A @SoundTransit Link Train  Stretching Under Intl District Station Skylight

This is an open thread.

199 Replies to “News roundup: part 2 of 2”

  1. a) Thanks for using my photo w/ credit. Much appreciate and yes, I miss riding Sound Transit.
    b) Hey listen I’m getting really concerned that ST Boardmember Durkan wants to discuss a personnel matter in 3 weeks in executive session as per the ST Board Exec Committee of 6 May 2021. Repeatedly didn’t want staff in the room. Wonder what this is about… CEO Rogoff or??
    c) I really fear we’re going to have rider hesitancy for at least a year or so. It’s going to take a return of congestion and a serious decline in Covid19 cases, plus some responsible reporting to get back to 2019 ridership levels. Just my .02 on the subject.

  2. “Reps. Marilyn Strickland and Cathy McMorris Rodgers co-sponsoring a good TOD bill:

    Has the bill even been published yet?

  3. King County doesn’t have a lot of at-grade rail crossings, but many other parts of the country do. In Houston, for example, rail crossings affect a lot of major bus routes; making them grade-separated would do a lot to make transit more reliable and reduce bus bunching. Unlike traffic delays, which happen largely during rush hour, train delays happen randomly at literally any time of day or night, without notice.

    1. Kent has at-grade crossing; see route 150, 153, 165, 183. SODO had one before fall 2020.

      1. The one in SODO barely counts, since that affects only the 50 (and only because of the 50’s silly detour).

  4. Many of those operators moved to other parts of Metro or King County and don’t want to drive anymore. There reasons. Close enough pay, less stress. That is what my former Metro driver told me. Route 75 weekdays.

  5. Interesting that Dembowski was the sole vote against Metro’s September service change. But that did get me thinking about what North Seattle will be getting.

    Back when UW station opened, Metro really emphasized the compromise for the local neighborhoods. They would lose all-day 1-seat service to downtown on routes like the 71/72/73. But they’d gain substantially increased frequency on local routes like the 65/67/75/372. As a person who works at UW, I very much appreciated this deal.

    Now with Northgate Link, Sound Transit is making a similar deal. Lose 1-seat service to downtown on route 522, but increase frequency on the 522.

    But what is Metro doing? The 41 gets truncated (and turned into the 20) AND frequency gets decreased. No improvements on other local routes like the 345/346/347/348 at Northgate or the 44/45 at U District. Maybe I’m missing something, but this seems like a substantial downgrade for local bus service in North Seattle.

    1. Dembrowski has done three significant things in recent years.
      (1) The 2008 recession gutted revenue. In 2012 the state authorized and the county enacted a 2-year tax surcharge to prop up Metro service hours. In 2014 when it expired, the county approved four rounds of cuts starting in September 2014. The first round went through. I don’t remember if the second did. In 2015 Dembrowski convinced the council to cancel the remaining rounds, arguing that the economy was recovering sufficiently to not need them. At the time it the economy had bottomed out but it was unclear whether it would recover that much. So the county took a risk it shouldn’t have, but got lucky because the economy did recover enough to not need the cuts.
      (2) In 2016 during the U-Link restructure, Dembrowski convinced the council to reinstate the 71 tail, which Metro had deleted. Rumor said it was because his wife rode the route. The hours came out of planned increases on the 45 and 67 (10 minute frequency). Later the economy got robust enough to re-add the 10-minute frequency.
      (3) Now Dembrowski voted against the Northgate Link restructure, and the reason quoted in the article is that Metro should be more “nimble” and find a way to avoid deleting coverage like the 78. This sounds a lot like his reasoning in #1. We don’t have enough information to evaluate what the impact to Metro would be, but it sounds like Dembrowski is again betting on a bullish recovery. My opinion remains the county should not take this risk until it has the money in hand.

      Metro had proposed more service in Northgate, a route 61 from Lake City to NW 85th Street, that would I think preserve the current service level between Lake City and Northgate. The reason it was cancelled is the covid recession: Metro had to reduce hours, and it chose not to reclaim hours from the 41. Metro had also gotten an equity bee in its bonnet, and said that any reclaimed hours should not remain in the subarea as had heretofore occurred but instead be redirected to South King County and South Seattle for equity. It’s clear that South King county needs more service and has been neglected for decades, but that shouldn’t come at the expense of frequent feeders from major urban villages to Link. The reason we’re building Link is to improve the transit network, and these feeders are a necessary part of that. So we weren’t going to get the hours anyway because of equity, and then the recession erased the hours anyway. Seattle’s TBD renewal was smaller than the expiring one, so it didn’t help as much as it could have, although some Lake City-Northgate service came back in the form of a route 20 (LC-Northgate-Latona-UDist). Still, evening service will go from 15 to 30 minutes on the 125th-5th path, and remain 30 minutes on the LCW-Northgate Way path. And since the 20 and 75 will stop around the corner from each other, you’ll have to have the schedules memorized to know which stop to go to.

      BUT, the 522 is being rerouted to Roosevelt. This is a major deal. It preserves the Lake City part of the 522 (to be lost when Stride replaces it), and it opens a new transit corridor between Lake City and Roosevelt. This both improves trips to Roosevelt, creates new transfer opportunity to the 45, and is a faster way to get to the U-District by transferring to Link or the 67 at Roosevelt instead of Northgate. So that will be one concession to Lake City. I think the 522 will go up to 15 minutes daytime but may remain 30 minutes evenings, so it won’t solve Lake City’s access problem, it just mitigates it somewhat. At the 522 stops the 522 and 20 will overlap, but probably not even wait times between them.

      The Northgate restructure is less than we had hoped, and more status-quo in several ways. Still, I will be very happy to get Link, and the flaws in Metro’s network can hopefully be remediated when the economy recovers.

      1. I agree with the timeline, and the official reasons given for all those changes. The problem is, it is BS.

        If there really is a shortage of money, then why keep routes like the 302, 303, 320 and 322? It makes no sense to keep poorly performing express routes that largely mimic Link if you are short on money. From an equity standpoint, it makes no sense either. Folks who work only peak hours tend to make more money. Those who work in the middle of the day and evenings work in various neighborhoods (tending bar, cleaning tables, etc.). They live in apartments in Northgate or Lake City, and work along Phinney, Greenwood or Aurora Avenue. This change does nothing for them. It is clearly geared towards the well to do. It is neither aimed at boosting ridership, nor equity. If the goal was ridership, they would have kept the good part of the 26, and killed off the 73 and 79. They would have thrown away all the express routes to downtown. But that would have meant that wealthy home owners would complain, and the last thing we want is that.

        By my reckoning, simply killing off the express routes would be enough to have all day 15 minute service of the 61. That was before SDOT chipped in for the 20 (that would put midday service at around 10 minutes). They could have done that, but serving low income people wasn’t a priority.

        So the most significant positive change is a bus route that will run every 15 minutes during the day, and worse at night. It is a good change, but a rather obvious one, and it wasn’t even made by Metro. That is pretty sad.

    2. I agree. They abandoned the biggest positive change — the 61 — early on in the process. Everything else is minor. The highlight is probably the one-seat ride from Lake City/Northgate to East Green Lake (the new 20). This also means a two-seat ride instead of a three-seat ride from Lake City/Northgate to Greenwood. But it is still a three seat ride to Phinney Ridge, or places along Aurora or 15th in Ballard. For many trips, the best option is to use the 40, even it is spends much of its time going the wrong direction (north when you want to go south) and requires a transfer. Bring a good book, I suppose.

      Everything else is designed for rush-hour commuters who are afraid of trains, or low density areas (or both). The weakest part of the 26 is kept, as the people in the Latona houses get a one-seat ride to the UW. The 79 covers 75th. The 73 is kept, for some strange reason. A lot of the money that could go into improved service to Link, or making common trips a lot more convenient (or both, like the 61) is instead going into peak-only service that largely mimics Link, often going right by the station before going to downtown (albeit a different part of downtown). These types of routes tend to perform very poorly, and provide little in the way of time savings for the riders.

      The biggest losers are the folks farthest away from Link. Those on Stone Way are seeing their express to downtown (via Aurora) go away, while the less performant northern section is kept (and renamed the 20). It will be interesting to see how this new route performs since right now that northern section gets by mostly with riders taking a one-seat ride from downtown to North Seattle College. Those riders are likely to ride Link to Northgate, and either walk across the bridge, or take one of several buses.

      Overall, it went from a solid proposal, with some minor tweaks needed (combine service on 85th, get rid of the peak-only expresses) to a very disappointing plan.

      * In this context I mean the Northgate neighborhood, not just the Northgate transit center. So this includes everything from around 5th and Northgate Way to NTC. A trip from there to Phinney Ridge will remain a three-seat ride, for example. This was a blown opportunity to dramatically improve the transit network in the north end of Seattle. Wait until next time, I guess.

    3. “Everything else is designed for rush-hour commuters who are afraid of trains, or low density areas (or both)… The 79 covers 75th.”

      That’s a new all-day corridor. When I was in college I knew a woman who lived on 75th, and I thought I wouldn’t want to live there because of the lack of east-west bus service. This finally starts to rectify that.

      1. Right, but hardly anyone lives there. It is a very low density area. They are getting all day coverage, while Metro complains about being short on money. Many of them at least have a bus that will get them to Link, or with a transfer get them east-west. In contrast, consider 32nd Avenue NW. During rush hour, the 17 (serving apartments on 32nd) performs very well. It is at the top 25% of buses in the top category. During the rest of the day, people just have to walk. There is no bus service any direction.

        This is why this thing is such BS. Essentially Metro is saying “Hey, sorry to you folks in the north end. Times are tough, and we need to spread the savings to other parts of the city. But first we have to add a brand new, poorly performing route that will run infrequently. It isn’t really a coverage route (since most riders have a different bus they can take) but the handful that actually take it will like it … we hope.”

    4. We should direct our activism at getting the 61 created as soon as possible through either Metro or the STBD, whichever opportunity comes first. An argument in its favor is that Metro proposed it, and presumably still thinks it’s worthwhile. There are many things Metro would do if it had more service hours.

      1. Yes, I agree.

        Unfortunately the latest restructure, with the new 20, makes it harder. At a minimum, you would truncate the northern part of the 20 at Northgate Transit Center. Otherwise you redundantly serve a section that shouldn’t have it. Even then, there is a redundancy with the 20. The best thing about the 20 is that it connects Northgate/Lake City to 85th. The 61 would do that, and do it better.

        Worth noting: the 61 would take less time than the 20, even if the 61 went all the way to 32nd Avenue NW. By quite a big margin, from what I can tell (at least 25% less time). Thus you could replace the 20 with the 61, and run it more often without spending any more money.

        That is what I would do. But that would be difficult, after the 20 was just added. We could probably truncate the 20 at Northgate, and live with the redundancy, especially since it effectively adds frequency (if you miss the 61 from Northgate, you take the 20, and hope that you get the 45 before the next 61 comes by). The 20 would likely become more of a coverage route, which is what the plan was all along.

        That’s the funny part of this. The 26 was always a coverage route. Before the pandemic, it ran every half hour, while more popular routes in the neighborhood ran every 10 to 15 minutes. Then Metro proposed a peak-only version of the 26, the 25. This was quite reasonable, given the popularity of service along Stone Way, and the fact that the bus performs better than average during rush hour, and average the rest of the day (those riders would presumably get by with the 62 the rest of the day). They also added an all-day coverage route, called the 23, which would minimize walking in Tangletown. The area really doesn’t need two routes, but whatever. The route would not have connected to Northgate, but instead provided a connection between Roosevelt and the UW (via 45th).

        After the cutbacks, this got replaced with one route, called the 26. This is basically what the new 20 is, except truncated at NTC. Again, it was meant merely as a coverage route, no different than the old 73 or the new 79.

        Yet once SDOT got a little bit of money, they poured it into this route, and extended it to Lake City. So now this route — that had been coverage all along — is going to have decent frequency, while a route that takes less time to run, and would likely get a lot more riders, won’t exist at all (the 61).

        So yeah, we need to keep pushing for the 61, and probably a truncation and reduction of service for the 20 at the same time. Given that we just had that chance, and blew it, it is hard to say what our chances our.

    5. Larry: perhaps CM Dembowski was not convinced that the Route 41 hours should be taken from the service area as its own equity areas remain under served. You seem to have missed that routes 331, 345, 346, 347, and 348 got improved frequency in both weekday peak periods and on Sunday; that is significant.

      We should watch ST. Link headways and waits are too long. It appears ST is not spending as many hours on routes 522 and 542 as they did before Covid, so waits will be longer than they could be.

      1. I didn’t miss the improved peak frequency of the 331, 345, 346, 347, and 348. At best that follows the same theme — focus on peak service, especially from lower density areas.

        Meanwhile, other routes got worse. The 45 will get less frequent during peak and at night. The 44 will get worse frequency all-day long; peak, midday, night. Holy cow — the 44! That is one of our best performing routes, with the new fact connection to Link, about to get some needed improvements in speed, and service is being shifted to the 345, 346, 347, and 348. None of those routes come even close to the 45 in terms of performance, let alone the 44. Those buses aren’t alone. Even the 62, a route that was made with Northgate Link in mind — a bus that has been patiently waiting for light rail — will see its frequency go down when Link finally gets there. Not horribly, but I find the loss of peak frequency during peak especially crazy given it is supposed to completely replace the 26.

        A lot of these changes don’t make sense any more. The 26 was initially replaced by the (peak-only) 25, which meant that the 62 could run less often during peak. Except then the 25 is gone, and the 62 is just left with less frequency. The same thing happened with 85th Avenue. They used to have two bus routes on 85th (the 61 and 45). It was reasonable to balance them out. But then the 61 got cut, and the 45 — a feeder to Link — will run less often.

        Unless the numbers are wrong, it is hard to see overall frequency being better. If they do increase frequency on the 345, 346, 347, and 348, it is hard to see why.

      2. That’s what recessions do. Some of these will probably come back when the economy gets better, as happened after the U-Link restructure.

      3. The peak frequency is to make up for the loss of the expresses and the additional transfer.

      4. That’s what recessions do.

        Are you referring to eddie’s comment, or mine?

      5. If I missed them, it’s because they weren’t in the Word doc appendix to what KCC passed and I can’t find where Metro posted them.

        But that’s besides the point. I’m not focusing on peak hour buses. I’m focusing on all day buses. Route 20 will run every 30 minutes. Lake City to Northgate is currently 8 buses/hour. It will drop to 6. In contrast, Lake City to Kenmore is 6 buses/hour weekday and 2 buses/hour weekend. ST is making that grow to 8 on weekdays and 4 on weekends.

        As far as I can tell, 1 transit agency will grow its all day bus system, the other will shrink. Telling people in (for example) Lake City about the new train while making it harder to access to it seems misguided.

      6. The peak frequency is to make up for the loss of the expresses and the additional transfer.

        Yeah, but that is BS! That is what I’m talking about. The compensation is only for peak customers! When it comes to serving the poor people in the north end — the folks who don’t work 9-5 downtown — there is a recession, and their loss of a one-seat ride doesn’t matter. The old ways — where we compensated a community for the transfer by increasing frequency in the middle of the day (when it matters most) are gone. But when it comes to serving the important customer — the ones that have to be in the office by 9:00 AM sharp — suddenly we are bending over backwards, running ridiculous routes that will inevitably show up as our lowest performing.

        It is pretty clear what Metro ended up doing, even if the recession backed them into it. Screw the poor — they have no choice. A trip like this to open up El Chupacabra, with its good beer selection and tasty burritos, will involve leaving roughly an hour before your shift starts: https://goo.gl/maps/NfyEQ9Kjy7jvRDgH9. But a rush-hour trip — when Link is running frequently, as are all the other buses in our system — better not involve a transfer, let alone two! Because that commuter, taking a trip several times the distance, and several times the driving time, might complain! He knows how to write a letter to the editor, or talk to his representative. That poor sap taking the bus in the middle of the day? She has no choice. Buy a car bitch.

        If you think this process didn’t evolve into that, I’m afraid you are naive.

      7. That’s what recessions do

        Recession??? The stockmarket is at all time highs. People don’t even want to take jobs that are going begging. We’re starting to see INFLATION. What is this recession you speak of?

      8. Stock market and overall economy are two very different things.

        “People don’t want to take jobs that are going begging.” I have a friend involved in veterinary medicine. It’s exceptionally difficult to fill positions in recent years because the positions don’t pay enough to cover the education required, and without the education required there’s no way to take the position. You don’t just hire a bar bouncer off the street and hand them a scalpel. The cost of education vs the wages paid have been an ongoing issue in the USA, its just that now it’s finally reached a critical point that people are noticing.

        In 2020, consumer spending dropped to 2015 levels. People just don’t have any money to spend, and if your system is heavily reliant on sales taxes, that means much less of a system.

      9. Glenn,
        Stock market and overall economy are two very different things.
        Today more than ever before because of the way the treasury has changed is lending practices.

        You don’t just hire a bar bouncer off the street and hand them a scalpel. … its just that now it’s finally reached a critical point that people are noticing.

        No, it’s “just now” restaurants can’t hire someone off the street to wash dishes. And it goes beyond the hospitality industry. There’s a shortage of truck drivers and the cost of getting a CDL-A is quickly recouped driving a big rig.

        In 2020, consumer spending dropped to 2015 levels. People just don’t have any money to spend

        Savings rates went to way up. People had money just nowhere, except home remodels, to spend it. Unless you’re a politician you couldn’t go anywhere on vacation. More important to the economy is business travel ground to a halt. That really killed the airlines and hospitality business. Add to that the auto industry and other durable goods can’t meet demand because of supply chain problems.

      10. “The economy” as it pertains to Metro is sales tax revenue, which directly affects service hours. When I said recession, I meant specifically a recession of sales tax revenue. Other aspects of the economy may come back faster.

      11. Restructures are almost always fraught with controversy. That’s because riders don’t like making transit trips differently. It’s predictable human behavior.

        I didn’t see outcries from STB posters when Routes 34 and 39 went away — taking away one seat rides to Downtown and pushing riders to Link. And that service area was closer in distance to Downtown then these ones losing one seat rides are.

        The lessons of losing Route 39 however are still important to assess. The replacement east part of Route 50 has weak performance and has often been cut to 20 or 30 minute service because of low ridership per mile. I see the same possibilities for far north Seattle routes. Metro may promise 15 minute service — but will they keep it? Metro May promise leaving some expresses running — but will they keep them?

        One key difference is that SE Seattle has one Link line. North Seattle will have two. A train whisking riders quickly to Downtown, UW and Capitol Hill every five minutes until 10 pm is very attractive — but that frequency won’t happen until 2023.

        So take the long view here:

        1. Link’s opening is a generational transit improvement and a generational major restructure is important and appropriate to do. North Seattle’s transit world is changing! It’s what the voters funded!

        2. Monitoring needs to be in place to assess what additional refinements are needed. Metro should commit to making refinements either in 2023 for East Link or in 2024 when Lynnwood Link opens. Monitoring should be focused on any area where either Metro or ST service is “out of balance” like reliability, low ridership and overcrowding (example: adding express buses at peak hours if Link is overcrowded).

        I believe the one-seat nostalgia will wane within a year. (No one is actively lobbying to bring back Route 39, as an example.) People will vote with their Orca cards every day. New problems could arise that no one had expected — and the biggest fears that some have today could easily be overblown.

        The restructure vote is in. I think it’s best to now sit back and see what the real world results will be during 2022 — only pushing Metro to make frequency changes when painfully necessary for the next two years. Then, push for Metro to revisit the system structure to coincide with either East Link or Lynnwood Link.

        One final thing: I call BS on this restructure having overall “equity” problems. Metro serves many ethnically diverse, auto dependent and lower income areas outside of North Seattle poorly. A restructure may create more inconvenience to some parts of North Seattle more than others — but no one will be forced to ride a feeder bus more than 10-15 minutes (noting that it takes 18 minutes to ride from Renton TC to Rainier Beach Link today).

      12. @Al S: It’s a judgment call how to weigh the tradeoffs between consolidated corridors (trunks+feeders), one-seat rides, downtown vs non-downtown destinations, work vs non-work trips, walking distance, hill tolerance, and the demographics of riders and ridesheds. It can be hard to articulate why one corridor should be truncated but another not, or hard to even decide. And in our system we vest agencies, councils, and mayors to make these decisions, so when in doubt we should stand back and let them decide, and only push back in the most critical or egregious cases. That’s why I defer so much to Metro and ST. Metro in particular has some very good planners, and often comes up with good ideas and routes nobody else can, and it has the most experience with all the riders and the impacts of one alternative or another..

        That’s why I can’t be hard-line about deleting all the northeast and north-central Seattle peak expresses: it’s a judgment call how many of these are needed or justified, and whether there’s a reasonable transfer from Link to SLU or First Hill/Cherry Hill or whether it’s too unreasonable to expect people to do. So I defer to Metro on that. And I hope that if they turn out to have less ridership than expected, or get caught in traffic that negates their benefits, or the difficulty of transferring via Link has been overestimated, they can be restructured away later and not remain zombies for thirty years. But that’s a risk. And there’s a risk both ways.

        The 39 was also low-ridership, so you have to compare the 50 to that. And to the mediocre benefit of having a bus that meanders so slowly to downtown. And especially to the inefficiency of having so many parallel routes to downtown that are only half-hourly, so it’s hard to find frequency anywhere. Frequency makes a big difference in how much people can ride it, how many activities they can fit into a day, and how competitive transit is with driving.

        The issue of whether Metro will keep promised frequency depends on how much funding Metro gets. It has been going up and down like a roller coaster for at least twelve years.

      13. Route 34 was a peak period overlay of Route 39 in the Genesee Park and Seward Park area that was effectively a branch of the Route 7x limited service that turned at Genesee. It was very similar to the far North Seattle express services running today.

      14. I will note that Route 34 wasn’t cancelled on Central Link’s opening day. It’s just that riders started using Link and tanked Route 34 productivity. I think it was cancelled in 2012 or 2013.

        I see the same thing happening here. I would not be surprised if these peak hour expresses perform poorly — and Metro cuts them upon East Link (double frequency) opening and any overcrowding fear is gone (ironically a year before Lynnwood Link opens and more riders pile onto Link).

      15. I call BS on this restructure having overall “equity” problems.

        You seem to completely misunderstand what happened with this restructure. Service was cut on all-day routes that do not go downtown. New peak-only routes that go downtown (and largely mimic Link) were added. This isn’t about forcing people to transfer. It is about allowing lots of people to *not* transfer — but only during rush hour.

        People who travel to greater downtown during rush hour tend to make more money than those that travel there the rest of the day. Thus the folks who benefit most from these new, very expensive, poorly performing routes tend to be wealthy.

        Not only do people who need to catch Link in the middle of the day have it worse, but so do people who need to go to other neighborhoods. Like those that travel downtown in the middle of the day, these are people who tend towards lower income (e. g. service workers, whose jobs are very spread out). Live in Ballard, but work at a restaurant in Wallingford? Your commute on the 44 just got a lot worse.

        The restructure — by shifting so much money to peak-only service — ended up favoring wealthy riders. Of course they did. Come on, Al, think about why they offered these routes in the first place. Read comments by Daniel if you want a hint. The last thing Metro wanted was a bunch of well-off, well-connected commuters complaining about having to transfer to Link, and walking a bit extra after getting off the train. They can deal with low income people getting crap — their crap is just bit crappier than the old crap. They are used to it. But they didn’t want to upset folks who were more likely to raise a fuss.

        Metro serves many ethnically diverse, auto dependent and lower income areas outside of North Seattle poorly.

        That is completely irrelevant. I’m not making the case that low income riders in North Seattle now have it worse than anywhere else. I’m saying that the restructure failed, miserably, when it comes to equity goals, just as it will fail, miserably, when it comes to ridership. What it will do, splendidly, is avoid upsetting a handful of riders — the riders Metro really doesn’t want to upset.

      16. Metro in particular has some very good planners, and often comes up with good ideas and routes nobody else can, and it has the most experience with all the riders and the impacts of one alternative or another.

        Right, but like any organization there are going to be people who have priorities that don’t mesh with the common good. Mistakes will be made. From the very beginning this looked like this was not done by the A team (more like the F team). Let’s not forget that the 61 — as good as it was — was going to run on a different corridor than the 45. These planners wanted to run one bus on 85th, and the other on 80th. Both went to Link, and yet riders wouldn’t be able get combined frequency. WTF. For that matter, this will happen with the 20! Holy cow, if you are in East Green Lake, and just want to go the UW (or Link for that matter), you have two buses, which sounds great. Except they run on completely different streets, one block away from each other! This isn’t about coverage, it is about planners who are confused. Just pick a route (the 45 or 26) for that pathway, and stick with it. This would be like running the 71/72/73 on 12th/The Ave/Brooklyn back in the day. Instead of going to one bus stop, knowing that a bus would be there soon, you would be scrambling, running and back and forth trying to figure out which bus is coming next. This is a clear mistake.

        Compared to that, I’m not surprised at all they focused on not upsetting those that would end up making long walks downtown, or with a three-seat ride. The former is just boneheaded. The latter is a political calculus.

        That’s why I can’t be hard-line about deleting all the northeast and north-central Seattle peak expresses: it’s a judgment call how many of these are needed or justified

        Yeah, sure, except what do you do when want to make a judgment? Check the data. Before the pandemic, the 312 got about 32 riders per hour — about average for a bus that goes downtown or to the UW. The 309 got around 26. The 309 got significantly less, and yet Metro is doubling down on that route (or routes like it). Now consider the ridership of a truncated 312 (which is essentially what Link will be running with the 522). It will provide the same functionality as before, which means you can expect it to get most of the same riders as before. There may be a handful who don’t like the transfer, but there may be some who actually enjoy it, or switch to using transit because Link goes to Capitol Hill (a time consuming journey under the old network). Ridership stays about the same, yet time (i. e. cost) goes way down. Suddenly the truncated 312 performs well above average, because it isn’t spending about half of its time traveling to and through downtown, while picking up hardly anyone. This moves it from average to outstanding. In terms of ridership per service, the bus will see its numbers skyrocket, leapfrogging over buses like the B and F, into the higher echelon of rush hour travel, like the A and C. Truncation does that. The 65 — a seemingly mediocre bus — does quite well during rush hour, presumably because lots of people want to get to Link. Holy cow, the 372, which is dragged down by the tiny number of riders in Woodinville, and the slow, meandering path it takes to the UW, performs better during rush hour than the 312, and way better than the 309. Want to know how to dramatically improve your bus route? Truncate at a Link station.

        This (the express routes) is not about coverage. This is not serving a different part of downtown. This is not about a cost effective system. This is about providing an alternative to Link for those who don’t like transfers. It is an extremely poor value and will benefit wealthier riders, while working class riders will be worse off.

  6. Repeating some of the things I wrote on The Urbansist article:

    The only thing I would change on the plans for the 44 is the curb bulb on 11th and Market. The pedestrian light is a great addition, and it is always nice when you have a shorter walk across the street. But this will narrow the street to one lane each direction. This will increase congestion both directions, making a ride on the 44 slower, as there are no BAT lanes in the area. It isn’t worth the curb bulb, we are better off with a slightly longer light cycle, timed with the other lights in the area (8th, 15th).

  7. There are some good changes with the 44 but is nowhere near as good as the changes for the 40. No BAT lanes in Ballard or Wallingford. No BAT lanes westbound on 45th in the U-District. This is a step in the right direction, but a small one. That being said:

    The pedestrian improvements are huge. I especially like what is being done in Linden. This will be great. It will make it much easier to walk around that neighborhood, and much easier to transfer from the 44 to the E (two of our busiest buses). The new crossing on 8th will also be a great addition. There is not crossing between 7th and Roosevelt, so this will save a lot of people a lot of time.

    The changes on 15th should make a huge difference, especially northbound. From the parking garage on 41st to the end of the BAT lanes (north of 42nd) there are no turns. That means it is a bus-lane, not a BAT lane. Both directions you have a “squeezing” of traffic on 15th, from two lanes to one, while the bus has an alternative. This should make travel for the buses much better. I also like the new left turn BAT lane from 15th to Pacific.

    I’m a little surprised there is nothing to make that turn from 15th to 43rd easier, since a lot of buses will now turn there. At 45th there is a left turn lane that can only be used by buses — I would assume the same now for 43rd.

    In general this seems like some good improvements that should speed up the 44, but they don’t go nearly far enough. The biggest improvements will be for pedestrians.

    1. No westbound BAT lane on 45th since most transit service going northbound on 15th and headed to points west of the U-District (or terminating there) will utilize 43rd St (which will be bus-only between The Ave and the station entrance) come October 2nd.

      Would really like better transit priority for the northbound left at 43rd, but since the block of 43rd between 15th and The Ave is going to be open to GP traffic (e.g. U Bookstore). Hopefully future redevelopment of that parking lot will allow for 43rd to be transit-only all the way from 15th Ave to the Station!

      1. I read the linked article but just want to confirm that Metro will continue one seat express bus trips from the Northgate/Lake City area to downtown Seattle during peak times even after Northgate Link opens.

        I am already seeing posts on eastside blogs and Nextdoor noting the express buses from the Northgate area to downtown Seattle during peak times after Northgate Link opens, and a demand for the same for commuters to Seattle from the Issaquah/Sammamish areas after East Link opens, which may have to be a ST eastside subarea funding request.

        I think how full the 1500 stall S. Bellevue Park and Ride is when it opens in Sept. 2021 and serves the 550 will help highlight the kind of pressure this park and ride will receive after East Link opens from areas and commuters outside Bellevue trying to avoid a two seat commute to Seattle (after driving to a park and ride to catch a feeder bus) by simply driving to a park and ride serving East Link, considering they will already be in their car on the way to a park and ride.

        The pressure on the Northgate Park and Ride, although much smaller, should also be a clue as to the pressure on the S. Bellevue Park and Ride when East Link opens.

      2. Where is the full list of October changes? My recollection is that the new peak expresses will go to downtown-adjacent areas (First Hill/Cherry Hill and SLU). Some will serve Northgate or Roosevelt Stations, allowing a transfer to Link for downtown. Link is better than the risk of I-5 congestion or the certainty of downtown congestion. And there are many frequent buses in SLU and First Hill if they want to transfer to downtown there. You’ll say they won’t because everyone who matters wants a one-seat ride to downtown. I say that would be a waste of Metro’s resources to have express buses going to the same place as Link. Only if Link gets overcrowded should we consider that.

      3. Metro will continue one seat express bus trips from the Northgate/Lake City area to downtown Seattle during peak times even after Northgate Link opens

        Daniel, that is almost correct. There will be an express line to SLU from Lake City. There will be express lines from Shoreline to SLU and Pill Hill and from Bothell to SLU and Pill Hill. These are to avoid the three-seat rides to and from those large employment centers that you so decry.

        However, overall the express system in North King County will be decimated. Nuked! Morte! Historico.

        People headed for downtown Seattle from the region north of 50th and east of Latona / Meridian will be transferring to Link or taking a slow bus down Eastlake or through Tangletown.

        If there are enough riders from Issaquah/Sammamish to SLU or Pill Hill Metro might very well run direct expresses once East Link opens. But don’t the bloviating about “special treatment for North Seattle” when East King opens because IT. IS. NOT. HAPPENING.

        To make political hay out of the tiny shoots of Metro’s attempts the better to serve SLU and First Hill is unfair and leaves a bad odor.

      4. No westbound BAT lane on 45th since most transit service going northbound on 15th and headed to points west of the U-District (or terminating there) will utilize 43rd St (which will be bus-only between The Ave and the station entrance) come October 2nd.

        Yeah, but if there were BAT lanes on 45th, then the buses wouldn’t even dream of making three turns in three blocks in an area with thousands of pedestrians all day and night. In other words, the reason the bus is turning early, is because there are no BAT lanes.

        The 44 is the only bus that does that, by the way. Other buses will terminate there, but that is the only bus that essentially serves both 45th and 15th. As a result, the 44 will be delayed both by the turns, and the other buses.

        Meanwhile, the 31/32 will travel pretty much the entire length of 45th. The 44, will, of course run on 45th, west of Brooklyn. Both buses will be crawling along, with no improvement. The changes on 15th are most welcome. But the moment it leaves 15th, the 44 will be slower than ever, but at least now it will have company, with the slower than ever 31/32. The sooner we add BAT lanes, the sooner we can speed up all those buses.

      5. @Tom — South Lake Union is downtown Seattle, just like Belltown is downtown Seattle. Check out the map for the 361/320 (https://drive.google.com/file/d/18CmhoDCDzripvyF6-nP-X2AL0YRQwO0T/view). That’s downtown, dude.

        Even First Hill is downtown, really. I hate to say it, but Daniel is right. Metro will send buses from the north end to downtown. They shouldn’t, but they are. Because even in a recession, entitled riders are well, entitled. #RichRidersMatter

      6. Ross, I don’t think it’s necessarily “#RichRidersMatter” so much as “#SLUEmployersMatter” and “#FirstHillEmployersMatter”. The share of commuting employees driving to these CBD-Adjacent neighborhoods was double that traveling to the CBD itself. For a long while Metro has been promising better service, but the CBD swallowed all the bus hours that the bases and driver corps could provide.

        The Link truncation offer the opportunity to make good on the promises. You yourself have advocated for sending the 7 straight up Boren once Judkins Park is open, presumably assuming that a number of riders will transfer there and that Boren to First Hill and SLU is an improvement. No, it’s not exactly similar, but you have forecast that it will generate new ridership that either drives today or doesn’t go.

        Why is that not also true for Shoreline and the North Lake cities? It may prove not to be so, but kudos to Metro for trying.

      7. You yourself have advocated for sending the 7 straight up Boren once Judkins Park is open, presumably assuming that a number of riders will transfer there and that Boren to First Hill and SLU is an improvement.

        Judkins Park has nothing to do with it. I would run that bus now. If I waited, it would be for Madison BRT, when other buses get restructured.

        Why is that not also true for Shoreline and the North Lake cities?

        Two completely different things. A bus connecting South Lake Union to Mount Baker Station (via Boren) helps everyone. It helps the people that live in those areas. It helps the people that visit those areas. It helps people that take other buses. Along with better service along Broadway (e. g. running the 49 to Beacon Hill) it builds a better network. The express buses don’t help the network at all. They are specialized buses that only serve those areas, and only peak direction. Buses like these perform poorly. They carry very few people per dollar spent.

        Oh, and I would run a bus on Boren all day long! That is a huge difference. These buses are peak only. It means that those who work the night or graveyard shift can’t use them. This isn’t about improving service to First Hill, or to South Lake Union. It is about giving a handful of riders — who are disproportionately wealthy — very expensive special service.

        Look, if they had spent a bunch of money on better connecting First Hill and South Lake Union to Link, then I would be all for it. Because that would have benefited lots of people who don’t take Link, along with people who take Link from everywhere, all day long. This is the opposite.

      8. OK, a clarification. I would not send the 7 up Boren. I would send a brand new bus up Boren. I would keep the 7 as is.

      9. Selective quoting, Ross. I said that the expresses from far North King might not prove a useful experiment. And I also said that comparing a Boren bus to tham was not an exact comparison.

        I admit that I misunderstood that you weren’t proposing to reroute the 7 but rather add an overlay. How far south would it go? The stretch from Judkins Park to Jackson is not very well-developed at this time, so I’m wondering where such a new bus would get its ridership. You would run two frequent-service buses from where? Mt. Baker? Columbia City?

        If you start it north of Mt. Baker you just smear out the transfer zone. Might as well start it at Dearborn.

      10. Also, AJ (I think he said it) is right: you worship at the altar of “productivity”. Other dimensions are essential to maintaining the coalition that ensures that transit gets funded.

      11. Tom, are you aware if the 2000+ new apartments in some stage of development along Rainier between Dearborn and 23rd? Also, there is nowhere to turn around a bus on Dearborn.

        I really wish First Hill-Cherry Hill and Judkins Park/ SE Seattle were connected by any frequent direct service. I don’t have a strong view how — but it’s just plum stupid that everyone in SE Seattle has to go Downtown to transfer get to and from these places unless they walk over 1/4 of a mile on a slope. The only exception to that is Route 4, which STB commenters want to kill!

        The lack of any priority on pursuing this unmet needs connection is a testament of how little love SE Seattle gets among Metro relative to other areas.

      12. And I also said that comparing a Boren bus to them was not an exact comparison.

        No, it is like comparing a pineapple to a frog. Seriously dude, if you think that these express routes are anything like the type of routes I’ve suggested previously you are confused.

        I admit that I misunderstood that you weren’t proposing to reroute the 7 but rather add an overlay. How far south would it go?

        Mount Baker Station, of course. (I don’t know of any other layover spot that would make sense.) It would overlap the 7 for less than 2 miles. That is a minimal amount of overlap, given that it would connect to both Link lines, and double up on a fairly urban section of an extremely performant route. It is not that time consuming now, and will likely be much better in the future, as they improve the corridor.

        The other option is to send the 107 up there (in Metro’s long range plan that). There are other alternatives — and various trade-offs. But the main point is, this would benefit people from all over. These expresses won’t. Let’s say you routinely commute to South Lake Union from Beacon Hill. Do these new routes — which definitely go to South Lake Union — help in any way? Nope. First Hill? Probably not. These solve the last mile problem — but only for a handful of people. If you just ran a bus overlaying parts of the streetcar route (from CHS to First Hill or Westlake to South Lake Union) it would make a bigger difference to way more people, for way less money. You could provide 3 minute frequency on both corridors, both directions for way less money than these expresses will cost.

      13. you worship at the altar of “productivity”.

        Oh, so you think we should design a system that has less ridership, less coverage and is worse for the working class. Sorry if I disagree.

      14. Al, no I was not. The last time I rode through there was before the pandemic — probably 2018 — and yes there was a cluster of development between Jackson and Dearborn, but nothing south of there. I’m very glad to hear that it is being re-developed.

        So starting it at Mt. Baker might not be wasteful as I believed.

        This is the difference between you and Ross. You assume an erroneous post might be from ignorance and supply the missing information, instead of assuming stupidity.

        Thank you.

      15. Well Tom, I try to admit which parts of the Metro system and Seattle I know better and which ones I don’t. Unless someone is employed to study or drive the entire area and ride every bus often, they don’t know everything everywhere. Other posters here sometimes forget that adult truth.

        I also know that routing and scheduling is very hard, and I have respect for those that do it. There are many complex parts — work rules, labor hours, traffic travel time uncertainty, bathroom break locations, layover needs, the slowness of boarding riders at busy stops, switching drivers in the middle of the day, warming buses when they start up, planning for occasional disruptions like a rider vomits all over a bus, equipment reliability concerns liked catenaries or bicycle racks that can be fixed but with delay, bus bunching, corner turning and on and on. Fixing an existing route is much easier than planning many new ones.

        Of course, every route planner has bias. The over-service of peak times and express route and not enough at midday on trunk routes may be the result of bias. However, most buses have time stamps on counters that register every boarding down to the minute. It’s likely a bit of a guess how a new route structure will be ridden — but meta data was hopefully already used to develop in this initial system. It’s not 1991 when these data were only anecdotal.

        I’m not that surprised that the initial service plan has a commuter bent. The areas north of the U District are far enough from Downtown that more riders will be going to work, classes or medical appointments than those riders that live closer to Downtown.

        I watch MLK next to Link bounce between Metro Routes 8 and 48 until the 106 was put on the segment. I’d expect Metro will move things around here over the next few years. They have to start somewhere though.

      16. I’m not that surprised that the initial service plan has a commuter bent. The areas north of the U District are far enough from Downtown that more riders will be going to work, classes or medical appointments than those riders that live closer to Downtown.

        I’m not sure what you mean by that paragraph. The restructure is not commuter oriented. It is *rush-hour* commuter oriented. Outside of rush-hour, trips to downtown — or anywhere else — will be *worse*. The 44, 45, 65 and 67 will all be getting worse. None of these buses go downtown. They all feed Link, as well as connect various neighborhoods outside downtown, especially the UW.

        Are you saying that riders in that part of town are more peak oriented? Interesting theory, except the numbers suggest otherwise. All of those buses perform better than average in the middle of the day. There are only a handful of buses that perform better than the 44 in the middle of the day (the 7, 11, A, D, E). People go to work, classes or medical appointments throughout the day. Now those trips will be worse.

        I realize this is unusual. This explains a lot of the confusion. Normally, when they do a restructure like this, frequency in the middle of the day gets better. But this time, it will get worse. If Metro had simply truncated all the routes at Link, and kept frequency exactly the same, it would have been better for more riders. Not all of them, just most of them.

        However, most buses have time stamps on counters that register every boarding down to the minute.

        Yes, and Metro seems to have ignored this data. We know that buses like the 44 performed extremely well in the middle of the day *before* Link got to the U-District, and they are just ignoring this. The 309 — the closest thing to these new routes — gets 26 riders an hour during rush hour. The 44, 45, 65, 67, 75 all get better ridership in the middle of the day than the 309 does during rush hour! The planners came up with a peak-oriented system for an area that has proven it should have the opposite.

        Of course, every route planner has bias. The over-service of peak times and express route and not enough at midday on trunk routes may be the result of bias.

        Of course it is. Talk to the officials if you doubt this. The planning department in Metro has different groups assigned to different projects. I know at least one planner who thinks the express buses are a bad idea. These particular planners were petrified of people rejecting Metro if they just truncated the buses at Link stations. Or rather, they were petrified of certain riders rejecting it (the noisiest and most powerful). It is only peak direction riders that benefit. If you want to get to First Hill in the middle of the day, things are worse. You have to deal with a long walk, or a three-seat ride while your initial bus is less frequent than ever. At the time of day when frequency would make the most difference, they have other priorities.

        I want to be clear. I’m sure the planners didn’t set out to shift service in this way. The original plans were not that bad. But when cuts occurred, they trimmed midday service, but kept the express buses. This was a gutless decision, as they didn’t want to upset folks who really like their peak-only express bus to downtown.

      17. I’m trying to parse which of Ross’s concerns are about routing and which are about frequency.

        This distinction is important. Frequency can be easily adjusted when new schedules are issued in early 2022. New routing configurations are much more complicated to change and take longer.

        Deleting a few express bus runs won’t free up lots more weekday service hours. It helps a bit but adding those hours won’t seem to improve the wait times very much on a day-long route.

        Believe me, I’m mystified why Shoreline and Bothell get direct Metro service to First Hill and Cherry Hill while those of us in SE Seattle have no direct way to get to these places even when we are 2-4 miles away. Assigning one bus to a restored 9X could mean lots more round trips than one express bus to these other distant destinations. It certainly looks like Metro practices an employee bias over patient needs — but there may be a reasonable need for the service.

        So rather than complain about the express buses, I think the energy should shift to solving the basic systemic failure of serving First Hill and Cherry Hill so badly. There still is no long range alternative outside of Madison BRT to better serve these places. Madison BRT doesn’t even connect to Link in one direction until 2035+ if Midtown Station opens (and it’s a very long walk from Harborview) and FHSC takes forever and that skips Cherry Hill (and the CCC-related better frequency will still take forever and will be subject to reliability problems on the longer route as well as possible delays reversing trains at the CHS single track stub).

        One quick solution: In Oakland, Kaiser runs free popular shuttles to MacArthur BART. (https://thrive.kaiserpermanente.org/care-near-you/northern-california/eastbay//srv/htdocs/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2018/09/OAK-BART-shuttle-schedule.pdf). The high-profile frequent service (with idling buses at the ends) really reduces the perceived penalty of a double transfer and it carries more riders per hour than a far-flung express service would. Note that the Kaiser campus is also on two major AC Transit trunk routes that also stop at BART so this is added convenience to patients and employees. Of course, part of the impetus for the service has to do with expansions that had to get City of Oakland approval — but I have to say it works really well.

        Meanwhile, us riders will need some patience to let Metro optimize this generational service restructuring. What riders do after October — both in boardings and in commenting — will be much more impactful than armchair complaining does today.

      18. This distinction is important. Frequency can be easily adjusted when new schedules are issued in early 2022. New routing configurations are much more complicated to change and take longer.

        Yeah, sure. But my guess is they will follow the plan they specified. Any cuts could come from the express buses, but so far they haven’t. Any additional money could go into the old routes, but I don’t think there is any chance that they will shift money from the new express routes to the old ones.

        Deleting a few express bus runs won’t free up lots more weekday service hours. It helps a bit but adding those hours won’t seem to improve the wait times very much on a day-long route.

        I disagree. As I wrote down below (https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2021/05/06/news-roundup-part-2-of-2/#comment-873637) there a lot of express routes. About 125 a day. These are all dead-heads. That means that they are basically a round trip, it is just that part of the run is especially fast, since it doesn’t involve picking anyone up. As Walker wrote (and I referenced) this is also the most expensive time to run buses. It seems reasonable to assume that you could get 100 midday (fully in service) round trips of a regular bus for the 125 round trips of these buses.

        Now consider the 44. With this change, in the middle of the day, frequency goes from 10 to 15. Late at night, it goes from 15 to 30. In both cases that is 2 buses an hour. It has roughly the same frequency during rush hour (marginally worse) and in the evening. So it isn’t clear how many hours you would need the extra service, but assuming around 12, that works out to 24 additional round trips. Those express trips will definitely pay for that.

        Or how about the 67. It loses one round trip a day, all day long. That is another 20. The 45 loses peak service (oddly enough) but what really hurts is the night service, going from 15 to 30. This wouldn’t be that expensive to restore (maybe another half dozen). My guess is the savings from deleting those express routes would not only restore those routes, but enable better service where it would really improve things (like running the 45 every 10 minutes most of the day).

        You are right, in that that coverage and funding go together. The 20 is a poorly designed route. It is highly unlikely it will be replaced by the 61, even though the latter would be cheaper to run and a lot more useful. The combination of bad routing, and bad frequency makes this restructure a huge mess. Yes, eventually it can be fixed, but it will likely take a while.

        More than anything, it is a complete reversal of the approach that Larry mentioned up above (https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2021/05/06/news-roundup-part-2-of-2/#comment-873515). The U-Link restructures were somewhat radical. Buses running in places like Wedgwood and Maple Leaf ten minutes a day. Not only that — but the buses didn’t go downtown! It would take slogging through the U-District and a very awkward transfer just to go downtown. Yet it all paid off, handsomely. People took two, sometimes three seat rides to places. They did it all day long, because the buses ran more frequently.

        This reverses that approach, and instead of focusing on frequency to Link, puts much of the effort into running express buses to various parts of downtown — but only peak direction. Link ridership will not be as high, transit ridership overall will be much lower, and goals like “equity” will not be met. It is really a very poor decision on the part of Metro, and really disappointing.

  8. Kent has at-grade crossing; see route 150, 153, 165, 183. SODO had one before fall 2020.

    1. Thanks TT, I only wanted clarification of which express peak hour buses would continue to downtown Seattle after Northgate Link opens, not a manifesto from Che Guevara.

      I never mentioned special treatment for N. Seattle, and imagine Issaquah and Sammamish can fight their own fights with ST. I am the one who has suggested express buses should run after Link opens in certain peak hour situations, while you and others told me it would/could never happen, whether on the eastside or North Seattle. Now I guess express buses post Link can happen, even with a transit agency like Metro and subarea that are financially strapped.

      Let’s see if Northgate gets express buses and Issaquah and Sammamish don’t, especially when starting on the Issaquah to Kirkland/Seattle line is not that far away, and ST is looking for a way to suggest it not get built even though the money is there.

      You are right, the big holes for eastside transit — especially East Link — are SLU when so many Amazon employees live on the eastside (but may be working there in the future) and Pill Hill, which will be a three seat ride for many on the eastside.

      1. Is there a problem with the reply button, or does Daniel just not know how to use it? It seems like his comments are often in the wrong place. For a while that was common for all users, but it seems to be only him now.

      2. Why do some posts not have reply buttons after them, like Ross’ below? I have never been able to figure that out. Is it just me? Generally I just read off the new comments page b

      3. I think the bottom reply buttons go only two levels deep. If there’s no Reply link after the comment, go up to its parent and use the Reply above the subthread.

      4. Ayiii! Arrestado! Pensé que mi “muerte” había engañado a todos. Sesenta años es mucho tiempo para esconderse, muchacho.

        Triste que mi camerada Fidel esté muerto. Podríamos haber tomado una copa por los tiempos viejos.

      5. SLU really isn’t that far from Westlake station. We’re essentially running extra buses all the way from Northgate, not even to save a connection, but so people don’t have to walk a few blocks.

        First Hill from University St. Station has a hill, but the distance is really similar. Yes, there’s a few people with medical conditions who can’t walk up the hill, but there’s far more that are able-bodied but simply lazy and only think they need a bus connection downtown because they’re out of shape.

        This is completely different from a first Hill->SLU bus, which would simply be following a regular grid line that today’s bus network neglects.

      6. asdf2, “SLU” is a mile across and 3/4 of a mile north-south. A couple of the southern Amaxon buildings are in normal-peoples’ walking distance, but most of SLU is not. And it’s not just “a hill” that separates Pioneer Square from Ninth and James, it’s a mountain for people headed to work.

        How many millions of pixels have been consumed by people bewailing the poor service on the 3/4 line crawling up James with a 20° bus stop at Eighth? Metro is trying to improve a service for which it has been pilloried for decades.

      7. Depending on where in SLU you’re going, the worst-case walk from Westlake Station is about a mile, but if you’re going anywhere south of Denny, where the tallest buildings are located, you’re looking at about half a mile, tops.

        A separate express bus to SLU only really provides value for those heading to the northernmost section of SLU, which is a much smaller market than “SLU” in general. Even then, 1 mile isn’t *that* far to walk. And, if you don’t want to walk, you’ve got the combined options of the 40, C, 70, and streetcar. If one of them isn’t coming soon, the other will.

      8. So, before the pandemic, I happened to run across two people who shared their commuting story. One started at 85th, and worked downtown (I want to say, roughly 5th and Pike). He would try and take the 522 or 312. But if the 309 would come along, he would take it. It was a longer trip, and it meant more walking, but he could always get a seat, and he would get tired of waiting.

        Another guy I met lived in Lake City and worked in First Hill. He was the opposite. He would try and catch the 309, since it was much faster, but most of the time, he just ended up taking a 312/522. Again, it wasn’t worth the wait. He would just walk up the hill.

        Anecdotal evidence, definitely, but reflective of all the research about riders.

        This is really a radical change. Rather than truncate the buses at Link, and put the money into running the buses more often in the middle of the day (or improving the overall network) they decided to run express buses that cover different parts of downtown. Of course there will be people who prefer it. There would be people who prefer the old 41. But the end result will be worse service in the middle of the day, and special service during rush hour. I can’t emphasize that first part enough. I’m not taking about it being worse because of the transfer. I’m talking about buses like the 44 running worse in the middle of the day and at night. This is not due to the recession, or moving service to the south end. This is all about these new express routes.

      9. The 44 will run worse through the middle of the day because five ne lines each get four or five runs, two of of which are probably single passes through their destinations?

        OK, we’ll see how much the mid-day headways increase in October. Maybe you’ll be right and maybe not.

      10. “five new lines”. They WILL also largely be “NE” lines, too.

      11. The 44 will run worse through the middle of the day because five ne lines each get four or five runs

        As you mentioned up above, you are ignorant, not stupid. I get that. But one of the best ways to deal with ignorance is to actually research the subject at hand. Another approach is to ask questions. The worst approach is the one you’ve taken here, where you make a statement that is completely false while presenting your argument. Given the ease with which this information can be gathered, you may have to forgive people if they react in a way that you find insulting.

        This is not “four or five runs”. Just look: https://publicinput.com/B1882.

        64 — 11 AM Trips, 13 PM Trips
        320 (361) — 15 AM Trips, 16 PM Trips
        322 — 16 AM Trips, 21 PM Trips
        302/303 — 17 AM Trips, 17 PM Trips

        These are all peak direction only — and thus a lot more expensive than midday service (https://humantransit.org/2017/08/basics-the-high-cost-of-peak-only-transit.html). Getting rid of these routes would be more than enough money to get the 44 back to its old self. If money does become available, it should go into improving routes like the 44, 45, 65 and 67 which are not only being cut, but didn’t have spectacular frequency to begin with. These routes perform better in the middle of the day than a bus like the 309 did during rush hour (https://kingcounty.gov/~/media/depts/transportation/metro/accountability/pdf/2018/system-evaluation.pdf). Given the (low) midday frequency of these routes, you would get way more riders for the same amount of money, and save those riders a lot more time.

      12. Why do you think that the “44” will not come back to “its old self” when sales tax revenues return completely to their “old selves” — not to mention, when UW returns to its old self?

        Right now, today, it’s running every ten minutes through the peaks and then — grab the smelling salts! — every twelve minutes through the middle of the day.

        When 44’s are packed with students again, Metro will add a couple of midday buses to the route and it’ll be back to ten minutes. They’ll find the cash in the cushions if they need it.

      13. Here are the official plans for the 44: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Sb1lKfTlvAMTbGUwNGuTGWSF0oBdBv2i/view. Notice the degradation. Could it come back to what it was? Obviously. Will that be easy, given that so much money is being spent on poorly performing express routes? No. Will it be easy to run the bus every 8 minutes during the day, and every 10 minutes nights and evenings (appropriate for a route like this) if we get additional tax revenue? Of course not.

        Decisions matter. Spend too much money running crap, and you don’t have the money to invest in the routes that really matter.

      14. Express service is going down, it’s just not going all the way down to zero.

      15. Well, Gollicky Mo, Uncle Russ Russ, the ‘ficial paper yer a wavin’ sez the 44 runs ev’ry 10 minutes midday, but the ‘ficial sched-jule on the Metro website sez every 12 from 9:30 to 3:00.

        Yew-Dub ain’t in session these days, so they’n already choppin’ the ser-vice. Guess they done fergot ’bout the collidge.

        Care tuh com-ment ’bout the diss-crepancy?

      16. Is this one of those times when you are ignorant, not stupid, Tom?

        We are in a pandemic. You can’t look at the current schedule, because the current schedule reflects the fact that we are currently in a pandemic.

        The numbers on that website listed for “Current” are for before the pandemic. The numbers for “Proposed” are for after the restructure, and after Metro feels comfortable running buses in something resembling a normal schedule.

        You are just waving your hands and saying that the proposal to reduce service doesn’t matter. Does that mean we can just dismiss the numbers on the express buses, too? There won’t be a massive increase in these types of express buses, because Tom thinks it won’t happen.

        You are missing the entire point. Metro’s proposal is to reduce service on these routes. At the same time, the propose adding an enormous amount of service to new express routes. Will it work out exactly as they plan? Of course not. But this is the gist of it. Metro has only so much money. The more it spends on express buses, the less it can spend on buses like the 44. That is the big issue, not the exact number of trips the bus makes.

      17. Express service is going down, it’s just not going all the way down to zero.

        It depends on where you are and where you are going. For example:

        64 — 16 trips a day to 24 trips
        320 — 31 trips (new corridor)
        309 — 9 trips to 31 trips (renamed the 322)

        Overall yes, the express service is going down. But mostly because the 41 and 522 (all-day buses) won’t go downtown. In areas like the 64, express service will increase. In other areas it is just shifted around. Keep in mind, these express buses aren’t short cuts. They aren’t like the 76, which goes nowhere near the UW Station (or even the U-District). These aren’t like the Lynnwood express buses, that don’t want to bother with getting out of the HOV lanes on their way to downtown. These buses will go right by the station, before then getting on (or getting back on) the freeway.

        If this was just a handful or trips (like the old 309) it wouldn’t be a big deal. But 120 trips a day is a lot of money, given that service overall is being cut, and the core routes never had the kind of frequency they should.

        No one knows what the future holds. We don’t know whether there will be big cutbacks in the future, or whether things will rebound. But let’s be optimistic, and assume that Metro (or the city) gets back on track, and we have something similar to what we did a couple years ago. It is September 2022, a year after Northgate Link opened. Bus ridership is back to normal, as is funding for Seattle. At this point, someone — especially someone who lived in other parts of the world, like Vancouver BC — asks why the 44 doesn’t run that often. “It seems like the kind of route that would run every 6 to 10 minutes, all day long. The other day I went to catch it, and it was running every 15 minutes.”

        People will start talking about car tabs, and equity, and bridges, and Alex Pedersen, and the old mayor. But a big reason — not the only reason — but a big reason — is because Metro decided to spend a huge amount of money on express buses in places where Link could have done the job (and is the only one doing the job, most of the day).

        The amount of money spent on *these* expresses is out of whack. These are the types of express buses you run when the 44 is running every 6 to 10 minutes; when the bus system is largely saturated, and you’ve already adequately covered areas like Boyer Avenue and Sunset Hill. When getting from CHS to First Hill is trivial, as both buses and a streetcar combine for excellent headways. This is a major shift towards express service in an area that doesn’t need it, while the areas that do need extra service are left wanting.

      18. Any estimates of how many D Line and route 40 Ballard to downtown riders will switch to the 44/Link when U District Station opens? Would anyone here, if you lived in Ballard, make that change?

      19. An extension from ten to fifteen minutes in mid-day is not the end of the world. Especially since setting it back to twelve minutes would take a couple of more buses and then down to ten another two.

        If the express buses are a failure, eventually Metro will cancel them, a run or two at a time, yes, but they will come into balance with the demand they serve.

        Daniel is right that the folks who ride these buses aren’t rich; he’s an outlier in that he rides from Mercer Island to downtown and is presumably fairly well to do. That’s probably because he gets the second stop after the bus leaves the off-ramp and the second stop before it gets on in the evening. If he has to stand, it isn’t very long.

        The expresses to First Hill are for the very folks to whom everyone has been singing praises for the last fifteen months: front-line healthcare workers. Do you really want to fight on that hill?

      20. RossB, re the proposed 44 cuts, it occurs to me that the proposal in Google Drive was made last year (document revision date is 2020-10-20), which was before the STBD was renewed, I-976 was struck down, vaccines were known to be effective and plentiful (at least in the USA), and UW committed to bringing students, faculty and staff back in fall 2021. Given that there is much more certainty and optimism in the future now, I would really hope that Metro comes back with service that at least matches what we had before the pandemic.

      21. The expresses to First Hill are for the very folks to whom everyone has been singing praises for the last fifteen months: front-line healthcare workers.

        The expresses will only run during rush hour, peak direction. That’s not how hospitals work — people work around the clock. Nurses, doctors, aids, janitorial staff — they all work 24-7. This only benefits workers coming from a handful of places in the north end, and only the subset that work the day shift. The vast majority of people who work in the medical offices on First Hill get nothing from this. If this was about improving all-day service from Link to First Hill there would be no controversy, here or at Metro (as I mentioned earlier, there are planners within Metro that don’t like these expresses).

        This isn’t about just serving hospital workers. If it was, then it would match the typical day shift (around 7:00 to 3:30) or run all day. But these will run much later — the type of hours that office workers work. Consider the very first stop of the 303, on 9th, between James and Cherry. it is about a five minute walk to Columbia Center. For someone working in Columbia Tower, or any of the other office buildings nearby, this would be a great commute. It is little farther from Link station, but you have an express right to your work. No transfer, no elevated or deep bore tunnel — just a quick ride. That is all assuming the bus doesn’t stop on Fifth, which would be right next to the office buildings.

        That is what I mean when I write about this largely mimicking Link. There will be people who ride it, who would get closer to their work if they took Link. But the convenience of a one seat ride, and an express make it more appealing.

        Or consider the buses that will go through Roosevelt station. They will likely stop at the park and ride. That means that riders who would otherwise walk another five minutes (or take a connecting bus) will just take the alternative — an express bus to downtown. It may require a little more walking downtown, but there will be less walking in Roosevelt, and less time walking to and from the platforms, and less time spent at each Link stop, with all those other people getting on and off.

        This sounds great, except for the fact that is very expensive. It is redundant. It adds little from a transfer standpoint (it doesn’t connect to Link, or the buses which run on Third). Riders who can get by with Link just take the express. It isn’t fundamentally different than if Metro just kept running the 41, but only peak direction. Of course it would be popular, but it is a terrible value, and terrible from system standpoint. We want to complement Link, not provide a very similar alternative.

        This is also why it will be hard to get rid of these buses. These express buses won’t perform great, but good enough that Metro can’t easily get rid of them (bases on the numbers). They will make cuts to other routes before these expresses, the big difference being express riders have an alternative (Link) while those other riders usually don’t.

      22. RossB, re the proposed 44 cuts, it occurs to me that the proposal in Google Drive was made last year (document revision date is 2020-10-20), which was before the STBD was renewed, I-976 was struck down, vaccines were known to be effective and plentiful (at least in the USA), and UW committed to bringing students, faculty and staff back in fall 2021. Given that there is much more certainty and optimism in the future now, I would really hope that Metro comes back with service that at least matches what we had before the pandemic.

        I think I already addressed this point. (Man, this thread is long and messy). The routes all came out at the same time. At the same time they said they were cutting routes like the 44, they were saying they were going to spend oodles of money running these express buses.

        It is possible that if we get more money and that buses like the 44 will get back to what they were. Here is the thing: That isn’t good enough. The 44 should run more often than it did before the pandemic, as should the 45, 65, 67 and 75 (and buses in other neighborhoods for that matter). These are all buses that perform extremely well — better in the middle of the day than the express buses do during rush hour. With Link, they should perform better. With Link, there is a transit alternative to the express buses (even if it means a transfer), but with buses like the 44, there is no transit alternative.

        A year from now, I have no idea how often the 44 will run. But I do know that one big reason that it won’t run more often (although not the only reason) is because Metro decided to pour so much money into these express buses.

  9. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjqhZicdaUo

    This is a link to the eastside transportation assoc.’s monthly meeting featuring Kemper Freeman and Chuck Collins as speakers. This video is trending on eastside blogs and Nextdoors. I know some on this blog dismiss Nextdoor, except it is necessary to understand this blog has around 2000 total readers, while just the Mercer Island ND alone has over 11,000 members, nearly half its total population.

    Some of the commentary, such as the feasibility of the Issaquah to S. Kirkland/Seattle line, are probably correct. Ridership on East Link is also interesting. And the belief the decentralization of the jobs market in the region needs to be reflected in better allocation of transit services to areas other than Seattle. Total eastside population is now approaching the population of Seattle.

    As discussed Bellevue is very focused on driverless technology, and addressing the inherent inefficiency in peak hour transit trips. The speakers accept population growth will only make traffic congestion worse, but really see the future as driverless technology as opposed to transit, due to the 30:1 cost differential per mile (according to them, not including the technology).

    There is an interesting chart from the city of Bellevue at 1:19 comparing 2010 and 2030 modes of transportation. Although light rail ridership will increase in 2030 (since there was none in 2010) the greatest increases are in walking and cars, with buses declining and bikes virtually nil. Here are 2030 estimates:

    BRT .6%

    Buses 5.6%

    Bikes .2%

    Light Rail 2.4%

    Walking 11.4%

    Cars 79.8%

    Yes, I understand Kemper Freeman is Lex Luther on this blog, but I think sometimes it is helpful to see how other powerful interests like Bellevue see the future (and usually get their way, like East Link along 112th which it was always going to be without a tunnel under Bellevue Way. But at 2.4% of all trips maybe that is where it belongs).

    My guess is Bellevue and the eastside will push for subarea equity for Metro in the future, because they don’t think they receive an equitable allocation, and Bellevue (and the eastside) may want to move away from the high costs of traditional transit towards driverless technology.

    1. Total eastside population is now approaching the population of Seattle.

      Ha, really? I would have assumed that the East Side had way more people, given the fact that they have way more space. Sort of like how Kansas has more people than Chicago. There is no place in Kansas that has anywhere near the density of a typical neighborhood in Chicago, but Kansas has a lot more land. The East Side has a lot of land, but only tiny parts that have anything like the density of most of Seattle.

      The speakers accept population growth will only make traffic congestion worse, but really see the future as driverless technology as opposed to transit, due to the 30:1 cost differential per mile

      Ha! Wow, what a moronic comparison. Did it ever occur to anyone on this esteemed panel that if driverless technology was so common as to dominate personal automobiles, that trucks and buses would have it too? You do realize that driverless transit is common, and has been used for quite some time in a pretty nice city up the road (Vancouver BC). This idea that people will be riding in their driverless cars to the mall, but not in a driverless bus is just absurd.

      1. Claudia Balducci claimed a couple years ago that the Eastside’s population had reached the size of Seattle. I added it up and it looks like the Eastside is where Seattle was in 2000.

        720K Seattle

        144K Bellevue +
        66K Redmond +
        89K Kirkland +
        101K Renton +
        38K Issaquah +
        65K Sammamish +
        46K Bothell +
        12K Woodinville +
        26K Mercer Island =
        587K East King subarea

        I thought Bellevue was the largest city, Redmond second, Kirkland third. But this says Renton is second, Kirkland third, and Redmond and Sammamish almost tie for fourth. Hmm, Renton should have mentioned that when it got last place for ST3 upgrades. And how can Sammamish be so large? It must have a very large area, or part of what might be Redmond is included in it.

      2. It is a judgement call, but I wouldn’t call Renton “East Side”. Parts of it, sure, but demographically and culturally it is more “South Sound”. It is close to Rainier Beach, in more ways than one.

      3. Why the attack on character?

        Whose character did I attack? I was simply pointing out some of the ridiculous statements that were made. When discussing transit, what matters is density, not total population. Chicago has a very effective mass transportation system. There is no such thing for the entire state of Kansas, as building one would be extremely expensive and ineffective.

        The statement about self driving cars is in response to a common idea that is complete nonsense. “Eventually, self driving cars will move all goods across the country. It is cheaper to run a self driving car than it is a truck.” That is essentially what they are arguing, except for transit.

      4. Mike,
        You left out a few, Medina, Clyde Hill and Carnation are each 3K. Duvall is 7K. Newcastle another 12k. But the big omission is unincorporated King County. Woodiville City limits end at Lake Leota. Everything from there to Duvall and south to about 124th (English Hill, Bear Creek, etc.) is unincorporated KC. Likewise large areas NW of Renton and all the land between Issaquah and Fall City (2k). Snoqualmie is considered eastside, that’s another 13k. Arguably North Bend with another 6k.

        Best info I can find for population of unincorporated King County is from the County website for 2018. It says there are 250k out of 2.2 million that live in unincorporated areas of the County. I don’t know how big the gaps are along the I-5 corridor but the only other place where there’s really any population is between Federal Way out to Auburn and Maple Valley. I’d take a wild guess that about half (125k) of the unincorporated population would be considered eastside.

      5. Wiki says Union-Novelty Hill is 19K and Cottage Lake is 23K, both 2010 Census numbers. I’d imagine those two areas cover the bulk of unincorporated East King population and are basically Sammamish or Redmond but unincorporated. Truly rural/small town unincorporated is probably another 10K, mostly along the Snoqualmie river in Fall City and a few other unincorporated towns, and then the Renton Highlands is another 11K.

        A more useful boundary might be school districts, as the Issaquah school district includes the parts of Renton that most people would consider “east side” while Renton school district would be ‘south side’ ?

        I’m not surprised Sammamish is so large; it’s all families, which boosts household size (6 people living in a McMansion can be just as an efficient use of space as a triplex townhome with two couples & a single person), and it’s nothing but residential development occasionally broken up by parks.

      6. Wiki says Union-Novelty Hill is 19K and Cottage Lake is 23K, both 2010 Census numbers. I’d imagine those two areas cover the bulk of unincorporated East King population

        No, that completely ignores Redmond Ridge, most of what’s called Sahalle and everything between Issaquah and Renton. I stand by my guesstimate of half of unincorporated KC being “eastside”.

        Bottom line, even the most population dense cities outside of Seattle are 1/3 the density of Seattle and Seattle has large swaths of single family zoning.

      7. Sammamish has a lot of land. Here are the density (and land) numbers, expressed in people per square mile and square miles for those same cities:

        Seattle — 8,973 (84)
        Bellevue — 4,428 (33.5)
        Redmond — 4,341 (16.6)
        Kirkland — 5,224 (22.7)
        Renton — 4,335 (25.2)
        Issaquah — 3,257 (12.1)
        Sammamish — 3,226 (20.4)
        Bothell — 3,477 (13.7)
        Woodinville — 2,362 (5.6)
        Mercer Island – 4,056 (12.9)

        Sammamish is towards the bottom in density, as expected (only Woodinville has lower). Of course looking at things at a city level can give a skewed view. It is a lot more helpful to look at at neighborhood level. Census blocks are a good start. This data is old (https://arcg.is/1v98q5) but my guess is things haven’t change that much since then on the East Side. On a city wide average, Kirkland looks more dense than Bellevue, but my guess is there are still more densely populated areas in Bellevue (but still more swaths of low density areas dragging its average down). As before, my guess is that the lion’s share of densely populated neighborhoods are in Seattle.

      8. This is a pretty good map of unincorporated areas in King County: https://aqua.kingcounty.gov/gis/web/VMC/misc/KC_HwysCitiesHS.pdf

        Here is another one with those areas in green:

        There are some areas (e. g. White Center) that are clearly not “East Side”, but there are lots of areas that clearly are, and a lot that are judgement calls. Is the area around Black Diamond “East Side”? I wouldn’t call it that, but as you get closer to Renton, I could see how you could. I have no idea how many people live where, but the number of people in unincorporated areas have been going down, as cities gobble up the land.

      9. As before, my guess is that the lion’s share of densely populated neighborhoods are in Seattle.
        That’s absolutely true. Seattle has a lot of unpopulated area, industrial, an airport, rail yard, and large parks. But it’s average density is 9k/sq mi where Belleuve, Kirkland and Redmond all come in around 3k/sq mi. The lot sizes are way smaller. And where there were large homes, like on Capitol Hill they’ve largely become shared homes.

      10. Redmond Ridge is not part of Redmond?

        Here’s a map of Redmond. None of the area east of Avondale is imcorporated. That includes Trilogy and Redmond Ridge. Cities really only want to annex areas that have retail(car dealerships are good). Sure they get some money from property taxes but it barely pays for maintaining the infrastructure. Which is why the County really wants cities to annex areas.

      11. “It is a judgement call, but I wouldn’t call Renton “East Side”. Parts of it, sure, but demographically and culturally it is more “South Sound”. It is close to Rainier Beach, in more ways than one.”

        I take it as ST’s East King subarea. Our concern is mainly transit, and this definition directly affects Sound Transit and covers most of Metro’s service and all sizeable cities. I wouldn’t have included Renton but since ST does I’ve included it too.

        Note the sleight of hand: “the Eastside has as many people as Seattle”. But whether you take all of east King County including the Snoqualmie Valley (but excluding Skyway) or the ST subarea, you end up with a much larger land area than Seattle. A proper comparison would be between NE 145th Street and SE 112th Street. That would exclude downtown Renton, Bothell, and Woodinville.

      12. I would probably call Woodinville “East Side”, but not Renton. With Renton there is both a geographic and cultural/historic argument. If you are trying to get to Seattle from Renton, you probably won’t go over the floating bridge. But you will from Woodinville. Bothell is borderline.

        Ultimately it is like a lot of designations — quite fuzzy. Some people call Missouri “The South”, others “The Midwest”.

      13. The Union Hill-Novelty Hill census-designated place includes Redmond Ridge, I believe, as it covers all the unincorporated land between 202 and NE 133rd.

        I think the majority of unincorporated King County population is south of the Issaquah Alps, most of which I would exclude from “the Eastside” (I would group Renton Highlands with Renton, but am indifferent if Renton is east or south King)

        Sorting by population and then County name to group the King County CDP

        Inside of the ST service district are Skyway, White Center, and Lakeland N & S, which are ~55K in total. Klahanie was ~10K and was annexed by Sammamish in 2016 so is now both in the ST service area and out of the unincorporated KC numbers after 2016. Including growth, ~70K total in ST service territory

        Cottage Lake, Union/Novelty, are East Renton ~55K in total and are outside the ST service territory but are included in school districts that most would consider Eastside.

        That leaves nearly 150K elsewhere in King County, the vast majority of which I believe are in SE King County as the ‘Far Eastside” of the Snoqualmie Valley and Cascades is pretty sparsely populated outside of the incorporated communities.

      14. I don’t want to be rude, Ross, but I don’t think it matters what you call Renton, but what ST calls it. And it calls it “East King”.

      15. I don’t want to be rude, Ross, but I don’t think it matters what you call Renton, but what ST calls it. And it calls it “East King”.

        That’s not what we are discussing. Look at the comment thread. This is the original comment:

        Total eastside population is now approaching the population of Seattle.

        Then I responded, and soon after, we started trying to figure out the population of various East Side communities, which of course is bound to delve into a discussion as to whether an area is East Side or not. By the way, the Wikipedia page for the East Side mentions this ambiguity: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastside_(King_County,_Washington)

        Anyway, a discussion about subarea population would be different, as there is no “Seattle” subarea. There is North King, which contains Seattle. My guess is that the North King area is still the most populous of the subareas, by quite a bit.

      16. Here we go: https://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/documents/2019-subarea-equity-report.pdf

        Page 7, 2019 estimates:
        Snohomish: 478K, or 58% of total Snohomish county
        Pierce: 741K, or 83% of total Pierce county
        North King (Seattle + Shoreline + LFP): 858K, or 36.7% of total King county
        South King: 523K, or 23.5%
        East King: 599K, or 26.9%
        Combined, 87% of King is in Sound Transit

        So Pierce isn’t that much smaller than North King, though it covers by far the largest land area.

      17. Again, what matters is what Sound Transit — and since Metro has a variant, the King County Council — calls “East King”. Arguments about angels dancing on pins named “Woodinville” and “Renton” don’t mean much.

    2. 2.4% of all trips where? Downtown Bellevue, or all trips to or from anywhere in the Bellevue city limits?

      In any case, you can’t just look blindly at modeshare. A pure modeshare based decision making process, you wouldn’t have any bike lanes and most streets wouldn’t even have sidewalks. You’d have to hail Ubers to cross the street, just to avoid getting run over. At some point, you have to think about the kind of city you want and not decide everything on blind modeshare.

    3. I-5 maxes out at around 200000 trips per day including both directions, let’s be generous and say that’s a “ridership” of 400000 trips. There are around 4 million in the Seattle metro area, most people go *somewhere* in a given day, and many people take multiple trips per day. It is likely that I-5 accounts for <5% of all trips, and definitely <10%. So by your metric maybe I-5 doesn't "deserve" all of the grade separation and priority it gets either.

    4. So, let me see if I understand this correctly?

      Instead of a bunch of car drivers stuck in congestion, Bellevue prefers a vision that has a bunch of occupants in driverless cars stuck in congestion?

      A single lane of city street can hold about 12 people in cars per block when traffic is completely stopped, no matter if those cars are driverless or not. This goes down to 5-7 people when the traffic is moving due to following distance – and driverless cars will still need some following distance.

      Concentrating on “driverless cars” is sort of like widening I-5 to 5 lanes each way: all it did was delay the inevitable need to do something other than build more highways.

      1. If the driverless cars are all individually owned rather than a shared fleet, they could drastically increase congestion. Imagine if, to avoid paying for parking, the robocars all drop off their owners downtown, then drive empty all the way back to the owner’s driveway. Then, repeat everything again in reverse to go home.

        A small fraction of transit riders shifting to this will quickly turn I-5 into a complete standstill, both directions.

      2. What Bellevue is looking at within the Grand Connection workstream is a public shuttle system that has dedicated lanes. Think a golf-cart sized vehicle carrying 4~6 people. With a high enough frequency, the thought is these vehicles are a compelling way to move people around *within* downtown. It would be a diagonal route roughly from Old Main to Wilburton intersecting the downtown TC. I think this service could be very complementary for transit and functions more as a substitute for walking long-ish distances.

        For travel in/out of downtown, some eastside cities are indeed looking at driverless shuttles, but those are seen as either a way to encourage/facilitate carpooling (https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2018/06/27/bellevue-commutepool) or as a last mile solution in non-dense neighborhoods (https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2018/10/20/metro-and-chariot-partner-on-eastgate-microtransit-service/)

        I believe Bellevue councilmembers and city staff are keenly aware their CBD is going to require a significant increase in non-driving modes. For example, the new Amazon tower Bellevue is designed for 7,000 workers and 1,700 car parking spaces. Assuming some fraction of those car spots are for fleet vehicles, deliveries, and carpools, that puts the drive-alone rate for that building well below 25%, comparable to Seattle’s CBD.

      3. A fixed-route shuttle system in downtown Bellevue might be useful: it would be similar to a peoplemover or Metro’s former ride free area and current downtown through routes. Bellevue failed with a shuttle before, but now there are a lot more workers and residents distributed between 104th and 120th who might not want to walk, or who want a last-mile boost from the transit center.

        This is completely different from the vision in the Eastside Transportation Association video, which recommends vanpools throughout the Eastside, and subsidized smart-car options (not fully autonomous), and two-way multi-employer shuttles (going back and forth between Microsoft Redmond and Amazon SLU), and opening up HOT lanes to all cars, all instead of transit investments.

      4. A fixed-route shuttle system is basically just another bus. It is a tiny bus, on a tiny route, but it is essentially the same thing. It is just another form of fixed route, fixed time transit. It sounds reasonable for this area, although my guess is a a “spine” (https://humantransit.org/2018/09/dublin-what-is-a-spine.html) could solve that last mile problem better.

        When people discuss self-driving vehicles, they often talk about self-driving taxi-cabs. These are on-demand, point-to-point vehicles. Proponents then talk about the savings, since you don’t have to pay the driver. But mechanical costs are similar to driver costs. If the car is picking up fewer people per hour, it costs more to maintain.

        They then envision a “smart” system, which takes advantage of the fact that at any given moment, someone is doing a trip similar to someone else, and they can share the ride. In terms of riders per hour, these smart perform poorly compared to even the worst fixed routes (https://humantransit.org/2018/02/is-microtransit-a-sensible-transit-investment.html).

        Once you start picking up other riders, you being making compromises. Riders don’t like it if their ride detours to pick someone up, or waits a while for the other person to show up. As a result, the system becomes more and more like a fixed route bus. It stays on the main corridor — requiring people to walk a couple blocks — so that others don’t endure a detour. It runs at set times, so there is no waiting. Eventually, you just have a bus. Whether big or small, automated or not — its a bus.

        The thing about on-demand, point-to-point transit like this is that it doesn’t scale beyond a certain point. Getting a cab in Manhattan is easy. Getting one in Tukwila is not. But there are times when getting a cab in Manhattan is extremely hard. Even with automated cars, it is costly to have a huge fleet to deal with peak demand. That is before you deal with things like traffic.

        In contrast, transit scales. The more people use it, the more often it runs. The more often it runs, the less painful transfers become. This allows the agency to run more of a grid, which not only speeds up many trips, but is more efficient. Eventually you get to the point where you can not only run trains, but you can run them often. This becomes a lot cheaper than a system with a lot of on-demand, point-to-point vehicles stuck in traffic.

      5. I agree the downtown shuttle is just a fixed route line right-sized for short, urban trips. For Bellevue, the ‘spine’ of local buses (and Link itself) will be pointing to different directions, so this shuttle should complement to local bus grid through downtown. The local routes running down Bellevue Way won’t have midday frequency any better than ~20 minutes, which will be just fine for the residential neighborhoods nearby but will be wholly inadequate for short trips within downtown. Because East Link is doing most of the heavy lifting, there simply won’t be that many buses approaching Bellevue from the west or south (excluding 405) to overlay into a frequent spine.

        ” mechanical costs are similar to driver costs” … not sure I agree – labor cost is a significant part of operating costs (70% per https://humantransit.org/2011/07/02box.html). Driverless microtransit doesn’t solve the geometry problem, but it certainly unlocks far better frequency for a given funding level. If road capacity is not constrained, driverless microtransit should be a very powerful technology. Also, the approach used in the Eastgate pilot isn’t point-to-point but many-to-one; fixed point, rather than fixed route, I suppose.

        Also, mechanical costs aren’t linear with ridership. Fixed transit uses large vehicles solely to effectively manage labor costs (https://humantransit.org/2020/04/whats-wrong-with-an-empty-bus.html); when driver costs goes away, it is cheaper to operate a fleet of smaller vans than one bus for a given ridership capacity due to factors like vehicle weight and manufacturing economies of scale (Ford is much bigger than New Flyer). If a fleet of driverless vans doesn’t cause a geometry (aka congestion) issue, vans are going to be a more cost effective way to provide service, fixed or otherwise.

      6. Any half-mile shuttle route is probably going to perform very poorly – at that distance, even a shuttle that runs as often as 10-15 minutes, simply ignoring it and walking is almost certainly going to be faster. Especially in a place like downtown Bellevue where the shuttle is going to get stuck at a long red light every single block. If you have to make detours along the way to pick up or drop off other people, the case for riding it gets even worse. Even a mere one-block detour to pick up a passenger can easily add 5 minutes to the trip if it means two extra left turns, off and onto 8th St.

        Of course, it is possible in theory to run this shuttle every 1-2 minutes, but to do that, you’re spending a fortune of limited transit money to lure people off of their feet, rather than out of their cars.

        Bus service should focus on distance scales where they are actually replacing car trips. Walking is already as cheap and green a transportation mode as you’ll ever get, and the transit should not bend over backwards to try to reduce the “walking” modeshare like the “car” modeshare.

        That’s not to say they’re shouldn’t be any east/west bus in downtown Bellevue – there clearly should – but it should be part of a larger route, such as the 271, and designed with the expectation that most of the riders will be riding between DT Bellevue on other places, not hopping on the bus just to ride two stops.

      7. Yeah, The implementation is the key. If they get enough of them that the wait is less than a minute it would be ideal. 10 minutes is not going to work out so well.

      8. asdf2, they will be owned by individuals largely, so the two round-trips problem will be a thing. Once Lidar becomes a mainstream technology, the price will plummet, just as lane-kerping and distance-keeping cruise have. Honda has them on Civics. I’m sure everyone else does too.

        While Uber is great for a sozzled night out with friends, it will never be a prime commuter technology. You can’t depend on the pickup times. People will want their own autonomous car. At first, of course, they’ll be expensive. But Elon expects to make a bundle of money taking rich Machers into LEO for a couple of orbits. AV’s will be reasonable by 2035. People will be demanding — and getting — AV-only lanes with cars centrally platooned.

  10. Mike Orr: only the first phase of the service reductions was implemented; it was in fall 2014. CM Dembowski was not to blame; he pointed out the reserves were sufficient to avoid the reductions. History proved him correct. The pairing of routes 67 and 65 would not have happened but for his budget pressure on the service change. He asked that more trips be added to the peak routes north of NE 65th Street. Correct, Route 71 was not strong.

  11. Not sure if this will be allowed, but … Seattle from the point of view of a Blue Angels pilot.

    1. Thank you, Sam! I admit to being bored by the show from the ground after about a billion years of watching it, but that video is amazing and really shows the skills of the pilots (and some great views of the city).

      Much appreciated!

      1. Skill and chill. Imagine doing a mile-diameter loop wing to wing with three other planes. Level flight in those close quarters would be a disaster for most pilots.

  12. I was very disappointed Congresswoman Strickland’s Q & A responses. She was given the perfect opportunity to explain the nuances of population density and development, but blew it. This is how I would have answered it:

    There are people who say they don’t like tall buildings, or perhaps they don’t like what tall buildings indicate about how their neighborhood is changing. This type of concern can also apply to transit projects. What do you think is a winning argument to make to folks who might be concerned about what the arrival of a big new apartment building or a transit project might mean for their neighborhood?

    Well, first of all, height is not the same as density. Paris isn’t that tall, but it has lots of density. We will never get to that level of density, but we can have very nice, charming neighborhoods without buildings that tower over our heads. Sometimes it is a matter of just building smarter. Allowing houses to be converted to apartments, or building relatively short apartments, like you would see in Montreal. It isn’t just about adding density, it is about building community — allowing for a corner store, or a community center, instead of asking everyone to drive to another part of town. I think we can add density and transit in such a way that everyone would want to live there, and there are a variety of housing options.

    Anyway, I fear that the same stupid lines will be drawn. People will support density (of any kind) and people will oppose it, because they see nice houses torn down (because those are the only places they allow density) and some ugly buildings being put up. Other neighborhoods (like most of Seattle) have a huge building boom in the way of new, very large houses. A minor increase in density once in a while, but mostly just a lot of extra space for those who can afford it.

  13. For those deeply interested in subarea equity (and as a counter to the conspiracy mongers who insist ST staff isn’t following the rules) – check out slides 11-14:

    Several interesting takeaways:
    1) East King actually started out in the ST3 plan (slide 11) with an ending subarea deficit (meaning they ‘get’ more than they ‘pay’), though cost overruns in the ‘middle’ wave of ST3 projects clearly have hit Seattle & Snohomish more (slide 12). This makes East King’s current project surplus all the more notable and strongly suggests major new East King investments in ST4
    2) Pierce has a persistent surplus under the revised approached. I think this is mostly a function of 2 of the 3 major projects for Pierce, the streetcar Phase III and Sounder capacity expansion, haven’t yet begun design, but it does bode well for South Tacoma Link making it into ST4.
    3) North King has a persistent deficient under the hybrid approach. This unfortunately suggest ST4 will mostly focus on brining the existing Seattle projects across the finish line rather than introducing new marquee projects. Snohomish is likely in a simillar boat.

    As to the specifics of the hybrid approach, some good & some bad as expected.

    Good: ST3 parking is basically cancelled. This is a massive win for transit advocates and shouldn’t be downplayed. Looks like SKC is maneuvering for Kent & Auburn parking (I think from ST2) to move to construction, but otherwise the politicians seem willing to give up parking to focus on Link & Stride.

    Good: SODO-Alaska Jct. is reordered to open after the 2nd downtown tunnel. This should kill off the ‘spur’ operating pattern that was a major mistake in the original operating plan. Additionally, the later SODO-Alaska Jct. opens, the better it can be positioned as a replacement for the Alaska viaduct, rather than a modest improvement over bus operations..

    Bad: RapidRide C/D investments. These should be mitigation for the delay of SODO-Alaska Jct. and Smith Cove-Ballard. Out in Tier 4, they basically disappear into nothingness.

    1. Yeah, I reviewed this presentation the other day and was going to comment about it over the weekend in the open thread, but then figured I would wait until Martin, Dan, etc. published a dedicated post about the subject.
      Those financial plan slides included in the presentation wherein they push the plan out by ten years are fascinating. I agree with several of your points above but would also add that there doesn’t appear to be much love for the infill station at 130th in the first two scenarios. In both the hybrid-integrated network and the integrated network plus advance ST2 Sounder scenarios, it sits out there as a fourth tier project facing a 10-year delay.

      A couple of other other thoughts about subarea equity:

      1. It’s interesting that the agency’s net position balance per the original 2017-2041 financial plan depended so much on the Pierce County SA’s net position. The one subarea that comes closest to balancing out appears to be the Snohomish County SA (although still ending with a negative net position). In the revised financial plan under the hybrid model with the plan pushed out until 2051, it is still dependent upon the Pierce County SA making a heavy lift. It appears to be the only SA that never runs in the red throughout the entire 35-year plan. Also, in this revised scenario, it is the South King County SA that now comes closest to balancing out (although still in a negative net position).

      2. While the annual subarea equity reports are “interesting” to review each year, it’s clear to this observer that there is some fair amount of manipulation going on. For example, in recent years two different subareas (North King County and East King County) had their uses match their resources exactly, meaning that the changes in net position in both cases were zero. In the real world of income statements, this is quite the nifty trick to pull off. (In the case of the N King SA, the manipulation didn’t pan out either as there was a post-close accounting adjustment that ultimately pushed the subarea’s net position into the negative anyway. Oh well, nice try.)

      1. Daniel,
        There is a reason eastside cities are not keen on running East Link through their core business districts.

        I don’t understand this comment. Bellevue agreed/wanted East Link to serve Bellevue Transit Center. They just wanted ST to foot the bill for a gold plated tunnel like Seattle got (because ST basically stole the bus tunnel). Bellevue was from the start all about using East Link to redevelop Bel-Red as the Spring District and that long term vision has paid off. Redmond was on board with running East Link through the MS campus and has created density in the old Group Health/Sears area. They pushed for East Link to run right through their DT. Kirkland has a problem because it’s DT can’t be served by rail because of the topographic challenges. Renton… no train for you. Issaquah seems to want Link but it ain’t never going to happen (world ends in 12 years).

      2. 1. I don’t think it’s fair to say Pierce is ‘carrying’ the plan, other subareas provide far more funding for shared assets; Pierce simply utilizes subarea borrow less throughout the plan.

        2. I think the clean match occurs when a subarea is using new debt as a source of funds, so the debt funds are allocated to balance the subareas, with the remaining balance held centrally.

      3. Yeah I was very surprised to see 130th drop so much. Given most of the heavy construction will be already done with Lynnwood, the incremental cost for the platform & VC is de minimis. As much as Ross likes to point out that Grahm Street is low dollars so should be accelerated, Grahm will be very disruptive to operations to construct. 130th won’t have any of those issues.

      4. AJ, I wonder if ST has had some back-channel discussions with Metro that leads ST to believe that the planned frequent east-west bus on 125th/130th will not be running before 2035 or so. That bus is the primary reason for 130th Station; it would be very weak without the bus.

      5. It wouldn’t be back-channel – ST’s ridership forecast would depend upon KCM’s official published system plans. The Shoreline to Lake City frequent route is in the 2025 service plan, so I would imagine ST is including it in their ridership projects. But since that route doesn’t yet exist, I don’t know what data ST is would use as input to forecast bus-Link transfers at the station. ST gets weak ridership from buses that don’t terminate at a Link station (cough Mt Baker cough), so that might be driving some of the pessimism on the model?

        Additionally, anemic ridership forecast comes from the complete lack of TOD in the station area. While Seattle is talking about creating an urban village, there is nothing on the books, so ST cannot assume Seattle will do an up-zone and instead has to look at the TOD capacity based upon current zoning. This is in contrast to station areas like Tacoma or Issaquah, where there is significant excess zoning capacity on the books that ST’s models project to be developed by 2035, even if development activity in 2021 is subdued.

      6. It will be running this October as route 75, and is currently running as route 41. That connects Lake City to the station, which is the primary purpose of the station. When 130th opens the 75 will be rerouted west to Bitter Lake, Greenwood Ave, and Shoreline CC instead of Northgate. That will serve the station’s second purpose of connecting Bitter Lake to 130th. It can’t do that now because there’s no Link at 130th. This would remove service on 5th, which Metro plans to replace with a variation of the Meridian route (Aurora Village, Meridian Ave N, Roosevelt Way, 130th Station, 5th Ave NE, Northate Station); this would be a coverage route.

        If 130th opens in 2024-2025 with Lynnwood Link and we’re in a tight budget situation like we are now, then one scenario could be rerouting the 75 to Aurora and terminating there, letting Shoreline CC get by with other routes (notably the proposed 65 extension which also serves 130th), and serving 5th with either the Meridian route (346, as planned) or the Mountlake Terrace route (347).

      7. Mike, the 41 does not connect Lake City to the station, nor will the 75. They (will) connect Lake City to 125th and Fifth NE. That is not the station. Sure, it’s a relatively short walk, but it’s not the 125th/130th east-west trunk envisioned in the long-range plan.

        Given that Metro’s future is scrambled by the pandemic and transit-phobia, there is little reason to expect that a new bus route planned for implementation in 2025 will arrive as planned in 2025.

      8. P.S. I do agree that “when 130th opens”, Metro will find the cash in the cushions to serve it, perhaps as you say with a truncated version of the full service to Shoreline CC. But in those “back-channel conversations” — you know they occur — if the word from ST is that 130th isn’t coming soon, the Metro folks are probably “Whew! Thanks. That makes our lives easier.”

      9. You’re asserting that these back-channel conversations exist, and that ST would make such a major, long-term decision based on some back-channel, short term reassurance or lack thereof. That’s hard to believe.

      10. I’m with Mike – those back-channel conversations certain occur (and should occur! It’s called collaborating), but I don’t think they impact the ridership forecast (the topic of the thread). The ridership models are rather mechanical and there isn’t a ‘fudge factor’ for these types of background conversations to influence.

      11. Of course the ridership projections are formulaic, but there’s certainly no reason to open 130th station without the cross-130th bus, and there’s not a whole lot of reason to run the bus without the station. There’s MORE reason to run the bus without the station, just a lot less than with the station.

        I would assert that “Northgate” (not just the mall, but Meridian to Roosevelt from 100th to 112th or so including North Seattle College) is much more attractive to folks from Bitter Lake than is Lake City and is more attractive to folks from Lake City than is Bitter Lake. The area north of 125th west of I-5 is connected to Northgate by the buses that pass by Northwest Hospital. Really, how many people want to go from Lake City to Bitter Lake? One-thirtieth and Aurora has a bunch of big box stores to the north and south, but only a small minority of people go to big box stores on the bus. I understand that you do, Mike, but it’s not common. There is employment in both neighborhoods, but not huge numbers of jobs. What’s the attraction?

        Given that the 522 (or whatever the bus that runs from 145th and Lake City Way to Roosevelt will be called when the STRide line is opened) is a pretty quick ride south of 125th and covers the entirety of the rather tall and skinny “Lake City” urban village, is it not possible that folks will be satisfied with Roosevelt Station for their Link demand, at least southward?

        I get that it’s terrible for north destinations and that in itself is reason for the 130th bus once the station opens, but given the quickness of the bus on Lake City Way, won’t folks be in Roosevelt or rather south about as quickly using either path?

      12. “Of course the ridership projections are formulaic, but there’s certainly no reason to open 130th station without the cross-130th bus”

        ST has to decide three years ahead when to construct the station. Bus service may not be finalized until six months ahead. If ST waits for Metro it will never get done and ST will miss an opportunity.

        “how many people want to go from Lake City to Bitter Lake”

        Not many. More people want to go from both Lake City and Bitter Lake to the rest of Seattle and the Eastside and Lynnwood and the airport. Especially the huge draws of downtown, UW, and large events. Others want to go from Lake City to transfer to the E to all the businesses and residents along Aurora. People want to be able to get from the west side of Seattle to Kenmore and the Northshore cities. People in Sand Point want to get to 130th Station and the E. People from all over want to get to Shoreline Community College. This is what good transit circulation looks like: facilitating all these kinds of trips.

        The 522 will only be going to Roosevelt temporarily between Northgate Link and whenever Stride opens. If Lynnwood Link opens before Stride, the 522 may get truncated at 145th then. 130th Station may not be open yet, and Metro has not identified any Lake City-Roosevelt route to replace the eventual loss of the 522.

        I don’t fully understand the 75/45 through-route. It seems to be to streamline service in the U-District and serve trips between Children’s/UVillage and Greenake/Greenwood. The 75 was once attached to half of the 31/32 (the 65 to the other half), then the 75 was attached to all of the 31/32, and now the 75 will be attached to the 45. I think this is more about creating a complete east-west corridor (24th Ave NW to Children’s) than it is about connecting the 45 corridor to 125th/130th.

        The 65/67 is popular because a fair number of people go between Children’s/UVillage and the northwest UDistrict and Roosevelt. Conversely, people in Roosevelt go to UVillage and Children’s and are starting to go to 35th. It’s much harder to go east-west from Roosevelt Way to 35th than it is to go north-south from the 45 corridor to 130th. That may seem silly because there’s the 62, but several parts of Roosevelt Way like 80th and 55th are not near the 62, and there are plenty of apartments there.

      13. “1. I don’t think it’s fair to say Pierce is ‘carrying’ the plan, other subareas provide far more funding for shared assets; Pierce simply utilizes subarea borrow less throughout the plan.”

        Nah, it’s completely fair. Subareas running annual surpluses provide for that borrowing by the other subareas that are running deficits, thereby reducing the need for earlier bonding and increased debt servicing costs. The funding mix for shared assets is driven by the asset allocation rules and thus isn’t a particularly relevant argument in this context.

        “2. I think the clean match occurs when a subarea is using new debt as a source of funds, so the debt funds are allocated to balance the subareas, with the remaining balance held centrally.”

        The problem with that argument is that the historical record (as documented by the annual subarea equity reports going back to day one) to support it is just too inconsistent. One would hope that when this practice is followed in any given year, i.e., when a portion of previously unallocated bond proceeds are shifted to a given subarea’s ledger to “balance out” sources and uses for said year, that any associated accumulated debt servicing costs “held centrally” are reclassified as well.

      14. Mike, I don’t think you got my irony about the 75/45 through-route. It seems to be a mini-240, but instead of circumnavigating Lake Washington, it sets its ambitions lower, and contents itself with circumnavigating the Maplewood Reservoir.

        I would point out that people in both Bitter Lake and Lake City have will have access to Link, Lake City at Roosevelt and Bitter Lake at Northgate via the 345. Now I admit that the 345 is far from “frequent” and there’s no doubt that IF 1) the station were finished when Lynnwood opens or shortly thereafter and 2) the 75 served it things would be a LOT better for Bitter Lake. But in all honesty, I’m not sure that’s true of Lake City, because the 75 will only serve the quarter mile on either side of 125th well. A 145th to Roosevelt route on Lake City Way serves the entire neighborhood.

  14. 1. Although he meant it in a derogatory way, Ross’s comparison of East King Co. to Kansas when it comes to transit as opposed to Chicago makes a point I have been trying to make (although I don’t quite see the similarity between Pinehurst/Northgate and the city of Chicago).

    It isn’t the total population of East King Co., it is the lack of density and sheer size, and that will not change meaningfully. The ETA and speakers did not state population won’t increase on the eastside, or traffic congestion is not bad, what they said was traditional transit during peak commutes is too expensive per rider, and ineffective on the eastside. There is a reason eastside cities are not keen on running East Link through their core business districts.

    Al is correct, ACES — or shared electric vehicles — is about driverless shuttles, and eventually shared car rides through ride share apps, with a fleet of cars run by large companies. Think electric shared Uber rides. One key benefit is a shared car is not on a fixed course, and so does not have to return empty from a peak hour commuter run.

    If according to Bellevue East Link in 2030 is going to handle 2.4% of all eastside trips for $5.5 billion it is not the solution, and never was, and no amount of TOD is going to change that. (Actually I thought the 11% of trips by walking was the most interesting part of the trip estimates). Running East Link along a single line through east King Co. is like running a single line through Kansas and claiming you have created mobility.

    2. When it comes to Renton, Renton is part of the eastside because it wants to be part of the eastside. It doesn’t want to be a BARK city (Burien, Auburn, Renton, Kent), and it certainly does not want to be part of South Seattle.

    It is true some of the other blue chip eastside cities like Issaquah, Bellevue, Redmond and Issaquah sometimes treat Renton as a second class citizen, but any city that has dealt with Bellevue and Seattle will tell you Seattle is arrogant and dismissive (just look at Ross’s post about the eastside), whereas Bellevue although obviously senior officer is very inclusive of eastside cities, and works hard to build inter-local relationships for fire, water and so on. Renton wants to become Bellevue, or part of Bellevue, not Seattle, and its future lies with the eastside because that is where the future is. Renton sees its future north on 405, not west or south.

    3. Although I too appreciate Al’s informative posts and lack of personal attacks, I do note his most recent post on subarea equity mentioned ST 4 several times. Personally, I think that is like preparing the next night’s dinner menu based on fixing the hole in the Titanic.

    If Pierce and East King Co. will have a surplus from ST 3 I don’t see a ST 4 getting momentum. I agree a ST 4 levy will be necessary for the N. King Co. subarea to complete ST 3 projects, and have been stating this for some time, but it will be a local levy, not ST–wide. Yes, some urban transit advocates might be pleased that parking is being postponed or cut, but what is the alternative if Metro can’t even provide decent first/last mile access for Northgate? How many times can ST lie about cost estimating and project delivery?

    The problem is I just don’t think some understand the money we are talking about. Even Seattle’s uber progressive council just decided to bond nearly all of the additional $20 car tab fee to raise $75 million for bridge maintenance, except $75 million is one year’s worth of funding for a $3.5 billion unfunded bridge mandate from a tax that will raise $7.2 million/year.

    ST 3 in N. King Co. including the second transit tunnel will be short round $20 billion by 2030 in my estimation. There just is not that kind of money, and with subarea equity and uniform taxing authority funding ST 3 in N. King Co. would leave some other subareas with way too much money with no place to spend it.

    I think the most important lesson from the ST slides Al discusses is what can be completed without a ST 4. That is the spine, and much of the spine runs through Kansas, including north of Northgate.

    4. Finally, I don’t quite understand Ross’s class warfare polemic about peak commute buses from Northgate to Seattle. “The wealthy” don’t ride transit. Forcing a three seat commute via Link isn’t going to hurt the wealthy, because the wealthy drive and park downtown. The folks on those buses are secretaries, paralegals, dental assistants, clerical works, not fat cats, and if you rode those peak hour buses you would see that.

    Look, Link was always about the peak hour commuter, because without traffic congestion spending billions on rail makes little sense. It is why Link hugs I-5 beginning at Northgate. Unfortunately Seattle decided to massively upzone SLU despite Link not serving SLU, and ST’s dishonest cost estimating meant the First Hill station never got built, and so there are some big holes in Link when it reaches Seattle.

    Northgate Link is probably the last chance for ST to have a success, because I don’t think the rest of Link — including East Link — will have the ridership. East Link will be “meh”. Still, if you have to work downtown — and really if you want class warfare — it is forcing so many workers to spend their lives commuting on transit to a congested area like Seattle — because now you still have to take a fairly indirect rail route, and if you don’t work in the core along 3rd Link ain’t going where you are going.

    Shitty first/last mile access on both ends of Northgate Link don’t spell success.

    You can’t tell a bunch of middle class commuters who hate commuting to begin with, hey, we built Northgate Link and now you have a three seat commute, and even if you have a two seat commute it will probably take longer than before. If there is ever going to be a ST 4, or just a HB 1304 levy, it is going to come down to bus feeder frequency (on both ends apparently) and total commute trip time, and unfortunately Metro is hurting financially, and going east-west in this part of Seattle is brutal during rush hour.

    I think it is smart to run some express buses at first for those who will end up with the longest commutes with truncation. I see the same for Issaquah/Sammamish when East Link opens unless the transfer at Mercer Island or S. Bellevue is seamless. Maybe like Al notes, commuters will eventually transition to Link, or better first/last mile access can be afforded (and the eastside has some large park and rides that access East Link). But to see this as some kind of stick it to the rich man by making a bunch of secretaries and clerical workers take a three seat trip to Seattle on Link is misguided IMO.

    If there is one huge mistake transit has made over and over in this region it is providing overpriced and underwhelming transportation based on the fact the rider has no other option, especially the commuter who does not want to be on a bus or train to downtown Seattle because they can’t afford parking, which does not affect “the wealthy” at all. Just once transit needs to consider the customer, because the customer votes, and ST is not exactly on what I would call a ST 4 roll.

    1. This is in reply to TT’s and Mike Orr’s comments on the station at 130th (no reply button for either).

      From a transit and even an “Urbanist” standpoint I don’t get TOD, certainly not at 130th.

      The plan is to build a light rail station next to I-5 at 130th that doesn’t have the ridership currently to support such an expensive station, or the feeder bus service, on the hope that in the future Seattle upzones the area for TOD to create the ridership, even though there will be a station at 145th

      This TOD will then attract childless citizens who want to live in a dense development of small units next to an above ground rail station and elevated line, and next to I-5, and not own a car so they are totally dependent on transit, giving the 130th station the ridership to justify it because…. it is closer to Seattle than 145th? (Meanwhile, Ballard and West Seattle want tunnels and underground stations).

      Despite ST having funding issues in this subarea, and a station at 145th.

      Does this reduce the cost and need for feeder buses. No, because even if the entire area is upzoned only a small portion is walkable to the station, so the cost of first/last mile access continues, and really increases with greater density considering each rider on Metro pays 20% of the cost. And according to TT the feeder buses drop you off five blocks from the station. Great design.

      Will anyone in these TOD’s really go carless. Not if history is any guide. They will simply park on the nearby streets.

      I guess maybe this part of N. Seattle could be part of some Urbanist utopian vision if the region’s population doubles or triples in the next 20 years (although living next to I-5 and an elevated rail line on 130th isn’t exactly Paris to me, or even Capitol Hill or Pioneer Square), although right now the areas near this station are one of Seattle’s nicest single family zones, but to suggest this is a plan for Issaquah is crazy.

      Look, Issaquah is one of my favorite cities, and I like the commercial center, which is the opposite of 130th. Great access on I-90. But Issaquah’s commercial center is HUGE, and almost all one story. You couldn’t even ride a bike through it, let alone walk it (except parts of Old Front Street on the eastern edge of the city), and the car traffic makes biking terrifying. Really if you know Issaquah, it has four distinct commercial areas, all huge and one story, with huge free parking lots, just like eastsiders like and create tons of retail sales tax revenue. Think Costco.

      Issaquah has no intent of building a light rail station near any of its commercial core, or running any kind of feeder transit, even to the rest of the commercial core let alone the SFH zones. It has no intent of creating the kind of density to support a $4.5 billion line and station, except some obligatory TOD by the station that won’t sell because Issaquah residents drive and live in SFH mostly, certainly to Bellevue or S. Kirkland.

      The real question is should ST be building light rail to Everett, but that horse is out of the barn (but still in the barn for Issaquah). Is ST really going to create its claimed ridership along the spine TOD by TOD, all next to I-5, until you get to the Bellevue of the north, Lynnwood? Is a TOD next to I-5 at 130th and 145th really the Urbanist Vision? What happened to downtown Seattle as the Urbanist vision?

      Let’s get the spine completed with as few stations as possible, then figure out where the ridership is, how much money is left over, whether Metro can feed the stations with any kind of frequency, and whether we need to or can afford to build more stations later on, rather than using unbuilt TOD to support light rail and stations that probably never should have been built to begin with. Light rail was about mobility, not equity or housing.

      1. Daniel, check out the Village at Totem Lake for a feel for what rebuilt Central Issaquah will look like. There certainly is a need to rebuild the street grid, make it safer & more comfortable for biking & walking, add more parks downtown, etc. The city has good plans in place and plenty of runway to implement before Link arrives.

      2. 1. Plenty of families with children live in condos and apartment complexes. Why shouldn’t some of those be near Link stations? Sure, it’s miserable living next to a freeway, but long before light rail that’s where lower income apartments have been put in many cities. Where would you put them instead? The ones along Highway 99 have already become unaffordable.

        2. The 130th street station isn’t about TOD, but about trying to build a usable transit system. To use light rail, you have to be able to get to the stations. Stations at freeway interchanges are extremely difficult to access, and make transfers to them by bus difficult because of all the freeway traffic. 130th at least has a more limited interchange size, which makes a vastly better station that people will actually be able to get to.

        3. A line like what you suggest, with only a several stations, only works if there are significant destinations at each end. Otherwise, who is going to ride it? And to where? People don’t ride transit to get from one park and ride lot to another. What few intermediate stations there are will have to be accessible to the largest number of people possible.

        4. There is no point in trying to make this line an express from Everett to Seattle. 55 mph operating speed already means a speed disadvantage over driving most of the day. The diversion to Boeing only makes that worse. There already is fast transit from Everett to Seattle with few stations. It’s Sounder. Ridership is very low.

    2. How much ridership is “enough” to justify a station? Forward Thrust was planned in the 1960s when the population was much lower, and it went to Bellevue and Redmond. Other countries wouldn’t even have this hand-wringing: the build rail trunks in cities smaller than Seattle-Bellevue-Redmond. You can argue that they would have handled the far ends in Everett and Tacoma differently — but this is 130th we’re talking about! 130th, Bellevue, and Redmond are well within the area that justifies something like Link. Lake City is a large urban village that should have good access to Link. This is just transit best practices. That’s even without TOD at 130th & 5th. We went along with the Northgate feeder idea because we didn’t think another station was possible, and ST wasn’t likely to move 145th station to 130th (which we also advocated). Then an extra station appeared in an ST Aurora alternative, and then when I-5 was chosen, activists started thinking, “If an extra station is possible in one alternative then it should be possible in another alternative.” That led to the clamor that an extra station at 130th & I-5 really would be better, and appropriate given the size of Lake City. ST’s extra station in the Aurora alternative came with no special upzone dependency — it was based on the fact that the then-development in the early 2010s was enough justification.

      The way I see it, cities over a few hundred thousand should have good trunk transportation, which is what Link is. The existing bus riders are enough to justify it, even if no more riders come. Upgrading your transit system is a good thing in itself. Again, it’s what most other industrialized countries do. Don’t get distracted by the controversies and doubts about Everett and Tacoma and Issaquah, this is 130th we’re talking about, and a proposal to connect Seattle’s fifth-largest urban village to it better.

      “Does this reduce the cost and need for feeder buses. No, because even if the entire area is upzoned only a small portion is walkable to the station”

      That’s irrelevant. The need is to connect the fifth-largest urban village, which can’t move. Tens of thousands of people live or work or shop there and need to be connected to the rest of the metropolis. Seattle needs more housing opportunities with good access to transit, and it can’t just write off its fifth-largest village. Lake City will grow, and faster than smaller villages and non-villages. One of the car dealership owners is talking about multstory buildings with dealerships on the ground floor and housing above. That sounds far-fetched, but at least it’s a step forward, and it’s better than areas that are hostile to densifying their one-story buildings.

      “to suggest this is a plan for Issaquah is crazy.”

      We’re not talking about Issaquah; we’re talking about 130th.

      “Despite ST having funding issues in this subarea, and a station at 145th.”

      The issues with Ballard and West Seattle are separate. As I said in my feedback to ST, 130th should come first, before the other North King projects. It’s a small cost and quick construction time for a large benefit. Ballard and West Seattle are so far into the future that one more year won’t make much of a difference to people in the meantime — they’ll still have to get along without Link for over a decade. But 130th could be open and serving riders in three years. That would improve Seattle’s overall mobility in THIS decade. It would even help Ballard in making it easier to get to Lake City.

      “even though there will be a station at 145th”

      That’s going out-of-direction for the center of Lake City, which is at 125th & Lake City Way. A bus would have to go north on LCW and west to the station. That would negate the benefit of not having to go to Northgate Station.

      “according to TT the feeder buses drop you off five blocks from the station.”

      He’s probably right about that; I underestimated the distance between where the 41 turns and 130th. But his argument depends on not implementing the 75 restructure west on 130th. That’s unlikely; it’s a speculation he’s pulling out of thin air.

      The reason it’s unlikely is it’s not many more service hours than the October restructure will already have. In October the 75 will take over the 41’s path to Northgate (125th-5th). The 130th restructure is to make those hours go west instead of south. So if we take 30 blocks going south and turn them west, that’s enough to get to Aurora and Greenwood and almost Shoreline CC, without any additional hours. It could even be truncated at Aurora if money is tight. The 346 and 347 are already going from Northgate to Aurora Village or Mountlake Terrace, so rerouting one of them onto 5th wouldn’t add any more hours. Presto, a revenue-neutral restructure that gives east-west access to 130th Station from Lake City and Bitter Lake. And the economy will probably be better in 2025, so there will likely be hours to address that evening/Sunday frequency gap.

      1. Amen to your entire rebuttal. Well said!

        “As I said in my feedback to ST, 130th should come first, before the other North King projects.”

        Yup. I too put it as my number one priority for this subarea in that recent ST survey. I am very dismayed by the tier four status its been given so far in the realignment discussions (utilizing the hybrid integrated network scenario). This is such a short-sighted position to take.

      2. It may be speculation, but the 75 is getting through-routed with the 45 in October. That’s a bus connecting 32nd NW, Northgate TC and “downtown Lake City” at 125th and Lake City Way. That is EXACTLY what Ross wanted in the 61. Now, I grant that it takes the long-way around Robin Hoods’ barn to get from one end to the other; the 61 “short-cut” would be a whole hour faster, but the buses are supposed to be through-routed, according to the document on which Russ depends for his assertions about the expresses.

        Why, if “the 75 is going to be rerouted” in 2025, did Metro make this through-route? That’s a serious question. A real one. Are they in the regular practice of joining routes for three-year periods?

      3. Well to be fair my comment was about TOD next to the station at 130th and I-5 because that was the point Mike was making (see quote below).

        Other countries don’t have the same costs to build light rail per mile, and my guess are not talking about the total land area we are. Seattle is a pretty large city geographically, so using a 200,000 citizen threshold needs to account for area. The fifth largest “urban village” in all of Seattle really does not calculate density or ridership per mile. But if those in the know think ST needs a station at Northgate, 130th and 145th, and can afford it and serve it with first/last mile access, who am I to disagree. I just don’t know how pleasant it will be to live next to an elevated train track and I-5.

        The reason I brought up Issaquah is because Mike brought up Issaquah in his original post I was replying to, and my belief Issaquah’s future development will not focus on TOD or a future light rail station, so don’t look for future (TOD) development to support the ridership needed for a $4.5 billion line from Issaquah to S. Kirkland.

        Mike wrote:

        “Additionally, anemic ridership forecast comes from the complete lack of TOD in the station area [130th]. While Seattle is talking about creating an urban village, there is nothing on the books, so ST cannot assume Seattle will do an up-zone and instead has to look at the TOD capacity based upon current zoning. This is in contrast to station areas like Tacoma or Issaquah, where there is significant excess zoning capacity on the books that ST’s models project to be developed by 2035, even if development activity in 2021 is subdued.”

        Beginning with Northgate the light rail stations are next to I-5 and elevated. TOD suggests the ability to walk to light rail, which means living in a multi-family development next to an elevated train track and I-5. There is a reason other areas of Link (at least north of Yesler) are underground as Link winds through “urban villages” and residential neighborhoods.

        If 130th needs a station great, but I wouldn’t want to live right next to it.

      4. The dense & growing neighborhood around Judkins Park station is probably a better comp for both 130th and Central Issaquah, rather than any of the current Central Link station areas.

  15. You’re right about the two new Kenmore lines. They are a significant commitment. The 64 and 302 each get just four new trips, and best I can tell, the 303 has no new trips (current is 13 total, revised the same), so with the exception of the Kenmore service, this is essentially relatively modest increases in express service, eight runs.

    However, the 320 (361 write-up) states that it replaces “routes 309 and 312”. The 309 has nine existing runs but I can’t find anything current about a 312, so a net of twenty-five new, not thirty-four.

    So the actual net increase is about 65 new trips, not 120. You were counting trips already running under a different badge.

    I admit I was extrapolating the historical frequencies of such long distance expresses: typically two or three per peak hour for two hours in the morning and three in the evening while depending on the reader to realize that the “four or five” meant “each way for each route”. I should have said so explicitly.

    1. I didn’t mean to suggest a net increase in 120 trips. I only meant there are about 120 trips that are completely unnecessary. The point being, these are a lot of trips, and if that savings is spread to all-day service, it would make a big difference.

      It is difficult to research old numbers, since everything changed because of the pandemic. Even the Wayback machine has trouble with the old schedules. Sometimes it can find them, sometimes it can’t.

  16. I think the funding issues for Metro, and the hard choices required, have been known for some time. Even before the pandemic I questioned how CT, PT, or Metro could feed 90 miles of rail through what Ross calls Kansas, so that total trip time including transfer did not increase. Total trip time is the critical factor IMO, and what rail was sold on. Grade separation and expensive tunnels are about congestion and trip time. People think rail will make their trip faster, not slower. The fact is I am not sure converting express buses into feeder buses saves as much money as some hoped.

    I can understand Ross’s argument that express buses consume too much revenue, especially since express buses return mostly empty. Maybe working from home and some other post-pandemic changes will begin to question why we force so many citizens to waste so much of their lives in a car or on a bus or train to all get somewhere at the same time, and then get back home at the same time. Many love their work; none love commuting to it.

    The continuation of the express buses highlights a bigger issue IMO, even if funding recovers. Even with full funding I think there are many (all) areas in which first/last mile access to rail will be slow, expensive, and folks will complain light rail has made their trip longer, not shorter. Transit advocates hope TOD will be the salvation, except even with TOD you still have spread out neighborhoods throughout the spine that are not TOD.

    Northgate highlights this problem especially. One because there is some density in neighborhoods around Northgate. Two travelling east/west/east in this part of Seattle, especially during peak hours, is very difficult. Three there is very little park and ride space to help out. Fourth, if you are going to Seattle parking prices are at their highest and so driving is just not an option. Fifth, Northgate Link is maybe the first true commuter station in N. King Co. And sixth, Link doesn’t serve some big areas of downtown Seattle, unless you are an Olympic walker.

    When we begin to get to the real parts of Kansas, like north of Northgate, East Link, south King Co. , just lack of density and the total land area become the issues, especially if ST is going to cut park and rides.

    If Northgate does not result in equal or shorter total trip times for most riders (especially commuters) folks who don’t love transit for transit are going to scream the transit crowd is a bunch of morons, and in fact they would be correct, because to spend tens of billions on rail for longer trip times is moronic.

    Chicago isn’t coming to Northgate. This is ex-urban commuter rail, and that is a difficult mix to serve. East Link will be different because I don’t think many eastsiders plan to use it, and there are park and rides and easier options to drive to work. Snohomish Co. and South King Co. to Pierce Co. who knows, there may be so few riders who cares.

    The only hope for ST, and ST 3 in N. King Co., is ST 4, and the only hope for a ST 4 (or HB 1304 levy or Metro levy) is whether Northgate Link works because this area votes for transit levies the most, and Northgate is the best chance for rail in Kansas to work.

    Ross thinks a lot of midday riders will howl at the lack of frequency, and ST/Metro apparently believe more peak hour commuters will complain — or are better at complaining — at added seats and a train that doesn’t serve large areas of Seattle.

    My guess is both groups will complain, except as Ross admits commuters complain better and smarter. I doubt a Metro levy will pass country wide, and think there is very little chance ST 4 will pass, and ST 4 really wouldn’t solve first/last mile feeder bus issues because ST never thought that was its problem, until ST 3 in N. King Co. ended up around $12 to $20 billion short including tunnel and Metro became so damn expensive per mile (except compared to rail).

    October when Northgate Link opens and the UW is open should tell us a lot from the complaints, just as the reopening of the S. Bellevue Park and Ride in Sept. should tell us a lot about East Link and first/last mile access based on the 550 (and working from home). Northgate could work with the right amount of funding for Metro including some express buses, but providing first/last mile feeder bus service to East Link was a stupid idea from the very beginning.

    As I have noted many times running rail frequently along fixed tracks and through tunnels is the easy part, assuming the train goes where the riders are going. First/last mile access in Kansas is the issue.

    1. First/last mile access to Link won’t be slow. Buses run quickly in the suburbs, at least until they get to freeway interchanges. ST needs to be careful how they plan for bus-access in order to route them around the on-ramps themselves where they can, but overall, the most reliable portion of a “Blue Streak” style neighborhood-collector-that-becomes-an-express bus is the part through the neighborhood. Stops are separated far enough in the suburbs that the bus travels quickly.

      1. Sorry about the close italic. It should have been after “won’t”.

      2. The Kansas comparison is becoming a dead horse.

        Except ST4 is “somewhere over the rainbow”. Certainly not going to happen in my lifetime. ST3 will be redefined multiple times to be on time and on budget before it fails to deliver before there’s another vote to raise taxes and spend yet more money to make things essentially the same.

    2. The Kansas comparison is becoming a dead horse. Pugetopolis is not like Kansas. It’s denser, higher-ridership, and more populous. I’m struggling to even find a comparison to Pugetopolis. San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston are denser and higher-ridership than Seattle. DC is higher-ridership. San Jose is like an overgrown Bellevue. Portland, San Diego, Dallas, and Atlanta are lower-ridership and lower density than Seattle. Metro’s overall ridership and regional commuter transit (both ST and Metro/CT expresses) per capita has been higher for decades than cities of similar size. This is probably because of bridge bottlenecks, the high concentration of jobs in downtown Seattle, the amount of express service from everywhere to downtown, and the local environmentalist/liberal-ish culture. But it’s far more accurate to say Seattle and Pugetopolis are more comparable to Portland, Vancouver DC, and San Diego, than to Kansas.

      Most of Metro’s service is not directly affected by Link. Link does not address Ballard-Children’s trips, Greenwood-Roosevelt, Greenlake-Sand Point, Kirkland-Redmond, Overlake-Eastgate, Renton-Kent, Kent-eastern Kent, Eastlake, in-between trips in Rainier Valley, etc.

      Some impacts will simply be a direct substitution. Those currently riding the 550 or 51x peak/daytime will find travel time the same or better. The ones who will have a worse travel time are those in the south end and maybe those from places in the Eastside that currently have peak expresses to downtown. But those are a minority of riders. You talk so much about people from Issaquah, Sammamish, and Newport Hills having an unacceptably worse trip, but they are a small fraction of riders. We mustn’t let the tail wag the dog.

      The decision of which places will have direct expresses to downtown or First Hill is somewhat arbitrary and uneven, and I understand objections based on that. Why is Kenmore more important than Rainier Valley, northwest Seattle, or Issaquah? To me it’s just part of the compromise, and Metro having a partial bias for certain areas.

      Link affects a wide variety of trips, and only a fraction are bus+Link combinations that will be slower than an existing one-seat bus ride. Other trips are one-seat Link rides, bus+Link combinations that aren’t worse or where a one-seat bus ride was never a realistic expectation, and bus trips in areas between Link stations or outside Link’s service area entirely. So your contention that “most riders” will be angered at Link making commutes worse is exaggerated. Some will complain, as there always are. But many will be glad of Link. Others will find their new trips only a minor annoyance. Others will start riding after the restructures have occurred (both ex-drivers and new residents) and won’t know what it was like before. Those will become more numerous over time.

      “Northgate highlights this problem especially.”

      Northgate is an interesting and unusual case. Metro studied P&R usage at the beginning of Lynnwood Link planning. It found that most of the cars come from east and west (Licton Springs, Maple Leaf, etc). Not from the north, so not trips involving bus truncations. ST asked the community in public hearings why they drove to Northgate P&R and whether they wanted it expanded or more bus/bike/ped access to the station. Three quarters of the feedback was to improve bus/bike/ped access to the station. Most of those who drove to the P&R said they did so because east-west bus feeders were so limited and there was no safe way to walk or bike to the station. (This gets into the limited amount of sidewalks in North Seattle.) So everyone was hoping for more east-west feeders. This has obviously been watered down. Still, these are not people who will be subject to a bus truncation and be angry at Link for that.

      And again, P&Rs have only a fraction of the number of parking spaces as ridership. So most people riding buses/trains are coming from another bus or bike or walking. They can’t drive to the P&R even if they wanted to because there are no spaces for them. Making the P&Rs large enough for every rider would require quadrupling the size of them, and that would gobble up so much land I don’t even want to think of it being considered.

      It’s premature to make predictions on ST4 because the ST board has not even considered whether there will be an ST4, when it would be, or what it might contain. There are carry-over expectations; e.g., Link extensions to Everett College and Tacoma Mall, and maybe those WSJ-Renton-Burien and Ballard-UW concepts, but nothing beyond that. ST can extend the ST3 taxes indefinitely to finish all voter-approved projects if it wants to. Any mini-vote to raise the debt:asset ratio or increase ST3 taxes or modify the projects is not really an “ST4” vote as it is commonly understood. ST could simply extend the taxes, or defer some projects, or call an ST4 to add new projects and fund deferred ones, but that decision probably won’t be until the 2030s at the earliest. So any predictions now are simply wild guesses.

      I’m skeptical of ST4 because the subareas’ interests will increasingly diverge, with some subareas wanting to spend a lot urgently and others wanting to spend little and not in any hurry. After Everett Station and Tacoma Dome are fully funded and those counties no longer have large ambitions to match North King’s, it will become increasingly likely that the legislature would have to split the tax district into subareas with their own tax rates and schedules in order to get anything resembling “ST4” in some of them. Remember that ST3 was enlarged to include some what was previously assumed to be in ST4, so in that sense ST3 is already “ST3&4”.

      “ST 4 really wouldn’t solve first/last mile feeder bus issues because ST never thought that was its problem, until ST 3 in N. King Co. ended up around $12 to $20 billion short including tunnel and Metro became so damn expensive per mile”

      I don’t see how those two are related. ST’s position is that feeders are outside its control or responsibility. It favors feeders in principle and encourages Metro/CT/PT to have them. The most valid criticism of ST in this regard is it should have tried harder to get the transfers closer together at Mt Baker, Bellevue TC, and 145th, and not made buses detour to 147th.

      1. Thanks Mike, as always appreciate your comments.

        When you use the term “Pugetopolis”, in this situation you are referring to the three county ST taxing district. King Co. alone is nearly the size of Rhode Island. So the total land size that the 90 miles of the spine serves has to be considered when comparing other cities and transit systems, because that is the area feeder bus service must serve unless an army of express buses continues to run. Density begins to wane fairly quickly as you leave Seattle. It isn’t Kansas, Ross’s comparison, but it will be damn expensive to serve with feeder service per rider per mile.

        “ST’s position is that feeders are outside its control or responsibility. It favors feeders in principle and encourages Metro/CT/PT to have them.”

        My point is if ST is going to suck out $54 billion of transit funding based on bus truncation it better rethink its position about its responsibility for feeders, because if feeder service sucks ST will get the blame because ST created the need for truncation, at a tremendous cost, after promising voters the moon. Granted those whose bus service stays the same won’t have much to complain about, if it stays the same (unless they were promised rail in ST 3), but I don’t think the goal is those who don’t get Link keep better transit than those who do get Link.

        “The ones who will have a worse travel time are those in the south end and maybe those from places in the Eastside that currently have peak expresses to downtown. But those are a minority of riders. You talk so much about people from Issaquah, Sammamish, and Newport Hills having an unacceptably worse trip, but they are a small fraction of riders. We mustn’t let the tail wag the dog.”

        That is Ross’s argument against express buses from the Northgate area. It was a judgement call whether to continue express buses from Northgate, probably influenced by the holes in Seattle that Link does not serve, which are the same holes East Link will not serve.

        Will a resident of Issaquah quietly drive to a park and ride to catch a bus to a station to catch East Link to catch a bus to get to SLU and Amazon when that same commuter had a one seat express bus ride in a HOV lane, and as Ross notes is probably someone who organizes and complains loudly on social media and at council meetings? I doubt it.

        Luckily that isn’t my commute. If Northgate gets express buses to Seattle I would bet Issaquah gets expresses buses as well. Like you noted, who gets express buses is arbitrary, which means politics, and Issaquah is pretty good at politics, and will likely get Bellevue behind it when all those non-Bellevue commuters start driving to the S. Bellevue Park and Ride, and ST does what Bellevue wants it to do.

        My point is once I saw Northgate got express buses I knew Issaquah/Sammamish would get express buses after East Link opens (but probably not Renton). Plus that solves the litigation with Mercer Island over the intensity of the bus intercept, which appears to be moving towards some kind of resolution, probably because everyone now realizes ridership on East Link will be a fraction of what ST estimated. But then buses in the HOV lane across the I-90 bridge probably means the HOV lane won’t revert to a general purpose lane to allow Mercer Island SOV access from Island Crest Way, so win some, lose some.

      2. “once I saw Northgate got express buses I knew Issaquah/Sammamish would get express buses after East Link opens”

        That may be. I’ve said no before, but I’ve probably failed to distinguish between the definiteness of a concrete restructure and the indefiniteness of Metro’s long-range plan. The north end expresses are part of a concrete restructure, so Metro is specifically saying these routes are worthwhile at present and the council voted on it. The Eastside doesn’t have a concrete proposal yet. Metro’s long-range plan is just a high-level sketch of what it could be like. It’s six years old, depends on additional funding which has never been identified, has not been vetted closely like concrete restructures are, and is now in kind of limbo since covid and the recession and the new equity emphasis have upended previous assumptions.

        Didn’t Metro recently recruit for an East Link restructure sounding board and ask for comments on the current service? The first proposal will probably come in a few months. Then we can see what kind of expresses it does or doesn’t have.

      3. @Mike — The point of the Kansas comparison was to show how ridiculous it is to compare the population of a huge region (like the East Side) to one much smaller (Seattle). In the analogy, East Side=Kansas; Chicago=Seattle. This is an analogy, not a comparison.

        In other words, you have to look at density, not total population. At least, when it comes to transit. There is some value in looking at total size for things like high speed rail, based upon the assumption that even low density, somewhat distant suburbs (like Woodinville) would attract some riders for a trip from Seattle to Portland.

        Anyway, in terms of cities most like Seattle, that is more challenging. Part of the problem is that Seattle did change significantly over the last decade, which makes a lot of the data outdated. I don’t think things changed that much, though. A map like this (https://arcg.is/1v98q5) will look a lot different, but it will mostly be an enhancement of the general theme. A breakdown of the number of people in each density group (visible on this map, by hovering over a city — http://luminocity3d.org/WorldPopDen/#9/47.3509/-121.2863) has changed, but not dramatically (2K-4K is probably still our biggest group, by a large margin).

        A few things:

        1) Seattle isn’t that big. Cities like Chicago or San Fransisco* just have a lot more people.

        2) We do have density, and most of it is in the city, with almost all the remaining pockets in our inner suburbs (especially on the East Side cities). This makes us different than cities like Phoenix or Salt Lake, in that their population is very spread out. Even San Diego (which does have significant pockets of density) is very much like L. A., in that it has relatively spread out clusters of population, with big gaps in between (https://arcg.is/0eirCu).

        3) At the same time, we aren’t like Boston or Vancouver BC. Vancouver has that same dense inner core, but with way more density. One of the big differences — what really sets Vancouver apart from a city like Boston — is that there aren’t that many people living in the lower density areas. Boston has about 400K living in the 1K-2K range. Seattle has about 800K. Vancouver has about 100K. In both Seattle and Boston, it is our second biggest group. In Vancouver it is fifth. Of course this might be a statistical anomaly — maybe Canada cuts off the limit of their regions more abruptly. But it is also possible that through land use decisions, they don’t encourage the low density sprawl common in the U. S. — you are either part of the city (even in a subdivision) or you are rural (and there just aren’t that many people in rural areas close to a major city).

        Note: It is a bit tricky to see the neighborhood density of a city like Vancouver, since they use a different measuring system. There are some good density maps of the neighborhoods (https://external-preview.redd.it/ckhr-O0sLecsCa1US_qHampwaEAnQjG6QfU6b8uihl0.png?auto=webp&s=0f60b2215c71af338a7881d03bb7c64f11a538a5) and they clearly have a strong center. By that I don’t mean everyone is downtown, but the region within 5-10 miles of the city center has the bulk of the population.

        In general, I would say we are approaching Boston, but aren’t quite there yet. The pattern is relatively similar, even though they are well ahead of us.

        To be clear, I am only talking from an abstract standpoint (neighborhood density). Even then, I’m theorizing, and it is quite possible that we still have nowhere near the continuous, widespread density as Boston, even with the latest boom. We certainly don’t have the architecture. We struggle with the amenities (we build apartments, then forget the corner store). But we are at least making moves towards that, as most of the growth of the last decade has been in urban areas. If we could open up places like Wallingford (let alone the bulk of Magnolia or West Seattle) to even moderate density (townhouses, multi-plexes, houses converted to apartments) then we could (from an abstract standpoint) more or less resemble Boston.

        * The MSA for the Bay Area is not that much bigger than the MSA for the Seattle area. But they drew the (somewhat arbitrary) lines for Seattle’s MSA to be about twice as big as that of San Fransisco’s (https://censusreporter.org/profiles/31000US42660-seattle-tacoma-bellevue-wa-metro-area/, https://censusreporter.org/profiles/31000US42660-seattle-tacoma-bellevue-wa-metro-area/). If they drew the borders in a similar way for the Bay Area, they would include San Jose, and all of Silicon Valley (making it much more populous than greater Seattle).

      4. I’d observe that Boston has 89 square miles to Seattle’s 83, and has less than 700,000 residents with Seattle’s well over that threshold.

        The things that make Boston different?

        1. A long-time citywide rail network. A resident can usually walk to a rail station. Many are surface or aerial outside of Downtown.

        2. A larger proportion of stacked triple unit buildings, and old rowhouses turned into condos. They aren’t 85?feet tall or even 65 feet tall. It’s just that areas that “appear” single family are not. Boston has better accommodated the “missing middle”.

        3. Awful winters. When it’s so frigid and snowy, people hate shoveling and driving.

        4. It’s flatter. There are hills but they are low compared to the ones in Seattle. Steepness reduces a city’s walkability
        To transit.
        Still, it doesn’t feel that much different than Seattle. Seattle is apparently about 25 percent transit mode share and Boston is 32 percent. (https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2021/acs/acs-48.pdf)

        On street parking is difficult in many areas in both places.

      5. I’d observe that Boston has 89 square miles to Seattle’s 83, and has less than 700,000 residents with Seattle’s well over that threshold.

        According to Wikipedia, Boston has 48.34 sq miles of land. Seattle has 83.99 sq miles of land. We don’t have to do the math with the density, either. According to Wikipedia, Seattle has 8,973.18 people per square mile while Boston has 14,327.68. Boston has a lot more density.

        Those are raw numbers, though, and as I’ve explained, they can be deceiving. A city with a huge park, for example, would see smaller numbers. But if you look at the census maps, the density is easy to see.

        Boston: https://arcg.is/P9T8r0
        Seattle: https://arcg.is/1v98q5

        Those numbers are a bit old, but things haven’t changed that much. Boston just has a lot more density. As for your other points, Boston isn’t flat. Bad weather doesn’t make transit or walking more appealing. Way more people take transit in the Boston area than Seattle, because the system better serves the inner core, and the inner core is more responsive to transit. Transit numbers comparing Boston with Seattle:

        MTBA (bus) — 390,000
        MTBA light rail: 137,000
        MBTA subway: 475,000
        MBTA commuter rail: 120,000

        Metro — 400,000
        ST (bus) — 58,000
        Link: 80,000
        Sounder: 20,000

        Not counting commuter rail, Seattle has somewhere around 540,000 transit riders a day. You can throw in all of Community Transit (36,000) and all of Pierce Transit (27,000) and at most you have 600,000. Boston has over a million riders a day.

        If you do count commuter rail, then Boston is just piling on.

        You raise the point about density not being tall, and that is a good one. Boston — like much of the world — became dense without focusing on a handful of places (especially those close to busy streets) and building tall buildings there. Height does not equal density, and Boston is just another example of this. Much of the charm (and the density) of Boston is due to them developing the city before the automobile, and before Euclid v. Ambler. As a growing city, a lot of our transit problems have to do with zoning, and the importance it places on the automobile.

      6. I was trying to discuss the two cities only and not their metro areas. Certainly our metro area is less dense.

        I see now that half of Boston’s “area” is water. That’s a nuance that I missed, and I agree that the land area is much smaller and denser than Seattle’s is.

        Boston also has a number of small surrounding dense cities (unincorporated land doesn’t exist in Massachusetts and city boundaries were defined well over 100 years ago) that are on the MBTA subway network (Cambridge, Newton, Brookline, Quincy, Revere, Milton, Somerville, Malden, Medford soon) whose combined populations approach Boston’s and are quite dense and high walk/ transit mode share areas in their own right. Trying to compare city-only ridership with the two cities is awkward for that reason.

        I disagree that weather isn’t at least a notable factor. Cleaning snow off of one’s car 20 or 30 times a year takes considerable time and effort — and Boston often has temps below 10F in the mornings. Boston area cities are usually stellar about plowing streets — but cleaning off a car is still time consuming regardless. Of course, parking supply and pricing is probably harder in Boston’s core than in Seattle’s — and transit use is a part of the culture.

        If Seattle grew as a city when Boston did, all of the ST3 projects and RapidRides C, D and E would be light rail lines that would have 100 year operating histories — and land uses next to rail lines that predate widespread auto ownership.

        I think Boston is more pleasant to walk in nice weather. The streetfront residential architecture makes it enchanting in a way that our new bland, glass and flat wall architecture doesn’t. I much prefer gables, eaves, corbels, wide stoops/ front stairs over what Seattle builders are creating these days. To that end, new urban building character today seems even more bland than those built just 10 years ago.

        And I have lived two years in the central core of Boston in my past. I write from personal experience. I’m sure me and others can nuance more similarities and differences.

      7. If Seattle grew as a city when Boston did, all of the ST3 projects and RapidRides C, D and E would be light rail lines that would have 100 year operating histories — and land uses next to rail lines that predate widespread auto ownership.

        No, and this gets to my comparison with Boston, and why I brought it up. The only thing we have that is similar to Boston (other than being roughly the same size) is that almost all of the density is close to the center of the city. You can see that by looking at the density maps. The neighborhoods in Boston are more dense; but Seattle, like Boston, has almost all of its density close to the center. This makes it different than a lot of North America cities:

        Salt Lake City: https://arcg.is/1SSKj50
        Phoenix: https://arcg.is/qq9bT
        San Diego: https://arcg.is/Hz1yy0
        Houston: https://arcg.is/11e0nj0
        San Antonio: https://arcg.is/1z4Hz90

        You get the idea. Even cities that have plenty of density (San Diego) or are huge (Houston) lack the centralized density of Seattle, let alone Boston. Even L. A., which has lots of density, is spread out over a vast region (https://arcg.is/0y4K4j0). In all these cases, it is very challenging to provide good transit. In most cases, the best you can do is pour money into buses. In the case of L. A., you have to run the trains really long distances, because that is the only way to connect dense areas. Thus an ST3 style system for L. A. makes sense (and they are building one).

        But we aren’t L. A. It would make more sense to build a system like Boston’s — with its focus on inner city rail — but we chose not to. It is worth pointing out that Boston’s mass transit system — like most mass transit systems in the world — does not extend that far from the center of the city. Draw a circle with a five-mile radius, and you cover almost all of the lines, with only the Braintree split of the red line beyond that. Even that is about 11 miles out of town, and my guess is was created by leveraging the existing commuter rail line (keeping costs low). The same is true for the Green Line light rail. Go out six miles and you encompass the entirety of three out of the four branches. Only the D line extends farther, but it is still around 10 miles from the center of town.

        Much of the system was built a really long time ago, which I think is what you are getting at. But in no way, shape or form does it resemble what we are building with ST3. New extensions — like another branch to the Green Line — are to places within five miles of the city center (e. g. Medford/Tufts as the terminus). They just aren’t interested in building really expensive, very long lines with freeway stations.

        But we are. SeaTac is farther away from downtown than the farthest station in Boston’s system. We go beyond that, and want to just keep going. We are building what some call the most expensive commuter rail system in the world.

        Which brings up something worth mentioning. Since Boston evolved more with the train than the automobile, it has been able to take advantage of old lines to build good commuter rail. But again, these commuter rail lines carry a relatively small number of people. Way more people take the buses and subway. We do have a successful commuter rail line (Sounder South) and everything in the more distant suburbs can easily be served with express buses (which Boston has as well).

        In short, if we grew as a city the way that Boston grew, we wouldn’t have “all of ST3”, because Boston itself has nothing like that. We are building a system as if we are L. A., when in reality we are becoming much more like Boston (from an abstract density standpoint, not an historical or architectural standpoint).

  17. News links:

    Alex Hudson of TCC writes in the Seattle times that transit is not a significant spreader of Covid, and blasts a previous article by Michelle Baruchman that focused on a few people’s fears of transit cooties without mentioning the context that it hasn’t been much of an issue anywhere in the world.

    A study of high-speed rail in Japan suggests that it increases economic growth in cities at the ends but may decrease it in smaller in-between station cities between. It says that Japan’s Shinkashen network was originally intended to encourage economic growth and development outside Tokyo — a mega-city that is arguabaly too large already. After fifty years, Shinkashen has succeeded in doing that in the target end cities, but maybe at the expense of intermediate cities.

      1. Just noticed this myself. It looks like there’s no Mailbox service this year, but in exchange, the Mt. Si bus will be running more often. The Issaquah Alps route will also be running. Definitely looking forward to giving this a try.

        I also wonder if the America Rescue Plan is paying for it.

      2. I also wonder if the America Rescue Plan is paying for it.

        Well, if the choice is work 40hr/wk or get money for nothing I’d rather go hiking. It’s a more complex issue than that for sure. #1 if schools aren’t back 100% in person even with a decent job you’re hard pressed to break even going to work if you have to pay for child care.

        Bottom line, tax payers are paying for it but since it’s just pile on the debt it’s the next generation that really gets the credit statement.

      3. Bernie, the debt is true for the Rescue Plan, but at least Biden wants to pay for most of the infrastructure with tax hikes.

      4. No Mailbox service? That’s nuts. Every time I drive by there, the place is mobbed. Parking is relatively small there, which doesn’t help. There are a ton of people who want to go up there, and a shuttle there (just like the other locations) makes a lot of sense.

    1. https://www.wbur.org/news/2019/05/13/mbta-repair-costs-transit

      “The cost to replace all outdated equipment and infrastructure across the MBTA system with modern alternatives is about $2.8 billion more than the previous state-of-good-repair price estimate, officials said Monday.

      “In 2015, MBTA officials said addressing the entire maintenance backlog would cost about $7.3 billion, and they have cited that figure for years. But an assessment unveiled Monday, using new data about inventory and conditions collected over the past year, put the total modernization and replacement price tag at $10.1 billion.”


      This is a good article comparing MBTA to six other legacy cities.

      Owning an older rail system is not always a good thing, and interestingly a lack of investment in older equipment also results in increased headway, in Boston a 41% increase.

      I worry ST and some of ST’s supporters fail to understand you have to maintain and replace the rail you lay down. 90 miles of spine will not be cheap to maintain and replace. Forcing commuters or riders out of their cars and then not maintaining transit infrastructure and headways is a risk when overextending the original line and not factoring in replacement and maintenance costs, and how to find that revenue.

      1. ST1/2/3 include ongoing money to maintain and replace the Link fleet at its end of life. The New York subway, DC Metro, and BART didn’t do that for decades so now they have an unfunded maintenance backlog so severe that trains are breaking down or catching fire.

      2. Actually, a modern concrete-tie light rail guideway is about as “permanent” a piece of infrastructure one can build, short of a well-engineered dam. The load factors of LRV’s are MUCH smaller than those of freight rail and the ties are going to be embedded in the support structure for most of Link’s entire network. There won’t be much at-grade running with ballast at all.

        So yes, there will need to be fleet maintenance and replacement, but the “97 miles” of guideway will mostly need weed clearing. The tie-down bolts will need to be tightened every five or so years, the cushioners between the rails and ties replaced about every twenty and the rail will probably be ready for renewal on the portion north of IDS in forty. However, since the only parts of the guideway that are “panel track” are the few roadway crossings and the DSTT, replacement throughout most of the system will be pretty easy.

        This is not to diss your warning that maintenance of the guideway must be budgeted and completed; you are absolutely right. It’s just that maintenance will be an order of magnitude less than its construction.

      3. Fwiw…

        The 2019 update to the long range financial plan for ST (2017-2041) had some $5.9B in the SOGR bucket, or about 6% of the $97.9B of total expenditures over the 25-year plan. One can certainly argue over whether this is sufficient or not, but there’s no argument to be made for the assertion that the agency isn’t cognizant of the significance of the need for maintenance of its capital investments.

      4. Any asset other than land has a cost of replacement, though ‘replacement’ might be less that 100% of cost of new construction. The FTA requires cost to replacement for all physical assets to be include in ST’s TAMP (https://www.transit.dot.gov/TAM/TAMPlans). Assets like guideways have very long useful lives (75 years might the modeled assumption?) so the major SOGR outlays to replace guideways won’t be in the 2017-2041 number Tlsgwm highlighted because they won’t have occurred by 2041, but when ST models when the bonds will be paid off (2080-ish), those costs start to appear and are accounted for when projecting final bond payoff.

  18. According to NYT, epidemiologists rank riding a subway or bus as riskier than riding an airplane and eating indoors at a restaurant.

    I can’t help but wonder if there’s some form of classism in their risk assessments – that is, trying to avoid people who belong to socioeconomic groups that have higher infection rates have lower vaccination rates. If so, this is not good.


    1. The article doesn’t state whether the polled epidemiologists had been fully vaccinated. Some of the polling is interesting, like 17% won’t bring in their mail without precautions (not sure if that means a mask or what).

      The poll compares the changes from Dec. 2020 to May something 2021 (unless the poll was done earlier before widespread vaccinations), and although it asks epidemiologists to “Share saying they had done or would have done the following activities if necessary in the last 30 days, compared with answers from December 2020” my gut feeling is the poll is heavily dominated by what epidemiologists (as noted a conservative group) have actually done, because they could do those activities now.

      For example, there has been little change in attending a wedding, but there have been very few weddings. Same with attending a concert or sporting event, or worked in a shared office. I think epidemiologists ranked those low because they haven’t done them, in part because you couldn’t (because they are higher risk if not vaccinated).

      Probably a better metric — at least of risk tolerance — is transit ridership in areas that have lifted all restrictions, although even then many offices have not returned to in person work.

      I am fully vaccinated, and the poll seems consistent with my thinking. I would place riding a bus or transit at the bottom of my list (and it is only 5% lower than riding a plane although I did that pre and post vaccination), but then part of that is there is no need to ride transit right now (at least for me). Traffic congestion is light, so like many I drive.

      The real issue for public transit is most don’t see much enforcement of mask wearing, and haven’t, and the early stories suggested Covid-19 spread in NY subways that then spread to the rest of the U.S. So when offices begin to reopen, and employees have to ride transit again, will they feel safe on a crowded bus, even if vaccinated? Just like the poll, my guess is most see transit as one of the riskiest activities. Whether that is true epidemiologically doesn’t matter; even epidemiologists think transit is highly risky, and they are probably fully vaccinated.

      I agree with asdf2 there is classicism in not just the poll but in how ordinary citizens make the same decisions. Of course wealthier communities like Mercer Island and Sammamish have much higher vaccination rates, at least at this time. Will workers from high vaccination and higher income areas willingly ride a packed bus with those they feel pose a risk, especially if not wearing a mask? We will find out.

      Public transit — maybe out of “equity” — was one of the least stringent on mask enforcement, and one of the issues for some transit riders is the number of riders provides a sense of security. I would have never flown pre-vaccination if airlines and airports did not have 100% mask adherence. There was a recent link on some folks returning to transit, in LA I think, and the riders’ biggest concern was the buses had only “scary” looking riders, not the usual mix of commuters, and non-scary riders.

      The catch-22 is I don’t think you can fully reopen offices without workers feeling totally safe — Covid and personal safety — on transit (although epidemiologists ranked working in a shared office only 3% above riding transit), and it will be a balancing act because offices have to reopen first before the buses and trains fill up again. It could be transit is the biggest hurdle in fully reopening offices, unless workers find an alternative like shared driving and flex schedules. My guess is there will be a lag between offices reopening and workers willing to take transit.

    2. If the concern is unmasked people, a bus (where you might find unmasked people) is clearly safer than a restaurant (where you know you’ll find unmasked people).

      The only counterargument I can think is the (probably greatly exaggerated) classist one that the types of people who ride buses are more likely to be infected in the first place than the types of people who eat at restaurants, particularly restaurants in wealthy neighborhoods.

      There is also the fact that you can compensate for unmasked people around you by wearing a high quality N95 mask, or similar, rather than a cheap cloth or surgical mask. But, only when you have your own mask on, which you can do while riding a bus, but can’t do while eating.

    3. Wait, you are misrepresenting the article. This wasn’t a look at what epidemiologists think is risky, this is merely a look at what epidemiologists have done. There is a risk/reward factor for everything. But the risk/reward for transit, for most of America, is pretty low. Other than New York, you aren’t likely to depend on it for social activities. Folks in Chicago, D. C., or Boston (areas with relatively good transit modal share) have been walking, or riding a bike. Same with San Fransisco, although I could see taking BART to cross the bay. Where is the CDC, anyway? Atlanta (enough said).

      It is easy to drive in America, especially if you have money. A lot of those epidemiologists are just driving (or walking). It is telling that transit isn’t the lowest. Not a lot of religious epidemiologists I guess.

    4. Airplanes replace all the air every three minutes or so. I don’t know how often buses and trains replace the air but it’s probably much less. How often do Metro buses and Link trains replace the air?

      1. So they are saying now. My understanding is the pilot has control over how much air they recirculate vs bringing in outside air. Because of the pressure differential at altitude they “did” try to recirc as much air as possible to be “fuel efficient”. It’s more than just anecdotal evidence that you get sick when you fly and breath germs from everyone else in the aluminum toothpaste tube. Now that they are filling all seats, even if they are refreshing the air it seems like a complimentary disease will be provided with every flight.

        On a bus you can open your window. Plane… not so much, unless you’re DB Cooper.

    5. I doubt MBTA was unaware buses and trains need to be replaced. It is just that it is often easy to tap those maintenance reserves when construction budgets get tight, and the public spotlight on the estimated cost/project return and what is actually delivered is not kind.

      Let it be someone else’s problem in 2041 is the thinking, which is how cities and agencies get into these predicaments, like a Seattle City Council trying to use a $7.2 million/year $20 vehicle tab fee increase to cover a $3.5 billion bridge replacement and maintenance backlog.

      I am sure SDOT — and even the council — knew the bridges were nearing the end of their life expectancies, and that bridges do have life expectancies and tend to fail spectacularly, and the bridges needed a lot of money, but there were other, shinier things to spend the money on, and even today progressives are complaining about spending the $7.2 million/year on the $3.5 billion bridge backlog rather than shinier things. Unfortunately the state auditor showed up, and tried to tell the council (and citizens) unmaintained and old bridges don’t age well, and you can’t stick your head in the sand, at least any longer although many on The Urbanist want to do that still.

      Look at STB. I don’t think I have read one post about future maintenance costs for light rail in the last six months (although there were complaints about the cost to electrify the bus fleet). Sure, posts about a station at 130th, Graham St., increased train headways, greater bus frequency, TOD, but nothing on future maintenance and replacement costs, and yes $5.9 billion through 2041 seems low, even for new trains. What is there for after 2041, or is that cost “deferred” too, or subject to subarea equity which isn’t good for N. King Co.?

      1. The cost of ongoing operations and maintenance and replacement is 1/3 the tax rate of construction capital costs. That’s built into ST’s tax plan. It’s at a high rate for initial construction and paying down bonds, then rolls back to 1/3 that level for permanent operations and maintenance. It’s obscured because we’ve had ST1/2/3 on top of each other, with the excess 2/3 going into later construction phases, and ST1 only ended recently, and ST2 is ongoing until 2024-ish. But that’s what voters approved. Eventually ST3 taxes will be rolled back, assuming there’s no ST4. And maintenance will be built into the budget. It may not be sufficient — we’ll know in twenty years when things get worn out enough to have significant repair and replacement expenses — but the budgeted amount is substantial.

        I don’t know a lot about how MTA/DC/BART’s maintenance backlogs came about, but I imagine it’s a combination of the agencies’ not setting aside money, and their cities and states not allowing them to or not supporting them or raiding them. Maybe in the 1960s and 70s they just ignored future maintenance needs and assumed they’ll deal with it when the time comes. That was an era when transit agencies and assets were getting especially short shrift.

      2. ST’s finance plan is explicitly structured to avoid the mistakes of MTA/DC/BART; as Daniel notes, it’s not lack of awareness but choice to choose other needs (expansion, operations, debt/revenue) over maintenance, and ST’s financial rules are designed to prevent this type of decision making.

        Post-2041, unless superseded by an ST4, ST will first pay down the debt and then reduce the tax rate sufficient to cover both ongoing operations AND state of good repair. Sound Transit is the only major transit agency in NA that doesn’t have unfunded long term maintenance need. It may be the only major transportation body in the US with no unfunded maintenance. STB doesn’t write about this because there’s really nothing to write about. I attended the TRB conferences (looks like you can too: http://www.trb.org/Calendar/Blurbs/178208.aspx ) when I was at ST and in meeting after meeting it was like, “OK, this applies to everyone here except that guy from Seattle.” There is plenty of literature on transportation asset management, which sometimes shows up in the news roundups, but very little new news for Seattle so I think it is appropriate that STB doesn’t provide Sound Transit specific coverage.

        The cities and counties in the region are in a very different boat and have immense unfunded maintenance needs.

      3. Who exactly are these idiotic “progressives” complaining about maintenance expenditure? Name some names, Daniel.

      4. Daniel, the taxes will continue for-ever, or until the bonds are all paid off and the taxpayers of the Sound Transit repeal the tax. The rate is supposed to go down upon final bond redemption.

      5. Daniel called out The Urbanist, who has consistently opposed spending more on car infrastructure when it crowds out spending on multi-modal investments.

      6. “STB doesn’t write about this because there’s really nothing to write about.”
        Yeah, that’s my take on this too, at least as far as ST is concerned. Honestly, I only threw out the info about the $5.9B figure for the SOGR funding in the 25-year plan as a jumping off point. (I think the initial plan actually had $6.3B in this bucket IIRC.) My suggestion would be for Daniel, and any others interested in this topic, to read the relevant sections of the latest (fall 2020) financial plan included with the 2021 budget and TIP. Particularly, I would point people to Appendix D, “Compliance With Asset Management Policy” (pages 60-62), in which the agency discusses the topic of its capital asset maintenance and replacement program and the requisite financial planning involved.

        An excerpt:
        “Section 3.2: The CEO will include in the annual Transit Improvement Plan a State of Good Repair Forecast (SGRF) of the total amount, by year for a rolling 40-year period, required for lifecycle
        maintenance and capital replacement to maintain all agency replaceable assets in a state of good repair.

        “Compliance: Met

        “Years: 2021-2061

        “SOGR Forecast Set Aside in
        Agency Long-Term Financial Plan: $30.7 billion

        “% of SOGR Forecast That is
        Funded: 100%”

        Just curious. How did you find those TRP conferences you formerly attended? I’ve read a bunch of their reports over the years and overall I’d give them pretty high marks. I don’t think that I’m enough of a transit nerd (no offense to anyone) to attend one of their conferences but I’d still like to hear your feedback on them. Thanks.

  19. How many comments will this go to without a new thread? Up and uo every day. Even my boring comments get recycled. This is why they had to eventually end M*A*S*H.

  20. Your reference to the old Seattle Transit system’s “Blue Streak” routes made me reflect a bit about that particular transit model. I tend to remember it as simply an express bus tied to park-and-rides and freeway use type of model but I guess it ultimately went beyond that.

    For those not familiar with these pre-Metro days, the following link gives some background information on the Blue Streak lines:


    This old map from 1970 also shows how the new lines were incorporated into the existing system:


      1. Tlsgwm, No prob; thanks for remembering. “Blue Streak” was a Federally funded “brand” experiment that consisted of neighborhood collectors which entered I-5 at a convenient location and ran the Cherry/Third loop clockwise in the morning and counter-clockwise in the evening. They didn’t layover in downtown Seattle.

        There was the “5 Blue Streak” from Shoreline CC to 85th and across to the freeway. There’s no express on-ramp for 85th so it would exit the freeway at 45th, go down Eighth to 42nd turn right and use the U-District Reversible ramp. In the evening it would exit at 45th, go north on Seventh and enter the main lanes at 45th. In the non-peak direction it would just exit at 45th, make a classic “flyer stop” and re-enter the freeway. It was a great way to get to the U-District from Greenwood or Bitter Lake.

        There were three “7 Blue Streak” lines — Wedgewood, Lake City, and 15th Ave NE corresponding to the later 71, 72, and 73. They all came down the Ave, used Campus Way then Eleventh then 42nd path to get to the 42nd Street reversible ramp. Northbound they went on 42nd to Roosevelt, right to the left turn onto Campus Parkway and then the reverse. There was an “8 Blue Streak” as well serving 55th and Sand Point Way to NOAA. The “41 Blue Streak”, was the flagship of the brand because it was essentially a Park’N’Ride express with a tiny tail up to 125th and Fifth NE. The Northgate TC didn’t exist then; the Blue Streak served the Northgate Park’N’Ride and got on the express lanes at 103rd.

        The routes that used 42nd all looped up to 45th in the non-peak direction and used the main lane ramps. After 7 PM and on weekends the 7 Blue Streaks were just “7 Lake City”, “7 15th Ave NE”, and “7 Wedgewood” and ran on Eastlake. Once the trolleys expansion was completed the numbers were changed to the 70 series and the 8 quit going downtown at all. The 5 Blue Streak became the 355.

        The Federal funding ceased after two or three years, but the buses were so popular that Metro continued running them on its own dime.

      2. In the evening it would exit at 45th42nd…

        Also, in the morning the 7 and 8 Blue Streak lines exited at 45th onto Seventh, turned right and then immediately turned right onto Eighth down to 42nd, turned left and continued on the standard route. Since the southbound 5 Blue Streaks were using Eighth to get to 42nd to go downtown and the four northbound U-District routes where using Eighth to get to 42nd in order to get to Campus Parkway, Eighth was a noisy mess, with a bus every four or five minutes on what had been a reasonably quiet residential street — at least, as quiet as a street two short blocks from an eleven lane freeway can be. That was about the only thing that the public didn’t like about them.

        They were VERY popular as can be shown by the continuation of the 70’s expresses until U-Link opened.

      3. Tom, thanks for providing all of that interesting detail on the individual lines. As a NYC transplant, my only knowledge about these “experimental” bus lines is from what I’ve read previously, but this is the first I’ve seen such granular detail about the individual routes.

        Question: the old (1970) Seattle Transit System route map that I linked to in my earlier comment shows one of these lines using what appears to be Ravenna to access the freeway. Which route would this have been?

      4. Tlsgwm, there was a 16 Blue Streak that started at 145th IIRC, but I didn’t think that it started with the original six routes. Apparently it did. It used the “slip ramp” at about 58th for northbound afternoon buses to exit the reversible lanes and use the southbound on-ramp to descend to Ravenna. IIRC the ramp was closed to southbound traffic at that time.

        Something like that anyway.

        Thank you for the reminder.

      5. Oh, I now remember. It was “7 View Ridge”, not “7 Wedgewood” for the predecessor to the 71. When I wrote that it didn’t sound correct, but I couldn’t remember the proper name and figured it MUST be the name of the neighborhood. I did not know about the Roosevelt route; it must have been canceled before I moved to Seattle in 1975.

        Also, it looks like I was wrong about the 41. It went all the way to Lake City Way it does now and even Sand Point for some runs.

        It looks like the 7 15th NE used the Lake City Way ramp to the reversible lanes like the recent 77 when the map was made. But by the time I came to Seattle it was running through the U-District like the 7 View Ridge and 7 Lake City. Perhaps that blue line on Ravenna was the access of the 22 Blue Streak to the same ramp that the 16 used. Again, I don’t recall that it ran by 1975.

        Also, since this was Seattle Transit, apparently the 5 started at 145th with that big Broadview loop; one of the very first things Metro did was to extend it to Shoreline CC and push the 28 up to 145th, so by the time I got to the city that’s where its terminal was.

        That map is cool and shows how much progress has been made in the 50 years since then. Notice that the 12 uses the “non-revenue” wire on Ninth Avenue between Spring/Seneca and James. Neither the climb up James nor the Madison/Marion couplet had wire at that time. If one wanted to go from Third and Cherry to Harborview one climbed the hill or took the hourly 27 and walked from Eighth and Yesler.

    1. The only all-day routes between downtown and Northgate in the early 80s I knew of were the 16, 305, and 307, and only the 307 went on I-5. It looks like the old 41 was peak only, which is useless for those who don’t work 9-5 downtown. I used to collect all Metro schedules when I was in junior high and high school, and gradually rode most of the all-day routes. I don’t see how I could have missed one like the 41, especially when I was trying to get to Northgate and was frustrated by the choices. The current 41 is closest to the 307.

      1. I can’t speak to what the situation was in the early 80s as I didn’t move across country until the late 80s. I lived most of the 90s in Wallingford and from there I would use the 16 to get to Northgate to go shopping every so often. I think it ran like every 20 min back then (?) but it took like 30-40 min to get there from Wallingford. I only took the 41/307 from downtown to Northgate a handful of times back then but I remember it being super quick getting up there from DT. Anyway, here’s a link to the schedule/map for the 41/307 from the year 2000 which is probably pretty similar to what it was during the 90s.


      2. There was a lot less service in the 80s. The 16 was half-hourly. The 305 and were hourly, and alternated for half-hourly service between Northgate and downtown, although the 307 on I-5 was much faster than the 305 on Roosevelt-Eastlake. Most routes stopped at the Northgate “transit center” in front of Macy’s inside the mall parking lot. The 16 went to a completely different stop on the north side of the mall, at a bus stop that looked like a wooden Indian longboat. I think the longboat is still there but it hasn’t been used as a bus stop or anything else for decades.

        The 16 in the 80s was probably the same routing as you had in the 90s: like the 3/4 to Seattle Center East, then like the 5 to Bridge Way, like the 62 to 65th, like the 26 to 95th, then up Meridian to the college and east on Northgate Way to its terminus.

        In the early 90s I sometimes took the 16 express from Ravenna Blvd & I-5 to my office north of the college. Coming back I could walk to the Bon and take the 305 to 55th & Roosevelt, or take the 16 to 85th & Wallingford and transfer to the 48 to 55th & 15th.

Comments are closed.