King County Metro NFI XDE35 at Vashon ferry terminal

This is an open thread.

94 Replies to “News roundup: pivoting”

  1. Nice pics, especially the title one. Nice nod to Jefferson Transit, too. Though my favorite is that building that looks like a pile of glass blocks. Do we have any proof that they’re attached to each other at all? Or was there a mini-quake before the bolts were fastened?

    Also, thanks to a certain disgruntled problem tenant of mine at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for letting Natural Selection adjust our country’s voter rolls.

    My favorite little evil goddess named COVIDIA certainly makes no bones (gruesome way to put it) about cause and effect on her watch. The rules loosen up, the death toll goes up. Wish others in authority were that straightforward on this matter. Anything happens to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer I’ll start printing up COVIDIA yard signs and bumper stickers.

    But since under Open Thread, only thing [Off Topic] is alleging that any comment is that, here’s what I’d like to kick off the morning with:

    These last two months’ STB reading has been a wailing litany of Sound Transit’s incurable genetic defects as an agency. And while we’ve all got our defects, because I believe in Regional Transit, I’ve really tried to lead the snarling rabid pack. So:

    About ST’s failings, what are we, as voters, passengers, transit advocates, trade professionals, and unpaid professional journalists going to do? For me, by the very intransigence toward lethal screwups that’s made Black Lives Matter such a presence points us our direction.

    We need to form a MOVEMENT. The sun’s up and the Floor’s open.

    Mark Dublin

  2. Damn. Meant to say “Adjust the rolls of that malcontent’s most fervent supporters, and, in the most lethal sense, CLOSEST associates.”

    Horribly, much higher death toll could be those doomed to live with the policies, and judicial appointments, these people will leave the rest of us. Everybody please be careful.

    Mark Dublin

  3. Can I get a short list of flaws in Metro’s latest Northgate Link restructure proposal? If I give feedback I want to make sure I’m not forgetting anything. There’s the redundant expresses to First Hill, the possibility of a Broadway route to replace them, the abandonment of the Lake City – North Ballard route proposal. What else?

    1. The big ones for me, in order of importance, are:

      1) Get ride of the redundant expresses to both First Hill and South Lake Union (don’t forget South Lake Union).

      2) Bring back the 61, even if it ends in Greenwood. I think the truncations (listed above) will more than pay for 15 minute service all day on the 61. This would get way more riders and provide coverage for Victory Heights.

      3) Combine the 67 and 73. This would more or less follow the route of the 73, but running on Roosevelt over Maple Leaf. The bus would have the frequency of the 67. The savings would be put into the system.

      4) Run the 65/75/372 buses on the same street until the U-Village. I proposed running them through campus both ways (like the 75 and 372) but I would be fine with running them looping around (like the 65). This seems like a minor thing, but it would really help riders for trips that can be taken with more than one bus (UW/U-Village/Children’s Hospital/ Lake City).

      5) Have the 45 and 67 share the same path through the U-District (the Ave.). Not only does that put the 67 closer to Link, but it means better combined frequency through the U-District.

      There are some other changes I make that I feel less strongly about. I change up the bus to Richmond Beach to make it straighter (this causes a few routes to be shuffled around). I also delete the 26 (I think it will perform poorly).

      In general the last restructure got a lot of little stuff right (e. g. the 31/32) but keeping the express buses and killing off the 61 is a really bad idea. I go into all of these in more detail here:

      1. For me the relocation of the 75 off Northgate to 125th even with the cancellation of the 61 (per RossB’s comment). This leaves no regular E-W route near the city’s largest Mosque.

      2. Eastern Northgate Way is so low density it’s hard to say an east-west route is essential. The 347/348 are five blocks away at Roosevelt, and if you’re going specifically to Lake City the 41 (proposed 75) are ten blocks away at 5th. One mosque is not a large institution that necessitates a route at its doorstep, much less a specifically east-west route to complement the nearby north-south route. If it were in a more isolated location and harder to get to, then I’d be more concerned about a coverage route reaching it, like the 50 does in the Seward Park area (I think there’s a synagogue there that wouldn’t have bus access otherwise).

        This is all being driven by the recession budget limitations and the expiration or at least shrinkage of Seattle’s TBD. All of Metro’s plans before it had routes on both Northgate Way and 5th. Now it must divide a shrinking pie and so it has to look at where service hours can do the most good. Serving a mosque does some good but there may be bigger needs elsewhere. Restoring Metro’s funding would probably restore a route on that path.

      3. consider the RossB comment. Would Victory Heights be better off with Route 73 and no east-west service on NE Northgate Way or a more frequent Route 67 and an east-west service between Lake City and Northgate Link via NE Northgate Way? Is not Route 73 the extra one that is not affordable? Even if the area has not been high ridership yet, will it rise with Link one mile away?

  4. Mike, the input you’re giving is important. But what I’m looking for is some ongoing power to put the agency on course and hold it there.

    All us advisors have our use. But as the owners of this system, who are also its officials’ employers, need some means to persuade our advice to be taken. Maybe pretend we’re The Downtown Seattle Association.

    Flag salute from a Civil War hero of mine, a revolutionary back home in Germany and a Union Army general named Carl Schurz. “Our country. When she’s wrong, to be set right, and when she’s right to be KEPT RIGHT!”

    Also, since all those dead-spots in the wire condition streetcar, Link, and trolleybus drivers to love momentum, I’d rather correct an agency while it’s still in motion than have to get it moving after it stops dead. Derailed, even worse.

    Mark Dublin

  5. I recall reading something somewhere, maybe here, about how who rides public transit (income-wise), changes from city to city. For example, I think in Miami, not a whole lot of upper income or middle class people ride public transit, whereas in Seattle, there is (or was), a better mix of higher and lower income riders. My question is, are we in danger of creating a Miami-like public transit system, where everyone avoids public transit but the poor? Will shifting KC transit service to low income areas in the name of equity, permanently cancelling suburban commuter and express runs, and canceling low ridership suburban milk runs, etc., have the consequence of permanently changing post-covid who rides public transit in KC, and who doesn’t?

    1. Good thing nobody’s planning to do anything like that, isn’t it? Or do you have inside info the rest of us don’t?

      Though since it is kind of true that the higher your income, the more you can do anything you want, current well-heeled claims of being victimized are mindful of what the soccer world calls “Flopping.”

      When a play or a “call” doesn’t go your way, roll around on the ground wailing and theatrically pointing to the villain who murdered you by being a couple inches off-side.

      My nephew has hated these people since he was ten, which is why Sheffield grabbed him up like lightning for a talent scout. But.., back home like in Manchester or someplace, these guys still have fans who love them.

      Wouldn’t advise trying it in rugby, though.

      Mark Dublin

    2. Miami is cautionary example of a bigger cultural rift that exists in other cities. That rift is how reasonably rich people can live in a daily bubble — separated from other residents of their city. In some foreign cities, the bubble is so pronounced that many homes predictably have servant’s quarters and personal limo drivers. That’s in addition to things like private schools, private parks and recreation facilities (country clubs and exclusive pools and gyms) and gated communities. The issue is much broader than a transit versus driving choice.

      A side benefit of transit is how it promotes a common view of “community” when it’s safe, secure and comfortable. It’s an affront to those who want exclusivity. To maintain that broad common experience involves finding a balance between affordability + access with a reliably positive or even inspiring rider experience.

      1. I will say that one reason I greatly enjoy riding transit is because of the mixing aspect of the experience. This is even more true in cities such as Toronto, where a lot of people riding the subway into the downtown core work in jobs at all income levels, but even in Seattle that has been the case to a good extent. It would be a shame to lose that opportunity to drive down inequality by losing the routes that allow for greatest mixing potential (i.e. not just the expresses and not just the routes from the South end).

      2. It’s been awhile since I was in Europe, but I doubt it’s the only place in the world where dividing passenger service into “Classes” just goes without saying.

        Our own response to that mentality, which the King (George III, not Elvis!) called “Treason”, we called The American Revolution. Which, like the West Seattle Freeway and for the same reasons, is coming up on some work.

        But since in both the English Civil War and our own, the aristocracy in the State of Florida sided with the Royalists back in England, they do have an “out” that’ll let them retain their honor and really make their critics eat wood chips. Like a King once did when crossed.

        Proudly endow the world’s Lordliest transit system to shame those Puritans for their stinginess and hoarding of money. Give every line a title starting with “The King’s Own…” or “The Duke of Marlborough’s Favorite!”

        Velvet uniforms and hats with huge feathers, De Rigeur! Sabers? Open Carry for sure! Chattel slavery? Can understand reticence to bury all that History. Because the way it smells, Hanford-grade glassification is really what’s called for.

        See, Sam? It all works out.

        Mark Dublin

    3. The biggest long-term factors are the local culture and geographical barriers. Seattle’s and King County’s ridership per capita and across demographics is pretty high nationally. It’s higher than Portland, even though Portland has more MAX lines and streetcars and a better bus grid and bike access. The Ship Canal, Lake Washington, the Duwamish River, and Puget Sound create bottlenecks that attract people to transit to cross them because it’s better than driving in a bottleneck. The moderate/liberal culture makes middle-class people more willing to take transit to work, ballgames, and sometimes other trips. Downtown Seattle remained more intact than other metros’ downtowns and still has 10% of the region’s jobs. The emphasis on peak service to downtown has kept transit use up and transit mode share higher. The secondary emphasis on service to UW, downtown Bellevue, and Microsoft has made that more widespread. So has Seattle’s choice to have more frequent all-day transit. But the decision to emphasize downtown jobs, downtown transit, secondary centers’ transit, and all-day frequency — are cultural choices. Atlanta wouldn’t do them because it doesn’t have the same culture.

      Pierce Transit is more like the rest of the country. Pretty much only working-class people and those who can’t drive use it, because it’s so infrequent and takes so long to do a particular trip. The city is small enough and has so few geographical barriers that it’s not seen as necessary to take transit. There’s a chunk of commuters who take Sound Transit to King County, but that’s all Sound Transit.

      If King County changed its policies to match other cities, it would take years or decades for transit ridership and demographics to degrade to their level. The cultural factors remain, and some middle-class people will continue taking transit to work, even if it becomes less convenient due to lower frequency. They may make fewer transit trips because some trips become non-viable, but they still take transit part of the time. The belief that “all riders are poor” or “it’s unsafe to take a bus” can’t take hold when people remember experiencing the opposite. It’s only when people who have little experience with transit read right-wing media or listen to social rumors that these views become engrained in a widespread way. The idea that Link will bring “those people” to Bellevue Square is contradicted by the current Link service and the decades of 550 service. A new Link route won’t suddenly bring switchblade-bearing gangs and fights out of the woodwork when the previous services haven’t.

      1. Well said. I think the geographic advantages of Seattle’s isthmus are underrated factors on why transit is successful here. South Sounder, commuter express bus service, and the ferries generally have the same structural advantages when they feed into Seattle (or Bellevue) CBDs.

        Job density is also super important and is a critical factor in driving strong middle/upper class ridership, not just in Europe but everywhere. This is a big reason why LA has terrible ridership even with nifty rail projects – the mode split for downtown LA is actually pretty good, but the vast majority of the jobs are elsewhere in LA.

        Therefore, I’m very bullish on East Link + Stride supporting improved mode share in Bellevue because of very high job density pair with natural chokepoints, but Pierce will struggle to drive better mode share unless they channel job growth into key transit nodes* and ensure key bus corridors are time competitive with driving. Higher cost of parking in job centers will also help

        *Downtown Tacoma is key, but other nodes like TCC or Puyallup station have promise.

    4. To answer your question, Sam: No, I doubt it. Density has increased significantly in both Bellevue and Seattle in the last few years. At the same time, a lot of those places are relatively wealthy. That means that the places that are easier to cover with transit also happen to be well connected. Some place like Lake City might have a lot more working class people who depend on transit, but they also have people in (now very valuable) houses that appreciate it as well.

      A lot of the express buses are cancelled only because of the pandemic. A bus like the 17 is still fundamentally popular. The folks there could always afford to drive, they just didn’t want to. Now they prefer to drive (or they work from home). When the pandemic passes, the route will return, as will the riders.

      1. The “Class Question?” Demand to my elected reps goes like this: “The Bill of Rights Gets Two More!”

        One, every American is entitled to employment at wages that will permit them to own outright, rather than borrow, a house.

        And two, with some serious Old Testament backing under the heading of “Jubilee”, no one will be forced to life-indebt themselves for anything that’s not a luxury.

        Also, Justice Amy Coney Barret’s not the only one who’s into “Original Intent.” My own favorite Amendment is the Ninth:

        “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

        Some old-country roots of my own leave me with a strong feeling that our Founders fully understood that the way you make a slave out of anybody is to make them a debtor.

        So along with the right not to get shot when an idiot lifelong-civilian’s gun falls out of their pocket, or to die of a disease as infectious as it is incurable, I think our Framers already classed the above two Remuneration rights as whatever 1776 called “A Done Deal.”

        So like they’d say on the “Bridge” of the Enterprise, “Make it so.” But from some beloved transit experience of my own, I can testify that the result will be the opposite of social-justice-by-conformity.

        Not going to plug up the blog with a link, but just type in “The Electroliner” and look at all the pictures.

        In addition to bathrooms, these giant red and green Milwaukee streetcars had a segment that was a “Diner”. Circa 1945 all the Bistro’s were in what was left of France. Out-the-window view of the Chicago “Loop” beat the Space Needle all hollow.

        A heroically-doomed private effort taken down by the automobile. All that Government money for freeways is signature Fake News. But at least the Chicago and North Shore showed the world how to die fighting.

        Too bad about St. Louis Car Company. So good thing Boeing doesn’t need those Everett and Marginal Way plants for those planes anymore. Also pretty sure nothing Sound Transit’s charter says it CAN’T be a worker-owned cooperative.

        Mark Dublin

  6. The article on the Lander Street overpass is a reach at best. SDOT has plans to do an overpass at Holgate Street and Spokane Street, depending on the outcome of the West Seattle bridge.

    They also have the Magnolia bridge to replace, every drawbridge needs to be replaced and I am sure I am missing some of the 100+ overpasses that are in the Seattle region that are at high risk…

  7. The Lander Street opinion article is ridiculous. Grade separation benefits all modes of travel and is not a mere “car bridge”. That includes Sounder trains and freight trains. Would the author consider it useful to build the second Downtown tunnel for Link a waste, or a Link grade separation on 15th and Elliott a waste , as it would be lots cheaper to build Link on surface streets like ST did on MLK? Why is the 17 percent of the width of the bridge for pedestrians and bicyclists ignored as a proportional benefit? Why is the major reliability improvement to bus routes ignored? Why is the location near a Link station — enabling more reliable buses and better station walk: bike access — ignored?

    I get how adding a lane is a “car project” but the Lander project has many benefits to all modes. Only 17 percent came from Move Seattle (the same proportion as the width of the bicycle tracks). More money came from freight sources than from Move Seattle.

    The opinion is based on a false reality that is way too simplistic and binary (car vs non-car).

    1. Thank you! You said it far better than I did. Minds will explode when they get around to doing Holgate Street…

    2. The benefit it provides for buses is very limited because only route will go over that bridge – the 50 – and even then, the fact that the 50 even goes to SODO to begin with is questionable (as discussed in another thread, which I won’t repeat here).

      For bikes and pedestrians, it is definitely a net plus, but the same money spent elsewhere in the city, where there’s more bike/ped traffic would have had a much better impact.

      Cars, meanwhile get double the capacity, but was that extra capacity needed? The article says traffic counts say “no”.

      In some ways, it reminds me of Spring Blvd.,in Bellevue, which also has an excessively wide road. Where what’s basically a side road to serve a few apartment buildings that only runs for about a mile or so somehow needs two car lanes per direction. It’s another example about how overestimating car capacity needs is such an ingrained default that nobody questions it.

      At least Seattle (and Bellevue, even) are not as bad as many other cities, where arterial routinely have three lanes each direction, as a matter of default. It would be like widening every major street in Seattle to match Aurora.

      1. Just because there is going to be one bus route today doesn’t mean that other bus routes couldn’t be added in the future. It’s a chicken or egg thing.

        And you’re ignoring the benefit to transit users riding on trains at this location.

        Finally, lower traffic volumes would suggest merely reducing the number of lanes on the bridge — not eliminating it entirely. In fact, it would seem possible to convert the new “unneeded” lanes to bus only or BAT lanes.

      2. How is “capacity” doubled? I recall Lander having the same number of traffic lanes as it did before the closure to build the overpass.

      3. Not only Spring Blvd but also 120th and 124th are 5-lane roads, either recently rebuilt or in the plans. They think they need more car space than 23rd Ave, 15th Ave NE, or NE 65th Street. It’s all because cars have a higher mode share there and the government coddles them more.

      4. Looking up Spring Blvd’s lane numbers led to a nifty flyover of Spring that does double duty as a Link flyover:

        The bike/ped infrastructure (both ROW and frequent crossings) seems excellent. 4-lanes is generally excessive, but hopefully some of it can be converted to midday/overnight loading/parking zones so it’s functionally a 2 lane road most of the day?

      5. “And you’re ignoring the benefit to transit users riding on trains at this location.”

        Link runs parallel, although it does eliminate an at grade crossing for Sounder. Not sure how much it will help though, given trains have always been given priority over cars, anyway.

        In any case, my beef is mostly about the 4 car lanes, not the difference between crossing vs. no crossing. The default should be to make roads as narrow as possible, not as wide as possible.

      6. From a transit perspective, I don’t see much benefit to the overpass. What buses could use it?

        It doesn’t work as an east-west route. It is a dead end on both sides.

        The 50 only goes over it because it is looping down and then back. This is a questionable practice, to say the least, with very few people saying “that part of the 50 is perfect”.

        So that leaves a dogleg from one direction or the other. From West Seattle the options are limited. The 120 and C are out of the question. The fastest way downtown is via SR 99 (the city has also done a lot of work to fix the slowdowns getting up to Third Avenue). Maybe cutting over to the busway made sense when you could go through the tunnel, but that ship sailed a long time ago.

        The 21 serves 1st, which basically leaves the 125, an infrequent bus. The 125 would probably be truncated in West Seattle if it wasn’t for the fact that it gets downtown (and back) so fast. There is no value in sending it over the bridge.

        Buses from the east (131/132, some of the Renton buses) could cut over the other direction and serve 1st. Maybe. But then what? Run down 1st to downtown? I suppose, but that is probably slower than just staying on the busway.

        Anyway you slice it you are slowing up the bus routes, and adding very little. Maybe the best bet is to extend one of the north end buses (the E, for sake of argument) along the busway, and then over Lander, ending by Starbucks headquarters. You would have to find layover space there, and you would have to hope the area got a lot more developed (like South Lake Union).

        Call me skeptical. Maybe I’m missing something — if I am, please tell me — but I just don’t see more than four buses an hour running over that bridge — and that’s being optimistic.

    3. @Brian B. and Al S.
      Agreed (and well put, Al). I wouldn’t get too bothered by The Urbanist article; it’s just a poorly premised op-ed piece on a site that, personally, I have found myself reading less and less because of inaccurate pieces and censorship of comments (that either point out these factual errors or offer a dissenting point of view).

      Additionally, clearly the author needs to acquaint himself with the issues of concurrency and LOS requirements under the mandated transportation element of the GMA.

      1. I have never seen a comment posted on The Urbanist, which is struggling financially during the pandemic (maybe they are censored although I have one still up). Often after reading an article in the Urbanist I find out the author is a high school student, or totally unqualified for the grand ideas they are promoting. So I stopped reading.

        The idea that transit will solve global warming, or transit or density will solve wealth disparity, is not realistic. As I say, fix Seattle first before taking this vision on the road.

        When it comes to the Transportation Concurrency Ordinance requirement of the GMA, I have litigated that before the GMHB, and won, requiring Mercer Island to adopt a TCO, 23 years after first due. What you learn is there are a zillion ways to fudge a TCO if a city wants, and you can hire a traffic engineer for cheap to say whatever you want them to say.

      2. Agreed on the Urbanist. I stopped reading it after awhile though I am sympathetic to their op-eds. Their arguments are frequently too simplistic and idealistic. The kind of thing you’d see if a bunch of urban planning students doing in a brainstorming session with no real world constraints. Dreaming of future transit utopias is interesting for awhile and has its place, but I’m more interested in the reality on the ground and what can we do to improve it and make transit better.

      3. I think the author would argue that the LOS requirement in the GMA is bad policy and should be replaced with a different concurrency metric like VMT.

      4. Reason I’ve been advocating that community colleges like Lake Washington Tech start giving high-school-age people hands-on courses in technical matters directly to do with public transit.

        My father, a career civil servant from just out of high school, would often correct comments of mine like the one in the Urbanist and explain to me that analysis and approach must above all be practical.

        Considering the general disaster of a country we’ve left these kids, it’s the least we can do for them. When transit all blows out….who in the world’s going to drive US all to work?

        Mark Dublin

      5. The Urbanist is like any other publication. The quality comes and goes. I think they do a decent job, and based on the assumed viewership, is underrated. I have also struggled with their comment section. I think it had something to do with a stupid bot they used though, not anything personal. Like way too many young, tech savvy white boys, they trusted the technology way too much. (Hell, you could say the same thing about much in this town, like bike/scooter share).

        Some of the writers seem a bit extreme, or sophomoric, but that is to be expected for a publication of that sort (the same can be said for this blog). They seem capable of cranking out the articles, which I really appreciate in a blog. I noticed immediately when STB missed a day — I would have gladly offered up a Page 2 post to keep the streak alive, stilted writing and all :)

        As to their idea, it is like many which seem radical at first (defund the police!) but make a lot of sense when you dig into the details (you would still have the police, but more like the police in other, more advanced countries).

        Last new “auto” bridge? It depends on what you mean by “auto”. Last *new* bridge that allows automobiles? Probably not. Last bridge that appears designed mainly to benefit drivers? Maybe. But that assumes that this is built mainly to benefit drivers. And by drivers, I mean drivers of regular cars.

        My guess is this is designed mainly to benefit (driving) freight (AKA trucks), even if the secondary benefit is for regular drivers. The benefit to transit is not only tertiary, but so small it becomes a rounding error. To Ryan Packer’s point, this thing cost 100 million. Split three ways, with 33 million going to trucks, cars and transit, does anyone think a transit rep would say “YES! Yes, that right there. Speed up the 50, as it crosses from 1st to 4th. That’s what we want to spend 33 million on!”.

        No, of course not. On the hand, tell someone in the trucking industry about this $100 million project and they say “Great, that’s a bargain. The Puget Sound Gateway cost $2 billion”.

        Is it radical to point out the obvious subsidies for an industry that is obviously hurting the planet? No. Is it amateurish to point out that the same industry is one of the few that still has a strong union, and thus one of the few that enables an actual middle class in country? Yes again.

        Welcome to the Urbanist.

      6. “I think the author would argue that the LOS requirement in the GMA is bad policy and should be replaced with a different concurrency metric like VMT.”

        That may be, but the author wasn’t making THAT argument. Also, the LOS criteria can be defined by the jurisdiction itself, i.e., it’s not codified in the governing statutes. In other words, the LOS concurrency component of the transportation element of the jurisdiction’s comp plan is a metric DEPENDENT upon the planning entity’s own user-defined metric. As you probably know, since you’re a fan of theirs, the PSRC has been pushing their member jurisdictions for a multimodal approach to concurrency with some, albeit limited, success. Seattle probably falls into that distinction.

        Nevertheless, the author failed to even casually consider this aspect of the city’s current transportation infrastructure planning/needs in his op-ed piece, which is a significant oversight imho.

    4. I knew the Move Seattle contribution was a small fraction of the cost, but didn’t realize the 17% matches the 17% ROW given to bike/ped. Ironically, that’s a more equitable contribution than a bureaucrat could probably pull off intentionally.

      1. I’m admittedly approximating. It appears as though just under 1/6th of the cost was funded by Move Seattle and the bicycle lane appears to be about 1/6th of the bridge width.

    1. I seem to remember that in San Francisco, especially on heavily traveled trolleybus lines, supervisors would often be stationed to stand at certain points and control headways.

      Making sure that buses were spaced out so nobody “bunched”, but there was also always a bus in sight. Basically running to headway, rather than runcard.

      Strongly remember at especially on the Route 7, certain drivers would avoid undue stress by maintaining a strategic distance from their leader. So the leader would fill up to the gills with passengers who would’ve been a lot more comfortable on the follower.

      See above for “Flopping.” So might be worth the work-hours for Metro to run electric driving as the “espirit’d’corps specialty it is.” With all crew meeting frequently to compare notes and work out “bugs.”

      By right anybody assigned under overhead should probably be paid more, both for the extra passengers and the extra skill and knowledge. But for considering the true “Espirit’ d’ Atlantique”, too many people would do if for nothing to bother the budget on their account.

      They’ll deny it, but their secret’s safe with me.

      Mark Dublin

    2. Boarding another bus is easier when the next bus comes in five or ten minutes than when it comes in fifteen or thirty minutes. And what if the second or third buses are full too? That can be especially a problem in certain parts of a route between two high-volume turnover areas.

      1. Mike, can we look at lanes like this? If we’ve got reason to think we may need a lane for any reason, what’s the harm in building it and, over the years, adjusting its use to whatever’s necessary? Including everything from bikes to sidewalk cafe’s.

        But when we’ve got a real standing load problem, especially one as inflexible as Social Spacing demands, we might consider staging buses in platoons.

        With supervisors’ option to hold units back, send them ahead, or as very common for MUNI, turn them back. Pretty sure their average electric route has a lot more turnback loops in the overhead than we do.

        Mark Dublin

      2. Yeah, as the article indicated, the comment seemed to be viewed as insensitive by a lot of people.

        I have not ridden the TTC in years, but as I recall, they have a mix of “frequent service” (i.e. under 10 minutes) on some routes, and timed stops/transfer points on others. Riding the “frequent” routes was actually annoying because of bunching and (occasionally) short turning, though the routes I rode generally did not suffer from short turning. I know it was a major issue on the street cars, though.

      3. Better to tolerate crowding and be transparent about it than to deny transit service to people who can’t board before the 16-person limit is reached. That 16-person limit is 33% of the seated capacity, 16% of seated+standing capacity, and 8% of crushload maximum. So it’s not a trivial reduction. The alternative is to buy two or three times as many buses as you have. Neither Toronto nor Seattle has budgeted to do that or was anticipating such a large purchase. A bus that passes people up is as useless as no bus at al, so it’s the equivalent of slashing service to subminimum levels. Forcing people into cars or foregoing trips like it’s a small town in the 1950s is not the right direction for 21st-century cities in an age of climate change.

      4. Foregoing trips like it’s the worst pandemic in a century is totally the right call. I understand that not everyone is enough of an introvert to stay home all the time, and not everyone has a place comfortable enough to hunker down for the next year. Those trips count as “essential”. However, other “Western” countries have imposed quite strict travel restrictions. My friend in Melbourne mentioned that they were under no-travel-beyond-5km for a month or two this summer, and certainly no “non-essential” trips were allowed. I do not see this as being an undue burden; YMMV. I can respect one’s different opinion while strongly disagreeing with it :)

      5. Getting groceries is essential, and most of my trips are for groceries. The others are to parks and to visit a disabled relative and do chores for them. I’m especially bothered by the 131/132, which is my main way to Costco, and having it full when I’m carrying heavy groceries home. I try to get there by 1:30pm to avoid the most crowded buses. I didn’t use transit at all for six weeks during the height of the lockdown, and I didn’t start going to parks or to get my shoes replaced until the phase 2 reopening. If businesses are open, then it’s logical to expect people to take transit to them if you don’t have a car. I still limit my trips to twice a week or so, and do chain trips (both park and groceries in the same trip). Seattle’s parks are peripheral, and not being able to take transit to them means having no access to 90% of the parks. I try to take the most empty buses when there’s an alternative, like the 10, 50, 73, and to travel when other people aren’t (late morning, early afternoon, and on weekends).

      6. Thank you, Mike. As I mentioned, I understand that different people define their behavior as “essential”, or not, in different ways, and I personally see no problem with your choices – nor would it matter if I did, since they are yours to make.

        To the specifics of what you mentioned you do, two choices I make differently:

        1. We order Costco deliveries online, instead of going to stores. Primarily through their shipping (rather than in-store Instacart) option, so that limits to non-perishables, but that is most of what we would get there anyway. They are generally packed well, and the shipping is free if ordering in bulk every month or so (again, our normal store pattern anyway, so it works).

        2. We have not gone to any park (even neighborhood ones) since the outbreak started. I do not expect we will go to any parks until the outbreak is substantially under control.

        Hope this helps.

    1. I don’t think it’s too soon to select another name for this station. There’s already a “130th Station” in Bellevue. It’s rather confusing.

      Even just “N 130th” would help.

      1. I posted too soon. ST is already using “NE 130th” already. We should probably be more deliberate about the name.

      2. I will continue saying 130th until the station opens. It’s too hard to remember where names are when you can’t see them on the ground, and when the neighborhood doesn’t have a well-known name. The center of the U-District is clearly 45th & University Way, and the center of Capitol Hill is clearly Broadway between Pine and John, so that’s where the station is and should be. But 130th & I-5, is that Pinehurst, Northgate, the outskirts of Lake City, or something else? Ditto for 145th & I-5. Is that the outskirts of Lake City, Northgate, Bitter Lake, or something else? “Shoreline South” and “Shoreline North” could mean several things, not necessarily 145th and 185th. So I stick with the numbers until the stations open, like I usually stick to “East Link” and “Northgate/Lynnwood/Everett Link” instead of the line numbers or former colors, because who can remember which one is line 1 or 2? It will be clearer when you can go into the station and see the sign on the wall and remember what that looks like and associate the name with the station area.

    2. So 130th has the same problem as 145th: the station is north of the intersection, making transfers from east-west buses longer and eliminating the possibility of entrances on two sides or all four sides of the intersection. Does ST not understand the concept of maximizing network usability and ridership? That’s a rhetorical question of course.

      1. yes, the ST Link stations should provide grade separated crossing of the major arterials: Mt. Baker, Rainier Avenue South; Airport, International Boulevard South; 35th Avenue SW; Delridge Way SW; NE 130th Street.

      2. Yeah, they messed up a long time ago. I made this point a while ago. The planning completely ignored the station until it was too late.

        It was crazy that they ignored the station in the first place. That was the big mistake. But even when it should have been obvious to everyone that it was a big mistake, they continued to ignore the station. More than anything, they ignored why it is such an important station. Like Mount Baker, it isn’t about the riders who walk to the station, it is about those who transfer from a bus.

        Anyway, the best hope in the long run is that the city builds an overpass from the south, and carves out a lot of space for the buses. If done right it will be similar to Judkins Park. A lot of similarities, really. Most of the riders will arrive via a connecting bus. Those riders will have to go up a level, and then walk (or roll) a ways before they get to the platform. Of course with Judkins Park there was no other choice — there are two streets (23rd and MLK) that it is trying to serve. Judkins Park is well designed. This is not.

        If nothing else, it should be built with the same overpasses as Judkins Park from the day it is built. Unfortunately, the politics surround the station make that difficult. ST has had overruns with the Lynnwood line, and there are still morons out there who don’t understand how dependent our light rail system is to our buses. It is hard enough to get ST to commit to building this with the rest of the line. I can just imagine the whining if we ask them to build it so that it can function properly.

  8. Tlsgwm, Really like “Haller Lake.” Locations consist more of things like lakes than just streets whose names are numbers.

    Speed with which University District Station reverts to “Brooklyn” may depend entirely how many New York flights land at Sea-Tac as opposed to other origins. Also what the pandemic could do to the Kosher Corn Beef supply.

    Mark Dublin

  9. Good round-up and good photo this week!

    I, like many of you, am appalled at the GOP’s anti-science attitudes. Especially around fighting this pandemic. There isn’t room in that party for anybody who comments regularly on this blog anymore.

  10. Question for the comment section. Especially, those that have criticized the great American patriot, Mr. Kemper Freeman or certain eastside cities, that have played hardball with ST, or who were potentially going to delay Link. Why the silence on a Seattle democrat councilperson who played hardball with ST, and was possibly going to delay Link?

    1. What are you referring to? When has a Seattle democrat councilperson played hardball with ST?

      1. Didn’t a councilperson say they would oppose ST3 if their district didn’t get a second Link station?

      2. Possibly. Which station? I thought you were referring to something this year. Do you mean 130th? That station is of such strategic importance that I wouldn’t begrudge a councilmember saying it’s 130th or nothing. In any case, it didn’t get enough traction to put ST3 in significant jepordy, unlike Kemper’s lawsuits and influence on the Bellevue city council that could have scuttled East Link. The main issues in my mind that Seattle’s support of ST3 turned on were the debates on whether West Seattle was justified, whether the Ballard alignment was too far east to be effective. and whether the lack of a Ballard-UW line was enough to oppose ST3.

    2. There is a difference between playing hardball with Sound Transit to get them to build something that will obviously make the system better (the type of thing that most agencies would build) and someone playing hardball with an agency for personal benefit.

  11. Today I took Link to north Seattle for the first time in months. It felt like visiting another city or taking a long-forgotten line. I took Link+45 to the 65th Street produce shop, 45+Link back, stopped at Pike Place Market, and the 49 home. Link was like a ghost town. At 1pm at Capitol Hill, there was only one other person on the platform, going in the other direction. When the train arrived four or so others had accumulated. The upper level of the end sides were blocked off, while the interior upper levels had the aisle seats closed. In the lower levels fewer seats were closed, although I think some of them were surreptitiously removed. There were a few people in each car, about a third of the ridership south of Westlake.

    The 45 and 49 had a major addition. Earlier I complained about the new waist-high gates that swing between the driver’s seat and the aisle, and how they do nothing to stop virus transmission above them. But these two buses had a plexiglass screen above the gate to the ceiling. Finally! I didn’t notice whether the 73 had a screen. But it did have a box full of fifty or a hundred masks, just behind the driver. So Metro is getting better.

  12. The following is taken from a post on, Denver edition, from Jan 2019 that I was reading recently:

    “The region’s public transit does some things well. But it often fails to get the basics right according to the urban planner Christof Spieler, author of the new book “Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of U.S. Transit.” ($40, Tattered Cover, Island Press.)

    “The book, which looks at public transportation systems across America, starts with a quick discussion about the essential but often neglected features that make transit successful. What follows in most of its 264 pages is a fascinating atlas that profiles 47 transit systems, including Denver’s Regional Transportation District. For each city, photos, maps and infographics complement easy-to-follow writing, illustrating what each city gets right — and where they fail.”

    So, I was thinking about getting a copy of this book and I was wondering if anyone from this blog has checked it out and could provide some additional feedback. Thanks.

    1. I own it. It’s OK. I appreciate the effort, but it is full of mistakes although I think it gets the basics right. It is handy if you are sitting there, and wonder, say, what the transit system is like in Austin. It is also a decent primer on transit, although I think Human Transit is much better, even if that book primarily focuses on buses (what is true of bus service is also true of rail more often than not). In general I am happy to add it to my collection (it is pretty) but I was a bit disappointed. Maybe the second edition will be better.

    2. Yes, that book is fascinating. I got it from the Seattle library, and started writing a review of it but never got far. It outlines the transit networks of dozens of cities with maps, focusing on regional and RapidRide-like transit but not all local routes. There are two or three kinds of maps; I don’t remember exactly what they show, but it was good research and to see them side by side. The Seattle section is unusually positive compared to most of the others. If I recall it has the ST2 network and mid-2010s Metro expansions, but not ST3 because it was still in preplanning and didn’t have full political support yet. The first chapter goes through transit best practices.

    3. Yep, I’ve borrowed it from the Seattle Public Library. Like RossB mentioned there are some minor factual errors for some cities’ write-ups, but overall a great look into transit systems that don’t get a lot of attention otherwise. Lots of maps, I think mostly of rail/BRT routes overlaid on population density maps. It’d be a great coffee table book.

      1. Yes, I forgot to mention that. The pictures are nice. It is a good coffee table book. I was just disappointed with the obvious errors and lack of depth.

    4. @RossB, @Mike Orr, @Pat
      Thanks for all of the great feedback! It’s been very helpful.

      I’ve travelled a lot domestically for work and so I’ve used many of the public transit systems around our country over my lifetime. I also spent the first 30+ years of my life in NYC, so I’ve used that city’s system extensively (yes, even during the dark days back in the 70s) and have continued to do so since moving to Seattle whenever I’m back in the city for pleasure or work-related trips. Additionally, I’m pretty familiar with the transit systems in several other cities on that side of the country, such as Boston and Philly to name just a couple of places. (The notable exception is DC which I haven’t had the chance to visit since my law school days.) But there are a bunch of metropolitan areas that I’ve never used transit in while visiting (Phoenix and Dallas immediately springs to mind) or where I have only used public transit infrequently. Thus, I thought this book might be a good resource to have on hand to familiarize myself with some of the other transit systems around the country with which I don’t have any personal use experience.

      I guess the minor errors in the book you’ve cited aren’t a dealbreaker for me. Initially, I just wasn’t sure if the book was worth forking over $40 but it sounds like it’s a pretty nice-looking book. I don’t really need any more coffee table books but I’m sure I can find a home for it in my office. :)

      Thanks again for your feedback.

  13. Are there any issues that are causing delays in activating the Siemens railcars? I haven’t been able to come across any information, and I believe we were supposed to have seen a few sets in regular service by now.

  14. Metro open house report. I missed the first 40 minutes, but when I joined they were just starting the questions. It was all written questions, no testimony or audience speaking. The first question was, “What happened to route 61?” That’s the Lake City-Loyal Heights route that was proposed in an earlier phase. The Metro planners said it was withdrawn only because of recessionary budget constraints, and that it was a hard choice to let it go.

    Other questions were whether route 372 would still go between UW Bothell and UW Seattle, how to get to Link if you live between two stations at 52nd & Roosevelt (and carrying heavy groceries), what to expect in Sunset Hill, and whether route 73 would change (for the mobility-limited). The planners said routes 45, 67, and 372 would remain unchanged except the south end of the 372 would be rerouted to U-District Station. The 73 would turn west on Lake City way to Roosevelt Station and then southeast to the Ave and on to UW Station. The 45 is restored in NW 85th street. Sunset Hill was outside the scope of this restructure. I assumed that meant the 17 and 40, but one of the councilmembers talked about Seaview Ave NW and how elderly residents there were hoping for a restoration there someday. (The 46W shuttle was deleted several years ago, maybe in the 2014 cuts.) Somebody asked whether the 301 would be truncated again in 2025 with Lynnwood Link. The answer was that there would be another restructure process about two years before that (so 2023), and the 301 would be included in it.

    1. Also, they said they’d been counting on the 41 truncation for a big boost to North Seattle service, and keeping all the hours in that subarea. But with the recession reducing available hours and needs in other areas emerging (I assume that alluded to West Seattle bridge mitigation and essential workers/low income ridership remaining high in other neighborhoods), some of the 41’s reclaimed hours may be shifted to other neighborhood. (I assume southern Seattle.)

    2. You didn’t miss much, in my opinion. Just about every question was something that was covered on the web site. I asked a few pointed questions, but they weren’t answered. Things like “Why does the 75 and 372 go through campus both directions, but the 65 goes on Pacific?” or “Did you considering getting rid of the express buses to First Hill or South Lake Union, and keeping the 61 instead?”.

      The only real news was that they were open to restructuring again, a couple years after Northgate Link. I hope so. The other interesting thing is that Dembowski was emphasizing that we are still in the “gather input” stage. It is pretty common at this point to basically be more or less settled, but I didn’t get that feeling at all (but then again, maybe I’m optimistic). It is frustrating for the planners to talk about providing “east-west” service and then pointing to the 79. The 61 was the main “east-west” route, and it is gone. More than anything, this is a restructure designed with two goals in mind:

      1) Make little fixes that should have been done a while ago (e. g. disconnect the 31/32 with the 75 for better reliability).
      2) Don’t upset riders who are used to their one seat ride. I’m kind of surprised they didn’t just keep the 41.

      It is depressing to think that the best part of the restructure is actually being done by Sound Transit. Sending the 522 to Roosevelt, and running it all day will allow people to get to Roosevelt and places that connect to it much faster. It isn’t ideal, but that at least speeds up the trip to Greenwood, or the three seat-ride to Phinney Ridge from Lake City. Instead of 3 mile trips that takes an hour, it will take 50 minutes. Progress!

    3. The original reason the 65 is on Pacific is so that at least one northeast Seattle gets close to UW Station for transfers. I avail myself of that sometimes, to go from Link to the 65 to the 75, or from 65th & Roosevelt to Link. With U-District and Roosevelt Stations there will be no need for that, but there will still be a draw to UWMC. And inertia.

      It was always funny that the 65/67’s UW Station stop was only eastbound, as if people travel in only one direction. But I did avail myself of that routing several times and was glad of it. I wished it stopped at the station westbound too, but one way was better than zero way.

      1. The original reason the 65 is on Pacific is so that at least one northeast Seattle gets close to UW Station for transfers.

        So you would walk to the bus stop, check One Bus Away, and then decide whether to walk to the other bus stop? This is an approach that just makes transit worse. It is a bad idea to have two buses running infrequently so close together. Consolidation saves people time and frustration. I can just imagine getting off the train, walking to the bus stop and seeing it take off. This is frustrating enough, but then I have to cross over and walk to the other bus stop, and hope that I don’t miss it. In contrast, if they both run on the same street, then if I miss one, I know another one isn’t too far behind (actually, in this case, two other ones).

      2. The problem is that there are two competing but very valid use cases with conflicting needs.

        For UW Station, it makes the most sense to run both 65 and 75 (and I guess maybe 372 as well?) down Montlake and then I suppose Pacific to loop back to Campus Parkway terminus (or continue on).

        For UW proper, it makes the most sense to run both 65 and 75 through campus.

        Current use case has by far the majority of riders go to main campus (not hospital, though hospital is a solid #2). The Link station itself is a distant #3, though that would become less distant with better connections. The added difficulty is that most student ridership is fairly short distance – on the 372, it seems to be primarily up to NE 65th St, and on 65/75 probably up to about past the Children’s Hospital area. After that, you get regular ridership, probably down to about 30% of the peak (or less, on the 75).

        The current compromise seems to acknowledge these different use cases and satisfies them per the order I listed. Hospital workers get a relatively convenient stop at the Herb Garden (I forget the name of the cross street on Stevens Way) – just cross the bridge. Students get off everywhere, primarily at Pend Oreille and the HUB. And they added the stop at Rainier Vista to minimize walking to Link. Then, for people coming from Link, who are more likely to have already had a long day, they get a more convenient connection back North on the 65 and on the 71.

        It’s not ideal. Ideal would have been to have a Link station at the HUB, but that did not happen. At least with the U District station coming online, you can reroute the 65, 75, and 372 to connect there instead of UW station.

      3. It is worth noting that this situation will get more ridiculous, not less, if it isn’t fixed. Consider a trip to trip from Link to Children’s Hospital. For the sake of argument, assume the 372 is too far away. There are several choices — I’ll list them all, even though some seem silly:

        1) Get off at the U-District, and catch the 31/32 on 45th.
        2) Get off at the U-District, and catch the 65 (67) on Roosevelt.
        3) Get off at the U-District, and catch the 75 on Campus Parkway.
        4) Get off at the UW, and catch the 75 on Stevens Way.
        5) Get off at the UW, and catch the 65 on Montlake Boulevard.

        The fastest trips are 1 and 4. But for a trip like this, waiting is far more important than speed. None of these buses is especially frequent — they vary from 10 to 15 minutes. Ideally then, you want a backup — to be somewhere where you can catch two, maybe three buses.

        Technically you can, but they are miserable choices:

        1) Get off at the U-District and walk west (away from your destination) to Roosevelt (a four minute walk). If you see the 31/32, take it. If not, maybe you can catch the 67/65 and round the horn.

        2) Walk all the way down to Campus Parkway (a six minute walk) and catch the 75 or 65.

        Realistically, no one would do that. Every single rider, no matter where they come from or which technique they choose will have an infrequent bus ride to Children’s Hospital, despite 3 buses going from the U-District to the hospital. This is not a problem unique to Link. It is true for most of the campus. Those two spots I listed are the only two spots where the buses are close to each other.

        This is not coverage — it is bad routing. While these buses aren’t often close to each other, they aren’t far apart either. The 31/32 intersects the 67/65. The 65 and 75 even share a bus stop. It is just that in both cases they do so well away from a Link Station (and at best on the outskirts of campus).

        The 67 should follow the 45, and run on the Ave. The 75 should be extended to the U-District Station (like the 372). That way, you could stand at 45th and the Ave — one block from the Link station — and catch three buses to Children’s Hospital. People at the campus should be able to stand anywhere on Stevens Way and catch two buses there.

        Instead, riders will likely try and catch the 31/32, get upset because it is running late (which is inevitable, since it crosses the Fremont bridge) and then start walking down to Campus Parkway. At least there they will have a couple of options.

        By the way, this pattern (or anti-pattern) is not new to this area, but showed up previously with this restructure. It suggests people who have never taken a bus before. In a good system, you don’t always know what bus you are going to take. If you are heading up Third downtown, you don’t. If you are on Elliot headed downtown, you don’t (maybe you take the D, maybe the 24 or 33). What most see as a good thing, the planners seem focused on avoiding. Running one bus on 85th and another on 80th would have been worse for the thousands of people who don’t care which bus arrives first — they just want to go east-west a mile or two (or catch Link). People are willing to walk a couple blocks for a more frequent bus. What they really don’t like is low frequency, and this manages to create that, despite three (three!) buses all going to the same place.

      4. Don’t disagree with any of that, but again, so far the largest constituency for these buses are the UW student ridership, with the second largest being UW medical staff and patients, and the third being Link riders. As Mike pointed out in a different message (or maybe thread?), the fourth is the cross-traffic between U Village and Fremont. From my experience when I was spending time on campus daily, the order is about that, pretty much at all hours of the day – both rush hour and mid-day.

        Given this, I think it would be best to make the connection point to Link be U District station, send the 75 there as well (and perhaps run it on 45th with a stop at 20th and another at 17th to serve campus – not ideal but would probably serve student population well enough) and loop 65 through campus in both directions, cross-routed with 67 as it is now, except sending 67 up to U District station as well (then jump over to 11th/Roosevelt higher up in the district). That way, you get coverage to Link as well as coverage of campus, which are the highest ridership destinations, with frequency to address your concerns.

        I am just not sure that I would optimize for Link transfers while penalizing UW students, not unless UW makes ORCA passes optional again. Students may be willing to walk farther than most to get to transit – but they will also be more willing to just walk the entire way, if the options are having to walk 5 blocks in the wrong direction (to UW station/15th) or 10 blocks to get home (along 25th near Blakeley, for example, where the biggest single jump in ridership of the 372 is). And I don’t think we want UW to have to make ORCA passes optional, so we may as well also account for student ridership needs in the planning.

        This is a dear subject to me, because when I was a student there, it really did not feel like anyone was speaking for the student ridership in any meaningful way. I certainly felt I got the service I needed, but serendipitously rather than intentionally.

      5. You don’t really go to one stop and then another like I did between the 15 and 18 in Ballard. All of them came every 10-15 minutes daytime (and the 65 full-time) so you might as well remain at your first stop. If you’re going between UW Station and the Ave there’s a bus every 2-5 minutes so that’s no problem. The issue is northeast Seattle. To get from UW Station to the 75 or 372 it’s a seven-minute walk to Rainier Vista, and then you have to stand at a stop with no bench or rain shelter, and sometimes you’d just miss your bus and the next one would be 5-10 minutes late, and you’d have to crawl through the campus congestion. (There is a covered bench if you turn left at Rainier Vista, but you can’t see the bus coming from it.) The 65 covers the highest-ridership portion of the 75, and it’s almost as good as the 372 if you’re going to as close as 50th or 55th. So in those cases you can take the 65 instead because it stops at Husky Stadium.

        If you’re going further on the 75, you can take the 65 one big stop from Husky Stadium to U Village and transfer to the 75 where there’s a bench and shelter. And the 65 is fast on Montlake Blvd because there’s no light or stop in between and all the congestion is going the other way. The 65 was every 10 minutes and sometimes more often than that, so it was a better transfer than many in Seattle. I say “was” because with the reductions it’s now 15 minutes daytime, 20 minutes evening.

        The 372 seems to have it worst because you can’t take the 65 to the 372, or at least it’s a long walk from the 45th stop to the first 25th stop. And the 372 is 30 minutes evenings and weekends. So 372-land has gotten the short end of the stick ever since the U-Link restructure.

        The ideal would have been to open U-District Station simultaneously in 2016 so there wouldn’t be this gap between UW Station, Campus Parkway, and 45th. Metro saturated the gap with buses as mitigation, but that only helps people west of the university, not east of it.

        AM is right that the highest ridership is going to/from campus or going from U Village to the U-District or Fremont. Metro always said throughout the restructure it would put students first because they have the highest ridership (and it’s a state institution). Routing the 65 eastbound to UW Station was the one concession it made to get northeast Seattle riders closer to Link.

      6. Metro was at one point going to extend the 255 to Children’s. That would serve the UW Station to Children’s market if the 65 vacated it. But everything changes with U-District Station. Now there’s no reason to get off at UW Station at all; you just ride two more minutes to U-District Station. The transfer is much closer, and hopefully the bus will go on 45th rather than crawling through campus. In any case it avoids the dilemma of walking 2 minutes to the 65 or 7 minutes to Stevens Way and the bus you really want.

      7. The current compromise seems to acknowledge these different use cases and satisfies them per the order I listed.

        Yes, but because of the distances and frequencies involved, everyone loses. Here is a simple example. Let’s say I’m trying to get from the UW hospital to Children’s hospital. Ideally the buses go on Pacific Street/Pacific Place/Montlake Boulevard. That has the least amount of walking. But riders from the campus would prefer the bus run on Stevens Way. At first glance, running a bus on both streets appears to be a good compromise.

        Except it isn’t. The 65 runs every 15 minutes. It is only an extra couple minute walk to the other bus stop. You can’t just take the first bus that gets there. The buses are far enough apart to make it impossible to wait for both. Yet they are close enough to provide nothing in the way of coverage. It is the worst of both worlds. You would be way better off if both buses ran on Stevens (even though one would be further away from you). You walk further, but get double the effective frequency.

        The same is true for someone who gets off of Link. The same is true for someone in campus. It is the worst of all worlds. Nobody wins.

        It would be different if the distances were bigger, or the frequency higher. If the buses ran every five minutes, it would make sense to run buses on both streets. If the streets were ten minutes apart, it would be essential. But neither is the case. Every rider spends more time waiting than they save by having a bus closer to them. Metro just needs to pick a street, and stick with it.

      8. Given that the majority of users (or at least plurality) are on campus, you would need to move the 65 to run on campus (i.e. on Stevens) in both directions, which is… how it was before Link. So yes, that would be satisfying the most users, and really hurt some quite badly (because that transfer is not that great). Metro acknowledged this and struck the current compromise.

        I get your point about frequency, I just am not sure I agree entirely. As someone who could connect to both 71/73/373 and 372 and get close to his target destination in the evenings, I can say with no uncertainty that I would have been pretty unhappy to have the option to catch all of them from Stevens, the current set up where I would catch some on Stevens and some on Montlake/Pacific was much preferable. I would check OBA and decide whether to sprint up the hill for the 372, wait for the 71/73/373, or ride the long way to Campus Parkway and catch the 372 there (this is all when coming back into Seattle on the 271). Having to always walk up the hill would be annoying, and I’m in reasonable shape and able bodied. People without that advantage would be worse off. Yes, that route is accessible, but I would not want to wheel myself all the way up to Stevens, I would rather wait for 15 minutes in the sheltered stop at Pacific. Conversely, moving the 372 to Pacific would hurt students, and I wrote to Metro against this when Link restructure took place, even though it would have benefited my transfer to have it move. I’m sorry (not sorry) if my writing to them in late 2015/early 2016 was the straw that broke the camel’s back and led to this compromise you so clearly despise :) But I stand by it and would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

      9. You don’t really go to one stop and then another like I did between the 15 and 18 in Ballard. All of them came every 10-15 minutes daytime (and the 65 full-time) so you might as well remain at your first stop.

        Which is another way of saying you are supposed to live with crap. You might have to wait 10 to 15 minutes for a bus. On the other hand, it isn’t worth walking two minutes away, since you might have to wait 10 to 15 minutes there. Under the current system, for that connection — you just live with crap.

        If you’re going between UW Station and the Ave there’s a bus every 2-5 minutes so that’s no problem.

        Exactly! That is the type of situation I’m talking about. You don’t even name the buses, because you don’t care.

        What is ironic about the 65/75 situation is they actually have that in Lake City. In the heart of Lake City, you can sit down at a nice bus stop, and know that fairly soon, either a 65 or 75 will come alone. It doesn’t matter which one comes first. That is as it should be.

      10. So yes, that would be satisfying the most users, and really hurt some quite badly (because that transfer is not that great).

        OK. So let’s play that out. We have three groups of users:

        1) Folks who access the 65/75 from campus.
        2) Riders who access from the UW Station, or UW Hospital, but prefer frequency over the extra walking.
        3) Riders who access from the UW Station, or UW Hospital and find it a hardship to access bus stop at Stevens.

        I think we can assume that groups 1 and 2 are much higher than 3. So if we are focusing on ridership, I think it is safe to assume that the the current routing hurts it. Dealing with 10 to 15 minute frequency is well within the range where people just quit transit. It doesn’t work for them. They have to be home to take care of the kids, etc.

        The same sort of thing could happen if we ask people to walk that extra distance. Some riders could think the walking is just too far, and not worth the effort. Except for one thing: To go the other direction, you have to do that walk. Unless those riders are calling a cab the other way, they are making that walk. Every change involves losing riders and gaining riders. But in this case, having both buses use Stevens is nothing but gain.

        The case to move the buses is even stronger once Link gets to the U-District. If you don’t want to walk, and are trying to get from Link to Children’s Hospital, then the best option, by far, is to use the U-District Station and wait for the 31/32. It will be along, eventually, and will require a lot less walking then getting to the current 65 bus stop.

        Which basically just leaves the hospital. Again, I would bet that the majority of folks from there who are headed to Children’s Hospital (or Lake City) would much prefer walking a couple minutes, and catching a more frequent bus. We shouldn’t base our system on the personal preference of a minority of a minority of riders. If what you say is true — if most of the riders would prefer the bus run on Stevens — then the buses should run on Stevens. Because most of the riders don’t care which street the buses run on, as long as they run frequently. (The same is true of Link, of course. It is, by far, the worst possible location for a station in the area, yet it is the second most popular stop).

        [Oh, and yes, I hate this. I hate this with all of my heart. We live in frustrating times. I feel like Seattle is very close to getting a very good transit system, but we keep falling short. If we can’t do the little things right — the things that don’t cost a dime — it is unlikely that we will make the tough decisions that enable a first class system. We will accept 10 to 15 minute frequency as “good”. We will live with trips that would take 15 minutes in a car taking an hour by bus (and involving changing directions four times). We will shrug, and say “Oh well — the local economy soured”, or even “we have tough geography”, instead of the real reason, which is poor planning. Then we’ll visit Vancouver and say “Man, those Canadians sure know how to do transit”.]

      11. Yeah, to cut the long discussion short, I agree that it should be restructured once Link gets to the U District, and probably run things on Stevens. But for now, satisfying most users is not sufficient, as we all know – I believe that you yourself said a post or two ago that there is a balance between coverage and frequency on the most used routes. In this particular case, _I_ think that the balance is correct, for the reasons I stated above, and you think it is not, for the reasons you also stated. Both sets of reasons are valid :) So it’s a compromise, and yes, an unfortunate one. Once Link gets to U district we can hopefully improve that compromise and get closer to the best of both worlds, improving the “tail” cases (i.e. the rare ones) while still getting good frequency on the “head” line (i.e. good connections with little waiting).

        One more year…

      12. What I wrote was that almost all agencies strike a balance between ridership and coverage. This makes sense to me, and I support the general idea. But as I wrote before, this doesn’t add coverage, as the term is generally known. This is how Jarrett Walker defines coverage goals:

        1) Ensuring that everyone has access to some transit service, no matter where they live.
        2) Providing lifeline access to critical services for those who cannot drive.
        3) Providing access for people with severe needs.
        4) Providing a sense of political equity, by providing service to every municipality or electoral district.

        The 65 does not do this. There are other transit options in the area (44, 45, 73, etc.). It also doesn’t achieve the coverage goal because it only operates one direction! You can’t “provide access to critical services for those who cannot drive” in only one direction — that’s silly.

        Then there is the fact it is extremely close to the other street. If you look at a typical coverage route, you can see that without that bus line, it would be a really long walk to service. For example, the 24 zig-zags back and forth and eventually ends up at Magnolia Boulevard. Without the 24, riders would have to walk over a mile to catch a bus.

        In contrast, it is not that far to Stevens. It is a two minute walk from Pacific to Stevens ( That means that depending on where you are in the hospital, the bus stop on Stevens may be closer. It is a six minute walk from the UW Station ( versus two minutes to the other ( Even if this was the only service in the area, and even if it did work both ways, it would still fail the coverage test because it is too close to the other bus line.

        It is a bad approach. Consider applying the same technique in other areas. If I’m in Lower Queen Anne and want to go to the other end of downtown, I can stand at Queen Anne and Mercer and catch the 1, 2, 13 or D. None of these are very frequent, but between the set of them, I can expect a bus in less than five minutes. But it means that if I’m a block or two over, I have to walk.

        Using this approach, the buses should run on different streets. Make 1st Avenue North two way, and run the 1 there. The D can run on 1st Avenue West, while the 2 and 13 can be paired up, and continue to operate on Queen Anne Avenue North. That way, riders avoiding walking a block to catch the bus, and buses run every 15 minutes or so on each street.

        Sorry, but that is ridiculous. Let me put it another way: Imagine being told that you can have your bus twice as often (from 15 minute frequency to 7.5) but you will have to walk somewhere between 2 to 4 extra minutes. I guarantee you just about everyone would prefer that. Oh, and as part of that, other riders get double the frequency on the bus they use (without any additional walking). That is the change I am suggesting.

      13. “Which is another way of saying you are supposed to live with crap. You might have to wait 10 to 15 minutes for a bus….
        If you’re going between UW Station and the Ave there’s a bus every 2-5 minutes so that’s no problem…. Exactly! That is the type of situation I’m talking about. You don’t even name the buses, because you don’t care.”

        Now you’re getting into a different issue. That would require a vastly higher number of service hours than Metro has. It can do it in very few areas — Pacific Street, 3rd Avenue, Jackson Street — but it can’t do it everywhere. It did it on Pacific Street to virtually extend Link to 45th until U-District Station can open. That’s the fundamental problem, that U-District Station didn’t open in 2016. So metro is trying to mitigate it by dividing a limited pie. It has made a values decision to prioritize campus riders first, which as several have pointed out are the majority of riders on these east-west routes. I’ve taken them westbound many times and do not see half the bus or three-quarters of the bus getting off at Stevens Way and walking south to Link. I see a few people walking to Link, and seveal times more people getting on/off on campus or riding through to Campus Parkway or beyond. Part of that is because of the long distance from Stevens Way to the station that deters riders, but I can’t believe it deters so many that it explains why only a small fraction of the east-west riders get off at that stop. Westbound the 65 stops at Stevens Way, so there’s not the distortion of people taking the 65 because it goes closer to the station as there is eastbound.

      14. That would require a vastly higher number of service hours than Metro has.

        No it wouldn’t Mike. Implement what I suggested. Send the 67 down the Ave (and around to become the 65, via Stevens Way). Extend the 75 up to 45th (to layover with the 372). That would mean that three buses would run by the intersection of University Way and 45th. Bingo! There is your frequent combination. You do have to check both sides of the street (a minor annoyance) but you can still do it. One Bus Away helps, but isn’t even a requirement. You just stand on the corner, and periodically look both ways (you don’t need to cross the street). This corner is also very close to the Link station (and doesn’t require crossing a street either).

        Meanwhile, The Ave (University Way) would the 45 and 67 north of 45th. South of 45th it would have those two plus the 372 and the 75. Along Stevens Way you would have three buses both directions, with two of them going to Children’s hospital, and all of them going to Lake City and the U-Village.

        Running lots of different buses on the same street is a very good way to increase frequency. That is what makes a spine so popular ( This is a variation on that idea — the 65/75 is basically a split with a reverse split. It works really well in the southbound direction. In Lake City the same bus stop serves the 65 and 75, while another bus stop a short walk away serves the 372. Most riders don’t care which bus they take.

    4. “disconnect the 31/32 with the 75 for better reliability”

      As long as it maintains a through-route between U-Village and Fremont, or ideally Children’s and Fremont. That was new crosstown service when it started, and it quickly became so full it rivals the 44.

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