A recent view of the East Link alignment through Bellevue, courtesy of Bellevue Transportation Department. Heavy civil construction is expected to be substantially complete in Bellevue this Fall, except on the central Bellevue segment where it will complete early in 2021.

This is an open thread.

92 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: East Link in Bellevue”

  1. Nice video. It looks to be a very pleasant trip for a lot of people on that train, as Bellevue lives up to its name (nice view). I’ll probably ride it at least once just for fun.

    1. Good argument for a fixed bridge to Ballard rather than a tunnel through the ship canal, eh?

      1. The area around the Ballard Bridge is decidedly industrial. It has the worst view of all the Ship Canal bridges. I think it’s the bridge where on one site the canal is so narrow it looks like a mere ribbon of water. The only other thing to see is lots of sailboats, if you like that.

      2. Just so it’s a fixed bridge, not a drawbridge. Where it doesn’t slow down main line operations, the natural beauty of Seattle’s settings really should be available to passengers.

        Like with a lot of other potential routes in the region, though, I am curious about what a TBM would find in front of it.

        Mark Dublin

      3. The scenic aspect for riders is not widely discussed for the West Seattle and Ballard studies — and they should be. I’m hoping that the East Link scenic experience provides some pushback against those that have adopted the “subway or bust” mentality for West Seattle and the Ship Canal alternatives. Subways are just not scenic.

      4. The area around the Ballard Bridge is decidedly industrial. It has the worst view of all the Ship Canal bridges.

        What??? You obviously haven’t spent much time around there. To be clear, of the various bridges, it is the worst to cross on foot (and I’ve crossed all that allow that). It has a long approach, unlike Fremont, University, Montlake (or the locks). This means that you spend a long time walking right next to fast moving cars, as you do while crossing Aurora. But unlike Aurora, you aren’t up really high, so it takes longer to get the big views.

        Which is the point. A high bridge means you are up high, which is the only reason that the I-5 and Aurora crossings (while in a vehicle) are nice. If you walk up to Fremont Peak Park, you can see that Ballard is very interesting looking, as is the side of Magnolia. From the Ballard Bridge, you get views of the north side of Queen Anne as well as the Fremont/Phinney Ridge/Ballard area. But of course, the big payoff is the Olympics. Even from the existing bridge you can see them, in all their glory. This is a million dollar view, and would be available for subway fare.

        With all due respect to those in Mercer Island, or anywhere else on East Link, this blows them away, simply because you are quite a bit closer to the closest, most dramatic looking mountain range. It might not seem like it, but it makes a difference if you are 45 miles away, or 55 miles away (which is why Mount Rainier looks a lot more impressive from the V. A. than from Northgate). The view from a high bridge in Ballard would be spectacular, and worth the trip just for that.

      5. Just so it’s a fixed bridge, not a drawbridge. Where it doesn’t slow down main line operations, the natural beauty of Seattle’s settings really should be available to passengers.

        Sigh. Someone should write a post about what a drawbridge would mean in this context, because people are obviously ignorant of the ramifications. Let’s start with the basics.

        1) There will a train going over it. Not a bunch of cars, mixed with a bus or two, but a train. I can’t emphasize this enough, because every time someone has talked about the problems with a drawbridge, they seem to miss this very important point. This is a bridge for a train.

        2) The train will, at most, run every six minutes.

        3) Like the car drawbridge, the bridge does not go up during rush hour.

        4) The bridge will be much higher than the existing bridges. This means it opens less often.

        5) Boats routinely wait for the bridge to open. The bridge operator decides when the boats can go.

        6) It doesn’t take that long to open and close the bridge, or for the boats to go across.

        This means that the bridge will rarely open. It also means that rarely will a train be delayed because of a bridge opening. The operator waits until the train goes by, then opens the bridge. The ship then passes underneath, and the bridge closes. A couple minutes later, the next train arrives.

        A draw bridge won’t slow down “main line” operations in any significant way.

      6. Build a Y-junction in SLU for a future Fremont/Aurora line, and the Ballard Line will never have an issue with (off-peak) frequency too high for a drawbridge.

      7. it doesn’t have that problem now. If you send half the trains to Aurora, the frequency in Ballard and Aurora will be half of the ST3 plan. The ST3 plan is i think 6-8 minutes peak and 10-12 minutes off-peak. Splitting the line would lead to 20-25 mintues off-peak. That’s substandard for a rapid transit line and loses some of the benefit of having it in the first place. Some people will take a frequent line but won’t take an infrequent line because it feels like excessive waiting, no better than a bus, and they can’t fit as many activities into the day. One reason people drive is they can go to more places in a day than they can get to on typical bus routes. So you don’t want to make it worse by having substandard frequency.

        Instead you want to keep the Ballard frequency and add Aurora trains in between, like with Central and East Link. That would hit a 6-minute ceiling in MLK to give adequate time for cross traffic and signal timings. So 6 minutes on each of two lines would require a future creative solution, like sinking the MLK track below street level or disconnecting Aurora from MLK (either through truncation or another southern track, or sending them to West Seattle, which would love to get the additional frequency).

    2. I agree! East Link will be considered the most scenic light rail line segment we have. It may end up considered one of the most scenic in the world. The tunnel sections are minimal, the many vistas (Lake Washington, mountains, skylines, trees/ adjacent landscapes) are dramatic, the few freeway adjacent sections are already intentionally well-landscaped and the aerial sections will look out onto great terrain.

      I expect lots of joy-riding on this line! I’d even think it will become a highly promoted tourist trip — with Bellevue and Redmond Downtowns seeing more visitors.

      We Americans are not used to seeing tourists on public transit. However, tourists from other places often seek out trips on rail. I’m thinking we have a more impactful joyous experience ahead that many of us transit advocates haven’t fully contemplated.

      1. Yeah, I agree here. Downtown Seattle and Sound Transit really shouldn’t be afraid of an Elevated alignment Downtown.

        BTW, In the Transportation Alternate History that I’ve been developing, the Seattle Metro is known the world over as being “the most scenic rapid transit system ever built” and attracts many joy riding tourists because of it. I’ve shown the system before, but I’m currently in the process of another overhaul to better fit the politics of the Timeline it’s in.

      2. Another aerial photo looking east northeast along East Link’s path, starting from the Spring District. You really get a sense of which way commercial Bellevue is going to grow, and how Bellevue and Redmond are going to grow into each other. In the lower left of the pic, you can see a big parking lot with a lot of blue garbage trucks. East Link parallels the right side of that parking lot.


      3. Interesting, I never thought much about the view or tourist potential of East Link. It could certainly be promoted in tour guides.

      4. @Ness, in previous version, I had it during the Great Depression. As I’ve learned more about what I feel is necessary for the scenario to work, I’ve pushed it back to the 1910’s. The Seattle Metro still opens in 1951 though.

      5. “We Americans are not used to seeing tourists on public transit.”

        Maybe only transit fans tour the lines themselves, and admire, e.g., how BART’s northern segment dips between underground, elevated, and an open-air highway interchange. But others must have noticed the ten minutes of nonstop rural mountains between Bay Fair and West Dublin on the Dublin line, with only isolated Castro valley in the middle. I could probably think of others. The next one that comes to mind is in Canada, where Toronto’s Bloor-Danforth line crosses the Don River in the east.

        However, many American subways go to tourist attractions, and tourists, especially backpakers, use them to get there, and notice the views along the way. People going to Berkeley to pilgrim Moe’s Books, Sproul Plaza, and People’s Park will get the aforementioned treat on the northern branch. Although they may wish they could see the Bay too.

        Chicago’s tourist attractions are widely scattered, with each one at a different el station or bus route. Some bus routes seem like their primary purpose is to make an isolated attraction accessible.

      6. Oh there are many scenic transit lines around the US but many have similar vistas. BART is probably the closest that I’ve ridden but lots of those vistas are similar for many miles. Each mile or two of East Link has something uniquely scenic all the way to or from Downtown Redmond.

        On a nice day like today, I could see using a day pass to hop on and off Line 2 (East Link) for an entire Sunday afternoon. Besides the scenic line, there are quaint commercial/ dining districts and a ton of trails and parks that become accessible.

      7. Speaking of scenic urban train ride, Metro Vancouver has an appealing section along Skytrain’s Millennium Line between Lougheed Town Centre and Lafarge Lake-Douglas. It offers a majestc view of North Shore mountains and Burrard Inlet. (Of course, you folks in Seattle have to wait for the border reopening.)

      8. Redmond has built up a trail system and could certainly market it. And from there is a trunk trail to Issquah which has its own extensive trails, and a trail through the wine country to Bothell and Seattle.I could see people taking Link to Redmond round trip, or taking Link one way and the 554 or 522 Stride the other way.

        How long is the walk from Redmond to Issaquah? From Redmond to Bothell is four or five hours if I remember. You can also get off earlier at the Woodinville park or a residential area west of it, but it’s unclear how to get to the bus from there or how far the bus is.

        Bellevue is also planning an east-west bike corridor from the lake to at least the transit center and probably the north-south rail trail.

      9. East Link will be considered the most scenic light rail line segment we have.

        Until Ballard Link is built (although that is somewhat dependent on whether the ship canal crossing is above or below ground).

        For that matter, I think West Seattle might have a pretty good claim for spectacular views as well. In that case, it depends on some of the buildings in the area — they may be stealing the view.

        And as a dark horse candidate, consider Northgate/Lynnwood. It is quite likely that you’ll be able to see the Olympics, as well as Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, and lesser known peaks like Three Fingers, Pilchuck and White Horse. The big question is whether you can see Mount Rainier, or whether Maple Leaf blocks it. My guess is if you can’t see it at Northgate, you would see it soon after, meaning that within seconds you would be able to view all major peaks in the region.

        East Link, as nice as it will be, is running straight towards the Olympics and Cascades much of the time. Since the best views are to the east and west, that is a drawback. Rainier is more southwest of course, but the best view there is likely to be from somewhere south of SeaTac.

        There is a reason why folks wanted the monorail. It wasn’t because of the mode (that would be stupid). It was because elevated transit through the city would have been delightful and spectacular for the riding public.

      10. Yes a high light rail bridge in Ballard would offer spectacular views. So would an elevated track near Smith Cove. However, much of that line will be in subway or at the bottom of an Interbay ditch. East Link will offer 40 minutes of riding that will mostly be memorably scenic (not including short tunnels at Mt Baker, NW Mercer Island and Downtown Bellevue). As a ridgetop corridor, Federal Way Link may also offer some scenic views as well as Lynnwood.

      11. Federal Way Link should have good views of Rainier? Angel Lake has a high vantage point, but I’ve never been there in clear weather.

        Doesn’t Seattle already have the preeminent example of public transit as tourism, with the monorail?

      12. “Downtown Seattle and Sound Transit really shouldn’t be afraid of an Elevated alignment Downtown.”

        Tell that to the downtown businesses who would strenuously object. They got the monorail plan rerouted from 2nd to 5th because the 2nd Avenue businesses didn’t want it want running past their 2nd-story windows or losing lanes to stanchions.

        The 5th Avenue stanchions were built when Seattle was a much different city, the World’s Fair was seen as a great boost to the economy, and there was interest in novel transit modes resembling elevated rail. I’ve read that the primary theme in the World’s Fair was novel forms of transporation. E.g., it had both the Monorail and the Skyride and the Bubbleator. And Forward Thrust came out of that vision. (Along with the then-novel I-5 and 520.)

      13. There’s a good view of Mount Rainier from I-5 approaching 145th Street, but I don’t think it’ll be visible from the platforms. Also a good view from above I-5 near Alderwood, for when Everett Link is built (hopefully with an elevated alignment).

      14. @Mike Orr, and honestly the Monorail project was better for that diversion, as Seattle’s at a stage where expanding coverage with new lines is a better idea than “going for redundancy”. Now that not to say that the team behind the Monorail made many stupid design, operation, and management decisions. I’ve had to bring this up when talking about San Francisco transit, as I’ve been adamant that a new BART line in SF shouldn’t be duplicating what Caltrain and MUNI in Mission Bay, and should just jet out to Geary ASAP. This is why I’m interested in having the Second Link corridor be rerouted to I-5.

      15. East Link will offer 40 minutes of riding that will mostly be memorably scenic.

        Wait, what? From Judkins Park to the terminus in Redmond will be 24 minutes (and some of that is underground). Northgate to Lynnwood will be 13 minutes, but the big above ground stretch is Mount Baker to Federal Way, which is 33 minutes. I’m not sure what the travel times are for West Seattle or Ballard, but the above ground sections will be relatively short.

      16. There’s a good view of Mount Rainier from I-5 approaching 145th Street

        Oh yeah, I know what you’re talking about. I’ve seen it a lot while returning from hiking. I think in that case the drawback is that it is pretty much straight ahead. Great for the driver, but not so good for passengers. I think in general that is what makes it a bit tougher to determine future views. If you are driving, or in the passenger seat, a view out the front windshield is ideal. But if you are in a train, you want a view out the side window. That’s why I think East Link will be nice for viewing Mount Rainier and Mount Baker (as well as the communities surrounding the lakes) but not so great for viewing the Olympics. But then again, I’m not that sure.

      17. East Link also makes several 90 degree turns, so you get to see the various views. The rest of Link is pretty north-south, aside from the proposed West Seattle bridge.

      18. “ From Judkins Park to the terminus in Redmond will be 24 minutes (and some of that is underground).“

        I used 40 minutes because that’s what ST states as the time between Westlake and Downtown Redmond on that extension’s web site. Taking off 8-10 minutes for the DSTT still leaves 30-32 minutes which is probably a better estimate. The Downtown Seattle skyline will emerge on the right side of a westbound train between Judkins Park and IDC and that will be spectacular too — as the closest above-ground side view of the skyline from Link that will be offered by the system.

      19. I think it will give the toursts more choices for where they stay during their visit. Take the train downtown to see the sights. Not pay to park, then stay at a hotel on the eastside.

      20. Woodinville wine touring via Link to Redmond+bike is going to be HUGE. You can bet many others including myself will ride the train out to Redmond and bike the 20-ish miles back to Seattle via the eastside trail network which is wonderful. That trail network must be one of the best regional trail networks in the US so to have easy access to it from Seattle is a game-changer. Can’t do a group ride with an express bus but one can easily get 5-6 bikes on a Link train.

      21. Train to downtown Shitattle? No thanks. Stop it before the druggies find out and expand.

      22. I base the time estimates on these charts, published by this blog:



        They were published a long time ago, but I can only assume they are accurate. But now that I look at the chart again, I see how I got confused. It doesn’t include the last two stations (and the station names are confusing). So that would add six minutes (assuming it takes 40 minutes to get from downtown Redmond to Westlake). That means that Judkins Park to downtown Redmond is 30 minutes.

  2. My, what a big parking garage you have, my dear.

    We should call it a parkade like the Canadians do.

  3. Never realized how beautiful this ride was going to be. And best thing about it is that it’s also just the beginning. Is there any way that in word and deed, we can dedicate our whole regional transit effort to the Class of 2020?

    Whose own life’s work will include not only riding it and running it, but getting elected and governing it. Can somebody anywhere near age 18 tell me this: Is there one single website or twitter-tweet trilling to the heavens that this year whether you graduate or not, the same ballot you drop off or mail in can put you in the Washington State Legislature?

    Ill-wind reference is dead-on for the whole business (and tell me it hasn’t always been one$) of Graduation itself. These last two weeks I owe my whole wi-fi to a college-age lady Comcast technician in Kingston Jamaica. And after weeks of struggling, my online subscription to The Olympian Newspaper was the work of her colleague located…well… OFF SHORE! Quarantine-wise, hope she ever gets off that ship!

    ‘Way past high school. BA, BS (not the official-statement kind) MA, PhD have all gone full-bore OJT for On the Job Training. ST or KCM, I’m not going to link their employment websites again this morning. But both offer one dynamite piece of career potential. Week or two at the controls and you’ll be the exact level of commenter Seattle Transit Blog most desperately needs at this point in time!

    Mark Dublin

  4. About half the riders on my 132 shopping ride were still either maskless or wearing them just around their neck or chin.

    The southbound north downtown stop for the 132 and other routes in its group of routes is now mid-block, with no RTA signage.

    The closest RTA sign, a block north, displayed the sage words “Mask Required”. It had plenty of white space. It could easily have said “You must wear a covering over your nose and mouth in order to board, and while on board.” There really was enough space to say that.

    The bus signs still say “Essential Rides Only”. Is that actually still policy?

    Regardless, it is way past time to update those signs, not with something weak, like “Mask Required”, which implies it is okay to not be wearing it, but something a little more specific, like “Wearing Mask Required”. Then put signs on all 10K bus stops spelling out the requirement, and letting riders know (1) Where they can attain free face coverings; and (2) That failure to be wearing them properly as the bus approaches is grounds for the driver to pass them up.

    Seriously. The right of riders to not die as a result of riding the bus far outweighs anyone’s need to be get anywhere without a mask. Obey state law. Don’t get Metro shut down.

    1. I certainly agree that everyone on a bus should be wearing a mask but I wonder why those people aren’t wearing a mask. Are they maskless because they don’t have access to masks or are they just intentionally endangering everyone’s safety?

      For their own safety, bus drivers shouldn’t be required to enforce the mask rules or hand out masks either. But as long as public transit continues to be populated with maskless riders, ridership will be depressed.

      1. I haven’t been on a bus in a long time, but wonder if there are signs inside about wearing a mask. I think this would be a good idea. Strong wording (not the usual passive aggressive crap) is what I recommend (although mixing it up with amusing signs is fine, too). There really needs to be a strong public service message about wearing masks on a bus (and other inside places).

      2. I’ve been cataloguing where I see low mask wearing, and the primary pattern I see is working-class and industrial areas. The 132 is repeatedly worst. And then the 131 and 124 — all in SODO. The next one after that is the 7, especially between Mt Baker and Jackson, and secondarily between Columbia City and Mt Baker. In contrast, the 10, 11, , 41, 49, 522, and Link have higher levels of mask wearing, with only one or two at a time maskless. This is just my handful of routes in east, southeast, and northeast Seattle. I don’t know about other routes since I haven’t been on them since March. I’m curious about the E, A. B. C, D, 36, 40, 120, 512, and Eastside and South King County routes, if anybody has any information.

      3. We’re at the point where disposable masks are available in just about every retailer (even Dollar Tree sells “loose” bags of two for $1). Reusable masks run $3 to $10 for singles in most grocery stores I’ve checked. The state government is also planning to hand out masks to low-income households, though I’m not sure how that will work.

    2. You can’t wonder why you see dogs in grocery stores when the no dogs policy exempts service dogs. And you can’t wonder why you see transit riders without masks when the masks required policy has a list of exemptions.

      But, I believe, an exemption shouldn’t give people the right to spread a deadly virus. If one cannot wear a mask, for whatever reason, they shouldn’t be on public transit.

      1. I’d like to know why some people aren’t wearing a mask on a bus. Is it because they don’t know how to obtain a mask or is it because they are indifferent to the risks they are creating? It seems that the days of mask being in short supply are over but can everyone that needs a mask get one?

      2. “But, I believe, an exemption shouldn’t give people the right to spread a deadly virus. If one cannot wear a mask, for whatever reason, they shouldn’t be on public transit.”

        One doesn’t equate with the other. If someone is blind & needs a service dog, they should be denied access to a business or service if dogs are forbidden? Similarly, if someone is azmatic,should they be denied access to transit if masks are a problem for them? The answer isn’t as black or white as one might think.

      3. You’re right, one doesn’t equate with the other. I was saying two different things. 1, don’t be surprised to see riders without masks on transit, because there are many exemptions to the mask. on transit requirement. 2, I personally don’t believe people without masks should be allowed to ride public transit at this time.

      4. I’ve been trying to figure that out. My first impression is that non-mask-wearing is higher in working-class and industrial neighborhoods. My second impression is that different people look like they might be motivated by:
        A) Can’t afford masks. (Implication: give away masks on buses.)
        B) Can’t find them easily. (E.g., they live in a food desert without stores, their nearby stores don’t carry them, they don’t have good internet service or a credit card. Implication: hand out masks, make reusable masks more available in neighborhood stores, and publicize where the masks are.)
        C) Political opposition to mask wearing. (Implication: wait until they hopefully change their mind.)
        D) Other reasons. (Maybe the wear a mask sometimes, or it broke, or they forgot it, or they have a medical condition that precludes masks, or who knows what.)

        My latest impression as of last weekend is that #B and #D are likely the most common. Most non-mask-wearers look like they can afford a mask, and don’t appear to be part of the right-wing anti-mask movement. And I know for myself it’s hard to find reusable masks at local stores.

        So I think greater mask availability would help a lot, along with giving away masks on buses. Giving away masks would also in itself help reinforce the “wear a mask” message, and in a non-threatening way. Many people resist being told to do something, especially by the liberal elite, but if you simply say, “Do you want a mask? Here’s one,” they’ll take it without feeling lectured at.

    3. Different Metro and different Washington but the challenge appears to be the same:

      when pressed by board members on how the system would carry out such a requirement, Wiedefeld acknowledged the challenge in enforcing it, describing it as more of an ask than a mandate.

      Really the only enforcement option is to shut down the system if compliance continues to be dismal. They could start by canceling routes where there was the biggest problem. Maybe people would wake up; but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

      1. Would shutting down certain routes get maskless riders to stop riding, or would it just cause some of them to shift to the routes that have near-100% compliance? (which would not bother me *if* they wore masks, properly)

        Drivers have some tools that don’t involve physical confrontation:

        (1) Passing passengers by. This has certainly happened long before the pandemic, for much more benign offenses, up to and including not wanting a particular rider on their bus.

        (2) Not opening the doors, and playing an exterior message, such as “State law requires those boarding a bus to be wearing a face covering over their nose and mouth.” Play the message twice. Wait a few more seconds. The passenger just pounds on the outside of the bus instead of putting on their mask. Drive on.

        (3) Send a message to security to intercept the bus and designate a stop for them to board. Unarmed, please. The FEO patrol boards, talks to everyone on board about the pandemic, and provides free face masks. Provide the public safety message in a professional and jovial manner, and then depart. Elbowbump only if the offender offers their elbow first. If they offer their fist, offer your elbow.

        (4) Handle exemptions to mask-wearing by having them hold up a sign stating they are exempt.

      2. I wouldn’t either as many would shrug & just say… well since I don’t use that service, we don’t need that line anyway. That is how many people think.

      3. If you shut down a store, then there are other stores. If you shut down transit, then there’s no transit, and a gap in the transportation modes. If you shut down the only route in an area, then that area effectively has no transit. And it punishes the people in that area who do wear masks. Many of whom have essential jobs and can’t afford to drive or take a taxi every day. Shutting down transit is like shutting down city government or the police or fire service. It’s not like shutting down a store.

    4. It’s happening here in Victoria as well. BC Transit (our crown corporation responsible for all transit throughout BC, except Vancouver) has signs posted on the bus and at most stops stating: All passengers must wear a face covering to ride. Last time I rode (not frequent, since working from home) of the maybe 15 people on the bus 1 or 2 were wearing masks.

    1. Interesting. It somewhat reminds me of what it is like to rent with kids. Landlords are afraid of noise and mess, so they discriminate (even though it isn’t legal). There is still discrimination based on race or nationality, but probably not as widespread as that in Japan, and likely not as much as folks in the U. S. discriminate against people of color. Of course it is especially tough having kids and being a family of color.

      I also found it interesting that it is fairly easy to buy, as long as you have a residency card. It is probably easier to buy in Japan than in the United States (for people in the same economic situation).

      1. Japan discriminates against Foreigners way more than the US does against POC. They really do operate under the if you’re not 100% Japanese, you’re not Japanese at all. As my friend who is half Japanese and has relatives who live in Japan found out when he lived there for a couple of years. Had to have his Japanese Aunt vouch for him on everything to even get in the door.

    2. Summary of why Japanese don’t rent to foreigners: “There’s a perceived risk.”

      But if this were a video of why Americans didn’t rent to foreigners, the conclusion would be we are xenophobic racists.

    3. It’s interesting because in the US, not only is discrimination illegal, but government services are available in in the most common immigrant languages in the area, even if only 1% of the population speaks it. A sudden announcement like an earthquake alert may not have good multilingual propagation, but longer-term issues like carbon monoxide safety, covid safety, voting, how to ride the bus, how to use the library, hospital access, tenants rights, etc, have multiligual brochures and interpreters available. There’s a local Spanish TV station and radio stations. And local TV stations that at least carry Japanese, Chinese, and Korean programs and could maybe publish an emergency announcement in those languages.

      The carbon monoxide issue came up a few years ago after several families, mostly non-English-speaking immigrants, died during the big snowstorms due to using portable gas heaters indoors. The solution was not to discourage renting to non-English speakers, but to write up safety information in those languages and require carbon monoxide detectors and an inspection for them every year.

      1. It looks like Japan has many of the same services.

        In transit, it appears that Japan is a step ahead. Tokyo has signs in both English and Japanese: https://matthewstrom.com/writing/inclusive-subway-design/. I’m pretty sure ours are only in English: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitol_Hill_station#/media/File:Capitol_Hill_Station_platform_on_opening_day,_March_19,_2016_-_01.jpg

        I think the biggest difference is the law. In Japan it is legal to discriminate against foreigners. In the U. S. it isn’t, yet is is common. There are agencies that try and catch violators, but they are typically underfunded, and it is a difficult thing to prove (just as racial discrimination in hiring is very difficult to prove).

      2. I would think Japan would have safety notices in several languages, especially English as the most widespread world language. The English train-station signs are to serve tourists and business travelers, not just foreign residents. So the idea that earthquake warnings are a reason not to rent to foreigners sounds like a xenophobic excuse. The Japanese government could certainly provide earthquake warnings in both Japanese and English. Especially since English is the language the most foreigners from Asia and the rest of the world understand at least a bit.

        I saw that in a hostel in Moscow, where the Russian clerk and a Chinese guest communicated with each other in English. And English is the language of most hostels and backpackers worldwide for the same reason.

  5. I took a trip to Bremerton on WSF yesterday and mask compliance was 100% on the morning trip to Bremerton but on the afternoon return trip compliance dropped significantly. Everyone has to wear a mask to board the ferry but once aboard many people in the under-30 demographic took off their masks.

    1. Were they inside or outside? I could see taking off the mask if you went out on deck, and stayed away from other people. But if you are anywhere in public and inside, you should have a mask on. That’s the law, for good reason.

  6. I just noticed a feature on the County Covid Dashboard page I hadn’t previously seen. There is a selection box at the top of the stats “Select City to Compare”. Of course when you break it down this way there is a great deal of “randomness” when numbers for deaths and hospitalizations are so low on a county wide basis. One thing that seemed odd was that the percentage testing positive in Seattle was only 3.7% which is well below the county wide average of 5.8%. Are people in Seattle more paranoid and getting tested for no good reason? Are they on a whole more health conscious and getting tested when others might just brush off symptoms or possible exposure? Is testing more readily available in Seattle? Or perhaps there’s more mandatory testing for people like the UW athletic department. Seattle has a large percentage of the County hospital beds. I can only speak to the policy at Overlake in Bellevue but there anyone getting any procedure is required to be tested before it will be carried out.

    1. I don’t think the data is random. I do think that when you get into cities, there can be some bumpiness to the data because of small sample sizes (e.g. if 1 person dies in Kenmore, that increases the death rate by 5/100K.

      I’d have to see it mapped, but it looks like there is a broad trend where Seattle / north King / Eastside have higher testing and lower cases, while south King has lower testing and higher cases. I imagine much of it is economics – south King is poorer, residents have lower average access to healthcare, more residents are essential workers. And some of it is politics – the further from Seattle you get, the more conservative and mask-phobic people are.

      1. I agree. The bumpiness would be a problem if you were comparing cities. A city like Fife might have a high rate of infection (because very few people live in Fife). But if you are comparing the county as a whole to Seattle, then the bumpiness takes care of itself.

        So the other issues are probably the reason. It is likely a mix of cultural as well as economic factors. Seattle has a strong Asian population and is well educated; we aren’t afraid to wear masks. We can also afford them — and afford the time to think about them. Service jobs are well spread out in the region, but rural jobs (where the virus is spreading quickly now) are not in Seattle. Generally speaking, the virus has spread from the “big city” to suburban and rural areas.

      2. Bumpiness is a better term than random. And yes Seattle is the only city that really represents a large enough portion of the total county population to where that is mostly leveled out for stats like hospitalizations and deaths. The percent positive out of total tests automatically levels out the bumpiness. The opposite of Seattle, Auburn has twice the percentage of positives (11.7%) vs the county average. Wealth, percentage with health care plans, access to testing all likely figure in. I still contend though that a major reason for the low positive rate in Seattle is a high level of mandated testing for people with no symptoms. It also might be do to a large population that would test positive (the homeless) not getting tested at all.

      3. Seattle has a strong Asian population and is well educated

        That is even more the case for Bellevue but Bellevue’s positive rate (5.5%) pretty much mirrors the county average. I think understanding this may help in understanding disease transmission vectors.

  7. The local transit community should do an action alert to contact organizations that hand out masks, and ask them to hand them out at transit locations. Or, the transit advocate community themselves should acquire masks, and hand them out at transit locations. Have a local news station come out and do a story on it. You’ll be heroes.

    Speaking of heroes, yesterday, I emailed the Bellevue Chamber, who hands out PPE on location at various spots around the city. At a farmer’s market, a church, and a few other places, but not transit centers. I asked if they would include the BTC as one of their spots to hand them out.

    1. I asked if they would include the BTC as one of their spots to hand them out.

      Thank you, Sam!

      1. Check out the Bellevue Chamber’s website. It’s pretty cool, because they’ve made their entire main homepage about them giving out PPE to businesses and residents, all for free. Under their Bellevue area resident link, they give days, times, and locations where they hand out masks and sanitizers.


        There has to be dozens of other organizations around the region doing this, but this is the only one I’m aware of on the Eastside doing it.

      2. “Mask distribution will take place at Renton Community Center (1715 Maple Valley Hwy) from 4 to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays and from 9 to 11 a.m. on Thursdays. Residents are asked to drive to the building’s main entrance and each vehicle will receive two (2) five-mask packets. There will be no proof of residence required and we ask that you only pass through once.”

        And if you don’t have a car? There needs to be a pedestrian line, and in a transit-accessible location.

        1715 Maple Valley Highway is near the library, east of 405. I’d guess it’s a 10-15 minute walk from the transit center, with only the 105 and two van routes coming close to it.

  8. Since I doubt that there’s still a single roller-sign on a bus in the State of Washington, “Essential” should die with a single “click.” It’s the kind of signature linguistic BureauBullying that makes people who’d normally know better put the loser of a Presidential election in office as a protest vote.

    If fairness, the common good, and chance of deadly contagion justify limiting permission to ride transit, Intercity Transit’s already-tried fallback is to go back to advanced reserved service only. Website would need fewer personnel than would any “enforcement” worthy of the name.

    Commenters above reporting mask resistance, your firsthand observations are as crucial as they are appalling. Our hallmark as Americans is that when emergency hits, like for instance two pressure-cooker bombs in a row, we do right by reflex without Order One. Even those of us who actually are US-born COVID-19 organisms are doing our part by presenting minute to minute proof of how many people contact-insistence is killing.

    If the Public Well-Being (and believe me, the Founding Fathers left this concept “Assumed” in their every single “Right-To”) demands that transit still run regular scheduled passenger service, our first move is to give “Enforcement” the same “Delete” key as “Essential” and “Policing.”

    To give the necessary authority the right “tone”, every boarding passenger should be looked in the eye by a uniformed nurse with a loop of spare masks in one hand and a set of handcuffs in the other.

    Recalling how many Joint Base Lewis McChord personnel went into action when we lost that train at Dupont, I’d really appreciate a comment from someone in the ranks as to the Armed Forces’ view of duty like I’m suggesting.

    If your commanding officer would have to defy an order from your Commander in Chief to participate, while I wouldn’t rule out the foreign outsourcing of his execution by firing squad, I doubt even Mayor Durkan would give him back, let alone Canada.

    So while contagion-limitation and air quality generally limit the use of my car- for his sake I’ll be sure to have an extra mask aboard for our trip to Skytrain’s first stop, Richmond or Surrey, their choice.

    Mark Dublin

  9. Brent, regarding keeping the door shut and driving away from an intending passenger…safety and probably the law forbid. Wouldn’t be the first time someone has run alongside the bus banging on the side until they get killed by falling under the back wheel. Has generally happened after dark.

    If transit is going to see to it that nobody boards without wearing a mask for their full ride, the system is going to have to keep personnel on staff, in zones, and on board, authorized and able to remove violators from transit premises.

    Personnel who, as the authorities themselves are belatedly coming to realize, will require training and indoctrination a lot closer to mental health workers than police officers. To face down a pandemic with a threat level a lot closer to an attack than a nuisance. If need be, putting financing squarely on the books of the Defense Department.

    Mark Dublin

  10. And FDW, reason nobody’s afraid of an elevated structure Downtown is because its likelihood is limited by the refusal of both property-owners and the public to tolerate its intrusion into a space so much too small for it.

    Though given the world’s advances in elevated rail design and construction since the last Monorail vote, I wouldn’t reflexively fight another try for Second Avenue. Unfortunately, for the Seattle Monorail itself, problem has always been symbolically politicizing something technical.

    Downside isn’t the single rail, but the fact that the structure is about twice as massive as it would’ve had to be to carry vehicles on twin rails of steel. But it’s also pretty much worked ruggedly and perfectly for its intended place and use as a horizontal express elevator connecting Downtown Seattle, and later more specifically Westlake Station, with Seattle Center.

    While “throwing in” an exciting second-story ride among the buildings of the city in between. Which is also a legitimate public transit museum piece. Which I also hope can finally terminate close as possible to the Lower Queen Anne business district. Every tool to its use.

    Mark Dublin

  11. What are the medical conditions that preclude mask wearing? The media keeps saying there are some but never says what, or how widespread they are. Is it mainly conditions like asthma? Are there a lot of rare conditions that do? How much of the population has these conditions?

    1. It’s pretty much a self diagnosis. “Wearing a mask gives me anxiety attacks.” Bingo, you have a medical exception. “it makes my nose itch”, ditto. It’s basically an out for anyone that wants to claim it. What I found odd is in the State documentation they said one of the valid reasons for not wearing a mask is if you are deaf. Huh? this makes as much sense as dry cleaners being deemed an essential service.

      The only person I saw at FM today without a mask was a woman pushing a developmentally disabled child in a wheelchair. Both she and the child had face shields. My guess is this was a valid medical needs exception since they took the effort to have face shields. The child’s shield was more like a clear plastic bee keeper helmet. A face shield may not be as good as a mask but it’s certainly better than nothing.

      1. It really doesn’t matter. Despite what Republicans say, cops aren’t going around and busting people for not wearing masks. The same was true with the shutdown order. This is not something that is enforced by the police. We aren’t China (Thank God).

        Even though it is the law, it is essentially a recommendation. The hope is that people will be sensible, and follow the recommendations. If you are in a hospital, they don’t care. Either you wear a mask, or you are out. Actually, you are out unless you are a patient or work there (mask or not). But clinics allow visitors, but only if they wear a mask. Some businesses operate that way, some don’t. When it comes to transit, the problem is that often, bus drivers are the only folks in charge of such things. Metro long ago told drivers not to enforce the fares — they were tired of the drivers getting assaulted. There is no way in hell they can enforce a mask restriction.

        If they had off-board payment, then the fare officers could do mask enforcement. Give every rider without a mask a $20 fine. But as others have noted, often the problem is lack of access, forgetfulness, and a hundred other reasons. In this country, we often think that problems can be solved by “being tougher”. Yet all studies suggest the opposite. Make it easier — and more appealing — to wear a mask, and then folks wear a mask. As Mike said up above, there are really only two big reasons why people forget the mask — availability being the big one. The second is cultural opposition, which can be overcome with a political campaign. Have various country music, NASCAR and bass fishing stars wear masks. I’m not really sure that is the biggest problem, but the more mask wearing is scene as a universally good, sensible thing, the better.

      2. Cops aren’t busting people. They have more important things to deal with. Some top cops have vocally announced their opposition to the law which I think is wrong. Discretionary enforcement has lead to a big part of the trust in cops we’re seeing in the current protests. None the less it’s an essential part of policing; no easy answers.

        RossB is right in saying the best thing that could happen would be for someone like Blake Shelton to come out and do a public service announcement. A more coherent message from POTUS would help but… Much like the Bubby Wallace story where Richard Petty holds far more sway than some Yankee from NY.

      3. “Have various country music, NASCAR and bass fishing stars wear masks.”

        I think the political resistance to mask wearing is temporary. Red states are going through horrible outbreaks, and even some of their governors and legislators are getting it, like Boris Johnson did and changed his tune. Trump has finally worn a mask once in front of reporters, and hopefully he and Pence will start doing it more often. The evidence of covid causing lifelong lung damage even in asymptomatic people will become more widely known and disconcerning. And with flu season coming and a school reopening that could be a fiasco, that could be the biggest blow to resistance. When people separate it from caving to the multicultural pro-abortion-and-gay-marriage climate-scold socialists, then they’ll be more willing to just wear a mask.

      4. Nascar is a good example. Aside from perhaps golf, Nascar has probably been the sports league to be most successful navigating the pandemic. They have been very diligent with their health protocols and there are plenty of images of major Nascar drivers & owners wearings masks.

  12. Ross, a draw-bridge offers a lot of moving parts to the both the weather and constant multi-ton loads in motion. In addition, as witness the West Seattle Bridge, I-90’s former Lacey Morrow, and formerly-floating State highway over the Hood Canal, the to choices in the maintenance place-in-line, the Deferred kind always comes in First.

    But more than anything else, how many draw-bridges does I-90 traffic have to cross between Everett and Tacoma? Why should regional electric rail have to cross any more of them?

    Mark Dublin

    1. Wow Mark. Not only did you fail to reply correctly to my comment, but you ignored the first item. Let me repeat it one more time:

      This is a bridge for a train. This is not the same as I-90 traffic. I-90 traffic involves cars. This won’t involve cars. This will involve a train. A train. A train that runs every six minutes at most, and likely every ten minutes on the rare occasions when it opens. That is because it is a train. Trains are different than cars and different than planes. Trains, planes, cars — they are all different, and assuming the same approach applies to all three is a bad idea.

      As far as moving parts are concerned, that is a nothing compared to the extra cost. But if you are really concerned about the maintenance of the system, then the thing to do is make it smaller. The maintenance costs of such a long line are huge, and as we’ve seen already, expensive and disruptive (https://www.soundtransit.org/get-to-know-us/news-events/news-releases/light-rail-service-through-tukwila-area-will-be-disrupted).

    2. The I-90 bridge used to have a bulge around the drawspan. A common saying was that every week drunk people crashed into it, and that was one of the reasons the bulge was eliminated. Now the bridge has a high portion where ships can cross under.

  13. All right. Fair argument that since the line won’t go any farther north than Ballard, it’s not comparable with I-5. But what made me “lose it”, is the idea that because it’s a train, it’s acceptable to make it lower priority than, say, boats. I’m seeing exactly the prejudice I experienced from the driver’s seat aboard buses.

    Which because they theoretically could go around obstacles, it was okay to make them do it. A lot. Powerful recommendation for rail streetcars, the bigger the better. Since they can’t go around, make sure there’s nothing in their way for them to GET around.

    And pardon me if I think that the three floating bridges sunk by negligence in the past, plus the condition of the West Seattle Freeway right now tell me that around here, only way to make sure it won’t fail or fall apart is build it so it can’t.

    Mark Dublin

  14. I-90 + Hood Canal = two bridges. Tacoma Narrows, probably nobody’s fault. My favorite coffee shop in Olympia got trashed by malevolent idiots last week. Not just collateral damage while they got City Hall. Going for THEM!

    Cops in riot gear who took forever to even show up yesterday afternoon told me to just get the Hell away while the poor staff slammed the door in my face. Hate everything that can break. Which now apparently includes me.

    Mark Dublin

  15. The nice video shows some sad mistakes as well. The South Bellevue station will have a 1,400 auto-dependent garage next to it instead of a village with thousands of apartments. The BTC bus and rail platforms are distant from one another increasing the seams of transit. The Spring District station has a single entrance at its west end; this will impose walks on riders oriented to and from the east.

    Note the 2023 opening is about 15 years after ST2 in 2008. The initial segment opened in 2009, or 13 years after 1996. That is our pace. The ST3 pace is unknown, due to Covid and recession.

  16. Ross B, can’t leave off without telling you: My own actual memories of Ballard, along with my hopes for it, now convince me that updated techniques and equipment should make it possible to gift Ballard with the rugged but beautiful drawbridge its own character demands.

    Since the Nordic lands have some real steel-railed advancement, Nordic Heritage, whose current patrons have a lot bigger wallets than the kind and loyal people who supported their previous quarters in the old elementary school just off the Route 17, should be able to assure something Thor will sign off on with a flourish of his hammer.

    With mechanism designed and built by a firm whose products combine service in deep ocean with deep space. To protect us from Elon Musk, strong union protection for workers will be in the specs.

    Was also being humorous, at the level for which they always kept that hook just offstage in vaudeville, about favoring oversized streetcars for the express purpose of seizing control.

    At this writing, my conditions for the First Avenue connector and the two car-lines it’ll get connected to, include having its funding fall to the three-sided linear business, culture, and historic district its lane-reserved and signal preempting trains will serve.

    And if the Waterfront Streetcar is to share its communications and maintenance, its presence will be funded with more than one working industry of the kind whose presence used to be a given in ports worldwide. Which workers always appreciated, and tourists always loved.

    First 18-year-old to exercise their Constitutional right to be in the State Legislature…would be proud to have your yes-vote be the first. SR99 is still a State highway.

    Mark Dublin

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