This is an open thread. 

128 Replies to “News Roundup: Demolition”

    1. Agreed. Well, a massive pronto station and a bike valet, if you ask me. The walkshed of that station is nothing compared to the bikeshed (u-district + burke). But anyway I can get by with not carrying a lock or worrying about theft, I’m biking to that station way more.

    1. Poncho, history doesn’t “Stall”.

      Things, like land use patterns, arise out of conditions. Which change at either faster or slower rates, due to every influence including the human life-span.

      World War II flattened the whole industrial world. But also brought our homeland out of the ’29 Depression without a scratch. And hundreds of thousands of kids in their 20’s who could finally have a car. And spread out. Which nobody saw any reason not to.

      Now most of these people dead, and the ideas that shaped their lives, and everything that resulted- obsolete. No mystery about why it was that life these last seventy years spread itself out.
      To the point where line-haul transit worked ever fewer places.

      But for everybody reading this, we’re pretty much where our grandparents were when they got out of uniform. Different events, change no question. But about War on (pick one) “Transit”, “Cars”, or “Christmas”- which the Puritans actually started and attacked people for celebrating….

      First generation suburbanizers, always assumed traffic constantly relieved by subways and streetcars. But every subway ride of mine in Chicago when I was 8, average male passenger was both a union member and a Democrat. With a view of Government that the Secretary’s party needs to quit acting like it forgot:

      Government itself is neither a tyrant nor a benefactor- anymore than is a large piece of modern machinery. It’s a tool for which citizens can train, and then cooperate to use for purposes they can’t achieve individually. Really great for building light-rail (ok, guys, like the North Shore!) and subways.

      Mark Dublin

  1. Anybody know what’s up with the 4’s weekend routing? According to the Metro website it does this weird unidirectional loop from its original routing then northbound on MLK up to Cherry. There’s no trolley wire north of Judkins, so I guess it’s limited to diesel coaches.

    Also, Oran’s map doesn’t seem to reflect it, so I’m wondering when/why it happened.

    https://seattletransitmap.com/view/

    1. If I remember correctly, the 4 would normally head north on 23rd for a bit if it followed its trolley wire. The weekend routing on MLK is a result of 23rd Ave’s reconstruction and the usual diesel substitution on trolley routes. The 23rd Ave project is also the reason that the 4 turns back near Garfield on weekdays when it runs as a trolley route. The current weekend service is actually closer to what route 4 is intended to do, which is drive through Judkins Park at the route’s southern end.

    2. It’s a long-term construction reroute. I expected it to be completed by the time my March map was published. If you view the September edition that routing is there.

    1. Now if Metro can smother its burning desire to screw up the 48 by linking it to the 7. (Hey, the 48 is too long and has too many bottlenecks, let’s split it somewhere just short of like three urban villages! *time passes* Hey, the 48 is too short, let’s link it to a really long route that makes 8 million slow, local stops to shadow the light rail that the CD will never get!)

      1. You’re thinking too small, lakecity (man, what a name for a gunfighter! Your route really ought to be the .44!) Plan is to extend the 7-wire from Prentice Street to Renton, and then eastward via Route 18 and I-90 to Ellensburg.

        Thereby attaining the coveted All-Russian Heroic Trans-Mountain Trolleybus Association. Where our only fellow member will be the 50 mile long wire over the mountains from the coast to the interior in Crimea.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6792nwi8hQ

        Our One Percent for the Arts program should be able to do a marble and granite roadside statue of Jay Inslee, with holographic video of The Battle of Seattle. SPD will love the weapons and the uniforms!

        Also, Local 587 member with the microphone will definitely see to it that fares get paid. Now do you want the 522 connected to the 48 and the 7, or not? Just remember, if you don’t cooperate, ST 522 won’t be wired over Stevens Pass ’til Ballard-West Seattle gets done.

        Mark

    1. It’s been discussed a bit in several comment threads here, but there should definitely be a post on it ASAP. There’re some great route ideas there, a lot of which line up with things I’ve seen previously here on the blog.

      1. Good to know, and that’s a great reason to postpone the post. I’ll be looking forward to it!

  2. “The Beacon Hill Station bike cage is now open, offering unlimited parking for $50/year.”

    Good job charging for bike parking. It reduces the bike sprawl.

    (humor intended)

    1. Good to see ST sticking it to the cyclists and letting cars park free. Of course it will cost about $150 of ST staff time to process the printed applications that are required to be mailed to them in order to receive access to your $50 per year “parking spot” that is not guaranteed.

      1. Does anybody know the cost per bike of various racks/boxes/valet solutions? It would be nice to compare to car parking costs.

      2. It’s a cage as in a locked place that ST has to issue a key or such for, and it may be covered to keep out the rain. Cars don’t get that luxury.

      3. Well, multi-level garages keep out the rain, and I’d mention that a garage involves enough structure to support multi-ton vehicles, and a lot more space per.

        But yes, the costs are not directly comparable, because bike parking involves operational costs and parking is largely infrastructure

      4. The operational costs of a bike cage are really tiny. The foregone interest that could have been earned taking the capital cost of a parking garage, and sticking it in a bank account is probably higher.

        Ideally, the cage access would be implemented through the Orca system, rather than require a special key to be mailed out.

    2. Pricing ensures usage. If people could reserve them for free, you’d get people reserving lockers and not feeling obligated to use them regularly. It’s a way to allocate the scare resource of limited lockers to heavy users.
      Similar concept: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endowment_effect

      Unlike parking, the potential revenue raised from this will be negligible, so don’t get tied up if ST doesn’t “make money”

    3. After living in Amsterdam for many years, I have to ask: why do these bike racks need to be so elaborate and expensive? Why not just some simple bars to just tie the bikes to? Theft is a big problem in Amsterdam yet somehow the system works.

      1. Theory, Ryan. Bike theft protection in the US suffers from the fact that a police force that mostly drives cars can’t really do much about stolen bikes than take a report. If they feel like it.

        But in Holland….come on, there have to be police shows where everything in the chase scenes has two wheels! What the Brits do, the Dutch should be able to do better! “OK, I need to see both hands! It’s not my fault if your bike falls over!” Don’t make me go to Google Translate!

        Also, bet response time to whatever Amsterdam equivalent to Rainier Beach Station is really fast and silent. Nobody better say squeeze-bulb horn for a siren and a blue and white flasher on somebody’s helmet!

        But: hero on every show like this has to have a local-country buddy. Any transit police in bicycle division? Might even get a TV.

        Mark

      2. Apparently you never made it to a train station while you were living in Amsterdam as it has one of the largest secure biking facilities in the world, as well as one of the largest unprotected bike parking areas (the big ramp).

        If you had traveled outside of Amsterdam you may have also come across this:

      3. I saw the big bike garages, but those were built in response to too much demand outside the station. No massive, expensive bike lockers like ST is building.

      4. The reason we have individual bike lockers is that Seattle’s bike infrastructure sucks. Here’s how that goes. Seattle’s bike infrastructure sucks, so a lot of the people that bike are really attached to cycling. People that are really attached to cycling often have expensive bikes that they’re also really attached to. So they demand very secure parking in response to theft.

        In Amsterdam the bike infrastructure is awesome, so a lot of people bike just because it’s practical. They ride pretty cheap bikes that they’ll leave out in the rain all the time, and when they get stolen they buy another one.

        The shared-access cages are like the next step down from this in concept. But your need to lock up properly is just as great as on the street, because $50 isn’t much to pay for access to steal a lot of bikes. Even if it’s badge-access and they have cameras and track badge usage there are… lots of options for a badge-holder to allow a friend in for a bike haul that allow for plausible deniability.

      5. Ryan. I would hardly call the ST facility enormous or expensive.

        Amsterdam Centraal has the big bike ramp outside that is free parking AND multiple secure facilities.

        Here is a map of all the secure bike parking areas around Amsterdam (mostly train stations) supplied by the city.

        https://www.amsterdam.nl/parkeren-verkeer/fiets/fietsparkeren/

        In addition to these facilities being much larger and more expensive (typically indoors not outdoors like the ST stations) they also have infrastructure telling riders where free spots to park bikes are available in each aisle, similar to what we are starting to see in the US for parking garages.

    1. Agreed.

      Anyway, it’s not like that money is going to go to Seattle anyway if parking isn’t part of ST3 out in the suburbs. And, for the millionth time, 2/3rds of ST’s funding comes from people outside Seattle. ST is running a commuter rail and bus service out here in the boonies of Bellevue and Everett… parking comes with that here, as well as in DC, NY, NJ, etc.

      That said, with many of the current P&R lots full, setting a parking fee that keeps the lots full but does recover some of the costs is a great idea. Charging more than that just encourages driving.

      -EastsideRider

      PS I walk to my bus, but most people don’t live close enough to a stop to do so out here in the uncivilized hinterlands… I suppose we could spend 10x more of Metro’s money in the suburbs to fix that, but that would have to come from Seattle’s service hours.

      1. Exactly, they should have demand pricing. It should be set just high enough that people have an incentive to walk or ride the bus the the transit center. Then the people who really need to drive will have free spots.

        With absolutely free parking, there will be a lot of people who live 5 minutes down the road parked at the P&R, and the people who commute further away will drive to the P&R, find it full, then drive all the way to Seattle.

        I see a lot of people saying “free parking bad,” but if you want to convince people in the suburbs to support paid parking the argument has to be made in terms of their own interests.

    2. I think charging for parking has two benefits. The first is the revenue source, which is important as we build out. The second is that it nudges people to walk/bike/bus to the station, freeing up a parking spot for someone else. So even though the lot is still full, there is a net increase in ridership.

      Personal case study: Where I currently live, I might be able to walk to the potential Lakemont station … but if there is a free parking garage, I’d totally just drive & park. But if it’s >$100/month to park, I’d walk to the station to save the money.

      What would be a bad idea is charging so much the lot won’t fill up – so prices will vary throughout the region.

    3. The problem is that park and ride lots don’t scale. Build them big enough to handle huge numbers of cars, and you end up with a huge traffic jam next to the train station. If the station is next to the freeway it just means you are trading one traffic problem for another.

      I think it makes more sense to have lots of small parking lots, along the bus routes instead of giant parking lots next to the station. A good example of this the 41. There is a big parking lot at Northgate. Folks getting to it slow down traffic, including the very bus some are trying to catch. On the other hand, there is a small parking lot around 25th and 125th. This lot is too small and too impractical for everyone in the area to use. But it makes sense if you are a few blocks away and don’t want to walk. If Link gets to NE 130th, that really is the type of park and ride (or just plain street parking) that makes sense. Most of the people who will ride the feeder bus will walk to the bus stop, but some will park and then ride the bus. This means that the feeder bus can run just about as often as the train, which gives the transit rider one less excuse to drive to the train station.

      1. On the other hand, arguably street parking serves that role. How many people street park to catch commuter buses? In some cases there are a lot of people, enough to create residential parking restrictions, but most of the time the number is few.

      2. Street parking is more feasable in some locations than others. In Seattle there are grid streets every block more or less with parking everywhere. Places near large institutions have residential parking zones or meters but other areas don’t. Rainier Valley and Beacon Hill have a lot of hide-n-ride commuters, extending at least a half mile around the stations. But in suburban areas the car-scaled infrastructure contradicts finding much street parking near stops, because the roads are larger , there are no parking spaces in the no-man’s-lands between things, and any residential areas are further a way and have few parking spaces within walking distance of the target stop.

      3. @calwatch — Yeah, I mentioned street parking as a possibility, but often neighbors object to that. As a result, some places are marked 4 hour parking (or permit). A small park and ride (often part of a church) is a good way to improve things. The other issues as Mike mentioned are a problem in some areas.

  3. To the drivers of the new trolleybuses:

    It is not necessary to belittle the riders who do not notice that they have to press on the rear doors to exit.

    You need not harangue the riders over the P.A. They cannot understand you anyway, since the speaker volume is too low, and you mumble, and you slur your pronunciation, and you keep droning on and on and on. Furthermore, the riders may not be native speakers of English.

    I realize that the yellow signs on the doors are quite obvious, and that people are oblivious to them because they are looking at their phones. But still, you are providing a public service. Just point out the service. Just point out how to open the door.

    Just say (enunciating clearly): “PUSH THE DOOR TO EXIT.”

    Or: “PUSH TO OPEN THE DOOR.”

    That is clear English. It is brief and to the point. It solves the problem. And it teaches the riders, so that next time they will know what to do.

    Thanks!

    And, to the elderly male rider who I observed yesterday evening boarding the crowded westbound 44 bus in the U District:

    The young female passenger stood up and kindly asked you if you’d like to have her seat. She even called you “sir.” She was impeccably polite and gracious, after what I assume was a long workday.

    You sat down. And then, how did you repay her kind gesture? You invited her to sit on your lap. And then you even laughed about it.

    I should have given you a piece of my mind and then smothered you with my newspaper. Lucky for you, I was seated too far away.

    1. Michelangelo, you really need to run this one past your King County Councilman. With a copy to ATU Local 587.

      Also, with any kind of SmartPhone, you could’ve made gotten more worldwide viral attention than Zika! Which, incidentally, should theoretically be able to “shame” people into being nicer, but in general only seems makes them outdo themselves to get more +’s.

      Very tempted to say that if vocal rudeness to a passenger isn’t gross misconduct, it ought to be. Reason I don’t is that I’m not sure present level of training would withstand a grievance. If you get to know a driver, which I’d encourage, ask them about their working conditions.

      Which have a very direct correlation with passenger treatment. Ask also if drivers get any training whatever, let alone practice with their microphone. Used correctly, it’s supposed to convey clear information in a voice with no strain in it whatsoever.

      I doubt Karaoke works very well for this. Though the places where it occurs often have same ridiculous general color scheme as for the seats on the new buses. Probably recycled carloads of leisure suits for the material. Paint scheme- now have to wait ’til next Easter is over to fix it.

      Final (thankfully) incident: Route 44. There was a time that this incident might have happened, with end result you suggest except for what was wrapped in the newspaper, in Ballard. Now, wors the perpetrator can expect is world-wide e-shaming, but also appreciation.

      Neither having any effect, because to this guy, YouTube is a tire he used to use in the ’50’s. TV comedian Arte Johnson had a dirty old man character who always got hit with a purse. But these links recall a period in transit history suppressed by the NRA.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gibson_Girl

      http://www.bartitsu.org/index.php/2010/07/the-sting-of-a-hornet-edwardian-hat-pin-self-defence/

      Much more effective in a standing passenger load than an M-16, no matter how lawfully open-carried. Bet the law is a lot more silent on this one than the guy who gets deservedly stabbed with one.

      For me? Considering the world my contemporaries and I have left to young people, I’ll lash myself to an aisle-post before I’ll let anybody under fifty give me their seat. But I always thank them, and pray to God that the lady in the incident will be the nurse who calls code on me.

      Mark Dublin

    2. I’ve often wondered how often Metro drivers are rude or indifferent. One time outbound on the 101, the signal bell rang as soon as the doors closed at Spokane Street. The driver made a sarcastic comment over the PA that I couldn’t hear clearly, but it was something about someone obstructing the wheelchair signal. Then the driver blew past the first stop after the freeway, a stop that has always been used every time I’ve ridden. He did stop at the next stop about a mile away, because people were getting on that stop. By South Renton Park & Ride, I moved to the front of the bus to get ready to verbally ask for my stop coming up, and here I saw a driver change. Also it was at that moment that a passenger finally noticed that her luggage cart was pressing the wheelchair signal. I wasn’t near the front before, so I don’t know if the driver at first politely informed the passenger about the misplaced cart, but shaming her over the PA and blowing past stops doesn’t seem like professional behavior. In the past on that route I’ve seen passengers use the bell cord as a handy place to hang their dry cleaning, so inconsiderate behavior goes both ways.

    3. It’s funny, I’ve often encountered Metro drivers who just don’t give a damn. They’re a minority, but they still far outnumber the Metro drivers who REALLY give a damn.

      Compare that to Vancouver. Yes, I know it’s Canada, but every driver was ridiculously nice. I may have just gotten lucky, but every single driver I encountered over the weekend was friendly and often went the extra mile to make someone smile or help them out. It was so wonderful. That kind of great service is an asset, and I’m sure TransLink knows it.

      1. It’s funny, I’ve often encountered Metro drivers who just don’t give a damn. They’re a minority, but they still far outnumber the Metro drivers who REALLY give a damn.

        Remember that even the best driver can have a bad day. Imagine your worst commute and then scale that by an order of magnitude. What yanks my stop cord is when a driver leaves a transfer point ahead of schedule (usually a substitute driver). This is particularly a problem at South Kirkland P&R because it’s terrible design and missing a connecting busn there can mean a 1/2 hr wait.

    4. There’s also the problem that drivers often don’t engage the passenger touch-to-open system until they are part way into the route. Recently I got on the 44 EB at 24th Ave NW and wanted to get off at 8th Ave NW. I had to yell “backdoor” because the driver had not engaged the system yet. Also, I’ve heard operators on the 44 several times now announce that they have engaged the touch-to-open system, usually while we’re heading EB up Phinney Ridge. Why isn’t is always engaged?

      1. I don’t know why this is but you’re describing one of the reasons I think a lot of regular riders like trains over buses: consistency. The train always does the same thing where a bus is subject to the whims of the current operator. I understand that drivers are human, too, and that the conditions in which a bus operates are wildly different from a train, but on-board operations should be as close to the same as possible. In a bus without the touch-to-open, the driver should always open the back door if the stop cord is pulled; with touch-to-open, be consistent and have the touch system ready to go versus “do I touch it or not or yell or walk to the front or oh geez screw it I’m riding to Blaine.” Don’t disable the automated announcements (and, worse, slur out one’s own without using the mic). Have the interior lights on.

        That sort of thing.

  4. I’m a bit suprised I haven’t yet seen an article analyzing the draft long-range plan route map that Metro seems to have released pretty recently.

    I mostly looked at the network in northwest Seattle since that’s where I live. There’s some interesting stuff in there.

    By 2025 Metro would like to make Routes 40 and 44 into RapidRide routes, extend the D Line to Northgate and extend Route 40 to Lake City. Everything else in the area looks the same.

    The more extensive changes show up on the 2040 network, after Link arrives in Ballard.

    The 28 is revised significantly (labeled “1512” on the map). It becomes an all-day frequent route, is extended north to 145th at which point it turns east and terminates at the 145th Link station. It also turns west at Market to meet up with the Link station in Ballard, crosses the Ballard Bridge, and does a tour of Magnolia on the way downtown.

    A new all-day non-frequent route (labeled “1006” on the map) starts in Loyal Heights, goes down 32nd Ave NW, turns east on Market Street to hit the Link station, then heads north on 15th Ave NW for a bit. It then goes east on NW 65th St until it hits Green Lake, and heads northeast from there before terminating at Northgate.

    The 15/17/18 peak express routes are also eliminated post-Ballard Link, Route 45 gets upgraded to RapidRide status, and the 5 is rerouted to go over the Fremont Bridge and serve Dexter south of the canal.

    The 1006 route is especially interesting to me. I’ve long wished for an east-west route on NW 65th Street to allow easier connections to other routes; the 44 and 45 run 1.5 miles apart between 32nd Ave and 5th Ave, and get even farther apart from there as Market jogs south. This leaves a wide swath of people who live out of reasonable (half-mile) walking distance from any east-west route. A new route on NW 65th should help bridge the gap there.

    At the same time this would restore all-day service to 32nd Ave NW. Its previous all-day service (a half-hourly shuttle terminating with a forced transfer to the D Line) didn’t perform well at all, but maybe a Link connection would work better. Seems worth a try. The route does have to be pretty circuitous to provide a Link connection. Extending Link up to Ballard High School could allow this new bus route to serve the length of NW 65th St, making it even more useful as a local connector.

    1. Actually, there’re a couple other changes to the 40 in 2025 that you’re missing. Since the D will pick up the Northgate Way service, the 40 would be rerouted down 85th (doubling up with the 45), turning north on Wallingford to 92nd, Northgate, and Lake City. I’m looking forward to that; service between Ballard and the heart of Greenwood is good!

    2. Metro will release more details on Monday, and Zach said above he’s meeting with the planners on Monday, so there will be an article after that. It also said somewhere the plan will be updated every six years.

      The RapidRide lines in Seattle are from Move Seattle which passed last November; Metro just incorporated them. The other routes are representative; not set in stone. They would still have to go through the public hearing process like the U-Link restructure did. So they’re a kind of pre-proposal, or the planning “state of the art” at this point.

      Regarding the D and the 40; it’s interesting that both go to Northgate. There has been perennial controversy ever since the D was created that the 40 should have been the RapidRide line, and that the RapidRide should have gone to Northgate (it would have if Metro had had enough money). These are being resolved by making them both RapidRide and sending them both to Northgate. There’s a similar controversy with the 120, that it should have been RapidRide instead of the C. Again both will be.

      The U-shaped routes are interesting; we’ll see how they do in practice.

      1. Yeah, I know nothing’s set in stone, it’s still interesting to see what the folks at Metro would like to see happen going forward.

      2. It’s not only interesting, it’s a vital piece that has been missing. If we had had a long-range plan in 1996 and 2008, we would have known how the bus routes would evolve with Link rather than not knowing until a year before a segment opens. Metro stopped doing long-range planning in 2000 when Initiative 695 savaged its funding, and it has only been able to do short-term planning ever since, and then there was a series of RapidRide restructures, Link restructures, cut restructures, and Prop 1 additions one after the other. It finally acquired enough resources the past couple years to write a long-range plan again, and it will be helpful in the North Link and Lynnwood Link restructures and ST3 planning. It also tells people where they can buy a house or condo with some reassurance of a frequent/full span of bus service in the future and where it will likely go, and how easy it will be to get to the stations.

    3. Oh wow, thanks for the tip. Interesting to see how my yet-unborn children might get to UW in 2040 from West Seattle. The march of feeder transfers to Link is coming for my neighborhood next (assuming ST3 passes…). Looks like 57, 56 and 55 (rush hour ‘expresses’ currently providing 25-35 minute single seat rides to downtown, or 85-95 minutes if the viaduct comes down) all get wiped from the map. Replacing the 57’s milk run through Charlestown Hill starting at the junction, the new local 3034 runs from above Admiral, down through Charlestown to Alaska Junction, where we’d all transfer to Link. So 5-15 min. on 3034, 7 min to get in station and catch a train, 11 min to downtown (according to central candidate projects list), makes 23-33 minutes to downtown. And most of us could get to the station by bike even faster than the connecting bus would do it. So this could be a really promising way to maintain viaduct-level transit service to WS.

    4. From looking at the map, I think one of Metro’s goals was to keep RapidRide/BRT on streets with the highest classification possible, and with the fewest deviations. The 1006 looks bizarre, but it allows the 1001 (E) to stay on Aurora, and the 1014 (45) to use Green Lake Drive instead of Wallingford/Woodlawn. In turn, that makes it possible to improve frequency on both buses.

      As far as I can tell, the only proposed RapidRide route with any significant length on a collector arterial is the 1202, which is basically the 62. There is an “obvious” fix (assuming no street design changes) that would preserve RapidRide service along 65th and Dexter (to Fremont):

      – Modify the 1014 to go to Sand Point instead of UW
      – Upgrade the 1005 to RapidRide (using 50th instead of 43rd)
      – Downgrade the 1202 from RapidRide to frequent, and send it to Northgate instead of Sand Point

      I’m not quite sure why Metro included the 1202 the way they did. (It’s even stranger when you look at the non-frequent 3008.) But either way, it’s notable precisely because it’s so different from all the other RapidRide routes. So even though it breaks the pattern, I think it tells us a lot about Metro’s high-level vision for the rapid and frequent networks in 2040.

    5. I hope Metro publishes route diagrams like in the bus schedules because it’s hard to get a handle on the routes when you can only click on one of them one at a time, and otherwise it’s a jumble of lines, and there’s no route list. That’s one reason why I haven’t commented about it much.

  5. I look forward to hearing about the ReachNow debut. I tried it out the other night, and it appears to also have way better software than Car2Go. And the cars are way, way nicer.

    In particular, I’m curious about how charging/refueling and cleaning happens, and the limit that Seattle places on the number of vehicles one company can have.

    Charging the i3 seems like a big logistical challenge – with a gas car, you can have someone drive it to the nearest gas station to fill up, drive it to the next car that’s low, switch, and repeat. Or have a truck drive around delivering gas. With an electric, the charging is slow and the nearest charger is far away, making such a scheme much harder.

    I’m frustrated with the limit on the number of vehicles – distributed car share fits well with transit advocacy, urbanism, and progressivism (and generates tax revenues for the city):

    1) Allowing multiple people to use a car in a day reduces the parking need per person transported – as any Jarrett Walker fan knows, public transit is about efficient land use, and parking is not efficient land use.

    2) It encourages transit use and living without a car. Have a day where most legs are great on transit, but one is late at night, between two places that aren’t served well, has a strict time limit, or requires carrying something bulky and heavy? Use transit for where it works, pick up a car for the leg that needs it. More fundamentally, there are always a few trips for which a car is better – having an affordable, accessible means of using a car for those trips makes not owning one a much more appealing proposition.

    3) Car ownership has high up front costs, requires good credit, and has high fixed costs. Lack of transport, as any STB fan knows, has serious consequences on the economic opportunities, health, etc. for those who can’t afford a car. Having access to a car without needing the full investment is a huge boon to those populations. It means somebody can rely on transit for the day-to-day, but use a car when needed to get to a Dr’s appointment, a job interview, the good grocery store outside of the food desert that they live in. All without needing a few thousand dollars in capital to buy a car, without the risk of being out a grand when something breaks, without the need for a driveway in which to park it.

    4) Increasing the number of vehicles increases the utility of the system, because it increases the odds that a car is near you at any given time, and so the odds that you’ll think of it as a useful solution, while providing economies of scale for the logistics of cleaning/fueling, etc. If the city is worried about negative externalities (though I’d argue the externalities are positive in a system where the default is private car ownership), they should price that into the tax on car sharing, rather than limiting the number of vehicles and hindering the system’s effectiveness.

    1. From the looks of it, an all-day rental costs about the same a Zipcar and Car2Go, but these can carry more than one passenger. I will give it a try, and if I like it, might consider canceling my Zipcar membership altogether.

    2. I’d love to see more coverage on Reachnow. I’m particularly concerned about the equity issues raised by the fact that coverage is not for all of the City but only north of S Lander St.

  6. I’m sad to hear it’s too late to stop the Bellevue tunnel. It would be better to just take that pile of cash and burn it. Full steam ahead!

    1. Half of it came from the city of Bellevue, and the other half came from at-grading part of the Spring District and Overlake.

    2. barman, this is what happens when people don’t read railroad sabotage history- which really used to be a serious felony, even if you were Kemper Freeman.

      It’s a waste of your already-oppressed fellow workers’ money just to pile it up and burn it! What you do is pack it real tight in a stove-pipe and…well, that’s real reason the authorities don’t allow wood stoves anymore, though ATF doesn’t want you to know.

      As for tunnels and “Full Steam Ahead”- engineers used to say “High Ball!” Though don’t think they do on Sounder, anymore than the brave man at the throttle of Old 1510 will ever give up his life to be on time. “LCC, I’ve had a red signal for 20 minutes” is more usual.

      Doubt that in 25 years of DSTT history, bus division has ever had a driver say anything but: “I can’t move the bus until you step back of the yellow line.”

      But: There’s a great movie called “A Mighty Wind”, featuring a folk ballad about a train wreck where a switchman accidentally sends a giant locomotive pulling a hundred passenger cars full-speed into a coal mine.

      LINK would probably do worse to the train driver than would’ve happened to the coal mine switchman. So your better bet is to somehow get the tunnel diverted right under Kemper’s office in Bellevue Square, and make him beg to get a station for his shoppers.

      Mark

    3. Because…Bellevue?

      Bellevue downtown is already choked with traffic. Having a train run at-grade would be ridiculous. I realize that no one reading Seattle Transit Blog really knows or cares much about the hinterlands, but there actually is more than just a mall and cornfields way the heck out here.

      Enjoy taking your train from the suburb of West Seattle to the suburb of Ballard in 2040.

      1. In case you haven’t noticed, the train doesn’t stop anywhere inside the tunnel. It is completely redundant. They could easily continue up 112th without ever needing to cross a downtown street.

      2. 112th is a downtown street. NE 8th St and 116 Ave NE is the busiest intersection in the region.

        I agree that the tunnel being on 110th makes no sense. There are two entrances to the tunnel, both of which are on 112th. But there’s no way you can have Bellevue downtown traffic bisected by a train. If you haven’t been over here lately you might want to take a look. It’s kind of a busy little city.

        Frankly, I think that the train should have run up Bellevue Way or next to I-405. If you’re already running it on 112th, why not on 114th, next to the highway? We already have overpasses. It’s not like two more blocks takes it that much further away from the population center. And the population center is quickly growing eastward.

      3. The train should have run up Bellevue Way, certainly not next to 405. A stop at Bellevue Way and Main Street would have built on existing pedestrian-friendly building patterns in that area, encouraging refinement of the existing area west of Bellevue Way and extensions along and east of it. Closer to the freeway there’s less to build on and more in the way.

        There’s a difference between spending millions on transit and spending billions. When spending billions you’re doing it to shape the future of your city, and anything less is a disappointment. So we shouldn’t build stations right next to freeways, where we have less potential to transform the city into something really great, and harder battles just to get something decent.

      4. “There are two entrances to the tunnel, both of which are on 112th.”

        No, one tunnel portal is just to the east of 110th NE.

      5. From http://www.soundtransit.org/Projects-and-Plans/East-Link-Extension/Stations/Bellevue-Downtown-Station, “The station includes entrances on the east side of 110th Avenue NE and the west side of 112th Avenue NE.” I’ve paid close attention and seen the drawings–the station is far more oriented toward 112th Ave than it is 110th Ave. You can argue that it’s on 110th. I’ll call BS.

        And Al, I don’t disagree. The train should have run down Bellevue Way. On the west side, actually, separating downtown from pure residential. It could have run right through the mall for a real Bellevue Experience–kind of like the monorail running into Pacific Place. But Sound Transit couldn’t stand up to business interests. And so they pushed it eastward and eastward and ended up running on the edge of a neighborhood that’s got a highway corridor just a couple blocks away. That’s not just one tragedy. It’s a comedy of tragedies.

      6. The tunnel would have made more sense if it had had a station in it, on 110th, closer to the bus bays.

    4. Kevin Wallace self funded a fairly detailed concept design that would have run the line elevated down 112th. Virtually everyone on STB scoffed at the idea. Instead we end up with an expensive tunnel that actually degrades service because of it’s three minimum radius turns and a station that resembles the flight deck of an aircraft carrier positioned to attack Microsoft. Or maybe the steam catapult will be used for PRT :=

      1. There were a number of good ideas. Even Wallace’s idea was better than what we ended up with.

        Sounds Transit is a textbook example of bad governance. They are ruled by two principles: Serve entrenched interests are weaken every decision with compromises.

        I only hope that the Kirkland to Issaquah line can one day benefit from the crappy tunnel alignment we got with East Link.

      2. Wallace’s idea didn’t even get much love from the City Council. It is certainly better operationally than the “final design” and hundreds of millions of dollars cheaper. The wasted money on the worse than useless tunnel would be better spent on the extension of the line to Redmond. I wonder what the cost saving would be if that were done and the MF could be located NW of Marymoor instead of in Bel-Red?

      3. The Vision Line was on 405. Because guess whose properties are on 116th.

        The poblem with the Bellevue TC station is not its space-age design or the expensive tunnel with tight corners, it’s the fact that it’s excessively far from the bus bays and down a hill from them, which will make transfers inconvenient for everybody and especially the disabled. The objection to the Vision Line was that it would have completely no walkshed on one side, and being next to an open freeway is the height of unpleasantness. The current location suffers from a bit of that but not as much. Again, half the cost of the tunnel came from your city of Bellevue taxes, and the other half came from at-grading the Spring District and Overlake. So if you have any objections about the tunnel’s cost, that’s what they should be focused on, and how badly those segments hinder mobility. I asked ST about that directly at an open house, saying I was concerned about traffic crossings in Bel-Red. The ST rep said it’s a low-volume street so it wouldn’t be much of a hinderance.

      4. Again, half the cost of the tunnel came from your city of Bellevue taxes

        Show me the check from Bellevue. It’s a nice fairy tale but it’s all bookkeeping shenanigans. an ST rep told you the at grade crossings had low traffic? OK, NE 20th at 140th is low traffic… compared to say Aurora Ave. Mike, you are perhaps the only person left in this world that takes ST statements at face value.

      5. I can’t show you a check from Bellevue but I’ll wager that this city pays more than its share in local services and infrastructure. So I’ll take Mike at face value here.

  7. I don’t know the area around the upcoming Angle Lake Link station well. What’s there that makes placing a station important? (I’m asking strictly out of curiosity.)

    1. It’s near a federal prison, sports bar, and a few motels and office buildings…all surrounded by huge parking lots. Oh, and there are a few standalone parking lots for the airport.

    2. And the lake with a park eight blocks away. But it’s main purposes are (1) a P&R, (2) a P&R that can be used until the southern extension is finished, (3) a P&R to supplement Tukwila Intl Blvd P&R which may be full, and (4) to have a station between 176th and 240th. So spam, spam, spam, station.

      1. (4) to have a station between 176th and 240th

        A note to follow so.

        Seriously though, it is a good station, assuming you want to keep running this thing south. There is somewhat decent density there (similar to West Seattle) but it is mostly about the cross street — 200th. It makes sense to have stations at the cross streets (200th, 216th, etc.).

    3. Because on the way to nowhere, why not stop at nowhere? If they zone it right, it could become a hotel hub, base on proximity to Seatac and the light rail connection to downtown, but TIBS and the seatac station itself are better candidates for that, so…. yeah.

      1. Mike, I can’t tell if that was sarcastic or not. Do you really expect a student to get off Link at S 200th and walk the 2.5 miles to HCC?

      2. No, but I expect a student to get on at Rainier Beach or TIB and get off at Highline CC if it has a favorable class, teacher, scholarship, or special event.

    4. The Des Moines Creek Trail actually comes out about 1/4 mile west of Angle Lake Station. Unfortunately, Google Street View shows no sidewalk on SE 200th St. connecting the trail to the station. If it were added, one would be able to bike to the station all the way from downtown Des Moines, without needing to deal with cars and traffic. Does anybody know if ST is willing to pony up at least a tiny percentage on what they are spending to build the parking garage to build a few hundred feet of sidewalk?

  8. If a Link operator or bus driver had an emotional support dog, with a doctor’s prescription for one and everything, how could ST or Metro legally prevent the driver from bringing his dog with him to work? I see narcissistic a-holes with their fake emotional support dogs bringing their mutts onto planes, into grocery stores, restaurants and malls, into the office, etc. It’s the law, after all, that they are allowed to. But I’ve never seen a bus driver with a dog with him. Could a transit agency legally prevent an driver from bringing his “emotional support dog” with him during his workday?

    1. Why don’t you become a bus driver and bring a dog and see what happens, and you can write about it afterward.

    2. Sam, I think that in all seriousness, Metro wouldn’t allow an animal to spend an eight hour shift in a space where its safety can’t be guaranteed, and where it’s subject to discomfort and abuse for which it gets neither pay nor health coverage. Latest research is that flea collars don’t work on ones from humans.

      No young passenger will kiss the driver on top of the head and warn people to please not step on the sweet creature’s tail. Because The Book states clearly that it’s the driver’s responsibility to either keep it out of the aisle or tell the vet he wants the “Doberman” look.

      It’s also de Facto an unfair labor practice, since no matter how blatant the contract violation, paw and nose prints are not valid signatures on agency documents like grievances. Sad, soulful not generally effective in arbitration.

      So get used to it, Sam. You can wear that dog-suit all you want, but either you pay your fare or your owner will have to put you under the seat!

      Mark

  9. Night owl service needs to be much more frequent. Other cities have night owl service that maintains headways of 30 minutes (or less in some cases) in both directions throughout the night. If people in Seattle could depend on that kind of service a lot more would choose to use it.

    1. It does, but I’m not sure that we can afford it. I believe labor cost is more expensive between midnight and 5 AM, as most bus drivers would prefer to be home in bed at that time.

      A good place to start would be by eliminating the special-night owl routes, in favor of adding late-night trips to the schedule of routes that also run all day. For example, eliminate the 83, in favor of more late-night trips on the 49 (*). While this swap might lead to a slight loss of coverage (e.g. Ravenna and Eastlake in my above example), I think it is still worth it. With special routes that operate only late at night, people will forget that the route exists the one time they need it. Until recently, Metro didn’t even bother to keep the bus stop signs accurate with regards to the night-owl routes. Even now, I still don’t completely trust them. On the other hand, with an all-day route also running all night, anybody who regularly rides the bus during the day will know exactly where to get on and off the bus.

      (*) One might ask – why the 49, and not the 70. The reason is that Capitol Hill has much more nightlife than Eastlake, and at 2 in the morning, even going all the way from downtown to the U-district on the 49 isn’t going to take that long. Also, if the route 83 trips were able to combine with the existing late-night route 49 trips, that would be enough service to provide least hourly frequency 24/7.

    2. Although, the recent trends for night-owl service are definitely moving in the right direction. If you look at the level of service between 10 PM and 1 AM today vs. 5-10 years ago, there is no comparison. 10 years ago, almost nothing ran better than hourly after 10 PM, and 5 years ago, almost nothing ran better than hourly after midnight (if service existed at all).

      1. I received the survey on the night owl service and obviously it was not proof read before it was sent out.

        The survey lists many of the Metro routes and asks if these routes had night owl service would you use the service. The funny thing was that it listed several routes among them the # 66 and # 72 which were deleted on the last service change.

        Another example of Metro at its finest.

      2. Yeah, and I believe that same question asks you to select from a drop down. I can’t remember if it’s possible to select multiple, but it certainly isn’t convenient (or possible on mobile); a grid would have been much better.

  10. Sorry, I’m just a bit bitter that Sound Transit ultimately caved to business interests and moved the train from the east side of 112th to the west side of 112th. The decision was made because it was easier to tear down houses then it was to fight monied interests like the Bellevue Club. Yes, there were a bunch of condominium owners who wanted to dump their aging condos, which gave Sound Transit token homeowner support, but I firmly believe the real reason is that homeowners don’t have as much political clout as businesses.

    Here’s some background information: http://www.bellevuereporter.com/news/98635364.html#

    Just in case you think I’m bloviating, ask yourself why East Link isn’t running down Bellevue Way. I believe it’s simple: Sound Transit capitulated to business interests. Kemper Freeman didn’t want a train anywhere near his mall, so Sound Transit put it through peoples’ homes.

    I’m glad to be getting a train and yeah, greater good and all that. But I wish Sound Transit had a spine.

    1. Does ST have a mandate to? Would the east side of 112th yield superior transit results? Note that both South Bellevue station and Bellevue TC station are west of 112th, so there’s no transit reason to go east. Moneyed interests have a greater ability to pursue lawsuits against ST; that’s why ST defers to them. Who do you think would pay to defend these lawsuits? The East Link budget and your ST taxes, that’s who. So ST can be seen as safeguarding taxpayer funds by minimizing the risk of lawsuits. Kemper did sue ST to try to kill East Link completely, saying that the center lanes on I-90 were paid by gas tax funds which can’t be used for rail. A judge dismissed it, but that and the Surrey Downs controversies delayed East Link by two years. I would have preferred Link on Bellevue Way with a station near Bellevue Square, but I’d rather have some Link wherever it is.

      1. No, Sound Transit has no mandate to do anything. They just need to compromise until everyone is equally disappointed.

        And don’t pretend that tearing down an elderly couples house is protecting them because it saves the cost of lawsuit. That’s ridiculous. Think if all the money the US government wasted fighting Big Tobacco! A government’s job is to protect it’s people.

        I’m saying that people have emotional attachments to their homes that businesses do not. Some of these people lived there 40+ years and expected to die in their homes.

        In contrast, the Bellevue Club would have sued and gotten money.

        I’m not arguing that we should stop East Link. I’m arguing that the government should protect people, not corporations. Sound Transit is bad government.

      2. “And don’t pretend that tearing down an elderly couples house is protecting them because it saves the cost of lawsuit.”

        It’s not protecting them, it’s protecting all the East King taxpayers.

        “Think if all the money the US government wasted fighting Big Tobacco! A government’s job is to protect it’s people.”

        That may be a city’s job or county’s job but it’s not a transit agency’s job. Cities and counties have attorneys general whose jobs it is to defend the laws and the interests of the citizens as prioritized by the council. A transit agency just has enough money for their immediate project.

        We can’t put the interests of ten houses above tens of thousands of travelers and the need for infrastructure that competes with driving. Even the club have more members than live in these houses, so that may be part of it. They got 40 years of living in those houses, and they need to understand it’s not the same city as it was in the 50s. The population has increased enormously and rents are increasing due to lack of housing. The neighborhood is so close to downtown it should have been upzoned, because it’s not fair that one neighborhood of large houses should be within walking distance of downtown when tens of thousands of people can’t be. So it’s a significant concession to leave the neighborhood intact, and that can’t extend to every last house.

      3. And this is where we disagree, Mike. I believe in government–including a regional transit agency–prioritizing people’s interests over business interests. You’re welcome to believe that we should protect the Bellevue Club’s tennis courts over some elderly couple’s home.

  11. Apologies if there’s an easily-found answer to this question that I’m not-so-easily finding but… why isn’t Link automated?

    I ask for two reasons:

    1) I have recently learned that the entire TransLink system up in Vancouver is automated. Granted, they were designed that way from the beginning, but still, it’s an example of a complex mass transit system that manages to pull it off.

    2) Whatever the cost of converting Link trains to fully automated is, the savings of not having to pay drivers will more than make up for it in the long run.

    (Note: I do admit to feeling conflicted about the suggestion. They’re well-paying jobs for Puget Sounders, and probably difficult to replace. But at the same time, I can’t help but feel the money would be better used speeding up/improving capital projects.)

    1. You can’t automate systems which are not fully grade separated. Or at least you shouldn’t.

      1. If we can automate cars driving on city streets, we can certainly automate trains on a fixed guideway, with a few at-grade intersections here and there. Even if the technology wasn’t there at the time that the train was built, it can certainly be retrofitted in after the fact. Assuming, of course, that the drivers’ union doesn’t strike over it.

        Besides avoiding the need to pay drivers, it also increases capacity on each train, by replacing the driver’s cab with additional passenger space.

      2. @asdf2 Yeah, that was my thought, too. My back-of-the-napkin math* seems to indicate that it’s a net win from an economics/efficiency stand point. Detailed analysis might prove that wrong – it might really be just as costly to operate the automation system – but I would be legitimately surprised.

        (*note: no actual math done)

    2. It actually costs a lot to keep the automation institution going. There’s a lot of staffing behind the scenes at SkyTrain. That’s why Expo and Millennium lines don’t start operating on Sundays and holidays until 7 in the morning.

      1. You mean for maintenance? FWIW, the Toronto subway doesn’t open until 9 am on Sundays so they get 3 extra hours of maintenance. It also has a night bus substituting so it’s not a big deal.

      2. If it were maintenance, I wouldn’t expect the Canada line to open at 4:30 on Sunday mornings.

        As best as I can tell, its a phenomena a bit like the DSTT: not enough ridership at those times to justify the expense of operating those two lines earlier.

      3. Although automated, Skytrain certainly still has a large number of staff. But it does keep the cost of very high frequency service down. For Skytrain, it doesn’t really matter whether it runs three cars every three minutes or six cars every six minutes, but there is a clear winner for passengers. And the automation not only saves money on high frequency, but makes it work better two. If someone props the doors for an extra 15 seconds at a stop, the computer can hustle it forward to catch up and then accurately hustle forward any following trains that were delayed. The system gets back on time in a few minutes. Another advantage of high frequency is the ability to use shorter trains for the same capacity. Skytrain stations are considerably shorter than Link stations. The Capitol Hill station box is 166m long while the Olympic Village Canada Line station box is 67m long. A big cost savings for underground construction.

      4. Glenn, it’s not really a direct comparison. The Canada Line is operated by a different entity (Protrans BC, a PPP) than the first two Skytrain lines (BCRTC) and uses different technology (conventional vs Bombardier’s linear induction motors) and infrastructure is built to different specs.

      5. It’s hard to know how much savings Link would have if automated. With allthesecurity guards in the tunnel they are already partly there.

        Usually Skytrain has guards at its turnstiles. So, just based on rhat, you exchange what? Maybe 20 or so drivers with 20 or so turn style guards?

        As you say, even in the same city the economics can be different depending on how the operation is set up. It can certainly work, but it isn’t necessarily vastly cheaper than it looks on the surface.

    3. It is worth mentioning that SkyTrain was designed for this from the beginning, whereas our system was not. I’m not just talking about the risk due to lack of grade separation (which, as mentioned, can be overcome now) but the headways. SkyTrain was designed for very frequent service. Ours is the opposite. We are limited to 6 minute frequency in Rainier Valley. The result being that not paying for drivers wouldn’t save us much money, at least for a while (e.. g. 3 minute frequency from Northgate to SoDo would be nice).

      1. Absolutely, automation is the way to go if possible if going with extremely frequent trains.

        However, the economics don’t necessarily work late at night, when trains won’t be operating as full, or far less frequent. CTA overnight subway services are only every 20 minutes.

    4. Skytrain may not have operators, but there are security/station agents at all stations to respond to emergencies. I found this out one day when I had to push the emergency stop cord for a problem on my car. Doing that shuts down the entire line until it’s resolved, so there have to be people on the spot to handle the problem and restart the line. Does that cost less than a corps of operators? You betcha.

      OTOH in this country we have too many people and not enough jobs. This will only get worse over time. Meanwhile, we insist people work for a living. Two great tastes that do not taste great together. So, come on, man, let s operators have a little dignity for a little while longer, OK?

      1. I promise I’m not insensitive to the fact that these are jobs. Heck, it’s why I mentioned it. If we were taxing the rich like we should, I’d say fuck the money. But it’s also important to note money isn’t the only advantage the machines have. They offer the possibility to improve the level of service. If the Link operators ever actually talked to people on the train, their humanness might matter and could be an advantage, experience wise, but from the vantage point of the car, it really doesn’t matter who’s driving the thing. In which case, the guy with the metal head doesn’t need rest, doesn’t need bathroom breaks, and so can let you run trains a lot more often.

        Those benefits might not outweigh the need to pay people a decent wage, I suppose. But I think it’s worth the conversation.

  12. >>I have recently learned that the entire TransLink system up in Vancouver is automated.<<

    You "recently learned" this? Have you been hiding under a rock the last 30 years?

  13. @Oran

    >>You mean for maintenance? FWIW, the Toronto subway doesn’t open until 9 am on Sundays<<

    It opens at 8am Sundays now.

  14. Seattle City Councilmember Rob Johnson, who sits on the Sound Transit board and wrote a masters thesis on parking policy.

    Anybody know where a copy of his thesis might be available?

    As for charging I’d like to see a policy statement from the ST board that says no fare increase will be implemented until an equitable balance between fare recovery and parking costs is achieved. Write that into ST3 and you might get my vote.

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