Republicans Set Hearings on Own Incompetence

by SEATTLE SUBWAY

In a shocking investigation into their own inability to read legislation, Senator O’Ban and Washington Senate Republicans have taken a bold step into the unknown. How much incompetence are they willing to admit in their quest for Seattle Times headlines? Apparently quite a lot.

Sound Transit has been entirely transparent in their requests for a funding source to the legislature and to voters: This is well established.

The state legislature set both the rate and method of motor vehicle depreciation, which did not change in ST3. If these state legislators would like to change what the voters approved, they must replace any transit funding they are cutting. Senator O’Ban’s investigation into the bill he voted for is an act of bad faith. Bad faith, because they are abandoning a bipartisan deal to allow regional voters to tax themselves to fund transit in exchange for highways in far flung parts of Washington State. Bad faith, because they are trying to override the will of voters who expect Sound Transit to deliver the light rail promised in ST3.

Why are they doing this? They are desperate, as the party of Trump, to make this a campaign issue and maintain control of the state senate after an upcoming special election in the 45th district. Seattle Subway recommends a campaign donation to Democratic candidate Manka Dhingra in their honor.

Support Independent Local Media

In the months since the November election, we’ve seen a huge nationwide uptick in digital newspaper subscriptions, with the NY Times and the Washington Post leading the way.  But while national newspaper brands are thriving, local news is different.   Consider the story of our own KOMO news, forced to create content to appease its new national owners, the right-wing Sinclair Broadcasting Group.

Ben Thompson, one of my favorite tech writers, argues that the traditional newspaper model – a bundle of comics and Ann Landers and sports and local news – is obsolete in the internet era.  The future of local news is a small, subscription-powered outlet with a distinct niche:

A sustainable local news publication will be fundamentally different: a minimal rundown of the news of the day, with a small number of in-depth articles a week featuring real in-depth reporting, with the occasional feature or investigative report. After all, it’s not like it is hard to find content to read on the Internet: what people will pay for is quality content about things they care about (and the fact that people care about their cities will be these publications’ greatest advantage).

That’s exactly what we’re trying to build here at STB.  I’ve been a blogger since 2003 and a long-time believer in the power of the internet to inform and entertain us.  The glorious future isn’t here yet, and local papers like the Seattle Times still have resources that dwarf even the biggest local Internet pubs (which is why I subscribe, editorial page be damned).  But the only way we’re going to get there is if organizations like ours continue to search for new revenue streams and fund new reporting methods.

Once a year, we ask you for your help to help us define the future of independent local media.  Please make a donation to help us continue our work.

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Kitsap Transit Looks to Rethink Service and Revive Ridership

Process and timing (image: Kitsap Transit)

Late last year, Kitsap Transit made news with the passage of its foot ferry initiative, which provided the funding to fulfill a long-standing dream of fast, cross-sound passenger service. For those paying attention to the less-sexy, workhorse transit modes, however, news across the sound has been bad for years. Like every sales tax-dependent agency in Washington, KT took a haircut in the great recession, beginning in 2008.

In 2009, the agency responded in many of the ways familiar to those of us who remember King County Metro circa 2010-2013: raising fares, deleting routes, reducing almost all the remaining routes. Unlike Metro, KT never took the high-pain, high-gain opportunity to rethink the structure of the bus network, leaving riders with a network of mostly circuitous, infrequent routes and some incomprehensible schedules.

The intervening eight years have not got well for KT, or their bus riders. After a predicable initial decline from the cuts and the recession, annual ridership has been stagnant since 2010. Much more worryingly, this stagnant ridership comes on increasing levels of service, as sales tax revenue has crept back up; the productivity of the bus network is declining, which suggests the bus network is structurally failing in some way.

While Kitsap county has not experienced anything like Seattle’s residential or employment growth, it’s a part of our booming city’s commuter belt, with a natural advantage to non-car modes: even without considering the upcoming foot ferry service, it’s much cheaper and easier to walk on to a Seattle-bound ferry at Bainbridge or Bremerton, than it is to drive on.

While the analogy is not perfect, the agency’s situation most reminds me of Pierce Transit in 2011: a tax-hostile electorate, a benefit area dominated by transit-hostile land-use patterns, and increasing costs have put the agency in sustained decline, at a time when it should be growing. Fortunately, KT’s leaders seem to have realized the severity of their case, and are going to the public with an outreach effort that sounds quite fundmental in scope:

Kitsap Transit is conducting a comprehensive analysis of our current bus service that will incorporate:

  • Community input gathered at in-person workshops, an online open house and an on-board survey
  • Data on current ridership patterns
  • Projected population growth in Kitsap County

The purpose of the analysis is to understand how our buses currently connect riders to neighborhoods, city centers, social and community services and ferries. We want to hear from a broad group of transit users and community members, including people who might not use transit now. We are also committed to working with those in the community who are dependent on transit.

More after the jump.
Continue reading “Kitsap Transit Looks to Rethink Service and Revive Ridership”

Sound Transit’s Clever Solution for Crossing I-90

Sound Transit light rail over I-90
Sound Transit

In case you missed it, Mike Lindblom had a great piece in the Seattle times this past weekend about the final engineering plans for East link on I-90:

Engineers have to ensure the bridge will remain buoyant when a pair of 300-ton trains pass each other, and that the high-voltage current that powers the trains won’t stray into the bridge’s pontoons and corrode its steel rebar. They spent $53 million just to design the section across Lake Washington.

The most difficult task is adapting the rails to the movements of the bridge.

Train tracks will cross the hinges and sloping spans between the bridge’s fixed sections and the 1-mile floating deck, like someone walking down the gangway to a boat marina.

Click over to the article for detailed graphics on how it all works, but the gist is that engineers have devised a clever series of bearings to keep the train on the tracks as the bridge bobs, weaves and twists in the wind.

Also noteworthy: the design will allow the trains to cross the bridge at 55mph. Earlier plans had called for slower speeds (35mph) across the bridge. While it probably won’t make a huge difference in travel time, it might have a psychological effect. Seeing a train blow past at 55mph while you’re stuck in traffic could give someone more incentive to switch to transit.

Virtual Coinlessness & Affordability for Families

“3rd Ave Gridlock” photo by Zach Heistand / flickr

King County Metro is considering a modernization of its fare system, and has gone expeditiously through a lot of public process to get to two final proposals. The results of the second of two non-scientific surveys are available online. Out of 935 responses, 609 strongly liked the $2.75 flat fare proposal, while 147 somewhat liked it. For the competing proposal for a flat $3 peak fare and $2.50 off-peak fare, 136 respondents strongly liked it, 116 somewhat liked it, 148 chose “neutral”, 234 somewhat disliked it, and 296 strongly disliked it. It looks strongly likely that a proposal to have a flat $2.75 regular adult fare, for all trips at all times of day, will be headed to the county council shortly. The boldness of this proposal far exceeded any expectations I had for Metro’s operationally-conservative culture.

The responses to the essay question from this non-scientific survey, asking “What other ideas do you have for ways to make ORCA and transit more accessible and affordable?” offer a glimpse into what activist-minded riders (at least the 259 who offered responses) are clamoring for, in addition to eliminating fare disputes over complexity. Respondents took the opportunity to write about automobile parking availability, seating rules, stop location rules, service patterns, and other topics not directly related to fares. Of those who wrote about fares beyond calling for stuff already tallied in the survey, stuff that already exists (most notably an inter-agency day pass costing $8, or $4 for all reduced-fare categories, loaded onto your ORCA card) or commenting on the two current proposals:

  • 20 called for ORCA cards to be less expensive or free.
  • 16 called for more places and hours to get and load an ORCA card, including more retailers and all transit centers and park & rides.
  • 11 called for the cash fare to be higher than the ORCA fare.
  • 9 called for eliminating paper transfers.
  • 9 called for the cash fare to be in even dollars.
  • 9 called for all transit agencies to accept ORCA and transfers, including the monorail and Washington State Ferries. The Seattle Center decided not to go forward with the proposed monorail fare increase, after an outpouring of opposition to raising the fare without integrating into the regional transit network’s fare system.
  • 9 called for lowering monthly pass prices.
  • 8 called for lower fares in general.
  • 6 called for making transit free.
  • 5 called for funds added to ORCA cards online to be available much more quickly.
  • 5 called for distance-based fares, using tap-off.
  • 5 called for stricter fare enforcement, on all routes.
  • 4 called for bringing back the Ride Free Area.
  • 4 called for weekly passes.
  • 4 called for all-door boarding, with ORCA readers at all doors.
  • 3 called for cross-agency fare alignment, including Link.
  • 3 called for cash transfers between buses and light rail.
  • 3 called for free ORCA monthly passes for the homeless.
  • 3 called for making ORCA available on smart phones via apps (as is planned for ORCA 2.0).
  • 3 called for raising the age for youth fare qualification.

Continue reading “Virtual Coinlessness & Affordability for Families”

Thanks for 7 Great Years

This is my 485th and final post here at Seattle Transit Blog. As I move on to an exciting new opportunity, I wanted to take a minute to thank the reader community here. For the past 7 years I have been able to take for granted having substantive policy conversations every day, a rare treat in today’s media landscape. What passes as contentious or petty in our comment threads is downright graceful just about anywhere else. And your generous support has allowed me to get paid to do this for the final two years, a blessing given the bleak outlook for the economics of journalism.

This has been a consistently rewarding experience, a supplement to my professional life at Pierce Transit, Commute Seattle, as a business owner, and soon at Sound Transit. Numerous agency officials have become confidants and friends, and I hope I’ve earned their respect as much as they’ve earned mine.

This blog analyzes the tiniest needles on each policy tree, but as I reflect back on the last 7 years, I am astounded at how healthy the forest has become. Growing up in Coeur d’Alene, my experience of Seattle was limited to semi-annual trips to the Kingdome and Pacific Science Center. We’d drive over and park in “South Lake Union”, then a bleak stretch of concrete the workaday crowd drove through on the way out of town, with the remnant neighborhood of Cascade hanging on by a thread. We’d walk over to 1st Avenue to catch a free bus to Pioneer Square, and 1st Avenue’s then much seedier nature shocked my young evangelical eyes.

After 8 years of college and graduate school on the East Coast and abroad, I finally moved to Seattle in 2009. Freshly minted with a master’s degree and desperate for income, I took seasonal retail jobs at Bellevue Square and Pacific Place. My first experience of Puget Sound’s transit was the monthly trek up to Kemper Freeman’s offices to pick up my paper Puget Pass. Link opened the month I moved here.

In 2017 there is still much to criticize, of course. Our agencies still struggle to coordinate on matters of service and fare integration. The customer ‘friction’ of our overlapping, complex systems still presents a psychological barrier to the average citizen. We struggle to provide sufficient transit priority, and we waste taxpayer resources spending excessive amounts of transit funds on the resulting schedule padding. There are still too many injury and fatality collisions in our city, and bike facilities remain fragmented. Our one-way grid in Center City still prioritizes the fast movement of vehicles over people, and continues to revolve around access to/from I-5. And our transit activist community remains too white, too male, too nerdy, and on its worst days, too condescending to new entrants. A ton of work remains to build an inclusive, mobile city.

But consider the growth we’ve experienced . Thankfully I missed the days when the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel closed on nights and weekends, or the pre-Sound Transit days when just getting to Everett or Tacoma without a car was an epic adventure. When I moved here real-time information was in its infancy, a graduate student project that I used by text message on my flip phone. Now I use one app in most major cities in the world, and it works nearly flawlessly. Not so long ago the flagship 71/72/73 were all hourly in the evening, combining for 20-minute service in the University District. When RapidRide C and D launched, they planned for half-hourly evening service. For crying out loud, until 2012 you couldn’t even take a bus between Ballard and Fremont without crossing the Ship Canal twice, via Route 17. Today, Route 40 is something we’d never again try to do without.

These days, Seattle is down to just one hourly weekday service (Route 22), and frequent service has become both an expectation and (mostly) a reality citywide. The Night Owl network is about to be radically improved after a half-century of waiting. Link has shrunk the city and brought us closer to our friends, family, and partners. Trips that were difficult and frustrating just two years ago (Capitol Hill to Safeco Field, say) are now effortless and reliable. Outside my Beacon Hill bedroom window, I watch my Route 36 go by every 5 minutes, taking me to a train that comes every 6.

Voters have consistently opened their wallets to boost service, with affirmative votes on ST2, multiple Metro measures, an unprecedented city top-up of Metro service, and of course ST3. Metro’s Long Range Plan proclaims a solid vision for our future network. The next few years will be ones of painful growth and transformation, and I can’t wait to see what things look like when we emerge on the other side in 2023, take a quick breath, and then start digging to Ballard. I now have the chance to work on these things from the inside, and I can’t wait. But thank you all for your indulgence and grace. It’s been fun!

“I think that vote was rigged”

ST3 Results by Precinct

In a wide-ranging interview, the South Seattle Emerald asked Mayoral candidate and State Senator Bob Hasegawa about Sound Transit 3. The reply was astonishing in several respects:

Emerald:  You’ve been an outspoken critic of the $54 billion Sound Transit 3 package, could you talk about why?

Hasegawa: I think that vote was rigged. I don’t think the ST Board was really honest with the people on what we were voting for. As a legislator they told us Sound Transit 3 was a $15 billion package, and I verified what they were saying, and their news releases, and at the time we balked at the price. But traffic was so bad we had to do something. That was part of the transportation budget bill, which also contained the largest gas tax increase in the history of the state, at over 11 cents per gallon.

I think this was one of those times that elected officials really disregarded the impacts on fixed and low income people who are trying to make ends meet. Once we authorized the $15 billion, the powers that be went behind a curtain, massaged something and when they came back out popped a $54 billion project. They knew they had the votes to pass whatever they wanted to, so they were like kids in a candy store. I’m not saying I would’ve voted against it had they originally stated the true cost, but I would have liked to not have had the wool pulled over my eyes.

ST3 received extensive coverage in the local media. That’s lucky, because otherwise people might be misled by this tangle of conflated events and financial naïveté. In no particular order:

Continue reading ““I think that vote was rigged””

News Roundup: Some Facts

This is an open thread.

Community Transit Kicks Off Swift Green Line Construction

A shelter at Seaway Transit Center (courtesy of Community Transit)

Community Transit has begun construction of the Seaway Transit Center in Everett, the northern terminus of the planned Swift Green Line bus rapid transit project. The $11 million transit center, funded primarily by WSDOT grants and federal funds, will serve the massive Boeing Everett plant and part of the Paine Field industrial area.

The transit center will be laid out on a triangular plot of land on the southeastern side of Seaway Boulevard and 75th Street SW, at the main entrance to the Boeing plant. It is also near Community Transit’s Merrill Creek operating base and headquarters, as well as other major employers like the Fluke Corporation, though the area isn’t exactly the most walkable or bikeable. Initially, Seaway Transit Center will be built with two bus bays for Swift and five for other buses; the site plan allows for up to a total of thirteen bus bays. After Link light rail is extended to Everett in 2036, Seaway Transit Center could become a major connection between feeder buses to Mukilteo and southern Everett.

Beginning in September of this year, Route 105 will be extended to the Paine Field area from Mariner Park and Ride during peak hours. This will form the basis of a future local, frequent-stopping route that will “shadow” the Green Line much like Route 101 and the Blue Line today. Route 107 will also begin service between Lynnwood Transit Center and the Boeing plant in the same service change, restoring a more convenient link to the South County area.

When the new transit center opens in the summer of 2018, it will be served by Route 105, in addition to other Community Transit, Everett Transit and King County Metro routes that already head to the Boeing plant. The site plan also has spaces for private shuttles, and may become a hub for Boeing’s internal shuttle system much like how Microsoft uses Overlake Transit Center in Redmond.

The rest of the Green Line, which will travel through southern Everett and Mill Creek, won’t begin construction for a few more months. Service is scheduled to begin in early 2019.

Rendering of the new Seaway Transit Center (Community Transit)

Amtrak Cascades Has a New Mudslide Hotspot

New Amtrak Cascades locomotives soon to enter service (WSDOT Photo)

The wet winter and spring have taken a toll on our railroads. Since the beginning of this year, nineteen (19) landslides have cancelled more than fifty (50) Amtrak Cascades trains. However, unlike the famous problem areas near Mukilteo that have plagued Cascades and Sounder alike, these mudslides are in a new trouble spot. Two-thirds of the total mudslides in the corridor this year have occurred in Clark County, just north of Vancouver in the Felida/Ridgefield area. Given BNSF’s mandatory 48-hour moratorium on passenger service following a mudslide, every slide can knock out as many as 20 trains. Compounding the problem, the Coast Starlight has been quietly out of service for more than two weeks now due to bridge damage in Northern California.

Mudslide mitigation in the Everett/Mukilteo area has been a great success, with millions spent on slope stabilization, homeowner education, and more. Cancellations have been sharply reduced in the northern corridor this year. But officials are scrambling to coordinate and plan a response to these new trouble spots. In an email to WSDOT, officials would only say that, “Representatives from WSDOT’s Rail, Freight and Ports Division are talking with Clark County representatives to determine how we can apply this same approach in this new area of concern.”

Fortunately, the legislature has provided ongoing funding for landslide mitigation to the tune of $33 million through 2030, a clip of roughly $2.50 million per year. Unfortunately, however, like everything else it is subject to politics and the need for biennial renewal of its funding. And though the annual outlay is generous, the current biennium only doled out $1m total, leaving agencies strapped for mitigation funds just as they finish up nearly $800m in 2009-era rail improvement projects in the corridor. So this problem may persist for a year or two.

Sometime this autumn, Cascades will add two new roundups to Portland, shuffle schedules to permit same-day business travel, and shift trains to the Point Defiance Bypass between Tacoma and Nisqually. Another wet winter and widespread cancellations could significantly hobble the new services just when they need to attract passengers most. Let’s hope the legislature will recognize the problem and approve mitigation funds in a timely and bipartisan way.

February 2017 Ridership for Sound Transit

While Link’s numbers were all up, Sounder was down (mostly due to the Tacoma Trestle Cutover where service was reduced for 3 days) as well as ST Express down slightly and Tacoma Link also down.

Average daily ridership for Link in February was:

  • Weekday: 65,125 (+81.5%)
  • Saturday: 39,409 (+67.6%)
  • Sunday: 29,184 (+68.7%)

Other weekday modal ridership stats:

  • Sounder: 16,088  (-3.0%)
  • Tacoma Link: 3,364 (-7.1%)
  • ST Express: 61,829 (-1.1%)
  • Sound Transit Systemwide, +23.4% Weekday, +18.9% Total Boardings

My charts after the break.

Continue reading “February 2017 Ridership for Sound Transit”

Thanks for Ten Years of STB

Link train at Westlake Station

(SounderBruce / flickr)

On April 26, 2007, Andrew Smith wrote a blog post launching Seattle Transit Blog.  At the time, Link hadn’t opened, there was no RapidRide, and the earthquake-damaged Alaskan Way Viaduct was still standing.  Ten years later, we have 16 Link stations and dozens more in the construction and planning phases, 6 RapidRide lines and counting and the Viaduct, well… let’s move on, shall we? :)

Thanks to the support of our readers we’ve been able to continually invest new resources in reporting on the stories you care about; stories about transit, transportation, and land use in the Puget Sound that don’t get the attention they deserve in the media.  Even though we’ve been at this for over a decade now, we’re nowhere near ready to quit.

If you value what we do, please consider making a donation to support us.  Over 100 new donors stepped up last year.  Nothing would please me more than to have 100 more new folks join in.  To those of you who signed up for a monthly subscription, thank you for your continued support!

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Link/Airport Connection Update

SeaTac Station

SeaTac Station by edgeplot

[UPDATE: Mr. DeRoy corrected his original statement of when the plexiglass was installed. January, not March.]

When last we’d heard from the Port of Seattle, six years of experience with Link service to the airport had inspired the Port (and Commissioner Stephanie Bowman) to come up with a $3.5m, four-step plan to improve the experience of connecting to the station:

  • enclosing the walkway to block the wind
  • installing heaters
  • electric carts to transport people that need it between the station and the airport skybridge
  • adding a moving walkway to the airport master plan, which was expected by April 2017. The $28m project would presumably happen years in the future.

Over six months later, two of these are done, one is dead, and one hasn’t happened — yet.

The port installed the plexiglass in January March, with decorations and other details finished in March, about 3 months after originally planned. Port Spokesman Brian DeRoy simply says that the original 3-week estimate was overoptimistic: “it took a little longer than we’d hoped.”

The four carts also started running in March. Two operate at any given time between the Sound Transit bridge and the second airport skybridge, from about 6am to midnight. Your correspondent got to ride one of these carts when travelling with small children in April, and “it was a relief,” in the words of my companion.

The heaters proved to be too difficult to install easily. There wasn’t adequate electric power, so they looked at natural gas. But, as Mr. DeRoy notes, the gas required would have exceeded the Greenhouse Gas emissions of the entire rental car shuttle fleet. The Port rejected this as inconsistent with its sustainability goals, so it shelved this plan.

People have asked for a moving walkway since the station opened in December 2009. Unfortunately, the concrete parking garage doesn’t have sufficient clearance to simply install a walkway on its surface. A mooted hotel immediately north of the garage was a potential vessel for a walkway, but that project did not materialize. In keeping with Ms. Bowman’s expectations, Mr DeRoy says the moving walkway is “likely” to be in the Sustainable Airport Master Plan. However, we will not see this plan until the end of 2017. Even then, any such project will likely occur years after release of the plan.

Critics often exaggerate the inconvenience of walking to the airport, particularly in the context of peer airports elsewhere in the world. But that’s no reason to ignore creative ways to make the experience better. It’s good of the Port to put some organizational energy into making transit to the airport work better.

We’re Hiring a Reporter

From time to time, we’ve posted job openings of interest to the many professionals that read our articles. But today, there’s a somewhat different — and more personal — opportunity.

For almost two years, the generosity of our donors has allowed us to hire Zach Shaner on a part-time basis. You’ve all read the output of that arrangement, which exceeded my wildest expectations. But Zach is now moving on to a better opportunity than we can give him, and we have an opening.

We’re looking for a skilled writer with an interest in transit and land use issues open to a part-time position. He or she would be responsible for several pieces a week, although hours (and therefore output) are negotiable. Reporting skills are more important than domain expertise. However, knowledge of the local political terrain, transit operations, and land use issues are assets. Outside of the land use and transit beats, you’d be free to use the remainder of your time to pursue other writing opportunities.

Responsibilities:

  • Pitch unique stories and follow up on leads
  • Take assignments from designated officers
  • Cover breaking news
  • Establish and maintain relationships/sources
  • Manage social media channels as needed
  • Perform other duties as assigned

Qualifications:

  • At least 1 year of reporting, blogging or similar experience
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Flexible schedule
  • Able to succeed with light supervision
  • Knowledge of relevant local politics, transit, and land use issues a huge plus

Salary depends on experience, but we’re competitive with many other media outlets. If you’d like to give it a shot, send an email with a resume and three writing samples to contact@seattletransitblog.com by May 22nd.

Pragmatism, Efficiency, and Who Shares

Atomic Taco (Flickr)

On Sunday, the Seattle Times wrote up ($) SDOT’s Employer Shared Transit Stop Pilot program, which started a week prior. It’s a good writeup, although transit nerds probably won’t learn too much they didn’t already know. From SDOT’s page:

The City of Seattle and King County Metro are collaborating with Seattle Children’s Hospital and Microsoft to conduct a six-month pilot that will allow these participating organizations’ employer-provided shuttles to temporarily share a select set of public transit stops with King County Metro buses. This pilot was carefully developed over the last two years. The pilot project will test the feasibility of allowing employer-provided shuttles to use public transit stops while minimizing impacts to public transit operations.

As someone who both cares a lot about public transit, and the space given to public transit, and also someone who uses an employer shuttle occasionally (not one in this pilot), I have a few reactions.

First, I applaud SDOT and Metro for spotting a growing trend, and proactively experimenting with a pilot program to get real-world experience in managing it. Rule changes are generally easy to reverse if they don’t pan out, and I’ll take data over endless process and waffle any day.

Second, I think there will be mixed operational results from the stops chosen (you can see a full map on the SDOT page). Some, like SB 15th Ave E @ Mercer, seldom see more than a bus every ten minutes, and an additional shuttle using the stop is unlikely to cause delays for public transit riders. Others, like SB Queen Anne @ Harrison, are very heavily trafficked. That traffic includes RapidRide D*, on which SDOT and Metro have spent a lot of money in the name of speed and reliability. A noticeable level of conflict between shuttles and transit in the peak period seems inevitable, and any resulting delays will undermine the effort and money spent on the RapidRide program.

Of course, this variety of stop profiles will yield more interesting data, and may have been an intentional part of the pilot’s stop choices, although SDOT doesn’t call it out as such.

Finally, I note the dead hand of America’s great cognitive bias in street space allocation: when a new actor arises and asks for street space, the first people whose interests are traded off are all those who don’t drive and park their own car in the public right of way. Particularly depressing is the suggestion quoted in the Times article, that “if more loading zones are freed up, officials eventually could change some of those loading zones to public parking.”

Curbside parking (as distinct from loading) is, in general, the least valuable use of space, on a busy thoroughfare in a dense neighborhood. If the primary motiviation for a permanent shared stop program is to eventually add a couple of dozen parking spaces to SDOT’s street parking inventory across the entire city, then that is a fatally worthless premise. If, on the other hand, the purpose is to make each street function better overall (e.g. can we please have a bike corral by the pilot stop at Ballard & Market?), and any negative feedback on transit conflicts is taken seriously, then this program may prove meritorious.

If you have your own scaldingly hot take on this pilot program, please share it with us in the comments, and then email it to sharedstoppilot@seattle.gov.

My email Q&A with SDOT, lightly edited, is after the jump.

* UPDATE: As pointed out in the comments, the D Line skips this one stop in Uptown. Nevertheless, it’s a busy stop for all the routes coming southbound out of Queen Anne, and SDOT and Metro have spent a chunk of money on making those routes faster and better, so I think the point mostly stands.

Continue reading “Pragmatism, Efficiency, and Who Shares”

News Roundup: Of Interest to Us

Link train at Westlake Station

This is an open thread.