Howell Street "Bus Lanes"(Sounder Bruce)
Howell Street “Bus Lanes”(Sounder Bruce)

When I drive my Subaru downtown, which I do several times a week for business, I feel something I don’t often feel as a transit rider: I feel respected. Not only do I have all the traditional power of wielding heavy machinery, but I have vast city resources at my disposal. Despite taking up an enormous amount of space, most of the right-of-way is mine alone. At every major parking garage entrance, a uniformed police officer stands ready to hold others back for my access. Loud, dissonant warnings accompany my every move: “Caution, vehicle exiting!”. And I can drive wherever I please – in bus lanes, turning left on red against a bike lane, etc – with the near assurance that I won’t get caught.

When the grid gets backed up during PM peak, I know that I can cheat a little, blocking the box to make sure I get through during the next cycle. If there are buses behind me crush loaded with commuters, that’s their problem not mine. You see, I have places to be and space to take up.

And so it was on a hot, sunny day last week that I found myself needing to get to Green Lake during the afternoon rush. I left my business vehicle parked in Belltown, thinking that the priority of red bus lanes would make for a speedier trip. How could I have been so foolish?

As I stood in the heat watching 3 individuals in 3 cars claim their entitlement to civic space, backing up nearly a dozen buses and a couple hundred passengers for 20 minutes, I thought of all the officers who helped them out of their garages as an off-duty courtesy instead of enforcing basic laws relating to transit priority.

And this is the joke of surface transit. The mobility of the many subjugated to the whims of the few, or the one. The integrity of the network dependent on the social cooperation of each individual, each of whom has every incentive to cheat and little fear of getting caught. Hundreds of buses sitting in traffic costing taxpayers $2.50 per minute, and agencies that need to come back to us for more funding because a minority of people claim a majority of space.

And in a backhanded way, all of our efforts into protected bike lanes and bus lanes actually reinforce the supremacy of cars. We only need to carve out small modal slices for non-cars because we assume the right of free car access as the baseline condition. Instead of freedom through open access (woonerf-style calming), we tend to over-engineer our streets (cough, Broadway) and take away their resilience because we are working at cross purposes, trying to be pro-bike and pro-transit progressives while maintaining priority for the movement and storage of cars.

So until we get serious about enforcement and I feel as respected on a bus as I do in my Subaru, I just won’t have much of an ear for “Buses or BRT can be as good Link” type arguments, and if I have the privilege of other options I’ll exercise them. You won’t catch me on a peak hour bus, and definitely not on a streetcar. Give me grade separated transit or give me my bike. But our half-million bus riders a day deserve better.

</rant>

150 Replies to “Without Plausible Enforcement, Surface Transit is Hopeless”

  1. I just can’t believe that people drive in bus lanes. I mean, I see it all the time, but I just can’t understand how they feel that’s OK.

    I would also make the point of emphasizing box blocking, as that is as rude to every user of the street as it is to transit. It seems to be more and more common, and is just bad citizenship. I’ll save myself a light cycle and cost a dozen people the same. Why not?

    1. …I just can’t understand how they feel that’s OK.

      Well, since this post got linked to /r/Seattle on Reddit, I feel comfortable giving you these two links with comments that explain why: https://www.reddit.com/r/Seattle/comments/4qsfl8/if_youre_one_of_the_people_who_drive_in_the/ and https://www.reddit.com/r/Seattle/comments/3webp0/seattle_drivers_in_restricted_lanes/

      It comes down to a feeling of entitlement. The pavement is present, it is “unoccupied,” and the person is entitled to get where he or she is going faster than the non-risk-takers who are cowed by paint (and a respect for society and its laws) into staying in the general purpose lanes. There is also a small sense of putting one over on transit riders because the person taking the lane is opposed to transit.

    2. I mean, I see it all the time, but I just can’t understand how they feel that’s OK.

      As Zach’s post subtly observes, cars, at least in the present social and legal milieu, are entitlement-producing machines.

    3. I don’t drive but I can see how it’s sometimes impossible not to block the box because you think the car in front will give you enough space but at the last second it doesn’t. And sometimes turning on red is the only way to turn at all because the lanes are continuously blocked with cars and pedestrians until it turns red, and if you wait till the next cycle you’ll be waiting through the entire cycle and never get through.

      1. Well, legally, until the car in front of you actually has left enough room for you to clear the intersection, it’s illegal for you to even start into the intersection. Unless the car ahead of you backs up, blocking the box is on you.

        Except, of course, for people making illegal right turns on red. Right on red has legal restrictions that are almost never enforced — it’s illegal to make a right on red if doing so prevents someone with a green light from going through the intersection.

        That’s especially important for buses — there’s no good reason SPD shouldn’t put a motorcycle cop on a corner and write up five drivers in a row who make a right-on-red in front of a bus at rush hour. Tell the media ahead of time, get it on the evening news with shots of the scofflaw drivers, let everyone else know that illegal right on red will no longer be tolerated.

      2. At least in some states, there are special rules for turning left at intersections which don’t have left-turn cycles, to make sure one left-turner can get through per cycle. That’s the only reason I know of for blocking the box — dealing with obnoxious opposing traffic which won’t give you a gap.

    4. Not to mention all the HOV / Bus lanes on our highways, on-ramps and off-ramps which are full of single occupant drivers.

      Very little enforcement is done to change attitudes and behavior; heck, these daily HOV cheaters have even started tinting their windshields, knowing there’s little enforcement in that realm, either!

    5. In the red Battery Street bus lane, it’s actually necessary (insofar as driving is necessary) for motorists to weave right, across the red lane, if they aim to turn right (east) on Denny, or switchback right on southbound Seventh Avenue, or to reach a handful of businesses. More engineering is needed to prevent these conflicts, though SDOT might wind up causing different conflicts if they change the lane layouts there.

  2. It is a tragedy of the commons in action. I don’t know if there is any solution to this CF called the personal automobile, but a hefty carbon tax and progressive car tax would probably be a good start. But, if I’m going to talk in hypotheticals, I might as well wish for petroleum producers to stop lobbying for land grants and subsidies.

    1. I recommend global financial crisis leading to consumer deleveraging and an increase in the US personal savings rate.

  3. Another great thing about driving in a SOV downtown is that you can not only get your kicks by blocking the box, you can really rev up your entitlement and block the crosswalk! Oh and red lights? Those are now merely a suggestion. Just blow through them. No one has or ever will get a ticket for any of these enriching activities. You have get home RIGHT NOW after all. Teevee is on tonight!

    1. I was just walking back to work via Stewart from Target and did see an entitled car driver stop in the crosswalk of Stewart/2nd. A glare from me and I walked behind his car. Would have said something (but not explicit) had the windows been rolled down. Sitting mid-crosswalk in your own car means no human interaction, of course!

    2. I wish more pedestrians would give cars blocking crosswalks a good smack. I have no sympathy for crosswalk blockers; they know exactly what they are doing.

  4. Well-said. Great photo by SounderBruce showing from a unique vantage point the madness of not enforcing bus-only lanes. BRT only works when grade separated and quite frankly can you imagine the politics of an entire road lane of I-5 dedicated solely to buses? That’s why although the cost is high, ST3 is the only way to go.

      1. Indeed. Best part of:

        In the US, BRT creep is a big problem. Generally speaking the main reason American cities opt to build BRT instead of rail is to cut a corner and make it less expensive. Once you’ve adopted that view of your transit system – that cutting corners to save money is OK – it’s too easy to keep going and cut a lot of other corners as well. Once you’ve made the decision to cheap out and go with BRT rather than rail, then your priorities are clear and the temptation to cheap out in other ways is too strong to pass up.

  5. I’m wary of automatic red light cameras, as they have a long history of being set up as profit engines for those who make them (typically they’re installed for free, and then the manufacturer get a piece of every ticket issued), with little concern for accuracy. As a result they’re set up to nab a whole lot of people who make legal right turns on red, or left turners clearing the intersection, who decide to pay the fee rather than take the time to fight it.

    But if it can be done correctly, automated enforcement makes a ton of sense for bus lanes and box blocking. Cameras are cheap these days. If people know a ticket is coming if you block the box or drive in the bus lane (or are in the same BAT lane for two blocks), they’re gonna avoid the ticket.

    1. I’ve never gotten a red light ticket, but supposedly the way they work here is they record the vehicle from several different directions as well as three seconds of video so it is possible to see what actually happened.

      One of the intersections near me has these, and I have made legal left (one way to one way) and right turns on red there just fine without ever getting a ticket.

    2. Washington State law prohibits the abuses seen elsewhere with red light cameras. Signals are required by law to be timed properly, with adequate yellow intervals per MUTCD specs, and it’s illegal to shorten the yellow interval after installing a camera. Doesn’t mean it never happens, of course, but it does mean the tickets are invalid if the signal is noncompliant.

    3. I haven’t gotten a red light ticket, but I’ve seen the video from a friend’s. My friend was certain that he stopped before making the right hand turn. The video was clear as day that he didn’t.

    4. Having for profit companies handing out citations is a really, really, really bad idea. Once the government gives a corporation a feeding trough, it’s hard to take it away. And then they’ll start wanting more, as we’ve clearly seen.

      I’d much rather the camera citation service be done in state, by either a department in the state/county/city or a non-profit agency overseen by the state/county/city. It’s clear that it would be a self-sustaining service, would create jobs in our state and keep the money in the state.

      Now if I just had Tim Eyman’s initiative writing gusto…

  6. With today’s technology and a bit of engineering (such as smart license plates), it would be feasible to anonymously track every vehicle on the road that is licensed to drive on public roads, such that if/when any laws are violated, the driver is informed and warned. Beyond some threshold, anonymity goes away, and the vehicle is reported to authorities, in real time. This violates nobody’s privacy except those who endanger public safety. If anyone goes 61 mph in a residential zone (which does happen), we should know who they are.

    With this information, we’d not only discourage bad behavior, we’d also collect data that could teach us how to encourage good behavior through good design of the streetscape, better signal operations, etc. Obviously it would take some changes in public policy to implement.

    Enforcement of transit priority would be integrated into such a system. Short of something this ambitious, perhaps something that allows members of the public to report bad behavior with smartphones might help, using an app that prevents photo spoofing.

  7. It’s not hopeless, Seattle just puts no effort into the enforcement side of this. Bus lane cameras work wonders for this, e.g. in Sydney (http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/roads/using-roads/buses/bus-lanes.html) and NYC (http://www1.nyc.gov/nyc-resources/service/1286/bus-lane-camera-violations).

    What would be cool was if the state embedded RFID readers into license plates, and then you could just install readers in the ground and avoid all the hassle of having cameras (and make it harder for people to spot where they can cheat).

    1. Welcome to the panopticon, where the state knows your location and pattern of movement at all times.

      1. Well, one of the original efficiencies of the panopticon was that the state didn’t have to always know your location or movement. It is intended to influence behavior by creating the assumption of constant monitoring.

      2. Google already knows where most people are most of the time. That’s how they get the traffic data on their maps. Is having the government know what private corporations already know that big a jump?

        Besides, you could take transit and avoid that.

      3. I don’t think SDOT/WSDOT are really going to branch out into spying on civilians. It isn’t really in their mission statement.

      4. They don’t have to. If the data exists, the agencies will make excuses until they gain access to it.

  8. As a driver on I90 every morning, I’d hazard 1/4 of the HOV users are SOV. What’s much more abused are the HOV on ramps, where you can bypass the ramp meters. Frankly, every day I sit and wait 3 minutes to get onto I90 on the on-ramp while the HOV bypass ramp sits empty, I marvel at the civic obedience of all the SOV drivers who patiently wait in the metered lanes … there is zero enforcement of HOV on-ramps.

    1. You do realize that certain sections of the I90 HOV lane are open to SOV traffic right? I drive in the I90 HOV Lane by myself every work day, perfectly legally. No tickets in ten years.

      Are you new in town by chance?

  9. What’s wrong with being stuck in traffic for a few minutes? Maybe the problem is your impatience and not the temporary delay. Most people read or listen to music in congestion. Impatient people seeth. The fact is, the system works. Other than that, love the first world problems rant.

    1. Delays will happen during rush hour regardless. These few drivers are unnecessary delaying hundreds of transit riders. We need better enforcement.

    2. You seem to have willfully missed the point that hundreds of people are delayed by individuals driving illegally. SOV drivers are the ones who should sit in the traffic they create.

    3. Multiply the delay by hundreds of instances in Seattle and then by all the cities in the world and that’s an extraordinary amount of CO2 wasted for the benefit of a selfish few. We cannot continue to treat our only atmosphere as a garbage dump without paying a terrible price.

      1. Hence why we need grade separated transit. Where the actions of one have less chance of affecting the others.

  10. This argument goes both ways. Bus drivers, especially those who steer the articulated monsters, need take extra care in not blocking the box, and pull completely out of traffic lanes at stops. Just like SOV drivers, it only takes a few to mess up a lot of traffic.

    1. I’ve seen drivers of articulated buses do what you suggest. While they wait for a 60′ space on the far side of the intersection there will be a steady stream of SOV drivers making a right on red to fill in that gap. Similarly, many (most?) SOV drivers won’t yield to a bus trying to pull out from a stop. I don’t disagree that buses can mess up traffic by blocking lanes, but the cause problem is the SOV drivers (or lack of enforced, dedicated bus lanes).

      1. Case in point: A few days ago, I slowed down to let a bus pull away from a stop and got honked at (by the car behind me) for doing so. At the same time, my passenger says “why did you do that, now we’re stuck behind a bus.”

      2. Note that taking a right-on-red in front of a bus that’s waiting for space on a green is clearly illegal, just entirely unenforced. You can only take a right on red if doing so doesn’t interfere with someone else’s green movement. RCW 46.61.055 (3)(a)

    2. and pull completely out of traffic lanes at stops

      In some alternative universe where drivers overwhelmingly followed the ‘yield to buses’ rule, I’d be inclined to agree. In this world? No way. Cars illegally delay buses in too many other ways, stealing the our time and our tax dollars, to support giving them one more way.

    3. Been there, seen an operator do just that. It was on the 44 turning left from 15th onto 45th. We got to wait for 25 minutes at that light, with a quickly growing line of buses blocked up, just so that SOVs could block the box rather than a bus.

      The resolution ended up being the operator asking the bus for a vote (by cheering!) as to whether he should just block the box. The motion carried unanimously.

      Of course, the real problem is that somehow, for 25 minutes and despite several hundred bus passengers being inconvenienced, none of our various law enforcement agencies could be bothered to do their jobs and send up someone to direct traffic for a little bit, or two people so someone could ticket the box blockers.

    4. Um, “No”. Given the overweening selfishness of many SOV drivers refusing to let the bus merge, leaving the tail of one of “the articulated monsters” hanging out in the travel lane is just good business.

      Many Metro buses have electrically lighted “Yield” signs on the left rear of the bus. They light up when the left turn signal is activated. So, on those buses there is already circuitry linked into the turn signal wiring. A rear facing camera just below the sign which starts recording when the light goes on would work wonders when drivers start getting $300 tickets.

      All Metro buses should also carry forward-facing cameras which record constantly when in a bus lane. The bus’s GPS can turn them on and off without requiring the driver to do anything to activate them. Hook the rear-facing ones into that system too and you’d have frequent “sweep” enforcement of all the City’s red lanes.

      What’s not to like?

      1. Not to nit-pick, too much, but I think you are thinking of Portland on the lighted yield signs on buses. As a daily metro bus commuter for 13 years, I’ve never seen a KC metro bus with a lighted sign. Pretty sure I’ve seen them in Portland though.

      2. I think C-Tran has those too, but TriMet certainly does. They’re about as effective as a flashing middle finger emblem would be. In fact, that might be more effective.

  11. Oh, and by the way, to all of you who dismiss the idea of the Metro 8 Subway for the Central District, just go ahead and tack this article onto my ever-growing list of reasons why it is absurd that such a route isn’t on the table. There is physically nowhere to put bus only lanes (check out SDOT’s “RapidRide+” map for the UW/Rainier corridor, note how the only dedicated lanes appear on Rainier and nowhere on 23rd Ave). Even if they could be squeezed in–not going to happen now that 23rd Ave is almost done being rebuilt–nothing would stop people from driving in them. So we’re back to having some of the most used bus routes in the entire county sitting in mixed traffic with a ton of bottlenecks.

    1. I don’t think anybody “dismiss[es] the idea of the Metro 8 Subway”. There’s controversy about whether it should run along 23rd or 14th, but I think everyone on this blog would strongly support it. The question is how to pay for it. It’s obvious that Sound Transit does not consider it a “regional asset”.

  12. Similar thought, but taken further (and a bit aside from the enforcement angle): why don’t we have a network of bus (or even HOV) lanes through downtown, for buses from every direction? I’m talking I-5 N/S, 520, I-90, major surface streets, etc.

    It’s maddening to sit in traffic in a packed bus and see 3 or 4 people in cars take up the same amount of space in the next lane compared to the 50-60 people on the bus, and it just doesn’t make any sense. Keep the space for cars, but give right-of-way to public transit pretty much everywhere through downtown. People are feel free to drive if they want, but not at the expense of transit.

    In my opinion, driving into downtown should be possible, but slow, inconvenient, and expensive compared to the alternatives.

    1. We do, north-south. The transit tunnel was and is for buses, though will eventually be for rail only. 3rd Street is mostly bus only during rush hour.

      In the future, 1st Ave will have dedicated transit lanes with the Center City Streetcar, and Madison will get a chunk of bus only centers lanes, albeit not much west of I5. Outside of downtown, SDOT’s HCT corridors will prioritize transit along select arterials, though more political support is needed to get more transit only lanes.

      This is also the point of truncating bus routes to stations outside of downtown and letting grade-separated Link take car of moving people in & out of downtown.

  13. BTW, what is plausible enforcement? Is that a cop standing at all major intersections during rush hour? And what’s the deal with calling it rush HOUR? Since when is 3 PM to 7 PM considered an hour? That’s my time, everyone. You’ve been a great crowd. I’ll be here all week.

    1. Similar to fare enforcement on Link? A dedicated team that rotates around locations to be there in force to enforce. Don’t need to be there all the time, but often enough to train people to understand they should be following the rules (and sometimes teaching them what the rules are)

    2. Why not just mount cameras on the buses? They could be used not just for BAT lane enforcement, but also for people who can’t be bothered to yield for a bus pulling back into traffic. We already have them for school buses, and even have legislation around them:

      http://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=46.63.180

      So let’s get them on transit buses as well. I bet there are entire routes that Metro would break even on, without even fares or tax subsidies.

    3. Well, Sam, world-renowned transit journalists have adopted “peak period” for that very reason. You might want to update your terminology if you want to keep your “world’s most influential” title.

  14. The other day I watched a car turn illegally onto 3rd during rush hour and continue through multiple lights, past the Do Not Enter signs. The King County Sheriff Transit SUV directly behind them did nothing. Well, nothing but also drive through all those signs.

    1. Third should not have any cars on it at all, still amazed that they haven’t made it a transit mall by this point.

    2. Pretty lame, indeed. On a hay note though, SPD does frequently enforce the bus only sections of 3rd Ave with a motorcycle officer. I would say I see them once a month or so (and that’s just when I see them). Clearly they just need more of those guys to enforce the BAT lanes.

  15. Since others have mentioned red light cameras and bus lane cameras, don’t overlook crosswalk cameras, too — the other Washington has been using them for some time to crack down on drivers who fail to stop for occupied crosswalks; they can also be used to ticket drivers who stop on top of a crosswalk, blocking it. They generate revenue entirely from scofflaws, and the tickets are easy to avoid by simply not driving like an asshole.

    1. Funny you should mention crosswalks. I almost got hit by a car halfway through the crosswalk between the park triangle at 2nd Ave Ext S and S Jackson St around 11:45 am Saturday. The owner of the car that came inches from hitting me scowled at me as I finished crossing. As I turned to get his license plate#, he scowled even more. A simple look of apology would have been reassuring he had realized his error. But apparently he thought pedestrians have no right to the crosswalk.

      So, owner of the car with license plate AWW4098, know that a parking patrol officer saw the incident. But she said because the car stopped just before hitting me, there wasn’t anything she could do.

      I hope she is wrong about that, or crosswalks are meaningless.

    2. Two ways to get in serious trouble driving in Doha (Qatar) – 1) drive drunk; 2) stop your car at an intersection with ANY part of it over the white stop/crosswalk line.

      On the flip side, the drivers are mostly escapees from an insane asylum and tend to drive per the laws (or lack of) of their country of origin, and locals never get ticketed anyway.

  16. Some random thoughts:

    1) If the lanes are not going to be enforced, we might all be better off getting rid of them. They’re mostly empty, because the buses can’t squeeze past rude motorists occupying 1 1/2 lanes, and the majority of SOV drivers aren’t using them. Worst of both worlds.

    2) As any parent knows, setting out clear rules and then failing to enforce them is a recipe for disaster. The erosion of respect for fair play, and the rule of law generally, has a corrosive effect on a society. Once lost, it is difficult to rebuild (just ask ). See also, “Who gets to drive multiple blocks on Bell Street?”

    3) Enforcement of the bus lanes seems like a no-brainer to me, revenue just sitting on the table. So I’m struggling to understand why it’s not happening. Riding in a bus at rush hour is a good way to see where your city’s priorities really lie.

    4) Stuck on the bus in PM traffic yesterday, I thought, Why not crowdsource enforcement and have it work like HOV lanes? Just email or tweet a photo of the perp’s car with license plate visible, and they get a friendly warning letter. No fines until the 2nd or 3rd or whatever infraction. Trust me, there are plenty of bored bus passengers who’d be happy to help out.

    1. If the lanes are not going to be enforced, we might all be better off getting rid of them.

      This is a spectacularly bad idea. They’re not as effective as they could or should be, but they’re not useless yet either. This would obviously slow down a lot of buses.

      1. I think my respondents misunderstand. To clarify, I see three options:

        1) Enforce the lanes
        2) Get rid of the lanes
        3) Status quo

        My point is that we have selected, in typical Seattle fashion, the worst possible option: #3. I do think #2 would be marginally better, although still bad. Obviously, #1 would be preferable.

      2. Why is #3 worse than #2? The lanes are still a net improvement for buses, even without full compliance. #2 makes transit considerably slower–why is that better?

    2. The person submitting the photo should get 1/3 of the fine. Now there’s some good “conservative” incenting in action!

  17. (Sorry, angle brackets ate my comment. Should read “just ask –insert favorite third-world country here–“.

  18. the officers who helped them out of their garages as an off-duty courtesy instead of enforcing basic laws

    Well, it’s not like the cops are doing this for free just because of their love of SOV drivers. The parking garages are paying them just like they do a
    concierge to provide a good customer experience. Of course when the garage owner is paying the bill the officers will naturally favor the drivers vs say the pedestrians walking down the sidewalk.

    Automatic enforcement has been pretty well covered. I’ll just add that lack of enforcement requires unlawful driving. Say for instance you’re leaving the parking garage at the Seattle Center. Once someone finally lets you in you’re trapped at the light on Mercer trying to turn left. When you get a green you can’t go because traffic is blocking the intersection. The only way, and I do mean the only way to get out is to creep into the intersection thereby “blocking the box” and pushing your way in when the light turns green for Mercer; which may be more than one light cycle. How much was spent of “fixing” the Mercer Mess without as much as a second thought of what happens when a multi-story parking garage all tries to leave at the same time? SDOT seems more concerned with high visibility projects like loads of green paint even when in some cases it makes life more dangerous for cyclists. Enforcing the laws that exist? That’s negative PR. Maybe someone should ask why this is at one of Scott Kubly’s taxpayer funded talks by his cronies.

    1. Lets face the fact that the city population and SOV growth is faster than any possible car oriented infrastructure can handle. A ban on new parking garages would be a start. Owning a car is not a constitutionally granted right, so how about congestion pricing on SOVs like they do in London, based on the length of the vehicle..

      1. All current transportation policy avoids the giant elephant in the room, free road use. Any transportation plan should include a rethinking of our public road system. Our public road infrastructure has been inefficiently utilized since its grand expansion during the last 60 years. For it to be efficiently utilized, each mile of road should have a limit to the number of vehicles allowed, and pricing should be established to prevent the demand from exceeding this maximum. Without essential road pricing in place, any environmental goals will never be realized, and road congestion will continue to increase exacerbating the already huge negative environmental impacts. An effective road pricing policy will provide for significant reduction in air pollution, safer roads, and faster commute times. With road pricing, transportation agencies will be able to design future transportation around uncongested roadways which will result in mass transit options that transport significantly more people at faster speeds than will be achieved with antiquated rail line dominant plans. The future of transportation has to be multi-modal with road pricing at its core, adding roadway intelligence and automated vehicles as the technology develops.

        This type of rational transportation policy will address all of the concerns that everybody is always complaining about.

    2. This brings up a point – if off-duty cops are being privately employed to manage traffic at garages, then they should not carry the authority of the police during that job, and if they don’t carry that authority, then they shouldn’t be in uniform.

      1. I do have an issue with “The Badge” being a hired gun. However, police are hired for other private functions such as escorting funeral processions where they control traffic.My issue with the parking garages is, what gives them the right to install a defacto traffic light that operates to their benefit at the expense of general traffic? If a parking garage impacts traffic the owners should pay for mitigation. Mitigation being something that lessens the impact of their garage not amplifying it.

    1. We built a bus tunnel the length of DT but the buses that go everywhere are displaced to the surface to make way for trains that go from the airport to DT and the UW (with sports events and a smattering of social justice thrown it for good measure). Sure subways are important and DT U-Dist is #1 but for the money spent (like $1Billion for a Beacon Hill tunnel/art gallery) you’d hope we could take a step forward without taking two steps backward. Instead we’re proposing grade separated rail to Tacoma and Everett while ignoring 1st Hill and replacing the lost bus tunnel. Yet there’s still enough money in ST’s pot of gold that everyone in Issaquah is promised a free pony.

      1. Bernie, you’ve got legit complaint about DSTT buses, if you’d use it: From opening day almost 26 years ago, KC Metro has been willfully lazy about taking a single one of the dispatch control measures designed into the system to keep vehicles from bunching up.

        If we’d use them, we could keep a lot of buses off city streets for enough years to get rail built out to where it can seriously help Downtown bus traffic. Because you’re dead wrong about fast train rides between major destinations serving nothing in between.

        A lot of 71-2-3 series buses don’t have to run surface through South Lake Union and the CBD. And whatever south-end service isn’t being turned at Rainier Beach, Othello, or Mr. Baker Station can be, tomorrow. Much easier than getting Seattle bus lanes enforced.

        But let’s see your transit route, rubber wheels or steel, from Downtown to anywhere along Rainier Valley and points south if Beacon Hill Tunnel wasn’t there. Spent a whole night aboard my trolleybus stuck at Third and Marion because traffic literally frozen in place – blizzard like that movie about the hole in the atmosphere- trying to get from First Hill to I-90.

        Federal law requires that 1% of a funded project budget go to public art, and for a very good reason. A lot of passengers won’t go into a deep concrete tube or box if it looks like they’re rats trapped in a storm drain. Or will panic if they have to stay there. Where rats naturally think they have a right to be.

        So for one percent less money, we could’ve had a system that people would rather be stuck in surface motorized traffic to avoid. When Montpelier finally turns into a city, Bernie, you’re welcome to tell the Feds to go stuff it and let your subway get by with no art.

        But right now, I think the thousands of young people backing your campaign will go with Hilary over this one. And start accusing you of getting your transit funding info from Fox News. Because complaint sounds exactly like Dori Monson, who actually works for a thinly disguised shadow subsidiary.

        Your fault if Donald Trump wins.

        Mark

      2. you’re dead wrong about fast train rides between major destinations serving nothing in between.

        I do agree that Capitol Hill Station is a legitimate destination. ST was forced into putting it where it is because UW vetoed the original route.

        Beacon Hill was a totally unnecessary expense. The route Link should have taken to the Rainier Valley, although it shouldn’t have been part of a line to the airport, is what we’re paying for now as part of East Link. The RV spur should have been built with the plan of extending to Renton and the Kent Valley. Not rocket surgery, the highways and before that the railroads mapped this out 100 years ago.

        Beacon Hill is a sunk cost. But ST3 still fails to address the paralyzing impact it’s inflicted on Metro which still does the heavy lifting for King County. We built the single most important piece of capital intensive infrastructure without ST and all signs are the only way to get “back on track” is to revert to County control.

        FWIW I believe you’re correct about Metro being able to greatly increase the capacity of a bus only tunnel. But that doesn’t work with trains that can’t go around a bus that’s disabled or delayed. And to keep the trains “on time” (although there’s no schedule) bus operations are severely compromised. The 255 for example often ends up running in platoon mode because of the imposed 6 minute holds at the start of the route.

        I can’t be held responsible for Donald Duck being elected because Washington will certainly cast all of it’s electoral votes for Crooked Hillary. But the rallying cry for NO on ST3 should be “Build it smart or go home!”

      3. Bernie seems to be arguing against ST1 and ST2. But how will lengthening the tracks, once ST2 has already necessitated a train-only tunnel, be a step backwards? Should all those lines be “BRT” on surface streets, with no right-of-way enforcement? Or concrete barriers that necessitate kicking bikes out of the lane and into general traffic? Or add bike lanes and reduce the arterials to a half lane of general traffic? Or should the sidewalks be removed to make room for the three other separate streams of traffic?

        I’m sure you’ve got a plan for how ST should build a BRT network, that is as plausible and moves as many people as fast and conveniently as the ST3 package. Now would be a good time to lay it out and defend it.

      4. Bernie seems to be arguing against ST1 and ST2. But how will lengthening the tracks, once ST2 has already necessitated a train-only tunnel, be a step backwards?

        The issue with ST3 is how is it a step forward? Tracks to Everett and Tacoma (Issaquah Totem Lake… what the ????) do nothing for DT Seattle. Instead of replacing the lost capacity of the bus tunnel it proposes a train only tunnel to support “commuter rail light”. The huge cost ($50B ?) is the lost opportunity for generations to do anything to create a true subway system in the regions only urban environment.

      5. Mark, about the art gallery. If you’re concerned about people being leery of going into “a concrete tube” is it really a good idea to remind them of games of chance? Jes’ sayin.

      6. The DSTT was designed to be converted to rail as soon as the funding and logistics were worked out. The argument that Link is less comprehensive than the buses it replaces, if it has any validity at all, is only temporary until 2021 and especially 2023, when Link will serve several times more passengers and geographical coverage than the pre-Link bus routes. Link is high-capacity transit, and while some forms of BRT may qualify as HCT, the pre-Link routes did not, and that was the biggest problem with them: they got severely overcrowded, came at random when traffic allowed, and regularly melted down tunnel operations.

        Link does represent a shift in focus to Lynnwood, Bellevue/Redmond, and Des Moines away from Kent and Renton and Kirkland, but it’s still serving “North” and “East” and “South”, and the region has determined that those corridors are the “highest and best uses” of the resource. Link is also an expansion from King County to the tri-county area, but again that reflects the reality of how the region has grown and dispersed.

      7. The DSTT was designed to be converted to rail as soon as the funding and logistics were worked out.

        Actually, George Benson had the tracks in the bus tunnel added in the 11th hour. It cost money then and more money to rip them out before they could install the rails for Link. It was designed first and foremost to be a bus tunnel. It was gifted to ST.

  19. Zzzzzz……Until you get serious about voting for transit packages that have teeth and voting “No” for the ones that don’t, you’re left writing about crap like this. Until you vote out the mayor and city council that have no interest in improving transportation infrastructure, you’re left whining about crap like this.

    1. So we have to wait forty years until the majority of voters are willing to do this, with no transit improvements until then? That means transit will get significantly worse as the population increases.

      1. Transit in Seattle has a chance to put History on its side, Mike and SeaStrap. Have KC Metro, ST, and Community Transit simply refuse to put their vehicles where they’ll invariably get stuck for hours in traffic. Hell with wasting their taxpayers’ money standing still!

        LINK can help immediately here. CT, ST Express 500-series, and 41 can turn at Husky Stadium, and further north longer the problem persists. ST Express south and east can meet LINK at Stadium. Also- those DSTT Plumbers’ Helper measures.

        But best immediate move is to learn from our evil brothers the State Legislature, and say there’s no budget for traffic control at all, let alone transit priority. Paint bus lanes gray again. And say we need police to fight ISIS, not get private garages cleared. What are you guys, naive and politically correct?

        Nations, transit, order-imposing leadership always occurs exact same way. Savage, blood-spattered, scalp-wearing chieftains grab a strong, calm tall, well-armed fellow by his collar and roar in his face they’ll kill him if he doesn’t become their ruler.

        Will be great to see Ed Murray get confronted by his clansmen, now in pin-striped suits, but traditional ancestral frame of mind.

        Mark

      2. That is the weakest, most defeatist stance you could possibly take: “I have to vote yes, because I don’t believe there is another way to make a breakthrough and the politicians are almighty powerful.” What a load of crap.

        Let’s look at some recent examples of breakthroughs (I’m not judging whether they were/are successful/correct breakthroughs, just that they happened):

        – [ad hominem]
        – Kshama Sawant – A minority female socialist steamrolls an elderly white male city councilman who was disconnected, overwhelmed, out-of-date and nostalgic for a Seattle that happened 40 years ago).
        – Donald Trump – Finds a way to cash in on sensationalism, tweeting, vulgarity and rudeness to convince a ridiculous number of GOP’ers that he will lead them to the promise land, because, what else do they have to lose? Clearly, not much else.

        As one of the most dynamic grassroots cities in the U.S., it just blows me away that you feel you have to say yes because the system can’t change or feel the need to keep a label. It’s going to happen when we stop being followers just because someone shouts “Progressive!” or “Liberal!” or “Democrat!”. Southern Christian conservatives do the same exact thing (I grew up in the deep south, I should know how polarizing it is down there), and a lot of Seattleites vote in a very, very similar way: get on the bandwagon, because it’s easy.

      3. What I care about is the absolute level of transit service: that’s what affects me because I use it almost every day. Democracies require compromise because not everybody wants the same thing. Compromise means it’s a slow step-by-step evolution to get where you want. Shall I recount what transit was like here in the 80s? Half-hourly Seattle routes, hourly suburban routes, no ST Express, extremely long milk runs that stopped at every haystack along the way. Anything that moves toward greater frequency, an urban village focused network, and better right of way is worth doing. Sawant was able to move the bar on a $15 minimum wage (yaay) and herself (hmm), but can you guarantee somebody will be able to do that on transit? Transit is not the same thing as a wage increase or social equality; it doesn’t have as universal support among liberals yet. Who is the star that can bring it? Not Sawant, and definitely not Trump. Until that star emerges and has a reasonable chance of getting majority votes, I’ll stick incremental evolution.

    2. It is becoming painfully clear Move Seattle has fewer teeth than advertised to voters. Link Light Rail, though, has been a serious success story. Want transit with teeth? Vote Yes on ST3!

      1. Fully agreed Brent, as a transit advocate (shocking, but true!!), it showed how passive voters have come to accept the status quo by voting yes on Move Seattle, because “it’s something”. Sorry, but blogging about something isn’t active, it’s passive. Show up with a loud voice, show up with your vote and get in the face of sloppy, lazy politicians who are not genuinely interested in better transit. I’ve never seen so many of my 20- and 30-something peers voting on fluff, only to get you to believe this administration is “really” interested in transit. One of Move Seattle’s “Moves” was to keep 25% of the payroll intact at SDOT. Think about it: a double-digit percentage of funds for Move Seattle is at the discretion of keeping high salaries on the city books. That’s called waste, shame on them. Then the mayor and city council and real estate developers come to ask you to double the housing levy so they can keep developing a non-profit business plan that wins re-election votes.

      2. What you’re failing to realize is it’s not them (the politicians who prioritize better transit) that’s the problem, it’s the politicians who block them.

        “Think about it: a double-digit percentage of funds for Move Seattle is at the discretion of keeping high salaries on the city books…. Then the mayor and city council and real estate developers come to ask you to double the housing levy so they can keep developing a non-profit business plan that wins re-election votes.”

        You’re putting the cart before the horse. The important thing is better transit and more housing. SDOT salaries and developer profits are secondary. Who else did you think was going to implement the transit/bike/ped plan if not SDOT? And SDOT is a unionized municipal bureaucracy, so there’s a certain overhead to that, but there’s also accountability to the public that you don’t get if a private company builds your roads. Likewise, the point is to build more housing, however we can find it and do it. The fact that a developer makes a profit is less important than the fact that a family can live in Seattle who otherwise couldn’t. Of course programs always have room for improvement, but something is better than nothing.

        If somehow the large factions protecting GP lanes, parking minimums, and single-family zoning — and the politicians they elected — were to disappear, then these mediocre progressive politicians would get a lot of things done, and there would be a lot more transit in the right places, and areas like Chicago’s north side with plenty of housing and walkability throughout 2×2 square miles. They may not do exactly the right things but they’d get a lot of stuff done, and we could adjust the details. But first you have to change the public’s mind or at least get the majority of politicians.

  20. Regarding the Howell St lanes. I used to live over there and the problem is the design of the lanes themselves. That area gets very backed up with people queuing to get on the freeway. But the queue forms in the right lane. With the bus lane in the middle. And people turning into Howell turning into the left lane. Thus they need to cross the bus lane to get into the queue but of course they get stuck as there is no gap to get in, this often blocking he bus lane with looks of panic and embarrassment on their face.

    Move the lane to the right curb, paint it and introduce dedicated phases for busses at the intersections. Or move it to the left curb and build a platform for the one or two stops.

    1. Excellent point that “enforcement” really must include other traffic-cop duties as well. At each critical intersection we need someone directing traffic to force a fair interleaving of turners coming from *both* directions into the backed-up right lane.

      Surely the cost of adding a dozen more traffic cops would more than pay for itself, given the massive waste in time and productivity we have now? Even before taking the added revenue (fines) into account.

      1. Yes, definitely. I was talking to a friend of mine, who has spent a lot of time in both Boston and Seattle, and he said that Boston has way more traffic cops. They have way more cops in general, but it really is crazy that we let downtown get totally stuck, when it wouldn’t take that many traffic cops to clean it up.

        But I also agree with the original point. A lot of times the problem is the design makes it too easy to cheat, or too easy to screw up, even when the driver isn’t trying to cheat. This is why I really like contraflow lanes. It is very hard to use them, and not be seen as a clear, big time violator. The opposite of that are BAT lanes, that allow right turns. It never says how far. For example, let’s say I’m headed northbound on Aurora, and want to take a left on 130th. I would never get in the lane before 125th (since that is a major intersection) but what if I move over right after? Is that legal? As a white guy, I think I would be able to talk my way out of it. It might not matter, but if enough people move too early, a car pulls out and just like that, you have congestion.

  21. Yes and we continue to reinforce the “Cars First and Only” status quo with practices like closing down the sidewalk for construction while leaving 3-4 car lanes wide open. I was happy to see the north sidewalk of Union re-opened this morning. For the last two weeks it was closed with a sign mid-block that might as well have read “Screw you Pedo, find your own way!”

    They should have closed one of the traffic lanes and turned that into a sidewalk but heaven forbid the cars back up a bit further. Instead we expect pedestrians to turn around, wait for the light, cross, wait for a double cycle at Union & 5th since we can’t expect the drivers to respect a crosswalk and need to give them a dedicated turn cycle, now just two more street crossings to get back on track!

    1. They used to make covered walkways around construction sites for pedestrians in the 1980s when there were a number of buildings going up downtown. They did the same thing in the neighborhoods if the building was going up in a busy area with a lot of foot traffic. I assume the walkways were covered to protect against construction materials falling or being dropped accidentally.

      This was 30 years ago, when you’d think that people were expected to be in cars most of the time, even downtown.

      Why did they stop that, I wonder? Did the covering prove ineffective once against falling materials, so the walkways were deemed to be unsafe?

      1. In New York City they are *required* to keep the sidewalks open or take space out of the road for a sidewalk for all construction projects. (And honestly it isn’t enough, they need wider sidewalks.)

  22. The thing to do is put a huge tax on parking downtown for more than four hours. Twenty-five dollars per day per slot. Use the money to buy more peak bus hours.

    Yes, there are people who really need to drive downtown; they’re sales folks or on-site customer reps or a jillion other reasons.

    But there are a lot of folks who drive because Benghazi!

  23. Oh good lord, yes. I have been waiting 30 for a 64 express bus…I could have taken the local version and been home already. What’s the point of having express buses that take longer to arrive than the actual ride home…

    1. With scheduled headway of 20-47 minutes, it doesn’t even take traffic congestion for that to happen.

    2. Often they cancel the first and/or last run of the day. I get e-mail notices when this happens. May be why bus never showed.

  24. Welcome to Buses Stuck in Traffic.

    A bus based system is always going to be at the mercy of drivers, and there is very little that can be done about it Photo enforcement of bus only lanes like they do outside Kew Gatdens would help some because Americans still seem to be scared of the automatic ticket, but there just isn’t much you can do. Ask any bus driver – car drivers aren’t afraid of buses and will muscle right in on them for the last inch of space.

    If there is anything to be said for Streetcars in this regard, it is that car drivers still respect them and will give them some space, but maybe that is just because they are “new and novel”.

    Want real transit? Build more Light Metro. It works.

    1. Wait, what? Drivers respect streetcars? Since when? Streetcars suffer from this kind of B. S. more than any other vehicle.

      1. Fold open the bumpers and fold out the retractable coupler. Most drivers respect multi-hundred pound fist shaped steel objects moving towards them. Even if those objects are moving very slowly.

  25. See, now this is why it was nice to have exposed couplers on the first several MAX car orders….

  26. This seems a straw man: “Buses or BRT can be as good Link”. Reasonable folks do not assert that. The real questions are where to put Link and the network and fiscal trade offs are not one for one, but one Link alignment v. several regional express lines or a few BRT lines. The key question is getting exclusivity or priority for transit, whatever its mode. Suppose Seattle is willing to devote one-half the lanes of 1st Avenue to transit; should it be for a downtown circulator with 12 trips per hour per direction and few riders and dependent on the molasses flow on Broadway (the CCC streetcar) or for buses with many more trips per hour per direction coming from outside downtown and also providing internal circulation?

    1. I suppose in my frustration I oversimplified my case with a straw man, but the intent is that as long as vehicle access is not physically prohibited, reliability (whether bus or streetcar) is entirely at the whim of each individual, and that that’s unacceptable. And there is just too much political inertia to change that. We have a precious few examples of decent bus lane performance (such as on the West Seattle Bridge / SR 99), but downtown it just hasn’t happened. I would personally love a 1st Avenue transit mall.

    2. This is exactly what I’ve been saying about the CCC on 1st Avenue!!!!… here will be one of the few continuous dedicated transit lanes in the city and it is only being used for streetcars every 7.5 mins or whatever it is. Why they aren’t designing it to be shared with buses to maximize its use, solve a real problem of lack of space for buses downtown that physically cant fit on 3rd. This is yet another one of Seattle’s botched transit stories. Literally all they’d have to do is have floating island platforms for right door boarding so normal buses could use these lanes also. Right after it opens they will admit they should have done this when traffic is even worse downtown and buses are jammed up because they cant use/stop at these lanes, streetcars are jammed up on Broadway or at Westlake/Mercer and these precious dedicated lanes sit empty. Then, much like Broadway or Westlake, we’ll be talking about the need to rip it up and build it right.

      1. Na. The CCC is the right thing to do. Connect the two existing SC lines with the CCC to maximize the efficiency of the investment. After that we can decide whether to build more SC or more of some other system.

        But after 60 some years of bus operations on downtown surface streets, I think it is pretty clear that more buses is not the answer. Something better has to be built. This isn’t 1945 anymore….

      2. @Lazarus — Are you trolling? Because if you are, congratulations, you deserve the Sam award.

        What part of what he wrote didn’t you understand? The part where he explained that you would have THE EXACT SAME RIGHT OF WAY for the buses, that both they and the slow as molasses (and unused) streetcars have. Why “maximize” an investment that no one likes. Why double down on a system that has no tangible benefit over buses, yet has dozens of disadvantages (the biggest of which is that it kills people). For what, exactly?

        Seriously, what exactly are people from, say, Ballard, supposed to do for the next 25 years? Take a bus, then transfer to a streetcar? That is nuts. Of course the bus will keep going, and of course (if nothing is done) the bus will be stuck in traffic. Which means (of course) the bus will be ridiculously unreliable. But hey, at least we’ve maximized our investment!

      3. They are spending all this money building a transitway, I’m just saying share it with buses. Hell, just design it to be able to be shared in the future.

      4. Please, someone from SDOT visit Eugene. THAT is how to keep cars out of bus lanes. Put the CCC and dedicated bus lanes in that type of lane, where smaller vehicles are not physically able to get in there.

      5. “Why did they take buses off 1st Ave to begin with?”

        Because it was perceived as unsafe in the 80s and 90s, people didn’t want to transfer there, and then the waterfront construction would cause a series of reroutes.

  27. A big part of the reason the traffic in this picture is such a mess is the left lane being closed down for months due to construction. You can see it in the photo. What sort of a fee do private developers have to pay to take over a public road for that long?

    1. That’s the parking lane which for once has been made into a temporary sidewalk outside of the construction hours. The Stewart street sidewalk on that project is also closed. I had a hell of a time walking to Market House Corned Beef because of the construction on every corner around there closing every sidewalk and telling pedestrians to cross the street to that construction closed sidewalk.

    1. We have one too, the E3 Busway. Too bad they don’t connect it into the West Seattle Bridge.

      Who cares about BRT… busways are what we should be focused on. Busways are clear what they are… separate bus only roads either own right of way or center median.

    2. With that experience, they’re now building light rail in Mississauga.

      The primary problem with busways is that they cost more than rail to build and to operate. :-P Other than that they’re great.

  28. I watch every day at PM peak outside my office many buses on 5th Avenue like the Sound Transit regional expresses inch along in bumper to bumper single occupant vehicle traffic just trying to finish their journey downtown to turn around and take commuters home to distant places like Everett, Redmond etc. (then they have to endure the congestion on the freeways). Its absolutely shameful that these riders and bus drivers (bathroom break??) have to endure this surface street traffic caused by too many automobiles which completely shatters the bus schedules with enormous gaps in headways that reverberate until the end of service and lead to jam packed buses when 4 in row arrive an hour later. Then with buses so unreliable and painful, people then drive and clog up the streets with ever more traffic making the traffic situation worse. Absolute insanity.

  29. Norah: In about 2011, routes 15, 18, 21, 22, and 56 were shifted to 3rd Avenue from 1st Avenue as WSDOT had to close 1st Avenue South to construct the WOSCA detour for SR-99 and Seattle City Light had to dig up 1st Avenue at Cherry Street to get ready for SR-99 Bertha. In fall 2012, routes 10 and 12 were split and no served 1st Avenue to make them more reliable. With the WSDOT changes to SR-99 traffic had become very slow on 1st Avenue. One hypothesis is that some traffic that had used the Elliott Avenue southbound on ramp shifted to Columbia Street due to the SR-99 lane reduction. Way back, in fall 1998, SDOT relaxed a restriction on 1st Avenue South parallel parking so that it became very slow in Pioneer Square. Of course, if the CCC is built, the parking will be taken. But as Zach states, there is much traffic all over downtown. All roads lead to Bertha.

  30. I think it’s time for some serious investigation as to how much additional transit we’d need to be able to shut down the streets of Downtown Seattle to cars entirely, at least during weekday rush hours. Likewise for long sections of I-5, I-90, I-405, and SR 520.

    Would love to run this by Kemper Freeman in person, if only to watch him wink because he already knows he and his generation of developers created the successful model for the changes we need now. Sixty years ago.

    Shopping malls, and suburbs themselves, were originally seen as anti-congestion measures in a huge, flat country where for the first time in history, the average person could have a car. Causing street-side city commerce to be permanently blocked by customers’ own cars.

    But not in Bellevue Square! Right? Took us awhile to learn, but for same reasons, it’s time for whole cities to follow a proven example. With trolleybuses for escalators, and elevators now called subways, and express ones called regional rail.

    Been looking for a way to put a statue of our founding benefactor at Bellevue Square Station. Which I think his last decades of political effort have been angling for all along.

    Mark

  31. So nice to be in Copenhagen right now, where there is total grade separation between pedestrians, bikes, buses, and cars, and boundaries are respected. And the local rail has separate cars: one for those on foot, another one for bikes, and yet another one for strollers and wheel chairs. Works very well here where there are so many bikes, almost as many cargo types as regular.

  32. Just got back from a week in San Diego. Fabulous city to get around in. Lots of Freeways and Highways going both N/S and E/W, cars whizzing by at very fast speeds. No issues driving around in my rental car. Reminded me of driving around Seattle at 10:00 pm but it was sunny and 85 degrees. Took the San Diego Trolley, their light rail, to multiple spots, very easy to use. The best thing about their trolley system: it went to places people wanted to go: Little Italy, Old Towne, Gas Lamp district, Petco Park. I could not find stops like Angle Lake, Roosevelt, 130th Street stations or huge park and rides next to the stations in San Diego. Also all the stations were like oversized bus stops, no multi-million dollar super stations like Seattle wants to build. Stations had bus stops next to the Trolley stations and some Trolley stations had direct connections to Coastal Amtrak line. If Seattle had a system like the San Diego Trolley, people would want it and use it. Why does Sound Transit want to build light rail with stations most people don’t need to or want to go to?

    1. It’s a good question. San Diego has avoided the suburban-park-and-ride madness which has afflicted Seattle’s transit planners. San Diego still has car-dependent sprawl suburbs, but nobody is talking about putting rail lines *there*; it’s all about connecting the busy, popular places. (Next extension UCSD. After that, Balboa Park.)

  33. What about making bus lanes that are exceptionally uncomfortable for normal cars to drive in?

    Say, something like the two concrete paths and a grass strip, as per EmX in Eugene, except the middle strip would be made out of cobblestones or something?

    1. I was kind of thinking tire shredder devices (like those in rental car lots) that pop up whenever it detects a non-transit vehicle.

      Should make it easy for police to track down the scofflaws, though it might still be too much work to expect them to do anything about it.

      1. My thinking was along the lines of MAX. There is nothing that keeps drivers off the core east-west MAX line through downtown Portland. Except, the track lanes are paved in cobblestones. Once in a while you see a violation, but it isn’t very common. They must be very uncomfortable to drive on,

        If a bus lane variant of that could be developed, it might be enough.

  34. “Riders often want rail – but you can entice die hard rail riders onto a special bus… busways are cheap…you can move a lot of people for very little cost compared to rail.” Peter Rogoff

    Peter Rogoff, now CEO of Sound Transit and the former head of the Federal Transit Administration and member of Sen. Patty Murray’s staff, makes our case for better buses on dedicated lanes – that are enforced in his 2010 speech. We also advocate for vanpools, sidewalks, bikeways and incorporating new transportation technology in our planning. Critical for buses and vanpools is getting the jurisdictions to commit to keeping the HOV lanes functioning and free.

    Rogoff also makes a passionate plea to make sure our existing infrastructure is maintained. We have $36 Billion of transportation and transit needs in this region that have no identified funding. That does not count resurfacing and repairing of I-5 which is crumbling. More taxes will have to be raised for that. Schools are unfunded, homelessness and mental health is unfunded, the list is pretty endless.

    Light rail will not reduce congestion and will not significantly increase ridership. Since March, when the stations opened in Capital Hill and Husky stadium, rail ridership went up but bus ridership went down – that’s where most of ST’s link ridership numbers are coming from – the over 2 dozen bus routes that have been either cancelled or restructured to feed the rail.

    Here is a link to Peter Rogoff’s speech in 2010:

    https://www.transit.dot.gov/about/speeches/administrator-peter-remarks-boston-reserve-bank-next-stop-national-summit-future

    SOGR in his speech stands for state of good repair.

    Get informed – go to sources that don’t have a financial interest in the outcome:

    More sources of info: http://smartertransit.org – lots of outside links here

    https://www.facebook.com/www.smartertransit.org/ – articles from around the region, country, world

    http://www.nost3.org

    BTW – none of us doing this advocacy for Smarter Transit.org or working on the no campaign makes a dime.

    1. Your timing in making the case for a non-rail future on a post pointing out the problems with bus lanes is amusing.

      What’s less amusing is your lack of support for buses, vanpools, bikes, and sidewalks, when funding for buses, vanpools, bikes, and sidewalks is on the ballot. Did you think nobody would notice?

      The claim of your little group to be pro-transit, when your webpage belittles the relevance of transit in the grand scheme of trips taken is another dead give-away of your true feelings about transit.

  35. I use the street shown in this photo on a regular basis. A couple blocks east when you get close to the highway around Minor Ave, there are often a pair of traffic cops directing cars through the intersection. They prevent people from blocking the box, but they **completely ignore** the cars that pull up to them IN THE BUS LANE. it’s not even that the officers aren’t there, it’s that they are in fact standing right there watching this and clearly could not give a shit. And drivers have figured this out. They don’t even bother getting out of that lane anymore when they pass the police because they know nothing at all will happen.

    1. Why would people assume the police will do their jobs? The only time they do is when they tweet about it in advance, so maybe a few times a year.

      1. Perhaps it’s time to get rid of police and go back to individuals organizing posses to bring people before the judge. It can’t be any *worse* than police who just don’t even bother to do their jobs, can it? At least it’ll be cheaper…

  36. +1 on the awfulness of Broadway. Still annoyed at Metro for cutting the 9 because “First Hill-bound riders can transfer to the street car.”

    1. Route 9 wasn’t cut for efficiency reasons. It was where Metro found some of the money to give riders along MLK a one-seat ride downtown. Supporters of the duplicative one-seat ride were more organized than supporters of route 9.

  37. I just finished commenting on the Madison BRT project, which doesn’t grade-separate the buses. Absolutely ridiculous, the thought that at peak evening commute, they’re going to get anything “rapid” about bus rapid transit, when they don’t give them dedicated space. How is it transit planners haven’t learned this lesson yet? Moreover, why do I feel like the Madison BRT was *initially* sold to me (resident of Madison Valley) as being grade separated. I know I’m not making this up….

  38. I agree, grade-separated is the way to go, particularly when the demand warrants the investment in a “permanent” installation such as what light rail represents. It’s a shame that Central Link was scaled back to cut costs by going to at-grade, which is a decision that will keep costing us, but subtlety, much like maintenance, insurance, licensing, etc. is for drivers, many of whom only think about gasoline (for most) being the only cost of operating a vehicle.

    Buses – BRT, specifically – do make sense in areas where demand is unproven and as a great way to test out whether light rail would be viable or not and can have its routing altered far easier than light rail. Most notably, for the Paine Field (Everett) loop, where bus service was cut in 2003 and 2010, with very little added back due to a lack of demand and where there’s far lower density than, say, Ballard. BRT makes more sense for Paine Field, especially considering the fact is that it could be operating by 2020 with money left over for direct (I-5) light rail to Everett, which would have been open 5 years sooner, and money left over for at least completing the north side of the 164th/Ash Way Park & Ride, eliminating the need for buses to cross the general purpose lanes in this area. On the other hand, I’ve supported light rail between Ballard as well as West Seattle and downtown, but only if grade-separated. I also support the decades-overdue University-Ballard cross-town light rail and (Issaquah-) South Bellevue to Renton glaring omission for light rail. But, unfortunately, political considerations outweighed what would bring more high-capacity transit to more people/areas soonest than in the ST-3 proposal.

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