This is an open thread.

51 Replies to “News roundup: zero fare”

  1. “Who gets a tunnel” is a function of money, or more precisely, Sound Transit’s projected revenues for the subarea at issue. For example, when the Initial Segment was being designed in 1999 projected revenues for the North King subarea were insufficient for the entire CCS – SeaTac Airport design described in Sound Move. The line had to be shortened, and the timeline extended, because of the good planning that went on based on accurate revenues projections. There was however sufficient projected revenues for the Beacon Hill tunnel. Fast forward to now, and “who gets a tunnel” is a far bigger issue as the ST3 projects are being scoped and planned. There’s a good argument that so much projected revenues exist compared to the circa-2015 forecasts used for the ST3 ballot measure that tunnels to both Ballard and West Seattle easily would be affordable. The need for accurate revenues projections are FAR greater now than they were in 1999. What are the projected revenues during the ST3 “system plan” for the five subareas that the board will have to spend? Nobody knows, because the “Financial Plan” described in Appendix B of ST3 is not being prepared, updated annually, or disclosed as the ST3 financial policies require. Sound Transit prepares other budgets and financing plans, but not the one specified in ST3. There is no good reason for this omission, and it is hampering not only public transparency and accountability but also the board’s ability to plan appropriately. This is inexcusable. Anyone with optics into Sound Transit think they can provide current projected revenues and expenses figures for the North King subarea that take into account all the post-2041 costs and taxing? Anyone think they can find a remaining debt capacity figure for the North King subarea? Those data are supposed to be in the Financial Plan ST3 requires. They don’t exist, right?

    1. The “who gets a tunnel” is not really about whether we can afford one here or there. It is about whether it is actually worth the money. A tunnel in West Seattle would not add any new riders. The stations would be the same (more or less) yet it would cost a lot more. With Ballard it is a bit more complicated. A tunnel could enable a station at 20th, which is a much better station. Then it becomes a question as to whether it is worth it or not. Unfortunately, they aren’t considering a station at 20th, even with a tunnel. Thus they could build a tunnel to 15th or 14th, and in either case, the tunnel itself would not add any new riders (or save them any time).

      Yet these ideas get muddled. It would have been very difficult — if not impossible to build a station in Capitol Hill without a tunnel. Yet there are those in West Seattle arguing for a tunnel, based on the fact that Capitol Hill (or the UW, or Roosevelt) has one. That is the flawed idea that Martin is referring to.

      1. As someone who lives in West Seattle and doesnt want our neighborhoods destroyed I can say KMA. Light rail is a joke anyways. We should have invested in a proper subway. Get on your bike and go away.

    2. Tunnels by themselves are an expensive engineering technique in terms of linear feet or meters compared with other techniques. The question should be “why build the tunnel” rather than “who gets the tunnel”? If the hills being crossed are steep like Beacon Hill, it’s very practical (as opposed to huge bridges or a long route diversion); that should be the number one reason. Of course, the value gets complicated once other factors like property takings, visual intrusions and fears of noise and vibration enter into the discussion.

      The undulating nature of West Seattle topography is a challenge, especially when running a line east-west. There is also not a lot of density, with West Seattle and Junction having some density — and Harbor Avenue and Alki Avenue also having some pretty dense blocks.

      I feel like the whole West Seattle extension is approached backwards. Rather than try to make the line “fit” connections to particular areas, I feel like we should have laid out the optimal rail route that wouldn’t require messy tunnels and work backwards to make the future land uses “fit”.

      I always thought that the Pigeon Point tunnel option wasn’t adequately explored. It’s cost at $200M is substantially less than the West Seattle Tunnel at $700M. Since the Ballard high fixed bridge is $100M more, I’ve wondered if a less high bridge with an occasional draw bridge opening for a Duwamish crossing was possible to substantially offset the Pigeon Point Tunnel cost. Choosing one station and bus transfer center between Avalon and West Seattle junction (say Fauntleroy and Oregon) or not building those last few blocks in a tunnel (why wasn’t a short surface segment on Oregon studied? Considering the hundreds of Youngstown homes proposed for taking, taking only a few on the north side of Oregon between California and Fauntleroy seems much less invasive ) would seeming make the Pigeon Point tunnel cost neutral.

    3. “The “who gets a tunnel” is not really about whether we can afford one here or there. It is about whether it is actually worth the money.”

      That’s your argument. The North King argument is whether West Seattle is middle-class “people like us” enough that it has a moral right to a tunnel regardless of its density or transit mode share. This will collide with North King’s budget capacity and require a decision between this tunnel, the ridership/density-justified Ballard tunnel, both, or neither, knowing that one or two tunnels may cause years-long delays or other fiscal issues (both in Sound Transit and in other potential city/county transit projects). Snohomish is in a similar position with its Everett extension and Paine Field detour.

      The subareas’ budgets are relative to each subarea’s desires, how much spare capacity was written into the budget, public pressure to keep the total tax bill low, and the Legislature’s restrictions on tax sources and rates. This affects each subarea differently: some subareas wrote tunnels into ST3, others long surface extensions, others inexpensive BRT lines. Some subareas have latent priorities they weren’t explicit about in ST3: the Ballard and West Seattle tunnels. The ST3 budget was squeezed tightly to pack in all the ST3 and many of the ST4 demands and non-negotiables. North King insisted on Ballard and West Seattle lines, Snohomish insisted on Everett and Paine Field, Pierce insisted on Tacoma Dome, North King would not accept a Ballard streetcar to pay for West Seattle Link. All this caused the ST3 budget to balloon to a 25-year plan instead of a 15-year plan, and making it tight to keep the total cost down. That’s the origin of these problems now.

      “There’s a good argument that so much projected revenues exist compared to the circa-2015 forecasts”

      A couple people on STB have asserted that, but those are amateur projections. There’s no evidence one way or the other that this would hold up under professional scrutiny. You can say ST should release its estimates or do more calculations, but you can’t assume you know more factors than professional transit accountants do, unless you have credentials/experience you haven’t revealed. In the face of uncertainty, I aim conservative, and we need to prepare for the maximum risk, not the maximum windfall. ST says the representative alignment and official alternatives are close to the debt ceiling. None of us knows when a recession, war, climate catatstrophe, or federal dictatorship might occur — it might be in the next ten years.

      1. I think you bring to light a core dilemma by mentioning what each subarea “wants”, Mike. The decisions are not based on a direct examination and productivity analysis but is based on a preference. Even the early studies before ST3 had little variation about the end points and station locations and segment ridership.

        Had an advisory ballot measure preceded ST3 will real choices, I could but that the will of North King was chosen. However the unstudied SLU/ Ballard option was sketched in an office and put in the program as part of a yes/no vote after detailed studies were completed.

        Visionary? Perhaps. I think the blended corridor is probably the best in concept. Let’s not credit it to what the public “wants” though an ST3 vote though.

      2. SLU was a complete oversight by everybody: Sound Transit, Seattle, and transit activists. Of course 40-story towers would require high-capacity transit, but that was never mentioned in the 1990s or 2000s during ST1, ST2, or the early days of ST3. Instead we got a streetcar and route 40. Then when transit capacity to SLU jobs melted down and developers were demanding garages, the C was hurriedly extended to SLU to add another frequent route. Ballard Link went through entire proposal cycles before SDOT suggested rerouting it through SLU. And that was essential because of the urban center we’d already created there.

      3. Maybe it’s ingrained memories of the engineering drawings I got shown in the offices and public meetings of the Downtown Seattle Transit Project, but can’t lose fixation on the need for some section views.

        Which I suspect is main reason I keep asking for some updated knowledge of advancements in tunnel-boring since the mid 1980’s that gave us the DSTT. Is it really a given that the tunnels I’m thinking about are still the most expensive way to go?

        Mark Dublin

      4. “Let’s not credit it to what the public “wants” though an ST3 vote though.”

        To be clear, I’m defining North King’s wants as light rail to Ballard and West Seattle, regardless of the alignment between Westlake and Mercer. There was always going to be a tunnel to north of Mercer, the only question was whether it would emerge at Interbay or Fremont. We transit activists had earlier beaten down the alternatives for surface downtown or a streetcar to Ballard, so the only remaining alternatives were underground through Mercer. The SLU change simply rerouted it in the middle, blending two options as Al S called it, and I assume that was cost-neutral. The North King public didn’t have an opportunity to explicitly feed back on that in a separate round, but I think most agree it was a good de facto change.

        So we saw various factions in North King supporting one or more of: (1) Ballard-downtown Link, (1A) with Ship Canal tunnel, (1B) with SLU routing, (2) downtown Link tunnel, (3) West Seattle Link, (4) West Seattle BRT, (5) downtown bus tunnel, (6) 45th line, (7) Metro 8 line. ST ultimately chose 1, 1B, 2, and 3, and is undecided on 1A.

  2. 1. Intercity Transit’s Transfer of revenue collection away from buses is just the start of a new era. But would like to see publicized a formula that anybody discussing transit finance needs to know:

    What is the cost of one minute when a vehicle is standing still when it should be moving?

    Sadly, IT fact most needing attention isn’t good: Yesterday an official told me that service is still damaged by Tim Eyman’s activities of twenty years ago. Coronavirus not only thing needing a cure.

    2. Would like to hear from as many bus drivers as possible about the quality of their training in wheelchair securement. Problem now massively intensified by the number of different chair designs.

    Think it’s time for a very public investigation as to whether our drivers are now dealing with wheelchairs for which no present equipment will work at all.

    In addition, though, I’d like to see Metro, Sound Transit, and the public schools develop a volunteer program whereby young people are trained and assigned to ride buses and assist with wheelchair handling and other passenger needs.

    Benefit not only to passengers, but good for supply of future drivers.

    3. Definitely personal, but for me right now ST fare enforcement is Single Issue in Spades:

    Any official charging me with stealing for an inevitable mistake in physically handling a fully pre-paid card in stressed circumstances:

    You’re the thief, and a lazy, scared and arrogant one. Whose Agency has long since trashed its founding promise of a seamless fare system. Who shouldn’t be allowed to touch transit passenger One, and most especially school-kids. Not all child abuse is sexual.

    Your own bullying “RCW” nulls rules that aren’t explained. Anywhere in “Ride The Wave” or on any machine-side wall ceiling, show me single mention of “tapping off.”

    So for Fare Enforcement priority? For duration of present Enforcement discussion, a court injunction forbidding theft prosecution of anyone with a pre-paid ORCA card.

    For starters. Other ideas, ‘way more than welcome. Great posting, Martin. Everybody else, looking forward to today’s reading.

    Mark Dublin

  3. “Why bus stops are usually after the intersection ($).”

    Ah, yes, the ubiquitous answer: because cars are awful and drivers will kill you to save five seconds.

    1. What’s even more frustrating is that sometimes when a vehicle is in the right lane but going straight, and the car behind feels entitled to turn right on red, so it turns from the second lane. As if the legality of a turn on red (after a full stop, people often forget that part also) provides any cover whatsoever for what these people do.

    2. It’s also to avoid those situations where the bus pulls up 50 feet behind the stop, but can’t open its doors until the light turns green and all the cars in front move out of the way. This typically sets things up so that right when the bus closes the doors and starts moving again, the light turns red again. Hence, loading three passengers, with the doors open for ~15 seconds actually delays the bus by 2-3 minutes (if it’s a long light).

      With dedicated bus lanes, this is less of an issue, but, in general, far side stops are best for keeping the bus moving, and near side stops should be used only in special situations, like when large number of people are exiting the bus and the near side is closer to their destination. For instance, buses that cross MLK, I would generally prefer nearside so that riders transferring to Link save a light cycle, given that the number of thru riders is very tiny. But, that’s the exception, not the rule.

      1. Like when the SB bus stop at 15th and Market was moved from south of Market to north of Market years ago because…reasons?

        It’s rare that I’m on a morning bus that makes the same green light when it arrives at that intersection, causing unnecessary delays while the bus waits for the long light cycle.

      2. Farside stops also avoid the case where the bus finishes loading and is ready to go but it has to wait for the light to turn green. I thought that was the main reason for farside stops. If a bus is moving at car speed from the last green light they’ll probably make the next green light, but if it finishes loading at an arbitrary time then it’s random whether it will have a green light or not.

        In the 1980s Metro had more nearside stops, but it moved almost all of them to farside.

    3. It would have been nice if the story included accident stats to back up the assertion that far-side stops are safer than near-side stops.

      1. Infuriating thing about far-side stops is having to wait through a red light before bus can get across to (guess what?) Stop.

        100% curable if at least major bus routes have the ability to hold signal green until an approaching bus gets across. Does any of our transit have that capacity now?

        Mark Dublin

      2. I really hate the simplistic idea that far side stops are always better. Transferring to crossing routes or at Link stations, sight lines for pedestrians, stop spacing, sidewalk slopes and other issues can easily be more important considerations.

      3. As I said in my prior comment, far-side stops are usually better, but there are exceptions. Crossing MLK is one of them because 1) more riders transfer to Link than stay on the bus, 2) a far-side stop adds an extra two-minute cycle to reach Link, resulting in a 1 in 5 chance for a 10-minute delay, should you miss the train.

        Another special case is downtown, where the intersections are so frequent that it is impossible to ever have a stop that is not both near-side and far-side at the same time.

        But, those cases are the exception, rather than the rule. In a more common case where, say, 80% of the riders stay on the bus and 20% get off (maybe half of those transferring to another bus), it is better to just focus on keeping the bus moving and serve the far-side stop.

  4. The Columbia/Alaskan Way intersection is open now. There appears to be a traffic cop at the intersection to keep it clear for the bus to make the turn onto Alaskan, for now at least. Generally speaking I don’t see cars block that intersection too often. When they do its during the summer, not right now.

    It would be nice if they would paint on some “do not stop” lines like they have in front of the fire station. But I’ve honestly seen more people blocking that intersection than this one.

  5. The entire Monday night episode of the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon was done on a subway car in NYC. Here’s a short clip of Jimmy above ground, explaining what’s about to happen, then heading down into the subway to start his show.

    1. Thanks for the memory, Sam. Because it seems to me that, some years ago, Link did a “Musical Ride”. Don’t remember if Sea-Tac Station was opened, or if we terminated at International Blvd.

      Where music rendered the massive white metal structure holding up the station, for the first and last time in its history, Pigeon Free. Ridership perfect: Train was full.

      Any chance of a repeat performance?

      Mark Dublin

  6. “The trials would include access for all types of active transportation like walking , biking , skateboarding,”

    I didn’t realize that the solution was to go to court instead of building trails. Oh just another day where the editor is asleep as a Sinclair publication.

  7. Since the City owns the triangular block across from 2201 Westlake, it’s not impossible to put a turn-around bulb just west of the bus stop and force cars that enter Ninth Avenue to return to a right turn onto Denny Way. The would allow creation of an unbroken bus-stop AND stop the “dusting” that plagues the street.

  8. To summarize the “making educated guesses” article, it basically explains how a woman who lives near Yesler Terrace, and works in Belltown, has created an algorithm in her head to decide whether she walks, bikes, takes the bus, takes Lyft, takes the FH Streetcar, or takes Link. It concludes with an expert telling us we should be more like the Dutch.

    1. It’s nothing new. I do that all the time. For short trips, it is quite common for walking or jogging to be faster than waiting for the bus. Sometimes, the algorithms get more complicated. For instance, since the closure of Montlake Freeway, I had to find a new way to get from the U-district to Kirkland reliably on a weekend, that does not involve getting stuck for 30 minutes if the 542->255 connection has bad luck. Here is what I came up with:

      1) Board route 542 in the U-district
      2) Remain on the bus to Yarrow Point (don’t use Evergreen Point, as it will make step 6 impossible, later on)
      3) While on the 542, pull out OneBusAway, select any route 255 stop, and tap “show route information” to view the last known locations of each bus.
      4) Due to a quirk in OneBusAway’s data feed, the bus is always shown to be at the stop it most recently passed, never in between stops. Thus, a bus at Olive/Boren actually means a bus somewhere on either I-5 or the 520 bridge, a bus at Yarrow Point means somewhere between Yarrow Point and South Kirkland P&R, etc. When arriving at the Yarrow Point bus stop, exit the 542 and check the app. If the app shows the bus at Olive/Boren, go to step 5. If the app shows the bus at Yarrow Point (or further ahead), go to step 6.
      5) The transfer gods are happy today. Just wait for the 255, as it should arrive in 5 minutes or less. Ignore the “real-time arrival” sign at the station, showing the bus not due for another 15-20 minutes. It’s *wrong*. When the bus arrives ride it the rest of the way to Kirkland and skip the remaining steps. While waiting, keep checking the app, and make sure it’s actually still coming (it could have passed, but the app hasn’t updated yet). If the app shows the bus’s position moved from Olive/Boren to Yarrow Point, then the bus is gone. Stop waiting immediately and move on to step 6.
      6) The 255 is gone, so it’s time to pull out a special trick to avoid waiting up to 30 minutes for the next one. Take the stairs up to the street, then jog east on the 520 trail towards Bellevue Way.
      7) Cross Lake Washington Blvd. and catch route 234 or 235 at NE 38th Pl., then ride the 234 or 235 the rest of the way to Kirkland. The way the weekend schedules work out, the 234 and 235 individually run once per hour, but the combined frequency is twice per hour. If you jog an 8-10 minute mile, the schedules are lined up so you’ll have about a 5-minute wait for the 234/235, and arrive at Kirkland Transit Center just 5 minutes later than the 255 you missed. That’s 25 minutes saved, compared to just doing the trip the obvious way.

      (Yet another alternative is to order a Lyft/Uber ride from Yarrow Point if you miss the 255, but it costs $10-15. Plus, after waiting for the rideshare car, you don’t actually end up getting to Kirkland any quicker than if you just follow the algorithm and ride the 234/235 bus with a free transfer).

      Look forward to the upcoming restructuring of route 255, which will render this entire algorithm obsolete.


    No stranger to being in the minority- bet ICE has papers proving I was born there and if Olympia wasn’t such a Sanctuary City, I’d be on the plane to the Tacoma Tide Flats as we speak. But somehow, the above link’s little walk down two years of Memory Lane doesn’t leave me charmed.

    Long since stopped thinking that Fare Enforcement or anybody else keeps stats as to how many fully pre-paid passengers actually get fined for a bad tap. ‘Bout like present Administration statistics as to sick children who die in ICE custody. Though does tick me off that l’m getting this treatment out of my own side as to Sound Transit in general.

    Main thing – probably one too many chocolate malts waiting for the Electroliner in Racine Wisconsin in 1953- is that I never could stand it when everybody else knows something I don’t. I’m seeing school-children getting hurt and humiliated for minutely inconveniencing somebody’s accounting.

    Am I really just “Seeing Things?”

    Mark Dublin

  10. There is a good idea from the comments section of the bus/bike lane article: Allow people to take photos or short videos to report bike/bus lane violations (and stopping/standing parking violations) via the 311 system. It would be similar to neighbors reporting code violations. And there is no so-called “Big Brother surveillance” involved either.

    1. Add in a bounty system, and I’d stop my business and spend my day in front of the Amazon buildings on Sixth Avenue photographing Lyft and Uber vehicles waiting in the bike lane for a living

  11. Well, Mark, be careful what you ask for. On some vehement and darkly-toned insistence this afternoon, was finally put through to a Customer Services supervisor who told me the one thing that in all these years I had never been told or otherwise understood:

    For all this time, I’d been operating under the assumption that once I’d paid for my monthly ORCA pass, I’d never see my money again. The truth? With zero taps on my card at the end of the month, I can get a FULL refund.

    In criminal law and every movie about it….a lot can do a 180 with the appearance of a motive. It’s my transit system! Dodge a fare on purpose and you’re stealing from me!

    Also, that there could be some fairness in distance-based fare for trains that doesn’t hold for buses. Without it, shorter trips would have to require a higher fare than now. Which at least merits some discussion, including why ST buses like the 574 don’t need it.

    I also still consider the posted RCW’s to be intimidation, given ability of the average passenger to read and comprehend them in the fare-purchase line.

    But RCW 81.112.220 carries language plainly stating that penalties don’t apply “when the authority fails to meet the requirements of subsection (3) of this section…” as to information.

    Chance that my eyesight hasn’t yet been able to find any mention, let alone explanation, that failure to “tap off” correctly could lead to a Fare Evasion charge, and why. Either in Ride The Wave, online, or on the wall by the machine.

    Letting me finish with some positive thoughts that I really would like ST and the rest of transit to pursue, related to fares and a great deal else. I went lifelong pro-transit when I was five in Chicago. Just watch children aboard trains and notice the powerful affinity.

    So by high school, I’m envisioning a volunteer program that combines on-the-spot platform and train-riding help…with a spirit akin to the Youth Wing of many European political parties. Visualizing ST, Seattle (and other) Public Schools and the Transit Riders’ Union for pioneer sponsors.

    Icelandair to Reykjavik to Copenhagen to electric rail to Gothenburg is an easy field trip.

    Mark Dublin

  12. Limited-stop overlays vs one-route-fits-all: Jarrett makes an interesting point that limited-stop overlays are most effective when the corridor is very long and the minimum frequency is 10 minutes on both the limited and the local route, and that 5-minute frequency can make up for limited-stop service on shorter corridors. Some have argued that Pugetopolis needs no limited-stop corridors at all. I’d argue against that, and that the RapidRide A,D, E, and Swift Blue currodors need more than just current-generation RapidRide.

    Aurora once had three levels of service: 6 (local), 359 (daytime limited-stop), and 360 (peak express). These were consolidated into the 358, arguing that maximizing frequency on one route gave the biggest transit benefit. RapidRide E is a minor improvement to the 358’s route/stops and a major improvement in frequency. But it’s still 45 minutes Westlake-Aurora Village and 27 minutes 85th-Aurora Village. That’s excessively long and limits people’s mobility and willingness to use transit. You can say “Link is the solution”, but Link wasn’t there from 1995-2025 when people needed it. And for some trips going east to Link and west back to Aurora is too much overhead, especially if the east-west buses are less frequent or at 15-minute frequency. Metro/SDOT should have proritized getting the E closer to 30 minutes for Westlake-AV, which they could do by deleting a few stops and adding full BAT lanes on Aurora (Shoreline already has them). Then there would be less need for a limited-stop overlay. But Metro/SDOT refuse to even acknowledge the problem. As for “5-minute frequency is better than a limited-stop overlay”, the E and 358 have never had 5-minute frequency! No route in Pugetopolis has had that that outside rush hour.

    The D is a minor improvement over the 15 but it still takes too long! That’s much of the impetus for Ballard Link. An inexpensive way to improve it would be to route on Elliott Ave like the Magnolia routes. It would still stop close to Seattle Center and Uptown like the Magnolia routes do.

    The A is half an hour between SeaTac and Federal Way. Again this is excessive, and Link will be the limited-stop overlay it should have had with buses. (The 574 is too infrequent and spends too much time going east-west to the freeway exits.)

    Swift Blue is limited stop and has a local overlay, hooray. But it still takes 45 minutes from end to end, and thus if you’re traveling a substantial portion if it it will take a substantial portion of that time. Link will help, but again Link is a way’s east. Swift should have 10-minute frequency full time, and ideally 5-minute frequency someday. And don’t delete the limited-stop service. We need more of that in King County, not less of it in Snohomish County. Edmonds-Everett and Edmonds-North Lynnwood trips are real, just as Mountlake Terrace-Mukilteo trips are, and other trips more than a couple miles throughout the county.

    1. “The A is half an hour between SeaTac and Federal Way. Again this is excessive …” Why is it excessive?

    2. Because it may be only part of a trip. If you’re going from Federal Way to Southcenter, Kent Showare Center, Kent East Hill, Seattle, etc, it’s only part of the trip, and the unique things in those areas are not available in the FW-SeaTac corridor.

    3. The average commute time is 20-25 minutes, and people start getting dissatisfied the more it goes over 30 minutes. I assume non-work trips are the same. So it’s important to have a wide variety of destinations available within a 30-minute travel time. If 30 minutes from Federal Way gets you only to SeaTac, and 60 minutes gets you to Southcenter and Kent East Hill, that’s a problem. It’s a values judgment what a reasonable time should be, but it shouldn’t take as long to take transit from Federal Way to Renton as it does to drive from Seattle to Olympia or Mt Vernon.

      1. By recent experience, the BAT lanes and lack of signal preempt between Federal Way and Angle Lake Station make Rapid Ride one more red bus in regular traffic.

        ST Route 574 handles Star Lake, Kent Desmoines Road Park and Rides much better. Could use lane and preempts from SW 188th to the airport. Too bad elevator at Sea-Tac needs to be replaced with a construction rental. Human operator we’d need to run it will definitely be worth their money.

        Mark Dublin

      2. Pacific Highway has full BAT lanes as far as I can tell. That’s what South King County, Shoreline, and Snohomish County have but Seattle doesn’t. I haven’t see the A stuck in traffic, it just has too many stations and stops at traffic lights too much.

        The 574 spends too much time between I-5 and the Federal Way and Star Lake stops. I don’t remember it stopping at KDM P&R. 188th has the excuse that there are people there.

      3. Yes, 30 minutes is the ideal time, but for transit to be compelling, it simply has to be consistently cheaper AND faster than the alternative. Even at >45 minutes, an A to Link trip is likely going to be better than driving on 99 or I5 into Seattle. As long as the primary job centers are in Seattle and East King, I think RR-A and Link will do great.

        East-west trips in South King are difficult for transit to serve well, and there driving is often better than transit. But there the problem is the F and other east-west routes, not the A?

        I think the A is really good. It has the same bus infrastructure as the E, one of our best routes. It just has lower ridership because it’s much further from density. That’s a land use problem, not a KCM problem.

      4. “Even at >45 minutes, an A to Link trip is likely going to be better than driving on 99 or I5 into Seattle.”

        Maybe, but that assumes your destination is north on Link, or that Link is extended to Federal Way. I’m saying that without those you’re looking at 25 minutes Westlake-KDM (on the A), 20 minutes KDM-Kent (current bus or future RapidRide), 15 minutes Kent-East Hill (current bus or future RapidRide), 35 minutes Kent-TIB (on the A), 20 minutes TIB-Renton (on the F). Any combination of those exceed 30 minutes, and some exceed 45 and 50 minutes. And we haven’t even gotten to the industrial jobs in north Kent along the 150 and 180; those are similar. And yes, there’s a route from FW to Kent that I’m too lazy to look up, but if you’re starting from north of FWTC then it would be backtracking.

      5. The A is good. It just shouldn’t be the fastest frequent option in the corridor. Link will resolve that on Pacific Highway, but Link won’t be on 104th/Auburn Way, KDM Road, Southcenter Pkwy (at least not in ST3), Aurora, or other places.

    4. I see an important distinction between having limited-stop routes and RapidRide. Many areas have limited stop routes at times of peak demand, like from 7 AM to 7 PM. The route is numbered the same as the base route with an “L” or “R” in the name. For example, 38R-Geary or 38-Geary in San Francisco does this (their limited stop buses don’t run after 7 PM there).

      On the other hand, RapidRide is the all-day (and night) base route. To get the best use out of that and to instruct the riders on what is going on during low-demand hours, some other strategy has to be implemented. Northing would be worse than waiting at a bus stop at 11 PM and have the RapidRide pass you by because you didn’t wait at the right stop.

      In this respect, R-RapidRide for Rainier is kind of messy. Perhaps the bus runs later in the evenings can be labelled R-RapidRide + local? It’s either that, or label the route Metro Route 7R — Rainier.

      Incidentally, calling any RapidRide route an “R” is going to create lots of confusion in the future. It will inevitably lead to some who think that all RapidRides stop at an “R” stop rather than just Route “R”. I could even see all the RapidRides eventually walk away from letter altogether once the alphabet has been fully assigned — as half of the alphabet has already been assigned and some letters “O” shouldn’t be used even though the program didn’t really get developed in concept until 10-15 years ago. At some point, it will be enumerated with a letter in front — like an “R”!

      1. Exactly. Limited-stop routes are like Swift, Link, the 9, 15, 373, and former 7X. In some cities they’re daytime-only, but not peak-only. After 8pm local buses can be just as fast. Limited-stop routes really compensate for the travel-time difference between evening/early morning service and daytime service, when the streets are congested, people are getting on/off at every stop, and several people are getting on/off at once.

        Metro initially marketed RapidRide A-F as “BRT like Swift”, implying it would be limited-stop. It’s unclear whether they intended that but that’s how it appeared. A year or two after the vote Metro said it couldn’t afford to have local overlays, so limited-stop routes were out after that. That was around the same time that Eyman initiatives slashed transit revenue and government budgets, so it appeared that that was one casualty of the initiatives.

      2. Rapidride A cut about 1/3rd of the 194’s stops soon after it was formed. It is the limited-stop route. The local overlay was the casualty, as most of those stops no longer exist.

      3. I’m defining limited-stop as stopping once a mile or less. Considering 200th to 300th, it would stop at 200th, 216th (in lieu of 220th), KDM Road (if necessary for east-west transfers), 240th (Highline CC), 260th, 272nd (in lieu of 280th), 300th-ish, and FWTC (320th). It wouldn’t make 11 stops in between like the A does. I’m only talking about stop spacing, not exactly which stops they should be or which institutions might justify an extra stop. The stops should generally be at the largest commercial/multifamily nodes, multicity draws like libraries, and east-west bus transfers.

    5. ” Link is a way’s east” – it’s not a way’s east if you are riding Swift end to end. For the vast majority of the Blue Swift corridor, you should be much closer to a Link station, but the closest Link station may not be the terminus. The end to end time isn’t a relevant metric for accessibility. In Lynnwood itself, much of your Seattle-bound Swift ridership will shift to other CT routes that directly connect to the Link station because that should be faster that Swift all the way to 185th.

      Same for the A – once Federal Way Link is open, no one should be riding A end-to-end if they are heading into Seattle, because they will have the opportunity to transfer to Link at FW, KDM, and Angel Lake … for some it will be faster to backtrack a few stops to get to Link, which isn’t intuitive but i think people will figure it out.

      1. Few people ride Swift or the E end to end, but they do ride them from south Everett to Edmonds, north Lynnwood to Edmonds, 85th to 185th, 85th to north Lynnwood, etc. So not the entire length but a substantial part of it. That’s what Swift is for, for those kinds of trips.

      2. “In Lynnwood itself, much of your Seattle-bound Swift ridership will shift to other CT routes that directly connect to the Link station because that should be faster that Swift all the way to 185th.”

        Bingo! That’s exactly right. In my own case once, Lynnwood Link opens in 2024 (hopefully), I would simply take my local CT that currently goes to the Lynnwood TC and connect with Link there for those workdays I need to be in downtown Seattle.

        This is all assuming I haven’t retired by then. It saddens me to think that by 2024 it will have taken ST some 28 years to get light rail to Lynnwood.

      3. “The end to end time isn’t a relevant metric for accessibility.”

        The end-to-end time is the worst-case scenario, and is a good reference in that regard. If you travel half the length, it takes half the time. That still takes longer than ideal, which is why I’m arguing for faster service. Link will help for some trips, but other trips are closer to Aurora-to-Aurora and a distance where going to Link is one half dozen to the other (so no improvement) or more trouble than it’s worth compared to staying on 99.

  13. Today I drove up NE 20th street (Northup Way) at 136th Place NE in Bellevue for the first time in a while, and there are now train tracks in the road crossing 20th. Kinda cool.

  14. Good thing zero-fare is gaining traction with the rising concerns around N-Cov19. I heard two Fare enforcement officers talking about the “call-in sick policy” mandated on them. Apparently they have to have a doctor’s note to stay home more than one day! At a time when everyone is urged to stay home when they have flu symptoms, how many of these officers with symptoms are on the job because they cant afford to see a doctor? They also said that their bosses will not let them wear masks on the job, and only can wear gloves when dealing with a mess.

    They are putting all of us at risk!

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