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Tuesday evening at the Mountaineers (7700 Sand Point Way NE), the King County Council will hold a special meeting of its Transportation, Economy, and Environment (TrEE) Committee. While the public will have had 4 other opportunities to comment at the regular committee meetings (9:30am every other Tuesday), this special meeting will be the only public hearing of the restructure ordinance outside of work hours before it is voted on by the full council (hopefully) later this month. This is an extremely important hearing if you care about frequency, reliability, and a better transit network.

A 6:30pm Open House will precede the hearing, with Metro staff on hand to discuss the proposal with the public. At 7:00pm, the Committee will convene to hear public testimony on the restructure. We strongly urge you to attend and let the Council know your thoughts on the proposal.

Regrettably, the hearing location has terrible transit access, with Routes 30 and 74 getting you there but not home, and Route 75 only running every 30 minutes.  (An irony of this meeting is how much easier it would be to attend if the restructure were already in place.)  If you have a car and would be willing to drive a fellow reader, please speak up in the comments. If you would like to borrow a bicycle for free to attend via the Burke-Gilman Trail, please email me at zach.shaner(at)gmail.com. If you cannot attend, please submit your comments online here.

ULink Restructure Frequency Table-01

Commentary after the jump.

This is a large, controversial change that we’ve written about at length. Any restructure is inherently disruptive, necessitating that riders learn new routines and travel patterns. But by definition, any fixed-route transit system serves some areas and not others, so the challenge is a utilitarian one, to serve more people with more frequency with every iteration of the system. Refusing to occasionally delete routes and repurpose them elsewhere creates a layer cake of past service decisions that leaves the network infrequent, overly complex, and hostile to riders. It creates a network that is decidedly less than the sum of its parts. It privileges the status quo to such an extent that any service decision is criticized except those that have already been made. We can do better, and this is the beginning of that process, not the end. Let’s the make the system incrementally better in 2016, then far better in 2021 when Northgate Link opens, and better again in 2023 when Lynnwood Link and East Link open.

There are things I do not like in the proposal, but there is far more that I do not like about our current system. Riders are being left out today by lack of evening and weekend service. Would-be riders are driving their cars in NE Seattle today because their lives cannot and should not be built around 30-minute service. Travel times vary wildly today, with a trip on Route 71 taking 35 minutes in the morning and 60 minutes in the afternoon. Our old school one-way express lanes make second-class citizens of anyone who has a non-traditional commute.

This proposal evens the score. It lets Link do the heavy lifting for UDistrict-Downtown transit trips, and deletes routes such as 71, 72, and 73, using their hours to return a huge dividend of service to the transit-starved neighborhoods of NE Seattle that desperately need it. Your frequencies will double (Routes 62, 65, 67, 75, 372, etc) , your routes that end in the early evening will go until midnight or later (Routes 67, 372, etc), and your routes that have never had weekend service suddenly will (67, 372, etc).  If you want to connect to the train, Link will come 66% more often during peak than the 71/72/73, and it’ll have double the capacity. And if you do want to continue on express buses for your Downtown job? You can do that too, with nearly double the service on Routes 74, 76, and 316.

If you want this network, please show up and make your voice heard.

When: Tuesday, October 6, 6:30pm
The Mountaineers (7700 Sand Point Way NE)
Getting There: Routes 30, 74, and 75 on the way there. Only Route 75 on the way back. 

36 Replies to “ACTION ALERT: ULink Restructure Public Hearing Tuesday”

  1. Good commentary. I agree completely. There are bits and pieces I would have done differently, but overall, it is a much better system.

    Something that isn’t mentioned often enough is how good this system will be if Seattle goes ahead with its plans for fast, frequent bus service on Madison (http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/MadisonBRT.htm) and Eastlake (https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2015/05/25/roosevelt-hct-is-underway/). Both of these additions will make the proposed Metro changes even better. For example, I’ve whined about the button hook on the proposed 67. But if the city builds the Eastlake to Northgate line, the 67 is just fine, and complements the Eastlake bus route quite well.

    Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make the meeting. I will be attending a different transit meeting where will be discussing the proposed station at NE 130th (http://www.pinehurstseattle.org/2015/09/07/8866/). If you live in the area, I encourage you to attend that meeting, even though it conflicts with this one. Terrible timing (the NE 130th station community meeting was planned first, and it was too difficult to change it once the Metro meeting was announced).

  2. What’s the benefit of going there in person versus submitting an online comment? I might be able to juggle my schedule to attend if it’s that significant.

    1. It is much, much larger than you think. People are swayed by a face they can empathize with, especially when they know you took time out of your day to be there. A quick email, though, they know that doesn’t mean much to you, and if it even gets read, it doesn’t stick in a person’s memory.

      (I used to work in politics, and people would often talk seriously about comments at a townhall meeting, but I literally never heard as much as chitchat about emails unless they were the funny ones from paranoid wackos. Also, all of the studies of elections show that a volunteer showing up on a doorstep is over 10 times as effective as a piece of mail arriving in the mailbox)

      1. Thank you. I just rescheduled my other engagements; I’ll be there.

        Next question – what to say. I live on the Eastside, which is the one region where the restructure was totally withdrawn (except for Sound Transit). But we still gain, since a Northeastern restructure around the Link station would simultaneously make everything more accessible from SR 520. And, a successful restructure there would be good precedent for the Eastside.

        And finally… it’s good manners to help bring nice things to your neighbors, that you’d very much want if you lived there.

      2. Metro said they might come back next year in an Eastside restructure. It didn’t feel confident enough to do the 520 changes in isolation, but an Eastside restructure would allow it to consider them in context.

    1. Thanks for the word! It sounds like you’re expecting this hearing to be extremely well-attended?

  3. This restructure is important to some N and NW Seattlites as well – especially the hugely improved 28x line and improved frequency of 48.

    1. I ride the 28 all the time and don’t consider the changes to be a “huge improvement.” They’re really more of a mixed bag. On the plus side, people who work at one of the Fremont tech companies will now be able to take any peak-hour 28 instead of needing to wait for the half-hourly local version. On the minus side, these folks will need to walk an extra three-tenths of a mile downhill in the morning or uphill in the evening to access the line. It’s a nice enough walk for much of the year, but I’m not too excited about making that trek every day during the winter rains.

      People who currently ride the express to get a quick ride downtown will likely find that the ride isn’t quite as fast as before, since the new 28X will make local stops all the way down to 39th Street before diverting to Aurora (it currently goes into express mode at Market Street). Like current local riders, current express riders will also have the benefit of one single route during peak commute hours. No more guessing whether you’ll get to your destination faster by hopping on the local that’s at the stop right now, or waiting for the express that’s supposed to show up in a few minutes.

      I don’t think it’s really a clear win for anyone, except perhaps people who live near 39th Street in Fremont. They’ll be getting a new fast bus downtown.

  4. Nothing like scheduling a public meeting at the same time as Monday Night Football here in Seattle. Was this deliberate? It kind of reminds me of the Daria cartoon meeting when the principal scheduled a public meeting during the Superbowl.

    1. Huh, there’s a game tonight??? (One of the very few benefits of not living in the city is hearing less about the Seahawks.) And, yes, that is terrible timing given the enthusiasm of the current fair-weather fans and recent winning seasons. Of course, as I would say, life does not revolve around football.

    2. The only major conflict is between the county meeting and this one: http://www.pinehurstseattle.org/wp//srv/htdocs/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/130LightRail.jpg. Both meetings concern transit in the north end. The meeting to discuss the NE 130th station was scheduled before the county announced their meeting.

      It is funny to think that the meeting organized (and paid for) by community volunteers actually has better bus service than the one organized by the county. There are several buses that go there (the 41, 73, 77, 373, 347, 348).

      For those attending the NE 130th meeting, it is worth mentioning that the purpose of the meeting is to gather ideas for changes that could occur in the neighborhood with a new station.

  5. Yes, the location requires people on Capitol Hill to drive or take a cab which makes as much sense as the 8, 11, 12 and 43 restructure. I for one would attend a meeting at the Miller Center, but it appears that out King County Council must think everyone has a car.

    May I suggest that the councilman be required to get to the meeting by bus!

    1. Maybe that it is the point. Dembowski is a performance artist. By having the meeting in a location that is inconvenient for transit, he is making the case that the changes proposed will cause further inconvenience. To make things more interesting, he chose one of the spots that will actually have better, more frequent service if things change. Is he being ironic or post ironic; modernist or post modernist? Is the presence of the nearby climbing wall some sort of homage to the herculean efforts that some will have to take now to ride transit, or am I giving the artist — sorry, country representative — too much credit? Regardless, it makes you think. I wonder if they will be serving white wine at the event.

      Seriously, though, I find the choice for the meeting to be horrible. The UW (where previous restructure meetings were held) is the obvious choice. That is much easier for everyone.

  6. Metro’s running extra buses to get folks to the hearing tonight, and Seattle Subway is organizing rides to and from downtown for those who need them.

    Yes, it is that important to show up in person. Online comments get to the councilmembers via their staff, but they don’t have the same impact as seeing and hearing people in person. If you can find the time and a reasonable way there, please go, sign up to talk for two minutes, and make sure Council understands that there is support for this proposal — and this overall direction (reliability, frequency) — in the community. Several councilmembers have indicated that their votes will depend in large part on who shows up Tuesday evening. We need to get supporters there.

    If you have good lights on your bike, consider biking. We’ll still have nice weather tomorrow evening, and the location is just a couple of blocks off the Burke-Gilman trail.

      1. Egad. That’s what I get for typing faster than I think. Thanks for correcting it, Zach.

    1. “Several councilmembers have indicated that their votes will depend in large part on who shows up Tuesday evening.”

      This bothers me. The council’s job is to figure out what’s best for the county, and that means a robust frequent network. The purpose of public input is to alert councilmembers of issues they may not have considered, not to just do what 51% of the people who show up say. Some will be squeaky wheels, demanding that their own route be unchanged even if it only benefits three people. People losing a route show up to testify, while people who gain from a restructure often don’t know it’s happening because they don’t follow transit news closely. Instead, after it opens they’ll realize it matches their trip. Other people don’t live in the area yet, or have been avoiding the area because of the infrequent transit.

      1. I agree. That is ridiculous. What about the folks that can’t show up, or attend a different public meeting (http://www.pinehurstseattle.org/page/2/) that was scheduled before this one! Absolutely ridiculous. They put the meeting in an inconvenient place, then suggest that they will make their decision based on who can make it — that is terrible. What if you work at night. What if you come home, fix dinner and can’t drag your infant and toddler on a long bus ride to the meeting. That shouldn’t be the point of a meeting like that, and it usually isn’t the point of meetings like this. Meetings should be designed to gather ideas or share information, not to substitute for the democratic process, which should carry as much weight if occurring in writing as in person.

      2. Double ridiculous – 2 min testimony in a 2 hr meeting with no breaks means you are favoring 60 speakers over all the transit users in NE Seattle.

        I sent my testimony 2 days ago on the Metro website. I did my darnedest to present myself as a sane rational transit user.

      3. I’m thinking about going to the meeting tonight. I’m in favor of the NE Seattle restructure, however I’m a fairly shy person and don’t plan on making a 2 minute speech.

        Is there a point to me going to this meeting if I won’t say anything? I don’t know how these sort of meetings generally work. If there’d be non-speech ways to give feedback – say, having council members asking the audience to raise their hands / applaud to show their approval of the restructuring plan, that’d work for me. But if the council members will only really be getting feedback from the people signing up to give speeches, I don’t know what me going would accomplish.

        Or would it be better for me to write a more detailed comment and submit it to the council online?

  7. 40,000 is not “two times more” as 15,600. 28,700 is not “three times more” as 8,700.

    Saying “two times more” is the same as saying “three times as much”. Saying “three times more” is the same as saying “four times as much”.

    Sorry, but this is a pet peeve of mine.

  8. The above list shows the 26x as Peak only. I thought I had seen it earlier listed as having daily all-day half-hourly service from Seattle to Northgate — same routing as the current 26X from downtown to Ravenna Blvd and from there folllowing the same routing as the current 16 to Northgate (sans the Meridian-Northgate Way-Fifth Avenue annoying time-wasting detour).

    1. I think you’re confusing the two columns? It’s currently peak-only; it’s proposed to be half-hourly all-day.

      1. Thanks, read it in too much of a hurry. I do wish that the ‘x’ designation would be used for peak routes only to make things less confusing.

      2. The X designation is being used, since it will not make some stops along Aurora (like the expresses do today). That is what a Metro staffer told me at one of those open houses.

  9. I have been trying to find out why it will take 7 more years to get east link to Bellvue/Overlake? The I-90 bridge was built for rail. We voted for it in 2008! It seems we have the construction money. Any ideas?

  10. Maybe some of us could meet and bike up the Burke-Gilman together to the meeting? I’m planning to be at Rainier Vista a little before 6, in either a red shirt or a yellow raincoat depending on the weather; anyone else planning to be there around then?

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