Incoming New Flyer Industries XDE60 of King County Metro in the Rain
Avgeek Joe/Flickr

41 Replies to “News roundup: attention-grabbing”

  1. With respect to ReachNow, this is basically buying out the competition to allow for higher prices, pure and simple. It is not a coincidence, that the service with slightly lower rates (ReachNow) was the one that went away, while the service with higher rates (Car2Go) was the one that remained.

    That said, when Car2Go and ReachNow first started up, I found myself using the service at least a couple times a month for quick hops across town, when the bus didn’t work out for whatever reason. More recently, I have found myself largely using Uber and Lyft for those purposes, leaving the cars only for longer trips – usually all day trips that involve traveling beyond the coverage area of Uber and Lyft.

    Now, after moving to the east side, Car2Go and ReachNow have become largely irrelevant to me, due to their home area abruptly ending at the Seattle city limit. The ability of Uber and Lyft to seamlessly carry people across arbitrary municipal boundaries, on the other hand, has been very useful.

    1. Pretty much the same for me, I used to take Car2Go somewhat frequently but it’s excruciating to circle around looking for a parking spot when you’re paying by the minute. Taking a Lyft usually ends up being around the same price and a shared Lyft is almost always going to be cheaper. Not having to stress about parking makes it worth it.

      The daily rates of Car2Go aren’t great either. You can rent a car by the day from Enterprise for much cheaper but it is more of a hassle.

      1. Car2go can now rent for 30 minutes instead of by the minute– which is nice when I have to go from Cap Hill to Ballard (it takes shorter than that, but I don’t have to drive like I’m Jason Bourne escaping the bad guys)

    2. This isn’t about rates, and car2go still has to compete with rideshare so I wouldn’t worry about an increase. ReachNow had a buggy, bloated app (at least on Android) and an undersized fleet that made it unreliable to locate a vehicle when needed. Good riddance.

      car2go made a mistake retiring the easy-to-park smart fortwo vehicles, but at least the system works.

  2. Last year the Sound Transit board approved a $3.2 billion budget for the Northgate — Lynnwood light rail extension project. Most of it is in the N. King subarea, but most of the benefits will be for the residents and businesses of the Snohomish subarea. How did were those projected expenses allocated — 50/50 between those subareas?

    1. I believe North King is responsible for the trackage from Northgate to 185th Street Station and the three stations in King County, 130th, 147th and 185th. Snohomish County is responsible for everything north of there.

      It’s essentially the same as Pierce being responsible for the trackway south of South Federal Way and South King everything to the north and the station. I have seen allusions to some contention between Pierce County and Sound Transit concerning the schedule for building the south maintenance facility if it’s to be one of the two sites to the south of the station.

      1. Right – generally, station cost assigned by location and ROW/Track costs divided by mileage broken down by county line. Others costs like vehicles are split based upon formula, usually some mix of anticipated ridership & vehicle mileage, both of which skew towards the higher ridership North King stations.

      2. Not the county line, the last station benefiting the inner subarea. 185th is clearly a major benefit to Shoreline and North King because it’s the closest to the center of town. South Federal Way may or may not be a signficant benefit to North King; I could see it going either way. Judkins Park was originally going to be an East King responsibility because North King wouldn’t have built that segment on its own, but later ST reassigned it to North King.

  3. If the state is really serious about HSR the first thing I would do is immediately enact an airline fee for Portland and Vancouver routes. It doesn’t have to be large, say $10-20.00. Done immediately then after 10 years at $20.00 there would be a 1 billion starter fund. If Portland and Vancouver do the same that would be, maybe not a billion, but close to it. Given a plan for additional funding, this would be great seed money and would allow construction to commence by 2030.

  4. I find it a little disappointing that the new 255 at midday still will run every 15 minutes and not every 10. That means no increase in frequency during the times that going straight to downtown saved a lot of time, and on top of that, the annoyance of a transfer between 10 and 15 minute service.

    1. I don’t think going straight to downtown ever saves a of time, with the exception of Husky games and, maybe, when the Montlake bridge opens. If both routes have no traffic, I’ve found going straight downtown saves about 5 minutes at best, depending on how long you have to wait for the train. If you get lucky and have the train coming right away, it’s something of a wash. That’s if you’re going to 5th/Pine. If you’re headed to the south end of downtown, the train becomes a clear win, since it gets through downtown so much more quickly than the bus.

      The out-of-sync connection between a 10-minute train and a 15-minute bus is not ideal, but at the end of the day the worst the difference can be is just 5 minutes. Already, I’ve experimented with taking Uber from downtown Kirkland to UW Station and riding Link downtown, and – surprise – it takes pretty much the exact same amount of time as riding the 255 all the way does today – that’s on a weekend with zero traffic on I-5.

      What I am excited about is three things:
      1) Having a ride home to Kirkland from the U-district outside the limited hours of the 540, without excessive waits and/or detours.
      2) 15-minute frequency evenings and weekends.
      3) No longer being stuck in I-5 traffic heading into downtown during the weekday afternoon rush hour.

      1. In the early U-Link days, STB had a post where they showed the results of this side-by-side comparison between the 545 and 542 + Link (since the 542 ran all day and during peak weekdays). They did find that it saved time during rush hour, and cost a little bit of time during midday (as one might expect). In practice, this will take slightly less time since the stops are being moved closer to the station (yay!). But the longer travel time wasn’t really my point there, it was mainly the out of sync frequency transfers, because effectively the whole-trip headways aren’t 15-15-15,-15, but 10-20-10-20.

        In discussion on some of RossB’s restructure ideas, I even brought up the idea that a network of 20 minute and 10 minute frequency buses would be better than predominantly 15 minute buses, even though many of these won’t be “frequent” buses by the (somewhat arbitrary) 15 minute definition.

      2. I can definitely see that argument. Keeping the bus frequency in sync with the train frequency makes the wait time predictable, no matter which bus you catch.

        But, I can also see counter-arguments. Not everybody who rides the 255 is going downtown. Some are going to the u district, or catching u district buses to somewhere else in North Seattle. Some are riding it within Kirkland. 15 minute frequency may make for better bus connections at Kirkland Transit Center to/from connecting routes that run every 30 minutes. If you think a connection between a 10 minute route and a 15 minute route is bad, a connection between a 20 minute route and a 30 minute route is much worse.

        It’s also not clear, if the bus did run every 20 minutes, what the optimal connection time for Link should be, since it’s going to be different for different people. For instance, some people can walk on the eacalators, others can’t. Some need to stop at the TVM’s to reload their Orca card, others don’t.

        Ideally, of course, the bus would simply run every 10 minutes, to match Link, while reducing wait times everywhere, but if the money to so it isn’t there, it isn’t there.

      3. The 255 has serious platooning problems already. No bus for 30 minutes and then you get three nose to tail. At least trying to balance them out is far preferable.

        Your wait for a transfer to Link is totally dependent on Link. It doesn’t matter what the schedule says for the 255 traffic and load will determine when it gets there. Functionally you have to factor in worst case if you need to get somewhere on time. So if you’re taking an eastside bus you’ve got 5-10 minutes you need to be at your stop before the bus arrives. And that might be 15 (or more) minutes earlier than you wanted. Then count on a minimum of 15 minutes to catch the next 255. Then factor in 15 minutes to walk from the bus to when your on the train. The transfer time already approaches the drive alone time.

        For people going DT it’s a wash, assuming you don’t have a mobility issue now that the bus tunnel is no longer accepting buses. Even when East Link is running the loss of the bus tunnel and the old 255 is a loss for N Bellevue/S Kirkland connections to DT. OTOH, it’s win if your destination is the UW or points north. It’s a loser if you’re going to the airport since you no longer can transfer at the same platform DT.

        When a second tunnel gets built DT it should definitely be dual mode (and paid for with the ST pot of gold). The dual mode system worked well and a tunnel designed from the get go with all electric battery buses could be designed to work even better.

      4. I’m not quite following some of what you’re saying. Yes, the 255 can get delayed by traffic, and often gets delayed at bus stops in Kirkland, even when there no traffic. Yes, do you have to allow time for unexpected happenings to get somewhere on time. But, the transfer to Link is not really the issue – especially during peak hours where Link runs every 6 minutes, and, unlike a bus, can be depended on to actually come every 6 minutes, rather than getting bunched.

        If anything, if I really need to be downtown at a specific time, and cannot afford to be late, I would generally prefer the Link transfer vs. the alternative of fighting downtown and I-5 traffic on the bus. With the Link transfer, the worst-case delay, from Montlake to Westlake, is bounded by the time it takes to walk down the escalators, plus the headway of the Link trains. Now, compare with the bus that goes directly downtown. Under worst-case traffic conditions, the bus will sit on I-5 for 20 minutes, then Stewart St. will be so clogged, it will be faster to get off at Stewart/Denny and walk the rest of the way on foot. Absent a major Link service disruption (e.g. that day when everyone was forced to wait in line for the elevators), the worst case for the Link transfer is much less than that.

        “It’s a loser if you’re going to the airport since you no longer can transfer at the same platform DT.”

        We already lost the same-platform transfer several months ago when the 255 left the tunnel. But, even ignoring that, if you’re got a plane to catch, avoiding traffic on I-5 and downtown streets matters more than avoiding a 1-minute elevator ride. For airport-bound passengers, whether the 255 is truncated or not, you’re going to have to transfer to Link anyway, and there’s a good chance you’ll end up at least one train earlier if you do it at Husky Stadium.

        Also worth mentioning – the connection from Link to the *northbound* 255, under the present downtown routing, leaves a lot to be desired, especially if you want to make the connection at Westlake so as to get through as much of downtown as possible on the faster train, rather than on the slower bus. Staying on the train a couple more stops and making that same connection at UW Station will be much easier.

      5. The once the red and blue lines are both operational (East Link opens) in 2023, there will be a train in each direction every 5 minutes until 10 pm with one every 4 minutes during peak times (one every 3 minutes ultimately per ST3).

        The frequency will be so good that people won’t mind going from bus to train, and with a little planning, going from train to bus won’t be so bad either.

        Heck, the time getting out of the station may prove to be the biggest frustration.

      6. Interesting you bring up the airport case. The tunnel has a really nice same platform transfer. But with buses not in the tunnel, the move to UW is (depending on the time) between significantly better or a wash. In fact, it probably makes nearly every transfer, even some that are now cumbersome 3-seat rides (e.g. West Seattle). The big loser is probably a transfer to WB 8 at Denny Way. Biggest winner is definitely NE Seattle, on the frequent bus grid. Another big winner is Capitol Hill/CD on the 48. And a smaller winner would be Capitol Hill on the 49.

        For reliability, finally ending the route at Totem Lake and starting it at UW should make matters much better. And about frequency, there is a good point about connecting buses. The 255 is surrounded by 15 and 30 minute buses, so running every 20 minutes would be senseless.

      7. How far north in the Triangle does the underground parking garage go?

        Sinking an elevator shaft to the mezzanine level directly from the southbound Montlake bus stop and pedestrian bridge could solve a lot of issues.

      8. To be clear, I believe truncating the 255 at UW is the “right” thing to do. But it’s still a loss for riders vs the bus tunnel. I’d also point out the loss of the bus tunnel degrades the 550. Link has made transit worse for eastside to DT Seattle trips.

        Regarding the 255 people make it sound like you just get off at the old flyer stop and walk onto a train. In fact you have a long slog through Montlake traffic that can be as bad as the fight trying to go DT. Then you’ve got an ugly street to platform trek; especially for anyone with mobility issues. Train headways are the least important factor. The return trip you have the bus headway to contend with. It’s pretty hard to force a transfer and claim it’s an improvement.

      9. This morning, I visited REI on the 255 – a rare occasion where that Stewart/Denny stop is really nice, compared to alternatives. Unfortunately, it only works one way – going back, you have to walk much further.

        Both REI’s Seattle and Bellevue stores are surrounded by a surprising lack of transit, given their proximity to each city’s respective downtown.

  5. The water taxi operation is a creative solution to 405 congestion. That said, it feels like an expensive gimmick. If the 405 HOT lanes with the STRide service get implemented and speeds can be achieved, that service would seem to offer speeds and frequencies to make the ferry less effective than a shuttle service.

    Perhaps a RapidRide from Rainier Beach to Renton Landing/ Southport to 405 STRide is in order. Think of it as the southern equivalent of 522 STRide. From there, it maybe could even extend north to Factoria and Eastgate (and end at a Bellevue Link station) or east to East Renton or Issaquah.

    1. As originally designed it won’t compete with 405 but with bridge or south loop routes to S. Lk Onion. They are obviously designing this with the business traveler in mind given that the upper deck will be meeting space rather than additional seating. I can also see this being very attractive to foreign tour groups. This looks a lot like the type of public/private partnerships that are the model in Japan. Given that a boat is a hole in the water in which to throw money; Argosy has run a viable business for years.

      I also think it’s cool that a private company has chosen to have the vessels built by All American Marine in Bellingham. As far as I know they are under no restriction or even incentive to have the boats even built in the USA. They could have gone on the world wide market and purchased used boats for a fraction of the cost. The fact they are going POSH (Port Out Starboard Home) is a sign they believe this has a viable future. If not… well, not on my dime :-)

  6. Why the tech bias? Why Renton Water Taxis to tech hubs? Why not Renton to employment hubs? And why Renton? Techies live in Bellevue or Kirkland 10 to 1 over Renton.

    And I just came up with a great idea. Uber Boats. It’s Uber, but using boats on Lake Washington.

    Sam. Renton Expert. Inventor of Uber Boats.

    1. It’s the Southport office development that’s pushing it as a marketing strategy to make its location more attractive. SLU is one of Seattle’s employment hubs. A water taxi obviously has to dock on the water. SLU is still close to downtown. To get to the downtown waterfront it would have to go through the Locks and double its distance and cost. The Eastside has been thinking about its own ferries to Seattle, but obvously Renton and Southport are not going to be the ones pushing for that.

    2. yeah.. this Southport development has a ton of office space they have to lease out.

      I am pretty sure the water taxi idea is so that people can live in Seattle or Kirkland and commute TO Southport via boat – thusly avoiding I-5 or 405. Anything going out from Southport would be a bonus.

      Maybe they think their parking garage will have a bunch of empty spaces that they can charge people to park at who ride the boat. There sure isn’t a lot of people who live within walking distance, nor is it well served by a bus.

      1. Considering that boats cost a boatload of money to operate, there is no way this ferry can last without massive subsidies.

      2. According to the company website, 1800+ Apartments in one mile + 3 Hotels an easy walk from the campus. Capacity is ~300 round trips a day with the initially planned routes. I can see them coming close to break even with business traffic from the hotels. With close airport access this should be a popular spot with business travelers. A connection to Link at UW would make this a very attractive to convention center visitors.

      3. A walk from The Landing to Southport, in my opinion is not all that easy.

        If they could put in a walkway to make it a straight shot it would be somewhat better, but I don’t think they can as there is a Boeing fence in the way. Also Park Ave is a very wide street to cross (6 or 7 lanes at the intersection, including turn lanes if I remember right), and the road takes a bit of a swing to the east before swinging back toward Southport.

        If I’ve wanted to go to Gene Coulon and not found parking there, parking at the Landing never seems like an attractive option.

        Just my opinion. Others may disagree.

    1. That’s an amazing statement. They should build elevated always for the pedestrians. For the *pedestrians*, so they don’t get hit by my car.

  7. 1. Leave it to the Canadians to talk some sense. If we can’t fully find local transit and HSR, we should only be finding local transit.

    2. If the legislature doesn’t fix the car tab formula so it is based on actual car value instead of some arbitrary pseudo-value, I will be voting for the $30 fee. We can easily make up the loss from switching the formula, but we probably won’t be able to survive the $30 fee. So which do they want? They have misled the public and lost our trust with this issue and they need to make it right. I want rail more than almost anyone, but we can’t allow the legislature to continue to think they can get away with lying to or at the very least deliberately deceiving the public.

    1. “If the legislature doesn’t fix the car tab formula so it is based on actual car value instead of some arbitrary pseudo-value, I will be voting for the $30 fee.”

      Just as long as you don’t ever think of yourself as a transit advocate.

      PS: The only thing the legislature is “getting away with” is kicking the can down the road by hemming and hawing over they actually want to change how ST calculates MVET. I’m unsure where you’ve detected any deliberate deception here.

      1. Pretty simple: telling people the tax will be levied against the value of their car, when in fact it is levied against any arbitrary number they made up. That’s the deception. This is easy to fix and they haven’t done it. Get it done now. If they then want to follow up with a tax increase so the revenue collected is the same, I’ll vote for it.

        I absolutely am a transit advocate and always have been, but I’m also a person that believes doing something wrong to achieve a goal I agree with is unacceptable. The ends, no matter how much I want them, do not justify the means.

    2. “I think the legislature needs to be taught a lesson, so I will vote to kneecap Sound Transit.”

      1. Absolutely. The legislature needs to be held to an extremely high standard of conduct, and just because we agree with the goal doesn’t mean we should ignore inappropriate behavior.

        If they want to follow up a month after the kneecapping with an honest tax, I will vote for it.

      2. You’re ignoring the fact that, for example, Kelley Blue Book values and their ilk *can’t* be used, because private measures of value can’t be bonded against. That’s why the depreciation tables exist in the first place. Are they perfect? No, but what you want will upend how funds can be raised and applied to projects, massively lengthening how long it takes to get transit projects built. You’re playing with fire and don’t care who gets burned so long as it saves a few extra bucks on car tabs. Quite frankly it’s irresponsible.

        If you want to give the legislature a black eye, fine, they deserve it many times over, but don’t screw over transit authorities to do so.

        You KNOW Eyman and his backers want to destroy transit so they can keep their anachronistic car bubble alive a few more years, damn the consequences.

      3. If the state set up an infrastructure bank the interest would go to our future infrastructure needs and we wouldn’t need bonds.

  8. Ness – I didn’t know they couldn’t use KBB, but it makes sense. However, they can use something that approximates it (and reality), and I believe they actually use such a depreciation table for other purposes. It should be used here as well.

    I would argue they are playing with fire and don’t care who gets burned. I don’t care about reducing car tabs at all. Like I said, if they wanted to use a true vehicle value and then raise the car tab rate to compensate I would be for it.

    You are right about Tim Eyman and his backers, of course, but the legislature could easily fix this quickly. They had the chance and didn’t do it. They don’t care about being accountable. I’m tired of slimy politicians.

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