Kitsap Transit 2005 Gillig Low Floor 779

This is an open thread.

121 Replies to “News roundup: snapshot”

  1. Sound Transit is not special. Light rail ridership around the country dropped off a cliff:

    “The pandemic is the biggest crisis in decades to face a public transit industry that was already struggling to retain riders. Second-quarter ridership for subways, light rail, and commuter railroads plummeted by more than 85 percent by more than 85 percent compared with the year before, according to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). The number of bus passengers fell by two-thirds.”

    https://www.planning.org/planning/2020/dec/transit-in-crisis/

    The pandemic — technically it was the lockdown orders from the states — accelerated remote working trends dramatically. Around here employers won’t be demanding all their employees make daily commutes to crowded worksites near the Link stations.

    Light rail does not induce demand for mass transit. The specific kind of density required for a successful light rail system is this: enough people who are required to commute to worksites within a quarter mile of stations need to reside within a quarter mile of enough stations. That kind of density never will be present in this region.

    Are the ST3 rail extension megaprojects worth the (still undisclosed) tax costs of this kind of financing plan?

    1. Oh look, it’s this post again.

      I invite you to go back to any of your dozens of previous comments saying the exact same thing and read the replies.

      1. Pat, whether you agree with Anon or not, what you’re suggesting that he do is so heartless that it really isn’t worthy of you. He obviously can’t help it. His only hope is for Pfizer to include memory loss as a side-effect of its vaccine.

        So I’m urging you to spend YOUR time researching this:

        That, starting with Washington State, our country’s whole Interstate Highway System will soon be ruled so far beyond repair that our only choice is to put tracks in the broken concrete, and catenary over it.

        AND: In recognition of the Republican Party in its glory days when it didn’t name US army bases after traitors, and defeated slavery instead of calling it “Corrections”, take every still-standing freeway pillar and top it with a shining bronze elephant.

        And starting at the effort’s origins, just by having the loyalty to name itself anything “Federal” at this juncture, the “Way” has definitely earned the bronze pachyderm it deserves. Just so somebody puts an espresso stand at the foot of it, like its last incarnation used to have.

        Mark Dublin

      2. Without government support, some transit agencies in the country are facing draconian service cuts. San Fran Muni is looking at 35 percent cuts on top of the already reduced service. Washington Metro is eliminating all weekend service, ending weekday service at 9pm, and permanently closing 19 subway stations. NYC transit is eliminating dozens of bus routes, closing stations, and running the subway less frequently.

      3. Indeed Brad, what’s helpful is Anon coming to every open thread to spew the same unsubstantiated BS every single time in order to bait well-intentioned folks like Mike Orr into writing novels in response explaining why he’s wrong. And then he’ll do it again next week.

        At least Sam (bless him) knows to switch up his schtick to keep it fresh.

    2. “Are the ST3 rail extension megaprojects worth the (still undisclosed) tax costs of this kind of financing plan?”

      It’s the compromise the region made. I don’t think the extensions beyond Federal Way and Lynnwood (or Ash Way or 128th) are worth it, but Snohomish and Pierce would only support Sound Transit if it got to Everett and Tacoma and soon. The legislature doesn’t allow Seattle to raise enough taxes on its own for light rail, so it’s either the three-county compromise or nothing. Without the long-term promise of Everett and Tacoma, you wouldn’t have gotten the initial segment, Northgate Link, or East Link. And those are definitely needed. What we on our own think about the excesses doesn’t matter because we aren’t boardmembers/mayors/councilmembers who have the power to change its direction.

      1. Question, Mike Orr: Isn’t the whole idea of democratic government that for power over civic affairs, none of us is forced to be alone?

        And doesn’t our legal right to terminate these officials’ tenure whenever their performance fails to measure up to our standards give us any steerage over their “direction” at all?

        In a “Psych” book somewhere, I saw “Clinical Depression” defined as “Learned Helplessness.” Am I to gather you’ve been studying nights for a PhD? Would have to be UW.

        Because neither Lake Washington Tech, North Seattle, or Highline give any course credit toward Helplessness at all. Time we all face the fact that our every major transit agency needs to be de-chartered and replaced?

        If “RTM” is disrespectful plagiarism, could the letterhead of the system we need now be WWRTA for a Western Washington Regional Transit Authority that, well, matters just a little?

        Because for the next couple years at least we surely don’t have the excuse of anything else monopolizing our agenda.

        Mark Dublin

      2. “doesn’t our legal right to terminate these officials’ tenure whenever their performance fails to measure up to our standards give us any steerage over their “direction” at all?”

        That power is given to the majority of people in the jurisdiction, not to you and me individually. And our power over local officials is limited by state laws, which we’d have to get the legislature or statewide voters to change. ST1/2/3 is the voice of the people within that structure. Some have argued against ST3 but none has shown a larger majority of followers than it, even if we’re willing to break the structure.

    3. The reason light rail is needed is the population size of Seattle, the Seattle-Bellevue-Redmond area, the extended area to Lynnwood and Federal Way which is the same job market, and the extended-extended area beyond that. Cities far smaller in Europe have a rail trunk and are on an all-day S-Bahn. Cities the size of Spokane or the Eastside. That plus a complementary bus network and walkable land use is what enables people to live without a car and allows the car mode share to go below 50%. The part that Pugetopolis is most challenged on is land use. But we shouldn’t let our inability to get walkable density around every Link and RapidRide station and enough housing so that prices wouldn’t rise, lead us to just throwing up our hands and resigning ourselves to a transit network like it was in the 1990s or 1980s. The only way to get out of the hole that we’re in is to take steps like building a more robust transit network like the rest of the world has.

      1. Whew! I knew you didn’t really mean Board-members Rule for Life. Just because Brazil’s long had an outstanding slew of trolleybuses, doesn’t mean we can’t both beat them and retain our democracy.

        One trouble I CAN foresee, but which historically could be a positive:

        If the careers of Presidents Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, and Harry Truman show us anything, it’s that what the best leaders often have in common is they do not want the job.

        Really widens the candidate list right now, doesn’t it?

        Mark Dublin

    4. That kind of density never will be present in this region.

      Well, that depends on how you define “region”, doesn’t it, Q? “The Northwest” is often thought to include BC, and Vancouver certainly has “that kind of density”. All it takes is the political will to create it.

      We could make Link as successful as Skytrain if we want to. Indeed we had better fo so in order to accommodate all the climate refugees who will be heading our way from Aridzona and Alta California.

    5. The roads, highways, and multiuse paths seem pretty popular right despite everyone working from home. From my vantage point as someone who cycles or walks for most errands, buses seem a lot emptier than this time last year. I don’t see why non-commute bus trips wouldn’t return to their previous levels once the pandemic subsides.

      Office leases are usually pretty long (10 years), so once the pandemic ends I can imagine people choosing to work from the office for a number or reasons. Working from home for me has been a blessing and a curse. I’ve spent 2/3rds of my life chatting with strangers online, so the transition to internet chatting as the main form of communication with colleagues was an easy transition. But humans are social creatures, and we enjoy talking to each other in person, eating lunch together, etc.

      I don’t think it is really that good for your mental health to only see a few other humans face-to-face per day, as the “everyone will move to Iowa and live on their 20 acres with their Seattle salary” crowd seems to idealize. Twenty acres in Iowa, a half acre in Bellevue, whatever. Isolating yourself from the world isn’t good. Staying at home all day is depressing, and if working from home is the norm for the rest of my life, I would still want to live in a dense area with lots of opportunities for being around other humans, even if 5% of them aren’t that great.

      I think this brings land use better into view. People hate commuting because of the variable time it takes due to the inefficiencies of single occupancy vehicles being used at peak hours. High-capacity transit like Link is more predictable, even if its regular 55 mph + a trip on either end is slower than the fastest car trip. I would rather have a guaranteed 25 minute trip with 10 minute headways than a 15-45 minute trip in a car depending on the time of day and whether a fish truck driver took their eyes off the road. If you can normalize the commuting times with high-capacity transit and dense living patterns, I don’t think people will mind commuting as much. I personally miss my 20 minute bike ride commute that gives me free exercise and physical distance from work.

      If we can believe in induced demand with driving, I think the same applies to transit and real estate. If there are suddenly a million square feet of empty commercial real estate in downtown/SLU, in theory the Free Market™ should allow other uses to use this space. Businesses (not necessarily white collar) will fill up the buildings, and transit will become an efficient method to get people there during all hours.

      That isn’t to say that Link’s routing is the greatest, or that zoning has been changed appropriately around all of the stations, future and present. Sound Transit is doing the best they can given the fiscal and political constraints they face.

      1. This x1000. Isolation is very bad, and I think even the people who swear they want to work remote forever will be surprised in 2Q21 when their boss makes them come into the office again. In-person meetings are more effective in most industries, and there is so much office collaboration that is not happening right now.

      2. I work for a small company downtown and our bosses have said we will come back into the office as soon as there is a safe and effective vaccine accessible and available. Unlike much of the tech worker class, I won’t have a choice in the matter absent any extraordinary circumstances. Personality wise, I’m not at all bummed out by working at home: Other than potentially more effective office collaboration, I don’t miss the draining day to day realities of office politics, toxic personalities, small talk, judgemental natures and sitting or standing on a crowded bus stopping and starting in traffic. Then again, I’m on the middle aged side and have experienced enough of the former to be justifiably exhausted by them.

        The social creature aspect for me misses the capability to publicly patronize art, culture, sporting events, and travel.

  2. The crowding tool is kind of cool! It is however confusing because it should be between stations rather than at a station. If it’s supposed to be showing crowding after it leaves a station, why are there riders at the end station?

    It highlights how U-Link is tied to UW as that area has much less use nowadays without many students on campus. Of course, Northgate opening in a few months will change that.

  3. I still think Boeing’s days are numbered in Everett and ST should seriously rethink sending Link out to the current factory. Rather, the line should be diverted along Evergreen.

    1. How about we put the Evergreen line where it’s going, so since the factory buildings are already there, we can provide railcar-builders with a fast ride from Rainier Valley straight to work. In addition to job-openings for Link operating personnel to get them there.

      Since Louis was a Saint before history applied his name to streetcars, at a modest price we can maybe gift Everett with “Saint Louis Car Company” for a name and logo. Really need to look up the Latin for “What’ve We Got To Lose?

      And even better, if we do something else I also advocate, and start manufacturing our fleet right there instead of just assembling it? And hang catenary over a spur to Port of Everett, so climate change can assist our world-wide maritime deliveries?

      Which leads up to news that should really be a posting.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbFu1aaOsJc

      In addition to Funeral Services, which certainly can also use this program, Lake Washington Tech’s Precision Machining is all done in SolidWorks.

      Which can let you send skysails to production over espresso in both Ballard and Mercer Island on the same trip, before your night ship starts in Everett. So leave the line alone, Jordan, The Best Is Yet to Come!

      Mark Dublin

    2. @jordan I think you’ve got it backwards – the whole point of sending Link out to the current factory (from ST/Everett’s POV) is to have the option of brownfield redevelopment if and when the factory closes.

      1. @Frank I’ve never heard of that rationale nor in the studies that they’re planning on brownfield redevelopment for the Boeing everett factory.

        The main reason why link is going that way is to connect with Paine field and for the jobs at everett factory.

        Honestly evergreen way makes much more sense than swinging over to paine field.

      2. What happened was a German firm (Siemens, I believe) was looking at placing a factory complex in Snohomish around Boeing/Paine Field, and they asked the County what high capacity transit options would be feeding the sites. The County responded with highways, highways, more highways. The Germans recoiled in horror, took their toys and left. Ever since Snohomish has been positively frantic about getting Link (and Swift) to the Paine Field area so they can attract investment.

  4. Alex, I think you mean without MORE government support some transit agencies are facing draconian cuts.

    Covid-19 is a double hit for transit: a quick and dramatic loss of ridership, and a steep reduction of general tax revenues that help subsidize transit.

    The good news is unlike a systemic financial recession like in 2009 there is a vaccine that has been discovered and will be disseminated in an astounding 7 months. Not only that, citizen savings rates have increased dramatically during the shelter in place orders so once vaccinated they will have money to spend, and my guess is get out of the house.

    For transit, and for Urbanism in general too, the issue is to what degree transit ridership recovers post pandemic, and that probably has two phases: 1. 2021-22 which will be a period of economic recovery, and 2. post 2022 when the fear of crowded transit is gone and full economic recovery is in place. Most transit agencies simply don’t have the money to keep frequency without the riders to support it. So transit frequency will have to recover when ridership recovers, although I understand some think that is backwards. “Build it and they will come” is great for a fantasy baseball story but not mass transit.

    I don’t think there is any doubt that commuter transit ridership will decline in the future, but I have no idea how much. People might like transit, but no one likes commuting to work on transit. It is time consuming, stressful, and a daily slog. If someone wins the lottery they usually give up the commute to work on transit.

    I think transit has to get away from justifying itself with things like global warming, density, affordable housing, or Urbanism. Those are not transit’s job.
    Mass transit post 2022 is going to have a lot of competition: 1. working from home; 2. Uber/Lyft; 3. driverless Uber/Lyft; 4. cars.

    Most folks don’t love transit like some on this blog. They will choose convenience and cost, no matter what the form of transportation is. So transit is going to have to compete harder on convenience, while at the same time beating its competition on price, which means prioritizing routes and frequency because those are big costs, especially if governments begin to insist on greater fare recovery. If transit’s ridership goes driverless transit better be prepared to as well, otherwise it won’t even be cost competitive.

    What an economic recovery will return is traffic congestion. I think longer rail runs into and out of urban areas will compete with cars because they have grade separation, people think rail service is predictable timewise, it is less aggravation, less crowded, and cost competitive, IF THERE IS CONVENIENT FIRST/LAST MILE ACCESS. If you throw on a bus ride to the train then all the advantages rail has disappear. TOD’s will never create the ridership necessary to support light rail. It may seem counterintuitive, but the fact is most people don’t see driving to a park and ride (to catch a train) as a first seat. The definitely see taking a bus to catch a train as a first seat, and that is a big problem. I don’t think many on the eastside voted for East Link thinking they would be taking a bus to the train.

    I think local bus service is going to get killed by Uber/Lyft for short runs, and that was happening pre-pandemic. Bikes will never account for more than 2% of all trips.

    Finally, for urban areas including downtown Seattle transit and Urbanism depend on one common factor: street safety. If you are going to walk about, leave a bike out or ride a bike, or wait for a bus on the street, it has to be safe, and by safe I mean safe for a woman. That is what killed condo values in Belltown: the wife felt like a prisoner in the condo. Urbanists think urbanism depends on housing density, but in reality it depends on retail density. That depends on the number of people on the street because the more people generally the more safe someone feels, and attracting outside shoppers who probably will be driving to the “Urbanist” oasis.

    Not only that, but in a post working from home world workers will get to choose when and how much to go into the office, and that will depend a lot on the after work scene. Right now Seattle is killing itself with its progressive approaches to crime and homelessness, and those will kill retail which will kill urbanism which will kill transit. Long suburban bus routes are not very profitable.

    In the future I think transit will have to choose between number of routes and frequency. Neighborhood advocates will clamor for more routes, but that will come at the expense of frequency, which can make transit too inconvenient to compete for riders.

    Finally you have the elephant in the room and that is Amazon. Amazon is killing brick and mortar retail. At the same time the mild upzoning in residential neighborhoods Urbanists are demanding (thinking it will allow them to continue to live in those wealthier neighborhoods) will never create the kind of density for true Urbanism, and street retail. The irony is real Urbanism and retail vibrancy should be in downtown Seattle, except some of the least expensive rents are now in downtown Seattle, because it is not seen as safe, which will continue to decimates the retail density.

    I mean, what kind of real Urbanist wants to live in a mildly upzoned Phinney Ridge?

    These are just my thoughts as someone who is agnostic on transit. For me anyway, transit is not completive because it is so less convenient than driving or Uber/Lyft. I sometimes question the amounts of limited public tax revenue we are pouring into transit, and my guess is the pendulum is going to swing back the other way to less general fund subsidies for transit.

    Going forward I think the debate will be routes or frequency, because we won’t be able to afford both. So look where the competition is too difficult for transit (Uber/Lyft, cars) , and concentrate frequency on the other routes (light rail for longer trips, and equity). Or go with much less frequency.

    1. Our existing light rail competes with cars very well for Capitol Hill to UW. The planned light rail competes with cars poorly from Tacoma to Seattle. Longer is not necessary better. Ballard->UW light rail, if it would ever be built, we would also compete very well with cars.

      1. For Tacoma, it’s more about getting light rail to SeaTac. I remember attending the Tacoma mayoral debates many years ago for a civics class, Strickland mentioned the need for a light rail connection to the airport numerous times. Not once did she mention Seattle. For almost all commuters going that far, Sounder will be a better option.

      2. asdf2, the UW is probably the densest area of the region when school is in with the least parking, and a pretty athletic and young student body who can walk easily but might not be able to afford a car at that point in their lives, but are at a point when an urban lifestyle is fun. Probably the perfect combination for transit, including bikes, no matter where the rider is coming from. I attended the UW for 7 years, and even though I owned a car most of that time never drove to school. I walked, biked or took a bus. Rail simply replaced all the buses that accessed the UW.

        The other perfect transit spot pre-pandemic is downtown Seattle, at least during peak commuting hours. It is a shame downtown is not the Urban hub urbanists dream of. It has true housing density, used to have true retail density, great transit (except maybe west to east), and should be the true hub for Urban living. Capitol Hill is more hopping than downtown Seattle.
        Not remote mildly upzoned residential neighborhoods in north Seattle that often need a two seat ride to get anywhere.

        Many posts compare our city to European cities for density and walkable retail, but never consider they are talking about those cities’ downtown cores. Those cities have suburbs too, and exurban neighborhoods, but the action is downtown.

        What is missing here is a safe, walkable urban core in downtown Seattle with true retail density. You would think an Urbanist dream would be to live in Pioneer Square, or south, or Belltown, and even though those areas are more affordable today they are not very popular because of street safety and declining retail and restaurant activity (pre-pandemic). I am sorry, but I just don’t think Northgate is “urban”, and if I wanted a real urban life it wouldn’t be in a residential neighborhood with some mild upzoning and a Safeway. To me Urban means true retail density, not a Korean grocer on the corner.

        On the eastside we just don’t get this fascination with mild upzones of residential neighborhoods. Why? There will never be any kind of walkable retail with that mild of density, and Metro could never afford to provide the transit to all those neighborhoods anyway. All you do is ruin the residential character of the neighborhood. If you want to upzone, or live an urban life on the eastside, go to the downtowns: Bellevue, Redmond, Issaquah and so on, although not very dense except Bellevue. Not the Sammamish plateau.

        What European cities do well is draw a strict boundary for retail. Here we have retail spread out all over the place. It is the retail that is not walkable, and how can you have Urbanism without walkable retail? Seattle just has no core, even to drive to.

      3. For Tacoma, it’s more about getting light rail to SeaTac.

        That argument never made sense to me, for several reasons:

        1) Has that ever been a priority, for any city? It took Chicago years and years to connect one the premier public transit systems to the airport. Back when Chicago was the second biggest city in the U. S., and O’Hare the busiest airport, you had to take the bus (or a cab) between the two.

        2) Prior to the pandemic, SeaTac had less than 6,000 riders a day. This is with an outstanding connection to downtown Seattle (and the UW and various neighborhoods in Seattle). These dwarf the size of Tacoma. How many riders do you expect? Why are those riders so important?

        3) Link will connects to the airport, but it won’t connect to downtown Tacoma. Nor will it connect to Hilltop, UW Tacoma, UPS, or any of the more densely populated parts of Tacoma. That means just about everyone in Tacoma will have to take a bus to the Tacoma Dome (or East Tacoma, which is essentially a freeway station) and then transfer to the train. How is that better than transferring in Federal Way? (The question is rhetorical — it isn’t).

        4) The bus that runs between SeaTac and Tacoma is the 574. It is never full and runs every half hour. But you think you can fill trains?

        5) The most popular runs of the 574 occur before 4:00 AM. Link doesn’t run then.

        It just doesn’t add up. Focusing your mass transit system on the airport is a bad idea for most cities, but it is crazy for a city the size of Tacoma. Tacoma needs good transit for the people who travel within Tacoma — unfortunately they will spend billions on something else.

      4. It may or may not be crazy but it’s what the people’s representatives in Pierce wanted, who were the ones vested to make that decision.

        The ultimate motivation behind it is to attract employers and workers to Pierce County.to improve its economy and tax base. Employers are more influenced than average people by the ability to arrive by plane and take rapid transit to the city that wants their business, and it’s a recruiting plus for attracting nationwide job candidates (“We have a convenient transit network”), and the employers can picture employees happily commuting from south King County on it, and can picture themselves taking it back to the airport for business meetings or vacation or to visit their family. Whether that’s accurate or not, that’s the employer’s impression, and that’s (former) Mayor Strickland’s impression and the Pierce boardmembers’ impression.

      5. RossB, I’m not saying I agree with it. But that’s been the City of Tacoma’s wish for a long time. They believe it will help them attract business and conventions.

        In fact, I remember during that debate Strickland said “It’s Seattle-TACOMA Airport” and something about how unfair it was that only Seattle has a light rail to it. Obviously it makes sense to anyone with half a brain that Seattle would get it first.

      6. In defense of Tacoma’s fixation on the airport:

        1. Connections for workers. There should be solid ridership for the many people who work at the airport, at Alaska Airlines, etc. Why does the half-hourly 574 get mediocre ridership? I’m sure the fact that it runs half-hourly and sits in I5 traffic (no HOV lanes that far south) as something to do with it. Could we provide the same quality of service with bus lanes magically painted on I5 and buses running every 6 minutes? Well sure, but if you believe that is a productive counterargument, you probably also think we should be building a 2nd bus tunnel (i.e you may be both technically correct and largely unhelpful, like pointing out we could solve our housing crisis if we just occupied every vacant bedroom)

        2. Connections for travelers. While this might generate a small number of daily riders, it does generate a large number of unique annual riders. Similar to a P&R garage on the weekend, it is slightly useful to a very large number of people rather than very useful to a small number of people.

        3. Economic development. Prestige/Recruiting/Convenience. Important people want a train to the airport, whether it’s to help them close a business deal, snag an out of state convention, or pitch a new recruit. Insofar as perception is reality, the economic development value is real because Important People do more than just fly on planes. You can look at this as foolishness, but I put it in the same category as a streetcar: a project of limited mobility usefulness but very real economic development and place-making usefulness, for reasons I don’t understand but do acknowledge. If TDLE helps downtown Tacoma realize it’s development potential, I think many would consider it a success on that metric alone.

      7. “For almost all commuters going that far, Sounder will be a better option.”

        Only those that travel during rush hour. The rest lose out on the 594 and, instead get a train that takes a 30 minutes longer. Even the added frequency won’t make up for an additional 30 minutes of travel time.

        Enough people ride the 594 that midday Tacoma->Seattle trips should not be an afterthought.

      8. You would think an Urbanist dream would be to live in Pioneer Square, or south, or Belltown, and even though those areas are more affordable today they are not very popular

        Oh really? I didn’t know that. So I should be able to buy a 1 bedroom condo for less than 300 grand, like in West Seattle. Funny thing though — none of them show up. On the other hand, when I look for condos *over* 300 grand, there is a bunch in downtown. In fact *most* of them are in downtown.

        So please explain to me why housing prices are so high in downtown Seattle, if no one wants to live there?

        Your Seattle-is-dying drivel is getting old. Time to ramble on about something else.

      9. Why does the half-hourly 574 get mediocre ridership? I’m sure the fact that it runs half-hourly and sits in I-5 traffic (no HOV lanes that far south) has something to do with it.

        Wrong. There are plenty of buses that sit in traffic that get way more riders. There are plenty of buses that run every half hour that get way more riders. Besides, you still don’t get it. The most popular runs for the 574 are between 2:13 and 4:34 in the morning. Link doesn’t even run then. Go ahead, read page 155 of the last meaningful service report (https://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/documents/2020-service-implementation-plan.pdf). The only time the bus is even close to being full is 2:00 in the morning.

        Yes, ridership would go up if you ran the bus more often. Ridership per day goes up, but ridership per bus goes down. Instead of 20 riders per bus, you get 15. Woop-de-doo. Poor for a bus, but terrible for a train.

        Worth noting is that very few of those riders are actually coming from Tacoma. Only 387 get on at the Tacoma Dome. Lakewood gets over 200, as does SR 512. That is about 10 per bus.

        Oh, and a lot of people get off at Federal Way. So it is possible that there are folks going back and forth from the Tacoma Dome and Federal Way. As it turns out, that is a trip that will be just as fast on a bus. Faster if you start from downtown Tacoma (no transfer).

        Your arguments for this don’t make sense, as I pointed out:

        1. Connections for workers.
        2. Connections for travelers.

        Light rail from Seattle to SeaTac has less 6,000 riders, despite having four stations downtown, and a stop in the UW. Why do you think a couple of stops by the freeway are going to get more than that? If not, do you think it is worth spending all that money for so few riders?

        3. Economic development. Prestige/Recruiting/Convenience. Important people want a train to the airport, whether it’s to help them close a business deal, snag an out of state convention, or pitch a new recruit.

        What business deals are done at the Tacoma Dome? The train doesn’t go to downtown Tacoma! What prestige is there in asking people to transfer from a bus to a train in the middle of nowhere? People with money/influence are just going to take a cab the whole way. Almost everyone else will just drive, although I’m sure there will be people who take a bus and the train.

        Besides — have you ever read any report that credited the growth of a city to building a light rail line to the airport? Of course not. Good universities, cleaning up an old downtown or industrial waterfront, but never building light rail to the airport. It is absurd.

      10. “I just don’t think Northgate is “urban””

        I don’t think it’s that urban either. But it is getting a good collection of amenities, so that if you live there you don’t have to leave the neighborhood for a library, community center, healthcare, park and daylit creek, gym, office work, and with the pedestrian bridge, higher education. It’s still a work in progress. The new multistory apartment buildings are the usual modern ugliness and overscaling; that’s a failure of Americans’ imagination. The streets are large and the parking lots and strip malls give it a more suburban feel than closer in. But a lot of the excitement about Northgate is for the future.

      11. asdf2, and barman, isn’t it a few years early to judge how well light rail competes with cars on the Tacoma run? Whether longer is or is not better really depends on the quality of the line’s design and operation, doesn’t it?

        But Sounder now presents us with a question. Is it time to either buy or, depending on BN’s finances, rescue ourselves a passenger railroad? That line’s just got too many things to hit! Too many of them, trackside people.

        Whether we buy them from Sweden or just steal the idea of a bathroom-equipped consist with a locomotive at both ends, those “Pogue-A-Togues” are pretty much the caliber we need. Purple paint optional.

        And if Boeing’s really had enough of airplanes, at least those built in the UNITED States instead of the Confederate ones, they HAVE built a hydrofoil or two, haven’t they?

        A “Freeway-Free” ride the North-South length of the Sound might be proud to start its worklife on a flatcar from its sponsor’s converted former plant in Everett right down to the Port!

        For its maiden voyage to Olympia. Via Tacoma? Well everybody in Mukilteo, Edmonds, Seattle, Alki, Des Moines, and Brown’s Point knows that!

        Mark Dublin

      12. Northgate is basically a high density, inner suburb. It has more density than any place in Snohomish County. But if it was in Snohomish County, it would struggle getting ridership, just because of the distance to destinations. But consider the distance to other places:

        Roosevelt: 3 minutes
        U-District: 5 minutes
        Capitol Hill: 11 minutes
        Westlake: 13 minutes

        This is crucial, and will makeup for the fact that the station is so close to the freeway. That, and the natural convergence of buses to the station. That means that someone can walk out of their apartment, expect to see a bus at the bus stop, and expect that bus to get them quickly to the station. This, and the overall low travel time make taking transit more attractive to driving for a lot of locations in the city.

        Then you also have the clinics nearby as well as the college. That should help ridership a lot (and would help ridership even if the station was in Snohomish County). It is an all-day station, so in that sense, it is an “urban” station, even if its development is very suburban.

        I also think there is an “urban” mindset that comes from being in Seattle. If you rent an apartment there, you can expect good transit, and not own a car for that reason. This is different than renting an apartment in say, Auburn.

    2. Daniel, since I worry that my own word-count is needlessly increasing yours, one thing could really help both my understanding and my editing.

      To whatever extent your own privacy requires, what can you tell us about what you consider your trade? Especially what you really consider to be your “Line of Work.” Because the two of us could really be more on-page than either of us know.

      What you dislike about stat-servitude and bureaucracy, in general and from specific agencies, I’ve hated for more years than you’ve most likely lived. With a grip on so much wrong, in my own two hands. With the misbegotten accelerator linkage taking out my right knee-joint by the shift.

      Transit-wise, what breaks leaves cracks in the real world. Pre-Link running of the Tunnel….you woulda had to be there, so be really glad you weren’t. Some grammarian tell me: is there any such case as “The Passive Preventable?”

      But back to The Island, does your car even have a name? Google “Victoria Woodhull” and eat your heart out. I saw her first.

      Making her mine to save from incidents like the twin-fatality, four vehicle crash on SR167 that, starting well before sunrise yesterday morning, rendered everyplace attached to Renton inaccessible for several hours. Possible exception, the Length of Link.

      My point? While of all peoples the Romans never deserved the name, a massive chunk of passengers and “Operations” staff consider this all Romantic to the core. One problem as I see it’s educational. At Heart, where it Counts, “Liberal Arts” are totally Conservative.

      “Fare-care” is a Concentration Violation. Freedom Herself decrees What’s Slow Has Got To Go! Starting with the sheer number of cars forced against their will to turn an engineering marvel of a highway network into a crawling wrecking yard. Im-Prisoning their owners in a Cell straight out of Hell.

      No need to disclose it, but do you have a favorite drive? Based on traffic-close-observed, considering what-all your four-wheeled sweetheart does for you, she certainly deserves one.

      Mark Dublin

    3. Daniel, when this pandemic is over you are welcome to come visit us in our high rise, water view condo in Belltown and see what urban living is like. I do not know any women here who feel like they are prisoners due to safety issues. The area has transitioned from low rise offices to condos, 12 stories in my building. What has happened is bus service has seriously deteriorated due to no more buses on 1st, and the loss of the waterfront trolley. But I’m an optimist and hope that buses along Alaskan Way will one day appear.
      Pre COVID I happily and confidently rode buses and I continue to enjoy the location where I have chosen to live.

      1. Deborah, glad to see you’re here. Because years of painful personal experience leave me with this.

        In 1967, a large percentage of Detroit’s non-African-American population decided to face the city’s problems by what the military would term as “Breaking and Running.” Leaving a poverty-stricken city full of working class homes that’d make Medina look blighted.

        Thanks to Arctic warming, a lot of them by now have finally reached the “Sami” country known to the world as “Lappland.” Whose population weirdly faces age-old prejudice I still can’t comprehend.

        That tough little bull-dog of a five year old girl on my streetcar, carrying a stuffed ram and accusing all us fellow-passengers of being “Sah-mi!” Sweetheart, how can you even tell one from a Swede?

        Compounding the corporate defunding of the Detroit’s industrial economy by removing and scattering the whole enterprise to both the suburbs and the winds.

        Luckily, it’s different here. Seattle’s Pacific port facilities combine with a beautiful setting and a mild climate to attract a population just by being here.

        So Seattle, just use the present search for immunology as a time to rest and plan and gather new reserves of energy. To paraphrase Lloyd Benson as he flattened young Dan Quayle in that debate all those Elections back:

        “Seattle, I knew Detroit, and you are not, nor will you ever be, Detroit.”

        Mark Dublin

      2. You mean it isn’t like Fort Apache, the Bronx? Golly-gee Deborah, I don’t know who to believe. Someone who has repeatedly gotten his facts wrong, or someone who actually lives there.

        Seriously though, thanks for the insight.

    4. I really don’t see how Uber/Lyft and driverless cars will ever compete with transit. Even with the best case scenario with maximum fantasies by those promoting vaporware segments of driverless car technology, the best suggested following distance is 1/2 second. You need more than this on highways for safe merging and lane changes. So, you’ll still have roads beyond carrying capacity during heavy commute hours. A bus with 20 passengers on it represents several blocks worth of stopped cars due to the space consumed.

      1. They will compete because people will prefer the convenience, privacy, extra space, whatever. If you mean ‘be as productive as moving people,’ then yes you are correct, they do not solve the geometry problem of limited road space. This is why both TNCs today and driverless cars tomorrow both increase congestion.

      2. Glenn, it’s ratchet-wrenches versus spanners in our tool-kit. Uber/Lift and Link/Rapid-Ride/ST-Express/Sounder, they’re not in competition. Different “wheels” for different rides.

        Maybe my time in East Africa inclines me to cabs because so many drivers are Somali’s. More likely it’s because I used to drive one, just never in Seattle.

        The Checker Marathon deserves museum space. Look them up online under “images.” Despite their size, and ease of boarding, handled like a dream and were easy on gas. And made in guess what country?

        Wait a minute! Does Seattle Art Museum still have those cabs hanging from the ceiling trailing sparks that look like light-bulbs? Maybe somebody can dismount them and start giving those horse-powered carriages some nostalgic competition when Pioneer Square comes back to life!

        Mark Dublin

      3. When they have driverless taxis they will have driverless buses. Fixed routes still make more sense. They are still the most efficient use of vehicles and still the fastest way to move lots of people. If everyone took a cab in New York the city wouldn’t move.

        Transit also scales. The more people ride, the more frequent the buses can come, which leads to more riders. Driverless buses dramatically cut the costs — like the Seattle transit levy many times over.

        Routes also change for the better. Transfers aren’t as big a deal if the buses (or trains) are very frequent. This allows for a system that is much straighter, and much more of a grid. Trips everywhere get a lot faster, with less waiting.

    5. Pine Street between 4th and 7th is so thick with pedestrians midday, Saturdays, even down to 9pm, that it can be hard to walk through them. Some of them got there on transit. It’s concentrations like that and Pike Place and the library why the buses and Link are busy all day. Sure, there’s no huge traffic jam downtown midday, but there are still a lot of people traveling around. The traffic jam is on I-5 between Northgate and downtown. That’s partly why we’re building Link to Northgate, to have an alternative to buses stuck in traffic. The express lanes only help limited hours in one direction.

      Downtown has a lot of highrise housing but it doesn’t have the right balance. The retail core is mostly boutiques, extras for affluent shoppers. There’s not the kind of supermarkets and everyday stores that people living in a neighborhood need, other neighborhoods have, and Vancouver’s West End has. There’s a shortage of schools, although the city is working on it. It doesn’t have as many pedestrian plazas as European cities, and the ones it does have (Westlake Park) aren’t as vibrant or filled with everyday residents. I’m not completely sure why: part of it is the less pedestrian-friendly architecture and the US not giving the homeless anywhere else to go. Part of it is Americans don’t walk as much or sit outside as much. The four-lane streets are less pedestrian-friendly and inviting than many European streets. To me there’s “too much concrete”; I prefer a more residential, mixed use area with everyday amenities like Capitol Hill, Ballard, or the U-District. I like walkable urbanism but I don’t particularly want to live in a 20-story highrise like one couple I knew who moved to a First Hill highrise because it reminded them of New York where they’re from.

      “but no one likes commuting to work on transit. It is time consuming, stressful, and a daily slog.”

      I like the convenience and lack of stress of not having to drive, the ability to read or take a rest while traveling, and the atmosphere of being with people as a contrast to my apartment and office cubicle, and being able to save the money I would have spent on maintaining a car or taking a taxi.

      “Urbanists think urbanism depends on housing density, but in reality it depends on retail density. ”

      It depends on a balance between housing and retail, and a wide enough range of retail that people don’t have to leave the neighborhood or extended neighborhood most of the time. Vancouver’s West End, Yaletown, Kitsilano, Broadway, and Metrotown have a good balance. Note that they’re different densities. Some are high density, some are lowrise, some have a lot of duplexes.

      “If you throw on a bus ride to the train then all the advantages rail has disappear.”

      Some advantage disappears. How much is relative to various aspects of the total trip’s infrastructure, and the person taking it. Lower-density neighborhoods can’t expect a one-seat ride because they don’t have enough people to support it.

  5. Without a hundred years of Government support, Alex, starting with the likes of the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean, would automobiles have ever had any service to Draconially “cut?”

    Caution on D-word. Too late for Halloween but still a warning: just stick with Christopher Lee movies and don’t ever look him up!

    And without a lot of help from both China and Ireland, whose songs really did have the indispensible rhythm and “ring” of a spike-driving hammer, would the highway system even have a 4000×2500 mile wide country to finally self-immobilize with single drivers in their cars?

    I seem to remember a comment declaring that Everett Link will always draw I-5 motorists’ pity for slowness. Is this based on grades and curves, inferior power-package on the wheels, or just Policy? If the Region needs a locomotive at both ends of every train, southern Sweden’s already got them. Toilets included.

    If present trends hold, Global warming could really save us trans-arctic shipping time. With those giant kites called Sky-Sails in use aboard tankers, late Port of Seattle train deliveries could really be our Grand-Dads’ problem.

    But just a “Put-Yourself-In-Someone’s Boots” imagination. With this morning’s ridership-stats on your computer, if you’d just substituted last year’s 12/3 ridership stats and given LCC the go-ahead….if I was your boss why would today’s shift not be your last?

    Mark Dublin

  6. “The [Snohomish] County presents worsening figures for housing affordability, as new housing grew 7% slower than new households”

    There’s why housing prices are increasing. The vacancy rate is going down even in Snohomish County, and more people are competing for the same unit, so landlords raise the price and choose the top-paying applicants, shutting those in the bottom half out. They wouldn’t be able to do that if housing supply grew to keep up with demand, because there wouldn’t be increased competition for their particular units. The same thing happened in Seattle, where Seattle was building 9 new units for every 12 new jobs.

  7. Dow Constantine is expected to make a major announcement later today about the convention center expansion. I hope we don’t end up with a gaping hole downtown for years to come.

    1. Given how much is already built, it’s more likely to be a towering skeleton than a gaping hole.

    2. Yes, I have to walk across the street several times a week to walk past the towering skeleton with the closed sidewalk. The block east of it is also closed for another construction project that has gone on for many months, so in practice you have to cross the street for two blocks (which is really four blocks because the intermediate streets don’t go through). But the dog park with its running hounds is a nice mitigation.

    3. https://www.kingcounty.gov/elected/executive/constantine/news/release/2020/December/03-convention-center.aspx

      > King County Executive Dow Constantine today announced a financing package of $100 million to the Washington State Convention Center, which faces a $300 million financing-crunch that threatens to mothball the project, sending hundreds of construction workers home and putting future economic development at risk.
      > One concept under consideration is a $100 million loan to the Convention Center that would come from the County’s available cash in its investment pool, which is currently about $3.4 billion.

      1. So they’re bailing out a project we didn’t need in the first place that doesn’t have a chance in hell of being necessary in 15 years or probably longer

        Great fucking job wasting money, Constantine. Just pay the workers to change it over to a 20 story low income building owned by the county. Would be a much better use of the space.

      2. The WSCC already has a $100M loan from KCM on very favorable (i.e. below inflation) terms, so this is Dow doubling down on the financial engineering that made the WSCC expansion possible in the first place.

        It would also be nice if instead we just sold off the WSCC (even half-built, it’s a valuable piece of land) and gave KCM their money back.

      3. Dow doesn’t seem to believe in sunk costs or putting good money after bad. This frankly is a horrible plan on so many levels.

        1) The interest rate the market would demand is probably more like ~4%, not 1%, based on the bonds that are trading in the market. Why the sweetheart deal? Coincidentally the developer is a big campaign donor.

        2) It is a risky investment (the WSCC senior bonds were downgraded this summer to BBB+, down from AA- pre-pandemic. Typically short-term government funds are allocated to higher-quality investments.

        3) Then there is the diversification issue. Besides Treasuries and other US government securities, does the County have any single investment that represents $100M in its portfolio? (never mind one that is nearly insolvent in a dying industry that is dependent on an unstable tax source).

        4) When are conventions coming back? Will they ever? And even if they do, will they pick Seattle?

        The WSCC is a leech on our public finances. Think how much affordable housing could’ve been constructed with the hotel tax revenue over the past 30 years! There is a reason the private sector doesn’t build huge convention centers – they are incredibly capital intensive and spectacularly unprofitable.

  8. ST2 Link makes some good sense. Especially if the Legislature was not going to implement variable tolling on the limited access highway network. A great bus-based network could have been implemented in East King County with tolling. Anon misses the network impact of bus-Link connections. Link penetrates several urban centers where bus transit is very slow: downtown Seattle, Capitol Hill, and the University District.

    ST decisions and their allegiance to the Link spine were greatly impacted by the three-county district developed by former Representative Fisher, Chair of the House Transportation Committee and author of the enabling legislation. The ST decisions to build in freeway envelopes were their own. The ST decisions to be cheap with operations are their own.

    The sale of CPS to the WSCC led to the premature end of bus operation in the DSTT and ridership decline in 2019.

    1. “Especially if the Legislature was not going to implement variable tolling on the limited access highway network. A great bus-based network could have been implemented in East King County with tolling”.

      Tolling is not designed to benefit transit. HOT lanes are designed to manage car congestion and create revenue for highway construction. HOV lanes benefit transit and are a selling point for transit during peak commutes. But there is no need to implement variable tolling to create a bus-based network. In fact much of 405 and 167 have HOT lanes, or variable tolling, already. Transit needs to offer something cars don’t if it hopes to succeed, rather than trying to disadvantage the competition. On the eastside at least, the two advantages transit has are: 1. congestion; and 2. the cost of parking. Both of these are only relevant for peak commuters.

      You can’t say a great-bus based network could have been implemented in East King Co. because East King Co. is so huge, and has such little density. HOT lanes would not have made a difference, and have not made a difference in transit on the eastside. Buses in some areas, especially along the very congested 405 corridor, are viable. Express buses to Seattle and the UW are popular. But those are pretty limited peak hour buses if they want to compete with cars.

      And then you have the same issue with buses on the eastside you have with East Link: first/last mile access, which is primarily park and rides, whether a train or a bus, or a bus to a train.

      When the 550 had access to the DSTT and used the center roadway across I-90 it had the highest ridership of any ST bus. That dropped by 1/3 when the 550 was eliminated from the DSTT, and I doubt East Link will carry more riders post pandemic than the various buses that traversed I-90, although ST has estimated 50,000 riders/day by 2030 which was never going to happen even before working from home.

      Before East Link Eastsiders had pretty good transit across the lake, especially with access to the DSTT and the dedicated I-90 center roadway. East Link isn’t going to be a revelation or dramatic change in transit on the eastside from the 550, and for many it will mean a second seat in their commute.

      1. You can’t say a great-bus based network could have been implemented in East King Co. because East King Co. is so huge, and has such little density.

        Oh come on. Just look at the Eastside transit map: https://seattletransitmap.com/eastside/. Generally speaking, The thin lines are buses running every half hour while the thick ones are running every 15 minutes. (The lines that have faded out are suspended due to the pandemic).

        Now imagine everything doubling. All those 30 minute routes are running every 15. Fifteen minute routes are running every 7.5. The latter is probably overkill — run them every ten minutes. But also run 15 minutes buses to places like Saint Edwards. Also remember there is STride plans for 405. Throw in a similar express along I-405, but one that goes to the UW (e. g. from the main UW campus to UW Bothell, stopping only at the freeway stops). Oh, and don’t forget East Link, which will make the main connection (downtown Bellevue/Redmond to downtown Seattle).

        That all adds up to a very good transit system. Way better than what the Issaquah to South Kirkland rail line will add.

        Of course it doesn’t go everywhere. Of course there will be people who drive to a park and ride, whether it is an official park and ride, or just a spot on the street. So what? It is still a much better transit system and would work for a huge portion of the population. There are plenty of people who live in apartments on the East Side and there are plenty of routes that cover low density areas fairly well. Even the extremely low density areas of Mercer Island get covered to a decent level via the 204.

    2. The WSCC accelerated the end of bus operations by only nine months. ST’s design for East Link, which was implemented during Connect 2020, has a maintenance turn track for East Link that’s incompatible with buses somehow. I don’t know how it’s incompatible, but that’s what ST said.

      1. Orr. The actual Connections 2020 project was different and less intrusive than that imagined in about 2015. Link headway was not planned to be reduced to four minutes until East Link; it was planned at six-minutes for Northgate; that is the same as it was under joint operations. But for the CPS sale, the track inside IDS eliminated the bus layover, but not buses going through the DSTT. It is all theoretical now; the WSCC project was launched.

        Thompson. No, actually tolling is designed to partly improve transit flow. It was explicit in the SR-520 project. Consider the huge freeway stations at Evergreen Point and 92nd Avenue NE and the center access ramp at 108th Avenue NE. The gaps in the I-405 HOT lanes were placed partly with bus routes in mind. A key benefit of reduced congestion is better flow by transit and freight. Auto-access riders are a minority of Eastside transit riders; most are walk access. Of course, bus transit will be important in all areas; Link and bus complement each other. in 2023, many bus hours now used to cross the lake will be able to stay on the Eastside and reduce waiting. Riders that reach East Link stations will have good access to Overlake, Bellevue, and downtown Seattle.

      2. That is a great plan Ross for eastside bus service if you can afford it, and you have the riders for it especially during non-peak times, but what does it have to do with HOT lanes, which was my point? When you write the 204 provides decent levels of transit service on Mercer Island I take it you are being facetious. It made me laugh. I am guessing you are not familiar with the topography of Mercer Island, or the 204’s route.

    3. You simply have to complete the convention center. Granted when Norm Rice could have purchased the entire Two Union Square for less than the original convention center without permanently restricting I-5 I said he was an idiot, but that was pretty much a given.

      The expansion made sense when Seattle was the chic city, with cruise ships and tech workers. Tourism is a cash cow, and that cash cow supports transit and just about everything else, especially service industries and retail. You want “Urbanism” you better have tourism, because few things are as dense as a major hotel, with zero social service costs and taxes on everything from rental cars to hotels to sale tax, to you name it.

      Only amateurs, or progressives, misunderstand the critical role of tourism revenue.

      The same thing that makes bikes a very poor transit option in Seattle makes tourism a gold mine: we live on the 48th parallel. When our weather is pleasant the usual tourism spots are unbearable (Tom Terrific: climate refugees) or it is hurricane season. No one really wants to fly all the way to the remote northwest corner of the U. S., except the Jones Act was amended so they didn’t have to fly to Vancouver to catch a cruise ship to Alaska and go through customs (thank you Patty Murray), and the rest of country is too damn hot.

      And Seattle was suddenly cool: the former strip joint city had become fashionably “grunge”.

      Then our council blew it, and now we are a homeless camp.

      I have always noted tourism is the pure Urbanism, except tourists are older and much wealthier. Urbanists a lot of the time come with huge social costs, and whininess, and don’t by $15 martinis, or tip. As a former bartender I can tell you I hated “urbanists’ (and nurses, although you have to be a bartender or waitress to understand that). Urbanists are terrible tippers, because generally they are young and broke.

      The pandemic will end. Seattle has some great advantages, especially when it comes to tourists, who tend to be white, fat and old, and afraid of any urban area, like a dentist convention. Luckily Seattle is pretty much all white, and on the water. But that is what is subsidizing your terribly inefficient transit. Sure they probably rent a car or use Uber, but all of that is taxed.

      The real and fundamental issue we really don’t talk about enough is tourism — like transit and Urbanism — depends on safe streets. No tourist travels to Baltimore, if they don’t have to.

      You want more transit frequency and routes, you want tourists.

      Unfortunately some terrible national press and a very foolish council that is too young to remember Seattle when it was mostly nudie shows (and before Bellevue became the paragon of rich, white, older folks) don’t understand you respect the customer so you have the revenue to do all the progressive things you want to do.

      You don’t demand Amazon moves to Bellevue with every other tech company (come on, tech companies choosing Bellevue over Seattle — what the hell is wrong with this picture), and trumpet defund the police so Republicans control the Senate, narrow the house margin to a razor, and sweep the state legislature during a census year when every district gets redrawn (hint: gerrymandering which our conservative Supreme Court, before Amy Barrett, held is a political and not legal issue.

      Unless you think real Republicans favor transit.

      I went to law school with Dow. He was very mild and quiet. But at least he understands tourism is a cash cow. The bigger convention center the bigger the convention, the bigger the tax revenue. If our council doesn’t begin to understand money Seattle is screwed. Will cruise ships stop coming to Seattle or cruise hurricane waters. Of course not, but their passengers will be taken to Bellevue, and you know Bellevue is exactly what tourists think Seattle used to be, without the slight coolness or salt water.

      All the pros play for the money, except the progressives, because they have none. They want everyone to be poor. Get as much tax revenue as you can, and fight over how to spend to it, rather than arguing over whether to get the tax revenue in the first place. Think like the money thinks.

      1. I agree tourism is a super important part of Seattle’s economy, both in jobs and tax revenue. I’m just skeptical the convention center is an important contributor to our tourism economy, underscored by the vast parking lot being constructed – what business traveler is flying into Seattle and renting car? Studies show that conventions are like sports arenas – most the economic activity generates are dollars that would have been spent in the region anyways. We aren’t Vegas or Orlando. What major conventions does Seattle host that bring in large amounts of out-of-state visitors?

      2. AJ: I believe Emerald City Comicon in late August tends to bring a huge crowd. That is the only one I am personally aware of, but I imagine there are a few others.

      3. Yes, ComiCon is big, and some other costume convention. I live near Convention Place so I see them all the time. They’re bigger than the conventions I attend, which are around 2000. There’s also a spring cherry-blossom festival although I don’t remember how large it is. If this were a normal year I could count the large ones that spill heavily onto the street and report back next year.

        The stated reason for the expansion is that Seattle has to turn down a lot of large conventions because it doesn’t have space. Every multi-day convention has a few days of setup and takedown before and after it, when it can’t book another one in the space. If we had built it during the 2008 recession when the state had an opportunity to, then we would have gotten all that convention money in the 00s and 10s. Now we’re in the position of building it during a pandemic that might depress convention attendance for a generation.

        I wonder if the building could be converted to housing if conventions evaporate.

      4. iMike, If you believe that convention attendance will be depressed for a generation by the pandemic, then you must also believe that in-person office employment will be depressed for a generation by the pandemic, correct? If not, can you explain why one and not the other?

        I’ll play my own devil’s advocate and give one possible reason then refute it: the economy. Yes, the economy will be terrible for a while, especially in the younger crowd, who are most likely to go to such events. But the same was true in 2007-2010 and if you look at the Comicon attendance numbers, they almost tripled in that period.

        So, having already eliminated the poor economy as a reason for the depressed convention numbers, can you provide any _other_ factors why convention attendance will be very low but office employment will be back to normal? You or anyone else, I suppose, I am genuinely interested.

        Thanks in advance.

      5. Also, apologies for the stray “i” at the beginning, I did not mean to turn Mike’s name into a new Apple brand name. :)

      6. Going to a local office is different from flying to a convention for a few days. I don’t think conventions will disappear, I’m just speculating that maybe fewer people will attend them and they’ll go less often, so the conventions will be smaller.

        Also, this year many conferences have gone online and are pleased with the result. The cost is much lower because you’re not paying for space or catering, so tickets may be $150 instead of $500. There are three or four times as many attendees, so more people can benefit from the talks. That many in-person attendees would be difficult for conference administrators to scale up; and the larger you get, the fewer venues that can accommodate you and the higher prices.

        There’s still no good substitute for hallway chatting and meeting people and social evenings, but perhaps that will come with time or smaller in-person side events. There are various web-based substitutes, like topic “tables” you can “sit” at, or “room” where you can hear people’s voices if your avatar is near them, and online karaoke. I haven’t gotten much out of them but maybe their successors will be better.

      7. Daniel, do you have any evidence to support your assertion that homeless individuals are causing a negative impact on Seattle ‘s tourism?

      8. SuperComputing is another big, traveling conference (really a technical/scientific conference + education + huge trade show around high performance computing) that has been in Seattle a couple times, but hasn’t been back since 2011 because of the limited size of the convention center (that year, the conference filled up the entire convention center plus the convention spaces of the Sheraton, Hilton, Hyatt, etc.). At this point, the conference is limited to cities with very large convention centers like Atlanta, New Orleans, and Denver. I think the conference tends to draw ~20,000-25,000 and includes infrastructure upgrades like fiber optic networking.

        As much as I dislike the idea of the convention center, I selfishly wouldn’t mind having SC be local again…

      9. This is all missing the point. The convention center expansion was a bad idea before the pandemic. Nothing has changed.

        We aren’t alone. Here is a nice report from before the pandemic: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/20050117_conventioncenters.pdf. Notice the bullet point items:

        1) Convention center business is declining overall.
        2) There is an “arms race” when it comes to conventions.

        Consider what this means. Lots and lots of cities are expanding to hold really big conventions. But there is no reason to believe that there will be more bigger conventions. If Saint Louis was the only city to have a really big convention center, it could very well be with it. They would hold all of the big conventions. But with dozens of large convention centers, the few really big conventions will be spread out. There is no reason to believe they will choose Seattle, especially for the nine months that it isn’t very nice here.

        Which leaves the third point. In an effort to attract business, cities offer big discounts. It is like how cities spend a fortune to attract businesses, but fail to get any promises for them to stay. Great for businesses, bad for the cities.

        It is a big article, but just look at the chart. City after city has seen attendance numbers *drop* after a big expansion. This is just a terrible way to spend public money. Even if your goal was to attract tourist dollars there are lots betters way to spend it.

      10. @RossB: Just to be clear, I am not advocating for the expansion, but the question was asked (and the answer was provided) regarding convention center usage. I take it you do not wish to disagree with the stated current usage of the convention center, either, correct?

        To your specific point about expansions leading to decreased usage of the space. To some extent it is not surprising. The new center would have higher prices and a preference for hosting larger events, which will be more sparse. To some extent, it is probably a better example of the phenomenon Daniel Thompson keeps pointing out, in that remodeling leads to increased rental costs, just in a different space (commercial short-term specialized spaces, rather than residential).

    4. Alex, interest rates are at historic lows. Like zero. There is zero risk a King Co. backed bond would default. Zero. Seattle was one of the top convention centers in the U.S., especially during the summer. That is why they are expanding the convention center. A dental convention can require 5000 rooms. The number of service jobs conventions and the convention support is huge.

      Affordable housing is the leech. Really the poor are the leech. Where do you think the hotel tax has gone over the years? A convention center, and a large convention in general, if our city council understands the importance of street safety, is what feeds the leeches.

      Although I oppose the idea at least Dow understands this issue, which is why he wants to tax the county 1/10th of one percent sales tax to buy distressed hotels to house Seattle’s homeless, with those hotels of course being in cities like Kent and Renton, although those cities have caught on. If conventions are going to return, and Seattle retail recover after the pandemic, the homeless can’t be on the streets. Or the money — whether it is tourists or just shoppers from the eastside — won’t come.

      I never have understood why progressives hate money, when they need it the most. Pro tip: get the money, then fight over where to spend it.

      1. “Dow understands this issue, which is why he wants to tax the county 1/10th of one percent sales tax to buy distressed hotels to house Seattle’s homeless, with those hotels of course being in cities like Kent and Renton, although those cities have caught on. If conventions are going to return, and Seattle retail recover after the pandemic, the homeless can’t be on the streets.”

        Do you have any solution for the homeless? Or just “get them out of my neighborhood”? The decision to use those Renton and Shoreline hotels was the operator of a Seattle homeless congregate building. Seattle has taken the region’s burden of homeless services forever, and it’s time for the suburbs to do their share. The county’s push to house the homeless in hotels (not these two, but other ones) is partly a pandemic response for social distancing, and partly a measure to increase their quality of life to at least a private room rather than a matteress on the floor in a room with 200 others. The hotels in turn are because there’s not enough permanent housing for all of them. The reason there’s not enough permanent housing is the governments haven’t been building it. In contrast to a few other cities that have eliminated homelessness by building enough permanent housing, although they had a lower number of people to house and lower housing prices so it was easier. Massachusetts and some other northeastern states, according to a former STB member from there, has a constitutional guarantee to shelter, so the government has been building enough low-income housing all along for the incremental number who need it each year. This move to hotels, tiny-house villages, and eventual apartments is a convergence of humanitarian factors that have finally motivated the powers that be, not just an attempt to hide the homeless so tourists and workers like you won’t leave. The people who go to conventions at 8th & Pike are not affected by homeless clusters in Pioneer Square over a mile away.

      2. Honestly he sounds more like Ebenezer Scrooge at this point.

        Time for a winter’s eve visit from the hellish socialist dead!

      3. You may scorn “climate refugees”, but the western Sunbelt (e.g. the part of California dependent on the Colorado River and Arizona) only needs to shrink its population by 20% to send four million people this way.

        No, millions won’t flee hurricanes from the Gulf Coast by coming to the Northwest; they can’t afford it. But as the Colorado River fails, it is likely that people leaving Southern California will want to stay in a “Blue” part of the country.

        Northern California faces the same water stress problems and now has constant fires six months a year. There are no cities north of Sacramento and the Bay Area to snag them on the way north, and no more room in the Bay Area, certainly not enough to increase its population by 50%.

        So they will come to Portland and Puget Sound. Oregon has strict land use policies so it can’t absorb very many more immigrants, and Intel faces almost bleak a future as does Boeing. So figure at least three million forced immigrants by 2035 in addition to those attracted by more traditional values.

        Desalination and shifting to Phoenix-style xeroculture would certainly help the water problem, but a warmer but still abundantly watered Northwest will be increasingly attractive to those who have the means to move.

      4. With any luck, the mayor of Centralia or Longview will decide to upzone their towns so a large percentage of them don’t make it this far North.

        I am not actually kidding, I think that it would be perhaps better for everyone if this kind of growth was not concentrated just in Seattle (or Seattle and its suburbs, anyway). Doing some of it where land is cheap and transportation resources are available would in fact be a good thing, and it would go some way towards mitigating the view from the rest of the state that King County has all the power.

        As a final thought, I expect a lot of the OC refugees to be farther right politically than most of Seattle, so the Seattle left may in fact not wish for them all to move to the city, either. Otherwise Seattle may well turn into another OC itself.

    5. eddiew, we’re agreed about allowing the Convention Center to interfere at all with Tunnel buses at the worst possible time.

      But the truth was that, thanks to Management’s years’-long aversion to confusing Tunnel operators by training them to self-coordinate, bus-originating delays like 5pm fare- collection arguments at Westlake were already holding trains on MLK. Fare-disputes gone Regional.

      All in the past now, and deservedly forgotten. Which is Nature’s way of getting past arguments out of current ones’ way. Worst thing about old age is how nobody of working age even knows what I’m so mad about all the time, let alone cares.

      Mark Dublin

  9. Being from the Isles of the Old Country, Bruce, you doubtless know how many decades and centuries the average church and castle can expect to spend as partially-completed frames in a pile of rubble?

    Often AKA France, or even worse, England and its fellow Isles? Doubt the average British academic rhetorical society would choose The Debatable Lands for a fifth-form topic.

    Nobody ever said History is Fair. For Borders, we’ve got Canada and Mexico to gaze across in boredom. Not to mention the shorelines of a whole world’s worth of salt water. Beach-heads drown people. What I’ve read of Channel tides, Normandy, we barely got away with.

    We’ve also surely got the King of France to thank for Heaven’s own diversion. A steady supply of Trudeau’s has spared both our National Defense and Criminal Justice sectors from the consequences of a certain Letter King William delivered to somebody named Campbell one winter night.

    On their way to bunk with the MacDonalds out there in the snow at Glencoe. Word to both sides on the face-off of 2020. Compared to the entire rest of the world, one thing that 330 million of us are NOT is (gasp-sob-sob-sob) DIVIDED. And BTW:

    The one in Ireland? A Viking trading town. Back home in Austro-Hungarian “Galicia?” Grand-dad’s “U” was a long one.

    Mark Dublin

  10. What are rubber-tired metros like? Do they have bus-like wheels rolling in narrow lanes? Do they have any of the advantages of traditional trains, where the wheel is a groove around the track and turns with the track efficiently?

    1. Seatac Airport has rubber tired trains. You probably have ridden one and I know I have.

      I’m sure that improvements in suspension and noise make some systems better than others.

    2. In Montreal, Mike, pretty much like our Monorail except with ordinary bus-tires on the concrete trackways. I suspect the reason Montreal got them was that Paris had them first. Maybe just me, but for the same or slightly-clumsier ride, a whole lot louder.

      Can anybody list me one single advantage? Except, perhaps, that there’s no way they can ever be converted to Light Rail. Like our preferences, our nightmares are all highly individual things.

      Mark Dublin

    3. They have follower wheels on either side of the vehicle which guide it around curves and keep it from hunting on straightaway.

    4. Orr: the Paris and Montreal metros have rubber tires. I do know their advantages; they may be able to climb steeper grades due to better traction; they may not squeal on curves. Their websites may have the explanation. They had a slight rubber-like smell from the small particles released. Another type of rubber-tired metro are the BRT systems with complete grade separation in Curitiba Brazil and Bogota Columbia. Quito Ecuador is probably of lower quality in ROW, but is trolley bus. The Ottawa network has capacity issues and did not have grade separation in downtown.

    5. My experience, outside of airport systems, has mostly been limited to just Montreal (a favorite retreat of mine when I lived in NY) and Paris, though there are many other examples around the world. Having grown up in NYC and relying on the subway there, the noticeable difference for me was the smoothness of the ride and lack of screeching type noise on turns. That was my big takeaway I suppose.

      Fwiw. I recall years ago reading a technical report about the technology when Honolulu was considering it for their proposed HCT system way back in the 70s. I believe they surveyed multiple systems around North America and Japan from what I can remember. Maybe you can find said report online still (?), though admittedly the technology has probably improved considerably during the intervening years. Your comment intrigued me so I’m interested in hearing what other readers have to add, particularly those who might have used such systems much more extensively than I have.

    6. I’m talking about trains with rubber tires, not BRT. I’ve heard about them for years and guessed what they were like, and yesterday I thought, why not ask people who have seen them? From what I’ve heard they’re quieter than steel-wheel trains, but have a lower maximum speed and are more expensive to maintain.

      I’ve been in the SeaTac airport subway several times but my last flight was eight years ago, and the subway is inside the security cordon so I can’t just go look at it.

  11. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leech

    Daniel Thompson, if I had a stronger stomach, I’d be curious about your own chief creditor’s assessment as to what financial “subclass” you belong to. Biggest increase in “The Homeless” is when their car gets repossessed.

    Though when my supplier opens, I am doubling my computer’s anti-virus. Since nowadays its own realm of knowledge is hard-put to know what-all can spread cross-species.

    But from here on out, what I certainly can and will do is every possible thing to be sure that no invertebrate verbiage of yours deprives your fine little business community of its well-deserved gift of a transit system.

    What I double-down and do for Link in Ballard, I will do with them in mind. But like a problem temporary-tenant of mine in The Other Washington, since attention’s tops your food chain, least decency can do is to limit the supply.

    Mark Dublin

  12. And here I am leaving out the local KIRO coverage of the pandemic with the REAL body-count. Pre-dawn this morning, perhaps in imitation of yesterday’s multi-hour destruction of the SR167 corridor, ANOTHER freedom-loving motorist has exercised his Constitutional right to his own choice of freeway directions.

    SR167 yesterday. SR101 today. Didn’t the Stalinists always say “Me today, you tomorrow” before they offed somebody? Whoever said Tyranny can’t drive. Live to tell about it, that’s another matter. But one more grudging compliment to these gallant Wrongway Riders.

    Too bad about the collateral damage, but at least they often save our cash-strapped State the cost of executing them.

    Mark Dublin

  13. And about the possibilities of Sea-Tac Airport Link service from Olympia, using the ST 574 Express:

    Even before the pandemic, reason for low ridership was how few people even knew it was there. It once actually came out of Olympia Transit Center a few times a day. Then got cut back to Dupont.

    Since then, I’ve had to ride IT 612 to the Anthem Cafe at the History Museum, take Tacoma Link to Tacoma Dome Station, and pick up 574 there. Back pre-COVID when there was a 612.

    The service I’m envision, it doesn’t just “Happen.” It has to be both planned and promoted. But the clientele I think carries the potential are not only State legislators and their staff, but the burgeoning patrons and tenants of the completely rebuilt Harbor area of Olympia’s downtown.

    I’m not the only one who didn’t come here voluntarily. And still have contacts both for work and fun where ST already is. Boundaries that people are fully entitled to expand. To my friend who pointed out how little transit one vote buys….

    No harm trying to make it two or so. And since absolutely nothing’s going to happen for several years anyhow, Death by boredom has to finally meet her match.

    Mark Dublin

    1. “And about the possibilities of Sea-Tac Airport Link service from Olympia, using the ST 574 Express:”

      That’s a good idea. The visions of ST Express to Olympia usually assume it would go to downtown Seattle, but attaching it to the 574 would make more sense, and the 574 runs all day and will hopefully be more frequent someday.

  14. I love the Sounder reduced fare proposal for several reasons, including the possibility it will help end long peak-direction-only express bus service from Kent, and free up resources to develop the all-day Kent grid. Who knew that how fares are set could be that powerful?

    Moreover, ST will go from its current 7 expansive distance-based fare charts to just 3. That number may expand again when East Link opens depending on how the fares will work on Link. If every ride between a Green-Line-only station and a Blue-Line-only station is treated as transferring at ID/CS, then just one more chart will be necessary. If ST tries to charge based on distance traveled between those two stations, then Link may need three charts: one for the Green Line; one for the Blue Line; and one for Blue stations to Green stations, with ID/CS in the middle of the station list. However, I think the latter option would be a serious mistake, causing lots of riders to tap out and tap back in at ID/CD.

    Someone told me the ORCA readers are able to treat some tap-outs and then tap-ins as a continued trip. I have been unable to reproduce said claim. But I have tapped-out, tapped back in within a few minutes, and shown the tap-in treated as the beginning of a new trip. Has anyone gotten different results for their trip continuations?

    1. Brent, my Distances on IT 612 and ST 574 are both much longer than any stretch of Link. But neither IT nor ST have any problem with a single fare to cover both.

      The way I think fare payment, ORCA and beyond, should calculate is that purchase and possession count as a key to the whole system. I’ve paid for a months’ worth of entry into some extensive Palace Grounds, and that’s all Finances have to know.

      Apportionment? Why do I need to know, or have anything to do with it? You’re paying trained accountants to allocate the money wherever in the system needs it most. Northbound curve into Tukwila International coming up, with every mountain in the range agleam with snow…

      I paid to look at all the scenery in the region for a whole month, so get off my case and get out of my face.

      Mark Dublin

    2. “ST will go from its current 7 expansive distance-based fare charts to just 3.”

      ST will go to that or you’re just saying it should? What are the three tiers? Does it get more expensive for some trips?

      1. There are currently three charts each for Sounder North and South (RRFP, youth/LIFT, and regular fares) and one for Link (since the reduced fares are flat). If ST goes through with the proposal, the distance-based fare charts for RRFP and youth/LIFT go away on each Sounder route. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

  15. The Point Defiance Bypass. Mike Orr, I think this Roundup has gifted me with the opportunity I’ve so long been seeking, to do the thing you mention is as needful as it is impossible to get.

    An ongoing audience with elected officials with the power and inclination to set right a deadly wrong, and having done so, in the words of my hero Union General Carl Shurz, take hold of the culprit situation and KEEP IT RIGHT.

    Not my choice that I don’t elect anybody with a hand on the throttle, or a foot on the pedal, of Sound Transit. Bringing Thurston into ST, I am working on it but we gotta be patient.

    Something kind of sullen in the eyes of these new well-heeled rent-payers. If they’d wanted to pay $38 for a non-Free lunch, they’d never have moved out of Ballard. Especially if they’re still expected to report for work there.
    C’mon! Who knows what that evil little COVIDIA is gonna tell the Employer community to do next?

    But my State delegation, whose offices will be a twenty minute walk or ten minute bus-ride from my quarters when they cease to be located in these people’s homes…..

    They’re a different story. Unless somebody can tell me different, which I really hope is possible, the Point Defiance Bypass contains conditions that have killed three passengers and injured fifty-seven more including crew.

    On a longtime freight-track speed that had been limited to, what, thirty? A barely-trained engineer was expected to leave Lakewood going eighty? And, with no technical assist but wayside markers fit for side-streets, he also had to drop speed to thirty, into a curve long known dangerous?

    The poor man’s report in his own defense said : “I didn’t know where I was.” Lack of Automatic Train Controls? Lame beyond the farthest lands of beggary. Hadn’t cab signals been invented yet?

    And in the wildest forested mountains of the artic routes I used to drive on I-90, would I ever have dared to put that in an accident report? Well, at least I would had a long enough height to jump from that the crash would not recur.

    So just to possibly verify the weakness of my ability to affect what my representatives think, I’m looking at a sustained and organized effort to separate that curve from its lethality before it sees Train 1’s headlight in the distance. And put top speed across the Nisqually at 25 where it belongs.

    Like BN’s got nobody that can still “Put ‘er in Portland On Time” with ten minutes to spare? Kingston Trio or Highwaymen, “Folk” is “Folk”, but it’s also hard to feature any real BN engineer giving up their life to be on time. Or is that requirement still in some RCW?

    Possibly losing the right to call it “High Speed Rail” could indeed overload Western State with officials suffering from severe enough depression to make COVIDIA tear up the sofa again.

    But with Anthony Fauci at the throttle, Pfizer won’t even throw a side-effect. So after making sure they’re not a threatened species, one stone can surely get me two more birds.

    If my words to my political “own” show signs of falling mostly on hearing aids, the transit-treasure name of James R. Ellis might reawaken the “R-for Radical Republicans” whose Second-Amendment take on slavery included the right to Keep, Bear, and Fire naval artillery.

    So I also want to make it up to soon-to-be-former Senator Steve O’Ban that the revived Steilacoom Streetcar line will be named after Marilyn Strickland. I could tell he was looking forward to it, standing by the old picture on the wall at Bair Drug and Hardware. Please give him an ORCA card. How can he not be Needy? But here’s the thing.

    My late wife belonged to the same Rail Passenger Association as two of the dead. Had she been alive on the morning of December 18, 2017….. with the affection for trains we shared? Well, Mike, what do you think?

    Will any electee working in my neighborhood have any time free for me? Or will they charter a special Sounder to escape? But wait!

    What better chance to see how fast a whole fleet of ST buses can make the Oregon border fully loaded. COVID or NO-VID, there’s no such thing as useless information!

    Mark Dublin

  16. Oh, what am I thinking! Steve O’Ban got replaced by T’Wina Nobles! So Marilyn will have to settle for the right and duty to model for the sculptor called “The New Michelangelo”. Who’ll grace the upcoming Link station with a stunning depiction in the finest marble. Wings, sword, and all.

    Federal Way, too bad about your elephant’s pillar. The ones from all Seattle’s highways are doing that. But now that logging’s down in the Cascades, Oregon’s got this big green helicopter with a line and a hook! Art infuriates but never dies.

    Mark Dublin

  17. There’s something else about the Bypass that nobody is talking about, but everybody should be. The loss to passenger service of some of railroading’s most beautiful scenery, between Tacoma and the Nisqually River.

    Trade-off wise, south of Tacoma, the freights should go straight, and us passengers should recover those miles of loveliness to which our tickets used to entitle us. Lost time?
    What, twenty minutes? In that much of a rush, fly or Zoom.

    That view out the window is worth the time it takes to see it. More than a few people buy expensive airline tickets to come see sights like that. The kind of sight I’d like to STOP seeing is when I’m stopped and waiting-for-the-light, across from the gas-station-grocery on the east side of DuPont. Clark Road, is it?

    Almost-blind right-angle view down a track scheduled to send a passenger-train going eighty, a few feet from my front bumper. Headed for a curve that killed two and injured sixty-five, three years ago.

    Automatic Train Control? Has anybody besides me noticed how many things like that just don’t work right now? And how many recently-hired drivers don’t know where THEY are, either?

    That freight-spur deserves the structure of an international main-line railroad, crossing-free, separate tracks for passengers and freight. Prince Rupert to the tip of South America. And the shoreline track? Passenger service past ferry landings like Mukilteo, all the way to Chile.

    But while we’re working on that, how much would it co($)t to do this? Get that killer of a curve straightened out. And from Lakewood across the Nisqually, put the speed limit back to what those little freights past the State Capitol have been doing all along?

    The “Reps” I elect right now are scheduled to be back at work under the Dome on 1/11/2021. True, I’m only one man, but that wreck could’ve killed me and my wife. On foot, bus, or Zoom, I’ll be in attendance.

    Mark Dublin

    1. You can start planning an excursion train along the coastal route. Regular commuter service (i.e., Cascades and Sounder) should not use it because most people want to get from A to B quickly, not be forced through a slow scenic route with no alternative.

      I don’t know the lay of the freight tracks like some here, but could an excursion train in Olympia go up the coast route to Tacoma and east to Auburn, turn east to Black Diamond and Maple Valley, and north to Renton? Is there anything scenic or woodsy east of Auburn visible from the rail line? The Renton-Woodinville dinner train used to start in Renton somewhere. Is that starting point still there or was it destroyed? Could it be/was it the Sounder station?

      1. The Dinner train ran on the Woodinville Subdivision, Mike.

        That subdivision was active as the delivery route for 737 fuselages to the Renton plant, from the junction at Snohomish. In order for BNSF to abandon that line, they had to upgrade the ROW from Black River Jct to the plant.
        That meant replacing the old railroad truss bridge over the Cedar River with an open design that could accommodate the height of the fuselages.

        The ROW continues north of Snohomish as the Centennial Trail.

        And when it was an active railroad, it even had a stop in Hartford, WA.
        That would be another reason that the whole railroad ROW would be a cost-effective solution for suburban/urban mobility.
        but, what the hell do I know.

        As far as N/S ROW between Tacoma and Tukwila, it’s just the two, the UP and the BNSF mainlines.

      2. Where was passenger boarding in Renton for the dinner train? That’s what I mean by, was it destroyed or is it still usable?

        Of course, it would be obviated if the train continued to King Street Station and people could board there. That would make the travel time rather long, 1.5-2 hours each way. I don’t know how long is too long for an excursion train ride. When my friend used to take his out-of-town relatives on the dinner train, they did a round trip.

      3. The Dinner Train would be a day trip, with the Woodinville end being either a tour of the St. Michelle Winery, or later, the Columbia Winery.

        My favorite part of the trip was hanging out (on the return, since dinner was served northbound,) on the open air observation platform with my drink and desert.

        Open air RR cars are fun, but it gets a bit windy when you get around 45 mph.
        The Dinner Train averaged around 30mph, except over track with (really) slow orders. The Wilburton Trestle was my favorite.

    2. If a private company wants to run dinner trains down the coastline and find a way to fund it through ticket sales, more power to them.

      But, public money should be focused on actual transportation. And that means, using the bypass.

  18. Building new Single-Family Homes next to Link station is “the highest priority” for the largest cohort of Snohomish County residents who responded to this survey? And what else do these entitled Karen’s and Carleton’s expect the taxpayers to buy for them? Perhaps a small airstrip behind the houses to increase their travel options further?

    Nothing shorter than six stories should be built within two blocks of a station and at least a couple of buildings directly adjacent to the station should be taller than that.

    Skytrain is the 24-hour smashing success because BC and the various cities encourage large density around the stations. It could — and should — happen along Link

    1. Tom, out of curiosity, do you have any statistics as to the percentage of responders to that Link survey who are not paying taxes in Snohomish County, and so would be considered moochers (my word, not yours, admittedly; but I think that is what you were getting at)? Additional statistics on how many of them are in fact named either Karen or Carleton would be greatly appreciated, too.

      As a side comment, and possibly OT (but related to your “Karen'[sic]s and Carleton'[sic]s” phrase), I wonder why when the incel community uses terms like “Staceys and Chads” we rightfully denigrate them, but when we on the left use memes like “Karens and Carletons”, it is okay. Let’s be better than the bad in our society.

      Thank you in advance for your understanding.

      1. I do not have such statistics, nor probably do the compilers of the statistics, but wherever they live they’re craven and stupid.

        There are several dozen square miles in southern Snohomish County between SR 9 and the Sound on which single-family homes could and will be built. The downside of those locations, of course, is that they’re on just another cul-de-sac many minutes from HCT. Places within walking distance of reliable transportation will be very rare when there’s only one skinny line of it and stations are kept three and more miles apart. To advocate that such rare locations be wasted on some tiny group of favored people is ….. craven and stupid.

        How would you name such entitled dweebs?

      2. Unfortunately, for better or worse, I agree with Daniel Thompson in that I would call them “voters”. The more young people move to SnoCo and demand the same transit amenities that Seattle has, the more likely it is that these amenities will be provided. But it seems, to me, that it is slightly unfair for us to criticize them while not in fact contributing to that community, such as it is. Also, for better or worse, people are allowed to have different preferences in their living environment. We can (and should) influence those to the extent legally possible and morally proper, and we should definitely (again, to the extent legally possible) require that the cost of those choices be attributed (and burdened) correctly; but I would not call insults morally proper, myself. Your mileage may vary.

        To the specifics of the Karen meme, it really bothers me because I have a few friends and relatives bearing that name, and I do not wish for it to be turned into an insult. I do not know whether Tom is your real name or not, nor do I know what your heritage is (and nor do I think it matters!) but I assume you could imagine how someone with that name might take offense, and justifiably so, at the “Uncle Tom” derogatory term, too. It is a bit like that, to me, and I really do not want people I care about to suffer from it – nor anyone else, of course, but I admit to having a stronger feeling towards people I have strong feelings for :)

        Thank you again.

  19. I would name them “voters”, Tom. I am also guessing, this being Snohomish County, that builder profits had a lot to do with the zoning, and builders felt a lot more confident building and selling new single family homes in Snohomish Co. than TOD. I doubt transit figured into the valuation because first/mile access won’t be walkable. I am sure Snohomish Co. residents are not taking bets on rail reaching them in their lifetimes.

    In fact the PSRC in its 2050 Vision Statement allocated most future population growth to Snohomish Co. because a single family house is more affordable than in King. Transit doesn’t change people’s housing desires.

    The Urbanist crowd in Snohomish Co., certainly outside Everett, is very small. If density in Snohomish Co., even along light rail, is critical we have plenty of land available before Snohomish Co. And in fact the PSRC just allowed Snohomish Co. to rezone some of its rural land to single family housing so that will increase housing stock. Besides where will these Snohomish Co. rail riders be going since they are on the northern tip of the line? To Seattle? Lynnwood? SeaTac? That is a long trip on light rail.

    Not everyone thinks transit dictates zoning, certainly in Snohomish Co. where profit dictates zoning.

    1. Don’t know about the “Urbanist” crowd (nor do I really know what that means, other than a euphemism for “leftie”, perhaps) but I can say that Lynnwood, at least, has a strong 20-year plan to build upward, particularly in the city center area and near its other Link sites. I believe that the zoning in some places allows for up to 20 story buildings, though most apartment units (and perhaps condos?) built so far are in the 5-6 story range. You can see some of them in the downtown Lynnwood area, as well as the older ones already built near Ash Way. And there is some development in the works south of the Mountlake Terrace station which I think is similar, though Mountlake Terrace itself did not upzone to that same extent.

      So, the truth is in-between what you speculate (not altogether incorrectly about builders and profits, I suspect) and what Tom Terrific fears; yes, most of SnoCo will remain single-family, but yes, there will be some TOD because Lynnwood, at least, already planned for it.

      I do think that the areas North of Lynnwood are more difficult in that sense; Everett seems less interested in becoming a true “urban” center, other than perhaps to some extent downtown. The Airport Way area will remain single housing, but that detour through Airport Way and Paine Field was for employment oriented ridership anyway. I look at the Airport Way station as an “on-the-way” station that may as well get built, perhaps in conjunction with a P&R, similar to how South Bellevue is for East Link. It’s unfortunate that they won’t serve the big I-5 median P&R already in place in South Everett, though – I was really quite saddened when they cut down all those old trees there, and to throw it away after only about 20 years would just add insult to injury. And then there’s the big Eastmont P&R too. So my own favorite route for the Everett Link would have followed the I-5 corridor to those two, then detour towards Evergreen Way at Eastmont, with a shuttle or just one-stop side train between Evergreen and Paine Field. Alas…

      1. Whether Lynnwood will realize its dream of becoming an urban center time will tell. But an interesting fact about zoning density is wood framed buildings, which are much cheaper and easier to build, can’t exceed 7 stories by building code unless some kind of very expensive statement architecture, whereas steel framed buildings don’t pencil out for the developer until around 21-22 stories when you include the fire systems, underground parking and elevator shafts. The pool of builders who can build tall with steel frames is much smaller than wood framed builders.

        So no man’s land is the International District that compromised at 14 stories I believe, which means no development because property owners will wait for an upzone, which of course will cause terrible displacement in the neighborhood when the new development starts since many retail owners live above their business and will not be able to afford the new construction, either housing or retail.

        So at least Lynnwood has properly zoned for its dream. Do I think Lynnwood will become Seattle’s Bellevue? Doubt it. It would likely take a nearby commercial airport. Which explains why most current new buildings are less than seven stories.

        https://business.lynnwoodchamber.org/list/

        Here is a link to Lynnwood’s Chamber of Commerce website. I am not sure I see many businesses that would need tall buildings, unless Lynnwood sees itself as a future suburb of Bellevue and/or Seattle and it plans for 22 story TOD’s.
        .

      2. Thank you for the information (and the comment overall). Yes, the point about construction costs (and builder availability) becoming much more significant issues for steel frame buildings is a very valid one.

        A few points of speculation I might add regarding your comment about what might make Lynnwood grow as discussed:

        There is a commercial airport located not too far – Paine Field.

        There is no significant industry right in Lynnwood, but there is some tech industry in nearby Canyon Park, and obviously the Boeing park in Mukilteo, and there are some colleges (including UW-Bothell and Edmonds CC) within a few miles distance. So yes, maybe Lynnwood has “nothing” right in town (other than a lot of commerce, which is not nothing) but it has the location for a lot of other nearby destinations.

        And, of course, Lynnwood has LR and thus connection to downtown and other parts of Seattle, for anyone needing to work in the city but unable to afford it.

        The combination of all those suggests that they might be well poised for success _if_ they can keep development costs down, for example by building under 7 stories as you noted.

        One last point: I do not know what the seismic profile of Lynnwood is, but it is farther away from the Seattle fault line than both Seattle proper and Bellevue. If I were paranoid I might find Lynnwood a good place to invest in for when the inevitable “locally big one” hits and Seattle infrastructure (including all those bridges discussed on the Monday thread) falls apart (literally).

      3. Lynnwood is planning for high rises, so it is shooting for the 20+ stories, alongside really only Bellevue and Tacoma outside of Seattle. However, for the many other cities looking to go above 7 stories but not steel framed, CLT should fill that ‘missing middle’ of height in the 8~15 stories.

        But I agree Lynwood needs more than good zoning and light rail to realize its vision. It needs a local booster (or a handful) that’s willing to make some bold bets, either in real estate or a local business that needs room to grow. Lynwood as a jobs destination itself (not just a bedroom TOD for Seattle) is a key assumption of ST3’s Everett Link.

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