Sound Transit Double Deckers

This is an open thread

71 Replies to “News Roundup: Protected”

  1. Beacon Avenue appears to be consistent with SDOT’s approach on 35th, Missing Link, Rainier Ave, and every other ped/bike safety project in the city. Let the angry masses put their own selfish demand for subsidized on-street parking and fast moving arterials over the safety of our residents. Similar to Trump we are taking the opposite of a fact based approach, supported by experts, and instead guiding decisions on who yells loudest during neighborhood outreach.

    Seattle seems to have mastered the ability of implementing the opposite of Vision Zero…for cyclists and pedestrians. Which explains why fatality rates for non-motorized modes is seeing sharp increases.

    1. Vision zero here means we’ll do what we can to promote road safety, but only so long as there are zero impacts to car drivers.

    2. The Urbanist article did a good job covering why the change would have been beneficial, but didn’t go into much depth on how the project was cancelled. Is this another Jenny Durkan special?

      1. It appears the Durkan Administration has bought into the pathologically destructive approach of letting neighborhoods veto transportation safety projects that would benefit the rest of the users on those corridors.

        When 35th was cancelled, they asked the neighbors. They didn’t ask the bike riders.

        When this safety project was cancelled, they again just asked the neighbors, but not the pedestrians who get to school by transit, and are the ones being hurt by the neighbors’ cars.

        The whole notion of the neighborhood veto over projects that make the whole City safer (and easier on the climate) has to go away.

      2. Yeah, that is the problem. There are bound to be mistakes, as well as give and take when it comes to projects. But the big pattern does not appear to be little modifications based on newfound information, but veto in the interest of local drivers. That’s not good.

      3. Brent, and the thing is, a good portion of traffic on 15th South is “cut-through” folks avoiding jam ups on I-5.

    3. Where on Beacon Avenue? I thought the issue was 15th/ Columbian.

      Was there a safety problem before? Vision Zero should be focused on those and not merely any intersection they want to change.

      Will a redesign make things safer? I only have to point out that the City’s road diet on Rainier resulted in a greater reduction of traffic volumes than in accidents, seemingly making each vehicle more dangerous! Of course, traffic mostly shifted to parallel streets.

      Canceling a project is not an automatic failure of Vision Zero!

      1. When the neighbors don’t like a project, they have several opportunities to appeal. When the rest of the City doesn’t like a project being cancelled, there is no notice of opportunity to appeal the cancellation. The project is just cancelled. Where is the equity in that?

        Oh, and the post has been corrected. Thanks.

      2. The argument is that the neighbors are the most affected because they’re near it the most time. They may cross it every time they go home.

      3. The school put forward the idea for the safety improvement because their students wait for transit. There were 8,000 automatic speeding tickets issued there in a single school year.

  2. Seattle Times comment section continues to be a downward spiral of ignorance.

    I think a lot of the problem with taxes and how they are spent is people straight up do not understand how any of it works. It’s not a subject taught in school at all and government does a terrible job of explaining itself.

    Then mix in the extra problem of people not understanding how much it actually costs to do things like pave a road or repair a sewer pipe.

    I’m having this problem on the microscale with my HOA. People always bitch and moan about dues going up and never down. You just want to slap them and demand to know in what universe does the cost of building maintenance go down?

      1. J.S., and Brad, a relative of mine who taught school all her life, most recently in Seattle, told me that what we used to call “Civics” is no longer even taught in public school.

        I hope she was exaggerating, because in anything barely resembling a democracy, including a republic, it’s literally life and death that the average person understand not only how government works, but also how to run it.

        Training really ought to start in pre-kindergarten….really, same age that kids have already started to internalize things like football. “Student Government” should lose the quotation marks. And be worthy of at least a class period per day, either beginning or ending.

        ‘Til it goes from being an idea students (when they think about it) think not about, but with. Recalling the Enlightenment, always imagined our Founders like Benjamin Franklin would’ve considered Governing to be an active verb. On the same level as design and operations as a printing press. Or a locomotive. Something citizens well, just, come out of school knowing how to do.

        Mark Dublin

    1. Brent’s comment of 10:48 a.m. is solid. another example is in the U District, where the local group expressed desires about use of the arterials next to the Brooklyn Link station (e.g., University Way NE, NE 43rd and 45th streets) that are in an urban center and need to be shared by all.

  3. “NYC is spending a lot on cops to stop fare evasion. File this away for when someone says that adding turnstiles to Seattle’s Link system will solve all our problems.”

    I think that’s a little unfair. NYC’s response to fare evasion is bad. Turnstiles greatly reduce (if not eliminate) accidental fare evasion and provide some deterrence against intentional fare evasion. Both of those can be true. No plan solves every problem, not even making transit free (as many others on here suggest…).

    There is a real personal safety and harassment problem on the NY subway – just read some of the stories people have posted about awful behavior by other passengers. NYPD should focus on that instead.

      1. Those are separate campaigns. The latter spreads paranoia that a terrorist could strike any time. The former encourages people to come forward, because misbehavior happens a lot. I think the latter makes a better difference in the passenger experience.

    1. Pedestrian Observations doesn’t like this enforcement-centric approach.

      “There’s a moralistic discourse in the United States about fare evasion on public transport that makes it about every issue other than public transport or fares. It’s a proxy for lawlessness, for police racism, for public safety, for poverty… Americans practically never look at other countries on hot-button culture war issues, even less than (say) the lip service the center-left pays to foreign universal health care systems…. The upshot is that successful policies regarding fare collection in (for example) Germany are obscure in the United States even more than policies regarding wonkier transportation issues like train frequency.”

      1. You beat me to it, Mike. That is an excellent article (the comment thread is interesting as well).

    2. “I think that’s a little unfair.”

      I agree. Frankly I thought the comment borders on a straw man argument. Most people who are discussing fare evasion in earnest, including those who support the use of turnstiles (full disclosure, I include myself in this camp), acknowledge the limitations of this particular fare evasion strategy.

      I grew up in NYC in the 60s/70s and used the subway all the time. I’ve seen plenty of fare evaders (“jumpers”) and admittedly have even been with my brothers and/or friends when one or more of us were short the 20 cents for a token and evaded paying the fare. (Those times were few and far between and I certainly don’t condone it. ). The point here is that a turnstile approach to fare evasion isn’t fail-safe and never has been. Yes, it’s not perfect but solutions to problems rarely are, as you’ve stated. The idea that people are claiming that putting up turnstiles will stop all fare evasion is just silly.

    3. Yeah, but the point is that there is no easy solution. Adding turnstiles doesn’t solve the problem. You still need people to enforce the rules. Having fare enforcers on the trains themselves — instead of the gates — means that you increase security as well as assistance where it is needed most. It is nuts to suggest that we add turnstiles when the rest of the world — the part of the world that actually has very high transit usage — is removing them.

      The problems occur when the cops do a bad job. But over-zealously enforcing fares at the gates is just as bad as over-zealously enforcing fares on the trains. The only reason it makes sense to have gates is if you have a system like New York, where trains are too crowded (and onboard enforcement is too difficult). Otherwise it makes sense to enforce payment on the train (as long as those enforcing it aren’t being dicks). Oh, and if you buy an unlimited usage pass you shouldn’t have to tap on (or off). That part is just stupid.

      1. Two quick points:

        1. So is Vancouver an outlier then?

        2. FEO’s are not cops/police officers. That was made very clear in State Of Washington v. K.L.B. (2014).

      2. Seems to me easiest and most effective way to deal with fare payment is to make sure that every single passenger starts the month with their every conceivable dime of transit fare paid in advance.

        What an ORCA card should be now, and needs only a single order from Peter Rogoff to make final adjustment to. (Bet me!) Whether I’ve bought the card or required help paying for it, result is the same: Fare Inspection can see with a single glance I’m not an evader.

        Word to Jeff Bezos and rest of the Wonderful World of the ‘Net: Tracing my personal travel, I frankly want forbidden. ST’s present and future service area includes a lot of people whom I most certainly do not want to know what political event I just attended.

        For interagency apportionment, every separate agency gets a share of my fare money, amount determined by a committee deliberation as to which of the pertinent agencies needs my fare the most.

        As is common business practice as opposed to the penal system, because I believe in and care about the system I’m advocating, like the majority of any satisfied customer base I’m always mindful of the system’s legitimate need for some of my trip information. Presence of my money in company’s own accounts are all the proof anybody needs I’ve paid.

        Not kidding about giving the seat-hog a cute little cousin called a tap-munk. We life-long transit passengers will abide out of sentimentality what we’ll get really ugly about when threatened.

        Mark Dublin

      3. @Tlsgwm

        1) Yes.

        2) I use the word “cop” loosely. The term “rent a cop” is common slang for security guard. As a former security guard, I can assure you that I had neither the training or skills of a police officer. Nor did I carry a gun. But if someone came onto the site I was protecting and broke the law, I was prepared to deal with the situation appropriately (by shining a flashlight in their eyes, and calling the real cops). I would hope that fare enforcers are a bit better prepared — e. g. have good CPR skills. Like all policing issues it comes down to training. Unfortunately, a lot of these officials have little training, and become overzealous. Worse yet, they have military training. This can be helpful (I worked with several former M. P.s while a security guard) but it can also be completely inappropriate. The guys I worked with were M. P.s in places like Germany, and South Korea (during the relatively peaceful period between Vietnam and Iraq). In contrast, many of the former M. P.s in security jobs now used to be in Iraq or Afghanistan. The skills necessary to de-escalate a bad situation (likely quite common in say, Yokosuko, when dealing with drunken sailors) were not a big concern if you were patrolling the Green Zone.

      4. I’ve seen multiple Link FEOs carrying firearms. Clearly Securitas does not operate under the same restrictions as you once did.

      5. Yeah, it is nuts for the fare enforcers to carry guns. It is a really stupid policy. You are putting money into training officers to handle their weapon, not deescalate conflicts, handle medical emergencies, etc. It also costs more to hire an armed security guard, as there are lots of guards (and I was one of them) that had no interest in carrying a gun. As I wrote earlier, I agree with what Alon Levy wrote on the subject:

        In the vast majority of cities, no excuse exists to have any kind of overt fare control. Tear down these faregates. They are hostile to passengers with disabilities, they cost money to maintain, they constrain passenger flow at busy times, and they don’t really save money – evidently, New York’s subway fare evasion rate is within the range of Berlin, Munich, and Zurich. Fare enforcement should be done with POP alone, by unarmed civilian inspectors, as in Berlin. Some people will learn to dodge the inspectors, as is the case in Berlin, and that’s fine; the point is not to get fare evasion to 0%, but to the minimum level net of enforcement costs.

        Emphasis mine.

        Side Note: He then goes on to point out that New York subways are so crowded that onboard enforcement could be really difficult.

  4. With new office towers and Link’s Bellevue Station coming to the area around the Bellevue TC in the next few years, I’m wondering about the space that is the Bellevue TC. Is the way the TC is currently configured the best way or only way? Is there some other bus transit center design that would better suit that parcel?

    1. It’s a disaster waiting to happen but no one seems to care:

      1. Every Link rider will have to cross a wide 110th St / 6th Street to get to any bus. I call it Mt Baker Eastside!

      2. No bus can turn around without going around the block, adding lots of travel time for any route using the HOV on/ off ramps. It reduces the viability of any through routes using 405.

      3. Drop off and pick up will get wildly more popular. That’s especially true for those that want to pick up riders on the way home using 405 HOV ramp/ lanes.

      1. Oh it’s not as bad as Mount Baker. Mount Baker Station is a couple block walk from the TC, after crossing a busy Rainier Avenue with a long wait. BTC is right at the opposite corner of the same intersection as light rail station, and the lights give pedestrian walk signals much more frequently than Rainier Ave. Plus, they are going to turn it into an all-way crossing like the other end of the TC. Certainly not ideal, but I think it’s still pretty good.

        The Stride stops need to be on 110th Ave between the TC and the Link station.

    2. I was hoping to hear some creative ideas for the BTC and BTC area. For example, should some streets around the TC be turned into a transit mall? Should the BTC get a redo? … Level the place and design a better TC from scratch? This is a crazy idea, but what about relocating the BTC to a less congested area, next to another Link station, like Wilburton? The land the BTC sits on has now become extremely valuable. KC would probably see a $100 million dollar payday from its sale. Then they could eminent domain the Bellevue Whole Foods for the new TC. Or, what about scrapping the idea of a bus TC altogether? Downtown Seattle doesn’t have one.

      AI S is right. Bellevue TC after East Link, and after about 10 new highrise office and residential towers spring up within the next 5 years, is a disaster waiting to happen.

      1. Anyone who has experienced Bellevue decisions know how lacking in out-of-the-box solutions they have. That’s not only true for the anti-transit people involved, but also people who think of themselves as enlightened pro-transit people.

        Honestly, I think if the transit center was Redesigned to allow buses to turn-around at the 108th end, it would be a huge improvement. I think the buses could make the 180-degree maneuver — and if they couldn’t, a bus turntable could be dropped into place ( . I also think that red curb lanes on 110th between 4th and 8th (maybe as long as Main to 12th eventually) would be very beneficial for buses that don’t use 405, and could absorb the lost bus stops from any turn-around project at the BTC.

        Putting bus lanes on 110th would also reduce car demand and make it more viable to have more walk time between Link and the BTC.

      2. “what about scrapping the idea of a bus TC altogether? Downtown Seattle doesn’t have one.”

        3rd & Pike/Pine is equivalent to a transit center. Most routes go there and you can transfer between them.

    3. Officialdom says Bellevue TC will exceed capacity when the Stride lines and Kirkland RapidRide start, so it will have to be expanded somehow. 106th Ave NE, the original transit center location, is still part of the transit center, a driver told me during a reroute there. That would be too far from Link though. So I think the solution is more bus bays on 108th and 110th. I have no specific suggestions, but putting Stride on 110th makes sense because it’s closer to the Link station and would more effectively “extend” the Link network to Bothell, Renton, and Burien. A train-to-BRT transfer is almost as important as a train-to-train transfer, and more important than other train-to-bus transfers. RapidRide B riders can transfer at Wilburton and will probably have a shorter walk there.

      Don’t move the transit center to Wilburton. Part of what makes it the most successful transit center in the region is it’s within walking distance of Belleveue Square. most downtown highrises and apartments, and the movie theater, event theater, arts museum, Bellevue Park. Grabbing some short-term real-estate money is not worth harming the long-term transit network. The network is already limited; we need to make it better, not worse.

      1. I wonder how it would be if the K line skipped BTC and just stayed on 116th, connecting to Wilburton Station and the B Line at NE 8th.

    4. I haven’t thought about it too deeply, but every time I go there, it feels like whoever planned downtown Bellevue gets around by car exclusively, and figured they could make it more “urban” by simply adding buses and skyscrapers.

      Just walking around there is annoying. The roads are all 4 or 5 lanes, sidewalks often right up against cars going 40 miles per hour, and you have to hit those stupid buttons to request a walk signal (which takes a looong time) every time you cross an intersection.

      Much of the time, the walks are longer than they should be, because of all the parking lots. It would be nice if we could use the bus a bit to get around downtown and obviate some of the walking, but every bus has to go to the transit center, which is not in the center of downtown.

      So… we could get rid of the transit center, and just have buses run through, like they do in Seattle, except the Link station is going next to the transit center. You really need to be able to transfer between the buses and Link. But inexplicably, the station is going… east of the transit center?

      To be honest, the whole situation makes me too angry to think straight. I can’t come up with any plausible solutions.

      Hoping I can someday leave the Eastside and move back to the city.

      1. Yes, because only a few nuts like me didn’t get a car as soon as we were able to. The Bellevue expansion was planned in the 1980s and started being built in the 90s, and in the 80s fewer people considered transit than do now. My dad always drove to his job in Belltown. Some people rode the bus to downtown jobs or Boeing or UW, but other than that it was mostly us schoolkids and working-class people and the elderly. I still remember the Memorial Day I took the 255 from Kirkland to downtown and was the only person on the bus, and transferred to a 73X to the U-District which was articulated and 3/4 full.

        The planners in Bellevue always had a vision that it would have highrises but most people would drive. Kemper Freeman got into that too with high-end retail, assuming his target customer base would always drive and they’d only come if the streets weren’t too congested and parking was free. They both recognized the importance of having some downtown condos and thus pedestrians (and I think Kemper lives in one of those condos), but the real spending comes from drivers. So NE 8th Street was widened repeatedly. And now with the Spring District they’re widening both 120th and 124th to five lanes each. Five lanes!

        Why is the transit center a half block east of the bus bays and threatens to be a hill down to it? Because the city council didn’t want surface trains in front of city hall, and they rejected the sensible compromise of an underground station on 110th. So now there’s a short tunnel with no station, and a station in the hillside across the street and a half block east of the bus bays. How could transit riders have chosen that? How could people with transit riders in their family have chosen that? The inescapable conclusion is that people with no sense of passengers’ experience made the decisions. Balducci says she stood up against the decision but was outvoted. So that’s how we got here.

        It depresses me, and it dampens my enthusiasm about Bellevue and the Eastside where I grew up. But at least it’s better than San Jose and Santa Clara, which have even less frequent transit and shorter buildings and longer distances to walk.

    1. Fictional? Interesting choice of words there.

      After reading the Westneat piece in the Seattle Times last week I did have to wonder if perhaps the AG’s office was giving initiative opponents other challenge opportunities by their arguably poorly constructed title/summary that, in turn, they knew Eyman wasn’t smart or caring enough to appeal during the relevant window for doing so.

  5. Frank, the subject project is on 15th Avenue South and Columbian Way not on Beacon Avenue South; it is on Beacon Hill.

  6. Westneat: Seattle is subsidizing the rest of the state.
    Pierce & Snohomish Counties: providing housing for a workforce that Seattle leaders ignore and neglect.
    Seattle can “keep” its revenue once it provides enough affordable housing for all of its workers. Until that day comes, there is an moral obligation to share the revenue that workers throughout western WA are generating.

    1. “The rest of the state” is not just western Washington. No one commutes to Seattle from Ferry or Garfield Counties.

  7. The CHS blog piece about the pilot program for ride-share pickup zones made me say to myself, “you’ve got to be effing kidding me”. Signs printed and installed and until then no one involved in the planning realized that they got the days wrong. Seriously? Geeesh.

  8. Ride share pickup zones are a horrible precedent. Parking for private businesses removes parking for the general public. A better idea would be to make these zones (and yellow loading/unloading zones) standard pay parking. That way private business traffic can start paying its fair share.

    1. Loading zones allow a lot more people to make use of a space than making it medium-term parking does. Businesses need loading zones more than they need on-arterial parking. That said, bus and bike lanes would be an even better use, when such lanes are proposed.

      At any rate, give the pilot a chance. If it proves to be problematic, that will be useful data.

    2. “Loading zones allow a lot more people to make use of a space than making it medium-term parking does.”

      I agree, but question the comparison. Loading vehicles in paid parking spots will still result in a fast turnover parking space. Those same “more people” will still be making use of a space. Loading vehicles would be paying for the minimum time the meter would allow.

      Businesses need their products and services regardless of the nature of the parking. They’d still get those products and services. The only thing that changes is the nature of the spot being used to deliver those products and services.

      Local history shows that once a bad idea is implemented, it is difficult to get rid of. You see this in East King County, where MS shuttle busses turn area park and rides into stop and go transit traffic. There it isn’t just problematic, but it goes so far as to create an incredibly negative transit experience as a direct result of MS actions. Yet it still continues to this day.

  9. Landed at DEN and took the A line into Union Station. Horrible signage in the airport. Had to finally ask someone for help. And it still was hard.

    Now on LR and heading south on the E line. Also horribly signed. And some of the lines even list different destinations on the train as opposed to in the station. Crazy.

    And high floor cars? Really?

    I miss ST already.

    1. Oh. And the scheduled headway on the E line mid day is 26 min!!!! Who designs a system like that.

      No wonder their system wide LR ridership is only a bit higher than Links!

      1. The issue is that their light rail system is designed so that five light rail lines that end up downtown (C, D, E, F, H) all bottleneck south of downtown, so that it’s difficult to have good frequency on any individual line. In any case, RTD has such a bad driver shortage that they’re considering pretty serious service cuts right now, as opposed to any service improvements.

      2. The only time the E has 26 minute or longer headway is between midnight and 6am. RapidRide has a minimum frequency of 15 minutes until 10pm every day.

    2. I thought the A line was pretty good and it didn’t seem too hard to find, although I remember it being a solid walk to get to the station because that airport is so huge.

      It was also the highest speed train I’ve been on in the US outside of Amtrak in the Northeast Corridor. Nice to see an electrified line as well.

      1. That’s my impression of the A line as well. My experiences using it have all been pretty positive.

        Honestly, what I miss is the location of the old Stapleton airport. Before Denver got LR, getting out to the current airport was a royal pita. The A line is a vast improvement over that. IIRC, it’s like a 40-min ride, which is about the same as downtown Chicago to O’hare.

      2. It probably felt fast because of the higher acceleration rate which is a big benefit of electrification.

        Amtrak in Southern California hits 90 mph with diesel locomotives.

    3. That’s what happens when cities put light rail on highway medians to the suburbs instead of serving dense inner-city neighborhoods: the people who would be the most numerous and dedicated riders can’t use it, the people who do use it ride mostly peak hours and drive other times, and its frequency falls to half-hourly. This is a worst-case scenario repeated in other American cities. Seattle half avoided it by having stations in the middle of the U-District and Capitol Hill and Rainier Valley.

      When I was in Denver in the early 2000s the airport light rail didn’t exist yet and instead there was a half-hourly express bus with a $13 fare. The downtown bus shuttle and underground bus station were there.

      1. Ya. Except they are running 4-car trains at about 25% load factor. They could easily run 2-car trains at 15 min headways, except, you know, that takes money.

      2. The A-line is a private line running a $11.00 “tourist” fare so not interested in spending on locals.

      3. That’s what happens when cities put light rail on highway medians to the suburbs instead of serving dense inner-city neighborhoods

        Yeah, good thing we avoided that problem. Oh, wait …

        Except they are running 4-car trains at about 25% load factor. They could easily run 2-car trains at 15 min headways, except, you know, that takes money.

        Right. Running empty trains is expensive. We could run the buses every five minutes, except, you know, that takes money. I would buy an NBA team, and move them to Seattle, except, you know, that takes money. Golly gee, it sounds like the most important thing is to spend our money wisely, and avoid mistakes made by other cities. Good thing we did that. Oh wait …

  10. Why in the world would you link to an RWNJ’s vanity site. A new Columbia River Crossing is needed for Interstate Commerce. Sure, toll the hell out of SOV’s but Washington State needs a reliable I-5 link to California and Mexico.

    1. If you are trying to get a truck through Portland, you should be using I-205.

      I-5 CRC is only a problem because SOVs have no alternative. Provide an alternative, toll I-5, and see if we still have a problem.

    2. Sometimes the right wing nut jobs are right. Libertarians have been pushing to legalize weed for years. Pushing against a giant boondoggle of a freeway project sounds like a similar proposition. I’m not saying we should do nothing, but pretending that this the 1950s, and we just need another big freeway bridge, is a stupid policy. Claiming that failing to do that will force you to send money to the federal government is simply not true — as the article clearly points out.

      1. Did I say anything about the Federal penalty? I don’t remember having done so, and there’s nothing in my comment mentioning it.

        The new bridge is needed for two weight-related reasons. First, I-205 is just as crowded as I-5, so it’s not an inherently better route. It is flatter, which is certainly good for trucks.

        But more importantly, it is a bad route to/from Washington County and worse to/from the Port of Portland.

        Tolls will have to pay for more than half of the cost, because the Federal Transit Administration funds are no longer available. They paid for about 25% of the total project cost.

        If Oregon is successful in getting final approval for its congestion tolling project, there may be sufficient attraction to transit and carpooling that the current congestion goes away, but that would require pretty high tolls and a resultant downturn in Clark County’s economy.

        That’s why Washington supports a new bridge.

      2. Did I say anything about the Federal penalty?

        If someone writes an editorial, and then you write that the editorial is wrong, you are, in effect, writing about the subject the article focused on. Speaking of articles, which is the one that you claim is an “RWNJ’s vanity site”?

        Anyway, the idea that building a new bigger bridge will somehow fix the congestion problem is ridiculous.

  11. Given that your state doesn’t have an income tax, I’m not sure how you can make this argument. Quite the opposite, it seems like the bedroom communities have a pretty sweet deal. They get a bunch of property taxes, and they don’t have to provide the infrastructure for jobs.

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