Animation by NACTO showing how many people per hour a lane of street can carry in cars, on bikes, on foot, and on transit.

26 Replies to “Weekend open thread: people per hour”

    1. Saw that. And also. Brooklyn is open. So you can walk, bike or drive by the station. I saw it this morning.

      1. I was there this morning too.

        You can now get Thai Tom at the north end of the Ave and then go straight down Brooklyn to Fritz Hedges to enjoy it in the sun – all without having to drive or walk on the Ave.


    2. Yes! I saw the news conference recording last night. I can’t seem to find it to link here though.

      Even though it’s a week or two later than we thought, it looks like the testing is going well. Given the months and sometimes years of new delay that has befallen projects currently under construction or recently opened — Muni, BART, LA Metro, DC Metro and Honolulu — ST is to be commended for achieving a better construction timeline.

      I was also struck that the prepared remarks casually refer to Lines 1 and 2 as if they are the accepted ways to refer to Link moving forward. Time to update our general referencing of Link service!

      1. Given the months and sometimes years of new delay that has befallen projects currently under construction or recently opened — Muni, BART, LA Metro, DC Metro and Honolulu — ST is to be commended for achieving a better construction timeline.

        The train was supposed to get to the U-District in 2006, so that’s 15 years late*. With ST2 it was supposed to get to the U-District and Northgate by 2020, so that time it was a year late**. You can see how other projects were really late, with the worst being First Hill Station, which may never be built. In this case, they just kept updating the timeline until it came close to being realistic (well after people actually voted). I except them to do the same thing with ST3. The new estimate for Ballard Link will be 2045, and then when it gets built in 2044, they will brag about being early.


      2. Uhhhh…. the comment was commending ST after construction was underway. It’s no reflection on the overall project development timeline. That’s why I said “construction timeline”.

      3. What do they have left to do that needs another 6 months?

        TriMet only ran about 3 weeks worth of test trains on the Orange line before opening. It just takes a lot of staff to kick everyone off each train before running it through empty to the end of the line.

        Or maybe I’m misinterpreting the level of the type of test runs?

        I would guess a bunch of finish work on the stations still needs to be completed?

      4. Glenn, I think the subway profile requires more testing. Evacuating tunnels, fire detection and suppression, station conveyances and other thinks are more complex than with a surface rail.

        I think there is also an ongoing issue about the timing of the new rail car delivery.

    3. Ya. I was hoping for earlier, but the NG Link opening got stomped on by a combination of CV-19 and the Husky Football schedule.

      CV-19 ate up most of the float, and ST (wisely) isn’t willing to take the risk of opening NG Link on the same day as a Husky football game. That leaves only the 9/11 date as a potential early open for Link, but as that would require essentially every day of float to hold true, it just isn’t worth the risk.

      But hey, Husky football is important, and the system should be battle tested by the UCLA game on Oct 16. So that is good. And it will be ready for the Saint Demetrius Greek Fest in Nov. that is also good.

      But no taking Link to see the M’s for me this year. The M’s lose again.

      1. “The M’s lose again.”

        Well, that’s a common refrain heard around here anyway, for most of the past 17 years (just 5 winning seasons since 2003).

        Sorry, but I couldn’t resist. Actually I’ve been an M’s fan since the Smulyan days. It took me a few years to switch my “allegiance” to the AL (having grown up in the city as a Mets fan) after moving here in the late 80s. I guess I’ve always rooted for the underdogs. I’m not sure when we’ll get back to the ballpark though. Maybe next season.

      2. Yeah, but at least being a Mariners fan, you could still get to hate the Yankees.

        “Maybe next season.” Ah, the other Mariners perennial quote.

        I miss the likes of Marvelous Marv Throneberry, Casey Stengel, et al.

    4. If I understand the various releases correctly, Metro is going to extend the current timetables through October 1. Does anyone know if I understand correctly?

      1. The news conference that I watched (but now can’t find) included reps from CT and Metro both stating that the new routings would be delayed a few weeks to coincide with the October 2 Link opening of Line 1.

  1. Cute animation! However, capacity is usually limited by how long people aren’t moving — like at crosswalks, intersections, stops, station platforms and at other places where delays happen. Add to that places where moving in opposing directions results in waiting to get clearance like with left turns.

  2. I’m not seeing how a transit way has nearly 3X the capacity of a sidewalk. A good example of what an at-capacity sidewalk looks like would be main concourse of the Mariners stadium, right after the game ends. That’s a lot of people moving at once.

    1. A bus or train moves faster so several times more people can use the lane in the time it takes one person to walk from one end to the other.

    2. I suppose that’s possible in theory if you have a whole train of packed buses, a mile long, one after the other, with none of them stopping. But at anything remotely approaching a reasonable frequency (e.g. one bus/train every 3 minutes) that doesn’t seem possible. Nor is it possible if the transit has a stop for people to get on or off, due to boarding time.

      I observed a more realistic comparison example a few years ago during the Vancouver Olympics, while traveling to a speedskating event. The venue was located about a mile from the nearest SkyTrain station. Spectators were given the choice of either walking a Burke-Gilman-style trail connecting the station to the venue or riding a shuttle bus on a street parallel to the trail. To meet the event demand, the shuttle buses were running pretty much continuously and temporary restrictions were in place, designating the entire street exclusively for the shuttle buses. In spite of this, there was a long line to board the buses, inducing enough people to walk so that the trail was also packed. (They actually had signs actively encouraging people to walk unless someone in the party had a disability to try and keep the shuttle lines somewhat manageable). I didn’t rigorously count, but at least eyeballing, it looked like the sidewalk was clearly carrying more people. In large part, this is because the time necessary to board and deboard a bus imposed a minimum amount of spacing between buses, thereby reducing the capacity to well below the theoretical limit of a bus lane.

      1. Based on this data, the minimum headway and maximum current vehicle capacities, the theoretical maximum throughput measured in passengers per hour per direction (PPHPD) for a single traffic lane is some 90,000 passengers per hour (250 passengers per vehicle, one vehicles every 10 seconds). In real world conditions TransMilenio holds the record, with 35,000 – 40,000 PPHPD with most other busy systems operating in the 15,000 to 25,000 range.

        (From What about trains? From

        Typical capacity lines allow 1,200 people per train, giving 36,000 people per hour. The highest attained capacity is 80,000 people per hour by the MTR Corporation in Hong Kong.[38]

        So, yeah, the numbers on the chart for buses and trains are conservative.

  3. – Observation. I rarely see bicyclists in dt Bellevue, even on sunny days. Not even on the newly built 108th ave bike lanes. I frequently see bicyclists along Kirkland’s waterfront, especially on sunny days.

    – How about an October 2nd countdown clock on the main page?

    – I asked someone to verify the rumor that some suspended Metro are coming back as subcontracted service this fall. How are you coming along on that very simple assignment?

    – I predict Amazon won’t build anything on Rainier.

    1. The 108th Ave. protected bike lanes are of limited usefulness because they’re just an isolated few blocks. Most of the surrounding streets don’t even have paint bike lanes. So, in order to make any useful trip that involves the protected lanes, you have to be willing to ride in mixed traffic for other parts of the trip – often on streets which are much busier than 108th.

      From the standpoint of a vehicular cyclist, unprotected bike lanes actually have many advantages over protected bike lanes. They’re easier to turn left from or pass a slower cyclist in front of you. They also typically merge with right-turning cars ahead of a signalized intersection, which avoids the “right hook” problem where cars cut across the bike lane to turn.

      Of course, on a street where the cars are moving very fast, the benefits of a protected lane still very much outweigh the drawbacks. But, on a 25 mph street (with stoplights every block to deter speeding), it seems overkill.

  4. Cute macro graphic but they always need footnotes. Examples. The cars are assumed to carry 1.1 persons each. The bikes all travel at ten mph. The pedestrians all travel at three mph. The transit way does not have stops, deceleration, or acceleration. Capacity does attract ridership but the lack of it can repel ridership. Other service attributes do attract ridership: frequency, speed, span, reliability, connectivity, and security. Often, spending funds on capacity means not having as much of other service attributes. The graphic hints at the value of grade separation.

    1. The transit way does not have stops, deceleration, or acceleration.

      See my comment above. There are real world mass transit lines (lines, not systems) that carry that may people per hour — sometimes a lot more. They have stops all right, along with fairly small headways, short dwell times, and in the case of trains, are very large.

      But yeah, this should have listed various footnotes, such as width. This chart lines up with the diagram reasonably well:
      It is from

    2. Also … a bike lane CAN carry 7500 people per hour. The reality of what they actually carry is a different story. The newly built protected bike lanes on 108th ave in dt Bellevue probably carries 4 bicyclists per day.

      1. You cam close to my question~ What bike lanes actually accommodate 7500 riders in an hour? Cities, locations, time of day, etc. please.

  5. This is pretty unrealistic. A bike lane as crowded as that shown in the graphic would be unsafe, and where except The Netherlands would you find enough cyclists to fill it even half that densely? Sidewalks are great, but they have a limited range, to say the least. Most people won’t walk more than a mile or two on a regular basis. The only thing that scales and has the range to serve a genuine city is high-capacity transit. That’s it; there’s no other geometrically sound solution available today.

    As an aside, the tweet three below the linked “Street Space” one, shows how very well named Musk’s tunneling company is. Who wants to ride a small vehicle through a tiny tube for very far? Jes’ sayin’.

  6. If the light rail lobby wasn’t so strong, perhaps we would’ve had a busway up I-5, which buses could’ve used for many different destinations. If transit agencies were more flexible, they’d be willing to modify plans as situations changed. For example, every time I see the map for Everett Link, I wonder why Snohomish County Executive Somers insisted on the dogleg that costs an extra $10B and five years’ construction time for 2, maybe three, stations that BRT already serves quite well and why all of the local politicians fell in line for a density that’s not there. Since ST-3 passed, Boeing-for whom the dogleg was made-has shifted operations out of Everett and is on the verge of selling their Dreamlifter operations for FedEx to use for cargo operations. ST now faces a $11 Bn hole. Despite this, ST nor the politicians will flex. They also cling to the money pit known as Sounder North, where express buses were serving downtown-bound customers long before it. I suspect many of those buses will now travel to a Lynnwood Link station. A great PR opportunity for the agency would be to demonstrate flexibility and prudence by maximizing bang for the buck: prioritize finishing the I-5/405/90 spine, rethink wasteful segments that were included to appease corporations (Boeing and Google lines), split expansions into segments (most notably Everett’s-complete Lynnwood to Mariner to connect to Swift BRT first and separately), drop underperforming services like Sounder North to help close the shortfall.

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