BoltBus, now serving Everett (Bruce Englehardt)
  • The Seattle Times has a spreadsheet tracking every Transportation-related bill in Olympia
  • A good chunk of the latest proposed highway bill pays for fish culverts. Here’s why
  • WSB has detailed notes from a Sound Transit open house in West Seattle
  • Why Portland shouldn’t be widening freeways
  • Provocative research paper looks at Seattle and contends that gentrification of dense areas paradoxically increases emissions. Upshot seems to be that rich people just consume more stuff.
  • SDOT blog covers the new 5th/6th Avenue busway
  • Updated downtown accessibility map (PDF) now includes elevators in addition to wheelchair routes
  • Europe-Asia long-distance rail networks now connected
  • Pierce Transit’s first BRT line running into opposition from the usual suspects
  • An overview of Lisa Herbold’s anti-displacement bill from SCC Insight
  • BoltBus adds stops in Everett and Tacoma
  • The Interbay Armory site could host a ton of transit-oriented development
  • Boom times for Viaduct-adjacent property
  • Good piece on fares: “I don’t think there’s a magic number [for fares]…Ultimately, building ridership is about more than fares.”
  • The Times ($) looks at upzones coming to Rainier Beach.

This is an open thread.

56 Replies to “News Roundup: Boom Times”

  1. Are the new stops installed on 6th yet since we are only a week away?I see the orca readers are not done on third yet…

  2. Are there only bus lanes on 5th ave going north? When I read the SDOT blog post, it didn’t seem to talk about the reverse commute.

    It looks like the 255 will switch to the 5th/6th ave bus way and for the reverse commute in the evening, 5th ave is usually backed up going south with cars trying to get onto I5. Even for people who get off the bus on Stewart Street, the 5th ave backups can still lead to more route unreliability since there’s only so many busses and they have to make a round trip.

      1. Ugh. Considering that quite a few people from urban areas in Seattle do the reverse commute to the east side, I’m surprised routes going that direction are still neglected.

      2. I believe the folks on the 545 and 512 were always screwed. Those that “reverse commuted” were especially screwed (as Jason mentioned). But now riders of the 255 will be newly screwed, especially those that live in the south end of downtown, but commute over to Kirkland. I’m guessing in many cases it is faster to get off at the first bus stop and start walking. I suppose you could wander over to Third, or go down into the tunnel and wait for the train, but no matter what, it doesn’t sound especially fast.

        But then again, what do I know? Last time I checked, Fifth Avenue was awfully slow in the evening. Is it still that slow?

      3. Even for people who get off the 255 on Stewart street, I can imagine the 5th ave slowdown still causing issues for the whole route. There’s only so many buses making the round trip, so when even a single part of the route becomes incredibly slow for a few hours, some buses never show up and people have to wait much longer than normal.

        As for 5th ave being awfully slow in the evening commute, from what I remember walking around that area it is basically clogged with a bunch of cars trying to get to the I5 south Spring street onramp. It’s similar (but not quite as bad) as the area around the I5 south Yale ave onramp where the local streets degenerate into becoming extensions of the highway ramps during the afternoon and evening.

      4. @Jason — Yes. Slowdowns make it worse for individual riders, and they make the system worse. The agency involved has to build in more layover time, to try and keep the buses running on time, or riders have to put up with unpredictable schedules. Building in extra time costs money. That is basically what this article is about: Metro adds a bunch of service, but delays mean that they don’t actually improve things (the buses don’t run more often). The new problem with buses being kicked out has been a problem with other buses, which in turn has hurt the overall system quite a bit.

  3. It would be helpful if some of the bloggers and commenters here did some in-person reporting from downtown on the first day, and the first weekday, of the tunnel-to-surface bus restructure. It goes without saying, but some reporters should be stationed in the tunnel, and also at the new surface bus stops. Interview passengers affected by the change. Are things going smoothly? Are passengers confused? I look forward to your reports.

  4. It doesn’t surprise me that Bolt Bus is adding service to Tacoma and Everett, it makes a lot of sense since I think there are a decent amount of passengers who were wanting Bolt Bus service from said cities without having to trek to Seattle, and it wouldn’t likely affect their current schedules too much to add said stops. I would likely take this to Portland on occasion for day trips (for either business or leisure) and such.

    1. I agree. I think it makes the most sense for combinations not involving Seattle. Bellingham to Everett, or Portland to Tacoma. Not only do you avoid the transfer, but you avoid backtracking. I think eventually it makes sense to include Olympia. Public service from Seattle or Everett to Olympia isn’t that great, and you also connect Portland to Olympia (which I believe is only served by Greyhound).

      1. The problem is – you can’t add too many stops without turning Bolt into the old Greyhound service it was supposed to be an improvement over. Compared to trains, each stop that is added to a long-haul bus route adds a lot of time, in the form of turns and stoplights, plus more time letting passengers on and off.

        With Amtrak, the amount of time added to the schedule to stop at Tacoma vs. bypass it is on the order of about 2 minutes. With a bus, it’s more like 10-15 minutes. Even just one additional stop is enough to make the Seattle->Portland bus no longer any faster than the train.

      2. I’m pretty sure they offer both an express (from Portland to Seattle) as well as a bus that stops in Tacoma along the way. They do the same sort of thing with Everett (although it appears they have only one express).

  5. I’m suspicious of that penn state paper. I scanned through it quickly, and I didn’t see any actual data on climate emissions. There is a lot of talk about gentrification and a lot of social justicey buzz words. Example: “Simply stated, our novel thesis is: there is no climate justice without a clear and central focus on housing justice.”

    Also, look at who they thank:

    “An enormous amount of gratitude goes to the many social and environmental‐justice activists in Seattle who have contributed to this research over the years, and in particular during the summer of 2017. Jennifer Rice specifically wishes to thank Kshama Sawant for the many productive and important conversations we shared on the issues discussed here.”

    So, it seems like they talked to activists and politicians, but there’s no evidence of any actual scientific climate research being done in this paper.

    My understanding is that Seattle carbon emissions are either flat or increasing at a much slower rate than population growth. That indicates that per capita emissions are down. Objectively, that seems like a win.

    I’ll admit I scanned through really quickly and may have missed something though. Some of the verbiage just kind of set off my BS sensors.

    1. “My understanding is that Seattle carbon emissions are either flat or increasing at a much slower rate than population growth.”

      City Light said in the early 2000s that electricity use per capita was flat, and I think Seattle recently said water use has declined. But the plans for a carbon-neutral city and state didn’t really take into account the population increase, and that seems to be a weakness in the plans.

      Also, about those electronic devices and appliances. Many of them use power even when they’re turned off, Some of them even use as much power when they’re off as when they’re on. The only way to keep them from being vampires is to put them on an outlet strip with a mechanical switch, or unplug them when not in use.

    2. Ya it’s not research. You can’t target technology like they do and then cite no data to back it. Why software and tech? So if it was airplanes it would be fine? What about the growth in cities like Washington D.C. which is government? Doesn’t count because they aren’t technology?

      Intuition says if you build more units more power and carbon will be emitted but not necessarily more per capita. I want to see per capita numbers before and after or why even bother doing the study unless your goal is more political and perception than actual useful research?

      Finally the idea of Kshama Sawant being a good source for this is laughable. Her inclusion is suspect because her opinion is known to be unbiased, why would legitimate research talk to someone who so impartial for impartial research? Also isn’t she married to someone from Microsoft? Wouldn’t that give her even more bias based on this paper and make her part of the actual problem she helped describe is in this “paper”?

    3. Their conclusion sounds quite reasonable. There is a strong correspondence between wealth and emissions. The more money people make, the more they consume (in general). So adding a bunch of wealthy people to one area would likely increase the emissions for that area.

      But what if that same increase in wealth occurred somewhere else? For that matter, what if the population growth in Seattle had occurred in low density suburbs? It seems to me that in both cases, the overall impact on climate change would be higher.

      1. RossB, right. With climate change, it doesn’t matter at all whether carbon emissions happen in your neighborhood or anywhere else in the world. So arguing that more rich people moving into a neighborhood is bad for carbon emissions in that neighborhood is meaningless.

        In Seattle’s case, because city light gets 98% of power from non-carbon sources such as hydro-electric, whereas outside the city limits puget sound energy only gets 40%, it’s almost always a win to get people to move into the city center.

  6. “gentrification of dense areas paradoxically increases emissions”

    That’s something to watch for. I’ll repeat something I put in the green legislators article:

    “There are worrying signs that some of the measures being taken to decrease emissions are actually increasing emissions. This includes the switch from coal-fired generators to natural gas generators, the rise of electric cars, the replacement of buildings, the advances in home/mobile computing devices (people are getting more of them), etc. In some cases energy use and emissions per capita have remained flat or declined, but in other cases they’ve has increased or unanticipated emissions are being discovered (that weren’t properly accounted for). The world has really not come to terms with that yet…. The best strategy is still “reduce, reuse, recycle”, with the most emphasis on the first rather than the last. I’ve also been impressed with the “zero-waste” strategy first popularzed by Amory Lovins in Natural Capitalism (full text online). That’s the idea of, in a manufacturing process or construction process, finding a use or market for every byproduct formerly known as “waste”, a kind of win-win situation.”

    I can fully believe that more affluent people have more electric gadgets and appliances and drive more, even if they think they’re aiming for sustainability, because some methods of sustainability aren’t really so, or at least there’s not enough evidence they’ll be effective. A detached house with an electric car and boxes of fair-trade, ecologically managed, vegan protein bars — is still a detached house with a car and boxes of individually-wrapped bars. It still has several times more emissions than a small condo, a transit pass, and homemade protein bars. One reference point is that the average per-capita energy use in Europe is half the US, and the dense Asian cities are half again. When people think about sustainable, they also need to think, more homemade food, more vegetarian, more composting, more local food, less car use and plane flights (even electric cars and taxis), more solar water heaters, etc. If our friend in the suburban house can go all-solar or off the grid, that’s certainly something, and there’s room for people who really want to to do that. but it’s not a total solution for millions of people, because the size of the house and its distance from the services its occupants use are still intrinsic inefficiencies, and on an aggregate scale it gobbles up tons of land, some of it the best farmland in the country.

    Another thing. Just because affluent tech bros increase Seattle’s emissions, it doesn’t necessarily mean they increase worldwide emissions. Maybe they’d generate the same emissions if they lived somewhere else.

    1. I think it’s more of a correlation than a causation. To afford a gentrified area, each household is more likely to have two full-time working people in it. That adds work trips. Plus, less free time results in more discretionary trips like eating out. That seems to be a primary driver of this conclusion.

      I would think that a researcher would find a similar correlation between household hours worked and footprint.

      One correlation I have not seen analyzed is looking at these data with family units or square feet. Does a preoccupation with tiny apartments end up creating a bigger footprint because any group activity requires making a bigger footprint? Would townhomes with roommates do better than studio apartments? What about extended family obligations?

    2. It’s an artificial distinction based on studying one neighborhood in isolation. Neighborhoods aren’t separate ecosystems. You have to include where the displaced people live, where the residents commute to, where the commuters in the neighborhood live, where the residents go for their errands, etc. So for a metropolitan area you can say “This is our carbon responsibility”, and for a city you can make an imperfect estimate to guide city policy, but a neighborhood is too small and porous to make a meaningful distinction for the climate, all you can say is “This is these persons’ carbon responsibility”, where “these” are an arbitrary subset of people, who may be economically and socially different from the region’s average and who made arbitrary decisions to live there.

      “Does a preoccupation with tiny apartments end up creating a bigger footprint because any group activity requires making a bigger footprint?”

      I don’t think so. These activities would be in restaurants, meeting paces, parks, etc, that are used more intensively than an extra room in an apartment. I knew plenty of suburbanites who have a 8-person dining table and a living room they rarely use, and if you ask them why they need it they say “For when we entertain.” But they only entertain a couple times a year, and often when they have people over they still don’t use the living room. Or they’re part of a group and all entertain each other monthly, and that means each person has a redundant entertainment room that’s used only 1/0th of the time they’re with the group. That’s quite an inefficient use of space. It may make sense for grandma to have a big table for extended family Thanksgiving, but does it make sense for every part of the extended family to have a big table?

  7. With regards to the Bolt article…

    Adding service to the Pierce/Snohomish areas makes sense, but I don’t like the idea of adding 10-15 minutes minimum for everybody else, nor choosing Everett over Lynnwood to stop at.

    Lynnwood is a better jumping off point for trips up north because it has a direct-access ramp to I-5, features better bus connections to more populated areas, and will getting Link service in 5 years, rather than 25 years. The Link connection would be huge, as it would allow large swaths of North Seattle access to the bus, without needing to ride an Uber all the way to Everett or backtrack all the way to downtown. Lynnwood would also have I-405 BRT, providing a useful connection to the eastside, which would be faster than going through downtown Seattle.

    1. Everett is already a Greyhound stop, so it has an enclosed waiting area and other services that Lynnwood lacks. I could see them switching to Lynnwood (or even Mountlake Terrace’s median station) once Link starts, but this is a fine arrangement for the time being, as the Broadway ramp to the south has fairly direct access. Going north back onto the freeway, BoltBus will likely have to choose between Broadway and the zig-zag to I-5 depending on traffic.

      1. To add to that, BoltBus is owned by Greyhound! It seems only corporately logical to use stops.

      2. In theory, they could move to Lynnwood when the Link station opens, but in practice, they won’t.

        At the end of the day, what matters in choosing travel mode is speed and price, not a fancy waiting room.

        Similarly, I think you could even truncate the bus on the other end, and just run it to Surrey SkyTrain station, rather than all the way to Pacific Central. Lynnwood to Surrey could cut the running time down to just over two hours, including the border crossing, and could help lower fares. Under the assumption that most people will need to buy Link and SkyTrain tickets anyway, the marginal fare cost for riding the train a little bit further is negligible.

        Seattle/Portland, though, a truncation of Bolt in Tacoma will never be practical. The 70 minute Link ride to Seattle is just too slow compared to a bus driving on the freeway.

      3. When I’ve taken Bolt north (which isn’t that often) half the passengers have put their luggage in the Vancouver BC section. Therefore, I don’t see them splitting this into two separate trips.

      4. “what matters in choosing travel mode is speed and price, not a fancy waiting room”

        A waiting room is better than standing on the sidewalk. And Greyhound’s waiting rooms are not fancy and can’t be that expensive. People care about speed and price, but I haven’t found that to be a particular problem with Greyhound. It’s more the schedule, some people can only travel at certain times. When I went to Vancouver I preferred Amtrak, but I couldn’t take Amtrak up Friday after work, spend two nights with friends there, and come back Sunday morning, so i took Greyhound. At other times going to Portland or Vancouver WA I had the opposite problem: I couldn’t go there and back on Greyhound without an overnight stay so I took Amtrak to see a band for an afternoon gig.

      5. As to ASDF’s,

        Similarly, I think you could even truncate the bus on the other end, and just run it to Surrey SkyTrain station, rather than all the way to Pacific Central. Lynnwood to Surrey could cut the running time down to just over two hours, including the border crossing, and could help lower fares. Under the assumption that most people will need to buy Link and SkyTrain tickets anyway, the marginal fare cost for riding the train a little bit further is negligible.

        Well quite frankly I’d prefer Bolt terminate at Canada Line’s Bridgeport Station. Quick shot on the Canada Line over to YVR the international airport, half hour on light rail downtown.

        Also as followers of my Flickr may have noticed – I use the Bolt Bus when I go up to Vancouver. It’s the first arrival for a transit-dependant person into Vancouver, BC and instead of 10:30 AM, I wish it was 8:30 AM or earlier. Heckfire, I have a 8:45 AM photoshoot Tuesday and either I take a $150+ cab from home (NO) or I spend $50 on a Richmond AIRBNB and support a friend’s open house on the TransLink B-Line the evening before. Guess what I picked?

    2. As someone who makes fairly frequent trips to both Portland, OR and Vancouver, BC, I was thrilled to read the Herald story about Bolt service coming to Everett. After reading the article and then reflecting for a bit on your comments above, I tend to agree with your point about the advantages of a Lynnwood TC stop. Such a stop would work fantastically for me even today since I live just north of Lynnwood and could take a CT local route to make the connection. In five years’ time when Link service arrives in Lynnwood (with any luck, fingers crossed), the idea for a Bolt trip originating in Lynnwood would become a viable option for a lot more folks with the addition of a stop here.

      One other point….

      I think the Herald article needs to correct (or at least clarify) the pricing structure they mentioned in the article for the Everett to Portland trips:

      “A round trip from Everett to Portland starts at about $40 during the week.”

      Playing around with a few different hypothetical itineraries for a midweek 3-day trip, I could find no fares in this price range. Instead, the roundtrip fares ranged from about $68-88 per person.

      1. Thinking through the typical use case, it’s not hard to understand why. Very few passengers on the bus are going to be getting on or off at Everett, so those that do get on there on a southbound bus are effectively taking up a slot that could have been given to someone traveling a longer distance. So, in order for giving you that slot to be worth it to Bolt, they have to charge you nearly the Bellingham->Seattle fare, plus the Seattle->Portland fare, in order to be worth it to them.

        Another way to look at it – if service from Everett->Seattle were at the same price point as the 512, then people with flexible schedules would start riding it to go to events downtown (and return on the 512, with schedule flexibility being more important for the return trip). This would cause the bus to start turning away Vancouver->Seattle passengers, while running all the way from Vancouver->Everett with half the seats empty. The only way to prevent this is to charge a fare very close to Bellingham->Seattle to ride Everett->Seattle.

    3. Am I reading the BoltBus schedule correctly?

      For instance, I’m looking at the schedule for #9702, and it shows that the total trip time from Portland to Vancouver BC is 7hrs 30 minutes. (Dp 6:30AM PDX; Ar 2:00PM VAC).
      The equivalent train, Amtrak Cascades #518, is an 8 hour trip. (Dp 3:00PM PDX; Ar VAC 11:00PM)

      Won’t adding stops increase the time to almost the same as the Cascades?

      1. Between the Bolt stop in Tacoma, the Point Defiance Bypass, and general traffic on I-5, it does seem as though the time advantage of the bus over the train is now largely gone.

        I think the bus still has the advantage in schedule though. They have departures earlier in the morning and later in the evening than Amtrak does, which makes day trips practical. Once public transit of any form requires an overnight stay, the monetary savings over driving – even if you have to rent the car to do it – evaporates (assuming that the car option can be practically done as an out and back in one day).

    4. BoltBus service continues to deteriorate. The whole selling point of BoltBus was the non-stop express, they are just turning BoltBus into a red paint scheme Greyhound, already prices have gone up and service has gone down. Go ahead and add Mt Vernon while youre at it and just duplicate it entirely. Maybe they are looking to have BoltBus take over Greyhound service in the NW and then pull out of what is not served by BoltBus?

      Ive already switched to Quick Shuttle for Vancouver BC travel, its vastly better.

      1. I’m pretty sure they are keeping several of the express routes. About half the buses from Seattle to Portland will stop in Tacoma, the other half won’t.

      2. I don’t get why adding a few extra minutes to add significant transit centers is such a big deal… and adding Mount Vernon would be very much appreciated. I don’t like Greyhound – they are schedule unreliable.

        As to Quick Shuttle, wish they’d run earlier in the day. Then I’d consider them.

      3. I skimmed through the Bolt schedule on the Seattle->Portland route. There is one express trip per day, which runs in the middle of the day, so, practically speaking, it’s only useful if you intend to stay overnight. On the Seattle->Vancouver route, there are no express trips available.

        For both trips, the schedule lists a 10-minute dwell time at Tacoma and Everett Station, not including the overhead of waiting at the stoplights to get in and out of them.

        One interesting travel option for the Seattle->Vancouver route that not a lot of people know exists is Amtrak thruway buses, which supplement the limited Cascades schedule to provide more departure options. The thruway buses run nonstop from King St. Station to the Canadian border, then make a couple stops in Surrey and Richmond before arriving at Pacific Central Station.

        In general, I like the idea of running nonstop through the U.S., while providing a SkyTrain option to avoid some of the traffic in Canada. Unfortunately, if you’re thinking “Surrey” and “Richmond” means SkyTrain connection, you’re mistaken. The buses stop at random hotel parking lots, which are nowhere near the SkyTrain. (the Richmond stop is about a mile away from Bridgepoint SkyTrain, and can be walked if you really want to). My guess is that the routes were most likely set decades ago, before SkyTrain even existed, when local travel always meant “taxi”. Either that, or they’re getting kickbacks from the hotel, exchange for serving their front door, which they don’t want to lose.

        My ideal Seattle->Vancouver route would run DT Seattle->Lynnwood Transit Center->canadian border->SkyTrain station, with no other stops. Once Lynnwood Link opens, eliminate service to DT Seattle to improve schedule reliability and reduce operating costs. Given that people are already used to taking luggage on Link to go to the airport, taking luggage on the same Link train to get to a long-haul bus shouldn’t be a big deal.

        On the Canadian side, I’m somewhat torn between Surrey station and Bridgeport station as destinations. Surrey Station requires a longer train ride to downtown, but avoids some bad traffic bottlenecks by getting passengers off the bus and onto the SkyTrain before crossing the Fraser River. Bridgeport Station offers a faster trip to downtown when traffic is light, but potentially a slower trip downtown when traffic is heavy. And, depending on one’s ultimate destination, connecting to one SkyTrain line might be vastly preferable over the other. Maybe the best solution is to have the buses arriving and departing in or around rush hour use Surrey Station, while the buses arriving and departing during off-peak hours use Bridgeport Station, and the primary market (those living or visiting in or near downtown) can just choose whichever route has the more convenient schedule.

      4. asdf2;

        With respect I like half of what you’re proposing. I like the idea of the Bolt buses stopping at a Link & a SkyTrain station.

        I don’t like this idea however, “My ideal Seattle->Vancouver route would run DT Seattle->Lynnwood Transit Center->canadian border->SkyTrain station, with no other stops. Once Lynnwood Link opens, eliminate service to DT Seattle to improve schedule reliability and reduce operating costs. Given that people are already used to taking luggage on Link to go to the airport, taking luggage on the same Link train to get to a long-haul bus shouldn’t be a big deal.”

        Having a stop in Bellingham at least serves Skagit County, Whatcom County and arguably somewhat San Juan & Island Counties. I would prefer adding Mount Vernon but only on a 24 hours prebooking standard and a requirement that the station automatically announce when the bus is five minutes out so folks are lined up, ready to board. Lynnwood or Mountlake Terrace even once Lynnwood Link spins up would keep the Bolts from having to significantly fight Seattle traffic – unless that is they’re going to Portland, OR and points beyond.

        Again, I also want a BOLT that gets me to Vancouver, BC by 8-something AM NOT 10:30 AM. In the summer, Air Canada has a flight that flies in at 9:06 AM, and then there’s that seaplane option year-round that arrives at 9 AM. The fact there are some TransLink meetings that start at 9-something AM might have something to do with this part of my request…

        Asking for your support please on this.

    1. Chicago’s flat topography does make lakeshore areas more desirable because of the unique views that can be offered. Here, most tall buildings can offer great views in one direction as long as another building doesn’t block them.

      1. Did you not see the article about the national guard property in internbay? It seems like a lid over the south end of the BNSF yard and connecting that property with Expedia and the port of Seattle property has potential. I’m no developer, but it seems the views and proximity to downtown could make the development valuable enough to pay off the lid investment.

      2. Oh I’m just saying that sites far from Lake Michigan can have limited view opportunities unlike Seattle. That make this Chicago site particularly attractive.

    2. Cool project. Lidding open railyards seems like a common project across the US these days, with Hudson Yards in the vanguard.

      Why couldn’t Seattle do the same thing? Once the Denny Triangle, U District, and Bellevue downtown get built out, I could see a developmer pitch building over the tracks to the west of 4th Ave.

      1. Perhaps I should say I think it would be much more difficult to accomplish in Seattle than Chicago, mainly due to politics and our infamous Seattle process.

  8. Unconfirmed changes for trailhead direct for the 2019 edition:

    1. A new service from the Renton Transit Center to Cougar Mountain. This also serves stops on NE 3rd /4th street, Union Avenue NE, Duvall Avenue NE.

    2. Slight adjustments to the mount si stops in downtown and the Issaquah alps route in Issaquah.

    3. Mailbox Peak shuttle to service north bend park and ride enabling connections by way of the mount si shuttle.

    This is speculative based on one bus away data. And opening dates will of course be subject to safety considerations. All of these changes sound great. And I’m on the cougar mountain shuttle line so it’s self serving too.

    1. The trailhead direct to cougar mountain will also serve Tukwila international boulevard station.

      Also all shuttles EXCEPT for the mount si route will serve the Issaquah transit center. Including mailbox peak.

      Good news.

    2. it looks like they realized that a shuttle that doesn’t go to any transit stop is not that popular.

      1. just looked and saw the cougar mountain route will terminate at Tukwila international boulevard station. All routes except for mailbox peak will be served by light rail but those coming from downtown would be best taking the 101, Issaquah alps trailhead direct or sound transit 554 (Issaquah tc) to connect with the shuttle.

      2. The Renton section of the Cougar Mountain looks like a usable route for general-purpose local service, and amounts to effectively doubling the frequency of the 105, when it’s running. The express section from Renton to Tukwila Station is also a welcome bypass of the slow-and-meandering F-line and the hourly frequency of the 560. While it may not be the intended purpose, the Cougar Mountain shuttle to Link could be a great back-door way for someone in the Renton Highlands to get to SeaTac to catch a flight.

        One thing that does appear to be sorely missing from the Cougar Mountain shuttle, though – according to OneBusAway, it goes right by the Red Town Trailhead, without stopping, serving only the Sky Country Trailhead (*). This looks easily fixable.

        When I saw that the Mailbox shuttle now connects with the Mt. Si shuttle in North Bend, my first thought was “better check the schedule to see how long you have to wait to actually transfer between them”. Westbound, wait times are on the order of 3-5 minutes. Hopefully, the bus drivers will radio each other, and the Mt. Si driver will wait if a Mailbox bus is late.

        Eastbound, it doesn’t look like they gave much though to the schedules at all, with a 15-20 minute wait between buses. At Issaquah Transit Center, the Mailbox shuttle doesn’t seem to line up with the Renton route either, so I don’t know what they were thinking. Maybe Metro was speculating that somebody in Issaquah might want to switch buses the other way to hike Si, but the number of people doing that is going to be very, very small.

        Another welcome change they made, is they re-shuffled the stops around Capital Hill for the Mt. Si route to avoid traffic congestion on I-5 through downtown. Previously, going home, the bus would sit on the I-5 connector ramp, while it merges down to one lane, only to get off one exit later at Olive Way. The new route uses the Madison St. exit, which allows the bus to escape the freeway on an exit-only lane, just before the big merge, which will hopefully make the trips faster and more reliable.

        (*) It is also possible to hike Cougar Mountain straight out of Issaquah Transit Center, but the route isn’t obvious and you come in on the opposite side.

      3. “Eastbound, it doesn’t look like they gave much though to the schedules at all, with a 15-20 minute wait between buses”

        That’s what happened to be between the 554 and the Isaquah Alps shuttle at Issaquah Transit Center, although it was at least 20 minutes. I wasn’t going to make the last bus from Mt Baker so I took the 554, and when I got to the transit center it was a 20-minute wait with absolutely nobody else around.

      4. Never mind I see it in the web version. It appears to start on April 20. And it will also be serving little si, which is good news for those wanting that trail. No more adding two miles to my hike when I want to try the old big si trail.

        This is going to be a good summer nontheless. There’s so much interaction though between the schedules it’s hard to make it all mesh. But maybe it would have been better to invest in more 554 service to allow mount si and Issaquah alps to start in Issaquah as that route has hourly headway eastbound in the morning and westbound in the afternoon.

      5. “There’s so much interaction though between the schedules it’s hard to make it all mesh.”

        I think they should have just focused on the common case, which based on last year’s data, is people coming from Seattle – Issaquah. Just implement the Mailbox route as a timed connection at North Bend that waits for the incoming Mt. Si shuttle before departing, and call it good. There is no need to send the bus back and forth to Issaquah, nor is there a need to worry about Issaquah riders transferring to the Mt. Si. bus (the number of such riders is negligible and they all have cars – if they really want to, they can drive to North Bend P&R and avoid paying for a Discover Pass by meeting the bus there).

        Sometimes, I wonder too if the service hours running buses to and from Seattle would be better spent by just improving the weekend frequency of the 554. The shorter is, from the perspective of the overall transit system, definitely yes. But from the much narrow perspective of trailhead direct users, probably not. Bypassing Issaquah altogether on the way to North Bend saves several minutes of stoplights each direction, and even with improved frequency, you would still have wait times on the other of 10-15 minutes in Issaquah, each direction.

  9. My brother mentioned to me this morning that virtually every time he rides LINK, he sees someone cited for making the prescribed legal move of “tapping on” after failing to “tap off”, which is never publicly mentioned in any punitive connection at all.

    I know the reasons for the policy, none of which will hold a thimble-full of warm spit. Something about apportioning revenue among separate agencies- whose very presence in law enforcement violates the very spirit of Sound Transit as an integrated agency. Whose accounting department should be more than sufficient to internally apportion fares correctly without taking an innocent passenger to law for an easy mistake.

    My brother also notes that if reminders to “tap off” were larger and more emphatic, problem would be less. It’s like something in the system needs to show it’ll get ugly about small stuff. To me, main mystery all these years is why the passenger public, individually and as represented by things like the passengers’ union hasn’t just flat rebelled and refused to pay.

    On either side, ongoing tolerance of this policy is a character flaw on the part of all who legislate and everyone who tolerates. This isn’t any longer a matter of a bad thing we do. It’s become part of who we are. Whom I wish would give decency a break by publicly renouncing a policy conceived in selfishness and practiced with sanctimonious malice.

    Every month, I pay for any and all conceivable transportation. What I don’t use, I don’t get back. I paid you. And if I hadn’t “tapped on” once too often- we wouldn’t be having any discussion on the subject. Anybody sees it different, kindly make like a pie crust and flake off. Every ounce of effort I ever put forward to bring LINK about is now a matter of personal embarrassment to me.

    Mark Dublin

    1. The spirit of ST includes subarea equity. Knowing where riders tap off helps allocate both revenue and costs correctly.

    2. “violates the very spirit of Sound Transit as an integrated agency”

      I think you mean ORCA as an integrated entity. Sound Transit is not an integrated agency; it’s an overlay on top of other agencies’ territory to provide “regional transit”, which at its most fundamental meant transit between the agencies’ territories. The county-based agencies werem’t very good at that because their primary constituency was their local residents, so inter-county trips were always at the bottom of the priorities and there seemed to be no other way to serve them adequately.

  10. Northwest Now recently aired a segment about salmon recovery that covered the mandated removal of culverts and other barriers to salmon. An increase in the gas tax seems the best option to fund this, and a lot of other maintenance that needs to get done. I think the money for hybrid ferries is a publicity stunt by our wannabe presidential candidate governor.

  11. A few general thoughts on BOLT Service…

    1) Grateful it’s there. Really comfortable, safe, clean and gets me into Vancouver at 10:30 AM instead of 11:45 AM w/ Amtrak. I would prefer getting into Vancouver by 8 AM, as would most business travelers & day-trippers.

    2) This whining about a relatively few extra minutes to serve Everett and hopefully Mt. Vernon makes me not just cringe but fume. I would as a sop to those who complain/disagree require those stops be booked 24 hours in advance – the Bellair Airporter requires the same of some stops.

    3) Long term, I’d like to see BOLT replace the Seattle & Everett stops with either Lynnwood Station or Mountlake Terrace and Canada Line’s Bridgeport Station. The former is pretty obvious for readers of this blog aware of ST2 & ST3 Link light rail construction. For the latter, a few stations on the Canada Line to the YVR international airport terminals, half hour on light rail downtown.

    4) Having BOLT be able to take me from Portland to Everett and hopefully Mount Vernon would be much appreciated. Really give Amtrak Cascades a run for the money, and with the financial future of Amtrak very much in jeopardy… needed.

    Just a few thoughts from an occasional BOLT rider.

Comments are closed.