We answer questions from the reader mailbag.
Well, here’s proof! Wait a minute…..does Russia count as Communist anymore? I lose track…
Well- if we order some, any chance they’ll swap Chiefs of State with us?
Podcast fact checker:
[0:23:30] I wasn’t talking about more service between the 195th exit and UW Bothell, but that 522 BRT would be frequent. (Or I guess we should now call it Stride 522.)
[0:24:45] Should Stride 405 get off the freeway in Bothell? There’s also 85th, where ST decided not to get off the freeway for downtown Kirkland. So if it went into Bothell it would detour to a smaller city but not a larger city.
The C in ST3, and buses in the 99 tunnel. Metro’s 2025 plan has no buses in the tunnel. Its 2040 plan has one route in the tunnel: an express on Fauntleroy – Alaska Junction – SLU. The 120 will be RapidRide H. The C is converted to a north-south line from Alki to Burien (California-Morgan-8th SW-1st S). the 21 becomes a frequent route from Delridge Station to Burien (35th SW – 4th SW). A 560-like express runs on AJ Jct – 35th SW – Burien – SeaTac – S 188th St – Military Road – KDM Road – Meeker Street – Kent Station. The routes on the West Seattle bridges are Link, RR 120, Fauntleroy-SLU express, and a 50-like coverage route (Admiral – Columbia City – Mt Baker).
[0:50:00] 48/7 route. Seattle’s TMP and I believe Move Seattle were going to reassign the 7 south of Mt Baker to the 48, but that was dropped in later plans. There was never a plan for the 7 and 48 to overlap.
550 frequency. The 550 is 15 minutes until 7:30pm weekdays and Saturdays, and 30 minutes evenings and Sundays. I ride it mostly weekends so I always try to go on Saturday and get back to Bellevue TC by 7pm. The 271 is frequent until 7:30pm weekdays. The C is frequent full time. A few other Eastside corridors are frequent weekdays; 234/235 Bellevue-Kirkland, 245 Kirkland-Overlake-Eastgate (Old Redmond Road), 255 Seattle-Kirkland-Kingsgate. So the E is frequent when the 550 is not. And the 550 and E are the only frequent routes on Saturday.
The inability to get more infrastructure and bus lanes is mostly priorities. The influential peoplewant more transit, but they want their GP lanes and parking spaces even more. Sometimes transit gets short queue jumps or BAT lanes. You see this in the Seattle Squeeze plan: the highest priority is SOV thorougput, and transit gets a few transit-lane scraps. In contrast Paris prioritizes SOVs last, and drivers just have to deal.
I had the question about a C-Line express in the tunnel. My thinking is that it is totally absurd that Metro has planned essentially zero usage of the tunnel itself, even though it skips downtown, because it is basically a portal from SODO to SLU that is extremely quick (2 minutes 20 seconds if traffic flows at 45 mph speed limit, and 3:30 if traffic flows at 30 mph. Time-of-day based tolling and lack of downtown exits should ensure that there will be significantly less SOV traffic in the tunnel than the old AWV).
Normally, a crosstown route that goes by downtown without stopping should be considered a non-starter, but considering that a bus can go through downtown in about the time it can take to go one or two stops on third avenue, Metro should make some use of that. If not, then the tunnel will be a huge incentive to drive alone over taking the bus specifically, which is not what we should want.
I took the example of the C because that runs every 4 minutes at peak of peak, which is 15 buses/hour. If we take 5 of those for a CX-Line to SLU, then the C can run every 6 minutes and the CX every 12 minutes (I got the math wrong originally. I thought it was every 20 mins, but it’s even better at 12).
No matter how ridership works out between downtown and SLU, you can split the frequency in many ways:
C every 5 & CX every 20
C every 6 & CX every 12
C every 6-7 & CX every 10
C & CX every 8
This is not like a normal peak express in that it breaks a transfer pattern (like the 74x), but rather it’s specifically a rider-sorting express that is meant to save time and money (like the 15x).
Replacing a C with a CX would take a 13 minute portion of the route down to 3 1/2 minutes, and that 13 minutes is based on the *pre* viaduct closure schedule! So that adds many service hours that can be used for many things including extra (or bidirectional) CX service, maybe some sort of all-day CX service at low frequency, or just paying for the extra service hours that need to be used on former viaduct routes. I’ll have to do a page 2 on this at some point.
On weekend bus frequency, on Saturdays, the 512 is also frequent. It used to not be that way back when the 510 and 511 ran on Saturday. They both ran every half hour with a quicker ride than the current 512, while the current 512 took over on Sundays every half hour. The 511 gave you a quick ride to Lynnwood, and the 510 was a quick ride to Everett. This is how it works for S. King/Pierce County. The 577/578 is a quick ride to Federal Way every half hour and Puyallup every hour (ST wants to bring that down to half hour once funding is available), while the 594 is a quick ride to Tacoma and a not-very quick ride to Lakewood.
ST then decided to switch to the 512 off-peak and combine the half-hourly 510 & 511 into a 15 minute off-peak Seattle express (good move). That won’t really work as well for the 577/578/594, so they are still on half-hourly frequency for the time being. I will say that (being a suburbanite) half-hourly routes are not that bad, you just need to plan ahead a bit. It’s a pain for transfers, but it’s just fine if you have a one-seat express ride, even if infrequent.
Every hour though is a pain. The 535 runs every hour on Saturday, and the 560 runs every hour on Saturday and Sunday. Hopefully I-405 BRT will make this service more usable for people on weekends in that corridor.
“My thinking is that it is totally absurd that Metro has planned essentially zero usage of the tunnel itself”
That’s a judgment call, and there are probably arguments both ways.
“I’ll have to do a page 2 on this at some point.”
Good idea. People may think differently after the tunnel is open and they can see what the travel time of tunnel vs non-tunnel is.
If you’re expecting it to continue after the waterfront is finished, the boulevard will have transit lanes up to Columbia where the buses will turn to 3rd. So if the buses are in the tunnel there will be none to use the lanes. Some people have been griping that the boulevard is too wide there, and the empty lanes would make it seem worse. Of course, WSDOT might revert them to GP lanes.
“On weekend bus frequency, on Saturdays, the 512 is also frequent.”
Is this related to something in the podcast? My reply was just about Eastside frequency, because Martin said he sometimes thinks about going to the Eastside weekends but then remembers the buses are half-hourly so he doesn’t go.
Yeah, I would definitely want to drive the tunnel a couple times before I do the page two post. Tolling isn’t scheduled to begin until the summer, so that’s going to mess up traffic volumes in the tunnel when I do drive it, so any travel time conclusions I draw will still be somewhat theoretical until then. It’s a judgement call for sure, but the fact that SLU is an up-and-coming downtown-like job center and that a tunnel to SLU just opened makes a strong case. I do have some other ideas as well. Certainly some peak-only viaduct expresses like the 113 can take the tunnel and serve SLU first and then downtown, like how many I-5 express lane buses like the 355 take the freeway to almost Yesler then turn north toward downtown.
The frequency thing is off-topic now that I see it. I heard the podcast and started thinking broadly (I do this a lot).
Re: Minneapolis comprehensive plan –
Would recommend this podcast episode from Calmatters where they interview the president of the Minneapolis City Counci on this topic: https://soundcloud.com/matt-levin-4/minneapolis-just-ended-single-family-zoning-will-california-follow-suit
The council president indicates that 1) The council has a lot of power there and they built a grassroots coalition unified on ending SF zoning and 2) Environmental review there is less imposing (AFAIK they didn’t have to prepare a detailed impact study)
I wonder if they make these Lime colored. I would ride one.
Serious thanks, les, for this dead-accurate view of the majority of the world’s population. Your transit-workers and their well-dressed passengers both. Tempting next question to you and the rest of my readers:
How fast could you push one? Because considering this month’s wretched lead story for our own country’s national news, here’s my own “take”. For ourselves and our country, what you’ve showed us is our competition. Who if we don’t smarten up will build their own wall around our lazy rear ends on their own dime.
I know I’ve mentioned the razor-sharp young African businesswoman who’s both owner and chief driver of the van service we used on the Kenya-Tanzania border. Mary’s Philippine equivalent would’ve been in one of this video’s passenger seats on the way to her own driving day. And probably would’ve handed the motorman her business card in case he wanted another job.
And on the Mexican border this morning, if they’d fled there for their lives, both of them used as excuses to cripple our Federal Government so they can’t get in. A misbegotten US administration generating fear of these people to gain the domestic support it’ll never earn. The exact same welcome, incidentally, that our own parents’ parents’ parents’ received for their own identical qualities.
I can see why Donald Trump wouldn’t want either Mary or the trainman inside our borders. These people hate laziness and corruption so bad they’ll elect the murdering likes of Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte to fight it. So-Liberals, not exactly.
And I’ll put this out to tonight’s transit community. The worker pushing that railcar. Would we personally sponsor them into this country, or let our reps know we see them as a threat? For my job security’s sake….I’d insist we both share about same seniority in same ATU Local. Same car line.
But if I had a nephew or niece in the uniform, I’d pull strings to keep them where they’d learn transit mindset by example.
Thanks for questioning the role of the Mt Baker Transit Center! It has its importance for bus layovers, but Judkins Park Station will have elevators on both sides of Rainier and an easy pedestrian signal across a less busy and messy 23rd. Plus Link will get Downtown much faster from there. Mt Baker Station has a good commercial district but it’s a linear district so that one central stop seems less logical (like a Third Ave Transit Street is better than a Third/University Transit Center); bookending the district for layovers seems like a reasonable thing to do.
Moving the Mt Baker Metro layovers to Forest Street would put riders at the base of the Link station, and free up the need to have the exit driveway on Rainier at the transit center so that Routes 7 and 106 can have a longer, better stop.
I can see many possible advantages to exploring Metro service beyond the initial long-range plan in this area.
– 405/522 BRT – the Sound Transit proposal to put the connecting at 405/195th St. is the best option. Detouring all the thru-riders to do a grand tour of the UW Bothell Campus for their everyday commute is not the way to attract ridership.
– 99 tunnel – There are so many rush hour buses between West Seattle and downtown, there should be plenty of people to fill some of them taking the tunnel to SLU, instead of slogging through every block of downtown. It doesn’t have to involve rerouting the C-line. Maybe reroute the 56 and 57, instead. I would be very surprised if the time savings is not enough to meet Metro’s standards for a peak express route, especially with the viaduct now closed, and the alternative being slower.
– Mt. Baker Transit Center. Buses which pass Mt. Baker Station and continue onward should do exactly what they are currently doing – stop on Rainier and continue on – any kind of detour of a thru-route into a transit center would be a horrible idea. The northbound bus stop should probably be relocated next to the pedestrian bridge, but that’s about it.
For buses that *end* at Mt. Baker Transit Center (8, 48), the situation is different because they have to some amount of twists and turns in order to layover and turn around. These routes can use an on-street bus loop consisting of SE 26th and Forest St. At first glance, the street may seem to narrow for articulated bus operation, but if you get rid of all the car parking and make the street one way, there’s actually plenty of room to operate and layover the buses. These buses could stop right at the north end of the Link station, and the transfer would be seamless. There is no need for UW Laundry facility, or any other off-street transit center in the area. If the UW wants to sell off its laundry facility, let it go to housing, instead.
– Eastside bus frequency. During the weekday daytime hours, frequencies are actually pretty decent, with at least the core routes running every 15 minutes. The problem is that evenings and weekends, frequency drops off a cliff, especially weekend evenings, where core routes like the 255, 271, 545, and 554 drop to hourly very early. For example, on the Saturday schedule, the 255 drops to hourly at 7 PM. The 271 at 5:30 PM. The 545 at 8 PM. And the 554 at 7 PM. At this moment, the entire Eastside has just one bus route which maintains 15-minute frequency all the way to 10 PM, 7 days a week, and that’s the RapidRide B-line.
That said, I do feel somewhat optimistic that by the time EastLink opens and service hours get re-distributed, things will improve. The route 255 service restructure, if it happens, will make a huge difference when I visit Seattle, and, once EastLink opens, there will be more service hours to redistribute, and likely a major service restructure to accompany it in the Bellevue area.
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