Downtown employers are having positive experiences with remote working, and there will be a dramatic increase in that “new normal” going forward:
Not only that, staggered schedules and flexible arrival times will be more prevalent. These factors will flatten and reduce the twice-a-day commuter curve “rush hour” spikes into and out of downtown. It’s fair to say the market is fixing the problem Link light rail is being built to address, right?
Even if *this* time all the effort, organizing by orgs like Commute Seattle, and government planning yields a spreading out of the peak travel times, there is still the free-market problem of induced demand. Peak congestion will just last longer, buses will still be stuck in that peak congestion despite government attempts to use pricing to tamp down car traffic (over opposition from libertarian cosplayers who will temporarily switch from their normal outfits of socialism extremists when it comes to building more roads), and Link Light Rail will alternatingly rise above it all or duck below it all.
Link may not reduce vehicle miles on existing roads, bring the rain, end the era of fossil fuel stupidity, provide a vaccine, fund day care for all, or any other straw goal its critics may set up. But it will get its riders out of traffic congestion, at least for the portion of their commute on the train, reasonably reliably.
Stopping climate armaggedon is going to require a lot more governmental effort to stop the externalities of socialized road overbuilding and subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, including the vast sums the federal government spends escorting the oil supply from the Middle East. Oh, and the good news for libertarian cosplayers: Biden plans to send more troops to the Middle East!
Those trying to actually reduce the costs of public transit will find a more useful source of savings in supporting more dedicated lanes for transit (which will help reduce the odds of climate armageddon), supporting more dedicated bike paths, including on arterials, supporting more choice of modes such as scooters, and raising taxes enormously on non-battery-powered air travel to pay for all the expense the government puts into supporting that transit mode.
The “government planning” I’m questioning isn’t the worldwide lockdowns that are causing hundreds of oil tankers to circle outside ports because the global refining pipelines are full and demand for petroleum products dried up.
The “government planning” I’m questioning is the unrelated issue of whether building this Link light rail system is justified. Remote working won’t just “spread out peak travel times.” Remote working will reduce daily commutes into and out of downtown, and lower dramatically the twice-daily rush hour commutes that threatened to cripple businesses over the next several decades if the upward daily commute trends that existed here up through 2019 continued.
Whether the staggering regressive tax costs of building out this Link light rail system are justified is entirely unrelated to what you are posting about: “stopping climate armageddon” and improving bus service.
The car tabs are not regressive, and they are directly related to stopping the climate armageddon. Tim Eyman is trying to make them regressive.
The property taxes are not regressive, no matter how much landowning politicians try to say otherwise.
The sales tax is regressive, but not as regressive as defunding public transit.
Link Light Rail is one of the more efficient uses of transit resources there is, or at least it was before the pandemic and the panic move of reducing frequency to every 20-30 minutes, when full frequency had not even been restored after two months of Connect 2020 crushloads. They should have given Link at least a couple weeks of the restored regular schedule before passing judgement on ridership drop. It was a case of bad science and decisions being made by people who do not ride the service to see the obvious flaw in their science.
It’s fair to say the market is fixing the problem Link light rail is being built to address, right?
Wrong. Link light rail has two main advantages over what existed before: speed and capacity.
Consider the section between the UW and downtown. The train does not just serve that connection, but also the one to Capitol Hill (both directions). The tunnel allows for much faster speeds for all combinations (UW to downtown, UW to Capitol Hill, Capitol Hill to downtown). These are trips taken throughout the day, and account for a huge portion of Link’s ridership (and the train hasn’t even gotten to 45th yet). This is why it was so expensive — they built a tunnel to make those trips much faster.
Capacity is a trickier issue. Theoretically, they could have extended the bus tunnel. But if there were no entrances — if it was a completely closed system — then this would have gotten you nothing. It would be just as expensive to build. Buses would go back and forth serving the exact same stops. If you added entrances in various places, then buses would connect from the neighborhoods to the station, and on to downtown. But that would greatly increase the cost of the system, while getting you very little. You avoid a transfer, but that’s about it.
That all assumes that you don’t need the capacity. It is also ignores the cost of running those buses. A train is cheaper to run than a bus, but one train is a lot cheaper to run than a half dozen buses. Thus it would be a more costly system, with very little benefit.
I also don’t buy the premise. There is a long term trend towards people working from home. This existed *before* the pandemic. But not every employer or employee wants that. Company after company — including those that lead that trend (tech companies) — have spent a fortune building more office space — mostly in downtown Seattle and Bellevue. If office space shrinks, it will shrink in suburban office parks (which is also a long term trend). After 9/11, people predicted the same thing (the end of skyscrapers). It didn’t happen. It won’t happen now.
RossB is correct again. In addition, Link will be reliable, providing great two way all-day service. If ST is smart, it will also be frequent and provide short waits. I-5 is jammed in the reverse direction; this has been so for decades southbound in the afternoons. One of the most critical ST mistakes was building Link south first rather than north first; this put too much pressure on surface transit in downtown Seattle.
This isn’t a normal light rail system where the Feds, state grants, businesses and existing tax revenue streams paid for construction costs. The capicity projected is irrelevant because not enough of the households subjected to its heavy taxing benefit from this kind of train system. All that capacity just translates into the trains moving mostly air around.
Sound Transit should be dissolved because the decades of heavy taxing designed to hit households with the least wealth the hardest do not justify extending Link. King County would operate the the existing Link system, the three counties could operate buses on the REX routes, and none of the ST3 proposed rail buildouts would do enough good for enough people so they should stop.
I think these arguments can be much better used to justify elimination of the freeway express buses to South Lake Union and First Hill, as part of the 2021 service restructure, than elimination of Link, itself.
Unlike Link, these express buses run only during rush and about 90% of their purpose is the peak-hour office worker demand. Anecdotally, I have found Uber and Lyft from UW Station to Westlake/Denny to be no faster than riding Link to Westlake Station and walking. Similarly, an express bus from Roosevelt Station to SLU which follows the Uber route won’t offer much of a speed advantage either, especially with the waiting in line with all the cars for the Mercer St. exit ramp during morning rush hour.
Curtailing these peak express routes leaves more money for the types of all-day trips that people are continuing to take.
But, to throw away Link so soon after spending billions of dollars to construct it, would be outright lunacy.
I agree. I’m in the process of adding a Page 2 Link about those express buses, and I don’t even use that argument against them.
Anon, what is the problem that you are claiming the market is fixing? Link is designed to provide all-day, environmentally sustainable mobility. WFH is still a nascent concept but one of the immediately noticeable consequences has been increased energy usage because people are having to keep the lights and HVAC on at home while they work.
WFH will also have numerous effects on the housing market. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could convert some of those strip malls and office complexes into affordable housing? Let’s see if the market can accomplish that.
The problem the market is fixing is the one Link was designed to address: so many daily commuters into and out of downtown Seattle that without it not enough employees could get to and from their employers’ worksites quickly enough.
You are making the wrong assumption about Link. You are describing commuter rail, not a subway. A subway system is designed to move people around all day, for various reasons, *most* of which have nothing to do with work. A commuter rail system is designed almost entirely for 9-5 commuters.
It’s a strawman argument. He makes up a reason for Link, insists it’s true, and then complains it fails that goal.
Here’s why: Light rail allows for a lot more than peak commuting and freeing up resources tied to peak commuting. Light rail is like a spine, and just as the spine allows for a skeleton to tie into it light rail is going to allow for more buses, more places, more often. Light rail also offers a zero emission choice to getting to work, play and the airport.
Good thing peak commuters aren’t remotely the be-all, end-all of Link then
It isn’t even its bread and butter lol
Projected massive increases over the next four decades of daily commuters to and from employers’ worksites in downtown Seattle and downtown Bellevue are the reason Link exists.
Link’s “bread and butter” is heavy sales taxes — the antithesis of transit funding best practices.
Projected massive increases over the next four decades of daily commuters to and from employers’ worksites in downtown Seattle and downtown Bellevue are the reason Link exists.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. I don’t know how many times we have to write it, but that is not why Link — or any other subway — was built.
How can there be a dramatic increase in remote work going forward, when many businesses are maxed-out on remote work. There is no going up from here, only down. The remote work story was nice while it lasted, but, as soon as Phase 4 becomes widespread, it will be back to the office for most.
Good point. Everyone who can telework, is teleworking. In some cases they can continue teleworking full time. In other cases they will be more productive and happier when they can go back to the office a couple days a week or full time. If you assume a 50/50 split or a 75/25 split, either way it’s a lot of people going back to the office.
And it’s likely few people will tele-work 5 days a week and still live in an expensive city like Seattle. We might end up with a 3 day peak rather than a 5 day peak, but you still need the same system with the same peak capacity once those people return.
To me, it would be very odd to have a large population of people who live in or near Seattle and neither commute to work nor take advantage of the many amenities that make city living a high quality of life. If a household is truly able to work remotely permanently and have no other need for transit, they likely will move somewhere cheaper. We have already seen this in SF and Manhattan, where the extreme premium (and high mobility) very quickly pushed people to move elsewhere, even if it was elsewhere in the region. Even if those workers never return, post-COVID they will be replaced by others who do want to move about the city.
It’s definitely not clear to me whether a small increase in WFH is a bad thing for transit. Maintaining a car has a high fixed cost (insurance, depreciation, some portion of maintenance/repair) that’s independent of the incremental cost of using it (fuel, wear&tear). Will someone who commutes to the office 2-3 days a week want to assume that full fixed cost, or would they rather give up the car and those fixed costs entirely, and use transit?
Or pay for monthly parking for 3 days a week, whether it’s the employee or employer paying. A broader shift from monthly to daily parking rates has been show to get people out of their cars.
Aside from the financial trade-off, I could see someone be more willing to put up with a long, less convenient transit trip a few days a week, particularly the super commuters from exburbs. >1 hour trips each way are much more palatable a few days a week.
And often people need to drive for flexibility (errands, picking up kids, etc.), and if you are more WFH you might be more willing to rely on transit if it’s less days a week.
Will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.
“Will someone who commutes to the office 2-3 days a week want to assume that full fixed cost, or would they rather give up the car and those fixed costs entirely, and use transit?”
A few might, but for most, the nonwork trips will simply become the limiting factor.
The most plausible exception I can think of comes from people who live in the heart of the city (e.g. can fulfill most nonwork needs on foot, and may even have to pay for parking to keep a car at home), but reverse commute to jobs in the suburbs. There may be enough of a time advantage to driving to justify car ownership when the trip is being made 5 days/week. But, the transit alternative might be tolerable enough when the trip is only twice a week, and the savings from getting rid of the car would be significant. I can imagine commute trips to the Microsoft campus from inner Seattle neighborhoods not directly served by the 545 (or a private Microsoft shuttle) falling into this category.
Even then, a decision to own a car or not own a car is a medium/long-term decision, and work from home is only likely to factor into it if the work-from-home situation is expected to persist for years.
A hundred people moving is a drop in the bucket compared to the population of Manhattan.
Go away. Just go away.
Truth is, Tom, I just got back. Essential trip from Olympia to Burien yesterday extended itself to Beacon Hill. Proximity to 200th Street saved my car about fifty miles additional driving of the kind its maintenance, fuel, and insurance hate the worst.
From the time I got ethnoevictionally-cleansed out of Ballard six years ago, a couple of easy express bus transfers and a Link ride have let me leave my car in its “port”, dreaming peacefully of the two-lane forest blacktop it loves.
Come COVIDIA, though…..while my car’s gas mileage is as serviceable as its air quality, my credit card’s ringing up a log more dings than my ORCA one used to. And my mechanic charges me a lot more than IT’s, ST’s Link’s crews ever did. Lot of real slow bumpers between Evergreen Park and Tacoma Dome garage.
And you know something else? Through pretty much a whole working life doing everything from quarrying to logging to cab-driving to bus-driving to college-attending to tutoring clients from Highline to Kingsgate in a single day….
My pattern of leaving my car either home or in transit’s outermost parking lot has never changed a whit. Especially through the thirteen years of intense personal experience that left me convinced that however our economy and worklife get re-arranged, the regional transit system we need will employ as many people to build as it’ll carry.
Including them when they get off work. Also alert to prevent Jeff Bezos from jamming our freeways with SUV’s that turn into motel rooms so their owners don’t care how long they’re stuck. Elon Musk and sex, don’t want to imagine. But at least between here and Mars, zero gravity will keep the bed springs quiet.
Link is about all day service. Sounder may have less value with less concentrated peak congestion, but Link, Stride, and STX exist to serve an all day market. The higher cost need to serve a wider peak should be roughly offset by lower cost of not needing to provide peak of peak service. Peak service can be cheaper to run on a per rider basis, but is more expensive on a per vehicle/train basis for operational reasons, so a less peaky commute is actually better for transit operations.
If the peak is more spread out, that shouldn’t impact the total number of people choosing to ride Link downtown, just the time periods in which they do. Unless you think freeway congestion is only a 4pm to 6pm weekday problem, in which case I have lovely home in Marysville I’d like to sell you.
And finally, many people will still choose to ride Link even when the freeways are free flowing because they cannot or do not want to drive for reasons unrelated to congestion, because their trip would never involve freeway, or because Link is still faster with zero traffic (i.e. many Cap Hill trips)
You aren’t responding to the issue of whether this Link light rail system no longer is justified. Link’s modest operations costs are irrelevant to that issue, and peak commutes won’t be just “wider” or “more spread out.” The numbers of daily commuters into and out of downtown will be far lower than even 2019 levels going forward — and they certainly will be far less than what the rail transit demand forecasts pre-Covid indicated for the next several decades. As to the point in your final paragraph, the tax costs of the Link capital expenses certainly are not justified because a relative handful of people don’t want to drive on uncongested highways or save a couple of minutes on a “trip to Cap. Hill.”
You are making two assumptions:
1) The numbers of daily commuters into and out of downtown will be far lower than even 2019 levels going forward.
2) Link was based on that demand.
The first is pure speculation. It is no different than picking the Lakers to win it all. You can make all the arguments you want, but at the end of the day, no one knows what will happen.
The second reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of mass transit. It isn’t built only to serve office workers downtown. It is built to serve everyone, for lots of different trips.
Which is not to say that Sound Transit’s assumptions for suburban commuting weren’t absurd. They were ridiculously overly optimistic. But a lot of people knew that going in, which is why they thought a lot of the plans were misguided. The parts of Link that are a good value (e. g. Northgate to downtown) will remain a good value. The parts of Link that aren’t (e. g. Issaquah Link) will remain a bad value. Nothing has changed, although I would expect Sound Transit to use this convenient excuse for disappointing ridership on some sections.
Agree with Ross on both. For #1, I completely disagree with Anon and expect downtown jobs to return post-pandemic; any jobs shifted to teleworking will simply make room for new jobs or jobs moving from less central locations. But as Ross says, it’s pure speculation either way.
Long-term downtown office jobs will absolutely come back. There’s a long list of companies which (once COVID goes away) would be happy to move into a central location like downtown Seattle, but the current rents there are just too high for it to make business sense. If some more out, rents will have to drop until the vacancies are filled. Classic ECON 101 at work.
For established companies, such as Amazon, Google and Facebook, yes, some employees will likely continue to work from home indefinitely. But, as long as the companies are continuing to hire, new employees will eventually take over their desks in the office, until the office becomes just as crowded as it was in 2019.
In the short term, I do expect the number of downtown office commuters to be less in 2021/2022 than 2019, but that will be a temporary phenomenon. It is perfectly reasonable to adjust service on peak-hour express buses in response to a temporary decline in office-worker demand, especially in the midst of a transit funding crisis. When demand returns, the buses can return also (although, for all the reasons RossB said, putting them on Link will still be much more cost-effective). By contrast, multi-billion-dollar construction projects for rail is all about the long-term transit demand over the next 100 years. Whatever effect COVID has is just a temporary blip. By the time Lynnwood Link even opens, let alone West Seattle/Ballard, the COVID-induced ridership drop will be long gone.
1. “Justified” is a vague term. Without some sort of definition, it’s just anti-transit speak.
So, what does “justify” Link’s investment? Would it be 20K or 50K riders on an average weekday? Would it be aggregate travel time savings from those riders? Put a target out there and then it can be discussed.
2. It’s not correct that the mix and type of jobs that we have will mostly shift to be online. There are many jobs that require returning to a work location. Plus, there are many Link trips that are not trips between home and work.
3. The situation of summer 2020 is a mere snapshot for a longer term investment. It’s only been about 6 months of lockdown and rail is an investment for 50-100 years. It’s like saying we don’t need to justify furnaces for homes because the weather hasn’t often pushed them into service for a few months. We may not yet know the ultimate structural ridership decline but we already know that trip-making is coming back. A vaccine would probably make the return much greater.
I also think that the types of jobs in Downtown could change for marketplace reasons. When Sound Moves was passed in 1996, Amazon was a small company that was two years old and not dominating lots of space in Downtown Seattle. Just like the visionaries for Sound Moves and evening ST2 didn’t anticipate Amazon, we don’t yet know what employers will be in Downtown Seattle in 2040.
4. Link is just a part of transit trip-making. A technology like low-speed autonomous station area circulators could result in lots more riders. A technology like flying pods (a la The Jetsons) could reduce ridership.
In sum, Link is justified on many assumptions — and a bit of faith that the future will look reasonably similar to the recent past — and that even if assumptions change the future will bring new opportunities for investors and visionaries to use Link strategically.
“Justified” is a values statement. Facts about ridership and usefulness will never answer the question of whether something is justified or worth the cost or tradeoffs. First you need to articulate the threshold of what you consider justified and why. Is providing a bypass to peak congestion justified? Congestion both on the freeways and downtown? And on arterials like Eastlake, Aurora, and 15th Ave W? What is having good all-day access between Roosevelt, Capitol Hill, Beacon Hill, and SeaTac worth? Did you remember people going to work at 10am and 3pm? Does it count only if you’re riding Link today, or does the fact that Link runs every 10-15 minutes all day and it will be there the day you need it count for something?
Cities like DC, Toronto, Chicago, Cologne, Vancouver, etc, say yes to all of these. They have a robust all-day network of frequent grade-separated transit combined with frequent ubiquidous buses. That makes it easier to get around without a car, and in some of those cities less than half the people have cars. We may not be able to reach that but we should try to get partway.
And all of Link’s excesses and bad station locations don’t erase that. They just make it less able to reach its potential.
Link is about both, and other things too. Political messaging often focuses on peak hours because many Americans can’t think further than that and are oblivious to the number of non-work trips they themselves make and shift work their neighbors do.
All-day service is an attempt to make a network like New York or Chicago where you can travel anytime without a long wait or the limitations of buses on surface streets. In other countries this isn’t even an issue: German cities as small as Spokane have light rail. At that size it’s usually surface like MAX but with a downtown tunnel like Seattle’s DSTT.
Congestion is not just a peak-hour phenomenon. The southbound 41, 512, and 522 get caught in it from 1:30pm to 7:30pm — six hours. So did the 71/72/73X which Link replaced. The northbound 71/72/73X got caught in random traffic jams at least once a week between 7:30am and 10:30am, either in the traffic going to 520 or at the 45th exit or on 45th. And anyone going to the airport had to leave early so they wouldn’t miss their flight if there was a traffic jam.
Link serves off-peak travel spikes like ballgames, parades, and demonstrations. Only high-capacity transit can do that.
That “save a couple minutes to Cap Hill” is also saving a lot of minutes from Beacon Hill to Roosevelt, Columbia City to UW, Othello to SeaTac, and eventually Seattle to Bellevue and Redmond, and from the rest of Seattle to Lake City. The 522 is half-hourly, the 550 trundles through downtown, and no route had Link’s pre-covid frequency for such a long span all the way to 10pm and on Sundays. That’s what the efficiency of a subway gives you: all those overlapping trips both between urban centers, to/from urban centers, and between smaller stations like Capitol Hill and Beacon Hill add up. These would require separate bus routes, and some of them were never even served, or if they were served it was at a lower speed and frequency and may have required a transfer.
Lynnwood Link will allow truncating hundreds of buses a day. That saves energy and air pollution, and allow those buses to be redeployed for more frequent service. It allows their riders to have a reliable, congestion-free way to get to Seattle at all times. And it opens up new travel opportunities to North Seattle that are not well served now. Try getting from Lynnwood to Northgate or Roosevelt or Lake City or Capitol Hill on the existing bus network.
If you look out to Everett, Paine Field, and Tacoma, the off-peak benefits diminish. Link to Everett will still be in the midrange of ST Express and Sounder, but Link to Federal Way and Tacoma will be slower than all existing options. (Other than taking the A or 500, which we have long left behind, thankfully.) These will be lopsided peak, both because of the distance and the nature of those areas and the role of transit in people’s lives there. So your argument makes more sense there. The politicians also have this absurd idea that Link will jump-start their economies and tax base by making those areas attractive to companies and workers. Still, you can’t dismiss all of Link because of this. Link’s effects in the inner areas and outer areas are the opposite in some ways, and they deserve to be treated separately.
Even if the peaks spread out at a lower level, that doesn’t mean they’ll go down to current off-peak levels or that buses can fully serve them easily or congestion will evaporate. In the current covid situation with offices closed, Link’s peak ridership is still twice its off-peak ridership somebody said. My own observation riding Link off-peak and looking through the windows peak hours is that off-peak a half-car may have only six people, while peak hours there are only a few double-seats empty and I get concerned about social distancing and reaching the capacity limit — even if it’s not there, it would take only a few more people to make it so. So Link will still be worthwhile peak hours even if the massive spikes shrink.
“My own observation riding Link off-peak and looking through the windows peak hours is that off-peak a half-car may have only six people”
That was true back in April, but it’s no longer the case. When I last rode Link, around July/August, a 3-foot separation between passengers filled my entire car and, peaking in windows, the other cars were similar. (Fortunately, everyone seemed to be wearing masks). This was a Saturday afternoon. Of course, this is at 30-minute frequency, but even if you divide the load factor by two to account for next week’s service change, that’s still way more than six people per half-car.
Congestion is not just a peak-hour phenomenon.
Very good point. Congestion southbound on I-5 is terrible on weekday afternoons and weekends, when the express lanes reverse themselves. It takes a very long time to get downtown on the 41. It also takes a long time (any time of day) to get to Capitol Hill or the U-District. These will be the biggest Northgate improvements that come from Northgate Link, not peak demand trips to downtown.
Off peak ridership further away from Seattle will certainly be lower under current land use patterns, but both Pierce and Snohomish, particularly with the Paine Field alignment, have explicitly designed their Link projects in anticipation of major changes in land use over the next 20~30 years. For example, downtown Tacoma is planning for an addition 60,000 residents, mostly by extending downtown south & east into Tacoma Dome. Growth of that magnitude should be sufficient to ensure solid all-day demand, regardless of future commute patterns.
What Seattle has done with redeveloping a neighborhood around the Roosevelt station and major upzones in the U-District that probably only happen with the subway station in the middle, will be repeated throughout the region as Link expands, with the intentional, long term goal of supporting ridership through the system that isn’t dependent on Seattle-oriented commuting, while still benefiting from Seattle as the 800 lbs trip generating gorilla at the core of the system.
Link cannot succeed without major changes in the current land use, particularly around the future suburban stations. Will a post-COVID world have slightly different TOD than pre-COIVD? Sure. But the fundamental need for dense, vibrant neighborhoods still remains, both in Seattle and throughout the region. If cities like Tacoma, Lynnwood, and Everett uphold their end of the bargain, Link will be successful.
asdf2, I bet some ridership will come back with the frequency bump, probably some from Metro 7/36/106 but some from people who haven’t been riding transit lately (or maybe at all). Heck, even at 30-minute headways on a Sunday, the 32 we rode was close to its 12-passenger limit today (a little concerning given that Metro is dropping the 31 on Saturdays, but that’s a topic for a different post), so ridership is coming back in general.
I absolutely expect more ridership to come back with the frequency bump.
The “but even if you divide the load factor by two” was simply to say, that even if you decide to be ultra-conservative and say it doesn’t, the Link trains will still be far from empty.
It is a small first step toward remembering history and reminding us we all live on stolen land, from which we have looted the planet’s lungs, that the video mentions the collective Coastal Salish Tribes. The Duwamish Tribe has provided a way to reach them, and a sample acknowledgement:
I would like to acknowledge that we are on the traditional land of the first people of Seattle, the Duwamish People past and present and honor with gratitude the land itself and the Duwamish Tribe.
Snohomish County has a more formal relationship already with the three federally-recognized tribal governments in the county, the Sauk-Suiattle, the Stillaguamish, and the Tulalip tribes. The Tulalip consist of the Snohomish, the people who lived in the Lynnwood area before the Treaty of Point Elliott, the Snoqualmie, and the Skykomish (which don’t seem to have a website, FWIW).
It is weird to see Lynnwood Link progressing nicely while Northgate Link is clearly not done. Last time I checked, there was still no pedestrian bridge over I-5. We could use that now, before the trains are running. Yet it lags the new work to the north. Obviously the bridge will be done long before the trains run to Lynnwood, I just find it irritating that the city screwed up the overpass project for so long, when we could have had it a while ago.
Pedestrian bridge is an SDOT project I believe, so the timeline is completely independent of ST’s Northgate or Lynnwood work.
Lynnwood is having visible progress because it is in heavy civil engineering. Northgate is through that phase and is in the middle of systems installation and testing. Different projects phases. It’s not any different than TDLE going through EIS while FW is barely breaking ground. Or LA’s purple line have all 3 extensions under construction simultaneously, even though they open in different years.
Yeah, like I said, the city screwed it up. If they had done the planning properly, it would be done by now, and folks could use it (even though the trains won’t run for a while).
I agree that the pedestrian bridge should have been completed sooner, but it is now under construction. You can see the approaches, especially on the west side of the freeway.
I drove north on I-5 yesterday and was blown away by the progress on Lynnwood Link. The elevated structure leading to Northgate station seems to be in place, and there are many other elevated structures in place along the route. I only drive north every month or two, so it’s a nice treat to see such progress each time.
I just wrote a Page 2 post, and figured I would mention it (since there hasn’t been a lot of action there lately): https://seattletransitblog.com/2020/09/13/truncate-metro-buses-after-northgate-link/
I appreciate comments.
One notices immediately that the remaining express routes will be ones to First Hill. I happen to be critical of continuing these expresses, rather than having well-timed shuttles (and, yeah, the streetcar) meeting riders as they depart Capitol Hill Station to head to their essential non-telecommuting jobs around First Hill.
Your argument is more of a conservative tear-them-down argument unless you flesh out the last-mile connection between CHS and the various major essential-to-be-there employers. I would suggest 1) an express to Harborview/Swedish or more short 60s; and 2) a semi-express to Cherry Hill via Broadway, or re-configuring route 49 to terminate on Cherry Hill. Sorry, I don’t know where all the trolley wire is.
As for any surviving South Lake Union expresses, they appear to be doomed for the time being.
Yeah, what Sam said. Please repeat the comment over on Page 2, and I will respond.
Brent, “Doomed” lets forces like the Convention Center escape the blame they deserve for crippling express rush hour service for thousands of passengers on Routes 41 and 255. For how many months if not years?
KC Metro Security and sheriff’s deputies could have forcibly kept at least one lane through the sunken space that was formerly CPS staging open to buses while a lawsuit on the part of transit made its way through rush hour traffic to the State Supreme Court.
But in addition to buses, both streetcars and their high-speed descendants share the one quality most critical to The Times We’re Living In: Flexibility. By the minute if necessary, let alone the year or the shake-up.
The Nordic countries call it “spårvagn” (“SPORE-vang”) for meaning “Tracked Carriage”. My own definition of Light Rail is its ability, when it’s strongly necessary, to handle the curve radii of streetcar track. As well as freeway-comparable speeds. Portland Max perfect example.
Our choice of this caliber of trains gives could give a regional electric rail system the ability to buy property far enough out of town to be reasonably-priced, and create free-standing residential communities. Fitted out for streetcars as naturally as subdivisions have always been for automobiles.
And connected to Link main corridors by existing “spurs” whose industries died with the sawmills and factories that preceded the meth/opioid boom that so well complements today’s private prisons right now.
Have to add, though, that given the way those Tunnel buses were being operated since opening day, the Convention Center people could honestly have considered it humane euthanasia.
Which the evil little deity I call COVIDIA refers to as “Everything Pre-Pandemic.” Cluttered though the future may appear right now, she’s really handed us a blank slate. Which based on what regulars like you are observing and writing, we certainly can handle.
flesh out the last-mile connection between CHS and the various major essential-to-be-there employers
During rush hour, the 60 runs every fifteen minutes, the streetcar runs every twelve minutes and the 9 runs every half hour. So that is a combined 11 trips an hour. That is good, but not great.
If I wanted to improve things for First Hill, I would probably run a bus like so: https://goo.gl/maps/Xz1D6YMxhi8E6xSU6. The bus would run opposite the streetcar, which means every 12 minutes, from 6:00 to 9:00 AM, and 4:00-7:00 PM. It would do a live loop on the northern end, and be fairly cheap to run. It would run both directions, and create 6 minute headways for Broadway (along with occasional 60 and 9).
I’m not sure that such a route is a great value. It is quite possible that I could just increase the frequency of the 60. The point being, either one — or just about any improvement — would be a better value than these proposed express routes.
Eventually the greater Central Area routes should be restructured, to deal with RapidRide G, and to a lesser extent, Judkins Park station. At that point, the 49 could be combined with the 60 (while avoiding the detour to the hospital).
Thanks for doing a Page 2. It’s been a long time since someone’s done one. I think Ross meant if people want to comment on his Page 2 piece, to do it at Page 2, not here.
When watching this post’s Lynnwood Link video on YouTube, I noticed this video in the recommended videos section. Virtual commutes: Link light rail (sped up). Angle Lake Station to University of Washington Station. There’s also a real time version, but that takes 54 minutes to watch.
Cool, although it gets a bit boring when it goes underground (Oooh, a tunnel, unlike any other tunnel in the world :) ).
Hey, don’t forget the cards…… They are a Beacon to humanity…..
Y’know some people prefer tunnels because they’re a break from the endless glaring brightness of sunlight…which there really is more of here than most people want to admit.
Like its predecessor about the Bellevue subway, I wish Sound Transit would pull this video and re-issue it with the motion slowed down so there’s some point in looking at it.
Not only am I getting no usable information, but I’m sensing gleeful approval of getting something done that thoughtlessly fast. Any chance the West Seattle Freeway was built in exactly that frame of mind?
I would also like to hear from people descended from and knowledgeable about the previous owners mentioned as to what degree they were encouraged and invited to participate in the project.
And also, a comparison between their monetary compensation and that received by people, companies, and interests of other ethnicity. But to me, previous paragraph takes precedence.
I’m not saying “Trash this and forget it.” Just the opposite. In one sentence, the Spirit of this piece is praise for the value of “Smarts.” Let’s have it re-done to present, personify, and honor, for a change, some Wisdom.
You can watch the real time version and in Youtube settings slow the playback speed to one quarter. That should provide some ability to give you what you seek.
Would STB ever consider having a transit photo contest? Someone would pick a topic. Then, photographers would have a month to take and submit photos. No previously taken photos. Only new photos taken after the announcement of the contest are eligible. Not sure what the prize should be.
The last couple days have had the lowest I’ve experienced since I left San Francisco 2 years ago. Stay safe everyone, because I can’t.
And in unusual sightings, I just saw an artic on the 60.
And major clarification. “Being operated” was “‘way out of bounds.”
In a transit effort the like of which at least the twentieth century had never seen, the only reason DSTT didn’t end up sold for underground parking was the way was that a generation of drivers, many brand new to the trade itself, personally and collectively MADE the thing work at all.
They weren’t the ones who pulled the plug on the signal system that could really have turned buses that could not be coupled, into the equivalent of four to six car trains. And neither was it any signature of theirs that consigned them to equipment that was definition “Nonresponsive.”
Whose accelerator-pedal linkages did the same thing to our own right knee-joints as the rest of the bus did to every foot of pavement that miserable fleet rolled over. This is what the past is for. An educational reliquary for what we had better not ever again allow to blight any future that we’re passing along.
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