This is an open thread.

82 Replies to “News roundup: go it alone”

  1. The Seattle / King County lawsuit against I-976 has been published.

    While it does list the ways plaintiffs think that I-976 violates the state constitution, it’s light on details / precedents on why that’s the case.

    a. Article II, section 19, the Single Subject Rule, because I-976 includes multiple impermissible subjects;
    b. Article II, section 19, the Subject-in-Title Rule, because the title for I-976 did not fairly apprise voters of the subjects of I-976, and in fact, affirmatively deceived voters by representing that they retained the right to approve VLFs beyond the I-976 $30 cap for important local projects even though I-976 repealed the statutory basis for such a vote;
    c. Article II, section 37, the Improper Amendment Rule, because I-976 is not a complete act and it improperly amends existing law without setting forth those amendments in full;
    d. Provisions related to home rule and local control, including article I, section 19 free elections, because I-976 subjects local issues to a statewide vote and overrides the results of a local election;
    e. Provisions related to due process and privileges and immunities, and because I-976 is arbitrary and capricious;
    f. Provisions related to the separation of powers, because I-976 encompasses non-legislative provisions and exceeds the scope of the initiative power; and
    g. Article I, section 23 Impairment of Contracts, because I-976 substantially impairs existing contracts, without lawful justification.

    1. Article 1 section 19 is interesting. It says that “…no power, civil or military, shall at any time interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage.”

      I do wish the Constitution could just be more explicit and say that a statewide initiative cannot override the result of a local election. The actual wording is quite vague and looks open to debate.

    2. In Soviet Union citizen votes as much as he wants but effect is null, winner always gets 110% of vote.

      1. Yeah and who can forget that one time when a Soviet leader was declared president by an unelected supreme court after losing the popular vote, and his brother, who was a governor of a key province, helped him fix the process. Oh wait…

    3. “affirmatively deceived voters by representing that they retained the right to approve VLFs beyond the I-976 $30 cap for important local projects even though I-976 repealed the statutory basis for such a vote”

      So what kinds of MVET surcharges can we vote for now? I keep hearing contradictory things, and reading the 3-page condensed version and fiscal statements did not answer it. Can we reinstate Seattle’s TBD? Can we enact only non-transit surcharges? Or can we enact nothing? If we can enact nothing, what does the initiative mean when it says “except voter-approved” charges? Is it really a void statement because voters can’t enact anything?

    4. That I-976 will be thrown out within seconds of the judge beginning deliberations is clear. What is not clear is:

      1. Who will defend the initiative in court? There’s no way Ferguson will defend it, which means it’s up to Eyman or other pro I-976 entities to defend it (can a private entity legally represent the state in defense of I-976?). Eyman has already laughed all the way to the bank and cashed his prize money. He has no financial interest to defend I-976 any longer.

      2. How will the legislature respond? With cowardice like when I-695 was struck down? Will they they finally move to allow for proper transit funding in our state that doesn’t rely on volatile MVET fees? Or will they decline to get involved?

      1. Regarding #1…from the Spokesman-Review just this week:

        “Ferguson says his office can defend I-976 from legal challenges”

        Regarding #2…first off, what did you mean by volatile MVET fees? Secondly, I don’t think think we will see the same legislative response we saw back in 1999/2000 following the passage of I-695 and it’s ultimate demise in the Amalgamated case. Conversely, the legislature could actually wait out the two years and then simply amend or fully repeal I-976.

      2. I guess Ferguson can write off his Gubernatorial ambitions if he defends I-976, for he won’t get the King County vote.

      3. There’s a precedent for governors and attorneys general not defending initiatives. In California, after Prop 8 passed in 2008 banning same-sex marriage, both governor Schwarzenegger and AG Brown refused to defend it in court. The proposition’s official proponents defended it in court instead.

        This is Eyman’s initiative, so he can intervene to defend it if Inslee/Ferguson decline. Alternatively, individual counties could choose to intervene to defend the initiative in case the state declines.

      4. I mean, pretty much anyone who owns a car and pays the tax can defend it in court, since they can demonstrate that they are personally harmed of I-976 is overturned. I don’t think 976 supporters will have any problem finding someone to bring a complaint.

      5. “I don’t think 976 supporters will have any problem finding someone to bring a complaint.”

        The proponents would not be the party (parties) bringing forth a complaint. They would be the defendant(s) in such a filing.

      6. Thanks for the Constitutional perspective, everybody. Love the law that prohibits a statewide initiative from canceling results of a local election. Talk about getting me back my right to vote!

        Historic National references need to include doing away with the Electoral College, deliberately crafted by slave-holding states to ensure themselves the permanent majorities their major industry has always demanded, and gotten.

        If Evergreen lets people my age audit courses for free, could take a history PhD. for easy proof that when they ran out the Union Army and brought back slavery by calling it the criminal justice system of every state south of the Mason-Dixon line, the South won the Civil War. Verdict I’d set the draft age at 75 to reverse.

        As for a cure for the state of mind that passed 695 after the Court overruled it, as a Democrat I can only think of one clear cure right now:

        People who would’ve had problems with Elizabeth Warren for being too cautious a centrist. Bet this guy would’ve never let Tim Eyman intimidate him into overriding our State Supreme Court.

  2. It seems crazy to me ST can’t come up with an alternative that doesn’t involve demolishing part of Freighthouse Square. There’s a ton of empty space in that area.

    1. I fail to see what the benefit of that alternative is. Improved transfers to Sounder? That seems like an edge case. Most will be transferring to/from buses and the Orange Line, which is worse in that alternative.
      I guess it keeps the road open, which, cars. ugh. That’s so stupid it’s probably the answer.

  3. Any estimates available about how many people besides me used to live in Seattle and now live in Olympia and places farther scattered? Especially those who still work where we used to?

    What about the increasing number of us who no longer live, work, study, and generally live our lives according to present city and county lines at all? My memory’s not what it used to be, but didn’t a very large amount of the planning behind Sound Transit talk volumes about transit that’s Regional?

    Seems to me that rather than button ourselves up nice and tight in the living patterns of the past, we need to create a transit system that will make constantly-changing work and school locations a positive matter of personal freedom.

    Am I mistaken that for years now we’ve been calling our chosen fare instrument “One Regional Card for All?” Increasingly and for the future I can envision, description increasingly fits our whole way of life. Which maybe we need to stop fighting against and just take advantage.

    Mark Dublin

    1. You’re the only one I know who moved to Olympia who didn’t have family there.

      “Region” in the context of Sound Transit means the ST district. The boundaries were drawn to include urban-growth areas and exclude less-urban areas, as they saw it in the 1990s. It was unbalanced from the beginning: Pierce included a lot of exurban land (everything southeast of Parkland and Puyallup), Snohomish didn’t include enough (Marysville is the fastest-growing city), and King is in the middle (Issquah and Kent are in; Covington is out). The spillover into Thurston County is similar to the 1990s spillover into Everett, Auburn, and Pierce County. So should the focus of Puget Sound regional transit be enlarged? That’s something the state should be considering. It would need to recognize that Olympia is part of Pugetopolis, and lift the tax straitjacket that prevents us from doing more than piecemeal band-aids.

      I’m opposed to bringing Thurston County into the ST district under current conditions. It would just increase the No vote. It would be better for Intercity Transit to set up a bilateral agreement with ST to extend ST Express to Olympia. And maybe Sounder, but that seems far off. The state would have to give IT enough tax authority to do this.

      1. I support bringing Thurston County into the ST district if, and only if, the enabling legislation is changed so votes pass or fail pur subarea.

      2. It would require splitting the tax district. That would probably require splitting the board, or allowing only subarea boardmembers to vote on subarea projects. Either way would make ST significantly different than it is now. The reason is a constitutional requirement that all members of the tax district be treated equally: the same tax rate or progressive-tax curve, and the same consideration for projects in their area. So you can’t have subareas voting for different tax rates and projects just in their subarea. I think ST will inevitably have to be split because the subareas’ interests are increasingly diverging and will diverge more when the spine is completed. North King wants several more lines, while Pierce and Snohomish haven’t articulated anything expensive they want after the spine. East King is in the middle, and South King just wants low taxes.

  4. Sound Transit has started asking for feedback on route restructures for Northgate Link: As the web page mentions, this is a limited set of changes. They are focused on Sound Transit buses from the north as well as Community Transit buses. Metro will start discussing their proposed changes in January, and those will include the 522.

    As I expected, they are leaning towards the following:

    1) ST Buses that serve Snohomish County (510, 511, 512 and 513) would be truncated at Northgate.
    2) CT buses that go to downtown Seattle (400 series) would continue to go downtown.
    3) CT buses that go to the UW (800 series) would be truncated at Northgate.

    This is a good compromise. I would prefer having the CT 400 buses go to Northgate, but I understand why they didn’t do that. With ST buses and the 800 series buses headed to Northgate, many will be able to take advantage of service to Northgate. At the same time, you avoid upsetting those who prefer an express to downtown. I expect those trips to be truncated once Link gets to Lynnwood.

    1. This is the proper compromise. The CT 800’s won’t overwhelm the small increase in trains that will come with Northgate opening (limited overnight space is the culprit), but will provide an “all-the-time” consistent pathway to Snohomish County from Link.

      That consistency is true of complete ST truncation, but I bet people will be steamed about losing the 510, 511, and 513’s on the reversible lanes to downtown.

      Now that Olive/Howell is beginning to recover from the Convention Center fustercluck (thank you SDOT), folks will miss sitting on a Double Tall out to Northgate instead of sometimes having to stand on a crush-loaded Link train.

      1. (Continuing)

        I mentioned the reversible lanes specifically because the truncated buses will still have to thread their way through the enormous congestion on I-5 north of Northgate. When Lynnwood opens they’ll whoosh past that and the overall time Lynnwood to Downtown will be about the same as currently, perhaps even a little faster.

        But Link between Northgate and Downtown Seattle will be slower than buses in the reversible lanes which use the Pike/Pine ramp as do the northbound 511, and 513 and the 510 on the Howell Red Lane.

        Southbound Link will be faster because all three STEX buses use Stewart which is slow, but I expect that the southbound loop-the-loop and the transfer will make the overall trip just as slow.

        In any case, expect unhappiness among Snohomish County ST peak riders until Lynnwood opens.

      2. 14 minutes Northgate-Westlake is fast enough, and it’s consistent. Those 10-minute buses turn into 30-minute buses whenever there’s a random collision or extraordinary traffic, which happens at least once a week.

      3. The CT 800’s won’t overwhelm the small increase in trains that will come with Northgate opening (limited overnight space is the culprit)

        Nor would the CT 400 buses, which is why ST (and CT) never said anything about crowded trains. Their reasoning was more (pardon the pun) sound. You can read their statements here: ( Basically it comes down to:

        1) Not wanting to upset those who prefer a relatively fast one-seat ride to downtown. In contrast, the one seat ride to the U-District is often really slow, because the bus can’t use the express lanes.

        2) Finding space for buses. This wouldn’t be a problem in the morning, but in the evening you want your bus to be near by, ready to pick people up. I think they could have found a solution to the problem with a little effort, but it wasn’t worth it since …

        3) The buses will be truncated in a few years anyway.

        4) Some of the express buses to downtown serve areas that aren’t served very well by Link (this seems like a stretch to me, but it was one of the reasons given).

        5) ST is truncating their buses and the 800 buses serve many of the same places in Snohomish County as the 400 series. Thus many people will have the option of an express to Northgate as well as an express to downtown.

        It will be interesting to see how many people ride each bus. Unfortunately, the Community Transit ridership reports aren’t always easy to read in this respect. The only report I’ve seen that lists each bus is this one. On page 40 it shows the various routes, but the chart is tough to read. First they list it in terms of rides per year (which is a dead giveaway for “not that many”). Swift dominates (several times more than the next bus). Likewise, vanpool ridership exceeds all the non-Swift buses. The most popular 400 series bus is in sixth place (not counting the vanpool). If my math is correct this bus — the most popular express to Seattle — carries about 1,500 riders. Of the top 25 buses, six are 400 series, and four are 800 series. It is easy to assume that lots of people ride the CT express buses to downtown Seattle, but clearly there aren’t that many.

      4. It’s only four minutes quicker for the buses by the schedule, but at least ten minutes in reality after the loop-the-loop and transfer are factored in. It’s a huge station with the platforms three levels above the street.

        The express lanes almost by definition CAN’T get clogged southbound, because they have only five total entrance ramp lanes — two of which are “metered” by traffic signals at local intersections — feeding four travel lanes, and a wide-enough overflow space to get by almost any problem when you add the two breakdown lanes.

        Yes, they certainly get bogged down on Stewart once they leave the freeway. Once Link gets to Lynnwood I expect people will be satisfied with the transfer even when they have to stand part way northbound. But Northgate is not really set up to be a bus intercept, and transfers there are just south of the nasty tie-ups between Northgate and the County Line.

      5. Ross, there are more than 70 southbound 400’s that cross the King-Snohomish Line during the hour between 6:30 and 7:30. Yes, the 400’s WOULD overwhelm the relatively slightly increased Link schedule that can run before the East Maintenance Center is opened.

      6. Oh, Richard — oops, I’m sorry, Tom. Even when I link to documents that list actual ridership (which clearly show it being very low) you insist on making your weak case. I count about half that many buses. Did it ever occur to you that those buses aren’t that full, and neither are the Link trains? Do you really think that the people who actually do this for a living — the ones that actually know how crowded the buses and trains are — chose to simply ignore this issue entirely? Your theories are weak; your data is lacking; you have no case.

        The reason they aren’t truncating all the buses is for the reasons I mentioned. They don’t want to deal with real issues (like layover space) and complaints (from people who miss their one seat ride) when they are going to force every last one of those riders to Link in a few years. They aren’t worried about imaginary crowding based on back-of-the-napkin guessing made by people playing engineer.

      7. So Snohomish County runs express buses all the way to Seattle through the “hail” of congestion between Northgate and Lynnwood half empty during the rush hour? I guess that’s good to know, and gives us all great confidence in the management of the region’s transit agencies.

      8. So Snohomish County runs express buses all the way to Seattle through the “hail” of congestion between Northgate and Lynnwood half empty during the rush hour? I guess that’s good to know, and gives us all great confidence in the management of the region’s transit agencies.

        Sigh. I’m trying not to be condescending, but man, you make it difficult. Really. OK, there are few things you should know about transit. It is common for transit agencies — especially low density, largely suburban areas like Snohomish County — to subsidize their service considerably. Whether it means all day service to Gold Bar, or rush hour service to downtown Seattle, there are major subsidies. It would be cheaper for them to focus on the more cost effective routes (like Swift, 115/116, or 201/202) as well as highest ridership express buses. Overall ridership would increase, subsidies would decrease, and Community Transit would appear — to bean counters anyway — as if they are doing the right thing.

        But they would piss off a lot of people. There are people who commute to Seattle and love taking their bus. They have no interest in driving to the Lynnwood or Ash Way Park and Ride. They would rather drive to a closer Park and Ride, like one in Snohomish, or Mill Creek. They live outside anything with even moderate population density, so they wouldn’t be able to take advantage of better all-day service. In short, they would get nothing out of changes of that nature, and would push to overthrow the CT board.

        This trade-off between ridership and coverage is well known to people who follow transit issues. There are some excellent articles written by Jarrett Walker (you can look him up). Keep in mind that ridership versus coverage should be considered from a broader perspective — sometimes it isn’t about minimizing walking, but about a bus route that is extremely popular (even if isn’t that cost effective). Many of these express buses are exactly that.

        Thus it makes sense that CT is running express buses that aren’t full. They are doing this because *that is what people want*. Your criticism of them is asinine, and unwarranted.

        By the way, the same is true for Sound Transit buses. Unlike CT, the data is clear — there is no need to “do the math” and extrapolate: Those buses aren’t full. The 510 at most is half full. The 511 is much better, but it never quite reaches sitting capacity, let alone standing capacity. Like the 510, most of the time a rider can stretch out. The 513 is the worst of all (of course). Does this make me “lose confidence in the management of the region’s transit agencies”? Of course not. These are good routes (except for the 513). They make sense, and provide a great service for lots of people. You can’t expect them to be as effective as a good urban bus (like ones from Metro, or the 522). These are suburban oriented express buses — these are the routes that ST is supposed to provide. They don’t have to be stuffed to the gills to make them worthwhile.

      9. It appears to be “difficult” all the time. Read your post history: it’s filled with “condescension”.

        Having a different point of view than your brilliant pearls of wisdom is not always to be wrong.

      10. More quotable moments for the people who want to shut down transit completely. Aren’t you proud of yourself?

        OK, thank you for expressing in a very terse manner what is wrong with public discourse today (it might as well be a poem).

        Let’s just review here. You made an unsubstantiated claim. I countered the unsubstantiated claim with facts (data from the various agencies as well as quotes from officials). You doubled down, and made an unsubstantiated claim that had real numbers in it: 70!. I disputed that, and you came up with a far fetched argument (“no agency would do that, because that would be stupid”) without bothering to consider the fact that agencies do not focus on ridership alone.

        Then you claimed that my analysis somehow helps those that “want to shut down transit completely”. If I’m not with you, I’m against you. My transit agency, love it or leave it. That sort of thing.

        Oh please. Just as it is patriotic to criticize your government, it is your civic duty to criticize public officials. It doesn’t mean you hate them, nor does it lead to “quotable moments”. But I guess in this modern world, either you are part of the tribe, or you aren’t. God forbid you find fault with Obama, or Trump, or anyone running for president for that matter. Only the enemy says things of that nature, comrade — time to get out. This revolution isn’t for you.

        The crazy part is that I wasn’t even criticizing the agency! Holy cow, man, I was simply criticizing your overly simplistic assumptions of the situation. I said from the very beginning that this was a reasonable approach, meant to please those same riders I mentioned up above (the ones being heavily subsidized). I think it is quite likely I would do the exact same thing. It is a conservative* approach, and a very sensible one.

        You, in turn, are implying that Sound Transit and Community Transit either doesn’t understand the capacity issues, or is hiding the fact that they exist. Either criticism is unwarranted and unsubstantiated with any facts. I hope you are proud of yourself.

        *Given your obvious preference to tribalism and your aversion to civil discourse involving arguments based on reason and facts, it is quite likely that you only see the word “conservative” as meaning right wing. I want to be clear that in this context, “conservative” means “cautious about change”.

      11. “So Snohomish County runs express buses all the way to Seattle through the “hail” of congestion between Northgate and Lynnwood half empty during the rush hour?”

        One, they’re not half empty. Two, their taxpayers demanded it. The ones from Stanwood and Monroe may be sparsely populated, but certainly not the ones from Everett, Lynnwood, Mukilteo, and Everett. CT wouldn’t have bought double-tall buses if all the passengers could fit on single ones. ST followed suit, and wouldn’t have bought them either if it didn’t have so many passengers. I rarely ride the 4xx or 8xx but when I do (UDistrict-Lynnwood) they’re pretty busy. I assume they’re as busy as the buses at South Kirkland P&R and Tacoma Dome.

        When CT had to make cuts in the early 2010s, it offered two proposals: one to pare down King County expresses in favor of a more frequent local network, and one to keep the peak-express routes intact and slash the local network. The overwhelming public feedback was to keep the peak expresses, and that’s what CT did. This makes some sense in the context of Snohomish County. Express buses are the only ones many residents will use, and even people who don’t use them assume their neighbors do and it shrinks traffic in front of their car. Second, Snohoish County has a huge jobs imbalance with King County: some 70% of Snohomish residents work in King County. So they’re really concerned about expresses to Seattle and Bellevue, and Sound Transit’s service isn’t enough to move all of them.

        When Link reaches Lynnwood they’ll be able to have both: plenty of capacity to King County, and freed-up service hours for twice as many Swift lines and frequent local service. With Northgate Link they’ll be in between.

      12. Mike, it wasn’t I who said “that those buses aren’t that full”. Now maybe Ross meant “3/4 full” and had I read his mind I would have said “one-quarter empty”, but “aren’t that full” could certainly be “half”.

        So far as the statistic “70” CT buses crossing the county line between 6:30 and 7:29 AM, I was partly correct. There are 42 CT 400 series buses which cross the county line between 6:30 and 7:29 AM, 13 ST runs, and 13 CT 800 series for a total of 68. However, I did specify “CT” and I was wrong to include the ST expresses in that statement.

        Of those 68 about 2/5 (the 13 500’s and 13 800’s) will be truncated in the current plan .

        However, a good number of those 400 series buses headed to Downtown Seattle are “Double Talls” holding around 70 people if full. While I will certainly be glad to stipulate that in the “before 6:30” and “after 7:30” time periods, some of the buses may be fairly un-crowded. But I believe it would be malpractice for Community Transit to run buses at the peak of the peak with a lower than 75-80% load factor. Those buses are late enough that every one of them is going to park in SoDo for the next nine hours, and the driver will have to be “vanned” back to Lynnwood or wherever the First Student lot is.

        That is nosebleed expensive service and they’re simply not going to be throwing it around. Almost none of the routes are running a “fixed” schedule; the headways bounce around throughout the hour. That says that they are doing strict counts and scheduling buses to meet the demand as measured.

        So, 42 * 70 * .75 is 2200 passengers, or eleven crowded railcars.

        Since ST won’t be running “four car trains at six minute headways” between the date that Northgate Link opens and the trackway to Lake Bellevue is passable, they have made not only the “right” choice not to truncate the 400’s, they have made the only safe choice.

    2. My friend who lives north of Ash Way would love to switch from the 512 to Link at Northgate and avoid the I-5 congestion and downtown slog. She transfers to the 8 to maid jobs throughout Capitol Hill and Madrona and non-work trips. The 8 is also cumbersome with the Denny Way congestion. Link will give a straight shot to Capitol Hill Station.

      She says the 512 is busy all day and she doesn’t like it much, not because of the route but because the passenger are loud and obnoxious. She likes the “commuter buses” much better. I’m not sure whether she means just the 4xx or also the 511. (To me the 512 is a commuter bus, but she doesn’t see it that way.) But she wouldn’t oppose truncating them at Northgate, The main issue is the overall trip quality and travel time, not a one-seat bus ride to 5th & Pine.

      1. She likes the “commuter buses” much better. I’m not sure whether she means just the 4xx or also the 511.

        I would be willing to be she means the 4xx buses. Community Transit specifically calls both the 4xx and 8xx “commuter routes” on their system map (and likely, elsewhere). In contrast, they call the ST buses, “ST Express” (as does ST). Someone who has an unusually large interest in transit (like you or me) might use the term “commuter bus” more generically, but regular folks probably don’t.

        As for people disliking the change to the ST routes, that is bound to happen. I know there will be people who miss the old 41 for the same reason. But overall it will be much better. The cost savings will be substantial, and some people — like your friend — will come out ahead. Even those that come out behind (on average) will probably have a more consistent trip (as you mentioned). It would be better to have an HOV ramp to serve Northgate, but that issue goes away in a few years.

      2. @MikeOrr
        I have no idea what your friend is talking about. I’ve probably taken the 512 a couple dozen times during the 15+ years I’ve lived in SW SnoCo and I have never found the bus ride to Seattle to be particularly “boisterous”. Idk. Perhaps my perception is very different from hers having grown up in NYC and using transit there, and jumping ahead, my experience using Metro buses daily for the 15 years I lived carless in the CD and Wallingford.

      3. In hopes of not getting into another protracted fight with you, I will enthusiastically agree that you are completely right that reconfiguring the interchange for four (now five?) years of bus intercept doesn’t make sense.

    3. “This is a good compromise.”

      I agree. I respect CT’s decision to continue with the existing service to downtown on the 400s and to hold off until Lynnwood Link is finished. While I know they are chomping at the bit to free up service hours from the planned truncations due to new Link service, I can certainly understand their reasoning here.

    4. ST could or should also change routes 541, 542, 544, 545, 555, and 556 in 2021; Link will have four-car trains and the I-5 general-purpose lanes will be slower and less reliable. ST routes could serve SLU; it will not get Ballard Link until 230X or later; between the three agencies, all three new Link stations should have service with SLU via the I-5 reversible lanes. ST need no longer serve Northgate or Green Lake. Feed Link!

      1. Changes to the 54x buses have been a big topic of conversation on this blog recently, albeit for 2020, not 2021. The 544 and 545 would be trapped in the general purpose lanes for two years after Link opens, but then WSDOMA opens the direct connection from 520 to the express lanes and Mercer St exit. I’m guessing what you’re advocating for the buses that would use that connection is for the 545’s Bear Creek tail to be attached to the 542 (to the extent it’s deemed necessary at all) and the 545 eliminated, and the 544 (and 541) to terminate at Overlake TC without continuing to Overlake Village.

        If you’re proposing redirecting the 542’s Green Lake tail to head out to Ballard, which the mention of Ballard Link suggests, do you want to send it up to 50th, which likely means coming back down to 46th once you’re past Aurora to head down Market, or alternately heading all the way up to 65th? The traffic situation on 45th between Wallingford and the U-District probably makes it a non-starter for an “express” bus. Skip U-District station and head down 40th, Bridge Way, Fremont Way, 39th, and Leary? Take 40th to Stone Way but then head back up to 46th and Market? It seems like any option would be a bit of an adventure.

        Cutting the 555/556’s Northgate tail (which for all practical purposes means eliminating the 555) makes sense but makes the 556 seem like even more of an “express 271” that doesn’t operate middays. I’ve seen commenters argue the 271’s Medina path is actually faster than Bellevue Way or 405 would be, but it does limit the ability to make transfers to 520 with the 84th ramps having no access to Evergreen Point Freeway Station. I still think a potential long-term, or at least medium-term if Issaquah Link gets saved from the I-976 axe, idea could be for a bus to head up the Medina tail and terminate at one of the freeway stations, while the 556 takes on the bulk of U-District-Bellevue-Issaquah traffic, though the viability of this depends on what the status of transfers at South Bellevue vis-a-vis Mercer Island are and whether the 554 can be replaced this way. If the 554 is kept to Mercer Island, keeping the 556 a commuter route and the 271 the workhorse might as well be what you go with.

    5. Good call for the 800 busses. It often takes them over 15 minutes just to get out of the U-District! Yes, there will still be congestion to contend with north of Northgate, but the 800 busses currently have to deal with that any way. And being able to catch both the 512 and 800 busses at Northgate essentially gives me an all day, two way express option to/from the heart of the U District. Any word on whether CT and/or will use the route hours savings to add more runs, or will that wait for Lynnwood Link?

    6. Truncating the 800 series also means that they aren’t going to be running along Stevens Way at UW. Depending on where you are going and how backed up Stevens is, sometimes taking a bus two stops can be faster, other times it isn’t. That said, I can see how it gets backed up in that traffic.

      Also, while we are talking about the 400 series, what is the purpose of the 424 that goes along 520 and 405 (I think)?

      1. The 424 is the only transit option to get between Monroe and Seattle in under 2 hours (a trip that’s about 45 minutes by car). It offers 2 round trips per day.

  5. RE Federal Way Link naming:

    How many “Lake” station names are acceptable? Why not “Southeast Kent“ instead of 272nd?

    Why not “Highline” or “Northeast Kent/ Des Moines” station at KDM Road?

    I’m sure there are other names to consider between these predictable and mundane options.

    1. I object to any name along the I-5 corridor that implies it’s located in Kent, because, city limits aside, this is not what people think of Kent. People think Kent, they think the Green River Valley, so nothing on the hill to the west should be called “Kent”. So, Southwest Kent is a horrible name for 272nd because everyone will predictably say “that’s not even in Kent”, but everyone will agree that it’s next to Star Lake.

      I’m fine with Kent-Des Moines Road as a station name, since that clearly states that it’s between Kent and Des Moines, and not actually Kent. But I’d prefer Highline College, or maybe Midway, as a name, both are more descriptive.

      1. I don’t believe most people think of a half mile wide strip of protected farmland when they think of Kent. They may think of the Kent Valley, but ironically a good chunk of it isn’t in Kent.

      2. When I think of Kent, I think of the downtown area, and I certainly don’t think of anything west of I-5. As far as I’m concerned, south of Sea-Tac there’s one strip of cities that 99 and I-5 serve, and another strip of cities that 167 serves, and never the twain shall meet.

    2. If you asked somebody who lived down here what to name it, “S 272nd” and “Star Lake” are both recognizable names for the area that point you to the location. Seems like the abundance of “lake” names may have started with “Westlake,” where there is no lake by that name. Oh, yeah, that’s right, everybody recognizes the location name because of the mall and plaza and monorail station that has been there for decades. Shall we start re-naming locations in Seattle. Green Lake -> “North Central Seattle.” Bitter Lake -> “North Northgate/South Shoreline.” Maybe we should deviate Link away from all lakes. Sorry, Star Lake is there. There is a Star Lake neighborhood, Star Lake Elementary, Star Lake Adult Family Home, Star Lake Park & Ride, Star Lake Inn which was once a waterfront “resort,” and a lake by the name Star Lake.

      The suggested names for 272nd make no sense to people who live here.

      Also, Southeast Kent (check your directions) would put the station way out by Lake Meridian and Covington, not at 272nd.

      Highline College might be a good name at SR 516/Kent-Des Moines Rd. That one is an excellent suggestion, but need to include “college.” The “highline” area runs from north of Burien, south through the airport, to Federal Way. There is Highline School District, Highline Medical Center, Highline Community College, and a handful of other businesses that borrow the name. Because of the presence of a major hospital by the name Highline, it would be important to specify Highline College.

      1. Oops! I did make a terrible mistake! I should have said “Southwest Kent”.

        Southeast Redmond is barely in Redmond and Shoreline South is barely in Shoreline.

        I actually think a new place name could be in order for places that see major redevelopment. I’m fine using a mundane placeholder. I’ve heard that the KDM Road station area is supposed to look completely different. Midway Village? Highline Town Center? I’m sure there must be lots of possible names that could be suggested. I just think names should set a tone for the future more than freeze the past if the area is expected to change.

      2. Problem is, who comes up with the name? Othello Station was named after a cross street and gave its name to the surrounding neighborhood, but most east-west streets outside Seattle are numbered, not named. There aren’t any natural names out there other than cross streets or existing neighborhood names, except what they’re doing in the Spring District, but no one in South King seems to have that sort of vision.

      3. “There aren’t any natural names out there other than cross streets or existing neighborhood names”

        Star Lake. Midway. You don’t need to have a “vision” to come up with a station name. Just use the neighborhood names that people already use.

        “Where do live?”
        Possible answers:
        “A quarter mile south of Star Lake.”
        “By Lake Meridian.”
        “Lakeland Hills.”
        The tougher locations are by the big shopping centers without any natural landmarks or established neighborhood names because it becomes:
        “A mile west of the Federal Way Costco.”
        That is where “vision” is needed to create a place name. You don’t need to create a new neighborhood name when it already has a name like Midway or Star Lake.

    3. Pugetopolis has a lot of lakes. The names are meanigful to locals and visitors. If a local is directing a visitor to the 272nd area, they’ll say “I’m in Star Lake” or “Go to Star Lake”, especially since they know that’s the name of the station. Another local name is Redondo, but that wasn’t chosen and is less well-known. The 574 and former 194 have stopped at Star Lake, not Redondo, for decades. It’s a beautiful name. A station called “Kent” should be in downtown Kent, within walking distance of most of the businesses there. Not at an obscure edge of Kent. “Kent-Des Moines Station” is OK because it’s near that famous road and serves the edge of both cities. Columbia City Station and Rainier Beach Station are straining because they’re not in the center of those neighborhoods and arguably outside them. We shouldn’t make an even worse mistake with Kent. I walked from the A to downtown Kent once and it took 20 minutes and was really scary because the sidewalk is narrow and cars are coming at 55mph. I walked right next to the concrete wall, because even if the cars didn’t see me they’d make sure not to run into the wall. So the station really doesn’t serve Kent. In England they would address this with “Kent-Des Moines Road” and in smaller letters “For Kent”. Maybe they should do that here.

    1. It was a “service label” for a Federally funded experiment of a Park-and-Ride oriented bus with a “tail” beyond the P-n-R in the community that survives today as the 41. It began in the late 1960’s (1969 I believe) and used the Cherry Street exit and the contra-flow lane on Fifth Avenue, Yesler, Third and Stewart/Olive/Howell as a live-loop through downtown.

      It was so successful that it was expanded to “Blue Streak” versions of the 7 View Ridge, 7 Lake City, and 7 15th Avenue NE (predecessors to the 71X, 72X and 73X). There was even a “5 Blue Streak” which became the 355.

      1. Sorry. The route described was the “AM” routing. At noon it reversed to Stewart, Third, Yesler, Terrace, Fifth contraflow and Cherry on-ramp.

        The same thing that the 7X expresses used to do. The “Blue Streak” was the prototype.

  6. But. As a “nod” to this morning’s theme of “Go It Alone”, there’s absolutely no reason that the regional system we need can’t be built in stages. With a lot of flexibility for both speeding up and slowing down work as circumstances and $ dictate.

    The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel itself is an excellent example of using available resources and methods, like buses, to build toward the rail system always intended. Whether we admitted it or not, many first-generation Breda drivers took the too-long-unused grooved rail under our tires as a reminder that we were driving Stage One of a railroad. A Regional one. Real reason we put them in that early.

    Anybody reading this from your desk in Instruction….what’s the system’s present state of mind in regard to future operations and equipment? The bigger the machine you’re driving, the farther ahead you have to be thinking. And prudence is what your mirrors are for. Am I right?

    Mark Dublin

  7. Re: Westneat’s column

    King County going it alone on building rail would resolve the strain at the heart of Sound Transit (Seattle/King County have a much greater desire for transit, and are much more willing to tax themselves to pay for it than Pierce and Snohomish counties do), but:

    Would the state legislature grant King County the authority to go it alone or would this fall victim to the “screw Seattle” mentality?

    Would the East King and South King subareas be onboard with this as an ongoing project? King County isn’t homogeneous either- The North King subarea has a few possible light rail lines or extensions that would have healthy ridership if they opened tomorrow, and a few more that could be desirable over the next few decades, but the list of useful major capital projects in South and East King is much less obvious.

    1. I think the state’s position is more pro-suburban than anti-Seattle. The “screw Seattle” folks are a few extremists. The legislature is generally skeptical of transit taxes but allows some small one-offs on a case-by-case basis, and allows large ST packages. The strain within the ST district has several different interpretations. Pierce and Snohomish have been holding on and insisting on subarea equity in order to get the Everett-Tacoma spine, which they can’t pass themselves but it can get passed with King County’s help. If they can’t get the spine on time due to I-976 and other factors, then the balance might change and impossible things might become possible. I don’t think the legislature is likely to “screw Seattle” per se, but it will be hard to get it to overcome its traditional skepticism of large transit taxes outside the current ST structure. But if the public and the Pugetopolis cities and counties and their legislators insist on it loudly enough, then it might become inevitable.

  8. Am I the only one ticked off by the feeling that transit really “walked into” the self-same punch that gave Tim Eyman the 695-verdict the Supreme Court denied him?

    Seems to me that while we’re hauling ourselves back to our feet in the ring after Tim’s current punch, we need to be thinking of a way to fund regional rail without being so vulnerable.

    Any suggestions less vulnerable than car tabs?

    Mark Dublin

    1. Until the state decides to step up and act like almost every other fully-functional government on earth by properly funding transit (along with education) this will never be resolved. Seattle has pretty much done everything they can given the tools allowed to them. It’s pretty hard when the rug keeps getting pulled from under us by voters hundreds of miles away who, if the Seattle Times’ online comment section is to be believed, loathe Seattle and avoid it at all costs.

      1. “Until the state decides to step up and act like almost every other fully-functional government on earth by properly funding transit (along with education)”

        Well, almost every other fully-functional government on Earth outside most of the United States. Canada and Australia aren’t great about it either, I understand. This seems to be a common affliction in the former British colonies.

    2. Property tax, income tax, corporate-profit tax….

      ST never wanted an MVET in ST3 precisely because it’s so unpopular. It asked the legislature for something else instead but the legislature wouldn’t give it to them. ST would have avoided exercising the MVET option, but when the public insisted on increasing the project scope from 15 years to 25 years it had no choice but to use it. The legislature is afraid of granting non-traditional taxes so it keeps falling back on the same ones.

  9. In light of recent events, it will be interesting to see what sort of reworks the cities, counties and transit agencies pursue as they go through their 2020 budgeting processes right now. For example, will Sound Transit now modify their proposed 2020 budget which, IIRC, relies upon some $600M in unrestricted cash to meet anticipated total expenditures for the year?

    1. Double-checked the ST proposed budget numbers and the previous statement above is correct:

      “Budget Summary
      “The 2020 annual budget includes revenues and financing sources of $2.5 billion and outlays of $3.1 billion.
      “Lastly, the budget anticipates the use of approximately $0.6 billion of unrestricted cash in 2020 to close the gap between this year’s sources ($2.5 billion) and uses ($3.1 billion). The agency’s unrestricted cash balance is expected to be $1.3 billion at the end of 2019 and is estimated to be $696 million at the end of 2020.”

    2. Unless they change project delivery dates for ST2 projects, it will be very difficult to change the cash flow for 2020. The spending on ST3 delivery will still be very small in 2020. Given ST bus and trains are generally full, there won’t be much appetite to cut Operations either, at least in the short term. I could perhaps see more aggressive truncation of STX routes, but the savings are marginal compared to the capital plan.

      1. “Unless they change project delivery dates for ST2 projects, it will be very difficult to change the cash flow for 2020.”

        That’s not necessarily true for a number of reasons.

        For example, take the 2019 EOY forecast which was published with ST’s proposed 2020 budget. It presently reflects a -$373M variance to plan, the bulk of which is coming from an under spend on capital projects (-$304M). Since we already know that in general project costs have been coming in at or above (and in some cases well above) estimates, one can assume that the variance is due to planned project progress not being met. So far this year I don’t recall ST making any sort of announcement about any of the ST2 projects having their timelines pushed out. Thus I suspect that part of the increase in the proposed capital budget for 2020 is due to planned 2019 activities getting pushed back. My point here is that the agency’s cash flow did substantially change in the current year, for the reasons just highlighted, and yet the ST2 projects’ timelines have not been officially altered.

        Since we don’t really know what the impact of the passage of I-976 will be on ST’s MVET revenue stream at this point, I won’t say much more about that other than to add that I wouldn’t be surprised to see ST leave the $355M revenue figure from that source in their 2020 budget for now. With that said, I would also expect them to run several different scenarios through their 25-year financial plan to see where that puts their MVET intake. For example, they could run one scenario using the March 31, 2020 provision of the initiative wherein the .8% part of the MVET (the ST3 increase) would be rolled back to .2%. (See the linked article below.) Because of all the uncertainty surrounding this particular revenue stream the agency is absolutely going to need to develop some contingencies for their long-term financial plan. (This was mainly the point of my original comment.)

        To that end, ST has some options to change its cash flow position for 2020 without impacting the ST2 project delivery timelines. At present, per the proposed 2020 budget, the agency doesn’t plan on drawing on any of its TIFIA credit lines for the year. It budgeted $100M from this source for 2019 and $0 for 2020. The agency currently has a total of $2.69B in available TIFIA funding*. Once Federal Way’s master agreement is executed that figure will go to $3.3B. Life-to-date, I believe ST has only taken $156.6M in loan proceeds for their capital program**.

        The agency could also use some of its current available bonding capacity to issue a revenue bond series, one that avoids pledging MVET revenues entirely. As currently planned, ST will not run up against their debt capacity limit until the early 2030s.

        Finally, ST could start focusing on internal efficiencies to bring its departmental budgets down somewhat. The proposed 2020 budget has allocated $370M for these expenses. Keep in mind that this figure represents the portion of the departmental budgets that is not allocated to projects. The actual consolidated figure for these expenses totaled $271M just two years ago in 2017. The proposed 2020 budget figure is $100M higher***. Likewise, agency staffing has gone from 927 in 2017 to 1,068 in 2018, to 1,197 currently and 1,262 proposed for next year. I could go on but I think you get the idea.

        *TIFIA Allocation by Project:
        Northgate Link $615.3M
        East Link $1,330M
        OMFE $87.7M
        Lynnwood Link $657.9M
        Federal Way Link $629.5M

        **TIFIA Draws by Project:
        Northgate Link $81.6M
        East Link $50M
        OMFE $25M

        ***Regarding departmental budgets (“transit modes”), the purchased transportation component is by far the largest expenditure category. Even so, this has only increased by about $27M from the 2017 actual to the proposed 2020 budget figure of $203.4M.

  10. Mike Lindblom tweeted that ST has decided that they’ll stop referring to the Angle Lake to UW light rail line as the “Red Line” in March because people said it sounded like “redlining”, the process of excluding blacks and other minorities from neighborhoods.

    1. Well, that came out of the blue. Also worth noting that the most ardent online fans of this change are almost exclusively people whose ancestors would never have been subjected to redlining, but hey, that’s neither here nor there.

      If they’re not looking to abandon line colors entirely, yellow/gold and pink are available (if people find Red Line problematic, I’m going to eliminate Brown Line as a possibility), although yellow is currently used for Stride. But pink also doesn’t have the gravitas you’d expect from a major trunk line, which might be a sign that I take this way too seriously.

      I guess my preference would be to call central link (and eventually everett- west Seattle) the blue line, East link (eventually mariner-redmond) the green line, ballard-tacoma the purple line, and kirkland-issaquah literally anything, because not enough people will ride it to care.

      1. After many focus groups and study of practical issues like sunlight fading and color interpretation and color blindness and foreign languages and labeling for the blind, LA Metro is switching to numbers as the primary line reference.

    2. Sound Transit should also stop calling it “The Blue Line,” as it may remind people of the thin blue line of the police.

    3. Time to go back to the drawing board and adopt my original idea. Name East Link the Purple Line and the current Central Link the Gold Line.

      Thus you could take either the Purple or the Gold Lines to the UW.

      It works as a great wayfinding aid, and it wouldn’t offend anyone.

  11. So the red line fades away for now…pretending,more than one line exists was a dumb idea from the start. The new n ame really. should be the war zone line


    Need to ask whose European soldiers are (or used to be) remembered for wearing red coats. Wasn’t a matter of skin color. Though it’s still a matter of contention between Scotland, Ireland, and Norway as to who had the sandy red hair and freckles first.

    Might be good to wait awhile before awarding the name to a line on Link ’til we can determine which of its lines are going to be the most arduous to ride. Or drive. Sometimes a title has to be awarded, however grudgingly.

    “The Thin Red Line” was also title of a novel about World War II by James Jones. Given the way the housing market has gone in the United States over the years, doubtless that more than a few of the protagonists or their offspring found the housing market less than a kind place.

    Mark Dublin

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