Seattle Monorail Perspective 1

This is an open thread.

122 Replies to “News Roundup: Abomination”

  1. I saw a group of kids boarding a south bound light rail train at the ID. I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they just wanted to make sure they had bikes when they got off in Mt Baker or something. Can the bikes even go that far south?

      1. Interesting. I understand wanting a bike, but it seems like a problem if they leave the city and are effectively lost forever.

      2. It’s not like a Lime Bike taken to Kent is lost forever. The company still gets paid when people ride it around Kent. If the movement of bikes leads to an organic expansion of bike share to neighboring cities, I say “great”.

    1. I’ve made a few quick out-and-back trips to the Federal Way Commons mall and back, and kinda wondered if there would be a problem with taking a Lime Bike on the 578 and parking it at the mall in Federal Way for a half hour or so, then heading back to Seattle.

      There is no limit to how far you can go is there? Could you take these on the 59x to Pierce County?

    2. The bike share companies ask that you only use the bikes inside the Seattle city limits, but as far as I know there’s nothing to actually prevent you from going further afield.

  2. The WSTC meeting summary is interesting. Generally, when an agency promises something, the discussion shifts to asking for favors (more subways, more parking, less visual intrusion) so the responses are not surprising.

    It does however point to the need for better advance planning between buses, rail and TOD. Without better integration, the corridor planning will be done incrementally; residents will instead keep pushing to mostly ease their own transit paths or nearby impacts.

  3. Joe here.

    1) I expect very few signatures from this posting, but I’ve got a petition going on making ALL transit boards directly elected: . You can sign it or not, up to you. I didn’t do this to pick on Sound Transit (no secret the tough love I have for them and the fandom I have on that agency) and quite frankly, it’s the fast ferry FIASCO of Kitsap Transit that’s making me step it up a notch.

    2a) Speaking of which, as much as I had hope the Kitsap Transit Fast Ferry project would work, I share these published views on the new fast ferry fiasco.

    2b) Did you hear this morning there was smoke in MV Rich Passage 1? Yes, smoke. So now we have a fast ferry that hit a log and had a fire. All within less than a week. Yet the Kitsap Transit Board wants to keep throwing money at this enterprise – and is buying two more boats just like the MV Rich Passage 1. One wonders if the later ferries in class will incorporate the fixes necessary to handle high RPM daily operations reliably.

    1. There are enough elections. If the RTA board were to be elected directly by people the new boardmembers likely would become short-sighted (penny-wise, but pound-foolish). The current set-up eliminates that risk, and ensures prudent, long-term thinking. We want to get this right!

      1. Well if “we want to get this right” ok then I want to see a lot of “we” on these boards and these boards meeting at times when more of “we” can attend. Federated boards guarantee [] we are going to get 2-3 potted plants OR WORSE.

        Elected boards make it closer to a meritocracy than federated. Elected boards also have accountability, not insulation.

      2. Joe, ST is not a “federated” government. The previous iteration of Metro WAS a federated government, and it was deemed unconstitutional (in Cunningham v. Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle, 751 F. Supp. 885 (W.D. Wash. 1990) – ).

        ST got around that problem by having an appointed board, one that has just as much “meritocracy” as the Port of Seattle (how much merit do they really have???).

        The meetings are frequent and open to all, plus everyone can get to them by transit!

      3. Will;

        The meetings can still be frequent & open to all. Just later. But it’ll take an elected board to make that so. I want YOU on the Sound Transit Board or at least a local transit board.

        For every… star we have on a federated (a term I got from a State Senator and a transit CEO) or appointed board, we will get a lot of potted plants. I prefer directly electing a bloc of pro-transit transit board members.

    2. Do you want Tim Eyman on the ST Board? Because this sort of antics is how you get Tim Eyman on the ST Board.

      1. Tim Eyman will never run for office and this is the kind of fearmongering that I just generally don’t have a lot of time for.

        I would say my agenda is []. To get other voices and minds on transit boards who can’t get on in a federated system, many of whom who want to serve on these boards are VERY pro-transit.

      2. You expect anonymous blog commenters to run for (and get elected to) ST Board while juggling full time jobs, but you don’t think a guy who has dedicated his life to impeding transit won’t jump at the chance to get his obstructionist a** onto the board?

        Give me a break, Joe. You shouldn’t trust the electorate to make an informed choice for a niche position like this. When’s the last time you had strong feelings about the Port of Seattle commissioner race?

    3. Joe, tell us again what advantages a directly elected board has over an appointed board.


      1. The transit haters who want this will trot out the usual memes: “accountable to people,” “sharper pencils when contracting,” “keener eye on tax revenue,” “quicker build-outs.” As if the current board are slackers!

      2. Mark;

        I want elected transit boards so WE are on them, so [] we have a Sound Transit board stacked so full of STB readers & writers the Ruth Fisher Boardroom will become a microcosm of CenturyLink Field.

        I also want ALL transit boards elected so we can have closer to a meritocracy than “who knows who”.

    4. What kind of person do you think the people at the West Seattle TC workshop would vote for? There’s a lot of people like them, otherwise the results of the workshop would have been different.

      1. I really don’t consider the West Seattle TC Workshop a good enough data point because our side is not advertising well enough. We need MORE pro-transit standard bearers, not just controversial (and perhaps unwelcome) Joe here. That’s one reason why I ideologically support electing transit boards.

      2. What kind of person do you think the people at the West Seattle TC workshop would vote for?

        Let’s see:

        1) They are interested in preserving the cultural center of West Seattle (The Junction) and thus don’t want to see elevated trains running through there.

        2) They want better connections to all of West Seattle, especially those who live in more economically challenged areas (e. g. High Point).

        3) They want improvements much faster.

        So that basically leaves either:

        1) Someone who can promise them something they can’t possibly deliver (an underground, multi-line trail system for all of West Seattle). Or …

        2) Someone who pushes for BRT. This is something that ST failed to study, but is an obvious choice for the area. Build a multi-line system serving all of West Seattle, but with bus service, not rail. Build each part piece by piece and build it faster. You have the improvements to the surface streets, improvements to the West Seattle Freeway (actually, only the Spokane Street Viaduct needs to be improved) and the WSTT. Then you would have congestion free transit service from West Seattle to (and through) downtown.

        At a minimum — and this is part of Joe’s argument — someone could actually run on that platform. Right now, that just doesn’t happen, because there is no job of which to run. Everything is in the hands of mayors and county executives. Those people (obviously) don’t have the time, nor the skills necessary to focus on transit issues, which is why we end up with such wasteful projects. Even when they do, their findings are ignored. Kirkland hired a firm to study transit alternatives, their findings were ignored, and instead they get a really stupid “improvement” (South Kirkland Park and Ride to Issaquah light rail).

        That doesn’t mean that someone would be knowledgeable enough to run in every district, but for Kirkland, it is obvious they would be. Most of the city council supported an alternative, which means that someone would at least have a seat at the table and have the guts to say that some of the ST proposals are really misguided.

      3. The responses by the West Seattle workshop members are typical of 75% of Seattle neighborhoods and 99% of suburban neighborhoods; that’s why their opinions are representative and why we should be concerned about who they would vote for in transit-board elections.

      4. @MIke — Yet somehow, magically, those opinions happen to be in line with what most experts would recommend. What is true in West Seattle is true in Kirkland, as it is in Tacoma, Issaquah and Fife. Light rail is not the answer to every problem. Sometimes people just need faster buses. You are worried about who the unwashed masses will elect — I’m concerned with the demagogues we have running the show right now.

      5. RossB: “Light rail is not the answer to every problem. Sometimes people just need faster buses. You are worried about who the unwashed masses will elect — I’m concerned with the demagogues we have running the show right now.”

        I second that opinion.

      6. Most experts recommend park n rides in West Seattle, a tunnel under a golf course, and focusing on preserving car thoroughput over optimizing stations for pedestrian access?

    5. Still in favor of technocrats and higher level politicians being appointed to the board than opening it up to every idiot with an agenda and special-interest backing.

    6. It is incredibly naive to think that the people that get elected to this board are not going to be staunch anti transit people. The appointed board makes the most sense as the appointments are actually based on meritocracy: their knowledge in public transit.

      Making it open to anyone and everyone does open it up to extremely vocal opponents of public transit, such as Tim Eyeman, or people who would rather put in park and rides in West Seattle than fund service improvements. Saying you “don’t have time for that kind of thinking” doesn’t make it any less true.

      I get where you are coming from but it just is not a good idea.

      1. What meritocracy? The people on the board are simply the people who hold elected office. Just because you know how to run a huge agency doesn’t mean you know anything about transit. Quite the contrary — I would guess that Dow Constantine spends very little time reading about, or studying transit issues. How could he? He has a huge agency to run. No one cares how he runs Sound Transit, and unless he does something scandalous, no will vote him out of office for doing a poor job there. He is judged by how he manages the huge bureaucracy that is the County of King — nothing more.

        Meanwhile, I don’t see why people are terrified that everyone who is elected to the board will be anti-transit. If there is such a big, anti-transit movement in this area, why did ST3 pass?

      2. @RossB. Remember that Metro is a county responsibility. Transit spending is roughly 15% of the King County operating budget. It’s its single largest line item, and is roughly the same size as total general fund spending. D.C. better be spending a significant amount of time understanding transit. While the specifics are different between ST and Metro, the general principals are identical.

      3. The role a board member, including the chair, plays is quite different than the role played by a chief executive. This is as true in the true in the public realm as it is in the private sector. I do agree that Dow Constantine better be spending a significant amount of his time understanding the myriad of issues involved with transit in his capacity as the county executive, particularly since Metro is such a significant piece of the county budget.

      4. This may work both ways. I was appointed to a transit advisory group some years back and was surprised that someone in that group did not seem very transit friendly and admitted he never rode the bus.

      5. Derek;

        I don’t care for fearmongering. Which is what your post was, bluntly speaking.

        I hold RossB‘s view, “I don’t see why people are terrified that everyone who is elected to the board will be anti-transit. If there is such a big, anti-transit movement in this area, why did ST3 pass?”

        Tlsgwm, the truth is I want elected transit boards so I’m on them and so we get more Dow Constantines. This fearmongering is just progresssives afraid of dem-o-cra-cy. The ultimate proof it’s fearmongering is take a look at the BART Board and the biographies of the BART Board. Furthermore, the BART Board Chair (no conservative) even tweeted, “I’m the president of the board and I think there are benefits to an elected body. We represent our districts, respond to constituents.”

        Yeah, we need more of this in transit. A lot more. I’m sure a lot of transit staffers would want Boardmembers to run interference between them and intrigued constituents as well…

    7. I fully support an elected board as well. I think many of the naysayers who like to throw out the Tim Eyeman arguments forget what the primary purposes of this agency’s board actually are. They DO NOT need to be experts in transit operations or planning. They DO need an interest in carrying out their respective roles in seeing that the agency is carrying out its mission, meeting its commitments to stakeholders and doing so in a financially responsible, prudent and transparent manner to district taxpayers.

      Watching the last board meeting on August 24th made me sick to my stomach by how little discussion there was over the Lynnwood Link escalating costs and planned service delay. Board members who dialed in to “attend” the meeting were even dropping off before the 80+ minute meeting was adjourned.

      1. The board members are appointed because they asked to be appointed — I don’t know how much more interest they could have shown. Look, everyone was surprised by L.Link’s escalation, and Peter Rogoff handled that situation he inherited expertly. Somebody elected would have found out at exactly the same time as the appointed board did. No improvement!

      2. I suggest you actually watch the video of the Aug 24th meeting.

        Your comment about an appointed vs elected board member’s “interest” is a straw man argument.

        Everyone was surprised by the Lynnwood Link estimation miss? How do you know that? How do you know that this wasn’t known prior to the ST3 ballot measure?

        Here we go again. It was the prior executive’s administration miss and Mr. Rogoff just inherited the problem.

        The rest of your argument is purely speculative.

      3. >> The board members are appointed because they asked to be appointed — I don’t know how much more interest they could have shown

        That means they are interested, but it doesn’t mean they know what they are talking about. It doesn’t mean they know anything about transit, or are willing to listen to experts who do.

        Contrast that with the people who got the most votes for Seattle School Board:

        Eden Mack — Legislative Chair of Seattle Council of Parent, Teacher and Student Associations (SCPTSA). Masters in Public Administration degree from the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy. Served as the Youth, Schools and Education Committee chair for Seattle City Neighborhood Council and recently on the Seattle Public School Capacity Management Task Force. She was endorsed by The Stranger, The Seattle Times, The Seattle Weekly, and numerous local Democratic organizations. Oh God, she sounds terrible — just like another Tim Eyman.

        Zachary DeWolf — Program manager with All Home King County, co-managing the Youth Advisory Board/Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project. Previously, he was director of communications and education with Pride Foundation. He (learned) and taught Braille and opened a library at St Peter’s Anglican School in Belize while serving in the U.S. Peace Corps and as a coordinator for the 2012 SOULFORCE Equality Ride. He serves as president of Capitol Hill Community Council and as a commissioner for the Seattle Housing Authority Board. Zachary previously served on the boards of Gender Justice League, Victory Fund & Institute, and 43rd District Democrats.

        Do I really need to go on? I think you get the picture. These folks aren’t just qualified — they are overqualified! They are outstanding, and they know a lot about education. That is why they ran, and beat out other candidates, many of whom also knew a lot about education.

        Right now we have people running ST who know a lot about running a large governmental organization, but don’t know diddly about transit. Why would they? It isn’t what they are going to be judged on. Screw up running the county, and Dow gets some serious competition. Screw up Sound Transit (i. e. propose a ridiculous plan that can’t be independently supported for cost effectiveness) and no one cares. That is the problem.

        It wouldn’t matter if transit was a small thing. But it is not. It is huge, with billions in stake.

      4. People have a good idea what a quality education is so they choose superintendents who match that. People often don’t have a good idea what quality transit is but they think they do, or they have priorities that undermine transit, that’s what you have to watch out for. I’d rather trust an appointer who is responsible or making sure transit is running and meeting the region’s economic/social needs than all those people who are concerned about P&Rs and car thorougput over maximizing what you can walk to from the station and understanding a grid network and a trunk-and-feeder system.

      5. Hey Tlsgwm and RossB, you two get it.

        At least a six-month delay. No questions about regulatory relief or opening the stations in sequence instead of all at once. No accountability by staff – and I’m not talking just about lacking business cards to continue the conversation and build allies to help staff complete the mission… I’m talking about staff being creative and pushing back against ridicilous requests like millions for trees.

        Some wonder where I’ve gone from, “I love Sound Transit” to “tough love for Sound Transit” – there you go. I may express my range of emotions inappropriately at times, but please understand I care. I want people on transit boards who care. I also don’t like picking on Sound Transit in the process of transit democratization, I still wear my Sound Transit cap all the time.

        Mess up a transit and only the transit dependent & front-line transit employees truly have skin in the game. I lived through that in 2014 with Island Transit. I fear Kitsap Transit is next. I worry the lassitude attitude of the 2nd string of another transit agency is not helpful for the transit dependent & front-line transit employees to get projects done. That is the problem.

      6. People often don’t have a good idea what quality transit is but they think they do, or they have priorities that undermine transit, that’s what you have to watch out for. I’d rather trust an appointer who is responsible or making sure transit is running and meeting the region’s economic/social needs than all those people who are concerned about P&Rs and car thorougput over maximizing what you can walk to from the station and understanding a grid network and a trunk-and-feeder system.

        But that is exactly who we have now! That is the point, Mike. Holy Cow, what set of transportation experts sat down, and said “We’ve looked at all the data, and the best way to improve public transportation in the region is to build a spine”?

        That isn’t what happened. They completely ignored bus based alternatives, even when experts said it was a bad idea. Kirkland goes out, hires an expert and asks them “What is the best way to use the CKC?”. The firm responds “Why, run buses on it”. So what does Sound Transit do? Ignore them! That sure as heck sounds like demagoguery to me. That sounds exactly like the problem that you fear!

        Yet there is no chance we get rid of the people in charge, because the people in charge have more important jobs. The board is not made up of public transportation experts. It is made up of mayors and county representatives. Their primary job is not dealing with Sound Transit, but the region they represent. If the mayor of Tacoma screws up the operations of the city, a lot of people die. If she fails to understand what public transit makes sense for her city, it will simply be a waste of money. Same with the county. Most of what the county spends money on is public safety and criminal justice. if Dow screws that up, someone will try and take his job. But if someone actually ran on an “I can do a better job running Sound Transit” platform, everyone would consider that person a loon. Because it isn’t the primary responsibility of the executive.

        That, in a nutshell, is the problem. You are assuming that because no one actually talks about Sound Transit, we magically have a set of highly qualified leaders. It is the opposite.

      7. “But that is exactly who we have now!”

        It might be worse under them. They don’t understand transit principals or city functioning. They understand “A station in front of my house would benefit me”, regardless of whether it benefits the greater community. The politicians you describe are responsible for the functioning of their city and county, and that includes transportation. They can’t afford to think just about what’s good for their individual selves like private citizens can, so they have to learn at least something about what kind of transit can move their people around.

        Also, there has to be room for people to assert basic values like “We want a a high-capacity transit system that seamlessly connects Seattle, Bellevue-Redmond, Everett, and Tacoma and is immune to traffic” and implement it, even if it’s not your values, even if there are alternatives, even if another alternative might be better. The region has basically decided that for a long time and repeatedly, as reflected not only in the ST# votes but in the public pressure that led to that kind of system and led to ST being a county/city focused entity. So let’s argue about a better system within that goal rather than relitigating something that has been settled for quite a while.

        You look at Link as a glass half empty; I look at it as a glass half full. We can only accomplish something if we get a lot of people to agree, and it’s a long slow process that requires compromises, like getting a majority vote in the legislature. I’m glad we’re getting something accomplished, even if it’s to the mediocre standards Americans have for transit. (That’s another value, and not one we can wave a magic wand and make 100% better immediately.) I think of the thirty years I spent dealing with slow infrrequent unreliable buses, and wishing I could take a subway to the U-District and Northgate and Bellevue and the airport, and hey Lynnwood Everett and Tacoma are great if we get them too. I’m glad the rest of my life is not going to be as bad as it was before, transit-wise, and that future generations won’t have to go through what was an absurd situation. I’d rather take something that’s working somewhat than something that might not happen at all.

      8. Mike Orr;

        I really think we can get the right folks elected to push back against that localist view you rightfully are concerned about. At least at the Sound Transit level.

        I have to say one reason why I want ALL transit boards elected is I’m seeing a certain transit spend more of its new money on rural routes to nowhere instead of taking care of the one route that the public clearly asked for when that ballot measure was put forth…

      9. There are 24 legislative districts in (or partially in) the RTA. Only 10 of them voted for ST3.

        Good luck finding your idealized board of elected transit enthusiasts. You won’t be able to rely on Seattle super-majorities to get you through those elections.

      1. The news roundups are open threads. I read most of the comments on here and I can’t recall Joe hijacking threads with defined topics or anything like that. To some degree I think the giant arguments that arise every time elected boards come up are on us all — Joe pretty consistently acknowledges that his position isn’t popular here, and I’m sure he’s heard every argument against him.

      2. @Jon Wright,

        Thank you for your concern about thread hijacking. Since this an open-thread post, there is more leniency in talking about most anything to do with transit and land use.

        The editors will take care of the moderation. Don’t worry about it.

        Feel free to ignore threads that don’t interest you.

        –Brent, one of the editors

      3. Jon;

        It is well studied that it takes X number of impressions to get folks to even pay attention. This is an open thread (thank you Brent) so I brought my petition forth for those folks less… vocal.


      4. The onion article comparison seems appropriate.

        Joe: we’re well into “winning the hearts and minds” phase.

        If your arguments are landing, it isn’t with the commenters here.

  4. Wow that crazy 11 Boulevard and still only sharrows for cyclists? All to squeeze in extra parking, no doubt.

    1. This is a classic multi-lane boulevard. They’re super common in many European cities. Even in Amsterdam or Copenhagen, you’ll see these streets without a dedicated bike lane… the parking-access lane just becomes the bike corridor. I normally don’t disagree with STB and I don’t like wide roads, but this isn’t an “abomination,” it’s perfectly fine.

      1. I’ve ridden a similar boulevard in Chicago ( and it only has one parking lane on the auxiliary lanes, not two, which makes the cycling feel safer as you don’t have two door zones to worry about. Also, the grassy medians are wider, separating you further from motor traffic, and the boulevard is lined with trees and nice houses. Seem like a much better design than this street.

        By the way “they do this in Europe” is not a valid reason to support something. They do dumb things over there too, just less often.

      2. I read “The Boulevard Book” after having a discussion about Bothell and came away with the understanding that the only appropriate modern application of that design is maybe to replace a freeway that’s been removed. It’s also surrounded by enormous 1980’s style mall-style parking lots. I had to negotiate one with two adults using walkers and a toddler, and it was a miserable experience. It’s the kind of place where most people will choose to use the car to go next door or to cross the street.

      3. Eight-lane European boulevards are used instead of having freeways come to the city center. But remember, those same cities also have comprehensive subways, commuter rail, and buses going everywhere all the time, and there’s probably a station within a 10-minute walk of you.

        I saw Bothell’s stroad widening under construction a few years ago. I don’t know if it has gotten even worse recently. It’s hard to call that a European bouevard when the environment around it is all car-scaled nonwalkable car-dependent. People in Europe don’t drive down the boulevard near a city center and turn into the surface parking lot of a one-story fast-food restaurant or strip mall, much less order drive-through there. Put towers right around the boulevard and then maybe we’d be talking.

      4. Having lived in Chicago, visited Europe, worked in Bothell, and driven Bothell-Everett Highway many times (even biked it a few), here are my takes, in no particular order:

        – Chicago’s “boulevards” are a legacy of Olmstead’s attempt at park-i-fying what were then the outskirts of the city, so their built environment resembles old, rich, residential suburbia, even where the demographics don’t. Unlike 522/527 they were not designed to be major road junctions or commercial centers (even where they’ve ended up becoming those things). Olmstead and the other planners didn’t anticipate the way that mass-motorization would change the city, nor the way drivers would behave on roads designed like that (in fairness, nobody really anticipated those things), so the “boulevards” today are mostly notable for creating confusing intersections with mediocre-to-terrible pedestrian conditions. By contrast, Olmstead street designs in Seattle (and other street designs here in that park-like vein) are a lot less grand, which has a lot to do with limitations imposed by our terrain. I believe we’re mostly lucky for that.

        – The junction of 527 and 522 is an important highway junction. Even in a future with generally reduced private vehicle usage it would be one.

        – Great pedestrian cities and towns all over the world have large surface roads through them. The key is that the biggest roads and the focal points of the town are different things. The main roads skirt the town centers; they may divide neighborhoods, but they rarely define them. Bothell has an old-style town center just northeast of the junction, on several contiguous blocks of smaller streets (similar to Burien along 152nd). My understanding is that the 522/527 project overall has shifted the roads a bit out of the way and enlarged the contiguous area northeast of the junction, which is great! It’s also made some intersections squarer and simpler, which is usually a good thing. You can catch a bus to Seattle on 522 and there are P&R spaces along the highway, which is an eminently appropriate place for them to go! But then the drawings show the typical American planning fallacy that 527 is the center of civic life. Maybe they have to, because, after all, they’re drawings illustrating a highway design… but a better planning notion would be that somewhere around Main Street and 102nd Ave should feel like the center of the town. It’s not that the highway should have a poor pedestrian environment and nothing facing it, but the main virtue for a highway design should be that it keeps the through-traffic out of the way and gives the town room to breathe.

      5. They’re also common in Thailand–one of the worst countries for traffic fatalities. Devil is in the details. And in the level of respect drivers have for other drivers and for non-driving road users.

      6. @Al: Bothell did shift 522 south so that it is basically on the border of DT Bothell and separates it from the parks along the river. That keeps 522 traffic out of the city and creates a more walkable space.

        Despite all the road re-development work, Bothell is attempting to basically re-design its downtown to be denser and more pedestrian friendly. There are a lot of apartment buildings being built and most of them are 4-5 stories. That looks to be almost what Redmond has. So while the design is not perfect (not like you can ever get there), it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

      7. The whole area is going through a lot of changes right now, and it will be interesting to see what it looks like when it is all done. But in general I would say it is fine, and agree with David and Al. But what B said is true, the devil is in the details. I happened to be walking around there a lot the other day, and the only really irritating thing was the light cycle as we walked on Bothell Way from the business district (north) to the water (south). It was terrible, and obviously not designed for pedestrians. But that could be fixed. To be fair, we also could have walked on the bridge (102nd).

        In general though, I would say this is a minor issue when it comes to walking around Bothell. The worst part, in my opinion, is the walk from the campus to town. Beardslee Boulevard feels like a highway next to the highway, which is ridiculous. Hopefully, over time, there will be more shops there, and they will slow it down, as they have Main Street.

      8. @Ross: Yeah, the connection from the campus to town is poor. From having read the master plans, there’s a recognition of that, but at the same time Bothell’s primary focus is on the town. Plus between downtown Bothell and the campus is primarily residential and I doubt that will change substantially soon. Given the focus on densification, I doubt they’ll push to expand in that direction (nor should they).

        Practically speaking, the most that’ll happen is pedestrian/bike improvements. From what I remember, it’s only one lane in each direction until you reach the campus and expanding it won’t be cheap. Between those improvements and improved transit service (e.g., the 522 BRT and later investments), I think you’ll get a better connection, if not a perfect one.

    2. I haven’t seen the recent Bothell implementation, but I support and promote multi-way boulevards in situations like this: high volume, high speed traffic, with an adjacent quality pedestrian realm with low-speed car & bike traffic and building access.

      Bothell is attempting to create a new pedestrian-friendly downtown, out of standard-issue American suburbia. The multi-way boulevard doesn’t function as well in a suburban highway context – but if the sidewalk edges are lined with multi-story buildings and retail and limited parking, it will make sense.

      The environment is created by users as well as by the physical design. If people walk on the sidewalks and crosswalks, and bicycle slowly in the very center on the access lanes, then the plan will work. If not, cars will race down the access lanes and bikes and people will stay away.

      The biggest risk here is the double-sided parking in the access lanes. If parked cars don’t fill both sides, and lane will appear very wide and lead to cars speeding down the access lanes.

      1. Sounds like many commenter on the multi way boulevard in Bothell need to make a field trip there. It is going through one of the most ambitious suburban transformations in the country, it’s not the strip mall wasteland it was a few years ago.

      2. Any specific things a bus tourist should look for? I did a transit/urban-potential tour in Tacoma last weekend, a year or so ago that the Bothell-Everett highway (CT 105 from UW Bothell to Mariner P&R), a few times in Kent to Maple Valley, the Issaquah Highlands, Snoqualmie Valley, West Seattle (California Ave), Northgate, etc. But I’ve only been in Bothell a few times, so is there any particular places or things to look for?

      3. Last time I was in Bothell, the access lanes on the west were open, but the lanes on the east were still under construction (as were the east-west crossings).

        At least on weekday evenings, it seemed to work well. The access lanes are wide enough for bikes to ride the center without risk of getting doored, but still narrow enough that cars took it slow. The sidewalks between the parking and the buildings to the west was calm and far-separated from the arterial.

        Lot of things to balance in this design. But given that Bothell Way is a major arterial, I can’t think of a better way to create calm spaces. I’m inclined to think it doesn’t need separate bikeways. That would have been ideal from an all-ages/all-abilities perspective, but would have added even more width. Riding in the access lanes seemed to me like riding on a quiet low-speed suburban street.

        Anyway, a trip to McMenamins seems in order now.

  5. Just raising gas taxes will not work and is not equitable (it disproportionately puts the burden on lower income folks who can only afford gas guzzlers).

    A user fee is the most reasonable and sustainable long-term option. Roadways are a utility (just like electricity and water) and should be paid for by usage like most other utilities – the more you drive the more you impact the road. It’s a more fair option socioeconomically, it’s not subject to the whim of increasing fuel efficiency and fluctuating gas prices, and it doesn’t go directly against the regional policy to improve air quality emissions.

    I’m really not sure what issue you have with a road user fee.

    1. Agreed.
      Not only can a use fee account for amount of use, but based on vehicle type and size it should also be able to account for the difference in the intensity of use between a small passenger vehicle and a commercial truck for instance.
      This hot take “The dream of per-mile vehicle taxes ($) will not die. Just raise gas taxes!” is either trolling the original article or trolling STB readers.

      1. Problem with gas taxes is that automobiles are starting to burn ever less gasoline. Anybody got a problem with that? But what exactly is the problem with car tab fees? I look at them exactly as I do transit fares. Putting me irreparably on opposing side in every argument about charging transit passengers per mile.

        The end of massive scheduled hauls of factory workers has long since given the average person different travel needs on different days. So isn’t it easiest and fairest to just to sell passengers, as already done with motorists’ plates, essentially a key to the whole system?

        I’d turn in my green and white Senior pass hot from the shredder in exchange for an all-service all-month pass that’s blanket immunity from theft prosecution over an innocent mistake. Rather than States’ evidence based on the “tap on” that’s the only violation mentioned on Warning One.

        I’m coming to understand, and hate, that my money goes to a private corporation that won’t pay any of it to LINK if I tap “on” without tapping “off.” With a fully paid monthly pass. Got to give you this one, Joe. Somebody I vote for might be less likely to sell off transit’s own responsibility for some share-holder’s Business Model. Already lost best part of my health care over one of those.

        Sound Transit, since KC Metro Information says this is your fault, do me a favor. Give me contact info for one member of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce whose Business Model puts a customer in criminal court for a mistake paying a bill. And then take my money, thank me, and get out of my face before I put a consulting contract with Tim Eyman in my own Business Model.

        Mark Dublin

    2. Road usage taxes are harder to collect. Measuring road usage in individual vehicles is expensive by any means and adds concerns of accuracy, privacy, and intentional tampering with equipment. By comparison, measuring fuel usage is very easy.

      I don’t know where this idea that poor people drive less efficient vehicles comes from. Probably some misguided sense of guilt now that (some) efficient vehicles are cool. Of course almost any consumption tax on a widely used good like gas is going to be income-regressive, but probably no more so than a road usage tax. A handful of rich folk drive Teslas and some middle-class families have Priuses, but an old Corolla still uses less gas than a Subaru, to say nothing of all the luxo-crossovers you see at school pick-up time in a rich district.

      1. While taxing use of gas has worked as an analogue for road use, this is no longer the case because of fuel economy, hybrid electric and full electric vehicles.
        Also, with transit as an economical choice for lower-income (poor) people, I’m not sure that your claim that gas tax is no probably no more regressive than a road usage tax holds water.
        I’m not against the gas tax but taxing the use of roadways versus taxing the consumption of gas are two different things.
        If personal privacy is someone’s main beef with roadway use tracking, then they should get some heavier duty tinfoil for their hat.

      2. With regards to privacy, it is a very simple thing to program whatever device you use to throw away the coordinate data and just store/transmit the derived distance data. There is technically no need to retain all the coordinates, and in fact, it would be a waste of data storage and network bandwidth to do that.

        I once carried a $20 Tracfone which had GPS, so it’s not like the tech is expensive nowadays.

        GPS accuracy is an issue when using fitness apps and Pokemon Go, but assuming you’re rounding to the nearest mile or tens of miles, a hundred feet here and there is not going to matter.

      3. Cars have odometer. They tell how many miles were traveled since the last annual check. That’s enough for a mileage tax.the main problem is how to guarantee they’re not falsified or mourned back or not your odometer, it they can work on that specifically. Another question is how to handle driving out of state. Maybe the state can still tax it if the car is registered in Washington.

        Odometer readings are the same in principle as electric-meter readings, and I don’t see people complaining it’s a major invasion of privacy that the electric utility knows how much electricity you use every month.

      4. Well to me it doesn’t seem that cut and dry about just reading odometers. (By the by, car owners own their odometers. Utility companies typically own the meters used to measure their customers’ consumption of electricity, gas or water. So it’s not an exact analogy since they serve very different purposes.)

        So exactly how does the process work in these test pilot programs? Is it all just self reporting by the participants? Would odometer readings be taken when registrations are renewed and the tax paid as part of that process? There seem to be many, many tricky areas to consider. For example, we drive on a wide variety of thoroughfares, from interstates down to local streets. Some of these thoroughfares serve as both a local byway as well as a state or county road. The mix of thoroughfares will vary widely from vehicle owner to vehicle owner obviously. Thus there are many little complexities that would need to be addressed in designing a tax system based on mileage. The out of state driving is just one of said considerations.

      5. That’s for the policymakers to study it and figure out if it’s feasible. We don’t have to. We just need to argue for transit principles. It’s a possibly-simple solution that shouldn’t be prematurely rejected until it’s been thoroughly evaluated.

        As for you owning your odometer, you also own your car, yet that doesn’t prevent the state from requiring a car license on it, or emissions testing.

      6. And what other less-intrusive way is there to determine a car’s impact on the infrastructure and environment than reading the odometer? The only less-intrusive one I’ve heard of it a gas tax, but that’s precisely what’s failing and necessitating looking for an alternative.

      7. The only reason the gas tax is failing, as of 2017, is that it doesn’t rise with inflation, and that politicians are too chickenshit to raise it like they should.

        In the future (i.e. in any future that is a future, because burning fossil fuels ultimately gives us a non-future) we’ll have to use something else to fund road infrastructure. TBH, in general I think the benefit of public roads is so diffuse that we really should do this from the general fund. I think the question of whether “drivers pay for their roads” or not is a distraction. Freeway expansion doesn’t become OK when it’s funded by car-related activity alone. Take the E-470 in Denver. The state didn’t want to fund it so some auto-centric counties decided to take on the cause with their own money and lots of toll revenue… but it still still exemplifies and perpetuates terrible planning.

        And our general fund needs to be filled in a less regressive way. I might be naive about this, but as a citizen I think I have a right to be naive about it and let the politicians be cynical: I’ll support a more progressive tax structure (especially here in Washington where it’s so bad already), budgets mostly based on general-fund revenue rather than random user fees and special-purpose taxes, and better urban-planning/street-design outcomes, each as their own issues, not tied together. That’s mostly the way we’ve made progress anyway, right? It’s not like current fiscal constraints are pushing WSDOT towards efficiency and sustainability — they’re building freeways left and right while they can’t maintain their existing ones!

      8. The legislature is building freeways left and right; WSDOT is just their mechanism for doing so. They’re being built because laws were passed telling WSDOT to do so. Otherwised WSDOT would just be doing maintenance.

    3. “I don’t know where this idea that poor people drive less efficient vehicles comes from.”

      They drive older vehicles which are less expensive, and the older vehicles are less efficient. Or at least that has been the trend. It may be less so now that the pre-efficiency gas guzzlers are so old they’re fading to oblivion, and new waves of gas-guzzling SUVs have been selling every time the gas price goes down for a while.

    4. The highest fuel usage vehicles (gals/100 mi) are overwhelmingly large trucks and SUVs. I am not sure there is much of an income gap in the truck/SUV vs car breakdown. If there is one, wealthier may be more likely to drive trucks/SUVs.

      1. You should see the prices of used SUVs when gas prices are high. They practically give them away. That’s how they get into the hands of the working class and poor. My friend has gotten two of them, when he needed a working car quick and when a friend sold him his car for cheap. And he’s not even the kind of person who always drives big cars. As soon as he didn’t need the space, or could afford another car and had time to be more picky about it, he sold it for a small car, and he’s about to do the same again (since he already has the small car now).

      2. The purpose of a gas tax is to fund the roads, not to make a statement about the climate. You won’t find many people in Olympia thinking drivint is a sin and should be punished more, or that drivers should pay for carbon emissions. Otherwise they wouldn’t be building exurban freeways and rejecting a carbon tax or cap-and-trade.

    5. Of course raising gas taxes will work. It is absurd to suggest otherwise. Just raise it until you get enough money.

      As for the poor paying more — that is true of many taxes, and probably would be true if you charged people for driving. Charge me a dollar for every ten I drive and I can afford it. But there are plenty of people who can’t.

      A gas tax is a sin tax. It is taxing something that is bad (for everyone). Every time you consume a gallon of gas, you pollute the air, and contribute to global warming. The higher the tax, the greater your incentive to find alternatives. It is no different than a cigarette tax (which is also regressive). If anything, it is more just. I really don’t have any problem if you want to kill yourself with cancer sticks, but I suffer — everyone suffers — when someone consumes gasoline.

      1. We are moving away from from fuel-based vehicles across the board. Raising the gas tax is just a temporary fix that will soon need to be addressed again, and that cycle will just continue. The fact is we need to move away from it and find new sustainable sources – a road user fee seems like it checks all the boxes.

      2. That may be, but there’s a lot to be said for kicking the can down the road.

        If the side effect is to force gasoline-powered cars off the road sooner, so much the better.

    6. Sure let’s consider a road use tax once there actually is widespread conversion to electric or super efficient vehicles. As long as transportation still accounts for HALF of carbon emissions in the state, a gas tax is the only sensible way to tax road use. A per mile tax is a direct disincentive to ditch fossil fuel burning or high mileage vehicles, which is, remember, what we want people to do.

      1. The gas tax is not first and foremost a “sin” tax. It’s a “pay for our transportation system” tax, because the money has to come from somewhere. It’s a clear policy conflict – the more our policies of decreasing emissions succeed, the less money we get to pay for transportation facilities.

        I think you’re missing the forest for the trees. What we want to do, first and foremost, is make sure we have enough funding for the maintenance and preservation of our transportation system.

        All models show gas tax revenue will dramatically decrease over the next 1-2 decades. It won’t be enough money – additional revenue sources are needed, and a pay-by-mile approach makes the most sense. You pay to use the utility like all other utilities – by measuring how much you is that utility.

        Honestly, you could keep a gas tax to try and deter people from driving gas guzzlers, but the fact is we need to find new revenue sources to pay for transportation, and the gas tax will not cut it in the near to mid future. Any other suggestions besides a road user charge?

      2. “let’s consider a road use tax once there actually is widespread conversion to electric or super efficient vehicles.”

        That may be reasonabe depending on how quickly electric cars spread. Given that it takes at least 2-3 years to debate, decide, and implement a new funding model, we could walk into a crisis and then have to scramble to patch things up, as happens in so many other things. Richard Engel did a piece about how the rest of the world isn’t going to wait around if the US drags its feet on combating climate change. (Link. It’s hard to link to a specific video but it’s the one 8/4/17, “China leaving US behind to lead on green energy jobs, ambition”) India and China are going big on electric cars and they’ll be widespread by 2030. Not expensive luxury cars but tiny cheap cars. They’re focusing on the cost of the battery as the greatest expense. If the technology gets widespread there it will filter back to here.

      3. >> The gas tax is not first and foremost a “sin” tax.

        So what? If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it is a duck.

        What exactly is the problem? Either it is operating like it is supposed to — taxing people for the driving they do — or it is acting like a sin tax. For the most part, it is operating just as it is supposed to (the more miles you drive, the more you pay). Inefficient vehicles pay more per mile, so for some people, it is operating as a sin tax. A handful of people get a bonus — for destroying the planet less than their neighbor — and for those people, they pay less. Besides, generally speaking, the vehicles that are inefficient are heavier, and thus inflict more damage on the roadways. All and all, it is a very good, sensible tax. Compared to most taxes in this state (B and O tax, sales tax, assorted very high fees) it is one of the best.

        The main problem is that it isn’t high enough. That is a very easy problem to solve. Most advanced countries have a much higher gas tax. We should follow suit.

      4. The problem is, when you collect such a broad based tax, what highway does it get spent on?

        They all don’t cost the same.
        From $4 Million-lane-mile to $40 Million-lane-mile. (and beyond!)
        Who pays their fair share?

    7. What about a sales tax on tires?

      The more you drive, the more often your replace your tires. Most low income people aren’t putting thousand dollar monster truck tires on their vehicles.

    8. I wonder when bikers will start paying for their share of the road / trail like car owners do. Don’t understand how they can get off without a scratch. Those bike lanes are taking up space that car owners are paying for.

  6. The multi-way boulevard in Bothell is not ideal, but it’s not as bad as you are making it out to be. I live about a half mile from the north end of this and walk the area regularly.

    First of all, it’s misleading to say it’s 11 lanes. It’s essentially a four lane highway with occasional turn lanes (where it was 5 lanes the whole way before). The sides are single lanes bracketed by parking, which the 11-lane count is treating as 3 lanes when there’s only one travel lane. The net effect is a 4-lane highway (unfortunately politically necessary to deal with through traffic on a state highway) with local access lanes on each side.

    Without separation from the highway traffic, it would be hard to make the sidewalks pleasant for pedestrians. Those lanes plus the parked cars buffer pedestrians from traffic and make it quite pleasant to walk. Walk just north of this boulevard to see how big an improvement it is. It would be better if there were more storefronts directly along the sidewalk, but that level of development is going to take time. My only real concern is that they should have extended the changes to 190th/191st.

    If I were able to choose how to do this corridor, I’d do it differently. In an ideal universe I’d just downsize from a highway to one through lane in each direction, intersection turn lanes, one lane of parking on each side, and separated bike track, and then move development closer so the overall roadway is narrower while still retaining broad sidewalks.

    Even with the reality of keeping highway capacity, I’d like to see a dedicated bike track instead of forcing bikes to avoid the corridor or share the side lanes with slow-moving and parking cars. That could be done just by removing the interior parking lane on each side for one-way bike tracks, and then giving bikes a separate signal. As stated, I’d extend to 190th where the transition to a typical highway would work better, and to access the businesses in that area. And I’d encourage those businesses to orient their development toward sidewalks and away from parking lots. Even aside from that, the signage could be better (and might be, once they are done). But given the competing interests involved the changes constitute a major improvement.

    1. I live in southern Bothell, and while I agree maybe in an ideal world we wouldn’t need 2 lanes each way, the reality for now is that we do and that’s not changing anytime soon (and in Bothell, traffic is only growing). If anything, this is the best way to make a highway into an actually walkable area while maintaining decent traffic flow and giving bikes basically an entire lane. Personally, I’d much rather see this than a simple bike lane.

      Remember that 527 had to go somewhere through downtown Bothell and this makes it relatively bike and pedestrian friendly. The rest of downtown Bothell is likewise being renovated into a much more walkable and bikeable area (but with very different designs).

      Also remember that

    2. A lot of the larger streets in Paris are actually like this, especially on the South Bank and most are one way. Also it’s an actual *city* and not a suburb. With heavy development on either side this could be nice providing a buffer between fast moving traffic and folks exiting and entering cars into a business area. Some of the streets in Paris also “notched” the side of the road for bus pullouts and mini parks type spaces. All in all I felt it worked really nicely.

    3. Somewhere out there..
      Bothell Landing…

      a dream of connecting Main Street directly to the Landing…
      long gone…

    4. SR 527 has ended at I-405 since 2011. The segment in question is no longer a state highway, presumably because the city of Bothell wanted the right to make upgrades without WSDOT interference (the same reason Tukwila International Blvd is no longer SR 99 between 599 and 518).

      1. WSDOT couldn’t have done a better job cutting off Bothell Landing from the downtown business district than Bothell did with their remake of SR522/527(Bothell-Everett Highway).

        SR522 thru traffic had to suffer it’s way through the area previously, but it was scaled much better for the pedestrian.

        Now, they’ve created a glorified car sewer.
        Dressed it up, and called it a Boulevard.

  7. Note that the Uber promotion is valid only in South Seattle, so use can’t use it to get to or from UW Station.

  8. Chamois. Got a beef with life in a country where it’s a citizen’s duty to amputate any official nose we find in our private business? Remember to recycle the tinfoil out of your hat before you hit Airport Security.

    Mark Dublin

  9. Joe, sorry I couldn’t find a slot closer. Honestly, thanks for the compliment. But tell me honestly. Would you really want the operation of a 60′ hybrid bus running joint use with DSTT trains be awarded by popular election?

    Or having me give operating orders to a major transit system on strength of how fast I can re-wire and restart a bus stuck on a dead spot? Even if the rope has wrapped itself a sign post. And your safety vest just lets angry motorists find out where you are?

    And what would the Alt Right have to threaten you with to make you say that the President of the United States needs no training whatever in politics? And that there’s no political innovator like somebody who never left Reality TV?

    “Good evening, I’ll be your pilot on our fleet’s transpolar flight. There’ll be turbulence ahead for at least the next six hours so no bothering me by going to the bathroom. Thank you for electing me. My six months as a refrigerator repair man leave me knowing a lot about ice.The cube kind. Too bad the boss was hung up about what happens when it forms on, like, aluminum. It’s real dark out there. Anybody got a flashlight and a map?

    Would also be good right now to have somebody elected with direct experience in an actual Korean War. Who’d probably advise his former home’s current tenant to hold off the invasion ’til he brings back the draft. So. See if Mount Vernon or Sedro Wooley has a haberdasher. Since nobody under 90 knows what one was, google Harry Truman. Maybe you’ll luck out and have the Skagit County Clerk also secretly be one.


  10. So which is least likely to happen: the West Seattle proposal listed above or the Ballard Chamber of Commerce et al not wanting a bridge over the ship canal, but a tunnel?

    1. The same thing is happening in the US. Parents are being cited for letting their children be alone somewhere. It’s not specifically about transit but a widespread shift in societal attitudes about how much supervision children need. It’s very unsettling and probably damages the maturation process, which we’ll see in the next generation.

  11. Speaking of fare policy… (Human Transit) On the Bay Area’s Clipper card and the fare complexity it masks.

    “if you look under Clipper’s hood, it quickly becomes apparent that the card’s magic masks a complex web of transit farclipperLogoLarge.pnges, passes and policies that ultimately limit its effectiveness. [Arielle Fleischer] … Back in the 80s and 90s, when I worked in the Bay Area, there was no “hood” to look under or “mask” to hide behind. The mess was in everyone’s faces.”

    Ironically, it’s still in visitors’ faces. Clipper cards are only easily available to residents, who know where the retailers are and who make enough trips to make it worth it to go to one. I arrived at SFO and checked if I could get one from a BART TVM (like you do in Chicago, Atlanta, Duesseldorf, and Seattle) but no, just BART-only tickets). When I got to San Francisco I went to the Powell cable car ticket window and got a weekly MUNI visitors’ pass — a scratch-off-the-dates card. I wanted to be a good smartcard-based transit customer but the system made it too difficult and expensive: the paper-based system I chose was much easier and had much better discounts.

    It also surprises me that Pugetopolis is further ahead than the Bay Area in some ways, even though the Bay Area has twice the population and more comprehensive transit. We have ORCA cards at all Link TVMs including the airport, and an all-agency monthly pass. Those are big deals. (It’s also interesting that Community Transit is ahead of Metro in having Swift and premium fares for long-distance expresses.)

  12. So how about them Amazon 2? KUOW’s Region of Boom speculated today that it may go to Everett or Bellingham rather than out of state. “Amazon says 50,000 jobs; Everett and Tacoma are planning 62,000, so that would take most of it in one stroke (and raise issues about “company towns”). 50,000 is the size of HE’s main campus (students and staff) so it’s nothing to sneeze at. If it did choose one of these two, how would it affect the overall transit/urbanism/living situation?

    And do Totem Lake or Issaquah have a chance to get Amazon? Does the Spring District have enough unclaimed capacity?

    1. I think they are definitely going out of state – the HQ2 is a play for talent they can’t get within Washington. Simply moving elsewhere in the current region won’t help them.

      Amazon is already leasing satellite office space in Bellevue for 2K employees, so Amazon’s spread to the east side is totally separate from an HQ2.

  13. The whole “we don’t transit plans now because robots from the future will save us” argument is totally delusional to me. I don’t get it. And I’m highly confident that we will have driverless cars sooner than anyone thinks.

  14. Big ridership in Bellevue today (Saturday). RapidRide B usually has 5-10 people on weekends but this afternoon every double seat had at least one person. The 550 eastbound had only two people which is typical on weekends, but westbound right now there’s 35 people in line.

    1. The 550 turned out to be because of a ballgame. More people got on later and it was standing room only. The B puzzles me: I didn’t see anything special happening in Bellevue today.

      The westbound B often fills up Saturday and Sunday afternoons and evenings, although the line isn’t that long. The eastbound B midday weekends has only a few people. I don’t know why it’s not equal, or how all those people get to the Eastside.

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