King County Metro
  • Seattle Times has a deep dive on the impact of I-976. You never like to see “hunger games” used as a metaphor in a headline.
  • CM Pacheco comes out for scooters. Seattle Bike Blog has some ideas for the rollout.
  • The city of LA wants to know every move you make on a scooter, in real time. Uber and Lime are resisting providing it.
  • 3-day Cascadia HSR conference coming to Microsoft campus.
  • Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, soon you’ll be able to take high-speed rail from Disney World to a Disney Cruise line.
  • Development along the Everett waterfront.
  • Metro’s Trailhead Direct service grew 75 percent in 2019 but still isn’t funded for 2020.
  • Next lane shift for the 520 bridge coming Nov 8-11.
  • SR99 tunnel tolls start Nov 9, Aurora bridge emergency repairs ongoing.
  • Bus lanes and bike lanes are great, but really any kind of asphalt art is a winner.
  • The long, painful history of Seattle-area transit funding.
  • Great to see Seattle Neighborhood Greenways’ Home Zone pilot get some national press
  • The future of transportation looks a lot like the past
  • New York City Council working on a big bike/bus/ped package
  • Bike lanes and bus lanes are often put in a zero-sum competition, but in Delridge, as ever, the real culprit is parking. CM Herbold, over to you.
  • Mountlake Terrace upzones around light rail

This is an open thread

58 Replies to “News roundup: the future”

  1. “you’ll be able to take high-speed rail from Disney World to a Disney Cruise line.”

    My how people have low expectations for HSR in the states.

      1. whew. I know many US based supposed train enthusiast and experts who believe ~100 mph diesels are the ultimate in HSR.

  2. And speaking of surveillance: who-all gets to look at where-all and when we’ve been on our ORCA cards? Just curious.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I’ve wondered that. From what I can see, the history doesn’t go back very far, maybe a week. But it still kept me from getting an Orca card, until ST stopped handling transfers.

    1. Finally! I realized MAX had a problem when I first experienced it crawling through downtown in 1987. Why did it take Portland thirty years to acknowledge this as something that must be fixed? That’s millions of aggragate person-hours wasted riding slow trains on surface streets through the Steel Bridge bottleneck and with stations every two blocks — or not riding it because it’s so slow, or not living in Portland because of it. Americans resign themselves to substandard transit so easily and assume it can’t be better, but cities with multi-line subways show it can be better and transit can be more competitive with driving.

      1. If I recall there was serious opposition to Max’s original lines. (Remember Portland was a trend NW trend setter at the time.) Lines such as the one to Gresham would have never been built if expensive tunnels would have been on the ballots. Only after Seattle has shown the advantages of tunnels, and Portland has maxed out downtown through-put are they ready to open their wallets.

    2. For instance, Germany was building MAX-like light rail with downtown tunnels in the 1970s, right when MAX was being built. In the early 90s it was building them even in cities as small as 200,000 (e.g., Bielefeld).

      1. The first MAX line was built only with considerable political difficulty. There’s no way financing for a tunnel would ever have been approved.

        If I-976 passes you’ll wind up with MAX.

    3. I believe they’re making a mistake by not looping farther north to serve the new large buildings at the north end of the Pearl District. That said, it appears that they have a sound plan. It looks from the diagram that they’d curve to stay alongside the UP in order to start shedding elevation early and shorten the bore instead of putting the portal in Holligay Street. The new Lloyd Center Station would be maybe a block south but still close enough to the offices and mall there.

      I’d certainly add a station around Burnside and one in the governmental center, but overall the north-south orientation is a huge improvement over the Yamhill/Morrison couplet which misses all the employment centers.

      I hope they “stack”the curves at the north and south ends of the main corridor so that “Potential North-South Tunnel” can be added in the future.

      Given the relatively narrow streets in Downtown Portland, all the stations may need to be stacked or would require center platforms and mezzanines. Stacked stations with both platforms on the same side of the trackway are much cheaper because they open less of the street.

      Better more small stations than fewer big ones, if they can be had for roughly the same total cost.

  3. I’ve noticed that on Friday evening commutes, I-405 south of Bellevue is quite consistently at its worst. Even the HOV lanes, the HOV lane on Fridays is almost always as slow as the general purpose lanes, until you get to I-90, when it fairly often is free-flowing. I’ve had a commute where it took my route 566 trip from Bellevue TC 15 minutes to get to the next stop in Renton on a Wednesday, and on the Friday of that week, it took 18 minutes just to get to I-90! And what’s even weirder about this is that it doesn’t seem to affect (or at least as badly affect) other major corridors like I-5, and I-405 north of Bellevue. Also weird, the buses are less full and the park-and-rides are much less full on Fridays, which suggests fewer people working on Fridays. There would be fewer people driving too, right? Doesn’t seem like it, it seems like there are more people driving.

    I’ve long thought that practically (not morally) speaking, ST’s best use of money in the corridor would be to bribe WSDOT to make I-405 HOV south of Bellevue HOV3+ (which it will sort of be anyway once ETL lanes open in 2024!), because if that happened, they would probably be able to increase bus frequencies without needing any more service hours. But maybe they could strike a compromise and make it HOV3 only on Fridays.

    1. After reading your comment I asked my spouse what his experience has been lately when leaving Bellevue Friday evenings, taking I-405 northbound from downtown. He said he hasn’t noticed a similar pattern to the one you’ve described heading southbound for Friday evenings. (Apparently Wednesday and Thursday evenings are worse commutes in his direction.)

      My gut feeling is that Friday evenings are different commute patterns than the ones experienced earlier in the week. In other words, more drivers may be on the roads at these times for reasons other than going home from work. This may even explain why the buses and P&R’s appear to be less full as you’ve noted. People may simply be taking their vehicles to work on Fridays because they have plans for after work that entail use of their cars. In short, I don’t think you’re dealing with just weekday work commute traffic on Friday evenings, though admittedly this doesn’t explain my spouse’s anecdotal evidence to the contrary. Perhaps some of the increased traffic in the southbound direction on I-405 is airport-bound traffic, i.e, people visiting Bellevue for work-related purposes heading home at the end of the week.

      1. It’s weird. I leave between 4 and 6, and that’s when it seems to be the worst. I think on average it tapers off earlier than usual, meaning that it’s probably in part people leaving earlier (I say in part because there’s no way that could account for all of it, there’s just too many cars). There was one day when I left at 3pm, thinking I could beat traffic, but nope! This seems to support the theory that people are hitting the road earlier on Fridays.

    2. The 405 problem between Bellevue and Renton is a well-known and long-term (at least 15-20 years) congested mess. The lack of a viable transit solution has a long history of failed single-project solutions proposed. It’s going to take a multi-agency solution to improve things and no single agency can solve it alone.

      Maybe the 405-S STRide project will help a bit but I have serious doubts about that. Outside of an exclusive lane through much of the corridor — especially around the I-90/ Coal Creek congestion — I see riders at congested times simply hopping on Link’s high-frequency Blue Line and transferring south to Sounder or the Red Line or an express bus. That’s especially true for riders not coming or going within walking distance of the BTC. If you get on a train in the Spring District or Microsoft, you’d probably prefer to just stay on the train than to get off at BTC to get to a 405-S STRide bus.

      1. Gosh I hope Stride helps! The real corridor improvement with Stride is actually not from ST but from WSDOT, and I think (and hope) it will be a huge improvement, more so than a wash. The most important thing is that the HOV lanes will be replaced with two lanes that are *HOV3* and bus, but will allow SOVs to use if they pay a variable toll. It’s debatable whether it will help much, but the tolls will be lower when congestion is lower, and will peak at $10 at the worst, and I think $10 is a steep sell for most drivers. People paying the toll will still probably add more cars than changing HOV2 to HOV3 removes, but even if 1.5 times as many cars use the lanes, there is going to be 2x as much capacity, so it seems like it will still be a huge improvement unless everyone wants to pay $10.

      2. Alex, you’d be surprised how congested express lanes can get even with the toll over $10. In addition, sharing the lanes with cars guarantees that there will be delays related to car crashes in those lanes. Stride will be an improvement, sure, but not to the level of BRT.

  4. What’s the reason that ST Express 522, and the ST 54x, 55x, and 56x routes that stay within King County are under the aegis of Sound Transit, rather than Metro? Is it just that Sound Transit had the money at the time they were created?

    1. Sound Transit’s mission includes a regional express bus network in corridors that that don’t have light rail/BRT yet.

      In the mid 1990s before ST, Metro and CT had many peak expresses to downtown and a few to the U-District but hardly any off-peak expresses or to other job centers. If you wanted to go from downtown or 45th to Lynnwood reverse-peak, midday, or weekends, you had to take local buses which took two hours each way. If you wanted to get from Bothell to downtown you took a 41-like route. If you wanted to get from Redmond to downtown you took a B+271+255-like route via NE 8th Street, Bellevue, and Medina. If you wanted to get from Issaquah to downtown you took a Newport Way/Factoria route which took 1 1/2 hours and ran every 90-120 minutes.

      Sound Transit started in 1996, and the initial network included the 522, 545, 550, 554, 574, 577, 578, 594, and others. Lynnwood/Everett had a 510/511 pair instead of the 512 (so one route with all the stops to Ash Way, and another route running nonstop to north of Ash Way).

      Only the 550 was a direct conversion of Metro routes, replacing the 226 (Seattle-Bellevue-Redmond) and the 235 (Seattle-Bellevue-Totem Lake). The others were all substantially new: the 522 bypassed Northgate, Redmond and Issaquah had never had an all-day express to Seattle, etc. Initially the 550 was such a small improvement over the 226/235 that ST charged the lower Metro fare, but eventually it upgraded from 30-minute to 15-minute service.

      So yes, ST had the money, but it was also part of ST’s core mission. The other agencies could never get their all-day express act together because it always took a back seat to peak expresses to downtown and neigborhood coverage. CT and PT couldn’t justify sending all-day expresses to Seattle and Bellevue when its own county neighborhoods didn’t have local service. That’s why ST was created with a specifically regional mission, to provide that city-to-city and inter-county service that the county-based agencies wouldn’t/couldn’t. ST also has much larger tax authority than the county-based agencies do.

      1. Excellent summary of the history. One minor correction is in order though. Sound Transit was formed in 1993, not 1996. That’s the year the Sound Move measure was passed.

      2. Not quite. I think the first few years of ST Express began in 1998, and it rolled out in phases (it took time to acquire all the vehicles and hire drivers, even though the work was delegated out to local agencies). More core routes like the 550 came in the first phase, and less core routes came in later phases.

        Some of the initial routes were quite different. For example, there was a 570, that ran from downtown to SeaTac Airport, through West Seattle and Burien. The 560 was there, but just from SeaTac to Bellevue. The 570 had low ridership, so they combined it with the 560 and ran it from Alaska Junction to Bellevue (later West Seattle service became peak-only, and most trips ended in Burien, and then finally all trips ran from Westwood Village, like today). There was also a 591, but I don’t remember what exactly the difference was.

        There was the 564 (South Hill to Bellevue) and 565 (Federal Way to Bellevue), both replaced by the 566 later, and the 567 came later. The 167-405 network used to be much more served throughout the network and all day, but it’s since consolidated to the Kent/Renton to Bellevue peak. For example, the 565 and 564 ran every 30 minutes each at peak, combining for 15 minute service through Auburn. Auburn actually has less peak frequency now than it did then, since some 566s end in Kent (leaving Auburn with 30 minute or worse headways). Also, unlike the 564/565, midday 566 trips end in Renton with a timed transfer to the 560 for service to Bellevue. Midday trips are also now every hour (564/565 midday was hourly each, combining for 30 minute headways). It’s kind of a sad decline, but ST was just following the ridership. I feel like this corridor could use a funding increase overall.

        The 578 didn’t come until 2009 or 2010, and the 577 was peak-only until then. The 577 is still peak-only, with the exception of midday weekend trips that combine with the hourly 578 trips for half-hourly service from FW-Seattle. Before the 578, midday Seattle trips were done with the 194.

        If you were in Puyallup or Sumner (or Bonney Lake), you had the 582, which ran Bonney Lake to Tacoma all day (7 days/week even I think). That was around until it was chipped away, then eliminated when the 578 came (because the 578 was “close enough” I guess). Now ST has no all-day intra-Pierce-County network except the tails of routes 594 and 578.

    2. Passing tax packages to fund all-day passenger train lines requires spreading some of the peanut butter to areas of the taxing district that aren’t as close to the train lines. ST has to have its brand in all parts of the taxing district.

      A lot of the in-King-County ST Express lines are actually operated by Pierce Transit and Community Transit contractor First Transit partially due to wage differential, but also due to limited bus base space in King County. Metro, for its part, contracts out some of the DART lines to private operators, but the fixed routes have to be operated by in-house employees, on buses based on Metro property.

      I’m not fond of the notion of converting ST Express routes to Metro routes in general because Metro incentivizes a lot more change fumbling at the front door, generally 30% of its boardings, compared to 10% or less of such boardings on ST Express. I’ll take the branding wierdness over the operational own goals that turn the ride into a slog.

      1. It’s insane how some routes are not operated by KCM, and how many are operated by Pierce. I think in March, Community Transit took over the 540, then in September, Pierce Transit took over the 540 and 541 (maybe 542?). So if you’re in Kirkland taking the 540, then an accident in Tacoma can delay your bus, which has to drive from Lakewood.

        The fact that Metro has such a shortage of base and staff capacity that so many routes need to be outsourced to Pierce Transit seems like a big mismanagement on Metro’s part. They’re opening a new base in 2024 I think, but it seems like they should have been planning better for this scenario a decade ago, since the first King County routes started moving to Pierce Transit.

      2. @Alex a decade ago Metro was flat broke (great recession!) and Amazon was 1/10 of its current size.

      3. Yes, 540 is operated by Pierce County. And when there were three accidents on I5 last week, both 540 and 541 were delayed two hours because the busses came from so far away.

        As a sidebar, sometimes the last one or two 540s leaving from UW are on CT or PT buses.

      4. Much of the reason why Metro was running “flat broke” was that it (and/or the King County Council), unlike most area transit agencies, chose to cut service as little as possible, by drastically cutting back everything else (as I remember, they virtually eliminated the longer-range planning function).

        I do not necessarily say that doing so was a mistake, only that (largely) maintaining service in a deep recession also has its drawbacks – like, in our case, inability to make a timely start on the process of siting and building a new bus base that would be badly needed once the recession ended.

  5. I had been assuming 976 had no chance and barely gave it a thought…then I heard the KUOW panel agree it had a really good chance, and now I’m scared. Has anyone seen any kind of polling? I can’t find any. I know Eyman keeps bringing up a poll with 70% support which I assumed had no basis in reality…

    1. It has a very good chance. People are uniquely sensitive to car-tab prices, partly because it’s annual rather than gradual, partly because it threatens the low cost of driving, and partly because poor people need their cars to get to work and avoid being plunged into homelessness. So it’s a combination of sticker shock, privilege, indignation at the war on cars, and fear. Plus it’s a statewide initiative and people outside Pugetopolis are more car-dependent, car-assertive, and poorer. So everyone who cares strongly about these issues will vote yes. Additionally, there’s huge ignorance or denial about how transit service and street maintenance is funded and how much slack is in the state budget. Some people think transit is unnecessary and socialist, and most of the state budget is waste that can be redirected to backfill things that lose MVET.

      Eyman’s other initiatives aren’t as popular: people are more skeptical about general budget caps, 2/3 majority for all tax increases, etc, but they really like $30 car tabs.

    2. I haven’t seen any polling on the measure either. (I have no idea what Eyman is referencing and he’s offered no further information on it.) My sense is that the Keep Washington Rolling incessant ads have long since reached their saturation point and most folks have made up their minds on how they will be voting at this point. Talking to my neighbors up here in the Edmonds area about the matter, I was surprised to hear that so many were planning on supporting the measure. It apparently seems to be resonating with voters who don’t like the RTA’s MVET being based on what they consider an unfair schedule.

    3. Also, the ballot summary is completely misleading. It says it would “repeal… authority to impose certain vehicle taxes and fees; limit annual [MVET] to $30, except voter-approved changes; and base vehicle taxes on Kelley Blue Book value.”

      This says nothing about what the lost revenue funds. It doesn’t mention transit at all, even though it would be disproportionately affected. It doesn’t mention Sound Transit, which is Eyman’s real target. He’s on a crusade against ST. [1] it implies we can reinstate the transit taxes with a vote, but my understanding is that transit is permently excluded from MVET even with a vote. Eyman said in an interview that sales tax would still be available for TBDs, implying that MVET would not be available for that.

      Also, the Kelly Blue Book is a private company, so we’d be making our tax rates dependent on one private company. I’ve heard that’s unconstitutional in itself, but it hasn’t been getting much attention.

      [1] Or he pretends to be on a crusade against ST to keep getting campaign contributions, which is his main source of income besides selling watches. Some say that’s why he makes the initiatives constitutionally flawed — mostly violating the single-subject rule — so that he can keep raising money on the same issues year after year.

      1. Mike, my memory needs some assistance lately, so please bear with me.

        Didn’t we essentially have to start Sound Transit, trains and all, right through the middle of the results that the Governor and the Legislature granted Tim Eyman after the Supreme Court ruled him wrong?

        And since my math is also suffering….any chance that a court challenge can discover in Tim’s language more than one subject. Glad to see you note that Tim’s main forte is not passing initiatives but intimidating legislators and Governors?

        Also, while comparisons with Europe, especially Germany, are tempting, every transit decision made there already has several hundred years of transportation planning behind it.

        To a Swiss, Portland might not yet be crowded enough to be worth the dig just yet….reason I keep harping on the rocks, dirt, mud, and flowing water in front of the cutter. There’ll come a time when the “pointers” will cross for Portland too.

        Mark Dublin

      2. California’s Prop 13 was in 1979, the first major tax revolt in the country. Washington’s tax-cutting initiatives followed around 14 years later. The lists of Washinton initiatives and Eyman initiatives.

        1979: California’s Prop 13, the first major tax revolt in the country.
        1990: DSTT opens.
        1993-1995: Sound Transit forms.

        1993: Initiatives 601 caps non-voter-approved state and city tax increases to 1% per year plus a factor for population growth. That’s below inflation so base state and city budgets must gradually decline indefinitely. This doesn’t have much to do with transit, which is funded by separate voter-approved taxes. But it prevents general revenues from ever supplementing or funding transit to any significant extent. Initiative 602 with other tax limits fails. Neither 601 nor 602 are on the Eyman list, so was he not involved? That sounds unlikely.

        1996: Sound Move (ST1) vote establishes ST Express, Sounder, and Link SeaTac-45th (later SeaTac-Westlake, then Westlake-UW).

        1997: Seattle Monorail approved. (Ballard-Morgan Junction)

        1999: Initiative 695 reduces MVET to a flat 30%, gutting Sound Transit, local transit, and non-transit programs. The initiative is ruled unconstitutional but the legislature enacts its terms anyway. The courts block repealing MVET on ST’s already-sold bonds, so it gets a temporary exception. Metro’s plans to increase bus service (Transit Now) are postponed, as Metro uses any revenue to compensate for cuts. We lost a major increase in service, but I don’t remember if it decreased much.

        2005: Fourth ballot measure to kill the monorail succeeds, before construction starts.

        2006: Transit Now funds RapidRide A-F, fill-in frequency improvements, and a matching fund for employer donations. Matching funds supplement peak-hour trips on the 8 and a few other routes.

        2008: ST2 funds Lynnwood, 272nd, and Overlake Link. (Later truncated to 200th, then re-extended to 240th.)

        2009: Initial Link segment opens. Tukwila-Westlake. SeaTac opens a few months later.

        The 2000s and 2010s don’t have any significant tax cuts I remember. The recession forced cuts in 2014-2015, while in 2016-2019 an improving economy and successful ballot measures brought transit increases.

      3. As I wrote recently on another STB post on the same subject matter, I don’t really have any issues with I-976’s summary as written. Now the initiative itself is a whole other matter. Frankly it’s an utter mess and most likely will not survive judicial review due to the single subject issue.

        Btw, the AG’s office is responsible for composing a properly submitted initiative’s title and summary. This is the process as laid out in the WASoS’s “Initiatives and Referenda Handbook”:

        “Assignment of Ballot Title and Summary

        “Upon receipt, the Attorney General has five (5) working days to formulate and return the ballot title and summary to the Office of the Secretary of State.

        “The ballot title will consist of three parts:

        “Part I. A statement of the subject of the petition that is:
        o No more than 10 words.
        o Sufficiently precise to give notice of the measure’s subject matter.
        o Sufficiently broad to reflect the subject of the measure.

        “Part II. A concise description of the measure that is:
        o No more than 30 words.
        o A true and impartial description of the measure’s essential content.
        o Phrased to clearly identify the proposition to be voted on.
        o Without prejudice for or against the measure.

        “Part III. A question that clearly defines the intent of the initiative.

        “Ballot Measure Summary

        “The ballot measure summary written by the Attorney General’s office will summarize the intent of the initiative and will not be more than 75 words.

        “Immediately after receiving the ballot title and summary, the Office of the Secretary of State will notify the sponsor of the final wording of the ballot title.

        “Any person dissatisfied with either the ballot title or summary prepared by the Attorney General may
        file a challenge by petitioning the Thurston County Superior Court in Olympia. The challenge must be filed within five (5) working days of the filing of the ballot title and summary with the Office of the Secretary of State. The court is required to expeditiously review the ballot title and summary and render
        a decision within five (5) days. The decision of the court is final.”

      1. I attempted to crunch to numbers to see if I could extrapolate the results of I-976 by looking at the results from I-695, 20 years ago, and scaling the votes based on the population changes in each county.

        I-695 passed with about 56% of the vote. My initial guess was that due to the large population growth of the Seattle area, relatively to the rest of the state, the “scaled” result would be much closer. Instead, I ended up with I-695 still passing 56-44, even with today’s county-by-county population distribution.

        Digging deeper into what was going on, I realized why:
        – I-695 did indeed fail in King County, but by an underwhelming margin, of just 53-47%.
        – King County had a markedly lower turnout rate of 54%, compared to the rest of the state, at 61%, negating King County’s population advantage.
        – While King County grew a lot over the past 20 years, so did Pierce and Snohomish County. Both Pierce and Snohomish counties voted for I-695 by big margins (64% and 61%, respectively), and collectively, had 82% of the population growth that King County had since 1999

        On the other hand, a lot has changed since 1999, so just scaling up the county-by-county numbers might not be accurate. Vote-by-mail did not yet exist in 1999, which may have depressed the Seattle turnout. The “no” campaign was also, probably, not nearly as well funded then as today, with deep-pocketed businesses such as Amazon chiping in. Traffic has also grown a lot worse than it was in 1999, allowing the consequences of gutting transportation funding to become more obvious. We will have to see what happens.

    4. If 976 is passed (likely) and allowed by the State Supreme Court (less so) the Leg should just repeal the sales tax exemption on gasoline sales, dedicating the proceeds to the dame uses the the Tabs fund.

  6. Maybe the next Shoup reform should be more focused on banning parking on bus arterials. Remove mandatory parking minima helps make housing more affordable (and CM Herbold likes proclaiming herself in favor of affordable housing, but generally only if it already exists), but removing arterial parking in favor of ABC lanes benefits thousands of commuters on all modes. That means a lot more car drivers benefit from that lane than the handful of in-lane car parkers do, if CM Herbold is doing the math for her car-driving constituents.

    In some parts of Delridge, some bus stops get in the way of the one general traffic lane. The Tavel-esque solution is, of course, to make buses pull out of traffic into a break in the parking lane, and then wait for some woke car driver who knows state law to let them back into traffic.

    A bus lane would let the cars have their own lane free of frequent bus blockings. The bus lane would also create a somewhat safer space for bikes. Electrify that bus with the RapidRide H rollout, and bikers won’t be choking directly on diesel exhaust.

    As a further Shoup reform, tie allowing a Restricted Parking Zone to the existence of a continuous ABC lane. Then raise the non-low-income RPZ annual permit cost to help subsidize free ORCA passes for low-income residents of apartments along the H Line. For the business zones, meter the parking instead of including it in the RPZ. But do allow businesses and government buildings to have some employee RPZ passes.

    CM Herbold has inserted herself into zoning and transportation issues all over the city, so I hereby give the at-large and other district councilmembers permission not to read my under-duress vote for CM Herbold as a mandate for her love-of-abundant-free-car-parking policies. The district also voted heavily for Joe Nguyen, so look to his more progressive, urbanist policies as a better indication of where D1’s voters are philosophically. But keep outvoting Herbold.

  7. Congratulations to Mountlake Terrace for upzoning! It’s a good example around an aerial station that puts their allowed density ahead of West Seattle and Ballard — while these latter two areas push for a much more expensive subway station.

    1. Yes, that’s a great step forward. Now more people will be able to live within walking distance of a Link station and mixed-use services.

  8. 18.8% of Seattlites don’t own cars ($), up 3% since 2010, and the highest since the 1980s, and 11th in the country, and the largest drop in the country. New York City has 55% car-free households. Cities similar to Seattle have seen no increase or even declines, except DC which increased 1%. The article attributes this to our increased transit service and high-density areas, where new residents are less likely to have a car.

  9. E-scooters are a tough one. There seems to be a very narrow window between a lack of utility on the one hand and sidewalk havoc on the other. In Austin there are so many that they can definitely degrade the pedestrian environment. On the other hand, you do need a certain critical mass so that people can just grab one without walking five blocks out of the way, and so a couple or a group of friends can easily find two or three. We hardly ever used one a recent trip to Nashville, for example, because by the time we actually found and walked to a pair the advantage over walking was generally minimal — and walking is still free. (Nashville also requires you to be 18 and have a driver’s license, and the scooters go offline at 9 pm, which all seems overly restrictive.)

  10. I’ve been meaning to post about this on an open-thread for a few weeks….

    After reading ST’s Link Progress Report for August, my suspicions about Lynnwood Link falling further behind schedule were confirmed:

    “Project Schedule
    The August schedule update now forecasts a revenue service date in Dec. 2024. WSDOT utility permits are the driving activities. The most significant change, however, lies in the logic changes made by the L300 contractor. These changes produced a very linear sequence of construction for water and sewer construction in Lynnwood, which in turn drives the start and construction of the elevated guideway. As execution of the contract modifications for both L200 and L300 approaches, Sound Transit
    will hold meetings internally and with the contractors in order to align expectations for the schedules. It should be noted that at this time the major work portions of the both L200 and L300 construction schedules remain works-in-progress.”

    This is the first acknowledgement in writing I’ve seen from the agency to date regarding the project’s delayed revenue service timeline. My previous communications from the project’s designated outreach staff all relayed the earlier start date of mid 2024.

    1. Wow, you’re right. I went back through the Agency Progress Reports back to Q2 2018 (June 2018), and the revenue service date has bounced around as follows:
      Q2 2018: July 17, 2024
      Q3 2018: September 24, 2024
      10/2018: August 14, 2024
      11/2018: July 11, 2024
      Q4 2018: July 17, 2024
      1/2019: July 31, 2024
      2/2019: July 31, 2024
      Q1 2019: August 21, 2024
      4/2019: August 21, 2024
      5/2019: September 4, 2024
      Q2 2019: October 16, 2024
      7/2019: October 3, 2024
      8/2019: December 24, 2024

      While the revenue service date was bouncing around in the latter half of 2018 and first half of 2019, it has clearly gone backwards substantially of late. Clearly there are major issues as you describe. I’ll bet Sound Transit is trying to work all the schedule issues out now before making any kind of announcement. Right now it is all too much in flux, but the ~6 month delay from the August 2019 report (on top of the 9 month delay already announced; back in August 2016 the revenue service date was September 30, 2023) is pretty significant. Having the project slide into 2025 wouldn’t be good.

      1. “…is pretty significant. Having the project slide into 2025 wouldn’t be good.”

        I couldn’t agree more with these last two points. As I stated previously, this is the first I’ve seen ST significantly move away from their official “mid 2024 revenue service date” talking point.

        Thanks for the reply and your great work detailing the progress report history.

      2. The project intro in the Agency Progress Report still says revenue service in mid-2024, so from a PR standpoint they haven’t backed off yet. But the detailed project schedule and narrative are telling. With I-976 appearing to pass the focus will shift somewhat for a while onto ST3 projects, but that doesn’t change the issues for Lynnwood Link. I’ll be interested to see when and how they go public with a revised schedule.

        I pay attention to the Agency Progress Reports to track East Link, because I live along that line (East Link is generally progressing well). I don’t really pay attention to the other projects, but now I’m thinking I should. Thanks for your work on this too!

  11. Very good to hear about Microsoft’s getting into serious High Speed Rail. Maybe after all Mark Zuckerberg’s long horrible trick-or-treat season this fall, it’s a relief to see somebody well known in the high-tech community bring in some comforting rail friendship to go with the beautiful fall weather.

    Heidi, thanks for the fact-finding on wrong-tap penalties. The general pig-headed demeanor of the Sound Transit Board entitles it to worse harassment than I’ve got the energy to generate. Given my criminal record of two polite warnings in ten years, my really credible threat is to become Alex Tsimerman’s understudy.

    What do you think, Heidi- should I submit a razor-edged indictment to The Seattle Times? They’ve printed me before. Trouble is, my real very strong support of both the ORCA program and Sound Transit itself make me hesitate to yield editorial control. Not giving up, but also suspect that by now, ORCA-abuse has generated itself Halloween-scarier opposition scarier to the Board any effort of mine.

    Question of who’s getting my travel data is another matter. Could be an age thing- where my defense is now supposed to be somehow counter-humiliating the enemy with incendiary tweets.

    But am really unpleasantly surprised that absolutely nobody is raising this issue regarding political connections that don’t need to yell “Sieg Heil” to start a Board meeting. Am I going to have pay for an untraceable card- not available for seniors- before I ride ST to a political meeting?

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/20/matt-shea-rightwing-messages-chat-records

    Glenn, we could be a little far north for The Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer, but Portland’s definitely got some people I’d as soon not give my meeting attendance list. Looks like Olympia too. Well, gotta go, moon’s up. Olympia’s got six hundred fireplugs I’ve got to visit before daylight-savings run out.

    Mark Dublin

    1. We are absolutely not too far north for the Proud Boys. They’ve even got local “stars” that attend every one of their events. I helped out with security during Pride weekend. We had about 2 dozen POIs alone, and an unknown number of stragglers.

    1. Why? There are no more paper mills. It has a small “historic area” with plenty of room to add restaurants. It has a coastline. Unfortunately BNSF owns the waterfront but there are hills above for view developments. Californians will be fleeing the fires and drought, but only a relatively few will want to move to Texas — the reactionaries have mostly already moved there.

      So, a large number will come to the Northwest. Everett will look pretty good to folks who have lived in Stockton two hours from Silicon Valley jobs.

  12. the general theme of the curbed history piece is OK, but is has errors and omissions.

    I liked the picture of the Route 8 terminal on 35th Avenue NE at NE 55th Street. routes 7 and 8 were both electric trolley bus routes serving Eastlake Avenue East and University Way NE and each provided five-minute headway service in the peaks. the peak of the ETB network was between 1940 and 1963.

    The picture of the Ride Free Area has the incorrect end year; it was fall 2012, not 2011.

    in 2000, the Legislature allowed Metro more sales tax authority. that tax has less capacity, is less progressive, and grows less than the MVET.

    ST funds Sounder, Link, and express bus; it does not have heavy rail or subways, though Link is close.

    in 1940-41, I bet the tracks were pulled up and scrapped; they were not paved over; WWII made steel valuable.

    the Forward Thrust alignments were superior to those of ST; they had two lines north and would have served more pedestrian centers and been in freeway envelopes less. it was King County only.

    the 1995 failed RTA vote was in April. the failed King County TBD vote was in April 2014. the successful transit votes were in November, when turnout is higher. the 2007 saga of the joint ballot measure between ST2 and the Regional Transportation Investment District was omitted from the story. the 2015 statewide measure that funded the freeway expansion and allowed ST3 to go to the ballot in 2016 was omitted.

    in 2000, how could an initiative have been partially vetoed?

    today, the low ridership Via experiment service subsidy comes from the Seattle TBD.

  13. regarding trail head direct: in addition to rides attracted per route, do we also need to learn rides attracted per bus hour? the same hours could have been used on other routes to reduce waits.

    1. Partly. There are several factors:

      1. It’s a classic ridership vs coverage debate. The same buses on an existing corridor may get more riders, but the tradeoff is making the trails accessible to non-drivers at all. If the 14, 27, and the 8’s MLK segment didn’t exist, the hours could go to boosting frequency on other streets, but that would cut off part of Lake Washington, 34th Ave S, and MLK near Madison from transit because it’s a steep hill to another route. The decision was made to operate these as coverage routes. Humantransit.org goes into detail on this; the author, a transit-planning consultant, recommends agencies decide what percent of their budget to spend on coverage and work within it. In the case of Trailhead Direct, it started as a one-year experiment that was extended for a second year. So far it’s not permanent.

      2. The funding is a combination of Metro, Seattle’s TBD, and King County Parks. Only Metro’s portion could uncondintionally be redirected to other routes. The TBD depends on what the city council wants, so it could maybe be redirected. The Parks grant was specifically for trailhead service and was not available for other routes. If Trailhead Direct didn’t happen, the park money would have gone to non-transit purposes. The parks department had two motiviations: to make the trails accessible to non-drivers, and to address an acute problem of overcrowded parking lots at the trailheads.

      3. The most acute transit needs are peak hours when all buses are in use. Trailhead Direct runs on weekends when plenty of idle buses are available.

      4. Switzerland has transit everywhere including to the Alps skiing/recreation areas.

      4. Walking in the woods is good for people’s health and should be available to everyone.

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