Frank and I are taping soon, so please leave your questions for us in the comments. As always, try to keep it to a single question, and we’ll do the best we can (given no prior preparation) to answer it.

We may tape as early as tonight, so don’t dawdle.

47 Replies to “Another Podcast Mailbag”

  1. Since you have put ME on notice one question or no answers, here goes……..

    Do you support Sound Transit putting out for bid basing its headquarters, a bid process that requires no special tax treatment that Microsoft, Boeing and Amazon don’t already get and a HQ within five minutes walking distance of a ST2 or Sound Move light rail station so a genuine cost benefit analysis of where the best place to place Sound Transit admin staff can be made?

    There was a bit of a Twittah argument about this last night @SupportST3 and I reached out to Sound Transit Boardmember Claudia Balducci to have Bellevue put in a competitive bid. Thanks in advance.

    1. Joe, since you’ve got a better “vibe” with ST Board members, maybe you can help Frank’s podcasts with advance research on existing trends that could be beneficial.


    2. ST should at least consider an auxiliary office in the Spring District and increasing the floors like the Times suggested. The best way to encourage density is to set a good example. And it would be practically door-to-door on Link. But ST shouldn’t be booted completely out of Union Station just because the Times editorial board doesn’t approve of Seattle or urbanism.

      1. Spring District is nearly as expensive real estate as downtown. I think Tukwilla makes more sense – can still be on Link, while being in a much lower cost neighborhood.

      2. I’d rather see Sound Transit get maximum value for dollars than anything. Money is time and time is money. More money spent on HQ, less money to build ST3 faster – and I think it’s pretty damn obvious the state legislatures of the next 10 years or even longer are not going to give Sound Transit any new taxing authority. Hell, they’ll probably cut back some of it to appease the screaming over car tabs.

  2. What’s the justification for the two ST3 stations in SLU (near Harrison, Dexter/Denny)? If we maintain “regional” stop spacing these two stations should probably be one station. That might save some money for everyone’s favorite add-on: a tunnel under water.

    1. It’s downtown stop spacing. Not as close as between Jackson and Pine, but closer than in the lower-density neighborhoods. I have always wondered whether Denny station is necessary, but it is a highrise district.

  3. Given ST’s budget overrun on Lynnwood, can you all talk about realistic ways in which ST could reduce costs? It seems like everyone wants lower costs in the abstract but higher costs in their own jurisdiction – nicer stations, more temporary parking, paying full price for land then later giving it away to nonprofits, etc etc. Is there any hope of structural change that would align everyone’s incentives in favor of keeping costs lower? Or will we always have this dynamic of cities extracting expensive concessions in exchange for permits?

  4. I know you’ve already discussed this, but where do you think the second tunnel will actually end up? If it were moved up first hill, what would the possibility be to move people between the two lines (i.e how would you actually travel from Ballard to the airport?)

    1. As envisioned, the existing line gets split at SoDo.

      Thus, to get from Ballard to UW and north you would transfer at Westlake, or to get from Ballard to anything in the existing tunnel.

      To get from Ballard to anything south of SoDo you stay on the train.

      To get from Ballard to West Seattle you could transfer at either Westlake or International District or maybe Stadium, depending on the ultimate route of the new lines.

      1. Unfortunately, the transfer at Westlake is going to require an average block and a half walk and two level changes.

  5. Would you recommend to Mayor Durken to keep Ron Kubly as head of SDOT? Why? If you want him replaced, who do you suggest she pick?

    1. Good Question. I’m not sure why so there is so much Scott Kubly hate is out there. It looks like he has an opportunity in Austin so we might not get a chance to keep him. I know some people hate him because he is taking away parking and doing road diets for bike lanes. But others are upset because Pronto failed, bike projects are delayed, Broadway streetcar extension is delayed/cancelled and he hasn’t painted 3rd avenue red yet. Not sure how I feel…

    2. Based on what I’ve heard through the grapevine, I would give approximately 0% chance of him coming back.

  6. When the DBT opens, will Metro or ST run any routes through it?
    It would make routes like Ballard SODO much more time competitive with SOVing, but is there much demand for routes that skip downtown?

    1. Metro’s 2040 plan has one route in the DBT: Express Fauntleroy-WSJ-SLU. That depends on West Seattle Link; its 2025 plan has nothing. Of course that could change with public pressure, and a willingness to not have a one-seat ride to central downtown.

  7. How to stop Transit funding being diverted to other Uses (Public housing). How to narrow the focus of ST and SDOT projects to solely Transit? Love the Podcast Guys

    1. Travis, what if whole equation also diverts Public Housing to where it diverts passenger loads away from freeways, streets, and arterials?


    2. Good question, especially as we have a $500 million hole in ST3 going to public education. It could have gone towards WSDOT “mobility grants”, which would have made the case for Sound Transit being allowed to apply & compete for again as about the only thing WSDOT does to fund transit in this state (unless you count the conventional auto+passenger ferries).

  8. With Housing values increasing at an exponential rate will ST collect more money in a shorter period and be able to start projects sooner?

    1. The short answer is no. The amount of tax that can be collected can only rise by 1% per year, independent from changes to the assessed value of the properties.
      “Property taxes in Washington State are limited by a number of laws that put caps on the amount homeowners can be taxed, and the amount those taxes can increase in a given year. Specifically, the total of general, non-voter approved taxes cannot be more than 1%, and the total tax levy in an area cannot increase by more than 1% in a year.”

  9. Upon completion of the second subway line in downtown Seattle, how will transfers work between the two lines at Westlake & International District stations?

    1. Steve, see what library at ST headquarters has on what-all’s vertically between Westlake Station and the BN Tunnel. Case in point: when the Mighty Mole (More than one situation where “Mighty” is better than “Big”) reached Century Square, we found out that Spring Street was not named for an old carriage suspension plant.


    2. That’s what ST needs to answer. Frank and Martin have no power over ST to make it happen, or to make them announce their plans sooner. But since ST has said it wants a preferred alternative in eighteen months, maybe that will answer it. But it may not get down to that level of detail in the station design. I really think it should. There should have been a conceptual plan by 2007 for the transfer at U-District station to the 45th line, or at least by 2014 when ST studied the latter, but we’re still waiting and it looks like it may be a disaster (e.g., underground-to-elevated transfer, or a 1-2 block walk with traffic lights, depend on what the second station ends up being).

  10. ST is in the midst of planning a post ST3 system.

    – What do you think are the three to five specific biggest rider challenges (line overcrowding, escalator overcrowding, platform overcrowding, transfer difficulty) that a rider in 2041 could face when the full system is opened as now envisioned? What refinements could be identified now to ease those challenges?

    1. Start by looking up 1993 predictions about what we’d be needing now. But also, concentrate on things that we’ll have to work with that won’t change without our help. Geology. Soils. Underground water. Major utilities. Chance of earthquakes.

      Also, going back ten more years, starting with tenth floor archives at the Downtown public library, plans and records from the Downtown Seattle Transit Project. Because this project is an excellent example of meeting special conditions. Also, some good info on equipment procurement.

      More experienced European countries that should have known better still ended up buying from Breda. With same results as ours, except on steel wheels.

      Best future-insurance is having a variety of plans, and flexible habit of mind to think up more as suddenly necessary.

      Mark Dublin

  11. When is Beacon Hill station going to get cell phone service? Last I heard it was Sept 2017 and that date has come and gone.

  12. Why is Sound Transit so slow in getting ridership reports published? Take their Q3 2017 Service Delivery Quarterly Performance Report as an example. It’s dated Nov 16, 2017 but didn’t appear online until after that date I believe. (It wasn’t all that favorable as the agency missed quite a few of their Q3 budget goals with regard to Link.)

    Thank you in advance. I look forward to listening to the podcast.

  13. Most critical transit problem for the United States in particular: How do we readjust a region billions of dollars’ worth of sprawled development to a pattern that can be served by line-haul transit? More technical details, the better. Starting with why absolutely nobody seems to be talking about that problem at all.

    Mark Dublin

  14. More years ago than anybody has to worry about, Maggie Fimia and I worked together on the first stages of what’s become LINK. Not sure how she ended up with the company she presently keeps.

    A group either unknowingly substituting ideology for knowledge or experience, or lobbyists for the forces that create the living patterns which are the worst limits to personal freedom-to-move that our country has ever seen.

    Which one, I don’t care. But considering my experience with LINK’s beginning, I really hate the suspicion they’ve made it impossible to discuss the use of buses to keep ST-3 passengers moving in case of any delay in the project.

    “CETA” has said nothing to either criticize or correct 27 years of DSTT operations that demanded both either and both. But definitely worth some effort now to get this particular obstacle out of the way. Comment?


  15. There will need to be at least a single track connection between the west Seattle track and the central link maintenance base. It is currently shown on page 5 of the representative alignment ( as an elaborate elevated wye feeding into the base at the northwest corner. This geometry seems inefficient and will not accommodate west Seattle-to-SeaTac movements. I’m wondering your thoughts on the potential future value of west-to-south routing through beacon tunnel?
    Also, in reviewing the representative alignment on the busway, it looks like buses will be displaced north of sodo station by the second double track and expanded stations. Is that your understanding? and if so, where will transfers to light rail from southern express buses likely occur?

  16. What is the best marginal use of the average person’s time to achieve better land use and transit outcomes for Seattle or the region?

    For example, a casual reader of STB, informed about land use, but not someone who’s attending political rallies or writing researched blog posts. Should I be writing letters to the council, talking to my neighbors, showing up for occasional council meetings/hearings?

    1. Too late for the podcast, but the best thing to do is show up to community meetings about potential development projects and upzones that are happening near where you live, and vocally support them.

  17. Why do the newer “smart” signals like the one on 23rd/Madison (which also has a queue jump and bus signal) stay green longer when a car comes up to a green light, but does not give a green cross signal when the beg button is pressed on a green light, even if you miss the green light by less than a second?

    This is one of my top two biggest pet peeves of walking in Seattle (or anywhere), and demonstrates that pedestrian access is still an afterthought.

    1. I know that feeling, having to lunge forward as the light changes to hit that button a split second before, rather than after the light turns green. Basically, the problem is that the traffic signals are governed by standardized software which only really cares about the throughput of cars, and considers the pedestrian objective satisfied as long as one can *eventually* get across the street without getting run over.

      The signals around Mercer in SLU, people quickly learn to just cross when the light is green, and ignore the red hand.

  18. STB regularly advocates for more growth/development near Link stations, as well as for bus routes to truncate at Link stations rather than continuing into Downtown. Given that Link trains will be increased to 4 cars, up from 2 or 3, but also that peak frequency on the current southern Link line is slated to be decreased by two trains per hour, AND that that line will carry riders from nine new stations, should we be concerned about maxing out our capacity?

    1. I think that would be a nice problem to have. If it comes to pass, there are relatively inexpensive things to do (signal improvements, buying new cars) that could boost capacity.

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