118 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Madison BRT”

  1. Q – How can the trip take the same time day & night if the BRT needs to run in mixed traffic in some segments of the route?

    Good PR spin.

    1. The assumption is that overall traffic volumes in the mixed section of the route will be light enough that the delays will not be significant. I don’t travel through Madison Valley enough to know whether or not this assumption is believable. But I can say that, what is mixed traffic now could be converted to exclusive bus lanes (by taking away street parking) at some point in the future. Sometimes, it’s important not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and allow unwinnable fights against one local business district to scuttle the entire BRT project.

      1. asdf2, your spirit of possible improvement is really refreshing, most of all because lingering transit problems result more from high level laziness than either malevolence or budgetary shortage.

        However, have a little imaginary (and be sure you’re only imagining him) rabid wolverine sit on your shoulder and bite you every time you internalize a destructive slogan. Because if the perfect is the enemy of the good, then the mediocre is the ally of the You Don’t Even Want To Think About It!


      2. IF BRT comes to Madison, all on street parking west of MLK/28th Ave East should be abolished ALL the way to Western Avenue, without regard for anyone’s
        individual interests. Could we PLEASE do this right?

    2. SEAN, best way might be to do like LINK: printed schedules showing different headways for different times of day, with asterisks that service might arrive early at certain stops. In general, schedules are for service longer and lighter than city streetcars and busways.

      Madison Street will also likely have “next bus” readout on signs. But main requirements are: Enough buses to keep headways short. And supervision quick and skilled enough to keep blockages from happening.


      1. Good point. Please forgive me if my comment came off with a little too much sarcasm as so many BRT projects sound great at first blush, that is until transit officials & polls cave to NIMBY’s. It has happened time & again here in NYC as http://www.secondavenuesagas.com has reported over the past ten years.

      2. We have a similar record with light rail here. So, yeah, don’t assume anything. But in this case it is a different agency and the documentation clearly states what asdf2 said.

  2. Google is failing me and I’m wondering if the experts here can help. Are there any round trip single day train trips one can take from king street station? Weekday or weekend? Maybe even something seasonal like the Christmas trains down in Portland? My three year old is in love with trains, but the excursion trains I’ve been able to find all require long drives to get to them.

    1. There are several day trips that you can take using Amtrak. A short trip to Tacoma would be good if your 3 yo has a short attention span. You could take the train one way and take a bus back and have the whole adventure done in about 2 hours. If you want to make an all day adventure, take the first train to Portland, have lunch in PDX and then ride one of the afternoon or evening trains back to Seattle. Centralia also could work for a day trip. There are some restaurants near the station and you could watch some freights pass by too. One station to avoid on a day trip would be Olympia; the station is located in the middle of nowhere and you’ll have absolutely nothing to do while you wait for the return train. You could also put together some shorter trips using Sounder trains during rush hours. There are reverse commute trains that run on the south line.

      1. Yes, the Sounder down to Tacoma is nice if you just want to go for a train ride. I rode it down to Tacoma in the early afternoon and then back to Seattle. There’s some food available at the Tacoma station.

      2. I like the Centralia idea. The coastal section just past Tacoma is one of the prettiest train ride sections on Washington. Can you stop in Steilacoom? That would be a great place to have lunch and hang out in the park before coming back home

      3. There is no train stop in Steilacoom. Trains may have stopped there at one time (there is a building just north of the ferry terminal that may have been a station at one time), but I can’t recall trains stopping there anytime recently.

      4. If you just want to watch trains you should check out Carkeek Park. The rail line runs along the beach and there’s an overhead pedestrian bridge between the park and the beach where you watch the trains run beneath you. Your 3 yo will either love it or be scared to death. Between trains you can play at the beach.

      5. There is no train stop in Steilacoom. Trains may have stopped there at one time (there is a building just north of the ferry terminal that may have been a station at one time),

        That most definitely was a station but trains have not stopped there for a long .long time. Probably before Amtrak existed. The building, last time I checked which was at least 10 years ago is/was in surprisingly good shape. There have been some attempts to move it or get BNSF to allow for some use; Steilacoom is big on history. Sadly, I think one day a bulldozer is just going to show up and it will be gone.

      6. I rode it down to Tacoma in the early afternoon and then back to Seattle. There’s some food available at the Tacoma station.

        Keep in mind the Amtrak station and Sounder station are in two different parts of Tacoma. It’s only several blocks to walk between the two but there isn’t much of anything near the Amtrak station.

        This will change when the new passenger route south of Tacoma is rebuilt in 2017, but that also means the most scenic part of the Amtrak route goes away.

      7. Oh, yeah, and sadly, the Steilacoom Station isn’t in as good a condition as it used to be.

        It would be one of the points I would like to see a local station for a local Sounder route. Getting there by the current bus route is terribly time consuming.

    2. The schedule was made so that you can take a northbound Cascades train at 7:45am, arrive Vancouver BC at 11:45am, spend five hours in Vancouver, return at 5:35pm, and arrive back at King Street at 10:00pm. Beware that customs and stopping for freight trains north of the border can eat up the first hour. In Vancouver the Skytrain runs from Pacific Central Station to downtown and the SeaBus. If you get off in Edmonds, Everett, Stanwood, Mt Vernon, or Bellingham, you’d have that much longer to spend there.

      Bellingham has a radio museum that’s supposed to be interesting, now the SPARK museum of electrical innovation. Beware that Bellingham’s train station is away from downtown, and buses may be minimal weekends so you may have to take a taxi.

      Going south the first train leaves at 7:45am and arrives in Portland at 11:05am. That gives seven hours to explore Portland and take the evening train back, leaving at 6:50pm and arriving at 10:30pm.

      For the best fares, book a month or two in advance or travel weekdays. There are also midweek sales in the winter sometimes.

      Sounder runs mostly only peak hours, so you’d have to find a train that meets your schedule. Or you can take a train one way and an ST Express bus back.

      1. A couple weeks ago, I used Amtrak for a day trip to Bellingham. It is possible to hike up Chuckanut Mountain right out of the train station and be back in time for the evening train. This hike is a lot of miles, but it’s a fun workout.

        The big downside, though, is it’s quite expensive. For two or more adults traveling together, it actually costs more to take a daytrip by Amtrak than it does by Zipcar. Even if a short cab ride becomes necessary to reach a final destination, the train fare, not the cab fare, will end up being the dominant factor in the expense.

        Another fun workout that I hope to try someday (but haven’t done yet) is to taking the morning Amtrak up to Mt. Vernon and ride my road bike all 75 mile back home, including 30 miles traversing the Centennial Trail, end to end. The schedule is conveniently set up to make it possible to arrive home in time for dinner.

      2. @Mike Orr, the 401 from Bellingham’s train station in Fairhaven runs every half hour on weekends (and every 15 minutes on weekdays). I suppose it depends on your perspective and your definition of “minimal” bus service, but it’s the WTA’s best route by both frequency (except maybe the WWU shuttles) and span of service.

      3. That’s good. I was concerned because when I was planning a trip to northwest Bellingham, the bus was like hourly Saturday and not at all Sunday.

      4. That first northbound train to BC must be really popular. I’m not seeing anything other than business class seats for various dates I selected in February and March.

        If you want cheap seats, you have to buy in advance.

      5. @Glenn in Portland; Yup that morning train to Vancouver is very popular. Every time I’ve been on it it’s been nearly full. Because the ride is relatively long, most people will prefer to take the morning train. It means you get into downtown Vancouver (via a short SkyTrain ride) at about 12:30 p.m., which is usually perfect timing for getting some lunch and checking into your hotel.

        If you choose to take the evening train (5:40 p.m. I think?) it means you’ll be getting into downtown at about 10:30 p.m., which is a bit late for lots of people. I’d assume the best reason to ride the evening train would be if you had to work that day and wanted to hop on the train right after you get off to make it up north.

      6. Vancouver gets more tourist ridership because it’s in a different country, and also because there are only two trains a day and if you don’t live in Vancouver you’re really want to get the morning train so you aren’t arriving in Vancouver at 11pm. Portland has more trains per day so some people prefer later ones, and it’s not such a major tourist draw (“I’m going to fly to Seattle and take the train to Portland!” — not as much as Vancouver).

    3. The problem with the Christmas trains in Portland is transit access isn’t great for where the station has to be.

      Oregon Rail Heritage Center is about as transit accessible as a place can be. MAX orange line from Union Station. It’s a free museum where they keep the steam locomotives.

    4. Have some patience and wait for the mid-day Sounder service to start in September, then you’ll have many more options for a trip South. Currently you could catch the 3:12 train from King St., arrive in Puyallup at 3:51, have a snack at Trackside Pizza, and take the last train North at 5:11. Personally I’d wait until later in the spring when there’s more daylight or take a bus one direction to Tacoma (more things to do and an opportunity to ride their Link streetcar).

      1. I think the easiest Sounder option for a Seattle resident today would be to take a midday route 594 bus to Tacoma on a weekday, spend a couple hours at one of the downtown museums, then ride a reverse-direction Sounder train back home (using Tacoma Link to get from the museum to the Sounder Station). For grins, you can even take a ride on Link or the First Hill Streetcar for last-mile travel and get three different train services in on just one day.

      2. It’s unfortunate that there isn’t more to do in Everett. That’s a much more attractive Sounder trip.

        They tend to be pretty popular, but if you can get them there is a seat at the end of the last car that looks out the back of the train whrn theclocomotive is at thd front. Going the opposite way, the last coach becomes the driving trailer, and if you are in that seat you can watch some of what the engineer does. The bad news is you also have a front row seat if they hit someone so you should take that into consideration.

    5. There used to be a decent restaurant just north of the Vancouver, WA station but it closed some time back. There is a lot of train activity there because all the stuff coming out of the gorge and headed north to Kalama, Seattle, etc, plus Portland trains going east plus Union Pacific trains going north.

      Unfortunately, now the best option for watching trains in that spot is to bring a picnic lunch and watch from the station area. It doesn’t offer quite as good a view of the activity as the restaurant used to. Much of the activity is on the line on the north side of the station which is harder to see from there than the lines going south into Portland.

      1. Thanks all. Lots of options. Tacoma sounds like the most reasonable day trip for a short attention span (referring to mine, not the 3-year-old’s).

  3. Sorry about one more “Reference from the Dead”, but anybody left who ever saw “Laurel and Hardy” do “Saps at Sea?” Oliver hardy works in a horn factory- in the ‘twenties, many car-horns had “squeeze bulbs” -and finally starts going berserk every time he hears one of those horns. Dr.’s diagnosis? “Hornophobia!” Which left untreated will turn into “Hornomania!”

    Like me and every public ad with everybody smiling and disco music in the background. But disorderly-conduct reflex starts with all the disclaimers in the old-men’s potency-medicine ads. Somewhere near the end, the music cheerifies right through a nasty “By the Way” about things to ask your neighborhood County Medical Examiner about.

    Completely and strictly reserved right of way gives Bay Area Rapid Transit the right to it’s PR “RT”. For anything contending with street crossings, signaled or not, let alone curb lanes and general traffic anywhere, those letters are consumer fraud. So for the sake of both honesty and “Cripe!”…

    Whatever the merits of the system, lose the music, and send the presenters into rehab. Children shouldn’t be subjected to adults on Prozac Especially connected with transit, which is a lot better for children than Viagra is for their grandfather!


  4. FH Streetcar was packed yesterday with many photo ops. Coming from IH I was disappointed I had to de-board at the college. Walking the extra mile in the rain was a pain. The build out will sure be a nice addition.

    1. Why did you have to get off the train?
      With the wide variance in trip times from end to end, I’m wondering if SDOT will even try to publish a schedule and maintain it. Seems like headway management would better serve the corridor during the peak hours.
      Could we not see SC bunching as a new phenomenon if totally schedule driven?
      Apparently getting through lights and at least one accident blocking the tracks were issues yesterday.

      1. I wasn’t there, so take this guess with a grain of salt. (I was there for the first day of Link service, so I’m somewhat extrapolating from that experience.) But I’m guessing a big reason for a lot of the variance was unpredictable crowds. On the inaugural day, the dwell times were probably at best inconsistent, and at worst exponentially longer than they will be on any other day.

        There are a lot of conclusions you can draw from the first day of service, but schedule reliability probably isn’t one of them.

      2. they didn’t get the scheduling software working until afternoon. when schedule first came up there was a 79 min headway :). it was definitely a day to work out kinks.
        I had to get off because SCC on Broadway is end of line until they build out to Roy street.
        Also, I wish they had a better street crossing to the platform across from IH station. they should have put it down further allowing for 1 less crosswalk. not a big deal but when it is pouring outside the standing at intersections for transfers is a pain.

      3. Hate to say this, Mic, but you’re picking up the English habit of disaster related understatement. In every transit system that considers our crush loads low ridership, nobody posts a schedule because lying so not done.

        Difference is that San Francisco actually has supervisors, especially on trolleybus lines, at least try to keep service on schedule by turning back coaches and reloading passengers onto followers.

        Too bad we don’t have any turn backs, though IWW era history sometimes saw massive public violence make many beneficial changes. Precedents always important, like for sentencing.

        But every single screw-up yesterday was just exactly what the day’s service was for, and badly needed: examples of what was likely to go wrong, with added benefit of crush loads, also present in real-life operating disasters.

        20th repeat in regular service will initiate the 200,000 more necessary for the City Council to begin discussing an investigation. “Not built in a day, what, Old Chap?”


    2. Concur 100%. The true utility of our streetcar system will only be utilized when the system gets built out..look at Portland. Their 7 miles of SC generate something like 20,000 trips per day – more than any of our bus or RR lines.

      Time to get going on building the CCC and Broadway Ext.

      1. That’s with two different lines. Maybe we should paint lines on the ground and call the 7 and 48 streetcars so we can get excited about a system that carries over 25,000 a day.

      2. I notice there were a lot of seniors on Portland’s system as well as on FH’s. They are so much more palatable for boarding then the BRTs I’ve ridden.

      3. Their 7 miles of SC generate something like 20,000 trips per day – more than any of our bus or RR lines.

        Northwest Portland and Southwest Portland on each end of the west side streetcar line have a number of high rise residential towers, some as high as 20 or so floors. Between them is downtown Portland as well as Portland State University.

        So, put the University of Washington where South Lake Union would be, then take about 5 each residential towers from downtown Vancouver BC and scatter them along Jackson and Mercer. Then, give the areas at each end the parking limitations of central Ballard on a Saturday night.

        You’d also need to put at least four hospitals in there as well, because OHSU, the Portland VA Hospital, Portland Shriner’s Hospital, and Doernbecher Children’s Hospital are all at the top end of the Portland Arial Tram, which is at the south end of the Portland Streetcar. OHSU is Portland’s largest single employer and the fourth largest employer in the state, so you’d probably need to take several of the Swedish campuses and clump them together into a single facility.

        Then there’s the big Legacy hospital at the north end of the streetcar line in northwest Portland, so you’d need to cram something like that in there as well, plus the northwest Portland arts and shopping area, which is sort of like Capitol Hill in Seattle.

        Now, maybe you might understand why I consider that 20,000 number to be horribly under performing. If the thing weren’t so horribly slow it could probably be moving at least three times that number. There is lots of unmet demand along the Portland streetcar.

        Or, lets put it into 2013 transit statistics perspective:

        39,174,406 unlinked trips. Directional route miles: 104
        Annual Passenger trips per directional route mile: 376,700

        Portland Streetcar:
        3,818,224 unlinked trips. Directional route miles: 14.8
        Annual Passenger trips per directional route mile: 258,000

        MAX goes through some vast areas of single family housing or other areas very hostile to transit. The Portland Streetcar goes through areas that are highly transit friendly and nothing that is really light density. Therefore, it should be seeing a whole lot more riders per mile of track than MAX does due to the amount of density of all sorts of stuff along the line. Sadly, it doesn’t.

      4. OHSU is Portland’s largest single employer and the fourth largest employer in the state, so you’d probably need to take several of the Swedish campuses and clump them together into a single facility.

        I was curious how OHSU stacks up because I know Harborview and UW are huge but not much about Swedish. A good way to compare is number of beds. From OHSU website”

        Staffed beds: 553-576 (don’t know the difference between licensed vs staffed)

        Portland VA Hospital (227)

        Portland Shriner’s Hospital (29)

        Doernbecher Children’s Hospital (part of OHSU)

        According to Wikipedia:

        Swedish Medical Center/First Hill Campus 697
        Swedish Medical Center/Cherry Hill Campus 385

        Harborview (413)

        Seattle Virginia Mason Hospital (336)

        Final Score, Portland (839) vs Pill Hill (1831). So yeah, you’d have to combine two of Swedishes hospitals before it was bigger than OHSU and it’s surrounding hospitals. But I’m sure if you combined the patient count from surrounding clinics Pill Hill Dawrfs Portland. And the Health Science connector bus shuttles people between Harborview and UW all day and is also affiliated with Seattle Childrens. The population of Oregon is 4 million. The population of Washington is 7 million. The population of the Seattle metro area is 3.6 million, close to the population of Oregon. There’s a reason the UW medical school is the only one that serves five western states.

      5. Glenn,

        Portland needs to step up and give the streetcar some priority and remove some of the 4-way stops in the Pearl District. There are scads of streets parallel to 10th and 11th; there’s no need for mixed traffic in the streetcar lane, certainly not south of Burnside.

        If the thing went faster it would attract more ridership. It would.

      6. Could not have said it any better myself.

        I keep hoping one of the Seattle projects will make enough speed improvements to prove the point. Maybe once the Central City Connector is done….

    3. Anyone know if the first hill streetcar has *any* signal priority anywhere along the line? The intersection of Jackson and Boren/Rainier/14th took over a minute each direction. 14th/Yesler, Boren/Yesler wasted another 1-2 minutes between them. Seems like you could take what is a 20-25 minute trip and turn it into a 15-18 min trip if it received some priority or if the priority is a bit more aggressive.

      1. Amen. Those were exactly my observations/complaints on my rides so far… Signal priority at those intersections in particular

    4. Is it too late to convince SDOT to run and fund 10-minute headway on the FSHC, at least once U-Link opens? Having a streetcar waiting at CHS for each southbound trainload could make a world of difference in building the initial ridership.

      Maybe the City could accept an additional streetcar from the manufacturer In lieu of the fine the City is trying to impose. That would be better than eating up a million dollars in legal fees.

      I think it can eventually get enough ridership to merit 5-minute headway by the time East Link opens, if SDOT can acquire the fleet and build a larger base.

      1. Signal priority could make the difference with tighter headways instead of throwing additional money to make up for the streetcars sitting in traffic and waiting at lights… essentially making the existing cars & operators more productive.

      2. Man, they went out of their way to make the streetcar less than useful for passengers transferring from Link.

      3. Simply running the streetcar at 10-minute headways to match Link wouldn’t be enough to ensure a quality transfer. They would have to coordinate each streetcar departure with real-time Link arrivals into Capitol Hill Station, which, judging by the lack of OneBusAway info, Sound Transit is probably (sadly) not equipped to do. Then, there’s the fact that different people will make the transition from platform level to street level at different speeds. Some will walk up the escalator, while others will stand. Others might take the elevator, which might involve waiting in line for several minutes.

      4. Could be worse–the transfer to the LAX shuttle at Aviation Blvd station on the LA Green Line actually left as people were coming down the stairs/escalator. Having to wait 10 minutes for the next one, I noticed that as we pulled away people who obviously knew this was a pattern ran down the stairs and in front of the shuttle to stop it. The sole reason for the shuttle’s existence is to take people to and from the airport to the rail station, and they intentionally pulled out just before people made it to the bus load. Since it’s an above grade station you can hear/see the trains from where the shuttle parks so coordination shouldn’t be an issue, unlike at Capitol Hill.

        It’s no surprise everybody save me on the shuttle was going to work rather than to catch a flight–and knew that this would happen.

      5. Scott, from this sort of BS comes hatred for both agencies and transit operators. The green line is 100% grade separated, so arrival times are pretty reliable. The shuttles should leave three minutes after the train arrives. Period.

  5. Is Madison BRT really going to have 6-minute headways all-day and on weekends? Maybe I misinterpreted the video but she definitely implied that.

    Also is it 100% decided that this corridor will require 5-door buses? And, be impossible for any other metro routes in the system to use? Any way to give feedback that we want platforms on the right so that it’ll be possible for other routes to take advantage of the lanes, not to mention actually taking advantage of existing rolling stock?

    1. There’s no reason the five-door buses can’t be used on other lines in a pinch. Ordinary buses can’t be used in the center-lanes or in the left-hand running on Spring, of course.

      1. I need to pay better attention, Anandakos. Are the extra two doors on the left hand side of the coach for center platforms?

        If so, I keep saying this because I think it’s right for other reasons beside cost of two extra doors per bus. Since we’ll have signal pre-empt, where the busway goes to center-running, have the buses do the same crossover they do at both Federal Way and Bellevue Transit Centers.

        If this requires more definite barrier than red-painted lanes do, a line of decorative landscape rocks will do just fine to remind traffic, while letting fire-or tow-trucks go where they need to. If we get a good deal on a historic PCC streetcar, ever line will have to do this more than once.


      2. Mark,

        I sure can’t argue with you; I would prefer reverse running myself. That way buses on the 12 (if it still runs after the BRT begins) could share stops instead of being stuck in the right hand lanes.

        But I believe it was Mike Orr who pointed out that Madison would then be a very complicated street for a pedestrian to cross. On both sides of the center median there would be vehicles going the “wrong way”; especially for seniors and visitors that would be quite unexpected. It really wouldn’t be safe.

      3. Correcting myself, I (now) believe it was Al M who made the observation. I think it should certainly be a consideration in any discussion of reverse running.

    2. You can probably find the project’s email address at the Seattle website, or just send it to SDOT. There have been at least two open houses and they got public feedback then. Center lanes with left-side stations preclude regular buses from using them, but they’re also exclusive transit lanes. SDOT doesn’t seem interested in contraflow lanes (running the opposite direction in the center) which would allow right-side boarding.

      However, SDOT is planning other center-lane left-boarding segments on the other RapidRide lines, so it expects to get more left-door buses anyway. And there’s no reason routes like the 2 couldn’t have left-side doors too so that they could use the lanes. It’s just a matter of ordering enough buses.

      A bigger issue is that SDOT seems to be deciding this unilaterally and imposing it on Metro, like it imposed the SLU streetcar and the Madison BRT route. That ignores Metro’s judgment, costs more to operate which comes out of Metro’s Seattle operations budget, and forces Metro to design its other routes around it (e.g., the Madison Park tail, the east Madison to Capitol Hill ridership).

    3. How many people who want regular buses to share BRT lines want the same with Link? I’m just curious, because I think you can make the same argument. The 8 carries a lot of people and gets stuck in traffic along MLK, so maybe we should let it share the exclusive pathway, just like inside the tunnel.

      No, we shouldn’t. If we did that, we would hold up the train while the bus has to deal with people fumbling with change. Off board payment (and level boarding) is one of the big reasons that BRT and Link are reliable and fast. You can easily screw that up by putting slow buses in front of them.

      This is a trade-off, but one that isn’t as obvious as people imply. To begin with, you would certainly have different bus stops, even if the transit vehicles shared the same lane (if I’m mistaken, L. A. does that). But even then you have to have enough room for the BRT bus to pass the regular bus. Since this is a streetcar, we don’t have that option, so it is probably best if we just keep the lanes separate. This can be a problem for people who just want to take the first transit vehicle, but I’m not sure how much of a problem it is along this route.

      1. The solution to improve 8 service is creating a “Metro 8 Subway line” that runs under 23rd. 23rd is going on a road diet, but is till a key artery. Create a new light rail line that runs north on 23rd to John, then turns west to SLU. The Metro 8 Link route should be a priority

      2. Even if they started it next year it wouldn’t open for ten years so we’d need something in the meantime. BRT lines and Link lines are on two completely different time scales.

      3. The 8 Bus is only on Madison for a short distance to get up the hill from MLK. There is not much traffic on that stretch through Madison Valley, and Madison BRT is not currently planning for there to be designated bus lanes on that stretch anyway.

        I would echo Lee’s call for a new Link Lightrail line underneath 23rd to take much of the pressure off the 8 bus.

        If ten years is the soonest, this will happen, fine. That part of the city will be even denser and in even higher need for a Link connection by then. But for the 10-year timeline to happen, we need to get the process started! Everyone should tell Sound Transit that the Metro 8 should be a priority. We should also press the city to use some of the Move Seattle levy to get a head start studying the Metro 8 Link Line. There is precedent for the city to start the research before Sound Transit is ready (see Ballard Spur).

      4. The Move Seattle money is already dedicated to dozens of projects in the ballot measure. SDOT has some flexibility in case a project’s context changes, but it’s not likely to deprioritize something just two months after the levy passed. And it’s not even funding everything in the list right now; some of them have to wait until the later years of the levy.

      5. Twenty-third is way too Far East for the “Metro 8”. It should travel through the west side of the CD where there is good opportunity for development and two big existing transit destinations: Seattle U and Swedish. Situating the subway there makes it a curtain wall to intercept the buses from the eastern CD and Madrona just before the going gets rough for them. Twenty Third is too nice a neighborhood now to tear up. Build big around and south of Seattle U.

        The subway can then diagonal under Boren to get to the Rainier ROW, and then it should go elevated with a stop between Jackson and Judkins Park Station and also one between Judkins Park and Mt. Baker. There would be FIVE “urban spacing” stops in a mile and a half. Upper Rainier would become a true city subway neighborhood.

        Yes, the Rainier RapidRide will come through there, but the neighborhood is fantastic Opportunity for BIG TOD all the way from Jackson to the MLK crossing. Make the buildings high enough and you’ve created a bunch of new “view properties” without any impact on anybody else!

        And the icing on the cake: the”Metro 8″ would take the new residents to work in SLU in about ten to fifteen minutes.

        This is such an important facility for Seattle that ST should not be allowed in the room until all the alignment and station decisions have been made and funding developed by the City.

  6. Here’s the plan from the preferred concept (which is subject to change):

    • Monday – Saturday: Up to 20 hours (5 am to 1 am)
    • Sunday: Up to 17 hours (6 am to 11 pm)

    • 6 min: 6 am to 7 pm weekdays and Saturdays
    • 15 min or better: evening and Sundays

    Yes, it’s 100% decided that this corridor will require 5-door buses… and not just any buses… trolleybuses. Anandakos is right, these 5-door buses can be used on any trolleybus route, but not any trolleybus can be used on this route. It’s also safe to assume that SDOT/Metro will also purchase enough coaches to have a 20% spare ratio (the amount allowed under federal funding) so coaches can go into the shop, without disrupting the line.

    The other thing to consider is that while this is the only route to use 5-door buses for now… SDOT plans to use the same 5-door buses on several of the RapidRide+ routes:
    * Madison BRT
    * Mount Baker – SLU via Rainier Avenue (replaces 7)
    * Rainier Valley – U-District via 23rd & Rainier (replaces 7 & 48)
    * Ballard – U-District – Laurelhurst (replaces 44)
    * Northgate – Roosevelt – U-District – SLU – Downtown (replaces 66 & 70)

    1. If City A is telling Operator B what to do, we have a serious problem in our public transit planning process, particularly when City A has never asked its citizens to approve of a specific and long-term investment. There were huge differences between the 2005 and 2012 plans. Will the 2019 plan again be different, leaving Metro to make another direction change to keep Seattle happy?

      1. Depends on how many citizens agree with you in every City Council member’s district. Remember, they are elected by district now, which makes it easier to give a laser-like focus to your fury and threats.

        Best to get started early, though might help for Time to prove how bad joint-management- worse than DSTT joint use as practiced- screws up the streetcar line. Then get into public action before ISIS can claim credit for the disaster.

        Or else, either finish every statement with either “Die Infidel Dogs” or have a Sarah Palin imitator, or Sarah Palin, say something menacing with the word “Renegade” in it. Today First Hill…Tomorrow First Avenue Connector!


      2. The residents of Seattle (which would be City A) just approved a specific and long-term investment called “Move Seattle.” Among the investments it funds, it specifically spelled out 7 BRT (“RapidRide+”) corridors it would build over it’s long life span (9 years).

        There’s no denying that the political system we have is funky… we have city departments of transportation planning and building corridors, county departments of transportation operating routes, a regional transportation agency who independently plans, builds and operates routes and nobody forcing them to play nice with each other.

    2. So under this scenario, the FH streetcar and RR+ 7 will use dedicated transit center lanes and stops on Jackson and the 14 and 36 will continue to use mixed traffic curb lanes and stops on Jackson. That’s absolutely nuts! It sucks for transit riders to figure which stop to wait at, it sucks for transit operation with different fleets and it sucks even for drivers waiting behind a bus in mixed traffic while there is a bus lane adjacent.

      The answer is and was to have all transit in this corridor/street use dedicated center transit lanes and have right door boarding on islands so all routes can use the dedicated lanes and share the stops without custom equipment. Madison BRT and CCC are looking to repeat this mistake made on Jackson.

      1. “so all routes can use the dedicated lanes”

        There are no other routes on most of those streets, and where there are they’ll probably be consolidated. Madison is somewhat unique because it’s still part of downtown where routes funnel from. Or they would if the 2 moves to Madison, which Metro hasn’t said it will do. It tried once before and got huge opposition.

      2. >> The FH streetcar and RR+ 7 will use dedicated transit center lanes and stops on Jackson and the 14 and 36 will continue to use mixed traffic curb lanes and stops on Jackson. That’s absolutely nuts!

        No, it is not absolutely nuts. It makes sense when you think about. The streetcar and RR+ will have off board payment and level boarding. If the 14 and 36 don’t, then the fast vehicles would end up having to wait for the slow ones. That would be similar to what happens in the bus tunnel, but if there were no room to pass. It would be like allowing the 8 to use the Link lanes on MLK. Sure, it sounds good, but unless those buses have off board payment and level boarding, you end up screwing up everything.

        As far as Madison is concerned, it is quite likely that buses will spend very little time on Madison. The 60 might stay the same, but it is only one there a short distance. The 12 would certainly change (and likely just go away) while the 11 would only overlap the BRT from MLK to John (where it would then likely follow the current route of the 43).

      3. You’re assuming the 14 and 36 will still be running in their current configuration. That won’t be known until the Jackson-Rainier BRT restructure is settled.

      4. “The 12 would certainly change (and likely just go away) while the 11 would only overlap the BRT from MLK to John (where it would then likely follow the current route of the 43).”

        Yesterday I went to the Arboretum and came out the south side. As I waited at the 11 stop at Lake Washington Blvd, I thought about the post-BRT configuration. This stop is one past the BRT terminus, which means the Japanese Garden is a 10-minute walk from the BRT. That will doubtless be popular when it becomes known. (The garden opens March 1st. :)

        I think it’s most likely the 11 will remain on its current route, and the 10 on John. That overlaps the BRT between 16th and 28th, but a short overlap in the middle is no big deal. Metro got a lot of heat for removing the 11 from mid Madison, and the BRT misses a lot of destinations on Capitol Hill. The 12 will surely go away; 19th Avenue East’s days are numbered. That still leaves a gap between 15th and 23rd where no downtown bus runs (except the peak-only 43 if it lasts); I’m not sure if Metro can just leave it or what it could do about that. The 43’s predecessor used to go on Madison, so 48+Madison BRT may become the primary trip pattern again for going downtown, but again that doesn’t help if you’re going to Capitol Hill. Of course, if all these routes became 5-minute frequent, then transferring at 23rd wouldn’t be as big a deal as it is now. And when 23rd BRT comes online, it will have a short transfer to Madison BRT.

  7. Well….after one day of operation I can attest to the fact that the FHSC is good for business. My “free” ride ended up costing me $4000. My advice is not to go into any of the shops while waiting for the SC.

    1. You were purposely vague so people would beg you to tell us what happened, and it worked. What happened?

      1. It’s pretty obvious he bought a bike, so the Streetcar can get him from IDS to Broadway in the ‘No Pedal Zone’. Too bad we can’t charge for gravity.

    2. Sympathize, Lazarus. But some experience with world travel will show you the problem with buying a watch from guy whose display case is his coat lining, the cost of all the drinks a cute girl asks you to buy her in a bar, and a casual menu-reading for a coconut-pineapple-grapefruit mocha at any coffee shop on Broadway.

      Incidentally, in a lot of the world, the watch guy and the cute-type-girl girl all ride to work on streetcar. Unfortunately, espresso drinks world wide generally cost the same as on Broadway, except, regardless of exchange rates, more.

      However, when FHS finally extends to Aloha, watches will be easier to get, and you’ll have a wider choice of equally-cute girls to help the establishment separate you from your money. But-too bad for the MMP- “Mocha Minimum Price” law in the latest World Trade agreement.


      1. Na. Not a watch from a shady guy in a trench coat. I’ve been around more than enough to know to sray away from that.

        But there is a real nice furniture store at the southern terminus, and that was our downfall.

      2. Did the operator help you load sofa? And thank goodness for the ramp so hand trucks don’t get stuck.

  8. At 2:36 in the video is a map of the other BRT lines, and it has some differences from what we’ve heard before. The 48 line goes south to Mt Baker (not Rainier Beach), The 7 line starts at Rainier Beach (not Mt Baker), and makes a northwest diagonal (Rainier?), then north (3rd Ave? Boren Ave? I thought it terminated at Intl Dist) and northeast (Olive Way? Pine Street?) Is this a just somewhat incoherent map or a change in the preferred alignments?

    1. I’m guessing the summary that Frank wrote up here is accurate: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2015/12/21/rapidride-the-corridors/
      That seems way more detailed to be changed without a major discussion. It is possible the video is a hint of things to come (and we’ll see a press release soon) but my guess is the map in the video is just too sloppy. Or maybe it was designed before they got into the details. To get to your specific points:

      >> The 48 line goes south to Mt Baker (not Rainier Beach), The 7 line starts at Rainier Beach (not Mt Baker),

      So basically it is the same amount of construction (or coverage), just flipping the lines. My guess is that this is simply the order in which they will be built (build out to Mount Baker first) or maybe just the way the map artist decided to draw them.

      >> The 7 makes a northwest diagonal (Rainier?), then north (3rd Ave? Boren Ave? I thought it terminated at Intl Dist) and northeast (Olive Way? Pine Street?)

      Here is the map that Frank cited: http://stb-wp.s3.amazonaws.com//srv/htdocs/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/17213952/BRT-Corridor-Maps.003.png

      I assume that is the plan. A route along Boren would be interesting, but it makes sense to leverage the streetcar right of way on Jackson, at least initially. Eventually, I could see another BRT to replace much of the 36. The 36 carries a lot of people, so the effort would be justified. But rather than double (or in this case, triple) coverage along Jackson, take a different route. Start in South Lake Union, then go along Boren until 12th and go south from there. I think a BRT line like that would be great. Those on Beacon Hill would be able to easily transfer to downtown (via the 7 RR+ or the streetcar) while also giving them (and plenty of other people) a much shorter route to South Lake Union.

      But that is way down the road (when we pass another city wide measure). I could see that being added when we add BRT to Lake City (along with some other stuff).

  9. Why are there those yellow stop request strips in the streetcar? The streetcar will stop at every stop no matter what.

    1. Wrong. The streetcar is like a bus… it will only stop when a stop has been requested or there’s someone waiting on the platform.

    2. I was on the FHSC this morning and on the outbound trip we didn’t stop at the 14th/Washington stop (the one across from Bailey Gatzert Elementary). Nobody was at the stop and nobody had pushed the request button. And as it turned out, nobody had wanted to get off there anyway.

    3. You are both wrong. Streetcar Operators are instructed to stop at every stop regardless of whether the passenger signals for a stop or not.

  10. Did anyone else notice all the “bus people” who couldn’t figure out how to get off the SC yesterday? I sat in the first third of the vehicle and there were all these people who when the SC approached a center plateform stop would make their way to the front of the SC and then stand at the RHS exit door near the operator. They would stand their oblivious during the stop and then panic when they realized they were at the wrong door.

    Pure entertainment, but it slowed down the SC in some instances. Clearly there is a learning curve.

    1. Those were pricelessly wonderful scenes at every left hand exit stop – gotta love Seattle sheeple.

  11. UW has started experimenting with using Bluetooth and Wifi signals from cell phones to get ridership data on their SLU and Health Sciences shuttles:


    The shuttles are free so they can’t use fare data to infer boardings. Even with fares, though, it would be useful because it track deboardings by stop as well.

    I wonder if Metro and SDOT could benefit from something similar to target stop improvements. SDOT’s placement of bus arrival signs seems pretty haphazard for the 44, for instance.

    1. The buses have counters that collect data on people getting on and off. They shouldn’t have to rely on wireless signals. And of course, relying on wireless signals assumes a certain type of customer. There are still people without cell phones, aren’t there?

      1. I’m aware of the counter the driver hits when someone gets on, but I’m not aware of any that get triggered when someone gets off.

        The researchers are aware of the fact that not everyone has a Bluetooth/Wifi-enabled cell phone, and the fact that those without cell phones are not evenly distributed throughout society, but they feel that having the data is still useful as long as it’s not used in isolation.

    2. We somehow have ridership data for Tacoma LINK, even though it is free, so there has to be a way of collecting the data that ST has already implemented.

      1. ST vehicles also have APC equipment. I’m not sure if it’s fleet-wide or if they do statistical sampling to get their ridership and stop level data.

        From http://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/documents/pdf/rider_news/2014_service_standards.pdf:

        “Load conditions will be monitored on a regular basis using a combination of automatic passenger counter (APC) data, customer reports, and observations by Central Link operating personnel and
        Sound Transit Service Standards and Performance Measures 2014 Edition 38
        Sound Transit staff. Trip-level APC data will be evaluated for overload conditions during each tri-annual service change period.”

  12. When I rode the FHSC on Saturday (mid afternoon) each car was making 1 hr loops. The ride up the hill took 22 minutes. I didn’t time the ride back down. We left at 43 minutes after the hour and when the SC returned it waited until 43 after to make it’s next trip. I know this because I failed to get off at the ID link connection and decided to just wait for the shuttle up the hill since I would just be waiting for the 255 at ID Station anyway. So if they keep this schedule in revenue service they have ~8 minutes of recovery time at each end. It take the operators a couple of minutes to switch cabs. I don’t know what all is involved but it’s more than just walking from one end to the other and saying “all aboard”. If they plan to keep that much recovery time then it should be pretty reliable. They also had a way longer dwell time at the station just past the ID Link entrance; like a couple of minutes.

  13. Apparently they decided to not go all the way to the ferry terminal with the Madison BRT. I suppose the walkway and bridge is good enough to get to 1st.

    1. Yeah, I think it would have slowed it down a bit and would have created a few new challenges. I think they made the right decision. The walkway and bridge is very good, so I don’t think it is a terrible connection. It is much better than most connections to Link, for example. Ferry riders probably won’t make up a huge percentage of this BRT’s ridership, even if the connection was great. I think the biggest potential problem is that ferry riders could overwhelm the bus (ferry riders can overwhelm a train as well). I could see the city adding an extra bus during ferry times if this really was the case. The way this is designed I could easily see three minute headways at certain times (I don’t think that would screw up the signal priority system).

    2. The ridership was the same, and turning at 1st allows it to share the streetcar station, which in turn facilitates transfers.

      1. So it’s too much to ask people to walk across the street to make a transfer between the bus and streetcar, but it’s not too much to ask them to walk two blocks to make a transfer between the bus and ferry?

      2. You could ask the city why it made its decision. I guess it would say that many times more people transfer between lines in the transit network than transfer to the ferry, and the transfer time is critical to make 2-seat rides attractive. A similar example is the 5-minute distance between UW Station and its bus stops, which many people think is too long. But the ferry only comes once an hour or so and it’s 40-60 minute trip, so a 2-block walk is an insignificant part of it. Saying it’s ultra-important for the BRT to go right to the ferry’s door is like the tail wagging the dog.

      3. It’s a two block walk, but it is a two block walk without having to wait at any cross streets. It isn’t as time consuming as, say, having to transfer between bus routes in downtown Tacoma or somewhere else where a two block walk takes a while thanks to the supremacy of auto traffic over anything else.

        Further north, it can be exceptionally time consuming to get from Alaskan Way to any transit options as it requires a time consuming wait to get across Alaskan Way, then several other streets which may or may not have any sort of cross signal. The cross walk from the Bell Street Pedestrian Bridge directly into unsignaled traffic coming off the Alaskan Way Viaduct is particularly obnoxious to me.

      4. It’s a two block walk, but it is a two block walk without having to wait at any cross streets.

        I still haven’t heard why the stop at the ID Link transfer is a block east of the station (and not labeled International District). It’s only a block but since it’s center platform you have to wait for two walk signals. It also puts it two blocks away from King St Station; to the point it’s probably faster to walk in the wrong direction and board at Pioneer^2. I know the street is narrow at the plaza for ID Station but it could have been carved back to make room for a center platform. But then, why? Very few people are going to wait on the SC to go a couple of blocks down hill to Occidental Park. So a regular curb side stop right in front of the Link ID Station would seem to have been cheaper and more expedient. Of course people coming down the hill have to cross the street but they do anyway with a center stop. Can someone explain this in a simple way that a country bumpkin can understand?

      5. “Transfer time is critical to making two seat rides attractive”.

        Having the new bus route going down to the water with a stop at 1st Avenue would literally mean walking across the street to make the transfer. You’re talking less than 30 seconds.

      6. Wrong. It’s not just about connecting to the ferry. What about all the people visiting the shops/restaurants/attractions along the waterfront (both locals and tourists). They have literally NO transit routes running perpendicular to the water to get them east/inland. You would not find such a setup in any other major city. How are people supposed to get for example to/from their hotels 6 or 7 blocks inland (aand uphill) if there are zero transit routes running down to the waterfront.

      7. Transit just doesn’t work all the well for traveling 6 or 7 blocks – by the time you’re done waiting for it, you could just walk. Especially when the topography often means a walking route that is of a considerably shorter distance than the shortest route suitable for transit. For those not able to climb stairs, there are building/parking garage elevators in several places that provide the vertical connection between downtown and the waterfront.

  14. WSDOT being WSDOT, they don’t even want you to know that you can get to the Seattle terminal (Colman Dock) any other way save driving. If you go to their “Getting to your Terminal” link and follow it through to Seattle, you see under “Directions and Transportation Connections” driving directions from I-5, and then a link to “Downtown Seattle Parking.”

    If you want any other type of information, you have to scroll down past “Security” and “Ferry Advisory Committee” to “Tourist Information” (since only tourists walk on to the ferry, apparently), where you find “Parking,” “Airport” (driving directions only), “Motorcycles,” “Trucks,” “Bikes,” “Trains (woo hoo, sort of…see next paragraph), “Taxi” and “HOV.”

    Train, you say? Well, yes…Amtrak. The station is “approximately 7 blocks from the ferry terminal and is within walking distance.” No directions as to how to accomplish that though. Route 99 is on there, or rather a link to Metro’s website. Then, if “you have questions about the streetcars (?) or how to connect to Metro buses…” with links again to Metro’s website. Why information about buses is under “Trains” is beyond me.

    Want more? Good luck. If you scroll nearly all the way to the bottom of the page, you’ll see a section called “Transit Options” which is just links to Metro, Airport Express, Amtrak Cascades and Sound Transit.

    There is no mention whatsoever where the region’s nearest HCT stations are (cross the pedestrian bridge to First, continue one block to Second then left three blocks to Seneca, OR continue two blocks to Third then right two blocks to Cherry). In fact, they don’t even tell you that the system exists, just the 99 bus. Seriously, WSDOT, you’re part of the metro area’s mass transit system–can’t you figure out how to provide this information–preferably near the top? Pathetic.

  15. So…Where is the integrated protected bike lane so people can use the road on a bike to quickly get to and from downtown?

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