King County Water Taxi Seattle
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This is an open thread.

47 Replies to “News roundup: outer counties”

  1. I wonder if a connection between the Kitsap Fast ferry and the WSDOT ferry could actually get you from downtown Seattle to Edmonds in less time than connecting between the 512 and community transit buses.

    1. Back around 2012 or so when SoundRunner was operating, I looked into doing that very thing because it was faster. It was only once a day at the time I was looking at, so I wound up not using it.

      Today, the 130 has OK-ish connections with the E, and while the E is slow it at least is frequent. It still takes an hour and a half or so – unless Sounder is running.

  2. I am so excited for Northgate Link, it’ll be the last major inner-city transit project for a few decades until WS/Ballard.

    1. There’s also the Judkins station in 2023 but Northgate link will be the last multiple station segment in Seattle proper. Not sure if 145th st as part of Lynnwood Link counts since it’s right at the city limits. Also I thought I read somewhere about 130th being expedited and maybe done as part of Lynnwood link instead of 2031.

      1. Yeah, 130th and 145th will be significant changes for the city, but not really the same thing as Northgate Link. With Northgate Link, there will lots and lots of people who can quickly get from one part of the city to the other, just by walking to a subway stop.

        130th and 145th are mainly about integrating the trains with the buses. This in turn will greatly improve the bus system. So it is kind of a different thing.

        I happen to live in the north end, in Pinehurst, and my experience is a good example. I can take the 41 right now to downtown, but it is horribly slow in the evening. Getting to Capitol Hill is a big pain. I can catch a bus to the U-District, but it only runs every half hour, unless I want to go through a terrible transfer. Northgate Link should change all that.

        But it will still be hard to get to anywhere in the west. If I’m headed to Bitter Lake, Greenwood or Ballard, I’ll just drive. The station at 130th will change that. There will be a frequent bus that connects Lake City with Bitter Lake, which in turn means it will be much easier for me to access anywhere on Aurora, or Greenwood Avenue. If the network is done well, I could head to Ballard on a bus the same way I would if I was driving — over 130th, then south. Northgate should dramatically improve the rail system, while the stations at 130th and 145th could dramatically improve the bus network.

    2. Is the a subconscious observation that Madison and Delridge BRT projects as well as the Center City Connector aren’t really that significant?

      1. With how watered down BRT will end up, it’s hardly a big deal. Center City Connector is pretty cool but not as earth-shattering as Northgate link will be.

      2. After Northgate Link, Madison BRT is the Seattle transit project I’m most excited about. Right now, traffic on Madison can crawl so badly that I’ll get off the bus and walk instead.

        As RossB observes, aside from its direct benefits, I’m hopeful that once people see it in action, Madison BRT may help grow support for BRT in other corridors throughout the city. (fingers eternally crossed for real BRT on Market/45th St)

        It is dismaying, and symptomatic of a lot of the problems with infrastructure in the United States, that it will have taken roughly a decade just to plan, design, and build a single bus line.

      3. Downtown-only or downtown+adjacent lines aren’t very significant because they’re so short that they’re irrelevant to most people’s trips. Painting Third Avenue red would benefit every route on Third Avenue and thus the entire city. The D benefits everyone in north-central Seattle. UW Station (poorly) benefits everyone in northeast Seattle. The CCC benefits only people going to one mile of First Avenue. The G benefits only people going to First Hill or Madison Valley. Those are just smaller areas geographically and in the number and variety of destinations. The G is important locally to address an especially bad transit problem in a core jobs center, but it doesn’t have the citywide or regionwide significance that a line reaching more of the city does.

      4. That Madison stub will be the most rider mile subsidized transportation line in the state. We’re going to need annual billion dollar initiatives to keep in operation

    3. I am so excited for Northgate Link, it’ll be the last major inner-city transit project for a few decades until WS/Ballard.


      Is the a subconscious observation that Madison and Delridge BRT projects as well as the Center City Connector aren’t really that significant?

      Delridge is nice, but I wouldn’t call it BRT. It is one of the many incremental improvements that are occurring throughout the city. It is like when the 41 went from 15 minute frequency to 10. It makes a difference, but it isn’t earth shattering.

      Madison BRT is different because it is BRT, and a completely different route. Not only will it be a huge improvement in speed, but it has the potential to shake up the routes in the area. The routes in the greater Central Area (which includes Capitol Hill) are pretty much the same as they have always been. The one station between the UW and downtown (Capitol Hill) didn’t change them, nor will Judkins Park. But Madison BRT should change them. A fast bus running every six minutes to downtown on a major corridor could lead to a much better network (something that basically resembles a grid).

      Madison BRT could also change the way that folks look at BRT. RapidRide ruined the brand. Those buses aren’t particularly fast, and they certainly aren’t “a subway with rubber tires”. If Madison BRT actually does what it is supposed to do — if it moves as fast as the experts say it will — then it should change the way people look at BRT, in the same way that people look at light rail around here. If you ask someone about light rail, they will inevitably say “it is fast”, when , of course, there are plenty of rail lines throughout the world that are slow.

      Which brings me to the streetcar. The CCC is a stupid project, and will fail because it is an inferior mode for the area, and has a terrible route. It is probably less of an improvement to the system than Delridge or Roosevelt RapidRide (even though it will cost a lot more).

      1. I actually think CCC is a good project, not a world-changing project by itself, but a solid one. Cost overruns aside, costs aren’t in the same ballpark as Link, and even with years of delays, it should open many years sooner than the second downtown Link tunnel. Connecting the First Hill and SLU lines that already exist with the same mode seems intuitively reasonable… even though both of those lines are admittedly flawed. An imperfect system can still have a lot of value.

        Surface lines are generally weak for going a long distance fast, but they’re not really so bad for a short distance, because there is no circulation time down to a station and then back up. That station access time is a high proportion of the overall trip time for trips within downtown, of which there are many. CCC will serve a corridor that is full of tourists, cultural attractions, the ferry terminal, Pike Place Market, and a lot of shops, businesses and residences, and that whole zone will only become more attractive as the waterfront is massively upgraded and more is built.

        People like riding on streetcars / trams all over the world; they make transit visible and legible and self-advertising, and they are roomy, accessible, smooth and comfortable. Speed is not the only important value . Dedicated ROW helps performance and CCC will have a lot of that. I think CCC will be seen as a real asset once it’s open, and I could imagine it catalyzing upgrades to the existing flawed segments.

      2. Pretend the streetcar is a bus route. Is it a good one? No, it is terrible. If it was a bus route, it would have been rerouted (or killed) a long time ago. Will connecting it make it much better? No.

        Does it have a lot more capacity than our buses (like some streetcars)? No. Does it have every disadvantage of streetcars? Yes.

        So, basically it is a terrible route, and an inappropriate mode. It also costs a lot, and locks us into the mode (we can’t easily run the streetcars somewhere else). It is like buying a jet plane and then driving it down to Tacoma, hoping that everyone will ride it, because “lots of people like planes”.

    4. A decade to a decade and a half for WS/Ballard, lest you believe the political battles for tunnels will push out completion for a few decades.

      Also the Roosevelt University district stop is due in a year or two, which is major for it will allow link access to the University District proper unlike the UW campus.

      1. When I said “Northgate Link” I meant the entire line from U-Dist, Roosevelt, and Northgate. The station on 45th in particular is going to be a game changer for a lot of people, arguably as significant as Capitol Hill station, making even Wallingford an easier trek for many people. University link was only two stations but the impact was enormous.

      2. Yeah, once again I agree with barman. All three stations are great, but the U-District one is poised to be the most important station outside of downtown. It wouldn’t shock me if it passes Westlake for most riders in our system.

      3. “The station on 45th in particular is going to be a game changer for a lot of people, …”

        Amen to that. It’s just sad that it will have taken an additional 15 years to get this Sound Move station when this segment does indeed open.

    5. Lynnwood and FW will significantly change how buses circulate through the downtown core, as CT, PT, and most ST routes disappear from Seattle. So the projects are outside Seattle but will profoundly impact the look and feel of downtown transit and will allow for changes within Seattle, such as the DSA’s reimagining of 3rd Ave.

      East Link should get some credit for facilitating the doubling of frequency between Northgate and the ID, and a boosting peak capacity even more with 4 car trains.

      1. All of this is true but they are tertiary benefits compared to the complete restructuring of the entire northern half of the city that Northgate Link will facilitate. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited for East Link too and I know it’s going to be huge for a lot of people who live/work on the eastside. Maybe I’ll start going to Bellevue once it opens, who knows.

      2. That gets to what I wrote earlier. Lynnwood Link will have a huge impact on the bus system. Northgate Link will have a huge impact for those who want to hop on a train and quickly be in another neighborhood.

        As for Third Avenue, there is no reason to wait. What makes the most sense in 5 years makes the most sense now. Make Third Avenue one way. Take two lanes, and run them the other way, but only for buses (contraflow). Then do the same with either Second or Fourth Avenue. Just like that you have a 24-hour transit mall, right through the heart of the city. Buses can pass buses, and none of them ever deals with a car. OK, once in a blue moon someone will go the wrong way, just like someone occasionally goes the wrong way on any one-way street. But most days, the buses go very fast through the heart of the city (especially if we adopt off-board payment through there).

        It is worth noting that most of the north end express buses go on 4th and 5th, while 3rd handles mostly city buses. That means that after Lynnwood Link, it is 4th and 5th that will have a lot fewer buses, while 3rd will still have the C, D, E, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 13, 15, 17, 18, 19, 24, 26, 27, 28, etc. What it won’t have is the 41 though. That will go away with Northgate Link.

  3. CAHSR was doomed from the start due to choosing to route it through the central valley and add stops in what is effectively flyover country. They should have built HSR between Los Angeles and San Francisco, with exactly zero stops in between. Those two city pairs have the travel demand to support HSR, while no one would want to travel to Bakersfield or Fresno. Ok, not zero, but not enough ridership to support HSR.

    1. Once you have tracks running between Los Angeles and San Francisco anyway, the marginal cost of adding a few stops in between is not that much, and long as there aren’t so many of them that they bloat travel time. Fresno may not may enough people to justify the cost of the tracks, but it does have enough people to justify the cost of a station, once the tracks are already there.

      Rather, the problem with CAHSR is that they started in the middle of nowhere, ending up with a mostly useless line unless the whole thing gets built. What they should have done is started with the big cities, so that, even if it never goes all the way, at least they have a useful commuter line that would generate a lot of ridership.

    2. If you are going between LA and SF, you go through the central valley. It’s on the way. And if you are going through the valley, it makes sense to add stops. You can still have express runs that don’t make those stops.

      CAHSR did not have enough money to build the whole SF/LA route, and the reason wasn’t stops in the valley (which became the initial segment because it was cheaper) but the high expense of upgrading the sections near both major cities.

    3. I still can’t believe that the Bakersfield-Palmdale-Burbank connection isn’t the first priority for CAHSR. It’s the part that is most needed!

    4. The problems with CAHSR were Jeff Morales, the CV opposition, dependence on federal grants and a mess of unrealistic expectations.

      Morales wasn’t smart enough to realize the importance of having the land in hand before putting out contracts, and was way to reliant on outside contractors. The Central Valley had too much oppositional political power in Jeff Denham, McCarthey and gang to influence legislation against the project. Time constraints and required usages of fed grants limited the flexibility in how to go about building the system. And finally, too many foreign influences early on that didn’t understand California’s fault dynamics and the associated cost, the lack of urban rail infrastructure in California and the lack of US legal and political understanding.

    5. A five-hour train trip can afford to stop once an hour or so for a couple minutes. The Central Valley is not empty like central Washington. Bakersfield’s metro population is 840K (close to San Francisco or south King County); the city population is 320K. Fresno’s metro population is 973K; city 528K (what Seattle was in mid 1990s). The northern LA suburbs and southern Bay Area suburbs probably have that many people each. The largest comparable metro in Washington after Pugetopolis and Portland/Vancouver is Spokane at 574K; city 217K — half the size.

    6. With the money at hand they would have been stuck with a dangling line with no endpoints if they had only included LA and SF. At least now they can put temporary endpoints in places like Bakersfield and Merced as more money becomes available. Also, to run a non-subsidized system as required by prop 1A, a SF-LA direct route would have required 300mph trains in order to compete with air service. 400+ miles between endpoints is less than ideal for 220mph systems to draw ridership. Also, California has spent significant amounts of money on urban components. 2+ billion for SJ-SF, 1+ billion for LAUS, 2+ billion for ACE, and with much more to come.

      1. Even if starting with a major city would have resulted in much fewer miles before running out of money, it at least would be all useful miles. If nothing else, you end up with a good commuter line. For examine, imagine if CAHSR started in San Francisco and ran out of construction money around Palo Alto. Then, you just run commuter trains between San Francisco and Palo Alto, and it would likely be a big upgrade over the slow CalTrain.

        My understanding is that the CalTrain suffers many of the problems that Sounder does, where having to share the track with freight trains effectively precludes more frequency without billions of dollars in track upgrades. If a stub of HSR is what it takes to get the boring old CalTrain running every 15 minutes, rather than once per hour, that’s still a huge deal.

      2. But like I said, Caltrains is spending 2 billion to add HSR (110mph MAX possible speed) along the Peninsula. Not much else can be done here.
        Likewise, LAUS is getting a billion to add pass thru tracks to the station and do some at grade fixes. Not a lot else can be done here either.

      1. Don’t like to make a judgment of my own based on compound hearsay like this.

        And as both a former public employee union-member and a current taxpayer, really don’t like to see a dispute go public between people who ought to consider themselves union brothers and sisters. If you’ve ever worn either a transitworker’s or a police officer’s uniform, you won’t think the family term among the services is anything to sneer at.

        But precisely because I really support the ORCA system by it’s full name- “One Regional Card For All” – from the information given here I think everybody, and agency, involved in this controversy expensively missed a chance to let the card work to its max advantage.

        Any hint that my ORCA card was faulty, I would’ve immediately turned it in at the Base, and not left without another one provably in working condition. And before going off duty filed an incident report, for which I would have been paid. And if unsure what the law really required – I still don’t know-, shown my license as demanded, noting also intent to file a grievance.

        I’m curious: after being shown a uniformed officer’s badge, would I have the right to see deputy’s driver’s license? But here’s my main point on this score. As a transit operator, however real the provocation, I’d approach the matter as a disagreement with a fellow public employee. Which should have been prime sense for every uniformed public employee on-scene.

        But equally important, to me the critical characteristic of the ORCA card itself should be a systemwide across-the-board interagency agreement that possession of a pre-paid card is all the proof any passenger, including employees, requires.

        Because one precedent I will never accept, or willfully let stand, is for apportionment of internal or interagency revenue to become a matter for the police. Sorry Macy’s doesn’t want my business anymore, because I never could feature them sending me to District Court for mistaken payment at the wrong store.

        If I still had my CDL, officer, here it’d be. I’m proud of it. No need to show me yours. To me your badge says it all. Where I last got on or off, to tell the truth I forget. Where does your reader say I “tapped” last and how long ago? Forty minutes? By the rules if it’d been a single fare I’d be fine, wouldn’t I?

        But thanks for the reminder. Because from the beginning, like Transit itself and any union member connected with it, One Regional Card For All is something of mine.

        Mark Dublin

      2. Mark I love you but police officers are not, nor have they ever been, in solidarity with any union other than their own. In fact their very reason of existing is to oppose the unions.

    1. this really highlights the absurdity of needing to tap at all if you have a monthly or employer-sponsored pass. somehow we’ve allowed ST to criminalize not turning over a data point. it’s not like holders of these passes are stealing from the public. their trips have been paid for regardless of whether or not they tap.

      1. somehow we’ve allowed ST to criminalize not turning over a data point

        Well put. It is absurd. It is another example of the problem when you have multiple agencies, instead of just one. If it was Metro, they wouldn’t care. If the entire system was run by ST, they wouldn’t care. But because you may have paid for a bus ride on Metro, and now are riding an ST train, the folks in charge want to know.

        The easiest way to fix things is to do simple statistical analysis, and then allocate the money accordingly. Another alternative is to have the agencies just sit down and agree on how much each one gets from each pass. That would be better, as agencies would be better able to predict their revenues. It’s not rocket science.

      2. barman, thanks for the chance to caution all my readers, so they don’t have to find out for themselves, the danger of, with advancing years, becoming an Old Character.

        Wish I could do a better imitation, but when I joined 587 in my mid-to-late thirties, was always grateful for personages like the man in his sixties who swore me into the Union. Wish I could remember his name.

        Or that this afternoon I couldn’t do a better impersonation of his admonition of the thoughts I was trying just now to imitate: for workers to have any chance, Solidarity is everything, starting with where it can exist but doesn’t yet.

        Also – in the name of necessary human sentiments that should exist but don’t, goes without saying that no worker ever just lets pass a breach of honor, especially manners, from another one.

        The treatment the operator got, no way it’s to be let pass without some justice. Considering some major realities of this particular time, nobody’s doing a policeman any favors by submission to abuse. Mood everybody’s in, manners should be Self Defense from page 1.

        But just to play along with the old character I’m playing, nobody truly pro-union should miss a chance to deal with another worker with at least an effort at Solidarity. Especially with your junior by seniority, you never know when just by being yourself you can bring somebody over.

        With me and the fare inspectors, really could be an age thing, but also some shared experience. For six months end of 2010, I did some contract work for Sound Transit that involved a lot of train-riding. Job description put me in no position to snitch on individual workers- only wrote up agencies, often as possible on request of workers.

        My years in the driver’s seat counted- said yesterday or day before what I think about “Off The Street” hiring for anything transit-related. Should be a misprint for “Off The Seat.”

        Point I keep repeating about One Regional Card for All: Somebody ought to poll fare inspectors, and publish the results, about the criminality of the work-time stolen by having to cite somebody who’s “tapped” a completely paid-up pass the wrong number of times. Lot of violators get away while you’re distracted.

        But to finish up, at this exact point in history I’m not talking masochistic sentimentality. However you define labor, its Movement needs to be life-and-death preoccupation now. PRECISELY because its, and our, worst enemy has made a lifetime study of deliberately provoked interpersonal division.

        So when you’re writing your grievance against mistreatment, unless your attorney forbids, might be good to cc the person on whom you’re writing it. Just to practice the habit of mind.

        Mark Dublin

      3. Might want to calculate in how much Center City Connector will add to the value of the two existing streetcar segments it’ll bring together into a very appealing streetcar ride.

        The kind of experience Seattle’s travel-mag advertising would like to include in reasons to visit the city. Look at it as a leisurely morning or afternoon shopping stroll with steel wheels and seats.

        Mark Dublin

      4. “Criminalize not turning over a data point” would be over-tolerant assessment of my stupid attempt at imitating an elderly perspective. What I get for being too cheap to give The Seattle Times its money for today’s paper.

        Mike Carter, The Seattle Times, 10/3/2019. Page 9?

        If it’s a tenth true, no friendly professional grievance to be amicably settled here.

        We’re talking gang violence that would convert average National Public Radio warning about “get ready to faint someplace soft because it’s a war” into a loud piercing scream.

        Mea maxima culpa at my most pathetic: I was thinking of our Fare Inspectors, whom over the years I really have come to view as fellow transitworkers. Different workforce.

        Would like the apology I owe to focus on something else: Some effort of mine to take a fare completely paid in advance entirely out of the criminal justice system. Sadly, my allotted years have left me only a laptop for a weapon. Pen really would be mightier.

        So somebody who knows the web and interagency spite at its worst: What’s my first move in the necessary fight to make a pass a pass?

        Mark Dublin

  4. Hooray for Columbia Street opening in a few months. I hope they can swing it by January. Ridership seems to have taken a serious beating on West Seattle bus routes this year, due to the unreliability and long transit times. I was amazed to get a seat on the C Line last night at 5:10 downtown but then eventually realized why it’s less crowded than it used to be last year: the ride is terrible. I got to the Alaska Junction, a mere 5.3 miles away, almost an hour later, after slogging through stop and go traffic on 2nd, Holgate, 1st, the WSB, Avalon, 35th, and Alaska. It took about twice as long as it took before the viaduct came down. Most of the way on 2nd and 1st and the WSB I watched opportunistic car drivers go up the empty neighboring lanes to cut into the safe stopping distance our bus or others maintained, creating the very gridlock that kept holding us back. Some people even got stuck blocking Avalon bc they tried to wedge around us at the first bus stop to get to the stopped traffic a few cars lengths ahead. SDOT has utterly crushed WS bus riders all year, and it’s no wonder many have switched to faster, more reliable ways to commute. Very disappointing that they’ve not maintained decent bus routes through the viaduct and Avalon/35th demolitions. Even the new northbound traffic pattern on 99 seems worse in the mornings, now that the bus lane begins immediately at the ramp from WSB: it causes a bottleneck there that paradoxically delays buses far more than they were delayed when the bus lane only began close to downtown on 99.

  5. How does Metro decide when to remove or add bus shelters? The southbound shelter by Lake Forest Park town center (by Starbucks) was removed recently. Was the shelter transferred to a busier stop? It was 1 of the shelter’s that had local art inside, so that doesn’t really make sense though. And I can’t think of any repair work that would require removing the entire shelter rather than sending someone out to it.

  6. I ran across this very interesting online map: It can show the population density of any place in the world. It doesn’t do that in great detail, but it gives you an opportunity to compare cities in different countries. One of the really cool features is a graph for each city. The lines are drawn so that it includes just about everything that would be considered the city (like the MSA, if not the CSA). The great thing is that they don’t try and boil it down into one meaningless statistic (people per square kilometer). Instead, they have the number of people in each grouping. This is basically a summary of what you see on the map, but in greater detail. You can see how many people live in each level of density.

    The results are kind of surprising. For example, Mexico City and New York City are pretty much unique in North America. They have lots of people in very dense areas. Even a city like Toronto — which has plenty of people in densely populated areas — still has a lot more in lower density areas. Anyway, that little summary doesn’t do it justice. I think it is fascinating what it reveals about cities throughout the world.

  7. There is a big focus on bus signal priority. But for human traffic directors, like after a Seahawks game, it doesn’t seem like any additional thought is given to buses, and they’ll stop the flow where they stop it, even if the next vehicle coming is a bus that’s 8 minutes late, and it just needs to get one block over to get to the dedicated busway.

    Is it reasonable to have instructions for directors to always allow the next one through if the next one is a bus? Obviously they also have long lines of cars to move, but a bus is like a long line of cars except that the whole thing moves at once. It seems like it’s not a priority because no one ever talks about it.

  8. If you’d like to know how our tax structure affects planning…

    It came from a conversation I had with a supporter of Eastside Freight, which actively operates from Snohomish to Woodinville. They have support from Snohomish County for an active rail corridor, including passenger rail.

    However, this person noted that the City of Woodinville is hostile to that idea. However, since there is a business in Woodinville that uses the services of the freight rail company, they can not rip out the track as they would like.

    But, there’s always zoning to keep things going their way.

    Looking at this zoning map, noting the gray areas are zoned Industrial.
    Note the purple area along the Little Bear Creek Pkwy.
    The zoning designation is “Auto/General Commercial”. It is currently industrial, and this zoning precludes any business currently there from expanding in that location

    What the City of Woodinville wants is MORE CAR DEALERSHIPS.
    (Biggest tax revenue is from the sale of cars)

    These municipalities really don’t give a rat’s ass about transit. (Look at the uproar about ST taking parking away from the Yakima Fruit Stand in Bothell).
    Forget priority, queue jumps (do I sound jaded?), etc.

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