So much good stuff in this Mike Lindblom piece on First Avenue buses (including the title!) in the Times:

The C Line is the busiest of 12 former Alaskan Way Viaduct routes that serve nearly 30,000 passengers from West Seattle, White Center or Burien. They moved last month to the Highway 99 tunnel’s new stadium-area interchange when the viaduct closed for good.

The buses eventually will get bus lanes on waterfront Alaskan Way, but this year they’re detouring on First Avenue through the historic Pioneer Square district.

Read the whole thing. It’s gonna be a tough year for buses using the interim 1st Avenue pathway until Alaskan Way opens. Lindblom explains the ins and outs and alternatives incredibly well.

However, I would suggest to Mayor Durkan that this framing is, er… not helpful:

“Big events are nothing new, and they’re nothing new for big cities anywhere in America,” [Durkan] said. When there’s a game during rush hour, that’s the time to stay downtown, have dinner and not be in a hurry to go home, she said.

I love me a good happy hour, but as the mayor surely knows, many bus riders have to pick a kid up from day care or head out to a second job or any number of things that make it hard to just chill out downtown until 7pm or later.

51 Replies to “Tough Baseball Season Ahead for Transit Riders”

  1. I am increasingly forming the attitude that comes next election I will cast my vote for anyone other than Durkin. She’s anti-transit and anti-bike as far as I can see

      1. Dude, how do you have time to comment when you really should be yelling at the kids to stay off your grass?

    1. Smirkin’ Durkan doesn’t care about transit.


      Done with Durkan.

      Durkan: status quo

      Durkan: making traffic great again

      Durkan dunks for traffic.

      Durkan doesn’t get it.

      Durkan deserves a D. (credit: The Urbanist)

      Durkan: Grade D on transit.


      Durkan’t spare a lane for transit.

      Jenny clogged the block
      Used to move many now can’t move a lot (oof that was terrible)

      So who wants to start a PAC and throw some $$ at online ads? (And maybe some writers.)

  2. Why not just build a bus lane and get rid of parking on first past S Jackson…oh and rename that stop to be announced as”S King St” instead of S Jackson since it is over 2 blocks from Jackson…(I literally just got off at that stop… And was preplexed)

    1. The article explains that they can’t build a bus lane on 1st. Buses are too heavy to use the outer lanes because the street is hollow underneath (as any underground tour guide would tell you).

      1. what changed between fall 2011 and today? 1st Avenue carried many bus trips in 2011. it carried many trips northbound until the CCC utility work began. did Bertha cause the land to sink? the area ways have existed for a century.

      2. I used to catch a bus at 1st and Jackson every day for several years before buses were moved off of 1st. The volume through Pioneer Square was no where near as high as it is right now.

      3. I am having trouble remembering. How far south did the 15 and the 18 go? The busses might have been lighter. I don’t know. I am just curious. I know we used to take them to games in the 80’s and 90’s.

      4. The buses WERE considerably lighter. Modern hybrids have more weight in the batteries and electrical equipment than they do in the prime mover.

    2. The “underground Seattle”” issue with buses in the right lane was an interesting point to the story, and explains why bus drivers have been sticking so close to the left lane on 1st Ave.

      But this doesn’t let the city off the hook. There is legal car storage along both sides of 1st Ave through this extremely congested section. Center bus lanes could be created for portions of the corridor, while the 2 general auto lanes are moved to the right. By not acting, the City is saying that 60 or so parking spots (peak hours only) are more important than delaying 30,000 people/day by over 10 minutes each directions. I know that it is only for a year, but these changes can be made with paint.

      1. Well said, but “the businesses” would screech. At least do this on game days, though. “No Parking On Game Days”. Easy-peasy.

  3. There’s 81 baseball games a year here, assuming (probably accurately) that the Mariners don’t make the post-season. “Stay downtown past 7 every night there’s a home game” is kind of insane.

    1. Right?! I could actually afford it and I still recoiled. This is the suggestion of somebody completely out-of-touch with the economic and logistical realities of her constituents.

    2. many bus riders have to pick a kid up from day care or head out to a second job or any number of things that make it hard to just chill out downtown until 7pm or later.

      And if you’re relying on a transfer outside of Seattle your xfer penalty comes in 30 min increments. After 7PM your bus may turn into a pumpkin. The result will be more people opting to drive on game days making the situation that much worse.

  4. Trust me Frank, the current Mayor doesn’t know or care. Also for the STB commentariat’s awareness, one of the strongest rhetorical weapons used against transit advocates is parents legitimately complaining about lost parenting time.

  5. Some people don’t like downtown. Some people aren’t social. Lots of people have kids, and most have a spouse or significant other who they’d prefer to spend time with over their DB co-workers or overbearing boss. Lots of downtown employees get on a bus or in their car to head to the suburbs because they can’t afford to live anywhere in Seattle, let alone have spare money for happy hour. Also, who cares for the children after work???????? Jenny, are you offering to pay for overtime at daycare? Jenny, will you please go an pick up my kids from the neighbor who is watching them? Yeah, what I thought.

    Jenny Durkan: an entitled little princess completely out of touch with the real world.
    Vote her out in the next election. (Why did people vote for her again?)

    PS why I don’t/won’t work in Seattle.

    1. They voted for her because the alternative was a completely untested romantic.

    2. I believe the powers that be pushed Jenny because after Murray was forced out of the political scene due to his unsavory past behavior, there were the Mayoral possibilities of Nikkita Oliver, who was thought to be too radical, and Mike McGinn, who didn’t play well with the politicos in City Hall and Olympia. She was the one in their eyes who could play ball with the elites and could be counted on to maintain the status quo even if she accomplished nothing.

      1. Moon made the runoff, not Oliver. I still wonder how the anti-Durkan forces (e.g., the Stranger board) managed to split between Moon (who they endorsed), Oliver (who had a “dissenting” endorsement’) and Farrell (who actually, was in government).

  6. What about the people who reverse commute and are trying to get back to downtown, belltown, capitol hill etc. in the evening because that’s where they live? It’s even more unreasonable to expect people to linger on the eastside in the evening. I’m surprised reverse commuters don’t get more consideration since alot of them do live in Seattle.

    1. Reverse commuters who work on the eastside have options. For instance, DT Bellevue and the Microsoft campus each have buses to the U-district, where you can transfer to Link to go downtown, and avoid gameday traffic.

      It is the West Seattle folks who have no good options. The only public transportation available that bypasses the stadium area is the water taxi, but after 7 PM, the water taxi is running once an hour, and the shuttle that connects it to the Junction isn’t running at all. I suppose you could ride the water taxi, then ride a Lime Bike home from Seacrest Park, but not everybody is willing to do that.

      There are, of course, plenty of “bypass” options for those who drive downtown and aren’t constrained by the routing of the transit buses. The 99 tunnel is one (if everyone is getting off at the exit to the stadiums, the thru-lane should be uncongested). Even getting on I-5 south at Denny could be smooth sailing at 10 PM, when the game is ending, and the C-line’s slog through Pioneer Square is going to be a total mess.

      The result is that we end up with a system where the incentives are completely backwards from what they should be. The way it should work, you drive, you sit in traffic, if you want to avoid traffic, you ride the bus. But, the way this actually looks, you ride the bus, you sit in traffic, and if you want avoid the traffic, you drive you car, and, in doing so, make the traffic worse for everybody else.

      Ultimately, I think if transit priority on 1st Ave. isn’t possible, then the C-line has to have some sort of temporary reroute during baseball games to avoid it. Potential options could include riding the 99 tunnel to SLU and serving the C-line bus stops in the opposite direction, or getting on I-5 at James St., and accessing the West Seattle bridge from that. My guess is that the 99 tunnel would be the better option in the northbound direction, and I-5, the better option in the southbound direction, but I’m not sure.

    2. People on the 131 and 132 screwed forever on game days. I’m surprised there hasn’t been an uproar over this. Some West Seattle routes like the 21 have been on 4th recently so they must experience it too. What’s new is the West Seattle viaduct routes getting a taste of it.

  7. Wow, that comment by Durkin is so out of touch. I’ll just tell my kids and family that I’m home late because I was at happy hour, spending money on $10 cocktails. sure.

    1. My dad worked downtown in the 80s and early 90s, first near Seattle Center and later in Pioneer Square. He sometimes stayed downtown until 7pm to avoid the traffic. It didn’t bother him. He went to the Elliott Bay Cafe and wrote on yellow pads for a couple hours.

      1. I, for one, am excited that we can expect the mayor to tell drivers to just stay downtown until 7pm when they complain about road congestion, congestion pricing, transit lanes, etc. This is a great relief.

  8. 81 days out of a year isn’t that big a deal, and a lot of those games will be on weekends anyhow. On top of that, this is only temporary anyhow. Relax. Deal with it. It will be over soon.

    And besides, the M’s look to be horrible this year anyhow. They will probably take care of this problem on their own.

    And of course, for those who can make use of it, Light Rail will be unaffected. Use it if you can.

    1. Exactly. Ride to SoDo and change to the 50 or walk to First Avenue. Lots of Starbuckians do that and they’re going one way or the other during the night in the winter.

      1. Yep. The Seattle Times loves to whine and wail about all things ST. I think they were disappointed when the buses moved to the surface and basically nothing happened. This is just a manufactured piece to turn the page and wail about something new. It’s not a real issue in any meaningful way.

    2. There are more events at the stadiums than just Ms games.. concerts, conventions, soccer, American rules rugby, etc. And it’s not like people don’t work on weekends or need to get to/thru DT. Crowds for those events tend to be the largest when transit alternatives are already reduced.

  9. So… what could we actually do, instead of just making tone-deaf statements?

    I think we should limit the number of parking spaces operable for baseball games.

    Similarly, I think we should limit the number of parking spaces operable for office commuters every damn day.

    It’s just not acceptable for our public streets and our transit network to grind to a halt every day, less so for a quadrant of the city to get cut off almost half the days during the summer. We know there are more parking spaces than we can fill without crippling congestion. We should do something real to put a stop to it.

      1. The State legislature has to approve it. What do you really think are the possibilities of that passing this session? Slim to none to fantasy.

      2. I don’t doubt the difficulty of passage, but believe it would be beneficial policy for the coffers and traffic reduction.

      3. Mike,

        Unfortunately, the Governor does not control the legislature, even though his party is nominally in control. There are way too many suburban Democrats who have a strong incentive (e.g. “getting re-elected”) to oppose congestion pricing which is directly aimed at their constituents.

        Those of us within city limits typically have reasonable transit alternatives for most trips. Grant that most suburbanites in Central Puget Sound have work commute transit alternatives if they work in the U-District, downtown Seattle or Bellevue. But they don’t have decent mid-day, weekend and evening alternatives for the odd trip to downtown Seattle for an activity.

        No, most don’t make those trips very often, but they want them to be free when they go. So they’re “constitutionally” opposed to congestion pricing. They just are.

      4. Congestion Charge pricing really has zero chance if the Mayor won’t support it. I seem to remember that she has voiced support for it in the past? I’ve heard the same “no chance” argument against freeway tolls but those seem to be creeping into place.

    1. What we need is a binding prioritization plan for peds, transit, bikes, and cars. The first three’s order may be debatable but the fourth should definitely be last. That’s what Paris does. It has standards for ped, transit, and bike infrastructure, and cars get whatever’s left over, and they aren’t allowed to impede BRT lanes. The BRT lanes even have a little divider between them and the car lanes. We clearly need some automobile capacity for emergency vehicles, working trucks, gardeners carrying their tools, people moving large loads, disabled people who can’t get to bus stops, and we can have some more capacity for optional choice trips. But the idea that we must give car commuters top priority so that the majority of people can drive to work or a ballgame and not have pesky buses or bikes in their way has to go. It doesn’t scale. It requires a huge number of lanes and parking spaces and even then it still causes major congestion.

      1. We have streets we need to run transit on that don’t have room for bus lanes. Take the 62. What do you do about Dexter? It’s not wide enough to have transit lanes for much of its length. It’s not important enough to have priority at Mercer. People that rely on the 62 face southbound backups stretching a mile back from Mercer often.

        We can’t get out of that by reconfiguring right-of-way. Only by reducing the number of cars!

        The problems near the stadiums are similar. We have transit priority coming for West Seattle but it’s not done yet; in the mean time apparently we can’t convert parking spaces to bus lanes because that part of the road is vaulted and can’t support buses? Even if we solved the problem for buses, there are lots of other transportation needs in the area, especially for freight… and that’s supposed to halt every time there’s a baseball game?

        No. We should say, “Yeah, we made a mistake by permitting so much parking, but it isn’t working. You can only operate so much.”

      2. The first three’s order is definitely not debatable. When we are trying to move the most people the order is pedestrians, transit, then bikes. Full stop. Almost everyone can and does walk at least a bit (and of course the pedestrian/transit relationship is symbiotic); nearly everyone of all age groups and abilities can ride transit. These two things should be absolute priority. Car traffic is a distant last of course, and business/delivery/truck traffic can be slotted in as necessities but perhaps in scheduled time slots or not at peak hours.

        Not arguing your post at all, Mike – I’m in full agreement with what you say other than my comment above.

      3. Dexter has in-lane bus stops. That’s the kind of transit priority that’s appropriate for Dexter.

  10. I have been at games prior to the squeeze that took an hour to get north of Cherry. The situation is going to be Fd-up. The mayor is an easy target. Maybe she deserves it. It was going to be Fd-up anyway. Even after the squeeze, it will never be smooth. I hope for better, but it is not the end of the world. I have been going to games down here for 40+ years. I now take Link. It is like trying to catch a train on a long dead end street during a neighborhood parade. It has the capacity to move people, but landlocked between King County property. Loading and unloading is slow because nobody can get to or from the south end of the platform. On Sunday mornings, however a nice place to sit.

  11. Everyone in West Seattle is sick of the awful bus routing (even though it’s temporary) and it’s nice to see this piece. I’m thankful that Mike Lindbloom rides the C-line to work and is getting the word out.

    It was a really bad idea for the city to give a damn about transit for 3 weeks during the viaduct closure–now we are all aware that they COULD make the bus network better, if they wanted to, and it would only take a few simple changes to do so. Instead I’m left with the memories of 3 weeks of excellent commutes and a bunch of bitterness about the current situation where I mostly drive around because the buses are too slow to get me anywhere in a reasonable time.

    The fix for Pioneer Square is pretty simple, just make the LEFT lane the bus-only lane and get rid of the parking. But of course it will never happen.

  12. Just out of curiosity, have any Ballardites tried taking light rail to UW and taking the 44 back? I could see doing it in a Fishpocalypse scenario, but not so sure about a baseball game (where the team won’t draw much unless the Yankees, Red Sox, or Blue Jays are in town).

    1. I think the 44 is too slow for such a trip to make sense. The 40 and D-line, I believe, begin their route on 3rd Ave., which is mostly restricted to buses, so they may not experience the full gameday delays that buses on other streets would experience.

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