23 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Bus Driving Workshop”

  1. If you look closely at the Aurora bridge, you’ll notice that every time a bus goes by, they actually straddle two lanes because the lanes, as marked are too narrow, with the right lane, right up against a wall, and the left lane having no separation from oncoming traffic, except a yellow center line.

    It would improve safety immensely if SDOT could restripe the bridge to carry just two lanes in each direction, using the excess space to add shoulders on each side, along with a concrete barrier in the middle.

    Not doing this is a classic case of prioritizing car throughput over safety, except that with peak-hour buses going over the bridge at least every two minutes, every one of them taking up two lanes, the throughput benefit of three lanes over two is just fiction, nowadays anyway. As to the bottleneck of having 3 lanes merge to two right before the bridge, if that 3rd lane is a bus-only lane on the rest of Aurora (outside the bridge), then only the buses have to merge, so the traffic impact is not so bad, nor is there significant bus delay because, since their lane is only buses, they’re always at the front of the line.

    1. Wasn’t there a proposal to remove the narrow sidewalk, add a walkway suspended underneath, and use the extra space for barriers and wider lanes?

      1. I never heard of such a proposal, but replacing the narrow sidewalks on each end with a wider one handing underneath would be a major improvement for pedestrians. Unfortunately, it would also be quite expensive. Simply substituting 3 narrow lanes with 2 wider lanes, and adding shoulders and a center barrier would be much cheaper.

      1. I read the article. The root problem here is the unwillingness to reduce the number of car lanes over the bridge from 3 to 2. It completely ignores the fact that, with buses crossing the bridge every couple of minutes, stradding two lanes each, you effectively have just two lanes per direction, anyway. Their discussion about the traffic impacts of merging from 3 lanes to 2 before the bridge can be solved by making the right-hand lane of Aurora, outside the bridge bus-only, so only buses actually need to merge. This is already the case southbound, but not northbound. It’s fixable with nothing more than paint.

        The article also discussed the possibility of a movable barrier that would leave 3 wider lanes in the peak direction and 2 in the reverse direction, but I think it’s overly complicated, and not worth the extra cost. A simple 2-lane configuration both directions also allows for wider shoulders, perhaps even a widening of the sidewalk by a couple of feet.

      2. Easy solution: as stated above, make the outside lane bus-only on approach to the bridge. Add solid barrier down the middle, with two 11ft lanes on each side. This would leave enough space to add another barrier on one side and create a protected MUP for cyclists and pedestrians.

    2. I would propose a slightly more complicated restructure:

      Southbound, I think you need all three lanes. Southbound in the morning always seems worse than northbound in the evening. There’s enough people merging on from Fremont Way and exiting at the 6th and Dexter exits, that forcing them to merge instead of giving them the third lane would aggravate traffic even more.

      Northbound, reduce to two lanes. Approaching the bridge, make the third lane exit only to 6th. The 6th on ramp would have a short slip lane for accelerating and merging onto the bridge. Give them a ramp meter to replace the existing stop sign. The third, northbound BAT lane would begin again at the Bridge Way exit.

      So with three southbound and two northbound lanes, there’d be room for slightly wider lanes and a barrier, albeit with not quite the clearances required for a center barrier, but would be safer than the existing conditions.

    3. Not just the buses. I see every class of vehicle doing this on a fairly regular basis. Most of it on accident I’m sure but the effect is still the same. 3 lanes acting as 2.

      The fact that they didn’t do this immediately after that duck crash tells us they will never do it.

    4. On 22nd W through Magnolia they have to do this too – only they have to split into oncoming traffic there!

      But nobody will ever give up their street parking to make the road wider through there.

  2. I’m glad to see that non-drivers that do planning are getting this perspective! It should be done annually — and planning or engineering staff from any King County city should be open to attend.

    Now if only elected officials that oversee transit agencies would also get this experience.

    Now if only drivers were given a seat at the Stakeholders table for the current ST corridor studies.

  3. SDOT, your first premise is wrong. And County Executive Constantine, and Mayor Durkan, and Transportation Transportation Secretary Millar, please tell SDOT, andWSDOT to deal with road-use-competition like this.

    Leave SR99 north transit free and tolled. At least to 85th Street. It’s already earned its “SR”. With passenger transit confined to its own intrusion-preventing barrier-separated lanes along curb-side for same length, with lane and signal improvements of parallel arterials.

    Major goals met. Car traffic, much faster. Increased speed and reliability for transit. So only beneficial: free choice between transit modes that all work. Bicycle community: am I right that close-headway rack-fitted buses will find this acceptable?

    Mean-time. Both Metro Transit and Seattle Department of Transportation have authority to “Detail” employees. Suggest at least six months driving buses, and streetcars, at rush hour. And as transit operators sometimes are, detail equal number to administration and planning. Exchange program, language and all! Even take it international.

    Sorry, STB but these kids must realize.There Are Some Things That SDOT was Never Meant to Know But has to anyway! Trolleybus to Ellensburg! CCC from Leschi Seattle Pacific, Fremont, Ballard, Zoo and and Loyal Heights and Lynnwood! It’s alive master it’s alive it’s alive…..



    And Governor Inslee…please don’t tax our trolley shoes, we’re going to battery fast as we can!

    Mark Dublin

  4. I just spent the week in Hong Kong where I was completely enamored by the Central Mid-Levels escalator, and I keep thinking how such a system might work from Colman Dock up to First Hill. Tell me why I’m right or wrong!

    1. Doug, I think the escalator is one of many good systems that would – and will-work here. But. I’ve always sensed that real reason both Forward Thrusts went down was that, whatever was promised, Seattle didn’t yet have either the tax base or the population to carry it.

      Transit has always had to be pushed rather than pulled into existence. Also have to remember that to the rest of the world, what we call density, world calls The Great Plains. And crush load demanding fifth car on the train here would get run canceled for lack of ridership in China.

      About the “Seattle Way”, meaning irresolute and over-complicated “Lack of Leadership”.Since the Second World War, density- by the feel rather than the measurement- was still low enough that slow freeway trip still outweighed taxes needed for transit. Which, for an American city, still left cars the better choice. Note past tense.

      If somebody’s got a project in mind for Seattle, I think the way to go is to get the actual technical facts about construction and operation in order before you even announce the project. If it takes years, well, you’ve got years to fill. Also for persuasion, good idea for every shareholder, there really be a wrench-holder here too.

      Mark Dublin

    2. Forward Thrust as a whole passed; it was the transit measures and a few others that failed. I wasn’t here then but I doubt people were thinking, “We can afford $X but not $X+2”.They probably voted based on whether they liked the ideas conceptually, and Seattle was enamored by cars.

      1. Mike – Seattle was also enamored with the existing redlining, and most single family homeowners north of the canal and west of Westlake Avenue/1st ave wanted to preserve their lily-white neighbourhoods. To them rail transit would have been an opening in the redline wall.

  5. Kitsap Edmonds/Kingston fast ferry opening in the news this morning. One interview with a passenger said she was headed to SeaTac which makes a lot of sense. I wonder if a major portion of the ridership they hope to develop is from people that would otherwise drive? Dropping off DT Seattle opens up a lot of time competitive routes. I can see where transit would be time competitive with driving for someone working in Bellevue or at Microsoft and a whole lot cheaper.

    1. I don’t know. I think you were the one who pointed out (rightly) that coming from anywhere on the Kitsap Peninsula besides Kingston itself, if you’re going to drive to Kingston, you may as well just drive to Bainbridge and ride the car ferry, which puts you downtown in basically the same amount of time, door-to-door, as driving to Kingston and riding that ferry.

      I don’t know how long the lines are to get on the Kingston->Edmonds ferry during morning rush hour. If driving requires waiting for multiple ferries, I can see going downtown and riding the bus being as fast, if not faster – especially if driving entails additional delays sitting in traffic down I-405.

      In any case, Kitsap to Microsoft is an insanely long commute to put up with every day, regardless of how one chooses to travel. Maybe someone who telecommutes 3-4 days/week can get away with it 1-2 days a week without losing their sanity.

  6. One thing that’s possible on water but not on streets and roads: run service experimentally so both planners and public can watch, ride, and decide about something they can already see in action. I’m thinking that if we actually show people what reserved-lanes looks and rides like, at lest discussion will be grounded in facts.

    Idea? Not unknown for parts of the city and its road system to be shut down or slowed down for construction and repair. So do same thing for a transit test, open to the public, so people can get really “get the feel” of the system under discussion. SR99 between south end of the Deep Bore to 85th shouldn’t take much more time than clearing an accident along there.

    By same token, SLU and FHS could operate in lanes now General Purpose. Add some buses too.
    Would at least help out with the circular problem of getting people to vote for something they never get to ride while they’re making up their minds.


  7. Does anyone know if there are any plans to make the platform at Angle Lake Station less slippery when wet? I saw someone fall this morning, and I’ve very nearly fallen myself several times—the platform surface is really slick in the rain. I think ST is aware the platform is slippery, since they put cones out when it rains, but surely there’s some texturing or something that can be done to make it less of a hazard?

    1. One of the many reasons I don’t like how open they make their platforms. I’ve had similar problems at SeaTac.

  8. Sound Transit sent this bulletin at 11/26/2018 04:23 PM PST
    “In response to your input, we have revised our route proposal for ST Express route 513. It will still start at Community Transit’s new Seaway Transit Center beginning in March 2019, but the route will serve a new stop at Casino Road and Evergreen Way, which will replace the current stop at Evergreen Way and 79th Place. All other stops will remain the same.”

  9. Trains, Buses, People: an Opinionated Atlas of US Transit by Christoph Spieler (book review). Spieler compares the effectiveness of rail/BRT networks in 47 American cities. Includes ““Most Useless Rail-Transit Lines.”, and maps of “the frequency of service against population density”.

    “[Buffalo, New York,] may have the shortest and most oddly configured light-rail system in the country, but as it turns out, “Metro Rail outperforms most of the light-rail lines in the United States”. I’ve never been to Buffalo so I don’t know why it’s odd or why its ridership is so high.

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