Two Swift Buses in the May 2018 Sun - Widescreen

This is an open thread.

60 Replies to “News roundup: fares are back”

  1. Not mentioned: Everett losing the 787, which IMO severely dampens the case for a link station at Boeing-Everett.

    Also, kudos to you guys for maintaining coverage on a daily basis for such a long time!

    1. I’d argue the opposite. As Boeing phases out of the Paine Field MIC, Snohomish needs to invest in infrastructure (of which Link is just a piece of the puzzle) to ensure Paine Field evolves into a vibrant economic center for the remainder of the 21st century.

      1. Transitioning Paine Field to a different kind of industrial center would be an opportunity to redesign the buildings and blocks so that more jobs can be within walking distance of the Link station. That was always its achilles heel: you get to the station and then have to cross acres of nothingness to get to your job. Airplanes require much more space and noise mitigation than other industries do, so those arguments against density would disappear. Not that I expect Everett to take advantage of it: they’ll probably keep the buildings as far apart as ever.

        Is the Paine Field area actually in the city of Everett or is “Boeing Everett” just a generalization? It seems like it’s closer to Mukilteo.

      2. Paine Field itself is unincorporated, but north and east of Paine Field is pretty much all within the city of Everett, so most of the MIC is in Everett except for some bits immediately east and south of the field. Mukiteo proper is immediately west of the field and I don’t believe includes any parts of the MIC … there’s a job cluster SE of the airport west of the speedway that is in Mukiteo but not in the official MIC.

        https://www.psrc.org/sites/default/files/mic-profile-painefield-boeingeverett.pdf

        The Port of Everett seems to have smart plans about re-imaging Everett’s waterfront, balancing its role as a real seaport with real estate development. It’s a distinct entity from the city but presumably there’s plenty of cross pollination between both the staff and the political leadership.

        I think when it is all said & done, the MIC will end up with at least 2 stations, not the single stations in the ST3 plan; one to serve a future airport terminal (for workers & passengers) and a 2nd to serve the industrial center as some future iteration of the Seaway transit center.

      3. “…there’s a job cluster SE of the airport west of the speedway that is in Mukiteo but not in the official MIC.”

        Huh? Did you mean SW of Paine Field? I live just south of here in the unincorporated section of the county so I’m very familiar with this area and I’m struggling to understand as to what you’re referring.

    2. Jordan, if the last few decades have proved anything, it’s that single-employer company towns are not a very good idea. Since WWII, for all their faults, especially across the mining and logging lands, workers’ Fords and Chevvie’s finally let them pick their own stores and landlords.

      But while it’s not a very high bar, in San Francisco and Boston, Boeing Vertol light railcars were a lot better than anything from Breda. Everett’s workers certainly deserve a chance to build their own ride to work.

      And all those PCC streetcars in the Third World which certainly does include Kenosha are probably far past time for replacement. Since their best selling point was simplicity, everybody at Boeing can surely more than “handle.”

      But Jeff Bezos: If you’re thinking about substituting driverless drones for the elegant funeral streetcars we used to have, no need to Drop Dead, but at least Forget It.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Snohomish Co. is petitioning to amend the GMA to allow greater development density in rural areas. This is one of the proposals in the PSRC’s 2050 Vision Statement, although of course the “preferred” alternative is transit oriented development.

        This is a very important document. The homepage can be found at https://www.psrc.org/our-work/regional-planning/vision-2050/environmental-review

        More important is the executive summary found at https://www.psrc.org/sites/default/files/v2050finalseis-execsummary-march_2020.pdf with the four alternatives.

        The Vision Statement is solely predicated on Pre-Covid data and assumptions. Meanwhile the primary lobbying position for Sound Cities Assoc. (SCA) is local zoning control after HB 1923 attempted to make Seattle’s residential zoning mandatory throughout the state, but ran into objections from cities (although SCA opposes Snohomish County’s requested amendment to the GMA).

        IMO as transit moves farther and farther from Seattle’s core the more it will run into resistance for TOD. That means park and rides for first/last mile access.

      2. “IMO as transit moves farther and farther from Seattle’s core the more it will run into resistance for TOD.” To date, the suburbs seems to be doing well at upzoning their station areas. Shoreline, Lynnwood, Montlake Terrace, Kent, Seatac, Kenmore, Bellevue, and Redmond all have community consensus to develop TOD of varying degrees of density.

        Even Kirkland, which can be very nimby in Houghton, is facilitating good infill development around Totem Lake with several thousand apartments recently built or in the pipeline.

        Mercer Island appears to be the lone exception. Des Moines is anti-TOD and torpedoed a Link alignment, but the bulk of the KDM station area is in Kent. Lake Forest Park is similar to MI in that is only served because is ‘on the way’ between real destinations, but while LFP isn’t facilitating much growth, they don’t seem to be causing any issues with the Stride project either.

        TOD and P&Rs aren’t an either/or. In both Sounder corridors there is strong demand for more P&R investment, but all the relevant cities also support more TOD in their station areas alongside parking investment.

    3. According to the reports, this move is a net reduction of 1,000 employees in Everett. The bigger impact will be seen in 2022 when the 747 line shuts down.

      That said, Boeing is working on a new single aisle airplane. They won’t be launching it any time soon, so I wouldn’t expect major manufacturing work until after 2025, but a half-empty Everett factory with a brand new composite wing building will be an attractive prospect for this new aircraft. The expected production rates for a new single-aisle would fill Everett back up to full employment.

      What is the timeline for Paine Field link?

      1. Originally 2036 for full Everett Link, though I’d imagine Link won’t make it beyond Mariner until 2040 once the Board reshuffles the project timelines.

      2. Right. So Link is so far out in the future, that Boeing may not even exist by that point. I’ll definitely be retired, but maybe my children can use it?

      3. Being bit of an aviation nerd myself, the 777 is already aging technology and the newest version doesn’t have enough customers to warrant the type of production like that of the 787. If the new single aisle isn’t built in Everett, then I can see Boeing’s presence virtually phased out in Everett by the time Link arrives up there. That would also mean aerospace contractors associated with Boeing would likely leave the area too.

        If this were to be the case, then it is definitely worth keeping Link along Evergreen way. Residual employers can start a shuttle to their nearest Link station

      4. Actually the 2040 Vision Statement was transit oriented too. The rub is who controls zoning.

        I think it is absurd for the PSRC to adopt a plan for 2050 based on 2018 data, when Covid-19 may have changed everything, along with what many see as the shifting of power from Seattle to the eastside.

        I think there is a very good likelihood transit from ST to Metro could be looking at a 25% decline in overall funding in the near future. Unlike the Portland area I don’t see the suburban cities in WA agreeing to eliminate single family residential zoning out of “equity”. Not if Bellevue says no, and Bellevue promised its citizens the growth in the commercial areas would guarantee the residential neighborhoods would never be upzoned, or become multi-family housing.

        And who doesn’t think electric cars and self-driving cars won’t dominate in 2050, which again undermines the conclusions of the PSRC. But neither is discussed in the 2050 Vision Statement, which is really a 2018 Vision.

        The Sound Cities Assoc. will continue to insist that any TOD preferred alternative set forth in the PSRC 2050 Vision statement be voluntary, and local zoning decisions will control, which is not what ST wants and needs. Then it will be up to the different cities and the citizens whether zoning follows transit or transit follows zoning.

        Mike also raises an interesting point: according to the PSRC most future regional population growth (which is estimated extremely high) will go to counties outside King, and all of those cities have a less progressive approach to zoning and transit than King Co., but have more affordable single family homes.

        In the short term transit revenue, both fare related and general sales tax, will determine transit, and its power over zoning. In the long term technology will likely be the major change, especially if it allows door to door transportation at the same cost as transit today. No need for TOD then.

      5. Mercer Island, according to the PSRC’s 2040 Vision Statement, has a maximum build out population of 26,000, that it was not suppose to reach until after 2050. After 26,000 residents the infrastructure becomes overwhelmed, according to the 2040 Vision Statement, especially for a city that was never laid out for growth, from roads to schools to social services to police and fire. In 2040 Mercer Island’s population was suppose to be a little over 24,000 according to the PSRC. Today it is 26,000,

        The past council on Mercer Island accelerated this growth because some thought it would end global warming. All it did is result in some out of scale and tragic town center development (on a bus line that was eliminated from the transit tunnel), and resulted in the 2018 levy to fail by 57.5%, very rare on Mercer Island.

        So whatever you want to say about Mercer Island and its land use policies, it has met its 2050 population targets 30 years early according to the 2040 Vision Statement.

      6. Was 26K the maximum build out for MI, or simply MI’s projected population based upon their share of expected regional growth? The region doesn’t stop growing in 2040 or 2050, so the population projections in those growth plans are just a statement of allocation, not a statement of carrying capacity.

  2. Leafline looks cool, but are there any maps or specifics on what the various ‘missing links’ are? I’d imagine the various counties would have their own long range plans, if anyone has links to share that would be helpful! I get they just launched but was looking for more specifics.

    Didn’t the last King County parks levy fund a bunch of new trails around the county?

    1. Oh I see now, they have 11 projects listed as priority. The video had a brief visualization but no specifics.

      Centennial Trail
      Eastrail
      Foothills Trail
      Georgetown to South Park Trail
      Green River North Extension
      Interurban Trail
      Lake to Sound Trail
      Mountains to Sound Greenway
      Pipeline Trail
      Seattle Waterfront Trail
      Sound to Olympics Trail

      1. I would love to see the Centennial Trail someday extend south to Woodinville, connecting to the Sammamish River Trail. Then, you could ride all the way from Seattle to Arlington with no cars. I would also like to see it extended northward to Mt. Vernon. Currently, it just ends at the Skagit County line in the middle of nowhere and, if you want to continue, you’re on a stretch of highway 9 without shoulders.

    1. My guess is it’s because compared to the other content available, Alex was the most attractive use to make of the space available.

      But there’s another highly transit-related possibility that could also include either transit PR or funding, or both. In WWII New York City, every month, a young woman’s photograph would be selected to make her “Miss Subways.”

      The wonderful movie called “On The Town” made her “Miss Turnstiles”, played by Vera Ellen, whose dancing probably made her the world’s top female athlete. Can you rent it from “Netflix?”

      Since no matter how Distance-friendly they were, ST went turnstile-free, don’t be surprised in the next ST Board meeting names Alex “Miss Proof of Payment.” But in addition:

      While sources are still non-committal, there’s also a chance that the Seattle City Council has reached the following arrangement with Uber and Lyfft to augment drivers’ compensation as follows.

      Since the movie features a lady cab-driver named “Brunhilde Esterhazy” (making her VERY Hungarian), every month one female driver will be able to post that name where passengers can see it. Though negotiations are stalled because nobody male wants to spend a month being Viktor Oban.

      Though you wouldn’t mind, would you, Sam?

      Mark Dublin

      1. Uh-oh…..well, just have to make it up to Senator Steve O’BAN by leaning on my own State delegation to help him get funding to get Tacoma Link to Steilacoom like before.

        And Hungary, which I’m pretty sure got streetcars when it was in the same empire as Austria, has the streetcar stop I’d most like to visit in the world. The park full of Communism’s most idiotic statues.

        So be patient, Premier Viktor OR-ban, and just keep doing what you’re doing. I’ll see what I can do to get the Seattle arts community to crowd-fund your statue. George Soros has probably already got his check in the mail.

        Mark Dublin

  3. My husband says they ARE enforcing the fare on the bus he was on this morning. He had no warning. There were no signs on the buses or anything.

      1. Considering the condition of passenger information in general, my guess is that if anybody’s expecting enforcement to equal punishment, the King County prosecutor is working from home for the duration. His vacation one in the San Juans.

        Mark Dublin

    1. Max, 100% agreement and then some. But Martin….

      “If you’re looking for intelligent transit observations on this feed, you’ll be disappointed.”

      Say what? I don’t see anything unintelligent about one missed day of publication in…how many years has it been?

      What I would say, though, is that Seattle Transit Blog could be one of transit’s most important instruments in guiding its efforts through the next several years.

      So what I would like to see is a posting devoted to telling us what we can contribute in the way of posted material from our own perspective and observations. Sound Transit and all its components will never get a better bargain on consultants’ wages.

      Mark Dublin

  4. I seem to remember a recent comment that the new plexiglass shields are interfering with bus drivers’ vision in their right-hand rear-view mirrors. Could some drivers confirm or deny?

    Olympia transit’s own balance sheet convinced us to finance transit by levy because cash just cost too much. So word to the fiscally-minded, Metro and ST: if a blocked mirror hurts anybody of mine, the judge will make you follow IT’s lead re: cash fares. With interest.

    Alternatives? Memory tells me SF MUNI has fare readers everyplace you look. And recall that in Toronto, major bus stops are proof-of-payment and subject to inspection. Understand also that ORCA is coming up for some ST board action. Been told there’s a chance intelligence will prevail.

    Make possession Proof of Payment, leave apportionment to the accountants and not the courts, and have Link treat Distance the same way ST 574 does, and your fare inspectors will be your most grateful fans. Like the old admonition says, Simple is the opposite of Stupid.

    Mark Dublin

  5. The TDLE open house is generally good. A few interesting things:

    – Most stations have a no-garage design option.

    – Some schematics have stairs in the middle of streets.

    – Pathways are a separate topic from station layouts.

    – Most stations have a large transit center area for several buses and bus layovers — to the point of even being seemingly unrealistic.

    It probably deserves a detailed STB post at some point. It’s been a post in the recent past, and the schematics are a whole other level of detail.

    1. Tons & tons of details. Perhaps these consultants should be busy creating this detail for the Stride Bellevue station, eh?

      I was excited to see the no-garage options. Similar to the Bel-Red station, it that would allow ST to meet the voter requirement to provide parking, but still have a footprint than can be easily repurposed into TOD once voters’ values change.

      The bus facilities generally make sense to me. Dome, Portland, and Fife all make sense as termini for N/S bus corridors ‘ribs’ connecting to the ‘spine’, to create a proper grid, rather than a radial network converging on downtown Tacoma as is currently done.

      Additionally, routes coming from downtown Tacoma towards the Dome may end up terminating at the Portland station rather than the Dome as Tacoma’s urban core should extend east of the Dome by 2035. Right now the official growth center extends to L street, a half mile east of the likely Dome station, so it will make sense for most route to have a stop at the Dome, a stop around L street, and then terminate/layover at Portland before returning back west or north.

      Fife would be the anchor for routes flowing NW-SE towards Puyallup and Sumner.

      The only one that seems suspect to me is South Federal Way, as I struggle to see why a route wouldn’t go all the way to Federal Way TC, unless it is PT running a route on 99 and/or 161 and wants to minimize the out-of-county mileage.

      1. “Once voters values change”? Didn’t voters just adopt a $30 tab fee?

        So build a station on the eastside or south King Co. based on what Seattle transit advocates want (the end of cars) so that in the future it can be reconfigured? Tell residents of Angle Lake they have the wrong values because they have to drive to the park and ride?

        This is a very misguided statement. “Changing values” has nothing to do with it. Density does. TOD would require huge population gains and rezoning of residential neighborhoods on the eastside, and my belief is zoning trumps transit on the eastside.

        This just shows the fundamental misunderstanding of transit on the eastside, and east King Co., and South King Co. to Tacoma, and Northgate to Snohomish Co. now that those lines are being built. Values are changing, to the extent eastside residents are questioning transit altogether because of the huge costs and future alternatives, except the eastside subarea has so much money.

        Support for transit overall on the eastside is waning, even though the eastside subarea has by far the most money, maybe because right now the transit available is so bad. There is no first/last mile access without cars. That is not a value statement, it is just a matter of fact. Buses from Seattle are seen as dangerous waiting for a return bus on 2nd Ave.

        There is no density, and the region is not suddenly going to see population growth that could create any kind of density in east King Co., which is a little smaller than Rhode Island. WSDOT is spending nearly $1 billion to increase capacity on 405. Even East Link travels long areas where there is almost no density, like along Bellevue Way from I-90 to the S. Bellevue park and ride with its 1500 stall park and ride. Look at Bellevue’s zoning: density (for Bellevue) in the core center as part of a promise the residential neighborhoods will never be upzoned.

        Dow Constantine is correct about the purpose of transit on the eastside, to get workers to and from work (which in the past meant Seattle), and of course means buses and highways. That is how ST 3 was sold to the eastside, although most are now having second thoughts. Other than peak commute times road capacity is fine. You can’t really live on the eastside without a car. With working from home it could be peak hour capacity is reasonable to drive to work. That would be a serious reduction in transit ridership on the eastside because so few on the eastside want to take transit if they don’t have to.

        No garage stations on the eastside is just ST trying to save money, although a network of feeder buses (IF a resident could walk from their home to a feeder bus) would be much more expensive than park and rides. I wouldn’t expect massive zoning changes for TOD anywhere on the eastside in the near future. Redmond is considered “dense”. On the eastside transit serves zoning, not the other way around.

        Transit on the eastside is not about scenic trips or milk runs. The distances are too great, and people ride transit because they have to. It is about traffic congestion. There are no “values” about transit. Without traffic congestion during peak times there would be no transit on the eastside.

        What I don’t see from ST and Metro right now is a meaningful discussion about how to deal with a likely 25% reduction in revenue in the long run. Ridership projections were exaggerated to say the least, and in 2019 ridership increased 1%. At some point ST and Metro have to face this reality: loss of ridership and revenue, which determines routes, frequency and mode, not the other way around. What is the real purpose of transit to support public subsidies?

        Transit, and especially ST, are too arrogant IMO, or at least they do not understand areas outside Seattle’s core. Transit won’t save the world, it will allow someone to get to work if road capacity is inadequate during peak hours.

        I think it is a mistake, like the PSRC’s 2050 Vision Statement that is based on 2018 data and assumptions, to think zoning will change for transit, when the vast majority of riders on transit wish they were not on transit, whether it is Uber/Lyft or a car or a driverless car, and ridership is likely to go down in the future, not up.

        Here is my advice. Complete East Link, and the rapid buses along 405, let Covid-19 pass, and then let the smoke clear. Ridership and ST revenue will determine what can be built and operated in each subarea, and so prioritize. I think in the future we will see a bifurcation between transit on the eastside (and maybe Pierce and Snohomish Counties) and Seattle, with much less cross-lake transit, which will force eastsiders to rethink ST and transit, and all the money the eastside subarea has despite a populace that does not really like transit..

      2. Daniel, I think you confuse “east King county” as literally all of King county east of Seattle. What is relevant to most transit conversations is only the area between Bothell and Issaquah, which is primarily the Bellevue isthmus not much larger than the Seattle isthmus.

        Bellevue and Redmond have already zoned for significant density around most East Link stations, so the TOD will come; there’s no need for political action at this point. Of course there’s no density along I90 – it’s a wetland! The urban corridor starts at East Main and extends all the way to Marymoore. That’s the urban form that will support good transit, which is what I think you are saying with, “transit serves zoning” … the necessary zoning already exists at nearly all future ST station areas.

        As for your advice, “complete East Link, and the rapid buses along 405, let Covid-19 pass, and then let the smoke clear,” that is actually exactly what is in the ST3 plan for East King. The EIS process for Kirkland-Issaquah will not start for several years, well into the next business cycle where we’ll have a good handle on post-pandemic travel patterns.

        As for the debate on the most cost effective way to serve low density cul-de-sacs, I recommend this post: https://seattletransitblog.com/2020/04/29/opportunity-cost-of-a-parking-garage/
        There certainly is a tipping point where parking is more cost effective than bus service, but at the current cost of structured parking the math generally points towards good bus service. I do think parking should continue to play a role in our station access plans, but even after investing hundreds of millions into parking, we are still serving only a tiny fraction of transit riders. Simply building bike parking and giving away bikes for free is more cost effective than parking garages.

      3. “Simply building bike parking and giving away bikes for free is more cost effective than parking garages.”

        Now, there’s an idea!

  6. I want to read a Post or Page 2 on the following: Metro’s Top 5 Milk Runs. Yesterday’s Route 50 post inspired this idea. I think the 50 would qualify as a milk run.

    1. How would you define “top”? By length? Number of stops? Number of turns? Number of passengers (and if so, would you want lowest or highest)? Proximity to bovine farms?

      I think that you should write a Page Two post that details all the requirements and collect feedback first ;)

      1. AM, go online to “Interurbans With Baggage Door Images” and find an elegant bright-orange light-rail car with maroon trim and a large sliding door.

        Which in addition to a tractor motor, would very likely have also been designed to accommodate at least a dozen milk cans.

        So to give the Route 50 the modification so long overdue, we need ASAP to get with Siemens and add the same alteration to a modest percentage of our new east-west fleet.

        Since so much of our “livery” is already just plastic applied over the paint, shouldn’t be any problem to “antique” the cars that’ll also be given the Doors. Which could also make bike trailers like the ones in Stuttgart optional.

        Oh and also, especially the closer Eastlink approaches North Bend- didn’t SAY Snoqualmie Summit but Just Sayin’…no, better not mention the deceased deer than interurbans also carried at certain seasons. In their own way, funeral streetcars.

        Mark Dublin

  7. Alex Hudson, you’ve made some very good points, but special thanks for leading into the following:

    1. As a lifelong transit advocate and participant whose two-lane scenic road-trips are my most “essential” recreation, the 18th Amendment definitely applies to passenger transit measures deliberately designed to get my car and everybody else’s out of each others’ way. Like I just told my State representative, car-wise, could be my Balance-Sheet’s Best.

    2. Since this isn’t about a recent so-called debate, I’ll lay off Dow Constantine for implying that transit is more about getting people to work than employing them.

    The transit system our region needs will efficiently employ a whole generation both building and operating. And also, especially at the community college level, training and instructing. So sorry, Dow, but in the name of transit, I can’t Stand Back any Farther or Stay any Readier!

    Mark Dublin

  8. Gong after the 18th amendment does not really help the transit cause. The state has too little funding for the eligible projects it has promised and the maintenance and sidewalks needed. Recent Legislatures have funded new limited access roadways and provided less gas tax revenue to local governments. Maintenance has been deferred. The gas tax has not been indexed to inflation.

    1. Nice shot. The streetcar network was taken out in 1940 and replaced by an electric trolleybus network. Yes, the Mercer bus base was there. There was a large ETB Jefferson base that has been absorbed by Seattle University. Between 1940 and 1963, routes 5, 6, 8, 15-18, and 16 were ETB, in addition to the current ones, though routes 2 East and 44 were added later. There were streetcar barns at 3rd Avenue West north of West Nickerson Street (SPU Science) and on Phinney Avenue at North 34th Street (Theo Chocolate).

      1. On second thought, this pic might not be looking northeast, it might be taken from the northeast looking southwest. Maybe someone more familiar with this area can tell.

      2. I think it’s the latter viewpoint, i.e., the hill in the background in this frame is the southern part of First Hill.
        That area has been totally transformed over the last two decades so most of the structures in the background of the picture have most likely been razed at this point, making landmarks more difficult to discern.

        Here’s another pic from the past of the trollybus base at Jefferson and 14th that I thought you might enjoy. It’s supposedly taken right before the base was closed and the trolleybuses moved to the Atlantic base, some 40 years after your picture. (The tower in the background appears to be the First Hill Plaza building.)

        https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jefferson_Base_Seattle_in_June_1982.jpg

  9. Daniel, the views of the Olympic Mountains and the Port of Seattle guarantee that out of the same mechanism that powers lemmings, Bellevue and Mercer Island residents will continue to go to Seattle in numbers most economically carried by trains.

    And if you think sinking the I-90 Bridge can stop them, it’s already been tried. There’s pictures. But go ahead and give it your best shot. Because it’ll only make it easier to get my ground-effect hydrofoil jet-boats in the water while east-side volunteers refloat the bridge.

    When COVID accommodates enough that my Thurston County’s IT system gives me back my ST 574 -to Sea-Tac- to Link-to UW ride, I’ll start doing surveys on foot as to how many street-kids have any plans to run away back to Mercer Island. Or even form Bellevue an ethnic community in exile.

    Thing I’m trying to rescue captive Easterners from is Jeff Bezos’ reckless determination to pacify jam-resistance by converting big sedans and sky-scraping SOV/SUV’s into self-driving motel bedrooms.

    Forcing my jet-boat captains to slack speed to rescue a lot of bored bedmates who’ve just jumped overboard, finding hypothermia a lot kinder way to go. And asylumn-seeking teenagers who’ll overpopulate Seward Park worse than Lesbos. But one thing, Sam:

    Please guarantee Mercer Island that the yard in your photo, and the depicted trains, are in fact already in West Seattle.

    Mark Dublin

  10. Throwing this out to the horde, with Amazon moving at least some jobs out of the city to Bellevue, is it time to revote ST3’s Seattle portion and I-976 still pending– say in 2022, change the alignment to the cheaper and quicker built Ballard to UW — if the vote fails, the original ST3 alignment opens in 2040-ish?

    1. Nope. Whatever jobs Amazon moves ‘out’ will be replaced. Those office buildings will remain full. If there is newly vacant office space, it will be in lower value locations, presumably Class C office parks from the 80s & 90s.

      1. Surely those lower value offices would be substantially cheaper than new construction downtown, appealing to companies that want physical office space somewhere but aren’t so picky about location.

        The bigger trend is that companies facing real competition (i.e. not Big Tech) are ruthlessly cutting expenses right now; shedding office space is much preferred to laying off people.

      2. @Mike Orr

        How important is the ability to recruit when the unemployment rate is in the double digits, and how long will it take for the unemployment rate to drop back from the double digits?

        More generally, how important is location (at a more granular level than the city) for one’s ability to recruit? I am thinking companies that are not #bigtech. Say REI and its decision to not move to the Spring District. How much more difficult will it be for them to attract people? Or like, Siemens (I think?) is in Bothell in one of the corporate parks up there. Are they having more trouble recruiting than if they were in the city?

        It’s a serious question. I would not work for Siemens because of the location, unless I happened to live right nearby, but I do not own a car and do not plan to change this. Most people are not quite so religious in their dedication to not owning a personal gas vehicle (or electric, I suppose, for that matter). But I know I am not alone, obviously. So what do we think the retention or application rate drop would be? 5%? 10%? More? And how does that balance against the cost savings for real estate?

      3. The REI example is illustrative … REI decided they did not want to incur the cost of a premium location, but instead of the land turning vacant like a dying mall, they were able to turn around and sell it at a tidy profit to Facebook, which is looking to expand the campus to house even more employees than REI was planning.

        @Alex – you are misunderstanding my point. Yes, of course many organizations will seek to save costs on rent by shedding space and relocating. But those aggregate decisions are already reflected in the prices … while there is some delay in market signals, if there was going to be a mad rush from high cost to low cost rental stock, we would see that show up in prices. To date, we have not seen that occur. Rather than anticipate microeconomic decisions, I’m looking at the macroeconomic data. The question about the trade off in rental savings vs other costs (i.e. retention) is spot on, but the balance is different for each company and certainly for each sector, so instead look at the macro prices.

        A parallel example is in housing right now. In Manhattan and San Francisco, market signals (price & vacancy rates) clearly reflect a movement away from the highest cost locations. However, in basically all other major US metros was are not seeing the same pattern (Zillow data shows city core and suburban prices trending together within metros). This make sense because at some price level (apparently, SF and Manhattan prices), people will abandon rental stock to save money during the pandemic but prices are still too high to deter people from moving in, while elsewhere in the US there are enough people moving in to take advantage of new vacancies to offset people moving out.

      4. “How important is the ability to recruit when the unemployment rate is in the double digits”

        it depends on the industry. Tech companies can’t find enough highly-skilled workers, and those workers are more unwilling than average to tolerate isolated office parks, so the companies have to come to them. Microsoft is unusual because although its form is 1-2 story office parks, it has a high level of transit access. Amazon chose not just anywhere in the Eastside but downtown Bellevue, and Facebook chose the Spring District. Both of those locations have or will have excellent Link connections and higher density than office-park hell. But in some other industries companies get ten times more applicants than they need, so they can locate in horrible Eastgate or the outskirts of North Kirkland or Bothell or the Kent Valley and still find enough employees.

        “and how long will it take for the unemployment rate to drop back from the double digits?”

        Surely it will be back in a year or two. That’s too short for companies to make long-term real-estate decisions based on it.

        REI’s move depends on where those smaller offices are located. If they’re in, e.g., central Renton and Bothell near the F, 101, and Stride, then that’s good. If they’re on some strip-mall arterial away from the trunk routes and frequent routes, then that’s bad.

      5. Forgive me for not being so optimistic about the unemployment rate returning to normal within a couple of years. Here is a graph for the last few recessions:

        https://www.cbpp.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/6-6-19budf4.png

        As we can see, it took over 6 years for the Great Recession to return to “full” employment. With indications that the induced recession through shutdowns will turn into a more standard but also “deep” recession, I may be a little loathe to assume that we will be back to full employment within a single year or even two.

        An argument can be made that even a single recession is too short for companies to make real estate decisions based on, and that’s true for the corporate giants, I imagine, but what about the smaller companies, especially those in need of larger but specialized space? I am thinking of companies like Siemens again. And what about smaller sales-and-support offices, etc.?

    2. ST3 is so long that a new generation of politicians will be in office in 2030 and they might think differently than those in 2016 did. It’s possible that cooler heads will eventually prevail on the Everett, Tacoma, and Issaquah projects and they’ll realize they’re not so beneficial after all and they’d rather have something else instead. However, I can’t guess how likely that might be.

      Seattle is more difficult because a Ballard-downtown line makes sense so it’s harder to kill. I can’t see the city fundamentally changing its mind and going with Ballard-UW instead. While it would be cheaper and a cross line would generate mode kinds of trips, there’s still an argument for downtown because it’s where the vast majority of destinations and transfers are, and there’s still the issue of potential UDistrict-downtown overcrowding if a Ballard-UW line is merged into it. And there’s still the need for more capacity downtown and in SLU that a Ballard-downtown line would address, assuming workplaces come back as something familiar and the population continues growing. If Amazon vacates some buildings, other companies will take its place and they’ll need transit too.

      Seattle or North King can’t modify ST3 unilaterally. It would require a vote of the entire ST district, and the reduction/modification levels would have to be coordinated across all subareas because the tax rate must be the same throughout the district. Unless ST splits into subarea tax districts, but neither ST nor the state have given any indication of considering that.

    3. ST3’s major local funding source is sales tax. I’m not sure but I don’t see Amazon moving jobs taking a direct hit on that. I believe that sales tax is either charged at the purchase location or at the mailing address of the recipient.

      The economic impact of the pandemic is more systemic than only where a job is based as higher unemployment and lower profits and bonuses means that people everywhere in the ST district buy less so sales tax revenues fall.

  11. mdnative, precisely because nobody could ever be more pro-Ballard than me, the transit I want for it is whatever will turn it back into a place where I can afford to live, on wages I can earn, for the rest of my life.

    So just going by “feel”, I’d first get it good and connected with West Seattle, something decades overdue, and also strong connections through Downtown Seattle to the whole east side of Lake Washington, and also the dual electric corridor called “Rainier Valley.

    As I just told Daniel, since Ballard counts as the best place in the region for people a couple of years before voting age, when they can also become Intercity Transit passengers by getting elected, to run away to.

    And along with Columbia City and Georgetown, breeds exactly the forces that transit’s eastern enemies hate and fear the most. When Boeing finally decides to change Everett’s name to “Vertol”, and fund parts supply manufacturers along the Ship Canal….

    According to YouTube, given lanes and signals, those Kenworth double-hinge electric artics should handle Wallingford just fine, without having to complicate Brooklyn Station (Well that’s what it IS!) with a junction.

    Also would not fight a Ballard connection with the First Hill loop that’d connect all those hospitals with the rest of the region. But anybody who’s raised children, please confirm or deny: for Jeff Bezos’ own good, isn’t it time we stopped paying so much attention to him?

    Leave him and Elon alone for awhile and not only will bookstores start existing again, but if Henry Ford could make the trucks of the 1960’s with union labor, Nikola Tesla wouldn’t have minded it either.

    What power is for is to move passengers, not compel subservience. And not only on Mars but on Earth too.

    Mark Dublin.

    1. Wonderful, Mike, especially the blend of scenery and pollution-preventing catenary.

      So tell me. If we hang the wire over Stevens Pass, considering the amount of lane-space every trainload will make available on Highway 2….

      Why SHOULDN’T the 18th Amendment consider it a Highway Use?

      Mark Dublin

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