- 2019 Washington State Ferries ridership down 3%.
- SDOT claims federal investigation will have no impact on RapidRide G. But originally supposed to open last year, now it’s supposed to be 2023.
- Rep. Nicole Macri (D – Capitol Hill) files legislation that would positively transform the region.
- It’s official: Union Street Symphony Station.
- USDOT sends $790m to Federal Way Link.
- ST Board comfortable with more or less the status quo on fare enforcement.
- Metro would need 11% more service to meet “baseline service targets,” much more money to fulfill the long range plan.
- Regular transit booster Sen. Marko Liias drops a bill to reform car tab valuations, without replacing ST revenue loss.
- Three new members on the CT board.
- Republicans try to shore up I-976 with legislation.
- Ballard/Interbay transportation planning meeting on Jan. 28th.
- Northgate ped bridge construction beginning next week ($)?
- Tacoma Link construction update.
- USDOT sends $53m to Spokane for its BRT line.
- The Economist special report ($) on housing prices.
- Skytrain stations are getting package delivery boxes.
- A good philosophy for people who work in transportation.
This is an open thread.
59 Replies to “News roundup: have no impact”
Sound Transit would have looked awfully foolish if “Arts District” had won the survey. How would they have spun that one?
I’m, with the horse thoroughly out of the barn, wondering about emergency dispatchers being confused about which of the two ‘union stations’ half a mile apart are on fire.
Yes. they now need to rename the original Union Station to avoid more confusion. It’s not really a station anymore though so it shouldn’t be too hard.
I suggest ‘the building formerly known as Union Station’
Maybe now is the time where it is just a joke.
“The station that must not be named”
Unnamable Stupid Station.
Double down on failure.
The Red-Line horse was out of the barn and got brought back.
I can live with referring to the station currently known as University Street Station as “Symphony Station”, just like I call another station “Airport Station”. Naming conventions are still no substitute for better signage to find one’s way into the station the first time.
Thankfully, Union Street at least shows up on the webpage’s map and google goes right to that page.
In 2039 there will be a Union Street Station in Tacoma for the Tacoma streetcar. Maybe they will rename the Seattle one then…
Bill, Union Station in front of UWT has existed since Tacoma Link opened.
Oh sweet Jesus I just noticed Tacoma Link will indeed have a “Union Street” in 2039 – the horror. The absolute abject horror.
I mean, “Union Street Symphony” wasn’t even in the survey so it seems they made up their mind regardless of what the public says. The survey was just to appear as if they cared.
I think they just thought of the USS acronym problem and got the ‘how much will this all cost’ thing after creating the survey.
Naming stuff is hard. I mean that, seriously.
It’s hard when you don’t have to do it with public meetings.
Revising my ‘accepting failure’ solution: “Unnamable Station Station”. Less needlessly negative.
The ‘acronym problem’ just seems made up to me. It reeks of the time when Sound Transit claimed they’d have to replace all the LED signs in every station in order for real-time arrival to work. In reality they just don’t know what they’re doing.
My offer to fix the USS acronym coding issue for $1M instead of $4M still stands;)
This and the Red Line branding thing (Why colors on the first place? Where was public feedback on the concept or chosen colors?) demonstrate a concerning and intensifying arrogance on the part of ST Executive Management and it’s handling by a pretty spineless board. Then there are decisions like pulling down escalators from a Lynnwood Link without public notice or asking if local cities wanted to cover the cost. Even the ST3 SLU/Ballard alignment was never a studied alternative and was instead chosen in a backroom session. Now that ridership isn’t growing healthy, ST staff has recently begun suppressing ridership data by dropping monthly reports.
Rather than complain, I’ve thought about how to create a healthier system. Here it is: Create a Technical Advisory Committee and give that committee legitimacy like meeting monthly and requiring their review of system expansion and rider experience/ operations actions. This new committee would consist of department heads or deputies of SDOT, Metro, CT, PT, WSDOT, and city engineers or public works directors of other cities in the ST taxing district.
Elected officials oversight isn’t happening. By sending respected staff from other agencies, the Board would have assigned better review of ST decisions.
Senior ST executives need better oversight to prevent any more “Ha. Ha. We want to change what we said a few months ago. Oops!”
Yes, it is an unforced error to rename the station to another ambiguous one (though at least less ambiguous).
I have been critical of the wayfinding for Link since the opening, but I do have to admit they must have hired someone new – the latest changes (other than the rename) with the exit signs are quite good. This is a positive change at ST.
Now I wish “Arts District” had won just so they’d have to actually rename the station.
Maybe they could have used Metrpolitan Tract Station. That is the historical land name some of it is under. Use MTS as the acronym. Too late now.
Metropolitan Station might not be bad. it sounds city-like and connotes London’s Metropolitan Line, the first city subway in the world. The name is so generic people wouldn’t make any assumptions about where it is. Although they may think it’s the main station and get off there. Whereas the main station is really Westlake, and Intl Dist is the transportation hub. (In some cities they would both be in the same place.)
People are going to look for the Union Street station on Union street and won’t be able to find it.
Unfindable Stupidity Station
At least ST would be upfront about it with that name.
Unrenamable Same Station
Underestimated Sign Spending
Underground Station at Symphony
Upstairs from Second Subway
Under Seattle Station
“Under Seattle Station”
The City should have chosen another name for University St before ST chose the new station name. Umoja and Union would be a great name pairing.
I don’t see the use of “Union” as a confusion issue. The name has multiple meanings and is on all sorts of local places and buildings — union halls, a local bank, a prominent mission, apartment buildings, even a giant lake in the middle of Seattle!
The bigger issue is the insincerity of ST leaders through this whole situation. It just showed up on an agenda with only six naming alternatives that ultimately didn’t meet the naming criteria. There was never an open public meeting to discuss it — even a meeting near the station to take input from those who are most affected. It was another poorly managed process by ST management.
Who looks for Union Station? Only people who have business at Sound Transit headquarters or want to look at the historic building. Any of them will have specific directions because it’s a relatively obscure place. In contrast, tens of thousands of visitors and occasional riders go to UW or the U-District every year for a hundred different reasons, and they’re looking for the biggest university, and when they see “University” they can be mislead.
and when did they start calling tacoma link ‘little link’? I must have missed that memo.
Tacoma Weekly is calling it that, I’ve never heard it before either but I think they’re just trying to be quirky to distinguish it from the big, real Link.
I just call it the Tacoma Streetcar.
I have a smart friend who has called it Dink for years.
I like “Tink”, especially because when I hear “Link” I always think of the Zelda games, which also involve fairies.
We could name every line in “-ink”! Link, Tink, Pink, Dink, Fink, Sink, Mink and Wink! Lol! No colors required!
I like “Tacoma Streetcar.” It’s not like Link Light Rail, but it is just a little better than the First Hill Streetcar.
It is a streetcar but it really just proves how the distinction is entirely semantic. Streetcars are ‘light rail’. Which brings me back to my years-long question as to why Tacoma Link doesn’t have pictograms if state law apparently requires light rail lines to have them? ST told me they’d add them to Tacoma Link for the next expansion but I haven’t heard any outreach as to what those might look like. I think, once again, they lied.
In Sweden, my understanding is that if it does any street running it’s called “spårvagn” (spore-vang), even if it switches to whatever 60mph is in Swedish a block away.
Whatever north-south street it ends up on, that’s how Ballard station closest to the Nordic Museum should identify its signature transit mode.
Better idea: Let’s just call it The Tacoma and Steilacoom Railway Company and put the rest of it back too. From pics I’ve seen, though, nothing “little” about them.
But since electricity yes or no seems massively topical, Pierce Transit should definitely trolley-wire the Route 1 from Yelm all the way north. Northbound climb past Wright Park definitely calls for it.
Also, since drones are this week’s major page-filler, could be some Defense $$$$$ from Amazon to see if driverless trolleybuses can at least deter something.
If I squint hard enough to make this work, I can see the exit to/from the Benaroya Hall atrium having Union added to its signage. If you exit left out the elevator you can walk straight to Union without going outside. Also, Union is plausibly-ish across the plaza from the 2nd Ave exit. Still, Seneca or Symphony alone would have been so much better.
back before they built Benaroya, and after they had torn down the buildings that were on that lot previously (in one of which I worked), there was an empty lot, and a walkway that went from the corner of 2nd and Union to a portal in the side of the hill under 3rd that was the entrance to the station. So there was kind of a tenuous connection to Union then at least.
Maybe this decision can result in digging an underground pedestrian tunnel connection to Second and Union Street!
lol… saving money on a rename by spending millions on a pedestrian tunnel. ST is crazy enough to do it, don’t give them any ideas.
That would be great, but only if you can keep the cost under 4 million or so, so that they still save money on the 5.4 million they said it would cost to change the name entirely.
60 foot buses are definitely coming to the route 271. They’ll only be used weekdays during peak periods. The majority of the trips, however, will still be done by 40 foot buses. About every third bus will be an articulated.
Thanks, Sam. That’s good news.
I think at least at rush hour they alternate between Eastgate and Issaquah endpoints. I assume that they would use the 60 footers only on the Eastgate endpoint ones? If so, it should be every four buses, more or less. Also, wasn’t there an issue getting through the BC campus with articulated buses? Do you know if that’s been addressed?
What is the difference between an articulated and non articulated bus?
Size and more importantly turning radius. The turning radius was supposedly the issue.
It seems like the ferries need to start offering walk-on monthly passes or multi-ride ticket books. That would make them even more attractive for less well-to-do commuters than the Fast Ferries which are pretty expensive.
After all, it costs exactly NO more to carry a passenger on a ferry which is already running because of vehicle traffic than to leave that passenger on the shore.
Make it cheap and they will come.
The ferries already have this feature. You used to be able to buy books of IIRC 20 rides for a reduced price per boarding. Now they have “Wave2Go Multi-Ride Cards” that you can print out at home which provide a discount for 20 rides.
The passenger limit is actually based on available lifesaving equipment, so enabling more passengers to be able to ride is merely cheap, but not free. The fare surveys tend to focus on those already riding rather than those who won’t ride because of the cost, because of the cost of finding all those who won’t ride because of the cost.
As far as the fare goes, the Washington State Transportation Commission has approved a low-income fare pilot project in concept, and is hoping to find a state funding source this spring. I-976 has turned that uphill search into a vertical climb.
The long queues of vehicles waiting to board suggests that those particular lines can keep raising the car fare/toll, without losing vehicle throughput. I want to see more money put into electrifying the fleet as rapidly as feasible, and it shouldn’t be incumbent on foot passengers to pay for that. I’d love to see a low-income fare, and a very-low income fare (for riders earning 80% or less of the federal poverty level, matching King County Metro’s proposal). The very-low-income fare doesn’t have to be free on specialty services with very little extra capacity, but people should still be able to get around without paying tourist-trap fares.
There are monthly walk-on passes already. I know because I have one. It’s about 106 per month. Details on the website.
Soundtransit is also out with the draft plan for South Sounder capacity expansion under ST3.
My quick glance through says they want to extend the trains from 7 cars to 10 and they say they *might* add one additional trip during the peak period. There is no contemplation of expansion of service outside of the peak commuting hours.
D’oh, forgot the link…
How about having Amtrak serve more of the Sounder stations, providing additional runs all day?
Far as I’m still concerned, it’s aggravated grand theft to be charged $124 for wrong “tap” sequence on a fully-paid-up monthly pass. And both cubed and squared to the twentieth power to do this to a young student, in the very years when they’re forming their view of Government as a whole and transit in particular.
And what stinks worst of all is how such a beautifully simple fare system became such an over complicated indecency: after all these years, Sound Transit’s accounting department can’t apportion pre-collected fare among a half dozen little component agencies who share like spoiled four year olds.
Every language has a phrase for “My enemy’s enemy is my friend.” Really thinking about course of action I’m really surprised hasn’t already happened: enlisting some of ST’s absolute worst political opponents to make my point for me. In front of a lot of TV cameras and smart-phones.
Maybe unfair to class State Senator Bob Hasegawa as an enemy. The man’s reputation is he likes Bernie Sanders. Across party lines, State Senator Steve O’ban is from a couple districts north of mine. Surprised that the Seattle Times’ editorial board has so far missed this chance to make something really smelly stick on Sound Transit. Likely something that criminalizes young black people is more than they can resist abetting.
I’ve seen myself on TV and don’t like the sight- but I’m past worrying about ratings. Fact Public Comment is free suits my campaign budget. Could also be good attention-getter to head for the Ruth Fisher room door with a stolen chair. Why do I think Tim Eyman would even loan me one?
For what his own rehabilitation has cost the taxpayers, a certain agency’s chief owes their children free passes ’til fares go away in compensation. Sound Transit needs to be publicly embarrassed around the world and halfway to the moon. Anybody know anybody internet-technical to help me get Siberians demonstrating on this one?
In the meantime, field trip suggestion for the whole Sound Transit Board: Link to Sea-Tac Airport, ST 574 to Tacoma, Intercity Transit 612 to Olympia Transit Center. Where IT staff can show you touch-stone truth in transit accounting.
By the balance sheet (which is always both definition liberal and conservative) the amount of money it costs to deal with money aboard transit demands that funding be done by tax revenue. Simple calculation of the operating cost of a stopped vehicle- can’t be more elegant.
OK, Deputy, escort me out. Mike Lindblom, make sure you spell it all right. I yield the floor to Alex Tsimerman.
The final article, the “Human Transit” one by Jarrett Walker, merits a posting of its own. He’s right that “Emergency” is a somewhat shopworn description.
Jarret’s firsthand report on Clear and Present Danger. Names of countries- dangerously interchangeable.
.”I will act as if what I’m doing matters, because it does. Transit is a key tool that can ease many of the crises that are triggering fear and rage, so how you do your job is affecting the world. That’s true whether you drive a bus, design a bus route, audit compliance, or do any other of the thousand things that keep our industry running.
.If something doesn’t matter, I will stop doing it and stop telling others to do it. Those of us who create procedures have a special responsibility to make sure that everything we tell people to do is actually helping make things better.
. I will help people understand. Practice explaining what you do and why it matters in plain language. Transit is a widely misunderstood topic. We must be patient and clear in helping everyone see how it works, so that they can make decisions whose consequences they can see.”
While I can’t help blaming one of our country’s political “sides” more than the other, worst damage being done to our government at all levels is the departure, by termination, unbearable disgust, or simple years-in-grade, of a whole generation of civil servants who think and act according to Jarrett’s description.
Reason I keep asking people who actually drive, supervise, maintain, and plan transit, by the hour, the day, and the year, to put some real-time reports and insights into STB.
Especially right now. When our country needs more than ever to remember how much this tone of thought animated the mind whose hand held the goose-feather that wrote The Second Amendment. They didn’t call it “The Age of Reason” for a joke.
Jarrett has been doing most of these things for years. I don’t know why he thought he wasn’t.
University and Union Streets should just trade their names. That way the station name would not be a lie.
I agree with the popular opinion that the naming situation is a disaster.
Unpopular opinion: I’d rather see Sound Transit cheap out on a station name then cut a corner somewhere else and everyone regret it now or later.
Apparently Mark Dublin totally missed ECB’s article, in which ST ‘fessed up to actually having given two $124 tickets to a kid who had a supposedly free pass. I predicted this would happen eventually (issuing the tickets, not Mr. Dublin missing an opportunity to talk about why he uses paper passes instead of his ORCA card when riding Link), and ST would get called out on it.
Mr. Rogoff, we have offered plenty of helpful advice on how to make fare enforcement more sensible and reduce what your staff improperly labels “fare evasion”.
We called for years to have a distinct tap-off sound. Eventually, one of your PIOs pushed it through the right channels, and it happened. Thank you!! (That it took a PIO to make it happen suggests that your fare enforcement chief doesn’t read STB, FWIW. Not a criticism, just pointing it out.)
We suggested a low-income ORCA card way back before ORCA LIFT was a thing, and it happened eventually (mostly because of the Transit Riders Union, not us), with Sound Transit joining in at a measure paced. Thank you!!
We (well, maybe not me, I am a lonely skeptic of the value of the program) asked for an inter-agency ORCA day pass. It happened.
We asked for a reduction in the fee to get the card, to bring it more in line with the much lower card charges at similar agencies around the country (with $2 and free covering 90% of the smart-card prices). Maybe the ngORCA app will be free and it will be free to set up an account? Please, please, please don’t continue to mess up ORCA with a program entry fee.
These are all neat ideas, and ones that make transit operations smoother and more accessible.
But the one most unethical practice remains: Failure by Sound Transit to honor pre-payment, even when the proof is readily available to the fare enforcement officer. This is not the fault of the officer, or her/his training. This is the fault of policy. Nor is this the fault of state law. State law is permissive of this practice, not mandatory. This is the fault of Sound Transit policy. The buck stops with you, Mr. Rogoff, for not putting forward a proposal to halt this unethical practice.
And now, you’ve fined a kid, twice, for not properly tapping her/his “free” pass. I predicted this would happen eventually. I did not expect it to happen this quickly.
Thank you for temporarily suspending the policy of fining riders who failed to tap, or mis-tapped, while in possession of clear-and-obvious proof of pre-payment. Ideally, the policy will go away permamently. But for ST to maximize fare revenue going forward, it needs to start counting how many riders its FEOs encounter who had C&OPoPP, and plan out a statistical extrapolation to take to the ORCA Pod, to get a lump-sum correction based on the rate of such tapping failures, rather than scaring away riders who are afraid of the fines they didn’t earn.
I hope the victim (the kid who got traumatized at least three times by your agency) will keep riding transit despite the treatment ST gave her/him. And I hope you’ll learn from this episode, recognize that it is not an isolated incident, and proceed to stop engaging in this behavior, through a policy change that ought to meet with approval from your Board once the policy problem, the unfortunate results, and the simple accounting solutions are explained to them.
Can’t let go of this one without saying “Thanks!” for getting me back in line, Brent. Just as a human being dealing with others of my species in a profession with a lot of demands, I need to take a leaf from Jarret.
Personal road rage about ORCA policy not only goes back a lot of pages by the calendar(s) but stems precisely from the affection I’ve got for both regional transit and the card-reader system. Kind of miss the taps and tones here in Olympia.
Once gave Metro a 3D design for a hand-held reflectorized plastic card-holder to hold up into the headlights of an approaching bus. Just getting on…leaves something out.
Owe credit to Sound Transit for realizing policy needs work, which there’s no reason not to make happen. Puzzled why, over so many years, neither Transit Passengers’ Union nor any civil rights group have publicly taken this matter to court in front of cameras. One guess is that by Enforcement’s unspoken policy warnings replace fines where there’s no active evasion.
Since Jay Inslee refuses to “walk back” his threat to pull my driver’s license, I’ve agreed to never kill another tree for a tap-safe ORCA pass. Last “rez” for 2020.
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