STB has done a deep dive into the street overhauls and bus service restructures being considered by the One Center City project. If you haven’t already done so, please Participate in the online open house, and Comment at the site. The comment form is just an open-form text box, and there are no surveys to complete.

As we wrote in our Tuesday editorial, we believe in:

  • Increasing transit priority throughout Center City, but especially on 3rd Avenue
  • Delaying Convention Center construction until new Link vehicles arrive to replace lost capacity
  • Maximizing the person-carrying capacity of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel
  • Option B for Pike-Pine
  • Option D for North-South Streets
  • Building the Basic Bike Network without delay
  • Providing dedicated resources for enforcement of bus lanes and box blocking
  • Approving the proposed truncation of SR 520 Routes at UW Station
  • Improving the transfer environment at UW Station
  • Canceling or revising the proposed truncations of Routes 41 and 550
  • Approving the proposed West Seattle-First Hill restructure

We hope that you will take a few minutes to comment in favor of these principles and ideas. Comments are due by Friday. For more background, our posts on One Center City can be found here.

36 Replies to “Action Alert: One Center City Comments Due Friday”

  1. Or, delay Convention Center construction until East Link opens, or at least Northgate Link.

    1. This. Or wait until the CCC is built. Or a year. Silly that we have such a manufactured crisis on our hands. Nothing time-sensitive about the convention center expansion.

  2. Don’t truncate the SR-520 routes at UW station UNLESS an agreement is reached to improve the transfer environment AND service frequency is increased to 15 minutes on evenings and weekends on the 255 and 545 replacement routes.

    Because based on past experience neither will be done and it will not only totally suck for 520 riders, but cost political and voter support on the Eastside.

    1. What past experience are you pointing to about service frequency? I’m pessimistic on station environment issues, but at least Metro has greatly increased frequency recently.

      1. The frequency increases have been in Seattle mostly with new voter approved tax revenue. I’m not aware of any frequency increases or added service on the Eastside in years. Even though there are many trips with regular standing loads. Plus unless they get transfer improvements, lots of platform hours are going to be wasted while the buses head north of NE 45th St to layover or turn around. There aren’t facilities around UW station for any more buses to layover in the present configuration.

        Without transfer improvements this change will cost ridership, at least off-peak as it lengthens trip times, adds unreliability due to the Montlake Bridge openings and Montlake Blvd congestion, and the bad transfer environment. So there won’t necessarily be ridership justification for increased frequencies.

        In any event, call me skeptical but unless the proposal calls out the increased frequency, there is no reason to expect it will be provided.

      2. Metro itself included rerouting the 255 to UW Station and Children’s in some of the U-Linkrestructure proposals, and it may come back in the next Eastside restructure. Even if its service hours to get to Children’s are now taken by the 78, there would be a lot of hours freed if it doesn’t go downtown. Oh, and did I mention the 255 never uses the express lanes and sometimes gets caught in long traffic jams between the Denny Way exit and the Convention Place entrance?

      3. If alternative 1 from two years ago is a precedent, a truncation of the 255 and 545 would almost certainly result in 15-minute frequencies on evenings and weekends, at least until 10 PM. It may also buy some frequency improvements to the 271, as well, like not having it drop to hourly service on weekends as early as 7 PM.

    2. Seems to me that it would be a disaster to truncate the SR-520 routes at the UW station until they fix the escalators and make sure that they do not break down again.

      1. The nadir was last month when three of the four surface escalators were broken, leading to one “up” escalator and no “down” escalator. Two weeks ago both northern escalators were fixed, and I’ve been using them ever since. The remaining southern escalator is I believe waiting for a custom part.

    3. They truncated the 71,72, 73 buses and I don’t see much difference. The transfer may be painful, but they made it for it with a lot more bus frequency in the region.

      1. I should be clear. I don’t see much difference between truncating the 71, 72 and 73 and truncating the 520 buses. In both cases you have a forced transfer, but you make up for it with extra service (and avoiding freeway congestion).

  3. Zach, and Glenn, I’m glad to see that you put maintaining joint rail-bus operations in the DSTT until we no longer need them. Since they’ve been my life’s best work, I’ll do whatever I can to help. Given a a snowball’s chance in Hell.

    So tomorrow’s comments to the authorities need to include a non-negotiable demand that King County Metro Transit demonstrate the slightest interest in running joint operations, ending 12 years of grudgingly letting them happen. Starting with:

    1. Pending revival of signal system, post supervisors with flags if need be, to dispatch those exact two routes, the 41 and the 550, into the Tunnel by headway- time between buses- instead of runcards. Right now, hundred percent, five buses wait in the Tunnel while the first one overloads and turns people away every station.

    2. Rubber-band paper towels over fare-boxes at first portal, and use both doors. Inform the public that DSTT is becoming “Proof of Payment”. Have fare inspectors circulate in a friendly manner advising people of the coming change that’s going to happen really fast. During re-design, saved operating time will more than balance lost revenue.

    3. While training courses are being set up, post instructors in base ready-rooms giving drivers general information about main points of DSTT operation, and also specifics like how to restart a hybrid after standard computer-related shut-down.

    4. King County Metro Transit, Sound Transit, and ATU Local 587, cooperate to set up a special social media site for DSTT operations. As prep for general arrangements for train and bus operators to be able to speak with each other during work hours.

    5. And the two transit agencies make it Gross Misconduct for any official to use term “Separate Agencies” to excuse any service obstacle.

    Failing which, get those buses to the surface fast as decently possible. Because otherwise, present service quality at any Friday afternoon pm rush, let alone any unusual stres, could give an ST-3 recall a higher purpose than lower car tabs.

    CC: Sound Transit Board including King County Executive, Mayor if Seattle, and Sound Transit CEO.

    Mark Dublin

      1. Fact the system is there at all is proof they paid enough taxes to build the system. Whose present condition is evidence they’re owed a lot of transit in return for the amount of their tax money lost to decades of substandard operations.

        Everybody with a monthly pass has already paid full fare for a month. Meaning just having the pass should give fare inspectors liberty to forget about tapping for the duration.

        But if I didn’t make myself clear, have the buses do what LINK’s been doing since its opening. Every DSTT platform Proof of Payment.

        Tomorrow rush hour, just spend a couple of hours up and down the Tunnel, watching 41’s and 550’s crawl 1.3 miles in empty platoons of four, led by a fifth loaded ’til the tires can’t turn. With the fare box, and attendant discussions, turn a 60′ bus into a long one-door van.

        Penny unwise. Dollar Dumb as a Dumptruck with the battery Dead.

        Mark

      2. The DSTT ORCA readers give a tap-on to Link. The reader won’t know if you’re getting onto a train or a bus unless there are separate readers for buses, and then how will they deal with one zone vs two zone? If an offboard reader is set to one zone and you’re riding two zones or vice-versa you’re supposed to pay at the driver instead, but that’s what we’re trying to eliminate.

        Paper tickets would require a vending machine, either the Link TVMs or Metro kiosks. Reprogramming the Link TVMs may be expensive under the contract, and are there enough TVMs to avoid long lines?

    1. I really don’t understand the huge rush for the convention center. It’s already a huge place. It’s been the way it is now for years.

      Are there really that many conventions being turned away due to its size?

      Are they really ones that would come to Seattle anyway? If you have a huge convention in the northwest the place to have it is Vancouver BC. The visa obstacle for international visitors is vastly less of an issue for Canada, while the USA gets worse every week. Seattle isn’t going to solve that problem.

      1. The only events I’m aware of that are maxing out the convention center now are Emerald City Comic Con in March and PAX in September. ECCC weekend tickets sold out in less than 30 minutes this year. But it’s Seattle’s big entertainment convention, it’s not like they can move it to another city. PAX is likewise an event that was always in Seattle and is unlikely to move out of the region just for more capacity. I wonder how many other events would actually consider Seattle only if we had a bigger convention center.

      2. Perhaps Town Hall, City Hall, Seattle Central College, and UW could offer space for sessions. Most of them are a walk or horizontal elevator ride away now.

        Seattle Central and UW are underutilized on weekends.

      3. The convention center expansion is not only a bad idea (not cost effective) but the center itself is in the wrong place. I was talking with someone who works there, and he said the problem is really that you can’t expand or shrink with the needs of a convention. Only a handful of conventions need the extra space. The best place to put a convention center is someplace with a big parking lot, like the stadiums. That way you can just put up big tents with overflow space.

        Thus one of the best place for the convention center is where they are thinking of adding a basketball and hockey arena. The convention center area, on the other hand, would be a great place for a new arena, as not only is transit to it great, but thousands of people could walk to the game. Seattle is doing it all backwards — building a convention center in one of the most densely populated parts of the city, and building an arena in one of the least.

      4. The idea is also to be able to host multiple smaller conventions simultaneously.

        That said, it’s still a terrible idea. Ross is right – that spot is a great spot for an arena.

  4. Thanks for the reminder.

    One easy, low-cost suggestion I had was to re-stripe barely-used 9th Avenue between Pike and Pine/Olive/Stewart from one-way to two-way. The purpose would be help connect inbound a.m. I-5 S. Express lane carpools and buses to downtown, Denny Triangle & South Lake Union.

    I realize tunnel buses exit at Convention Place – but obviously carpools and vanpools cannot; also, I’m assuming the KCM site will be shut down for a couple years when the new convention center is being built.

    Currently, buses, carpools and vanpools get stuck in traffic on all I-5 exits *except* Pike. My morning carpool sails right through the Pike St. HOV exit, but we are soon jammed up in a sea of SOV traffic after crossing under the convention center and merging with cars exiting on Union.

    Allowing buses and carpools to make a right onto 9th (which is perpetually empty) off that Pike HOV exit would provide HOV riders with direct access to Stewart, Denny Triangle, Westlake, the Streetcar and SLU.

    Wondering if anybody else saw some value in that, at least for carpools, vanpools, uberPOOLs, etc.

  5. What sacrifices are being made by personal, private automobile drivers in the One City Center options? How many people who choose to drive into downtown Seattle, alone in their own cars, will be forced to have their drives “truncated?” I’m confused — why are transit riders bearing the heaviest brunt of the changes?

    I’m serious, I’m really wondering this.

    1. Jort, in the light of possible fate if thousands of people trapped for eight hours, maybe in cars that crumple and explode if provoked, because one truck turned over…

      You might want to research whether the Governor of the State of Washington has the authority at least to order that enough BAE (Bus And Emergency) lanes be diligently kept open, city, county, and state, permanently.

      Fact that I haven’t heard or read anybody say “Death Trap” proves either mass lack of imagination, or generations of life-times that never had a ‘quake go off and set an example for whole linear parking lots full of fuel tanks.

      Tell us what you find.

      Mark

  6. Regarding the convention center: Won’t they need a ton of construction permits the city can refuse to issue? Scheduling expansion during this window is just irresponsible. Even if they sue, judicial proceedings might delay the project long enough to avert some of the worst overlap. At the very least the public should be seeing a more concrete benefit — like an I-5 lid — for the unnecessary headache.

  7. I don’t get how having the 545 truncate at UW is even on the table. It is one of the busiest routes in the system. Convincing the riders that “Oh, BTW” your commute just got 20 minutes or more longer (effectively doubling it for those that get on at Overlake) is acceptable. The ride in the morning from Redmond Transit Center is less than 30 minutes to Stewart and Yale,

    The taking an extra 40 minutes at least round trip is one way to make your customers upset.

    1. Assuming WSDOT can get it through their heads that a large number of people exiting 520 at Montlake are on buses and actually make the off-ramp work for buses, it wouldn’t be so bad. Right now on a bus, you spend 10-15 minutes on the ramp, 2-4 minutes getting to Pacific, and then another 5 minutes walking to the station. When the ramp is empty, it only adds another minute (worst case) while you wait for the light, and then 7-10 minutes to get to the station. Given that ST bakes in 11 minutes for Montlake->5th & Pine on the 545 at peak, and 6 minutes for UW->Westlake on Link, it seems like you’re only looking at an extra 5 minutes or so, and a much more reliable trip (no merge of doom from 520 to I-5 to the offramp anymore).

      Of course, this assumes that WSDOT can figure out how to design roads for anything but SOV.

    2. I’m curious why the plan doesn’t also recommend truncating all personal solo-driving vehicle trips at the UW station?

      Nobody has explained to me how this is something bus riders should just “accept” yet the solo car driver will not have to change a single thing about their driving methods and habits. Why are we trying to support ANY plan that doesn’t require concessions of car drivers at the same level that we’re asking concessions of bus riders?

      1. I don’t think the city, Metro, or ST could force SOV operators to change their behavior. I wonder, though, whether the city could impose congestion tolling on traffic on traffic entering downtown.

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