It’s a beautiful day in Safetyville…unless you are a safety-ignorant stick figure, then you’d be an amusingly morbid lesson for all of us.

87 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Safetyville”

  1. I don’t think we’ve ever had a collision among our own vehicles in the DSTT. I do remember one passenger killed about 20 years ago. Fell or was edged off a crowded platform at Westlake and got run over.

    But now that crush train-loads are becoming regular order of business- seriously, incontrovertible proof of success beyond any ridership stat- it might be time for some attention to tragedy-prevention. Has anybody seen first-hand any near-misses, or other predictors?

    Mark Dublin

    1. I’m pretty sure if you ask any security staff they’ll have stories of people getting too close or I’ve even seen for myself people running across the roadway. So yes sadly it happens :(.

    2. When I said Seattle pedestrians have to be educated on how to walk defensively in crosswalks if we ever want to achieve Vision Zero, I was accused of blaming the vicim. When LA Metro makes a cutesie passenger educational video that goes viral, you all jump to your feet and give it a standing ovation.

      1. Sam, you don’t rate a single micro-byte for victim-blaming-shaming. Award goes to Hollywood for slur that voodoo makes poor Haitian workers become brain-eating monsters, ignoring the fact that Big Sugar’s ideal employee doesn’t eat anything.

        So in the name of fairness, every zombie movie should be called “The Dead Don’t Unionize!” Who do you want to play, Sam? The evil plantation owner Bela Lugosi did in “The White Zombie”?

        Or the customer in the opening scene confronting a barista about the finger that fell out of the sugar jar into his latte?


      2. pretty simple:
        Pedestrians obeying the rules and using legal crosswalks are in the right / victims

        People ignoring the rules and getting mutilated are not.

      3. Sometimes people drive through crosswalks without looking.

        Sometimes people step out into the road in dumb ways.

        Some crosswalks don’t give people a good chance to see eachother.

        We’re taught as kids that trains can’t stop — at least that’s what we’re taught in the Chicago area, where there are lots of trains. Then again, we’re also taught that cars can’t stop immediately, either, which is basically correct. The difference is one of degree, not kind.

      1. And it doesn’t have outrageously catchy earworm of a jingle.

        For something rather less sanitized (to stay the least) there’s always /The Finishing Line/ [warning, this is pretty disturbing] Apparently, it was controversial and soon replaced, but to my memory of growing up in seventies Britain, the graphic nature doesn’t really seem that out of the ordinary,

      2. You know, Glenn, it seems to me that the song that really should be Australia’s national anthem, carries a noble message of affection and knowledge of one’s country, its customs and its creatures.

        The most wonderful thing, though would be to imagine a solemn Australian national occasion, and a beautiful lady singing the last verse in a soaring soprano voice. Or a whole class of third graders.

        But since tomorrow is our Independence Day, I do think it’s time for a Constitutional Amendment that any public rendition of The Star Spangled Banner must sing all the verses.

        The third verse will automatically turn every child into a fiercely patriotic citizen, who all their lives will spring to their feet to sing our national anthem at every opportunity.

        And the more gorgeous the soprano, the more absolute terror she’ll strike into any would be enemy or the United States. Because no image in any war song in the world carries better the dire warning: “Be Sure You Wipe Your Feet!”

        Look it up.


    3. After games can get scary just north of Stadium Station. I continue to see drunkards see the train coming slowly, so they think it is okay to run across the track and beat it.

      1. They honestly should never have had an at-grade crossing at Stadium station let alone at SoDo. That could have allowed all automated running to Mount Baker for full frequency on that stretch. Those cost cutting measures cost minutes let alone cost frequency.

      2. It wasn’t just cost cutting. Folks there didn’t want elevated rail there (because of the noise). More than anything, it cost us frequency (not that six minute frequency is tragic — there are plenty of bus routes that would love to have that kind of problem).

      3. It cost you frequency until someone decides it is time to put tens of thousands of Link riders above several auto drivers.

        If TriMet can manage a train every two and a half minutes or so on surface track through northeast Portland, one intersection of which is a freeway off ramp and two others are four lanes northbound and four lanes southbound of highway 99E, I really don’t see why there are these limits on Link. It should not be that difficult to plan traffic light sequences that include into their planned sequence that trains sometimes pass through and thus light times will need adjustment.

        At some point, the planning around maximum auto throughput is going to have to change.

  2. I’ve been noticing a number of 3-car LINK trains this weekend. Is it a part of a plan to cope with independence day demands without boosting the frequency?

    1. It’s part of a plan to cope with general crowding.for weekend events and weekday commuting. ST increased the percentage of 3-car trains in the mix, then a week ago it increased them again.

    2. It appears all the trains are 3 cars today. The one I just took north shortly after first pitch an hour ago had about half the seats filled on the third car. Consistency is starting to spread the load.

  3. If there was ever a ‘weirdest location for a bus stop’ contest I would nominate the one at Fishermen’s Terminal. Instead of being close to the main entrance, it is as far away from it as it could possibly get, in a godawful unsafe-feeling location that has neither bench nor shelter. Only good thing about it is that there is a really good coffee roastery near the westbound stop.

    1. (Disclaimer: I just moved here, so my knowledge of bus stop quality throughout Seattle is heavily skewed).

      I would say that the 8 bus stop going east at Denny/Westlake is pretty weird. The bus shelter has a wall on the side facing the road, so good luck getting seen by a bus driver. You can’t if a bus is coming from inside or outside the shelter, either, because the steep hill means that trees block your sightline past five feet in front of you, and peeking your head out might get you decapitated by a car speeding down Denny. And on top of all that it’s located directly under a ventilation vent for the building next to it, so you can get all that nice dirty vent air from Whole Foods.

      The immediate area is nice, but the bus stop is very clearly an afterthought.

      1. A number of stops have walls facing the street, my former local stop at Fremont/41st among them. I don’t know what the logic is with that.

        As for Fisherman’s Terminal, I have to figure that at some point the city didn’t want a stop at 19th for traffic reasons… they might see it differently today.

      2. Someone from SDOT explained to me that they face backwards because some sidewalks are narrow enough that that is the only way to fit the foundation and footing of the shelter while maintaining adequate sidewalk distance.

  4. Question now isn’t length of trains. It’s that the game-day Friday nights of the past are now going to be pretty much standard loads. And double when next University District Station opens. Future 4-car trains will be same passenger experience as today’s 2-car ones.

    Serving platforms small by industry standards, and elevators and escalators with mechanical endurance of a gumball machine. We should probably sue, re-bid, and rebuild. But from here on, most critical real security will be in supervising passengers moving themselves on and off trains.

    Where to stand, when to wait, when to proceed. How to scope out which door to go for. Over time, passengers will learn by experience pretty much how to stay out of each others’ and the trains’ way.

    But meantime, as in any situation where it’s vital to coordinate with several hundred other people, some drill is in order. Swear in, as Deputy Sheriffs, an equal number of ten years old girls and border collies. Both groups with proven credentials, aptitude, and instinct for guiding creatures in the direction their own survival requires.

    Note to the Sheriff, however: While both of these sets of officers will nip, only one will frequently bite. Survey of any emergency room tells the story by recorded teeth-marks on little brothers. Which is less painful to the little boy than fact that Mom will believe her when she tells on him.

    Even worse knowing she’ll get a half hour’s pay at time and a half for five minutes’ filling out the incident report that he had it coming because he’s a brat. The dog loves him anyway for free.

    Mark Dublin

  5. Why are Rider Alert messages so vague/untimely/useless?

    One day last week I grabbed my regular southbound 120 on 3rd avenue. I had a hunch something was up when it took us over 10 minutes and several light cycles just to make the right turn onto Columbia (because the intersection is not built for 60′ buses to make the turn directly into the bus lane, and SOV’s were blocking the box). after 20 minutes of crawling through the SR99 onramp and merge lane, I could see the reason why – a multicar wreck with emergency services on scene, blocking the the left lane at the south end of the Viaduct. Once we squeeze past, the highway opens up, driver puts the hammer down, everything’s cool, I gripe to myself that I could have avoided this with at least 3 different alternate routing if I’d known, and then put it out of my mind so I won’t rage.

    A half-hour later, as we’re rolling past Holden street, my phone jingle-jangles…. Rider alert! Blocking on the viaduct, route 120 et al. delayed, expect delays / use alternate routes! Oh, now you tell me.

    Another story:
    Just a couple days ago, my northbound 120 is crossing the West Seattle Bridge, and my phone jingle-jangles. I freak out, assuming the worst, blocking on the Viaduct, and I just missed my last chance to transfer to the 50 and avoid it. But no, it’s this message from Sound Transit:

    Link light rail service is temporarily interrupted due to a blockage on the tracks.

    Updates will be provided as information becomes available.

    Your patience is appreciated.

    At this point, I’m only a few minutes away from transferring onto northbound Link, and this Rider Alert has raised more questions than it answers. Where is the blocking? Which direction? If the northbound tracks are blocked somewhere in the rainier valley, is there a chance I can still catch one of the last trains that got past before the tracks were blocked? Or will I just be standing on the platform with the rest of the knuckleheads, wondering what’s happening? I compulsively spam the refresh button on my phone, hoping for some sort of clarifying update, but none comes.

    In the end I decide not to risk it, and find a 70 stop to wait at instead of going underground. Luckily a second Rider Alert comes with the all-clear before I actually board a 70, and I head into the tunnel, my schedule cushion consumed, but still able to make it to my destination on time.

    So is there any hope for improving these messages?

    1. I will second your comment about the rider alerts from ST on interruptions on Light Rail service as they don’t tell you anything other then there is a problem but no information on what the problem is, where it is and how the problem is interrupting service. In some ways ST might as well not bother sending out these messages

      1. I always just move all ST alerts to my ST Drawer. Just keeping track in case a transit-oriented election is a close one.

        And the ST Board official I want to defeat got the Congressional at Benghazi and made sure all their pathetic escapades were on their official computer, not their private ones.

        System can’t argue with documented lost operating time at taxpayers’ expense, though admittedly this is distant second to using bus fareboxes in the DSTT. Which is why they just ignore both.

        Might help if every single schedule delayed over every farebox argument had its own ALERT every single time.

        Except remember that Seinfeld episode where the Russian dissident enraged by Elaine renaming the Dostoevsky novel “War! Vot is it good for? (UGH!) Absolutely Nothing!” threw a phone, or maybe it was a tape recorder, out the window and hit somebody?

        Alerts, Vot Are They Good For….?


      2. Their rider communications definitely need some work. I get that they can’t share EVERY detail but they are so vague that they are unhelpful. At least give me enough information that I can make a somewhat informed decision about if I should take the 7/find a Car2Go or just wait it out.

        The most annoying though is when I am in the tunnel and they announce that buses aren’t currently using the tunnel and to catch a bus to Stadium but then a train pulls up.

    2. I get the Link alerts after I’m home in the evening reading my email. I come home to four or six messages that are obsolete and not anywhere near where I was that day. Sometimes I wonder why I subscribe to them. But as for immediate text messages, sometimes they aren’t always immediate,. I sometimes get text messages several hours or days after they were sent. So the problem may be in the phone network rather than in ST.

      1. I unsubscribed from text message alerts once I got a smartphone, because they’d be duplicates of the e-mail alerts I had already recieved on the same device a couple minutes earlier.

        At least with Gmail on an android device, using a T-mobile based MVNO, I tend to get my e-mail within 30 seconds of it being sent.

        I know this because if I make an online purchase from my desktop computer, my phone will jingle-jangle with the receipt email BEFORE it pops up in the gmail browser window on my computer.

      2. Horrible incident a few months back when a Doctors Without Borders hospital and its staff got incinerated because one of our gunship crews let an Afghan warlord override standing practice only to fire at a target the gunners could see.

        Considering consequences expanding as rapidly as our service now, it could save us grief, litigation, convicted officials and dead passengers to give our own communications same capability. And orders.

        Pepper-spray incident this last week ago was a warning that might not be repeated. In a confined space with steep stairways, casualties can easily outnumber the obliterated hospital if nobody actually watching the scene is giving directions for dealing with the danger. Including truthfully complete lack of it.

        We’ve got cameras, don’t we? And staff budget for use when Seattle Fire Department sends us upstairs ’til we’ve got eyes on the prize, guided by brains. Stampedes probably out-kill terrorists. Proving that boxing rematches between girls who could’ve each decked Muhammad Ali are over-matched for attention by other security matters.

        Also that transit cultivates and makes welcome Seattle Times reporters, but makes it clear that transit security decisions aren’t editorial ones. Which are even worse than average Afghan warlord. Been years since I’ve bought a copy. Anybody got a favorite comic they want back?

        Mark Dublin

      3. Maybe it’s more voicemails that come late rather than text messages. I don’t get many text messages, partly because I discourage people from sending them. “If you want to talk to me, call me.”

    3. How difficult would it be to integrate alerts into One BusAway?

      PDXBus does this, and it’s nice because you see the alert notification emblem when you check the arrival time.

      1. OneBusAway already supports alerts in other cities like Washington, DC.

        The problem is that Metro and Sound Transit publish their alerts in RSS, not GTFS-RealTime, so it’s not usable by OBA. TriMet has an alerts feed in GTFS-RT.

      2. Since Sound Transit effectively is responsible for OneBusAway development, they could fix that I suppose.

  6. ‘Way behind the curve on this one, because the cell phone I bought precisely because it still has keys is about as useful for modern communications as a can on a string. Back when cans weren’t aluminum yet and the green beans our of them tasted like WWII and were not organic.

    But isn’t there something like Twitter except not for shaming people or bragging about mass murder in advance, but so people can share transit information? With little emoticons, and also + for on-time arrival and – for usual? Maybe lateness-and-uselessness-shaming is ok. A lot of us have learned to accept the challenges we were given and take credit for our heroic struggle with them.

    Just curious.


    1. Twitter is one method TriMet uses to send out its alerts. Pretty much any phone can display those. It’s just a text message. If you can display a phone number, you can display a text message – unless you’re using a 1960’s era neon tube display or something. Anything that old won’t work with the current cell phone towers.

  7. Our horrible land use practices in Portland are starting to have results noticed by the Oregonian. Average home prices are now over $400,000. Now if only they would stop pushing for more sprawl.

    1. What’s wrong with sprawl? “Sprawl destroys nature.” So why is housing destroying nature any worse than busways destroying nature? “Good point, Sam.” I know.

      – Sam & Strawman

      1. Busways and light rail consume less land then freeways, and encourage more density, thus saving a net amount of land.

      2. There’s only so many people that are willing to drive an hour or more to get to work.

        So, sprawl limits the amount of housing close to everything else. The price of that housing goes up due to the demand.

    2. Glenn, I always hesitate to bring real estate prices into transit discussions. Like with certain candidates, their every mention makes them act, and smell, stronger and worse. However, it’s life and death for transit to understand the forces that are filling our highways with refugees.

      Same effect on living patterns and transit as a match thrown into an east wind from Snoqualmie Summit. The work-driven sweat of a healthy economy doesn’t send this many people to the burn ward. How much of that $400,000 is market grade worth, and how much smells like the financial equivalent of “Condemned for Salmonella?”

      “Sprawl” has always carried slack and lazy sense, resentful of constraints, like urban growth boundaries and transit lanes. But anybody who’s ever done range-land firefighting: What’s the term for the type of wildfire with the most dangerous explosive energy behind it at every level?

      So good chance people who sprawled politically toward a relaxed life won’t fight as hard for the one that chased them out under pressure. Likewise, if capitalists (Karl Marx demanded them so there could be Socialism!) had wanted to take orders from gamblers, like kings, earls, and dukes for instance, the Scots would’ve saved themselves the expense of the Industrial Revolution.

      It’s been kind of pathetic watching actual Republicans trying against all their grain to be Democrats, hoping their stately pin-striped traditional clothing wouldn’t mark them. Their contributions and examples, Metro Transit, for instance, have earned them the right to their own party, either saving the current one, or building another one. Like the one that won Round One of the Civil War.

      So that’s point of my question, Glenn. Horticultural fact about California trees that need fire to survive: ‘Tis an ill congflagration that burns no Bristlecone pine-cones.


      1. There is a lot near SE 12th and Hawthorne used to store dead vending machines. Nearby there are a couple of 10 floor or so apartment buildings dating from the 1920s to 1950s. The demand is there for something different. The land use is not.

  8. Nested in the ST3 document library are some interesting performance data for ST3. Some of these data show how good the investments inside Seattle are (such as much better travel time and reliability), but others show either limited benefit (Table 4 total transit trips growing by only 10 percent) or have no comparable data (Table 5 Lunk boardings with and without ST3 not shown).

    Other observations?

    1. ST3 spends enormous sums of money to extend rail to the ends of the ST taxing district, but one has to ask if we’ll be better or worse off at the end of it.
      Our population will grow from 2.9m to 3.7m in the district – Or about a 20% increase. (ST3)
      Using PSRC data for 2014 of 3.75 trips per person per day, that’s about 14m trips per day by 2040.
      Now, ST3 Appendix C shows transit at 390k trips per day (all agencies), increasing to 797k with ST3 and 725k without it.
      So transit’ mode share is currently at 4% of all trips in the ST district (all agencies combined) and will increase to 5.2% of all trips without ST3, or 5.7% after spending another $54b.
      A half point bump for all that spending by the 94% of the population making trips that won’t be using it seems like a hard sell come November.
      And yes, Seattle is doing very well providing transit to commuters to the CBD in the commute peak hours. It’s all the other trips, in all the other areas, in all the other hours of the day that gets the short straws

      1. Why is ST3 the way it is? Because people identify the biggest transportation problem as freeway congestion. Whether or not it makes the biggest objective difference (by what measure?), people find it the most visible and the most aggravating. They also see it as the best fit for transit, because there are trainloads of cars going the same direction at the same time, as opposed to neighborhoods where a few cars are going every which direction. You may disagree with some or all of this view, but it’s how the majority of Pugetopolans see it (they are also drivers and live in transit-unfriendly neighborhoods). So in a democracy where people vote for their representatives and vote on transit projects, what do you get? A mandate to reach the largest cities in every subarea, or in other words the spine. In this environment, the fact that it only increases transit’s mode share from 5.2% to 5.7% may seem irrelevant to a lot of voters: what they care about is they can imagine it running the same direction as the freeway, bypassing traffic. It may be only 0.5% but it’s the biggest bang for the buck as far as they see it, and something they might use if not five days a week then a few times a year, which is more than they can say for other transit routes.

        (As we see in a Community Transit parallel in Snohomish County. In the 2008 recession CT had to cut and asked residents whether to (A) delete weekend service, (B) shrink the Seattle express network to increase local frequency, or (C) keep the express network intact but reduce local frequency and delete Sunday. The majority said to keep the Seattle expresses because that’s what the saw as the biggest value for their CT taxes. So CT did. King County would not have been so one-sided but Snohomish County is. Or as one of their politicians said, the majority of Snohomans work in King County, and a large percent of Snohomish workers live in King County. So it’s all about the express routes baby, and, not about taking a bus to Fred Meyer. Now CT has a long-range plan with an impressive frequent grid and six Swift lines, but it’s predicated on Link taking over the express service so the CT hours can be redeployed.)

        I would much prefer a subway like Forward Thrust, with more inner destinations between Renton, Lake City, West Seattle, and Redmond, which might lead to a larger number of walkable housing choices and work choiices. But that vision falls flat outside North King. That leads to a much larger issue than transit: Why are the suburbs so screwed up? And screwed up so badly that they actually want a spine, and a light rail spine at that. The political wranglings have mostly been about cities that didn’t get Link in ST1 or 2 want to make sure they get it in 3. But we can’t fix the suburbs so easily. All we can do is improve them incrementally, and at least extend high-capacity transit to where 2.5 million people (2/3 of the population) already live. Because a mostly-Seattle solution in a regionwide vote would be voted down in a heartbeat. And even with the Spine Seattle gets the most of it, with half the total stations and a second tunnel, because they can’t ignore the fact that downtown Seattle is the crossroads of everything and the largest single destination for everyone.

      2. Also, because people don’t understand the importance of the local transportation network at each end of the trip.

        Freeways worked in the 1950s because they were preceded by 40 years worth of the “good roads movement” to get the local connections working. Interstate 5 would be vastly less useful if everyone using it faced a walking speed crawl on unimproved dirt horse wagon tracks to get to and from it.

        People don’t see that the local service to get to and from the regional service is a vital part of the regional service.

      3. I can’t fault either logic about how we got to ST3 and won’t try. Politicians hate being in the middle of controversy (OK, most, Donald aside) so grab for solutions that seem to poll well.
        Building a rail system to the extremes means Link cars are nearly empty at all hours of the day in those areas, except for the peak hours in the peak direction when the capacity is utilized. All those empty Link cars have an hourly cost, and the meters keep ticking regardless. Shrinking transit size is as hard as increasing it during peak hours.
        Now, are we utilizing our freeway ROW’s efficiently to move bodies? That’s a whole different discussion, but I’d start with HOV reluctance to increase from 2+ to 3+ as an indicator that those same politicians hate controversy.
        Try using the I-5 reversible lane ROW for all day busways going both directions, as was touted when they began.
        Gutless leaders give us HCT lines from Issaquah to S.Kirkland P&R and skyhigh operating cost models for future tax payers to burden, Oh, and 10’s of billions in future debt payments long beyond 2040 for the extra 1/2 % bump in ridership.
        Al S. is asking if the ST3 juice is worth the squeeze. Your voters will have to decide.

      4. Building a rail system to the extremes means Link cars are nearly empty at all hours of the day in those areas, except for the peak hours in the peak direction

        There’s something seriously wrong with light rail planning that has the full cars leaving your DT core at the morning commute! Nobody would be ST3pid enough to do that, would they?

        Gutless leaders give us HCT lines from Issaquah to S.Kirkland P&R and skyhigh operating cost models for future tax payers to burden

        Favorite trick of politicians, pass along the tax hit as far into the future as possible. 2nd favorite trick, actually do/build as little as possible while in office to avoid controversy and allow the flexibility to keep changing what you promised.

      5. ‘Filling the System’ from the extremes ensures trains are filling up, starting out in the AM and the opposite, returning for the evening. Metro does this with many bases, as a mature Link system will do to. My point was that as the system gets further from the CBD, ridership falls off. Link to Moses Lake would be fine until Issaquah, then you would wish you only had one car and not 4 car consists..
        Bart suffers a lot from this.

      6. My point is that Link/Rail to Tacoma or Everett makes sense when there is sufficient demand that people are going to Tacoma and Everett. The “spine” would be fine if it was the result of naturally overlapping systems. It’s not and neither Tacoma or Everett is posturing that it will build their DT. In fact it doubles down on securing their status as bedroom communities. Everett at least was happy to get the naval home port. Tacoma seems to be all NIMBY about any development that capitalizes on their inherent advantages; alcohol and LNG production faculties come to mind.

      7. “Building a rail system to the extremes means Link cars are nearly empty at all hours of the day in those areas, except for the peak hours in the peak direction when the capacity is utilized. All those empty Link cars have an hourly cost, and the meters keep ticking regardless”

        The same thing applies to the freeways: all this excess capacity off-peak, it was a waste to build it. Except that nowadays the freeways are often full mid-day, even Sundays. And so is the 512. So Link will have riders then too. And ridership has been going up everywhere in the transit system the past five years. And our biggest problem the past fifty years has been too little transit, which was a large factor in creating the sprawl in the first place because people didn’t have any incentive to concentrate near stations. If we now err on the side of too much transit for once, that’s not a bad thing. Even if it’s a waste, it’s a better waste than the other things we’re subsidizing. And it may prove to be more used than your pessimistic predictions predict. Seattle is going through a rapid population increase now, who predicted that ten years ago? It’s lucky we approved ST1 and 2 in the 90s and 00s, now that Seattlites are rapidly being outpriced from the city, and it will accelerate if we don’t crank up the amount of housing. Now again we have the choice of possibly overbuilding transit or letting it remain underbuilt. In twenty years we may be glad we chose the “overbuild” option.

      8. Thank you Mike, I wish some of these people whining about ST3 on the right and on the left would ride the 510 or 512 with me instead of bellyache. Especially since most of us in the STB Commentariat are supposed to support transit with vigor and passion, not sit back from a Ballard coffee shop and whine.

        I swear I think the Chief Planner-Engineer of Sound Transit should say in her best Captain Janeway impression every single comment against ST3 on this blog means she will make Ballard wait one more year for light rail. Ballard doesn’t create and keep jobs, Paine Field does. Tacoma does. Sound Transit does and no Sound Transit, no high capacity transit expansion. That’s our reality.

        If I had my way, ST3 would be different. But the reality is that ST3 in 2020 would be much smaller and be much more Bus Rapid Transit, with little to any light rail expansion. ST4 won’t have the east-west trusses Sound Transit should also be building for Seattle – not to mention an expansion to Everett Community College and something to Olympia & Marysville. Seattle Subway will no longer be credible, the Sound Transit planning staff will ex-filtrate in December, and because Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff is not expendable due to his federal connections that’s where the backlash for a ST3 failure will go. Goodbye light rail expansion. Goodbye passion for transit, too.

        It’s time for the political left to rally around ST3. Please.

      9. The same thing applies to the freeways: all this excess capacity off-peak, it was a waste to build it.

        A straw man argument. The Interstate system was built for long distance transport. They damn near sunk the freight rail system in this country. The freeways have bi-directional travel all hours of the day and night and it’s not a stretch to say our economy would collapse without it. Link to Everett and Tacoma doesn’t exist and outside of a dream that it would even make a dent in the peak capacity limitations of our roads there’s no reason anybody even suggests building it. However, like the freeways and the WSF system it becomes a sprawl enabler.

      10. I just got back from the bar. I chatted with a guy about ST3 and transit in general. At some point, we came upon the subject that everyone wonders about: Why is the ST3 plan so messed up?

        I basically told him that it reminded me of the Iraq war. Obviously it doesn’t have the profound implications of that conflict. But the stupidity surrounding the decision is analogous and the questions remain unanswered. Was it the result of Condi Rice’s hubris — her arrogant, upper crust driven belief that Central Europe (her area of expertise) is just like the Middle East? Was it the result of Dick Cheney and his petroleum military industrial complex (which the greatest general/Republican President of the 20th century warned us about — although even he didn’t call out the the oil aspect)? Was it Donald Rumsfeld with his oh so confident number crunching (out in six months — no more than 50 billion dollars)? My guess is — like many problems in the world — it was multi-factorial. Every one of those elements was a factor in the decision to go to war. But ultimately, does it matter? Who really cares why the administration was so stupid?

        I should back up here and mention that my neighbor at the bar had the same opinion of Seattle transit that many have in this town. It is great for getting to downtown. But for getting around — neighborhood to neighborhood — it sucks. It simply takes too long.

        Which is why i don’t buy Mike’s argument (although it is a sound one). I think it is just one of many factors. I’m sure frustration over commuting congestion played a part in the ST3. So too does symbolic improvements in transit. It is nice to have a good looking map. Miles and miles of transit sound really nice. You can look at the thing and think “Wow, most of the city — hell, most of the region — is covered. It goes almost everywhere! Tacoma, Everett, West Seattle, Ballard (AKA Northwest Seattle). No matter where you live, you really aren’t that far from the train!

        Was it that, or was it a function of the process. The spine had to be completed … just because. West Seattle rail is part of the plan because West Seattle is “next” and rail because, well, rail is just better (duh).

        Like the Iraq War, I really don’t care that much. I only know that there was no wide spread polling to determine which trips were more important than others (sorry Mike). There certainly was no wide spread, technical analysis to determine whether the projects of ST3 were really the most cost effective ones we could make. Far from it. Give a half dozen transit planners a month to come up with a system that saves the most time per dollar spent and they sure as hell wouldn’t come up with ST3. Even if you started with the basic, flawed assumption of ST3 –subarea equity, service improvements to West Seattle and Ballard over other, more productive regions — you still wouldn’t come up with this mess. Here are some key points: They never studied a bus tunnel. They never studied Kirkland BRT. Despite obvious alternatives handed to them, they never bothered to study them. They were so fixated on rail in all the wrong places that they ignored alternatives, and they pursued a plan that looks great on a map, but really won’t work well when it is finally built.

        Because being “not that far from the train” doesn’t matter unless you have the details right. Like the architects of the Iraq war, they are either counting on people being ignorant, or they are ignorant themselves. As Glenn said, people don’t understand the importance of the local transportation network at each end of the trip. They assume that local trips will take care of themselves, just as they do with freeways. I don’t blame people who think this way — unlike the guy sitting next to me at the bar, they don’t have time to think about all of this. But history has shown — in this very city — that bus to rail interaction must be designed well from the beginning. The local transit agency (Metro in this case) can only do so much. They can’t patch up the sloppy interface thrown at them by Sound Transit. There is no bus restructure for those folks in Seattle whose addresses include “East” that could possibly fully take advantage of the multi-billion dollar light rail line so close to their doorstep. The vast majority are left out in the cold, thinking that light rail just works like that, despite ample evidence in numerous cities to the contrary. I suppose — like their neighbors to the south — they were just used to it. If you can’t make the connection between Link and the Metro 7 work, then why should you expect light rail to interface with 23rd or First Hill?

        So we are left with a proposal that serves only a handful of people for only a handful of trips, despite being an enormous amount of money. Oh, well, we (as a people) have made much worse mistakes.

      11. RossB;

        As somebody who is about to take out an AIRBNB to the east of the light rail spine in the Rainier Valley for four Seafair airshow days… as to;

        There is no bus restructure for those folks in Seattle whose addresses include “East” that could possibly fully take advantage of the multi-billion dollar light rail line so close to their doorstep. The vast majority are left out in the cold, thinking that light rail just works like that, despite ample evidence in numerous cities to the contrary. I suppose — like their neighbors to the south — they were just used to it. If you can’t make the connection between Link and the Metro 7 work, then why should you expect light rail to interface with 23rd or First Hill?

        I agree this needs fixing. Dammit. Now.

        Dow Constantine needs to hire some bright guy to run King County Metro who takes names, kicks a** and has on his or her wall some inspirational, aspirational posters. We need to make light rail rock dammit. Nothing more or less than Super Bowl effort.

        We’re going to win better transit! ST3 is not building light rail to Buttheadad. ST3 is building SEXY light rail to replace congested, full buses along I-5 and so much more!

  9. Is OneBusAway run by Sound Transit? Contact info lists ‘onebusaway@soundtransit’
    For some reason I thought it was Metro who took it over from the UW guys.

  10. This being Sunday in NE Seattle, I was reminded again how rider-unfriendly the Sunday bus schedule is. From U-Village in both directions, the bus schedule has all buses arriving within 5 minutes of each other. Towards UW, the 32/67 come at the same time, away from UW, the 65/75 come at the same time. Why does Metro schedule buses like that? Seems like it would maximize the time people are waiting at bus stops. At the least, it means on Sundays, Link–>65–>75 is not a viable low-walking way to get from downtown to Sand Point.

    And yes, I know it’s impossible to make every transfer good. If every 65 was moved 10 minutes later, that might un-stagger when the 67/75 leave Northgate, or connecting between any of those buses and the 62.. But it’s still frustrating when a major destination like U-Village has effectively 1 total bus every 30 minutes.

  11. When you ride the 26X northbound, this is the message at each stop. “Route 26 to Northgate Transit Center with ORCA Card vending machines; East Green Lake.”

    Only, there is no ORCA Card vending machine at the Northgate Transit Center. Having heard the message, we went to the Northgate Transit Center to use the ORCA card vending machine (we had our kids in town and figured they should have ORCAs to be able to get to Pride last Sunday from the 32 without having to pay twice). Where the machine should be is a sign telling us it would be out of service for a short time. There is no actual machine. Someone has written on the space next to it in Sharpie, “3 Months!” That means there has not been an ORCA card vending machine at that location for the ENTIRE TIME the 26X has gone to Northgate.

    I’m sorry, but that’s pretty obnoxious. Giving out false information (and I spoke to a 26X driver and he admitted, yes, he heard the “with ORCA Card vending machine” in his sleep) is a really bad idea. This shouldn’t be a difficult fix until the machine is returned (assuming it ever is).

    1. It has been gone for more than three months– seems like at least six. Electronic display board listing bus arrival times has also disappeared. Ditto snack bar. Not a pleasant place to wait for the bus any more.

    2. Write to Metro. This same kind of think happened at Convention Place station, the audio annoucenemnts talked about trains even though there are no trains there. When we brought it to ST’s attention, they eliminated the train messages.

      1. Done that. Whenever I send them an e-mail about a concern I immediately get a very nice acknowledgment letter saying they will get back (but that never happens:(

  12. I’d be curious if the Seattle area transit service ridership could support a Metro free newspaper like they have in Vancouver, Boston, NYC, Philadelphia and Toronto.

    Clearly we could use an alternate to the Seattle Times and I’m sure it would have more content in it anyway. Our transit is largely stuck in traffic so that’s plenty of time to read. Entirely targeting transit riders, it’s fair to say would be pro transit too. These papers, I understand, are the only print newspapers that are success in this time.

  13. Listen I’m going to rant for a bit. This is aimed at the sniping from the left at ST3.









    [comment policy whining]

    1. The idea of Skagit, Thurston, and Kitsap entering ST is a subject of my nightmares. Until and unless subareas are allowed to set different tax rates, I want them as far away as possible.

      Sadly, the current ST3 plan – I fear – will do very little to make transit more popular. This is a great loss; we had potential to do so with the WSTT, the Ballard-UW line, the BRISK BRT, the transit-only Montlake bridge, and other such plans. And – given that it’s “Dow Constantine and many stars of Sound Transit” who cooked statistics to throw away those good plans (let alone losing us more Capitol Hill stations, losing us more Ballard stations, and almost losing us 130th St Station) – I think losing them might be a positive to transit.

      What’s the alternative? I don’t know. But something is going to have to change eventually; why not now before we waste millions of dollars?

      1. William c;

        Now that I’ve given my “pund the table speech”, I’m going to listen and ask questions.

        As to, “The idea of Skagit, Thurston, and Kitsap entering ST is a subject of my nightmares. Until and unless subareas are allowed to set different tax rates, I want them as far away as possible” I don’t think that’s going to happen. But there are plans to partner with those counties’ transit agencies being drawn up. I agree on tax rates. I don’t want Skagitonians paying the same tax rate as Seattle for transit quality Skagitonians can’t get due to lack of density.

        As to, “Sadly, the current ST3 plan – I fear – will do very little to make transit more popular.” I disagree. I’m excited at the ideal of over 100 miles of high capacity, grade separated transit – that will also free up bus service hours to serve more housing. Think about it.

        As to your list of projects, let me just say I wanted light rail to Everett Station faster at the price of BRT to Paine Field. But most of Snohomish County won’t support ST3 without light rail to the Boeing Factory – it’s an economic issue to the future of Paine Field industry. I hope folks in Seattle realize this and play ball that we’re all truly in this state & pro-transit together.

        I get mad when I see this divisive Seattle vs. Rest-Of-Washington on transit. The only transit project I want replaced is the Sounder North I use occasionally and the only transit project I’m now skeptical is the Seattle Streetcar. But I hope we can find means to get along… and support ST3.

      2. Replying to William first:

        I rather agree with you… It seems like Sound Transit has stuck by the original monorail plans for inside-the-city transit with the diligence of the inevitable. If the population or ridership or political will just wasn’t there 30 years ago, well that’s just too bad. It’s one reason why in-city neighborhoods like the Central District and Lake City won’t see transit while most of us are still alive. And, disappointingly, paying for Sound Transit consumes so much of local limited taxing authority that I fear that the “Seattle can just pay for its own needs” plans will fall flat (either afoul of state law or of voters’ willingness to say yes).

        On the other hand, is there a realistic chance that Sound Transit will be able to come up with a plan that better serves the 700,000 of us in the city and pass in the rest of the Sound Transit district? I don’t know. Much like Brexit, the uncertainty tells me to vote in favor of the status quo–so “Yes on ST” has become my personal “Remain.”

        And now Joe:

        I think that Sound Transit 3 will make the idea of transit more popular. People in Everett and the rest of Snohomish County can look at it and say “oh, neat, I will totally ride that in just under two decades” but only a small percentage of them ever will. The timeframes are too long, the service too limited, and the coming changes in the region too unpredictable. But I don’t see where voting “no” gets me anything better.

      3. Well said William.

        Joe, your opinion of this project is like many who support it — bases on its size, not its content. Ask yourself, Joe, if you would support any plan. How about light rail from Maltby to Milton? Is that worth funding, because it is “HIGH CAPACITY TRANSIT” and “A REAL OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE TRANSIT TRULY POPULAR”?

        This is just a poorly designed project, from start to finish. In every region, the wrong decisions were made. This ignores the last mile problem (the local transportation problem Glenn described so well up above — It ignores years and years of similar projects in similar areas. It just won’t work well. Very few people will use it, because it won’t be able to provide sufficient end to end transit service. Spending an enormous amount of money on projects that provide so little benefit are hard to justify. As a great Republican once put it, that is simply a terrible bang for the buck.

      4. RossB;

        I perceive as a North by Northwest brat ST3 as a means to replace crowded I-5 spine buses with high capacity grade-separated transit from Everett to Seattle, via Paine Field. I am currently lobbying hard various planning departments to make damn sure there is a transit link from the passenger terminal to other transit facilities.

        I hope folks realize you can either sit in your single occupancy vehicle or park it and ride transit, having time to work on higher functions like classes, e-mail, social media and the like. To me, that’ll make transit more popular.


      No. Is this true? STB hasn’t covered these counties much so maybe it should do some resarch. You’re our man in north Snohomish and Skagit so maybe you can dig up some specifics there. In any case, adding these counties is a complex issue, and probably different for each county. ST3 itself is a complex issue, and adding the counties on top of it would be too many moving parts, so I think we need to treat expansion as a separate longer-term issue.

      The main thing I’m worried about is ST becoming like the European Union. The EU started as a five-country bloc containing Germany and France and their closest neighbors for the purpose of (A) preventing another war like WWII, and (B) eliminating inefficiencies that the US and Canada don’t have; e.g., having to stop for passport checks every hundred miles, having to change currency and pay a middleman for it, tarriffs on intra-European goods, discrepencies in laws, etc. The US has none of these internally, nor does Canada, nor Russia. The EU gradually enlarged, but at the same different states had different contradictory visions of what it was for. France I think wants political union and equalization of laws. Britain was skeptical about the Euro and political union: it wanted more a loose free-trade area. The eastern European countries saw membership as a ticket to prosperity, so gung ho on the Euro and labor migration. Some of these visions lead toward a smaller centralized state (because only a few countries will accept that), while others lead toward a larger looser free-trade area (why not include Ukraine and Israel and Turkey?) The EU allowed these contradictions to grow unadressed for many years, and each faction tried to realize its own vision into a fait accompli. Then there was a Euro, which is itself a contradiction, a common currency without a common monetary/fiscal/debt policy. All these come to a head when crises like Greece or Brexit occur. There’s also the issue Thomas Picketty has dicussed, that member states are in a race to the bottom on corporate taxes to poach businesses from each other, which leaves insufficient money for their social programs and businesses not paying their share for public education, etc.

      The Sound Transit district likewise has five subareas with different priorities. North King is the most balanced on urban vs “regional” transit. King County as a whole is less so but still relatively balanced, and several cities have announced good upzones and transit master plans. Snohomish and Pierce are much less balanced. Why did Snohomish not ask for its remaining five Swift lines? Or a Tacoma Link-like something in Lynnwood and/or Everett? Why did it double down on a Paine Field detour? Why did Snohomish and Pierce reject out of hand putting the Link money into Sounder South and BRT? The answer of course is their travel patterns, high-volume transit corridors as they see it, and unwillingness to densify their neighborhoods (“urban villages”).

      Paine itself is an interesting issue. Would Snohomish please explain a ridership-based case for the Paine Field detour? What percent or what number of Paine Field workers live in the direction Link can serve? In my mind, only people from Lynnwood or further south would take it. Is that really a large number of workers? As for people taking Link from downtown Everett to Paine, really? How will they get the last mile to their jobs? Will they be willing to take Link such a short distance from downtown Everett to transfer to a shuttle? And what’s this about people from Marysville/Skagit parking at Everett Station to take Link to Paine Field? Is this really a goal? One, would they? Two, are we subsidizing people from outside the ST district? Three, if the apparent purpose is to minimize road congestion between downtown Everett and Paine Field, is this really the most critical piece of congestion in the county? And what about the people traveling from Everett to Lynnwood/King County, who have 10-15 minutes added to their trip because of the Paine detour? I believe this will become an increasing issue in future years. What about that Everett CC extension: are they also to have 11 minutes added to their trip for the Paine detour? Is there any ridership-based/Walkeresque case for the Paine detour? Or is it solely a non-ridership argument: encouraging companies to increase jobs at Paine Field through the picture of a train. Aren’t companies more interested in their employees getting to work efficiently than in the picture of a train?

      Back to the outer counties and the EU. What do they think Sound Transit is? What do they want it to be? Are their visions the same as Snohomish/Pierce Counties’ and King County’s? What kind of service do they expect? Thurston County has been debated over the years so the case is clearer: extending all-day ST Express and eventually Sounder to Olympia. Is that it, or is there more?

      For Skagit County, we immediately encounter the north Snohomish gap. Marysville/Smokey Point are outside the ST district. There has been some argument that this is unbalanced because Bonney Lake, Spanaway, Orting, and Du Pont in Pierce County are in. And Marysville looks like it’s growing into a full-fledged suburb, no longer an exurb. So theoretically we could annex north Snohomish and extend Sounder to Marysville/Smokey Point. (Or ST Express if Sounder North is deleted.) But then what? Sounder to Mt Vernion? Is that a big issue in Skagit? In my mind the biggest issue is the buses from Mt Vernon, which are unidirectional peak-only. I would aim to get hourly express buses from Mt Vernon to Smokey Point to Everett.

      For Kitsap County, gawd it’s across the water. It’s a different kind of environment, essentially rural like Vashon Island., even though the towns are bigger. What does Kitsap need? I would guess it’s different from the other counties, and probably revolves around more all-day service within the county and to the ferries. There’s that passenger-ferry issue, but it’s extremely unlikely Sound Transit would get into that, sorry Kitsap. And a Bailotrain (like a bullet train) under the Sound is not happening. So I think this issue in Kitsap County is, Kitsap Transit needs more funding. Annexing it to ST would be a sledgehammer approach, and the only plausable reason is that Olympia allows ST to raise taxes for large projects but it doesn’t allow the county-based transit agencies to. So that’s something that really needs fixing in Olympia, not extending Sound transit across Western Washington.

      Then there’s the issue of exurban No votes. The further you get away from the largest cities, the more people are anti-tax and anti-transit. Pierce Transit jettisoned east Pierce County in order to have a smaller area more supportive of transit improvements. Sound Transit includes those areas for now and is less impacted because of its differing vote structure (and three-county joint voting which marginalizes the Bonney Lake no vote). But if we annex north Snohomish, Skagit, Thurston, and Kitsap Counties, the anti-tax, anti-transit people will become a larger percentage of the district. Is that any way to build large expensive capital projects?

      There is another way. Thurston and Skagit Counties can have bilateral agreements with Sound Transit to run certain services outside the district, without being part of the district. The 592 extension to Olympia is being funded by a state grant through Intercity Transit, with Sound Transit writing letters of support for the project. Pierce Transit has long funded an ST Express extension from Gig Harbor. The same could be done for Marysville and Mt Vernon. I would rather do this than expand the ST district, which could have unknown and negative consequences. It could even be a stepping-stone to expanding the ST district later.

      1. Mike;

        You ask so many good questions I could spend all evening answering them and not answer them all. So many good questions.

        But yeah transit advocates are licking the window wondering how the heaven do we get chrome trains, Russell Wilsons for transit planners, Livestream of transit board meetings, and the holy grail of transit: grade separation? That’s what I meant.

        As to the Paine Field deviation, I spoke to one of the chief champions of it. It isn’t just about recruiting business but the BRT that the east side Paine Field will get in 2018 is not enough for them. The idea is for folks to transfer onto the light rail from their many departure points and take the light rail the last few miles to their factory & flight school & museum jobs. Being this is about transfers from many homes throughout Skagit & Snohomish & King Counties to light rail, I can’t answer ridership accurately.

        Ultimately I agree, “Thurston and Skagit Counties can have bilateral agreements with Sound Transit to run certain services outside the district, without being part of the district. The 592 extension to Olympia is being funded by a state grant through Intercity Transit, with Sound Transit writing letters of support for the project. Pierce Transit has long funded an ST Express extension from Gig Harbor. The same could be done for Marysville and Mt Vernon. I would rather do this than expand the ST district, which could have unknown and negative consequences. It could even be a stepping-stone to expanding the ST district later.” I wish ST3 had more of this, but that’s right the voters in metropolitan Seattle would turn very red in the face at Sound Transit Board Chair Dow Constantine, Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff and staff* as entire Seattle neighborhoods won’t see light rail in their lifetimes.

        Wes, yeah this is STremain. ST3 will make the idea of transit more popular to market transit use to more folks which I think deep down terrifies KTTH hosts & listeners. I don’t want the red shirts and their pals dictating transit policy, they all got less moxie than Dow Constantine. [ah]

        I just hope the Mass Transit Now campaign is more aggressive & tenacious than the remaIN campaign. Get on offense, quit sitting back, go on attack and stay there. ST3 goes, you can expect Sound Transit staff to look for the exits. Many. It’ll be a domino effect and the lefties to my left better realize real quick the red shirts aren’t you and won’t promote transit with a fire in the belly.

        [comment policy whining]

      2. “The idea is for folks to transfer onto the light rail from their many departure points and take the light rail the last few miles to their factory & flight school & museum jobs. Being this is about transfers from many homes throughout Skagit & Snohomish & King Counties to light rail, I can’t answer ridership accurately.”

        Could you clarify it in terms of entire trips? Even if you don’t know the numbers, what are the largest concentrations of representative trips: where are they going from and to, in which corridors, with how many transfers? Have the officials talked at this level at all, or can you get them to? Because this is where the idea succeeds or fails. Do these riders really exist? Will they increase in the future? Are the transfer assumptions reasonable? Would even pro-transfer people find them reasonable? These are the questions transit planners would ask, and we need to know whether there’s a sound transit-planning basis for these political assertions.

      3. I just remembered, Sound Transit was chartered for the urban parts of King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties. That’s why Marysville, Snohomish (town), Duvall, Covingtion, and Maple Valley are out, because they weren’t considered growth areas. That creates an imbalance with Pierce County, where Bonney Lake, Orting, and Spanaway are considered emerging urbanized areas. So a case can be made for annexing Marysville. But annexing Skagit County would bring in a mostly rural area and farmland. That may be against the ST charter, and would certainly give the Board much pause.

      4. The Sound Transit area is generally the contiguous growth area. There are non-contiguous cities like Duvall that are excluded.

        Marysville is technically contiguous, but it’s just a sliver along the highway.

        A few other contiguous UGA cities (Covington, Maple Valley) are also outside the RTA. I don’t know what the reasoning was there. Maybe it was just too obvious that they wouldn’t be good HCT candidates.

      5. Mike;

        I don’t think you’ll see Skagit County in the Sound Transit District. You could see Skagit Transit contract with Sound Transit or at least some understanding about connectivity.

      6. Mike;

        “Could you clarify it in terms of entire trips? Even if you don’t know the numbers, what are the largest concentrations of representative trips: where are they going from and to, in which corridors, with how many transfers?”

        I think you’re going to see a lot of trips from the Skagit Transit 90X route and Community Transit bus routes that connect & feed at Everett Station. Also routes on this “Going to Boeing” list being increasingly promoted:

        “Have the officials talked at this level at all, or can you get them to? Because this is where the idea succeeds or fails. Do these riders really exist? Will they increase in the future? Are the transfer assumptions reasonable? Would even pro-transfer people find them reasonable? These are the questions transit planners would ask, and we need to know whether there’s a sound transit-planning basis for these political assertions.”

        I agree and come Transit Development Plan time for at least Skagit Transit & Everett Transit, I will raise these issues. I also am meeting with a Community Transit Boardmember later this month and will make a note to raise them for us Mike.

        You ask the kind of questions a Sound Transit Boardmember should be asking. I never see that kinda pithy aggressive, tenacious stuff out of most of “em. Guys like you are 100% why I want elected Transit Boards…

    3. We can’t predict what will happen if ST3 fails. Both those promising a better future and those promising doom are on shaky ground. It’s like when people blamed Metro for not anticipating the recovery after the recession: you can’t predict the economy like you can’t predict the weather. Was Brexit going to throw the US into recession? Maybe, maybe not, it depends on thousands of people’s decisions, and many of them don’t know themselves what they will decide, or they’ll be influenced by what other people do. My instinct is, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”, so I support ST3 now.

      In any case, the ballot measure is fixed now. There’s no changing the extensions to increase the Yes vote. All we can do is predict how big the No vote will be. But that shouldn’t influence your vote! You should vote on the merits as you see it, not on how many other people will vote yes or no. That’s outside your control. At best, your vote will swing a tie. At worst, you’ll be +1 or -1 in the numbers, but that still reveals the level of support for your position, and that can be persuasive later.

      So we can’t be sure after November, but the probabilities are toward:
      (1) Conservatives vote every year; liberals vote in presidential elections. So an ST3.1 in an off year has a significantly worse chance.
      (2) 2020 is four years away, and even though most ST3 projects aren’t scheduled for construction until after that, by my calculation it would postpone construction by 1-2 years. That’s because the planning window would go past 2023 when ST2 construction dies down, so not only would we miss those construction months after 2023, but ST would have to downscale and then upscale which would be inefficient.
      (3) An ST3-2020 would most likely be smaller and more spine-focused, as Joe said. Pierce and Snohomish may give up on the rail spine as impossible, but that doesn’t mean they’ll suddenly shift to favoring Seattle subways. They’ll go with BRT, which will lower the budget, and thus North King’s share of the budget. Expect West Seattle light rail and a Ballard streetcar to reemerge. You may be able to argue for a WSTT (bus) tunnel, maybe. But that really depends on how West Seattlites and politicians feel about light rail then, and we can’t really predict that. Perhaps the best way to push for a WSTT is to run for city council.

      Joe: “Seattle Subway will no longer be credible”

      That depends on what Seattle Subway is. I think you’re misunderstanding their motives, abilities, and clout. I am not a member but from observing them, they want a full urban transit network in Seattle (meaning several grade-separated lines). Their support for the suburban extensions is not so much a goal as a compromise. For instance, I would say that light rail to Lynnwood, Lake City, Redmond, and Des Moines/or/Federal Way is essential. Beyond that I’m flexible on light rail vs BRT. Seattle Subway may be more pro light rail than that, but I don’t think it’s absolute (“Everett or bust, Tacoma Mall or bust, Issaquah or bust”). I think ST is more accepting ST’s regional consensus and adding things in Seattle it thinks are necessary. You may say, “There is no regional consensus for the Spine, ST is wrong”, but I doubt that. The city and county governments are unified, and their constituents voted for them and give them feedback. I think ST really is reflecting the regional consensus, as much as such a consensus exists. That’s my feel from growing up in the suburbs, living in Seattle, and having contacts throughout the region. I also believe that the only way to get a capital measure through Olympia’s restrictions and the anti-tax factions (and even the pro-transit divisions on STB), is to leverage the regional consensus that the politicians have created since the late 1980s.

      That means accepting ST’s proposal and just tweaking the most essential parts (meaning parts that are critical for urban non-drivers), and ignoring parts you disagree on that others think are (e.g., the Everett and Tacoma extensions). I don’t think it will rise or fall on cost: $54 billion is abstract to people, and people value other factors too. Efficiency is likewise abstract: you think people will vote no because of empty evening trains to Everett and Issaquah, but where else do they show that value? Not in the five-lane roads or parking minimums they keep insisting on, not in the inefficient single-family zoning, not in the HOT tolls on 405 they’re trying to eliminate. So if we accept that there is a regional consensus and ST3 reflects that consensus, then Seattle Subway’s position makes sense.

      If ST3 fails, then Seattle Subway will probably revert to its core goals (more Seattle lines, grade-separated), and will work toward an alternative with whatever partners are available. Its core supporters will still have that value (as I will), so they’ll push for it too. Whether it emerges as a city-only plan or an ST3.1 depends on what the other subareas do. We don’t know. Maybe they’ll scale down, scale up, give up, change their priorities (“Did Paine lose it for us?” in Snohomish), become more supportive of Seattle, become less supportive of Seattle, who knows That will all become clear later. But the city goals will still be there.

      As to the Central District and Lake City being left out, that’s a larger issue than the immediate ST3. The city and region should ackowledge a blind spot there. They were left out because they weren’t considered significant in the 1980s when the regional plan was drawn up, and that viewpoint was never challenged even after the facts changed. It was challenged by a few activists, but not to the level that it got ST’s or the city’s attention. We can’t change ST1/2/3 now. But we can ask for acknowledgment of a past mistake, and steps to improve the situation now. For instance, it’s high time for Lake City and Ballard/Fremont to be declared Urban Centers. If they don’t have enough jobs for the county’s definition, then the jobs need to increase or the definition needs to change or the county needs to make an exception. If they had been urban centers, they’d have gotten more priority in ST2 and 3. The CD will have to go for something different. The “Center City” urban center is defined as Mercer-Broadway-Weller Street-Alaskan Way. Maybe it needs to be extended east to 23rd, and we need to point out how much larger it is compared to Totem Lake, that lines on 3rd and 4th are not sufficient. Anyway, this is another long-term issue that can be pursued independently.

  14. In the Times today: “State sees fastest growth in liberal-voting counties… King and Snohomish Countes account for more than 40% of the state’s population, with a total of 2.9 million residents… Along with King and Snohomish, seven counties voted for President Obama, recreational pot and marriage equality in 2012: Island, Jefferson, Kitsap, San Juan, Skagit, Thurston, and Whatcom.”

    So can we raise the ceiling on county-based transit agencies now? And fund the inter-county connectors properly, and free Seattle to pursue its own rail projects? Europe would have inter-county connectors running hourly, y’know.

    1. Mike, absolute agreement here. There are some things in this regard that will drop in Transit Development Plans/TDPs certainly in the next 60 days I can’t share here just yet – stay tuned all of you.

      Oh and Mike, trying to answer some of your pithy questions to me. Great stuff. Sure wish you were on the Sound Transit Board.

    2. And maybe at least get a self driving bus or something to serve San Juan County, so the islands don’t continue to turn into vast expanses of ferry queue parking?

      1. San Juan Transit does OK (not great, but for not having any tax support definitely not bad) but it only runs several months of the year.

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