Buses severely backed up by the rally
Spencer Thomas/Flickr

This is an open thread.

99 Replies to “News Roundup: skyrocketing”

  1. A bill capping urban rent increases at 3% nominal, so maybe 1% real, is not actually pro-density. Developers and and will redeploy capital to exempt single-family sprawl.

    1. The most important part of the AOC housing proposal, as summarized by Curbed (https://www.curbed.com/2019/9/25/20882120/aoc-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-just-society-legislation-housing):
      “Influence zoning codes by holding back highway funds for areas/jurisdictions not supporting equitable development, and increase them for those supporting equitable growth (defined as meeting affordable housing requirements, streamlining approval processes for affordable developments, and eliminating height restrictions on such developments, among other requirements). Areas that require parking minimums or lot sizes of more than half an acre for residential property, or prohibit multistory residential building, will be deemed not supportive of equitable growth and lose funding.”
      So, if parking is mandated, you lose federal funding. Sounds good to me.

      1. No, it’s not actually the most important part. It looks more important than it is, because exclusive suburbs in the US don’t rely on federal funding for highways. Some actively NIMBY further highway widening, like Darien’s multigenerational fight against US 1 widening. It matters more in the big cities, but in big cities developers are going to build zero rentals with the proposed rent control provisions.

  2. If no new Montlake bridge, we should dedicate a lane in each direction on the existing bridge to transit.

    1. If a transit-only second Montlake Bridge were ever seriously considered, the only reasonable way to frame the discussion is to say “if the current Montlake Bridge were transit-only, would we build a car bridge next to it?” The answer is obvious.

      compromising and dedicating a lane of the current Montlake Bridge seems to be a simple compromise, but one that will take a decade to play out.

      1. Is one transit lane really sufficient? Do buses not get stuck in general traffic jam going the other direction?

      2. @Brent I meant one lane in each direction, but given that SDOT is only doing one lane in one direction for multiple streets in downtown I should probably have been more specific.

    2. Is the Montlake Community Club on record supporting dedicated protected bike lanes on the bridge separate from the sidewalks, along with transit-only lanes?

    3. Let me get this straight. The Ship Canal is between a regional transit station and a regional freeway, and the nearby Evergreen Bridge is a BRT-like corridor that’s supposed to funnel buses from the Eastside to the station via the Ship Canal. Doesn’t that suggest the Ship Canal should have transit lanes, and if the historic bridge is too narrow to convert two lanes, then a second bridge is necessary. That was the plan, and now a NIMBY group is vetoing it? For the sake of five adjacent mansions, so that they don’t have to look at a second bridge or more supposed congestion? What about the fact that the transit lanes would not be congested — that’s the purpose of building the second bridge. Traffic on the first bridge will continue as usual; it won’t automatically get worse if the second bridge is built.

      1. Environmental regulations and values, aesthetics, historic preservation, carbon emissions of construction, other construction impacts and politics aside… the city’s policy since 2015 has recommended against a second vehicular bridge here in part because traffic modeling has not suggested that it would actually yield a meaningful benefit. The traffic modeling results might seem counterintuitive, but among the issues is that the intersections and arterials on the far side of the bridge have a limited capacity. More vehicles across the bridge do have downstream impacts.

        I’m not sure what delays will still exist between SR 520 and UW after the Montlake interchange is complete that would be avoided by adding more lanes on a new drawbridge there. The buses have a queue bypass on both sides of the bridge already. The awful queue on the SR 520 ramp is temporary.

        The new resolution that failed favored HOV lanes across the canal that were explicitly not transit-only, which would have yielded a net reduction in transit lanes here as the queue jumps would be repurposed.

        I do think we need an HOV/emergency lane on southbound Montlake Blvd. from U Village to Pacific that transit and other HOVs would use to bypass the unavoidable queues due in part to unavoidable drawbridge openings.

        Further reading with related links on this issue on Page 2: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2019/09/24/adding-vehicle-lanes-on-a-new-montlake-drawbridge-makes-transit-worse-not-better/

      2. The massive UW expansion envisioned in the East Campus is a great thing to note because so far everyone (particularly UW) has been mute as to how we are going to serve that with transit, and no matter how many drawbridges we build, we’ll still have problems heading southbound from U Village. It’s a state highway (SR 513) running through the state university. I think that is a conversation that we should be having.

        But none of that impacts how many vehicles can pass through an intersection with a given geometry and lane configuration in a certain amount of time, and the congestion issues around the bridge are in that domain.

      3. Shall I mention that most guys of the UW expansion is planned in areas at least 1000 feet from a Link station entrance (I think most at least 2000 feet away)?

      4. For the sake of five adjacent mansions, so that they don’t have to look at a second bridge or more supposed congestion?

        There was an apocryphal story when I was studying engineering in college (early 2000s) that both the original and new 520 floating bridges were proposed to be suspension bridges, but all the wealthy waterfront owners in north Lake Washington were opposed to the idea of having to see a bridge, so a floating bridge was instead constructed so it could be as close to the water and out of sight as possible.

        Of course, there are many engineering challenges that likely sunk (pun intended) a suspension bridge, but the rich NIMBY reason stuck with me.

      5. Lake Washington is extremely deep and has no solid bottom, just increasingly dense mud, so they couldn’t extend pylons for a bridge, and the lake is too wide to be entirely supported by both ends.

  3. @ Amtrak.

    Wow moving from China to disposable plastic plates and bowls. How very not progressive for many travelers who are trying to reduce their impact on the environment.

    1. I’m open-minded on the new “compostable” plastic stuff we are now seeing on grocery shelves. Call me skeptical of their claims. The stuff that doesn’t even say that is just more contribution to the extinction of life in the oceans (the main lungs of the planet).

      As a vegan, I’m still ever-annoyed that the most-carbon-intensive meal is the default, there is only one vegan option at best (and some airlines don’t even offer vegan), and that getting that one option requires advance notice and sometimes repeating the request. Amtrak is about as good as the best airlines in this regard.

      To the extent everyone has to pre-order their meal, I wish plant-based would be the default, and anyone who needs something different would be the ones to have to special order in advance and repeat the request at several steps. I’m not saying ban animal-based food on airlines and Amtrak. I’m just saying flip the script and assume the customers would like the least carbon-intensive meal, not the most-carbon-intensive one. (Well, okay, the least carbon-intensive option is no food at all, which is what I had the last time I rode Amtrak.)

      That said, the food options are not what make me jittery about taking Amtrak. The safety record concerns me. The possibility of being stuck behind a freight train for several hours is even more real. Still, I’m not flying any more except for true emergencies. On the bus, we just learn to plan ahead and bring the food we need.

      1. I’ve done testing with “compostable” pseudoplastics. Either on top of a compost pile and exposed to the elements or buried deep in a pile to encourage worms, there was no significant change in structure and only a mild whitening of the coloration (originally clear) after one year.

        I too am skeptical.

      2. Biodegradable does NOT mean compostable. They are not synonyms. Even ‘compostable’ plastics need air and light to properly decompose, which is why you should never throw them in the trash (that defeats the purpose) and they should never be mixed with recyclables. They require special attention to compost, this is the step I’m skeptical about being done correctly.

      3. @A Joy: many “compostable” bio-plastics only decompose in industrial/commercial compost systems which operate at much higher temperatures than our smaller, backyard compost piles. This issue was first widely publicized (to my knowledge) when Sun Chips first came with their “compostable” bags (which had an unusually loud crinkling noise), and home composters found them largely intact after months in a backyard pile. It’s frustrating.

      4. My test compost piles were over 6 foot tall heaps of horse scat that got hot enough to turn the centers of the piles an ashen grey. I’d be surprised if even commercial systems got much hotter. That said I must admit if these pseudoplastics are that particular, there must have been something suboptimal in my system or testing.

      5. Brent, I’ve got a lot of over-the-road travel to catch up on now. So maybe you can fill me in on realities I’d probably rather not know but need to anyway.

        How much does our derailment at Dupont figure into your calculation for all of our safety aboard Amtrak now? And what’s been your recent experience with service quality on intercity buses?

        My last ride on Greyhound over Fourth of July weekend some years ago put me in the company of two drivers whom none of our fifty state prison systems would put back to duty without retraining in dealing with people.

        Jet air travel? Same as you. But it’s only now just hitting me what a piece of damage it’s going to put in my quality of life if I can’t ride trains anymore. Is it really that bad?

        Also can’t separate this quality-lethality issue with the news on our systems’ inability to spec out passenger railcars, which seems dreadfully related to our inability to to do a jetliner anybody will feel safe walking around under 20,000 feet below them.

        I’d ascribe a lot to what I see as the retirement of an entire generation of labor whose basic training came up their arm into their brains by way of their hands. And the democratic (“d” small but meaningful) government and labor organizations they brought with them.

        I also over-complicate and worry a lot. But I think you can give me some perspective.

        Mark Dublin

      6. I couldn’t read the article because of the paywall/ad-blocker-wall, but when I rode the Empire Builder and Coast Starlight they did have real plates and dishware. I remembered that particularly because I was glad they didn’t use disposable plates like most fast-food restaurants have. That was part of a program of improving the menu and including a salad/roll/drink to make Amtrak more attractive. Are they switching to compostable plates and forks? That would be sad because those are flimsy.

        But compostable plates and forks are fine on their own part. Seattle has residential composting, and at least some restaurants have compost containers even if some still don’t. It’s annoying that recycling containers are more common than compost containers, because usually I have more food waste than clean newspapers or plastic bottles or cans. Disposable plastic bottles and cans are so 1990s.

      7. Right, the green compostable bags say “compostable in municipal compost facilities only” or such on the box. This goes for the new compostable forks too.

  4. Ideally, service to Golden Gardens would come in the form of extending the #44 bus, rather than introducing a special shuttle, provided issues such as layover space and trolley wire could be worked out.

    Special shuttles for such short distances are very inefficient, since a very large proportion of the service time ends up getting eaten by layovers. An extension of the #44 can be more efficient, since it allows the layover time to be amortized over a longer service route. It would also more useful to riders, in that it would result in much more frequent service – plus one-seat rides to all of Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford, and the U-district.

    Back of the envelope calculations show the extension being an 8-minute drive each way. The bus probably wouldn’t stop that much, and there isn’t much traffic out there, so the round trip would likely add an additional 20 minutes or so of cycle time, requiring two additional buses at 10-12 minute headways.

    Given these times, the special shuttle idea is going to require at least two buses, just to serve the area with 30-minute headways.

    To control costs, the extension could be traversed in battery mode, avoiding the tens of millions of dollars in overhead to install the trolley wire. They could also save money by running the extension for only every other trip (at 20-30 minute headways) and not running it at all late at night (10 PM summer, 7 PM winter).

    Another issue that needs thought is how to turn the bus around. There is a turnaround loop by the beach parking lot which might work, but the turning radius might be a bit tight (similar to the #2’s turnaround at Madrona). Widening the turning radius would be expensive, require taking out a couple of large trees, and is probably not worth it. But, assuming that the bus would fit, this is an option worth looking into.

    1. If the 44 was extended, I would rather go up 32nd, to Sunset Hill. There are a lot more riders there, and an existing layover. You would have two versions of the 44: one that stops at Sunset Hill, the other that stops by the locks. When the 17 is running (at rush hour) the 44 stops by the locks. When the 17 shuts down, the 44 goes to Sunset Hill. Even then you might send only half the buses up there. With the 44 running every 10 minutes in the middle of the day, that would mean 20 minute frequency along 32nd, which is a huge improvement over what it is now (which is no service at all).

      Seaview and Golden Gardens make sense for a van. Turning around and layover space is less of an issue. I wouldn’t bother sending it all the way to the heart of Ballard — I would just connect to the 44. That is a loop that can be done in about 20 minutes (as you suggest). With layover time, that is one driver, one bus, with half hour frequency. Not that expensive, but not that many riders, either.

      1. I would rather the 44 get extended to Golden Gardens and the 45 get turned down 32nd to serve downtown Ballard. It could layover in the old 75 layover space on Leary, south of Market.

        That would open up a very useful new east-west route, through Loyal Heights, Greenwood, Ravenna, to a large urban center, plus give 32nd Ave residents an all day connection to Ballard.

        Similar to a limited 44 tail to Golden Gardens, the Ballard tail of the 45 could be every other bus at 30 minute headways. The downside is it would require a large chunk of service hours and likely get bogged down on Market between 24th and Leary, similar to the WB 44.

      2. I would rather the 44 get extended to Golden Gardens

        The problem is that there is nothing there. You are talking about sending a big bus over to Golden Gardens — with issues involving trolley wire and layover space — all to get maybe one rider an hour, if you are lucky. Most of Seaview has a Marina on one side, and a green belt on the other. It doesn’t even have single family housing — it has boats and trees. There are a couple condos, and maybe a couple dozen houses, but that is it. It makes 32nd look like Brooklyn. Yes, I know it is schlep to walk to the 44, but just buy a bike. The Burke Gilman — the cities best bike path — is right across the street. Now you want a one seat connection to the UW? That is just silly. What’s next — are we going to extend the 24 down Perkins Lane? How about sending the 14 down Lake Washington Boulevard?

        Keep in mind, ridership is so low on this corridor, that Metro is thinking about a van, only on summer weekends. That is because the rest of the time, the van will be mostly empty. It would be silly to send a bus there.

        As for 32nd, there are a number of different options. But my point is, if you are going to extend the 44, then you should extend it somewhere you can get a decent amount of riders. 32nd is the only reasonable option for that.

      3. As to your other point.

        That [a 45 extended down 32nd to Market, then up Market, ending at Leary] would open up a very useful new east-west route, through Loyal Heights, Greenwood, Ravenna, to a large urban center,

        Not really. If you are in Ballard, and heading for Greenwood, you take the first available bus (this new 45 extension or the 40). The 40 runs a lot more frequently. If you manage to catch it, you will get to your destination sooner (by transferring to a 45). Even if they both arrive at the same time, it makes more sense to catch the 40. At worse you end up on the same bus (as you wait for the extended 45 to round the horn).

        It might be a decent way to serve Sunset Hill, but it wouldn’t add much otherwise. You’ve added costly redundant service on Market, and the only folks that would use it are those who would be just as happy with another bus.

        What would make more sense is to combine Sunset Hill service with service on 65th. Something like this (https://goo.gl/maps/WtwxMEZAZ8k3FjBn9, assuming you could find layover space and turn around). A bus like that could justify 15 minute service. It would mean a two seat ride from Sunset Hill to Ballard, but the 40 is fairly frequent, and will eventually become a RapidRide (like the D). I’m about to write up a Page 2 proposal that suggests something similar (not to ruin the surprise).

      4. This route will be similar to the reverse 46. The 46 used to be an infrequent express from Golden Gardens to Ballard, Fremont, and the U-District in the morning and back in the afternoon. There was also a reverse-peak shuttle the other direction but it started from Ballard, so you had to take the 18 or 44 to Ballard to get it.

      5. “The problem is that there is nothing there. You are talking about sending a big bus over to Golden Gardens — with issues involving trolley wire and layover space — all to get maybe one rider an hour, if you are lucky.”

        I think there is more than one person at the park each hour. The problem is they don’t take transit to the park. Part of that is because they’re Americans and they don’t take transit to any park, but part of it is because there’s no transit to take. You have to walk two miles to the 44 or up a long steep hill to the 48 or 17.

        Metro has off and on had a bus to Golden Gardens, and ridership was abysmal. So that’s one data point to consider. It was never 30-minute all-day service that I’m aware of; it was once every hour or less during a limited span or peak-only and weekday only, whereas the prime time for visiting parks is weekends.

        There’s an argument that Seattle parks should have a bus even if ridership is low. When I was in Chicago I noticed that many of the tourist attractions are in outlying areas, eacn on a different bus route. I went to one farmers’ market on the lakefront; the Diversey bus went to it because it happened to be the route’s terminus, and so I was able to take the bus directly to the market. In Switzerland the Alpine ski and recreation areas have buses to them, and maybe not all the routes are high-ridership but the buses make them transit-accessible, whereas without them people would have to drive, and that would make them more likely to want to own a car and drive everywhere since they have it. If we want people to use transit for most of their trips, then it has to go to the variety of places they go to. And if they won’t ride it now because of car inertia, the fact that the bus runs reliably day in and day out means that some day some people will chose to start riding it. Each person making their own decision in their own time. But if the bus isn’t there, or if it’s launched and then cancelled repeatedly, they won’t ride it, and won’t check to see if it’s running now.

        A third factor is that Metro has a finite budget and many underserved priorities, so maybe it needs to address other more acute needs first. That’s fine, but we should still say Golden Gardens is a lower-priority need that we should address later. And not say it’s not a need at all, or that it’s perfectly fine that one of Seattle’s first- or second-tier parks that’s widely known and popular is accessible only by car.

      6. You can always walk to the park, from the end of the 45. It is really no different than walking to the beach at Carkeek from the terminus of the D. I’ve done it (in both cases) and it the walk is similar. It is very woodsy and you are on a pedestrian path the whole way (https://goo.gl/maps/i8rfYdrTynG9rz6d6) . It is actually a lot shorter than the walk to Carkeek (https://goo.gl/maps/ePMaqxcXUNq9n4QR8) although there is more elevation gain going back up.

        The big problem is the lack of service along 32nd. This is a borderline route — one that could justify all day service — but just barely. This is precisely the type of route that should have service well before we send a bus to the beach at Golden Gardens.

        If anything, that sort of shuttle bus should be run by the parks department, like the shuttle at Discovery Park. Discovery Park is a premier park. West Point is a premier location. You can see it on a map — it juts out, and is the farther west point in Seattle. I would argue that it is finest view point on Puget Sound, with views of the Olympics, Mount Rainier and Mount Baker. Yet if you take a bus, you have to walk a long ways (https://goo.gl/maps/ayWB62esTeN398N88 or https://goo.gl/maps/GBiorH9HZeyccxw77). Or you take the shuttle bus.

        The point being that running a shuttle to the beach at Carkeek or Golden Gardens is is fine, but Metro has other priorities. If Metro does take up the task, then it should be done via the least expensive approach, which would be to run a van during the summer months.

      7. You can always walk to the park, from the end of the 45.

        I run that route all the time and your description does not do it justice. It’s a 300 ft elevation drop down a long, winding path/stairs that varies between bad pavement and (sometimes) mucky dirt paths. They’ve replaced a lower section of stairs, but the remainder of the stairs are in varying states of disarray. It’s walkable in the sense that Upper Queen Anne is accessible as a short walk from the RR D in LQA.

        The big problem is the lack of service along 32nd. This is a borderline route — one that could justify all day service — but just barely.

        That’s why I propose turning the 45 down 32nd. Most routes that have gone down 32nd have abysmal ridership because the routes begin in a low density single family area. The amount of all day riders just can’t ever justify all day service that only serves them.

        The 17X is a vestigial, one seat commuter route that Metro won’t be able to get rid of until it becomes a peak hour shuttle to Ballard Light Rail. There was the very short lived all day shuttle that existed (the 61 I believe) to placate the Sunset Hill masses when the all day 17 route got axed. Although the 61 opened the door for the eventual and extremely well used 40, finally providing 20/7 service between Ballard and Fremont and points beyond.

        The only way to properly serve the Sunset Hills area is to have it be stops along a workhorse route between popular destinations, hence turning the 45 down 32nd to downtown Ballard, maybe starting at 30 minute headways.

        But regarding the 44, it should either remain as-is or be extended to Golden Gardens. I’d prefer the former, but again, having transit service, even if limited, to a very popular park isn’t crazy; proposing a dedicated shuttle, however, is. Plus, the half dozen or so proponents of a Shilshole Sounder North Station will have something to talk about again!

        Turning the 44 up 32nd would only result in that leg atrophying like any other route that begins or ends in Sunset Hills.

      8. It’s a 300 ft elevation drop down a long, winding path/stairs that varies between bad pavement and (sometimes) mucky dirt paths.

        In other words, it is a park. It is a path through a park, just like the path that leads to the beach at Carkeek Park. Does anyone think we should extend the D to the bottom of Carkeek?

        That’s why I propose turning the 45 down 32nd.

        I was thinking that too. Unfortunately, the problem is layover space. You can’t turn a bus around if it headed that direction (to 32nd and Market from the north). It is too bad, as there are some options that work out well if you could.

        Most routes that have gone down 32nd have abysmal ridership because the routes begin in a low density single family area. The amount of all day riders just can’t ever justify all day service that only serves them.

        But it is a hell of a lot better than Seaview! Holy cow, man, you don’t seem to get it. A bus on 32nd would get orders of magnitude more riders than a bus on Seaview. There are a mix of apartments and houses on 32nd. Seaview is a mix of trees and boats.

        Besides, the 17 does OK. It gets 43.5 people per platform hour, which is well above average (during peak time). The 15 gets 45, and the 18 gets 42. For all day service, it is borderline. No one is suggesting we add more runs to downtown, but an all-day bus that serves it (in some fashion) is quite reasonable, in the same way that West Magnolia has all day service. The 19 only gets 27.2 riders per hour — quite a bit less than the 17. Yet the folks on Viewmont have all day service, despite the fact that there are *no* apartments west of 36th. Those home owners — many sitting on lots that are much bigger than those in Sunset Hill — don’t have to walk to 34th, while apartment owners in Sunset Hill have to walk to schlep to 24th.

        But regarding the 44, it should either remain as-is or be extended to Golden Gardens. I’d prefer the former, but again, having transit service, even if limited, to a very popular park isn’t crazy; proposing a dedicated shuttle, however, is.

        Sorry, but that is completely backwards. A shuttle is flexible. You run it only when you need to run it. It is never a great value, but it is cheaper to run than a bus. That is why Metro has vans — for this very purpose. This has DART (900 series) written all over it. No matter what you do, ridership will be largely non-existent, 99% of the time. The only period where it would work is summer weekends. Logistically, that is a pain in the butt for an extended tail, especially one that runs on wire, and typically involves a huge bus. Even then, ridership would be poor. The vast majority of people that go to the park will drive, walk, or ride their bike. Drivers carry a car full of people, along with coolers and food. Some bring portable barbecues or bulky play equipment. Do you really think those folks are going to start taking the bus? “Oh Yippee, I can take a bus, transfer to another bus, and be at the park in only forty minutes, instead of driving there in ten”. Individuals, who don’t have stuff and are leaving from somewhere in Ballard, Fremont or the UW will just bike. It is the best bike path in the city, it makes sense to use it. You are talking about only a handful of riders per day — easily enough for a van to carry.

    2. When I first heard rumblings of this about a week ago, my first thought was “didn’t they cut the 46 due to abysmal ridership?” My second thought was similar to yours: “why don’t they just extend the 44?”

      Golden Gardens could use transit for sure, it gets crowded during summer evenings and weekend and parking can be difficult to impossible. But like you said, 30 minute headways for a 44 tail, with limited hours would be plenty.

      Regarding the turnaround in Golden Gardens, if I recall, the 46 used to terminate at the north entrance to Golden Gardens (Seaview Pl) and I thought I recall it being an artic every now and then, so it must’ve been able to use that little turnaround next to the pedestrian BNSF underpass. Worst case it could turn around in the parking lot just north of Seaview Pl.

      1. it gets crowded during summer evenings and weekend and parking can be difficult to impossible.

        Which make it appropriate for a shuttle van, not an extension. An extension has all sorts of issues, some of which have been mentioned. You have layover space, turn-around issues, and of course, wire. It isn’t worth all that for a handful of trips in the summer. Not even close.

    3. “We need to send buses to Golden Gardens!” Standing Ovation.

      “What will the ridership be?” Silence.

      Sam. First Ballot Commenter Hall of Fame.

      1. What will the ridership be? Those who live in those multifamily buildings, go to Golden Gardens park, or visit the businesses along Seaview Ave NW. Historically the ridership has been abysmal, but Seattle’s parks need to be transit-accessible, and those are multifamily buildings that future residents may want to take transit from.

      2. Mike, we cut off areas from transit all the time due to low ridership. Most of Mercer Island doesn’t have transit on Sunday due to low ridership. Somerset is completely cut-off from transit on the weekends. The old route 46 was cut due to low ridership. Now we want to bring back the route that nobody took?

      3. The Mercer Island and Somerset routes served the lowest-density single-family houses, not major city parks. So your “Totem Lake to Seattle” principle applies: they chose to live in low-density cul-de-sacs that are hard for transit to serve. That does not apply to Seaview Ave NW, which has one of Seattle’s top-5 or top-10 parks, condos and apartments and hotels, a marina, restaurants, and businesses that workers and customers go to. A comparable place in the Eastside might be Juanita village. There have long been complaints that the multfamily part of Juanita doesn’t have adequate bus service.

      4. BTW, Golden Gardens extends east up the hill almost to 32nd and 85th. So technically, there are two routes, the 17 and 45, that essentially go to the edge of the park.

        Mike, any relation to Bobby Orr of the Bruins, or Benjamin Orr, former co-lead singer of the band The Cars?

      5. Sam making sure we’re precise in our facts, that you can get to a few trees from the 48 and 17. I have gone to the park that way once or twice. But it’s far beyond what the broad public and non-athletic people can be expected to do.

        No, not related as far as I know. In junior high I did have a friend Ray Carr who listened to the Cars. I listened to them too, and still do sometimes. Life’s the same, I’m moving in stereo. Life’s the same, except for your shoes.

    4. I don’t know whether or not bringing back service to Golden Gardens will bring ridership or not. But I hope they do it anyway. I remember the 46 and had fun getting off near Gordo’s burger stand then going up the stairs behind it; before it was part of the Burke Gilman Trail. Or I would just go north and climb the bluff to Sunset Hill Park. But unfortunately even in 1987, I was one of 2 riders. Most of the people rode the 46 because it went on 40th St in Wallingford instead of 45th. Then it eventually followed the 43 to 32nd Ave.

    5. “Special shuttles for such short distances are very inefficient, since a very large proportion of the service time ends up getting eaten by layovers. ”

      False. Inefficiently-long layovers happen when (a) the headway is long, and (b) the headway and cycle time are not divisible, or nearly so. Metro has an unfortunate history of short, low-frequency, low ridership shuttle routes that were inefficient in exactly this way, which wasted money and diesel until they were put out of their misery, but it doesn’t have to be like that. You just need frequent shuttles.

      The problem with transit on Shilshole is that there’s only a tiny strip of dense housing south of the marina that could generate 365-days-a-year ridership. On land, the marina is a giant parking lot, and most people with boats drive to them. Golden Gardens would generate lots of demand on hot summer weekends and almost nil on rainy February weekdays.

      If I was in charge of Metro, I’d run Trailhead Direct-type vans every ten minutes from the old 61 layover near TJ’s, through central Ballard, to Golden Gardens, 10 AM to 10 PM, Friday-Sunday + Holidays, Memorial Day to Labor Day. It’d be efficient and you’d get lots of riders.

      1. Exactly. This is a lot like Trailhead Direct. The vast majority of people headed to the parks will still drive, but during busy summer weekends, many will take the bus (or van). During the rest of the time, it wouldn’t be worth it.

        By the way, as I said up above, a bus does serve Golden Gardens, just as a bus serves Carkeek. This would be a way to serve a different part of the park.

      2. A van would be fine. Just something with a fixed route. And it can’t be too short because that also depresses ridership, and that’s one of the reasons the previous Seaview routes failed. So just shuttling down to Ballard Ave is not enough. It needs to go someplace else meaningful. We already tried a Ballard loop and that didn’t work. So where else can we put it? There have been persistent requests for a route on NW 65th Street. So what if it went from Golden Gardens to Ballard Ave, up to 65th and then over to north Greenlake and either Northgate or Roosevelt. That would be a meaningful route that goes east-west to places on both ends and in the middle.

    6. With regards to extending the #44 I’m not necessarily saying “do it”. I just think it’s worth exploring the feasibility/cost/benefit. If the result of the study is that it doesn’t work, then it doesn’t work.

      There are number of technical issues that would have to be worked out before even getting into the economic issues. The buses would have to able to go from their existing terminal to Golden Gardens and back on battery power, since the cost of installing more trolley wire for a service like this would be prohibitive. The buses would also have to have enough room to turn around without a multi-million-dollar construction project. Off the top of my head, I’m not sure that either of these issues would check out, and if they don’t both check out, there’s no point in exploring the idea further.

      Assuming the above points do both check out, the next step is to compare costs. As mentioned in my earlier comment, doing it with a bus route extension would cost only one more bus, assuming that the extension were to run only every 30 minutes, with at least half of the buses just turning around at their current layover spot. If the extension runs only during summer weekends, Metro doesn’t even need to add another bus to their fleet to operate it with. There are plenty of trolley buses that are currently used only on weekdays that could be pressed into service. In fact, given Metro’s tendency to run only diesel buses on weekends anyway, that could negate the trolley wire issue completely.

      Now, let’s compare to the van option. The shortest possible route that connects with any transit service at all is a shuttle between Golden Gardens and the Ballard locks. That would be 20 minutes round trip driving time, but with a 10 minute layover at each end, that’s a 40 minute cycle time. Which means, at 30 minute headways, you can’t quite do it with one van, so you’d need 2. The result is each van alternating between a 10 minute drive and a 20 minute layover. More likely, the van service would end up being extended to Ballard Ave., to provide a one-seat ride to the center of Ballard and a two-seat ride to anywhere the #40 bus goes, since, it’s only 5 minutes more each way and, when you do the math, it’s still only two vehicles to operate at 30-minute headways.

      Now, let’s compare. Obviously, one bus costs more to operate than one van, but how much more? Is the difference enough to make one bus more expensive to operate than two vans? Even considering that, if we’re talking weekends, Metro already has unused buses lying around, while van service might actually require buying some vans (unless they have a way of somehow using vanpool vans).

      If the financial numbers end up being close, a #44 extension is clearly a superior experience for a rider. It means a one-seat ride to far more places than a duplicate van shuttle go could at reasonable cost. It also means the capacity to handle a random large crowd. For a destination like Golden Gardens, I would expect the ridership to be very uneven. On a rainy day, the bus might carry nobody. On a sunny day, maybe the average trip carries 5 people. But, then you have that one trip where a group of 10 friends all want to get on. If it’s a bus, there’s plenty of room for everyone. If it’s a van, some of the people will end up chasing after the bus on Lyfts and Ubers.

      1. Another point worth mentioning – only every other #44 bus did the Golden Gardens extension, that would also leave open the possibility for a 32nd Ave. extension, as some have been advocating. Essentially, the 44 could just branch at the Ballard locks, with half the buses going to Golden Gardens and the other half going to 32nd/85th.

        Not only does the “branch” approach provide coverage to both areas. But, it also means that, assuming walking down the long flight of stairs is acceptable, you can actually get to the Golden Gardens beach by taking whatever #44 bus comes first, rather than having to depend on a specific branch.

        Of course, running both branches would cost more (maybe 2 additional buses over the current system). But, you get more coverage, so the additional cost is justifiable.

      2. That would be 20 minutes round trip driving time, but with a 10 minute layover at each end, that’s a 40 minute cycle time.

        Wait, why would you layover on each end, if it only takes ten minutes (one way)? It makes way more sense to just do a live loop. That means 20 minutes of driving, followed by a ten minute break. One driver, one van, for service every half hour. If you extend into Ballard, then it extends accordingly (every 37 minutes, every 42 minutes, whatever). One van, one driver, that’s it.

        Essentially, the 44 could just branch at the Ballard locks, with half the buses going to Golden Gardens and the other half going to 32nd/85th.

        Which epitomizes the problem with your idea. If you did that, I guarantee that the route on 32nd would pick up a lot more riders. Orders of magnitude more people. If you then decided to send all the buses to 32nd, ridership would actually increase. You would have a lot more riders along 32nd, as frequency goes from barely adequate (20 minutes) to great (10 minutes). This increase, even along a borderline corridor, would still greatly exceed the number of people that use a bus on SeaView Avenue.

        But that is just one example. I wouldn’t recommend any of that. We still have lots and lots of places that have no coverage, or places that have poor frequency. Yesler Terrace, for example, has only half hour headways for trips downtown. You are talking about spending money serving a recreational park — so that visitors can avoid a seven minute walk through the park (https://goo.gl/maps/i8rfYdrTynG9rz6d6) — when we really should be focusing on far more important routes.

  5. RE: Sound Transit Citizens Oversight Panel —

    How could Sound Transit staff, board, and COP all failed to recognize that DOL is using a vehicle value table that the statute does not authorize AND it produces millions of dollars less for Sound Transit than it is entitled to and that voters approved?

    Does COP respond to questions from “ordinary Joes and Janes?”

    1. Most rank-and-file ST folks don’t get to watch DOL set the mildly-byzantine MVET rates. Why would they notice? It took ten years for anyone there to notice that the identical beep for tap-off was a problem. They do their jobs. They go home and do something else. Few of them are transit hobbyists, outside of the COP (a volunteer board with no real power, except to ask questions).

      To some extent, their failure to pay attention to specific MVET rates may be related to their figuring out how to not have to pay an MVET at all. I like having people who get around by transit (and bikes, and n-share) instead of owning their own cars serving on the board and COP, or working in the rank-and-file and thereby having a better understanding of how transit works.

      As someone who avoids paying an MVET because I don’t own a car, I am agnostic on the veracity of any claims you make regarding MVETs.

  6. The Seattle Center Monorail website is updated with the new fares and an ORCA video. Yes, you will have to present your card to the cashier. Hopefully, there aren’t that many cash payers slowing down the line enough to cause anyone to have to wait for the next monorail vehicle. If you miss a trip because of the ticket queue, I’d like to hear about it.

    You can probably still walk up the stairs from the north mezzanine at Westlake Station (or from the west side of Westlake Mall) faster than taking the elevator.

    Thank you to Seattle Center for your contribution to fighting the climate crisis!

      1. I thought the problem was that the current ORCA card vendor doesn’t make the readers anymore?

        Wait, does that mean every reader will have to be replaced when ORCA 2.0 gets here?

      2. The reader, no. Making a hole on the bars for an extra line, not really. The extra staffer to hold the reader (one for each station), Yes.

        A simple solution is to let two queues form up: One with ORCA cards and one paying cash. Give absolute preference to the ORCA-holding queue.

    1. You mean in this high tech savvy city, the Monorail Authority couldn’t install tap devices at the turnstiles similar to what you see in some rail systems in Europe???? Or split the lines between cash and card holders!

      When the NHL season starts around here in 2021 lets see how long the lines get for fans trying to make the 7pm puck because card holders wait for cash payers!!!!

      1. They won’t because they don’t need to. They are operating a tourist attraction. It isn’t really transit.

      2. You don’t have to go to Europe. ORCA turnstyles are already at most of the ferry terminals (not the San Jan Juans, but even Port Townsend and Coupville have them).

        If the ferry system has any extra of those, just buy a couple of them off the ferry system inventory.

  7. When all-day Route 17 service was taken off 32nd….how many years ago? trolleywire for the 44 should have been extended north to 85th.

    Mark Dublin

  8. Really disappointed about Amtrak looking to phase out the dining car. There’s not a ton to do on long-distance trains, and meeting people in the dining cars is one of the best aspects of Amtrak.

    I’m also not quite following Amtrak’s logic about “on the run” millennials being so engrossed in their phones for every second of the ~16 hour day on the train to find time for a nice meal, or why that sort of person would be on a long-distance train in the first place.

    1. The dining car is going away? What will people eat on those 24-hour or 72-hour train trips? They can’t just not have food, or expect everybody to bring food for three days.

      1. Amtrak mainly offers two food options on the long distance trains: a dining car with full sit-down table service like a restaurant and a cafe/lounge car that sells snacks, pre-packaged food, and beverages like a convenience store.

      2. Yes, that’s what I’ve experienced. But the comments seem to be suggesting that the dining car will go away. The bistro car doesn’t possibly have the capacity to give a quarter of the train a hamburger at 5pm, so what will they do instead? Bring boxed dinners to people’s seats like an airline tray?

      3. I’ve actually had that happen, Mike. About 15-20 years ago I was on the Coast Starlight when they had a fire in the kitchen that put it out of commission. For breakfast they called ahead to the next stop, ordered McDonalds, and passed it out to everyone.

    2. At this point it is only on shorter routes east of the Mississippi. All of the 36+ hour trips in the west still have dining cars.

      Having taken the Builder west to Portland, I have to say that the bistro car breakfast was not good. I really hope they keep dining on the routes in the west. It is part of the “first class” experience that people expect when booking a sleeper.

    3. I am still annoyed that they took the parlor car off of the Coast Starlight.
      Now, the diner is to go too?

  9. If a person, for example, works in Northgate, but choses to live in Totem Lake, the problem isn’t with the transportation system, the problem is with the person living so far away from work. People have to take responsibility for where they choose to live, and stop blaming transit for their poor decisions. Work in Renton, but bought a house in Lake Forest Park, and you complain about the lack of transit between your home and job? Nope. Not buying it. YOU are the problem, not transit.

    1. I agree, Sam. It’s a bit harsh, but yes, people should consider their commute when committing to a home.

    2. Oh, come on. Let’s say you’ve worked for Boeing for twenty years, in Renton. They move your job to Everett. You wife works in Renton and your kids go to school there. You are supposed to sell your house, take your kids away from their friends and school, and move everyone to Everett? Your wife is supposed to quit her job, and find a new one in Everett? Or maybe you are supposed to find a new career, at 50 years old — one that you hope will earn maybe half of what you make at Boeing but have a better commute.

      Sorry, that’s nuts. You just put up with the horrible commute, and keep counting the days until retirement.

      Are you telling me Sam, that you don’t know anyone who has ever had that happen? Since you are a man of the world, I find that surprising. Off the top of my head, I can think of three people who have experienced something like this. One did work for Boeing and had his job switch from Renton to Everett. Another guy used to walk to work in Kirkland, but they moved the plant up to Mukilteo. A third also walked to work in Fremont, but they moved the job to SoDo.

      Perhaps you’ve heard that Expedia is moving? Without a doubt there are people who walk to work, or maybe have an easy bus ride, who will struggle with the commute. Sure, they could just quit. Many will. But for others, quitting would suck. They know the domain (travel) really well. They know the particular software systems really well. They could learn it all over again, somewhere else, but it would likely involve a pay cut, especially if they are employees that aren’t paid extremely well (e. g. software testers). So, at their peak earning years, they are supposed to take a big pay cut, forever hurting their chances of a comfortable retirement, all to avoid a time consuming commute? Or maybe they are supposed to sell the condo they just bought an incur all of the extra costs? Please. Get real. Quitting a job or moving often involves a sacrifice that isn’t as bad as putting up with a bad commute.

      1. Of course there are exceptions. I’m talking about a specific example. I’m talking about the person who picks a home that isn’t close to work and isn’t on a major transit line, then puts 100% of the blame for their lousy commute on transit. I’m saying if I work in Issaquah, but buy a house in Normandy Park, I can’t blame Metro and ST for my horrendous commute. I’m saying if I work downtown, but bought a place in Granite Falls because I wanted a few acres, I give up the right to blame others on my commute.

      2. Do you know if there’s even one real person who fits those hypothetical situations? People who live in Totem Lake or Normandy Park or Issaquah don’t normally put all their blame on transit. They sometimes put some of their blame on it, but at the same time they’re glad for the larger unit and fewer neighbors and are content to drive to the store and big-box store even if they commute on transit. If they weren’t content to drive to the store, they’d put a higher priority on living where stores are closer to them. John Bailo was always pushing the suburban ideal, but he specifically chose the densest, most shopping-rich and transit-rich part of Kent to live in. Did your people in Totem Lake, Normandy Park, and Issaquah do the same?

      3. Do you know if there’s even one real person who fits those hypothetical situations?

        Good question. I’ve never met anyone like that. Why would you buy a house in Lake Forest Park if you work in Renton, all other things being equal? Seriously, it doesn’t make any sense. Even if you have no interest in transit, and there was no traffic at all, it doesn’t make any sense. Why have a worse commute, for no reason?

        That isn’t how things work. You have it backwards. People end up in situations like I described, and are stuck with it.

      4. My friend at Boeing Renton talks about all his colleagues who work in places like Redmond and drive SUVs to work. They don’t complain about the transit because they’d never consider taking it. What they complain about is taxes and car tabs and what they hear on right-wing media.

      5. “Let’s say you’ve worked for Boeing for twenty years, in Renton. They move your job to Everett.”

        This is actually a big problem and is one of the characteristics of the region’s development. Boeing shifts groups between plants and offices willy-nilly without much notice so people can’t depend on knowing where they’ll work. So they choose a place to live based on other factors like the children’s school. My mom keeps saying Kirkland grew because it’s halfway between Boeing Everett and Boeing Renton.

        Another problem with Boeing is its hugs parking lots and implicit contract that employees will have free parking, and its lackluster support for transit. If Boeing had been pro-transit from the beginning and tried to provide non-car alternatives for most of its employees and not located its plants in such isolated areas, the region would have turned out much differently, more like Germany.

    3. We’re not saying there should be a one-seat ride or express bus from Totem Lake to Northgate. We’re saying there should be something from Totem Lake to a transit hub, and from there to Seattle and Northgate. And there will be a thing, 405 Stride. Unfortunately it doesn’t connect in Kirkland to a Seattle-bound bus, but it does connect in Bellevue to the Blue Line, and from there it’s even a one-seat ride to Northgate. Or if you want to go a shorter distance, there will be a frequent bus of some sort from Totem Lake to downtown Kirkland, and from there you can get a frequent 255 or 540 successor to UW Station and then to Northgate. If Northgate were the size of downtown Bellevue then a one-seat express bus from Totem Lake/Kirkland might be in order, but it isn’t.

    4. You sound like someone who has never had a partner with a job at the same time you had a job. (You have had a job at some time, right?)

      If someone has a job in Lake Forest Park (okay, that may be an extreme example), and their partner is offered a lucrative job in Auburn (another extreme example), what should they do?

      1. I’m getting the feeling several of you are guilty as charged. You picked a home that is way out-of-the-way from your work, but like to pin the blame on your lousy commute on transit instead of yourself. Plenty of dumb people will nod in agreement with you blaming others. Not me. I’m saying you are part of the problem. Just got a job in Issaquah and are looking for an apartment in Ballard? That’s fine. Just don’t blame your horrendous commute on public transit. That’s all I’m saying.

      2. Brent, in your example, I say live wherever you want to live, but take responsibility for your choices. Don’t blame Metro and ST for there not being fast and frequent service between Lake Forest Park and Auburn.

  10. Can someone please tell me why it takes Sound Transit nine plus months to publish their annual subarea equity reports? Once the annual financial report is finalized, the subarea report should be ready for publication.

    Everything this agency does moves at a snail’s pace.

  11. Clarification, please. Card is now going to be read by a cashier or similar title…right? Is this all the Fare Inspection that The Monorail is going to have in this phase?

    Two line idea is good. Ticket buyers stand in one line. Pass-holders walk by in the other. Would make sense, but still find it hard to believe that the card readers are that hard to do.

    Golden Gardens electrified? Can’t latest model of battery coach work to a charger? Thought about advocating wire up 32nd, continuing along the Route 48 all the way to the U-District, where it’ll trail into present Route 44 wire, past 23rd and Thomas and into the present Route 7 line all the way to 62nd and Prentiss.

    Whether ridership will ever justify, compare the appearance of the Ballard I used to be able to live in against the one that’s replaced it. One more thing in my knowledge-base that needs an update: how much longer is trolley-wire going to be necessary at all to power a bus?

    Mark Dublin

  12. Why not kill two birds with one stone and make a diesel extension to GG a “44 X”? This is sort of like the the old 46 except that it would run on 45th rather than 50th and therefore attract “opportunity” riders from the 44.

    It would stop only at transfer points. Everyone hooraws about “Ballard-UW”. This would be a way to build ridership for it.

    1. Oh, and both the 44 and “44X” should go westbound on 43rd to 11th in an exclusive lane with a signal pre-emption for the right turn onto 11th, then jog over to 45th. It’d be ideal to go all the way to 7th NE, but the streets don’t line up. Unfortunately.

    2. Why not kill two birds with one stone and make a diesel extension to GG a “44 X”?

      The idea was explored in great detail up above. Short summary, it would be a waste of money.

      It would stop only at transfer points. Everyone hooraws about “Ballard-UW”. This would be a way to build ridership for it.

      What are you talking about? You mean a Ballard-UW subway? They don’t need to build ridership for it — it already has plenty of ridership (and there is no way a Ballard to UW subway would go to Golden Gardens). An express overlay would make little difference in ridership. Oh, it might make sense (during rush hour) to deal with crowding, but the big reason the 44 is so slow is not all of the stops; it is traffic *along the whole route*, as well a lot of traffic lights. Traffic in Ballard, traffic in Wallingford and traffic in the U-District. Traffic lights at almost every intersection. Yet despite all of that, it still carries around 10,000 people a day, similar to the 550.

      You might want to ponder that, for a second. The 550 is much faster and much longer than the 44, yet ridership is similar. Building East Link is much more expensive than building a Ballard to UW subway. A Ballard to UW subway could also serve Fremont, while East Link will pretty much serve exactly the same stops as the 550. If you don’t think a Ballard to UW subway makes sense, do you feel the same way about East Link?

      1. “If you don’t think a Ballard to UW subway makes sense, do you feel the same way about East Link?”

        Wait a minute, that’s the routes’ current ridership. The natural ceiling for East Link’s ridership is much higher because it connects the two highest cities and two densest subareas in the region. East Link will be a funnel for a large part of the central Eastside. The 45th corridors’ ceiling is higher than the current route but not that high, because there are only so many units in those apartments, and most of the businesses are small ground-floor retail, which don’t add up to the size of downtown Bellevue or even Factoria. The 45th corridor is also short and constrained on both ends, so you don’t have any equivalent to people coming west from eastern Bellevue to transter to Link to continue further west. The additional people north of 45th are perpendicular to the corridor.

      2. Actually, it doesn’t; not nearly. There is a bus every twelve minutes at the peaks, and I understand that Metro is going to add some trippers for overcrowding, but 10,000 people per day is simply not enough to build a subway. A tram? Sure, but it would be hard to get right of way through Central Wallingford and climbing the hill on Market might be dicey.

        And now you’ll wax eloquent about how many people would be “diverted” to U-District Station a few blocks before their bus goes express on Aurora. If the thing runs “through” from the Green Line, yes, they might be diverted, especially if they’re headed to the lower part of downtown. But it’s a long way round Robin Hood’s barn from 45th and Wallingford to Westlake and Pine via 17th Northwest.

        And “a Ballard-UW Subwaycan’t serve Fremont. A Ballard-UW tram certainly could, but a subway would be quite expensive through Fremont because it would be below water level. And if it goes to Fremont it wouldn’t connect with the 5 or whatever survives the E Line, especially if it were underground. That’s a long vertical way from 38th and Fremont Way.

        If the City won’t take parking through Central Wallingford for bus lanes and do something to get them between 4th NE and Brooklyn, it isn’t going to spend two billion on a subway. Sound Transit has made it crystal clear that Ballard-UW is not on their “wish list” so it’s on the City’s budget if it is ever to be built.

        What’s wrong with hand-rolling some BRT in the corridor by stop dieting an express overlay? You advocate that for the E-Line all the time, but it’s 20,000 riders are over a much longer line. Are you letting the good-enough be sacrificed to the perfect? Sounds like it to me.

      3. “If the City won’t take parking through Central Wallingford for bus lanes and do something to get them between 4th NE and Brooklyn, it isn’t going to spend two billion on a subway.”

        Actually it will. People are more willing to build a grade-separated subway than they are to lose parking spaces. We’re building Link now, while transit lanes on 45th and Aurora and 23rd keep getting shot down. We’re building Link to Ballard because we can’t remove the parking spaces going to Ballard.

      4. The City can not afford a Ballard-UW subway for the reasons I stated, unless the Legislature relents on tax authority.

        But the ugly truth is that unless Wallingford and Upper Fremont are completely redeveloped, there aren’t enough people in the corridor to make it worthwhile. Queue jumps across Wallingford and Upper Fremont plus some sort of elevated busway between the freeway and 15th NE would be much cheaper than the subway and “good enough”.

        The volume of buses would probably be low enough that it could be single-lane with a passing station at Roosevelt/11th. Engineering a curve into 15th would be the trickiest element, and it would be ugly. So maybe a bus tunnel there would be better, though how to get into it is not obvious. Fourth NE is higher than Fifth. And the freeway is in an even deeper trench.

        In the meantime, though, adding a limited stop “express” makes sense. Since it would have to be diesel, any extension onto Seaview would be easy and cost nothing in capital expense.

      5. 10,000 people per day is simply not enough to build a subway.

        OK, so then you are basically saying that East Link is a waste of time. Again, that is what makes it a ridiculous argument. East Link is fine. It will do OK. I expect ridership to exceed that of the 550, by a wide margin.

        But the same is obviously true of a Ballard to UW subway. It is the same dynamic. Better speed will get a lot more riders. If anything, you would see a greater increase, just because the speed gain is so much higher. In the middle of the day, the 550 is pretty darn fast. It goes on the freeway. The 44 is the opposite. It is still stuck at traffic lights, or stuck behind typical midday traffic. The 44 goes in the city, while the 550 has a large gap where there are no riders (on the freeway). There are simply a lot more trips that can be done in a given time. To top it all off, building the Ballard to UW line would be much cheaper. I’m not saying that ridership on it would exceed that of East Link, but it is quite possible that ridership per dollar would exceed it. The fact that Ballard to UW is even in the ballpark of a system that everyone just assumes should be built shows how ridiculous your argument is.

      6. And “a Ballard-UW Subway” can’t serve Fremont.

        Bullshit. Put a station on 36th, between Fremont Avenue and Aurora. It would be well above the water table. One entrance (a short escalator) would head over to 36th. Ideally the train is only a few feet below that. On the other side you exit up to the top of 36th. You would have to do some work to add the bus stops for Aurora, but it wouldn’t be too hard. This would be a very expensive station, but it would pay off, because it would serve both the heart of Fremont *and* riders from Aurora. The transfer would not be ideal, but not that much different than ones at Roosevelt or U-District Station, and probably a lot better than UW or Mount Baker Station. The point is, people would definitely transfer to it if they are headed to the UW, as it would save a considerable amount of time over the always-slow 44.

      7. What’s wrong with hand-rolling some BRT in the corridor by stop dieting an express overlay? You advocate that for the E-Line all the time, but it’s 20,000 riders are over a much longer line.

        It isn’t about the ridership, it is the nature of the line. The E is rush-hour driven. The 44 is not (ridership is spread out more evenly throughout the day). A very high percentage of the E riders are riding a long ways and are headed to downtown. A much smaller percentage of people on the 44 are doing something similar. The E runs on an expressway, in its own lane most of the time. A high percentage of the time is spent stopped for riders. The 44 is often stuck in traffic, or stuck at traffic lights. A much smaller percentage of the trip is spent waiting for riders. The E runs on a highway that is multiple lanes the entire way. This means that a bus can easily pass the other bus. A lot of the route of the 44 is one lane (one direction) making it harder to pass (people often use the middle turn lane, but I don’t know if a bus would be willing to do that). That means it would be more likely to bunch.

        But the main issue is that first one. Both the E and the 44 run every ten minutes in the middle of the day. But the E runs every 4 minutes (peak direction) during rush hour. The 44 runs at most every 8 minutes. Now assume that it costs just as much to run an express as a regular bus. In the case of the E, you could run the express every 8 minutes. The other bus would still come by every 8 minutes. In the case of the 44, someone waiting for a regular bus would have to wait 16 minutes.

        In general, express buses are really only a good value when the main bus runs very frequently and a lot of riders can save a lot of time with it. Neither is the case with the 44. Oh, and the E actually does have an express (of sorts) in the 301.

      8. The E also operates on a wide road with some miles of dedicated lanes. The streets the 44 operates on are mostly too narrow to ever get it dedicated lanes.

        The 44 also serves a corridor street, so it doesn’t serve the heart of Fremont or a few other places you could go with a subway.

      9. If you lined Aurora with parking lanes, then it, too would not have room for dedicated bus lanes. The problem isn’t the width. The problem is the political inertia and the Seattle Process that allows organized special interests to trump the public interest, even when we elect officials on the side of the public interest.

        Purely and simply: The City needs to ban parking on streets with major bus routes, and let those bus routes have dedicated pathways end-to-end.

  13. Here’s a Seattle Times reprint of the Amtrak dining car story. “The new dining options are part of Amtrak’s larger vision for long-distance trains.” (meaning refurbishment) There will be a sleeper-only dining car with “no white linens”, or sleepers can get meals delivered to their room. Coach passengers can get plain meals brought to them, or eventually the premium meals in the cafe car.

    “The change … is driven by the desire to save money and lure a younger generation of new riders — chiefly, millennials known to be always on the run, glued to their phones and not particularly keen on breaking bread with strangers at a communal table.”

    Meeting new people at meals and learning new things was one of the highlights of my Amtrak trips. In the coach seats and observation car you’re with people but don’t talk to anybody except your seatmate, and it’s less in-depth than in the dining car.

    “These travelers say the dining car is iconic to the rail experience. While it has changed over the decades, becoming more casual with the transition from fancy china to disposable plastic plates and bowls, it remains a favorite of many.”

    There must have been a reversion at some point because when I rode between several times 1998 and 2009 there were real plates and silverware if I remember. Not fancy china, but not paper plates and plastic forks either. I noticed that because I was expecting flimsy disposable utensils and was glad they didn’t have them. So maybe they went to disposable twice. The article doesn’t say anything about compostable so I’m not sure how we got to that topic.

    “For now, the changes are only on Amtrak’s one-night routes on the East Coast.” It lists several routes and dates, but none of them are the Coast Starlight or Empire Builder.

    Re the end of the parlor car, I found this article. It ended on February 2019, and was apparently unique to the Coast Starlight. I never saw it because it was for sleeper passengers only. I asked some people in the dining car what it was like and whether it was as luxurious as advertised. They said there’s movies there but not much else. The comments say it was an old legacy car that finally reached the end of its life.

    1. About 3/4 of the way down this page:
      you will find a few comparison photos that show what the cars looked like after the 1990s era remodeling. Most of the photos on the page are from the one remaining car from Santa Fe’s 1956 order that was not rebuilt.

      At least two of the cars are going to be used as part of Santa special trains in Michigan in December.

      With only 5 of this car type in the fleet, you can understand why Amtrak would want to sell them off. Even if you have to custom machine a part for one of the Superliners, there is a fleet of several hundred of those so the cost per car isn’t that much. This isn’t the case when dealing with a specialty fleet of only 5 cars.

  14. Re: the highway funding restrictions

    Now, all we need is to ban using highway funds from building more highways. No more fossil fuel infrastructure, please!

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