68 Replies to “News roundup: coming soon”

  1. 1. Southworth/Downtown Seattle fast ferry? Hope it sets a trend. Any chance ST and Kitsap could arrange an express bus connection out of Tacoma?

    2. Remind me what Sound Transit needs to do to so Mercer Island residents can take advantage of the excellent light rail they’re finally getting. No chance East Link won’t bring their merchants enough customers to let buses earn their keep?

    3. What the Times leaves out is the heartbreak at least some drivers are feeling at having to leave decades of their lives’ work so far short of its potential. For the sake of its own survival, Sound Transit needs an electorate that’ll consider itself vehicle mechanics. Like with a certain bridge, repairs are mandatory.

    4. One driver’s opinion, but best I can do. Death toll’s not about road design, but outlook and cellular vehicle-handling skill. Legitimate mandatory separation is violating our cellular need for company in the face of fear.

    Does high-school even have “Driver’s Ed” anymore? At defendant’s expense, every fine should be commuted to mandatory hands-on retraining with a State Police instructor “ridin’ shotgun.

    Reason we’re not extinct is our nerves and muscles’ urge to survive while feeling our lousiest.

    Mark Dublin

  2. What bus routes will change with the new Lander Bridge? I’m guessing just the 50.

    In the long run I could see extending a north-end bus south onto the busway, then crossing Lander and ending somewhere close to Starbucks. This would eliminate the hefty walk from the SoDo station to that area. This would be a rush-hour only bus. So something like the 15 would be extended down there. This would make it easier to have the 50 skip SoDo, and just go to Beacon Hill via the Spokane Street Viaduct.

    1. Ross, I was thinking of extending the 40/62 into the area. Not simply to backfill the 50, but the 101/150/59x service on the busway.

      Would you be interested in a map of some of the ideas I was talking about the other day?

      1. I was thinking about bus riders as well, but didn’t make that explicit. I didn’t just mean folks walking from the train stop, but the bus stop as well. I would include those on the 131 and 132 as well.

        Yeah, I’m always happy to look at maps.

      2. Both the 40 and the 62 are really long routes, extending them seems like it might lead to more unreliability overall. Back in the day (early 2000s, at least?) The 7 was through-routed with the 49 (technically I think it was just called the 7 back then) and the reason it was split was to avoid those reliability issues.

        It might make sense though to have a different 62 split where the coverage tail is its own less frequent route (Roosevelt Station to end) and the frequent section from Greenlake on down is… well, frequent, and perhaps extends beyond downtown as suggested above. I am not nearly as familiar with the 40 but perhaps a similar setup could be obtained there too.

      3. Yeah, my choice would be a rush-hour only route. I don’t think you can justify it as an all-day trip. I think the best bet is the 5X, or what will be the 16. It goes on Aurora, which means that if it deadheads back, it can use the SR-99 tunnel. That would also mean that it could serve a few stops on 1st. That would mean looping around — no one would take that bus from downtown (they would take the 21). But someone from the north (on those buses or Link) would take it. Those stops wouldn’t get a lot of riders, but they would be worth the small price to serve them.

        Another alternative would be to find a bus that headheads to the south. I have no idea what express buses do that, but if one did, then a few extra service stops would be a good value.

      4. Ross, then I’ll get to it. It might take a few days to hack everything together due to my schedule.

        @AM, this would both routes by about a mile, and I’d say its fairly comparable to the extension of the C through SLU. And they were simply the first routes that came to my head. Continuing my promotion of “Partially Wired” routes, we could have a version of the 3N covering this segment. Though in my scenario, the 40 isn’t going to Northgate, and the 62 has moved back to Aurora.

  3. I’m thinking that for SODO transit routing, all modes and all directions, we might be thinking about taking land-use planning three-dimensional.

    Recalling some impressive prints from the turn of the 20th Century, I’m wondering if safest course might not be to return it to its natural state of wetlands.

    Before plate tectonics do the job for us. Not “how much population and activity we put in there….but how much we dare? One map shows interurban catenary on Rainier Avenue, so we really should pay attention.

    Mark Dublin

  4. So, ST is simultaneously doubling down on more parking garages while cutting Link frequency. This is backwards. Sounder serves only the peak commute and is losing the most ridership to work from home. Anecdotally, park and rides I’ve seen have been nearly empty. Link, by contrast, is about the all-day demand and, for the most part, isn’t dependent on parking for it’s ridership.

    1. Careful, asdf2. According to Local News, highway lethality’s not waiting ’til Halloween to start dishing out Tricks that no Treatment can heal.

      So Martin’s Road Fatality findings this morning twitter-CANCELED the Angle Lake drive that was to kick off an ESSENTIAL Route 7 fact-finding trip.

      Not warning but promise: Try to mess with it and the breathtaking Waters Avenue/Prentice Street “Tail” is going to be wagging itself from its place on The Historic Register.

      But my main point is that, with Intercity Transit 612 now suspended, this morning’s employment profile could reflect how many Olympians from here on could be sharing their driver’s seat with the last Fall colors view of their life.

      When Angle Lake Station’s parking is full, across the street you pay $10. Good thing that, Post-COVID, parking garages can re-purpose to full-bore TOD. Provided that ST’s voters make their elected representatives so build them.

      Mark Dublin

    2. Short term vs long term. Link frequency is ‘right-sized’ to meet current demand, while the garage is being built for a post-covid world.

      1. Transit ridership depends on first/last mile access. If you can’t get to transit what is the point? If park and rides on the eastside and more rural areas like Angle Lake are a post-Covid world, so is Link. For ST’s sakes I hope current demand for Link is not the same as future demand, or it isn’t right sized, and is unaffordable, which is why working from home is terrifying for transit. In fact East Link is predicated on huge increases in ridership that were fantasies before Covid-19.

        If frequency is to increase so must ridership (although I understand some think frequency and number of riders are unrelated), and those riders have to get to transit first. First/last mile access just require different methods for dense parts of Seattle and the less dense suburbs, something ST never understood.

        Covid won’t solve first/last mile access, although it may reduce ridership on transit, especially for commuters, when Covid passes. Since ST is praying for a return of ridership it is building park and rides in the less dense parts of the three counties. In the dense areas of Seattle, if ridership returns, I would imagine there would be greater bus frequency for first/last mile access.

        Unless someone has a third method of first/last mile access for areas that have little density like most of the eastside, north and south of Seattle, and Pierce County and Snohomish Co.

      2. Except the park and ride garages are a terrible value in the long run as well. We would be much better off with feeder buses and satellite park and ride lots.

      3. “Since ST is praying for a return of ridership it is building park and rides in the less dense parts of the three counties.”

        The Sounder P&Rs in Kent and Auburn and maybe in Snohomish and Pierce are going through because they’re ST2 projects. Everything else in ST2 is expected to be finished by 2025 so they don’t want a few P&Rs dangling on for longer.

        The reason for P&Rs, both on Sounder and Lynnwood Link and Everett Link, is twofold. One, to minimize hide & ride, which is considered a negative environmental impact on the neighborhood that ST should mitigate. Two, the communities and subareas demanded them. They said they’d vote for ST3 only if it includes these large P&Rs. So ST would have built some smaller P&Rs, but the communities convinced it to build more of them and larger ones.

        P&Rs are still a terrible value, both in the cost per stall and in the number of passengers they deliver. If a P&R has 500 spaces and most of them are 9-5 commuters, that’s just one Link train run full out of the dozens of runs each day. So the vast majority of riders can’t park there because all the spaces are full all day, so they have to come another way. So all the riders who arrive by bus or drop-off or foot or bike are paying an extraordinary subsidy to the few lucky riders who get a P&R space.

      4. The reason we have P&R is because they are seen as useful. Hide & ride has nothing to do with it – that’s a curb management and parking enforcement problem, garages are neither a cause nor solution. I see the reason for P&Rs as twofold

        1. They effectively service a segment of transit ridership that is not well served by other forms of station access (transit, bike parking, bike & ped infrastructure, etc.). This is different that serving those riders “efficiently,” which is an argument from a very narrow set of unstated values (values that I generally share, but the public generally does not). The simple fact is there are a large amount of people who cannot easily access transit otherwise. The people may be a small fraction of the addressable market, but then we only spend a small fraction of our capital dollars on parking. There are people who need to drive to access transit, and we will (soon!) price parking to ensure scarce parking is used by those who value it hte most. Parking is a small but essential part of the transit ridership toolkit.

        2. Parking very efficiently serves a broad segment of the population that is best described as the ‘occasional’ rider. Here, I’ll point to Alon Levy’s argument around AIrport Express transit: P&Rs may serve a small number of daily riders, but they are serve a very large number of unique riders per year. This gives P&Rs large appeal, as most people can say, “yeah, I’ll use that public service a few times a year.” P&Rs are a very effective & efficient way to serve riders accessing Link for non-repetitive trips that don’t overlay with daily travel patterns, whether that’s a major event on a weekday evening or a midday errand on a holiday.

      5. I meant, ST’s reasons for P&Rs. These are the explanations ST has given for Northgate Link and Lynnwood Link: to mitigate hide & ride, and because of subarea demand.

      6. The 550’s daily ridership has always far exceeded the number of parking spaces along route. So, simple math says that people on the eastside who ride transit without driving to it do exist.

        Link will be similar. It will get some ridership from park and rides, but a lot more people from a combination of people who live near the stations, people who connect via bus, and reverse commuters to jobs in Bellevue/Redmond from homes in Seattle.

        $100,000 for a parking stall that adds just one round-trip rider each weekday is terrible use of money. And it is basically one space, one daily rider. The number of people who carpool to a park-and-ride for their daily commute is miniscule, as is the number of parking spaces that turn over in the middle of the day.

      7. And, the $100,000 per parking stall to add one daily rider may actually be even worse. Some of the people who park there are truly people who have no other options to access transit. But there are plenty more who park there that live right along a bus route that goes to that same park-and-ride, but choose to drive there because parking is free, so why not. If 30% of the park-and-ride users would have taken the feeder bus if they couldn’t find parking, each space is actually contributing an average of just 0.7 riders, not even 1. And, of course, the money spent building and maintaining the parking garages means less money available to run feeder buses, which further makes the buses less attractive to ride, pushing more people into the drive-to-park-and-ride-or-abandon-transit category.

        Another way to put it. $100,000/stall * 0.7 riders per stall = $142,857/rider. If this money is borrowed at 3% interest, that’s $4286 per stall per year in interest payments alone, not including principle repayment or insurance/maintenance. Assuming 250 weekdays per day, this results in an effective cost of $17.14 per round trip rider or (dividing by 2), $8.57 per passenger-trip added to the transit system. Even suburban coverage-oriented bus routes usually have a per-passenger subsidy around this range. During peak hours, when ridership is higher, the per-passenger subsidy is probably less. And this is all calculating the garage costs without even including repayment of principle or maintenance. Nor does it include the opportunity cost of the land used by parking, which could be used for housing, allowing more people to walk to the transit station.

        So, simple back-of-the-envelope math says that, even in a place like Kent, simply running more buses to connect to Sounder is probably at least as effective, if not more so, than adding parking, at least in terms of riders gained per dollar spent. It’s also a lot more equitable. More parking benefits only people who have cars. More buses means even people who don’t have cars enjoy more frequent service. Similarly, more parking only benefits people traveling in the peak direction (unless you buy an extra car to store in the garage overnight). More buses can also be used for last-mile travel in the reverse direction.

      8. Park’N’Rides are a poor solution to the last mile, because they don’t scale and mid-day riders (at least in the recent past) could not be certain of being accommodated. They’re fine for the sorts of people who simply won’t ride transit if they have to wait for anyone between their stop and the destination to board or deboard. Park’N’Rides are for people who want a Cadillac ride on someone else’s dime.

        When peak congestion was bringing the region to its knees their exorbitant cost was justifiable. But they are 100.000000000% dedicated to serving the suburb-to-downtown trip. If, as you predict, le centre du Citee est morte then they will remain empty. People going from Auburn to The Landing who own a car will drive.

        So get your story straight. Either transit is going to be for the great unwashed — who almost by definition don’t have cars to park at the P’N’R — or peak ridership is going to return.

      9. @Mike – fair enough. I find the park & hide argument dubious. Perhaps they mean that if people are parking & hiding, there is a need for more parking.

        @asdf – I think the data shows one parking space creates ~1.2 riders, between carpooling and spots turning over through the day (spot turnover isn’t relevant for Sounder, but for Link there should be a good market for evening trips reusing spaces that turnover late afternoon).

        The “people who could access transit via bus or walk but choose to drive” should be mitigated once we start charging for parking across the network. If someone is willing to pay >$75/month to park, in addition to fares, I’m comfortable that they have a good reason to not access the station via a different mode. Once ST prices parking appropriately, we should see higher ridership as some riders shift from parking to walk/roll/bus to the station, freeing up spaces for others to park.

        And the same argument applies to improvements to station access and bus service – as we provide better options for people to access stations in lieu of parking, so people will shift away from parking, which frees up spots for new riders. As suburban station areas densify and are able to support stronger local bus networks, there should be a virtuous growth cycle as the stations’ mode share shift away from parking. (Ross uses the same argument in favor of a network of leased parking lots to create the demand for a good bus route)

        A $9/ride subsidy isn’t terribly different than a moderately below average route. If you did your math right, there’s little difference between acquiring riders through a garage and through an all day local route, which supports my original argument that garages are an effective way to serve riders that are difficult/expensive to serve.

      10. “Perhaps they mean that if people are parking & hiding, there is a need for more parking.”

        It means that without the P&R cars would be parking in neighboring spaces in the surrounding blocks. That wouldn’t have occurred without the station so the station caused it. That’s considered a negative impact like noise or pollution or killing wildlife. It must be disclosed in the EIS, or the neighbors can sue ST for not disclosing it. ST may have some obligation to mitigate it. Sufficient P&R spaces to eliminate or minimize hide & ride is the mitigation. There may also be political pressure to make the garage larger than is necessary to minimize hide & ride. That’s the second part.

      11. Sometimes I wonder if the solution is to only commit to ST building surface lots at first. That has some advantages:

        – It makes parking Capital costs much lower.

        – It justifies taking a bit more land around a suburban station, which can then be declared surplus later and sold (at higher value once the line opens) for a great market-driven, well-designed TOD.

        – It sets a stage for a city to tailor a pricing and supply strategy by either having municipal garages or private-sector garages that can generate revenue as well as integrate with parking permit programs.

        – When inevitable “value engineering” is considered, the number of funded spaces isn’t fixed in stone.

        An example: If Mercer Island controlled the station area parking, they could declare the island a permitted parking area (free for permitted vehicles) and charge for parking for vehicles without a permit. Lots of East Coast suburbs work this way.

        Of course, it would create larger asphalt deserts near some suburban stations for awhile, but with patience it could transition to more active stations in the long run. Just look at the recent BART MacArthur Station project as a case study.

      12. @Mike – that may be their argument, but that makes zero sense to me. For most stations, the demand for free parking is effectively unlimited. A bigger garage will not solve hide & ride. Only parking regulations (say, 3 hour limits) with enforcement will solve the issue. Even Bellevue mall will (quietly) enforce their parking policy against people hiding & riding.

        @Al – I generally think you are correct, but I would be wary of asphalt deserts like we have at Tukwilla or Tacoma Dome. I’d much rather have the good urban fabric of the other Sounder stations, even if it means a garage or two. A ‘good’ surface lot would be the one at Bel-Red (easy future infill), but we really don’t have that many Link stations where there isn’t an attempt to create a TOD cluster immediately around the station. (S Bellevue is hemmed in by geography, and Star Lake I’ll address below. Any others? Even SeaTac is trying to convert its preexisting giant surface lots into TOD around Angle Lake)

        Montlake Terrace is an excellent example ST building a temporary parking lot and then a temporary temporary parking lot (not a joke). The temp-temp lot was a single large lot where ST paid to level and clear the existing building, with the owner explicitly using a short-term ST lease to cover his demo costs prior to redevelopment. The MLT temp lot is your ideal story: a cluster of SF homes where ST acquired all parcels, cleared the land for a parking lot, and then after Lynnwood Link opens will surplus the land as a single large lot ideally placed for TOD.

        If I was looking for a ‘good’ example of structured parking, I would point to Start Lake and SE Redmond.

        We are building a garage to replace 2 large surface lots at Star Lake, with the 2nd lot becoming TOD indirectly through a land swap with the school district. Here, structure parking is creating more land for TOD, and I don’t think I would have supporting acquiring additional land because the immediately surrounding area is either multifamily or environmentally sensitive. (Ideally, we would have put parking on the other side of the freeway, but that’s a stretch politically).

        In SE Redmond, the land is hemmed in by the park and 520. Much of the parking is elevated above the Link ROW and a bus loop, which is expensive but doesn’t ‘waste’ space. Redmond has plans for a dense mixed use neighborhood in the immediately station vicinity, and creating several large surface lots would displace much of that intended TOD.

        Obviously, we could just build less parking at those two stations. But given the amount of parking to be provided, I think structured parking is the best design for the station area both short & long term.

      13. That’s what ST is backing into to some extent. The early P&Rs like Tukwila Intl Blvd were all garages. And when Lynnwood Link was first outlined it connected the existing P&Rs and assumed similar garages at all of them. Then the pressure for TOD housing became strong and ST started planning P&Rs so that they could be converted to housing later if the demand for SOV parking ever decreases. South Bellevue has been mentioned in that context, and maybe TIB. The third phase was realizing surface lots are much easier to convert to housing than garages are. Many transit activists hated surface lots because you have to walk past blocks of nothingness to get to the other side, but then when the possibility of housing conversion sank in, they decided maybe some surface lots aren’t so bad after all.

        Bel-Red Station (130th in Bellevue, not to be confused with 130th in Seattle) is an interesting case. ST outlined it as a surface lot. I said, “Why a P&R there? What demand is there for it? It’s not like South Bellevue or Overlake where there’s strong political pressure for a P&R there.” I asked an ST rep about this at an open house. He said the surface lot is just a placeholder until development reaches that area (i.e., the Spring District spreads east), and then it can be converted to something else. I said, “But building a P&R will create demand to never give up those spaces for anything else.” Not in the far future when driving becomes less popular, but in the interim when people don’t want to lose their parking spaces. He said he doesn’t think it will be a problem. Since then, ST has proposed surface lots in other areas that were previously assumed to be garages, for the same reason. It’s generally in areas where the need is temporary (for a few years during construction), or it’s a secondary lot (not the main lot), or it’s a small awkward-sized piece of land.

      14. @AJ
        “The MLT temp lot is your ideal story: a cluster of SF homes where ST acquired all parcels, cleared the land for a parking lot, and then after Lynnwood Link opens will surplus the land as a single large lot ideally placed for TOD.”

        Hardly. From my perspective, it’s the perfect example of eminent domain abuse. Temporary parking lots and excessively large and/or redundant staging areas all constitute abuse in my book and should be minimized by a condemnor who has been charged with building a transit line (and is thus not a housing agency). The last time this subject came up, and I commented on the matter, I laid out the legal argument from our own state’s highest court that rejected this notion of ancillary needs being sufficient grounds for the condemnation, so I’m not going to rehash all of that here. Let me just say that I couldn’t disagree more with your characterization above.

        Oh, and for the record, I just looked at the last ST Link progress report and it now shows the total number of parcels authorized by the board for some sort of acquisition action for the Lynnwood Link extension project has now reached 400 parcels. (So much for that 100-150 number that ST gave us in the FEIS.) That’s 400 parcels along a line that largely utilizes the footprint of the WSDOT I-5 ROW. So what’s another seven older homes in a little cul-de-sac in Mountlake Terrace that stand in the way of a “needed” temporary parking lot? (RQ)

      15. I’m not keen on the idea of surface lots with the intention of re-developing them later because, in practice, the re-development almost never happens because, once parking exists, removing it is too politically difficult. When redevelopment does happen, the typical pattern is replacing half of a 200-car surface lot with a 500-car garage (costing tens of millions of dollars for just 300 net new parking spaces), with only the other half available for housing. Either way, politics guarantees that one parking is added, it can never be removed.

  5. Mark, Mercer Island’s number one issue to realize the benefit of East Link is first/last mile access, the same issue for other areas on the eastside and areas outside Seattle that lack density for a series of feeder buses, because even feeder buses need a park and ride.

    Mercer Is. had an adequate park and ride for Islanders, but it is full by 6:30 am which precludes Islanders who have to get their kids to school, and 53% of users are off Island because… drum roll .. they don’t want to take a bus to catch the 550 to Seattle (when it accessed the transit tunnel), so they drive straight to Mercer Is. Same will happen when East Link opens and the 1500 stall S. Bellevue park and ride, rather than drive to a park and ride to catch a bus to a rail station to catch a train to Seattle (if anyone is going to Seattle anymore).

    ST implemented a paid reservation system. A SOV could reserve a spot for $120/month (other areas were $80/month). But that was too expensive for those who commute and sales were poor before Covid-19.

    ST doesn’t want to build park and rides, but has to on the eastside because cities are demanding them, and the eastside subarea has plenty of money. The cost has ballooned to $115,000/stall, due to the price of concrete and government required wage scales (around $85,000/stall for private industry).

    You can’t compare park and rides in one subarea with increased link frequency in another subarea because they have different dedicated funds. You can’t say link is not dependent on parking when there is no link on the eastside yet. A=Link at Angle Lake depends on parking. The park and rides planned for East Link are huge, even in areas like S. Bellevue that are “dense” by eastside standards.

    The other issue for Mercer Is. is the intensity of the bus intercept, because of the traffic congestion and volume of off-island riders per day, although that too is in question after Covid-19 and working from home. My guess is many commuters not served by East Link will continue to drive to a park and ride with a rail station rather than take a bus to a train, and volumes of commuters — at least to Seattle — may be significantly reduced by working at home. Many fewer commuters into Seattle each day would solve most of Mercer Island’s problems, both for our park and ride, and the necessary intensity of any bus intercept.

    The Seattle Times has an interesting article today noting single family home prices continue to skyrocket because working from home has taught owners they need more space, including for a home office or two. I know a few couples who now both work from home, and live in condo’s, and I am not sure their marriages will survive, which is tragic. Meanwhile commercial properties, at least in Seattle, are seeing declines in value.

    Inslee’s recent relaxation of his shelter in place orders (30 days before an election when positive cases are rising and we are entering the fall season when all cases tend to rise) should give some indication where people plan to go out to eat, drink and shop. I will be interested in comparing Seattle with Bellevue, and Seattle with the smaller areas and cities (including Seattle’s residential neighborhoods) where people are working from home to see where that business goes.

    1. Mercer Is. had an adequate park and ride for Islanders, but it is full by 6:30 am … and 53% of users are off Island because… drum roll .. they don’t want to take a bus to catch the 550 to Seattle (when it accessed the transit tunnel), so they drive straight to Mercer Is. Same will happen when East Link opens and the 1500 stall S. Bellevue park and ride, rather than drive to a park and ride to catch a bus to a rail station to catch a train to Seattle

      The Mercer Island Park and Ride is large by parking lot standards (around 500 stalls) but tiny for a bus line. Same with the South Bellevue lot. Just the Issaquah buses carried about 6,000. Many of them do serve park and ride lots, but a lot of park and ride use is unofficial. You park on the street and catch the bus. Of course people want to drive to the park and ride lot that involves the fastest trip. I want Beyonce to sing me happy birthday. The problem is, that doesn’t scale. You can’t just keep building bigger and bigger lots — that doesn’t work. It gets more and more expensive, and takes longer and longer for people to find a place (if you’ve ever parked at the airport, you know this experience).

      Charging money is a good idea, but it doesn’t change the equation. The only way to get lots and lots of people to use the train is by adding feeder bus service.

      Oh, and people will go back to Seattle when the pandemic is over, just like they will go back to Bellevue. Until then, I don’t expect anyone to do much of anything. Frankly, I don’t even know the current rules in Seattle (or anywhere else in King County) and I don’t care. I might do take out or delivery, but I’m not going out to dinner.

    2. RossB: why would satellite park and rides at feeder bus stations be cheaper if the total number of stalls is the same? According to ST the cost per stall for a park and ride is pretty much the same above or below ground.

      Then you have the mentality and convenience of the commuter, which apparently does not matter. Why would someone want to drive to a feeder bus stop to park to wait to catch a feeder bus to the rail station to wait to catch link, especially when most of the shops and businesses the commuter wants to visit on the way home are near the main park and ride station next to the rail station. We tried that on Mercer Island and no one used the satellite lots, which some filled quickly and some had little use. Finding vacant land for sattelite bus stops is not easy or cheap these days, (and ST or WSDOT does not control the airspace like over interstates), even when leased from churches or other property owners.

      Here is the great news about the eastside subarea: it will never be able to spend all the revenue raised by ST 2 and ST 3 in its subarea. ST 3 was priced to refund the North King Co. (Seattle) subarea for all its grandiose plans to run rail to every neighborhood with tunnels, a line to Snohomish Co., and its half of the second transit tunnel. The eastside subarea will have $5.5 billion left over after East Link and paying for all the east-west express buses. Although not anticipated when ST was first formed, the eastside subarea has become the economic engine for the region (plus changes in how online sales taxes are allocated), and the rates of taxation bring in more ST revenue than can ever be used.

      So who cares if the eastside subarea wants huge park and rides, ideally near rail stations. The $4.5 billion rail line from Issaquah to S. Bellevue makes the park and rides look like chump change. Why does anyone care what the eastside subarea does if they don’t live there, or what it costs. Eastsiders did not vote for ST 3 for buses; they voted for trains, even if they make little economic sense.

      If this is about “climate change”, and anyone really thinks transit in this region will make any difference in global carbon emissions (despite the enormous amount of concrete ST has poured) in the next 10 years at least half of the cars driving to the park and rides on the eastside will be electric, and will emit less carbon than transit.

    3. “The eastside subarea will have $5.5 billion left over”

      Then spend some of it in Renton. Its size deserves it and its demographics need it.

      What I’d most like to see in Renton is a full-time frequent route from the eastern residential areas where most of the residents live to the Renton transit center. And I have an idea for it. What if we extend the I north to The Landing to replace the F’s turn, and extend the F east to the Highlands. I’d like to include Fairwood too although that may not be feasible with the same route.

      The main opposition would be disconnecting the Sounder station from Boeing. But I’ve always thought that should be a separate peak route, not an F detour.

      1. No one asks me where to spend transit or ST funds on the eastside. That being said, Bellevue is the big dog, then probably Issaquah with the mayor on the ST board, followed by Redmond (Microsoft) and Kirkland, with Bothell coming on strong. Despite its medium population (26,000) Mercer Island falls into the group of smaller cities like Medina or Hunts Point that don’t see much benefit from transit, although East Link had to run through MI, which now makes us a Transit Oriented Community with new population targets we don’t want and can’t handle. (Surprisingly all the population limits to require population growth in the PSRC’s 2050 Vision Statement are above Medina’s population, where most Microsoft senior executives live).

        The eastside has huge centralized park and rides because that is what Bellevue, Issaquah, Kirkland, Redmond and Bothell want. Mercer Island opposed a 1500 stall park and ride on Mercer Island years ago because its street infrastructure could not handle that many off Island cars per day.

        Renton believes it gets the short end of the stick on the eastside, and that is probably true with Rogoff’s nose so far up Bellevue’s backside, drooling over the eastside reserves, and Balducci the King Co. Council rep. Plus the Chardonnay is unoaked (but still brave) in Bellevue.

        But that feeling is why Renton wants a future rail line, not a bus line. If Issaquah gets a $4.5 billion rail line to S. Bellevue, Renton should get a rail line (and probably will, but Renton wants it to run north on 405 towards Bellevue, not south towards I-5). Renton wants to be part of the eastside, not Tukwila. Important players on the eastside get rail, not buses (or are an Island in the middle of Lake Washington). But, not surprisingly, for now East Link will run north along 405 from Bellevue, not south.

        I can’t comment on your bus plans for Renton but you should email them to Renton’s mayor. But what he really wants is a rail line.

      2. What if we extend the I north to The Landing to replace the F’s turn, and extend the F east to the Highlands. I’d like to include Fairwood too although that may not be feasible with the same route.

        Sounds OK, although I think you could just run the 105 more often. I don’t think there is that much benefit from through-routing. I would be willing to bet that most Renton riders are trying to get around their own town, or are headed to Bellevue and Seattle. Bellevue trips will be much easier via the new Stride, while Seattle express buses continue to chug along.

        Not that I’m opposed to the idea. The main thing is, that part of Renton should have better service. Connecting past the current end of the 105 to other parts of Renton has value — I’m just not sure if there would be a reliability hit, nor am I sure it is worth the extra money for the superficial RapidRide BS.


        There is an argument to be made for having a split in Rainier Valley. Half the trains would go to SeaTac, half the trains to Renton. Unfortunately, there are a lot of problems with that. The train is limited by how frequently it can run in Rainier Valley. At best it can run every six minutes, which means at best the train to Renton would run every twelve. There is no reason to run trains every twelve minutes (it isn’t worth the money). Even if they did a bunch of extra work to bury the line (or bury the intersections) there would be issues to the north. Then there is the fact that a rail line to Renton wouldn’t serve that many people, and would likely cost a bundle (if they wanted reliable frequency, which would be essential). Oh, and it is highly unlikely that Sound Transit will ever pass another proposal. There won’t be an ST4 (which is why we should have rejected ST3 — it was crap).

        The future for Renton transit lies with buses. Try and make the express buses faster while making all buses more frequent. If the current leadership doesn’t understand that, the future leadership will.

      3. There shouldn’t be an issue to the north because the RV is the lone line that goes to Ballard in the 2nd tunnel? If we can allow for higher headways in the RV (i.e. bury intersections), we should be able to handle 3 minute headways into Beacon Hill and onwards to the new 2nd tunnel?

        I’ve thought a branch to Renton is much better option than the current long range plan of a route that goes from WS to Burien and then to Renton. It’s better for Renton (direct access to Seattle) and a good way to boost frequency in Seattle in lieu of a SeaTac turnback.

      4. Renton has an available rail line, but it goes north to Seattle.

        Its that wavy BNSF track through Black river and on through georgetown with all the freight cars parked on top.
        It actually goes all the way north to the Sodo Link base on airport.

        Pity that Renton can’t do anything with it till Boeing finally leaves.
        More of a pity that its blocking the south part of the ERC bike trail also.

    4. According to ST the cost per stall for a park and ride is pretty much the same above or below ground.

      Since when? This entire post was about that very subject: https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2020/04/21/how-much-is-too-much-for-a-transit-parking-garage/. These are all for garages where lots already exist, making the per stall numbers incredibly expensive. In Auburn each new stall costs over 200 grand — and that isn’t even the most expensive. In Auburn! Are you telling me that we can’t add parking in Auburn for less than 200 grand a stall? Come on man, get real.

      Park and ride lots can (and should) be leased. Often this involves just leasing it from a church (and there are a lot of big churches in the South Sound). Doing that is way cheaper than building a garage. As I wrote earlier, it is extremely common for people to just park close to a bus stop. A few cars by each stop, some people who walk to the stop and a church parking lot or two and you can have way more riders per dollar spent than building garages.

    5. “why would satellite park and rides at feeder bus stations be cheaper if the total number of stalls is the same? According to ST the cost per stall for a park and ride is pretty much the same above or below ground.”

      The feeder lots are presumably surface parking and small lots. Surface parking is much cheaper than concrete garages. Small lots are easier to find and assemble, and in most cases are existing underused parking lots; e.g., church lots that are normally used only on Sundays.

      1. In summary, ST promised cities on the eastside large, central park and rides next to stations in order to sell ST 3, those cities now want ST to honor those promises, it is money in the eastside subarea so it is their money, there will be almost no way to spend the reserves in the eastside subarea between ST 2 and 3, it may not be the most efficient way to create last/mile access but the seminars I have attended state (at least) eastsiders won’t take three forms of transit anywhere (doorstep to feeder bus to train to destination) and don’t want to take transit anyway if they don’t have to.

        My guess is the mayors of Bellevue and Issaquah, Kent, Kirkland, Renton and Redmond already know this, but the point of politics is to please the voters, not change their desires and ingrained beliefs, at least at the local level.

        I too once felt there should be some charge for using a park and ride to commute because usually things that are free are not efficiently allocated. If nothing else we have always wondered how much of the Mercer Island park and ride is from overflow residential parking, because our TOD development only required one parking stall per unit, which turned out to be one stall too few (those on the eastside tend to not live alone), which has resulted in overflow street parking which has hurt our retail.

        However, when ST implemented a $120/month charge for a SOV in the park and ride it turned out the people most hurt were those who could only afford transit, even when commuting due to the high costs of parking in Seattle and Bellevue (including the 20% city and state parking tax). By and large these turned out to be single moms who have to get their kids to schools which start after 6:30 or 7 am when the lot is full. (Mercer Island is popular for single moms due to the schools and safety).

        I have always felt transit on the eastside had little to do with providing mobility for those who could only afford transit, but charging for parking hurt those folks directly, and made transit on the eastside very privileged because our form of first/last mile access is park and rides. Ironically this gets more acute the farther out you go where house prices are more affordable (like Snoqualmie) because the lot sizes per the GMA get much larger, and it is hard to get to the road even if there were a feeder bus.

        Charging for the park and ride would be as if the fare for the feeder bus in Seattle was in addition to the cost of Link.

        Of course the $120/month parking fee combined with a bus fare both ways was close enough in cost to driving and parking the reserved parking spaces did not sell well, even on MI where the lot is full by 6:30 am.

        On a separate note Microsoft announced today it will allow some employees to work from home permanently, and apparently will allow all employees to work from home 50% or less of the time. https://www.theverge.com/2020/10/9/21508964/microsoft-remote-work-from-home-covid-19-coronavirus Usually Microsoft’s policies drift down to the other tech companies.

        There is some irony in this since East Link, and its route, was heavily influenced by Microsoft, and the large number of its workers who lived in Seattle over a decade ago when East Link was first being proposed. Many of those Seattle workers have moved to the eastside now that Redmond is not quite so rural and they are older, and an article in yesterday’s Seattle Times noted the continuing rising costs in single family homes has to do with citizens realizing they need larger homes if they are going to work from home, and need a dedicated home office (with a tax deduction to boot).

        This more than anything may alleviate the need for park and rides, and they may have to be repurposed at some point. But of course this really raises the question: where will the eastside spend the tens of billions in reserves from ST 2 and 3 if transit use and park and ride use decline significantly, although this will reduce carbon emissions from commuting more than transit ever will.

      2. Eastside P&Rs haven’t had the size controveries that north end and Sounder P&Rs have had. Most of them are at existing P&Rs, away from city centers, and East King has plenty of money for them. The size issues are mostly at Shoreline South, Shoreline North, Lynnwood, and Kent, Auburn, Sumner, Edmonds, and Mukilteo Sounder stations. Northgate is not on that list because its users bucked the trend: most of its P&R drivers come from west and east, and 3/4 of those respondents preferred more bus/bike/ped access instead of a larger garage. The Shoreline issue is that that money could have gone into 130th Station, which was excluded from ST2 and was only added to ST3 grudgingly and several years after Lynnwood Link opens, yet without it Lake City and Bitter Lake have poor Link access. The Sounder issues are that that money could have gone to more Sounder service. Or in Snohomish, canceling Sounder North and putting the money into accelerating Link and interim express buses. The Lynnwood issue is that it’s an urban center and pedestrians will have to walk past the P&R to access the businesses and residences, and its footprint is un-urban. Bellevue is an example here: the downtown station has no parking, and the P&R is in a peripheral location. Mercer Island is also doing OK in this regard: the P&R is in the opposite direction from the urban village so pedestrians don’t have to walk past it. One bad example although not ST is Renton P&R, right in the middle of the pedestrian center.

        In the northeastern US many transit agencies build just the station, and any parking is the responsibility of the city, and I think it’s usually paid parking. That’s probably the best model.

        This is all in the context of car-dependent, low-density neighborhoods that fuel the perceived need for large P&Rs. That’s an larger land-use mistake that should be avoided. There are plenty of ways to address this, even with detached houses and yards. Don’t have cul-de-sacs or huge blocks that force pedestrians and drivers to go way out of their way and make bus routes difficult. Have a mixture of houses and multifamily and retail throughout rather than huge districts of single-family only. Have moderate-sized yards rather than large ones, and one- or two-car garages rather than three-car. And have dedicated transit lanes or BAT lanes for the largest bus routes (e.g., RapidRide). Vancouver BC and Toronto are good examples.

        Many people here are philosophically opposed to P&Rs, but usually recognize they’re inevitable in the suburbs as long as current land-use patterns prevail. So there hasn’t been much effort to eliminate Lynnwood or South Bellevue or Mercer Island P&R. The focus has been on expanding smaller P&Rs like Shoreline South (which originally had a tiny surface lot), and pointing out how those expensive garages take money from enhancing transit service in those same neighborhoods.

        I have no particular knowledge or opinion what the price for parking should be, so I have no comment there.

        “The High Cost of Free Parking” by Donald Shoup has a good explanation of the negative externalities of ubiquidous parking.

        Even if Microsoft has a lot of people working remotely, it will still have a lot of people coming into the office. Seattle and Bellevue are the two largest cities in the region and need high-capacity transit between them. If Microsoft and Redmond were able to get a few extra miles to them, why not? And again, most trips aren’t work commutes. People travel between Seattle, Bellevue, and Redmond for all kinds of reasons throughout the day. All those retail establishments and clinics, they need customers, and the customers have to get to them somehow. All those healthy parks, people have to get to them.

      3. I haven’t been to the Overlake area for a couple years, since my partner left Microsoft. At the time, though, Microsoft was just starting a big refresh of a number of their buildings, and building some new ones as well, I think for over 1 million new square feet of office space. Does anyone know if that’s still under way? I’m guessing it is since I haven’t heard anything to the contrary, but it would be a good indication of Microsoft’s commitment to continue having a major presence at Overlake.

        In any case, there’s more to East Link than serving Microsoft (that the 542/545 continue to operate shows that). If nothing else, it’ll open up a lot of opportunities for affordable housing developments that don’t exist yet.

    6. Al S., surface lots were explored. The problem was ST wanted the cities to provide the land, and of course the least expensive land was nearby park land, which did not go over well with citizens on the eastside who are crazy about parks and indifferent at best about transit, especially if the lots were not dedicated to nearby residents which claimed ST was the law. ST tried this on MI and pretty much the council was voted out of office later on for even considering paving a park for a regional commuter parking lot.

      ST used this trick on the eastside in which it would condemn land for staging, and will sell it at a significant profit after rail is running. So local property owners started insisting on either a fair market value based on the price of the property when light rail is completed, or a condemnation lease that forces ST to lease the property, and revert it back to the property owner once East Link is complete and the staging ground no longer needed.

      Now if you want to create a vast surface lot at Northgate or near the UW or even Angle Lake I have no objection to that, but it won’t fly on the eastside. Why should eastside cities convert park or public land to huge surface “desert” lots to save a few dollars on park and ride construction when the eastside subarea has so much money we will never able able to spend it?

      Finally, cities (or the neighbors) not wanting TOD near nearby stations insisted on strengthened zoning regulations for properties surrounding transit stations that would prevent any kind of TOD.

      If you want to understand the eastside is making on transit and park and rides you have to: 1. understand how eastsiders think, which means why they moved to the eastside in the first place (and it wasn’t transit); and 2. the eastside subarea has too much money to spend, so why go cheap.

  6. Thanks for the quick response, Daniel. Given how active a seismic zone the whole world’s economy has become these last few months, I think that to do its own job, parking structures really do belong on Transit’s budget.

    And specifically designed for easy post COVID conversion to other uses, which in their own way can also still be in both Transit’s own interests and also Mercer Island’s. Speaking for myself, I’d let them be reserved for Islanders For The Duration.

    But if the [TOPIC] is Residency and its Ownership, you’re not speaking with a disinterested party. Sign of the Times that Missouri’s not the only “Show Me” State anymore.

    Since present management called “GDE” won’t answer its phone, next time I feel like risking the lethally compulsory driving, maybe I can find out for what it’ll cost to relocate to what’s now called the Cadence Apartments a half block from the KCM Route 44 terminal.

    When I finally move back into the Lockhaven flat I lost at three weeks’ notice this time of year 2013,
    I truly will finally believe that Seattle housing is crashing through something besides either the stratosphere or the Fabric of the Universe.

    Though whatever my Jefferson City capital thinks, I can’t see myself handing in my final rent check because my new residentially-headquartered career requires more space.

    Since speculator John Goodman demolished my wife’s pretty blue kitchen and put the stove in the fashionable middle of the dining room floor, by the time my gig summarily terminates, I’ll have my car equipped with plumbing and a shower. And my extra tent all set up.

    So not to tell you your business, but suggestion from experience. These nasty little “asides” about people you know even less than you respect, which is saying something-don’t help your transit case with any neutral party. Because every wheeled detail, from mechanical to operational to political, we’ve got to face head-on.

    Though on Eastlink’s opening day, the obligatory espresso with which I’ll celebrate will be either Shawn’s Bakery or Tougo, or both. Any wider welcome than theirs, not my problem.

    Mark Dublin

  7. Lander Street Bridge: before the bridge, the railroad crossing provided an excellent spot for an urban/industrial-esque photo shoot with the tracks and city skyline in the backdrop. Gonna lose that unique spot .

    Also gotta check to see how wide the sidewalk is on the bridge. The at-grade crossing provided plenty of space for everyone, though probably unsafe.

    1. You can still use Holgate, but I agree it’s not as nice of a view. I wish they would spend even $150,000 improving the pedestrian experience when walking between 1st S and 4th S along Holgate, especially the south side of the street. I used to walk along that side of the street when using the 4th S/Holgate bus stops to get to 1st Ave S. It’s a pretty bad experience for people walking.

  8. How exactly are scooter and bike rentals “equity” oriented? Scooters can be had for dirt cheap. Bicycles too on the second hand market. Rental systems end up costing more than ownership. This makes the saturation of rental products in low income reasons more like saturation and temptation, and not any equitability.

    1. This is not bike rentals, or scooter rentals. This is bike-share (or scooter-share). It is a different concept. I suggest you read up on it. Here is a good description: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_technology_centers. Pay special attention to the difference between “bike share”, “bike rental” and “bike ownership”.

      So, now that you got a handle on that, you might ask yourself “OK, so the idea is to have lots of bikes (or scooters) easily available everywhere, for point to point, short term use. Even if I own a bike (or scooter) I would use this service, just as people who own cars often ride transit. Where then, should we put these bikes (or scooters)?”

      Great question. The answer is complicated, but the “equity” idea involves putting a few more in low income communities than you normally would.

      1. Thank you for the post, clearly intended to be informative despite the extremely condescending tone.

        Can you please verify the link provided above? It appears to be unrelated to the rest of your message, and I am all but certain you have a very useful reference in mind that all of us can learn from. I too am uncertain about the difference between “bike share” and “bike rental”. As a layman, I would imagine “bike share” to be more like a condo timeshare setup, but I am only vaguely aware of how those work, too, so more information would be greatly appreciated.

        Thank you in advance.

      2. A bike share is a kind of bike rental. You’re leasing a bike for a period of time. The ability to pick up the bike on the sidewalk instead of going to a shop and to rent it by minute instead of by the hour or day and to use a fancy locator/payment app doesn’t change that.

      3. Uh, Ross? The name of the article is “The equity target for scooter rentals”. How is this not about, you know, scooter rentals? I’m assuming we’re talking about a model similar to the Lime bikes, but with scooters. If that assumption holds, my critiques stand.

      4. @AM — Oops. Wrong Wikipedia article. Here is the right one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle-sharing_system.

        There is a big difference, but I understand the confusion. I think A Joy is still confused, despite bringing up this issue in the past. There are two essential features with bike sharing systems that make it different than most rentals (of bikes, or just about anything):

        1) You are expected to rent it for a very short time.
        2) You are expected to drop it off at a different place.

        This is why, for example, lots of people who own bikes use a bike share system, just as lots of people who own cars use transit.

        The most important thing with a bike sharing system is that you have lots of stations, and that they cover a wide area. That way, when you want one, you don’t have to travel far to use it. https://nacto.org//srv/htdocs/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/NACTO_Walkable-Station-Spacing-Is-Key-For-Bike-Share_Sc.pdf.

        There are many cities in America (and the world) with good bike share systems. We aren’t one of those. Rather than copy the success of other cities, we tend to just dink around, and make excuses for why our attempts always seem to fail, rather than copy the ones that are successful.

      5. A bike share is a kind of bike rental. You’re leasing a bike for a period of time. The ability to pick up the bike on the sidewalk instead of going to a shop and to rent it by minute instead of by the hour or day and to use a fancy locator/payment app doesn’t change that.

        OK, technically it is still a bike rental. Sure. A train is a train, whether it carries thousands of riders, or 15,000 tons of coal. But we make a distinction, because the uses are so different. What makes bike sharing so different is the fact that it is specifically designed to enable short term, point to point trips.

        Well that, and the fact that typically they are owned by the public. Seattle, being so libertarian, quickly abandoned that approach, in hopes that private businesses would just provide a decent system out of the kindness of their heart. They haven’t, and they won’t. Our bike share (and now scooter share) system is a joke, and will remain a joke for as long we ignore what other cities have done.

      6. @RossB

        Thank you for the link and the explanation.

        I see what you are getting at now in terms of differences. However, I am not sure that everyone agrees.

        From the article you linked: “Many bike share systems allow people to borrow a bike from a “dock” and return it at another dock belonging to the same system”.

        Now, it is true that in mathematical (specifically, first order logic) terms, “all bike share systems” is a subset of “many bike share systems”, and thus it is technically possible to claim that the return of a bike at a different location is a defining feature. I venture to claim, though, that most semanticists would consider the words “all” and “many” to be distinct in meaning. So the very article you claim as proof suggests differently.

        I did a few more searches of my own. Here is another example:


        (linked from https://chi.streetsblog.org/2013/11/22/the-differences-between-rental-and-bike-share-according-to-bike-and-roll/)

        There is nothing in that table about where the bikes are returned, though yes, the time the bike is in use is indeed different.

        I might venture to suggest a different distinction, however, in that typically “sharing” implies a notion of partial ownership, whereas “rental” does not. Clearly this is not the case with bike “share” systems in a direct sense – you do not buy a slice of the bike, unlike say a time-share condo. However, typically these services appear to be a form of subscription (even if with no fee), so perhaps that is where the “share” aspect comes in. Systems run by the city or other local authorities have second ownership aspect as in all tax payers in the city have de facto interest (in the financial sense) in the assets of the city, which the bikes would count as.

        In any case, I am splitting very fine hairs here, but the point I am trying to make is that reasonable people can in fact agree to disagree on definitions – your own definition, after all, differs from the two articles we both posted, and mine is yet again a little different, but we all get the general way the systems work and are used. So I might venture a small suggestion to end with – if we can all focus on how we can communicate and share information with each other, we would all benefit from each others’ interpretations and knowledge, and make the blog a better place.

        Thank you in advance for your understanding.

      7. OK, yeah, we are definitely getting into semantics here. But generally speaking, when people refer to “bike share” systems, they are referring to systems where there is short term rental, and no extra charge for dropping off the bike somewhere else. That is what NACTO is referring to in that article. Every single system listed in that article follows that same model.

        If you look at the Wikipedia article of bike share systems worldwide (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_bicycle-sharing_systems) almost all of those systems have docks. My guess is the the rest of them are “dockless” — which means they still follow the same model. It is system — which makes it different than the dozens of bike rental stores that you can find in every city. Those don’t warrant an entry in Wikipedia — only the systems do.

        Bike share is a different mindset. When people think of renting a bike, they often think of it like renting a car. Thus you have A Joy’s comments. I realize my comments were condescending, but he has posted the same argument over and over again, and still hasn’t bothered to understand the purpose of bike sharing. It is different than a typical rental. Consider this scenario:

        Your friend comes in from out of town. He loves to bike, and he has done his research. He wants to ride the Burke Gilman for the day. He figures he can do about 80 miles. But since he flew in, he doesn’t have a bike. He wants to rent a nice road bike, so he asks you where to rent one. He isn’t the least bit concerned with where the bike is — you have a car, and at worse you can put it in the trunk. So you rent a nice bike and have a good outing.

        But there is no way he would rent a typical bikeshare bike. Those things are crap. They are cheap (but solid) bikes. Climbing hills with the thing is murder.

        Now, consider a typical bike share use. You commute to work via public transit (worth noting, bike share tends to work best in cities with good transit). After work, you want to go about a mile to pick something up at the drug store. Walking takes too long. So does taking transit. So instead, you walk a block, grab a bike, pedal along on the clunky bike, and you are there in five minutes. You leave the bike there, and take the bus home (from there). That’s bike share, and that is how it differs from typical bike rental.

        That is also why it is often discussed on this blog. This blog doesn’t usually discuss bike issues. For example, there is no link to the Fourth Avenue bike lanes that were just added (a big deal for bike infrastructure). But bike share can solve the “last mile” problem in transit. It can increase transit use. That is why it is so often discussed here.

    2. I’m assuming we’re talking about a model similar to the Lime bikes, but with scooters. If that assumption holds, my critiques stand.

      We are, but you don’t understand bike sharing systems, which is why your critique doesn’t make any sense. Let’s break it down:

      Scooters can be had for dirt cheap. Bicycles too on the second hand market.

      Irrelevant. I own two bikes — mountain bike and a road bike. I would definitely use a bike sharing system if we had a good one in Seattle (we’ve never had a good one in Seattle). That is because when I go out for a walk, the bike doesn’t follow me. When I take the bus or train to work, there is no bike there. I realize I screwed up with the link earlier, but it really isn’t that hard to research these things. Maybe instead of jumping to conclusions, and guessing why they exist, you could do that.

      Rental systems end up costing more than ownership. This makes the saturation of rental products in low income reasons more like saturation and temptation, and not any equitability.

      And again, irrelevant. This is not a substitute for ownership. The whole point is to enable point to point travel. Let me write that again. The whole point is to enable point to point travel. Lots of riders already own a bike. But the bike is not available for point to point travel.

      Which is why it is the “points” are important. Assume for a second that Seattle had a decent bike share system. We followed the NACTO recommendations, and put bikes every couple blocks are so, in a wide swath of the city. But let’s say we also decided to skimp out in areas like Rainier Valley or Lake City. That would be a clear cut case of favoring the well to do. That would be like only running buses in the nice part of town. The equity rules are designed to prevent that.

      1. Can you provide any evidence that bike owners in general would use a bike rental system of this kind? This seems like a bit of projection on your part, although I may be guilty of it as well. I cannot perceive the use case you are using to declare this type of bike/scooter share useful. I’d much prefer a unit more designed for my needs over the generic models being rented out. I get the concept in theory, as your bus/car analogy is quite illustrative. I’m just not sure it is accurate in this case.

        Bikes seem pretty available for point to point travel for me. As long as you have a bike chain long enough, you can secure it just about anywhere.

      2. OK, before I respond to A Joy, I want to comment to AM, since I think he raised a very good point earlier.

        @AM — This is why my previous comment was so condescending. A Joy has done this repeatedly. Notice he makes the exact same comparison as before, while ignoring all the evidence (https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2020/05/14/with-ubers-investment-lime-is-getting-back-into-the-local-bike-share-game/#comment-848698).

        This is trolling. It is annoying. I lose my temper, because I get tired of writing the same thing, over and over. I’ll do it again, because maybe someone out there is reading this, and honestly doesn’t know what bike share is about, or has some questions about it.

        Can you provide any evidence that bike owners in general would use a bike rental system of this kind? This seems like a bit of projection on your part, although I may be guilty of it as well.

        Well, here is a study that shows about 30% of the users own bikes: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/273196454_Are_Bikeshare_Users_Different_from_Regular_Cyclists. The study was from D. C., a more urban city than Seattle (space to store a bike is generally easier to find in Seattle). Anecdotally, you can see that the bike share topic is discussed quite a lot on the Seattle bike blog — a blog that is made up almost entirely of people who own bikes. I own two bikes, I would use bike share, if we had a decent system (like say, Boston’s). We’ve never had a decent bike share system in the city. Never.

        I cannot perceive the use case you are using to declare this type of bike/scooter share useful.

        Yes, I realize that, even though I have tried to explain that use over and over again. You can just look it up. Just read the first couple paragraphs on the NACTO report, that emphasizes station density (https://nacto.org//srv/htdocs/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/NACTO_Walkable-Station-Spacing-Is-Key-For-Bike-Share_Sc.pdf). It is all in there. Here is just one sentence:

        Bike share programs extend the reach of existing transit, make one-way bike trips possible, and eliminate some barriers to riding such as bike ownership, storage, maintenance and concerns about theft.

        Again, I didn’t write that. The National Association of City Transportation Officials did, and they did after looking at how people use bike share.

        Also consider this study of several bike share systems, which describes how people use bike share: https://www.motivateco.com/how-do-people-use-bike-share/. Again, let me quote a few tidbits:

        Bike share provides an important connection to transit:

        * Seven in ten (71%) respondents used Capital Bikeshare at least occasionally to access a bus, Metrorail, or commuter rail …

        Bike share also helps supplement the urban transportation network, enabling trips not well-served by other forms of transit. …

        This is the way people use bike share.

        I’d much prefer a unit more designed for my needs over the generic models being rented out.

        Good for you. Just because you don’t want something, doesn’t mean everyone else feels the same way. Maybe you don’t like broccoli? Who cares — lots of people do.

        I get the concept in theory, as your bus/car analogy is quite illustrative. I’m just not sure it is accurate in this case.

        I don’t know how else to convince you. I’ve pointed to studies. I’ve tried reason (why else would people use bike share?) yet you still can’t seem to grasp why people would use it. It is like you can’t possibly understand why someone who owns a car would take transit.

        Bikes seem pretty available for point to point travel for me. As long as you have a bike chain long enough, you can secure it just about anywhere.

        And what, leave it there forever? Dude, you are missing the point. The whole advantage of bike share is that you just leave it there. You put it in the dock and you are done. Maybe you take a cab home. Maybe someone gives you a ride. Maybe you take transit, or you sleep somewhere else. You don’t have to worry about your bike being jacked, because it isn’t your bike. You don’t have to make a special trip just to go back and pick up your bike, because it isn’t your bike. Someone else is riding it.

        For that matter, what if you didn’t have a bike at the beginning of your trip? What if you took transit and then wanted to ride the bike, to solve the first mile problem?

        This is the entire point of bike share systems. It is what separates them from ordinary bike rental, or bike ownership. If you are going back and forth with a bike then you might as well use your own bike (which is probably nicer). But if you want to bike somewhere and leave that bike there (forever) then there is only one option: bike share.

      3. At least for me, back in the day when I could ride 1.5 miles on a Lime bike to the bus stop for $1, I actually did do it a couple times per week, even though I owned multiple bikes. The motivations were not having to worry about things like pumping air in the tires, leaving my bike at the bus stop all day and hoping it doesn’t get stolen, or playing Russian Roulette with the bus’s bike racks and wait up to 20 minutes extra if it’s full. Also convenient was being able to park the bike at the bottom of a staircase a block from my home on the return trip, avoiding the uphill climb I would have to do if I took my own bike. (Of course, I still have to climb the stairs, but without the weight of the bike, it’s easier).

        When they switched to ebikes at $0.10/min. I still did it occasionally, but less often. When it went up to $0.15/min., I cut back on it some more. At $0.25/min., I only rode it once in several months, and at $0.36/min., it’s like “forget it, it’s just not worth it anymore”.

        Instead of Lime, I ended up using a mixture of jogging to the bus stop and buying an e-bike which I could ride all the way across the lake and skip the bus altogether.

        Pronto at least was cheaper. But, the locations of the docks proved very limiting, and if there didn’t happen to be a docking station at both ends of the trip you wanted to make (which there usually wasn’t), you couldn’t do it. Even when there was a dock close by, getting to it was often awkward. For instance, you might have to ride the bike up a hill, just to reach the nearest dock, only to walk back down again. Or, wait seemingly forever for a walk signal to cross a busy street, just to reach the nearest dock, only to wait again to cross that same busy street on foot the opposite direction.

        So, that begs the question of what is the solution? In theory, a better docked system with thousands of bikes and docks every few blocks could do it. In practice, the amount of public money required to set up and operate such a system, while keeping prices down to a level that the public would be willing to pay, would be too much. Yes, the city could have done it with maybe 10% of the Amazon tax money, but reality is, the city has higher priorities to spend it on.

        Several years ago, I was a strong believer in bike share, but the way it’s turned out last left me mostly a skeptic.

      4. @RossB: “Notice he makes the exact same comparison as before, while ignoring all the evidence. This is trolling.”

        No, trolling is repeatedly misgendering someone who has made it very clear to posters, STB staff, and you specifically that they aren’t male. This is also of questionable legality given our state’s anti-harassment laws and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rulings. Yet you continue to persist.

        “Well, here is a study that shows about 30% of the users own bikes:”

        First off, there’s no reason to project DC usage levels on to Seattle, but let’s go there. 30%? That’s it? We’re going to create entire new levels of bureaucracy for that? Look, I love bikes. Never owned a car. But let’s be honest. How many people own bikes? The numbers I can find suggest under 3% of commuters commute by bikes, and under 5% of overall transportation users use them (According to The Seattle Times in 2019, “169,000 adults in the Seattle area use a bicycle for transportation.”) In a city of 753,675 people (approximately), and an ill defined Seattle area easily over a million people, your 30% of users owning bikes is an insignificant fraction of users. That’s a vote against bike/scooter rentals, not for them.

        “Bike share programs extend the reach of existing transit, make one-way bike trips possible, and eliminate some barriers to riding such as bike ownership, storage, maintenance and concerns about theft.”

        The NACTO report is an amusing combination of undefended assertions and cherry picked data, but let’s go ahead and address your key point here. What exactly is a one way trip? You take a bike to go from your home to the bus stop on your way to work, or to the grocery store. Okay. But you’re coming back home. There’s still a two way nature to this trip. There may be hours, even days between uses, but that doesn’t make it a one way trip. You might bike one way and carpool the other, but that’s not the type of extremely niche case you build an entire network for. Ownership is cheap. Storage is plentiful. Aside from changing a flat tire, maintenance isn’t really an issue. It’s suboptimal, but you can run a bike for over a decade on the same brakes and without greasing bearings. Theft is first of all why we have bike chains, and second of all a law enforcement issue, not a reason to invent new forms of mode sharing.

        “Also consider this study of several bike share systems, which describes how people use bike share:”

        Motivate is a private business, and that’s pretty clearly a puff piece. The only real pro bike share statistic in it is “About one third of Divvy members say they use Divvy to take trips they would not have made before.” 71% of users use bike share to commute? Okay. But most of them could and likely would bike or walk without bike share. You’re not adding value to the system. If anything, you’re just letting corporations siphon profit from the value inherent in the system.

        “And what, leave it there forever? Dude, you are missing the point. The whole advantage of bike share is that you just leave it there. You put it in the dock and you are done. Maybe you take a cab home. Maybe someone gives you a ride. Maybe you take transit, or you sleep somewhere else. You don’t have to worry about your bike being jacked, because it isn’t your bike. You don’t have to make a special trip just to go back and pick up your bike, because it isn’t your bike. Someone else is riding it.”

        How many niche cases can you string together? If you sleep somewhere else, you have somewhere else to put your bike. How many people are seriously going to bike, then cab? Or bike, but not put their bike on the bus rack to and from? What special trip do you think would be required? A ride home? You can put your bike in the back of the car. How many people want to bike somewhere and leave that bike there? The pretty clear answer is not enough to justify a system like this.

        Repetition by someone disagreeing with you does not justify condescension, annoyance, losing one’s temper, and harassment. All but one of those you have agreed to doing in this thread alone.

      5. One solution to the need to add huge number of docks is the possibility of allowing undocked use at a slightly higher price. That’s what Biketown is doing. In practice, now that the scooters are everywhere, anecdotally I’ve seen very little Biketown use.

        It’s still pretty popular in places, but there are many places (eg Sellwood to the Tacoma Street MAX station) where there isn’t any service yet.

      6. My apologies A Joy. Most people who exhibit your style of writing are trolls. Most people who troll are male. My apologies for assuming, based on you comment pattern, that you were male. I also assume you are white. Again, my apologies if I’m wrong in that respect.

        But you are trolling. You repeatedly make the same argument, over and over again, despite all the evidence. Then, a few months later, you make it all over again, with the same sort of “gee whiz” approach.

        Let’s look at the facts. You wrote this, back in May:

        What purpose do bikeshare systems serve that cannot be solved with groups like Bikeworks or bicycle ownership? That last one seems quite confusing to me.

        This sounds like a perfectly reasonable question. Of course you could look it up (and find the answer quite quickly) but you figured someone would answer, and they did. At that point, you could have said “thank you”, or “Oh, that’s interesting, tell me more”.

        Nope. You denied all the evidence, and questioned the reasoning behind the studies. Your arguments failed to acknowledge the particular advantages of bike share, and you wrote poorly reasoned counter arguments (e. g. storing bikes is easy) which of course lead to explanatory rebuttals (not if you live in live in a third floor walk-up). Your arguments have gone way beyond the original idea (that you honestly didn’t understand why bike share is popular) to questioning the reasons why it is.

        This, in short, is trolling.

        Case in point, your latest comments. Let’s review here. You wrote that bike ownership is a substitute for bike share. I said it isn’t, and explained why (citing several reports). You then wrote:

        Can you provide any evidence that bike owners in general would use a bike rental system of this kind?

        This is an audacious request. You are the one making the unusual claim, that goes against all of the evidence. You are the one claiming that bike ownership is a substitute for bike sharing systems. Yet you provide no evidence, and ask *me* to do the research. I do, and find a study that shows that bike owners do use bike share.

        Keep in mind, this is not a key part of my argument. It is a key part of your argument. You are the one claiming that no one who owns a bike would use bike share.

        Then things follow a traditional troll patterns. You claim the study is irrelevant. You provide no counter evidence. You then go on a bizarre tangent involving the ownership numbers (” your 30% of users owning bikes is an insignificant fraction of users. That’s a vote against bike/scooter rentals, not for them). That statement completely misses the reason I brought up the issue.

        This is trolling.

        Oh, and it continues. You attack the NACTO report for cherry picking data (what???) and then you ask:

        What exactly is a one way trip?

        This has been answered, several times. This sort of things continues, over an over. If I assume you are arguing in good faith, I then have to explain all of this again. This is tedious, and annoying. This is trolling.

      7. So, that begs the question of what is the solution? In theory, a better docked system with thousands of bikes and docks every few blocks could do it.

        YES! That’s it. That is what other cities did. It works.

        In practice, the amount of public money required to set up and operate such a system, while keeping prices down to a level that the public would be willing to pay, would be too much.

        It really isn’t that expensive. Other cities have done it. It works. I’m not saying we have the money right now (we obviously don’t) but it is quite reasonable to assume that with some effort, we can catch up to cities like Boston, which has a very good system. We should have done it a while ago. Pronto should have been expanded (with a lot more stations and a much bigger service area) but instead we kept experimenting with other options, all of which have failed (and now we have scooters, which will also fail).

        One solution to the need to add huge number of docks is the possibility of allowing undocked use at a slightly higher price. That’s what Biketown is doing.

        Docks solve two problems:

        1) They limit clutter. This is especially important in an urban environment. With enough docks you can have huge numbers of bikes without clogging the sidewalks.

        2) They make moving bikes a lot cheaper an easier.

        Charging more to leave your bike outside a dock can help solve that second problem. But you still want lots of docks in the core urban area (to deal with that first issue). The combination has another advantage, in that it can help you expand the docks in areas that you wouldn’t normally put them.

    3. By the way, this entire thread would have been avoided if you just did a little bit of research. Either you are trolling, or you honestly don’t understand why anyone would use bike share. If it is the latter, then just look it up. One of the big things you will find is that bike share helps solve the first and last mile problem in ways that bike ownership can not. So much show that some writers make the point that bike share is not ONLY for solving that first and last mile problem (https://www.bikeshare.com/news/bike-share-not-just-a-solution-for-the-first-and-last-mile/).

      In contrast, you find very few articles (if any) that suggest that people use bike share because they can’t afford a bike. Yet you keep writing — over several months now — that bike ownership is a substitute for bike sharing.

      Cities that have good bike share systems can’t imagine living without it. If you doubt that, just do a little bit of research.

      1. A bike share is definitely a subset of a bike rental program. The main difference is the “shared” bikes must be ubiquitous, because the bikes are suppose to be a substitute for first/last mile access since transit rarely takes you exactly where you want to go. The bike has to be next to the bus or light rail station when you exit, and working, and outside wherever you are went when you want to go home or back to transit. The bike share is designed to remedy transit’s number one flaw: door to door service.

        Seattle and other cities (like Mercer Island) that tried a bike share for first/last mile access ran into some problems:

        1. You need a lot of bikes that are functioning, even for a dense core like downtown Seattle, and still they need to be regrouped each night. That leads to sidewalk clutter. When the Seattle Times did a survey of E assisted Bikes over 1/3 were not charged or working, and so Seattle amended its contract to require maintenance/charging per bike within a specified time period. Then Covid-19 hit.

        2. Seattle is dark much of the year, and wet and cold. Most don’t wear reflective bike gear when going out.

        3. Seattle is very steep west to east, which is why Lime had to go to E assisted bikes.

        4. Seattle’s street scene, especially at night, is scary to some. I don’t see women or the elderly using a bike share.

        5. The bike share is not cheap. Last I remember it was $1 to unlock the bike, and $1 every ten minutes. Double this for a couple.

        6. No one has figured out how to include a helmet in the plan, one that is clean if you don’t want headlice. It is insane to have people riding a bike around an urban area without a helmet, and illegal too, although Seattle turns a blind eye because these are “bikes”, and bikes are holy.

        7. What you can wear, and whether you can show up sweaty and shower, are limited if you are going to bike.

        8. The bikes are generic, and not comfortable. Even in Seattle only a little over 2% commute regularly by bike, and they want bikes that fit them. Since someone else owns them riders treat shared bikes like crap, a different mentality among Americans from Europeans.

        9. And most important of all, the same thing that has hurt short distance transit within the urban core: Uber and Lyft. Even if a person is alone, Uber/Lyft are quicker and better than an E-bike for around the same cost, and for a couple provide safer and quicker door to door service at a cheaper price.

        Mercer Island tried to cure its first/last mile access issues, first with a subsidized Uber plan, but the service was spotty and took a long time to get to the south end of the Island, and when the subsidy ended was too expensive for that distance. On the eastside, so far, the park and ride is the only effective first/last mile access for that demographic.

        Then Mercer Island tried a shared E-bike program that was a disaster. First the city ordered only 35 bikes to serve the entire Island (and had to pay Lime for the bikes since it wanted real time usage data). Second the demographic, especially women, don’t want to ride a bike to a station.

        Basically the bikes were ignored by Lime, and used for a while by kids for a lark and abandoned in remote neighborhoods (a constant theme on our Nextdoor), but now the only ones left are in the bottom of wooded ravines Lime refuses to retrieve. All it did is highlight what a poor job the council has done in creating park and ride space for Islanders, not what the council was hoping for.

        Working in downtown Seattle the only people I ever saw use a shared E-bike were tourists, without helmets. Elderly, overweight white people without helmets buzzing along in the bike lanes, frustrating the real bicyclists. For them it was part of being a tourist, and the bikes could have been at a dedicated rental shop, which would mean they at least work and a helmet could be provided.

        Because urbanism and transit advocates have determined cars — even electric cars — and the devil, and rarely include women or folks who have small kids, I think they miss the reality that customers and transit riders see: Uber/Lyft are the best last miles access for the urban core, and for transit users. Transit’s best use is the long runs into core areas, including TOD’s, like Angle Lake to Seattle or Bellevue to Redmond, with electric Uber/Lyft vehicles serving as first/last mile access because of Seattle’s density.

        Instead Seattle continues to dedicate lanes to bikes for 2% who commute by bike, and an E-bike program that does little to provide first/last mile access and doesn’t even provide a helmet when I would NEVER allow my kids to ride a bike without a helmet.

        If we can ever get ideology out of transit and mobility it might actually work, and I think that ideology is going to be tested by working from home after Covid-19 leaves and Seattle’s/Metro’s/ST’s funding issues are known.

  9. “Although not anticipated when ST was first formed, the eastside subarea has become the economic engine for the region…”

    Fantastic! That’s exactly word for word what that voicemail from the son of the Prime Minister of Nigeria left on my phone. Better be careful, though.


    To some people already in public office, Mercer Island’s whole population is a mite far west to be allowed to live. Making it a really, really, really good thing that for both the last six months and an unknowable amount of future, the whole world’s ranking of everything is full-bore, flat out provisional.

    Along with everything else east of Leschi, Mercer Island’s ‘way too far west of I-5 for the average 18-wheeler to deal with profanity free. And considering usual traffic on I-405, though we know Dave Ross hates America, I-5 access requires a trucker know Persian to describe.

    To the Link-loaded north, whether Boeing re-Vertolizes or not, good chance there’ll be standing facilities that can not only manufacture railcars, but design them. And along East Marginal, plants with roadside tracks in place lacking only catenary.

    Mercifully reconnecting Mercer Island with a [TOPIC] that actually includes public transit. What are Link’s latest plans through Renton to Sea-Tac?

    Because after all these years, while those Curves will never again be empty, at least some of the people sitting in them every day have finally earned the right to be moving.

    Mark Dublin

  10. Espresso addiction’s rough on directions. It’s only from the perspective of a certain legislator’s extermination plans that Mercer Island might as well be West of I-5.

    But if you’re up on same blocks as everybody else, start proclaiming yourself an engine and whoever steals your fan-belt will get all your spark-plugs too.

    Mark Dublin

  11. Has ridership changed on Metro since fares restarted? Are there fewer people that make others feel unsafe? Have you seen people ask for free rides or walk past the driver without paying, beyond just it’s their first time since fares started and they didn’t know about it?

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