100 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: The dystopian future of taxing gasoline”

  1. I originally thought route 62 was kind of a turkey. Now, I’m coming to the conclusion that it may be the future of bus service on 65th Ave NE, and the other three routes (64, 71, and 76) may go away. Getting rid of awkard duplicative service may be in part due to Tim Eyman, but really, that local tail on 71/76 just serves to get to a layover/turnaround location, route 65 can serve the 35th Ave NE downtown commuter market and UW market by heading across the NE 45th St Viaduct straight to U-District Station, and route 62 has multi-family and low-income housing to serve at Sand Point. Am I missing some notable ridership group?

    1. The 62 is an excellent route on 65th. Its Dexter, Fremont, and Stone Way parts are also good. Between Stone Way and 65th it’s unclear what the best routing is. The current routing connects Fremont to dense apartments on Greenlake, at the expense of backtracking. Metro’s RapidRide vision is 45th-Meridian-65th-Latona. The current routing would be reassigned to another Frequent route to the U-District and Northgate. I don’t know how that neighborhood feels about that.

      The 71 is one of a few excess routes or holding patterns that always gets cut in a recession. There is a larger issue with it. The 71 and former 72 connect northeast Seattle directly to northern University Way, whereas the 65 meanders through U-Village and gets caught in Montlake and campus traffic and ends up on Campus Parkway, which is further away from popular Ave destinations. 72 rides have long complained about the loss, and there’s now no route from Lake City to northern University Way. Should there be a route there? Could we do something more efficient than a silly turn on 65th?

    2. I think the 64 (truncated to Roosevelt station) still has value; otherwise, you’ve got people northeast of the station who can’t get downtown without either riding a bus all the way to UW station or riding two buses.

      The 71 is a garbage route; the only reason it even exists today is that a king county council member personally intervened to keep it during the 2016 u link restructure. It will almost certainly disappear in the next restructure.

      The 76 becomes entirely redundant once Roosevelt Station opens.

    3. The 64 is part of Metro’s vision of replacing downtown express routes with downtown-adjacent express routes. This one seems to make sense as it serves two big holes in Link’s network, First Hill and the Central District. You have expressed doubt about expresses to SLU, but this one avoids those problems.

    4. Is the 62 designed as the sort of route nobody would ride end to end? It connects Sand Point to Greenlake, and it connects Greenlake to downtown, but is anybody really using it to go from Sand Point / Ravenna all the way downtown? But maybe that’s not a problem as long as each segment is able to maintain a sufficient level of ridership.

      UW/U DIstrict is more than 1 destination. There’s really 3 competing goals that at best a bus could only achieve 2 of. 1 – serve UW campus, 2 – serve the Ave, 3 – connect people to Link. I think the 71’s long tail is inefficient, but it does connect Wedgwood and the upper U District. The 65 connects Wedgwood and UW campus. They serve different markets, so I think both are needed (unless ridership numbers show that the 71 isn’t being used). If the 65 is rerouted to U District station, then how would people get from Wedgwood to campus? Neither Link station will actually serve the campus proper without a long walk.

      I thought the idea of buses like the 74/76 was to utilize the I-5 express lanes. That’s the only time of day when those buses would be faster than bus–>Link. Presumably Metro will have this question again for Northgate Link. Should there still be rush hour 41/77/312 buses to downtown?

      1. Should there still be rush hour 41/77/312 buses to downtown [after Northgate Link]?

        In my opinion, no. They are just too expensive. There is an argument that rush hour expresses to parts of downtown not well served by Link be created (or retained). Of these, something involving South Lake Union and Uptown probably makes the most sense. For example, a bus from Northgate to South Lake Union and on to Lower Queen Anne could work. You might pick up riders who take connecting buses as well as those walking to the transit center.

        I’m still not convinced it would be worth it. It would have to be fairly frequent to compete with Link. Otherwise, someone wouldn’t bother waiting for the bus to SLU, but take the (very frequent) Link, even if means another transfer (since getting from downtown to SLU or Lower Queen Anne is quite frequent). There is a strong tendency to take the first available vehicle heading your way, instead of waiting for the one that gets you closer (or faster) to your destination. So that means you are hoping to fill up frequent buses that go to South Lake Union and Lower Queen Anne. That could happen, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Even if it did happen, I doubt it would be a good value.

        Feeder buses — like a 41 truncated at Northgate — are likely to be some of the most cost effective buses on our system. Like most of our buses, ridership will increase in peak direction at peak period (e. g. morning rush hour headed towards Northgate). In that sense, they are similar to an express to SLU. The difference is that they would be much cheaper to operate. The 65, for example, performs quite well at rush hour, with ridership per hour exceeding very crowded buses, like the 40. Yet the 40 carries more than twice as many riders. The only reason the 65 does so well in this very important metric is because it doesn’t take that long for the 65 to get from upper Lake City (where presumably most of the riders come from) to the UW. Many of the buses truncated at Northgate, Roosevelt or the U-District are bound to be far more efficient. Putting money into one-seat expresses instead of improving feeder service (or just improving the network as a whole) seems a bad value, in my opinion.

      2. “is anybody really using [the 62] to go from Sand Point / Ravenna all the way downtown?”

        If you’re going to NOAA it’s better than Link+75 or Link+65+75 because it avoids a 15-minute walk at the end and up to 15 minutes waiting for each transfer, plus the walk from Link to the 65 or 75, and the Stevens Way bus stop which has no bench or shelter. When Roosevelt Station opens it will become popular.

        “Should there still be rush hour 41/77/312 buses to downtown?”

        Not to downtown unless Link gets overcrowded. But to downtown-adjacent neighborhoods, maybe. The 3/4 is insufferably slow between 3rd Avenue and 9th Avenue, and is already full of commuters and wheelchair riders. An express to First Hill and Cherry Hill serves trips that Link isn’t good at, and if somebody wants to go downtown or Link is overcrowded they can transfer to a downtown route at Pine, or Madison.

      3. My concern is not whether there should be any First Hill expresses, but whether NE 35th Street is the right place for one. It’s one of the least dense areas in north Seattle. Would a route there give it more service than more populous neighborhoods in north Seattle?

      4. Is the 62 designed as the sort of route nobody would ride end to end? It connects Sand Point to Greenlake, and it connects Greenlake to downtown, but is anybody really using it to go from Sand Point / Ravenna all the way downtown?

        I live in the Ravenna area, and most of my trips on the 62 are shorter stints, but often when I’m downtown late at night, I’ll get back home by taking the 62. It’s a meandering path, but once it gets around midnight, my other choices (70/Link, then transfer to a 65/71/372) are either not running at all, or are so infrequent that it’s faster just to catch the 62 and take the long way around)

      5. “Should there still be rush hour 41/77/312 buses to downtown?”

        Not to downtown …. But to downtown-adjacent neighborhoods, maybe. The 3/4 is insufferably slow between 3rd Avenue and 9th Avenue… An express to First Hill and Cherry Hill serves trips that Link isn’t good at, and if somebody wants to go downtown or Link is overcrowded they can transfer to a downtown route at Pine, or Madison.

        Yeah, but those problems are best solved with better local service. Someone north of the ship canal headed to First Hill should just get off at Capitol Hill, and then walk or take a bus/streetcar. Whatever service you want to add from the north end to First Hill should be put into fixing the greater Central Area. That means making up for the streetcar’s failures by running additional buses on Broadway, and running a bus along Boren from (at least) Yesler to Denny. If you add good, fast, additional service in the urban core — in an area that many consider to be “downtown” — then everyone wins. You get very high ridership, as people from very urban areas (First Hill) travel to other very urban areas (Capitol Hill) while those transferring from outside benefit as well. That, in turn, means very high frequency, which means that riders from the north end (including me) aren’t the least bit concerned about the transfer.

        And yes, the same thing goes for Cherry Hill. It should be part of the grid. There are many ways to fix the problem, but it shouldn’t be easier to get from Northgate to Cherry Hill than it is to get from South Lake Union or Capitol Hill to Cherry Hill. Yet that is the current system, and that needs to be fixed.

    5. The 62 is an interesting route. It is very long, and I wonder if it is trying to do too much. Going over the Fremont bridge means that it can be delayed significantly. Since it is the most frequent bus along 65th — thus connecting Link riders to Ravenna and Sand Point — that could be a problem. I’m not sure how feasible it would be to split it, though. You want some service on Dexter connecting it to Fremont. I would try and run the 62 from Sand Point to Fremont, then find the closest layover. I would then run the 28 on Dexter, hopefully improving frequency on the 28 in the process.

      The other flaw is how it maneuvers through East Green Lake. It is too slow for a frequent bus. In my proposed change based on Northgate Link (https://seattletransitblog.com/2019/09/29/bus-restructure-for-northgate-link/), I took eddie’s advice, and made it faster. I back-filled some of that with a bus that runs only during peak (eddie wouldn’t). I punted on the rest of the 62, leaving it the same.

      The 71 and 76 are both weak. I can understand why some people want to just kill them. That would open up a pretty big service hole though. So instead I came up with a 71 that reverses the order of things, covering the apartments first, then the lower density areas. That would provide some additional riders along 35th (where most of the apartments are) with a one seat ride to the nearest Link station (at 65th). This would double up service on 65th, taking the pressure off of the 62. It would be a pretty short route, with a live loop in the east. I could see running that every 15 minutes and just keeping the 62 (a far more expensive route) at its current 15 minute service level. That would provide excellent combined coverage for the areas of 65th that have the most people (between 35th and Green Lake).

      1. The 62 is an interesting route. It is very long, and I wonder if it is trying to do too much. Going over the Fremont bridge means that it can be delayed significantly. Since it is the most frequent bus along 65th — thus connecting Link riders to Ravenna and Sand Point — that could be a problem. I’m not sure how feasible it would be to split it, though. You want some service on Dexter connecting it to Fremont. I would try and run the 62 from Sand Point to Fremont, then find the closest layover. I would then run the 28 on Dexter, hopefully improving frequency on the 28 in the process.

        My maybe selfish pet idea (which the service hours don’t exist for, and nobody else supports AFAIK) would be to split the 62 into a N/S route and an E/W crosstown route. The N/S route route would terminate at Roosevelt station. The E/W route would continue along NE 45th St to Ballard, along Market St.

      2. Re the 62 between Roosevelt and Wallingford. The route yoy chose is the right one, as shown by the street widths. It’s the route of ttheformrt hatedstreetcar©.

      3. The 62 has problems and it’s excessively slow from 65th to Dexter or downtown, but there’s no place to split it without ruining some trips. Before it there was no good way to get from Fremont to Roosevelt or 65th. or from Roosevelt to Dexter. If you split it at Greenlake or Fremont, those problems would come back.

      4. My maybe selfish pet idea … would be to split the 62 into a N/S route and an E/W crosstown route. The N/S route route would terminate at Roosevelt station. The E/W route would continue along NE 45th St to Ballard, along Market St.

        Hmmm, that is interesting. I like the idea of splitting it between an east-west and north-south route. If I follow you correctly, it means the following: A N/S route would go from downtown to Roosevelt. The E/W route follows the current path from Sand Point to Fremont, but then heads to Ballard.

        I suppose that would work, except my guess is it would be rather expensive. You are overlapping from Fremont to Roosevelt. You are also extending to Ballard. I like it, I’m just not sure we can afford it.

      5. The 62 has problems and it’s excessively slow from 65th to Dexter or downtown, but there’s no place to split it without ruining some trips. Before it there was no good way to get from Fremont to Roosevelt or 65th. or from Roosevelt to Dexter. If you split it at Greenlake or Fremont, those problems would come back.

        I would split at Fremont (I think most people would) so that solves the Fremont to Roosevelt/65th problem. As for Roosevelt to Dexter, you transfer. There are lots of transfers within our system, and Roosevelt to Dexter is by no means special.

        To be clear, I respect and understand why you would have a route that long. I wish we had more routes like that, back in the day. But as we grow, it loses its value. General, all-day traffic kills it, while increased ridership makes it superfluous. We aren’t running buses every half hour, in a sleepy, one company town. We need to change our approach.

        Frequency is more important than speed. Speed and reliability are more important than front door service or the number of transfers. That means that in the city, we should build a system based on shorter, faster, more frequent and reliable routes. If that means making a transfer from Roosevelt to Dexter, so be it.

    6. If the 65 is rerouted to U District station, then how would people get from Wedgwood to campus? Neither Link station will actually serve the campus proper without a long walk.

      For what its worth, I sent the 75, not the 65, to the U-District Station. But that begs the question: How would people get from Sand Point to campus? The short answer is “walk or transfer”. They are not alone. Places like Eastlake have way more people than places like Wedgwood and Sand Point, yet the 70 does not loop through campus. If you are headed to lower campus, you are going to have to walk or transfer. The same is true for various areas around town — not just the UW. To get to Belltown from Link (or many buses) you have to walk or transfer. There really is no good alternative to covering a large area. Looping around to minimize transfers makes the system extremely slow and infrequent.

      1. There was once a pair of stops at 17th when the 30 ran. They could probably be re-established. The 75 to U District would be a favorite for Children’s riders because the transfer will probably be better than at HSS.

    7. I live in the Ravenna/Wedgewood area, and use all these buses to some degree (though I only use the 64 for trips along 65th).

      When Northgate Link opens, the 76 can be deleted. It will require some riders who currently have a one-seat ride to/from downtown to transfer to/from Link at Roosevelt Station, but with trains arriving at 6 minute peak headways in 2021, and 4 minute peak headways starting in 2023, total travel time should be similar, and often improved in the evening.

      I’m fine with deleting the 71, and moving its (relatively few) service hours to the 62/65/75. My impression is that its View Ridge tail has very few riders. I would like to retain a high-frequency bus corridor (5-10 minutes all day) along 15thAve NE/the Ave, at least between Roosevelt and UW Stations, for people making intermediate trips (especially those with mobility impairments).

      1. I would like to retain a high-frequency bus corridor (5-10 minutes all day) along 15thAve NE/the Ave, at least between Roosevelt and UW Stations, for people making intermediate trips (especially those with mobility impairments).

        Yeah, I agree, but I just want to clarify that we are talking about the same thing. There are three different corridors between 65th and Campus Parkway, here is a list (from north to south):

        1) Roosevelt all the way (to Campus Parkway). Right now the 67 serves this with frequent service.

        2) Roosevelt and then Ravenna to the Ave. The 45 serves this right now.

        3) 15th and then Cowen Place to the Ave. The 71 and (3)73 cover this right now.

        The first and second corridors are worth serving frequently, whereas the third corridor should be abandoned. There is only one stop between the Ave and 65th, and that one is very close to 65th. So you gain nothing in terms of coverage.

        I would either abandon the 15th corridor completely, or create a bus that connects the northern part of 15th to the Roosevelt Station (laying over at Green Lake), but running only during rush hour. I call that it the 77 on my map. There just isn’t enough density to give the 3(73) enough frequency to allow it to compete with the 67. I abandon those buses and extend the 67 up to 145th (and layover where the 73 lays over). Most of the riders headed to the UW on the existing 73 will simply walk a few blocks to the longer 67 instead of the current system, which sucks. Right now they have to choose between a very infrequent bus (the 73) or a very unpleasant transfer (via the 347/348 to the 67).

        As long as the 67 is extended, I think it is fine going on Roosevelt Way. That is a good bus, keeping on the main corridor until it turns to serve the UW. Along the way it goes right by the Link station at 65th.

        The challenge is how to serve the second corridor, which is probably the most important. There are a lot of people along that corridor, and many want a quick connection to Link, or just a way to get to the U-District or back. There are a number of different ways to serve the riders. One is to beef up the 45 (justified in its own right). I don’t do that, instead helping out Greenwood riders with a new bus connecting them to Northgate (the 45 and this new bus would ideally be timed, thus allowing very frequent service to Link). You could shift the 67 over, and backfill with a less frequent bus, but I don’t like that, simply because I think the Roosevelt corridor should have frequent service. Another option would be to double up service via another bus. As mentioned, the 73 should go away. A bus going along Lake City Way to the Roosevelt Station could be extended to the U-District, and layover at Campus Parkway. Unfortunately, the main bus that does that is the 522, run by Sound Transit. They aren’t likely to be willing to extend service to the U-District, and instead will layover at Green Lake. So instead of doubling up service from the north, I double it up from the south. I send the 31/32 up to 65th, laying over at Green Lake. That would mean two different ways to get from the Roosevelt neighborhood to Fremont (much as there are three different ways to get from Lake City to the UW).

      2. I agree that post 2021 service should be focusing on getting NE Seattle people to Link quickly, rather than one seat rides to downtown adjacent neighborhoods. Even with the express lanes, it’s still a long backup down the exit ramp, and on surface streets after getting off the freeway. And, then, there’s the service hour cost, with every full-length 64 to SLU costing at least double that of a truncated 64 to Roosevelt Station. So, a half full feeder bus actually has the same or greater efficiency as a completely full bus that goes all the way downtown. Plus, much of SLU – particularly the parts with the largest buildings – are within walking distance of Westlake Station, anyway.

        To provide a specific example, consider a trip from my previous home near the u village and Westlake/Denny, right in the middle of SLU, making the trip at around noon on a weekday. Taking Lyft all the way (the equivalent of the peak express), it took about 25 minutes. Riding a Lime bike to UW station, then Link to Westlake station, and walking from Westlake station took the exact same 25 minutes. Replace UW station with Roosevelt station, replace Lime bike with the #62 bus, it’s exactly the same situation. The peak express may save a transfer and/or walking, but under realistic weekday traffic conditions, it won’t actually get you there any faster.

      3. @RossB

        I basically agree with your analysis of the three corridors, but I am leery of making N/S U-District buses too dependent on Roosevelt. I think there are two factors in favor of Roosevelt RapidRide:

        1) It should have a decent Link transfer
        2) As time goes on, the U-District’s center of gravity will shift north and west, and bus service on Roosevelt will better fit this change.

        OTOH, traffic on Roosevelt can absolutely crawl, usually starting somewhere between NE 45th St and NE 65th St. There are times when I give up, get off the bus early, and walk the rest of the way.

      4. @PhillipG

        My point is that from 45th to 65th, there should be frequent service on both Roosevelt and The Ave/Roosevelt. The latter could move east, on Cowen to 15th. But that is moving away from Link, as well as moving away from density.

        Yes, traffic is a problem. But corridors whose only advantage is faster travel (like 15th between 65th and Northgate Way) should have bus service only at rush hour. Even then, it may not be worth it. Car traffic is flexible. I know not to drive on NW 85th, because traffic is bad. I drive on 80th. But the bus must go through, and it goes on 85th. The fact that savvy drivers (like me) drive 80th means that 85th isn’t as crowded as it would be. If they send buses on 80th, then bus service on 85th would suffer, as more drivers head to 85th. There is value in consolidation. It leads to much better frequency, and ultimately, faster speeds.

        Speaking of which, another advantage of consolidation is that it increases the chance that we get some sort of transit related improvement on the corridor. If you have lots of buses on a particular street, and they carry lots of riders, then getting a bus lane is much easier than if you have buses spread out.

        Run buses where the people are. 85th, not 80th — 45th, not 50th — Roosevelt, not 15th. Then fight like hell to get the bus lanes on those streets.

    8. Route 62 is solid. It will do better without routes 71 and 76. It could be truncated at NE 74th Street. it should be streamlined in the Green Lake area; it should serve Tangletown. The bus island on Dexter Avenue North between Roy and Mercer streets should be taken out; it leads to gridlock when the right turning queue backs up into the single through lane. SDOT helped by taking the parallel parking off Fremont Avenue North between North 34th and 35th streets.

      1. If you remove the bus islands, won’t the buses be stuck in traffic getting back into the lane. It’s better for cars to wait behind a bus than for a bus to wait for a gap in cars.

  2. Never heard of The Competitive Enterprise Institute, or seen a copy of The Green New Deal. So maybe by way of an introduction, CEI can give me a couple of references.

    Quote me where it says that my relatives and I are forbidden to live where we can walk or take transit for Holiday visits. Or based on increasingly frequent blockage by accidents I’m seeing firsthand, that I won’t get pumpkin pie and turkey bones all over the inside of my car while I’m trapped for three hours due to a mistake by some wingless turkey on his i-pad?

    You want to talk “Competitive”, how ’bout we follow the long lead of countries that demand a much higher level of proven driving skills than is the case here?

    Also want to see the balance sheet as to how much gas money and depreciation I save if I only use my car where it’s enjoyable. Which has really been my car usage most of my life. I’ve always looked at my transit taxes my best guarantee of a fast, comfortable, and reliable ride to work. Call it maintenance.

    Competition is supposed to mean choice, isn’t it? So I’m giving somebody else the positive choice not to be competing with me for road space every single trip of both our lives. Like my worst threat to the Sound Transit Board….shape up, CEI, or I’ll yield my whole two minutes to Alex Tsimerman.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I’ve not been to lots of Other countries, but the horror stories I’ve heard from world travelers across Asia, Africa, South America and parts of Europe suggest that US drivers are probably more obedient than most. Manila, Kinshasa, Tehran and Mumbai sound pretty dang scary!

    2. Ignoring the scare tactics I believe the federal gas tax is the same as it was 26 years ago. Think we’re due for an increase?

      1. It’s viewed as being dystopian do to the misplaced sense that driving = freedom & that freedom is being threatened. But of course that is nonsense & nobody is taking away driving from citizens.

        That said, this is a form of dystopia I actually find enjoyable.

  3. I think they could just play this as-is on SNL.

    I’m glad that they think the dystopian future facing America is a normal-looking family using active transportation to visit loved ones for the holidays.

    Also, I guess electric cars don’t exist?

    1. How are they carrying the turkey on the serving platter they showed? None of the baskets have a long flat package. Of course, a real scooter rider would take an uncooked turkey packed in a shopping bag and cook it there.

      1. Seems like a cargo bike would work pretty well here. Also, I’ve never been to a Thanksgiving where the turkey is cooked elsewhere and brought to the hosting home.

        The biggest barrier to climate action in our society is going to be the general laziness of our populis.

      2. Even if we assume, for the sake of argument, that Grandma’s house is too far to get to on scooters, and that electric cars don’t exist, Thanksgiving is something that happens just once per year, so the gas tax would have to be on the order of hundreds of dollars per gallon in order for a once-per-year activity to meaningfully affect a middle-class family’s ability to pay their mortgage. The Green New Deal wouldn’t be nearly that drastic. What matters in the scheme of things is the everyday commute to work, not the once-per-year Thanksgiving trip to Grandma’s.

  4. With Ballard Link potentially delayed until 2040, Metro/Seattle should focus on something for the 44 and D in the interim. Twenty years is a long time to more 45-minute trips to Ballard. ST3 has some funds for routes C & D improvements, although those may be the first to be cut. If that happens, Metro/Seattle should look at funding the D improvements another way and accelerating RapidRide 44 as a priority.

    1. I think king county should partner with Uber to fill in the gaps of transit. Instead of more bus trips, how about dedicated lanes for Uber/Lyft vehicles. More dedicated Uber/Lyft pick up and drop off stops. Uber is more versatile than transit, operates on demand, and 24/7. To me this is a no brained

      1. To me this is a no brained

        Yeah, well put. It is probably not what you meant to write, but well put, nonetheless. To be fair, there probably was some brain involved, just not enough.

        Sorry, I couldn’t help it. Anyway, the best summation of the issues involved are here: https://humantransit.org/2018/02/is-microtransit-a-sensible-transit-investment.html. The flowchart itself pretty much nails it, but the rest of it is worth the read (since Walker is such a good writer).

    2. My first instinct is to wonder if Seattle wouldn’t be better chipping in to backfill the funding for Ballard Link and DSTT2 and get them open in 2035, instead of paying for more and better bus service.

      But even 2035 is also a long way to wait for Ballard Link- if Seattle growth proceeds apace, we’ll have a population density on par with Chicago by then. Regardless of whether Ballard Link opens in 2035 or 2040, we need more and faster transit service sooner, which means improving our buses.

      I’d love to see improved crosstown bus service throughout Seattle, so I’d be excited for any upgrades to the 44, and there seems to be some push for bus lanes and queue jumps along 45th in Wallingford and the U-District. I haven’t ridden the D as often, so I’m less sure of what’s needed to speed its route.

      1. Seattle should abandon Ballard Rail. Uber and Lyft already serve the area well. If anything, I’d like to see bus service cuts if it translates to lower property taxes. As it is there are too many buses crowding the streets, making driving through and around the area nearly impossible.

      2. @Morgan

        Did you know that adult cats don’t meow to each other much? They typically reserve their meows for humans!

        Cats are wonderful companions, and if you don’t already have one living with you, consider adopting a cat into your home!

      3. It’s always interesting to see alternate realities put forth here as though they were factual. Say there are 60 people on a bus, which takes up about four car lengths. And say all those 60 people could not ride a bus and instead took Uber or Lyft, Most of those people would be traveling alone, but let’s say 15 of them traveled in some combination together. So there would be 45 cars instead of one bus taking us four car lengths.

        Obviously, there will a lot more room on the roads in this scenario.

        Or, alternatively, your alternative reality is make believe.

        Or else I’m feeding a troll, for which I apologize.

      4. “As it is there are too many buses crowding the streets, making driving through and around the area nearly impossible.”

        On the contrary, I think there are too many cars crowding the streets, making busing through and around the area nearly impossible. Time to cut car service (e.g. replace traffic lanes with bus lanes).

    3. How about an express bus to 14th and Market? According to our transit overlords that should be good enough.

    4. It seems to me the thing to do for both West Seattle and Ballard is start with the bridges. D Service is awful because of traffic backups on both sides of the Ballard bridge. Make the new bridge something that can be converted to light rail and provides a dedicated bus crossing.

      Or, make the Ballard to downtown segment part of the 1st Ave streetcar until the expensive part (the 2nd downtown tunnel) is done, then knock out a few inches of the platforms to take the slightly wider Link cars.

      1. It will be a while before the Ballard Bridge is redone. I think it is unlikely that they would build it high enough to work well for light rail. They could — and there is a proposal for that — but that has issues as well. As The Urbanist pointed out, (https://www.theurbanist.org/2019/10/22/agencies-must-get-out-of-their-silos-to-get-ballard-bridge-replacement-right/) a high bridge would go well above Leary, landing at Market. That would kill the connection between the D and the 40 and make the area around there a mess. That is at 65 feet, which is 5 feet shorter than the proposed light rail bridge. It isn’t clear how easy it would be to run the light rail on it, either.

        They could just build a wider bridge, at roughly the same height it is now. I could see adding bus lanes and a much wider bike/pedestrian path. It isn’t clear how much more it would cost, though, and I doubt there would be much enthusiasm for spending a bunch of money on a transit corridor when it will all be out of date soon. It is also possible that the movable bridge would be just a bit wider (to accommodate bikes) but the approach from both sides would be widened (on the right side). That would mean that a bus would merge very close to the actual bridge, which would be similar to the Montlake Bridge (https://goo.gl/maps/eRKfmAgZuC3eNH7k7). That is almost as good as having a bus lane all the way across, since it allows a bus to get to the front before the bridge closes and allows vehicles through. That is still a lot of money, and not likely to happen anytime soon.

        But there are a number of things that can be done, the problem is finding the money. The 40 was one of the RapidRide+ routes (http://stb-wp.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/17214000/BRT-Corridor-Maps.006.png) slated for improvement with MoveSeattle, but they budgeted poorly. They can’t afford that, even though it would carry a lot of people (somewhere around 25,000 if the estimates are right). Ideally the Fremont Bridge would become transit and bike only, with a new car bridge on 3rd, but again, that isn’t likely to happen.

        There are a few cheap things that can be done though. The time restrictions for the bus lanes on Elliot need to be extended at least a few hours, if not all day. I would also add a new bus route (although again, this costs money). It would go like so: https://goo.gl/maps/hALKJL9dDFGxV5GQ8. This would mean that riders in the middle of Ballard could catch a fast ride to downtown (instead of the 40). It skips Queen Anne, which means that it would be faster for those in Interbay. That would be a fairly fast bus (making its run in far less time than the D or 40) which means it would be cheaper than increasing service on the D, even though it would serve a good part of it. If Metro runs a bus from Northgate to Crown Hill (which seems likely) then riders would take the 40 or this bus if they are headed to Northgate. At worse they would transfer to the other bus (https://goo.gl/maps/k96YHhrQd4Lpfnvq9).

  5. When our culture morphed Thanksgiving into a travel holiday, we missed the original point. It’s supposed to be a dinner shared with your neighbors!

    It’s not like the Pilgrims flew home to England! They shared gratitude and food right where they are — with native Americans and others from their religious community.

    I’m all for deconstructing our Thanksgiving travel cultural myth and staying put! Think of how much time would be saved and pounds of carbon that would be reduced!

      1. Actually, the left is mostly silent on air travel, because they are guilty of it themselves. So knock yourself out. They won’t say a word.

      2. You can do whatever you want. Just don’t act surprised when it gets a lot more expensive at some point in the future.

        You sound like a child.

    1. Pick your traditions, I guess.

      Taking a horse-drawn sleigh to Thanksgiving at grandma’s seemed nice, but I guess the reduction in fossil fuel ground transportation is the real tragedy.

  6. I get lost in the discussions about longer distance rail, so I’d love to see a quantitative summary of the tradeoffs for the options to improve train service from Portland to Seattle and Vancouver BC. It sounds like there’s three choicess that could go on the table:

    1) Upgrading the existing track (mostly owned by BNSF and Union Pacific) for 110mph service, and to handle more frequent service, plus paying the UP/BNSF to allow more frequent passenger trains
    2) Building entirely new (publicly-owned) track for 125mph service
    3) Building entirely new (publicly-owned) track for 200+mph service

    Ideally, the comparison would include total capital costs, total operating costs (over, say, 20 years), total time to build, and total Portland/Seattle travel time (including slowing, stopping, and accelerating again)

    1. I understand the historical reasons why private companies own tracks. Still, every other mode is modeled by government ownership of the lines (“tracks”) (roads, air traffic, inland waterways) with private companies operating on them (Trucking companies, airlines, barge lines).

      Until we bring rail into a public-private environment similar to every other mode, we will struggle to get any viable modern system operating.

  7. Community Transit is planning to terminate most of their commuter routes at Northgate Station for a connection with Link in 2021 (https://northgate.participate.online/)

    My biggest concern is getting Southbound buses through exit 173 and on to Northgate Station efficiently. Any offramp can jam up during peak hours, but I’m especially concerned with Northgate as it has a reputation for being a chokepoint. Now that this is becoming a two-seat ride, it’s essential that we get the transfer right.

    Southbound exit 173 is unusual in that there are two approaches to reach Northgate Way:
    1. South-facing approach: Bear right and you end up at the intersection of Northgate Way and Corliss facing south.
    2. North-facing approach: Bear left and you overshoot Northgate Way, then cloverleaf back around on Corliss, ending up at the intersection of Northgate Way and Corliss facing north. Now you have a free right east towards Northgate Station.

    My proposal:
    1. Extend the exit lane as far north (towards N 117th St) as possible, widening the freeway into the existing buffer. There’s plenty of margin to do this without grabbing land, and there’s already a soundwall in place.
    2. Split the lane into the North-facing and South-facing approaches immediately after the exit branches off the freeway. This is similar to what happens at exit 169 Southbound (wide lane splits into 45th and 50th exits almost immediately).
    3. South-facing approach remains general-purpose, North-facing approach becomes HOV.
    4. Widen where North-facing approach meets Corliss to Northgate Way to two lanes. Left lane is for westbound turns onto Northgate Way, right lane is for free rights eastbound onto Northgate Way.

    Result: Westernmost exit lane to South-facing approach may pile up with SOVs, but the inner exit lane to North-facing approach flows freely. HOVs that that take North-facing approach with intent to travel eastbound (towards Northgate Station) are separated from westbound traffic. Considering also the free right on eastbound Northgate Way onto southbound 1st Ave NE, buses would often be able to make it to Northgate Station without stopping. I expect this could shave 5-10 minutes off of transfers in the worst of conditions.

    Anyone want to shoot holes in this before I propose it to ST?

    1. Lynnwood opens just a few years later. What improvements justify construction that would function only for less than four years at most?

    2. I don’t know if the extra 49 AM peak-of-peak hour buses in the 12 400 (excluding 424, which uses SR 520) series will impact the road approach.

      I’ve been told the reason why CT is now considering the truncations is because of a last-minute design change for Northgate Station’s bus bays. The additional 20 peak-of-peak hour buses on the 6 800-series buses and 14 510 series buses will fit, at least for bus bay purposes. The extra 49 400-series buses will not fit, given the bus bay designs.

      I didn’t get a clear answer as to any traffic study approaching the station.

      For contextual purposes, assuming continued service levels, there would be 33 local AM peak-of-peak buses approaching the station from the north, which is slightly less than current traffic, and possibly 16 additional 300-series buses.

      About half of CT’s commuter fleet are double-talls. They may take up less space at bays, but they take longer to board and de-board. As a side note, I recall there being an obstruction preempting use of double-talls for U-District routes, so the ability to get them to Northgate may be an additional factor driving the truncation.

      I get the sense that if there were a way to handle all the peak-of-peak buses boarding and deboarding at Northgate Station, CT would propose it. I’d like ST to think harder and come up with options, even if it means having temporary peak-only bays further away from the station.

      I explained in previous comment thread how Link could handle the extra boardings at Northgate by alternating 3-car trains to Angle Lake and Stadium Station during peak hours, using slightly fewer LRVs during the peak period than under the current plan, and 25% fewer LRVs off-peak.

      It is clearly in ST’s interest and humanity’s interest to find a way to truncate the whole CT commuter fleet at Northgate (excluding the 424). For CT commuters, halving the headway, or better, on each commuter route should be an improvement to wait+travel time on all routes.

    3. Any offramp can jam up during peak hours, but I’m especially concerned with Northgate as it has a reputation for being a chokepoint.

      Really? I’ve never heard 303 riders complain about it. The schedule in fact, assumes a consistent time to Northgate, but the times to get to downtown (from Northgate) are marked with an asterisk (meaning it is estimated). Google doesn’t consider it very time consuming either. They estimate a consistent three minutes (https://goo.gl/maps/M2tGLsEgq2USqJGJA). So most of the (random) delay is in the general purpose lanes to get over to the exit. It is unfortunate that the bus has to leave the HOV lanes, but there is no way that an HOV ramp would be built there (not with Link being extended in a couple years).

      Anyhow, as the Seattle Time reported a while ago, SDOT will consider adding bus lanes on the surface, to help things along. That is likely to be more than sufficient to deal with what is likely to be a very minor problem.

      1. The Northgate exit ramp is unlikely to be nearly as bad as the Stewart St. exit ramp buses have to contend with today. Especially during the AM peak, when the mall and surrounding retail are mostly empty; at 8 AM on a weekday morning, people are off to work, not going shopping.

      2. Yeah, I agree. Morning traffic isn’t a big problem. You do have traffic in the evening (as everyone is headed home) but the northbound ramps are very close to the station. This may be where SDOT adds a bus lane (heading north) since it wouldn’t take much to improve things. In general, the Community Transit buses will be fine.

        The only spot that I think could be problematic would be southbound in the evening (for the 512). That is the only time you will see significant congestion for a significant distance. But when there is congestion there, the freeway is much, much worse. It is often stop and go from Northgate to downtown, which will make the transfer seem heavenly.

    4. To be honest I don’t have much experience in Northgate other than passing through occasionally during peak hours, when congestion seems to be a huge issue on the freeway, but apparently it isn’t on the offramp. I’m glad to hear that my assumption is false and that traffic shouldn’t be much of a problem on exit 173. Looking forward to catching the 512 at Northgate.

      1. I’ve only seen it from the 41 and 75 but my impression is most of the bottleneck is on Northgate Way. On the freeway the congestion seems to be more in the travel lanes rather than around the exits. You see a big mass of cars where the express lanes end, and going southbound you run into other masses at the Ship Canal and SLU. The Northgate exits seem small compared to those. I’m concerned about the part between the exits and the transit center, because Northgate Way is already at capacity.

  8. Regarding I-976 election results….

    First off, kudos to the Snohomish County Auditor’s Elections Department for being on top of their game, especially with regard to reporting frequent updates and providing precinct data.

    Overall, Snohomish County overwhelmingly approved I-976:
    Yes 115, 537 (58.2%)
    No 82,941 (41.8%)

    The other day I culled the data to segregate the results for the precincts in SnoCo that are also in the RTA district. These are the I-976 results within those 436 precincts:

    Yes 60,278 (53.6%)
    No 52,199 (46.4%)

    So, as you can, support for the initiative even within the ST district was fairly strong.

    Looking back at the ST3 vote in 2016, these were the SnoCo results:

    Approve 98, 495 (51%)
    Reject 94,619 (49%)

    Clearly by 2016 ST had learned the lessons of 1995 and 2007 and deliberately scheduled the ST3 vote in a presidential election year. Frankly, I think if the ST3 vote had been held just one year later, particularly after the Lynnwood Link busted estimate disclosure, there is a very good chance the measure wouldn’t have passed in Snohomish County as well as Pierce County. This, along with less support from King County due to a lower voter turnout in general, might have been enough to doom the measure. I mention this as I get the general sense that support for ST has eroded here in SnoCo since the 2016 vote and this may indeed be reflected in the recent election results.

    Prior to the Nov 5, 2019 election, I had posted a couple of times on this blog that I suspected that I-976 had a decent chance of passing in Snohomish County, based on (admittedly) anecdotal evidence from my interactions with other members of my community here in the SW portion of the county. I just didn’t think it would pass with such a strong majority.

    1. I think that a portion of voters supported the overall concept of ST3 but felt that vehicle fee was too unfair. A body of people probably feel that a fairer taxation mechanism is in order like a higher property tax or sales tax.

      I’d advise letting the legal dust settle. Then, if needed, go back to the voters in 2024 for a cleanup funding scheme. By then, Northgate and Eastlink will be operating and Redmond, Federal Way and Lynnwood may be. I expect costs for West Seattle and SLU/ Ballard will be better defined and will rise. The enthusiasm of new stations will lead to a likely voter approval.

      I’m much more worried about service for Metro funded by the City of Seattle. That’s a scenario without a good alternative.

      1. What about 2020? If a replacement funding source can be offered quickly, 2020 seems like a high-tide election for progressive voter turnout.

      2. I think 2020 is too early for ST. That’s because the court rulings or bond resolution issues won’t be resolved when the measures have to get authorized to go on the ballot. There aren’t new lines in operation by then either. The environmental decisions on West Seattle and Ballard won’t be complete.

        I’d rather anything for 2020 focus on Metro service funding inside the City if Seattle. It’s our transit backbone and is a more urgent funding situation. Let’s not muddy the waters with multiple items to fund transit!

      3. Let’s not muddy the waters with multiple items to fund transit!

        Actually, since the Snohomish and Pierce County subareara voted for I-976, and King County voted No when the issue was preserving bus service, something that accelerates and improves Link construction *and* improves bus service seems the best combo.

        Institute a county carbon tax, and use it to fund a local Green New Deal, including all electric buses for the accelerated rollout of RapidRide, more bus lanes and signal priority (not just on RapidRide), upgrading to carbon-negative concrete in Link construction by building a local plant to produce the carbon-negative concrete (and go into the business selling it to the private sector), build Ballard Station on 15th or 20th, and give West Seattle its tunnel, with a down payment on the cost of tunneling to Westwood and White Center. Accelerate Eastgate Link, and extend it beyond South Kirkland.

        Fund a countywide bike/scooter commuter network, not a swervy jogging trail network.

        Oh, and make transit free for kids, ORCA LIFT qualifiers, RRFP holders, and enrolled members of tribes within the county as partial payment for the land taken from them at gunpoint. Heck, just make it free already, if the numbers crunch out.

        Peanut butter and ribbon cuttings. Just, please, no more “transit centers” (except as a place for the electric buses to plug in).

        Since, we are told by Gov. Eyman, Seattle owns the state legislature, getting authority should be a snap.

    2. Thanks for culling the data.

      It is notable that I-976 passed in the Snohomish subarea of ST’s taxing district by over a percent more than it passed statewide.

      It remains notable that ST3 originally passed with over 54% of the vote, compared to I-976’s less than 53%. Proclamations of overwhelming passage remain greatly exaggerated.

      I’m curious if the more rabidly pro-I-976 voters outside the ST district in Snohomish County would be getting a car tab or other tax decrease even if I-976 is fully enacted.

      There may yet be a silver lining, if Gov. Inslee cancels some major highway construction projects. There are only so many ways for the state to move toward carbon neutrality, and that may be the least painful option.

      And yes, I realize all that concrete and cement being poured for Link is a non-trivial contributor to the climate crisis, with the offset taking decades, just like planting trees. The state should be throwing in extra money to get ST to use carbon-negative concrete. The state should also be incentivizing electric cars, not charging them special taxes.

      1. You’re cherry picking the Snohomish subarea, but what about King, where it failed by nearly 20 points? You can’t blame it on people that don’t own cars.
        According to the most recent data, 81% of people in Seattle – which voted no by at least 50 points- pay the same car tabs to Sound Transit as people in Snohomish county.

        From the overall perspective of Sound Transit, the “mandate” is the combined vote of the entire ST district – 53% no, 47% yes.

      2. @asdf2
        “You’re cherry picking the Snohomish subarea,…”

        Yes, no one is saying otherwise. That was the whole point of the exercise, i.e., to cull the data to see where things shook out among the SnoCo part of the RTA district.

        How the initiative fared in King County, or for that matter in Pierce County, misses the point.

      3. @Brent W

        “Proclamations of overwhelming passage remain greatly exaggerated.”

        Where are you seeing such claims being made? I ask this sincerely as I haven’t seen/read/heard such proclamations being made.

        “I’m curious if the more rabidly pro-I-976 voters outside the ST district in Snohomish County would be getting a car tab or other tax decrease even if I-976 is fully enacted.”

        Yes they would. See this link for the list of TBDs in the state.

        http://mrsc.org/Home/Explore-Topics/Governance/Forms-of-Government-and-Organization/Special-Purpose-Districts-in-Washington/TBD-List-Map.aspx

      4. “You’re cherry picking the Snohomish subarea”

        He’s answering a question many of us have raised: how did the Snohomish ST subarea vote, and how different was it from Snohomish’s countwide vote? We also want to know that about the other subareas. It doesn’t affect the outcome but it gives us the subarea’s pulse so we can compare it over time and to the other subareas and to the county/city governments’ positions. There’s clearly an intra-subarea disagreement between Snohomish’s governments and voters, and the same in Pierce. The King County subareas are more mild by comparison. it will take longer to digest what this means and what if anything we should do about it, but the first step is to quantify the opposition and see where the pro/con faults are and how significant they are. It would do the Snohomish governments good to mull this over with their residents.

    3. I still go back to what you imply: It is all about turnout. I have yet to see one tiny bit of evidence that a single voter has changed their mind. Don’t get me wrong. I could certainly see why it could happen. You wake up, and realize that despite the big campaign, Link is coming to Lynnwood regardless of what happens to ST3.

      But by everything I’ve read, it is all about turnout. Left leaning voters vote during big elections. Right leaning voters vote every election. There are reasons for this. Those who are well to do think nothing of voting. It is just another task in their everyday, somewhat mundane life. Those that just got laid off, just got dumped, just got evicted, just had their kid kicked out of school — they have a different perspective. To them, voting for city council (or what now?) really isn’t that important. Oh wait, you are telling me that it is a race between a self declared socialist, and a self declared progressive, and I’m supposed to deal with this before I fill out the kid’s permission slip, after I take them to the clinic to deal with the ear infection? Yeah, pardon me if I let this slip. Sorry but, I know the President is different. I know my congressman is different. They have real power, and I’m supposed to feel guilty if I let this one slip, and forget to send in my ballot.

      Eyman may be an idiot, but he ain’t stupid. Of course he picked an off year election. He counted on the fact that the folks that can’t quite afford a working car and take transit, or at the very least, sympathize with those that do — the folks that call right wing bullshit bullshit — were going to be too busy dealing with their life to vote, while every uptight, all-we-need-to-do-is-stop-the-libtards/reactionary voter was going to vote (with great confidence) filling in that Yes vote as dark as it could possibly be. This is not a change of heart by the electorate. This is just an off year election.

    1. The solution the firefighters should be advocating for is bus lanes. The same lanes that get transit through gridlock can also get emergency vehicles through when responding to an actual emergency. More GP lanes just means more cars and more gridlock.

      That and, of course, congestion pricing.

  9. Vancouver BC will likely be dealing with the possibility of a strike this week from both the bus driver union for Coast Mountain Bus Company (Which oversees Translink’s bus and seabus operations) and the Expo/Millennium Lines Skytrain union https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/british-columbia/article-skytrain-staff-vote-for-strike-action-adding-to-transit-chaos/
    Possibly 3 days of no service at all for buses (or very limited bus service for a few routes within the city limits from what Translink has said and limited skytrain service this week during the strike. I have friends of mine who live up there and they’re not pleased about the whole situation. In particular in trying to get to work and doing errands like going to the grocery store and such.
    Although Handydart (their paratransit service), Canada Line (Skytrain from Vancouver to YVR/Richmond), and West Coast Express (Commuter Rail) is unaffected since they’re operated by different providers.

      1. Yeah, and those numbers are weird. Just about every station is down, some by quite a bit. Westlake lost 500 riders, I. D. lost over 800. At the same time, a few stations are up by quite a bit. Stadium gained 700 riders. Tukwila and Angle Lake both gained 400, while SeaTac gained 500. Rainier Beach was the only other station that gained riders, but just barely, at 100 new riders. Hard to say what is happening, but here goes my theory:

        Rainier Beach gained as residential development in the area increased. I think it is only a matter of time before it passes Mount Baker, since Mount Baker is such a bad station.

        The other increases are due to people going to ball games, and maybe a few headed to the airport. It is possible that short term flyers and employees are driving to Angle Lake or Tukwila, and then parking there, rather than dealing with the airport itself. Transit ridership to the airport tends to be really, really early, so those park and riders manage to find a spot.

        I can easily see how kicking out the buses actually led to a loss in downtown ridership. I don’t think it is a big coincidence that the far ends of the tunnel saw a big loss. Prior to the change, folks would go down to the station, take the first vehicle, and then quickly get to the other end. Since Link didn’t get any more frequent, it makes more sense to just ride a bus on Third. Then you also have the big loss of East Side riders, which hurts the overall system. This idea that “riders are now taking a bus to the UW, and riding Link” is a myth. For the most part, they are working from home, or driving.

        Oh well. We knew that the “Seattle Squeeze” was going to hurt us. We knew that kicking out the buses early was a bad idea. But like a kidney stone, this will pass. Eventually things will get better.

      2. What does the 550 leaving the tunnel have to do with Link ridership? We’re talking ridership on Link, here, not the 550 bus.

      3. Thanks for the link to the most recent quarterly ridership report.

        I had posted previously on here after the Q2 report that it was going to take strong ridership numbers for Link for the remainder of the year to hit the agency’s annual targets. Apparently that didn’t happen in Q3 and as a result most likely Link will miss their targets on a number of benchmarks. As of the conclusion of Q3, total Link ridership is lagging the YTD budget by some 2.5 million boardings, though it was .4 million above 2018 YTD boardings. Subsequently, cost per boarding continues to be a concern as the agency missed its targets on this metric for both Q3 and YTD, despite the anticipation of cost per boarding being higher in the budget for 2019 to begin with. Obviously, the misses are interrelated.

        The declines in total ridership and average weekday boardings for ST Express service compared to 2018, as well as the missed targets, are equally concerning.

      4. I was wondering if removing buses from the tunnel was related but I couldn’t figure out how. RossB remembered it though: the 7/14/36 is now much more frequent than tunnel transit, and 3rd Avenue moves decently now that cars are banned all day. I take them myself, from Westlake to Intl Dist, or Westlake to 12th & Jackson. Previously I would have taken Link to Intl Dist and transferred, but that’s not a good idea when you might wait 10 minutes for Link.

        The 36 alone has gotten insanely frequent. 8 buses/hour at 7am, 2pm, 3pm; 6 at 10am; 10 at 6pm. The 7 used to be the most frequent route in Seattle, but now it has fallen back and the 36 has surpassed it. Why is this? Did some 7 riders switch to Link but 36 riders couldn’t?

      5. Most people in the office stopped taking Link after our employer implemented work from home strategy. Many employers are toying with remote work privileges. Eventually that will impact transit ridership.

  10. Sorry about the hasty world comparison. Should know that license-rigor for the world is different than for Sweden. Democratic Debate, total howl. Just to let Liz Warren relax a little, narrator of the book “Little Big Man” notes that among the Cheyenne and probably most world tribal societies, inclusion didn’t go by “bloodline” but by how well your captors thought you could fight.

    So the Senator needs to challenge her opponent to get himself adopted by any tribe with an opening for a brave whose tribal name would be “How Long ‘Til His Horse Collapses?” But while on the best of projects it’s a good idea to be ready to handle a major setback…doesn’t the law say something about the Legislature being able to override any initiative after two years?

    Mark Dublin

  11. Another corridor I’ve been pondering is 15th Ave NE. Routes 45, 71, 73, 77, 347, 348, and 373 serve various stretches of it. How can we get that down to one or two routes, with good Link access and less ziggy-zaggy timey-wastiness?

    1. I’ve always favored a U-District to Mountlake Terrace route, and Metro’s 2025 plan has a UW Station to 175th and Richmond Beach route. 15th Avenue has some geographical problems. It misses Greenlake, Northgate, and the Crest Cinema, and has no large commercial areas of its own, so people keep wanting it to turn west somewhere, and that competes with a straight north-south route. Ideally the longest street would be aligned with the neighborhood centers for two-way ridership to and from the centers, but it’s not, it only goes to the U-District. Metro’s suggestion may be the best compromise.

      1. For those that live near 15th, the time savings from a bus on 15th is more than just not having to walk is far. If the bus on 15th gets less ridership than the bus on Roosevelt, that means it will tend to stop less and, therefore, move faster. The two things together can make dealing with 30-minute headways worthwhile, at least for savvy riders with a flexible schedule.

        Of course, there is a fundamental limit as to how far this can go. Too many riders means the #73 loses its “hidden express” role, and no longer becomes worth the extra wait time over the more frequent #67. So, you reach some sort of equilibrium.

      2. For those that live near 15th, the time savings from a bus on 15th is more than just not having to walk is far. If the bus on 15th gets less ridership than the bus on Roosevelt, that means it will tend to stop less and, therefore, move faster.

        Wait, what? So you are saying that a bus that hardly ever picks up riders is a good thing? Oh, I get it — I’ve been there. I’ve gotten on buses that hardly ever stop, getting to my destination very quickly. But not for one minute have I thought that is was actually a bus that was worthwhile.

        The main reason the 73 is still alive is because it goes north of Northgate. That is it. Otherwise, people would walk a couple blocks, and catch the 67. Just look at the history of the route. With the last restructure, they tried to kill the 73, and put all the service into the 67. They planned on running it every 8 minutes. But folks objected — not because they hated walking those extra couple blocks — but because they didn’t want to make that transfer in the middle of nowhere (i. e. a car sewer) just to go the same direction. So they fought for the route, and won. Now it runs every half hour, and it pails in comparison to the 67. It performs poorly, since the only folks that ride it are those headed to Pinehurst, or those that can’t (or won’t) walk a couple blocks to catch the more frequent bus.

        To be fair, it makes some sense with the current system. The main way that someone gets downtown in the north-end is via the 41. In the middle of the day, it is either that, or Link. Both have the same frequency, which means that Northgate has a special pull. If you are close to it, you want to go there — or you go all the way to the UW. You also want some way to get people from the UW to Northgate. While it isn’t fast, it at least picks up all the folks by the apartments.

        All of that changes once Link gets to Northgate. Someone trying to get from Northgate to the UW takes Link. Someone trying to get downtown will do just as well with Roosevelt as with Northgate. That part is key. A 67 that avoids Northgate will get just as many riders headed to Link, if not more.

        Routes that loop around are a bad idea. Straighten out the 67, kill the (3)73, and you have a much better, much more efficient system.

      3. I didn’t mean to advocate for keeping so-called “hidden express routes. Obviously, from the perspective of maximizing ridership on the system as a whole, they’re bad. And, if you allow them to get out of control, you end up with a spaghetti of half-hourly routes everywhere because that’s all you can afford. At the same time, I have help but at least empathize with people who are being asked to sacrifice, in the form of longer daily commute times, for the sake of the greater good.

        In the case of the 73, though, I’m kind of ambivalent. If we do as you suggest – eliminate the 73 and keep the 67 going straight past Northgate, then we don’t have a bus connecting Maple Leaf to Northgate Transit Center anymore. If we add a bus down 5th, then the service hours scavenged from the 73 are simply paying for the bus down 5th, and the 67 doesn’t actually get any more frequent. Compared to the present, this feels like picking winners and losers, and it’s not clear such a move would be better for the system overall. Of course, the bus down 5th could be implemented by revising the 26, but then Licton Springs loses service.

        One thing that absolutely needs to be done, though, is building sidewalks on 103rd St. between 5th and Roosevelt so that people can safely walk to Link.

      4. If we do as you suggest – eliminate the 73 and keep the 67 going straight past Northgate, then we don’t have a bus connecting Maple Leaf to Northgate Transit Center anymore.

        So what? There are very few trips that will involve Northgate Transit Center (NTC) once Link gets to Northgate. That is because Link will also get to Roosevelt. You are talking about a handful of riders going from Maple Leaf to NTC once Link gets there. The 345/346 continues as the 347/348, so that simply changes the transfer point. You also have the 40 and 512, and that’s about it. Add all that up and you have maybe a dozen people. They can all transfer or walk a few blocks. Taking a bus from Maple Leaf to NTC will be a very rare trip in the future, regardless of what the 67 does.

        If we add a bus down 5th, then the service hours scavenged from the 73 are simply paying for the bus down 5th, and the 67 doesn’t actually get any more frequent.

        That is another alternative, if folks on Maple Leaf insist on their one seat ride to Northgate. The 67 is frequent enough. Sending it northward would likely be revenue neutral. Replacing the 73 with a bus down 5th (essentially the northern part of the 63) would have way more riders per mile. There are apartments on 5th and Weedin. Other than a single retirement home, there are nothing but low density, big lot houses on 15th between 65th and Northgate Way (the part losing service).

        Compared to the present, this feels like picking winners and losers, and it’s not clear such a move would be better for the system overall.

        It is better for the system overall if the buses run frequently. The 73 performs poorly. If it is kept with its current routing and service level, it will all but die in a few years, as folks in Pinehurst abandon it. They will slog their way to Northgate, then get on a train, even if they are just headed to Roosevelt or the U-District, simply because the alternative (waiting for a bus every half hour) is miserable.

        It is better for the system if buses go straight. You should never be able to get off a bus, walk a few blocks, then get right back on the bus, as you can with the 67. Nor should you have to transfer in the middle of nowhere just to keep going straight. That type of route is costly, especially when the northern part (the looping part) has more than enough buses.

        I’m not opposed to infrequent coverage buses. But coverage buses should be just that — designed to cover an area that would otherwise require a very long walk. In this case, the 73 is not a real coverage bus. It saves only a few minutes of walking. The only reason it exists is to make up for the fact that the 67 doesn’t keep going straight. It’s only real purpose is to connect Pinehurst to the UW — something the 67 could do far more cheaply (and frequently) by a simple modification.

        Sure, there are winners and losers — that is true with every restructure. But there are far more winners than losers. A handful of people in Maple Leaf have to transfer to get to NTC. Other people — people on 5th, for example — walk a couple blocks (or transfer). That is it for losers. In terms of winners you save plenty of service hours that can go into making other buses more frequent. The 73 — like the 67 — spends most of its time south of 65th. You give folks in Pinehurst a one seat ride to the UW. You extend the area of very frequent transit farther north, from here (https://goo.gl/maps/1BqEqHSks3ypFB1a6) to here (https://goo.gl/maps/xHoz1DXZ1eEG9EuBA). Not all of the buses on those streets go to the same place, but they all connect to Link.

    2. Another corridor I’ve been pondering is 15th Ave NE. Routes 45, 71, 73, 77, 347, 348, and 373 serve various stretches of it. How can we get that down to one or two routes, with good Link access and less ziggy-zaggy timey-wastiness?

      Simple. Keep the 347/348 as well as the 45. Keep them all at about the same frequency, going to the same places. Kill the 71, 73, and 373. Extend the 67 up to 145th instead. That right there covers most of the day and provides appropriate service levels. It is way more efficient, and has much better connections. Each bus connects to Link (either at Northgate or Roosevelt).

      At rush hour, it might make sense to run the 77, from 65th to 175th, via 15th. This is a very fast way to connect to Link. It takes the pressure off of the other buses, acting like an express overlay, while providing some service on the parts of 15th that can’t justify all day service (between Northgate Way and 65th). But if you simply want to run the other buses more often, that would probably work as well.

      What you don’t want to do is run the 73 every half hour, like it runs now. Nor do you want the 67 looping around. In software terms, they call that a “bad smell” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_smell). Both are bad designs, and should be avoided, unless there are special circumstances. I see nothing to warrant either route — they should be fixed.

      1. I disagree with getting rid of the 73. Reducing the headways, I can accept even if it is inconvenient for me. I talk to many people in that area and know that they depend on some sort of service on 15th between 65th and around 145th. If Lake City Way had better bus service south of 98th street, then people east of 15th could walk down the hill and those west of 15th coukd walk to the 67. But that is not the case. Also if you had the 347 or 348 turn left onto 15th instead of Roosevelt, that could work also. But getting rid of the 73 with no replacement in unacceptable to me.

      2. But getting rid of the 73 with no replacement in unacceptable to me.

        Was getting rid of the 63 acceptable? It is the same distance, and yet people on 5th — that greatly outnumber those on 15th — have no service in the middle of the day.

        If Lake City Way had better bus service south of 98th street, then people east of 15th could walk down the hill and those west of 15th could walk to the 67.

        It could be better — they could add stops to the 522 — but it isn’t that bad. The 372 runs way more often than the 73. The 522 is not that frequent but it still runs as often as the 73 (and a lot more often than the 373 at rush hour). It should have more stops, but since it is operated by ST, there is little Metro can do, other than add an all day 312 to complement it.

        Also if you had the 347 or 348 turn left onto 15th instead of Roosevelt, that could work also.

        Not sure if I follow you. You mean have the 347/348 continue on Northgate Way, then turn on 15th (by the Mosque) instead of turning on Pinehurst Way? That might make sense, if the 67 is extended. But we are only talking about a few blocks.

        It really isn’t that far from 15th to Roosevelt. For a stretch of time — when they were working on the bridge — the 73 went that way anyway. There was no appreciable loss of ridership (it probably went up). People are willing to walk a few blocks for frequent transit. Just ask the folks who live in Roosevelt north of Pinehurst Way. This is an area with far more apartments (https://goo.gl/maps/mm2MLE4RZPXt5tBj7) than the part of 15th that would lose service (from Northgate Way to 65th). But all those people have to walk a few blocks.

        It just doesn’t make sense to have an infrequent bus a couple blocks over from a frequent bus. Ridership suffers. Right now, the 73 performs poorly. It is in the bottom 25% of the routes (in ridership per service hour, as well as other metrics). In contrast, the 67 has about twice as many riders per hour. Even the 347/348 perform better (and they aren’t great, spending much of their time in low density areas north of the city).

        As I wrote above, I’m not against a coverage bus. But the bus isn’t about coverage. The bus survives with riders going from the U-District to Pinehurst. But it simply doesn’t have enough riders to justify good frequency. In an ideal world we would run it every 15 minutes, along with buses on 5th and Roosevelt (and Lake City Way). But we can’t afford all that. It is much better to just ask people to walk a few blocks, especially since those south of Northgate Way are doing that anyway.

        Put it this way: Imagine if they ran the 67 up to 145th, and kept the 73 with its current service level. You would get hardly anyone on the 73, because the bus goes by hardly anyone, and most of those people would walk the extra distance to catch the far more frequent bus. The only time the 73 would have a decent number of riders is at rush hour, which is really the only time the bus should run. If you can’t justify better than half hour service, you really should ask whether the bus should run at all. In some cases (say, Sunset Hill) I think it should (they have to walk a lot further to a bus. But in this case, the walk is so short that it makes more sense to straighten out the 67, and put those service hours into something far more cost effective.

  12. You can say what you want all day long. And apparently it looks like you have. But my friends still want a bus on 15th. But if a few blocks aren’t a big deal. That is cool too. Just like 15th nw to 14th nw. 1 block. Not a big deal.

  13. The exit number signs are up at Westlake Station and they are total whack.
    Here’s one. The exit numbers in the overhead sign look like train line numbers. I thought ST was just publishing a proposal for public input, but they’ve put them up already at Westlake.

    The good news is they make the station look like the NYC subway and we have five lines. The bad news is they cause confusion. At least put the word “Exit” over each number or over the group of numbers, or put a rectangle around the word “Exit” and the numbers so they look like a group.

    The wall signs in the picture are somewhat better (I didn’t notice if they were up yet), but they can still be interpreted as bus routes at that exit rather than exits in that direction.

    It’s worth going to Westlake Station and evaluating the signs.

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