60 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Bus Lane in Action”

  1. In the video they show three buses go by in 7 seconds (platooning?). That would be over 1,500 buses an hour. At 70 buses per hour the video would have to be twice as long to see one bus. The passenger count is capacity for the buses and number of vehicles for the cars; another way to skew results. A bus lane is really only effective if there are no in lane stops. And lights/crosswalks really slow things down because of the need to stop for passengers even if the light is green and the longer time needed for buses to navigate an intersection. Red paint is no substitute for the fine bus tunnel this city once had.

    1. Bus lanes are always beneficial. Even if traffic is relatively light, bus lanes still help.

      Look at the D and E line, for example, where the bus lane is peak only and, at all other times, after every bus stop requires additional waiting for a driver to let the bus in.

      Another example. Just last week, I was walking down the Ave. and watched a crush loaded #45 stop and wait for a car in front of it to parallel park. 20 seconds later, the car parked and the bus started moving, only to see the light at 45th at. slam red in it’s face. The end result is that the movements of a single car parallel parking delayed 60+ people on a bus by about 2 minutes. Maybe more, considering that every stop up the route is going to be a bit more crowded, due to the inevitable laws of bus bunching.

      Later, when the 45 reaches Aurura, you again finding yourself wishing for a bus lane. A mere two cars waiting for the red light prevents the from from opening it’s doors until the light turns green and all the cars in front of the bus move out of the way. This is exactly the timing to make it so, when the bus is ready to start moving again, the light turns red.

    2. Oops, looks like I made a new post instead of a reply re: my correction on the numbers below (adjusted for time lapse). asdf2, I’m not saying bus lanes don’t help, they do. But they aren’t a panacea. Depending on how they are done they are still subject to the delay of right turning cars. And unless there are dedicated turnouts at every stop the biggest hang up is waiting for other buses to load/unload; the inevitable bunching/platooning that you mention.

      Regarding the video and the skewed statistics, what should really be counted is the throughput of people (not bus capacity) before and after a GP lane is changed to transit only. Of course if it’s parking that was converted to a bus lane the equation is different. You’d have to look at the numbers of creating a third GP land vs the bus lane (like on 45th where parking is not allowed at certain times.

      1. Depending on how they are done they are still subject to the delay of right turning cars.

        Generally speaking, people refer to lanes that include right turning cars as BAT lanes, and lanes that can only include buses as bus-only lanes.

      2. But in reality true bus only lanes exist in limited (i.e. zero) access areas, like on bridges. You can’t cut off local business access and for the most part right turns are always going to be allowed at each intersection. Like on SR522 there’s “bus only” until you get to a place where right turns are allowed. An advantage of one way streets is that you only have the turn issue half as often. The right turn issue is really only a major issue where pedestrian traffic is heavy (like DT and around Bellevue Square). If there’s not a dedicated turn arrow then only one left turning vehicle gets through.

      3. BAT lanes definitely outnumber bus lanes. But there are some, scattered around in various places. In downtown, they are most common with contraflow routes. Fifth Avenue is a good example. That is why I like contraflow lanes so much. There are issues though. If you only have one lane, then buses can’t easily pass buses. With a regular BAT (or bus) lane, you sometimes have a situation where a bus will simply leave the BAT lane and go in the general purpose lane to pass another bus. You can’t do that with a single contraflow lane. It is almost like a streetcar — if one is stuck, the others pile up behind it. (It isn’t quite so bad, at least a bus in a contraflow lane can go in the other lane, the way a car would on a two lane road).

        The reason there are so many BAT lanes, and so few bus lanes is because buses need to be on the right lane, and that is how drivers take a right as well. Even that can be fixed though. You can have drivers take a right from the second to right lane. That requires special signaling though, which can mess up cross traffic.

        This is why people like center running buses. That way buses can operate without any traffic. Left turns are restricted (as they often are) so the bus runs in their own lane. It is expensive (you have to build the stops, sometimes widen the street, add special signalling, buy special buses, etc.) but it can pay off. It is often the best you can do, short of digging a tunnel. You still have buses waiting for a traffic light (which can be mitigated with signal priority systems), but otherwise it is smooth sailing.

        Center running will work fine on Madison because it is unlikely there will be any bus bunching. Even with the buses running every six minutes, it should be OK. On Third Avenue, on the other hand, there are a lot more buses, and buses passing buses is critical. That is why contraflow makes a lot more sense there.

      4. center running buses. That way buses can operate without any traffic. Left turns are restricted (as they often are) so the bus runs in their own lane. It is expensive (you have to build the stops, sometimes widen the street, add special signalling, buy special buses, etc.)

        Center running definitely has some advantages. If they are dedicated bus lanes then you can use regular buses and drive on the “wrong side” of the road; like they do at Bellevue TC. Center platforms are good for transfers if the bus both stop there. DT Seattle I’ve encountered a lot of skip block routing which would involve crossing traffic three times (once to leave center, one at the cross street and again to get back to the center. Or, I guess the intersection could use a scramble which is pretty efficient for high pedestrian areas. The “stops” would have to have access the whole length of the block though. The drawback of course is the extra width required. Unless you can put the existing sidewalks on a diet then it requires at least another full lane width so you’re taking three or four lanes for transit but only using two for vehicles.

    3. Grade separation or signal pre-emption is always better, as anybody who has every compared a subway ride with a surface train or bus has noticed. Transit must make stops, and that means it has to wait for at least one light signal when it gets going again. This puts it at an intrinsic disadvantage to cars, which don’t make stops and can drive through most of the lights if they’re at the speed limit. That’s why I’m a big fan of grade separation. Cities with a lot of grade-separated transit have major advantages over cities that only have a little or none.

      1. That’s pretty much my point; no amount of red paint is going to return DT transit to the level it enjoyed by building the bus tunnel. Link has great numbers but the impact on the county wide transit system has had some major negatives. That’s particularly aggravating give the huge amount of tax revenue consumed.

      2. That’s pretty much my point; no amount of red paint is going to return DT transit to the level it enjoyed by building the bus tunnel.

        Maybe not transit *within downtown*, but for the region, Link is likely to be better. To be clear, the bus tunnel could handle way more buses than it did. It helps that the buses can pass buses, and the bus stops can handle a lot of buses. It would have made a lot more sense to have off board payment and level boarding for the buses. Do all that, and yeah, we could have carried a huge number of riders.

        But there are other issues. Buses run in the express lanes just fine, but bog down on the main line. Years ago, this was less of an issue. There just wasn’t much “reverse commuting”. But the mainline of I-5 southbound from Northgate to downtown in the afternoon is often much worse than the mainline heading the other way. The tunnel didn’t connect well with significant parts of the city, like First Hill and Capitol Hill, while the train at least connects to one of them. The tunnel largely served the freeways, which means that they were geared towards express service to downtown . It did nothing for connecting those places. To get from Northgate to Capitol Hill is very slow. Link will help fix that.

        Bus tunnels (or busways) and subways each have their advantages. Jarrett Walker has a good rundown on when it makes sense to build a busway at the end of this blog post: https://humantransit.org/2009/11/brisbane-bus-rapid-transit-soars.html. Basically, they make sense if you have a trunk and branch system (a spine), especially if there is good existing bus infrastructure (e. g. a freeway with HOV lanes). That simply isn’t the case with Link. As it turns out, though, it is true for Ballard and West Seattle. They are connected to the outskirts of downtown via a throughway. There are no big destinations between those areas and greater downtown. West Seattle is very spread out, and even Ballard (with a much bigger center) has two big corridors (15th and 24th). This means that lots of riders will transfer just to go the same direction, which in turn means that many would have been better off with an open BRT system.

      3. I would also that there is red paint, and there is red paint. Two contraflow lanes on Third and two on Fourth would dramatically improve throughput. You would pretty much eliminate car traffic. People get confused with BAT lanes, or lanes with time limits on them (which make up streets like Third Avenue). But contraflow lanes with big “Do Not Enter” signs are pretty clear, and violations are rare. That means that the only vehicles going one way are buses, and you have two lanes of them, so they can pass each other. Add off board payment and level boarding, and you pretty much match the potential of the bus tunnel. You still have traffic lights, but that is a minor problem compared to what they deal with today. It would make a huge difference for riders, and wouldn’t be that expensive to implement.

      4. Two contraflow lanes on Third and two on Fourth would dramatically improve throughput.

        Good luck taking that many GP lanes for transit. Total gridlock would ensue which in the end might defeat transit gains in the DT core. My take is that the only viable option at this point is cordon congestion pricing.

      5. Bernie,

        Yep. It’s also a great way to tax the carpetbaggers from the suburbs. Few people who actually live in Seattle drive into downtown Seattle for work simply because the buses are better and much cheaper.

        Those clueless autoista cars blocking Third Avenue and mostly entitled suburbanites.

      6. I don’t know what the percentage of DT workers driving are from within the City Limits. I believe those numbers are available. I know a big driver (or detractor) of transit is time differential. If you can make the trip on transit in 30 minutes or less, and as you say the cost (and stress level) is much lower then most people are going to use transit. For people on Capitol Hill or Bell Town that’s likely the case. If you’re coming from West Seattle (that’s not a suburb) or Lake City or … then your commute via transit might be longer than someone coming from a suburban P&R. Time wise and on a cost basis using a P&R is very effective for the user (i.e. carpetbagger). Of course one other big reason suburban employees drive is their options after peak start to drop dramatically. Especially if they are relying on local transit for the last mile in the ‘burbs.

      7. “Two contraflow lanes on Third and two on Fourth would dramatically improve throughput.”

        Good luck taking that many GP lanes for transit. Total gridlock would ensue which in the end might defeat transit gains in the DT core.

        What??? Third Avenue is bus-only during rush hour. That means all four lanes are used by buses. Second Avenue has a BAT lane on the right. So does Fourth Avenue.

        Therefore, my suggestion would actually *reduce* the number of lanes used by buses. It isn’t just my idea, either. It is one of the proposals for Third Avenue, made by the Downtown Seattle Association (https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2019/06/28/downtown-seattle-association-wants-to-re-imagine-third-avenue/). Other proposals are to simply make Third Avenue a transit only street. It is not a radical idea — it wouldn’t create gridlock. If anything, general traffic flow would be better, as there would be no buses on one of the parallel streets.

        I’ve suggested the couplet be Third and Fourth (that way you don’t have to move the bike lanes on Second). That would be the cheapest. Some paint, some “Do Not Enter” signs, change a few bus signs and you are done. There are fewer general purpose lanes on Fourth, but traffic flows better. It is easier to make a right turn. You don’t have issues with buses (buses and cars never mix). Meanwhile, Second Avenue doesn’t have buses. Eventually, neither will Fifth or Sixth. The buses lanes like this (https://goo.gl/maps/hMPrNUK6hWjKdXk87) go away, as those buses go away (and are replaced by Link). General purpose traffic downtown has *more* lanes, and better flow, not worse.

        Not that it matters. It never matters. The only way to significantly reduce traffic downtown is as you mentioned, congestion pricing. Otherwise, if you take away a lane, traffic eventually is the same (bad). If you add a lane, it is the same (bad).

        My point is, a small change — which actually results in *fewer* bus lanes than currently exists — would dramatically improve bus flow for the majority of buses downtown.

      8. I didn’t realize you were replacing rather than adding bus lanes. It’s certainly worth looking at. One issue might be lack of stop space if you remove 2nd from the mix. But if buses move faster that might not be a problem. Cordon pricing would I think tend to make the vehicle make-up DT more commercial drivers which would also help. DT is not easy to navigate given the mash-up street grid, one way streets, lights switching from center of intersection to corner posts, no this during these hours, etc.

        Or ST could just replace the bus tunnel. Although I’m not sure where you could put one even if there was funding and the will to have traffic messed up during years of construction.

      9. “It’s also a great way to tax the carpetbaggers from the suburbs. Few people who actually live in Seattle drive into downtown Seattle for work simply because the buses are better and much cheaper.”

        70% of downtown commuters don’t drive SOVs. We don’t know how many of those are coming from Seattle or from the suburbs, or at least I haven’t seen any statistic. I can’t believe it’s 100% from the suburbs. I would assume that a lot of the drivers are rich enough to not care about the cost of gas or parking, or are working odd shifts where a reasonable transit alternative is not available. Seattle has rich people and shift workers too, so probably some of them drive just like their suburban counterparts.

        The main issue is not the 30% driving downtown. That’s amazingly low for most of the US and something we should be happy about. The main issue is the much higher percent of drivers at suburban job centers, and the difficulty people have getting to those locations without a car. It’s more efficient to concentrate jobs and transit downtown than in far-flung locations. That means you need lots of transit to downtown, and you’ll inevitably have suburbanites working downtown. It’s not fair to shift the blame to them for fitting into this model. The city boundaries are also arbitrary. Greenwood and Rainier Beach are in Seattle because annexations succeeded. Burien and Shoreline are outside Seattle because annexations went out of fashion. Another issue is land use in Seattle that caps the amount of housing and its locations. At the height of the growth this decade Seattle was building 9 units of housing for every 12 additional jobs. That puts us 25% behind on top of our backlog.

      10. “That’s pretty much my point; no amount of red paint is going to return DT transit to the level it enjoyed by building the bus tunnel. Link has great numbers but the impact on the county wide transit system has had some major negatives. That’s particularly aggravating give the huge amount of tax revenue consumed.”

        It’s behind temporarily because the Link lines to replace bus service to more parts of the county aren’t finished yet. The tunnel couldn’t fit buses to everywhere so it was always an arbitrary choice which lucky cities and neighborhoods would get tunnel buses. Why should Renton get it when Burien and Aurora don’t? Your argument about keeping buses in the tunnel or recreating the tunnel sounds like arguing for those neighborhoods to keep their extraordinary privilege over other neighborhoods. The conversion to Link is inevitably mixing the bowl and creating other winners and losers. But overall Link will serve more people and trips more efficiently than the tunnel buses could. Which all-day tunnel bus ever ran to Beacon Hill, Capitol Hill, Roosevelt, Highline CC, the Spring District, or Rainier Valley to the airport, much less every 10 minutes? Renton unfortunately is one of the losers, because a bus to TIB and Link can’t compete with the 101, and the 101 is now out of the tunnel. There will always be winners and losers, and we should mitigate the impacts on the losers. But the great thing about the bus tunnel was it gave some of the benefits of rail before we could have rail. And keeping the buses in the tunnel caused train delays and will be problematic when East Link starts and the number of trains double. And creating another bus tunnel for neighborhoods not on Link sounds like again privileging neighborhods that get a tunnel route over others who don’t.

      11. 9 units of housing for every 12 additional jobs. That puts us 25% behind on top of our backlog.

        That’s assuming every worker lives alone. If a typical household is 1-1/3 people we’re keeping pace. I think the last census it was slightly greater than 2 people per household. Seattle is getting younger which would probably translate to a smaller average household. OTOH, with property values/rents as high as they are I could also see the need to have a roommate drive the number up.

      12. @Ross,
        I looked at your links and didn’t see the contra flow reference. Maybe I don’t understand what conta flow means. I thought it was when you’re driving along and an on coming bus pass on your right side (i.e. like you were driving in England.

        The idea that buses are going to be reduced because we have a better subway seems bassackward. London has the tube, congestion pricing and double decker buses are so thick you could walk along their roof tops.. The rendering of the pedestrian mall is total fantasy. Maybe if Seattle was the population of Bellingham.

        Not sure about why all the hate on 3rd Ave; it’s way better than 1st Ave. But if Seattle doesn’t get serious about vagrancy laws the whole place is going to hell in a hand-basket.

      13. One issue might be lack of stop space if you remove 2nd from the mix.

        Yeah, there would be a consolidation of bus service to Third and Fourth (or Second and Third). For that reason, these changes make sense as Link expands outward. Northgate Link, East Link and Lynnwood Link all remove buses from downtown. I think the time to do it would probably be right after East Link. By then a lot of the ST and Metro expresses are removed from downtown. It is possible that CT truncates some (or all) of their buses at Northgate. If not, at worst they could run them on Fifth Avenue (since many of the express buses would be leaving there as well). Or they could simply wait until Lynnwood Link. The “Third Avenue Vision” document mentions how there will be fewer buses going downtown.

        Or ST could just replace the bus tunnel.

        Not gonna happen. I pushed for it (https://i2.wp.com/stb-wp.s3.amazonaws.com//srv/htdocs/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/WSTT-Initial-Service-Pattern.jpg) but lost. They are going to build light rail to West Seattle and Ballard instead. Some will benefit, a lot more will be worse off. It will cost a lot more, too. Oh well.

        I looked at your links and didn’t see the contra flow reference. Maybe I don’t understand what contraflow means.

        That is understandable. I was confused by the term as well. It is pretty simple, actually (not that fancy). It just means that buses run one way, while cars run the other. To cars, it is a one way street. But buses run the other direction. A good example is the sound end of Fifth Avenue (https://goo.gl/maps/szVFP97tDbYj8Zas8). Side note: I’ve looked at a lot of Google pictures of bus lanes. I’ve seen plenty of cars in them (some legal, some not). I’ve never seen a picture of a car in a contraflow lane. Those “Do Not Enter” signs are pretty clear.

        Anyway, page 32 of the DSA proposal (https://cdn.downtownseattle.org/files/advocacy/dsa-third-avenue-vision-booklet.pdf) has a section called “Transit Couplet”. It doesn’t mention the word “contraflow”, even though on Third Avenue, that is exactly what it is. The document is also in error — they show Second Avenue traffic running with regular traffic, which is silly. There should be contraflow bus service on both Second and Third (which means northbound on Second, and southbound on Third). As mentioned, I would actually pair Third and Fourth, since that would not require moving the bike lanes on Second. That means that Third Avenue would have general purpose traffic moving south only, while two lanes of buses move north. Fourth avenue would have general purpose traffic moving north only (as it does now) and two lanes of buses moving south. Another alternative (not in the document) would be to have contraflow lanes for Second and Fourth, and simply remove buses from Third. You would probably move the bike lanes to Third and reduce a lane or two there as well. All of these ideas would allow general purpose cars access to all of the streets. Traffic would flow adequately, and buses would flow very fast.

      14. The idea that buses are going to be reduced because we have a better subway seems bassackward.

        Not really. Predictions are that we will have a lot fewer buses downtown. Predictions can be wrong, of course. The reduction in bus service will come from express buses not going downtown, but truncating at a Link station. This is not the bulk of our ridership, nor is it the bulk of our buses. But during rush hour, there are a lot of express buses that won’t run downtown anymore. This is when the reduction is most welcome.

        But there will still be plenty of buses that go downtown. Within the city, pretty much every bus west of Link that runs downtown will continue to run downtown. Buses from Queen Anne, Magnolia, Ballard, Phinney Ridge, Greenwood, Aurora — and that is just from the north. That is a lot of buses, which is why I think the couplet idea is best. It allows for the best throughput (as they mention in the report).

        It could be implemented today — it would be welcome today — even if it couldn’t handle all of the buses. I think things would flow pretty well — and if not, you move a few buses to other streets (like First, Fifth, Sixth, etc.).

      15. @RossB
        Thanks for the explanation & extra links. The full DSA piece is good. Of course it’s fantasy with the pictures since blue tarps and tents don’t sell well. But the underlying traffic ideas make sense. Re-configuring lanes is not cheap and the engineering leading into the transitions is pretty complex. I can see where some of this would be good. But it’s still just a better sized band-aid to “arterial” bleeding. And if we still had the bus tunnel we paid for things would be much better.

        Re: less buses
        Not going to happen. ST has this false idea that when they put in a Link segment that vastly exceeds the passenger capacity of existing bus service they can just eliminate the buses and job done. That’s brain dead. You need way more bus service to feed the huge capacity rail creates. It’s like when we had the last recession and I argued demand would drop. One of the political appointees argued that demand would go up since people lost their jobs and would opt for cheaper transit. NO, people lose their job and they stop making trips to work. I was right and the politician running ST was wrong. We haven’t fixed that fundamental problem (i.e. the way the ST board which controls huge $$$ is chosen).

      16. “ST has this false idea that when they put in a Link segment that vastly exceeds the passenger capacity of existing bus service they can just eliminate the buses and job done.”

        What does this mean? ST is proposing a modest reduction in ST Express service hours as they’re replaced by feeders to Lynnwood, Federal Way, and Bellevue/Mercer Island. Previously ST also considered increasing the number of hours or keeping the the same. The expectation is that these feeders will be more frequent all day than the current downtown expresses, so that’s “more capacity”. There’s a debate over whether Link will really be all that much more capacity, and that it might get overcrowded at Capitol Hill and Rainier Valley. The empty-appearing trains in Lynnwood and Federal Way are just in the nature of trains: you can’t fill them at the ends or there’s not enough room for passengers in the middle. The main issue is to get all the existing bus riders onto trains that are more fuel-efficient and reliable and stop in more places, then we can expect a gradual increase after that, and we’ll see how spare capacity relates to demand. The main thing I fault ST for (besides bad station locations and design) is not planning for possible overcrowding. If that happens, ST will have to keep some express buses to downtown, from the origins furthest away from Link, so that people closer to Link can fit onto it.

        But this thread was talking about the number of buses downtown, not in the entire network. As more RapidRide lines replace a spaghetti of routes, that fits more people on fewer buses with fewer half-empty buses. As people can transfer at other Link stations outside downtown, that’s fewer people transferring downtown. As Link can sweep away the Torchlight Paraders to Shoreline and Bellevue as well as UW Station and Rainier Valley, they won’t be waiting for buses downtown. However, other passengers will replace them as the combined network gets more useful. That will happen gradually, not all immediately. All of Metro’s, CT’s, and PT’s long-range plans envision more service hours and buses. ST is not quite in the same position because Link is so different. But Stride is a big increase in bus hours even if it’s not called “ST Express”.

      17. What does this mean?

        What is means is that when you “truck in boat loads of people” to DT your going to need more buses; just like every other city in the world. But the ST board, since they are experts know that Seattle is different and spending huge amounts of public funds on fringe routes is way more important than central a city subway. Obviously, if you truck in people from far flung regions you won’t need increased bus service in the core. OY-VAY!

        Dumb and …

    4. The SLU streetcar between Westlake and Denny is the biggest example. It stops for a light every single block, in addition to the station stops every two blocks. No wonder it’s so slow. The idea that this is adequate transit and we don’t need anything better is absurd.

      1. Fact that the streetcar isn’t preempting every one of those signals is pure, sweet politics, not bad mode choice. Also, though, really hope nobody whose opinion I need to care about is calling present situation adequate.

        Mark Dublin

      2. The problem is, except for Mercer, it’s not really a matter of streetcar vs. cars. In most cases, the reason for the excessive waiting is that the diagonal crossings require a long crossing interval for pedestrians. Unless you’re prepared to ban pedestrian crossing in one of the densest, highest foot traffic neighborhoods of the city, there’s not much that can be done to speed up the streetcar.

        Similar for the first hill line, except for that, not only do pedestrians cross the streetcar tracks, but also several popular bus routes, each of which carries many more people than the streetcar does.

        For First Hill, the way to speed up the streetcar is to fix the routing and eliminate the detour to 14th. Not retime the lights to shove pedestrians under the bus

      3. The problem as @asdf2 noted with the SLU streetcar is the six way intersections south of Denny. That will always be fundamentally jammed up, signal priority or no signal priority.

        The CCC should’ve taken the C’s lead and routed streetcars down the Blanchard/Lenora couplet to 1st, while also closing off Westlake to cars entirely to unfuck the street grid.

      4. The buses don’t stop as many times as the streetcar does. My frustration is that the streetcar is slower than buses.

      5. I always felt the biggest delays with the FH streetcar were getting out of Pioneer Square and making the turns at 14th Ave. and Broadway. In the former situation, pedestrians wait times are mostly affected by car traffic. In the latter, there aren’t many pedestrians. Could we agree on signal preemption at those distinct chokepoints? I actually don’t expect what SDOT is planning with turn restrictions further up Broadway to help much.

      6. For the SLU streetcar, banning cars from that portion of Westlake is the way to go. The other lanes would make a great parallel bikeway and linear park. The City really should try it for a month as an experiment. Of course, we’d need leaders with the political guts to ban cars where it really is a no brainer, like Pike Place and 43 ST NE between the station and the UW campus.

      7. “I always felt the biggest delays with the FH streetcar were getting out of Pioneer Square and making the turns at 14th Ave. and Broadway.”

        The 14th and Broadway turns do take longer; I’ve sat through them for thirty seconds at two different intersections. Those are annoying but you get them all done at once. On Westlake it feels like stop-stop-stop-stop-stop-stop like you’ll never get moving.

      8. How about cloning the Market Street Subway? It has two levels for the portion that BART underruns Muni and then Muni continues farther west under Market. The same thing could happen under Westlake, though the station at Denny Way would be a lot more complex with two levels and different pay systems. The upper level could carry ETB’s as well as streetcars (Roosevelt BRT?). Maybe that means the 40 has to be electrified or maybe it uses hybrids with extra-big batteries.

        They could share an ingress/egress at Stewart/Olive.

        Yes the engineering would be tricky, but it’s doable.

    5. A bus lane is really only effective if there are no in lane stops.

      Nonsense. First of all, bus bunching (or platooning) isn’t the end of the world. The big drawback is that a bus might have to wait until the next bus moves out of the bus stop. This problem can be mitigated with big bus stops, like we have downtown, that can handle multiple buses. Second, there are a number of ways to reduce bus bunching (https://pedestrianobservations.com/2018/08/18/the-dynamics-of-bus-bunching/). If you don’t want to follow the math, skip to the bottom — you can reduce bunching by doing any or all of the following:

      1) Reduce dwell times. Off board payment and more doors can help quite a bit.
      2) Use bigger buses. Basically this means fewer buses (and less bunching).
      3) Reduce random variability.
      4) Dispatch buses to maintain even headways.

      There are other factors. It is rare in the U. S. for that many buses to be going along one corridor. When they do, It is typically a “spine” situation (lots of buses converging on one shared corridor — https://humantransit.org/2018/09/dublin-what-is-a-spine.html). The nature of this spine can vary. If it is really long, and there are lots of bus stops, then you have a bigger chance of bunching (this is intuitive, and clear in the formula on the bus bunching article I referenced). From what I can tell, this “spine” in L. A. is a couple miles long, with three stops. At that distance, bus bunching isn’t inevitable, even with lots of buses.

      It would be different if there was no spine (i. e. all of these buses were following the exact same end to end route). 70 buses an hour is a lot of buses serving one corridor. That is beyond the point where a train (like a streetcar) makes sense. You can save a fair amount of money by running big trains, even if they run on the street (since you can run them less often).

      There are no corridors like that in Seattle. We have plenty of spines, but nothing of that nature. That is why streetcars don’t make sense here.

      1. One drawback to ordinary buses as we understand the term: coupling them involves some complexity. But this is where driver training and experience comes in.

        If driver learns to think of their own vehicle as one machine in a line with very flexible couplers, it’s not that hard to space its location in regard to buses ahead and behind it.

        Learning takes time, but also required is some proof on the part of training, supervision, and management that these things matter. Next time somebody envisions joint rail/bus operations, and industry-wide there’s no reason somebody shouldn’t, drivers of both vehicle types should train together from Day One.

        Might make the political difference between continued joint operations and the needs of, say, a convention center addition in construction timing.

        Mark Dublin

  2. Correction, I didn’t notice the video was 2.5X time lapse. The numbers are still pretty close though. 70 bus/hr is barely over one bus/min. So if the video was 3X longer you’d see on average 1 bus. If you want to count capacity then it’s 75 for the bus and over 100 for the cars (five passenger/vehicle). More realisticly it would be something like 1.2 so 25. Should also be pointed out that there are 2 GP lanes vs a single bus lane.

  3. Sawant or Orion? I find Sawant OK but I’d like something better. I’m not sure if Orion is OK or bad.

    1. Sawant, easily. Orion didn’t get on the ticket based on his platform. He’s been groomed as Sawant’s replacement by volunteers in Durkan’s office since early 2018. Sawant is the LGBT friendliest politician in Seattle politics today. Easy choice.

      This is a microcosm for the political fight in Seattle for 2020. Establishment neoliberals vs. radical leftists for control of the city. I give my support to the latter every day of the week.

    2. I’m still undecided, but I found that move where Orion’s campaign bought a 4-page ad, wrapped over the real cover, and made it look like The Stranger endorsed him, when in fact The Stranger endorsed Sawant, to be one of the dirtiest campaign tricks I’ve ever seen. Yes, it is one of the most clever, but I’m not looking for clever ways for politicians to deceive the public. Maybe he thought activists who loved when a couple different groups put a fake front-page styled “Seattle Crimes” on the local daily would be impressed. Hmmm. But then, they were looking for a way to get real news out to the public. The ad is, um, pretty much the opposite of that. Even if Orion wins, there is precedent for the Seattle Ethics & Elections Commission getting a sitting councilmember to resign over campaign violations. (Though the old news stories are pretty much gone, it was Jim Compton who got re-elected after Strippergate, while Heidi Wills and Judy Nicastro did not.) Seriously, does someone really have to ‘splain to Orion why this move was majorly bone-headed?

      Compare that expensive dirty trick to the Machiavellianism of Justin Trudeau, who promised to have election reform in place by the Canadian parliamentary elections this year. And here Canada still is, having to vote between the lesser of two climate killers, while the two pro-climate-action parties (the Greens and the New Democrats) knock each other out from winning seats. A million Canadians marched for climate action just two weeks ago. And their politics doesn’t allow them to vote for what they want, even to save life on Earth, just as Greta keeps pointing out. Trudeau was sly enough to get a photo-op with Greta, but did nothing she asked him to do.

      I’m not sure whether Trudeau’s big lie or Orion’s attempt at buying fake news is more scorn-worthy.

      1. Trudeau’s big lie is definitely more scorn worthy. Orion is a schmuck who is running a deceptive campaign for a council race in a podunk city. Trudeau is willfully ignoring the biggest issue of our time.

    3. Orion. Sawant can only tax big business and requires “a movement”, which is code for “I have no clue, I’m just going to polarize the electorate”.

      1. Can you offer reasons to vote for Orion, instead of just reasons to vote against Sawant?

      2. Can you offer reasons to vote for Orion, instead of just reasons to vote against Sawant?

        Nope. That is why I’m glad I’m not voting in that race. I’m not sure which way I would vote. I think Sawant lucked out, in that her opponent is weak. Bowers would have been an exciting candidate from an urbanist standpoint, even if he lacks experience. DeWolf would have been the strongest candidate, as he had endorsements from existing council members (that I like), as well as many others.

  4. Point of the little video is how many more people a bus lane can carry down a given stretch of road than a single-occupancy vehicle one. That’s all.

    But you know, considering how little of a fight anybody put up to extend the life of DSTT joint operations, which were always intended to be temporary, Seattle’s power elite might be forgiven for letting the Convention Center forces have their way.

    So a new activist political campaign to put joint-ops back might still be worth the effort, if only for practice for transit’s political fights yet to come. Especially since your campaign’s first order of business will be to sharpen up matters like communication and training left lamely attended since Tunnel opening day.

    Which left in present state will continue to lame the system throughout its lifetime.

    Might also fill a really frustrating gap in Seattle Transit Blog coverage of the Tunnel: how little comment we get from operating personnel at any level right now. If you’re being threatened, could be time to crowd-fund some whistle-blower lawsuits.

    In a way, kind of hope that’s the problem. Because it’s easier to fight than forgone blanket defeat. Would also like to hear a lot more and more often from ATU Local 587 itself. Remember that twelve of your members sat in with the world’s top rail engineers to help design the whole thing.

    Mark Dublin

  5. Guess who said this?

    I am running for people who want safe neighborhoods, for seniors who built Seattle and are being priced out of their homes, and for children who deserve clean parks and open community centers. I’ve taken on challenges and produced results starting as student body president at the UW. When I brought recycling to campus and championed the UPASS bus program. As contentious as it was then, it’s now a model across the country. I have the experience to hit the ground running. I served on the city council 16 years ago. I led investments in renewable energy. I expanded utility rate assistance so more low income people could qualify. Before that, I was a policy advisor at King County for six years. I bring a regional approach. I’m a working [parent], a small business owner, and I led a nonprofit in South Seattle, empowering thousands of underserved youth for 13 years.
    I’m a grassroots candidate. Knocking on 21,000 homes so far, my campaign has the most democracy vouchers. I’ve talked with thousands of people and I’ve listened. Voters want the city to be smarter about addressing the root causes of homelessness. Seattle can’t solve this crisis in a silo. We need a regional approach, especially for mental health and treatment on demand. We need short term housing solutions like modular homes and long term solutions like permanent supportive housing. Public safety should be a priority. Our police and fire departments are stretched too thin. People deserve to be safe and to feel safe where they live and work. We need more affordable housing of all shapes and sizes for people of all incomes. We need more transit, service, and safe pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.
    Seattle must take bold action on climate protection. I have a long history of leadership to protect our environment and I have broad support from labor, business, the Seattle Times, the Sierra Club, Seattle firefighters, the 46 District Democrats and many more.

    Now I want you to guess. I paid $3 to get this transcript made, so please guess.

    OK, let me help: Not Ann Davison Sattler who isn’t strong on transit, period.

    Not Dan Strauss or any other proponent of injection sites.

    Who is the strongest candidate on transit? Try Heidi Wills.

    Heidi has carried the ball for transit and delivered wins. Even helped on Sound Move. Even helping alongside Dan Strauss who had to be nudged into it oppose 976.

    Finally, I love Ballard. I love a gritty community that will fight hard for better transit, like you did in 2015 & 2016 in the comment threads. Please now back a candidate worthy of you in Heidi Wills.

    I’m Joe, a 12 for Transit and I made this message.

      1. I’m not going to subjugate my voice as you seemingly suggest. No, I felt Heidi Wills was worth the $3 on a Rev.com transcript (and I’ve given two financial donations and doorbelled also) to have her voice heard in her own words here.

        Heidi is my dream candidate for transit. Worked her way up into elected office, got into trouble, served her time & then some in the penalty box with genuine contrition unlike some other candidate this year I needn’t name, and deserves a second chance. Heidi has been there and continues to carry the water for our cause and is a workhorse.


      2. mdnative;

        That’s actually a Crank hot take post at best that fails to mention the fundraiser in question also had a lot of people there who support the Burke Gilman Trail alignment along Shilshole. Folks are coming together to reject injection sites and decongest Seattle with quality transit & biking options.

        The biggest opponents of the trail are giving the max to Danny Strauss. Ditto those whom don’t support an elevated bike lane funded by local, state and federal dollars.


      3. You also seem to have commented on the ECB piece because she didn’t get a quote from the campaign (“candidate X was caught on camera doing crack, we are awaiting for a statement from the campaign.”) and a bunch of Facebook groups. If nothing else Joe, I suggest deprogramming yourself from your cult-like devotion to Wills.

  6. I think it’s important to recognize some differences between Flower St in LA and Third Avenue in Seattle. First of all, the cross street blocks are essentially two Seattle blocks except for Wilshire. Secondly, it’s a one-way street!

    Those realities make it so much easier to move a bus through a Downtown with signals and it really cuts down on traffic turning across the bus lane.

    I’m not saying that Downtown Seattle is better or worse. I’m merely saying that our buses will move slower. I’ll even observe that the CCC will face the same speed limitations.and that the decision to build the bus tunnel here was brilliant!

  7. Interview with Christoph Spieler ($), author of “Trains, Buses, People”, on how Pugetopolis’ transit compares to other metros. He says what Pugetopolis does best is the express-bus network, and bus-rail integration, and inter-agency coordination. What it most needs to improve is the local bus network. He goes on to say Pugetopolis is best in the country on improving its network; the cities with much better networks are legacy systems rather than new improvements. He also says, “Less than a quarter of transit trips are home-to-work trips, yet we do the vast majority of our transportation planning around that.”

    Also, “King County Metro was named the nation’s top public transportation agency in 2018.” Congratulations, Metro. It got a similar award in the 1990s.

  8. Today I walked from Judkins Park Station to Mt Baker Station. It took 22 minutes from escalator to escalator, going down 23rd and Rainier. So for a person living halfway in between it would be ten minutes to either station.

    1. It’s amazing how many recent and new projects are occurring between the two stations.

      The 23rd entrance is framed and looks really impressive. It’s like having a new station for the south part of the CD!

    2. I was wondering that yesterday, whether it would be fair to call it a Central District station, and how much it would benefit the CD. I took the 48 from Union to Judkins in the PM peak and it was pretty performant: the right stop spacing, people getting on/off at every stop, 10-minute frequency, good street conditions, almost like its RapidRide future. It will certainly be a popular way to get to the Eastside. It’s a little far to take it around to downtown, and for the airport and south King County you can just stay on the 48 to Mt Baker station. Downtown is so congested that taking anything around it is usually faster. There’s a debate over where the Central District ends; whether it’s at Yesler or Dearborn or down near Rainier; so in that sense I don’t know whether it’s properly a Central District station.

      1. Yeah it’s not very attractive for areas north of Cherry. However, I could see riders choosing 48+Link from 23rd and Jackson. Getting on a bus to Downtown on Jackson, Yesler or Jefferson/ Cherry is often pretty slow and can be infrequent. Even the 2/3 of a mile downhill walk to the station from 23rd and Jackson is a viable choice for a healthy adult no matter what the final Link station is.

      2. I haven’t seen Yesler or Jackson Streets bog down as much as James, Marion, or Spring/Seneca Streets. But you’re right that at 23rd the 27 and 14 are half-hourly and the 7 is a 10-block walk away, so going around via Judkins Park Station would be compelling for that reason, especially if you know you’ll miss the east-west bus.

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