33 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Brent Toderian on sustainable mobility”

  1. I flew through Seatac today and had a couple of observations about Sound Transit’s inability to communicate effectively with riders.

    I wanted to know if Link ran every 10 or 15 minutes on Sundays. Fairly standard information. But the ST website is so poorly organized it took me a while to find out. Schedule information isn’t in the schedule page, it’s in the station page. Because of course it is.

    Recently both down escalators at Seatac station were broken. Why are there no stairs? Or if there are stairs, why are there no signs pointing to them? Did ST learn nothing from the UW station fiasco?

    1. Both down escalators being broken (and blocked off) is a rather frequent occurrence at Seatac Station. The elevator from the overpass to street level (the one currently being rebuilt) has the worst service record of any single elevator in the system and is being rebuilt by the same company that failed to maintain it in the first place.

      But it isn’t in Seattle, so instead all you’ll hear about here is Husky Stadium escalator issues.

      1. I hear a message about that elevator every time I’m in any Link station. And it is relevant to me, as I sometimes take Link to the 180 or vice versa.

    2. Thanks for your observations!

      ST doesn’t seem to give the least amount of concern about getting people on and off a Link platform. At least there are four escalators (two up and two down) at Seatac! There is only one for each platform at Mt Baker. There are only two for each platform at Westlake (a station projected to have 30,000 to 40,000 boardings x 2 for getting off trains each weekday) only headed up. The only finding from the UW debacle was “we need open stairs” and not “we need more escalators at each station”. Escalators even got eliminated for Lynnwood Link stations to save money — without asking for public comment or asking local cities to kick in to keep them.

      It’s truly shameful to the attractiveness of using Link. I don’t think the Board and senior leadership get it — even now. I can only hope their arthritic family members curse them every day.

      1. Seatac does have lots of escalators, yes. But they also have a habit of having zero working down escalators, forcing everyone who disembarks to use the elevators. It is a rather severe public safety hazard. ST doesn’t care.

        At Westlake and Husky Stadium, ST is more likely to keep broken escalators as stairs due to the number of boardings, at least until the day they’re scheduled to be fixed. In the south end of the line, they’ll block them off the moment they break down.

        There’s a rather stark difference in ST behavior once you get to Mount Baker and points south (with the exception of TIBS, due mainly to it being a massive P&R).

      2. What stairs or escalators are there between Mt. Baker and TIBS? With all the complaining that the line is at grade, it’s pretty impossible to have access issues when you don’t have to go up or down.

      3. Breadbaker, there’s more to maintenance than just elevators and escalators. You’ll find more cigarette butts at TIBS than at the north 9 stations combined (or immediately outside of them). Enforcement of basic transit law is also an issue at south end stations.

    3. Some in government believe since not everyone can use stairs, not one should be able to. They say that stairs are anti-disabled and discriminatory by nature, and should not be installed in public places.

      1. No one in government thinks that. Come on, Sam. That’s not the way the ADA works. You simply need an alternative, like an elevator. It is very common for cities to build brand new subway stations with nothing more than stairs and an elevator. ST decided that escalators are better (which they are) but they didn’t want to also have stairs (to save money). It really is the worst of both worlds. The cheapest option would be to just have stairs, while the premium option would be to have both. They tried to split the difference, but failed miserably.

    4. There *are* stairs at Seatac/Airport station — they are located at the north end of the platform behind the elevator. (The ones on the south side of the platform are not open to the public.)

      They drop down to the mezzanine, where you can either take the path the airport or cross the bridge and take more stairs down to street level on International Blvd.

      Agreed that there should be better signage.

      1. I figured there were stairs at one or both of the far ends of Seatac Station. The point is that Seatac Station is treated very differently from Westlake and Husky Stadium Stations. Actions and conditions that would be unacceptable from Beacon Hill and points north are daily reality from Mount Baker and points south.

    5. Any reason why ST can’t just open up the emergency stairs at My. Baker like they did at the UW station?

      My theory is that the problem rests with ST’s insistence that their obnoxious announcements be heard from every inch of their property that’s open to the public, and the cost of hiring the electrician to do the sound wiring is too much, given the passenger volume. That’s my theory. I could be wrong.

    1. One tidbit from watching the Tour de France coverage this year was that in Belgium when cycletracks exist cyclists are required by law to use them (i.e. stay out of the traffic lanes). A search of European law shows this to be the case in many countries. It’s not the case in the UK where London has a similar battle raging as in NYC.

      US law changed twenty or so years ago from a blanket ban on bikes using freeways to allowing them in some areas where no reasonable alternative exists (e.g. from North Bend to Snoqualmie Summit). It seems reasonable to ban cyclists from streets where alternatives exist and/or cycling is inherently creating a significant hazard.

      1. We should ban cars from streets where they are inherently creating a significant hazard.

        100 people have been seriously injured or died from cars crashes so far this year. How many people were injured when hit by a cyclist?

  2. I’ve been saving this up for a while, but I would really appreciate it if the transit advocacy community really stopped being a circular firing squad and more of a community. No, seriously.

    When one of us runs for office like Heidi Wills and has delivered on transit improvements, support that person.
    When a candidate listens to us and supports density within half a mile of a transit center, be nice about that candidate instead of calling them “poor” or spreading lies about her!
    When one of us runs for higher office but hasn’t delivered completely, listen and then help change the situation.
    When one of us is in office and not addressing an important issue – like standing up to Alex Tsimerman or getting more density authorized near public transit or getting more transit service; address the inaction only. Don’t demean the person.

    Getting really hurt by the constant slagging of great transit advocates. We have a lot more work to do, and clear threats to undo our wins.

    There you go.

    1. Heidi Wiils is against completing the missing link on South Shilshole and she has taken money from shady people (see Strppergate). Apparently she’s more concerned with representing businesses who do not want our neighborhood to have access to Shilshole. Follow the money trail.

      Nope, not voting for her.

      1. You so missed the point and focused on the one thing you wanted to rail in on.

        Maybe some of you folks need to deal with for a savage while federated transit boards without strong pro-transit voices on them….. ;-)

  3. Ok, I have a real comment … I was talking to a real estate agent about Surrey Downs, and he said about NIMBYISM and light rail, it’s mostly age related. He said older people … baby boomers and older, tend not to like light rail next to their neighborhood, but middle aged and younger are more accepting of it and like it. Thoughts on this observation? Is he right?

    1. Sam, when do you not have real comments.

      Scottsdale Az is a classic example of old farts not wanting light rail. The younger crowds of neighboring Tempe and Mesa were the complete opposite, all to willing to embrace it. I saw this same senior opposition in the fight against East Link back in the day.

    2. The most common complaint from Surrey Downs was they didn’t want the neighborhood to change from when they bought their house because they chose the house because of the neighborhood ambiance and it’s not fair to change it after that. They also mentioned they were not rich, meaning they’d bought the house in the 1950s-1970s when they were inexpensive, so by definition they’re older. Younger people probably see the benefit of light rail more and are more likely to go where it goes (UW, Microsoft, airport, etc). The rising cost of housing also means they’re significantly more affluent than those who bought their houses earlier, so that may also affect their tastes. Surrey Downs was an ordinary middle-class neighborhood; now it is a location for the aristocracy.

    3. The city environment around Surrey Downs has also changed. Those who bought their house before 1990 lived in a two-story city. Bellevue Square was smaller and less upscale and didn’t have any of the posh stores around it. You got a designer sweater at the mall or you got a generic sweater at Kmart or Fred Meyer or Sears; that was it. The people who chose Surrey Downs in that era presumably preferred that two-story environment with simpler luxuries. The people who came later came to a city of highrises and new industries and only-in-New-York chic — and traffic congestion and a greater sense of the need for transit and protecting the environment. So they may not be bothered as much if Link runs in their backyard and they kind of like the idea of a station, plus they may have a greater sense of how it may increase their property values. The old-timers didn’t originally expect their property values to escalate because they didn’t back then, whereas recent purchasers know they’re a half-mile from a highrise city and the Link station will make their property values rise faster than elsewhere.

    4. I’m a baby boomer. I don’t live near a Link station, but I live line of sight from the Kent Station on Sounder. All generalizations are invalid, including that one.

  4. On the topic of 405 BRT, I’ve heard from some of the elected officials in Bothell that the latest plans include substantial changes to the stops in Bothell. I’m guessing these will be included in the next elected leadership meeting notes from ST. Specifically:

    – Canyon Park (527), 522, and Brickyard are all getting inline stations. From what I understand, funding has already been identified for these.
    – The 195th St stop is being dropped. Riders on 405 BRT going to 195th would need to transfer to the 522 BRT.

    At first glance the 522 station looks useless, but adding a 600 ft stub connector to the Sammamish River trail would make it 0.6 miles from UWB, 1.6 miles from Bothell, and 1.4 miles from Woodinville. This might end up being the best solution out of all those presented.

      1. No, my understanding is 522 BRT routing has not changed. But if you look at the map from the latest coverage (https://seattletransitblog.com/2019/05/23/woodinville-brt/) then you’ll see that (coming from Seattle), the bus will go south on 405 and then east on 522 into Woodinville. That map shows the 405 transfer at 195th.

        The new plan would be the same except that there would be an additional stop at an 522-405 interchange inline station. WSDOT has some renderings (https://www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/i405/sr-522-sr-527/home).

        Basically, you get substantial performance gains for 405 BRT (since it can now stay in ETL’s the whole way) at the loss of 195th (but which I don’t think is necessarily horrible).

        I agree on freeway stations being bad. But this might be the best solution in a bad situation. One positive here is that most traffic is on 405, which will be overhead. 522 underneath 405 is not as heavily trafficked and will be slowed substantially by these changes.

      2. I’ll take the depressed ridership with an interchange over no ridership without an interchange station. At least the new SR 522 interchange station is under the freeway, not beside it.

        Worse than a 10-minute freeway transfer is a 20-minute freeway transfer, though.

  5. I have a random question that I really think I should know the answer to but I don’t:

    In the afternoon when the Express Lanes are Northbound, the Route 41 will sometimes head to I-5 via 5th NE and sometimes head to the Northgate Way entrance. I believe 5th is the actual route, but who is making the decision as to whether the alternate route is taken? Is the alternate being taken only when there is an obvious traffic issue? Or is someone monitoring this to come up with the best way to go on any given trip? Or is the rarity of 41’s on Northgate Way only stuck in mind because I was there a couple of times?

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