17 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: The kids’ warning to humanity, 1992”

  1. Sound Transit Link Progress Report , June 2018:

    University Link
    “Key Project Activities –
    • Certificate of Occupancy (C of O): University Link continues to operate under a temporary certificate of occupancy until all permit requirements are fully met. C of O for stations has now been issued. Awaiting issuance of C of O for the
    University Link the project.
    • Commercial issues with all prime civil contractors (with the exception of Capitol Hill Station Contractor) has been negotiated as the project proceeds through the close out process. Finalized commercial resolution with Systems contractor.
    • Miscellaneous follow-on commitments and restoration work remains including but not limited to the following: Decommissioning of monitoring wells, restoration of the Systems staging area on Pine Street are anticipated when the weather im-
    proves, power reliability and vibration monitoring and other follow up on various minor commitments from the Record of Decisions.
    • Before and After Study commenced and to complete by summer 2019.”

    Sound Transit Link Progress Report, July 2019:

    University Link
    “Key Project Activities –
    • Certificate of Occupancy (C of O): University Link continues to operate under a temporary certificate of occupancy until all permit requirements are fully met. All C of O for stations has been issued. The request for system/tunnel C of O for the University Link has been submitted and awaits for Seattle Fire Department and Seattle Department of Transportation’s determination.
    • Miscellaneous follow-on commitments and restoration work remains including but not limited to the following: Additional UW escalator work, decommissioning of monitoring wells, restoration of the systems staging area on Pine Street, power reliability and vibration monitoring and other follow up on various minor commitments from the Record of Decisions.
    • Before and After Study continues to progress. FTA’s recommended “on to off” data collection to expand the survey data to more accurately reflect total ridership were incorporated. Study to complete by end of Summer 2019 and report by September 2019.”

    It’s now been three and a half years since this segment began revenue service. Perhaps a better name for the portion of the report pertaining to U-Link would be “Link Light Rail Lack of Progress Report”.

    1. Thanks. Usually the C of O is completed right after, well, the O. Rarely, pending 90 days or so for completing the punchlist. Why 3.5 years and counting? Escalator issues? Food fight between ST and the City of Seattle? Is it now far less likely for North Link to open early?

  2. Question: car tab fees, transportation benefit districts and the imposition of new car taxes, doesn’t that sound like two maybe three subjects rolled into one initiative? Naughty naughty Timmy.

    1. Haha. Yes, this latest initiative is a total mess. Should it pass in November, it simply won’t survive judicial review when it’s challenged.

  3. Will STB ask the candidates for City Council District 1 and 6 whether they support the “extras” (tunnels, etc) in ST3? If they do, how will they raise the extra money?

    1. If they do, how will they raise the extra money?

      Easy. Impose a tax on whatever competitor to the individually-owned SOV they wish to price out of existence (bikeshare, scooter-share, carshare, taxis, ride”share”, etc). Then calculate how much tax it could bring in if there is no price elasticity, and pretending the provider won’t close up shop in Seattle. Then, propose directing the revenue to something that has a rabid following, but that we know we can do without, so that we aren’t left with a problem when the provider inevitably closes up shop.

      If I were mayor, and wanted to get rid of a few pesky councilmembers who are being too progressive for my taste, I would propose something that, if the councilmembers go along with it, would proverbially blow up in their faces right before their re-elections. If I were on the council, I would see this trap for what it is, go for the wage requirement, and wait on the tax. Then, the mayor would be on the spot to sign the wage requirement, and few would complain about losing rideshare if the companies leave town over a living-wage requirement.

  4. Three months after the closure of Montlake Freeway Station, I have managed to find a (mostly) successful algorithm to get between Kirkland and the U-district on a weekend in under 1 hour. It wanted to share it with you because the steps involved are almost comical. But, yes, I have done it several times. And, yes, it really works. And, yes – it will be nice to see this convoluted scheme get replaced with something more sane when the spring 2020 restructure happens.

    The first trick is to basically ignore what any normal trip planner would tell you, which is a planned connection between the 255 and 542 at Evergreen Point. The connection appears to be well-timed on paper. But, in practice, you’ll miss the connection more often than make it, and be stuck waiting at Evergreen Point for 25-30 minutes until the next bus. The reason why is that the trip runs aren’t timed accurately, and are consistently off in the same direction. Westbound, the 255 is almost always late and the 542 almost always early. And, eastbound, it’s the reverse – the 542 is fairly close to on-time (barring a Husky game or Montlake bridge opening), while the 255 is consistently 5-10 minutes early, due to Metro freaking about about buses being removed from the tunnel and going overboard with their schedule padding. So, if you want to make the trip in under 1 hour, you have to *not* do what the planner says.

    Riding the 255 all the way downtown and riding Link back to the U-district is also no good (although during Husky game traffic, it might be the least awful way to do it). You go way out of the way. Plus, it takes a surprising amount of time to get from the freeway offramp to 5th/Pine, and you still have to wait for the train. And, of course, the train still doesn’t go to the actual U-district. When all is said and done, detouring to 5th/Pine is not actually any faster than just waiting at Evergreen Point the 30 minutes for another bus.

    Instead, here is what I came up with that seems to work successfully most of the time. To make it work, you will need a smartphone with a data plan and the OneBusAway app, plus be in good enough physical shape to run a mile in under 9 minutes. It also works best if you travel light (you will be exercising) and avoid days when buses are delayed by Husky football games.

    1) From Kirkland Transit Center, board route 235 instead of route 255. (The way the schedules work out, the 235 and 255 leave Kirkland Transit Center at the same time).
    2) Exit the bus just south of NE 38th Pl. This is normally a very quick ride, since the 235 tends to stop much less than the 255, plus more favorable traffic lights and no slog into or out of South Kirkland P&R (at least not until you’re already off the bus, and it doesn’t matter).
    3) After exiting the bus, hop on the SR-520 trail using your feet and run to Yarrow Point Freeway Station. The distance is about 1 mile, a mixture of flat and moderate-grade uphill.
    4) Board bus #542 at Yarrow Point and ride it to the U-district. Estimated total travel time from Kirkland TC to 15th/42nd is about 30-40 minutes.

    The way the schedules work out, you typically have about 10 minutes to make it from the 235 bus stop to Yarrow Point Freeway Station. Since there are no stoplights, assuming the 235 is on-time, you should easily make it. Fortunately, the 235 is scheduled to arrive at Kirkland Transit Center a full 5 minutes before departing which, on a weekend, is generally sufficient to ensure an on-time departure. Delays at bus stops along Lake Washington Blvd. are usually minimal. You can also try the 234, which follows the same route as the 235. But, because the 234 doesn’t have that 5-minute layover at Kirkland Transit Center, it can be late, and even just a 3 minute delay means you only have 7 minutes to run that mile instead of 10 minutes. So, unless you’re a track&field athlete, it’s probably safer to just go with the 235, even though it runs only once per hour.


    The simple version:
    1) Board bus #542 in the U-district
    2) Exit the bus at Yarrow Point (not Evergreen Point).
    3) Hoof it down the hill to the northbound route 234/235 bus stop on 38th Pl, just east of Lake Washington Blvd. If the 542 is on-time, the pace is a bit more relaxed than in the westbound direction. I find that running 2/3 of the way and walk 1/3 of the way is often sufficient. If the 542 is slightly delayed, you can make up the time by running all the way. The 234/235 are usually reasonably close to on-time.

    Estimated total travel time from 15th/43rd to Kirkland Transit Center is about 30 minutes.

    The advanced version (for the tech savvy):

    Some of the time, you’ll get lucky, and you will, in fact, be able to make it to Yarrow Point/Evergreen Point right before the 255, instead of right after. In which case, you can save a few minutes by just switching to the 255 there, instead of running for the 234/235. The problem is, in order to do this, you have to *know* whether the 255 is in front of you or behind you, and you don’t want to miss the 234/235 while waiting at the bus stop, trying to find out. It is possible to figure this one with OneBusAway, but only with expert knowledge about how to interpret what the app is telling you. For instance, simply looking at the app’s estimated arrival time at Evergreen Point will not work – the number it gives you will be garbage.

    In order to understand how to tell if the #255 is ahead of you or behind you, you have to understand how OneBusAway gets its estimates (+). Each bus pushes an updated location to the OBA server every 1-2 minutes or so, but the servers process the data by “truncating” the bus’s progress to the nearest bus stop. For a local route that stop everywhere, this “truncation” is not noticeable. But when a bus is doing a long express run down the freeway, this truncation becomes very noticeable. For example, while the 41 is traveling from Northgate to downtown, OneBusAway will believe that the 41 is *still* at Northgate Transit Center the entire time the bus is on the freeway – until it actually enters downtown and reaches the first bus stop downtown. The result is that, on a typical day with no traffic, the bus will appear to leave Northgate Transit Center on-time, then go into 2-minute delay, 4-minute delay…14 minute delay, until miraculously, the bus is on-time again, downtown. You can confirm this by riding the #41, while using OneBusAway to follow your own bus. While the app shows the bus sitting at Northgate Transit Center and mounting delays, you can look out the window and see the bus cruising down the freeway, with no delays, whatsoever. Within a minute or so of the bus arriving at the first stop downtown, the delays reported by the app disappear, and the bus goes back to being on-time again.

    The same thing happens with the #255 (and every route crossing the 520/I-90 bridges, for that matter). So, when the app thinks the eastbound #255 is at Olive/Boren, that actually means the bus is anywhere between Olive/Boren and Evergreen Point, and OBA doesn’t know any more precisely than that. So, how to tell, as your 542 is entering the freeway, whether the 255 is back on I-5 or ahead, in the middle of the 520 bridge? The key is to use OBA to start tracking the 255’s progress *before* it gets to Olive/Boren since, within downtown, the bus stops are frequent enough that the app’s truncation of the bus’s progress is much less significant. While the paper schedules have enormous padding, the reality is that once the bus (at least on the weekend) enters the freeway, it will probably cruise at 60 mph all the way. Even if I-5 has traffic, the exit-only lane to 520 is still, relatively free-flowing, most of the time.

    My rule of thumb is that if the #542 is crossing the Montlake bridge while the 255 is not yet confirmed to have reached Olive/Boren, you’re good. Otherwise, I suggest looking out the window as the #542 crosses 520 and see if you see the #255 go by. Often you will, and if that happens, you can kiss it goodbye (barring a wheelchair getting off at Evergreen Point, it is almost impossible to catch up to it). If you don’t see it, defer a decision until the 542 reaches Yarrow Point. If OBA is still showing the 255 at Olive/Boren, you can probably make it; otherwise, you can’t. If the 255 is gone, just fall back on plan A and run for the 234/235.

    Also, if you decide to go for the 255, you should be aware that the “real-time” information signs at Yarrow/Evergreen Point Freeway Stations get their data from the same contorted source as OneBusAway. They form their estimate by taking the last bus stop passed as the bus’s current location, then adding the time indicated in the official schedule to generate an arrival time for the current location. With a “last stop” location several minutes behind where the bus actually is, plus an official schedule that shows the 255’s freeway segment taking about twice as long as (absent traffic) it actually takes, the result is that when the bus is 2 minutes away, the sign will say 15 minutes or worse. I recommend just ignoring the real-time arrival sign altogether. If the bus has left Olive/Boren, hasn’t passed you yet, and traffic on I-5/520 is free flowing, you can expect the bus to arrive very soon, no matter what the “real-time arrival” sign says.

    For my experience, you should be able to make the 255 connection about 70-80% of the time in the evening and about 20-40% of the time during the day. As long as you know when you miss it, you have nothing to lose by rolling the dice and seeing if you get lucky.

    The last resort version (if the 542 is 5-10 minutes late, the 255 is long gone, and you can’t make the 234/235 either):

    I’ve never needed to attempt this yet, but the schedule seems to indicate that it would work. Stay on the 542 past Yarrow Point and get off at 51st. Switch over to the 245 and ride that the rest of the way to Kirkland Transit Center. By the schedule, it’s a 10-15 minute connection window, but if the 542, itself, is 5-10 minutes late, the wait time will be minimal. Estimated total travel time is 50-55 minutes. Not great, but still better than waiting at Evergreen Point for half an hour.

    (+) This process applies only to route operated by King County Metro, including Sound Transit routes. It does not apply to other agencies, such as Pierce Transit/Community Transit, or Sound Transit routes operated by them. With the exception of the 540 and Trailhead Direct, every single bus crossing the 520 or I-90 bridges is operated by King County Metro.

    Hope this isn’t too long for a comment (maybe I should have written a page 2 post about this).

    1. Drove in from Bellevue to Woodland Park Zoo this afternoon. Light traffic but still big backup at Montlake. Why? Ramps WB 520 to Montlake are closed but ramp from Montlake to 520 WB is still open. That wouldn’t be an issue except vehicles, including buses are exiting at Havard to back track to the UW which backs up all the way to the on ramp creating a huge weave. Add to this the traffic that’s trying to go NB on I5 and it’s a mess. An ST bus moved to the left (inside lane) and then muscled back into the right lane to exit at Harvard. This situation is going to become a road rage battle ground only made worse by people pushing the merge left from the right lane on the bridge well onto the closed shoulder. As it’s getting dark and wet for commute time expect accidents to start making this into the Hell of the North commute. 255 ridership is down. Wonder why?

      There’s no easy solution but a dedicated transit lane needs to be established. Maybe something can be done to route buses through the arboretum (probably not). Maybe the Montlake exit can be kept (mostly) open during peak for transit only (more likely). Or Harvard needs to become a transit only exit. Everyone else goes north on I5 to 45th which actually may be faster than the cluster that currently exists. The other relatively simple option is to close the ramp from Montlake to WB 520; this may be the best solution.

      1. Route them through the Arboretum to where? Madison?

        The problem through the arboretum is there are aqueducts crossing over Lake Washington Blvd inside the pedestrian bridges and you’d need to either lower the road or rebuild the pipe network.

        What about routing them down 10th to Capitol Hill station? The map shows that as being only a minute slower than staying on the freeway the whole way, and right now is the best of I-5 traffic conditions.

      2. The arboretum routing would be existing roads that lead back to Montlake. It’s a route nobody would have used in the “old days”. The ramp/route I don’t think even exists any more.
        The idea of routing buses to Capitol Hill likewise I don’t think is an option because the ramp infrastructure has been destroyed to allow construction of the new Montlake Lid.

    2. Truly amazing! You must be young or in excellent physical condition to accomplish this feat.
      It was easier to get from Kirkland to the U-District on weekends when I lived there thirty years ago than it is today.
      Dumbest thing ever to close the Montlake Flyer station.

  5. Severn Cullis-Suzuki. What a lovely creature, fair as the beautiful river she’s named after and a credit to Canada and any other culture she claims. And she’s only been really young for 27 years.

    Most of all, I see her as an early-adopter of the character-trait that gives me the most hope that like my well-regulated anti-slavery hero Carl Schurz demanded for America, when wrong our world can be set right, and once right, kept right.

    Also appreciate how little of our country’s present condition she and her compatriots personally blame on me.


  6. Brent, thank you for posting the video “The kids’ warning to humanity, 1992”. It’s important. Even if it reaches only a few, it makes a difference.

    “People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage. Intellectual myopia, often called stupidity, is no doubt a reason. But the privileged also feel that their privileges, however egregious they may seem to others, are a solemn, basic, God-given right.”

    John Kenneth Galbraith

  7. I’m done taking public transit to the airport and here’s why: As a frequent air traveler and public transit user, I should be given better options to get to the airport that don’t waste my time. But travel to Seatac adds on way too much inconvenience to be usable for frequent fliers. When I first moved to the area, the 560 stop (one of only two routes that served the airport) was at a location that was nowhere near a domestic baggage claim or check-in area for popular local carriers. It’s wasn’t even in front of the terminal. That was bad enough for practicality and time efficiency but being virtually integrated with the smoking section and the near zero enforcement of illegally loading cars that blocked arriving buses was almost insulting. But it was still doable and I used the route for 3-4 flights a week.

    Years later, the bus stop was inexplicably moved 40 yards farther from the terminal with the previous area dedicated to rental car shuttles. (in fact, they’re the same shuttles that also illegally blocked arriving buses on a regular basis). It defies any kind of logic if moving an ever increasing number people in and out of the airport is any kind of priority.

    I could take the F-line and transfer at TIBS but I believe that is even a further walk once the train arrives at what (they call) the Seatac station. Taking one route to the airport because another route actually doesn’t go right to the airport is just inane. They all should go right to the actual airport, not the adjacent street. Philadelphia’s SEPTA trains stop at every terminal (5 stops total) and each stop is actually closer to the terminal than the baggage claim. Down at PDX, the train terminus is so close to the exit from the baggage claim, I’ve walked right past the tracks without even noticing a couple of times. There is no reason Seatac has to be the way it is.

    This area can do better. Until they do, I’m taking Uber.

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