A 30′ Gillig Phantom seen on route 331 in 2009, photo by the author

On Friday Metro celebrated the retirement of the last diesel bus—part of the fleet dubbed “the 1100s”. Metro’s fleet is now comprised only of diesel-electric hybrids, battery-powered buses, and electric trolleys. To celebrate, a “Gold Tire” retirement ceremony was held to recognize the last bus, which will be preserved by the Metro Employee Historic Vehicle Association (MEHVA) which you might be able to ride some day.

The ceremony comes several months after the last trip operated by an 1100 series bus, which last saw service in late March 2020, when route 200 was suspended. The first of the 1100s entered service in 1999. A more recent addition–the D40LF or “3600s” made by New Flyer, were added to the fleet in 2003 and last saw service in April 2020.

A New Flyer D40LF seen in 2009, photo by the author

The high-floor Gillig Phantom has been a workhorse: it was produced by Gillig from 1980 to 2008 and has seen operation in over 242 transit agencies worldwide. Between 1995 and 2020, Metro had a peak of 504 Phantoms in the fleet; 100 of which were trolleys with custom-built drivetrains by Metro and have been the only electric-driven Phantoms in the world. The Phantom was one of the first vehicles purchased by Metro after the creation of the King County Department of Transportation in 1996 which dissolved the previous regional Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle that had formerly operated the region’s transit service.

In 2002, Metro entered its first foray of diesel-electric hybrids with the New Flyer DE60LF which replaced the Breda buses that operated in the DSTT in years prior.  Widespread operation of these articulated hybrids came in 2004, which coincided with joint ops in the DSTT.

Seattle has seen operation of trolley buses since 1939, just before streetcar operation ceased in 1941. In 2015 a trio of Proterra Catalyst BE40 fast-charge battery operated buses began serving the Eastside. Five additional models of battery-only buses hit the streets in 2018 in both revenue and non-revenue service.

Metro still has a goal of moving to a zero-emission fleet “powered by renewable energy by 2040 or sooner, as technology and capital projects allow”, likely abandoning the possibility of doing it five years sooner.

31 Replies to “Metro celebrates an all-hybrid/electric fleet”

  1. The interesting thing is that with improvements in fuel economy for traditional diesel buses, higher maintenance costs for hybrids than diesels, and the emergence of renewable diesel as a viable fuel, that hybrids are no longer the least cost carbon reduction strategy. Traditional diesels with renewable diesel, battery electric, or trolleys are all less expensive to operate and achieve carbon savings, and in that order, with the 1st being significantly less expensive.

    1. It’s not just carbon emissions, it’s also general pollution that goes into our lungs, which biodiesel does nothing to address.

      The carbon benefits of biodiesel are also highly questionable if the land that grows it contributes to deforestation.

      Ideally, the entire fleet would be fully electric, but I’m not willing to make severe service cuts to pay for it. Maybe someday, it will happen.

    2. “Renewable diesel” should be considered in the same context as other great concepts such as “clean coal” and “compassionate conservatism.” All these concepts sound good on paper and as marketing slogans, but in reality they never actually deliver. Marketing and reality are rarely the same thing.

      Additionally, your statements regarding the economics of hybrids are highly suspect. Any new tech that allows diesel engines to run more efficiently benefits both pure diesels and hybrid diesels similarly since the basic diesel engine is the same, and potentially benefits hybrid diesels more since the Diesel engine on a hybrid spends more time operating near its optimum band.

      And maintenance costs aren’t necessarily any worse with hybrids, and might actually be better in many situations. Certain consumables like brakes last much longer on a hybrid, and the typical reduction in belt driven accessories both increases basic fuel economy and reduces maintenance costs.

      But ultimately our goal should be to base our transportation system and economy on some other power source other than just burning things. Because our future depends on doing better than we are now.

  2. Saying goodbye to those 30 foot buses in the top pic isn’t just saying goodbye to diesels, it’s saying bye to 1 door buses. It’s saying bye to buses with steps. And, I believe, but not positive, but it’s saying bye to the last of the buses that had no AC.

  3. Well, at least it had the engine in the right end of the coach. But one other improvement I think we’re long overdue to make.

    From here on out, let’s start “design-building” our whole transit fleet in either Seattle or someplace else, maybe Everett for instance, within present or other near-future ST-regional boundaries.

    No time like whenever in the future COVIDIA finally gives the the OK to start massively reviving our whole industrial economy, and defibrillating our politics as well.

    Mark Dublin

  4. The timeline for total electricification is too slow.

    Though the saddest thing is that electrification of private vehicles is barely happening at all. 4°C+, here we come!

    1. We already proved with the initial response to the pandemic that end user emissions are around 5% of total emissions, so focusing on reducing that isn’t a terribly effective use of resources.

      Better to look at forcefully shutting down heavy industrial and military sources.

  5. Tim: some passages could be corrected.

    ” Widespread operation of these articulated hybrids came in 2004, which coincided with joint ops in the DSTT”.
    Joint operations began in summer 2009 with the ST initial segment. The DSTT was closed for retrofit between the falls of 2005 and 2007.

    “Seattle has seen operation of trolley buses since 1939, just before streetcar operation ceased in 1941.”
    The streetcars were taken out in 1940-41; that was simultaneous with the installation of the trolley bus network. Seattle Transit installed the system quickly.

    The Gilligs were high floor. The industry was shifting to low floor for rider convenience and shorter dwell times. Metro opted to retain seats. Both seats and speed are goods; tradeoffs are sometimes difficult.

    1. The first one could be reworded: but the buses did start operating around 2004, even though they weren’t in the tunnel yet.

      My sources on the early days of STS were a bit vague, so thanks for that.

      The last one needs a reference; “Metro opted to retain seats” sounds more like an opinion.

      In any case, I do not have permission to edit published posts on the blog.

  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_electric_vehicle#First_practical_electric_cars

    Along with streetcars, airplanes, and everything fossil-powered on wheels, electric cars all count as contemporaries.

    Present situation is not the first time where inventions, costs, and conditions take a long time to finally align and make usable. But some really pertinent experience out of vehicular history:

    The harder your foot’s on the power pedal, the more important it is that your eyes are on your windshield and not your rear-view mirror.

    Mark Dublin

  7. I think that the air pollution and noise complaints about all-diesel buses still lurk in some people’s minds. The Mercer Island uproar is an example.

    I think Metro should more widely present how it’s new fleet is quieter and less polluting. I think lots of regulars and insiders already know it — but citizens skeptical of transit want to hold onto the now-obsolete notion of a “stinkin’ bus” and need to be re-educated.

    1. Mercer Island still has a valid complaint: Metro operates dozens of regular diesel buses on behalf of Sound Transit.

      And while I haven’t been on or near the BYD or New Flyer battery buses, I can say the Proterras aren’t significantly quieter than the diesels or hybrids they’re replacing. The trolleys are just amazing though.

      1. East Link opening is still almost three years away. What fleet is proposed for those few dozen “evil buses” running so close to the loud freeway with hundreds of thousands of high polluting cars on it?

      2. I’ve ridden in the Proterras before and there is a difference. They are nearly silent and no vibrations.

        Pity they’re only used on routes like the 226 and 241 that get extremely low ridership, which may explain why nobody notices them.

      3. When a middle or upper income neighborhood complains about transit, like Mercer Island, they are labeled NIMBYS, or anti-transit, but when a lower income neighborhood make similar complains, they are called community stakeholders.

    2. The dispute between Mercer Island really isn’t about the type of buses. It is about the number of buses, and parking articulated buses on both sides of North Mercer Way 20 hours/day when NMW is the main east/west arterial through the business center, and how that will divert traffic congestion throughout the rest of the town center.

      It is also about safety. Discharging 100+ passengers from an articulated bus all at one time every three minutes during peak times, and then having those passengers trying to cross NMW in a rush to get to the train station on a very busy street when capacity on the last stop westbound could be an issue, with articulated buses in each direction every three minutes and the park and ride entrance next to the crossing, was a danger even according to Metro’s traffic engineer.

      The fact is the intensity of the bus intercept on MI was never a consideration in the Nov. 2017 settlement agreement that prohibits drop offs on the north side of NMW, or in the 2011 EIS or addendum, and so the station design does not anticipate the intercept or drop offs on the north side of NMW, although Metro now acknowledges the station and intercept design are not safe.

      ST filed its 60% completed design permit applications with the city of Mercer Island recently at which point Mercer Island filed suit on Monday since it now has standing.

      The curve ball is whether there will ever be 20 buses/peak hour as anticipated under the optimal bus intercept with WFH. This last week the Puget Sound Business Journal had a very pessimistic article about future commercial lease rates and commuter transit use post Covid-19 due to WFH.

      Plus many of us don’t believe commuters from Snoqualmie, Sammamish, Renton or Issaquah will drive to a park and ride to catch a bus to Mercer Island to catch a train to Seattle (if they are not working from home), but will instead drive to the 1500 stall S. Bellevue Park and Ride since they are already in the car on the way to a park and ride, exactly what Bellevue does not want.

      These commuters who live in cities without a rail station will see an increase in their commute times from the opening of East Link, and some of these cities have clout with ST. Look for the express buses from these regions to Seattle to continue. It isn’t like the eastside subarea is hurting for money.

      Using Mercer Island as the sole bus intercept (Mercer Island has always agreed to serve as an intercept for some off-Island buses, with drop offs and pick ups on the south side of NMW per the settlement agreement) disadvantages many groups: Bellevue because of the traffic at the S. Bellevue Park and Ride from non-Bellevue residents driving to the park and ride to avoid a three seat commute; commuters who will go from a two seat commute (park and ride to express bus to Seattle) to a three stop commute; Mercer Island due to congestion and safety, and police and fire costs.

      The real issue is the decline in commuting post Covid-19. Next is commuters who will object to going from a two seat to a three seat commute (when eastsiders from places like Issaquah hate transit to begin with). Third is the S. Bellevue park and ride which could become a total zoo with commuters wanting a two seat and not a three seat commute. (And based on ST’s pre-Covid 2030 ridership estimates of 50,000 riders/day on East Link there was concern somone on MI going west would have to backtrack to Bellevue to get on the train no unlike the Pioneer Square stop in the transit tunnel going east on the 550.

      I think Mercer Island will win the suit when it comes to drop offs on the north side of NMW, which pretty much limits the intensity of a bus intercept, but if commuter rides are way down after Covid-19 that will probably hurt MI’s negotiations with ST for greater intensity in exchange for things like reserved park and ride space (or using the $4.5 million ST matching funds for commuter parking in the settlement agreement to lease reserved spaces), and converting the current HOV lane across the bridge span to a general purpose or HOT lane after East Link opens due to the limited number of buses using the HOV lane, if any.

      However the animosity on Mercer Island is so great towards ST, and the antipathy towards transit anyway (Islanders would have been happy without a rail station, and the rail station will not benefit their lives at all), that when I try to raise these possible terms for negotiations the citizens are adamantly opposed, and want to fight and win.

      Depending on WFH what they will win is up in the air, although Islanders will benefit greatly from WFH. Just not East Link or a bus intercept.

      1. The dispute between Mercer Island really isn’t about the type of buses. It is about the number of buses, and parking articulated buses on both sides of North Mercer Way 20 hours/day when NMW is the main east/west arterial through the business center, and how that will divert traffic congestion throughout the rest of the town center.

        Right. It is about having lots of room for cars, and not for buses. Let me do a little math here: 20 buses an hour, for 3 hours a day. That works out to 60 buses during peak. The Park and Ride has 447 spots (which, based on your previous posts, should all be filled). So, that means that there will be about eight times the number of cars than buses, and that doesn’t count the “kiss and ride” users.

        Oh, and as far as danger is concerned, aren’t those 447 drivers, all in a hurry to get that parking space *and* get on that train more of a hazard than professional bus drivers, who have experienced far more pedestrian dense areas?

        If folks in Mercer Island are really concerned about safety, or reducing congestion in the “business center”, then the obvious answer is to close the park and ride. Set up a handful of satellite park and ride lots, and run buses there.

        Has anyone even suggested that? Of course not. This is a clear cut case of favoritism. Both for their favorite mode of transportation (the automobile) and for the people who actually live there. Tough luck, Issaquah. Not only is your express to downtown gone, but your bus should slog through traffic to get to South Bellevue Station. For that matter, tough luck to all the Metro riders. We don’t care whether sending the buses elsewhere will cost Metro money, and thus reduce the quality of service *everywhere*. We don’t even care if it is easy for us to get to Eastgate or Issaquah. We only care about that commute via Link. Buses are for chumps.

        It is an extremely selfish attitude taken by a relatively small number of Mercer Island residents, and I find it disgusting.

      2. Exactly, Ross. That’s on top of how one electric bus carries the same number of people as 20-50 sometimes stinky diesel cars and trucks do.

        Of course, the MI folk still forget that Metro isn’t part of the signed agreement. They’re just mad hornets trying to kill off the honey bee workers.

      3. Considering how slow buses are on the surface streets of downtown, I would argue that whatever time Issaquah residents lose in the overhead of the transfer, they make back by moving into, out of and through downtown Seattle much more quickly on the train.

        Plus, truncating buses means that the same operating budget funds more trips, so people have shorter wait times and/or longer spans of service compared to if the bus goes all the way downtown.

        The perceived impact of buses unloading passengers and people crossing the street is grossly overblown. The park and ride is all the way on the other side of the freeway from the business district. How are buses stopping in front of a park and ride, where buses have been stopping for the past 30 years this huge impact? There’s even pullouts so that buses don’t block traffic when they stop.

    3. Opponents of bus service on the CKC routinely complained about “stinky buses”. That was ridiculous, given that electric buses (trolleys) would be the only ones allowed. Either they exhibited the same outdated views of buses that Al mentioned, or they were comfortable lying about it, and preying on those same ignorant assumptions.

      1. Yes Ross, I am sure your “disgust” will resonate among the reader of this blog in Issaquah and Mercer Island, and the mayor of Issaquah who sits on the board of ST will take your admonition to heart. I will tell Mary Ross says “tough luck”.

        The additional savings to Metro from eliminating its buses to Seattle is a whole $1.5 million/year, according to Metro, when the eastside subsidizes Metro for Seattle and you, without even a thank you. And in fact Mercer Island is not objecting to the bus round about to avoid Metro buses going into Seattle. And while you are disgusted, don’t forget Mercer Island pays $7.5 million/year in vehicle tabs above the $30 base and gets back a $36,000 state grant for “intermodal” transportation each year. What a deal.

        ST express buses — if you read my post, or understood any of it — are paid for by the eastside subarea because the Seattle subarea once again does not have the funds to contribute, even though according to other posts wave after wave of Capitol Hill residents take the bus to the eastside for work, or did before Covid-19. The additional cost to Metro from the original plan to send some of the intercept buses to S. Bellevue instead of Mercer Is. is exactly… zero, so you don’t lose any precious eastside subsidies of Seattle Metro. Of course, despite the fortune Mercer Island contributes to Metro in taxes we effectively have no intra-Island Metro transit.

        Emotion and perceived wealth envy and a blind hatred of cars, even if electric, are not good bases for a discussion on transit, and really, really turn off eastsiders. You just did not get anything in my post: East Link and the proposed bus intercept and elimination of express buses makes a large portion of the eastside commute worse, for citizens who don’t like transit and buses to begin with. We didn’t agree to pay $5.5 billion — again without a dime from the N. King Co. subarea — for a worse commute or even crummier transit because ST like a small boy likes very expensive trains.

        The hope is WFH alleviates enough traffic congestion on the eastside that citizens who do want to go into work — and not necessarily during peak times — will be able to drive if they want to (along with the design changes to 405) considering they have to drive to a park and ride anyway, and in time in electric cars with less carbon footprint than buses. Then transit becomes somewhat irrelevant for the most part because transit on the eastside is only about the work commute. Eastsiders prefer to drive. They own cars, and can afford them. They have to. Learn to live with it. There is nothing moral about buses or transit, or the people who take them and realize the huge subsidies from others. They don’t tell you how to live your life, although they subsidize it.

        Then we can go back to demanding a brand new bridge and light rail for West Seattle that Seattle will demand the county or region pay for, which I hope disgusts you. Or increased frequency on Metro in Seattle and subsidized fares, even though Metro is hemorrhaging money, so people don’t have to wait an extra 10 minutes, although who cares if a resident of Issaquah who is a net taxpayer has to spend an extra 30 minutes in each direction in their commute by taking a bus to Mercer Island so ST can try and claim it has reached its fantastical ridership estimates for East Link, pre-Covid.

        How many times have you complained that transit has to provide a service that attracts riders, usually through more subsidies for more frequency or routes. Well, on the eastside the transit experience is unpleasant enough WFH will likely decimate it, but how does increasing commute times benefit transit?

        Believe me, many of us on the eastside would love a tough luck approach to taxes, transit, you name it, because we are paying for the shit show.

      2. If you want to sell commuters from Snoqualmie, Sammamish, Issaquah, Eastgate, Renton, et al on a three seat commute for $5.5 billion because it will be better for them be my guest, when Bellevue and Redmond get two seat commutes including park and ride.

        For Mercer Island there is zero benefit from the optimal service configuration bus intercept so why would we accept it, especially when we hate ST? If ST thought terminating buses on MI was so important it shouldn’t have agreed to no drop offs on the north side of NMW in the settlement agreement it drafted. Right now ST could offer MI $100 million for the optimal service configuration and the citizens would say no. It is the principle. Plus we just don’t see the benefit from transit or TOD. Others apparently do.

        The real resolution is WFH on the eastside, and if commuting to the office driving during non-peak times. Then transit is not needed and there are no conflicts. We can always figure out something else to do with the ST subarea money. If ST really thinks eastside commuters will do a three seat commute to Seattle after WFH because of East Link no wonder ST is struggling.

        All the money is in the eastside subarea. Rogoff will do exactly what Bellevue and Issaquah tell him to do with their money, If their voters state they won’t do a three seat commute, and the eastside subarea has more money than God,there won’t be a three seat commute. In transit or politics the folks with the money make the rules.

    4. In some cases, I think they have. I remember when the 16 went away and the 62 replaced it through Green Lake/Tangletown. The 16 used mostly 40′ coaches with 60′ coaches at peak, and only hit 15 minute headways at peak. The 62 uses mostly 60′ coaches with a few 40′ coaches mixed in, and originally the 60′ coaches were the trumpeting-elephant pure-diesel type. There was a petition shortly after the change happened to get Metro to run all hybrids on the route to reduce the noise, and Metro actually listened and followed through. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable request to make – they weren’t complaining about buses running every 15 minutes, but about loud, stinky buses running every 15 minutes.

  8. Daniel, when the polling industry’s taken a month or two to sleep off the upcoming worst night in its own World history, it would be good to help it Recover by “CrowdSourcing” it some funding.

    To see how large a majority of Mercer Islanders have already joined the rest of ST Service Area in their gratitude for their newfound ability to watch both Mt. Rainier and Mt. Baker go by at sixty across a beautiful lake, instead of view them from a motionless floating linear parking lot.

    Being possessed of job-descriptions where as opposed to “Billing their Time, they get “Fired for Being Late.”

    And considering what the pandemic-plate-tectonic Housing Market has delivered so many of us these last few years, how many will be as regretful about the involuntary change of residence their lending institutions are going to start imposing on THEM.

    My Ballard landlord of many years kept my neighbors and me firmly in his Business Plan. The speculator who bought it from him? His Business Plan threw out both us and our Purchase plan a lot faster than either law or decency allowed.

    Like Pre-Perestroika Russia used to say to its bureaucrats’ victims, “Me Today, You Tomorrow.”

    It’s tempting to think how thankful I could be that whatever the people you’re talking about really think, for six years it’s been no problem of mine at all. Though could really relish seeing the age-demographic breakdown.

    But for me, especially watching the amount of time all this verbiage is costing you, I can devote to seeing to it that when the time comes, whether as visitor or new neighbor, you’ll have finally come to a place where all your travel time will be spent in relaxing in motion rather than obscenitizing in traffic.

    Whether you’re grateful or not, your car certainly will be. Too bad it can’t vote. Tim Eyman, wheel that chair back in here and answer your phone! On this one, Somebody’s got to show some Initiative!

    Mark Dublin

    1. Hi Mark, there is no traffic these days, and maybe in the future. There never really was during non-peak times. Walking to the bus stop in the rain and taking the 550 to work in Seattle — if it was safe — would cost me at least 30 minutes each way. Counting parking and the business deduction I would save maybe $5/day taking the bus. Even if transit were more convenient I can’t justify economically an extra hour each day commuting.

      Your description of the 550 or 554 across Lake Washington is mythical but not accurate. The bus is always full when it reaches MI, sometimes crush load. You stand and brace yourself against the motion of the articulate bus. Since you are standing you can’t see out the windows easily. You can’t drink a cup of coffee. Your description sounds like the final euthanasia scene from Soylent Green.

      Modern cars are quite comfortable. Heated seats, stereo, internet, temperature controlled to your comfort range, dry, door to door, and you can drink coffee.

      I sometimes prefer the train to go to Portland because airports are such hassles, but for a lot of people driving a nice car on an interstate is a kind of meditation. Plus it is very difficult to get a cab from the Portland bus terminal. And I don’t like facing backwards. If traffic was bad, like really bad I-5 peak hour congestion, taking Link from Angle Lake would be a consideration except that rail route has so many stops and is so sloooooow, and I still have to drive to the park and ride and find a stall., and then get to my final destination. Not much view sitting backwards.

      Imagine working from home alleviating enough road congestion that even during peak hours driving a car was pleasant and quick, and all the cars are electric. That is the future I see, before driverless cars.

  9. Daniel, I doubt the two of us are the only ones who can’t stand how mythological what the world used to call “Ordinary Life” has now become.

    My every reader has every right to “nail” me on my every observation. Which medical and schedule-reliability considerations render forcibly imaginary.

    Whatever uneasiness I may have about what those co-conspirators Jay Inslee and my doctor may tell me in their own self-interest, the lady who is my NURSE retains the authority to “Send me to the VET” when it’s the only humane thing left to do. Regardless of his or her military combat record.

    A few weeks back, a frighteningly impulsive attack of curiosity left my dash-board with time-clock and odometer stats that showed me first-hand that the Lakeside 7 between Columbia City and Renton would be Well Worth The Wire.

    If my car-port had had a door, my car would’ve been whining and scratching at it. Meaning that
    tomorrow morning, since neither ST nor KCM info has anything either posted or online about bathrooms, my car might be my only way to ascertain whether Link’s bus/rail confluence on Mercer Island is as espresso-deprived as it looks on Google 3D.

    Honest, before fleeing to Ballard, a lot of the Island’s own kids might volunteer to build it its own desperately-needed cafe. As part of their larger self-imposed task of working out the bus-fuss free of charge.

    For which the great little green bus in this posting’s first picture deserves both recognition and an apology. Today’s lesson isn’t how bad it was, but how much it actually personifies the term “Open Thread.”

    The existence of vehicles that size and caliber give both Mercer and Sound Transit ample joint opportunity to locate their proving-ground to where tryouts of equipment do not leave tracks on a courthouse rug.

    So today’s subject should really be not how bad little 1111 WAS, but, in the right hands, how much good a little green machine that size can do. Sorry little creature. You’ve certainly set a good example.

    Mark Dublin

    1. By the way, my suggestion for your trip to Bellevue is drive to the Mercer Island Park and ride, and take the 550 to S. Bellevue. On the return to MI the QFC and Metropolitan Market are nice grocery stores and you won’t have to carry your groceries, and walk to the new french bakery for coffee. For a smallish, flat town center Mercer Island’s retail is not what it should be, and notice how that is due to mixed use TOD, something the council is looking at. When an entire zone can be TOD, rather than zoning some pure commercial/retail areas, you get all housing and no retail vibrancy, and unaffordable retail space, except the owners of the properties zoned retail complain they will realize much less for their properties. Roger Brooks is the guru on this.

      1. Your comment that, somehow the mere presence of apartments above retail makes nobody want to rent the retail space does not follow. There is no rational reason why a business owner or customers would care what’s above, so long as the store is at ground floor. I’ve been to many shops that have housing above them and seem to be doing just fine.

        Even if there is zero transit, mixed use development still makes sense. It’s about people being able to meet their needs by walking around their own neighborhood, rather having to get in a car and drive several miles for every single trip.

  10. The issues have to do with:

    1. Parking set asides for retail. This is Mercer Island, not Capitol Hill.

    2. The amount of street level frontage devoted to retail. The key is retail density.

    3. The cost per square foot. On MI retail in new buildings is three times per sf the older buildings the TOD replaced.

    4. The HVAC systems. If the building owner is not required to install a commercial grade HVAC system during construction the cost to retrofit one for a restaurant can run $60k to $100k.

    5. Retail vs. commercial. MI’s town center has endless banks and real estate offices because they require little onsite parking.

    You like TOD out of ideology even though TOD might not be the correct term since there really isn’t transit. The units are very expensive, well over $1 million for a one bedroom. So I guess I don’t understand the progressive appeal of TOD on MI. It certainly isn’t affordable housing. These TOD’s REPLACE affordable housing. I have tried to repeat that reality a hundred times. New construction is never affordable.

    For the rest of the residents these tall mixed use developments provide zero benefit, except a large profit for the developer and a long tail of costs for the city from schools, fire, police to infrastructure. If you visit the MI town center you will find nearly all the retail is in the older, one story, more affordable buildings.

    Islanders want a town center like Edmonds, Bainbridge, old Front Street in Issaquah, or Old Bellevue. We don’t want an ugly TOD because they destroy retail vibrancy, and MI is nearly all housing. Is it too much to ask for a few bars and restaurants.

    Redmond is a good example. Use the multi-family zone for housing, and the retail zone for housing that usually is one story.

    I am not sure which area you are referring to where five story mixed use housing creates retail vibrancy, but it isn’t on MI, Issaquah, Beacon Hill, West Seattle, Redmond, Bainbridge, Capitol Hill, Madison Park, UW Village, et al.

    Right now the council is re-examining the town center code and will likely hire an expert like Roger Brooks to code a Town Center that serves the citizens and not property developers.

Comments are closed.