Sound Transit CEO promises improved escalators for downtown tunnel, plus more security (Part 2 of 2)

This is the second of two Q&As drawing from Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff’s interview with STB. 

This post has been edited for length and clarity. Find Part One here, and an unedited transcript of the conversation here.

STB: How is the takeover of the Downtown Transit Tunnel going, and what are the plans for implementing the changeover?

Rogoff: We are in careful and ongoing conversations with King County Metro. One of the things that we are most interested in doing and will be launching is an overall condition assessment, so we have a full, eyes wide open understanding of the condition of the asset that we’re taking ownership of.

Continue reading “Sound Transit CEO promises improved escalators for downtown tunnel, plus more security (Part 2 of 2)”

Period of Maximum Deals Has Arrived

Various private transportation entities have caught on to the Big Deal that is the Period of Maximum Constraint, starting with the permanent closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct on Friday, January 11 at 10 pm, three weeks before the SR 99 tunnel under downtown opens.

Lyft and Uber both rolled out $2.75 discount deals Monday on shared rides (on Lyft) (as in two or more passengers, in addition to the paid driver) and all rides on Uber to and from four park & rides and nine light rail stations. The deals run through February 15, 2019.

Continue reading “Period of Maximum Deals Has Arrived”

Metro Expands Ride2 Shuttle Service to West Seattle

A Ride2 van in West Seattle (courtesy of King County Metro)

To help West Seattle residents and commuters cope with the upcoming closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the subsequent changes to the area’s bus routes, King County Metro is expanding its “Ride2” on-demand shuttle service to serve the Alaska Junction bus hub and the West Seattle Water Taxi terminal at Seacrest Park.

Ride2, which launched nearly two months ago in Eastgate, uses a smartphone app or a phone service to summon a shared van operated by a contractor like Chariot. The Eastgate pilot, which has been completely fare-free, has seen an average of 100 rides per weekday and 1,600 app downloads—a far cry from what such a service can do for an area with distributed demand that is harder to serve with traditional buses. 

Beginning Monday, December 17, Ride2 trips can be requested during peak periods (5 am to 9 am; 2:30 to 7 pm) to and from the Alaska Junction bus hub at California Avenue and Edmunds Street, as well as the King County Water Taxi terminal at Seacrest Park. Trips are not allowed to be pre-scheduled, with expected wait times of 10 to 15 minutes. A separate Ride2 app will be required for the West Seattle service. The service area covers most of peninsula’s north and eastern halves, from Alki and the Admiral District to High Point and Delridge. The Ride2 coverage area also include stretches of West Marginal Way on the Duwamish Waterway that are completely unserved by current bus routes, as well as large swaths of West Seattle that are between parallel routes.

Continue reading “Metro Expands Ride2 Shuttle Service to West Seattle”

The Seattle Squeeze is an Opportunity

Typical southbound traffic on I-5 approaching Mercer Street

With the closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct next month, the “period of maximum constraint,” now known, apparently, as the “Seattle Squeeze” is officially upon us.  Five years of construction as we rebuild the Waterfront, expand the convention center, and (maybe? hopefully?) build a streetcar on First Avenue and bus rapid transit on Madison St. 

Unfortunately, the squeeze is coming as the city is delaying bus and bike improvements.  Along with a diverse group of organizations, we are calling for the city to re-prioritize some of those investments.  While we recognize that not everything can be built at once, and we don’t want to minimize the considerable effort the city is making in re-prioritizing downtown right-of-way, there are plenty of opportunities for short term improvements to keep people moving over the next half-decade.

Continue reading “The Seattle Squeeze is an Opportunity”

Sound Transit CEO optimistic about third-party funding, expedited permits for Link from City of Seattle (Part 1 of 2)

Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff
Credit: Joe Kunzler

Last week, Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff sat down for a wide-ranging interview with STB. We’re posting the first part of that conversation today.

This post has been edited for length and clarity. We’ll post an unedited transcript of Rogoff’s remarks with Part 2.

STB: Executive Somers and some other folks from Snohomish and Pierce Counties have raised concerns about the price tag of the Seattle extensions.

How are discussions going amongst the Board, and with yourself and other staff? How are you making sure Seattle gets the best project, but also meeting those needs?

Rogoff: We’ve always said for places like Lynnwood and Federal Way, the issue isn’t going to be if we’re going to build out there—or the same is true for Snohomish and Tacoma—it’s going to be when.

If our finances don’t hold together, it causes us to push projects out, at greater cost, while congestion only worsens. That’s obviously a scenario we want to avoid, whether it’s because of the loss of federal funds, or MVET tax revenues, or a very deep recession.

Continue reading “Sound Transit CEO optimistic about third-party funding, expedited permits for Link from City of Seattle (Part 1 of 2)”

About Link Cost Per Boarding

Last month, alert readers noticed that ST’s quarterly ridership report showed a steep jump in cost per boarding.

With boardings up a bit and the number of trips essentially flat, this implied an alarming increase in ST’s unit costs. The good news is that a big chunk of this is a mere accounting illusion. The medium news is that some of it is one-time expenses. The bad news is that some of it is an increase in unit costs going forward.

Continue reading “About Link Cost Per Boarding”

Transit Report Card: Columbus

A COTA bus on High Street in Downtown Columbus

The series in which STB writers travel around to other cities and make wild generalizations about their transit and land use is back, with a slight change in venue. I visited Columbus and Detroit in mid-October for a Wikipedia conference and spent plenty of time on the buses and bikeshare in the cores of both cities, gaining a decent enough understanding of their mobility situations. That being said, both cities sprawl out a bit and I was only able to really see the urban cores and inner neighborhoods of both cities, so there may be perspectives on both systems that I’m missing out on.

First up is Columbus, anchoring the largest U.S. metro area without a single passenger rail service, as Amtrak had ceased service in 1979 and the streetcars were dismantled in 1948. Several light rail proposals have come and gone, along with plans to build a proper inter-city rail system across Ohio, and have only left us with nice fantasy maps and a city that still dreams of building a greater transit system.

Continue reading “Transit Report Card: Columbus”

Ballard is Big, but Link Might Miss it Entirely

From Boston, STB’s frenemy emeritus, d.p., shares this twitter observation:

One can quibble about hills, and placement of the dots. But he’s right that someone that tried to say that Convention Place serves Capitol Hill, or Avalon Station served the Junction, would rightly draw ridicule.

The development map d.p. attaches shows that “new Ballard” isn’t actually east of “old Ballard,” but instead to the north. A 14th station is simply farther away — not at the heart of coming density that will dwarf the existing old buildings.

Continue reading “Ballard is Big, but Link Might Miss it Entirely”

News Roundup: Mostly cows

Sound Transit Link LRT

This is an open thread.

Mayor’s office nearing SDOT director hire, appoints ST3 point person

Credit: Bruce Engelhardt

Mayor Jenny Durkan retained Anne Fennessy, of public affairs firm Cocker Fennessy, to represent the City of Seattle in planning for the final alignment of ST3’s West Seattle and Ballard Link segments. Durkan’s office also told STB that the search for a new, permanent SDOT director is “underway,” started “earlier this fall,” and that the hire should be announced soon.

Durkan spokesperson Chelsea Kellogg says that the search is similarly to the recruitment of new City Light CEO Debra Smith, who was hired in April:

“National search conducted, employee review panel interviews candidates, senior leadership from other departments interview candidates. The Search Committee then reviews candidates resumes and interviews the candidates which has already taken place. The next step is interviews with the Mayor, which are happening this month.” Continue reading “Mayor’s office nearing SDOT director hire, appoints ST3 point person”

Mayor Jenny Durkan still hasn’t appointed an SDOT director, and doesn’t seem to be looking for one

Credit: Peter Lewis

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is going through a tough couple of years, and it doesn’t have a permanent leader.

Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office has not made any indication that they are searching for a permanent SDOT director, though the administration has been in office for a year. Durkan’s staff did not respond to repeated questions from STB, starting on November 27, asking whether an SDOT director recruitment process was under way.

The agency has had trouble completing the large capital projects it has asked to deliver. The First Hill streetcar opened several years late after delays from the vehicle manufacturer. The downtown Center City Connector streetcar has been delayed indefinitely, albeit due to interference from Durkan.

More worryingly, SDOT has not delivered on the ambitious bike and bus projects promised in the Move Seattle levy, as Frank wrote yesterday. Move Seattle promised seven RapidRide bus lines on major corridors. Now, SDOT can only deliver four, and those projects are each delayed by at least a year. Madison BRT, which was supposed to be up and running next year, will instead launch in 2022. Continue reading “Mayor Jenny Durkan still hasn’t appointed an SDOT director, and doesn’t seem to be looking for one”

Updated Timelines for Bus Improvements in new SDOT Move Seattle Workplan

RapidRide branding

SDOT last week released its updated workplan (PDF) for the Move Seattle levy, the 9-year, $930m program that includes everything from streets and sidewalks to buses and bikes.

While the original levy included 7 “RapidRide+” corridors, it became apparent in April that SDOT didn’t have the money to do all 7 and would be scaling back.  Mayor Durkan ordered a review and a new workplan. We got a hint of the new scope in September, when Metro announced that only 4 new RapidRide lines would launch by the time the levy expires in 2024.

Now we have a better sense of how SDOT is prioritizing its portion of the work. All of the projects are getting bumped 1-3 years.  Budgets listed below are totals for each project and include a mixture of levy funds and other federal, state, and local sources (some as-yet-unidentified).  As you can see, the level of investment varies greatly from line to line. Continue reading “Updated Timelines for Bus Improvements in new SDOT Move Seattle Workplan”

RapidRide H plans take shape

Credit: Oran Viriyincy

RapidRide H, the new line that will replace Metro Route 120 in downtown, Delridge, White Center, and Burien, will feature 0.3 mile stop frequency and new bus lanes, according to the latest designs. SDOT and Metro plan to finish design in spring  summer 2019, and open bidding for the project by the end of the year, with the goal of opening in 2021.

Metro’s Jerry Roberson and SDOT’s CJ Holt presented the 10 percent plans for the H line to the City of Seattle’s Transit Advisory Board on Wednesday. They also commented on preliminary RapidRide plans for the Rainier Valley/Route 7 corridor.

The H line will serve a heavily transit-dependent, highly diverse area, and will make an essential connection to the Link system at the Delridge stop. Burien, White Center, and the south end of West Seattle won’t see Link service until a future Sound Transit package, if ever. Continue reading “RapidRide H plans take shape”