In bloom, Bellevue style

This is an open thread.

94 Replies to “News Roundup: Don’t Just Rebuild”

    1. Someone with first-hand experience, please fill us in on the details of water landings and take-offs. I don’t remember any accidents there. But how many more flights can South Lake Union safely accommodate?
      And how much boat traffic needs to be removed?

      Considering what percentage of the city’s population will ever be passengers….are the ordinary people affected getting anything out of these flights to make them worth the risk to Seattle itself? I’ve always liked watching the planes. Though never lived across the street from any.

      Also, any chance that Seattle can make tickets in range of the average person a condition of landing rights?


      1. I have a lot of first-hand experience sailing in Lake Union. There are already seaplanes there. The professional pilots aren’t a problem.

      2. I do know from experience that if one of those professional pilots thinks it is unsafe to land at Lake Union for any reason, usually on the hottest Summer days when the lake is packed with boats, they will divert to Kenmore and use their shuttle vans or pay for taxis to get the passengers back to Lake Union.

        As far as safety issues, there was an article somewhere a couple years ago — I think there had been something like a total of 3 incidents ever in the history of Kenmore Air. Don’t remember the details offhand, but the point was that problems with their equipment or landing were very rare.

    2. Wow… $750 r/t. I can get two roundtrips to NYC for that. I knew it would be a premium but that’s obviously something more for Christian Grey than the rest of us.

      1. Barman, lady friend of mine who is an undercover Federal prosecutor posing as the Mayor of Seattle says to be sure you read your contract before flight time.

        And get with her office before you buy your ticket. And also do the DA the favor of picking up a “wire” to wear to get them the warrant they need. They need to compare it with the script.

        Chris Hansen will also give you free tickets for life for helping to nail the perverted character- who is obviously patterned on him by a stadium-hater. Oh, and the Mayor says her boss Jeff Sessions also wants a contract.


    3. “I can get two roundtrips to NYC for that.”

      Not on a downtown seaplane.

      If this is enough capacity for all the executives who travel between Seattle and Vancouver, and there are probably only a few per day if that, then about that high-speed rail line….

    4. It’s not just safety, it’s also noise. It’s hard to have a good time at the Fremont market when seaplanes are roaring their engines overhead, one after another. I don’t see why everybody else should be compelled to listen to it, just so a few rich people can get to Canada a little bit more quickly.

      And, safety matters too. People kayak in Lake Union all the time, and don’t want landing planes crashing into them.

      1. There are already seaplanes operating in Lake Union. I don’t remember any seaplane-kayak collisions. Can you cite one?

        Living in a city means dealing with city noises.

      2. It’s hard to enjoy walking on Melrose Avenue or the trail just north of it when the freeway is roaring so loud you can’t talk.

      3. Frankly, they make less noise than the traffic from the I-5 Ship Canal Bridge.

      4. The difference is that I-5 noise on Melrose is just for one block. All the standard sound barriers to block out freeway noise doesn’t do anything for sounds coming from above. And, they are just as noisy passing over Fremont as I-5 from Melrose. You just don’t notice it because there aren’t that many planes.

        If it ever got to the point where a plane was taking off from Lake Union every couple of minutes, like SeaTac, you would most certainly notice.

      5. It is not one block, it’s from Pike Street all the way down to Roy. I lived in an apartment whose front faced Melrose and whose back faced the alley behind, and it was quite unpleasant having the window open or going out the front or back or walking on Melrose. If by “one block” you mean the row of buildings blocks it from Bellevue Ave, then yes, but it’s a much larger area than just one noisy block; it descends down to 9th & Pine, and up to Eastlake & Mercer, and I don’t know where else. That’s the size of Fremont, and it’s not just one or two planes a day but ubiquidous from around 7am to modnight; I don’t remember the exact time it gets “quiet”, I moved away from there, and didn’t pursue the place at Eastlake & Mercer although it’s a lovely prewar building.

        (But it was so loud you could barely use the door phone, never mind sit in the courtyard, yes it’s the Carolina Court. Whose builder probably never contemplated the possibility of a freeway, like Mr Tagomi in The Man in the High Castle. Although it did envision cars. One of its original ads touted it as having space to park your “automobile”, while still being close to “cars” (streetcars).

  1. Does anyone remember if ST2 had “SR 520 BRT”? I remember seeing something like that in diagrams, but it seems to be difficult to confirm.

    1. There were increases in 520 service because of the construction of the new bridge and 405 tolling, but I don’t recall anything in ST2, nor anything ST called “BRT” before 405 BRT and 522 BRT.

      1. The actual text is more specific:
        “It also includes new routes in the SR 520 corridor to further develop bus rapid transit (BRT) connecting Redmond, Bellevue, the University of Washington and Downtown Seattle, taking advantage of transit speed and reliability improvements programmed as part of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Project.”

        So that would include all the 520 improvements, include new HOV lane and the eventual Montlake lid. But yeah, seems like BRT here ended up just meaning additional ST Express service hours. ST3 “BRT” should be quite different.

      2. I think BRT then just meant every 10-15 minutes. The result of the previous bump in hours is more peak service but evenings and weekends as bad as ever. If ST still has some unspent money for cross-bridge service, maybe it can address that.

      3. Yeah… The thought came to mind when I was waiting on a bus for 20 minutes to exit 520 onto Montlake, which has clearly gotten zero thought in transit speed and reliability improvements, even though we will likely route ALL 520 service through it. I guess the term “BRT” here is similar to RapidRide (which at least has off-board payment in some places…).

        This is such a disappointment, because if a busway connecting 520 to UW station was built, it would have made 520 truncation much more feasible, and would probably save .25-.5 service hours per trip.

        Not to mention that the use of “BRT” here seems deceptive. BRT doesn’t mean “every 10-15 minutes,” because then route 7 is BRT. If 520 to UW had “BRT” by any reasonable standard, link truncations at UW would be relatively non-controversial.

      4. AlexKven, Isn’t using the term BRT for a beefed up expressway bus itself deceptive?

      5. I think what ST intended to mean was that there would be frequent service across 520. It remains to be seen how complete they make it.

        The whole west side will change when the western approach to 520 is rebuilt.

      6. I thought BRT meant just paint the buses red := Seriously, as a minimum it should include off board payment. This doesn’t seem like it would be that hard/expensive to add and sure could speed things up on some of the packed commuter routes.

      7. There were some real improvements to transit on the 520 corridor, beyond just more buses. The HOV lane through Medina was moved from the outside lane to the inside lane, so buses don’t get stuck in traffic from cars entering and exiting the freeway. The waiting conditions at the Yarrow Point and Evergreen Point bus stops were dramatically improved. And the HOV lane was also extended across the 520 bridge, and an additional HOV lane was added in the eastbound direction – before, it was westbound only.

        As to today, nothing’s been done to improve the Montlake interchange for buses – it’s planned, but it won’t open for several years, and is going to involve considerable pain during construction, when lanes are closed, and the HOV pathway across the bridge is temporarily lost. But, whether buses truncate or don’t truncate in the U-district, this is something they’re going to have to deal with anyway.

      8. The waiting conditions at the Yarrow Point and Evergreen Point bus stops were dramatically improved.

        Yes, for the dozens of people that use them. What was the cost of these stations and the increase in operational costs now that they have elevators? How much did each of the 48 stalls at Evergreen Point cost? As far as I can tell the main use of these stations is to transfer to a different cross lake bus which should have been accomplished with a serious station at Montlake. But original plans were to nix this stop entirely. Epic Fail!

      9. Another thought is creating bus only connections from 520/I-5 to/from Eastlake and running a lot of this 520 service on the Roosevelt BRT route (if they actually went with real bus lanes)… Send some 520 buses South thru Eastlake and SLU to Downtown or send them north from Eastlake to University District and potentially points north.

    1. It’s interesting that the stops are in Mt Baker and Capitol Hill rather than downtown.

      1. My guess is that’s because parking/loading is easy at both locations, especially if they use the Denny entrance at Capitol Hill. Both stations are also close to freeway access without being in the core, Mt Baker from the I-90/Rainier ramps, and Capitol Hill from I-5/Olive (nb) and Howell/Yale (sb).

      2. I assume it’s because people live in the neighborhoods and don’t go downtown as much on weekends, Capitol Hill is a proxy for the UW Station parking lot for north Seattle (which otherwise doesn’t have any trail service), and traffic getting in and out of downtown can chew up bus hours even on weekends.

        In any case, it shows how Link can function as a very long DSTT, and potentially any station can be an endpoint for services like this.

      3. I’m curious why they would run shuttles every half hour from two different stations rather than one every 15 minutes from one station. Capitol Hill to Mt Baker takes just 18 minutes. A chunk of the 18 minutes will be wasted by the shuttle getting onto I-5, being stuck in traffic on I-5, and then being stuck in traffic on the western-most mile of I-90. Mt. Baker Station is the best station outside of downtown for having this sort of service to Greater Issaquah.

        Or put more frequency into ST Express 554, and run Trailhead Direct at high frequency from Issaquah.

        Or re-route 554 on weekends to serve Mt. Baker Station.

        But roll the express trip to Issaquah into one service, with maximum frequency.

      4. The two shuttles go to different trailheads, so they can’t combine for more frequent service. Having said that, it does seem odd to start from CHS rather than Mt. Baker.

      5. Does it really matter when the load factor is something like 2? Maybe this could be combined with KC’s wish for a mobile “safe” injection site. Transit $$$ are siphoned off for everything else.

      6. “The two shuttles go to different trailheads, so they can’t combine for more frequent service.”

        While the routes are intended as a trailhead shuttles, there is nothing to stop people from using the Eastgate Freeway station to go between Eastgate and Seattle. If done right (e.g. if the routes shared the same Seattle terminus), they could combine for frequent service in this corridor, which comprises the majority of the 554’s ridership. Such a move would be a major upgrade for people that aren’t hiking, and the ridership it would generate may making the different for people who do hike, in getting the trailhead bus enough justification for its funding to survive the next recession.

    2. I was just looking at the trailhead press release and website for the service… I suspect it will be very well used. It looks like really good service that will be of interest to a wide range of people even with cars and especially groups of friends, people meeting for brunch on CH then taking this for a hike. People will notice the buses waiting especially outside CHS and be curious and it will also spread via word of mouth. I was planning to check this service out this year and expecting a 554 to Issaquah then transferring to this, I’d probably do that once this year. With direct service from capitol hill I will probably use it twice a month.

      1. Buses or vans? Why is this going to be more “popular” than last year?

        According to King County’s Parks project manager, Lizzy Jessup, about 900 hikers used the service last summer, just around 40 riders per day.

        2 vans, 30 min headway for 11 hours is ~40/24 = 1.6 people per trip. What’s the carbon footprint for this service? Is it the best and highest use of transit dollars or an example of, “If we don’t spend all the money we can’t justify the need to increase the budget next year.

      2. It comes under coverage service or diversity of activities. If there’s no transit to the trailheads, then only people with cars can go hiking. It’s like how RossB keeps saying that a train to the airport has less ridership intensity than a train in inner-city Seattle., and each person uses it only once or twice a year. But it serves a lot of different people and it connects our long-distance and short-distance transit. Otherwise you arrive on a plane and you have to take a taxi or airport shuttle. What does that tell visitors? “You might as well get back on another plane outta here; we don’t take tansit seriously here.” Switzerland has mass transit both throughout the cities and towns and to the airports and ski resorts. In China I’m told that you can go around the entire country on transit or local footpaths; no car ever required. That’s what we should be aiming for.

        With a limited budget, obviously we have to economize and make tradeoffs. But I don’t know what’s funding this; I would be surprised if it’s coming purely out of base transit funding. The article says “a joint effort of King County Metro and the King County Parks Department’. I think another article mentioned Issaquah businesses; they may be contributing to it. If it’s like how the Snoqualmie Valley Transportation works, Metro just provides the van and launch money; a nonprofit operates it at a lower cost than regular bus routes. I don’t know if it’s that kind of arrangement or not but it could be, and Metro has said it intends to expand these ‘alternative service” models in low-ridership corridors.

        And as a pilot program, it’s certainly useful to see how many people do use it. They got the number from it starting in Issaquah the first year. Now they’ll get the number from it starting in Seattle the second year. A lot of hikers live in Seattle, perhaps the majority, and more live north and south of it. It’s similar to how Microsoft is in Redmond but a lot of workers live around Capitol Hill and fill up a couple dozen 545s each morning. Maybe a trail bus from Seattle would do that; pick up people who would marginally go but an Issaquah transfer makes the difference. And some people are carrying big backpacks. Also stopping at a Link station may bring people from all over Link and beyond. Once East Link opens, then maybe the shuttle can be truncated. And when Issaquah Link opens, that’s all she wrote.

      3. If there’s no transit to the trailheads, then only people with cars can go hiking.

        Patently false for so many reasons. If it failed last year let’s do it again and expect a different result; insanity. Very few people go hiking alone. It’s dangerous and less fun. So even the most meager carpool (2) has a higher ridership than this program.

        If Metro needed to do this, which is doesn’t and shouldn’t, it could give (more) money to operations like Hopelink. But if they insist on running it and actually want to do something about trailhead parking, which is a growing problem, the obvious solution is to provide shuttle service that actually is attractive to the people already using cars. Otherwise those cars in ever increasing numbers are going to continue circling like vultures looking for a spot near the tailhead.

      4. Last year’s service was difficult to use because the connection in Issaquah was poorly timed, not to mention the detour to Highlands P&R. This year’s service should be much more attractive simply by going directly to Seattle.

        Another big difference is that this year’s service has a route to Mt. Si. Last year’s service didn’t really go to any trails you couldn’t already get to with the 554 plus a bit of walking (entering at a different trailhead, but same ultimate destination).

        The mailbox shuttle, however, I think is going to be a disappointment. It doesn’t connect with any other shuttles, so you still need a car to get to bus, in which case, you may as well just drive to the trailhead.

      5. “Very few people go hiking alone. It’s dangerous and less fun. So even the most meager carpool (2) has a higher ridership than this program.”

        A carpool or Uber is still a car. It’s more efficient for one bus to travel than five cars. If the bus ridership is really only one or two people per trip then we need to look at modifying the program or trying again later. But you also have to let it run for three or five years to build up its potential ridership. People hear about it one by one and decide to use it one by one, and it takes time for a route to reach its peak. That inefficiency at the beginning is a necessary overhead, and looks better when you take the average later.

      6. A carpool or Uber is still a car. It’s more efficient for one bus to travel than five cars

        Another false assumption. A bus is doing at best 5 mpg. An average car will do 20+ and a Prius twice that. A private car is traveling a direct route home to trail. An Uber is connecting trips according to real time demand. The bus service is going to need some 400% increase in ridership before it’s even remotely as “green”. A popular service, like say U Link, has a booming initial opening surge. Then it ramps up predictably. The trailhead bus idea was a flop. The real issue is over crowding (i.e. parking) at the trailhead. The solution is obvious; tried and true. Just like sporting events you create shuttles from the most convenient off site parking. The closer to the destination the more frequent you can run the service which is key to getting people to use it. The other alternative is to create hiking groups like the Mountaineers do. The advantage of this is the resources can be targeted to specific groups like inner city youth. The third possibility… double down on failure and throw more money at it.

      7. “The real issue is over crowding (i.e. parking) at the trailhead.”

        The issue for you is overcrowded parking at the trailhead. The issue for me is getting to trails without a car.

        “Are Metro’s buses still getting only 5 mpg?”

        This isn’t a 2 going up Seneca Street stopping for a minute at each top and each traffic light and waiting for the cars to clear so it can turn. It’s an express making two stops at Eastgate an Issaquah and then at the trailheads.

      8. I don’t think any shuttle service is going to be attractive enough to people using cars to get decent ridership.

        The problem is, until the trailhead parking lot completely fills, there is absolutely no reason for drivers coming in a car to ride the shuttle. So, the shuttle is only useful *after* the trailhead parking lot is already full, and when this happens veries greatly from day to day, depending on the weather. But, the shuttle has to run a predictable schedule, so lots of trips are going to be empty or near empty. Even the fact that the satellite parking lot doesn’t require a Discover Pass isn’t much of an incentive. People who hike frequently have annual Discover Passes, so the marginal cost of trailhead parking on any given day is zero. People who don’t, the bus fare for just two people, round trip (assuming neither has a bus pass) already costs about as much as a single-day Discover Pass to park at the trailhead ($2.75 * 4 vs. $12 = negligible difference).

        That leaves people who don’t have cars and want to get out. Last year’s service did a bad job going after these people because the connections in Issaquah added too much time, as did the detour through the Highlands P&R on the way – on top of that, the weekend morning schedule has the 554 running once an hour, while the trailhead direct direct was running every half hour, so half the trailhead direct trips didn’t even have a route 554 trip to connect with.

        I don’t think last year’s service really gave the bus-to-trailhead option the test it needs to prove its viability. This year’s service will. And there is precedent for a hiking shuttle being popular – Portland has a weekend shuttle connecting the Columbia River Gorge to the MAX, and I’ve read that they’ve actually had to add trips because full buses were turning people away.

        With regard to your other comment about hiking groups carpooling to trailheads – yes, it is a very useful way to get there, I am a member of multiple such groups. I can also say that the number of people showing up to the meeting spots for such group hikes without cars has increased dramatically over the past couple of years. This is true even for P&R’s outside of Seattle (even if the bus doesn’t run early enough on the weekend, Uber does). If a group is hiking Mt. Si, it will actually be quicker and easier for many people to ride the bus to the trailhead than it would be to ride the bus to the carpooling point.

        The Trailhead Direct service will be especially attractive for people that want to sleep in, but feel compelled to wake up at the crack of dawn to hike Mt. Si, just to get there before the parking lot fills up.

        My prediction is, of the three routes, Mt. Si will be well-used, Mailbox, very little use, and Issaquah Alps, somewhere in between. My reason for predicting low ridership on Mailbox, is because it’s a half-mile shuttle that doesn’t connect with anything, and if you need a car to get to the shuttle, you may as well just drive on to the trailhead.

      9. Rattle Snake Lake is parked out any weekend that the weather isn’t atrocious. Snoqualmie Falls (yeah, not much of a hike) is also a parking nightmare. I agree that Mt Si has the best potential of the bunch. But outside of maybe a 2 hr window in the AM and PM I’m betting it’s still a bust.

        Who wants to hike the same place week after week? The few who bus hiking appeals to might actually use it regularly if there was an established schedule of hikes to different locations for the summer. That’s something that would be a “no brainer” if this funding were turned over to groups that actually promoted hiking.

        Virtually everyone that hikes has access to a car. If they don’t own one they know multiple people who do and hiking is a group adventure. So is apres hiking which, hopefully with a designated driver, means car. Of course it doesn’t really matter. The service will run as long as Metro is rolling in dough.

      10. I totally get that people want to go to different places on different days and almost nobody is going to ride the trailhead direct every single weekend. But, there’s still enough people that might try it once a month for things to add up. As I said, the Columbia River Gorge shuttle has achieved critical mass to justify its existence. Seattle->Mt Si. seems similar.

        That said, I’m actually thinking if Trailhead Direct is done right, whatever ridership comes from hiking would be supplemented by general transportation along I-90 (e.g. people who live in Issaquah or North Bend visiting Seattle). Each piece, individually, might not be enough to sustain the route, but the two together just might. It also works logistically well, since the hikers going east in the morning, west in the afternoon, would be supplemented by general commuters going west in the morning, east in the afternoon.

        Already, the Issaquah Alps Trailhead Direct bus and the 554 combine to a total of four buses per hour connecting Issaquah Transit Center, Eastgate Freeway Station, and somewhere in Seattle. If the Trailhead Direct bus loaded at downtown instead of Mt. Baker, the vast majority of people who ride the 554 would suddenly have the option of choosing either the 554, or the trailhead direct bus, whichever comes first. This includes people whose purpose of travel has nothing to do with hiking, for example, a resident of Issaquah going to a Mariners game, or checking out the Folklife Festival. If the schedules were intentionally staggered so that the two routes, combined, provided 15-minute service along the I-90 corridor, now, what was a special-purpose hiking shuttle is now providing a big improvement in quality of service for many other trip purposes as well.

        Now, take the Mt. Si route. It already has a planned stop in North Bend, and for someone who lives in North Bend and wants to visit Seattle, the Trailhead Direct bus is going to be vastly more convenient in terms of speed, reliability, and frequency, compared to any service North Bend has today. It will also be the only bus service North Bend on Sundays. And, Eastgate Freeway Station->Seattle will get additional passengers, all of which don’t even include the people actually hiking up Mt. Si. Knowing Metro, they probably aren’t making any effort to market Trailhead Direct to people who live in North Bend as a way to get to Seattle, not even signs at the existing route 208 bus stops, advertising the service. But, if they want to maximize ridership, and carry people *both* directions, morning and afternoon, this is absolutely what they should be doing. As an added bonus, if Trailhead Direct goes to North Bend on Saturday-Sunday, maybe the 208 can be cut back to Monday-Friday only. It won’t cover the full cost of Trailhead Direct, but it would at least cover some of it.

        Jarrett Walker has written several posts on the Human Transit blog, describing why single-purpose transit routes tend to produce weak ridership, in general, and how, the more origin->destination trip pairs a route can serve, the stronger the route is going to be. I think the idea is most certainly relevant here.

  2. The Columbia Gorge Express bus service is back again this year too. The decision has been made to extend it to Cascade Locks and Hood River. Amtrak and Greyhound stopped serving Cascade Locks some years back.

  3. The new Arboretum trail isn’t a “great bike thoroughfare”. Its makers intentionally designed it to not be one, from its speed limit to its lack of nighttime lighting or reflective features to its almost impossibly bad connections to the street network. It remains the case that only two groups of people, practically, have the privilege of using the Arboretum as a transportation route: drivers speeding to and from 520, and cyclists comfortable riding in mixed traffic with those drivers. Even folks that deal with the awkward connectivity of the south end of the new “loop” trail come up hard against the uselessness of the north end, which either dumps you into mixed traffic across a freeway ramp on a street without even a sidewalk, or to a dark bridge too narrow to ride across.

    They intentionally designed it this way because they listened too much to vocal bike haters. The result is that they’ve accomplished as close to nothing for their money as they possibly could (to be fair, the new path is not entirely redundant with Arboretum Drive, only mostly so). We should not forget this next time bike haters want to influence a project.

    1. The purpose of the trail is to stroll through the Arboretum. Bikes have Lake Washington Boulevard, 23rd Ave, and 19th Ave.

      1. Lake Washington Boulevard, as mentioned, is full of speeding cars going to and from 520; if you try to ride it at normal street-clothes speeds you’re going to face lots of driver anger when the road turns uphill (have done, would not recommend). 23rd Ave and 19th Ave are in totally different corridors and useful (to whatever degree they’re actually useful) for mostly different purposes. The actual alternative to riding through the Arboretum is the Lake Washington Loop route, which is significantly hillier and doesn’t really provide access to the Arboretum, which is part of the complaint here: riding to the Arboretum (perhaps with the intention of locking up and strolling around) is still stupidly difficult (for everyone except the roadies, who probably aren’t stopping).

        There were already lots of good trails for strolling through the Arboretum. This one, for all its expense, achieved astonishingly little — completing sidewalks and calming traffic on Lake Washington Boulevard would do more to connect the park for pedestrians than building this trail did!

        But even if you don’t think there’s any legitimate need for a bike through-route in the Arboretum… despite the existence of a longstanding car through-route that’s open and lit 24 hours a day, cuts the park in half, and doesn’t even have sidewalks for much of its length… I was responding to the news-roundup comment that it is a great bike thoroughfare. Which it, rather deliberately, is not.

      2. For what trips is the west half of the arboretum trail the closest? The residents and destinations on the west side are practically zero, unless you think a lot of people are going to Madison Park. Cars go through there because that’s where the 520 entrance is. If people are biking from the Eastside, can’t they use 24th just as easily? I have not seen cars go fast through the Arboretum, but maybe that’s just me.

      3. Discover the protected bike lane. It has the added benefit of narrowing automobile road width, and reducing speed down to a safe level.

      4. @Mike: I have no idea what you’re talking about with “the west half of the arboretum trail”.

        The Lake Washington Loop route, coming up towards UW from the shore of Lake Washington south of the canal, is a popular bike route, whether one cares to enumerate the destinations or not. Ride it on a weekday morning and you’ll see lots of people riding towards UW. Many people follow the side-street route between the Arboretum and 24th; others ride through the Arboretum. A path with the easier grade of the Arboretum route but where you don’t have to mix with traffic is the sort of thing we would certainly build if we cared about having a complete bike network for non-roadies in this city!

        The various greenway routes running parallel to the 23rd/24th arterial, established in response to paving projects on that arterial that did not provide bike access directly on it, are not popular bike routes because they have crazy grade characteristics and lack connectivity at one or both ends. The 23rd/24th arterial itself has connectivity but also heavy traffic; hardly anyone wants to bike there.

        Yes, of course a major reason people drive through the Arboretum is to access 520; the road is also used as a route to the Montlake Bridge. The road they drive through the Arboretum is a major barrier to free pedestrian mobility within the park because it’s difficult to cross and lacks sidewalks along much if its length, including across the mouth of the 520 ramp at the north edge of the park. It’s also the only pathway through the park with nighttime lighting. Again, for emphasis: cars have been granted the great privilege of 24-hour through-travel of the Arboretum, on a route that excludes walking and effectively excludes most people that might like to bike through, and that slices the park in half north-to-south. If we’re going to allow anti-bike hysterics to win the day and prevent a decent bike and pedestrian transportation route through the Arboretum then we should obviously kick the cars out, too. That would do more for the experience of strolling the park than all the hampers they’ve put on cycling.

      5. Agreed, every improvement doesn’t have to be for the benefit of bikers, which is a relatively small group of users. This is a park, first and foremost. They can still use this trail. Bikers can also the paved road through the arboretum that is closed to cars, that passes the interpretive center, then go left and it’s a short bike to the Montlake Bridge. I often hear that Seattle’s hills don’t prevent people (of which I am dubious) but if so then that road should be perfectly acceptable (and it’s wider).

      6. I was thinking the same thing. Simply banning cars from Lake Washington Blvd. would have been much better for the enjoyment of all park users.

        Maybe someday, in the distant future, it will become a political possibility.

      7. I’m talking about the just-completed trail which is having its opening hoopala this Sunday. Are you taking about this trail or another one?

        Again, who needs bicycle through-travel through the Arboretum? The issue is not whether cars have a road so bikes should have one too, but hoe many bike trips an Arboretum route is best for. Cars use the road because it’s the only way to the freeway entrance, but bikes aren’t going to the freeway entrance and would rather be somewhere away from it.

      8. >> Yes, of course a major reason people drive through the Arboretum is to access 520;

        Isn’t that going away? My understanding is that the ramp is ending.

        Once that happens, it makes more sense than ever to slow down Lake Washington Boulevard. Speed bumps and stop signs would make sense. I could even see blocking off the north end of it (to cars) between Boyer and Calhoun. If you are coming from Madison Park and want to get to the Montlake Bridge or 520, you take Boyer. If you are trying to get to the arboretum parking lot, you can still get there. The only people who have a worse drive are those that are trying to get to the arboretum from Madison Park, and it really isn’t that bad (they go via 23rd, then cut over). The only destination is the arboretum (or maybe the golf course — I don’t know if a golfer can drive through Broadmoor). That is a very small number of people that would be inconvenienced, while eliminating a lot of people who are trying to cheat, and pass the folks stuck on 23rd.

        That at least would give you (or should I say, us) the top half of the boulevard. At a minimum, I would then add a few stop signs (at the Japanese Garden driveway, Interlaken and Boyer). The point being that even the southern end is primarily for local access, unless you are trying to go from Madison Park to the Mountlake Bridge (and even then you could just take a right on John if you don’t like stop signs).

      9. I heard the entrance is going away, and somebody asked me if it was already gone. Maybe it will be feasible to turn Lake Washington Boulevard into a complete street then. It’s shocking that a road through a park would be so narrow without sidewalks, but then the original parkways were intended for driving recreation and nothing else. I can’t see Durkan or the council opposing it when its utility as a car thoroughfare is gone.

      10. Arboretum Drive never made sense as a bike route because it has always been such an extremely slow-moving, quiet street on the deep interior of the Arboretum. I slow down when I jog through there just naturally due to the feel of the space, it would be totally inappropriate to run fast. Plus it’s hilly and indirect, fine features for a photo-snapping stroll, bad for a through-route. And it doesn’t get you across the freeway ramp. A flatter bike path in a more active and louder part of the park is a very different thing.

        The 520 ramp that’s immediately in the park is going away eventually, and the original plan was to not replace it with anything, which would have significantly reduced car traffic through the Arboretum. Then when we all weren’t looking the plan was modified and they added direct access to Lake Washington Boulevard north of the Arboretum, which drivers heading to places like Madrona will use to bypass congestion on 23rd/24th by driving right through the Arboretum. That congestion bypass through the Arboretum is literally the only reason that 520 access was added back in.

        So you can say the Arboretum isn’t for through-traffic until you’re blue in the face, but the fact is that it is for through-traffic according to its infrastructure and our plans for the forseeable future. The Arboretum lies along the best grade corridor between a popular bike route (Lake Washington Boulevard to the south) and the Montlake Bridge. Damn straight if it’s a through-route for cars it should be a through-route for everyone. That’s what “complete streets” means — it means the bike, pedestrian, and transit network is at least as complete as the car network. It doesn’t mean the main bike route goes around while bike access to the park is neglected, while pedestrian access at the north end is hard to find, while buses all get stuck in traffic on Montlake Boulevard, and the whole time private cars get a bypass on the one road that has street lighting. Do I really have to say that on a damn transit blog?

      11. What do you mean by Arboretum Drive? Is that different from Lake Washington Boulevard?

      12. I thought the loop was a new non-autpmobile trail going around Azalea Way which runs through the middle. “Drive” sounds like a car road.

      13. Arborteum Drive runs through the back of the arboretum. It’s a paved, full-width road, and used to be open to car traffic several years ago. It still technically is, but only for the handicapped. Effectively, the road’s primary use is as a wide walk/bike trail.

        The arboretum loop is totally different. It’s narrower and built specifically for bikes (cars can’t fit). It runs much closer to Lake Washington Blvd. Al is right about the connection at the north end – it has an annoying detour to the visitor center that makes it difficult to use for thru bike traffic.

        It would have been so much better to just convert Lake Washington Blvd., itself, into the bike trail, rather than building a whole new trail, and route the cars over the Montlake. Then, the whole arboretum would be much quieter (the topography acts as a sound chamber that amplifies the traffic noise), and, suddenly, you can easily walk between the the two halves of the arboretum without getting run over.

        I don’t know what whoever originally decided that building a car sewer in the middle a park was a good idea was thinking.

      14. It probably was a car road at one time (and occasionally is one for certain events). It still has street signs marking it as Arboretum Drive. The new trail is called something like the “Arboretum Loop Trail”, apparently because it, in conjunction with Arboretum Drive, makes a loop.

        But if we’d built it properly there would be no question of naming it something silly like that. It would clearly be a north-south trail with some adequate access to the street network to the north, complementing the north-south car-carrying Lake Washington Boulevard. Giving cyclists and pedestrians, whether going through, stopping in, or doing a loopy stroll from the parking lot, the same privilege drivers have had for decades.

      15. The 520 ramp that’s immediately in the park is going away eventually, and the original plan was to not replace it with anything, which would have significantly reduced car traffic through the Arboretum. Then when we all weren’t looking the plan was modified and they added direct access to Lake Washington Boulevard north of the Arboretum,…

        OK, I see what you are saying. Yes, that is terrible. They have added a new off ramp for 520 that crosses 24th and ends at Lake Washington Boulevard. But I find the documents so confusing — and so vague — that it isn’t clear to me whether that is the final plan. Even if it is, there is nothing stopping Seattle from doing what I suggested above. Block off Lake Washington Boulevard to cars between Boyer and Calhoun (or to be more precise, Boyer and Foster Island Road). It makes the design of the off-ramp weird (why doesn’t it just connect to 23rd?) but that isn’t the first, or most confusing ramp we have in this city.

        It really doesn’t matter if the road was designed as a through road, or whether people use it as a bypass. Once the ramps are eliminated, it shouldn’t be. It is that simple. Whether the city actually does that or not is a different question.

        A lot depends on how people actually react to the trails. Right now it seems like the city is confused. On the one hand, there is the implication that bikers will use this new path as a means to get from one place to another (just as they use the Burke Gilman). On the other hand, it is clear that it doesn’t work that well for that. Not only based on your (more detailed) assessment, but just by looking at the maps. Even WSDOT’s maps on the subject show the loop as basically a loop, with no obvious connections to other planned infrastructure (such as the new pedestrian/bike bridge crossing 520). In other words, there is no map (that I know of) that shows a clear path for bikes from the south end of the arboretum to the Montlake Bridge.

        This is an obvious failing that can (and will hopefully) be addressed in the future, without spending a bunch more money. As I suggested, it probably won’t include the entire section. The southern end (between Madison and Boyer) will likely always be used by cars (it is the only way to drive to the Japanese Gardens, if nothing else). But there is no reason not to turn the north end into a bike and pedestrian path and slow the south end considerably.

      16. When I’ve gone from the UW to the Arboretum, I’ve usually just taken the Foster Point and Arboretum Waterfront trail. It’s annoying because of how loud 520 is but at least it isn’t directly next to the traffic. Granted, I’ve done this on foot but when doing so I’ve seen people walking their bikes on parts of the boardwalk so apparently I’m not the only one that thinks this is preferable.

    2. *shrug* The trail has improved my biking life, when I go to the Madison valley. I do agree the old bridge towards the north end is ridiculously tiny, but it’s probably too historic to ever change.

      1. You know what feels really historic and old-fashioned these days? The idea that we should build good and useful things for the public benefit. I’d rather see historic restoration of that great idea than all this rote historic preservation of dumb old crap that doesn’t work.

    3. The new trail was built 8′ wide with poor sight lines and 10 mph speed limit to slow down speedy bikes. This design will create conflicts between bikes and peds. If the trail speed limit is 10mph the speed limit on Lake Wa blvd needs to be reduced to 15mph so that bike riders who want to go faster than 10mph have somewhere to ride.

      I ride on the narrow Lynn st sewer bridge to access the trail, usually I’m the only person on the bridge. At the south end I like to cross Lk Wa blvd at the Washington Park athletic field, ride around the outside of the play field and there is a short but steep trail up to 29th ave.

      The UW to Madison bike route has always been a popular path but there are 3-4 different ways to do it , each come with their own problems.

      Driving a car through the Arboretum is not the only way to get to 520. What would really make the park more enjoyable is slowing down, reducing or eliminating vehicles,, noteping bikes to 10mph speed limit

  4. Did I see right that somebody’s thinking of northbound only bus lanes on Rainier Avenue? Easy decision for King County Metro Transit itself to present to the City and the public:

    Either turn those parking lanes into bus-only lanes, or save taxpayers’ money and leave Rainier, especially through Columbia City exactly as it is. Signal pre-empt for buses.

    Take it or leave it. Every living vertebrate able to sit needs both sides of its posterior.

    Mark Dublin

    1. The Rainier Avenue re-channelization project seems to be going ahead without some important data being discussed. We need to be looking at accident rates on all the major arterials in Rainier Valley and Beacon Hill, not just on Rainier Avenue. A lot of auto traffic has been diverted from Rainier Avenue/Columbia City but the result is more traffic and congestion on Seward Park Avenue South, MLK and on Beacon Avenue. The information that’s missing is the change in accident rates on those streets where the traffic levels have risen. It’s great that there are fewer accidents on Rainier Avenue. But if there are more accidents happening on Beacon, MLK and SPAS, then overall traffic safety may not be improving in Rainier Valley.

      The chart in the Rainier Avenue re-channelization link shows that the traffic lights in Columbia City (other than Alaska Street–rated E) are rated at LOS C, A, A, and A which would seem to indicate that traffic is flowing smoothly through Columbia City. The problem is that pedestrians wanting to cross Rainier Avenue are being required to wait up to 120 seconds at some of those intersections. A wait time that long isn’t conducive to creating a walkable, pedestrian-oriented neighborhood.

      1. I have to add that the decrease in traffic on Rainier is greater than the decrease in accidents. On a per vehicle basis, Rainier is mow more dangerous.

        I’d also agree that the long wait for a pedestrian walk sign at signals is longer at many places now.

        As long as buses are mixing with traffic at the recently created bottlenecks between Hillman City and Columbia City, giving lanes to buses in other places help bus speeds much.

        Finally, SDOT has such an inadequate signal malfunction réponse system that there are several places on Rainier that always have left-turn phases triggered for many weeks now when there are no vehicles turning left. Everyone is left waiting for these non-existent left-turning vehicles because of it.

  5. BRT service on fast part of Pierce Transit’s heavily-used Route 1, excellent. Always thought straight route and passenger loads justified trolley-wire, but all’s not lost.

    Theater District is natural place to divide the Pacific service from the 6th Avenue section. Where extremely steep hill to Wright Park- crossing the MLK streetcar line, plus the ridership- deserves to be electrified.


  6. Since I can’t vote for him ’til I can find a bridge in Seattle to put up my tarp under, could somebody who lives in Seattle please call Rob Johnson’s office and see if he can’t help keep the 550 and the 41 in the DSTT?

    Doubt the Convention Center people would stand a chance if they go up against his three blonde lobbyists shown here:

    And when they’re paired with this team:………
    New expansion’s opening ceremony will feature the debut of the new DSTT station that will have replaced the parking in its basement.


    1. Buses are vacating the tunnel in 2019 with or without without the Convention Center because ST will install an East Link maintenance turn track at Intl Dist that will somehow preclude buses in the tunnel.

      1. Mike, would like to talk with planning team on that turnback. Not nostalgic or ideological. The 550 and the 41 could be our most important freeway routes in the system. What do the stats say about their combined ridership?

        But don’t they definitely run ST-3’s most important corridors? If we can anywhere near provide reliable service while those lines are being built out and put to rail, it’ll give regional transit a lot of credit with passengers and voters, and morale or transit’s own workers.

        Have always disliked idea that service has to wait ’til first train runs. Worth a look, anyhow. More than one way to surgically re-attach your hand after the cat rips it off because you’re trying to skin it.


      2. I don’t know the planning team. You can ask ST to put you in contact or send a question to ST’s info address.

        The 550 is ST’s highest-ridership route. I’ve been riding it and its predecessor since junior high. Nowadays I ride it weekends a few times a month, and occasionally rush hour. It runs every five minutes peak direction and ten minutes reverse-peak and is standing-room only, and others have reported overcrowded. A lot of people get off at Mercer Island and South Bellevue. At Bellevue Transit Center rush hour you see lines of fifty people waiting for the 550 and 535. Late Sunday afternoon westbound I’ve seen standing room only a few times in the past year. RapidRide B was always low but this year I’ve seen it busy a couple times. Both of these are biggest when there’s a ballgame in Seattle.

        The 41 I only use a few times a year so I don’t know what its ridership is. But both Metro and SDOT believe it deserved 15-minute evening service and increased it.

        Still, even though the 550 has great ridership and shows that a train will be well-used, I don’t feel strongly that it and the 41 have to stay in the tunnel. I experienced them being out of the tunnel when it was closed for Link renovations, and while it was worse it’s not the end of the world. I have a hard time seeing why a few routes must stay in the tunnel when other routes are never in the tunnel and always have to deal with the surface. I’m more concerned with getting ST2 Link open sooner than I am about buses staying in the tunnel.

        Maybe your talk with ST will clarify whether it’s an engineering necessity to install that turn track in 2019 rather than 2023, or whether it’s just arbitrary.

      1. Can anybody suggest a source for the mechanical reasons that these particular machines are “broken out of the box”?

        With elevators, I wonder if the problem isn’t that technology here really is “Rocket Science”, while what’s needed is the elevator science that delivered the ones in the Smith Tower. Exact same as what happens when jet-aircraft designers try to do streetcars.

        No special “brief” for any warplane. Though would like to get a workable jet-boat, elevator, or railcar out of the quadtrillions we’ve spent in wars that’ve gotten our country nothing but hurt. With worse new wars resulting. So suggest that for next order of either railcars or buses, we talk to the people who designed and built the A-10.

        Recalling an accelerator pedal falling off my Breda at University and 42nd (not short for sudden loss of power, but of a bolt) $18.8 million per bus might have saved the taxpayers the total expense (shame counts as a budgetary maintenance item) of the Breda fleet.

        Might be good to get an elevator that can work with a wing shot off.


      2. “Can anybody suggest a source for the mechanical reasons that these particular machines are “broken out of the box”?”

        That’s what we’re waiting for ST’s escalator review on.

  7. Homeless most affected by RapidRide enforcement:
    Audit report:

    There is a time savings in not collecting fare on board, and the enforcement budget needs to take that into consideration where some shrinkage is acceptable. On the other hand the homeless also are perceived to be the cause of much of the discomfort in riding transit, especially at night and for women, since while most are content to just ride in peace some are either mentally ill or deliberately misogynistic
    or racist. Most people are uncomfortable telling a stranger to knock it off, either.

    1. There is some segment of people who would ride transit if not for the appalling behavior that unfortunately happens more often than some would like to acknowledge. I have several colleagues in the office who have had some really awful bus experiences that made them vow to never ride again, regardless of what that costs them in time and money.

      There’s plenty of rude behavior, nothing we don’t see everyday in a crowded city, but then you have the gross, violent, and downright scary stuff that alters people’s perceptions of safety. I wonder how much transit ridership we’ve lost permanently because of this.

    2. We need to address the root cause. Why are there homeless people with rude behavior in the first place? It’s because they don’t have housing, many of them have mental health issues which aren’t being treated, and it’s stressful and sleep-depriving to scrounge for a bit of sidewalk and food every day, or to get and hold down a job and take care of a family and children in that condition, and that stress builds up and erupts in bad behavior. The only way to solve it is to give them housing and mental health services. That alone would decrease the stress by at least half, and give them a place to be when they don’t want to be in buses, libraries, and parks. In the meantime, we need to provide a baseline of transportation so people can get around, to services, to jobs, to shelters, and to the other places that people go. (And let’s not forget that most of the homeless are invisible: they’re not the ones causing problems on buses but are families, some of them have one or two jobs, and they just can’t afford Seattle’s rents.)

    3. Doesn’t seem surprising that fare enforcement effects the homeless more – they are probably more likely to ride without paying since they have little money. This is because of fare enforcement style on Rapid Ride.
      Non payment happens frequently on regular buses, where the driver just ignores it and lets them get on.

      Misbehavior is another matter – but the homeless aren’t the only people misbehaving on the bus. Not really much that can be done since Metro understandably doesn’t want to put their drivers at risk, and the police usually can’t get there in time.

    4. At some point we need to address the dichotomy that people with too little money for ORCA Lift can ride regular buses pretty easily, and maybe RapidRide if the suggested policy change goes through, but on Link they get lectured and taken off the train and fined and banned from Link. This will become a bigger issue as Link replaces more bus routes and there’s no reasonable way to get to some places except on Link.

  8. Lately my schedule has me riding the light rail into town around 930-10am. Amazing that crush loads continue well past what I would typically consider ‘rush hour.’

    Snapped a pic today just before 10am. We will certainly have no trouble filling four-car trains once Northgate opens.

    1. You should see the 545 eastbound at 10am at Bellevue & Olive. Buses come every five minutes and they’re pretty packed. A crowd of 5-15 waits for each one. The Microsoft Connector also overlaps with it.

    1. I recommend you watch the 45 presentation by ST staff at the Operations and Administration committee meeting this week for a bit more context than Tlsgwm’s hot-take headlines.

      1. I had already watched it before it was reported on in the local paper. (You need to ascribe the “hot-take” headlines to the actual source and not to me.) Imo, the article was accurate and fair.

    2. It was mentioned on KUOW’s Week in Review last night, that the ST Board decided that stopped escalators aren’t as unsafe as they thought. And yesterday I walked down one, so perhaps it’s already having an effect.

      “Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff said the agency is ‘considering how we might shoehorn stairs’ into U District Station, and at what cost.”

      Oh, interesting.

      “Sound Transit will study replacing the 2-year-old escalators with sturdier models.”

      Finally a concrete strategy.

      1. Escalators have lead to numerous serious accidents. Alaska Airlines was sued when a wheelchair-bound grandmother fell down an airport escalator and died. How many deaths and or lawsuits have there been involving stopped escalators? Are they more dangerous than overcrowded stairs? I’m sure someone with the experience of Peter Rogoff must have the answer on the tip of his tongue. If not, certainly the vast array of transit experts on the ST board should know.

      2. Should thousands of people not be able to use an escalator just because three people fall on it? Wheelchairs don’t even belong on escalators: that’s what elevators are for. And if able-bodied people weren’t crowding the elevators because the escalators are closed, then disabled people and bicycles wouldn’t have to wait so long at the elevators and squeeze into them.

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