King County Metro 2004 New Flyer DE60LF 2805

  • Denver RTD cuts weekend frequency on two suburban lines to 30 minutes. Examples like this should, but probably won’t, preclude the argument that rail services are uniquely immune to cuts, in the face of low ridership and fiscal constraints.
  • car2go replaces ($) its Smart Cars with Benz sedans. They’ll be harder to park on Capitol Hill, but you’ll look like a baller when you step out.
  • Times’s David Gutman discusses ($) transpo issues in the 45th race. It’s pretty well reported, unlike the Joe O’Sullivan hack job from last week.
  • Brooklyn’s Prospect Park goes car-free forever in the new year.
  • The Urbanist surveys some of the best architecture Seattle has to offer.
  • Skanska plans apartment tower on Fourth Avenue in Belltown. This project will “have a particular focus on the retail and ground-floor experience in this location;” I hope their architects look at the retail layout in Via6 down the street.
  • LA Times ed board likes Metro’s proposed mini-transit service.
  • North Broadway extension, and the highly desirable bike infrastructure that would have come with it, appear to be dead.
  • Submit comments in favor of ADUs.
  • If you don’t like paying ST’s car tabs you can go buy ($) yourself a three-ton truck.
  • Incoming Floridians ($).
  • Schedule tweaks for the Bremerton fast ferry. Two mid-day runs begin Nov. 13th.
  • San Antonio is a dangerous place to be a pedestrian.
  • BC Transit hiring.
  • A single, coordinated access system helped house ($) many of Houston’s chronically homeless.
  • SeaTac airport raises their TNC charge by $1 ($) per trip. Maybe this will let them design a passenger pickup area that’s not a total s***show.
  • Times op-ed proposes ($) a cross-sound car tunnel. That’s obviously nuts, but the PPP model of funding infrastructure seems to work very well in Europe and Scandinavia, and I would love to know why it never seems to happen in the US.
  • Five ways to tackle Melbourne’s worsening peak-hour traffic.
  • When the Mayor also drives for Uber.
  • The TNT doesn’t get in to great detail, but both candidates in the Tacoma mayoral race seem to want better transit, while exhibiting substantive differences in how to accomplish that.

This is an open thread.

40 Replies to “News Roundup: Substantive Differences”

  1. Did I miss definition of PPP? “Public-Private-Partnership?” Amounts seem very low. Also suspect that in the Nordic lands, the public part is much stronger and with much better popular support than here.

    And the private sector takes a longer view of the project itself, and also is not in such a hurry to get its money.

    But I think real difference could be the digging conditions. What’s in front of, above, below, and to every side of the boring machine?

    Elliott Bay, Lake Washington, West Seattle, or vacuum tube to New York,must-read. Through air with a high saltwater content, a surveying laser doesn’t shoot straight.

    Mark Dublin

    1. There’s a difference between a highway tunnel connecting two major cities or entire countries vs one medium-sized city and a rural/exurban area. This is like the myopia of self-driving car proponents. I wouldn’t object to a good PPP (yes, Public-Private Partnership), but I’d doubt we’d get a good PPP; i.e., one that doesn’t fleece taxpayers or drivers and doesn’t cancel the ferries so there’s no alternative. And I’m doubtful a company would step forward at all, given the low population in the West Sound. Although if there is any entrepreneur in the West Sound with experience in tunnel-building, it would be an opportunity to provide local jobs and prosperity for their county.

      Oh, but why isn’t there a tunnel already? The Cross-Sound Tunnel was one of the Forward Thrust projects in the 60s. It wasn’t pursued because the West Sounders didn’t want to make their penninsula more accessible because that would bring growth. Have they changed their mind?

  2. I posted this late in Sunday’s open thread, so I thought I’d catch this one at the start…
    The hole in front of city hall has a plan again. It’s going through it’s first round of design review next week. It’s not a particularly great urban design.

    Details here:

    -Driveway in front of building on the plaza, right across from City Hall. It’s not a hotel.
    -No improvement to DSTT entrance.
    -Blocks views from public portions of City Hall while preserving staff tower views.

    1. – 640 parking spots for 520 apartments on one of the most transit rich locations in Seattle.

      Considering how downtown streets are already way over capacity, why is there no parking cap?

      1. Yah. The streets are so far over capacity the cap for new projects should literally be “half the number that were already on the site”.

      2. These will be very expensive apartments, and with that comes a high willingness to pay for parking even if the residents don’t drive very often. Very possible few of them are driven at peak, though. Maybe a lot of downtown workers who walk to work, but want the car for the weekend.

      3. It’s really retail and office parking that’s most concerning. It’s certainly true that a lot of people living in Seattle have the money to own cars they don’t get much value out of!

    2. This offensive quote to transit riders is in the document: “Station entrances are rendered as existing, however we do plan to work with Sound Transit to cosmetically improve the entrances to the stations.”

      In other words, not only do the proposers call the entrances ugly, they have absolutely no initial intention to integrate transit entrances with the building (note the adjective “cosmetically”‘ and what that does and doesn’t imply). Instead, Link riders using this access point will be treated to the winds coming off of a new skyscraper into an empty, unprotected pedestrian plaza.

      I lament that the new development designs are not as creatively integrated into the DSTT as the Westlake Center or Benaroya Hall are. I always appreciated how the Wells Fargo Building and the Safeco Tower and the Fourth & Madison Building included escalators so that pedestrians could go from one level to another. Those were wonderfully things to add to Downtown Seattle!

      Will someone stand up and demand that this developer and architect change the pedestrian access concepts for both the Pioneer Square Station and for getting up and down the hill between Third and Fourth to match the decades of much better pedestrian architecture that Seattle expects, or will the Planning Commission just roll over and let some out-of-town developer and architect build their own little “wind-moated” castle in front of a darkened City Hall?

      1. The previously-planned building at this site actually rebuilt all the public vertical circulation with escalators and elevators from 4th to 3rd to the station mezzanine. That was consistent with the Civil Center Master Plan, which visioned that.
        With this new proposal, it’s hard to figure out how a building with such a prominent transit location fails to respond to that.

      2. It sounds like Century Square, which went into the old Nordstrom’s building and closed the direct-access door to the DSTT mezzanine. I don’t know which is worse, that there’s an unnecessary barrier between a multimodal transit facility and a store, or that a store with a door to a multimodal transit facility has such a narrow market that it displaces a retailer that would serve a wider scross-section of the ridership (I have never been in it).

      3. “Cosmetic” just means it will look better. What’s wrong with that? What was wrong with the entrance when a building was there? The only thing I found odd was the sideways escalator, but that’s the direction the platform is and the escalator has to fit into a narrow space.

      4. Did Century Square actually link into the DSTT? I saw some old preliminary plans for the tunnel showing a proposed underground entrance but I just assumed one was never built (likewise I saw a planned entry on 5th between Pike & Pine where that long boarded up storefront has been). Although I guess there is that intermediate pointless landing between the mezzanine and street so maybe.

        I think the entry to Pioneer Square DSTT station on 3rd was temporary and to be rebuilt into the tower. It would make a lot of sense. The whole proposal for this block is terrible, the cheap gimmicky tower, the poor plaza, the orientation of the building. But I guess that is to be expected with the sad state of contemporary architecture and Seattle’s poor quality latest crop of buildings in this boom.

      5. The now-always-dark double glass doors are still visible in the northwest quarter without an entrance.

      6. Southeast corner I mean. Maybe it’s not Century Square because the southwest entrance by McDonald’s was always the Century Square entrance. But there’s another entrance in the southeast with dark doors, and it’s been closed ever since Nordstrom moved across the street. So it goes to whatever replaced the two-story Nordstrom building, which I can’t off the top of my head think what it is.

      7. There was a women’s retailer where the place with all the sewing machines now is that had a basement entrance to DSTT at Fifth and Pike on the southeast side. I suspect that it never got much retail traffic as a result of the tunnel entrance and just having a bunch of people pass through who had no intention of buying their wares (me, for instance) wasn’t much of an advantage. The kind of thing that should be there would be something like a food court that attracted customers of wide variety being offered wares of wide variety. A women’s retailer, particularly a high-end one, doesn’t foot the bill.

    3. If you have concerns about the building, plaza design, etc., be sure to email with your comments by next Tuesday, November 7. Be sure to note that you’re commenting on the EDG for project #3028747.

  3. Never been there, but suspect that everyplace hugely wide and flat sprawls. And since in such places land prices are low, population explodes, along with their cars, because why not? When answer becomes “‘Cause we’re all stuck!” problem of next seven decades becomes how to de-sprawl anything. Any ideas?

    Broadway? Since dead is forever, give Broadway five years of work, advocacy, and increasing crowds and then try again. Tunnel is already there. Deliveries can possibly be rescheduled. Remember in, like 1985, at meeting in Everett, somebody told me North LINK was almost dead. Maybe because it wasn’t called that yet.

    Open-Threadening this because I’ve got to go. Since problem was invented, any ideas, or where I can find out, how many people have actually paid the whole $124 Tap of Death fine? Tired of the whole subject myself. Policy bad enough. But since officials are ready to fight for it…war is Hell.


      1. Sorry, Mike. Meant Australia. Though could also apply to Southern Sweden now. But main point now is that the hardest thing about dealing with sprawl” is how to cure it.

        No building lasts forever. And average sprawled area has very few houses and shopping malls with “bones”- castles, encased missile silos, etc.

        So one a answer might be that if people can live someplace better -organized, with work available and an easy trip, including walking, there won’t be any sad folk-songs about the ol’ cul de sac.

        Or maybe “2008, the Wishitreallywasamovie Strikes Back PartII” will leave empty subdivisions to the horizon like the first one did. Missed chance to demolish them can’t be regretted, though. Now that “2007 Part II is filling them up again. Can’t say nobody was warned.

        On LINK to the Airport, asked a construction engineer I’d been talking with about this. “Hub and Spoke. Think the Fully Reserved Elevated or Tunnel was understood.

        Keeping it unclassified that I think it’s possible to build attractive relatively compact communities with planned untouchable rural space between them. Built with main local transit being rail, light rail, or bus lines replacing cars as the default travel mode.

        Create a fictional old movie with ragtime piano for accompaniment, and characters running around like espresso epidemic, showing growth and reversal of streetcar suburbs. Maybe we can get the movie rights to insert Laurel and Hardy.

        Meantime: “Take me ‘ybrid pack back, Jack, take me ‘ybrid pack back….
        So we took the bloody pack back, Zack, an’ now ‘e’s gonna
        Never drive back! (all together now…!)”

        Should really be the Australian national anthem, but maybe we could exchange it to them for our own, which really commemorates a war where the Australians’ relatives back home burned down our capital, and our troops broke and ran near where the Banner was still waving.

        Would be a wolf-class howl watching school children reverently sing the last verse with their little hands over their hearts. Not sure how you “Take A Knee” in soccer or rugby, but knees, elbows, I don’t think there’s a code for the close facial contact in either game.


      2. Downtown Melbourne is flat, but beyond there there are plenty of hills (some of which have to be tunneled through. Downtown Melbourne is also a transit paradise (free tram through the main areas, trams and buses everywhere and the train all run to there) but everywhere else is not. Melburnians like their gardens, etc. And their cars. Their bike share died before ours started.

  4. I’m a bit annoyed that the new early morning Portland to Seattle train apparently lacks a bus connection to get further north. Best option looks like slogging uphill from Tukwila and getting one of the airport buses.

    1. If you’re going all the way from Portland to Vancouver BC, that’s far enough where it’s usually quite a bit faster to just fly.

    2. It would have been really nice for that train to continue north to Vancouver. And likewise with the late Vancouver departure. The only train that goes all the way has bad arrival and departure times in Vancouver.

  5. RE: Urbanist Best Architecture.

    How do we make the Battery Street Tunnel idea a reality? That would be so much better than the toxic infill WSDOT is planning to do. I’m sure if you put it out there for developers to react to there would be multiple offers for that property and concept.

    1. Too bad it can’t fit into our transit infrastructure. Existing grade separation in the heart of the city is such a rare, and beautiful find.

      1. I think it needs seismic upgrades. The city wants to fill it in b/c that will be much, much safer, and otherwise WSDOT would need to find somewhere to put all that viaduct ruble (i.e. $$$). And concrete ruble isn’t “toxic” – it’s literally a pile of rocks.

        “sometimes hypothetical projects can be used to examine ideas that are bigger that what we can allow ourselves to imagine in the world of politics and budgets.” – in other words, the idea is both politically and financially a non-starter.

      2. How about a bear sanctuary? Or a 24 hour re-enactment of a very original inhabitants’ typical community? Very likely these people had frightening legends about a giant black worm destroying the world.


      3. AJ is correct. The tunnel is the same seismic risk as the viaduct according to a SDOT person working at the milepost31 museum I stopped by last week.

  6. Has there been an update from OneBusAway on fixing their data after the data feed switched? I’m still seeing the vast majority of buses not show an expected arrival time. And sometimes when the bus does show an expected time, it jumps around a lot. A few days ago I was waiting for a 522 that went from “3 minutes late” to “2 minutes early” over the course of a minute. For the record, it did wind up arriving slightly early.

    1. Think they call it “Truth In Advertising”, Larry. Also, ‘fraid Instruction needs to tighten up practice in smooth approach and departure from a zone, so bus will jump around less. Trolleybuses always hard to smooth out- often feels like power is either all the way on, or off.

      Been 20 years, so don’t know if your coach still seems to hit a rock every time you suddenly take your foot off the brake. Also, when you power through a substation breaker, under which there’s dead wire. Wish Metro could get the one at the start of the steepest climb on Queen Anne Hill off the historic register.

      Minute-to-minute time-shifts shake the Richter needle a little, so best glue things to the shelf now. But by timing them carefully, as you note, you can ascertain exact time when the world cracks open and Ellensburg falls into the Atlantic.


    1. Seriously, Railway-Bike-Aerial Tramway-Dollar-Bill Icon, thanks for an excellent article. Good lessons for us:

      1. More than any other mode, transit’s fastest response to explosive demand for supply of scarce service. Though note specifics of this market. Narrow, steeply vertical, packed population is prime condition.

      2. Would bet that there’s been an very quiet proliferation of cableway plans in Seattle since present real estate market detonated. Some of these car-lines are inevitable everyplace with dynamic neighborhoods with only steep vertical corridors between them.

      Upper and lower Queen Anne. Upper Queen Anne to Expedia, and also doubtlessly expanding cruise ship terminals. Ten years’ population growth, and demanding population will coincide with improved structure between Capitol Hill Station and Seattle Center.

      But one should be on the boards right now, and wouldn’t bet against its presence: Harborview Hospital to Pioneer Square Station, landing in the park south of the Courthouse. Soil-wise, probably no chance for planned station at Swedish Hospital. But since conditions that necessitated the station still exist, that neighborhood is owed this exact project.

      With cars pretty much same size as Portland’s: buses on a hook. Aerial tramway was only operating public transit between the medical center and Planet Earth during a two-day blizzard a couple of years back.

      But Brazilian example critical attention to two civic conditions, one that really favors Seattle, and the opposite one that could very well destroy the United States as it did the Roman Empire. Unnoticed part of The Seattle Way is squeaky-clean government. Worldwide and throughout History, what doesn’t squeak squishes. And gets hard to flush.

      In most of the world, powerfully rising fury of youngprofessional class is slightly less at political repression than at universal corruption. Which really is mankind’s oldest form of government, ’till business and technical class gets strong enough to put it on a leash, for prosperity’s, and their country’s own survival. Google “Venezuela”.

      Bboth politically and physically, republics die when they become empires, whose inevitable corruption demolishes itself through sheer deferred maintenance. Rio cableways perfect example. Dams, bridges, and politics all part of same mudslide.

      “Emoluments Act” currently being discussed was written by Founding Fathers who really did see themselves as the restorers of the Greek and Roman republics, which they accurately believed putrefied themselves out of existence. Officially, the Roman Empire still called itself a Republic ’til it fell apart. “Emperor” meant simply “Chief Administrator.”

      Of all future transit in Seattle, these cable-ways are a dead certainty. Only question is when main condition arrives. Which is people shoving each other off cliffs as if they were subway platforms, but thankfully, only in their dreams.

      Again, thank you.


  7. Sorry, Larry, I mean off the power pedal. At the stop halfway up Jefferson to Harborview, however, if you’re not pushing really hard on the hill-holder (still a button on left console?)when you let off the foot-brake, well, technically more like a metallic crunch than a bump.

    Really recommend going to trolleys right out of training. Faster seniority gain, because not generally preferred work- which KCM could change by paying a trolley premium. Much harder work, much more to learn, and dealing with a ton more passengers than the diesel routes.

  8. I happened to catch a segment of the ESPN show Around The Horn during lunch today and sports commentator Kevin Blackistone from the DC area went off on all the dockless bikes he’s been seeing around the nation’s capital. (He had illustrations to back it up.) That reminded me of this piece I came across on geekwire a few weeks ago regarding Seattle’s growing dockless bike population.

    I myself have already seen several of said bicycles left carelessly in the public ROW. Perhaps some members of the biking community can chime in here on the matter. What is the city’s plan to deal with the “illegal placement” of these bikes, to use one of the company’s phrasing?

  9. I’m sad that Car2Go is replacing the Smart Cars with larger cars.I really enjoyed the smaller cars and found them practical for the city and easier to park.

    I hope this wasn’t because they felt challenged by ReachNow. I found Smart Cars and the Car2Go app to be way better. Now it’s just a wash between the two companies.

    1. I am also a little sad for this — the tiny cars2go were distinctive and easier to spot.

      car2go’s software is still so much better, though. I finally used ReachNow this weekend because they had a $50 driving credit promo, and their software had so many flubs: a prompt in the mobile app to update an expired driver’s license in your profile, but no way to do that in the mobile app’s profile view; a location that wouldn’t update until I’d closed the app and reopened it; a wonky “distance from vehicle” display; a text message that told me my trip hadn’t ended, when it in fact did.

      I called support twice for one trip. This is fine when few enough people use your service, but it doesn’t scale.

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