Metro Huskies shuttles on layover

This is an open thread.

118 Replies to “News Roundup: Genuine”

  1. Joe here. Just want to remind everybody the STB community does have a Flickr group – . Here’s the leader board:

    Top Contributors
    Rank Latest Photo Photos Topics Joined Group
    #1 Atomic Taco 1,434 1 8 years ago
    #2 Oran Viriyincy PRO 1,297 1 8 years ago
    #3 AvgeekJoe PRO 1,222 0 5 years ago
    #4 SD70MACMAN 1,180 0 7 years ago
    #5 Gordon Werner PRO 1,107 0 8 years ago

    Granted I’ve dumped into that group all the photos of transit meetings and now ST3 rallies I take. But I really like how we – adding SounderBruce – have six guys as part of a dedicated Puget Sound transit photo team.

    I’ll stop there.

    1. Ridership is at record highs, but financially the service is in bad shape.

      The water taxi’s levy was dropped during the depths of the recession to keep Metro afloat, and now it’s financial reserves are gone. In the budget Executive Constantine proposed to the County Council, the levy collection amount would be raised to restore funds. Now we wait and see if it makes it into the final budget.

      Here’s a good update with much more detail:

      1. Is there a water taxi lobby that I’m unaware of? Because NYC is similarly wasting tons of cash on East River Ferry service with questionable value. It’s great if you happen to live in LIC and work on Wall st – but those folks aren’t exactly the most in need of massive transit subsidies.

      2. First Ricky, then barman.

        Ricky, I saw the article. Just I’m very supportive of the ideal of a West Seattle Water Taxi. I mean being able to go across the Seattle harbor and take great pictures of the Seattle waterfront is priceless.

        Barman, I think until the requirements for the grants that paid for the new Water Taxi boats expire – King County’s either got to pay back that grant money or find a way to keep these water taxis going. Period.

  2. They really should put the Federal Way link station at the transit center. The transit center has the basic design of a link station, and closing the bus area of the transit center is much easier than other areas given that in the interim buses can serve the 320th street park and ride.

    1. Tell me, anybody familiar with Federal Way. Is the very large shopping mall beside the Transit Center really Downtown Federal Way? Or does such a place exist?

      And even worse: Did the shopping mall demand that the Transit Center be completely cut off from the mall, even though in effect the facility literally backs up against a line of buildings?

      And after all these years, the Transit Center does not even have the single coffee stand the old one always had.

      It would be absolutely ridiculous not to have the LINK platforms be as close as possible to the bus bays. But if Federal Way wants the regional transit the rest of the ST service area is paying for…

      Ball’s in Federal Way’s court. If they can’t rearrange a wasteful, if not downright hostile design, LINK can gain some time on its way to Tacoma.

      Given the years before design engineering even starts, should be plenty of time for the city to develop an attitude that even wants LINK, let alone deserves it.

      Mark Dublin

    2. Federal Way supposedly wants a big downtown like Bellevue has and Lynnwood aspires to. But I haven’t seen any concrete steps toward it. I hope Federal Way will rise to the occasion and have some walkable destinations between the station and the mall, and west of the transit center if it’s to remain as it is. But there’s a 50/50 chance it may or may not happen.

      1. Mike, I’ve started missing Federal Way City Councilwoman Mary Gates, whom I used to meet often at Metro Council meetings.

        I wish she were still here, both in politics and on Earth. But given the 50-50 chance that Federal Way will make the definite choice of actually turning into a city, let alone a transit stop, I suggest LINK incorporate the techniques of advanced engineering to serve both their goals and ours.

        We run our track directly over the Transit Center. And then build from track level downward, not only a station but an entire neighborhoods, caffe’s, restaurants, stores an all, on a lacy, bridge-like structure.

        With elevators directly between the LINK station and the bus platforms only. Thus creating our own Transit Oriented Development…that has no contact whatever with the ground inside the Federal Way City Limits.

        So, if Federal Way can’t, or doesn’t want to, be include LINK, we can’t be accused of forcing it on them. But with no time pressure, one way or the other. Elevators can be constructed downward at any time.

        Though we will have a credible threat that their cooperation will guarantee we don’t use the same elevator contractor we have now.

        Mark Dublin

      2. Hmm, we could call it “Federal Way Transit City”. With a sign on the outside doors, “Entering Federal Way”.

  3. Is any one else increasingly concerned about the possibility of ST3 failing? The opposition is super well organized. Down highway 99 at least to Federal Way, there are red signs in the median that read “Vote NO ST3 (next line) $53 Billion Tax (next line) No Regional Prop 1.” Not to mention that we are running against our own newspaper, in two counties where much smaller count-wide local transit measures failed, and one county where the local measure passed by razor-thin margins.

    1. For a campaign that pleads poverty, the No group has a lot of signs in my neighborhood too. Annoyingly, that includes one directly opposite my front door. :( Of course, Kirkland is a special case because a lot of the leadership lives in my neighborhood.

      The official No campaign is a disorganized mess. But they do appear to have tapped into some spare manpower. I suspect that’s local GOP picking up the slack.

      Do yard signs work? I’m uncomfortable that it’s so imbalanced out there, but I don’t know whether the political pros would think it matters.

      1. There should be YES yard signs… but where do you get them?

        Masstransitnow doesn’t seem to be providing yard signs, posters, bumper stickers, etc. They have a lot of money, but it seems like most of their presence is online, which is a mistake.

      2. Dan;

        E-mail me for details but I have it on good authority the King County GOP & WSRP are starting to step into this… (expletive referring to excretion deleted)!

        It’s apparent, bloody apparent we need to take this a little more… intensely. I know the guys at MassTransitNow HQ & Seattle Subway are. But the rest of us really need to secure the win.

        I’m going to drop my pro-ST3 letters to the editor right before postal votes drop. I’d love to see other regular commentators do the same.



      3. There should maybe be an alternate campain “We support our beloved local traffic congestion. Don’t give me an alternative.” Or maybe “Expand 405 to 20 lanes! We need a $100 billion transportation plan, not a measly $25 billion.”

      4. @Glenn: 405 BRT is not the right project to highlight. There are good parts to ST3 (or at least reasonable ones), but building Link to Issaquah and 405 BRT will not make any serious dent in traffic here (just look at their ridership numbers). Plus, the only way to ensure 405 BRT reliability north of 522 would require building another toll lane, so you’re still going to have to expand.

      5. I was attempting to come up with some sort of anti-ST3 slogan for the Kirkland neighborhoods that were described earlier that would wind up being something along the lines of promoting demolition of those very neighborhoods to get the required number of traffic lanes if there isn’t any transit improvements.

        Obviously getting the buses on dedicated lanes means expanding by one lane each direction, but that is peanuts compared to what it would take to relieve all traffic congestion on I-405.

      6. I’m told that the Yes campaign ran out of signs, but will be getting more soon and will be putting up signs elsewhere soon

    2. The measure could go either way. However there’s a baseline of 55% Yes support that will probably hold. It all depends on who shows up to vote and how strong the various factors are on people’s minds. The No signs in Des Moines aren’t that significant because that area was probably leaning No anyway. That’s the area that forced the alignment to I-5 because they didn’t want trains on 99 or density either: they wanted to keep the strip malls and car dealersips because they make the neighborhood better somehow and offer low-rent space for startup businesses. Never mind that it’s harder to get to those businesses, especially without a car (but everybody has a car so that doesn’t matter). It’s worth thinking about, what kind of measure would they have Yes signs for? It would be something very different, and probably not supporting the walkability/density goals we have. They (or at least south King County as a whole) also voted against Metro’s Prop 1 at a higher level than other subareas. It’s the irony of the US that working-class areas are often the most against major transit improvements. It has something to do with finally getting cars in the mid-century — getting the American Dream — and a misunderstanding of the cost and parking infrastructure vs transit. But we must fight against this anti-transit sentiment anyway because there are other people in those same working-class areas that want better transit and are suffering severely without it.

      So we don’t need to be concerned about No posters in traditional No areas, just like we don’t need to be concerned about local Democratic posters in Seattle and local Republican posters in Bellevue; that was always going to happen. What we should be more concerned about is if there are No posters in unexpected places… such as outside RossB’s house and by that influence his neighbors’ houses, or in Ballard or West Seattle, etc.

      1. Mike;

        Great comment. Best part worth learning from:

        It’s the irony of the US that working-class areas are often the most against major transit improvements. It has something to do with finally getting cars in the mid-century — getting the American Dream — and a misunderstanding of the cost and parking infrastructure vs transit. But we must fight against this anti-transit sentiment anyway because there are other people in those same working-class areas that want better transit and are suffering severely without it.

        I’m not worried about RossB. RossB does more damage down here in the comment threads dampening enthusiasm than Todd E Herman who has at least 75% of listeners inclined to vote NO on Regional Prop 1 anyway. I also think RossB would have been a great Sound Transit Boardmember.

    3. I think the fundamentals strongly indicate that ST3 will pass. But by the same token, if it fails in 2016 I don’t see a good reason something big would pass before major demographic change occurs, probably 2024 or later.

      1. I think having a second-round vote in 2020 with improvements has a reasonable shot if ST3 fails. One of the conspiracies of the opposition is that ST wanted a vote now because of problems with their construction procedures that would materialize later (yeah, seriously). Four more years of good operations and construction would help, and if they could manage to expedite Northgate Link’s opening to 2020, that would be good PR for the vote.

        As far as differences in the contents, they could take a wrecking ball to that $54 billion figure by removing Issaquah and Kirkland Link. I wonder if they could publicize the 2020 cost of the measure rather than the YOE cost. I don’t imagine they throw YOE figures around for any reason other than they have to by law. Even the project details PDFs shows costs in 2014 dollars.

        Since Issaquah Link is the last item to be completed, they could call it a 20-year package instead of a 25 year package, which would help tremendously because the opposition likes to paint ST3 as if it won’t be ready at all until 2041, when it really provides a long stream of rail openings beginning in 2024. Plus, Issaquah light rail could easily be done in an ST4 in maybe 2028 or so (maybe along with Ballard-UW, Metro 8 maybe?) and could probably still be completed by 2041 with no problem.

        Throw in some more ST express to Issaquah and Sammamish (maybe a new connection to Renton and the airport along SR 900), and give Sammamish a good seven-day connection to East Link and Bellevue. They could even route it to S. Kirkland P&R and turn Save our Train to our side.

      2. You won’t be able to just drop Kirkland/Issaquah and expect ST3 to pass – that leaves nothing on the Eastside and even transit advocates here would vote against it. Nor will throwing a bone to Sammamish help – people who live there aren’t interested in transit.

        And none of this really addresses the problems on the Eastside – namely bad commuter traffic on 405. Before someone says “405 BRT”, it’s not going to help, because it doesn’t run in the express lanes for most of the distance, and even if it did, the express lanes are becoming worse and worse. I look at the toll rate website most mornings and north of 522 even the ETLs are in horrible shape there. South of 522, there are often backups near 128th St and general slowness through 116th/85th. To fix the problems, you’d need to add a toll lane north of 522 and do something around 128th St. 405 BRT is not going to do anything up here until you put direct access ramps everywhere and ensure ETL reliability during the worst congestion. Practically speaking, there’s only three places you need them (Brickyard, 195th, and Canyon Park) and none of those are that difficult to do (as compared to 85th/70th St).

        In any case, as RossB pointed out a while back, what you really need is BRT on the CKC. Ideally, it should connect to both Juanita (the reason why you need buses) and head north on 405 (with direct access ramps). But that’s not cheap and, most importantly, that’s also not rail, so ST is not interested. There are of course problems with the CKC plan, but whereas Issaquah Link provides a single station on the outskirts of town (in an area were development is supposed to happen, but may not), the CKC route actually goes through multiple areas of relative density. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good start.

      3. “I think having a second-round vote in 2020 with improvements has a reasonable shot if ST3 fails.”

        That may be a theoretical but it depends on the ST board putting that on the ballot. If Joe is correct, ST intends to put the same ST3 unchanged on the ballot in 2020 (except necessary changes like the timelines), and if that fails, I assume, give up. Of course, one thing to watch for is that the board members may not be the same in 2020, so new members may have different ideas.

    4. Just like in another ballot issue I can name, it’s best to concentrate on tasks at hand that won’t change over Election night. The better prepared we are to handle the things that won’t change immediately, if at all, the better we can face those that will.

      Mark Dublin

    5. I’m not concerned, because built-out ST2 serves the Seattle-centric portion of the region very well. If folks in South King, Pierce and Snohomish don’t want an extension of the tax burden, the sky will not fall.

      In fact, it may finally force SDOT to focus on effective and city-wide bus priority.

      1. Anandakos;

        Proposition 1 connects Seattle’s neighborhoods from Ballard and Pinehurst to the Rainier Valley and West Seattle with new light rail lines and stations. And Shoreline and Lake Forest Park a new bus rapid transit line via NE 145th Street and SR 522 from Jackson Park to Bothell. With the fully built-out mass transit system, people will be able to connect to regional employment centers in Seattle throughout the entire region.

        More at the link. Don’t bash ST3 before you check it out. Light rail is cool!

      2. Joe,

        Of course it’s cool. And if ST3 passes I will be very happy. But I also won’t panic or be appalled if it fails. Highline to Lynnwood would be a good enough “Spine” for quite a long time. Given that the extensions to Tacoma and Everett each will take only about five years to construct and run almost without exception along freeways or elevated down the middle of boulevards (Airport Road), they can be built any time in the future essentially with no more difficulty than they would be built under the ST3 timetable. Nothing is going to intrude on the freeway rights of way to block them in the future.

        Now Ballard to Downtown Seattle, in particular the three stations in SLU/LQA would certainly be missed. That’s the one place in the region outside the Urban Core in Seattle and the U District that really, really needs the capacity of LRT. There’s really rather little extra road capacity in that strip of rapidly developing land and rather poor freeway access.

        All those people wanting to come from Snohomish County to the U District and downtown Seattle really could be accommodated in buses on I-5. It would just mean that one lane of the roadway in each direction would have to be dedicated to them.

        Politically that’s not possible at this time, but if it were 2025 and it took an hour and a half or two hours to make the trip between Lynnwood and the Seattle CBD every day except weekends, the folks living in Snohomish County would tell their legislators “Make WSDOT give the buses a lane!”

        So, if people are in shock about the sticker price and vote the project down, the sky will not fall. People will be inconvenienced, but they will still be able to live their lives.

      3. Well Anandakos, I’m not receptive to that argument. I think anything can happen between 2017 and 2020 – and there are threats to take away ST3 taxing authority. Let’s seal the deal, take what we can get on the defensive side of the ball and put our Russell Wilson in the best position we can so Ric can just hike Karen the football and let’s Keep Building.

      4. Replying to myself.

        Actually, in 2025 ST2 will have been completed, so everyone will be transferring from their collectors CT “expresses” at Lynnwood, so no lanes needed. Same thing at the south end, though where they’d transfer is not so clear.

      5. If the legislature repeals the ST3 taxing authority, then it won’t matter what the result of the vote was. ST will have only the money that it has raised in bonds before then.

      6. Of course, you realize that for the legislature to revoke the ST3 tax authority, it would have to overcome practically every Puget Sound legislator, because the cities and counties are united for ST3. That’s 5/6th of the state’s population right there I think. So the rest of the state would have to mount a unified campaign against it and make it a priority. Some legislators may believe that all taxes are bad even if their constituents aren’t paying it, but other legislators may be inclined to let Pugetopolans spend their own money as they see fit.

      7. Mike;

        With enough Republicans and just enough “use ST3 authority to fund education” Democrats (e.g. Reuven Caryle)…. anything can happen if ST3 fails. Why risk losing the funding for building out Sound Transit?


      8. Truncation would happen at Highline if there is no ST3.

        Not passing ST3 means that several secondary cities in the region will have a much harder time getting the support to uptown and grow. We can’t channel all of the regional growth into psrc growth areas served by ST2 or have good express bus service.
        Think Kenmore, Issaquah, Federal Way, Fife, West seattle. With ST3 passed, these communities can start growing more aggressively knowing ST stations are on the way

      1. These kiosks are not vending machines and do not accept money. No wonder it ate yours! ;)

        These devices simply tell the public when the next buses are expected to arrive at the stop. They are purely informational (and non-interactive) video displays.

      2. Ok I thought they were the Metro bus ticket machines. Those look more like parking meters, I guess. Anyway one of them ate my money and I don’t trust them anymore.

      3. There are a few Metro bus ticket machines which were installed as a pilot program. I haven’t heard how well they’re doing. But these are not them; these are the posts that hold up the real-time arrival TVs.

    1. Great to see some progress (finally!) on fixing the 3rd Avenue information kiosks.

      It wasn’t clear to me whether the 6 kiosks mentioned are the ones getting temporary fixes or the only ones to be fixed. Hopefully the former.

      The 3rd and Pine NB kiosk is heavily used, and very problematic (the north side hasn’t worked at all for a very long time, and the south side seems to be functional only about 1/3 of the time). It isn’t one of the lucky 6. Hopefully, the article means that it will finally be fixed by the end of the year.

    2. The picture is misidentified. That’s not a new kiosk being installed, it’s an old one being dismantled (which is why there’s a truck loaded with old kiosks parked next to it). The old ones have a single white square with a bus icon and say “metro bus” down one side. The new ones have the same white square and bus icon plus an additional blank square next to it (maybe to add an additional icon of some other transportation mode in the future?) and say “transit” down one side.

  4. Its too bad that NPR can’t figure out that the California sales tax measures mentioned in their article are all at a county level – and the revenue first goes to an independent agency. Considering that this is most of the non-ST funding measures (in $) around the country, it’s worth noting.

  5. A couple of thoughts-

    New light rail cars – we really need to push ST to go with vehicles that only have one operator cab, similar to those used in Portland. It’s a tremendous waste of space (and likely more expensive) to have 8 operator cabs per train when we could instead have 4.

    Tacoma Center Platforms – Link on the Hilltop is a total waste of money in any event. It’s a terrible route that makes no sense and it’s going to be very slow. Since it’s a worthless endeavour as it is, might as well give in again to the community since there’s nothing to lose.

    1. I agree with removing one cab per car. A waste of space and money.

      I also think that the seats in the lower area should all be inward-facing to facilitate passenger movement, decrease clutter, and increase standing room. You’d only lose one seat if you had three side-facing rather than four front/back facing seats. Plus, it seems that people currently avoid those seats because it’s so awkward to get in and out.

      1. Right Squints and those seats are only used in Trimet-land for lovebirds (yes, I saw that) and for rush hour. I’ll post a picture or two to my Flickr tonight, then link ’em here.

        They’re interesting seats for photography, but I really think the trains should articulate instead. But I’m a transit photographer, not a transit engineer.

    2. I think in the long term, and if we can expect the vast majority of Link service to be running 4 cars all the time, the LRVs should definitely have fewer operator cabs. I think the primary issue at this point is flexibility. Currently, Link never runs any 4-car trains, even at the busiest points. In 2019, they will have more trains, in time to potentially always run 3-car trains when Northgate opens in 2021. East Link will probably run always 3-cars or a mix of 2 and 3-car trains, especially given that it’s all contained in one line and is redundant in north Seattle. It sounds like what you’re suggesting is to have an operator cab on each end of a two-car pair, and the middle of the cars permanently joined with no cars. This will work if ST can commit to only 4-car trains on most Link lines (since there is no flexibility to have 3 cars), unless they mix-and-match with old cars (which is very unlikely). The Issaquah line should be fine with only 2-car trains.

      Yeah, the Tacoma CBD to TCC light rail (and boy is it light) takes a bizarre path (even worse than the first hill streetcar) so badly that a reasonably fit person could probably outrun the train from MLK to Union Station along south 19th. I think it would do them well to fill in the 1.3 miles to TDS and run two lines, TCC to hilltop/downtown/TDS and a more direct TCC to TDS line. Running both of them every 20 minutes gives 10-minute service along S. 19th.

      1. You don’t need to have them permanently coupled. In fact, you can’t because of the short maintenance facility.

        To get a three car train you just tack on another car, just like you did before. The only difference is you have to make sure it is a car with the cab pointing the right way.


      2. If you have two car trains as a base, then you have a cab at each end already. TriMet already does this on all type 4 and 5 cars.

        Then, to make a three car train, you just add one car to that. If the cab is at the left end, you add it to the left end of the train, and if the cab is on the right end you add the car to the right end of the train:

        /== /== ==\


        /== ==\ ==\

        depending on what direction the third car happens to be facing when you grab it in the yard.

    3. Ryan, based on only one visit to Wright Park area, yesterday, after forty years’ visits to Tacoma itself, I think that the streetcar line itself has a good chance to change conditions you object to.

      The neighborhood, especially MLK, will add people and business for having the streetcar. Though there’ll be same problem as everywhere- the better the living, the higher the lowest income for living there.

      Tacoma, Seattle, and from the looks of it, every city in the entire world has to deal with that now. Starting with premise that every market needs health inspection and other regulations.

      And that best guarantee of affordability is average person working at wages that’ll let people live in the homes where their work ethic and skills have kept them for decades.

      It’s wrong that worldwide, the people who’ve built cities lose their homes overnight to the people who’ve simply bought them.

      While the plentiful and necessary local buses will run at same speeds as now, if the streetcars get the reserved lanes and signal precedence they should, they’ll provide some necessary express service connecting Hilltop with Downtown Tacoma.

      The ride along Stadium should be a fast and very attractive ride, saving a very steep, if shorter, climb.

      Platform location should be negotiable. Parking, on the other hand, has got to be ready to adjust. But mainly: Congratulations to the neighborhood itself. It’s one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.


      1. The best scenario for Tacoma Link is if people ride it from 19th to MLK, 19th to north downtown, MLK to mid downtown, and the Stadium curve to Tacoma Dome. 19th to Tacoma Dome won’t make a lot of sense, and hopefully Pierce Transit will have enough sense to put a bus in that corridor. The #2 line already covers most of it so there’s a precedent.

      2. I saw Wright Park in my Tacoma Link walking tour a month or two ago. I intend to go back and explore it sometime.

      3. Mike:

        From 19th to the Tacoma Dome has a lot of nothing. It really isn’t a corridor. Interstates 5 and 705 tore everything up so badly that much of the land in that area is still vacant.

  6. “Seattle was the only city in King County without a default 25 mph arterial speed limit.”

    Is that true? I know that on the Eastside there are lots of cities that have arterials signed for higher speeds, but most don’t have any signs about default speed limits. I believe Issaquah has such signs saying that the speed limit is 25 unless otherwise posted.

    If I don’t see signs, I assume that arterials are 30mph (or 35mph depending on street design) and minor streets are 25mph.

    1. Lower speed limits not necessarily a bad thing for transit- if transit gets the lane and signal priority it deserves. Because at present posted speeds, both traffic and transit generally move even slower than new limits, and are constantly in each others’ way.

      But transit is long overdue for those measures.

      Mark Dublin

    2. Seattle has signs at 145th saying the speed limit is 30 on arterials unless otherwise posted. They may also say the speed limit is 25 on non-arterial streets. The city is changing the default to 25 on arterials and 20 on other streets, but the actual speed limits will change only in Center City and on a case-by-case basis beyond that. That means the city will have to change and add a lot more speed limit signs to make reality match the policy.

      SDOT is aware of how lowering the speed limit on MLK would distrupt Link’s operations and usefulness, so it’s going slowly there. Having Link run at a different speed as the cars would mess up light synchronization, but slowing down Link would mess up the network and headways. So hopefully they won’t downgrade MLK.

      1. Those same K-S LRV’s run at 45 miles per hour on University Avenue between Minneapolis and St. Paul. The traffic alongside runs at 25 and the lights are set for the trains. People who want to drive the length of University Avenue don’t do it on University Avenue. They choose one of the parallel arterials.

        MAX also runs 45 down the middle of Interstate Avenue and East Burnside Street. Ditto the slower speed for cars.

        People learn and adjust.

      2. Anandakos, the Green Line stops at nearly every light from Raymond through Downtown St. Paul. There’s next to no signal priority for the trains and I’ve never seen a train not stop for a red light at Snelling, Hamline, and Lexington. The speed limit for cars is also 30 MPH, and when traffic is flowing, speeds vary from 30 to 50. Please don’t ever use the Green Line as an example of how light rail is supposed to be done; it’s a glorified streetcar in that it has dedicated lanes, but not much else. It’s much slower than the bus (#50 University Ave Limited) it replaced (Green Line: 1 hour and 10 minutes Downtown to Downtown, 50: 40-50 minutes same trip) and is nearly always slower than driving.

      3. Paul,

        Well, that certainly wasn’t my experience, but I only rode it twice on a visit. I rode between Rice and Hennepin in Minneapolis, a round trip, and noticed very few stops between Rice and the University except at stations of course. The deviation into the campus is certainly slow, but that’s what has to happen to surface transit in pedestrian-heavy environments. Also the route approaching downtown Minneapolis is too much like MAX in downtown Portland. They need a subway.

        But, you sound like you live there, so you would know better what the normal day to day rider experience is.

        However, my point was that, like MAX in Portland, the city Department of Transportation apparently allows the trains to run faster than the cars next to them, since there was almost no traffic and we passed the few cars that were alongside us.

        That can and should happen on MLK in Seattle.

      4. Also, since it already has dedicated right of way, it’s a small step to add “running block”-style signal priority when the ridership demands it.

      5. I’ve never been to Minneapolis and I’ve been on eastside MAX Blue twice east of Gateway. Are the intersections that cross the line further apart than MLK, and are they less important to area circulation? These are factors that might make it easier to run the trains faster than the cars.

      6. My impression is that Portland’s E. Burnside has exactly the opposite situation as Seattle’s ML King:

        ML King is a major through road. The streets that cross it seem to be busy, but due to the hill and Lake Washington they aren’t especially vital through roads in terms of traffic throughput.

        When MAX was put on E. Burnside, it was actually downgraded. It was a four lane highway type road, but became a two lane road with MAX down the middle. With so many parallel high traffic roads (Halsey, Stark, Glisan) there was no especially important reason to keep Burnside as yet another huge, wide, loud, obnoxious thoroughfare like the rest of them. The roads that cross intersect Burnside with complete MAX crossing, such as 122nd, are significant 4 lane regional traffic roads that run for a significant distance and are more important for auto traffic these days than Burnside is at this point.

        The way MAX is built on E. Burnside is also a bit different than Link on ML King. MAX has full ballasted track with a few designated crossing sidewalks with serpentine barriers to keep people from darting out in front of trains. Significant parts of Link on ML King are encased in concrete in the street, so that in those places Link looks a lot more like it is part of the street than MAX does.

  7. As Seattle looks at extending paid on-street parking hours, I hope that they add sufficiently frequent transit service in the assessment criteria. To just look at demand without and ignoring if alternatives are available is unfair to those that would prefer transit but don’t want to wait up to 30 minutes for a bus or 20 minutes for a train. Some areas don’t have any service after 10 or 11 PM. It’s not only a cost issue, but it’s a duration issue too as many people out after 8 PM are at events that last over 2-3 hours or they are occupied and don’t want to run back to their vehicle to add time for parking.

    It’s bad enough when hours expire at 8 PM rather than 6 PM; if they go to midnight, the attraction of using transit really diminishes — so some people just won’t want to make their trip to spend money!

    1. Are there areas with parking meters that don’t have frequent transit into the evening? That used to be a problem when major routes dropped to half-hourly at 7pm, but most of those got evening frequency with Prop `1. The areas with infrequent service seem to be the same areas that have unrestricted parking.

      1. In Fremont, the 31 stops running around 6:30 PM, leaving only the half-hourly 32 to the U-district. Metro did list the Fremont->U-district corridor as a candidate for improvements over the next couple years. Whether any of these improvements will trickle down to evenings and Sundays, or whether they’ll be nothing more than a couple extra rush hour trips, I have no idea.

      2. 10pm is the generally-accepted threshold for frequent evening service. The 49 and 10 are full-time frequent, The 2 (I just looked it up) is 15-minute frequent until 10pm eastbound and 11pm westbound. In any case, I was talking about routes that become 30 minutes at 7pm,, which indluded the 5 and 10 and maybe the 2. Fremont-UDistrict has a 15-minute evening route five blocks away at 45th.

      3. I’ve done that a couple times. The walk up the hill is longer than it seems, and once you get up there, the 44 has its own reliability issues. Overall, from Fremont/34th, walking up the hill and waiting 0-15 minutes for the 44 to go to the U-district takes about the same amount of time as waiting 29 minutes for a 32.

      4. With a limited amount of money you can’t expect two full-time 15-minute routes in every neighborhood. N 40th Street is in the same position as Madison and Union.

      5. The truth is a fit person can walk to the U-District from 34th and Fremont in less than 29 minutes. it’s less than two miles. If one “just misses” the 30 minute headway bus, start walking.

        I used to live at 43rd and Phinney and worked in the UW “Retirement and Insurance” Office right along the Burke-Gilman trail at Brooklyn. I walked both ways every day for over a year, crossing Aurora on that crazy overpass at 41st.

      6. And I’ve walked from University Way to Stone Way on 45th many times, which takes 20 minutes, without seeing a “15 minute” 44 bus.

      7. Walking up the hill is 15-20 minutes. Throw in 10 minutes to wait for the 44 bus once you arrive, and the total time between leaving Fremont/34th and actually being on a bus is nearly 30 minutes.

        Anadakos is right that a reasonably fit person can walk to the southwest corner of the U-district from Fremont in under 30 minutes. The Burke-Gilman trail is the fastest route. But it’s far enough that the walking option does not replace the need for frequent bus service.

      8. If you’ve just missed a 15 minute bus and are walking 20 minutes in the same direction, the next bus very well may not catch you–you’ve probably walked farther than the bus would cover in the five minute difference.

        If you, as happens to me every week or two, just miss a “every 15 minute” 11 during rush hour, you can often walk the 2.5 miles home (40 min or so) before the next bus gets to you. Of course, that’s as related to traffic delays as anything else as that bus is usually delayed between 15-25 minutes, and the delay isn’t constant so there’s often bunching followed by a long gap.

    1. I find it interesting as well. It would be nice if Seattle Streetcar & Sound Transit just used the same vehicles with the same parts.

      The bigger spare parts pool we can get in the Puget Sound, the better so we keep these vehicles on the road. Not everything can be quickly, safely 3D printed… but that will change. In fact I volunteer with a Mukilteo aviation centre working every Monday to educate the next generation how.

      Also operator & maintainer training would be so, so much easier if the vehicles were the same…

      1. Nooo, no no. Vehicles are completely different. Link “Light” Rail cars are very heavy for light rail, and are a much different beast than even Tacoma Link cars. That’s why in ST3, they can’t thru-route Central Link with Tacoma Link, and they need to force transfers at TDS.

    2. The S70 is used by the Atlanta streetcar

      It’s not just the parts supply. Think about how much more route flexibility it gives. SLU to ML King? Tacoma downtown to Fife and a local line there that goes someplace?

    3. The streetcars can run on the LRT tracks, but there will be a gap between the car floor and the platform of about three inches. The LRT vehicles can pass over the streetcar tracks a few times, but the much lighter track structure would not last long.

      So far as the shots “at McGraw Square”, the outside was definitely blue screened. You can see flaws in the projection a couple of times. It’s extremely unlikely that they would have heavy-hauled a Link car to Westlake and Stewart for a photo shoot.

      1. Oh trust me Anandakos, it would have been aaaallllllllllllllllll over Flickr had Siemens brought a car or two up here. ;-)

        But again it would be nice if Seattle Streetcar & Sound Transit would just use the same equipment.

      2. Take a look at the numbers again.

        The light rail cars are heavier, but they have more axles and spread over a longer distance. You wind up with very similar numbers.

        The Siemens S70 was designed to be able to operate on streetcar tracks in Europe that are far older and were built with far lighter cars in mind than those used in Tacoma or SLU. It’s actually more of a “tram-train” car design.

      3. Anandakos, I wasn’t suggesting that the S70 was actually at McGraw Square. The whole video is clearly a composite rendering.

    4. So they’re using a vehicle which is light enough to be a streetcar on Link with its long station spacing and expensive grade separation? How is that a good idea? Trams usually have top speeds of about 35 and are meant to stop frequently; will the things “hunt” even more than the K-S cars?

      There have been a few posts about truck dynamics which make the point that low-floor LRT’s are not really well-suited to long-distance high-speed running. It seems that if you reduce the weight you’ll get even poorer tracking. Is this going to be a mistake?

      1. Tram-train is the modern equivalent of interurban lines: in the street in the city, and higher speed running between cities.

        Hunt depends on a lot of factors, including track. Hunting was a problem on the Banfield MAX line for some years, but that was a problem before Siemens entered the North American market. I think it was actually a wheel profile issue. Bombardier sent wheels with an out of form contour to SkyTrain in the 1980s. My theory is we got some of those too and as the cars aged the wheels got reprofiled a few times on the wheel lathe and the issue went away.

        In France, this same car is called the Avanto, and operates on SNCF main lines and on city streets – except those were a 100% low floor version for better use on the streetcar lines.

  8. I looked down the Metro Matters blog and saw there’s an article on Metro Connects with a link to a 78-page PDF on the long-range plan, with maps of the Rapid/Frequent and Express networks. It has been updated based on feedback although I don’t see a list of the updates.

    It says the new RapidRide lines will have 1/2 mile stop spacing and run every 5-15 minutes with 50% bus-only lanes, 5am-1am. Frequent routes will have similar frequency with 1/4 to 1/2 mile spacing and some road investments. Those two cover most of Seattle and far into the suburbs. Express routes will every 15-30 minutes off-peak and 10-15 minutes peak, 1-2 mile spacing, 5am-8pm. There are only a few of these in Seattle. Arbor Heights-Fauntleroy-downtown, AK Junction-35th-Burien-SeaTac-Kent, and CD-Boren-SLU-Roosevelt-Lake City-Woodinville. A few go from downtown to the south burbs: Burien, Federal Way, Renton MLK, and Tukwila-Renton Grady Way-Kent 167-Auburn. The others Express routes are some 12 routes east of Auburn, Renton, Issquah, Kirkland, Redmond, and Bothell. Some of them may be peak-only until ridership builds up.

    There are also things about more bus lanes, off-board payment in some places, all-door boarding, wider aisles, station access, and TOD. It says “partners” will have to do most of the road and signal work.

    1. I’ve seen it, but it’s important to keep in mind that the networks shown in the long-range plan are very optimistic. They assume continued revenue growth, no recessions, passage of ST3, and Metro planners free to choose the most efficient network according to the service guidelines without regard to the political necessity of giving everybody a (slow and infrequent) one-seat ride to downtown, above all else.

    2. I’m not counting on it, because several things could go wrong as you say. But I’m excited that the county is about to set such an ambitious goal. Even if it’s only partly implemented it will make our transit closer to the level of Chicago, San Francisco, Vancouver, and European cities.

      I’ve started thinking about where in the county I’d be comfortable living if it’s implemented. It would have to be near a Link station, RapidRide line, or Frequent line, and I’m a bit iffy about the latter. How much of the transit lanes will materialize? Will it be more than the minimum 15-minute frequency? (Which we have now on the 5, 36, 40, 62, etc. 15 minutes seems wonderful when you’re at 30 minutes, but when you’re at 15 minutes you realize that transfers are still difficult and time-consuming, especially when the second bus goes past right in front of you.) And those all-day expresses sound great but it will still probably take an hour to get from Kent East Hill to Seattle or Auburn to Burien so people in lower-rent areas will still have 1-2 hour trips.

    1. Yeah, it interpreted my ASCII graphics in an above comment as some sort of HTML that’s not allowed.

  9. TransLink is getting ready to expand bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus services thru the three years. SeaBus, SkyTrain off peak, and some of the bus service could happen right away:

    Some big service changes are coming to SkyTrain on October 22nd. The Millennium line will be temporarily have a terminus at Lougheed Town Centre Station until Evergreen extension opens. The Expo line will go from Waterfront from/to King George and Production way- University from/to Waterfront.

  10. Hard to imagine Vancouver taking high-speed rail to Seattle seriously. In their 2010 Olympics infrastructure package, Vancouver basically spent zero on its high-speed rail. The stretch thru White Rock remains stuck at 10 MPH. And the reason WSDOT stops trains at Bellingham is because BC’s tracks aren’t good enough to run additional runs there.

  11. As far as the nationwide transit measures on the ballot – remove Seattle and LA and you only got $30 billion for the entire country. Without us and LA, there would be no news story.

  12. That picture by SounderBruce is a great illustration of why we need to develop more Light Rail.

    Think of it, all those idling buses in that pic, with all their operators, can be replace by one 4-car LR train with just one operator. And that one LR train can operate free of congestion at near freeway speeds at 6 min headways. Get the buses out of the DSTT and LR could operate at 3 min headways.

    That one 4 car LR train will be downtown and unloading before those buses are even loaded.

    1. I agree with you, though presumably, all those buses in the photo waiting for the game to end aren’t all going to the same destination, but will fan out to multiple places. So would still need more than one driver.

      1. No, of course all those buses aren’t going to the same place. And, of course, all the people riding LR aren’t going to the same place either.

        It’s just a lot quicker and lower hassle to intercept the LR line somewhere away from the point of congestion and commute in and out on LR. If I lived anywhere south of Husky Stadium that is what I would do.

        And I know people who live north of the Ship Canal that now go downtown to catch LR back up to Husky Stadium. When people are going that far out of there way to avoid a transportation bottleneck, it means that we are doing something wrong.

      2. We can do that when Link is built out to Northgate and Bellevue and Lynnwood. The south end may still have game buses because of the Link travel time issue.

      3. I’m not exactly sure what you mean by the “south end,” but when my brother comes up from Oly for a Seahawks game he usually tries to take Link fromTIBS instead of coming all the way in. Between traffic and the cost of parking he comes out way ahead.

      4. To me the south end is everything from Yesler Way to the Pierce-Thurston border. But you can expect somebody from Olympia to drive and park at a Link P&R, because he knows traffic in the U-District will be impossible and parking expensive, and he knows where the Link station is. He wouldn’t know where the game-day shuttles are if he doesn’t live in the area, and he’d be wise not to trust them in case he can’t get back to his car before they end.and he doesn’t know the area and there may not be a regular bus route to them. But for people who live in the area, the shuttles are designed to move masses of people. They can’t all fit in the TIB parking lot which is full on an ordinary day. Angle Lake might be the solution but since it’s so new and they don’t know how much it will fill up anyway, they may not have wanted to count on it yet. Or it could just be interia: Federal Way has long been privileged with lots of express buses, so why not give it the shuttles it deserves because it’s the king of south King County.

  13. Are Metro/ST starting to get religion about convincing people to exit via the rear doors? I was on a 541 this week, and the driver played a recording I had never heard before: “Please exit via the rear doors”. It was at the SR-520/NE 40th St stop, where one person wanted to get off, and a couple dozen wanted to get on.

    Then, today, I was getting on a 26 downtown, and one person on the bus decided to try to leave via the front door after a half dozen people had already gotten on. The driver very brusquely said “Please get off via the back door”. In the past, drivers would abort the entire boarding procedure just to let that one person get off at the door of his choice.

    Small progress, but every bit helps, especially at peak times.

    1. I was on Pierce Transit 1 a couple days ago and it wasn’t until the sixth stop that a single person exited from the back.

  14. It’s time to play the Route Fate Prediction game. Which of the routes in Metro’s Long-Range Plan do you think will be the most popular? Which new routes will you use most? Which ones are the most questionable? Which seem the most odd but could attract riders?

    My vote for the most popular suburban routes are the RapidRides and Express in Kent. That has been neglected forever and is the densest and highest-ridership part of south King County. A route I will use is the RapidRide to Alki. Questionable routes are the two Locals from Magnola and 6th Avenue West that combine to go across Lakeview Blvd, Belmot Ave, and Aloha Strreet to 23rd & John. Will 15-minute ridership on Aloha really materialize? And that Express from Auburn to Covington, Maple Valley, and Snoqualmie, really? Wave to John Bailo as he shops at the North Bend outlet stores or goes to the Snoquamie Casino. As for odd but possibly successful routes, there are several but none in particular stand out at the moment.

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