46 Replies to “Podcast #8: Supersized”

  1. Would it be worth considering splitting Kirkland to Issaquah to serve more centers with a bit less frequency?

    A spur to downtown Kirkland from the ERC along 85th seems like it could serve both needs of Kirkland while making the best use of the ERC to get to Totem Lake. If we’re looking to spend money on the East Side to get better service, it seems like modifications like this could maje sense…

    1. I still think the best ST3 solution for Kirkland is to simply add a new bus route that goes express from downtown Kirkland to downtown Bellevue via 85th St. to I-405. If necessary, but lanes can be added to 85th. It is not necessary to use the ERC.

      1. That only works if you assume that the HOT/HOV lanes continue to keep buses moving quickly. If it fails to do so the BRT will also fail.

      2. The BRT’s speed limit will be 35 mph or less because you can’t barrier it off like a freeway without destroying the trail ambience and pedestrian crossings. So the maximum ERC speed will be the same as a significantly degraded day on 405. So the only time the ERC will be faster is when there’s an accident on 405 and traffic grinds to a complete halt or 10 mph, and in that case the buses can be rerouted to 108th.

      3. As current ST-range traveler- and car-driver, I think that any route that avoids a freeway is worth a lot. A car breakdown or the most minor accident can literally trap a bus for half an hour- with no warning. Or way to get off.

        Considering acceleration and braking time, only transit that can do that distance with any speed is the Norristown High-Speed Line out of Philadelphia:


        Might be worth thinking about for future express line from IDS to Sea-Tac, but Kirkland-Bellevue would cause a lot of falling accidents.

        Though might attract a lot of little kids who’ll vote a hundred percent for transit.
        And meantime getting to yell “hang on!” to grown-ups who really should not learn to do that the hard way.

        So a reliable direct 35 mph line would do about the same time. For close proximity to people, and a few stops, 25 mph straight 85th St.-and traffic-free line with SLU and FHS caliber streetcars is at least worth looking at.

        Not to say “no barriers”, but fence and shrubbery, not Jersey, might do it.

        Mark Dublin

      4. Kirkland already has a route to Bellevue that avoids the freeway. Two routes in fact – the 234 and 235. The problem is that these routes are glacially slow and the only way to make things substantially faster is to use the freeway.

      5. Transit buses aren’t known for traveling at fast speeds because they make frequent stops to make passengers. Even if there was so speed limit on the ERC it would be making fairly frequent stops.

        I-405 is a terrible place for transit, traffic clogged mess, also misses the main destinations and has no walkable development opportunities. I would take a bus any day on the ERC over I-405

      6. Even when the 234/235 don’t stop much they take half an hour to get from Kirkland to Bellevue, partly because of the detour to the South Kirkland P&R, partly because of the stoplihgts and turns on Northup Way that the detour necessitates, and partly because of the zigzagging east and west.

  2. Am I the only friend of STB who hates podcasts? I don’t have 25 minutes to spare listening to something I could read in 2 – 3 minutes. If there’s something important in there, then it’s worth the time to put it in a transcript for us. If it’s not important enough to type a transcript, it’s probably not important enough for me (or anyone) to spend 25 minutes listening.

    1. +1. I follow every blog post here and would be glad to read a transcript, but I’ve never listened to a single STB podcast.

    2. I rarely have time to listen either (although I think they’re not a bad thing to do), but I assume/hope most salient points will be covered in the comments by those who can listen to it (or participated in it). A transcript would be nice, but I do understand that’s time consuming. Perhaps a list of topics covered and responses by podcast participants to questions about those topics in the thread would work?

    3. Boy if you don’t have 25 minutes, you’re really gonna hate this episode, it’s about 85 minutes. :)

      Seriously, though, feedback taken. Judging by our download numbers, though, it seems like many people are getting value out of the podcast. My feeling is that podcasts and blogs are complimentary media. Having a longer-form dialogue allows for ideas to develop in a different way than they would in a written essay or blog post.

      Personally I like to listen to podcasts when I’m commuting, walking the dog, or doing various home improvement tasks where I can’t stare at a screen.

      1. +!00 – thanks so much for these podcasts!

        And I know this is anathema on this board, but another great place for listening to podcasts is when you’re (gasp!) driving an SOV.

      2. They are absolutely a great idea, and I think it’s wonderful that you all spend so much time and effort on them. My two cents was strictly about hoping that major points come up on the threads, either by commentators or through a bullet-point list. (Usually this seems to happen, so not really a criticism.) Some of us are old-school and prefer reading, and can do so much faster than listening. I think all forms of media are worthy of delving into to make sure the largest possible audience is reached.

      3. “Having a longer-form dialogue allows for ideas to develop in a different way than they would in a written essay or blog post.”

        Sure does and frankly we just need more PRO-TRANSIT CONTENT. The road bullies have their talking heads, we need ours.

      4. By introducing this piece as “Frank and Martin get together over a cocktail …”, one can only assume it’s going to be a slog; light on chatter, thin on substance. And I missed the “1” in the time code; not 25 minutes but an hour and 25 minutes!

        When I’m out and about, I like to absorb what’s going on around me — which means no earbuds to screen out the sounds of the city. Especially important when on a bicycle or crossing busy streets. I sometimes feel sad for the people so absorbed in their sounds they can’t acknowledge what’s going on around them.

      5. Any way you can add some video. Because like the saying says….you can start counting words to see how many pictures you need. On-site videos…. think how many individual pictures there are in a video!

        Seriously, I do think some video from STB , editors and readers, would be a very good idea. Haven’t cell phones done motion videos since before they were smart?

        Anyhow, just give us an address, and see how we do.


    4. Disagree. I love the format. They are able to nerd out a bit more and get into more depth than the average post. I spend an hour or two every day walking and that’s the perfect time to consume something like this. Love the long length too.

    5. Audio files are not accessible to the hearing-impaired, and other people can’t listen to the everywhere so they have to wait until they get home. At the same time, it takes three or four hours to transcribe an hour-long podcast word-for-word, and we don’t have volunteers to do that. So as a compromise, it would really helpful to have a text summary of the topics, viewpoints, and any new information when the podcasts is published on STB.

      Text articles like regular STB articles are good for explaining a complicated topic in an organized way. But verbal interviews or conversations are better for a rapid back-and-forth that communicates a lot of information in a short period of time and clears up any uncertainties, much faster than the written article-comment-reply cycle, and it also generates synthesized ideas that none of the speakers may have come up with on their own. So when I want to explain a complicated topic, I write an email or article. When I want to discuss a problem that I feel will require a lot of back-and-forth to get to the bottom of it, I call the person on the phone and we can accomplish a lot in a couple minutes. Neither technique can substitute for the other.

    6. I like it, and the content is only mildly relevant to me (ok, except that I enjoy the occasional cocktail too). It would take pages and pages to put the dialogue into the blog, and it’s already all been covered there as well as it can be in blog posts. A dynamic conversation about the subject matter just lends a bit more insight into what is going on.

  3. Keep the podcasts coming! Love the format. Great to listen to while on the treadmill or cooking dinner. I think the people that make the time to listen get a lot out of it.

  4. I love these podcasts (and many others to boot). I see plenty of people on the bus listening to something-or-other – for me, it’s almost always a podcast. Reading is great too, but I’ve always had trouble reading in a moving vehicle :(.

  5. I like them quite a bit. Great for listening to while on a bus idling in a general purpose lane :-D

  6. As of 11:27am it appears that nobody has listened to the podcast yet, because all of the comments are about the podcasting process rather than content in the podcast. So that answers the question of how many readers can listen to the podcast immediately. It also shows how many people would benefit from a text summary.

    Although, commenting on the summary may have a two-way tradeoff. Some people will want to be surprised by the whole interview, others will comment on items in the interview, others will comment on summary items without listening to the interview, and others will comment on summary items and then listen to the interview and wish to revise their opinions. So it will lead to a mishmash of commenting on the interview and commenting on the summary. That may or may not be a good thing. But overall I think the advantages of a summary outweigh the disadvantages.

    1. A lot of podcasts I follow aim to drop in the afternoons, so that people have them for their PM commute

  7. Ok here is a podcast specific comment.
    One reason and I think a big reason some people will vote no on a revenue neutral carbon tax initiative is they don’t trust government to enact or keep the off setting tax cuts. So no they won’t go for new ones. Most people have not spent any time considering if a carbon tax would do anything to address anthropogenic climate change..I do agree with Martin’s point (I thin=that initiatives don’t handle these types of issues well.
    I have been reading this blog for a couple of years and it has been a crash course in what’s really going on in transit politics and just why decisions get made or mishandled the way they are. And the podcasts has been a great and educational new feature here. So keep up the good work.
    I’m a former Downtown Bellevue resident who works in Eastgate and now live in the International District. I’m 100% a transit user as I don’t own a car anymore and hated to drive. Thanks to this blog I went door to door in my apartment complex trying to get Bellevue votes for Metro last fall.
    So again thanks for the good information here all.

  8. Seattle Opera offers free garage parking to season ticket holders. With the C line restructure Metro is turning a very long 2 seat ride to a longer 3 seat ride between West Seattle and Lower Queen Anne, Seattle Center, the Theater District. I guess after years of taking the bus to the opera I just might take up the free parking offer, even though it makes me madder then heck (they never offered free bus fare). A 3-seat ride home to West Seattle starting after 11 PM (when being able to catch the last local bus is questionable) and waiting on 3rd Avenue downtown late at night are not very appealing.

    It would have been easy for METRO to route the new C Line around Seattle Center to serve Lower Queen Anne, with a dedicated transit lane through the Mercer Mess to SLU, instead of just making it an express route between West Seattle and SLU.

    Pitchforks? No, just practical considerations.

    I am open to suggestions for cultural entertainment that can be experienced in SLU given the new C line routing. I’m a 65 year old woman who tends to the classical in musical tastes.

    1. No clue about SLU (sorry), but have you tried the Seattle Symphony on Third Avenue downtown?

      1. Yes, then I go to 3rd & Seneca/Spring for my C Line ride home. I prefer it to waiting @ 3rd & Pine, but still, 2 weeks ago I had a charming close range conversation with a gentleman, the gist of which was “I’m wasted” and “What’s your name?” I told him “Mrs. Dunn” to keep things on a formal basis. Most of these encounters are harmless, but…..

    2. The issue is what works for the most riders, not what works for one person. This is being driven partly to split the line to get more circulation downtown, partly to get more service into SLU, partly to connect West Seattle to SLU’s jobs, and partly to restore Ballard’s service to the south end of downtown (Pioneer Square). I don’t think they consider West Seattle to Ballard or West Seattle to Uptown a major ridership generator; the C and D were initially joined only because the RapidRide funding wasn’t enough for separate lines.

      1. Based on the “pitchfork” responses on the West Seattle Blog, it’s not just one person’s ride. You have to realize, after the bus cuts a few years ago, local off peak service between West Seattle neighborhoods and downtown was cut and never restored. Not everyone riding off peak is going to the opera, etc. many are trying to get to their jobs.

    3. Lots of businesses subsidize parking for their customers (even if it means directly subsidizing the fees to park in somebody else’s garage) and lots of businesses subsidize transit expenses for their employees. But I’m yet to hear of any Seattle business subsidizing bus/train fares for their customers.

      The Portland Zoo does this down south, but I’m not aware of any local examples. I guess part of the problem is that there is no way for a business to look at one’s Orca record to decide whether or not to validate the trip, so any transit subsidy for customers would have to work completely on the honor system.

      1. Portland Zoo discounts admission for transit riders, but they also have to charge for parking due to the situation there.

    4. Regarding downtown circulation, I think Metro’s and the city’s long-term goal is to shift most of it to Link and RapidRide and whittle down the number of other routes that go through downtown. There’s an argument that evenly-scheduled high-capacity lines are more effective than hundreds of routes going every random direction and not time-coordinated with the other routes.

      In the past there were suggestions to turn Third Avenue into a transit mall for all the existing routes. I think the plan now is to shift the most people possible to Link and RapidRide C, D, and E — which is already starting to happen naturally anyway. Plus several other routes will be converted to RapidRide including the 40 and 12 and 120, so that will be at least five north-south on third. At that point you can theoretically modify or attrition some of the other routes out of downtown, so there will be a fewer number of routes but accommodating more moving bodies. Plus Link will essentially serve as an incredibly long DSTT, so people can catch their routes at other Link stations rather than right at Westlake or University Street. So with all of that, the future will probably have fewer routes downtown but moving more bodies (as it will have to, given the ongoing population increase and ridership increase). So that’s probably part of the motivation for splitting the C and D now, to make a contribution toward this goal.

    5. asdf2: Some businesses validate parking for customers who buy $20 worth of stuff. It wouldn’t be hard philosophically to get them to validate transit fares. But then they’d need a mechanism to put a payment on people’s ORCA cards, and there’s no mechanism for that yet. Some businesses sell ORCA refills and passes (supermarkets), but they’re not the ones who validate parking (department stores and small urban-village shops).

    6. That late at night, the 8 shouldn’t have its usual troubles. Maybe the thing to do would be to get the 8 over to South Lake Union and take the C from there? It might be a better place than 3rd to wait that late at night. I’ve waited for the 70 series over there pretty late at night, but only on nights when there are lots of other people around.

      With the 1, 3, 4, 8, 24, 33 and D there are a fair number of options for getting into downtown. The key is going to be trying to find one of those that provides a good transfer to the C so that you don’t have to wait downtown very long.

      I assume you’ve aware of the stuff that happens in West Seattle? Kenyon Hall has some good events, but of course designed for small audiences.

      1. Thanks Glenn, I was thinking that a transfer in SLU might be more comfortable than waiting downtown. I will certainly give it a try after the restructure.

      2. Or, if Pronto would hurry up & expand along with a reasonably safe route I would be happy with a station near the Opera and one near a C line stop in SLU.

  9. he Best solution is for a branched East link into a Redmond line, Kirkland line and Issaquah line. From the ST2 design split off the Issaquah line at either MI or Wilberton,depending on if hey want a one seat to both Bellevue and Seattle or want a faster trip to Seattle, I think the route is sellable if you had a one seat ride to both. Split off the Kirkland line at Wilburton station and use the ESRC to Totem Lake. As to the number of trains, I’m much more concerned with the frequency between Bellevue and Seattle than the tips of the branches. So for peak if you use 6 trains to each that would provide 10 minute service to the tips and 3 minute service between Bellevue. Off peak at 15 minute service to the tips would be 5 minute service between Bellevue and Seattle. If there is actually a capacity problem on the bridge then they could use the east bay solution and do some of the runs Totem lake to Issaquah.

    1. Amen! I think branching is the way to go, at least for the Kirkland – Bellevue part which would work the best with as you say overlapping service for Seattle-Bellevue which needs to be most frequent then branching to Kirkland and Redmond. Id love to see a branch to Issaquah work too from Seattle.

    2. There is always the option of truncating a branch if the frequencies spread things too thin. Richmond to San Francisco BART doesn’t run all the time. The Evanston line in Chicago is mostly peak hours only. With the right tail tracks and platforms, an operator can configure truncated lines for off-peak times. If we are going to make everything light rail anyway, we should take advantage of the operational flexibility that comes about with a common technology.

      1. I should clarify about Evanston. The rail only runs to the far north side of Chicago (Davis Street) most of the time, although the line runs all the way to Downtown Chicago at peak times.

      2. … and then, from Davis St, someone can transfer to the (local) Red Line to downtown when the Evanston train doesn’t go there directly (as express).

  10. I made it through the podcast (finally).

    There was a discussion in it about ridership forecasting. There were some points that needed to be said.

    1. There are lots of variables that go into forecasts. We tend to focus on population and employment assumptions, but there are plenty of others that affect rail ridership, like:
    – parking costs at destinations
    – feeder transit networks including frequency, especially from 1 to 5 miles away
    – competing transit paths
    – actual station locations and bus transfer points
    – parking availability (or lack of parking availability) at either destinations or at rail stations
    Unless the disincentive to drive is strong (Ike expensive parking), it’s tough to get more than 5 or 10 percent of the trips on transit which means that the ridership forecasts can be mathematically volatile.

    2. The biggest problem with ST forecasting is that it’s not used strategically. There is this very silly belief that ridership forecasts should only be studied once an alternative is completely conceived, designed and costed. The forecasting process is not that expensive and it can be used for all sorts of sensitivity analyses, like alternative bus networks, alternative station area land use scenarios, higher parking charges, station parking strategies, interlining strategies and alignment tweaks to get riders closer to destinations. We pay money for these models then we don’t use it to test 20 or 40 outcomes. Instead we test two to four because that’s how many that we’ve paid to fully design! Forecasting should be a tool from which to design increasingly more optimum alternatives rather than be an item that gets discussed once an alternative has a full design assessment

    If you want specifics, why did ST not study and publish interlining of Kirkland to Issaquah LRT through Downtown Bellevue? What would be the ridership impact of interlining? Just answering that question would lend such more informed discussion to the East side alternatives. Instead, we’re left to speculate. The public is smart enough to assess the tradeoffs, and censoring ridership data from this alternative makes ST look stupid at best and manipulative at worst.

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