Link Red Line strip map

This is an open thread

86 Replies to “News Roundup: Revamping”

  1. Regarding the maps, I really think the light link should have an audible announcement just before the train stops at each station listing two or three points of interest, London Tube style. I think the metro bus does this as well, but I haven’t ridden one in about a year so I can’t recall.

    The light link is heavily used by tourists and I think an annoucement of “now approaching Pioneer Square Station. Alight for, Smith Tower, Seattle City Hall and Courthouse, and West Seattle Water Taxi.”

    I know it’s somewhat redundant due to the icons already on the map but I just think it creates a more complete experience.

    1. I agree. The street car does this, so does the metro bus. Though I’d caution against using “Alight”… I don’t know if that word is super common among the average transit rider.

      1. No, no, no. While it might seem good for tourists, regular commuters would simply find such announcements obnoxious. Even tourists, with a little bit of planning ahead and/or on-the-fly phone research, don’t need the train announcing destinations.

        I’m fine with a quick announcement “next stop, Columbia City Station”, but it really shouldn’t get any longer than that.

      2. LA uses “exit here for…” which is far more familiar, at least to American ears, than ‘alight’.

        Perhaps the destination announcements could be switched off during peak commuting hours?

        But announcements are only part of it. The maps in the stations could use more detail showing these destinations and how to get there from the stations. Not everyone has or can use their phone nor is it even the best way for tourists to figure this stuff out.

      3. Easy solution is to copy the London Undergound: during commute hours, the announcements are short and to the point: Station name and connecting lines. Outside of commute hours, they announce nearby destinations as well.

        It would be helpful for Link to at least announce possible connections to major transit routes. For example, at Mount Baker it could be helpful to note the connections to Metro Routes 7 and 48 – but even that can get out of hand.

        Far bigger is the lack of clear communications during delays and disruptions, and poor audio quality between the cars or from the Operator. I’ve had to walk to the front of the train to report issues before, because the audio link with the Emergency Intercom was unusable.

    2. I notice they don’t have a “Coming Soon” sticker covering the streetcar emblem at International District.

      1. Its funny… I used to think it weird that they had a streetcar mark for ID/Chinatown and refused to put one up for the SLU line at Westlake… and then I realized the route map signs hadn’t been updated since the waterfront streetcar was still running…

    3. Since there are similar announcements on the buses, I really don’t see why not. But of course, there will definitely be passengers who find them annoying.

  2. and the North line seemed to survive, (save for a few delays from down trees and water over the tracks)

    Weather which affected the ferries, and has closed Hwy 2.
    but the trains are still running.

  3. The Journal out of Dublin, Ireland has an interesting “backstage” look at the operations center and staff for Dublin Bus:

    They touch on a lot of things that I think would be interesting to see in an equivalent article about KC Metro, such as how the social media people get on, what supervisors are up to, variations in the real-time vehicle info, and how the light rail/bus interactions are handled on a daily basis. One thing they noted that I hope is true about our agencies:

    Dublin Bus meet up with DCC [Dublin City Council] and the Luas [light rail] operators regularly to discuss any issues, like a junction that needs to be widened, or roadworks that are causing delays.

    “If and when there’s something going on, all we have to do is pick up the phone and we can ask the people in DCC and they will always oblige,” says [Joe] Stobie[, Area Operations Manager]. “We have a great working relationship with them.”

    1. Oh, and speaking of blocking the box, they have that problem across the way, too…

      Watching the roads every day means that the Dublin Bus controllers have a solid idea of what not to do on Dublin’s roads. […] Then there are the yellow boxes.

      “The yellow box junctions, if we could get a message out to motorists, the yellow box junctions are sacrosanct.” That’s Stobie again:

      “No matter what’s going on, if they stayed out of the junctions everybody would get home. But when things get really, really congested, people get panicky. And they’re the last car on the line and they just say ‘feck it, I’ll drive it into the yellow box junction’. Now, when the lights go red and they go green the other way, nobody can move.”

      (A yellow box junction, for those unfamiliar, is an intersection where the middle has been painted with yellow stripes and a vehicle may not enter unless the way is clear for it to completely leave without stopping.)

  4. Why doesn’t SPD enforce blocking intersections more often?

    Step 1: Pick one problematic intersection per weekday at random.
    Step 2: Station an officer or two on foot to hand out tickets.
    Step 3: ???
    Step 4: Profit!

    1. I sort of get why SDOT and SPD publicize where the enforcement will be. What I don’t get is when they let everyone know the enforcement has been cancelled. Huh? What good does that do?

      1. Absolutely they should not announce stings. It’s just stooooooopid! I have no problem with the police getting a 25% mordida on every ticket they write.

      2. I don’t think people are paying that much attention to when and where the stings are happening. If that was really true, they wouldn’t catch many people in the stings, which surely doesn’t seem to be the case. Police can write tickets any day they want to – it isn’t as if box-blocking is ok when there isn’t a sting going on.

        I caution against any ideas to police for the purposes of making money. We’ve seen how that has gone totally off the rails in Ferguson and other places. Traffic fines are a deterrent designed to modify behavior, not to fund government. I could write $1000s worth of tickets every hour for jaywalking downtown. But I don’t think that is a good use of police resources.

    2. My friend was just whining about how his CT bus was blocking for several light cycles by a Metro bus blocking the intersection. The driver was yelling about how the police are going to start ticketing buses doing that. Is that even possible?

      I think we can all agree that dedicated lanes and signal priority is the only real fix.

      1. So either the bus broke down or there were cars stopped in front of it. A ticket would not have made a difference in either case.

      2. Yes. I was on a bus where this (driver got a ticket for blocking the box) happened in Fremont about 3 weeks ago.

  5. Congratulations to the Transit Riders Union for yet another victory!

    Of course, this just points out that the youth fare is too darn high. How about a consolidated half-fare for all discounted rider categories?

    1. As an aside, I’m glad their endorsements got stomped this cycle. What the hell were they thinking endorsing Jon grant?

      1. The only value that the TRU absolutely shares with STB is a commitment to resources for transit. On that measure there isn’t necessarily a ton of difference between Burgess and Grant.

  6. I’m at the airport right now, having taken LINK from Westlake, and noticed on my journey how underutilized the land around the SE Seattle stops are. There was even single family homes near Rainier Beach stop (along with two men getting arrested at the station while the police held a Brown paper Baggie up). Does anyone have any idea why the land use down there is so poor and what if anything we can do about it?

    1. Support the HALA recommendations to get rid of the single-family zoning in urban villages?

      The area around Mt Baker is poised to take off. Columbia City is taking off. Othello was about to almost take off until the Path America guy decided to use investors’ money for personal gain. I don’t see Rainier Beach taking off until the stations further north are developed further, so I’d guess that RB is still many years out.

    2. The vacant lots around the stations are because the projects were halted by the recession and new projects haven’t gotten financing yet, and that scandal at Othello. The old houses and one-story businesses between the stations, I don’t know if that’s zoning or not. I assumed there just wasn’t demand yet. The locations with the most demand are around stations, and that hasn’t been saturated yet.

    3. IMO developers still have plenty of projects in neighborhoods where people will pay a substantial premium to live. If the difference in rents between Rainier Valley and some other neighborhoods is $500/month, a 100 unit building will generate $600,000/year in additional rent to cover the higher costs of land acquisition.

      Construction costs are basically the same everywhere, so even if land is substantially cheaper in Rainier Valley, it isn’t a large enough part of the overall project costs to incentive developers to build there.

      Developers are also likely fearing market saturation. Not sure I agree with that line of thinking when double digit rent increases are still the norm, though.

    4. Half the potential market is afraid of being shot or mugged if they move to Rainier Valley, so that depresses the demand.

      1. And, within the Rainier Valley the further south you go, the more dangerous it gets. So, Ranier Beach will be the last station to finally develop. Once the area around Rainier Beach Station gentrifies to the point where Rentonites can wait for a train without being mugged, it might become possible to one day truncate the 101.

    5. It can take a while for things to change. 30 years after being built stuff is still changing around the MAX line to Gresham.

      Just now a fence has gone up around the bowling alley at Powell Blvd and 92nd, apparently for redevelopment, and that MAX line was opened the same year Link did.

      None of this stuff is instant.

    6. Does anyone have any idea why the land use down there is so poor and what if anything we can do about it?

      I think you answered the first part of the question yourself:

      two men getting arrested at the station while the police held a Brown paper Baggie up

      As for the second part, closing off development in places like Roosevelt and the ilk that don’t want the densinitas moving in to their “nice” neighborhoods will force development into “the hood”. But Seattle politics have since the 70’s believed that redevelopment without gentrification was possible. How’d that work out on Granola Hill?

      What’s more baffling to me is why development on Beacon Hill hasn’t surged. If I had to live in Seattle that’s where I’d want to be. Seems there’s plenty of room there to keep “neighborhood character” and squeeze in a whole lot more people. Besides the Billion Dollar Baby Beacon Hill has had great transit… well, since the time the MEHVA trolley buses were front line vehicles on those very same routes.

      1. I’m surprised about Beacon Hill as well, as that’s a place I’d certainly consider were there anything but single family homes and a handful of small apartments.

      2. The major downside to Beacon HIll (at least in places I househunted) is terrible noise pollution from the airline landing paths funneled overhead, likely to only get worse with time. My wife and I went out to tour a really nice little house, and had our conversation interrupted twice by jets overhead just walking from our car to the house. Not a dealbreaker for everyone obviously, but it’s the kind of hidden variable that doesn’t show up on most maps or real estate websites.

    7. “But Seattle politics have since the 70’s believed that redevelopment without gentrification was possible”

      Of course it’s possible if you have loose enough zoning on a citywide scale. The 80s brought CAP to downtown and arbitrarily limited heights regardless of demand. There a little development in the 90s and early 90s but housing was cheap because the population loss was still being refilled. In the 90s and 00s came the urban neighborhood developments but they were limited to a tiny fraction of the city, and rents went up. If they’d had a wider area to choose from, then demand would have been saturated and rents wouldn’t have gone up faster than inflation. Now since 2011 there’s a huge boom in demand and the supply can’t keep up because the vacancy has been going down to danger levels and still keeps dropping. If you build enough that the vacancy rate remains stable and at a healthy 5-10%, then housing prices remain stable.

    8. Having lived in Renton/Skyway (about 4 miles down the road, away from the city), I can attest that this area of Seattle is one of the most crime-ridden parts of the city. Police stakeouts were a pretty regular activity in our apartment complex and flashing blue lights were pretty common. We also witnessed many cars with windows busted out in the morning. The neighbor downstairs was a drug dealer – constant stream of people in the evening, parking out front, walking in, then immediately walking out and leaving. That being said, it is far safer than many Midwestern and East Coast cities, but the crime scares a lot of people away, so there simply isn’t demand. Give it time and it will gentrify and densify.

  7. The renders in the article about new buildings on First Hill show a streetcar on Broadway, presumably the First Hill Streetcar. The problem I have is I’m not so sure that the First Hill Streetcar will be open yet when these buildings are complete. But there are test trains running, so maybe that’s what they mean.

      1. If only they had dedicated lanes and signal priority so they actually would be super-fast and reliable.

  8. Alas, ST claimed “red” first and won’t consider introducing a different line color or even a different shade — even though RapidRide is also the same shade of red.

    Ironically, yesterday I watched a King County board meeting where they said that the biggest focus group negative is that transportation agencies don’t plan with each other well enough. Of course, no elected official pursued examples. So how about this one?

    1. Madison BRT is a more concrete example. Spending $120 million on a corridor when we don’t know how the network is going to work.

    2. Red and blue are the most common colors for subway lines. I think they should have been reversed, but oh well. Who knows what will happen with RapidRide by the time the Blue Line opens. It has a different style of line and will probably have a different shade of red.

      1. In fact, ST was using a burgundy red on its graphics. With the new signage, it now closely matches Rapidride’s red.

  9. When bike-sharing is sold to the public as Absolutely Necessary and Something Everyone Wants and then, somehow, Everyone doesn’t show up to use it, the promoters get into a cycle of “well if only we used a different shade of green paint”, you have to go back and question the original premise. Maybe no one wanted it in the first place. Maybe no one asked the public what they wanted. Maybe a bunch of bureaucrats and vendors got into a relationship they should have not without any mandate.

    1. So why is bikesharing so popular in DC and Paris? Are we that much different that people don’t want to rent bikes for short in-town hops?

      1. The topography of Seattle’s certainly a million times worse than DC, which is almost uniformly flat except for a very slight uphill grade from the Mall to U Street, a slight grade up Capitol HIll, and one monster hill at Florida Ave in Columbia Heights (their monster hill is similar to one or 2 of our standard downtown blocks rising from the water).

        On the other hand, Seattle has some amazing urban bike paths that should work great with bikeshare: the Burke Gilman Trail would be perfect to dot with stations from Mathews Beach to Ballard. It’s flat, separated from cars, beautiful, and connects a lot of interesting destinations. It’s weird to me they almost entirely skipped it. Alki Trail could have a nice satellite network too, to connect the water taxi, Duwamish Head, and Alki Beach. Sadly Admiral Junction is like 250 feet up the hill, and Alaska Junction another 150 feet higher in elevation.

    2. Bike sharing is one of those things that’s go big or go home. A half-assed system with just 50 stations spread very thinly over a relatively small service area to begin with, missing out almost completely on the Burke-Gilman Corridor, just isn’t going to get that much use. Increase the size and density of the network, and usage will increase too.

      1. …about as much as similar stations in other cities do. Docks with 40 places to go get a few dozen trips a day (our core network). With 15 places to go (around UW) you can expect much less. It doesn’t matter how much you want to go somewhere if there’s no dock at the destination.

  10. Do any of you read the KC Metro Facebook page.

    I’m going on the war path on these Proterra Battery Buses.

    I question why the decision was made, who made it, and why there was no oversight.

    Why weren’t Hydrogen buses considered?

    Why is it that Ballard of Vancouver, BC, our neighbor just sold 300+ fuel cell components for use in buses in China, but the Pacific Northwest will not even investigate it?

    No one answers the questions.

    No one takes responsibility.

    No one answers the taxpayers.

    No one has accountability.

    Yet they ask for more…more…more…

    1. The King County Metro Lie Machine in action..quote from the Facebook response:

      I was told even Toyota had problems bringing in the fuel cell passenger cars into the states

      My response:

      John Bailo Toyota is SELLING FCVs in California. Hyundai too.

      The rest of what you say is completely untrue as a simple Google search will confirm.

      More to the point, none of this is made public, as in meetings, or on a web page.

      There was no chance for Citizen Review. And my tax money is being used for a technology which I think is inferior to fuel cells.

      You and Metro have not answered the question to my satisfaction. Metro is misusing my Federal Tax Dollars for technology which is bad and wrong for this region.

  11. I was looking at the new streetcar station at the Capitol Hill Station link entrance, a few days ago. A streetcar was sitting at the stop. It appears as though they positioned the streetcar so that the shelter glass blocks one of the two double-doors on the train here. Unless some adjustment is made, passengers getting on and off the streetcar will have to squeeze around the glass in order to board the train.

    Will they be fine-tuning the streetcar positioning to keep this from happening at this and at other stops? The streetcar design team is going to look pretty dang stupid in the public’s eye if the squeeze situation is allowed to remain.

    1. I didn’t have a measuring tape, but it appears that the shelter glass may be wider than the width of the space between the double doors.

  12. Surely a U-Link opening date announcement is only weeks away. How long before Central Link did ST announce the actual date?

    1. They’re probably keeping it a secret until everything is absolutely 100% ready. That way, they won’t look bad for slipping on their promises.

  13. It is expected rail removal would begin at a 1.3-mile segment south of Kirkland, which has already removed rail and developed a trail through its portion of the corridor. It is likely King County would begin developing an interim gravel trail at that location, extending the length of usable trail within the ERC.

    This is great news. The Bellevue City Council has done nothing to address the trail on the ERC. I guess they figure why spend City money when you can wait for King County to do it. And besides, no developers that fund council races give a rats ass. The “plans” for connecting the Bike 520 trail through here were typical Bellevue awful. Slightly less awful since they got 520 mitigation money to redo Northup but still pretty stinky. So now the question is, how will bikes get from S. Kirkland P&R back over to Bike 520?

    1. “I guess they figure why spend City money when you can wait for King County to do it.”

      Bellevue has a great transit master plan, but what has it done for it? Suppsedly the widening of 120th and 124th is partly for transit, but it looks like an excuse to make more oversized 5-lane streets. The 6th street extension is probably the most it has done for transit. But where are the routes? If Bellevue believes a network of frequent routes are necessary for its well-being, where are they? Where is one city-funded route project?

    2. Bellevue doesn’t want anybody living there who doesn’t drive a single-occupant European luxury car and shop at overpriced luxury stores. They’d prefer the entire Crossroads area not exist. So, they choose not to fund things like bike and transit. People who live in Woodland Commons, Sandpiper East, and the Palisades are non-existent in the eyes of City Council. I attended a public design workshop sponsored by the City when I lived there and literally every suggestion I made was immediately dismissed by the City officials who were there. They didn’t like the idea that some residents of Bellevue might actually enjoy biking to work or prefer to take the bus or light rail over sitting in traffic. I even got scolded at work one time for bringing my bike into the office because there were no bike racks outside the building.

  14. GROAN! I really should give Peter Rogoff the benefit of the doubt. BUT he is seemingly not from this area–for all I know he has spend little to no time here. All of which means we should be prepared to hear in the not too distant future that he is resigning because he wants to spend more time with family in…wherever. He has served all of sixteen months in his current position as Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy and is already job hopping. Excuse the cynicism, but we need a LOCAL expert to head Sound Transit. Is there really none to be had??

    1. It sounds like he’ll be good at getting federal grants and writing environmental impact statements. And that’s what ST was looking for, somebody with government/bureaucratic/grant/consensus-building experience. But does he have experience in designing a good transit network? Does he think, “What would Jarrett do?” Because that’s what we most need.

      1. I imagine that the CEO’s job will be mostly administrative. He won’t be getting federal grants and writing EI reports. He won’t be planning transit networks. That’s what the staff and consultants are for. His job should be to select and support the right people for those hobs.

  15. I was riding Link from Rainier Valley yesterday. When fare inspectors boarded at Mt Baker they were accompanied by King County Police with sniffing dogs. Is this some new procedure?

    1. I have not seen it. I was fare-check twice within ten minutes on Link last week, but no police or dogs. The police were probably looking for someone or doing a raid.

      1. A policeman once told me that these are explosives-detecting dogs in training. If people want to, they can show their briefcase or suitcase to the dog and let him sniff it- which they love to do.

        Every now and then you’ll see one jump up to the opening on a trash can- with their tails frantically wagging- something with savage anti-crime dogs never do. Personally, I think that there are instances where a misbehaving person confronted with a nice dog might become nicer in return.

        Also, in a pinch, if the officer can convince the dog that the subject is a nice man who likes dogs, especially with a lab or a golden retriever, the criminal can have his legs swatted out from under him with one slash of a tail. And then have his face licked ’til he surrenders.

        Well, the happy bomb sniffing dogs really are nice.


    2. It could also be that either the police were indeed “trailing” somebody. Or trying to see how well dogs can keep the scent of a person amid the scents of everybody else on the train. I think that in the case I mentioned, the bomb-dog was being taught what normal luggage smells like.

      I also wouldn’t be surprised if after the other day’s events in France, the authorities are intensifying measures like training more police dogs for all purposes. If so, it’s good that we’re finally getting an intelligent officer who likes people. And much better that we’re not getting one more gadget that somebody scared our authorities into buying.

      As opposed to a measure that I heard the sheriff describe on the radio day before yesterday: that he’s instructing his off-duty deputies to carry firearms. Which they’ve always been allowed to do if they felt like it. Wise policy or not, couple really bad things:

      First, he said that the order was in response to the Paris attack. My question would be about plain tactics. Even one attacker suddenly opens fire with a full-automatic rifle- meaning a submachine-gun- in a dark crowded place. A hand-gun? Might be best if the deputy just throws the thing. Best would an American Revolution flintlock. Hundred percent kill.

      But the most infuriating thing about the sheriff’s statement was the sense that sheer symbolism is an effective approach to a determined, well trained, and superbly-armed enemy. Probably the worst thing about the National Rifle Association’s present claims: show ’em the Second Amendment and they’ll cave! The men who wrote the Amendment didn’t think that.

      A pack of a hundred dogs, some nice for sniffing and trailing, some well-trained-fierce for fighting, invisible in the dark, would be worlds more effective in that exact situation. Small, fast, invisible in the dark. And no matter how many survived, or didn’t, some of them would stay on the trail. And “point”.

      Wait a minute: Is there any law, rule, or policy that the King County Sheriff can’t be a dog? Border Collie probably best. Smart, and instinct to get a herd, I mean crowd, in order by only nipping them. Never biting. Also, no time wasted at press conferences.

      Mark Dublin

      1. I asked ST why T-Link doesn’t have pictograms because according to state law they should be required. They didn’t know the answer. I’m interested in finding out who can answer that question for me!

        Technically, even a streetcar is light rail.

  16. Do Rapidride buses get fare inspection, in theory? For the first time ever in my experience, a couple weeks ago two guys wearing Fare Inspector jackets boarded my C Line bus on Avalon, right before getting on the WSB toward downtown. I thought “oh wow, I should pull out my card for them to swipe! This is fascinating!”. But they just stood by the driver and chatted with him the whole way, then got off at 3rd/Seneca like most of us, without inspecting a single passenger. Is that how it’s supposed to work? Or were they probably just commuting to get to Link? This was at about noon, by the way.

    1. I think I’ve seen RapidRide fare inspectors once or twice.Link’s inspectors have blue uniforms with white letters. RapidRide inspectors have different uniforms if I recall white or yellow shirts.

  17. It seems in recent weeks traffic on 4th Avenue in the weekday PM (like right now) is complete gridlock. Buses in the right bus lane are end to end for 12-15 blocks and don’t move. It’s about 45 mins to go from Union Station to Westlake Park. Seems to me this needs some emergency attention now. God help us when more tunnel buses come out and get stuck in this mess.

    1. Metro sent out an alert yesterday saying, “Expect possible significant delays in transit service for buses traveling through downtown Seattle due to traffic. Your patience is appreciated.” I’m not sure why; that happens every day. But my 7x bus was stopped for five minutes on Stewart Street, and again on 9th Avenue, but that’s not uncommon. I was planning to go to Chinatown but on the way I decided to go to Central Co-Op instead, so I wished I’d taken the 43 but it was too late.

      Getting into Westlake Station on Monday was especially amusing, when I was going to the Madison open house. We were stopped between Convention Place and Westlake Station in a line of buses for a couple minutes, then a southbound train went through, then a couple minutes later another southbound train went through, and then a couple minutes later we finally moved to the platform. I realized that no northbound bus had come while we were waiting until near the end. When I got to the platform I expected to see an extra-large crowd because all the buses had been delayed, but it was an ordinary-sized rush-hour crowd, and the northbound platform was even emptier. So it was all very strange.

  18. I’m curious if anyone has any scuttlebutt why metro is still motorizing all of the trolley routes on the weekend.

    Before the new trolley fleet started arriving, I had figured this was to reduce the wear and tear on the old Gllig trolleys to extend their lives and to provide a nicer ride to folks on the weekends than the Bredas provide..

    Is Metro’s plan to eventually run trolleys on the weekend? If so, whats holding it up?

    1. People say it’s because of construction and detours but I think it’s more about not staffing the trolley system operation on weekends. The weekend after a holiday you’ll see the trolleys running, I bet that’s the case after Thanksgiving. My take is that’s to make up for the holiday.

      1. I do suspect soon trolleys will be running on weekends when the new fleet is in place and they can rely on the vehicles and therefore staff trolley operations on weekends.

    2. I imagine it’ll be easier to run on a slimmed-down staff with the new trolleys, as they can detour for short periods around construction and other obstacles.

      Certainly the 44 could benefit from 3-door coaches every day of the week.

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