Ask any dieter: the last ten pounds are the hardest.

For the past several years, Seattle has been racking up amazing year-over-year declines in the percentage of downtown commuters who arrive by single-occupancy vehicle, despite adding tens of thousands of new jobs and residents.  This didn’t happen magically – it required hard work and coordination from various agencies and employers (and voters) to create viable alternatives to driving.

But even though a 25% drive-alone rate is pretty darn low, and the envy of our peer cities in America, it’s not low enough. Downtown will be a mess for the next few years, and we need to take even more cars off the road to have a chance of keeping things moving.

The last few percent are the hardest.

SDOT’s private bus concept. Courtesy City of Seattle.

Think about public transit as a product.  Product marketers often look at customer acquisition costs (CAC). For a startup, CAC is low: early adopters will seek out your product on their own.  As your product saturates the early market, you ramp up advertising and expand the product line to serve more marginal customers, who don’t see the immediate value of the initial product. In the transit case, this means an increasingly expensive (in political capital if not dollars) battery of carrots and sticks is deployed to entice the remaining holdouts out of their cars.

Which is how we end up with a SDOT proposal to add private shuttles to the mix of transportation options.  The agency looked at the data and identified several trip pairs to downtown-adjacent neighborhoods like First Hill and SLU that typically require 2-seat bus rides where the drive-alone rate is the highest, and proposed a pilot program to provide one-seat, peak-only rides between these areas.  The pilot would have run for a few years until the TBD levy ran out, coinciding with the worst of the One Center City congestion.

Ideally SDOT would have continued to contract with Metro for these additional services, but Metro’s base capacity is maxed out in the afternoon peak.  So the city tried to get creative and proposed hiring a private contractor.

From a technical perspective, one wonders how many new riders the shuttles would have gotten, versus cannibalizing existing riders (SDOT was projecting 3,000 daily riders in year two).  Or how much it would have cost per rider to have empty shuttles deadheading back to the neighborhoods (though it might have been worth it… a high CAC is to be expected).

Opponents latched on to the privatization angle as a camel’s nose under the tent for further privatization of public services.  The fear is understandable, especially in the Trump era where public resources are auctioned off willy-nilly, but Metro already contracts with private companies to deliver dial-a-ride (Access) service. While Access certainly has issues, it hasn’t led to any kind of slippery-slope wholesale privatization of bus service in the county (Transdev and Solid Ground provide existing Access service and would have presumably been candidates for the SDOT shuttle program).  The RFP process would have been a fine time to hammer out any concerns about safety, training, or wages.

Anyway, given the recent head tax contretemps, killing the pilot was an easy vote for a beleaguered Council. (It didn’t help that privately-run microtransit has had a bad run lately.) Still, the period of maximum constraint is real, and we need an all-hands-on-deck approach in the next few years that gives priority to non-SOV modes. That includes:

In other words, the first priority ought to be moving the existing buses faster before we start adding more transit vehicles of any kind.  How many more marginal riders would switch to the bus if it were actually faster? How much more frequently could the existing buses run, with the existing base capacity, if they weren’t stuck in traffic? These are the question we ought to be asking as cars continue to dominate downtown right-of-way.  Then let’s talk shuttles.

The One Center City near-term action strategies cover some of the above points. The TBD looks like it will be modified to allow up to $20M/year EDIT: $10M over two years to be spent on bus capital improvements and some more on RapidRide, which should help with speed and reliability. But more can be done.  And translating it all into increased bus ridership for that marginal rider will require a healthy dose of political leadership.

62 Replies to “To Get More People Riding Transit, Make it Faster”

  1. Well written, Frank. I am a marginal rider. Currently I don’t ride, but I used to, and wish that it made sense for my life. (Looking forward to some life changes that will, indeed, make transit, walking, and biking viable options for me once again.) Indeed, travel time is the driving factor in my own decision making (pun not intentional). I assume it is for a lot of marginal riders, as well.

    The side benefit of moving the buses through traffic faster is that you get more miles (literally) for each service hour, enabling you to move even more riders. More transit lanes. Fewer parking lanes. More signal priority. Enforce “blocking the box.” Use every tool in your toolbox to make the system work better for all users and more efficient for each service hour.

    1. Indeed, travel time is the driving factor in my own decision making (pun not intentional). I assume it is for a lot of marginal riders, as well.

      Yes, absolutely. I’m sure it is that way all over the world. In places with good transit systems (New York, D. C., Chicago, Boston, etc.) it is just the default way to get around. You might have a car to get to the farm, or visit someone in another town, but for regular travel within the city, you take the bus or the train (or both).

      Travel time is based on more than just bus (or train) speed though. Frequency, and the layout of the system make a huge difference. There are trips in Seattle that just take a ridiculous amount of time, despite the fact that the bus is moving quite quickly. But if the bus is moving the wrong direction or you have to wait a long time for the next one, driving then becomes the default mode of transport. For example, consider a trip from Ballard to Lake City: https://goo.gl/maps/sSa7BY4H86q. These are two of the biggest population centers in the city (and thus the state). I picked the most convenient transit place in Ballard (15th and Market) along with the most convenient place in Lake City, just to make it easier on Metro. But even with all that, it takes an hour. That is three times what it takes to drive (https://goo.gl/maps/ie1o4fgMsCv). That is horrible, and can be explained by looking at the various options.

      You can take the 372, but that takes you right through the UW, followed by the very slow 44. You can take the 75 and transfer to the 40. For the first five minutes of your trip, things are moving smoothly, as you head towards the west side of town. But then it goes south (literally and figuratively) and makes the twists and turns to serve Northgate TC. From there, you have to then take a bus south, then *north*, all the way back to Northgate Way before you start heading to Ballard. It is quite possible that you could get off the 75, walk west for ten minutes, and catch the 40 (just for kicks). That is nuts. Finally, one of the more interesting options is to go all the way downtown, then take a bus back, crossing the ship canal twice, just to get to Ballard. Ugg.

      None of these methods is anything close to what you would do if you drove. But they would be, if we had a good transit network. You would take a bus that went across the freeway, then a bus that went south towards Ballard (in much the same way you would drive). Of course driving would be faster, but not by a huge amount — not by 40 minutes. But the lack of a good grid, as well as good headways (which go together) combine to make that trip miserable with transit.

      I realize there are particular issues with that trip (the Northgate Transit Center pulls in bus routes like Saturn pulls in comets). But you can find examples of this sort of mess all over our system. I don’t expect this will get fixed any time soon, and we have more immediate concerns, such as making sure that downtown buses move faster (as Frank mentioned). But we shouldn’t keep our eyes off of the long term goal, which is to build a robust transit network that works for most trips, not just the folks headed downtown (since we’ve had that for years).

  2. What is an acceptable percentage of SOV downtown? 5%, 10%, 15% What is the goal? Is it 0%?

    1. That depends on how many jobs we continue to add downtown. Also keep in mind that the downtown adjacent neighborhoods I’m referencing above (FH, SLU) have higher SOV rates specifically because the transit service is weaker.

      1. “That depends on how many jobs we continue to add downtown. Also keep in mind that the downtown adjacent neighborhoods I’m referencing above (FH, SLU) have higher SOV rates specifically because the transit service is weaker.”

        True, but attributing it to lower quality transit also masks the impact that congestion and inconvenience play. A lot of people who drive seem to do so because that’s their default – perhaps what they grew up with, or how they’ve lived their entire lives. Often the only time they *don’t* drive is when it’s simply too much of a hassle, not because the transit is just that great. Going into Manhattan this is easily the case, and increasingly getting into downtown Seattle is getting harder, parking is getting more expensive, etc.

        Employment centers just outside of downtown are often much less of a hassle. Parking is that much cheaper, and that much more available, in some cases.

        In other words, even if you make transit access to these places better, many people may still continue to drive as long as the hassle doesn’t increase. This is in part what happens in places lacking significant bottlenecks – you could invest in fast, reliable transit, but if driving and parking isn’t terribly slow, hard and/or expensive, many people simply won’t stop driving.

    2. I don’t think the goal is about percent of SOVs downtown. I think it is more about aligning right-of-way with modes that carry the most people. In other words, SOVs don’t get access to every street just because they always have.

      In the case of SLU and First Hill, there are twin problems: Not enough transit and not enough dedicated right-of-way to get transit out of gridlock. Then, the approach of citing percentage of people arriving by transit breaks down, since there are already not enough commuters using it.

      But, but, downtown’s only dedicated transit right-of-way is the tunnel, and yet, tens of thousands every day continue to commute on slow buses stuck in mixed traffic (much of it illegal already). So, why do we need fast transit? the SOV advocates will ask. The percentage arguments are a catch-22 that enable arguments against bus lanes whether the ridership is high or low as a percentage of street users.

      I think the real point here has to be that only transit can move enough people in and out of downtown as need to get in and out of downtown on a daily basis. That transit sucks taxpayer dollars wastefully if it is stuck in general-purpose traffic. Government is being a good steward of both its capital and operational resources when it enables its buses to move swiftly. Government is working against itself if it allows the tragedy of the commons to waste its investment in transit provision.

      Some private or other non-transit vehicles have a legitimate need to get access 3rd Ave. Permits can handle those exceptions. I’m guessing vehicles that need such permits would constitute much less than 1% of human users of 3rd Ave.

      Durkan’s congestion-pricing proposal would be the wrong solution for 3rd Ave, which simply needs to be a busway, with permits handling exemptions. But congestion-pricing that increases tolls until traffic starts moving again in SLU would be a welcome relief to all mode users, including SOVs, I would predict. But, but, what about residents who can’t afford the tolls? Well, we’ve figured out ORCA LIFT, low-income annual parking stickers, the EBT, income-based utility rates, etc. I think we can figure out a way to exempt low-income residents of SLU.

      The most direct approach I can figure out for First Hill is to simply charge more for parking. Everywhere (and handle income issues with a discount rather than concern trolling for the poor to keep parking free for the rich). And add more transit, including more streetcars to make that cheaped-out line useful. For now, the quickest way to add more streetcars is better ROW and signal priority, so more frequency can be squeezed out with the same fleet. (Same principal as with the buses and their maxed-out base space.)

      Northeast Seattle has lots of good connections to UW Station. U-Link gets commuters past the worst traffic bottleneck. And then, commuters get to Capitol Hill Station and have to choose between waiting for an infrequent streetcrawler, taking a bus that only goes to Pine St, or taking a bus that might not be there for 20 more minutes, and slogs its way through Pill Hill. It’s the transit desert in First Hill that just kills any hope of commuters arriving by transit.

      Solving the last-mile problem for northeast Seattle commuters would help make space for the northwest Seattle commuters who don’t really have good transit options.

      1. Northeast Seattle has lots of good connections to UW Station. U-Link gets commuters past the worst traffic bottleneck. And then, commuters get to Capitol Hill Station and have to choose between waiting for an infrequent streetcrawler, taking a bus that only goes to Pine St, or taking a bus that might not be there for 20 more minutes, and slogs its way through Pill Hill. It’s the transit desert in First Hill that just kills any hope of commuters arriving by transit.

        Hard to say what the best way out of that is. It seems to me that we either double down on the streetcar (run it a lot more frequently) or ignore it. The latter would be expensive, given the needs in the area. I think you would have to end up adding a new bus. For example, I could see us straightening out the 60, so that it just goes straight on Broadway, from Yesler to Republican. Then add a new bus that starts in Rainier Valley (e. g. Mount Baker Station), goes through the hospital area, and then ends at South Lake Union (like this: https://goo.gl/maps/irgohXWU82m).

        If you did that, then the 60 serves the needs of folks on Broadway. You can take it from one end of Broadway to the other. A bus like the 60 is a little bit more nimble than a streetcar, but we would still want more in the way of transit lanes. The problem is, there is no room for transit lanes, unless the city is willing to turn Broadway into a transit mall (which seems unlikely. That means a bus would be stuck in the same way that a streetcar is. With transit lanes, a bus can deal with a car sticking out a few feet, but if there is no transit lane — if a car is legally just waiting right in front of the bus — then it just like a slow streetcar.

        Another option is to create a new bus that runs on 12th. That would help plug the hole that exists east of Broadway. But it would not serve the Capitol Hill station well at all, especially if it went up 15th. But it would provide for more of a grid in that area.

        It seems to me that northern part of the streetcar route (north of Yesler) is the best part. We should rely on it, even if the rest of it (as well as the mode) is flawed. Simply add a few streetcars, and run them more often, even if they aren’t as fast as we would like.

    3. We can start with the percent of downtown car commutes in New York, London, and Paris. I don’t know the number but it’s very low, maybe 5%. The rich will always drive, some people drive to clients’ locations throughout the day, and some people usually take transit but “I’ve got the car today because I’m going to the mountains directly after work” or “I’ve got a visitor I’m taking the airport”.

      The point is that in really transit-oriented cities, transit and other modes are the norm and driving is the exception. Hardly anybody in Brooklyn, Jersey City, or Bronxville drives to Manhattan during the weekday (even if they sometimes do evenings or weekends), 70% of Brooklynites and Londonders don’t even have a car, and many don’t have a driver’s license. They take transit, taxis, bikes, etc, most of the time, both for work commutes and their daily errands and activities. An article mentioned that a New York pastor visits his parishoners by subway. That’s the ideal goal, and we should figure out how close we can reasonably get to it, and do so.

      At the same time, the second-tier of American transit cities shows how far we are from it. In Chicago and San Francisco I’ve been shocked at the number of people who drive even when there’s a transit line practically door to door. In some cases they don’t know where the trains go because they’ve never looked at a route map; in other cases they do know where they go because they do take them sometimes (like when their car/motorcycle breaks down). But every time that happens I think, “Your counterpart in New York or London wouldn’t do that.”

  3. To Get More People Riding Transit, Make it Faster
    … and more frequent.

    The two go together. If you can make the buses run faster, then they run more frequently, without any additional cost. But for many, the big difference is frequency, which is why the private bus concept was a bad idea. For a handful of riders it would be much faster, but for the system as a whole it would be largely meaningless.

    Here are a couple examples. First, I have a friend who commutes to downtown from the Ravenna neighborhood. He stands on the corner of NE 65th and 25th NE, waiting for a bus. If the 76 gets there first, he gets to work a few minutes early. But more often, the 372 arrives, and he transfers to Link at Husky Stadium. Obviously Link is much faster for a lot of people, but for him, personally, it is slower. But the combination of bus and train is much more frequent. In the evening, he just takes the train. It is the frequency, not the speed, that drives that decision.

    The other day I wanted to visit some friends at the east side of Green Lake. I live in Pinehurst, which is not that far away. I walked over to 15th Ave. NE, hoping to catch a 73, or at least a 347/348, which would take me farther south. A quick look at One Bus Away showed that I had just missed the 347, and the 73 wasn’t there for another 20 minutes. So I could wait around 15 minutes for a 348 that could take me to Northgate Way (or the Northgate Transit Center). I was tempted to just walk back, and take my car. I think that most people would. But it was a nice evening, so I walked about a mile south to Northgate Way, crossed the street, and waited for the 67. The fact that I knew the 67 ran frequently was the only thing that kept me going.

    In every case, the driving factor was frequency, not speed. If the 73 ran more frequently, I would not have been tempted to drive. If the 67 ran less frequently, I would have drove. If the 76 ran more often, my friend would just take it. If the 372 and Link ran less often, he would be tempted to drive.

    Frank is absolutely right that we should be moving the buses faster, especially in areas like downtown, where congestion is a major problem, and contributes to low speeds and low frequency. As he mentions, we also need to improve the bus routes — extending them where they should be extended, and straightening them out where they should be straightened. If and when we add service, then it should be geared towards improving all trips by improving the complete network, not cherry picking a handful of trips like the rejected privatization scheme.

    1. Put another way – wait time is a part of travel time, and if you can decrease wait time, you make trips faster.

      The problem right now is that we can’t boost frequency if we don’t have more buses, so in the short-term focusing on bus throughput is probably more helpful. But medium/long term, you are definitely correct.

      1. Yeah, I agree. Since we can’t add service, we should definitely make infrastructure improvements, especially since the money originally planned for it (via Move Seattle) wasn’t enough to do the job.

        I just wanted to talk about the big picture, because I think it is too easy to focus on speed, when what really matters is total travel time, and frequency (along with better routing) are often the biggest issues.

  4. During most of the day and particularly during PM rush hour there is a significant number of buses using 3rd Avenue that are one-way only. For example, northbound on 3rd Avenue, it’s possible to watch a queue of buses that includes a 7 that is only dropping off passengers followed immediately by a 70 that is only picking up passengers, followed by a 36 that is only dropping off passengers. If Metro could develop a system of flexible scheduling, many of those one-way trips could be eliminated. With a flexible scheduling system either the 7 or the 36 would be thru-routed as the 70 and one bus trip would be eliminated. Southbound, we see the 40, 62 and 120 following a similar pattern. In the tunnel it’s the 41, 101 and 150 that could be grouped.

    Complicated? Yes, but as was stated, the last ten pounds are the hardest.

    1. I think the problem with that is reliability. If memory serves, the C and D were linked at one point. This saved a lot of money, while reducing the number of buses downtown. But the buses became unreliable, as traffic jams or a bridge opening messed things up. It is irritating enough to wait in lower Queen Anne for the D, look up at the board, and realize it will be fifteen minutes late. At least if you are headed downtown you have other options. But if you are headed to the Junction from downtown, if the C is fifteen minutes late then you have no have no other option but to wait (and curse Metro).

      But this goes back to the original point. If you make the bus routes faster, these concerns melt away. If I remember right, the original plan was to link the RapidRide version of the 70 with the RapidRide version of the 7 (truncated at Mount Baker). That would be cheaper to operate and result in less congestion downtown. But to make that work, you need to remove all the major congestion problems, so that the buses can go faster.

    2. Metro used to have more through routes but they dragged down reliability. Delays in one part of a route get amplified the longer the route is. The 62 is already an hour long, and Metro is counteracting its previous horrible punctuality (10-20 minutes in the AM peak, late morning, and PM peak essentially every day) with more buses. The 131/132 have the same level of horrible perform ance; they are through-routes with the 26 and 28. The 7 and 49 used to be one route, as were the 43/44, 45/48, 124/A, 150/180, but they were all split for the same reason. The C and D used to be through-routed but we’re split to get more service to SLU and restore the Ballard-pioneer Square connection (similar to extending the 40 to First Hill.)

      There are other alternatives. One is to extend routes to downtown-adjacent neighborhoods, as was done with the D and proposed for the 40. Another is to through-route in adjacent neighborhoods. This gives two-way demand to the center of town. There have been proposals to join some combination of the 36, 49, 60, and/or 70 on Boren or Broadway. This would give the benefits if through-routing but keep it out old the worst of downtown congestion, and also serve an underserved adjacent area.

      1. I remember the horrible unreliability of the thru-routes. But that was before GPS and “big data”. What I’m suggesting is a more modern, agile and intelligent system of scheduling during peak hours that would be able to predict when a bus will arrive in downtown and assign that bus to the most needed route available. Let’s say a 131 is arriving in downtown 14 minutes late and there is a scheduled northbound departure on route 24 that hasn’t been covered and is 16 minutes late. Instead of having the 131 continue as the 26, it could be assigned to cover the very late 24 and the next arriving bus would cover the 26. There would need to be flexibility for driver breaks and many people might lose the convenience of a thru-route, but running buses one-way through downtown is a big cause of slow bus service.

      2. Oh man, I don’t know. I’ve been on plenty of buses where the driver took a wrong turn. Dynamic routing, as you suggest, just seems like it would lead to chaos. More wrong turns, and more bus drivers thinking “wait a second, I thought I was running the 24”. I mean, I suppose it could work, but I don’t know anyone that is actually doing that. Maybe out of a bus terminal, but not in the way you suggest (where a driver isn’t notified that he is driving the 62 until he gets to Jackson and checks his dashboard).

        I just think the big problem is congestion downtown. This is why they built the bus tunnel. Building a transit mall (on Third) is the second best thing. It enables more through routing, and makes the overlap less of a big deal. I also think other streets should have more right of way as well, along with routing changes that don’t put so much pressure on one street. If anything, a bus that is basically finishing up its route could serve “off load only” stops. That would enable them to quickly finish off the route, without worrying about people taking it a few blocks (assuming the loss of service is no big deal). If it is a big deal, then the overlap is really a good thing, even if it does mean more bus crowding.

      3. “There are other alternatives. One is to extend routes to downtown-adjacent neighborhoods, as was done with the D and proposed for the 40. Another is to through-route in adjacent neighborhoods. This gives two-way demand to the center of town.”

        The fourth sentence is supposed to be third. The idea is that if most downtown routes go all the way through downtown and terminate in the adjacent neighborhood, that’s more useful than if they terminate at the center. Because they ensure that riders from the far half of the route (e.g., Fremont and Broadview) can get to all parts of downtown along its axis (3rd Avenue) and the neighborhoods immediately before and after downtown (SLU and, if the bus turns at Yesler, First Hill) with a one-seat ride. The alternative, where all routes terminate at Pine Street, forces unnecessary transfers just to get to the other half of downtown or the adjacent neighborhood. Transfers and grids are good, but terminating a half-mile or mile short of a signficant urban village or the edge of the urban center is inefficient for the network. The worst is when people have to transfer twice within a mile, or I would say two miles.

        That’s one of the problems with the SLU streetcar. It can’t replace the 14’s Jackson service or the 60’s Broadway-12th service because they run off the end of the line. And terminating the routes at 12th & Jackson and forcing people to transfer is just gratuitous, when their destination only a half-mile or mile further. Or worse, they’ll transfer again at the other end of the streetcar line — exactly the case of the “two transfers within a half-mile” rule. Another example is taking Link to UW Station, transferring to the 65 to U-Village, and transferring again to the 75. But at least that’s unintentional and temporary: it’s only because Link doesn’t reach the real transfer station yet (U-District Station).

        There are also two other benefits to extending a route all the way through downtown and into the adjacent neighborhood. One, it reduces layovers downtown, freeing up space for other uses (plaza, cycletrack, bioswale). Two, in the case of the imaginary 5 I outlined (Broadview-downtown-First Hill), it not only brings riders from Broadview to downtown and Broadview to First Hill, it also brings riders the other way from First Hill to downtown, or overlapping two-way peak commutes. And it can potentially replace some service currently provided by the 3, 4, and 27, or address underservice in those areas.

      4. “I just think the big problem is congestion downtown.”

        That’s one big problem. Another is congestion around the Fremont Bridge, which also throws the 31 and 32 off-schedule. And others you just can’t tell: they aren’t big enough to be visible but somehow the micro-delays accumulate. Some routes have no major bottlenecks like downtown or Fremont yet they’re still somehow unreliable.

      5. Agreed re reliability issues. The 36 gets delayed and shows up in pairs very often even today. If we make it a through-route you’ll have to wait two days for all 45 buses to show up at once.., if you’re lucky.

  5. The transit agencies together are spending $5 million on Montlake triangle, but so far it looks like we won’t be using that excess capacity to bridge I-5 congestion by rerouting buses. Would that money be better spend elsewhere?

  6. I started using transit to Sodo from Woodinville a couple of months ago. For the 311 route I use, the afternoon would be helped immensely by 520 HOV to 405 HOV flyover ramps and by removing the loop to though the 160th Park and Ride by dropping off at the 160th I-405/522 northbound on-ramps. Also, it would help to start/stop the route at Husky Stadium.

    1. >> the afternoon would be helped immensely by 520 HOV to 405 HOV flyover ramps

      Oh yeah. Definitely. This is the sort of thing that the state should have built (instead of the terrible 167/509 crap). but since the state dropped the ball, ST should have paid for it. Instead they are building a dubious new interchange on 85th that will likely help far fewer people (https://seattletransitblog.com/2018/04/30/kirklands-ne-85th-brt-station/).

      >> Also, it would help to start/stop the route at Husky Stadium.

      I think it makes sense, but the connection between Link and the buses isn’t great there. Part of the problem is the timing on all of this. The SR 520 bridge isn’t done — the next step is to work on Montlake. A big part of that work should be to make it possible for a bus to get right from the HOV lane to the Montlake bridge in an HOV lane. Likewise the other direction. Until that is done, there will be plenty of people who disagree with you, even though I’m not one of them.

  7. I think major destinations should be given more priority by bus planners. Specifically, Colman ferry terminal. I live at 1st and Broad and going up to 3rd for a bus and then hiking down from 3rd to the ferry terminal is a chore at my advanced age. So, reluctantly I drive, when I’d be happy to be a walk on if there was better bus service.

    1. Not a hard one, Deborah. Run a bus down First Avenue. Like we used to do for a very long time and should again. Trolleywire could be extended between Virginia and Broad, trailing into Queen Anne service.

      When Waterfront is finished, could also do a loop in each direction, between Pioneer Square and Denny. Could be trolley-wired whole route, and run with battery-pack buses. To take care of fact that we can’t wire across the BN tracks.

      We could put “wiring pans” (those little clear-plastic “sheds” to guide “shoes” to the wire, so driver would not have to get out to raise poles. But diesel buses could be at your stop (or where it used to be) tomorrow morning.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Rather than the streetcar on First, just put RapidRide G (Madison BRT) on First and extend it into Belltown and to LQA. Encourage Link transfers at First and University, an easy walk from the Benaroya entrance on Second to Link.

        Few will want to ride a streetcar from Pike Place to Jackson when Link and Third Avenue buses make it so much faster. The main benefit to this segment is for ferry riders.

    2. One reason the 1st Ave. streetcar has to happen. And I still don’t buy it that there are no busses that can fit on 1st Ave. and/or Western Ave. during construction.

    3. The Madison BRT project (or RapidRide G) should help.

      I also think it makes sense to send some buses down First, in the right of way that was supposed to happen for the streetcar. The whole idea of the streetcar is nuts. The plan was to run *an additional line* through Seattle, right in the area where the buses are most congested. It makes way more sense to just divert some of the buses to First.

    4. Somehow you need rails to get the red paint.

      It’s totally ironic that it’s easier to get a subway approved than bus lanes. Some parts of Link are necessary because of volume or distance. (Volume: downtown to U-District. Distance: downtown to Redmond.) But others are mainly because we can’t get transit priority any other way. Not on 45th, not on Aurora, not on 15th-Elliott. The 44 could take fifteen minutes, the D twenty, and the E thirty, if they had transit lanes. But no, Wallingford businesses want their street parking, as do Aurora businesses, and don’t believe that walk-up customers could outnumber drive-up customers if we had good transit priority.

      1. >> Somehow you need rails to get the red paint.

        My God, how many times must we dispel this ridiculous myth. There is even a contrary example just two posts above you! Holy cow, man, the Madison BRT (AKA the RapidRide G) will have lots of red paint. Even if we build the streetcar, the bus will have more red paint than the streetcar, by both miles and percentage. You will be able to stand on First Hill, see the streetcar stuck in mixed traffic, and see the RapidRide G running in its own lane.

        Oh, and Aurora and Elliot do have red paint. Even the 44 has some. You are oversimplifying by a ridiculous level. Even your statement about parking being the big problem is simply wrong. It takes a while to make the conversion, but in general, that is the easy part. The hard part is dealing with streets (like Denny) that have no parking at all. That includes the route of the 44, in several spots. The easy part (when they finally start on the project) will be getting the parking lanes. The hard part will be getting the other ones.

      2. Shoreline and south King County have full BAT or transit lanes for the entire A and E lines on 99, with maybe only shared traffic for the short turns to the transit centers. So does Swift. But Seattle will only install a few queue jumps and small segments of BAT/transit lanes for the most egregious bottlenecks. But anybody who rides the 44 westbound in the afternoon knows that it gets stuck in a lot of traffic in the U-District, Roosevelt, and Wallingford where the queue jumps and short transit-lane segments don’t exist. That’s what the complaint is. RapidRide G will have lots of red paint but it may be the only bus line where that happens. The G’s red paint doesn’t help people at all who spend most of their time in North Seattle or West Seattle or anywhere else. We’re still trying to get off-peak transit priority or transit lanes on Third Avenue, the biggest and most critical bus corridor by far. It’s not a myth, it’s the reality of what exists and what’s likely to happen according to the public announcements and agencies’/politicians’ behavior so far. The city should do better, and we should call out the problem, and tell the politicians to prioritize addressing it.

      3. The myth was that “Somehow you need rails to get the red paint”.

        Fact: we have red paint for the buses. Ergo, your statement is false. Since it is false, it is a myth. Dude, it is just basic high school logic (or did you sleep through debate class?).

        I don’t really need to go on, but I will point out that having rails doesn’t appear to help when it comes to red paint. How much red paint is there for the streetcars? Not a lot, from what I can tell. Thus inferences based on your statement (i. e. that having a streetcar will help you get red paint) have no supporting evidence.

        You could have said “We don’t have enough red paint” or “We need more red paint in these particular areas” or even “It sure takes a long time to just get a little red paint around here”, all of which are reasonable statements, with particular anecdotal evidence to support them. But saying “Somehow you need rails to get the red paint” is a myth.

  8. The pilot project struck me as an attempt to solve a parking crisis rather than an attempt to solve a mobility crisis in SLU and First Hill.

    But, we also have a street through-put crisis between Ballard and First Hill. SLU is no place for anyone trying to get anywhere quickly. I-5 is a permanent parking lot during commuter hours. Taking the 44 or 48 to UW Station gets past that congestion, but leaves those taking that long way around facing a transit desert when they arrive at Capitol Hill Station.

    Biking through SLU? Who is that adventurous, and what are paths that work?

    It’s that lack of other non-extremely-slow travel options that make cool solutions like sending route 40 up Yesler pencil out well. Now, if we could just give route 40 a red carpet through SLU and downtown, we might be able to find the buses necessary for that much-needed route extension.

  9. I don’t see a direct correlation between faster buses and the basic bike network. Removing on-streeet parking for bicycles may discourage a few auto trips but the densest areas already have few spaces. Removing traffic lanes for bicycles has a domino effect of traffic and often reduces bus speeds ; drivers move to other streets including those that carry buses or feature bus turns. Special signal cycles for bicyclists disrupt every other mode’s green light time, including transit.

    I understand that there are benefits to bicycle networks. Let’s just not kid ourselves into believing that they generally make buses faster.

    1. Agreed. The bike network is a great investment & a beneficial part of our overall transportation plan, but it can impact transit negatively. There’s nothing inherently wrong about that, it’s just a matter of prioritizing scarce road space between various needs.

      The 4th Ave PBL is a good example of it. Would a PBL be great? Yes. Would a PBL negatively impact bus throughput on 4th? Yes. Given the period of maximum constraint, delay the bike lane was an unfortunate but defensible trade-off.

    2. I agree. I don’t think improving the bike lanes helps transit speeds. The combination of bike lanes and bike share may help improve transit use, however. But that assumes that the hills aren’t a problem and that they work together well. I don’t think walking a couple blocks up a hill will discourage people from using transit, but I think riding up a steep hill will. The electric bikes might make up for that, but the big question remains whether there are enough of them to be able to rely on that for your trip.

      For example, I could easily see someone incorporating bike share into a trip to Seattle U. involving Link. Just get off at the Capitol Hill station, bike on 12th, and you are there in no time. That is much easier and faster than taking the streetcar, and much faster than walking. But what if there are no bikes there? I’ll admit, I’m a bit biased towards docked systems for that very reason (although you need a lot of docks — Seattle failed miserably when it tried to do that because they had too few). So maybe it just works out, and you can count on a bike within a block or two of the station every day.

      All of this could contribute to more transit use, which in turn could lead to more frequency. But I don’t see it making the buses faster or more reliable. Quite the opposite. Unfortunately, street use is a zero-sum game. If you take space for bike lanes (however justified) you have less space for transit lanes.

    3. For the same number of bike riders, wouldn’t having them in separated bike lanes be better for busses instead of sharing the right lane with the busses and the cars in front of the busses? Currently bikes don’t impede busses on 4th ave mainly because so few people are brave enough to bike on 4th ave–not the best situation for overall mobility! Of course, if busses are in transit dedicated lanes, bikes *can’t* slow them down.

      1. Yeah, good point. Bikes do slow down buses in general purpose lanes, and if there are no other options for the bike riders, I don’t blame them. They have every right to be there, even if they play a game of leap frog that is annoying to both the bus driver and the bike rider.

        But whenever possible, an approach that splits the bikes and buses is better. The Madison BRT project did that. New bus lanes are being added, but not on Madison.

      2. it’s a function of demand. An occasional bicyclist is not that disruptive.

        If Seattle had the number of bicycle riders as Amsterdam or Bangkok, this makes sense. But when I cross Second Avenue I always look down the street to count the bicyclists in the bicycle track — and almost never see more than five and usually see only one or two. It’s probably good that they are on Second and not Third, but even on Third it’s easy for a bus to go past a bicyclist.

  10. Because Downtown Seattle is on a hillside, better ways of changing elevation are badly needed.

    If First Hill and Capitol Hill were flat, walking would be no big deal. But they aren’t! The steep hills a big challenge for Downtown mobility and a cause of why people drive — yet it never gets put into the discussion about solutions.

    1. I would like to see some polling on that, because I doubt that is a big factor. If you are within a couple blocks of a downtown tunnel station, I don’t think you hesitate to take Link (or an express bus like the 41) even if your walk is up a steep hill. I think the bigger problem is distance and reliability.

      For example, consider a trip from Capitol Hill station to Seattle U. This is a walk that is quite flat if you use 11th. It is also fairly pleasant. But my guess is there aren’t that many people who make that walk, because it takes over fifteen minutes. Likewise, there aren’t that many that hop on a streetcar, because that takes about ten minutes, and is unreliable. That is why no one is arguing, for example, that First Hill is served already by the Capitol Hill station. Of course there are people making that combination, but ridership on Link is not nearly as high as it would be if there was a stop on First Hill.

      But there are definitely worse combinations. South Lake Union to First Hill is horrible. Just look at those combinations: https://goo.gl/maps/HRxKxBXX5xn. Roughly a half hour (if not more) to get about a mile and a half. I’m sure I could walk there faster (but I walk faster than most).

      Even just a trip from Amazon to Seattle U. is bad. That really isn’t even South Lake Union yet, but just a few blocks north of Westlake Station. But the best you can do is walk down (away from your destination) to catch the 2, then slog your way up the hill (https://goo.gl/maps/9e3GnxzMaF22). In that case, transit is so bad that a 25 minute walk appears as an option.

      This isn’t unique to Seattle U. How about Amazon to Boren and Marion (https://goo.gl/maps/emdyqqTPaBn). You’ve got big office towers, huge apartments, major medical centers right there, and quickest way to get there is to walk for close to 20 minutes. This is from the headquarters of one of the biggest companies in the world — an area now dominated by skyscrapers.

      This is not even rush hour — this is 10:53, but the buses aren’t moving that fast, and the routes don’t really work. They are still based on the idea that “downtown” consists of a tiny sliver east of about sixth, between Lenora and James. That is no longer the case. First Hill and the greater South Lake Union area are definitely “downtown”, and should be treated like it. Unfortunately, that means you can’t just run the buses from one end to the other, because the area is so much bigger. When the bus tunnel was built, I’m sure the folks patted themselves on the back and said “at least we have downtown covered”. They did, but the city has changed, and any reasonable definition of downtown has to extend east and north.

      It is unlikely that our light rail will ever cover it sufficiently, so the least we can do is create a network of reasonably fast buses that make very common trips in a straightforward manner. That means more red paint, and it means a better grid.

      1. Interesting about the Google time estimates. I don’t think that elevations are in the algorithm but I may be wrong.

        I’d agree that frequency is important — maybe more important than travel time. I’d also agree that better near-Downtown routing is needed.

        I think that a Downtown circumferential exclusive-lane trolley bus route would change things radically. Unfortunately i can’t suggest a great path.

        It’s one reason I’d rather see the Center City Connector moved to be on Pike and Pine (couplet) instead of First —with two lines — one split at Broadway north to Capitol Hill station and one south to First Hill and Jackson St; and one split near Amazon to run to SLU or Belltown. The WSCC could even pay for a chunk of it to compensate for their land grab at Convention Place.

      2. I think elevations are in the Google walk estimates (which is probably why I could beat the bus). I remember flipping a trip and being surprised that the numbers changed, then I realized that the trip involved a hill.

        As far as routing goes, I think it gets complicated because of the changing street layout (the result of early planners not agreeing on a layout). But that doesn’t mean you can’t have more of a grid. You really don’t need a lot of new bus routes, or a major shuffling. A bus like this: https://goo.gl/maps/irgohXWU82m, or a bus that just runs on Boren from First Hill to South Lake Union would go a long way (something like this: https://goo.gl/maps/vChvUTuuDTz).

        It gets to your other point made below. Imagine you are trying to get from Yesler Terrace to South Lake Union. You take the 27 down Yesler, then take a bus on Third. Yet you have no interest in anything on Third south of Denny (the traditional part of downtown). You are contributing to the bus congestion on Third, when you just want to skip it. It is a hub and spoke type trip, rather than a grid type trip.

        Just to be clear — it is great that buses along Third have higher frequency. But you reach a point where it really doesn’t matter in terms of improving travel times, and in many cases, decreases them. A lot of the buses are full during rush hour, so what is driving the desire for more service is not the improvement in wait times (that comes from more frequency) but simply dealing with capacity.

        Running more of a grid would mean not only much better travel times for people making a trip like First Hill to South Lake Union, but it would ease the burden for buses on Third. You might not need so many E buses, for example, if people had other ways of getting to South Lake Union from the south.

      3. Capitol Hill Station to Seattle U is 4 minutes on the streetcar–two stops. I doubt this is as much a factor as the 12-20 minute wait for a streetcar.

      4. It’s one reason I’d rather see the Center City Connector moved to be on Pike and Pine (couplet) instead of First —with two lines — one split at Broadway north to Capitol Hill station and one south to First Hill and Jackson St; and one split near Amazon to run to SLU or Belltown. The WSCC could even pay for a chunk of it to compensate for their land grab at Convention Place.

        Sorry, but no. The streetcar doesn’t make sense no matter where you put it. As implemented, it is an inferior mode.

        One of the big problems with it is that it would be short. No one is talking about converting, say, the 40 to a streetcar (thank God). So that means that we would be adding a new transit route *just* through the most congested part of downtown. That is nuts. On the one hand, we are saying “We have too many buses down here — something must be done”, while on the other, we are saying “Hey, let’s add a streetcar through here, but just on this busy part”. It would make way more sense to simply divert some of the buses to First. Give them the same right of way you would have given to the streetcar, but make them a lot more useful. Ideally you run it in the center, but if that is too expensive (to add the bus stops) then just run curbside in BAT lanes. Ban a right turn into the Market, and you are done.

      5. @B — Agreed. For that stretch, the biggest problem is lack of headways, especially during the middle of the day. But the overall routing and the mode make it difficult to justify more frequency. My guess is ridership (such as it is) is dominated by folks making that sort of trip (a few blocks down Broadway). It is the only part of that trip that is straightforward. It is tough to argue that we should spend more money on a route that is a mess overall, with low ridership, and an inconsistent route. If you are doing the reverse (trying to get from Seattle U. to CHS) then simply adding more expensive vehicles (which can only be used on two under performing routes) would not necessarily lead to great service. What good is it if the trains are supposed to arrive every five minutes, but find themselves stalled by a poorly parked car, or someone mere inches into the lane. The Center City Connector (or streetcar missing Link) really won’t solve that problem. The inconsistency and poor ridership caused by the poor routing and poor mode choice will make that stretch difficult to serve (unless we just ignore the streetcar, and send a bus there).

  11. I believe that much of the traffic going into Downtown Seattle is going through Downtown Seattle to get to other near-Downtown areas. With Bluetooth sampling, it’s possible to sample cell phone pings to estimate what percent is going Downtown rather than other areas. Has one been done?

    This is important, because we seem to focus on getting into Downtown where the SOV percentage is low already — rather than focus on direct and frequent transit service to areas near Downtown which have much higher SOV shares.

    Meanwhile, those Downtown through trips may be the largest contributor to Downtown auto congestion so getting the Downtown core SOV share lower may not do much.

    1. I think this gets to my point made above, in terms of what you consider to be downtown. If you take the old definition (which is fairly small) then I agree completely. But if you include the downtown association’s definition of downtown (https://cdn.downtownseattle.org/app/uploads/2017/02/FPO-SOD-neighborhood-map.png) then my guess is trips to or from downtown (or just within downtown) make up the bulk of it.

      There are certainly other trips (e. g. West Seattle to UW) which involve downtown even though it isn’t the destination. I suppose you could add a few express buses (similar to the 586). But those tend to be sustainable only during rush hour, when the bypass route (the freeways) are congested. That may take some of the pressure off of Third, but those tend to be expensive to run. You also spread yourself too thin (which was the problem with the rejected proposal). If you start running buses from say, Rainier Valley to Ballard or West Seattle to Fremont, you are spending a boat load of money without great fare recovery per minute, which will just hammer your headways. A few express overlays are always nice in a system that already has a robust network, but for a city like Seattle (which doesn’t) it would make things worse.

      I think the key is to focus on those areas that are not part of the old downtown, but part of the new. That is what I was getting out up above. It is crazy that a trip from South Lake Union to First Hill takes so long. Riders have to go through the most congested part of downtown (old downtown, if you will) instead of taking a more direct route. Not only does a trip take a very long time, but it adds to the number of buses in the old downtown.

      1. No good transit option between first hill and SLU. Right now Google Maps shows 8 minutes driving, 36 minutes transit (!!!), and 35 minutes walking between Swedish SLU and Swedish First Hill–a 1.5 mile trip. (Walking the opposite direction down the hill shows 30 minutes, so Google is accounting for hills). I’ve got friends who live near the cathedral and they just walk back and forth to Amazon, but it is definitely further than most people would want to walk especially in the uphill direction back home!

        One way to address this would be to re-route the 7 (or it’s future Rapid Ride replacement, or perhaps the 106) up Boren through First Hill to get to SLU. Would also connect Columbia City and First Hill. The idea being that Link may be faster than dealing with Jackson and 3rd Ave. Or perhaps send the 9 and/or a straightened out 60 down Boren to SLU.

      2. Madison BRT + new Link tunnel with 2 stations SLU will go a long way towards connecting SLU and First Hill.

      3. @AJ — It will definitely help, but it is no panacea. Consider this trip, from the heart of Harborview to the heart of South Lake Union: https://goo.gl/maps/coSrX14gHg22. Surprisingly, it is not that bad. You spend about five minutes walking on either end, and the bus itself takes around 14 minutes to make that run. Now reverse it. You are now well over a half hour for each combination. That is because the 63/64 and 309 are commute only buses that run peak direction only.

        Now consider the Link + BRT option. Getting to Link isn’t bad — about a 5 minute walk. Getting from Harborview to Madison will take about 8 minutes. You have to wait for Link (about three minutes) and the Madison BRT (about 3 minutes). Then there is travel time, which is about about 8 minutes, more or less.

        That means that the single bus is actually faster, although not by much. If you ended on Fairview, the bus would be significantly faster, since it runs there.

        How about a trip from Harborview to the Hutch? Now you are talking about a very long walk to Link (likely a bus) which means that a single bus (that would likely end there, next to the terminus of the C) would be much faster (roughly ten minutes is my guess). This would be a pretty common trip, connecting two of the major medical centers in the state.

        The combination you mentioned would clearly be better than what we have now, because the buses I mentioned don’t run often. But a bus that simply follows a Boren/8th type route (but ran a lot more often) would be faster than it for many trips, and do it much sooner.

        Simply put, we need a transit grid to the new downtown — and includes South Lake Union and First Hill.

      4. Yeah, it’s tough. Trying to move diagonally in a grid is difficult. Do you build a frequent grid and force people to transfer (i.e. Madison BRT to Link), or do you build out some radial lines. Given the street grid, there’s really only one good option, Boren. Even something like the 8 is really a grid approach. So yeah, I’d love to treat Boren as a key transitway, just like 1st, 3rd, Westlake, etc. What’s interesting to me is – do you pick a RapidRide and pull it off of 3rd Ave and run it on Boren instead (RR Roosevlt, RR-7, or both?), or do you have a downtown only routes that runs on Boren & Fairview between Mercer and Jackson?

        I’m still inclined to go with the grid, b/c that’s what the professionals tend to say is the best option. But that means a proper grid – just Madison BRT isn’t good enough; we also need fast, frequent service on James (3/4) to intersect with Pioneer Square, a functional streetcar to intersect with the ID station, and a robust transit corridor on Pike/Pine to intersect with Westlake. A grid requires the whole enchilada.

        Haborview to Hutch, I think I’d actually envision taking the streetcar (or bus) to the ID, and then Link all the way to the Harrison station, which should then be a short walk to the Hutch.

    2. “I believe that much of the traffic going into Downtown Seattle is going through Downtown Seattle to get to other near-Downtown areas.”

      Jarrett Walker said something similar, that when you put transit through downtown-adjacent neighborhoods (such as UDist – Broadway – Beacon Hill), it reveals that many people didn’t want to go downtown but only did because the transit network forced them to transfer there. And for cases like going from Beacon Hill to the Paramount, or northeast Seattle to Costco, transferring at Broadway or north Seattle (anywhere between 34th and 85th) may be no worse than transferring downtown, even if it’s unconventional and may have status-quo opposition. The real problem with non-downtown transfers is the options are sometimes less frequent, but that’s an issue we can address, and that good grid systems do address.

  12. How about we put back the whole Route 43 for a shake-up or two, just to see what happens? Also to scrape the oxide off the wires.

    But main point about the recently- rethought van service. At least one cab company, equip cabs with ORCA readers? Or start our own.

    One “privatize” I could handle: Driver-owned cooperative. Common for both cabs and buses many parts of the world. Good habit for US workers to get into. However, co-ops usually die of their own vanguard-hood (STB please kill it before drivers start carrying jousting lances!)

    Everything worker-owned has a fatal fault. No union, responsible for all your own legal problems, work hours starting any time service gets screwed-up, at receiving end of all complaints- who in the Hell, I mean the working class, wants to be an OWNER?

    If I remember right, in Israel bus co-op owners get older and fewer. With ever more work done by their EMPLOYEES. Who I think have a UNION. Maybe we can make it a transit history thing.

    Llike the great IWW organizer (Industrial Workers of the World, Spokane liberals who burned down anti-labor saw mills and painted black cats on the remains) Joe Hill said, with a strong Ballard accent:

    “Workers of the world arise. You have nothing to lose but your chairs!” Probably real reason they shot him.

    MD

    1. What about extending the wire on the 10 northward and then joining the 48?

      Not sure where the service hours would come from.

      What really seems like a necessary change is dealing with the 8. The three areas on the map going to First Hill can get to Lower Queen Anne, but then face a slow slog through downtown or a slow slog on the 8.

  13. Sometimes, I imagine an “itemized bill of time” that explains why a transit takes as long as it does. Often, it’s not one single factor, but a bunch of little things that add up.

    For example, here’s an example of a 56-minute transit trip(*) from a random point in Wallingford to Bellevue Square (via routes 44->271), at 11:30 AM on a weekday.

    The “itemized time bill” might look like this:
    Drive time: 20 minutes
    follow transit route (45th->15th->Pacific) in U-district instead of getting on I-5 at 45th: +5 minutes
    extra time to walk to 45th at 3 mph instead of drive at 20 mph : +5 minutes
    wait for #44 bus: 5 minutes
    bus stops on route 44 to 15th/campus pkwy: +5 minutes
    wait time to transfer to route 271 at 15th/campus pkwy: +10 minutes
    bus stops on route 271 in U-district: + 3 minutes
    bus stop at 520/Montlake (bus must wait for light to serve bus stop; cars get to bypass light): +2 minutes
    route 271 bus stops in Medina (hardly anybody rides the bus there, so very little stopping): +1 minute

    Grand total for bus: 56 minutes

    Granted, the bus vs. car comparison often looks worse than it really is because Google’s time estimates never account for parking. But, still…

    With this particular trip, there’s not one obvious way to make the bus close enough to a car’s travel time to be reasonably attractive. One could probably shave about 10 minutes by taking a Lime Bike to the 271 (utilizing the Burke-Gilman trail), eliminating route 44 from the picture, along with all the intermediate stops in and around the U-district. A more frequent 271 would reduce wait time and save another 5 minutes or so. The two combined could actually get the total transit travel time within 10 minutes of driving, after the off-the-clock time to drive up and down the levels of the Bellevue Square Garage have been properly accounted for.

    This is a perfect example of the power of small, slow (but, still faster than walking) on-demand vehicles for distances in the 1-2 mile range to make a big reduction in travel time, increasing the number of actual origin->destination trips where transit is close enough in total travel time to driving to be worth considering. Even if the 44 managed to get bus lanes throughout the U-district (a, practically speaking, political impossibility), I don’t see it being door-to-door for this trip as fast as a bike.

  14. As one of the new arrivals (10 months and counting) and a western Capitol Hill resident, I’ve slowly gotten used to the Seattle Google Maps “Oh Well I’ll Walk” Incident: pick anywhere in the central city, and map directions from my place, and walking time will be about 10-20% shorter than transit time. At first I thought it was just to work or my friend’s place or the restaurant i like, but it’s pretty much universal. Walk Time 23 min, Transit Time 26 min. Argh! I am a car-free household and transit fan, nay obsessive, and yet I’ve probably taken a bus 10 times since moving here. I applaud the myriad transit projects in the region, but they all seem dedicated to moving people to suburbs and back, while moving around downtown/SLU/Capitol Hill/etc by transit is an exercise in frustration. Bus stops remain 4 or 5 blocks apart even downtown, there’s next to no SLU to First Hill connectivity, and transfers are laughable, and of course, the lack of transit-only lanes means rush hour gridlock. I’m happy to see so many people walking everywhere, but I think some of that may be because there’s just no good bus, and I have to believe there are scores of people like me who would love to take the bus home (a 20 block trip for me) after a long day but it’s a 5 block walk out of my way on each end to wait for a jam packed bus on a traffic-paralyzed street. So, I’m hoofin’ it up the hill in the rain again. It’s my hope that some of this “last mile” planning will include something for those of us who have “done the right thing” and ditched cars (and apartment square footage and most of our salary) to live in the central city, and then still have to take Lyft since transit is always worse than walking. It really doesn’t have to be.

  15. We moved to Boulevard Park, it’s 15 minutes to downtown Seattle with no traffic. There’s one bus to Seattle. It frequently gets delayed 45 minutes during rush hour, then sits in traffic, so it takes my husband 2 hours. He also uses Scoop carpooling, but people cancel 5 minutes before pickup or he doesn’t get rides. We are just buying a car for his commute, it’s impossible to use transit.

  16. Make is suck less.

    Same issue, different day. Key Words:
    – Sound Transit
    – Pierce Transit
    – Sounder Train Stations
    – Time Tables
    – The last few miles of a trip

    Fix the disconnect between trains and buses to complete the last few miles of a trip. Why is this system still broken after nearly 20 years of Sounder?

  17. I agree, make what we have work better, whether it be buses or freeways that they travel on. Adding more service is becoming more and more of a stretch, though, as it’s been difficult for agencies to find drivers and their bus bases are bursting at the seams for capacity.

    Direct access ramps where possible would improve the approach points considerably. In the north end, the most obvious is at 164th, where completing the north ramp, which involves no overpass and where the design work is probably in somebody’s file cabinet, would virtually eliminate the weaving that southbound buses do to serve the park and ride there (Ash Way) and to return to the HOV lane from there (going northbound). When light rail gets to Lynnwood, this situation will be greatly exacerbated, for most bus routes going south will be truncated at Lynnwood or Mountlake Terrace, putting more buses going back and forth in the north corridor.

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