Fairhaven Station (SounderBruce/wikimedia)

This is an open thread.

91 Replies to “News roundup: a bad year”

  1. I take it as a good sign that the Supreme Court wouldn’t lift the injunction on I-976, that it is likely that the challenge will prevail.

    1. Maybe, but we don’t know. One thing I can say – the WA Supreme Court judges are elected, so perhaps it might be time for STB to start making endorsements in judge elections, similarly to what it does in mayor and city council races. It would be nice when the next election rolls around if we can clearly see which judges voted to uphold the initiative and which judges voted to overturn it.

      1. I’d rather judges that decide things based on the law than on the way they feel about an issue. Don’t you? I think you might have mixed up the role of judges and legislators.

        I’d rather a judge that upholds 976 but bases that decision on what’s in the state constitution, than one who strikes it down but doesn’t have a constitutional basis for doing so.

      2. Unfortunately, conservatives have zero such qualms about appointing ideologues to the courts. If “we” don’t get our people into the courts, then the Eymans and O’bans and Fortunatos of the world will.

        Demanding that liberals and progressives play by the rules while the right-wing cheats at every opportunity is a great way to continue getting wrecked at every turn. Rules are for suckers, the continued failure of the Democratic Party at every level of government is proof of that.

  2. Not the most exciting change, but the light rail now announces “exit to my left” instead of “doors to my left.” It seems to make more sense, people with limited English skills are more likely to know what an exit is than a door.

    1. I have no idea where “Door” and “Exit” rank on english learners vocabulary lists. But it is something that could be known.

      I’d still call the phrasing sub-optimal for that though. I think absolute minimum words is important for making them understandable to people with marginal language skills.

      “Exit Left”
      “Doors Left”

      “To My” is just more word sounds to interpret.

      1. The previous wording was appropriate for Seattle, in that it was so passive. The doors are to your left. You don’t have to use them. You can stay on the train all day for all I care. But just so you know, they are on the left.

        Anyway, the new wording is better, although it probably doesn’t make much difference. Both words are relatively easy to understand, but I think “exit” is a bit better.

      2. Now if they would just get rid of the scrolling signs, or at least abbreviate them, and use an arrow to indicate which doors to use.

        “<– Capitol Hill"
        "Next: Westlake"

      3. Both words are relatively easy to understand, but I think “exit” is a bit better.

        Emergency signage in buildings always says EXIT; never seen one say DOOR. It’s not a big thing but nice to know someone at ST is paying attention to the small details.

    2. The “exit to my left” may be in preparation for Connect 2020. As trains enter Pioneer Square Station, expect a message along the lines of “Transfer to a continuing train to my left. Exit the station to my right.”

      That’s coming next month, so prepare for a tighter squeeze during peak hours, and stretch limo-ness at other times except before and after big events (Seahawks games).

      1. And 12-minute headways. But we’ll get 4-car trains. That will be nice to see a large train fill the platform.

  3. Why is Metro considering water taxi service from Ballard to downtown, and Kenmore to Seattle? These routes seem to make no sense at all.

    Ballard to downtown is already a pretty straight shot on the road and is probably always going to be faster than a water taxi since it has to go all the way around Magnolia. Not to mention getting to the dock, which would probably be at Seaview, west of the end of the 44. Money would be better spend on adding buses to the D and 15X.

    Why Kenmore and not Kirkland? With Kirkland, you get a significant geographical advantage. But from Kenmore, you can already drive or take a bus directly west.

    1. They’re all terrible, though you’re right Kenmore is worse than Kirkland. The difference is Kenmore has a County Council representative who believes in this stuff despite the ample evidence of every other study.

      I don’t know how the Shilshole Marina to Seattle idea got revived. But I notice Dow has been hyping it on social media, and an Expedia stop seems to be in the mix now (a little corporate welfare never hurts).

      1. Seattle ferry docks to Shilshole Marina provides a direct transit option to get to Golden Gardens park without adding on a steep hill hike. It’s the one advantage I can think of, albeit a pretty small one.

    2. Indeed.

      The route that seems, to me, to stare us in the face is:


      The, generally, E-W transit route we won’t build for decades along which we happen to have built a freshwater canal a century ago and which bypasses numerous epic traffic snarls and land route choke points and which ties into other transit modes at almost every stop.

      The other is the already existing Alki downtown, maybe put another stop at the West end of the beach.

      Possibly there is a route up the duwamish and to downtown that could make sense? I don’t have a sense of whether there are any people to pick up down there.

      1. There is no possible way a ferry could reliably pass through the locks and keep a schedule. Have you gone through those locks on a boat? It takes forever.

      2. Yes an E/W canal route possibly makes sense. Use a boat that has a low enough height so bridges don’t have to be raised for it. Though the speed limit to reduce boat wake might make it to slow to be worth it. I think its 7 knots (8 mph)

      3. The parts of Ballard that have stuff and people in them are on the east side of the locks, and the route goes east from there – no need to go through.

        There are some neat tricks for boats with very low wake these days, particularly (I think) in smooth water (the entire canal and lake union are very smooth, lake Washington is still usually pretty smooth), submerged pontoons, etc.

        Anyhow I think that kind of route is worth studying. Far more worth studying than Shilshole.

      4. Ballard-Fremont-SLU-UW-Madison-Bellevue

        OK, let me take a stab at what the schedule would look like:

        Shilshole — 8:00 AM
        Fremont — 8:40 AM (takes a while to get through the docks)
        SLU — 9:00 AM
        UW — 9:30 AM
        Madison — 9:50 AM
        Bellevue — 10:20 AM

        That is probably being optimistic. The only trip that is competitive with a bus is Madison to Bellevue — a trip taken by maybe a dozen people, if that. Some of the trips look good on paper, but leave the passenger well away from any reasonable destination. For example, the “UW” stop is about a six minute walk to the Link station, which means you might as well consider it six minutes slower (since there is practically nothing along the way). The same is true for a Bellevue ferry dock (wherever that would be). In some cases (Madison) you could connect the ferry with buses, but by the time you do that, the time savings have disappeared. For example, from 23rd and Madison it takes about forty minutes to get to downtown Bellevue during rush hour. The ferry would be significantly slower, end to end.

        It just won’t work. All the particulars (density around the dock, alternatives, etc.) just aren’t good. The only trip that comes even close is maybe a trip from Eastlake to Westlake. But there just aren’t enough people on each end to make it worth it. Neither extends far from the water, because of the physical limitations. So even if you found the ideal set of docks — maximizing the time savings — you simply wouldn’t have enough riders to justify the cost.

      5. The parts of Ballard that have stuff and people in them are on the east side of the locks, and the route goes east from there – no need to go through.

        OK, but where is the dock? For that matter, I’m not sure where the Fremont dock is either. I’m sorry, but there is no way that a boat would be faster than a bus between Ballard and Fremont. Run an express from dock to dock and the bus is faster. According to Google, it takes at worst 10 minutes to get from waterfront to waterfront (https://goo.gl/maps/xX3RJ7EbWNb2ZUA18). There is no way a ferry could do that trip in ten minutes, let alone five. It just takes to long for a ferry to dock and undock, and this route is right by a major arterial. Of course it is faster to stay on the main street, and most of the trips would involve less walking.

        Keep in mind, there is no express from Fremont to Ballard. Why would be add a ferry before we add an express, given than an express would be much faster and cheaper to operate?

        By the way, even with all of the stops between there, the 40 would still beat the ferry. That is true for every significant pair of trips you can imagine (Fremont to SLU, SLU to UW, Fremont to UW, etc.).

      6. Also good luck getting any of the Ballard waterfront industrial interests to agree on a ferry dock. They are still hemming and hawing over a bike line that dares pass in front of their driveway.

    3. The mayor of Kenmore loves the idea of a water taxi to the university. I’m not sure what the attraction is. Wouldn’t we get better bang for our buck by improving bus service? Aren’t we slated to study RapidRide to the university anyway?

      Unclear how much community support there is for a water taxi.

      1. “The mayor of Kenmore loves the idea of a water taxi to the university. I’m not sure what the attraction is.”

        The view. No traffic. No stoplights. There was a documentary on the San Francisco ferries years ago, and one passenger said something like, “It’s slow, but the experience is wonderful.”

    4. Because Metro keeps trying to find new and unusual ways to spend money on transit (e. g. the various microtransit projects), instead of focusing on what works (a better, more frequent network). The Urbanist has a nice rundown on it, saying a lot of what you just wrote (https://www.theurbanist.org/2019/12/12/king-county-metro-ponders-new-ferry-routes/). Basically it would have trouble competing with buses, would be expensive, and would not carry that many riders.

      1. How are we going to afford ferries when we don’t even know if we can keep our current bus service?

      2. I don’t think the creation of any new ferry routes is justified. But, the water taxi route, as it exists, does have merit, simply because it’s the only way to avoid the traffic downtown.

        Once West Seattle Link opens, I can see a good mobility case for replacing the water taxi with frequent shuttles down Alki Ave. to Delridge Station, as the same cost would result in vastly improved frequency. But, with inertia, I think such a change would be very difficult to pull off – people don’t want to lose their views.

      3. The problem with efficiency is that next years budget gets cut. So there’s an incentive to spend all the money from a good economy that you can. Trail Head service comes to mind. Let’s wait and see how the private venture passenger ferry from Renton to SLU works before throwing any more money into a hole in the water. That said, of the routes mentioned the only one that seems to make sense would be Kirkland-UW-SLU. And for that to work the UW stop would probably have to be on the canal near Boat St since the time to detour in and out of Union Bay given the channel restrictions wouldn’t be worth it. Kirkland TC is a relatively easy walk to the waterfront; Bellevue, not at all a walkable distance. And you’d have to add a dock to the new park which was a big fight just to get rebuilt in the first place (the did buy some land and enlarge it).

    5. I just don’t think this will work in Seattle. For a ferry trip to be successful it has to save the riders a lot of time, all day long, by enabling a much shorter trip. You also need lots of riders. The WSDOT ferries do this. Every trip is faster than driving, so you find people funneling into the ferry dock. You have plenty of trips, especially the ferries that serve downtown.

      SeaBus goes from North Vancouver to downtown Vancouver. This isn’t a huge time savings over driving, although it is still faster than taking a bus all the way around. But the key to its success is that is essentially downtown to downtown. North Vancouver — within walking distance to the ferry dock — has a huge amount of density. So while some riders may be taking shuttle buses on either end, there are a lot of riders walking from either end. The combination of riders enables 15 minute frequency on the boat.

      I just don’t see anything that would work here. The places within the city where the geography is favorable are low density, low destination places. Making matters worse, even when the neighborhood is OK as far as density, the dock itself is usually well away from the heart of it, as well as connecting buses.

      All of the proposals are a waste of time and money. They are championed because they sound cool. Of course they do. The idea of taking a ferry instead of a crowded bus sounds great. But just compare the two. Let’s take what is probably the best ferry proposed — Kirkland to UW. Now imagine a special express bus between those two places, making only one stop at each end (like a ferry). The bus would be faster. It would be closer to the likely destination (on both ends). Neither would fill up, which means that a bus would be much cheaper to operate per passenger. So why don’t we just run an express bus between those two places? The obvious answer is that it would be a terrible value, favoring a handful of riders over the rest of us. That is precisely what this proposal is.

      1. I see this as an attempt to placate romanticists that like ferries. In reality, the vehicles are a headache to maintain, move slowly, consume way more energy per passenger mile (wheels beat hulls any day), disturb some sensitive environments and take travel time and new facilities to start and stop. Unless there is a trip that takes way too long because of congestion and/or circuity on land, non-amenity ferries are not great transit solutions.

        Ferries have some great niche potential. That includes offering cafes on board and serving special events like football games and bypassing recurring congestion of at least 20-30 minutes.

        I don’t see these as being powerful new routes for ferries. New routes that I see that could be viable is UW to Kirkland (walkable day-long destinations on both ends and an indirect and congested road path) or Bellevue to North Renton (because 405S is so congested) — and those didn’t make the list.

        The public would probably benefit more from enhancing existing ferry routes where they are viable.

      2. UW to Kirkland is not viable. An express bus — even in the worst traffic — would be faster. Even the regular 540 — making all the stops the ferry wouldn’t make — is faster during rush hour. Google puts the time at 33 minutes. This is for a bus that peaks out at around 30 passengers per trip. Don’t forget to add in the time it takes to get from the UW ferry terminal to the nearest destination (about six minutes).

        Bellevue to North Renton is probably worse. As you go farther north on Renton, you have fewer and fewer people. You are always close to the freeway, and a long way away from Bellevue. The bus would be faster than the boat, and even if it wasn’t, very few riders would use it.

        That’s the thing about passenger ferries. You need lots of riders, which means you need at least one very strong anchor (e. g. downtown Seattle). You also need a geographic advantage. A ferry is relatively slow, which means that it has to be a significantly shorter distance. A ferry also has a longer dwell time, which means that even if is shorter than driving, the distance has to be significant. Then you have to have ferry docks. Just looking at the geography, there are lots of potential trips, but they fail one test or another. Kirkland to Sand Point is fairly short, except Kirkland is a minor destination, and Sand Point is minuscule. Ballard (east of the locks) to South Lake Union sounds OK, except that we don’t have a dock in Ballard. Even then, the dwell time would probably make an express bus competitive. You can pretty much go through all the various options, and see that it just doesn’t quite work. You aren’t going to get the kind of ridership that would justify that kind of expenditure.

        To be clear, I’m not against tourist ferries. Vancouver has a private run ferry that loops around False Creek. Squint and this looks like a ferry around greater Lake Union. But I wouldn’t spend a dime of public money on that, or any of these routes. Even the West Seattle ferry is not a good value. Yes, it has pretty good farebox recovery (45%) but that is after charging about twice the fare of a bus. So you are subsidizing people who can afford a fancy ride. It seems like it would be a better value to just run buses to Alki more often, and then let the tourist ferry market take care of itself. If some private operator wants to run a ferry from Alki to downtown to Shilshole, have at it. The city (or state) that owns the property, could allow them to use the ferry dock for free, since that is what is happening now (and my guess is the upkeep of the dock isn’t included in the subsidy calculations). But we just don’t have the geography to warrant a public investment like the Staten Island Ferry or SeaBus.

      3. The other thing about SeaBus to North Vancouver is that there is a huge transit terminal on the north end, which heads in every direction for both North and West Vancouver. It’s actually a lot more convenient than either bus or SkyTrain connections at the Vancouver end (because of the peculiar layout of the station, it’s a long way to both SkyTrain and many of the buses).

      4. SeaBus runs every fifteen minutes and has rows of seats like a movie theater. it’s a central shuttle line, not like our ferries, but more like if there were a waterway between downtown and SLU. It’s a quasi extension of the Skytrain line, that for whatever reason didn’t want to cross the water. On the north end is a transit center for buses continuing further.

      5. SeaBus runs every fifteen minutes and has rows of seats like a movie theater. it’s a central shuttle line … a quasi extension of the Skytrain line, that for whatever reason didn’t want to cross the water.

        It runs every fifteen minutes because there are huge numbers of people on both ends — it connects a major residential area with downtown. The geography is just about perfect. It is about 2 miles across — short enough that the speed of the ferry doesn’t matter. Going around is about six miles — long enough that the dwell time of the ferry isn’t that big of a deal. The particulars that Breadbaker mentioned also are a big part of its success. Using it often leads to less walking than taking a bus, which is the opposite of all of these proposals.

        That is my point. We have nothing like that. We have nothing like Staten Island either (which has its own set of particular advantages).

        SkyTrain didn’t get extended to the other side because it would be extremely expensive and not offer a huge advantage over the ferry. Generally speaking, Vancouver is focused on building major projects that are good values (unlike our region).

      6. “It runs every fifteen minutes because there are huge numbers of people on both ends”

        That’s what I said, or at least what I meant when I said it’s a central shuttle and is full of seats like a movie theater. It also uses the Spanish Solution for loading: exit on one side, enter on the other.

        “SkyTrain didn’t get extended to the other side because it would be extremely expensive and not offer a huge advantage over the ferry.”

        The same line has a bridge over the Fraser River. Advantages are relative. Transferring from Skytrain to the ferry is a long walk and 10-minute wait. That slows people down. Somebody decided crossing the water wasn’t worth it, but that’s a judgment call, not an absolute. The conditions of that waterway or the view may have been part of it.

    6. Imagine the opportunities if we allow eating on the ferries, and replace the food-oriented development with condos.

      But, in the interest of offsetting the enormous emissions from these ferries (which I presume will not be powered by giant lithium batteries, recharged by giant plugs at the docks), every other ferry could ban non-vegan dining. We could surprise riders, like how transit agencies tried bike racks on random buses, or just put it in the schedule: “This run is Very-Berry Ferry Rapid Transit — meaning riders will only be allowed to eat or drink plant-based foods while on the ferry.”

      Of course, that doesn’t offset the carbon footprint. That only reduces it. Some clever opponent will demand that the sapplings used to legally (but not really) offset the emissions must be planted on-site (as in, at the docks, with long plazas between the bus bays and the ramp).

      The ferries themselves must go through design review, and be covered with at least three different (but ugly) colors of panels, and not cast shade on anything.

  4. Its so exciting to see Roosevelt station almost finished, will we get a tour of the U Dist station soon? What are the chances of this extension opening early and how early can they get it?

      1. I don’t think it could possibly open in September 2020 because if I recall correctly, trains need to be tested on the route for a full year before opening. So testing would have had to begin in September of this year.

    1. If I understand Sound Transit’s Link Progress Report correctly, Northgate Link is scheduled to open on September 26, 2021, but if the rest of construction and testing goes off without a hitch, it could open as soon as April 26, 2021.

      1. Thanks for the link on Link!

        It may deserve a separate post because there are many discussion items here:

        – What about the infill stations?
        – What about using end-of-project contingencies for elevators and escalators?
        – Can the new new cars enable all three-car trains before Northgate?

        I’m sure others would have more. These lengthy reports can reveal many things by what they do and don’t say.

      2. @Al S

        The 3 infill Link stations (Boeing Access Road, Graham St, and 130th) are all a part of ST3, and the original plan was for them to open in 2031. There’s been a push for 130th to early open in 2024 with Lynnwood Link, but the ST board hasn’t voted on this yet.

      3. The Light Rail Vehicle Fleet Expansion section of the report does have some negative news. If I understand correctly, Siemens has gotten behind in delivering vehicles (though apparently they’re on a path to catching up) and some of the new vehicles have had problems (which look like they’ve been partially solved since the last report).

        The other issue that could come up in 2020 is that the existing (Central) Operations and Maintenance Facility could reach capacity this summer before the East OMF opens in December 2020. There is enough space at the Central OMF for Northgate Link trains though.

      4. It makes sense to include 130th with Lynnwood Link. It should have been in the original plans. It would save Lake City and Northgate riders a lot of time, while greatly improving the transit network in the area.

        I think it would make sense to move Graham up, although I don’t think the case for it is quite as strong. Still, for the money, it seems like you would get a fair number of riders, especially trips within Rainier Valley. It is a mile and a half between Columbia City and Othello — that is a long ways. Building the station would enable some crosstown bus routes, although none with the potential of the 130th/125th corridor. Still, a bus route on Graham would likely be a better value than the current experiment in microtransit going on there.

      5. If OMF East opens in December if that year, does that mean that the tracks from Seattle to Bellevue will be traversable by light rail trains?

      6. The stations themselves should all finish by March/April 2020. (Roosevelt is already substantially done; the Standard Radio sign is installed and visible from the 67 bus stop.) Using U Link as a guide, then comes finishing the rails, and the knitting together of the software between Northgate and U Link, which IIRC was a real hitch in the critical path during U Link. Then testing.

        You’ll know you’re close(r) when all trains go all the way to Northgate for testing. Meaning that you’ll be waiting at the platform in HSS for the train instead of getting on during its layover.

        Time to read the critical path summary closely for clues.

      7. Oops, hit “post” to soon.

        Continuing the thought — it isn’t clear what the point of the Boeing Access Road station is. Will it be integrated with Sounder, enabling trips between Rainier Valley and Tukwila, Kent, Auburn, etc.? Or is it designed solely as a bus intercept? If so, are the buses going to turn around and layover there, or will the bus keep going to downtown? Either way, it doesn’t seem like a hugely important station. My guess is they won’t truncate. That means you would have some interesting connecting trips, but many of those trips aren’t bad with the buses anyway (e. g. Renton to Rainier Valley). Hard to see how that station gets a lot of riders.

      8. @AlexKven

        If I understand the progress report correctly, East Link’s power/signals/communications work won’t be finished until Jan 2022, so I don’t think it would be possible to run trains along the line before then.

      9. @AlexKven ST plans to truck LRVs to the Bellevue OMF. They will be doing midlife overhauls to the existing fleet as well, so expect to see LRVs cycling into and out of service.

      10. It’s the 130th St Station that I’m mostly curious about. Now that Lynnwood Link is under construction, the engineering to add the station needs to be in place in case a change order is needed. Even if it opens after 2024, the project needs to account for it in the track, signal, staging, earthwork, safety and all other sorts of systems.

        I wasn’t sure if ST was managing this as part of Lynnwood Link or will list is separately. The document is silent on how it’s being managed.

      11. Sound Transit has assigned project number 400115 for the 130th St Link infill station and thus has its own tracking in the financial plan, the annual budget and the 6-year TIP. In regard to the TIP, the info on this project can be found on page 65. A couple of things jumped out at me:

        1. “Project Risk Assessment –
        Timely completion of design work to allow concurrent construction with Lynnwood Link, or to eliminate/minimize operational impacts; Construction market conditions.”

        2. “Completion Schedule –
        2019 est. 2024
        2020 est. 2036

        I agree with you Al S. ST needs to be more forthcoming about where things currently stand with PE and how far away baselining the project is.

      12. That makes sense I guess. They could then do some prep work for the trains in parallel with the track preparation.


        The point of Boeing Access Road station is to be something that they can cut relatively painlessly in the event that I-976 survives.

      13. “it isn’t clear what the point of the Boeing Access Road station is. Will it be integrated with Sounder”

        No. The pre-ST3 options menu had a BAR Sounder station but it was deselected. Tukwila argued that the BAR Link station was important because it would faciliate an extension of RapidRide A to it, which would serve a planned urban village at 144th Street. It also said the station would be good for Aviation High School and the Museum of Flight. It may have mentioned other bus routes. We’ve talked for years about the 150, 101, and peak expresses being potentially truncated at BAR. Metro’s 2040 plan doesn’t have that but it does have these:

        1047 Rapid: RapidRide A extended to BAR and Rainier Beach.
        1049 Frequent: 150 rerouted to BAR and Rainier Beach.
        1088 Frequent: 107 rerouted to BAR, Georgetown, 4th Ave S, and Intl Dist.
        3053 Local: S 200th Street (from 1st Ave S and Angle Lake Station) – Military Road – 40th Ave S (what’s there?) – BAR – 51st Ave S (part of the 107) – Rainier Beach.

        At some points there are also three express routes but that may be an illusion of the map: they’re probably on I-5 and not stopping at BAR.

      14. Are they going to add a freeway station (similar to those on SR 520) for BAR?

        It seems like BAR doesn’t add much if all you are doing is truncating at Rainier Beach anyway. If you are headed north, then it saves a couple minutes, because you get on the train earlier. If you reverse directions, it saves more, but I’m guessing very few would do that. There isn’t any system advantage (the buses still run to the same place) nor are any new connections.

      15. I haven’t heard about ST adding a flyer station. The focus has not been on transferring from express buses but adding a Link station. The curious result of going through BAR to Rainier Beach may be a case of two ideas crossing without considering the combined impact. In this case the impact is not negative, just not particularly useful. Maybe Rainier Beach is a better layover point, and the routes would have used Boeing Access Road even if the station weren’t there.

  5. Seattle rolls out rules for the e-scooter pilot.

    So the Transportation Revolution™ comes at the cost of pedestrian and cyclist safety. Oh joy!

    Also, the recent report that a significant portion of bikeshares are unusable due to dead batteries doesn’t bode well for motorized scooters. And theoretically, a motorized bicycle is usable with a dead battery. A scooter not so much.

    Regardless, this pilot will just serve to confirm what we already know: motorized scooter users have complete disregard for laws, rules and other’s safety, which is abundantly clear with the growing number of illicit motorized scooters and other e-filth that is plaguing our sidewalks and trails.

    Seattle will probably still expand beyond the pilot, for reasons and money…mostly money. Then Lime and Uber will abandon us after a year or two, having siphoned enough data to satisfy their investors.

  6. I noticed the other day that they are testing four car train runs. I was waiting for a bus to Tacoma at Stadium when one passed by.

    1. I saw one in Westlake Station northbound last Thursday around 1:15PM. It pulled up at the platform, sat for about two minutes, and then continued on. Displays read “Out of Service” and the doors didn’t open.

    2. Curb your enthusiasm. This is pre-revenue testing of four-car consists for Connect 2020.

      3- and 2-car consists will return after those 10 weeks of 12-minute all-day headways.

  7. Kshama Sawant’s proposal to ban evictions during the winter has inspired an idea. During the winter months, all Metro and ST public transit, shall display lists of shelters and their locations. A lot of the onboard advertising space goes unused, so it’s not like they don’t have the space.

    1. Maybe they can list the number of spaces available at each shelter, the way downtown signs list the number of parking spaces in each garage.

    2. It sounds good on paper, but, in practice, this seems easy for high-income tenants to abuse. Now, anyone has the option, if it’s winter, to basically trade a black mark on your credit report for several months of free rent. And, if you do, the landlord is powerless to do anything about it.

    3. The problem also sounds more theoretical than actual. How many higher-income tenants would skip rent simply to get four months off? And the end you’ll be evicted and have an eviction on your credit report and it will be very hard to ever get another apartment.

      1. “And the end you’ll be evicted and have an eviction on your credit report and it will be very hard to ever get another apartment.”

        If the intention is to move out by then anyway, and you have another place to go, it doesn’t matter. For example, let’s suppose you intend to buy a house in February. Once you’re under contract, there is zero reason to bother to keep paying the rent at your current place, as the mortgage will close *before* the eviction even goes on your record.

        Similarly, what if you’re only staying in the U.S. for a few months, before going back home. If the records don’t transfer internationally, you can just refuse to pay, fly home before the winter ends, and pocket the several thousand dollars in avoided rent.

      2. Those are both unusual situations. Only a small number of people buy a house or leave the country each month. A small fraction of them would stiff the landlord. A small fraction of the people who would stiff the landlord have leases that end in March. Most landlords will only offer leases for 9-12 months minimum, so if somebody is staying three months they wouldn’t be able to get a long-term lease.

    4. Your use of the third person while acting as the source of a first-person proposal makes it sound like you’ve been reading the wrong news sources in five languages. Sorry to get meta.

  8. A few thoughts on “a bad year”:

    1) As to “Supremes uphold the stay on I-976; tax cut is off indefinitely. Cuts coming anyway.” Well the Washington “Policy” Center is also having a tantrum about cuts – more about freeway projects. So let’s on our side of the aisle take a chill please? This could have been a lot worse for TransitWorld, and can be. But for now, Governor Inslee and WSDOT Secretary Millar have found their spines.

    2) “Pierce County attempts to defend I-976 in court ($).” Judge today granted the Intervenor request. Sigh…

    3) As to fare enforcement, “For light rail, the fares cover about 38% of operating costs.” OK, how to replace the revenue? Ready to fight and win that ballot measure? Because if not, the current system of fare enforcement kinda works.

    I would prefer faregates. Faregates are machines that enforce fare and machines don’t have bias. With some fixes in the Rainier Valley – e.g. cut & cover or elevated stations – that would more importantly improve safety & system reliability plus hardened stations we’d have fare evasion near 0% with fare enforcement becoming soely rider ambassadors to keep transit vehicles safe.

    4) []

    5) Alex Tsimerman is still bullying in the Ruth Fisher Boardroom. Maybe someone Wednesday will drop a book about how we deal with this… so you can be heard and not the bullies.

    6) The elevators and escalators are still breaking at Sound Transit. Fix this Sound Transit, please.

  9. I think the move to 25 mph arterial speed limits citywide could have a major positive impact in Seattle. We talk a lot about pedestrian safety around here, but not much about noise. According to http://www.ukna.org.uk/uploads/4/1/4/5/41458009/speed_and_road_traffic_noise.pdf, reducing speeds by 6 mph reduces the noise by 40%.

    Add in the facts that lower speed limits reduce accidents and that those accidents are less deadly (especially to pedestrians), and it’s a really positive change. I also notice that driving at 25 mph has a much more relaxed, leisurely feel than driving 30 mph in the city.

    On that note, I think we should be seriously talking about reducing the speed limit on I-5 to 50 mph through central Seattle (as it is in Portland). This would lower noise and improve safety, especially considering the number of short on-and off-ramps we have. In many cases, cars barely have room to get up to 60 mph before merging onto the freeway. Lowering speed limits would also allow WSDOT to narrow the lanes and, in some cases, even add a lane to address bottlenecks or provide a HOV lane.

    1. I don’t like the 25 mph cap. It’s been implemented for several months on 15th Ave NE and NE 65th Street at least. 25 mph is suitable for residential streets, not for arterials. It slows down buses as well as cars, and makes trips across the city take longer.

      If it’s implemented on MLK and Link is forced to slow down too, it will affect Link’s travel time. Link already takes inordinately long to get to SeaTac, and travel times to Federal Way and Tacoma are straining the edge of acceptability. If Link remains at 35 mph while the street goes down to 25 mph, it will mess up stoplight timings and threaten Link’s signal priority. The city could decide to keep MLK at 35 mph, because earlier the city said it would apply the 25 mph cap on a case-by-case basis, but Durkan’s announcement this week suggested all streets would be capped at 25 mph.

      1. As long as the street is still designed for 40 mph driver, drivers will ignore the 25 mph speed limit and go 40 mph anyway. In order to get drivers to actually slow down, the streets need to re-designed to encourage travel at slower speeds.

        In practice, just putting up “speed limit 25” signs, while doing nothing else, simply means drivers will ignore the signs and go as fast as they were going previously, anyway.

      2. Has the speed limit really slowed cars down on 35th Ave NE? Can signs really do what better street design would have done, on the cheap?

      3. I like driving 25 on arterials. It feels like the right speed for driving in the city. The difference of 5mph seems small, but driving 30 is something like 3x more dangerous than driving 25.

        I would be very mad if people drove 25 on my residential street. 15 feels appropriate.

        If you want to drive fast, there are plenty of communities that will cater to you in the suburbs. The city is not the place for it.

      4. If buses drive 25 mph while everyone else drives 40, this just gives people one more reason to choose driving over the bus.

        Gross speeding is a problem, but simply placing speed limit signs and calling it a day isn’t enough. You have to actually design the streets to encourage the speeds you want people to actually drive at. There are ways to do this. For example, speed bumps, signal timing (so if you go to fast, you’ll just have to wait at the next red light), frequent crosswalks, narrower lanes. Reducing the number of lanes is key – one lane, one person driving the speed limit forces everybody behind them to drive the speed limit also. Two lanes, the speeders can just go around and keep on speeding.

        I welcome the goal of getting people to drive slower. What I’m concerned about is that this is simply a ploy so that people who care about safe streets can feel like Durkin is doing something, while people who like to drive fast don’t suffer the slightest bit of inconvenience. In other words, she’s trying to have it both ways, and I don’t think having it both ways is possible.

    2. With 25 mph, I’m waiting for bicyclists to get speeding tickets on downhill streets. I often see bicyclists going over 25 mph. Maybe bicycles will have to get speedometers.

      1. Get your own speed gun, stand out on some of those streets, and see if those bikes really are going over 25 mph. I betcha most that you think are are not.

        Out of curiosity, how long do you think it takes a bike to decelerate from 25 mph to full stop, how long does it take an SUV to do so, and likewise, how long does it take a 3-car train to do so?

        What are the odds that a bike can swerve to avoid a collision. Same question for cars and trains.

      2. I can’t say that bikes regularly go 25 mph in Seattle. I can say they regularly go 20 mph. Having been on the Burke-Gilman during rush hour (speed limit 15 mph) with a speedometer I am regularly passed as if I was standing still while going the speed limit.

      3. Going over 25 on a bike in an urban area is basically unheard of. I’ve gone 30 to 35 on open country road /mountain descents, and anything over 30 feels dangerous, even on the open road. I would guess that less than 1% of cyclists have consistently gone above 25 in the city.

      4. I see it all the time on longer downhill streets with PBLs all over town. Because most bicycles don’t have speedometers, the riders don’t realize that they are reaching these speeds.

  10. The bus-arrival display at 3rd & Pine northbound has a new layout. The early/late minutes are gone, and in their place is the following two runs. The list scrolls continuously rather than moving back to the top and updating every minute. So when it gets to the end of the list it repeats, and when a new dataset comes in it’s added to the bottom. The fonts are also different, and apparently smaller. I wonder if it’s as readable at a distance as it used to be. The color is all black; no red/blue/green anymore. It looks like you can’t tell which times are definite (“the bus is 5 minutes late”) vs which are unknown (“this is the scheduled departure but I have no idea whether it’s accurate”).

  11. Will Northline Village be our Metrotown?

    Lizz: “After allowing taller buildings in downtown, Everett is now taking a look at the rest of the city. Eventually during the multi-year effort the city will consider what other types of housing should be allowed in single-family areas.”

    Is Everett going Minneapolis and upzoning the entire city? Shame on Seattle if it does so. Seattle is already behind Shoreline and Lynnwood in having urban villages at every RapidRide/Swift station and full BAT lanes for them. And RapidRide A has full BAT lanes along 99 too.

  12. There’s a very damning editorial in the Seattle Times regarding Sound Transit’s failures highlighted in the recent consultant report on the Amtrak derailment in Dupont.


    Rogoff’s attempts at deflecting blame from himself and his team needs to be heavily scrutinized by the ST board. The bottom line is that this avoidable incident happened under his watch. In my book, this is strike three for his time at the helm of this agency.

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