Incoming New Flyer Industries XDE60 of King County Metro in the Rain

48 Replies to “News roundup: fix the humans”

  1. Man that is a lot of parking in South Snohomish County. Densification is less valuable when you offset it with more cars and more cost.

    1. In just a handful of new buildings. I think we severely underestimate the negative impact of large bulky boring buildings compared to more numerous ones on the quality of our cities.

      But also: this is the first time I’ve ever heard of a “boutique parking garage!” 😂

    2. The alternative is more 1970s-style houses and cul-de-sacs, which aren’t scalable and leave no housing options for non-millionaires. Bad density is better than no density.

      One of the Lynnwood photos looks like a classic tower in the park. I couldn’t believe it; have we learned nothing? Nobody will use those empty lawns around the building; they’re too small, too open, and too close to traffic. Either put a real courtyard in or plant some bioswale plants or shrubs or trees.

      1. I think Lynwood is building “towers-in-park” explicitly so they can replace some of that surface parking with more density after Link is open.

        It’s hard to build no parking before the good transit actually exists. Spring District is having an issue where apartments that are open now are having parking problems because East Link doesn’t yet exist to induce car-free renters. So in Lynnwood, they truly need that surface parking until there is a Link station within walking distance, at which point they can re-develop for further density.

      2. I was referring to the green open space around the buildings, not the parking lots.

      3. “The alternative is more 1970s-style houses and cul-de-sacs, …”

        That’s just not the case. You’re ignoring all the other forms of residential and mixed use zoning. For example, in my area in SW SnoCo (just north of Edmonds) most of the redevelopment has been rowhouses/townhomes and not stand-alone SF residences. To that end, there have been a fair amount of infill-related FLUM changes made during the last two SnoCo Comp Plan updates that have impacted county parcels in the SW UGA. As a result, developers are maximizing what they can build on what’s become fairly expensive land, i.e., NOT stand-alone SF structures.

      4. The apartments being built in the Spring District all have whopping big parking garages built in. “Parking is $150 A Month (No Free Spaces)”. Easy access to 405 is one of their big advertising points. Office space being built boasts 3 parking spaces for every 1,000 sqft.

    3. “Densification is less valuable when you offset it with more cars and more cost.”

      This is the suburbs. It’s not worse than what Snohomish County has been building in the past decade. Ride the Green Line down the Bothell-Everett Highway or look at the apartments around Ash Way Station and along 164th. The new construction won’t make things worse; it just fails to make them much better. It’s one thing to have a huge breadbox with garage in Seattle where it fails to extend the walkable neighborhood around it or nearby; it’s another thing to have almost nothing walkable in the county and to fail to be the first.

      Ultimately we need developers and politicians who think like pedestrians and transit riders, and realize what a person needs to go a week without driving.

    1. Still not fixed as of 4:30pm, which is too bad as it’s the one “news roundup” item that I was most interested in reading.

    1. The Edmonds chamber of commerce and retailers would like to think so. I have my doubts because it’s still in an isolated bowl on the edge with half a walkshed.

      1. It’s vibrant & walkable once you are there. Size wise, I’d say it’s comparable to Columbia City. Not a regional destination for staples, but a nice place for a evening out. I’ve walked to it from the Sounder station – it’s a good walk uphill, but doable.

    2. In the nicer months of the years, I would say, yes, yes it is. I live just north of there in the Meadowdale gap area (unincorporated SnoCo) and we go down there fairly often during this time. If one includes the waterfront area/beach as well as the ferry dock in the definition of Edmond’s downtown, which seems reasonable to me, then again, yes, it is a destination in SW SnoCo for many.

      1. The main road to the ferry swings to the south of downtown, so people may not be seeing all the little stores and restaurants that make up the actual downtown. In that respect it has more than downtown Everett.

      2. If they use their GPS, they will see the main part of town.

        They’re constantly being turned around at the ferry dock to go back to the end of the line on SR-104.

  2. I read the Vox article yesterday and was surprised: I’d never heard of this new experiment. Then I realized I still didn’t know what the changes were so I read it again and it never seemed to say. I guess because the changes are so abstract: not new social services or better management, but simply information on which neighborhoods had better kid outcomes. I thought everybody knew that because parents are always trying to move to neighborhoods with the best schools, but apparently some people don’t.

    1. It’s an interesting study but at the end of the day there are two big implementation problems.

      1. The families were successful because basically a case worker did all the leg work and found them homes. Is that scalable? Maybe it is.

      2. The article basically said that North Seattle has socio-economic advantages and had opportunity and South Seattle did not have opportunity. Ok, but again, this isn’t scalable. If we move everyone from South to North to help their prospects, is North still a high opportunity place? What makes a place low opportunity is the socio-economic status of the people not the buildings. Ultimately it’s the people and while moving some to a “better” area works to a point, what about all the people left behind. This is kind of a pick a few winners scenario, rather than helping the poorest in a general sense.

    2. I thought everybody knew that because parents are always trying to move to neighborhoods with the best schools, but apparently some people don’t.

      In a city like Seattle, you can find great schools in districts that have higher level of poverty. But this won’t be reflected on the test scores, since test scores are largely based on income. In other words, a rich kid going to a poor neighborhood in Seattle will do just fine. But a poor kid, surrounded by lots of other poor kids, may have trouble getting help when they need it.

      With relatively good schools, a parent may decide that switching neighborhoods is simply not worth the effort. As the article pointed out, you have the extra cost. But you also have the loss of social support. Someone who moves from Rainier Valley to Magnolia will likely find it more difficult to get cheap child care (from friends and family). Even the stress of switching their church or grocery store is a disincentive to move.

      If we move everyone from South to North to help their prospects, is North still a high opportunity place?

      This is about integration (or desegregation). You don’t need to move everyone. You simply need to move enough people to integrate each area. While historically such efforts were based on race, and focused on schools, I applaud this effort. It makes way more sense to desegregate based on income, and focus on moving people, as that is more likely to lead to real integration.

      Worth noting is that integrated schools are better both for those that are poor, and well as those that are rich. Historically, sending black kids to white schools was seen as a way to help the former, while studies suggest it helps both.

  3. Where have the ridership reports gone? I don’t recall seeing one from you guys for a long time. It used to be a monthly staple

    1. Sound Transit stopped publishing monthly ridership reports after January 2019, though last month they did put out a year-to-date report that contained monthly ridership numbers through May.

      Metro seems to have stopped publishing their ridership numbers since December 2018.

      This is disappointing- transportation is a major issue here. While it has been 3 years since the last major transit changes so I wouldn’t expect dramatic changes in ridership until Northgate Link opens in about 2 years, publishing the ridership data seems a low bar to clear.

      1. I agree wholeheartedly with your comments above. I used to read the ST monthly and quarterly ridership reports each time they were published and then earlier this year the agency for some odd reason felt the need to reinvent the wheel. Adding additional metrics is fine of course, as long as there really is some meaningful purpose behind producing such analytics, i.e., it’s not just busy work for a few staff members and management will actually garner some insights from the endeavor. However, this shouldn’t come at the expense of foregoing the basic ridership information that the public has come to expect being reported every month. Low bar indeed.

      2. Ya, Metro is horrible with publishing their ridership data. They have it, because the Feds require it, but they sure don’t seem to want to show it. And it seems like the more ST ridership grows, the less Metro tells us.

        Per ST, yes, I miss the monthly reports to. ST has the data, because they put some of it in the “Year-to-Date System Performance” doc, but they don’t release it (at least externally).

        I do like the quarterly reports though in that they have additional data in them. The per station boarding info is nice.

      3. And it seems like the more ST ridership grows, the less Metro tells us.

        I don’t know if the data exists anywhere to determine this, but I suspect that to the extent that Metro ridership is growing slower than Link ridership, Uber/Lyft is more responsible than Link.

        Link has cannibalized some portion of bus trips- if you’re traveling between NE Seattle and to/from/through central Seattle off-peak, your trip now almost certainly involves Link, whereas four years ago, many of those trips exclusively involved buses. Many of those trips still involve buses though, unless the origin and destination are both within walking distance of a Link station.

        My impression from interacting with friends/acquaintances is that there’s a substantial amount of trips that are made by Uber/Lyft that would have taken place by bus 10-15 years ago (though for some trips, people might have driven, taken a taxi, carpooled, or not made them at all). I think this is a function of three factors: 1) Link still covers a small portion of the city 2) The large gaps between stations from Westlake to UW 3) Relatively high bus headways during nights and weekends.

        The first 2 factors force trips to require more bus/Link transfers, an d the third factor increases the time cost of transfers. Together, they can make transit trips significantly longer than driving, and some people choose to take Uber/Lyft instead.

      4. @PhillipG,

        Ya, I can’t figure out any reason why Metro would be so reluctant to publicly release their ridership data.

        Obviously the Feds have it, so why not the public? It can’t be that bad, so why not be open and accountable?

      5. Ya, I can’t figure out any reason why Metro would be so reluctant to publicly release their ridership data.

        Um, laziness? Seriously, I would be willing to bet that Metro ridership is still growing. Link (and ST Express) is simply too small to make much of a dent. Besides, at this point, much of the ridership of Link is fed by buses. They are both going up together.

        I think agencies are simply not interested in spending the time, and putting together a report. Sound Transit’s annual reports have become less informative. It is bad enough that they don’t list every trip pair (like BART) but now they don’t even list aggregate directional data. It used to be, you could see how people took the train south from say, Rainier Beach towards SeaTac. Now — when this data is more important than ever — they just don’t list it. How many people are riding between the UW and Capitol Hill? We may never know (even though ST has the data).

      6. @rossb,

        ST publishes a wealth of ridership data. They publish total ridership, they publish ridership by mode, they publish ridership by weekday/Saturday/Sunday, they publish boardings by station, and they publish all the performance metrics right down to how many complaints they get per service hour.

        But Metro? Just about nothing. Nobody would complain about Metro if they were as open and transparent as ST, but they simply aren’t.

        I don’t know how Metro gets away with it, and I certainly don’t know why it doesn’t impact their funding levels. Because at some point it should.

    1. Too bad our geniuses at the Monorail authority didn’t think up such an option. It would come in handy when the NHL starts up at the refurbished Key Arena and hordes of fans are trying to get through the turnstiles to the train for the 7pm puck drop.

      1. Heh, wait until everyone learns you’ll probably need to stand in line to scan your ORCA on the monorail.

    2. Seems like a gimmick. It doesn’t appear like it is any better than an ORCA card. Either way you still have to tap it on the machine. I suppose it is handy for adolescents — one less thing to lose.

  4. re Grist. Martin, STB covered the service.

    the pony race cherry picked a relatively obscure destination only served by Route 50. Seward Park is on the edge of the area. The SE Seattle Link stations have pretty good bus connections. Consider: Beacon Hill has routes 36, 60, and 107; the first has 10-minute headway; the other two have 15-minute headway in the peaks; Mt. Baker has routes 7, 8, 9, and 106; the first has 10-minute headway; the other two have 15-minute headway; Columbia City has routes 106 and 50; Othello has routes 36, 50, and 106; and, Rainier Beach has routes 9, 106, and 107. if one was headed to Seward Park, and did not have real time information on Route 50, it might make sense to transfer from Othello Link, as the counterclockwise trip would begin there and be on time, while the eastbound trips begin at Alki and may be late.

    The Grist race would be best done in both directions. this one was outbound only. the inbound trip would have the shorter wait, an average of only three minutes, as Link has six-minute headway in the peaks.

    as with the STB piece, the opportunity cost is the main issue; what else could be done with the Seattle TBD service funds used to subsidize Via trips and what benefits could they provide. at least, there will be a study of this project. what will happen to network productivity?

    walking is a pretty good last mile solution or half-mile solution given the service grid. the South Graham Street station is coming as well. The Seattle TBD may be buying more off-peak service in fall 2019.

    1. Certainly the Graham Street Station will be closer to Seward Park but it still appears to be about 1.5 miles from the intersection at MLK to the park entrance..

    2. The Rainier Valley does have bus routes, but all of them except one (the 50) only run north/south. To reach areas east of Rainier (by a distance greater than one is willing walk), the 50 and Via are the only options.

      The 50, itself, has 30-minute headway, and is coming from SODO, where traffic is unpredictable, and, if the bus has bad luck, it might get stuck waiting for a long freight train for 20 minutes. This makes choosing a particular Link trip to leave downtown to line up with a particular #50 departure difficult.

      Via is designed to address this, although it’s unclear whether the money funding it is doing a better job at actually moving people than simply adding more service to the #50. (The 50 should also not be going through SODO, and the C-line needs to be fixed so that downtown->West Seattle commuters won’t care about the loss of the Link->50 option, but that’s a topic for another post).

      I haven’t ridden Via yet, but I have ridden UberPool a few times, and one thing I’ve come to realize is that plain-old transit buses are actually very efficient at getting lots of passengers on and off the bus quickly. Uber and Lyft appear faster when they don’t have to stop, but the moment they do, a single passenger stop on Uber/Lyft can easily add as much time as 10 stops on a transit bus, picking up 15-20 people. Even just one-two intermediate passenger stops can be enough to make Uber/Lyft slower than the bus, provided that there’s a direct, frequent bus route available to use as an alternative. That’s why I mostly use it only when the bus alternative either has transfers or long waits (due to poor frequency).

      1. Yes, could be improved. Rainier and MLK are diagonal. Routes 36, 106, and 107 have east-west segments.

    3. “the pony race cherry picked a relatively obscure destination only served by Route 50.”

      That was is goal.

      It was a national video and it didn’t have time to get into all the details and caveats. I think the biggest omission was not saying, “Results vary widely depending on the moment and location.” Via was faster for this trip, but that doesn’t mean it’s always faster for this trip pair. You’d need to take the average of a lot of trips to see which mode is usually faster. I’m not sure how much people’s impression would be, “Via is usually fastest for this trip pair” or “Via will have similar results for other trip pairs”. It all depends on exactly how long the bus transfer wait is and the amount of downtown traffic.

      “what else could be done with the Seattle TBD service funds used to subsidize Via trips”

      It said it’s funded by a federal grant as a one-year experiment. If it is getting TBD funds, it’s still worthwhile as an experiment. It will answer a lot of public questions about the viability of such a service, which Metro itself has been raising for a few years, how to best serve the lowest-density areas. The money can’t go to more bus service right now because Metro’s bases are full and another base won’t open until the 2020s. I wish the TBD would just save the money until then, but Durkan is already spending it on other things like free passes for public-school students and a few lucky subsidized-housing residents.

      The most jarring point of the video was San Francisco. I didn’t realize it until they showed a trip superimposed on the map, but San Francisco is the least appropriate place for Uber. The entire city is only a few miles across and has more frequent transit coverage than any other city its size (except maybe DC; New York and Chicago are much bigger). So why the hell does it have Uber except that affluent tekkies want a private social-network IoT transportation alternative? The city better not be giving it below-market parking concessions or thinking of exempting it from congestion charges.

      The most missed opportunity was at the end of the video where the woman said Via exists because the transit network is so skeletal in that area, but in the future hopefully transit will be robust enough that cities won’t need Via. OK, but how do you get from here to there? Shouldn’t there be a video talking about what adequate bus service would be, what’s the tipping point where people stop driving dramatically,, how to navigate the route-alignment tradeoffs, how much it would cost, and how cost-effective it would be, Maybe they will do a video on that, but for now it’s a missing piece for those who watch the video.

        Mike Lindblom provided the funding break down in this piece.

        “The one-year project requires a $3.25 million taxpayer subsidy, Metro said. Seattle is spending $2.7 million from its $60 car-tab fee for transit, while the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is contributing $350,000, Sound Transit $100,000 and Metro $100,000.”

        He continued: “Success in these partnerships isn’t guaranteed. A new Metro shuttle called Ride 2 at Eastgate changed contractors when operator Ford Chariot shut down, while in West Seattle the lightly used Ride 2 vans, run by a nonprofit, overlap with Metro’s own minibuses on Routes 773 and 775.”

        the last paragraph sounds like hopeful nonsense from an Uber foamer: ““Via is a seven-person vehicle that has these algorithms that very efficiently pick up people as if it’s a transit line, but it’s not on a set route, and discharges people. So it’s always got three, four, five, six, seven people in it. The technology is just so good, it’s kind of like Uber on steroids,” he said.”

        for intending riders, the deviations to pick up subsequent riders will make the trip longer. Via will have deadhead trips as well.

  5. Note that the vast majority of European cities were built to be car free (built before cars), and cars were just retrofitted in. On the other hand, most American cities were mostly built around the car, making it much harder to lift them out.

  6. What is the plan for Northgate Mall? I understand it will be a few stories and have an NHL practice rink and some housing, but what will the retal be? Penney’s and Macy’s have closed and Nordstrom’s just announced it’s closing. I’m not sure which of those are corporate downsizing and which are for the renovation. Will any large department stores be coming back? Or will it be all small boutique shops?

    Northgate was always the mall with the best transit access, and I go there or to Northgate North a few times a year for things not available in central Seattle or the U-District area. So it would be a shame to lose that. We don’t need another Forever 21 or Cologne R Us or Subway Pete’s.

    1. Actually it says Nordstrom did close. So there are no department stores at Northgate now?

      1. I think Bed Bath and Beyond (I think that is the name) is still open. Outside entrance though.

    2. When the remodeling is done there will be about 400,000 square feet of retail down from around 1 million square feet. Before all the closures there were 125 retails including restaurants and other food places and when finished it will be about 40 retails. That will include stores that will stay open during the remodeling plus new ones. There will also be additional restaurants and other food places. I have heard that they have signed a new anchor store but I don’t know if that is accurate as no one wants to say who that may be.

      Virginia Mason has announced that they will have a walk in medical facility at Northgate as part of the hockey rinks but it will also be open to the public.

      There will 3 practice rinks build with seating at each between 500 and 1,000 people but the rinks will also be used by local amateur teams and community skating.

      Other new building will included apartments, an office building and a hotel. Part of the roof over the mall will be removed and they will put in gardens and fountains and some ways it will end up more like the University Village.

  7. I’m kinda amazed at the lack of thought that went into shutting down ReachNow. IMHO they hurt the Car2Go brand. If I regularly used the free floating car sharing services, I’d be prioritizing LimePods right now, since the upper management has shown they really don’t give a crud about properly managing operations.

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