King County Battery Bus Announcement
King County Executive Dow Constantine and Metro General Manager Rob Gannon order electric buses for Metro. Photo by Atomic Taco / flickr

  • Governors and mayors must do a lot more than tweeting against Trump to fight climate change and housing crises.
  • Councilmember Kshama Sawant pushes a simple and awesome mandate on landlords to provide voter registration information to new tenants. The Rental Housing Association tweets back.
  • Oregon legislature wants to raise $8 billion for highway expansion, provide some operating funds for buses, and ban light rail from getting any of the money.
  • Dutch traffic light system prioritizes helping bikes get green light.
  • Mandatory affordable housing / upzone in International District escapes committee.
  • Mapping can be used to fight gentrification and displacement.
  • Mobility pricing can be used to fight traffic congestion.
  • Sacramento asks its NBA franchise to pony up for a streetcar.
  • Seattle City Councilmember Rob Johnson wants Metro and Sound Transit to let everyone under 19 ride free. As in, not just for the summer, but forever, at least until they turn 19.
  • Mercer Island still wants SOV access to HOV lanes.
  • Mercer Island City Manager sends a letter to residents explaining reason for settlement with Sound Tranist.
  • Seattle Times does some math ($) on park & ride spaces.
  • Civil engineer does some math on Ballard Bridge openings.
  • Spokane bus drivers want better protections after a rash of attacks.
  • Erica Barnett interviews state senator and mayoral candidate Bob Hasegawa.
  • Erica will moderate a Transportation and Housing Candidate Forum on Thursday, June 22.
  • Seattle police detectives ask your help tracking down the driver of this hit-and-run car.
  • Job Opening: CEO at California High Speed Rail

This is an open thread.

94 Replies to “News Roundup: Better Than Tweeting”

  1. Also, ST has released their April ridership data. Data for Link is still not a true apples-to-apples comparison because of Angle Lake, but the data shows solid weekday ridership gains of about 17% with steadily improving farebox recovery of around 40%.

    1. Yes, I saw this too. I figured that there would be a STB post about this any day — as well as a post about the winter quarterly ridership report, which also has station boarding data.

      1. Ya. It was interesting to see the data for Angle Lake and how it drew down both SeaTac Station and TIBS. But the drawdown at TIBS was small. And even after correcting forr the drawdowns Angle Lake still produced a nice net gain to the system.

        Westlake is still generating more ridership than UW. I would have thought UW would garner more, but I guess not.

        Good numbers though.

      2. I think what is happening at the south is what you could call the “terminus effect”. Much of the ridership does not come from people walking to the station, but those driving. The station the farthest out is often the most popular for miles around because it is the first one that a lot of people can access. As you keep adding stations, some of the riders from the last station come from that that used to use the previous terminus.

        Of course as with all systems, there are complications. There is a huge gap between Tukwila and Rainier Beach. So much so that it really feels like commuter rail, not a subway. That has to keep TIBS ridership high. Likewise, the airport is the airport. I am surprised that ridership went down (even slightly) as you added a station there. You can’t park there for free, so I can’t imagine much of a terminus effect there. Then again, maybe the availability of parking actually worked in its favor. Drive to TIBS, circle around, get upset with the lack of parking and then pay a few bucks to park at SeaTac. Maybe now those people just drive to Angle Lake.

        The thing is, the UW doesn’t have that sort of effect. It is well within the urban core. It doesn’t even have a park and ride. Neither, of course, does Westlake. No one drives to either location as a means to get further south. Ridership on both is driven by connecting bus service and walk up riders. While the UW is big, Westlake is bigger in both respects. It has way more people walking from there to places north (or west), and has much more popular connecting buses (E, D, 40, etc.). Then you have the awkward location of the UW station, which I’m sure has sent some people to different surface buses (the 70 instead of the old 71/72/73).

        That will likely change as Link moves farther north. In that sense, I guess there is a terminus effect. I would imagine that once you add stations in the U-District, Roosevelt and Northgate, the riders who use Husky Stadium will go down.

      3. At the pre-vote ST3 hearing in Federal Way, several people, complaining about lack of park and rides, stated that they did use airport parking to ride Link. It makes sense that these people would now use Angle Lake.

      4. I wouldn’t forget about the drop-off and pick-up market.The Angle Lake boarding volume suggests that there is a pretty healthy occurrence of this because it’s more than double the number of parking garage spaces.

        We no longer live in 2000. Most people can send texts for rides and many have Uber or Lyft on their phones. This is now a big way that people get to and from Link, and will be most important in areas where connecting buses are infrequent.

      5. @Al — Good point. This could also explain why SeaTac has lost some riders to Angle Lake. If you are dropping someone off from the south, Angle Lake is now more convenient (and TIBS is less convenient than either).

      6. There are also bus transfers from the south. All three stations offer A-Line transfers. I’m not sure how these particular stations are, but even P&R stations often get more total ridership from bus transfers than parking. TIBS wouldn’t have lost transferring riders to Angle Lake, but STAS would have.

      7. Both Angle Lake and UW have terminal effect. Coming by car or bus, it’s the same thing, people take the train as far as it goes, then they switch to whatever’s available. I remember an event at the Mt Baker Club, I sat next to a couple from Auburn; they said they often drove to TIB to take Link to Seattle. Naturally when Angle Lake opened they would have switched to it, as do people from Federal Way, as was John Bailo (RIP) from Kent East Hill eagerly awaiting to do. I wouldn’t put too much stock in TIB ‘going down”. It was overcrowded, so this may be a temporary phenomenon, people don’t realize there are spaces available. In any case population increase and planned developments in Tukwila will absorb them. Sound Transit assumed there would be a terminal effect. Angle Lake has a permanent garage but also some leased surface spaces that are temporary until the next extension. Likewise UW station was built big partly because it would be a temporary terminus. I walk down Rainier Vista a lot and I keep thinking, a lot of these people won’t be here when North Link opens, those wide concrete paths won’t have a thick crowd anymore, and that’s kind of sad.

      8. @Mike — But my point is that there wasn’t much of a terminus effect for Westlake, despite the fact that it was the end of the line, and no longer is. If memory serves, ridership has actually gone up. There are several reasons for this. The first is that no one was driving there to head further south. Second, for a lot of the buses (D, E, 5, 40) it still makes sense to get off there. They have lost riders to the old 71/72/73, but since those buses went in the tunnel, it wasn’t clear where they transferred (maybe early on, so they could get a better bus seat). In any event, the number of people traveling the other direction (UW to Westlake, Capitol Hill to Westlake) is enough to make up for the loss due to Westlake no longer being the last stop. That is normal for urban stops (I would expect Capitol Hill ridership to increase when Link gets to Northgate).

        The airport is an unusual location. It is a destination, yet it was the terminus. I would expect a fair number of people deciding to just park at Angle Lake and take the shuttle to the airport, if they are flying for the day (beats Wally Park). I wouldn’t expect that many people paying to park at SeaTac, or even being dropped off there as a way to hook up to Link. But based on the numbers, that is what people were doing. In other words, a fair amount of ridership at SeaTac was due not to it being by the airport, but it being the end of the line.

        As Link moves further south, I would expect each old terminus (e. g. Angle Lake) to take a bigger hit. But then again, with so many people driving and maxing out the park and rides, it might not be such a big drop-off.

        When Link terminates at Northgate, it will be interesting to see what happens with the UW station ridership. Buses will no longer terminate there, so there will be a loss in that regard, but additional trips (e. g. Northgate to the UW Medical Center) could more than make up for it, as it did with Westlake.

      9. Westlake is the largest station in the network. The number of people who transferred to the 71/72/73X or 41 or Capitol Hill routes were probably too few to notice compared to the number of people whose destination is the retail district or Pike Place or they’re transferring to a hundred other bus routes nearby or the monorail or streetcar.

  2. >> “HOT access is better than no access, which is what we’re seeing today,” says Bassett.

    >> “…being able to get to the Eastside or the westside was the big advantage. Not being marooned on an island.”

    Did WSDOT just shut down the highway entrances/exits on Mercer Island altogether? I’d seen that suggestion here but never thought they’d do it. /s

    1. I hope Mercer Island residents push for I-90 HOT lanes. If they support HOT lanes, it will change the political landscape to make it easier to implement tolling on all I-90 bridge lanes. And STB believes congestion pricing is a means to control demand for a limited resource, right?

      1. I’d have a slight preference for HOV while buses depends on I90, but once East Link is open I’d wholeheartedly endorse HOT lanes.

        I’m a big fan of the 405 HOT lanes and I see no reason we can’t apply the same toolkit to I90.

        Converting I90 to two HOT lanes and two un-tolled GP lanes is probably much easier politically than fully tolling the highway, so that might be a good place to start.

      2. Good point. I feel like HOT lanes got a bad rap around here because the state didn’t fully inform people that it would shift the congestion. That lead to a bunch of people simply wanting to eliminate them (which wouldn’t solve the problem in the least). It would be nice if a community actually said they want those things. It isn’t ideal — Mercer Island is known as an area only for the wealthy, and the stereotype of HOT lanes is that they only benefit the same — but it would still be good. Ideally you would have a community like Tacoma saying they want to convert the practically useless 2 person carpool lanes to HOT (with money going to serve those areas). Of course that would take real leadership that is rare — it is much easier to carry a pitchfork and blame someone else for the problem.

  3. After the racist attack in Portland, I saw a lot of stuff on Twitter complaining about security on Max. Any good articles covering this in depth?

      1. Or getting to the bus stop / MAX station. An awful lot of intersections in Portland are designed to kill pedestrians.

  4. Maybe kind of off topic, but I recently visited Sydney. Here’s my tourist’s impression of their public transit system:

    They too have a smartcard (Opal Card), but everything, even buses, has distance-based fares (tap-on/tap-off). I wasn’t familiar with their fare zones, never really knew how much I was paying (generally in the $2-4 range, I think) and I’d end up with strange amounts like AUD $2.81 left on my Opal Card. Looking at their wiki page now, it’s 3.38/2.36 for a 0-10km trip at peak/offpeak, 4.20/2.94 for a 10-20km trip peak/offpeak, and so on. Who comes up with this stuff?

    They have daily fare caps of AUD $15, which seems kind of high to me (for reference, AUD $1 = USD $0.74).

    Their rail system (Sydney Trains) is a weird hybrid suburban commuter rail + urban subway, kind of like Link, except they use larger double-deck railcars like those on Chicago’s Metra. Frequency is quite good in the CBD considering how large the trains are. There’s a surcharge tacked on if you board at the airport, making it AUD $16.50 to get to the CBD from the airport. It is however an extraordinarily fast ride, much faster than taking a cab in my experience.

    A lot of buses are marked “prepay only” which means that they only accept Opal Card and won’t take cash on board, which is nice. The one time I took the bus, as far as I could tell there was no way to know when a stop was coming up (no announcement), although I don’t know if that’s typical of all city buses.

    1. So… how easy/hard is it to get an Opal Card? And to add value (immediately — for obvious reasons being able to add online with a delay is often not good enough)? Are the “prepay only” routes ones that are located in areas where these things are easy along the entire route?

      I’m not sure there are any routes in Seattle where it’s easy to get or refill an ORCA.

      I haven’t been to a ton of cities outside the US, but a couple cities I’ve been to with paper-based POP systems make ORCA look like a clunker.

      1. I got mine at the airport, but apparently they’re sold and reloadable at 2,000 retailers across the state. Most convenience stores and grocery stores I saw seemed to be selling them. Looking at the map on the Opal website, the CBD seems to have a participating retailer pretty much every block and they’re also quite common in the suburbs. ORCA can and should do better – not sure if they have plans to expand to other retailers like 7-Eleven and Bartell Drugs, but I doubt it.

        Technology-wise, it seems to be similar to ORCA in that online refills 1) don’t take effect immediately (up to 1 hr delay, which still beats the hell out of ORCA) and 2) the card must be tapped within X days in order for the value to be added to the card. I didn’t try to reload mine online since I could do it in person pretty much everywhere, though.

      2. Heh, Seattle doesn’t even have a convenience store on near-every block downtown, let alone one selling ORCA cards. And this is to say nothing of refills. Try going to a retailer for a refill when you’re a visitor that doesn’t speak great English (an international visitor also might not have the ability to refill by smartphone — but generally you can’t require a smartphone with working Internet connection and make that your only payment scheme, even for locals). I’ve had no problem paying for transit in cities where I don’t speak the language, so I don’t think this is too high a bar to meet.

        On a recent trip it was helpful that my hotel sold transit tickets. Apparently many hotels do. How many hotels around Seattle have ORCA cards for visitors?

      3. Even if Pugetoplis had ORCA cards at every convenience store, our lack of density and walkability would still make it more difficult for people to find the vendors and get the cards than in some other cities. In London there’s a newsstand on practically every corner. In Chicago el stations are all over the place so there’s always one nearby. In Seattle you have to know which convenience chains and supermarket chains have them, and when you get out of the station it may not be visible, it may be several blocks away.

      4. @Mike — Oh, I don’t know, it could be fairly similar to how everyone gets cash. You go to the website, look at the map, and walk there (or use a phone app to do the same). Eventually you figure out that certain stores (like 7-11 in my case) have no fee ATMs (for Credit Union members). There are times when it might be big walk, but rarely.

        In contrast, ORCA cards are a real pain. I remember being over at a friends house, in a typical Seattle neighborhood (Ravenna). The brother of his wife was in from out of town, and he was planning on going around to different parts of town during the day. There was a long discussion involving borrowing ORCA cards (who needed it and when) as well as various alternatives. Eventually, they just kind of gave up. I just don’t see that happening if they were cheaper and easier to buy.

      5. You as a resident can do that. A visitor who knows nothing about the city would not know which chains have ORCA cards and even when they knew about one they might find it hard to find from the station. Whereas for ATMs a good strategy is to go to the financial district or to any large shopping district and they’ll be prominent (because banks have a lot of money to lease the most prominent locations), or you can go to any supermarket and find one of those high-priced ATMs. (And you can ask anybody, “Where’s the nearest supermarket?” I always do when I’m visiting a city and an staying in a hotel somewhere, so I can get some fruit and snacks and not depend solely on restaurants.)

  5. Pretty bad meltdown on NB 3rd Avenue during last evening’s rush hour. Combination of the paving work and the Key Arena concert I assume.

    My bus was mercifully “only” 30 minutes delayed, almost all of that time spent between Union and Bell. I saw a #40 that was 57 minutes late (!) to Ballard on OBA.

    The largest cause was a Rapid Ride bus attempting a right turn at Blanchard (is that the route now?). It could not clear intersection for about 10 minutes because of traffic on Blanchard and because of the single lane, every NB bus was unable to pass.

    1. Oh, what I would give to have a grade-separated rail line between the Seattle Center and Westlake that lots of riders would ride.

      1. That sounds alot like the monorail. Why doesn’t the city just take over the monorail and rebrand it “5th avenue street car”? then the only cost of putting orca on the monorail would be the readers themselves.

    2. i was probably on that 40. two hours from Pioneer Square to downtown Ballard.

    3. The E is rerouted because of the construction. It’s skipping the Virginia station and it may be turning on a different street.

    4. Were the Sonics playing last night at the Key Arena, I saw Kevin Durant on TV. This is the trouble with Mayor Murray’s idea of choosing Key Arena for a future site for the NBA/NHL/Major music events.

      1. Yep. Put the Sonics and Metropolatians at the Key and messes like yesterday will be a near daily occurrence. I don’t care what the developers say about the utility of the monorail and/or parking apps, putting these teams at the Key is a traffic disaster.

  6. “If her ordinance passes, tenants would be free to terminate a lease with written notice if their landlord fails to provide the voter registration information.”

    Yeah, sure, that’s not controversial. A man rents an apartment, is there for 6 months, and then decides he wants to break the lease. He sends the landlord a letter claiming he didn’t get a voter registration application and leaves with no consequences.


    1. What happened to personal responsibility? If the renter can’t get registration information on his own, then it’s not a priority. People should be able to be responsible on their own, without being hand-fed.

    2. The lease-breaker will have already signed a statement, at the time she/he moved in, that she/he received all the information the landlord is required to provide to her/him, including a voter registration card.

      Landlords won’t have higher liability, so long as the statements are up-to-date and the lessee signs before the keys are handed to her/him.

      The one angle RHA could have is if they are required to provide voter registration information to current lessees, in which case lessees could refuse to sign the additional statement. Fix that, and the RHA is reduced to grousing about helping more renters vote.

      If there is any less onerous requirement among the many truly onerous requirements we place on landlords these days, I’m not coming up with it.

    3. I think we should also make the renters sign a pledge to brush their teeth every evening. I mean, it’s for their own good, and they might be too dumb to remember if we don’t remind them with a law.

      1. I take it you haven’t signed a lease lately to see what is required of tenants.

        The dental self-care is in there somewhere.

        Rules against posting political signs are somewhere in mine, too. I don’t think that was put there by the City. I believe the RHA is the source of that nanny regulation.

        Rules against saying stupid stuff on twitter, blogs, or other social media, not so much.

        RHA made a mistake here reminding tenants everywhere they consider tenants to be their adversaries. RHA was free to be stupid. And so they chose to be.

      2. RHA was free to be stupid. And so they chose to be.

        Yeah, I mean, I’m open to hearing arguments that some regulation we have or might someday impose on landlords create unreasonable burdens, or may have unintended negative consequences. But when they complain about something like this that is so obviously a non-burden, it harms their credibility when talking about move-in fee caps, etc.

      3. It’s not so much about being a burden to landlords (and you are right, I haven’t rented in awhile). It’s more like why are we spending government time, energy and regulations on babysitting people to vote? Is there nothing else for Ms. Sawant to work on? Renters are adults. If they want to register to vote, that’s their choice.

        Also, if you are implying that I was “saying stupid stuff on twitter, blogs, or other social media, not so much” well I thought comments were a place to discuss things. So thanks for the nice personal insult. The comment was sarcastic. I’m certainly not a Republican troll but frankly when I walk by 50 homeless people everyday on my 1 mile walk from work, these ticky tacky little regulations meant to micromanage people’s lives seems like a waste when we have big problems. I guess it’s easier than tackling the hard problems.

      4. “why are we spending government time, energy and regulations on babysitting people to vote?”

        Because it’s the most fundamental feature of democracy.

      5. This past election in France, turnout was approximately 75% and it was the lowest turnout in decades.

        If the USA had managed that, it would have been the highest turnout in decades.

      6. It’s more like why are we spending government time, energy and regulations on babysitting people to vote?


        I think one difference is you’re thinking about this strictly at a methodologically individualist level. We don’t really gain any power through our individual vote, but *groups* gain power through their collective vote. Right now, renters are a solid majority of Seattle residents, but homeowners have more political power. This imbalance of power is reflected in public policy that There’s lots of reasons for this, but one of them is that homeowners are more reliable sources of votes.

        It’s a fact that moving is a PITA and stressful and lots of non-urgent things you really should do that get associated with the move end up getting put on the back-burner and sometimes altogether forgotten about. I’ve done this before, and had to cast a provisional ballot as a result. You are correct that that’s my fault, in some sense I certainly thought so–I was embarrassed by my failure on that front. But it’s also human nature that some people are going to overlook this, and that fact reduces the political power of all renters. Given the extraordinarily low cost of this measure (literally, landlords download a document, print it, and stick it in a pile of documents), there’s no reason not to do it, on the hopes that it might work against the current disparity in political power between owners and renters, which in itself is a major source of terrible public policy (much of which Sawant seems to support, but that’s another matter.)

        As for “nothing else to work on” this question betrays a misunderstanding about the nature of legislative work. “The big stuff” is hard; it requires a lot of time and effort to get it right, build support, etc. In the meantime, it’s standard practice to look for relatively small, uncontroversial legal changes one can make might make things a little better to try to pass. Every good legislator does this. Applying the standard that question implies could be used to impugn the vast majority of proposed and enacted legislation.

      7. “We don’t really gain any power through our individual vote, but *groups* gain power through their collective vote.”

        No! That’s a slippery slope toward identity politics, which is straining our democracy to the breaking point. The country is formed of individuals, not groups. Individuals have principles and values and can voice them. The similarities between those are what create the groups. If you focus on groups first, then individual choice eventually gets lost, and powerful people can manipulate the group identities to their own advantage (and sometimes to the disadvantage of the group itself or surrounding groups). In the mid 20th century this was more widely understood, and more people voted for politicians based on the latter’s indiviidual qualities and party differences were less significant (both parties had large conservative and liberal wings). An individual in power with an unusual talent or viewpoint can change things significantly for a generation. You don’t need groups or identity voting, you just need politicians and voters with positive values.

        It shouldn’t be “I’m X race so I’m voting for Y party.”; and it’s sad that it has gotten to the point that some people feel they have to do that because Z party will harm their civil rights and quality of life. We need to get away from that as quickly as possible.

        The difference may be subtle, but the point is that renters’ concerns are important because a large number of people have this renter status and thus are impacted. If we treat the group, “renters”. as the important and sovereign entity, then other aspects of those people might get neglected. They may all have the same rent-related concerns, but they also have many other concerns which differ by person and may contradict other people’s concerns.

        That’s what drives me up the wall about leftist group rhetoric at the UW or coming out of the Sawant wing or street protests. It assumes that if you are in X group, then you believe Y, Z, and A. B. C too.

      8. We need to look at the fundamental problem. Why is the burden on voters to register? If voting is a fundamental aspect of democracy — if the right to express your viewpoint and vote for your leaders is what makes our Constitution and system so great — then why don’t we register everybody automatically? Put the burden on the state rather than on voters. And make voting mandatory like in Australia. Provide a simple “Present” choice on the ballot for those who don’t want to register an opinion.

      9. No! That’s a slippery slope toward identity politics, which is straining our democracy to the breaking point. The country is formed of individuals, not groups. Individuals have principles and values and can voice them.

        That’s an ideological, not empirical, description of politics. As a liberal modernist individualist, it’s an ideological description I find attractive, but that’s no reason to assume it’s a useful heuristic for understanding politics in the real world. It’s not how things work, as it badly misdescribes the psychology and sociology of political behavior. Identity politics just *is* politics; we have little to gain by sticking our heads in the sand about this.

        Strongly recommended:

      10. In the mid 20th century this was more widely understood, and more people voted for politicians based on the latter’s indiviidual qualities and party differences were less significant (both parties had large conservative and liberal wings).

        Achen and Bartels take apart this myth systematically and persuasively. Yes, the mid-20th century was a time of less polarization and ideologically diverse political parties. At first glance, that sounds similar to what you’re describing but it withers under more careful scrutiny.

    4. While this seems like an OK proposal, I’d much rather she spent her energy pushing an automatic voter registration bill through our gridlocked state legislature. Also, push for absentee ballots to have postage pre-paid or greatly expand drop boxes.

      That’s how you expand voting rights, not some half-assed renter-voter pamphlet requirement, which will get largely ignored and open the City up to a lawsuit.

      1. Why would you want Sawant to expend her efforts on efforts we know will be futile?

      2. BTW, how the heck would RHA have a legal basis to sue over something as simple as voter registration information, when they are already required to provide a lot more information than that? What is the legal argument?

      3. What if Seattle City Light provided the information when a new account was created?

        Presumably every new renter needs a new City Light account. City Light is already a public agency and they already provide a lot of information for new users. Seems like it would be easier.

      4. Seattle already requires a couple dozen extra pages added to leases. A copy of the Landlord-Tenant Act, information about mold and bedbugs and cleaning them up, whether the building does/doesn’t have certain safety features, etc. This would just be a couple more pages. What I don’t see is how this work with online lease-signing. All the other pages are just information: you just read them and sign that you received them. But voter registration involves sending a form to the county. That would be inconvenient inside a big online bundle. So maybe it would have two parts: information in the bundle, and the actual form or instructions separate.

      5. The thing is, KS may not want everyone to register to vote. Renters are more likely to be her base of voters compared to homeowners.

      6. I’d much rather she spent her energy pushing an automatic voter registration bill through our gridlocked state legislature.

        She’s not in the state legislature.

      7. “KS may not want everyone to register to vote. Renters are more likely to be her base of voters compared to homeowners.”

        Renters went above 50% of Seattle’s population a year or so ago, so if she succeeds in registering all renters, that will be the majority of Seattle. Also, renders have a lower registration rate than homeowners. That’s partly because of people moving, but it’s also demographics. The retired and stay-at-home people who attend a lot of land use meetings because they have time to tend to own their homes and tend to vote in high numbers. That could be because of age, generation, economic privilege, etc — all giving them the means to own their house and have time to attend meetings, and giving them a culturally high motivation to vote. So Sawant doesn’t have to worry about homeowners voting in high numbers because they already vote in high numbers, so there aren’t that many more to recruit. But there are a lot of renters to recruit. And as I said, renders are the majority of the city now.

      8. @Brent: Whether or not the RHA has a legal basis to sue or not, they will, even if it is just an extra piece of paper or two; it’s what they do and I’m sure they’ll cry First Amendment, regardless of the validity. The case will either get tied up in courts or Seattle will settle up front to avoid a court battle. Either way, taxpayers will be on the hook. I’m not saying I’m against this proposal, It just seems like there were a lot better methods to go about doing it, with a lot less resistance.

        Barman suggested a good start: Seattle City Light. Of course, there are buildings that have electricity (and all other utilities) included, so we’d still be missing some people.

        @djw: And as we know, nobody that’s not in a state or national legislature has ever introduced or influenced a bill in said legislatures…ever…in the history of the universe. Thanks for your useful contribution!

      9. In FL you’re offered the opportunity to register to vote or update your voter registration whenever you change your driver license or state ID card address–whether online or at the office. Haven’t got to that step yet so I’m not sure if WA does this?

      10. @djw: And as we know, nobody that’s not in a state or national legislature has ever introduced or influenced a bill in said legislatures…ever…in the history of the universe. Thanks for your useful contribution!

        The point is that Sawant has no pull and no power with Olympia. As a general rule Seattle City councilmembers don’t, but her “socialist” tag reduces the chances she’ll have much pull even more. When she tries to tell them what to do (ie, rent control) she’s really just grandstanding for her supporters, not being an effective politician. I prefer it when politicians try to figure out what they can do within the confines of their office, not make pretty speeches and pretend they have vastly more influence when they do.

      11. Generally, when someone argues, “I wish you people would do this instead,” they don’t actually mean it. What they really mean is, “I hope you don’t succeed at what you’re doing, and I wish you would go away.”

      12. RHA won’t sue over this, since the lawsuit will quickly cost a lot more than what they have to spend (essentially nothing) to follow the new law. They have bigger suits over actually burdensome regulations on which to spend money. And the impending sure loss and being on the hook to pay the city’s legal bills will help them return to rationality.

        But if we want to talk about 1st Amendment violations, how about bans on tenants posting political signs? It hasn’t been tested, that I know of, but those who believe in free speech must certainly find fault with such landlord tactics.

        For those here motivated to discourage tenants from voting (and I can tell who they are from the lameness/insincerity of the arguments), consider that it is homeowners who are doing the most to stand in the way of transit-oriented development, upzones, and property rights in general. The renter class is your natural ally. Don’t staff the barracks against them over every little thing.

    5. Having recently filed change of address forms I can report that both the US Postal Service and State department of Licensing provide great opportunities to change voting records with a new address. I used the link provided by the USPS. More legislation is not needed.

  7. Word to Bob Hasegawa and many, many others:

    Elected Sound Transit Board? At least with present system, everyone on the ST Board, whatever their expertise in transit, must at least have some time governing. Before anybody votes “yes”, please attend public comment next time the Ruth Fisher room is in use.

    You’ll learn two critical things. One, what the Board will look like if the majority of public commenters get elected to it. But even worse, fact that membership soon turns you into a billionaire gangster will Disrupt the whole Board into moving to Seattle.

    About the “D-Word” itself, my own ATU Local 587 membership entitled me to enough grievance votes to know this:

    Though my “no” votes were always overridden by the other 19 people out of a membership of 4000 at the meeting, have to admit that first-line transit could survive a lot of people whose specialty was disruption returned to duty. Thankfully, standards were stricter for line crews handling high voltage electricity.

    But right now, reason I really hate the word “Disruption” in official usage is that instead of a uniformed pest in my same uniform, I see shaved heads, company T-shirts, dark glasses, and title of CEO.

    C’mon, Elon, put Tesla’s most disruptive person on payroll in charge of power train, steering, and brakes. Just be sure you pay him enough that Seattle rents don’t make him move to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

    Mark Dublin

  8. In recent days I’ve noticed electric coaches going on battery power on 3rd Ave in at least the area from Macy’s to Benaroya Hall. At least routes 2 and 14 I believe. There’s also plastic guides installed on the wires for automated reattachment in front of Benaroya (I think) southbound at least as if Metro expects trolleys to be routinely going off wire.

    Is this a new thing to take advantage of the new off wire abilities of these coaches? Just curious. Sorry if this is well covered in other posts.

    1. When I saw this a couple weeks ago, my assumption was that the 3rd Ave rebuild around Bell St required the trolley wires to be powered off. In any case, it’s awesome to see Metro using the off-wire capabilities rather than using a confusing reroute.

      1. Skylar, I’m very glad to see Metro finally starting to take full use of off-wire capabilities. When these buses first came in, rule said drivers had to call control before dropping poles. Hope end of this rule also says goodbye to the state of mind behind it.

        Mark Dublin

    2. I was on a 1 a couple of weeks ago that put its poles back up around 2nd and Clay, so there are rewire pans there too.

  9. I think that I’ve officially annoyed a bus driver so I thought I’d throw the story out here for comment. :)

    About half of the time, my commute home has me transfer at a major and minor arterial in northwest Seattle. On those nights, I catch the last run of the bus that serves the minor arterial. Lately, the bus has arrived with its interior lights turned off and “TO TERMINAL” displayed on the front.

    The driver still stops for me and serves the rest of the route (roughly five more stops until I get off at the end) but I can tell that the driver *really* wanted to turn onto the major arterial and head back to base. Last night, I could tell the driver was especially irked.

    I mean, I can’t really complain about the service because I do get home and I do get picked up. But it feels a bit petty to get glared at when I’m at a legit stop for a regularly scheduled route and I pay my fare and ride quietly. I also can’t complain “anonymously” because the driver would know that it is me as the driver has commented that I’m the only person the driver has picked up at that stop at that time of night.

    I suppose if I’ve gone my whole life and only irked one driver, I’m doing OK… I think I should just leave it be, yeah?

    1. If the run is on the schedule, the driver should do his job, and shouldn’t make you feel bad about it. The bus exists to transport people, and you’re a person to be transported. If you don’t want to complain, another strategy might be to be extra cheerful and sympathetic: that might lessen his stress and make the experience more pleasant for you.

      1. Yeah, if you think the driver is upset, you could actually talk to him. I tend to walk towards the back of the bus, but if the bus is empty, I sit close to the front. I never bother the driver, but if he looks upset, I would ask him. “You seem upset, did I do something wrong? Do you want me to get on at a different spot?”. I think most drivers would stop whining almost immediately and see they are being petty. Or maybe they do have a suggestion, and it is not exactly what you think it is. Either way everyone wins.

    2. I used to have that exact thing happen to me when I lived in another city with lots of transit. I complained after a few times.

      The only way to get it to stop happening regularly is to not only file multiple complaints, but maybe take a video of the bus as well as get other riders to complain. Finally, I suggest copying an elected official because always gets more attention than merely complaining to the agency.

  10. Mike, whether you’re looking for blame or credit, since if the driver didn’t blow up in your face he was probably irked already. As witness close-bred creatures everywhere, starting with aristocrats and kennel clubs, congenital irk destroys everything except the brain.

    Since both those groups either don’t have one or live in a culture where thinking “just isn’t done!” the illness does undiagnosed.

    Purebred Irish Setters are often misdiagnosed by owners whose slippers have just been chewed up, not realizing that in the sport-hunting and Best In Show (howl of a movie!) worlds, absolute mandate for a nose puts cranial space at a minimum.

    Confirmed by fact that whatever other emotions Irish Setters register, by lolling their tongues and wagging their tails hard enough to fell an attacker, they never look irked.

    Your driver’s problem could be karmic. Maybe in a past life, maybe your driver was a stage coach passenger irked getting chased fifty miles by buzzards, and took complaint it to the Letters to the Editor column of Tombstone Arizona or wherever the stage driver turned back too soon and missed the Chisholm Trail.

    Even better, it’s an actual fact that in street rail days before computers- the PCC streetcar didn’t need them, did it?!- the company put a mechanism at every turnback to be sure the train “registered.” Maybe a little flexible stick on a switch for the trolleypole to trigger.

    But meantime, just on general principles, might be a good idea to immediately go on Twitter and warn the general public that even though it’s not politically correct to say so, terrorists have started pouring concentrated irk into our drinking water supply.

    Since only thing that stops it is lead, we know a hundred percent why the liberals are all ragging on the Governor of Michigan for saving a whole city from an irk epidemic. Though possible that “irk” is the last thing people say when they drink water from Flint.


  11. Not “except the brain”, Mark, ESPECIALLY the brain. Go claim your kingdom and pipe its drinking water from the reservoir in Flint!


  12. That terrible highway bill in Oregon also contains a 3% sales tax on bikes, so they can “pay their fair share”.


    1. Maybe pro-bike legislators- Oregon has some- can reach a compromise. Include enough bike safety in the bill to leave bicyclists alive to pay it.


  13. Since Durkan seems likely get Murray’s supporters (and likely making the runoff) is it worth having Erica B. having a separate blog post when she interviews her?

    Also, does STB or the horde have any idea who Mayor Durkan might put in charge of SDOT?

  14. I’m surprised that STB is not one of the co-sponsors of the Transportation and Housing Candidate Forum? It seems like something up the right alley?

  15. Yesterday I received my Hop Card (TriMet / C-Tran fare card). Anyone want me to write up a Page 2 article on how my beta test experience goes?

    1. Yes! I’ll be in Portland for a few days next month; was going to figure out if I can/should order a card in advance for use on that trip. I was going to get one anyway–I’m only in Portland ~10 days a year, but it’ll be nice to not have to worry about cash anymore when I’m down there. I just wasn’t sure if it made sense yet.

      1. I don’t think you can order the cards yet. My card is part of the beta test of the system.

        If it were me visiting here, and I already had a SmartPhone, I would probably just use the SmartPhone ticket system. I would say somewhere around half the passengers seem to be using it.

        It will eventually get integrated into the HOP card system so that you can tap an NFC equipped phone on the card readers and not have a card at all.

      2. Here we go:

        It basically works just like a TriMet paper ticket, only it is displayed on the phone screen. There are a couple of security features that keep it from being pirated. This includes display of a barcode and turning on the lights in the animated display. The FAQ page tells how to do all that if asked.

  16. RE: Sawant and voter registration. Have not been a renter in a while, but if a landlord handed me a voter registration form, I’d probably take it as an insult to my intelligence and would have to refrain from shoving it up their ass. While its not burdensome per se (I am a landlord in north King County), the air of “let me tell you what’s best for you in areas that have nothing to do with the contract between us – first up, have you registered to vote?” is very intrusive, and assumes the tenant can’t make their own way. This is a gross violation of my values of: assume competency of other adults unless proven otherwise. Politics is a secular religion; should I give them a listing of local churches as well? And it begs the question: why can’t existing government or non profit systems manage to promote voter registration? Must every problem that government can’t solve be shoved onto the backs of landlords or building owners?

    1. I think the scenario you describe is easily defused by verbiage like “I’m legally required to give you this packet of information,” and then there would be no potential insult to intelligence to tenant by landlord that you fear?

    2. ( can’t imagine being insulted by a voter registration form, I’d think, “Wow, the government makes this convenient,” Voting is not politics, it’s a civic duty. But I agree with, why have landlords involved? The proponents see a relationship with renters and low voting rates and the inconvenience of moving, so it’s natural to suggest a soution that ties the three together. But it’s it’s also a more fundamental failure to ask, why do we have voter registration at all? Maybe it made more sense decades ago when there weren’t databases that could be linked together. It’s like with employer-based medical insurance. People keep trying to prop it up without asking, why do we have this kind of system? It’s not because the country evaluated several systems and decided this one was best. It’s because WWII price controls prevented companies from attracting people with higher salaries, so they offered medical insurance as a competitive advantage, back when modern healthcare was so new that nobody had insurance.

      However, I can also see the proponents’ point that as long as we have a system where people have to register to vote, just like as long as the state continues to prohibit rent control, we have to work within that system and find solutions within it. We can’t just say, “Oh well, it doesn’t matter if renters don’t vote”, because it harms them and it harms everyone.

    3. I’m still waiting for a serious reason why a requirement to provide voter registration info to new tenants is an undue burden on landlords. Is it imposing some sort of mental duress? Are landlords worried about the additional paper cuts? Are they worried that the cards are flammable? or tainted with some sort of bacteria that will spread Greyscale? I’m at a loss as to why some have gone to lengths to resist something as harmless as this.

      What is the real harm to landlords?

      1. After thinking about this voter registration thing for a bit, as a landlord, I’ve come around. Renters tend to vote for legislation that increases our costs, which we then pass onto them in the form of higher rents, due to the prevailing renter assumption that all landlords sleep on a huge pile of money. “Registration” doesn’t always equal “plans on voting”. In the end, the people that are more politically involved/aware don’t need their landlord’s assistance anyway and are already voting.

        Gene Balk recently ran a ST article about the BURDEN of remembering to mail in your absentee ballot and how easy it was to forget. Soon, it will be a “right” for you to stay at home while a “vote counter” comes to your house, so as to not burden you with having to leave or remember anything.

        As long as I don’t have to personally call my tenant to remind them to vote, I look forward to this passing and another rent increase. However, when this fails to yield the revolutionary increase in tenant voters (I believe not one bit of impact) I am curious to see what will be proposed next.

      2. Asking landlords to add one more form to the piles they already provide will not cause rent increases. It is completely ludicrous idea, that would suggest that we shouldn’t be listening to landlords on this issue.

      3. To be fair, it isn’t landlords throwing a hissy fit over nothing. It is just the RHA. I suspect some landlords will be throwing a hissy fit at the RHA over wasting their dues doing stupid stuff like lobbying against the voter registration information requirement, when there are much bigger issues on which members of the RHA could use real help from the RHA.

        A lot of landlords probably stay away from the RHA anyway because of its right-leaning political spending.

      4. ” landlords sleep on a huge pile of money”

        Rents have increased 5-10% ever year since the early 2000s except for 2008-2011. Nothing else in the economy has risen that fast. Inflation has been 1-2%, labor around that, and voter-approved new taxes can’t add up to 10%. That leaves the appreciation of the building, which has probably gone up the most, but that’s an investment with a return, and I understand commercial apartment buildings don’t rise as fast as single-family houses. So where else is the rest of the money going if not under landlord’s beds? Tenants would be more willing to cooperate with landlords for mutual benefit if they didn’t feel like they were being fleeced every year. I have gotten letters of rent increases claiming “taxes and utilities” but no evidence that they’ve gone up that much, and as I said it sounds implausable.

      5. Mike: sounds like you need to get out more. “Landlord” covers everything from people like me with ONE condo unit from corporate entities. I have not made ONE cent renting my unit, as life circumstances pushed me to rent the unit when a family member died; I had planned to live it in myself for years.

        It is a 2 bedroom, 2 full bath, walking distance to a park and ride. Rent under $1000 – very affordable, which is a strategy I employ as a single-unit landlord – I opt to keep a good tenant when I get one.

        So, yeah, as the owner of a very nice, very affordable unit – FORGOING any cash flow I might get to keep the status quo…I roll my eyes and will continue to at blanket statements aimed at landlords as assholes simply looking to make a buck on the backs of the poor – sleeping on a pile of money. Like many other areas of life, the assholes ruin it for the ones who are not. The “renter advocate” contingent, hell bent on painting all landlords with the same brush, do as much to destroy their credibility as the lawsuit being filed by landlord groups towards Sawant’s proposal.

      6. I’ve seen a lot of landlords drift towards other landlord organizations away from RHA, primarily for the cheaper dues but still getting the same core services (forms, guides, and bulletins).

        I don’t want to be a landlord shill/apologist, but I’ve heard lots of small time landlords talk about rising expenses, especially property taxes as home values skyrocket and costs for repairmen and maintenance.

        That said, I do agree that it is possible there is huge profits being made by landlords, but landlord/tenant cooperation wouldn’t change it, only reforming our awful land use codes to legalize housing.

      7. “Rents have increased 5-10% ever year since the early 2000s except for 2008-2011.”

        The relevant metric is rent increases on existing rental properties with no renovations. It’s similar to comparing same-store sales growth in retail. In a booming market like Seattle, much of the growth in “average” rental rates is driven by new luxury units added to the equation; same story for the headline price of SF homes.

        Rents are certainly increasing at a rapid pace, but unless a landlord is in a particularly hot neighborhood, they are likely not getting 5% increases unless then are investing back into the property.

      8. To be fair, it isn’t landlords throwing a hissy fit over nothing. It is just the RHA

        The RHA is the people landlords have hired to speak on their behalf. If they think, as I do, that the RHA is being silly and “crying wolf” here, making it less likely they’ll be taken seriously when they object to actually burdensome regulation, I encourage them to employ some voice and/or exit to go along with their loyalty.

    4. Might be a device for the city to keep track of landlords for one reason or another and have a wider candidate pool for jury duty.

Comments are closed.