This is an open thread.

86 Replies to “News Roundup: Positive”

  1. Something bothers me a bit about Metro launching “Via to Transit,” that there are many of these services that are very fragmented. In terms of services, you have Via to Transit and Ride2, to get you to fixed-route services. Then there’s DART, which is itself kind of in-between fixed route and on-demand pickup (in that it has a base route, and goes off route when there is a pickup request).

    It doesn’t really seem like a clear strategy, and isn’t integrated at all with DART. Though their options are limited because DART service is contracted out, it would be great to see them work with Hopelink to maybe modernize DART a little bit, like with an app to request pickups and provide an ETA. The app would also help people determine whether a location is in the service area for any DART route, and make it more used in general. Then it would be great to see a large expansion of DART service in lieu of these multiple disconnected off-route services. The 50 could be converted to DART, and another Rainier Valley DART route could be added. Maybe starting at Mt. Baker, taking over the 14 tail and continuing, overlapping the 50 a bit through Seward Park, and going to RBS. There could be more DART expansion in Tukwila and Eastgate. During the U-Link discussion, Metro was considering a proper DART route in Laurelhurst, which seems to make a lot more sense than the 78, which barely even runs and barely even goes anywhere.

    1. They’re pretty different use cases. DART is a well-tested model for the lowest-density fringe areas. It doesn’t run on-demand but has an hourly semi-fixed route on an arterial between a transit center and a shopping center, or a transit center and a residential loop, and you can make reservations for it to deviate off the route in a certain area. Via is in a city that has fixed-route service every mile or so, and it’s just offering fill-in service between those routes, so it’s more of a traditional “last-mile” last-mile service, while a DART trip may be several miles. Via is also on-demand app-driven, which can be more efficient in cities because there are more people traveling at every hour. Ride 2 is kind of in-between; I’m not sure how it differs from Via but maybe it charges a higher fare and doesn’t accept transfers. In any case, it’s an earlier experiment, and in a low-density suburb. Via has two different halves, so the Rainier portion and the apartments along Southcenter Blvd are a first for Metro to serve this way, while outer Tukwila and the Lake Washington shoreside are more like south-central Bellevue or east Kent where Ride 2 and DART operate.

  2. Streetsblog, the Seattle Times, and everyone should stop repeating the lie that the 2nd Ave bike lanes cost $12 million per mile. Rebuilding a downtown street cost $12 million per mile. Bike lanes were part of that street renovation. So were street lights. So was paving. Lots went into rebuilding 2nd Ave. It wasn’t just bike lanes.

      1. I wish I could give you both a thumbs up. It’s hard to get people to stop repeating a narrative they like, even when it’s demonstrably false. It feels like it will take an advocacy group to start sueing for libel to get this one to die.

        I live close enough to 35th Ave. to directly feel the pain in this dispute. That, and the oft repeated “why not side streets” (because side streets aren’t level, well maintained, or easy to use with both cars and bikes, that’s why not) argument have way too much power in this city.

    1. You can say the same thing about the CCC. Most of the cost is in the utility upgrades and associated street rebuild, and that work needs to occur with or without the SC.

      1. Maybe a quarter of the CCC capital costs, and none of the operational costs, of the CCC are utilities. Even the ones that need to happen anyway weren’t urgent – they’re happening because nobody wants to re-open a street with an active rail line on it ever again. So it’s all incremental to the project.

        The supposed low-cost of the 2nd Ave bike lanes is overblown. Some of the costs were arguably gold-plating, but they’re all real. When one builds something in an urban environment, one has to move many other things around. So the alterations to the sidewalk and curb cuts across the bike lanes are real costs. The fancy new signals are real costs – they’re a major feature of the bike lanes in fact.

      2. Dan: another perspective is that those “gold plating” features like bike signals are only necessitated because the road is dominated by cars. Essentially, they *are* car infrastructure just as much as signals that prevent cars from crashing in to other cars, for obvious reasons.

      3. I didn’t mean the signals when I referenced “gold-plating”. Those are essential to the project. Mike Lindblom’s piece (which I recommend), does describe some other elements like the new drainage under the bike lane that looks unnecessarily spendy.

        Sure, in an imaginary world where we weren’t starting with so many cars, these things would be cheaper. But that’s not the world we inherited. So I don’t see it as productive to wave away costs as required by cars. They’re necessary costs of inserting bike infrastructure into the environment as it exists.

      4. @Dan,

        Of course you are right. We don’t have to upgrade our infrastructure. In fact, America is very good at not upgrading our infrastructure. It is why we have the roads and bridges that we have, why we have the educational facilities that we have, why we have the streets that we have, and why we have the transportation system that we have.

        So,yes , doing nothing is of course an option. It just isn’t a very good option.

      5. You seem determined to miss the point. If your arguments for the CCC require you to misrepresent what stuff costs and why, maybe your argument isn’t as compelling as you imagine.

      6. I think you are missing the point. Yes, it costs a lot to replace and upgrade the utilities under First, but there is no doubt that that will need to be done at some point. The CCC is just a convenient target for the city to attach the cost to.

        In regards to the economics of the CCC, even the consultants that Durkan hired to kill it came back and said it made economic sense. The only real question is whether all these additional add ons will finally be too much for the politicians to handle.

        There is a reason Seattle is so far behind with transit, and the saga of the CCC is illustrative of why.

      7. Dan Ryan, I’ll agree that the $136K might be a lowball. But the $12m is definitely inflated. Was 2nd Ave at all in need of repaving, or new drainage, or new street lamps (not bike signals, street lamps.) If so, putting the whole accounting of cost on bike lanes seems disingenuous.

        I don’t know the details of this particular project, but I don’t believe the soundbite that Mike Lindblom popularized. The infographic in the article makes a very different point than the headline. Seattle Times readers love the “war on cars” narrative. Mike’s piece served that mission.

        As a simpler, theoretical example, say a city needs to repave Main St. in Anytown, US. When the city repaves, they decide to stripe bike lanes. Voila, the cost of paving is now assumed by bike lanes. That’s the narrative this story puts forth.

      8. @Lazarus,

        Utility and street maintenance are unavoidable costs. Utility relocation and chopping up sidewalks are not.

    2. It was also signals that are routinely ignored by the few entitled cyclists using the lane

      1. Are you saying only a few bicyclists are using the lane, and they are ignoring signals? Got pics?

        Or that the vast majority of bikers using the lane are obeying the signals, just like car drivers do?

      2. How does the entitlement of the people riding bikes compare to the entitlement of people driving cars downtown? Or are you saying that the people driving cars follow all signals?

    3. How much did the FHSC spend on the bicycle track (all counted as a “transit” project)? If someone wants to parse out only the bicycle lane cost on Second, they should support parsing the Broadway project too. In Broadway’s case, that was transit tax dollars for a bicycle lane project.

    1. Moreover, it should help make batteries easier to cycle at the end of their lifetimes, which will probably be shorter real time on buses (not an attack, just a statement) because busses are cycling the batteries more from their start-stop usage and their long hours on the road compared with many other vehicles. If battery companies are invested in tye whole life cycle of the battery, it will make the process of using batteries a lot more reasonable.

  3. While implementing a contracted-out ride-to-Link-stations service in Rainier Valley and Tukwila makes some demographic sense vs. doing it elsewhere, I have to wonder what else we could have done more effectively with the $2.7 million the City is spending on one year of this service.

    I get it that that $2.7 million could only be spent for service, not capital improvements. But $2.7 million could have built some good protected bike lanes if the proposition didn’t have that confounded limitation. Unlike this service, jumping on your bike has no wait time. At the end of one year of this service, we’ll end up with nothing to show for it, besides reduced local bus ridership.

    If this sales tax gets renewed, let’s make sure that next time the anti-transit trolls don’t get away with restricting the money to service only. And let’s make sure a chunk of Move Seattle next time is reserved to bike infrastructure, a chunk to pedestrian infrastructure, and a chunk to transit priority improvements. Move Seattle has pretty much given up the ghost of being anything but for SOVs and moving cars faster instead of more safely.

    1. Move Seattle was based on fantasy cost estimates. If there’s blame to place, it’s for the insanely low cost estimates for the items listed. That blame lies with a team of staff people, starting with the young and inexperienced SDOT director (no cost estimating experience) at the time. The other problem was funding many projects too early and without enough contingencies — without having enough design or public consideration.

      Cars merely use the road. It’s people who didn’t do their jobs well that are to blame.

      1. The City is spending a good chunk of a million dollars to re-stripe a few miles of 35th Ave NE. Adding the PBLs wouldn’t have added to the cost. That was a purely political, and purely-cater-to-the-anti-bike-crowd decision that saved the City nothing, and only brought focus to urbanists already skeptical of where Durkan’s transportation priorities are headed.

        I don’t recall Move Seattle being about projects to speed up traffic. And yet, that is what the City is spending money on on 35th Ave NE and 15th Ave S. As a frequent bus rider on 15th Ave S, I’m a little miffed that the City never asked the bus riders for input. The City is making 15th Ave S less safe for pedestrians. That is not what I voted for at all.

    2. If we can’t do this, what can we do for locations that don’t have a good transit option to the station, or where the coverage bus comes half-hourly or hourly and it’s a long wait for it. This service replaces building P&Rs in Rainier Valley. Look at Rainier View or the part east of Rainier Avenue. Yes, the money could go into a coverage route and that might serve a few more people, but it would leave people out who don’t live near that route. This service covers every location in the valley, even where it’s a long walk or over a hill to get to a bus route.

      1. Things the City could do:

        1. Provide safe bike pathways to light rail stations, including PBLs on arterials.
        2. Work with Metro to have bus stops on the sides of MLK that enable the quickest access to/from light rail stations. As in, put those stops before crossing MLK. Also, put stops for route 106 adjacent to stations, so riders don’t have to cross two streets to transfer.
        3. Amp up policing around stations. Where crowds congregate, that is where a police beat can be most impactful.
        4. Fix the 60/107 schedules (partially funded by the City) so they aren’t pre-bunched all the time off-peak. Having both leave BHS southbound back-to-back in evenings and on weekends is a yuge waste of sales tax money. They could easily be fixed to have roughly 15-minute headway between them all the way to midnight. Once ridership is induced by better scheduling, 10-minute headway could then be justified, matching the Link schedules. The 15th Ave S corridor south of BHS has lots of apartments and more going up.
        5. Raise the parking zone fees to begin covering the cost of maintaining the asphalt under the cars homeowners tend to park on top of the public ROW, while maintaining a significant low-income discount. The fees are currently set to simply cover the cost of administering the program, and are far cheaper than the annual cost of ORCA passes.
        6. Bring back VisionZero, so people can feel safer walking or biking to the station.
        7. Fix Rainier. Pretty please.
        8. Upzone much higher around stations, so people who like to take transit can live closer to it. Everett is planning on making all the buildings in its waterfront park 6 stories. Why the heck are there brand-new buildings shorter than that along MLK? That is insanely stupid.
        9. Don’t contract the ride-to-Link service to just one provider. That results in the provider bailing without notice, leaving the service suddenly gone.

      2. This service covers every location in the valley, even where it’s a long walk or over a hill to get to a bus route.

        Yes, but it only connects someone to a Link Station. What if, for example, you are trying to get from Hillman City to Cleveland High School (https://goo.gl/maps/pkEutNgfkuw6ViXr7). This is not an obscure trip. This is from an urban area (right off a major bus line) to a public high school (also off a major bus line). This is a trip that takes less than ten minutes if driving, and yet requires 34 minutes of walking along with riding a bus that runs every half hour.

        I suppose you could try and cheat the system, and basically take a ride to the station, and then from the station to your destination. The problem is that taxi-cab service in an area as urban as this is simply not cost effective. There is no evidence to suggest that this approach will actually provide better service than if you simply put the money into fixed route bus service.

        In fact, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. Taxicab service (which is essentially what this is) simply doesn’t scale. It is common for such service to have ridership orders of magnitude below even the worst fixed route buses. This really is a twisted argument. Somehow this is going to pick up lots of riders every hour, yet the area being served does not have the density to justify additional fixed route bus service. It is absurd. It treats Rainier Valley like it is suburban Flagstaff.

        This type of service *does* have its place. It makes sense for extremely low density areas — areas that can’t justify a bus route — any bus route. It makes sense for people who have mobility issues. In both cases, the only way to prevent this from being a complete money pit is to sacrifice the very aspect that some find so attractive. You can’t expect a ride directly to the station, nor can you expect the ride when you want it. At best this will operate like an airporter, in that it will pick up people at a designated time (often a half hour earlier than they would like) and pick up several people along the way. Even then it won’t be as cost effective as if we simply improved bus service.

      3. On point 2:

        The bus transfers at the Rainier Valley Link stations are indeed awful as you say. The questions become “what did the agencies do wrong” and “who cares enough to fix it?”

        Clearly, the staff and designers involved didn’t understand transferring. They’ve been open almost 10 years now and daily users see the problems.

        Each station needs a targeted Mode of Access plan to revisit and develop a consensus of solutions — with rider and driver participation front and center (as opposed to primarily vocal ancillary groups like business interests, neighborhood protectors and bicyclists who don’t use transit).

      4. RossB: In fact, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. Taxicab service (which is essentially what this is) simply doesn’t scale. It is common for such service to have ridership orders of magnitude below even the worst fixed route buses.

        Taxicab service can scale better if allowed to. Unfortunately, we created a model where we artificially limited the number of available taxis by capping the number of medallions. So, some sort of black market was going to develop to make up the difference, and so was born “ridesharing”.

        The City Council eventually relented, and uncapped the taxi services, but the cat was already out of the bag.

      5. @Brent — No, sorry, it simply doesn’t scale. More taxicabs means more cars, which take up too much room. This was why cities all over the country (and world) limited the number of cabs in the first place. But even if there were unlimited road space, it still doesn’t scale. You still have to handle peak load and lean times. That means having lots of cars at the ready during rush hour, while they sit idle much of the day. Unregulated taxicab systems (like Uber and Lyft) simply charge more during peak demand. But if you are trying to provide a publicly subsidized system, you can’t do that. You either accept the weakness of the system (e. g. you can’t get a cab during peak demand) or you subsidize it heavily (lots of drivers with nothing to do much of the day).

        In contrast, transit of all types scale, and scale really well. Buses can run practically empty and still carry more riders per hour than most cabs. During rush hour, they carry way more. A bus that runs every half hour gets crowded, so the transit agency doubles the frequency, to fifteen minutes. This is an improvement for the rider, which in turn leads to more ridership. Once frequent service is common, the agency can change the nature of routes. They can offer special express overlays for rush hour. Or they can take advantage of the high frequency, and transition from a hub and spoke system to a grid. Doing so makes it easier and faster to get to a lot more places. Transit lanes enable faster service, and become justified given the number of people riding transit instead of cars. Big buses replace small buses; big trains replace buses. The more and more people who use it, the better it gets. It all scales. Taxicabs just don’t work like that.

      6. @RossB,

        Yes, of course, transit scales better in cities than taxis do.

        But taxis still scale better than park & rides. The taxis at least take the place of the car trips, but don’t take up the premium parking space, and are available to pick up other passengers when not making the peak trip. Shared taxis would be even better, of course, but hard to scale for a last-mile implementation.

        If you are talking about road space, then bikes scale much better than private cars or taxis, and require much less parking space. Subsidizing bike cages and lockers may be a lot more cost-efficient than the taxi scheme. Yeah, not everyone can bike, but most could, if the City would get on with providing safe bike pathways.

      7. “it simply doesn’t scale. More taxicabs means more cars, which take up too much room. This was why cities all over the country (and world) limited the number of cabs in the first place.”

        We’re talking about small residential streets that see one car every five minutes, There’s room for another taxi or two. They’re only on major streets for a few blocks to get to the station entrance. There could be a bottleneck there, but hopefully the entrance is designed so they aren’t blocking buses or bikes, just SOVs. A last’ mile trip that extends the transit network is different from a cross-town trip that competes with transit. Not everybody can or wants to ride a bike to the station, so expecting everybody to do that just means they’ll drive all the way to their destination. On-demand last-mile taxis may be less efficient than buses but we’ve found no better solution, and the lack of transportation to the station is a major reason people cite for why they don’t use Link.

      8. I think there may be some confusion with “scaling” in this context. I meant “scale up”. There are some things that get better and better the larger they become. Software development is a classic example. It takes a lot of effort to make something like an operating system. But once you have made it, you can make millions and millions of copies at little cost. The cost per item — per operating system — goes down. This is what is meant by the term “economy of scale”.

        The same is true for transit, but it is a little bit harder to measure. With something like an operating system, every item is the same, and the cost goes down. With transit, the quality of the service goes up. But you can consider a certain level of quality (e. g. being able to get to your destination in half the time it would take you to walk) being an item. It is this item that has the economy of scale. The bigger the system gets, the better it gets per dollar spent.

        This simply isn’t the case with taxi-cabs. They plateau fairly quickly. The same is true for park and ride lots, but that misses the point. We can talk about other systems that don’t scale all day. My point is that transit scales, and this does not.

        At the same time, there are systems that scale down. There are systems that work quite well at a very low level. Teaching is a good example. A single room schoolhouse for an entire town works just fine. Taxi service also scaled down reasonably well. Transit, on other hand, does not scale down. A bus running once a day in small town is just not worth it. Thus there is a point at which it makes sense to transition from taxi-cab service to fixed route transit.

        The thing is, it is obvious that *within the coverage area*, we have greatly exceeded that point. The 50, for example, only runs every half hour. Since it doesn’t go downtown, runs infrequently, and covers a relatively low density area, it doesn’t have great ridership. But it still manages to pick up 19 riders an hour, off peak. This micro-transit system will be lucky if it gets 1/10 that. Seriously, if these free taxi-cabs pick up 2 riders an hour (on average, off peak) they will be doing great. If the taxi-cabs do manage to come close to the performance of the lowest performing bus in the region, they will crowd the streets close to the train station.

        I really don’t know what part of Rainier Valley you are referring to, Mike, when you say “one car every five minutes”. I’ve walked around there a lot, and that certainly hasn’t been my experience. But even if there are streets of this nature, the service is not restricted to those streets. There is nothing stopping someone from picking up a ride on 50th Avenue South (in the Seward Park neighborhood) instead of waiting for a 50. There is certainly nothing stopping someone from catching a cab a couple blocks away (on a street that may be just as desolate as you suggest). But that still isn’t a good use of money. This is luxury service masquerading as public transit. There is an alternative, which is to increase regular transit. It won’t serve everyone, but this doesn’t serve everyone either. It makes way more sense to improve transit in the area — like running the 50 more often, and creating similar routes — as that would serve more people for the same amount of money.

      9. “I really don’t know what part of Rainier Valley you are referring to, Mike, when you say “one car every five minutes”

        Yesterday I was on Beacon Hill. I got out of the station, heading toward Jefferson Park, when I saw a sign “12th Avenue Viewpoint”. I decided to see what that was, then saw a grove of trees a couple blocks south which turned out to be a wooded canyon. I walked from there to Jefferson Park. All those side streets were as I said, a car every five minutes. Maybe more than that, but the streets were by no possible defintion full. The top of Beacon Hill is too narrow for this kind of on-demand service, but Rainier Valley is a large 2-dimensional area where it’s more needed. Look at all the blocks between Genesee and Henderson east of Rainier, with only an Othello bus in between. And Rainier itself is a 20-mintue walk from the station south of Othello, then there’s everything south of Henderson, and up north by Mt Baker with steep hills, and further north in the eastern Central District.

        “There is nothing stopping someone from picking up a ride on 50th Avenue South (in the Seward Park neighborhood) instead of waiting for a 50.”

        Just because some people near a bus stop might abuse it is no reason to ignore the people who aren’t near a bus stop. And when the 50 is hourly, it’s like it hardly even exists; it’s just not practical schedule many of your trips around it. I’ve lived near hourly buses and a lot of times I waited idly at home or at the bus stop for half an hour (or an hour if I just missed it) or didn’t make the trip. But it also has another competitor, driving., which is the default mode in American society and something transit is trying to overcome.

        I’d agree with making the 50 more frequent instead, and adding some TBD other routes in Rainier Valley and Tukwila. But we don’t have a political climate to get those approved anytime soon, so it’s either Via or nothing. Plus this is a pilot. We’ll see how it performs. The results may make other alternatives more politically palatable. Plus we’ll be closer to Metro Connects which will have more bus service.

      10. Just because some people near a bus stop might abuse it is no reason to ignore the people who aren’t near a bus stop. And when the 50 is hourly, it’s like it hardly even exists; it’s just not practical schedule many of your trips around it.

        It isn’t abuse. This will come in handy for folks who don’t want to walk very far, or wait very long. But the result is a waste of money. These sorts of programs are very expensive for the number of people they serve. Micro-transit makes sense in an area that is extremely low density. There just aren’t many places like that in Rainier Valley. Even with existing bus service, you can see very few pockets without service. What is needed is more service on the 50, more routes, and just live with the fact that not everyone can have an easy walk to transit (some people will have to walk ten minutes to catch a bus).

        I’d agree with making the 50 more frequent instead, and adding some TBD other routes in Rainier Valley and Tukwila. But we don’t have a political climate to get those approved anytime soon, so it’s either Via or nothing.

        Exactly. This is a BS plan, that will fail to be cost effective, the way that every similar plan has failed to be cost effective.

      11. The 50, for example, only runs every half hour. Since it doesn’t go downtown, runs infrequently, and covers a relatively low density area, it doesn’t have great ridership. But it still manages to pick up 19 riders an hour, off peak.

        Most of those 19 riders are between West Seattle neighborhoods and Alki Beach.

        Perhaps if route 50 were re-routed to head to Beacon Hill Station, terminate there, and bumped up to 10-minute all-day headway, it would pick up a lot more riders east of 15th Ave S. That would cost on the same order of magnitude as this experiment. It’s not as if route 50 will still be around once West Seattle Link opens.

        Route 128 would be a much better ridership match for extending to Alki Beach, as Metro wanted to do during the last reorg.

        Raising route 21 to 10-minute headway, and having it terminate at SODO Station, would be a good way to simulate a good chunk of West Seattle Link service. The truncation would provide the service hours.

      12. The big problem with Route 50 is that except for Link, the VA hospital, some limited retail and a few schools, it doesn’t serve many direct destinations. Requiring transfers for an infrequent bus makes it fairly impractical — because transit is only as good as the least frequent connection.

        The route needs to be revisited. It should connect to more community destinations. However, if it’s redesigned, all sorts of other challenges kick in.

        Rather than change things incrementally, let’s work backward from the Judkins Park Station opening in 2023. How SE Seattle routes connect there can initiate resolving a number of access and productivity challenges! We have three years to develop a consensus — and the work should begin this year so that a variety of alternative network designs can be created and compared to others.

      13. Perhaps if route 50 were re-routed to head to Beacon Hill Station, terminate there, and bumped up to 10-minute all-day headway, it would pick up a lot more riders east of 15th Ave S.

        Of course it would. But again, that still leaves you with an enormous coverage hole, and no plans to fix it. It is tempting to think that microtransit (like this particular project) will do the job. The problem is, it never does. Ridership is simply too low per hour of service. It costs too much to pick up the riders. https://humantransit.org/2018/02/is-microtransit-a-sensible-transit-investment.html.

        The big problem with Route 50 is that except for Link, the VA hospital, some limited retail and a few schools, it doesn’t serve many direct destinations. Requiring transfers for an infrequent bus makes it fairly impractical — because transit is only as good as the least frequent connection.

        Yes, exactly. That is why Metro should bite the bullet and increase frequency. Every bus sees an increase in ridership as you move from half hour to fifteen minute service, but it has a bigger influence on connecting buses. The 50 already has respectable numbers, but since it doesn’t directly connect to any major destination, it needs better frequency.

        But as far as community destinations go, I think it does as good a job as it can. For Alki, you are connected to Admiral and California Junction. In Rainier Valley it goes by Columbia City. It could go to Rainier Beach instead of Othello, but Othello is growing and this is the only connection between the Othello Station and Rainier Avenue. For Beacon Hill you serve the most popular spot (I’m guessing) with the V. A., and serving other areas (like the Beacon Hill station) would be a detour.

        I think the biggest problem is simply frequency. If this ran every 10 minutes, it is pretty easy to see it as a great bus. From Alki it gets you up the hill, to where you can catch frequent buses to get downtown or pretty much anywhere in West Seattle. You can also get from Alki to Beacon Hill and Rainier Valley (where again, you can take frequent buses further south). Likewise, from Seward Park, this is your connection to the world. You can access both the frequent 7 and the frequent Link. From Rainier Valley you can get up the hill to the south end of Beacon Hill (to places like the V. A.). You can do that via Link, but it would require a lot of backtracking, and sometimes a three seat ride (north on the 7 to the infamous Mount Baker Station, then one stop on Link, followed by the 60 or 36 back south).

        There are particulars that are certainly debatable (the loop through the V. A. parking lot, the trip to SoDo, choosing Othello over Rainier Beach) but the biggest flaw by far is simply that it doesn’t run often enough. It is a grid route with frequency more befitting a hub and spoke system.

      14. “let’s work backward from the Judkins Park Station opening in 2023.”

        Good idea. Metro is planning that at some stations, including some that seem arbitrary; e.g., Roosevelt-Meridian-145th-MT, Magnolia-Ballard-145th. Are these underserved transit corridors? I don’t know. Metro has not done as much at Judkins Park station. Three are three routes in the 2025 and 2040 plans: Rapid 7, Rapid 48, and Frequent 8S (Mt Baker – JP – Jackson – MLK to Madison). Can any other routes usefully go there? One difficulty may be turning around: there are no through streets between Judkins Park and Jackson, so a bus on 23rd that goes to JP would have to go to Jackson. That may be a good thing because it brings more service to 23rd & Jackson and gives another reason to eliminate the 8’s MLK-Jackson-23rd-Yesler-MLK detour.

        One principle might be for buses to serve both Mt Baker and Judkins Park, to avoid awkward 3-seat rides getting from the valley to the Eastside, which is a growing transit market. Metro’s three routes do that. Other routes like the 14 seem difficult: it would distort them a lot and risk a coverage gap on 31st.

    3. While implementing a contracted-out ride-to-Link-stations service in Rainier Valley and Tukwila makes some demographic sense vs. doing it elsewhere,…

      Yeah, except I wonder if that is how it will work out. I really want to see the numbers when this is done. I want to see ridership per hour of service, as well as the demographics of the riders. I think the people that will get the most out of this are people who don’t have great transit right now. Looking at the transit map (https://seattletransitmap.com/app/) it appears that the east side of the valley gains the most. That means places like Seward Park and the fancy part of Mount Baker. The people here tend to be very wealthy. If you look at Redfin, there is a very strong correspondence between expensive homes (some worth several million dollars) and transit inaccessibility in Rainier Valley.

      Tukwila may be different (I don’t know that much about Tukwila).

      1. I sometimes visit the east side of the valley, down by water. Normally, I just walk from either Mt. Baker station or Columbia City Station and will probably continue to do so. It’s a nice walk and it’s not that far. From Mt. Baker station, it’s about a 10-15 minute walk to the waterfront.

        I expect that I will probably continue to walk this; there’s no point in waiting for a van if, by the time it shows up, I could be already halfway there by walking.

        I suppose it might be useful to get from Seward Park to Link, but even then, I don’t think it’s worth it unless you just missed the 50.

      2. That works if you’re going to the Mt Baker beach or neighborhood. It doesn’t work further south where the distances are longer. You might walk to Seward Park rather than wait for the 50, and you might do it a few times a year. The calculation is different if you live there and you want to take Link five or seven times a week (round trips). For work commutes you can always leave at the same time, and the 50 is 20-minute peak hours anyway. But for other trips (“I want to go shopping now. My friend called and wants to meet now somewhere.”) waiting for the 50’s schedule or walking is daunting.

        The good news is it looks like the 50 has gone to a minimum half-hourly schedule. Some of these perceptions that there’s no bus change more more slowly than the bus schedule does. When a bus goes less than half-hourly it loses a lot of riders on the margin of taking , and it may take years to get them back.

  4. Can someone explain the Rainer Beach piece to me in once sentence? So far, I’ll have is the author wants change, but doesn’t want change.

    1. The author wants the area to develop without losing its character or pricing out existing residents.

      1. When that change negatively impacts an already-marginalized group deeply, yes it is problematic.

      2. Sam, you asked for one sentence summary, and I gave it to you. Then you reply without even a “Thank You”? A little politeness could go a long way, buddy.

        As for your question, I don’t believe it has anything at all to do with what I wrote, or what the author wrote. I would explain why, but given your lack of courtesy, I just don’t feel like it.

    2. Sam, I read that article expecting to have something to say because I pass through Rainier Beach almost every day. I was, however, at a loss for words after reading the linked article. There is enormous potential for development that would positively change the character of Rainier Beach without pricing out the locals. The Rainier Beach loop that Route 7 circles is almost devoid of private housing and it could be developed into a tremendous neighborhood with easy connections to Rainier Beach Station. There also are elementary, middle and senior high schools, a library, a grocery store, parks, medical facilities and plenty of empty lots in the RB neighborhood.

      There is a need for some positive neighborhood activity along Henderson Street between the light rail station and Rainier Avenue. That corridor (and most of Rainier Beach) used to be some of the most dangerous parts of south Seattle before Link opened. It’s improved dramatically since Link increased local foot traffic but it still can feel a little creepy late at night.

    3. Sam,

      They want to keep the geese that have taken over that waterfront park. But they would like to have the Parks Department do a better job of cleaning up the droppings.

      It is by far the most poorly-maintained park I’ve seen in the City.

      Since it is at the corner of the City, it is evidence of my hypothesis that the outer edges of the City get the least love because they have only half (or in the the case of this decrepit park, one quarter) of the NIMBYshed of most other neighborhoods.

      1. Beer Sheeva Park is right across the street from RBHS. It’s basically a kids playground and BBQ hang-out type of park. Beer Sheeva isn’t a great park–Kubota Gardens is the 5 star attraction of the Deep South–but it’s well used. There was a stormwater project a few years ago that added a stream and some local plants that added some “naturalness” to Beer Sheeva. There’s also a trail that connects Beer Sheeva with Pritchard Beach. The trail is nice but the grassy part of Pritchard is usually a goose-poop slip and slide adventure.

    4. “So far, I’ll have is the author wants change, but doesn’t want change.”

      That’s it. He’s expressing the basic dilemma of gentrification: either you can make improvements and people will come and displace you, or you can leave it neglected and they won’t. There’s no option where you can have improvements and no displacement. He’s also pointing out that developers haven’t been very interested in the opportunities that are available. But the region’s population is increasing, so when most of the large old lots in more desirable areas are rebuilt, developers will inevitably spread out to Rainier Beach and affluent clients will follow. The only way to avoid that is a major recession or the population decreasing. He also focuses on the impacts to current residents, and doesn’t address the needs of a growing population that has to live somewhere and wants to live in a neighborhood with good transit and walkable. The zoning allows only 30% of the city to meet those needs, so naturally Rainier Beach which is one of those areas will eventually have growth, especailly with all the newcomers who don’t care about Rainier Beach’s dodgy history.

      1. Actually, Rainier Beach has so much vacant or neglected property that it could be possible to intensely develop the area and not directly displace the current residents. It is one of the last remaining neighborhoods in Seattle where there are lots of families with children. The City should focus on creating a neighborhood plan where multi-generational housing is prioritized, rather than building more single generational housing.

      2. What does multi-generational housing mean? Will it be used by single-family advocates to keep apartments away. There used to be a lot of families with children in the apartments in Summit, but that has gone out of fashion, and while we need 3+ bedroom apartments, I’m not sure it will be enough to bring back grandma living with mom and dad and the children.

  5. The way I think of microtransit – and transit in general works like this.

    Every mode of transit, beyond a certain point, more riders makes for a system that’s slower and more unpleasant, to the point where fewer people want to ride. The result is often an equilibrium well under the theoretical capacity.

    In the case of a bus, for instance, if you’re the only one on it, it can be just as fast as a taxi, but when others start riding, it stops more often, and gets slower. Eventually, you have to stand, or maybe get left behind altogether. RapidRide is about increasing the number of passengers that have to ride before the bus becomes miserable, and replacing buses with Link trains increases this number even more.

    In the other direction, a free taxi is great if you’re it’s only customer, but when you have to start detouring to pick up others, or waiting your turn while taxi transports someone else, then goes back to the station to pick up you, it starts to get excruciating, even with the number of other passengers being helped extremely small. Even if there’s just three people ahead of you in line, that’s already enough to make your experience worse than just waiting for a half-hourly fixed route bus.

    If any of you have ever taken Uber pool or LyftLine, and been driven around in circles picking up other passengers, to the point where your trip is actually slower than the plain-old-regular bus, you can appreciate this point.

    The same happens with private carpools too, you just don’t realize it because you’re too busy socializing with friends to notice the time go by. Once, several years ago, I carpooled with some people from Green Lake to Issaquah. We made 4 stops along the way, and door to door time, including walking to the carpool point to save other peoples’ time was about 1 hour 15 minutes. Door to door time to walk to the 73, ride it downtown, transfer to the 554, ride that to the same place in Issaquah – the exact same 1 hour 15 minutes (at the time, Link north of Westlake station had not yet opened). And, this wasn’t even a one seat bus ride.

    1. Luckily for the shared-ride transit services, Metro still loves milk runs. Part of me wishes they’d just euthanize route 50. Maybe that’s where this experiment is headed.

      1. What is wrong with the 50? It carries a respectable 24 riders an hour during peak time, and 19 per hour off peak. It provides some key connections, like West Seattle to Beacon Hill, or Columbia City to the VA. It is a combination coverage route and connection route. It carries 2,200 people a day. It would cost a lot more for this taxi-cab system to provide even half that.

        The “milk run” parts of it are really not that bad. If you are trying to get from Othello to Columbia City, you would probably just take the train and walk. From Beacon Avenue to Othello you can just take the 36. I’m guessing there aren’t that many people trying to get directly from West Seattle to Othello, and for those people, at least they have a one seat ride (that really isn’t that slow). There really aren’t many weaknesses. The little trip inside the V. A. is a waste of time, but I’m sure well appreciated by many (I am curious as to ridership for this stop compared to the stop closest to the V. A. on buses like the 60). Service to Alki is not ideal. I’m sure there are folks who would much rather skip the trip to the Junction, since that takes extra time. But given that Metro feels they can’t afford direct service from Alki to downtown (which would save a huge amount of time) the “detour” to the junction is quite reasonable. This enables Alki riders to have all day service off the peninsula, and I’m sure plenty of people want to go to the Junction anyway. I’m not saying it is the best way to serve Alki. (I would modify the 773 and 775 to form a 3/4 loop, run it a lot more often, and thus enable a much faster connection to the C and 21). But lacking that, this is fine. It is largely a coverage run, and does it reasonably well.

        The biggest weakness is that it doesn’t run more often. It is really tough to have a connection route run only every half hour. The 50 enables a lot of time saving transfers, but not if it runs so infrequently.

      2. Several routes get most of their riders on only part of the route, and that gives enough productivity to carry a coverage tail that would otherwise be cut. This applies to the 12, 14, 24, 33, 47, 62, etc. The 50 is a super-example of this with three major parts, and possibly four or five.

        1. Alki to Admiral, WSJ, and SODO.
        2. Admiral to WSJ to SODO, and WSJ to SODO.
        3. WSJ to the VA hospital, Beacon Hill, and Columbia City. (Also marginally from Alki and Admiral.)
        4. Seward Park to the Seward Park mini-village, Columbia City, and the VA hospital. (And marginally to West Seattle.)
        5. Seward Park and the Seward Park mini-village to Othello.

        1 and 2 are relatively high ridership. 3 gets people to the VA hospital and fulfills the long-desired wish for east-west service between West Seattle and Rainier Valley (although it’s slow and meandering). 4 and 5 seem to be the lowest-ridership segments. But the 50 can be seen as compensating for deleting the one-seat ride to downtown (the 39), and as a Link feeder on Othello.

        The most ideal way to solve the low-service/low-ridership problem in the Seward Park area would be to relocate everybody closer to Rainier and MLK and return the eastern part to wilderness. But that’s really outside political feasibility.

      3. Besides the poor frequency, it’s the SODO detour that bugs me the most. It eats up a lot time, and doesn’t serve any major destinations. Plus, it’s entirely redundant with Link, since its only stop in SODO is right next to a Link station, and it’s coming right from Columbia City Station. On top of that, random train crossings in SODO ruin service reliability for the entire rest of the route.

        I know Metro will never do it, but I think the 50 would be a better route if it just expressed down the West Seattle viaduct, with the time savings reinvested in better frequency. Even if nobody is riding between Rainier Valley and West Seattle, it doesn’t matter. It’s two separate routes joined together purely for Metro’s convinience. So, join them together in way that adds as little delay potential and service hours as possible.

        Alternatively, consider moving the Alki service to some other route, and just making the 50 a Rainier Valley shuttle, and nothing more.

      4. Good point about the SODO detour. I would love to see the numbers on that bus stop. SoDo itself is a minor destination. There are some jobs in the area, just not a lot. It is basically a Link station, and nothing more. For those headed from downtown to Alki, it doesn’t seem a lot better than taking the first C or 21 that shows up, then picking up the 50. I suppose if you are coming from the UW or Capitol Hill (via Link) it is nice to stay in the tunnel (and avoid a third transfer) but it doesn’t seem worth it to me. If you are headed to Rainier Valley (or the V. A.) it would be silly to use that stop (just stay on the train).

        The detour costs a lot of time (Google puts it at about ten minutes, just in terms of driving). I would skip it. That would save a lot of service time and a lot of riders would come out way ahead.

      5. “Besides the poor frequency, it’s the SODO detour that bugs me the most.”

        I think so too. There should be a route that really takes advantage of the freeway between West Seattle and Beacon Hill, just like there should be routes that take advantage of the tunnel between SODO and SLU. You’d lose some riders in SODO but you’d gain riders for that long-sought West Seattle-Rainier Valley connection people have been asking for for years. The current 50 takes unreasonably long to do it.

        The problem is that Metro sees SODO Station as the most important stop on the west half of the route. It gives West Seattle access to Link without going all the way downtown. You may say, “Funny, the C is better for getting to Link because the 50 meanders slowly on small hilly streets and makes a long detour to the station.” But Metro doesn’t see it that way.

        When I go to Alki I usually take the C to/from Alaska Junction and transfer to the 50, because it’s more pleasant to wait in the village and I can pop into Bakery Nouveau or stroll the village if it’s a long wait, and I don’t have to suffer the 50’s meandering on streets that weren’t really designed for buses.

      6. I see the solution to be to swap Routes 50 and 60 at 15th Ave.

        That would create a regular Capitol Hill — Beacon Hill — Rainier Valley — Seward Park route that gives community access to four Link stations, and working as a feeder to Route 7 too.

        The second route would provide a West Seattle — Beacon Hill — Georgetown — White Center community route that serves SODO Station. I could even see dropping the West Seattle Bridge segment and instead augmenting Route 22 service linking The Junction with Westwood Village and providing great transfer options to frequent Rapidrides C and H (Alki – WS Junction – Westwood – White Center – Georgetown – Beacon Hill – SODO).

    2. Metro has been moving away from milk runs. The 50 is a far cry from the former 6, 25, 6, 131, 132, 174, 210, 226, 235, etc. In several of those cases there was a more frequent route “so near and yet too far”, so instead of having a way to get to that route you have to take the milk run to downtown, a 30-45 minute trip that goes through every small street it can. (The 226 and 235 would get on the freeway at the last possible moment in Enatai, then get off at the first exit to serve three Mercer Island stops, then get off at Rainier to serve Rainier and Dearborn streets.)

      The 50 is an interlining of three routes for operational efficiency. It stops at three Link stations, two in the middle, so you don’t have to ride it all the way to the end to get to a significant activity center. The Othello Street part was new when Link started; it was to get people to the train so that they wouldn’t clamor for a P&R as much or not take Link. The problem has always been that it’s too infrequent. It was originally going to be every 30 minutes, but due to county overrides in the restructure it was reduced to 45 minutes, although now it’s back to 30 with some periods at 15. It is a questionable route for its entire length, but it’s really three routes in one. Metro’s 2040 plan splits it. (Admiral-WSJ-SODO-CC-38st-Mt Baker; and Mt Baker-Seward Park-Rainier Beach; nothing on Othello but there is a Frequent route on Westwood Village-Graham.)

      1. We pretty much said the same thing. I should have read your entire comment before writing mine.

        Anyway, I think there is nothing fundamentally wrong with a “milk run”, as long as it doesn’t waste the agency’s or rider’s time. I really dislike the fact that the E gets off Aurora and serves Linden for that reason. It isn’t that the detour is horribly time consuming, or no one takes advantage of it. It is that the E runs a lot, and there are a lot of riders who have to sit while the bus does that. In contrast, the tail of the 24, for example, is not the end of the world. The 24 doesn’t run that often, (one third as often as the E) and it doesn’t take that long to cover the area. Best of all, other riders aren’t effected (they aren’t on the bus then).

        The 50 seems designed more than anything, as a means to an end. It helps connect you to other buses. That is an oversimplification — I’m sure there are plenty of people who take it without making a transfer — but it really works well for connecting to other service. If you are trying to get from Alki to downtown (or the UW, or Bellevue, etc.) then you end up taking this bus and making a transfer. Likewise if you are at Seward Park and trying to get almost anywhere. I consider it far more of a connection bus than a coverage bus, even though the eastern end is relatively weak as far as density goes. It isn’t that bad — and like west Magnolia, relatively fast to cover — which means that it wouldn’t be that much of a waste to bump up the frequency to 15 minutes. Doing so would transform Alki (an area that is currently under-served in my opinion) as well as make a lot of connections a lot better. Every bus will see increased ridership when you bump up the frequency, but this would see a bigger improvement than most, given the connections that are possible.

      2. “The 226 and 235 would get on the freeway at the last possible moment in Enatai”

        I meant that they went through Enatai or Beaux Arts rather than Bellevue Way, as well as using I-90 only for the smallest possible bridge parts.

        The E’s detour doesn’t bother me as much as it seems to bother you. That’s partly because I used to ride the 6 which was even worse. (Calling on Seattle Center East, Bridge Way, Stone Way, southwest Greenlake, and the Linden deviation. And also because I followed the E corridor when it was being decided, and saw the concerns about safety if it stopped on the east side of Aurora. And 65th Aurora seems like it should have some service. (I knew people who went to the Greenlake church and I think I was there once.)

        The 50 makes more sense if you see it as just an aggregation of three routes. It may not make the most sense from end to end and there may be better ways to serve those segments, but on the other hand I’m not sure it’s much worse than alternatives. The biggest thing it needs to do is skip SODO and the VA loop, and for the VA to orient its entrances to Columbian Way and Beacon Ave. (I haven’t seen the major renovation. I assume they didn’t put the entrance in a better place.)

        Also, while Metro has been unwinding long milk runs, it has also been stiching together the low-volume tails of former routes into one route. You see this with the 50 and also with the 226 and 249. (God that confuses me. The 226 is on Bellevue-Redmond Road, which is where the 249 used to be.)

    3. “Door to door time to walk to the 73, ride it downtown, transfer to the 554, ride that to the same place in Issaquah – the exact same 1 hour 15 minutes”

      And I have a friend in Rainier View who works at Renton Boeing. I told him one day he could try the 107 and F. He said, “That would take two hours a day. My car does it in 10 minutes.”

  6. Since they’re being so difficult, maybe West Seattle should just be served by buses and Sound Transit can reallocate all that money to serve neighborhoods that need it more than West Seattle does. They should feel lucky to even be getting a rail line.

  7. Golf course. Let’s get rid of even more green space all in the name of transit and privileged (affordable) housing! Who needs a park or nature!? They’re not high density enough! A golf course is far better than concrete and apartments. Check any research study on greenery and nature and how it affects people!

    1. A golf course is not a forest or native plants or shrubs or edible plants. It’s a well-trimmed monoculture of emptiness. It’s like a desert to birds and little creatures who would thrive in a forest or flowery/shrubby habitat. And you can’t walk around on it unless you’re playing golf.

      Where will people live if we don’t build more housing? Why have rents doubled in the last decade? (Hint: The first sentence answers the second.) Where can people live within walking distance of light-rail stations? Only a small handful of people can live near a station with a golf course and single-family houses around it. And if you thnk that new development only brings expensive luxury units, that’s because we’re building far less than needed. Chicago and Dallas don’t limit their development, so housing remains inexpensive (like Seattle was fifteen years ago) even as the population increases. Chicago does it with 3-10 story infillinfull; Dallas does it with sprawl, but either way they’ve managed to keep population growth and housing costs in balance.

      1. Additionally golf courses aren’t accessable to most youth.

        Chicago has a lot more existing sprawl to infill and there are potentially some quality of life differences between Seattle and either Chicago or Dallas that keep people in Seattle even if things are expensive.

      2. I’m taking mainly about Chicago’s north side, which is like a 2×2 mile Summit/First Hill areas. The south side has more four-story buildings all alone on their block like bad urban renewal so it’s more difficult there, and you could consider it a kind of sprawl. But not the sprawl of the suburbs. Dallas is sprawl, yes. There are lots of surface lots downtown with $2 evening parking and workers begging drivers to use them. What bothered me most about Chicago and one of the reasons I didn’t move there was the temperature extremes and humidity. It’s hard to move to that when it’s so much more comfortable here, even though I’d love to have the el and Metra and ubiquidous frequent buses and blocks and blocks of walkable destinations and inexpensive apartments.

      3. The problem with golf courses is that by and large, they prevent egress. I don’t play basketball anymore, so the courts are of no use to me*. Except that I can walk right by them. If no one is playing, I can even walk on the courts. The same is true with soccer fields, baseball diamonds and other sports played by the working class. But with golf courses, you are often forced to go around. If I’m on 10th Avenue NE, and want to go to the other side of the park on 10th Avenue, I have to walk around (https://goo.gl/maps/K3Yzj8noY7WNNfq4A). This is a big, unpleasant detour**. The worse part is, people who live in apartments next to the golf course will be forced to make a similar detour (or take a bus) to the train station, instead of making a pleasant (and shorter) walk through a park.

        The obvious long term answer is to convert a few of the golf courses to public parks (similar to how Wayne Golf Course was converted). Add a little bit of housing, and playgrounds (close to where the clubhouses are). Keep the driving range in some cases, since they use less land and usually pay for themselves (which explains Interbay). You retain the same sort of aesthetic advantages of a golf course, except it can be enjoyed by more people. Even those who aren’t interested in the park itself can have greater pedestrian mobility.

        * This isn’t entirely true. I like watching sports, so walking by an active game is entertaining. Does anyone stand outside a golf course in Seattle and watch people play?

        ** The only time I’ve been in Jackson Park has been on snow days. It really is interesting to see how a Seattle snow storm can transform a golf course from a largely white, largely male, largely well-to-do enclave used by only a handful of people to a busy, multi-cultural, all ages snow party. I just wish it happened more often. (By the way, I do know people of color and at least one working class person who plays golf. But you are fooling yourself if you think that it isn’t largely a sport for the well to do.)

      4. I used to think Dallas and Houston were inexpensive because people didn’t want to live there as much as the west coast and northeastern cities. But then an article pointed out it’s not the absolute desirability of the city that matters but the relative amount of housing vs demand. In other words, the vacancy rate (for rentals) and the time on the market (for owned houses/condos). Rents go up and down based on the vacancy rate, and a house can command a higher price when the average house sells in three weeks rather than six months. Beyond that, there are many different overlapping markets based on price point and quality/location: lower-income people can’t afford the more expensive tiers, and higher-income people often don’t want the lower tiers.

      5. If you’ve ever paid for air conditioning bills in TX or FL, you understand that housing cost comparisons should include utilities. It’s not unusual to pay $200 a month for small apartments and even $600 or $800 a month for a single-family house. With utilities factored in, we don’t look nearly as bad.

    2. I’m not a golfer, and while I agree theres a lot better uses near a transit station especially these in Shoreline, I’m mostly troubled by the cries of getting rid of golf courses just because they themselves don’t play golf. There are a number of people who do and having courses in the city actually makes a relatively exclusive sport more accessible. By this logic of getting rid of golf courses, you could apply that to a lot of hobbies that don’t align with the Seattle monoculture of progressive whites.

      1. Clearly they’re not doing a good enough job of making it accessible, since patronage is steadily declining. Erica Barnett had an article about the demographics of the people using the public courses, and only the Interbay course has >50% of its users under the age of 50, and that could be because it has other attractions. And lmao if you think golf isn’t a white people thing.

      2. It’s not that people themselves don’t play golf and don’t have peers who do. It’s that a shrinking number of Seattlites are playing golf so fewer courses are justified. I like Jefferson Park because it has both a golf course and an open park, and it’s far enough from the Link station that it doesn’t displace walkable housing, yet close enough to walk from the station to the park, as I did Saturday. I know nothing about the quality of the golf courses, but from the other factors that’s the first course I’d leave open. The first course I’d redevelop or shrink is Jackson Park, and West Seattle second. I don’t know where the fourth Seattle course is.

      1. Parks don’t have to be nature or greenery. Open space doesn’t have to be green space, particularly pocket parks in an urban setting.

  8. If we are looking for more land for housing and commerce, lets decommission Boeing Field and redevelop that super prime land that could house tens of thousands easily while also having ample parks and a Sounder station and maybe that talked about Georgetown bypass Link line. Even Kennewick is redeveloping one of their redundant airports into an urban neighborhood.

    1. Hopefully you realize that Boeing Field is used by, you know, Boeing, to deliver the planes that come out of the Renton plant?

    2. Boeing is one of the three largest employers in the state. An adjacent airport is essential to its business model; that’s where it tests the planes. Golf courses don’t employ 70,000 people at family-level wages.

      There’s an ongoing debate whether to allow housing in other parts of SODO, so that would be more fruitful. The pro argument is that it’s the last remaining area with large tracts of land that could house tens of thousands of people near downtown and high-capacity transit and no NIMBYs to complain about losing street parking or views or “neighborhood character”. The contra argument is that the industrial businesses couldn’t compete with the prices real-estate investors will pay and would have to close or move to the exurbs where workers can’t take transit to them. It would make Seattle’s economy less diverse and resilient and cut off a career outlet for those who aren’t suited to tech or offices or have a manufacturing idea. Other cities that have completely replaced their industrial districts had abandoned obsolete factories that will never be used again, whereas Seattle has viable businesses in almost every lot.

      I’ve been solidly against conversion but I’ve started to waver as the housing crisis keeps getting worse, and big-box stores and one-story suburban chain stores proliferate in SODO and south Ballard. That’s not what we’re preserving the industrial districts for! Car dealerships also bother me, although the multistory car dealerships are impressive and were a reasonable compromise to get them out of downtown.

  9. Regarding the linked Everett Herald article about the tree mitigation program for the Lynnwood Link project…..

    This is the third, perhaps fourth, iteration of the mitigation plan for tree losses that will come with the extension of the light rail line from Northgate to the Lynnwood TC. Yes, this is the same program that some on this blog griped about due to its cost ($30M+) when Sound Transit publicly announced back in August 2017 that the agency’s initial cost estimate was crap. So then came the agency’s plan to engage in some “value engineering” to try to bring the overall project cost down. The tree mitigation program apparently was one of the targets of that effort as the number of replantings has been reduced significantly from the numbers drawn up in the plan’s initial version.

    Lynnwood Link Tree Mitigation Plan:
    (Projected numbers as of May 1, 2017)

    Jurisdiction: Seattle
    Number of trees to be removed: 66
    Required replacement plantings: 67
    Proposed plantings: 931

    Jurisdiction: Shoreline
    Number of trees to be removed: 253
    Required replacement plantings: 567
    Proposed plantings: 9,474

    Jurisdiction: Mountlake Terrace
    Number of trees to be removed: 255
    Required replacement plantings: 462
    Proposed plantings: 1,690

    Jurisdiction: Lynnwood
    Number of trees to be removed: 425
    Required replacement plantings: 426
    Proposed plantings: 1,761

    Jurisdiction: WSDOT
    Number of trees to be removed: 4,213
    Required replacement plantings: 53,037
    Proposed plantings: 53,037

    Total number of trees to be removed: 5,212
    Total required plantings: 54,559
    Total proposed plantings: 66,893

    As you can see, the number of proposed replantings has been drastically reduced in the agency’s latest plan. I contacted the project outreach staff about the change a few months ago when I saw the previous iteration, which was similar to the one discussed in The Herald article. I was told that the reduction in the number of replantings was because they were going with slightly larger starter trees and they were adding ten years to the initial monitoring/regrowth program. That appears to be the narrative that Sound Transit is running with as it also appears in the linked article.

    Frankly, ST has been rather disingenuous about the whole matter imho. When I first inquired about this I was told that this latest plan had always been the plan, which I knew wasn’t the case. It was only after a series of calls that that “official explanation” fell apart. Then, when I tried to retrieve the earlier versions of the mitigation plan, I noticed that those documents were no longer available in the online project records. For example, if you look for this document today on the ST site, you will see a pdf file named “Lynnwood Link Extension tree replacement program” (internally referred to as the “more transit, more trees” folio), which has a published date shown as Sep 6, 2018. Funny thing is that the listing actually links to a document dated Feb 2019, the latest iteration of the plan. This is either incompetence on the part of the website staff or blatant scrubbing. (You can draw your own conclusions of course but I chalk it up to the latter.)

    https://www.soundtransit.org/get-to-know-us/documents-reports/system-expansion?filter=topic&1065=829

    If one really wants to get into the weeds on the whole topic, I would suggest starting with the HNTB/Jacobs report that came out back in Feb 21, 2017 labeled:

    “Lynnwood Link Extension
    Tree Removal and Mitigation Report
    60% Submittal”
    (Lynnwood Link Extension | Northgate Station to
    Lynnwood Transit Center
    Contract No. RTA/AE 0010-15)

    This is the firm that did the initial property by property tree impact assessment and inventory.

    The bottom line is that much of the tree line that serves as a noise and visual buffer for the neighborhoods that run alongside I-5 today, from Northgate to Lynnwood, is essentially going to be eliminated for a long time, if not permanently. Sound Transit needs to just own up to the changes they are making and the impacts they will have and just stop with the spin.

    Finally, I just wanted to give a few words of acknowledgement for the continued excellent reporting of Lizz Giordano at The Herald. Well done (as usual).

  10. First, re Via story. The writer seems to live very close to Route 36 that has 10-minute headway and connects with Link at Beach Hill station. She did not mention another rider. Such services will not scale well due to the deviations to pick up subsequent riders; those already on the van will sit through the deviation and get a slower trip. They might even miss a Link trip. Via is not a service for Seattle. It may be a service for areas of the county without local service. It will burn up service subsidy, duplicate the existing network, and degrade productivity. Jarrett Walker has written well about this issue. We should not be competing for walk trips. We should not be using the gig economy to do so.

    The CCC Streetcar could be related to the Rainier Beach story. The former is quite costly. Mayor Durkan estimates that $65 million is needed atop the funds already set aside. the sum seems more than $100 million. Those funds have opportunity cost. Some could be used to build sidewalks on some the frequent transit arterials of north Seattle that lack them (e.g., Aurora, Greenwood, and 30th Avenue NE). some could be used for RapidRide lines. some could be used to provide trolley bus overhead on South Henderson Street so that Route 7 connected directly with the Rainier Beach Link station. That is a much better way to get Rainier Valley riders to/from Link. The CCC is not an upgrade in transit infrastructure. It is a monument. Mayor Durkan has also acknowledged that the CCC will require service subsidy (Murray-Kubly did not). Those funds could be used to reduce wait times outside downtown Seattle and attract more riders. CBD circulation trips can be attracted by the already funded Link and bus network; the two dumb streetcar lines are already connected by that Link and bus network.

    the commenters also discuss the two two-way cycle tracks on 2nd Avenue and Broadway. Both slow all modes; that is good for safety, but degrades transit. Both are on some grades, so cyclists in opposite directions may conflict. there is some folly in the complete streets notion due to narrow rights of way. during the period of maximum constraint, it will matter that north-south avenues will sometimes choke with traffic.

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