Amtrak Cascades Heading North Under A Skagit Sunset

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66 Replies to “News roundup: Stream”

  1. Light rail was the key to addressing a problem that planners here have been fixating on for three decades: getting a sufficient number of bodies to and from employers’ office worksites daily. The key assumption was that each job required a daily commute, and that there would be a massive number of new jobs so all those daily commutes had to be kept of fairly short duration. Light rail alone dangled the promise of mass transport of the bodies in a timely manner that elected officials were being told employers would need at their worksites “for a full day’s work, M – F.”

    The regional growth strategy here was born 30 years ago. That’s when the Puget Sound counties’ began their implementation of the GMA. That implementation was driven by long term regional job and population projections, and it took the form locally of Seattle’s massive upzones in pockets that would be served by frequent transit. The pandemic and the lockdown orders created a set of new realities that have rendered obsolete, and essentially-harmful, the land use and transpo planning here. Remote working – not even on the radar as a possibility for many workers until six months ago — severed the three key assumptions underlying the long term planning from all the local players: the state (the GMA, etc.), the PSRC, and local governments (comprehensive plans, zoning, rail facilities siting, etc.).

    What are the three key assumptions that many workers remote working much of each month rendered false, destroying the utility and potential beneficial qualities of how land use and transpo planning is done around here? First, employers won’t need to provide office worksites near transit for nearly the projected numbers of employees because that work is, and will continue to be, performed in many peoples’ homes most of the time. Second, the rail transit demand forecasts are far too high – daily commutes to and from offices near light rail stations won’t be a part of nearly the numbers of jobs forecast to be in the “growth centers” of this region over the next several decades. Third, although people may live in the exceedingly dense residential housing built (and to come on line over the next several years) near light rail stations, they won’t need to use that rail for a daily commute.

    1. WFH was a crisis response to the pandemic and it will surely be part of the future of business structures, but it’s laughable to claim that after 6 months WFH has practically eliminated the work commute. The lockdowns and the coronavirus temporarily eliminated the work commute and also eliminated many jobs, but I’m skeptical that WFH will be the dominant norm in the future.

      The business world is hyper-competitive but during the last 6 months businesses have focused only on their survival during the pandemic crisis. Once the pandemic passes, the companies that have survived will be focused on growing their operations and providing new products within a very different business landscape. Remote work will be part of the future but I’ll wait a few years to see how businesses innovate and adapt before I’ll declare the commute is dead.

      The WFH movement has shown that it isn’t environmentally friendly. Energy use has spiked due to WFH and the amount of residential trash has risen by 20-25% since WFH started. There are also serious equity issues involved with WFH that disadvantage Black and Brown communities and families with child care needs.

      My employer switched to WFH on March 11th and while I appreciated the chance to get my laundry done while “at work”, I also often had to attend to the needs of a 3 year old whose mom had lost her daycare provider. I’m now on a hybrid schedule of some days at home and some days on-site. Productivity is much higher and we’re moving out of a crisis/survival mindset and into a “new normal” mindset.

      There are lots of questions about what the future will look like, but looking into a crystal ball and declaring light rail obsolete indicates that there’s something wrong with the crystal ball–not with light rail.

      1. “it’s laughable to claim that after 6 months WFH has practically eliminated the work commute.”

        Weekday Link light rail use is down ~83%, and the only reason Metro ridership only is down ~62% is it’s fare free (when the MTA began imposing fares six weeks ago its ridership dropped 22%).

        ” looking into a crystal ball and declaring light rail obsolete indicates that there’s something wrong with the crystal ball–not with light rail.”

        Government planners here consistently overestimated Link ridership. The estimate for 2019 boardings was 29M and the number came in at 24.5M. The boardings this year will be maybe 25% of the forecast. What’s important is whether the long term forecasts are reasonable. The output of Sound Transit’s rail demand forecast model last was provided to the public in 2019, and it showed strong year-over-year growth for the next four decades (beginning with that hoped-for-but-unrealized 28M boardings estimate). For a variety of reasons tech and admin and finance employers in the Puget Sound region aren’t going to demand nearly the number of workers make daily commutes to worksites near light rail stations as Sound Transit uses in its forecasts. If the light rail ridership won’t be nearly as massive as projected — and it won’t — the primary, secondary, and tertiary justifications for the ST3 buildout no longer exist, rendering those plans harmful to the households who are targeted for the decades of heavy sales taxes.

      2. “Weekday Link light rail use is down ~83%”

        During the pandemic. Many businesses are still closed to keep the virus from spreading. Link’s infrequency makes people choose other transportation modes or forego trips, so you can’t count that as “People don’t want to ride Link”.

        If Link’s ridership returns to 75% or 50%, we still need it. The extraordinarily fast growth of the 2010s was never likely to continue forever, so if we return to slower growth, it will be back to a 2000s or 1990s trajectory. When ST2 passed in 2008, there was no inkling of the unprecedented growth rate we’d have in a few years, yet people still thought Link expansion was worthwhile.

        If you’re concerned about the Everett, Tacoma, and DSTT2 expansions as being superfluous, then say that directly and focus on that; don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

        Somebody said ST is in denial about the major cuts it will have to make. ST is deliberating that right now; it just takes a long time to go through the bureaucracy. And a decision isn’t needed immediately. ST3 won’t start construction until 2025, so there’s still a couple years before contracts have to be signed. The funding gap is in the 10-20% range, not 50% or 75%. So ST can simply postpone everything 5 years like in its default alternative, or trim 10% from selected projects. None of that requires panicking now or canceling projects this year or keeping frequency at a low 15-30 minutes.

      3. And when was that 83% figure? Was it in April or May or in September? September’s number can’t be out yet. Most of that loss is peak hours. It’s natural to reduce peak service if the surge shrinks or disappears. But people are still riding Link off-peak, and I doubt ridership then is off 83%. Some of the loss is because of Link’s infrequency. I want a 10-minute baseline frequency, and whatever additional peak frequency is necessary. And ST hasn’t explained how it will accommodate riders if trains reach their covid-limited capacity, as they inevitably will, both peak hours and on some afternoons.

      4. Anecdotally, Link ridership is up substantially in July/August (when I last rode it) compared to April/May, albeit still not at the level it was before COVID.

        April/May, I had a whole car nearly to myself. July/August, there were enough people that, spaced 3-4 feet apart, filled the entire car.

        I’m expecting slow but steady gradual improvement as things re-open.

      5. Just some context….

        The recently-released Q2 report is here.

        https://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/documents/2020-q2-service-delivery-performance-report.pdf

        Link was down 81% and Sounder was down almost 92%.

        Oddly, the report has this note: “ Sound Transit is in the process of migrating to a new technology which it uses to track many of its Link performance statistics. The equipment being replaced has not been able to provide reliable performance statistics since the start of 2020. However, once the new technology is deployed, Sound Transit will be able to report monthly performance statistics going back to January 2020.”

        It’s worth noting that students are often the second highest share of ridership in most systems and schools were closed in Q2. Link has carried lots of students to UW, Seattle Central and Franklin HS. Its also worth noting that the Link decline was less than the Sounder decline, demonstrating how Link is carrying more than commuters as Sounder mostly does.

        Q2 was the heart of the pandemic. The populace was less familiar with the precautions needed and feared using transit more. That Link decline is almost certainly rebounded to be in the 60% to 75% range by now.

        Finally, let’s not confuse peak times with daily volumes. The peak service of Sounder decreased the most. That suggests that non-peak demand fell less than peak demand. However, ST proposes a 20 percent decrease in pre-COVID peak service (from 10 trains an hour in one direction to 8) and a 33 percent in midday service (6 trains an hour in one direction to 4).

      6. Q, don’t you have to write a Pedophile Pizzeria Post? We appreciate you deigning to think of us, but we wouldn’t want you to miss a deadline that might cause Killary and Sleepy Joe to slip the net. First things first. Priorities.

    2. Like I’ve been saying, Anon, thing about the emerging “Gig” economy is that anybody with a laptop can take advantage of the swift mobility offered by Link to work wherever they want. Essentiality’s got wire overhead and steel wheels. And being stuck in traffic’s now a choice, not a fate. Welcome aboard.

      Mark Dublin

    3. You’re oversimplifying Link’s purposes, and you’re making wild assumptions about what work will be like in five or twenty years. Link’s purpose is to be a primary circulation system throughout the day. 75% of trips are not work commutes; they’re trips to the store, library, gym, church, children’s activities, medical appointments,. nightlife, visiting relatives and friends, etc.

      Other countries don’t question the need for this. Duesseldorf is Seattle’s size and it has light rail like MAX but with a downtown tunnel. I as a visitor took a bus from the suburb I was staying at, and then took the subway because the train ticket office was at another subway station. From an S-Bahn window I saw a light rail line paralleling it for closer stop spacing, a kind of express/local service. And that bus I took, it has since been replaced by another light rail line. Another city, Bielefeld, where a college friend was from and the size of Spokane, got light rail in the early 1990s. Those cities believe in a complete transportation network, and that includes having robust rail transit in the highest-volume corridors, so that buses can focus on the secondary corridors. Not just for work commutes, but for peoples’ total trips.

      The Everett and Tacoma extensions strain this by being so long. But the ST2 extent of Link is necessary for a region this size. Even if 50% of people telecommute long-term compared to 2019, they still need to get around for all the other trips above, and they need something that doesn’t get caught in traffic and can handle spikes in demand.

      The biggest transportation problem of the last seventy years is underestimating the transit needs. It went everywhere from “We don’t need it” to “Long coverage milk runs are sufficient” to “Here are a few routes with 9-5 frequency and a mixed-traffic streetcar”. All completely inadequate, and less than any city outside the US or Saudi Arabia would consider. So even if Link will be overbuilt, let’s overbuild for a change instead of chronically neglecting transit.

      Long-term changes in work patterns are completely up in the air. Nobody knows how things will restabilize after the first year, so saying it’s certain that a permanent shift to teleworking will be so large that we should abandon ST2 projects now, is completely myopic. A reasonable assumption is that 75-80% of work trips will remain or be replaced by other trips. Road congestion has already returned, so we need a transit option that bypasses it. Population and jobs are still on a long-term increase, so in ten and twenty years we’ll need a larger transit network than we do now. We’re still likely to get more climate refugees as other regions become uninhabitable.

      The GMA was and is a scalable vision: a choice to focus on infill rather than unlimited sprawl. The urban village strategy needs an update, but the problem is not the villages, it’s the 75% of residential land that’s locked into single-family zoning as if Seattle were still a small town and the region’s population hasn’t risen since the 1970s.

      1. “75% of trips are not work commutes; they’re trips to the store, library, gym, church, children’s activities, medical appointments,. nightlife, visiting relatives and friends, etc.”

        If that were true ridership wouldn’t still be down ~80%.

        Your revisionist history is a joke. Link light rail always was first and foremost about providing daily commute alternatives to employers’ worksites. Read the ballot measures. The ST3 plan voters approved in 2016 says right at the top that planners anticipate jobs and population are expected to soar “making daily commutes longer and more congested.” Light rail was pitched and envisioned by government planners because of those massive daily commute levels that now won’t materialize because for the first time in human history technology is good enough to replicate enough of the key functionalities of the kinds of worksites MSFT, AMZN, and many government employers utilized pre-Covid.

        I must say, you “remote working” deniers seem cut from the same cloth as climate change deniers — you don’t want to see what’s happening or analyze new data.

      2. “If that were true ridership wouldn’t still be down ~80%.”

        Nightlife and churches are closed. Children’s activities are suspended. People are limiting their visits to relatives and even to the store. There’s an irrational fear of transit being pumped out by right-wing propaganda. You can’t compare pandemic ridership levels with post-pandemic.

      3. Link’s marketing sometimes focused on peak congestion because that’s all many voters care about. But the people who designed and planned this network knew it would be much more, and that was clear in Link’s marketing as a whole. It wasn’t just for 9-5 workers but for shift workers and all other kinds of trips a large city has.

      4. I am tired of hearing the nonsense over again that transit is supposed to be just for rush hour commutes to office jobs, while private cars are for everything else, and if you don’t have people commuting to office jobs, you don’t need transit.

        That is fundamentally not true. Transit is for general transportation. Any trip that people make within a populated area (except for special cases like hauling furniture) transit should be able to handle. It should not be a requirement that you spend $500/mo. on car expenses for the right to travel outside your home for purposes other than commuting to a 9-5 office job.

        WSDOT recently restored ferry service to nearly the level it was before COVID. Why? Because people still need to get from one side of the sound to the other. It’s a complete double standard to say that full ferry service is necessary because it carries cars, while gutting transit is ok because it’s only people.

      5. “75% of trips are not work commutes; they’re trips to the store, library, gym, church, children’s activities, medical appointments,. nightlife, visiting relatives and friends, etc.”

        If that were true ridership wouldn’t still be down ~80%.

        Dude, there is a pandemic! Gyms are closed. Libraries, restaurants, bars — all closed. People don’t visit relatives are friends — and when they do, they drive. You have this ridiculous idea in your head the only reason why anyone ever leaves the house is because of commuting — which is clearly not true.

        Dude, have you ever ridden a real mass transit system? Go ahead, ride the New York Subway at noon. What you’ll notice is that it isn’t empty. At every stop there are people getting on and off. Event at rush hour there are people getting off well before that bus gets to Manhattan. What is true of New York is true of Link, even though they haven’t built the most important piece yet.

        Look at Page 65 of the 2019 service report for Sound Transit (https://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/documents/2019-sip-final_compressed.pdf). Notice the graph. It peaks during rush hour, but by no means is it where most of the riders are. There are just too many hours *outside* of rush hour. Likewise, Saturday and Sunday ridership has good numbers. Look at the next page. Trips to downtown make up less than half the ridership. Those downtown trips include transfers (since downtown is our biggest transit hub) as well as trips trips taken on weekends, or the middle of the day. Downtown trips make up less than half the trips, and peak downtown trips make up way less than half. The idea that Link was *only* built to deal with office commutes is absurd. It isn’t commuter rail (at least not through the city). It a regular subway, with demand all day long to various places.

      6. People use transit to commute to work. Then, since they don’t have a car they use transit to grab lunch or go to another office for a meeting. With virtually nobody in SLU not only is transit “out of business” but so are the business establishments that would have served said transit trips. We don’t know how many of the office workers are coming back on a full time basis but we do know that many of the related businesses are gone and it will be a long time before people invest their life savings in opening new bars and restaurants. Add to this the lack of public safety and hostile tax environment and I don’t see the jobs in DT Seattle recovering to pre-pandemic levels for a long time… if ever.

      7. Hostile tax environment? Washington has a third lower taxes than most other states due to the lack of income tax and the other taxes not compensating for it.

      8. I think the thing about hostile tax environment is not so much about current conditions, but fear of what it might become in the future if progressives continue to gain power at the local and state level.

    4. Anon, how do you explain Facebook spending $390 million dollars to buy REI’s 400,000 square foot headquarters next to an East Link station during the height of work from home? Isn’t that a clue that big tech plans on bringing most workers back to the office as soon as they are able to?

      1. The Facebook office workers are moving out of leased space into a corporately owned property. Net is 1000 REI workers are not moving to the Spring District. I expect the work space will have a very different mix than pre-pandemic cubical land. Look for more emphasis on meeting and event space.

        From a PI article, “Following the sale, both Facebook and REI announced $1 million donations to Eastrail, a 42-mile trail system creating transit alternatives and more greenspace in the region.“. How cool is that!

    5. You’ve got it all wrong. Mass transit — like all mass transit everywhere — was designed for one thing, and one thing only: getting people to the bar. Now that Covid has completely eliminated drinking at the bar, our light rail system will forever be considered a mistake. No one will ever go to back to bars, and no one will ever ride transit in large numbers again.

      OK, yeah, that’s ridiculous, but no more ridiculous than your post. You simply don’t understand transit. Most travel is not work-based travel, and it certainly isn’t office based. Even a quick look at transit per hour shows that.

      Even if people never go back to those big offices, and they lie empty, with dogs roaming the streets of downtown, there will still be plenty of people going from place to place, like every other decent mass transit system in the entire world.

    6. Excellent post. Transit is a public good because it provides mobility for those who can’t afford a car or to park (including a 20% parking tax). ST forgot that.

      Even before Covid-19 population growth and future transit ridership projections were wildly exaggerated to support a transit system that was extravagantly over priced. One example is $4.5 BILLION to run a light rail line from Issaquah to S. Bellevue.

      To support this transit system urban planners developed new urbanism, which held that if American families left their suburban homes and moved into dense housing in large cities without a yard or garage, and relied on transit even though you can’t carry anything on transit and it is slow , often unsafe, and inconvenient, it would stop sprawl and global warming.

      So new zoning rules were forced on citizens because no one wanted to move out of their single family houses for dense multi-family housing. Since new construction is always the least affordable, upzoning had the unintended effect of forcing POC and lower income residents to low income “suburbs” on the far edges of city limits, which then required huge publicly funded affordable housing programs.

      All In all as an ideology new urbanism was not well thought through by mostly financially well off white urban planning professors who really thought they could change human nature, and the American Dream of a single family house and yard, that is massively subsidized in our tax system.

      Next came “equity”. Living in the suburbs and driving a car was not equitable to those in the city.

      If you want proof that working from home will be permanent look at the lease renegotiations going on for office space in Seattle. Working from home saves business a fortune. Plus now the suburban house owner can claim the home office exemption against their mortgage payment, along with 2.5% mortgage rates.

      I am not saying no one will return to offices, but some won’t and most won’t M-F (and even before Covid-19 businesses were leaving Seattle for other cities). Since ST is predicated on huge future ridership gains even returning to pre-Covid levels doesn’t pencil out. A permanent 15% to 20% loss of full fare paying commuters on packed buses and trains will be devastating to ST’s project plans, and operational costs. A 50% overall decline in lucrative commuters will be death for most light rail unless there are enormous general fund subsidies.

      The great irony is new urbanism advocates got their dream: working from home is great for global warming (better than transit because there is no transit) but terrible for urban cities — many of which like Seattle are disintegrating anyway —and terrible for transit and equity because it was the suburban commuter who was paying the bills for transit and the city.

      New urbanism was a 20 year hiatus in the decline of the U.S. Metropolis that began spawning the suburbs in the 1950’s, but really escalated in the 1970’s over schools and crime (and race). Plus the Millennials married much later and started families later, and preferred to live in the hip city. Now they are moving to the suburbs. Microsoft was a prime proponent of East Link, but all those Seattle programmers now live east of Microsoft.

      All working from home will do is return population migrations back to normal, although the political leadership of many large cities will likely accelerate that migration, but without the work commute, which ironically will encourage more suburban commuters to drive to work because less traffic congestion, and they take transit due to congestion, not cost.

      1. New Urbanism is a specific movement that promotes walkable, multi-use, self-contained neighborhoods — like all neighborhoods were before WWII. Most new urbanist developments are lowrise. The most prominent ones in our region are the Issquaah Highlands, Redmond Ridge, and Snoqualmie Ridge. The original vision failed in several ways.

        1. They were supposed to be in both city neighborhoods and established suburban neighborhoods. Low-density zoning restrictious forced them out to exurban greenfields.
        2. They were supposed to include employers so that residents could both live and work there. Instead most residents commute to traditional suburbs and cities.
        3. They were supposed to have good transit, like prewar streetcar suburbs. Several early implementations were badly located for transit: there was no transit for miles, or it was located parallel to a highway so a bus would have to detour way off the highway and back, so the buses refused to.

        The Issaquah Highlands has a mixture of apartments, townhouses, and single-family houses. The houses do have yards and garages; they’re just closer together than traditional houses. Many new single-family developments have close-together houses, including most of central Issaquah. These meet with your approval, I trust. Old Seattle neighborhoods have small houses on small lots, but they still have yards, and some have garages.

        Other neighborhoods similar to new urbanism are Kirkland’s downtown, the core of Capitol Hill, Ballard, Wallingford, West Seattle’s California Avenue, etc. Mercer Island’s downtown is not that far off; it would mainly need more emphasis on walkability and pedestrians’ needs. I’m not sure about the Spring District; its highrises and mega-apartments may be too big.

        So (new|old) urbanism is not “into dense housing in large cities without a yard or garage, and relied on transit even though you can’t carry anything on transit”. It includes a variety of densities and forms, and some fit quite well in a traditional suburb. Some units have no yards, but other units do have small yards. Almost all accommodate personal cars. the only buildings with zero parking are at major transit stations. But the parking to unit ratio may be 0.5:1 instead of 1:1 or 2:1. That’s enough for some residents to have cars. And in many buildings near transit lines that have 1:1 parking minimums, only 66% of the spaces are used, so the five-digit cost of the empty spaces is paid by all the tenants, even those who don’t have cars.

        Your statement that millenials are abandoning cities and moving to the suburbs is still too early to tell. Many are moving to suburbs and detached houses, but many are remaining in cities. Suburban growth has reemerged after the 2008 crash, but cities aren’t decaying yet.

        “new zoning rules were forced on citizens because no one wanted to move out of their single family houses for dense multi-family housing.”

        A third of Americans want to live in a walkable urban neighborhood; a third prefer a driveable suburban neighborhood; and a third would be equally satisfied either way. Yet 70-80% of the land is locked in single-family zoning. The ubzonings you see are just a correction to bring the built environment closer to the percentages people want, and to accommodate the population growth. They’re not nearly extensive enough to affect the majority of land.

        And while Portland and Minneapolis have abolished single-family zoning, nobody expects all houses to disappear. Chicago’s North Side, where most buildings are 3-10 stories, still has scattered single-family houses. And a city like Seattle or Bellevue would have a lot more houses than that, because while the demand for urban neighborhoods and any kind of housing is much larger than the current zoning allows, it’s not so large as to fill those entire cities or even half of them with wall-to-wall multifamily housing.

        “Since new construction is always the least affordable, upzoning had the unintended effect of forcing POC and lower income residents to low income “suburbs” on the far edges of city limits, which then required huge publicly funded affordable housing programs.”

        The new construction is not enough to keep prices from rising. Population and jobs are increasing, and housing needs to keep up. In the 2010s Seattle built 8 housing units for every 12 jobs. That’s better than zero units or six units, but we’re still getting further behind. That’s what’s pushing prices up, because more people are competing for each available unit. Cities that allow housing to expand to match population increases like Dallas, Houston, and Chicago’s northern half, don’t have the price spikes we see on the coasts. It’s easier to dilute prices from increasing than to roll them back, because no owner wants to take a loss. So we should have nipped the problem in the bud when prices started accelerating in 2003. Now we’ve gotten into such a deep hole that the only solution is a large amount of subsidized housing. I don’t know what POC means.

        “no one wanted to move out of their single family houses for dense multi-family housing”

        That sounds like a shrinking minority with an ever-greater share of the wealth saying “I’ve got mine; screw you.” The population is increasing. Jobs are being created (or were pre/post covid) and drawing people. Children are growing up and babies are being born. Climate refugees are coming to the northwest. And King County has no more land for hundreds of thousands of more single-family houses. The land is used up with the existing houses. The only solution is infill or exurban sprawl, and exurban sprawl is evil. This is infill.

        “now the suburban house owner can claim the home office exemption against their mortgage payment, along with 2.5% mortgage rates.”

        It must be nice to have a house and a mortgage. Renters get squat. But I’m so glad not to have long-term debt.

      2. Dude, you don’t get it. That “American Dream” of the 1/4 acre yard and 3000 square foot house is simply not affordable for most residents in the coastal cities who don’t inherit one or have monster tech skills. It’s townhouses, condos, apartments, Omaha or the street for everyone else. There. Is. Not. Enough. Room for everyone who wants to live in and around Puget Sound to have a stand-alone Kirkland McMansion.

        If you don’t like the Urban Growth Boundary and planned densification, move to Omaha. They certainly don’t have a UGB there now. They very likely will never get one, ever. When you build your Elsinore Castle, all you’ll be covering up is corn fields. That’s unfortunate for the crows and starlings but they’ll recover.

      3. I think you significantly overestimate the importance of fares in Sound Transit’s financials. Fare cover <30% of Operations, and fund zero of the capital and SOGR expenditures. Anemic ridership during the pandemic isn't material when it comes to ST's long term financials; it is the drop in Sales Tax revenue is what is driving the need to reshuffle the project pipeline.

        Further, a route with strong all day ridership generally has better farebox recovery than a commuter route. Even a crush loaded commuter bus route ends up with only average farebox recovery because the reverse trip is mostly emplty. The 550 was ST's best route financially not because it was crush loaded going into the Seattle – many express routes were – but because it was also pretty full on the 'reverse commute' and had decent midday ridership.

        Therefore, I don't think it is correct to say "commuters" subsidize ST operations. Further, if you add in the cost of providing parking (a critical service for many commuter routes), it can be argued that the commuters are the ones getting the better deal.

        ***

        People certainly value larger homes, more space, and more privacy. There's always a trade-off with cost and commute times. If people could afford 3K sq ft and a backyard and still live in Seattle, most (but not all) would. Prices reflect the fact that people value short commutes and the amenities of city life. Adjusted for size, houses in the suburbs are consistently cheaper than in the urban core. Therefore, I think it is pretty clear millennials shift to the suburbs is not a revealed preference but a natural reaction to market prices, and it is the market prices themselves that are the revealed preference for urban living.

        It's very predictable that millennials are moving to the suburbs because people value space more as the age, due to mix of growing wealth, growing household size, and changing preferences. If space could be acquired within the city for the same price as the suburbs, I think many would remain in the city.

      4. New Urbanism was spurred by the realization that central cities were a cheaper place to live and that many urban cores still had the “structural bones” of their walkable communities prior to WW 2. White flight to suburbia had made suburban property very expensive and coupled with the long commutes to work sites, the allure of the suburban home lost its appeal. The abandoned central cities suddenly looked more appealing with the low cost of property and shorter commutes.

        Today, the real estate market has adjusted to value urban property higher than the suburbs and perhaps the pendulum has begun to switch back to favor the established suburbs. The availability of mass transit options that didn’t exist in 1985 to connect suburbia with the business cores has also increased the desirability of suburban homes. But again, the market will adjust to changing consumer demand and people will adapt.

    7. @RossB
      “Even if people never go back to those big offices, and they lie empty, with dogs roaming the streets of downtown, there will still be plenty of people going from place to place, like every other decent mass transit system in the entire world.”

      Exactly. The original poster’s prognostications about post-pandemic transit needs and utilization are just baseless musings in my book. While ST may have marketed their transit packages as a solution to the area’s growing congestion issues, most honest dealers recognized that approach for what it was, i.e., a way to sell the packages to voters in an easily understood “Cliff Notes” type of format. Most voters could relate to work commutes in some form or fashion and many of them were already personally experiencing the frustration of increasing congestion and longer travel times. Hence, that was the sales pitch ST ran with quite often, though they knew that the system they were proposing and currently building would do little to relieve congestion. While the approach may have been disingenuous, and it’s certainly fair to be critical of the agency for employing this sort of marketing tactic, the commuter component of the mass transit system ST has been charged to build and operate is only part of the mobility equation for our region, just as it is for every system around the country and across the globe, as you’ve rightly acknowledged.

      An open-thread style aside…..
      Your comment, which I’ve quoted above, reminded me of the title track from 1974’s “Diamond Dogs” by the late David Bowie*:

      “Future Legend”

      “And in the death,
      As the last few corpses lay rotting on the slimythoroughfare,
      The shutters lifted in inches in Temperance Building,
      High on Poacher’s Hill,
      And red, mutant eyes gaze down on Hunger City,
      No more big wheels,
      Fleas the size of rats sucked on rats the size of cats,
      And ten thousand peoploids split into small tribes,
      Coverting the highest of the sterile skyscrapers,
      Like packs of dogs assaulting the glass fronts of Love-Me Avenue,
      Ripping and rewrapping mink and shiny silver fox, now legwarmers,
      Family badge of sapphire and cracked emerald,
      Any day now,
      The Year of the Diamond Dogs.”

      *A great album by a truly great artist.

      1. Typo: “Coveting” (not “Coverting”)
        Fascinating imagery and lyrics that have been debated ever since the release of the album, Bowie’s take on the Orwellian world of “1984”.

  2. A week ago I got off a 41 at 5th & Union and found a Lime scooter right in front of the door. That was the first scooter I’d seen, and I moved it next to a tree. My thoughts ranged from “How careless could they be” to “It doesn’t look like a place where a bus rear door would ever be.” Since then I’ve seen several parked scooters but I don’t think I’ve seen anyone riding one yet.

    The 41 stop at the other end, at the park next to Northgate North, has the opposite problem: a shrub row has a gap for the rear door. It works only for two-door buses; it precludes three-door buses.

    1. Used to do landscaping, Mike. Permanently or temporarily, shrubs can be painlessly transplanted and replaced with sidewalks of whatever width necessary. Just be sure you use an actual three-door bus to measure with before you dig them up. And be careful Julienne Barberry are really hard on nylons. Remind me, though: Does Spandex “run” like stockings?

      Mark Dublin

  3. “California bans new gasoline-powered cars from 2035”

    But used cars can still be sold so people will just import cars from out of state. And of course there will be a huge run on new pickup trucks the year before any ban is implemented.

    ““Our second largest export in the state of California are electric vehicles,” [Governor Newsom] said. “Those 34 manufacturers, those public trading manufacturers, represent close to half a trillion dollars of market capitalization,”

    Yeah, Tesla has a market capitalization greater than ExxonMobil. Seems maybe a little overvalued for a company that’s no where near profitable. And then there’s this tweet from Elon Musk, “Frankly, this is the final straw. Tesla will now move its HQ and future programs to Texas/Nevada immediately. If we even retain Fremont manufacturing activity at all, it will be dependen on how Tesla is treated in the future. Tesla is the last carmaker left in CA.

    1. Yeah I’d wager Cali will be a net importer of electric vehicles in the not to distant future.

      But it doesn’t really matter. The ban doesn’t start until after Newsom is term limited out of office, so it’s really a virtue signal from his team and an actual decision for a future administration.

      1. The political trick for any kind of carbon emission policy is to have the limits become enforceable after the politician is out of office, or most citizens are dead. Newsome’s immediate problem is inadequate electricity, and rolling brown outs, which don’t make him popular with voters.

        Even without Newsome’s “mandate” it is estimated most new cars in 2035 will be electric because a better battery will be available, and electric cars have less maintenance anyway (but require a lot of carbon emissions from mining for the rare materials in the batteries). So Newsome uses 2035, The Paris Accords use 2050, and Washington State switched to 2035 when its first carbon emission standards set in 2006 I think that were to be effective in 2020 were not going to be achieved (2012, the height of the recession, being the only year the State was on target).

        It is a pretty good bet that by 2035 electric cars will outnumber internal combustion cars, certainly new cars, and driverless car technology will be available (Obama’s plan, which made great sense, was to switch long haul trucks to propane since many of their routes are fixed so thousands of new gas stations would not be necessary, but I think Trump abandoned that plan).

        Depending on the source of electricity (for example PSE derives something like 37% of its electricity from coal) electric cars will be one of the most effective ways to reduce carbon emissions, in large part because like Jimmy Carter’s efficiency standards for appliances new cars like new refrigerators will be better anyway, so the citizen/consumer won’t have to sacrifice anything to reduce emissions. Trying to reduce or eliminate carbon emissions by forcing citizens from cars to transit is too hard. Better to move them to a better (electric) car.

        IMO own opinion a revenue neutral carbon tax (without exempting state or local uses including transit) is the quickest and most effective method to price carbon into decisions, without trying to figure out, or control, the market.

        From the seminars I have attended on driverless technology the assumption is that in the future families/couples will have a personal car at home for things like skiing or buying a Christmas tree, and will subscribe to a system of driverless car technology for most local trips or commutes. One would think Uber/Lyft, but since these cars will actually be owned by the service provider think Hertz or other large rental companies that have the finances to buy thousands of driverless electric cars and maintain them.

        A consideration however is driving is the number one occupation for males with a high school degree or less.

        I am not sure what effect this will have on traditional transit. Obviously everyone can’t have a driverless car driving alone all day long because there isn’t the road capacity, but a system of driverless cars buzzing around would reduce the number of actual cars on the road. Plus ride share apps should be much more sophisticated.

        Once the cost of parking is removed from commuting — if workers still commute — the cost between a driverless car or traditional transit will be small, with first/last mile access and much better convenience and safety.

    2. How does banning gasoline cars hurt Tesla?

      America’s car fleet turns over substantially every ten years, so even if some petrol cars remain they will be a minority in a couple decades.

      And California does not exist in a vacuum. Other countries have similar plans to phase out gas/diesel cars, and much of the car industry is doing research to prepare for the transition. Other states can adopt California’s car policies, and some might. Maybe not Nevada, but some states. As the rest of the world turns and we eventually get climate deniers out of the fedgov, the US status quo will look increasingly isolated and obsolete and more states will go in California’s direction, even if not as aggressively.

      1. This specific decision doesn’t hurt tesla, but he was mocking Newsom for celebrating Telsa’s successful while Musk is likely to move as much of Tesla out of California as he can, in direct response to Sacramento’s management of the pandemic and the economy in general.

    3. Elon, why don’t you just do us a favor and move your HQ and future to Mars/Jupiter/Saturn and All Their Moons? From your own industry’s history, you might want take a leaf from Henry Ford.

      He built a fine tough and innovative little automobile and went out of his way to price it so the average worker could afford. However misbegotten his labor relations later became, his invention really did free generations of loggers and miners from the soul-foreclosing tyranny of “The Company Store” in the Tennessee Ernie Ford song.

      But his ventures into political philosophy made an embarrassing right-wing idiot out of him long before Twitter was even born. Not only were “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” anti-Semitic, but they were plagiarized from guess where? Not sure if there was a Russian czar named Vladimir, but there sure is now.

      Anyhow, thanks for this much, Elon. Proof of why, to cure everything from COVID to poverty, we need above all to restore the labor union movement that used to make it possible for the average worker to not borrow but buy a house in Ballard.

      And somebody that knows, tell me so I can tell Elon. My Prius is tough as a tank. What’s Tesla’s maintenance “rep?”

      Mark Dublin

    4. “But used cars can still be sold so people will just import cars from out of state. And of course there will be a huge run on new pickup trucks the year before any ban is implemented.”

      You’re assuming present-day technology persists into 2035. The hope is that, by 2035, electric cars will become cheap enough and long-ranged enough, and the charging infrastructure ubiquitous enough that the average driver will simply find them better, and have little reason to go out of state to avoid it. The hope is also that the mandate itself will encourage research&development around electric vehicles to help this happen.

      Of course, there’s no guarantee that it will work out that way. But, in practice, those worried about everybody having to drive to Nevada to buy cars because it’s 2035 and the EV’s are too expensive/too short-ranged/not enough charging infrastructure/etc. can breathe easy. The unwritten assumption for any rule like this is that, if 2035 gets close and it becomes clear that the technology isn’t ready, the mandate will simply be postponed until it is. (And I give it at least a 50/50 chance that that happens).

      Still, at least governer Newsom is acknowledging the right principles, that the internal combustion engine is a dinosaur technology that, at some point, needs to die. Not just for climate change, but also for cleaner air and quieter cities in general.

      1. If electric car technology can win on it’s merits then legislation isn’t necessary. I’d argue that CA regulations have actually been a negative influence on our carbon footprint. Diesel which is ubiquitous in Europe has a tiny market share in the US mainly because companies don’t want to build/import a vehicle that isn’t 50 state compliant. The issues with diesel particulate emissions and NOx have been eliminated through technology. Since diesels are so much more efficient they produce substantially less carbon emissions than gasoline.

        Then there’s the idea that semi trucks can easily be converted from diesel to natural gas (T. Boone Pickens). The hard part is putting in place a distribution system. Imagine if all our long haul trucking was powered by the natural gas we currently flare off at oil wells.

      2. “If electric car technology can win on it’s merits then legislation isn’t necessary.”

        The point of the legislation is to move things along so they happen faster. Without incentive to do otherwise, the car manufactures will simply be lazy; as long as they’re making good profits selling gas cars, why bother investing money up front to develop an electric product line?

      3. I get that sometimes an incentive is needed and government sponsored research has it’s place. I’d rather see tax credits than rebates. The “game” with the electric car subsides was all the manufacturers were allotted a certain number and the companies that didn’t sell their quote of electric vehicles sold their free money to others; which helped lift Elon Musk out of poverty but did do squat for actual development since the profit for cars that otherwise wouldn’t have sold more that a tiny number was baked in.

        IMHO all of the money spent on the hydrogen highway was a total waste and was an expensive example of virtue signaling. A way better investment would have been pipeline infrastructure that is a safer and more energy efficient way of transporting gas and oil. Sure using the more dangerous and less efficient rail transport makes fossil fuels more expensive in this country. Less demand in the US just means countries like China that have far less enforcement of environmental standards can fuel their economy for less meaning they burn more. That’s pretty much what the Paris Accords accomplished.

        Electric vehicle production should have been aimed first at public transport. Why, because it is a point source elimination of emissions and public transport is most prevalent in large cities where this is a big issue. And it’s bat shick crazy that we’re writing checks to Tesla owners while the Post Office still doesn’t have a next generation of the Grumman LLV.

      4. They certainly are cheaper to maintain than modern Frankencars. There’s a sizable battery and one or more electric motors. That’s the propulsion system. Sure, there’s a computer to optimize battery life, but the electronics are much simpler than those controlling and Internal Combustion powerplant.

        The biggest question is where will tge rare earths be found?

    5. Tesla is not valued as a car company but as a technology company. It’s future profits will come from licensing battery technology to other car companies, along with its driverless car technology although I agree it is highly valued.

      1. future profits will come from licensing battery technology

        I agree that the battery technology and the autonomous driving technology are the most valuable “assets” for the company. But the stock is valued as a speculative bubble. It’s has a higher market cap than Toyota. Don’t you think Toyota has at least as much investment and expertise in battery technology? Nobody believes that even under the most rosy scenario this is worth a fraction of the market cap. Every one is “in” because everyone else is “in” which creates a feedback loop. It’s the classic Ponzi scheme. Individual investors think they’ll ride the wave and bail right before the collapse. The wildfire is fed by index funds that have to buy more of the stock based on it’s rising valuation; fundamentals be damned. This is not “sustainable”. Unless Tesla technology can find a way to turn lead into gold.
        A close comparison would be if they can find a way to actually recycle the lithium from batteries but you don’t need the overhead of producing cars to focus on that.

      2. Many other companies are making great electric cars without any help from Tesla. Tesla stock will crash, it’s just a question of how soon.

  4. So we have Stream, Swift, and Stride. I wonder if the common “S” will help people remember these are all BRT routes, or will just drive confusion.

    1. The counties are sufficiently sepeated that county-specific BRT brands is not fatal. People will learn Swift is in Snohomish County, RapidRide in King County, and Stream in Pierce County. It will simply be part of the county identity.

      The bigger issue is lumping all these and Stride under the same BRT label even though they’re different levels of service. There are at least two and maybe three.

      1. Swift, limited-stop on arterials with local overlays. The first implementation.
      2. Stride, limited-stop on freeways and on 522.
      3. RapidRide and Stream, enhanced local routes with full stops and no overlay.

      Some of the marketing makes them sound like they’re all the same, or that there’s no difference in their role. RapidRide was originally marketed as “BRT like Swift”, but Metro stopped calling it BRT long ago because it’s so much less than Swift.

      Pierce never clarified what its “BRT” would be like, except late in the run-up to ST3 it said it would be similar to RapidRide. So Pierce is in the same position now that Metro was in in the 2000s when RapidRide A-F were proposed.

      The separation of the counties means many King Countians never or rarely go to Snohomish or Pierce Counties, or if they do they don’t see or experience their bus networks. So many Metro riders have no idea what Swift is like. Many Piercians will never encounter Stride or Swift. They’ll take whatever transit goes downtown or to Bellevue/Redmond, and maybe take a local bus there, but not further. They may experience RapidRide lines downtown, but they’ll just think of it as “Seattle’s transit”. And because RapidRide and Stream will be so similar, they may just consider them the King and Pierce County equivalents of the same thing. But Stride and Swift will be outside their experience. Unless maybe they take Link to TIB and Stride to Bellevue, but then they’ll just think of Stride as “the 405 bus”. Or maybe there will be future Stride lines Renton-Auburn or Renton-Puyallup, but that’s just speculative imaginings at this point.

      1. Like with the rest of transit, Mike, BRT’s main concern needs to be simplicity and comprehensibility, regardless of brand-name or paint-job.

        Whole Original Intent of what became Sound Transit was to drive Dr. Van Helsing’s sharpest stake through the heart of the curse called “Separate Agencies.”

        In my driving days, occasional passenger of mine was a dog who was certainly no “stray” in his own mind as he purposefully boarded buses looking for his owner. Should be that instinctive for us monkeys, too.

        First word in “Kiss and Ride” should abbreviate “Keep It Simple Stupid” into an ironclad multimodal multiagency multisubagency policy.

        And our State Constitution needs an Amendment forbidding anybody from being fined over any transit-related warning containing “RCW.”

        Mark Dublin

      2. My hope is Stream is much closer to Swift. Even if it isn’t stop limited, if it has mostly dedicated lanes I would call it BRT (or ART), whereas RapidRide is just a brand for improved bus service.

      3. RapidRide A and E have full BAT lanes in South King County and Shoreline, so that would be like what Mark is suggesting for the 1. It’s the other parts of RapidRide that have spotty or no transit priority.

    2. The letters and colors and numbers will create some confusion. Also, 405 Stride is nothing like 522 Stride in character.

      I lament the general absence of something known in most major cities called “limited” service. Any route can use bus-only lanes and have off-board payment and signal priority and nice shelters. Limited service has much further stop spacing (like 0.5 to 1.5 miles apart). Instead, operators in our region create marketing names to highlight what is really mostly just faster local bus service. I’d call Swift and 405 Stride “limited” but I’m not sure if these other proposed operations could be called that.

      1. Our express network, which is very robust in normal times, ends up providing limited stop service most places it is needed. Link is limited stop on Rainier, and will end up functioning as limited stop along the RR-J and RR-A corridors. Aside from Aurora, I’m not sure where there’s a big need for limited stop service?

    3. Why not consolidate it all under our regional public transportation agency, STrapid STride! Easy enough to remember than even Scooby can say it ;-)

  5. With the OMFS EIS process delayed and the final opening pushed out at least a year, and crews actively removing dirt from the Midway Landfill, I wonder if that increases the likelihood that the OMF ends up at the Midway location?
    One of the big reasons the technical staff would be hesitant to put an OMF at the landfill is the sheer uncertainly of environmental issues that could lay beneath the OMF, which could be mitigated from what is learned as the eastern edge of the landfill is excavated. Another issue, IIRC, is building on the landfill will require building piling and a foundation and then letting it settle … with the TDLE timeline likely pushed out, that could allow ST to accommodate the longer timeline needed to place the OMFS at the landfill rather than another location.

  6. 1. Fantastic photo, Joe. All of them. The jets in the clouds are awesome. One request to Talgo, though. I’m told that, probably courtesy of Spain, the bistro counter’s are wired for an espresso machine. Just please, Caffe d’Arte and not Starbucks. Also pretty sure liquor laws will let you serve it with a brandy, like back in the Old Country.

    2. Having driven the Route 1 through Tacoma CBD by car- unfortunately no law against cars where streetcars are, though that’s doubtless temporary- I think Pierce Transit’s new Route 1 can share Tacoma- Link route through downtown to 25th before heading straight out Highway 7 for Spanaway . Freighthouse Square loop, unnecessary slow-down. Link stop at 25th is easy streetcar transfer to Tacoma Dome Station. And “Stream” is so pretty it doesn’t have to stand for anything.

    3. ‘Fresh my memory, Mercer Island. Is your problem with buses terminating and “looping” there through your streets, or just pulling off I-90 and stopping there on their way east or west?

    Either way, the invention of the multi-ethnicity food truck should see to it that mode-transferring passengers make it not a problem to deny Mercer Island a lot of potential customers. South Bellevue or Judkins Park, what, two minutes’ Link ride either way? Too bad you hate business.

    Whatever. I really hope Sound Transit’s already got it budgeted to sue you right back if you delay East Link opening by half an hour. Just give your voters their money back and nobody gets hurt.

    And welcome back to the South Lake Union Trolley. Dolly Parton’s mother really did just call the pretty woman Dolly was admiring a tramp. Which in her day meant the opposite of “Homeless.”

    Mark Dublin

  7. Mike, reserved lanes and signal priority aren’t a problem of branding, but mostly sheer political will. And can be adjusted for existing conditions, and don’t have to be done all at once.

    One specific example. The newly-revived South Lake Union Trolley will run a lot closer to 10 minute weekday headways than 15 when inbound trains become able to pre-empt or prioritize a single signal where the track transitions from Fairview to approach the stop at the Center for Wooden Boats.

    Google Map doesn’t seem to show it, but it is still there, isn’t it? My call on the projected “Center City Connector” noted on the map here is that it won’t originate from the transit world.

    Rather, three connected entities, Broadway-First Hill, Pioneer Square-Pike Place Market, and South Lake Union will decide it’s advantageous become a single business and cultural district. Bus or streetcar, the Waterfront can at least share a substation.

    Ballard-Fremont, Bellevue-Kirkland-Redmond, bikes or hikers, no hurry about it. A few inches down, once a railway, always a railway.

    Mark Dublin

  8. And something else people need to consider about Link, especially if you both really, really, really hate it and are getting paid by lobbyists to kill it:

    For exactly the oncoming generation of cash-strapped people who also happen to be parents, and also those too old to be safe behind a steering wheel, electric trains are a perfect place to spend the day.

    When I was doing consulting for Sound Transit as Link opened service, passengers with kids and grandkids repeatedly told me that whatever the purpose of THEIR trip, the children liked their train-ride much better than its grown-up-proclaimed purpose.

    Really great demographic, too. If the system handles it correctly, first Link ride at age three means a fierce pro-transit voter in just fifteen years. At which time it’ll also be good if they’ve got a station in the basement of the Capitol dome, so they can get off the train on their 18th birthday for the special kind of voting they just got elected to.

    And no need to look so blue, my former rubber-tired colleagues. While those wires lend a lot of atmosphere, anything articulated with well-mastered dynamic brakes can make the ride both exciting and smooth.

    But, maybe most important of all, regional Link can create a ride in the city, the subway, the (real) skyway, the countryside, and everything in between that not only has huge windows, but never gets stuck in traffic.

    Also….personal reason I want the $124 “Tap Crap Trap” to swiftly die. Since I can’t afford movies anymore, the train rides I paid in full for at the beginning of the month are about all I’ve got left to enjoy while I just sit there, look out across the land, and think.

    Eye also doctor tells me my dusk-driving days are also about over.

    Mark Dublin

  9. 1) Thanks for using my photo. Much appreciate.

    2) Hey there… BIG Community Transit Transit Development Plan hearing THIS THURSDAY at 3 PM. Community Transit’s Draft TDP is up at CommunityTransit.org/TDP. The document is good reading but if you want new service or reduced service anywhere that’s the time to comment.

    The hearing will be immediately after a roll call of Boardmembers, but you should sign up at bit.ly/2020CTTDPH.

    If you can’t make the hearing, no shame. Please e-mail in some thoughts to PlanUpdate-AT-commtrans.org where you replace the -AT- with @ before 3 PM Thursday. Counting my comments, only two comments submitted so far as of September 24.

    3) Everett Transit and King County Metro will have their TDP hearings next month.

  10. Not sure I even understand what Mercer Island’s objection to Link is. Instead of a bunch of buses stopping in Mercer Island to pick up passengers on the way to Seattle, they will stop there, unload, reload, and go back where they came.

    1. Given the sheer outrage from MI about a few additional buses circulating only around the station from upscale Eastside neighborhoods, I can only conclude the MI believes that buses are symbols of demonic existence. They also somehow think buses with trained drivers are more dangerous than the other large vehicles (with less trained drivers) that drive to the island, and some laughably believe it brings more crime.

      Of course, having fewer buses would actually mean lots more cars will go to the area as Eastside drivers will Instead drive to MI to pick up or drop off people rather than pick up or drop off people in places like Eastgate or Issaquah because those buses will end up being less frequent. MI thinks that they will get fewer vehicles by limiting bus service, when they likely will get more.

      1. I posted extensively on this on other threads and won’t repeat that here, except to note the comments on this thread once again misunderstand the issue, the 2017 settlement agreement, and the difference between East Link and a bus intercept, and the impacts to Mercer Island.

        Why someone from Seattle would even care about Mercer Island’s position on the intensity of a bus intercept I don’t understand. I live on Mercer Island and read this blog with interest, but don’t really give a damn about bus routes and train frequency in Seattle, and most eastsiders don’t care about transit at all, and maybe working from home will mean the end of transit for them (and you since the commuter is the primary funding source for transit).

        The Seattle Times had an interesting article in today’s paper about current ridership. Even before Covid-19 most trips on the eastside were overwhelmingly by car (especially in areas like Kent where residents tend to work with tools and drive trucks to work). Although transit ridership is still way down car traffic (and congestion) is picking back up, because eastsiders are still making trips, just not on transit because they are not going to the office or commuting.

        The quip on the eastside is everyone wants everyone else to take transit so they can drive to work without congestion. Other than peak hours M-F there is more than adequate road capacity on the eastside, even on 405 and 167. Ideally enough suburban workers permanently work from home after Covid-19 to make that wish come true.

      2. I posted extensively on this on other threads and won’t repeat that here, except to note the comments on this thread once again misunderstand the issue, the 2017 settlement agreement, and the difference between East Link and a bus intercept, and the impacts to Mercer Island.

        Fair enough, but you don’t explain how people misunderstood the position of Mercer Island, or what the impacts will be. Not in the remaining paragraphs, nor in a reference to a comment.

        I think it is pretty obvious what those impacts are — more buses on Mercer Island. As Christopher put it, they will stop there, unload, reload, and go back where they came.

        As to why that is a problem for Mercer Island leaders, that is hard to say. I’ve heard all sorts of bizarre theories, like crime as a concern (from Issaquah?). I’ve also heard arguments that don’t really make sense (i. e. they want the park-and-ride lot only for themselves) and think the buses have something to do with it. Maybe it is as simple as not wanting buses to park on the street (old fashioned diesel fear, perhaps?). My guess is it is just an old-fashioned shakedown, but feel free to explain your theories as to the motivation of Mercer Island leadership.

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