35 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Mayoral Candidates Face the NIMBYs”

  1. Wow! Wow! Multiple instances of some pretty overt racism in the Cary Moon video. And that’s discounting the outright segregationists.

    Anyone know who that is?

      1. If you watch it on youtube the full interview pops up. Seems both instances were edited out of the neighborhood coalition q&a video which is also in same link.

      2. Thanks for the link with a fuller, unedited recording. I didn’t catch any profanity, so the SNC upload seems clearly edited for content.

        I am familiar with both women in the argument. One is from FairGrowth Seattle, and one is a frequent commenter at numerous public meetings, usually sitting next to the mayoral candidate who was one of the public questioners toward the end of the Moon portion of the forum.

        That the woman from FairGrowth got to ask the official question wrongfully (IMHO) characterizing HALA as a “backroom deal”, and then got to ask another question later, well, I guess it is her group’s forum so they get to write the rules.

        In the spirit of our Comment Policy, I am not providing the individuals’ names here.

        But if you are looking to learn about where the candidates stand on issues around housing, that argument that didn’t involve the mayoral candidates doesn’t add to the debate.

    1. Billy Bob, under video screen are running page numbers. Watch again, and tell us where to look.
      I don’t think the two of us were watching the same video.

      Cary, dead serious suggestion. For the rest of the campaign, try to get Nikkita Oliver to be your main adviser, for both speech-writing and thinking. “Affordability” means being paid enough money that you can afford a decent life.

      If nobody’s business plan or legal duty to shareholders can afford, like every other level of government, the people of Seattle can tax themselves to pay good living wages for work in every program you mentioned. Without a make-work dime.

      This election, worst that can happen is that public transit will have a fine advocate back, at time it needs one most. Next five or so will go ever better with above paragraph on your record. And in your ads. And at your inauguration.

      And Jennie, question: After 32 years’ residence, Ballard was exactly the neighborhood where I planned to live for the rest of my life. As I could easily afford all my years driving for Metro, and on my present retirement.

      Can you get me and my former Lock Haven neighbors back where the Legion Hall is an easy walk in time to vote for you this year? With a BECU loan on my first paycheck, I’ll pick you up for a Route 44 ride to dinner at the India Bistro. Citizens United curry provision says you don’t have to report it.

      Mark Dublin

  2. OK, screw it, I’m buying a car; a rant about Metro.

    I’ve officially had it with Metro Transit. I’m done. I’m giving up and buying a cheap car. Why? This week alone provides an EXCELLENT example.

    I have to get from northwest Seattle to the Eastside during the week and on Saturday for work, around mid-day so not even during peak commute times. You’d think this would be easy, right? NOPE. It takes me 90 minutes to do the outbound trek and about 60 on the return after 10pm. But the time isn’t the issue, nor that it takes three buses to avoid transferring in the cesspool that is 3rd Ave because that’s a choice I make myself.

    Just a few things, all happened this week but they happen pretty much every week:

    1) Bus drivers don’t stop next to the sign in the zone. I have somewhat limited mobility so I get to my stop early and stand near the sign to position myself for minimal walking. When the driver stops halfway down the bus stop to board a gaggle of passengers or just because I guess I look intimidating, that’s even more steps. But I can’t guess where the driver is going to randomly choose to stop so each day becomes a game of “where to wait today?”

    2) At busy stops, the driver of the 3rd bus doesn’t come up to pick up waiters. This happens almost every day at 4th and Jackson. Three buses will arrive in succession: a 576, which takes forever to unload; a 512 or 522, which usually has a lot of passengers to load; and then, at the waaay end, a 545. Some days I guess correctly that it’s a 545 at the back so I hobble down there and get on. But, twice this week, I couldn’t see if it was a 545 or 522 so I waited (usually other people)…and got passed up.

    3) Start times are just a mirage. I often take a half-hourly route out of northwest Seattle. That bus has a 70% success rate for starting a run on time, and *maybe* an 80% success rate for starting it within 10 minutes of its scheduled time. Usually the bus that is supposed to begin at 7 past the hour takes off at ~20 or 25 past, meaning it’s only a few minutes ahead of the run that begins at 37 past. (The drivers of this route also, understandably, like to park in the shade to lay over but the nearest shady spot SKIPS THE FIRST STOP so, yay, more walking right past a bus parked in a zone where drivers don’t let passengers board.)

    4) And here’s the big one: I live near a terminal for a few routes. At least once per week, I’ll get the driver asking me, “can you get off here so I can turn?” “Here” is at an intersection, where one way is the terminal stop, about 200′ down the road, and the other way leads back to base. The other night, my leg was hurting something fierce and I actually said “I’d rather not” instead of just trudging off. The driver sighed, “OK, I guess” and started to get back in his seat to finish the route. I admit, I was pissed and stomped off the bus and started looking at car ads on my phone.

    People brag about how awesome light rail is and I’d love to be able to use it but I came to the housing scene too late to be able to afford any of the places near the south end light rail stops and I for damn sure can’t afford anything within spitting distance of the Capitol Hill stop.

    I do have to admit, it makes me exceedingly green with envy to read the Tweets from STB’s official Twitter account and of the “major players” (if that’s not too grand of a term) in local transit news, raving about how easy and clean and fast the trains are. But light rail is never coming to my part of Seattle; I have the choice of a bus or driving.

    So, after several years, I’m hanging up my ORCA card.

    1. Is (3) in reference to the 28? I often catch it near the beginning of the route and it’s increasingly unreliable at many times of the day. It didn’t used to be this way. Since it’s near the route start OBA is useless. If I’m going downtown I often just schlep over to the 5 and don’t bother with it, but sometimes I need to go to intermediate points on the 28 route.

      Please complain. I don’t know if volume of complaints has any bearing on attention to severe reliability issues, but it can’t hurt.

      but I came to the housing scene too late to be able to afford any of the places near the south end light rail stops

      This doesn’t seem right. Housing in Rainier Beach is considerably cheaper than pretty much anywhere in NW Seattle.

      1. Please do put in a complaint about your experiences.

        Item 2 is actually a violation of the ADA requirements which allows for two buses to stop in a zone, but requires the third bus to pull forward and make an additional stop.

    2. If I’d had the experience you’ve described, while I was closing the deal with the dealership, I’d stay with transit for a week and get every route and bus number involved, along with time and location of each incident. Voice recorders don’t cost much.

      Asking passenger’s permission to go off route is Gross Misconduct . Record above info, and description of the driver. Might also ask to have bus camera video pulled. Then send week’s complete results to County Exec, ST CEO, your King County Councilmember, ST Board member, and to ATU Local 587.

      Critical to keep tone calm and polite, and above all, get facts right. Toyota builds cars not only good on gas, but easy on maintenance, and indestructible by their own drivers. But from some recent experience- for me, not to replace transit but to reach it at all-some friendly advice.

      First dealership I approached, treatment I got from sales department made all misconduct above seem like the kind of groveling worship that Saudi royalty gets from subjects who need their right hands left on and are allergic to stones, and from US officials desperate for cheap oil and expensive weapons contracts.

      Let us know how it goes.

      Mark Dublin

    3. As much as I am pro-transit, and have been for my entire life, I sympathize with your plight and have often felt like returning to my car as Metro can’t seem to manage to adjust schedules to meet reality, or to have a real-time system that tells you where buses actually are without them flipping back to “scheduled” or falling off your screen entirely. Nothing like just missing your bus downtown because the app is inaccurate or just not working, seeing the next one is 10-15+ minutes late (as always), and knowing that you can walk the three miles home over the hill and still beat that bus. It’s not unusual at all to see 25+ minutes (often more) between buses on a line with scheduled 15 minute headways in the early evening – in fact, it’s much more common than buses being anywhere near on schedule – and on my route it’s consistent enough that there clearly is a problem with the actual scheduling of the route.

      I’d follow Mark’s suggestions above were I to run into the things you do on my travels, and I’m one to compliment drivers typically. That sort of thing is unacceptable.

  3. Getting from NW Seattle to anywhere on the Eastside on a bus is a mess. I’ve done it a couple times, usually by riding a bike to Montlake Freeway Station and preying for an open spot on the 545.

    Fundamentally, the bus is designed first and foremost to get people to and from downtown Seattle, and a along few major corridors, like routes 44 and 48. Anything else, it’s hit or miss.

    In general, getting around by bus is much more difficult for the less mobile. It’s much easier being able run run a few blocks to catch a bus when there isn’t time to walk, or for trips under a mile, to bypass the bus entirely, and just walk. Or, to be able to run up the escalator at UW Link Station to make a connection that Google trip planner says you’re going to miss. If I couldn’t do these things, I’d probably have gotten a car too.

    Not sure of the solution, other than to find money to run as many routes as possible as frequently as possible.

    1. Would an eastbound bus starting at the Seattle Center area via SLU/Mercer, bypassing downtown altogether, make it easier for NW Seattle riders to get to the Eastside? NE Seattle has much better options: 540, 542, etc.

  4. Anyone know if the parking on 15th Ave is waived for Hempfest? Friday afternoon rush hour was a beast with the bus lanes taken up by cars parked.

    1. Good work Texas! Can’t say I’m surprised others have their ducks in a row before the PNW, if we ever get our ducks in a row….

    2. maybe, but let’s be honest here
      1) flat lands
      2) super rural
      3) TX has eminent domain for railroad projects
      4) the rail avoids all obstacles that make rail worthwhile — e.g. Houston station will be in the burbs by an abandoned mass by an interstate junction — hardly the quality of Service Cascadia would demand.

    1. djw, term “pandering” doesn’t quite get it. To me no surprises, because no specifics. Won’t persuade anybody to vote for her or not. Do elevators still have music piped in, or has elevator music gone the way of hubcaps without my noticing?

      A years’ long transit advocate should’ve led off with a statement on how much mileage of reserved transit lanes she’d bring the the City Council, signal pre-empts and all. And how much street parking she’d like permission to remove from them.

      And powerful Antipander – well, better than calling an opponent of fascism and “Antifa”, which sounds like an island in the Azores- would be to say that next point on above agenda is to organize and supply people who have no place to live to build these places for themselves and their cohorts.

      “Barn raising” will spill a lot of rightwing “Tea” on every “Table Cloth” at the “Party.” Shays’ Rebellion even better- muskets and cannons along with the three corner hats, and tip of the hat to the first time after the Revolution that a REALLY well-regulated militia opened up on domestic tyranny.

      A lot of college kids now, including many with combat experience as well as good training on regulated arms already smell Debtor’s Prison. Also, for same reason, a lot of working people could slap Cary’s attractive picture over the ugly marmot wig wearer already there.

      But those are State and National issues. Don’t know Nikki Oliver except by her style, but really think that since her Established opponents will try to pin her thinking on Cary anyhow, nothing to lose now and a lot to be gained next very long string of elections.

      Mark

  5. Has anyone tried Metro’s Trail Direct service yet? My partner and I will be going out to Issaquah next week with a friend and are curious to hear how it’s been working out.

    1. Used it last Sunday to hike Squak. Worked well. Well marked signs at Transit center and trailhead telling you where to pick up the bus.

      Be aware that the trailhead shuttle does not exist on either OneBusAway or Google maps, but it most assuredly does exist in real life.

      1. Thanks! I was wondering about OBA, but with 30 minute headways and little traffic I suspect it’ll stick to its schedule pretty well.

    2. Good old Harvey Manning would be so happy to know that this service exists. Go say hello to his statue in downtown Issaquah next time you are there.

  6. Why are we not pursuing a MUNI-type of transit system for link? As in MUNI runs on its separated very fast ROW, then it turns into a streetcar. Why wasn’t LINK designed like this? It seems so smart – 1 seat ride to and from downtown, no need to mess with transfers, what else could you want?

    1. The thing I hate most about MUNI is it turns into streetcars and runs very slow. And even in San Francisco, only five corridors have access to the downtown tunnel. There are two answers to your question, and more questions. One is, Link doesn’t turn into a streetcar and that’s a good thing, because that means faster service, and that means the train can make more runs per day which creates greater frequency for free. Another is, when ST2 is finished Link will serve the entire long axis of the city, and when ST3 is finished Link will bring service to the northwest and southwest of the city. That’s more or less what MUNI does: service to five western parts of the city. But Link will be much faster and more frequent. The second thing I hate about MUNI is waiting twenty minutes for a train, because while the combined frequency of all lines may be every 3-5 minutes, each line can be 20-30 minutes, and all those other lines don’t help you if they’re not going where you’re going.

      The next question that arises is, what exactly do you want? Do you want something in addition to ST2 or ST3 Link, or instead of parts of it? I assume you don’t want to put streetcars in Link’s corridors, so are you talking about corridors that Link doesn’t serve? Like Aurora, Westlake, Eastlake, the Central District, Beacon Avenue, formerly Ballard (although now Ballard is in ST3), have streetcars from all those places go into a separate downtown tunnel? That has not been considered here, and now that ST3 will have two tunnels, it’s unlikely that we can build a third one on top of those. However, it is similar to another idea that has been proposed, to build the second tunnel as a shared train-bus tunnel, with two exits in SLU that could serve both Ballard and Aurora buses (the D and E). That would get something inexpensive to Ballard and Aurora, and the other way to West Seattle, for cheaper than ST3 or for some of the ST3 corridors (mainly West Seattle, and Aurora which Link doesn’t cover). It seems like it would be similar to your streetcar scenario, but with RapidRide buses, getting them out of the most congested part. But ST didn’t want to go that way, and now with Link going to Ballard and West Seattle it talkes out two of the main corridors it would have gone to. But it’s something you could pursue if you want something different.

      1. Sorry I was a little brief in my post – I was mulling it over with a friend on how we would design a transit system if we had unlimited jurisdiction, and this came up: an idea where we have streetcars in their own lanes to aggregate folks who may live further out from current Link stations, then have them queue up in some kind of portal to link up with other streetcars to form a single Link train (which would avoid the issue you’re mentioning of having only one train per line every 20 minutes), which would head downtown. For example, looking at Roosevelt Station, we could run a streetcar down Roosevelt Way, one down Weedin Place to Green Lake, and one down 65th to the east of Roosevelt (actually 65th is probably too hilly in that direction so that wouldn’t really work). On the way back to Roosevelt NB from downtown, it could be called the Roosevelt train, which would split into individual carriages going to North Roosevelt, Green Lake, and East Roosevelt/Ravenna. Perhaps there could be one train every 10 minutes that would be designated “local terminus train” and have it end at Roosevelt, Northgate, Shoreline, Moutelake Terrace, etc on the northbound and Rainier Beach, Othello, Kent, etc on the southbound.

        The main goal of this idea is to drastically increase the coverage of the system while not needing to build out huge amounts of additional elevated/tunneled rail. It’d increase walk-shed enormously, no? Other benefits include O&M costs (once you’re in the portal, only one operator needs to drive, vs having a bunch of buses shunt downtown requires multiple drivers and expensive bus hours, all for a bunch of vehicles going to the same place) and the aforementioned 1-seat ride, along with better service in closer (and usually more important) destinations, since Mountlake Terrace terminating trains will still run from downtown to UDistrict, serving an extremely important segment. Another total conjectural potential future benefit is that it may open up the possibility of express rail, in my view. That is, if we remove some trains before going all the way to Tacoma, it all of a sudden opens up a whole lot of empty track space in front of any given SB Tacoma train. Perhaps this space can be used to skip over less important stations like Angle Lake or the airport on some trains to reach Tacoma faster, at least in the interim before we build some proper express commuter routes.

        Drawbacks include portal construction, which is going to be a large cost, ROW acquisition and other costs associated with streetcars, layover times to wait for other cars to arrive to combine into a single train, unreliability associated with at grade transport, and potentially places further out complaining about moderately reduced service (because some trains stop before arriving in places like Everett)

        So what’s the verdict? Am a stupid, stupid idiot? A genius? I haven’t run the numbers, so I have no clue how feasible this kind of idea would be, nor how much it would cost. Definitely would need super heavy studies.

        Will you support/spread the word? ;)

      2. The main goal here would be to leverage the exclusive rail ROW, no reduction in any other aspects. I get there would also be some huge implementation issues, like potentially turning radius, but those can be solved/studied

      3. You’d really have to do it in a tunnel separate from Link’s, because Link will use most of the tunnel’s capacity. Coupling cars can theoretically maximize the use of a tunnel, the way an articulated bus can use road space more efficiently than two separate buses. However, that ideal is probably unachievable because of the time it takes to couple, the uncertainty over when leaf cars will arrive, and the fact that even 15-second delays aggregated over a day will “waste” tunnel capacity. Also as the main line frequency gets down to 3 minutes (as ST2 Link peak-hours will be), and future enhancements could drive it down to 2 or 1.5 minutes, that gives less and less leeway to inject additional trains from say 65th with reliable regularity. The Red and Blue lines will have to be carefully managed to approach the ideal of evenly-spaced headways, and having other trains enter the system at different points would make it all the harder to coordinate.

        MUNI and BART have separate tunnels, and that allows each one to grow to a full tunnel’s capacity. BART in SF now has peak trains every couple minutes so it’s near or at capacity; I don’t know about MUNI. So if we have a separate tunnel, then its platform length can be different from Link’s. I’d suggest 2- or 3-car trains, because each additional coupling adds coordination and reliability uncertainties.

        The main obstacles are not turning radius but cost and car/parking opposition. Streetcar lines are expensive enough that we’re building only a few of them, not replicating the prewar network. When you talk about three Roosevelt branches, that evokes the Fremont and Eastlake ship canal crossings that funneled trains onto a shared segment. The car/paring issue is that people will scream up and down if you take car lanes and parking lanes for the exclusive-lane tails. To avoid that you’d have to build new rights of way, and that is much more expensive and brings another type of opposition, those who don’t want their houses knocked down. The MUNU Metro lines west of Embarcadero are part of their prewar network, so all the ROW was long ago paid off and written into law. The cable cars have signal pre-emption, which comes from prewar traffic codes. (The Market Street segment was rebuilt for BART, and the segments east of Embarcardero were built more recently: the southern one to address the last mile to Caltrain and a converted industrial area, and the northern one to replace an earthquake-destroyed freeway.) Issues like turning radius would be small compared to these other issues.

      4. I don’t really believe that the political challenges are insurmountable. When we tell people “hey we’re going to open a subway stop RIGHT HERE” I’d think they’d be a little more excited than a couple parking spots. Plus the zeitgeist is definitely shifting, so perhaps in a couple decades it won’t even be an issue. As headways get lower and lower, this kind of plan is less and less feasible, but in my view sooner or later we’re going to need express rail anyways, so LINK track space could be taken for this, perhaps. It’d be a super difficult thing to ram through the system, but imo it could happen.

        I’m just throwing some conjecture around; there are no delusions here that these ideas ever see the light of day

      1. We’re trying to improve the mess. As the planned RapidRide lines get built out and have some amount of better lane priority, signal priority, in-lane stations, and offboard payment, they will get that much faster and more reliable. Frequency depends on funding, but a brighter future of 10-minute minimums is likely. The more frequent the buses, the less significant transfers become. A connection-based network can serve more people and more destinations for the same resources than a one-seat ride based network; see Human Transit for the evidence. The problem is not that transfers inherently are bad but that our transfers suck, so we have to make them suck less. A one-seat ride based network inevitably leaves people out. First there’s people going downtown that aren’t near a good bus route currently and wouldn’t get one under your system. Second there’s the people making crosstown trips like AWAFOC?’s complaint about northwest Seattle to the Eastside: your network does nothing for that and takes resources that could be used to address it. I grew up in the Eastside so I know how long it takes to get to north-central and northwest Seattle, and even going from the northwest to Capitol Hill is far more difficult than it should be. As people have said, something is wrong when you can get from downtown to Puyallup and Issaquah in the time it takes to get from Ballard to Capitol Hill or the Eastside.

      2. We already have bus connections into rail, but some stations (looking at you UW station) have a super difficult time connecting, and lots of transfers are inherently a sign of an inefficiency.

  7. Some history, Frank. As long as SF MUNI Metro ran the Boeing Vertol cars it started service with, it was standard to run three car coupled trains underground, one for each west-side streetcar line, K,L, and M. At “West Portal”, the driver uncoupled the cars, and each went out on its surface route. If memory serves, J and N lines used a separate portal. I don’t think they were coupled.

    Street running has always been miserably slow. Aside from raised platforms and some reserved right of way, same ops as the old PCC cars. Stop signs and all. Except with cars both larger and worse-built. Which were Rolls Royce quality compared to the Breda fleet that followed.

    So heavy trains destroyed tracks. Ate maintenance money like a hog in a trough. But worst of all, too big to permit coupling trains. Number of contracts this company has gotten from systems that know better, including Oslo and Gothenburg, show that to restore integrity to government, low bid should be replaced by well-tried Somebody’s Brother system.

    City wide reserved right of way and signal preempt, stop-sign replacement with signals,and many other changes are long overdue to bring MUNI Metro up to its purpose as an efficient high capacity local feeder. But would never anywhere near substitute for BART.

    As with LINK’s development that started with buses, and including one stretch of surface running with at-grade crossings, and with Portland MAX, improved train control can theoretically prevent every line’s express service from being lamed by local obstacles.

    Same as for LINK’s opening day of joint operations. Hard call: could leaving 550 and 41 in the DSTT ’til East and North LINK can at least reach Northgate and Bellevue improve to point that LINK could tolerate another several years’ joint ops? My call: Jenny, Cary, and Nikki, get together on that reserved-lane network and you can take turns being President.

    Your sequential 3 x 8 years in the White House could leave us Number One in the FIRST World. Also,any chance STB can organize a day’s on-site rolling transit introduction tour for all three of them? I’ll buy them their Day Passes and lunch too. And be sure we all don’t get fined for dutifully tapping on after not tapping out. 4 x $124 = $496 will make car-only my only budget option.

    Mark

  8. Muni is in the process of building the (expensive) Central Subway north-south through Downtown San Francisco. When that’s done, an additional streetcar route–the T Third–will be in a tunnel. Philadelphia has a similar system–they call it subway/surface cars. But as Mike Orr said, these are old systems, it doesn’t seem logical to build something similar now.

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