16 Replies to “Podcast #45: Complicated Social Engineering”

  1. Federal Way station IS at the downtown. Don’t “hesitate” to call it a downtown. It is. The performing arts center – formerly a parking lot for the old Target store – is under construction. The downtown park has been constructed out of a former asphalt parking lot. Shopping? The Commons, Trader Joe’s, TJ Maxx, H Mart, Best Buy, Marlene’s, etc. That’s downtown. It isn’t walkable… YET! But it’s downtown, that’s where the buses all route to, that’s where all of the major shopping is located, that’s where the performing arts center is, that’s where most of the hotels – I count five large ones – are located. It is a work in progress, but it is a downtown. Federal Way has come a long way from its beginnings as a hodge-podge of uncoordinated short plats and long plats, and it continues to progress and develop into a major city. Don’t hesitate. It’s more of a downtown than most suburban cities in the Puget Sound region have. Bonney Lake? Covington? Maple Valley? Shoreline? Auburn? Des Moines? Fife? The other center of commerce in Federal Way, two miles south at 348th St, is categorically incompatible with urban development, complete with Lowe’s, Home Depot, UHaul, Costco, and the WalMart Supercenter, the massive parking lots that accompany them, and an 8-lane by 10-lane intersection (I kid you not) at SR 18 & SR 161. The Link station vicinity at 320th is a little hodge-podgy for the time being, but there has already been progress with infill development in some of the strip mall parking lots nearby, demolition of a parking lot for a park, construction of the performing arts center, and inevitable closure of the old Un-Super WalMart, as it completes its 30-year WalMart cycle of construction-occupation-degradation-dilapidation, which will culminate in 3 to 5 years of vacancy before selling to the highest non-box-store-bidder. I predict that it will be gone within 2 years of the completion of the Link station.

    1. Anyone who saw Downtown Bellevue in 1970 would say it looked similar to what Federal Way looked like in 2010. Things can change.

  2. I continue to break with the consensus here that it’s reasonable to jack up regular fares. Fares have already roughly doubled relative to inflation in 20 years. This simplification takes away a minor incentive to wait until after peak, when buses are packed, for a non-time sensitive trip.

    It’s not a burden to pay an extra 25c, but at some point this has to stop. A normal bus ride can’t keep going up 50% relative to inflation every decade.

    1. KCM published a report back in August 2014 called the “Report on Transit Fares” (see link below). It would have been prudent to take another look at this data and get an update for 2017 prior to moving forward with the “simplified fares” proposal. It does appear that KCM fare increases have outpaced inflation over the last decade.


  3. I remain skeptical that a pedestrian bridge from Highline College to Highline Station would have gotten much pedestrian use. Does anyone have proof-of-concept examples where a pedestrian bridge over a speedy arterial, with one end going into a train station, has drawn most of the pedestrian traffic that would have otherwise been crossing at-grade?

    If the space where the bridge would have been gets filled with multi-story TOD, is the TOD a higher and better use for that land than a bridge providing shade for open space?

    Now, if the bridge is pre-empting building a parking garage on the same footprint, that’s a bigger reason to have it than hoping pedestrians would use it.

    1. Maybe a pedestrian bridge could be integrated into the TOD, with a second level of retail (granted that it doesn’t come at the price of more housing). That would be an interesting use of space.

      I believe Burnaby’s Metrotown station had a very popular pedestrian bridge (which led directly into a shopping center), which is currently being rebuilt.

      1. I certainly expect the Northgate bridge to succeed because people aren’t going to jayrun across I-5. :)

        I should have been more specific. Has a pedestrian bridge, for which an at-grade crossing alternative is available, succeeded in getting the majority of pedestrian traffic?

      2. Probably not, except where the surface path is blocked. I like the underpasses in Moscow and St Petersburg, where you go down a ramp, there may be retail or a Metro entrance at the bottom, and you go up another ramp on the other side. The intersection is blocked in these cases for so cars can go through. asdf2 said he dislikes these and they give cars too much priority. In England I’ve seen a few underpasses like this, but more where there’s also a crosswalk. Most people use the crosswalk, and the underpass becomes an unsafe place with muggers and drug dealers. I understand England has stopped building this kind of underpass for this reason.

        So the problem comes down to our general lack of pedestrian amenities: if an underpass/overpass is just an underpass/overpass, it won’t get as much use compared to if it’s also a destination. I just watched a video on China, which says the entire country is walkable: cities have pedestrianized streets with metro stations and bus stations and taxis right there, always transit to the airports and train stations, small towns and rural areas have walkways to everywhere, so you never need a car. It also says Shenzhen (4th largest city) intends to build the largest subway network in the world, and lt already goes everywhere. (It also goes into eating bugs and shopping and rural motorcycle rides.) It doesn’t show any overpasses or underpasses, but it’s the kind of high-pedestrian-amenity design that would make them the most successful.

      3. Ah, the links work, the problem was that the bottom of my browser window was off the the screen so I didn’t see the popup URLs.

      4. At Mt. Baker Station, I always cross Ranier with the ped bridge, never with the crosswalks. Even going down, up and back down again, it’s much faster than waiting for the light to change multiple times. Of course, I’m usually going east on Mt. Baker Blvd. to Lake Washington, not to the Transit Center. The transit center is in a bad location, and I’m not sure it makes sense for any bus to actually stop inside of it. Even routes that end there, like the 48, would be better off just stopping on Ranier, like the #7 does, and using the “transit center” only as a layover facility.

        Would have been even better of course, if the bridge just directly connected with the light rail at the platform level.

    2. The use case for a ped bridge to an elevated station is stronger than a ped bridge simply to cross an arterial. If you have to climb stairs to get to/from the station platform anyway, you might as well save yourself the hassle of waiting for a light. That makes it more valuable.

  4. Honestly fuck Lynnwood and MLT. If they didn’t know their rail was already assured, they wouldn’t be jerking the agency around. Ask for too much, and “guess we don’t have money for your station. sorry!”

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