South Bellevue Station (SounderBruce/Wikimedia)

This is an open thread.

63 Replies to “News roundup: problematic”

  1. Reece Martin just rode Link and made a video of the whole thing, including stations, train interior, etc:

  2. In the “vehicle value depreciation schedule” lawsuit AG Ferguson made a surprise disclosure Monday — DOL is using a schedule that is different than the one the law requires. The law requires the schedule effective in 1996 to be used, but DOL is using the 1999 “Ref. 49” schedule. Here is Ferguson’s notice to the court:
    This error by DOL has cost Sound Transit millions. Why haven’t Jay Inslee and Ferguson (and Rogoff for that matter) told DOL to immediately get into compliance with the law? The car owners who underpaid need to be surcharged next time they register so the agency can be made whole. These leaders are more “asleep at the switch” than the engineer of Amtrak 701 was.

    1. LOL. Very likely, any court would rule that’s just a scrivener’s error. The intent of the act was clearly to use the existing schedule that was used for the 0.3% MVET when ST3 was passed. No requirement for Sound Transit to further inflame the car tab issue for a very small amount of money.

      1. You don’t understand, Dan. It’s called the rule of law.

        What a statute says is NEVER a “scrivener’s error.” Put in three years of law school like I did and you’d know that.

        The 2015 transpo. bill was heavily negotiated, the changes to Sound Transit’s taxing authority were the subject of long debates and went through numerous revisions/compromises, and the legislature settled on the provision it did. The law requires use of the depreciation schedule in effect in Jan. 1996, and DOL is abusing its authority by disregarding the law and using a version the legislature did not authorize.

      2. Of course no party in that lawsuit has taken the position that DOL should comply with what the law requires in terms of using a particular valuation schedule. That issue is not before the court.

        Other people should take positions on this issue: Inslee should order his appointee Teresa Berntsen (Director of the Washington State Department of Licensing) to begin complying with the law; Rogoff should complain to her and Inslee, Ferguson should (outside of this lawsuit where he brought it up) inform her and Inslee of what the law is and how it needs to be applied correctly; every legislator in Olympia should speak out against this Inslee appointee who is disregarding the statute they adopted in 2015, etc.

        You may think DOL can pick and choose which laws it follows, but you are wrong.

      3. You should definitely recommend to Sound Transit that they adopt yet another MVET valuation schedule that is more unfair than the one which provoked the current controversy. Maybe they can tick off more drivers just in time for the Eyman vote in a few weeks. That would be an A+ move.

      4. Dan you don’t understand how this works.

        Sound Transit has no right to adopt vehicle valuation schedules for DOL to use when calculating the tax. The state legislature specifies a vehicle value depreciation schedule in a statute, then the state DOL uses that schedule to calculate and impose the tax. What valuation schedule DOL uses is completely beyond Sound Transit’s control.

        Sound Transit did not even know that DOL was using the wrong one until Monday — the briefings its lawyers have been filing for years in this “vehicle value depreciation schedule” lawsuit clearly show Sound Transit believed that DOL had been complying with the law. Now that we know the truth DOL needs to start complying with the law.

      5. “What valuation schedule DOL uses is completely beyond Sound Transit’s control.”

        Utter nonsense. If that was truly the case, then we wouldn’t be where we are today as the legislature could have simply dictated use of the (fairer) 2006 schedule in the 2015 transportation package. Sound Transit wanted to stay on the older schedule and that’s what we got (along with the agency’s disingenuous rationale for the ask).

        Dan is absolutely right on the politics, and from the perspective of this former law school grad, Ferguson’s disclosure which you’ve cited doesn’t change the underlying arguments for the plaintiffs or the respondents in this case.

      6. TLSgwm —

        1) The legislature decided which valuation schedule to include in the 2015 transp. law. You claim Sound Transit “wanted to stay on the older schedule and that’s what we got.” You’re wrong — the schedule that had been in use from 1999 to 2015 was the 1999 Referendum 49 one, and the legislature decided to depart from that and go back to the schedule effective prior to that — the one specified in the current law (the one effective in January 1996.

        2) Whether or not Dan is right on the politics is irrelevant — DOL has no right to ignore the controlling statute just because of “politics,” or because it thinks the 1999 valuation schedule is better, or for any other reason. It must comply with the statute as written and Ferguson’s note to the court Monday stated it was not doing that.

        3) I agree that the AG’s disclosure that DOL is using an unauthorized, improper valuation schedule has no bearing on the issue (which is whether the 2015 transpo. session law improperly amended a statute in violation of the constitution).

      7. TLSgwm —

        Regarding that third point: the issue in the case heard in the Supreme Court this week was whether the 2015 transp. session law improperly amended a statute. FWIW, in my opinion the answer is a resounding “no.” The transpo. session law that year specifically referred to the other statute (the valuation table effective in January 1996) and such a reference has been deemed sufficient to overcome the kind of “Article II section 37” challenge raised in this lawsuit.

      8. @aldo precipe

        #1. You’re making a straw man argument. Both depreciation schedules are OLDER than the 2006 schedule and the 2015 legislation certainly could have, and imho should have, incorporated it into the authorizing language.

        #2. “DOL has no right to ignore the controlling statute just because of “politics,” or because it thinks the 1999 valuation schedule is better, or for any other reason.” I don’t think anyone is suggesting otherwise. With that being said, the point you’re making is a very separate issue from the one currently before the court.

        #3. I guess we are in agreement on this point. Hoorah!

        Regarding your opinion on the merits of the case, you apparently have a much firmer belief that the court will decide in the state’s favor than I do. I could see this case going either way (as long as the financial impact on ST’s revenue stream is truly set aside in the bench’s thought processes, as it should be). It sort of depends on which case law the majority leans on. For example, do they run with the argument the court pursued in Washington Education Association, et al, v. The State of Washington, et al (1982), which would favor the respondent here? Or do they take up the line of argument pursued in Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587 v. The State of Washington (2000), which would favor the appellants instead.

        (Please pass the popcorn when you can.)

    2. Where’s Jay Inslee? Trying to get a Cabinet of the Interior position if the Dems win in 2020. He’s completely focused on a different Washington now.

  3. “PDX considers…eliminating stations”

    Not exactly. I read that headline and though it meant they were eliminating stations in the middle. They aren’t. The proposal is essentially to phase it so they can build the endpoints later.

    Kinda a bad headline

    1. The SW Corridor line is really shaping up to be a big waste of money. Instead of tunneling and hitting the big ridership centers directly (OHSU, Hillsdale Village, Multnomah Village), it looks like the whole line is going to surface run on SW Barbur blvd, which will move it away from these centers, slow it down, and subject the line to delays when crashes occur. They should just make it BRT at this point.

      Transit in SW Portland can only be competitive if they make it fast and frequent. This line will not be fast.

      They should spend this money to build an elevated line down SE Powell Blvd, connecting the Tillicum crossing to the I-205 line to Clackamas. This would relieve congestion on the Steel Bridge, and build the first step of a line that would head east on SE Division (east of I-205). Don’t build SW corridor until you have the money to do it properly.

      1. Nobody is going to build an El down Division, that’s a certainty. But your larger point — don’t build a Southwest Corridor line until it can be done correctly with a Marquam tunnel can be built is spot on.

      2. You don’t build it on inner division. It would run down Powell between the existing Orange Line and I-205, where it would Y into the green line. Powell still has excess ROW between 52nd and I-205, from the Mt. Hood Freeway days, so most of it could be run on the surface. This new service would run from downtown east on Powell to I-205 where it would then turn and run to Clackamas. Another line could then run from Clackamas to Gateway, or even Clackamas to PDX airport, along I-205. Eventually, a line could then be built on Division east of I-205 (plenty of ROW), and you then could have a line from downtown to Gresham via Powell and Division (a route currently planned as warmed-over BRT). This takes pressure off the steel bridge bottleneck, allowing increased Yellow line service to Vancouver, while giving some of the highest ridership segments of SE Portland a frequent MAX line, and cutting 10 minutes off the trip from Clackamas TC to downtown Portland.

      3. The part of Division (E of 205) is something like 99 through Federal Way. It’s a busy, wide highway that has a bunch of large parking areas along it.

        The “Barber Blvd Corridor” includes a bunch of stuff along I-5 that will be a really bad location. There’s just nothing there that justifies a transit line.

      4. From what I understand, the reason why they haven’t put much thought into tunneling is because not only the cost to do so but also because they haven’t done a tunneling project since the Hillsboro extension through Washington Park and are hesitant to do a similar project like that again.

        Trimet is also very conservative in terms of project costs and scope, choosing to usually go with the cheapest less expensive option or doesn’t requires to go through difficult terrain (unless they have to)

        They’d probably be able to get a tunnel through OHSU if they took a page from UBC and say “we’ll get you a tunnel to OHSU, if you help cover part of the cost with student fees or something similar”

        The question is whether Trimet would be up for such a thing

      5. When they did the West Hills tunnel they ran into Columbia River basalt where it wasn’t supposed to be that had to be taken out with traditional drill and blast methods. Nobody had used a tunneling machine in basalt before and TriMet didn’t want to be the first.

        In the past 30 years there might be more experience with less labor intensive ways of dealing with this.

  4. An interesting Metro service change tidbit: Metro is finally implementing this STB recommendation:

    It’s implementing it on weekends only, because now the 60 on its own runs every 15 minutes midday on weekdays. It doesn’t look like they’ve aligned the 60/107 schedules on weekday evenings, but it looks like they are already around 10 and 13 minutes offset, which isn’t horrible. Still welcome news. That Georgetown diversion on the 107 is much more useful when it’s part of a 15-minute headway corridor to a transfer point.

    1. The 60 narrative only mentions weekends. The 107 narrative mentions evenings. They got both, and it was clearly not an accident.

      The irony is that Harborview, through which route 60 runs, has construction going on and more congestion than usual on the streets not blocked by construction. It may work out that leaving the schedules alone would have led to 15-ish minute headway, and fixing them may end up keeping the 60/107 bunching. We shall see. But I appreciate Metro’s responsiveness to riders on this corridor that is about as busy as route 36 south of the station.

      Eventually, route 60 probably should be split at Beacon Hill Station, to isolate unreliability on the north portion from messing up headway on the south portion. But until recently, I could set my watch by the 60 — southbound at the station.

      Route 107 has been on Metro’s long-range wish-list for elimination. We’ll start getting better numbers about whether that is a wise idea outside of pre-start-bell and post-end-bell hours. During the peak school times, I think it is here to stay, eventually sans the Georgetown loop-de-loop stop.

      But since a Georgetown NIMBY group concern-trolled against siting a human services facility in the neighborhood based on (1) the purported lack of frequent transit service for the neighborhood (Um, hello, 15-minute headway on the 124!) and (2) the neighborhood’s long-standing success in keeping human service facilities (other than the 124) out of the neighborhood, maybe it is appropriate that we acknowledge hardly anyone is using that loop-de-loop to get between the Georgetown saloon district and the Renton saloon district.

      The rare Georgetowner who wants to catch route 107 can hike across the bridge. The many students who have to suffer an extra 5-10 minutes to ride around in that loop (or just hike to the stop south of the bridge) every morning and every evening should get priority. It is time to abandon the 107’s Georgetown loop-de-loop stop. Then, roll the savings into better span of service or better span of frequent service on the route.

      I say this as a beneficiary of that loop-de-loop stop since the new 15-ish minute headway saves me a few blocks in getting to South Park. But really, I can just alight at the stop closest to the bridge, walk from there, and lose maybe a couple minutes over riding around the triangle to Metro’s most confusing bus stop. Take my two-minute savings away, please! I’m not attached to it (and well, haven’t been using it, since the 60/107 have always been bunched by schedule any time I could have used the 107).

      Respect to the Metro planners. Not so much to the Georgetown NIMBYs who just got away with a Phinney Ridge.

      1. Ok good catch, I might have misread the schedule then. I think a better plan for the 60 would be to add some schedule buffer at BHS rather than splitting it. I think it probably owes much of its ridership to being a good crosstown route that makes many different awkward trips easier, and forcing a transfer in the middle would undermine that.

        The 107 loop is a weird one. It’s clearly an olive branch to users of the old 106 that connected Georgetown to RBS and Renton (an arrangement that I generally preferred). The biggest use case I can think of is connecting Boeing Field to South Beacon Hill / RBS, which would be quite cumbersome any other way. It’s probably a case where removing it would not quite save a bus in service, so it’s operationally free to keep it (though it does add travel time), so they decided to keep it for connection availability (especially given how hard it is to get east/west in this area). I think making a new east/west route here from Seward to S. Seattle College would be a better Georgetown strategy, and help a LOT of awkward trips like the 60 does.

      2. “Route 107 has been on Metro’s long-range wish-list for elimination.”

        The entire route or just the extension west of Rainier Beach Station? The rest of the route serves a unique coverage area from Rainier View to Renton West Hill that has no other nearby route.

      3. The biggest use case I can think of is connecting Boeing Field to South Beacon Hill / RBS, which would be quite cumbersome any other way.

        The 107 doesn’t actually reach any bus-stop portion of Boeing. It misses by several blocks. But the 60 does provide that connection, for at least one major Boeing stop pair, at least every 20 minutes on weekdays.

        I’ve pondered what it would look like to have the 124 cross up to Beacon Hill and head to BHStation. That would have consequences for most of the other lines, and probably cost money in perpetuity.

      4. Brent,

        Yeah I wasn’t clear. I was talking about transferring to the 124 to get to Boeing Field. The 107 makes that experience tolerable. Without that deviation, then that’s a tricky path around the freeway, unless you walk up and down the hill from Georgetown.

        Moving the 124 to BHS is intriguing. Though I think a lot of people wouldn’t be happy with it. If that were to happen, then the 107 could be moved to downtown via SODO and Georgetown (a bit like the 106 used to, except on Airport Way like the 124). This would reduce current costs, since the 124 is frequent all day while the 107 is frequent at peak, and the 124 would be shorter and the 107 longer.

  5. “Traffic citations declining”

    Yes, this is a problem. More citations everywhere would help, including single occupants in HOV lanes (It’s gotten much worse in the past year or so, even when traffic isn’t heavy), not keeping right except to pass, etc. More enforcement would help traffic. And not just enforcement on cars, but busses also. And cameras are not the answer, not should they even be considered.

    I will say, driving downtown occasionally, especially after they added bus lanes, makes it chaos to move through parts of downtown. In one block your in the far left lane because of new bus lanes, the next block you have to try get across the bus lane to the right turn lane, all while that lane is backed up because a bus or car is blocking the intersection ahead. If it’s the best solution, then not enough thought went into the planning. Would be interested to see collision data before and then after.

    1. “But thus I counsel you, my friends: Mistrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful. They are people of a low sort and stock; the hangmen and the bloodhound look out of their faces. Mistrust all who talk much of their justice! Verily, their souls lack more than honey. And when they call themselves the good and the just, do not forget that they would be pharisees, if only they had—power.”

      -Friedrich Nietzsche . Whose reputation, GK, was far from bleeding-heart.

      Early on in my own car-driving years, starting 1962 in Detroit’s inner suburbs, I learned to arrange my residence, work, and life so as to drive my own car in major-city rush-hour traffic as close to never as possible.

      But since I really hate “Government by Punishment”, here’s an approach I think would work much better for traffic. Every license renewed once a year- after an hour’s ride with a highway patrol instructor for a passenger.

      Who’ll finish the session – all “road”, no bookwork- with a decision: Issue you a driver’s license, or a transit pass valid in every US state and every Canadian province. Possession being “Proof of Payment”, especially where Sound Transit runs.

      Only real danger is being hit by plummeting insurance rates. Don’t think the Bible liked pharisees very much, either.

      Mark Dublin

  6. Wallethub? We’re citing Wallethub as a news source now?

    Just a glance at the data shows something is off. Seattle isn’t number one in any category, yet is number one overall? For the real fun, go down to the methodology section. These findings are from 17 subjective ratings from 1 to 100. Each of these ratings is grouped into a type. Each group is then a fraction of the total score, and each rating in each group given a “full weight” or “double weight” rating. Of course, this means each group’s weight is different, since each group is a different fraction of the whole.

    Wallethub’s methodology is an obvious lie via “hyperstatistics”, if you will. A Fourth Lie beyond even the dreams and nightmares of Mark Twain.

    Not even worth the time to read.

    1. It’s almost certainly that in the abyss of the internet, some random site was bound to have Seattle at #1, and this was that. Just like whenever Rasmussen has Trump approval poll of 52%, Trump proudly proclaims a 52% approval rating. It’s not news and shouldn’t be treated as such.

  7. I see Alex Pedersen has now acknowledged the existence of climate change.

    Among his solutions:

    * Prioritize anything but bikes, and in particular oppose the 35th Ave NE bike lanes. Pretend that they would have cost the City $8 million, instead of actually costing nothing extra to do during repavement. He even double-downs on the lies about the lanes being “sprung” on the neighborhood, despite years of process. (Did we mention he is running under the monicker of “Accountability”? Yeah, that’s the ticket.)

    * Restore parking minima.

    * Hold upzones hostage to additional transit (while not acknowledging existing frequent transit, ya know, like Phinney Ridge did to stop an apartment building).

    * Widen arterials (without bike lanes or anything else that might discourage speeding). He even somehow manages to dress his anti-safety argument in language about safety for the kids.

    * He supports AOC’s Green New Deal, without fear of his constituents caring. He also does for the City (where his position actually matters) but……
    He doesn’t really, and lists process complaint concern trolls why.

    * He prefers Mayor Durkan’s 20-page Climate Action Plan over the 90-page one that resulted from years of process. The longer one needs “more focus” (i.e. get rid of the bike lanes and other fluff he opposes).

    * He wants more solutions to the last-mile problem for getting to light rail. Bikes don’t count. Neither does frequent bus service.

    On the positive side, he also wants “climate notes” on every new ordinance and program. He then properly credits Cathy Tuttle for the idea. As hobby journalists, we can do a better job of properly crediting our sources, even when they are competing blogs that make it an annoying habit of not returning the favor.

    On that score, thank you to Erica Barnett for finding the web archives that tell us what Alex Pedersen really believes!

    1. What has Inslee done for the climate as governor? I think he tried to get a cap and trade program that didn’t pass. Oh, and electric ferries and maybe opposing gas export terminals, and that high-speed rail study. But what has he done for transit, or Amtrak, or highway diets, or making WSDOT more pro-active?

      1. That’s exactly why his candidacy didn’t take off. He doesn’t have anything to point to as an accomplishment.

        Now the gridlock in the Leg until Jan 2017 didn’t help, but the things he CAN control — WSDOT haven’t been all that much to cheer about.

        The current designs for freeway rebuilds are straight out of the TXDOT playbook. They haven’t adopted the “Texas Two Step” (service roads along freeways and protected U-turns at every off-ramp), but the edifice complex WSDOT has these days looks just the same.

      2. Inslee signed several Joe Fitzgibbon bills this year, most importantly the clean energy requirement timeline. Rep. Fitzgibbon would be an awesome governor. Or next Speaker of the House.

      3. What clean energy timeline? Has the state committed to becoming fossil-free or carbon-neutral at some point?

  8. That Wallet hub study is garbage and uses arbitrary criteria and convoluted methodology that don’t make any sense. The claim that Seattle has better transit than New York, Chicago, and San Francisco is self evidently false to anyone who has used the transit systems in those cities, which I have extensively. This study also found that Boise, which probably has the least and worst transit of any city of similar size, has the 16th best transit system in the country. That’s utter nonsense.

  9. About the transit system rankings:

    An evaluation or ranking of a transit system should measure how convenient it is to live without a car. As long as the perceived marginal costs are in the same ballpark, convenience is going to be the starting point for most people’s mode choice.

    I’ve lived in Seattle for most of the past 19 years, and I’ve never owned a car. Our transit system has improved immensely in the past 5-10 years and it’s definitely possible (for me, at least) to live in Seattle without a car, especially if you’re able to supplement transit with biking or Uber/Lyft, but there still a lot of situations in day-to-day life where depending on transit is much slower and more frustrating than it should be- especially on nights and weekends.

    I haven’t spent enough time using transit in other cities to have a firm grasp of how I would rank the cities’ transit systems, but I’m skeptical that it’s easier to depend on transit in Seattle than in NYC (even with all the MTA’s problems) or Chicago.

  10. I know the “problematic” headline refers to that Alex dude, but underneath it is a pic of the problematic South Bellevue Station. Nicely done.

    1. I don’t know what changed, but your acerbic comments have gotten much funnier. And as a result, more effective.


      1. Thank you! While I can’t guarantee I will always be nice and thoughtful, I’ll try to work that into the rotation more often.

  11. Metro service change Sept 21.

    “43: On weekdays, two AM peak hour trips will be added to address overcrowding, and schedules will be adjusted to accommodate the new trips.” The 43 peak stub route is overcrowded???

    “635 (Des Moines-Angle Lake shuttle): New service will be added during weekday midday hours and on Saturday to improve connections to Link light rail at Angle Lake Station. Service is being expanded through a funding partnership with the City of Des Moines.” Hooray to Des Moines for supporting additional bus service, and running the shuttle so people can actually visit the marina district from Link.

    “903: Service to NE Tacoma will be discontinued. The first and last stop will be eastbound on SW 342nd St just west of 35th Ave SW.” Was Tacoma paying for this and stopped? Why was Metro serving it instead of PT?

    Anyone up for a group ride on the 635 on the 21st or 28th and a visit to Des Moines? There’s also Angle Lake Park the other direction, eight blocks from Angle Lake Station (or one RapidRide stop).

    1. The 43 isn’t exactly a stub route, that would be something like the 78. Though the 48 is redundant in the new grid network, if it’s getting so crowded that Metro needs to add trips, then it’s probably a case of target redundancy that makes things better for everyone (similar to the 15 and the D-line, for example).

      The 903 extension started in 2015 when Pierce Transit did a pilot project in Northeast Tacoma (that they made permanent). Before they had route 62 with 3 morning and 3 afternoon trips (, which was basically just a route that ran to NE Tacoma and drove people to route 500 in time to catch it to downtown Tacoma, which unsurprisingly got very little ridership. In 2015, they invested a little more money and paid KCM to extend the 903 to NE Tacoma at peak, and ran an express bus (route 63, also 3/3 trips) from downtown Tacoma to the edge of NE Tacoma where it was timed with the extended 903, but was short enough that it could make hourly trips with one bus. The 63 and the 903 together covered most areas where the 62 used to go in NE Tacoma and was faster, but still didn’t get much ridership. Now they are getting rid of the 903 extension and extending the 63 to the Center at Norpoint, with less coverage but a faster ride, and adding 1 morning trip and 2 evening trips, to try to get more passengers. I think it’s a step in the right direction, but I don’t think residents will feel confident taking the bus unless it’s something like the old 61 (, which ran throughout the day every hour, and covered more places.

  12. “Seattle’s water taxi service is seen as an aspirational model, given that it recouped 45% of operating costs at the fare box in 2018.”

    Not bad?

    1. We don’t need transit like that down here in Portland. We have enough bridges over the river; they just need transit priority lanes. Farebox recovery on a frequent bus line is significantly better than 48%.

  13. Hurrah for “The Future Is Not Retro”. This is what’s possible given the enormous costs of urban rail. The City Council needs to s%!$ or get off the pot about big up-zones on the Westside (Ballard-West Seattle) and a future Aurora line stations. And, if they really smarten up and turn a branch of a fully reserved CCC down Rainier as far as Mt Baker, the north end of the RV.

    ST needs to allow for an elevated junction just south of the Delridge Station (which means a two-level stacked design) and bellmouths in the Green Line tunnel between Amazon and Gates or just west of Gates. IOW stack Gates!

  14. It is now September 12th and still we have yet to see Sound Transit’s Before and After Study for the U-Link light rail project. The agency promised it by summer 2019. This report is a requirement due to the project’s FTA funding, just as it was for Central Link. So what’s the holdup, ST?

  15. Worst thing about streetcar cancellation isn’t cost or schedule. Or one more burgeon in the proof that the region containing Seattle can’t open a very small-scale passenger train reroute without a multi-fatality derailment for a commencement ceremony. Let alone how a formerly- bedrock local industry can’t build a brand new jetliner that’ll stay in the air.

    No, absolutely worst thing is announcement that a schedule-change in an ordinary streetcar line – no tunnels, no floating bridges, no “joint ops”- is going to start with hiring a consultant. No Let’s Us Just Please DON’T!”

    Fortune did street rail, and the rest of Seattle, a terrible unkindness a very short while ago when we lost Tom Gibbs.

    But fate’s also got its compensations. Because two and a half hours south by air, we’ve got a priceless potential colleague in an organization with the exact knowledge and depth of experience we need:

    Under “Board of Directors”, notice “Art Curtis”- a supervisor I met on duty on San Francisco’s N-Line in 1973.

    Instead of standard consultancy contract, plan I’ve got in mind is that our streetcar system become the northernmost segment of the San Francisco Market Street Railway.

    All I know about him is what I read, but most right now appropriate approach is to crowd-source a round trip AMTRAK ticket for Sam Zimbabwe to go take care of the details.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Mark, you mentioned you used to live in Ballard … used to drive for Metro … then moved down to Olympia. I’m curious why you moved there after you retired. Seattle got too expensive? Another reason? Just Curious. Thanks.

      1. Late fall 2013. Arriving at Beacon Hill Station after returning my wife’s ashes to the heart of that volcano called “Iceland”, my brother told me that the speculator who’d bought the home she’d left me had decided that us tenants’ purchase offer didn’t fit his business plan.

        A week or so house-hunting convinced me that any Seattle quarters I could afford to live in, I couldn’t stand for a single night. Pretty much my sense of Seattle itself. Counted myself lucky I’d discovered Olympia a few years before. Pretty town, decent, intelligent population….with a transit system whose buses are always clean, and drivers’ treatment of passengers an excellent example for others.

        First couple of years, really happy how I could get a two-seat bus ride from the foot of my driveway to Tacoma any morning. Excellent espresso across the sidewalk at the Anthem Cafe, two minute streetcar ride to Tacoma Dome, choice of Sounder or ST 574 north.

        Since daily I-5 blockage at Spokane Street spoiled the 590 series straight downtown and Sounder schedule often time consuming, usually picked a LINK ride in from the Airport. For a Regional temporary measure at least, would advocate this ride and transfer every weekday, on a half hour headway.

        But….these last couple of years, exactly like every route-foot of Seattle, car traffic rich in truck crashes assures there is no such thing as a reliable transit ride north and back. The secret two-lane back roads I used to “cheat” with….somebody must have snitched on Twitter. Given West Seattle bus situation, even Southworth-Fauntleroy ferry gets me home very tired.

        My country’s politics would be a worse threat to my own personal freedom if there was any room left at Western State. But about to drop in on Intercity Transit and see if there’s anything I can do for our own latest effort, the express line from West Olympia through town to Lacey.

        Not letting up on 574/LINK either. Or extending Sounder ten minutes past Dupont to Lacey. Our trade is all about staying in motion…isn’t it? Or at least keeping our windshield wipers in that condition.


  16. The last link (“The Future is not Retro”) is very interesting. It basically argues that our current city councils method of attempting to increase housing supply by attacking SFZ is completely misplaced and doesn’t follow the example of successful cities around the world. They basically asset that such a neo-traditionalist approach of simply putting a DADU in every backyard and a triplex on every corner ignores the reality of the way successful modern cities have been involving.

    They argue for abandoning the neo-trad approach and focusing on a more aggressively dense upzoning around more sparsely located transit nodes with quicker connections to other nodes. Such an approach is most similar to the urban village model that Seattle was on before, but with tighter integration with LR and higher density near stations.

    The one thing they didn’t mention is that the neo-trad model also concentrates wealth in the hands of people who already have it, in this case SFH owners. The price of a new unit (rent or purchase) typically follows the price trends in the neighborhood as a whole. So under the city council’s approach, an existing SFH owner can double or triple their investment, whereas the barriers to entering the neighborhood remain essentially the same. Ya, supply is higher, but the price point will still be high.

    1. Equating the “urban village” model with urbanized east-Asia is… a stretch and a half.

      Those big urban cities have much more comprehensive networks of fast, reliable transit than Seattle, not sparser nodes. Large, contiguous parts of those cities are within walking distance of a subway station. That’s critical, it’s the infrastructure necessary for big urban cities — it’s pretty hard to build a big urban city if there are lots of trips that are easy by car and hard on transit, because then there are always lots of cars in the way of everything!

      OK, so suppose we’re going to build way up at our sparse nodes. We run into the problem that we’re building so many of these nodes on top of freeways, even on top of interchanges! That limits walksheds in several different ways! The infrastructure retrofits we’d have to do to make all these far-flung nodes even basically walkable, even with fast transit, is bigger and more controversial than politicians in those areas are willing to take on.

      These things are about infrastructure, but development follows infrastructure. We don’t have enough transit infrastructure and when we build it too often the car infrastructure is in the way of its effectiveness.

      Anyway the existence of some quiet blocks with a few little SFHs in big urban cities is nothing like the huge areas of SF-only 5k ft.² lots we’ve got here. It’s just a totally different kind of thing.

    2. Alon is an international writer based in Berlin. He’s not talking about Seattle’s little ADU policy. He prefers very large cities with extensive transit; think Europe and Asia. I think he said Seattle just barely has a transit system now. (As I was going to say about Katie’s article, if this were Europe, Cascades HSR would already be built, Sounder would run half-hourly 24 hours like Duesseldorf’s S-Bahns, Seattle would have an urban subway like Forward Thrust, and Bellevue and Spokane would have something Tacoma Link-like [but not in mixed traffic].)

      The article is targeting the notion that we don’t need any U-Districts or Ballards or downtown Bellevues or such, that we can do everything with little streetcar suburbs and “garden cities”, or new urbanist villages like the Issaquah Highlands. It’s not so much the debate of exactly how much larger Seattle’s urban neighborhoods should be and whether we allow ADUs/duplexes in the rest of the city, but about whether midrise/highrise areas are necessary at all. That’s a favorite belief of anti-city advocates, which runs deep in US history, going back to Jefferson’s “yeoman farmers” and suspicion of cities as dens of sin.

      “so suppose we’re going to build way up at our sparse nodes”

      What do you mean by sparse nodes? The word “sparse” is nowhere in the article. Do you mean wide station spacing and islands of urban villages in a sea of single-family housing? Alon has approved of networks in Europe with the conventional 0.5-1.0 mile spacing, and I think had a couple reservations about Russia’s 2-mile spacing (like Link). As for “spikiness”, it doesn’t mean the islands Seattle has. His description of Tokyo sounds like what I noticed in Chicago’s North Side: a 2×2 mile district of mostly 3-10 story buildings with a few single-family houses scattered around, and highrises along the shoreline and downtown. We would do well to mimic that.

  17. Picking up from mdnative’s linked article up above…..

    “But those losses are much lower than the $18 billion Sound Transit says it would lose if the lawsuit is successful and the Supreme Court rules against the agency.”

    Where the heck are those numbers coming from? Just off the top of my head, the total revenue projected from the MVET portion in the ST3 financial plan (2017-2041) was like $6.8B something, IIRC.

    1. Back when the discussion was only about revising the valuation underlying the ST3 0.8% mvet, the math was a direct impact of $780m and a total impact ~ $2.2 billion. The difference is in the substitution of debt for tax revenue, the associated debt cost, financing charges, and more debt to cover those debt costs. It’s a bit aggressive, but there is math there. I went into it here.

      The math cited here seems similar, though it’s a bit more strained because in reality ST would be far beyond the debt limit if the MVET revenue were that much less.

      1. Thanks Dan. Yes, “strained” would be one way of putting it, because, as you’ve stated, that calculation would require the agency blowing way past their statutory debt limit. Thanks again for your reply.

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