Sound Transit - Central Link Light Rail
In 2020, Pioneer Square Station got a center platform, sort of. (photo credit: Busologist)

As this tumultuous year comes to a close, it’s time to look back on what the year has brought us. It all started with Connect/2020, which now feels like a distant memory. From there, we saw COVID-19 spread throughout the world and into our communities, with major repercussions on all aspects of life in 2020 and beyond.

In descending order, here are our most read posts of the year:

Property tax exemptions by Frank Chiachiere (April 11). Frank highlights an important piece by the Seattle Times editorial board on the topic, and discusses how some arguments against the use of property tax in general don’t hold up when exemptions are taken into consideration.

The danger of tunnel vision by Seattle Subway (January 7). Through forward-looking planning and construction, Sound Transit can avoid situations in the future where branching Link lines require painful Link closures or fragile service reconfigurations like Connect/2020.

Move over, Washington drivers! It is the law now by Brent White (February 2). A reminder that the law now requires Washington drivers to give cyclists, pedestrians, and other non-motorized road users at least 3 feet of space, or move into the next lane if one is available.

Metro’s darkest day by Brent White (September 21). The September 2020 service change formalized what had by that point largely been implemented already. COVID-19 has taken a huge toll on sales tax revenue, and King County Metro has had to undo years of growth of service as a result.

A bus to Mt. Rainier by Martin H. Duke (September 4). With parking and road capacity being stretched to the limit at Mount Rainier National Park, what would it look like to run a bus there?

Zombie route diversions by Brent White (September 19). Many King County Metro routes have diversions from their main corridor to serve a point of real or perceived importance. While convenient for the small number of riders who want to go there, it slows down other riders and makes the overall system less efficient.

Metro ridership shifts hint at the future by Dan Ryan (April 28). While all service saw ridership plummet due to the pandemic, South King County ridership held up the best, while peak-only service in north and east King County saw the greatest decline.

Collapse is a Choice by Martin H. Duke (September 12). Washington state’s balanced budget rules are statutory and not part of the state constitution, so a repeal would only require a majority vote of the state house and senate.

Metro proposes a new network for North Link by David Lawson (January 23). Metro’s North Link restructure proposal was bold, and provided a number of new neighborhood connections that never before existed. Then, it too was inevitably ravaged by COVID-19 related reductions.

Rethinking ST3? by Martin H. Duke (April 23). Despite setbacks, poor decisions, and missed opportunities, the Sound Transit 3 plan is still a plan worthy of pursuing, and will leave the growing region much better off in the future than without it.

The most commented posts are:

Metro proposes new network for North Link by David Lawson (January 23, 201 comments). The pre-pandemic plan for NE Seattle bus service after Link comes to Northgate. (reminder: here is the follow-up post that discusses the reduced plan after COVID-19 revenue hit was taken into account)

News roundup: more chatter by Martin H. Duke (December 9, 145 comments). Lively discussion on news of the day, with the further shortening of the RapidRide J “Roosevelt” line and passenger ferry topics getting a lot of discussion.

Whether to cut Sounder North? by Dan Ryan (May 12, 139 comments). Sounder North is very expensive to operate, gets little ridership, and largely parallels frequent bus service on the I-5 corridor. If Sounder North were to be cut, it is possible that Link to Everett could open one and a half years sooner.

Losing the West Seattle Bridge by Dan Ryan (April 17, 132 comments). The West Seattle Bridge closed indefinitely this year due to cracks in the structure, requiring a quick response by the city and prompting new discussions on the future of transportation in West Seattle.

The next transit measure by Frank Chiachiere (November 11, 131 comments). With 2020 just not being the year for running a ballot measure for transit, we look to the future for expansion opportunities.

News roundup: returning by Martin H. Duke (October 22, 130 comments). The community discusses the West Seattle Bridge, Cascadia rail, Elon Musks’s tunnels, and more.

News roundup: snapshot by Martin H. Duke (December 3, 121 comments). Terry White is now the permanent Metro GM, ST introduced a new ridership tool, and the Point Defiance Bypass may reopen after three and a half years.

News roundup: designed to get your attention by Martin H. Duke (January 15, 115 comments). The Connect/2020 Link announcement voice drew complaints from passengers, achieving its goal of getting people’s attention, and “Symphony” is the people’s choice for the new name for University Street Station.

Snohomish County plots out light rail station area growth, wants feedback by Bruce Englehardt (May 2, 114 comments). With Link on its way to Everett sooner or later, it’s time to start planning what to build around the stations north of Lynnwood.

Mayor Durkan will step down after one term by Frank Chiachiere (December 8, 114 comments). Durkan’s departure will once again leave a wide-open race for mayor in 2021.

8 Replies to “Most read & commented STB posts of 2020”

  1. This could just be a combination of cold gray weather and a really bad economy. And also some family history of flying straight into the German anti-aircraft detonations that went by the name of “flak”.

    Because I really am sensing that for the transit equipment we need, a lot of my audience on this topic feels that “Made In USA” is a piece of unfairness.

    The trainloads of uniformed sailors I used to watch changing trains for the nearby naval air station, might’ve bristled a little to be told The Electroliner really should’ve been built in Japan.

    For me, the truth’s the other way around. Not only should our own standard dual-power bus be readily available from more than one US manufacturer. It should also be assembled someplace like Everett, and also rolled off the line into service a mile or two from Boeing Access and Marginal.

    From computer drawings created in the “lab” at Lake Washington Technical College. By the average first-year student. Because, all those college-age people who didn’t come back from WWII, they need to be remembered for something beside the fact they got killed.

    It was neither Hitler nor Hirohito who decreed that, any weekend, we can’t build ourselves a low-floor hybrid dual power bus.

    https://real-leaders.com/pogos-warning-to-business-we-have-met-the-enemy-and-he-is-us/

    Mark Dublin

    1. We need a manufacturing entrepreneur or CEO to step up and say, “I’ll do it.” Otherwise it’s not going to happen. Do you know any manufacturing entrepreneurs or CEOs who might be interested, or do you have any way to influence the large companies like Boeing to do it?

  2. Regarding “Zombie route diversions,” people’s mileage may vary.

    From my perspective the 107 route to Georgetown is one of the best and most logical ways to go east-west in the east-west transit desert created by the King County International Airport. This desert basically affects everything between S Spokane Street and Southcenter at present.

    So for some riders this is a feature, not a diversion. The stop at 13th Ave S and S Bailey in Georgetown seems to be well used in my experience. It’s literally an important crossroads in the Metro system currently. From Skyway, for example, the only alternative to travel to Georgetown and parts west would be to go all the way to SODO to transfer to the 124 line to go almost all the way back, just on the other side of the freeway. Or to make a transfer in basically the middle of nowhere.

    No one likes to have to go to nowhere on a bus, really.

    So this rider hopes that any objections are a minority report.

    1. The problem with the 107 is that the east/west service it provides comes at the expense of adding considerable travel time to everyone else on the bus. An extra 5-10 minutes for every trip into or out of your home adds up fast when riding the bus twice a day, every day.

      Obviously, a bus is not a taxi and it is unreasonable to expect a nonstop ride. But, if the goal is to expand ridership beyond a captive audience of people with no other options, it is critical that buses at least travel in a straight line. This limits the extra time required to take a trip by transit instead of driving to the actual time needed to load and unload passengers (which is only significant if the route is popular). Having to sit through detours also conveys the impression that Metro simply does not care about you, and is privileging riders at one particular stop over everyone else on the bus.

      Anecdotally, the presence of route detours definitely deters me from riding the bus, especially when the detour is large. As an example, there was one period several years ago when I lived up on Avondale Road and commuted to Microsoft. I tried the bus a couple times, but the in and out detour to serve Bear Creek P&R just took forever, and I ended up driving to work nearly every day to avoid it (and eventually outright moved to a place that was closer).

      And I’m sure I’m not the only one. Straight routes, such as the 7, 36, 44, and E-line tend to be very popular, while loopy routes such as the 50 and 78 tend to be very unpopular. Among South King RapidRide routes, the A-line runs in a straight line and is relatively popular (by South King standards). The F-line runs in a loopy mess and carries far fewer riders than the A does.

      To attract riders, we need bus routes that behave as a grid, which means straight lines, frequent service, and no detours. Loopy routes that try to do too much and provide one-seat rides from anywhere to anywhere almost always perform poorly and end up being slower than a gridded system, even when the gridded system involves transfers.

      1. Regarding one seat rides, that is hardly my point. The 107 in its short loop into Georgetown provides a vital connection between two otherwise separate regions of the Metro system.

        Take that away right now and all riders lose that option completely, realistically, especially if your standard is that taking an extra ten minutes on an alternative is a show-stopper.

    2. Show me some data that anyone riding route 107 uses the Georgetown stop to head to Skyway or Renton. That is a truly small and niche market. In the times I’ve waited or alighted at the Georgetown stop, I haven’t met anyone using the bus for that purpose. Yes, there are people waiting there to take route 60 in either direction, or route 124 south. Don’t confuse them with the hypothetical but hard-to-find riders taking 107 southeast. I’ve even found confused riders waiting to take route 124 north (which is a different bus stop a block north), but none heading southeast. That stop is truly one of the most confusing in the entire Metro system. But at least it doesn’t fence off riders from the nearest businesses like anti-Transit Centers tend to do. I’ll give it that.

      It isn’t that far of a walk to the closest bus stops on Swift Ave S. A small handful of riders (if there really are any) can walk a little further for the sake of the many through riders, including the many Cleveland High students who should be alighting at the school, not a few blocks south (pre-pandemic).

      Find just one rider who uses the Georgetown stop to head southeast, and ask them if they wouldn’t mind walking a few more blocks to let route 107 be straighter and more frequent.

      1. There are many options on Metro for getting to Skyway or Renton besides the 107.

        Or are we limiting discussion on the STB to people who live on Beacon Hill? ;)

        Part of being a master of your own transit destiny is knowing your options.

        Are you really suggesting that it is *better* for Metro riders in Rainier Beach and Skyway to have to bus all the way to SODO or Renton and then backtrack to get to Georgetown? (And just as a point of reference, the likely time spent waiting for the transfer is on the order of ten minutes on such a trip.)

        By the way, this morning’s OneBusAway estimate for the 107 trip (northbound) on Swift between 18th Ave S and 16th Ave S is 4 minutes. Hardly a blip on the trip, really, in transit terms.

  3. How about this for an incentive, Mike: Some legislation providing some serious tax breaks for manufacturers who do just exactly that? And also, some persuasion that I guess is really kind of generational.

    Somebody ostensibly on one’s own side who’d surrender immediately to avoid getting hurt counted as a really loathsome stripe of traitor. After Pearl Harbor got hit, last thing anybody of a timorous cast would want anyone to call them was “Defeatist”.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_North_Shore_and_Milwaukee_Railroad

    So read this and think about it. Would you have had the guts to stand with this company and its employees when Pearl Harbor met its fate standing on its feet? And which result would you be proudest to run by your own kids?

    To me, proudest possible source of both votes and financial support would be a generation of community college students who’d call these trainsets “War Work.” And vote both accordingly and eagerly.

    Mark Dublin

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