39 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: New Voice for Translink”

    1. My recommendation would be Rick Steves. His friendly voice would soothe travelers, even when the announcements are bland or give orders.

      1. Agreed about Rick. But terrible shame what happened to the wonderful old culture of Ballard.

        Mark

  1. Open thread, random topic: the Magnolia Bridge. A lot of people think about the Magnolia Bridge as a car shortcut to downtown. But when it goes down it will affect the transit network a lot. Metro has lined up the 24 and 33 schedules for combined 15-minute service to (near) Magnolia Village. Then after those two routes split they run parallel for a while, so that many riders in the northeast part of Magnolia (including Magnolia Manor, a little pocket of residential density) effectively have 15-minute service, both to Magnolia Village and to downtown. Though the most prominent feature of Magnolia’s transit network on a map is the zig-zag tail of the 24, the overall effect of the 24 and 33 is that the east half all gets pretty effective service while the west half at least gets coverage. Considering the hills (which limit both walking distance and bus routing) the current network does pretty well.

    Getting rid of the southern access point changes all that. If entering at Dravus, Magnolia Village is no longer on the way to Magnolia Manor or Discovery Park. The best way I found to provide all current coverage with just two routes, avoiding excessively steep hills, is worse for most people than the current pattern. One route goes north, takes Gilman to Government Way, then comes back south on 28th to Magnolia Village, then runs through the Village and picks up the Viewmont tail. The other goes south, takes Thorndyke and Condon to Magnolia Village, then 34th to the Discovery Park tail. That makes a lot of trips less direct, and only areas near the east part of Dravus benefit from the combined frequency.

    I didn’t mention the 31 at all in this — the 31 is unfortunately less useful than it should be because the Emerson/Nickerson interchange doesn’t provide a good D-Line transfer. Moving it down to Dravus drops some coverage, too, though without a D-Line transfer that coverage is less useful.

    The one good thing about Dravus is that it’s a natural transfer point to the D Line and future light-rail. If the all-day Magnolia routes were truncated at 15th/Dravus that would allow most of these routes’ hours to be used on Magnolia. I’d probably use these hours to create more routes, meaning more different places get direct service to the transfer point with acceptable frequency. Of course, RapidRide shuttles haven’t proved popular anywhere, but here it might be better than any reasonable alternative!

    1. Magnolia makes for a very interesting transit challenge, both because of its relative simplicity (due to its isolation) and lack of easy answers. There have been proposals in the past (including some by Metro) that would, in my opinion, improve things my increasing frequency, but forcing some transfers. But people really want one seat rides, and the current layout (as you said) is pretty good in that regard.

      I also agree that the biggest potential for improvement is to change the 31/32. Personally, I would do this: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1EDI0cT31ZpXXYpZuQCUUlWb8xQU&usp=sharing, along with beefing up the D Line. That would enable easy transfers from either the 31/32 to the D, while increasing coverage for the rapidly growing Dravus/Interbay area. You lose some one seat connections (e. g. Lower Queen Anne to Fremont) but some have alternatives that weren’t so easy before (the 3/4 go to SPU). You also one (and only one) stop from the 31, at Fisherman’s Terminal, but it is only a few blocks from there to the new stop.

      In any event, from what I’ve read, the city isn’t just going to abandon the Magnolia (Garfield Street) bridge without some sort of replacement. This makes sense, as Dravus is pretty full, and adding all the traffic there would probably result in a major traffic snarl. There are a number of proposals detailed here: https://static.seattletimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/826a302c-6850-11e8-8678-754bcacea83c-1560×1040.jpg. The key suggestions are either an expansion of the Dravus bridge (1) or a new bridge over the railroad tracks at Armory (2 and 5). If they went with the latter idea, then I think there could be minimal change. Have both the 24 and 33 use that new bridge. The 24 would turn left (to Magnolia Village) while the 33 would turn right (following its current path). That works out fairly well, in my opinion. A handful of people that used to be able to take both the 24 or 33 now have to take the 24. But at the same time, a different handful (on Thorndyke) can now take both. That seems like an even trade. The only drawback is that riders of the 24 have a slower ride than ever, but Thorndyke is a fast street (no stop signs of stop lights for much of it). The toughest part will be waiting for the light at 15th (unless they add an overpass). But all the buses would have to deal with that issue.

      Even if they decide to expand Dravus instead I think you have to take the same approach. That would involve a lot of backtracking for the 24, but I don’t see a good alternative. I think you have to serve the southern end of Thorndyke. Even if you didn’t, looping around the other way (serving the north end of Magnolia before the southern end) would be very difficult. Imagine an outbound bus, curving around Gilman and Government Way, then heading south on 31st. So far, so good, but then it makes a turn to serve Magnolia Village, and then what? If it goes north on 34th, it ends at the main Discovery Park entrance. If it goes west, towards Viewmont, it ends there. It can’t serve both, which is why (absent splitting the routes) I think it has to go that way.

      If there was some extra money, then I could see something different. Run the 19 all day. Then with the 24 and 33 do something like this: https://drive.google.com/open?id=195Bmv2fOA4epmURmnBo6ucJOwKoBFCFF&usp=sharing. You could even just run the 19 as a shuttle (to either Dravus or Ballard). I think that works out pretty well, if you can find the money to run everything at least every 15 minutes.

      1. Unfortunately, none of your Google links are working for me, but your ideas sound interesting.

      2. @William — Weird. I tried with a private window in Firefox and it worked. Hmmm. I can try and describe it, though. OK, for the 24 and 33 change, both buses would go over Dravus, and then go opposite directions.The 33 would head north, along Gilman towards Discovery Park. Before it got that far, though, it loop south, onto 30th and 28th (following part of the current 24 route) until it ends, somewhere close to Magnolia Village. The 24, on the other hand, would head south from Dravus on Thorndyke, then curve around to serve Magnolia Village, then go up north on 34th, all the way up to Discovery Park. One of the things I like about it is that the 33 manages to serve most of the density in Magnolia. Thus I could see it being bumped up well before the 24. The 24, meanwhile, is the one that still goes into Discovery Park.

        The other map is similar. Basically, it would split the 31 and 32 at Dravus as well, with the buses going either direction. There are variations on that map that show it ending at various places. The idea there is that Dravus is a much better place to send both buses. That would enable a good connection with the D (either direction). It would mean that the buses are more alike — when they split it is only at the very tail end — which means it is easier keeping them synchronized. It would also mean that a core section (Dravus, from about 22nd to 15th) would get fairly frequent combined service to the UW. It would also mean that a lot of people who might be waiting for a bus downtown would at least have the opportunity to catch a bus and then transfer to the D. For example, if I was on Gilman, and wanted to catch the 33 downtown but just missed it, I could catch the 31 and transfer, instead of having to wait a half hour.

        The changes to the 31 and 32 could happen at any time and independent of other buses in Magnolia. I think it is realistic in the near term. The changes to the 24 and 33 would be dependent on changing the 19 (to some sort of all day run) otherwise West Magnolia has no service. That seems like a bigger change, and one less likely to happen until things get juggled all around because of the new bridge.

      3. @Ross: Thanks for posting the Times graphic on SDOT options. Those options may be something transit advocates need to start taking some positions on. It’s possible (not certain) I’ll be a Magnolia resident soon so I guess I’ll be a guy holding a sign or something…

        – An Armory/Halladay bridge with minimal transit network adjustments isn’t a great result for transit access to central-Magnolia residents and businesses. But if we actually follow our complete-streets obligations it could be an improvement for pedestrian, bike, and transit access to Interbay businesses. Not to jump on this soapbox too long (since I do it all the time), but I think one of our major failures of planning in the last generation has been allowing so much major retail to open in industrial areas without a human-scale transportation story. We probably can’t get rid of Interbay retail at this point, so we’d better at least make it accessible without a car. My position would be, “No new bridge without sidewalks and protected bike lanes all the way from Thorndyke to 15th.”

        – Any changes to 15th/Dravus must include improvements to pedestrian/bike safety, accessibility, and transit access. If a new bridge is built at Halladay we shouldn’t be expanding general-purpose capacity at Dravus.

        – The Nickerson/Emerson interchange is a dinosaur that weakens our transit network; changes allowing for accessible 31/D-Line transfers should be considered.

      4. Nickerson and Emerson is my favorite intersection to show people just how ridiculous Seattle streets are. They use concrete overpasses to add intersections in the most comically rounds about and convoluted fashion. While it really needs to go, I’ve grown fond of it

      5. RossB’s second alternative is interesting (extending the 33 to 28th), but has one flaw: it turns 28th to Magnolia Village into a two-seat ride. A significant number of people take the 24 from one part of Magnolia to another because of the steep hills. Off-peak I’ve seen half the riders do this. While you can transfer at the bottom of the V, that may seem excessive for such a short distance and long waiting time, especially if the next bus has just left when you arrive.

        Maybe the 31 or 32 could help with this somehow?

      6. A cautionary tale about how Route 39 became Route 50.

        Link opened so the bus was eliminated to Downtown because residents near Genesee Park and Seward Park were told that going to Link would be better and frequency would be better. I think Metro promised 15 minute service.

        Route 50 schedules got reduced after that promise and before the service started (budget cuts ). It’s 20 minutes peak and 30 minutes non-peak today with a nodes increase in trips since day 1. Ridership is horrible. Sure Downtown is faster — but only when the infrequent bus comes.

      7. Route 39 would have been cut anyway in the budget cuts. The downtown segment overlapped with other routes, and the Othello segment was new service for Link.

      8. >> RossB’s second alternative is interesting (extending the 33 to 28th), but has one flaw: it turns 28th to Magnolia Village into a two-seat ride.

        Good point. I noticed that as well, but didn’t bother to talk about it. Fixing it is actually pretty simple, although the details will take some research. I updated the map to show my preferred option. A bus turns on McGraw, then heads over to the Village, and provided coverage for 32nd, ending right by the grocery store and community center. Side Note: Albertson’s is a low budget grocery store — providing a solid bus connection would really help someone who doesn’t own a car. Having that be a terminus is also nice (on rainy days you can shop, then get on the bus, and chat with the driver while he does his layover).

        You lose one bus stop with that short cut, but those riders can simply walk a couple blocks (in any direction) to catch the bus. The big question about the turn is whether the hill is too steep. I don’t think so.

        But if it is, then you simply send the bus all the way down to Blaine (picking up that extra bus stop) then turn and head back on Condon, overlapping service until 32nd. The only question with that option is whether that turn is too sharp. Again, I think it is fine (https://goo.gl/maps/GqcVsr3a92t). Either way works, but I think the first is the better option.

        But the main thing is that I agree Mike — it would be silly to be about five blocks away from the village, end your route in the middle of nowhere instead of serving it. Ending the bus route next to the community center/grocery store is much better.

      9. @Al — You raise several good points. First, I think it is essential that we think about transit and bikes when it comes to the new bridge. But things get complicated very quickly. If we expand the Dravus bridge, then it is fairly simple. We add bus lanes and greatly expand the pedestrian/bike crossing. But if we add the new bridge, then it isn’t that simple. Do we add a new bus lane, even though buses from the U-District (31/32) or Ballard (which don’t exist yet) would obviously use Dravus? That basically means a bus lane that is used maybe four to ten times an hour, while the other bridge could be too congested. It might make more sense to just add a couple lanes on the other bridge, and hope that most of the cars use it, freeing up Dravus for buses.

        From a bike perspective it is a bit easier. Magnolia has a pretty good network of bike lanes (probably the best in the city in terms of bike infrastructure per capita). I think it is a given that a new bridge would have a decent pedestrian and bike platform. It would likely hook into the east branch of the Elliot Bay Trail (which is visible on Google Maps if you select the Bicycling layer). It really wouldn’t take much to connect various little spots there (and places like Whole Foods would definitely like a better connection to the bike path). Worse case scenario someone would have to do a little backtracking if they started from Belltown (less than a mile).

        In my opinion, the Nickerson/Emerson interchange should not be used by buses. I would really like to see buses moved to Dravus, while cars and trucks go on Emerson. If you are driving a truck to the industrial part of Magnolia, or want to pick up some fish for your store or restaurant, by all means, use Emerson. If you are driving to Discovery Park — same thing. But a bus should go on Dravus. The connections to other buses are much better, and you actually have people now (lots of people) who you can serve along the way. I don’t want to come down to hard on Metro for choosing that route — I give them credit for picking a route that is actually the one that drivers would use. But times have changed. Dravus has a lot more people and the connecting buses run a lot more often. Dravus is the better choice.

    2. If I understand correctly (I may not), the SDOT alternative to replacing the Magnolia Bridge which had the most support from the Magnolia community was to extend Halladay (about 45% of the way from Dravus to Blaine – Blaine feeds into Condon Way at 28th W) into a (relatively) low bridge over the BNSF Balmer Yard, intersecting 15th W at Armory Way. If that were built, presumably it (rather than Dravus) could/would be the connector to 15th W for the southerly (or both) of your two routes.

      Apparently reinstituting the 75+ year-ago trestle down from the south end of 23rd W was not considered feasible. I don’t know the reasons, but I can guess some. Anyway, that – if it were feasible – could theoretically create a southern connection to 15th W as far south as Newton (about 85% of the way from Dravus to Blaine).

      One of the secondary issues is the functional fate of “Magnolia Hide-and-Ride”, the wide east shoulder along Thorndyke along Thorndyke Park, supplemented by street parking along Thorndyke and 28th W north of Plymouth. It’s there because (almost) the only two stops more-or-less shared by the #19, #24, #33, and #31 are at 28th and Blaine (south/east bound) and at Thorndyke and Hayes (north/west bound). What, if anything, could replace it (as well as the transfers it facilitates) is another interesting question.

      1. I think the option you are talking about is #2 and #5 on the map from the Seattle Times article. I can see why it is the most popular. It makes sense to spread things out a bit, and not focus everything onto Dravus.

        If that happens, then you have a couple choices. One is to keep things more or less as they are now. After all, what you’ve done is basically just moved the Magnolia bridge a half mile to the north. There are still three bridges to Magnolia, and the buses to downtown all serve the southern most bridge.

        As you wrote, you could also take the approach I outlined, but use the new bridge. That works too, but I think there is less need for it. If the southern most bridge into Magnolia is Dravus, then it obviously becomes the dividing line between buses. That works out well, since there are a lot of people who live close to Dravus between 15th and 22nd. You’ve focused service on a fairly densely populated area. But if that focal point is Thorndyke and Halliday, then it is less than ideal. There are some apartments there, but there is also a lot of parkland.

        Meanwhile, looping around that way is less advantageous if you are trying to serve the populated parts up the hill. In other words, assume I am trying to get to 28th and Dravus. Also assume I have to follow a bus type corridor (I can’t just drive up Dravus). Once I cross the Dravus Street Bridge, then I might as well loop to the north. But if I am at Thorndyke and Halladay, I think it might be significantly faster to go via the south.

        I think it still might make sense for other reasons, but there are more trade-offs if the city goes with a new bridge connecting Halladay and Armory. I think the big thing Magnolia needs is more frequency, or at least more effective frequency. Right now it is a terrible mess, where (as you say) folks drive to get decent service close to the Magnolia Bridge. There is no easy (or at least cheap) answer, but I would start with the 31 and 32, which would at least allow a lot of people to shuttle their way to 15th (where hopefully the D will have better frequency soon). It sucks to have to wait a half hour to get downtown. The least they can do is allow most of the people who wait for those buses to catch a 31 or 32 if they miss the direct connection.

      2. FYI. Ross, I didn’t see your interesting (first) post until after I posted – I was intending to respond to Al S. I’m a painfully slow writer …

      3. not Al S. but Al Dimond … not only a painfully slow writer but painfully erroneous sometimes …

      4. What Seattle Times article? I must have missed it. What alternatives did it have? Are any of them particularly good or bad?

    3. Really says a lot for Seattle, none of it allowed on the radio, that it’s going to walk away from a piece of infrastructure like the Magnolia Bridge because- get this- the exact forces that’ve made Seattle rich beyond its every dream have made Seattle too expensive to maintain.

      Though either plate tectonics or deferred maintenance usually makes for a faster jog- with second one generating most urgent impulse to flee. And leaving our city with alternatives so lame that if they were part of a horse, the Humane Society itself would shoot it.

      A transit publication should be able to handle this in seven words. Fix It And Use It For Streetcars. (Term always followed by mandatory “On reserved right-of-way-with-pre-empted-signals.” Discovery Park will be an excellent terminal for The Connector.

      Especially since an aerial tramway connecting Magnolia to the Ballard LINK Station would definitely give Portland a competitive incentive to plant some towers straight to Pioneer Square. The one with the great weather-indicating clock, not a definite future Connector station.

      Pioneer Square South:

      https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/43723840131/in/dateposted-public/

      Wish sundials worked better in Seattle.

      Mark Dublin

    4. I’ve been thinking about the musings concerning increasing utilization of transfers to Rapid Ride D (to allow reinvestment of service hours in on-the-hill Magnolia service and/or to expand effective frequency, etc.). An excellent idea, if it could be made to work.

      Like any transfer, it would work if it didn’t result in excessive delays getting to the ultimate destination, and if the transfer experience itself wasn’t overly miserable. You don’t want a transfer that would involve standing out in the open in a January wind-blown downpour for 15 or more minutes. That would mean some kind of effective shelter. And it would mean a two- or three-sigma probability of being able to achieve wait times in the lower single digits during higher usage periods (also likely required to avoid excessive increases in travel times from the through-bus option).

      The primary existing current destination for Magnolia service is reasonably-full-span to downtown (with the Elliott tech buildings and Belltown on the way) with secondary 6-day mostly-daytime service to the U-District – and Childrens/NOAA/etc. – via SPU and Fremont. By far the heaviest usage is to downtown, so I’ll mostly consider it.

      The obvious time-losses stemming from using a D-transfer are the D’s detour through Lower Queen Anne and the transfer penalty.

      As a result of the D’s detour through Lower Queen Anne, the current #19/24/33 are almost always noticeably faster than the D between 3rd Avenue and 15th West. The only obvious-to-me ways to make up this loss would be to either reroute the D onto the direct route skirting Lower Queen Anne or to speed up the D in Lower Queen Anne. As we all know, the former would probably still be a non-starter (popular with most NW Seattle riders, wildly unpopular in Lower Queen Anne). As to the latter, people who know Lower Queen Anne better might be able to tell how much improvements such as parking-to-BAT-lanes-conversions would help (my guess is not much). Something else that would help somewhat (but only outside-peak-in-peak-direction) would be to make the BAT lanes on Elliott / 15th W west and north of Mercer Place full time. Of course, enforcement would help, period.

      Going into downtown, increasing the frequency of the D (which would probably be necessary to some degree to handle more Magnolia passengers) should theoretically reduce transfer times. Unfortunately, in the lower 15th W area, the current peak-period increase in D frequency from 12-minute headways to 7-minute headways seems mainly to increase bus bunching with little effective improvement in functional frequency. For downtown-bound buses, Ballard Bridge openings are another effective-frequency-headache, but only outside peak.

      However, coming back to Magnolia from downtown, schedule reliability becomes the greater issue, since many riders would presumably be transferring to a 10-15 minute headway bus to their homes at peak; maybe worse off-peak. Having a D out of downtown every 3 minutes is of limited use, if you have no idea which of those 3-minute buses will connect with your less-frequent transfer. Here, especially, BAT lanes, signal priority, discouraging cash payment, etc., become critical to avoid the need for a “Magnolia Hide-and-Ride” at one of the (probably few) points on the Hill with frequent service.

  2. Regarding the news this week about the Federal Way Link project cost escalation, this is what the FTA project profile stated in August 2016:

    “The Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority (Sound Transit) proposes to extend the Link light rail system from the Angle Lake Station in the City of SeaTac, Washington south through the cities of Kent, Des Moines, and Federal Way and terminating near the existing Federal Way Transit Center. The project will include three new stations and will connect designated Regional Growth Centers in southern King County to regional destinations such as Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, downtown Seattle, the University of Washington, and the communities of Northgate, Bellevue, and Redmond. The
    extension will bring efficient and reliable regional transit connectivity to South King County, including significant transit-dependent populations in the corridor. The project’s current estimated capital cost is $1.44 billion; Sound Transit has not yet identified the amount of New Starts funding it will seek.

    Sound Transit selected a locally preferred alternative (LPA) in July 2015, and anticipates adoption of the LPA into the region’s fiscally constrained long-range transportation plan in the first quarter of 2017. Sound Transit expects to complete the environmental review process with a Record of Decision in early 2017, receive a Full Funding Grant Agreement in 2019, and begin revenue service in 2024.”

    Then, just last November, the FTA rating assignment for this project showed the project funding as follows:

    “Total Capital Cost ($YOE): $2,165.47 Million (Includes $109.3 million in finance charges)
    Section 5309 New Starts Share ($YOE): $500.00 Million (23.1%)”

    Now Sound Transit is telling us not even a year later that the project cost has escalated to a whopping $2.55 billion ($YOE).

    Thus I suppose we are to believe that the 2016 profile figure of $1.44 billion was not inclusive of the entire capital costs (fleet expansion, OMF contribution, financing costs, etc.) and was only stated in current year dollars.

    The point of bringing this up is that the announcement this week of the $460 million cost escalation for this project is similar to the magnitude of the estimate miss with the Lynnwood Link project in that these higher costs relate to the CORE part of the project, i.e., designing and building the guideway and stations and the necessary ROW acquistion. In light of that, just like in the Lynnwood Link scenario, the estimation blunder is all that more remarkable.

    https://www.transit.dot.gov/funding/grant-programs/capital-investments/federal-way-link-extension-project-profile

    1. Interesting. Is there some legal obligation for anyone (the head of Seattle Transit or the board) to reveal information in a timely manner? I ask because it seems like if there is, there will be a lawsuit soon. This isn’t trivial stuff. It does matter when people know, since the information was revealed so close to an election. It seems quite possible that lots of people knew about the problem a few months before ST3 went to the ballot, but decided not to say anything, for fear of losing the election. I would say that fear was justified, since the result of the failings with the ST3 projects means that parts of the ST3 projects will likely be delivered very late, or not at all.

      1. Maybe it’s because the transit experience that made me avowedly pro- transit in a city the perfume of whose corruption used to be carried around the world by stratospheric winds.

        For Sound Transit’s own I purely hate the way it fights for years to defend things- like Fee-For-Wrong-Tap- that patently don’t work and needlessly insult and aggravate the system’s most loyal and fare-cooperative riders.

        And the still festering divisions in the unity that voters were promised in 1996. But I just don’t see Mayor Richard Dailey the First reflected in anybody on the Board. So for any kind of fair comparison…tell me some agencies with a better record for honesty than Sound Transit’s?

        Mark Dublin

      2. @RossB Obviously you meant to say Sound Transit in your reply above.

        “It seems quite possible that lots of people knew about the problem a few months before ST3 went to the ballot, but decided not to say anything, for fear of losing the election.”

        That’s my gut feeling as well. These kinds of escalating costs issues don’t materialize just like that. My guess is that those closest to the financing and cost estimations of the two projects were well aware of these issues before the ST3 vote.

        The following excerpt is from the Seattle Times’ coverage of the Federal Way Link matter from a few days ago:

        >>>Officials on the 18-member transit board, chaired by Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers, took the $460 million hit in stride Thursday without griping or asking many questions. Several had received personal briefings earlier in the week.<<<

        Hmmmm. So ST's public board meetings increasingly are becoming nothing more than formalities apparently.

        https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/transportation/soaring-land-and-construction-costs-push-light-rail-line-to-federal-way-over-2-5-billion/

      3. @RossB Obviously you meant to say Sound Transit in your reply above.

        Yeah, definitely. Too many ‘S’ words — they should have named it “Puget Transit” :)

  3. Oran, you get the Pulitzer for pinpoint photo-journalism. Man, how you’ve captured my own regard for the technology your pic celebrates. So here’s my answer!

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/41907438850/in/dateposted-public/

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/39685834472/in/dateposted-public/

    But for formal opening celebration:

    https://www.king5.com/article/entertainment/television/programs/evening/if-you-didnt-think-seattle-coffee-could-get-any-bougier-think-again-thats-a-thing/281-526079979

    Not gonna look up “bougier” – maybe it’s a Seattle thing we don’t get in Olympia. But it’s not a goat, and even though they call it a “civet CAT” he really looks like…Uh oh.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/43315334@N07/39685834472/in/dateposted-public/

    Pull his shot too long and a luwak will send you to Harborview.

    So your choice, Oran. Do you want to be the Voice of Sound Transit? Or are you going for Center City Connector? Whichever, Good luck!

    Mark

  4. My random musing for the open thread: when I take the morning 271 to Bellevue, the stop right at the corner of Pacific and Montlake often picks up a ton of passengers. It’s right by the UW Hospital, sure, but there’s no real housing right there. And most people look as though they are just starting their days. Where is everyone coming from? The light rail? If so, from which origin point does it make sense to go up to the 271 at UW?

    1. Naively, I’d guess it’s all the northwest Seattle buses that feed into the light rail. Maybe people from Capitol Hill Station are also transferring there, though.

    2. I’m guessing much of it is Link transfers, people coming from Capital Hill. NE Seattle bus transfers could be big – anyone leaving home on the 65 or 372, the UW Med Center is the most logical place to make the transfer even though you have to walk a bit. NW Seattle, the transfers generally seem easier at other stops, further back along the 271 route. Some of it could even be people riding bikes along the Burke-Gilman trail. I do this myself many times to catch the 540 at that same stop.

    3. I take the 271 sometimes in the evening from Bellevue to UW and transfer to Link to Capitol Hill, so I can see commuters to Bellevue using it the other way. It may be to avoid crowding on the 550, or simply because the 520 bridge has gotten a lot faster with the tolls. Now that the 271 is 15-minute frequent weekdays, it makes it a more viable alternative.

    4. I imagined Capitol Hill residents would take the 550, but perhaps going over 520 does work out to be faster.. I hadn’t thought about NE Seattle bus transfers, but people coming down on routes like the 65 totally makes sense.

      Thanks!

      1. Yeah, that’s my guess. A combination of folks from Capitol Hill as well as northeast end bus riders. The buses that serve that part of town got a huge boost in frequency to compensate for truncating the 71/72/73 routes. For CHS users, going downtown is certainly an option, but my guess is the 271 is faster and more importantly, just serves different spots. The 271 works better for some people, and the 550 works better for others.

  5. There was a radio piece this morning about a German intercity bus company in Los Angeles with $30 tickets to Las Vegas and Phoenix and fancy buses. It talked about how the American bus market is underserved, and it may be a growing thing with Millenials who aren’t getting driver’s licenses as fast as their parents. I couldn’t find the story on the NR or KUOW websites, but here’s an article last May about the FlixBus service:
    https://www.scpr.org/programs/take-two/2018/05/16/63001/flixbus-wants-to-get-la-drivers-out-of-their-cars/

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