King County Metro 2015 New Flyer XT60 4524

This is an open thread.

59 Replies to “News roundup: seamless”

  1. Can I put in a contender, maybe a “Runner-Up”, for Cascadia’s best transit technology? Shares a time-frame, too. After two consecutive electoral defeats for BART-style rail transit, Seattle started a regional electric railroad with dual-power buses.

    The buses the project ended up with? Some perspective. The self-same provider sold streetcars of equal quality to both Oslo Norway and Gothenburg Sweden, who had no excuse not to know better. How do I do a ($) in kronor?

    But without that fleet, Link would probably still consist of lines and dots on flip-charts, which instead of being on paper, are now incomprehensibly on a website. So to the Canadians, hats-off for this:

    It’s true you had a lot of room to put your pillars in that we did not inherit. Next time anybody takes the Cascadian up there (go ‘way, COVIDIA, no more Demon Goddess(tm)-cat food left!) look out your train window and you can see Skytrain between you and the sky right next to your train on a real wide right-of-way.

    But major heartfelt thanks for this: Solid proof that if you run them in an intrusion proof horizontal elevator-shaft, you can indeed safely run trains with a computer at the controls. Human back-up aboard, goes without saying so I won’t.

    A good Example speaks loudly for itself.

    Mark Dublin

  2. According to Dave Ross, a single-truck misfortune northbound of I-5 will continue to block northbound I-5 from Dupont to miles back south for the rest of the morning. Also, that all the back-roads I usually take to dodge such things….Mark and everybody else, forget them.

    SR101 to Highway 3 to Bremerton might work, or maybe a dodge down to Southworth. Yelm to SR 702 to SR 161 to SR 162, also a “Maybe.” And this is just today. Looks like serious ongoing trouble between cars and trucks now. Feel like my side’s been let down. From car-drivers, I expect this.

    “Ace in the Excavation”, though. Extend Sounder ten minutes’ south to Lacey. Serve easily with ST Express buses, which used to go to Olympia but don’t anymore, terminating at Dupont instead. 25 minute ride, if non-stop.

    If there ever was a “Just Do It,” blue ribbon material here. With the well-heeled demographic fleeing from Seattle because they’re not billionaires but only millionaires, might be time Thurston votes to join ST. Too bad the election’s not tonight.

    Mark Dublin

  3. Glad to see former ST guy Ilgenfritz taking over at CT. He gets policy and won’t be tentative about promoting bus/rail integration where it makes sense. And he gets the Fed side of transport policy too.

    But beyond that, it is nice to see a bus based agency reach into the ST pool of talent instead of just promoting someone with narrow bus-only experience. We need more of this at other bus agencies.

    And, yes, I know Ric has been in the private sector the last few years, but he is still best known as an ST guy.

    1. That may not follow. ST itself has been tentative about integration. Examples: Route 545 has not met Link at the UW Stadium station (March 2016); Route 586 has not met Link at Angle Lake (Fall 2016). Are Link alignment in freeway envelopes (ST2, Initial segment) a good use of the power of Link to improve transit mobility for pedestrians? How about stellar transfer points at SeaTac, Mt. Baker, and Mercer Island? All the agencies can do better integration. CT should be proud of Swift.

      1. It all should come down to rider minutes; swift to ne 185th Street, Route 522 to Roosevelt, and Route 545 to the UW station all make sense. Note that route 522 uses the general purpose lanes in one direction while route 545 uses them in both directions. The shorter routes could have more trips for the hours and less total waiting.

    2. And CT is bringing Swift down to Shoreline North/185th Station. That’s integration.

      The 545 is an example that truncation is a continuum and a judgment call, not a single threshold. Link explicitly replaces the 550 and 512 because it runs in the same corridor and serves the same stops. But the 545 and 522 run diagonally to Link, so should they be truncated? And on Metro’s side, should the 150 and 101 be truncated? There are arguments both ways. Metro has come down on the side of no for the 101, and not until BAR for the 150. ST has decided to keep the 545 a few more years until Redmond opens (or Overlake, it’s not clear), and launched the 542 to prebuild ridership for its successor. The 522 might have remained until Stride, but ST decided to be aggressive and truncate it at Roosevelt.

      1. But the 545 and 522 run diagonally to Link, so should they be truncated?

        It isn’t really about running diagonal. It is about the amount of overlap, and how much value you add. The 512, 522 and 545 all overlap the same section. It is just that the 512 overlaps a lot more (and that will increase as Link gets further north). The more overlap, the more it makes sense to truncate. That is why West Seattle buses don’t truncate at SoDo — you are so close to downtown that you gain very little, while forcing everyone to transfer.

        The other reason the buses don’t truncate there is because it doesn’t add much. SoDo and Stadium are not popular stations. In contrast, truncating at the UW adds a lot — it directly connects people to the second (or maybe third) most popular destination in the state. Truncating at Roosevelt does as well, but indirectly. Roosevelt is a fairly minor destination, but at least connects well with the rest of the transit network (buses and trains). It is a judgement call, but I applaud ST for truncating. Some of the riders will lose time on their trip downtown, but they will gain frequency, and have much better access to lots of places (e. g. Greenwood won’t be a long three-seat ride

        It will be interesting to see what happens to other buses. My guess is the 372 will lose ridership. If you are in Kenmore headed to the UW, you just take the first bus that comes along, which is just as likely to be a 522. Then you transfer at Roosevelt, where you not only have Link, but a bunch of buses that will get you to the UW.

  4. The “Safe Routes to School” link doesn’t work. It appears to have an anchor tag, but no href.

  5. Does the city plan to keep the wayfinding signs up to date? A few weeks ago I encountered a map sign in SODO that had bus routes that hadn’t existed for years. At the Rainier freeway station a sign listed route 42, which hasn’t existed since its post-Link demise. The map outside the Bellevue library has bus routes that haven’t existed for years. I don’t know which possibility is worse: people being misinformed, or no pedestrians looking for bus routes on the signs anyway.

  6. “The consultants’ report said one of the first jobs of the coordinating entity should be to select a technology for the “ultra-high-speed ground transportation” corridor.”

    This feels like a streetcar project, but placed at the opposite end of the speed continuum. Find a technology we like, and then figure out an alignment that fits our budget. Any study that doesn’t say “for the same $24 billion, this is what you’d get on the existing alignment” isn’t worth beans. For $24B we can make solid but not spectacular speed improvements, run hourly trains, and then sell tickets FOR FREE, because there will be so much money left over.

  7. Is anyone going to look into why the number of cancelled Metro bus trips has increased a couple thousand percent in the last week?

    1. It says, “… due to operator availability, which reflects more drivers who are out on leave. This can be due to sick calls or caring for family members or as a precaution.”

  8. AJ, what that consultant’s report sounds like to me is the Chicago and North Shore’s Electroliner, with which I have some first-hand passenger experience. All the tight-quarters advantage of a streetcar, but also 70+ top speed.

    Shack or skyscraper, both are “buildings.” But for certain tasks, one of them’s higher price tag will save you more money than the lower tag will lose you.

    But about those fares, my position hasn’t changed except to harden. I pay a whole month’s fare in advance, and nobody, especially if they make $300,000 a year + bonuses is going to call me a thief and get away with it.

    I appreciate the way the Fare Inspectors are simply honoring possession as they should. With my present usage, I’ll be at least a hundred before I get my second warning. Which is good. Because one citation and I take ST to court and sue for defamation in front of cameras and everybody’s flip phone. Cancel That!

    And as a remedy, demand they put back turnstiles- widely used within the industry. Otherwise, the amount of money I’ll sue for should let me donate them. Like all else CORONA-blocked, though, I’m sure this will get settled.

    Glad Mr. Ilgenfritz is being ($)’d. His quality probably entitles him to ($)($)($)($)($), but times are dicey. Know he’s not going to leave you for Uber.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Erica also reported that deputy mayor Shefali Ranganathan is leaving her job. She had come from TCC.

      1. How many deputy mayors are there? I never heard of the position, and now I find that both Ranganathan and Sixkiller are the deputy mayor? Is that right?

        By the way, I looked it up, and Casey is the son of the famous Husky quarterback, Sonny. Probably one of my earliest sports memories. Him, and Lenny Wilkens of course (Spencer Haywood came just a little bit later).

      2. at the start of her term, there may have been two or three. Sixkiller was the last added. David Moseley retired. Mike Fong is another.

        when I was an undergrad, Sonny lived next door. I played some pick up hoops with him; he had a nice bank shot.

  9. I see a lot of ads on buses for cars, especially gas guzzling pickup trucks and SUV’s. They probably pollute more than a gas stove, which is used a few minutes per day.

    1. Does anyone know why the Definitions section on this blog states East Link will open in 2021?

      1. Probably for the same reason wayfinding maps are out of date. 2021 was the original opening year. The entry should probably just say “early 2020s” in case it slips again.

  10. Talking about the Buttigieg nomination (who, by the way, I believe is about the best we could have expected out of Biden) and his mayoral performance on transportation, I was asked by someone which city had done the best on transit and walkability over the past year.

    “Maybe Paris?”, I said.

    “No, I meant: which US city?”

    “Well, that’s a category error. None of them are doing well.”

    “Isn’t Seattle doing the best, among major cities?”

    “Yeah, actually better than every other American city I can think of…”

    1. Too bad Seattle’s downtown retail core is diminishing in walkability. Paris proper is certainly walkable, but walkability quickly falls as you move to the outer suburbs.

      IMO the two most important parts of walkability are safe streets, including at night, and retail density. I don’t think this critical part of Seattle is doing well for walkability.

      IMO most Seattle neighborhoods lack population density and retail density to be walkable. Is West Seattle despite 71,000 residents walkable? I don’t think so. I mean you could argue Mercer Island’s town center is walkable once you got there, but there isn’t much there. The Wonderland Trail is technically walkable.

      Considering the comments on this blog I was pleasantly surprised Seattle is number one in transit, despite the weak competition. I imagine that will cool talk about ST4 or county transit levies.

      1. I agree. Most are just trying to survive. Criticizing the cities is like criticizing a U. S. cavalryman at Little Big Horn. Not his fault they got destroyed — the man in charge was an idiot.

      2. I meant pre-pandemic and pre working from home.

        Sonny Sixkiller was a breath of fresh air after “Pete Teggaris up the middle for two”. He had a split end who was a world class sprinter with frying pans for hands. Spencer something I think. I think once one of Sixkillers passes got caught in his face mask

        And of course Haywood when he jumped from the ABA. Every Seattle kid on a basketball wanted to be Spencer.

      3. I meant pre-pandemic and pre working from home.

        OK, fair enough. There are two big things that Seattle did in the last few years:

        1) Built a subway from the UW to Capitol Hill to downtown. Even with all its faults, and the fact that it isn’t done, it is the one segment that just about every transit expert in the world would say should be built. Unfortunately, most cities (not even ours) can easily duplicate that. Its kind of like building the bus tunnel in the ’80s and saying “well that was great, lets do another one”. There really isn’t anything that can come close (although the extension to Northgate should be really good).

        2) Increased frequency on the buses. We kind of stumbled upon it. The goal was to prevent a reduction in service, but instead, we increased frequency. As expected, ridership went way up. As it turns out, this really is something every city and every suburb in America can do. If there is to be a “Green New Deal”, this should be at the forefront of it. Increase frequency on the trains and buses, across the board.

        Just as “reducing class sizes” often means money for other things (councilors, so that kids can get educated and don’t disrupt those who are ready to learn) so too would increasing frequency result in a much better network. It is damn near impossible to have a good grid unless you have frequent transit. Waiting for a bus sucks, but waiting for a transfer sucks worse. More service means you can transition to a grid, which in turn means even better frequency. It won’t happen everywhere (Bellingham won’t have a great grid) but it could happen in a lot of cities, like Spokane and Seattle.

      4. Argg. That sentence should read:

        Unfortunately, most cities (not even ours) can’t easily duplicate that.

    2. Relative to 2019 Seattle may have retained more of its transit than other cities, but in an absolute sense it’s still way behind compared to cities with a larger pre-WWII core. Seattle also gets high marks for its 2012-2019 investment in transit, ridership increase, getting downtown SOV commuting down to 30%, and not increasing cars downtown in spite of the highrise growth.

      Walkability means the shortness and convenience of the physical walking paths, not safety. Safety is just called safety. This matters because walkability can only be improved by redesigning buildings and landscapes, so it’s important to get right the first time because it’s expensive to change. Safety can be improved by having more police, better social services, improving public-spiritedness, pruning trees that obscure sightlines, adding lights, etc.

      It’s hard to give a citywide average for Seattle because walkability is so vastly different in the central core, different parts of U-Village/Laurelhurst, Greenwood north and south of 85th, different parts of West Seattle, etc. gives Seattle an average walk score of 75 (very walkable), 60 transit (good transit), 70 bikeable (very bikeable).

      I look at it similar to walkscore: what variety of destinations and transit frequency is within a mile of any location. I.e., how easy is it to rarely leave the neighborhood except for work, and to get around without a car. Many people live in the U-District and leave only once a month or so, and there are enough businesses besides the U that some can both live and work there, and transit is almost universally frequent. So that’s the gold standard. In Chicago you can do it over a much larger area: many more square miles, many more housing units to choose from, more work and shopping options. Central Seattle is also like that, east to around 15th. Ballard and Northgate have grown enough that they’re more self-contained than they were twenty years ago, you can find most necessities there. Other islands are much smaller and have a very limited selection, like Columbia City.

      West Seattle’s California Avenue has gotten a much wider variety of amenities and housing than it had twenty years ago. I’d say it has less than Northgate, but the feel is impressive, like University Way felt in the 80s. Delridge and 35th are notoriously unwalkable: there’s hardly anything but houses and you have to take a bus out of the neighborhood just to get to a supermarket. But at least they’re still somewhat small-lot houses and some apartment opportunities, unlike a lot of the Eastside. What frustrates me the most is when you walk ten minutes and you’ve only passed ten houses or a few parking lots and still have a long way to go.

      Mercer Island at least has a walkable downtown, although it’s very small and I don’t know what the variety of destinations is. It’s unfortunate that it’s across the freeway from the bus stops, which makes it significantly less walkable and less pleasant. Fortunately the Link station will be in the middle of the freeway so it won’t be as isolated from the village. The rest of Mercer Island, I’ve only seen part of it once, because of the lack of transit or compelling destinations, but I gather it’s all unwalkable except maybe a village in the south.

  11. Spring should be interesting. It will be a perfect storm of: Regular people starting to get vaccinated. We’re not at herd immunity yet. Businesses are starting to reopen. People are getting back on transit. But, against advice, many of the vaccinated will stop wearing masks because they feel invulnerable, even though they could still be an asymptomatic carriers. We might be in for a third wave in March or April under the right circumstances.

    1. I think you’re right Sam. Especially non-vaccinated college students will quit wearing masks and social distancing. I would have vaccinated them first because they are the asymptomatic and live very social lives, but then keep coming home for college breaks

      The original hope was Johnson & Johnson’s one dose vaccine would be the magic bullet because of J&J’s manufacturing capacity. Final stage trials are going on in South Africa right now (shock and surprise) and so far 99% of those vaccinated show antibody proteins from their unique vaccine.

      J&J will seek FDA approval in January and claim they can have 500 million doses by late spring, and another 500 million for third world countries by July

      Still that puts true US herd immunity maybe by the start of school in the fall although probably 20% to 40% won’t get vaccinated.

    2. The good news is that we will have a president warning us about the dangers instead of sticking his head in the sand.

      1. The bad news is that close to half the population believe that he stole the election and will, at best, ignore him.

    1. I’ll repeat what I wrote on The Stranger (while leaving out the curse words):

      Transportation was a strange choice, but Buttigieg has executive experience, and is reasonably smart. He is well liked by other mayors, so that should help. He will do OK.

      But it wouldn’t have been my first choice. I would have put Buttigieg in charge of HUD. That same relationship with mayors, along with youthful enthusiasm, would help revive an agency that has been neglected for way too long. I would have put Fudge in charge of Agriculture. Vilsack is the type of guy you appoint if your first choice is caught in a scandal. Its a safe choice, but there will be little hope of reform.

      I don’t think he is a bad choice, I just think he would be better at HUD (just as I think Fudge is best as agriculture secretary). I don’t know who I would have as transportation secretary. Off the top of my head, I would be temped to go with Bloomberg. It would piss off a lot of progressives, but that would be the idea. As a former Republican, he could reach across the aisle while pushing for a very cost effective, but progressive agenda. At the same time, he would get people under him that know how to get things done (USDOT is huge, and Bloomberg can handle huge). I’m not sure Mayor Pete can handle huge. I guess we’ll find out.

    2. What matters to me is how much he prioritizes transit relative to cars. Is he just a “roads and bridges (for cars)” guy, or will he increase transit support? Maybe we should send him a copy of Human Transit, Walkable City, and The High Cost of Free Parking. The announcement was apparently at an Amtrak facility, and Biden is big on Amtrak, so that’s something. But we really need some emphasis on improving local bus service throughout the country.

      Hmm, maybe DC could give Metro a grant to electrify its bus fleet so it wouldn’t have to spend precious local dollars that are needed for frequency.

      1. South Bend used to have an electric commuter railroad named for it, the “Chicago, South Shore and South Bend” or just “South Bend”. It still runs but now it has a governmental name, “Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District”.

    3. I applaud Biden for choosing Buttigieg. He’s smart, energetic and compelling.

      As to his transportation “experience”, I’m sure he is enlightened on transit issues. He likely rode the South Shore line from South Bend to Chicago many times growing up. He went to Harvard, a university where walking and transit predominate daily life. He appears to have also lived in Chicago as an adult. As a mayor, he couldn’t avoid the nuances of transportation of all modes.

      It’s a welcome contrast to Chao, who didn’t appear to have any transportation credentials except as a daughter to a shipping magnate. She is a professional politico.

      1. Chao served as deputy sec. of transportation under Bush I. What better experience is there. And Sec. of labor, a huge dept.

        I have a law degree and have ridden transit, and lived in dense transit rich cities like London and NY, and don’t feel that makes me qualified to run the U.S. Transportation Dept. Transit is a small part of this agency, and a lot of the funding decisions are made by Congress and implemented by by local jurisdictions. You don’t nominate someone because of their politics and possible views on transit to be Sec.

        My guess is he gets grilled during his hearing because Republicans will want to plant the seed Biden has no soul, and puts politics over competence, including the nomination for HHS during a pandemic, considering that is what Dems did to Trump.

        It isn’t good when already they are primarily relying on his being gay to be Sec. of Transportation. My guess is there are several qualified gay candidates for this role.

        I thought Ross had some good insights on appointments, and Buttigieg at HUD made much more sense.

    4. President Trump lost the election over his handling of Covid-19 (surprisingly by a very small margin)§90 but Pres. Biden won’t have more tools until more vaccine is available. Is there a single American who hasn’t heard wear a mask and social distance?

      Infections are out of control in CA and that has little to do with Trump. The country has reached Covid-fatigue.

      There will always be 1/2 in D.C. who won’t listen to the President, especially if the Republicans hold the Senate. Biden will have to manage the progressives in his party, and remind them they are on his side. The problem is there won’t be a lot of money for the next several years, and a $4 trillion debt overhang. Republicans by objecting to state and federal aid got their wish: smaller local government

      Things like a revenue neutral carbon tax make sense, and if the federal government hadn’t just added $4 trillion in stimulus debt and states had not borrowed from the Fed and for unemployment a large infrastructure program would make sense, but I am not sure after the huge amounts of debt we have racked up. Maybe if we hadn’t started the pandemic with $22 trillion in federal debt and trillions in unfunded state and local pensions, but we did. Unless the stock exchanges increase by about 1000% from their current historical highs I don’t see the spending increases progressives want.

  12. Can anyone point me in the direction of a good resource showing estimated travel times on the built out ST3 system? Like if I wanted to take the light rail from Ballard to see a show at the Tacoma Dome in 2045, how long will that trip be? I can’t seem to find any sort of travel time estimates anywhere, but I’m sure I’m just looking in the wrong places.

    1. Table 8 in Appendix C might the best summary. Otherwise, I would just go project by project and look in the ST3 detail pdf. I don’t think they have times for every station prior to the EISs, but the high level estimates suggest more detailed math under the hood. Could probably ask for it via a public records request?

      Using, and opening the “more project details” tab:
      Ballard to SLU = 11 minutes
      SLU to ID = 6 minutes
      Westlake to FW = 42 minutes, per Ross’s table
      TDLE = 19 minutes

      Sums to 78 minutes; BAR and Graham St will slow it down slightly, so ~80 minutes is probably the best forecast right now?

      1. Seems like you counted the downtown Section (Westlake->ID) twice. Actual time should be less than that.

  13. Plus a transfer in there somewhere, and whatever time it takes me to get from my place to 14th and Market. So pushing 100 minutes when all said an done. This is more or less what I was looking for, especially the charts from RossB and the “more project details” stuff that I hadn’t seen to click through. Thanks to both of you for the info!

    1. Actually no transfer on Link, in this case the Ballard train should run straight through to Tacoma Dome, but yes whatever transfer you need to get to/from Link on both ends.

    2. I have to believe there will be a faster and better option to get from Ballard to Tacoma in 2045 that does not require first/last mile access and two hours. Oh wait, that option exists today. It is called a car. By 2045 it will be electric, same carbon emissions as light rail. So only difference will be the extra hour each way.

      I find it ironic “urbanists ” are building a line from Everett to Tacoma before lines to West Seattle or Ballard. Talk about incentivizing sprawl. Next up: the Cascadia Corridor with a dozen cities of 300,000 from here to Portland. Talk about hypocrisy. Throw in the new attack on electric cars — brake dust — and it has all gotten silly, like upzoning and new construction will end global warming.

  14. The #62 has been habitually missing trips. I get emails almost every day saying a couple of the runs didn’t happen.

    I’ve been staying off the buses, but I’m curious if this is an indication of larger troubles at Metro.

    1. Metro and Link have driver shortages due to covid and quarantines. That has led to a lot of cancellations this week, especially in the early morning. The Seattle Times has an article ($)today by Mike Lindblom about it. Metro is choosing to cancel frequent runs when there’s another bus within 15 minutes rather than leaving infrequent routes without service.

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