See Zach’s story from February on the troubles Tunnel Boring Machine Pamela had to overcome. TBM Brenda is closing in on hole-through at the receiving pit just north of UW Station.

Graphic by Zach Shaner
Graphic by Zach Shaner

190 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: TBM Pamela Emerges Triumphant”

    1. You wod need to open more tunneling faces and get more TBMs running. Not cheap, and maybe not even physically possible due to the limitations at the other end.

      1. It seems to me that the tunnels are almost done. Now it’s a matter of installing the rails, electrical, side tunnels, and station completion. Doesn’t seem like that should take 5 years. We build skyscrapers and floating bridges in much less time.

      2. There is approx 5 years of work to do after the TBM’s finish.

        You got cross passage mining, pouring the invert, laying track, installing power and control systems, building stations, test and demonstration, etc.. If ST really threw money at it maybe they could take a year off the scedule, but would it be worth it?

        I’m hoping for a late 2020 opening anyhow.

      3. Remind me, how long did it take from the U-Link TBM breakthrough until the stations opened?

        What ST should ideally be doing is getting more TBM’s digging… but, unfortunately, the only place that’ll be happening is in Bellevue.

      4. There’s no more tunnel left in Seattle for currently funded projects. After this last segment, they’re done with tunneling.

      5. Sorry. I guess I was still stuck on the “you can have it all but not until everyone retires” post of a few days ago.

        To some exttent you could add more workers with more money, but at a certain point they start to get into each others way as there is only so much space in a tunnel.

        That tight curve at Westlake means bringing in quarter mile sections of pre-welded rail is not going to happen.

      6. I wonder if there would be a way they could try to fast track the segment up to the U-District station so that it could open earlier than 5 years. If the U-District station were open, then many of the bus transfers could be done there instead of having to run the buses down busy NE Pacific Street. Also more people would be able to walk to the station and not have to take a short bus ride to Husky Stadium with the resulting transfer issues. There might be good reasons that this could not be done, but I think it would really be a big plus if that station could open early.

      7. @MLMike — I agree. Somehow getting the U-District station to open early would be huge — it is by far the most important station that Link will ever add (I’m not counting the ones in the tunnel, as they weren’t built by ST).

      8. As I recall it was 33 months from final TBM breakthrough to ULink opening. So in theory Northgate link could be done in the same time frame which would mean opening early 2019. Sound Transit may have stretched things out longer due to funding constraints.

      9. North Link was originally going to open in 2020 but got pushed back a year due to recession. So there’s a possibility it could be pushed forward a year again, especially if there’s a 9-month contingency float in the schedule. But ST’s current attitude is not to promise things until they’re definite. There’s still a possibility of recession in the next five years.

      10. @MLMike – I once emailed ST about staging the stations like this. They said it was a problem of having places to house trains. They said opening the U Link and then North link is the best staging they can do, given that constraint.

      11. Where do they “house trains” at Husky Stadium? At the platforms. Now there may not be a convenient cross-over just to the south of U-District, but if not there is probably one planned for just north of it. Reversing in the tunnel, would require that there be one or two extra operators posted at the station to board the “rear” car of each northbound train and bring that train back into the station.

        However, that’s a relatively low cost for a huge win. This seems like a pretty specious “reason” to me.

      12. Yeah I’m totally confused how this takes 5 more years. And even our friend Bertha which still has almost all its digging left and is years behind schedule is still supposed to be open to traffic in 2018 under its updated schedule.

      13. What ST should ideally be doing is getting more TBM’s digging… but, unfortunately, the only place that’ll be happening is in Bellevue.

        There are no TBM’s involved with the East Link project. The Bellevue tunnel is too short and has two right angle bends so it’s conventionally mined.

      14. I thought mining and TBMs were the same thing. Do they have people with chisels and jackhammers and dynamite?

      15. I thought mining and TBMs were the same thing.

        Tunnel Boring Machines are used on a subset of all tunneling jobs. Fairly specific ground conditions are required. A TBM isn’t going to go through solid granite. A TBM also can’t be used where the line is too close to the surface. Since TBMs are are purpose built for every job they are only employed when there is a relatively long length to be mined. Bellevue’s tunnel is being done with a backhoe and spraying gunite on the “walls” to stabilize the soil until the actual structure can be poured.

      16. @Anandakos Unfortunately the design of Northgate Link does not contain any crossover tracks from the ones directly south of UW station until just north of NE 100th St, just before entering the elevated Northgate Station. There is then a third, turnback track just north of Northgate. So there isn’t any opportunity to turn back trains until the track is laid all the way to Northgate.

      17. Thanks, Pete. Good information but a terrible decision. That’s a very long distance on which to depend on two tracks being available at all operating times.

        So, no early opening at U-District.

    2. Ben,

      I’ve often wondered the same thing. If ST could be put on a “war footing” how soon could they finish this project sooner without compromising safety. I’m sure cost would be compromised!

      1. Problem with “war footings” is that the last time the United States was on one ended when General Lee surrendered.

        Term doesn’t mean our combat boots on enemy’s ground, but enemy boot prints leading away from our own murdered civilians. But there certainly is a clear, present, and immediate local danger:

        Would take a lot of hostile ordnance to turn a region full of local National Defense Highway into a linear graveyard in 20 seconds. But bad design and decades or wilful negligence, on top of hundred percent geological event? Any time now.

        Two tiny defense measures on the Governor’s order. A few minutes’ blasting job on a certain viaduct that the last Governor said was supposed to come down in 2012.

        And one lane buses- only every freeway, every rush hour, so one spilled fish truck can’t trap a whole rush hour full of people with nobody escaping. And a lot of others long overdue, and do-able real fast.

        ISIS didn’t poison a US water system bad enough the city really needs to be evacuated. And the Warsaw Pact missile command didn’t level Detroit. The war’s already here. Footing will cost taxes and disruption like we’ve never seen. War is hell.

        Mark Dublin

      2. If we were acting with real urgency to build mass transit, we wouldn’t just build faster, we’d build simpler. We’d build simpler by dropping our concern for preserving every view corridor and for disruptions to private vehicle traffic. We’d do a lot of it with existing roadways, paint, and buses, because we have a lot of those things already. We’d save a lot of complexity on individual lines by following natural and established transportation corridors and developing comprehensive local networks to serve places just off the line.

        Even following freeways could be made simpler than it is today. Transit could displace private-vehicle traffic instead of being part of the machine of perpetual freeway expansion.. Interchanges hindering pedestrian mobility could be removed without replacement, and extra space along the connecting arterials used for almost anything else.

        NYC got emergency bus lanes going after Sandy. Seattle got an emergency bus lane up on Westlake after the Duck Disaster on Aurora. Taking the urgency down a couple notches would only turn the cones into flex-posts in many places, because we already have a ton of transportation infrastructure, it’s just being used in a different way. Now the urgency of maintenance on some of that infrastructure is another matter… but the general program of shrinking highways and repurposing for transit helps, whereas the general program of perpetual freeway expansion digs us a deeper hole.

      3. Only the federal government has the money to put mass transit and infrastructure in general on a war footing, because it has these things called deficit spending and the federal reserve. But it’s refusing to use them, even when foreigners are begging to buy US bonds at almost zero perccent interest and urging the US to build up its infrastructure and resilience so we don’t implode.

      4. I don’t see the problem with a lack of cross over tracks. Run the trains going the wrong way for one segment just like you would if there were a problem in the tunnel that caused the trains to have to turn back early. They already have guards at the stations to yell at people if they get too close to the edge of the platform. Make them yell at people when a train is at the wrong platform too.

  1. I know it’s a dead horse but the hours of link on weekends are absurd. We just spent almost 2 billion dollars on tunnels that we close when they would be most useful.

    Sound Suburban Transit at its best…….

    1. It’s not ST, it’s Metro. Metro still operates the tunnel and sets the hours, and every time ST approaches Metro about longer hours Metro looks at it as an opportunity to extract a pile of extra cash from ST.

      Someday the buses will be out of the tunnel and ST will be in charge of the entire thing. And that point I expect better things out of ST, but until then it is still “roll up the sidewalks and go to bed early.” Ultimately we are still not a 24-hour city.

    2. ST can keep the tunnel open later if it wants. I asked Metro planners this at the STB meetup in Pioneer Square several months ago. ST would just have to pay the security costs. That seems to be the sticking point, along with the operational cost of the trains. Keeping Link running beyond its budgeted time would take money away from opening North Link sooner.

      1. But, they’re not “opening North Link sooner”. At least, they haven’t made any suggestions that that might happen.

      2. It’s the other way around. Running Link later in the evening could delay North Link.

  2. Anybody ride the new 62 route? I’m doubting its usefulness and am wishing they would drop it and restart the 30 with a terminus at the station to pickup its ridership.

    1. No no no. There’s always tons of skepticism from Metro about cross-town routes, and they end up being really important and attracting significant ridership. Cross-town service may not attract the huge crushloads at peak that other routes do, but it’s essential to constructing a network that facilitates carless living. The 62 offers a major improvement to the network.

      1. My wife and I rode the 62 yesterday. I was expecting it to be awesome, and it lived up to its expectation. It’s amazing how going from 20 minute scheduled headways (in reality, who the heck knew when the 16 would show up) to 15 minutes helped, along with going places that actual people want to go. The 16 might have allowed crummy connections to the 44, 48, and whatever buses you might have at Northgate, but its lack of frequency, reliability, and inability to go through many major destinations really limited its usefulness. The 62, OTOH, hits SLU, Fremont, Wallingford, Green Lake, Roosevelt, and Bryant, allowing transfers to a whole bunch more buses (26X, 31, 32, 40, 44, 45, etc.).

        The 45, OTOH, was a bit of a disaster. We wanted to transfer from the 62 to the 45/67, and got off at 65th & Roosevelt. The eastbound bus stop on 65th listed only the 62 and 71. Walked around the corner, noticed the southbound 45/67 stop on Roosevelt was closed due to construction. Walked back, and then noticed there was rider alert saying that the 45 would stop at the eastbound stop for the indefinite future. Of course this means that you can’t take advantage of the 45+67 combined frequency on Roosevelt if you transfer from the 62. Indeed, we saw two 67s go by while waiting for the 45.

        Once we got on the 45, we got to experience the standard confusion of having the Ave closed on Saturday combined with the extra confusion of a major bus route overhaul. There were two people waiting at the southbound stop on the Ave & Ravenna who appeared quite annoyed that the bus was going to turn on 15th instead, understandably so since a northbound 45 had decided not to be on reroute anymore and was already running down the Ave. Once turn on 15th, the driver blew by an old 48 stop that someone was also understandably expecting the 45 to honor while on reroute. I honestly have no idea who was in the right or wrong in this case. You’d think that for a major reroute that happens every week, Metro would be able to coordinate it better. You’d also think that the city would be able to decide whether it wants the Ave to be a major transit corridor or a pedestrian mall, but not make a half-assed attempt to do both.

      2. I guess my main question is, are people from Sandpoint area (or NE Seattle) using it. Everything I’ve read so far regards trips west of Roosevelt.

      3. Few people rode the 30, and a lot of those who did wished they didn’t have to. it was 30 minutes and took an inordiinate amount of time to travel snaking between 15th and 25th. It required doing that rather than a faster transfer at 65th because there was no bus service on 65th between 50th Avenue and Sand Point Way. The only people who can honestly claim to be disadvantaged by the loss of the 30 are those living around the frat houses who can walk to 15th, and those along 55th who hardly rode it anyway, and mostly rode the peak-only 74 which is still running. I would like to see another route on 55th, but something with more useful routing, and don’t hold NOAA and Magnuson Park hostage to having to go down to 55th and snake around 50th/.Ravenna Blvd.

        “are people from Sandpoint area (or NE Seattle) using it. Everything I’ve read so far regards trips west of Roosevelt.”

        NOAA isn’t open on weekends so people from Fremont to NOAA aren’t using it yet. I know at least three of them and they’re excited about a direct route rather than taking the unreliable 44 and transferring to the slow and 30-minute 30. It will also make it much easier to get from the Greenlake/Roosevelt/northern U-District area to Magnuson park for recreation or the variety of organizations there, and also give people in the low-income houuing at the park more choices. It opens up the almost total isolation of Sand Point from the rest of the city, which previously required going around to U-Village or 125th to get to north-central or northwest Seattle. And it’s twice as frequent as the 30 ever was.

        It will be the feeder to Roosevelt Station, which I believe is why Metro was so hot to start it now to prebuild ridership. It will become a major crosstown route like the 30/31, 44, 48, and 75. I’m not totally convinced on connecting it to the Dexter segment — I’d rather see it go to Ballard and something else take up Dexter — but it’s an experiment and we’ll see how it does. And most particularly, how many people go between Dexter/Fremont and 65th.

      4. Skylar wrote: “Once turn on 15th, the driver blew by an old 48 stop that someone was also understandably expecting the 45 to honor while on reroute. I honestly have no idea who was in the right or wrong in this case.”

        When the 7Xs were re-routed off the upper Ave, one knew to just go over to the 48 stops on 15th. Since now the 48 is not on the upper part of 15th in the u-dist are those stops going to remain as they are now (with 48 signs on them)? Will they be signless stops? Or will the 45 and 7Xs not stop at all between 50th and Ravenna on 15th?

      5. It’s probably driver confusion on a new route. When buses get rerouted to other streets they usually stop at all the stops that are there. Express routes would be an exception.

      6. “There’s always tons of skepticism from Metro about cross-town routes,”

        There was skepticism from Metro about crosstown routes. That has been obliterated by the success of the 48, 8, and 31/32. Metro intentionally positioned the 31/32/65/75 as a one-seat through route four years ago believing it would succeed, and it’s positioning the 62 the same way. There might be some adjustments or a split in the future because of all the slow small-street segments, but in general there will be a route from Sand Point to Greenlake and in Dexter and Tangletown.

    2. The combo of 62 and 26x appears to really rock. I think it is a great improvement.

      Will be interesting to see how the entire restructure thing works on Monday..

      1. Agreed. I took the 62 to the Saturday caucus. Talking with neighbors at the caucus who live along the route, Everyone was very happy with the routing and having direct service to magnusun, green lake, tangle town, Wallingford and Fremont without a transfer in the ave or Roosevelt. I really wonder how this route, combined with the truncating of the 70s so and new north south feeders to the stadium will impact the ave. I suspect it will accelerate the decline as business shifts even more to u village, Roosevelt…

      2. A lot of people shop on the Ave who won’t go to U-Village if they can avoid it because the Ave is much more pedestrian-friendly and the U-District is a complete urban village. And from campus it’s much easier to walk straight out to the Ave than down the hill to U-Village and back up. U-Village has developed a niche for high-end boutiquey stuff. The Ave is for more everyday stuff, and used books and clothes and record shops (one left) as it has done for decades, and a ton of restaurants. Roosevelt is more of a neighborhood center but has a variety of unique things: hi-fi equilment, the Friendly Foam Shop, the produce stand, and Whole Foods. Major chain stores go to U-Village, Roosevelt has a variety of independent retail, and the Ave caters more to student needs and youth subcultures.

    3. I rode both the 26X and the 62 yesterday. Seemed like the transition was fairly seamless – at least as far north as Wallingford. The only grumbling I heard yesterday was from a former 28 local rider headed northbound who got on the 62 and learned she who would have to transfer in Fremont to the 40 to head to Ballard or wait for the 28X if she wanted 8th NW.

      The utility of the northern part of the 62 is fairly limited now (although I will use it occasionally to go from Wallingford to 65th and Roosevelt) but once the Roosevelt Station opens it will be a great connection to Link from Tangletown and Green Lake.

      1. yes, it will be great for a connection to Roosevelt Station. But in the meantime does it benefit anyone in NE Seattle? Wouldn’t a 30 connected to UW station be better utilization of funds until Roosevelt station opens? I see the 62 is getting a lot of positives for west of Roosevelt trips. Couldn’t they stub it there for now.

      2. People who want to get to UW Station can take the 65 right now. The 62 provides a connection that never existed before (Green Lake/Wallingford/Fremont), which could be very useful to people in NE Seattle. At least for now, it would be good to see how useful that is in reality, especially since NE Seattle did lose quite a bit in this restructure (72/73 in particular).

      3. The 30 had horrible ridership- about 400 riders each weekday. The 75 had about 4600 riders each weekday. Connecting the 30 to UW station would be a terrible use of money.

        For someone going to UW Station from Sandpoint, the 75 now runs about twice as frequently for most of the week, though on Sundays, it might be faster to catch a 62, then transfer to a 65, 71, or 372. For someone heading to the U-District from Sandpoint, they now have 15 minute service all week on the 62, from which they can then transfer to the 45 (coming at least every 15 minutes all week), the 67 (coming at least every 30 minutes all week, but at least every 15 minutes most of the week), or the 71 (every 30 minutes all week). To me, this gives Sandpoint more and better choices than they had before the restructure.

      4. @PhillipG also, I rode 30 twice last week and it had 75%+ fill rate. stop at station would have put it over the top.

      5. @les Transfers aren’t evil-they’re what give us higher frequency and access to more of the city.

      6. @les Take a look at pages A-18 and A-19 in the Metro Service Guidelines. The 30 had one of the lowest riderships of any Seattle route. That’s why it was deleted. The 75 had more than 10 times as many riders.

        Secondly, what would be the point of extending the 30 to UW Station? Who would ride the 30 from Sandpoint, through Bryant, Ravenna, and the U-Dictrict to transfer to light rail, when the 75 would go directly to UW Station.

      7. Going northbound from UW Station I think you can take the 45/67/71/73 interchangeably to the 62. That’s 12 buses/hour weekday daytime, and 4-8 evenings/weekends. I forgot about the 67 so thanks PhilipG. The 372 and 65 will also get you up to the 62, which may be shorter for some people. If you’re going north and east, take the 71 and get off after it turns and it’ll be a same-stop transfer to the 62. Going southbound you’ll have to choose a stop beforehand because the north-south routes cross at different streets. But Roosevelt should have 8/hour with the 45/67, and 15th should have 4/hour with the 71/73/373, and 25th 4/hour with the 372.

        ” I rode 30 twice last week and it had 75%+ fill rate.”

        That happens only peak hours, and only between 25th and the Ave. So it’s the extended U-District’s ridership rather than along the entire route.

      8. I don’t get it. Why not fix a big hole in the network–move toward a functional grid, that enables people to get around better in all directions, not just toward downtown/UW. A list of routes that serve the Seattle core and have lower productivity is laughably short—the 277, the 116X, 118X, maybe one or two others. If you think we should keep the 30 with those numbers, you’re basically arguing for going back to the pre-service guidelines days when service revisions are even more politicized than they are now.

      9. Actually having 71 operating on NE 65th St is overkill with Route 62 service. I wished Metro would have routed the 71 to 40th Ave NE and operate on NE 55th St, using Rt. 30 routing to University District. The problem with the Rt 30 is that it operated only during peak hours and competed with Route 74 in the peak direction. Another dream scenario is to get rid of the Wedgwood portion of the 71 and operate on NE 75th St all the way to 5th Ave NE to Northgate. That would have provided new E-W service on NE 75th St (something that the 68 did not do well), and return service on 5th Ave NE (moving all service to Roosevelt does not help those who were not as mobile, and they do exist on 5th Ave NE).

      10. @Les,
        You apparently didn’t read all Mike Orr’s post. Here is his answer to the first instance of the question you have been repeating.

        “are people from Sandpoint area (or NE Seattle) using it. Everything I’ve read so far regards trips west of Roosevelt.”

        NOAA isn’t open on weekends so people from Fremont to NOAA aren’t using it yet. I know at least three of them and they’re excited about a direct route rather than taking the unreliable 44 and transferring to the slow and 30-minute 30. It will also make it much easier to get from the Greenlake/Roosevelt/northern U-District area to Magnuson park for recreation or the variety of organizations there, and also give people in the low-income houuing at the park more choices. It opens up the almost total isolation of Sand Point from the rest of the city, which previously required going around to U-Village or 125th to get to north-central or northwest Seattle. And it’s twice as frequent as the 30 ever was.”

      11. @ PhillipG No, transfers aren’t “evil”, but they can be a bit jarring, especially where there a multitude of service changes at the same time and when it’s rainy season.

      12. “Actually having 71 operating on NE 65th St is overkill with Route 62 service.”

        That’s what we tried to tell Dembrowski.

        “wished Metro would have routed the 71 to 40th Ave NE and operate on NE 55th St, using Rt. 30 routing to University District.”

        That’s an idea, and it could have been an intelligent change to the 50 like I was alluding to. I’m not sure it’s necessarily right, but it’s thinking out of the box. Before the 71 was resurrected, Metro had a proposal for a coverage route to replace both the 25 and 71, from UW Station to Laurelhurts to Wedgwood. That failed because Dembrowski wanted the 71. But it would have been similar to Warren on Beacon’s route, although with 55th and UW Station rather than 65th and the Ave.

      13. I live in Sand Point and was a big fan of the 30, especially for the evening commute from the U-District. The big advantage of the 30 was its reliability–always on time thanks to avoiding all of the traffic bottlenecks. The 74/75 are always delayed in the evening, often by 15-20 minutes. I want to believe that the extra 75s coming Monday will help but I suspect it will just result in three 75s getting bunched together instead of two.

        I like the idea of combining the 30/71, but I I would start the route on Campus Parkway and go through UW via Stevens, then up 17th along Frat Row. Then it could run along 55th and possibly up 40th Ave NE like Warren suggested.

        As for the 62, there’s no point in running it to Sand Point outside of weekday peak hours like the 30. There were a bunch of empty buses running up and down 65th St today and I can’t see why that would change until Northgate Link opens. The extra noise is probably going to draw complaints from residents in View Ridge, especially if the buses are empty.

    4. I live at the nexus of the Ravenna, Bryant, and Wedgewood neighborhoods, and the 62 is the bus change I’m most excited about- 15 minute service is a huge improvement over the 30 minute service I had previous to the restructure.

      I’ll be riding it later today to get to Fremont, and in general will use it whenever I’m taking a trip from home to go west of Roosevelt Way. I’ll also sometimes use it to get to the U-District, transferring to either the 45 or 67. I’ll still use the 71 when it comes first, but I hope that Metro will consider deleting the 71, and adding an extra 62 run each hour, and, if the money is there, extending the 48 north to 65th St until Roosevelt station opens.

      1. I love on Stone Way, and the 62 is a huge mobility improvement for me too. Stone Way has never had continuous service from 35th to 45th, much less frequent service. The 31/32 went from 40th to 35th, while the 16 went from 45th to 40th. The 31 didn’t operate at all on Sundays, while the 16 and 32 only operated every 30 minuets. Having 15 minute service all day every day is huge, and that it connects Wallingford and Fremont is a bonus on top of that.

        For instance: we shop in Fremont, and before the service change we would tend to walk rather than bus. Today it was raining, and we decided to bus instead. We would have been looking at a 15+ minute wait for the 32, but instead had a 5 minute wait for the 62. Once people catch on, I think it’ll be a real ridership winner.

      1. Bryant is the neighborhood east of Ravenna, and west of View Ridge and Windermerge. Roughly it extends from NE 45th St to NE 75th St, and 35th Ave NE to 45th Ave NE. It kind of blends into Wedgwood, but has a few more businesses (PCC, Metropolitan Market, Seattle library branch).

      2. Between Ravenna and Hawthorne Hills. Bounded by 25th to the west, 40th to the east, U Village/Burgermaster to the south, and 75th to the north.

  3. I vote we fix Pamela and send her West. Then also turn Brenda around, have her go north to U Dist and also send her West. Let them get as far towards Ballard as they can before breaking down again, and it’s pure bonus tunnel towards ST3 (which really should include Ballard – UW). I assume the incremental cost of a mile of tunnel is much less once you already have the TBM there and functioning, so it’s a good way to save money.

    1. Whoa up cowboys. Nobody has idea one whether a Ballard-UW line would use 43rd or 45th, and in either case the tunnels will have to be above or more probably below the new tubes the TBM’s are digging for Northgate Link. A new access pit will be required but we don’t yet know where to put it.

      You can’t just turn the TBM 90 degrees and have it buzz off westbound. You’d have a verboten level crossing.

      1. You mean like plenty of other heavy rail systems in the world? I’m pretty sure we would be in fine company if we had a few level crossings in the system.

      2. It’s not I who made the rules. ST even made a flying junction to get trains into service from the Maintenance Facility. If there’s ever a time that a train can be low-prioritied, it’s when it’s entering service.

        We’ll see what kind of junction they create for the Wilburton Maintenance Facility.

      3. Create bellmouth “stubs” on the existing tunnels using the TBMs. Get the engineers to design them; add them to the contract. Early win.

        The, once it’s funded and engineered, dig the Ballard-UW tunnel from a staging site near the locks and haul the spoil out by ship. Or railroad. The final connection to the existing tunnels can be dug slowly, and by breaking through to existing bellmouths, trains can run on the existing line without disrupution right up until the last week or two of construction.

      4. Nathanael, are you suggesting a flying junction? ST has categorically ruled out interlining between a Ballard-UW line and North Link. It might allow a single track non-revenue connection if UW would allow the extra tunneling. But the chance that Ballard-UW would ever need two stubs to North Link is zero to none.

  4. So. Ice to see a government agency that can actually deliver on their projects. It’s a huge contrast to that other government agency that has their own TBM under Seattle.

    1. Lazarus, can you name a single private profit-oriented company whose shareholders would let it get within a hundred miles of our Waterfront project with absolutely no chance of Government rescue from a complete disaster?

      One major misconception about tunneling: the idea that the crew member at the controls of a boring machine can see an inch ahead of their cutter. Core samples and dozens of other methods and instruments- it’s still a guess based on readings.

      Digging northbound under Third Avenue, right in front of Century Square, our TBM found out that Spring Street should have been “River” instead, and also which way it flowed. Also always a problem tunneling past pipes from days when nobody bothered to list where they were. And were sometimes made out of wood.

      Terrific book on fascinating subject:

      A lot bigger than Seattle Waterfront, but every single similar problem on earth. Including screaming arguments in both English and French in the board-room while Irishmen cut cross-passages with hand-held air powered jack hammers.

      Open this book and you’re trapped. But discussion of Ballard line will become a lot more interesting and productive. Except board room yelling probably won’t include French, but that goes by who gets the contract.


    2. Nice revisionist history Lazurus. While you are at it, you should change the Wikipedia article. Just kidding, they don’t like it when people lie. This is what it ( says, as of today:

      A 21-mile line was approved by a ballot measure in 1996. However, a series of financial missteps and planning errors resulted in escalating costs and delayed construction.

      Not to mention the loss of the First Hill station (but we have the wonderful, stuck in traffic streetcar to make up for that).

  5. One — noticed that Metro was running ETBs on Saturday and Sunday and NOT those smelly diesels. A slight step in the right direction. Is this going to be permanent – subject of course to street closures and construction stuff?
    Two — Reader board in the Capitol Hill Station displayed a message “Please stand on the right side of the escalator and walk on the left” Works for the 5% of riders who will read the reader board — how about some signs to suggest this also?

    1. I rode the 1/14 yesterday and it was electric, but while I was on it I saw a 2, 3, and 4 that were all diesel.

    2. Street closures and construction impacts are the sole reason for diesels on trolley routes on weekends.

      Metro assigns them to all be trolleys, but our growing city leads to a lot of powered down overhead in critical places so construction crews can work. Thus the diesels.

    3. IMO, there should be a center lane stripe painted on escalator stair treads.
      Maybe borrow some freeway signs “Slow traffic keep right”.

      1. Or you could just muscle past people standing on the wrong side, saying “excuse me, excuse me,” as you go.

      2. I think people who walk up the steps of an escalator instead of standing still and letting the stairs do the “moving” are making a mockery of the whole concept of escalators. If the whole purpose of escalators is to take the leg/footwork out of climbing from one floor to another, then those who choose to walk up the steps instead of standing still are defying the escalator’s purpose.

      3. Not really. Walking up or down the escalator moves you both actively and passively so you get to the top or bottom faster. Plus escalators don’t have landings in the middle that slow you down, such as when I’m running down three flights at Convention Place trying to get the bus that’s about to leave.

      4. SR, go visit a real city sometime. Try not to get trampled on the escalator.

      5. I think people who walk up the steps of an escalator instead of standing still and letting the stairs do the “moving” are making a mockery of the whole concept of escalators.

        This is profoundly silly. Escalators give us two options: 1) enable people to not expend physical effort to move upward, or 2) save time by doing some of the work for us. They’re not *really* for one or the other, they’re for both–they’re a public good, and both portions of the public should have access to their preferred use. Happily, most of them are wide enough to accommodate people who’d rather use them for (1) and people who’d rather use them for (2). There’s no conceivable reason not to create rules and norms that allow both groups to take advantage of this technology.

    4. 2 problems with walk left / stand right:

      1) A recent study in London found that walk left / stand right didn’t speed up overall egress from the station. It actually causes bottlenecks on the platform. The walkers get out quickly, but those who prefer to stand are left with only half of the escalator’s space. Turns out that most people don’t want to walk up long escalators.

      2) Everyone standing on the right side of the escalator causes a excessive wear on the right side components of the escalator. Escalators go out of service more quickly.

      1. So clearly everyone should be walking up the escalator! Problem solved.

      2. People make too much of the London study. It only applies in cases where the escalator is busy and is also so long that it discourages too many people from the walk-on-the-left option.

  6. I was heading downtown via Westlake the other day, and noticed the shiny new RapidRide stops at Mercer/Westlake for the C Line, which reminded me that the E Line still has no stops between Galer and Denny.

    Does anyone know if Metro is planning to add a stop near Aurora/Mercer after all the construction is done? I understand why there can’t be a stop there now, but once the street grid is restored, it seems like a stop at Republican (for example) would be feasible…

  7. Something that I feel is often overlooked when considering the pace at which sound transit is building projects and the future timeline is the amount of project management expertise that sound transit has on staff. Recently it came out that the MBTA was facing a approx. one billion dollar cost overrun on it’s greenline extension project, a 4.7 mile light rail extension. One of the reasons the that was citied was that the StateDOT and MBTA had only assigned four full time staff members to work on the project and that lack of oversight coupled with a bidding system they didn’t fully understand caused them to be taken to the cleaners by contractors. It is an excellent example of why having many and capable project managers is important. Trying to build too much at once just increases risk and forces you to spread your resources thinner. With large complex projects like what is proposed for ST3 you would think it would be enough to keep a very large staff of people busy for the full life of the project.

  8. On this Easter Sunday, I’ll like to tell churches and other religious institutions to start paying property taxes, you gd freeloading bums!

    1. Sam, I think that, emerging from hundreds of years of religious war exactly like present day Middle East, many of our Founding Fathers had worse things to say about organized religion than that.

      But in every war that history calls “religious”- ISIS currently excellent example- the name of one religion or another became the absolutely un-believed ideology of gangsters. In our country right now, to the undeserved detriment of their founders and adherents, many religious organizations have picked up the habits of a lot of very bad secular company.

      So let’s just settle for this right now, universal and world-wide, the real sentiment of every religion at its founding, before its founders are murdered, either by enemies or their own adherents: “The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth Life.”

      Mark Dublin

    2. Sam, you’re not doing very well at trolling. Because I absolutely agree 100% with your statement.

      Tax exemptions for churches just because they’re religious (not for religious charities, religious educational institutions, etc., but just for *churches*) are a violation of the First Amendment. If I start a non-religious club and build a huge clubhouse, why don’t I get the same tax exemption the church gets?

      Churches who don’t pay their property taxes are freeloaders who are violating the Constitutional prohibition against “respecting a establishment of religion”.

  9. since ST managed to unite DP and Ben S. in opposition to ST3 (something I thought only possible of Bin Laden and Trump’s presidency could do), can someone at STB do a post on monorail taxing authority and what it might allow (ideally someone with enough pull would get tbe city attorney to issue an advisory opinion~ does STB want to aak Rob Johnson or Mike O’Brien to ask Holmes?).

    1. It would have to be a 3rd rail metro and not Link LRT based on my interpretation if you were to use monorail authority.

      1. Daniel is right. That said, I expect the cars could also have pans in order to use connecting Link trackage in order to access the maintenance facility for heavy overhauls.

      2. Not necessarily. The statue says “light rail” with no legal definition. In fact I’m not sure “light rail” is defined anywhere in the RCW.

      3. Except in the Rainier Valley, Link already is heavy rail:

        + Almost completely grade separated.

        + Boarding so that the floor is level with the platform.

        Those are the only two things that I know of that define heavy rail. Cleveland’s airport line is recognized as heavy rail and it is overhead powered, and Chicago’s Skokie line used to be powere by overhead until it was rebuilt as a third rail line.

        If the partially raised floor isn’t good enough, then get 100% low floor cars from Alstom or Bombardier.

      4. Thanks Jim. I completely forgot about the band Rail. I didn’t realize they played with Ronnie Montrose. That’s awesome.

      5. Glenn,

        Real HRT has high-floor cars and two bogies per vehicle. The “idler” wheels under the articulation on modern LRT vehicles are the weak point limiting high speeds. They don’t have an axle to limit hunting and make the best use of the ogive on the wheel treads.

        You are absolutely correct that outside the RV and (as planned) 112th and the Spring District, Link will be fully grade-separated and could better be operated with HRT vehicles.

        It’s BART del Norte only without the 80 mph speeds.

      6. Maximum operating speed isn’t a defining factor of what heavy rail transit is though. Link’s 55 mph is as fast or faster than most of the older “heavy rail” systems out there. APTA defines it as “higher speed and heavy volume of traffic” with no particular numbers given.

        Thus, the dividing line in terms of passenger capacity and speed is really arbitrary.

      7. Yonah Freemark on Twiter noted that a 3-car Link train is about as long as a 6-car Chicago ‘L’ train. The maximum train length on the ‘L’ is 8 cars on most lines, some are limited to 6-cars. So Link is comparable in capacity to a so-called heavy rail system.

      8. No, it’s not “arbitrary”. No vehicle with independently suspended wheels can track as well at high speeds as an axeled one. I realize that’s exactly opposite to the experience with automobiles; independent suspensions are far better because of uneven road surfaces.

        But for a train having a solid axle guarantees that the vehicle maintains gauge at all times, which in turn allows better tracking through curves because the outer wheel is forced to “ride up” on the ogive curve of its tread, increasing the effective turning radius of that wheel.

        True, independently suspended wheelsets don’t have a need for the ogive to allow the outer wheel to travel farther per revolution; the inner wheel just turns less frequently. But they don’t maintain gauge at high speeds as well because there’s no solid connection. All “suspensions” flex, but a thousand pound forged steel axle does not bend or even compress significantly.

        So true Heavy Rail Vehicles — whether “streamlined” like BART’s command cars or blunt-faced uglies like in New York City — are more stable at high speeds than are LRV’s with idler wheels in low-floor sections.

        The one truly high speed “light rail” line in North America — the Norristown High Speed Line — has high level platforms and two bogies (“trucks”) per car. There are no idlers.

        Light Rail is the wrong technology for Link other than in the Rainier Valley and the Ballard-West Seattle line which can probably use at-grade right of way in some locations.

      9. Chapter 35.95A RCW does not actually define “light rail” nor is the chapter specifically written for a monorail or monorail system. As we know, it specifically forbids a “fixed guideway light rail system” [sec. 35.95A.010 (5)], whatever that may be taken to mean. The chapter actually is inclusive of any other rail system using “train cars running on a guideway” (also not defined). In following sections it actually mentions “monorail, tram or trolley” (!) [sec. 35.95A.050 (3).b.I.

        The easiest method, of course, is to have section 35.95A.010 (5) re-written to delete the last seven words. I am not a lawyer, but I think it would be difficult in court to get away with calling a system that ST has branded as “light rail” and that is commonly referred to as “light rail” anything other than light rail. Calling it a tram or trolley (which are specifically permitted) is stretching things to say the least. However, perhaps you could design and build it as a “trolley/streetcar” on a guideway, providing station facilities to Link standards (even if not fully built out as such). Then, when the public outcry is sufficient the law might get re-written correctly to allow Link trains to run. ;)

        Or, you could leverage the public’s growing desire for rail to convince the legislature to modify this, but of course that remains to be seen with whatever happens in this year’s elections. I think there will be growing support, at least in the closer-in suburbs, to back anything that might help get rail anywhere sooner. Their constituents are starting to clamor for it, and Seattle’s legislators could hold action on the monorail law as a quid pro quo for their assistance with suburban transit needs. Sometimes you gotta play hardball….

      10. Hmm. I suppose that the monorail authority could be used to build a “fixed guideway subway system” which is fully grade-separated despite sharing track and vehicles with Central Link.

        There are no clear characteristics distinguishing “light rail” from “heavy rail” definitively, but I would argue that “grade crossings” are a major feature of light rail and not of subways. By not running the new line through the Rainer Valley section, it could be argued that it is not light rail, even if it shares the same vehicles.

      11. It is arbitrary because there is no real definition of what light rail really is, other than it is lighter capacity and lower speeds that heavy rail. Cleveland’s heavy rail line is regarded as heavy rail, but is fairly slow and uses two car trains. Everything it does could be done with modern light rail cars and lower platforms, but when it was built low floor cars weren’t available.

        Some of Stadler’s low floor car designs are called light rail in the USA and the look a bit like Link trains. They are also available in models that have a maximum speed pushing 100 mph. Those can’t be light rail since they have a higher maximum speed than most subway cars, but they obviously aren’t heavy rail since they have partial low floors.

        So what do you call them?

        It maximum speed were a determining factor, you could just get some Stadler GTW geared for 97 mph so they obviouly aren’t light rail cars, and run them at 30 mph on a Ballard-UW subway.

      12. I think it would be difficult in the inevitable court case to claim to laypeople that something labeled as one thing by the operating agency somehow becomes something else when they say so, particularly when there is no real definition of the term (as you rightly point out) and almost assuredly no legal one. Intent of the legislature at the time of the bill’s passage would likely be brought up, and that pretty clearly was inserted to prevent it being ST’s project or operated seamlessly with ST…because hey, f#&k Seattle. Doing something with a “trolley” (again, probably no definition) might be allowable without going back to the legislature–just spec a “trolley” with same voltage and floor clearance, and immense platforms for a “trolley,” so that nothing needs to be redone! :)

      13. Glenn, Thank you for the reference. These are low-floor cars without idlers. They must have very small diameter wheels to allow full bogies underneath a low floor. I agree, these would be a great replacement for the Kinky-Sharyos if they were full electric. They could kick up 70 plus on the long stretches between TIBS and BAR, across Lake Washington, north of 145th and south of AngleLake. That would make BART del Norte more plausible.

      14. Yes, unfortunately it is probably hopeless to do much beyond trying to pressure the powers that be into changing the law. If someone really wants to push it they could consider even something like an airport people mover to be “light rail” due to the lack of real definition.

        It depends on what version you want to get of the GTW.

        Some of the GTW have idler wheels, but many of them don’t because in the GTW the center short stubby car is where they put the power plant – be it electric (600v, 750v or 1,500v) or diesel.

        There is a wide assortment of variations made:

        Also, as some of these are regional trains designed for longer distances that typical local light rail, in certain versions they need the space under the car for toilet equipment, water tanks, sewage tanks, etc. Witness, for example, the Arriva EMU (not the DMU version of the same name) that was built for use in the Netherlands. 1,500v overhead, maximum speed in the 85 mph range, on board toilet facilities, and I think also a snack bar. Maximum speed is somewhere around 85 mph if I remember right.

        New Jersey, Capital Metro of Austin, and a few others in the USA that have these call them light rail cars. They can be used as light rail cars but the GTW platform supports some things that go way beyond what the USA is currently doing with light rail cars.

    2. I wouldn’t assume too much about Ben’s position from one tweet. We’d have to talk with him at length about what he really recommends and whether that tweet reflects what he’s been thinking persistently or was a spur-of-the-moment thing. With DP his position was consistent for years so we can assume he still believes the same, but one should remember we don’t actually know what he’s thinking now. And if he did move back to Boston, I’m curious whether he’s still paying attention to Seattle transit and noticed that U-Link opened.

      1. Mike;

        I really think it would be interesting what Ben has to say, unlike that other guy. ST3 hopefully can be improved upon.

        [ah] Good time to be super duper polite, thoughtful and professional in ST3 comments.

      2. DP has been on the Stranger website weighing in, shooting down ST3. He even added the link to the “Peanut butter plan.” I will say this again, if ST3 is hated by Ben S., DP and most of the people on this board, it is unclear if it passes in Seattle (and thus goes down in flames at the ballot).

        I think Seattle/N. King could be saved (including lousy time frames for Ballard to DT) by building (not studying) Ballard to UW pronto. Others in N. King might have other “lines in the sand”

      3. Developments in Snohomish County are interesting: it looks like a 24 year timeline is the one thing to reconsider the Paine Field detour, and they’re actually considering a BRT loop. That’s a big deal.

        It’s also interesting that Snohomish and Seattle are reacting the same way to a 21-24 year timeline: it must be faster, and we’ll do anything to make it faster. Pierce would probably be reacting the same if it didn’t have a more favorable timeline. Talking with people, there are ways to potentially shave 3-6 years off Ballard without changing the project order, so many some of them will be feasable.

        I’m also hearing that the monorail authority can only raise $1-2 billion, so it can only do one line, not replace ST3 in Seattle. If we can get a better deal with ST on Ballard-downtown, maybe the monorail authority can turn its attention to Ballard-UW or Denny/23rd. If not (if ST3 is not a possibility), then we’d have to decide which one line to direct it to.

      4. Very astute Mike, very well put my friend. This timeline is what is finally needed for those who wish to repeal and replace light rail with BRT and eventually a spur to Paine Field. I only had concerns about ridership potential… and of course leaving Mukilteo out of it.

      5. Thanks Joe for linking, I was in the road. .Without strong North King support, ST3 doesn’t pass.I proposed a possible way to make it fixable. Feel free to do so without the taunts

      6. Thanks mdnative, I don’t really care particularily HOW ST3 is fixed, but I care ST3 is fixed during the public comment period. I’ve proposed a BRT clockwise loop for Paine Field serving no less than by 2018 four park & rides (Mukilteo at Bernie Webber Drive, Seaway, South Everett Freeway & Ash Way), no less than two major tourist attractions (Future of Flight & Historic Flight/Windsock), the Boeing Factory oh and Mukilteo.

      7. I have come to the reluctant conclusion that if ST 3 goes to the ballot in the form as currently presented, Seattle may actually get what it needs faster by voting down and forcing the ST board to come up with a more reasonable project list with fewer overall projects, but a faster timeline. It is really difficult to vote for something that provides zero benefit before I turn 50.

      8. I’m certainly going to vote against it and will advise my friends to do the same. This plan offers so little, after such a long time, that we’re better off kicking it back to the drawing board and continuing to wait. At least we’ll all be spending $0/year to not get what we need instead of spending $400/year to not get what we need.

        What would we have to do in order to pull Seattle out of ST entirely? It’s become increasingly clear that they are consuming all the money and political will that would be necessary to build Seattle’s transit system without having any interest in building it; all they care about are the medium-distance regional trips that I would rate as less important than either long- or short-distance travel. Why would we want to make those trips convenient? That just exacerbates sprawl, and doing that instead of building real urban transit means we just worsen car-dependence as we encourage people to spread out around the region instead of clustering up and living in efficient urban neighborhoods where living without a car might be practical.

      9. ALL: Let’s NOT make threats to veto ST3 just yet. There’s a good chance of seismic changes here.

        Paine Field may not get light rail, but BRT faster and sooner.

        There might be more money for more Seattle projects.

        Seattle has not weighed in sufficiently yet.

        Damn, for some of the same people who don’t want the lamestream media to call it for Hillary you can be patient, speak up during the comment process, write the letters to the editor and shake the ground.


        Thanks and sorry Mars but I hit my breaking point with the Seattle Whine.

      10. No worries Joe, not taking anything personally. I’m not going to be dogmatic about it, either: if Sound Transit revises their proposal, I will revise my opinion accordingly.

        I’m not going to invest my time or energy trying to change their minds, however, because I now believe that this perpetual cycle of disappointment results from a fundamental disagreement about the purpose of ST’s existence. They will continue to propose bad plans because their mission is fundamentally bad. We can lobby all we want this time, but we’ll have to do it all over again next time, and the time after that, because the thing they are trying to accomplish is not the thing that needs to be done.

      11. Thanks Mars, much appreciate your understanding. I want high capacity transit from Everett to Seattle to Tacoma and eventually Olympia & Mount Vernon-Burlington. ST3 is a critical step to that, as will ST4 and yes ST5 when finally the Sound Transit district expands a bit.

      12. So, Joe, you actually want to destroy the Puget Sound eco-system north of Everett and you’re willing to admit it? Because that’s exactly what “high capacity transit” “eventually to Mount Vernon-Burlington” will mean.

        Link as the SoundTransit Board clearly envisions it will be just as much as sprawl-inducer as was and is I-5. Had they stuck with SR99 both north of Northgate and south of Sea-Tac it could have been a beneficial shaper of the built environment. But instead they have opted consistently to enable the addiction of suburban polities to the crack of auto dealership sales taxes.

        Since it’s going to be at Lynnwood TC in eight years, it might as well go on into “downtown” Lynnwood and Alderwood Mall. But there’s absolutely no need for it to go any farther north than that; there is plenty of high-quality bus ROW available everywhere.

        Nor does it need to extend south of Highline CC, though some better bus intercept than Kent-Des Moines road needs to be provided somewhere between Angle Lake and West Kent. Des Moines and Federal Way, like Sea-Tac and Shoreline, are among the communities which have that addiction, and they’re not going to change. So why waste billions of dollars on a train line which, yes, will have people on it twice a day, mostly in one direction at one time and the other at the other time, and be almost ghostly the rest of the time.

        And if Seattle has to man up, paint some more red lanes, enforce them in order to maintain mobility and pay more for bus operations, well so be it. At least the seemingly everlasting pressure for people to build a greenfield house another five miles from work will eventually stop from the sheer oppressive madness of it.

      13. Uh Anandakos, maybe if we spaced out the stops and realized by 2050 there’s going to be a lot of sprawl anyway we might mitigate your scenario a lot. I’m thinking only a few stops north of Marysville – obviously one for Stanwood, one in downtown Mt. Vernon, one in south Burlington and then a final one at Chuckanut Park & Ride.

        I do think we need inland rail to replace Sounder North. Just today, the Mukilteo Station was supposed to be launched. But a “blocking event” hit Sounder North just south of Everett. Ha ha ha ha ha!

      14. The KIRO news this morning said it could be “days” before Sounder North was running again and then launched into a story about how the new station platform at Mukilteo was opening today. Confused news crew or are they going to go ahead with the “grand opening” sans trains?

      15. Oh Bernie, we’ll just have to wait for the SounderBruce Special Report… :-).

        I can’t wait for Jennifer Gregerson, future candidate for Washington Governor, to try to spin her way ouf of this one. Will her “hero” Lynn Peterson help? Will local Superman Chris Phillips, G*d willing, withdraw from the Island Transit CEO Race and save Sounder North? Will the Mukilteo Beacon glow like afterburners at OLF Coupeville about this?

        Oh this is gonna get goooooooooooooooooooooooooooood.

      16. @Anandakos — Relax. I think it is crazy to build light rail to Marysville, but it won’t hurt the environment much at all, because hardly anyone will use it. A train that runs every 20 minutes and carries 5,000 people a day really won’t hurt the Puget Sound eco-system. Unless, of course, by “eco” you mean “economic”, then yes, it could really have an impact. Roughly $12,500 per man, woman and child for something that in most areas (such as Snohomish County) will have little benefit will make it very difficult to pay for other important things (police, health and human services, day care, education) let alone a set of transit projects that could actually make a difference in Snohomish County. Imagine ST3 passes, and a couple years from now the county wants to expand bus service. I think it will be much tougher, as a lot of people will say “enough is enough” with the transit.

      17. I agree with Mars and asdf2. The jury isn’t out on this plan. It can be revised. But if it looks similar to this, I will vote no. I think there needs to a be a shakeup. Either the city needs to go it alone, or there needs to be a new approach to planning. I don’t think you get either with a close loss. But a big loss can do that. A big loss, especially if it is caused by voters in the city, should get Sound Transit, or the state, to rethink their approach. I can think of two things that would come out of a big loss:

        1) The state gives each city the right to raise money on its own. Like ST, it would require a vote. This seems like a simple thing to accomplish at the state level. My guess is that even if Seattle voters reject ST3, it will be rejected by much higher numbers in the other areas. In other words, I don’t see much enthusiasm in the suburbs for huge spending on transit (and this should be obvious after this vote). So if a state rep stands up and says “Let Seattle pay for its own project with its own money”, I think that will be greeted with support in the suburbs.

        2) ST changes their planning process. They ask for an independent planning board to come up with the initial proposal. Subarea equity is still a problem, but if you asked an independent planning board to come up with a set of capital improvement projects to improve transit and save the most time for the most riders, they would likely come up with something a lot closer to what many have suggested (the so called peanut butter plan). For the suburbs they could propose what Kirkland wanted, along with similar BRT plans all over the region. Call it Swift 3, 4 and 5, except that it would actually keep going as it hit the county border. You would also have improvements to make it easy to get to the station. My guess is that if you spent a reasonable amount of money, you could build dozens of things like that all over the place that would improves the lives of more people, and thus get a lot more support. It still might be too much for the suburban voters, but at least it would be a better value.

        It starts with an acknowledgment that light rail is not magic, and that geography matters. I’ve spent a lot of time writing Sound Transit and suggesting a different approach (before there was the peanut butter plan, there was this: Yet I never felt like that approach was considered seriously by Sound Transit. Like Mars, I’m not going to spend a lot of energy trying to “fix this” because I think that is unrealistic. At best we get a few tweaks here and there (like the NE 130th station) but I don’t think there is a chance we get Ballard to UW. These projects take so long not because of planning, or digging, or anything construction related, but because of financing. The money is stretched too thin. You can’t have Ballard to UW unless you cut something and I don’t see Sound Transit doing that.

      18. High-capacity transit to Olympia and Mt Vernon means Sounder or BRT, not Link.

        Link to Marysville is theoretically possible given the rest of the Link network, but it would require expanding the ST district. I think the region will have to address the emerging unfairness that Marysville’s counterpart in Pierce County is in the ST district. But I don’t expect a rush for Link. Neither Marysville nor Snoho have asked for it. Swift is more Link-like than RapidRide is, and CT already has plans for a Marysville line. That will come with transit lanes, which I assume will be adequate. ST could simply contribute to its capital cost and operating cost if Marysville were in the district. Swift is arguably “regional transit” within ST’s mandate.

        “Link as the SoundTransit Board clearly envisions it will be just as much as sprawl-inducer as was and is I-5.”

        Trains concentrate people; highways diffuse people. Een if people drive to a P&R, they still have to get to the P&R, and that gives an incentive to live close to it. With highways people just drive out the exit directly to their low-density neighborhood. That’s what enabled low-density sprawl, not trains. The reality is that 800,000 people already live in south King County, almost that many in Pierce County, and almost that many in Snohomish County. We can’t just leave them at the mercy of the highways. The most troubling thing in Snohomish County is the development along Highway 9 and toward Monroe, where there is practically no transit. That leads to 100% car dependency and a hardened pro-highway-and-parking attitude, which is exactly what caused our problem in the second half of the 20th century.

        Also, development this century is more compact than it was forty years ago. Apartments and close-together houses are going up as well as traditional quarter-acre houses. That’s happening in Ash Way, Canyon Park, and Marysville as well as Seattle. So those aren’t really sprawl: at worst they’re sprawl-lite. A million people are moving to the region; some of them will have to move to these outer concentrations. Seattle could partly reverse it by doubling the zoning (doubling the city’s population), but it’s not doing that. So people will have to go where they can find a place to live, and where they can afford to live. And “affordable” increasingly means further out.

      19. Mike,

        In response to your assertion that trains concentrate people, I would certainly agree that is a possible and even likely outcome. But only if the political subdivisions through which a train runs make the decisions to allow and encourage it. I’ll agree that Snohomish County has done that in the small cities east of Lynnwood, and congratulations to them.

        But even there no rail system could fruitfully be added now. If they’d had one in 1980 and the little cities agreed maybe it would have made the area even more dense in places, but it’s too late to put together a right of way for any kind of reasonable cost. The activity centers aren’t lined up properly.

        No, Snohomish County and Everett made clear that they are not serious about taking advantage of the possibilities of Link’s development shaping potential when it put the kibosh on the SR 99 option. Neither the I-5 option (squeezed against yet another ten miles of freeway) nor the Paine Field routing (miles of detour through parking lots) is a serious attempt to develop the sort of clusters that are necessary to stop sprawl. In the absence of an SR 99 routing, Link north of Lynnwood will do nothing to “concentrate people” The areas near the Park’N’Rides along I-5 are already built out mostly with SFH.

        They aren’t going to be torn down for mid-rises; the people in them will be fantastically lucky to be able to walk to a Link Station; they’ll have the most valuable McMansions in the county other than those on the Puget Sound bluffs.

      20. The necessity of a transfer from a bus to the link spine is a problem because it shows that the link spine has no arms or legs, much less any hands or feet or fingers, which is a serious obstacle to any activity more complex than lying about and wiggling. The spine has no head, certainly, which prompts speculations about the anatomy of those in charge of designing it whose conclusions I will not share here, for fear of incurring the dreaded “ad hominem” edit.

      21. Mars;

        Let’s be brutally honest here: The spine leaves out many potential key destinations along it’s current UofW to SeaTac International route (e.g. Stan Steyers Pits, Boeing Field/Museum of Flight, West Seattle). It does so for speed. You can handle a transfer. The idea is a spine to handle the most ridership and use buses to feed it. A small transfer is not going to kill anybody, versus driving in a Single Occupancy Vehicle/SOV, emitting CO2 and being at higher risk of injury or death.

      22. Yes, that is the concept I am taking issue with. What you are describing is not a good plan for a transit system, as it will continue to aggravate our environmental and economic problems by encouraging sprawl instead of curtailing it, and as far as I’m concerned building that regional spine is just not a wise use of resources at all. Sprawl is a consequence of bad transportation investment; highways created it, but enabling it further by echoing the billions we wasted on sprawl highways with billions more for sprawl trains will only encourage the problem to continue growing.

        We should focus first on building transit which serves common, everyday travel, the sorts of trips people make every day or at least several times a week, so that we can get the most value for money by replacing the most car trips possible with train trips, working to free the greatest number of people from dependence on car travel. That means we need to focus on short lines connecting urban neighborhoods, where a few brave souls can already just about manage car-free living and each increment of investment will tip the balance for a few more. Urban neighborhoods also offer a virtuous circle: better transit means better density means better investment means a stronger tax base which makes it easier to build even more, better transit.

        It doesn’t matter if people still need to drive a car or deal with a long bus ride in order to get to some faraway suburb, because those trips are not and should not be everyday occurrences. Wasting our money building a regional train connecting faraway suburbs means we are giving up the chance of making a significant difference inside the city without improving conditions outside it.

        To whatever degree such long, sprawling trips *are* a matter of everyday life for some people, that is a symptom of sprawl, a problem to solve and not to accommodate. We must not solve traffic problems by making life easier for people living in sprawl zones, because they only chose those sprawly lives after previous transportation investments encouraged them to do so! If people are clogging the highways by commuting long distances across a large region, we should solve that problem by investing in urban centers so those people will choose to *stop doing that in the first place* and move back inward where public infrastructure investment can be cost-effective. Making remote life in faraway suburbs less of a hassle by building them a fancy train system will only encourage more people to move out to those places, locking car-dependence in place for decades to come.

  10. I’d like to see a post please on BRT to Paine Field. I’d be willing to write it if asked by Frank or Martin.

    But I’d like to see a serious discussion of a clockwise BRT loop from Ash Way Park & Ride/Exit 183 on I-5, up to 164th Street & State Hwy 525, staying on State Hwy 525 past Bernie Webber Drive (new park & ride + Historic Flight Foundation + The Windsock), breaking right at Paine Field Blvd, stopping at the Future of Flight at newly built bus stops (BRT will justify the investment, a simple fixed route won’t – use the Everett Transit stops for Route 70 until BRT), going up to Seaway Transit Center at the Boeing Factory, another stop at Boeing Freeway & Evergreen Way to catch Swift I, and get back on I-5 back to Ash Way Park & Ride/Exit 183 via the South Everett Freeway Station. Obviously this route doesn’t take into account where the light rail will go. To conserve cost I prefer it be a clockwise loop unless demand merits otherwise.

    I do foresee the need for Seaway Transit Center to be the place where bus feeder routes serving various Paine Field destinations would have to go once built, so we don’t have to have BRT get stuck in 1950s-era cul-de-sacs and side-streets. The ideal is to serve Paine Field cost-effectively, realize most transit users to Paine Field will be shift workers or vacationers and get light rail to Everett faster. A ST4 can always have a Paine Field spur…

    Food for thought… and I still got my crush on light rail, I just want a win-win solution. OK?

    1. It’ll most likely get done if you write the article and leave it in draft state (unpublished), and then ask the Powers That Be to publish it. It’s harder to turn down an article that exists than an unwritten idea they may not be gung-ho about. And if they won’t publish it you can put it on Page 2.

    2. Joe,

      You can’t have a uni-directional loop. If someone wants to go from a point at 3:00 to a point at 1:00 they either have to walk, Uber or ride all the way around. It stinks.

      Talk bi-directional and it might work very well.

  11. As unofficial STB comment section assignment editor, I want someone go out and do an in-person report and post on the Spring District progress in Bellevue. Lazy web-researched reports will not be published. I want to see interviews, photos, and analysis. This is 1300 to 1600 word post.

    1. Sounds like a good idea! As another unofficial STB comment section assignment editor, I nominate you to do that!

    2. As a resident of DT bellevue who regularly passes there I can tell you there’s nothing to report. 0 buildings have been completed.

      1. I see a building going up on the southwest corner of Bel Red road and 120th. Looks like it’s 5 or more stories high.

    3. Their website says late 2016 completion for the first projects. But given East Link won’t open for another 7 years, that’s when I anticipate it really taking off.

    4. I can say that construction over at the Spring District is picking up and really starting to rise.

      The problem is that the area outside of the little bubble inside of the construction fence is an unwalkable industrial area. Had to walk on the road (not even the shoulder, which was barely a half-foot wide) around parked semis to get decent pictures of the site.

  12. What trips do people recommend to explore the new bus network? There’s the 62 of course. I’m going town to South Lake Union to look at the 99th & Harrison station area, the new Mercer bike underpass, and take the C.

    1. A couple non-62 options I can think of:

      The 67 now runs on Sundays. You could check out the Northgate area. There’s a little nature area in the Thornton Creek watershed north of Group Health, and also the Northgate library.

      The 372 also now runs on Sundays, so you could check out Lake City and point beyond (but not beyond UW Bothell, of course), without having to backtrack downtown to take the 522. St. Edward Park is a moderate 2 mile climb from SR522, and even has a sidewalk/bike lane now. If you wanted to take transit the whole way, you could take the 234, but it’s only hourly on Sundays.

  13. Not long ago I was able to pose this riddle:

    “There are two Metro buses from two different routes heading towards each other on the same street. The buses collide and both flip upside down. An eyewitness notices that each bus now displays the route number of the bus it hit. Where did this happen and what routes were involved?”

    Sadly, that riddle is now outdated.

    1. It still almost works, with the 5 and 2 meeting on Third Avenue, or the 55 and 22 meeting at Alaska Junction. If you didn’t specify two different routes, it could happen between two 8’s.

      I suppose what you were thinking of, though, was the 66 and 99 meeting on First Avenue.

  14. One interesting question will be whether the 65, 75, 372 will generate enough riders to sustain 15-minute service through future rounds of service changes, as buses get switched from less productive corridors to more productive corridors. In the past, the relatively weak tails of the 71/72/73 were boosted by huge ridership on the UW->downtown segment, allowing the route as a whole to be classified as a highly productive route. However, with Link now taking care of the downtown->UW segment, the tails are now left to sink or swim on their own. In the long run, I think the new frequent corridors do have a lot of potential, but it also needs to be understood that when frequent service is introduced, ridership builds up gradually, not all at once.

    For instance, when the 542 first started running, the route looked like a huge waste, with about 5 people per bus. Then, slowly but surely, as the months went by and more people learned it, I started seeing 10 people per trip, then 15. While it’s still not as crowded as the 545, I now see most trips leaving with most of the seats full. But it took close to 5 years of steady operation to get to that point. Hopefully, Metro will have the patience to give frequent service on the 65, 75, and 372 a similar 5 years, rather than giving up on it if huge all-day ridership doesn’t suddenly materialize after one year.

    1. Of the three routes, I would think the 372 has the best chance of success. In general there is very little density between Lake City and 65th. Ravenna is as dense as the other areas close to 65th, but more importantly, the 372 is just a more direct way towards the UW as well as the stadium. The latter makes it the best route for getting from Lake City to Capitol Hill. In the evening, with the 522 frequency trailing off to every half hour and traffic on I-5 becoming terrible, taking the 372 to Husky Stadium and then Link might make some sense (it might beat the 41 if traffic on the freeways is worse than the surface streets).

      1. I checked out the alternate routes the week before (65/Link; 75/Link) and I’ve come to that conclusion, so the 372/Link combo, along with the 312 and 522, are in the mix as I stand on 125th/LCW. Link/65 on Thursdays to get to the Lake City Farmer’s market.

        I also pointed out to a co worker who once had the choice of walking to the D or taking a hour nap on the 40 to try the 45/Link. Just to see and have it ready in case Aurora shuts down.

        I know that the 45 hasn’t gotten a lot of love here yet, but Saturday it ran very consistently along its western route on 85th. Much, much better than the 48.

        I did catch the 48 by Link on Pacific. Had a nice chat with the driver who LOVED the change. A shoutout benefit on the reorg is that these routes help the drivers too.

  15. What is ST doing with the $200M cost savings on ULink? Why can’t this be used, in part, to speed up North link?

    1. It can’t really spend it on anything else when other ST2 projects are outstanding, so it will either go to North Link or to University Link extras. Since I don’t know of any University Link extras, it will go to North Link. It’s not really $200 million in cash that’s waiting; it just subtracts from the total cost in the accounting. And $200 million won’t buy much to accelerate it.

      1. I could be wrong about this, but I vaguely recall the $200 million getting shipped to Federal Way to accelerate sending Link southward.

      2. @asdf2

        I believe this is at least partially wrong. I’ve heard we had to return the federal portion of the savings.

      3. ST did get a low-interest federal loan a couple years ago, separate from the grants. I think that’s what’s going to Federal Way.

      4. I wouldn’t exactly call it “savings” either. Due to some very conservative project management practices, they’ve essentially held $150M+ in reserved contingency since 2008 and another $50M or so in unallocated contingency. They also built the Project Execution Plan with 6 months of schedule buffer, so in reality, “$200M under budget and 6 months ahead of schedule” is PR spin. ULink was basically on time and on budget, which should be good enough to say publically. I got into a pissing match on FB with Seattle Subway because they refuse to understand these Project Management 101 concepts…

      5. Well, there are some important North Link extras (like that pedestrian bridge), so hopefully it can be allocated to make sure that happens.

  16. There’s one thing that really got me curious and it kept bothering me. What’s up with the huge gap on the side of the Capitol Hill station with nothing in there? I saw it in one of the videos. Could it be future addition or something?

    1. 3-4 midrise buildings are coming, coordinated by a private developer. Look in the University Link extension section. The most likely place would be “Project Updates” or “Document Archive” in the bottom right. Or you can email ST and ask to talk to somebody on the project team.

      1. Sorry I wasn’t clear. I meant in the station underground. There’s a big vacant space on the other side of the boarding platform.

  17. I begrudgingly hiked 15 minutes to the 62. It picked up a whole 5 riders before reaching Roosevelt, about a 1/5 of what the 30 would have got by the time it reached the ave. Metro definetly needs to truncate it and bring back the 30 with a stop at the station. 74 riders would then jump ship and switch to lighrail.

    1. You rode one bus one time and are ready to throw it in the can and insist on bringing back a route that we has years of documented terrible ridership?

      I’m glad you don’t make decisions about route allocation. [ah]

    2. The 74 isn’t really about Sand Point/Wedgwood to downtown. The 65, 75, or 78 to Link are faster. Rather, the 74 is really two routes combined into one. It serves the 55th St. corridor for those heading up to the U-district (with the 30 gone, the 74 is now the only coverage for this route). And it provides an express trip between the west end of the U-district and downtown.

      As to the 62, you have to give it time. Humans are creatures of habit and even those that would benefit from the 62 are unlikely to switch to it on the very first day. The section from Roosevelt to Sand Point is only a small portion of the 62’s service hours – Green Lake to downtown is a much larger portion, and that portion is almost certainly going to be packed, given the routes it’s replacing.

  18. Observation from riding link downtown from Capitol Hill this morning – people hanging out at doors who aren’t about to exit. Perhaps some signage about leaving the doorway free and clear unless you are about to exit?

    1. Where else are you supposed to stand? The aisles are very narrow on Link. I very dutifully boarded, moved to the center of the train and stood in the aisle away from the doors. However then it’s challenging for people to get up from their seats and pass you to exit. I had annoyed glares from other passengers who wanted to walk the length of the car to access less crowded sections as people don’t load evenly along the length of the car. The layout of the cars is not well designed for crush loading – and I road last week, before the bus restructure!

  19. Anyone have any old schedules? I tried to find them on the Wayback machine, but couldn’t. I am curious, because from what I can tell, the 73/373 didn’t really add any service. This is most disappointing. The buses used to be a mess, one bus might appear withing five minutes of the other, but during the evening, at least you would have a few. Now it is orderly but not very frequent. It’s every 15 minutes until 5:45, then its every half hour. 5:45 PM is very early to go back to very infrequent.

    There is an alternative, but in most cases, I think it is better to wait. Say, for example, I arrive on The Ave at 6:00 PM. I check one bus away, and realize I have a 15 minute wait. The 67 is a lot more frequent, so I can walk over to Roosevelt. Chances are, though, I will miss the bus (it leaves in two minutes). But if I’m lucky, I can take the bus to Northgate Way. From there, I’ll have to transfer to keep going the same direction. The dynamics of this transfer are weird. The 67 turns, so either way I have to cross the street. With the 347/348 running every 15 minutes, again, it is a risky maneuver. If I get really lucky, and catch both buses without a substantial wait, it may be slower, just because Roosevelt is slower.

    It sure looks like Pinehurst riders are losing out; there is a major truncation, along with a new station in Husky Stadium, and it is no easier to get to or from the UW.

    1. My objection to the 73/373, which was the same as my objection to the 372, is that the 373 skips some local stops that the 73 makes. So there are some bus stops that are not open during rush hour.

      In true Metro fashion, they didn’t bother to include any stop or driver announcements that Rainier Vista is the transfer point to Link. Plenty of confused bus passengers this morning. Some wondered if the Garfield Lane had been moved and they needed to get off at Rainier Vista. Others didn’t know this was for Link. Others jumped off, realized they were at the wrong place and had to jump back on. Others held up the driver asking for directions to Link. Why didn’t Metro include audio announcements about Link and a map showing people how to get from the bus stop to UW station?

  20. So how’s the first weekday of the service restructure going for everyone?

    I biked to work on the Eastside as usual, so no change for me, but I wasn’t expecting any.

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