- Feds send $100m for Federal Way Link.
- Mike Lindblom has a great article on why Link takes so long ($). See also Zach from 3 years ago.
- Minor changes to Madison BRT, open house coming soon.
- First Hill Streetcar improvements watered down due to local opposition.
- Kirkland may add “missing middle” housing.
- A low-income fare is a contentious issue in Spokane.
- By the time we get our e-scooters, there may not be any companies left.
- Kent playing hardball, blocks Metro facility with a zoning change.
- King County approves North Eastside restructure with small changes from the original concept. The 255 is leaving Downtown Seattle next year.
- Things to do at each Seattle Link stop.
- Nathalie Graham reviews Link’s stairs.
- Minor improvements for RapidRide H (Delridge).
- Local startup with yet another e-vehicle for sharing.
- Mayor Durkan signs ADU bill into law.
- Jarrett Walker on tunneling MAX under downtown.
- BC inches closer to allowing ride hailing.
This is an open thread.
97 Replies to “News Roundup: Minor Changes”
Anyone heard of this guy? He films local transit workers like drivers, supervisors, FEO’s, etc., then posts it to YouTube. I guess he thinks he’s exposing “racists.”
That new route 544 is a dogs breakfast. Anyone who would use it to get to S Kirkland just needed to stay on till yarrow point and catch 255 there.
Where is Spokane County in all this? It could declare transportation poverty a problem of countywide significance and find a way to subsidize a low-income fare without taking it out of the transit agency’s operating budget or forcing the board to consider options that might jepordize federal grants or make voters feel they’ve been had. We don’t address homelessness by saying the housing department has the entire burden of fixing it with its existing funds and nobody else has any responsibility. (So it should cut other things to address it?) Yet that’s what we expect transit agencies to do.
Ah….. we are talking about Spokane here. Ya, it is a little more purple than the rest of E. WA, but it is far from being progressive.
Don’t believe me? Follow the campaign of Nadine Woodward.
And don’t forget, residing just next door in the thriving metropolis of Spokane Valley is Matt Shea and his base of support. Yes, outside of the Spokane city limits, but very much inside of Spokane County.
Kent to Metro: Not in my back yard.
This was a good idea though: “I would say that if the proposal also included a mix of uses and included superior site design the city of Kent would be open to the use within our jurisdiction,” Hanson [city economic and community development director] said about a bus base.”
Yes, it should include housing or other industrial uses in a multistory building. I’d be more hopeful if a councilmember or the entire council said this, especially the part about the city “would be open” to such a base. The right way to do this is to encourage or require that transit bases incorporate mixed use, not to ban them and then say unofficially they might make an exception. Because they might not. Put it in an ordinance or policy.
Examples of a mixed use transit base?
San Francisco is building housing on top of a bus base: https://www.sfexaminer.com/news/sf-plans-to-build-housing-on-top-of-a-bus-yard-in-first-of-its-kind-proposal/
Hong Kong has always built apartments above rail depots: https://www.checkerboardhill.com/2015/01/railway-depots-hong-kong-property-development/
It’s not exactly a transit base, but Hudson Yards in NYC is built on top of a rail yard.
The Spring District.
You said, ” The right way to do this is to encourage or require that transit bases incorporate mixed use …” East and Bellevue bases didn’t incorporate mixed use. Neither did East OMF. They are just in a mixed use area of town. I’m not trying to be argumentative. I honestly don’t know what a mixed use transit base is.
I thought the east base had some design features to allow more than just a train base on the lot or allow buildings to get closer to it.
A mixed-use transit base might have trains or buses on the ground floor and housing above, or industrial workplaces or retail above, or a park on the roof, or other uses around the sides in the lot, or something like that. The new electric substation at 12th & John is supposed to have have a dog park on it, so that sort of thing. If this is in an industrial area with wide streets and large superblocks, it may not make sense to put isolated housing there, but small industrial workspaces or even one large company could easily use the second floor. Maybe not a company with a lot of trucks, since hundreds of buses will be filling the lot.
The real issue is 30 acres of lost tax revenue. I guess it’s easier to block a bus base with zoning than a light rail maintenance facility (or Bellevue would have) but Kent seems to be doing a good job on both counts.
“That new route 544 is a dogs breakfast. Anyone who would use it to get to S Kirkland just needed to stay on till yarrow point and catch 255 there.”
It seems like a minor flaw. The underlying problem is that the 405/520 interchange, the P&R, and a straight Bellevue-Kirkland route aren’t all in the same place, then there could be a well-used P&R/transfer station there. Without that, ST feels a need to serve South Kirkland P&R, which may or may not be worthwhile depending on how many people ride it from South Kirkland to SLU (or transfer in SLU to downtown). It’s also a good sign that ST is thinking more seriously about non-downtown express routes rather than funneling everybody downtown as if everybody’s going to a 4th Avenue office building.
It isn’t such a minor flaw. Looping the South Kirkland P&R will take a substantial amount of time at rush hour; I regularly ride the 541, but I’m going to make an effort to avoid this route.
This’s a real pity coming right after the Montlake Freeway Station closed – Sound Transit is cutting off three-fourths of their direct service to the UW Station area.
I haven’t seen the particular routing in SLU the new 544 is going to take.
If I were designing it, I would follow Sewart->Denny->Westlake->Valley in the westbound direction, ending the route where the C-line ends, over by Fred Hutch. In the Eastbound direction, I would go Valley->Westlake->Denny->Bellevue Ave.->Olive Way.
This proposal has multiple advantages:
1) Of all the north/south streets in SLU, Westlake traverses the center and has the largest walkshed
2) It leverages bus lanes already installed for the 8 and C-line to minimize exposure to traffic
3) Avoids Denny->Boren->Olive to access I-5, which is likely to be a complete parking lot
4) Allows the 544 to continue to serve Capital Hill->Microsoft commuters, albeit with a stop one block north of where the 545 stops.
That said, I am still very skeptical of the merits of a South Kirkland Park and Ride deviation on the way to Redmond. The length of the deviation is about the same amount of time as the 545’s peak-hour headway (~7 minutes), which means it is near certain that, at least during the hours that the 544 is running, that when the 544 is busy mucking around South Kirkland P&R, a 545 bus is going to pass it. Which means everybody getting on the 544 in Redmond could have just gotten on the 545 instead, switched over to the 544 at Yarrow Point, and arrived in South Lake Union at the same time. In other words, all those service hours the 544 spends in Redmond aren’t really helping people in Redmond get where they’re going any sooner.
Ultimately, I see the primary value of the 544 being people that either drive to South Kirkland P&R to catch it, or ride to South Kirkland P&R on a bus that *doesn’t* go to Yarrow Point, such as the 249, or new route 250. In practice, the riders will be almost all the former, none the latter, but the number of people that can drive to the 544 at South Kirkland will be fundamentally limited by the number of parking spaces of a parking garage that is already filled to capacity.
I’m not thrilled with the choice, and I especially dislike taking away capacity on Redmond->U-district with Montlake Freeway Station closed, forcing more people to fight traffic into downtown on the 545. It basically feels like having Redmond pay for mitigation to Kirkland for losing their one seat ride to the downtown area.
Ultimately, I think the elephant in the room is so many hours continuing to be spent on the 545 fighting traffic to and within downtown. If the 545 were truncated, there would be plenty of hours to go around to have both a 544 and a 541. But, I can understand ST not wanting to change too much at once. The last thing they want to do is get people mad, and have the entire restructure thrown out by the county council. The 545 truncation will almost certainly happen within a few years anyway, once the opening of East Link provides the necessary cover.
Why dating in L.A. comes down to ZIP codes. Well-written article talking about dating, density and sprawl.
“I hadn’t yet discovered there are certain times you can — and can’t — drive across town, and certain days you end up staying home entirely because you missed the calmest window …”
NYC is similar. Living in Harlem and dating someone in Bushwick is basically long distance dating. There are people who won’t date outside their boro.
Have the proposed Madison BRT buses with batteries and no wires actually been field-tested with a load of passengers on Madison and Spring Streets on both rainy and dry days?
They’re now planning to use diesel hybrid busses on Madison RR. Don’t think battery busses were ever the plan. Extending the wire was the previous plan.
And full battery-electric busses are taking over the world.
The key part of the question is about field testing! We can debate semantics all day; at the end of the day it’s how they operate in the field that counts.
A related question is how well these buses stay in their lane and align with the median stops.
The time for theory is over! Let’s see them actually work before commuting this much money to construction!
I thought they didnt run articulated buses on steep hills, why now are they okay?
It depends on the street. Articulated buses have several limitations when it comes to hills:
1) Brakes – Braking performance is tricky with the articulation joint; for example the old diesel articulated buses (the 1400 and 2000 series MANs) were not allowed on the Counterbalance because their braking performance wasn’t sufficient (they’d jackknife and/or skid), especially in wet conditions.
2) Breakover angle – The articulated joint give artics a worse breakover angle than standard buses, although I believe the approach and departure angles are close to identical. On some of Seattle’s hills, even some types of standard buses can bottom out, so Metro is pretty picky about this. For example, you can’t run artics on Route 12 because of the breakover angles on Marion Street, and during the trolley replacement process Metro ruled out some standard bus models because of breakover, approach, or departure angle limitations.
3) Driven wheels – (This is what killed using trolleys on Madison BRT) Our artic trolleys are driven by the rear wheels only. They don’t have the traction to climb very steep hills such as Madison, especially in wet conditions. Artic trolleys with both the middle and rear axles driven exist; SFMTA used to have a bunch for example, and New Flyer offered to engineer it for us, but since we’re talking about a ~20 bus fleet the cost was prohibitive as you’d be spreading the significant development costs over a small fleet.
It’s important to highlight that the City of Seattle is not in the business to buy and operate buses. They may understand signing and striping and signals and pouring street concrete — but they don’t run buses!
The public generally trusts that SDOT always knows what they are doing; several of us on the STB are concerned that the lack of proof about the vehicle performance (a deafening silence) seems to point to a foreboding Madison debacle.
When a streetscape plan as irreversible as the Madison project is funded and ready for bids, SDOT should have already proved that any potential problem won’t happen.
That’s what we’re concerned about. Articulated buses are noticeably slower going up hills, and generally accelerate slower everywhere. I’ve gotten to the point that when I get a single bus on a route that’s normally articulated, I’m glad. The last test of non-trolleybuses on Madison wasn’t steller, so I’m hoping SDOT doesn’t water down this route so much it’s disappointing, because most of our other transit upgrades have been like that and Madison was finally going to be a first-rate one.
Metro always waters down their projects and then under delivers even on the watered down expectations. It has been like that for decades. I don’t hold out a lot of hope for Madison BRT.
Ah, but it has been gospel here that “This time it’s different! Madison BRT is such an obvious win that SDOT will pull out all the stops to make it so!”
Welcome to the real world where saving $20 million on overhead wire is worth making millions of transit trips in the future a couple of minutes longer each. Isn’t that obvious?
@Lazarus — It isn’t watered down. There was every opportunity to water it down, but they stuck with the most ambitious plans.
@Tom — It wasn’t about the wire. I don’t why you got that idea. Yet another example of how people make assumptions that further their personal stereotypes (in this case, that Metro was all too happy to “water down” their BRT plans).
It was about the buses. No one would sell them any. They either had to water down the project (i. e. have buses running in BAT lanes) or do what they did.
So now the buses that will be running in their own lanes — in the center of the street — will be diesel electric. Big freaking deal. Seriously, of all the aspects of this plan, that is the least important. The effect on speed is minor. The buses aren’t go up Snoqualmie Pass — they are going up First Hill. It is only a few blocks, and they will likely manage just fine. Trolleys would be faster, but only by a few seconds.
Of course I would rather have trolleys. Everyone would. But they couldn’t get the ones they wanted. Imagine if they just went with BAT lanes and electric buses. Do you think folks here would be thrilled with that? Of course not. They would be talking about how the thing got “watered down”.
Meanwhile, no one talks about how Link has been watered down repeatedly. When faced with a tough decision about First Hill station, they just abandoned it. They allowed the UW to dictate where the UW station would be (at the worst possible corner). The Mount Baker station is awful; the 145th station is at 148th, etc. Now they want to have the mother of all waterings, the golden shower of waterings — moving the Ballard station over to West Woodland.
The diesel buses will be fine for now, and could always be replaced later. The main reason New Flyer couldn’t get us the buses is that our request was too small (in part because the buses will go fast). If we convert the 7 to RapidRide as proposed (with center running on Jackson) then we would probably have enough to justify the purchase. Then we could sell the other buses, or just use them for routes like the E (which will never be run under wire). In contrast, we are simply stuck with every “watering down” decision that ST has made. Even when they had a chance to backfill First Hill (with ST3) they claimed their wasn’t enough money (despite their desire for a very expensive tunnel in West Seattle).
Why is the alternative buses in BAT lanes? They can’t run 40 footers in a Red Lane? And very much “yes”, the hybrids will be MUCH slower than ETB’s.
@Tom — You seem to very confused about this project. The buses will run in the center lanes. This allows them to avoid turning cars. With the buses running in the middle of the street, you need bus stops there as well. This means you have doors on the left side, as well as the right.
The only other way to have center running buses is if they cross over, and run in the opposite direction as traffic. That has all sorts of issues (one of the big ones being safety). The only safe, feasible approach is to use buses with doors on both sides.
As for the your claim that this will make the buses a lot slower, please show your work. I am tired of doing the math when it comes to ridiculous claims like this. So go ahead, measure the distance, estimate the delay, and come back with the numbers. (Do it for each direction.) Then tell us why it is better that buses be delayed by traffic instead of moving slower up a hill.
For the real “Things to do at every Link stop” article, I think this is the link they meant: https://seattle.curbed.com/maps/link-light-rail-stops-things-to-do
(It links to Shane’s article from 2016, which was worth re-reading anyway)
Zach’s Shaner’s article, rather…
All this talk about great food near Othello Station and no mention of Pho My Chau? Better pho than the overhyped Ba Bar by a longshot.
Portland has a similar problem to Denver. We’re lucky our downtown tunnel was built decades ago, if Link ran on the surface downtown it would be 10x less useful.
I thought it interesting that the author of the Portland article didn’t mention Seattle. Our system DT is far superior to their DT system, and being just up I-5 from Portland it is an obvious comparison. It I guess it was too much for a Portlander to admit that Seattle got something right and they got it wrong.
But MAX was designed in different period, and nobody can really blame the original designers for getting it wrong. And the goal back then was to get coverage – an expensive downtown tunnel probably would have killed the project before the first foot of track got laid.
I also think the author over emphasized suburb to suburb travel. DT will still be the primary destination on the line, so maybe more than 3 stations are warranted. It they really need a tunnel, and they need to get off the Steel Bridge.
The think the below quote from Max article sums it up for me. I think Seattle has the reverse situation.
” It’s really easy to get around downtown on transit, from anywhere to one of the three stations that this minimal version would offer. It’s really hard to get across the region, and every station we add to this project moves us back toward not solving that problem — not just by making the line slower but also by making it more expensive. “
daaa…correction: “I think”
Portland will have the best of both worlds by the time Seattle figures out 3rd Ave, Madison BRT, CCC, Hyperloop, Gondola, Monorail extension, Duck mover and etc.
TriMet bet the farm on MAX during the same period that Metro Transit decided on building the DSTT. Both cities needed a dedicated transit way looking forward from the late 1980’s. Portland invested in the rail they could afford with federal highway funds at the time (along with a bus mall) which was surface running through the downtown core. TriMet almost went broke building MAX – leveraging concessions from employees and reducing bus service during the same economic downturns that Seattle lived though. Seattle process had delayed rail here for decades – even with federal money. We got a tunnel through downtown for our efforts which paid off handsomely when we finally did get around to building regional rail. MAX has done nicely adding transit capacity to Portland that busses alone could not have supplied. But surface running has its limits.
Nothing wrong with a little transit competition over the long term between friendly cities.
The Portland-Seattle rivalry can never be understated. Whether it’s Brooks-Nike, Weinhard-Raineer, Sounders-Timbers or Blazers – (former) Sonics it has always been fun to follow. There one-upmanship in transit is just one more way to continue the spirit.
@Les — Do you really find it hard to get around downtown Seattle? We have buses on just about every street but First. There are buses that go up the hill (on just about every street). There are buses that stretch into Lower Queen Anne and South Lake Union. Is the coverage, speed or frequency of Portland’s downtown set of buses and trains really any better?
It is hard to see how Portland will “have the best of both worlds” given their current situation with DT MAX. They are basically where Seattle was 35 years ago. They are only beginning to start to study putting putting MAX in a tunnel, whereas 25 years ago ST had already been formed, funded, and given the mandate to do exactly that with Link.
And ST has already been tasked with building a second tunnel through DT, which has been voter approved and fully funded. We will have two tunnels through DT before Portland even approves construction of their first.
But I will give you that Portland is better with SC than Seattle. They get it, it we are still a bit handicapped by our legacy as a bus-Transit only sort of town. We are slowly breaking that mindset with Link, but it will take awhile.
@Ross — Yes! Portland’s downtown is much easier. I’ve lived in both towns and it’s not even close.
@Lazarus “It is hard to see how Portland will “have the best of both worlds” given their current situation with DT MAX”
I tend to think now that the Southwest line is settled there will be a new emphasis on the tunnel and it will certainly be here before 2035. They started their studies over a year ago, and with the new transportation tax what else do they have to spend their money. Sure, there is I-5 Rose and CRC but they’ve been socking the money away for 2-3 years already now. It wouldn’t surprise if they don’t put out a grant request sometime in 2020.
Oops on the double negative.
Their studies are nascent at best. They might get a grant to continue the study, but they are a long, long way from any decision.
And even though this would benefit the burbs handsomely, they will be the ones fighting it.
Meanwhile Link will pass MAX in ridership sometime in the 2021 to 2023 timeframe. After that it will be all playing catch-up for Portland.
“Meanwhile Link will pass MAX in ridership sometime in the 2021 to 2023 timeframe. After that it will be all playing catch-up for Portland.”
Hell yea, they better. Portland doesn’t have a burb the size of a Bellevue. And Federal Way, Lynnwood, Redmond, West Seattle and Northgate are no minor additions. Seattle area is a lot bigger and denser than Portland. Even if MAX were to annex Vancouver I still think Seattle wins out.
“Their studies are nascent at best. They might get a grant to continue the study, but they are a long, long way from any decision.”
I first heard about it in 2017 during my last contract in Portland so MAX has been thinking about it at least since then. I could see them jumping into the final EIR elements by 2022, kind of where ST is now with WS and Ballard. I could see financing by 2025 and construction commencing no later than 2028.
“And even though this would benefit the burbs handsomely, they will be the ones fighting it. ”
No fricken way! If they do it right the burbs will be the biggest proponents. If you’ve ever ridden the Hillsborough line during peak you’ll know how popular the red and blue lines are and how crowded they are as well. These people would die for a performance boost. And adding the SW line is only going to make downtown congestion worse.
I’ll wage a weeks supply of Dutch Bros coffee that Portland finishes there tunnel before Seattle does.
@Les — You are just making baseless claims. You can’t even cite an example. I really don’t know why you have trouble getting around downtown Seattle by transit. There are buses on just about every street. It really isn’t complicated. I never check a schedule or a map — I just take the first bus headed that direction.
Seattle transit commute share is 20%. In Portland it is 12%. Yet somehow folks think Portland has a better transit system.
Just to be clear, this is pretty pathetic, either way. This is *commute share*, not share of trips. That is even worse (for both cities). Both cities have a weak system, it is just that Portland’s is weaker.
Oh, and cities with better systems still rely heavily on buses. There are very few cities that have higher subway ridership than bus ridership (and we will never be one).
Yes, people think Portland has a better transportation system than Seattle, and for one very good reason – Portland has more rail transportation than Seattle! People appreciate quality, and the perceived quality of a ride on Portland’s rail system is much higher than the perceived quality of a ride on Seattle’s bus system. It’s just the way it is, quality sells.
And, yes, most city’s have a predominately bus oriented transit system, but that fact is essentially meaningless. The Feds and the States have spent the better part of the last 60 years pushing a transportation system that is roads, roads and little more than roads. Buses fit into that narrative, rail does not. So the fact that buses are so prevalent today is really a result of social engineering and not of economics or effectiveness.
“People appreciate quality, and the perceived quality of a ride on Portland’s rail system is much higher than the perceived quality of a ride on Seattle’s bus system.”
Define “appreciate”? Because I can’t see that appreciation in Portland’s transit ridership numbers.
@Dan As I stated below (alignment got awry.)
Portland doesn’t have bodies of water on both sides that constrain development growth making it much harder to concentrate ridership like Seattle can. And given its straddling of a river like it does serving these less dense neighborhoods is even more difficult and requires many more less efficient routes. Portland’s entire system is only subsidizing at about $1.00/ride. What is, Seattle at $4 these days? I would assume more frequent and better service, and hence more riders.
“With 7,962 people per square mile in 2014, Seattle leapfrogged Baltimore into the No. 10 spot among the 50 most populous cities in the country”
“Portland currently has a population density of 4,740 people per square mile.”
It’s like the old Mac vs Windows 3.1 argument. It is much easier to move around the Portland downtown area to find your connecting ride home. It’s not the transport home, it’s the downtown movability experience and its “user friendliness” of that experience. And like I said before, with a new tunnel, the speed through the downtown becomes a mute point.
I think that Portland is way overdue for a realistic tunnel discussion. The time is takes to go from the Lloyd Center area to Pioneer Place is excruciating. It not only costs riders time, but it costs drivers time too; even if it doesn’t attract a single rider, the time savings will be a huge benefit both in operating cost and rider travel time. Finally, it really enhances the throughput capacity of the system since waiting for pedestrians Downtown goes away for routes in the tunnel.
I think the time savings getting to the Airport from the likes of Beaverton and Hillsborough alone will make it more than worth it.
@Ross — “You are just making baseless claims.”
I can’t think of a better basis than personal experience.
“Seattle transit commute share is 20%. In Portland it is 12%. Yet somehow folks think Portland has a better transit system. ”
You’re taking it way out of perspective as usual. I’m talking about the downtown experience and its easy accesses. Not the fringes.
Portland doesn’t have bodies of water on both sides that constrain development growth making it much harder to concentrate ridership like Seattle can. And given its straddling of a river like it does serving these less dense neighborhoods is even more difficult and requires many more less efficient routes. Portland’s entire system is only subsidizing at about $1.00/ride. What, Seattle at $4 these days?
“With 7,962 people per square mile in 2014, Seattle leapfrogged Baltimore into the No. 10 spot among the 50 most populous cities in the country”
“Portland currently has a population density of 4,740 people per square mile.”
Again living in the area tells the whole story, one need not be a rocket scientist or have a bus fetish to see this.
“You can’t even cite an example. I really don’t know why you have trouble getting around downtown Seattle by transit. ”
The question is not whether I can get around downtown Seattle, the question is it easy and conducive to getting around. Hell no on this one big buddy.
“There are buses on just about every street. It really isn’t complicated. I never check a schedule or a map — I just take the first bus headed that direction.”
All I can say is you deserve a meddle!
[trimet.org] — subsidy reference
ie, metal :) I shouldn’t be doing this so early
ay, medal. It’s a good thing I gave up my gig with the Times.
There are multiple scales to consider. My criteria is how much of a city’s jobs and activities and essential errands can I get to on the train network. And how does its speed/frequency compare to the great subway cities with grade-separated trains and 5-minute frequency.
Let’s look at a timeline:
1968 & 1970: Forward Thrust fails to get a supermajority. It would have had tunnels and multiple lines within the area of Ballard-LakeCity-Overlake-Renton-WhiteCenter.
1978: TriMet approves MAX, replacing a Banfield Freeway proposal to Gresham.
1986: MAX downtown-Gresham. Off-peak frequency: 15 minutes, sometimes 30 minutes on Sunday. With some stations in open fields for growth. Downtown routing takes a slow 20 minutes, which people curse at.
1990: DSTT opens. Selected bus routes to all quarters of the county move into it.
1996: Link approved.
1998: Hillsboro extension. (Hillsboro-Gresham service.) Frequency at Gateway: 7.5 minutes.
Again with some stations in open fields.
2001-2009: MAX red, yellow, green lines. (Hillsboro-Gresham, Beaverton-airport, north Interstate-south downtown, Clackamas-south downtown.) Frequency at Gateway: 5 minutes. Several streetcar extensions and double-tracking. (Portland streetcars: 2001 & 2012. Seattle streetcars: 2007 & 2016.)
2009: Link initial segment. (Westlake-SeaTac) Frequency: 10 minutes.
2015: MAX orange line. (Above plus Milwaukie-downtown.)
2016: U-Link and Angle Lake extensions. (UW-Angle Lake)
2021: Northgate Link. (Northgate-Angle Lake) Frequency: 10 minutes.
2023-2024: Lynnwood, Federal Way, Redmond Link. (Northgate-FW, Northgate-Redmond.) Frequency: 5 minutes north of Intl Dist, 10 minutes south of it.
So people in Portland could go to the eastern burbs since the late 80s every 15 minutes, to the western burbs since the late 90s, and to three other areas since the 2000s. But it’s slow downtown and doesn’t serve the eastside inner city (Hawthorne, Powell, Stark, and Burnside streets).
Meanwhile in Seattle, nobody could take a reasonable train until 2009. (The streetcars are unreasonable, as slow as walking because of their frequency/speed.) And even then the only high-density areas it served were across downtown (the same DSTT). Only in 2016 did it serve two more high-density areas. But it’s faster and has more all-day frequency. And in the mid-2020s it will finally serve more higher-density areas and bus-truncation opportunities.
But I had to ride infrequent, unreliable buses for forty-five years before then. And even if it hadn’t covered all the area ST2 will, it could have changed development patterns by incentivizing growth where it was.
So Portlanders were better off with several lines to somewhere, but it was hobbled by infrequency and slow speed compared to an ideal network. At least Link gets closer to an ideal network even if it’s taking decades to get there.
But the overall coverage isn’t the issue I’m addressing. It’s more like a Mac vs Windows 3.1 argument. It is much easier to move around the Portland downtown area to find your connecting ride home. It’s not the transport home, it’s the downtown movability experience and its “user friendliness” of that experience. And like I said before, with a new tunnel, the congestion through the town becomes a mute point.
A few comments, 1) the new 250 use NE 12th which bypasses the hospitals. Granted it’s not a super long walk from 12th to Overlake (except the first thing you get to is the north parking garage) but it’s a long haul down to Kaiser Permanent (aka Group Health). This seems even more dubious when you consider Wilburton Station will also be bypassed. 2) Service to Lake Washington college gets worse. No longer is there a one seat ride from DT Kirkland. People coming from almost everywhere have a multi-seat ride with tenuous tranfers. The college has major expansion plans in the works and making bad service horrible is a step in the wrong direction. 3) One of the areas that looses all service is Lake Washington HS. The old 238 was very popular, especially in the AM with students living in DT Kirkland.
I didn’t notice that the 250 is moving from 10th to 12th. Why, I’m not sure. I don’t recall 10th as being particular congested, and 10th seems better positioned, not only for the hospital, but also the future Link station behind the whole foods. If the route is ultimately going to be moved back to 10th when East Link opens, I don’t see what is gained by moving it to 12th just for 3 years, when it’s already on 10th to begin with.
As to the 238 – it’s a milk run that runs a very circuitous route – having that as the only way to get to Bothell, or the 236 as the only way to get to Woodinville, is a complete joke. You can’t ride it in any direction more than a mile or two without being forced into some sort of detour you don’t want to do.
Lake Washington High School is not that far away from the 250 on 85th, or the 245 on 70th. Or, just walk up the hill from downtown Kirkland and take the 80th St. pedestrian bridge. If you want to get closer, the solution is yellow school buses scheduled to match the school schedule, not buses that run all day, 7 days/week.
I didn’t notice that the 250 is moving from 10th to 12th. Why, I’m not sure. I don’t recall 10th as being particular congested, and 10th seems better positioned, not only for the hospital, but also the future Link station
Add to that there is on going construction on 12th where they are planning to “Y” in Spring Blvd. I don’t know what the final traffic pattern is for this intersection but 5 way intersections never work well and there’s likely to be lane closures and snarled traffic up to the time link opens.
As to the 238 – it’s a milk run that runs a very circuitous route – having that as the only way to get to Bothell, or the 236 as the only way to get to Woodinville, is a complete joke.
I’m assuming you mean the only way to get from Kirkland to Woodinville. It is unfortunate that the 236 is the “fastest” way but that’s because both Woodinville and DT Kirkland suck when it comes to transfers. In the case of DT Kirkland that’s because it’s just plain out of the way. And that’s because it landed where it did when travel by boat was the only practical way to get there. Heck, even the RR back the early 20th century didn’t think it worth the deviation. Bothell likewise is, or has been up until recently, not very dense and not on the way to/from anywhere unless it’s Seattle on SR522. And, like Woodinville and Kirkland a decent transfer point on I-405 exists. I think that’s the key to these bergs getting marginally acceptable transit to destinations other than DT Seattle or Bellevue.
You can’t ride it  in any direction more than a mile or two without being forced into some sort of detour you don’t want to do.
Agreed, but it was designed as a coverage route, not an end to end destination route. And realistically it’s not got anything to point to it being a major trip generator. When I’ve ridden the 236 it’s been because it turned out to be the best option to get from the vicinity of Kirkland Courthouse to Kirkland TC. It provides the only transit option to people on 116th and connects with transit on 124th Ave and to Juanita Beach. Not a hugely dense area but not much is on the eastside and it’s growing fast at both the Juanita and Totem Lake ends. Lk WA HS, yeah they could run a yellow bus. More likely it will just be students/parents driving. Northshore district probably should kick in money to Metro the way Bellevue does to operate this service. FWIW I have seen students hike it from NE 85th; I guess teach them early that transit sucks and you’d better get a good job and be able to afford to drive!
Lk WA college is a different matter and the restructure makes this last mile or 3 much worse. The 225 is another milk run but instead of at least connecting Kirkland TC with the college in goes between a P&R and Microsoft. Looks like more of a replacement for the 244 which (I hope) is a Microsoft subsidized commuter bus.
Ultimately, these issues come down to the classic ridership vs. coverage tradeoff. The previous network was focused a lot on coverage – maximizing the percentage of homes and businesses that have at least some bus going extremely close to them – that bus might run once an hour, not go in the direction you want to go, and have some circuitous routing, but at least it gets you in and out of your home, with very little walking.
The new networks seeks to boost frequency and hours of operation, as well as provide direct connections between more combinations of activity centers, in exchange for a few people in very low-density areas, having to walk a bit further for bus service.
In the case of of severing the Lake Washington College->downtown Kirkland connection, I think the logic basically goes like this. There is already a bus between downtown Kirkland and Totem Lake that takes 124th Ave. The actual ridership the 238 gets from Lake Washington College and the homes along 132nd St. is probably very tiny, so running yet another bus from downtown Kirkland to Totem Lake, just to take 132nd instead of 124th is redundant. Meanwhile, the largest employer in the area (Microsoft) is only a few miles away, but getting there by bus from the north Rose Hill area is downright terrible. You have to either transfer twice, or ride in the opposite direction to Kirkland Transit Center to catch the 245.
The change is basically saying that instead of having the 132nd Ave. bus provide a route that’s mostly redundant with the 124th Ave. bus, have the 132nd St. bus go somewhere different (e.g. Microsoft). That way, anyone living between 124th and 132nd can choose to walk to 124th Ave. if downtown Kirkland is their destination, or walk to 132nd Ave. if Microsoft is their destination. This route also works well with the general principle of grids – since the Kenmore->Totem Lake route is already running northwest-southeast, it makes sense to have that route continue running southeast to Microsoft, so staying on the bus all the through produces a somewhat legible route that actually gets you somewhere useful. On the other hand, if the bus just turned around back to Kirkland TC, then riding the bus all the way from Finn Hill to DT Kirkland just becomes a giant detour – a one-seat ride that is actually slower than a two-seat ride option, which both pieces are moving in straight lines.
Going back to the issue of Lake Washington Institute of Technology – if coming from downtown Kirkland, you can always take the 124th Ave. bus and walk half a mile. Worst case, the added time for this extra walk would be about 10 minutes. But, the change isn’t all bad, as the student body is likely coming from all over the region, and they don’t all live in downtown Kirkland. Some students might find the new 132 Ave. bus a straight shot, while the old 132nd Ave. bus would have imposed transfers and detours, that would make the bus journey completely impractical. If ridership over there is tiny under the current system, it’s hard to see it getting much worse under the new system.
Similarly, with respect to the loss of service on 116th – most of the apartments on 116th are over by Juanita Drive – they’ll still have service on the 255, which is getting more frequent. Those further east will have to walk to either Juanita Drive, 124th St., or 124th Ave. for service, but the walk isn’t that far, the number of homes there is small, and the number of current bus riders there, miniscule.
In general, I like the focus of the new network on connecting the largest activity centers (e.g. DT Kirkland, Totem Lake, DT Bothell, DT Woodinville, Microsoft, Seattle) to each other in direct, straight lines, rather than a mess of spaghetti, trying to maximize coverage, at the expense of frequency and directness.
Are there things I would like to see better? Yes. The frequency of the new Kirkland->Bothell and Kirkland->Woodinville route doesn’t really improve over the sphaghetti that came before, but it’s an untested route, so it makes sense to prioritize the provide Kirkland->Seattle corridor for frequent service. The new 239 also looks like it’s going to spend too much time getting through Totem Lake, with the detours into Totem Lake Transit Center and Kingsgate P&R. A route that just stays on the street could serve the same destinations without wasting riders’ time. Having a local bus detour into a P&R provides zero value, since nobody with a car is going to drive to a park and ride to ride such a bus – anyone who’s beginning their trip in a car is only going to switch to a bus if it’s a long-distance express to Seattle, or something similar. The more important connection – to/from Totem Lake Freeway Station – could be made with a stop at 120th Ave./128th St., with a walking distance of just 0.2 flat miles. This is short enough to be a reasonable tradeoff for having a bus that runs in a straight line.
you can always take the 124th Ave. bus and walk half a mile.
If 124th and 132nd were on a standard grid and it was level your 10 min estimate might be close. The actual situation requires that you walk up a steep hill from Slater (which the bus was already moved from to 124th. So more like a 20 minute walk. There’s also a fair amount of apartment complexes up that hill. I get the coverage vs ridership dilemma but when you remove all transit from an area that has had if for years I think that’s unacceptable. Transit has helped shape development and then pulled the rug out. FWIW, enrollment at LW Inst. is 6,500+faculty and staff. And it’s growing. I think it deserves better, certainly not worse, transit connections.
“Transit has helped shape development and then pulled the rug out.”
The coverage routes shaped development? It seems more like they put development without considering transit at all because everyone was expected to drive. When the tech center, driving, and apartments went in, housing and driving were affordable so there’s some excuse, but it was inefficient and broke down completely when housing and driving became unaffordable.
drivinghigh school, and apartments
People have made decisions on where to live, where to work and where to open businesses. The area we’re talking about near the college is on the boarder of the Totem Lake development area. Kirkland moved the court house out there. If there’s really any truth in the region trying to reduce drive alone trips and carbon foot print you wouldn’t make transit to a destination with 7k students and staff (and growing) worse. Keep changing the rules and people will just give up on considering transit accessibility as a factor.
Bottom line, I don’t see any of these changes I’ve pointed to as being a big net benefit in cost recovery ratio. It’s more just resetting the chess pieces mid game. Even if it’s marginally better the status quo should have some weight in making these decisions. It seems though that the people making the decisions don’t ride the bus and don’t even have a strong interest in understanding the people riding the bus on the routes they are uprooting.
The things to do link appears to point to a different article.
By the time we get our e-scooters, there may not be any companies left.
Lyft and Uber may be gone too. So far nobody has come up with a way to actually turn a profit with any of these sharing paradigms. And as recent attempts to raise prices have shown there is very little elasticity in either market. Bike share (and scooter share) have yet to address the litter problem that makes them unpopular with vast majority of the population that has no interest in the product. And they’ve managed to piss off not only the “no bikes on roads” crowd but the pedestrian community as well. Lyft and Uber are not without opposition too from taxi companies and people who believe they increase congestion. Plus they are battling recent negative press regarding safety. The idea that autonomous vehicles will save them seems far fetched.
Can someone explain to me why Kent can block a proposed Metro facility with a zoning change, but Bellevue, who didn’t want the East Link OMF, were powerless stop Sound Transit?
There’s far less flexibility on locating a train facility than there is with rubber tired vehicles. ST also managed to paint the picture that the Lynnwood location was not viable because it wouldn’t be available in the time frame required. A bit of a red herring I think since they are trucking the pre-purchased vehicles to OMF East.
It’s not the last word on Kent. Bellevue ultimately allowed it for the greater good Link would bring. ST can override the cities with eminent domain; it just really really doesn’t want to. South King County has two or three other potential sites. The Eastside had no other sites unless you know of one in Redmond, and South Bellevue was out because of the wetlands. Saying Lynnwood should have taken it so East King wouldn’t have to is “Not in my backyard”. Maybe there were good Snohomish or logistical reasons for a north base instead, but it’s unbecoming of the Eastside to be the ones pushing for it.
“ST can override the cities with eminent domain; it just really really doesn’t want to.”
That’s not correct. Sound Transit is categorized as a special purpose district and as such is on the same footing as first-class cities when it comes to its eminent domain authority.
See RCW 81.112.080.
Bellevue didn’t allow it “for the greater good”. You crack me up. The city council got caught napping and lost. From a planning stand point there is a huge “forever” loss of acres of mixed use development adjacent to a high valued area that is rapidly developing. Density in the Spring District will far exceed the old bus barn property everyone thought the OMF would be located on. OTOH, the properties north and south of the OMF-E have been snapped up by luxury car dealerships. Either way, Bellevue loses out on major tax revenue which was what is always comes down to.
Also, the Spring District was still industrial and throwaway when these decisions were made, and it had had a bus base for decades. So the decision to locate the base there was based on Bel-Red-is rather than Bel-Red-will-be. The Kent site is a Dick’s and Lowe’s across the street from the southwest’s largest college. It wasn’t a long-decaying industrial area when the decision was/is made.
The same logic explains 145th and Northgate station locations and P&Rs. The main long-term reason those sites were chosen is that’s where the existing P&Rs were and the land was publicly owned. And the initial plan was drawn up in the 1990s when the assumption was that most people would drive to the station. And they’re near state/federal highways, and transit should always be on highways because that’s how trains get around, right? Oh wait, that’s how express buses get around. Not trains or local feeder buses.
So the decision to locate the base there was based on Bel-Red-is rather than Bel-Red-will-be. The Kent site is a Dick’s and Lowe’s across the street from the southwest’s largest college.
Across the street being I-5 and over a mile. What’s the construction crane count viewed from Dicks Drive in Kent vs UW’s GIX campus in the Spring District?
Again, where else in East King should the base have been?
“the properties north and south of the OMF-E have been snapped up by luxury car dealerships”
And on NE 8th Street the luxury car dealerships have recently renovated with another low-density design, even though it’s supposedly within the upzone area. Train bases are an intrinsic part of having a train line. Car dealerships are a symptom of what’s wrong and what we’re trying to fix. And they won’t even make it a multistory or mixed-use car dealership.
Shockingly, it turns out that getting transit priority for streetcars is very much like getting transit priority for buses: a long, hard, gradual slog, with many setbacks on the way. I’m sure that all the people who advocated for building streetcars everywhere, and shat on the idea of improving buses, based on the notion that streetcars are sexier and “higher status” etc etc, are totally revising their opinions and priorities in the light of this experience.
Transit priority in urban environments is harder:
– Pedestrian crossing needs should t be ignored. That adds many seconds of wait time and it’s appropriate. This alone is a big reason why our streetcars seem to wait so long at intersections.
– Stop spacing is closer and it’s hard to factor in how long doors should be open at each stop. Systems can’t really anticipate needs beyond the next stop.
– Important buses and streetcars are often on cross-streets where waits are the longest. Who gets priority?
– Wide boulevards with many left-turn phases are not as common. When there is just two phases, priority is not as valuable because waits won’t be that long.
The best ways to really speed up things are to remove stops, and narrow the transit streets or discourage pedestrians from crossing those streets. Those aren’t easy trade-offs to make.
If push comes to shove, pedestrian mobility should trump streetcar mobility. An urban center cannot function if people on foot are unable to cross the street.
I agree asdf2. The thing about pedestrians is that it’s dangerous to not give enough seconds to get across the street. A signal system can’t leave a pedestrian stranded, and any busy urban core is going to have lots of pedestrians.
With Seattle’s small blocks (often less than 240 feet between intersecting street sidewalks), it’s a bigger challenge than in many other cities.
Those aren’t easy trade-offs to make.
Right. But they are exactly the same for buses as they are for streetcars. The streetcars don’t have any special political advantage, despite claims to the contrary. That is the point that Bruce made.
It’s not the pedestrian crossings. Trolleybuses and diesel buses have the same crossings. The annoying thing is how the streetcar is slower than buses on the same street. The two biggest things that irk me are (1) the FHS’s long waits at turns at 14th & Jackson, 14th & Yesler, and Broadway & Yesler, (2) the SLUS’s stopping at every block between Westlake and Denny. The stations are every other block, and it also stops at every intersection in between. Buses and cars don’t do that.
@Mike, the SLU streetcar makes the exact same stops as the 40 and C between Denny and Westlake, so I fail to see how that’s the issue.
If anything, the 40 and C need a stop between 9th and Westlake and Belltown. They are putting one westbound at 4th and Lenora, but that manages to miss the giant cluster of Amazon towers around 6th and 7th.
Have you ridden the streetcar between Olive and Denny? It stops at a light every single intersection along the way. Both before and after the Westlake transit lanes were installed.
@Mike: that has nothing to do with the streetcar being a streetcar. The issue there is that Westlake south of Denny is all crappy six-way intersections with long cycle times, and the station configuration at Westlake also requires a weird signal configuration. The C and 40 avoid this by getting off of Westlake ASAP after Denny.
To ease congestion in that area, they really should have had the CCC divert the SLU streetcar down Blanchard and Lenora (the current C and 40 pathways) and turn Westlake south of Lenora into a pedestrian mall. New York City’s pedestrianization of Broadway shows that you can actually speed up traffic by removing strange roads cutting up the grid.
The one thing I will say about the streetcars is that they seem to have much slower acceleration and deceleration than the buses.
Well said, Bruce.
The 545 stop in Capitol Hill is plenty busy. What are all those people supposed to do now?
(If it involves an inconvenient transfer, congrats on shrinking major employer transit share bit by bit.)
I’m not too thrilled with metro’s decision to do a double-truncation of 255. Kingsgate P&R fills up on a regular basis. Starting 255 at Kingsgate P&R will force people to drive from Brickyard P&R to an already crowded Kingsgate P&R.
Agreed, the double truncation makes Brickyard much less attractive than before. My family takes the 255 from Downtown to Brickyard at least once a month for one reason or another. Having the safety net of the 255 made transit an attractive and viable alternative to driving. Now that the 255 will run to neither Downtown nor Brickyard, transit has turned into a headache that needs to be planned around and my family intends to start driving.
Honestly metro could have had 239 go to Bellevue TC. People are more likely to want to go to DT Bellevue than DT Kirkland.
Are there any reasons given for the changes to the northeast side restructure? From what I can tell, for example, the new 225 changed significantly.
On a different note, I can’t seem to find route maps. For example, when I download the 225 pdf, it just lists the frequency of the bus, not the route.
RossB, I am talking about 255, the route that currently connects Brickyard P&R to Downtown Seattle. Metro is considering a double-truncation of that route so that it would go from Totem Lake to UW. I am not talking about 225.
I’m torn about the 255 amputation. Personally, I’ve used it more to get the U district than DT. Some times of day Link would be faster to DT but a lot more of a hassle; mainly because the existing connection SUCKS which is something they appear to be addressing. So, for me I’d say it’s a positive. However, everyone how visits form out of town wants to go DT. I’ve always said go to the P&R and take the bus. I’m not convinced this will be a winner vs just drive and pay for parking. That said, these are off peak trips so I’m not sure how it relates to the P&R commuter to DT.
For the other end I’m surprised anyone at Brickyard would board a 255 and take the scenic tour of Juanita to get to DT Seattle. So that end seems to be a no brainier. What Metro really needs to do is make the “short cut” from Kirkland TC to Totem Lake a part of the route. Veteran drivers would welcome the company but other drivers would shut you out trying to take this hop north in the morning. It’s going to be a big deal as Totem Lake becomes a job center (even more than Evergreen Medical).
@Jeff — I wasn’t responding to what you said. This was a brand new thread. I never mentioned you, and have no idea why you thought this thread was about something you said. I am referring to the new 225, which is a brand new bus. But the bus route is changed significantly from the original proposal. In contrast, the proposed changes to the 255 look identical to what was proposed back in October.
That’s the difference. With the 255, they are doing exactly what they said they were going to do. With the 225, it appears like they are changing it significantly (it won’t go by Saint Edwards). Yet there is no explanation for the change. That is why I asked the question.
Now Bernie is confused as well. I guess I will try again.
King County approves North Eastside restructure with small changes from the original concept.
Is there going to be a followup about these changes? I specifically want to know what changes they made from the original proposal and why. From what I can tell, the only change was to the 225. This is a new bus route (not to be confused with the existing 255). The original proposal had the bus running by Saint Edwards, which is where Bastyr University is. It looks like the “small change” isn’t any better. If anything, it looks worse. I don’t see any apartments along the new route, while the original proposal went by the apartment/condo complex by Juanita Drive (across from Saint Edwards).
The 225 appears to be a Microsoft commuter route; an all day 244. The fact that it replaces the 238 as the only bus serving LWIT is a sham. I guess someone making decisions thinks that Totem Lake TC is a thing.
The 255 restructure is a winner for some a loser for others. And the numbers are big. It’s one of the few eastside Metro routes that really just needed significantly more service hours and to be split into two (or more) routes.
Now Bernie is confused as well.
That’s not news ;-)
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