Link train at Westlake Station

This is an open thread.

46 Replies to “News Roundup: Of Interest to Us”

  1. Democrat state senators Bob Hasegawa and Guy Palumbo continue to vote for knee-capping Sound Transit’s governance and replacing it with a gerrymandered board. Maralyn Chase and Christine Rolfes moved to the Yay column. Jeannie Darnielle and Steve Conway joined the rest of the Democrats in the nay column.

    1. This is an example of why I have in the past characterized you as a Republican. The adjective is “Democratic“, especially when referring to the party’s office-holders.

      The use of “Democrat” as an adjective came from the fever-swamps of right-wing radio, and is typically said with an emphasis on the final syllable: “Democ-rat“.

      There have been times in the past when similar phrasings slipped out. Perhaps “Republican” isn’t accurate. Maybe “Libertarian”?

      1. Thank you Richard. The Democratic Party’s hypocrisy is only bested by the Republican Party. I am now an Independent and will be spending quite some time scouring the voter’s pamphlet and on the e-mail + if need be phone asking tough questions of candidates.

        I would be happy to defend my position of electing transit boards. I just learned the other day we will have elected boards for a local level before the state legislature next year.

    2. You can’t demonize an ordinary English usage that people use all the time just because some right-wing jocks use it as an insult. It’s not their phrase, it’s everybody’s. In English, any noun can be used as an adjective. “The car. The car seat. The car seat headrest.” If you take the -ic of Democratic you get Democrat, which is a person in the party. That’s why you can do it with Democratic but you can’t do it with Republican. The party is also known as “the Democrats”, and if you use a noun as an adjective you usually take off the plural -s, which gets you back to “democrat”. People have been saying it forever but nobody noticed until this right-wing insult appeared. Just because Rush Limbaugh says “the Democrat party” insultingly doesn’t mean the phrase itself is insulting and everybody else should stop using it.

      1. Yes any common (e.g “non-proper”) noun can be used as an adjective, though sometimes rather clumsily. That is not true of proper nouns. You can’t say “The Bill car.” You would say “Bill’s car” or “The car like Bill’s” depending on the context.

        You can use “A (or a) Democrat” or the collective “Democrats” as a subject or predicate nominative, but NOT as a possessive.

        It is and always has been either an insult or the mark of an illiterate hillbilly speaker. You don’t want to be one of those do you?

      2. It’s commonly used phrasing without any of the connotations you ascribe to it. Jeez. No one likes a pedant.

      3. Perhaps you communicate only with the Twitter generation who cannot form a complex, grammatically correct sentence. In my 50 years of adult life, including stints in New England, Texas and Alaska as well as the Northwest, I have not heard any educated person use “Democrat” as an adjective except as an insult.

        It simply sounds — and is — illiterate or a slur.

        The proper adjective is “Democratic”. Period.

        Sorry for being a pedant, but far too much of what passes for “communication” these days shows a serious lack of effort on the part of the sender.

      4. Perhaps I was in my late 30s when Twitter started, and I still don’t have an account. To me all these right-wing insults are newfangled. When I first heard somebody on a talk show saying “Democrat” for “Democratic” was an insult I couldn’t believe it, and I think it has gone way too overboard. I also used to say nucular, does that sound illiterate to you too? It was just in the dialect when I grew up, like not pronouncing the l in folk, yolk, salmon, calm, psalm. It was only after years of saying Spanish ‘nuclear’ and Russian ‘nuklearny’ that it spilled over into in English and I realized I had unconsciously switched to nuke-lee-er at some point.

  2. Re: Vine
    Based on the article, it sounds comparable to “”””Rapid”””Ride in terms of “BRT-like” amenities, except that it runs in mixed traffic 100% of the time. Now, I don’t know what traffic conditions are like along its route, but I would assume it’s a fairly busy corridor where a dedicated lane would make a big difference. Why do C-Tran and the media unironically keep calling it BRT when it’s obviously not that, and might even, dare I say it, be inferior to RapidRide?

    1. There are comments on the Vine article here on STB that argue that traffic doesn’t effect it that much and it might even be better then RapidRide in terms of speed.

      1. Exactly right, Bob. Fourth Plain is relatively lightly traveled because SR500 is a half mile away and has several accesses to the neighborhood. The cross streets which (barely) qualify as “arterials” — all of them except Grand and Andresen — are only a few blocks long and also have relatively light traffic. So nobody suffers fron the rather light signal priority. There is no “pre-emption” at all and no priority at Andresen or Grand, so the line’s effect on traffic is minimal.

      2. Continuing

        The main reason the line is so much faster is the stop diet. About ten stops in each direction along Fourth Plain were removed. The srcond is level boarding and off-board fare collection; these are great!

        The third reason is the use of McLaughlin to get into Uptown. The fourth is the priority.

        Add it all up and the line is a BIG improvement.

    2. Because no one knows what to call it besides BRT. “Enhanced bus service” would be a good term, but ultimately, like “light rail” and “streetcar” there is nothing really to designate it being effective or not. With rail we put up with it, figuring that the term means rail, which might be stuck in traffic or not. While I’ve argued the same thing (don’t call it BRT unless it meats IDTP standards) I’ve given up, as I have with rail. You really have to look at the details to determine whether it will be effective or not. You can’t tell much of anything about a system just by the term they use for it, although I do give Seattle credit for calling it Madison BRT and Roosevelt HCT. It is clear they know that one will be a lot faster than the other.

    3. It’s a busy urban arterial, but other than stopping at the (somewhat frequent) stoplights, it’s not very congested. Usually no more than a few cars at each light cycle and all the cars get through.

    4. Was just chatting to a transit planner who travels the country pretty constantly. She said that just as streetcars were tarnished by rinky-dink lines that were more political toys than transit, BRT creep is really beginning to damage the mode’s brand. Anecdotally, she’s seeing a renewed interest in streetcars at the expense of BRT, but only in so-called rapid streetcars featuring grade-separation, dedicated ROW, TSP, etc.

      1. That doesn’t suprise me, considering it seems to used as a buzzword that is a lot of hot air in reality. I see a lot of people screaming that we should build BRT instead of light rail. And when pressed for an explanation for their reasoning or how they would implement such a plan, most either go silent or throw out a lot of hyperbolic nonsense. I’ve seen very few who can articulate and describe how they would do it, which reinforces what I said earlier.

      2. Similar to the politics here, perhaps people recognize the the best way to ensure things like dedicated ROW is to use rail as the mode.

      3. Not “grade-separation” for a streetcar. That would definitely become “Light Rail”. I think you mean “reserved”, like the median running in Nineteenth Avenue by SF State or on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. Of course, both those systems have grown into being “LRT”, but they started as streetcar lines.

      4. You might know better than I if you are in the field, Richard. I have often seen and sometimes use “grade-separated” to describe a lowered BRT or streetcar transitway that — depending on configuration — prevents or at the very least reduces use by vehicles in adjacent general-purpose lanes.

      5. Such a transitway as that you describe is great! But it doesn’t eliminate transit/non-transit conflicts. That is what “grade separated” usually –and, really, always should — mean.

        What you describe is the best form of reservation available within the roadway envelope. Somewhat better is wider-than-strictly-necessary median running, because it creates a buffer between the transit vehicles and others. Having different pavement in the transitway or as you describe a raised “curb” between the trains and other traffic (Church between Market and Seventeenth) reduces trespass.

        But the best form of “reservation” is private ROW, like the Riverside Line in Boston, the Norristown High Speed Line west of Philadelphia or Westside MAX. Even still, they are not free of conflicts at road crossings.

        I personally believr that the Green Line of Link north of the Expedia stop should run “at grade” next to Interbay Yard. It would put the Dravus Station closer to the esdt slope of Magnolia Ridge, an area much more likely to be densified than the West Slope of Queen Anne.

        It would be “at-grade” but “private reserved ROW”.

      6. It would also set up the line for a tunnel under Salmon Bay, allowing the Central Ballard station to be at 17th NW rather than 15th with it’s hideously wide streets.

        Grant that 14th NW is ripe for big redevelopment.

      7. @Richard Bullington – agreed, I’ve had the same thought when looking at the geography of that alignment. The cost savings of running at grade would help offset some of the additional costs of the tunnel.

      8. AJ, Thanks. I also appreciate your response to my long posts on Yvr Luytens’ Page 2. So far as the Phinney Ridge idea, of course I agree with you. Unless and until the City agrees that there should be a row of high rises crowing the ridge it doesn’t make any sense to run a subway through there.

        But what a spectacular place for a properly separated strip of high rises! By “properly separated” I mean something like the high rises in downtown Vancouver BC. The buildings are rather randomly “checker-boarded” so everyone has sight lines.

  3. Annoyed at Mercer Island’s obstructing of Link, I wrote them a comment

    As a non-islander, I admit my primary interest is that link is constructed in a timely fashion and without cost overruns. But for the interests of islanders themselves, have you put as much effort into making sure there will be frequent busses to the new station from every part of the island? From when I attended Islander Middle, I recall 12 bus routes was enough to get people from all parts of the island in a timely fashion.

    They responded rather promptly with

    As you may know, Metro drastically reduced bus service on Mercer Island and around the County in 2014.  While a new commuter shuttle service has been instituted between Mercer Island and Seattle’s 1st Hill area, adequate bus service remains a key issue for Mercer Island residents.  As you suggest, ensuring last mile connections to transit is one of the City’s top priorities for negotiations with Sound Transit.

    So I checked out Mercer Island transit. What I found is token transit. There are a handful of routes with a handful of runs.
    I had a thought. Mercer Island is a wealthy city. The residents will only want to ride first class bus service. Five to ten minute headways, everyone gets a comfortable seat, wifi. Since Mercer Island is not very dense, they don’t need large metro busses. They are a perfect use case for contracting the same bus agency Microsoft and Amazon use.

    Since the vast majority of jobs and destinations are either off island or in downtown, it would make sense for to have all the bus routes to have stops in a residential district, then a downtown stop and a park and ride stop. I doubt many want to get stuck in traffic on I5 or I405, but the park and ride is way too small for even a small portion of MI. With 5-10 minute headways at peak and 15 minute off peak, I think it would be very popular.

    Maybe MI could make some deals. They could bargain with ST to pay for some of it. Could they also save money by removing the Metro routes? Since they have money, they could pay for whatever they can’t get others to pay for

    1. Mercer Island could be a model community for a slow-moving driverless shuttle system on city streets in a few years. The lack of higher-speed streets (except for I-90) make it easier to create an operation which has a max speed of 20 or 30 mph depending on how the technology progresses. That would allow for driverless vehicles to be waiting at the rail station at all times of day. I wouldn’t expect it until at least 2023.

      1. Totally agree. Whether it’s done by Metro or if MI does it itself (with some Metro money), I think it’s the perfect road & land use environment for driverless shuttles, with the light rail station as the hub.

        It could happen earlier, especially if a company (Uber, Google, etc. ) wants to use it has a demonstration project, given the island makes for a limited environment.

    2. I had a thought. Mercer Island is a wealthy city. The residents will only want to ride first class bus service.

      There’s your problem. Rich people on Mercer Island just drive, that’s why they focus so much on access to HOV lanes with SOVs.

      1. Rich people are choice riders. They will take transit if it is both cost and time competitive.

  4. I think the Seattle Times editorial board has it right today.
    “The construction zone at the Overlake park-and-ride makes dropping off a friend or family member in a safe and legal way nearly impossible. Sound Transit should have included a drop-off site in its construction plans. On the first day after the lot closed, cars were making dangerous U-turns after dropping off passengers …

    “Before the closure, signs posted at the Overlake Transit Center and information online said those popular bus routes would keep running after the lot closes. Now people need to figure out how to get to those buses.”

    It’s absurd that ST has highlighted that the bus routes will continue to go by the closed park and rides but that they haven’t planned for a kiss-and-ride dropoff.

    1. There’s a pullout on 156th Ave. where the 245 stops. Could drivers use that for pick-up/drop-off?

      1. Typically drivers aren’t allowed to use bus pullouts.

        While it might actually be OK (i.e. not obstruct the transit system unreasonably) for a small number of quick drop-offs, pick-ups usually require cars to be parked longer (drivers are waiting for passengers), and involve many cars picking up at the same time (all the passengers arrive at once because they’re on the same transit vehicle). Pick-ups are sort of like ferry-boarding traffic: cars pile up and pile up until the big vehicle comes, then they go away… at the point the big vehicle arrives there’s a high peak of car storage needed. So pick-ups take quite a lot of space — they do at every important suburban commuter transit station I’ve ever seen. On streets that are otherwise low-traffic this isn’t so bad (I once saw a station where the pick-up drivers just parked their waiting cars right in the general traffic lane — I guess anyone going anywhere else just took a different street), but 156th is a multi-lane arterial with lots of other traffic.

  5. Also of interest in the Times today:

    “As free park-and-ride lots overflow, King County Metro and Diamond Parking are launching a partnership to sell reserved spaces near popular transit lines….

    “These lots and garages typically have idle spaces midday, compared with busier nights and weekends. Most are a short walk from commuter or RapidRide buses, while the Kent site is near the Sounder train station.

    “’Historically, transit parking has been free. I think we’re reaching a tipping point here that a lot of the lots that the public sector is operating are full early in the morning, and customers are looking for other opportunities,’ said Daniel Rowe, a Metro planner managing the project. People surveyed said they’re willing to pay $2 to $3 a day.”

  6. Got this email

    My take, we need blood to transfuse into all those drivers who didn’t make it to the state park parking.

    1. Ok, so I got the above word press link from the comment policy, but I think that only applies to admins. I think this is the policy for other commenters

  7. Retail space sizes are an grossly overlooked issue in conversations about zoning, density and development. The City should definitely do something to reduce the size of retail spaces, whether that is restrictions on square footage or incentives or something else. Building financiers have zero interest in creating the lively walkable commercial streets that people love and urbanists dream of creating. Financiers are very happy to wait with vacant storefronts until a corporate tenant comes along that will pay high rents. They do not want small independent businesses, because these are seen as less reliable. Development relies on a social contract between developers and financiers and citizens of a city. They need to be held accountable to enhance the social good when they are given the right to make a profit changing the fabric of the city.

  8. Went to Federal Way for a third-run movie I hadn’t seen. Theater right across street from TC; all seats $2-3. Is the 197 still running from the U-district? Yes it is, 5:15pm, 45 min trip, arctic bus mostly full. Beastly traffic at Lake Union; I thought of Agent 007 Mark Dublin and his traffic. But South of downtown it was smooth sailing the rest of the way; not many cars. First stop was KDM P&R; so that’s who uses it. Got to theater, decent deli next door.

    After movie intended to take A, 574, or 577. Not looking forward to SeaTac transfer rigamarole, is the elevator still broken? I’d completely forgotten that Angle Lake station existed; hadn’t been there since opening day. But as I approached FWTC I remembered, and thought that even if a 574 comes first it’s better to take the A and transfer at Angle Lake. Luckily the A came immediately.

    Beaugiful view of Sound at sunset between Dash Point Road and 280th. Took an even 30 minutes to Angle Lake. Walking up stairs reminds me of Chicago el. Train shimmies heavily from Angle Lake to Rainier Beach; hard to write post with the shaking. Would’ve been worse if I’d handwritten it.

    1. Mike, I think the Sea-Tac elevator is fixed. However, since 574 is getting road-killed by traffic coming out of Tacoma, resulting in shift from Sea-Tac to Angle Lake,haven’t checked elevator first-hand in awhile.

      However, in the TOP (Transit-Oriented-Pigeon) world, LINK and Chicago ‘El each lack one important thing the other has.

      None of LINK’s outdoor platforms have coin operated peanut machines with loud fire-arms quality “clicks” that result in clouds of Chicago “loop” pigeons migrating between platforms. At least they did 60 years ago.

      But Tukwila International pigeons inhabit what is probably a legendary holy place in the pigeon world: A giant arching canopy in whose ironwork whole generations of pigeons go to die.

      Outclassing the Bahai Temple in Evanston- which luckily for it isn’t close enough to the ‘El tracks to attract any pilgrims. Tukwila acolytes also called Structural Maintenance superstitiously believe that pigeon droppings eat away steel.

      Though if that were really the case, the whole Downtown Loop of the Chicago ‘El would have caved in a century ago. Except maybe 1917 iron casting had pigeon related skills since lost.

      Speaking of which, another sad deficiency of the viaduct from Angle Lake to Rainier Beach is that while tracks seem to be a lot worse than any of the ones I remember, LINK doesn’t make any wheels-on-curves noises that George Gershwin could have used for a trumpet call to start “Rhapsody in Blue.”

      But that was in New York anyhow.


  9. The article on the SPU relocation work could also have said, “SPU plans to piggyback on Move Seattle work to save money on significant deferred maintenance.”

    In other words,they’re using the opportunity of the streets being otherwise torn up to do work that will be necessary eventually and do it for less than it would otherwise cost because the streets are otherwise torn up under another budget.

    Am I missing something?

  10. On “obsolete” parking garages… we don’t have time to wait for the garages to become obsolete. In major cities, especially in and around downtown Seattle, there’s already too much parking, enough to make local surface traffic impossible with spaces to spare. We’ve gotta reverse parking growth now, while it still matters.

  11. “Effective immediately, the recently installed bus stop on southbound 23rd Av just south of E Olive St is permanently closed, due to a traffic safety hazard. “

    Anyone know what happened? Fortunately, the next stops (at Pine or John) are relatively close.

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