17 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Lean into the Wind”

  1. On yesterday’s thread, someone asked about all of Metro’s annoying loop-de-loops that waste several minutes for through-riders, and tend to not actually save any time for riders at that stop either.

    Tukwila International Boulevard Station is an example where the destination has lots of transfers, but the loop ends up costing time for transfer riders, on the F Line and route 128.

    Olsen-Meyer P&R has a route 60 stop mostly used by residents of Arrowhead Gardens (another example of transit-ruining development). It is not in Arrowhead Gardens, as errantly suggested by googlemaps, but rather a decent walk south of the development. If the choice is between making park&riders walk and making residents of the senior housing complex walk, I would much rather let the parkers walk to a stop in the middle of the senior complex. But, hey, Metro has a legacy bus shelter in the middle of the lot. The stop adds about 5 minutes to everyone else’s trip. The slope on Olson Pl SW makes it difficult to have on-street stops there. The pedestrian situation on Olson is scary. There isn’t much that can be done there, but having the eastbound stop on 2nd Ave SW would better serve most Arrowhead Gardens riders and reduce the detour time for the through riders who far outnumber the riders boarding and alighting there.

    Route 150 has the SKCAC Industries loop.

    Route 106 has a legacy loop through the Mt Baker Transit Center, kind of left over from its glory days as route 38, when it had a most excellent connection to Mt Baker Station.

    Route 101 has a backtrack path to the South Renton Park&Ride that it has to serve all day, instead of going straight between Renton Transit Center and downtown. But then, the Renton City Council is tired of their pedestrian-and-downtown-business-oriented transit center, and wants to kill its downtown by moving all the transfers to a giant park&ride. Really, downtown Renton should just be a series of stops on the way from Kent East Hill and various Renton neighborhoods to the east and south, to Rainier Beach Station, with much better frequency. Ironically, a pork grant from the state legislature is likely going to entomb the planning mistakes on route 101 a few more years, when the Rainier Beach restructure is desperately needed before the convention center One Center City mess hits the point of maximum constraint. I don’t know if I get to pin this one on my illustrious Sen. Hasegawa, or if one of my reps threw this unhelpfulness into the transportation budget.

    I’ve beaten the topic of having bus bays at the far end of the South Kirkland Park & Ride (route 255) instead of on the street to death. I don’t think having the stops in the lot saves riders boarding at the transit-ruining development there any time at all, and costs gobs of former through-ridership.

    There are still a few routes that go into the campus at North Seattle Community College, wasting the time of both students and through-riders.

    South Shoreline Station is basically expanding on all the bus connection mistakes of TIBS. It really needs a pedestrian path straight to 145th, so future planners can get it right and keep the SR 522 BRT route on 145th, at least in one direction. There is no reason to have planned both ends of the station to be on either side of the park & ride. Give one exit to the parkers and one to the pedestrians and through riders down on 145th.

    One more rant: Stations have two ends, over a football field in length apart. Don’t think of the station as a singularity. Plan using the two ends. ST got this right at Angle Lake Station, at Othello Station, and at Columbia City Station, and is getting it right at I-90/Rainier Ave Station. ST got this wrong at TIBS, at Rainier Beach Station, at SODO Station, at Stadium Station, and is getting this so wrong at South Shoreline Station, and even worse at Downtown Bellevue Station.

    1. I agree. Plus these sort of mistakes set up a nasty cycle by messing up the grid.

      The station at 145th is a good example. The logical termination point for a bus that goes along SR 522 and SR 523 is Greenwood, or at least Aurora. That ties together major corridors which contain very frequent bus service. A trip from say, 135th and Aurora to Kenmore is very simple. Just take the E north, and this other bus east. You are following the same basic direction as you would driving.

      But with the detour, that trip takes longer. The station isn’t “on the way” even though we built it expressly for transit! This might be the difference between taking the bus or just driving. When that happens, ridership suffers, and in turn, so does frequency.

      In this case, it probably isn’t a huge deal. But with the Northgate Transit Center, it is. It takes forever to get from Ballard to Lake City, and the big reason for that is the bus makes the detour to Northgate Transit Center (away from Northgate Way). That will continue, of course, because we are building the station there. The irony is, of course, that the main reason the transit center is there — the main value of it being there in particular — is going away when Link is built. Right now the 41 gets on the express lane right next to the transit center, but in a few years, it won’t. There really is no reason for the station to be at the transit center other than inertia — a station at Northgate Way would have been much better.

      You can also add the lack of a 520 station to that list. The Husky Stadium station is OK as far as serving that corner of campus. It would be better inside the triangle, but it is still OK. The problem is, it doesn’t work well at all in terms of serving the 520 buses (a problem which is just now become apparent to some East Side mayors). The problem would go away if they simply considered the impact that Link could have on a transit grid. Then you would add two stations — one close to the triangle, and one under 520. The one under 520, of course, could simply wait until the state finishes the freeway there, which is happening as we speak.

      But to approach the transit system in that manner requires a different mindset, which is obviously missing. How else can you explain not only the lack of a SR 520 station, but NE 130th? The writer known as d.p. often complained about calling the Link stations “stations”. He thought they should be called stops. I thought that was a trivial difference, but I now see his point, as that attitude permeates Link. It seems like Link is being designed as if it is a city to city rail line, as opposed to a subway. This explains the recent naming choices, which are ridiculously long. Instead of “145th”, it is “Shoreline South/145th”. Somehow it was essential to name the city — to emphasize that Link is serving the city — rather than emphasize the street names in a case where even a kindergarten student could follow the pattern (“We just left 130th, honey, do you think 145th or 185th is next?”). Beyond the trivial matter of station names, it explains the decision to leave out essential stations, locate them in the wrong place, or otherwise prevent a smooth, free flowing transit system.

      It also explains the angst felt by transit riders, when it comes to park and rides. The station is not seen as an integral part of the transit network in the area, but as a node to a stand alone system. It is only logical that someone try to reach that node the way they reach almost everything in their lives: in a car. Unfortunately, because of the decisions made along the way, that will remain the only logical option, as it becomes too expensive for the bus system to serve the station, while maintaining a decent grid. To paraphrase Jarrett Walker, the worst thing you can do is build a rail line and not have the train people talk to the bus people. I’m afraid that has happened (either that, or the bus people really have no idea what they are doing).

      1. Couldn’t have said any of that better, Ross, so I won’t. Well done. I’m glad we have Link and am excited about getting more — but I’m more than a little wistful when I think about how easy some of these transfers and connections could have been. We want to get people used to thinking about a network instead of a single-seat ride for everyone, but without simple connections there are going to be many people who say “Why would I do that?” We’re seeing it at Husky Stadium right now – it will certainly come up for some at places like 145th (“South Shoreline?” Nobody in the history of forever has ever called it that! The street number is sufficient.) Northgate is so bad that unless you’re going to the mall and vicinity itself – or walking over to the college – it will be used by almost nobody living north of Northgate Way once 130th opens. Why would you mess with trying to get past the mall? Not to mention that the poor people who live west of the freeway are just screwed. (Fortunately I think there will be sufficient density built at or around the mall that the station will still be heavily used, but it could have been much better.)

    2. With my new job, I’m now stuck on the 255’s loop-de-loop through South Kirkland P&R twice a day, every day. The good news is that it’s not as bad as many of the other detours in Metro’s system, costing about 2-3 minutes per trip. At the end of the day, this is a small enough amount to still be worth it, given the westbound HOV lane. But, once the new 520 bridge trail opens, I suspect just pedaling across the lake is going to become as fast, if not faster than the bus.

    3. I have seen the South Kirkland P&R bus stop completely packed with fifty-some riders in the late morning. I don’t know how common that is but it looks like a well-used stop.

      1. No. Park n riders may complain, but the walking distance is within the margin of error of their total trip. They’d want bus shelters to protect from the rain of course.

      2. Metro has always treated park-and-riders specially. Those going to destinations other than their car don’t have buses detouring for them. In some cases (like people that live in the apartments on the east side of 108th), the detour actually makes them walk further.

        I guess the theory is that those who live across the street from the P&R (that the bus is detouring away from) can always get in their cars drive across the street if they can’t make the walk.

      3. More likely that people walk to bus stops, so it doesn’t matter if the stop is here or there or a little further. But those are only two or three people (in low-density Kirkland where only a small fraction of the population rides the bus), whereas a P&R has hundreds of people all in one place — that’s the purpose of the P&R and the express buses from them, to gather a lot of people at one bus stop. So naturally it should go into the P&R to where the center of those hundreds of people are. Stopping on the street outside the P&R is too “new thinking” to contemplate yet, and the primary riders may not take kindly to it.

      4. Metro has always treated park-and-riders specially. Those going to destinations other than their car don’t have buses detouring for them.

        Well, unless you’re trying to get to, say, Mount Baker station on the 8, and you take a detour that’s at least 5 minutes to serve 23rd and Jackson – which IS ALREADY SERVED BY THE 48! The 48 intersects with the 8 at 23rd and Jackson and at 23rd and John. The 48 goes directly from 23rd and Jackson to Mount Baker station. The only possible people that are served by this silly diversion are in Madison Park, and I’m just not sold that there are a lot of people going from Madison Park to 23rd and Jackson (or v.v.) on the 8. If there are, it’s a 5-block walk from MLK or they can transfer to a 14 on Jackson. On the 8, however, it’s a 3/4 mile diversion with 4 turns at signalized intersections – instead of two blocks in a straight line on MLK between Jackson and Yesler. It’s at least as pointless as all the loop-de-loops into P&Rs – because it serves precisely nobody who is not already served.

        The ultimate madness of this is that they took that insane jog out of the 8 when that area of 23rd was being rebuilt – then put it back in….

  2. Jared, any bets on maximum time anything will live if it doesn’t predict? Probably exactly how long it will live if it doesn’t make allowances for future changes. That’s why existence goes to the quick, the patient, and the flexible. For other creatures besides transit systems.

    But also interesting that our species also seems born with a sense that there was once a time when everything was perfect. Red baseball hats aren’t history’s first mention of “Great AGAIN.”

    Even though they had slaves, fleas, and a lot of grandiose wrong ideas, our Founders read enough history (another proven survival skill) to recognize and eliminate the first Chief of State of a mortally ill Republic.

    Also, in addition to Latin and Greek, knowing enough wildlife biology to recognize that no matter how much fur we lost along with our tails, us monkeys can only stand an Age of Reason for about fifteen minutes. Show me one four year old boy who doesn’t know a Lost Paradise when he sees one.

    Mark Dublin

  3. I saw something weird on Friday. I was waiting at CPS for the 41, when a D60HF emerged from the tunnel. I didn’t think metro allowed diesel vehicles at all in the tunnel? I get it was probably an emergency, but I just would have guessed they’d have preferred a random 40′ hybrid over an old high floor.

    1. During the previous tunnel incarnation, you could wait in the pre-dawn darkness of Convention Place and get the most amazing light show as the buses try to raise their trolley poles, create sparks, but never quite reach the lines. Then the driver would tell the riders to get off and wait for another bus. In later years, the driver would give up and go into the tunnel under diesel. Later still I would see, and breathe, diesel-only buses going through the tunnel. It seems this is happening again. At least that buses’ riders get air conditioning.

  4. And sorry, JareTT. My nephew with the “D” is learning to manage soccer teams in Liverpool. Though I think I read somewhere that invention of type-setting caught the goose-quill industry and its creatively-spelling customers flat-footed (sorry about that one, too).

    So Freedom requires constant vigilance to know that The Bill of Rights is still valid even though Thomas Jefferson wrote “Congrefs.” And given what-all else Spell-Check gets wrong, we shall predictably do so again.



  5. Schuyler, if this was an outbound 41 at Friday PM rush, control center’s priority would have been getting platforms clear before waiting Northgate passengers started spilling onto the roadway. Even if a 40′ hybrid had been available on short notice.

    Very likely waiting wheelchair-users would’ve been accurately advised that a low-floor bus would be along very shortly. Probably because there already was one at the rear end of the platform, waiting for line of buses ahead to clear. Illustrating really serious ongoing problem with both the 41 and the 550 at rush hour.

    The 41 being much worse. Metro has never made any effort whatever to control or coordinate the 41’s entry and departure at IDS. Making bunching as inevitable as it is preventable. Buses should leave their first stop, 6th Avenue at Central Base, only on controllers’ orders. And always yield the right of way to a LINK train leaving Stadium and crossing Royal Brougham northbound.

    Due to shorter dwell times, trains usually delay their rubber tired followers much less than other way around. Both above conditions are perfect examples of the supervision and training that DSTT operations have been missing for thirty years. Whose easy low-cost institution right now might really make it possible for the 41, the 550, and enough passengers to swing a transit vote, to use the DSTT ’til construction progress permits.

    And finally, starting with pm rush tomorrow, standing orders to rubber-band a paper towel over those routes’ fareboxes their whole run. With posted and audio notices to passengers just to hold up passes in door mirrors. And give the Seathog and the Nobunny and all those door-blocking penguins and monkeys a little pass-waving killer whale for a new colleague.

    Based on five-pm Route 7 artic trolley experience, it brings tear to driver’s eye how many people at least hold up something. Pretty sure saved operating time will repay many times the cost of non-checking. If the Rosicrucians won’t hand over the secret figures, have the Masons steal them for us. Mozart’s “Magic Flute” proves the Lodges really served the Enlightenment. Wikipedia too.



    1. No kidding. I ride the 41 from the ID. If there is a crowd waiting for it, it always means the first bus in a bunch. I never ever take the first one, as there is always another 2-3 bus lengths down.

      On Link. never ever take the first car either. I made my rants about suitcases and what not; those are first car issues that go away if you take the third car.

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