96 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: U Link 360”

    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Silverado_Squatters

      Sam, San Francisco has been pretty much like this for at least 200 years. By 1879, when Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote “Treasure Island” saw the place, it was a flammable stack of ramshackle houses perched on a rock in the middle of the ocean. Surrounded by hills where poison oak is a natural cover.

      And Force Demolish-the-Whole-City earthquakes inevitable. Exactly like the one in 1906 that not only collapsed the whole woodpile, but set it on fire. Even before the fire department- having a lot of practice- got everything put out, the real estate industry and thousands of new people, and survivors were desperately scrambling to get back in there.

      On legitimate grounds that now there definitely wouldn’t be another one for awhile. Now, while nobody’s mentioned it in BART discussions lately, probably main reason people built and put up with it even though it’s falling apart is that it lets people live where they can afford the rent, and still enjoy, and really live in…guess where?

      That’s right, the place where it’s still wretchedly crowded while being priced so that by the rules of capitalism and sanity, nobody should want to live there. So quit fretting, Sam. There’s a BART station right at Oakland Airport, so not only do you not have to even see San Francisco, but in an hour you can be talking to a real estate agent where all they have is quakes, brush fires, and poison oak.

      But better close the deal quick. Because the end of the line to get into San Francisco is halfway into Nevada. Now let’s comment about how fast Medic One can get into UW Station to save someone from the vertigo results of his own video before UW Link has its first medical related delay. Coffee time.


  1. Very Pretty.
    The tape runs 15 minutes to go from station entrance to station exit, minus a couple of crowd pleasing count downs, to go the 2 mile distance – or about 10 mph.
    The 43 does the same trip weekdays in (drum roll please)… 12-15 minutes – or about 10 mph.
    Very Pretty, and all the escalator rides are free.

    1. What wouldn’t be pretty is getting those thousands of riders travelling between UW Station and Capitol Hill Station every day onto the 43.

      I have to give credit to Metro for turning a lot of 44 deadhead into 43 revenue trips, and for keeping half-hourly night owl service going each way on the 43 until 2 am. Hopefully, all-night night owl service will follow on the 43 and 49 between UW and Capitol Hill after people fill out the night owl service survey currently going on. If there is unmet demand for night owl service anywhere, it is here.

      1. Brent, and Zach, and Martin: Return to the wire of the 43 looks to me to be a lot more political than financial.

        By all the rules: long-standing sole direct connection between major destinations, excellent “Bus Bridge”, wire already overhead, easily-connectable to 48 wire both directions- shouldn’t take too much of a “push” to bring it back.

        Which politicians do we lean on and how hard?


      2. Sorry, Mark. I’m not really in favor of further investment in route 43 outside of peak, using deadhead trips, and forming an overnight at-least-half-hourly Link bus bridge. I would rather see more investment in an east-west route between Madison Park and Capitol Hill Station via the 43’s path, with 10-minute all-day headway and 6-minute headway during peak. I want a gridded network that can get me all over town.

      3. My wishlist for Metro’s owl service revision, in rough priority order:

        1. Owl service on the 67 (to serve Northgate) and the 75 (to serve Lake City).
        2. Half-hourly service on the 49. This change would save lives.
        4. Owl service on the 3S, 11, 13N, 62, 67, and 70, in lieu of the 82/83/84.
        3. Half-hourly service on the D, E, and 11.
        5. Half-hourly service on the whole owl network.
        6. Owl service on the 48, 45, and 44.

        I think that would put almost everyone in Seattle within a mile of a not-ridiculous owl route, which would be amazing.

    2. Please. I take Link daily. It takes 4 minutes on the train + 1 minute in/out of station for a total of 6 minutes UW to Capitol Hill. The 43 takes 25 minutes if traffic is mild.

      1. Ya, that comment that the 43 is just as fast as Link was pure hogwash – hardly worth the electrons it takes to respond to such none sense.

      2. Yes, pure hogwash, as Anton paraglides down the escalator shafts, shaving 2 minutes off the film time, then sliding into the first Link car daily, just under the tag of doors closing, only to fly up the next escalators two steps at a time, for his 6 minute daily trip.

      3. The 43 involved wait time too, and more so than Link. In theory, it had 15 minute headways, but in practice, buses often got badly bunched. The fact that Link is able to achieve a reliable schedule with 10-minute headways is a huge improvement.

    3. Oh please. This video is this long because it’s a special event with special festivities, and leisurely walking pace and standing still on escalators. Even in this video, there is 2:25 to get entrance to platform at UW *WITHOUT* walking down the escalator, then 3:18 to get all the way from the far side of the platform at Capitol Hill to the longest route out, again with leisurely walking pace and standing still on escalators. With a sub-4 minute train ride that’s under 10 minutes (not counting any train wait time) entrance-to-exit. In a real life situation you’d walk faster and could get up/down escalators (or take the elevator) much quicker, and you wouldn’t have to go the long way out at CHS.

      1. I’m guessing you also cut out at least half an hour of speeches by various people.

      2. Sure, but — while this might not be obvious to someone in Portland, where they’ve opened so many train lines, whether they’re useful or not, that it seems blasé — they actually keep Mayor Murray and other elected officials on hand to give a speech before every run of the train. That’s a big part of the story behind the limited operating hours: the officials have to get to bed!

  2. For opening day, I guess I’m a bit surprised at how few people were actually on the train and in the stations. Then again, I suppose they had to limit the number of people going into the station due to the constraints of space under ground.

    I’m also impressed at how quiet these trains are in the tunnel. You guys can actually have a conversation in your tunnel.

    1. The video was from the Golden Ticket Ride. If you didn’t win a ticket, you didn’t get to enter the station until later.

      1. TriMet’s first orange line train on opening day had dignitaries and officials and all that too. Samba band too. They made sure every square inch had a passenger.

        At the very least I would have expected a huge line in the plaza on the surface waiting for the first regular service train.

      2. There was a huge line, at the other entrance. A series of bands played at each station. Dignitaries got a preview ride, as well as the opportunity to win a Golden Ticket. The ridership that day nearly broke the record from the Super Bowl Parade.

        Oh, and that Super Bowl Parade was a few orders of magnitude larger than the little party the Timbers got.

      3. I’ve seen photos if the Superbowl Crowds. They certainly did not have the empty spaces shown on this video. Not the same type of thing as a new transit line opening.

        Makes sense that they had exiting and entering areas. That explains why the upper plaza seemed relatively light in the video.

        Not sure what the Orange line opening numbers were officially, but Westside opening got 200,000, and I know for certain that they missed a huge number of passengers at several stations. Crowds seemed similar to that during the Orange opening, but there are fewer stations too.

      4. They have one that covers non-auto transportation. The participants here are vastly better at the nuts and bolts understanding how transit systems need to work. Seattle also has much more interesting things going on in it, and vastly more potential for some really good results.

        I started writing letters to TriMet, to the editor of the newspaper, or anyone else in 1985 or so. I sat through two years worth of Westside MAX citizen advisory committee meetings.

        Eventually I realized nobody with any actual authority, or with the possibility to mold public opinion, is actually interested in doing things any better than they are now.

        The Seattle process may be cumbersome and time consuming, but at least it seems to actually try to solve issues.

      5. I was (literally) the first passenger on the first southbound “revenue” (non-Golden Ticket) train southbound from UW, and rode it out to the airport. I walked down the the lead car, where there were 5 of us total when the train left due to the trains running on a schedule–when departure time came, the train left; it didn’t wait to fill. Later in the day the trains were certainly packed, but that one was more than a little surreal!

        (Noted time points at all stations, and it was exactly a 45 minute run to the airport.)

    2. One thing you want to think about, Glenn, is how far UW station is from anything. Except in this case, a completely empty stadium, which actually does create the overwhelming public art sculpture that marks where the station is at all. We can tell people that it’s an easily affordable gift from the UW athletic department.

      No fair comparing it to the Tillicum Bridge, that already has huge college-related activity, a streetcar loop, a food court, multiple transit routes and an awesome aerial tramway from a large hospital. Which Swedish Hospital really deserves down to Pioneer Square DSTT station in compensation for loss of First Hill Station.

      Also, fact that for anything new in public transit, it can take a year or two before anybody even knows it’s there. Anyhow, problem seems to have fixed itself. Imagine next station opening will shut down two major arterials for a week.

      OK, now: from Portland’s experience with the tramway- what’s your assessment for First-Hill/Pioneer Square replica? Looks to be about same stats- length, grade, passenger load. What do you think?


      1. We’ve got a turkey farm within walking distance of the Park Avenue MAX station. When you think about it, I suppose that’s an appropriate place for several hundred visiting dignitaries to visit in the first MAX train on the line on opening day.

        If it’s so in the middle of nowhere, what sort of farm animals are at Husky Stadium Station? When I visited the place not too long ago, I didn’t even see any urban chickens running around.

        I haven’t ridden the Capitol Hill Streetcar yet. The cars seem quiet enough on the outside, compared to the rattling and banging made by the Skoda cars.

      2. There is a little farm over on the east edge of campus between some intramural fields and the Center for Urban Horticulture. It’s no Morrow Plots, but it’s something.

      3. Thanks for visioning this obvious high-demand and relatively low-cost need.

        I keep dreaming of a Jefferson Street cable-pulled aerial track funicular, with the guiding tracks highlighted with a bright color (Lavender Lift? Lime Lift?) connecting Pioneer Square to Harborview. Since it’s going to a county/regional medical center, I would even argue that North King shouldn’t pay for it all by themselves. The bicyclists could also love it, because it would provide a connection between the Second Avenue and Broadway bicycle tracks. It would even be a minor tourist attraction, like the monorail.

        With my continued nudging, maybe one day more than just me will advocate for this.

      4. Ok. I misinterpreted what was being replicated. By tramway I thought Mark was using the European terminology for the streetcar.

        I would think such a thing would work well. You might be able to do it cheaper than Portland by not having the single huge tower.

        It would be nice if the staffing could be made lower. I think they have about four people running it, including one on board and one at each end shuffling people around to wait in the proper place.

        Which street would you run it above? Are there any residential units that would complain about losing privacy? That people in the tram could see into certain houses back yards was a significant source of neighborhood unrest.

        When they did the big braiding effort on the cable loop, I think they had to close I-5 for a time. That could be fun. I’m pretty sure they closed the street under the cable for periods as well.

        They needed to build a separate tower at the hospital end due to worries from the neurosurgery people that vibrations would cause issues. It would have been cheaper to use one of the hospital buildings. Is there a parking structure or some other thing they could use as a top tower that wouldn’t cause doctor angst?

      5. The UW station screams for traveler amenities such as a snack/coffee bar, a fast-service but not necessarily fast-food restaurant, a newsstand, and last but not least, toilets. Ant major transit facilities should have those.

      6. Yes. Almost all the ferry terminals have those.

        Add some Huskies memorabilia and they’d probably do pretty good.

  3. Ballard to Seattle Light Rail.

    Automated driverless system.
    Fully grade separated.
    Elevated station at 15th and market.
    60ft drawbridge crossing portage bay.
    Elevated interbay section
    Dravus station
    Magnolia station
    Tunnel to seattle center
    Lower queen anne station
    Transition from under ground to elevated at seattle center
    Seattle center station (at existing monorail station)
    Replace monorail with this new elevated light rail line.
    Elevated bell town/uptown station
    Elevated end station at westlake.
    Multiple express transfer elevators from elevated westlake station to existing westlake transit tunnel station.

    What do you thInk?
    Way less $ and time to construct than a new tunnel though downtown. Do we really need a 2nd transit tunnel? Driverless system saves on operating costs and allows super low headways for two car trains (smaller stations).


    1. fil,

      1. Fully-reserved right-of-way, automated, and drawbridge don’t belong in same list. Tunnel does, because on major line, delays really cost, and drawbridges get stuck.

      2. Automated means no surface running at all. And absolutely no way to move equipment between lines, as is often necessary. Same with maintenance shops.

      3. Not decades old monorail structure will even hold new steel-wheeled line. If not, digging up the old pillars could take dynamite.

      The Monorail has always been a perfect elevator between essentially two buildings and their grounds in the same neighborhood.

      But the extremely heavy through traffic between Ballard and West Seattle is what makes another tunnel necessary. Ask Water Quality how this design would handle sewer-line of same importance.

      Mark Dublin

      If line terminates at Westlake Center, “tail track”- track past the station for storage and recovery impossible. And real question whether Center has capacity for this terminal. Elevator certainly doesn’t.

    2. I think the key question here is the need for a second downtown tunnel. I am very dubious of Sound Transit’s claims that one is needed on capacity grounds. It does seem possible that connecting a Ballard line to the existing tunnel, even on a non-revenue basis, is insurmountably difficult, and that this would make operating the Ballard line a lot more expensive. I would like someone to tell me where we are going to see 24,000 passengers per hour (station pair and direction), or actually make the lifecycle cost argument against a totally independent Ballard line. Right now the tunnel seems like a gold plating.

      1. William I agree. That’s why I propose to use the existing monorail right of way (with a new elevated line) and terminate at westlake with easy transfers to westlake link.

        STs current package is too big and takes to long to construct. Voters will not approve it.

        I want to ride a ballard line in 2016 not 2025.

      2. It’s a conceptually valid strategy to me, fil. People do get emotional about the monorail but the pillars and vehicles will be 75 years old when the Northwest line opens in 2038. Replacement is inevitable.

        I think there would need to be a way to relocate the monorail rather than closing it. Once relocated, the pillars can be easily replaced. An alternative corridor would be needed for nostalgic and political reasons.

        I’m not sure of the best way to portal the rail South of Pine Street, as the blocks are too short to switch grades without closing a few cross streets. Placing the portal north of Pine Street would require a pretty deep tunnel to get under the other Link line. Thus, the viability is really in these and other details. Still, an aerial option could easily emerge in the EIS.

      3. Al S.

        To be clear, this proposed line would permanently terminate at west lake. There would be no portal downtown.

      4. The question I have, is if Amazon and Expedia aren’t going to fight to the death for the Ballard to downtown line opening sooner, why not just build the Ballard to UW line and dump or push back the Ballard to downtown line.

      5. Because Amazon and Expedia were never the motivation tor the Ballard-downtown line. It’s there because McGinn wanted it, and Murray and the current council seem to agree because they haven’t questioned it, and ST listens to city governments more than anyone else. It fulfills a long-ago promise about a Ballard to West Seattle monorail. Some Ballardites think they want to go downtown because of tradition, and others really do want to go downtown because that’s where the most transfers are.

        As for recommending the Ballard-UW line and pushing back on the Ballard-downtown line, “we” can do that, but we can’t make other people do it if they don’t want to, and it looks like the city doesn’t want to.

      6. Can light rail trains fit through the hole in the EMP? The EMP opposed routing the monorail away from the hole because then it would have an empty hole.

      7. Surely they can put modern art in that hole? The EMP is a goofy building anyways, having a giant hole in it just adds to the experience.

      8. William, consider this math:

        There are 46 Community Transit buses, 23 Sound Transit buses, and 69 Metro buses that come downtown via I-5 from north of the Ship Canal during the peak-of-peak hour every non-holiday weekday morning. If we estimate conservatively having 50 riders on each bus during that time, that would come to ca. 7000 passengers being brought in to downtown by that fleet during that one hour each morning. Capacity from that direction is 12000 per hour. A chunk of the remaining 5000 is already used up by riders coming in from the two new stations. Add in population growth, and additional commuters being induced out of their cars by the luxury of the train (albeit standing all the way for those getting on after Northgate), and I don’t foresee any room left for trains from Ballard.

      9. Where are you getting 12000 from? Four car trains times 200 per car times 30 trains per hour is 24000 passengers an hour per direction through the tunnel.

        Furthermore how many of those people get off at or before Westlake?

    3. fil, I endorse this line. It isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty good, and it can get built fast. If a new tunnel’s needed in the long-term, we can build it south (or east) from the Seattle Center while this line’s already running.

      1. ST choose early on to trade CPS for CHS stations (net sum zero), and add another at Husky Stadium. Further, design headways were reduced from 2 min to 4 min. , cutting design capacity in half.
        Now we need another tunnel to make up for those two decisions at a cost of decades and billions tagged onto what could have been different.
        A recent graphic showing how the Seattle skyline would look in 2020, shows high rises surrounding CPS, and barely a bump around CHS. That was a major fail in my opinion.
        I applaud fil for trying to make lemonade out of lemons, but the lemon crop has gone sour in Seattle.

    4. This is a pretty good idea, but I’m not sure how cheap it is. I would like to see the numbers on it. One of my many complaints about Sound Transit is that they rarely, if ever, present information about how much each part of a project costs. For example, the downtown tunnel is probably the most expensive part of Ballard rail, but how much does the new bridge cost? How much for the rail on 15th (or just the rail in general). It is tough to make comparisons without knowing these numbers, let alone the cost of this project. As I see it, this might be rather expensive (although obviously cheaper than the other project). There are several pieces:

      1) New bridge. This isn’t cheap, even though it is cheaper than another tunnel. It will be very tall bridge, so it won’t open that often. If it was cheap, I think Seattle would just build something similar, and send buses, cars (and bikes) over it, thus providing much better mobility for the city.

      2) Elevated Interbay section. This isn’t that cheap, either. If you go elevated, you have bridges to deal with. But even if you just go on the surface (as is planned) I would be curious as to the cost. I don’t think this is really high, but it is pretty long, so the cost adds up.

      3) Tunnel under the Seattle Center. I’m assuming this is a bored tunnel, which means that it isn’t cheap, even if it isn’t very far. You do have an economy of scale with a longer tunnel, although not a big one.

      4) Elevated to Westlake. I suppose by replacing the monorail with a light rail elevated section, you save a fair amount of money, but this would still cost a fair amount. The Angle Lake extension cost close to 400 million.

      All in all, I think you are still talking about a sizeable project. I’m guessing somewhere in the ballpark of what West Seattle will cost, and that is scheduled for a very long time from now as well. Meanwhile, look at the disadvantages of this project, compares to some other ones:

      1) Nothing for West Seattle
      2) Ballard riders headed south or east will have to transfer. It still doesn’t make sense to “go around”, or get from Ballard to the UW via Westlake, so the only folks headed north or heading to the one station in Capitol Hill. From lower Queen Anne or Interbay it makes sense to take the trains to get to the UW, so that gives you something. But for folks trying to get to most of downtown, or south Seattle or the East Side, a transfer is required. I’m guessing somewhere around 70% of the riders will want to transfer.
      3) Removes the monorail. Aside from the historical aspect of this, it also means that a significant chunk of the money spent on this project is redundant. With the same sort of “Multiple express transfer elevators” from the Westlake station to the monorail, you basically have the same thing for a lot of riders. In other words, with a little bit of work (hell, just with ORCA support) the monorail complements the rest of the system. This will replace it.

      Now compare this to the WSTT (and just the WSTT):

      1) WSTT is better for West Seattle. In the morning, there are backups headed to town (assuming they don’t add ramp meters). But at the end of the day, a West Seattle rider has a very smooth ride home (better than Link). For all other travel, the bus is better (evening trip into town, midday trip, etc.).

      2) Fewer transfers from Ballard. Consider someone coming from 24th Ave NW and headed to Madison downtown. With this rail line, the rider transfers in Ballard to the train, then in Westlake to another train. On the other hand, with the WSTT, there is no transfer. If you are willing to walk a few blocks, there are no transfers for all of downtown. The exception is up the hill. When the Madison BRT is added, this becomes the best way to get up the hill. So someone coming from Ballard and headed to First Hill has only one transfer, whereas with this system, they could have three (one in Ballard, one in Westlake, and one at Madison).

      3) Difficult to make small, iterative improvements. The next improvement to this rail project would be to dig the tunnel (that we put off). Then you add West Seattle rail (which is both expensive and impractical).

      This is in contrast to the WSTT. Add the WSTT, and can we start chipping away at all the little things that would make it faster. Ramp meters on the West Seattle freeway. A new lane (or lanes) on the West Seattle freeway or the Spokane Street Viaduct. A new bus stop for Dravus, and finally, a new Ballard bridge. The bridge wouldn’t be cheap, but at least it would be built with all transportation travel in mind (bikes, cars and buses). As has been mentioned (a lot) a higher bridge would rarely open, and the problem in general is not waiting for the bridge to open and close, but the traffic that builds up behind the bridge after it opens. A new bridge with a bus-only lane would help solve that problem. Once in a blue moon (and never at rush hour) a bus or two would have to wait for a tall ship or something similar to pass through. Then they would continue to downtown. A bus arriving at the bridge a couple minutes later would cruise right by all the people stuck in their cars, and get to its destination much faster then the drivers.

      So, yeah, I would like to see the numbers, but in general this just seems like a place holder project. It would definitely add value, but not as much as the WSTT.

    5. It wouldn’t hurt to consider an elevated segment downtown, as long as it doesn’t become the one thing to draw out the EIS process even longer. We’ve got the monorail plans and while they can’t be used directly, some of the work on the street integration might shorten the design time if it uses the same streets. But again, we should try to work with the other stakeholders to agree on a minimum number of alternatives (two or three). So if SDOT’s is one and this is another, that leaves one left for the third.

      The earlier ST3 project list had a project to enhance the DSTT to support 2-minute headways. We could try to get ST to advance that now. I could see a northwestern line entering the DSTT via Convention Place, with or without a station. Some have suggested that putting all lines in one tunnel would get it done faster and cheaper than a second tunnel. I can see both sides of that: maybe the single tunnel would have enough capacity, maybe not. And filling up the tunnel 100% would leave no room for expansion, which means the next like would have to bear the cost of a second tunnel, which would make it more difficult. On the other hand, Ballard would already have a line by that point, and wouldn’t that be great?

      “ST choose early on to trade CPS for CHS stations (net sum zero).”

      It’s net sum zero for the number of stations, but certainly not for ridership or convenience or urbanism. Convention Place is not a very useful location for a station; it was only there to connect to the I-5 express lanes. We should think about where the concentrations of pedestrians are, and not just keep stations because they were built somewhere forty years ago.

      1. I think retrofitting the current tunnel would be a good thing to do no matter what else we try to do in ST3. It would be really interesting to understand what that would entail and how much it would cost.

        Although I’m supportive of a second tunnel (depending on the details), I don’t know that we can bite it off for ST3, particularly if the cost means we don’t get the Ballard or W.S. lines for 22+ years. If we can find a way to utilize the existing tunnel (retrofitted for tighter headways) and leave the second tunnel for another day, accelerating Ballard and W.S. since we don’t have to wait for the money to roll in, I’m all for it.

        My only concern about the existing tunnel is Westlake’s ability to handle transfers due to limited platform space. Once the buses go away we might be smart to build a center platform at Westlake and Chinatown/ID to allow more platform space.

  4. Mark, thank you for your comments and questions. Here are my replies to the issues you raise.
    Please keep in mind that the route I describe is one that could mitigate the large amount of money and time needed to design and build this line. I’m interested in proposing a line that could operational 10 years from now.

    1.) As has been raised several times on this blog, a 60ft bridge would need to open extremely infrequently. the cost of a tunnel between elevated light rail to the north and south would be a lot more time and money. An automated system can handle a bridge opening.

    2.) To be clear, I am proposing a line that would be elevated its entire length except for the tunnel from south interbay to the Seattle center where it would transition to elevated again. Fully grade separated its entire length. Also, I agree that this line would need its own maintenance base. This could be located around the rail yard in interbay.

    3.) I am proposing to completely replace the monorail including the elevated support structure.

    Finally, the Monorail terminates at west lake without tail track. this system could do the same. I’;m sure if we get creative we can figure out a way to build a new set of elevators to connect this line to the existing west lake transit tunnel station.

    West seattle can have its own link style rail line that can terminate in the Sodo/ID area.

    I fear that the current ST proposal is too expensive and takes to long to be put into service to be approved by voters.

    We need to think smaller faster and cheaper for west seattle and ballard. getting rid of a second tunnel through downtown does this.

  5. Does anyone know how ridership is doing on the 78? And it a stand-alone route that isn’t through-routed with any other route? That route doesn’t make much sense. It’s painfully obvious that it is the remnant of a previous restructure.

    In Alternative 1 back in March 2015, Laurelhurst was instead served by a tail on the end of a truncated 255 that serves UW station. Are there literally no routes that end at UW station without being thru-routed with another route?

    1. I’d also be curious to know how ridership compares between UW and U Village on Stevens Way (75/372) vs Pacific (65/78). At least on Stevens, the 372 frequently skips people at Pend Oreille, sometimes skips people at the HUB and Rainier Vista, and occasionally skips people at Garfield Lane, only for half of riders to get off by U Village and Blakely. Is the 65/78 similarly overpacked? Likewise, coming down 25th toward UW, it’s not uncommon for the 372 to leave people behind at Blakely and U Village.

      If the 78 is being under-utilized, maybe it can turn into a frequent shuttle service? Stevens Way or UW Station –> U Village and 45th –> loop around to Blakely –> south on 25th –> back to UW station or Stevens Way. That might be able to eliminate the worst overcrowding.

    2. The 78 stop was going to be a great advantage for Laurelhurst by being closer to the station than any of the others. It ended up being two blocks away so not much of an advantage.

      “That route doesn’t make much sense.”

      It only exists because Laurelhurst was vocal about keeping service it doesn’t use and it’s a privileged affluent area. However, the 78 does have an innovation going south on Mary Gates to 41st, which has UW housing and perhaps untapped ridership. Otherwise it’s a holding pattern like the 32nd Ave NW shuttle was, and will either be attached to something later or deleted in the next recession. The 520 restructures were withdrawn pending a more general Eastside restructure so the 255-Children’s may come back with that.

      1. “It only exists because Laurelhurst was vocal about keeping service it doesn’t use and it’s a privileged affluent area.”

        I have to wonder how they let their route 25 loop slip away then. If that was the main reason, I have a feeling that the 78 would look a lot like the 25. Many people on the old loop half to walk a half mile now.

        Metro really gave Laurelhurst a much worse route though than I think even a low-ridership like that area deserves. There are THREE stop pairs in Laurelhurst (according to OBA). This is on a route that could easily justify another two pairs of stops on NE 41st. Also, right now the route itself is stupidly short (like the 47 but with even fewer stops). It would cost Metro only a few minutes to move the left turn from 41st onto 50th, and if they did that, they would save lots of walking for a large swath of Laurelhurst, and serve Laurelhurst park.

        They could do it if they changed the peak headway to 30 mins instead of 20, and ran hourly off-peak. It’s already not frequent enough to be a “frequent route,” so why even try to be a pseudofrequent route when most people who live there and take that bus can arrive at UW early or stay late and do homework if the bus doesn’t come the minute they want?

    3. I had thought I’d read somewhere that the 78 was going to be through-routed with the 73, but no, it looks like it just live-loops through campus.

      In response to your last question, the 44, 45, 71, and 73 all end at UW station without through routes (the vast majority of the time at least). And the 78 I guess.

      1. In looking at the schedule for the #71 it looks like it doesn’t have a lay over at the UW station as turns right around and continues right back to Wedgwood and it looks like it is the same with the # 73 during most of the day and evening during the week and on Saturday.

      2. Hmmm… Ok. Then just extend the 45 to Laurelhurst (can’t use the 44 because it’s electrified), then not only does Laurelhurst get more efficient, 7-day frequent and night service, but it makes a nice northwest/southeast crosstown connection, and in the UW one bus can do the job of two (unloading green lake/loyal heights passengers while picking up Laurelhurst passengers going east, and vice-versa going west).

        I don’t know why they won’t just do that. I realize that ridership may not be the best but the point of the restructure is to increase service levels, and common sense route planning will definitely help ridership (who wanted to ride the 25, which only ran about every hour and a half, all the way downtown, for example?)

      3. If Metro were to consider extending the 45 to Laurelhurst, I hope they would also consider routing it through campus rather than Pacific. I occasionally take the 65 in the afternoon, and I’ve never seen the 65 very crowded nor the station stops very busy. So anecdotally, that makes me think that UW station is being overserved while Stevens Way is being underserved. So why not send the 45 through campus en route to Laurelhurst to help alleviate overcrowding between UW and U Village while providing more crosstown service and Laurelhurst service.

      4. The problem is that southbound Montlake would kill the reliability for the part of the 45 that would actually carry riders. That, and the extension would require more buses to add to the route, which would cost money.

        As to the 78 – it travels down 41st, but it doesn’t actually stop on 41st until the corner of 41st St./42nd Ave. – exactly the intersection where the 25 used to stop. Apparently, Metro decided that the ridership potential on 41st was so low, it wasn’t even worth paying for a pole in the ground outside the one intersection that already had service on the 25.

      5. “Apparently, Metro decided that the ridership potential on 41st was so low, it wasn’t even worth paying for a pole in the ground outside the one intersection that already had service on the 25.”

        So ridership potential is so low that they won’t put a $200 pole there, yet they send 40 buses there a day now (remember, the 25 didn’t even go down that road). That doesn’t make any sense. Also, they had to move one of the bus stops from the 25 so that it would be on the north side of 41st St.

      6. Yes. If I remember correctly, the Laurelhurst Loop had something like 21 riders per DAY. It’s not worth through routing that with anything, unless the point is to serve U-Village or Children’s.

        If you want a random idea, how about from Laurelhurst, you route the bus around Blakely St on the North side of U-Village, then South on 25th NE to catch people missed by the 372. Just a thought

      7. Once U District station is in place this could conceivably be solved by the 44 extending towards Children’s hospital. While not an ideal placement, some sort of a loop could provide decent coverage (as good as the 78, at least) for Laurelhurst. Adding that wire is part of the city’s plan, but I’m not sure about terminus specifics.

  6. fil,

    Your effort deserves a lot of credit. But also makes my point that from here on, everything ST3 related needs a civil engineering team on staff whose job is to explain what’s really involved in any course of action.

    Actual mechanics, and geology of crossing the Ship Canal above or below. And also, potential long term benefits. We’re talking many decades of operation. A weather-proof tunnel could long term pencil out to a much better bargain.

    Maintenance Base location isn’t main problem. Real problem is a technology completely separate from the rest of the system- with a really serious problem getting passengers past Westlake Center, let alone West Seattle.

    The Monorail got away with a very limited terminal precisely because line was so short, and so few trains. Also, necessary terminal rebuild you envision will require rebuilding Westlake Center, including very tricky intrusion into Westlake Station.

    About project time? Not generally remembered, but we built the DSTT, stations and all, in 3 years. With first year for utility relocation only.

    So once again and I think STB really needs to publicly insist one this: We the people who are paying for and riding system in question deserve permanent and frequent contact with the exact kind of engineers that’ll be doing the work.

    It’ll yield better choice of action, and save much time normally lost in argument. And it will also set example for developing the kind and view of Government I think the Founders intended:

    Neither a tyrant nor a benefactor, but a powerful tool operated by citizens ourselves, for the purpose of providing ourselves with necessary things we can’t achieve as individuals.

    In the Age of Reason, it was completely reasonable to think that ordinary people could be trained to run machinery that size.

    But finally, fil, your main focus is absolutely right. We need some serious attention and organization so that the project does not take three decades until it’s of any use. The way we handled the DSTT with buses, leading into trains, was an early example. Showing future ones are better than possible.

    So if we want ST3 passed, we’d better get some serious transit re-arrangement on both the boards and the streets before the election. Like the 43 wire, question is: “Who elected do we lean on, and how hard?”

    So for this much, thanks for all this work. You’re just getting started.

    Mark Dublin

  7. ST3 is roughly 50 billion dollar package. That mans there will be roughly half a billion dollars for art. What you like to see done with that money?

    1. Save some of it to cover the extra costs imposed by Design Review, as neighbors try to keep the TOD under five stories and unaffordable for median-income renters.

    2. I honestly would like them to spend the whole $500 million dollars for one paper napkin from McDonald’s that a local artist crumpled-up and called art. Then put it on display somewhere. If we’re going to be stupid enough to mandatorily spend 1% on art, let’s not be half-stupid. Let’s go for it. Let’s be completely stupid. My motto is: I never hold back on my stupidity.

      1. He’s also the world’s foremost art critic. We’re lucky to have such a luminary in our region.

      2. The requirement to spend 1% of all money on art is stupid I think because it’s an arbitrary blanket requirement that doesn’t take into account where the money spent (is that right?). This means that the inclusion of freeway improvements to allow shoulder-running buses on I-405 requires more money to be spent on art at Link stations. How about if they allocated money for art based on the integer number of stations (they can add also an allocation based on number of miles of track if they really want to keep doing light shows next to the tracks)? That at least makes some sense.

      3. Alt 1: Sign up 1,000 artists, who each get a $20,000 debit card each year at Lowes for the next 25 years, and have them build affordable housing in the SAM Sculpture Park. Some will hate and some will love the results- Perfect ART.
        I’m building a streetcar with bunk beds in it with my money.

    3. Monuments at the Tacoma and Everett stations to honor the old interurbans of the early 20th century. Replica of the car, a giant mural, whatever. Anything to tie it into transit history.

    4. Give enough of it to the public school system from kindergarten all the way through college to teach people why art is valuable, and how to do it.

      Meantime, one good effect of an art-free system: after you turn design and construction over to Water Quality, overcrowding problems will cease to be a problem.

      Mark Dublin

  8. Thanks for sharing my video! A note to readers, it looks a lot better if you select the highest quality “1080s” with the gear icon. If you view it in the YouTube app on your phone, it will move around 360 in sync with your phone’s motion.

  9. I saw a quote from Ragoff last week that said Link carried almost 80,000 riders in one day. I can’t find it now, but the quote seemed to claim that Link did that on the day of the Mariniers home open.

    Can anyone confirm the above? And does anyone know how ridership is doing so far? I’ve pinged my normal sources, but so far everyone seems to be unusually tight lipped.

    1. Yes, he said that during the TCC forum last week. “36K before U-Link, 50K with U-Link, and 80K on Mariners game day.” There has been no confirmation or context since then. However, I think Zach said STB will request daily ridership numbers after ST releases the March monthly numbers. That will presumably be in mid May since the February report was on April 11.

    2. The 80,000 day was not only Opening Day for the M’s, but also Comic-Con. It will be an outlier, ridership-wise, on normal Felix-free M’s days. Those numbers won’t be reached again until commencement or maybe Copa America.

      1. Outlier? Maybe, but not by much. The M’s might have had a great day attendance wise, but every Seahawks game draws about 50% more than even opening day at the M’s. And the U-Link is still new and still being worked into the daily commute pattern. If U-Link is already able to draw 80,000 riders, then I’d expect many more days in the future like that one.

      2. The Seahawks play maybe 2 home weeknight regular season games a year and perhaps two more preseason. For transit planning purposes, they are about as relevant as the Huskies.

      3. @WilliamA,

        When speaking of these headline numbers I see no reason to limit the discussion to just weekdays. Transit serves a purpose on weekends too, and we transit advocates need to be careful not to limit our focus to just serving the daily commuter trudging to his/her daily job.

        Na, there will be plenty of times in a year when events will push ridership up to levels equivalent to or exceeding those we saw on M’s opening day. Seahawks games, Husky games, the so called “Viadoom”, etc.

        I doubt that by the end of the year M’s opening day will represent the peak ridership for the system. In fact far from it.

        But let’s just be thankful that we finally have a bit of a transit system that can handle these peaks and do it reliably. That is a huge improvement.

      4. The point @Lazarus is not that weekends aren’t important, but that to get up to those gaudy numbers you need both a big event like a Seahawks game or a high attendance Mariners/Sounder game plus a full commute. The weekend baseline, while quite respectable for an American transit system of this size, just isn’t high enough, nor is the transit mode share of any regular recreational event this city hosts.

      5. Though it is off topic for William’s point:

        When speaking of these headline numbers I see no reason to limit the discussion to just weekdays. Transit serves a purpose on weekends too, and we transit advocates need to be careful not to limit our focus to just serving the daily commuter trudging to his/her daily job.

        I once took RapidRide E all the way from N 200th to downtown at 5:30 am on a Sunday morning. I was the only one on it that didn’t look like they were headed to their daily job.

        It’s important for transit advocates to point out to some of these agencies that Monday – Friday isn’t the only commute time.

      6. @William,

        I disagree. While the average ridership on weekends lags the average for weekdays (particularly in the winter months), one of the main features of weekend ridership is its high variability. This variability is not captured in the quick look averages, but it can lead to some pretty high peak ridership days. You simply don’t need to have a weekday commute and a coinciding event to get high numbers, you can get very high numbers on weekends too.

        I’d be willing to bet that by the end of the year M’s opening day won’t even be in the top 10 ridership days for the system.


        Is that second quote from William?

  10. I’ve noticed that the trip through the U District along the Ave to UW station is consistently longer than the trip from the UW station to even the ID, never mind downtown. Depending on traffic conditions this can be true even from as far down as 43rd. Buses are forced to deal with a LOT of crap between scheduled stops, which not only causes delays but also causes a lot of bunching. The bunching isn’t so bad Northbound, but Southbound bunching really hampers the effect of the increased frequency.

    The merge onto Pacific – which features two traffic lights in quick succession plus a parking garage outlet – is particularly gnarly. Articulated buses sometimes can’t even move forward on a green – there’s just not a lot of room between the Ave/Pacific and the 15th/Pacific intersection and just a few cars can make it such that the bus would be forced to block the intersection.

    This (among other things) has had me idling over how to make the Ave completely carfree, at least from 41st to 50th if not the whole darn thing. (If this had to wait the 5 years until Brooklyn is open to traffic again, that’d be less than ideal, but acceptable.) I haven’t done any plannerly work in a while, but this seems like something fun and worthwhile to pursue. Who knows, maybe I can come up with something plausible enough to toss over the wall to the U District Partnership or SDOT.

    Questions for the expert panel here at STB:
    – What do you think the biggest hurdles would be? I’m assuming parking and how to handle delivery vehicles.
    – I think a quick win could be achieved by eliminating the need for Saturday reroutes. If University Heights disallowed Parking before 2:00pm on Saturday, you could probably house the entire thing on the property, plus maybe the sidewalks/parking lanes on 52nd, the Ave, and Brooklyn. (Obviously you’d have to still leave room for the bus stands.) Seems very doable. What am I missing?
    – I’m probably not the first one to think of this idea. Anyone know of any exiting plans for this sort of thing? Or any other literature/case studies you think would be worthwhile reading?

    1. In the days of the old 71/72/73, getting down the Ave. also took forever, so I can’t say I’m surprised. At least, under the new system, the people trying to get from the Ave to downtown are spread out over more buses (and those originating from campus are just walking to Link and not bothering with a bus at all), so the dwell time at bus stops isn’t as bad.

      I think it would be very nice if the Ave. could go car free, but I don’t see it happening anytime soon. Business would scream at the loss of parking, and you would need to think about deliveries, plus access to a couple of parking lots.

      I believe the reason why the farmer’s market uses the street is so the market vendors can park their cars in the parking lot. Back when the market was in the parking lot, this wasn’t an issue because the parking lot, itself, was larger than it is now. Since then, some of the parking space has been converted into garden space. One possible solution would be to move the market to the other side of the University Heights building, over to Brooklyn St., where, at least, it wouldn’t impact bus routes. But then, you’d have the 10 people who live along block complaining about the infringement of the god-given right to park their cars right next to their houses with 24/7 access. The Ave. doesn’t have this problem, because the only neighborhoods who would be losing their car access are restaurants which are either closed during market hours, or get enough walk-up traffic from market-goers that they don’t complain.

      1. “some of the parking space has been converted into garden space”

        No, a mini park was recently opened up that took up about 1/3 of the parking space on the south side of the building. There’s a small basketball area, a table, etc. The p-patch is a bit further north.

      2. Moving the market to Brooklyn Avenue would continue to affect the # 70 since its north terminal is on Brooklyn between 50th and 52nd. Right now on Saturday it is routed to the #49 terminal on 12th Ave NE via NE 45th and 11th Ave NE.

      3. >I believe the reason why the farmer’s market uses the street is so the market vendors can park their cars in the parking lot.

        I haven’t done the math on this, but I’m pretty sure if you let the market use:
        – both the north *and* south parking lots on the heights property
        – the new park space
        – the sidewalks and parking lanes of the West side of the Ave, the South side of 52nd, and the east side of Brooklyn
        – the Christian Science parking lot (they seem to allow this currently)
        – maybe even take up the southbound traffic lane on the Ave

        I think you could fit the whole market there and nix the whole reroute forever. Even if it had to shrink 5-10%, I think that trade off would be well worth it. Those Saturday reroutes suck the life out of the route legibility.

    2. Getting from the north end of the u-dist to the UW station is sloooowwww.

      When the NE restructure was first announced I stupidly thought that the 48 (or its replacement) was still going to use 15th. But then I realized the 45 would hop on the Ave, which has its advantages, but it comes at a price (slower). There were some times in the past in which I would take a 48 to campus parkway in order to catch a 7X that I had just missed.

      Taking a 70 from the udist to downtown is now faster than getting to Link and then going downtown. Well, generally, and assuming no traffic jams, etc.

      I wish there was service on 15th that would makes limited stops and would get people to the UW station more quickly.

      1. It turns out that while 15th is a lot faster than the Ave. when you’re in a car, for a bus, it doesn’t make all that difference. 15th has just as many bus stops and stoplights as the Ave. does, and during rush hour, 15th has a lot more car traffic, which can sometimes lead to waiting multiple cycles to cross 45th. Ultimately, the biggest reason for using the Ave. is that if every bus took 15th, the result (at least during rush hour) would be each waiting several minutes in line for the buses ahead of it to clear each stop before the current bus could opens its doors. This would cause trips to be a lot slower.

        If you are actually traveling from 15th/43rd (as opposed to getting on the 45 further back), you could try simply walking across campus and not bothering with the bus. It may seem slower, but with no bus stops or stoplights to deal with, door to door, it’s actually about the same. Part of it comes from the fact that walking, you can go straight down Ranier Vista to the bridge, whereas the bus option would require waiting for lights to cross Pacific and then Montlake, after you get off.

      2. The walk light at the southern end of the station needs to be reconfigured to no longer require a push button to operate. The location of the button is basically as far from the station as possible and if you’re going to expect people to go that way (and it’s a lot shorter at the crow flies than the bridge) it should be automatic.

  11. Silly question:

    When leaving the UW station at the street level and walking to Bay 2 one has to cross Montlake Blvd. Does pushing the button for the walk signal actually trigger anything or is it just for show? What is the length of that cycle if one has to wait for the next walk signal? How much faster/slower is it to walk the station via the pedestrian bridge and walk to Bay 2?

    I noticed that the signal button is 10 or more feet away from the normal path of a person so I wonder how often it gets pressed. Maybe one should be added a little further north. When I was there last night I was amazing at the number of people playing frogger and sprinting across Montlake even though there was traffic. I felt like I was on Aurora.

    1. During daytime hours, pushing the button is completely unnecessary. However, there are periods very early in the morning or very late at night, where you do need to push the button to get a walk signal.

      The wait time to cross Montlake at the light can be anywhere from 0 to 90 seconds. Whether the bridge or the crosswalk is faster all depends. One advantage of the bridge is that you can take the elevator directly from the bridge level to the platform level. If transferring to Link from a 520 bus, however, I believe the fastest option is actually the bus stop at Montlake and Shelby, since it avoids the need to wait at the Montlake/Pacific light while the bus makes its left turn.

    2. I tried it, and it took what seemed like a good 10 minutes to directly cross on Montlake. Later I figured out that as i got off, i took the south set of escalators (more lightly used), which put me on street level south, closer to Pacific. The Pacific walk light seems to cycle faster.

      1. I didn’t see this set of comments. How is one supposed to know not to have to press the walk light? The city seems to provide unnecessary walk lights in many places. War on cars indeed.

  12. I had a funny thought. Would it be possible to make a slight modification to the spine in ST3? Build the rail basically the same, but make sure to make the curves not too sharp. Put the stops a little sparser. Then, instead of running the light rail cars the whole way, order different, much faster low floor cars. The fast ones would go super fast for the big distances between Tacoma and Seattle and Everett and Seattle. The regular speed link cars would go regular in Seattle. Then the stations at the edge could be transfer/turnaround stations served by both.
    That way we could have our tight turning cars in the city. Further out where the distances are bigger, we can have the higher speed trains which could be competitive with free flowing freeway.

    1. In other words, serve commuter patters with commuter rail and save the subway trains for the real city? Brilliant! Too bad Sound Transit wants nothing to do with it.

      1. That would make it easier for cities along 167 to support the measure but it is going to be interesting to see what happens at the Tacoma open house on this one.

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