Angle Lake Station

This is an open thread.

143 Replies to “News Roundup: Victory Lap”

  1. It was stupid not to have a moving walkway to the Link station installed from the get-go. Oh well, better late than never.

    1. The excuse was always vertical clearance. They couldn’t build them into the floor because that would lower the roof on the level below, causing problems for cars. That is, of course, ridiculous because you can definitely put moving walkways on TOP of a floor.

      Everyone with half a braincell knew their excuse was bull. I don’t know why they bother. Why don’t they just say, “We didn’t think anyone was actually going to use this thing so we didn’t bother until now”?

      1. I don’t think it’s bullshit. There’s a lot more equipment underneath the floor of a moving walkway than you might imagine – they’re basically just escalators that happen not to be running on a slope. These schematics give some idea:

        The ceilings in the Seatac parking garage are uncomfortably low as it is; stack three feet of moving walkway hardware on top of the existing concrete floor and nobody whose age had reached double digits would be able to stand up straight while riding it.

      2. ST made a calculation that the moving sidewalk was not necessary to insure that the airport station was a success — and with ridership from that station running at double estimates it is clear that ST’s calculations were 100% accurate!

        Now that the station is a success, and now that ST has some additional cash available, they can go back and put in some of these niceties. But we shouldn’t’ confuse niceties with necessities. They are not the same thing.

      3. @Max S,

        You are correct. And anyone who has worked around pre-stressed concrete knows that you can’t just cut into the floor — doing so can be deadly.

        It’s not nearly as simple as the armchair engineers would have you believe.

      4. Yeah I’m an armchair engineer but I also use a moving walkway almost every day that was installed on top of a concrete floor. In a transit station, no less.

      5. “ST made a calculation that the moving sidewalk was not necessary”

        ST didn’t have a choice; the walkway is Port property, not ST property. The Port is another regional government and the state probably considers the airport a critical piece of infrastructure, so ST can’t eminent-domain it at the drop of a hat. All ST could have done was refuse to locate a station there or build the extension. The first-choice station location clo9ser to the terminal was nixed by the feds’ post-9/11 paranoia and the Port’s expansion aspirations and SeaTac’s hopes for a city center on the other side (which was nixed by the landowner’s refusal to redevelop it). The port plans to build another terminal closer to the station and replace the garage with a hotel, and the walkway will become an interior corridor in the hotel building.Check back in twenty years and see how far along it is.

      6. “Just put the moving sidewalk on top of the floor.”

        Brilliant, let’s make a moving sidewalk that’s unusable to anyone over 4 feet tall. Everyone with half a braincell knew that installing a usable moving sidewalk in the existing space was an impossibility barring some serious and expensive modifications to the garage structure.

    2. I have to wonder if there was some behind-the-scenes pressure applied by the airlines, especially since their flight attendants and workers depend on Link. It’s probably either that or a zealous port commissioner. Only pressure from a valued interest would move the airport from a ‘don’t care’ attitude to an ‘immediate action’ attitude so quickly.

      1. Could be Angle Lake station and people taking the train to Alaska Airlines headquarters wanting a better walk.

    3. Back during the time the Airport Link station was being designed, the story I heard was the Port had a long-range plan for northward expansion of the terminal. There would be a new skybridge to the station mezzanine from that new north wing, and it would include a moving sidewalk. Perhaps that plan has gone away, or maybe it never was.

      1. @Roger,

        That was indeed the understanding at the time. Don’t know what the current situation is though. Things might have changed.

        I suspect any additional access will be as you suggest.

    4. Now if they can only install halfway decent signage inside the airport that 1) explains that there is a train to downtown and 2) shows one how to get to it quickly, that would be great. Every time I fly into SeaTac I’m shocked at how bad the signage is.

      1. Agreed. The current “Link” doesn’t mean anything to people who aren’t from here and don’t know that Link = Train. It should say train to Seattle (and not train to Husky Station or something like that).

      2. I have a theory about the poor signage, and its the way it is in order to not upset the Taxi companies and the Airporter service if it still exists. Years back now, Grey Line of Seattle made a big stink about Metro “competing” with them on the Seattle-Sea Tac Airport segment with the 194 route as they claimed it took business away from them. Of course, a $1.25 fare vs. a $25 fare are two different things and really the services were orientated at two different markets, although metro did get some cross over from tourists on their service, whereas the locals stayed away from Grey Line’s offering. So its my guess because of situations like this where the airporter and taxi company’s have a lot of $$$ involved and do not want the public competition for riders is why the signage is the way it is.

      3. I’m pretty sure that in some places, it actually does say “train to Seattle”. It should also be rather obvious that a light rail line serving the airport would go downtown. Where else would it go? Can you think of a single city anywhere where an urban rail line goes to the airport, but doesn’t go downtown?

      4. NYC? JFK rail goes to Jamaica Station, but you can then transfer to subway lines heading downtonw.

      5. Los Angeles. Neither the existing Green Line nor the new N-S line they’re building go downtown.

      6. and Singapore. When the MRT extension first opened trains ran direct to downtown but it is now a shuttle that requires a transfer to continue downtown.

      7. How about a concourse map that includes the station? And an app download square? Show a pictogram of a tram, so the visitors will know what the sign is for. The app download square is what will make the signage stand the test of time.

    5. I never felt the walk to/from the airport was that bad. You need to bring warm layers anyway in order to wait for the train, once you get to the train station, and to walk home from the station at the other end. If I move fast, I can get from a jetway at one of the A-gates all the way to the train platform in under 15 minutes (with an Orca tap, so no fumbling with the TVM’s).

      That said, if the port is willing to pay for an upgrade (and also improvements for people with disabilities), I say great.

      1. Correct. That was without checked baggage. Unfortunately, nothing ST can do would help with the wait for the baggage carousel.

    6. Pleased, but a bit surprised to read this since I was told on a couple of occasions by Port folks that this was not technically feasible weight-wise.

    7. Not a fan of moving walkways at all, especially in this situation.

      1) They break down a lot. Worse than nothing when broken since they constrain walkway throughput.

      2) Noise pollution. Those stupid “watch your step at the end of walkway” on infinite loop are going to be real fun for airport workers or frequent travelers. Airports have enough inane announcements, this piles on.

      3) Waste of electricity. Raises operating costs for limited benefit.

      4) Waste of capital budget. $28MM is ridiculous. Maybe the Port could buy a few more TVMs and ORCA readers and install better signage instead? Arguably that would help people more and cost a lot less.

      5) Not meaningfully faster. Sure, if nobody is on it and you’re hustling it beats walking by maybe 90 seconds. But if the group in front is standing and blocking with luggage, nope – now it is slower.

      6) Walk isn’t actually very far, not even 1500 feet into the terminal. That’s less than we expect most people to walk to a Link station. Like maybe their origin/destination station.

      By all means wall off the walkway. That makes a lot of sense. But moving walkways are a frivolous use of money.

      1. I as well don’t understand how a moving sidewalk would help. Considering our obesity epidemic and the constant failure of escalators in out brand new Link stations seems like a huge waste of money

      2. Everybody with a negative comment on Sound Transit and the Port of Seattle finally adding some badly-needed finish to Sea-Tac Station: Put a sock in it. Will be your fault if the Port doesn’t let Sounder Passengers use the Terminal toilets anymore.

        You’ve just scraped the last remaining edge off this website’s claim to responsible criticism. But let me suggest a constructive countermeasure that will be both an effective protest against lethargic response, and a boon to passenger humanity:

        Go to a plumbing supply store, and a tool rental, and put toilet seats fit for the unincarcerated on the little restrooms near the fare machines at the opening of the concourse. And to provide anonymity, sign it “Seattle Subway.”

        Mark Dublin

    8. There are some “train to Seattle” signs but not as ubiquidous as they should be. The last time I was there you already had to be in the right wing at the right direction escalator to find such a sign. In Chicago practically everywhere there’s a “Ground transportation” sign there’s a “Train to city” sign.

    9. It was stupid to build the station so far from the terminal in the first place. Zero logical reason for it. All arguments and reasons for it that I’ve heard and read are hogwash. Terrible planning.

      1. That’s the closest the Port would allow it. But, hey, they are a directly-elected board, so they are more accountable.

      2. @ Brent.

        Accountable is correct and voters should take things / past actions into account when voting. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case for this region.

      3. You can’t just vote on one small issue in the total port behavior. Even if a hundred die-hard transit fans do, nobody else will.

      4. This may help, As I remember it back in 2001 post 9/11 the airport extension got shaved off LINK either due to uncertainties at the time in the post 9/11 world, or due to budget constraints. I don’t remember which now. I think it was a combination of both. the Airport did not want to commit to the project as they did not know what the security world would look like, a lot was still up in the air over the TSA and aviation security in general. For a time, they were even checking vehicles entering sea-tac airport on the approach to the airport drive. I remember being on an early morning 574 and the coach had to stop and get checked. I forget if they walked through the bus or not, but I know we did stop. I think when the project resumed, one of the reasons it was located away from the terminal was due to post 9/11 security concerns which were still fresh in everyone’s mind at the time. It probably also allowed easer extension to the south. Also at the time all this was going down, they were concerned about the parking garage being so close to the terminal, and had blocked off a number of parking spaces next to the terminal incase of a car bomb. As the years passed these concerns were proven to be unfounded and subsequently relaxed, but when this project was in design, 9/11 was still fresh on everyone’s mind, and since no one really knew what to do or how to handle the threat of terrorism it got placed well away from the terminal just in case.

      5. Especially now that the International terminal will be expanded drastically — a large majority of Link users are international travelers.

    1. ST vending machines are located inside the building. Is using them not allowed unless you buy a coffe or something?
      Or is ST not considered a merchant inside Freighthouse Square?

      1. St Vending machines are located inside the ST owned breezeway. WSDOT should have demolished the breezeway and incorporated it into their facility, as its an extremely poor design. only 2 single doors on each side, and a big window separating them. They should have had 2 sets of double doors side by side.

    2. It really could be.

      I think that guy is just trying to get some free money from the state, as if the construction has had any actual impact on his business there. Seems like a joke to me.

    3. Maybe the reason Sounder riders don’t use Freighthouse Square is how crappy the businesses are in that dump

      1. I used to take Sounder regularly in the reverse peak. I think it’s a bit of a chicken/egg scenario – those businesses are mostly dumpy because for the vast majority of the day Freighthouse Square is a wasteland. Amtrak and more Sounder service will bring more people and business will improve.

        Which is why I find the owner’s argument so fascinating. Without Sounder that place would’ve gone entirely bankrupt years ago.

      2. They used to have a LOT of lunch business from downtown who would take LINK over and back for lunch, but mismanagement of the place has caused that to fall dramatically. Not even subway could stay open in there.

      3. The owner of the Little India Express is a personal friend of mine, and a superb cook, and manager. Since my first curry in East Africa fifty three years ago, where larger precentage of the business and professional classes are East Indians, the meals at Freighthouse are the best. Of a demandingcuisine.

        If I come in on the 6:47 Sounder, he’ll still serve me a full dinner, and let me sit at the table fifteen minutes after closing time to eat it. His neighbors seem to be of similar quality. And same holds for the shops down the hall. All of whom will give me the bathroom key that the restrooms the place deserves should not need.

        The knife seller and sharpener. Beautiful blades. A shop whose “curios” (euphemism, this stuff has real skulls and 19th century surgical tools) will give you the nightmares you deserve, which their quality will make deservedly worse. The place across the hall with the best walking sticks I’ve ever seen, Sharp teeth on a dragon handle. And another with a sharp animal jawbone I’d rather carry than a gun.

        Taken together, Freighthouse Square could be a station the transit world could envy, seriously, given the following. The restroom capacity and the advertising that any establishment of their class deserves A landlord with the business sense to have provided these things twenty years ago. And a Regional Transit agency willing to advance the field of condemnation law.

        Tomorrow morning I’ll drive to Tacoma (can’t risk missing last bus south) and take the 7AM Sounder northbound. I’ll make it a point to have supper when I get off the reverse commute. If I see any of those signs, I’ll call transit security and have them watch me politely transfer them to a wastebasket. I know somebody’s smart-phone will edge Donald Trump clean off Twitter.

        Mark Dublin

      4. Ah, so THAT’S why Tacoma Link ridership is falling! A big part of it is the lunchtime crowd, and with Freighthouse Square having a horrible owner, it drives down traffic…

      5. What does the Freighthouse Square owner do that drives away the Tacoma lunch crowd? Most building owners are practically invisible. Even if there is a “No non-customers sign”, it clearly doesn’t apply to them.

      6. The building owner is responsible for marketing and developing the retail space inside his facility. This is something that has not been happening for most of a decade by now. In addition they are also responsible for building upkeep, general advertising to attract shoppers, etc. The building needs paint and exterior work bad, and last time I went anywhere beyond the food court there were a lot of empty spaces. Granted the way its currently configured it makes it difficult to get much in the way of retail in there as the spaces are very small, but with some reconfiguring i’m sure you could do something.

      7. From what I remember, which has been some time back, the spaces are mostly larger than Portland Saturday Market stalls, and not too different than Olympia Farmers Market booths. Considering the success of the Olympia Farmers Market, it seems like this building could work well, given different management.

      8. I was in Freighthouse Square last summer. There are a variety of ethnic restaurants with good prices like you’d find on the Ave or in the International District. Wendy’s Vietnamese is a bit famous for being vegetarian and having a lot of dishes. The building is run down and dumpy, but it was the same ten years ago before the decline in business. The east wing feels like one of the lower floors in Pike Place Market, with art galleries and comic-book shops and antique shops and odd clothing shops that you wonder why anybody would buy from or how they stay in business. The storefronts were not empty, so maybe some new ones opened since MrZ was there.

      9. The place is a total dump. Very unattractive atmosphere. The only good thing about it are the old Milwaukee Road photos. ST would have been far better served not using Freighthouse Square at all.

    4. Other comments indicate that the signs have been taken down, and that there is support of the commuters by the businesses (and vice-versa), it’s just the building owner that feels this way.

  2. It is understandable that CT routes will not run on Christmas Day, but it makes no sense at all that they won’t do so as well the day after Christmas. Lots of people need to go to work then!
    What’s up with that!

    1. Because December 26th is “Christmas Day Observed” this year due to Christmas falling on a Sunday.

      1. Even for a technically-picky blog like STB, I think this comment just set a new record for pedantry.

      2. It all depends on how you get paid, and what the agreement reads.
        Makes a lot of difference from that viewpoints.

    2. Actually, I believe that since CT now runs on Sundays, that it will indeed run on Christmas Day (albeit with Swift being the only route that runs more frequently than once an hour).

      1. Are you sure? I looked on the CT website recently and it said there is no service either day.

      2. Community Transit is running its local routes on a Sunday schedule for December 25 and December 26. No commuter routes to Downtown Seattle or UW, but you can probably take route 512 (also on a Sunday schedule). (Source)

  3. It is absolutely spectacular that Link ridership is now higher than STEx ridership. And that is before the full bump from the UW being in session and Angle Lake being on-line. Expect Link ridership gains to continue to outpace those of STEx/Metro.

    so when will the number of DSTT users on Link exceed the number of DSTT riders on Metro buses? That milestone should be passed fairly soon, and at that point we can start discussing an early eviction of buses from the DSTT and the inclusion of a second Link turnback line. That would give us 3 min headways on Link in the urban core — and that is sorely needed.

    1. It may exceed it already with the loss of several high\-volume routes and the 106. But evction is coming in two years anyway so there’s not much point in trrying to accelerate it. Even if they decided to do it right now it would take nine months of planning.

      1. 9 months is highly preferable to 24.

        I’m all in favor of not waiting until the absolute last minute to do something. Sometimes you should just get er done.

      1. I hope so. However with how SPD enforces bus lanes currently the ban will probably have little effect.

      1. Point being, the planning has already started, but it really can’t be accelerated. Both service changes (which go through the KC council for Metro) and capital investments are being evaluated.

      2. All tunnel buses have already been moved to the surface once (during tunnel reconstruction) and it worked just fine. And that was BEFORE Link was operational and taking on so much of the heavy lifting of downtown transit.

        Theoretically we will need fewer buses downtown. That is what Metro should be planning for. Planning for anything else is nothing more than institutional inertia.

      3. Whatever happened to all the changes that were made when the tunnel was closed for installation of LINK light rail? Of course Transit on 2nd Ave is a disaster the last few times I have observed it.

      4. So what do we think Seattle should do downtown during “The Gap” between buses leaving the tunnel and ST2 Link opening, with the deep-bore tunnel still being finished and after that demolishing the viaduct and rebuilding the waterfront? The City Center Connector alone cannot mitigate all of these.

      5. Good question, Mike. Ideally you would take more of the streets downtown. That should be the long term plan anyway. There will still be plenty of buses moving through downtown even after ST2 and even ST3 get built out.

      6. I think the City Center connector will also be being built at this time, so it’s more part of the problem than the solution as much or 1st Ave will be under construction too!

    2. It is bad enough the buses are going to be kicked out early for a ridiculous project (the city doesn’t need a bigger convention center). But to kick them out earlier than that would be pointless.

      Theoretically (this isn’t a given) you could run trains more often a few hours of the day. You can’t run them more than every six minutes down Rainier Valley (or to the airport). Nor is it likely that you would run them more often in the middle of the day (otherwise, they would do that right now). So at best you are talking about one section (downtown to the UW) that sees improved frequency. For those trips you would see average wait time improve by a whopping 90 seconds. In exchange you make every trip on those buses suffer from very slow travel times through downtown, which in turn means that everyone (even the people trying to get from Northgate to Westlake) suffer from unreliable service. All of this so that a *minority* of Link riders get a slight improvement in frequency. That hardly seems like a good idea to me.

      When Link gets to Northgate and Bellevue, the entire dynamic changes. The 41 and 550 go away, replaced by light rail. So now the number of people that would benefit from the increased frequency is actually a majority of the riders in the tunnel and likely a majority of Link riders.That was why everyone wanted to wait until then – but then some idiot thought that what the city really needed was a bigger convention center (maybe to spur business in this struggling town).

      1. I’ve only seen high floor versions up close, and those have the engine in the first segment.

    1. Those buses remind me of the period when air travel was beginning to make inroads against train travel as the preferred mode over long distances. The railroads response? Dress their trains up with all sorts of aerodynamic fairings to make them look more airplane like. It didn’t work.

      I get a little chuckle when I see those rear wheel covers on the Swift buses for the same reason. A train is a train and a bus is a bus. People just need to accept that.

      1. Actually, the streamlines were so significantly bettter at moving they had to develop new formulas for determining how much rolling resistance they had, and therefore how much horsepower was going to be needed on the front.

      2. Would you say the same thing about the singly-articulated buses that make up the majority of Seattle’s fleet? I’d say they’re a pretty practical solution when you need more capacity in a city with high labor costs. Even if the long-term capacity solution should involve rail (dubious in many applications of articulated or even double-articulated buses), you can get the buses a lot sooner than you can get the rails.

      3. @Lazarus, what do you think of rubber tyered metros? Are those trains even though they don’t run on rails? I don’t think people view say line 1 and line 2 of the Paris Metro differently just because one runs on rubber and the other doesn’t.

  4. Any one else notice this? On the KC Metro LRP service map (, on the 2040 setting, they actually have a bus route in the downtown Seattle transit tunnel. Go see for yourself.

    It’s an evolution of today’s route 101, that goes to the presumed new Renton transit center where S. Renton park and ride is now, takes the current path to Seattle, and goes straight from I-5 to the DSTT skipping SODO. Then it continues past the DSTT to Seattle Center north, then on to Elliott Ave W, terminating before Interbay. Aside from the obvious error in not removing it from the DSTT, there is quite a lot of redundancy with Link here. They could have it truncated at Rainier Beach or Boeing Access Road, and a transfer to the green line would cover the entirety of the northern part of the route, even including Seattle Center and the Elliot Ave tail.

    1. There are some odd quirks on the map that are probably just quirks and not actual signs of policy. Maybe it’s meant to run along 3rd on the surface?

      For example, Issaquah Link interlines at East Main and Wilburton station but takes it’s own path between them east of 405, missing the Bellevue TC. Presumably this is an error of the programmer who drew the line, not an insight into Metro’s thinking…

      There are also a few lines that would make sense to truncate at ST3 stations. Likely the LRP hasn’t been fully updated to take advantage of truncation points like BAR, S Kirkland, and Eastgate that weren’t guaranteed prior to the ST3 vote?

      1. In the case of South Kirkland, the rail extension was a late addition to the ST3 after the LRP was published. So they updated the map to include South Kirkland station, but I think it was too late to reconsider whether the bus routes still made sense (in any case, 25 years is a long enough time that they still need the bus upgrades before then).

        That jog east of I-405 for Issaquah Link is weird. Like you said, must be a programmer error.

        But there are a few places on the map where one senses KCM planners don’t approve of ST choices and will resist bailing them out.

      2. It’s in the DSTT, you can tell because of the way it turns right onto Pine street in a smooth curve and not a 90 degree angle, and also the way it exits the station on the north. It makes the weird curvy turn out of the then-non-existent Convention Place station. Also, it continues directly north instead of turning at Royal Brougham way, where the only road is the entrance to the tunnel.

    2. No bus routes would be operating in the DSTT, it’s a quirk of the map. As for truncation, identifying those opportunities was big part of the LRP effort, which did assume ST3.
      Still, IMO some of the Sound Transit projects perform so poorly in terms of travel time, especially for the South End, that for certain markets that Metro will be forced to maintain direct express service. Realistically probably much more than is shown in this network, although of course the competitiveness depends a lot on changes in freeway congestion.

      1. They are keeping the Federal Way express because of Link travel times. I’m sure the 101 alignment still performs better with a bus the whole way than a Link transfer, but in that case, the portion of the 101 that runs on I-5 is much shorter than Federal Way buses, and proportionally, the 101 runs on more of the congested part of the freeway entering downtown than the 60 MPH smooth sailing portion of the freeway, so the time cost of a Link transfer is much less for the 101 than Federal Way buses. There would also be a huge service hour reinvestment opportunity as well.

      2. Metro will take over the 577 to Federal Way it looks like. Remember that Link is not just for Federal Way to downtown but all the overlapping trip pairs in between, which the express buses do not serve.

        Metro has always considered the 101 more important than many of us do, so it’s not surprising it would continue to do so. Preserving its downtown express aspect because it’s so far from Link’s core is no different from preserving the 120 for the same reason.

  5. The Volvo bus reminds me of the 1976 disaster film parody The Big Bus, which featured a nuclear powered giant bus, complete with a one lane swimming pool and a one lane bowling alley.

      1. Considering the uni-directional nature of the north Sounder schedule, how did you get back? Once you’re there, there’s no train until the next morning.

        I’ve done this once before and it was pretty brutal – a 45 minute bus ride to Ash Way P&R with no schedule coordination whatsoever with the 512.

      2. I suffered that too because we meet my friend’s dad at Ivar’s there when he comes from Whidbey. But the Ash Way terminus was only during the worst of the recession;’ now it has returned to Lynnwood TC.

        I’ve never used Sounder North since it only goes southbound AM, northbound PM. But that’s OK because I used to take Cascades to Vancouver a lot so I’ve seen the view.

  6. The failure of Pronto to effectively serve Seattle is fairly obvious. I also have doubts that motorized bicycle rentals will help and I can only imagine the additional maintenance required for those vehicles. Why spend so much money on something that is systemically flawed?

    One thing that would seem to be more effective for Seattle to simply make itself more scooter-friendly. The line between a motorized bicycle and a scooter is simply the size of the engine. Someone can even buy an electric scooter nowadays.

    Scooters and motorized bicycles get a bum deal in Seattle, especially with parking! Parking rates are the same as cars, and the parking stickers stuck on scooters and motorized bicycles get stolen often. Designated parking for scooters and motorcycles is restricted to a handful of spaces in different neighborhoods, and scooters and motorcycles are parked in any hidden spaces that a rider can find in Downtown and in nearby neighborhoods; other major cities have created entire block faces devoted to parking for scooters and motorcycles.

    Another thing: If the intent is to provide motorized bicycle rentals, the City should look into a franchise system so that local businesses could oversee the rentals. I would think that a rental program sponsored by QFC or PCC or Trader Joes and nested within the store operation would have more success than a rental program that involve accepting the perceived risk of grabbing something just sitting on the street with a wet seat and could perhaps have an operational issue. I would be more likely to buy more groceries because things are on sale if I could get a rental with attached shopping baskets to get home, for example.

    1. Someone I know used to park their motorcycle in the company server room in their building in downtown Seattle. He was the only one that ever went in there so nobody noticed in the three years he was there.

      So, people do use considerable creativity.

    2. Pronto failure is yet another example of Seattle failing at transportation. For a city that owes much of its growth and character to transportation improvement, I find the irony inescapable. Maybe things went south when we became a software town. In software there is nothing wrong with simply trying new things and ignoring best practices (remember the talking paper clip?). Software is a try, fail, try again business. But it is disastrous from a transportation standpoint. OK, this is not necessarily the case with bike share. Bike share is so cheap (relative to other forms of transport) and the solution so obvious (and proven) that you can fail miserably for a while, and still manage to correct things easily (I wish that was the case with light rail, but it isn’t).

      The solution is to simply add more stations. Studies confirm this ( Station density and coverage are the key. Doing weird, unnecessary things like requiring a helmet doesn’t help, and making them electric should help, but if you don’t have station density and sufficient coverage, it will fail. That is why Pronto isn’t successful, and unless what replaces is better in that regard, you can expect the same results.

    3. It’s a matter of several things. Station location was one issue, but it wasn’t the only one. The pricing model required too much up-front commitment, and $8/day was too steep. Even the annual membership is too expensive if you don’t live and work along a corridor that would cause you to use it frequently. My first year of Pronto, I spent $93 on a membership (for some reason I don’t understand, Pronto collects sales tax, while other city-sponsored services do not) and rode a total of about 45 miles, at a rate of approximately $2.08/mile. If I wanted to, I could have ridden Uber for every Pronto trip I took the entire year and still paid less than what the membership cost. The second year, I rode it more, so the cost per mile was only $0.94 (with nearly all trips to/from the Montlake Triangle station that didn’t exist in the first year). Better, but still way above a typical car’s operating cost per mile ($0.54, according to the IRS). Needless to say, when my membership expired a few weeks ago, I did not renew, given the uncertainty about the continuity of the service.

      Then, there’s the issue that the bikes didn’t accommodate riders with anything to carry, who didn’t happen to have a backpack with them. The bungee cords were practically useless. Any kind of municipal bike share absolutely must use bikes with baskets on them to at least allow carrying a few basic things (like a purse or a water bottle).

      I’m hoping the new system does better, but I am somewhat pessimistic that it’s going to actually get off the ground. My gut feeling is that they’ll keep postponing the launch date by one more year for the next 2-3 years, at which point the city council will decide to just scuttle the whole thing.

      1. >> Station location was one issue, but it wasn’t the only one. The pricing model …

        Your anecdotal experience simply confirms what I (and the research said). “if you don’t live and work along a corridor that would cause you to use it frequently”, “nearly all trips to/from the Montlake Triangle station that didn’t exist in the first year” are just other ways of saying there aren’t enough stations. Not enough coverage, not enough station density.

        Again, I point to the research. What is it about Seattle that makes us reject studies of other cities? Why do we think we are a special snowflake? Is it because we are so far away from other cities? If you live in Boston or Philadelphia, you are close enough to other cities to see what works and what doesn’t. But in Seattle every time there is something new, we think we invented it, and are quick to point out why it will or won’t work here (or why the lessons and experience of other, similar cities is irrelevant).

        A quick search on the internet shows that our pricing is very similar to other cities that have been quite successful with bike share (those same cities shown in the research). We are actually cheaper than Biketown (Portland), which just launched. That system, by the way, has been quite successful, especially in the areas that have lots of stations. They aren’t a special snowflake either. Just a city that managed to apply best practices to a bike share system (imagine that).

        Oh, and Pronto bike baskets are very similar to those found in D. C., Montreal, New York …

  7. So does anyone have any opinions or analyses on the potential impacts a Secretary of Transportation Chao could have on federal policy re mass transit over the next 4 years?

    1. She’s a Drumpf pick so expect corruption, nepotism and kickbacks. So much for draining the swamp.

    2. That The Trump administration just declared “war” on a maker of breakfast cereal Is useful as an example of how difficult it is going to be to predict what this administration adopts as policies.

      The only stuff I’ve seen so far suggests relaxing regulations on the trucking industry. We’ll know more as the new direction settles in.

      1. Yeah… I’ve always got the impression that Trump could be the guy trying to sell me knock-off speakers in the Home Depot parking lot, but I usually assume there’s something wrong with anyone who wants to go into politics. There’s just this irony, it seems, that the people who should usually don’t and the people who shouldn’t are eager.

        Whoever that man is, hopefully we get something good out of him. I wonder if even he knows what he is going to do — i mean, besides “great” and “huge” things.

      2. Speaking of Home Depot, here is a good example of how not to design a building for good transit access (,-122.3447925,3a,75y,41.37h,80.57t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1su7HYiz0kgSDcd8FwHrZ15Q!2e0!7i13312!8i6656).

        Because of the fence, the only way to get from the E-line bus stop to the actual store is to walk along the sidewalk-less access road. (And if you think nobody ever shops at Home Depot without parking a car in their parking lot, look at the picture. When the Google Street View camera went buy, people are indeed, walking along the road.).

        What makes this case particularly egregious is that solving the problem wouldn’t require anything particularly expensive. Just punching a hole in the fence to allow pedestrians to cut through the parking lot would do the trick.

      3. I think those are day workers looking for jobs. The fence was probably installed to make it clear that the can’t loiter in the parking lot. But, yes, that’s a terrible fence. It would serve the same purpose even if it had an opening.

      4. @asdf2 — That sort of thing is very common and disgusting. I see no excuse for it either. Sometimes the store is simply trying to be cheap, because making a path sometimes won’t allow for ADA access. In this case, that isn’t the case. A break in the fence and some paint and you are done. The total disregard for folks who want to walk or take public transportation to stores is appalling.

      5. @asdf2
        Those are people blocking the road waiting for jobs, not trying to shop at Home Depot. I drive by here often. Up until recently, there were homeless people camping on the sidewalk along the road, blocking the sidewalk.

      6. Look closer. There is someone (on the left side of the road) who is clearly walking towards the store. The resolution isn’t good, but it appears to be an adult holding the hand of a small child.

      7. Re asdf2:
        I don’t want to get into an argument over something silly, but that is an adult talking to two adults sitting on the ground partially hidden by the bushes. If you’ve been here, you’d know exactly what I am talking about. If you go up to the other entrance to Home Depot, just up the road a block, you’ll see a sidewalk into the store. But trust me, those are people waiting for work, it’s their hangout, not a father and child walking to Home Depot.

    3. Pay no attention to words coming out of Trump & Co. He campaigned in a truth-free zone and shows every sign of governing the same way. The only thing that matters is what he *does.*

      1. His pick’s for his cabinet have already left a lot to be desired, and have already told a lot. Now there’s a lot of backpedaling on his campaign “promises” and he’s not even in office yet. I don’t expect any big gains for transit or rail under this administration, and probably a lot of losses. Although he is unpredictable so you never know…

    4. My guess is she will focus on breaking up unions, and cutting back federal funding on transit, especially transit that serves cities. So, basically, typical stuff for Republicans since they moved to the extreme right.

      1. Any insight into why you think that? I’m curious to know why you think she will act a certain way. I don’t know too much about how she will be in the transportation sector and would like to know more.

      2. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and poops out duck poop its probably a duck. I think your prediction is going to be pretty accurate.

    5. Trump has said some reasonable things, contradicting the Republican orthodoxy. But the people he’s appointing are right in the Republican orthodox extremes: religious right, privatize everything, climate deniers, anii-untion, bomb people and show America’s tough, etc. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, Paul Ryan, Mike Pence, and Justice Scalia would approve of all of them except the conspiacy theorists/alt-righters. So why is Trump appointing the opposite of what he said he would? It looks like he’s totally capitulating to the establishment (except the conspiracy theorists and hotheads), but he says he’s not as weak as that, so why is he voluntarily doing it?

      However, Chao from the descriptions sounds like she’s not on an anti-transit, anti-train crusade so maybe she’ll be reasonable on that. Will it be a reflection of the larger election where we got ST3 but also got Trump? Will transit be relatively safe but everything else will go to hell? But she will be on an anti-union crusade, and that’s worrying because transit organizations are unionized and could be collateral damage.

  8. I really think folks up here should count their blessings. Let me give a few reasons:

    a) I mean down in Trimet-land, there’s an effort to split up the operators’ union and Trimet management are stalling negotiations for a new contract until the new year. For some details, watch this:

    b) Up in Skagit, it just isn’t cost-effective to reactivate our rails & railroad beds for transit (see Trimet’s WES, see Sound Transit’s Sounder). We have other very real “transit problems” (as I prefer to call them) up here in Skagit like Paratransit gobbling up service hour dollars, a tried & failed effort to extend demand transit into a rural area that ended up costing $64 per trip, and connecting better to county connector routes to connect to Bellingham & Everett/Paine Field.

    So I don’t want to hear any more bellyaching about how gawdawful Sound Transit is. You are damn lucky you don’t have hourly or worse frequency to where you want to go, no ORCA option, no Double Talls, no Seattle Subway or Transportation Choices to push things along, and little hope of significant improvement or hiring a Sound Transit 2nd stringer/backup.

    Count your blessings. You have many. Be grateful you got what you got folks, because what Seattle has is undeniably the jewel of the region.

    1. Paratransit is always going to “gobble” up service hour dollars. Its an unfunded federal mandate to help the most vulnerable in our community. Unfortunately the reality is that its also the most expensive kind of service to provide, and there’s not a lot you can do to seriously control its costs. Efficient software to schedule trips helps, but you cannot deny transportation or significantly alter someone’s trip to make it more efficient for the operator. For example, you cannot deny someone’s trip who wants to go clear to the other side of the service area and back twice a day to go shopping. These kinds of trips happen, its perfectly legal, you cant say you will go to the nearest grocery store of your choice. As America Ages, those seeking to use the system will only increase, which will increase the number of trips and the cost. Changing the system would be a political nightmare, bad press all around and would have to start at the top. Does it need reform? I think so. As Capt. Spock said at the end of Star Trek II, The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. And I think if you were able to shift service away from paratransit to fixed route, it would benefit everyone including the former paratransit riders. One final note on the subject. I have a limited understanding of how your eligibility is determined, but I think they factor access to a bus stop into it. If you live on a road without good sidewalks I think this tends to help give you access into the paratransit system. Which is another reason why we need good connected sidewalks in our urban cities, and suburban areas.

  9. Why isn’t ST integrating the Roosevelt station into a larger mixed-use building (such as an apartment or retail building)? This is common elsewhere but ST seems to avoid anything of the sort.

    I hope that ST will be more proactive with its underground stations on the Ballard/West Seattle lines. This would serve a double purpose of increasing density at the station (less wasted land just for station entrances!) and would help recoup construction costs. A win win for taxpayers and ST.

    1. ST changed its policy a couple years ago. Previously it was neutral in density debates to avoid being villified by both sides. That was the era Roosevelt station was designed in, and I also recall it’s not designed for rthe weight of a building on top. Now ST has acknowleged density and walkability are essential to the greatest success of its infrastructure so it’s pro density, and is also reserving its surplus land after construction for affordable housing. The problem with being first is being worst.

    2. You clearly weren’t reading this blog a few years ago, during the three month long pitched battle between STB, the Stranger, the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association, Mike McGinn, and the ghostly, derelict hand of Hugh Sisley. If you search back for “Roosevelt zoning” you will find thousands of words on the subject and most of them will make you sad.

    3. The tl;dr version: ST had to design the station to fit within the zoning on the lot. That zoning would have only allowed 2 or 3 stories on top of the station. Changing the station design to accommodate the weight of those floors would cost more than the floors would be worth. ST made the financially prudent decision given the zoning and chose not the build the extra floors.

    4. ST is planning to have a large building integrated with one of the entrances of U District station. Assuming the open space NIMBYs in the U District don’t win the day.

      And there will be TOD on top of Capital Hill station.

      1. I thought CHS was not capable of having anything built “ontop” of it? or can they build around the station but not actually build a structure ontop of the entrances?

      2. I don’t know if any of the CHS entrances will be integrated with the TOD buildings. IIUC, the tunnel and undergound concourses will have the festival street above it and the TOD will be onsite, but off to the side of the excavated part.

    5. ST will surplus the construction staging area adjacent to Roosevelt Station. There’s plenty of capacity there to build housing. Whatever could’ve been built over the station box can be more easily built next to it.

    6. Bring back the QFC that was on the lot before ST demolished it to make way for the Roosevelt station, and put reasonably-priced apartments above it.

    1. Cool. Any word on the UBC extension? Last I heard the federal government was going to chip in and help finish it, but I don’t know the schedule. That seems like the next big thing up there.

      1. This is still in financial limbo; however, planning for it is proceeding and funded in the latest transit plan. This past summer trucks were drilling core samples along Broadway to fill out the geotechnical profile. The city has also purchased a few key properties where stations would go.

  10. Look long-term. With an ageing population, moving walkways (provided they are maintained) will be essential for anyone who isn’t young and fit. They can also be especially beneficial to families with children whose legs aren’t yet strong enough to handle the walk.

  11. So the Capitol Hill article was about replacing a very old (for Seattle) three story building with a six story building. This sort of thing only happens if:

    1) Rent prices are very high.

    2) The city has placed very onerous and misguided restrictions on development.

    Of course the latter leads to the former.

    1. Will Anapurna be displaced? ST worked hard with them to stay open during station construction.

      That the replacement building will be only six stories is a crime against future renters, who will in turn get displaced when it is demolished to build a nine-story building once the NIMBY’s allow that much height next to a major train station. Just six stories across the street from Capitol Hill Station? Are you [colorful language] kidding me? The developer should hold up and wait for a real upzone. If he is paying attention to the politics of the Capitol Hill Community Council, it has been liberated by renters, who will probably have the developer’s back, if he is patient to go back through the process.

      1. It’s unclear whether Annapurna would be able to afford the new rent. As for upzoning, the fact that the owner has proposed something and perobably started looking for financing may mean it doesn’t want to throw away its preparation so far. Somebody could talk to the owner and see if they could be convinced to pursue an upzone and a taller building. . We could also offer public comment for a taller building to the design review board, and that could blow its mind if a lot of people do. It could become the first building where the neighbors ask for something bigger.

  12. Volvo has introduced the world’s most uncomfortable bus, double-articulated, trying to stuff 300 passengers into a space slightly longer than an LRV. I assume there is limited seating.

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