With guest appearance of our favorite parking economist Donald Shoup.

18 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: The High Cost of Free Parking, Apple Edition”

  1. Los Angeles is looking at HOV 3+ lanes and we should join them. Anecdotally, I see far more two-occupant vehicles in the I-5 HOV lane between Everett and Seattle than truly high-occupancy vehicles, so it would help wipe out a lot of traffic. It can even revert back to HOV 2+ after Lynnwood Link is completed, as the need for bus priority into Seattle will be almost nil.

    1. Bruce, why don’t we do this. ‘Til Lynnwood LINK opens, a bus-only lane each direction between Lynnwood and Seattle.

      Maybe if somebody was to delay in the Convention Center project to let us put the 512 series into the DSTT, along with the 41 and the 550. Sounds better with a fake- ‘Jersey gangster accent, doesn’t it?

      Would settle for the long-overdue additional express lane to give ourselves two-way express service from Northgate to Downtown.

      Now Joe, since I believe your readers generally drink wine, designer draft beer, and hard cider, we seldom have to discipline our teenage Growlers. Though since they’re always in the basement on social media, they don’t even know they’re Grounded.


      However, you’ve finally found us the answer for keeping bus lanes reserved for artics and double-deckers (Airstreams and three story high trucks don’t count).


      Now, maybe to keep if from being teased by A-10’s, named it “The Growler”, even though it really looks kind of cute, and incapable of disturbing anybody’s Sunday afternoon. Maybe it’s got classified “boom box” speakers under those adorable little wings.


      But you see why Growlers are afraid of A-10’s, which look, and are, a lot scarier than wart-hogs. Maybe when they were painting the names on, somebody made a remark about “When pigs fly” referring to end of free parking .

      Its minimum altitude will let upstairs double-decker passengers wave down at the pilot as miles of panicked violators finally understand the need for transit-priority. Painting the road service a little darker red could reinforce the message at little extra expense.

      Also: Whoever’s using this pic for an emblem, which is really awesome – will you rent ST your plane? Promise they won’t paint it blue and white. Or wrap the windows.


    2. @Bruce — Yes. 100% Yes. This is by far the most important transit issue for the suburbs, if not the entire region.

      Even when Link gets to Lynnwood it will be vital that we have free flowing buses to Lynnwood. Even when Everett Link is done (years and years from now) it will still be important to have good HOV lanes from Everett to Lynnwood. It would be faster to take the bus from downtown Everett and transfer in Lynnwood than take the train directly from Everett. This is true even with a stop at South Everett (which, by the way, won’t have Link service). It is pretty easy to imagine a very fast network of buses serving Lynnwood. Run a bus starting at the college, down Broadway, onto the freeway, stop at South Everett and head right to Lynnwood. That would essentially be a combination of the Everett Transit 7 and ST 510/512, both of which run at least every 15 minutes right now. With the cost savings of the truncations, you could run a bus like that every ten minutes, all day long.

      What is true of the north end is true of the south. The dynamics are a bit different, because the south end lacks a great terminus. This means that a bus would likely just go all the way from, say, Tacoma right to downtown Seattle. But doing so would still be faster than Sounder, which means it would be much faster than Link. A rider from downtown Tacoma would cut their travel time in half (and avoid a transfer) by taking the bus instead of transferring to Sounder. This is a savings of over 30 minutes. What is true for Tacoma is true for Federal Way and other suburbs. In all cases, the bus would go through town, get on the freeway, and sail right past all the congestion into Seattle.

      Of course there are dozens of little projects that could make it all much better. 520 already has HOV 3 lanes, and they work well. But a bus can’t complete the last mile (actually last quarter mile) connection between the freeway and Link (at the UW). Fixing that, along with many other small congested areas will cost some money, but be well worth it in the long run.

      But the first thing we should do is exactly what you said. For the cost of some paint, we can change the HOV2 lanes to HOV3, thus saving thousand upon thousands of rider hours.

    3. “‘Til Lynnwood LINK opens, a bus-only lane each direction between Lynnwood and Seattle.”

      Because WSDOT. The same agency that won’t upgrade HOV-2 to HOV-3. Overseen by the same legislators that think the solution to the sub-45 mph speeds in the 405 HOT lanes is to make them general-purpose lanes. The reason we’re building Link outside the densest areas is it’s easier to get a rail project approved than exclusive bus lanes. Not on I-5, not on Aurora, not on the West Seattle bridge, not on Fauntleroy Avenue. Shoreline and the south King County cities have done an impressive job with the BAT lanes on 99, but Seattle can’t manage to do likewise because parking.

  2. I really wish I had the credibility to belly ache over the Town of Coupeville demanding an Island County grant for yes… “free parking”. Makes me mad the gross hypocrisy from the Whidbey Left: “Oh I care about the environment so “Ground the Growlers”… and ignore I came to whine in a SUV when there was free Island Transit services available and the EA-18G Growler superfan came by bus.” HYP-O-CRI-TE.

    Problem is, my grousing would be perceived as, “Growler Joe’s made at Coupeville” NOT “Joe’s ideologically opposed to free parking”. So I’m out on that front. Sorry guys, perception is reality and I know my region.

    Makes me think me and a few other folks need a turbocharged transit advocacy group that has one mission and one mission only: Ideologically push ethical public transit that works for folks. TCC is underfunded and UNDER APPRECIATED to do this, and in case you haven’t noticed got “A Thursday of Trouble” ahead. Thursday, 1 PM, Community Resource Center School Board Room, 3900 Broadway Ave., Everett, WA 98201 – be there or watch on TVW. I will and maybe more than just a concerned citizen working the room… ;-).

    Over to you…..

    1. Subsidies for free parking? That’s funny. But Island County only has a population of 820000, and it’s removed from the main network. Transit will never be a real alternative to cars.

  3. What’s the latest on electrifying the 48? The street is finished and the steel support posts are up.

    When are those Denny bus lanes going in? They didn’t go in last week.

    1. Poncho, thanks for bringing up subject of electrification.


      Since I was involved for awhile in the early development of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, this video has a lot of resonance for me.

      Mechanism on these trucks would’ve put us a long way ahead. The freeway speed we needed. Ability to pass other buses without their having to drop their contactors.

      Electric bus design now seems to be centering on systems like the Proterra one we’re using on the east side. Though I don’t think these buses would carry standing loads to Lynnwood or Redmond.

      Using those places on purpose. My thought is if LINK gets hit with a very long delay, we might be able to wire reserved lanes on the freeways until the railroads get built out.

      The lanes and wires could then be used for over-the-road trucks As well as the electric buses to supplement the trains. Just a thought. Anybody have any thoughts one way or the other?

      Somehow don’t think the Russians will put their Crimean over-the-mountain trolleybuses on this technology. But Third to Jackson to Rainier to Highway 90 to Ellensburg would be great PR for the 3 and the 4.


  4. Metro’s 2025 target is eight years away, and if we assume the north Seattle things will really happen by 2021 and 2024 when Link opens, that’s only four years and seven years respectively. That’s not much time to redo the streets for RapidRide 372, not to mention 44 and 40 and 48/7 given how slowly Madison and Roosevelt and 23rd are proceeding. Then there’s financing: the 372 isn’t in Seattle’s corridors, and while I’ve heard rumors of a countywide roads+transit package that might fund the non-Move Seattle things, there’s still no details and not much time to pass that either and get the projects out the door. So are we going to end up with 2021 and 2024 coming and things not ready? If so, do we just muddle along?

    1. My guess is we just muddle along. That seems to be the general plan. The RapidRide+ projects were underfunded, so they are struggling to build something decent with what little money they have. Meanwhile, they are pouring lots of cash into the streetcar, a dubious project (to say the least). The county didn’t hesitate to sell off the convention center bus station, even though there was no plan in place to deal with the buses that used the tunnel. Essentially Constantine is saying “just muddle along”, until Link gets here. Things will, of course, improve once Link gets north (and east) but the politicians in charge are basically saying “don’t worry, Link will solve all your public transportation needs”, when of course, it won’t. But by the time folks realize that, the politicians responsible for misguided projects will all have moved on to other jobs.

  5. Mike, I think there’s one new potential muddle-cutter in program. The volume and speed of our present population increase is going to turn every arterial in the region into an I-5 imitator.

    Luckily, employees and deliveries being stuck in traffic all day might induce the companies creating and benefiting from this increase to put their hearts where their wallets are. And also lend the quiet voice to politicians we need those lanes.

    Any scuttlebutt about the Knowledge Industry applying its product to transit?


    1. How long do you think until a majority of southeast Pierce starts voting for Link/Sounder-like projects? You say I-5 is a parking lot, but they’re not doing it yet.

  6. Jon, might be a good idea to name Island County 820,000 Alki- like Chief Seattle’s confidence, or warning about future urbanization of a rain-sodden point of land whose harbor that dozens of arriving settlers were planning to jump into to get dry.

    Arrival of Never accelerates with expanding job opportunities assisted by wretched economies back home.


  7. Rise of the Yimbys

    “They say their lives are threatened by housing shortages and skyrocketing rental prices.”

    “It’s clear that this is a housing shortage – and the answer is to build housing,” says Laura Foote Clark, who heads San Francisco-based Yimby Action. “You generate policy by yelling about things.”

    “In Oakland, local yimby organisers helped win approval for a 24-storey housing tower to be built next to the low-slung MacArthur BART subway station.”

    “In Vancouver, yimby groups are organising tours to show the most wastefully zoned lots in the city, including a ritzy area where 150 acres houses only about 400 people.”

    “In Australia, newly formed yimby groups are looking to change laws to allow people to rent out the loft spaces above their garages or “Fonzie Flats”, as they are known Down Under.”

    “In San Francisco, supporters have even formed a yimby political party and signed Trauss up to run for a seat on the city’s Board of Supervisors in 2018.”

    ” A lot of the older generation doesn’t recognise the world has changed… The net wealth of millennials in the US today is only about half of what of their parents’ generation, the boomers, had when they were the same age in 1989,.. They earn less, carry more college debt and face greater challenges to home ownership…. But he says they seem more willing than other generations to stand up and change the world. “This generation is resilient. They are changing things in the face of adversity. That is the silver lining.”

  8. Amtrak Cascades is launching their new schedule on December 18th, just in time for the holiday travel rush (but too late for the Thanksgiving travel rush). We’re going to take the train up from Portland on the 16th, and back down on the 18th, to experience one of the last trains on the old route, and one of the first trains on the new route.

    Schedule time is reduced by 20 minutes, and there are two new departures in each direction:

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