96 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Expo Line to the Beach”

  1. I rode it to the current end point and back about a year and a half ago and was very impressed. They JAM IT! We were running behind houses and across intersecting streets at very close to 50 miles per hour all the way from USC to the end. Link’s stately passage down MLK is a JOKE by comparison.

    1. I noticed the same thing on LA’s gold line last year. It seemed more like I was on a streetcar because it sections of it zigzagged through tight residential areas, but much slower than Link.

      1. Fun fact: the Gold Line reuses a large portion of former Santa Fe right of way where big streamliner trains of the Super (now Southwest) Chief ran into LA. Of all the LA Metro lines to date, I’d say it’s the most scenic. Similarly, the Expo Line’s right of way began as a steam railroad over a hundred years ago.

        Although they’re both largely at grade, the difference between it and MLK is Expo has crossing gates and the stations elevated above the busy intersections. The parts where it runs in a street median between downtown and USC is painfully slow. There’s a petition to get signal preemption there.

  2. I’m very much looking forward to riding this thing as I’m visiting Santa Monica later this year : ) I knew LA Metro was planning to extend a line to SM, but I thought it was years out. It was a huge surprise to find out it will be finished before my visit : )

      1. This is like the 194 vs Link argument all over again…Expo’s access to many neighborhoods, frequency, reliability and hours of service beat the Rapid 10 bus any day. But unlike the 194, there are no HOV lanes on the 10 which means the bus is just stuck in traffic like everyone else.

      2. Actually, there was also a 434 bus which operated Santa Monica – West LA Transit Center (Washington/National) – Downtown LA for years, which was slightly faster than the Rapid 10 (since it got on the freeway in Downtown Santa Monica rather than several miles east on Bundy).

        Tom Rubin, and other rail critics, have often wondered whether expanding the freeway bus network would have been better. Los Angeles had freeway buses in all directions radiating from Downtown – Long Beach via the 456, Santa Monica/Malibu and LAX/South Bay via the 434 and 439, the San Fernando Valley with the 424, Hollywood with the 420, Montebello with the 470, and Pasadena with the 401 – all of which have been replaced by rail. All of these had all day service, although frequencies varied. The argument could be made that HOT lanes, which Rubin and his ilk were pushing in the 90’s, would have been better for transit while serving the majority of people who drove. The rail advocates won the day, but if Los Angeles County hadn’t shifted to the left post-1994 (when thousands of Hispanics were mobilized to naturalize and register to vote thanks to Proposition 187, while Whites left the region due to the military-industrial bust), it is not inconceivable that you would have a Houston-style network of HOV lanes with transit stations criss-crossing the region rather than rail.

  3. A few thoughts on this line: First, I think it is great that the website puts the rail map on a Google Map. I know there are reasons why you have schematics, but it is really nice to see exactly where the train goes (especially if you aren’t that familiar with the area). I hope agencies continue to do this. I can sometimes find maps that people have made, but they aren’t necessarily as nice as this. My only complaint is that specific Google Maps (like these) do not have all the features of a regular Google Map. For example, you can’t “measure distance”, or turn on layers (such as the other transit options). This is a criticism of Google, though, not the people making the map.

    The idea of a train going to the beach reminded me of this: http://humantransit.org/2009/12/on-subways-to-the-sea.html. I think Walker makes a good point (and people who think Madison BRT should be extended to Madison Park should keep this in mind). But in this particular case, I think it is OK. This isn’t quite to the beach (as the headline suggests) but a few blocks from it. The beach itself will eat into potential ridership, but it looks like there is a lot of bus service there connecting it to areas with decent density. It isn’t an ideal anchor, but it looks pretty good to me.

    That being said, I don’t know why they are only running this thing every 12 minutes. That seems ridiculously infrequent for rail. It pretty much kills its value from a transfer standpoint, which pretty much kills the line. Santa Monica isn’t that big of a destination, nor is it that dense. But the areas close to it are reasonably dense and just as popular (Venice Beach is down the street). I could see cross-cutting buses combining with the train to provide very good service (like they do in Vancouver) but only if the train runs often.

    1. 1) The “Pink line” is too funny. As a transit enthusiast, I sometimes envision re-designing transit systems of other cities. For Los Angeles, I’d always imagine extending the soon-to-be LAX/Crenshaw line further north to W. Hollywood, creating a crosstown connecting.

      2) Walker has a good point regarding density at the end of a line. This is the very reason why BRT should not be extended to Madison Park, which I don’t think it will be. In Santa Monica’s case, it’s downtown promenade and Pier would be a decent ridership generator. The Pier has a plethora of events during the summer and the promenade itself is busy year-round.

      1. Madison Park has 15,000 persons/square mile, which is higher than anything in the Madison corridor until you get to 23rd and equivalent to some of the census tracts even there. Surprisingly enough, per the last census, nearly 50% of the people in Madison Park are renters. Although like most areas outside the core the transit usage tends to be commute-heavy, the 11 sees decent usage even east of 23rd. At least in summer the park gets heavy usage as it is the beach for most of Capitol Hill and the surrounding areas.

        While the point is valid enough that water cuts your walkshed in half, in this case there is realistically only one way out of the neighborhood and that tends to focus both transit and auto use. I agree that BRT is unlikely to make it that far, but it may become popular enough and fast enough that someday it might be worth every other run going there, or at least the BRT line be extended to Madison Valley. I think there will be a decent number of people who will see the benefits of being part of it once it gets built to 23rd.

    2. “Santa Monica isn’t that big of a destination”

      It’s as big a destination as Venice if not bigger. I’d say Venice attracts a slightly different clientele. The terminal station is near the pier (seen at the end of the video) and hugely popular Third Street Promenade shopping district is around the corner.

      “the areas close to it are reasonably dense”

      Check out Palms further down the line. It’s denser than any neighborhood in Seattle except Capitol Hill and Belltown. It’s a pretty good example of LA-style density dominated by small apartments. There are also multiple TOD projects going up at stations along the line.

      1. “Santa Monica isn’t that big of a destination”

        It’s as big a destination as Venice if not bigger.

        Which still isn’t that big.

        Check out Palms further down the line. It’s denser than any neighborhood in Seattle except Capitol Hill and Belltown.

        The U-District is more dense than Palms. But I get your point. Palms is similar to the Central Area, in that it is fairly dense. I get that.

        But my point is that the particular spots that this covers don’t jump out at you, when you look at the census map: http://arcg.is/1T01TWx. There is a mix of density and destinations all over the place. For example, there is a nice cluster to the north of the last station (also in Santa Monica but a bit of a walk to the station). As you mentioned, Venice Beach is a destination. This doesn’t seem like a great anchor, but it might be if there is enough of a network to support it.

        My point is this screams for better service than every 12 minutes. The greatest value of this line is not the spots that it serves directly, but the ability for it to create a very good network. In that regard it reminds me of a UW to Ballard line. It isn’t about the places that it directly serves, but the network it enables. That would make it similar to much of Vancouver BC’s system. But only if you run the line often enough. If you can’t, then I wonder if it is worth the effort.

      2. Ross,

        Sorry, man, but you’re turning into He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, Jr. Celebrate this; it’s functional transit in L-effyouseeking-A!

        LAMTA put a line here because it had existing, low-cost right of way through a traditional “Red Cars” neighborhood that has grown into a decent urban strip pretty much throughout its length. If they had tried to replicate the “Orange Line” busway it would have been a miserable failure because it crosses a lot of streets, and it does so at relatively high speeds. Just as BART del Norte isn’t the right solution for all transit problems, neither are buses, which is what you’re implying by complaining about its current headway. The stations are long enough for at least three-car trains, so the capacity at twelve minute headways is on the

        Since the Blue Line also runs every 12 minutes, that gives a headway of six minutes on the shared segment, and I’d bet that’s about all that the reversal at Metro Center and run down Figueroa can take at this time. When the LRT subway is extended to Union Station the Expo line will run through to East LA on what is now the southern section of the Gold Line. When enough trains arrive, peak hour headways will be six minutes, which is frequent enough to enable good transfers to and from the surrounding areas.

      3. Calm down, Anandakos. Don’t put words in my mouth. Look at that first comment again. It is only three paragraphs. Just to repeat them:

        1) I like the maps. I wish more agencies did this.
        2) Jarrett Walker is concerned about the anchor. He raises a good point, but the stop is not right on the beach (as the headline suggests). So I think the stop will be OK. I think it will be very good, actually, since it will pick up plenty of folks who live nearby (within a mile or so).
        3) But that only works if the train runs frequently. 12 minutes is not frequent, what is up with that?

        How the hell do you get “we should just run buses” out of that? WTF?

        Come on man, everything that has been said has backed up what I wrote.

        1) It was relatively cheap to build.
        2) The anchor isn’t great, or as good as it could have been. As CC said below (https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2016/05/08/sunday-open-thread-expo-line-phase-ii-tour/#comment-723229), it should have been a few blocks to the north. My guess is the anchor location had as much to do with saving money as anything (it just wasn’t worth the extra cash to build this to downtown).
        3) Frequency is critical. So critical that they are making a major investment in infrastructure to improve headways (according to Jonah — https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2016/05/08/sunday-open-thread-expo-line-phase-ii-tour/#comment-723321).

        All of my concerns were valid, the thing is, L. A. is doing something about them! Seriously, imagine I asked an official about the situation:

        I am concerned about the anchor stop for the new line. I know going to the beach sounds great because people can all see themselves using it, but rarely does that have the ridership of a major downtown area. Speaking of which, why doesn’t this end downtown?

        L. A. Metro:

        We understand your concern. We chose the end point for budgetary reasons. It is only marginally worse than a downtown stop. There are several good stops in the area that will be connected by bus service. Major improvements in infrastructure will be implemented in a few years to allow for much more frequent service, enabling a better transit network.

        Sounds great to me. My concerns were addressed and I have faith in this line (and the agency behind it).

        Holy shit, man, I compared this line the Ballard to UW — how the hell did you get the idea that I didn’t like it! Just Google “Ballard to UW light rail” and see if you can guess what I think of light rail along that corridor. My point is that for it to work — and this is true for Ballard to UW — it must run very frequently. If it doesn’t, ridership will get hammered. Not every line is like that (or at least not every line gets hammered as hard) but these lines are. They are highly dependent on transfers, and 12 minute frequency kills transfers. L. A. officials know this and are addressing it, instead of pretending it isn’t an issue (which was my concern). Given what has happened in some parts of the country (including ours) you can understand my concern. But based on what I now know (L. A. is aggressively addressing the frequency issues) they are doing the right thing. My faith in the efficacy of this line and the agency behind it is restored.

    3. Actually, Santa Monica is a huge destination, and is very dense. Around 13,000 ppsm if I recall.

      1. The census block that is the most dense is a bit north of there, close to Montana Avenue. It has over 39,000 people per square mile. But it is a long walk from there to the station, which is why I think bus service is critical through here. This is why I think 12 minute frequency is a big mistake, and will kill a substantial portion of the ridership. It wouldn’t matter as much if this line managed to go through the pockets of high density, but it doesn’t, which is why I’m disappointed. The combination of beaches as well as dense areas around there make a fine anchor, but only if you have the transit network to support it (and 12 minutes frequency isn’t supporting it).

      2. Well, if that’s very dense, Madison Park has 15,000 ppsm. Certainly more people are going to Santa Monica, but that’s to the beach, and even Madison Park draws a lot of people from up the hill when the weather’s good.

    4. “I don’t know why they are only running this thing every 12 minutes”

      Because Breda screwed up LA’s last big order of train cars and with two new extensions opening this year, there’s a shortage of trains available to run a full service. New trains from Kinkisharyo are arriving this year.

      1. Breda got bought by one of the big Japanese firms not too long ago, so their situation may improve.

      2. OK, that makes a lot more sense. I was afraid that L. A. had some sort of budget crisis, and had money to build, but not run things. If the trains run often enough then you can definitely support it (the way that Vancouver supports much of its line). The stops don’t have to be spectacular if you have good bus service that complements it (and it should, with the density and destinations that are nearby).

    5. I think Walker’s point about anchoring lines applies mostly to lines that are much more expensive to build initially and to operate (i.e. per-mile) than local-stop buses, and to corridors that would certainly have some local-stop bus running along them. That stuff is only true to a limited degree for Madison BRT. Initial costs are limited to overhead wire and fairly simple stops. Operational cost of providing that coverage with Madison BRT would be higher than with some other route because of greater frequency and span, offset, possibly, by increased duplication and overhead required to send another route there.

      I’m not sure this is enough of a case to send the BRT all the way past Broadmoor and into the cul-de-sac of Mad Park (it always surprises me when I look at a map how long the distance is from MLK to the lake, compared to the length of Madison that would be double-covered by the BRT and an 8-Mad Park route), but… it’s at least a bit of a counterpoint.

      1. One thing that has always amazed me is that Madison BRT has never turned so that it could terminate at a Link station. Ending at Judkins Park or UW or even at Overlake via 520 bridge would paint the project in a much better light.

      2. Even if it could turn sharply to end at Capitol Hill Station (using 12th or 15th or 19th), Madison BRT would be much more useful.

      3. There’s a bit of a difference between anchoring a line at a popular international tourist destination with lots of mid-rise buildings and businesses of all types, and oh by the way a small amusement park, and anchoring a line at Madison Beach.

      4. Madison Street is a major corridor in its own right alongside Pike/Pine and Jackson. It’s also the furthest from Link because the DSTT did not have a Madison entrance and First Hill Station was dropped from Link. So it’s the highest priority for BRT, the way Ballard is the largest urban village furthest from a Link station so it’s the highest priority for Link. Madison BRT fulfills this role. If it achieves its goal of 10-minute travel time from end to end, nobody will care that doesn’t deviate to Capitol Hill Station. Extending it north or south to UW or Judkins Park Station might be useful theoretically (although I’d never heard of that before so I don’t know if anyone else has), but that would prevent it from being eventually extended to Madison Park. It might as well remain straight to support a grid system. There will be 23rd RapidRide in a few years, and it will go to both UW Station and Judkins Park Station.

      5. I think Walker’s point about anchoring lines applies mostly to lines that are much more expensive to build initially and to operate (i.e. per-mile) than local-stop buses,

        But relatively speaking, it is the same issue. For example, operationally, a train is more expensive to run than a bus. But a BRT bus is not cheap, either. You have to deal with off board payment (which means more people checking fares). From an initial cost standpoint, it means more buses (and these are special buses). I’m not sure what else is involved (or if it would be needed) but other parts of this are certainly expensive (beyond just running wire).

        There is certainly value in running this all the way to the water (and thus eliminating the need for the 11) but as you said, that is a surprisingly long ways. Running a regular bus out there actually works out well, anyway, especially if it swings by CHS. From the standpoint of someone who lives in Madison Park, a bus that started there, followed the 8 past CHS, then went downtown (like the 10) would be great. That way someone could connect directly to downtown, get to Link fairly quickly or get to anywhere on Madison very quickly. If the 8 gets switched to end at Madison Park it means they have all of that except for the one seat ride to downtown (but a two seat ride would be very fast).

      6. One thing that has always amazed me is that Madison BRT has never turned so that it could terminate at a Link station.

        That’s the fault of Sound Transit, not SDOT. Madison BRT makes sense in its own right, just as adding at least one light rail stop on Madison makes sense (and always has). Forward Thrust had one there, if I’m not mistaken. Oh, wait, it had two (https://www.washington.edu/uwired/outreach/cspn/Website/Images/Mullins%20images/1985system.jpg).

      7. Mike,

        And if the Green Line gets built (increasingly doubtful given the poor choices ST is providing to people on the East Side) the Midtown Station will be right between the two directions of Madison BRT on Fifth Avenue.

        I’m sure we can’t hope that enough entrances will be provided so that people will be able to transfer without crossing any streets, but maybe in one direction they will.,

      8. @Anandakos — Yeah, if another transit tunnel is built, it will definitely have a stop at Madison. The WSTT features this as well. As it is, the Madison BRT won’t be too far from the University Street station.

        As Mike mentioned, there will be a 23rd RapidRide soon. At that point, a trip to CHS becomes somewhat redundant. If you are headed north on Link (e. g. Northgate) then you take the bus on 23rd. If you are headed downtown or south, then you take the BRT to downtown.

        Of course, there are big challenges on 23rd. A bus along that corridor may still encounter congestion. Heading all the way downtown on the Madison BRT to head back up north on Link would be silly. So that leaves the 8, which Metro will invest in heavily in the years to come. The long term plan is to run it in RapidRide form out to Madison Park. This is route 1061 on Metro’s long range plan. This might be able to avoid congestion, and thus be a very fast way to get to Link from 23rd. I would guess that it would be faster to take this when heading north on Link instead of taking the 23rd bus. But time will tell as to which corridor can be improved the most.

    6. As others have pointed out, Walker’s post is pretty flawed. It’s a good example of the shortcomings of treating rail routing decisions as solely a matter of “geometry.” Santa Monica is a major regional destination already. Bringing a rail line there can help spur more development, though NIMBYism is pretty strong there. I’m quite confident the Expo Line will have high ridership, and will help fuel momentum to bring the Purple Line all the way from Westwood/VA down to the beach. (Well, not *exactly* to the beach, but hopefully at least to 3rd Street.)

    7. The line shares track with the Blue line, which peaks at about every 4 trains a minute. Given that they currently end at a stub in a subway downtown, they unfortunately can’t turn any more trains per hour. The Regional Connector project will alleviate that by connecting the Expo, Blue and Gold lines, so they all have through running. Due in 2020.

      1. OK. I’ve also been told that they simply don’t have enough train cars. Either way the point is to run this more often, later. That is fine. I was worried that wasn’t the case (maybe they have money to build it, but not operate it). There are some lines which look like they will be popular no matter how often you run them — but this doesn’t look like one of those lines. It will actually be very interesting to see how ridership goes up when they increase frequency. I’m guessing it will go way up, as transfers will become hugely popular.

  4. Are people allowed to go to the ST Board meetings? I was thinking about their June meetings where they’re making ST3 decisions. If we can go, where do they hold the meetings?

    1. Yes, they are open to the public. Board meetings are in the Ruth Fisher Board Room at Union Station (4th and Jackson).

  5. The 45 could really use an additional stop between 41st and Pacific, to allow for easier connection with campus-bound routes on Campus Parkway.

    1. Actually, I think it should be moved to 15th Ave NE so that there’s consolidated & frequent service between the U-Dist and UW Station. This would also allow for a stop at Campus Pkwy.

      1. Agreed. It looks like Metro has a temporary stop on Pacific between 15th and the Ave. I’m not sure if the intent is to make this a permanent stop, but if so, it’s an awful location. It serves a small park off the Burke with hardly any visitors, a parking garage, and a construction site for what will be a utility plant in a year or so. A block away are a couple UW academic/research buildings, but those already have lots of service. Given the number of buses traveling on Campus Parkway, facilitating transfers should be a priority.

        As for putting the bus onto 15th, I imagine Metro was worried about making too much bus congestion on 15th. I think there probably are ways to mitigate this, but it would involve extending the bus stop areas significantly.

    2. Somewhere near the Dustrict Market/Gould would be ideat, allowing for easy access to the ‘walk-all-ways’ crossing on 15th, and close to where it used to stop when it was a 48.

    3. There seems to be another stop on NW-bound Pacific near the Health Sciences building, but it’s closed for construction. Agreed that a stop near 40th St or just south of Campus Parkway would also be nice. At present, it’s kind of generous to say that the 45/71/73 serve UW considering how much of the campus they skirt around.

      1 problem with moving the 45 to 15th Ave is that there would only be 15 minute service remaining on the Ave, and no service at all on Sundays.

      On another note, the 78 seems to have been demoted to the tiny buses that don’t even have rear doors.

      1. The closed bus stop you mention on Pacific I think will be closed for a while, due to construction of the new Life Sciences building and rebuilding the Burke. When/If it’s reopened, hopefully Metro can actually make it appealing to wait at. Before it was closed, the hillside was slumping over the bench, there were no timetables posted, and the small platform meant traffic would splash water off the road onto waiting bus riders.

        As for the 78, I’m surprised anyone at all is riding it. It’s so infrequent and unreliable as to be useless compared to the 65/75. Metro could probably use a van pool vehicle and it would still be over-provisioned.

      2. The only buses in the Metro fleet “that don’t even have rear doors” are the 1100s. North Base no longer has any 1100s, so they can’t be running on the 78. It, like the 25 before it, has been operated by 3600s every time I’ve looked. (Why they don’t use the smaller 3700s, and why they didn’t use them on the 25, I don’t understand.)

      3. Perhaps the 45 could turn left at Campus Parkway onto 15th instead of continuing down the lower Ave. That way most of the Ave would still have the much-needed 15-minute service and it would make it easier to transfer to other routes and walk onto campus.

      4. I don’t buy the argument that the “Ave” has to have service in the first place. 15th is just one very short block away. People can walk. Many people (including myself) would actually have one block less of walking to get to the 45 if it were on 15th.

        On the other hand, if every bus used 15th, without appropriate mitigation, you would have issues where buses get stuck behind one another at bus stops. One solution is to do the skip/stop pattern similar to what is already done on 3rd Ave. downtown. Every block has a bus stop, but each bus only stops at every other stop

      5. Kudos to asdf2. All buses on 15th and skip stop would allow The Ave to become much more intensely pedestrianized.

      6. Never mind, I’m completely wrong. Apparently, North Base got another pair of 1100s to replace the ones that went back to Bellevue Base.

  6. Unfortunately to “downtown Santa Monica” station is poorly placed. It would ideally be a couple blocks further north. Where it is situated it is basically on the far southern edge of downtown. The “subway to the sea” would have gone through the center of downtown Santa Monica. But it doesn’t look like that’s ever going to happen now. At least not in our lifetimes.

    1. Interesting. Just by looking at the census maps, that was my take as well (a lot more people to the north). Sometimes that is deceiving (lots of places have a lot of jobs but not as many people) but in this case it isn’t. That is unfortunate, but when frequency picks up, I think it will be fine. You will have to run connecting buses, but those buses (by themselves) should be very good, contribute to a nice grid, and have frequent service (although I don’t know what congestion issues they would have).

      1. Look at the bus & rail system map. There are already plenty of frequent local & rapid buses feeding the DTSM station from Wilshire, Santa Monica, Pico, Venice, and Lincoln boulevards.

      2. And I know the system map is a bit hard to read because it’s so abstracted. There’s a new map coming out soon that’s less distorted and shows more detail like my Seattle map.

  7. This is kind of a rant about Metro reroutes. Apparently today was something called the “Color Run”, which was some kind of private marathon event that closed 4th Ave downtown. Metro rerouted all buses off 3rd Ave onto 5th and 6th Ave. The reroute was supposed to last from start of service until 12PM. Unless you are a person who always checks the Metro alert page whenever you are about to board a Metro bus you would have no idea that this was happening. If you had found it, you are basically presented with a driver’s cue sheet, and have to understand Metro’s shorthand to interpret it.

    Fortunately I happened to be on a bus (26X) with a Metro trainer, who had the detailed reroute information available. Also fortunately, I have a habit of listening in on the Metro dispatcher chatter, and caught the announcement that the reroute was ending early at 10:30. The trainer told the trainee driver that since he had already started the reroute, it’s Metro policy to complete it.

    For everyone else, though, it means that there’s 90 minutes where you would have absolutely no idea where to catch your bus.

    What’s up with this? Seattle is the largest city I have ever lived in, and it seems we have a plethora of private events closing down our public streets, and Metro’s reroute information for them is both hard to find, and hard to understand when you do find it. Ideally, it seems the city should just tell private events that, no, we’re a grown-up city and don’t close down major arterials on a whim just so a handful of well-to-do people can frolic on them. Failing that, Metro needs to provide detailed, easy-to-understand reroute information, ideally with maps showing the temporary stops, and stick to the plan.

    1. This has been a major complaint of mine since the 1960s when Seattle was just a tiny city as opposed to the medium sized city it is today. Have these events in the stadia or at the Seattle Center and leave the streets to transit, peds, bikes, and (secondarily) to cars.

      1. I mean, there are some events where closing some streets is reasonable, right? I’d just limit downtown street closures to a few parades and a few classic running events per year. Stuff like “color runs” could be held somewhere like Myrtle Edwards (with a suitable bike detour provided, of course, which we should do for Hempfest, too) without losing much — for the color run it doesn’t matter much whether the distance is accurate or the course is laid out in a way that’s race-able; not so with the Seattle Marathon. And, of course, outside of downtown and a handful of other critical bus transfer points it’s really not such a big deal. Take the U District farmers’ market, for example — it’s along a significant bus route, but it’s not inherently an impossible disruption.

        The bus reroutes have to be applied consistently by their schedule and communicated better. That’s mostly on Metro.

      2. I’m not sure what the Color Run is or whether it’s really private, but prohibiting parades would probably run into freedom of speech issues.

      3. The “Color Run” isn’t a marathon, it’s a much shorter run (apparently 5k long). It’s a “private” event in the sense that any typical road race is private, which is that you need to sign up for it.

        Nobody in their right mind would put in all the work it takes to be able to run an actual marathon (26.2 miles, roughly the distance from Marathon to Athens, which is A Thing because back in the day a messenger bringing news from battle collapsed and died after running it) just to end up in a chaotic, noisy mess where they’re under group pressure to act happy and dance. Then again, this standard would equally indict “Rock and Roll” marathons, and for some stupid reason every city ends up with one of those, too. So maybe in the dystopia to come we’ll have 26 full miles of corn starch cannons fouling our city with forced mirth. Bah, humbug!

        @Mike: “Freedom of speech” has never meant, “Anyone holds whatever event they want wherever they want.” Except for Hempfest, because some judge was blinded by the blatant stoner logic that blocking Myrtle Edwards for a week once gave them “dibs” indefinitely. Bah, humbug!

      4. The Color Run is a for-profit event. It is not a traditional free speech event like an AIDS Walk, political demonstration, Trump rally, etc. Courts have always treated commercial speech with more restrictions than non-commercial speech. You can have reasonable restrictions on free speech, like not having protests foul up PM rush hour traffic, but banning them all day would cause issues. You can certainly tighten up commercial speech more to approved events, however.

  8. A few notable things about this project:

    1. The end-of-line station has three tracks. It always amazes me at how ST will promise the frequencies that they do with only two tracks at end stations.

    2. Part of the line runs through a higher end residential area between Santa Monica and Culver City. Adjacent to it is a trail path that is separated for bicyclists and pedestrians. It is curious that neighbors did not kill the rail project – and that the rail co-exists with a trail. While the line follows on old rail corridor, it is notable that there is a tacit acceptance of the rail-trail concept, unlike whiners about some corridors under discussion in our area.

    1. There are plenty of transit systems that maintain 2 min headways with just two tracks. I’m not saying ST can, I’m just saying it’s physically possible.

      1. That two-track capacity argument is what Muni In San Francisco believed in the 1970’s before it opened. Within 10 years, they were desparate to fix the problem.

    2. Northgate has tail and pocket tracks to store and reverse trains.

      Yeah, send the Kirkland “Save Our Trail” folks to LA for a weekend to see great examples of a busway with trail (Orange Line) and light rail with trail (Expo Line).

      1. Third tail tracks are good too. In this Santa Monica case, it appears that the tracks end at the station.

    3. The “whiners” of Kirkland are extreme-case hyper-litigious enemies of civilization. Before they were whipping people into a “Save our Trail” frenzy, they were suing to get the trail killed.

      1. “The Whiners of Kirkland”. Sounds like a Northwest band fronted by a Curt wannabe.

      2. “Kurt” not “Curt”. I typed that on an iPad and didn’t notice the autocorrect. Glad I reread it now.

    4. if you’re talking about the route through Cheviot Hills – many homeowners there did try and kill it. They threw everything they had at it, but failed. One reason is there were residents who organized to support the rail project. They lobbied local and state officials and made it clear that the NIMBYs did not speak for everyone.

      The other element is that Cheviot Hills is just one of many neighborhoods in an enormous city, whereas Kirkland is much smaller. Still, the key for Kirkland would seem to be the same: get local residents living near the trail who support rail to organize for it. That’s the only way it’ll work.

  9. I admittedly only have one person’s anecdotal view of this, but I feel like the new routing of the 67 has been an utter failure, especially Northbound.

    Through-routing it with the 65 and making it snake through south campus before finally meeting up with 11th just kills its reliability. During weekday peak, they’ll often run it as a single-length bus and so by the time it gets to 45th it’s already crushloaded and leaves people behind, effectively turning it into an every-half-hour bus between the U District and Northgate.

    And on Sundays? Past 45th street it can be anywhere from exactly on time to up to 15 minutes late. With buses that have 30-minute headways and sometimes aren’t equipped with real-time tracking, that makes it unreliable to the point of comedy.

    Whereas the 66 was pretty darn reliable, almost always were articulated buses, and were consistently able to be time-tracked by apps, this rider definitely feels like the new routing is a change for the much worse. I was toying with the idea of moving up to Northgate when my lease is up, but now I don’t dare.

    Feel free to talk me down if I’m alone in feeling this way.

    1. Ever since the restructure, I’ve noticed far more 3600s and far less 60-footers on pretty much all (North Base) U District routes. Maybe this is adequate for routes that actually had their frequency increased, but it isn’t on the 67, which only got a boost from having the 66 combined into it. Also, all buses have tracking; however, I’ve noticed over the last few weeks that OBA is failing to get the real-time info from many buses. Metro’s tracker tends to be more reliable, but its interface is a bit clunky.

      By the way, the 66 and 67 (and also 68) were almost completely through-routed before the restructure, so buses went 66->67->68 and vice versa, meaning they shared the same buses. I’ve noticed many people claiming that before the restructure the 66 had artics and the 67 did not; this is completely false.

      1. > I’ve noticed many people claiming that before the restructure the 66 had artics and the 67 did not; this is completely false.

        It’s quite possible I’m misremembering that. However, in the 10 years I had been using the 66/67 on a fairly regular basis, they were sometimes crowded but I can’t remember a time when it had to pass by a stop. It’s already happened to me so often since the restructure I don’t bother trying to get on during rush hour unless I walk south to board at campus parkway. That might be why I’m incorrectly remembering that the buses were bigger prior to.

        > Also, all buses have tracking; however, I’ve noticed over the last few weeks that OBA is failing to get the real-time info from many buses.

        I use the Transit app. It’s real-time info is usually pretty good, but even when it’s showing the little radio signal for the 67 (which means it thinks it’s getting real time tracking) it’s sometimes way off. I’m not entirely sure why. But trying to catch it northbound when it’s dropped to half-hour headways is miserable.

      2. I’ve also noticed more single buses coming through campus. The 372 is mostly articulated, but there seem to be more non-articulated 65/75 = 31/32/67 buses than before. I can’t speak to how crowded the 31 and 32 are, but the 75 can get really crowded leaving campus. Not as bad as the 67, 44, or 372, but still crowded. I think Metro underestimated how busy some of the campus routes would be post-restructure.

        Though as crowded as the 67 is, the 65 seems to be a much less crowded exception. I’m not sure if it’s because less people are going to Wedgwood / Jackson Park, or if it’s because the 65 was booted off-campus. Maybe that’s Metro’s justification – why use articulated buses on the 67 if they’re going to be half empty for the entire eastern half of the through-route?

    2. I agree with this statement. In particular, the 65 runs all the way from 145th St, often with a stop every block. It desperately needs stop consolidation. I feel that it might be better if the 67 and 65 were separated with turning loops at the station.

    3. Are you going downtown and back?

      The Northgate Roosevelt Eastlake BRT can’t come soon enough.

      1. No, U District to Northgate. Southbound to the U district has been buttery smooth so far, but getting up to Northgate is suddenly a real pain in the ass.

        I don’t exactly live in no-man’s land. I live just outside the heart of the U District, pretty much midway between the future U District and Roosevelt stations. The restructure was supposed to create easier access to things, but I feel like all it’s done is cut me off from more the city. Getting downtown is still a little miserable because buses crawl through the heart of the district on their way to Link and, as much as I don’t want to poo poo transfers, the transfer is just enough of a hassle to discourage me sometimes. Capitol Hill is still just as far away for the same reasons. Northgate used to be my preferred going shopping spot, but now it’s difficult to count on the 67 to get me there. And, though they haven’t gotten any worse, we all know the miserable state of East-West routes. Pretty much the only thing I can praise is the 45; it’s still slow, but the increased headways and reliability make Greenwood feel closer, which is cool.

        I wanted to be excited about this restructure. I lobbied all my friends about the benefits really hard but… I have to admit, if they don’t find ways to fine-tune this stuff it’s gonna be a long 5 years until North Link opens, I’ll tell you what.

      2. >> Capitol Hill is still just as far away for the same reasons.

        Doesn’t the increased frequency of the 49 help things? You still have a transfer, but it seems like a much better one. it is on the surface, and there is no detour on Pacific.

        I will say in general things got watered down quite a bit from the original plan. The 67 was supposed to be very frequent — now it isn’t. Operational concerns aside (and they sound like big ones) I think this makes a big difference. Sometimes extra buses make up for buses that are completely off the schedule (although sometimes they don’t).

      3. @RossB

        The increased frequency of the 49 really doesn’t matter because it’s actually less frequent than just hopping any bus on the ave and hitting the UW station, and they take about the same amount of time to get to Capitol Hill (within a reasonable margin of error). It’s a one-seat ride, which is nice, but has to contend with traffic and bridge crossings a bit more, so… it’s a difficult mental calculus choosing which one to pick. And because I don’t *have* to go to Capitol Hill for anything, that mental calculus often turns me off to the whole idea. So, Capitol Hill seems just as far away as it ever was, now with a bonus of route confusion.

    4. I used to ride the 66 occasionally, but to call the old 66 reliable seems more nostalgia than anything else. The former 66 would get out of downtown anywhere from on-time to 15 minutes late, and every once in awhile, a University Bridge opening would delay the bus by another several minutes. I haven’t ridden the new 67, so I can’t say whether or not its reliability is any better, but even if it’s bad now, it wasn’t so rosy before, either. It is disappointing, though, that the evening/Sunday schedule is still just one bus every 30 minutes.

      1. > but to call the old 66 reliable seems more nostalgia than anything else.

        You’re probably right. Memory is a funny thing. To be fair, I most often rode the 66 on Sundays, when traffic was overall very light, and it was usually very reliable then. Sunday service on the 67 by contrast… I have abandoned trips because the bus just didn’t seem to be coming.

        It’s entirely possible, though, that the gap between my expectation of improved Northgate service and what I’m actually getting is making the old 66/67 seem better than it was.

        > It is disappointing, though, that the evening/Sunday schedule is still just one bus every 30 minutes.

        Yeah, it’s weird. I mean, I know with Metro it’s always about budgets and trade offs, but you’d think a future light rail destination would get more love.

    5. Wow, interesting. I had big concerns about the 67, but for a different reason. I really hate the button hook. I felt like it would cause way too much delay. I know you pass by more people that way, but I didn’t feel like it was worth it. Putting aside my concerns over service hours (which may still be valid) it sounds like folks don’t mind the indirect routing. If, as you say ” Southbound to the U district has been buttery smooth so far”, then that worry was for naught. That isn’t the problem.

      It sounds like there are two problems. First, they aren’t running big enough buses. While annoying as hell, that seems like a good problem to have and an easy one to fix. It may be that this is simply more popular than they expected.

      The through routing is a tougher problem to solve. Splitting costs money. Where exactly is the delay occurring, anyway? Is it through campus, or before then? If there is much congestion through campus than the UW should really change their policies. It is crazy to think that we are thinking of tolling various areas around town, but driving through campus is essentially free (or very cheap). It seems to me that driving those roads should be free only for those with a disability sticker.

      If the congestion occurs outside campus, then the answer is to split the line, which isn’t cheap, but sometimes necessary. You could cut frequency (which would suck) or move the line over to 5th (as I want).

      1. The button hook doesn’t bother me so much because it’s only a problem if one’s ultimate destination is Northgate Transit Center. Those headed to anywhere in Roosevelt or Maple Leaf, even Northgate Mall, the route is pretty direct. If you drive through the area, there is really is a fair bit more dense housing along Roosevelt than along 5th. The transit center has nothing there except for connections to other buses, and, in many cases, it is possible to combine the 45 with a north/south bus for a more direct routing (e.g 45->5 or 45->E to go from the U-district to Shoreline). The 30-minute frequency evenings and Sundays, seems like a much bigger deal than this.

  10. I used to commute from Santa Monica to downtown. The train takes twice as long as the now removed freeway express bus.

    1. In 1997, the 434 bus was scheduled to make the trip from Downtown Santa Monica to 7th/Flower in 34 minutes in the AM peak, and 51 minutes in the PM peak.


      Really, this is where services like Lyft Line or carpooling may be relevant for time sensitive people. Rail transit provides a more reliable ride 98% of the time, but the 2% that it does fail (due to equipment malfunction, car crashing into train, suicidal people, etc.) it fails spectacularly.

      1. I think that 2% is a huge exaggeration. Are you saying that once every fifty days, the equipment malfunctions (or someone crashes into a train, etc) and service is stopped for an entire day? It’s more like once every 0.2%, at most.

        Though yes, there should be better backup plans for when that does happen.

      2. Amazing that the route was that fast 20 years ago.

        Your alternate history about Houston style freeways is interesting, but I’m not sure I agree. By the time of the aerospace decline, measure A and C were already in the books, and projects like the Green Line rail were under construction and the Blue Line had already opened.

        Either way, given the lackluster ridership on the Silver Line, as well as Commuter Express lines (and Houston’s freeway routes) – I think it’s clear the right decision was made.

      3. That’s not unusual when you look at any alerts system, for example do a search on the Metro Alerts twitter feed. https://twitter.com/search?f=tweets&vertical=default&q=expo%20from%3Ametrolaalerts&src=typd

        In the past 50 days, there’s been a delay due to police activity and signaling on May 9, single tracking due to disabled train on April 27 and April 19, police activity on April 18, single tracking due to signaling on April 17, train crash on April 13, disabled train on April 13, signaling on April 11, police activity on April 10, disabled train on April 4, shutdown due to power issue on March 27. Eleven non-scheduled incidents (tree trimming and maintenance don’t count) which provided at least 20 hours of delayed service. Sure buses break down on the street, but single tracking due to rail breakdown and police activity at stations (general consisting of suspicious packages/bomb threats) is endemic to rail.

      4. Meanwhile, in the last four weeks, ST Link had one hour-and-a-half delay due to a broken-down train, and one ten-minute delay due to an unspecified track blockage. You’re right that my guess looks unrealistically low, but I don’t think your LA figures are endemic to rail.

      5. Jonah, 40% of Prop C was for rail and bus and 25% was for transit related improvements on state highways (the HOV system). https://www.metro.net/about/financebudget/taxes/

        The Reasonites argue that the cost per new rider is too high, and operating rail is too expensive, especially since for two thirds of the service day you don’t need the capacities of rail. The HOT lanes would be self-funded through toll revenue, although you still have the capital cost of elevated highways, which would be comparable to the cost of light rail. A HOT system offboards the costs of transit stations to local jurisdictions, who have to maintain bus stops instead, and would require more flexible labor contracts or more part time workers to supply the peaky labor force which could be accommodated by standees on a train.

        Ultimately this is a theoretical exercise and is dependent on individual geographies. Seattle is probably better suited to rail due to the constraints caused by the lakes and the sound; Houston, being flat is probably better suited for the park and ride model, combined with robust bus service in the core.

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