Frank and I will tape the next podcast this evening. Leave your questions for us in the comments. The usual question guidelines apply.

43 Replies to “Podcast Mailbag coming”

  1. Something I realized the other day is that with the upcoming bus changes to Kirkland, there is going to be no service right next to Lake Washington High School. Currently, the district policy for how students get to LWHS is public transit. Do you know what the plan for these students is going to be come March when the changes go into effect?

    1. I don’t know LK WA district policy but Bellevue School Dist. pays Metro to run special routes for HS transportation. The push to move HS start times later in the morning creates a problem for districts own transportation dept to run yellow buses.

      LW Tech will also lose it’s bus service from Kirkland. I think there’s going to be one bus going from Kenmore to Microsoft that goes by the college which is pretty useless. Trying to make transfers would add hours to someones commute by bus.

    2. In the case of the high school, most of the students are all arriving at the same time and departing at the same. That’s a need that can be met by school buses running one round trip per day; a bus that runs all day long is unnecessary.

      It’s also not like the school is inaccessible with regular Metro routes, either (besides the 238). It’s about a quarter mile south of the 248 (soon to be 250) and a quarter mile north of the 245. Even from the 255, you can reach the school with about a mile walk, using the 80th St. ped bridge over 405 – I live near the closest #255 stop, and do this walk occasionally for exercise. These are high school students we’re talking, not 90-year-olds in nursing homes. They can do the walk.

      1. My attitude toward “they can just hoof it” changed when I had to use crutches after an accident. And no, they don’t all arrive and leave at the same time. In the morning there’s zero period which is often when activities like choir and band occur. In the afternoon there are sports, tutoring and other activities. Plus a lot of students take advantage of Running Start and need to get to LWIT or UW Bothell. For the majority they can run create morning/evening runs that cover the district. But it’s doubtful the school district can cover it with yellow buses. That said, they could contract with Metro the way Bellevue does. But even that’s difficult since the later HS start times now coincide with Metro’s own peak demand. I’d also note that the newly minted 250 is a step backward for almost everyone.

    3. Here’s a good analysis:

      Basically, if students can be served within typical level of service by public transit, then great, but if the public transit agency has to have dedicated or incremental runs to service peak student volume, then it’s better to have that funded (if not provided) by the school district. Not that different than what is needed to deploy service to, say, serve a shift change at a large factory.

      For community colleges, there is generally all day demand b/c students start and end classes at different times, plus extracurriculars, so public transit works well. For traditional suburban high schools, it doesn’t work, particularly in the morning, given the shape & timing of demand.

      1. Interesting read but it overstates the problem regarding transit agencies having to pay a driver to run a single route. They can work routes before or after the school run. The challenge is the school start times coincide with the transit agencies own peak demand. The idea of having routes close but not go directly in front of the school is good for dispersing load and it also avoids what is typically gridlock (Think 140th in by Sammamish HS).

        One solution for Lake Washington would be to run a circulator that picked up students from say Houghton P&R and maybe the Safeway on NE 85th.

      2. Transit agencies aren’t allowed to operate dedicated school routes. There was a court case won by private school bus companies that ruled this unfair competition. If the route happens to go past the school they can throw extra buses on this route, but no routes specific to serving the school.

      3. @Glenn in Portland
        I think you’re referring to the so-called “tripper” rule and the FTA policy framework that was built subsequent to the passage of the 1974 National Mass Transportation Assistance Act. The FTA codified the regulations a couple of years later (49 CFR 605). The regulations establish the prohibitions you’ve asserted above but there are some exceptions.

        The court case you may be thinking of was the Rochester-Genesee RTA case (2007? not sure atm). As a result of that case, the FTA put out a final policy statement in 2008 reiterating its position in regard to the tripper rule despite the court’s opinion in said case.

        In regard to route alterations by a public transit agency to attempt to provide schools with bus service, the FTA’s 2008 policy statement addressed that as well. To be in compliance with the tripper rule, only de minimis route alterations from established routes in the immediate vicinity of schools to stops located at or in close proximity to said schools are allowed.

      4. >Transit agencies aren’t allowed to operate dedicated school routes.

        Doesn’t Metro run a bunch of 900-series routes specifically for Lakeside School?

      5. Metro operates a bunch of routes for Bellevue School District (has for years). The 889 for example goes to Sammamish HS and the International School. I’ve always wondered if the general public is allowed to board. As far as I know students aren’t required to pay a fare when riding.

  2. This may have been covered on the blog before, but I would love to hear it discussed on the podcast.

    Now that the powers-to-be have formally renounced the “Red Line” name for the existing Light Rail (and by extension the Orange Line in Tacoma) what are your bets on the next naming system? Is there any chance that the original color lines could be revived?

  3. Would the strong showing of ‘No on I-976’ in King county make it more likely that we will see a county-wide TBD measure in 2020 (assuming I-976 gets struck down by courts)

    1. Careful with that. King County approved ST1/2/3 but rejected the last two Metro supplementals. Some people want an alternative to freeway driving and see Link as it and are willing to pay for it, but aren’t willing to pay for more local bus service which they see as not helping them or anyone they know.

    2. The entire county is too big. You could maybe get away with combining Seattle with a few handpicked neighbors, such as Bellevue, Redmond, or Shoreline. Even then, it might be risky. The safest bet is for Seattle to go it alone and make sure that it gets the service it needs.

  4. Any idea what’s going on with the Washington State Rail Plan? WSDOT’s page (still) says that the draft was supposed to be out for stakeholder comment in early 2019 but I haven’t been able to find out anything whether that happened or if it’s moving at all right now.

  5. Transportation is about more than moving people around – it helps great communities and bring people together. Are you worried about Dammeier’s push for “forget Link, just give me bus lanes on I5” will exacerbate the economic and social divide between Pierce and King?

  6. Alaska Airlines is arguing with the port about expansion plans, and Alaska is pushing for a plan that includes a 2nd Airport Link station. Would you be excited about a 2nd station that fixes some of the issues with the current station, or are 2 station excessive?

    1. Omg, will we also have two Stadium stations, two Northgate stations, etc? Or only two airport stations because the Port is politically powerful? This sounds like making Portland’s mistake, with stations two blocks apart because every institution must have its own station. The Port can get on with a moving sidewalk between the station and the terminal.

    2. I think the 2nd terminal would need to be at the extreme NE corner for that to make any sense. The current station is too far away from the terminal, but adding a 2nd will just slow down the line for everyone else. Not a big issue now, but it would be when you connect all the way to Tacoma.

      The people mover plans for Seatac seems sufficient. The airport just has a bad layout. There is not much you can do to improve it.

    3. The station is supposed to serve both the airport and the SeaTac community. The city wanted to build a dense city center there but the owner of the hotel property on the east side refused to. So since SeaTac is not getting housing or a civic center there, maybe it should give up on a station at 99 and let it be relocated closer to the terminals? Not.

  7. Since Amazon and the Chamber of Commerce lost big in the recent Seattle City Council elections, is it time for the Council to go big on raising revenue (head tax for transit, etc) since 1) while I-976 is likely to be struck down in the lower court, it will take awhile before it is finally struck down, and 2) Big Tech and the Chamber might actually hire competent professionals next election, so it’s either now or never)

  8. If i976 is upheld, when do you think the first major state level corrective action (initiative or legislature) might be and what might it look like?

    1. The initiative may not be modified legislatively for two years after its effective date. What the legislature can — and should — do is remove the “cap” from municipal and county sales tax add-ons.

      I know, “sales tax is regressive”, but that appears to be the one form of taxation that is acceptable, because people think that “Oh, I can just not buy stuff and not pay it.” Since food and services are exempt, that’s not a ridiculous idea.

  9. This one’s for Frank:
    With the move to downtown your fellow employees have managed to drop the drive alone rate by a significant and impressive amount. Has there been a lot of moaning around the office about changing commutes, and as a transit aficionado have you been helpful around the office or biting your tongue?

  10. If you had it to do over again, would you still do STB with WordPress or would you use something else?

  11. Should Seattle create neighborhood parking districts that blanket the entire city and charge an extra $30 to $60 per vehicle for an annual permit — to replace the transit funding if I-976 isn’t tossed out?

    1. Do you mean on top of the current RPZ permit fees? And how exactly would this work? Only in the non-metered but timed parking zones or just everywhere (meaning that the city would either need to create a whole bunch of new RPZ’s or create a different system from the one that exists today)? Your suggestion may have merit but it raises a bunch of questions for me.

      1. Yes. On top of small area RPZ fees. It would be a second citywide RPZ. Add a letter to the existing stickers or create a new (second) one.

        The regulation can be honed in a variety of ways:

        – any sticker required for overnight parking regardless of RPZ

        – any sticker required over two hours anywhere

        – “surplus” stickers sold to vehicles registered outside of the city (or those who work inside the city)

        – each sticker can be linked to the parking apps and maybe accounts for automatic meter payments

        I’m not a legal authority on RPZ authorization, but I can see how the RPZ rules could be used. It might even be a way to recover those that hide-and-ride inside the city but don’t actually live inside the city.

  12. There’s been an increase in false assertions in the comments, that ST and Metro will have to cut service in half due to I-976, that the 512 should be hourly to match ridership, that most buses are too empty to be justified, and that the E has 23-minute frequency midday. How should we understand this phenomenon? Is it just isolated individuals? Are there rumors going around about this? Is there an anti-transit blog generating these assertions? Is it part of a disinformation campaign like the Russians have been stirring up at the federal level?

    In reality the MVET loss to ST and Metro is only around 10-15%, enough to detract from our goals but not enough to bring us back to 2014 or 1990s levels. Very-empty buses were eliminated in the 2014 cuts and are still gone; the only ones now are a very few routes like the 71 (tail only), 74, and 78, which don’t add up to many service hours. The 512 is standing-room only midday and 3/4 full evenings. Reducing it to hourly would leave a lot of people behind. The E’s midday frequency is 10 minutes. If it every reaches 23 minutes it’s because of temporary construction on 99 and in the Denny Triangle.

    1. The impact of the cuts will be deeper in Seattle than the rest of King County because it’ll zero out (I think) the STBD, which pays for a lot of in-city service.

      It probably won’t be as dire as the doomsayers predict, but it’ll still be pretty dire. A lot of routes only have all-day 10 minute service because of STBD funding, so I’d expect those (such as the 65/67) to be cut back to 15-minutes at best.

    2. Right, some 10-minute periods will revert to 15 minutes, and 15- or 20-minute periods to 30 minutes. We may return to 30-minute evenings on the 5, 10, 40, and 41, 30-minute Saturdays on the 11, 30-minute evenings/Sundays on the 8, and 15-minute daytime on the 65/67 and 45.

    3. Also related – even if a judge issues a stay, does service still have to be cut, even though the taxes are still being collected, just in case the final ruling goes against the city, and they have to issue refunds?

      1. You’re getting a little ahead of things. There has been no court order to issue a stay against. Perhaps you meant an injunction instead and I wouldn’t be so sure that that’s going to be issued either. The AG’s opposition to the plaintiffs’ PI motion filed the other day is pretty solid for one thing. Also, I don’t believe an injunction was ever issued in the Amalgamated case (I-695) back in 2000. Meanwhile, the DOL is indicating that they are ready to go with the Dec effective date.

      2. True – we don’t know yet how the judge is going to rule. But, it’s still worth thinking about.

        “Also, I don’t believe an injunction was ever issued in the Amalgamated case (I-695) back in 2000”

        At the time, they didn’t have the court precedent of I-695 being ruled unconstitutional to justify it. This time, they do.

      3. @asdf2 Your reply indicates to me that you misunderstood my initial retort. There is no court order yet to issue a stay against. You are apparently confusing a stay with an injunction.

        “At the time, they didn’t have the court precedent of I-695 being ruled unconstitutional to justify it. This time, they do”

        First off, that’s not the standard for review for granting the injunctive relief. Secondly, there was plenty of existing legal precedent (for determining whether a plaintiff’s request for a preliminary injunction is warranted) PRIOR to the Amalgamated case anyway, both in Washington State courts and elsewhere.

        Again, I would strongly encourage reading the recent AG’s filing in response to plaintiff’s motion.

  13. With ST’s preference for project cuts having Link being cut last, behind all non-Link projects, does this mean that Stride BRT service is likely to be delayed or canceled if I-976 does apply to Sound Transit?

  14. I’ve noticed a bunch of new light rail vehicles when taking the bus through SODO. I remember reading that the new trains would start replacing old trains as their software is updated for East Link Compatibility. Have there been any updates on the new train rollout?

  15. Is it highly likely, in your opinion, that I-976 will be tossed out? Are legislators less likely, in your opinion, to decide it was the “will of the people” and implement it anyway like with I-695?

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