Sounder 1509 Arriving at Lakewood Station

This is an open thread.

149 Replies to “News Roundup: Doing it Right”

  1. The Mercer Island resident arguing his fight to save special HOV access for islanders is a fight for everyone, not just islanders is delusional under the most charitable interpretations…

    1. Actually, he does have half a point: under his interpretation, they’d be “HOV + Mercer Island Express” lanes, meaning WSDOT could theoretically close all Mercer Island access from the outer roadway. Not that rescues his case, though.

      1. The agreement references then-current proposed designs for I-90 as a baseline, which included access to/from Mercer Island from the outer roadway. Also, paragraph 14 requires that Mercer Island give “concurrence” to any “major change in either the operation
        or the capacity of the I-90 facility,” so WSDOT couldn’t just unilaterally close off exits.

    2. As a Mercer Island resident, I basically take the view that if Mr. Milburn wants to spend his time and money challenging fine points of the 1976 MOU when the current situation has worked more or less well enough for the last 20+ years and will last one more at most, he’s welcome to do so. I have a different interpretation of the relevant language, but IANAL and my overall view of the local and regional mobility is different.

      There may have to be another MOU amendment to accommodate whatever the City, WSDOT, and Sound Transit agree to as “mitigation” anyway, so the issue could be fairly easily clarified. But ultimately, Mr. Milburn’s efforts are a distraction.

      I can’t wait for East Link construction on Mercer Island to get under way.

    3. People… He has a point….

      The articles I’ve read pertaining to Milburn is that he received the ticket on the section of I-90 “center” road way between the International District and Mt. Baker tunnel.

      He has a point, the MOU allows Island traffic to use this section of road way, he should not have received a ticket… which is what he is fighting. There is no “extending” of the privileges… he is already using the privileges he was lucky enough to be granted. No where in the MOU does it state Island traffic must merge in the Mt. Baker tunnels… that is a confusing issue brought on by WSDOT.

      I have a few family friends that live on MI that actually have the MOU printed off in their glove box for this exact reason.

      1. The signage at the west end of the bridge clearly states that single-occupant vehicles must exit the express lanes just after the Mt Baker Tunnel. The MOU only guarantees Mercer Island traffic mixed with carpools on the bridge, not all the way to downtown. It’s hardly confusing.

      2. While the signage is clear, the MOU can be interpreted several ways. For example, the termini of the “transit lanes” is noted to be “downtown Seattle” and “downtown Bellevue,” but further paragraphs note that the parties to the MOU need to try and secure additional funding to complete a bevy of additional things, including direct transit access from I-90 to downtown Seattle and to downtown Bellevue (via I-405). So arguably these are separate and distinct from the “transit lanes” on I-90 itself. Or not. Depends on your point of view.

        Further, the MOU states that the initial operation of the transit lanes should be bi-directional, “with the first priority to transit, the second to carpools, and the third to Mercer Island traffic.” It also states that the “direction of minor flow” (e.g. out of Seattle in the morning and into Seattle in the evening) should be reserved for buses only, implying Mercer Island’s access is in the peak direction only (which it is, functionally, today via the Center Roadway). However the same section goes on to state “The subsequent mode of operation of the facility shall be based upon existing needs as determined by the [Washington State Highway] Commission (now WSDOT) in consultation with the affected jurisdictions.” So in theory, the subsequent change to the reversible express lanes setup and restriction of Mercer Island traffic to the Island Crest to Rainier segment (and excluding that traffic from the Island Crest to Bellevue Way and Rainier to 5th Ave segments) is fully in keeping with the terms of the MOU. Or not. Again, it depends on your point of view.

      3. @CP – Westbound, near the West highrise, the left lane becomes a diamond lane with a standard “HOV 2+” overhead sign. Since non-MI traffic must already be “HOV 2+” even to get that far, it is intended specifically to inform MI folks that our privilege does not extend further. There’d be absolutely no need for such a sign EXCEPT for the Mercer Island drivers.

        The diamond lane in question is a single-lane roadway that allows buses get to the bus tunnel without fighting through rush-hour traffic west of the tunnel. Hard to argue with keeping SOV’s out of THAT section.

        I’m sorry, carrying a vague MOU around in your glove compartment to argue with a cop over a clearly signed HOV restriction – that is slam-dunk justified with just a moment’s thought – is just asking for trouble. Please quit making the MI snarksters’ case for them. PLEASE.

      4. Jim,

        The fact that it took you 5+ sentences to explain WSDOT’s signage intent vrs the “vague” MOU intent is one of the issues Milburn is dealing with currently….

        But of course snarksters opinions should be taken seriously as they are very intelligent and mature (not to mention good lookin’) people….

      5. @CP – the westbound sign is very clear – HOV 2+. If you have at least 2 people in your car you may use the lane. No “except Mercer Island residents” on the sign.

        In the easterly direction, at the entrance to the tunnel, the express lane sign DOES mention the exception for Mercer Island folks. And at the ICW exit, the sign says “All vehicles must exit except HOV”. All very clear – follow the language of the signs and you are OK.

        I don’t like anti-MI snark, and I don’t take it seriously. What I DO take seriously is how MI’s more legitimate concerns will be received by the folks we have to negotiate them with – ST, Bellevue, Seattle, KC Metro, WSDOT – when we make a lot of noise defending and then wanting to expand privileges that are clearly unreasonable, and do so with easy-to-demolish arguments. Let’s not make people roll their eyes (even if they only do it internally) while we’re asking them to recognize our other, legitimate interests.

      6. The bus lanes on the Rainier to I-5 section of I-90 were added years after the the new Mt. Baker Tunnel and new bridge were opened. Before that time buses had to exit at Rainier and use Dearborn to access downtown.

        Ergo, it is almost certain that the bus lanes were funded from a different pool of money than that which built the new bridge(s) and tunnel. I don’t know exactly what the source of that money was; most likely it was a Clinton-era FTA grant. What is almost beyond question, though, is that they aren’t subject to the Memorandum of Understanding which governs the funding of the I-90 cross-lake construction project.

        In any case, no public official has asserted that the bus lanes — the place where Lord Milburn received the citation — are a part of the original MOU, so whatever the equity or abuse in the argument about allowing MI residents into the replacement HOV lanes adjacent to the main lanes, His Lordship was clearly driving where even Nobility is forbidden to drive.

      7. I-90 itself ended at Dearborn and didn’t connect to I-5. The extension of I-90 to I-5 and 4th Avenue South was done at the same time as the bus lanes. It was built about the same time as the DSTT.

    4. The “special privilege” for Mercer Island can be easily abused by simply getting off the freeway at Mercer Island, only to get immediately on again – exactly like the 554 does to serve Mercer Island P&R, but without the stop. While people wouldn’t necessarily think to do that on their own, apps like Waze could still suggest it.

    5. Frankly I think the privilege should be revoked entirely.

      A few rich folks arguing why their city should get to keep special HOV access on a publicly owned asset won’t win much sympathy from folks elsewhere in the state.

      Use the carpool lanes when you have enough riders on your car like everyone else.

      1. That is interesting. If Eyman wants to put revoking ST’s MVET authority to a statewide vote, then maybe we should put Mercer Island’s highway privileges to a statewide vote too.

  2. The link under “revealed to be a circus” is some random text, not a real URL.

  3. The link to the “all-purpose” riders story links instead to the Mercer Island story.

  4. That Paris article has some really good tidbits, including

    It always merits a reminder: street-level trains usually aren’t worthwhile investments if they have to compete with cars for space. Mixed-traffic streetcar lines are slower, less reliable, and represent little or no upgrade relative to a bus. Yet such designs are stubbornly prevalent in the U.S. for a simple reason: elected officials don’t want the hassle of confronting motorists.

    In the Paris region, on the other hand, there seems to be recognition that any significant street-level transit improvement probably has to come at the expense of cars—and the tram lines are designed accordingly.

    Yesterday, Railway Gazette published an article on the tram-train cars that are now being delivered. These will use the tram network for part of their route in Paris suburbs, but then will slip over to a secondary main line track operating between cities and hit 100 km/hr (63 miles per hour) once out on the main line.

    They couldn’t do the good quality inter-city part of that without good quality local sections at each end.

    1. Glenn, Karlsruhe, Germany has been doing this for some time. I’m wondering if we could fit this tram-train approach into our own regional transit plans.

      Street rail history has many instances of the transit companies themselves developing whole communities for their lines to serve. I wonder if Southeast King County has some parcels where sprawl is heading, but hasn’t yet reached.

      With at least one old freight-spur going near it. Would be great to see the sprawlers find something attractive and dense with tracks down the main street, and an existing rail line into the rest of the region being renovated.

      Sort of taking the fight to the enemy. Any thoughts?



      1. The biggest opportunity I can see is DuPont to Tacoma. It takes half an hour to get from Lakewood to Tacoma on the bus. It takes half that on Sounder and it isn’t subject to the whims of the traffic mess into Tacoma.

        I would love to see Sounder North transition to something cheaper to operate, but BNSF is probably not going to go for that, even with PTC signals.

      2. Ohhh, how about a switch between the Tacoma Link line and the BNSF line allowing no-transfer connections from downtown Tacoma to Seattle and back?

      3. BNSF would never allow light rail cars on its main line.

        The nice thing about the DuPont to Tacoma Dome line is that it is owned by government agencies already. They can do whatever they want to with it really. A mixture of FRA and non-FRA equipment, as is proposed and approved for operation on the CalTrain line, could be done there.

    2. Yeah, that is an excellent article. One of the things it doesn’t mention, is that the trams are very long — over twice as long as our streetcars, if I’m not mistaken. This makes them (unlike our trams) significantly bigger than our biggest buses (regardless of seat configuration). This gives them a significant advantage — at least in one area — over our buses. This means that unlike our streetcar, there are meaningful trade-offs when it comes to deciding between buses and trams (trams carry more people, but buses can go up steep hills, etc.).

      What I find interesting about the article is that you can apply just about any mode to every part of the article, and it still works.For example, “Seamless connections”. In the article it talks about Metro (subway) to Tram, but it could just easily apply when discussing light rail to bus service. Same with not charging extra and running frequently. Part of this only applies to surface transit, but applies just as well to buses as well as other types of trains (e. g. light rail). It is just as important for a bus to avoid traffic or to redesign the street (even if, as in the case with Paris, it doesn’t completely avoid traffic).

      It is pretty easy to see where Seattle has failed and where it has succeeded when it comes to transit in that regard. Link avoids traffic, and the streets have been redesigned where it runs on the surface. But the connection from bus to rail is terrible. It doesn’t cost any extra to use both if you have an ORCA card, but otherwise it does (and as of this writing, it still costs extra to ride the monorail). Link is fairly frequent – but parts of it will never be as frequent as subway lines in other cities (or even some of these streetcars). Madison BRT is fairly good when it comes to frequency, road improvements and avoiding traffic (from what I can tell). It doesn’t connect really well with Link and should do an OK job connecting to other buses. Roosevelt BRT doesn’t look to be that great at anything, except maybe frequency and changing the nature of the street (although that has as much to do with the bike improvements than anything). It remains to be seen what the BRT replacements for the 44 and 7 will be like. For both of these, they have the potential to satisfy all the criteria better than any system we have built.

      1. Paris uses an assortment of equipment. As a good sample of what they use, the T3 trams are Alstom Citadis type 402, seven sections and 100% low floor. Those are about the length of a two car Link train.

        The T7 and T8 are somewhat shorter at 5 sections, but they are rated at 200 passengers total, 56 seated.

      2. I’ve pointed this out in response to several of your Jeremiad’s against “The Streetcar”. Sure, the stations would have to be lengthened, taking parking spots and costing something, but if you want the CCC and its two extensions to be useful transit, replacing the tiny Skoda’s with real trams is step 1.

        Step 2 is unbroken transit lanes, at least from First and Jackson to Fred Hutch. Broadway is pretty much a lost cause and maybe should be orphaned from the CCC/SLU line.

        But bad as it is, it does deserve to have catenary its entire length in both direction. What a stupid “penny-wise-pound-foolish” decision!

      3. I disagree.

        Step 1 is making dedicated transit lanes or separate right of way. See photos of Paris.

        The larger cars can happen when the level of passengers demands them. I don’t think you will ever get to a point of ne ding them without the dedicated space for them.

      4. Glenn, the CCC is supposed to have dedicated lanes throughout. But SDOT won’t make the hard decisions at Denny unless the system has the capacity to use the dedicated lanes. Yes, it’s a chicken and egg problem, but the Skoda’s are the constant butt of sneering and jokes.

  5. Too early in the morning for math, but let’s try this. Add $14 to my one-zone senior pass and I’ll have paid my ST3 taxes for a year. Charge me $100 a month, and I’ll still be saving about three months gas plus maintenance and depreciation every month. And get eight dollars’ break for being old.

    Point being, thanks, Mike Lindblom, and The Seattle Times. Your first paragraph proves how much argument over ST3 is financial- none of it. And how much political in the worst sense- all of it. So: however many other voters my increase will pay for and add their votes to mine. Ranger, put that marmot on my head for a minute so I can say…”Deal?!!!!!”

    Mark Dublin

    1. I just got my substantial rent increase notice. It won’t be ST3 driving up my cost of living. It will be the fierce competition among renters. The cost of ST3 is a rounding error for me.

      1. My rent went up $720/year, not shared with any roommates, and I live nowhere near light rail. Housing is not being built nearly fast enough to keep rent increases reasonable, so I may as well enjoy keeping automobile ownership from exploding my budget.

      2. Here in Olympia, my went up $50 in a month. Like first small-pox lesion. In a region where we’ve got no immune resistance at all.

        We’re looking at a land-use-and-public-transportation disaster here the order of a ‘quake. Anybody First-Response, want to tell us about a Force-Nowhere-Near-Nine underneath this morning’s freeway conditions?

        This last year has now given us a voting block with the kind of energy that can take down governments. People who considered themselves deservedly well-placed and comfortable, though concerned about expenses. Who are now repeatedly-displaced refugees. Like Syria-which for its part of the world was an advanced country- without the barrel-bombs. Yet.

        In a National economy nobody with a brain can trust. With a political mechanism aged out and exhausted. ST’s 3 and counting are first engagements in this country’s worst political upheaval since the Crash of 1929. This is the 2016 Election, from ST to the Atlantic. Anybody already in grass-roots politics of any party: Weigh in and tell the rest of us what we do next.

        Mark Dublin

  6. I’d like to see some kind of regional group day pass be offered by our local transit agencies. Yesterday, my sisters spent the day in Seattle with their kids. With the size of their group and the lack of convenient options for paying, they went by car. When I was travelling with family in Germany 2 years ago, we bought group passes for the transit networks in Hamburg and Berlin. They were both economical and convenient, and made transit a very easy choice. Something like that would be a great option for people travelling in groups in Seattle.

    1. This. I would love to have more transit options under a single day pass. We would be more likely to take Amtrak up from Portland.

    2. It’s unfortunate, but the lack of group discounts does result in fares being a significant deterrent for using transit for group travel. A few years, I was disappointed to learn that, with a group of just two, a day trip to Bellingham cost just as much via Amtrak as via Zipcar. Or, consider a trip from Pioneer Square to SLU, which, for a group of 3, costs about the same amount via bus as via Uber. Even in New York, there was one time when my whole family was together in a rental car in New Jersey, and we wanted to go to a Mets game on a Sunday afternoon. It turned out that even with the gas, bridge tolls, and parking, driving was still cheaper than four round trip transit fares.

      There’s a fundamental problem that a fare that is priced right for an individual traveling alone is often too expensive to be attractive for multiple people traveling together.

  7. An important point from the Portland Parking Minimums article:

    In the three years when many apartment buildings in Portland were being constructed without parking, from 2011 through 2013, average construction costs per apartment fell even though construction costs for other units didn’t.

    Then, after parking minimums were reinstated for most transit-oriented buildings in 2013, average construction costs per apartment shot back up even though construction costs for other units didn’t.

    So, yes, requiring a bunch of extra square footage for auto storage does increase the cost.

    1. Another interesting tidbit from the Portland Parking Minimums article:

      “In most of those buildings around Portland’s east side, half or more of households in the no-parking buildings owned at least one car.”

      And where do those households park their cars? On public streets. The public subsidizes the storage of personal property.

      If cities are going to allow residential development without parking on the pretext that the residents won’t own cars, then there should be some mechanism to ensure that the residents are in fact non-car households.

      1. If cities are going to allow residential development without parking on the pretext that the residents won’t own cars, then there should be some mechanism to ensure that the residents are in fact non-car households.\

        Why? Why are existing residents more entitled to the public right-of-way than newcomers? Why should only newcomers have to pay for off-street storage?

      2. Almost the entire east side of Portland works just fine with most of the parking on city streets, and some off-street parking as the market demands. Sure, some people sometimes have trouble finding parking directly in front of their favorite coffee shop because all both parking places are taken.

        The only place on the east side of Portland that doesn’t work that well in terms of city street parking is the Lloyd Center area, and that is the area where the philosophy was to build lots and lots of off street parking for every building.

        So, maybe building lots and lots of off street parking, so that everyone has to drive to get where they need to go, isn’t a real solution to the parking problem?

      3. There are also plenty of us who have the cost of parking space bundled into our rent, even if we don’t own cars. Though the fee for a parking space at my apartment is a very token amount, the space used for parking could have had several more units built there instead of asphalt. Parking minima are hurting my rent more than living next to light rail would.

      4. While I do agree with Martin, and the easy answer is to charge everyone for on street parking on public streets….

        You could require the building owner to supply residents with transit passes, which would incentivize people who don’t have cars to move into those units. It would be a great way to get around parking minimums if one “permanent” transit pass counted the same as one parking space to hit the zoned parking minimum. This might be a more politically feasible solution than completely abolishing parking minimums, and it still leaves it to developers to determine if the market wants parking spaces or not.

      5. @Brent:

        The notion that parking displaces housing units is not usually true for new apartment construction in Seattle, at least. Parking is generally below grade. You can’t build underground housing units. Land is too valuable to leave for at-grade parking.

        My theory is that as rents increase, the wealthier residents (often moving from places with high car ownership) who can afford those rents tend to have sufficient disposable income to own cars. This is perpetuated by the common 3x income to rent rule, which leaves a lot of cashflow for car ownership among high income renters.

        Cars are still useful in Seattle for many of those who can afford them. Contrast that with Manhattan where few people own cars even though many residents are very wealthy. My large apartment building had no parking at all. Cars are useless in Manhattan for most people.

      6. However, if landlords have to give out transit passes to those who don’t already have them, that will incentivize them to only rent to those whose employers already pay for their passes. It’ll bend the odds further in favor of gentrification.

      7. As of two weeks ago, this apartment building in Northwest Portland:,-122.711261,3a,75y,199.24h,82.29t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sOCop7TYS4ziaZxMD0SMDQg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en
        has a sign on the garage doors saying “Garage for Rent”.

        Northwest Portland (where the parking minimum is planned for reinstatement) already has a fair number of units with vacant parking. The problem with parking in northwest Portland are those with houses with no parking, as well as businesses with no parking.

        We let the market determine what sort of buildings need to be built. Maybe the market should also determine how much parking should be included with those buildings?

        Convert a few of the surface lots to parking garages with paid parking and this would probably not be an issue. If people want to park close to where they live or where they shop, they will be willing to pay for it.

      8. @Alex,

        Underground parking may not “displace” housing units because it’s underground, but parking requirements do have an effect on how many units can be constructed. For example, there’s a developer currently proposing to put a new building on Phinney Ridge with two restaurants and roughly 50 small efficiency units. No parking is proposed.

        Due to the size and shape of the lot, the developers claim that there’s no room to put in underground parking because the incline of the ramp needed to fit in the space would be steeper than generally allowed. Someone on Nextdoor with an architecture background claims that the lot might be just long enough to make an underground parking lot work, but it would be tight. If it were possible, they could fit perhaps 14 cars down there.

        Adding a parking requirement with more than a 4:1 unit:parking ratio would necessarily reduce the number of units that could be constructed here. Perhaps the small efficiency units would turn into large, luxury units so that the parking ratio could be respected.

      9. “Parking is generally below grade. You can’t build underground housing units.”

        Every underground floor increases the cost of the building significantly because you have to dig down to there, and dig further for the foundation. And cars are heavy so that may increase the cost of the foundation.

        Apartments that charge separately for parking are better than apartments that just bundle the cost into the rent. But if some spaces are perpetually vacant, they probably spread the cost out over all tenants rather than take a loss.

      10. If the problem is that existing residents are entitled to the street parking and new residents might take it away, there does exist a simple solution – deny the residents of these new buildings the rights to purchase resident street parking permits. This way, even without parking requirements, the city could still tell existing residents that “their” street parking would not impacted. Residents of the new buildings would either need to not own a car, or pay for parking from a private garage operator nearby. The building developers would, of course, be aware of this when they decide how much parking to add to their building.

      11. I pay $1300/mo for 450 sq ft to house myself as a human on Capitol Hill. If I owned a car I’d pay $2.70/mo ($65 per 2 years) for 200 sq ft to house my car on Capitol Hill.

        And if that didn’t piss me off enough, now Sound Transit is doing a “Neighborhood Parking Plan” around Capitol Hill station and asking motorists what their thoughts are about parking as if its Sound Transit’s fault. Parking problems are caused solely by people who own cars, not buildings, not transit, not bikes, not people who don’t own cars.

      12. @Martin

        Because pragmatism. Existing residents have votes and are libel to vote for parking minimums if they believe development will cost them access to easy free off street parking near their residence. And the cost of parking minimums is orders of magnitude larger than the mostly negligible cost of favoring existing residents in the allocation of street parking resources. I would generally favor a more economically efficient market based solution (evenly allocate parking salable passes to existing residents keeping the total comfortably below maximum capacity) over banning new tenants from owning cars, but the main point stands.

      13. Parking is considered an environmental impact. If a Link or Sounder station brings cars to the neighborhood and they park on the street, that’s like pollution or noise: something the transit project caused so it’s its responsibility to pay for mitigation. ST’s original reason for P&Rs was to guarantee ridership, but the motifivation has since changed to minimizing hide-n-ride impacts on the neighborhood. So while we talk about P&Rs from a cost and urbanism perspective, from ST’s perspective the “right” size for a P&R is one that fits all the people who would drive to the station anyway so that only a trivial number of them park on the street.

      14. Also, the reason Seattle stations don’t have P&Rs is a city policy of no new P&Rs. The only P&Rs in Seattle ST is building are on top of existing P&Rs. (And that also motivated the station locations.) The suburbs have no such policy and they want P&Rs, so they’re getting a lot of them.

    2. Also from the Portland article:

      “We really need to find a way to help balance the supply and reduce the demand”

      If only we knew of a way to bring supply and demand of a particular good into equilibrium.

      1. Apparently, no one in Portland has read Shoup’s book, because people keep proposing zany schemes to try and prevent “new people” from owning cars. It’s NIMBYism and entitlement at its finest.

  8. More than once I’ve seen snide or derisive remarks about Denver’s light rail system on this blog and I never stop to wonder why….

    1. Denver’s light rail network was built after I visited there so I don’t have direct knowledge, but the complaint seems to be that it’s what light rail would be like if it were built over the ST Express network: it would serve almost exclusively commuters and do nothing for those traveling between inner-city neighborhoods: no downtown to Capitol Hill, Columbia City to UW, Intl District to Ballard (someday) because the train doesn’t serve those areas. Your only choice is downtown to Shoreline or Bellevue or Tukwila and beyond. When the FRA had a window of grants in the Bush years, it favored passenger-mile metrics, which supports these kind of networks at the expense of inner-city networks, so you saw that kind of light rail being built in Denver, Dallas, SLC, etc. But inner-city non-car travel is 24 hours while outer non-car travel is heavily commute-oriented, so the lines drop to a whopping 30-minute frequency in the off-hours. Meanwhile the inner areas that would use it all day don’t have it. The article seems to suggest that even though Denver’s network is missing this large ridership market, it’s still managing to make significant all-day gains in the areas it does serve.

      1. Was in Denver last week, rode the light rail several days. What Mike says is all true from my observation. The system is good/great for what it does. However it is almost all a suburb to Downtown system serving little to no “city” neighborhoods or dense nodes of anything walkable. Park and rides by the freeway. Much like ST3 I’m afraid.

  9. If ST3 passes and a new Downtown Light Rail Tunnel is constructed, am I right in understanding that between 2030 (the opening of West Seattle Link) and 2035 (the opening of the new Light Rail Tunnel and Ballard Link), Sound Transit’s plan is to run 3 light rail lines through the existing DSTT (Central/South Link, East Link, and West Seattle Link), and then starting in 2035, route Central/South Link into the new tunnel?

    1. Yes. The spine, East Link, and West Seattle Link will all run through the DSTT for 5 years. In 2035 the southern half of the spine and Ballard Link will move to the new tunnel and the northern half of the spine, West Seattle Link, and East Link will remain in the original tunnel.

    2. I recall the concept was to terminate West Seattle trains at SODO (force a transfer) during the interim period. So you’d have Redmond-Lynnwood and Tacoma-Lynnwood lines, and what amounts to a stub West Seattle line for those 5 years.

      The project documents show the West Seattle SODO station as elevated and Stadium as at-grade. Since ST would need to rebuild the existing Stadium station and do a whole bunch of work at the current DSTT south portal to make everything line up, they may not even bother with a connection from West Seattle into the DSTT at first. That would make it impossible to run West Seattle trains through the DSTT without switching them through the yard during the interim period.

    3. No, not three lines. Central Link and East Link alone will have 3-minute combined peak frequency, and ST doesn’t want to commit the tunnel beyond that, both because it would require upgrading it and because eventually its two long-term lines will need more capacity, The ST3 preliminary project menu had an item for “DSTT upgrades and studied to expand capacity beyond 3 minutes”, but they decided to build the second tunnel instead, and as far as I know the expansion project is not in the final. The West Seattle line will terminate at SODO until the second tunnel is built, and then it will be reconnected to Lynnwood/Everett, and Federal Way/Tacoma will switch to the second tunnel and Ballard.

      1. I was thinking that running the 3 lines through the DSTT at peak frequencies would push the headways in the tunnel below 3 minutes, which I wasn’t sure if ST believed they could do. But the documents I’ve looked at on the ST3 site don’t seem to explicitly say that the West Seattle line will terminate in SoDo until the second Downtown Ligh Rail Tunnel opens in 2035- can you point me towards one that makes this clear?

  10. For that article mentioning the type of Seattle’s transit users, that’s not really the important part.

    The really important part is that transit riders want frequent service and quick travel times and don’t give a crap about free wi-fi or fancy electronic signs.

    1. Signs giving an indication of when the next train arrives and displaying service disruption announcements are extremely useful though.

    2. Not true. Real-time-arrival signage is critically important. All Link stations should have such info available.

      1. Not if it’s a choice between frequent service and arrival times. Pierce Transit’s survey they were running made it very clear that that’s what it is. I spend every penny of the imaginary $20 on more service, more service and more service.

      2. It shouldn’t be a choice. According to TriMet, their costs for the displays are about $8,000: $5,000 for the display board and about $3,000 for installation. The most recent rounds of installations on TriMet were funded by FTA grants. These are capital improvement costs that generally can’t be changed to provide operating funds.

      3. Frequency and total trip time are persistently the two largest issues for passengers, both in terms of choosing transit and being satisifed with it. People dislike slow trains/buses, but they hate long waits even more. People can reluctantly work their trip around an infrequent schedule to minimze waiting at the stop for the first segment, but transfer segments are completely outside their control. Three other factors are also vital but only some people are conscious of them: reliability and safety, and a good network. So those all are priorities.

        Then there are real-time signs. As Lazarus says, they’re such a basic feature of a subway that many cities like London just automatically have time. Moscow and St Petersburg cheap out by having count-up clocks: they reset to zero when the train leaves so they tell you how long since the last train. People learn by experience that the next train comes in 3-5 minutes daytime and 10 minutes after 9pm. Link has two count-up clocks but they’re for the drivers, not passengers: the southbound one is at the south end of the Mt Baker platform, and the northbound one I forget where it is. But either way, whether it’s a “minutes to” or “minutes since” clock, it has more benefit than just telling the minutes. It makes people feel better about the wait. As I said, infrequency and waiting is the #1 thing that irritates passengers the most, and the clocks make their irritation much less. Plus the clocks are democratic: everyone can see them, not just those who have smartphones and want to pull them out and be a chump for the monopolistic data rates charged by cell carriers. And worse, you see several people looking up the arrival on their smartphones simultaneously because they don’t tell each other what it says. There’s American individualism for you.

      4. Spending on real-time arrival is a choice if the underlying infrastructure (aka GPS tracking or similar) isn’t in place. There, you’re not only buying the readerboard, but installing the tracking system in every single vehicle in the system. Pierce Transit (as far as I know) doesn’t have this yet, and installing it would be costly.

      5. Well, we do have a problem with real-time signs that are wrong, such as the ones in Capitol Hill and UW Stations which are usually accurate +/- 2 minutes but are occasionally worse than that. And the RapidRide B and streetcar signs can be off by 15 or 30 minutes or just say “*refer to schedule*”. So one could argue that an inaccurate sign is not be much better than no sign. But at least an inaccurate sign may be fixed someday, while no sign means there’s the cost of paying for the sign.

  11. Does anyone know why the RapidRide D has it’s last southbound stop as 3rd and Columbia during peak periods? After the C/D split, I recall there being a stop at 5th and Terrace, near the layover spot, which is now closed due to the Yesler Bridge replacement.

    It seems like complete laziness on Metro’s part to just say screw it and have 3rd and Columbia be the last spot instead of at least attempting to find a replacement spot around the current layover spots.

    1. During peak hours there are too many buses running almost empty along 3rd Avenue. Southbound, the D, E, 40, 62, 70 are all heading to a terminal and not boarding any significant numbers of passengers. Northbound, the 7, 36, 120 are doing the same. If those buses made fewer stops on 3rd Avenue, the buses that are boarding passengers would be able to make the trip through downtown faster. Maybe it’s time for more buses to make fewer stops in downtown, particularly during peak hours.

      1. I’m with you, but doesn’t the RR D layover still around 5th and Jackson? Why not allow people to ride that last stretch? There’s a lot of workplaces south of Columbia and it’s not a short distance to get to Jackson.

  12. First there was Watergate. Then there was Defaltegate. I am now dubbing the lack of info on this blog about the SDOT head being fined Thesdotheadwasfinedandstbbloggersandcommentersarenttalkingaboutitgate. When first uttered, it might not roll off the tongue, but then I’m sure Watergate didn’t at first, either.

    1. Yes, we’ve done a very poor job of covering up a $10,000 fine. Very poor. I’m sure there is a reason Sam isn’t bothering the SeattleBikeBlog with this story.

    2. Last time you brought this up I told you the STB editors are waiting for your article. Why aren’t you writing it, or seeing which of your typing assistants has it and forgot to send it.

    3. More of a story than the fine for hiding his ties to a company he helped funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to is the sweet heart deals he handed out to cronies:
      Seattle transportation department hired Director Kubly’s former boss($)

      Kubly’s department paid Klein $6,434.14 for the two-hour library event — $5,000 to speak, plus expenses, including $1,134.20 for airfare

      In November, the department made Klein a subcontractor on a new transportation-planning consultant contract. It estimated Klein would be paid more than $8,000.

      In 2011, Klein became commissioner of Chicago’s transportation department and made Kubly his managing deputy commissioner. During their time together in Chicago, they launched a bike-share system, selecting Alta [which became Pronto] to operate it over other bidders.

      If it looks like bull dung, smells like bull dung and tastes like bull dung… Mayor Murray isn’t incompetent so the only conclusion is that the corruption goes all the way to the top.

  13. It’s been two months since Metro started its 24/7 All Door Boarding policy for Rapid Ride. Two months ago, some dude from Metro came into the comment section and this. AND I QUOTE! “Sam, staff will be working to remove signs and stickers over time, but we wanted customers to benefit from the improved operation without waiting until all the signs and stickers were first removed. Step one was to let drivers know, and we jumped out with a blog post and tweets to let riders know the good news with the pledge to revise the signs. After a few weeks, if we’ve missed a sticker or sign, please let us know.”

    As far as I can tell, you’ve missed all of them.

    1. No, I haven’t seen any stickers recently. Just yesterday I was on 3rd and I specifically noticed that I couldn’t find any stickers on the C, D, and E line buses that were passing me.

    2. An update and correction to my above Rapid Ride 24/7 article. One of my interns told one of my assistants who told me that on many of the RR buses, tape has been placed over the Use Front Door Only 7 PM – 6 AM on the doors. However, some of the off-board ORCA readers still have the time restrictions.

      – Sam. Fair and Balanced.

      1. Not to be rude, but maybe you should go out and see Metro’s problems for yourself before you complain about them.

    3. I saw a 7pm sticker on an offboard reader this weekend. I think it was the 3rd & Pike northbound stop. Metro needs to send a roving team to get rid of all the stickers, because it confuses passengers. They always were confused by this illogical rule, and by the similar pay-as-you-leave-before-7pm before it, but now they’re even more confused because the sticker says one thing and Metro’s policy announcements (if they’ve ever even seen one) say the opposite.

      1. I commend Metro for starting to tape-over the hours on the bus doors. But they really need to do a lot more than a blog post and some tweets to let people know of the change. RR riders have been conditioned for years that you tap on-board after 7, so that’s what they are still doing. How about an automatic, periodic, PSA that comes on once an hour for a month, on all RR’s, explaining the new 24/7 policy, until everyone’s educated? How come at 7:30 PM, for example, there’s a line of ORCA users waiting to tap on the bus, rather than the off-board reader? Taping over a sticker won’t teach riders they don’t have to get on the front door.

      2. I’m just glad drivers will stop slamming the door on people who enter the back door and yell at them for using it at the “wrong time”.

        Inconsistancy of enforcent didn’t help either.

  14. “It’s great to look at the congestion on Highway 162,” Sumner Communications Director Carmen Palmer wrote in an email. “However, the City of Sumner is also concerned about what will happen to those cars when they reach SR 410.”

    Great that Sumner is looking out for itself … hopefully they agree that getting more bus traffic from Ortig feeding the Sounder station is preferable to more car traffic to the Sounder station.

    1. The Sumner Transit Station currently only has service from Sounder, ST-596 shuttling between Bonney Lake P&R and Sounder, and ST-578 with Seattle to Puyallup Service which is currently the only non-peak service. It isn’t like they are overwhelmed with bus traffic and currently there isn’t any service heading up the valley towards Orting.

      I was pet sitting in Bonney Lake last week and found that the 4:20 ST-596 was almost full,with people coming off the Sounder. There’s lots more residential development happening including thousands of houses at Cascadia/Tehaleh South of Bonney Lake in addition to smaller subdivisions along the valley floor adding traffic to SR-162.

    2. Have they forgotten so soon how Sumner and Bonney Lake used to be part of Pierce Transit and were for decades, but in a Brexit-like vote they left the PT service area to avoid paying its taxes. They’re lucky ST saved their ass with a peak express bus to Sounder, which they got because they’re still in the ST district and it increases Sounder’s ridership.

      1. That may make more sense for those communities – some people are commuting into Seattle, but most trips are local and in that area it’s probably still much easier to simply drive than take a bus.

        Given land use, I think there are several areas that make sense as a part of Sound Transit service territories but wouldn’t make much sense trying to build up a local bus grid. Snoqualmie and North Bend might be good examples – they are probably open to paying for some commuter bus service, but otherwise don’t need much bus service?

  15. “Sound Transit says its fall ballot measure would cost a typical adult $14 per month in new taxes, which is a friendlier way of breaking down a yearly estimate of $169”
    Could a math whiz help me out here?
    $169 per year per household, times 2m households by 2040, times 25 years is $8.4 bn. So double that for inflation to 2041 gets you to ~$17 bn.
    $54 bn is the project cost (YOE), and subtracting $17 bn leaves a balance of $37 bn.
    Where’s that coming from, if not the “typical family” the article talks about? And that doesn’t count any existing taxes being paid.

    1. And before you jump on me, the story lead talks about families – “What would your family pay …”. Then confuses the issue with just adults counting in the calculation.

      1. Median is not mean. $14/month is for the median adult. People who have expensive cars and expensive homes and high spending habits shift the mean contribution higher.
        Also, as Rob noted, grants and existing ST taxes make up the rest.

    2. The total budget is not the same as the total tax. The total budget includes ST’s existing cash, anticipated grants, previously-saved surpluses in East King and Pierce, etc. Pierce has been saving up for the Link extension since 1996, but it couldn’t build it until Federal Way was ready to go.

    3. This is about the difference between mean and median. The measure being used for ‘typical household’ is the median, not the mean.

      The median household is the one where exactly half of households are richer and half are poorer.

      The mean is a different measure (colloquially called the average). You get the average not by counting off people until you find the one in the middle, but by adding up everybody’s money and dividing my the number of people.

      If you have 9 people making 100k and one person making 1.1 million, the median income is the income of the guy in the middle – 100k. The mean, though is (9*100k+1,100k)/10 = 200k. The mean is a convenient number because you can just multiply it by the number of people to get the total dollars, but it isn’t a good representation of typical – in the above example, it is twice as large as what is typical.

      So the story is that you can multiply 179* population to get the size of the project, because Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, et al will be paying a heck of a lot more.

      ST was smart and didn’t use the measure that is unduly influenced by their fortunes, and instead tried to do a better job of representing a typical taxpayer.

      (Also, inflation, population, and economic growth need to be accounted for)

    4. times 25 years is $8.4 bn.

      It’s not 25 years. It’s 25 years (duration of the project) plus another 30 years to pay off the bonds. ST has a history of 50/50 financing with cash and debt. It’s just that the debt part of the project ends up being cost plus interest.

  16. This may be a bit off topic, but we all knowbit costs about $100-150/hr to operate a bus. What is the figure for Light rail trains?

    1. Depends on the number of cars. The cost of adding a car is quite a bit lower than adding another train due to the cost of the driver, but it is still a cost.

      The NTD profile for Sound Transit:
      says in their 2013 documentation it was $375.20 per hour per “vehicle revenue hour” for light rail, and $194.11 for ST bus service.

      TriMet is only $188.07 per MAX vehicle revenue hour. I would imagine there are still some adjustments being made to Link that are coming out of the operating fund that will lead the number for Link to go down over time.

      1. Thank you, TGC and Glenn. $150 per hour means $2.50 per minute. Every 2 minute delay is $5.00. For 20 buses, $100.00. What’s procedure for a Freedom of Information Act request for count of rush hour operating delays in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel?

        Because I think the cost of explaining these bills to the taxpayers would result in the whole DSTT going Proof of Payment without of dime’s operating delay. Would also be great to tell both The Seattle Times and Dori Monson.

        Classic underground connection here is from a fairy tale. A beautiful princess is being threatened by an evil gnome (they always live underground), who says he’ll let her go if she guesses his name. Some other character, Walt Disney would have made it a raccoon or something, snitches.

        So Rumpelstiltskin gets so mad he stamps his way into the ground and disappears. Exactly like The Times and Dori when they discover that a lifetime chance to blast transit over finances depends on their having to do the exact thing that’ll improve transit the most.

        DSTT 2. Free.



      2. in their 2013 documentation it was $375.20 per hour per “vehicle revenue hour” for light rail

        And remember, that’s not per train it’s per vehicle. So 2X for the standard two car Link train. In reality the marginal cost of adding cars is small so it’s a very confusing way to present the figures. Suffice it to say, rail scales up really well; it doesn’t scale down.

  17. Glenn, since I often ride transit or drive past Dupont several times a week, I’ve been thinking the same thing. Not sure Dupont itself could support a street-rail system that could feed into the new Amtrak line.

    But think the whole area both sides of the Nisqually is just gearing up for some serious high speed developing. Which could include developments specifically designed as Transit Oriented. Term “jump ball” comes to mind. Every transit project involves some real estate dealing. Is ST anywhere near ready, willing, or allowed to get into the Development part the orientation?

    Swamps surrounding Olympia still have a fair amount of under- or unused freight track. Along which communities with either car track or its substructure could be built. Brian, you’ve probably pulled trains over some of this track. What do you think?


    1. It would have to be a really well synchronized bus connection scheme from Olympia. Something a bit like Island Transit does every hour with the ferry at Clinton. Probably a park and ride lot too, though make it a pay lot.

  18. Metro took away the southbound 67 stop on Roosevelt near Trader Joes when construction started there about a year ago, replacing it with a stop quite far away, south of 45th. Another SB stop is really needed between 45th and 50; northbound the stop spacing is so much better. There is now plenty of sidewalk space, even benches, at the former stop, so it makes no sense not to put this stop back.

    1. Northbound, stops at 45th, 47th, 50th, and then 52nd, are too close together. The bus should not stop every single block. If you are heading south to Trader Joes, just get off at the 50th St. stop.

      1. I agree that some of the NB stops on 11th are too close together, especially 50th and 52nd. But the stop situation on SB Roosevelt is a mess: someone getting off at 50th to go to TraderJoe’s is forced to cross the street because much of the sidewalk between 50th and 47th is closed due to construction, then needs cross the street again at 47th to be on the side of TJ. A southbound stop at 47th would make much sense.

    2. Is the southbound stop at 65th back yet? That’s an important one for transfers.

      1. Yes, that has been back for about a month or so. The SB stop on 63 has been discontinued, however, which made sense.

  19. “According to Sandrine Gourlet, a STIF deputy director who spoke to Le Figaro about the trams back in 2012, the agency calculated that forcing customers to make transfers that take longer than two minutes produces a ridership drop of 10 percent.”


    1. Who then go where? This being France…shouldn’t that be Shrug? Though for architecture and structural engineering, above all the world owes France for the Eiffel Tower.

      Year 1889. 1000 feet tall. Construction time two years. Intended to be temporary. So what do we take from this? For the sake of every public works project in the United States, starting with public transit, we need to somehow be in the same country with France, which our populations will only allow if we and France do not become each other.

      Luckily, since thanks to ex Prime Minister David Cameron (who will shortly start playing himself as a permanent character on Monty Python) the European Union has a vacancy, the answer’s been handed to us.

      Since we essentially formed the European Union two hundred years ago, first result will be that the EU will rejoin itself, though be much bigger. We’ll also be in the same country as Scotland. Portland already has a fried haggis truck. since England still has centuries-old claims on France- well Kenneth Branagh thought so!- they’re stuck there anyhow.

      But even worse, through their French connection, when we’re in the EU, the Brits will have us back too. Bruce Nourish, since our four letter words are so sissified, what’s the British term for this? And. And. And.

      We’ll have the Chunnel! And since we and France are in the same country with them, we can stop the English from blowing up their side of it. But…(French word accompanying shrugs) two minute one second tramway transfers could totally overload TGV bullet trains.


  20. I will assume this is Pokemon Go related…

    I was riding the 75 a couple of nights ago. 1 college-aged guy sitting alone at a bus stop. The bus stops and driver looks at guy expectantly. Guy is totally immersed in phone, doesn’t even notice bus stopped. After a few seconds, the driver shrugs and drives off. Guy finally notices the bus and runs after it to no avail.

    It sucks for the guy since the next 75 wasn’t for 30 minutes, but I don’t blame the driver. Phones shouldn’t stop people from dealing with reality.

    1. No games on my phone, but I do like the alarm I can set on PDXBus that tells me when the bus is getting close.

    2. My kids are currently totally absorbed by PokemanGo. Usually when I leave the house to drive somewhere they couldn’t care less about where I’m heading; but now that they have PoGo on their phones, anytime I head to the car they are ready to jump in with me and go along for the ride.

      Unfortunately, PoGo doesn’t seem to be optimized for easy use by transit users, but it sure is sweeping the nation.

  21. Looks like Miami Beach may be getting a tram line designed by Alstom. The Railway Gazette article makes it sound more like light rail as it will have dedicated lanes.

    One very significant other thing: if it happens this will be the first application in North America of the Alstom non-catenary power system for street railways. This is a lot like third rail power for subways or railroads like the Long Island Rail Road or the Tacoma to Seattle interurban. However, unlike older third rail systems, their APS ground power system shuts off the power to any section that isn’t covered by the train. Thus, it is safe for use on street railways.

    1. That’s an induction system? I’ve read about those. They’re supposed to be live only when a train with a compatible metal bottom is on top of them. But they still scare me because what if somebody walking by or biking by or driving by has something that inducts that they hadn’t anticipated?

      1. It’s not exactly induction. It’s third rail, but turns on and off. I think it only turns on with a coded radio signal from very close range:

        It would be a non-battery way of getting trolley buses and light rail on the same traffic lane.

        It could be used to power trains going uphill in the Boeing branch from Mukilteo to a Link connection, without worrying about wide loads on the line.

    2. Thanks, Glen. Does this mean that since the rail vehicles won’t need wire overhead, both DSTT’s will now be able to run electric buses, either with the two-wire catenary buses need, or with buses also fitted for third rail?

      I think third rail also gives a much better contact than overhead wires. Also one less transit related thing to save people’s trails from.


      1. Don’t think the trolley buses would be able to take third rail juice, but maybe.

        It’s definitely one way of getting light rail overhead away from trolley bus wires.

  22. Speaking of bikes changing American cities and linking it with the comments about a lot of bikes on Link from the mailbag podcast, I want to throw this question out there again: Say you’re a bike rider in this area and you’ve been doing bike plus transit to get around for some time. What do you do if you’re in a situation where a bus shows up with a full bike rack and that bus is the last trip of the night across a difficult barrier. (In my example, route 545 back to Seattle from Overlake TC at 11:30pm.)

    When I asked before, a few months ago, all of the replies said that scenario is unlikely. Since the weather has gotten better, I’ve been keeping count and roughly 20% of the last-run trips I take on the 545 have full bike racks. If I had ridden, like will soon become a lot more needed after I move, I’d be stuck, I think.

    Surely bicyclists have run into this before; what do y’all do? Take a cab and hope it can carry the bike? (I’m seriously considering a folding bike for next year but the affordable ones aren’t rated for my fat self. :) )

    1. If the bus has room, and the driver is sympathetic (they usually are), I try to take it on the bus. Luckily I’ve never run into the situation where it’s the last run, the rack is full, and the bus is full.

      1. I’ve seen that happen two or three times on the 545, and it wasn’t even the last run of the night. (One time, it was even my bike. Thanks, driver!)

      2. Very serious about this, because we really want to encourage bicycle travel. Suppose we have trucks, vans, or buses with all seats pulled or folded up, ready to follow express buses when demand warrants? Especially when it always does.

        I think riders would be more than willing to pay extra fare for this service. Add it to ORCA. For trains, still think fourth car with foldable seats will work, for both bikes and baggage.

        I also think we’ll end up going back to my own early Chicago “L” days, when many stores delivered to people’s homes. This time, with cost billed to passenger’s VISA account.

        A lot of things, Transit doesn’t even have to plan for it. Nobody asked ST or KCM for the whole app concept, did they?


    2. If you’re coming back from a late shift at work, a rentable bike locker at the stations might be a help.

    3. My advice is to never depend on available rack space for the last trip of the night, for this very reason.

      1. That’s what I do now but after I move, the nearest stop to get me to and from work without taking three buses–at least until East Link opens–is a long walk or a relatively short bike ride.

        Even if it weren’t, it seems silly to me to have all of these agencies and people encouraging the use of bikes plus transit as an alternative to cars but then leave people in situations where they can’t get home. (To Glenn in Portland’s comment, I’ve been told that there is a rather stout waiting list for a bike locker at Overlake TC.)

        This goes double for people with bikes being able to just slide wherever they like or can fit on the shiny new light rail that doesn’t go to most of the region but that same courtesy isn’t extended to the goes virtually everywhere bus system.

      2. That very stout waiting list means someone needs to get on the ball and install more of them.

      3. They aren’t encouraging bikes, they only have the token appearence of it. If they wanted to encourage bikes they’d plan for thirty bikes rather than two or three.

    4. This why I almost always entirely bike or entirely take transit. I don’t like the idea that I might get there and find the rack full. But I’m also a fit male in my 20s, so a lot more trips are bike accessible to me. Here is a fun idea. Might not fit your circumstance, but I think it funny. Get two junk mountain bike off craigslist and two fat Ulocks. Grab bike one at your house, bike to a random pole near bus one, lock and ride. Get off the bus and find the last pole you parked your work side bike to. Ride that to work. Same in reverse.

      1. That’s what I was suggesting the bike lockers for.

        As an added bit of protection to the above scheme, you could get quick release front tires and take them with you.

    1. Thanks, Joe. But hope the museum has at least one A-10 “Warthog” close-air support plane. Because this is an aircraft whose engineers, for a change, can finally build a machine that can hold up to the facts of heavy duty surface passenger service.

      Including buses or railcars that can do the rush hour ground-vehicle equivalent of arriving at terminal with a wing shot off. Which would probably also be under constant political-budgetary threat to be pulled from service and replaced by something weaker, more complicated, expensive and constituent connected.

      Really, the A-10 is sort of an airborne PCC streetcar. Third rail, pantograph or trolley-wheel still under flight tests. Let us know when the Museum gets one, Joe.


  23. How full is the Tacoma Dome park and ride lot at around 8:30 to 9 am on a weekday?

    I assume it’s close to full but with UW Tacoma out of session for summer is there much chance of an empty space?

    1. Here’s the thing: According to the data I’ve seen, Lakewood Transit Center is horribly underused, while Tacoma Dome is at or near capacity. The Lakewood parking structure is already built. However, the half-hour it takes to get from Lakewood to Tacoma Dome on the bus means a lot of people are going to drive to Tacoma Dome unless they are aiming for one of the Sounder trains that originates at Lakewood.

      It’s still a park and ride structure, but it seems to me the closer you can bring fast, efficient transit to where people live, the better. In places like Lakewood, you still wind up with parking structures, but they could be parking structures that are smaller and somewhat more neighborhood friendly rather than massive things like Tacoma Dome or Lynnwood.

    2. I parked in the T. Dome lot on Monday at 3PM. We got the only stall open on the first level. I don’t know how full it was up above. When I came back at 5PM the first level was almost 1/2 empty. I guess that makes sense as the early birds take the most convenient spaces. I’ll add that Tacoma Link both directions was quite well used. All seats used at 3PM (included a group of ~8 kids going to the Museum). At 5PM there were a number of standees. Strangely, the UW Tacoma stop was virtually unused.

  24. I’ll take advantage of this open thread to see if I can garner insight into a new bus route on Queen Anne.

    Early this week, it seems a new Route 985 began operating articulated non-trolley buses from Seattle Pacific University to Seattle Center. I wouldn’t have known anything about it except it stops right near my home. No indications of it on the bus stop signs, and the Metro site has only a schedule – no map or even intermediate stops to indicate which route it takes (it’s 5th/Taylor down the hill). I’ve sent a request to Metro for more information, using their web form. Any clue as whether it’s temporary? Does it meet some special need for SPU? On Monday, Metro even repainted the curb at my nearby stop to lengthen it for the artics!

    1. I noticed this as well. The 900 serious routes are usually for schools, but since it’s summer vacation it wouldn’t be for any of the elementary or middle schools on QA. You’ve already thought of the only plausible explanation, that it’s for Seattle Pacific. I’d love to hear what metro says about it.

    2. A few more clues?…
      -The Metro schedule online is said to be good for 7/11-8/12.
      -It runs 5x daily on weekdays, 6x on Saturdays. No Sunday service.
      -No info/announcement to be found under Metro’s “Alerts & Updates”
      -After more than 48 hours, Metro has not responded to my online inquiry.
      -Seems uncharacteristic to run an artic unless large groups are to expected. Perhaps SPU’s facilities are housing participants for some programs at Seattle Center?

      I’m sorta new to Seattle (not quite 2 years), so I may be missing something about how Metro operates special routes.

      1. AFAIK the bus is for students in Pacific Northwest Ballet’s summer residential ballet camps that use SPU dorms for housing. Rather than overwhelming the 13 with dozens of extra riders they get a special bus.

        I used to ride the 13 regularly in the PM commute from 2008-2012. A lot of ballet students used to ride the 13 back to SPU in the summers. Back then the special bus may have only been in the morning – I never saw it in the evening commute so either it was not running or some students stayed late and took the 13 instead.

      2. Thanks, folks! That answers lots of questions.

        And I guess the new paint on the curb at my stop is unrelated. It seems the 985 doesn’t load or unload at any intermediate stops. And it is mildly interesting that they’ve been dispatching an artic for this – maybe they have more of them as spares or are more conveniently pulling them off another route. I doubt they are crowded.

        Again, thanks. The hive-mind can be counted on to solve little mysteries!

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