Trolleybus against the skyline

This is an open thread.

54 Replies to “News Roundup: Not Really News”

  1. Would be nice if ST would get Enviro process exceptions for Light Rail development. Something obviously good for the environment in the short and long term shouldn’t have to go through the nightmare that East Link did.

    1. Environmental review isn’t only about a project’s impact on the natural environment, it’s also about the built environment. It is necessary to determine how an infrastructure project will interact with the world around it even if that world is mostly man-made.

  2. The high walk-up percentage for Link is not that surprising, considering the limited amount of parking at the existing stations (The ~300 parking spots at TIBS can only account for so much out of the ~35,000 daily boardings). Especially, since all the airport travelers presumably count as “walk-up” passengers, as “airplane” was not listed as a travel option in the survey.

    1. Of course pedestrians are the high number on the access survey. Does anyone keep a car at both ends of the trip so that they always can drive?

    2. The other thing to think about is if there is a huge percentage coming via car, it tells you the local bus routes aren’t handling their demand. There’s going to be a certain number of people that will always prefer to drive to LR, but there are also those that will drive to it because the bus route to it is so far away from their home, they burn more time getting to the bus stop and then from that bus to the LR than just driving there. Those problems ago away as cities actually expand local service as LR handles regional demand. So in this case, seeing a high walk rate is exactly what we want.

    3. The survey details explain that it was done before U-Link opened. That means that UW students would be in that bus transfer number.

      1. I think that actually deflates the total bus-transfer numbers, rather than inflates them. UW students that were formerly bus-only are now bus+train.

  3. Alright folks, Joe here.

    Uh in the wake of recent comments on the internet and in some ST3 debates that transit doesn’t have riders, I’ve started a new Flickr group: Crowd Shots of Puget Sound Transit at

    I am so sick and so tired of hearing the Beyond Stupid transit doesn’t have riders or enough riders that I’ve decided not just to take my aviation photography technique of crowd shots to transit, but also start a Flickr group. All I ask is the group be just Puget Sound transit agencies.

    Portlandia with their Trimet is open to imitating us if they so desire… ditto Spokane.

    1. I’m a bit shy to be whipping out my phone for a shot of the morning rush-hour 120 crowds, but I agree that this is necessary.

      However, this group has proven that they are perfectly willing to participate in post-factual politics, so I’m not sure this will help. Just the other day they claimed that Link trains have a LOWER capacity than buses.

  4. Thirty cheers for Amy Walgamatt. Everyone wins from her attitude: all the folks who will get squeezed out by will get good money for their houses. If they sell out one-by-one, one “first mover” will get very good money and the last fifteen percent will get a “holdout” bonus, but everyone in between will get less than optimum as the developers play them off against one another.

    I hope you find a great new place, Amy.

  5. So Sound Transit is considering building the one Issaquah station in the shadow of the freeway. Yet another reason that line should go down to ignominious defeat without seeing a single tax dollar.

    (ST will have to lay off its planners if ST3 fails this year? Yes, please do!)

    1. William,

      The planners are the ones doing a decent job given the crap sandwich they are handed by the board. So can we not root for them, or anyone, to lose their jobs?

      1. Did the board say that the Issaquah station needs to be located right next to freeway ramps? That the 130th St Station (should it be built) needs to serve only one side of the street? That the Mount Baker Station needs to be located to one side with an inconvenient transfer?

        No, there’s more than enough blame to go around.

    2. The article notes that the pictured “representative” station location in the is only for cost-estimation purposes (i.e. what will it cost to build a station in an arbitrary Issaquah location), and that no Link station has ever been built in the “representative” location.

      Actual station location will be determined later, using studies funded with ST3 money (if/when it passes).

      1. There’s a graphic toward the end of this article about where Issaquah thinks the station might be. ST picked one simply to come up with a representative cost estimate, but that’s not binding on anybody.

        Depending on development patterns between now and final alignment selection circa 2030, it could be anywhere in Central Issaquah. The growth center is something of a blank canvas at this time.

      2. Thanks for the explanation and the link to the map. It shows one possible location right over the freeway, two spots about a block away, and one next to the current transit center that’s somewhat decent.

        Things aren’t looking hopeful.

    3. Every time i drive through central Issaquah (where I do much of my shopping), I try to envision where the station could go. I had always assumed it would be near the TC, but now that I look the STB article Dan liked to, I realized it really depends on how important it is to serve the area north of I90, include the Coscto campus. Do you want Coscto at the middle of the walkshed, or at the edge?

      (Obviously caveating this a very preliminary sketch) If the station is going to be that close to the freeway, might as well keep it within the freeway & not spend the money going up & over the interchange. I’m hoping for something like KDM or Federal Way, where the station is a solid block or two away from the freeway. This would favor one half of the growth area depending on the side of freeway the station is.

      Also import is if the line is going to be extended in the future. Will it be significantly cheaper to keep the station in the middle of the freeway, so that it can continue to onwards within the freeway ROW?

      For example, rather than swooping over the interstate & building an elevated line, after the central issquah station the line can remain at grade grade and duck under I90 at 4th Ave NW, cross Gilman at grade, & run along Rainer Blvd to serve a station near to the historic center of Issaquah.

      Again, all very premature. Looking forward to being engage as this line develops.

  6. $2 billion for an Issaquah line with a station serving some freeway ramps… if ST3 fails, I won’t be surprised if a strong no vote on the Eastside is responsible.

    1. “representative” locations are for cost-estimation purposes only, and do not indicate where stations will actually be located. See my reply above.

      1. Everybody demands more transparency until they provide it and then people arm chair general it and don’t actually read what was released transparently. I have some cake for these people.

  7. Yes, boo on the Seattle Times, yay for the reporter, and super yay for the Shoreline SF homeowners.

    1. So it’s okay for media who publish ideas you support to be biased (hello Stranger), but not the converse? Can you say hypocrite?? Either criticize the concept of bias or accept bias – can’t have it both ways.

      1. The Stranger freely admits the biases they have. The Seattle Times tries to claim that they are even in their reporting and, other than their Op-Ed page, show no bias.

      2. Here’s bias: “Granted, as proponents say, 2+2 = 4. However, we think the number we need is 5. Which can be achieved by the sums of 2+2+1, or 6-1. Or, to hold onto both of our 2’s until we can either find 1 more. Or learn to work within a budget of 3.”

        However, it’s a different matter to say: 2+2 = 5. And inexcusable to order a reporter and an editor to violate the rules of their own profession by lying for you, thereby calling their own honesty and the reputation of both their profession and your newspaper into question.

        And also a needless waste forest resources, since with Social Media you can convince you don’t want to know how many people that you’re lying because you’re understating your rightness. And punish you with one less +. Without grinding up a match.

        But common human decency forbids telling the editor of The Times that his bosses and their advertising customers are only paying for his villainy (he probably sees Snidely Whiplash in the mirror) because his the paper’s standard ink makes fish taste better when wrapped in it.

        Truth has a low pain threshold.


      3. Oh please. The major TV networks and news channels, the NYT, the Washington Post, WSJ all claim to be unbiased, but that is patently false. And yes, all of those media outlets do the equivalent of saying that 2+2=5.

  8. Cancelled my Sierra Club membership over carbon pricing, beyond disappointing that they can’t see the harm caused by letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. Frankly, they sound like Nader 2000 voters to me.

    And in this case, I’m not sure their ‘perfect’ is an improvement anyway. I sure wouldn’t vote for a revenue positive measure that’s apparently going to direct a large portion of the proceeds into ‘social justice’ slush funds. And given the beating it’d take from opponents over that and just generally being an inarguable tax increase, I’m sure it would never pass.

    1. It’s fine that they as a whole might disagree with their members, but the real reason you should be cancelling is the fact that they are trying to dictate a policy nationally and sell it as a local opinion when clearly it’s not. That’s the bad part because it’s dishonest, not just a disagreement on the national level that has a minority membership not aligned to it. They should at least be putting, “this endorsement is not representative of our membership and is not dictated by the local branch.”

      1. Same for the rest of us who would have voted for anybody but George Bush except Albert Gore. Considering Albert’s far superior qualifications, our paper-ballot votes for Ralph Nader shouldn’t have made a cage-rug for single hamster.

        Kindest to say that the voting block whose lack killed Albert was the people who neither knew nor cared there was an election. Or that since Harry Truman died, such a thing as a President.

        Or more likely, older men really miffed that their haberdashery had sold the dummy that displayed their suits the best for a game show prop. Harry Truman would never have done that in his own haberdashery! Or voted for Albert Gore on a bet. Guys who knew what a haberdashery was always had inside info which dog was faster.

        But to paraphrase what Senator Lloyd Bentsen’s said to Dan Quayle: Look them up, Mrs. Clinton, and any other candidate, or ballot measure, who thinks the only qualification they need is that they’re not their opponent.

        Mark Dublin

    2. There are quite a few Sierra Club members who – like me – do not support Initiative 732 and are perfectly happy with the chapter’s decision. Whatever happens with 732, I hope that Sierra Club members can unite behind the other big climate initiative on the ballot: ST3 Prop 1.

      1. Any method for counting passengers automatically has its inaccuracies in large crowds. Invariably, there are a certain number of people who board the train but don’t get counted because it can’t see through one person to count the other. Or, it might misinterpret the motion of someone getting off when they are actually getting on.

        You could try to tally the ORCA taps with paper ticket sales, but in that type of crowd a certain percentage will have not been able to tap.

  9. Two things:

    Sound Transit 3 is a climate action! Didn’t you just publish a guest post titled “How ST3 Helps Fight Climate Change?”

    Here are some of the other organizations declining to support I-732: Climate Solutions, 350 Seattle, Washington Conservation Voters, the WA Democrats, AFL-CIO, Fuse, Puget Sound Sage, OneAmerica, and the Washington Environmental Council. This is more than just “Nader 2000” voters, and it would be wise of people to really think about why a climate initiative has drawn such widespread apathy and opposition from environmentalists and the left.

    1. “Climate Solutions, 350 Seattle, Washington Conservation Voters, the WA Democrats, AFL-CIO, Fuse, Puget Sound Sage, OneAmerica, and the Washington Environmental Council”

      You just provided 10 great reasons to vote for I-732.

    2. The problem that all of those agencies have is proving why the carbon tax I-732 is modeled after is working so well in Europe and British Columbia:

      And the carbon credit system they are endorsing is failing in California, Australia, and the European countries that didn’t go the carbon tax route.

      1. Yep, a carbon tax is politically feasible, transparent, and effective. Those groups oppose it because they want the opportunity to pick winners and losers (grants for some, small American flags for others!) to push their own pet projects. Hard pass for me on that.

  10. Re: Sound Transit rider survey, from the article: “When it comes to income, more than half of riders, about 58 to 59 percent, fell below King County’s median household income—which is around $74,00[0] for a 2.4 person household.”

    Considering 50% of households are below the median household income by definition, this hardly seems like a revelation. It is hard to characterize Link riders as “disproportionately poor” based off that figure alone.

  11. It’s too bad about the stabbing at TIBS. Not sure the circumstances, but this is a tragic situation. Hope it doesn’t lead some voters to think the stations attract more crime.

    1. I think most voters have associated International Blvd with high crime rates since long before that station went in.

  12. Glad they are reducing SEPA requirements for infill. Infill needs to be encouraged. I’d love it if developers would flock to the vacant lots and abandoned buildings first before chasing exurban greenfields for development. Reducing regulations will take a step in the right direction. For a developer, time is money. SEPA = delays.

    While we are at it, let’s expand this to reduce SEPA requirements on infill projects in every city in Washington and INCREASE environmental regulation on every project that uses a green field.

  13. 1. Tukwila International Boulevard Station is missing only one thing to make it extremely safe, and feel like it: A commercial and residential neighborhood with some cafe’s and shops open all night, with the present parking lot in its basement.

    I wonder if the ethnic restaurant and shopping area across the Boulevard and a few blocks north has ever made any moves to extend itself to the foot of those stairs- making everything above it safe and itself some more customers. Chambers of Commerce hired the marshals who really brought peace to the West.

    2. Paul Weyrich, who published The New Electric Railway Journal, transit journalism’s saddest loss, believed that the Federal highway system and all its spawn were History’s most monumentally wasteful Socialist enterprise.

    He thought BART and its kind were generally overkill. Believing that street rail-based electric rail was the most efficient, comfortable, and scale-able form of transit. The Spring 1993 edition gave two articles to The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel.

    Paul and his take on transit define the term “conservative” to me. So let’s quit granting that honor to the Seattle Times, and the people who just destroyed our banking system and got Federal Highway Project- sized Government Bailouts. Or the politicians they pay to elect.

    3. No surprise that the majority of LINK’s present ridership shares the income bracket along most of its present surface right of way. Hope I don’t sense a frown of concern about his.

    Also natural (if current housing market can be called that) for young South Lake Union residents to be opposite bracket. Most positive proof possible that tide has shifted to transit for generations to come.

    But let’s talk about the serious numerical majority of people, who’d be in the first category if it weren’t for credit cards, and so spend years of unpaid overtime keeping up with the interest they’ll owe forever. Including for the cars they’re trapped in for hours unpaid at all.

    It’s a thirteen year old girl’s most skillfull eyerolling “Well DUH-uh!” that they’re homes are sprawled beyond any help from transit. See parentheses above.

    But since even if her eyeballs get stuck there’ll be poll workers to help her vote in five years, it might be good for ST- oriented planners, and pro-transit politicians, to start deliberately building some workplaces into every piece of TOD.

    Creating the kind of neighborhoods that streetcars and their descendants the interurbans used to profitably serve. Right now, here’s my definition of “Transit Oriented Development”: A short walk or a fast train ride from home to the shop where you make parts for a US-made PCC streetcar.

    With coffee breaks at a 1939 drugstore-themed cafe where you can get a chocolate malt latte. (Marijuana at the other pharmacy a block over run by an old guy named “Doc”.) Okay, Seattle Times. Out-Conservativize that!


    1. I like your idea of building a neighborhood over the TIBS parking lot. This has the added benefit of effectively making the mezzanine go away at that station. “ground level” would be one escalator flight up to the trains, or one flight down to the garage.

      1. Thanks, Pete. But transportation-wise, two greatest-things-of-all. If the Northeast African business people can start advertising online- or partner with some ad agencies, or even airlines, new arrivals can have a one-stop train ride to some fantastic food.

        Even better, the African cab drivers who always go to the best restaurant and consequently are always parked outside it can teach Lyfft and Uber (whatever Amharic is for “Independent Contractors”) some things about taxi driving.


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