Sound Transit Capitol Hill Station Construction: View from Kroll Crane

The Times‘ David Gutman got a rare glimpse at Uber and Lyft’s trip data for Seattle.

The data show that ridesharing is most popular in the neighborhoods ringing Lake Union (Capitol Hill, Queen Anne, Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford), many of which also have higher rates of car ownership.

Is it surprising that the inner-ring residential neighborhoods would score high for rideshare? Though close to downtown, taking transit to and from downtown jobs can be quite slow compared to, say, an express bus from Northgate or Bellevue. Capitol Hill has Link, sure, but that’s not super useful if you’re headed to, say, South Lake Union.  A three-mile trip from deep in the CD to a far corner of SLU  could involve two buses and easily take an hour (and be time competitive with walking, if there’s even a hint of traffic).   Or, if you’re trying to board a bus in Fremont or Ballard headed downtown, it might be so crowded by the time it gets to your stop that it just passes you by.

In that context, using Uber or Lyft for your daily commute is appealing, if one has the privilege to do so.  Depending on the commute, and using the shared ride feature, the monthly cost could be in the ballpark of a downtown parking spot.  It takes half as long as the bus, and you get to check email from the back seat. A smart choice for the rider, perhaps, but what is the impact to the city as a whole?

The Times piece suggests that these rides are worsening congestion, although the degree of impact is unclear.  Ridesharing and carpooling together account for about 10% of commutes into the city.  We don’t know how many of the 91,000 trips had more than one passenger, but other data suggests that it’s between a fifth and a third.  Either way, these trips are adding cars, but they’re clearly not the primary cause of traffic.

To the extent that something can be “done” about rideshare-induced congestion, clearly the answer is to get more people on the bus by implementing all of my personal policy preferences, such as making buses faster by adding more bus lanes.  And of course building out light rail throughout these neighborhoods as part of ST2 and ST3 is the long-term solution.

More immediately, though, this is an area where the Durkan administration has the right idea. Decongestion pricing – which Uber already supports! – will put a thumb on the scale in favor of other modes of transportation, allow traffic to move more freely, and generate revenue that can support more and better public transit.

Capitol Hill Crane View by Sound Transit via Flickr

53 Replies to “Uber and lyft data make the case for decongestion pricing”

  1. using Uber or Lyft for your daily commute is appealing, if one has the privilege to do so…, but what is the impact to the city as a whole?

    Bingo! The reason car share usage is high in those areas is people’s time is worth way more than the price/time trade off of taking transit. I’d also posit that many people simply don’t want to mingle with “the riffraff” on transit. As for the impact on the city; more traffic for sure but a lot less need to build expensive parking structures used for only a small portion of the day. Probably less mid-day traffic since people are less inclined to drive somewhere if they don’t have the convenience of their own iron steed at the ready.

    1. I worry more about the random drivers allowed to driver Uber, and then commit crimes against their passenger, than I do about riff-raff on a bus. So I’ll have to disagree with that part of the feeling-of-safety analysis. Also, if my ride gets into an accident, I’d much rather be on a bus than in a small car.

      1. 90% of comments about ‘riff-raff on the bus’ and similar statements are just veiled classism and racism.

      2. Brent, I’ve never used either Uber of Lyfft. Or driven for them, either. So knowing what I’m professionally looking at, very comfortable with Orange Cab.

        How bad is Uber’s reputation- and how justified? Anybody riders with experience here? I’m afraid Metro Transit’s riff is losing a lot of is legendary raff as my whole generation passes on.

        My own best educated commentary came from a seven year old passenger riding in my front bench seat on the Seven. As we accelerated to warp downhill from Jackson, he started getting more and more excited.

        “I bet this trolleybus is just like driving a space ship!” 900 series actually more like a shuttle from a newly arrived deep space ship from Mars to the transit hopeless Planet Venus.

        Breda some years into future, so the giant galactic garbage scows like in Red Dwarf were still rusted into warp.

        So best I could tell him was: “Well, it’s fun like a space-ship.” Eyes on full starlight: “And I bet you have lots of wars with space aliens!”

        Tragic truth about our planet’s desrtuction are long lost in the faraway past. Or future ,whatever. A million mile galactic caravan of starving helpless refugees from planets El Sal Vador, Hon Dur As, and Mex Ick Oh almost overran our troops from places like Wash Ing Ton. State.

        Saaaad and Unfair delays by the swamp-dwelling Old Republic almost destroyed our planet with aliens whose DNA induced them to work like earthly Dogs picking Apples for Nothing. Until with one body-slam, the magnificent Wall appeared in all its Beauty.

        The work of the El Vis Pres Ley, whose yellow wig morphed into a black respirator as his Jupiterian Galactic Girdle let him fit into the villain the cute blonde kid had an instant ago morphed into.

        Go ahead, Uber, top that! Meantime, the kid’s probably forty now. Clear to at least ride Lyfft?

        M D

      3. Brent and everybody else….For passenger experience, what IS the difference between a good taxicab and Uber?


      4. Brent and everybody else….For passenger experience, what IS the difference between a good taxicab and Uber?

        In general the biggest difference is price. I have enjoyed my rides with Lyft drivers, but occasionally they make mistakes. They simply don’t have the expertise of a trained, experienced regular cab driver. You are also a lot more likely to get someone who is incompetent or dangerous. Attacks are very rare, but there are drivers who own cars that are falling apart, or drive poorly. The funniest story I heard, though, was from my daughter who was trying to take a trip to the airport in New York (I forget which one) and the driver didn’t know how to get there. It was the airport! How do you drive a cab and not know how to get to the airport? (I don’t know if that was Lyft or Uber, but it sure as hell wasn’t Yellow Cab).

      5. In general the biggest difference is price.

        The saying, “you get what you pay for” comes to mind. The “test” which London cabbies are subject to is legendary. Around here it’s pretty much determined by the price of a cab license. That’s a barrier to entry which Lyft/Uber don’t have. People I know that drive for Uber do it as a second job. Maybe you can do that as a cab driver but certainly not as a cab owner/operator.

        Uber/Lyft is definitely “disruptive technology”. On one hand it makes not owning a car more attractive. On the other hand, it really holds public transit’s feet to the fire.

      6. Violent crime committed by drivers against their passengers is very low for cabs and Uber in Seattle, to the point where it shouldn’t be a consideration since you’re more likely to get hit by lightning on your walk to the car. But of the two, it’s Uber that is the safer ride (in this regard) as it has the fall-back safety measures in place: if you get in a cab and get robbed or killed, the driver may get away with it. If the same happens in an Uber, well, the app has logged the trip and the driver is getting away with nothing. I’ve ridden hundreds of Ubers in Nairobi, Mexico City, Cape Town, and Romania and have felt safe in all. But of only perhaps a dozen cab rides I’ve taken in those places, I have multiple times (twice, off the top of my head) experienced veiled threats to my safety (once a driver detoured through a slum where I could never have found an alternate cab, and he said to give more money or get out; another he stopped in the lane of a full-speed freeway and demanded more money) if I didn’t overpay. For an Uber driver (anywhere), they can’t get away with that even once because they’ll lose their job. Obviously Seattle isn’t Nairobi, but it’s illustrative of how personal safety in an Uber is better than a cab. One exception (though not even safety-related): an Uber driver could lie and say you barfed in their car, and you’d owe them a chunk of change with little recourse. However, even then that driver probably can only get away with lying about it once, about one passenger. Whether or not cabs are better at route-finding or better drivers is a separate issue.

      7. “90% of comments about ‘riff-raff on the bus’ and similar statements are just veiled classism and racism.”

        What? Being filthy, stoned and / drunk, smelly, you name it, has NOTHING to do with classism, racism or any other new buzzword -ism that can be made up. It’s about decency. If anyone stands up for being decent and publically appropriate, people start throwing -isms around, as if to discredit the person with an opinion (that that person doesn’t like).

        It used to be that decency was expected. Now it’s protested against.

        I’m sure I’m an -ism or an -ist if I don’t care to sit next to someone for 30 minutes who smells terrible and stuff strewn everywhere. I’ll gladly switch my seat with you. Call me what you will.

      8. Filthy/smelly/belligerent people are common on only a few routes; e.g., the E. If you’re seeing it a lot you must ride one of those routes.

      9. Decongestion pricing takes the problem of ‘riff raff’ to another level for those that can afford it. It literally removes the other slow cars from the road! The ultimate dream! A clear “lexus lane” into Seattle that is NEVER congested–a super fast car commute every single day!

    2. I commented on this but it never showed up.

      “The reason car share usage is high in those areas is people’s time is worth way more than the price/time trade off of taking transit. I’d also posit that many people simply don’t want to mingle with “the riffraff” on transit.”

      Yep, except the question of whether it’s good public policy to allow them or keep the car limit high is different from the question of how it affects individual riders because it affects everybody else too. Do we want a major part of our of our long-term transportation solution to be app-taxis or is that less than optimal? Carshares let you get there faster and in isolation, but they leave a lot of people out and slow everybody else down, so it’s essentially a luxury for the affluent, This is exactly the kind of tragedy of the commons we talked about when the price of carbon is zero. And they aren’t being used as much where they’d be the most effective and alternatives aren’t as feasible like Eastgate and Somerset, but more in inner cities which have frequent transit and walkability coming out their ears. Some of that is simply “More people = more trips”, and some of it is bona fide transit holes, but a lot of it is laziness or adversion to being with people not like you.

      The biggest takeaway from this is that SDOT/Metro need to get serious about addressing the inner-city transit holes. STB commentators have great entertainment articulating these: Capitol Hill to Ballard or Fremont, the CD to SLU, Queen Anne to the zoo, etc. I live near Pine & Bellevue and from there it’s more effective to walk — or take a bus partway and walk — to MOHAI, Swedish Central, Swedish Cherry Hill, or 12th & Jackson than to take the nominally closest buses, and long transfers and unreliability make it more so. And this is the kind of thing that drives people to Uber, in the densest part of the city.

      1. In general, my rule of thumb is that corridors that are connected in a straight line on the street grid should be connected by a straight-line, one-seat, ride on a bus. This means we need all-day buses serving Ranier Valley->First Hill and First Hill->South Lake Union. In some cases, this can be done easily enough by shuffling around exiting buses to reduce redundancy. For example, we’ve got the 9 which covers Ranier Valley->First Hill, but it’s peak-only, along with the 106’s slog into downtown, which is completely redundant with the 7 (and, for many trips, Link).

        Perhaps the two route could be combined into one all-day route, using MLK, Rainier, Boren, and Harrison to connect Renton, Ranier Valley, First Hill, South Lake Union, and (pending the opening of Harrison St. across SR-99) Lower Queen Anne. Of course, such a route would come with tradeoffs, such as people on MLK, not near a Link Station, needing to transfer to the train to get downtown.

        Fremont to Capital Hill is a whole different beast. The most direct route is already served by frequent buses. The only annoying thing about it, is all the stops, plus the need to switch buses in downtown or SLU. For that corridor, we simply need the buses on both legs of the trip to run more frequently, and faster.

        Queen Anne to the zoo is yet another category. Even though there’s not a direct, obvious road from the middle of Queen Anne to points north, treating Queen Anne like the end-of-the-line it was, back in the 1940’s, where the only way to go is south to downtown, feels very backwards. The 13 already connects most of Queen Anne to SPU, from which, it’s not that much further to continue over the Fremont bridge. Historically, the big argument against was the cost of building the trolley wire. But, today’s trolley buses have big enough batteries to make that no longer necessary. They can easily run off wire power between SPU and downtown, then switch over to battery power for the extension into Fremont. Potentially, the 13 could even continue onto the U-district, someday, as a replacement for the 32.

      2. Observation. The better the line-haul transit in any city, the more numerous the taxi cabs. Which to me now include Uber.

        In addition to the transit friendly lanes and lights, we need coordination between transit modes, so bus, streetcar, Link, and cabs is absolute best possible.

        Also think that the better all the above transit gets, the fewer cars in their way. Because Downtown Any place is a private car’s unfriendliest setting. Mostly,stuck in place and time their occupants most desperately need to be moving.

        Will definitely need some intelligent authority to get transit to the point where its advantage is beyond doubt. But if we understand the interaction between all the modes the change could start sooner than expected.

        Mark Dublin

      3. Carshares let you get there faster and in isolation, but they leave a lot of people out and slow everybody else down, so it’s essentially a luxury for the affluent

        Yep. No arguing that it costs more “out of pocket” to use Uber/Lyft than taking the bus. That’s capitalism, ugly as it may be. The opposite end of the spectrum would be a totalitarian society where everyone, except those making the rules, is treated equally bad. Animal Farm sounds pretty good until you get to the inevitable conclusion.

        That said, public transit isn’t a bad thing. Indeed, there would be no roads for cars or buses if we didn’t have government and taxes. I think we agree that transit in DT Seattle is woefully inadequate. I think we disagree on the amount and how it should be funded. The heart of this disagreement boils down to using transit funding for effective transit vs “social equity”. In a nutshell, transit sucks in DT Seattle because the biggest pool of tax money gets spread out not only to vast parts of KC where it simply can’t work but across the entire region to the point that it’s actually funding unsustainable land use practices.

        Lyft/Uber are market based options. Of course they are going to use money to try to influence public policy in their favor. With respect to congestion pricing. I can’t think of a good reason why they should be absolved of the toll charge when they cross the boundary any more than they should get a free pass on bridge tolls. As for that, the simple fact that you are a carpool means you’re splitting the cost already for a premium service so that should be charged at least the same rate.

        Pay as you go… no punitive tax just for being able to pay the piper.

      4. I don’t think Lyft and Uber are arguing that they should be exempt from congestion pricing tolls (IMHO, they most certainly shouldn’t). Rather, they are trying to advocate for a system where every car causing congestion pays the fee, as opposed to a “congestion fee” that is explicitly targeted at Uber and Lyft (or outright caps on the number of Uber/Lyft cars), while people driving downtown in their own personal cars get a free pass.

        The temptation to implement the latter category of regulation is very real. Not only is applying a congestion tax to just Uber and Lyft a lot less administrative overhead than charging everyone (e.g. no sensors or cameras required), it also plays well into the natural human instinct to look for somebody to blame, and a way to get other people’s cars off the roads, so they can drive their own car, traffic free.

        Never mind the fact that whatever traffic congestion has been caused by Uber/Lyft is dwarfed by traffic congestion caused by the general population growth, and that whatever road space were to be freed up if Uber and Lyft were to suddenly cease would very quickly be filled up by induced demand.

    3. I wouldn’t use Lyft for my daily commute, especially if I worked downtown, but you bet I take Lyft all over the place off peak. Unless you’re going downtown the shared Lyft is going to be worth the extra couple dollars almost every time.

  2. I am all for decongestion pricing as long as the pricing reflects a greater fee on for profit companies who are using public right-of-way (part of the civic commons) for revenue generation. Rideshares, bikeshare, carshares, scootershares can all pay their fair share for access and use of the public right-of-way.
    SDOT and the city are spending time and money trying to integrate these new uses into the overall management of this space. Beyond developing policy and regulation, this could well include striping, signage and enforcement of bikeshare parking areas and hopefully enforcement of rideshare traffic laws violations when dropping or picking up clients.

    1. Is a fee on bikes being considered for de-congestion pricing? Unless public bikeshare is brought back (which won’t happen any time soon), all bikes on the road are privately-owned and would likely be subject to the same per-use fee. Or are you suggesting that the exorbitant fee already charged to bikeshare companies to do business here be their de-congestion pricing buy-in?

      Same question for personally-owned scooters vs. scooter-share. I might never take advantage of scooter-share, but if scooter-share were accepted as part of the transportation culture I would seriously consider getting my own scooter.

      1. Presumably, it would not be difficult to exempt bicycle traffic. If there is even a technology that *can* implement (de)congestion pricing on bikes.

      2. Public bikeshare still exists. I saw six Lime bikes lined up at the UW Station bridge last week.

      3. Bikes don’t congest the roadways like cars do. If we want to fight congestion, we want more people riding bikes, not less.

    2. This is ridiculous. Hoarding more than your share of a scarce public resource by driving you privately owned car is obviously just as worthy of punitive taxation. (If you need to villify a corporate entity to see this truth, the fossil fuel-mongers or Auto manufacturers should do.)

  3. Sometimes I wonder if Metro bureaucrats ever visit Belltown. Are they aware of the density of housing on Western, Elliott, First Ave., etc., north of the Market? All with no bus access until 3rd. So, of course, we residents use Uber all the time. Out of necessity! Yes, we have cars, but when a destination has no parking, such as the Starbucks Reserve, then the answer is to take Uber.

    1. I can’ believe how few Belltown residents have been allowing Third Avenue to carry all the bus service through Belltown.

      I’d immediately bring buses back to First and Fifth, with First Avenue wire Downtown extended across Broad Street to join the West Queen Anne wire.

      As a “See you Soon” nod the the temporarily-suspended Waterfront Streetcar, I’d wire the Waterfront from Pioneer Square north, with Broad Street track crossing done on battery with dropped poles. Safety for grade-level crossing permitting.

      Nothing against and much in favor of Third as a major run for buses. But really wrong to make the only bus route. Another “just do it.”


  4. My general feeling is that “decongeston pricing” is too vague. What neighborhoods exactly would be covered by this plan?

    My feeling is that you wouldn’t need to cover much of downtown with congestion pricing to make an impact. Mainly the central business district and part of south lake union. The goal should really just be to let buses move in and out of downtown more quickly by preventing major intersections from getting overloaded.

    On the other hand, I think people in professions who need to haul heavy equipment to their jobs should be given a free pass, as well as disabled people. You can’t haul a van full of equipment on the bus.

    In general, I feel like Seattle could make its bus system a lot more efficient. It’s gotten a little better over time, but it seems like there are many elements that are poorly thought out and simply persist for historical reasons. Many of our bus routes simply mirror streetcar routes that existed 100 years ago.

    Actually, I moved to Pittsburgh recently, and was shocked to see how efficient their bus system is compared to Seattle’s. The bus drivers seem much better trained for one… they always open the back door, and seem to drive much more aggressively. They even open the door before coming to a stop so that people can get off immediately.

    1. Decongestion pricing will help move buses more efficiently on the margins. Red paint will help buses move a lot faster than decongestion pricing will. But this administration is taking a heckuva long time to warm up to red paint.

      Maybe what I’m saying is: If you loathe the idea of starting to pay a toll to enter downtown, tell the mayor to give buses the red-carpet treatment.

  5. I just used Uber the other day while in Panama City. Such a nice luxury for visitors to have, which makes me wonder how negatively they have impacted Seattle’s taxis? I also wonder how the convenience of Portland’s Streetcars have impacted the usage of taxis, something I never see in downtown Portland anymore.

    1. I have seen plenty of Uber/Lyft pickups and dropoffs in downtown Portland, so it’s likely the taxis were just replaced with Uber/Lyft.

    2. I hope rideshare has done a number on Seattle’s “can industry” because I remember what it used to be like riding cabs in this city. It was a nightmare. Seattle’s cabs were the worst I had ever dealt with anywhere, by far.

    3. * Taxis in Portland and Seattle operate only from defined pickup points, e.g. airport, Amtrak station, some hotels. If you’re at a restaurant away from these pickup points (e.g. Daniel’s Broiler SLU) and ask them to call you a taxi, expect to wait for a very very long time, if they even come. Uber/Lyft pick up nearly anywhere (you may have to cross the street if it’s coming from the other direction).
      * A taxi driver will ask you to get out if your trip request is a short trip (e.g. Seattle Center to Belltown). By contrast, from what my Uber driver told me, the Uber driver is not informed of the length of trip or destination until after accepting the pickup. It also doesn’t really matter to the Uber driver, they circulate continuously and just pick up a next fare. The taxi driver waits at the hotel taxi stand for an hour before getting their fare, so it better be a $50 fare to the outer suburbs or airport.

      1. In addition to all that, the pre-rideshare customer service model of cabs in Seattle was abysmal. They generally treated customers terribly, because they could (the number of licensed cabs was kept at a rate well below demand). I recall one occasion where my Sea-Tac driver was falling asleep and the wheel, veering across multiple lanes of I-5. (Thankfully it was 3:30 am). When I called his dispatcher to complain, I was laughed at and hung up on. It was also common for cab drivers to pad fares by taking the a longer route, even if it meant pretending not to understand your instructions. Complaining about that was also pointless. All the major cab companies had 1.5 stars average on yelp.

        One umanbiguously positive development from the arrival of uber and lyft is cab companies improving on the customer service front dramatically, once they had to adapt to losing their de facto monopoly.

      2. Per my above couple of anecdotes, the customer service model for taxis has not really improved.

        Add to that, the taxi driver will try to harass you into paying cash. Uber/Lyft just processes that for you and even saves you the time and hassle of running the card upon arrival at destination.

      3. Steve and djw,

        I can’t tell you how many times cabs in Seattle would pretend their card readers were broken. I said ok, I’m not paying, and I’d start to get out. Magically their card reader would come out (of course it was those olde tyme mechanical swipers that literally cannot break)

        If i needed a cab I’d also frequently call three different companies and take whoever showed up first. Sometimes it was a 10 minute wait, sometimes 40 minutes. Never knew who’d win.

        Also couldn’t just give them an intersection or business name (even something as obvious as “the showbox”) it had to be an official street address. Not fun when it’s dark, late, and drinks have been imbibed.

        I absolutely hated pre-rideshare cabbing in Seattle.

  6. What is Uber’s unspoken motive for wanting congestion pricing? Hint: Bing Is Uber exempt from congestion pricing in London?

    1. I can see why we should decongestion-price rideshare from the get-go (and why the exemption would have been done 15 years ago), but exempting the vehicles that can carry passengers in wheelchairs (which would include buses), seems like a good idea.

      Thanks for the tip.

    2. More traffic means that pickups and dropoffs are effectively further apart and deadheads are further, which is bad because Uber/Lyft don’t make much extra money when this is the case. The per minute rate with these companies is really a joke. They need their drivers to freely circulate to make the most money. Not to mention the customer dissatisfaction when the estimated arrival time is 3 minutes …but wait, it doesn’t know about the traffic on the way, so it’s more like 10 minutes. And in the end Uber doesn’t actually pay the congestion charges because they don’t own and operate the vehicles! They will probably treat it as a toll and charge the rider to reimburse the driver.

      1. Different zones for different places. Third Avenue through the CBD: Have passengers walk, and ride bus, or LINK, to stops where cars can load without blocking traffic. Which slows Uber as much as anything caught behind it.

        For presence on the road or stuck in traffic, Ride Share, after all, is one more car. Whether the driver’s at the wheel actually driving instead of texting, or somewhere in The Cloud.

        Where lane says “Transit Only”, Uber counts as something else.


  7. I wonder how Uber/Lyft fares would look if police and public transit companies started enforcing parking laws and billing the companies (or even the individual drivers) for infractions like stopping in driveways, no parking zones, and bus stops. If Metro had license plate cameras on their buses, I would be in favor of a three-strike policy against Uber/Lyft drivers who are caught blocking a bus stop.

  8. This is no surprise:

    1. Comparing best case to best case, my commute from Bellevue / Olive to Bellevue Transit Center took the same time as from there to Fremont.
    2. Facebook subsidizes(?) Lyft / Uber for its employees. I’m not sure of the exact parameters.
    3. What Deborah said — transit in west Belltown / LQA is miserable.

  9. I ran into someone once, who told me he commutes to work every day on UberPool/LyftLine, from Madison Valley to Amazon in South Lake Union. He told me his reason for doing so was that the 8 was too unreliable, jam packed with people, and horrendously slow, with every stop necessitating another round of “please move to the back”. I can believe this, as, once, I took an Uber from South Lake Union to Madison Valley on a Saturday, and ended up passing, not one, not two, but three #8 buses along the way.

    I can believe even more, seeing just how cheap the pooled rides have now become (as I write this comment, on a Saturday afternoon, Uber is quoting me a rate of $4.39 ($3.07 with 30% off promotion) from 19th/Madison to the middle of South Lake Union. As Frank alluded to, this is cheaper than what may downtown workers pay for parking, plus the fact that you don’t need to own the car, so this cost can be instead of, rather than in addition to, the car payments/gas/insurance premiums that car owners typically pay.

    For people like this, the way to get them on the bus is to give the transit the priority and frequency it needs to make transit clearly *faster* on time than UberPool – ideally, allowing the bus to make up all the time it spends loading/unloading passengers, and then some, by using dedicated bus lanes to bypass traffic congestion. For instance, let’s imagine the #8 had turned into a RapidRide of sorts, with dedicated bus lanes all throughout Denny, and off-board fare payment, like what you see with the existing RapidRide routes, and, of course, consolidated bus stops, so the bus stops only every half mile or so, rather than every single block. I could easily imagine this route being faster in rush hour than an Uber car that has to fight traffic every inch of the way – especially one that makes random detours to pick up other passengers. Sometimes, if reaching the pick-up point requires turning around or fighting additional traffic, the extra overhead of picking up a single passenger can take a surprisingly large amount of time.

  10. Maybe Seattle could use some congestion pricing to pay cops to police the rideshare driver who randomly stop in moving traffic to drop off and pick up passengers. The right lane is not a place you can just sit, people!

  11. Good example of coordination between modes. Design stops so that line haul, cabs, and ride-share can share the stops without getting in each other’s way.

    Suggest that South Lake Union building owners start hiring parking guards of their own to help with rush hour, and the Department relocating our own public guards to public transit assisting.

    Also re:Belltown. I can’t believe how few people have been actively trying to get service back on Belltown arterials besides Third.


  12. “A three-mile trip from deep in the CD to a far corner of SLU could involve two buses and easily take an hour (and be time competitive with walking, if there’s even a hint of traffic). ”

    Just throwing this out there, the way a lot of cities have handled interminable surface congestion is by building a network of subway tunnels under the city. Maybe Seattle should look into it.

    1. Actually, the trips I outlined above mostly have a northwest-southeast orientation to them, so that coincides with some of the proposals for a Metro 8 subway. Something along the lines of Ballard – Fremont – SLU – Bellevue Ave (somewhere) – First Hill – Cherry Hill – CD (Garfield HS). And then from there you could go to Judkins Park Station and Renton. It also raises the issue that maybe we should have supported more one of the original West Seattle corridors in the long-range plan: West Seattle – Jackson Street – 23rd – Denny Way – Smith Cove (- Ballard). One person proposed it in an open house and ST added it to the LRP candidates, but in the final LRP ST didn’t know who would ride it and nobody stepped up to defend it so ST deleted it.

  13. More transit only lanes are needed. More protected all ages all abilities bike/scooter lanes are needed. Scooters are needed.

    Please have no idea how fast biking from Fremont or the U district to SLU is (or can be with the proper lanes). Uphill to Cap Hill from SLU can be tough if you are not fit but electric bikes are cheaper than ever despite the idiotic Trump tariffs.

    We need to optimize streets by replacing the parking with bike/scooter lanes and wider sidewalks.

    1. A e-bike is faster than you think, when you’re talking door-to-door travel times over urban-scale distances, and is something that many people underestimate. I would not be at all surprised is a large majority over Uber/Lyft trips in Seattle could be done *faster* on an e-bike (top speed 20 mph), if SDOT would only put in the proper infrastructure to make such trips on a bike feel safe.

      Even longer-distance trips, an e-bike can easily beat the bus, and sometimes even come out ahead of a private car, if the car route involve a significant amount of traffic. For instance, on me e-bike, which tops out at 20 mph, I routinely ride from my home in the U-district to my work in Kirkland, in about 40 minutes. This is 40 minutes, door to door, regardless of traffic, headwinds, and how tired I am that particular day. By comparison, the 540 takes 40 minutes, door to door (including walk+wait time) on a good day, when everything goes just right *and* I take a Lime Bike for the first mile or so to get to the bus stop, rather than walk, or wait for a second bus.

      I haven’t tried riding from Fremont to Capitol Hill on my e-bike yet. But, I have ridden to Fremont from REI in about 15-20 minutes on a very slow, non-electric Lime Bike. So, I would expect a trip from Fremont to Broadway/John to run at about 20 minutes on an e-bike, assuming you take the Westlake Trail, and have no qualms about mixing with cars on Fairview and Denny (which is must easier to do, in the uphill direction, if you have an e-bike).

  14. Decongesting pricing could be a dream come true for the wealthiest Seattle residents who can pay their way past almost every inconvenience EXCEPT traffic. Whatever price they charge for the fast lane will be happily paid by a certain segment of commuters. I have no doubt that avoiding traffic is the frame of reference that our mayor and other city officials are seeing this through. It is an opportunity to legally drive an SOV on the red paint for a price. For the rest of us, we have to hope and pray that SDOT reinvests the revenue into improving transit downtown and does not start allowing cars in critical transit corridors.

    1. Don’t we coastal urban progressives want to tax the affluent? And invest the proceeds to improve transit for masses?

      1. Yes, that is the ideal of decongestion pricing, but what will be the reality? Will the price have a fixed cap like the 405 express lanes? How long will it take for the proceeds to be invested in transit? What happens in the interim? Will 100% of the proceeds go to transit or will they be siphoned off to other funds like the red light cameras?

  15. As a pedestrian, traffic congestion for cars isn’t all that bad of a thing. Assuming a downtown street is going to have a continuous stream of cars anyway, it is quieter and safer to have them going 5 mph in traffic, than 30 mph, free-flowing.

    I noticed this once when eating at a Toronto restaurant’s outdoor seating, in a neighborhood that superficially reminded me of 1st Ave. in downtown Seattle. The difference is that, in our 1st Ave., the cars are stuck in traffic, and crawling at 5 mph. There, everything was free-flowing and the cars were moving at around 35-40 mph. As the cars moved, the sound bounced off the walls of the buildings, creating a “sound chamber” effect. It was unpleasant enough that I went back inside to eat, even though it was quite hot inside, and they didn’t have air conditioning.

    As long a transit has a way to bypass the congestion, there is a part of me that feels it’s better to just the cars congest themselves – especially, once enough of the cars become electric that the pollution from all those idling engines is no longer a concern.

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