Seattle Transit Bus and Light Rail Tunnel at Westlake Center downtown Seattle underground.

This is an open thread.

158 Replies to “News Roundup: Neighborhood Veto”

  1. 1. Can anybody think of any reason not to take the Green Line under Denny Street?

    2. Though, not that it matters, can anybody really seriously predict by 5000 people what the ridership on any life will be in fifteen years?

    3. Do workers in any other industry besides Lyft and Uber need to get city permission to unionize?

    4. How dare the Port of Seattle resist paying workers $15 an hour. Will that let anybody afford the rent under one of the Port’s own bridges?

    5. Why isn’t somebody resurrecting the Industrial Workers of the World? It should certainly be on the Historic Register. Time was when one black cat painted anywhere on company property would start showing workers some respect!

      1. “made up for ICs”…..for now. That’s the point of the debate, as I understand it: IC’s, employees, other?

      2. Whether or not Uber drivers are independent contractors or employees is a question that will likely become more contentious. Ultimately, the state can decide to classify Uber drivers as employees and require that minimum wage laws are enforced (and that payroll taxes are collected). Uber can make the claim that its drivers are independent contractors but if L&I, ESD and the DOR decide that state laws define the relationship is an employer/employee relationship, Uber will have to comply or challenge the ruling in court. But the bottom line is that whether or not the drivers are employees or independent contractors will be decided by an interpretation of state laws, not by Uber.

    1. I hate to keep beating the drum, but would someone in STB (Erica?) try to interview Kubly. SDOT probably considered a Belltown stop and weighed pros and cons–it would be interesting to find out their thoughts on the matter. The only things I can think of is that another stop is that it adds more time to the commute (2-3 minutes?) and the cost of digging in Belltown might be too much (including complaints of disruptions of traffic, business, etc.).

      1. I can tell you what someone from SDOT told me at the Madison brt thing told me that they aren’t considering a Belltown stop in any case because of the sr99 tunnel

      2. I don’t think there’s any mystery to it. Like it or not, light rail is about getting people to jobs, and SLU is where the jobs are and where the job growth is predicted to be. Residential neighborhoods like Belltown play second fiddle.

      3. Light rail is about maximizing all-day mobility. Getting to jobs requires transit at two ends, not just one end. We should serve the highest-density job areas and the highest-density residential areas, and also encourage areas to be both simultaneously. I’m not saying Belltown is must-serve, but beware of assuming that future growth will be denser or better than existing known density.

      4. There are plenty of jobs in Belltown, too. There may be more around Denny, and the folks there may have more influence, but it is largely a flip of the coin. Belltown has the advantage of being farther away from Westlake. Assuming a stop at Denny and Westlake (as SDOT has suggested) then you don’t get as many riders with the addition of that stop (a lot of riders are just as well off with Westlake).

        I would say the big advantage of going to Denny and Westlake (which I hesitate to call “South Lake Union”, since it is closer to Westlake Station than it is the lake) is that you can add a station on Aurora and Thomas. Such a station would provide for good service to buses headed from Aurora as well as buses headed over Aurora. Once Bertha finishes digging, Thomas would make a great east-west bus route (possibly through the Seattle Center, if the city would be so bold). That would serve South Lake Union much better than the other stop (at Westlake and Denny) and be far enough away from the Westlake station to gain almost all new riders.

        It is worth noting that the WSTT would have both this station (at Aurora and Thomas) as well as a Belltown station. The WSTT would also have the Uptown station as well (and all the other stops on the surface that the train would). The combination of stations would likely serve the region much better than the stations that would be part of Ballard to downtown light rail. Add in the fact that the Aurora bus would connect to the station without a transfer as well as the increased headways of buses and it should be obvious that it is the better project.

      5. “I don’t think there’s any mystery to it. Like it or not, light rail is about getting people to jobs, and SLU is where the jobs are and where the job growth is predicted to be. Residential neighborhoods like Belltown play second fiddle.”

        Um, West Seattle is a job center?

      6. @mdnative – I don’t think it’s really about job centers for West Seattle. It more about a lot of local politicians living there and neighborhood groups. Belltown isn’t organized enough and doesn’t have Amazon, hence no light rail for them.

      1. Somebody tell me the address of their union hall. Except the Wobblies-Industrial Workers of the World-are now in one real danger.

        “The Bosses”, which is what they always called the villains, in those days and some other times for very good reasons, will paint Arab head-dresses on all the cats, and say they’ve been radicalized by ISIS. And on the workers too!

        Another historic tradition. During the First World War, the Bosses, I mean Employers, called them German sympathizers. After the Armistice, they became Bolsheviks.

        Another fact of those days, incidentally, is that many small shopkeepers were socialists too. Possibly because not only was Fox News unavailable, a lot of them did not speak English. Facebook was called fire-escapes with laundry lines across alleys.

        There was quite a lot of streetcar transportation. Neither cars nor rails “light” in any sense. Whose independent contractors in those high-collar brass button coats that were really business suits, occasionally negotiated illegally with the Bosses and their stooges, I mean office-holders, with barrages of quaint pavement.

        I’ve recently had work done by a couple of “independent contractors” whose pioneer spirit owed to the goodness of their employer, who understood that if they got paid enough to buy a two dollar parking sticker, the whole amount would only be spent on drink.

        I was also told that some current contractors are also free from the crushing burden of a home. So I think enough small business people know enough English to know what “The Next Crash” means that…

        The City Council had best repave Pioneer Square with lawns. Like the first song I learned on the guitar when I was fourteen said: “Joe Hill will never die!” (Look him up.)


    2. It’s Denny Way of course, and I the Urbanist suggestion sounds like a winner. There’s proven existing density south of Denny Way, and proven towers-in-the-park around the Gates Foundation. A Seattle Center station on one side is as good as one on the other, since people’s destinations are all over the Center and they’re used to walking to them. The entrance may not be completely obvious from the station but a sign can fix that. (And hi Anton!)

      1. I agree with your last point. A station on one side of the Seattle Center is as good the other. Uptown serves both the Seattle Center and the neighborhood. The monorail also serves the Center. Given all that, we really don’t need another station by the Center. It also means that ridership will suffer because of the location of the station (the Center eats into it). If the station was a couple blocks south of there (say, 1st and Cedar) then it would be a much better station. I’m not saying a station at third and Denny is bad, just that it isn’t great.

      2. It’s an interesting idea, for sure. Looking at the nearby zoning, the Urbanist’s plan clearly wins out ( 85, 125, 240, and 400′ vs. almost all 85′). My question is, what does bus transfer from the Aurora lines look like when the highway 99 tunnel is done? Does anybody know if the Rapid ride E, the 5, etc. will be slogging through traffic and/or have ugly entrances/exits from the new 99 routing to get down to the current 99 and Denny?

        If they don’t, then the only question is time spent for the extra curves and added stop. Also a bit whether the CCC extension up to Belltown is dead – with dedicated ROW, that could actually be a good solution, I believe.

      3. Thanks for the info Mike. In ST3 materials?

        Admittedly, poor word choice on my part; I meant to ask if the CCC-Seattle Center branch would survive the suggested green line routing, or whether we would say Belltown is served sufficiently by the green line.

        I like how the CCC pairs with the original routing to cover the whole area well; it isn’t as great with the Urbanist/Denny way route, but it isn’t totally redundant, either (particularly because the green line goes down fifth and the CCC down first, which are not exactly at the same elevation through downtown.

      4. The City Center Connector is an SDOT plan, not ST. The ST project is just to get Sound Transit to pay for upgrading the existing streetcar lines as part of an extension. The ST project would not address a CCC Belltown line. Whether the green line would preclude it is unknown; you’d have to ask SDOT. I don’t think so because it’s a different transit market (1st Avenue to Belltown and Seattle Center) and the proposal assumed the context of a possible Ballard Link line. The issue would be how much 1st Avenue north of Stewart needs a line of its own.

      5. Thanks for clarifying. Yeah, I knew CCC as an SDOT project, I thought you might be implying that ST wanted to take it on. That makes sense (and it’s the segment north of Stewart on 1st that I was primarily asking about).

      6. That’s the second time that mistake has come up. Whenever I mention the CCC, somebody thinks it’s an ST project and wonders why they can’t find it on the list.

    3. #1: There are too many sharp curves on Link as-is, and will be even more in the future. IMO we don’t need yet ANOTHER sharp 90 degree turn at Westlake and Denny. Sharp turns are uncomfortable for riders and force trains to slow down.

  2. Convention Place is a bad deal all around. But I don’t see how Metro would be able to do a lot better.

    Any private developer that bought the land could easily have it taken via eminent domain for the Convention Center. I doubt any private developer would bother, knowing the land is coveted by WSCC.

    Moreover, the WSCC is not profitable. The annual report says it is, but the audited financials say otherwise. I’m going to trust the audited books. Should we really be doubling down on an unprofitable business venture?

    1. Convention Centers fall into that weird category of things that “stimulate economic activity” while not making money. Like sports stadiums. The windfall all goes to private business. So of course hotel operators are gung ho for an expansion of the convention center. But why do cities buy into this nonsense? I think it’s municipal competition – Portland has a bigger convention center than us, etc.

      1. Sports stadiums provide a cultural benefit to the city. The economic benefits are dubious.

        Conventions centers are promoted for their economic benefit (as you say). But what I don’t get is why we are trying to spur economic development in a city that is already booming. That makes no sense to me. There should be a focus on what type of development and what kind of jobs government policy spurs. It is one thing to give Boeing a tax break if they build planes here, because those are middle class union jobs. But the economic impact of a convention center is not so obviously beneficial. Given the high cost of housing in this city, the idea of trying to increase the number of hotels doesn’t seem so great to me. I suppose there are construction jobs in making the hotels. The hotels can also be converted to apartments or condos when the new convention center doesn’t bring in nearly as many people as they hoped.

        As long as the county focuses on getting the most money they can out of the deal (and doesn’t assume that this is a great thing for the area) then I’m OK with it. But they should treat this the way they would treat any purchase — the new owners might build something beneficial to the region, they might not.

      2. We’re currently turning down money because we don’t have a center big enough for large conventions or for all the small conventions that want to come here. The expansion is supposed to pay for itself in a few years. Expansion plans are long-term projects; this one started in the mid 2000s or earlier. The economy has changed the past few years, and that may or may not imply changing the Convention Center idea. But with the biggest economic change being a large influx of tech-related companies and jobs, I can’t help but think that leads to a higher demand for conventions. More local conventions means more local people can attend them without traveling. The number of downtown hotels has been increasing anyway, and even if the expansion requires thousands more hotel rooms, that’s not going to make much of a dent in citywide housing issues. The hotels might replace some highrise luxury apartment projects downtown, but they’re not going to replace housing in Rainier Valley or the U-District or Fremont. And some buildings operate as mixed hotel/aparment/condo, so they can probably convert floors back and forth as demand changes.

      3. When you say “we are turning down money”, what exactly do you mean? How much money does a convention center raise in tax revenue, as opposed to, say, a private office tower? If the point is to spur business, I just think this is the wrong time to do that. I know we could have a downturn, but the logic behind it is wanting. We are supposed to big huge projects to areas with very few people because the boom times are supposed to continue indefinitely. But at the same time, we need a bigger convention center because we need to spur business. Huh?

      4. What I’ll say about conventions, as I’m currently in a nearly vacant office because I decided to skip the chaos of the convention all of my colleagues are at: they can bring in a big fat wad of money, but they can also create a cultural dead zone.

        The convention I’m skipping is AGU, in which about 25,000 geologists descend on SF every year. That’s 25,000 people who need a place to stay every night and are eating out for three meals a day, and are there primarily to network, which means a lot of money on alcohol, not just food. And because these are professional events, a whole lot of these people are expense accounting it. That’s, I’d conservatively estimate, probably over $200 pppd going all into businesses whose primary expenses are local labor. For AGU, which is a five day conference, that’s ~25 million spent in the local economy. All by conventioneers who get around almost entirely by walking and public transit.

        The problem, though is that the world over, good restaurants, bars, and cafes rely on locals, who enjoy a place and come back, and shitty ones rely on tourists, who are hungry, don’t know their way around, and are always replaced by new tourists (suckers).

        For AGU, which is admittedly a whole lot larger than an expanded WSCC could accommodate, everything within a 15 minute walk of Moscone is mobbed at lunch, dinner reservations are very hard to get and you hear the table next to you talking geophysics even when you’re on the other side of town, and generally, you end up paying through the nose for mediocre food.

        So from an economic stimulation perspective, I think convention subsidies are pretty efficient. Not as long-term or anywhere near as equitable as investments in education or public transit – but probably more efficient a subsidy than the majority of what is done in the name of economic stimulus. But it comes with some degradation of the culture and sense of place of a place, and those have real (and economic) value too.

      5. Moscone is not a cultural dead zone, and neither is our downtown convention center. For a cultural dead zone, see the Santa Clara Convention Center or the Stevens Convention Center near Chicago O’Hare. And those centers don’t really cause dead zones; they’re just in dead zones, and make no effort to be pedestrian-oriented just as nothing around them is. The Moscone Center has an adjacent park and MLK memorial, and is two blocks from Market Street, so all the surrounding restaurants have a year-round clientele. And large conventions often have a catered lunch, so the people in the restaurants are those who turned down the lunch or bought only part of the conference package (and are thus probably local).

      6. It probably isn’t the rest of the year, but during the conference, it just totally paled in comparison to what I could find in any other neighborhood of SF. But, yes, downtown conferences are excellent for getting people walking on the streets in the area, and that’s a good thing for culture. But wherever I travel, I maintain and experience that you pay more and eat worse the closer you are to lots of one-time, desperate customers.

    2. The Times editorial is very important to expose, or at least mitigate, a backroom deal that may have anti-transit results. The SAM Sculpture Park/Waterfront is the perfect example of this situation. Various groups of elites push for their priorities without any personal interest/value in transit, and those elites responsible for transit either don’t value it themselves or don’t have the political power to stand up for their responsibilities.

      In the case of the Sculpture Park, SAM and arts/tourism elites hatched a multi-party deal to convert the Waterfront Streetcar Barn into a sculpture park, without securing a new operations center for the streetcar. Vague promises were made, but the deal did not include funding to construct a new barn and keep the streetcar running. The streetcar was killed, but silently through the back door, without any public discussion of the true ramifications of the deal.

      In the case of the convention center, the WSCC and hotel/tourism elites want to host more conventions. But the capital facilities must be publicly funded and justified to taxpayers. A low price for the land from King County allows the numbers to pencil out better. King County is under tremendous pressure to go-along, get-along with the economic development elites, and agree to a sale even if it hurts the interests of transit.

      Per the previous STB post on the Convention Center Station closure, Sound Transit was considering running short-turn trains through the transit tunnel when the buses are forced out. I think the mitigation plan proposed is reasonable, but it will have higher operating costs.

      Bottom line is that BEFORE the land sale closes, King County must:

      – Negotiate a price to purchase/lease/construct new bus layover capacity.
      – Determine the increased operating costs for King County and/or Sound Transit during the affected years, based on an agreed to/funded mitigation plan (vague concepts of what SDOT or ST might agree to in the future don’t count).
      – The land sale price should be somewhere between the sum of the costs above, and the highest per square foot sale cost of developable downtown land.

      1. The existing train-bus situation is also anti-transit, because tunnel operations keep breaking down due to overcrowding and poky buses. It’s not like we’re saving something really good if we keep buses in the tunnel and Convention Place Station open. At best we’re saving something mediocre.

      2. I have to keep this short as I’m writing from my phone.

        +1 to the person above that notes this is an analogous situation to the waterfront streetcar. Why does Metro keep getting its lunch money taken?

        To those who believe that the existence of dual ops is anti-transit, get a grip. As the editorial lays out, would greatly increased travel times for all tunnel routes, and increased operating costs, under financial resource constraints be pro-transit? Come on.

        I’ve pointed out in the comments here on STB the many issues with this “deal.” I will not repeat myself. The Times editorial page did a great job echoing with numbers what the conclusions I have already written about.

        The one thing still not covered is the relationship between Metro, ST, and the WSCTC regarding the 1999-era agreement to turn the CPS land over to the WSCTC. This was shelved after both the dot com bubble and ST’s collapse. What type of agreement occurred to postpone that transfer, and is it in play here. This seems to be a done deal, but I can’t see WSCTC strong arming the county this much without the groundwork having been laid 15 years ago and resurrected now.

        Finally, regarding “local conventions.” Very few local meetings of any size happen at WSCTC. They specifically target groups comin from out of town, hoping to fill up the surrounding hotels and restaurants with the convention goers.

        There are huge infrastructure issues with a convention center expansion. The Penny Arcade Expo is one of the few that draws a huge local crowd. As PaX has grown, so has gridlock. It was so bad that Metro had to route Capitol Hill buses off of Pike for two days this year. All those “locals” attending the convention… Many came by car and drove right to the WSCTC looking for parking. It was a nightmare.

        What is WSCTC’s mitigation plan for these type of impacts with a greatly expanded convention space?

      3. I attend traveling industry conventions, and while the majority come from out of town, almost half the people are from the local metropolitan area, because a lot of people will go to a local conference but won’t travel across the country for it. These are open topic-based conferences. Obviously a closed conference such as a company’s satellite offices getting together may not have many locals. With hotel-based conferences, the hotel may require a minimum number of rooms to be booked, but separate convention centers care less about that. When Stevens has a particularly large conference, it’s called a “city-wide” event and all the hotels participate. Otherwise only one or two do.

    3. Digging into the WSCC financials a little deeper, it gets even worse.

      Among the items listed under “operating revenue” is “lodging taxes for marketing.” Except taxes are not really operating revenue, they are taxes. Keep in mind that WSCC receives $55MM/year in lodging taxes yet only generates direct sales of $34MM.

      Not to mention WSCC doesn’t pay property taxes either.

      The subsidies are bad enough, but this Convention Place deal is really upsetting.

    1. It’s interesting that the renderings show only the back 2 doors being used at stations.

      Also, kudos to C-TRAN for going with interior bike racks. They’re super useful on Swift and should work well on The Vine.

    2. The feds pick up 80% of the cost. Wow. How much of our systems (ST, Metro or SDOT) is the federal government going to pay for? Follow up question (assuming it is much less), why? Is it because the federal government thinks these are a better value?

      1. Because its cheap.

        The feds are picking up a hefty chunk of the CCC project too. Most of our needs are just expensive and need lots of local money… there’s no more free subways being handed out, we missed that boat.

      2. The feds are picking up 80% of the cost of our subways? I didn’t realize that. How much of the Madison BRT is it picking up (since it will have much better outcomes for the money)?

      3. Sorry, I meant 80% of our streetcars. Are they picking up that much — or anything similar with Madison BRT?

      4. The CCC is getting more like 55% federal funding with another 26% covered by bonding ad revenue and the remaining money coming from miscellaneous other sources (I assume City Light is listed because they will do the electrical work for free?)

        Its covered on page 4 here:

        Our light rail projects have relied much more heavily on local sources (usually over 50% local instead of the other way around).

  3. The new real time LCD screens at Tukwila Int’l Blvd Link were installed over last weekend in the mezzanine, above the TVM’s. They’re currently just scrolling through OBA feeds for the bus bays (not useful information on the mezzanine level and redundant to signs down at the bus bays themselves), but ST said that they’re in test and that real-time train information is on the way. (ST also tweeted that test signs are at King Street and Bellevue TC.)

    1. And yet still no OBA feeds a in the existing tunnel stations or at Northgate Transfer center.

      Come on Metro, step up and do the right thing.

      1. I don’t know how they work there, but the off the shelf ones TriMet has only cost something like $8,000 to completely install. However, they also require a cell phone data link.

        Thus, they don’t work in tunnels.

      2. @Glenn, this is why they still have lan cables. Notice: They have working card readers in the tunnels… they also require an internet connection.

      3. The card readers are a different matter and are probably designed from the manufacturer to have a hard wired connection.

        I don’t think the displays even have a hardwired connection as an option. I’m sure someone makes one, but I am guessing they are waiting until there is cell phone coverage in the tunnel (which is in the works) so they can use the cheaper to install display that TriMet is using – or one like it.

      4. What is powering those TriMet screens? If it’s a PC it should be fairly easy to swap out the cell modem with a WiFi card or LAN. The signs need to be wired up for power, so why can’t they run the networking with it?

      5. Places here that have them usually have a light in the bus shelter already. They just add a connection to the existing light.

        I’ll see what more I can find out. However, they are little more than a flat LED monitor. I don’t think there’s too much space in there for a removable card.

      1. I see it is listing bays one at a time. With just eight route departures to list (Link to the airport, Link to downtown, A Line, F Line to Renton, F Line to Burien, 124, 128 to Southcenter, 128 to West Seattle), why not just list all 8 and not make riders wait for their bay screen? The bay info is not much help, anyway. The buses are all downstairs, and finding the bays still involves looking at more signs. Style should not trump function.

        But thanks, ST, for getting OBA up and running, hopefully in time for U-Link opening! I hope they will appear at all stations, and make the bus transfers that much safer. The DSTT stations may need multiple screens, of course, which means they ought to get multiple screens, not slow scrolls, snazzy as some designer might think that looks.

      2. There is a second screen, so you’d have only one bay hidden at a time. Not too bad in practice.

    2. And, in the meantime, Westlake Station still has the bad combination of no real-time information signs and no cell phone service. Which means even people with smart phones have no idea when anything is going to show up.

      1. Exactly.

        Where we need OBA most, you have no OBA access at all. You have to leave the tunnel before you can find out if you should take a bus on 3rd or if you should have stayed in the tunnel.

      2. @Brent it will next year, but not everyone has a cellphone. If OBA displays come to the tunnel when cell service does, all the better.

      3. There are lots and lots of bus stops now that have real-time arrival signs with far less passenger flow than Westlake Station. There is really no excuse for not having both – electronic signs and cell phone service.

      4. Seems like Metro could install wifi that only routes to ST/Metro/OneBusAway (and perhas a limited subset of other useful information) to provide transit information without needing the bandwidth to support providing unlimited wifi for all tunnel users who want to stream netfilx/youtube/etc.

      5. It’s silly to rely on cell or wifi when the signs are in fixed locations in facilities owned by the transit agency or related government. Just wire them up.

      6. The tunnel wouldn’t have had much data capacity into it when built.

        So, it’s a matter of getting out the jackhammer and making a trough in the concrete for a new conduit for the data lines. You’re not allowed to mix voltages in conduit, so it’d have to go all the way to the surface. Nearest ORCA machine might work too.

        So “just wire it up” can get expensive.

        That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done, but doesn’t come as cheap as a surface option where there is cell service.

  4. The Herald’s numbers are deceptive. They compare the whole Everett line’s ridership with the Paine Field to the Ballard Line rather than comparing the diversion’s ridership differential as compared to other Everett alignments.

    The implication being that a Paine Field diversion would have more ridership than Ballard and thus should have higher priority. This is clearly a false conclusion even if you only go off of Sound Transit’s estimates. It will perform even worse in reality.

    If Everett really wants a Paine Field diversion, they should get behind the ST Complete plan with everyone else instead of asking for subarea funds to be diverted to their airport economic redevelopment plan.

    1. The article is very sloppy. It talks about an employment “heat map”, but the link is to the organization that put together the map, but not the map itself. I would be very curious to see an employment density map of the region. My guess is that Paine Field is not that special. It is just too broad to employ that many people in a concentrated area. It is like Everett — 100,000 people is quite a few people, but not if spread out over 34 square miles. If you have ever been to a modern industrial plant, you get this. There are people spread out over a very wide area working expensive machines. But it isn’t as concentrated as a typical office. There is typically only one floor as well. Surrounding the plant is a lot of concrete (for people to park and for trucks to move heavy equipment in an out). My guess is that a typical hospital has higher employment density, as they are usually many stories high, and are often crammed in an urban environment.

      All of this suggests that the only folks who are really pushing for Everett light rail are business leaders who dream that someday Everett will become Bellevue and that light rail is just the ticket to get there. The question remains as to whether they will sucker enough of the tax payers to chip in for the scheme.

      1. Its got Boeing and a lot of spread out office parks. There is a lot of employment, but its so spread out that its really hard to serve with a train station.

      2. One solution for reverse commuters would be to buy an old beater car to keep at the P&R overnight. That way, when you get off the train, you hop in the car, and you’re at work a few minutes later. It’s actually quite elegant because the garage space is effectively free because it’s only consumed overnight, rather than during the day.

        Now, the only question is whether transit security will allow the practice…

      3. Again, I say: Bus network to feed the stations.

        I know Boeing is finally starting to work with the transit agencies to create more ridership, understanding the very real pressures we transit advocates are putting on this issue in kindred spirit if not companionship with transit leaders & transit planners.

    2. The number of jobs is meaningless without considering how close together are the jobs, how pedestrian-friendly is the area, and how many employees come from the direction of the rail line. Very few jobs will be within walking distance of the stations. So will everybody transfer to Swift or employer shuttles? Will there be employer shuttles? Why aren’t there employer shuttles now? Silicon Valley office buildings have had shuttles to Caltrain stations for twenty years, but what does Boeing have to Everett Station and Swift stations? The only employees who could conceivably use Link live (A) in Lynnwood or further south, (B) right in downtown Everett, or (C) in Marysville or further and park at Everett Station. Serving C with Link is of dubious merit, and the proponents have yet to prove that a large number of workers come from A or B, or would come from A or B if Link existed.

      1. Agreed, at least if there were already shuttles there would be ridership from day one.

        If this Everett line is built they will have to grow ridership from a nonexistent ridership base.

    3. Yeah, I think we are all in agreement, but that is why an employment density map would be useful (the one that the paper said exists isn’t shown, and that one may only cover Snohomish County). I would love to see an employment density map (especially if it could be combined with a population density map).

      I can look at a population density map and realize very quickly that Everett is ridiculous for light rail. If you alter the settings (as I usually do) such that the density layer is given priority, it is hard to even find Everett. It is obviously north of Seattle (which shows up clearly — in fact you can see the northern border of the city without looking at a street map) but Everett is hard to pick out. At first glance you think Lynnwood is Everett (north of Seattle with a few moderately dense areas). But then you have to head even farther north, and find the area with fewer moderately dense spots. It is just a ridiculously sprawling city, even by northwest standards. To think that a light rail line to the area makes sense and is being seriously considered just means that people don’t understand how light rail (and transit in general) works.

      1. Unfortunately, the whole spine idea isn’t data driven. It wouldn’t exist if it weren’t a political construct.

      2. @Brad at least splitting the spine is a bit more reasonable. Still doesn’t make sense to run light rail that far. Light rail attaching to heavy/high speed rail would make a lot more sense if we were actually that forward thinking. :-/

    4. It seems to me that the author intentionally attempted to misinform.
      And none of the spurs show a potential for serving as many as the 58,000 daily riders expected for the Paine Field route. West Seattle would serve an estimated maximum of 50,000 riders; Ballard about 54,000 and Issaquah, 15,000.
      My memory isn’t great, but I do have enough to remember that Ballard had better than that. Turns out to be comparing the upper bound of Ballards worst with the upper bound of Everett’s best. That is not a mistake.

      If we look at the cost/ridership of his preferred (pilfered?) alignment, 5b$/58kRiders, 86k$/rider, compared to the 2011 estimates for the 99 tunnel, 3.1b$/93kVehicles, 33k$/vehicle, this comes to mind.

      If I had to guess, he is trying to get local voters excited for something that is impossible. Once local are disappointed that they aren’t getting what they need, they’ll vote no.

      1. Ha, thanks for The Onion reference (if you love America, you throw money in its hole). Anyhow, there are a lot of problems with this modeling. First, it never compares alternatives. What if Everett just runs more buses to the Lynnwood station? My guess is that if you spend light rail type money on improved bus service you get a bunch more riders.

        Second, the numbers for Ballard itself are weird. What is with the asterisk in the Ballard report. The eye popping numbers (over 100,000) have this:


        OK, so what about the other half? Does this mean that the ridership difference is due to people making transfers? If so, we should be very suspicious, because bus to rail transfers have hardly been a strong suit of Sound Transit. Besides, where exactly are they transferring? To buses heading east, up and over Queen Anne, I suppose (oh, wait, there is a green belt there …).

        Finally, the modeling just seems wacky. You are supposed to get double the ridership because you go from a trip that takes 19 minutes to one that takes 23? I’m all for a fast ride, but that four minutes isn’t going to sway me, one way or another. Will it ever make sense to take a train from Ballard to downtown and then back north to the U-District? No. It won’t. It is just simple geography. But if you are headed to Bellevue or West Seattle, then what difference does that four minutes make?

        I really think that the Sound Transit modeling is incompetent or corrupt. From numbers that are ridiculously high for Everett ridership (with or without Paine Field) to Sound Transit’s dismissal of a NE 130th station (five minutes saved on a bus won’t add up to any new riders, but four minutes saved on a train adds up to 60,000 new riders). I really think it is time for an independent source to audit their modeling, given their huge failures in the past and obvious biases currently on display.

      2. And it’s comparing existing zoning when the studies were done, because ST can’t consider speculative changes that might or might not happen. That was before HALA, and before any further upzones we might eventually get in Ballard, and before any relaxing in single-family areas. Ballard has the people and the infrastructure and the willingness to take transit and walk everywhere, and any additional development will have the same percentage of transit riders or likely more. The Everett industrial area is not even considering more residents or walkability, so its transit mode share will remain weak like it is now. Everett won’t even consider a modest upzone on Evergreen Way where there’s tons of opportunities for TOD and a signfiicant ridership increase.

      3. @Ross

        Yeah, models seem dubious. But then again, I also wonder where some of the riders come from on Link currently, what with many of the link stops looking like this.

        And what is with Ballard numbers? I wonder if a there is some particular reason someone with power to get numbers fudged wants to make sure Ballard to Downtown is built.

        The thing is, the Herald editorial board didn’t say, ST’s numbers are wrong, these numbers make more sense, our numbers justify a $5*10^9 project, and our numbers show or project to be a better value than other projects. They simply lied about what ST’s numbers say.

        Actually they clearly don’t know much about transit, saying things like “…light rail extensions to West Seattle, Ballard and Issaquah, but each are essentially spurs to the main north-south spine…” which I’m pretty sure is 100% incorrect. But no matter how ignorant, there is no way to get the numbers they included without knowing their juxtaposition to be wrong… unless… maybe…

        This article highlights my three biggest complaints about modern politics. 1. Poor systems of information gathering and verification. 2. Inability to make meaningful use of numbers. 3. Dishonesty.

        At least with ST, we should be able to demand to see their models. They include some of it in environmental impact statements, like this one for Lynnwwod Link talks about screen lines and whatnot.

        @Mike Orr

        Right, and as has been discussed quite a lot on this blog, the whole spine thing is a little silly. At distances as far out as Everett, 55mph light rail with stops all along is hardly a reasonable way to get to Seattle. If Everett link couldn’t be justified with it being split at Lynnwood, it’s probably not worth doing at all.

    5. The population of Everett is up 34% over the past 20 years, which is a pretty tiny rate of growth, and includes lots of annexation. From this, PSRC is projecting that Everett will add 75k in population by 2040? That’s what ST is basing their ridership projections on, no?

      Even with that incredibly unlikely growth, I don’t see 25k of them riding the rails for a 75 minute trip into downtown. Or a 30 minute trip to Lynnwood. They’ll just drive. Or they’ll take the much faster bus. If they even exist.

      1. I looked around northwest Everett last summer in the old residential area. Half the houses look like 1905-era houses in the northern U-District and east Capitol Hill, while the others are new. But the streets are really wide and the setbacks are huge, like in Magnolia only with streets as wide as 10th Ave E. In other words, you could fit an entire house in the setbacks, on both sides of the street. All that space is why Everett’s population is so low, and if you go to Broadway it’s all one-story buildings. So Everett has huge amounts of infill space to increase its population, but it’s not using it. It’s only developing a little bit right downtown.

      2. Right. And until I hear a serious commitment from Everett to change that, I’m not buying this almost doubling in population with no serious employment center.

        But, even if they did, I just don’t buy the notion that they’re all going to hop on a train for a really long ride into downtown. That wastes another 10 minutes swinging by Paine Field, which they almost all don’t work at.

      3. From this, PSRC is projecting that Everett will add 75k in population by 2040?

        What’s the deal with the awfulness of their projections? They seem so utterly random I’m not sure why it makes sense for them to have any policy relevance.

        They seem to be mainly used when they’re convenient to someone’s prior preferences (rail to Everett, or the Ballard NIMBYs who’ve breathlessly informed me that Ballard has already grown more than it was “supposed to” by 2030), and they’re not much use beyond that.

      4. @djw as far as I can tell the projections are a bit more like quotas. Each city has agreed to take X amount of growth that will fit in their existing zoning. Getting people to want to live there is another story.

        I have seem movement towards folks moving into downtown Everett but almost no new development going on in the suburban southern stretch of Everett. Maybe that will change when the new Swift opens, but that remains to be seen.

      5. ST can’t just pick numbers out of the air, it has to base its routes on numbers that have some kind of legal backing or authority, which is what the PSRC is. The PSRC’s total population estimates tend to be right, it just has trouble distributing them. What it’s trying to do is give each city a minimum number of people it must acommodate, proportional to its existing population. And King County at least focuses more on job numbers than resident numbers, so Snohomish County may do so too. So the cities have their “quotas”, and they tell the county which neighborhoods they intend to put them in. When a neighborhood reaches a certain number of projected jobs, it becomes eligible to be a “regional growth center”. That then triggers ST to treat it as “must-serve” or “really should be on a trunk line”.

        ““how do you accelerate the rate of housing production by a factor of 5 in a built-out city?””

        By using the copious infill opportunities I mentioned above.

        “Attracting more growth is a bigger issue than just for the City of Everett because surroundings cities and unincorporated areas of Snohomish County will need to find ways to accommodate any shortfalls in Everett’s growth.”

        This is an important point. Shifting some of Everett’s growth to Lynnwood would be a better idea, but shifting it to Marysville or Snohomish or Canyon Park would be a worse idea.

      6. I believe the PSRC numbers are also the “targets” that cities agree to meet to absorb population growth. To someone like me, it’d be great for Seattle to just say “we’ll take all the growth”, which would make a better city and also set us up for most of the transit investment.

        But in the real world many people perceive a real cost in accepting more people; one rhetorical device against upzoning is that “we already have enough zoning capacity” to meet our growth targets.

        Conversely, suburban cities both (1) haven’t reached the inflection point where growth makes totally car-based models unsustainable; and (2) in many cases the full growth won’t occur in fully free-market conditions anyway. So it’s much less painful to go claim an aggressive growth target at PSRC, and it means you can get more infrastructure dollars.

        As ever, the root of the problem is Seattle anti-density NIMBYs.

      7. Thanks for the explanations, Martin everyone.

        It seems one strategy for improvement would be to not allow implausibly high targets drive resource allocation, but what do I know?

  5. Unfortunately, one of the people where I work insists on blaring the Lars Larson radio show. I don’t listen that closely but it is difficult to not hear it sometimes.

    Lately he’s been going on some tear about how the I-405 HOV 3+ lanes have increased congestion and are forcing people to pay tolls for roads they have already paid for. I was able to find one mention of this on the web here:

    In any event, he and his listeners are probably part of the force behind the anti-3+ HOV lane movement.

    1. Interesting. It does sound like something that would make for excellent ignorant talk radio. If you want evidence of the general public’s inability to think in a logical manner, you need look no further than HOV lanes. The fact that HOV lanes are sometimes opened up to the general public on off hours is a great example. If traffic on the off hours is light, then you don’t need the extra HOV lane. If it is heavy, then the added capacity of an HOV lane is needed. Not exactly rocket science, but plenty of people can’t figure that out.

      The same is true with this. The HOV toll lanes are crowded because lots of people are using them. A lot of those people are riding in buses or HOV 3 car pools. If you want to get rid of the tolling (and require HOV 3 the whole time) then be my guest. That would allow those buses and carpools to move faster. But if you move to HOV 2, or HOT 2, then you will have a lot more congestion there, and a lot less incentive to carpool or take the bus. Overall congestion (on all the lanes) will be higher. Analytical thinking is not the strong suit of most talk radio, I’m afraid.

      1. A good chunk of “carpools” is actually one person simply driving another person around. For instance, if you’re under 16, every trip you ever make in a car is technically at least a 2-person carpool. Similar with every trip made via Uber or a taxi. Or being driven to the airport by a family member.

      2. Sure, but rules our rules. That 15 year old doesn’t get to ride on the bus for free, so that person should count as a carpool member. The big question is where to set the number. It is obvious that a lot of our 2 person car pools aren’t working. They should be upped to 3 or 4 (3 seems to work fairly well). Some of them (like West Seattle) are probably fine as 2 (West Seattle has other problems).

      3. And a carpool used to be defined as 3+/car until they changed it to 2+ back in the 1990s. The rationale back then was that there was extra capacity in the HOV lanes, so going to 2+ wouldn’t congest them and hurt 3+ carpoolers or buses, plus rewarding people for 2+ carpools would encourage them, so overall a net win.

        If congestion has grown to the point where the lanes are no longer free-flowing at 2+, then the original rationale for lowering the limit is invalid and they should revert to 3+. Simple.

      4. David B. says

        And a carpool used to be defined as 3+/car until they changed it to 2+ back in the 1990s.

        Calling BS on this one. Lived here a long time and other than 520 can’t thing of anything that was 3+ prior to 1990. Maybe you’re referring to some obscure definition that had no bearing on reality but please tell us what HOV lanes were 3+ in the Seattle Metro prior to 1990.

      5. Maybe not long enough, Bernie.

        I haven’t been able to find any documentation online, and don’t quite remember what year it happened, but 3+ HOV was being questioned by the Legislature.

        I even remember commuting via the 236th St SW, and seeing people on the overpass counting vehicles in the HOV lanes. Shortly thereafter was when it was changed from 3 to 2 person carpools. (at least on I-5)

        This was before — The Internet, and before WSDOT was installing the traffic monitoring system.

        We need someone with some tribal knowledge from WSDOT to chime in.

        Does Mark Dublin remember what year that was?

      6. When they made the change (and this did happen); those of us snarkier students at UW Architecture called them “date-pool” lanes as reducing them seemed to eliminate the incentive to actually carpool rather than carry on with one’s normal patterns. There were definitely discussions about this in planning classes I was in at the time.

      7. 520 is an exception because it has so extremely little space, that it has been able to keep 3+ while most of them are 2+.

    2. When I visit Portland in April next year, I will make sure NOT to listen to Liars Larseny or whomever the windbag is. Maybe we should send Oregon Jessyn “No Referendum for Roads” Farrell in return for Jarrett “Human Transit” Walker, but I digress.

      1. It’s a northwest wide show I believe. From the call ins it sounds like he gets a lot traffic east of the Cascades in both states. Some station up there probably has him on.

        The good news is that he lives in Clark county and started radio in Tillamook so you can’t blame him entirely on Portland.

      2. Thank you, maybe Liars Larceny or whomever the windbag is can find a spine and a good pair and run for Governor in my state. I’m sure his anti-transit positions in 2016 would have some serious push back from the transit advocates here as much as water is wet.

    3. I see a few issues right now with 405 ETLs.

      1) The auxiliary lanes were taken in a few strategic locations, creating more congestion on the mainline.
      2) HOV 3+ has been liberally applied for 8 hours per day including non-peak directions. In all reality, the one lane sections needed these the most. 3+ is still needed from 3-6 pm though. I would imagine if they allowed 2+ free after 6 pm, that would lower the peak demand and spread it toward the later hours.

      The other issue with 3+ I see is how many people are now driving SOV versus carpooling because of the lack of that benefit? Would it have been better to have just another HOV lane versus turning it all into a toll facility? Would it be worth just keeping the HOV restrictions and just have the separate facility for those with 2+ and not sell trips or keep the limited access and build more direct ramps?

      I don’t have all the answers but these are things to consider.

  6. If I’m reading the SDOT article correctly, it looks like sections of Westlake will actually have right turns restricted so that the transit lane can function as an actual transit lane, rather than buses getting stuck behind right-turning cars. This is a pleasant surprise.

    1. Its some of the best news to come out of SDOT all year. I look forward to a much more efficient ride on the 40 next year.

    2. So, am I reading correctly that the southbound 40 is moving to Westlake?

      Is the stop in front of the Courtyard Marriott going away as well? If not, how are they getting the bus from the right lane into the left lane within half a block to make the left turn onto Westlake? It is not uncommon to see that left lane backed up all the way to Highlands Dr., mostly for people taking the left onto Valley.

      The deletion of the parking along Westlake between 9th and Valley is a great change.

      But the deletion of the southbound right turns from Westlake to Mercer and Thomas seems unnecessary. Having driven this route daily for a few years now, holdups from right turns at these intersections don’t happen very often. In my experience, the right turns seem to be a larger issue at Republican, Harrison, and Denny and are mostly caused by drivers waiting for pedestrians. This issue could be dealt with by a slight change in the signal timing, similar to the recent change for left turns from Union to 2nd downtown.

      On the whole, the changes in the northbound direction are definitely needed.

      But the southbound changes don’t make sense from my experience, except for the change north of Valley. Existing southbound traffic is wide open from Valley all the way down to Virginia.

      You can probably get 99% of the benefit of the southbound changes by only deleting the parking north of Valley and moving the 40 to Westlake.

    3. On any one-way street with a right-hand running Red Lane right turns should be banned and left-left-left be enforced. Especially if the street to the “left” (in the operating direction) is one-way the opposite direction.

    4. Also interesting, there would be no right turn from EB Denny to SB Westlake. That might be ever so slightly beneficial to the 8.

    1. “Way” sounds kind of snobby. But come to think of it, “Boulevard” would be better, except you’d have to plant trees on it. Which wouldn’t be a problem because since tunnel is underground, won’t be a conflict like on the Waterfront between trees and transit.

      Also: old French term for a well-dressed lecherous old guy with a snappy suit, a cane, flower in his lapel, and a pointy mustache was “Boulevardier.” Hard to come up similar French term for same character on a “Way.”

      That’s all.


      1. “Way” is the most common Seattle name for streets that don’t follow the grid. Denny Way is the edge of two different grids, and it just keeps its name further east. Yesler Way does the same thing. Madison Street is an the oddball, but it was built before the streets it goes diagonally through.

  7. I’m all for urban stop spacing, but having stops at both Westlake and Aurora seems excessively close.

    I’m also skeptical that the catchment map seems to completely ignore Denny Way’s significant grade east of Westlake.

    1. Yeah, I think that is the problem with that route. You want the extra stop because you want to be on Aurora, but you gain very few extra riders because you are still on Denny (as opposed to Harrison and Aurora, which is at least a few blocks north). To make matters worse, bus interaction is still dependent on Denny (which is a mess). Harrison or Thomas has the possibility of a bus route over Aurora (once the SR 99/Bertha thing is done) which would presumably be a fast, frequent bus (fast because you could easily grab a transit lane, since the route doesn’t even exist now).

      The catchment area is not only constrained by the grade, but by the Seattle Center. The Center doesn’t employ many people (and houses even less). Visitors don’t really care which side they go to, so any rider who got off at this station to go to the Seattle Center would simply mean one less rider getting off at Uptown.

      In terms of speed, the additional stop would make things interesting. If a true Ballard spur was developed (with a line that didn’t require a transfer from Ballard to the UW to downtown) and it had all the expected stops (8th NW, Aurora, Wallingford) then it would be faster to use that subway to get to Westlake (and beyond) than it would this thing. In other words, the “Ballard to downtown subway” would not be the fastest subway from Ballard to downtown. The Ballard to UW to downtown subway would.

    2. I like that Westlake and Aurora are closely served. Direct connections to two high-capacity corridors would mean great things for regional mobility in the next century. And the Denny Triangle area becomes less of a parking lot-rich area every day.

      1. Hmmm, I don’t know. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the stops, but just because there are stops doesn’t mean they are magically connected. If you are on a bus headed south on Aurora, and get off at Denny, will you then take a train over to Westlake? Of course not. By the time you reach the station, you could have walked there. Meanwhile, if you got off the bus at Thomas, you could have taken a bus on the surface and taken a bus over to Fairview without entering a huge tunnel.

        This is why the WSTT is just an elegant and effective idea. It is the opposite of the Mount Baker station. It actually encourages connections. Take a bus from West Seattle to Thomas, then get out, and take a bus along Thomas to Fairview or Eastlake. Or stay on the bus and be in upper Fremont in five minutes. Fewer and better transfers, with more frequent transit. It is what effective cities do.

  8. Glen,

    Re: Everything in the essay following:

    “The Portland region is expanding its already crowded stable of transit options…”

    Suggestion for bus livery: White fur, bunny ears, and pulling a trailer full of eggs the colors of Seattle’s new bus fleet.

    Suggestion for idea, and truth of a every single assumption in the above article: truck it down to Eugene, and spread it on the grass between busway tracks.

    Portland won’t need it because any pavement underneath the bunnies will grow its own grass in the cracks which large vehicles create in any pavement that’s judged to expensive to patch.


  9. Why do the express lanes only help by 4 to 5 minutes for buses? I thought it’d be the same as normal vehicles? Am I missing something..

    Hopefully the toll backlash will subside soon. i wish the tolls were on every freeway actually…or make them 3+. That should half my I-5 commute time! If we reduce HOV lane to 2+ like before, the lanes will be failing just as much as general lanes and then there would be no time savings in taking carpool or transit. Don’t they realize that? Why even have carpool lanes then.

    1. So just drop the toll access, then. I’m happy that HOV lanes exist, but I am not at all happy to see the spread of tolling. It may make all kinds of sense to transit planners in the abstract, but in economic/social terms it’s a big step in the wrong direction.

      1. I think ending the tolling would make sense. That was my objection in the first place. I think it is unfair, and if it ended, I would be happy. People would whine about the 3+ rules, but they would have a tougher case when you simply looked at how much more efficient it would be in moving people.

      2. A lot of people think tolls are rich vs poor. But I remember when the HOT lanes opened, I used and paid for it every day. And I made $11/hour in Bellevue at the time. So I wasn’t rich, I just valued my time more than others I guess. Of course if the toll was $10, I’d probably take the bus or use the toll lane only half the time.

        Some people have a philosophical problem with tolls and that’s unfortunate. It’s like you’d rather have everybody suffer with you in traffic than let others who wouldn’t mind paying to use the toll – and thus freeing up more space in your general lane…

      3. As long as there are ample buses running along the tolled corridor, driving it in your own car becomes a luxury, not a necessity, so I don’t have a problem with tolls. Even more so it’s not even the whole freeway that’s tolled, just some of the lanes.

        Even people who can’t afford to pay the toll every day, can still afford to do so when there’s a special situation going on that the absolutely cannot be late for. For instance, if you’re running late to the airport, and it comes down to either paying the toll or missing the plane, I think almost everybody would agree that it’s preferable to pay the toll.

        The idea of having an opportunity to pay money to save time is nothing new. In fact, one can think of the decision to buy a car and drive it in the first place as a choice to spend money to save time. So, someone who is philosophically opposed to the idea of tolls should be philosophically opposed to the idea of personal cars for consistency.

      4. Why is it a step in the wrong direction?

        Taxes are collected to build transit sytems, and then pay for part of the operations, with
        fares contributed by the users.

        Highways are built and operated with taxes, (the gas tax,) which is collected from everyone, with no ‘sub-area equity’ to ensure taxes collected stay with the facility they are ‘paid’ on.
        The toll is fair, since it is equivalent to the transit fare.

        I could get into more detail as to how little the Freeway drivers pay towards their commute, but you get the point. (We’d just be haggling over the price)

      5. “It’s like you’d rather have everybody suffer with you in traffic than let others who wouldn’t mind paying to use the toll”

        Yes, that’s exactly right. Our society is already stacked heavily in favor of rich people. Why should we offer them yet another option for buying their way out of trouble the rest of us can’t avoid? Let them improve their commutes by investing in better public transit systems instead.

      6. “The toll is fair, since it is equivalent to the transit fare.”

        Except that all transit routes have fares, while 99% of the roads don’t have tolls.

      7. I haven’t crossed Portland’s Sellwood Bridge since maybe 2004. I get nailed $35 a year in fees for the bridge. Much of the traffic comes from Clackamas or Washington Counties. They pay no fees for the bridge.

        The only problem I see with tolls is that there aren’t enough of them west of the Mississippi.

      8. The hellacious tolled-to-death nickel-and-dime-you every which way mess that festers east of the Mississippi is one reason I’m happy to be a Westerner. I want no part of that mess. We have historically been more egalitarian out here and I’m not keen to see that change. Let’s pay for our transportation infrastructure honestly and fairly, through taxes, and leave the maze of special privilege rich-people bonus roads to the status-conscious New Yorkers who seem so keen on them.

      9. So, it’s better to tax everyone else in excess in the region that never drive I-405 (and when they do, not during the commute hours), so that a select few can have an unfettered high-speed commute with their 500 sq. ft. of space.

        I think I can see who the privileged few are.

        In fact, the more tolls that get paid, the quicker the funds for the extra GP (non-tolled) lanes will build up, so you should be encouraging those upper-crusters to ‘invest’ more money.

      10. Tolls are *the best*. You haven’t experienced comfortable relaxed expressway driving until you’ve taken a toll road.

        If you don’t want to be tolled, you always have options. There are rural roads parallel to the tolled expressways. The tolled road bridges into Manhattan have untolled pedestrian / bicycle walkways, or you can take the subway.

    2. They don’t want time savings from carpool or transit. They want more free lanes, and it should be obvious to them that those won’t help speed that much.

      1. Well, new lanes will help, actually.

        Right now, there are two problems:

        The intrinsic one is that while a new lane actually does relieve congestion, its life-span is the problem. Roughly speaking, in normal circumstances (WSDOT probably has a more complex formula) that relief would only last about 5 years or so, to be filled up by population growth, and induced demand.

        The second problem is that WSDOT had the solutions for the corridor all figured out back in 2001. Add 4 GP lanes in each direction.

        They just needed the Legislature to figure out how to fund it…. which they would …if it meant no new taxes.

        Finally, after 15 years, one of the first phases of the project gets completed, and that wasn’t what was being assumed back then.

        The plans were based on the whole corridor infrastructure being completed by now.

        So, yes, in one respect, you are right…
        One new lane won’t help very much right now.
        Things are so far behind the curve, the full LRT build out in the corridor’s benefits are now looking downright economical.

        There needs to be a Regional Highway Vote, so that the highway backers can extol all all the virtues of building the original project.

    3. Here becomes a problem that could occur from suddenly making I-5 express lanes HOV 3+

      Right now only two places are unrestricted for SOVs, from mainline at Yesler, Eastlake/ Stewart, and Mercer.

      So you place the HOV restriction on at Mercer, what happens there? You bog down an already bogged down corridor which if the box gets blocked like it usually does, that new C line being placed there will become more unreliable than it already will be. Even with transit priority lanes down Westlake, no one can know about blocking the box at Mercer and how drivers will do it. It will happen.

      You place that on the mainline entrance, well then more people have to cram in which then delays buses from the south during the PM peak for more deadhead time. Then if the route has to use the mainline, that will get delayed because some routes still use mainline during the day.

      I would agree that it would be nice to make sure the facility is moving to at least Northgate and then restrict access at specific hours as needed but you are playing a balancing act where you would create unintended consequences from those actions.

  10. Mike,

    Wish I’d have had space to discuss relevant personal travel experience with some perfect examples of a Convention Center sans industry economy:

    Take an Alaska flight to Detroit and a Washington State Ferry ride to Bremerton. Then see which model you like better for Seattle.

    Mark Dublin

  11. Good for Valdez and Harrison keeping tabs on O’Brien. After sneaking a downzone into a procedural bill, he’s demonstrated he’ absolutely can’t be trusted to not advance the anti-housing cause when no one’s paying attention.

    That he’s still promising a neighborhood veto, even after the election demonstrated that he just isn’t that vulnerable to NIMBY challenges, suggests he really does support the anti-housing agenda on the merits.

  12. “Um, West Seattle is a job center?”

    Not really a job center, but a peninsula with limited entry/exit options and a vastly growing number of residents that have to get to jobs all over the Puget sound, and would like the right of way ease of commute that N-S residents will be getting with Link.

    1. Not sure that “vastly” is a good descriptor for the growth going on in West Seattle. Its certainly growing, but not on the same scale as is going on in the Link Corridor, SLU and NW Seattle.

      To be fair though, its got a heck of a lot more growth going on than is going on within the entire city limits of Everett. If West Seattle were its own city, it would probably rank higher than Everett in Population. Jobs are indeed a bit scarce, but West Seattle does have an industrial sector near Harbor Island.

      Long term Everett might have bigger growth potential (lots of very under utilized land) but in the short term West Seattle is more likely to generate enough ridership from the triangle and Westwood Village and White Center to make some form of HTC worth the investment.

      1. Not disagreeing with your overall point, but Everett has over 10,000 more people than West Seattle.

  13. its too bad metro and Sound Transit cannot build some form of structured bus parking/layover in SLU. I would think some of the 59x series buses would also be good candidates to extend into SLU where many of the downtown jobs are moving. Of course this would add even more time downtown for those buses, which is something else that needs to be looked at.

    1. Agreed. I think there should be a bus terminus/layover by MOHAI and the wooden boat center and then send a bunch more buses thru SLU from downtown via Westlake with a new shared bus-streetcar center transitway.

      1. Probably not the best of ideas for the 59x, solely for the MCIs and their slow load times (especially for the wheelchair lift). Imagine a streetcar stuck behind that.

      2. Buses like the MCI’s (high floor, one door only) are appropriate for Greyhound, not a real transit agency. Even long-haul express routes like the 594 spend a lot more time than you might think loading and unloading passengers. Enough that it actually takes the 594 about as much time to get from the north end of downtown Seattle to the south end of downtown Seattle as it does to get from the south end of downtown Seattle all the way to Tacoma. (Feel free to consult the schedule if you don’t believe me).

      3. High-floor buses are really only suitable if the time travelled between stops is at least half an hour.

    2. I’m not sure if that is because the MCIs are slow at loading/unloading (although I’m sure that’s part of it), however there is a lot of traffic congestion the 59x series routes have to wade through to get from one end of downtown to the other, especially at rush hour. I’m becoming more of a fan of terminating the buses at a terminal at the south side of downtown (or maybe one on either end) feeding into LINK light rail and than re-investing those service hours back into the service. the buses spend far too long slogging through downtown. The other option is making 3rd bus only and funneling most all the base service onto it where the buses can move through downtown fairly quickly.

  14. Ok. For the northbound 577 and 578, the 6th and Seneca stop just after the freeway, it only serves that stop in the morning peak, probably because it’s a no parking zone then. But off-peak, the first stop is at 4th and Madison and I am usually going to first hill. Is there any possibility of ST making that stop work off-peak? Even by just letting people off next to parked cars? It’s not even like there’s no precedent for this. The last evening trips of routes 193 and 303 at 7:40pm serve stops that are obscured by cars at this time that are normally clear because of bus-only hours (until 6), but for picking up, which is harder!

  15. I wish there was a STB Person of the Year award. I really do. It’s a tight race between Emmett Heath, Andrew Austin and Jennifer Gregerson for Person of the Year (that features and profiles a person, group, idea or object that “for better or for worse…has done the most to influence the events of the year” in Transit. Yup, Community Transit Prop 1 is the Story of the Year in my book.

    But that’s me.

  16. Ok I’m going to suggest something that has a bunch of reasons at we can’t and which will cause some groans, but I’m going to put it out there because I haven’t heard it yet: Belltown Monorail stop.

    Wait wait come back, hear me out for a sec.

    We are wondering how to serve Belltown with rail, and there is a line going right through there now. Let’s say we put a stop at Bell at that empty lot on the corner and where the glassblowing place is a cross the street, both under utilized spots, we could make a deal with a devoloper in exchange for a couple more floors of height to turn the 3 story on both sides of 5th into a station, we could get a stop in the middle of Belltown and right next to the new Amazon complex for little or no cost to the public which then links up to the regions major light rail hub.

    Like I said there is a lot of obstacles, the line is short, we don’t own it ( or at the very least it’s not part of the orca network) and of course, monorail fatigue. But gives some utility to piece of Seattle history, and can quickly and cheaply serve a neighborhood that looks like it is going to be left out in the cold for the time being.

    1. I’ll bite. Not knowing the area it sounds like you make a good case. It’s been decades since I’ve ridden the monorail. When you buy a ticket is it for a period of time, one boarding or what? If tourists can get on and off the more destinations the better for the Seattle Center.

      gives some utility to piece of Seattle history

      That part has me worried… Waterfront Streetcar :-(

  17. I honestly don’t mind the end of tolling on the HOT lanes, it must be nearly impossible to enforce HOV/T vehicles. Allowing any SOV, toll paying or not, into special lanes was a mistake in the first place which only further complicated the already ineffective enforcement of the lanes.

  18. Anyone have a Chase Freedom card? For the first time, local transit is being featured as a 5% cash back category for Q1 2016 along with gas stations.

    “Merchants in the Local Commuter Transportation category include regional operators of local commuter passenger trains, subways, metro, buses, taxis, and ferries. Please note that some merchants that provide transportation and related services are not included in this category; for example, national and international trains (such as Amtrak), airport shuttles/limousines, parking lots/garages, tolls/bridges, airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, vacation clubs, tour operators, and some municipal/government owned entities.”

    1. I do. The card benefits have deteriorated, but this is nice to see. It includes Uber and Lyft as well – might need to switch my default card to Freedom at least for Q1.

      Unfortunately I buy my transit pass via payroll deduction to get the tax savings so I won’t be able to take as much advantage, but still nice to see that Chase is interested in marketing to transit. Chase has a huge customer base in Chicago and NYC.

  19. Is there any rule that prohibits me from hanging upside down in the bus on my ride to work by hooking my legs through the hand strap loops?

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