This is an open thread.

82 Replies to “News Roundup: Coming Down”

    1. So why aren’t we ordering double length LRV’s again. Because with half the number of cab units, couplers, and electrical connections they sure should be cheaper. And a double would carry more people than 2 singles because of all that extra space that comes from deleting cabs and couplers.

      Ya, I know Ragoff said the O&M facility can’t handle cars that long. But if you look at the existing O&M facility using google it sure does look like a double would fit in there very nicely.

      And we are building a new O&M facility BTW. Surely we can build at least that facility to accommodate doubles…..

      1. Lazarus, that just makes too much sense. Planning for the future is not ST’s strong suit. They’d rather go with the safe option now and pay for it many times over in the future.

      2. Lazarus …

        The new OMF will only be used for minor maintenance … not the heavy maintenance. The SODO OMF could easily be retrofitted to allow for a double length LRV to be jacked up (the real issue) but that might have a detrimental affect to operations.

        It is possible that when the satellite facility is built that they could temp. move some work there while they retrofit the bays in SODO one at a time, but I think they’re just acting with an abundance of caution.

        Remember, modern LRVs are completely modular. Kinkisharyo has successfully lengthened the LRVs they produced for NJ Transit. There is no reason why we could not do the same down the road.

        When I asked Sound Transit they didn’t offer a compelling argument as to why not.

      3. @barman,

        Concur 100%.


        That explanation doesn’t make complete sense to me per what I remember of the existing O&M facility on the few times I have actually been in it, but it has been awhile. I’ll ask my sources for an explanation.

        And, yes, the LRV’s could be rebuilt at a later date into doubles, but it would be much more cost effective to do it up front. And with the success of this system, we all know that we aren’t going to see many 1-car trains in the future.

        In a

      4. Gordon,

        As someone who has interned at a Japanese train manufacturer, and have studied rail systems around the world, I could not be more puzzled by STs decision not to go for longer, bigger LRVs.
        STs first mistake was choosing Light rail over Heavy Rail, their second mistake was going with low floor/low platforms, and now this will be their third major mistake they have made vehicle technology.

      5. @TGC,

        Na, ST got it right with their selection of LR tech and low-floor trains — and sizing it more like a Light Metro as opposed to a traditional LR system was a stroke of genius. But ordering more single length LRV’s? A debatable decision at best.

        Remember that the current need for 3-car trains is really just an artifact of having buses in the DSTT. If buses were out ST would never run 3-car trains. They would opt for an interlined turn-back line between Stadium and Husky Stations instead. Having 3-min headways in the urban core puts the service hours where they are needed (urban core) and doesn’t waste them where they aren’t needed (Airport & Angle Lake). Having 3-min headways in the core produces more capacity than 3-car trains while better utilizing ST’s current fleet size.

        But still, ST really isn’t going to go back to running 1-car trains. The smallest we will see on the line will be 2-car trains. So a mix of doubles and singles would seem appropriate since it serves the base service well with doubles, and allows for 3-car equivalents at peak by adding a single. It adds some operational complexity, but at the same time when you add an interlined line you get some additional operational flexibility.

        So I’d still order a mix of doubles and singles. But I think the rapid success of the line after U-Link opened has caught people a bit by surprise and it will take a little while for policy to catch up with reality.

  1. Sorry, but I’m not ready to have the “If” in the “Driverless Car” discussion morph into “When.”

    In the first place, the term “Driverless” is the same order of lie as “Automated Weapon.” An evasion of responsibility for consequences. Any damage done by a computer is the fault of whatever human gave it its last instruction.

    In the second place, this whole program is the same unsolicited threat to personal safety as the drone program. Maybe personal privacy as well. Considering the variables in free-steered driving in traffic, it could be decades before we know exactly how any vehicle will react in what circumstances.

    In the third place, transit-wise, I can’t see a single benefit at all. Except that people will be able to ride transit between Everett and Tacoma while their car is moving five miles an hour on I-5 without them stuck in it.

    In the fourth place, chief motivation seems to be to spare corporations the wages they presently pay to drivers whose benefits they don’t. Euphemism “Car Sharing” makes an exploitive business arrangement sound like a favor between friends.

    And fifth but a long way from last, the wind in the sails, I mean sales, for this whole campaign is a hurricane force sales effort by an arrogant and untried industry whose wallet can buy a lot more legislation than I can.

    So here’s a compromise. For the next thirty years, let’s experiment by automating those old amusement park “Dodge-‘Em”cars, bumpers and all, in walled-off containment. The electrified net overhead probably good for trolleybuses, at least by making wires look good by comparison.

    And drivers will have the Freedom of Expression to deliver every erg of road-rage full-pedal. But best of all, everybody will be able to Twitter, Tweet, chase Pokemons, and yell at their broker as they slam the highway control into the cushions. OMG! LOL!

    (Wait ’til I get my dead groundhog wig out of the glove box)…


    Mark Dublin

    1. I have to disagree with you here, Mark. Driverless technology is soon to reshape transportation and our communities.

      Your first point: that “driverless” is an evasion of responsibility – while I agree that the engineers of vehicles which cause damages and loss of life should hold responsibility, I think your point will be turned on its head when this rapidly advancing technology starts to reduce traffic fatalities, and then we will be turning to our hero engineers to heap thanks and praise upon them and their creations. This is inevitable given that the demand and technology exist to bring these vehicles to market and that they surely have the potential to prevent the vast majority of accidents attributable to “human error”. Safety will be the top priority of consumers and manufacturers, and no company will stand to have their cars to gain an unsafe reputation.

      Point 2: that this is a threat to safety and privacy – I addressed the safety issue, and would be willimg to bet that driverless carsjust five years from now will be far safer, even though I wholeheartedly agree with your opposition to drone warfare. These vehicles will be tested through millions of miles until they are safe. As for privacy, we have already sacrificed this through the patriot act and NSA surveillance and cell phones which can be tracked in so many ways it would make you want to smash yours if only you knew. And I doubt that your travel patterns documented by your ORCA taps have caused you any trouble.

      Third point: no benefit to transit – There are several benefits to transit, although I doubt it will change the fundamental nature of transit. More people will be able to access transit through automatic car shares – like driverless uber – which will be able to carpool multiple passengers, chauffeur children, disabled, amd elderly people who wouldnt be able to drive or walk to a transit stop, becoming the ultimate last-mile transit solution. Driverless busses will enable more service hours and automatic trains will be able to travel the spine from Tacoma to Everett without driver relief. Road congestion may increase, though, as it becomes convenient for more people to go places without the effort of driving.

      Fourth point: that companies are motivated to cut drivers from their payrolls – This may sting, Mark, but eliminating drivers from the workforce will be good in the long run. It may hurt you and the Uber drivers who make a living by driving, but within 2 decades most human labor will be automated, and the consequence will not be mass poverty from unemployment, but rather greater access to goods and services by all people. Unemployment may cause a huge shift in the nature of our economy, but we will adapt and grow stronger as a society, just as we have from past technological revolutions.

      Fifth point: that this is being pushed by greedy companies with no experience – This is being pushed by all sorts of companies, from inexperienced Uber, to internet overlord Google, to American pioneer Ford, some with more experience than others. All are motivated by profit, but profit is impossible without consumers, and consumers would not indulge in something that they didn’t want. And maybe many people don’t want automatic cars, but at least among my generation (millenials), we are incredibly excited for the coming age of driverless vehicles.

      If you don’t like this change, you can voice your opinion in the new form of techno-protest by blocking the streets as automatic cars patiently stop for your obstruction and their passengers shout age-disparaging insults from the windows.

      Good luck, Mark

      1. Driverless vehicles are already here. Driverless trains and driverless cable-pulled systems have been around for years. Driverless transportation vehicles are not unique or new.

        What’s more recent? The technology is now refining at how to operate in a mixed environment and its related issues of safety and security. Low-speed transit driverless vehicles are already in various stages of testing and some have begun normal operations in several countries. You aren’t going to freeze the clock. I imagine that some setbacks will appear as more systems evolve, but the overall direction is that it’s going to happen and transit advocates need to embrace it.

        There was a time when people did not want automatic crossing gates. Drawbridges used to have staff that closed the bridge manually. Elevators used to have an operator on board at every station. Nowadays, we would see manually doing these things are silly.

        Liability will rest with manufacturers and owners. That is not going to be a big issue.

        I can’t wait to have a more frequent driverless neighborhood bus drive me to Link rather than wait 30 minutes for a bus with a driver. Maybe I’ll even have a driverless car that will drive me to the station then go back to my home garage empty. It’s easily possible by the time Lynnwood Link and East Link opens in 2023.

      2. Mike, I can go you one better about dangers and their perception around untried technical equipment. There’s a wonderful PBS documentary called “Horatio’s Drive”- also book- which begins with great depictions of the way society looked at these wheeled demons from Hell.

        A joke now, but at that time very real danger: Cars terrified horses. Since these were the world’s main vehicle engines, there were a lot of them. Killing many more people than today’s cars and trucks. The ones that pulled freight wagons were huge.

        Horses frighten easily. And go beyond control when scared. So it wasn’t completely harebrained to write local laws that any motorist seeing a horse approaching had to dismantle the car and bury the pieces.

        So you’ve got an excellent historic example of a technical change at first resisted, and then increasingly welcomed. Starting much cheaper street cleaning. But both contemporary newspapers and cartoons affirmed the conflict between old guys with striped suits and tight white collars, or overalls on wagons with straw in their mouths, and whatever they called college kids born in 1900.

        I think girls were “flappers”. And boys wore huge raccoon coats. And they all loved cars. Oh, and old people (accurately) thought cars facilitated sex. As if wagons full of hay didn’t. Don’t have proportional stats on which mode killed more people. But one automated car alternative to consider: a horse could reliably get a drunk owner home.

        And real percentage of human-driver-cause accidents is unknown, because no way to count how many accidents got avoided by eons of human reflexes suddenly coming to bear.

        Real thing is and I, can’t tell if it’s direct experience or family roots, I always resist the “hard sell.” Or the claim I have to accept something that’s “just going to happen, and I can’t do anything about it.”

        Tend to watch for proof it’s indeed happening, and if necessary, let its proponents see what I can do about it.

        But good comeback to me on Uber and its robot replacements and every other score: Mark, don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it. Though same goes for driving sixty foot buses. And being old. Overwhelming undeserved respect, especially from the police.

        And also, be careful about generation-labeling yourself. One Presidential candidate and her cohorts still think their generation is the personification of “youth”. An attitude largely responsible for the success of the one whose real hair color, if, like his money, we’ve never seen. But as to protesting automatic cars…Facebook and Twitter good practice for resistance by ignoring.


        But Time’s vengeance on both of them: Their generation produced this country’s oldest would-be Presidents.

    2. In the first place, the term “Driverless” is the same order of lie as “Automated Weapon.” An evasion of responsibility for consequences. Any damage done by a computer is the fault of whatever human gave it its last instruction.

      As is often the case, I’m not entirely sure what your saying here. Obviously, a legal framework for liability will have to be worked out, through law and the courts, and there are legitimate questions about what the most reasonable way to do that is. (It’s not like our current system of distributing liability approximates some sort of platonic ideal of fairness, but we muddle through.) But this is the kind of dilemma new technology always creates. Our tort system is set up pretty well to muddle through these kinds of challenges. This is certainly worth talking about, but there’s no reason to think it’ll substantially impede the arrival of the technology.

      There also seems to be a suggestion here, and again I could be misreading you, that driverless cars will introduce a new and unprecedented danger. This is a very strange argument. I don’t claim to speak with any certainty about what to expect from this technology, or when to expect it, but a couple of things seem pretty clear to me: first, that “clearly safer than human drivers” is a bar the technology will need to clear before it goes live, and second, that that particular bar isn’t really all that high. Humans are terrible–it’s not like they need to design a computer that can beat Kasparov, they need to design a computer that can beat any old schlub who knows how the pieces are supposed to move. Every year, Americans massacre each other by the tens of thousands because we can’t be bothered to stay sober, follow the speed limit, or refrain from driving when distracted, angry, tired, or otherwise unable to concentrate as much as we should. The task is sufficiently dangerous as to demand our utmost attention and focus but because we do it for several hours a day we think it’s just an ordinary thing. I’m worried a great deal about the impact of driverless cars on jobs, and uncertain about various other social, economic, and environmental impacts, but taking these loaded guns humans are absurdly and routinely so careless with out of our hands is likely to be a huge boon to human safety. We’re not built or designed to pilot these killing machines, and the sooner we can get out of that business the better.

    3. I have been very skeptical of doubted automated cars (or computer driven cars if you will) as well. If you can’t build a robot to empty the dishwasher (something any 8 year old can do) how can they build a computer to drive a car (something a 16 year old struggles with)? Except that it is obvious that they are making progress, and when I was told how they did it, it makes sense. In short, it is all about the data (which explains why Google got into it). But don’t worry about the technical details for a second, and just look at the results. Already these things have a better track record than a 16 year old driver, and they will only get better. My guess is that an insurance company would — right now — give you a better rate if a computer drove your car than if 16 year old Bobby Joe was driving (especially if it was a Camaro). This doesn’t mean the computer is infallible, just that it is already better than many (if not most) drivers on the road.

      But people have a hard time accepting computer failure instead of human failure. It is quite likely that a completely automated plane would have less of a chance of crashing than one with pilots. But people want pilots, so most of the time, the pilots just sit there (and hopefully don’t screw things up, as has happened far too many times). This means it will take a while before we get full acceptance, and as a result, my guess is that many people will die. But those things are counter-intuitive. Like killing off cougars increases human deaths. It doesn’t seem to make sense (after all, cougars kill a few people each year) but way more people are killed running into deer. Less cougars, more deer, more people killed.

      But eventually I do believe it will happen, and happen fairly soon (I would bet on it happening in the next ten years). Truck companies will be one of the first to have them, followed quickly by public transit. That, in my opinion, will be biggest change to public transit to occur in a very long time. Lower the cost of labor (to near zero) and suddenly running buses is a lot cheaper. Running smaller buses — vans even — start making sense. It doesn’t sound crazy to me to basically run every route every five minutes. Big buses on the more popular routes, small buses on the less popular ones. Even cities like Seattle (which struggle making a grid) do so because transfers are painless.

      Or maybe for the less popular routes you apply another bit of computer expertise — instant car pooling. Get on your phone, or press a button at the stop, and a van comes up, with three people already in it and takes you to your destination. This might be where you wanted to go, or it might just be a stop next to a fixed route line (bus or train).

      All that being said, I think having a lane for automated vehicles on the freeway is a stupid idea. I don’t get the point of that. You don’t really need to encourage this technology — folks are working on it right now. Private cab companies (Uber) as well as truck companies are drooling over the idea. It isn’t like electric cars. Automated cars don’t need any help, they will be here soon if we let them.

      1. The push towards driverless cars has a number of fantasy elements that set my teeth on edge:
        1) – what are these clowns thinking?
        2) How are manufacturers going to limit their liabilities? By programming cars to operate at the most conservative possible driving patterns and blocking the cars from going anywhere the least bit tricky.
        3) How does this play out in rural areas? How does my driverless car negotiate the back roads of Owens Valley or Hart Mountain?

      2. 1) This proposal comes far too soon. I can see in perhaps a decade restricting a single lane for driverless vehicles, which will increase capacity as these vehicles can maintain much lower following distances safely. Only when the dangers of human driving at high speeds becomes absolutely intolerable will an entire highway ban human drivers, which will be at least 20 years from now. The proposal is premature, but it is about both safety and highway capacity.

        2) Manufacturers will limit their liabilities by making the vehicles smarter and safer. With a proven track record of safety, they may get a legal exemption for cases where accidents are unavoidable (like deer jumping right in front of the vehicle’s path). But it will surely be hard to prosecute a company whose cars are 800% safer than an average human driver.

        3) Driverless cars will be just as capable in rural areas as humans, with sensors and cameras to detect poorly marked roads. I’m not sure why you think this will be a problem, but you can alleviate your fears in 4 years by test riding a driverless uber in your rural neighborhood.

      3. @Nolan

        1) Yeah, giving a lane to computer driver cars seems stupid. I honestly don’t know the point of that.

        2) Yes, it is possible (It has happened before) that cars will simply stop, if they encounter something they don’t understand. But this, like accidents,will decrease over time. I also think that for trucks, the first generation will also be loaded with remote control operations. So if a truck freaks out and comes to a stop (because of, say, construction) than a remote control operator will take over. Not that different than a student driver, for example (the instructor may take over when things get rough). With a fleet of trucks, this scales really well (dozens of trucks being managed by a handful of operators, most of whom are as bored as your average pilot). It is similar to automated check out at the grocery stores — there are still people there, just a lot less of them.

        3) I believe they are just as capable in rural areas as they are in the city. Again, they aren’t perfect, but there is no fundamental problem they can’t overcome.

      4. Driverless cars are going to have a difficult time in rural areas for reasons that have nothing to do with the underlying driverless car technology. A driverless Uber service out in rural areas simply would not work like it does in the city. In the city, you press a button and your ride shows up in 2 minutes. In rural areas, fewer cars covering a larger area means you might have to wait 15, 20, or even 30 minutes for your ride to show up, and once it arrives, fares would have to be much higher to cover the cost of driving the 5, 10, or 15 miles empty that it takes to get the vehicle to the pick-up point. Between the higher costs and worse convenience, people who live in rural areas will not give up their personal cars for services like these, the way city-dwellers might – it just wouldn’t make sense. And, once you accept a choice for rural areas between privately-owned robot-driven cars and privately-owned human-driven cars, the privately-owned human driven cars are going to be cheaper, since the vast array of sensors necessary for autonomous operation will not need to be purchased, inspected, repaired, or maintained. And, with most rural folks not exactly swimming in cash, the cheaper price of human-driven cars is going to be king.

        At best, I can imagine a service where someone living in a rural area might be able to summon a driverless Uber from the nearest city (with a 30-60 minute advance booking and a large out-of-area fee) – perhaps to go to the airport, or, perhaps, as an emergency option for when one’s private car is broken. Or maybe, a non-car-owning city dweller might use a service like this once a year to visit Grandma in her country house. But I find it hard to see driverless cars in rural areas having the mass-market appeal of driverless cars in cities.

    4. I think the core benefit of driverless cars from an urbanist standpoint would be the potential for a reduced demand for parking. Theoretically, without private vehicle ownership, and with driverless cars, there’d be no need to store cars temporarily, and that space could be reallocated to housing and other development. And I’m sure you agree that urban parking is a big problem…especially when you consider its effects on affordability and livability.

      Of course, this assumes that people will fully buy into mobility as a service (MaaS). Which I think may be true for people who already live downtown or in urban districts. But those aren’t the people that would need to be convinced for driverless cars and MaaS to work.

      1. That seems like just replacing one problem with another. Instead of parking, you have cars circling around and creating congestion. The limits to taxi-cabs were originally put into place for the same reason (they didn’t want too many cabs slowly cruising downtown, waiting to be flagged down). Of course, more cabs might mean fewer personally owned cars, but in general, it seems to move in the other direction (mass transit gets really good, then more people take cabs).

        I still see computer driven buses as the great breakthrough. When I ask people why they drive instead of taking a bus somewhere, the first thing they say is usually “I have to make a transfer” as in, it takes too long, once you make a transfer. Consider a trip from Northgate to Georgetown during morning rush hour. If you take transit, the first part of your trip is great. You get downtown much faster on the 41 than you would driving. The 41 goes through downtown fairly well, too (in the bus tunnel). But once you try and make that transfer, you have lost all that you gained and then some. A ten minute wait is still a ten minute wait, Combine that with delays that are inevitable (each stop takes some time) and it is no wonder so many people drive.

        But run buses/van every five minutes and you have completely changed the equation. Of course it costs a bit more, but not nearly as much as it does now. Instead of running a bus every half hour, you run a van every five minutes. You pay extra (buying and maintaining six vehicles instead of one, along with the extra gas) but not a huge amount extra (smaller vehicles are easier to maintain and use less gas). Meanwhile, fare recovery shoots up substantially. Not only do more trips make sense, but you have the convenience of a car, in that you never have to time your trip.

    5. I’m of two minds about this.

      As a pedestrian and normally car-less, I notice that when I do drive my once/year, I approach it with a certain amount of trepidation, but then am careful as it is both a treat for me to do and its not so routine. In a sense, I’m a better driver as I am attentive, but a worse driver as I’m less experienced.

      I wonder if this driving tool (and it currently is a tool as you are expected to have both hands on the wheel) will run in parallel and have similar fallouts to automatic transmission. Especially when it comes to driving skills expected. At 54, I was at the forefront of people who could skirt having to learn to manually shift a car. Twenty years I still got the eyeroll that I couldn’t; now a manual car is a theft deterrent.

      My two minds are: Great, now the computer can eliminate the rotten drivers, as they are not expected to drive. Or Ugh, all the reasonable drivers turn into rotten drivers (and rotten turn super rotten) because they don’t have any skills when the computer gives them the wheel back.

      1. The fastest ferries go over 60 MPH. Of course you can’t average that speed, and you have to board and alight. But still, at that speed a ferry to Tacoma would be faster than Sounder and much faster than Link.

        But we do have regulations in place that limit speeds in certain areas. The Victoria Clipper cruises at 35 MPH, so I see no reason why a boat from Tacoma can’t do that. It is less than 30 miles to Seattle by sea, so a boat like that would probably make the trip in roughly an hour, or the same as Sounder. Fewer stops along the way, though (no connections to Kent, etc.).

      2. The fuel consumption/carbon footprint for such a ferry relative to the larger WSF ferries makes such service questionable.

        Aside from the erosion issues in Rich Passage the fuel cost was a major reason the old passenger only ferries were dropped by WSF, it was always hugely expensive. While Rich Passage I is an efficient vessel for it’s size, the big displacement hull ferries are really really efficient on a per-passenger basis.

    1. +! and very “pro” for more/better passenger boats.

      I continue to be amazed/frustrated that this region –with it’s geography (and population centers) contorted between & surrounded by water– hasn’t been able to figure out passenger vessels.

      Yep, I know the costs and shortcomings of boats –all too well ! I’m 30+ years into a career running various small and medium-sized vessels.(passenger, educational, research, etc.) Boats are expensive and complex and can sink!


      I also know that in many of the ports I visit (S.F., Boston, N.Y.C., etc) there are LOTS of successful (municipal and private) passenger-shuttle vessel operations. Check out how many people commute by boat in Boston –year-round– sometime. It’s impressive.

      Great to hear Kitsap County is pursuing it on the ballot– let’s hope it passes that’s just the beginning. wouldn’t it be great to get Pierce, Island, and Jefferson Counties involved as well? I remember 20+ years ago when the Victoria Clipper would stop into Port Townsend on the way to/from Victoria — it was great !

      And in the fresh water too!

      Whatever happened to King County Metro’s study to get boats running on Lake Washington? with the Stadium Station now open that seems like a no-brainer: By water, Kirkland to that station is less than 5 miles. You don’t even need a very fast boat and you can beat any land-based kirkland–>UW commute….

      And even in Lake Union! Go spend some time in Baltimore and you can’t miss the fleet of small passenger boats connecting points around the harbor. In fact, the size, shape distances they serve (between Fell’s Point, S. Clinton, Ft McHenry, and the Inner Harbor) is roughly analogous what could be service from South Lake Union to UW, Gasworks, and Fremont.

      just sayin’….

  2. Yeah, and the Highway Patrol too. Read your history. Freedom in America has always meant the right to violate somebody else’s.

    Mark and One Candidate’s Only Convincing Argument.

  3. Since this is an open thread, this is an opportunity to ask a question I’ve been wondering about since my latest visit to Seattle–why do King County buses change routes? I got on a 21 in Sodo which changed into a 5 at 4th and Jackson. It was very confusing because I thought I had to change buses to continue on the 5, but of course I didn’t. I’ve noticed this on other bus routes in Seattle as well.

    1. Having a single route end-to-end would create expectations that Metro retain that connection. In practice, Metro makes and breaks these links at will to balance demands as routes and service levels change.

      1. Hm. Figured it was probably something like that, but they could make it clearer. Unless I missed it, there were no announcements and the schedule made it seem like the 21 I was on was terminating at 4th and Jackson.

      2. Metro has gradually been making it clearer. If you look up at the next-stop signs, they change to the other route number just before downtown. So the 131/132 turn into the 26/28 around Intl Dist, and the 75 turns into the 31/32 in Laurelhurst; in both cases before the nominal changeover at Pine Street or Campus Parkway. Most routes start downtown and only promise to serve one side of the city. In the 1980s there were several more routes that went through downtown without changing number: 1 (36), 7 (49), 13 (12), 14 (47); and the 43 (44) in the U-District. The suburbs had super-long milk runs like downtown to Federal Way, downtown to Auburn, and downtown to North Bend. These were all split to improve reliability and to balance frequency on the two sides. So the 1 used to go from Kinnear to Beacon Hill (now 1 and 36), but now it goes from Kinnear to Mt Baker (1 and 14), and Beacon Hill is more frequent than Kinnear and has articulated buses. Having different numbers avoids making long-term promises that two different transit markets will always be the same route. Not many people are going from Highland Park or 4th Ave S to Fremont or 8th Ave NW: the through-routing isn’t for them but to save on the number of buses and drivers and layover time. But a few people do sometimes go from 4th Ave S to 8th Ave W, and it’s convenient for them when the through-route exists.

    2. Metro through-routes some buses because it is a more efficient use of resources. Since the agency’s currency is platform hours, you ideally want the buses to spend as many platform hours as possible in-service. Through-routing allows more time in-service by reducing deadheading and layover time. As an example, RapidRide C & D used to be through-routed, but were split recently at significant cost (~54,000 annual service hours) to improve reliability and allow for extensions to Pioneer Square (D) and South Lake Union (C).

    3. I think it’s to allow for flexibility in scheduling. Per the schedule, most Route 5 trips do continue on as Route 21 trips, but there are several trips in the evening that do not. Furthermore, using two separate route numbers probably makes it a bit easier to change the frequency on just Route 5 or Route 21 as ridership warrants, rather than needing to change both of them in lockstep.

    4. some routes, such as the 75, splits into / is formed from multiple routes (in that case the 31/32)

      and some routes like the EB/NB 2 terminate downtown, some become the 13 and some remain the 2 … you learn to ask the driver when boarding if you’re unfamiliar with which becomes what

    5. The 2, 3, and 4 are the only ones that still go through downtown without changing number. With the 2 now being schizophrenic (which I forgot) it may be nearing the end of its days as a single number. The 3/4 north part are about to be consolidated to a place that’s closer to the 4’s terminal, and the south part Metro has repeatedly proposed consolidating into the 3. So that could lead to a 4 Queen Anne and 3 Madrona someday.

      1. Actually the 3N/4N will be moving to SPU, which is near the current 3 terminal. That proximity and the fact that the 13 already serves SPU on 3rd Avenue West makes me think the 3 will survive on the north side of that route.

        Incidentally, the road surface of 3rd Ave W is already pretty bad in sections. Doubling the bus frequency is going to destroy it in short order. SDOT seems to be ignoring basic maintenance on bus corridors all over the city. In Ballard, Market is terrible and Leary has some moon-like craters.

      2. Oops, I got the terminals reversed. So that would make it logical to renumber everything as 3. But there may be a feeling that the number 4 “belongs” to Queen Anne since it’s used for the night/Sunday route. And since Metro has been splitting route numbers everywhere else, it would probably want one side to be 4 and the other 3.

  4. Seattle now has the 5th lowest drive-alone rate in the US, behind NYC, SF, DC, and Boston. We are unlikely to pass those cities anytime soon, but 5th is still impressive.

    It would be interesting to see the same data but by car ownership %. I feel like a lot of Seattle residents own cars but don’t drive to work. That would also help explain why we have such bad traffic on weekends.

    1. Really interesting observation. I too would love to see that data. I wonder how much his due to the abundance of single family neighborhoods where parking is available, and how much is due to our proximity to mountains, islands, etc. and a culture that values those things?

      1. I wonder how much his due to the abundance of single family neighborhoods where parking is available, and how much is due to our proximity to mountains, islands, etc. and a culture that values those things?

        There’s another factor too, I think, which is that while Seattle looks very good on other-than-car use for commuting, it looks a lot more like a car-centric Western city for all trips other than commuting. People who find it convenient to not drive to work often still drive for a variety of other everyday tasks.

      2. >> I wonder how much of it is all those new tech workers.

        I’m sure a lot of it is. Tech workers tend to be younger, and spend the day sitting at a desk. The idea of walking to work — even a half hour walk — appeals to a lot of folks like that. Plus the rise of both housing and employment in north downtown (Belltown to South Lake Union and everything in between) must play a big factor. That is a lot more trips that are not only short, but unlike the south end of downtown, fairly level.

    2. I was tempted to make that point too, but was unable to find the underlying data to verify that there weren’t other cities with a lower rate.

      I didn’t try that hard.

    3. I would assume that car ownership is going down at a similar rate as driving alone. Transit is holding steady, while biking to work is increasing, and walking to work took a huge jump. Even though there are more jobs scattered in various neighborhoods, my guess is that the big jump is due to more downtown housing. I assume a lot of the folks who live downtown don’t own a car.

      1. Yeah, I think if you adjust for income, Seattle is doing really well. Incomes are going way up, while car ownership is slowly going down.

  5. The Shoreline Rezoning link talks about what will happen tonight (several nights ago). Presumably the rezone passed?

  6. Guys,

    Sadly we’re going to have competing public media streams this afternoon. for the 1 PM (1300 Hours) Public Disclosure Commission “ST3, PDC Case No 7823, received citizen action notice alleging violations of RCW 42.17A and RCW 42.56 by Sound Transit by inadvertently disclosing exempt ORCA card holder email addresses which were used in support of the Sound Transit 3 ballot measure.”

    I’ve sent in comments asking the PDC to drop this matter. I concluded with this thought cloud, “Ultimately, I’m upset individually identifying ORCA Card data against US Constitutional and RCW provisions was ever available to public disclosure to anyone. But this ORCA Card holder does not want the help of the PDC. PDC, please stand down. Thanks.” Hopefully the PDC is not going to carry the water for Conner Edwards (& all the anti-ST3 folks).

    Say a prayer for your Mass Transit Now team and for Sound Transit HQ. Conner is just a bully with a vendetta.

    Then there’s starting after 1:30 PM. Sound Transit Board Meeting. Say a prayer for your Sound Transit Board….

    1. You can mention it but their math, numbers, and conclusions are false. It’s a hit piece that makes up numbers to fit a narrative. Less than 30k riders for all of ST3? That’s a number I’ve never seen and U-Link which was 2 stops added that many per day alone.

      1. I think the number was new transit riders, not new Link riders. The idea being that a lot of people just switch from a bus ride to a train ride, or they pick up their train ride in a different spot. I don’t think this is a very important number, frankly, but better than just listing overall ridership. Rider time savings (time saved per trip multiplied by the number of trips) is better, but even it tends to favor distant suburban investments, instead of inner city ones. I have no idea how Link performs by that measure.

      2. The other day, I got an email asking me to vote for ST3, telling me about how much faster rail will be from Lynnwood to Downtown Seattle. Of course, that’s going to occur because of ST2!

        Doing this in the marketing effort has actually made me more suspicious of ST3 benefits.

      3. “Less than 30k riders for all of ST3”.

        This is one of those “truthy” numbers. It’s extrapolated from the 2040 transit ridership forecasts with and without ST3 which ‘showed’ 63K or so additional riders with ST3. As I wrote a few weeks ago, the benchmark for ST3 is a not-terribly realistic world where we have high-functioning HOT lanes, road-user charges etc. Basically, the entire wishlist of every agency. Against what we’re actually likely to see with no more ST expansion after ST2, we will see much better incremental numbers than that.

        Then they take those numbers and multiply by 45%, converting riders to unique individuals (because riders use transit 2.2 times a day). They label the adjusted number as “riders” because it makes for a better soundbite.

        Then present the final tiny number without context. Or any recognition that there are other benefits to ‘existing’ riders.

    2. Is it really worth mentioning an article that can’t even spell the name of the venue correctly?

      “At the Seattle bar and music venue Neamos last Tuesday…”

    3. “The objective of this staggering new investment is to cut down on highway congestion”

      And then if you follow the link it says:

      “Proposition 1 provides workers with an alternative to rush hour congestion.”

      I mean, it’s Reason, so acting in bad faith is par for the course, but this is particularly egregious.

      1. News flash, right-wing magazine doesn’t think ST3 is cost-effective and probably doesn’t think much of high-capacity transit anyway.

        With apologies to the center-right Joes out there.

    4. It is actually true people aren’t using it. Because it hasn’t been built yet. We’ve been dealing with anti-transit pretend transit supporters for years who have been repeatedly saying U-Link didn’t meet ridership promises, er, projections, until it actually opened for service.

      On the ridership projection front, it’s all gone quiet over there.

    5. I found the article reasonably accurate but biased in presentation, which seems to be an artform this election cycle.
      From ST3 documents:
      Table 4: New Transit Trips with ST3, over ST2 will average 64,000 counting bus and rail. So for argument sake, that’s about 32,000 people, at 2 trips per day.
      Compare that to the expected 800,000 people moving here by 2040 and you get 4% will be using transit that do not today, or nearly identical to what today is.
      The article divides those same 32,000 people using transit into the extra $54,000,000,000 and gets you to over a million spent to convince each newcomer to take transit( $1,687,500 per new daily rider per day)..
      That’s a fair question to ask, and may be biased, but hardly a ‘hit piece’.
      Should 96% of the people give $1.7 mil to each of those who will switch to transit?
      What of the travel time savings? Next page down the ST3 report shows an average of 59,000 hours per day saved, across 727,000 daily transit trips, or 4.8 minutes per trip. I would hope that includes the transfer time penalty, but don’t know that for a fact.
      The simple question for voters will be twofold. Is this the best we can do, and is it worth my investment to vote Yes?

      1. New Transit Trips with ST3, over ST2 will average 64,000 []

        Compare that to the expected 800,000 people moving here by 2040 and you get 4% will be using transit that do not today, or nearly identical to what today is.”

        That is not at all what it says. But it’s what WPC/Reason would like you to think it says.

        The forecasts, either with ST3 or in the ‘baseline’, are for several hundred thousand more transit riders than today. The 64,000 added riders only come into play when comparing 2040 alternatives.

        The point of the biased presentation is to present numbers that are technically accurate to a very well informed reader, and quite deceptive to anybody else. If they are able to slide the deception past mic whose b.s. detector is well-tuned, then mission accomplished.

      2. Comparing today to ST3 is not the point. ST2 is being built and is a given. The comparison is ‘how many MORE riders do you get for the additional $54b being asked for, with or without ST3’
        I think the fact that mode shift (those using transit) stays pretty much flat regardless of ST3 being built is pretty discouraging.
        What the article fails to point out is that travel for the masses will get even worse and more expensive with regional tolling in place, and that travel times for most will get progressively worse. That’s the sales pitch for ST3, or should be, and it’s honest.
        Touting massive shifts from cars to transit is not what the numbers show to be true.

    6. What’s missing from the article? “97% of the one million new residents expected in 2040 will likely not be using Sound Transit’s costly services, meaning Sound Transit officials do not meet the demand for mobility they themselves anticipate.” So what will those 97% be doing? Reason doesn’t seem to be concerned that they might be driving in SOVs and straining our road capacity. Reason would probably describe that as the freedom to drive and the American Dream. But, doesn’t Reason care even one bit about getting some of them out of their cars? If it did, then after bashing ST3 it would immediately propose a realistic alternative.

      1. Reason’s solution is for the powerful government to use eminent domain to condemn extensive private property, tear down private housing stock and prosperous small businesses, wipe land devoted to commerce off the map and instead devote ever more private land to public property as free government owned roads.

        Interesting how the most transit oriented cities in the world are the most prosperous, innovative and successful places. There is a direct correlation between the size, scale, and usage of the transit system and how much of a financial hub the city is.

  7. As awesome as the troll was, it missed the opportunity to show how truly expensive the Seattle Times is.

    The full Seattle Times annual subscription rate is actually $452.40, and the rate cited in Seattle Subway’s meme is the newspaper’s promotional price. Assuming the median household is just a couple adults, the regular Times subscription costs over $100 more than the taxes for ST3.

    I pay taxes for lots of programs I find morally repugnant. I can’t think of anything morally reprehensible Sound Transit does, unless you think eminent domain and taxation are in and of themselves a sin. And unlike the billions in new highways on which we won’t get to vote, the carbon footprint is negative. The whole planet will enjoy positive externalities. ST3 is a rare opportunity to do massive good for the many.

    On the climate change front, my faith in humanity is being restored as group after group overlooks whatever distaste they have for the messenger and his gaffes, and are endorsing I-732. Because climate action can’t wait for bogus, nonexistent alternative plans. (Sadly, the campaign’s understaffed endorsements page is woefully incomplete, but quite a few Democrat groups have voted to endorse.)

    1. Actually, I pay $75 every three months because I got a pretty good discount at a street fair, so that’s $300 a year — twice as much as the ST3 figure.

  8. I was looking at the latest schedule for route # 62 and saw something I did not see on the previous schedule for that route or route # 30 prior to that.

    On the last stop at NOAA at Building 1 next to the time is the letter B and when you look to see what that means it says the following:

    B – Only passengers with official business at NOAA are permitted to ride onto the NOAA Campus. A security guard at the gate will board and check passengers IDs. Anyone without proper ID will be asked to disembark at the gate.

    I wonder if this is being done for heighten security purposes at the NOAA facility.

    1. The 30 and earlier the 74 and 75 have done that since the 1990s, I think after the Oklahoma City bombing.

      1. I have never seen it noted on either the 30 and 74 schedules before. I have not seen the 75 enter the NOAA grounds as it seems that it has always stayed on Sand Point Way.

      2. Somebody told me that when the 75 was first extended to Lake City it went into NOAA (its previous terminus?) and back out again. When the ID restrictions were put into place through passengers would have to get off the bus and wait for it to come out and get back on it. That was such a hassle that the 75 switched to staying on Sand Point Way. The 30 long had the ID check, and almost every day there was somebody who didn’t know where it was going and ended up being turned back at the gate, and have to walk back up to the road and wait for the half-hourly 75. (Sometimes they were trying to get to Lake City and assumed the bus would continue north, other times they were trying to get to the U District or downtown and were going the wrong direction, and other times they didn’t seem to be going anywhere in particular.)

  9. I called and unsubscribed from the Seattle Times today. Thanks for reminding me! I am so sick of seeing article after article attacking Sound Transit and light rail every day.

  10. I went to the League of Women Voters Seattle Debate on ST3 this Tuesday and thought it was a decent debate. Though it hasn’t convinced me I should switch my vote to no.
    I though the pro side did a decent job producing evidence for why we should do this and countered the con side pretty well for the most part.
    The con side was just in my humble opinion, embarrassing. Started out decently, but it went downhill pretty fast. Falling into a lot of the same shtick like some of the con debaters have been falling into at these debates. Throwing out random facts and outlandish claims (like comparing our Link stations to Taj Mahals) to see what will stick, it felt like they were throwing darts at a dartboard and saying whatever it landed on and see if it will resonate with the crowd.
    It hit a point of where I didn’t really care about whatever else they had to say and got a bit angru inside after hearing their response to an alternate transit plan. When pressed about if they had an alternative proposal to ST3, they more or less balked at such a notion and told everyone that it wasn’t their job to propose such things. That made me lose any semblance of respect(what little I had) for them.
    If you’re going to claim yourselves as People for “Smarter” Transit, then you better be backing up your side with a plan of your own, no if and or buts about it.

    1. The Con side would have been better if they just said “No Ballard-UW, No Peace”, dropped the mic and left the room.

      And playing up freeway BRT and commuter buses? That may play well in Lynwood or Auburn but in central Seattle it seemed kind of tone deaf.

      I also liked how the Con side extolled the virtues of flexible buses but then berated Metro for severely cutting the 43 when U-Link opened.

      Instead of talking about how few people ride MARTA, they should have been talking about how worthless it is on weekends because of maintenance. It has been that way for over a decade now. I would love to know if that is what we have to look forward to.

      I went in as a soft yes on ST3. I am a much stronger yes now. I still don’t like the plan but I don’t think a plan I would like is going to be an option. From talking to people around me I am less optimistic that it is going to pass.

  11. Today I was heading up to Northgate on the 67 and the driver announced that the bus was getting re-routed to University Way “due to congestion.” Is this common? I feel bad for those on the 11th Ave who might have been waiting for 67…

  12. It’s worth noting that the “article” on move in fees was written by the landlord lobby. But it was touching to learn that they are mostly concerned about the harms that might come to struggling, disadvantaged tenants, who they will allow the privilege of getting to live somewhere by coming up with several months rent up front. Sure, that’s the easy part, right? :) God forbid the playing field gets leveled a bit and tenants obtain some rights enshrined in law!

    1. I entirely agree.

      Charging a move in fee of a months rent, demanding the last month in advance, and then demanding a security deposit worth a month rent is ridiculous. Never mind that they never give the security deposit back. Where do people get 3 months rent in advance?

      Without an ability to mitigate the risk of renting to an underqualified applicant by asking for a larger deposit, independent landlords will simply no longer offer underqualified applicants housing opportunities

      How can they write that with a straight face? Only the most qualified applicant have that upfront cash at all

      1. And it looks like even that case, which would likely be relatively uncommon, is already covered. From the central staff memo:

        One additional issues has been raised that may not require changes to the bill. There may be
        situations where a tenant would like the ability to negotiate paying a higher security deposit to
        obtain housing. For example, a tenant with a poor credit history may want to negotiate
        payment of a higher security deposit if a landlord would otherwise deny their application due to their credit score. There are existing provisions in Section 7.24.100 that would allow a landlord
        and tenant to agree to waive any of the requirements of chapter 7.24 if:

         The agreement is in writing and identifies the specific provisions to be waived; and

         The agreement may not appear in a standard form written lease or rental agreement; and

         There is no substantial inequality in the bargaining position of the two parties; and

         The attorney for the tenant has approved in writing the agreement as complying
        with the provisions listed above.

        This process would ensure that if the limit on the amount a landlord can charge for a security
        deposit is waived, or any other provisions of Chapter 7.24, the tenant would have
        representation to try to help balance the bargaining positions.

    1. No laws were broken. It was a data processing error in good faith, and the PDC tossed the complaint yesterday. I’m sure you’re correct that opponents will continue to spin this however.

      1. I’m not really invested one way or the other, but it seems a pretty charitable interpretation to say no laws were broken. As I understand it, information was released that wasn’t supposed to be, and that is protected by law. The finding was that it was an honest mistake. “We broke the law by accident” seems like the fairest way to frame this, unless I’m missing something.

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