41 Replies to “Sunday open thread: Crossroads Connect”

  1. I’m probably going to use it at least once, but 1) don’t like how it’s only after 3 pm, 2) kinda feel like the money would’ve been better spent just investing into normal transit service.

    1. I’m not sure what the exact service area is, but if you’re within a 15-minute walk of Crossroads Mall, it seems like it would be easier and quicker to just walk.

      Agree, having such a service only available after 3 PM is pretty weird, and will likely limit usefulness.

      This is also a service whose usefulness depends on other people not using it. Otherwise, the car will be busy carrying other passengers and you’ll just have to wait your turn, for however long it takes. If each trip entails 5 minutes empty driving, plus 5 minutes carrying a passenger, that’s a maximum of 6 passengers per hour that can be accommodated. That’s not a lot.

      1. I agree. It sure looks from the map as though the vast majority of users could just ride a regular bus. It does fill a small hole resulting from the 249 being suspended (see yesterday’s post), but that’s small and very low ridership.

      2. It extends a mile or more in three directions. This is where I grew up, although I was further east outside the service area. I could walk to the edge of the service area and take it, or I could walk to the same stop and take the 226 to Crossroads, Overlake, Eastgate, or downtown Bellevue — everywhere the shuttle goes and much more. So it looks a lot like similar pilots in Rainier Valley, West Seattle, and Tukwila. The City of Bellevue is paying for part of it, so that’s something. But what I would most have liked is 15-30 minute service on the 226. (It’s now 30-60 minutes. It was hourly when I lived there.)

  2. There is a nice article in the Pacific Magazine with todays Seattle Times on Metro drivers who have taken the buyout offer. They talk about how they started and some of the incidents they encountered over the years. There are also photos of uniforms and caps from years past.

    There is also a photo and a short article on a driver who is 89 years old and still working part-time.

      1. Well, Sam, any chance that’s because it’s one of the few jobs left in this country whose workers have any union protection at all?

        In the years when a Boeing worker’s wages could buy them not just a home but a house in Ballard and Wallingford, that corporation knew better than to list unions as a reason for moving 787 production to a Southern state without them.

        Well, goodbye, good riddance, and for those decades of State tax breaks, I want my money back. Though letting Everett give Boeing Vertol another try at light-rail might be fair compensation.

        For employment building, and work-related riding, alike.

        Mark Dublin

      2. It’s also difficult for blacks to penetrate the private sector due to discriminatory hiring practices (yes, civil rights legislation and all) and lack of connections on the inside of those companies to aid in the hiring of black applicants.

    1. Thank you for this notice, Jeff. These people deserve a lot of gratitude, honor, appreciation and a Congressional for bravery for just showing up for work.

      Transit driving is never a job. It’s an outlook and a way of life. The whole time I drove, at a very deep level I never completely relaxed about the chance that I could be late for work.

      Had a dream where the window-man writing me up for being late told me that the pink flamingos wandering around the lawn at Atlantic Base had just been added that morning so stop arguing.

      But, while the vehicle-handling physicalities could be somewhat comparable with over-the-road semi-driving, for bus drivers the work is really about the passengers. Individually and by the bus-load. Chickens, logs, and cold-rolled steel don’t file complaints. Or assault you on purpose.

      25 years after my last own sign-out, though, the drivers of most concern to me are the ones around 25 years old, from whom I’d like to hear a lot more from Seattle Transit Blog. Comments and postings both.

      My generation has left you with the fine transit system that the drivers mentioned in The Times helped build with their own hands. To create in stages the electric railroad the taxpayers would not buy whole.

      But we’re also bequeathing you a country in the same condition as a certain aerial bridge between I-5 and West Seattle. Please write in keep us posted as to anything we can do to help.

      Mark Dublin

  3. The 226 will be a bigger deal when the Spring District is built out, and that would justify greater frequency. I said the routes are confusing because the route numbers keep moving to different locations, and when I imagined above taking the 226 from eastern Northup Way to Crossroads, Overlake, Eastgate, and downtown Bellevue, I was thinking it would go the long way around on 20th and north Bellevue Way, but no, it goes down Bel-Red through the Spring District. It’s also a one-seat ride to Bellevue College. All those make it quite a useful route. more so than my old 226.

    And the overhead of going north to 24th to get to downtown Bellevue isn’t much. In the suburbs it takes only ten minutes to cross the entire city, and it’s only a few-minute overhead to get to 24th. People do it all the time in a car when they want to take Bel-Red to downtown Bellevue instead of 8th, and to access 520 and for shopping in Overlake.

    1. “The 226 will be a bigger deal when the Spring District is built out, and that would justify greater frequency.”

      Will it? Half the route (Crossroads to Eastgate P&R) is unaffected by Link. The other is almost redundant with Link, but Bel-Red road is just far enough from Link, and the Link stops just far enough apart from each other, that the Bel-Red road section of the 226 probably needs to be retained.

      So, the 226 basically becomes a coverage shadow, serving intermediate destinations not well served by Link, for people that don’t want to walk 1/2 mile-1 mile from the nearest Link stop.

      While I don’t see the 226 going away completely, I have a hard time seeing how Link would justify it being any more frequent than it is today.

      1. It’s not Link, it’s the build out of the neighborhood that will support higher frequency. There’s definitely a need for a bus on Bel-Red east of 140th, Link will be ~0.5 mile away; once you are at that point, it doesn’t make sense to force a transfer for a short distance so you end up going all the way to Bellevue TC since that’s where most people will be going.

        I suppose you could take the Crossroads to Eastgate P&R segment and terminate it at Overlake Village station (a more interesting terminus once Link opens) or Redmond TC (through-route with the 225?) and focus the frequency on that route, but you still need an local route on Bel-Red unless you expect everyone in that pocket to walk the full distance to Link or B.

        It looks like the 226 is through-routed with the 241 … I wonder if the 226 pivots to N/S to serve Msft/Link, the 241 can take care of the Bel-Red section? 241 might be a better link shadow as it will have the same function serving Bellevue Way in lieu of the 550. However, the segment between S Bellevue & Factoria lacks any bus infrastructure and is complete gridlock during rush hour so might make sense to divorce that segment from any other route.

      2. It’s not Link, it’s the build out of the neighborhood that will support higher frequency.

        Call me skeptical. Looking at the zoning for Bellevue (https://cobgis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=e1748172d4f34f1eb3710032a351cd57), BelRed road is surprisingly weak. There is a strip zoned for offices, but those are bound to be small. On the other side it is retail, but currently that is at best a mini-mall, and at worst a tire repair shop. You could say the same thing about Aurora 20 years ago, but Aurora was zoned for apartments along the street, and in many cases, next to it, extending several blocks.

        Another difference is that Aurora doesn’t have alternative roadways, while Bel-Red does. The B manages to go by just about every major cluster of density within the area — and connect to Link multiple times. Everything that a more frequent Bel-Red Road bus would do, the B does much better.

      3. Bel-Red will need a local shadow for the same reason MLK needs a local shadow. The 226 is on that street so why not make it the shadow.

      4. Bel-Red will need a local shadow for the same reason MLK needs a local shadow. The 226 is on that street so why not make it the shadow.

        Link runs down MLK for about four miles. Link won’t run down Bel-Red at all. The buses that “shadow” Link on MLK stop at all four train stops (eventually to be five, if not more). There isn’t a single Link stop on Bel-Red. I don’t think it is analogous.

        The closest thing to a shadow for that part of East Link is the B Line. It follows the same basic path, and intersects Link at several stops — more than just at the endpoints. I still wouldn’t call it a shadow though. There won’t be a shadow for that part of Link, nor should there be. Shadows only make sense if you have a long corridor with just the right amount of relative density. Enough to warrant an additional bus line, but not enough to warrant more stops.

    2. Does anyone here envision any route alignment changes, or new routes, when East Link is running? For example, should the 249 or 226 be making a turn onto 120th or 130th? Or, should either of those routes, or a newly created route, be going up that new road, NE Spring Blvd? That’s the road that will be basically being going down the middle of the Spring District, in between Northup and Bel-Red.

      1. Great question.

        I would definitely expect a restructure. As to what it looks like, I have no idea. It is a challenge, to be sure. I’ll admit, I haven’t spent that much time looking at it, but when I have, I quickly feel overwhelmed. It has everything that makes transit planning a huge challenge. You have a huge disparity in density (this isn’t Wallingford). The Link stations are not designed holistically — they aren’t designed with a larger transit network in mind (otherwise you wouldn’t be asking the question). The physical geography is challenging (as it is in most of the Northwest). It is also huge — there is a lot of land to cover. On top of all that, a lot of the housing doesn’t follow a grid. The combination makes it really tough. The disparity in density (1) is a bigger problem if you have acres and acres of low density, inaccessible housing (4 and 5), and no easy way to connect it to Link (2 and 3).

        For example, imagine a bus that goes from the Eastgate Park and Ride, straight up 140th to Redmond Way, where it then turned and went to downtown Kirkland. At first glance, this seems like a great bus. It would be fast, as it would only make one turn (not counting the layover at downtown Kirkland. It would go by Bellevue College, and a fair number of densely populated areas. It would connect parts of Kirkland with Redmond (always a good thing).

        Except it wouldn’t connect to Link. A bit north of 405 it would be running through what is essentially farmland. It would then transition to low density housing, but even then it wouldn’t serve it well (because you can’t serve it well — there is no street grid, which means “you can’t get there from here” — https://goo.gl/maps/E8Q1n7YV4VdXEkkD9). Even the connection to Bellevue College and Eastgate is flawed, instead of just stopping once or twice next to the campus, the buses do weird loops. It all adds up to a giant “never mind” and you are back to buses that turn every mile or so — a prescription for slowness and bad frequency.

        Other than “straightening out” the B Line (having it skip Overlake Village, and just go straight up 156th, it is tough for me to think up ideas. It generally looks like a zero-sum game, which means that what the East Side really needs, more than anything, is a lot more money so they can have decent transit. Oh, and maybe an-all day express bus or two to the UW (e. g. I will continue to push for a UW-main-campus to UW-Bothell express bus on 405, making all of the freeway stops).

      2. I don’t think Spring Blvd itself needs a route – it’s rather short, and the Link stop spacing is very close at 120th & 130th – unless you want to dogleg a future 249 down from Northrup to interface with Link. That might be a compelling Link connection for the 249 stops that are north of SR520 (south of 520, you can just walk to Link itself). But for routes on Bel-Red or 8th, I think you leave then on those more linear roads and connect to Link elsewhere, and I’d probably say the same for Northrup.

        Spring is going to be very different than Rainier – it will be a narrow road, only 1 lane each way in addition to the LRT ROW – so I’m not sure it will be well suited for a bus. Plus, I don’t think it will exist west of 130th, so it may not function at all as a through route.

  4. I am happy to see the finishing touches on the Northgate Link and also happy to see the Lynwood Link take shape. But I am even happier to see the pedestrian overpass take shape. When I was younger I walked by McDonalds and under I-5. What a mess.
    When I was younger, my mom drove us to Northgate Mall all the time. I never really thought about building it. Not sure why. Probably my childhood car perspective could not see why it was needed. Would’ve been great to have that earlier. But I am happy to see it finally being built.

  5. The package of improvements I would like to see for Rapidride D would include it being rerouted out of Lower Queen Anne. You could fill the gap with either Rapidride H or R (I would rather have it be the R than the H). I would also want for its headways to be 5 minutes or better between 6AM-9PM, 10 minute or better till midnight, and half-hourly owl service. And lastly, I want the line to be electrified using Trolleybuses with “In Motion Charging”. These wires wouldn’t need to be physically to the rest of the network, or anything like turnback loops. You would have one section of new wire between say Denny/Elliott and 15th Ave NW/Nickerson and another between NW Market and Carkeek Park.

    1. Your wants are interesting but those electric wires cost money to install and right now Metro is not in the best financial shape as we can see by their service cuts they made. The SDOT budget was cut in the budget proposal made by the mayor.

      Right now no one knows when the financial situation will improve for the city and Metro so any project that will cost money that is not already allocated will have to wait.

      1. @Jeff Pittman:

        The electrification project would be the first I’d drop. But I don’t think it’ll be nearly as expensive as the 48 electrification. While it’s considerably longer, its almost all straightaways, and I’m not proposing any direct physical connection to the existing Trolleybus network.

    2. With battery technology getting better and better, I’m not sure that spending millions on new trolley wire is the best use of money. In the long term, the buses will be electrified with or without trolley wire.

      Especially now that Metro is struggling just to keep any sort of buses on the road.

    3. Of those ideas, I think only one is realistic: Have the D skip Lower Queen Anne. I wonder how many people go between Ballard and Lower Queen Anne? If the answer is “not many”, then I would make that change.

      I wouldn’t bother extending any of the RapidRide routes to Lower Queen Anne. I think it is clear now that RapidRide is BS. It is a symbolic moniker. We want the changes that come along with it (bus lanes, off-board payment, stop consolidation) but those can (and have) happened anyway. If you are on Lower Queen Anne and are headed downtown, you don’t wait for the D. You simply take the first bus that arrives (1, 2, 13 or D). You appreciate the new bus-lanes (that have nothing to do with RapidRide). On your return trip you tap your ORCA card downtown, knowing full well that it doesn’t matter what bus you take at that point (you can board at any door).

      Instead of extending another RapidRide bus I would just improve the 2 and 13. (The 13 could be paired with the 12, while the 2 remains the 2 from Queen Anne to the Central Area). Run them every 15 minutes. That would mean 12 buses an hour from there towards downtown. Oh, and you also have the 8, which some might prefer, and others find at least gets you along the way.

      Or course extending the R up to Uptown has value on its own. There may be people in Rainier Valley that want a one-seat ride to their destination. There was talk in the past of pairing the 70 and 7 (when they become RapidRide), but splitting bus routes can make them more dependable.

      All of that is a long ways away though. Those sorts of changes make more sense when you are adding service. Speaking of which, another alternative would be to run the 18 all day (in addition to the 40 and D). You would try and run it opposite the 40 in Ballard.

      1. There’s a dense block of western LQA that is well served by D at 3rd W & Mercer but not by the 2 or 13. Maybe take one of the Magnolia routes (24 or 33) on the dogleg through Uptown in lieu of the D?

      2. @Ross B : The Rapidride brand is, and has fundamentally been (for all cities that do it) about getting the Feds to pay for operations costs. The requirement for the Feds to do that is the stupid branding. This will be the case until this Country enters into Civil War.

        Since I want the 2S to be THE Pine/Union route, I’d want the Northern parts to be incorporated into the 7/R, just having the 7’s Northern terminal be SPU.

        Quite honestly, I’d rather put the emphasis on simplifying the system further, and that’s why I’m kind of meh on just reintroducing the 15/18 as local shadows.

      3. @AJ: I’m presupposing something like the 8W/11 goes all the way to Magnolia, taking over parts of the 24/33. I’m also assuming that the Boren/MLK route terminates at Elliott.

      4. I want the 2S to be THE Pine/Union route

        I see a couple problem with that:

        1) While the east part of the 2 has pretty good density (better than a lot of people would expect) it is still nothing like the Pike/Pine area. Pike/Pine makes sense as a split.

        2) You create a bunch of awkward holes on Capitol Hill. They either have a two seat ride to downtown, or they walk a very long ways to Link. Given the density in the area, that would be throwing away a lot of ridership.

        I think it makes sense to have several buses on Pike/Pine, with frequency (of each one) in the 10-15 minute range, thus providing good frequency on the combined area.

        Regardless, splitting or continuing the two to upper Queen Anne is largely a cost/reliability trade-off. A handful of people benefit from through-routing, but the big benefit is not having to deal with additional layovers (even if the bus is a bit less reliable). In my opinion the reliability question should be dealt with head-on. If a bus is stuck in traffic, break out the paint.

        Quite honestly, I’d rather put the emphasis on simplifying the system further, and that’s why I’m kind of meh on just reintroducing the 15/18 as local shadows.

        Agreed. It all comes down to ridership and funding. Before the recent cutbacks, the D ran every 10 minutes in the day time, and 15 at night. That is barely adequate. I would boost frequency before adding what would essentially be an all-day express overlap on top. But if Seattle continued to grow (for that area) and had the money, I could see the D running every 8 minutes, and the 18 every 8 minutes, thus providing high frequency service in Ballard, and an express worth waiting for.

      5. I’m presupposing something like the 8W/11 goes all the way to Magnolia, taking over parts of the 24/33. I’m also assuming that the Boren/MLK route terminates at Elliott.

        Metro has a lot of similar ideas. Frankly, I don’t get it. It is hard for me to see the benefit of extending the 8W/11 beyond Lower Queen Anne. I would rather run that bus twice as often, than out to Magnolia. Magnolia would rather have more buses to downtown, and I’m not sure any additional buses from the south are justified. If I were to improve things for Magnolia, I would send the 31/32 there — both via Interbay (e. g. https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1EDI0cT31ZpXXYpZuQCUUlWb8xQU&ll=47.63845530271391%2C-122.39171537969655&z=13).

        Likewise sending the Boren route to Elliot. Elliot is “on the way”. It will always have way more transit than it would otherwise justify. Every bus from downtown to Ballard goes on Elliot. Every bus from downtown to Magnolia goes on Elliot. Yet there is very little on Elliot. It doesn’t need more.

      6. Ross, my ideas are also presupposing some version of the DSTT2. So the holes the would exist there would be much smaller than you’re imaging. The Aloha route would feed into one of Link’s SLU stations, and so N. Capitol Hill would still have an OSR to Link.

        I want the 13 to be THE route in Queen Anne, much like how the 67 has emerged as THE U-District to Northgate route, the 40 emerged from a primordial soup of lesser routes, and my 2 proposal. It’s sort an alternative to interlining with the 70 (Though I still think the proposed extension of the 70 to Mt. Baker is a good one).

        I wouldn’t introduce a Limited stop overlay until after the D corridor hits 5 minute headways. Coming from the Bay Area (Which had quite a few of them), things would’ve been better if they just stop consolidation and ran one service on those corridors. (Geary. Mission, San Bruno, Fulton, 19th Ave, San Pablo, MacArthur, International, Santa Clara, and Hwy 101.)

        As for the 8W, I’m assuming the 8E (38?) runs alongside to at least Westlake (Because I’m having the 8E turn around in Belltown to fill a hole I created by moving the C/H/40/62* to 5th/6th Ave).

        And again I feel that with the DSTT 2, I can get away with taking away Magnolia’s OSR to 3rd Ave.

        The Boren/MLK route (which I’ve taken to calling the 16) turns around at Elliott so riders can transfer to the D.

      7. And again I feel that with the DSTT 2, I can get away with taking away Magnolia’s OSR to 3rd Ave.

        Oh. If you are talking about after Ballard Link, then everything changes. There will be no D (your proposal to change the D was the starting point of this thread). There might be a coverage bus on Elliot/15th south of the Ballard Bridge, but even that isn’t clear. That is all so far away I’m not even worried about it. We may have self-driving buses and a President Ocasio-Cortez by then.

        I’m thinking more about things that could happen in the next five years. I’m specifically thinking of restructures surrounding the Madison BRT (RapidRide G) as well as Northgate and East Link. I also assume that funding will be better by then.

        Better funding makes it much easier to make changes that would otherwise be unpopular. A system that is more like a grid means a lot more transfers. If we can’t afford good frequency, then those transfers become very unpopular. Likewise, if riders are expected to walk a long distance, then they better have a frequent bus, not one that comes every half hour. Hopefully we will have the funding and other backbone services (like RapidRide G) to create a better overall network in about five years.

        Your D proposal is a good example. Let’s say we straighten it out, and it runs every 8 minutes all day. Also assume that the 1, 2, and 13 are all a bit more frequent. That means that someone in Lower Queen Anne no longer has their one-seat ride to Ballard. But they do have a frequent ride down to Denny, where they can catch the D. These riders are worse off — they have a two seat ride. But they aren’t that much worse off — the bus to Ballard is more frequent, and the buses to downtown are as well. Meanwhile, all those riders taking trips within Ballard/Magnolia, or those trying to get from Ballard to downtown are better off. The bus is faster and more frequent.

        In contrast, if we made the change right now (during the cutbacks) the best we could do is probably 10 minute frequency for the D. The 2 and 13 run infrequently, and while the 1 is better, it only has 15 minute headways. There would be no money to shift extra service between Lower Queen Anne and downtown. (You could shift a few tails around, but that costs more than the savings from having the D avoid Queen Anne). Thus someone in Lower Queen Anne is much worse off. They lose their one seat ride to Ballard, and getting to downtown is worse than ever.

        A lot of the changes I would like to see make sense only when we have extra service.

      8. Ross, I’m advocating for extra service, because that goes back to the “raison d’etre” of transit advocacy. I kind that of feel that I’d be more useful to the community here by offering ideas on optimizing an expanded pie as opposed to optimizing a stagnant one. I’m trying to give the community here a more concrete of what service could be.

        Note, I said there was some form of the DSTT2 around, I did not necessarily say it manages to reach Ballard yet in this scenario (Though it would be carrying East Link and West Seattle Link trains), but even if it did I would keep some form of the D around, regardless. Maybe going to Blue Ridge again instead of Carkeek park, but for me theres no reason the 15th Ave NW route South of the Bridge shouldn’t just continue well north of it like it does now.

      9. Note, I said there was some form of the DSTT2 around, I did not necessarily say it manages to reach Ballard yet in this scenario (Though it would be carrying East Link and West Seattle Link trains).

        If we go with the current plan (to build West Seattle Link first) then it will be very long time before we build the tunnel, whether it connects to Ballard (as is the plan) or falls short somehow.

        even if it did I would keep some form of the D around, regardless. Maybe going to Blue Ridge again instead of Carkeek park, but for me theres no reason the 15th Ave NW route South of the Bridge shouldn’t just continue well north of it like it does now.

        I think you have it backwards. When Link gets to Ballard, there will be plenty of buses north of the Ballard Bridge. Some of those could be RapidRide, ending at the station (or more likely, the heart of Ballard but passing by the station). But there will be very few south of it. It just isn’t worth it. There are very places to serve between downtown and the Ballard Bridge, and Ballard Link will serve most of them. The remaining spots become coverage areas.

        We can’t have it all. We can have buses running frequently, and we can cover every nook and cranny in our region, but we can’t do both. We can’t have a coverage route running frequently (like a RapidRide does). These minor destinations along that corridor are no longer “on the way”. They won’t have frequent service, because it will no longer be a good value to serve them.

  6. For what it’s worth, “ECC” a night or two back, the NPR program called “Reveal” alleged that in the year 2000, our country’s every major employer staged a major lobbying blitz that pretty much took worker safety out of the Federal Government.

    And that ever since, Amazon has been taking full Advantage, in the word’s most perjorative sense. They gave examples of terrible lifelong injuries caused by performance calculations that amount to negligent homicide.

    So I wonder if any STB readers trust this website’s anonymity enough either to deny or confirm that charge. Either way, my word to my Reps is that for the future of US education, everything taught with management in mind should require an equal amount on the practice of organized labor.

    BTW, the Greek term “Cynic” is not really anti-dog. More likely the originator’s own treatment made HIS dog lie around snarling all the time. NYC, Baltimore, “Philly” and Boston….I think our Founders classed their own average transit-rider’s outlook class as “Focused Common Sense.”

    Mark Dublin

    1. Here’s a direct quote of ST from Oct 2018:

      “We have determined that even with intensive repairs and maintenance on the current escalators, the costs would be unsustainable, the current units still wouldn’t meet our performance standards, and we would need to replace them anyway in 2025.

      “So we’re going to bite the bullet now and replace all 13 escalators at UW between 2019-2022.”

      https://www.soundtransit.org/blog/platform/record-fixing-escalator-reliability-issues

      Very interesting.

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