Link at Convention Place Station

This is an open thread

Photo by Atomic Taco in the STB Flickr Pool

72 Replies to “News Roundup: All in on Density”

  1. They are finally removing all the tubular, horizontal bracing at U-Dist Station. You can now actually see the station.

    Will probably all be gone by sometime today…

    1. Thanks for the alert. Based on what I recall from UW and Capitol Hill stations, ST is about 1 year from station completion, ie, all street level and above construction took about a year for those two I’m thinking they’re running way ahead of schedule if mid 2021 was their projection .

      1. There is still a matter of the change order to install the public stairwell between the platform and the street level.

    1. What is a Link train doing at Convention Place station? I thought the tracks that went there were the wrong gauge, so the Link trains couldn’t even physically go there.

      1. Track gauge is nothing. They rebuilt the tracks in the entire DSTT sans Convention Place (the original tracks were never actually used) when Link was built.

        The real issue was tunneling. The original plan included light rail stations at Convention Place and First Hill (at Madison and Boylston) in between Westlake and Capitol Hill stations. This proved to be extremely challenging and high-risk, due mainly to the deep I-5 retaining walls. Crossing I-5 was the most difficult part of the U-link extension because of this. They had to punch holes in the wall to get light rail through, and it had to approach the wall at a 90 degree angle (which is probably why the curvature of the track as it exits Westlake dips slightly south before turning toward I-5, so it can get through the wall and have enough distance to be well-aligned to Broadway).

        Looking at maps of the original 1996 approved route, the track between Convention Place Station and First Hill Station look like hairpin turns, especially by Link light rail standards.

    1. Seems odd she would be updating the SLU line if the plan was to cancel CCC. Maybe there is hope yet.

      1. les, my guess is that CCC will die when the whole business community on First between Pine and Jackson, most especially the Pike Place Market, all announce they’re moving to same city where Amazon is going to build its latest headquarters.

        Also when present and future passengers on both the South Lake Union and the First Hill streetcar lines lie down on the tracks at both ends of the CCC and demand the right to get off the streetcar and transfer to a bus, walk, bike or skateboard to places like Colman Dock.

        But gotta face this is a hundred percent financial. Because when passengers from the other two lines get a single seat ride to anyplace on the other line, both existing ones will bring concern along both existing ones a lot more money. Worst of all, Seattl. Hate greed.


      2. I’d gladly endorse cashing in the CCC local match for pedestrian underground mezzanine connections to Pike Place and the SLU streetcar terminus — and/or down escalators in DSTT stations.

    2. Maybe today – she’ll probably want to bury it on a Friday. I’ll be surprised if she doesn’t kill it. This is classic Seattle– study and study and study some more, then quietly kill the project.

    3. She should send out this tweet when the migrants hit the border … People of Seattle, if they can walk 1600 miles, you can walk 2 blocks. I’m cancelling the CCC. Mayor Durkin. 凸(`д´)凸

  2. Would there be any advantage to extending the 10 wire along 15th Ave E and having it join the 49? It seems like there is an awful lot of traffic on 15th north of Volunteer Park but I imagine much of that is coming from I-5 rather than across the University Bridge.

    1. I don’t think it would be worth it. It is a very low density area. It is almost all single family homes, with only a small segment of old multi-plexes ( There is also a big green belt and cemetery there.

      It would enable a connection from the 49 to the 10 that might be handy (for folks trying to go from the north end of 15th to the UW) but that is possible today, even if it involves some backtracking. There aren’t that many people who pay a big backtracking penalty because density (and destinations) decrease as the 10 goes farther north.

      It would only make sense for coverage, and it isn’t that far of a walk to the existing terminus (itself there primarily for coverage) and the 10. The long range plan for Metro ( wants to add service on Boyer, which seems like a bigger coverage hole.

    2. It’s unfortunate that the 10 fizzles out rather than having a strong anchor at both ends; that limits its ridership and as you said limits the mobility options of those at the east end. But Capitol Hill’s geography is primarily to blame: East Seattle’s trip patterns resemble a stick-shift shape, with the 11, 15, and 49, and there’s only so much a gridded transit network can do or is feasible. Especially with the large sea of single-family houses between a few density islands, which Seattle has more of and larger of than other similarly-aged cities (e.g., San Francisco, Vancouver, Chicago).

      1. … there’s only so much a gridded transit network can do or is feasible …

        I have some ideas, and so does Metro. In general I think Metro’s long range plans are great, and make a lot of sense. I would say it is better there than just about anywhere. I plan on creating a Page 2 post pretty soon that discusses many of the options.

    3. Restructuring of as many of the Capitol Hill and Central District routes as possible to end at a Link Station should eventually be done. The current system still represents a pre-Link reality except for some modest changes to serve Capitol Hill Station. With ETBs, adding wire is expensive so it should only be done once the a system restructuring is decided.

      Certainly I have my own novel ideas — like Madison BRT extended north to UW or linking more routes to pass by Judkins Park Station at 23rd after 2023. Still, it requires lots of rider analysis and public discussion before hanging wire. I think it’s best to target a restructured bus operation for 2023 and work backwards from that.

      1. See above comment:

        I think Madison BRT will result in a bigger change to the regions bus network. While Link is very important, there is only so much that can be done given the location of the only station in the region. The region I’m writing about includes every place with “East” in their address ( It is basically everything north of Jackson east of I-5 and south of the ship canal. That area has lots of bus service because it has lots of people ( Yet there is only station; while it is great from a pedestrian standpoint (in the heart of the region from a cultural and population density standpoint) it is not sufficient or even outstanding for bus transfers.

        Judkins Park Station will also help, but it lies on the outskirts of that area. The biggest problem, though, is not the relative weakness of the station(s) (from a bus intercept standpoint) but the relative lack of stations. Madison BRT — while not nearly as fast, nor connecting as well with the larger region — has a lot more stops. This will enable a lot more of a grid, as transfers there will involve a very small penalty (likely smaller than a transfer to Link). The bus will be slower (considerably) but likely just as frequent during the day, with surface to surface transfers (at worst requiring a rider to cross the street).

        It was difficult modifying network in the area following the addition of CHS. Very little was done, and moving the 10 (one of the bigger changes to push riders towards Link) has not exactly been a resounding success ( The problem wasn’t their specific plan — the problem was that any change was bound to be difficult. With Madison BRT it will be a lot easier.

      2. There is a structural bus design flaw in the current network, and the 2025 plan does not correct for this. The flaw is simple: There is no direct service to the Judkins Park Station are of many other parts of SE Seattle from the CD except for Route 106/7 (which turn at Jackson) and Route 48 (which serves only 23rd Avenue). There are a slew of other major destinations in First Hill and Capitol Hill — but every one requires transfers! These destinations require a transfer from Judkins Park unless someone is willing to hike about a half-mile or more:

        – Swedish Cherry Hill
        – Seattle U
        – Harborview Medical Complex
        – Swedish on Boadway
        – Pike Pine Corridor

        Notice about how many of these are within walking distance of Route 4 (before the 23rd construction detour/shuttle)? If Route 4 was simply shifted to operate south of the current 23rd segment past Judkins Park Station, it would provide a remarkable level of connectivity. But nooooo…. Metro wants to provide high-frequency service (Route concept 1505) only to the mostly single-family 34th and Union instead rather than send half of those buses to Judkins Park! So thousands of potential riders have to transfer because Metro feels committed to serve a handful of single-family homes with high-frequency service (and Metro knows that this segment is so unproductive that they don’t run every Route 3 bus to 34th and Union today)!


        Lets also talk about the neighborhoods east of MLK. None of them will have direct service to Judkins Park Station even though many are under a mile from the station as the crow flies. How do you get to Judkins Park from Mt Baker Beach or 31st Avenue? You have use a relatively infrequent bus to transfer to another bus before transferring at Judkins Park. A rider has to slog up to 20 or 30 minutes from Downtown Seattle to the west only to backtrack on Eastlink. That seems pretty darned inconvenient to me. A variation: Given the heavy loads on Route 7 and the likely lesser loads on Route 48, Route 7 could be two RapidRide routes

        – Maybe the proposed Route 3033 should be a two-way circle route with the layover at Mt Baker Transit Center — then Rainier to 14th to Yesler to Lake Dell Avenue to Lake Washington Blvd to McClellan returning to MBTC. The First Hill part of the proposed route east of Boren could operate as a separate route southward on Rainier to pass by Judkins Park and then end at Beacon Hill Link or maybe turn at Massachusetts to serve to proposed future unserved parts of MLK south of I-90 including the Rec center before ending at Mt Baker Transit Center.

        – Maybe the proposed Route 3033 should simply jog to/from the south at 23rd Avenue (or maybe on MLK and on Judkins Street) to go by Judkins Park Link, then use Massachusetts to get to Rainier Avenue, and continue north to again meet up with its original proposed routing on 9th Avenue across First Hill. That would give access to Judkins Park Link from both First Hill/Harborview AND from the Lake Washington neighborhoods.


        Keep in mind that Metro is proposing eliminating all service on MLK between Jackson Street and McClellan in this plan. While you may be enamored with some greatly improved service in the plan map, there are easily many that would find that the result would be to create a less useful bus service for them. That 1.3 miles of MLK bus service elimination alone is going to create controversy if Metro doesn’t adjust the plan or doesn’t pursue some major outreach.

        Sure these are my personal ideas. Just like some of you have personal ideas about routing and Metro has took an initial stab at it. I’m not convinced any of them are best. The general point is that none of these have been vetted in the community. There hasn’t been a public community process or several alternatives presented to the public to restructure buses around Judkins Park like what was done at Capitol Hill Station and UW Station. In fact, the entire map was drafted in 2015 without the benefit of knowing about the ST3 adoption with its new lines or a full undestanding of how high-frequency Link is a better transit option than slower and less-frequent Metro buses. We still don’t know what the fate of Madison BRT is! It would be like saying that the ST3 representative project is the only alternative that can be considered.

        In sum, I think that the 2015 Metro plan should be considered a useful planning document — but not a fixed bus route map for operating future every future transit route. Even the plan map itself has simple dead-ends for many of the lines indicating it’s broad nature.

      3. There are a slew of other major destinations in First Hill and Capitol Hill — but every one requires transfers! These destinations require a transfer from Judkins Park unless someone is willing to hike about a half-mile or more:

        – Swedish Cherry Hill
        – Seattle U
        – Harborview Medical Complex
        – Swedish on Broadway
        – Pike Pine Corridor

        So what? Adding buses that change directions to connect to Link at Judkins Park weakens the overall system. It means less of a grid, or less frequency (or both). It means that when transfers do occur (and they will) they are worse. Meanwhile, the only folks that would benefit greatly from that connection are those who are headed to the East Side. I don’t want to dismiss that trip, but it doesn’t represent the bulk of trips in the area. It is also redundant — if you are on 23rd, you would just take the very frequent, soon to be RapidRide version of the 48. If you are close to downtown, then it is easier to transfer there. Even at Harborview, you are probably better off heading to Pioneer Square and making the transfer there. That means it is only the folks in the middle of that run that are headed to the East Side that benefit. I just don’t see a bus like that carrying that many people.

        Metro wants to provide high-frequency service (Route concept 1505) only to the mostly single-family 34th and Union instead rather than send half of those buses to Judkins Park!

        What? The 1505 is basically the 3. Like the 3, it will have a couple different versions. One ends at 21st, while the other one extends to the 34th and Union. This allows Metro to match the route with the demand (the shorter route gets more service). The extended route is not “mostly single family”, but mostly apartments ( It is also relatively fast. The time spent picking up those riders is minimal. It is the only service to the area and connects to the 2. Metro doesn’t break down the details on the 3, but the 3 is one of the highest performing buses in our system. That little tail (taken by a subset of the buses) probably performs quite well from a rider per hour standpoint (it hasn’t dragged down the route).

        Meanwhile, Metro has basically killed off the 4.That means you have a system that is a lot more like a grid. Yes, you could modify the 4 so that it goes all the way to Judkins Park (and beyond) but I would hardly call that essential, or even a great idea. That is a bad precedent, really, and would result in several buses headed to Judkins Park, which in turn would water down the system. Lines like that make sense *after* we have a big gridded network in that area, or as peak only routes.

        Lets also talk about the neighborhoods east of MLK.

        OK, sure. That is a very low density area. It makes the eastern tail of the 3 (the one you complained about) look like Brooklyn. Of course service there is fairly weak — it is also weak in West Magnolia, and Golden Gardens. In fact it is non-existent in Golden Gardens. It is a similar area — on the coast, with mostly single family homes — yet the Sunset Hill/Golden Gardens area has no service at all most of the day, and even the express service leaves a hole close to the water (despite the presence of condos there). The east side of the Mount Baker neighborhood could have similar service (in other words, none). Now you want them to have *extra* service? Seriously?

        How do you get to Judkins Park from Mt Baker Beach or 31st Avenue? You have use a relatively infrequent bus to transfer to another bus before transferring at Judkins Park.

        Yep. Remember — these are folks headed to Bellevue, from a very low density place. They take a bus that then connects to a Rapid Ride bus. Depending on where they are, the first bus connects them to the RapidRide version of the 7 or the 48. If they are up by Leschi Park, they ride the 3033 towards downtown, and then transfer to the 48 and head south a few blocks. If they live towards Mount Baker park, they ride the bus south and catch the frequent 7 which will quickly connect to Link. Either way the first bus is relatively fast, if not frequent. But under your plan the bus would be less frequent or cover less of the area (since it would be a longer route).

        I don’t think you get the idea of the 3033. It is one of the few “local” routes in the area. That means it doesn’t run very often. It also means that folks who live in those beautiful but low density neighborhoods to the east *don’t have a direct ride to downtown*. That is the big change. They will have to transfer, yet their bus is relatively infrequent. The reason so is because there just aren’t enough riders their. It is a coverage route, and nothing more. To the east it provides service that eliminates a really long walk. In the middle, it comes within a block or two of a much more frequent route. It does manage to curve northeasterly (onto Fairview and Eastlake) which may be the saving grace of that route. By doing so it will attract people from Eastlake and the UW (via the RapidRide version of the 70) to Pill Hill. The eastern tail is very weak, and is carried along by a route that is generally weak; making it longer will cut into its presumably not great frequency. If you make it longer, or more frequent, or otherwise modify it to connect to East Link, everyone loses. The money has to come from somewhere, which means *more frequent, more popular* runs end up with less service.

        A rider has to slog up to 20 or 30 minutes from Downtown Seattle to the west only to backtrack on Eastlink.

        I honestly don’t know what you are talking about. If you are downtown and want to go on East Link you will access it via a downtown station. If you are close to downtown you catch a bus headed towards downtown. If you are on one of the major corridors, like Boren, Rainier, 12th or 23rd, you will use that very frequent bus to connect to East Link. If you happen to be in between corridors, you will transfer to the frequent bus (or just walk to the frequent bus). There just aren’t huge numbers of people in between those corridors headed to the East Side.

        Keep in mind that Metro is proposing eliminating all service on MLK between Jackson Street and McClellan in this plan.

        Yeah, I’m not thrilled with that idea either. There are other small tweaks here and there I don’t like as well. The point is, this proposal is way better than anything Metro has proposed, ever. Holy cow, man, just look at it! It is a grid! A real grid with frequent service along every major corridor, including those that run 45 degrees from other corridors. That is not an easy thing to pull off, and the results would be dramatic. It is easy to look at that map and see how you can get *anywhere* in the region fairly easily. It is a huge change, a dramatic change, and it is crazy to undersell their proposal. Of course it should be vetted. Of course their are little tweaks here and there I want to change. But overall it is outstanding, and would result in a huge improvement in transit mobility for that region.

        In contrast, the proposal for the northeast end of Seattle is either outdated (the Roosevelt Rapid Ride won’t go to Northgate) or uninspired. It ignores the huge time sink that is Northgate Transit Center, and the fact that while in the past it was hugely important as a way to get downtown, it will be less so as time moves on. Being next to the freeway — right by an express lane entrance — used to be a huge advantage. Now it is meaningless. What matters is how long it takes to get to the station, as well as what you can also gain by sending a bus there.

        The proposal for the east part of Seattle — while not perfect — seems to grasp that idea and apply it to great advantage.

      4. “Keep in mind that Metro is proposing eliminating all service on MLK between Jackson Street and McClellan in this plan.”

        “Yeah, I’m not thrilled with that idea either.”

        It’s five flat blocks from MLK to 23rd there. The part of MLK that needs a separate route is north of Marion where there’s a steep hill up to 23rd.

      5. I think it’s important not to get far into the weeds. The bigger point is that the Metro 2025 scenario has not been vetted by the public or current riders. Probably no one that uses that eliminated route segment on MLK or on Walker Street knows that Metro proposes to take away the service. Not many have pondered how the 23rd entrance will be essentially a “new” Link station for many. Metro doesn’t highlight or easily hyperlink the Metro 2025 or 2040 maps so an interested member of the public can’t quickly find them or be aware of them unless they are Metro planning junkies. It’s very obscure.

        Finally, the developers know that the new station entrance will change the area. There are many, many new townhomes in various stages of completion along MLK along the segment proposed for elimination. It may not be Capitol Hill but it’s certainly on a path to be much denser than many other single-family Seattle neighborhoods that will still have service after 2025.

        Finally, anyone who thinks that additionally walking from MLK to 23rd is easy looks silly and possibly prejudiced if they are outraged about Link stations at 14th rather than 15th in Ballard or 41st versus Fauntleroy in West Seattle — especially when the remedy is significantly cheaper.

      6. 14th is about walking from an urban village at Ballard Ave and 24th. For the village to meet its potential it should have a station a 5-minute walk away, and 15th is already stretching it. Because the scale of walking to the station should be similar to the scale of walking within the village. That’s what makes it a walkable village or a “streetcar suburb”.

        MLK is all residential and lower density, so people aren’t coming from a pedestrian concentration but diffusely from everywhere. I’ve ridden the 8 and only one or two people get on or off between Mt Baker Station and Madison Street, and then it’s sparse again between Yesler and Madison. So the primary walkshed you’re talking about is between MLK and 23rd, which is five blocks. And a fringe up to 30th, or nine blocks. Again there’s no village there, just houses. That’s part of Seattle’s problem; it has so much low density around its village islands, as compared with San Francisco, Vancouver, and Chicago that have corner stores and multifamily/rowhouses throughout the gridded bus routes, so there are more people always going to/from all the stops. Townhouses might make a difference, but they are isolated (not in a village) so the people who choose them will more likely have cars and not ride a bus even if it’s there, and that saps your ridership. But you’re right that the segment has not yet been given a public evaluation, only comments to a long-term plan, which a smaller number of people see. So it will have to be evaluated against other factors when a concrete proposal comes out.

      7. >> The bigger point is that the Metro 2025 scenario has not been vetted by the public or current riders.

        Of course it hasn’t. I never said otherwise. Metro has never made a change without vetting it. That was never my point, and I have no idea why you thought I was favoring such a ridiculous and unprecedented notion. Any proposal will be vetted, and even the initial proposal released to the public may look nothing like the LRP.

        My point is very simple, whether you want to get into the weeds (as you and I both did) or just look at the big picture. This plan, for this area, is by far the best proposal Metro has ever made. That is my claim, and I’m sticking to it.

        It is better than other areas. It is better than the previous restructure plan for the area (that was largely rejected, except for the modification to the 10, which has turned out to be a failure). It is better than the proposals north of the ship canal, which did get implemented.

        It is better because it builds a real grid that *does* take advantage of the new station without bending and curving every bus route in the region to serve it. That is the part of this that is easy to ignore. While this station is weak from a pedestrian standpoint, it is great as a bus intercept stop. It manages to connect to the two main corridors in the area (Rainier Avenue and 23rd). Rainier is important in its own right, but since Boren essentially merges with Rainier, having a station on that street means you can connect to that major corridor as well. The only drawback is that it doesn’t serve MLK, which is why Metro bent the bus route to serve the station. This turn is a trade-off between connecting with Link (which it does) or providing closer service. But many of those people who won’t have service will simply walk to a station or bus stop anyway, and the numbers are relatively small between I-90 and Rainier (as Mike said). You can see by looking at a map, that while there are plenty of apartments (and duplexes, etc.) close to MLK, they manage to be close to either Judkins Park, Rainier or 23rd as well. (

        Of course there are minor changes that folks want to make. I’m not different. I’m just saying that as a starting point, it is outstanding. It would represent a huge improvement in transit mobility for the region.

    4. Metro’s 2025 plan has UDistrict-Beacon route on Broadway-John-12th, a downtown-Madrona route on Pine-12th-Union, a 8 SeaCtr-MadPark route on Denny-John-Madison, and two coverage routes on Olive. The 10 is left as-is because it’s hard to do anything different, and the ridership really is from northern 15th to downtown.

      1. I don’t think the internal 2025 plan goes far enough to take advantage of Judkins Park Station’s 23rd Avenue entrance. At trains every 8 minutes and a quick entry/exit at 23rd and just about 3 minutes to ID/Chinatown station, it’s going to be a wonderful, transformative option.

        Metro’s 2025 plan is a good start, and a good way to forecast capital needs and service hours. However, it does need many hours of open discussion to move it from an internal scenario to reality.

      2. I don’t think the internal 2025 plan goes far enough to take advantage of Judkins Park Station’s 23rd Avenue entrance.

        How so? Metro’s LRP has Rapid level buses running along 23rd and Rainier. Those two buses (variations on the 7 and 48) will run quite often and reasonably fast (if it goes according to plan). For the bulk of people who live south of the freeway it means a solid, frequent, fast connection to Link (better than Mount Baker). They also add the 1074, which is a great route in its own right: Rainer Beach/Rainier Avenue/Boren/South Lake Union/Denny/Lower Queen Anne. That is simply a great bus line, and a solid Link connection is a bonus.

        I’m not sure what else you can do. If you are north of I-90 and east of I-5, then you are either close to 23rd or you are not. If you are close, then you can take the bus south, then take the train. If you are headed downtown, this is a reasonable thing to do, although quite often, you would be better off just taking the bus downtown (depending on your final destination, and tolerance for transfers). If you are headed south, then you will just stay on the bus until you get to Mount Baker Station (such as it is) or your bus based destination. Nothing has changed, really. For trips that involve East King County (Bellevue, Redmond, etc.) it is world of difference; for those along 23rd it gives them another option, but that is about it.

        I suppose you could modify the routes in that region to bend towards the station (the way that bus routes bend towards Northgate station, and probably always will) but that would be silly. That would muck up the grid, and for many, be pointless. It wouldn’t result in a faster trip to downtown, and there are only so many that are headed to the East Side. If I’m at 18th and Union, for example, I’m taking the 2, or Madison BRT. At 12th and Jefferson, I’m slogging with the 3/4 (hoping they really do solve the mess close to the freeway). It is only when I’m on Yesler and Jackson that I regret the frequency of my bus, and think there must be a better way. But bending the 27 or 14 towards that station would only result in less frequency, not more. This isn’t U-Link — there is no truncation to be had. You could leave out areas, but that is true with any restructure — folks on those buses are simply closer to downtown then they are the station.

      3. It’s possible that Judkins Park Station gives a reason for the 4 to exist. That should be explored when a concrete proposal comes out. When you say more access to Judkins Park Station, i tend to think of a route from the Broadway & Pine area to there, but I can’t think of how such a route would work and I worry it would have low ridership. It would essentially be the opposite of the 43, which went east and north: this one would go east and south. The 8 sort of does it, and maybe this also gives a reason to keep the 8 in its current Denny-MLK form. But that would dash the plans to make the 8 into a Denny-Madison route to replace the 11. (Which in 2040 is upgrade to RapidRide.) As for people east of MLK near Judkins Park Station, there aren’t many of them there.

    5. Glenn, I agree with what I think you’re proposing, but I think the streets are too narrow and the curves too tight. There’s a cross street running along the south end of Volunteer Park that might work- but not sure it’s be worth itl

      But on subject of trolleybuses, would agonize less about funding for Madison Street, and like we did with DSTT, rapidify it in stages. Lanes inexpensively reserved. Signal preempt.

      And regular trolleybuses. And since Madison is already electrified, what’s problem with adding another set of wires and using trolleybuses? What extra use are hybrids? Let’s panic about not getting money for something we can at least kick off ourselves?


      1. Madison is not electrified east of 19th. Madison RR was going to wire it to MLK, but then SDOT decided that battery buses are the new coolness and didn’t want to miss out on being hip. And now that battery buses have proven inadequate for Madison’s hills, they seem reluctant to fall back to trolleybuses, or maybe they forgot about them. Probably because of the cost of the wire. But it’s a shame though. Trolleybuses look almost like streetcars, and the wires clearly show where the bus goes.

      2. I believe that the company (New Flyer) was reluctant to provide trolley buses (not hybrid trolley buses). Or at least big trolleybuses with doors on both sides*. None of the features are that difficult (powered by overhead wire, 60 foot, dual sided doors) but apparently the combination is. My understanding was they didn’t want to do that for a relatively small order.

        It is frustrating, because Seattle wants to buy a bunch of those buses. But without a solid order, and with questions about future orders (due to political instability in the U. S.) the company doesn’t feel it is worth it.


      3. I thought it was battery-powered buses that couldn’t meet the requirements, but I guess it was trolleybuses. The biggest thing I’m concerned about is that, whatever technology they choose, it must be able to run at full speed on Madison. One of the great promises of Madison RR is that it would eliminate these 30-minute trips from 3rd to 12th, and I don’t just want it to be good, I want it to be excellent. Let’s finally set an example in Seattle of what bus transit can accomplish. Once people see it on the ground and experience it, they’ll demand it on other corridors. That’s what happened to Link: many people thought it would be useless or worse, especially in Rainier Valley, but after it opened and people tried it, a lot of that opposition turned to support within a few years, and then demands for rail in their neighborhood. If Madison RR reaches its stated goals (5 minutes from 1st to Broadway; 5 minutes from Broadway to 23rd or MLK), it may help break the impasse on getting transit/BAT lanes on 45th, 23rd, Rainier, etc.

      4. I have mixed feelings about the thing. On the one hand, I think it is very important that we get the foot in the door. Just getting the right of way and sending buses up there would make a big difference. Eventually we could get better buses.

        On the other hand, I see a lot of potential problems. As you suggest, the buses better be fast. Second, what do we do with diesel hybrid buses *with doors on both sides* when they are replaced? I suppose we could carve out some center running bus routes for an express (like the E) and that would be wonderful. But I’m not sure where that would occur. For the most part, the center running spots are where they will run wire. Electric buses that can run for a while off wire just make a lot more sense in areas popular enough to justify center running. I suppose you can always just ignore the other doors (they don’t really hurt) but that seems like a waste.

        I think the solution is to double down on the wired buses with doors on both sides. We need to increase the order, so that New Flyer is willing to serve us. But do that would probably require another levy, and that would bring up the far more controversial streetcar idea. It is one thing to complain about funding, and cancel the streetcar for that reason. It is another to simply state it is a stupid idea, and that we are better off with center running buses there, connected to a much larger area. The latter requires a level of sophistication with regards to transit that is rare, if not unheard of in these parts (at least from the politicians).

  3. The September 2018 Sound Transit Ridership Report was released recently.

    Monthly Link ridership was up 2.8% versus September 2017, while weekday ridership was up 4.5%.

    ST Express monthly boardings fell 4.0% versus September 2017, and fell 1.1% on weekdays.

    1. I was just looking that over the other day. It appears that ST is still loathe to use the red ink on these reports when warranted. Lol.

      Nevertheless, Link ridership may not make its 2018 target based on where things now stand and the trend for ridership to drop off toward the end of the year. They will need stronger ridership numbers in November and December to reach their target of 25, 200,000 annual riders. As you recall, last year ST barely hit their target for riders per trip on Link.

      Any special events coming up to potentially boost ridership? (The Washington-Washington State game is in Pullman this year.)

      1. Tlsgwm, how long has Link existed? Nine years? Do know one subway line carrying literally a whole city full of passengers on its first day.

        But that was because ’til the line opened, you couldn’t even walk up and down Broadway due to people-gridlock.

        What I’m saying is that while of course passenger loads should be noted and evaluated, could be a little early for an epitaph announcing a life of either success or failure.


    2. I wish they would do without the monthly figures, and just compare average weekday numbers. Half the text in the report is explaining how the numbers are only down because this September had one fewer weekday. Even the weekend numbers are misleading. They should just average them, since Saturday numbers are up, while Sunday numbers are down (for Link and ST Express).

      In any event, weekday ridership is up for Link, but down for ST Express, while Sounder is basically flat.

      As far as missing targets go, the ST express numbers seem most concerning. They expected ridership to be above what it was last year, but it turns out it is down. They expected Link and Sounder numbers to increase more, but at least they increased.

      1. I wish they would do without the monthly figures, and just compare average weekday numbers.

        I partially disagree. For a mostly peak hour, inter-city service like Sounder, I agree that weekday boardings are the best measure of a service. For an all-day, primarily intra-city service like Link, both numbers are useful for understanding how well the service is designed. If people use it only for their weekday commute, and drive for the rest of their trips, that’s a sign that it’s been poorly designed. The one caveat here is that Link is still rudimentary (and arguably still will be for Seattle residents even after ST2 and ST3 are built out)- Metro has about 5x more riders- so major events like Huskies/Seahawks/Mariners/Sounders games can bring about substantial fluctuations in weekend ridership.

      2. If you read the rest of the paragraph, you can see that I also support showing average weekend numbers. The main thing is, show averages, not total number. Average weekday, average weekend, even average Saturday and Sunday by themselves. They are simply burying the lead. Average weekday numbers are likely the best data point, because they are fairly consistent. There are a lot of them each month, and while they go up and down seasonally, all the September weekdays in 2018 should be similar to all of those in 2017. It means we can spot trends (e. g. ST Express heading slowly down, while Link continues to add riders).

        Weekend numbers are more likely to fluctuate wildly, which is why one month’s data is bound to be misleading. You just don’t have enough data points. At best I think you can average them (which is why I suggested Saturday and Sunday be averaged). You will still get a lot of fluctuation, but that is understandable.

        The whole point is that average weekday, average weekend, average Saturday and average Sunday (for those willing to dig into it) are all fairly clear. But monthly numbers are not.

    3. Most noteworthy is the reckless assumption that Link growth will continue at double digits until the next extension opens. Outside of feeder route restructuring or maybe adding short trains at between Stadium and UW (3-4 minute combined frequencies for the segment), it’s not likely.

      UW students were a large component of the U-Link ridership increase. Students are pretty quick to change modes as they aren’t locked into years of other choices so they hopped on Link quickly after UW station opened. However, they are now already riding Link rather than other lines and won’t be increasing the total ridership like in 2017. Most of 2018 Link weekday averages are in the 4-7 percent increase range.

      1. The current and ongoing growth defy assumptions, so why should we assume we know when it will end. The advocates against upzoning argued in 2011 that enough new housing was opening that year to saturate demand and stop the rent increases. They said that again in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, and every year they were wrong. It only started to slow down in 2017, and it’s too soon really to say whether the the 2018 leveling will last or will be gone by next year.

      2. Mike, there are only 2 of 9 reported months in 2018 that show more than a 7 percent ridership increase and only 1 over 10 percent (slightly). At this point in 2018, it’s fact and not conjecture.

      3. Prior to U-Link opening, Link average weekday ridership growth was about 4-5K each year that you mentioned. In 2018, it’s still about 4-5K each year. It’s the same numerical growth but a lower percentage growth.

        I’m just saying that — because students comprise many of the U-Link riders — the growth trend should not be extended to assume that they will continue to add lots more riders each year into the future until more stations open.

      4. @Al.S,

        Link ridership growth has been surprisingly strong over the last 9 years, but in your attempt to cast shade on future growth projections you neglect to consider what is actually happening on the ground in Seattle in the near future.

        In early 2019 the viaduct will close for good. For about 3 weeks there will be no viaduct and no replacement. The last time that happened rail ridership surged and bus ridership slumped. While this period is only temporary some riders will undoubtably stick with the better mode.

        When the DBT opens there will be a great sound of gnashing teeth as everyone sorts out their new commute. Link will be unaffected, ridership will grow.

        When they put the toll on the DBT there will be more gnashing of teeth. City streets will be clogged, I-5 will slow to a crawl, buses will move at a walking pace. But Link will be unaffected, ridership will grow.

        Somewhere in all this buses will be kicked out of the DSTT. Buses will slow down, Link will speed up and reliability will improve. Link ridership will grow.

        Add in a few restructures, maybe a turnback line for Link, blah blah blah.

        So ya, I think it is nice that you think you know what the future holds, but I don’t really think any of us can predict the next few years within a couple of percent. All we can say for sure is that all the changes coming at us will favor increased Link ridership.

        It is going to be a fun ride (on Link, on the other modes not so much)

      5. Again, the people who predicted the housing supply increase would catch up with population growth were wrong for five years in a row. The people in the mid 2000s who predicted a recession were wrong repeatedly until they were right. The people who predicted a recession in the past four years because the boom has lasted unusually long were wrong too. Why should we assume Link ridership is any different. We know that at some point ridership will flatten out, but it’s useless to predict when. It’s better to predict current trends will continue, especially because we don’t understand all the reasons it’s happening now. When it turns around, we’ll know then.

      6. What I mean is, we can attribute some of Link’s growth to population increase and demographic shift in the areas that have Link, and changes in the job market, and worsening congestion, and extensions in the densest areas opening. This gives a larger number of people total, a larger number of people within a mile of Link stations, a larger percent of jobs in sectors where people are more favorable to transit (i.e., tech jobs), and worsening alternatives. And winning streaks by the local sportsball teams. But there also seems to be an arbitrary factor, “popularity”. For some reason many individuals are deciding now that the like Link or it’s good enough. Why do they start feeling that at a certain moment, rather than earlier or later? The service was the same throughout, but at some point people just get comfortable with it and are willing to use it. Some people take longer to get to that point than others, and we really have little understanding of what will be the trigger for different people when. It also depends on what else is happening in their lives: switching to a job closer to Link, their car breaking down or getting so old it needs expensive repairs, children being born or moving away from home, changes in their relatives’ health so they visit them more regularly, etc. All these and more are what’s driving Link’s ridership, and we can only predict some of it. Over fifty years we can say “all of it will happen”, and we can also speculate that SOVs will become much less popular during that time, but predicting a long-term trend is easier than predicting exactly how much it will occur each year.

      7. I guess folks like Lazarus either know more than the “prognosticators” at Sound Transit or ST is deliberately sandbagging their own light rail ridership forecasts.

        Per the 2018 SIP Five Year Service Outlook & Plan:

        Annual Boardings –
        2018 – 25,200,000
        2019 – 26,400,000 (+4.8%)
        2020 – 27,300,000 (+3.4%)

        Ave Weekday Boardings –
        2018 – 78,700
        2019 – 82,400 (+4.7%)
        2020 – 85,200 (+3.4%)

      8. Thanks for reasearching and pointing that out, Tlsgwm. I’m relieved that the SIP is more conservative about ridership growth before 2021.

        The way that Link extensions get fed by local and express buses will affect ridership — possibly being as much as 30 or 40 percent of new Link riders. As other operators are doing short-term planning, their assumptions need to be I in sync with ST openings. That’s why I keep arguing for a public process to begin now — especially in areas that have trolley wire.

      9. “UW students were a large component of the U-Link ridership increase.”

        It’s the network effect. When a town with two neighborhoods gets telephone service in one neighborhood, if gets X number of calls within the neighborhood. When the second neighborhood gets telephone service, you get more than 2X calls because not only will the people in the second neighborhood call each other but they’ll also call people in the first neighborhood, and people in the first neighborhood will call people in the second neighborhood. UW students exist in Roosevelt and Northgate too, and they’re as eager to ride Link to UW as people in Rainier Valley are. And they’ll also go downtown and to the stadiums and Pioneer Square bars. East Link on top of that will suddenly make a Ballevue-Roosevelt trip convenient, so they’ll be doing that among others.

  4. Thank you Rob Johnson for your service!!! It’s been great to have somebody on the council who’s really motivated by pro-transit and urban issues and willing to stand up for them. You were a pioneer, and hopefully others will be able to build on it and we won’t regress. I have a feeling you were beaten down too much by the relentless NIMBYs and finally gave up, and I’m sad about that. We need more people on the council like you.

    1. If the rest of the council goes, then maybe there will be room for actually good candidates.

      And from what I’ve read, it has nothing to do with “NIMBYs” as you call them. But of course you could read into it whatever you want.

      “Johnson promised his wife he would stay in the job only four years, he said.

      “That was a conversation Katie and I had early on,” said the council member”

      1. Some of the council members are pretty good candidates.

        And a lot of people who are called NIMBYs really are NIMBYs. They don’t want anything built near them. That’s literally a basic fact.

      2. “Johnson promised his wife he would stay in the job only four years, he said.”

        That may be true, but many people say they’re stepping down from positions to spend more time with their family, and it’s often to avoid saying more controversial reasons they have.

    2. The conversion to district council seats was intended to give NIMBYs more control over the over the planning process. Their geographer drew the district to maximize the number of single-family houses in each district and pack multifamily areas into the smallest number of districts. But the opposite happened in the first two elections, with urban-friendly councilmembers winning decisively. Johnson was one of those, and in my mind the most dedicated and successful. But with the watering down of the 65th & 35th NE projects and Johnson’s resignation, I’m worried that it may start turning around. It remains to be seen whether the next term of councilmembers is as pro-urban as the current one. Maybe they will be, because they voted for pro-urban councilmembers and Durkin in 2016. (Although now I’m not so sure where Durkan stands, But that may be the point, if it turns out that she’s the first in a trend of less committed councilmembers/mayors. But is she less committed? She’s allowing the previous mayors’ plans to continue, with the possible exception of the CCC. But she won’t affirmatively declare her definite support for the full transit plans and maximum HALA, or at least something equivalent. I wish she would articulate her goals and priorities.)

      1. Well, she has articulated that she wants to get the budgets lower, but that’s more of a “how” issue than a “what” issue. The question is, what kind of transit and land use does she think the city should have, what does she think the city government should do to get there, and how committed is she to making them happen? Or is she really just concerned with levels of spending, whatever the spending does?

      2. I would observe that district representation is motivated by the lack of go-to council members when they were all elected at-large. After all, Seattle was the second most populous city in the country with an at-large council.

        With district elections, a citizen knows the elected official who to hold accountable for localized issues ranging from park maintenance to bad street environments to crime waves. That provides an important check to bureaucratized departments.

        Further, those without a car don’t often (if ever visit) many other parts of town. District elections give more relevance to those citizens and possible future candidates. If you want to encourage car-ownership-free lifestyles, you should more embrace district elections.

        In sum, I’m glad Seattle “grew up” and shed it’s at-large “clothes” that were designed for smaller cities where citizens and council members more likely knew each other and knew all parts of town.

      3. By “at-large” council, I mean totally at-large. Columbus is the city larger than Seattle with one.

  5. Lawsuit against Greyhound ($) for allowing ICE officials to stop buses and conduct passenger-by-passenger immigration inspections on domestic bus runs without a warrant. The suit is specifically over a run from San Diego to Phoenix. The plaintiffs argue Greyhound is voluntarily complying with requests it’s not legally obligated to. Greyhound says it’s not volunteering, but looking out for the safety of drivers and passengers who might be at risk if the driver tried to stop a federal check.

    1. Greyhound, nobody’s asking your drivers to try and stop a Federal check. Though can see passengers desperately waving to ICE to come throw them in a van rush them to more humane detention.

      Last Greyhound ride, and I mean no more ever, the two drivers’ passenger-treatment would’ve gotten them fired from California Department of Corrections. As one travel article put it: “Bus travel used to be freedom. Now Greyhound is being in jail. ” They also thought they were funny. Fiends.

      Bringing a huge delegation of the younger generation of dictators who thought he was their friend right now at the gates of the White House, demanding that the author be arrested for slandering their own secret police as sissies. New President of Brazil just plugged himself into a sidewalk lamp.

      Only to discover that present occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania had just jumped off a bus being waved through with a smile at a checkpoint, and as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, commanding ICE to separate him from his every relatives, lose all his papers, and confine him at a crocodile-infested detention that doesn’t even know its own location.

      Where he’ll be safe to Twitter to the whole world he’s finally discovered who is really to blame for his every official action since he announced his campaign. With Greyhound protesting how much they’re not getting credit for.

      Incidentally, was humiliated standing beside the bus I’d just escaped from pathetically searching my pockets and luggage for my scraper to get the Flag of our Country off the Side of the rolling death-row cell. Luckily, couple of Security came up, thanked me for my service, and handed me theirs.

      And understood I was only kneeling in thanks to God for being alive to see another Fourth of July weekend.



  6. Good article on where your rent check goes! Thanks for that link. There is a lot of misconception on who profits and by how much. And without investors you don’t have new apartments. Very good read based on facts and data, not emotions.

  7. Would there possibly be any merit to exploring a cost-sharing agreement between BNSF and Sound Transit to jointly build and share operating costs for a higher fixed span to replace the Salmon Bay crossing and add enough capacity for both kinds of rail? My Cities:Skylines play experience qualifies me to imagine that consolidation could be less costly overall than two separately built crossings … but then there are no complicated federal funding formulae (or other real life reasons to say “no”) in C:S.

    1. You’ll never get a fixed span there.

      If necessary, light rail can climb 7% grades or more. SoundTrsnsit wants to limit it to 5%.

      BNSF wants its main lines as close to dead flat as possible as it costs money for a freight train to climb a hill. You’d need something like the Hughy P Long bridge (22,000 feet long) to get there, and looking at demolishing every bridge over the tracks for at least a mile south of Salmon Bay.

      Since the Burke-Gilman trail is right next to the main line at the bridge, it would be nice to see a bike path attached to the new bridge though.

    2. The BNSF line crosses at the far west end of Ballard. Link is certainly not going to be routed that far out of the way.

      Nor do I see an easy way for the BNSF bridge to cross somewhere well to the east. It would then have to get back over to the coast.

  8. The SLUT already has “exclusive” ROW approaching Mercer, which does nothing because it’s not enforced. And it’s not just a car or two violating the exclusive ROW; the entire half block of ROW is typically full of violators using it as a second right turn lane onto Mercer.

    I’m going to guess that extending the “exclusive” ROW for another block and a half is going to also do absolutely nothing, because Seattle won’t bother to enforce it.

    If they were serious, they would throw some enforcement cameras along the ROW and either solve the illegal usage problem or make a killing.

    1. I think a state law prevents using cameras for transit lanes. Something about the law being designed for cars lanes.

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