Streetcar Celebration

This is an open thread.

77 Replies to “News Roundup: The Hype”

    1. OMG, Bertha is loose and gone Roque – last seen under Pioneer Square disrupting an Underground Tour..

      1. Watch it, Mic. As the Republicans quit faking outrage at their candidates and start going mad with fear, they may have Sarah Palen actually kill (refuse to name him- every time somebody says his name, he gets larger).

        Whereupon things will swiftly go from plain old “Rogue” to full-bore flat-out ear-splittingly-screeching…MAVERICK! And that’s just Inauguration.

        Just be careful, that’s all.


  1. As you may know, thanks to single family zoning and other issues, we in Portland have suffered some horrific housing price increases and a rental vacancy rate nearing 1%.

    So, some enterprising Willamette Week editors and writers discovered that it is perfectly legal to camp in certain public places, including the grass parking strip in front of the mayor’s house.

    Also, a few city council members houses.

    Maybe, at some point, the housing issues will get fixed some day.

    1. Glenn, given current plague of unrelated-to-value housing prices in our twin cities, I think that same measure can cure this one along with the one where people have no place to live. And be in a very old American, meaning cheerful unpaid labor, tradition.

      I know that in countless Westerns, before John Wayne has even delivered has first wooden line, let alone shot anybody, the whole town is out for a House-Raising! Or maybe barn-one. Meaning all someone’s neighbors, and everybody else in town, usually same thing, happily assemble and just build the goldurned thing.

      With understanding that every house-recipient pitches in on all the next ones, lifelong. Since neither Seattle nor Portland is on any prairie, it’s got to be a Transit-Oriented-Development- Raising.

      I know that from Ballard to Beaverton, thousands of skilled and still well-payed skilled workers can’t even afford to live under the Ballard Bridge-is there a Beaverton one? So with new building methods, in a few days, let alone hours, nobody on the Mayor’s lawn will be homeless, because if the Mayors know what’s good for their cities, and them, Charlie Hays and Ed Murray will be barn-dancing up and down the attractive walkways named for them, along with their new neighbors.

      While Frank Gehry explains that this new form of design, and its results, are unbelievably inexpensive to build, but, by Federal law, can only be bought for less money than they cost to build. And that any violation, including a dime of speculation, will result in having the secret pin pulled, causing the structure to be swiftly dismantled and removed.

      After which-guarantee- sheer artistic-wannabe conformity and desperation will definitely raise property values in South Lake Union and Pearl District, while preventing anybody from forcing anyone else out on account of that fact. Better raise the fences on the Aurora Bridge. This could be good!


    2. Wow, I didn’t realize that. I figured Portland was a bit more liberal with their housing, and things were a bit more spread out as far as the city goes, so housing prices weren’t rising that much. This suggests that the Seattle situation is not due entirely to the big tech boom. It is just part of a larger West Coast growth spurt (due in part to California growth which has sent people to cheaper areas) and urbanization.

      1. What’s pushing up the prices in Seattle is the extremely low inventory. Sellers vanished in the crash as so many of them were underwater, and now even six years into the recovery the number of homes for sale is far below the historic norm. I thought it would be back to normal in a couple years but it just keeps going on and on and on. So the combination of the population increase, kids growing up and starting families, high tech salaries, and extremely low inventory means people bid up the prices far beyond the asking price. And now would-be sellers say they won’t because they’re afraid of not being able to afford a replacement house. Then there are still people underwater who can’t sell. And a lot of people who, for whatever reason, are not moving like people used to do.

        Rent increases are more straightforward: the rents are high because the vacancy rates are low in the desirable places. But they’re not down to the 1% extreme in Portland, or the lows of the for-sale inventory.

        I don’t know whether the low inventory is specific to Seattle or more widespread. But rents have been going up all across the country, even in areas where house prices aren’t. It’s probably a repeat of the Depression/WWII stagnation: housing construction halted from 1929 to 1945, so after the war there was a severe housing shortage and they built like mad. Likewise there was no construction from 2008-2011, and when the population definitively started increasing again it took a long time to restart apartment construction, partly because of a belief that the increase wouldn’t last, and partly because restrictive zoning limits the amount of construction, and partly because only a few parts of the city are truly convenient for living without a car and having a full range of entertainment. Most of the country has its head even further in the sand, and is against any growth and is in denial about the attractions of urbanism/density, so when people flock to the traditional city centers the spaces quickly fill up and it’s hard to get more built.

      2. And now would-be sellers say they won’t because they’re afraid of not being able to afford a replacement house.

        I’m in that category. On paper, I have an “asset” (in quotes because is your primary residence really an asset?) that’s worth a tidy sum of money even after subtracting the mortgage. In practice, it’s as illiquid as a block of aluminum. If I sold it tomorrow–entirely possible, given the market around here–everything else has also gone up in price so where do I live? And can I compete with the people bringing in twice the money I’d have, or cash offers?

        I’d desperately love to live in a 2BR condo in several different neighborhoods, or a two-level townhouse, or something and somewhere similar. But so would everyone else, especially in the areas that I’d like to live in, and those have skyrocketed faster than the rest of the city. Added together, there’s no financial or logistical reason for me to sell, so my house stays out of the inventory “puddle” (versus pool; not deep enough to be a pool).

      3. That’s where we need to widen the number of convenient neighborhoods so that everyone isn’t squeezing into a few of them. I look at living in Broadview and it’s an hour to downtown on the bus, and that may be just the first part of my journey, and do I want to do that several times a week? And is there a supermarket I can walk to? Is there a library that’s not in a horrible location like the West Seattle one (in north Admrial, a long walk from frequent buses, and hidden away on a residential street so I could barely find it)? Are other pedestrians around or will I feel like the only one? Is it less than an hour’s walk from a night owl? If more neighborhoods had a full range of services within walking distance, and full-time frequent transit, then the demand would spread out and dilute and the price rises in any location would be less.

      4. Here’s one instance where term “politically correct” doesn’t mean not speaking ill of minorities no matter how much they deserve it.

        From National Public Radio-probably the worst- and all through the rest of the media, most discussion of economic trends, like housing prices, finish with a bewildered calf with its tongue hanging out staring at the moon and wondering why there are so few houses people can afford to buy.

        After they’ve been forced out of the ones they did actually have, raising questions about the scarcity idea. Starting with the politically embarrassing question of exactly why skilled workers in some industries are paid so highly, while many more can’t afford to live in the homes that first group takes over.

        As if this is, well, just the way it is. Tax laws? Loss of unions? Not a raise in 40 years? (Obligatory yawn.) Well, now back to Planet Money! Wonder if South Lake Union has an atmosphere. The program is really called that!

        Idea that anybody, like the vast majority, can organize and do anything to really correct the politics? One. Just. Does. Not. Discuss, It. Anyway, home sales to the enormously wealthy are up, employment has gone up by one job, wages still holding where they were in 1970..

        Will give you one thing, RossB. First time anybody has used the word “liberal” without sneering and spitting on the sidewalk in forty years.

        But “liberal”? The political movement that gave the last half dozen generations literally everything they have- and are demanding on credit since the paid jobs got abducted to Planet Money?

        Even Bernie Sanders has only got the guts to say “Progressive.” “Socialist?” Notice how few people notice or care. But “liberal”? Focus groups say it’ll be safe to say it when the world falls into the Sun.

        Glenn, a MAX stop by the Stadium had one panel of an old Senator Wayne Morse poster from the ’60’s. Crowd of ordinary people, lunch boxes, milkman with some bottles. “Wayne Morse! A Real Liberal!” Thanks, Ross.


      5. Don’t forget the recent Chinese blockbuster film set in Seattle, …. and our rainy reputation combined with large swaths of the earth facing a parched future. Dosnt take too many rich folks the world over to hedge their bets with a house in Seattle to warp our housing market.

      6. Wow, I didn’t realize that. I figured Portland was a bit more liberal with their housing, and things were a bit more spread out as far as the city goes, so housing prices weren’t rising that much

        They’ve done a pretty good job of getting multiple unit housing in a number of places, but we have the issue of vast areas of the city dedicated to SFH.

        East of about SE 35th Avenue, it is very difficult to find any apartments, until you get to the highly undesirable areas along Interstate 205. There are many, many great conversions of older SFHs into duplex or triplex or quadruplex. There’s at least one octoplex done that way that I know of. None of those are very recent. Currently illegal in most of the city, just like Seattle SFH zones.

        Also, Portland has decided that if you are renting a room or a part of your house, you have to pay city business life fe fees as if you were a commercial apartment owner. So, this discourages people from any more multiplex conversions.

        There is a lot of sprawl, but a huge portion of that is happening in Clark County. Only a certain number of people are willing to sit in traffic for that long trying to get across the river.

        East of I-205, there are huge areas that were developed before it was incorporated into the city of Portland in the post-MAX era. They are making some progress at bringing those areas into the 20th century, but huge areas where builders crammed houses into areas with no sidewalks or even paved roads remain. Naturally, those are not especially desirable areas in terms of housing demand.

        Some of the suburbs could be nice places. Gladstone has sidewalks everywhere and could be a really nice, walkable city. It has OK ish bus service. However, it recently elected a tea party city council. Rent prices have dropped a bit in recent years as regressive policies make it less pleasant to live there.

        In short, what I said in a previous comment thread: we’ve got about 1% vacancy here. Once the available mixed use stuff in SLU happens, then what? Seattle could well be next in line for this type of crisis. You’ve got the same problem with vast areas of SFH that are untouchable.

      7. Unincorporated areas got crammed houses with no sidewalks rather than low-density sprawl? That sounds like the opposite of here, at least for post-1960s growth.

      8. Condo and apartment developments in east Portland (in this case with paved streets):
        Near Kirk Park
        Near Rockwood MAX Station

        Southeast Portland transition:
        This View is near Mt. Tabor Park, and shows the abrupt transition towards the center of the map (approximately SE 50th) between areas that are much harder to develop into dense housing, and areas on the left of the view where dense SFH as well as apartments and multiplex conversions of older houses have been allowed with a much more liberal hand in the past.

        Even then, much of the land between 12th and 52nd is zoned for single family housing.

        Some of it has been converted to multiple units but (directly across the street) much of it is single family. In fact, in the particular link I just gave you, the two SFH houses you see have been demolished and replaced by a single HUGE SFH house that looks like it moved here from somewhere in Beverly Hills or something – complete with the HUGE stucco wall that faces the street.

        So, if anything, the current SFH zoning has us going the wrong direction in inner southeast Portland anyway.

      9. Ross,

        Oregon has much tougher land use laws than Washington. Drive out 26 west of Beaverton and you’ll pass several miles of strong commercial development on both sides of the freeway. Then when you pass by Cornelius Pass Road, in about a half mile the buildings completely stop and it turns into untouched countryside. You’ve passed the Urban Growth Boundary and there is no leakage. It’s very much like Germany in that way.

        Unfortunately, Glenn is right about the areas within the City of Portland. They have become so desirable that simply no more people can fit in. At least, not without under the table subletting, which is pretty rampant. It’s not San Francisco yet, but heading there.

        And he’s right that nearly all the sprawl happens here in Clark County. Which is why I very much do NOT want any new bridges across the Columbia River. Keep the bottle tightly corked by the reliably hour long commutes from this side of the river.

    1. I had wondered, now that they are faced with potentially returning Brenda to UDS to bore the second tunnel in Pamela’s place, if the contractors might have been stepping up the pace of Brenda’s first bore.
      Where did you see this info? The latest I’ve been able to find is in the December Progress Report released last week.

      1. Pamela is doing a bit better in her super-slow-mo mode than they originally expected too. So maybe they won’t need to return Brenda to U-Dist.

        Cross your fingers and do your lucky dance.

      2. How are you accessing the December Progress Report? I click on the link to it and I get a connection error. I’ve tried my tricks in my toolkit already.

    2. But! Did she die with her hammer in her hand?

      The Big Bend Tunnel that was John Henry’s last place of employment, was a Tunnel too. Too bad only folk singers left are pony-tailed 80 year olds on public TV fundraisers.

      This one just doesn’t “scan” as rap. Long handled railroad-spike hammer just had different rhythm. Though jackhammer is exactly right.

      Stuck boring machine is same beat and melody as the Silent Symphony somebody did. Which didn’t have the attorneys yelling, though.



      1. Except he (John Henry) was hammering a steel drill for making holes to drive the tunnel, not a spike maul. :)

  2. Thanks to Olivia-who not only diverts attention away from an ad more disgusting than skin-condition- but also calls up a potentially Oscar winning transit-oriented movie that will shine as much as all other current movies suck and rake in the entire cost of converting I-405 into a bullet train corridor.

    Timing is good right now for a re-make of Leonard Bernstein’s breath-taking “On the Town”- three sailors on shore-leave meeting-and here’s where Olivia and transit come in- a cute girl chosen by the subway system to be “Miss Turnstiles”.

    But Olivia, if you can find a cure for freckles- please destroy the laboratory notes. Because by March 19, we’ll need a “Miss Proof of Payment!”

    Mark Dublin

  3. Oh look, another slightly less snarky Mercer Island link…

    Those pesky Islanders, I don’t understand AT ALL why they would want to preserve their right to use the “express lanes” / HOV lanes / Diamond lanes / whatever you want to call them.

    “WE” are giving them the holy grail of transit projects after all!

    No words….

    1. Those pesky Islanders, I don’t understand AT ALL…

      I understand it just fine. I also vehemently disagree with it, find it selfishly-motivated, and at complete odds with what was approved by voters as well as my own personal belief on how transportation needs to go in this region. Mercer Island seems to be deliberately missing the definition of the word “compromise,” and that’s disappointing.

      1. Have we determined what is on the table?

        Playing devil’s advocate… Islanders probably see this:

        New freeway light rail station in exchange for….

        Removal of center lane access (to make way for the trains), no concrete plans to allow islanders to use new HOV lanes as single occupant vehicles.

        Reconfiguration of freeway overpass near park’n’ride to build bus loop / intercept / drop-off facility for east side residents. Will require buses to “loop” through the town center.

        Am I missing anything here?

        Islanders understand its near impossible to find a reliable place to park after 7am at the park’n’ride.

        Mercer Island also does not have a comprehensive and reliable local bus network to “feed” the new light rail station (thus requiring residents to drive to the park’n’ride).

        So where is there any compromise with these folks?

      2. Unlike almost every other comparable situation, Mercer Island has an agreement between themselves, the state, King County, Bellevue, Seattle, and Sound Transit concerning the physical infrastructure and operation of I-90 which entitles them to some kind of mitigation which specifically includes “additional transit facilities and services such as additional
        bus service, parking available for Mercer Island residents, and other measures.” Regardless of what any of us might think about Mercer Island and its residents, the state and Sound Transit have an obligation to fulfill here.

        The worst-case outcome is years of litigation over the meaning of the 1976 MOA and its 2004 amendment, and a likely delay in East Link. The MOA is like the War Powers Act; neither side wants to test it in court for fear of losing. Therefore it is prudent for ALL parties involved to come to a mutually agreeable resolution.

      3. Islanders knew the SOVs in the express lane was only temporary until rail was built, but now they’re trying to have their cake and eat it too. Full park n rides is a problem in many places, not just Mercer Island, and it’s not “their” spaces. All-day transit across the island is minimal because they never rode it when it was there, for decades.

      4. CP,

        There is absolutely no way to “to allow islanders to use new HOV lanes as single occupant vehicles”. How would “Mercer Island only” be enforced? How? Would you put GoodToGo equipment on the HOV lane? That might work but it would mean that people who this trip qualify for HOV but normally don’t could not use the lane. Maybe that’s an OK trade-off, but unlikely to get legislative approval.

        Seriously; don’t be a stupid ideologue about this. I was there when the rebuilding of I-90 happened and Mike is exactly correct; the access to the reversible lanes was only until they were converted to a transitway. There was no eternal guarantee of access.

        And he’s absolutely spot-on right that there was the 202 down Island Crest Way and the 201 running on East and West Mercer Ways for decades. Empty.

        You made your bed, now lie in it.

      5. Anandakos-
        In theory, you could implement Mercer Island SOV access to an HOV lane by turning it into a HOT lane and then exempting Mercer Island transponders from the toll via backend programming. Not saying I think it is a good idea, just saying it is possible.

        You are correct that there is no eternal guarantee of access, however WSDOT sent a letter to Mercer Island when Gregoire was governor which straight up said that Mercer Island would get SOV access to the HOV lane unless/until the lane was converted to a HOT lane. This is what MI has latched on to. WSDOT could certainly walk that back now if they wanted, but the question then becomes is it politically desirable to try and walk it back. As I stated before, nobody wants to test the 1976 MOA in court and so a negotiated solution is vastly preferable.

        I’m well aware the 202 had minimal ridership. I’m not advocating its restoration as anything but construction mitigation. Once East Link opens, it would go away. I do think the 204 needs better headways and a longer span of service, but that’s a separate issue.

      6. @Anandakos

        “You made your bed, now lie in it”

        Excuse me, who do you think you are talking to? Where do you come off justifying that type of attitude?

        With that kind of attitude, its no wonder MI City Council is acting the way they are. Way to promote an “Us vrs. THEM” mentality….

    2. CP, I’ve pushed back on reflexive MI bashing in the past, but on this one I’m sympathetic to the bashers – though the ad-hominem flavor is still disappointing. The express lane deal negotiated in 1976 was probably unfair even then, and 40 years later there’s absolutely no reason for MI to have special access. The Council is basically leveraging the situation to get more parking capacity and possibly more bus service – after the city rejected a higher-capacity P&R design several years ago for aesthetic reasons.

      Sitting government officials are always loathe to give away leverage – whether it’s a “mitigation” deal struck many years ago or ST’s need to move the East Link project along, and if I were on the MI city council I might have the same general attitude. But this is a thumb in the eye to the rest of the region and is confirming the strange and anti-civic view of many of my neighbors that the express lanes are a deity-given right, regardless the circumstances of the rest of the region.

      1. Jim-

        I generally agree with what you wrote, although at this point I’m tending to focus more on the reflexive anti-Mercer Island tone. I don’t necessarily think it is a bad thing the City Council is using what leverage they have to get things they want; that’s politics. I draw the line at the Center Roadway and HOV lane access though; the Center Roadway is going away for East Link as agreed to 40 years ago, so we need to deal with it, and HOV lane access would be an unprecedented giveaway with no justification at all beyond some really vague wording in the MOA and letters from WSDOT when Gregoire was governor.

        I live just around the corner from the park and ride, and frankly I’d be fine with a larger structure (even though I would never park there), but that ship sailed long before I moved to the Island.


        Could have part of the solution for Mercer Island turnback requiring minimal room. This particular turntable, in Solingen, Germany, is fitted with trolley wires, which engage main wire as so bus can leave, after table is turned.

        Only bringing this up to scare those who deserve it because LINK voltage is too high to handle trolleybuses. Too bad. Since, if I wasn’t dead, I’d have seniority to drive out of East Base.

        Which is in turn supposed to scare East Base that there’s rumor that even their route to North Bend is going to be wired. Forget ISIS. There’s worse terror on the loose!


      3. MI was supposed to lose their special privileges if the average speed in the HOV lane dropped below a certain level, which I believe it has. So technically their special access rights should have been terminated already.

        MI needs to get the chip off their shoulders and start acting like a part of the greater community.

      4. This just seems like more ‘MI tail, wagging the ST dog’ or should that be ‘beating the ST dog’.
        MI has always had political clout going back to Aubry Davis.

      5. Mark – I love it!

        lazarus – Yes, WSDOT has done so well converting HOV2 to HOV3 to maintain 45 mph… oh wait, that’s right. They haven’t done that anywhere except I-405 with the HOT lanes, and we all know how screwed up that situation has gotten.

        Stop thinking everyone on Mercer Island is the same. I live there, and I’ve clearly stated above that I think the Center Roadway privileges and the ask for HOV lane access is total BS. I don’t deny that many of my neighbors have a different viewpoint, but alienating allies with broad-brush statements is counterproductive.

    3. Mercer Island is the reason for the best sentence that’s ever been written on this blog: “One commenter called on Sound Transit and other “off-Islanders” not to be “pigeons that just come here, drop your s__, and leave.”

      1. Well, hundred percent defense: Two bridges onto the island. Will probably have to blow up the east one. But the west one? Just open some hatches and say the work order to close them got lost.

        Then you could claim that after it broke a cable, doubtless from the shock that cut the eastern attack route, the west one got sliced open by an iceberg, and sent glurgling to Lacey Morrow’s Locker. Some experience with this mode, so should be a snap.

        Making the Island’s new anthem “Nearer My God To Thee!” Speaking of this, the fact is that the Final Mercer Island Deposit begins every pigeon’s last pilgrimage to where they all go to die: the roof structure at Tukwila International. But this also means that Mercer Island will soon be spared.

        Because based on the ancient customs of Chicago’s famous CTA species of pigeon, these birds are mystically drawn, in a huge cloud, to where somebody just clicked a peanut machine.

        Like on the Rainier Avenue platform. Since it’s probably a noise ordinance that all peanut machines be digital, pigeons like a good percussion section, meaning problem solved. Until you build your mayor a statue.

        So tell your friends not to worry, Sam. A lot of the world’s islanders have been cannibals for ages,


      2. Nah, the best sentence on this blog was the one where a Mercer Island resident demanded special Mercer Island seating on the trains specifically dedicated to Mercer Island residents.

        With that sort of attitude in the mix, It’s exceptionally difficult to respond to MI concerns with grace and neighborliness.

  4. It seems Onebus already has the new bus schedules uploaded for after the U-Link changes. It’s interesting to see the various routings and timetables.

    I’ll admit I’m kind of disappointed in the new 372. Extra Saturday and evening service along the corridor is nice, but there seem to be some flaws.

    1 – Metro confirmed to me that the 372 will remain an express bus between Lake City and UW. With the 68 and 72 being deleted, several stops along 25th Ave NE and Lake City Way will have no service if the 372 skips them. Can anyone explain it to me?

    2 – Reduced peak hour service. Currently the 68 and 372 routinely leave people behind at Blakely and U-Village (towards UW). But if you compare the number of 68+372s now with the proposed number of 372s after the change, there will be 10% fewer buses to UW from 7-10am. It seems that Metro is attempting to solve the overcrowded bus problem by … using fewer buses.

    1. Didn’t Metro add a couple stops to the 372 to make up for the 72’s deletion? It was going to. Also, I recall the 522 was going to add a stop, although I didn’t see ST’s confirmation.

    2. The service change package (which somebody linked to earlier and I downloaded it) says, “Route 372… Add some stops along Lake City Way NE and Ravenna Ave NE to make up for gaps left by route 72.” The express stop list in the Part B amendment is 120th, 115th (new), 110th, 24th Ave (new), 92nd, 86th (new), 80th, 75th, 65th, 55th, Blakeley, 47th.

      1. I don’t know much about the 68; I’ve ridden it only twice. The change order says, “Cancel route 68… North of 75th, riders may use more frequent Route 67 to reach the U-District. Note that Route 67 will continue as Route 65 serving U Village. Riders along NE 75th St: (1) may use Route 67 on Roosevelt Way NE, (2) May use Routes 73 and 373 on 15th Ave NE, (3) May use Route 372 on 25th Ave NE, (4) Riders wishing to travel east-west may use new Route 62 or revised Route 71 on NE 65th Street. Riders along 25th Ave NE may use more frequent Route 372. Riders at University Village may use Route 65 that turns into Route 67 if they wish to reach Maple Leaf or Northgate.”

    3. The deletion of routes 68 and 72 and to be replaced by route 372 is an absolute joke and I have told Metro that. I also told them that the current 372 is already standing room only when it comes to my stop at NE 92nd and at times it leaves passengers behind at Blakely and the U Village but they don’t care.

      Their attitude is that this is our plan and we are going to shove it down the riders throats whether the riders like it or not. I talked a couple of times to Metro planners about this but I would have been better off talking to a wall because the wall would have responded better.

      This whole revision of the NE transit lines is going to bite Metro in the behind because a lot of people are not aware of the changes coming and when they find out the s**t will hit the fan.

      I aware that some of you feel that the revisions are better but they are not and there is nothing that will ever convince me of that.. When for the new service riders may have to walk 5 blocks or more uphill that is not an improvement in service. When some riders like those on route 72 lose their direct service to the upper part of the U District that is not an improvement in service.

      And this new stop for route 522 at 20th Ave NE is not an improvement that when to get to it you have to walk uphill 7 blocks along Lake City Way when there is no sidewalk on the west side and the sidewalk on the east side is in terrible condition with the concrete broken up.

      I am sure those who think that the NE service changes are wonderful but how many of you live in NE Seattle and are affected by them. If you do not live in NE Seattle you don’t know the affect these changes will have on riders.

      1. To Mike Orr.

        So the riders of route 68 can use either the 73 or 373 on 15th Ave NE except that the 373 does not operate on the weekends and the 73 will not operate on Sunday with the changes so that eliminates that option for Sunday. Plus the 373 only operates in peak hours southbound in the morning and northbound in the evening. The only change for the 373 is that they are adding around 2 or 3 more trips.

        Again that is Metro’s interpretation of improvements. Obviously Metro needs to get a new dictionary because the one they use has the wrong version of what an improvement is because it is the opposite of what I and others who complained to Metro feel what an improvement is and these changes are not an improvement.

      2. I think the hope is that with the new 372 more evenly spaced than the combination of the old 68/372, the buses will handle the loads better than it might appear. Under the current conditions, you might have a half-full 68 leaving right behind a completely full 372. Ultimately, time well tell. Hopefully, if people do routinely get left behind, Metro will find a way to add additional 372 trips to carry the load. Since we’re not in a recession anymore, they have no excuses.

        Looking at the map, I see just two stops served by the 68, but not the 372 – 25th/60th and 25th/70th, both of which are within 1/4 mile of another stop. Considering that the buses are already crowded with passengers and it’s slow enough as it is, some stop consolidation seems appropriate.

        That said, there are some significant positive changes. After March, the 372, 65, and 75 will run every 15 minutes all day on weekdays and Saturdays (compared with every 30 minutes today). During the evenings, the 372 will run much later than it currently does, and all three routes will operate every 30 minutes until midnight, rather than going down to hourly after 10 PM.

      3. I respectfully disagree. It might only be 1/4 mile, but it’s on a hill which makes it inconvenient.

        Also, consider what other buses are doing in that area. In the area, 35th is similarly built up, but the 65 gets stops ever 2-3 blocks. The 75 on Sand Point Way get stops every 3-4 blocks. The 71+62 along 65th gets stops every 2 blocks. 10 block spacing for the 68 seems arbitrary.

      4. The stops on route 65, really, are too close together. A stop every block is ok when ridership is low and the bus will end up blowing by nearly every stop anyway, but if the bus actually has to stop 8-10 times every mile, it really does take forever to get anywhere. I’m fine with more frequent stops on some of the steeper hills (such as the when the 65 is on 55th St. between 35th and 40th), but 25th Ave. is nowhere near that steep. Nor is it even necessary for someone near one of the soon-to-be-discontinued stops to even walk up the hill to catch the bus. In the case of 60th, it’s equal distance to walk down the hill to 55th. (I’m not sure where you’re getting the “10 block spacing from” – 55th to 65th is two blocks, not ten).

        Ultimately, I believe the reason why the 71+62 and 65 stop more frequently than the 372 is simply that Metro hasn’t gotten around yet to doing route consolidations on those corridors. The 44 used to stop nearly every single block from Ballard all the way to U-district. While the 44 today can hardly be considered fast, it’s still better than it was before.

        That said, there is one big difference between the 372 and the 65/75 – the 372 is already pretty full by the time it hits 25th, coming all the way from Bothell, while the 65/75 are getting all of their riders from northeast Seattle. So, in the case of the 372, that leaves a lot more person-hours wasted by having stops every single block than in the case of the 65/75. There is also the issue that, for safety reasons, the 75 pretty much has to stop every block on the sections of Sand Point Way that don’t have sidewalks.

      5. I guess I should have said “streets” not “blocks”. Between 55th and 75th St, the 372 has 3 stops, 65 has 7 stops, and and the 75 has 6 stops. Either the 65/75 have too many stops, or the 372 doesn’t have enough. And it’s kind of a slap in the face to tell people who are losing local stops that this is “improved service”.

        Also, I don’t think it’s fair to punish people living in Ravenna because of people living in Bothell. But that’s Metro’s for making a chimeric route like the 372. Is it a long distance commuter route? A frequent local service between UW, U-Village, and Lake City? Let’s make it both! From the recent ridership estimates, about half the 372 ridership comes from Lake City and south. Half comes from northern suburbs. You can’t simultaneously please the commuters with an express-type bus and the local riders with local-stopping buses that don’t skip stops because they’re full of said commuters.

  5. Like Lazarus points out, OBA has the drop on the new routing and timetables. That’s nice to see.

    And I’ll also state that I’m slightly less ticked off by the split of the 48. 48 southbound from the University will have a 1:27am trip which is brand new. It also looks like the 45 and 48 will arrive at the same time as each other to the stops where they overlap in the late evening hours. Hopefully drivers will give people time to move from one bus to the other.

    I still really wish that the 48 would go all the way up to Roosevelt, but that’s a fight I’ve apparently lost.

    1. Is it that the 45 and 48 arrive at the same time, or are they simply interlined in the late evening? I think that would make more sense, as there is less traffic to slow the route down at those hours.

      1. They are still two separate routes even in the late night. I’d like an interline but Metro seems hard-core predisposed to permanently and forever splitting these two routes. (The official reasoning is so that the current 48South will be electrified someday. Interlining with the not-electrified current 48North would mean an equipment swap during the service day.)

        As long as the drivers of the two routes will wait for the other route (a reasonable time, two or three minutes) in the evenings and nights instead of one route speeding off seconds before the other arrives, I can live with it. During the day service period, I don’t care as much because the scheduled wait is approximately six minutes. At night, it could be 15-30 minutes depending on exactly when.

  6. Why do you keep calling the Broadway streetcar extension the Aloha extension? It hasn’t been going to go to Aloha for some time.

  7. Continued sniping at Mercer Island is counterproductive. It would be nice if one of the staff could write a piece detailing the planning history of I-90 including the Memorandum of Agreement, so that everyone understands where Mercer Island is coming from (I’d do this myself on Page 2 but I don’t have the time and won’t until this fall at the earliest).

    Mercer Island has the MOA which lays out the responsibilities of the various parties involved. So far the MI City Council has been very reasonable with its approach to negotiations, despite A) a vocal minority of residents wanting to play hardball/kill East Link, B) WSDOT’s near-silence concerning MI I-90 issues despite the very visible presence and assurances from ex-Secretary Peterson, C) Sound Transit not having many good options to address issues, and D) An ongoing controversial planning effort for the Town Center area, where everyone agrees the current code isn’t working but no one can agree what should change, which is killing any opportunity for public/private partnerships on parking and station access issues.

    1. Question:

      What would you propose as a solution the concerns raised by MI residents? What is something that even approaches reasonable? Try to avoid solutions that look like asking extra privileges that no one else in the state would have the gall to dream up.

      People like reasonable solutions, present some and there might be a more positive dialogue.

      1. 1) Increase on-Island bus service, probably via improving headways and span of service on the 204.
        2) As mitigation during East Link construction, restore the 202 (South Mercer Island to downtown Seattle) as peak-hour, peak-direction service. Also improve 550 and 554 headways as construction mitigation.
        3) Sound Transit should kick in some amount of money, say $10-15 million, towards providing additional parking in a to-be-built mixed use project in Mercer Island’s Town Center. This probably gets you 200-400 parking stalls (the current park and ride is 447 stalls). Turn this over to the City and let them manage it however they will.
        4) Convert the East Mercer Way offramps and intersection of East Mercer Way and SE 36th Street into roundabouts to improve traffic flow during peak.
        5) Toll I-90. The toll should be charged when going onto Mercer Island (so at the East Channel Bridge westbound, and the floating bridge eastbound), which would effectively cut the rate Mercer Island pays in half compared to a Bellevue-Seattle trip. This would cut down on I-90 traffic a bit and help mitigate the cut-through traffic issues.
        6) in conjunction with a bus intercept proposal, make improvements to the Link station design to accommodate higher than originally envisioned ridership. This could include more bike parking, more TVMs, more station canopy coverage, etc. Note that I don’t know how you would implement bus intercept, since the ideas put out to date have all been shot down.

        My ideas almost certainly do not represent the median Mercer Island resident, but with the exception of I-90 tolling might actually work.

      2. @Jason Rogers

        I would be in favor of some increased transit, but its worth exploring how this will be paid for. It ought to be a joint effort between agencies serving the island rather than an ST only venture.

        Specifically towards point (3) it is not reasonable for ST to contribute money to a privately managed park and ride. This is public money, for transit projects, not private garages. If a park and ride is paid for by ST tax dollars, all tax payers have a right to use it.

        Should we start hanging signs on off island park and rides that prohibit islanders from using them? Its just as unreasonable in the reverse.

      3. You asked what I thought would be reasonable and had a snowball’s chance of occurring. I agree the virtual gift of money is an issue. Much more reasonable was the earlier proposal to have ST build more parking themselves, use it as mitigation for the South Bellevue closure, and then turn it over to the city once the new South Bellevue garage opened. That ship has sailed though, so we have to work with what we have.

        ST contributes money for parking related to transit projects all the time. Heck, they’re building a garage at Northgate specifically as mitigation for lost mall parking, although I’ll admit the situation is not apples-to-apples as that is more related to a property takings/contractual issue. In the context of station access and impact mitigation, I see nothing wrong with ST building parking where appropriate.

        Specific to Mercer Island parking, I suppose ST could continue to own and operate the parking, but one of the big sticking points for many Islanders is having “their” parking that off-islanders can’t use. Giving it to the city solves that problem, although frankly I’m not crazy about ongoing maintenance costs. If ST were to own it, they would have to make it available for everyone, and that isn’t acceptable; it makes the current situation worse. In that scenario, I’d rather no more parking be built, and ST start charging fees for the current P&R. Use a distance-based variable fee or something (e.g. at Mercer Island P&R 98040 is $2, 98005/6/7/8 is $3, etc. while at Eastgate 98040 is $3 and 98005/6/7/8 are $2) to really encourage people to not drive further than they have to. I-90 tolls would also help with that by making it more expensive simply to drive onto the Island in the first place.

        See also the Issues Matrix resulting from the Mercer Island Listening Tour; it specifically addresses parking.

      4. Temporary construction mitigation is different from long-term privilege. I have no opinion whether the construction impacts are sufficient to justify interim parking, SOVs in the express lanes, or extra bus service. But I don’t want to see Mercer Island granted extraordinary privileges long-term. Jason Roger’s tolling scheme is exactly what I’ve recommended: charge eastbound at the Seattle end and westbound at the Bellevue end. That way islanders will get an automatic 50% discount on all round trips, which is fair since their impact on the bridge is half that of through drivers, and is akin to the ferries charging less to go to the islands rather than across the Sound.

  8. Does anyone know the point of the 5th Ave contraflow bus lane extension? I don’t see the benefit of connecting the two lanes.

    1. The Yesler Way bridge over 4th Avenue is being rehabilitated and thus will close the intersection of Yesler and Terrace, where quite a few buses (mostly Community Transit routes) stop. Those buses will instead be using the contraflow lane extension between Washington and the I-5 express lane ramp.

      1. Ahh! I gotcha. I was under the impression that the lanes were going to be permanent. Thanks Bruce.

  9. Sorry I’m late – very busy day between taxes, errands and health – but here’s my review of “Everyone But the People” book about the defeat of the latest TransLink tax attempt by Jordan Bateman. I hope you read the Kindle version to save some money on a good, quality opposition view of TransLink.

    As I say in my review, “Ultimately, those whom need to make the big ask of taxpayers for more money via direct democracy need to read this book, think it over or make damn sure you can respond to the likely arguments you’ll read in this book.” The book link is

    Joe over and out


    Bovine, sorry it took so long to get back to you. Pic here looks right, especially length of hammer handle. According to US Forest Service booklet, John Henry’s hammer probably was technically a “Double Jack”.

    But really important to both the legend, and the song: until late 19th century, like 1870, blasting rock required drilling holes, filling them with gunpowder, putting a fuse in the hole, and sealing it with dirt. And then yelling “Fire in the whole!” while on your way behind cover.

    Drilling procedure: steel drills of increasing length, each one drilled into the rock for its full length. Drill was then replaced by a longer one. Repeated as many times as necessary. I think “steel drivers” were paid by adding up the drills.

    “Fifteen foot of steel while the steam drill only made nine!” quite a contest.

    One version has John say: “Their hole done choked and their drill done broke..” fairly likely with an untried machine. Because it had yet to be adjusted to hold the drill straight and turn it. If it got “locked” in the hole, “choked” the next hammer contact would break it.

    By hand, another worker, called a “shaker” knelt at the top of the hole and turned the drill, also shaking loose rock chips, and poured water into the hole to cool and lubricate- as the hammer repeatedly came down on the drill within inches of his head. Necessitating unbelievable skill for both. Doubt there was much workers’ comp. In a lot of jobs like this, sometimes no record of number or names killed on duty.

    From the quarry-men and loggers I worked with a year or two, and also for coal miners and deep sea fishermen, they- and somewhat less,their wives- were of two minds about onset of powered machinery. Which can still get you killed. Though much after World War II, like with a lot of industrial work, fathers would order their kids to college so they wouldn’t spend their lives dirty and endangered.

    Everybody lived longer, and in fewer pieces. But one reason things get so tense between, say, loggers and environmentalists who haven’t been, is that work like this becomes a highly respected way of life. Very much like a professional sport, except more intense.

    A steel-driver definitely made more money than an average laborer. But think whether you could’ve done that work if it was only for money. And when the time came, go into IT where you’ll make even more. However, to run the steam drill and its digital descendants, the man at the controls still has to know exactly the same things about the steel and the rock that John Henry did.

    Thanks for making me look up the hammer, Bovine.


  11. “Apodment restrictions not curtailing apodment construction, but they are raising the price of the lowest-priced units. Nice work Seattle City Council!”

    I don’t think anyone is crying over the inevitable, slow, decaying death of apodments. What people are crying over is the missed opportunity to enact some useful, true low-income housing legislature (preemption: apodments are not low-income housing).

    1. Low-income housing legislation is not enough, and apodments fill a market niche. There are tens or hundreds of thousands of people who make too much for low-income housing but not enough for current or mid-term Seattle rents. That’s the niche that apodments, ADUs, upzones, and dividing houses address in their different ways. Apodments also provide short-term leases down to 3 months.

      Up through the 1960s there were things called SROs: cheap micro-apartments with a shared bathroom. That’s where people with low wages or unsteady jobs lived, as well as those new to town or newly divorced or students, and those who prefer a small space and don’t want to spend lots of money on housing. SROs don’t exist anymore because they’ve been zoned away, although a few near Summit survive as sub-studio apartments or hotel/apartments. Now people who in the past would have lived in SROs spend their whole income on an apartment, or sleep on friends’ couches, or are homeless, or move out of the city or out of Pugetopolis. Apodments are a modern version of SROs, so they fill a market niche that has just been ignored from the 1970s through today, but ignoring the need doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

      1. Therein lies the problem. These people who make too much for LIH and are forced into Apodments, because the non-LIH market for habitable dwellings has gone out of reach.

        Apodments are us, as a society, saying: “Thanks for filling a necessary role in society, here’s a consolation room in a terrible housing situation that you can kind of afford.” After a few months, most working people get fed up with the living situation and, like you said, move away. We as a society shrug our shoulders and say “Hey, they were given something and turned it down.”

        Apodments are a terrible social blemish.

      2. They can’t get into apodments because apodments are very full. The issue is not apodments replacing the lowest-priced studios at the same rate, but the entire rental market skewing upward and apodments going along with it.

  12. Fun quiz from The Guardian: multiple choice, identify the city based on the satellite view of it’s train station.

    I got 9/12 but had to use process of elimination or outright guess on a couple.

  13. How about a status update on the Northgate to North Seattle Community College/Lichton Springs overpass?

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