UW Station

This is going to be the biggest transit year in a while:

  • University Link opens, adding two hugely important stations to the system, sometime in the first quarter.
  • Metro massively revises service in Northeast Seattle in March to take advantage of Link and radically increase the number of frequent corridors.
  • Metro tweaks Capitol Hill routes in March to respond (halfheartedly) to the new Capitol Hill Station.
  • Sound Transit opens Angle Lake Station, with 1,050 parking spaces, in Late 2016.
  • Community Transit adds 33,000 3,300 service hours in March as a result of last year’s Prop 1, with a bigger one to come in September.
  • Pierce Transit adds at least 30,000 service hours in March September.
  • SDOT pays to split the RapidRide C and D lines, introducing new service to South Lake Union.
  • The First Hill Streetcar opens, sometime this year, we think – but SDOT won’t confirm anything.
  • The Edmonds Community College (S. 200th St.) Swift station opens in January or February.
  • Cellular service goes live in the Link tunnels.
  • CT opens a new park and ride west of Paine Field sometime this year.
  • ST Express and Sounder jump on the ORCA LIFT low-income fare bandwagon — joining Metro, Link Light Rail, Seattle Streetcar, King County Water Taxis, and Kitsap Transit — on March 1, one year to the day after the ORCA LIFT program went live.
  • Tacoma Link fares begin in September.
  • SDOT begins a ridership study to project the impact of integrating the monorail into the regional transit fare system, which would include honoring the PugetPass and a low-income fare.
  • The Sound Transit Board will almost certainly send Sound Transit 3 to the ballot in November.
  • A Seattle housing levy in November should expand the City’s housing stock.

70 Replies to “What To Watch For in 2016”

  1. I would add from the Great North by Northwest…

    1) The State Auditor’s Office will soon publish their latest audit into Island Transit. Probably by end of January.

    2) Skagit Transit likely will have some big announcements soon about strategic planning. Stay tuned.

  2. 2016 for FHSC seems like a sure bet now.
    From SDOT website on ‘Current Status’:
    “SDOT continues to monitor the assembly progress and will establish an opening date when the cars are closer to completion.”
    So I guess there’s still lots of wiggle room built into the schedule for the big grand opening ceremony and week long free rides. Maybe marching bands too.

    1. My guess. U Link and FHSC open at the same time, around the service change (maybe week before, maybe weekend of) in March.

    1. There will be a ULink Launch Party, but we can’t announce details until ST formally announces the service date.

    2. What about a “farewell to the 43” or “farewell to the old route of the 10” or “farewell to the 7X” trip?

  3. How is the monorail study only starting now? I thought they were going to study this many months ago?

    1. The study last year was to determine the steps necessary for the monorail to be admitted to the ORCA pod. This year’s study is to determine ridership/revenue impact.

      Presumably, ridership would go up substantially. But if the monorail or the Seattle Center budget is projected to take a loss, expect both entities to request to be held harmless on revenue loss, but get a piece of the action if the resulting revenue impact is a profit. Such terms could have been written without the ridership study, so I’m honestly not sure what purpose the study serves.

      The study is being insisted upon by Seattle Monorail Services and the Seattle Center, not by the ORCA pod. So, I’m all for just writing the conditions that they were going to insist upon after the study into contracts now, and get on with handing them their four ORCA readers. Once the study is done, I will probably feel less generous toward these two entities, including less willing to support the public paying for the maintenance while the monorail brags about its operating profit and foot-drags on joining the transit network.

      I do hope the ridership study, unnecessary thought it may be, considers increased revenue for the Seattle Center due to higher patronage due to higher monorail ridership. I also hope it takes into account the hit monorail ridership would take if a Ballard Link station gets built nearby.

      What would really be unfortunate is if the monorail is treated as irrelevant for planning Ballard Link Stations, due to all this foot-dragging on joining the transit network. Ballard Link ought to be planned around making use of Seattle Center Monorail Station. Please don’t waste this opportunity for us, SMS and Seattle Center.

      1. I would love to see the study include adding a Belltown station on the monorail. This would be the best opportunity for designers and engineers to study code compliance for such a stop. As it is not an extension of the monorail, I feel a new station would be an isolated issue for code implications associated with a retrofit of the entire line.

        I know the placement of 5th and Bell wouldn’t be ideal for those near the water, and most could just as easily take a bus to Westlake or the future LQA light rail station, but when traffic is completely backed up, a monorail Belltown stop would be most welcomed.

      2. Why is the monorail station relevant? Do you want to replace the station or the entire monorail? That would destroy a historical amenity and major tourist attraction. The only transit function of the monorail is to transfer downtown to go to the Center. We don’t need to support coming from Ballard and transfering at the Center to go downtown because they can just stay on Link to go downtown, or transfer downtown and go the other way on the monorail if they want to ride it. The monorail also has a use for those who live or park around the Center to commute downtown, but that’s no concern of Link, and the monorail is on the east side of the Center while Link’s station will probably be on the west side.

      3. Monorqil, by virtue of existence, is in the transit network. I take it all the time.

        It’s cool your employer gives you orca passport and you want to free load, but must we bring the only self supporting transit line into perma subsidy land?

      4. What are you talking about? I don’t have an ORCA passport, and I don’t see that anybody else in this thread does either. As for the monorail being in the transit network, of course it is, but what does that have to do with what should or should not be done with it or Link?

      5. The monorail is not self-supporting. It runs a profit on operations, but we taxpayers pay for the maintenance, whether we ride it or not.

        A lot of riders “freeload” on the buses to get to Seattle Center, simply because it is a free transfer. We’re running more expensive bus service than we have to because Seattle Center treats the monorail as its private playtoy.

        I’m convinced the taxpayers are getting burned by this privatization arrangement.

        If Link Light Rail did not honor the PugetPass, riders in the neighborhoods it serves would likely see it as a playtoy for the rich, paid for by the poor. The monorail is pretty much in the same boat.

        Since it is turning an operational profit, why not double the ridership by accepting PugetPass? It will make an even larger profit. Once the study is done, and thet profitability is borne out (not including all the money Metro could save, and the money Sound Transit could save by not having a station close to Seattle Center Monorail Station, duplicating the trips), the City Council may be less of a mind to guarantee the monorail’s current revenue stream and give it most of the profit. Seattle Center has lost sight of the fact that Seattle taxpayers own the monorail, and Seattle Center’s study will just weaken its bargaining position.

        The monorail needs the City Council to keep approving maintenance subsidies, giving we “freeloading” taxpayers leverage in getting our monorail back.

  4. This is going to be a great year for the Seattle area. I can’t wait until March!

    Any idea what we can expect in 2016 in progress on other ongoing projects? For instance, Madison BRT, rapidride+ planning, CCC, etc?

    1. And zoning/land use things, like Seattle2035, possible reckons at graham street, the u-district rezone (which, perfect timing, is going to come just after a construction boom in which almost all of the developable land got built to current limits)

    1. Thank you, Sam, for your typically negative post. It reminds us all that just because the completely artificial “calendar” has flipped to a “new year”, the same ages-old problems of trying to live together still beset humanity. Well played.

      1. Negative how? I provided no commentary of my own. I simply repeated the article’s title, then provided a link to the story. Aside from the it being free part, I thought many of the issues with the Atlanta streetcar reminded me of what the FHSC will face. And if you read the story, it wasn’t all negative, it was a mix of pro and anti streetcar sentiments. I made the comment because I saw some similarities between Atlanta and Seattle in starting to build a streetcar network.

      2. I went to graduate school in the South. And this may have changed, but at the time… you have no idea how much of a cultural loathing they carry, or at least carried then, for transit. Loathing.

        (And hate for anything, really, but automobiles, including motor scooters and bikes. I was quite intentionally forced off the road by a guy at a stoplight – we were stopped, I was on a motor scooter, he physically pushed me into the intersection and crossway traffic using his truck, all while screaming incoherently with rage at me for not being in an automobile.)

        But I digress. To them – again, in my experience, but it was very consistent – transit is for “bums,” “trash,” “homeless,” and “drunks,” by which they meant people who couldn’t get a driver’s license anymore because of too many drunk driving arrests. There was some tolerance for handicapped shuttle services, but everything else? Just imagine either dripping contempt or frothing rage about Handouts to The Undeserving. People were legitimately shocked and kind of horrified if I talked about riding the bus.

        And, of course, it shows in service. I tried to use their transit system – it was farcically bad. Hourly was considered good service. Rush hour got up to something like every 45 minutes. The busses themselves and the drivers were fine, but – you couldn’t get anywhere, and where you could get, you couldn’t get often.

        So that’s what transit has to overcome, socially, in the American South. I can’t say it’s universal, of course, but I ran into exactly this from Kentucky down to Florida. It was… amazing. (And I was _so glad_ to get back out of there and come home.)

      3. Dara: I wonder how much of the history of transit-hatred in the American South (southeast) is due to the history of segregation, and racism in general. I’m told that when the buses & trains were forcibly desegregated in the 1960s, the white racists stopped riding them, and any white person who used them was considered to be, well, a non-racist, and as such an “enemy”. Meanwhile, the buses & trains were made as bad as possible to hurt service to black people, and as a result developed a bad reputation among black people too.

        I’ve visited much of the country repeatedly but I’ve actually tended to avoid the South because it’s too disturbing. Every time I visit it gives me the creeps; it feels like I’ve wandered into a film about a part of the past I want nothing to do with. And that’s just due to the *sexism*.

        The boundaries of the culturally-creepy South are a line slightly north of Orlando (South Florida is not part of the South), the Mason-Dixon Line (on the north end in the east), the Ohio River (on the north end in the Middle), a line running somewhere through Missouri and Kansas, and the western border of Texas and Oklahoma. There’s no real sharp cultural dividing line, of course (there are huge fuzzy areas where it can feel like the Deep South on one block and like the rest of the country 10 blocks away). Migration is slowly mixing things up too. But bluntly it gets worse the closer you get to South Carolina.

        This *really doesn’t seem coincidental* since it tracks so closely with the distribution of slavery and the Confederacy.

      4. Nathanael: Getting into the details would be well beyond the scope of this or any other transit blog, but I’ve actually been back for visits since – my partner Anna has family there. And everything social and political has become so much worse. Enough that neither of us want to visit anymore.

        Which is, of course, well beyond the scope of this blog in general, so I’ll stop there. But don’t expect any sort of positive attitude drift – at least, none that isn’t generational.

    2. The problem with streetcars is if the line is too short, doesn’t run with enough frequency and isn’t located in a dense enough business district then it will always get a bad rap and most likely fail.
      It took Portland’s streetcar 14 years to go from 4000 riders to 15000 riders. Portland now has the distance and once it increases frequency and adds business density to the east side it should reduce its subsidies substantially.

    3. Atlanta has the least density of the large cities. It should focus on more urban villages, especially around more MARTA stations. The existence of a slow-as-walking streetcar, with or without fares, is irrelevant to the city’s needs or potential.

      1. Great article in Sunday’s Washington post about just how catastrophic transit access and urban planning is for poor people in Atlanta’s suburbs, which as Atlanta gentrifies, is where more and more poor people end up. Car centric Urban planning literally keeping people in poverty.

      2. This article.

        Then there was a woman a year or two ago who lived in a garden apartment on a suburban highway where the nearest crosswalk was a mile away. She went shopping on an hourly bus that ended at 7pm, and when they got back she was too tired to carry her children a mile to the crosswalk and a mile back, so they jaywalked and the son ran ahead and was killed by a car, and she was arrested for endangering her son.

      3. Also in the Washington Post: Transit is the next civil rights issue of our time. “The particular [light rail line in Baltimore] would have crossed the city from east to west for 14 miles, connecting neighborhoods with high unemployment and low car ownership to jobs centers downtown and on the city’s edge.”, but the governor canceled it in favor of “roads, highways and bridges outside Maryland’s largest city.”

      1. Thank you “poncho” for the link, I will read shortly. Much appreciate you, whomever “poncho” might be, thinking of us.

        [That said, I do welcome and appreciate folks dropping silly monikers and trading them for the goodness of your real name.]

  5. 2016 looks promising except for the ST3 ballot. I wish they would start from scratch on this with Boeing, WS politicians and Seattle Subway all being neutralized and forced to the sidelines. With the momentum in public transportation’s favor I think ST3 is going to snuff out the flame.

    1. How do you recreate the momentum and cross-institutional cooperation if you start again? You can’t build something with regional support unless you have all the regional entities on board as ST does, and if you try to recreate it you’d just get the same “Spine destiny” voices. You can probably get something different with just Seattle’s money, but that will hit a tax ceiling unless you convince the state to loosen the restrictions. And even if you did, that would only solve the mobility problem within the city, but people have jobs and ties outside the city too. As for a new regional plan that focuses on the city, in our political system you can’t tax the suburbs without giving them co-control, and if you do that they’re going to want to have projects in their own areas, as ST already has.

      1. A reliable train every ten minutes is more useful to people than an overcrowded, unreliable, and less frequent 512 or 550, so that right there shows it’s not crap.

      2. >> that would only solve the mobility problem within the city

        Which is by far the most important mobility problem in any city like this. Solve the mobility problem inside the city, and people from the suburbs can take a bus or commuter rail to the city. If you don’t solve the problem in the city, any amount of money you spend trying to improve the latter is destined to fail (as it has so many times before).

        >> people have jobs and ties outside the city too

        Which can be served quite well with buses. Once the ST2 work is done, I really can’t think of any place outside the city that isn’t better off with buses and a little paint (changing HOV 2 to HOV 3).

      3. It’s a matter of priorities and long term subsidies. I’m sure if we ran a line to north bend there is an element that w ould be very thankful. But…..

      4. A line to North Bend would benefit the thousand people who live in North Bend. A line to Everett would benefit the tens of thousands of people who live in Everett, plus the thousands of people who go there for work or other reasons, and the thousands of people who live beyond it. They’re not comparable. And North Bend is beyond the urban growth boundary.

        There’s a legitimate argument that Seattle can make better use of transit infrastructure, but it’s not 100%/0%. It’s a gradual tapering off. And buses are not adequate when they’re unreliable, overcrowded, prone to traffic blockages, and only sometimes frequent. The need for trains beyond ST2 is less but that doesn’t mean it’s zero. To me if the powers that be want trains to Everett and Tacoma, that’s great. If they want frequent buses from Lynnwood and Des Moines, that’s great too. But if the leaders and the public want trains there’s no reason to push hard to dissuade them, because it would be better to have a seamless network rather than a fragmented network with built-in delays.

      5. It’s fine for everyone to want a train, but people should manage to get on the same page and understand who in-city transit is serving, namely more people than intercity transit.

        If you’re coming in on a train from Everett, you probably want to be able to easily get to Ballard, Lower Queen Anne, etc., right? Some of the people you’re visiting probably live in such places.

        Public officials seem to understand this in LA; everyone wants a train to their own locality but everyone also wants to get to Santa Monica, so everyone supports the train lines to Santa Monica. They seem to understand this in Boston; everyone wants a train to their own locality, but people everywhere want to go to places in Somerville and Cambridge, so public officials support the Green Line Extension. It’s not that complicated really.

    2. Well, we wouldn’t want a grass roots advocacy group advocating on behalf of the city, now would we??

    3. I’m stoked about all the parking. 1050 free parking spaces aren’t enough. Can we rename them Sound Free Car Storage?

    4. Personally, they need to shift from major capital to major operations expansion. Extend LINK to federal Way, Add all day every day sounder service, implement new BRT lines in Pierce County, Double ST Express service, add parking and start charging for it. not gonna loose there. At least Sound Transit is getting a good track record for delivering projects on time without major problems, after the first LINK fiasco.

    1. I certainly would like it if all the transit agencies from Bellingham to Olympia (aka the I-5 Transit Spine) used the same fonts… I am working this weekend on a document for Skagit Transit CAC that uses Humanist 777 – the same font Sound Transit currently uses.

  6. I clicked in the ST3 link and “Wow! Did MegaHard twist ST’s arm to make their website unreadable on Chrome?” Grant , I’m using an iPad right now, so one more level of corporate jealousy, BUT…

  7. Add to the list trolley buses with no trolley. I was just walking across the bridge by Husky Stadium and a 43 went by….. with the trolley poles lowered.

    1. Yeah, I saw a 12 running east on Madison the other day, in revenue service, with poles down. Cool.

    2. Headline for March: “Metro significantly improves northeast Seattle service, worsens east Capitol Hill”.

      1. My neighbouring Madison Park residents and KC Metro had a chance to get it right, then stuck their collective heads in the sand at 24th and Madison. Would have been so helpful to be able to get to the U vial Cap Hill Link, to get to Group Health, and Miller Field and Community Centre and more. But no, we’ll continue to slog along Mdaison to Pine and then wriggle our way down Pine Street to Nordy where we can get Link.

    3. My trip to King Street Station involved a 36 with the poles lowered. The driver got out to put them back up as I was getting on. It looks to me like they are using the batteries to avoid slow speeds through complex overhead.

      1. Stopping the bus, having the driver get out and repole the bus sounds a lot slower than going slowly through a few feet of some complex overhead.

      2. I don’t think it was just a few feet of wire. The 43 seemed to be going 1/2 a mile or so, through several intersections and over the Montlake Bridge with it’s poles down. The place where the 36 stopped to re-wire it would have had to stop anyway due to the traffic light cycle it got caught in.

        So, if they do this when the bus has to be stopped anyway, it might work out.

    4. Might also be about just using the batteries so they continue to work. If you keep a laptop plugged in all the time you will kill the battery and it will get almost no life when you do use the battery.

      1. For a vehicle with big, expensive batteries like a bus, it could be a good tradeoff to spend some money on the charging system to manage the battery system intelligently. For a bus like the Proterra all-battery bus, the smart electronics can be built into the charging stations and could work differently for the fast charge on the road compared to the slow charge at the base. For example, the slow charger could (optionally?) discharge the battery before doing the charge.

        And of course, battery chemistries differ. Ni-Cads are notorious for the memory effect. I don’t know about the various Lithium types, but I think at least some of them are better for that.

      2. Battery management systems aren’t that expensive and every production electric car except the earlier models of Nissan Leaf (sigh) has a pretty good one.

  8. Here’s another thing to look forward to with the C Line heading to SLU: bus lanes in SLU!

    Though we continue to throw gasoline on the tire fire of traffic congestion in this part of town by permitting more and more office parking to be added with each new building, at least transit will finally get a little relief, if only on one street.

    1. Less of an issue in residential buildings in downtown as its less parking and more car storage to be used on the weekend for a road trip. Agreed, office buildings with parking are the real problem

  9. “Community Transit adds 33,000 service hours in March as a result of last year’s Prop 1, with a bigger one to come in September.”

    According to CT they are adding only 3,300 service hours in March.

  10. Housing levies add insignificant amounts of housing. And then only a lucky few benefit.

    Far, far more important to keep making it easy and cheap to build more housing. That benefits everyone, and not just the lucky few. And not to add fees to building new housing to again benefit just a lucky few and hurt everyone else.

    1. Its actually a joke bordering on racket. They build in the most expensive parts of town and the units cost about 3/4 of a million each to build. $50 million doesn’t go far, its about 60 units in one building.

  11. So many years go by as we watch Link being built and then one day the new station is simply open and anyone new to the area would be forgiven for thinking it was always there.

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