89 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Crossing the Bay”

  1. Pretty much our approach right now. More bus lanes, second transit tunnel, improvements on BART. All good. And starting with the buses, as we still do, behind on short-term measures like adding bus-only lanes on existing roads, like we also need to do.

    But powering every transportation problem, just like ours the areas outside the San Francisco city limits keep developing in a way that pours ever more private single occupancy cars into the city.

    None of this is anything new in San Francisco history. By the late 1870’s, the place was already a fast-growing pile of densely-inhabited wood crates. Which immediately began repopulating as soon as the fires after the 1906 earthquake got put out.

    Native bristle-cone pine trees won’t even germinate ’til their cones are burned. And ‘quakes are even older. But the climate and beauty of the place assures that people will crash every utility in a compressed death-trap to be there. Or live in a northern Texas desert to get in there every day. Seattle same, but different trees.

    However in both places- nobody has ever moved in at gunpoint. And few driven out of the area by stuck traffic. Cure? Like with life itself, dying. People or city. More comfortable, very possible. Step one, already long in progress both places. Ballard used to be a suburb too.

    Meaning that the faster regions start to think of themselves as cities…well, the more people will move in, but the choice of whether to get expensively stuck in traffic will be ever more voluntary.

    Though do wonder when insurance company’s stockholders demand not insuring anyplace with bristle-cone pine trees on it. And whether desalinization plants can deliver enough water to both drink put out burning cities and drink.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Oakland, Berkeley, and several other parts of the Bay Area have a high percentage of multi-family. I don’t think people on this blog recognize just how much denser the Bay Area is compared to the Puget Sound, both in the core cities and the suburbs/other cities in the respective regions. The Bay Area has over a dozen jurisdictions not counting SF that are denser than Bellevue and quite a few that are denser than Seattle.

      1. James. am I right that the Bay Area started populating a lot sooner than we did? It seems to me that before either the Panama Canal or the railroads came in, that part of California had considerable clipper-ship traffic. While Seattle has remained isolated until about the last 30 years or so?


      2. Yes. Every time I go down to visit family there I’m struck how much more packed the Bay Area is, vastly different than when I was a kid there. It’s now a pretty nice place to visit, but I’d never want to move back there. San Francisco in particular has become both shabby and impossible to deal with compared to how it used to be.

      3. I lived in the Bay Area for over thirteen years, though born and raised in Seattle, and living here more than forty. I commuted on BART for two of those, from Berkeley to SF, and it was a fabulous, reliable commute. Yes, Bay Area communities are often denser, but the wide Bay makes them more spread out, and their lane constraints (six total Golden Gate bridge with ferry but no rail alt, twenty total Bay Bridge lanes with as yet none reversible) can make their car commutes more extended than ours. A more apples-to-apples comparison would be imagining Kitsap/Bainbridge/Vashon as full of multiple housing and lots of commuters, which it just isn’t. Our [once and future] rail corridors are all on one side of our “bay,” and the Lake is not nearly as wide as the Bay, if nearly as long.

  2. Meant to be: “enough water to drink, put out burning cities, and assure enough Anchor Steam Beer that firemen and desalinization workers will stay in town for duty ’til they get BART fixed.”


  3. SPUR is an interesting organization. It’s an interest group devoted to planning issues of all kinds from transportation to zoning codes to homeless issues to environmental challenges. They host several brown bag discussions several times a week for any menber. They also have a giant annual fundraising lunch with a major speaker.

    1. I wonder if we’ve got, or should have, a program to for children to take guided rides on transit, including transit staff-including operating people- explaining how the system and the machines work. Will probably work with RapidRides and the new articulated trolley buses.

      Might be good for schools to be able to arrange this attention as part of field trips for, say, the Art Museum. Adults have told me that children often get more excited about the train ride than whatever they’re going to see.

      Little early for stats, but by observation and personal memory, a hundred percent of six year old boys will start a lifetime or pro-transit voting in 12 years. Not to be mode-prejudiced, but electric stuff really works, especially trains.

      And most especially ones like LINK, that have tunnels, at-grade like MLK, and really great elevated curves like Rainier Beach to Tukwila. Based on young passenger discussions I’ve overheard, girls quietly file technical information toward goal of Sound Transit CEO.


      1. A comprehensive transit education program for children would be great!

        1. Give pre-schoolers a free Orca card that plays a familiar tune line when read.

        2. Circulate materials for classroom education for different grades – especially math.

        3. Have a free transit pass for a period of time when a child reaches an age of some independence – somewhere between sixth and eighth grade. Have it work during the summer or even longer, but long enough to get a child used to riding transit.

        4. Commit to a standard tour of facilities focused on a chosen grade – and have ST and the schools stick to doing it.

        I’m sure a room of childhood education specialists and ST staff could jointly develop a great program, perhaps building on some of these suggestions!

      2. I don’t know about guided rides, but once when I rode the 168 to Maple Valley on a Saturday morning on one of my “bus trips”, a man and his ten-year old son from one of the newish housing developments got in. He was taking his son to see the city. He commuted Monday-Friday but his son hadn’t been to Seattle much. So that was interesting.

        At the time the Maple Valley weekend extension was funded by a WSDOT grant. So I couldn’t help notice that those housing developments had an hourly bus weekends that would have dropped to zero without the grant. Since those are newish developments it’s not a legacy from the 1970s, people actually moved into new houses with practically no transit. I wonder if they even noticed. This man was taking his son on a fun bus trip because the bus was there, but if the bus hadn’t been there I suppose they would have just drove to Kent Station without thinking about it.

      3. Not sure if you’ve heard, Mark, but six year old girls can become pro-transit voters in 12 years too (especially if people who raised children didn’t expect boys and girls to have different preferences (the ultimate self-fulfilling prophesy)).

        I am all for guided introductions to transit and cities. A major reason why I give a damn about transit and cities at all is that I signed up for a pre-orientation program at college; we were going to learn about the homelessness problem in RI and we were going to hear about it from the homeless people themselves, and the people who worked directly with them.

        We went off campus and took a bus to the relevant neighborhoods, and that got me in the habit of leaving campus, taking transit, and paying attention to what makes a city more than a collection of mall stores.

      4. One of the best things that happened to me when I went to school in Boston was a couple outings on the T during my first week on campus. It familiarized me with the system and made learning it’s ins and outs so much easier. Hopefully orientation at UW and the other schools include some introduction to our transit system.

  4. What’s the story behind the long stationless gaps in the Dublin line on both sides of Castro Valley? It was a pleasant surprise going nonstop through ten minutes of country, but it is odd. The first time I didn’t notice any houses at all, but the second time I saw a few farmhouses. I assume it must be all protected farmland or a park? Later I heard there was a station that was deferred, which is now on the map (West Dublin). Are other stations or development expected, or will both sides around Castro Valley be empty forever?

    1. For what it’s worth, I spent a couple of weeks staying in Walnut Creek, and riding BART between Embarcadero, Oakland, and Bay Point. The further inland from the Pacific, the hotter every place is. Further localized, this could determine how popular different places are to live. Just a thought.


    2. Its all mountainous/extremely hilly between Castro Valley and Dublin, much like between the Oakland Hills/Rockridge and Walnut Creek (save for the Highway 24 corridor where Orinda and Lafayette is).

      Its actually a really good question, this represents so much land in the Bay Area, all of it centrally located that is just off limits to development. Yes it would be difficult to develop but given the land and housing prices, probably irrelevant in cost. Of course unless it was developed sustainably and walkable and with quality transit service it would just be wasted with sprawl. But this might be a place for a large carefully planned sustainable community (though some hills might have to be leveled and a ton of infrastructure extended). I suspect this would be much more sustainable and better for the environment than the status quo alternative (pricing people out into the totally autocentric hinderlands). Just accept that development is needed and that people are moving to the Bay Area and find a way to accommodate them in a new centrally located dense walkable sustainable community.

      1. Poncho, we’re living at one of those points in history where national- and world- ways of life change patterns. The last one was at the end of the Second World War. Then, first time most people could have a car- and live where more room meant a freer life.

        Which has now become another unpleasantly constricted way of life because of the sheer number of cars, with other transportation impossible to build. So this is STB’s work right now: help steer our whole development, including housing and industry, toward a way of life delivering the freedom and enjoyment that present system no longer can.

        In the best days of street rail, private developers created both housing and car-lines to serve each other. Cleveland’s Shaker Heights, one example. Pretty much like same interests have been using and steering everything from city arterials to suburban, State, and Federal highways since the 1950’s.

        This is why I think transit needs to develop some aggressive approaches similar to the streetcar days. Would be good if ST itself could start some experiments sending fast transit and its developments in sight of cul de sacs. History says it’s time to try.


      2. It’s difficult to agree with this. I know that area pretty well, and I think there’s a lot of other places in the Bay Area that should be “densified” before Palomares Canyon (for instance). Flooding, erosion, loss of watershed are all big problems. A lot of the landscape isn’t very seismically stable. By the time you finished paving, bulldozing and generally trashing the place, you will have created another rich-people’s ghetto. And transportation would be very, very difficult.
        At some point you have to let the Bay Area become self-limiting. You could bulldoze the entire range of hills down the peninsula and cover it with houses and you’ll just have all of the same problems except they’ll be 10 times worse.
        If people are moving out of the bay area to other places, that’s a good thing. You’ll never be able to bulldoze the Bay Area back to the old affordable days.

    3. The Castro Valley station has one of the lowest entry and exit totals of any BART station. Much of the area between Castro Valley and West Dublin is also owned for public open space.

    4. What Nolan said.

      The last thing the area needs is a sprawling new community in the middle of nowhere. It isn’t even where people want to live. Oh, sure, if you built big houses (and a golf course) someone would move out there, but how is that a good thing? If you built apartments, then who would live there? Why would you live there, instead of Oakland or Berkeley, or even Richmond? Oh, that’s right, poor people. So you want to build a nice, new, high density community in the middle of nowhere, but keep out poor people. Good luck with that.

      Look, most of BART was a mistake. It is that simple. Providing a link between Oakland/Berkeley and San Fransisco was great. That is where most of the rides come from (roughly 80%). Those other cities (Fremont, Richmond, even Dublin and Pleasanton) have people (lots of people compared to cities in our area) but they lack ridership. They lack ridership because they lack the continuous density and proximity to destinations that make HCT transit work. Wiping out native species so we can build more cul-de-sacs isn’t really going to change that. That isn’t good for the local environment, the global environment or the middle class.

  5. What ever happened to the idea of the Sand Point Crossing? Ballard to Redmond! Was it ever really studied?

    1. The original Ballard-Redmond study corridor in 2012-2014 focused on 520, but activists insisted on studying a Sand Point – Kirkland alternative and ST added it. To nobody’s surprise it came out as extremely expensive because of the lake crossing; the lake is some 200 feet deep and has no solid ground under it, just mud, so it would require a floating bridge or underwater tube. The segment east of Kirkland was low ridership and too redundant with East Link. Kirkland refuses to upzone downtown; it wants all its growth in Totem Lake (which wouldn’t be on this line). So with all that, ST didn’t pursue it in ST3. It’s still a possibility in the Long-Term Plan (which isn’t really a plan but a sketch of corridors they might possibly want someday).

      Ballard-UW was initially subsumed in this corridor study, but activists insisted it had to be separable so that it wouldn’t depend on a lake crossing, and ST split the deliverables into Ballard-UW and UW-Redmond under the same consultant team. Now the draft system plan seems to rejoin them (the proposed study), so it’s unclear whether this is just for study convenience or whether we’ll have to press ST again to consider Ballard-UW on its own.

  6. Thoughts on the first couple weeks of U-Link operation, after using it every weekday to commute to the UW as (from what I can tell) the school’s only middle-aged student:

    The extra walk time means it’s not a huge time-saver compared to the old U-district Expresses. Traveling to Architecture or Kane halls, which were pretty much ideal use cases for the 70-series, is only 5-10 minutes shorter by train than the old half-hour bus trip
    The train is infinitely more comfortable than the old bus trip, though, making it feel like a far bigger time advantage than the clock indicates. You can sit in a sideways-facing seat without nausea from potholes and stoplights, you can stand without feeling like you’re going to be thrown to the floor every 30 seconds, you don’t have to turn your headphones to maximum in order to make a podcast audible over the deafening drivetrain noise in a DE60LF’s trailer section.
    No one is getting passed up in the tunnel anymore – the 70-series used to leave people behind every day
    What’s up with the pedestrian overpass at UW Station? Does Sound Transit think that the shortest distance between two points is a semicircle?
    It took approximately one day for every UW student to decide that the escalator is just too long and too slow, even if you jog up/down it, when there’s a fast elevator RIGHT THERE in the center of the platform. The time savings is often the difference between making a train or missing it. ST could have just omitted the escalators altogether and built it like Beacon Hill station.
    If you’re going to a building on the far side of campus, transferring to a bus that will take you up 15th (and skip the potentially 15 minute walk) is relatively painless. Between the 43, 44, 48, 167, 271, 277, 540, 541, 452, & 556, there are 2-minute headways for 15th ave routes. With long dwell times at the busy Pacific St stop, that headway translates into zero wait time – by the time one group of buses is loaded/unloaded and pulling away, the next is already pulling into the stop.
    When making the bus/rail transfer, it’s unclear to me so far if it’s faster to take the direct route and use the crosswalk, or take the semi-circular overpass to the far side of the triangle.
    Google Maps is still kind of confused about the changes, doesn’t have the correct location for recently moved bus stops (most importantly #29405), and generates trip plans that put people on the 70 to/from downtown in certain common cases. This has resulted in the 70 being a total hot mess as huge numbers of former express-riders blindly follow their tech.
    The markings at bus stops indicating which routes connect to Link need to be pared down. For example, the 49 is marked as a Link-connecting bus at 15th ave stops, even though it connects to Capitol Hill station, 20 minutes away. This makes it appear on-par with the 10 other routes at the same stop that are only 5 minutes from UW station. If you were making a decision about which bus to get on based only on signage at the stop, you could make a very time-expensive mistake.

    That’s all I’ve got for now. Maybe more next week.

    1. Well, I see the commenting system strips <ul> and <li> tags. So much for my formatting.

    2. Is the 70 getting the bulk of articulated trolleys that had been allocated to the 43?

      Its a real shame the buses at UW station don’t run counterclockwise around the Montlake Triangle garage so they can pick up right in front of the station at the curb. Put in bus lanes and signal priority to make this loop work. Clearly the station should have been where the underground garage is so it would have been that much closer to campus and had a direct transfer to buses looping around the triangle clockwise (as is the case now).

      How many of the bus lines serving UW station now will shift to serve/feed 45th/Brooklyn station instead?

      1. The 70 is (from what I’ve observed) all articulated coaches now, at least on weekdays. But they’re diesels; Eastlake has no trolley wire.

        As for buses getting shifted from UW station to Brooklyn, quite a few of these buses only serve UW station incidentally. Their primary purpose for driving down Pacific and 15th (in either direction) is to harvest riders from UW and the medical center before heading to their true destinations on the eastside or north Seattle. A lot of them simply have to drive past the perimeter of campus anyway in order to get somewhere with layover parking.

        With the station opening and the discontinuation of the 70-series expresses, there’s been a reshuffling of which routes serve 15th and which serve University. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say that this division probably closely represents which buses will get shifted to Brooklyn station vs UW station. Or they might all just serve both; the campus itself is a bigger ridership source than the rail transfers (60,000 students, faculty, and staff on-campus every weekday), and is large enough to warrant buses serving all sides.

        Reversing the flow around the Montlake Triangle is a nice idea, but with limited need. I see very few people going between the buses and the trains. Most are walking directly from the platform to their destination, even if it is a long-ish walk. Although it is possible and easy to take a bus from the station to the far side of campus, it really only saves about 5 minutes, which is not worth the hassle to most. It would be nice to have access to some ORCA card data in order to know truly how many northern Seattlites are actually using bus-train transfers to get downtown at UW station, but just from viewing pedestrian patterns, it’s clear that those riders are in the minority by a large amount. Maybe that’s because they’re all trying to cram onto the 70 instead.

      2. Lack Thereof –

        The 70 is a trolley coach route. Has been since 1997.

        The articulated trolleys not longer needed for the 43 are operating on the 70. With headway improvements throughout the system, Metro is short a couple of articulated trolleys from what they need for this shakeup, so there are a couple of articulated diesel runs out there. Otherwise, yes, route 70 got a much needed vehicle capacity bump this shakeup.

      3. You’re right, K, my mistake. Every time I’ve jumped on a 70 this week, it’s been a diesel, so I just assumed they all were. And then when i went to street view to verify, I didn’t see the wire, because apparently I’m blind.

      4. The 70’s creation coincided with electrifying Eastlake-Fairview. Before that it was 71/72/73/74 locals all day, alongside the expresses.

      5. The original proposed station location location would have put the station between the Triangle and Stevens Way along Rainier vista. The UW didn’t want rail there due to construction impacts in Rainier Vista and because trains would cause vibration and electromagnetic interference with experiments in buildings on the science quad.

      6. @Chris — That station would have been better, but I also think putting it in the triangle would have been a substantial improvement over what we have now. That would have enabled a very fast connection to the hospital (through the existing underground garage). Connecting to buses would have better as well. There would be no need for a high, albeit very attractive bridge. I find that pedestrian bridge rather funny — up and over, then down, down, down you go. This is probably the worst possible spot to put the station. The only thing that is more convenient is the stadium(s), and when there is an event, there is usually no hurry, and cops wave you across anyway. Given sudden crowd bursts, there is really no advantage to having the station close to the stadium (when 10,000 people approach a station, it doesn’t matter how far away the station is).

        Anyway, I think the reason they didn’t go with a station in the triangle is because of security concerns (the UW and ST couldn’t work out their differences).

      7. The station was never going to be directly in the triangle. There would have been much concrete to remove in the form of the garage.

        That said there was some talk of an underground walkway to the Triangle garage from the current station but the UW said ‘no’ claiming security concerns.

    3. From my experience, the fastest connection between the Montlake/Pacific bus stop and the UW station depends on a various factors, such as how fast you walk, whether you are taking the elevator of the escalator, and how long you would need to wait for the walk signal to cross Montlake at the crosswalk.

      For connecting to Link from a 520 bus, however, I believe that, somewhat counter-intuitively, the fastest path to the train may actually be to get off the bus at Montlake/Shelby, rather than Montlake/Pacific. The walk is slightly further in distance, but it saves two light cycles crossing Montlake (the first one on the bus, the second on foot).

      1. No more crush loads during my commute times, even on the 2-car trains. It’s usually standing loads, but with some aisle seats available that people are choosing not to use out of preference for personal space.

        The most packed I see the trains is when they pass through University Street station going northbound. At that point there’s still a solid press of downtown-bound riders still on the train from points south, as well as transfer riders loading on for points north. By the time it clears Westlake station, there’s plenty of breathing room as most of the inbound commuters have cleared out. I haven’t seen any loading issues southbound, but that’s because my southbound commute usually dodges the peak by a few hours.

        Bicycle space is still an issue, though.

    4. Our type of monkeys would have all been kitty-treats for leopards if we hadn’t become lifelong flexible and dynamic, lack. So evidence is that Nature long ago made infancy, youth, adulthood, and old age standard parts of a healthy mechanism.

      Middle age is, like all modern American problems, a self-inflicted choice. For which going to school with young adults who often have children is a wonderful cure. Also, if King County still has employee health inducements, good chance that station ramp design, like LINK bench seats, are part of that program.

      Definitely true that as LINK builds out farther, passengers will feel like some exercise and fresh air after an hour or so. And bathrooms too, all ages. Also, give comparative time-trials another year or two. For effects of car crashes and blizzards on elapsed time. But stay with it, and keep reporting to your findings to “electeds” Or become one.

      Middle age has more than one outcome. One to aim for is a wise cheerful old age before you’re dead. In that order. What are you studying?


      1. This bald monkey is studying to become a nurse. In time I might become a nurse midwife (midhusband?) or perinatal nurse practitioner, and guide more of us hairless apes in the transition from belly to world. But it is too early to presume that the UW Nursing school will accept me with open arms (20% acceptance rate, response expected the 15th), so I am hedging and have also been taking computer science courses. I have taken to the CS courses like a duck to water, so I am feeling prepared for whatever comes.

        Wherever I end up, it’s a far cry from the physics/mechanical engineering track I was on the first time around, or the automotive/diesel work I had made my career after dropping out.


    5. I didn’t quite realize most of my trips would be between the two new stations. It’s great for southwest Capitol Hill: a 6-minute walk uphill to Capitol Hill Station vs a 5-minute walk across a freeway to Convention Place Station. Link eliminates the unreliability of getting to the U-District, but it doesn’t lower my total travel time because I still have two buses after that, but it gives me more choices and frequency on those buses.

      Talking a northbound bus on Pacific Street has been easy; the Montlake crosswalk is more a philosophical failure than an access one. From the ped bridge I don’t see how you can get to the northbound bus stop without going out of the way. As for the people walking toward campus, some of them are going to the Stevens Way bus stops (75, 372).

      I take Link almost every day now and I haven’t seen any capacity problems. I avoid the elevator to make room for people who need it more. Is it getting crowded? I do think ST should have just made the station elevator-only. The reason it didn’t was probably cost, as it would require more elevators than Beacon Hill has, and if they underestimated the demand they’d be totally screwed with crowds that can’t even squeeze on to an elevator like they can with escalators.

      The rail symbol next to the bus route numbers means that there’s a station somewhere along the route, even if it’s at the other end. I’m not sure that should be eliminated. Are people really taking the 49 thinking it’ll go to UW Station? If this is a problem, Metro could group the schedules into two sections: routes going to UW Station and routes not. That would be akin to the Cologne streetcar where multiple lines overlap for a few stations and then diverge, and the display signs show where the next few trains go but when a train comes it starts flashing “BARBAROSSAPLATZ” in large letters which is the last common station. Similarly, Metro could group the schedules to show that “These routes go to UW Station” and “These routes don’t”.

      1. Are people really taking the 49 thinking it’ll go to UW Station?

        The real question should be “are people really using the wayfinding information on Metro’s signs?” Because if so, we shouldn’t assume people know the difference between one station and another, or which routes go where, or how long they take to get there. Assuming the wayfinding info is targeted towards zero-information riders, the train iconography should mean “take this route to get to the train,” not “this route will meet the train at some point along it’s route.” Which means the icons should be selectively applied on a stop-by-stop basis, based on what’s most rational for that location. Of course, that would involve manhours, something Metro has very few of.

        I don’t think it’s necessary to complicate the signs by specifying which train station it’s referring to, but it would certainly be preferable to the information currently provided.

      2. The big advantage of escalators over elevators is capacity. Elevators don’t scale all that well, and on Husky game days, they would be swamped. The travel time advantage of the elevator over the escalators is about two minutes, so if you have to wait in line more than two minutes for the elevator, it is faster to just take the escalator.

      3. @asdf2 — That makes sense. I rode it once last week, and was surprised to see a couple fairly fit young women go straight to the elevator. My first thought was how lazy they were (just like the folks that don’t walk on the escalators) but then I realized how far down that thing is. Like you said, they probably beat us by a couple minutes (and might have caught a previous train). They were smart, not lazy.

      4. What surprises me is how many people walk up the escalators at UW Station. It’s almost everybody, even on the long one. It must be because the average age of the students is around 20. “Onward! This puny escalator shall not stand in my way. I will ascend to great heights.”

      5. The elevator at UW station is a big problem with bikes. It is full with able bodied students who all glare at me when I try to squeeze my bike on to the elevator or when I accidentally block people who want to get out on street level instead of the burke gilman level. It might be easier for me to carry my bike on the escalator…

      6. Re the station confusion for the 49, doesn’t every station already have a unique icon? Metro could place that icon next to the train icon. The savvy rider would make the connection; it would be sort of like playing a game of Myst and trying to figure out where one of those trains goes…

      7. Even if somebody in the U-district does mistakenly get on a 49 because it has the “train” icon, does it really matter? They’ll end up at Capitol Hill Station and still get wherever it is they’re trying to go.

    6. Link was full of bikes both directions today (Emerald City Bike Ride). Those escalators were really handy for getting a lot of bikes up to the surface, the elevators would have taken too long.

      1. Even the day before I noticed that a couple of people had their bikes on the escalator. The big 520 bike ride was a very special thing, but I wonder if a lot of bikers will continue to carry their bikes on the train. It makes sense. Link provides a very nice connection between the plateau that is Capitol Hill/C.D. and the Burke Gilman. That is a lot of territory that can be traveled without climbing a steep hill (e.g. First Hill to Fremont).

        I hope that they build a big bike locker soon, as this would make a lot more sense. Do that and people will start buying bikes to put on both ends (until Pronto really gets moving).

    1. Yes, it was. Although Ballard to UW won ST’s “push poll” survey (where West Seattle light rail was the most popular, while the Ballard options were separate items). As for option D, SDOT supported the current ST draft version, more or less. I assume, it was due to cost (and that Amazon and Expedia needed better transit).

      Of course, Ballard to UW got almost as many riders, at about 60% of the cost.

      1. I certainly want to see UW-Ballard too but as far as the Ballard-Downtown corridor and making what is proposed better, I’d much rather have an all underground route and actually hit 2 existing transit oriented walkable communities (Lower Fremont & QA Hill) versus at-grade through highway oriented industrial in Interbay with everything out of the walkshed. Plus with Corridor D I’d love to see an additional Freelard station and target growth there and grow it into a self-sufficient urban village.

      2. I’m sure the big issue was cost. As it is, this proposal just barely makes the cut, which is why it will take so long.

    2. It would be very difficult to put a station in under Queen Anne Hill given the elevation difference. That is why this left the table given the ridership went down the drain if a station on the upper section of the hill wasn’t there.

      1. I don’t see much of a difference here from Beacon Hill station or Washington Park MAX in Portland

      2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_Hill_Station_%28San_Francisco%29

        Daniel and Poncho, great example above. Though unless Queen Anne has chance of a giant hospital or similar, you won’t need elevators as big. Only different contractor than the one who did whole Central LINK.

        Forest Hill Station, MUNI M-Line. Does STB have any readers who know underground construction and its fields of study, like rocks, soils, and water? Would swiftly bring these discussions into the real world, and thereby make them both interesting and a lot more positive.

        Hey, Lack, what are you studying? You could really help here. Not too many middle aged miners, because automation saves so many young lives before they go middle, choosing UW instead. But also on positive side, have met some really great North Carolinians whose lives have left them both trained for the ST6 Ellensburg Tunnel. And also old.


      3. That’s the point; it would have required an expensive elevator like Beacon Hill Station. Beacon Hill is the entire ridge, while upper Queen Anne is only a 10×10 block area where it’s flat.

      4. This option was dropped due to cost. The second downtown tunnel ate most of the budget.

        The extra ridership gained from UQA and West Fremont was decided to not be worth it. (I think the net gain was around 5k daily riders). The UQA station would be expensive, serve few riders, and be the deepest transit station in the world.

      5. I agree that the issue was cost, but let’s not assume too much about the ridership estimates. This is ST we are talking about. They have had a history of problems with their estimates, and their current ones (for the spine) are ridiculous. If an independent agency came up with the estimates I would put more faith in them. That doesn’t mean I would support this (it sill might be too expensive) but I would at least believe the numbers.

    3. The original Ballard-downtown study alternatives did not have a Queen Anne routing or fully grade separated. But Ben S who used to be with STB pieced together an underground Westlake-QA-Fremont-Balllard line from parts of ST’s alternatives, then STB endorsed the idea, and it got majority support in the Ballard-downtown public feedback (66-75%). That would have solved upper Queen Anne’s transit-access issues once and for all, as well as a fast trip to Fremont from both downtown and Ballard. But it was more expensive than the other alternatives. I think ST would have gone along with it if it didn’t have to squeeze the budget to fit both Ballard and West Seattle in.

      Amazon needs some more transit. It’s not clear that it deserves a station at 9th & Harrison when there’s a Denny Way station and also density further west. Expedia knew when it chose the Amgen site recently that it might not be along the light rail alignment, so I wouldn’t bend the line just for Expedia. But Expedia happens to be along the lowest-cost alignment so both factors won out.

      1. I have heard rumors from sources I believe to be reliable that Expedia are already delaying their move because of transportation issues, and may call it off if entirely unless there are significant upgrades in that area.

      2. I doubt Expedia or Amazon had much to do with the choice of Interbay. Amazon (and growth in South Lake Union) maybe pushed the route away from Belltown towards SLU, but that is about it. I don’t think that decision is necessarily a good one, or an obvious one, so pressure from one of the biggest employers in the city may have influenced that choice.

        But in general, there were three choices. A route along Westlake would have required a tunnel, or a low bridge. The first would have been too expensive, and the second too unreliable. Cutting through Queen Anne was the ideal route, but too expensive (as Mike said). That left Interbay, where there will be a very tall bridge and lots of surface running. Once you do that, of course you add a station at Amgen — sorry, Expedia. It is not a great station, but a surface station like that is very cheap.

  7. Didn’t get this in until the very end of the last open thread, so I’m posting again so maybe more people can see it:

    I took a 360º spherical video I took at the U Link Golden Ticket event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-J9zHSv_leU

    Make sure you view it in 1080s HD, it’s way more watchable that way than in lower resolution.

  8. Our experiences with the Metro restructure have been mixed.

    While I’m still annoyed about stop spacing on 25th, it is kind of freeing to not have to check OBA before leaving the house or work. I’ve had fairly good luck during the week only needing to wait 3-5 minutes after arriving at a stop. I live far enough north that I’ve never had a 372 skip my stop, though they still skip 47th and Blakely with some regularity.

    Since the Metro restructure is much more transfer-heavy, I have become more aware of Metro behavior that hinders transfers – like when 2 different buses are behind each other, and the back bus won’t signal the front bus there’s a passenger looking to transfer. Or when a bus is stuck 30 feet before the bus stop due to traffic backed up at a red light, but the driver won’t open the door. So by the time traffic clears and the bus finishes its stop, it’s missed another light cycle.

    My husband has had much more negative experiences this week. He uses OBA and finds the buses to still be highly unreliable. On a couple of occasions he barely missed the 372 because it came 5 minutes early and passed him while he was walking down 25th Ave. The next 372 was 10 minutes late so he was stuck waiting 25+ minutes for a bus. Also, he had a horribly rude 40 driver up near North Seattle College. When he boarded, he asked to confirm if the bus was heading to Northgate rather than downtown. The bus driver ordered him to get off the bus and had him look at the signpost before he was allowed to board the bus again. So at this point he’s somewhat insistent that we buy a car because he’s fed up with Metro’s unreliability and rudeness.

    1. So far I’ve ridden the 372 twice peak hours, and I haven’t seen the overcrowding that some were fearing. However, I usually go in the reverse commute direction so it may be worse the other way.

    2. The driver made him get off and look at the sign while the bus waited for him to get on again? Ayayay! Just telling him “Yes” or “No” would have been faster than that.

      1. Thanks for your libertarian trolling, not. This is one driver out of tens of thousands. I’ve ridden Metro extensively for decades and never seen anything like this. The drivers usually go on the side of giving helpful information, but some of them try to limit the information to keep the bus moving for the other passengers. This driver was clearly trying to do the latter, which is good, but he did it in a not-good way. And perhaps his tone was an additional problem, which could be how he always is or could be just that day.

      2. I think you’re being too charitable about this particular driver. The driver did have a fairly angry tone and the conversation went something like this:

        “Does this bus go to Northgate Transit Center?”
        (annoyed tone) “What does it say outside at the bus stop?”
        “I’m not sure. I’m trying to get to Northgate.”
        “Well go out and look at the sign”
        [goes out, reads sign, gets back on]
        “Well, what did the sign say?”
        “The bus is going to Northgate”
        “Well there’s your answer then”

        The cherry on top is that the person boarding behind him had the exact same question. But after seeing this, they were too afraid to ask the driver, so they asked my husband instead. Maybe the driver meant it as a teachable moment, but they did that badly. They could have said Yes, this bus is going to Northgate. If you’re in doubt, you can look at the posted signs to see which bus is going where.” I’m not saying the driver should be fired for this, but I do think they should be taken off driving until they do some sort of customer service training.

      3. I get no end of amusement watching someone listen to the announcement then immediately walk on board and ask the driver the exact same question. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve watched someone stand there, wait for the computer to finish saying “route 545 express to Redmond” and the person then ask the driver “does this bus go to Redmond?,” I wouldn’t have to go to work any more. As an individual, it is irrationally irritating. :D

        But, I’m not a Metro driver. Yep, those folks are human and entitled to their grumblings but, as anybody who has ever worked a customer-facing job knows (myself included, I still deal directly with customers to this day), you save the gripes for outside of earshot from the customers. Larry, were I in your husband’s shoes, I would make sure Metro gets a comment through their web site. I’ve only rarely encountered a rude bus driver–and many, many more of them have been pleasant, nice people–so I’m firmly in the camp that the driver he encountered was an aberration.

      4. You won’t believe how many people used to get on the 47 saying, “Does this route go to Broadway?” (No, all the other ones do.) or on the 30 saying, “Does this route go downtown?” (Transfer in the U-District -or- You’re going the wrong direction.) It was the #1 question by far.

      5. The driver sounds like a prick. The exact opposite of this guy: https://www.theurbanist.org/category/civics-and-culture/the-view-from-nathans-bus/

        I’m sure the driver gets tired of answering the same question 40 times a day, but there was just a restructure. A lot of people used to their old routes aren’t sure they are taking the bus the right direction, or the right bus. Just pull away from the curb and answer “yes”. Don’t make everyone else on the bus wait for the driver to have his “teaching moment”. If I was a rider (and had a sharper wit) I think I would lean over about thirty second later and say “Excuse me, driver, but I would appreciate if you just kept going — I would like to get to my destination faster and don’t want to spend extra time waiting while you lecture other customers”. I’m sure that would get me the stink eye, though, if not kicked off the bus.

    3. Larry, with immediate response- like cell-phone-incident like the last is Gross enough Misconduct to solve a single part of the general problem above. Customer service at Metro website has dialog box all ready to go. Always good to remember time, location, bus number, and direction of travel. Helps with lost items too. Also commendations.

      Transit driving isn’t a normal human job. You’re not allowed to go full time if your personality test reveals any trace of being normal or human. No excuse, but 6 hours at the wheel of standing loads on a heavy route left me wishing for a dose of wolf-bane whatever kind of moon there was. And on a run I liked, meaning not Northgate.

      But seriously- very- while DSTT operations in general are worst examples, worst incidents are always result of intolerable conditions in the hands of overworked, badly-supervised, and dangerously under-trained human beings.

      Anybody in Instruction, make a liar out of me. You don’t have to sign it. But pretty sure we both agree on who’s creating transit policy. And its every consequence.

      So best first approach is a lot of very rude and loud (voters don’t have to be afraid of Base Chiefs) concentrated reproach to everybody’s individual representative on King County Council and Sound Transit Board. Threats are ugly and counterproductive, so just mention ST3 with a question mark on the end.

      Mark Dublin

  9. Restructure of Rapid Ride C line: I rode it through the SLU loop and I am not impressed. At 4:15 in the afternoon very few boardings leaving SLU until it reached its old route on 3rd Avenue. Meanwhile, because Metro decided not to include destination-rich Lower Queen Anne in the loop to SLU, most of West Seattle now has at least a 3 seat ride to Key Arena, SIFF Cinema at Uptown Theater, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle Opera, Cornish and Intiman Theater, Bagley Wright Theater, Seattle Center, Teatro Zinzani. In exchange we get a 2 seat ride to MOHAI and the Center for Wooden Boats. Any other great destinations in SLU that I need to know about to feel better about this strange restructure?

    1. I wonder how different the boardings would look during the weekday? I suppose it’d be too complicated to give the C a different routing on weekdays and weekends…

    2. “Any other great destinations in SLU that I need to know about to feel better about this strange restructure?”

      Besides tens of thousands of jobs?

    3. I suppose there’s always the Lake Union Airport.

      The good news is that reliability in West Seattle is no longer tied to the Denny Disaster or the Ballard Bridge.

  10. Sound Transit is full of shit on the difficulty of completing the 130th station as part of Lynnwood Link construction. perhpas those claiming such things are ‘impossible’ simply haven’t talked to those who were there the last time Sound Transit changed a project after a FFGA was issued.

    See Central Link
    Initial Segment and Airport Link Before & After Study
    page 4.

    “In January 2005 Sound Transit received a Documented Categorical Exclusion (DCE) from FTA to add Stadium Station, which was previously a deferred station, bringing the total number of stations to twelve.”

    Also note Sound Transit extended the scope of the FFGA to add Airport station to the project so they could spend the entire amount of the Federal Grant for Central Link.

    This document also proves Sound Transit has been “on time and under budget” with Link projects ever since Central Link entered Final Design in 2002. Of course the haters aren’t ever going to let the unrealistic promises made by politicians in 1996 go.

    1. I agree. It makes no sense, really. Sound Transit has a history, from the very first ballot initiative, of modifying their projects. The original project was supposed to be a line from the U-District to SeaTac, which included a stop in First Hill. That didn’t happen, but after a lot of negotiation, it still qualified for a grant. It is hard to imagine that the government would fail to grant money if you added value to a system, as opposed to removing it (which has been the case historically with ST).

  11. Hey, z7, sorry it took so long to find a “window”. Sorry I left this one ambiguous.

    But I thought context showed my real meaning: a mental picture of a 6 year old girl knowing by observation that with little boys like that dreaming about driving trains….she’d better be sure to vote in person in the Ruth Fisher Board Room.

    Before winking at a picture of Ruth, thinking about Joni Earl, and heading upstairs to her ST CEO office to call LCC to shut down the power before a certain red-headed freckled driver could get out of Tukwila International inbound and “see how fast this thing can go!” like he said he would fifteen years ago.

    Also recaledl an actual experience on Rainier about three in the afternoon when I pulled my Route 7 over to help another driver whose young lady passengers were dealing vigilante style with driver behavior. While hanging upside down from the overhead bars.

    The poor driver couldn’t even get to his radio to call control. I asked the future ST CEO’s why they were being so mean to my friend. “‘Cause he’s a BUTT HEAD!” Luckily responding supervisor was a lady, bringing a stop to every illegal activity all the way to Renton.

    But 12 years later, I found myself shaking uncontrollably every time I walked past old Union Station! Good thing there weren’t any interurbans left fifteen years after I was six!


  12. I’m thinking of starting a charity organization called Commenters Without Borders, where first world blog commenters would seek out third world-based blogs and write in their comment sections in order to help them out.

    1. Good idea, Sam. Year before last, went back to the United Republic of Tanzania, halfway down the east coast of Africa. My father worked as a cooperative advisor there, and my mother, us four kids, and the dog lived there about four years on and off.

      Was very interested to see especially how the younger East Africans are doing fifty years after the British let go. Here’s how they’re doing: none of them want to be an employee. Young woman running gift shop: “I was in investment banking, but now I am going to set up my own marketing firm.”

      The young man running the swimming pool at same lodge: “I am studying to be a nurse.” Work that many African men do- very well.

      Another young woman, a van driver between two border crossings could miss a pedestrian by an inch at 40 mph without either braking or scaring them, let alone spilling an open cup of coffee on the dash. She also managed to herd us (Maasai have been doing this since time began) through a border station without conflict one.

      Since Tanzania has declared it will save its wildlife by making tourism the National industry, this lady will probably partner with the recent new marketing strategist. But I think the Tanzanian commenters that can help us most are the technicians on the tourist-vital achievement of the world’s cleanest public toilets. All with seats, as well as having stalls mopped after every single use.

      I’m sure they can tell us how to come up with a comprehensible system creating ORCA cards that will work comprehensibly for transit as well.

      But I think that Africa, Asia, and South Americans are really struggling with a real puzzler. How to cure the inhabitants of the largest, freest, richest, safest, most united democracy the world has ever known of their acute chronic small-thinking, dictator-seeking, world-fearing divisive cowardice.

      I’m afraid they’ll tell us that there are some problems beyond best efforts of well-meaning outsiders. Good thought, though. Give it a try, Sam. They’ll be so proud they can help you!


  13. I’ve been measuring my commute time between Wedgwood and downtown both before and after U Link/bus restructure. My old route was 71 or 76, new is 65+Link. So far, it’s saving me an average of 8.5 minutes, even with the transfer. Not too bad.

  14. Random idea that may be stupid: Would a four track subway for Central and South Link (with two tracks for local service with a lot more stations then what happened in RL and two tracks for express service with stops at limited stations to replace ST Express routes) be a viable, if expensive way to get both local and frequent service and express service along the 99 corridor in South King and Pierce without having to settle for ST’s current proposal?

    1. I doubt it. If we could afford it, we may as well just build the Georgetown Bypass, if for no other reason than to save a couple miles of track, plus another expensive tunnel under Beacon Hill.

      As a more realistic alternative, we already have an express train to the south sound area – Sounder – it just doesn’t run frequently enough to be all that useful.

    2. I seriously doubt it. We’d need to rebuild MLK again, plus either dig another tunnel under Beacon Hill or have the express trains stop at Beacon Hill Station. And even once we did that, at those distances Link’s 55-mph top speed will become rather significant. The existing express service, Sounder, is much better – and at the price quad-tracking Link would be, we could afford to triple-track BNSF, or maybe even move all the freight over to the UP line and dedicate BNSF to Sounder..

      1. I meant to add that this idea is meant to be considered as an alternate proposal for back in 1996- the ship has long sailed now. This would also involve an express subway like BART that tops out at 80 MPH.

    3. I think William C said it best that you would be better off shifting freight to UP and build that corridor up, keep BNSF for Sounder and intercity rail.

  15. Lack, I’m sorry it took me so long to get a window to answer you. I was trying to cheer you up. Because three years ago, at age 67, the chief of the precision machining shop at Lake Washington Technical College told me that the cost of finishing the course would probably be my right hand.

    Spirit willing, reflexes long gone. For me, spiritual heart breaker. When I left Metro driving, I went back to trade school to learn industrial graphics. 3D modeling, soon to become 3D printing and Computer Numeric Control machining was easy for me.

    But I also soon understood that while an unschooled human machinist doesn’t need much detailed instruction on familiar work, CNC will cheerfully blow itself up if it thinks somebody told it to. I shouldn’t have been allowed to touch SolidWorks without three years in the machine shop. Almost accepted the instructor’s terms.

    In Africa, learned with a few bites- those creatures can send you to Emergency before you see them move- to respect monkeys. Our kinship with them is our good luck, not theirs. Strong, smart, fast, and brave. But I really do think our own individual and collective survival advantage is exactly how swiftly we adjust to major change in any direction.

    We- sometimes the same person- can transplant from high arctic to Brazilian rain forest to African desert. And live a life of skilled labor we thoroughly enjoy. Haven’t really surveyed animal adjustment, but hard to know who created love of work for its own sake…humans or huskies?

    Africa and a huge amount of the world sees nothing unusual about men doing nursing. Am I wrong you chose this profession because a nurse has to be the toughest and smartest professional in a brutally punitive world. Having been around hot, sharp, fast-moving metal…do you really want a doctor to come on-scene first?

    Suggestion, though, about college chances. Exactly like a mechanic or welder, and any of the other machinery you know, there’s literally a world of work for you. Most of it in places with hotter climate- or colder in former-Soviet- and worse smell than Seattle, but you might like the work a lot better. Strong urges of mine to stay both Tanzania and Israel. Where public transit also often lacks air conditioning.

    About middle age: I’m not kidding. The advertising industry is always inventing new divisions of human life to sell things. “Teenager” is a pernicious lie. Most places, most of history, people become men and women around age 13. Far from elders, but still adults. Nearing end of life, both genders often get most respect in their lives. Where you and I are: solid core of society. Always and everywhere.

    However long as you’re at UW, just do what you’re already doing: walking around setting an example. Good luck, man, good luck.

    Mark Dublin

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