5th & Marion (SDOT)

63 Replies to “News Roundup: Hat Trick”

  1. Lime has increased prices again, from $0.15/min. to $0.20/min. This works out to $1.20/mile, assuming an average speed of 10 mph, including stoplights -plus the $1 unlock fee. This is putting Lime e-bikes into a price range that is no longer really any cheaper than Uber and Lyft’s “pool” option (although, for very short trips, it may still be faster, since you don’t have to wait).

    So far, Jump hasn’t done a parallel price increase, as far as I know, but I’m assuming it’s inevitable.

    It looks like Lime has decided that the best path to profitability is to milk the tourist money, and if it means the locals are priced out (or defect to Lyft and Uber), so be it. I also have a theory that pricing out, all but the shortest trips, makes re-balancing easier on Lime’s part (because the bikes will tend to not scatter as far).

    Does it make sense for the city to start regulating prices of bikeshare/scooter share in the future, perhaps in exchange for lowering the fees?

    1. Yeah, that’s awfully high. In comparison, Portland charges 8 cents a minute for the occasional rider. More frequent riders can pay $20 a month, or $100, and that includes 90 minutes of riding a day (which is plenty). Boston also charges $100 a year.

    2. I did think it was somewhat comical when I got that announcement from Lime. I read it as, “I know we’re more expensive than Jump and have bikes with less powerful motors in generally worse condition, but don’t worry! We’re raising our price anyway!”

      I still ride Limes more than Jumps because they just seem to be more available in my neighborhood, and the Jump bike’s more powerful motor might save me two minutes, but if I have to walk five more minutes out my way, it’s an easy call. I think this is why Lime is raising their price – they found it just didn’t change usage much. I think that’s all there is to it – no complicated theories about rebalancing necessary.

      Didn’t I hear somewhere that Lyft is bringing bike share to Seattle this year? A little more competition would help.

      1. I’m sure prices do effect uses, and it’s just Lime vs. Jump. Lime also has to compete with other modes of transportation. Potential modes that Lime needs to complete, which I can think of off the top of my include walking, riding one’s own bike, Uber/Lyft, driving one’s own car, public transit, and carshare (e.g. ReachNow/Car2Go).

        I can’t speak for others, but I definitely do estimate the price for each trip and decide whether or not it’s worth it. And I’ve definitely ridden Lime less as their prices have gone up – especially for longer trips.

        Of course, tourists are going to be far less price-sensitive than locals. It’s quite possible they’ve decided that all the real money is with tourists, and if getting more money from tourists comes at the cost of pricing out locals, that’s perfectly fine with them.

    1. Income inequality is affecting cities and rural america conversely. Cities are getting more expensive as jobs and resources are concentrated there. Small towns are dying as young people move out and jobs dry up. You can’t blame “liberal” cities for this pattern any more than you can blame the failing “conservative” towns.

      Manufacturing is gone. Industry is consolidating and outsourcing. Cities are the only place to make a decent living and after decades of neglect they’re struggling to keep up with the migration. It takes investment to adapt to change, which costs money, and make things more expensive. It’s a vicious cycle. State and federal government should be stepping up – in healthcare, education, housing – national issues that are affecting every corner of the country. It’s crazy to think a city operates in a silo and should be solving these problems on their own.

      1. I don’t think the cities need to be solving them on their own, but they could be making things easier with more investment in TOD, fewer restrictions on building in high-amenity inner-ring suburbs, etc.

        But you are right that we essentially have a national industrial policy problem. America needs to either figure out how to (a) spread economic growth to more than half-a-dozen coastal cities, or else (b) figure out how to help more people move to those half-a-dozen cities.

      2. That’s not really the point here. The population and housing struggles in cities are mostly self-inflicted, due to bad local policy at odds to our lip service for diversity and inclusion.

        The article focuses on the efforts of supposedly progressive-minded Californians pulling up the ladder behind them, but that’s also very evident in Seattle. Just look at all the woke homeowners who’ll go to a Trump protest in the morning and then show up at an affordable housing hearing in the afternoon to claim that they support affordable housing, just not near them. Or with the all-too-common coexistence of “Black Lives Matter” and “Keep Seattle Liveable/No HALA Upzones” yard signs in places like Wallingford (Livable for whomst, you might ask?). Seattle dropped the ball by listening to these hypocrites for decades and systematically underbuilding housing, and was caught with our collective pants down when the population surge of the past few years happened.

      3. I see what you’re saying but all these ‘woke’ liberals in places like Seattle and Chicago are the same people who literally rioted when cities started busing poor and minority kids to better schools. They were for integration in theory but when it affected their own kids’ schools, that was a step too far for them. The same mentality makes them support affordable housing in theory as long as it isn’t built in their neighborhoods.

      4. A helpful if simplistic way to frame the rural vs urban housing problem is that coastal cities have a cost problem (the rent is too high), while rural areas have an income problem (wages are too low).

      5. “all these ‘woke’ liberals in places like Seattle and Chicago are the same people who literally rioted when cities started busing poor and minority kids to better schools.”

        Sounds like Joe Biden.

        I think there are a fair amount of people who kind of try to sound vaguely liberal, or at least moderate, but if you dig into it, they are pretty much against every specific liberal policy proposal. I think it’s a rhetorical tactic more than a genuine belief. Pretend they are on the same side, but just being “pragmatic.”

    2. That’s not all liberals. It’s mainly single-family homeowners that bought into the late 20th century idea that anything less than a SF5000 lot is bad and have a blind spot for the tens of thousands of people in Seattle who don’t have one of those already. They’re liberal in Seattle because Seattle is liberal, but in conservative cities they’re conservative and still do the same thing.

      California’s problem is somewhat unique because the NIMBYs and environmentalists are married in a way that doesn’t occur elsewhere. The Bay Area was the epicenter of the 1970s neo-rural environmentalism that manifested itself in strict low-density suburbs in Santa Clara, San Mateo, and Marin Counties among others and led to strict no-growth in San Francisco itself. That was OK when there was plenty of housing and land and an equitable property tax, but it became destructive when the population increased and Prop 13 passed and a sudden growth of high-paying tech jobs allowed them to outbid everyone else for the limited housing that was available, and now they use environmentalism as an excuse to not densify. The proper density is one that accommodates everybody, not one that holds to some 1970s semi-rural ideal even though the population has tripled.

  2. “When SR-509 is finally complete we can divert all freight there and tear down I-5, right?” – would still need a way for interstate freight to get from 99 back to I5 north of Seattle. I don’t think we want all that traffic on SR99 north of 85th?

    1. That 509 video is something else. It shows two interchanges with at least one cloverleaf petal (270 degree turn). That’s going to leave a large patch of no-man’s-land around the exits, with odd-shaped unbuildable grassy spaces like along 405 in Bellevue that are depressing to see or walk through. Haven’t they learned anything from the 20th century?

      The other thing was near the end where Kent’s mayor (I think) said it would improve walking/busing/biking to Link. How? Will those be in the 509 right of ray? The video didn’t show any of them. Or if they’re outside the ROW, what do they have to do with the 509 project? Or was her statement taken out of context, and referred to all the local changes rather than just the 509 project. And how can 509 bring jobs and improve bus feeders? If Des Moines wants more jobs it will have to upzone, and it has shown no sign of that besides a couple token TOD lots. What bus route could usefully travel on the 509 extension? Have they even thought of that? What’s the big necessity about connecting a mostly single-family area to I-5? It won’t benefit many people there because by zoning definition there aren’t many people there. The only positive thing I see is it’s a short extension so it’s not as wasteful as most new freeways.

  3. Wow! I’m amazed that the Pike-Pune interests asked for a one-way pair for both traffic and bikes! I’ve long felt that this would be better for these streets as they move from parking lot and space access to a more urban environment.

    Now…if there was only a sharing of my dream to use them to connect the streetcar lines too!

    1. It’s an interesting idea. I’ve never accepted the “One-way streets are bad” argument. It seems to simplify traffic patterns, which benefit pedestrians because it cuts in half the number of directions cars come from and the turns they make. But I’m not sure that extending downtown’s one-way system to Broadway is necessary or desirable. Two-way Pike/Pine seem to work fine in lowrise Capitol Hill.

      1. I think the issue is the 3-5 lane one-way “streets” that are set up more as half of a major highway, which actually describes most one way “streets” here in the US. Narrow one-way streets can be very livable and pedestrian friendly and still accommodate many cars. I’d actually extend the one way couplet up to 12th Ave. (two lanes each direction for cars, and protected bike lanes), as the stretch between Broadway and 12th gets very chaotic during busy hours whenever someone needs to make a left turn. That block of 10th and 11th avenues should probably be pedestrian only during busy times and bar hours as well, and set up designated rideshare pick up points.

      2. The activists argue against all one-way streets including downtown Seattle’s, which I don’t think are excessively wide but some people do.

      3. It works fine as is, but if the complexities of bicycle facilities are added, it’s a different situation. The slopes also affect things because bicyclists can move downhill essentially at auto driving speeds while uphill is a struggle.

        It’s actually pretty scary to cross these streets today given all the traffic turns and weaves to miss parking cars, bicyclists, turning cars, delivery trucks and other hazards — especially at corners without signals.

        A one-way system with timed signals would create groups of cars traveling together — and then create longer gaps when there are no cars. That would make it easier and faster for a pedestrian as well as safer.

        Finally, a one-way system would make it possible to have a separate transit lane for part or all of the segment. Since Metro is proposing to move Route 2 service over once Madison BRT opens, it could really benefit that future routing.

    2. I think one way streets for cars are fine, but for bikes, everything should be two way. Otherwise, you end up encouraging people to ride on the sidewalk to avoid riding around the block.

      1. Good point, I agree. I also think transit can take advantage of one way streets by making contraflow lanes. There are drawbacks with that. Buses can’t pass buses (if it is only one lane), and signal timing (if it exists at all) could be completely off. But you eliminate all congestion issues involving regular cars. There is no BAT lane, there is only a bus lane.

      2. What’s key to point out is that the premise was the one way couplet was going to be extended from downtown to at least Melrose/Bellevue. So, if the goal is a clear, easy to use system for all users (bikes, drivers, pedestrians, etc), it does not make any sense to put bike lanes in both directions on Pike between Broadway and Bellevue (5 blocks), when west of Bellevue, the lanes (and all traffic) will be split between Pike and Pine, and east of Broadway the only bike lanes are on Pine. Fewer transitions is easier for everyone to understand.

        The reason given for not considering extending the one way couplet to Broadway was that trolley wire on Pine is too expensive to move, even though the only bus using that wire is the 49, a route duplicated between Westlake and Capitol Hill Station by the both the 10 and Light Rail, and duplicated on its Pike/Pine routing by the diesel 11, all at pretty high frequency.

      3. As a pedestrian, I’m often dodging bicyclists on sidewalks when there are few to no driveway cuts (only curbs) — and both Pike and Pine Streets lack driveway cuts in this area. This is common when there is a bicycle lane on the street just 10 feet away!

        In this context, it doesn’t seem to matter to a bicyclist whether a street is one-way or two-way. The bicyclists is on the sidewalk anyway.

      4. I first heard of this one-way Pike-Pine thing yesterday, maybe at the District 3 forum, but wherever it was they said it would go to Broadway, not Melrose. A year or so ago I attended a Pike/Pine/Melrose open house and there was talk of converting an alley to one-way for one block or something but not Pike/Pine itself. So where did this idea come from, who’s supporting it, how likely is it, and what’s this about it only going to Melrose?

        “The reason given for not considering extending the one way couplet to Broadway was that trolley wire on Pine is too expensive to move, even though the only bus using that wire is the 49, a route duplicated between Westlake and Capitol Hill Station by the both the 10 and Light Rail, and duplicated on its Pike/Pine routing by the diesel 11, all at pretty high frequency.”

        That’s false in several respects. The 10, 43, 47, and 49 all use the trolley wire. The 49 is the primary route on Capitol Hill — the one Metro has positioned as the most frequent and with night owl. (Although the 11 is night owl too now.) When Madison RapidRide opens the 2 will move to Pine-12th-Union and replace the 49 and 11. The 10’s move to Olive was a coverage issue to avoid unintended consequences from withdrawing frequent service from there and possibly harming one of the most successful high-ridership urban villages in the city. As it turned out, riders flocked to the 11 and ditched the new 10, so maybe Pine Street is where it’s at. In any case, all of the plans keep the 10 as is, again for coverage really. (How else can you serve upper 15th without a 10 on Olive or a 10 on Pine?) So it’s not the 49 duplicating the 10 but the 10 duplicating the 49.

      5. And the 49 does not duplicate Link. I take the 49 from Bellevue Ave to 3rd Ave, Republican St, 43rd Street, and 50th Street. The first two are impossible on Link,and the second two are one half dozen to the other but the Link option is really ridiculous: 3 minutes on the train and 20-25 minutes walking/waiting/busing at both ends. That’s not what transit planners envision when they talk about replacing bus trips with train trips and short feeders. Link makes more sense if you;re going more than one station. Metro was wise to make the 49 the most frequent route, as I realized on Link’s firs day when I went from the Capitol Hill library to the University library (i.e., from north of one station to north of the other station). I took Link northbound and the 49 southbound. Nowadays I usually take the 49 northbound and Link southbound (because it’s a downhill walk rather than uphill), but in the evening or when I’m carrying heavy bags or tired or sick I take the 49 because it’s closer at both ends.

      6. Yeah, what Mike said about the 49 (and the other buses). There is no great redundancy, and more than one bus uses wire for that section. More to the point, it doesn’t make sense to remove it unless we know that a bus won’t use it on that section. I think it is highly likely that it will. At some point (likely after Madison BRT is implemented) the bus routes will be changed. I have my own ideas (https://seattletransitblog.com/2018/11/15/east-seattle-bus-restructure/) but Metro, in its long range plan, has an excellent proposal for the area as well (http://www.kcmetrovision.org/wp-content/themes/kcmlrtp/LongRangePlan/#). In both cases you are likely to use wire there. I’m not saying that the use of wire should be the overriding concern, but it has to be factored into the cost.

      7. Metro has a coming wire crisis when the 2N, 2S, 4S, 12, 43, 47, and 49 are all restructured and many of their replacements will have long segments that don’t currently have wire. Will the trolley network shrink and be less relevant, or will Metro string more wire.

        2N: Converted to a Queen Anne – E Aloha St – Garfield HS route.(Needs wire from 1st & Mercer to 23rd & Aloha.)
        2S/49: Converted to a Pine-12th-Union route. (Needs wire for 2 blocks on 12th.)
        12/43: Converted to a John-19th-Aloha-24th route. (Needs wire for 4 blocks on Aloha.)
        47: Replaced by a kind of 47/25 route. (Needs wire on Bellevue northbound, and north of Roy Street.)

        Metro’s plans for the 1, 3N, 3S, 10, and 14 utilize the existing wire. The 7, 44, and 70 are to be upgraded to RapidRide so those will either have a wire budget or use battery buses.

      8. Well, I wouldn’t exactly call it a crisis. It will be interesting to see if they just run more wire, or expect the buses to run without wire for small segments. A lot depends on where the buses go, obviously. A lot of it would require minor tweaking. In other cases they may decide not to run wire at all. The first bus you mentioned, for example, may not even happen. If it does, then Metro considers it a “local”, meaning not that many trips a day. In that regard, it may be like the 29 (which doesn’t have wire, even though it follows a wired route much of the way). I really doubt the other bus they have using the Aloha/Belmont path would have wire, since it goes out to Magnolia. In general it really only makes sense to add wire on areas where there are lots of buses, or you only need to add it for a small section. One example of this was the minor change to the Queen Anne buses recently. I’m pretty sure they had to move the wire, but it wasn’t a huge change.

      9. I don’t see the coverage routes being electrified. The short gaps Metro might just fill, especially the new 2 which partly follows previous Metro restructure proposals for an ultra-frequent route on Union. so it may be high priority in the next round of RapidRides. So besides filling small gaps, any trolley expansion would be on eventual frequent routes. Those will be hindered by the price of installing wire; the 3/4-Yesler wasn’t done for years because of this. The countywide measure to fund Metro Connects would be one source of money, but again the cost of trolley wire would be competing with more frequent service elsewhere. So it may be that the trolley network will shrink except for new RapidRides.

      10. Yeah, I don’t think there is a widespread movement to run a bunch of wire in Seattle, even though you could make a strong case for it. From a local as well as international environmental standpoint, it would be great. But I just don’t see anyone focused on it. There are other things people want to spend money on.

        Metro will pick and choose where to add wire. Seattle may contribute some money as well. It seems like there are three areas where they will focus:

        1) Small improvements that allow existing lines to be used. This happened in Queen Anne and I believe on Capitol Hill (I think it was the 10 that was modified for a couple blocks). I see this happening a lot on Queen Anne and the greater Central Area in the future (since there is so much existing wire there).
        2) Major new lines. The Roosevelt RapidRide is an example of this (although it too leverages existing wire).
        3) Places where wire makes a huge difference (i. e. steep hills).

        Quite often it is this combination. That is why Queen Anne Avenue (i. e. the Counterbalance) has wire. There are lots of buses there, and wire extends on either end. But even then, not all the buses on the street use it (the 29 being the exception).

        I think running wire for the Roosevelt RapidRide was a strange choice, and one they may regret. It does leverage existing wire, but given the shallow grade, not at all necessary (it is so flat that they once considered a streetcar along that line). Running extra wire up to 65th (from Campus Parkway) costs money, and if they eventually decide to run it to Northgate (a reasonable approach) that will cost even more. Or they may decide to just abandon the wire, which again would be a shame. In general it is a tough choice, and shows that while developing a bus network allows for a lot more flexibility than laying rail, some aspects (like wire, or new curb improvements) are more permanent.

      11. Pike/Pine as a one way couplet is going to extend up from downtown to at least Melrose (and most likely Bellevue as part of the Pike/Pine Renaissance street improvement project. The Melrose/Bellevue intersections are messy to start with, and adding a switch between one way to two-way with criss crossing bike lanes, is probably not going to improve anything there.

        https://waterfrontseattle.org/pike-pine

        To clarify, there is no trolley wire on Pike between Bellevue (where the 10, 43 & 47 turn) and Broadway. The only trolley bus operating between Bellevue and Broadway on Pine (the area of focus for the bike lane discussion) is the 49. The 49 is also duplicated on this stretch by the diesel 11. The reason given for the City to not extend one way streets to Broadway (which most people attending the bike lane planning workshop agreed was the clearer transition point) was the lack of trolley wire on Pike.

  4. Words of wisdom from State Senator Steve O’ban: (Kiro7 article)

    ““I’m taking the chance that these agencies will do the right thing and postpone service resumption until the legislature has the opportunity to establish this commission. The public trust absolutely has to be restored. It’s not going to be restored without having the independent bipartisan panel like this weigh in,” said O’Ban.”

    He couldn’t possibly be grandstanding, could he?

    I mean, after all, he has to know about Washington’s Legislative Rail Caucus, right?
    (link is to All Aboard Washinton’s FB page)

    This is a bi-partison group that has been around for a while, doing background work to solve all the rail related issues.

    1. “In the meantime, we will do what we can to encourage people to drive instead, where they are 25 times more likely to get killed in an accident.”

    2. He just wants it postponed because it runs through his district. They’ve never wanted to increased train traffic, and they will do anything they can to stop it. I think it is disgusting that they are using this crash to serve their self-interests.

  5. A few days ago I looked up a bus arrival on PDXbus, and it gave me an alert that said “WARNING: this bus is 70 full.” So, apparently even that data is part of the data feed available from some of the vehicle information systems.

    1. Boeing 777 Night Landing at LAX. Cockpit POV. 4K. 9 Minutes. I hope this falls under open thread.

  6. One thing I have found interesting in Seattle’s street grid is the lack of “SE” addresses within the city limits. There are none.

    1. Yes, that is interesting. Another is that Mercer Island has no little corner of NE addresses because it’s so far south of Main Street. Another is that in Seattle the sectors change at a “zero street”: Queen Anne Ave N, Denny Way, Yesler Way, 1st Ave NE, 1st Ave NE, 1st Ave S, etc. But S to SE just arbitrarily changes at SE 100th Street.

      Another is that Seattle’s sectors used to be different. In several old neighborhoods you find street names embedded in the sidewalk that have the same name but a different direction. I’m not sure what the old system was, or when or why it changed. None of the old ones have NW, NE, or SE, but just E or N, and sometimes the street and avenue are different. The two-letter sectors must have been new and given to both streets and avenues. But Seattle’s nine-sector system (with SE only in the suburbs) didn’t map totally cleanly with that, because in the near-north sector (between QA, Denny, Eastlake, and the Ship Canal) the streets have no direction, and in the near-east sector (Ship Canal, Eastlake, Melrose, Union, Broadway, Yesler) the avenues have no direction.

      I like Seattle’s cute nine-sector system with downtown at the center. It’s more interesting in cities that just meet at a single point. Spokane was historically interesting because even though it meets at a single point (which is exactly where the elevated railroad crosses diagonally so it’s a run-down dump), because the direction used to be before the hose number: “N 5400 Wall Street”. It was like that in the early 80s when I visited three times during high school and it was one of my favorite places on earth, a pretty walkable town with local businesses instead of chain stores and beautiful Riverfront Park. The south side has numbered streets so sometimes people put the direction after the number, “310 S 1st Avenue” instead of “S 310 1st Avenue”. I suppose that was to avoid confusion of having two numbers together, and “S” looking like “5′. But later the city abandoned the system and moved all directions after the number. I don’t know what caused them to do it. Maybe an influx of new people that found the old system too strange.

      1. Yes, the grids were different. I have no idea when they changed. Some maybe changed as old towns got gobble up during the 1890’s to 1950’s. Just a guess. I remember Ballards old tiles in the streets north of Market. Other neighborhoods have them too. I don’t walk there anymore. In a car you would not be able to see them.

    2. There are none within Seattle, no. That part of the grid still exists though. It is all over most of Southeast King County instead. North Bend has 415-435th Avenues SE aligned to Seattle’s directional grid. According to Wikipedia, this runs as far north as parts of Bellevue.

      1. Many counties are like this where the majority of the city addresses are centered around their most poulous city. Snohomish county is similar, but to what degree I am not sure.

      2. Snohomish County is a four-sector grid centered approximately on the Everett waterfront but slightly off. Going north from the King County border the numbers go down from 240th St SW to the Everett border (100th or so) and continue down without a direction to 1st near Marine View Drive (although 3rd to 1st don’t seem to exist). but the county’s north-south division east of Everett is a bit south of there at 14th Street. The county’s east-west division is at Meridian Ave (which exists in parts of 112th to 145th at least), which is directly south of Jetty Island just west of the Everett coast. The directions are NE, NE, SW, SE, except that in the SW sector most of the north-south avenues are W rather than SW.

      3. Building a city grid based on the cardinal directions I believe was pretty standard during the westward expansion of the 19th century.

        It’s really the most logical way to build if you are making a rapidly expanding city, because the angle of the shoreline does not stay the same, but the cardinal directions are the same everywhere. When the grid from town A and town B finally meet, it’s easier to fit them together.

        Doc Maynard was a smart guy who was thinking further ahead than Denny and Boren.

        The Japanese city of Sapporo was also designed by Americans in the late 19th century, so it’s one of the few old-world cities with a logical grid layout in the city center.

        I believe greek and roman colonies also tended to have a cardinal grid layout, but not much of the old road layouts survive today.

        In the medieval era street layouts were made intentionally confusing and mazelike in order to confuse invading armies. 20th century American suburbs are are kind of similar, with their illogical loops and cul-de-sacs.

  7. I think ST still has my ST3 ID station ideas on the table. Apparently the soil was too soft to extend a mezzanine from the current ID station to King Station. So to better facilitate transfers between the 4 stations and buses I suggested moving the 4th C&C station north of Jackson, extend Sounder station north, build new Sounder off-loading tracks north of Jackson, build mezzanine-tunnel between two ID Link stations, build link-sounder tunnels or overpasses, repurpose blocks between Jackson, Washington, 4th and 2nd ave area as a bus transfer station – retail (similar to Denver’s). Probably not as nice as Transbay but could be much nicer than Denver’s.

    After rejecting my first idea because of the soil issues I got positive feedback on this second plan so there is hope.

  8. Last weekend was the first weekend of local bus service on San Juan Island for the year.

    On the trip back I tend to use Amtrak thruway to Seattle and the evening train back. This was the first time since the highway 99 tunnel opened that I have done this trip. This time, the bus was stuck in traffic only about half an hour instead of the typical hour.

    Did I just happen to hit a good day or have southbound afternoons gotten slightly better?

  9. I am a bit surprised by how much social and racial justice is emphasized and even prioritized in SDOT’s congestion pricing blog post. Isn’t this an invitation to over politicize the issue? If so, have they just turned it in to a multi decadal issue rather than something that we really could use *today* to help address our growth and transportation issues? Ideally, transportation policy should focus on … well, transportation! It should be about as politically boring as how to manage the sewer system or the electrical grid. IMHO, social/racial justice can and should be addressed when it comes up (which it will), but not “prioritized” in an initial feasibility report that seems like it should focus on “technical” things like benefits/impacts to transportation, funding, and implementation options/issues. An analogy would be that with transit fares, we don’t even try to explicitly set fares based on income or socioeconomic status, we come in at the backend with things like ORCA LIFT and fare enforcement policy.

    1. It’s not just SDOT. They are just copying what other cities do. It’s called targeted exemptions. Low income, disabled, certain neighborhoods, etc., get out of paying it. Curbed has an article about the congestion pricing exemption battle in NYC. The list of groups fighting to be on the exempt list is long, and even pro-congestion pricing politicians feel the pressure from constituents who want to be exempted.

      1. Congestion pricing in its best, most equitable form is just trying to tax the rich in a weak way. Why not just tax the rich straight up?

  10. What a joke that “congestion pricing report” is. The thirty-five “poor” people who drive into downtown Seattle every day for work can figure out how to get to transit or find a job outside the cordon.

    This is just a Red Herring meant to torpedo the project.

    1. That’s the “We should eliminate food stamps and Section 8 because welfare queens” argument. You’re focusing on a few people who may have other options and ignoring the larger number of people who fall through the cracks. People with low-paying jobs are the least likely to to have company-paid parking spaces or to be able to afford $10-30 downtown parking, so they’re already on transit if they possibly can. And if they work for a large employer they get a subsidized transit pass. The others live in odd locations or work swing or night shift where there’s no transit option one direction. We’ve gotten downtown SOV mode share down to 25%; that’s really excellent; we don’t need to drive it down to 0% and deprive people who really have no transit options even though our abstract theory says them must. We should instead focus on reducing the SOV mode share outside downtown, and try to bring the citywide rate down to below 50%. The urban villages are low-hanging fruit, even if places like Magnolia and northeast Seattle will be harder and may be a lost cause.

      1. Cars allow people to get into, around, and out of downtown. Why the desire to keep people out of downtown? Transit is not a viable option for a lot of people, light rail is currently non-existent for many. Make Seattle more affordable to live in.

      2. Cars don’t scale so we can’t have too many of them. But with Seattle’s land use and the poor being pushed to the least transit-starved areas that others don’t want, there will have to be some cars remaining.

      3. Mike, of course there will be cars remaining in downtown Seattle, even with congestion pricing. But very few of them will be driven by genuinely poor people who commute. Very few are driven by genuinely poor people even now, because parking is so expensive.

        Sure, genuinely poor people occasionally have an unusual trip to downtown, but it’s almost axiomatic that you can’t be genuinely poor and work in downtown Seattle UNLESS you use muscle powered transportation or ride transit to get there. It eats up too much of even a $15/hour wage.

        Let the cost of lattes rise if baristas can’t get there except by private autos.

      4. Oh, and night shift workers don’t have to worry about the cordon. It will either be completely “off” in the evening and at night or cost $1.

        Otherwise it wouldn’t be “congestion pricing”.

        This is JUST like a carbon tax: it should apply to EVERYONE regardless of their economic station. Just as it’s fine to refund some of the proceeds of a carbon tax to low-income people through non-energy-related income support systems, it’s equally fine if some of the proceeds of congestion pricing are refunded to poor people through those same sorts of support systems.

        But the refunds should not be dependent on the poor people actually coming to the Seattle CBD for work. Limiting them in that way would dilute the effect of reducing “convenience” trips into the CBD.

      5. “night shift workers don’t have to worry about the cordon”

        People who work 11pm-7am go home in the AM peak.

      6. @Mike — Yeah, but it isn’t clear that there would be congestion pricing for leaving downtown at that hour. It is quite possible there wouldn’t. If you live downtown and work in Renton, maybe you don’t pay anything to get to Renton in the morning (but pay congestion pricing to get back). Or maybe you pay something to get from one part of downtown to the other, but not as much as someone who enters downtown. Those are the details that need to be worked out (along with other issues).

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