Streetcar 404 at 14th & Washington

This is an open thread.

93 Replies to “News Roundup: Jinxed It”

  1. I was wondering if the mudslide prevention measures would eliminate mudslide closures on Sounder North this winter. I guess not.

    1. “But officials didn’t expect the mitigation efforts would stop landslides altogether and the two recent slides were outside the catchment and containment wall areas they worked on last summer.”

      There’s still additional funds to identify and work on more areas, they just hit the highest priority ones first. So there’s still hope!

      1. If anything, this is a sign that the program is working, since it weathered the last storm quite well (no pun intended).

    2. Actually, given the pittance that is spent on rail infrastructure problem mitigation compared to what we do for drivers, I’m impressed most of that route is weathering the latest rainfall as well as it has.


      The Gregerson Not-So Express one day will end up in Puget Sound. I just hope I’m not on that train, I hope NONE of you are on that train.

      Let me put it this way: The Royal Canadian Air Farce used to be on – apparently cancelled in the PMSH era out of fear of fanning the flames to privatize the CBC – had a “Chicken Cannon” to punish sufficiently dirtbag politicians. The STB Board should make a list of certfiable D-bags who should be on a Sounder North train during an atmospheric river…

    4. I-5 now closed in four different locations near Woodland, so even the typical highway effort didn’t survive this set of storms.

  2. So in terms of ferry shifts.

    Hyak is now at Bainbridge
    Issaquah at Bremerton

    Supers have not been utilized on Bainbridge regularly since they were first brought here from California.

    1. Tillikum is also at Vashon serving in place of Issaquah. WSF also temporarily moved the Hiyu to the Kingston tie-up slip to clear space at the Eagle Harbor maintenance facility. Its not like they’re using it anyway.

      Prior to about 5 years ago, WSF would assign a Super to the Bainbridge run if a Jumbo Mk II was unavailable because the Supers used to have a higher passenger capacity (2500) than the Jumbos (2000), the higher passenger capacity being more important than auto capacity. Recent stability recalculations reduced their passenger capacity below 2000 though due to a higher weight-per-person (the Supers are, relatively speaking, tall and narrow), so one of the Jumbos has generally been the emergency backup at Bainbridge lately.

      I guess in this case WSF didn’t care to shuffle boats around much. Due to various breakdowns, they’re had severe service impacts on most of the major runs in the past couple of years and have had to substitute smaller backup ferries at times. Guess it is Bainbridge’s turn to be impacted.

  3. Always love these news updates. Although I’ll say that a mostly critical op-ed does not qualify as a “guide” to the FAST Act.

    1. I haven’t seen any mention of TIGER grants as part of FAST. Did they get phased out (they were on the chopping block) or is that a separate account all together?

      1. My understanding is that TIGER is not continued under the FAST act. Although I’m no expert on this. Perhaps Congress can still appropriate something. Come to think of it, I’m not sure TIGER was ever part of MAP-21, either. I think it was an ARRA thing.

  4. Under the proposed ST3 map put up last week– do we have estimates how long a ride from the airport to Ballard would take?

    I also wonder that Ballard to UW being put on the back burner– whether there was a trade off for Ballard folks — Ballard to UW unlikely, but a one seat ride to the airport likely.

    And if you are pro transit and live in Fremont and Wallingford, what are you thinking?

    1. I’d guess (Current Link time) – (Current delays due to buses in tunnel) + (Ballard-Downtown time). Bus delays are generally thought to be two or three minutes; Ballard-Downtown travel time is listed in ST’s slides and is generally somewhere around 18-20 minutes.

    2. I don’t live in Fremont, but I work there. The proposals for Fremont are pretty much what I expected, and in the long term seems to be what may make the most sense.

      What I see as the current long term plan is light rail from downtown to Ballard (via interbay) with a later connection across the Market/45th corridor to Children’s (or if we are lucky, Magnuson Park, but I don’t see the Sand Point crossing ever happening). Maybe we’ll see a split in Ballard with another line heading up to Northgate and off to the 522 corridor, but that would be a long way off. But a Ballard-UW line, I don’t see it as practical to serve both the downtown areas of Fremont (roughly Fremont & 36th) and Wallingford (basically all of 45th between 99 and I-5) with a single line. It just doesn’t make sense geometrically. So I see Fremont getting stuck in a similar situation as Belltown seems to be approaching. They will be skipped by for the light rail, but will probably get the consolation prize of a street car line.

      Long term, I don’t mind that plan. Short term its going to suck, but such is the cost of the political process.

      1. Could be. But I think it’s probably the other way around – a streetcar should be much easier to finance and build, so Fremont could get service before Ballard and west Seattle get rail, but long-term, it’s inferior service

      2. I didn’t mean to imply an order to service opening. I was referring to approval of the concept. It is pretty clear that light rail to Ballard and West Seattle will be on the 2016 ballot, and that it is mutually exclusive with a Fremont streetcar. Any street car service to Fremont wouldn’t be approved (by voters, or councils) until much later. Considering the gaps between the typical transportation levies (Bridging the Gap -> Move Seattle, ST -> ST2 -> ST3), my guess is no earlier than 2020 or maybe even 2022. So even if funding/construction allows a street car to open a decade before the light rail does, the political process will have already skipped over Fremont.

      3. Also work in Fremont. I don’t see how any kind of streetcar even gets at Fremont’s real needs.

        We need better connections to regional transit to the north. That’s the E Line today and Link in the future. There should be some sort of reasonable 31/32-to-E Line transfer, maybe with a walk up to 38th or so, but not as far as 46th.

        We need cars and pleasure boaters out of the way of buses on the Fremont Bridge. The low height of the Fremont Bridge is unequivocally great for urbanism, specifically access via transit and walking to destinations directly on both sides of the bridge. Running a streetcar does nothing to fix the real problem, which is that cars are in the way.

        We need street improvements and repairs for bus routes heading east and northeast from lower Fremont.

        We need a parking cap, set well below current levels, in Fremont, along Dexter and Westlake, in SLU, and downtown. That’s the only thing that will reduce the car congestion until pollution caps do it.

    3. C-01b and C-01c put the travel time at 18-19 minutes, but that’s through the new tunnel to Intl Dist, not to Westlake as we usually see it. Current travel time from Intl Dist to SeaTac is 31 minutes. That conservatively suggests 50 minutes from Ballard to SeaTac. This already excludes most of the DSTT congestion, and the slight amount south of Intl Dist is probably less than a minute on average.

      Ballard to U-District, if we take the 19-minute high estimate, subtract four minutes for getting off at Westlake, add two minutes to transfer, take the 8-minute estimate to UW, and add four minutes to U-District, results in 29 minutes. The 44 is 26 minutes at 8am, 29 minutes at 5pm, 19 minutes at 10pm. Westbound is 26 minutes at 5pm. So travel time is about the same as the 44 but it’s much more reliable and frequent. An underground Ballard-UW line is 6-9 minutes in ST’s 2014 study (A2; Wallingord tunnel), but we want to add a few stations and have it serve Fremont too, which would add 3-4 minutes, or 10-14 total.

      Fremont doesn’t need more than a Westlake streetcar or BRT with sufficient capacity and reliability. The 40’s travel time (Union St-Fremont) is 19 minutes at 10am, 22 minutes at 5pm. That’s a reasonable overhead for trips from Fremont compared to trips from downtown, so an underground line is not necessary. It is necessary in Ballard because the overhead to get to ST2 Link or downtown is enough to start making Ballard unattractive to live or work in.

    4. “I also wonder that Ballard to UW being put on the back burner– whether there was a trade off for Ballard folks — Ballard to UW unlikely, but a one seat ride to the airport likely.”

      No, it’s because McGinn strongly favored Ballard-downtown, and Murray still does so not as strongly, and the fact that it complements the downtown tunnel (service both north and south).

      “I see Fremont getting stuck in a similar situation as Belltown seems to be approaching. They will be skipped by for the light rail, but will probably get the consolation prize of a street car line.”

      I don’t think ST3 would include both a Ballard line and a Westlake line. They’re alternatives. If Ballard gets a grade-separated alternative, then it would be up to SDOT to pursue the Westlake streetcar or BRT to Fremont. Since that is unfunded, it would start later but might open before the Ballard line does.

      1. I didn’t mean to imply that both the Interbay and Westlake alignments would happen is ST3. I expect the Interbay alignment in ST3, and a later project for a Westlake street car. Similar to how we are seeing Belltown getting skipped by the light rail, with a possible CCC street car extension as a consolation prize at a later date.

      2. OK, but I wouldn’t call it a consolation prize. The First Hill Streetcar is called that because ST offered it after promising a First Hill Station and then deleting it. This isn’t the same thing because ST hasn’t accepted the line yet.

      3. This is not just to you, Mike, but to the line of thinking that the main calculations regarding rapid transit between Ballard and UW, or Ballard and Sea-Tac airport are mostly political.

        We’re talking about several miles of subway under Phinney Hill, and Wallingford, and I-5, and the U-District. With all the political support in the world, this is going to take awhile just to design, let alone construct, and also cost a lot.

        Same with a single-seat ride from Ballard to the airport, however routed. If we get the Ballard-NorthLINK subway, I doubt anybody will consider a transfer via a one-floor elevator ride a hardship.

        I’ve always thought about a streetcar line along the north shore of the Ship Canal between Fremont and UW, branching off from a line to Ballard via Leary. Someday soon, apartment development along there may warrant it.

        Re: drawbridge: For what it’s worth, a marina worker near the Fremont drawbridge told me that under SR99, the Ship Canal is 40 feet deep. Year of two back, someone suggested as tunnel station directly under the drawbridge, with access on both ends.

        Also, many other streetcar lines in the world cope with drawbridges.

        For trolleybus, streetcar, or BRT, 45th through Wallingford has same problem as Madison: a narrow commercial street with short blocks. Whatever reserved lanes and signal pre-empt we can get, no transit through there will be fast until the subway arrives.

        So for me, no objection to the subway at all- but understand this will be more on the order of NorthLINK than the DSTT.

        Mark Dublin

    5. >> And if you are pro transit and live in Fremont and Wallingford, what are you thinking?

      You think the same thing the folks on First Hill, much of Capitol Hill and the Central Area think: Sound Transit has weird priorities. They really aren’t trying to build a system that connects all the urban neighborhoods as best they can. They are focused on more miles of rail, regardless of its efficacy. I appreciate the efforts at getting the timing, Mike, but I seriously doubt anyone will round the horn to get from Ballard to the UW that way. That’s for one spot in Ballard, too (15th and Market). Anywhere on 8th or 3rd or Phinney/Greenwood, Aurora or Wallingford is out of the question. For those sorts of trips, people will do as they have always done: drive.

      It’s very common for folks to talk about our bus system this way: It is great if you are going downtown, but terrible for other trips. I don’t think that is fair, but reasonably close. Now we are spending billions for a very similar system, except with an added phrase (It is very good if you are close to a station and headed downtown).

      It doesn’t have to be that way, of course. Ballard to the UW would be just about as fast a way to go downtown as via the other train (and cheaper to build). It would connect with buses everywhere north of the ship canal. When I say “connect” I mean connect today, without requiring Metro to lift a finger. It does mean getting to Fremont would be, as Goonda said, similar to Belltown. Or similar to Lake City. Run a bus connecting to a nearby station every five minutes and you can get there. Consider that trip, by the way. A bus to Lake City, a train to the UW, a train to upper Fremont followed by a bus to lower Fremont. About as cumbersome a connection as you can get in the north end, but still extremely fast compared to the current options and much faster than with Ballard to downtown.

      That is really the key difference. With Ballard to UW subway plus WSTT, the only trip that is significantly slower than a Ballard to West Seattle subway is Queen Anne to Ballard (assuming nothing is done to the Ballard bridge). Every other trip is either much faster (Northgate to Ballard) or marginally slower (Ballard to downtown). It’s just transit geometry.

      1. “I seriously doubt anyone will round the horn to get from Ballard to the UW that way.”

        I always thought it would take less than the 44, so it was good to time it. Of course with the 44 you often wait ten minutes for it and then it’s packed and takes longer than that. But still, I thought Ballard-downtown-UW would take less time. Part of it is the two minutes longer from Westlake to UW compared to ST’s earlier prediction, and part of it must be Ballard being so far in the northwest corner.

      2. Yeah, it is a surprisingly long ways. It is easy to think of it as an equilateral triangle, but it isn’t. Ballard to the UW is very short compared to Ballard to downtown or even UW to downtown.

        But the biggest difference is the number of stops. U-District to downtown has very few stops, which is why a trip from Ballard to downtown via the UW is relatively quick. Meanwhile, with the SDOT proposal, the plan is to add plenty of stops along the way from downtown to Ballard, making it relatively slow. I went into similar math as you in a previous version of my “Fast Train to Ballard” post here:* I got almost exactly the same numbers as you (24 minutes plus a transfer).

        It should be noted that this transfer would be random. This makes it different than the UW to Ballard line, which could be timed, even if it wasn’t a spur (

        *I can’t seem to access old versions of my posts, so I used the Wayback Machine.

      3. Ross,

        How many people want to go from 15th NW and Market to the U-District in one of the peak hours? Between 7:01 and 8:04 (including the starting and ending times) there are seven buses which leave Ballard and Market (the previous time point) eastbound. Assuming they’re all artics and stuffed by the time they cross I-5 that’s at most 700 people in the peak direction. Seven hundred people! And most of those got on at one of the intervening transfer stops.

        The Ballard to UW transit market is simply not worth worrying about. SDOT claims to have plans for improving the 44 to “RapidRide Plus” which should improve the experience for most of those riders. As always with “BRT” we’ll see how the souffle comes out of the oven.

        But even in the wildest dreams of an increase of five times the ridership by capturing all the current Ballard-Downtown ridership on the 40 (6 buses over the same period) D-Line (9 buses) and 15/18 expresses (12 buses), there would only be roughly 3,400 people in the peak direction. That’s simply not enough to justify the costs of a five mile subway.

        In an even better-case assumption that current ridership passing through Central Ballard would double — a significant growth considering that Ballard is pretty much built out in the multi-family zone — it’s only 7,000 people per hour in the peak direction, barely into surface LRT volume territory. At quadrupling you get into subway territory at 14,000 pphpd which would justify a subway, but then you really do start to tread on North Link’s capacity toes without Ballard-Downtown.

        It’s a Catch-22. Without diverting everyone currently traveling to Downtown from the Ballard Bridge north you don’t have the ridership to justify the costs of a subway. With diversion and significant organic growth you move into the range of overloading The Spine, assuming that ST’s projections are in any way reasonable.

        I do agree with everyone that the twenty-four hour total ridership to and from north of Northgate is probably seriously inflated. But the commuting hour peak will be huge, because of the rapid growth of southwest Snohomish County. So while “off-peak” diversion via UW makes a lot of sense, there will still be Ballard to Downtown peak demand which cannot really be accommodated by diversion in twenty years.

        And SDOT might make the 44 a reasonable trunk line. Maybe a three-lane car tunnel between Stone Way and I-5 under 50th is the infrastructure piece that would allow 45th to be largely dedicated to transit.

      4. And also, you argue that the number of stations between Ballard and Downtown makes taking the train from Central Ballard to the UW too slow. Well, you (and everyone else) want to make the “Metro 44 Subway” a “real in-city” subway, with stops in Central Wallingford, Aurora/Fremont, and Eighth Northwest. It probably makes sense to have one right at the freeway as well, since the area directly to the east is booming and the housing between Latona and I-5 south of 45th is pretty marginal. It too could be replaced.

        So that’s six stops between Central Ballard and U District eventually, including the transfer station, and another two between there and downtown. Total eight. From Central Ballard given the current plan and including Harrison and the Whole Food Station® there will be seven to Westlake, including Westlake itself and three back to U District. Total ten; grant that’s two more, but it’s not as dire as you make it sound, and that includes two tentative stations.

        The number of people traveling to Downtown Seattle through Central Ballard in any 24 hour period except fall Saturdays is likely always to be at least twice that traveling to the U District. The longer travel time should be assessed on the smaller group, and in the ST/SDOT proposal Ballard is likely to become a very popular place for people working in SLU to live, especially should the Harrison Street station be adopted and the streetcar line you advocate be included. That would not be true if you force a three seat ride on them via UW.

      5. @First Comment

        I’m really confused by your third paragraph. You talk about a five mile subway. What subway would be five miles? You also talk about no market for Ballard to downtown service. In which case, why build a light rail line to Ballard? Are you basically arguing that we shouldn’t build a light rail to serve Ballard?

        Looking at the number of people who ride the 44 at peak (or almost any other time) is pretty much useless because at peak it is faster to walk. Any time, day or night, it is faster to drive. Do you really think speed has no effect on ridership? Really? I’m about to head from Pinehurst to Fremont. I’m driving. It is just way faster. Guys like us and Booth just don’t exist, I guess.

        Oh, and ST’s projections are in no way reasonable. Of course they aren’t. No one else, anywhere gets those sorts of numbers for runs like that. Ridership will very quickly to the north, as you get into increasingly suburban land (it always does).

        Meanwhile Ballard is growing and will continue to grow. The region that can grow and can benefit from this line is huge and growing. A trip from Greenwood to the U-District benefits from this. So, too does a trip from Greenwood to Capitol Hill. Even a trip from Greenwood to downtown could work — a one seat ride is more likely, but if you are headed to any of the downtown Link stations, then it makes sense to transfer early.

        Look, I don’t know how to be more clear. Cities that have followed this model have succeeded. Cities that don’t have not. Build a system designed to get everyone from one place to another and lots of people take transit. Build a system that only favors a handful of destinations and you fail. By the way — if you are going to do that (pick a handful of destinations) then the UW should be on that list (being the second biggest urban center in Washington, according to Sound Transit).

      6. @Second comment — You are the first to suggest a stop at I-5. I think that is unnecessary. Where exactly would you put the station? Latona? That would hook into the handful of buses that go there. But those buses can easily turn on 45th for that small segment to Meridian (less than 2,000 feet). Hell, you could walk it. If you are walking from the other side of the freeway, Brooklyn is closer everywhere west of 7th. There are no buildings west of 7th and the freeway. No one will support a station there, even the biggest fans of urban spacing.

        Which means the commonly accepted spacing (in Seattle Subway’s map) is the way to go ( All the numbers (the two minute penalty) as well as Mike’s numbers (which confirm it) are based on that as well as the SDOT route (the favored route for Ballard to downtown). Feel free to question the math ( but please avoid making up shit. It just wastes everyone’s time.

    6. I live in North Fremont and am thinking I gave up on Ballard-UW a long time ago…have mixed feelings on its benefits vs. Ballard-Downtown from a regional perspective, but no question the east west line under 46th would be much better for me and my home value.

      In the meantime, I will continue to live with the E to get downtown, and hope the eventual tunnel completion and road re-knit in South Lake Union doesn’t screw up my travel time too much, and hope against hope for some better evening / night service which would make the line actually useful to me. For getting to Ballard, well, there’s always driving or Uber.

      1. From an overall network standpoint, Ballard-UW versus Ballard-Downtown is not an easy choice. A second tunnel through downtown provides great benefit. But the choice between a Ballard to West Seattle subway and the combination of the WSTT and a Ballard to UW subway is surprisingly straightforward when you do the math. The latter is better for way more people.

        One of the big reasons is that getting from Ballard to downtown via the UW is only a couple minutes slower than if you go there via the Ballard to West Seattle subway. Meanwhile, accessing everything south of Ballard is done just as well (if not better) with the WSTT (better because of higher frequency). The E would run through the same tunnel, providing a fast means to reach South Lake Union (and a new bus that would go east-west over Aurora once Bertha is finished). The only trip that would be significantly faster with a Ballard to West Seattle subway would be a trip from Ballard to Queen Anne (because of the Ballard bridge). On the other hand, the combination of WSTT and a Ballard to UW subway covers a broader area, and enables much better bus connections as well as connectivity to the existing light rail line (e. g. Northgate to Ballard).

        I go into this in painful detail here:
        As well as this comment:

        You aren’t alone in thinking that when billions are spent for the next phase of Link, you will still drive or take the same old bus (even people in West Seattle feel the same way).

  5. I’m sorry, how can a station that requires riders to walk across the train tracks win a design award. If they had found a maraculous way to not require users to cross tracks… maybe (like by building stairs/ramp where the platform is?)

    1. It’s really kind of amazing how we can spend so much money building monstrosities like Roosevelt Station while at the same time cutting corners in strange ways such as this.

      1. …spend so much money building monstrosities like Roosevelt Station while at the same time cutting corners in strange ways such as this.

        The Roosevelt neighborhood has the time, money, and constituency to have Sound Transit to listen to it and to get ST to spend the dosh on a pretty station. Judkins Park / the Central Area as a whole does not. I’m not sure what the CD did to royally piss off Metro and Sound Transit planners but it’s definitely feeling personal these days.

    2. Yeah, I was confused by that as well. The article didn’t really explain *why* it gets the award. I mean, if they’re going to just slap a station in the middle of a freeway, I hardly call that innovative or worthy of a design award.

  6. Has it been decided yet, how many years Ranier Freeway Station will have to be closed while the new Judkins Park Station is under construction? This is likely to add at least a half-hour the commutes of people who currently walk there to catch the 550 to Bellevue, or the 554 to Bellevue College.

    1. East Link construction will take over the I-90 Center Roadway in the summer of 2017, so it probably wouldn’t be earlier than that. It is probably possible to retain the Rainier flyer stop for some time since the station location is to the east of the flyer stops. What I’m unclear on due to not having seen the station plans overlaid with the existing configuration is whether station construction will force an early closure of the westbound flyer stop. There are three elements in play here: the pocket track west of the station, the required taper of the tracks approaching the station due to the center platform, and the west station entrance. Not knowing how these all fit in the footprint makes it difficult to guess how they could sequence things. The contractor will need access too, and I’m not sure what is planned for that.

      In the best case, I would guesstimate a 2-3 year closure (starting in 2020ish). Worst case would be a 6 year closure (starting in mid-late 2017) during the entirety of East Link construction and testing.

      1. The station will span the full distance from Rainier to 23rd and requires removal of one of the overpasses that currently carries bus traffic (westbound, I think). My guess is that the flyer stops could remain open when the floating bridge work starts but they’d have to be closed once construction from IDS to Rainier starts.

        60% design PDF

  7. In lieu of Eyman’s recent (hopefully) unconstitutional minority rules initiative, what would the constitutionality be of an initiative requiring any changing of simple majority vote rules to have 90% voter turnout and approval?

    Considering he always weasels in his initiatives in historically low voter turnout years, that would put the kibosh on any more attempts.

    1. That would be great although the threshold is too high; the highest turnout recently was 84.61% in 2008. The bigger problem is you’d need a constitutional amendment to require that. Perhaps a better amendment would be to require any change to majority provisions to pass by that same threshold, for example a 2/3 supermajority provision would need to pass by a 2/3 supermajority at the polls. However that would also require a constitutional amendment. I don’t see any chance of an amendment getting out of the legislature.

      Article II Section 1 (sub d) specifies “Any measure initiated by the people or referred to the people as herein provided shall take effect and become the law if it is approved by a majority of the votes cast thereon: Provided, That the vote cast upon such question or measure shall equal one-third of the total votes cast at such election and not otherwise.”

    2. It’s been mentioned lately that that for the Washington State Legislature, no legislation can pass without a quorum. With many organizations, no business can be conducted without a quorum.

      A perfectly reasonable precedent for any initiative as well, and likely a permanent cure for Tim Eyman and everything he stands for. Though until legislation requirement is passed, citizens can establish the same thing by voting in every election, off-year or on.


    1. I recently saw a report where the news crew drove from London to Paris in two different cars, one hydrogen and one electric, both leaving at the same time. Hydrogen was the clear winner both in terms of time and frequency needed for refueling. We’ll probably be seeing a lot more hydrogen vehicles in the future. Still, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be investing in both technologies. Each has their own pros and cons.

      1. You mean like since Dow Constantine build a lot of charging stations he should built the equivalent number of Hydrogen stations?

        Or that since Metro is testing two battery buses they should test two Hydrogen buses?

        And that since Jay Inslee describes himself as “green” he should follow the RCWs for installing fuel cells according to the laws or Washington state?

        Or that blogs like STB which have featured many articles on batteries should also have articles about fuel cells.




      2. Nobody has ever come up with a plausible scheme for refueling more than a dozen hydrogen cars, each hydrogen fuelling station costs a million dollars and can fuel fewer than 10 cars per hour, hydrogen is much more expensive than electricity if produced by electrolysis, and it’s much more polluting if produced by steam reforming.

        But you know that.

      3. Hydrogen’s “con” (in both senses) is that it not only requires hydrocarbon inputs (e.g. methane or “natural gas”) it also requires enormous amounts of energy to heat and pressurize it sufficiently for the “reforming” reaction to occur.

        Now if hydrogen were actually created in the Seventh Grade Science Book way (electrolysis using solar and/or wind generated electricity) that the fossil fuel monopolies always show it, it would be great. But that beautiful vision is about as likely as John’s vision of 38 story towers rising in Kennewick.

    2. It would be better to focus on hydrogen buses than hydrogen cars. Even with hydrogen cars require an enormous amount of road space and parking space.

      1. It would be best to focus first on hydrogen as a stationary storage medium for existing electrically powered transit systems.

        Maybe two years or so ago there was an article in one of the industry publications (Mass Transit? Railway Gazette? Metro Magazine?) that said that several metro systems (ie heavy subway systems) had reduced their energy cost by about 40% by using capacitor storage systems at their substations.

        Now imagine what could be done with a much less capacity constrained energy storage method. Something like the trolley bus line up Queen Anne Avenue, where buses going down the hill could generate power for buses going back up the hill at a later time could produce some really nice energy savings.

  8. Potential ST3 Seattle configuration, given a 25+ year plan:

    Ballard->DT, DT->WS(given)

    Ballard->UW, with stop in Fremont, Uptown->Cap Hill, with stops in SLU

    The new downtown tunnel would hit Belltown, Downtown and First Hill on its way to the WS line.


    1. The stop in Fremont is a bit fuzzy though. Some folks favor down by the canal, some folks favor “North Fremont” with a potential transfer to Aurora buses.

    2. I agree with Charles. That is the one aspect of a Ballard to UW line that isn’t obvious. I could go either way, but I lean towards upper Fremont, so that it can connect with buses better (not only from Aurora but from Greenwood). You would want fast, frequent service from Fremont to a station. Which station is not obvious, either, because lower Fremont is broad as well. Straight up Fremont Avenue makes sense, but cutting over to 8th is not bad either (bound to be pretty fast, could easily get its own lane and cover a fair amount of Fremont). On the other side of Aurora (Fremont Brewing, Brooks) it might make sense to head to Wallingford. This would pick up the apartments on Stone or Wallingford Avenue (which includes one of the office buildings for Tableau). A bus restructure would be fun and interesting, unlike the restructure surrounding Capitol Hill, which was bound to be a zero sum fight.

      But back to your original question: Thoughts? OK, first, it is extremely dangerous to build things out of order. If you don’t keep building, you have something that is just not very good. It also costs a bunch of money along the way. If we end up with Ballard to WS rail and nothing more, we spent a huge amount of money on not very much.

      Uptown->Cap Hill should keep going to First Hill, Cherry Hill, 23rd (Jackson or Yesler) and on to Judkins Park and Mount Baker. Transit geography, network effect (with buses) and all that. That would pretty much cover the entire Capitol Hill/C. D. area (as well as South Lake Union and much of Queen Anne) with good rail stops connected to frequent and fast buses. The same would be true for a Ballard to UW line, as it would take care of the area north of the ship canal and west of I-5. Those two subway lines should be built along with the WSTT. All three should be built well before we talk about building Ballard to UW light rail and certainly before West Seattle light rail.

      Bitter Lake to Lake City (up to 145th) remains a possibility. It is fairly short, so grade separation would be relatively cheap. Areas along there are fairly dense and growing. That would make for a very nice east-west connection at the north end, with connections to buses coming from suburban areas to the north. That would definitely get built after the “big three” (WSTT, Ballard to UW, Metro 8 subway). It would probably be BRT (or some level of enhanced bus service) for a while without it being too detrimental (just as Vancouver has a BRT line that they want to convert to a light rail line).

  9. Need to go from the stadium area to Seattle Center tonight. I’m going to hop on Link with my ORCA card, get off at Westlake, and then… try to find $2.25 in cash to ride the Monorail!

    Any progress on ORCA for the Monorail?

    1. Last I recall seeing they were trying to see who was going to fit the bill for the readers at each end, and overcomplicating things with the rollout of new ORCA tech in the coming years (deciding whether to hold off for that or not).

      Honestly seems like it’d be pretty simple to me … but there’s always more to it.

    2. Monorail integration would be nice. In the meantime, you could try boarding bus 26/28 near the stadiums, get off at Denny, and walk a few blocks to the Seattle Center.

      1. If you’re getting off at Westlake anyway you could exit out to 3rd and take the 4 (which I guess is also the 3 now) or the D Line, 1, 2 or 13, depending on what side of Seattle Center you need to get at.

    3. you can take the 3 or the 4 from 3rd and pike, or the 1, 2, 13, D and 36 to get to the other side oft he Seattle Center

    4. Thanks to all for the bus routes – I’ll check those out as soon as I know exactly where I’m supposed to be from my wife. I guess I’ll leave the monorail ride for some other time since I have no cash anyway.

      1. Easiest directions for the most choices & frequency: From downtown, every bus directly to Seattle Center stops on 3rd at Virginia. Take whatever comes first: RR-D, 1, 2, 13 and 29 (peak) go to west side of Center; 3, 4 go to east side. Other buses that stop at 3rd & Virginia will get you to the base of QA Avenue at Denny (ie a longer walk): peak routes15,17,18, all-day routes 19, 24, 33.

  10. Is there a logistical reason why sound transit can’t begin using 3 or 4 car trains when u link opens during rush hours? Kinda crowded already…can’t imagine how packed the trains will be once the other stations open!

      1. Well maybe after a few months of crush-loaded two car trains, sound transit will realize they need to lengthen the trains sooner than 2021.. I thought maybe there’d be problems with the buses in the tunnel or they didn’t have enough train sets.

    1. I believe the plan is to mix a few 3 car trains but keep mostly 2-car trains until new vehicles start arriving in ~2020. 4-car sets will be reserved for special events. I’ve long wished they’d go to 3-car trains every 7.5 minutes (24 railcars/hour) )instead of 2-car trains every 6 minutes (20 railcars/hour), which provides 20% more Link capacity while improving DSTT operations by reducing Link tunnel slots.

  11. After seeing some complaints about taking Link to the airport in the past Link posts, and since I took Link to SEA this morning, I was wondering if there’s ever been any discussion of enclosing the Link station and the breezeway walk into the terminal?

    As someone who flies at least twice a month and takes Link every time (living downtown helps), I think the hate for the open-air walk along the parking garage is dramatically overblown … but the open nature and distance from the terminal seem to be a major turn-off for many. Would be great to see ST and the Port Authority to come together and at least partially enclose the station or the walkway into the terminal. Would do a ton for the optics of riding Link from the airport, especially for visitors.

    I think it’s a fine distance to expect people to walk, and about 9 months out of the year it’s no issue, but those other 3 months where it’s 30 degrees and/or raining sideways it’s a subpar experience.

    1. It has been batted around here before, but I’m not aware of any plans in the works.

      Theoretically it seems like a quick fix, though knowing the PoS it would cost a ton. However, there could be some issues around the ventilation of the garage. I assume it isn’t mechanically ventilated given the wide open spaces. Screening off one side might reduce the natural ventilation effect on that level.

      1. Hm that’s a good point, I didn’t think about the parking garage. I’ll take a closer look when I come back into town tomorrow. Surely some sort of enclosure — or any sort of protection from the elements — could be built on the open side of the breezeway without hurting ventilation …

        Like I said, though, i don’t honestly see it as that big of an issue. Plenty of airports don’t have a perfectly seamless indoor transition from the terminal to the public transit station. This is hardly Link’s biggest issue. Just seemed like something (relatively) cheap that the Port Authority could handle.

    2. Ask the Port for it; it’s their property. Supposedly it will be redeveloped when a new terminal and hotel is built, someday.

      1. Yeah I’m really not holding my breath on it. Let them finish the new runway and keep the airport generally functioning and we’ll go from there :P

    3. Making an indoor hallway out of the edge of a parking garage is well within technology and budget. Moving walkway wouldn’t hurt either. Comparison with other airports tells me that Sea-Tac is overdue for a make-over anyway. But this one shouldn’t have to wait on that.

      Mark Dublin

  12. Hey, Glenn. Are Portland Police just keeping it under wraps that the SWAT team is about to rescue Elliot’s family from the city officials using them to blackmail Elliot?

    Because I can’t think of any other reason that a kid who looks that smart would write about closing stops to speed up streetcars, and simultaneously post a pic that proves what’s really welding streetcars to the rails. Or has Donald Trump become the mayor, and, naturally, nobody wants to talk about it?

    Fits the facts. So Portland needs to admit the fact, allowing the country to brace itself for next week’s declaration that the picture doesn’t show all the Muslim immigrants in the streetcar’s way. Though it’s a lot more likely that he’ll demand that the Cascades be held at the state line, until we figure out what’s going on with Seattle.

    “Streetcar line with only one wire? Sheesh! They’re making me look too smart to have this badger on my head!”



    1. You’ve heard it said that one photo is worth a thousand words. I think the photo shows the actual opinion of the writer.

      1. Oh man, thanks for the warning, Glenn. I’ve been warned that my sarcasm numbers will soon send me to the farm team. So real danger signal not to recognize this priceless talent in another author.

        Also, absolutely great idea about using regenerated electricity to power other vehicles. But I remember Metro turning off the installed capacity to do this- the MAN 4000 fleet I’m pretty sure.

        As with DSTT dispatch signals and kneeling capacity, around 1981, discarding valuable features that cause extra work is more or less signature Metro, old one and county both. Thousands of dollars worth of fountains and clocks too, if memory serves.

        But thing that gets you credit is reviving the Queen Anne counterbalance- possibly incentive to the IT community not to be scared of machinery, but just take the pulleys and gears out of it.

        Industrial carpal tunnel syndrome and high-fructose corn syrup consumption are a lot easier to fix than contact with sharp spinning things made out of metal.

        Though maybe if we extend the First Hill Connector up Queen Anne Hill, we might get historic transit credit by putting back the wheeled underground weight-wagon that balanced the old streetcars.

        Not sure I want to be in shrapnel range of a down-bound training car. But hey, might be good to have both the digital and the mechanical counterweights ready to go into service on the First Hill line, until we can get the missing trolley wire up there.


  13. Sounder? Landslides?

    Hell, down here MAX in Gresham got closed east of the Ruby Junction Shops due to a sinkhole.

    1. I just took a walk up at Flaming Geyser Park…the Green River was running brown and pushing up the banks into the playground area.

      1. Leaks at Beacon Hill station always smell like sulfur- and crews tell me they’re warm. Since our part of the continent is essentially a volcano, maybe we can start financing transit with Beacon Hill Hot Springs!


  14. Uber Will Launch a New Carpooling Service in Seattle on Thursday

    The new option in the Uber app, called uberHOP, will take vehicles full of people between set points during morning and evening rush hours for a $5 flat rate per ride.

    Anyone using this should get a subsidy from Metro, same as if they were riding a bus.

    This is the plan I proposed…in 1993.

    1. Capitol Hill to downtown, Fremont to downtown, and Ballard to South Lake Union.”

      Capitol Hill to downtown in a carpool? How useless. But Ballard to SLU will probably be popular. They should also look at routes like CD/First Hill to SLU Mercer Street, where the regular transit routes require a longish walk at one or both ends.

    2. Überpool sounds expensive and these routes are already in dense areas with good transit. Interested to see how this will work out and if it becomes popular. If they use it everyday then it’s about $200 a month which is cheaper than a parking spot but more expensive than transit or vanpool. If this attracts workers who usually drive solo, then that’s great. If this becomes popular with current transit riders, then that’s too bad because it’ll just add more cars to the traffic problem. Or it’d be cheaper to start a vanpool and drive it themselves if they want to commute with a car full of people.

      I feel like this service might be better in a suburban office park setting with subpar transit.

      But I don’t think metro should subsidize this private service at all.

      1. Well you have to add in the quality of the ride and not having to make all the stops to let people on and off.

        But why not subsidize it? If it has the effect of bringing down traffic and keeping people out of using private autos? I mean, what is the point of transit anyway?

      2. Hi John – I think I’m against subsidizing this because Metro already has their own car sharing commuting program. Metro has a limited budget so why should they subsidize a for-profit service. Maybe the employer can subsidize it, but not Metro.

        And we are not sure that this program will help traffic yet. If it replaces one bus with ten cars…that doesn’t help.

      3. There should be subsidized taxis in the neigborhoods for the last-mile problem, but they should have limited service areas. 6-person carpools is not as efficient as buses in areas where a bus can find more than six people, because several car trips takes more space than one bus trip. So this kind of thing should target trips perpendicular to regular bus routes or that require an awkward transfer.

      4. I think the service will be popular, and the riders will come from a mixture of sources. Some would have driven downtown in their own car or paid full price for UberX. Others will be people who would have taken Car2Go or transit.

        Overall, I don’t really care where the riders are coming from all that much, since, in the long run, more transportation options is a great thing for people who value being able to get around the city outside of a personal car.

        The fact that the initial rollout is with a small set of routes with proven high demand based on existing bus ridership is not a surprise, but basic business sense. If it proves successful, I could see it expanding to other routes where the time advantage of a shared Uber ride over the bus becomes greater. The hours of operation could also gradually start increasing, so that the service evolves from a rush-hour service to an all-day service.

        That said, I don’t think in-city private route like this should be subsidized by taxpayers. I’d be fine for subsidies for a shared-ride van service in low ridership areas, as an alternative to a giant bus at $150/hour carrying 6 people per trip. But for routes like Fremont to downtown, it’s fundamentally a premium service that serves as an alternative to the bus for those that can afford it, and the users, not the taxpayers, should be paying for it.

        Incidentally, Uber already effectively receives a subsidy of sorts, since, somehow, they don’t have to pay sales tax on their fares, while competing options (e.g. Car2Go, even Pronto) do.

  15. The actual design for Judkins Park station is not worthy of awards.
    Its got good access from 23rd, grim access from Rainier, and nonexistent access from Beacon Hill or Dearborn area.
    Feet first has put together a number of good improvement proposals, but nothing has been accepted, so far as I am aware.

    Its sounds like ST is getting credit for a difficult site, rather than for putting together a station that people can access.

    1. From my reading of the article, SDOT is getting an award to help them implement a plan to make some lemonade with the lemon that is the station placement. Given the alignment of East Link is going through the center lanes of I-90 though I can’t imagine the station placement in that area was going to be terribly accessible in the first place.

  16. So, now that the numbers are in, where’s the love for the Kirkland CKC BRT project?

    Tried in the ST3 post but nobody was willing to step in front of the bus. I’d thought Kurt Triplett was a smart dude but I guess the Ron Simms coat tails are only so long. I’d take the job and instead of $30k moving expenses be happy with a free bus pass. Oh wait, the people making the decisions have fancy cars and don’t use transit. After all, it’s for poor people right?

  17. Because Frank jinxed it,

    Yeah, early celebration after the first storm of the year before the ground gets saturated is, to use a sports analogy, celebrating a win at half time. That said, I think the money spent was worthwhile and hope it makes the line more reliable for freight and passenger service. After looking at the numbers for Sounder North and the WSDOT I-5 freeway count report I’m willing to accept that this commuter rail line might have legs. All I hope for is a realistic accounting of both numbers and expenses. As it stands, North Sounder is just assumed to be a waste even if the line isn’t shut down.

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