Tuesday Afternoon Bike Ride: Spirit of Kingston

This is an open thread.

94 Replies to “News roundup: Happy Thanksgiving”

  1. Can someone explain to me the transportation secretary article? Why are unions thinking that jobs will be cut with green energy? I honestly don’t understand the issues there. Thanks.

    1. My guess is they are concerned about a big cut in highway spending without much increase in transit spending.

      1. Bingo Ross. Federal road and bridge construction with prevailing wage requirements even in right to work states is the golden goose for construction workers. Transit too, but many (red) areas don’t have much transit, and federal highway construction is the pork that benefits labor from CA to WY.

  2. Las Vegas High-Speed Rail on Hold

    A plan to build a high-speed rail line between Southern California and Las Vegas is on hold after the developer came up short on fundraising. Affordable housing projects in California stand to benefit from the newly available state bond funding.

  3. Good agenda today. I’m less interested in how old the Ballard Bridge is than in new bridge-building (and tunnel-digging) techniques that had not yet been invented when ST was formed.

    When COVID’s O-VER, my plan is to restore my Ballard voting rights by moving to get Thurston County into Sound Transit or whatever its next incarnation will call itself. Which will hopefully give me the “say” in Ballard Link’s design to advocate a world-class artwork of a drawbridge across the Canal to the corner of Market Street and 24th NW. Look up “Santiago Calatrava”.

    Javeed, at this point in time, it’s best we transit people concentrate our work-time on the two Hills in our own State whose name has “Capital” and “Capitol” in front of it. The one that should be in Maryland, its own taxpayers can now use The Second Amendment to get THEMSELVES some voting rights. Judge Scalia said so.

    Based on our country’s Depression History, COVIDRECOVERY could very well produce a massive National array of public works that, if WE play our cards right, could cure a lot of homelessness by paying people a living wage to work on transit. Jay Inslee says it’s okay to Work From Home on plans and strategy.

    And the spirit of Dwight D. Eisenhower might lean out of his open-cockpit chain-drive Army truck in the sky, and give his blessing to the conversion of his defense highway system from transcontinental parking lots to rail. Cruel but accurate: on a Defense highway, traffic jams are treason.

    But best of all is Rachel Smith. Talk about a Hire with some Impact! (Sorry, “INDEED!”) I’ve missed you, Rachel. When COVID’s coast is clear, if Sounder can’t make Tacoma on time ’cause its leader’s got to turn back Link, ST-574, and IT 612 will still get me home from the ST Board Meeting before dawn.

    OK, let’s COMMENT!

    Mark Dublin

    1. Thanks Mark. As a federal employee and an AFGE member, I feel like I should understand something about this fight, and I can usually get the lay of the land, but not here.

  4. There has been a lot of talk about mixing together the light rail and automobile bridges in West Seattle. This is reasonable, but it is unlikely to make either one any better. At best you save some money.

    In contrast, combining similar projects in Ballard could change things dramatically. For example, both the train and the cars could go under the canal. There would be issues for the cars, not the least of which is where they come out. Like the SR 99 tunnel, you would probably have fewer exits and entrances. But it doesn’t seem too crazy to have the car tunnel transition steeply onto Market, while the train tunnel is underneath. This would transform 15th south of Market, making it much quieter. It would also change the nature of northwest Queen Anne. The cars would run in a ditch soon after Dravus, and be underground by the time they hit Emerson. There would be no need for the Nickerson Street overpass, although you would keep the small Emerson Street bridge, and the road that goes underneath it. This would allow people to continue to go from Nickerson to 15th south, which would also be the way they would get from Nickerson to Ballard: https://goo.gl/maps/WYYHdxy8iMfwwr8Q6.

    A less radical option would be to put the cars on 14th, and the train on 15th (all above ground). This idea has been mentioned several times here, in the comments (I’m not sure who came up with it). Again, this transforms the region. 15th in Ballard (south of Market) is much quieter, while the Nickerson Street Overpass* either moves, or is eliminated. It means that the station is at least on 15th (the better of the elevated options).

    That would get a little tricky for traffic, but I think it would be manageable. It would make for a much less disruptive change for the neighborhood. First you build the new automobile bridge. Then take out the old bridge and build the new light rail in its place. At no point are you without a bridge to Ballard.

    * I’m not sure if the overpass is officially called the Nickerson Street Overpass, but that is the name of the street going over 15th there.

    1. Good luck at creating an integrated solution! ST historically plans incrementally. It’s so incremental that we had to have Connect 2020 because ST didn’t think to add branch tracks and a train turnaround before U-Link opened but after ST3 passed (eight years). Or the flat refusal to design for a possible Graham Station on MLK when they rebuilt the street. Or the lack of branch tracks near Westlake or U-District to enable branching. And these are all controllable as ST- only investments. Then there are other incremental gems like the Mt Baker bus interface problem.

      I think a 14th Ave new street bridge and making 15th Ave the light rail transit crossing corridor makes plenty of big picture systems sense. My big design worry would be how the vertical grades interface with street connections. Any crossing with a significantly different vertical profile will make the connections at Leary Way challenging for cars and that would likely push turning traffic over to Market Street making it hard to design for both more traffic and more pedestrians and buses trying to get to the Link station there. Bicyclists would complain about steeper grades. Adjacent property interests would all fight anything that negatively affects them. The number of community meetings and modal advocate meetings to address many disparate concerns would all combine to create a decision morass that would stay mired in indecision for years.

      1. If History’s any guide, Al S., the one thing epidemics change is History. Too bad part of the price is high employee turnover.

        Whatever’s on the agency stationery when things once again engage, a lot of its personnel will have this in common: The redesign of their own digital education that they’ll continue over turkey-scraps tomorrow.

        Best we offer them whatever help our experience makes us privy to, and also our votes starting this time 2022. Next time you’re in Walgreen’s, Mark, get that orange paint-can so you can start spreading the word that Age 18 votes both for the ST Board and the State Legislature.

        From what I’m seeing of them, their anthem should not only be Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run!, but also their own called “Born To Integrate.” And any officeholder in the way, immobility’s a certain sign of shock. After you help them off the tracks, keep them warm and they should snap out of it.

        And for a patron saint: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Hill

        Name Ballard’s Link station after him, and mount his crowning wisdom in bronze at the door of the Ruth Fisher Boardroom:

        “Workers of the world arise, you really, really do have nothing to lose but your chairs.”

        But since Tim Eyman’s already got one, make him pay for any subsequent.

        Mark Dublin

      2. I would imagine it would be the same basic design as the existing bridge, just moved over to 14th. That means it would be over Leary (just barely), wall off 49th (https://goo.gl/maps/GRn7B92ipa15jqdu5) and reach street level at 50th. Interestingly enough, the wall on 49th would be less of a big deal, as 49th doesn’t go through east of 14th (https://goo.gl/maps/FJWYPJvTVBzi7F2o6).

        Which isn’t to say it would have all the same ramps. Maybe, maybe not. Maybe it has an entrance ramp, but not an exit ramp. That means northbound drivers go all the way to Market, while those headed south can continue to use Leary. In terms of traffic around 15th and Market, I don’t think it makes much difference. With or without a station, it will be one of the busiest intersections in the city. Right now it is a 6 lane by 7 lane intersection. Moving the car bridge would reduce the number of lanes south of Market, but it would still be very busy. The station is largely irrelevant.

        The point being, the only way that you can reduce the time a bus spends getting through the intersection is to take a lane. It actually becomes easier than today. Eastbound is easy — just add a BAT lane in the right lane, since relatively few people would be turning right. Westbound is a bit trickier. The two far right lanes turn north (to 15th). The third to the right lane is bus-only, and continues straight. There would be enough time for the bus to get from the bus stop at 11th to the bus-lane.

        Of course that all assumes we have as many cars around Ballard as today, and don’t have the balls to have congestion pricing, or something similar. Planning for huge numbers of cars is planning for failure. It won’t work.

        As far bikes go, the main thing they want is a safe way to cross. A new bridge would of course have that.

      3. I’ve been one of the folks who advocated for reversing the bridges, but I would not suggest using Market the the transition for traffic between 15th and 14th as it sounds like Ross is assuming would happen.

        Transition should happen at 56th southbound and 57th northbound which would become a one-way couplet, allowing for relatively unimpeded movements by the majority of vehicles traveling between origins or destinations north and south of Market. Only buses would be allowed to go north on 15th between Market and 57th, allowing the necessary light at 56th to favor southbound transitioning traffic strongly. The turn to northbound 15th NW would have to have a light for pedestrians and northbound buses to enter, but again would favor the “through” transition traffic.

        Corresponding lights at 56th and 57th on 14th would favor northbound traffic transitioning to westbound 57th and southbound transitioning on 56th, but would need to allow traffic southbound on 14th some access to the arterial to the south and pedestrians on the Ballard Market side of the street to cross.

        Since the Ballard Market occupies the entire block between 14th and 15th and between 56th and 57th, it is the optimum block to encircle by this transition zone. Cars destined there or originating there could turn into the dominant traffic without crossing out-of-direction traffic except cars destined for 14th northbound. They would have to cross the relatively small flow of traffic southbound on 14th in that block.

        This would likely mean that a lot of traffic headed north from Central Ballard to 15th NW would divert to 60th which has a light. I admit that is certainly a drawback.

        So far as the Leary Way issue, the existing 15th NW Ballard Bridge would also be replaced after the new car bridge is completed, let’s assume that the channel would remain where it is, but that the new transit bridge would be that higher “mid-level” span that Ross likes. When the trackway crosses Leary Way it would be higher than the current roadway. That would mean that cyclists could not access the bridge at Leary, but perhaps they could do so at 49th with a bit steeper gradient than the trackway.

        Please take a look at the directly overhead aerial view of the exiting bridge. The bumpers extending out from either side of the bridge clearly show that the channel crosses the roadway at about a 70 degree angle, with a heading not of 90°-270° but more like 110°-290°. Extrapolate that a block east to 14th Avenue and you find that the north edge of the channel roughly due east of its middle at 15th. Now that’s not a lot greater distance from Leary, but it helps.

        Further, the profile of the existing bridge does not really maximize the possible gain from Leary. The ramps to and from from Leary rise fairly steeply, but main lanes themselves ascend very mildly from NW 50th, flatten over Leary then resume descend a bit to Ballard Way then resume that same mild ascension to the inflection point right at the north shore. From there it rises at what must be less than a degree to the opening span at the channel. But, the “Leary ramps” are actually “Ballard Way ramps”. They have descended enough by that street to allow northbound cars to turn right onto Ballard Way and northbound cars from Ballard Way to turn onto the southbound on-ramp.

        So, take the significantly shorter distance between the north edge of the channel, provision of ramps to Ballard Way and very slight gradient between the north shore and the opening span on the existing bridge and compare it to that from ramps at Leary only and the center of the channel moved south by half its width and an allowance for a greater gradient all the way to the opening span. When one does so, it’s clearly possible to KEEP ramps to Leary and still add the very desirable twenty feet of clearance to minimize openings in the car bridge.

        A replacement train bridge in the 15th Avenue corridor could match the elevation of the new 14th Avenue car bridge so they’d present only a very slight impediment to navigation at any time by beginning at 52nd or so. It would host the primary bike-pedestrian facility on the west side of the structure. It could provide a “side-ramp” down to 49th to the west of the new structure. That would allow riders from Central Ballard to access the bridge with less of a “double-back” than riding to 14th would entail.

        It would be important to include a bike/pedestrian facility in the new bridge — probably on the east side — that would follow the Leary northbound off-ramp profile down to street level. This serves riders from east of 14th and directly connects with the seemingly now-permanent diversion of the Burke Gilman. But more importantly, it provides a cycle-pedestrian facility during the period that the existing bridge is taken down and replaced.

      4. Corrections:

        1) In the second paragraph, the sentence beginning “The turn to northbound 15th NW” should say “The turn to northbound 15th NW at NW 57th“.

        2) In the eighth paragraph discussion of the “Ballard Way ramps”, the sentence reading “They have descended enough by that street to allow northbound cars to turn right onto Ballard Way and northbound cars from Ballard Way to turn onto the southbound on-ramp.” should read “They have descended enough by that street to allow northbound cars to turn right onto Ballard Way and westbound cars from Ballard Way to turn onto the southbound on-ramp.”

        3) In the next paragraph remove the “significantly“. It’s not; it’s only about one hundred feet. The sentence was restructured and I forgot to remove the adjective. It used to refer to the summation of the three elements, but it was way too long and cumbersome.

        4) And in the last paragraph where it says “It would be important to include a bike/pedestrian facility in the new bridge” it should be “It would be important to include a bike/pedestrian facility in the new car bridge”. There would be two new bridges.

        Thank you.

      5. I would be concerned about sending traffic too far up 14th because people who live along there would complain. However, the 56th/57th couplet idea would likely encounter only a little bit of opposition. In general I like it, as it would reduce the mess around 15th and Market.

        I agree with your other points. A new car bridge would give us a chance to improve parts of the bridge — especially bike access. Likewise, it would enable the roadway to change with the neighborhood. The bridge and everything around it has always been an obstacle for pedestrian travel in Ballard. In the past this didn’t matter much, as it was most industrial land. But now there are a lot of apartments on the west side of 15th, and some destinations on the east side. 14th becomes the new obstacle, but at least this increases the urban space for the core of Ballard; redoing the bridge and the streets would give us flexibility.

      6. Ross, your point about the residents is certainly germane and a good one. Let’s say that even going as far as 57th were too much for the community. It’s possible to move the north-to-west-to-north diversion to 56th and the south-to-east-to-south “couplet” to 53rd. Given ST’s seeming desire to put the station next to Safeway — which will CERTAINLY be replaced though doubtless included in what comes next — having a two-lane left turn at 54th seems out of the question.

        This would put more traffic near the station which is certainly a drawback, but the design does have a cross-street connection via the mezzanine, so perhaps ST could be convinced to extend it across Market, at least via a 10 foot wide bridge.

        The point is to remove the two-lane turns from Market however it can be done most efficiently and equitably.

      7. I think your original idea is probably ideal. There are very few people living along 14th up to 57th. It is mostly businesses (some of which operate out of houses).

        But this is a great example of why they should talk about it now. A lot of that property is likely to sell, and it could be converted to condos or town houses. Some of those new home owners might make a stink if they street is changed. That being said, it wouldn’t be a huge change — just a couple blocks. It would be different if the plan was to move all the traffic up 14th to 65th. They have done a fair amount of work to make 14th nicer for pedestrians. To turn around and send all the cars there would likely get a lot of community opposition.

      8. “Given ST’s seeming desire to put the station next to Safeway — which will CERTAINLY be replaced though doubtless included in what comes next”

        Hopefully yes. It’s a one-story freestanding building with a huge parking lot in front, and only a token trellis-like thing at the intersection. I hope the owners of the lot are just waiting to cash in and not trying to be auto-oriented suburbanesque holdovers.

  5. One good thing about light-rail, which in my definition can take curves with streetcar radii when necessary, which skilled route-designers also can make seldom:

    A lane, bridge, or tunnel of its own does not have to take up a lot of room. So tunnel-wise, I really would like to start seeing some engineering drawings that show the ground cut open. And also its TBM-friendliness. A very few frames could decide a lot.

    Sentimental maybe, but I think that the more Ballard itself designs it, the better for the Region that the end result will be. And one source of creative energy I really would like to harness. Ballard used to manufacture things, and should again. Whose employees can both make the trains and drive them.

    Including those jet-boats that’ll complement Eastlink in connecting Ballard with Mercer Island via the Ship Canal and the Lake.

    Via North Mercer Way to the handsome Link/550 stop, a sister-streetcar setup with the Issaquah carline can restore Roanoke Landing to its honored past. History website says its ferry boat was the biggest in the fleet.

    Mark Dublin

  6. The ST 2021 are disappointing. Pre-Covid Link ran every six minutes; that was the earlier plan for Northgate. It would be great to provide headway of 6/7/10/7/7 on peaks, midday, evening, Sat, and Sun. ST cannot know the pace of the virus. If less capacity is required they could reduce train length. Reduce waiting; provide liberty and mobility; and help the riders and partner agencies.

    1. Eddiew, really starting to regret the loss of my bus ride to Link for direct observation. But from your own very long experience, tell me. Without a stop-watch, can anybody tell the difference between an 8 minute headway and a six minute one?

      Also, I’m sticking with my belief that at Columbia City, Othello Street, and Rainier Beach Link stations, if we adjust passenger access with some civil engineering, we could surely buy back those two minutes.

      Could be just Mr. Spock’s Vulcan accent, or maybe Commander Picard’s French one, but maybe “Make It So!” is coming out as “Make It SLOW.”

      Mark Dublin

    2. “can anybody tell the difference between an 8 minute headway and a six minute one?”

      People perceive the wait as “less than 5 minutes’ or “close to 10 minutes”. Everyone knows a train right when you step onto the platform is unreasonable (it’s not a personal car) so they expect to always wait 2 or maybe 5 minutes. When it gets closer to 10, that’s still good but not excellent. Small cities can sustain 15-minute service, medium-sized cities can sustain 10-minute. Seattle is a medium-sized city so it should have at least 10-minute service, and should make 5-minutes a longer-term goal. That’s the promise of Central+East Link, that if each line is 10 minutes the combined headway will be 5 minutes between Lynnwood and Intl Dist. That’s the way to have a robust transit network, one that people want to use and gets maximum mode share. Cities with less than 50% car ownership have that kind of central circulator(s). Seattle is not doing enough to reach 50% but it should be a long-term goal. The combined segment is long enough that it provides meaningful access to high-volume non-downtown areas (the U-District, Capitol Hill, and theoretically Northgate and Roosevelt). In contrast to Eastside MAX, which provides combined 5-minute service a short distance through downtown and the Lloyd District, then a long a freeway segment with only a mediore walkshed and housing within walking distance. So it doesn’t serve as large percent of the city and people’s trips. Of course, the total MAX network has several corridors, and combined service on the west side to Beaverton, but each line is 15 minutes so the segments with only one line have only 15-minute service.

      I’m more concerned about all-day service than peak hours because peak-hour service takes care of itself: agencies give it more attention and try to have enough frequency to avoid overcrowding. But Link’s 8 minute peaks are OK for a medium-sized city, and 6-minute peaks are better. Because only in the 17% worst-case scenario do you wait more than 5 minutes.However, ST never promised 6-minute peaks permanently until East Link, it was just a temporary expediency for a bottleneck period. So I’m not going to get mad at ST for reverting to 8, as long as it’s temporary until East Link. Because there will be decades after that where the two lines will be 5 minutes or maybe even 3 minutes, and if further expansion occurs, 1.5 minutes. Or half that where there’s one line.

      ST should prioritize frequency more as a matter of principle, and never go below 10 mnutes before 10pm, and try to reach 6 minute peaks and eventually all day as soon as it can. But that’s not ST’s stated priorities. ST is an agency based on satisfying the largest cities, and the largest cities also don’t understand how ultra-important frequency is and how it can make the transit network perform the best. The fault is the structure and how ST defines its stakeholders. So I’m not going to harp on ST incessantly about having the wrong structure, I’m just trying to hold it to what it has promised and go a bit further. That’s a big enough job in itself.

    3. There’s also the cumulative wait of every seat in a multi-set ride, and repeated waiting day after day or several times a day. All those add up.

    4. can anybody tell the difference between an 8 minute headway and a six minute one?

      So far as I know, it always matters. There are lots and lots of studies that show that ridership and frequency are tied. I don’t know of any study that concluded “except that small differences don’t matter”.

      It is hard to say why, but my guess is it has more to do with missed trips. The less frequent the vehicle, the more likely you are to see it pulling away as you arrive. Making matters worse, the longer wait then becomes more annoying.

      It is a bit like the “1/4 mile rule” (https://humantransit.org/2010/11/san-francisco-a-rational-stop-spacing-plan.html). The general rule of thumb is that people won’t walk further than a 1/4 mile (400 meters) for a bus. But of course, some people will, while others won’t walk half that far. Furthermore, you can ask the same sort of question — if people are willing to walk 400 meters, than surely they are willing to walk 450? Can anybody really tell the difference?

      Maybe not, but the point is, you are going to get fewer riders if they have to walk further (especially over 400 meters). Likewise, you are going to get fewer riders if the trains run less frequently.

      1. Mike Orr and RossB, I’m definitely not arguing for longer or sloppier headways. But I do think that constant, regular on-the-spot observation gives a lot better result than a focus on Agency Policy.

        Like I’ve scene San Francisco trolleybus supervisors do in stressed conditions, supervisors on-scene can adjust arrivals and departures on the spot. It’s a dynamic thing, not a static one.

        And I’m also getting very tired of treating any Agency’s approach as either “Fait Accompli” or a curse. ST, KLM, or whatever they become, if we don’t make it “Ours to Change”, we can get out of our kids’ way to make it “Theirs.” To change or to replace, up to them.

        Mark Dublin

  7. Thanks for the opening for some more American history, Daniel.


    There’s no question that a lot of our working people eat many more pork-chops than is good for them. So maybe slave rations like the “Peck of Corn” and the “Pint of Salt” mentioned in some versions really were health measures denied to them by those union bosses.

    But we’ve got to face it, Daniel, whether we like the color of its lipstick or not. Unless we’ve got ancestry that’d leave us with so much wealth and Title of Nobility our kinsmen would shun us for blogging at all, every passing glimmer of a decent life, we owe to somebody who lost their life fighting for our forebears’ right to unionize.

    By the fact you’re participating here at all, you’re showing me that you’ve got ‘way too much going for you to be the real author of this. Major thrust of my massive recovery project is to save people like us from having to blog without union protection in the puny pay of rich transit-haters.

    Since today’s a holiday, have to wait ’til tomorrow to find out if the City of Mercer Island is going to tear that little round building down, or possibly maintain public ownership over an espresso cafe that Italians themselves will fly Alitalia to Sea-Tac just for the Link connection at IDS.

    Long-shot, but if my plans work out, first shot’s on me. Pastry’s your choice too.

    Mark Dublin

  8. “The less frequent the vehicle, the more likely you are to see it pulling away as you arrive.”

    I think a better way to put it…the more frequent the vehicle, the more likely you are to see it pulling away as you arrive, but the less you care when it does happen because the next one is coming soon.

    Ideally, lines would be so frequent that missing a train would be like missing a traffic light. Common, but not that big of a deal.

    1. Yeah, I put it poorly. I really don’t know *why* people hate waiting so much. But they do hate it more than they hate going slow. We could spend billions digging a trench in Rainier Valley and speed up the trains by a couple minutes (if that). Ridership would barely go up. In contrast, increase frequency from 8 to 6 and ridership goes up significantly.

      I’m just theorizing at to why. Maybe it is that with a more frequent train, they have more short waits. My guess is that they avoid more long waits. For example, lets say you have a rider that gets very grumpy if he waits 5 minutes. With 6 minute frequency, this is rare. With 8 minute frequency, it is fairly common.

      Making matters worse, we are transitioning to a transfer-based transit model. There is bound to be pushback, as folks lose their one seat ride to downtown. If Link runs the trains infrequently, there will be more resistance, and it will be more difficult to make the changes that will lead to a better transit system.

      One of the stated goals of running buses like the 586 (Tacoma to UW) is to encourage transit ridership before Link gets there. These are big money losers (as were buses to Green Lake Park and Ride) but they were designed to establish new (transit riding) behavior.

      But if Link is infrequent, it will do the opposite. If you are a Snohomish County rider, you will probably try out the express to Northgate and then take the train into downtown. But if you have a significant wait, you won’t do it again, and you may fight to keep your express bus.

  9. Word to the World of Pharma, from Remdesivir to Dexamethasone and all the rest: Above all, Transit needs a powerful De-Pessimide.

    When did ever catching your bus or train again join the list of things Sound Transit will never be able to do ’til the sun burns out? Think it was mid-July, but memory’s not as good as in The Old Days.

    But also, the cure isn’t even pharmaceutical, but civil engineering. In addition to intensified training for operations personnel, schedule-enhancement pills include reserved lanes, signal priority, and some foot-bridges and undercuts to MLK stations.

    And Evil though she be, COVIDIA herself is helping out. Seeing to it that people, especially high school age, who stay home at their computers and think masks aren’t a hoax, will Naturally-Select themselves into seats on Transit’s every elected board of governance.

    Rachel Smith, relax, have another cup of coffee and take care of yourself. You’ve already got a brand new generation of allies and cohorts “ZOOM-ing” like fighter-jets as we speak.

    Though like they say in the New York City borough named after that street by the 45th and University Link station…”You gotta be patient!”

    Mark Dublin

  10. Mark, RossB and Mike have provided reasonable responses. It all gets to minutes. Speaking of a stop watch, ST provides clocks in the Link stations estimating the minutes before the next train to help intending riders with the uncertainty of waiting. But among minutes, those spent waiting are disliked by intending riders about twice as much as those spent walking or riding the transit vehicle. So, network design best emphasizes short waits if the agencies want to maximize the ridership attracted. Minutes are the lowest common denominator of the transit design margins. We met in the early 90s when you wrote a paper on the importance of right of way to transit flow; ROW is about minutes; the more exclusive the ROW, the fewer minutes and the more reliable the trip will be. The transit industry throws the term seamless around; but transit cannot be seamless; the best it can do is minimize seams subject to the constraints of budget and ROW. Seams can be of time, distance, and information. The first two can be translated to minutes. As Mike wrote, ST is planning long headway and long waits at off-peak times. A 10-minute headway implies an average wait of five minutes; an eight minute headway implies an average wait of four minutes. All the minutes add up. But waiting minutes count double. The STB has posted about the Mercer Island station; the ST design will impose long walks on Eastgate and Issaquah riders in 2023. The average walk speed of three mph translates to 264 feet per minute. The minutes will add up and make transit less attractive. In 2023, will ST provide both long walks and long waits at MI? Have we been waiting since 2008 for a dud? ST could avoid that by running trains often. Nearby Translink provides a good example; they have short headways and waits and short walks for transfers.

  11. If ST really thinks long walks are good exercise, and long waits an exercise in patience, we voters, passengers, and tax-payers need to make it clear the Agency has got another THINK coming.

    Though ’til our country’s post offices are cleared to rejoin The First World, maybe the think it’s been awaiting is misplaced behind a door in the P.O. in Poughkeepsie. Or did Think International ™(ltd) get taken over by a California arsonist of a hedge-fund?

    Eddiew, the two of us both finally have enough accumulated time in grade to see our duty: if ST doesn’t straighten out, we need to make it take a Walk to someplace it can Wait without either blocking somebody’s view of arrivals, or in somebody’s way by getting run over by a bus.

    And if it gets itself hit by Sounder, there goes a whole day’s schedule from Puyallup north. As opposed to a leg injury, Lame’s not “Born” but Learned. Run for office again so you can TEACH a certain Agency a thing or two.

    Mark Dublin

  12. If people want long walks they can walk around the station a couple times. No need to force long walks on everybody.

    Mark, how do you like getting from Link at SeaTac to the 574 southbound, where you cross the street on the bridge and then cross it again on the surface with a stoplight.

    1. ST and the POS combined for that awkward solution. A connection between the Link station and the southbound bus stop on International Boulevard South was not squeezed into the limited ROW; the POS wanted to maintain is lanes; ST had limited budget. The southbound stop is also served by the A Line and Route 156. Riders intending to connect between a southbound bus and Link may walk across the wide arterial twice, one above grade and once at grade.

      Speaking of Route 574:
      What would you think of Route 574 terminating at Angle Lake?
      If the service connection between Tacoma and SeaTac is worth ST3 Link, why is not worth a frequent bus line today?
      Why does Route 574 serve the string of park-and-rides between Federal Way TC and the airport? That is a lot of weaving off and on I-5.

      1. The level of bus vs train service is not based on logic. East Link will be 10-15 minutes full time but the 550 drops to 30 minutes Sundays and after 7pm. It’s just ST’s arbitrary decision, which is a common one among North American transit agencies.

        The 574 plays a peculiar role in the network. It’s the successor to the pre-Link 194 south of SeaTac. (The 194 was an all-day express between downtown, the airport, and Federal Way.) it inherited the P&Rs from the 194, because the 577/578 and 59x don’t serve them. The 574 is also new express service from Federal Way to Lakewood. It also has odd hours to support the airport’s early-morning shifts: it runs from like 3am to 10:30pm. So some hours that could have gone into frequency are going into those early-morning shifts.

        It doesn’t make sense to terminate at Angle Lake because SeaTac is a major destination, so you’d be gratuitously be stopping a mile short of it just out of spite. That would create an unnecessary last-mile problem, right when people are carrying luggage. it would be like downtown routes that terminated a mile short of downtown.

        ST has mused about the possibility of extending the 574 to Westwood Village to replace part of the 560 that Stride South won’t serve. So that would be one reason to continue the SeaTac service, so you’re not withdrawing it and then re-adding it four years later.

      2. The 560 gets very few riders, almost all of whom are headed to Bellevue. Less than 150 people a day takes trips that start and end along the West Seattle/White Center/Burien/SeaTac portion of that route. The H Line and 161 will cover those riders just fine. There are about 150 riders from SeaTac to Renton/Bellevue — still not enough to justify its own bus line. Riders will take a two seat ride to get to Bellevue/Renton (using the A or Link along with the STride).

        The 574 does have more riders. Eddie is right on both points. It is crazy that it runs so infrequently, while many argue that the key element to Tacoma Link is that connection to the airport. It could also go on a stop diet. Almost all the ridership is for the following stops: Lakewood, SR 512 Park and Ride, Tacoma Dome, Federal Way TC and the two stops in SeaTac. Serving only those stops would dramatically speed it up. They should get rid of the detours and run it every 15 minutes.

        Of course once Link gets to Federal Way, the bus should only run very early in the morning (when Link doesn’t run). This is when most of the ridership occurs (the bus with the most riders — by far — is the Northbound 2:13; the second most popular is the next one, 15 minutes later). At that hour there is very little traffic, so it also competes well with Link.

        The rest of the time, buses like it should be truncated in Federal Way.

    2. I don’t like it at all, Mike, and I was chiding ST for its habit of doing exactly that kind of thing by sheer conditioned reflex.

      And also, especially at Sea-Tac, for not spending however much it’d take to fix it. It’s a staircase, ramp, elevator, or escalator we’re discussing here, not a floating bridge. Added to a structure that’s been there since ST’s own CREATION!

      Though if you time it right, which means having knowledge schedule-reading knowledge nowhere available except by doing it yourself for twenty years, all you have to do is cross the bridge from the station, and at its other end travel vertically to the bus.

      Performance record of that particular elevator really demands replacing it with at least a temporary construction elevator, 100% manually operated by an employee. Now that ADA will soon become Enforceable, cost of first penalty would pay for the whole thing.

      Alternative is, at a dead run or else aboard a passing battery baggage cart, heading across the bridge into the terminal, and then all the way down the ticket concourse to the south end of the building.

      Elevator somewhat more reliable to the south-end door, beyond which the south bound 574 pulls in on its way south. It should be required by law that until somebody has made this connection under pressure at least six times, they’re not eligible to be on the Sound Transit Board.

      And like any real-world policy half worthy of the name, actual people, employees, volunteers or both, need to be frequently on-site to monitor and report compliance.

      Really “swings” like a Youth Wing thing. Every political party in Europe has one. Nothing in the State Constitution says ST can’t found its own. Might also grant course credit in every community college with an conveyance repair program.

      Like with everything vertical that doesn’t work, there’s long-existing structure and mechanism to fix it. If anybody, human or agency can’t “Just Do It”, retire and call somebody that “Just Can.”

      Mark Dublin

      1. Are you saying there’s a little-known elevator that goes directly to the southbound bus stop? If you told me where it was, would you have to kill me? I gather there’s something at the south end of the train I’ve overlooked.

  13. Why are you quoting those hyper-partisan Republican flacks at Clark County Today? Do you not know that the paper is owned by David Madore?

    Yes, there are plenty of problems with a replacement I-5 Bridge, but these guys don’t want to “No Build”, they want to build a minimum of two new auto bridges across the Columbia River between Clark County and Oregon. And they want to make Oregon pay for the new connecting roads and widening projects to accommodate the rush of traffic they’d bring.

    1. Considering WA and OR are around $2 billion short for the bridge I am not sure there is much to worry about. OR has ponied up a whopping $15 million, about the price of a nice home in Medina. There seems to be more concern about the amounts that might have to be repaid to the Federal Government.

      At the same time what is the purpose of running light rail from Clark Co. to Oregon? The cost is prohibitive. The entire population of Clark Co. is 481,857. The original $3.5 billion proposed bridge was a study in pork, including light rail, and reminds of the crazy Cascadia Report. Can’t residents on both sides of the bridge take an express bus? Are people really going to drive to Clark Co. and then board a light rail train to OR when Portland has one of the worst rail stations in the U.S.? Like the article notes, this is a light rail project in search of a bridge. How about we run light rail to Ballard first.

      The primary purpose of this bridge is freight, and then cars because flying is such a cluster these days. Both states recently passed large gas/transportation taxes and are unlikely to pass more taxes for this bridge. Granted Clark Co. no doubt bristles over the amounts paid for 520 (which is tolled) and the very expensive Alaska Way Viaduct, but welcome to politics. This is a perfect example of why transportation projects between states (or cities like the second transit tunnel through Seattle) rarely work out.

      1. DID I say I wanted to “run light rail from Clark Co. to Oregon”? I don’t believe I did, but you figured that since I’m an outspoken Democrat I must be for it. I’m actually for “Express Bus” to more destinations in Oregon — not “BRT” which nobody in Clark County except for a few folks at C-Tran understands — and a comprehensive road improvement plan on the Oregon side including the “Northern Connector” that Washington County wants plus the Rose Quarter project. All of it should be paid for by user fees over thirty years minus whatever the two states can cadge from the Feds. The express buses would be a big winner on the Northern Connector.

        If in the future downtown Vancouver becomes a genuine regional hub, MAX can cross the river on its own opening bridge.

      2. Daniel, might the fact that part of another State might also be part of Metropolitan Portland have anything to do with this problem?

        Really glad neither State’s highway patrol has never been alert enough to nail me every time I blow the toll-booth on either Interstate. These sunglasses, really bad.

        Matt Shea is also really tempting Divine Wrath for slack, being so acquiescent about the I-90 one between Liberty Lake and Post Falls! But this is not about either Sin or Socialism.

        While the D.O.T. has long since taken over “them Scales” that Singin’ Trucker Dave Dudley immortalized violating all night, the Inter-STATE Commerce Commission’s existence makes it plain that at heart, trade feels best left borderless.

        I-5 or I-205…..those toll-booths really aren’t there, are they? Anymore than the one on I-90 between Leschi and Mercer Island. Since both divisions exist completely in our minds, same holds for what we the voters make of them.

        Good thing, because judging by that espresso day before yesterday…that D’Arte outlet in the Island Corporate Center is neck and neck with Olympia Roasters.

        You’ve got State Legislators. Your right and duty to give them Hell. Me and mine? I’m going to miss Beth Doglio, but Marilyn Strickland will not only do a fine job in office, but also be very helpful with the Tacoma Streetcar.

        Mark Dublin

      3. Residents on either side of the bridge can take express buses. Such buses exist. However, without HOV lanes they are stuck in traffic, and there are only about 3 miles of HOV lanes (and even those have been protested severely). To get the express buses moving the way they need to, you’d have to add extra lanes.

        But now you’re talking about a project that would be more expensive than light rail, because light rail already exists on the south side.

        Vancouver(city of, no rest of Clark County) is Portland’s most densely populated as well as populated suburb. The downtown has a bunch of parking garages, but is nothing as transit hostile as Beaverton or Tualatin or even Tigard.

        Add light rail and it would not be surprising to see even more density added.

        It will never happen if the rest of Clark County has a say. It really needs to be a Vancouver only project with the rest of the county contributing by parking fees or something.

      4. But now you’re talking about a project that would be more expensive than light rail, because light rail already exists on the south side.

        Really? I don’t see why. Imagine you add two extra lanes, and a special bus ramp to the northern terminus, Expo Center. That would be about the same cost as extending the train line — maybe even a bit cheaper (no rail). In Vancouver, you run a new ramp to the bus-lane. This would cost about as much as a new rail line to the same place (roughly 5th and Washington — https://goo.gl/maps/8a3HFJXRr3rKGRYr9). Now the train or the bus is on the surface, and the rail costs extra.

        The difference is that riders who take the bus have to transfer . But the same would be true if there were only one stop in Vancouver (close to the freeway). The only way that you can really add value with the rail line is to have lots of stops in Vancouver, which of course, costs a bunch. It would also be very difficult. Vancouver sprawls, and what little density there is lies in various places, not lined up neatly in a row. That means that the vast majority of riders would have to transfer anyway. They would simply be trading a train stop in Vancouver, for a train stop at Expo.

        Of course the vast majority of riders would rather have an express to downtown. This is why they run so many express buses, despite the traffic. Which gets back to the idea of bus lanes. If you add bus lanes on only part of I-5, it is still better than nothing. Those express riders get a faster trip to where they are going. Other riders still have the option of transferring to Max (using the 60), which would also see an improvement in speed.

        The devil is in the details, of course. But I’m not convinced that you would get a lot of new riders by extending the rail line and I’m pretty sure it would cost more.

      5. Glenn,

        WashDOT just put ramp meters on I-5 southbound and opened shoulder running southbound on I-5 from just south of 78th to the bridgehead. With the currently lowered traffic from work-at-home they really haven’t been used so far — the older ones on 14th are only infrequently used as well. The buses can only use them when traffic is traveling less than 35 mph and can’t go more than 15 mph faster than the traffic immediately to the left of them.

        So you’re right that there is little bus priority in the I-5 corridor at this time. But the IS a northbound HOV lane from 4 to 6 PM on the Oregon side where the greatest congestion occurs. It’s massively violated — probably every other car has one person in it — but that’s a political question. Portland apparently doesn’t care about the congestion because its citizens just use one of the parallel arterials so the cops don’t allocate any enforcement. If the RTA paid funded a couple of motorcycle cops every PM peak and the fine were boosted, compliance would grow and the northbound buses would be much quicker. There’s never any problem north of the bridge in the afternoon. Three skinny lanes open immediately into four full-size lanes (including the ramp to SR14) just north of the bridge landing and the two lane Mill Plain off-ramp begins a couple of hundred meters to the north.

        But the HUGE win for express buses with this plan would be the shortcut on the Northern Connector. It will easily shave fifteen minutes off the non-peak drive time from Jones Farm to I-5 and Mill Plain just by short-cutting the distance almost as a hypotenuse. Then of course it will suffer consideraly less congestion because there would be fewer ingresses to it.

        An express trip directly to Jones Farm via Ronler Acres would be thirty-five minutes faster than an express bus to downtown Portland and MAX to the destination with all the stops west of Beaverton.

        Even the SOV drivers would get a break — fixing the Rose Quarter issue would make the entire freeway from the bridge south to Wilsonville at least three lanes in width so there would be no artificial chokepoint. But it shouldn’t induce too much demand because the rest of the freeway wouldn’t get any more capacity. So, the overall throughput would rise only slightly since it’s only a couple of percent that would be widened while the travel time between anywhere north of the Rose Quarter and anywhere south would fall for everyone.

      1. Ryan, a boon might look less like a doggle when you take into account how many miles and lanes of traffic a four-car train of light-rail cars can clear off a car-truck highway.

        By virtue of how much roadway express transit can clear for motorists who’ve got no alternate route, done right, good transit could yield a coup without a loser.

        As demand increases, here’s what solid post WWII experience tells about those National Defense Highways. Invariably, for motorists themselves, years of freedom always end with just a jam.

        For same amount of travelers, adding railcars to a train won’t “nick” their speed at all. Incidentally, I’d also like a talk with whoever recently stated that Link’s forbidden from ever “topping” 55mph. Local, State, or Federal, quote me the law.

        Not snarking, but asking honestly: structurally, are those I-5 lanes past Everett really unable to carry passengers who’ll live to tell about it?

        Mark Dublin

      2. I wasn’t responding to you Tom Terrific. I thought your post agreed the cost of the bridge project was not worth it, whether Dem or Republican (are there any Republicans on this blog?).

        As far as Portland, if Vancouver is a critical suburb than OR is going to have to come up with way more than $15 million if it wants a new bridge.

        I don’t quite see the benefit to WA, and Clark Co. doesn’t have a lot of political pull with this Governor and WA legislature when WA has so many bridge needs. .

        Money talks…If OR is willing to pay for bridge and the bells and whistles it wants great, but OR as a state is in very tough economic shape. My question is why is WA offering to pay anything? So OR residents can move to Vancouver and avoid an income tax?

      3. Daniel, if OR residents over to Vancouver but still work in Oregon, they owe exactly the same income tax as a full-time resident. Now a two-worker household which has one worker who can find a job in Vancouver — not an easy task — does avoid the income tax on the stay-in-Washington worker.

        Oregon mostly needs the bridge because it no longer has container service linking it to the Pac Rim. They certainly don’t want to subsidize the commutes of ex-pats who move to Clark County for the better schools. One thing that’s NOT different between the two states is retirement income. Social Security benefits are exempt from Oregon Income Tax so for people whose major income in retirement is Social Security do better in Oregon where there is no sales tax. Property taxes are higher though.

  14. It’s a shame that the 512 will no longer stop at the 145th street freeway station. This cuts off a large neighborhood from frequent I-5 transit service for no good reason

    1. one does not know if the reason is good enough, but it may relate to the relatively full passenger loads that would be slowed by having to leave the center HOV lanes early. the center station at Mountlake Terrace allows buses in both directions to use the center. before Link, peak direction trips accessed the reversible lanes and off peak trips did not. are those the trips that served NE 145th Street? service design is full of choices between goods.

      1. Currently the 145th street station is only served off-peak by the 512, so I don’t get the argument that the buses are significantly slowed. The 510, 511, and 513 all skip the stop.

    2. It’s a shame that the 512 will no longer stop at the 145th street freeway station.

      Is it? I don’t see that anywhere.

      Anyway, few people used that stop. About 60 headed to Seattle, and 40 going the other way. It is slower, but there are ways to get to the same places (347 & 41 to get downtown, 373 to the U-District, 347 to Mountlake Terrace, etc.). I would bet that a significant number of riders transferred from the 347 (given the lack of houses, let alone apartments in the area). Those riders are delayed (but not hugely) while most of the riders on the 512 come out ahead.

      It wasn’t a huge delay, but it was significant. I’ve used the stop before, and it does seem like the bus spends a lot of time working its way over and back. Even though it doesn’t run peak direction, traffic southbound during during rush hour takes a toll. That is often where you have the worst traffic. Likewise the weekends southbound in the afternoon are often terrible.

      It is a judgment call, of course, but a reasonable one in my opinion, since it is by far the weakest stop between downtown Seattle and Everett. That being said, I’m not sure why they are killing it — it may be due to construction.

    3. Tom Terrific, here is a quote in today’s The Urbanist article on the Columbia River Bridge:

      “That iteration, called the Columbia River Crossing, as pegged at $3.4 billion and with such a high price tag because the project wasn’t simply a one-for-one replacement, but a doubling of the highway with numerous new interchanges, as well as funding for light rail from Portland to its fast-growing suburb Vancouver, a haven for those seeking to avoid Oregon’s income tax while still living close enough to take advantage of its lack of sales tax.” .

      1. Tom Terrific, here is a clarification from a reply on The Urbanist from a former Clark Co. reporter who covered the bridge:

        “3) Both Portlanders and Seattleites like to refer to Vancouver as a “tax haven,” maybe out of some sublimated frustration with the taxes they themselves pay? I think neither group realizes that for the relevant population (people who live in Vancouver and work in Portland) Vancouver is the opposite of a tax haven. You pay Oregon’s income taxes even though you have no representation in Oregon’s legislature, and you also pay Washington’s sales taxes unless you cross the bridge to shop, which you generally don’t because crossing the river is generally a nightmare. (Vancouver is however an efficient tax haven for retirees who do all their shopping at 10:30 am.)”

        Looks like you were correct.

  15. One thing this blog has taught me is most transit use is non-peak. But that doesn’t mean those riding transit during non-peak times don’t have to absolutely be somewhere by a certain time, every day. I think the biggest difference in how one views transit is whether the rider just has to be someplace at a certain time, or not.

    This need to be someplace by a certain time makes any transit or transportation very psychological. You watch the time minute by minute. You become very anxious.

    The same is true for driving, but when driving a car there is a sense — even if congestion makes that unrealistic — that you are more in control of the time. You walk straight to your car, you turn it on and begin driving, you are DOING something, choosing the route. With transit from the first seat you are not in control. Someone else is in control, and you hate that.

    Which brings me to the second thing I have learned from this blog: frequency.

    The reason adding a seat to a commute or trip is the added uncertainty, and even less control over the time. Walking to the bus stop or driving to the park and ride isn’t nearly as anxious because you know the trip, and control the time.

    Same with lack of frequency. As you wait at the bus stop the line begins to form and grow. You don’t know if you will get on. It is maddening to see a bus leaving just as you get there. You watch the road where the bus will come down. At the train station you wait for the sound of a train coming through the tunnel, hoping, looking at the clock or your watch or phone every 30 seconds, getting more and more nervous, and angry.

    Each seat and each transfer creates more anxiety, if you have to be somewhere at a certain time, and that anxiety can and usually does mean the difference between whether someone drives or takes transit. The only way to manage that anxiety is frequency. Granted frequency during a pandemic is tough, but at some point the pandemic will end.

    The reason I think transit on the Eastside is interesting is because so many Eastsiders have cars, but are taking transit because they have to be someplace by a time certain, and believe that with congestion the bus or train will get them there with more CERTAINTY. It is a big reason the 550 was so popular when it used the transit tunnel. Certainty was a huge selling point for East Link, because a train is grade separated.

    Even though I think driving to a park and ride is a “seat”, it doesn’t produce the same anxiety as waiting for a bus because you are in control, and are doing something to control your commute. Next the first seat is the express bus that in the past used the center roadway, had few stops along the freeway, and travelled a long way from the eastside to Seattle. Once on the express bus the anxiety ended. You knew when you would get to your destination. Your anxiety ended.

    Even though some Urbanists would disagree with me, I think the most popular thing about East Link will be the huge park and rides, especially at S. Bellevue. That is how East Link was sold, and how we imagine it: drive with certainty to a huge park and ride, all the time in control, park, and get on a frequent train that once you are on it will take to you to your destination at a certain time. Coming home go to your car, do your errands, get home at a predictable time safe and dry.

    Other parts about East Link are not going to be popular among Eastsiders who don’t see transit in romantic terms, but more like a lawnmower.

    That will be adding a seat to all riders south of I-90 in some very influential cities like Issaquah, and whether the frequency and capacity will be as promised without a second transit tunnel (although ridership was greatly exaggerated). I just don’t think Eastsiders will drive to a park and ride to catch a bus to go to a station to catch a train. At the very least they will drive to one of the huge park and rides, and complain the S. Bellevue Park and Ride is only 1500 stalls. Why didn’t they make it bigger they will grumble.

    East Link and post East Link will be good for ST, I hope, because ST will have to really compete for riders. If someone can drive to the S. Bellevue park and ride and get a stall and catch a frequent train that will be strong competition. If someone has to drive to a park and ride to catch a bus to catch a train that won’t be strong competition, especially with working from home an option that more and more will become a major factor in which jobs an applicant takes.

    Yes, I agree career advancement will still require being in the office part or most of the time, but at that level those folks drive anyway. Staff take transit, unless they don’t have to, or don’t want to because staff can’t be late. If there is one thing anxiety breeds it is anger at whatever is causing the anxiety. Anxiety is the death of transit, and frequency the cure.

    1. I don’t think the P&R will be the ‘most popular,’ but the certainly will be full every day, even with parking fees.

      Good comments on the importance of reliability and transfers. Successful truncations will depend on high Link frequency and solid bus frequency.

    2. The problem with Park ‘N’ Rides is that they only get used one time per day per slot, Even a 500 space garage can only fill one and a half Link trains. Since it makes sense to run Link trains no less often than every ten minutes, that means the the twelve “peak” trains can only carry eight garages worth of riders. Give or take.

      That’s simply not enough to make the system worthwhile. So either every station has to look like a Skytrain stop or thousands of people have to be willing to do that two-seat business with a bus in the second seat. It sounds to me like you’d rather drive to your new offices in Bellevue than drive to an on-island garage and catch the train.

      And that’s entirely OK; my sense is that way over 90% of your town-mates would agree, so I’m just not sure why we’re wasting $100 million on that station.

      1. No to quibble too much, but a filled parking space creates TWO transit trips – one from and one to the space. So a full 1500 car garage at South Bellevue would theoretically add 3000 transit trips onto East Link. Of course, some people may park there but not hop onto a train or return on a train — and other vehicles may have two or even three train riders. And a few spaces may get reused for evening ball games and performances (which we miss)!

        I’m not sure how many spaces there are if existing and new spaces are totaled and the extension opens to Downtown Redmond, but I believe it’s between 4000 and 5000 spaces. That would suggest that 8000-10000 of the projected 43000 – 52000 riders in 2026 are park-and-ride users . Then there are more riders coming from express buses on I-90 and I-405 that will serve more spaces — so that probably means between 10000 and 14000 East Link riders are going to or from a space — or generally 25 to 30 percent of all projected East Link riders. (That’s not deducting Judkins Park activity from the denominator — about 6000 of the total estimated East Link riders.)

      2. Tom Terrific, the rub on the Eastside is you still need a park and ride for the feeder bus stop. All those riders in Issaquah and Renton and areas south of I-90 are still driving to park and rides to catch a bus to a train station.

        The great thing about a park and ride is once finished it shifts the cost of first/last mile access to the car owner. Metro is the definition of inefficient. As you note, cost and adequacy are problems. But hey, I didn’t predict 50,000 riders on East Link per day by 2030.

        Can you imagine providing 10 minute frequency feeder bus service to the entire Eastside when Metro can’t afford the 41?

        The huge park and rides were part of ST 2 and 3, and the Eastside subarea is making damn sure they get built, knowing more will probably be necessary until driverless technology, the benefit of having a sub area with more money than it can ever spend based on the taxing rates in ST 2 and 3 N. King Co. needed.

        My prediction is the discontent over ending express buses will accelerate the building of the Issaquah to Kirkland line, because the Eastside subarea will have the revenue for that line just from ST 2, and Rogoff likes building rail in subareas that don’t have funding issues every single project. The Eastside subarea will have $5.5 billion left over after East Link is completed from ST 2 alone, and won’t have to pay 100% of the east-west-east express buses anymore.

        If Issaquah has 35,000 residents and got a $4.5 billion line you know it has political juice, and the subarea has too much money to spend.

        ST should build the Issaquah—Kirkland line before the West Seattle——Ballard line.

      3. Eastgate could function as a satellite parking garage to Mercer Island, as the two stops will be reliably five minutes apart. Lots depends on bus frequency, which in turn depends on the Mercer Island dispute resolution.

        Since Eastgate to Seattle travellers will have to travel up to East Main Station before catching East Link to Seattle, the desire to get that rail connection built for that kind of trip is pretty soft. It will add 7-12 minutes to every Seattle trip. I fully expect some option that crosses Mercer Slough to South Bellevue will get serious consideration.

      4. “My prediction is the discontent over ending express buses will accelerate the building of the Issaquah to Kirkland line, because the Eastside subarea will have the revenue for that line just from ST 2, and Rogoff likes building rail in subareas that don’t have funding issues every single project. The Eastside subarea will have $5.5 billion left over after East Link is completed from ST 2 alone, and won’t have to pay 100% of the east-west-east express buses anymore.”

        You’re the only one saying East King has that much money. If it has that much money then it could keep running the 554 to Seattle forever, and ST could take over the 21x and 111 and keep them running to Seattle forever. Then your concern about oh poor babies they have to transfer in Mercer Island would evaporate.

        Issaquah Link was scheduled last because even ST could see it was the hardest Eastside project to justify. If it could have scheduled it earlier because East King has money coming out its ears, then it would have done so, and the Issaquah line would have opened in the 2030s.

        It won’t be accelerated now because it was always just a pet project of one Issaquah boardmember, who is now gone. The most useful part of the line, and the part I think will get the most ridership, is Bellevue to Eastgate/Bellevue College. That doesn’t even involve Issaquah. If any city should be next in line for increases after East Link and Stride are complete, it should be Kirkland or Renton, not Issaquah.

      5. Al, I was talking about only one peak for simplicty. I was thinking about the morning peak of course, which is much more purely “commuters”. Of course a stall produces two transit trips, but they are only for one rider.

        Will there really be 5000 stall on East Link? Where? According to Wikipedia these are the stations with parking and the capacity:

        Mercer Island 447
        South Bellevue 1500
        Bel-Red/130th 300
        Redmond Technology 300
        SE Redmond 1400

        That totals just under 4000, so close to the lower bound of your estimate. The “real” East King Park-N-Rides which feed I-90 are:

        South Sammamish 265
        Eastgate 1614
        Issaquah Highlands 1000

        There’s another 3000 and a trickle from the church park and rides. Maybe 500. So a grand total of right at 7500, assuming they’re all headed to Seattle, which is pretty likely.
        Like Daniels says, if they’re going to Bellevue, they’ll drive, except for students at Bellevue College. That’s well below your estimated range.

        Obviously, the system needs those riders to make sense, but since there really isn’t that much mid-day traffic except in the SR520 corridor to and from UW, it doesn’t look like East Link was a good idea if it was depending on 40000+.

        Maybe the stations WILL become Skytrain stops, except MI which has outlawed that.

      6. All those riders in Issaquah and Renton and areas south of I-90 are still driving to park and rides to catch a bus to a train station.

        Not all of them. That is a great over-simplification. Besides, so what if they are?

        The great thing about a park and ride is once finished it shifts the cost of first/last mile access to the car owner.

        No, it doesn’t. The cost of those park and ride lots is not minimal — otherwise we wouldn’t worry about it. That is a real cost that is paid for by everyone (in that subarea).

        Besides, requiring people to own cars (i. e. “shifting costs to car owners”) is not a good thing. If you have ever struggled financially, you know that one of the biggest costs is trying to keep that car running.

        Metro is the definition of inefficient.

        Since when?

        You are describing an extremely inefficient system. Spending a fortune on park and ride lots benefits a relatively small number of people (most being well-to-do commuters). The problem is it doesn’t scale.

        That is the flaw with your argument. Somehow we need lots and lot more parking, because people will want to take the train. Yet none of those people would take a feeder bus. That’s absurd.

        Of course you lose a handful of people who refuse to take a feeder bus. So what? For the same amount of money spent on a bigger park and ride lot you could improve bus service that would get you way more people.

      7. My prediction is the discontent over ending express buses will accelerate the building of the Issaquah to Kirkland line, because the Eastside subarea will have the revenue for that line just from ST 2, and Rogoff likes building rail in subareas that don’t have funding issues every single project. The Eastside subarea will have $5.5 billion left over after East Link is completed from ST 2 alone, and won’t have to pay 100% of the east-west-east express buses anymore.

        Wow, you’ve crammed a lot of poor arguments into one sentence. So much to unpack, and dispose of.

        OK, first all, the Seattle subarea is in the same spot from a funding standpoint as the East Side. It is only the north and south that I worry about. The north because Boeing is likely to take a big hit. The south because they tend to suffer from a downtown more than the wealthier Seattle/East Side.

        Meanwhile, Kirkland to Issaquah rail could definitely have big cost overruns, and other other issues.

        Also, while the savings from the 550 (and the truncation of the 554) are significant, there are other express buses, both current and future. I have no idea who is paying for it, but I assume the East Side is paying for a good chunk of the BRT projects.

        Finally, the idea that anger over truncated buses will lead to a line that requires it is absurd.

        “I don’t want to catch a bus from my neighborhood and have to transfer to the train at Mercer Island. What I want instead is to take a bus to Issaquah, then take a train, then take another train to get downtown. Oh, and I want to transfer in East Main, so that spend a lot more time on the trains that I did before”.

        It doesn’t make sense. The Issaquah train (if it is ever built) would replace buses to Bellevue. That means that people who have direct service (e. g. folks from the Highlands riding the 556) will have to transfer, just to get to Bellevue.

        So your argument is that people complaining about transfers will spur ST to build a system with more transfers. Huh?

      8. Tom, you forgot the 819 spaces at Issaquah Transit Center for the I-90 corridor. Plus, there are two existing lots in Overlake (203 spaces) and Redmond (377 spaces) that will attract mostly Link riders. That’s not counting the occasional Link riders that may use small private lots or private Bellevue garages or even side streets near Link stations ( somehow with parking privileges) or those few that may use 405 BRT. Then there are those Link riders parking in Northgate, Shoreline or Snohomish County that will be riding Link to Bellevue jobs. That ends up totaling more daily park-and-ride trips on East Link which seems to point to about 30-40 percent of all those riders.

        Rather than obsess about the exact number, I think the bigger point is simply that park-and-ride is important for East Link ridership.

    3. Daniel, you have really made my holiday by giving me the opportunity to bring some seriously personal perspective into these discussions.

      And also, perhaps, to find out how much of STB-land shares my feeling that whatever vehicle seat I chance to occupy, on any given trip, the only seat that matters puts a dash-board in front of me, and my right foot or left hand on the power.

      My cure for anxiety? To my civilian life as my family’s driver, add thirteen years of learning exactly what I’m doing in front of 60’ of passengers. And the sense of a steering wheel in my hands, even if that Sicilian railcar in Sweden was 90 feet long.

      Pro-rail, life-long, for-sure. But even if I’d lasted ’til the Tunnel became joint-use, I would’ve turned my lobbying to making the all-electric 7 a Tunnel-sharing bus route ’til the end of my days.

      As Metro came within $12 million of doing for its own reasons. From that seat, and its every automotive counterpart, then now and forever, my Freedom’s only arbiter’s been me. And in whatever vehicle I find myself, a traffic jam is Hell’s most shameful trap.

      That espresso-check day before yesterday, since KIRO said I-5 would be clear all the way to ’90, from Olympia on north the ride was freeway-only. My early days in Olympia involved may road-hours scoping out escape routes where needed, a very calming thought.

      Early in the day, weather gray but clear, one hour ride. Trip back? Pouring rain and early dark made freeway driving deadly. Came very close to being killed when a passing SUV literally submerged my windshield. But my route, essentially two-lane.

      Home-bound map? Rainier Beach to Ryan Way to the Duwamish to Tukwila Station to Burien to Maplewild to The Cove to Des Moines to Redondo to Dash Point to Tacoma to Grandview Blvd. to Steilacoom to Dupont. I-5? One exit, Mounts Road to Nisqually Road to Olympia via Yelm Highway.

      Federal law should make every car’s ignition switch and headlight switch the same. The Bill of Rights’ authors would’ve considered willfull headlight-refusal sabotage, treason and blasphemy all three. You idiot, you’re INVISBLE!

      Very strong surmise, incidentally: While a cell-phone in your hand will get you fined, your crash’s real culprit is sheer boredom and a dashboard video game where your windshield ought to be. But to my coffee-stop and back, regarding Traffic-Trapment, I got three hours of Total and Complete Freedom.

      And I’m kidding least of all about that chain-drive convoy. Here’s the book: “American Road” by Pete Davies. Amazon’s got it. In Future-President Eisenhower’s mind, from things he’d seen in Europe re: Japan, we were looking at an existential threat who could’ve held a Sierra-crest beach-head from the Oregon line to Tijuana.

      Scared of our personal guns, not hardly. More, how big our land-mass is, and how few Japanese there’ve ever been anyplace. China and Korea, for their sins, are at least on the same side of the Pacific Ocean. History’s deadliest mis-calc: how many people in the world are not in fact afraid of you.

      So to keep “Ike” updated? Since the more crowded with cars our freeways get, the slower everybody’s actual speed, I think he’d back me up on this: that Defense means that we run those lanes with trains. Which a paid-up monthly ORCA card should make Anxiety-Free!

      Mark Dublin

      1. Ross, if your argument is spending $4.5 billion for a line from Issaquah to Bellevue is is not the best use of limited transit funding I have a hard time differing.

        If your argument is $4.5 billion is not part of ST 3 or the Issaquah line won’t heft built that I disagree with.

        The taxing rates in ST 2 and 3 were to refund the N. King Co. subarea. But ST was forced to make some promises to Seattle voters to sell ST 3 it probably can’t keep.

        These taxing rates were really not enough for some subareas but too much for east KC, even just ST 2.

        So why not use those funds to accurate some of the projects in ST 3. Why wait until 2041 to complete the Issaquah line?

        Don’t get me wrong. I think ST should continue express buses from areas south of I-90 to Seattle and Bellevue unless WFH ends that need, and the Eastside has always paid 100% of those buses.

      2. Why wait until 2041 to complete the Issaquah line?

        Two reasons (that go together):

        1) Sound Transit has to spread out the spending. Otherwise they go over the debt limit. There are a lot of articles about that (here is latest one: https://seattletransitblog.com/2020/11/24/sound-transit-expects-better-revenue-recovery-but-still-lengthy-project-delays/).

        2) The Issaquah line is the second worst project in ST3. Personally I would do the Sounder Dupont work after (since it is the worst) but either way it makes sense to build the Issaquah line after projects that will actually provide a significant amount of value.

        Here is a rundown of the projects: https://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2016/04/06/youve-got-50-billion-for-transit-now-how-should-you-spend-it/

        (The article is a little bit old, some of the numbers may have changed a bit, but it is hard to see how the Issaquah line is a good value.)

      3. Issaquah line is only poor value if you assume Issaquah won’t change. If you imagine Issaquah as the fastest growing east side suburb not on East Link and home to the largest non-tech employer on the east side (Costco), and realize the project is really about connecting Eastgate and Factoria, it’s not so shabby. Regardless, the worst project in ST3 is clearly the Phase III T-Link extension because even if the route was good (it’s not) and if the neighborhood was dense (it probably will be by then), we should realize by now that mixed-traffic streetcars are worse than nothing at all (because a bus lane would be better). T-Link Phase III actually reduces mobility in it’s corridor.

      4. Issaquah line is only poor value if you assume Issaquah won’t change. If you imagine Issaquah as the fastest growing east side suburb not on East Link and home to the largest non-tech employer on the east side (Costco) … it’s not so shabby.

        Issaquah is changing. It has changed. You can see all those apartment buildings from the freeway, and those cranes next to Costco Headquarters. So what? There is no way that light rail will serve that well. For the most part the stations are terrible. Most are close to the freeway. Yet it somehow costs a bundle. This is a huge amount of money for very little added.

        Consider Costco Headquarters. The closest station would be “Central Issaquah”: https://goo.gl/maps/W5c4ato9fKc1yPTW7. Sorry, but no one is going to walk that. Yet that is about as close as the station can come (any closer and it is yet another failed freeway station). So that means riders transfer from a bus. Of course they do. What have you gained then? Not much. The line doesn’t even work as a “spine” — and that is because it doesn’t connect well to Seattle. Consider the two alternatives from Seattle to Costco Headquarters:

        1) Get off the train in Mercer Island and take an express to Costco.

        2) Get off the train at East Main. Transfer to the other train. Get off the train at “Central Issaquah” and take a bus to Costco.

        You have an extra transfer *and* it takes a lot longer. Keep in mind, this is true for just about everywhere in Issaquah. It is true for those new apartments you see from the freeway. It is true for the cultural center of Issaquah (what most people consider central Issaquah). For just about everywhere, you are adding an extra transfer *and* delay.

        Keep in mind, if you live *anywhere* in Seattle, then Link is a good option to get to Issaquah. You take the train over the water to avoid the horrendous backups. But if you live in various places on the East Side, this new train doesn’t matter. If you live in Newcastle, for example, this doesn’t help at all. Nor does it help in Sammamish. Even in Redmond you will slog your way on the roads unless you can walk to the station.

        Then there are the trips from Bellevue. This is an improvement. This is where they have added value. Rather than transferring to a bus in Mercer Island, riders will take the train to Issaquah, then take a bus. This would be better (although probably not as good as an express bus from Bellevue). So, yes, that is an improvement. It is still the same number of seats, but you avoid the extra travel on the train.

        Except that is a terrible trade-off. The trips in Bellevue save a little time, but have the same number of transfers. The trips in Seattle lose a lot of time *and* an extra transfer. The success of the light rail has little to do with Issaquah. It will only be successful if everyone in Seattle just moves to Bellevue (and takes all the big buildings with them).

        and realize the project is really about connecting Eastgate and Factoria

        Except that it doesn’t. That’s the issue. All those express buses from Mercer Island to Issaquah that I mentioned go through Eastgate, because it is *on the way*. That means that frequency to Eastgate would be outstanding. If Issaquah really becomes as big and vibrant as you imagine, then you would want to have lots of buses from various neighborhoods connecting riders to Seattle. All of those would stop at Eastgate.

        In contrast, for Seattle the train requires a detour, with no improvement in speed or frequency. A bus from Mercer Island to Eastgate is blazing fast — never leaving the HOV lanes. Thus the train only benefits Bellevue to Eastgate trips. You can’t possibly justify spending billions on speeding up trips for so few riders. Even if you could — even if you goal was to make trips from Eastgate to downtown Bellevue faster, than the obvious choice would be to build a new HOV ramp from I-405 to I-90.

        Oh, and South Kirkland isn’t much better. Again, it does nothing to improve the trips to Seattle, and improves the trip to Bellevue for only a handful. If you are in downtown Kirkland, what you want is a bus that gets on the freeway and goes right to downtown Bellevue — not to detour to the middle of nowhere (South Kirkland) and make a transfer.

        The Issaquah to South Kirkland line is a terrible value. Even if you assume the generous ridership estimates are accurate it is terrible. It is just way too much money for way too little.

    4. I definitely get the feeling of being in control, and if you feel it with respect to driving, it absolutely applies to walking and riding a bike as well. Often more so, since walking and biking don’t incur delays from traffic jams or wrong turns/missed freeway exits. Also, walking, if you’re running short on time, the option exists to run. On a bus, there’s usually nothing you can do.

      As an example, I personally usually don’t ride transit for trips under 1 mile and, most of the time, under 2 miles. For trips in that range, I prefer the control of just walking (and, if walking is too slow, running or riding a bike).

      However, frequency matters a lot. If transit is very frequent, a missed bus becomes no worse than getting stuck in a car behind a raised ship canal bridge. In some systems, such as the London underground, a missed train is not much worse than a missed traffic light. So, connections become a lot less stressful.

      1. asdf2, one thing I need to note. Since I can’t afford a sailboat, a glider, or the average movie ticket, two-lane driving’s what I do to enjoy life. Which has always included things like both employment, schooling, and relaxation.

        Exactly the same as for my average transit ride. Reason for all the Tap-Off-Trap intolerance. A window-seat at 60 mph is where I think best. Ok, Link does 55, but don’t think that’s in stone. Prepayment should entitle me to concentrate.

        When last the world was safely-vaccinated, every urban or suburban place I’ve lived in, public transit was my life’s own definition of freedom. Which for both enjoyment and health, included quite a lot of walking. Same area of life as shopping, food, and coffee.

        For my chance to get that back, many thanks to STB. When IT Route 612 revives, I plan to treat my car to a well-earned month’s vacation in her beloved car-port. But above all, Seattle Transit Blog is both a forum and a resource.

        For a revived Works Progress Administration, whose most artistic monument will be the public transit that our work here will deliver. Remember. A five story high metal vortex that can support an elephant can also be high-speed-rail’s most economical structural pillar.

        Mark Dublin

    5. The thing about parking spaces is they’re larger than a person, larger than a car — and with the space in front of it to drive into it — larger than two cars. That’s why they don’t scale. Look at any freestanding business (fast food, sporting goods, big box): the parking lot is as large as the building or larger. To provide parking for every passenger on one run of a 125-person train car, you’d need a lot much larger than a train. The 550 peak hours used to discharge half its passengers at Mercer Island and South Bellevue P&Rs — but there’s still the other half of passengers, and off-peak times when hardly any passengers got on/off at the P&Rs.

      My objection to low frequency is I don’t want to wait a long time, or have that uncertainty that I might have to wait. Overcrowding is not much of an issue when I ride, although it was when I commuted on the 71/72/73X, and can be now with the vastly lower capacity during covid. But the reason we’re building Link is to address problems like this: Link has more capacity so crowding will be less of an issue, it’s more reliable than buses on highways, and it will hopefully be always frequent if ST keeps its head on straight.

      “I think the most popular thing about East Link will be the huge park and rides, especially at S. Bellevue. That is how East Link was sold, and how we imagine it”

      Only some Eastsiders think like that. The Eastside is a diverse place: different people have different ideas about transit and light rail, and different people’s homes have different relationships to the transit network. I grew up in Bellevue and still go there once or twice a month, so I’ve seen a wide variety of attitudes and expectations and ridership patterns. Some people will take a bus to Link like they take the B to the 550 today. More will do so because Link is a better travel experience than the 550. And because it extends to the Spring District, Overlake, and Redmond giving more one-seat rides. And more one-seat rides on the other end: Capitol Hill, the U-District, Roosevelt, Northgate, Lynnwood, etc. So even if you take a bus to Link on one end or both, Link will take you further and to more places than the 550 or any other route like the 545 or 542, and more frequently all day. Some people will lose (Issaquah-Seattle riders on the 554 or 21x), but others will gain. And there aren’t that many people coming from Issaquah or south of I-90, because there are fewer people there compared to the Bellevue-Redmond-Kirkland core.

      1. In practice, a lot of what appears like an extra connection might not actually work out that way. Many people that would, today, take a bus to Eastgate and catch the 554 might, in the future, take a different bus to some other Link Station and bypass Eastgate P&R altogether.

        The bus routes themselves can also be restructured to make this easier. For instance, a route 240 that took you straight to Link after Factoria, without detouring to Eastgate and back west again would save people a lot of time. The 221 also looks ripe for revision, so that it crosses the Link tracks at an actual station, rather than halfway between two stations.

      2. Restructuring after East Link will be tricky. I think of it in terms of segments, but how those segments get tied together is a challenge. Some of the pieces are fairly straightforward. For example:

        241 from Factoria to downtown Bellevue — Minor alteration to follow the 550 route (Bellevue Way) which has more people and destinations.

        240 from Eastgate to downtown Bellevue — OK as is, since it gets riders close to East Main (and Bellevue TC).

        554 — All day service from Issaquah to Mercer Island. Could be supplemented with service from Metro, although my understanding is that the East Side subarea has oodles and oodles of cash.

        It is everything else that is messy. You could connect the southern part of the 240 to the northern part of the 241, giving those riders a fast connection to Link. That leaves parts of Factoria/Eastgate without a direct connection (or at best a slow connection). Maybe you supplement those with a short route from the neighborhood that goes to Mercer Island. For example, the southern tail of the 245 past Eastgate Park and Ride could be cut. That tail could be a new route that runs to Eastgate and then to Mercer Island. That would double up service from Eastgate to Link (and thus from BCC to Link) while providing a few more connections to Link.

        Then again, maybe that is overkill. It isn’t clear how many people are headed to Seattle in the middle of the day. I could easily see a lot of service to Link (both directions) during rush-hour, but then more of a focus on local routes in the middle of the day. At noon there may be more people in Newport Hills headed to Bellevue College than a Link location. It isn’t like riders couldn’t get to Link — it is just that they would, at worst, take a three seat ride. I would probably focus on Eastgate/BCC to Mercer Island, since that is likely to have the biggest midday ridership demand. If that was very frequent (and Link was very frequent) that a three-seat ride (e. g. 245 to 554 to Link) wouldn’t be that bad.

      3. I disagree with the “leave the 240 as is”. Yes, it eventually gets you to East Main St. Station, but the detour east, then north, then, west, then (on the train) back south again to go west to Seattle adds a lot of time. Twice a day, every day, this extra time adds up. The end result is people driving the route the bus should have taken and clogging up the South Bellevue parking garage. While it might be possible to avoid the detour by transferring to the 241 in Factoria, in practice, the 241 will not be frequent, so the transfer would end up costing more time waiting at the bus stop than just sitting through the detour.

        You then have to weigh this against what, exactly, the detour is for. Bellevue College is a destination, but its importance pales in comparison to all of Seattle, and it isn’t served all that well by the 240 (which stops only at the Eastgate Transit Center bus bays at the bottom of the hill) anyway.

        Of course, Eastgate Transit Center also has some other bus connections, but how important are they, really? You don’t need a bus to Bellevue if you’re going to Link instead. The Issaquah bus, you’d presumably be able to just catch from South Bellevue (slightly out of the way, but the number of people riding to Issaquah is tiny). The 245, you could just catch in Factoria (Metro can avoid the artificial layover at Eastgate most of the day by arranging for bus drivers to use the mall restroom during layover when it’s open). The 271, the only destination of any importance is downtown Bellevue, where Link takes you anyway. That leaves routes like the 221 and 226 with very tiny ridership.

        There is, of course, the separate issue of people riding the 240 from Bellevue to Eastgate. But, the 271 already does that (and serves Bellevue College better than the 240 does), so maybe if trips could be added to the 271, that section of the 240 becomes redundant (there’s a couple stops along Richards road where the 240 provides unique coverage, but how many people actually ride there?).

        Overall, I expect the importance of Eastgate Transit Center to drop considerably once it no longer makes sense as a way point for feeder buses to funnel people into who are headed to Seattle. It will still get some use as an overflow parking lot for South Bellevue, but that will be about it.

      4. So here is an Eastgate question: Could the garage (and maybe Bellevue College) be served by a shuttle using mini-buses like an airport parking shuttle to/from Mercer Island Link? Would that vehicle be excluded from the ST/ MI bus settlement? If the service is offered by Bellevue College or by Metro be enough to exclude it from that settlement?

        The round trip appears to be only 20-25 minutes with layovers possible on the East end. Three shuttles would appear to offer 10-minute peak service, and four would offer 7.5-minute service.

      5. The 21X series were crush loaded during commute peak – I’ve been left behind standing at the Eastgate freeway station before. All of those people are still passing through Eastgate no matter how the East Link restructure works, so why would the TC become less useful? If anything, ST and KCM pivoting away from sending buses across the lake will make the network within East King more useful and make transfer nodes like Eastgate more useful, not less.

        Instead of sending every local route to meet Link directly, some will leverage a transfer that, at peak, is more frequent than Link itself.

      6. The 21X series were crush loaded during commute peak – I’ve been left behind standing at the Eastgate freeway station before. All of those people are still passing through Eastgate no matter how the East Link restructure works, so why would the TC become less useful? If anything, ST and KCM pivoting away from sending buses across the lake will make the network within East King more useful and make transfer nodes like Eastgate more useful, not less.

        Instead of sending every local route to meet Link directly, some will leverage a transfer that, at peak, is more frequent than Link itself. With the college as the all-day trip generator, it’s a logical place to overlap routes, even if the volume of transfers isn’t that high.

        But why would there be high volume going between Mercer Island and Bellevue College? Are there lots of people from Seattle heading to BC? I assumed they would go to a community college in Seattle.

      7. I disagree with the “leave the 240 as is”.

        I thought I made it clear. I’m talking *only* about the segment from Eastgate Park and Ride to Bellevue Transit Center. It looks pretty straightforward to me, and better once the East Main Station is added. If you are on Lake Hills and want a two-seat ride to Seattle, it seems about as good as you can expect. If you are in Robinswood, you are going out of your way, or you might have to deal with a three seat ride, but that gets back to the other issue I spent a lot of time discussing. Should you have bits and pieces of routes around Eastgate that go to Mercer Island, so that those riders have a nice two-seat ride? Or should you focus primarily on routes *within* the East Side? Or should you balance the two, with more one-seat rides to Seattle during rush hour — both directions — but the rest of the time focus on East Side trips? As you might guess, I lean towards the third option.

        in practice, the 241 will not be frequent

        Wait, what? The northern part of the 241 — taking over the 550 — should definitely be frequent. How are people supposed to get from here (https://goo.gl/maps/tC1ZD5ZMUduBK3gh7) to here (https://goo.gl/maps/sqK7zJe3fiQfL6Sy9)? There is going to be a bus that runs along Bellevue Way, taking over the 550. I call that bus the 241. It will definitely be frequent.

        Overall, I expect the importance of Eastgate Transit Center to drop considerably once it no longer makes sense as a way point for feeder buses to funnel people into who are headed to Seattle.

        OK, now I’m totally confused. Are you saying that we *won’t* have a lot buses connecting to Link from the greater Eastgate area? Because if we do, then going through Eastgate is the obvious choice. It costs nothing for a bus from Sammamish/Issaquah to stop there. It is spitting distance to Bellevue College — so much so that students (and faculty) will ignore dedicated bus routes there and instead take the express and walk. Its also very close to a bunch of office buildings. Yet you are saying the obvious gateway to East Link is going to become *less* important?

        I just don’t get it. You are saying that the bus on Bellevue Way (which as a side benefit connects to South Bellevue Station) will be infrequent, but at the same time, there will be very few buses going over I-90 to Mercer Island (or that they won’t bother to stop at Eastgate). Are you saying that everyone south of downtown Bellevue will have a slow or infrequent connection to Link? Fair enough — I just think there will be some people who want a faster trip to Seattle.

      8. I’m envisioning something like this:

        Route 240 (Newcastle->Bellevue section): https://goo.gl/maps/xPqjf5RCFGAwPjLx9

        Route 241: https://goo.gl/maps/dGQ8Ses8XQ9zN1b29

        Route 245: Move layover back to Factoria Mall; otherwise, leave as is.

        Route 271 (for brevity, only Bellevue TC->Eastgate section shown on the map): https://goo.gl/maps/dGAUHtA7xkDgXEVQ9

        Route 554 (supplemented by peak-only Issaquah->Mercer Island service on 2XX routes): https://goo.gl/maps/C4FM96rpe9nyWnh78

        The idea is that the 240 and 241 combine for frequent service between Link and Factoria Mall, while the 554 runs frequent service connecting Link to Eastgate and Issaquah via the freeway. Notice that riders of both the 240 and 241 bypass Eastgate altogether when accessing Link. The tradeoff is that route 240 riders would need to transfer to the 245 to get to Bellevue College/Eastgate, but I think that’s acceptable considering the amount of time it saves getting to Seattle. I softened the impact somewhat by moving the 245’s layover back to Factoria, so at least those that would be transferring to the 245 would still have a two-seat ride, they’d just make the connection at a different spot. Issaquah-bound riders would catch the 554 at South Bellevue – slightly out of the way, but, again, acceptable considering that Seattle, not Issaquah is the dominant destination.

        Between Bellevue and Eastgate, I consolidated the 240 and 271 down to a single route, avoiding the need to have multiple routes serve essentially the same trip, with slightly different routes along the way. I chose the 240’s route west of I-405 since service East Main St. Station helps get people on Link quicker. East of 405, I chose the 271’s route, since that has much better ridership potential (more multifamily housing served, plus directly serves Bellevue College) and, with Eastgate no longer an important hub to get to Seattle, speed to the Eastgate P&R bus bays is less important than today.

        The 554, I route to South Bellevue P&R instead of Mercer Island for a variety of reasons. The biggest is that South Bellevue is much less of a detour for people going to Seattle than Mercer Island is for people going to Bellevue or Redmond, so even if 3/4 of the riders are going to Seattle, sending the 554 to South Bellevue still saves net rider-minutes overall. South Bellevue also connects with the 240/241 described above, whereas Mercer Island would turn many two-seat rides into three-seat rides.

        Under this network, Eastgate TC still exists, but the number of bus connections that happen there is greatly reduced. Many that would, today, ride a bus to Eastgate to catch the 554 would, instead, ride a bus to a Link station and catch Link, skipping Eastgate altogether.

  16. DT: excellent lessens. But note that in 2023, the East Link parking will fill quickly just as it has with bus service. Almost all midday riders will still be using bus and their feet to reach Link. I think many riders will drive to the parking in Issaquah and Eastgate when they learn that the western lots fill quickly.

    In 2019, Route 550 was about 10 minutes slower than it had been two years before. There were several factors: the center roadway provided less priority in the peak direction; the D-2 roadway was lost to bus for the East Link construction, and joint operation in the transit tunnel ended prematurely when the county sold Convention Place Station to the Washington State Convention Center. ST had enough buses to run Route 550 every six minutes in the peak periods and peak direction but they did not bother to provide more frequent service at off-peak times or service very late into the evening. ST could have provided the RapidRide policy headways at off-peak times and six-minute peak headway in both directions. If the connection is worth Link in 2023, why is not worth very frequent bus service beforehand?

    1. Eddiew, I know everybody’s seen the link about those double-pantograph semi-trucks in Sweden. But there’s no reason a Mercer Island employee should get to live no farther east than North Bend.

      Crossing Snoqualmie Pass inbound at seventy, listening to those singin’ twin “pans” clean a windstorm-full of air with every mile, will be such a “trip” that I can leave the Crimeans with their trolley-poles and no hard feelings.

      Will be worth it to read STB’s Swedish-language version to verify the correct way to say “550 Ellensburg”. The “Express” part, no need to waste the destination-space on the sign. At that speed, every trip will have “Essential” written all over it.

      Mark Dublin

    2. We can’t possibly have a Snoqualmie Pass trolleybus when Metro Connects isn’t finished. There are several times more people in Renton and Newport Hills who want a better and more frequent connection to Link and Bellevue College than are going over the mountains or to Snoqualmie ski resorts. And a snowstorm or avalanche would knock down the trolley wires, and the wheels couldn’t get traction on ice roads. In any case, it’s the state’s responsibility to provide statewide transit, not King County’s. And the state should focus more on Western Washington’s intercity circulation and rural intercounty bus connectors than on a trolleybus to Snoqualmie or Eastern Washington.

      The Swedish bus might say “550 Ellensborg”. And the other direction,”550 Ballard”.

  17. Mike Orr, wish I could insert replies where they make sense. From end of the ticket concourse headed south through the whole terminal, there’s not only an elevator. But an escalator and a staircase down to the door opening on the bus stop that serves both the Bellevue and Burien 560 coaches and the 574 through Tacoma Dome to SR 512 and Lakewood Town Center.

    On the positive side, you’ve got a single-story luggage-pull from Sea-Tac Link past all the airline desks. On the negative, I think it’s about a mile. Though unlike the stop across SR99 from the station, vertically you’re safer. You can also save some time by making a diagonal bee-line through a mile of crowded, dark un-heated elevated parking.

    It’s Seattle’s International Airport for The Lord’s Own Sake! In how many of the World’s languages does a transit system have to be told “Just Do It?”

    Mark Dublin

    1. You mean the bus stop next to the baggage claim where all the buses used to be? I didn’t think the 574 stopped there; the airport signs mention only two other ST routes. But that’s way at the other end of the airport. It must be a 20-30 minute walk from the Link station. Or are you saying there’s a bus stop between the ticketing area and the passage through the parking garage? But even just that passage is longer than crossing Intl Blvd twice.

      1. https://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/documents/schedule-574.pdf

        This is important, Mike. While it has, involuntarily, been-awhile, on my last trip before the pandemic, northbound ST Express 574 would exit I-5 at South 188th Street, turn north on SR99, and finish its run at the foot of the bridge crossing 99 for Sea-Tac Airport STATION.

        And then, if memory serves, loop into the area of the terminal itself, and run southbound along the drop-offs the length of the terminal building, and make its final stop at SEA-TAC AIRPORT. Same stop as ST 560.

        And then go out of service. To return to service facing northbound at the SEA-TAC STATION stop, repeat the loop along the terminal to SEA-TAC AIRPORT stop, before retracing its route southbound to Lakewood via Federal Way and Tacoma Dome.

        Reason I mentioned my last ride south, when my Link train arrived with just the right amount of time to let me board my southbound 574 just as it was leaving. Underlining the fact that the stop at the foot of that problem-child of an elevator is definitely NOT a convenient or comfortable place for southbound passengers to wait!

        Much more comfortable is to walk-or ride little electric baggage conveyances across, the bridge between Sea-Tac Station and the terminal itself. And maybe pick up a paper, and get a cup of coffee and maybe a snack, while leisurely walking past the baggage checks and the ticket counters, depending on your choice of corridors, and out the door to the ST stop.

        Leading up to my contention that there’s waits and waits and waits. Which if thought out, timed, and scheduled intelligently, can be very enjoyable de-stressers on a long trip. Boon to bathroomless buses too.

        But like every other single thing about Transit, “waits” should never be allowed to just lie around for years and get complained about. Instead, they should be planned out in advance, and constantly observed and re-adjusted. And above all, explained ’til they’re known-backwards by every passenger.

        And transit’s own most serious duty? However you achieve it….NOBODY WAITS ALONE!

        Mark Dublin

      2. @asdf2 — The biggest problem I have with that idea is sending an Issaquah bus to South Bellevue. This doesn’t make sense during rush hour, which means it can’t work outside of rush hour. Imagine it is 6:30 PM and you commuting back from Seattle to Issaquah. You aren’t sure if you should get off at Mercer Island, or South Bellevue. That sucks. You could overlap the bus routes, but then you are wasting service hours, while gaining very little. South Bellevue doesn’t make sense for long I-90 trips. For that matter, I don’t think any bus should truncate at South Bellevue.

        I would be concerned about a service mismatch on your proposed 240. The northern part would be very popular — I’m not sure about the southern part. Once you get south of Factoria Boulevard, ridership would drop like a stone. I think you may be on to something with the combination of the 240 and 241. All you need to do is extend your 241 to downtown Bellevue. That way, they both combine on the most popular part (Factoria to Bellevue Way to Bellevue TC). So that means 10 to 15 minute frequency there, and 20 to 30 for the rest of it. That works.

        In general though, this shows the challenges for the area. The biggest destination south of downtown Bellevue is Bellevue College. It looks to me like it is harder to get there. I think you just have to live with that, though — I don’t see an easy way to avoid that (given the same amount of service hours). It isn’t a huge hit (only the folks in Newcastle lose out, although they gain a direct connection to Link). That is a worthy trade-off.

      3. For whatever that’s worth, currently, 240, 241 and (before being COVID-canceled) 246 form a combined 10 minutes or so frequency between Bellevue TC and Factoria, though they take different routes to get there. This gives a mixture of coverage routes through Wilburton, Bellecrest, Enatai (the side closest to Bellevue Way, anyway) etc. as well as good frequency on the main routes. Note that it really is that simple – the bus stops are the same for all three routes at both ends (Bellevue TC towards Factoria is Bay 12, I don’t think Factoria has named stops but they all stop along the East side of the road in the same places before they fork off for the residential coverage sections).

        This is the advantage over having a single frequent route – most trips will still take about as long if you have a BRT between Factoria and Bellevue TC, because you either have to go meander a bit or potentially get stuck on the freeway interchange, but you lose the coverage component. So I would personally prefer the current scheme if I were a resident of any of the neighborhoods in the middle, and I assume Bellevue will keep that in mind as they try to influence Metro on longer term plans.

  18. Might as well just stop posting any articles by Ralph Vartabedian at the LA Times. Dude has basically dedicated the twilight of his career to doomsaying the CAHSR. His perspective is tired and his prose combative. Yuck-e

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