Northgate TC platform

This is an open thread.

66 Replies to “News Roundup: Official”

  1. Regarding the free transit passes being distributed to eligible Seattle Public Schools students, here are the details, including eligibility requirements and orientation sessions where passes can be claimed.

    Thanks to the Transit Riders Union for pushing hard for these free passes, and to Seattle’s voters for funding them via Seattle Proposition 1 (2014).

  2. There was a plan at WSF to redirect the Southworth boats directly to Colman dock in Seattle. This would take a lot of pressure off the Fauntleroy dock, would greatly simplify the current triangle schedule, and would drop most Southworth ferry passengers off a lot closer to their destination. Currently, most cars from Southworth simply drive out across the West Seattle Bridge and there is precious little foot traffic because of the requirement for a bus transfer to get downtown. However, it appears to have been cancelled due to feedback at the public meetings.

    The breakdown of the schedule on the FSV triangle has been impressive this summer. Delays of two hours to board a boat are routine. Maybe it will get bad enough that riders will allow the WSF to consider a more bold restructure.

    1. an option to take the train downtown, then hop on ferry to vashon would be great.

      That would also open up biking options on vashon or from southworth that don’t work if you have to shlep to West Seattle first.

      1. I think the Vashon riders have expressed a strong preference for their ferry to remain oriented to Fauntleroy. Apparently there are a lot of connections between Vashon and West Seattle because of the long use of that ferry line.

        Southworth is a little different story. Nobody is riding the ferry over to West Seattle to go to Home Depot. Instead, most Southworth riders are going to destinations beyond West Seattle. Many may be heading to Seattle, but even for those going further North or East in particular the Colman dock is probably more convenient than using the West Seattle Bridge.

        That said, King County does run the Vashon Water Taxi which should be fine for bicyclists and there is bus service on the island.

      2. There is bus service on the island, but it rarely has a good connection to the ferries at either end of the island,

      3. fletc3her

        The vashon water taxi sounds lovely, but is no weekends, no holidays, with three morning and evening runs.

        I’m guessing the concern for the actual ferry is that the sailings would be longer, rounding alki?
        Seems like the current ferry isn’t working for anyone, however.

      4. “There is bus service on the island, but it rarely has a good connection to the ferries at either end of the island”

        During peak hours, there’s a connection with every sailing on the north end (and the buses do wait for the ferry on the north end unless the boats get way off schedule). As long as you get on/off along the main highway between the north end and SW 204th St., there isn’t any problem. East (119) or south (118) of 204th is another story.

        Off peak, on the other hand, is much different. Frequency (which can be anywhere from 50 minutes to 1 1/2 hours) combined with buses not always waiting for a late ferry makes for an unpleasant experience. The rule I go by for weekends is that if there is a 5 minute difference between when the ferry arrives and the bus leaves, it’s best to catch the previous ferry (and I’m quite serious about that).

      5. Ah. That’s good they have some service that is synchronized. I remember looking at the timetables and thinking “yuk, that’s terrible.”

        I did manage to do one Seattle to Tacoma trip via Vashon Island, but I carefully chose one of the few slots in the timetable with good connections at the north end. I don’t think there are ever good connections at the south end since PT 11 is half hourly.

    2. “…Faust said an additional problem with the current triangle route schedule, which has not been changed substantially in decades, is insufficient “dwell time” at the docks.
      This time, which is the time vessels spend at the dock unloading and loading, needs to be increased, he said, to account for larger ferries on the route and increased traffic over the years. Change of this magnitude takes a long time, he noted, but he hopes to institute such a change fairly soon.” from The Beachcomber last week.
      It is SO easy to forget that we are no longer dealing with 60 and 75 and 100 car capacity ferries anymore. Extending dwell time by changing departure times makes huge sense.
      Moving some Southworth ferries to Colman dock should certainly be considered as well.

    3. When you remove Colman Dock from its current location you might kill a good chunk of the ridership that is passengers on the boats that usually would not make the trip over or likely drive the entire distance. Just to move it for the purpose of car storage seems a little bit extreme and DOT already has plans to keep the dock limited at capacity even though I wish they would use the old Pier 48 for overflow storage.

      You cannot easily add a 3rd route as is during the peak hours let alone redirect traffic from Southworth to downtown Seattle without some serious logistical changes and schedule tweaking, along with reduced capacity to Vashon Island. This could have been forgone if the Fauntleroy NIMBYs allowed for the dock to be expanded but they decided they don’t want a bigger dock hoping that the route would move to Seattle so now there is a stalemate. Adding a fourth route creates quite a bit of logistics having to stage for 3 destinations at all places.

  3. Folks,

    Uh I’m giving serious thought to doing my own transit podcast or vodcast. I think we need a transit talk show that interviews folks and also covers more of the Puget Sound than the Sound Transit District – which STB does <i<awesomely.

    I wonder if any of you would listen to a podcast/vodcast that had the occasional monologue but also interviews with Washington Policy Center, transit agencies and even other transit bloggers? Or if the current media meets your needs.



    1. Depends who you interview. If your podcast is nothing more than PR and cheerleading for transit agencies and their projects, I won’t listen. But if dig deep and interview the other side, like, let’s say, a “NIMBY,” or a Trails not Rails person, or interview Kemper Freeman, then I’d listen. But if you are just going to add to the echo chamber, then I, for one, am not interested.

      The bloggers here get to do a little “About … and then their name.” Can commenters do the same? Let me try.

      About Sam.

      I love the gym I belong to. The dues are very high, but I feel it’s worth it. I get a massage there about 3 times a year. The owner of my gym is quite wealthy. He owns a hundred acre ranch, a Rolls Royce and Bentley, and is a doctor and stuff. When I’m sitting in the whirlpool, I look up at the tile painting of Roman slavewomen at work, and think to myself, why isn’t there outrage over this? There’s this one guy in the locker room who almost yells when he talks, even though it’s quiet in there, and the other guy is like 5 feet away. And I wonder, why is he talking so loud?

      1. Ben S might be fun.

        DP and some of those who just want to deny light rail north of Lynnwood would just cause a five-alarm fire of a podcast. Same with Todd E. Herman.

        If I do this, I don’t want to just be regurgitating spin or talking points…. No we need to start holding these county-level agencies accountable. We also need to push innovation in transit like some automation for some paratransit, like alternative fueled vehicles, like electric buses for some routes.

      2. Paratransit is the most difficult form of transit to automate. It doesn’t follow a fixed route. It requires live humans to attend to the vulnerable passengers on board. It requires live humans to escort many of those passengers to and from the bus.

        Start with the low-hanging fruit: train automation.

      3. Brent;

        I’m thinking not every paratransit person needs an attendant.

        I agree if we could just get light rail grade separated on the Rainier Valley, we could be like Skytrain and get automated trains.

        I also think automated fixed route buses are a good idea. Or automated pocket route service.

        It’s all about cost control to me so we can put our transit dollar where it’ll do the most good. Like on grade separated light rail expansion and attendants for paratransit clients who need it.

        I also have to say reading some stuff off of Human Transit how Uber is losing so much money they’re now trying to pick off transit customers and invest in automation to undermine public transit by taking away all choice riders (and perhaps more) is unnerving.

        Joe over

    2. I would but only if it were good–that is, meeting a minimum threshold of audio quality with thoughtful stories, perspectives and pacing (I hate long-winded podcasts whose hosts spend 15 minutes saying something that should take two)–and covered a mix of topics and not just local minutia. Specifically, I would love to hear about what’s happening in the region and nationally, real debates about policy decisions (difficult, because real debates would require a lot of discipline and fact checking) and in-depth analyses of the context surrounding transportation issues–allowing listeners to gain a better understanding of how our national, regional and local transportation dollars are being spent (taxing levels, sources and projects), externalities, ridership levels, effects on traffic, etc.

      1. Great ideas but my focus is going to be mostly on the Puget Sound. I might toy with doing a Trimet-themed podcast or two… as I just went down to Portlandia and will again at least once next year.

        There will be some monologues.

      2. Well, there are several “TriMet” blogs and podcasts. Rantings of a (former) TriMet Bus Driver is one, and then there is the TransitLane podcast you already know about. There’s a few others.

        In Seattle, people go to STB and write a comment about their bus being late. In Portland, they start an entire YouTube channel, blog or podcast and hope they might get a bit of extra money.

  4. I’m glad someone’s pushing back on the waterfront highway. It’s a bureaucracy-driven field of asphalt in the middle of our most valuable land. The list of excuses is long, and we’re going to end up with a 96 foot wide highway where we should really have few vehicles and lots of pedestrians.

    Making the roadway flexible to maybe remove transit lanes in the future isn’t good enough. Go down to 4 lanes – hell 2 lanes – and let people drive on the multi-billion dollar tunnel underground. I’m ok with some traffic there – it’ll slow down the vehicles.

    1. It seems like even with sections down to two lanes during construction the flow is still fine unless there is an event going on at one of the stadiums, in which case adding lanes does nothing to alleviate the bottleneck downstream. Granted with the new tunnel there will be more diversion to the surface streets but enough to justify four lanes (or more)?

      Would love to see some traffic forecast data that validates anything more than 2 GP and 2 transit lanes are necessary.

      1. So we are building all these additional lanes so motorists can bypass the toll tunnel?!?

        It wouldn’t surprise me the least if the tunnel is underutilized and doesnt bring in the projected revenue.

    2. It really feels to me like the ferry traffic queue is the opportunity…maybe not in the short term, but at some point WSF and SDOT and whatever other member of the snarl of agencies that controls ferries will need to seriously reconsider what we’re doing at the docks and whether it makes sense to move car ferries elsewhere, or move the queue into structures on the dock property itself…or something else I can’t think of now. That clears two lanes in the middle and would in theory enable the road to be narrowed. I can’t see taking anywhere else.

      1. Once terminal five is reopen on harbour island, move the ferries to the smallest section of our port, which is directly west of the stadiums, thus freeing up the downtown core to better uses, but keeping car traffic boarding the ferries close by. Far better solution to free up downtown space and will likely cost no more than some of our stupid freeway projects.

      2. Booth, and Beer, I think work needs to start immediately on relocating the end of a floating State highway to another highway.

        Not Seattle’s most complicated street intersection, which is also the most critical one for a multimillion dollar pedestrian development. And Colman Dock will be just fine for the exact foot-ferry system the new Waterfront needs.

        Wouldn’t sweat the time-frame. No Tunnel Boring Machine driver will get written up for running ahead of schedule. And now that Marshal Foster and SDOT are putting some curbs and drains where their PR is, difficult and tricky doesn’t mean same as “never”.

        No, it doesn’t have to run the Benson cars. South Lake Union to Fremont, maybe. Industry has some crowd-friendlier streetcars now.


      3. Mark, SeattleBeer

        It sounds like you are talking about all of terminal 46, with the obsolete giant cranes.
        Plenty of room there to park a few cars.

        However, the port would have to become a for-profit entity to ever consider giving up the tinest portion of that terminal.
        So long as they can continue to pull more than 72million per year from King County property owners, there will be no transfer, regardless of usefulness.

      4. Given the walk on traffic at Colman dock puts it as the 2nd busiest mass transit “route” in our region after Link I think you’d want to move it only as a absolute last resort. A much simpler solution would be to use something like Terminal 46 as an “upland” holding lot as is done on some of the islands. You could eliminate one lane right there.

    3. It’s annoying to see these diagrams depicting the various road options full of cars but with almost empty sidewalks, save a couple pedestrians or bikers. By doing so, the illustration implicitly suggests that the whole project is primarily for car use and not a way to activate a prime waterfront harbour / pedestrian / boulevard zone. If they redrew the illustration to reflect the amount of people they want to use the waterfront (with sidewalks packed with pedestrians shopping, visiting the waterfront, crossing the street, etc,) it would better highlight the craziness of prioritizing cars.

      They should also add an audio file to simulate the noise level people can expect with so many lanes of traffic right next to them.

    4. The road is wide to serve traffic accessing the Port and Coleman Docks. The tunnel doesn’t help here.

      The road is narrow north of Columbia. That covers the public waterfront. South of Columbia is the industrial waterfront – if you want to have a nice pedestrian experience south of Yesler, walk along 1st Ave South.

      Sorry, but Seattle is has a working Port adjacent to downtown, and Coleman Docks serves car ferries. That street space is needed. I’m truly baffled that people are upset about this.

      1. You are truly baffled that people do not want to a highway where they were told a great place for walking would exist?

      2. Yes – I don’t know why people would expect a great walking experience on Alaska Way south of Columbia – south of Coleman docks it ceases to be waterfront and instead is simply a road that abuts the Port. There will still be bike lanes & bus lanes, so transit & bikers get what they need, and there will still be a broad sidewalk.

        Anyone trying to walk from the waterfront to the stadiums can simply take 1st Ave or Occidental if Alaska is unpleasant. And if the street is too wide to cross, you can cross a few blocks north where it is narrower, or use the pedestrian bridge at the Dock.

        Cars still need access to the ferry. The Port still needs truck access. We are still dealing with a working waterfront, not a pedestrian oasis.

      3. AJ I agree 100%. Once you pass south of Colman dock and where the Washington Street landing was the major item adjacent to your right is a chain link fence. Which goes on for the next mile+. And is not going to change unless the Port goes out of business. Even the Washington Street landing was generally avoided due to chronic homeless problems, which will hopefully be lessened with the new waterfront work.

        While pricey personally I would build a pedestrian overpass from the west side of Alaskan way starting between S Main and S. Jackson to Railroad Way which would serve as a safer route for walkers, provide great views of the working harbor and facilitate very efficient movement of peds between the stadium district and the ferries which is currently an issue. It could tie into the Elliot bay trail elegantly and allow bikers access into the Pioneer Square area including the ID link station and King Street without having to do any major street crossings at all.

      4. I’m not that bothered by the configuration south of Columbia. The middle part seems like enough plaza space, and there’s still the north part between Pike and Broad Streets that hasn’t been designed yet and is quieter because the boulevard turns away from the waterfront.

    5. Matt, any idea as to how we start “pushing back?” Because it’s worth world’s biggest Caterpillar tractor. I can understand the Deep Bore Tunnel- Gothenburg did the exact same thing for same reason.

      But since we’re talking about the part of the city most valuable to people, including both residents and visitors, Seattle is owed a Waterfront without a highway through it. Future light rail has been mentioned. Good. Tracks will work for streetcars ’till the rest of the line needs it.

      Freight? If Seattle had inherited a streetcar system, chance we could have done some electric freight railroading. Now? I wonder how much freight could be hauled at night. Also, lanes no longer needed for private cars could go to trucks. I personally think that of every vehicle mode, private cars are the most hostile to pedestrians.

      Little accounting matter, too. What’s the balance sheet on the years of landscape architecture now that we’re reminded that old Aurora Avenue needs a new home? Considering how the project’s gone so far- wasn’t that death-trap of a viaduct supposed to get blown up four years ago- nobody can call a course change an obstruction.

      Mark Dublin

  5. Driverless transit for Seattle? A few conditions.

    1. Mixed traffic? Absolutely never.

    2. Same for outsourcing or privatizing.

    3. Every driver displaced- reassigned and trained without losing a dime or missing a paycheck.

    4. And protected by a strong, clean union.

    5. And automation project accepting experience reports only from transit systems in countries where nobody goes to jail for an accurate accident report.

    6. And remember that the best any computer can do is the worst information the least capable human to touch it last told it. See points 2, 3, and 4 above. And start running the DSTT accordingly, just for practice.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Wow. It was 74% yes this morning when I voted as voter no. 312. Word must have got out on some anti-transit blog.

      1. Joe, Pete, and anybody else. Business Journal demands we have more STEM graduates. For one thing, new pot laws say you have to grow the whole plant.

        And idea that one part of a plant, also including tomatoes, requires a degree of its own is example of why college costs more than a bomber.

        But I really hate the little verbal power plays that have sneaked into language. Like framing an answer to a direct question with an evasive little question of your own. “Is propaganda against ST-3 an offense to being able to read? Possibly. Are there interests for whom regionwide gridlocked traffic is positive? Also possibly.”

        And also, acronyms (sounds like a form of stem-eating worms, doesn’t it?) for the claim that reason nothing public is getting built is that not enough people are getting degrees in, say, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

        But at least it saves us the acronym for It’s Not The Legislature’s Fault That People Are Out Of Work Because They’re Too Dumb for College.” I’m headed for the garden store for another can of “AcroNip!” TM spray.


      2. For one thing, new pot laws say you have to grow the whole plant.

        And idea that one part of a plant, also including tomatoes, requires a degree of its own is example of why college costs more than a bomber.

        I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person, and I can only make sense of, at most, 50% of what Mark Dublin writes. Does anyone have an idea what he’s talking about here? Or how it’s responsive to a comment about an online poll?

    2. It’s now closer only 48/44, but *of course* STIII is going to do poorly in a poll at a business journal. That’s a population that’s going to skew to the anti-tax position. There’s no reason to take polls like this seriously, even for bragging rights, or think they’re indicative of anything.

    3. It was about 45/45 yesterday evening. But an online poll is not an official vote and large swaths of voters don’t know it exists, so its relationship to the ST3 results is at most fleetingly vague.

      The monorail votes were right at 50/50 and it sometimes turned on less than 600 votes. Sound Transit measures have been more fortunate but can still be pulled close to the 50% threshold. So no need to panic, but it’s not a slam-dunk either.

  6. Is there something wrong with the west-bound queue jump at 45th & Wallingford? For the last month on the 44 and 62 it seems like it doesn’t actually give an advance bus signal even if the bus pulls forward well before the regular signal changes. Unfortunately I tend to sit towards the back so I haven’t been able to see what’s really going on up front, so it could just be motorists have figured out that there’s no enforcement.

    1. Many things about that intersection seem off. Late at night, I press the walk light to cross 45th to get to the QFC and the walk light along 45th starts flashing red, then goes straight back to white.

  7. Gotta love when developers try to pretend like they are doing the City a service and have our best interests at heart. If you believe for one second that the developer, that won the case to not have to go through design review, is going to offer lower rents, out of the goodness of his heart because they saved money, and not just charge market rates, then I’ve got a tunnel under Seattle to sell you.

    1. The important thing is people’s opportunity for housing, not developers’ profits. Regardless of what the developers charge, that’s still a few more units so it eases the housing shortage slightly. If the units are high-end luxury and rich people rent them, then they won’t be competing for other lower-end units, which means it will be harder for those owners to raise their rent as much.

      1. I agree wholeheartedly, but I shudder at any talk of giving developers loopholes in the design process or reducing fees, since there’s no evidence that causes them to reduce their price. I guarantee you the developer in the article is going to sell his housing for the same price as similar housing that went through the design process.

  8. Montlake traffic was heavy at 3pm today and Stevens Way got pretty crowded with buses. Did the game start today?

  9. I’m just now reading Jarrett’s summary of the Portland Powell-Division corridor.

    Wow! They changed the project alignment and concept based on a rider travel time analysis! Kudos to Portland transit agencies!

    Now if we can change the current culture with some of our agencies to spend our money on actually making rider travel times faster, unlike the FHSC and a host of other slow-transit projects.

  10. Anyone know if the concrete roadway in the DSTT will be ripped out and replaced with ballast, or if it will stay? I would personally like it to be ballast-ified to provide a smoother ride.

    1. AFAIK, Link’s underground and elevated tracks use direct fixation everywhere except for the embedded track in the DSTT. You’ll only find ballasted track on the surface.

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