27 Replies to “Podcast #39: No One Could Have Predicted”

  1. Speaking of stations… Whats with placing the ORCA readers in LINK stations along the perimeter wall (even in brand new stations like CHS)? Why arent they placed in the middle of the space so they are in the natural flow of foot traffic (much like turnstiles would be)? It would also create a fare paid zone threshold.

  2. 1) Regarding Paine Field, I agree the light rail alignment isn’t ideal for serving the terminal. But hopefully the light rail station will have a fast, frequent shuttle like what Whatcom Transportation Authority & Bellingham International have now worked out. Thanks for the coverage.

    2) Regarding the upcoming hearings, well I want the damn truth to come out. I think to set ST3 free, the truth must be set free.

  3. Movie I just saw is required watching.

    “Citizen Jane”, about urban activist Jane Jacobs, and her successful fight to keep Commissioner Robert Moses (Thank GOD we got Donald Trump for President instead of him!) from destroying New York City in order to save it from dirty brick buildings. Which contained actual city neighborhoods, which was worse.

    Tacoma Grand Cinema. Five minute walk uphill from Theater District LINK terminal. One or two “take-aways”, though. One, like everything else, there’s a right and a wrong way to achieve both density and spaciousness.

    Two, that large groups of angry and persistent residents can definitely affect land use decisions. Though it helps if they’re wise to these wise-guys, and are mothers pushing baby strollers which were not yet designed for jogging. And yell in various New York accents.

    Probably worst problem in Seattle. Reason we need to encourage people to move here who can correctly pronounce history’s most most persuasive political statement: “That is the STOOPIDEST thing I ever herd in my. LIFE! “U”‘s just don’t woik.

    But most important- two things equally unspoken but amply demonstrated in both the film and Seattle. Affordability is best achieved by empowering people through hiring, unionizing, and paying them. Also repealing “Citizens United.”

    Also, a sneaking suspicion that employers not bothered by these things will be more likely to work with the region to assure that their relocation here will not destroy land-use planning and transportation in three years. Just a feeling.

    See both movies. Remember: Seattle’s first name was “New York, but you gotta wait!” Good to see you can finally “get to “You Gotta Wait!” Point ” from LINK. Which both Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs doubtless liked Kosher.

    Mark Dublin

  4. Oh, yeah. Other movie is Richard Gere’s also New York oriented lifetime best movie called “Norman.”

    Very pertinent, because it perfectly illustrates the planning and negotiating skills by which important and far-reaching agreements are accomplished.

    With everyone’s feelings, concerns, and dignity preserved by nobody being any the wiser.


  5. I get effectively $1 to $1.50 fares already. I buy a $99 pass (FULL PRICE) good for one-zone peak. A $1 effective fare works out to three trips (=transfer periods) per day plus nine trips. When I go to work and back, that’s two trips already. If I make a chain journey (work + errands or evening event + home) that’s three. On the weekend I visit my relatives, that’s two. I go to Costco a few times a month, and since I can’t get to Costco and back in two hours that’s two fares, and I can’t carry three heavy bags all over town so I have to go straight home, and then if I go out again that day that’s two more trips, for a total of four. I’m particular about food so I buy some things from Costco, some from Trader Joe’s, some from Central Co-Op, some from the produce stand at 15th & 65th or the Chinatown shops, some from the farmer’s market, and anything else at QFC or Fred Meyer, So that’s a lot of chain journeys or small trips. Then I go walking somewhere: Interurban North, the I-90 trail, Lincoln Park, Alki, the waterfront beach, Bellefield Park & Mercer Slough & Kelsey Creek Park in Bellevue, so I take a bus to all those. Sometimes I don’t take transit for two or three days, but the days I do four or five trips in a day make up for it.

  6. Employer passes: The cost is probably frozen until the contract comes up for renewal. The bulk cost is based on what percent of employees are expected to use transit. I don’t know how much large institutions like UW get a discount or if it just reflects what percent of students use the pass. Students who live in the U-District don’t use it every day unless they work elsewhere. Students who drive in presumably don’t use it much.

    1. The ORCA Passport cost depends on where your worksite is located and how many TOTAL employees you have. You get charged for all employees not just those who use the employer provided ORCA. http://metro.kingcounty.gov/cs/employer/ORCA_Zones_Locator.html

      My guess is larger organizations like UW, Microsoft, etc. have some room to negotiate but I don’t think they budge on the fact that you must buy a card for all employees.

    2. We’re saying the same thing. All employees get the pass but the price is based on what percent of them are predicted to use it.

  7. Gentrification: It wouldn’t be a problem if there were decent places for displaced people to go. But when they’re forced out to a 1960s apartment (the kind nobody else wants) on Renton MLK or Kent 107th or Des Moines far from a bus, then it’s a problem. Those areas are completely unwalkable, and the nearest supermarket or any other business is a mile or two away. My friend’s house in SeaTac had one peak-only route, and the nearest supermarket was a mile west in Burien with no bus in that direction. And now an increasing number of people can’t even live in these hellholes and they have to go to Snohomish and Pierce Counties, and in thirty years that may not even be an option either.

    What we need is more neighborhoods like Capitol Hill and the 45th corridor. The more urban villages we build, the less a price premium each one can demand, and eventually they’ll go from being a limited luxury to the normal baseline. That is how it was when Columbia City and White Center and Greenwood were new. So make Renton MLK and Sunset Drive and Skyway and Kent East Hill walkable! Then it wouldn’t be such a hardship to be pushed out to there. Those neighborhoods weren’t designed for the poor! They were designed for people who could easily afford to drive everywhere and buy amenities at the mall to make up for the lack of neighborhood.

    When the scourge of unwalkable single-use neighborhoods is eradicated. it may reveal a second problem. The first problem is that 80% of the neighborhoods are unwalkable and have anemic transit so only the top 20% live in places that have both. But as we solve that, housing prices will converge toward the mean, because there will no longer be the dichotomy between really-convenient and really-inconvenient neighbrhoods. But that means prices in the formerly-inconvenient neighborhoods will rise toward the mean. That means the bottom half of the workforce won’t be able to afford them. That in turn means we’ll need more public housing for them, or some other non-market arrangement.

    1. I agree, but I think it is worse than that. It isn’t just that there are apartments in areas that aren’t very walkable, it is that there are hardly any apartments in a lot of places that are. This is common all over the west. There is so much emphasis on making fairly dense places more dense, but little on making nearby suburbs more dense. San Fransisco is a great example. I’m sure there are places where it makes sense to build, but for the most part, San Fransisco proper is plenty dense. But check out nearby Marin County. Here is a nice little neighborhood: https://goo.gl/maps/BQeZkdyDTB52. I think everyone would consider this walkable. It is just a short, comfortable stroll over to cafes, shops, restaurants — the works. But unlike San Fransisco, there are no row houses. No small apartment buildings, no tiny houses. You can live there, but it costs a fortune because there are so few places to live.

      I don’t know Renton very well but I know my neighborhood. It looks very familiar. While it is by no means as expensive, it has the same problem. Big lots. Even when they develop — when they add houses — they add too few because the lots are too big. My neighborhood is not anyone’s first choice, either. It is exactly the type of neighborhood that people get pushed to. But only a handful of people can live here, because the lots are too big. So they get pushed farther and it is the same story. Shoreline has really big lots (even bigger than here, from what I can tell) and way fewer apartments. There should be row houses in my neighborhood and all over Shoreline. You should be able to add houses next to existing houses, right next to the property line. We are nowhere near allowing that (you can’t even add a basement apartment without jumping through a bunch of hoops) but that should be the direction we should head.

      Without a doubt there are places in the suburbs that are unpleasant to walk though. Years of bad planning focused on moving the cars has resulted in a nasty landscape. But if work is done, then it can get better. Lake City used to be very ugly. But the city made the street a lot narrower, put in trees and a crosswalk, and the neighborhood became a lot more pleasant. It does take a lot of work, but it can be done. But one of the key steps is having enough density so that the shops can survive (and thrive) with pedestrian traffic. If the shops are dependent on the automobile, they are way more likely to accept the loss of parking that often comes with such changes. It all goes together, but it takes vision, and it takes a willingness to accept that things will change. Unfortunately, a lot of people simply don’t want that.

  8. Station signage: Both ends of the Capitol Hill platform look identical when you’re getting off a train. The trick I’ve found is to look at the sign on the opposite side. If it says “John”, then I know my side is Denny. (I can’t see my sign because it’s behind me when I’m near the escalator. Bad design.)

    Pictograms: The pictograms are a state law I’ve heard. It’s so that non-English speaking people can find their station. The state thought it was such a great accessibility idea that it mandated it. They probably thought it would become standard everywhere soon.

    Stations on the Paine Field detour: The ST3 map has seven stations north of Lynnwood: West Alderwood Mall (184th), Ash Way (164th, 1 mile north), Mariner (128th, 1.5 miles north), 99/Airport Road (120th, provisional), SW Everett Industrial Center (100th, 1 mile north), 526/Evergreen (84th, 1 mile north), Everett Station (32nd, 2.5 miles north). Even without the Paine Field detour there would be a station at Mariner (or west of there at 99), and presumably one around 84th (since Casino Road crosses there and the 513 terminates there, so there must be ridership). That leaves only Paine Field station in between. 128th to 84th is four miles (plus whatever the diagonal adds), so it’s wide enough for a station anyway (if there’s a transit market in there somewhere).

    The biggest surprise is actually the 2.5 mile gap between 84th and Everett Station. Since it’s near downtown Everett you’d think it would be dense enough for a station. The fact that there isn’t one means… that area is unusually empty, just empty highway? From Google Maps it looks like desolate highways (two in places), huge interchanges, a greenbelt, and cul-de-sac neighborhoods that turn their back on the road. So maybe there’s nothing there to work with. But are we being too short-sighted? Could a future Everett want to build a real neighborhood there and a station? Would the alignment design allow it? Oh, I guess there isn’t an alignment design yet, since it’s still just a concept. So maybe we should think about whether we can improve the south Everett situation.

    Dropoff-only stops: Almost all the south Seattle and west Seattle routes are through-routed downtown to north end routes. 21 to 5, 24 to 124, 131/132 to 26/28, 27 to 33. The 125 seems to be an outlier; it was previously routed with the 11.

    1. There’s a steep hill on the west side of the freeway. Another lost opportunity from building next to an Interstate to save a few tens of millions. Once diverted to Paine , Link should turn north from Casino along SR 99 with provision for a station along the way to Everett Station.

      1. I’m unconvinced Evergreen has that much TOD potential. Keep in mind it is served by SWIFT, so TOD immediately along the Hwy is only a short transfer away from Link, assuming a station is build at the intersection of 526 and Evergreen Wy.

        As proposed, Link is basically an “express” that goes straight from Everett Station to that “Casino” station, with SWIFT providing the ‘local’ high frequency service. If you are in Everett and want to get to something along Evergreen Wy, you take the bus. If you are heading to Paine Field or somewhere further south, you take the train.

        I think that fits with the overall design of Everett Link where Link is designed for the long haul travel to Lynwood & into Seattle, and SWIFT is doing the heavy lifting of moving people along the 99/Evergreen Hwy corridor.

        It’s a more suburban mindset – similar to Link between SeaTac and Tacoma (with the A as the local HCT), rather than Link between downtown and SeaTac. Link in the Rainier Valley has ‘urban’ station placement, generating great neighborhood coverage and irritatingly long through-travel times. Given the most important part of Snohomish Link is to connect people to job centers either around Paine Field or in King County, I think the alignment & station placement is sound.

  9. No talk about ST3 being in danger because President Baron Von @#$%@#%# doesn’t want to fund any new transit?

    1. There’s no reason to freak out about presidential budget proposals. Even with a highly effective president, they’re fantasy documents.

      1. Not true at all. This isn’t just this budget proposal. The administration has been clear since the outset that they believe transit expansions should be funded locally.

      2. I’m with djw, Budgets are political exercises. What matters is what comes out of Congress

    2. The Lynnwood extension is in jeopardy now ($1+ billion grant), but ST3 spending won’t ramp up until 2023 when the ST2 projects finish (or don’t). That’s in the next presidential term.

    3. The next three years, probably best to concentrate on deciding what we want to be ready to do when money and opportunity do arise. And meantime, at worst, treat present situation as an earthquake or any other emergency that’ll separate us from Federal help for a certain amount of time. Also Federal interference.

      Most useless waste of time is trying to figure out what any current temporary Washington DC tenant is going to do or not to. Because every word and action, the smellier the better, is now a deliberate diversion from crimes belonging not with a Special Prosecutor, but with one of Dan Satterberg’s harder-nosed assistants. Except someplace in New Jersey.

      International? I don’t think the United States is, or wants to be a military power. Even the Swedes have a draft. Truth is we’ve got a good military- miserably used- because we’re both a strong country and a good one. Also three hundred people who all think we’re in the same country. Virtually no country on Europe, however small, can really say the same.

      But the real power of the United States of America in the world is very much like a flywheel on a motor: keeping the machine running smooth and steady. Crack a flywheel and the vehicle shakes itself to pieces all the way to the junkyard.

      Infuriating to hear about a hundred ten billion dollar fighter plane contract to the country that supplied all but one of the 9-11 hijackers. Especially how much real national defense we could have gotten for that money in the form of roads, dams, water systems, and public transportation. To me, anything an enemy would target IS National Defense, to be kept in working condition, let alone fighting.

      Lucky all around that both the world and the United States can pretty much keep functioning in worse situations than this one. From the crews I’ve worked on, if Americans aren’t, without orders, working harder and better than they have to, they’re on strike.

      This also isn’t your great grandfather’s world- damn, I hope you haven’t got me for a great grandfather!. The rest of the world is no longer in ruins from B-17 raids. Like us, all of Europe’s present major problems are their own fault and therefore fixable. Like a dozen little countries refusing to follow our example and form a United States of Europe. Like we did.

      Would worry more about the rest of the world building a wall- and paying for it themselves- that architects like Frank Gehry really can beautify around the United States to keep us out of everyplace else ’til we’re vetted. You know, distemper, fleas, mange…but major change. Now many elected officials and agencies need spaying and neutering reversed.

      Another of the trillion percent of the world’s facts we never hear: How much affection ordinary people hold for us and our country. Including places like Persia, which is what Swedish bus supervisors call Iran. Also cutting us slack because many foreign nationals also know firsthand it’s not always people’s fault that their chief of state is a lying bag of crud.

      And our own national politics are now experiencing exactly what we need to fix them. Seventy years after the Second World War ended our Great Depression, our Government is finally functioning badly enough that nobody thinks it’s not worth their time to help repair and run it. Who’s your precinct committeeman, either party? If it doesn’t have one, at least find offices of your choice of parties and check out the job.

      But also max important to follow your example and never mention Baron Von @#$%@#%# – didn’t Snoopy send him down in a blazing bullet-riddled dog-house? Because as carefully intended, this country’s own final dive into the barbed-wire studded no-man’s land winged over the first time a reporter called him the front runner. Remember that your next fund-drive, NPR!


  10. Are the people demanding that individual fares pay for transit by any chance the same ones who yowl about tolling?


  11. I don’t know the answer to your question about how a Metro fare increase impacts employer pass costs. But here’s a theory you didn’t explore (this is what I assumed, but I could be wrong): Most employer passes cover more than the fare from Metro–they cover 5.50 or something (this may differ depending on employer). So a fare increase that doesn’t push up against the top fare wouldn’t change that. What it would do, since Metro rides are more “valuable” now, is redirect some of the ORCA pod shared money to Metro (My understanding is that pass money is split based on some formula of how much use the pass gets on different agencies.)

  12. There’s a big public outreach process around station names, shouldn’t there be something similar for station icons?

    Mountlake Terrace has made a big stink about how they want to be more involved with ST “branding” of their station because it will be how many people will first encounter the city, and I think they are right. If there isn’t something obvious – like a plane for the airport – I think the local city/neighborhood should pick an icon for themselves.

  13. For the discussion around cheap fares for Seattleites to boost transit use, I’d oppose a fare cut on the grounds it would lower funding for an agency that needs all the money it can get.

    A better idea, IMO, would be a Seattle levy that raises funds to pay for ORCA passes for residents. People would still pay a fare for the monthly passes (say, $50 a month) with the levy making up the difference.

    This also seems like a good opportunity for a head tax, where anyone with a full time job in Seattle (or King County) can buy a cheap monthly pass, subsidized by revenues from tax on # of employees paid by employers.

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