With the cuts more or less done for now, its getting slooooow in the transitsphere:
- Another way to report badly parked bikeshares. If able bodied, you could just, you know, move it.
- ECB writes about the plight of the bus driver today.
- Seattle and Uber/Lyft reach a deal: not pushing unionization, but a minimum wage for drivers.
- Pierce Transit adds more rider limits per bus; essential employees can now dial a ride.
- Biketown is now way cheaper.
- Dan Bertolet has some smart thoughts about the pandemic.
- Also, Jarrett Walker on the same subject, at length.
This is an open thread.
92 Replies to “News roundup: smart thoughts”
Time to reevaluate Sound Transit’s ST3 buildout plans. Do we need those marginal-utility train extensions to Issaquah and Everett and Tacoma?
The DEIS just was submitted for the Seattle ST3 project — it is chock full of projections that can not come to pass regarding employment in downtown Seattle creating vast increases in transit demand.
Peak downtown Seattle and Bellevue employment likely is behind us. That was the primary reason for these expansion plans — crowding more and more workers into downtown cubicles each day. The big Seattle area employers (tech, g’ment, law, and finance) will be requiring employees to work remotely more, road congestion will be less, office occupancy and will fall, and overall employment downtown will shrink. Remote working was not even imagined when this rail system was dreamed up, and going forward big employers will need it because it is efficient and workers want it. Nobody wants to crowd into Sound Transit’s virus tube twice a day.
A big chunk of sound transit peak riders are downtown Bellevue and Seattle office riders. A large percent of them will be working remote into next year. 37 percent of workers across the country are now telecommuting based on a recent mobility report. That’s a huge percentage, and will likely continue into next year. Transit ridership will likely not fully recover until 2022.
9 to 5 commuting is always exaggerated when it comes to transit. Those that are in charge often work those hours, so they focus the system on that. Yet ridership is more spread out throughout the day. Tech work is a subset of that.
Furthermore, it is highly likely that once the pandemic is over, people will move back into those offices. I really doubt they will stay empty anymore than I expect the bars, restaurants and hotels to stay empty. Telecommuting has been an option for years — it isn’t like some brand new technological development (akin to the mobile phone). A lot of people thought that 9/11 would be the end of skyscrapers, but cities were building them soon after we got over the shock. People want to be around people. They will go back to working downtown (and the various other employment centers).
I agree with Ross. Office employment will probably not recover till next year or later, but it’ll recover. Working from home has a lot of conveniences, but it also has a lot of challenges – and there’re some of us who like coming into the office to see people in person.
If the virus magically vanished tomorrow, I think most of my own team would gladly be back to the office next week.
Those projects are targeted to 2030-2041. Even if ridership doesn’t recover until 2022, DSTT2 won’t open until fourteen years after that (and probably later). It’s not just for commuters to downtown; it’s also people going through the center of the network to other places. E.g., U-District to Bellevue, Beacon Hill to Northgate. Plus intra-downtown circulation, tourists, people with midday meetings, etc. All these converge in the center of the network.
You’re making a big assumption that few teleworkers will return to the office. We won’t know that until the offices have reopened and commute patterns stabilize again. Also, the population will keep increasing, both because of new jobs, people being born and graduating high school, and long-term climate refugees. The future job profile may be more dispersed across the Link network, more mixed with part-time and full-time teleworking, but offices aren’t likely to vanish or peak commuting evaporate.
The Tacoma and Everett extensions, and Issaquah-South Kirkland line have always been questionable: nothing has fundamentally changed with those. The Pierce subarea, Snohomish subarea, and the City of Issaquah are convinced that these extensions are vital to their economies to attract employers to them. If you want to cancel or modify these projects, you have to convince the subareas’ mayors, councilmembers, and ST boardmembers, because they hold the keys. What these subareas fear is being left economically behind as companies and workers gravitate toward cities with Link. The suburbs without Link will miss out on tax revenue and at the extreme may turn into slums. Tacoma doesn’t want that; Everett doesn’t want that; Issaquah doesn’t want that.
Peak downtown Seattle and Bellevue employment … was the primary reason for [ST3] expansion plans
Not really. They just thought it would be cool to run a subway between Tacoma and Everett. No one ever sat down, did an analysis and said “yes, that is clearly the best value”.
“They just thought it would be cool to run a subway between Tacoma and Everett….”
Yup, pretty much.
I find it rather curious that when times are good, such as back in the run-up to the 2016 ST3 vote, many of the light rail expansion advocates just give a pass on the whole spine concept. But once we enter a period of contraction and a dismal fiscal outlook, suddenly it’s like when tRump made that announcement to the world that Lincoln was a Republican.
A light rail spine between Tacoma and Everett was a bad idea in 1996 and remains a bad idea today. (Commuter rail on a central corridor, not the BNSF ROW north route, was the better option to connect these far flung cities to Seattle.) ST3 was a bad value as drafted and hence my primary reason for not supporting the measure. I think many will soon learn what a bad value it was as ST ultimately goes through yet another capital program reset.
The spine is a more unproductive “bad idea” if we maintain an overall vision of a big, concentrated downtown (or two or three) served by residential districts — which has been our collective consciousness for at least several decades. Biologically, a spine is more sturdy by the presence of closely-spaced “ribs” that all have utility approaching a similar scale to the others nearby..
I don’t think leaders have fully embraced what a value-added spine should be. They probably think it’s just about connecting a few faraway business centers with parking garages and a few apartments in between. It’s not! Every single station needs to have value like a rib.
I’ve often felt that no community “deserves” a light rail station unless they can present an adopted vision that produces a minimum number of boardings at that station. If the region is pumping hundreds of millions into building a station, we as regional taxpayers should expect that station to be used.
If by “no analysis” you mean the entire PSRC process and the Growth Management plan updates, then sure. The overriding rationale of the ST long range plan has always been to connect growth centers with high capacity transit, with the growth centers defined by the PSRC. This is the whole point of Al’s “deserve” comment – the PSRC sets specific job and housing requirements to be a growth center.
I always thought the spine+ribs metaphor was the entire point of the “spine” rhetoric. I’ve never each someone use “spine” otherwise. In fact, I’d argue that one of the common critique on this blog is that ST is too focused on connecting ribs to the spine by prioritizing bus-rail transfers over station walksheds, particularly with the station placements in the Lynnwood extension. The entire STX and Stride modes are intended to be ribs to the Link spine once ST3 is built out. Very odd to see someone argue ST is underemphasizing the ribs.
So Al, you are saying that if the city was completely different (if it stretched from Tacoma to Everett) than it would be a great idea? Yeah, I suppose, but that isn’t the city we live in.
If you look at a population density map (https://arcg.is/0jK85b) or an employment density map (https://onthemap.ces.census.gov/) almost all the density is in Seattle, with just a bit on the East Side. Consider also that the census map is out of date, and Seattle has grown faster than the surrounding suburbs (with Bellevue second). So not only is everything centered around Seattle (and to a lesser extent a few spots in Bellevue/Kirkland/Redmond) but the difference has grown over time, not shrunk.
Neither Everett nor Tacoma will become the next Seattle. The suburbs in between will not become Seattle either.
The surrounding suburbs and satellite cities will continue to be just that. They are better served by express buses and commuter rail (when possible). That is because, for the most part, the places in between have so little demand. There are thousands of people who take the train from Capitol Hill to the UW every day (or at least there were). There will be thousands going from Northgate to the UW or Roosevelt to Capitol Hill. That is the way a city works. But there won’t be thousands going from Ash Way to Shoreline, or Federal Way to Fife. It just doesn’t work that way, anywhere.
The system that was built for Seattle does not fit Seattle, and for cities where it does fit reasonably well (Dallas/Fort Worth) it has failed, miserably. It is much better to build the subway serving the heart of the city (with good suburban termini and good bus interfaces) along with good express bus and commuter rail. That would be a much better system for both people in the city and the surrounding suburbs/cities.
AJ: I don’t view the PSRC “growth center” designation as all that significant. There isn’t a density promised. There isn’t any sort of parking pricing required. It’s a very suburban definition of “growth”.
AJ/Ross: I’m talking about a very ambitious target driven by forecasted boardings — and an adopted action strategy to get there. It’s not just land use; it’s urban design and parking policy too. A developer can build a tall apartment building or office building a block from a station — but if that station platform is hard to walk to and parking is plentiful and free, it will attract significantly fewer riders.
Most stations on Link 1 were drawing 2,000 to 3,000 boardings on a weekday in 2019 and many of those are modest street-level stations. I’d be fine if a street-level station required a realistic action plan for 3,000 to 4,000 boardings (6,000 to 8,000 total station demand) and it went up from there — like 5,000 to 7,000 boardings for each aerial station and 9,000 to 11,000 boardings for each subway station. Those are just example numbers, but I really believe that the region should be playing bigger hard-ball on station area planning by setting targets or requirements like these.
Then, if a community can’t make it work, that’s the end station for the “spine”. If Federal Way or unincorporated south Snohomish County or even Avalon or Smith Cove can’t pencil out, it shouldn’t go further. I think that the spine should be defined by usage more than political geography — and I suspect you’d both agree.
Do you ever notice that ST will say how many riders will use a new segment for ST3 projects, but they never disclose how many new boardings they expect at each station?
Ross, please give me Reference One on anybody who’s ever demanded a subway between Everett and Tacoma.
Unless KIRO traffic is News as Fake as Dori Monson, between those cities, huge amount of potential transit patronage is already literally “there” every rush hour, elevated, cut & covered if not bored, trenched, and at-grade.
Aboard everything from beat-up 1990 Ford SUV’s to Harley to Tesla to Kenworth, sharing one thing in common: Top speed of five miles an hour. Also facing fact that since average car can’t be articulated or coupled, every extra mph in speed has to make the “train” need longer road-space.
Coupled train, distance between couplers just about zero inches. Since coupled buses get progressively more expensive due to mechanism complexity, where vast majority of a ten car train carries passengers, bus following distance carries no load but dirty air.
By same logic I’m seeing out of the authorship in these pages, could be argued that our whole Federal Interstate Highway Program was just Captain Eisenhower panicking that without huge military roads fast when Pearl Harbor got erased, all those concentration camps in California would be too full of English and German Americans to lock up the Japanese the Rising Sun already had at hard labor back home.
Too bad links to “Freeway Conversion to Rail” presently tend Chinese instead of USA. But general message still holds. These won’t be our Grandfathers’, let alone Grandmother’s pillars, cuts, bores, and bridges.
And end-of-line extensions? Buildable any time, and if, we want. Neither Rush nor Fear about it. Not sure how human adrenalin system works, but strong evidence being scared is addictive.
Otherwise it’s more of a colon ;-)
Ross, you are correct, but the Washington State Legislature would never allow Seattle to get that much better than the surrounding areas. It just wouldn’t. The city itself is relatively speaking too small to outvote the suburbs. The level of envy of Seattle — certainly masked by loads of bravado by suburbanites who claim to “prefer” the SFH lifestyle — is immense.
The Legislature has shown its peevish control-freakery — even Democratic members — with regards to the city. A purely in-city system would never have been built.
I always find it funny when someone points to the PSRC process and the GMA updates to try to make a point. The PSRC does some good things, especially in the data collection area, but overall it’s just another political entity that has no real teeth outside the doling out of some limited federal funds*. The cities and counties in the state throw some projections together every required update period to comply with the GMA mandates in the component areas and the PSRC puts their stamp of approval on them. Fine. But what happens when those projections and expectations, whether it be in housing, transportation, employment, etc. don’t pan out? Not much really. There are few consequences and the misses are quickly forgotten once the next update is in progress.
A couple of years ago, former State Senator Guy Palumbo (D- LD1) tried to address the missing “teeth” issue of the state’s GMA update process with some legislation (SB 6186) but it failed to advance.
The following is an excerpt of a write-up about that piece of state legislation:
“If passed, SB 6186 would require counties to complete and review an annual growth monitoring report, currently a voluntary option under GMA. A public hearing would also be required. If by the fourth year the county discovers growth in a subarea is 65 percent or more of its projected growth within the eight-year timeframe, then the county, regional transportation planning authority and any relevant transit authority must revise their planning documents, which among other things ultimately impact where and how federal transportations grants are allocated by the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC).
“However, how the counties do that would be left to the local lawmakers, Palumbo said.
“Among other issues, Palumbo said: “One of the problems I see with GMA is there’s no teeth. At no point in time is there any mechanism in GMA that makes, for example, a county or the Puget Sound Regional Council or transit agency look at what’s happening on the ground and say ‘You know what, we didn’t plan for this and there’s no infrastructure there to support this growth. Let’s do something different.” ”
The overall GMA update process has changed little over the last decade as well, despite glaring misses around the region, e.g. growth here in the unincorporated area of SW SnoCo where I happen to live. I just don’t see a lot of value added by the PSRC involvement in the GMA update process. I’ve often wondered if this sort of work couldn’t be better managed at the state level, at the OFM for instance.
*Fun story. Several years ago Snohomish County Public Works was finally able to complete a long overdue road improvement project that impacted my own property by securing some federal funds through the competitive county-wide process controlled by the PSRC. It wasn’t big money, some $6+ million if I’m not mistaken, but the county just didn’t have the funds itself at the time and the project was years overdue. The county originally applied for a direct federal grant pushing a favorable environmental impact narrative (the gist being moving traffic along this corridor quicker, but not increasing capacity) in its application but ultimately was unsuccessful in securing the needed grant money. They next turned to the pool of federal funds allocated to the PSRC that particular cycle but it too proved fruitless. They ended up as an alternate and surprisingly were moved up the list when two of the higher rated projects dropped out. The funny part of this story is that the county totally changed their narrative and the road improvement suddenly became ALL ABOUT CAPACITY in that application. I actually contacted the PSRC about that (and submitted my concerns in the comment period) but it was all academic by that point.
Would you be so kind to point at the study which indicates suburban style living preference is in fact purely envy of an urban lifestyle? It sounds like a really interesting study and I would love to learn more, so that next time such comments are made by suburbia dwellers, we can in fact prove their hypocrisy.
Thanks a lot in advance!
The purpose of the Spine is to connect the five largest cities: Seattle, Everett, Tacoma, Bellevue, and Redmond, and the cities between them (particularly (Lynnwood and Federal Way). The reason is people experience the freeway congestion between them and want an alternative.
At the same time, ST committed to serving major Seattle neighborhoods: the U-District, Capitol Hill, Rainier Valley, etc. It chose to build a hybrid network rather than two distinct levels, believing it would cost less.
Its biggest follow was choosing light rail technology, which is more appropriate to the city network than the larger network. It chose light rail because it’s surface-compatible. 95% of existing US light rail was surface-running to save costs, and ST envisioned 50-75% surface. That died when people saw Rainier Valley’s impacts, low speed, and collisions, but the technology decision had already been made. Because it was predicted to be at least half surface, the design spec was 55 mph even though light rail can go faster. So ST backed into a limited mode and design for its vision.
Nice snark, AM. Very subtle. I gather you are one of those envious suburbanites?
@Tom Terrific no, I am not, having lived in a city (Seattle, the last 15 years or so, larger ones before that) pretty much my entire life. I certainly appreciate the ability to walk to stores, for example, which is hard to do in true suburbia (arguably it’s possible in places like Bellevue or Kirkland, at least to a point, but it’s definitely much more of a pain even in the more urban parts of Bellevue, and probably impossible in, say, Somerset).
I do, however, wonder about making baseless accusations, including the sarcasm which I was genuinely not guilty of. I honestly think that seeing such a study would be extremely enlightening, and assuming you were genuine in your own comment, I would hope you would feel the same, correct?
Wish you all the best.
I sure wish my property taxes reflected how sucky it is living in Boonievue.
Regardless of what people say about preferring suburbia, they behave as if they prefer urban centers because the cost per square foot is higher there. There are many neighborhoods but only one downtown Seattle, one Space Needle, and one Capitol Hill, and people pay a premium to live there in a smaller house/apartment than they could get for the same price in the exurbs between Kent and Maple Valley. And land in downtown Renton, Southcenter, and the Kent industrial valley is so cheap that companies can throw away half of it on surface parking lots, one-story big-box stores, and acres of grass around their industrial buildings.
Price premium shows that, on average, people prefer urban living, though obviosuly you can find individuals with wildly difference preferences. However, the price premium is also often a reflection of travel time to job centers, so as parts of the region grow different and new rail lines change travel times, prices will shift.
But to answer the snark, here is a study: https://www.citylab.com/life/2019/03/identity-urban-suburban-rural-values-demographics-data/584587/ … the gist is people prefer the urban form (amenities, access to jobs, etc.), but also prefer lower prices and better schools, both of which tend to occur in suburbs.
I don’t get the criticism of the PSRC as “political.” Critiquing the GMA is totally fair – no law is perfect & there is surely room for improvement. But land use and public infrastructure are inherently political decisions. Trying to ‘take the politicians out of it’ and drive policy through technical criteria is just politics through a different means. It’s important to not fall in the trap of “my policy is good policies, but alternative policies are just politics.” You can articulate how a policy will have a better outcome, but ultimately what matters is the political consensus, and I think our regional bodies do a good job of projecting that consensus by being staffed by elected politicians, not experts.
Regardless of what people say about preferring a vegetarian diet, they behave as if they prefer meat because the cost per pound is higher.
The purpose of the Spine is to connect the five largest cities: Seattle, Everett, Tacoma, Bellevue, and Redmond, and the cities between them (particularly (Lynnwood and Federal Way). The reason is people experience the freeway congestion between them and want an alternative.
At the same time, ST committed to serving major Seattle neighborhoods: the U-District, Capitol Hill, Rainier Valley, etc. It chose to build a hybrid network rather than two distinct levels, believing it would cost less.
Its biggest follow was choosing light rail technology, which is more appropriate to the city network than the larger network.
I assume you meant “failure”, not “follow”, in which case, I agree with all of your points.
First of all, focusing transit efforts on freeway congestion is a bad idea. We tend to exaggerate the slow speed. A bus slogging along at 20 MPH is terrible, yet that same bus is going much faster than the average car on most city streets, even in the middle of the day. But we tend to focus on the former, because psychologically it is terrible. You feel like you *deserve* to be going faster, because you are on the freeway. But it doesn’t matter. What matters is how long it takes you to go from one place to another. Likewise, a crowded freeway suggests a lot of demand. But a subway system following the same pathway may do very little in terms of capturing that demand.
Freeways and subways do not function the same way — and failing to understand that is a huge mistake. This is not intuitive. It took me a long time to realize that. But the more I listened and the more I read, the more I realized there is an important distinction. I can’t emphasize this enough.
Another issue is that congestion tends to occur primarily during rush hour. This is part of a greater problem — the people in charge of transit systems tend to work 9 to 5, so they focus on 9 to 5 service. Yet transit ridership is spread out throughout the day.
But there is nothing wrong with trying to connect those cities. That is a very laudable goal. There are all sorts of problems that occur at the border between different transit agencies. Having an agency address those concerns is great. The problem — as you wrote — is using brand new light rail as the means to connect them. That is way too expensive for the demand. There should be a combination of express bus service and commuter rail. It is much cheaper, and often, much better for those making the trip — especially if the heart of the city (Seattle) has a good subway system.
I go back to the issue of freeways. What we are building is not that rare in the United States, but practically unheard of in other countries. It doesn’t work — you never get the kind of ridership and time savings that you want. The U. S. lags the world when it comes to transit, so when we do something different, it is usually a mistake, and projects like this are a mistake. So why, then, do Americans keep making that mistake? My guess is because we are so used to driving, and so focused on freeways. Freeways are magnificent things. We write songs about freeways — really good songs. They are an amazing advancement in transportation. It is no wonder that folks here — having grown up with them, or having seen them dramatically cut the time it takes to get from one place to another — see public transit in the same light. The “spine” is nothing more than an attempt to mimic I-5 from Tacoma to Everett. Sounds great. Except mass transit doesn’t work that way.
“Regardless of what people say about preferring a vegetarian diet, they behave as if they prefer meat because the cost per pound is higher.”
Meat costs more because it contains vegetables. The rancher has to grow or buy the grass or corn ro feed the cows, and they also require much more water and management. In contrast you can just buy the corn or wheat and skip the more-expensive layers.
“Freeways and subways do not function the same way”
I disagree. You’re focusing on where the freeway exits are and its large no-man’s-land footprint, not what role freeways play in mobility. People use freeways because they’re the fastest way around (or are perceived to be), and the biggest traffic concentrations on city streets are at freeway entrances because so many people are getting onto the freeway.
In New York many people find the subway the fastest way to get around and prefer it over other transportation alternatives for that reason. In Moscow I’ve seen some stations where you get to the top and thirty people are waiting to meet somebody coming by train, and when they go out to a club they gather at one of the Ring Line stations that everybody can get to. Subways are faster because they stop only at stations, the stations are further apart than bus stops, and the line is grade-separated or at least has some priority. Subway stations are like freeway exits, and people flock to subways like they flock to freeways.
The problems with bad subways are partly similar to the problems of bad freeways. The best subway is underground where it doesn’t interfere with the retail/residential/recreational activities on the surface. Its interface is an unobtrsive doorway and room in a larger building. The best freeways would be underground for the same reason. One difference between a subway and a freeway is that a subway can have a pedestrian-friendly entrance, while a freeway entrance needs to be large enough for lots of cars to enter it and accelerate to freeway speed.
So it’s not possible to have a pedestrian-friendly freeway entrance, so they have to be located in out-of-the-way places to avoid harming the neighborhood centers. Except the brilliant designers in the 20th century put them right in city centers near or on Main Streets, and drove the pedestrians away.
A better design is permeable arterials like Aurora or San Francisco’s Mission Street that integrate with the pedestrian district better. You can say those are “not freeways”, but they fulfill the same function too. They’re faster than the residential streets around them, most of the businesses are on them, and the most convenient living spaces are on them. Again like a subway.
“The level of envy of Seattle — certainly masked by loads of bravado by suburbanites who claim to “prefer” the SFH lifestyle — is immense.”
It’s not envy in the sense they want to be like Seattle. That’s what they don’t want: they see density and pedestrian scale as obsolete models that normal people don’t want. Although they’ve learned to appreciate some density as long as it’s contained in a small downtown and has high parking minimums.  What they resent is that they imagine Seattle is getting disproportionate goodies. They see the downtown tunnel and Ballard-WS lines and say, “Hey, Seattle is getting more than its share”, ignoring the fact that Seattle has a higher population and more willingness to use transit, and the downtown convergence of three lines is the core of the network that makes the rest of the network work better. (Because it facilitates going from Northgate to Beacon Hill or Bellevue to SeaTac or Northgate to Bellevue as much as it facilitates going downtown.) So they think Seattle’s density is unnecessary and undesirable, so of course it doesn’t need more transit than the suburbs.
 Parking minimums. That’s what Los Angeles has citywide, and it’s why nowhere in LA is as dense or pedestrian-friendly as Manhattan or San Francisco. The parking garages push things apart and displace the storefronts and apartments that could otherwise have been there, thus imposing a medium-density ceiling. And garages require large busy entrances and street accommodations, which push things apart further. That’s why the densest parts of Bellevue are like LA. The same thing will doubtless happen in the Spring District, Totem Lake, Lynnwood, and Federal Way.
Your assertions about suburban voters’ motivations are very informative. They do not, however, align with my observations (admittedly biased from family). Generally, what I hear from them is that they do not perceive value (to them) from some of the investments which they are forced to join. The key word here, IMHO, is “perceive”.
In academia, we have a saying that no peer review comment is wrong; what can very well be wrong is their understanding of the submitted paper, and therefore the onus is on us, as the paper writers, to explain in a way that cannot allow for misinterpretation. I think that we, as transit/density advocates, could also benefit from approaching the problem in that way.
The story gets a bit more complicated, because of course no single person is a fully rational actor (that is true of suburban voters as well as us density advocates). Therefore, our communication must also take these unconscious (or conscious, for that matter, biases) into account. However, I have found that presenting the issues in a way that focuses on benefits to them can often get through in a way that more purely-emotional arguments do not.
If referring to my request, once again, it was not snark.
Thank you also for the link, it is interesting, even though it does not answer my question explicitly (that is, support or refute the assertion about envy). It does, however, I think, indirectly answer it to an extent. My current thinking is that if one lives in the suburbs because they were priced out of the city (as many people do), then they will envy the city-dwellers for what they wish they would still have (such as access to amenities), and perhaps a subset of them will vote in a way that acts upon this envy. Looking at the study, I would imagine that this contingent is relatively small (I think about 50% of the suburbia dwellers had lived in cities before; a subset of these would still wish for those amenities, and a subset would vote in a punitive fashion, so say about 20% overall?) Thus, painting all suburbia dwellers with this label seems, well, wrong. However, painting some of them with it is probably correct, and even 20% is a sufficiently large number to skew elections, as we have seen with I-976 recently, as an example.
This, incidentally, is what I referred to earlier when I mentioned that none of us are fully rational actors at all times, and why I strive to drive the discussion towards a set of interactions where we can act less based on rhetoric and more based on statistics. But this is my own, conscious bias as a wanna-be statistician of sorts :)
Thanks again for the link.
That’s part of it; many people are only interested in things in their subarea or city, and won’t vote for something that doesn’t have a substantial project in their city. Where “substantial” means light rail or commuter rail, and Stride or anything less just barely registers. (Many of them think, “I wouldn’t ride those.”) Stride has gotten some support because people realize light rail is unrealistic on 405 or 522, or at least not for several decades. But what they really want is light rail to downtown Seattle. They see Seattle getting four corridors to downtown and think, “But wait, I don’t even have one.”
I’d say that phenomenon overlaps with mine but it’s not the same. And maybe I should give it higher weight than I have, because I’ve certainly seen it several times.
Can you elaborate on your ideas with more concrete examples? I get lost in the abstractions.
“if one lives in the suburbs because they were priced out of the city (as many people do), then they will envy the city-dwellers”
Christopher Leinberger has studied the numbers of those who live in urban areas and want to live in urban areas. His conclusion is that 33% want to live in urban neighborhoods (I interpret that as Fremont/Capitol Hill or denser), 33% want to live in low-density suburbia (e.g., Renton or Covington), and 33% are equally satisfied either way. Bur the urban housing we’ve built (as of 2007, national average) is only 20% if I recall. That means 13% of the population are involuntarily living in lower density/walkability than they want. And 66% of the population would at least be satisfied with an urban/walkable neighborhood if we shifted all or most development to that.
Seattle and Pugetopolis in 2020 have achieved more urbanism than that, but it’s still much less than the number of people who want it. That’s what’s driving up land prices and rents in the 30% of Seattle that allows multifamily housing, and displacing thousands of lower-income people involuntarily to South King County and Pierce County.
What I see is that my extended family who live in suburban Sno Co (e.g. Brier/Lynnwood or up near Everett) often complain about paying high car tabs and being part of the ST district even though they don’t work in Seattle or work in locations where it would be inconvenient to take transit (e.g. 2nd shift at a large airplane manufacturer, or sales at some large telco). My usual argument is that they benefit from public transit even if they don’t personally take it, because traffic will still be reduced in their area and therefore they can drive more easily to where they need to go, or they can park more easily at their employers. Stuff like that. I admit that it is harder to argue for benefits of ST because these are people in their late 50s or early 60s, and by the time ST makes a meaningful impact in their area… you see what I mean. But by trying to show demonstrable benefits (like, traffic reductions with increased transit usage), they seem to at least get the point rather than just saying to them “no, vote for transit so people in Seattle can go places easier”, which tends to raise their hackles, or calling them urban enviers, which would just piss them off and TBH probably isn’t true at all (they’re all quite fond of their big yards, for better or worse). It’s a small thing, mostly just in “how” to bring up subjects and “how” to phrase them, rather than “what” the subjects are, if that makes sense.
I’m more pessimistic about ridership returning in two years but it may in 15 years. Here is why:
1. Many companies have flirted with work-at-home and more are now suddenly more accepting of it. It’s been steadily growing in popularity. This includes more who only occasionally work from home than who work full-time from home. Even if all those workers come back into downtowns, more will be working at home at least one or two days a week. In the aggregate, that could structurally take 15-40 percent of daily ridership away.
2. Many of the newer jobs in office buildings are not the jobs like those from 20 years ago. There are fewer clerks, typists, bookkeepers and similar on-site support staff to manage and process paper.
3. The retail sector has particularly been decimated. Those employees almost always required working on-site.
4. Residential decisions will increasingly avoid small apartments. Adults who can afford it will now ask “Can I be comfortably confined in this space?” Downtown residency will not be as desirable as we thought — especially for those who don’t need to go to the office every day.
5. Moving forward, social distancing will be a bigger subliminal concern when using transit. The concept of “capacity” and “crowding” will change in many people’s minds.
6. Many look at the awful loss of life in New York City right now, and that fear will create an “anti-Manhattanizaion” perspective when choosing jobs and housing. Fear of the unknown can be more powerful than reality and that level of density will frankly scare many of us going forward.
To me, the great irony is that by having long, frequent, high-capacity, decently-fast light rail transit lines there can be less Downtown “centrality“ and peak-hour “concentration” than we are used to and still have productive transit service. We can have a very long string of a few dozen mixed-use villages. What’s happening in the Spring District or Othello or Downtown Redmond or Northgate will be repeated at at least have of the upcoming Link stops. Our networks have historically been very peak-period, Downtown focused and that’s going to be less required. Then, I think that the question becomes what kinds of “middle-ground” village urbanization —especially outside of the City of Seattle — will evolve, and what transit standards of cleanliness and crowding and frequency will result to serve that. I envision more plazas and less narrow hallways and passageways. I envision more units with outdoor space and fewer confining, dark boxes in tall buildings.
I just wanted to add one point to your thoughtful discussion above. Health care occupations is one area where employment is expected (by the BLS, university studies, industry think tanks, etc.*) to outpace most other industry sectors by a significant factor due largely to the aging of the boomer generation and medical advancements. The great majority of these jobs will require the health care worker to travel to a particular location such as a hospital, clinic, long-term care facility, etc. on a regular basis. Health care facilities of various types will also increase in number, so all of the non-medical occupation support staffing that’s required to operate such locations will also increase and, thus, most of these individuals will also be regularly commuting to these job sites.
*One source, admittedly a bit dated:
Good point about health care!
How many hospitals and medical centers benefit from ST2 or ST3? Overlake and Kaiser Bellevue are the only ones I see. (Did I miss others?)
Of course, ST leaders showed little interest in directly connecting First Hill — even to the point of declaring it “inconsistent” with ST3 (reversing Sound Move’s commitment to serve it)!
There are still solutions to connecting many medical centers to our evolving giant light-rail system by building automated “sideways elevators“ — people-movers, funiculars, inclined elevators — but the leaders haven’t seemed to care about looking into that!
Al, that’s what I’ve been meaning when I use the term “string of pearls”. And it’s why South King blew it badly by running Link alongside I-5 with just two stations between the airport area (Angle Lake is “south airport station”) and downtown Federal Way. But that ship has sailed so there will be only two activity centers — Midway and Federal Way downtown — with two minor freeway-side stations at 272nd and 348th. ST also wasted the potential between Rainier Beach and TIBS.
“Our networks have historically been very peak-period, Downtown focused and that’s going to be less required”
UW and Microsoft have long chipped away at it, both by not being downtown and by having a later peak. The Spring District will be another center. Companies may adopt more diverse and flexible schedules as an alternative to full telecommuting, to increase social distancing at the office and shrink office-space requirements. More and more companies are adopting “core hours” like 10am-2pm when everybody is expected to be there for meetings and collaboration, and they can set the rest of their 8-hour shifts around that according to their individual situation.
“Of course, ST leaders showed little interest in directly connecting First Hill…”
ST’s deliberate blindspot to serving the First Hill area with all of its medical facilities and density is nothing short of the agency’s top management and board oversight malfeasance. And that’s not hyperbole.
1. Many companies have flirted with work-at-home and more are now suddenly more accepting of it.
Because they are forced to! That is basically like saying “restaurants have been flirting with a takeout model, and are now accepting of it”. It is the only choice they have. Brewpubs are selling growlers and crowlers because that is the only thing they can sell. Places like Elliot Bay, that have built enormous restaurants are selling only a handful of takeout items on the front porch. They are barely surviving, and when this is over, will probably never go back to selling takeout. Small breweries will go back to selling kegs, and operating pubs. Don’t expect everyone to abandon the bars for pickup growlers once this over.
Likewise, don’t expect downtown real estate to be abandoned. Before the pandemic, it was by far the most expensive office space in Washington State. Some businesses decided to move to cheaper areas (in the suburbs, or satellite cities). If there is a reduction in office space demand, things will move in reverse. Places like Factoria and Eastlake will be empty long before downtown Seattle.
Consider Amazon. It is one of the most technologically advanced companies in the world. Yet they have pursued additional office space not only in Seattle, but around the world. Why? Why didn’t they just have everyone work from home?
Or how about Microsoft. They bought out Skype years ago. Again, they still have lots of office space on the East Side. Why?
Because most workers don’t want to work from home. Most companies prefer it if their employees work face to face. That hasn’t changed. Nothing has changed, except some companies have been forcing their workers to work from home.
But not all of them. A lot of workers have been simply laid off, or furloughed. White collar commuting is a smaller percentage of transit use than you imagine. White collar workers who can work from home are a smaller percentage than you imagine. You are talking about a very small subset of workers, most of whom will go back to working in the office once this is all done.
3. The retail sector has particularly been decimated. Those employees almost always required working on-site.
Yes, and this was happening before the pandemic. But the trend was towards stratification. Some malls were dying, others were thriving. Likewise, downtown Seattle was doing fine. There are some additional trends, like companies selling their own stuff (Patagonia, Eddie Bauer, etc.) but in terms of employment, that doesn’t matter. I also wouldn’t dismiss traditional retail. The giant Nordstrom store in Manhattan is a good idea, it just had bad timing.
Of course this recession could last a long time (especially if leaders behave stupidly, like they did last time). But Seattle will likely rebound very quickly. Tech companies are doing OK, and Amazon is actually thriving.
Manufacturing is likely to take a bigger hit. Someone like Patagonia knows that they can sell more sweaters if someone can walk into a store, and talk to a person about the various options, and try them on. In contrast, when an airline buys an airplane, they don’t care how it was made. The long term trend is more and more automation in manufacturing — that will continue, at the same time demand (for planes and automobiles) is likely to go way down. That is bad for Everett, Renton and the industrial Midwest, but it won’t be especially bad for Seattle and the East Side.
Moving forward, social distancing will be a bigger subliminal concern for [transit, individual apartments and cities in general]
I don’t buy that. That wasn’t the case in Asia, even though they were hit very had by the SARS virus. There will still be people who want to live in smaller places, and the city will still have to pass laws preventing them from doing so. At the same, though, you can bet that some NIMBY will of course use that as an argument at some public meeting somewhere (“We can’t have apartments or townhouses in this neighborhood because we might get another pandemic”). As if you would rather be in Detroit or Baton Rouge during this pandemic rather than Seoul or San Fransisco.
“Peak downtown Seattle and Bellevue employment likely is behind us.” Did Amazon call and tell you they are putting their global operations team somewhere else?
Anon, especially if boarding is assisted by trained personnel, not only do Link coaches have a lot more room than either buses or rush hour sidewalks for Social Spacing, but their drivers have far more isolation on duty than most other people in the city.
Can you link any proof otherwise? Likely both personal and irrelevant, but through STB, Link, and life, rule that’s always worked for me: My own “tag” for anonymous spite would be “Scared and Proud Of It.”
“Time to reevaluate …” It’s not time to reevaluate anything yet. We need to wait for the dust to settle.
That gets an A by the Sam Comment Review Board. Congratulations, Sam. AOur previous trends have been shaken up beyond recognition. We’ll have to wait until they solidify again like tea leaves and see what form they take. All we can do is mention the most common factors and guess their probabilities. How transit evolves depends in large part on how the tech economy evolves, whether small businesses survive, and whether people can afford to buy things.
Another way to report badly parked bikeshares. If able bodied, you could just, you know, move it.
We could. We could also have some expectation of basic personal responsibility for the users and corporate responsibility for the for profit corporations that own the bikes.
Also, pigs could fly.
It would be easier to move a badly parked bike if they gave you a 30-second grace period so you could unlock a bike to move it a few feet, without needing to pay for a ride or lift the weight of the bike. Unfortunately, of course, they don’t.
It’s interesting that the article on badly parked bikes only included one picture of a badly parked bike. Lazy journalism, or not really a big problem?
It’s a massive problem if you use a wheelchair or walker and can’t move the bike yourself (as is frequently the case).
Bikes are ALWAYS blocking the sidewalk in front of the Key Bank by the Fremont Bridge. It drives me crazy.
I’m more bothered by bicyclists ignoring social distancing when riding on paths and trails with pedestrians on them these days. They often expect pedestrians to step off the trail or path for them. Most ride way too close and don’t use bells or a shout when they are approaching. I think bicyclists need to be banned from any path or trail less than eight feet wide for awhile, as well as be prosecuted for not providing any warnings.
People are scared enough when outside as it is. Fearing a rogue, contagious bicyclist surprising them shouldn’t have to be a concern.
My pet peeves is people riding bikes in the middle of trail (or side by side with another person) making it impossible to pass them without violating social distancing.
” I think bicyclists need to be banned from any path or trail less than eight feet wide for awhile, ”
Sometimes, there’s just no viable alternative. I was crossing the Montlake bridge today, for example. Are you saying that all cyclists should detour to the university bridge instead?
The obvious solution for the ship canal bridge sidewalks is to take a car lane and convert it to an on street bike lane. There are ways to deal with the grating. They did it for the Emerald City ride, for example.
Barring that, another option is to make the bridge sidewalks one way to minimize passing on the narrow sidewalk. But, that’s probably unenforceable.
There are alternatives:
1. Walk your bike across the bridge. If pedestrians have to be inconvenienced to keep social distancing, there’s nothing wrong with making a bicyclist do it.
2. Ride a short distance in a traffic lane. Traffic is lighter, ya’ know!
I’d take the lane if it weren’t for the metal grating. I don’t want to fall over.
The problem is that almost all the cyclists you see are amateurs, probably biking for the first time in years, maybe never.
As a bike commuter, I typically see small doses of it when the weather starts being consistently nice, but nothing like the past week during when the trails are packed.
They’re not going to ban bikes, because that would be admitting the trails are too crowded and result in all urban trails being shut down.
Our only hope is that people learn cycling etiquette quickly.
Thanks, Erica, for the HUFFPOST article, and a lot more to Nathan Vass, for taking care of the Route 7 all these years. Maybe old-world thing, like Chicago, affection for long wheelbase, accordion hinge, and double wire.
But had things gone differently, would probably have finished my days, driving at least, between Seattle and Prentice Street. If it’s not in your book, should be a sequel, but my fellow union members on the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel Employee Advisory Group and I were surprise-detailed one day.
To listen while the Project’s Chief Engineer, Vladimir Khazak, laid down late-level construction drawings for wiring the big MAN electric artics on the Route 7 through the Tunnel, and then across I-5 to Rainier and Dearborn to trail-in all the way to Prentice Street. Twelve million dollars? That’s not Crowdsource it’s Pocketchange!
This afternoon- too bad Comment’s got a lot darker theme.
“I was primarily transporting people who were just riding back and forth. I just feel awful for them — they’ve been thrown out on the street and their options are so minimal.” But: “Once that population has the virus, you’ve just lost the whole city.”
Nathan, I’m not sure how “That population” would’ve transferred into 1933 German, but the Holocaust didn’t get Auschwitz ’til many years later. Real start was a van service for the disabled and otherwise unfit. Signature No-Budget per Nazi MO. Vacuum-cleaner hoses from the exhaust pipe in. Point being non-unintentional decision to separate problem groups of people from the Human Race, as a real fast cure for their presence.
Heidi and Nathan, rendering this posting’s whole discussion as politically [Topical] as all [HELL]! With $’s till the key falls off in Key West. As a union-member, Nathan, when is ATU Local 587 going to start filling our representatives’ offices at every level (“Presence” can be “Virtual”) demanding action to save lives by the thousands by helping these people?
By proximity, could (virtual) Orange-Line discussion be expanded to include Western State Mental Hospital? Still haven’t heard when it’ll get its accreditation back. Let alone protect its staff from similar danger facing transit drivers. For real, baby-stepping, Starters.
You wanna talk Depressionary World War ll comparisons, tell me why anything my former fellow drivers, and present passengers are needing, is not in the Defense Budget! Pearl Harbor only killed 2,000. 9-11, what 3,000? And we’re just starting to count.
My age and career-trajectory, real problem-dynamic causing real aggravation around civil service. Advice-wise, your last day at work is your last day on Earth. So best I can do is to plead with people still on duty for accurate accounts of events and experience. And STB, to print it.
As the Tunnel and its bus service took shape in the 1980’s, “trains-in-the-tunnel” faced considerable union resistance over false charge of wilfully eliminating bus service.
But when our committee-members and other transit employees spoke regularly to The Metro Council at Public Comment, we got many nods and thumbs-up’s from staff members who felt well-served by our contractual protection.
So first priority now. Anybody who threatens a whistleblower, feed ’em a whole box of Crackerjacks(tm) whistle and all.
Looks like the W Seattle bridge is done. WSDOT, SDOT and ST need to team up on a replacement that includes light rail immediately.
Durkin’s comments on mitigation strategies were quite discouraging. She really doesn’t understand transportation…
Is there some news that points to the bridge needing to be torn down? I wouldn’t be shocked if it was an engineering FUBAR but I haven’t heard anything about why the cracks appeared (construction defect, design flaw, seismic shift, etc). This bridge doesn’t strike me as bleeding edge technology and we’re told bridges are designed with a minimum 70 year life expectancy. The floating train tracks across Lk Washington, now that I don’t expect to last 20 years after opening.
FWIW, if the W SEA bridge has failed what does that say for a high level Link crossing of the ship canal?
Personal bias, I think we should go back to building bridge superstructures from steel instead of relying so much on “reinforced” concrete cement.
Check out the West Seattle Blog, lots of information regarding the West Seattle Bridge there.
They haven’t come out officially and said it’s going to be torn down, but they sure hinted at it several times and said that they may not be able to fix it, and if they can at best the fix would add 10 more years to the life of the bridge so if you read between the lines it’s going to be needing replace.
SDOT also released all of the engineering reports from the past 7 years, if you really want to know the details on why it’s failing and what they have found it’s a good read. They have some theories but they are not 100% sure on what is causing the cracks, basically one of the piers is bulging which is putting additional stress on the bridge, the added weight of the bridge itself, The earthquake are all contributors to it cracking.,
Bottom line, the bridge can barely support it’s own weight (80% of the bridge’s dead weight is the bridge itself)
I am kinda surprised this story didn’t make the news round up as this is going to be a major transportation issue in West Seattle and surrounding areas, much more so then the viaduct closer.
The slidedeck focused on a failed lateral bearing on pier 18. While they don’t say its the cause of the cracks. Its a serious enough failure that they’re already getting a contractor setup to shore up and replace the bearing.
Detroit’s buses ($). No social distancing, no standees allowed (sporadically enforced), front third of the bus blocked off, drivers have masks. Supposedly the the transit agency will provide masks for passengers too but they have yet to be seen. The article focuses on Route 17, Eight Mile Road.
Tonight’s latest on the West Seattle Bridge confirms my own wider assessment as to how many of our problems aren’t our present ACTING President’s fault. (What he calls his whole Cabinet.)
Have always thought he could be a lot more symptom than pathogen. Leaving Seattle to face the question of how to reconnect the rest of the city with West Seattle. Thing I’d be checking first is if anything causing the collapse could still be left in the ground- or the plans- when rebuild starts.
Not very worried. 36 years has placed us a long and much better and faster distance ahead in bridging and-or-tunneling. Anybody else think construction schedule should be real good fit for the end of the line that’ll be in Ballard? Could be contractor will give us a “Two-For-One,” say Ballard Library to Fauntleroy.
Trains or buses, for mainline line-haul, prefer the former because you can’t put any seats in the couple hundred feet of dirty airspace between car bumpers at 60 or 70 mph. But have never seen a project like this that couldn’t handle at least three kinds of buses.
Maybe it’s because I used to love eating at La Rustica, just south of Alki Beach. But thought the Beach to Fauntleroy Ferry via Beach Drive SW would make a beautiful trolleybus line. Other end, Route 13 substation might make Magnolia quieter and less smoky.
Thoughts on demolishing the current West Seattle bridge entirely and rebuilding it, with the light rail built into the bridge? The rest of the line can be built later.
Seems like it would save Sound Transit a lot of money, when compared with building a dedicated light rail span. Additionally, the repairs SDOT is proposing making would only extend the life of the bridge 10 years anyway, so that seems like a poor use of money.
Agree. Tear it down. And just send the light rail along the bridge route all the way to the Avalon triangle. No need to spend money detouring through North Delridge.
Some people connecting to link from Westwood Village and White Center, might have some issues with losing a Delridge stop. We’ll get a bigger bang for the buck accommodating that demographic. That being said, I hope we quickly get set on an alignment and fast track the construction of link, with up to date building technology and materials, so we don’t come back to it 10-15 years later to say that the tunnel or bridge is wearing down and needs to be replaced.
There can still be a Delridge stop where Delridge meets Spokane. Obviously it wouldn’t be a very walkable station but it was already looking like they would put the station next to Nucor anyway. There has been too much development in the last 5 years to put the station along Genesee where it was originally planned. There would still be some room to upzone/develop on Pigeon Point and in some of the space where the current West Seattle Bridge is located. If the elevated highway is bulldozed and turned into a lower, multimodal guideway, then there will be more space for development along the north edge of Pigeon Point.
Its the only logical thing to do if a simple repair is either too expensive or to low of return (10 yr lifespan is to low).
I’m sure that there are lots of creative variations on solutions. Mine would be to quickly replace the current bridge with one narrower bridge now, and carefully plan out a second one that includes light rail. The second one could even be a high drawbridge! That way, the public would never again be dependent on a single high bridge there.
The challenge here is time and investment. It takes careful engineering to build a tall permanent bridge. It remains to be seen how much can be saved. Bridges are extremely expensive so even a $100M fix is a good investment.
It’s disruptive but alternative paths for drivers do exist. The bridge was hardly at capacity (which was set by signals in West Seattle and metering lights for I-5). Forcing drivers to go two miles south to cross at First Avenue for two years is aggravating for sure — but how much time does that really add to an auto trip, especially for those to or from places south of Alaska Street? How would that time vary during the day? Could operational changes — as easy as changing signal timings at minor streets to as radical as closing some approaches east of the First Avenue bridge (forcing more use of the South Park Bridge) to free up First Avenue Bridge flow help?
It’s bad — it it could be much worse.
If the bridge needs to be fully replaced, there arguably is no longer a need for a freeway, as we would have Link by the time any bridge is built. The freeway made good sense when the goal was to funnel cars into downtown through SR99, but that’s no longer a priority.
Seems like a better long term option would be a 2nd drawbridge to allow for Spokane street to be 4 car lanes + bike/ped. Some bus lanes for Delridge RR would be nice but probably don’t need the full length, just enough to bypass cars queuing to get onto 99.
From my perspective as a bus rider, West Seattle Bridge was at capacity during the morning rush hours, packed with very slow moving queues of cars not only going to the 99N entry, but I-5. A lot of people who work on the Eastside and parts north of the city and needed to drive to get to those places found the high bridge a very valuable transportation resource. From what I’m reading, the drive times to places like the Eastside going southbound using the 1st ave s bridge have increased dramatically – that has to open up for nautical traffic like the low bridge. Narrow streets in the Highland Park corridor have made for big backups. A lot of pain for a long time.
If they live in West Seattle and work on the eastside, they can just drive south into Burien and then get on 518 which turns into the 405. Easy peasy.
405 in Renton was very slow during rush hour, and it was bumper to bumper between Coal Creek Parkway and downtown Bellevue. I wouldn’t call that a viable alternative route.
When the Ballard bridge is up, riders can just take the 44 to U-link. Easy peasy…
This is the kind of reasoning that gets us, “Hey, let’s just remove I5, no need for a replacement because 405 already exists!”
I’m optimistic that the WS bridge replacement can be of a significantly smaller scale than the current 6-lane bridge, but I also understand that this is a significant impact to many vehicle trips, particularly those not heading into downtown.
Multimodal bridges in West Seattle and Ballard would be wonderful. And coordination between the governments to make it happen. And state grants because this is such a wise and frugal idea. But it sounds too good to be true. This is a region that can’t prioritize an urban-oriented subway, can’r prioritize First Hill, can’t agree on common branding between Stride and Swift, can’t agree on common branding between RapidRide and PT’s single-digit routes, can’t get rid of Metro paoper transfers or extend the ORCA transfer length, can’t get day passes that cost less than $12, can’t make tapin/tapout optional for monthly passholders, etc. At least we have a shared PugetPass; the Bay Area doesn’t even have that.
That’s “three kinds of buses as well as the trains.” Street rail, where-it-fits. Like with South Lake Union to First Avenue past Pike Place Market, and Jackson to Mt. Baker Beach.
And also Trans Kirkland Corridor from Totem Lake to South Kirkland Park and Ride to incline-elevator-to Bellevue Way to Bellevue Transit Center, your car is a rolling bench for tired hikers and bikers. Reserved lanes and signal pre=empt 100%.
MIT Study. Subways and buses are a major disseminator of the coronavirus.
I told ya so.
I guess my nitrile gloves (multiple pairs to prevent cross contamination) and N99 mask the last two times I took transit weren’t overkill. Well worth the stares I got.
While the study concedes that the data “cannot by itself answer question of causation,”
In other words, we don’t really know if transit actually spread the disease, but we can’t rule it out and will publish it so second rate publications like the New York Post will use it to produce inflammatory headlines.
I can believe transit spreads coronavirus. I never used to get sick much but the part few years I’ve gotten sick a few times a year. A couple people have said it’s because I take the bus so much and get it from there. I think they’re right.
However, people who advocate shutting down transit to hunder the spread of coronavirus don’t understand what they’re talking about. They don’t understand how many jobs are essential to keep society functioning and not revert to 1800s deprevation and starvation and lack of medical access. They underestimate how many of those workers are low-wage, don’t have cars, and can’t live near where they work or shop because of the housing distribution and restrictions.
I can reduce my transit use to once a week or less or less because I can work from home and live in an area where I can walk to five supermarkets and three hospitals. Most people in King County can’t do that. In Italy more of them can walk to at least a few things, but not here.
Follow up to the study: https://pedestrianobservations.com/2020/04/15/the-subway-is-probably-not-why-new-york-is-a-disaster-zone/. As you can see, there is very little correspondence between areas that have lots of transit use (major subway lines) and the virus. In fact, it is the opposite. Places that used the subway a lot didn’t get the virus as bad as those areas that have lots of driving.
The authors made a weird conclusion. They didn’t look at overall transit use, but rather, areas where transit use decreased substantially. That happened more in Manhattan than Staten Island, for example. That corresponds to the virus (which hit Staten Island worse than Manhattan). They concluded that a decrease in transit use lead to a decrease in cases, and therefore, transit causes the virus to spread.
There are two obvious flaws with that line of thinking. First is that even after the decrease, transit ridership was much higher in Manhattan. If transit was a major vector for the virus, then you would expect cases to match transit use, regardless of whether transit use is decreasing.
Second, they failed to consider that reduced transit use is simply an indicator behaviour. They were taking it more seriously in Manhattan. At a time when the mayor was out partying, others were scared, and started wearing masks and gloves, washing their hands a lot, and staying home. If you aren’t riding the subway, then you aren’t at the restaurant, the bar or the gym (unlike the mayor). The same could be said for, I don’t know, jewelry purchases. If you are afraid to go to the jewelry shop (because of the virus) then you probably are making other precautions. It isn’t that shopping for jewelry spread the disease in any discernible way, but my guess is purchases dropped in Manhattan faster than they did in Staten Island, the same way that transit use did.
Metro to cut bus service even more.
My question is when Inslee rescinds the stay at home order, will the bus service be restored to close to what it was if not all the way? Some of us will be forced back to the office and will have to use those buses. It will be disastrous for commuters if it isn’t restored, and those crowded buses may well fuel a bit of an upswing in the infection curve.
And starting Monday, light rail trains will run every 30 minutes.
I predict politicians will hold transit hostage, refusing to fully restore it, unless they can increase taxes. They’ll make it sound like they have no other choice. They’ll claim they don’t have the revenue to bring it back to pre-virus levels. To do that, there will have to increase the sales tax, they’ll argue.
I don’t think anyone knows what level of service there will be when the stay at home is lifted and not even Metro or Sound Transit as they don’t know what the demand for service will be. People will be returning to their places of work but many others will not have a job to return too. Some people will continue to work from home either on a full time basis or only certain days as they found out that they don’t have to be at their place of business.
Then you have the financial question and what effect the stay at home has had on their income for operations and will there be enough funds to restore service to what it was before all of this started.
They will start to restore some service but it may some time before it gets back to what it was as there are too many unanswered questions at this time. And there is the possibility that it may not returned to the service before the virus crisis if the funds are not there to do so.
Transit is like so many other businesses who had to either shut down or in the case of restaurants resort to take out and delivery and it is unknown how many of these businesses will be able to reopen.
It is going to be a rough and difficult time when the stay at home ends and we can go back to some resemblance of normalcy and transit will not be excluded from the rough and difficult time.
Bernie, look at your property taxes as an in-house labor-management difference between you and your Olympia branch.
A progressive income tax, meaning not “dangerously socialist” but “based on owner’s ability-to-afford”, would make State Government leave your home alone.
From here on, be sure all your “Reps'” phone numbers are in your “touch-screen.”
Love that you identify subway service to SLU as the most important deliverable in ST3. Underlines that those who want to pivot to Ballard-UW are mistaken, as getting to Ballard proper is rather unimportant compared to the 2nd tunnel serving LQA to ID.
For Chinatown, these short term financial constraints might settle the issue in favor of a cut & cover, as there is no longer room to throw a few hundred million at an ‘equity’ issue.
I think you are right that projecting future air travel is not particularly relevant to the Paine Field alignment. Snohomish wants a vibrant job center beyond just Boeing. A 2nd regional airport would help but certainly isn’t needed to justify the alignment.
SLU became a highrise district overnight and nobody thought enough about the implications of that. The city missed it, Sound Transit missed it, and the urban activists missed it. Paul Allen thought a streetcar was sufficient. The city and Metro thought the 40, 62, and the 70 were sufficient. But there are tens of thousands of workers and residents in a few square blocks, and if the normal fraction of them take transit you need high-capacity transit. When Moscow built its “Moscow-City” highrise district (high-end office/residential/shopping) it made sure to extend a metro line to it. We should have assumed the same in SLU.
First Hill and Belltown are the existing elephants in the room that deserved it too but have always been ignored. Because First Hill is so close to downtown the downtown stations serve it. Not.
When ST3 was being drawn up in 2014 and 2015, the Ballard alternatives were Belltown/Uptown/Interbay or a Queen Anne/Fremont tunnel. Then the Amazon recovery came on full blast and bus capacity melted down and building owners and tenants insisted on high parking ratios. The city spent a third of the new TBD splitting the C and D to get a RapidRide into SLU and connect it to West Seattle.Then it proposed rerouting Ballard Link east to 9th & Denny and Aurora & Harrison-ish where it will serve SLU. In retrospect that was a necessary idea, and everyone should have thought of it sooner. It also tilted the overall balance of the line. “To Ballard” was important, but “to SLU” and more tunnel capacity downtown were more critical.
So if the Ballard line is truncated at Smith Cove where it surfaces, it will still serve the most critical segment. But the D would have to contine, because transferring at Smith Cove is ridiculous because there’s nothing there and both halves of the transfer would be just a mile or two. The minimum distance for a one-seat ride should be Westlake to Campus Parkway I think.
In Chinatown I support the representative alignment, shallow under Fifth Avenue. Fifth is where the all-day pedestrians are and will be. Shallow means people can get into and out of it easier and transfer quicker. Cut-and-cover has disruption for a few years, but that shouldn’t outweigh the decades of having a shallow station on 5th. The businesses talk about losing customers during cut-and-cover construction. They’re forgetting about the increased customers they’ll get for decades if it’s on 5th side and shallow.
Yeah I don’t think a Smith Cove station will allow for much truncation. I think you end up running pretty much all of the existing NW Seattle routes into downtown. The real opportunity to orient the NW Seattle network away from downtown service wouldn’t occur until after the Ballard station opens, hopefully just a few years later.
Can we finally kill the MT 255 truncation at UW? Provide reasonable frequency and span of service to downtown Seattle and stop thinking that frequent service to Link running every 30 minutes is useful to anyone? Or a useful use of transit resource?
I think sound transit should stop link service all together until the summer. In addition to 30 minute weekday frequency, there is talk of hourly service on weekends and ending service at 9pm. At that point, they should just end all service!
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