Line of buses on 3rd Avenue

This is an open thread.

103 Replies to “News Roundup: 68 Cents”

    1. An unelected council that distributes federal grants and funding to various local, regional and state projects that request funding. In theory by being unelected, they will be more fair about distributing funds, rather than funneling to their constituents, similar to Sound Transit. In theory…

      1. They’re also responsible for comprehensive planning. Back when they were the Council of Governments, they published quite a few transportation plans, ranging from a huge freeway network to ah early light rail study.

      2. PSRC is the group modeling zero growth in Ballard, and 10x growth in Totem Lake and Everett.

        And ST has to use their modeling when predicting ridership to justify (or not) new stations.
        Its a bit of a problem, with no fixes identified.

        The unelected part is fine, but the apparent lack of modeling correctives over last 10 years is not at all fine

      3. ST’s stations are based on urban centers. The problem is that King County’s criteria for an urban center is based more on job numbers than residential numbers. An area has to have enough zoned capacity for a certain number of jobs in order to be an urban center. Totem Lake and Issaquah have zoned for tall office towers to meet that threshold. Ballard and Lake City have enough population but they don’t have enough zoned jobs capacity, and residential population doesn’t count. In other words, their residential:jobs ratios are too far on the residential side. Rezoning them to meet the criteria would face the usual NIMBY opposition about changing the character of the neighborhood and height limits and parking spaces. There is a HALA process underway to expand the urban villages, but if’s unclear if that would be enough or whether it will be watered down.

        What we really need to do to fix the logjam is to convince the county to either:

        – Change the criteria to allow a residential+jobs balance to meet the threshold rather than just jobs, or
        – Make an exception for Ballard and Lake City given their population size, enthusiasm for mixed use, and transit ridership.

        If the county changes its criteria and Ballard and Lake City become urban centers, then the PSRC will recognize them and include them in their population quotas and grant considerations.

        I’ve brought this up to city and county councilmembers, and one of them said he’s working on a fix for these but so far it hasn’t happened.

        But even if we fix the future, the damage has been done in the past. ST2 left out Lake City and Ballard because of this. Ballard got into ST3 for another reason: the high priority the city placed on it. Lake City was left out of ST3 too except for the not-very-close 130th station we had to push so hard for. 522 BRT will bypass Lake City and run on 145th. If it Lake City had been an official urban center in 2014 or 2008, then 130th station might have been almost automatic, and Lake City might have been able to keep the 522 and the BRT.

        – Convince the county to use a jobs+residential criter

      4. There’s also a geographic size component to the PSRC calculations. Ballard could expand its borders and take in some of Fremont and Interbay to make the numbers look better, but so far that hasn’t happened. Other areas, like Totem Lake, can expand their boundaries to the maximum allowed and make the numbers look better.


        Check out Ballard/Interbay in the link above! According to the PSRC, Ballard has a population of 1,846 and 780 total housing units. Look at the map of Ballard/Interbay in the link–what most people think of as Ballard isn’t what the PSRC considers Ballard.

      6. So it’s not just Ballard’s borders, it’s that the PSRC is looking at the industrial area rather than the urban village. The other industrial areas are more clear-cut, but Ballard has a lot of new apartments in that green area, and its industrial part and residential/commercial part really overlap and merge into each other. That could be difficult if the PSRC insists on these either/or categories. If you put a regional growth center north of the industrial center, it would be so residential it wouldn’t have enough jobs. But if you transfer “downtown” Ballard to the regional growth center, then the industrial center would shrink and maybe fall off the map.

      7. Compare Ballard to Renton. Renton is also carefully drawn to include most of the industrial areas and it completely avoids all the residential area between 405 and the Boeing plant.

      8. @GuyOnBeaconHill: Ouch. I can pick single blocks in Ballard proper that would surpass that 1,846 number easily. I knew PSRC was skewed towards the exurbs, but that’s kinda ridiculous.

      9. You guys are talking about the Ballard-Interbay MANUFACTURING/INDUSTRIAL Center. At least 80% of the property in a manufacturing/industrial center needs to be zoned for those uses. So no, you will not find much housing in them. These are different beasts from regional growth centers.

      10. The point is that Ballard-Fremont and Lake City have the potential to be regional growth centers too and already are. Having that designation would make them must-serve for high-capacity transit, and would have given them higher priority for Link lines or alternative service. If it’s necessary to have both an industrial center and a regional growth center next to each other then we can adjust the boundary between them. Lake City has the 522 because it’s on the way and the 522’s predecessor went there. But ST has shown that the 522 is for Bothell, Kenmore, and Lake Forest Park, not Lake City, because it will probably reroute it to 145th when the station opens and that’s the BRT route too. If Lake City had been a designated regional growth center, then it would be as must-serve as Kenmore and Bothell and would have clout to keep an ST route, whether the 522 or another one.

      11. Also, is there any thing preventing the PSRC from having both a protected Ballard/Interbay manufacturing/industrial center AND a Ballard/Fremont population growth center? Seems like they should be encouraging population and job centers to be adjacent to each other.

  1. Center lanes for Tacoma Link saves parking now but could also make exclusive lanes easier in the future. Not a bad development given the alternatives.

    1. Eight parking spaces? They’re worried about eight parking spaces? Do they understand that’s only eight cars? Or at most thirty-two cars if they turn over every two hours. The hospital has more staff and visitors on a single floor than that. I wish it would have transit lanes but I’m not optimistic, not if they’re more concerned about eight parking spaces.

    2. The picture makes them look exclusive – will they be mixed traffic? If yes, I agree – center running could make for better exclusive lanes in the future

    3. That’s the existing Tacoma Link, which is exclusive in the south part but not on Commerce Street downtown. It remains to be seen whether the extension will be.

    4. I’m starting to roll my eyes at Tacoma Link plans. The MLK extension was the wrong one to build first, because it’s making a crazy switchback loop; nobody will ride it all the way through so it’ll be like two totally separate lines. But OK, whatever. But now they’re proposing in ST3 to extend west from the south end of it. That’s crazy because it’s making the problem worse. They need to extend along 6th Avenue, not along 19th St.

      If they extend along 19th, they’ll end up needing a new bypass track from Pacific & 21st to MLK & 19th, to avoid UTTER STUPIDITY. Sadly this appears not to have even been proposed. But it’s going to be very obviously necessary. I hope they have streetcars which can handle the grade.

  2. I went to the ST3 forum hosted by the League of Women Voters in Tacoma on Monday hoping for a debate of sorts, with genuine interest in hearing arguments from the opposition. The opposition came up lacking (even more than expected). First, two people against ST3 (from People for “Smarter” Transit) were supposed to be there to present their case against two people for ST3 (from Transportation Choices Coalition), with a Sound Transit employee presenting a neutral viewpoint (although a slight bias is inevitable I think).

    Only one of the two people on the no side even showed up, which is good for ST3, but not so much for people like me interested in hearing their best arguments. And the guy that was there, I couldn’t believe he was saying what he was saying. There are many things he said that were factually incorrect, much of which was corrected by the people from TCC, and some of it which was corrected by the Sound Transit official there. One of the most outrageous things he said was that 200 people in a train running every 3 minutes is unrealistic because ST said that they can’t run U-Link more frequently than every 6 (no one from ST or TCC noted that this is because of buses in the tunnel), but then he suggested during his arguments that someone (clearly not ST because they are of course incompetent) should build a rail line from Tacoma to Seattle that will take 8 minutes (yes, that’s 225 MPH average speed, meaning that top speed has to be greater, and that’s with no intermediate stops).

    There was some disappointments from the yes side as well. Neither TCC or ST discussed the meaning of “year of expenditure dollars,” meaning that the bulk of their argument about cost amounted to “yeah, it’s $54 billion, but it’s worth it,” as opposed to “it’s $54 billion total, but in 2014 dollars, it’s really $18 billion” (leaving many of the opposition’s arguments largely unchallenged).

    All in all it was worth it, and it gave me more hope for ST3 passing. The opposition was right on one thing: we need more funding for education.

    1. The false information is unfortunate but the fact they could barely get someone there in the first place tells you how disorganized they are. Hopefully when they get their statement on the ballet (if they do?) it will be just as chaotic and useless. That only helps the ST3 initiative.

      1. Oh jeez, I wish the people rebutting the case against ST3 really did a better job. There is so much false information in the arguments against yet they cite hardly anything to explain why it’s incorrect. And none of the pro arguments even mentions that the 54 billion is in YOE dollars, so the opposition is free to run with the big scary $54,000,000,000 figure without any sort of clarification. People are going to look at this thing and think that it costs 38,571,000,000 hamburgers at Dick’s simply because no one on the pro side thought that making something look 3 times cheaper is a compelling argument. Clarification on the YOE dollars is the lowest hanging fruit you could possibly ask for. It would be a huge shame if we lost the measure because the pro arguments left this out.

      2. The Snohomish County con statement is also full-on Eyman… making it look like taxes will go up way more than they actually would. It’s unfortunate that people can lie in the pro/con statements (yes, it’s freedom of speech, but I struggle with the use of untruths stated as fact in arguments).

        Just a snipet:
        “Just say No to 55% increase in sales taxes
        Working families, seniors, and the poor get hit hardest with sales taxes above 10%.

        Just say No to tripling car tab taxes
        Voters have repeatedly said No to higher car tab taxes – yet ST3 triples them. As prices go up – car taxes will too.”

      3. Unfortunately, with every proposal, you are bound to get people of various strips to oppose it. Unlike the “Pro” side, there really is no official “Con” group. The closest you can come to that is probably Smarter Transit, lead by Maggie Fimia. But Sound Transit (the “Pro” group) gets to decide who writes the opposition on the ballot statement. Rather than pick the group that is actually organized in opposition (the folks behind, they chose Tim Eyman. Some would say this is just an honest attempt at picking the opposition that is most experienced politically. Others would say it is a brazen attempt at identity politics — an attempt to smear all opposition as anti-tax zealots. I would probably fall into that second group. If anyone is willing to stretch the truth when it comes to passing an initiative, it is the folks behind ST3 (can anyone explain the ST3 ridership numbers? Anyone?).

        As to why no one showed up — I don’t know (traffic maybe?). I attended a political forum at Haller Lake, and there were representatives there from various campaigns (including both candidates for U. S. Congress). Maggie Fimia was the “Con” voice, and she did a pretty good job, in my opinion. She focused on a lot of things that are really irrelevant, in my opinion. It is obvious that after working very hard to get ST1 passed (if you doubt this, look at who is quoted on the Seattle Times article the night they won) she completely lost faith in the organization. So she focuses on things like capacity (light rail isn’t heavy rail) instead of what I would consider to be the crucial question: Is ST3 a good plan. You can argue that a combination of heavy rail and BRT makes more sense, or spend all day talking about the big money behind light rail, but at the end of the day, ST1 and ST2 projects will be built (more or less). But ST3 is a very different beast, and in my opinion, opponents should focus on that. The easy fruit has been picked. Of course you run a line to the UW, as well as a bit farther. Bellevue rail is fine. But Issaquah? West Seattle? Tacoma and Everett? That is really uncharted territory. The cities that have attempted anything like that — anything that far away from anything resembling an urban core, to sparsely populated suburbs — have simply not had ridership (let alone value added) to justify the expense.

        Then there is the planning. Did Sound Transit start with a blank slate, and consider all the options? Of course not. Did they even consider all the options with the corridors they somehow figured deserved priority (despite common sense and every map suggesting otherwise)? Nope. There was no attempt to study a major bus based infrastructure program for either West Seattle or Issaquah despite the fact that we actually built a bus tunnel in this town (and it really isn’t that hard to build). They wanted rail, and they wanted it bad. This is what they proposed.

        As to whether the opposition can convey that message or not, I really don’t know. It may not matter, anyway. Voters are stupid. Just look at the national polls. Holy smokes, folks, Trump is within spitting distance of a woman who is obviously more qualified, smarter, and more in touch with the average American than her opponent (who is a pathological liar). Yet the election may hinge on whether she has another cold or not. Likewise, most of the voters who vote for this, will vote for it because “they like rail” or even worse “we have to do something about traffic” without any thought as to whether spending billions on this plan actually makes sense. Likewise, those that oppose it will probably be more in tune with Eyman than anyone at Smarter Transit likes (Maggie Fimia is a life long Democrat, by the way). Such is politics, I guess (I can’t wait for December — hopefully I won’t have to move to Canada by then).

    2. Urgent phone call and long drive home made me leave early, Alex. But opposition speaker brought home one element every transit campaign really needs: “Truth-in-Terrestrial-Transportation.”

      Earth isn’t a very big planet, but it does have many transit systems cheaper and faster to build and operate than Central Puget Sound. But facts don’t have to be mentioned to still wreck both budgets and trains.

      For instance, inheritance injustice didn’t die with Charles Dickens. A generous smoke-belching great-grandfather of a railroad left Vancouver with a tunnel under Canada’s most crowded and expensive real estate west of Toronto. Two tube-diameters high to vent fumes, so whistle-deprived SkyTrain passengers can change directions by escalator.

      And compared to Seattle itself, except for some mountain towns in Portugal- some of which have streetcars- the world is so flat you really can fall off the edge. Wait’ll Edward Snowden exposes the suppressed accident reports! Even if we didn’t make so much trackage into bike trails, we’re still disinherited.

      I also think real reason Forward didn’t have orbital Thrust was that for our amount of digging and elevating, we were forty years short of the tax base for our needs even then. Have never once seen this equation even mentioned where transit truth needed it most. Painful world-wide pro-transit fact, though: rail-requiring tax base is always a standing crush load.

      Should be enough rail engineering video featuring crash-test dummies (at least they die with the direct knowledge their ST-3 opposition counterparts lack) to show what an eight minute ride from Seattle to Tacoma would look like. Graham Street station would only make it worse. However, Philadelphia’s Norristown High Speed line goes back to PCC days- which early trains were.

      Customer Service and ST Risk Management could never get staff or budget to handle passenger acceptance. Though projected ridership will stuff the cars tight enough so accel- and deceleration won’t propel any individual through a bulkhead. But clincher is that 18 years of ridership each will result in enough voters going “Wheeeeeeee!” not only to pass ST to the whatever power, but to unanimously bring back actual voting.

      The Truth will not only make us Free, but also Moving. Just have speakers’ bureau be rail engineers. No offense to a vital local industry, but if it wants a Paine Field Station, best no reminders of the Boeing Vertol LRV’s. OK, Breda everything is worse, but zombie fad won’t last forever.


      1. Never forget that Forward Thrust got a majority. Stupid state-imposed supermajority rules are the one and ONLY reason it didn’t happen.

    3. Alex I’m guessing you were in the light rail t-shirt and I found the same thing where even I could have made better arguments myself and I had them.

      You don’t happen to be on Twitter do you?

      1. Yeah, that was me in the light rail shirt. @AlexKven on Twitter. Follow me and I’ll build you a 225 mile-per-hour train line in six years :-)

    4. Well, you could almost get to Tacoma to Seattle in 8 minutes if you were to succeed from the union and become part of China. That Beijing Maglev to the Airport thing moves pretty good.

      Problem is that Tacoma doesn’t have enough density for that yet. China says they want to see at least a million in a city before it even has a chance of getting a subway line, let alone Maglev.

      1. Pugetopolis has 3+ million people. China probably follows the international practice of giving cities control over their metropolitan areas. Seattle used to too, until the politics of the of the late 1950s put an end to annexations as the adjacent areas started seeing it as undesirable to join a big city and preferred “local control”. It was also partly racialized. And there was also a quirk in the tax code: unincorporated areas have only two levels of taxes (state and county) so their taxes are lower, and as they grew and started needing urban services the cities ended up subsidizing them. Other countries tend to have more metropolitan governments rather than tolerating these arbitrary fiefdoms, and don’t have that anti-city attitude.

      2. If Tacoma doesn’t have the density for Maglev, then it certainly doesn’t have the density for a new subway. Sure enough, it doesn’t.

        Commuter rail, commuter buses and even a commuter ferry make a lot more sense.

    5. Anecdotally, people I’ve talked too seem rather lukewarm about ST 3. People who are already getting rail from ST 2 are questioning what they need ST3 for, and there is still a lot of concern about the long timetable, particularly from older folks, who might be dead or in a nursing home before ST3 rail to Ballard actually gets built. I think there are still a lot of people who have hopes that ST3 being voted down will mean a faster timetable coming up on the ballot next year. I don’t think these hopes are realistic, but, like it or not, people still have them.

  3. I’m just going to go sob quietly in a corner while Desmond makes TransLink even more awesome. That guy was the best part of Metro’s management, by far.

    1. Bruce, what struck me in the article was same as every morning’s traffic report here. More people, we and Vancouver BC can handle. But for both of our lifetimes, chief obstacle to the average person’s freedom (hate “mobility”) is their own automobiles.

      But worst thing about the situation is the (hate “vicious circle” too) is that problem is also worst obstacle to its own solution. Including the revenue lost to daily multi-mile blockages, including funding for minimum transit expansion.

      So here’s a construction-free approach that from rhetoric I heard in Tacoma Monday night many bus-only advocates should strongly approve. On every freeway and major arterial, when revenue losses are permanent and increasing, close one lane each direction to car traffic. Making bus fleet fewer because it’ll be faster.

      Provable budget measure. Civil defense too (though everybody who remembers the term is dead by now) is honest. “Anti-terror” too. But if anything ever deserved to be called “Fighting for Freedom”, shouldn’t take too many incidents of people sleeping in their cars for a solid week to rally to the flag.

      Which a whole region full of people will eagerly stand to salute because their legs have been asleep for a week.

      Mark Dublin

    2. Don’t sob. Build a better net.

      Hey dude, last spring we at Skagit Transit lost a damn good planner so she could save her marriage. Well into the rebuilding and schedule resetting process now. Our focus at the Skagit Transit citizens committee I serve on now is not just getting back the professional relationship we had – and we’re well on our way, but also in building a better transit net to honour our friend Carolyn MC.

      So there you go. It’s ok to be upset. It’s what you do with the upset that matters.

    3. Yeah, yet another reason to be jealous of Vancouver BC transit. Even when they fail (on a project that is much more sensible than ST3) they end up way ahead.

  4. The Issaquah article doesn’t say what’s wrong with the construction or how it it’s not adhering to the central Issaquah plan. This makes it impossible to tell whether the council is being pro-urbanist or anti-urbanist. A moratorium on its face is anti-urbanist, so I’d like some information on why this moratorium is necessary and what they’re trying to prevent.

    1. The vibe I got from the council member quotes I read was that it’s a genuine attempt to improve the quality of projects in the development pipeline. They want to review & improve the zoning rules to get better projects. The moratorium is only 6 months, so it’s really telling developers “hey, hold on to your applications for a few months while we update the rules.” The area isn’t getting a much development right now so it’s not like it’s stopping a flood of construction. As someone who leaves near the area, I’d much rather get the area right than build quickly – the light rail station is so far in the future that TOD isn’t an immediate need like is in around ST1 & 2 stations.

      Key quote: “The ordinance mentioned several categories in which building is not living up to the Central Issaquah Plan’s ideals, including “architectural fit with the community, urban design elements, vertical mixed use, affordable housing, parking and district vision.” ” … here I actually think they mean current projects have too much surface parking.

      Of course, there is the risk that the zoning review could result is a less urbanist zoning code, so pro-urbanist people need to remain engaged through the review process.

    2. It would seem that they could just those trap projects that don’t match stated city goals by simply catching them during the building permit process.

      Why is the city on one hand permitting these projects to go forward, and then on the other hand crying foul because they supposedly are contrary to established city policy?

      Something smells fishy here, and as Michael Dukakis was fond of saying, “A fish stinks from the head.”

      The problem here isn’t the developers, it is the Issaquah City Hall that either is too ineffectual to implement their own policy and plans, or is simply grandstanding against “developers”.

      And I like the way they slipped this moratorium in — unannounced and right at the end of a long meeting. That is a pathetic attempt to squelch comment.

      1. They drafted a set of rules, and then didn’t like the projects that came through the permitting process, so they are revisiting their rules. They can’t reject a permit just because they don’t like it.

      2. “Why is the city on one hand permitting these projects to go forward”

        That’s what the city is trying to figure out. Why does the letter of the law not match their intent, and what can be changed in the law to close these loopholes. Although we still don’t know what they object to.

      3. See, AJ, that’s why the US system is so much worse than the British “planning permission” system. In Britain they *can* just reject a permit because they don’t like it. Makes it way more honest.

    3. Some other article I read made it sound like at least some of the council’s concerns were broadly similar to concerns about The Ave in the U District.

    4. I think the moratorium is a good move, because after ST3 passes, Issaquah will have a better idea of where it should plan its long-term growth. Better to build it right than fast.

  5. RE Ballot Postage:

    My understanding is USPS will deliver all ballots regardless of the postage on the ballot. USPS settles up with the county for the insufficient postage.

    Basically by adding a stamp (or 2) you are helping defray the cost of the election – a nice thing to do but please vote regardless of how many stamps you have!

    1. I actually ran into this issue a few years back while attempting to vote absentee in an Alaskan election while as school in New Orleans. The ballot paperwork said the postage would be one value, but when weighed at the post office, it required a slightly higher amount. It was something like $0.48 vs $0.52, or somewhere around there. I paid the full amount and then immediately contacted my Alaskan US Senators and Representatives, because I was concerned that others might run into this issue and not get their ballots delivered. Within minutes I got a reply from Senator Murkowski’s office where they stated that as long as some non-zero amount of postage is applied the USPS will deliver a ballot, regardless of what that amount is.

    2. I’ve always heard this is true but I’m not sure if I trust it. I really HOPE it’s true and if it is they should let everyone know about it. Returning the ballot should absolutely be free.

      1. If showing ID to vote is violating some rule and supposedly makes it hard for some to vote, then for sure having to pay to vote is a hindrance.

        And having just a handful of free drop-offs doesn’t allow people to vote for free either.

      2. The drop-boxes are still less of a hindrance than old-school voting, right? Because they’re open for more than just the business hours of one day?

      3. Of course they are, Al… but if we could consider all outgoing mailboxes as a dropbox that would obviously be better, right?

      1. Easy fix for the historically malodorous Poll Tax postal update. Initiative for Constitutional mandate bringing back voting with neighbors, machines (I liked the 1928 Remington typewriter era ones), and three year old kids demanding their dads pick them up to really vote.

        Making drop-boxes good short-term compromise. Also, for any initiative, or partisan election, would make our ailing politics a lot healthier if voters came in like-minded groups, partisan or ST- you pick the number. I forget- are buttons allowed? Well, just be sure your group fits a profile. With everybody promising to either not say anything to opinion-pollsters or at least lie.

        Our Founding generation gave the postal service a lot of importance. But doubt ballots were ever mail-in. Maybe absence of Home Shopping Network removed a very bad civic example.


      2. King County will be adding about 12 more ballot drop boxes for the November election. I think there will be about 40 drop locations in total around King County. Unfortunately, very few of them are at transit-oriented locations or in the most densely populated neighborhoods.

  6. Re: Parking Benefit District, where some of the parking proceeds go to neighborhoods. Which neighborhood entity? I’d pushback too if I didn’t know.

  7. So disappointing to see the immense struggles to construct the elevated rail line in Honolulu. Because of the topography of Oahu, the city is laid out in a way that investing in a quality rail line down the spine should lead to a well used system. But spending $8 billion? I understand being an island means likely having higher costs to obtain materials to building the line, but wow is that a high figure!

    1. At least this line will be used. We’re going to spend the same to add a *light rail* line to the far reaches of Tacoma, Issaquah, and Everett on a circuituous slow routing. No one will use that and the cost is the same.

      1. It will have at least as many people as are on the 51x and 4xx and 8xx now. That’s more than zero. In fact it’s a third of all trips currently on north I-5 if I recall. The south end may have worse ridership because of Link’s travel time compared to ST Express or Sounder from Tacoma Dome, but it will be higher than zero. And not everybody is going downtown. Link is even more advantageous when you’re going to one of the non-downtown stations.

      2. This makes it sound like the goal of the line is trips from Everett to Tacoma or that every trip on the train is expected to begin or end in Seattle. Tacoma, the East side, and Everett all have their own residents and businesses. The circuitous route an end-to-end rider decries can be essential service to those who live along its path.

      3. fletc3her I would believe you if north link had a single station that was anything more than a giant P&R. No one is going to drive to a P&R and take a train to another P&R – they will just keep driving. There are no inner-Snohomish trip pairs that make any reasonable sense. This train is absolutely for shuttling people from their parking spot to Seattle.

        The I-5 routing will ensure it stays like that for the foreseeable future. Name one example of a light rail station next to a freeway that people actually want to live or play near.

      4. If rents continue to skyrocket in Seattle, the number of people without cars in Snohomish county will grow. The result will be more trips in the form of bus->Link or bus->Link->bus. Even if the vast majority of people won’t travel like this, even a small increase in the numbers that do can have a big impact in the number of riders in the transit system. Especially if driverless Uber is able to provide cost-effective last-mile service, which seems entirely plausible, with 2038 so far off into the future.

      5. Ok asdf2… but that still doesn’t refute the fact that Link will be used primarily for getting to Seattle. I just don’t buy the argument that Link will be used for traveling around Snohomish County. East Link is far more likely to be used locally but they also have far better land-use around the stations. South King has SeaTac and Tacoma, both of which are destinations in their right, and even if Pacific Highway would’ve been ideal it will still be very useful down there. North Link is just a mess.

      6. barnam, asdf2 didn’t say Link won’t be used primarily for getting to Seattle. He said Snohomish County would get more people without cars making bus+train+bus trips. That’s what transit is for, and those trips are valuable. And “going to Seattle” doesn’t mean just downtown. Snohomish County has a strong relationship with all of north Seattle. Over the past 25 years I have various jobs in Ballard, Licton Springs (Meridian Ave), and northeast Seattle, and every one had workers from north Lynnwood and Everett. One guy took STEX from Lynnwood to Bellevue but when he got a job in north Seattle he started driving o it because STEX stops only at 45th and the trip would take two hours. Link offers more choices. I assume Snohomans are also interested in the off-peak cultural life in north Seattle because it’s closer than downtown and “good enough”. Over time Lynnwood will grow into a city with more destinations like Bellevue has.

      7. I think the two intersections of SnoCo LINK with Highway 99 represent the only opportunity for urban growth on the whole northern extension – so long as no parking is provided.

      8. Of course the number of riders won’t be nothing. Nothing equals zero. As every debate teacher will tell you, never saying something as absolute as that (or “half” Hillary) unless you can back it up with a study. The correct phrase is “almost nothing”.

        But all pedantic absolutism aside, the big question is whether more than a bus load will travel that stretch. The answer is, of course, no. Bus-train-bus trips happen all the time. IN THE CITY! They don’t (or won’t) happen with Puyallup to Fife to Federal Way to Kent. Sorry, they just won’t (in numbers justifying a train). Trains traveling at much faster speeds, serving areas much bigger, and much more densely populated, just don’t have that many riders. Of course this sounds great on paper. Of course it sounds great if you (like everyone, including me) think of transit like you would a freeway (travel along the slow side street, then the big freeway, then after you exit, back to the slow side street). But the freeway has zero transfer penalty. I really mean zero this time. There is no cost whatsoever in choosing to use a freeway, which is why I drive it all the time, often for only one exit (e. g. Lake City to Wallingford). But suburban trains, in the middle of nowhere, just don’t run that often, and buses run even less frequently. Two buses (linked together via a big transit center)? Sure, it can work (for folks who can’t afford to buy a car). But bus-train-bus for the likes of the South Sound (let alone Sammamish or Snohomish County)? In your dreams.

        Which is why it makes sense to simply build a nice suburban terminus and be done with it, like every other successful subway system in the world. Then run the buses as often as you can afford. It is a lot cheaper than extending the train out to the hinterlands — heck, it might even be cheaper than running them.

    2. Honolulu desperately needs something like this. Unfortunately the cost of everything there is immense for a couple reasons 1. everything comes from the mainland including the contractors 2. the cost of living is high so there’s a lot of upward wage pressure. Realistically, Hawaii is a pretty poor state so this is a real burden for them but the commute times into central Honolulu from the affordable residential areas is unbelievable even on a good day.

      1. Yep, everything costs more in Hawaii. And the costs are going up every year it’s delayed because of “construction inflation”, which is faster than regular inflation and faster than non-Hawaii construction inflation.

        On top of that, this is their first rail project since… the 1920s, I think? They have zero expertise and even have to import the engineers. Who they then have to pay living expenses for. A “learning experience” for the management, too; LA has managed a huge number of rail construction projects, Hawaii none.

        They have the usual problems with unmarked utilities; they have unidentified contamination from the Navy. They had an insane series of delays caused by anti-rail fanatics based on claims that there might be Native Hawaiian bones along the route, which lost them several years and a lot of money. (There weren’t.)

        When finished HART will be the most successful rail system in the country by many measures. It’ll have huge ridership and because it’s automated, it’ll have costs like Vancouver BC. It’s a pity it’s taking so long to finish and they’re still having funding issues.

    1. So far, most of the smaller rural agencies seem to be missing from it. I hope that is resolved over time.

      For example:

      Portland and Eugene are available, but Salem isn’t.

      InterCity Transit (Olympia and Thurston Counties) is shown, but not Twin Transit in Centralia.

      Hats off to River Cities Transit (Kelso – Longview) for getting on the map, and also Link Transit in Wenatchee. They seem to be the smallest systems on the map so far in the northwest.

      1. Smaller agencies simply don’t have the data in a usable format, typically.

        My city, Ithaca, NY, doesn’t. I’ve talked to them about it; they lack the budget to convert to a computer system which holds the data.

  8. Day 271 since the last Metro General Manager’s Newsletter (Thank you Mr. Demond)
    A. His shoes were too big to fill.
    B. The Council deems this as ‘Seasonal Work’.
    C. Metro duct taped over the ships compass to hide the fact the rudder is missing.
    Z. [Your own conspiracy theory here – all are welcome in these political times]

      1. Glenn, your keyboard to Labor Law’s ear! Couple rules. That every single promotion in any agency or corporation imitate actual capitalist family business.

        Like tradition of the Old Man, and Lady, and the Youngest Lazy Little Know-It-All (somebody look up the Italian or Yiddish here) yelling at each other in correct language is harder to codify, but worth the effort.

        Upside: every bad operations decision will be made by somebody who oughtta know better. Good side: Considering habit of excessive middle management, will be no trouble finding drivers.

        Stratospheric side: Number of people finding, as they first grip the steering wheel and click the trolleycoach into “Forward”, how Real-Work-Deprived our Post-Industrial Economy has left us as human beings as well as a country.

        With its own spectacular benefits. One, middle-management ranks will swiftly “right-size”, meaning diminished working conditions and pay for admittedly miserable work. And two, very large number of intelligent young Americans will start answering cash appeals from the Democrats with list of conditions.

        Starting with dragging the “Post” our of our “Industrial” with a Caterpillar D-11. And including revival of organized labor as major campaign plank. And advising liberal Democrats with names like Musk and Zuckerberg they’ll only accept five dollar checks with little union emblems on the paper.

        And Mic, here’s Conspiracy Theory that fits all the facts.

        Our nation holds together by a 300 million member conspiracy across 10 million square miles to get our work done and not factionally kill each other, regardless of temptation. Liberating ourselves from Government in general by needing it only for clerical stuff.

        We’ve all got our black traditional hats, capes, and sunglasses, and our round black bombs that look like old-fashioned road flares in our closets for formal occasions. But rest of the time, American Anarchism’s real National Anthem by definition requires that nobody stand up for.

        “….it’s all right, it’s all right, you can’t be forever blessed.
        And tomorrow’s gonna be another working day, and I’m trying to get some rest, that’s all…
        I’m just trying to get some rest.” As Paul Simon wrote it after a long, hard day.

        See you in the morning, guys.

        Mark Dublin

  9. Big surprise, the Seattle Times’s coverage of the Bellevue ST3 debate last night leaves the reader with a sense of doubt as to whether the thing will pass.

    Towards the end of the article, Linblom states:

    >>>It’s also likely, though neither debater mentioned it, that an ST3 loss would trigger a movement by Seattle-transit advocates to seek taxes for in-city rail.

    Assuming ST3 fails and a Seattle go it alone movement succeeds, what would the Seattle go it alone rail system look like?

      1. Mic, unfortunately, what a diesel engine to weak to power a golf cart can’t do, an excellent AC propulsion package can. But am crowd-sourcing a zombie movie that will hopefully kill the genre. It’s called “The Dead Don’t Unionize!”

        Which could really be a documentary, given actual traditional Third World constant that wage-right-sizing black magic is a hundred percent poison. Proximity of Starbucks’ to the IT world and Amazon strongly suspected.

        But since with poles down the mold-ridden rubber tired crypts can only be pulled by plate tectonics, a Melbourne streetcar will simply liberate itself by pulling a rotting chunk of bumper off a Breda and leaving it in the Sculpture Garden, which considering SAM’s respect for transit is exactly where it belongs.

        We’ll get them “provenance” (traditionally artistically fake proof) that it’s an Alexander Calder (like the huge red armor-piercing bullet practice target) recently found in a Jersey dump, and they’ll put a plaque on it.

        Good thought!


    1. There has been talk of using monorail taxing authority– what that would allow is still up in the air. Ballard to UW would be a candidate. Some have argued that the west side transit tunnel would not qualify. West Seattle light rail would cost too much for the authority.

    2. I’m voting no on ST3. We can and will do better. Ballard only needs elevated automated rail from market street to westlake. Not a new downtown tunnel. West seattle to sodo light rail. Snoho county needs more HOV lanes. More BRT. No more spine. We need a 10 to 15 year package not 25…

      1. >> The problem is we vote this down and then what? Wait another four years and maybe get BRT and less light rail?

        Yes, and it is quite likely it would be a lot better. To be clear, i don’t really care if you call it BRT or not. But improved bus service, along with infrastructure improvements for the buses would be a lot better for most of the area than ST3. I would feel differently if we were debating ST2 (which I voted for, and would vote for again). But ST3 is different, and your area (Snohomish County) is a good example of the difference. Lynnwood is a great terminus. If you look at the Snohomish County transit map, it is much more the center of Snohomish County transit than is Everett. It is actually just as densely populated, if not more so. But more to the point, it is reasonable to assume (especially with similar feeder bus service) that you can get decent frequency and decent ridership to that station (the two go together).

        Everett station, on the other hand, will likely be a ridership disaster. During most of the day, the existing buses are much faster. Even during rush hour it is a close call (since the bus takes a direct route, and doesn’t need to make any stops). Yet the ridership for express bus service is not very high. There simply aren’t that many people willing to go that far via a bus or subway. Everett is not unique. You will find very few places in the U. S. that are any different. With ridership small, you can expect frequency to be small. Agencies have a very hard time running empty trains all the time to areas so far away. It is just too expensive. They either run (infrequent) commuter trains or more frequent buses (which again, would be faster).

        I have no idea what the bottlenecks are in Everett, or the rest of Snohomish County, but I see no reason why they can’t be addressed directly. An overpass here, widen the street there, a lot of paint over there and the buses move a lot faster. Then put the money into service, along with a bunch more off board payment stations (like that featured by Swift). Heck, you could just double the frequency of Swift, making it a lot like a real BRT system, and it would be a much better value than ST3 is (for Snohomish County).

        Seattle is different. Seattle has the density and proximity to make rail justified. But only if you put it in the right place. ST1 and ST2 did. ST3 doesn’t. What makes sense for the suburbs (and suburban cities like Everett) is to push for rail in the right places in the city, and to push for the right bus improvements in the suburbs. Push for that in four years.

    3. It’s not “what would” at this point, it’s “what do we want?” The officials haven’t said what they’d support, and 99% of the public has not thought about it. A few STBers have floated some ideas. The most common priorities are:
      – A Ballard-UW underground line.
      – Westside Seattle Transit Tunnel: a second downtown bus tunnel in a Y shape with exits at Pioneer Square, Interbay, and Aurora for the C, D, E and other routes.
      – Metro 8 line: an uiderground line around Denny Way and 23rd Avenue.
      – A gondola from Uptown and SLU to Capitol Hill.

      There’s an unused monorail tax authority, for “fixed-guideway transit excluding light rail”. Some say it could raise up to $1 billion, which may or may not be enough for one of these projects. Some say the anti light rail provision can be gotten around because the legislature only inserted it at the insistence of a few Seattle actvists, and it doesn’t even define light rail. But that was a different legislature years ago. The current legislature might more more likely to revoke the authority if they notice it’s still there.

      If ST3 fails, there may be sufficient pressure on the legislature to allow cities to raise enough money for their own transit solutions. However, it might go the other way and the legislature just says no. One person said ST is likely to just re-propose the same package in 2020 if it fails. I don’t know how true that is. In that case the city might put alternatives on hold until after the 2020 vote.

      The other thing is, when these ideas reach the politicians’ and public’s radar, they may say, “We don’t want these crazy things. We want the line from Ballard to downtown and West Seattle that has gotten the most public support throughout the monorail and ST3 process.”

      What do you want?

      1. I’m amazed that people think that voting ST3 down would create pressure on the legislature to support new transportation initiatives. There is a significant bloc of the legislature which is opposed to spending money on anything that isn’t roads. A vote against ST3 will give them a mandate because even the most dense population center in the state would be on record as being anti-transit. I really think we’d be talking about a generational delay.

      2. They aren’t anti-transit, they are anti stupid transit. The city has voted repeatedly for transit initiatives. Most recently for Move Seattle projects and more money for Metro. A vote against ST3 (in the city) would send shock waves through the system. It wouldn’t be seen as a sudden, unexplained anti-transit shift in public opinion, but rather a repudiation of what Sound Transit has proposed.

    4. I wrote this once bit it seems to have vanished. The question now is not “what would it be” but “what do you want?” We don’t know what it would be because the officials haven’t said and 99% of the public has not thought about it. A few STBers have floated some ideas. The ones with the most widespread support are:
      – A Ballard-UW underground line.
      – Westside Seattle Transit Tunnel: a second downtown bus tunnel in a Y shape with exits at Pioneer Square, Interbay, and Aurora for the C, D, E, 120, and possibly other routes.
      – “Metro 8” line: and underground line around Denny Way and 23rd Avenue.
      – A goldola from Uptown to SLU and Capitol Hill.

      There is an unused monorail authority for “fixed-guideway transit excluding light rail”. Some say it could raise $1 billion, which may or may not be enough for one of these projects. Some also say the anti light rail provision can be gotten around because the legislature doesn’t really care, it just inserted the provision because a few Seattle activists insisted on it. But that was a different legislature in the past. The current legislature might be more likely to revoke the authority if they notice it still exists.

      However, when the issue gets into the city council’s and public’s radar, they may say, “We don’t want these crazy ideas. We want a ST3-lite, the Ballard to downtown and West Seattle line that has gained the most public support throughout both the monorail and ST3 projects.”

      1. I suppose the whole thing could be done cheaper if it was elevated exclusively (cheaper than tunnels) with shorter lines terminating at Link stations avoiding super expensive downtown.

        I am not in favor of the spine. But I am in favor of getting something at all. Most mass transit votes fail here. If ST3 passes, its something. Bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

      2. Not building capacity downtown would overwhelm the existing tunnel and leave no room for incremental expansion. A PSRC report a year or two ago predicted a 6,000 person (from memory) gap in downtown transit capacity for both longer trips and intra-downtown circulation, meaning people who want to get on a bus/train would find them completely full. That was the motivation behind the second downtown tunnel, a westside rail corridor, splitting RapidRide C and D, and planning a future 3rd Avenue with mostly RapidRide lines (which can move more people en masse than a spaghetti of routes). All that will lead to people mostly taking Link and RapidRide to transfer points outside downtown, rather than a mishmash of 15- and 30-minute and peak-only routes downtown.

      3. And for those who think we should just put more trains and lines in the existing tunnel: ST2 will have trains every 3 minutes peak, 5 minutes off-peak to Lynnwood. ST was originally going to truncate the East Link trains at Northgate off-peak but later decided it would need all of them in Lynnwood. Some people at ST have been nervous that that may not be enough for medium-term capacity (2040), and a few others have worried about overcrowded trains (even with 4 x 20 cars every hour). The Everett, downtown Redmond, and West Seattle extensions will add some more. ST thinks it could break the 3-minute limit with capital improvements to the DSTT, bringing it down to 2 minutes or 1.5 minutes. But before giving that to other areas, we first need to see how much the existing demand will fill plus the proposed Everett, downtown Redmond, and West Seattle extensions.

        Having a second tunnel turns the “maybe not enough capacity” into “plenty of capacity” — at least network-wide if maybe not on individual corridors. This “plenty of capacity” is what the DSTT itself brought in 1990: an investment for now and the future. That kept the cost of the downtown tunnel outside ST1 because it was already built, and that may have helped ST1 to succeed. In the 1990s people were much less willing to spend capital money for tunnels or light rail, because they hadn’t experienced it and traffic was less. So now we can build a second tunnel and that may help make a future expansion easier to pass. (E.g., the Aurora-Georgetown line.)

        If Link becomes completely full in north Seattle, there are alternatives such as reinstituting an express bus from Edmonds-ish and Aurora-ish to divert some of the people.

    5. >> Assuming ST3 fails and a Seattle go it alone movement succeeds, what would the Seattle go it alone rail system look like?

      Three words: study, study, study. I want all alternatives studied. I don’t want us to assume that we need to focus on West Seattle or even Ballard. I want every transit project to be on the table. Start with a budget, say a billion dollars. What can we get for that much money? How about twice that, or even five times that? Now see how well the plans fit together, and build the most important piece first.

      How do you measure success? Simple, time saved per rider times the number of riders divided by the cost per project. This has been used in the past, and is a very good metric. Of course it favors suburban (longer distance) riders. I don’t care. Given what has been proposed (even in the city) I don’t see why anyone else would. The Central Area is being screwed with the ST3 plan, so why should they care if a metric happens to skew away from it. At the end of the day, my guess is that by any objective measure (even one that favors less urban areas) more sensible projects will bubble to the top.

      This means hiring an objective team of transit planners. Again, these are not like ST planners or SDOT planners. These are folks who aren’t focused on “the spine” or serving West Seattle just because “it is next” while ignoring a Metro 8 subway because no one thought of it. Ask them to come up with proposals, and explain why they think it makes sense. Give them the census maps, employment maps and traffic maps. My guess is they come up with Metro 8 subway, Ballard to UW subway and the WSTT (not necessarily in that order). But even if they don’t, I have no doubt they would come up with something better than what Sound Transit did, because Sound Transit didn’t go through a normal, objective planning process.

      1. > This means hiring an objective team of transit planners. … Give them the census maps, employment maps and traffic maps.

        I am still voting for ST3, but I could not agree with this more. Hire planners from Japan or some such place who have no biases. Approach it scientifically and dispassionately based on your parameters I quoted above.

  10. Can someone tell me about the picture at the top of this article? Where it is? How many bus routes? it is a terrific argument for dedicated bus lanes in city centers.

  11. I hope someone can help me with an ORCA problem. I recently lost an ORCA card that had autoload enabled. The card only had a $5 balance, so it wasn’t worth paying to replace it. I already bought a new card. I just want to cancel the autoload so that nobody can get free rides on my dime.

    I log onto my ORCA account and say “cancel autoload” for the card. But then the site says I have to tap the card within 60 days or else autoload will stay active. So since the card is lost I can’t cancel autoload.

    Then I say “lost card” to deactivate it. But ORCA demands I pay $5 to deactivate the card. Since I already bought a replacement card at QFC, it’s not worth another $5 fee.

    So how do I deactivate and/or cancel the autoload for my ORCA card? This system is insane.

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