agree with most of what you have to say. You are not wrong, though I will point out two things:

        1) 3rd Avenue is capacity constrained regarding the throughput of buses and will become more so after the tunnel closes. Breaking through-routes doubles the number of buses on 3rd Avenue, something that cannot continue infinitely.

        2) Ballard connection to Pioneer Square. The blog authors and comments, nearly unanimously, have pushed, endlessly the idea that if the bus goes downtown, anywhere, that is good enough. Witness the 11’s loss of connection past Pike/Pine, the 10 (same), the 12 (the same but the opposite) and the dismissal of route 2 South riders about the loss of their connection to the Seattle Center.

        Saying the C/D split was inevitable because of the needed connection to Pioneer Square is not consistent with the opposite attitude above.

        Finally, while pretty much everything you said about the C/D split and benefits to SLU are true, we are still missing half of the analysis.

        The opportunity costs of splitting the C/D and spending that huge quantity of service hours on that project comes at the expense of spending those hours on other routes, throughout the city. Routes that need a lot of help.

        Shaner’s post a few days ago showed an easy, relatively cost neutral way to add more service into SLU (in the peak directions needed to match with workflows as an overlay to the existing infrastructure – mainly SLUT). The C/D split also adds a bunch of service, but at a huge cost to improvements to the rest of the system.

      2. K H,

        What you say about the split is spot on, but ignores one thing: SLU is suffering from arterial bleeding (or perhaps more correctly, an “arterial” thrombosis!) It needs many more service hours NOW, so the consumption of hours with “duplicate service” on Third is money well spent.

        It is unfortunate at the least that the nearest northbound stop to Weslake at Third and Pine will have only 40 and C Line service; to get a common stop for all three lines one would have to hike all the way to Amazon. So adding cars to the trolley won’t help much northbound, at least until (and if) the CCC is built pushing the streetcar farther into downtown. Folks will take the BRT’s because they’re more frequent.

        Southbound, of course, unless the 40 moves over to Westlake, riders will have only the trolley and C Line service.

      3. K H (1): The immediate impact is Metro’s responsibility to deal with. Metro was the one who proposed this, so it presumably has. Closing the tunnel is a few years off, and will require a larger mitigation than this anyway. Also, there was a forecast that in the mid term there will be a large gap in unmet transit demand downtown even with ST2 and a second DSTT, with thousands of people unable to get on buses or trains. That’s a larger issue that makes the C+D split small in comparison.

        K H (2): I live on Capitol Hill so I’m one of those directly affected by the 14/47 split and 11/125 separation. I don’t fully accept the idea that Ballard and Wallingford must be connected to Pioneer Square but Capitol Hill doesn’t, just because two are north of it and one is east. But I’ve recently come to the viewpoint that anything that enters downtown should go all the way through it.

        I used to think the 28/132 through-route was silly: why should people in Ballard be more likely to go to 4th Avenue South rather than West Seattle or Rainier Valley? Why should they have a one-seat ride when everyone else transfers. And if I lived on one side of it, I’d want the other side to go someplace useful, not Magnolia or 16th Ave SW. But after riding for years, I see that sometimes I do use the through routes (Latona to Costco, Laurelhurst to Fremont, Capitol Hill to Little Saigon). Even if it doesn’t go to the exact place you’re going (e.g., the bus goes to Latona but you’re going to Tangletown), you can walk or transfer to a crosstown route, and that works at least in north Seattle where there’s a better grid, and beats transferring in the downtown congestion. There’s the same benefits writ smaller with the C and D split.

      4. Mike –

        The C/D split is truly the city’s initiative. I believe Metro’s planning staff is more ambivalent about it.

        You mention an unmet transit need where “thousands” will be unable to get on buses because they are too full. I tend to agree that that is the trajectory we are on.

        The Prop 1 money going to the C/D split would go along ways to mitigating that unmet need.

        The C/D split is certainly an okay project. It might even be a good project. But its not a great project. And to assume that more money will just fall from the sky to deal with that “unmet need” because we’ve spent (forever) a load of cash on the C/D split is pretty optimistic. I wouldn’t bank on it.

        I think the CCC is another bucket of money down a toilet. The SLUT stops two (admittedly long) blocks away from a major transit hub). Again, when the route 2 defenders complained they would have to walk two blocks to the hospital, or two blocks to the tunnel, downtown in the face of that split, the consensus here (and I was and still am on board with that thinking) was that two blocks is no big deal and they need to just suck it up. I feel the same way about those who say the SLUT is underutilized because passengers have to walk two blocks to transfer. Spending this number of service hours on the C/D split, to solve that other problem? Really hard to grasp.

        And never mind how that new plaza that closed off Westlake between Stewart and Olive and has substantially reduced the throughput of that same corridor for transit was supposed to help with this issue. It didn’t.

        You make a good argument regarding buses running through downtown. I’m willing to think a little bit more about it, and what the implications of that would be. I don’t think we are that far off on this but we also have to deal with the reality that the “natural” route doesn’t always allow for that (who else remembers when route 6 – Aurora Ave Local – used to turn back at Union Street after 7PM to save the trip time to the stadiums and back – the daytime layover?).

        Anadakos – I’m not quite sure I am in agreement with your analysis. To my eyes (and they are a little dated, as I’ve been living *out of town* for the last year, but return frequently and will return permanently hopefully in the spring), the need for service in SLU is to/from the north.

        As in, the 5, 26/28, 40, and 70 bring carry huge numbers of commuters to/from North Seattle neighborhoods to SLU employment centers.

        Going the other way, to/from downtown, is a bit less busy. And the SLUT, even in peak direction, remains underutilized.

        I will say it again, rather than give up on the investments we’ve made that don’t seem to be working, how about a multi-agency targeted approach to resolve their issues, rather than throwing a whole bunch of new money at a problem, while allowing the old investment to continue to run with the same problems?

        The opportunity cost of the split is huge, and I still haven’t seen an absolutely convincing argument why this needs to be this way.

      5. K H,

        No objection here about the north end buses that pass through — or really, except the 70 and 40 along the edge — of SLU. They’re great. But I believe that the low utilization on the trolley has more to do with its wimpy service standards than lack of intrinsic demand. Remember that when Zach proposed the Fairvew Corridor idea a couple of weeks ago a couple of posters talked about the long double line of cars waiting to turn right off Fairview onto the Mercer on ramp. The longer line was in the right lane which serves the southbound ramp.

        I expect that there is a large volume of potential choice riders in SLU who would jump at the chance to take bus service which gets them through downtown and out into South Lake Union rapidly and reliably, in its own almost exclusive right of way.

        Now how many of those folks live in West Seattle is not clear so without some sort of extension from a southeast line, it certainly won’t be a cure all. But the area has huge latent demand for good transit, and it’s going to get bigger quickly.

        Do the Fairview proposal for the peak hours, yes. But remember that nearly 15,000 new living units are going in along Westlake in the coming years. You simply can’t serve that demand with just the streetcar. Those folks are going to want to go other places than Westlake Plaza.

      6. “the low utilization on the trolley has more to do with its wimpy service standards than lack of intrinsic demand”

        There are two fundamental problems with the streetcar. The line is too short, and it’s too slow. If you get off Link (or a tunnel bus, a Pike/Pine bus, or a 3rd Avenue bus), you walk at least two blocks to the streetcar station, wait 5-15 minutes, and it will take you maximum 15 blocks (12 minutes). During the ride it stops every two blocks at stations (should be five blocks), and every single block at traffic lights (should be two lights: Denny and Mercer).

        The CCC proposes to extend it west five blocks to 1st, then south twelve blocks, then east to join the First Hill Streetcar. That will be minimally productive because it’s longer, and a few people will want to go from 1st Avenue to Westlake Hub or SLU, but its circuitous route will not be as effective as a straight north-south route.

        Or we could extend it northward to replace the 70, and/or northwestward to replace the 40 (to Fremont or Market Street). That would make it more useful as a real transit route that actually goes somewhere rather than just a 15-block shuttle. But the speed would be absolutely unacceptable, so they would have to upgrade the SLU segment, with transit lanes and signal priority. (The signal priority supposedly exists, but for some reason it’s turned off.) That’s what they should have done in the first place. To be worth its cost, a streetcar has to provide better mobility than a trolleybus or diesel bus. This one doesn’t; in fact it’s worse than a bus, it’s like a Model-T. That may be OK for a tourist attraction on the waterfront, but it’s not effective transit.

        Buses are inexpensive; Link provides express-level speed. Streetcars are the worst of both worlds, at least at Seattle’s and Portland’s level of service. A true streetcar should be like MAX; what we call surface light rail. That’s what the effective streetcar lines in Europe are like.

        The other problem with the SLUT and FLUT is their location: they aren’t where the most critical transit holes are. SLU already has the 40 and 70. Lower Broadway is a minor hole, and Broadway-Jackson is a new connection that never existed, but it’s still a minor benefit. A more effective streetcar would have gone Jackson-Rainier or Broadway-Rainier. That could replace the 7 or 9 (to Mt Baker).

        So I don’t think we should throw good money after bad and extend the SLUT or FLUT or connect them. We should focus on the most critical transit needs, and use trolleybuses or buses or light rail. Let the SLUT and FLUT fossilize as a warning not to make those mistakes again. But if the city builds the CCC anyway, it will be a benefit even if a minor benefit, so we should accept it as part of the transit system.

      7. “You mention an unmet transit need where “thousands” will be unable to get on buses because they are too full. I tend to agree that that is the trajectory we are on….
        The Prop 1 money going to the C/D split would go along ways to mitigating that unmet need.”

        But it does do that. The need is more high-volume north-south buses downtown. The C and D will be more high-volume buses. Attaching the extra downtown runs to the C is the same as attaching them to any other route.

        The mid-term capacity issue is that even with the DSTT full and DSTT2 full and 3rd Avenue with wall-to-wall buses, there still won’t be enough room for all the passengers. But the C/D split doesn’t make it worse, because some bus will have to make those extra runs anyway, and it’s better for the C to do it than; e.g., the 131 or 7. It’s better for a RapidRide route to crowd out a non-RapidRide route than the other way around. Especially if the RapidRide routes go all the way from Mercer Street to Pioneer Square, as all three of them will.

      8. A few things here:

        First I’m curious where exactly the service hours to split the C/D are being spent. Is this just the cost to split two very frequent routes, or are the downtown tails in SLU and Pioneer Square unusually costly?

        Second from an operational standpoint splitting the routes is the right thing to do. There is a reason Metro has done a number of route splits over the years and has further ones on its radar in spite of the service hour cost. Splits improve reliability and reduce bus bunching. I seem to recall d.p. Was very much in favor of spending the service hours to split the C/D among other routes.

        As to the streetcars, I’m pretty sure d.p. would advocate pulling up the tracks, selling off the cars, and using the operating funds to provide bus service where it is actually needed.

        From my perspective I don’t see the CCC as being a waste of money. The project will include improvements to the entire SLUT line and to the FHSC on Jackson. It will provide connections between the Westlake, Coleman Dock, and King Street transit hubs. Indeed the studies show a huge improvement in ridership to the existing streetcar lines, especially for the SLUT, because it extends the lines further into downtown and connects SLU to the ferries and King street.

      9. The cost is the service hours for the overlapping segment, new service to lower downtown and Pioneer Square (which takes longer than just zipping down the viaduct, so more costly), and twice as many layovers (when the driver is just sitting there).

        Splitting long routes is important when they’re unreliable.

      10. … Splitting long routes is important when they’re unreliable because any delays get magnified along the entire route, whereas with two routes the delays are isolated and don’t magnify. But sensible through-routing also has its place, and is the opposite of splitting. I used to hate through-routes and their arbitrary pairings, but now I think it’s useful to have a route that continues north-south through downtown, or that turns at an L when it reaches a barrier. Those routes end up facilitating more trips than you realize at first.

        The purpose of the C/D split is not so much for reliability, but to get additional service into SLU and Pioneer Square, and the benefit of going all the way through downtown. That will help downtown circulation, Ballardites going to the government district and Pioneer Square or Sounder, and West Seattlites going to SLU. It creates that Y shape we’ve talked about for a tunnel, where if you’re going north on RapidRide it will take you to either Belltown or SLU, and if it’s going to the wrong one you can transfer to another RapidRide.

    4. “The ultra-frequent service along 3rd Avenue will (A) allow future consolidation of downtown north-south routes if Metro decides to (there’s an argument that too many routes go through downtown, a legacy of the old milk-run network)”

      In case that sounds like a contradiction (too many routes downtown, and then adding a route), what I mean is that RapidRide is the kind of downtown circulation you want: guaranteed frequent, off-board payment, better doors, as well as connecting to other districts. So it makes sense to target RapidRide for the majority of north-south circulation, rather than the spaghetti of less-frequent routes. If Metro decides to expand RapidRide on the 40, 120, and 66 (Roosevelt BRT), that would provide even more capacity that could replace other buses on 3rd, and perhaps allow them to divert to downtown-adjacent corridors like Boren, Broadway, and 12th.

      1. The trolleybus network should not be immune to reorganizations. The existing trolley routes are from those legacy milk runs. I like Metro’s idea to consolidate the 4S into the 3S, the 2N into the 13, and the 3N/4N to the SPU terminus. The 12 is an abomination; it should remain on Madison to 23rd so you can transfer to the 48. A few people on 19th want to go to western Madison, but more want to go to Pike/Pine. The 49 is grid-incorrect. The 43 I used to dislike because it’s also grid-incorrect, but it does connect all of Capitol Hill’s activity centers together, so I would have liked to see it kept instead of the 49.

        I have also toyed with the idea of a Queen Anne loop: a route from Seattle Center West going on the 1 to Kinnear, 2 to QA/McGraw, 3 to Seattle Center East and back to Seattle Center West. That would dovetail nicely with an Uptown subway station and a 13 shuttle (possibly to the zoo).

        I don’t want to see several of the trolley routes diselized, but I don’t want them fossilized either. We have to keep moving toward consolidated frequent corridors, and the trolley routes should not be exempt from that. I’m not suggesting specific routes with this; just the general principle. I’ll leave it to Metro’s wise planners to suggest specific routes.

      2. Mike,

        Thank you for you post on the trolley fleet and the fact that it should not be immune from change. I think you’ve hit on the the problem with the Capitol Hill restructure and that is the unwillingness of Metro to touch the 10, 12 and 49. The only thing they’re doing is dropping the 43 which I agree is not a smart move.

        You can’t keep part of the system as is and change the rest to work around existing trolleys! I know it requites capital expenditures to put up wires, but isn’t that what we’re doing with the BRT corridors?

        BTW, I did suggest to Metro that the 12 go to 23rd, but they said NO since they couldn’t move the wires. Having the 12 to to 23 via East John would have mad the current 11 restructure so much better. I sure wish I had the influence on Metro that some are giving me credit for!

      3. The city is funding the BRT corridors, and there’s no word yet on whether it’ll include new service hours or Metro will have to take it from existing routes.

        Moving more than a few blocks of trolley wire is a capital project, especially if the receiving street is not ready to wire (no existing hooks). Metro has no money for that, and any money it does have has to be spread equitably around the county. The cost is probably too much for just “east Seattle’s share of excess pocket change”. So the city would have to fund it via Move Seattle or a Prop 1-like effort, or as part of a county expansion measure. The last county expansion measure (i.e., cut rollback) failed.

  13. I have to agree with Councilman Dembowski idea about postponing the changes until after Light Rail goes in. Metro earlier this year tried to sell the restructure on three principals.

    1. Remove duplication, but what is putting the 8 and 11 on East Madison?
    2. Get the buses to the Broadway & John Light Rail station, so they get the 11 there, but how about the 2, 9, 12, 48 and 60? Doing this makes it near impossible the senior/handicapped that need the 11 to go between 19th Ave East and Broadway and East Pine?
    3. Improve performance, well the 8, 11 and 12 are among the most unreliable routes today. So what is with the added time which Metro admits too on the 8 and 11? In fact the 11 will get caught in the Denny mess since it will be on Olive.

    Just look at the Metro’s flip flop, in June they proposed putting the 8/11 on East John/Thomas and now they propose putting them on East Madison. So is their next proposal going to be putting them on East Union? The current proposal has too many gaps in service like on East John between 19th and 23rd Ave East and on East Pine to Bellevue Ave.

    What gives with using the service hours from the elimination of the 43 to improve frequency on the 8 and 11? Seattle approved Prop One for that, so why are we paying extra sales taxes for less service to where people need to go.

    Yes, thank you Councilman Dembowski for speaking up and I how other councilman will listen to him? Let’s review the situation after LR opens up and the existing Prop One funding changes are implemented.

    1. No, let’s not hold northeast Seattle riders hostage to Reg’s proposals du jour. Metro has bent over backwards for Reg, only to have him oppose every proposal offered, including those based on his suggestions.

      1. Brent,

        I’m not holding NE Seattle hostage, not should you hold Capitol Hill buses hostage for you wishes. Metro has not bent over for me nor for Councilman Dembowski who I agree with!

        If you’ve noticed, I’m not the only one opposing proposals from Metro that don’t work and that riders of the 8, 11 and 43 see problems in this current proposal. I suggested a simple fix putting the 8 back on John/Thomas and running the 11 west to at least 12th or 15 and then going north!

      2. You’ve played a large role in wrecking the Capitol Hill restructure, and at this point I really don’t care much any more about that part of the restructure. I’m not holding Capitol Hill buses hostage to my wishes. You are. On top of that, you are trying to hold the northeast Seattle restructure hostage as well, for reasons you don’t seem willing to state, besides your unhappiness that Metro didn’t do exactly what you asked them to with route 11, which has nothing to do with the northeast restructure.

      3. Brent, how do you think Reg wrecked the Capitol Hill restructure? You could say he threatened to, but the only change I’d call an unalloyed negative is the removal of the 49-Madison – and I’d hardly blame that on Reg.

      4. The effort to keep route 11 on Madison to downtown pushed the 49 Madison proposal aside. Every route 11 change was an effort to placate Reg, but never successfully. Now, thanks to him, we have a big hole on John, which even he agrees doesn’t make sense.

        Nor is Reg’s threatening in the past tense. I’m willing to accept the Capitol Hill restructure, even with further messing up at Reg’s suggestion, to get the northeast restructure passed. Reg isn’t willing to allow the northeast restructure to pass, even though he can’t point to anything wrong with it.

      5. Lets get the straight, I have only one interest and that is the Capitol Hill restructure and NO interest at all in your Northeast restructure! This is a fantasy on your and BTW, thanks for giving me so much credit for being able to control Metro. I sure wish they would listen to your needs in NE Seattle and mine in Capitol Hill.

        Yes, I support whatever your want for NE Seattle, okay?

      6. Glad to hear it, Reg. But, then, what do you mean by “I have to agree with Councilman Dembowski idea about postponing the changes until after Light Rail goes in” – do you only agree with him about the Capitol Hill changes? If so, that’s a very important difference; please clarify next time.

      7. William,

        I posted what the Councilman suggested several months ago and it was only for Capitol Hill. Capitol Hill is my only interest and that involves the 8, 11, 12 and 48 that service the Madison Corridor. Hope this clarifies my position and thank you for asking for the clarification.

        Yes, I’ve had some influence on Metro, but I think I’m being given too much credit, but I will take credit for getting the 11 up to 19th versus 24th Ave East.

        I think you seen my simple suggestions to fix the current routing of the 8 and 11 and if needed I will repeat it. As far as I can see it there are two options fix it or wait as the Councilman has suggested for CAPITOL HILL only.

      8. It’s not clear that Dembrowski’s position is based on the 11 or the Capitol Hill controversy in general. It’s just a simple, “Why change the existing network?” So, Reg N, I would not call Dembrowsi an “ally”, but maybe just a case where your interests happen to coincide for now. (And yes, acknowledged that you don’t oppose the northeast Seattle restructure. But Dembrowski’s position endangers that too.)

      9. It bears reminding CM Dembowski that a lot of the money he is trying to control is *not* the county’s money. If he wants to delay route changes, he’ll have to argue that with SDOT.

  14. “The lede, that Seattle rep Dembowski is signaling that he is considering holding up the U-Link restructure for at least another year, is really buried.”

    “If the will of the county council is really for nothing to happen, why did they agree to spend the money on the meetings and staff time to plan the restructure in the first place?”

    It’s premature to predict failure. One out of nine councilmembers expressed reservations during a preliminary hearing. That’s 11% of the council, not a majority. Dembrowski has always been more of a status-quo advocate and resistant to reorganizations than most of the members. The council as a whole used to micromanage reorganizations, by vetoing one route that a few people complained about, which pulled service hours from planned frequency improvements. But the council has not really done this since 2012, when it made the grand bargain for the 2-year recession reprieve and ending the ride free area. Since then it has mostly approved Metro’s proposals in full, and its only demand is that Metro follow its new performance metrics (which are mostly ridership but some coverage). I think the 42 fiasco was the last whimper of micromanaging, and the recession made the council realize it could no longer afford to prop up inefficiencies. Since then most of the rollbacks have been by Metro itself; i.e., self-censorship in what it proposes and what it withdraws in the early rounds before the proposal reaches the council.

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