Twitter Screengrab of #Listen2Mercer-01Last Thursday at the Mercer Island Community Center, Sound Transit held a Listening Tour to give residents a chance to comment on just about anything related to the East Link project. The open-mic night was well attended with an estimated 200 residents, from which 35 speakers were allotted 3 minutes each to speak. The meeting was attended by many Sound Transit staff, Bellevue Mayor (and County Council candidate) Claudia Balducci, WSDOT Secretary Lynn Peterson, and many Mercer Island council and mayoral candidates.

The tone of the conversation was one of polite exasperation, seasoned with occasional bursts of anger or bewilderment. Many commenters came prepared with talking points loosely organized around a list of special accommodations for Mercer Island residents proposed by the Vision Mercer Island group, namely:

  • Permanent SOV access to HOV lanes
  • Permanent exemption from I-90 tolling
  • Resident-only parking at the Link Station
  • Complete abandonment bus transfers on Mercer Island
  • Dedicated and guaranteed seats for Islanders on Metro and Sound Transit buses

Each of these 5 privileges would be completely unique to Mercer Island. Despite this, if you followed the #listen2mercer hashtag you saw that speakers overwhelmingly felt that this was the least Sound Transit could do on their behalf. Comments were overwhelmingly negative about Sound Transit, about parking, and about any type of bus facility being built.

From urbanist, transit, land use, and social justice viewpoints, the conversation was very disappointing. In asking for resident-only parking at the Park & Ride, they are asking for an unprecedented appropriation of public space for the private use of the most privileged. In asking for untolled SOV use of HOV lanes, they are asking for a privilege no one else in the state enjoys. In asking to abandon the idea of bus transfers on Mercer Island, they are asking to pay for their aesthetic preferences with other commuters’ time and money.

Two doctors used that day’s crash on Aurora to stress their need to get on and off island quickly, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they were asking government to grant them special rights on account of their choice to separate themselves from their patients by a large body of water.

Perhaps most egregious, the consistent “othering “of nonresidents – to dust off a grad school phrase – was both offensive and provincial. One commenter called on Sound Transit and other “off-Islanders” not to be “pigeons that just come here, drop your s__, and leave.”

All of this fundamentally misunderstands the general access mandate under which public facilities operate. No one at South Bellevue Park & Ride scans license plates to root out those “moochers from Somerset” claiming “their” parking. Most people understand that people have a basic right to move freely on our transit and highways. All other transit facilities exist for the general benefit of any regional transit traveler, including Mercer Island residents who use other facilities regionwide.

And whether restricted or not, parking is not the answer, as parking is a niche product that fundamentally cannot scale. The current Mercer Island Park & Ride has 447 spaces, less than the capacity of a single 3-car Link train. Mercer Island and Sound Transit could spend $50m to build to build an enormous 2,500 space facility – larger than Tacoma Dome Station ­– and it would still only fill 5 trains, less than an hour’s worth of Link service.

Fast, frequent bus service is the answer to connect to Link, both for Islanders and for the entire I-90 corridor. That means a big boost in frequency on Route 204 and Island Crest Way, ideally with timed Link connections. It also means a large, well-designed transfer facility for the I-90 corridor buses. Continuing peak bus service into Seattle on I-90 after 2023 would effectively be taking bus service away from others, a purposeful waste of taxpayer resources. Any diversion of buses to South Bellevue or Downtown Bellevue would directly trade Mercer Island’s aesthetic preferences for the time and money of those in Issaquah and Renton.

As for process, it’s very early. We are still 8 years out from East Link service, with plenty of time to design an excellent bus transfer facility that seamlessly integrates our transit systems and mitigates Islanders’ concerns while exponentially increasing their access to transit. But judging from the listening tour meeting, it will be a steep uphill climb to achieve good transit outcomes.

150 Replies to “Dear Mercer Island: Public Space is for Public Use”

  1. I gotta be careful here, some of a relative’s bosses live on Mercer Island but great work Zach. Some people have outsize expectations of transit…………….

    Sort of like how – if I may post an analogy – a certain county expects a special state grant to link its two halves every two years. Perhaps if Camano Island were to leave said county, it would be best ;-).

    Public space is for public use. I’ll stop there.

  2. The Reality Distortion Field is strong among the Islanders. I sure wish designing transit infrastructure granted me some sort of personal spot on any bus or train, ahead of the mere users and commoners. Shoot, I don’t even have the privilege of getting anything I don’t deserve for free (/s). Not even a beautifully landscaped freeway going though Wallingford with an ENORMOUS state and federal taxpayer-funded park on top of it. Darn shame ST doesn’t simply step up to the plate, stop wasting time and money, then shove it down their throats.

  3. So, some of the most wealthy land owners in the state demand more priviledge, refer to outsiders as lesser beings and as people taking “their” space.

    Classic NIMBY.

    Disappointed, disgusted? Sure. Surprised? Not one bit unfortunately.

    1. Seriously. With Clibborn as their representative I’m shocked that she didn’t demand that state contributions to ST be tied to adding first class cars to the trains for MI residents only and free valet parking at the park and ride.

      She already blocked tolls on I-90 and took funding out of Connecting Washington so why are residents still concerned with the prospect of tolling?

      1. But Clibborn did stand up to residents somewhat at a recent meeting, noting that their 1976 agreement for special use of the express lanes was “never intended to be in perpetuity.”

    2. If it were a classic NIMBY, there wouldn’t be an I-90 to downtown. HOV access is a contractual obligation dating back to when i-90 was built. The only thing MI residents are demanding is that WSDOT honor an existing contract.

      Your statements are so silly. “Social Justice”, what a clown. People use that phrase then jump in their car, or eat at their restaurants, or get starbucks everyday. If you are really interested in SJ, then you should give all your money that you don’t need to live a bare minimum life to the poor. Until you fake SJWs do that, you are just hypocrites.

      1. No one else in this state demanded special access privileges to have a freeway built through their community. Many homes were torn down in Seattle to create the freeway that everyone uses.

        I am not a big fan of freeways personally, and I would not have shed a tear if I-90 had never been built. If the freeway merely went around the lake, or never crossed Mercer Island (like 520) then would anyone on either side would have noticed. The folks who benefit most from the existence of I-90 crossing on Mercer Island are not those who live in Seattle or Bellevue. They have other routes they can take.

        Those who benefit most are the folks who live on Mercer Island itself.

        If you continue to insist that you require special privileges to allow state roads to enter your city, then perhaps we ought to move I-90 elsewhere next time (or tear it down completely) and restore Mercer Island to ferry access to the rest of the state… the same as just about every other island around here.

      2. Joe is correct – the state guaranteed to MI traffic the right to SOV use of all the HOV lanes between the Seattle waterfront and 405/downtown Bellevue. WSDOT has already failed to honor that contractual obligation, and MI residents want it honored.

      3. As Clibborn apparently pointed out to them, I’ve never seen any indication that the access to HOV lanes was to be given in perpetuity… And certainly not the additional benefits they’re demanding.

  4. Sure, guarantee the parking is for them by charging $100/day for it. Then surely only they can afford it, its reserved for them, and at least it does the rest of the region some good that their whiny selves don’t want.

  5. Hmmm, well, they want transit, but they want to follow different rules than everybody else? Is that what I’m understanding. Okay, I’d be willing to grant special exceptions to them provided we tax their property at a higher tax rate. That’s fair.

  6. I live on Mercer island, and boy oh boy do I hate the people who live here. this is just embarrassing at this point. Mercer Islanders think they are entitled to everything. Their mindset makes me vomit.

    1. Also, I’m far from anti transit, but I think the I-90 buses should serve South Bellevue instead. I commute on the bus regularly to Renton, and I wish (especially during late evenings, when the 560 and 550 are timed terribly, and the frequency of both routes are down) that the 554 served south Bellevue on its way to Eastgate. Currently a connection to the 405 buses from I-90(east of 405) is lacking.

    2. Link will free up a lot of service hours for Eastside transit. That means more frequent service from South Bellevue to Eastgate and Renton, among other things. It will affect Metro more than ST, because the money that’s going to the 550 will go to Link, but there’s still capacity for improvement. Also, Metro may do an Eastside restructure next year, which would create more frequent corridors.

    3. This is a very important point. We shouldn’t assume that just because a handful of people attend a meeting and speak out on a subject, that means that everyone feels that way. The vast majority of people in Mercer Island didn’t attend the meeting or didn’t send any comments. They may feel exactly the way you do. They may be thrilled with the prospect of more bus service. Or they might not care about any of it. The train is coming, and once it gets here, they will figure out how to get to it. My guess is the vast majority feel that way (this is typical for most issues).

      1. It appears that we will have a pretty good idea where the majority stands after the November election. Or at least the majority of those that actually matter (i.e., those that vote).

  7. Breathtaking. It’s the shamelessness of it that really floors me. The greater economic inequality becomes, the more difficult it is for the wealthy to feel any sort of shame at all.

      1. Screw em.
        Exempt them from ST taxes and skip transit to/on MI entirely.
        Would save much time for those traveling thru the choke point .

  8. The intellectual dishonesty and staggering inconsistency of so many of the meeting speakers is next level. Have to give them props for that, at least. They are good at something.

    I-90 is both horrible and essential. My choice to live on an island is your problem. Buses reduce sustainability. Driverless cars don’t create traffic. I am rich, but don’t charge me for parking. Keep outsiders off our island, but we should be able to go anywhere. Other people should pay for my bridge. Park and rides should not require you to actually ride. You might die because I live far away.

    Fair enough. Turnabout is fair play. Remind me where the MI sewer treatment plant is?

    1. To be fair, not everyone on Mercer Island is rich…

      I have gone toe to toe with some of the most fanatically confident Mercer Islanders you will ever meet in terms of this link light rail design.

      I simply do not understand how someone with absolutely ZERO prior experience with engineering or city planning could be THAT SURE transit across the Island is such a bad idea…

      1. I also love the various “driverless cars/automated buses/Uber” makes light rail obsolete arguments. And the “nobody has ever put rail across a floating bridge oh noes!” people who fail to realize that there are maybe a dozen significant floating bridges in the world, 4 of which are in this state, so of course nobody has tried it; nobody has had the opportunity.

      2. well, and the fact that a railroad successfully ran across the Mississippi on a floating bridge in Iowa from 1874-1961.

        Here’s a reasonably technical report from Parsons Brinkerhoff (consulting engineers) on the design and testing for the I-90 bridge light rail solution. They feel that under normal conditions the solution to the expansion joint issue will allow for service at full operating speed.

      3. The driverless cars comment made me laugh.

        At one end you have crazy island residents saying the bridge will sink because the engineering has not been proven.

        On another forum, an Islander stated the above and said we should switch to automated buses to fix our transit problems. I, very troll like, challenged them to cite a major city that has entirely self driving automated buses (to mirror their notion that no other floating bridge has a train on it)… their source was a college in like Sweden or Denmark that is currently testing tiny battery powered buses for local transit.

        Good grief!

      4. Algoma Central Railroad still has floating bridges, over which they run full blown freight and passengers trains.

        So obviously something that weighs a fraction of that can’t possibly work.

      5. The whole floating bridge thing is really a non-issue because the lake is held at an artificial level by manipulation at the locks. Look at the water line in the Montlake Cut; there’s no “bathtub ring” because the water is at a constant level about 17 feet above MSL. The lake varies around that a foot or two. It’s a non issue.

        Now if this were the Hood Canal Bridge there might be some difficulty making rails work. But even there a pair of “points” sliding along a spring loaded running rail can absorb the relatively small difference in length of the rails on the transition bridge.

  9. Of course they want all they can get. Human Nature, and all that. But they have one point in their favor. They built the first bridge across Lake Washington on Mercer Island taxpayer’s dime, and gave the right of way to the Feds to build I-90. That should count for something in the negotiations.

    Former Islander

    1. Gave the right of way? What, like how in Seattle we also “gave” the right of way for the rest of the freeway system? Mercer Island has the advantage of being an island, well defined and unavoidable. But they are blackmailers in essence, they successfully extracted concessions for I-90 that no other bit of state geography was able to extract and delayed the completion of the project (and escalated the public cost) for years to do so. Feed rats and what do you get? More rats.

    2. Mercer Island taxpayer’s dime?

      There were 1200 residents on Mercer Island at the time the bridge opened in 1940.

      The driving force for having the bridge built at all was a Mercer Islander; most people in the county lived in Seattle at that time and most of those were likely unconcerned as to whether there was a bridge or not.

    3. It was highway 10, and some politician or planner argued that the Snoqualmie Pass highway should go through Lake Washington rather than around it because of straightness or flatness or something. It wasn’t an Islander project.

      1. It wasn’t an “Islander” project, of course, but the driving force in getting the thing built (first proposed by engineer Homer Hadley) was an island pioneer named George Lightfoot.

  10. Let’s just skip the Mercer Island station for now, and build the rest of the system quick. Then watch as this whiney entitled group of elitist NIMBYs come back later and beg for a station. Disgusting

      1. Access to South Bellevue is slower/less reliable than the MI direct access ramps, so it might not save service hours.

    1. They will never beg for a station: They seriously fear and abhor the idea of the rabble having access to their Island “bubble” via public transportation.

      1. That is so far from the truth it is difficult to even dignify that with an answer. The general objections heard range from arguments about capacity (buses can move more people) to cost (East Link is too expensive) to privilege (keep the Center Roadway for Mercer Islanders!). I have not heard anybody talking about the “rabble” or anything remotely similar.

      2. Actually, I have heard that very conversation. People I know have “jokingly” suggested putting up the Great Wall of China to keep those people out. Also suggesting that you must be an MI resident to even get off on the Island.

  11. It’s interesting (and telling) that Mercer Islanders don’t care at all that making MI a bus transit hub gives them excellent transit connections to everywhere on the I-90 corridor.

    1. I’m pretty sure that most MI residents don’t want to take the bus and prefer to drive based on their HOV lane request. Maybe only a few more would even consider taking Link?

      At what point does ST just say screw it and can the station there.

    2. Martin, I am probably the only person who takes the bus on Mercer island (lol), aside from maybe those who take peak express buses to work into Seattle and high school students before getting their license, or those who perform blue collar jobs on the island and live elsewhere. The concensus here, is buses are for very poor people, and trains are for sorta poor people. And 90% of people are uppity people who will refuse to use such options even when it’s superior. (And then they come back from travelling in Europe or China and ask why we can’t have nice trains…)

      1. Over the past year I’ve defended Islanders from people who hold unreasonable assumptions and/or snarky remarks, sourced from fairly obvious envy and/or annoyance, as well as from people with a clear lack of understanding of the geographical area sound transit would like to develop their facilities within (IE downtown Mercer Island).

        That being said, there are some TRUE SCUM on Mercer Island. This isn’t me being “enlightened” after the meeting, per say, but I’ve always found that reasonable islanders are the LOUDER group when dealing with social/political/city planning type debates. I am frankly astonished that the minority opinion on the Island was able to take over the mic during the meeting and dictate the perceptions that me and many other islanders are trying to diminish.

        I do disagree with you about Mercer Islander transit use, though. I recently moved to the Island from Wallingford, but have been in/around the island for the past 30 years (family, friends, business, etc…). That park and ride is packed, all day, every day (Mon-Fri 100%), with loooooooooong lines to get on the 550/554/216. I am frequently late to work because busses either do not stop (because they are full), or they can only take so many (which is why I am excited about light rail).

        Many islanders do you use the bus/transit, and no… 90% are not uppity.

      2. CPtheCoug – agreed. I still hold the opinion that the current blowup is more smoke than fire, coming from a vocal minority. We’ll find out if that’s really true with the City Council elections I guess.

        I get around the parking issue by living within walking distance of the park and ride, but that puts me in the minority. I have a reverse commute (to Redmond) so I don’t generally experience packed buses, but my wife and sister in law commute to downtown Seattle and are all too familiar with how crushed the buses get during peak. We’re all really looking forward to light rail, me because it’ll cut my commute in half and them because it’ll be a far better experience than the bus.

      3. CPtheCoug, you’re right, I’m sorry that my statements were over exaggerations at best and inaccurate at worst. It’s just hard to keep my head cool when I see people who believe wealth and posestions automatically entitles them to more, and some Mercer island residents live by such mind sets.
        But you’re right.

      4. paraphrase from earlier: a disportionate amount of an I90 toll would go to benefit 520, not MI residents

        This is the mindset I have heard from different areas: people in renton don’t want to pay for people on the islands. MI people dont want to pay for fixing 520.

        These mindsets will prevent efficient regional and LOCAL transportation..what happens a few miles away is also in one’s back yard. What is needed is strong leadership to say what is going to be done in all our backyards, else money is being wasted playing “whac-a-mole”.

      5. @ TG and CP — Exactly. I said as much:

        Don’t assume that a passionate group represents the majority. Just ask President Ron Paul or President Dennis Kucinich.

        If you are basically OK with the changes, my guess is you wouldn’t bother with attending the meeting. If you don’t care that much, you wouldn’t bother with the meeting. But if the idea of extra buses coming into your town freaks you out, then you will attend, get your kids to attend, make big signs and create a ruckus. Nothing wrong with that (Democracy in action) but lets not assume that a loud minority speaks for the majority.

    3. 554 ridership from Mercer Island was about 150 boardings per day per the 2014 SIP, so I’m not surprised nobody has mentioned this. The demand for transit to markets in the I-90 corridor from Mercer Island appears to be nearly non-existent.

      1. most of those are probably Bellevue College students that are just going one stop over to Eastgate flyer stop

      2. I used to live on MI and. like CPtheCoug, could not find parking and often waited for at least 2 buses before I could get on. So instead of a 15 minute commute, my solution was to walk 1.5 miles each way, wait 30+ minutes for a seat to ride into Seattle. As a result, I would drive instead as it SIGNIFICANTLY cut my commute time. This is not an elitist view from MI, it is the reality of our public transit system. I had the same reaction commuting from Seattle to Factoria before I lived on the island. I will take a 20 minute drive over a 45+ minute bus commute any day. So realize that the number of actual riders is not a true representation of who would ride if it was available to them. Yes, the “bus transit hub gives them excellent transit connections to everywhere on the I-90 corridor” but if you can’t use it, who cares?

        I agree that the way the few MI residents highlighted here sounds elitist but I believe it is a personalized expression of what MI residents face:

        1. Tolling on I90/SOV in HOV: they are in a very unique situation—they cannot get in or out of their town in either direction without using I90. A study I read projected a dis-proportionate portion of the revenue from the toll would come from MI residents, yet the funds would go to fix 520. For those who do not live on MI, I do not think you can appreciate that they would not be able to go about their day (go to work, meet up with friends, attend college, watch your kids’ sports games, etc.) without paying the toll multiple times. Should you have to pay $5 – $10 each time you wanted to watch your kid play football? Remember, not all MI residents are rich and this “toll/tax” would hurt many people. It would have cost my household almost $3K per year – and we do not commute every day!

        2. Wanting to restrict parking/provide guaranteed seats. All they are asking for is some allowance to actually be able to use the structure/system that is built in their neighborhood. It is not an “off-islanders are scum” view, but rather expressing frustration that they cannot use the facility/system. Maybe a toll from Bellevue to MI would reduce the number of people who want to park as close to Seattle as possible without paying!

        Yes, it is public land but it is MI’s public land and they should have some say in how it is used. Any other town, facing similar issues, would be fighting hard to make the space usable for their residents. Note that few are saying NOT to build it, they just want to be able to use it! And if they can’t, don’t take make their other option unfairly expensive.

        Finally, I am disappointed by all the nasty comments generated here. Every town has entitled a-holes but the community as a whole is not like that. People here went very quickly to “MI residents are elitist scum”. Before jumping on the bandwagon, seek to understand their POV and you may have a more fair view of people.

      3. Thanks for your comments. In the article itself I tried very hard to use words like ‘disappointing’ instead of something harsher, didn’t name any names, and stuck very closely to what was actually said at the meeting. I support much better bus service on the island, both now and after Link, but parking at the Link station will always be of only marginal use to Islanders for the reasons mentioned in the article. Residents should accept and look forward to a redesigned bus facility that would make real access possible, but the unanimous sentiment at the meeting felt otherwise.

      4. @SMP – thanks for your comments. About I-90 Tolls and HOV access – we have the same circumstances as Bellevue, Issaquah, etc: we need to cross the floating bridge to get to Seattle. We don’t have special express lane access to the Eastside now, and that’s not what MI folks are upset about. Its about getting to Seattle. So, no, we are NOT stuck on the island. And if tolls were introduced so that drivers paid to traverse the floating bridge but NOT the east channel bridge, that would also put us in exactly the same circumstance as Bellevue.

        We need to stop using the “stuck on the island” red herring – it’s obviously wrong and feeds the unfortunate animosity toward us.

      5. I hear this all the time about MI residents having to pay a toll to leave the island – has WSDOT really proposed toll booths on both sides of Mercer Island?

      6. The various tolling options were:
        1) Toll the floating bridge both directions
        2) Toll the East Channel Bridge both directions
        3) Toll both bridges in both directions (each bridge would be half the rate, so using SR 520 tolls as an example each bridge would be $1.95 during peak, $3.90 total toll if using both bridges)
        4) Toll both bridges when either going to or coming from the island (e.g. eastbound floating bridge and westbound East Channel Bridge – pay to get on but not to leave)

        There are other possible permutations, but those were the ones getting serious consideration. No single option rose to the top of the list because tolling got taken off the table relatively quickly; it managed to garner opposition from everyone along the I-90 corridor, especially from Mercer Island.

      7. @SMP

        1. Mercer Island has ~25,000 residents. I-90 carries 85,000 vpdpd (not sure the validity of this, found it in the comments section of the WSDOT blog). If every resident (man, woman and child) drove, about 30% of the fares would come from Mercer Island residents. We can assume that the actual percentage is far lower, probably around 10%.

        Compare this to Bainbridge Island, where close to 100% of the “toll” is burdened by residents. And I’m sure they would love to talk to you about pain that $5 to $10/day would set you back (they pay over $17/day peak season). And while there’s definitely entitlement coming out of our Puget Sound Islands, I seem to think they realize that the pleasures of living on an island cause some monetary and convenience setback and it does not compare to the entitlement I hear coming out of Mercer Island (key word here, being ‘Island’).

        2. I’m with you on this one, I would love to have guaranteed public parking and a seat on my Ballard>Downtown bus. Granted I only have to walk a few blocks to the bus, so parking isn’t necessary, but those buses can get really full from those inconsiderate Crown Hill and Loyal Heights “people”. All I’m asking for is a seat on the bus that goes through MY neighborhood.

        An even better option would be to give me a guaranteed parking spot at Denny and let me use the 15th Ave bus lanes in my SOV, to bypass a lot of the bus travel time (and of course traffic). Then I can wait for guaranteed seat on the bus to arrive for the final slog to Downtown..

    4. As I mentioned above, you can’t assume that Mercer Island residents feel a particular way just because a handful stand up in the meeting or send emails. There are 24,000 people living in Mercer Island — are you telling me that 24,000 people attended that meeting? Wow, I had no idea — must have been fairly crowded. Oh, wait, 200 people attended. That is one out of a hundred residents. My guess is not every one had a chance to speak and that a few started their statements with “I am grateful and excited about the light rail coming to Mercer island, but I have concerns about …”.

      This is no different than the HALA discussions in Seattle. Just because a lot of people whine, doesn’t mean they represent the majority (in the case of HALA, it is obvious they don’t, given the recent city council elections). The point of these meetings is to gather ideas, not to gauge public opinion. To do the opposite would be to make a huge mistake.

  12. What’s the point of building a station there without a bus transfer? I feel like ST should just bail on the whole station if they can’t get approval for the transfer station since demand from MI alone will be so low that it will further waste tax payer money.

  13. Furthermore, this tone-deaf litany of complaints isn’t even tactically smart. The clever way to get the limited access Mercer Island wants, as others have pointed out, is to push for extensive use of permit parking, set at a high enough price to leverage their superior economic resources. Of course, that would contradict their sense of free entitlement to infrastructure that all of East King County paid to build.

    1. True, but it’s difficult to fault them for learning the lesson that there’s no reason to pay for things you can get for free if you throw your weight around a bit.

    2. Agreed. They’ve dialed up the histrionics to such a level so as to invoke parody — I’m not sure anyone who isn’t directly elected by the Islanders can take these comments seriously.

      There’s also strong selection bias at work here (as it does elsewhere at public meetings): those with the strongest opposition show up in greatest numbers.

    3. You do know there are just as many rich people in Bellevue, Issaquah, Medina, etc… combined than on Mercer Island right? Raising the price of the parking permit under the false assumption that all Islanders are rich would only price someone like me out. That assumption is as ridiculous as the notion that only poor people take transit….

      Slow clap for stereotyping…

      “Economic Advantages”….. right…..

      1. It’s true that there are rich people elsewhere on the Eastside, but if the Mercer Island P&R is unusually expensive they will be highly encouraged to seek a different parking lot.

    4. It all depends on how representative the speakers are of Mercer Islanders as a whole. If we skip the station, the line would be entirely in the freeway ROW and wouldn’t impact their downtown. But twenty years after that they’d probably be kicking themselves for arguing against the station, as Georgetown did with the DC Metro.

      But, what happens to the P&R then? It could just close, and that would free up downtown real estate for whatever the islanders want. (Open space?) But if there’s no station, would there still be buses going to downtown and South Bellevue? If there are buses they’d need a P&R. And Metro wouldn’t be able to recoup the service hours from truncating the bus routes.

      1. And San Mateo County and Santa Clara County. The original BART plan in the 1950s would have gone all the way around the Bay,

      2. But Santa Clara County chose to spend the money on expressways instead. There’s an exhibit in the Diridion train station about the origins of BART and VTA light rail and the SJC airport. In the 1950s when BART was designed, Santa Clara County had only 200,000 people and hey voted BART down. In twenty years the population doubled. Early versions of the light rail were also floated then, it was described as “like bringing back the streetcars” and their pedestrian-oriented environment. I think the light rail failed a couple times before it passed. But when they did build it, it did not turn the neigborhoods back into streetcar suburbs, because the land use around it is so unwalkable.

      3. Marin County left the BART district involuntarily.

        San Mateo County left the district due to the perception that the predecessor to Caltrain was sufficient and that costs of the new lines were not worth it. As a result, Marin’s marginal tax base could not support their share of the expenses. They wanted BART, but were ultimately denied it because of their lack of population/economic strength and because of the Bay requiring very expensive crossings to connect them to SF. There was also the nimby angle in that many residents wanted their pristine suburbs protected from development. Partially due to these issues, there was a fear that Marin might vote BART down for the main vote, so the BARTD directors asked Marin County to vote themselves out.

        “There is one significant difference – (San Mateo) withdrew voluntarily,” Supervisor Peter Behr said at the time Marin withdrew in May 1962. “We are withdrawing involuntarily and upon request.” -Marin IJ

        Whether the Golden Gate Bridge could actually handle BART or not in a lower deck are still up for debate. A 1990 study said that it could after a $3bn retrofit. It’s like SF’s version of the First Hill station. Was it the engineering difficulty or the displeasure of nearby powers that be? Hard to say for sure.

      4. I see no evidence at all that the speakers were representative of Mercer Islanders as a whole.

        If Mercer Island residents passes a resolution — even a non-binding one — then you have something. If the Mercer Island city council passes a resolution, then you have something. But right now all you have is a handful of folks complaining about something or another, or asking for special privileges. Wake me up when there is real news about how most of the people in Mercer Island feel.

        The part of this that cracks me up the most: “Two doctors used that day’s crash on Aurora to stress their need to get on and off island quickly,”. Hold the presses! Two doctors want special treatment! Holy cow, if you have ever worked in health care (or know someone who does) you would realize how common this is. Not to paint with too broad a brush, but doctors asking for special treatment is like a frat boy asking for a beer. My guess is that a lot of doctors want special “Doctor Only” lanes on the freeway and city streets, followed by “Doctor Only” parking spots. They are doctors, after all — they are more important than you. Jeesh. Just roll your eyes, try not to laugh too loud and hope that no one with any sense takes any of it too seriously.

  14. This appears to be a session full of fear. Mixing I-90 tolling with station design and operational regulations seems to be pointing to some sort of general distrust of our transportation planning process.

    What can be done to ease the situation?

    First, there will always be persons that complain — and that’s who sucks up the energy at open forum meetings like this. I think ST should design future meetings that promote resolving specific issues in focus group and workshop formats. Along with this, ST should encourage more community attendance by those who are less suspicious of ST and WSDOT and more visionary at creating solutions.

    Second, there needs to be detailed and more transparent discussions about how people will get to and from the rail station. There are issues about time-of-day, feeder buses, park-and-ride users and drop-off/pick-up activity for local and out-of-town people that are not going to go away. The noise about these issues will get louder and louder unless they get quantitatively assessed by professionals who do not have a vested interest in the pleasing ST staff.

    Finally, there needs to be some sort of an operational “toolbox” available for managing any Mercer Island station area (really for any new station area) once the line opens. Nothing quiets a fear-obsessed citizen more effectively than to say “If your feared _____ occurs, we have these available operational solutions to address that.”

    If there was never any high-frequency and express transit stop here, the fears might have more merit. The circumstance is mostly switching from bus to rail — and the biggest change is probably the feeder bus restructuring once Eastlake and Issaquah buses get kicked out of the DSTT.

    1. Good idea. But I also don’t think this is too bad. Some good ideas might have been drowned out because of the noise (people might have been afraid to express their opinions) but I doubt it. The point of these meetings is to get ideas and maybe to get people to feel like they are contributing. To that extent they were probably largely successful (and their will be more meetings).

  15. To the doctors who are so worried about their patients dying because they get stuck in traffic on I-90 I say: So you are saying that living on MI and having a lavish house is more important to you that the lives of your patients. You cant buy a nice condo on first hill?

    1. I was downtown yesterday at my (new) dentists office. He made some comment about the Eastside so I asked him about his commute.

      His reply? “Great. I live downtown on Olive. I just walk over.”

      What a pity that these self important doctors can’t learn from my dentist….

      And BTW: congestion tolling on I-90 would actually speed up the trans-lake commute. So if these docs are so concerned about the speed with which they can get into Seattle, then they certainly aught to be supporters of tolling I-90. You know, for general safety….

    2. Exactly.

      The fear-mongering and use of a terrible tragedy to make a political point was reprehensible.

      I assume there were other doctors on staff at the time, as well as at other hospitals.

    3. Doesn’t the doctor’s desire to get around gridlock already have some solutions in the toolbox?

      (a) Take that snazzy new train.
      (b) HOT lanes.

  16. I live on Mercer Island, and I have to say I’m pretty disappointed with the rhetoric coming from basically everyone. This includes both the NIMBY contingent on Mercer Island and also the general regional urbanist and pro-transit voices.

    Mercer Island is disproportionately affected by geography. While it is true that cross-lake travel suffers from geography due to the limited number of crossings, Mercer Island is even more constrained due to the only access points being on the north end of the island. That these access points are the same constrained lake crossings everyone else has to deal with is true, but somewhat beside the point. To use Zach’s example, the Somerset driver parking at South Bellevue has multiple options along their route to wherever they’re going to ride transit and/or generally get to where they’re going. Mercer Island does not have that; the option is access at the current park and ride, or nothing. As a consequence, any trip that cannot be captured by transit by the time it reaches the north end is a trip not taken on transit because the person drives or doesn’t take the trip. Is this a result of people’s choice to live where they do? Absolutely. But it doesn’t absolve us (as a region) of the responsibility to try and provide those people access to the regional transit system, same as we try to do the same for other communities.

    As Zach correctly identified, this points to a need for vastly better on-island bus service; the 204 is coverage service (60-minute headways from 6am to 7pm), and the new 630 only serves the peak commuter market to Seattle. However, some kind of accomodation for parking is almost certainly going to be necessary merely to provide access because Mercer Island’s built environment is simply not conducive to ensuring the entire island has good transit access. The only real density is around the Town Center area, which is all mostly within walking distance of the future Link station. The reason the 204 is coverage-level service is because previous routes which provided much better coverage and connectivity all got consolidated due to extremely low ridership. This isn’t surprising considering they served low density areas with poor street and non-motorized connectivity due to the built form and geographic constraints.

    I’ve long argued with my neighbors that they’re barking up the wrong tree on Mercer Island-only parking. Sound Transit can’t turn over the existing park and ride, and they can’t restrict the use to just Mercer Island residents anyway. Even if you want Sound Transit to build new parking and turn it over to the city (so the city can restrict it), there isn’t a good place to build a new one, and the city is kind of broke and may not be able to maintain a parking garage. The best bet is permit parking and connecting bus service with smaller peripheral lots elsewhere on the island. There’s a big parking lot at the south end shopping center, for example, and several churches with plenty of parking available during the day.

    As for the bus integration stuff, I’m in favor despite my close proximity to the park and ride (I live within 200 yards). While the early concepts had a variety of problems, I thought the last option presented was probably workable, but then the whole concept got totally shot down. I attribute this to a combination of Mercer Island NIMBYs at work; poor messaging on Sound Transit, Mercer Island, and Metro’s part; and poor leadership on Mercer Island’s part. Sound Transit and Metro were also reportedly unwilling to compromise on operational restrictions such as limits on the number of buses, which didn’t help at all.

    The City Council elections this fall will tell us a lot about how things are going to go. Wins for the incumbents and generally pro-development, pro-transit candidates would signal that the the people raising a ruckus are a very vocal minority and agreement could likely be reached on issues. If the anti-development, anti-Sound Transit candidates prevail, this could get ugly because several of the candidates are running on a “Mercer Island uber alles” platform.

    Taking a big step back is beneficial for everyone involved, but more level-headed analysis of issues and possible solutions is necessary to keep things from devolving into a shouting match. Simply dismissing expressed concerns out of hand isn’t productive, no matter how egregious you might find those concerns.

    1. Mercer Island can do what it wants… with it’s own dime. You say that the City Of is broke, and maybe it is. But the whole place is full of rich people, so if they want to build a garage just for themselves nothing is stopping them.

      1. Mercer Island is presently staring at projected general fund deficit of about $1 million for 2016 and about $1.5 million for 2017. There are ways to address that of course, and capital improvements could be bonded via a property tax levy, but my point still holds. Furthermore, after the E coli scare last fall a really good argument could be made that the city should focus any new capital money on fixing the water system, not on other stuff.

        And not everyone on Mercer Island is rich.

      2. Because even if it is broke, it’s not due to the lack of a great property base they could tax if they wanted these kinds of services?

      3. CP:
        I have to do a lot of research on a regular basis, and I dont feel like doing work to write a better internet comment. I wasn’t even arguing the point.

        Also, Im guessing they havent done it before because leaders there have the perception that the people of MI do not want to pay taxes to build things that will benefit them. Thats fine with me. But it doesn’t mean that you should take money from other people who need it for their systems and use it so that a city full of rich people won’t have to pay their own way.
        Public money is public money, and should be used to the greatest benefit to the public.

        If MI wants a special gold plated members-only P&R thats fine. They should pay for it.

    2. Mercer Island does not have that; the option is access at the current park and ride, or nothing.

      Taking a bus to the Park and Ride is an option.

      1. Does not seem like you read his comments very closely.

        He addressed what you just posted pretty clearly and thoroughly….

      2. The 204 has hourly service from 6am until 7pm, making it barely useful coverage service. The 201 covers West Mercer Way and has all of 3 daily trips (2 north in the AM and 1 south in the PM), making it essentially useless. While there is no trouble transferring to an inbound 550 in the morning due to the 550’s 5-minute peak headways, the reverse is not true due to the 550’s unreliability in the evenings (both directions) due to traffic congestion and the snafu that is the DSTT.

        So yes, taking a bus to the park and ride is an option, but a lousy one.

      3. That bus service is suboptimal is true. (Mercer Island, of course, has potential remedies for that; they could buy back service from Metro as Seattle has done–weren’t they contemplating that?) However, “suboptimal bus service” is not the same as “nothing.”

      4. Seattle voted to tax itself to purchase more frequent, more useful bus service. If MI wants that, it is but a vote away. Metro would be delighted to make this one route every 15 minutes during peak, if they were handed the money.

        Not saying MI should want that – I think many residents clearly don’t. But, the solution is fairly straightforward.

        That wouldn’t fix issues with the built environment not really being amenable to transit. But, not clear why this is the region’s problem.

      5. Unless you live within walking distance of a bus stop, you have to drive somewhere. If you’re getting in your car, your choices consist of: 1) driving to one of the 4 small park and rides served by the hourly 204 (and then transfer to the 550) or the peak-only 630; 2) driving to the north end park and ride and hoping you get there early enough to snag a spot, or 3) drive all the way wherever you’re going.

        1 is a hassle for most people due to the lousy 204 schedule and peak-only nature of the 630, so many people just say “screw it” and drive further to frequent all-day service, leading to 2.
        2 runs the risk of not getting a spot after about 7:30am, at which point you’re halfway (or more) to work already, so people say “screw it” and just drive.

        If 1 and/or 2 happen often enough, 3 becomes the default choice. Midday there is no parking at the north end park and ride so any off-peak trip by default is via driving. So yes, lousy connecting transit service directly leads to increased parking demand, and lack of parking supply leads to more people driving. If the 204 had 15-minute headways, we’d be having a different conversation.

      6. Mercer Island has a Transportation Benefit District that is paying for the 630 (along with some matching funds from Seattle). So yes, MI is paying for enhanced bus service.

        It is the region’s “problem” in that this is a negotiation between parties with disparate interests. “The region” wants bus intercept, while Mercer Island wants more bus service/more parking. “The region” doesn’t want to spend any more money than necessary or set precedent for future negotiations, while Mercer Island doesn’t want to give up the privileges they have and don’t really want bus intercept. In an ideal world, there’s enough common ground to trade some horses and make this work fairly easily. At the moment, there’s too much rhetoric and political posturing to come to any kind of agreement Seriously; if bus intercept is off the table, what can Mercer Island offer in exchange? Nothing. Conversely, if Sound Transit/WSDOT can’t/won’t offer money for parking, bus service, etc., then they have nothing to offer. The wild card is the 1976 MOA and amendments which would theoretically allow Mercer Island to hold up East Link in exchange for mitigation, but I doubt anyone wants to find out how well that would play in court; there’s too much risk to all parties.

      7. Another excellent post.

        No rhetoric, no snarky comments directed at either party, just reasonable statements based on current facts.

        This transit blog should probably take note of the transit issues faced by islanders who desire to use transit. They might learn something…

      8. If you can’t get to the light rail station, it doesn’t do you much good. Hence the need for better connecting bus service and probably some more parking.

      9. Another problem with the 204 besides its abysmal frequency is that the last run of the day is so early – you have to leave downtown no later than 5:30 PM to catch it.

        It should also be noted that prior to the recession, the 204 ran every 30 minutes at least 6, if not 7 days a week.

      10. Actually, the 6:40 ST550 will catch the 7:03 MT204 south from the park-and-ride. That’s still early, but not that horrendously early.

      11. Zach – Agreed. Increased span of service is also necessary as asdf2 mentions. The problem is that 15 minute service throughout most of the day and longer span of service is going to cost a ton of money on an ongoing basis because you’d need 4 buses for that level of service; the route requires just shy of an hour for one complete cycle. 12 hours of 15-minute service and 4 more hours of 30-minute service pushes you to about 60 platform hours per day, so you’re looking at over $2 million a year. That’s certainly doable and arguably a better outcome than just throwing $15 million at more parking (500 stalls @ $30k each), but it is a significant financial commitment when bus service on the island just got whacked last year due to pitiful ridership.

        Brent – There is plenty of recreational cycling on Mercer Island, but I’m not sure how much commuting via bike. Anecdotally, there is always at least one person loading their bike onto the outbound 550 I take in the morning, but that’s hardly conclusive. East, West, and most of North Mercer Ways are fairly bike friendly in that speeds are low and everyone expects to see bikes on those roads. There is also the I-90 trail of course. However Island Crest Way isn’t really that bike friendly, especially the hill heading down from SE 40th St, and the same topographical and transportation network challenges that hinder mobility throughout the island affect bike connectivity as well. All that said, biking could be really useful since its only about 5 miles from the south end to the park and ride. Some work would need to be done on pathways though.

      12. It got whacked due to the recession cuts. It was first in line for whacking due to pitiful ridership. That doesn’t necessarily mean the current service level is the right level metrics-wise, it just means it couldn’t fit in the recession budget. The right level may be between the current service and previous service. Empty buses are no fun, but if you want to provide a viable alternative to driving and P&R use the buses have to be there when people want to travel. It sounds like a good case for alternative service, as Metro has been doing in other low-ridership areas.

    3. You nailed it.

      There needs to be reasonable discussion and analysis.

      I am all for the train, its a pretty clear positive direction for the entire region.

      Not entirely sold on the bus turn around. Weeks ago I speculated on here for an alternative route the busses could you during their “loop” around the downtown of Mercer Island.

      Here’s a thought that probably has already been considered (and deemed too expensive). If Island residents complain and lawyer up to stop the bus transfer facility, wouldn’t an expensive compromise be to extend the light rail line out to the Eastgate Park and Ride and build a station there? Its already in the long-range plan (or at least proposed for future study). Would this solve the removal of bus service once the mercer island station is built? With timing/computers/scheduling, it could even act as an express to downtown Seattle (from Eastgate) and not even stop on Mercer Island. Hypothetically, wouldn’t that be faster for those eastside residents trying to get to Seattle?

      1. “Deemed too expensive” is an understatement. It’s not like the East King subregion isn’t using up its quota of ST2 funding. And of course it’s all being glommed onto the infrastructure that North King paid for to get their little trains to downtown, for which they’re paying how much again?

      2. That’s an interesting idea but I don’t think its practical under the guise of ST2. Sound Transit has the legal authority to build the system generally described in the ST2 documents (see Resolution 2008-10), but lacks the authority to build things not in the ST2 plan with limited minor exceptions. The bus intercept would be considered ancillary to the station so falls under the ST2 scope, but an extension to Eastgate is almost certainly beyond scope so they couldn’t build that.

        I’ve started wondering if another rebuild of the park and ride might be the best option. You could stage the bus intercept stuff on the ground floor/underground and build up a few levels of parking above. It doesn’t solve the problem of people having to cross North Mercer Way and also has neighborhood impacts (that were the deciding factor last time around), but it puts the bus intercept stuff out of sight and allows for the parking expansion everyone seems to want.

      3. CP,

        It’s not possible to go to Eastgate from the downtown direction. It’s just barely possible to get to it from the Bellevue direction, but ST doesn’t want to do that because of the wetland mitigation problems to which it would give rise.

        The right thing to do is to spend some money at South Bellevue to give buses from eastbound I-90 (and northbound I-405) quick, separated access to the P&R. Then the need for the bus turnaround on the island is eliminated. I do think that since such a change would be primarily to MI’s advantage, you folks should chip in at least a third of the additional cost of the bus ramp at South Bellevue.

      4. Isn’t the Eastgate station at 148th? That’s a long way east of 405, and then it would have to backtrack to downtown Bellevue and zigzag to Redmond. The line going east is a separate line. And ST rejected that routing in the corridor study, presumably because it would cross Mercer Slough and trigger environmental mitigation and threatened lawsuits. The corridor study has light rail options from Issaquah that turn north around 405, but only BRT options for lines that continue west to South Bellevue and then downtown Bellevue. Because I-90 doesn’t impact the slough at all, so they can always put more buses on it.

    4. Good points. I think parking is the most reasonable concern. The bus integration issue is critical for a good transit system. It will happen on Mercer Island, it is just a question of how. Besides, Mercer Island residents will get something — a huge something — from that integration. Getting from Mercer Island to Issaquah, for example, will be a lot more frequent. In general, getting anywhere from Mercer Island will be really easy (whether by bus or train).

      But the parking issue is a bit different. Personally, I think Sound Transit shouldn’t be in the business of building park and rides. Mercer Island is its own city, so let them handle it. Let them build their own park and rides, and they can issue permits to their own residents. They can charge everyone else. Or they can charge everyone, but give a discount to local residents.

      I think you are on the right track when it comes to managing the parking. People need to get away from the idea that they will be able to drive right to the train. Folks in Issaquah won’t. They will park in a different park and ride, then take a bus to the train station. Mercer Island residents can do the same thing. It’s a bit harder for them because it may be harder to time (since you have to go through traffic lights). But either way, parking will play a big part in the functionality of the system on the island — people are just too spread out. If residents in Mercer Island are really worried about parking (and I’m not convinced they are) then the city can provide their own parking.

      I do think that folks there are worried about nothing when it comes to people from the mainland using their parking. I really don’t see why they would do that, once Link comes to the East Side. South Bellevue will be closer and faster for every driver. The one exception is HOV drivers (car pools). But if you are in a car pool headed towards Seattle, I think you would just stay on I-90 to Seattle. Most businesses have parking for car pools, which eliminates the main advantage of stopping in Mercer Island. I just don’t see that many people from the mainland using the Mercer Island park and ride.

      1. It wasn’t adjacent to the Park, it was taking part of the Park and turning it into a park and ride.

      2. Whether it was part of the park or next to the park was never entirely clear. There was more to the opposition than the loss of park land (although that was certainly the main issue).

  17. I am reminded of the “Mercer Island Cops” Skit on Almost Live!. Glad to see that Mercer is still stuck in the 80s

    1. The UW Daily ran a parody edition at the time of the Falklands/Malvinas war about the UW’s “invasion of Mercer Island.” Unfortunately IIRC the brave Dawgs were driven back by the provincials and defeated. Perhaps this time enlisting the aid of the Cougs would make for a more successful attempt, and peace, justice, and liberation may be brought to that benighted land.

      (unfortunately a quick search did not find a copy in the Daily’s online archives)

      1. Transportation connection – the UW Crew teams send in the ‘War Canoes’ during the invasion IIRC.

    1. that ended well, too, didn’t it?

      (there are some in this country that might do well to remember that)

    2. It didn’t even start. “Let them eat cake” was a myth. One, it wasn’t attributed to Marie Antoinette until a generation later. Two, M.A. cared about the poor and wouldn’t have said something so cavalier. Three, French law stipulated that if a bakery ran out of price-fixed bread loaves, it had to sell a higher-end sweet bread at the same price. That sweet bread was “brioche”, translated as cake. So the phrase meant the opposite of what it’s purported to mean. And what it’s purported to mean doesn’t even make sense.

      1. all true, but the phrase has entered common usage in the English vernacular as a synonym for the worst excesses of an uncaring and ruthless ruling class, which I assume is how Brad meant it.

  18. Perhaps we can give the Mercer Island folks special access to the bridge, but then charge them a toll to use the Mt. Baker tunnel.

    1. The 1976 MOA covers the entire segment of I-90 between I-5 and I-405, so it covers the Mt. Baker Tunnel, the alignment on Mercer Island itself, and the East Channel Bridge in addition to the floating bridge.

      1. Jason, the agreement also includes the HOV lanes between I-90 and downtown Bellevue, and on the Seattle side it goes all the way to the waterfront/stadium area.

  19. Islanders will push for everything they can get because history tells them it works. Freeway noise wall in 1970? Mercer Island got it not Seattle. Lid over the freeway for public green space, Mercer Island got it, not Bellevue. It’s all about political clout, doesn’t matter how fair or how expensive it is, when it comes to stage politics MI is special.

  20. I live on Whidbey Island. We, and other islanders don’t get or expect these kinds of special privileges. The Mercer Islanders should feel lucky have such transportation amenities that they have, and will get with light rail.

    We and other islanders in WA have to pay a ferry toll to access the state highway network. Do we ever complain? No. Mercer Islanders need a reality check, and I hope the leaders of King County and Sound Transit collectively tell them to sit down and shut up.

    1. I was wondering if someone from Bainbridge might have been making the same comment. Lots of people depend on functionality of transit that is transient, meaning it can be taken away. People in my neighborhood are up in arms over the changes in routes 16 and 26, if they had become dependent on a one-seat ride to somewhere where it is suddenly taken away, and they can’t vote with their feet if, for instance, they live in a senior home that is about to no longer be on a bus route to their doctor’s. The land use patterns and demographics on Mercer Island lead to a particular transportation result, which changes, as it fits into the challenges that face the rest of the region, sometimes not to the islanders’ benefit. Which is exactly what happens to everyone else in the region. We don’t start from the viewpoint that we must provide Mercer Island with optimal transportation choices and then take care of everyone else. As far as I can tell, these commenters at the public meeting don’t understand that.

  21. Mercer Islanders pay a disproportionate share of property taxes, income taxes, estate taxes, and a whole bunch of other taxes, plus they keep a lot of businesses afloat, like the shops in the Bravern. So I say we should thank them for supporting the rest of the county by giving them what they want.

    1. Sam: None of the taxes you mention fund Sound Transit. From

      “Paying for regional transit

      Sound Transit is funded by tax dollars. In 1996 and 2008, voters within the RTA authorized Sound Transit to collect taxes to build and operate the regional transit system. The taxes are known as the RTA tax and are only assessed within the Sound Transit district. The RTA taxes currently assessed are:
      •Retail sales tax: 0.9 percent
      •Rental car sales tax: 0.8 percent
      •Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET): 0.3 percent”

  22. Haters gonna hate. But give one of these little fake SJWs a chance and they are moving to Mercer Island in a heartbeat.

    haters gonna hate.

    1. Your use of that pejorative term should have been deleted.

      But I wouldn’t move to Mercer Island at gunpoint.

  23. About parking: ST will be selling monthly access permits to a pool of slots reserved up to 9AM (I believe) for the MI P&R, so regular commuters at least will have a way to use the P&R. Free parking is poor policy, and this is at least a step in the right direction.
    There is at least some merit to the argument that the furthest downstream P&R will get disproportionate usage by upstream commuters. But we on MI have the benefit of having shorter commutes. Market-rate parking (at all P&R’s) would go a long way toward fairness: we on MI would pay a bit more for the benefit of being closer, as would folks who choose to drive here to park.

    About MI transit options: as others have commented, MI’s low density south of downtown make conventional (and maybe all) transit generally uneconomical for the last mile of commuting.

    About bicycle commuting: could work for some but far from all of MI because of a combination of hills and low density (that would not justify dedicated bikeways). I bicycle around the island, and it’s a good workout but not a good way to get to work. Same comments apply to much of Seattle.

    About the bus intercept: Jason Rogers’ comments are spot on. It’s a good concept, and it should happen on MI and elsewhere too – but the execution needs to minimize (not eliminate, but minimize) the impacts to the affected communities. That negotiation needs to continue, and lead to better controls than ST & Metro have apparently offered so far. The flames from both sides are not helping.

    1. I think ST should design the I-90 bus-to-Link transfer and the station on Mercer Island with the same brilliant planning that they used for the 520-to-Link transfer and UW station. So, first, the Mercer Island station needs to be built at Islander Middle School, and the buses should use East Mercer Way…

      Sorry, couldn’t resist. I WANT MY 520 STATION!

  24. We need to be careful to not allow articles which paint a negative picture based on a small cross section of self-privileged residents on this Island…
    The report does not truly represent the majority of MI residents (who may not have made their voices known at the Listening Tour – unfortunately). Most MI residents I know personally are humble, hard-working, and sensible… This handful of people that the article points out are non typical of the overall sentiment where the primary issue is focused solely on possible I90 tolling and it’s possible effects on MI residents, businesses, and commerce…

  25. I have lived on Mercer Island for 18 years and I am as disappointed and disgusted by the sense of entitlement as the others on this thread. Shameful.

  26. I grew up on the Island and the bus service running to the south end and back is horrible. You basically have to own a car to survive there. On top of that the park & ride lot was always full once I had a car so I would still have to drive everywhere off-island because it was impossible to park and take a bus.

    I think many people on the island would absolutely love to take the eastlink for commuting into seattle/bellevue/redmon but the issue is getting to where the train station is without a car because only a minority of the residents live within walking distance of where it will be. Everyone else would have to drive and hope there is a spot for them and if not then give up and continue driving to work.

  27. Zach Shaner just “othered” the residents of Mercer Island in his screed. He must apologize. Or maybe Zach thinks that only people that disagree with him can be “othered”.

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