Pierce County ferries @ Steilacoom ferry terminal
Pierce County Ferries (LB Bryce/Flickr)

This is an open thread.

58 Replies to “News roundup:the difference”

    1. I like several of Metro’s round 3 changes. The 45 on 85th is back; no diverting to 80th. The successful 65/67 is retained. The idea of through-routing the 75/45 is interesting. It enables different connectivity across the U-District, and given that the 45 is successful, it’s probably a good idea. I worry a bit about 45/75 reliability, but it’s probably better than the existing 31/32/75 reliability.

      I’m disappointed at the 62 returning to Tangletown. I was hoping to get rid of that slow and backtracking routing. Latona reverts to the 26 (Northgate-UDistrict). I guess the two routes are OK because I was also concerned about Latona’s jogs affecting the 62. I guess we should stick to the status quo if there’s no clearly better solution.

      Likewise, through-routing the 74/79 (serving 55th and 75th streets) seems better than the alternatives Metro had concocted.

      The local routes in Lake City and Shoreline seem reasonable. I only have a limited understanding of Shoreline’s travel patterns. The 522 to Roosevelt will be excellent.

      I’m undecided on the downtown/First Hill/SLU peak expresses. On the one hand, they suck up service hours, and SLU’s ridership may be depressed for a while. On the other hand, I wouldn’t want anyone to have to take the 2, 3, 4, or 12 to First Hil or Cherry Hill. They’re extremely slow peak hours. RapidRide G may be a godsend at least for the 2 and 12, maybe not for Harborview and Swedish Cherry Hill, And there is that streetcar thing that’s supposed to serve First Hill from Capitol Hill Station, so maybe it’s a good enough alternative?

      1. One option that could be considered is to use buses to increase the effective peak-hour frequency of the First Hill Streetcar, as an alternative to running First Hill->Northgate express buses. Basically, you have buses running the streetcar route, stopping at all the streetcar stops, with the words “First Hill Streetcar” on the headsign. By alternating every trip between a real streetcar and a bus, you achieve 6-minute peak headways. Not only does this reduce the wait time. It also benefits everyone getting to First Hill from further north, whereas the Northgate->First Hill express bus only benefits people coming from Northgate, leaving Roosevelt or the U-district out in the cold, without an additional express bus to First Hill.

        Supplementing a “streetcar” route with peak-hour buses, as an alternative to peak-hour express buses, is an example of out-of-the-box thinking that Metro should be willing to consider.

      2. I was hoping to get rid of that slow and backtracking routing (of the 62).

        I’m not giving up — I have it in my proposal. If that isn’t possible, I would have the 62 run on 65th, and turn on Woodlawn. That would save some time, and improve coverage. Either way I get rid of the 26. It is hard to see why we keep the 26 (and 73), but kill off the 61. That makes no sense.

        I’m undecided on the downtown/First Hill/SLU peak expresses.

        There is a post about that very subject — https://seattletransitblog.com/2020/09/13/truncate-metro-buses-after-northgate-link/. I would appreciate you copying the comment. It is much easier to find a discussion that way.

        For example, asdf2’s suggestion is pretty much exactly the same as a suggestion I made, on that post (https://seattletransitblog.com/2020/09/13/truncate-metro-buses-after-northgate-link/#comment-857200) as well as another open thread (I can’t find that comment).

      3. I’ll keep that in mind but I wasn’t referring to a particular post. I was referring to the general issue of truncating expresses, which I knew you’d say but I hadn’t read your new article yet. And now I see you posted two articles within two days; so I didn’t realize there were two, and read only the September 15th one.

  1. Here’s something weird about Metro’s September service change. While Seattle is losing much of its 10-minute frequent service, Metro is adding service to the
    RapidRide A-Line to support social distancing. For the first time ever, it will run every 10 minutes 7 days/week (previously it ran every 15 off-peak & weekends). Even weirder, on weekdays 10 minute frequency runs until 6pm, but on Saturdays and Sundays, 10 minute frequency runs until 10pm.

    1. Not sure if the link to the map labels the Blue Ginger restaurant, but it does show Bellevue Thai Kitchen. That’s where the apts will go. On the left side, you can see the East Link line, although the closest station will be about 3/4 mile away. The nearest bus line to the future apts will be the 249, which is currently cut.

      1. Certainly much worse than the perennial favorite target of complaint of Ballard station at 14th Ave. As RossB mentions, though, it is likely that this area will get better transit once all the development is in place. Most of the 249 ridership is between South Kirkland and Overlake, so hopefully at least that section will get good transit (again) soon.

    2. I would guess that the buses in the area will be rerouted once Link gets there. I think there is the possibility of better bus service through there once that happens.

    3. Yes, the Blue Ginger is labeled in the southeast quarter of 140th & 20th. I’ve never been on Bel-Red or 20th much because of the lack of transit. When I lived in Bellevue you had to walk from 8th Street. Later there was a daytime-only coverage route on 20th but when I went to an after-work user group meeting on 20th it was after the last run. My knowledge of Bel-Red is there’s a Safeway there, and 20th that it was the center of computer-tech jobs and retailers. And 140th is a nice way to drive from Bellevue to Kirkland because it’s woodsy and few stoplights.

      There will doubtless be a frequent bus on Bel-Red Road, replacing the current coverage route. I assume Bel-Red will be the main transit corridor because it goes more directly to downtown Bellevue and has higher density on the west side. It may go on Spring Blvd in that area to get closer to the Link station and midrises. Is the Link station at 130th & Spring Blvd? In the map it looks like the track starts just west of that point.

      So when Sam moves to the penthouse of the 400-unit apartment, when he’s not using his helicopter, he’ll have an I’d say less than 15 minute walk to Bel-Red Station. How soon will the Safeway plaza be redeveloped? That will hopefully allow a diagonal walk to the station, shortening the distance. Otherwise Sam will have a frequent bus to downtown Bellevue and Overlake (Village) and can choose any of the Link stations along it as his favorite.

      1. 140th north gets you more to Redmond than Kirkland but really more to a no man’s land which is why it’s not a heavy traffic route.

        Safeway on 140th & Bel-Red would be easy walking distance. Up/down hill you’ve got FM.

        20th/Northup really should have a decent bus route. There’s enough already built or in the planning stage that a connector between RTS and S Kirkland P&R should exist. The at grade crossing there is one of the legacy stupid East Link decisions. I think it got baked in because ST was pushing the NW corner as a potential OMF-E location. And that location, as was the FM parcel a red herring.

    4. If the bus does go on Spring Blvd, will there be an awkward turn at 136th Place, where the map seems to show the street curving north, then you’d turn left to curve south again. Or is that just a temporary illusion of the construction state? Would it be a direct route from 140th to 116th, and not excessively slow? I walk on 12th and I see a T-junction to Spring Blvd, which is usually closed for construction. I don’t remember exactly where it is, between 116th and Lake Bellevue? The map shows a road ending just north of there, which I assume was an earlier phase of construction.

      1. Not sure. But 3/4 mile is a short enough distance that walking will be faster than waiting for a bus. Especially a bus that only runs every half hour or so.

  2. The scooter company Wheels is going to be renting sit down, full throttle scooters, which are really just motorcycles. Yet, Seattle thinks it a good idea to allow these on trails and bike lanes, plus there’s a handful of people (investors?) advocating to allow motorized scooters on sidewalks, in addition to these monstrosities.

    Since common sense seems to have died 2020, I can only hope, for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, that Wheels and the other equally slimy and dangerous scooter rental companies go bankrupt before the initial pilot is over.

  3. The headline for the Fremont Bridge piece is odd as only one partial transit lane is proposed by the Greenways group. The “s” could be deleted. The diagram implies that northbound transit would in a single general purpose lane. Southbound transit would share a lane with bikes. Note that routes 40 and 62 use different lanes at the south end of the bridge to reach Westlake and Dexter avenues North, respectively.

    1. The problem is that the Fremont bridge is only wide enough for 4 car-sized lanes, plus two narrow sidewalks. If a protected bike lane is going to be added, a two-way bikeway has about the width of one car lane, leaving just 3 car-lane-widths remaining.

      If one car lane in each direction needs to be maintained, that leaves room for an exclusive transit lane in only one direction. In general, it makes sense for this direction to be northbound because every northbound bus that crosses the Fremont bridge needs to be in the right lane in order to serve the Fremont/34th bus stop. Southbound, you’ve got the 31/32 that need to be in the right lane to turn onto Nickerson, while the 40 needs to be in the left lane to turn onto Westlake and the 62 needs to be in the center lane to reach Dexter. So, wherever you build a southbound bus lane, only one bus route would be able to actually use it. Hence, putting the bus lane in the northbound direction offers better value to transit riders. Of course, even in the southbound direction, buses can and should get a bus lane leading up to the bridge. For example, the right-hand lane in the block of Fremont Ave. between 34th and 35th should absolutely be bus/right-turn only.

      1. SDOT should not degrade transit flow. It is bad enough. SDOT made progress when the parallel parking was removed from Fremont Avenue North between North 34th and 35th streets.

  4. Just curious, is there anyone here who can afford to buy an electric scooter, and think it could be useful to you at times, but you decided against purchasing one? What were your reasons against buying one?

    1. I’ll bite…

      Not sure it was a decision to “not” buy one as much as the absence of a decision “to” buy one, if that makes sense. My default is always to not buy vehicles but rather rely on existing public transit or walking as much as possible. The main reasons I do _that_ are enjoying the time I can ride a bus or train and read or people watch, and (especially with something like a scooter or a motorcycle) the more difficult safety enforcement given there are very many bad drivers around. The latter is an issue as a pedestrian, too (to give an example from your area, not sure if you’ve ever walked along Bellevue Way SE at night, it’s not… ideal, to say the least) but I feel a little more in control as a pedestrian because my own speed is lower and I have a lot more experience.

      Hope this helps.

    2. I general, I find an e-bike to be a more comfortable ride than an e-scooter, but the scooter option is more portable, which can be useful if you want to carry the scooter on transit and ride it at the other end.

      For both bikes and scooters, buying your own is far cheaper, over the long term, than renting them on demand.

    1. The Feds appear to require a minimum of four years, and PSRC is doing the minimum. Washington State requires each city to do a six-year TIP (as stated in some local TIPs).

      Of course, with so many funding sources having specific projects and amounts attached to them, the TIP concept is relegated to mostly “bookkeeping” functionality on the part of PSRC since they rarely have their own projects, while cities seem to pay more attention to their TIP as a budgeting tool. It appears that the state legislature could require six years for an MPO TIP if they wanted.

      If PSRC was given a dedicated funding source to collect and allocate (some MPO’s do oversee HOT lane and toll bridge revenue, for example), a six-year program would be more applicable. However, our region seems to view PSRC as a reporting bureaucracy rather than a strategic budgeting agency. Since that is the view, four years is unfortunately sufficient.

      1. Thanks for the explanation, Al S. I also agree with your statement about the PSRC:
        “However, our region seems to view PSRC as a reporting bureaucracy rather than a strategic budgeting agency.”
        Frankly, I don’t see a lot of (regional) value added by the current structure and the current role the agency serves.

        One additional tidbit…
        Counties that are covered by the GMA (including those that have opted in) also utilize the 6-year TIP format.

  5. Will miss Paul Denison, but let’s make Mr. Shetty welcome. Really good thing, though, that the diesel engines still powering hybrid buses can now burn a lot of other things besides oil.

    Mark Dublin

  6. Does anyone have the inside scoop? Did Mr. Denison wish to step down from the head ops position or was he passed over as the permanent guy going forward? I think this would be the third ST top management position to change over in the last two years IIRC.

    1. I believe Suraj is replacing Bonnie Todd, not Paul Denison. Paul runs Link ops, Suraj will be running overall ops if I’m reading the press release correctly. Paul is returning to his “previous role,” so my guess is Bonnie had left some time earlier and Paul was covering until the role was filled permanently.

      No idea if Paul was a candidate for the permanent position.

      1. Thanks, AJ. Lack of clarity’s a little irritating, but perfect symbol for the times. Also don’t expect anybody’s tenure in any position will be anywhere near permanent.

        For personnel and operations both, flexibility’s the watchword. In addition to a good sense of humor.
        Only quarter where neither of those things hold, though, is the number of traffic accidents.

        On city streets, people are driving much too fast, period. Drivers’ licenses are also issued with much too little attention to car-handling competence. Am I right that in Europe, a license is just a lot harder to get? If so, we need to “take a leaf.”

        Pretty sure also that for both the right to drive and the right to own a firearm, this country’s founders would’ve made the “right” conditional on a lot more ability and training than is now common practice.

        Also think dashboard design needs some serious correctional regulation. Trained to handle a sixty foot bus with a microphone in one hand, my own suspicion is that the industries that sell dashboard readouts out-lobbied the cell phone companies as to who gets undeservedly fined.

        Those misplaced eyes aren’t on the phone. They’re on every single buttonless touch-screen, controlling everything from channel to radio volume to cabin temperature. Without tactile feedback, you just have to look ’til the crash wakes you up.

        Word to both the industry and my lawmakers:
        Just bring back the buttons and nobody gets hurt. Capiche? Since they’ll be the new “latest!” you can even charge extra for them.

        Mark Dublin

  7. Redmond trails. When the smoke lifts I want to explore the trails from downtown Redmond more. I’ve walked the Sammamish River Trail and earlier I biked it. There’s also the recently-improved trail to Issaquah and several northeast of downtown. Which of these are the most interesting and also relatively flat? How long does it take to walk from the 545 to the 554?

    1. I’ve done it. Plan for around 4-5 hours. It’s all flat.

      Just beware that once you start, you’re committed to either finishing or turning around, as there is zero transit along East Lake Sammamish Parkway.

    2. The trail on the east side of Lake Sammamish is super flat. Goes all the way to Lake Sammamish state park, though check because KC has been closing segments to make improvements. I wouldn’t say it is ‘interesting’ because it’s the same view the whole way, but it is very nice & enjoyable for biking or walking.

      1. You can take the Sammamish River Trail go Woodinville and catch the 522. Or, at 145th St., you can cut over to the Tolt Pipeline and reach the 239.

        The Bridlecrest trail is another one to try. You can take that west, out of Marymore park, most of the way to Kirkland.

      2. I found it and other trails on alltrails.com, although I could only see a few trails before it started demanding an account. It mentioned the 520 trail, which I’ve never seen. How much of it is built out?

      3. The 520 trail is the least-steep way (but still plenty of climbing) to get up the hill from downtown Redmond to Microsoft. It’s a great route in a bike, but, on foot, I don’t recommend it. You’re alongside the freeway the entire way, plus you have to worry about speeding bikes in the downhill direction.

        On foot, the best way I find up the hill is go take the Sammamish River Trail to Marymore Park. Cross West Lake Samm Parkway at the park entrance (be prepared to wait several minutes to cross the street, as the light treats you like dirt if you’re not in a car), then go up the hill through an unnamed forest trail. It comes out in a park off 156th Ave. Head north to 60th and turn west, continuing across highway 520. The bridlecrest trail picks up on the other side and continues to 132nd Ave., where it opens into Bridle Trails State Park. After meandering through the park, you can eventually come out at the corner of 60th St./116th Ave., where there is a pedestrian bridge over I-405. From there, you can head down the hill and either catch the 255 at 108th Ave. or keep going down 60th to the CKC.

        The one stoplight coming out of Marymore Park is obnoxious. But, that’s pretty much it. The only other light you hit all the way to Kirkland is crossing 148th, and that light is much more pedestrian friendly – there is a beg button, but once you press it, the light changes almost immediately.

    3. OK, what about Woodinville? Somebody said Woodinville has a nice downtown somewhere. Where is it? I’ve been to the 522’s terminus, which depressed me horribly because I thought that was the closest to a downtown Woodinville had. (Why else would the 522 terminate there?) And I’ve been to the big ballfield on the Sammamish River Trail. Where is old Woodinville in relation to those, and is it worth visiting?

      1. Mike, the old 307 used to go right through downtown Woodinville, but congestion there affected reliability too badly, so ST changed the routing when they started the 522 to go around downtown on SR 522. Meanwhile, Metro also rerouted most of its service in other ways for similar reasons. The downtown is centered around NE 175th St and the only bus that actually still goes through it is the 311. It’s an overstatement to call it “nice” but it is a downtown, more than you can tell from standing at the P&R.

  8. Suraj has management experience but I don’t see any transit experience. Doesn’t ST think that Transit Operations may be the most important department to have a director with experience with the issues/challenges facing transit operations? How can they generate good ideas without that? Is there a plan to ensure Suraj gets that experience now, and some familiarity with what other transit-operations agencies do, both in the US and especially internationally (which is a blind spot of ST and US transit agencies in general)?

    1. Yeah, I noticed that as well and I find it rather concerning. His background seems filled with inventory/production management types of roles. Additionally, he has no transit-related operations experience, nor any experience in the public sector for that matter. Honestly, while I’ll give ST the benefit of the doubt for now regarding the hire, I am not terribly impressed with the resume.

      1. Mike and Tlsgwm, I really wish I’d known that Paul Denison was still around. Sound Transit owes him a lot, including its continued operating existence.

        If I wasn’t so scared of Zoom and everything like it, I’d try for an interview with him for STB. The man’s perspective, a total treasure chest. Since he’s probably working from home now, guess there’s no harm in calling ST to see if I can at least drop him an e-mail.

        Thanks, everybody, for letting me know he’s still here. Any contact would mean a lot to me.

        Mark Dublin

    1. Having driven by the real Surrey Downs, I can’t help but having some amount of sympathy for the local residents. Besides having to endure years of construction, they lost all the trees shielding their backyards from 112th Ave. because it would have been an unthinkable affront to King Car for Sound Transit have taken lanes from 112th instead.

      On top of this, the East Main St. station layout appears to be design to make it as awkward as possible for local Surrey Downs residents to access the station. Looking at the plans and what I see on the road, it looks like the station is going to be fenced in 3 out of 4 cardinal directions, with the only access to the north side, even though the north end of the station is a good 500 feet or so south of the actual 112th/Main intersection. So, anybody coming from the southeast (the hotel) or southwest (the neighborhood) has to walk all the way to the north to Main St. and double-back south again. There’s a park immediately southwest of the station, for which cutting through could/should be an excellent access method. Unfortunately, the fencing between the station and the park is looking permanent, leaving the park and the homes to the other side of the park needlessly cut off.

      What does it take to get through Sound Transit’s thick skin that the basic design of every light rail station should include pedestrian access to/from all four directions – the north, south, east, and west. Artificially turning riders away with needless fencing accomplishes nothing.

      1. You will be able to access the station from all 4 directions. Access from the west will be the most limited, via the north terminus of 111th Ave SE. Coming from the east, there will be a new ‘midblock’ crosswalk installed (hard to tell exactly but I think it will line up with the Hilton driveway?), so your point about SE access is incorrect. For the platforms themselves, riders will be able to enter at both ends, consistent with every other surface level station in the system.

        There’s a lot to debate about Bellevue Way vs 112th, and elevated, surface, or tunnel alignment between East Main & Downtown Bellevue. But given a 112th alignment, I find the station design itself very unremarkable.

        If you are at S Angeline Street in Columbia city, are you outraged you need to walk south to Edmunds before you can enter the station? If you are at 5 star laundry, are you upset you can’t go out the back of the building to access Othello station directly and instead have to walk around the shopping center to Othello street? Limiting access to the station to only the endpoints, and limiting street crossing to the nearest crosswalk, is good design that balances convenient with safety.

    2. All I’m saying is, if you live in Seattle, and you want to scream about single family home neighborhoods that are next to light rail lines, you don’t have to go all the way out to the suburbs for your example.

      1. The houses are on smaller lots, on smaller blocks, with a more complete street grid. All that makes the neighborhood more walkable and allows more families to live in the same-sized neighborhood, and is more efficient for transit to serve. The neighborhood is not founded or dominated by people who are too rich to take transit, or at most take it only for work and ballgames and jury duty, or who moved to the neighborhood knowing it had little transit and they’d have to walk most of the time. A closer comparison to Surrey Downs would be parts of Magnolia or Madison Park or, for something adjacent to an urban center, Northgate (e.g., Meridian Ave N between Northgate Way and Haller Lake).

      2. There are similarities. But there are non-single family zoned areas by every Rainier Valley station. South Bellevue Station is completely surrounded by a single family zone (or a greenbelt). Rainier Valley single family zones also have higher density, which probably explains why there are more stations in the valley. There are still big gaps between stations, but not like there are in South Bellevue.

      3. There was going to be a station at SE 8th Street but it was moved to Main Street.

        If Sam is just concerned about single-family blocks near Link stations and urban villages, then I agree, Seattle has far too many single-family areas right next to Link stations and urban villages. I would upzone those the same way I’d upzone Surrey Downs. But the fact still remains that Rose Street is denser and has a more urban layout than Surrey Downs, so its single-family land use is half as bad.

  9. And for Suraj and everybody else, the New Normal, which nobody should be mean enough to keep on calling “Ab”, could be that for the foreseeable future, we’re all temps.

    Which could actually be the only setup that’ll give the recovery the flexibility it’s going to need above all else. Just a thought.

    Mark Dublin

    1. I think it is a mistake to try and change neighborhoods and neighborhood zoning, and the American Dream of a single family home, to support transit.

      Density is a myth when it comes to global warming, sprawl or equity, sold by ST and the Master Builder’s Assoc. Density should not be a goal to substantiate transit.

      One of my favorite sayings is money can move. Families, if they can afford it, are not going to live in tall, dense apartments with no yard or dog or parking in a neighborhood in which every lot — even 5000 sf– can have three separate legal dwellings and up to 13 unrelated tenants without a tree, without requiring the property owner (who lives in Medina) to live on the property.

      Unless of course the recent zoning changes are to get the last of the residents in the single family neighborhoods (unless they live in Mayor Durkan’s gated community with restrictive covenants or are part of the 21% of parents who send their kids to private K-12 schools) to move to the eastside.

      I think some on this blog think transit is the primary societal goal. Begin with transit, and all the rest will follow. That transit is somehow moral. I think transit is a subsidized public good to support society, not change it, primarily for those who must rely on transit. No one really wants to take transit if they can avoid it.

      Although I thought the PSRC’s 2050 Vision Statement had exaggerated population growth estimates considering King Co. has lost net citizens the last two years (before Covid-19), what the PSRC did recognize is most future population growth will occur in Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish Counties, not King. Although the Sound Cities Assoc. will be debating whether to recommend adoption of the 2050 Vision Statement, I can’t see how any of the assumptions are still valid after Covid-19, and the likely working from home changes, which will drastically shift revenue from Seattle to the suburbs, and devastate transit ridership.

      Some of that projected future population growth in counties other than King might be due to housing costs, but mostly is because that is where a family can afford a single family home.

      The great irony is HB 1923 — which Seattle’s recent residential zoning mirrors — ended up creating greater sprawl and density in rural areas than cities because once it became voluntary all the suburban cities the MBA coveted balked, while all the rural councils that had been battling for years under the GMA to upzone their rural lands jumped on the chance to increase legal dwellings from 1 to 3 on every rural lot zoned residential. And of course now we see Snohomish Co. petitioning to amend the GMA to allow greater development and density on rural lands. What a total frickin environmental disaster, courtesy of the Master Builder’s Assoc. and Forterra.

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