A @SoundTransit Link Train Resting at Angle Lake In the Dark

This is an open thread.

69 Replies to “News Roundup: the wrong direction”

  1. I’m curious if people here think this is a good idea:

    For the Issaquah line, scrap the 1-station spur to S. Kirkland P&R. Instead, have the line run up the east side of 405, turn west at NE 6th into Bellevue Downtown, and run the line from Issaquah to Seattle.

    Scrap the NE 85th rebuilding (or if WSDOT still wants it, they can pay for it themselves), and take the savings from both of those and use it to create a dedicated busway that starts in Bellevue at the I-405 express toll lanes, runs through S. Kirkland P&R, runs through Kirkland to Kirkland TC, and rejoins the I-405 ETL north of NE 85th. Stride I-405 would now have stops at Totem Lake, actual downtown Kirkland, and S. Kirkland P&R on the way to Bellevue, Issaquah would have a one-seat Link ride to Seattle, and ST doesn’t foot the bill for a freeway overhaul at NE 85th.

    1. The South Kirkland P&R extension may not be huge value, but as far as rail goes, building it is pretty cheap. Half of it will be through the O&M facility that’s ST’s anyway; the other half already has available ROW – it’s just a matter of clearing some bushes and relocating the trail. The station itself doesn’t need to be particularly fancy. You’d probably want elevator access to the existing P&R, since the 108th Ave. sidewalk is too steep for ADA, but that’s about it.

      The 85th rebuild, I do think is necessary, due to the strong anti-pedestrian design of the current configuration. Ideally, WSDOT would pay for it, but I’d rather not just end of with nothing, over idealism over which agency is responsible. The bus stop is also necessary to connect Kirkland with Bothell and Lynnwood to the north. Having to ride a local for bus for 20 minutes, just to get to the express bus, is just too much time. FWIW, The Kirkland Urban, once it opens, will be close enough to the 85th St. stop to make the walking connection at the end reasonable.

      The dedicated busway idea sounds better at first, until you dig down and realize there’s no good place to actually put such a busway, at least not without digging a multi-billion-dollar busway tunnel. Some suggested the CKC trail, but there really isn’t enough room for a two-way busway and a trail and, even if there was, the bus would still have to fight traffic on the local streets around Kirkland Transit Center. For thru-riders (e.g. Bellevue->Bothell/Lynnwood), this would be a huge degradation in travel time compared to a bus that stays on 405. You could avoid that by running Bellevue->Kirkland->Totem Lake as a separate route, but then you have to either sacrifice frequency or budget more money for operations.

      There’s no great solution, but I think the one that ST came up with as a good as can reasonably be expected.

      1. It’s a mistake, I think, to analyze the Issaquah line through the prism of ‘what do Issaquah riders want’. In ridership terms, this is mostly an intra-Bellevue line. So what will people moving around Bellevue want?

        South Kirkland, as asdf2 observes, is cheap. In the long run, it’s a natural site for more development because it’s proximate to the Bel-Red Corridor which will eventually fill up.

        Depending on how Bellevue develops by the 2030’s, Bellevue may find it prefers the line to stay east of I-405 and connect up the Wilburton corridor.

      2. “intra-Bellevue”? You mean trips to Factoria or Eastgate? Yeah, I suppose so. Those stops will likely have a lot more riders than Issaquah or South Kirkland. But that still isn’t saying much. No asdf2, there was plenty of room for two way bus traffic and a trail (with different levels for bikers and walkers — something that is missing from huge sections of the more popular Burke Gilman). But the combination of rail fetishists and “save our trail” advocates killed any attempt to build the right thing (bus improvements like the BRISK idea that Dan proposed a while ago).

        Even for Factoria and Eastgate it doesn’t add that much value, because every station but Central Issaquah is right next to the freeway (we certainly don’t need the trains for the extra capacity). In many cases, this means not only an extra transfer to get to Bellevue, but no time savings even when you are on the train. A express bus from BCC to downtown Bellevue is just as fast, if not faster than this train will be. This is arguably the biggest connection in the entire line, and it is no faster. This is true for just about every stop, with the possible exception of Central Issaquah, which unfortunately, doesn’t really have that many people (it isn’t exactly New Westminster).

        Meanwhile, as Alex has noted, this really does nothing if you are headed to downtown Seattle. After East Link is built, people from Issaquah, Sammamish, North Renton, South Bellevue (anywhere south of I-90) all will have express bus service to either Mercer Island or South Bellevue station. Now what are they supposed to do? Catch a bus to one of these stations, then ride the (infrequent) train to Bellevue, then turn around and ride to Seattle? That is much slower.

        Likewise, what about various parts of Kirkland? This does nothing if you are trying to get from say, Juanita or Totem Lake to downtown Seattle. I’m not saying it is worse (unlike the situation mentioned in the previous paragraph) but it sure isn’t better. You are still going to want to run express buses to the UW (a major destination) but you won’t have the money to run them, because we blew the money on an infrequent train to Issaquah.

      3. ““intra-Bellevue”? You mean trips to Factoria or Eastgate?”

        Trips to Bellevue College.

      4. “A express bus from BCC to downtown Bellevue is just as fast, if not faster than this train will be. This is arguably the biggest connection in the entire line, and it is no faster.”

        Oh, you had that buried there. An express bus would be a redundant service and wouldn’t be as frequent. The point of a train is it can serve multiple overlapping trip pairs simultaneously. If the Eastside was concerned that Bellevue-BC wouldn’t be fast enough, it should have thought of that before the ST3 vote.

      5. Ah, I see. I did not see the S. Kirkland spur as being cheap, because it crosses both I-405 and 520 (or rather, 405 and 520 cross it). I forgot about the fact that they are using an abandoned rail corridor that is at grade level, which they can tear up and put Link tracks on. Though at that point, it looks like it’s feasible to build direct access ramps from the I-405 express toll lanes into the eastside rail corridor, and do that instead.

        I disagree about the NE 85th interchange needing a rebuild. It’s indeed very pedestrian unfriendly, but there’s not really much there anyway but freeway ramps. I’d say give the pedestrians lighted crosswalks, but a frequent Metro bus (250 in the restructure proposal) would really get people where they’re going.

        Routing through Kirkland would be an issue. Ideally I’d have the busway wind through some of the grassier areas once it’s close enough to downtown, and maybe go along 85th st back to the freeway, and swoop over it into the center, but that’s tricky. Kirkland TC would probably have to be relocated a few blocks east. I’d want to avoid connecting the busway to the downtown Kirkland streets if possible, or do it minimally, but that’s a hard thing to do. It would be quite expensive, but so would replacing the NE 85th street ramps with a 3-level automobile jungle with a bus stop. As for speed, the detour would add travel time, but with a dedicated busway and dedicated buses, if done right I think it could be built to operate at 75 miles per hour (or faster if they get Elon Musk involved).

        As for an express bus being faster, we have the 556, and I don’t think that it’s faster. Maybe you’re thinking an direct I-90 to I-405 to NE 6th bus, and in 2041 that will be faster than the train from 9pm to 5am, especially since the bus has to weave all the way from the I-90 off-ramp.

        As far as ridership is concerned, I think the primary market will be car drivers to S. Kirkland P&R and Eastgate P&R. Eastgate is already full, so capacity would be an issue there, while S. Kirkland has a lot of unused capacity (when I park there on weekdays, I am always able to find a ground-level spot). And I think riders will be OK with frequent-ish train-to-train transfers to get to Seattle, especially if driving is unappealing.

      6. The point of a train is it can serve multiple overlapping trip pairs simultaneously.

        Yes, of course (along with the demand to justify rail and the speed improvement to justify grade separation). My point is, there just aren’t that many pairs that are being added. A series of express buses (like BRISK) would have had more. There aren’t that many stops with this line, and many of them are right next to the freeway, which is one of the fundamental problems with it (https://pedestrianobservations.com/2014/09/01/putting-rail-lines-in-highway-medians/). There is nothing inherently wrong with putting *some* stops along the freeway. But if the bulk of your stations are essentially dead space, you aren’t likely to have the ridership or time savings to justify the maintenance, let alone the constructions costs. An exception would be if it was really cheap, but in our case, it isn’t (we have tough geography).

        The bulk of the riders will have to transfer to use the train. Then they will have to transfer again. The rail ostensibly connects greater Eastgate area with Kirkland, but someone living in an apartment in Newport or working at a job between the two new Bellevue stations has a tough time getting to Totem Lake, Juanita, downtown Kirkland (or practically anywhere in Kirkland). They find the new rail to be useless. They might as well take the express bus to South Bellevue station, then the train, then the express bus to Kirkland. At least the train in the middle runs often. Better yet, how about an express bus to downtown Bellevue followed by another bus to Kirkland. Building that would cost a small fraction of the money spent on this silly train line.

        The point is, the line adds very little. You don’t even have the major improvement in bus frequency that typically comes from an extension into the suburbs. You can’t save millions after spending billions by truncating, because truncation would screw over all those riders trying to get to downtown Seattle (who outnumber those headed to downtown Bellevue). You are still going to run the buses to South Bellevue (or Mercer Island), while gaining very little in terms of truncation.

        If the Eastside was concerned that Bellevue-BC wouldn’t be fast enough, it should have thought of that before the ST3 vote.

        Of course they thought of it. Not just ordinary citizens, but the Kirkland City Council. Holy cow, Mike, that is huge. The city council decided to hire their own consultant to try and figure the best way to move people. After the consultant decided on running buses on the CKC, the council supported the recommendation. They wanted bus service there, even though locals — the “save our trail” folks — could have voted them out of office. But this act of political courage was rejected by the rail fetishists at Sound Transit.

        Oh, I get it. I understand the appeal of rail. Every city likes rail. Big cities (like Bellevue and Seattle) like rail because they assume it is the only way to have fast transit. They might not know where to build it, but they understand (correctly) that they are big enough to justify it. Smaller cities like it because they want to feel like a big city. It is just like a major league sports team in that respect (I don’t think it is a big coincidence that Sacramento has one of the worst performing light rail lines as well as an NBA team — it really can’t justify either, but it wants to feel big, like the folks out on the coast). But when Kirkland had the courage to do the right thing, it was ST that overruled them. Voters meanwhile, were stuck choosing between rejecting the whole thing (which included some obviously good pieces), or approving the whole thing (which included Issaquah to South Kirkland rail). We couldn’t vote for BRISK or a Ballard to UW subway or any particular project. We had to either live with every ill-conceived notion of transit the ignorant politicians proposed, or reject it all.

      7. Kirkland never proposed BRT from Kirkland to Issaquah, only from Kirkland to Bellevue. Issaquah Link was going to happen anyway because the Issaquah mayor/boardmember was really keen on it. BRISK was a 405 issue; I don’t recall any of the lines going to Eastgate or Issaquah.

    2. Because this line is delayed until 2041, the best choices could easily change once the concepts get more studied in about 10 years. The important thing that should be done soon is that the track switching needs to be incorporated into the East Link construction as change orders — so that a messy reconstruction won’t be required after East Link opens.

    3. I think it’s a good idea for you people to take a break from your important work of comment section transit planning and show some concern for your fellow commenter Mark, who was hit by a car on his bike on Friday.

  2. The Paris Metro carries over 4 million a day. It carries 1.52 billion a year, while the entire RER system carries 657 million (or less than half is much). I think the tourists are right — the main workhorse there really is the Metro.

    1. RER A has multiple branches at each end making it more like four lines with a common trunk segment. The trunk is well designed with multiple platforms and tracks at high volume stations so that dwell times don’t reduce capacity and frequency

      1. Yeah, the RER is huge. It is 365 miles long. It also has 257 stations (which is quite something) and given the size of Paris (huge) it is no surprise it carries so many people. But the Metro still carries a lot more each day.

      2. OK, the Metro is a bigger workhorse, but that doesn’t mean the RER is not a workhorse or non-essential. I’ve never been to Paris but I’ve heard the Metro’s stop spacing is very close, so it’s only useful for certain kinds of trips. The RER goes further out where the Metro’s travel time would be exessive, and also goes across the center so people can go through the center more quickly than the Metro can. Every level of service works best for certain trips and not as well for other trips. In the US we often get into an either/or situation: either a closely-spaced subway or a limited-stop subway (1-2 mile) or a widely-spaced commuter rail. You need at least two or all three of them.

    2. The Paris regional rail network carries almost as many passengers as the Metro, I believe 1.2 billion annually. But some of its lines are run by RATP and some by SNCF, and those tend to get reported differently, RATP only reporting its own lines and SNCF lumping its own RER lines with Transilien.

  3. Pierce Transit isn’t considering BRT on 6th Ave? Seriously? This is transit malpractice.

    1. Donde,
      I noticed that as well and don’t understand why Pierce Transit is planning on building a BRT line on S 19th St. along the same right of way as the Tacoma Link extension to TCC. Unless they think they can use the same infrastructure, though I thought the plan was a LRT only bridge over Route 16.
      Maybe their afraid of touching parking along 6th, which I sort of understand. But that area really needs fast, frequent reliable transit service.

      1. I wondered about the S 19th option too – it only makes sense if they can re-use the infrastructure for the LINK line they intend to build (unless it’s an alternative to light rail…)

        Sixth Avenue would be more disruptive than any of these proposed lines – which I expect has something to do with it being left off the list.

        There’s also the fact that Route 1 travels parallel to Route 2 and ends where they meet at TCC (while Route 2 continues on to Lakewood). Arguably, investing in high capacity/frequency service on both routes isn’t the best use of scarce resources. If PT is committed to HCT on 19th, then I think 6th becomes a harder sell.

      2. I don’t think excluding 6th Ave – at this point in time – from a BRT plan is the worst thing in the world. Route 1 already has frequent service on 6th. S 19th will get light rail/streetcar in a few years out to TCC. It is one mile from 6th to S 19th. S 19th runs past the large Target & Walmart shopping centers, yet another hospital and surrounding medical offices; a DSHS office; and terminates at both Tacoma Community College and the adjacent dated, poorly utilized, and ripe-for-redevelopment James Center and surrounding shopping areas. I can also see the Allenmore Golf Course being re-purposed by the time Tacoma Link gets extended. 15 years ago, literally every engineer I worked with, besides myself and one or two youngin’s golfed. Now, most do not. At Boomer-centric industry events, engineering firms sometimes find themselves having to only have a booth as there aren’t any young professionals who still golf. The folks who do golf, generally don’t live in the city – they live in places like Bonney Lake, Lacey, or South Hill, because they value “open spaces.” The 19th corridor connects perfectly to the MLK routing of the Tacoma Link at St. Joe’s hospital, down the street from Tacoma General. The 19th routing creates a continuous route between 3 hospitals, surrounding clinics, a community college, and some great places to build TOD (Allenmore Golf Course, James Center, & Target/Walmart), and it is just a mile down and parallel to 6th Ave. Pierce County’s resources are sparse, so we simply can’t afford duplication of services to the tune that Bellevue and Seattle can. If your destination (home, work, or play) is 6th Ave, use the existing Route 1, or walk to the 19th Tacoma Link once it is built.

      3. Since you brought up duplication, 19th is expected to get light rail as part of ST3, so given the choice between BRT on 6th and 19th, 6th is the clear choice.

      4. 6th Avenue is the arts district and needs frequent service for people to get to events. I have not been impressed with the frequency of the 1-digit routes, especially at off-peak times when events are scheduled. Still, PT could commit to frequent service on the 1N without upgrading it to BRT. Or PT could later extend the Pacific line to include it.

    2. For those who can’t get through the paywall, what are the three corridors? If it’s not 6th Ave and it’s not Pacific, is it Routes 2 and 3?

      If the S 19th Street corridor is east of MLK, it would answer the issue of Link being too circuitous for trips between west 19th and the Central Link terminus at Tacoma Dome.

      1. Mike,
        There is a section east of MLK, but it appears to take the same routing as the RT 1 BRT line and go north on Market St. to the “Commerce St Transfer Area”. So you’d need to transfer somehow from Tacoma Dome.

        Seems like an awful lot of transit down S 19th.

      2. ST is already covering Pacific, but 6th Ave is not part of it.

        The other corridors are routes 2, 3, and 4.

        2 is 19th and Bridgeport.
        3 is Tacoma Way to the mall.
        4 is Meridian in Puyallup.

      3. So it’s like the First Hill Streetcar. The 9, 49, and 60 overlap with it because it doesn’t go far enough to be useful if you’re going north or south.

      4. To clarify, the corridors in the article are:
        Corridor 1: The current BRT planned, along route 1
        Corridor 2: Tacoma to Lakewood, along route 3
        Corridor 3: Tacoma to Lakewood, along route 2 (just to confuse us I guess)
        Corridor 4: Puyallup Station to South Hill TC, along route 402

        (here’s a non-paywall link: https://legistarweb-production.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/attachment/pdf/357685/Pierce_Transit_CITY_OF_PUYALLUP_PRESENTATION_no_video.pdf)

        6th Ave should definitely have BRT, and they could even preserve parking by doing the center-running option. Though what also disappointed me is the fact that the Puyallup line isn’t long enough to really go anywhere. It would be much more useful if the Puyallup BRT took over either the 400 leg to Tacoma or the 402 leg to Federal Way (or even took both at 30 minute frequency, and combine for 15 minute frequency in Puyallup). It’s a parking lot shuttle otherwise. It’s a shame because both the 400 (no weekend service) and 402 (last trips leave before 8pm) could really use upgrades.

      5. Thanks. The numbering may be the order they would be built based on declining ridership. I imagine the central corridor would get more ridership than Bridgeport Way. especially with Tacoma Mall becoming an urban center.

        The Puyallup line looks like it goes from Puyallup to South Hill. Is that a significant corridor? It seems equivalent to a line from Kent to Covington. You go from South Hill to Puyallup, then what do you do when Sounder isn’t running? You’d have to take a lower-frequency bus to Tacoma Dome station to get to Tacoma or Seattle. That situation actually exists in Bellevue now, where the B runs every 15 minutes but the 550 is every 30 minutes Sunday and evenings.

  4. Well I guess I’m a statistic now, I was injured while biking in Kirkland on Friday. A driver, attempting to make a left turn across traffic on Lake Washington Blvd, did not check to see if there were any oncoming people in the bike lane (there was one, me) and turned without giving me time to react. Now I have three broken ribs and one totaled e-bike.

    I do plan on replacing the bike but I guess I’ll be bus commuting until I do that and heal completely. I’m wondering if Kirkland can do anything else to make biking safer on that lane.

    Oh, the driver was uninsured, so that’s neat.

    1. Get better soon! As a Kirkland resident, and Lake Wash Blvd car driver and bike rider, I do think Kirkland does a good job with bike and pedestrian safety in terms of marked bike lanes, marked crosswalks with pedestrian flags and pedestrian activated warning lights, and vehicle speed radar feedback signs. Would you care to share what area of LWB it happened on? And what do you think Kirkland could do to make biking safer on that lane?

    2. Sorry to hear. I feel your pain. I got ran down from behind by a distracted driver while I was, in all places, a bike lane. Go figure. Fractures are all healed and ankle finally working again. Just takes time.

    3. Sorry to hear about that. I hope the recovery goes well. What that driver did was unbelievably dumb. There are some bike lane configurations that are super scary because it is hard to see all the places a bike could come from, but this was not even one of those. This driver had an easy job. You were right in the line of sight of the driver and he/she still screwed this up. I hope the driver was able to cover the damages out of pocket (or retirement).

    4. Mark, I hope you have a good recovery. As a pedestrian, I was hit by a car (outside the Seattle area) when I was in a zebra striped crosswalk adjacent to a transit station, at dusk. You may find that people–especially non-cyclists– are startled to hear that you were hit. Somehow people may intellectually know that crashes are a problem, but not imagine it happening to somebody they actually know. You may also find that people have trouble really grasping the seriousness of what happened to you.

  5. TriMet is having a contest on Twitter for people to win a special edition “Pride Month” version of the HOP card. Special edition versions of transit cards might be an interesting way to encourage their use.

    1. Seoul has a bunch of different cards – I’d assume most locals have one anyway as the transit system is ubiquitous, but there were still some cool cards (and of course many were tied into some company’s marketing campaign, which probably also brought in some extra won). Mine has a goofy-looking bear on it.

      I’d think something similar could be done here; the cost is probably minimal (my firm has its logo on the back of our ORCAs, and I doubt they’d have spent a ton for that).

  6. Lynnwood to improve trail access to its station: Great! Lynnwood to take as long as the construction of *entire* Lynnwood Link to pave that *1 mile* section: WTF???

  7. Lynnwood’s Interurban Trail is visible from the transit center. Woodinville’s Sammamish River Trail doesn’t even have a sign at the P&R saying which direction it is and how far it is.

  8. If West Seattle and Ballard are delayed for tunnels, and DSTT2 may also be delayed because it’s tied to Ballard, and ST doesn’t want to run a line from Everett to Tacoma because it’s too long for drivers, then what happens in 2036? East Link is planned to go from 128th to Redmond. Would Everett go from Everett to Stadium? Where would Tacoma terminate, Northgate? There’s no turnaround between Stadium and Northgate. Would this put more trains in DSTT1 than ST is planning (3-minute headways). ST said that to bring headways below 3 minutes would require capital improvements to DSTT1, which was a candidate project for ST3 but was deslected when DSTT2 was accepted. So how would all that work out, and could it mean an additional delay for Everett? Or would East Link take over Everett, so Tacoma would run from Tacoma Dome to 128th? But that still might be too long.

    1. As long as ST is smart enough to design for flexibility with sidings, a number of options exist. Creating a series of shorter, overlapping lines on the Everett-Tacoma spine seems the way to do it, as Mike suggests.

      Frankly, there WILL be time when at least one tunnel is blocked. Police incidents and mechanical problems will periodically occur. Without flexibility , the system will freeze up within minutes.

      1. Somebody came up with a great idea for (I think) seven or so different lines using various portions of the built-out ST3 system – but I’m completely unable to find it at the moment. The brilliance of the idea was that it enabled different routings from given stations whilst allowing for higher frequencies where needed (sort of the “overlapping lines”) Al S. mentions above. It was well thought out and described. If anybody knows the piece I’m talking about and could post a link, I’d be grateful as I’d love to bookmark it.

      2. I have the map posted in my cube. It looks so good people think its the real plan. It should be.

      3. Yep! That’s it – thanks Al! Zach’s plan is brilliant – one of those things that as a designer I just look at and think “wow.” Anywhere to anywhere with one transfer max (except Issaquah’s “orphan line”); wait for a direct train or take the next one and transfer; correct headways in outlying and urban areas; almost no additional cost – I really love this plan and hope someone at ST has seen it or will.

      4. I agree, Scott.

        Thanks for also mentioning that the concept enables a rider’s choice — board and transfer, or wait a few more minutes for direct service — with such a system. By enabling that choice, riders don’t have to wait any longer for a train than they do in the current concept. I am routinely explaining that riders lose several minutes when transferring anyway — and given some of the current proposed transfer station layouts (like the idiotic deep station options), waiting another six minutes to avoid a transfer is quite appealing.

        The challenge is how to guarantee that such a concept is even possible. ST has not shown any motivation to design tracks for flexible operations concepts, and little motivation to make rail-rail transfers a priority over adjacent property owners’ construction mitigation concerns.

      5. Agree completely. ST has shown some skill (after teething pains) in constructing a rail system, but they seem to have an immense blind spot where it comes to how the rider will actually use the system. This has manifested itself in everything from rail/bus transfers to rail/rail transfers. There is a caveat that it is difficult to plan for bus routes that they don’t control and that may or may not manifest themselves – the region’s other transit agencies have responsibility there as well – but even then some things just seem to be ignored. The station at N 145th/I-5 (really 148th) was sited specifically because they want to terminate their own bus (the 522) there and gave no thought to how anybody else from the surrounding areas would get there save the first 500 drivers. A Metro crosstown bus on 145th either leaves their passengers three blocks from the station or traverses three signals out of direction to serve the station. Thank goodness 130th was added and will act as an actual bus/rail transfer point that works. That wasn’t ST’s decision, though – they had to be forced into it.

        I certainly understand budget decisions driving many choices – this happens with private projects too, of course – but there are two things I’d like to see happen in their design process that just don’t seem to be happening. The first is an actual visualization of how the transit user will use the facility in every possible permutation. At ID Station, for example, how far would someone coming from Ballard and going to Bellevue have to walk between trains? Redmond to West Seattle? Northgate to the airport? The proposed deep transfer station at ID is an abomination from a user’s perspective. I can’t believe anyone who gave any thought at all as to how riders using that version of the station would experience it could support this design. It should be eliminated promptly from further discussion, no matter what mitigation to the ID needs to occur. After all, the residents and businesses there may be inconvenienced for a couple of years but they will use it for decades.

        Second, design the system for the tourist. Not as in “only tourists will use it,” but with the thought process that a first time user from somewhere else can relatively easily find it, pay the fare (hello short-term passes!), and use it to get anywhere. This requires planners who have actually traveled to other cities around the globe and used transit as their means to get around to be involved. I’ve used transit in countless cities and there are definitely best (and worst) practices out there – and as someone dropped into the middle of a city where I often did not speak the language well, it was very enlightening as to how easy (Seoul, Santiago) or difficult (Buenos Aires) it was to use the train and bus system. If a visitor can figure things out with minimal effort, locals will find it even easier.

        Riders are customers, and ST should be acutely aware of this – they are the true stakeholders, not politicians or contractors. Make their lives easier and you’ve done your job.

      6. @Scott Stidell. Well said! Your final paragraph needs to be repeated as often as possible:

        “Riders are customers, and ST should be acutely aware of this – they are the true stakeholders, not politicians or contractors. Make their lives easier and you’ve done your job.”

      7. “Riders are customers, and ST should be acutely aware of this – they are the true stakeholders, not politicians or contractors. Make their lives easier and you’ve done your job.”

        Brilliantly and perfectly stated

      8. “ST has shown some skill (after teething pains) in constructing a rail system, but they seem to have an immense blind spot where it comes to how the rider will actually use the system.”


        Some people have suggested a user-experience advocate or a riders’ review board. Maybe we should start lobbying our boardmembers specifically for these and try to get the board to consider it. ST keeps making decisions that aren’t in passengers’ interest.

        The most basic responsibility of a subway line is to get people from point A to point B. The second-most basic responsibility is to facilitate transfers. That’s crucial to having the transfer seen as an asset (“I can access more places.”) rather than as a liability (“This transfer is so awful maybe I’ll take a bus or drive.”).

    2. I would think the easiest option is Northgate to Tacoma, along with Everett to Bellevue. Both could run every 6 minutes during peak, giving Northgate to downtown (where the bulk of the riders will be) three minute headways. It takes about the same amount of time to get to Northgate as to Ballard, so that would work out fine.

      1. Yes that seems the most logical, RossB.

        A variation on this could be for these lines to operate as base 9-10 minute headways all day and evening, with a third line that operates during the morning and afternoon peak times where it’s most needed to relieve overcrowding (like Lynnwood to SODO or Northgate to Seatac).

        The loads analysis after 2026 (at least a year after Lynnwood, Federal Way and Downtown Redmond/ East Link open and bus routes are restructured) can then be mostly based on real-world behavior because the incremental ridership increases from Everett Link, Tacoma Dome Link and the infill stations will be a much lower proportion of central Seattle ridership that will need to be estimated additional riders. That would enable ST service planners to hone in on the best ways to manage the inevitable overcrowding.

      2. ST did have a third Northgate-Stadium line running daytime in early ST2 planning.

        ST believes it will need two lines up to 128th to manage capacity.

      3. ST believes it will need two lines up to 128th to manage capacity.

        Yes, and ST has repeatedly underestimated urban ridership, and overestimated suburban ridership (which seems to be their raison d’être). A four car train running up there will be more than sufficient.

  9. Is there any hope of increased Night Owl service hours soon?

    I’m usually out after midnight a few times a month, and while Metro’s creation of the Night Owl network was a major improvement, the frequencies for most of the routes for most of the night are still low enough that relying on the buses to get around still requires planning your life around the bus schedule.

    1. Metro funded the night owls for decades until 2014, when they were deleted in the recession cuts. The Seattle City Council stepped in to keep the Seattle ones running, and now they’re funded by Prop 1, a short-term levy that expires in 2021. Prop 1 both preserves and enhances the night owls, and fills in evening and Sunday frequency on several routes.

      The next funding measure coming is a countywide one to fund Metro’s long-term plan. It remains to be seen how much of the plan it would cover, and whether it passes. The last few countywide Metro votes have failed.

      The long-range plan doesn’t explicitly address night owls so I don’t know what Metro is thinking. I assume it would continue as current. But it’s hard to see how having countywide taxes funding several night owls in Seattle and hardly any in the suburbs (only the A, E, 120, 124, 180, and ST 574 — all but one in southwest King County) wouldn’t raise suburban opposition. (The 574 is funded by ST and has a weird schedule: 2am-10pm northbound, 4am-midnight southbound, for early-morning airport workers.)

      As you know, the night-owl restructure straighened out the weird loops that only went as far N 85th Street, and notably made the 65/67 night owl transferring to an all-night 49 and 44, and that with the E gave Shoreline, Northgate, and Lake City night owl service for the first time. I don’t know how good the transfers are; probably bad I assume. But I would like to see more night owl service like this, and get something to the Eastside and the Kent industrial jobs.

      I assume Metro planners would say Seattle has the right routes now, it just needs frequency. And southwest King County is the most deserving suburban area because of suburbanized poverty and service jobs. I haven’t thought much about specific corridors for Eastside or north Kent service. The former 280 went from downtown across 520 to downtown Bellevue and south Bellevue, then along 405 to Renton and, if I remember, Grady Way and East marginal Way back to downtown. I lived in eastern Bellevue so it was an hour’s walk from the transit center to my house, and my roommate works in a north Kent warehouse that’s an hour’s walk from Grady Way. (I hadn’t thought of 180+A+124 until now; I don’t know if their schedule would work for 3 or 4am shifts.) Renton would presumably say it should get night owl again. I don’t know what corridors Metro would consider at this point. Another issue is that the 49 and 11 will be going away with RapidRide G, so I don’t know how Metro would adjust the night owls for that. Maybe shift the 11’s hours to the G (leaving out Madison Park), and shifting the 49’s hours to the north-south route (which would require a transfer on Capitol Hill), or shift the 49’s hours to the 70 (which is planned to become “Roosevelt” RapidRide).

      1. On a related topic, do we know how the night owl restructure changed (and hopefully improved) ridership?

      2. I can’t remember if the city was going to have a performance report on this. It would be nice to see because I’ve been wondering this.

  10. Another perspective on whether adding luxury housing keeps citywide rents lower (Citylab, Nolan Gray). He cities another paper by Evan Mast that adding luxury housing causes a chain of moves that vacates the last building in the chain (as somebody moves into the luxury unit, vacating another unit which somebody moves up into. thus ieaving the last and usually lowest-priced unit vacant for a lower-income renter.

    One complicating factor is it only works if no new people are moving into the area. If the people moving in are higher-income than the existing residents (as happened in Seattle over the last decade), then they’ll take the high-end units and block the chain, and if they’re numerous enough to spread into the older units, then that will squeeze out whatever slack existed in the market. That’s also what happened in Seattle, where the $500 units were torn down or bid up due to the acute shortage of housing. But people moving to the region didn’t cause the shortage of housing: it was the policies that prevented enough hosing from being built for them that caused the shortage.

  11. Wow – some of the old STB posts have not aged well. In particular, one of the original posts from April 26, 2007 listing reasons why people should take the bus has the following line:

    “2) Girls (and boys for ladies) that you can try to pick up. It’s worked for me more than you’d imagine.”

    2007 was a different time and this blog was a different beast at that time, but – yikes – through a 2019 lens that comes off really bad for several reasons.

  12. Wow. A link to a “Lens” article. I never thought I would see that on this particular blog. But anyway…..

    The news roundup title above is quite misleading. To characterize the case as “anti-MVET” is just lazy editorializing. I read about this a week or so ago and was glad to see that the case is moving forward. Shame on the state legislature for not fixing the problem (one they themselves created in the 2015 transportation package) during the last three sessions. It feels like it’s been nothing but lip service from our elected representatives on this matter.

    1. I was bewildered by the article. Is this about the legislature not switching to new MVET schedule for ST3? But what would that have to do with the constitution? Are they trying to invalidate all MVETs?

    2. The lawsuit is seeking the refund of all MVET taxes that have been collected. So it’s entirely accurate to describe it as anti-MVET.

      1. “The lawsuit is seeking the refund of all MVET taxes that have been collected.”

        That’s completely false. The relief sought ($240M) only pertains to the additional MVET approved under ESSB 5987 which the petitioners claim is invalid. I suggest you read the actual complaint. It’s Pierce County Superior Court case no. 18-2-08733-9, Black et al v. Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority and State of Washington.

  13. San Jose goes big on apodments. (Atlantic) Starcity, an 18-story building with 803 rooms with communal kitchens, 130-200 sq ft, at $2000+ (“including furnishings, utilities, WiFi, and rapport-building building-wide events”). It got a new zoning category for it. And in San Francisco SoMa, a 16-story building with 270 units at $800+. (Yes, eight hundred.)

    “Future iterations of Starcity’s co-living model will make room for babies, joining family-friendly co-living start-ups like Kin, which feature shared playrooms and family kitchens in its developments.”

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