Sounder Station - Tukwila

This is an open thread.

101 Replies to “News roundup: vaccine-eligible”

  1. Once Northgate Link opens, will there be any more of these weekend closures for East Link? I really hope not!

    There have been years of these repeated weekend closures. It really points to the need to design and fund junctions during initial construction. We thought Connect 2020 was the major step to get things installed — but it apparently wasn’t nearly enough time or maybe it wasn’t nearly enough thinking ahead.

    The next messy junctions are going in SODO for the second Downtown tunnel — and then south of East Main for Issaquah trains in about 18-25 years. (Everything else is an extension to the system.) As everyone wait for the EIS, can anything be done in advance (before Federal Way Link opens)? Is it better to just anticipate a bus bridge between Mt Baker and Judkins Park once Line 2 opens (one more reason to move the transit center to the west side of Rainier)?

    Finally, it really points to the need to plan and build more resiliency into the Link operations. Single tracking is the lowest level but where frequencies increase that’s going to be harder to do. And resiliency planning is also needed for vertical conveyances.

    1. ST cancels Link service far too frequently, especially given that it’s been conceived as the spine with bus truncations. If they had 4 weekend closures for the whole year that would be too many, but we’ve separately had Rainier Beach-Angle Lake closures, and multiple closures from Stadium northward. What a joy for riders of the 255 who want to go downtown. They get to ride a bus to Husky Stadium. Then wait for a Link shuttle that presumably crawls across Capitol Hill. Unlike the previous weekend where the got to cross the Lake on I-90 and then backtrack up to UW to get on Link to head downtown.

      ST gets 4 hours every night when Link is closed (5 hours on Sat/Sun and Sun/Mon). They ought to prioritize that time, and make closing the spine a very expensive process for their contractors such that such closures are rare and coordinated to be maximally useful and minimally used. It practically seems like the program managers get bonuses for how many closures they can justify.

  2. I find the eastern tail of the 3 interesting. There are basically two versions of the 3. One ends at Garfield, the other continues to Madrona. It leads me to ask a few questions:

    1) Does it save much money to do that? On the one hand, any reduction in service saves money. On the other hand, I would imagine there are logistical issues. I guess they wouldn’t do it if it didn’t save money, which leads me to the next question:

    2) Would it make sense to do the same thing for the 27? The 27 is the only bus connecting Yesler Terrace with downtown. The rest of Yesler between there and 23rd has lots of people. After that, though, density really goes downhill. In many ways, it resembles the tail of the 3. There is an elementary school, and many of the houses are fairly close together (old, small lots) but it is nowhere near as densely populated as the places to the west. The eastern tail eventually resembles a coverage route — a good coverage route, but a coverage route nonetheless.

    1. I used to commute to work on the 3, and the weird double nature of that route was frustrating. At the end of the day, sometimes the #3 would take me home, but sometimes it would stop short and leave me to walk the rest of the way. Why are both of these routes called #3? They should be separated so you know which bus you’re looking for. It’s not like they are short of route numbers.

      1. Yeah, I was thinking that too. I think that sort of thing used to be more common, and they really were short of bus numbers. The 41 had three versions. The 73 had a couple versions (and I believe that was before the 373). It was frustrating, and you had to read the little description (e. g. “Cowen Park”). The situation got worse as they moved to electronic reader boards, and you have to wait a few seconds.

        I think the easiest thing to do is just attach a letter. For example, 3A and 3B. Folks would get the hang of it really quickly.

    2. There are actually four different versions of the 3: SPU to/from Madrona (peak weekdays only); SPU to/from the Central District (rest of the weekdays and weekends); downtown only from the Central District (some peak weekday afternoon trips only); downtown only to/from Madrona (some trips, including some on weekends that don’t turn into a 13 trip).

      When I lived in the CD, it was Very Fun to try to work out which trip was doing what, basically by scrutinizing the headsign on the approaching bus.

      I think this happens for two reasons: Cost-and-Time, as SPU all the way through to Madrona is a long trip and as we’ve seen with the 8 and 48 all long slogs on surface streets (especially with a lot of turns) are very inefficient; and trolleys going in and out of service or changing to another route have to be in a specific spot to go a specific way.

      1. Yeah, and that is the result of one of the weird things about the 3 (and 4). They don’t change the numbers as they go through downtown. There are a lot of buses that through-route with other buses. But the 3 stays the 3. This means that when it doesn’t through route, it is a different version.

        The 2 does the same sort of thing, but with its own weird anomaly. The 2 has a Queen Anne version and a Central Area version (just like the 3 and 4). Except the 13 (a Queen Anne bus) through becomes the 2 after downtown. Like the 3, there are also a lot of variations (sometimes the 13 just ends downtown, sometimes the Queen Anne version of the 2 just ends downtown).

        These are obviously legacy routes, and only look weird because the rest of the system changed over the years.

        To me through-routing is a different beast. I’m not sure if I would spend a lot of time trying to portray that on the bus itself. I think the different versions of the eastern 3 are different. That can be easily displayed via the number (3A, 3B) but the through routing can’t (“27 – 2”, “27 to 2”). If memory serves the text describes it but not the number (which I think is fine).

      2. as electric trolleybus, routes 15 and 18 once served both Ballard and West Seattle.
        routes 14 served both Mt. Baker and Summit (before fall 2012).
        as electric trolleybus, Route 7 had three northeast Seattle variants and Route 8, serving NE 55th Street.
        as dual mode and hybrid, Route 73 had several variants ending at NE 145th Street, NE 85th Street, and Ravenna. atop routes 71, 72, and 74.

      3. The 15 and 18 weren’t trolleybuses in the 80s. They may have been in the 60s before the trolley network was contracted. I saw a flyer in the 80s saying “Trolley wires are coming to Ballard!” and the 15 and 18 would be electrified, but it never happened for some reason. Then in 2000 the RapidRide D plan superceded it.

      4. yes, Mike Orr is correct. ETB routes 15-18 period was 1940-1963.
        yes, there was a study to put up new wire, but it was still born.

    3. Questions about Routes 3 and 27 are reasonable. Their productivity problems are driven by not having a major destination at the Eastern terminus of the route and instead running through blocks of pretty expensive single family homes.

      Route 3 is historic from the streetcar days. The Cherry Street tail could be reassigned to a non-trolley route but I’m not sure which one. If Route 8 is restructured once Madison RapidRide and Judkins Park Link station opens, a route deviation to serve this tail as well as pass by Grocery Outlet could work. Another option could be to end Route 2 in Madrona and extend Route 3 to Lake Washington. Another option is to turn half of the Route 2 buses backwards to Garfield or Swedish Cherry Hill using 34th and Cherry. Both parts of Routes 2 and 3 east of MLK have few riders except right at peak school (especially O’Day) and work hours. Lots depends on what Madrona and CD residents want.

      Metro has suggested extending Route 27 to Mount Baker TC and Link, which would provide a nice anchor at the end and allow Metro to drop the Route 14 Hunter Blvd tail. This seems reasonable and even a no-brainer, as Hunter Blvd tail residents don’t get much benefit from the tail ever since it went to Mt Baker TC. It would also run past Mt Baker beach, improving recreational access. In the future, Route 14 could be extended further west, north or south from Mt Baker TC.

      As I’ve observed before, moving Route 3 ripples through the entire service strategy like a Sudoku puzzle adjustment. With new system opportunities emerging through Madison RapidRide and Judkins Park station openings , a major restructure study with several alternative routing schemes is what seems to be needed. Otherwise, it appears like a mere keep/ change decision on a route-by-route basis to the public — and that brings out opposition to changing anything.

      1. Another option could be to end Route 2 in Madrona and extend Route 3 to Lake Washington.

        I really like that idea. I think the base 3 should be frequent (and it is). It should run every 7.5 minutes (like now) if not every 6 minutes. Go with 7.5 for now, which means the extended version (3-long) runs every 15 minutes. So every other bus goes to the water.

        The 2, meanwhile, can go every 10 minutes (it runs every 15 right now) since it is now shorter.

        Obviously this would take some money, but not a huge amount. The main thing is that it matches demand. 15 minutes for the area east of 23rd sounds about right, just as 10 minutes for the core of the 2, and 7.5 minutes for the core of the 3.

        Metro has suggested extending Route 27 to Mount Baker TC and Link, which would provide a nice anchor at the end and allow Metro to drop the Route 14 Hunter Blvd tail.

        I agree. It also strengthens the case for two different versions, just as the longer 3 tail strengthens the case. The tail of both the long-3 and long-27 are longer, and more coverage oriented. They remove the coverage parts of other routes, making them more efficient. In this case, I could see the 27-short running every ten minutes, the 27-long running every 20 minutes, and the 14 running every 15. That is a shift towards Yesler instead of Jackson — so be it (much of Jackson overlaps with the 7, whereas the 27 is unique in connecting Yesler with downtown). The basic idea is the same as with the 2 and the 3. You’ve got one bus that is made shorter (the 14) and two different length versions of another bus (the 27). Twenty minutes for coverage, ten minutes for the core, and 15 minutes for the now shorter other bus.

        Oh, and I would probably turn around the short version of the 27 close to MLK (give or take a couple blocks).

        You are right, none of this should happen before Rapid Ride G (Madison).

      2. Taking a look at CD non-residential destinations for Routes 2 and 3.

        – Route 2 goes by Grocery Outlet, PCC and to the Pike-Pine corridor (even walking distance from TJ’s) as well as close to the medical facilities on Seneca and Madison.

        – Route 3 goes by Garfield and Cherry Hill medical offices but no major shopping destinations.

        The challenge is really driven by where those riders east of 34th are going. I bet most are going all the way to Downtown but some are going to these closer destinations.

        I can see one other option. That would be to put wire on 23rd, split Route 2 at 23rd and have half of the route 2 buses travel from/ to Cherry and back on 34th with the Madrona terminus at 34th and Union. That would then replace the Route 3 tail to Madrona (saving operating time for both Routes 2 and 3), give access to local groceries for the outer Cherry Street area and give Metro some discretion to reassign those hours elsewhere in the CD.

      3. I knew what you meant (O’Dea).

        The challenge is really driven by where those riders east of 34th are going. I bet most are going all the way to Downtown but some are going to these closer destinations.

        Yeah, sure, but keep in mind, there are very few people there. The tail of the two is weak. Besides, the 3 goes by plenty of places (not just hospitals). Of course there would be some winners and losers if you connected the tail of the 2 with the 3, but I think overall it is better. The main thing is, the math is better.

        Right now there are three routes (the short-3, long-3 and the 2). This proposal makes the 2 shorter, and the long-3 longer. From a frequency standpoint, this is what you want. The longest route has the worst frequency, which saves money (while being appropriate for the density). The good news is, the short-3 can be frequent (7.5 minutes) which allows that long-3 to have decent frequency (15 minutes). This in turn makes it easier to speed up frequency on the 2 (where it matters). It all works out nicely.

        It also doesn’t require a major change. The layovers already exist. There are already two versions of the 3. In contrast, if you truncate the 2 at 23rd, that means finding a new layover and turnaround spot. It would also mean no service east of 23rd on Cherry or Union (unless we had a short version of both the 2 and 3). Having the 3 take over the tail of the 2 just works out really well — the bus just keeps going. You really can’t do the reverse, even if you wanted to.

      4. It would make sense to switch the tails of the 2 and 3 so that one isn’t turning onto 34th right where the other one terminates on it. However, it’s unlikely for three reasons. (1) Interia. (2) It would be a long detour from Madrona to Jefferson just to backtrack to the retail district and transfers, and it would go through the James Street bottleneck. (3) The 3 goes through an area that some 2 riders think is unsafe. The reason they objected to splitting the 2 was that they said everywhere they go is on the 2, and they would have to transfer in an unsafe area (3rd & Union). The 2 goes through the periphery of the CD but the 3 goes right through the middle of it, and they’d probably feel more unsafe about that.

      5. If folks from Madrona are afraid to ride through the CD folks from Madrona mostly ride during the commute peaks, just give them a peak overlay. Call it the 3X and run it via Union.

      6. @Mike:

        (1) Inertia is the strongest deterrent.

        (2) I don’t see the pathway of the 2 as being much more attractive than the pathway of the 3. The 3 goes by Garfield, the only high school in the region. There are plenty of restaurants along Cherry, between 23rd and MLK. Both routes cut through Seattle U, so it really depends on what end of campus you are visiting. The 3 also pretty much runs the length of downtown. The intersects downtown at Seneca, which means that if you are headed to the south end of downtown, you need to transfer.

        (3) So people live east of the C. D. and they are afraid of the C. D.? WTF? Besides, it wasn’t too long ago that the entire area was like that (most of Capitol Hill was just part of the Central Area). When I attended Minor Elementary, the Black Panthers took over the school. I just find it hard to believe that there are that many people who are afraid of “rough neighborhoods” given the history of the area.

        Mainly though, I don’t care. We are talking about an area that maybe shouldn’t have all-day service of any kind. To be clear, I’m talking about the very tail (north of Union on 34th, and around to the water — This is one of those low density areas in the city that often lack all-day service. The 17 doesn’t have an all-day bus. There is talk of removing it from Victory Heights. It is just a very low density area that has excellent service due to … inertia.

        To be clear, I’m not suggesting we eliminate service. Nor would it mean a huge decrease in frequency. It might not mean a decrease at all (it would just mean the other part of the line increases frequency while it stays the same).

        I should point out that this wouldn’t happen until RapidRide G (Madison). When that happens, the 2 changes as well. It has to dogleg up to Pine. That would likely mean that it loops around Pike/Pine (like the 11 and other buses). There would be one-seat rides to fewer places downtown. It would only skirt First Hill (and not serve some of the hospitals). This would be a fairly dramatic change — for every rider of the 2 — yet the only sensible one given the new RapidRide line. Some would like it, some wouldn’t. At this point, making a change that effects only a handful of riders at the tail seems like a minor thing (even if those riders are capable of making a lot of noise).

        Maybe Metro should first propose just eliminating the tail, then come back and say they are attaching it to the 3. OK, now I’m just being cynical.

      7. “There is talk of removing [transit] from [low density] Victory Heights.”

        From where?

        What do you think of Metro’s plan? It would consolidate the 2/11/49 into a Pine-12th-Union route, make the 3 more frequent, and turn the 2N into a crosstown route to Harrison-Eastlake-Belmont-Aloha-23rd to Garfield HS. The frequency of the 2S and 3 might be 7 minutes, based on earlier restructure proposals in 2012-2014.

        I don’t feel strongly about changing the 3’s alignment. The consolidated 2 looks good for eastern 2 residents, and Pike/Pine would be faster than the Spring/Seneca bottleneck. It would be mixed for me in southwest Capitol Hill because I’d lose the 11, but Metro seems intent on deleting the 11. (The 2 stops two blocks further from Trader Joe’s and doesn’t serve Madison Valley or Park at all.) The new crosstown route is admirable in the abstract but I question whether many people want to travel to/from Aloha Street.

      8. “There is talk of removing [transit] from [low density] Victory Heights.”

        From where?

        The latest proposal for the Northgate restructure would eliminate service on Northgate Way from 5th NE to Lake City Way. The neighborhood on both sides of this is called Victory Heights ( Obviously the northern part of that would have service (but then I wouldn’t call that Victory Heights — I would call that Pinehurst). Anyway, you get the idea.

        What do you think of Metro’s plan? It would consolidate the 2/11/49 into a Pine-12th-Union route, make the 3 more frequent, and turn the 2N into a crosstown route to Harrison-Eastlake-Belmont-Aloha-23rd to Garfield HS. The frequency of the 2S and 3 might be 7 minutes, based on earlier restructure proposals in 2012-2014.

        I assume you mean the long range plan. In general I think they did an excellent job in that area (what I call the greater Central Area). My only suggestions are minor quibbles. For example, the 2 can no longer make that dogleg on 12th. I think it will use 14th. Either way it makes a lot of sense. With very frequent service on Madison, it doesn’t make sense to send the 2 or 11 there. It actually spreads things out a bit better than they are now. Right now you have the 2, 11 and 12 all clustered together in the Pine/Union/Madison area. Except for Madison, they don’t actually share a stop. All of them have decent frequency, but none of them great frequency. As a result, if you want to go downtown, you aren’t really sure where to go. In the future you will have two routes — the one on Madison (very frequent) and the 2 (hopefully frequent). Likewise, there will be better spacing downtown.

        I haven’t spent much time looking at their proposals for Queen Anne. It looks pretty good though. The current 2/13 split on Queen Anne is kind of awkward, since the 13 runs by a lot more people (on Queen Anne Avenue on the top of the hill). I’m not sure if the full 13 matches the 3 in the Central Area though. I would maybe look for a turnaround/layover around Queen Anne Avenue and McGraw. Then you could maybe have that 2/13 run more often, and folks headed to SPU would transfer to the 3/4 on Queen Anne. But again, that is quibbling.

        To a large extent, so is having the long-3 take over the last tail of the 2. I noticed that in their long range plan they don’t list two versions of the 3 (a long and a short). My guess is they don’t want to do anything different — they just didn’t feel like mentioning it. Likewise, switching up the tails would be a fairly minor change, and really only effect a handful of people. But any time we can save service time with a minor change I think it makes sense. The long tail of the 2 hurts the frequency of a route that goes by a lot of people — if that can easily be avoided (and it can) then we should do it.

        I feel more strongly about sending the 3 up to Yesler Terrace. If the traffic problem could be solved easily, I would feel differently. But even without traffic the change makes a lot of sense. If you want a bus to run by Harborview, this is the best way to do it (the least time consuming). It also doubles up service on Yesler Terrace.

        By the way, there are two problems with the streetcar if you are trying to get from Yesler to downtown. First, it is extremely slow — it starts out going the wrong direction, and loops around. Second, because it is going the wrong direction, it isn’t easy to wait at one stop, even though the 27 and the streetcar both go downtown. In contrast, if the 3 went up Yesler, then a rider could catch either the 3 or 27 at the same bus stop on Yesler, east of 8th. Likewise, you would want both buses to use the same stops on 3rd.

      1. No. For one thing, “east of 23rd” is a very broad definition. It goes all the way down to the water.

        130th and Roosevelt is a particular spot. A single point.

        You are comparing a corridor with a spot.

        Anyway, not to repeat what I already wrote, but if you travel along Yesler, the density begins to trail off. There is some density around 23rd, and around MLK, and a few blocks east of there. But it becomes narrower (it doesn’t extend as far north and south, unlike a few blocks to the west). In general it is smaller than the areas to the west, and narrower. Then it pretty much disappears altogether, as you go east of 31st. There are a few apartments and condos down by the water, but very few. You can see this on the old census maps ( The difference between the lowlands and the highlands has only increased.

        Turning around at MLK would lose very little of the overall density, while turning around at 23rd would lose a bit more.

        It is worth noting that there is density on the tail of the long-3. My guess is this tail has more people per mile than my proposed tail of the long-27.

    4. Several of these route 3/4 issues go back to the 80s and before. (My experience goes back only to 1978 so I don’t know much about before that.)

      In the 1980s most Seattle routes were half-hourly, many were long through-routes through downtown, and many of those had the same number on both halves. 1 (1/36: Kinnear-North Beacon Hill), 7 (7/49: Rainier Beach-UDistrict), 13 (13/12: SLU-Interlaken Park), 14 (14/47: Mt Baker-Summit), 43 (43/44: downtown-UDistrict-Ballard). The 2, 3, and 4 are the last remnants of that.

      The 3 and 4 alternated for 15-minute combined service, and there was an additional overlay of an unnumbered route signed “To Downtown Only” or “To First Hill” (but terminating at 21st near Garfield). Metro later gave those a number, so that’s where your short 3s come from.

      The 48 goes back only to the 1970s or so. Before that there was a Montlake-23rd route to the U-Distict, and the 4 was probably the only route on 23rd south of Jefferson, and nothing between Madison and Jefferson.

      In the late 80s and 90s Metro started splitting routes that went through downtown and giving half the route a new number. It did that to balance ridership. The 1 and 14 needed more frequency on the southern half. The 1 already had alternating diesel buses going downtown-Rainier Beach (or at least to south Beacon). So all the southern half was renumbered to 36 and detached from Kinnear. Kinnear and Mt Baker have similar ridership so they were attached as the 1/14. Summit has the lowest ridership so it was made the 47 and standalone. Similarly, the 13 needed more frequency in the southern half (Madison) than Queen Anne (which also had the overlapping 1/2/3/4), so Madison was renumbered to 12 and attached to the 10. (19th got a free ride in this since it was part of the Madison-19th wire, and thus gets more frequency than it deserves.)

      Metro has long-term plans to split the 2, 3, and 4 too, but it has taken a long time to come to fruition. In the 2012-2014 restructures it proposed multiple times to split the 2, fold the 4’s hours into the 3, and extend it north to SPU. These failed because status-quo advocates objected to splitting the 2 or moving the 5 to Dexter or deleting the 4’s 23rd tail, so Metro withdrew the entire restructures in those neighborhoods to try again later. The SPU terminus also wasn’t big enough for three routes yet then.

      Since then, the SPU terminus is complete and the 3/4 have moved to it. The 2 split will probably occur with RapidRide G (Madison), where Metro proposes to consolidate the 2/11/49 into a Pine-12th-Union route. (The Queen Anne part of the 2 would become part of a crosstown coverage route to E Aloha Street and Garfield HS.) The 3 and 4’s fate is unknown. Metro may revive the SPU-Madrona concept and ditch the 4’s tail.

      I don’t know about the 27. Metro has proposed several different restructures for it since 2012. During the 2014 cuts I think it was peak only or terminated in First Hill. Metro’s 2025 plan has it going north on Boren to SLU. I knew somebody who lived on Yesler and she took the 27 because it was closer, while I took the 3/4 or 7 because they were more frequent. Consolidating two of those seems to make sense, but would doubtless get howls from status-quo advocates, and I haven’t been in the area enough to say one alternative is better than another.

      I lived further west on the 3/4, a block from Harborview. I welcomed the 27 eastbound whenever it came because it was faster than going throught the James Street bottleneck.

      Metro had a plan to move the 3/4 to Yesler between 3rd and 9th to get it out of the James Street bottleneck. It was going to string new trolley wire whenever it could get funding for it. Then it withdrew the plan after some people objected that the jail should have front-door service. So everyone will have to go through the bottleneck forever because of that.

      1. When you say “split the 2”, what exactly do you mean?

        Yesler has the misfortune of being relatively close to Jackson and not that far from Jefferson. As a result, it has been treated much like a coverage route. If this was a flat, homogeneous city, then this would make a lot of sense.

        But Seattle is not that city. Yesler Terrace is a major development. It is also a very steep walk up from Jackson. You can solve that problem any number of ways. You could move the 3/4 (as was proposed in the past) which would have other benefits (like better rush hour speed). You could extend one of the other routes that go downtown (much as routes have been extended into South Lake Union). But that still does nothing for the people who live along Yesler, or a couple blocks north of it (and there are lots of people who do). Treating a very urban area like Yesler like a coverage area is misguided, given the relative density and attractions there. If the 27 is to be infrequent, it should be infrequent where it lacks density — farther to the east.

      2. “When you say “split the 2”, what exactly do you mean?”

        One route to Queen Anne and a different route to Madrona.

        “Yesler Terrace is a major development.”

        It only recently became a major development, so Metro may have overlooked it. Also, there was a big deal made about routing the streetcar through Yesler Terrace as though it would be major transit for the major development, so Metro may assume that’s enough for it.

      3. Why does the jail need front door service? Too steep to walk from 3rd?

        I actually used to work at the jail. I took the 358, which stopped right across 5th. But having to walk from 3rd (or wherever) wouldn’t have bothered me at all. And anyway, almost everyone who worked there drove.

        The inmates, of course, would not arrive via mass transit. I don’t think these days that many of them head to the Central District after getting released.

      4. I think the best option is to extend the 106. It ends at Fifth and Jackson, so it wouldn’t be too expensive to send it up Fifth.

        There is a single contraflow bus lane for northbound fifth. It makes sense to have only a few buses on the street (since buses can’t pass buses). Assuming the express buses from the north end go away, this would be the only bus on Fifth. It isn’t as frequent as the 3/4, but it would definitely give riders a front door stop next to the jail.

        The bus would have to get off of Fifth at some point. Right now the northbound bus lane ends at Marion, with buses forced east (right). The simplest thing to do would be to have the bus turn left one block prior (Columbia). They would have to add in a left turn light there, which could have a normal detector in the street (for the rare occasion when a bus is there). This would have a minimal impact on traffic. The bus would then dogleg to 3rd and layover at the first chance.

        This would cost money, but not a huge amount. We would get back some of it with the change to the 3/4 (a more frequent bus).

        This would have other benefits. Riders of the 106 would get a ride further into downtown. If you timed it right, you could get a ride up to Fifth from Third.

        But the main benefit is having the 3 go on Yesler. Not only does this avoid the traffic mess (making it far more reliable) but it serves Yesler Terrace. It also goes right by Harborview, which means that the 60 doesn’t need to. The 60 could be straighter, and follow Broadway (saving time and money). Connecting it to the 49 would save even more (even if that then means the southern part of the 60 is split off at Beacon Hill Station). Overall, it could be a fairly revenue neutral change, while many riders benefit.

      5. Perhaps the 60 should become the First Hill->SLU bus and not go to Broadway at all.

        We already have a train from Beacon Hill to Capitol Hill, as well as north/south service on Broadway via the streetcar. What we don’t have is First Hill->SLU service.

      6. Yesler Terrace has been a major development since 1941. All the 2004-2016 redevelopment has accomplished is a massive amount of gentrification.

      7. All the 2004-2016 redevelopment has accomplished is a massive amount of gentrification.

        It has dramatically increased the number of people without decreasing the number of low income units. Mixed housing is a good thing.

        The increased density leads to higher ridership. There is more publicly subsidized housing than ever on Yesler (including the projects further east) but now there are lots more people (of various incomes).

      8. It took the Yesler Terrace redevelopment quite some time to finally replace the low income housing units. Most of the families that lived there did not have the luxury of waiting around for their promised “first in line” opportunity to return. And it only replaced the low income units. It didn’t add any. Between 2006 and 2016 unsheltered persons more than doubled in the city. Replacing units on a one for one basis after over ten years is an abhorrent example of gentrification.

        Mixed density is fine. I have nothing against that as long as it stays away from corporatist land grabs like floor level retail. But low income housing not keeping pace with the needs of the city? That’s my beef with the Yesler Terrace redevelopment. Ideally it would outpace need, but that was never the point. It was all about adding more profitable units, not about actually addressing the low income needs and gaps that were evident then and only worse now.

      9. Joyless, why the jihad against “floor level retail” [did you mean “ground-level”?] Do poor people not eat? Do they not need entertainment? If we pick them, do they not bleed?

        Are not many of them of restricted mobility such that they can’t just hop into a car and go straight to an interesting destination?

        Since many are of limited mobility, omitting adjacent retail is an egregious harm. Those stores don’t have to be corporate; a reserve can be created.

      10. Perhaps the 60 should become the First Hill->SLU bus and not go to Broadway at all.

        We should have service on both Broadway and Boren. There are two logical ways to run the buses:

        1) South Lake Union/Boren/Beacon Hill Station
        2) UW/University Bridge/Broadway/Rainier/Mount Baker Station


        1) South Lake Union/Boren/Rainier/Mount Baker Station
        2) UW/University Bridge/Broadway/Beacon Hill Station

        I don’t think it makes much difference. Either way the southern anchor is a Link station. Either way the northern anchor is very strong. I figure the second option is just a bit better because it is closest to what we have.

        If it turns out that we can’t afford to add a new bus route on Boren, then connecting the 49 and 60 actually saves us money, while providing additional service on Broadway. The streetcar seems to peak out at around 12 minutes, which sounds about right for a 49/60 combo. The two could then be paired together, for a combined 6 minute frequency. That would reduce the need for express buses to First Hill from the north end.

      11. The project kept the same number of very low income unit, while adding hundreds of units for middle income residents (60% AMI, 80% AMI).

        The old buildings were run down. They were going to be replaced. Having a mixed income — but large — project was the right decision. The city has a limited amount of money, and this was a way to generate lots of housing — including lots of low income housing — without spending much money. For social reasons, it is also good to have a mix of incomes at the same place. SHA did the right thing (and is doing the right thing).

        But if you think it is wrong, feel free to express your views with the SHA. I’m sure they would love to here from you.

      12. The original buildings were detached one-story houses or small-plexes, so they were too low density for city with a severe land shortage. They may have been OK when the population was 400K in the 1940s but not now when it’s 720K. Also, it’s now considered better to integrate the poor into mixed-income neighborhoods rather than an all-poor ghetto. That gives them potential contacts, career opportunities, and role models that they wouldn’t otherwise have, thus potentially bringing them out of poverty. The redevelopments of Yesler Terrace, Rainier Vista, and Holly Park followed this model. Low-income units were replaced, new subsidized workforce housing was built, and new market-rate units were scattered in.

        Seattle does need a lot more subsidized housing, but that doesn’t mean it all needs to be in those three developments. And the housing shortage wasn’t as acute when the NewHolly and Rainier Vista conversions were planned. In the 2000s Seattle should have made a lot more subsidized housing available, but that’s not Yesler Terrace’s fault. The housing should have been and still should be throughout the city.

        The temporary displacement of people during conversion may have been a smaller problem, but it’s not enough to negate the long-term value of the new Yesler Terrace. The #1 issue is we need a lot more new subsidized housing somewhere. A third of Vienna’s housing is subsidized, and there’s something available for everyone at their income level. Don’t let issues about Yesler Terrace or temporary displacement distract from the main issue of getting more affordable housing built throughout the city.

      13. Tom, most ground level retail is unaffordable for small businesses, especially in New developments. So chains, franchises, and other forms of large businesses come in and reap the profits. Poor people do need to eat, and do need entertainment. But that doesn’t mean a new Panera on the first floor is a desirable outcome. I know people who have tried their hands at small businesses in ground level retail. None of them have succeeded.

        RossB, I am very familiar with the original Yesler Terrace homes. They were not run down in any way, shape, or form. They were more than adequate and still liveable.

        SHA is doing an incredibly poor job. Between their backwards and technologically inept lottery system (it can’t even roll over the people who were in the previous lottery into the next one) and the fact that the spots to applicants ratio is still rising, I would not call anything they are doing a smart move. I’ve sat on county level government homeless commissions withing the past year. I know exactly how much SHA and KCHA have dropped the ball, and how unwilling they are to improve their systems.

        Mike Orr, I agree that mixed income communities are preferable to single income level communities. But that doesn’t justify preventing a simple ROI style increase in the number of low income units when they are demolished. No, not every new unit should have been low income. But a 50-100% increase would have still left plenty of homes open to other income brackets and would have helped the poorest among us to find housing.

        The temporary displacement was also much more devastating than I feel you give it credit for. It effectively wiped out an entire community, one that could not ever repair the damage or effectively return to the location. Yesler Terrace was the first racially integrated public housing development in the United States. Now? That history isn’t even a placard on the street.

      14. I said some sort of “reserve” could be provided. If the development sets aside housing for subsidized tenancy, it can set aside some low-rent retail units for local restaurants, a produce vendor and locally-owned personal services. This is not rocket science. Without some sort of included retail what results is sterile “garden apartments”.

      15. A ground-floor Panera is better than no retail at all. It allows people to walk to things rather than having to go out of the neighborhood for everything. It gives more all-day foot traffic that makes the neighborhood more lively., Some developers and cities give incentives to ensure that at least half the businesses are independent or small local chains offering a wider variety than the national chains, like in downtown Redmond. Because that’s what an increasing number of customers want and are willing to patronize, and it makes people more willing to live in that development.

        My concern is less whether the business is local or national than whether it serves a large cross-section of the population. Eveybody goes to restaurants and convenience stores and hardware stores, but only a small fraction of people go to dry cleaners, boutique clothing and insurance shops. So when I see a building with only a dry cleaner like on 10th Ave E, I’m sad that that would be useless to me if I lived there, and there’s nothing I would use.

      16. the spots to applicants ratio is still rising

        Of course it is. That’s because of three factors:

        1) Overly restrictive zoning, which keeps market prices high.
        2) Huge increase in demand.
        3) Lack of money.

        The three go together. What little money Seattle has for public housing doesn’t go as far as it used to. You act as if building a lot more public housing was an option. It wasn’t. They didn’t have the money. Without a huge buy in from investors, there would have been nothing.

        But that doesn’t justify preventing a simple ROI style increase in the number of low income units when they are demolished.

        But there was an increase. Not at the very lowest level, but at the mid-level. These are people who need housing as well. If you are climbing your way out of poverty, you don’t want to be told that you don’t qualify for public housing, while at the same time you can’t afford market prices. At the same time, the increase in the number of units put downward pressure on the market. In other words, if it wasn’t for the new housing, prices for those who don’t win the lottery would be higher than it is now.

      17. Surely there is a middle ground between garden apartments apartments and cookie cutter corporate businesses (which to me are more sterile than the apartments you malign). But if a choice between the two must be made, I’ll side with homes on the ground level over corporatist land grabs any day of the week.

      18. But that doesn’t mean a new Panera on the first floor is a desirable outcome.

        Where do you think that Panera is going to go if there isn’t ground floor retail? They are going to take over the old corner shop. Of course they are. You are saying that ground floor retail is too expensive for a small business. If they get into a bidding war for the handful of places that allow retail — they will win.

        Allowing the Paneras of the world to occupy the new, high rent places opens up the lower rent places to small businesses. University Village helps reduce the amount of soulless chains on the Ave. There was a time when it looked like the Ave would resemble a mall. Now there are businesses on every block with character, even ones that are on the ground floor of apartments (

      19. RossB, in general I agree that zoning is overly restrictive, although IIRC we differ slightly on the solutions (I’d push SFHs to the outskirts of Seattle rather than eliminate SFH zoning, and I feel “missing middle” housing is not part of the solution as there is no demand for it). But that only underlines my point rather than opposes it. Yesler Terrace low income houses already being SHA land meant it was easy to rezone, there was no restriction on it.

        Likewise the huge increase in demand (which was still a thing in the early 2000s, just not as widely reported) likewise argues for more low income units. The number of additional homes could have been a better mix of low and middle income housing. The problem is the number of 80+% AMI homes that were built. Making the lower brackets fight for scraps was a clear indicator the redevelopment was about profit, not people.

        Your third point is rather confusing. It doesn’t cost less for the state to build higher income units. The construction prices are relatively fixed. The primary corporate partner, Vulcan, has a pretty sketchy record with development in the region. It’s great for the bottom line, with SLU land prices soaring, but their creations are generally soulless, bland, and catering to the 9 to 5 crowd. People don’t go to SLU for evening dining or amenities. Vulcan also purchased three parcels of land from the SHA, so the pattern of driving up real estate prices to make a quick buck and promoting gentrification and displacement is pretty clearly on display.

        All in all, Yesler Terrace’s redevelopment reminds me of a lyric from the band They Might be Giants. “Can’t shake the Devil’s hand and say you’re only kidding”

      20. Thank you, Mike. What you said much more clearly and precisely is what I was trying to convey to A Joy.

  3. I still wonder whether Mercer Island or ST will first realize this litigation is mostly based on dishonest ridership estimates on East Link by ST, that have been compounded by the effects of the pandemic and decline in demand for housing and office space in downtown Seattle. I am not sure this litigation would have ever occurred if it had waited until one year after East Link opened and actual ridership was known.

    The two main issues in the litigation are ST/Metro’s demand that Mercer Island host up to 20 articulated buses per peak hour for off-Island riders/commuters on East Link (the “optimal service configuration”). Since Mercer Island is also the turn around for the buses so they don’t have to continue into Seattle, this means one articulated bus in each direction every three minutes on North Mercer Way, which Mercer Island claims (correctly) was never designed for such an intense bus intercept.

    The other issue is Mercer Island does not want four articulated buses parked on North Mercer Way to account for driver breaks, and thinks those buses should be parked in the cities who are being served by the bus intercept. It is important to understand this is a city that effectively has no first/last mile access to East Link, so isn’t all that worked up over East Link.

    Although Mercer Island’s objections might seem reasonable, the problem for Mercer Island is its true opponent on the bus intercept is Bellevue, and on the bus layover area Issaquah, and until they understand the ridership projections are phony they want the litigation to continue.

    ST still estimates 46,000 to 52,000 riders on East Link per day in 2026. Those were crazy estimates pre-pandemic (although some of us believed them, and use to worry about capacity on East Link based on one transit tunnel and 8 minute intervals, ha ha). If post-pandemic the true number of riders on East Link — wanting to cross Lake Washington — is closer to 15,000 to 20,000 there will never be 20 articulated buses accessing Mercer Island, and many fewer buses to park or layover.

    Before the litigation ST had hinted it could live with 16 buses per peak hour (the “improved bus configuration”), and Mercer Island had hinted 12 buses per hour might be doable with some reserved park and ride space, and SOV access from Island Crest Way that benefits both sides by removing that car traffic from North Mercer Way, except the prohibition in the settlement agreement on drop offs on the north side of North Mercer Way logistically limits buses to closer to 8 per hour because of the time necessary to unload all passengers, and then load passengers at the same bus stop. ST’s incredible arrogance has also placed the Mercer Island council in a situation in which it had to litigate, and might preclude any settlement because litigation often has animal spirits.

    When you think of it, this litigation if based on true ST ridership seems pretty unimportant, when ST’s dishonesty when it comes to estimates and numbers means the N. King Co. subarea will get no ST 3 projects at all despite for paying for most of the north/south spine. If I lived in N. King Co. I would be pretty upset about that.

    Although I truly don’t think Mercer Island has anything to lose from the litigation because I don’t think there will ever be 50,000 riders on East Link, or even 20,000 riders per day crossing Lake Washington on East Link, let alone 20 articulated buses accessing Mercer Island each peak hour, I think that when ST has to admit that (which means ST is in the catch-22 of continuing the litigation or admitting it lied, which is pretty known by now) Mercer Island will lose any leverage for some things it should have received in original mitigation under the SEPA permits if our very naïve prior council had not signed off on the SEPA permits without a written agreement.

    Oh well, for the cost of $78/year in increased utility taxes when I pay more than that to King Co. each month just in a flat sewer fee I think the litigation is worth the spectacle, when Mercer Island had nothing to lose from litigating anyway.

    1. Mercer Island ST Opponents: “Oh those bus-riding people who live in Eastgate, Newport and Issaquah are such awful thugs and they don’t know how to cross the street! Even the drivers are the kind of people we find beneath us so they shouldn’t take a break here! Those all-electric buses are so noisy and ugly! I’m so scared — and I’m a victim!”

    2. I’m a bit suspicious why ST doesn’t want the courts involved. If they have done nothing wrong, they will prevail. Commenters must not be very confident ST has been honoring agreements.

    3. Before the bilateral agreement between ST and MI, a more reasonable option would have had buses circle the Link station on SE 27th Street. The transferring riders would have a shorter walk and not cross North Mercer Way. MI did not want bus traffic south of I-90. The MI concerns seem specious. Buses are getting ever more quiet. The noise of I-90 may drown out the bus noise. Buses will be electric soon. Those transferring are from Bellevue, Sammamish, and Issaquah and probably not very dangerous. The MI suit seems silly; their bilateral agreement made things worse for all.

    4. Although I truly don’t think Mercer Island has anything to lose from the litigation…

      Except increased utility fees to pay for a frivolous lawsuit that is not likely to result in anything but lawyer fees.

      I only wonder if Mercer Island can be liable for additional court costs and ST lawyer fees when they lose.

      1. If $78/year is too much to pursue what an overwhelming majority of citizens think is right then you don’t have much conviction. I pay $178/MONTH just for my King Co. Sewer line hookup.

        A lawsuit is almost never frivolous if you believe you are in the right, even though a court might disagree, or RapidRider, but then RapidRider does not live on Mercer Island. Many cities withheld and negotiated their SEPA permits with ST simply for more mitigation money, or amenities like tunnels or station location, which is also valid under SEPA, if not exactly “right”. If Mercer Island’s past council had done the same this issue would have been resolved in 2015-16, and the first round of litigation unnecessary.

        My advice to anyone: don’t trust ST.

        At least to me the settlement agreement ST drafted and signed in Nov. 2017 looks pretty clear about drop offs on the north side of North Mercer Way and bus layovers, although ST might try to plead essential services or some other legal doctrine outside the terms of the agreement, which would require mitigation funds. But the problem with that argument is the original agreement drafted by ST in 2017 split the intercept between Mercer Island and S. Bellevue, so there obviously is a cost effective and easy alternative, which defeats siting an essential service over the terms of a settlement agreement addressing the specific issue.

        It would be different if Mercer Island were objecting to East Link itself, or the stations despite terrible design, or the round about so eastside buses don’t have to travel into Seattle to turn around, or not serving as an intercept at all. But Mercer Island is objecting to a change of terms in the 2017 settlement agreement that now makes it the sole bus intercept for eastside citizens, even though the S. Bellevue Station is a better location for many of these citizens.

        What I don’t understand is folks on this blog who live in Seattle defending ST as though ST can do no wrong. Good lord, the residents of the N. King Co. subarea were just told they will pay billions for ST 3 projects in their subarea, but get none of them. If anyone should hire a lawyer to sue ST it is N. King Co. In effect, Mercer Islanders are funding ST’s litigation costs through our ST taxes.

        My guess is ST will lose the litigation with Mercer Island, which it would probably abandon if it didn’t mean admitting its ridership projections for East Link are totally false, at which point ST will offer to negotiate.

        The problem for MI is by that time everyone will know the future ridership projections for ST are false, the bus intercept on Mercer Island will be adequate without drop offs on the north side of North Mercer Way (around 8-10 buses per peak hour) due to much lower actual ridership westbound, and so Mercer Island will have won but won’t have any leverage for some things it really needs from ST, like reserved spaces at the park and ride for moms who work but can’t get there until after 7 am because of kids in school, or seniors who need four hours to take a bus to the doctor’s office, and SOV access from Island Crest Way that right now routes 1100 SOV’s per peak hour through the town center on their way to I-90 westbound.

        But no matter what happens in the litigation, Mercer Island and the eastside subarea won’t be paying over $11.5 billion for ST 3 projects it will never receive, or will have to pay twice for, and we will have the anomaly of a $4.5 billion rail line from Issaquah to Kirkland NO ONE on the eastside will ever ride, while West Seattle and Ballard never get rail (but Lynnwood does).

        I doubt the intensity of the bus intercept will ever come close to ST’s ridership projections, especially with working from home and the exodus from downtown Seattle to the eastside, but around 90% of Islanders wanted the council to litigate and were willing to pay the small tax to fund the litigation, so the council did.

      2. Hey! What Mercer Island is doing is hurting other Eastside residents! It’s Eastside residents that are impacted by making bus frequencies and transfers more difficult!

        Trying to piggy-back the entire Eastside to MI’s effort is pretty misleading when it’s other Eastside residents, riders and taxpayers that MI is hurting the most.

        I wish Bellevue, Issaquah and maybe other City Councils would pass resolutions condemning these legal tactics by MI.

      3. I happen to agree with Daniel on this one point: the case is hardly frivolous, and claims of that sort are either uninformed or simply biased. The case is not without merit and MI was right to file their complaint. Putting on my former attorney cap, and from reading the 2017 agreement as well as the case documents available through the court’s portal, it does seem that Sound Transit is attempting to breach said agreement.

      4. I certainly think there is a valid legal dispute. Anyone who works in law knows that legal realities and perceptions are two different things.

        And yeah ST messed this up by not involving Metro as well as not thinking it through fully. ST should fess up to this legal mistake. This gets into how ST management and leaders avoid admitting mistakes.

        Looking back at it, ST should have proposed building a lid directly above the station for the bus transfer center. It would be costly — but it would have created an amazingly close transfer. It’s too bad that it’s water under the bridge.

        Even so, there might be legal things ST maybe could do now to get the upper hand. The easiest is probably to get Metro buses explicitly excluded from the agreement since they weren’t party to it. The next strategy may be to play a card that as a public agency, they cannot fulfill their stated purpose somehow in court. A final strategy could be to demonstrate how bigoted opinions about riders combined with resulting restrictive actions to limit buses amounts to de facto discrimination in Federal or state law — shifting the burden of proof. After all, if private businesses (grocery stores, service stations, lawn maintenance, home renovation) in MI don’t have a limit of delivery trucks or semis, why should another public agency have one?

      5. What I don’t understand is folks on this blog who live in Seattle defending ST as though ST can do no wrong.

        No one is arguing that. Stop putting words in our mouths.

        As for ridership, it is irrelevant. There is no reason to mention it so often.

      6. If $78/year is too much to pursue what an overwhelming majority of citizens think is right then you don’t have much conviction.

        Was there a poll of Mercer Island residents that I missed where they were asked if they’d like to contribute $78/year to sue a transit agency regarding the number of buses that will be stopping at a regional light rail station that exists in the center of an Interstate Highway that sees hundreds of thousand of vehicles per day?

        If SPU raised my utility rates by $78/year to sue KCM for modifying the number of hourly buses that will be stopping at the future Ballard light rail station, I would be angry. But hey, that’s just my lack of conviction.

        A lawsuit is almost never frivolous if you believe you are in the right, even though a court might disagree…

        Jack Thompson, is that you?

    5. The whole litigation think never made any sense. The entire premise of Mercer Island is that bus service “harms” the island in some way. How? By bringing in riffraff? By making drivers wait an extra 10 seconds to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks as they switch between bus and train? The layover space is in the freeway footprint and isn’t impacting the town center. Maybe Mercer Island figures that, by threatening lawsuits, they can pressure Sound Transit to pressure WSDOT to allow SOV traffic on the Island Crest Way HOV ramp. But, there’s still no material “harm” to the island caused by Sound Transit to sue over.

      1. “The entire premise of Mercer Island is that bus service “harms” the island in some way.”

        Nope. That’s a total misreading of this civil case.
        There are only two causes of action contained in the complaint, with the primary one being a breach of contract on the part of Sound Transit. The key here is that the transit agency agreed to the terms in the 2017 agreement and now is trying to unilaterally change those terms and make new demands that will satisfy Metro’s operational needs. How the parties (to the agreement) reached that deal is of course contained in the background information, i.e., the factual assertions stated in the complaint. This is not the nature of the dispute. The Superior Court here is simply being asked whether Sound Transit is or will be in breach of this agreement if they move forward with their modifications to the bus intercept plan as outlined in the 2017 agreement. If the court says that is indeed the case and decides in the plaintiff’s favor, then relief would be granted, though it may differ from the requested relief:

        “Plaintiff requests the following relief:
        A. A declaration that the Settlement Agreement is a valid contract between the parties;
        B. A declaration that under the Settlement Agreement Sound Transit cannot require unlimited layovers, or pick-ups and drop-offs on both sides of North Mercer Way;
        C. A declaration that under the Settlement Agreement that the City’s refusal of the proposed changes are reasonable;
        D. An award and/or indemnification of reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs to the extent permitted by law and the Settlement Agreement;
        E. Damages to be determined at trial; and
        F. For such other and further relief as the Court deems just and equitable.”

      2. What I don’t get is how ST can make promises for a different agency (Metro). It seems to me that ST can claim they were only talking about their buses. Or the judge can reject the original agreement, because ST was making a promise on behalf of a third party. By the way, what if the judge does that?

  4. My suspicion is those “bus-riding people who live in Eastgate, Newport and Issaquah” (who access Mercer Island today on various buses, or did before the pandemic) will either work from home, or demand express buses to Seattle — if any still go to Seattle — when they realize adding a seat and transfer to their trip/commute increases total trip time with Metro lowering levels of service, not exactly what was promised when East Link was sold.

    Or they will drive to park and rides like S. Bellevue and Mercer Island to access a park and ride that directly serves East Link, like they do today for the 550, or did when it accessed the transit tunnel. My point was actual ridership won’t be determined by ST’s dreams, but reality, and these folks likely won’t come to Mercer Island because they hate commuting on transit even if one seat, so will stay at home or drive to a park and ride that serves East Link, but mostly stay at home.

    I am also surprised anyone on this blog would think traffic engineering is somehow based on where a citizen lives, or their presumed intelligence, as though eastside residents are smarter when it comes to deficient design. Perhaps crosswalks and traffic signals and bike lanes are not necessary on the eastside because citizens don’t need them for safety like they do in Seattle.

    However that really is not the focus of the litigation: the enforcement of the terms of the settlement agreement ST drafted in Nov. 2017 and signed is the focus.

    I am not really sure where you get the idea people on Mercer Island are afraid of residents of Issaquah, Newport (Shores or Hills) or Eastgate. That is a pretty homogenous group.

    We would like more to come to our town center, but since their town centers are more vibrant we usually go there. Our kids play sports against one another, and the eastside mingles pretty effortlessly. Same with Bellevue, Redmond, and areas served by East Link. Only someone who does not live on the eastside would state residents of Mercer Island are afraid of residents of Issaquah. Is that what you really think? No wonder this blog so misunderstands the eastside.

    1. I have lived on Mercer Island. It always seems like a particularly insular and particularly entitled community. The private access to the I-90 express lanes was an example of this. The downtown was always pretty depressing and never encouraged walking or lingering. With the excellent transit service that the downtown has toward both Bellevue and Seattle, it would be a fantastic area to create some higher density housing and some walkable downtown features, but the town leaders of Mercer Island will never permit that to happen and instead treat their Island as practically a gated community. The idea that Metro wanted to have some bus routes terminate and loop there is eminently sensible and doesn’t have to be at odds whatsoever with walkable housing and a walkable downtown. But is at odds with a car-oriented community that wants to keep outsiders out.

      And no, people from Eastgate and Issaquah won’t get dedicated express buses when people from Kirkland don’t. I continue to wonder why we fund them for Tacoma when Sounder is there at peaks.

    2. I am not really sure where you get the idea people on Mercer Island are afraid of residents of Issaquah, Newport (Shores or Hills) or Eastgate.

      Um, lots of public meetings complaining about how transit will bring in “bad elements” and increase crime? Seriously though, that is where much of the opposition has come from. (It was well reported.) Al is just mocking their nonsensical complaints.

    3. I think that some MI residents don’t appreciate how beneficial East Link will be for them.

      1. The region paid for an newly extra 1000 spaces at South Bellevue by building an expensive garage. This is a huge benefit to MI! It keeps away those that may hide and ride on the island. It moves parkers from elsewhere off the island — freeing spaces for MI residents. It even gives a close place for MI residents to park if there are no parking spaces left on MI — especially nice for those headed to Downtown Bellevue or other Eastside locations.

      2. The improved connectivity and frequency of the line is much better than the 550. It will operate faster and it will be direct not only to Downtown Seattle and Downtown Bellevue, but also to UW, Capitol Hill, Redmond and other places. It will be a single transfer to Seatac (albeit with a sucky — and fixable — connection at IDC). The trains will have frequencies that will make waiting a negligible penalty and have a much wider span of reasonably frequent service.

      3. The added regional benefit will shift cars off of I-90. If 500 drivers in the morning on I-90 between Eastgate and Seattle move to a bus, that’s trading 500 cars for say 10-12 buses. Sure the cars stay on the freeway but the buses don’t — but a few bus’ effect on congestion is pretty negligible compared to hundreds of cars.

      I really am mystified by why MI is being so petty. It appears to have its roots in fear (and honestly classism and racism behind that fear) and in resentment over the express lanes saga. We know that ST can be a bully sometimes beyond reason — but with the rest of the region doing so much to benefit them at an investment scale way out of proportion to the 25,000 residents who live there, it’s remarkably entitled. Perhaps the huge investment of the lid a few decades ago has spoiled them enough to expect huge mitigations by whining. I think Veronica from Willy Wonka lives there in spirit.

      1. #1 & #3 only makes sense if you don’t believe in induced demand. “Hey look, this new road means we won’t have traffic” holds as much water as “Hey look, this new parking garage means we won’t have hide & ride” and “Hey look, this new rail line means we won’t have traffic”

      2. The Bellevue Park and Ride will be 1500 stalls, as demanded by Bellevue.

        ST did not want to build a 1500 stall park and ride. It was paid for by the East King Co. subarea, not the region.

        Naturally, a 1500 stall will attract many eastside commuters going into Seattle who don’t want to park at a park and ride not served by East Link to catch an infrequent feeder bus to Mercer Island to catch a train, exactly what Bellevue does not want. At the same time, the intercept will also create more demand on Mercer Island’s park and ride from those same commuters who have to drive to a park and ride anyway. Why not just drive to a park and ride served by East Link rather than drive to a park and ride to catch a feeder bus?

        This may change as more and more eastside workers switch from working in Seattle to working on the eastside, which would make the S. Bellevue park and ride a more convenient location than Mercer Island. The entire point of East Link is Seattle to Bellevue access, and that looks to be fading fast. Ridership on Eastlink among eastside communities will be very light because most will drive those trips as parking is free, and congestion light during non-peak times.

        If Mercer Island had any kind of first/last mile access they would not have to drive to Bellevue’s park and ride to then go to Seattle or Bellevue. To argue Mercer Islanders can drive past their own park and ride because 53% of stalls are used by off-Islanders to access another park and ride that stops short of downtown Bellevue makes no sense, and highlights our terrible intra-Island transit.

        It is unlikely that the total trip time for those having to take a feeder bus and East Link to Seattle will improve over the 550 when it was grade separated and accessed the transit tunnel, or even the 554. Plus you add in the aggravation of a transfer, which commuters hate. Almost no one on the eastside will take East Link to the airport. That trip is way too long, and will still require accessing a park and ride. The main benefit of East Link and the transit tunnel is it allowed an eastside commuter to avoid waiting for a bus on a Seattle street.

        The intercept will add cars to I-90 and surrounding roads, because commuters (if there are any post pandemic) who have to access a park and ride anyway will drive past a large park and ride closer to their home, such as Eastgate or Issaquah, that does not serve East Link, and drive directly to a park and ride that serves East Link. You can’t force a commuter to use a bus intercept, and very few will ever use East Link except to go to Seattle.

        Not a single city, neighborhood, or institution, considered the best interests of the “region” when negotiating mitigation with ST, which is why there are subareas, and politics. The east King Co. subarea could not care less about N. King Co. losing all its ST 3 projects. Not Seattle, the UW, Montlake, Bellevue, Redmond, Microsoft (that opposed the Bellevue tunnel), Issaquah, even West Seattle and Ballard that won’t get light rail.

        The only reason MI got a station is because it was cheaper than building East Link around the Island. Since around 8% of Islanders use transit, and have no first/last mile access to the station anyway, substituting East Link for buses using the center roadway does not benefit Mercer Island at all, and all the hype for light rail outside the downtown Seattle core is just hype, except the Seattle neighborhoods that could benefit from rail won’t get it now.

        To argue Mercer Island is being racist by objecting to a bus intercept that will mostly serve eastside commuters is ignorant although the fallback argument du jour, although resentment at past treatment by ST is probably a factor, and IMO a very valid factor. Not every city or subarea has to bow down and supplicate itself to ST, which is the entire point of SEPA, and many, many areas will see increased trip times and a decline in transit levels of service from light rail because of poor first/last mile access. This is especially true on the eastside where the vast majority of intra-eastside trips will always be by car.

        If you are a Mercer Island City councilperson you really don’t read STB, or care what others think, just like those who don’t live on Mercer Island don’t care what Islanders think about their city or neighborhood. The fact when negotiating every city and every neighborhood is petty, whether it is for bridges to West Seattle and Ballard, UW station locations and mitigation funds, transit tunnels, etc.

        But like I said, in the end I think the litigation will be moot due to ST’s dishonest future ridership projections, and the decline in eastside workers commuting into Seattle. But it still worth $78/year to me to litigate.

      3. I have an honest question. The comment section supports and applauds lawsuits that target people they don’t like. E.g., AG Ferguson suing Tim Eyman. So, how come the comment section is against lawsuits against people and organizations they support?

      4. “The Bellevue Park and Ride will be 1500 stalls, as demanded by Bellevue. ST did not want to build a 1500 stall park and ride”

        Huh? Are you saying Bellevue wanted a larger or smaller P&R than ST wanted? There was always going to be a P&R there of some sort, as that’s the purpose of the station. Otherwise the station could be deleted, as the ten surrounding houses aren’t enough to justify a station.

      5. Daniel, the feeder buses won’t be “infrequent”. Alk those service hours burned west of South Bellevue and Mercer Island pre-pandemic can be p,owed back into shuttle hours running in the Eastside HOV system.

      6. The ideal vision is frequent feeders, 15 minutes all day, to all major neighborhoods. RapidRide K (Totem Lake-Factoria or Totem Lake-Eastgate) was one such planned route, that I think would have served South Bellevue station and lower Bellevue Way. But they got caught in the recession, and King County’s procrastinating on a countywide measure to fund Metro Connects. There was going to be a ballot measure last year but the county got distracted by covid and the Harborview measure. And now there’s a new wokedness to improve frequency in South King County first. So the initial feeders may not be more frequent than the current routes. That’s a general problem with our transit service, not something specific to East Link or its bus restructure.

        Low-density areas like Newport Hills can’t frequent all-day feeders because they’re low density and don’t have the businesses to generate two-way ridership all day. They chose to be that way and this comes with the territory. And they aren’t that many riders because, again, they’re low density and residential-only. So we mustn’t let the tail wag the dog. The bulk of ridership potential and resources is in the Seattle-Bellevue-Redmond axis and secondarily Kirkland. Issaquah, Sammamish, and Newport Hills will always be lesser priority, and they shouldn’t expect peak express buses to downtown when higher-density areas won’t have them, nor should the rest of East King revolve around what Newport Hills and Sammamish want.

    4. While the long-term requirement for these feeder buses is definitely cloudy, the pre-pandemic volume of Metro buses into Seattle along I-90 was likely already greater than allowed by the settlement agreement. My understanding is that Metro wasn’t a party to the agreement and I can’t see why they would agree to terms that would inhibit their ability to serve existing riders, let alone future growth.

      The transfer penalty is a real thing and will likely slow down most commuters on their way into work. However, Link will save that time and more on the way back to the Eastside in the afternoon. Getting through downtime on 2nd Ave is a disaster many days and even with a transfer, Link will be much faster and less aggravating.

      1. “My understanding is that Metro wasn’t a party to the agreement…”

        Yup, and that is the critical error that Sound Transit made resulting in this mess. For an agency that has a small platoon of attorneys on board, it seems insane that no one thought to bring Metro to the table.

      2. Bellevue wanted a 1500 stall park and ride to replace the original 500 stall park and ride, which was expensive to build. Bellevue does not believe eastsiders are going to give up their cars, which is reflected in parking requirements in Bellevue’s zoning code. (Plus ST was estimating 46,000 to 52,000 riders per day on East Link, which we now know was unrealistic).

        Generally ST has been unenthusiastic about building park and rides on the eastside because they are expensive, and ST originally thought light rail would eliminate the car, but they were in ST 2 and 3 so eastside cities are insisting the park and rides get built because they are the best — or at least favored — first/last mile access on the eastside. The reality is bus service on much of the eastside is non-existent or infrequent, in part because of the size and lack of density.

        One issue is some of the new and existing large park and rides don’t serve East Link, and so some kind of feeder bus will be necessary to get from them to a rail station on the eastside.

        The commuter or rider will already be in their car driving to a park and ride. If feeder bus frequency is poor, plus the aggravation of a transfer anyway, I would not be surprised if the commuter/rider simply drove to a park and ride serving East Link if they are going to Seattle, or directly to their destination if on the eastside with so much free parking. That is what I would do, although it may mean a lot of money was spent building park and rides that are underused.

        Some just say tough luck about infrequent feeder bus service on the eastside, except the commuter or rider is already in their car, so has options other than an infrequent feeder bus. Maybe if Metro allocates a substantial portion of its budget to frequent feeder bus service on the eastside this won’t be an issue, but if Lake City is losing service I don’t see east King Co. gaining expensive frequent feeder bus service.

        Even before the pandemic park and rides like Mercer Island and S. Bellevue would get eastsiders driving all the way to their park and ride to access the 550, or 554, because buses were more frequent than a park and ride closer to their house. I imagine that is what will happen when East Link opens to avoid a transfer on an infrequent feeder bus. Since S. Bellevue is 1500 stalls and closer than Mercer Island, I imagine it will get the lion’s share of commuters looking for a park and ride that accesses East Link without a transfer. Plus after work Bellevue has a much more vibrant retail and restaurant scene than Mercer Island.

      3. Daniel, don’t you understand that 2/3 of pre-pandemic peak service hours for express buses serving the East King subarea were spent west of South Bellevue P&R and Evergreen Point? They were burned sitting in traffic jams on Fourth South or Stewart and crawling up Fourth and down Second.

        Sur, pandemic revenue losses and plunging demand mean those hours aren’t needed right now but the revenues will come back, and with lines truncated at South Bellevue and Mercer Island there will be plenty available to run shuttles taking one-third as long to get to the transfer station frequently.

        Of course driving to South Bellevue or Mercer Island Station will be attractive, but both will fill early and workers who want a reliable slot will live with the shuttle. Overall transit times will be better for many.

        And don’t think that the “abundant parking” in downtown Bellevue is sustainable. Like in all successful cities, parking fees will steadily outpace inflation.

      4. Tlsgwm, what will Mercer Island do — indeed, what CAN it do — to prevent Metro from running on public streets to truncate its express buses on MI?

        If ST is smart it will truncate any of its routes that need it at South Bellevue and let Metro loose on Mercer Island. ST’s routes are typically “all-day” focused with more flyer stops and would benefit from the synergy of connecting with I-405 services at SoBel. Indeed an Issaquah-Eastgate-Richards Road-SoBel-downtown Bellevue “BRT” line would be a good start for Issaquah Link.

        Metro’s I-90 runs are more classical CBD peak expresses direct from a P&R to downtown and hence likely to benefit from the faster transfer at MI.

      5. “Tlsgwm, what will Mercer Island do — indeed, what CAN it do — to prevent Metro from running on public streets to truncate its express buses on MI?”

        Where will they do so? MI is a code city and thus has broad “police powers” under our state constitution as well as RCW 35A.11.020. This grants them essential control over its public ways in all manner of things, including where a transit agency can locate its stops. Hence, this is why transit agencies have to work with the planning groups of the various jurisdictions (like SDOT) that their services will interface with. The county’s authority, and by extension in this case Metro’s authority, does not supercede this fundamental provision for all code cities.

      6. Tlsgwm, OK; thanks. If there is to be no bus intercept, why even have the station? Nobody except the maids coming to work and going home in the afternoon will use it.

      7. Oh, if Metro put its stops on WashDOT property (e.g. the “lid” somebody suggested), could it then use those stops freely? Or does it actually have to beg the right to drive on the streets?

        If so, “Wow, just wow!”

    5. Tisgwm’s post is probably the best and most neutral (and non-judgmental) on this blog about the litigation between Mercer Island and ST (considering I live on Mercer Island).

      An irony is in the first litigation ST filed suit with a very simple claim: Mercer Island had approved the SEPA permits without condition and those permits had vested. Mercer Island’s answer was mostly equitable claims about being taken advantage of (except the core fact our prior council were idiots, which still isn’t a defense to vesting under LUPA), while in this litigation Mercer Island filed first with the two simple claims Tisgwm quotes, while ST’s answer is filled with equitable defenses to a breach of contract claim, that like the first litigation has two unsympathetic parties without “equity”.

      Of course, ST has one important defense in any litigation: a huge checkbook (in part funded by Mercer Island) and as a lawyer a huge checkbook (including non-monetary relief such as reserved park and ride stalls) is never a bad thing in litigation, even if the checkbook is very arrogant or wants you to show you can win before opening the checkbook.

      If you want my two cents worth, ST’s reluctance to resolve the litigation is because ST doesn’t want to admit it lied about future ridership on East Link, that caused a lot of concern over capacity on East Link and the second transit tunnel, for years, not because of Mercer Island or even the Eastside subarea because it has plenty of money, but because of the recent admissions over budget shortfalls for virtually all of ST 3 in the N. King Co. subarea. Seattle is still the big dog, and telling the big dog you lied about costs, and the subarea that (foolishly) funded most of the spine won’t get rail to West Seattle and Ballard is how CEO’s get fired, and Rogoff is toast by years end, and not because of Mercer Island. Even ST doesn’t have an $11.5 billion checkbook.

  5. Carl, I don’t know when you last lived on Mercer Island or where but the town center was upzoned over a decade ago, and includes multi-family mixed use development from 5 to 3 stories as it moves south to encourage more density towards transit. In its 2010 Vision Statement the PSRC stated Mercer Island’s maximum build out population was 26,000 that was supposed to be reached post 2050. Today Mercer Island’s population is over 26,000.

    Unfortunately past town center codes marginalized retail requirements and parking requirements for housing in the tall mixed use developments, which is why retail has suffered, and our streets are filled with overflow multi-family residential parking. We hope to fix that with yet another town center code rewrite.

    I also don’t know where you get your information on transit. Mercer Island use to have transit along the perimeter — the 201 — but Metro cancelled it, and will likely cancel the 630 directly to downtown Seattle that was popular. The only transit today is very infrequent 204 from the south end to the north end. You really cannot live on Mercer Island without a car, especially since the Island is quite steep. Metro does not serve the eastside well because of the sheer size and lack of density.

    What keeps people out of Mercer Island is the same thing that keeps them out of other communities: the cost of housing, and the new multi-family and mixed use housing is just as unaffordable as the rest. Anyone on this blog is free to move to Mercer Island any time they want. I do agree density is an issue on Mercer Island, and single family zoning, but that is true of the entire eastside, and is not likely to change because a majority of citizens don’t want an urbanist vision like Seattle.

    Are you sure people from Kirkland don’t get express buses to downtown Seattle. If citizens not served by East Link don’t get express buses my guess is it will because there will be too little cross-lake transit ridership, especially for commuting.

    1. Yes, I rode the 201 and the 202 when I lived on Mercer Island. The 201 only had two or three trips each way, and I was one of about 6 riders when I rode. My statement about excellent transit was for the walkshed of the 550 stops, not that the area has been made friendly for pedestrians.

      Strangely downtown Kirkland and the S. Kirkland P&R no longer have a direct bus to downtown, while the I-405 P&Rs other than Houghton do, peak direction only.

      1. Strangely downtown Kirkland and the S. Kirkland P&R no longer have a direct bus to downtown, while the I-405 P&Rs other than Houghton do, peak direction only.

        I’ve complained about that as well. It is backwards. It makes sense to go to the UW Station during peak, and go downtown the rest of the day. During peak, the bridge never goes up, and Link is frequent. Outside of peak, this isn’t the case.

        That being said, I would probably wait until they connect the HOV lanes. At that point, getting to UW Station will be a breeze, any time of day. Even when the bridge is open, the bus will be able to get right to the front, avoiding congestion (the backup is always worse than the wait for the bridge to open and close). At that point we really shouldn’t have any buses going downtown via SR 520.

        Oh, and I would add a 15 minute all-day bus that goes from UW Bothell to the main UW campus. That would stop at all the freeway stops along the way (on both 405 and 520). Then I would truncate the 372 in Lake City (renaming it the 72).

      2. The 255 used to go from the Kirkland TC and the S Kirkland P&R to downtown. The comment section wanted it truncated at UW Station. You got your wish. Now you are complaining it doesn’t go downtown??

      3. Different commenters have different opinions. I still stand by the change to route 255 as the right thing to do because a detour downtown to go north is really a lot of backtracking.

        There’s also little reason to go downtown these days, anyway, except to take a bus somewhere that you could also get to by simply taking a different bus from the U district.

      4. There’s also little reason to go downtown these days, anyway, except to take a bus somewhere that you could also get to by simply taking a different bus from the U district.

        Oh come on. I’m not saying they made the wrong choice, but get real. Downtown has way more connecting buses than the U-District. And if you think there is no reason to visit someone downtown, why visit the UW? There are no sporting events, performances and class is not in session. You aren’t even supposed to walk by the cherry trees.

      5. It comes down to where are you trying to go. Anywhere north of the ship canal, the bus connections are more direct if you make the switch at UW. Similar for anywhere east of downtown. Instead of taking the 2, 3, or 10, take the 48 or Link. Southeast of downtown, you’re switching to Link anyway – may as well make the switch at UW, rather than downtown. Airport – same.

        The remaining destinations where downtown might provide a more direct path include downtown itself, SODO, West Seattle, Belltown, and Queen Anne. These are not insignificant. But you have to weigh the time penalty of detouring downtown when you don’t want to go downtown vs. the time penalty of detouring to UW Station when you do want to go downtown. Link closures are kind of a special case, but during a normal service pattern, the former is a vastly higher time penalty than the latter. What you’re proposing is add 30+ minutes to all trips between Kirkland and north Seattle to make Kirkland->downtown maybe 5 minutes faster. And that’s not even getting into the slog through downtown itself translating into more service hours per run, with the direct result being a return to the 30-minute service it had before.

        On top of that, the old 255 with its 5th/6th Ave. couplet never connected with the 3rd Ave. bus spine all that well (I often had to walk as much as 5 blocks downtown to make connections). And, even if it did, I much prefer making connections away from all the crazy people on 3rd Ave., when practical.

        There are some zero-cost things that Metro could do to make it easier to get to downtown. Tweaking the schedules of the 255 to provide a well-timed connection to, if not every train, at least every other train, would be a good place to start. But, I don’t like the idea of simply ignoring the entire northern half of the city altogether for the sake of downtown.

      6. Anywhere north of the ship canal, the bus connections are more direct if you make the switch at UW.

        That is simply not true. Let’s say you are going up to Greenwood and 105th. From the UW you have to take two buses. From downtown you take one. It is actually faster from downtown. Same is true for much of the Greenwood corridor, like Phinney Ridge. It takes a little over 20 minutes to get there from downtown: It takes about twice as long to go from the UW, and often the best option is to start by going downtown The same is true for parts of the Aurora corridor and along 15th (e. g. Ballard High School

        There are winners and losers by sending the bus to the UW. If you are going to the UW, or a northeast destination (U-Village, Children’s Hospital, Lake City) you come out way ahead. If you are headed to the main part of Ballard, you come out a bit ahead. Likewise with the 85th corridor (e. g. Greenwood neighborhood). But there are various places in the north end where you actually come out behind. The greater Central Area is largely a wash. Meanwhile, every place in the south end you come out behind. Queen Anne and Magnolia you come out behind. You would really have to do a detailed analysis to figure out which saves more time.

        That isn’t why they truncated the bus. They truncated the bus to save money. The money went into increasing frequency. It is quite likely that riders lose more time overall with the new bus route, but gain it back (and then some) by the added frequency.

      7. “Meanwhile, every place in the south end you come out behind”

        Not the places that Link goes. If you’re going to make the switch anyway, getting on Link further back puts you, if anything, slightly ahead.

        Even Phinney Ridge, I’m not sure you’d really be behind. The 44 and 45 are both frequent buses. You can take whichever of the two comes first, with minimal wait time. Less total distance on the bus can easily cancel out the extra transfer. And, depending on which bus comes first and where in Phinney Ridge you’re going to, maybe you don’t even need that final transfer to the 5. Maybe just walking half a mile from the 44 or 45 is good enough.

      8. “Meanwhile, every place in the south end you come out behind”

        Not the places that Link goes.

        OK, fair enough. Although the difference is minor, really. A bus running on the freeway is going to be fast — as fast as Link, if not faster. It really comes down to how long it takes for the bus to reach the stop close to the station, and how long it takes to get to the platform. If the bridge is up, you are way better going downtown. Most of the time it is a wash.

        Besides, that only works for Link stations, which make up a tiny subset of the destinations. For example, if you are going to Columbia City, then yes, you can take Link and walk an extra ten minutes, but most people would prefer the 7.

        Even Phinney Ridge, the 44 and 45 are both frequent buses.

        Right, but they are slow, and even the combination isn’t that frequent. And most of the time you need to transfer again — to that same 5. Yes, you can walk — but in that case you can take the E and walk as well. You have an extra transfer, and the bus takes longer to get to your destination. It is the same dynamic. For a couple of spots on the corridor (45th and 85th) it is about as fast via the UW. For the rest of Greenwood Avenue, going from downtown is faster. Play around with it on Google Maps if you want — the bus just gets from one place to another faster.

        That’s because Aurora is an expressway. It is also because we can’t run buses on 65th, let along 75th. We can’t build a complete grid for the entire city. This also explains why Ballard to UW would reap huge benefits (taking advantage of the very fast north-south bus travel, while replacing the very slow 44). It also explains why a train on Aurora is a bad idea (the E is extremely fast, and riders of the 5 won’t want to transfer).

        All of this, of course, is beside the point. As I wrote, there will be winners and losers. But before the change, way more people got off downtown than at the UW. Obviously the poor station location had something to do with it, but it obviously meant that lots of people were just heading downtown (to transfer, or as their destination).

        There is no way that Metro would have made this change if it didn’t save them money. But it does. It saves them quite a bit. Not because the trip to downtown is slow, but because the bus to the UW just quits, right by the station (while a downtown bus goes through on Third).

        Again, I’m not saying this is a bad idea. Far from it. But the goodness comes from the savings, and nothing else.

  6. I’m disappointed that link is not going to at least 10 minute headways in the spring service change. Drivers are getting vaccinated. We need more service!

    1. Did anyone watch the Zoom conference on how to deal with the many crises Downtown Portland is facing linked to in the summary? I thought many of Portland’s problems mirrored Downtown Seattle’s, and are in many ways policy errors, although Downtown Seattle has so many more advantages than Portland.

    2. Seems like the natural solution is for Seattle to sweep up homeless people and drop them in Bellevue where they will be housed in the city jail. What’s not to like?

  7. The state highways are designed wrong in the first place. They are designed for hi speed. There’s no traffic calming effects on these highways, no surprise. Drivers won’t have incentives to slow down. Lowering the speed limits won’t work, people will still follow the psychology of the roads and will only create resentment among drivers required to drive slower than the road is engineered to accept.

    1. Automated tickets are the way to go. Within a week everyone will slow down. You can bet on it.

      1. And maybe the Rentonites who use Martin Luther King and/or Rainier Avenue South to drive to and from work in Seattle will switch to I-5 or begin taking the bus.

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