Tolling in the new Highway 99 tunnel has finally started. Today is the first regular weekday commute to feel the impacts (as yesterday was Veterans Day).
WSDOT is encouraging tunnel users to avail themselves of the Good-to-Go Pass, by giving pass users a $2 discount. (If only someone could explain this principle to King County Metro and/or the County Council…)
Let’s talk about what you see happening today. Are there any impacts to your bus route?
One thing that will impact bus routes today will be the Sounders’ MLS Cup Victory Parade, which will take over 4th Ave from sometime before noon, when the parade is scheduled to start at Westlake Plaza, until 1:30 pm, when the parade terminates at the Seattle Center.
If you haven’t already signed up for travel alerts specific to your route, now is a good time to do so.
Katherine Khashimova Long recently published a fine piece of reporting ($) on how many “luxury” condos have unclear ownership, potentially mere financial assets that are left “empty as the city grows less affordable for its middle- and lower-class residents.”
That may very well be the outcome thanks to our many arbitrary restrictions on building enough housing supply to meet demand. But in a more-forward thinking policy environment, the desire of the world’s super-wealthy to park their cash in Seattle would be a huge opportunity.
Yesterday Dan laid out the impacts of I-976 on Sound Transit. Now let’s talk about Metro and Seattle. Unlike with ST, the situation is both simpler and more dire. KC Exec Constantine has already pledged a lawsuit, and Mayor Durkan is expected to follow today on behalf of the city.
Metro calculates it will lose over $100M in state funds over the next five years. These are primarily capital grants from the state’s mobility fund that go to projects like RapidRide and other speed and reliability improvements, as well as funds to support Access vans.
Last night’s returns indicate I-976 is likely to pass. The next step is likely a court challenge, or several. What if the initiative is sustained? Let’s look ahead at the implications for Sound Transit.
If Sound Transit is forced to stop collecting the MVET, that reduces 2021-2041 revenues by $6.9 billion, or 12.3% of what was previously estimated. (Sound Transit mostly relies on sales taxes with a smaller contribution from property tax).
The impact of losing the MVET revenues is multiplied because it is front-loaded. The MVET is 18% of tax revenues through 2028, and just under 10% thereafter. That’s because the 0.3% Sound Move MVET must end in 2028 as a result of a previous Eyman initiative. When that happens, the 0.8% ST3 MVET would have moved to the lower 2005 car valuation schedule reducing those revenues about 30%.
One can get election results at virtually any local outlet, but since you rightly eschew all news sources besides Seattle Transit Blog, here’s the stuff you won’t get anywhere else. Candidates we endorsed in bold.
I-976: Yes (55%) leads No (45%) statewide.
King County District 2: Zahilay leads Gossett 62-37
King County District 4: Kohl-Welles beats Doerr 73-26.
King County District 6: Balducci over Hirt 77-23.
King County District 8: McDermott over Neher 82-17.
Last we heard, just a few weeks ago, Sound Transit’s draft service plan was to discontinue ST 541 (Overlake – University District), along with ST 540 (Kirkland – University District). This week, the Rider Experience Committee is set to reconsider that plan. Up to ten one-way trips will remain on ST 541. That’s significantly less than the 20 round trips currently provided, but it indicates some rethinking of service changes on SR 520 in response to rider feedback.
The staff memo points to recent growth in ridership on ST routes over SR 520, including 541 and 542. There’s also a nod to rider input during public involvement about capacity concerns on the remaining 542 trips. Average weekday ridership on ST 541 this Spring was 873.
There now commences a period of monitoring ridership shifts on all of these services. The ten remaining trips on ST 541 will be evaluated prior to each service change. Route 544 operate for at least 24 months so that the market can develop and the full ridership potential can be evaluated. After two years, it too may be adjusted based on performance.
Tomorrow is election day. If you haven’t mailed your ballot (making use of the free return postage) or a ballot drop box, do so right now. The deadline to drop ballots at the drop boxes is 8 pm Tuesday. Mailed ballots must be post-marked Tuesday. If you don’t mail it tonight, get thee to a ballot drop box.
Accessible voting centers (which are open to all voters) will be open until 6 pm tonight and 8 pm Tuesday. Check the hours at each site. Seattle’s accessible voting center has moved to the Chinook Building at 401 5th Ave, room 124, between Terrace St and Jefferson St. It will open at 8:30 am today and tomorrow. If you aren’t already registered to vote, you can register in person at any of these voting centers, and then proceed to cast your ballot.
UPDATE: 11/2/19: Sound Transit’s final (not draft) Service Implementation Plan recommends “temporarily” keeping up to 10 one-way trips of the 541. The analysis still stands.
Because it replaces the Overlake-UW 541, the proposed Sound Transit Route 544 at first glance seem designed for Redmond/Overlake users, albeit one that serves them awkwardly. But I think a better way to conceive of it is as a bus for Eastsiders in general, and Kirkland-Seattle commuters in particular.
When we first wrote about the 544 last month, a few readers gave it a huh? reaction. Commenter asdf2:
In the afternoon commute, I’m guess you’d start on the 544 from SLU. But, even then, getting off at Yarrow Point and transferring to a 542/545 will likely be faster than sitting through the South Kirkland P&R detour.