108 Replies to “News roundup: do better”

  1. Be nice if we could track these new Siemens trains in service to Sound Transit… some of us really want to photograph and ride ’em!

  2. From the West Seattle Blog piece on the ST Executive Committee discussion of the agency’s ST3 realignment process:

    “Keel said not responding to the current gap predictions by creating an “affordable plan” via realignment would make ST look financially irresponsible.”

    Mr Keel, that shipped sailed a long time ago.

    1. Oops. Correction: “…that ship sailed a long time ago.”

      On second thought, perhaps I should’ve written “that train left the station a long time ago.”

      1. Yeah, I feel like they really need to propose some cheaper plans. This pretend the financial gap doesn’t exist plan isn’t pretty irresponsible. I am not sure why we are even considering the tunneled approaches for West Seattle/ Ballard when Sound Transit cannot even afford the elevated approaches right now.

        Wish the at-grade or elevated through downtown Seattle options were feasible but sadly those only allow for 2-cars. I’m just really not sure if it makes sense to spend the ~5 billion dollars on just going from seattle to smith cove.

  3. I was actually going to mention that I saw the new trains in service around 11PM on Saturday at Seatac, but I forgot until just now.

    In other news, I finally got it in me to massively advance the crayon I’m doing for Los Angeles. I got the Red Car system to it’s final state, and I’m now sketching the Yellow Car system out. My next step is going to be throwing together a map of the Yellow Car system from the 1920’s, and then plotting out it’s development in the same way I did for the Red Car.

    For those that are completely lost what I’m talking about, I’ve been in the process of developing allohistorical Rapid Transit system for Los Angeles, based on historical plan from the mid-1920’s (But involving a Point of Divergence before there). This plan turns the Pacific Electric Interurban system (The Red Car) into a Rapid Transit system on par with other megacities. Unlike others who’ve done Los Angeles Rapid Transit crayons, I’m taking into account the Los Angeles Railway (Yellow Car), Los Angeles’s streetcar system from the first half on the century. I’m planning for it to undergo a similar transformation that many other Streetcar networks in Megacities did (Turning into Subways), but taking into account the circumstances of Los Angeles, and the quirks of this timeline.

  4. I encourage people to post comments about the KDM station survey linked in the article.

    I expanded my comments to include the need to define the station area character better. Our stations are bland enough — and the commercial districts we enjoy the most have character like landmarks, timeless building design and indoor/outdoor seating for food and drink. With the college nearby, this station is one of the best opportunities for financially sustainable food and retail businesses in a pedestrian setting next to a South King Link station.

    1. Ah, another four acres of staging area acquired through eminent domain soon to be passed along for TOD.

      Please refresh my memory on this station. What is the pedestrian access to the college from the station?

      1. Basically the building of a new intersection and road into Highline College on Hwy 99 and S 236th Pl which is where the campus housing and Teriyaki and Sushi Restaurant sit. They considered a pedestrian bridge at one point to connect the Station and campus in the initial planning but scrapped it for cost reasons by both parties (College and ST).

      2. In a $3 billion project to get to Federal Way, five million for a nice pedestrian bridge to tie the little island between SR99 and I-5 to the college would have been smart. Penny-wise, pound foolish.

      3. I don’t know if KDM will have a mezzanine or not. If not, it would be better to raise the road a little bit for a level pedestrian underpass at ground level.

        I guess they could build a level above the platforms and have a high walkway that ties in both the parking garage and the campus

        A stand-alone bridge is not very functional. Up dow up or down up down would be stupid.

      4. I’m not really clear on what happened between this (which is mostly about I5 vs 99):
        https://seattletransitblog.com/2015/09/24/highline-students-and-staff-rally-for-direct-link-access/

        and this, where the station straddles 246th (it can be done!) but :
        https://seattletransitblog.com/2017/08/30/federal-way-link-conceptual-design-feedback/

        It’s hard to tell, but looks like the station is a center platform design which means no mezzanine; this matches Federal Way’s station design (easier to tell here: http://bit.ly/FederalWayTC). They could add a ped bridge, but without the mezzanine it would need to access the station at an endpoint, not the center.

      5. It seems like a pedestrian bridge or mezzanine would be overkill. Check out the image of the station area (from the Link AJ provided): https://stb-wp.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/29183244/chrome_2017-08-29_18-31-10.png. It seems pretty simple. Get off the train, walk on 236th (a brand new section of street). Press the button to cross SR 99. Cross the street, then walk across the parking lot to the school. A bridge would save you that one intersection (SR 99). That would be nice, but it doesn’t seem essential.

        Ideally the station would be between SR 99 and the college, but that’s not going to happen.

        the station straddles 246th (it can be done!)

        Ha, yeah. It really looks ideal for bus to train transfers there. Unfortunately, not too many buses will do that. It is pretty much only the buses that terminate there (like a 156). Maybe the 165 will detour to it, although that isn’t necessarily a good thing. The A certainly won’t.

        In contrast, the bus (or buses) that connect to the 130th station will be far more frequent. They managed to make a great bus connection where it isn’t that important, and screw up the bus connection where it is. Oh well.

      6. All, thanks for passing along the info. Much appreciated.

        “They managed to make a great bus connection where it isn’t that important, and screw up the bus connection where it is.”

        Yeah, that’s kind of my takeaway here too. IIRC, I think there were three options studied for the KDM station alignment. The outcome here seems less than ideal frankly, as I think it would make more sense to have the station on the west side of Pacific Hwy S. The ROW taking would seem to be a wash. Perhaps ST didn’t want to cross the highway, particularly if the OMF-S was going to be located at the Midway Landfill site. Anyway, it sounds like Link riders heading to the campus will need to rely upon a beg button to get to campus.

      7. I think they just need to make sure the light cycle is set to ensure frequent and easy east-west pedestrian crossing of 99 at 246th and everything will be fine. That will be a dense neighborhood with 200′ buildings and wide sidewalks; there shouldn’t be a need for a beg button.

        The entrance on both sides of 246th will help even if buses aren’t on 246th itself because I’d imagine for the RR-A northbound and southbound buses will stop on opposite sides of 246th? So entrances on both sides of 246th mean 1/2 of the bus riders don’t have an extra street crossing, like they do at 130th (for example).

      8. @AJ
        Understood. Let’s hope that happens for the intersection involved here. (You said 246th but obviously meant 236th.) Thanks again for the reply.

        And yeah, straddling the street doesn’t appear to be an issue here for ST planners (cough, NE 130th Station, cough).

      9. Yes, 236th, thanks.

        And there will be some routes that terminate at KDM station, and those will find that station design useful. For example, a Burien-Des Moines-KDM seems like a solid local route. It’s perhaps only the A itself that won’t deviate to serve the station? Most other routes will be east-west or will be deviating to intercept with the station.

      10. Confirmed on Metro Connections: in 2025 and 2040, every route in the area other than the A will terminate at the station and will therefore have an excellent bus-rail transfer environment. I’m skeptical it’s worth it to build a ped bridge just so southbound A riders can avoid a street crossing.

      11. I think it would make more sense to have the station on the west side of Pacific Hwy S.

        Yeah, exactly. Close to the college, and close to the buses that run on the highway.

        I think they just need to make sure the light cycle is set to ensure frequent and easy east-west pedestrian crossing of 99 at 246th and everything will be fine. That will be a dense neighborhood with 200′ buildings and wide sidewalks; there shouldn’t be a need for a beg button.

        There is nothing wrong with beg buttons, as long as they are set right. Basically it involves two parts:

        1) Every time there is a green light, there is a walk signal (with adequate time to cross the street). Some signals allow the light to be green without a walk signal. This means that you if you arrive too late, you have to wait for a complete cycle (or “jaywalk” by jogging across the street on the green light). That wouldn’t make sense here, as it is mostly pedestrians.

        2) The beg button should be responsive. There are crossings I’ve encountered where you push the beg button, and almost immediately there is a walk signal. That is what you want here.

        The entrance on both sides of 246th will help even if buses aren’t on 246th itself because I’d imagine for the RR-A northbound and southbound buses will stop on opposite sides of 246th. So entrances on both sides of 246th mean 1/2 of the bus riders don’t have an extra street crossing, like they do at 130th (for example).

        Good point. That is what the pictures show. I guess I figured that 236th would be a very quiet street, since it is a dead end. Other than a bus, I don’t see why anyone would go down that street. Oh wait, that is where they put the parking garage. So if you do need to cross the street, it may require waiting for signal, as opposed to just crossing at a crosswalk (although they don’t show that). So yeah, there is some value in having it straddle the street, although not as much as if the station was on the west side of SR 99, or if the 130th station straddled 130th.

  5. Here is my summary of some of the linked articles:

    1. Homeless is about housing has a pay wall so I couldn’t read it. Not like there haven’t been a zillion articles on this subject, most of them completely oblivious to the distinction between affordable housing ( 30%, 50% and 80% AMI) and emergency housing (0% AMI), and why the 30% and 50% AMI folks don’t want to live with the 0% AMI folks because guess what: homelessness isn’t just about housing. “Urbanism” isn’t going to solve homelessness, although unsafe streets is the biggest threat to Urbanism.

    2. Minneapolis eliminates parking requirements is just a set of ranting tweets about a city that is literally falling apart.

    3. PSRC hosts meeting on equity in [transit] planning. News flash: allocate transit based on color and politics and not ridership per mile, except when it comes to subarea equity.

    4. ST still arguing about realignment. Or, how about ST’s new budget deficit estimates for ST 3 are 1/2 of actual deficits, not including second tunnel cost overruns four subareas won’t agree to share, and realignment means running surface trains through downtown Seattle and/or buses to West Seattle and Ballard so Link never accesses SLU which looks like a zoning error now, after the city finds $3.5 billion to fix its bridges, unless we really do go to a gondola system. What is there to argue over?

    5. Jarrett Walker’s take on why commuter rail should but doesn’t do better:

    “Since then, as a bus network planner, I’ve encountered the same problem in many other cities. There’s just no way to integrate commuter rail with a local bus network, because good bus networks involve regular patterns of frequency that are not what US commuter rail does. At best you have to provide dedicated shuttles that meet the trains, and that’s a form of duplication that leads to worse access for everyone.”

    Or, Sound Transit’s 90 mile line with inadequate feeder bus service while park and rides are being eliminated in non-dense (and non-“equitable”) parts of the spine. ST has flipped the paradigm: fairly frequent rail with infrequent feeder bus service.

    6. PSRC seeking public comment on seven transit projects

    Everett Transit is recommended to receive $101,489 in PSRC funding to provide American Disability Act (ADA) enhancements at Everett Station.

    Kitsap Transit is recommended to receive $3,337,348 to refurbish a new fast ferry vessel prior to it entering into service.

    The King County Metro recommendation is for five projects to receive:

    $6,240,000 for HVAC replacements at the agency’s Bus Base Building;

    $2,658,576 to develop and build charging infrastructure to support operations of its battery electric buses;

    $10,340,751 for Link integration projects;

    $20,432,415 for vehicle and facilities maintenance; and

    $1,000,000 for wash equipment replacement at its Atlantic Base.

    Not exactly exciting transit projects, but necessary, and a good example of how much we spend on transit.

    7. SDOT’s got new mobility survey results.

    This survey attempted to reach out to BIPOC and disadvantaged communities to include them in the survey results. Not surprisingly, these communities distinguish between toys and mobility:

    The survey’s goals were:

    “The goals of the New Mobility Study were to understand: ”

    “Who uses new mobility options and how, when, where, why, and how often they use them?”

    “What are the barriers to using these options and where is there room for improvement?”

    “What are user and non-user attitudes towards these options and how they compare to alternatives?”

    “How are behaviors and attitudes changing over time?”

    The findings were:

    “New mobility provides options for people to get around. The majority of survey respondents have used new mobility options, but don’t use them as their primary modes of transportation. This tells us that new mobility isn’t the only option for most, but that it helps provide choices and fill in the gaps.”

    “Ride hail, like Uber and Lyft, is the most well-known and frequently used new mobility option, especially in the evenings (7-10pm), but many people prefer to drive themselves or find it too expensive.”

    “People use bike share to go have fun, for exercise, to get home, or to connect to transit. Those who don’t use bike share prefer to drive or don’t feel safe on bikes.”

    “People use car share for fun or social purposes, but many people prefer to drive their own car or don’t want to get a membership to a car share company.”

    “When asked, “if you couldn’t drive alone, which modes of transportation would you take?”, the majority of people selected public transportation (not a new mobility mode, but fun fact!)”

    So what does this tell us?

    It tells us we still have not figured out first/last mile access. Funding cuts to Metro, CT and PT won’t help when they must feed 90 miles of spine. Link won’t serve SLU or First Hill. Huge areas in east King Co. added at least one seat to their commute, depending on whether Link ends where they want to go.

    So what has Seattle done? Increased the cost of Uber/Lyft, built bike lanes no one uses, made it too expensive for those except the wealthy to drive and park in urban areas even though they clearly own cars and prefer driving them, and built 90 miles of rail spine in basically rural areas no one can afford to provide first/last mile access to, unless it is park and rides.

    To be honest, it is a pretty depressing line up of articles. I guess NE 43rd St. looks pretty, if it works.

    1. 2. Minneapolis eliminates parking requirements is just a set of ranting tweets about a city that is literally falling apart.

      So you dismiss the topic solely because you have misguided opinions about the City the topic is about? Your worldview beyond the shores of Mercer Island is a strange one.

      So what has Seattle done?
      …built bike lanes no one uses

      If you’re going to make biased and false statements about a City you clearly never visit and openly despise, I’d recommend not making them on a blog where everyone is going to immediately know your statement is false. Bike lanes are well used here.

      …and built 90 miles of rail spine in basically rural areas.

      Didn’t realize Seattle has (1) built any portion of the rail spine or (2) has “basically rural areas”.

      Maybe stick to your arguments that poor people should not be able to use your future light rail station?

      1. RapidRider, you should know by now I work in downtown Seattle five days/week, and have for 30 years. You must know this by now. Why would you write “[I]f you’re going to make biased and false statements about a City you clearly never visit…” After all, where do you live?

        In 2018 pre-pandemic 2.8% of non-recreational trips were by bike.
        https://www.seattletimes.com/subscribe/signup-offers/?pw=redirect&subsource=paywall&return=https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/data/seattle-bike-commuting-hits-10-year-low-census-data-show/ This was simply confirmed in SDOT’s survey results.

        Seattle has many rural areas in which density is low, and it will be difficult to provide adequate feeder bus service, and running rail to these areas was a questionable expense to some of us (including Redmond and Issaquah, two cities I am sure you hate). Do you even read any of the other posts on STB on this issue. Do you understand the concept of first/last mile access?

        Did you even read the article on SDOT’s survey results. I even quoted the findings in my post. Your argument is with SDOT, and the Seattle residents who responded to the survey, many of whom were BIPOC or from disadvantaged neighborhoods. The issue was first/last mile access. Did you understand that? SDOT wasn’t asking me because it knows my first/last mile access: car, maybe Uber/Lyft. The survey was to try and figure out how those without a lot of money want to get somewhere.

        You can eliminate parking, naively thinking it will create some kind of Urbanist utopia when everyone abandons their cars, but in a city with 460,000 cars what you will create is more profit for developers, and streets clogged with cars, like today. There will always be parking available for those who can afford it. Wake up, man. Did you even read SDOT’s survey? What was the number one choice for trips? Driving their own car. Just because you can’t afford a car doesn’t mean no one else should own one, or doesn’t want to own one.

        You are so filled with rage at your situation in life, and so unwilling to read and consider the facts from the articles I simply repeated in my post, it is impossible to have a rational conversation with you about transit.

        Providing shitty transit, or mobility, especially to the poor, shouldn’t be your goal in life. Do you really think making Uber/Lyft more expensive, or eliminating parking in Minneapolis, or adding transfers to the commutes of the working class, is going to stick it to the wealthy. What kind of stupid world are you living in?

        Providing mobility to the wealthy is pretty fricking easy. Mostly it is by German cars. Don’t worry about the wealthy, because I can assure you they don’t give a shit about your situation in life. Providing true mobility to the non-wealthy, and the poor and working class, and not shitty mobility but something that tries to approach the mobility the wealthy enjoy, is very, very difficult, which is why it is so heavily subsidized, but you just don’t get that.

      2. Gods know why you keep working there, since you seem to consider coming to Seattle akin to traversing the 5th circle of Hell to arrive at the City of Dis.

      3. In 2018 pre-pandemic 2.8% of non-recreational trips were by bike.

        The survey was released in 2018 for 2017 results. 2017 was also notably a very wet season and definitely a statistical fluke. 2018 bounced back to follow the previous upward trends. 2019 had approximately 17,000 primary bike commuters, which is nothing to scoff at. That number is much higher during the nicer weather, but the survey only asks about primary commute mode. I can tell you from personal experience that bicycle facilities are used throughout the year.

        https://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2020/10/01/in-final-census-survey-of-the-before-times-number-of-seattle-bike-commuters-hit-an-all-time-high/

        Cherry picking data is a terrible way to make an argument. Using your argument, I could point at traffic levels throughout 2020 and claim that we don’t need roads because nobody was driving.

        You can eliminate parking, naively thinking it will create some kind of Urbanist utopia when everyone abandons their cars, but in a city with 460,000 cars what you will create is more profit for developers, and streets clogged with cars, like today.

        If you don’t like the traffic, you can use the “bike lanes no one uses”!

        Did you even read SDOT’s survey? What was the number one choice for trips? Driving their own car.

        Yeah because for almost 100 years, the Puget Sound region has built out our transportation system to favor the most unsustainable mode of transportation possible: SOVs. Only within the past 10-15 years have we attempted to undo that and we still have a long way to go.

        Seattle has many rural areas in which density is low, and it will be difficult to provide adequate feeder bus service, and running rail to these areas was a questionable expense to some of us (including Redmond and Issaquah, two cities I am sure you hate). Do you even read any of the other posts on STB on this issue. Do you understand the concept of first/last mile access?

        You made the claim that Seattle “built 90 miles of rail spine in basically rural areas no one can afford to provide first/last mile access to, unless it is park and rides”. It’s unclear whether you made that claim in error or you have no idea what you’re talking about.

        RapidRider, you should know by now I work in downtown Seattle five days/week, and have for 30 years.

        Yeah, and I know you work near one of the worst parts of the entire city and and then extrapolate that small part of the city out to the entire city.

        You are so filled with rage…
        Providing shitty transit…
        What kind of stupid world are you living in?
        …they don’t give a shit about your situation in life

        🤔🤔🤔

    2. You yammer on and on and on about “inadequate feeder bus service” several years before CT will be getting 40% of its bus hours “back” by not running express buses through the morass that is I-5 between Northgate and Lynnwood, southbound in the afternoon to downtown Seattle and through the congestion in the CBD.

      Do you believe that they’re going to cut the PTBA tax rate in half? Do you think that the bus hours Metro spent idling on Stewart and Fourth South pre-pandemic are similarly going to be refunded with lower sales taxes?

      You have no understanding of what rail conversion allows transit systems to accomplish. Why do you think that the “feeder buses” — e.g. the local service routes — throughout northeast Seattle largely went from thirty-minute to fifteen-minute headways when U-Link opened?

      Hint: it’s because they no longer went to downtown Seattle, and the same thing will happen throughout Snohomish County and East King County when Lynnwood and East Link open.

      Will they see the same sort of all-day ridership increases that Northeast Seattle did pre-pandemic? Maybe not; you are right that true suburbia with its endless culs-de-sac and strip developments is hard to serve efficiently. If people have to walk long circuitous routes to a bus stop, they won’t use buses for “choice” trips.

      But if anything that will allow the commuting collector-distributors to run more frequently.

      1. It’s called a commercial lease, Ness. Expires next year.

        Our building, The Smith Tower, is offering many incentives to reup, because the building is empty (mostly due to the Pioneer Square neighborhood and not the pandemic) but I think it is time to downsize and enjoy life a bit without the huge monthly nut.

        I will leave it up to young Seattleites like you to make the changes you think are needed, or not needed, in Seattle. If NY was able to resurrect itself in the 1990’s (and many New Yorkers claimed back then those demanding changes were accusing NY of being the fifth circle of hell, because it was) then so can Seattle.

        Obviously a Seattle blog on transit is going to heavily favor one political view, but if there is one issue I don’t think some on this blog (and everyone on The Urbanist) really understand it is really big money (especially other people’s money).

        For example, when I see progressives and the council debating how to spend a $7.2 million/year car tab fee that if bonded will provide $75 million over ten years when Seattle has an unfunded $3.5 billion bridge replacement and maintenance need — and the W. Seattle Bridge is closed — I just have to laugh and shake my head.

        Same with ST 3 in N. King Co. I thought it was dumb to spend all the money to run light rail to the Snohomish Co. border and S. King Co. and leave nothing left over for West Seattle and Ballard, but when I see ST talking about “realignment” when you know the budget deficit for N. King Co. is probably close to $20 billion including the second tunnel, and Seattle Subway is talking about digging tunnels everywhere, again all I can do is laugh at such foolishness.

        Then when I see Metro reallocating transit due to “equity” rather than ridership, and electrifying the fleet when it desperately needs the funding to provide first/last mile access for light rail, I laugh and shake my head.

        Oh well, not my problems. I will have a light rail station I can walk to from my house that some now want to run to Ballard to avoid a second transit tunnel. Ok.

      2. You might be right TT, but I doubt it. The key isn’t just the frequency of the feeder bus: it is the combined trip time, and how that compares to pre-truncation one seat bus rides. Transfers by definition add trip time, and are frustrating to anyone having to be someplace by a time certain. So bus/rail trips need to take less time than one seat buses before or the whole experiment was a waste.

        Northgate will be a good test, although it looks like some one seat express buses will continue to run directly to Seattle despite your claim feeder buses and total trip time with transfer will be less (or even tolerable) after Link opens. Probably some trips ( if one can walk to the Link station) will improve during peak congestion commutes if Link goes where the rider needs to go (see, SLU/First Hill), some will stay the same or get slightly worse with a transfer especially during off-peak times, and some will really get worse hence the express buses during peak commutes.

        “But if anything that will allow the commuting collector-distributors to run more frequently”.

        If your theory were correct Metro and ST wouldn’t be running one seat express buses from areas near Northgate after Link opens, would they?

        I think it is unhelpful to criticize housing choices citizens made decades before Link, or blame these “ex-urban” Seattle residents for lack of first/last mile access because of the zoning of the neighborhood, especially since if they own a SFH or car they are paying for your transit. Some folks have children, and don’t want to or can’t live in an urban shoebox or TOD next to I-5, or are more concerned about the school system. That doesn’t mean they deserve crummy transit they paid disproportionately for. You can’t run 90 miles of rail and then tell citizens first/last mile access isn’t your problem.

        Look, I am one who has argued against running light rail to these less dense areas. I would have stopped at Northgate, or maybe a station at 145th for those coming from the north and Lynnwood, which would solve the congestion issue for them getting to downtown Seattle although peak express buses access the HOV lanes. Taking a feeder bus to catch a train to go from Lynnwood to Everett seems like a bad use of funding to me.

        You don’t have to worry about “true suburbia” however, which I assume you mean the eastside. Ridership on East Link will be anemic, there are huge park and rides, especially during non-peak hours, and areas south of East Link where Issaquah and Sammamish are will get express buses too, certainly for SLU or First Hill. They love their cul-de-sacs more than transit, and a cul-de-sac is a very nice and safe land use feature to raise kids in. If you have kids they come before transit.

      3. You don’t understand that the sales tax revenue is the same whether or not expresses are run through congestion or are truncated at the nearest convenient Link station. The revenues are not affected except by some potential vote.

        So the same pot of money can be squandered sitting in traffic jams on Fourth South, Stewart, I-5 north of Northgate (and the whole distance in the off-peak direction) and through Bellevue, OR, they can run much more frequently between neighborhoods and satellite park-n-rides so that the time spent transferring is more than recouped by avoiding those literal “list mile” traffic jams in sight of the destination.

        And that is not to mention that the transfer improves reliability, because the buses run in areas where traffic jams are less common and the train bypasses — whizzes by — the places where the buses get bogged down. If this were not true the whole rest of the world outside Mercedes Island would just run buses.

    3. For point 4, I agree with you. Sound Transit has bit way more than it can chew with trying to build a tunnel and two elevated bridges. The cost is way more than it’s expected revenues. Either one of the West Seattle or Ballard is getting cut, or we’re gonna have to do an at-grade approach through downtown.

      Regarding point 5. You are slightly misunderstanding Walker’s comments. He means the commuter rail doesn’t work because they lack frequency and that frequent feeder busses only used in the morning and night don’t work well either. His comment means to increase commuter rail frequency (if the density can justify it aka Caltrain) or stop spending money on it (if it’s not that dense aka Music City Star). Maybe it can be fixed with automated slow shuttles around suburbs so we don’t need giant parking lots?

      Lastly, for first/last mile approach (I’m guessing you mean commuter pattern) honestly commuter busses are usually better as they can spread out. The train is more efficient if you have 4-5 story apartments next to the stations. Traditional transit isn’t really meant for car sprawling suburbs. Though it is what the suburbs* demanded, the spinneee so I guess give them what they want.

      *Except Kirkland, they actually wanted BRT which could use their CRC much better but Sound Transit forced light rail on them.

      1. I don’t think #5 applies to Sounder. Walker is arguing that agencies that own their ROW, like Caltrain, need to dramatically boost their frequency because it is a low cost way to significantly boost ridership; this is the train version of Walker’s “just run buses more” argument.

        The same argument applies to several major lines in Chicago, Boston, and NYC. For Sounder, however, ST doesn’t own the ROW and the cost to add expand span of service to all-day are comparable to building a new line. Whether we should pay for all day Sounder is a decision more comparable to if we should build Link extension.

      2. With the 90 mile comment I believe Daniel is talking about link light rail not the sounder commuter rail? Though not sure

      3. The article is about commuter rail in general, not just those where the agency owns the tracks. Passenger mobility needs and urban circulation needs don’t change depending on who owns the tracks: they’re permanent geometry issues as Jarrett would say. The word “commuter” comes from riding on a commutation ticket — a multi-trip discount ticket, like a 10-pack or monthly pass. People ride often enough to justify purchasing the ticket, but that doesn’t mean all their trips are only peak hours. If the train runs off-peak they’ll use it for shift work, shopping, business meetings, going to the opera, going to church, etc.

      4. Passenger mobility needs and urban circulation needs don’t change depending on who owns the tracks.

        No, but the cost does. My guess is the costs reverse themselves. If you own the tracks, then the cost becomes cheaper and cheaper (as it does with buses). You have the same number of vehicles, might as well put them to use. You avoid the problem of hiring drivers a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening. The cost, per trip, gets lower. https://humantransit.org/2017/08/basics-the-high-cost-of-peak-only-transit.html

        But if you don’t own the tracks, it is the opposite. These are tracks used by the railroad. Running passenger trains a couple hours in the morning, and a couple hours in the evening is no big deal. But 16 hours a day? That can totally screw up freight. Thus each run becomes more expensive. At the same time, you get less per run, because while Walker has a point, this is still (typically) the type of transit that doesn’t get that many riders in the middle of the day.

        Look at page 75 of this document: https://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/documents/2020-service-implementation-plan.pdf. Midday and reverse peak ridership doesn’t just go down — it drops off a cliff. Now look at page 81. It is easy to pick out the peak ridership period for Link. But like most subway systems in the world (even our hybrid commuter rail one) there is still plenty riders in the middle of the day. The noon train carries about 400 riders a day — not dramatically different than the peakiest of the peak trains, which carries 700. The train runs less often then, but this cuts both ways. If you are on Capitol Hill and know the train isn’t running often, then the combination of buses to get you downtown is a better bet.

        No matter how you look at it, it is clear that Sounder demand is very peak oriented, and Link isn’t. This is to be expected. This is how it works in most parts of the world. Long trips from the suburbs tend to be taken either to get to work, or for special occasions. Folks in the urban core, on the other hand, use transit for everything. More people ride the extremely slow Muni buses than the extremely fast (but long distance) BART trains. BART is more peak oriented than most subway systems, and is especially peak oriented outside the San Fransisco/Oakland/Berkeley core that accounts for about half the ridership. The Muni buses are not.

        It is a matter of degrees. What Walker is complaining about — and I think he has a very good point — is that for very large cities, we’ve focused transit on two sets of riders: Either the poor schmuck who can’t afford a car, or the suburban commuter who needs to get to work by nine.

        But lets not kid ourselves. In many cities, this is way down the list of problems. You could run the commuter rail frequently, and it still wouldn’t get many riders, and what’s more, it wouldn’t address the big reason many of those riders don’t take transit into the city. A lot of folks from the suburbs are not headed downtown, but to some other part of the city that is poorly served with existing transit. Because not every city has a great subway system, or even a good (albeit slow) bus system. Most American cities have an infrequent, and not especially fast system in the middle of the day. Even if they had a more frequent rail connection into town, few would use it.

      5. The fact that BNSF owns the tracks is a very big problem for all-day Sounder service, but it’s not the only problem. A second problem is that the Sound Transit trainsets are so huge. If it were possible to run a bus-sized Sounder train during the midday, I’m sure there would be enough midday demand to fill most of the seats (the combined ridership of the 578 and 594 could easily do it). But, of course, there isn’t nearly enough midday demand to fill a vehicle the size of a Sounder train.

      6. I think the long train sets + infrequent trains challenge is also a function of BNSF ownership and the ST rights to access the tracks. That’s because the access is defined and limited by the number trains and not the number of passenger carriages or riders.

      7. Ross is right, this is a discussion about costs not needs. But I think Ross still misses Walker’s point – that for any decent commuter line (and South Sounder was one of those), the super peak orient ridership is a function of operations, not a revealed preference. Sounder doesn’t serve just parking lots and SF homes – Kent, Auburn, Sumner, and Puyallup are all real cities with excellent station location, and Tacoma and Seattle clearly are sources of all-day demand with reasonable transfers; running Sounder all day would clearly produce new ridership that won’t appear otherwise.

        Will it still be highly peak oriented? Sure, and so I disagree with Al’s comment: the frequency is a direct function of BNSF ownership and the resulting high capital cost of additional frequency, but the long train sets are not due to BNSF but a function of demand – those trains are full during peak! The primary reason ST3 is looking to boost frequency during peak is to address capacity issues, because at a certain point it is cheaper to buy the additional easement than to make longer & longer trains & stations. The draft plan is to go to 10-car trains and then go to 15 minute peak frequency; at 15-minutes, ST still plans to run 10-car trains.

      8. Sounder doesn’t serve just parking lots and SF homes – Kent, Auburn, Sumner, and Puyallup are all real cities with excellent station location, and Tacoma and Seattle clearly are sources of all-day demand with reasonable transfers; running Sounder all day would clearly produce new ridership that won’t appear otherwise.

        Yeah, but you could say that about anywhere. Why run the train every half hour if it only carries 50 riders per trip? Even if you own the line, running a train is very expensive. If you don’t, it is extremely expensive. For the same amount of money you could run the 27 every 10 minutes, along with all day service for Alki, and a frequent all-day bus from South Lake Union to Mount Baker Station (via Boren). The latter would carry way more riders.

        Yes, our commuter rail system is underfunded, and has a lot more potential. But so is our bus system! We know buses like the 7 and E are *not* peak oriented, with lots of riders in the middle of the day (the 7 actually has more ridership per hour in the middle of the day than during rush hour). Why not run the buses every 5 minutes in the middle of the day? We know that would lead to a huge increase in ridership. Heck, the 44 only runs every 12 minutes, and the 40 only runs every 15. In both cases you have routes that we know carry lots of riders in the middle of the day, which means they would respond really well to a frequency increase.

        Our system is way too peak oriented, even in areas that we know have good ridership in the middle of the day. The commuter rail is only a very small part of the problem.

    4. “homelessness isn’t just about housing”

      Yes it is. The homeless rate goes up and down with the cost of housing. It went up in the pandemic when people lost their jobs. Only some 3% of homeless people refuse housing when it’s offered. Most homeless aren’t visible; they try to remain out of the public eye. I assume that’s what the article is about.

      You’re partly right about 0%, 30%, and 50% AMI (and you forgot 80%): they require different approaches. Homelessness, displacement, and cost-burdening are all symptoms of the same problem: an inadequate number of housing units at all price points. There’s not one real-estate market; there are several overlapping ones. Well-off people can slum it in a low-quality apartment if they want to, but working-class and low-income people *cannot* afford a median apartment or any kind of condo/house, so to them it’s like the higher-end units don’t even exist. the media and government keep focusing on parts of this problem and ignoring the rest. What the government *should* do is announce a plan to build or help finance an adequate number of units at all price points. That means 11,000 units for the homeless and 140,000 units for the 30-80% AMI and those displaced from the cities/districts they want to live in. Instead — even in a declared housing emergency — the cities pat themselves on the back for fifty units here, a hundred units there, a thousand units per year, while tens of thousands of people each year become more cost-burdened or homeless. it could start with the years-long waiting list for Seattle Housing Authority housing.

      “Minneapolis eliminates parking requirements is just a set of ranting tweets about a city that is literally falling apart.”

      I don’t have firsthand knowledge of Minneapolis but if it’s like Seattle it’s not “falling apart”. I live right in between the two centerpoints of BLM protests and boarded-up windows and the marchers go right past my corner, but must people and businesses around here are doing fine. No bomb has hit it, essential services are still running, you can still buy most of the usual things in the usual shops, many people are still working or getting covid unemployment, and the risk of muggings is still low. The media reports on the five people who were affected by street violence but not the 719,995 people who weren’t.

      “There’s just no way to integrate commuter rail with a local bus network, because good bus networks involve regular patterns of frequency that are not what US commuter rail does… Or, Sound Transit’s 90 mile line with inadequate feeder bus service while park and rides are being eliminated in non-dense (and non-“equitable”) parts of the spine. ST has flipped the paradigm: fairly frequent rail with infrequent feeder bus service.”

      Those are completely different things. Jarrett is talking about commuter rail that runs peak-only or once an hour. If a regular bus route detours to the station, 95% of the time there will be no train there. This is exactly what happens to the F at Tukwila Sounder station. Metro detoured the F there to avoid running a dedicated shuttle route (to the Boeing factory, to Boeing and other offices in southwest Renton, and from residential areas). The upshot is that it takes a long time to get from Southcenter to Renton because of a large detour to the station when there’s no train there most of the time.

      Link is to run every 10-15 minutes at worst. Most stations have a 15-minute bus route to the surrounding areas, at least daytime. And more hopefully will after future Link restructures and we get out of this sales-tax recession. So from South Bellevue station there will probably be a frequent north-south route to Bellevue Way and Factoria, even if it’s not the full RapidRide K that was planned. The cases you bring up — the 554 and 111 — are not in the nearby station areas and affect only a small fraction of passengers. Mercer Island is a unique issue. So for the most part there will be frequent Link+bus transfers. Not the hourly-or-less bus routes you’re scaremongering about.

      1. Mike, what I tried to say is, as Ross has noted before, our light rail system is really a hybrid at 90 miles in length, part commuter part subway, and that our system inverts the issue Walker was discussing: fairly adequate light rail (although very long distances) but not frequent feeder bus service. Plus the cost of running rail 90 miles has depleted running rail to areas like West Seattle and Ballard which make more sense to me than Angle Lake.

        When you start throwing around 11,000 emergency housing units (0 AMI) and 140,000 affordable housing units it brings up my point that I don’t think some on this blog understand really big money.

        Just the proposed amendment to Seattle’s Charter would require dedicating 12% of Seattle’s entire general fund to this issue based on optimistic per unit costs, but will build closer to 2000 units according to the amendment. Unless publicly subsidized, the units you mention would be market rate, well beyond 30% or 50% AMI. There simply is not the money for 150,000 subsidized units, unless ST 3 is reallocated to housing. Where is the public money for this huge amount of housing, with lumber at all time highs? The reality is a zero AMI person is many times more expensive to house than a 30% AMI person who is more expensive than a 50% AMI person, and in the end you have to choose.

        I didn’t raise 80% AMI because those citizens generally can be housed in affordable housing set asides in new, expensive buildings. Developers begin to object to mixing 50% and 30% AMI with their non-subsidized purchasers/tenants.

        The issues with Seattle are mostly economic. Of course you can buy staples in Seattle, and the neighborhoods remain attractive. But the tax revenue is generated downtown, and without the tax revenue to fund Seattle’s very expensive progressive agenda there is no progressive agenda. Sales taxes, REET taxes, B&O taxes, tourist based taxes, are the key, and boarded up windows are not a good sign. There are no boarded up windows in downtown Bellevue I have seen. Or anywhere on the eastside.

        Still, before you get to expensive housing programs and fancy rail systems Seattle has a $3.5 billion bridge backlog with most bridges 60 years old or more. Explain how Seattle will pay for that, which even over 30 years is at least $100 million/year. Despite this being a transit blog no one ever discusses how to fund the bridge replacement and repair.

      2. It’s a city and county’s responsibility to ensure there’s enough housing for its residents. The problem is housing hasn’t kept up for nineteen years. It may take twenty years to build enough housing, but the city doesn’t even have a plan for that. It doesn’t even have a commission to study and produce such a plan. We shouldn’t have gotten into this mess in the first place. If Seattle had allowed enough housing since 2003, the prices wouldn’t have risen and we wouldn’t be in this situation, like Dallas. But now that we’re in it we have to do something about it, and not just let Seattle become a playground for the rich and nobody else.

      3. Aside on the F:

        I’ve taken it a few times. They could make it quite a bit better if all they wanted was the Tukwila Sounder station, but that detour also serves a big Kaiser office building and a Boeing complex.

        It’s an effect of having everything sprawled all over with no easy transit routing, and nothing near anything else.

        The Fred Meyer headquarters here in Portland is a similar peak only office, but it’s located in a busy mixed industrial and residential area that already needs frequent transit. That area of Tukwila has nothing like that near it. Nobody goes to any of those locations in Tukwila except for commuting.

        It definitely needs a restructure, but just realize it’s not only about Sounder/Amtrak.

    5. As always Daniel, your anti-homeless hit piece is devoid of logic. In particular today is your casual dismissal of the disabled. SSDI pays out well under 30% AMI (just under 12%), so 0% AMI housing is the only alternative they have. SHA and KCHA are both underfunded and horribly mismanaged, compounding the issue.

      “…and why the 30% and 50% AMI folks don’t want to live with the 0% AMI folks…”

      Do they? Can you provide any actual evidence of this?

      1. A Joy, I think you mean SSI, not SSDI which pays out what a person would receive at age 65-66 if not disabled. SSI is supplemental income insurance, quite low, based on poverty. I agree that many SSI recipients are 0 AMI and would need basically 100% subsidized housing.

        Emergency housing (0% AMI) just has many different issues than affordable housing. King Co.’s experiment in moving 220 untreated homeless individuals to a Renton hotel highlights the issues that causes. You just don’t see a lot of projects that mix emergency housing for the homeless with long term affordable 30% and 50% AMI housing.

        There is a current split between east and west King Co. The west now believes housing must precede treatment for those living on the streets. East King Co. believes that is not affordable, and the migration through the shelter system is to determine those who can be rehabilitated, their retained earning capacity if any, and where to place them.

        So east King Co. opts for affordable housing projects through ARCH for those who successfully migrate through the shelter/enhanced shelter system with the hope they contribute to their housing costs, while King Co. and Seattle focus on emergency housing in distressed hotels. I am not sure which approach is correct, or which is actually affordable, except the issue is much more acute in Seattle.

        If Seattle wants to dedicate 12% of its general fund virtually forever to the Charter Amendment to build 2000 units initially (although the estimated cost is low compared to historical costs to build a unit of affordable housing for each AMI group, and unfortunately Seattle has a very large population of zero AMI citizens to house) then Seattle residents should vote for the amendment. Or come up with some other way to pay for the needed housing.

      2. The charter amendment is grossly inadequate and hamstrings the city into a formula written by non-professionals. Fixing the problem and passing the amendment are not necessarily the same thing. The amendment may be a step toward a comprehensive solution, but I hesitate to tie the city’s hands like that, and the housing it creates would just be a drop in the bucket compared to the need. The fact that the amendment is even being proposed shows how much the city has neglected its responsibility for decades.

      3. I’ve had it with the assumption that the poorer someone is, the worse they will behave. I’ve also had it with the assumption that the homeless are mostly “mentally ill” and “chemically dependent”.

        For context: yes, I am considered “mentally ill” by society, and yes, I’ve been homeless for a major part of my past, about 8 years off and on between the ages of 21 and 39, including significant time in Seattle. (I am 54 now and Cinco de Mayo was my 15th anniversary of being continuously “homeful”, and I live in Minneapolis now.)

        My current income is about 24% AMI, it was lower before my father died. PTSD from child abuse and a mental “health” system which did more harm than good has held me down. For a time in the late 1990s, I had a really bad anger problem and used to yell, scream, and flip innocent people off in public but have since calmed down a lot. The only “annoyance” I cause nowadays is not keeping clean, but people don’t notice unless they come in my place or sit close to me on those rare occasions when I go out in public. I don’t do drugs and rarely drink alcohol.

        Not all “mental illness” manifests the same way. A manic person acts very different from one who is depressed. Same with drugs and alcohol: Pot smokers are usually calm, meth users are typically volatile. Booze is interesting as different people react differently: there are happy drunks and angry drunks. When I drink, which isn’t often, I am a sleepy drunk.

        Screening by observation would do more good than stereotyping by label. Of course that’s probably too much work and/or money for the relevant agencies to expend….

      4. @ Daniel Thompson: Whether a disabled person gets SSI or SSDI depends on two factors, how long they worked before becoming disabled, and how old they were when the disability occurred and they first applied. Generally, if someone worked over 10 years, they get SSDI. If they were under age 22 at the time of first application, their parents’ work history is used instead of their own.

    6. I grew up in Minneapolis (the city proper), most of my family still lives there, and I go back frequently. It is not “literally falling apart”. It’s not even figuratively falling apart. It’s actually pretty nice.

      1. With the recent changes to the Charter Amendment I agree with Mike it is not a good approach. But the argument that upzoning or eliminating SFH zoning will magically produce affordable housing is not realistic, even in 20 years. To provide 50%, 30% and especially 0% AMI housing (construction and maintenance for life) requires public subsidies, the amount of which depends on the AMI.

        There are 4500 homeless in Dallas as well https://www.keranews.org/health-science-tech/2019-03-14/homelessness-continues-to-rise-in-dallas-and-collin-counties, and the reason the number is not higher is terrible summer heat and unfriendly policies. Seattle is the 18th largest city in the U.S. but has has 3rd largest homeless population, so policy has something to do with it.

        The Charter Amendment proposed to build 2000 units at first, and dedicate 12% of Seattle’s general fund each year to emergency and affordable housing. Over the last several years the region has spent about $1 billion/year in state, county, local and federal funding on this issue.

        To meet Mike’s goal of 11,000 emergency housing units and 140,000 affordable housing units, would require over 50% of Seattle’s entire general fund each year, or reallocation of all of ST 3, and that still might not be enough.

        Whether fair or not, the other cities in King Co. see homelessness and emergency housing as a Seattle issue, although the eastside has built close to 4500 affordable units under ARCH. Many of the citizens in south King Co. barely have the money to house themselves, let alone provide subsidized housing to someone on the street.

        The reality is Seattle citizens have prioritized other issues, like waterfront parks, Move Seattle, ST, Metro levies, $100 million for communities of color, stadiums, Seattle Subway, water taxis, and so on. The pandemic has exacerbated the visual of tents on streets and in parks due to reduced shelter capacity, but I am afraid that new visual is the benchmark going forward.

        There is no point discussing the solution unless someone comes up with a better use of the current funding, or identifies a TON of new tax revenue — probably from Seattle specific taxes — to make a dent in the homeless, while not attracting everyone else in the country to move to Seattle for a free home. Self-virtue is not a viable plan. At the same time the cost of building and the cost of Seattle housing is rising faster than than revenues (not unlike ST 3), so every year fewer and fewer subsidized units can be built for the same revenue.

      2. Daniel Thompson – I think you’re letting your dislike of urbanists get in the way of your reasoning.

        You say that Dallas’ lower homeless population is the product of hot weather and unfriendly policies. This strikes me as glib and far-fetched, but let us say you are right for the purposes of argument. We won’t have Dallas’ heat anytime soon, but I suppose we could be more unfriendly to homeless people – perhaps that will solve our problem?

        Apparently not, because you also tell us that Seattle can only solving it’s homelessness problem by spending lots of money on subsidized housing. And Seattle will not do that, you tell us, because Seattle spends all its money on transit, parks, stadiums, and brown people. Therefore, we are stuck.

        But does Dallas spend lots more money on subsidized housing? It seems unlikely. So… is it really all about heat and unfriendliness? That also seems unlikely.

        Perhaps it has something to do with housing prices? let us check in on housing prices in the two metros.

        In the last five years, the median listing price in DFW has increased from $360k to $380k. https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MEDLISPRI19100

        Meanwhile, in the Sea-Tac-Bel MSA, the median listing price has increased from $440k to $680k. https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MEDLISPRI42660

        Well now. That is quite a difference. Is there a way to reduce the median price of housing? perhaps we could build more market rate housing. Is that what Dallas has done? Again – let’s check the numbers.

        The DFW MSA, population 6.4M, has been building nearly 5K private units a year since 2016. https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MEDLISPRI19100

        The Seattle MSA, population 4M, has been builiding just about 2K private units a year since 2016. https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/SEAT653BPPRIVSA#0

        So, Dallas is building quite a bit more than us (both in absolute numbers and per capita), and their housing costs are lower, and they are rising more slowly. Isn’t this a more plausible explanation for their lower rates of homelessness than heat and uncongeniality?

      3. Tom:
        “one’s community falls below that required to rent in that location, one needs to face the music and move to a place where the one’s value added is sufficient to support oneself.”

        So the disabled should not live in the city? People who for whatever reason cannot add to the value of a place should do what? You say Daniel sounds like he’s proposing a “final solution”, yet you support some arbitrary standard of worthiness to exist in a community that many will never be able to meet regardless of the location.

        “The residents of these important cities need to recognize that TAANSTAAFL applies and pay higher taxes and more for hospitality to support those who make life there possible.”

        When LaGuardia first used the phrase, it was in reference to calling out graft and corruption within the city government. What exactly are you trying to say here?

        “However, there is a group of people who — often through a seeming “fault of their own”: addiction, mental health problems, laziness — have to be supported by the public. For the good of society, “broken windows” standards should be applied to them, and they should be supported in small, supervised group living facilities scattered throughout the state to which they are drawn. The “broken windows” standard should include repetitive roadside or sidewalk begging.

        They cannot be allowed to destroy the creative power of the cities to which they are attracted.

        Once entered into a program of such support such a person would be legally banned from informal “camping” and could be returned to the group home without further judicial action should she or he be found in an informal camping situation.

        Does this “criminalize being poor” as many people charge?”

        No. It does however push the statistically false narrative that most chronic homeless are drug addicts and/or mentally ill. It also promotes a long disproven method of policing (“broken window” policing does not lead to a reduction in more violent/severe offenses) that disproportionately targets the lower class/income brackets.

        “All this would not be cheap, but the economic vitality of the Seattle and Portland CBD’s are the driving forces of the Washington and Oregon economies. They can’t be allowed to shrivel because people are too shortsighted and cheap to address a serious behavioral healthcare problem.”

        Sure, except there is no behavioral healthcare problem, much less a serious one. The CBD is being impacted by a housing shortage and a shelter system that places untenable limits on its clients (in terms of daily limits, bunkmate shuffling, no pet requirements, separating people from their support network, and limits on how much they can own). That’s what needs to be addressed, not the illusory boogeyman of drugs and mental illness.

        “There needs to be a humane but enforced means by which long-term homelessness is addressed, including therapy and medical support.

        This is not “criminalizing poverty”. It is being proactive addressing more forms of limited ability, including anti-social habits which can be changed.”

        You repeat the same tired mantra here in another post as well. You could spend a billion dollars each on mental health and addiction services for the homeless and it wouldn’t make a dent in the numbers. It is a solution in search of a problem. It is proactively addressing a problem that fundamentally does not in reality exist. More 0% AMI housing and rational reforms to our broken shelter system will reap much better rewards than any attempt at changing antisocial habits ever will.

    7. Daniel, in point #1 it surely reads as if you’re skating toward “the final solution”.

      I am functionally rather unsympathetic to homeowners who assume that their long incumbency in a certain place should give them control of the ways in which that place can change. The power of cities to collect and amplify humanity’s creativity shouldn’t be sacrificed to sentimental NIMBY’s who demand low taxes in order to stay in a home that a younger family could occupy.

      And I believe that if one’s EVA to one’s community falls below that required to rent in that location, one needs to face the music and move to a place where the one’s value added is sufficient to support oneself. At thee same time, high cost cities should have the right to set minimum wages as high as that required for the workforce in essential services and hospitality to live in the city, but there is an economic limit to how high such wages can rise, so the Single Family Home mafia has to be beaten more widely than it has been in order for more low cost housing to be built in more places.

      The residents of these important cities need to recognize that TAANSTAAFL applies and pay higher taxes and more for hospitality to support those who make life there possible.

      However, there is a group of people who — often through a seeming “fault of their own”: addiction, mental health problems, laziness — have to be supported by the public. For the good of society, “broken windows” standards should be applied to them, and they should be supported in small, supervised group living facilities scattered throughout the state to which they are drawn. The “broken windows” standard should include repetitive roadside or sidewalk begging.

      They cannot be allowed to destroy the creative power of the cities to which they are attracted.

      Once entered into a program of such support such a person would be legally banned from informal “camping” and could be returned to the group home without further judicial action should she or he be found in an informal camping situation.

      Does this “criminalize being poor” as many people charge? No. It recognizes that though the State Hospital system was far too often cruel and inhumane, complete abandonment was inadequate to address the problems that some of the former patients faced and still do. No matter where they might try to find work, most of the long-term homeless men will not succeed in holding a job. They’ll scream at a customer, swear at the boss or go on a bender.

      I recognize that some people prefer to live out of doors, at least in the warmer months, and there are few job openings for “trapper” or “explorer” in the modern world.

      So it is not out of the question to convert a couple of less-used State Parks into facilities in which residents of the group home system can spend some time in nature still under some professional guidance.

      All this would not be cheap, but the economic vitality of the Seattle and Portland CBD’s are the driving forces of the Washington and Oregon economies. They can’t be allowed to shrivel because people are too shortsighted and cheap to address a serious behavioral healthcare problem.

    8. Pretty clear evidence about the relationship between homelessness and housing costs: https://dupagehomeless.org/research-demonstrates-connection-between-housing-affordability-homelessness/. The article even specifically mentions Seattle, as one of the “pricey coastal markets”. It also explains how you end up with more homeless people (which seems pretty obvious, but lots of people just don’t get it).

      The outlier the article mentions is Houston, which has a lower than expected homeless rate. This is one of the few American success stories. It is explained well in this article: https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2019/1118/Houston-we-have-a-solution-How-the-city-curbed-homelessness. In short, Houston was able to improve coordination between agencies, and take a “housing first” strategy — “essentially getting homeless individuals and families permanent housing first, then helping them find stability by addressing whatever other issues they might have”.

      Seattle should adopt more liberal zoning restrictions (to lower market rate pricing) while following Houston’s lead in terms of a governmental response.

  6. Seattle is extending sidewalk-dining permits through May 2022, and there are a few calls to make it permanent. Some here object to sidewalk dining across the board, as a giveaway to private companies. I disagree because sidewalk dining is a good thing: it makes the streets more lively like in Paris. But there may be places where the sidewalks are too narrow to comfortably accommodate both pedestrians and a row of tables. If so, where are these? This would be good information for next year if the city proposes a longer-term expansion.

    I’m most familiar with Pike-Pine, and the sidewalk at Summit & Pine is clearly too narrow for the volume of pedestrians. People often have to wait for people to pass in the opposite direction, or walk in the planter or curb. There are also expanded outdoor-dining installations. But they’re not in the same place; the expanded dining is not where the sidewalk is narrowest. On Pike Street, the Six Arms tables make the sidewalk too narrow, but this predates the covid expansion.

    So I’m not seeing any conflicts now with the expansions. There could be if pedestrian traffic gets higher, but I’m not sure whether there will be conflicts.

    Still, it’s worth telling the city if there are particular restaurants somewhere that are taking up so much sidewalk space it’s hindering pedestrians.

    The cost of the permits is another issue. Currently they’re free as a pandemic mitigation. That makes sense, because these businesses are part of the community and have been especially hard hit. But longer term there should be some cost for taking public sidewalk space for a private for-profit use. I don’t know what it should be, but it should be low enough that it doesn’t discourage a Paris-like street scene, but high enough that businesses aren’t taking already-limited pedestrian space for free.

    1. It’s my understanding that the legislative extending the free permit to next year includes a mandate to study what an appropriate fee schedule would be for SDOT to review and issues permits for permanent street cafes.

      I would like to see, included in that, some way to work towards complete pedestrianization of streets that have significant street-cafe presence (like, say, Ballard Ave?)

      If the people want it, and businesses want it, why not give it to them?

      1. Not “complete”. Restaurants and other businesses need curb access for deliveries. But from say 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM (later on weekends) seems right.

        Bollards which rise up from the pavement for exclusion zones are in wide use in Europe.

    2. It didn’t take a genius to realize once they started allowing “cafe” seating at Westlake Park, the sidewalks were the next target.

      I have no interest in seeing Seattle become more like Paris. Businesses that can’t seat their own customers inside their own property have no business being in business.

  7. I disagree A Joy. Street vibrancy is critical to a vibrant city, both from a sense of safety, and a sense of vibrancy. I think all eastside cities are extending outdoor dining and the WSLCB has relaxed alcohol permitting. One of the keys to the success of the Pike Place Market is merging indoors and outdoors.

    I don’t think I have ever heard anyone state “I have no interest in seeing Seattle become more like Paris”, or for any city. Have you been to Paris? What is it about Paris you dislike?

    1. I think I’d agree with Joy only insofar as if there is a street cafe, there needs to be space of pedestrians to walk by without walking through the cafe seating. There needs to sufficient space for foot traffic in addition to all the outside space set aside for semi-private activity; we don’t want people having weave their bike between tables.

    2. Street vibrancy is an ephemeral subjective measure. I fail to see how permitting more private businesses to use the public square for their own personal profit can be characterized as “vibrant”. Crass capitalist, sure. But not vibrant.

      It isn’t so much a dislike for Paris (although I’d point to lenient smoking laws and open air cafes as thing I wouldn’t want to emulate) as it is a like for Seattle. I like Seattle as it is now. It isn’t perfect. It needs more housing, could use some improvements to make a larger, denser core, and is making paved parks as opposed to keeping green spaces green. But when I visit so called “world class cities” or larger cities across the world, I thank anything that cares to listen that I was born and raised right here.

      We can learn from other cities, mostly in what not to do ourselves. But Seattle is far and above one of the best cities on the planet, even with our issues.

      1. Paris’ mansard roofs and wrought iron features are a delight. Sidewalk cafes in front of bland buildings that look duller than shipping containers (Seattle’s current dominant new architecture) are not enticing.

      2. I’ll take parks like Ravenna and Carkeek, or even Myrtle Edwards, over ironwork and fancy roofs any day of the week. Nature is vibrant. Uniform architecture of any kind is not.

      3. It’s the people in the cafes that make it enticing. Humans are social creatures; they like to see other people in a space. That’s what makes it lively.

      4. I’m not sure how that works. Do people walking down the street just stop and hold conversations with strangers sitting at a cafe? Humans are social creatures, sure. But that’s normally with regards to human interaction. Just seeing some random person eating doesn’t satisfy the social leanings of humanity, be it a baguette or a bagel.

      5. I’ll take parks like Ravenna and Carkeek, or even Myrtle Edwards, over ironwork and fancy roofs any day of the week.

        Yes, and I’ll take the meadows of Dishpan Gap, or the big trees of the Suiattle over Ravenna or Carkeek Park any day of the week as well. But that’s not what we are discussing. We are discussing the urban environment. Yes, this includes parks (which Paris has, bien sûr). But we are discussing the bulk of the physical environment. The streets, paths, shops and buildings (which are not uniform by the way) that make up the city. But all of that, for all its charms, would feel soulless without … people. It is the people of Paris, and how they interact with the physical environment that makes it a lively, attractive city. This is what people mean when they call a city “vibrant”.

        You may not be attracted to it. It may not be your cup of tea. But lots of people like that sort of thing, which is why they are attracted to cities. Not just cities, of course, but small towns. When travel writers praise a small town in New England, or a fun neighborhood in Toronto, this is the type of thing they are talking about. No, its not like walking on Ptarmigan Ridge, but it is still fun, and you can grab a bite to eat or something to drink without having to lug it in your backpack.

      6. “It is the people of Paris, and how they interact with the physical environment that makes it a lively, attractive city.”

        This is a rather bizarre concept, and one I doubt the science supports. You seem to be claiming that vibrancy comes from the ability to ‘people watch’ as it were. That the mere existence of people out and about on the streets makes a city attractive. By that logic, homeless people living in tents would make a neighborhood fun. And while I stand against homeless sweeps, I feel that people having no option save living on the streets is a mark against Seattle’s vibrancy, not one for.

      7. “That the mere existence of people out and about on the streets makes a city attractive. ” Yep, that’s what the science supports.

      8. “Homeless sweeps” that just move people to another campsite are futile. There needs to be a humane but enforced means by which long-term homelessness is addressed, including therapy and medical support.

        This is not “criminalizing poverty”. It is being proactive addressing more forms of limited ability, including anti-social habits which can be changed.

      9. “It is the people of Paris, and how they interact with the physical environment that makes it a lively, attractive city.”

        This is a rather bizarre concept

        Maybe to some.

        You seem to be claiming that vibrancy comes from the ability to ‘people watch’ as it were. That the mere existence of people out and about on the streets makes a city attractive.

        Yes, although again, it is the combination of people and physical environment. Neighborhoods in Paris, Montreal, or New York, for example. Neighborhoods you want to a part of — to wake up in a city that never sleeps. Streetscapes so pretty that people write songs about the neighborhood (and future presidents name their kids after the song) — “streets are paved with passersby … the sun poured in like butterscotch And stuck to all my senses”. (Holy smoke, that’s some good lyrics, Joni.)

        By that logic, homeless people living in tents would make a neighborhood fun.

        There is a difference between people who are living comfortably, and those that are suffering. No one wants to be around people who are suffering. People want to be around people who are enjoying themselves. Not everyone, of course. Some people don’t like parties, festivals, parades, clubs, and other events (both spontaneous and planned). They don’t like the nightlife (or its daytime equivalent). C’est la vie.

      10. RossB:

        “Yes, although again, it is the combination of people and physical environment.”

        Again? This is the first time you’ve brought these two concepts together.

        “Neighborhoods you want to a part of — to wake up in a city that never sleeps. Streetscapes so pretty that people write songs about the neighborhood (and future presidents name their kids after the song) — “streets are paved with passersby … the sun poured in like butterscotch And stuck to all my senses”. (Holy smoke, that’s some good lyrics, Joni.)”

        Yeah, I’ve been to those streetscapes, specifically in London. The lyrics that best fit them come from Malvina Reynolds’ “Little Boxes”. Much like that NYC picture you linked a while back. Identical, soulless, dead buildings and streets with a occasional poor root bound ornamental tree. Yuck.

        “There is a difference between people who are living comfortably, and those that are suffering. No one wants to be around people who are suffering. People want to be around people who are enjoying themselves. Not everyone, of course. Some people don’t like parties, festivals, parades, clubs, and other events (both spontaneous and planned). They don’t like the nightlife (or its daytime equivalent). C’est la vie.”

        Now you’re just backtracking and projecting. This is what you wrote:

        “But all of that, for all its charms, would feel soulless without … people. It is the people of Paris, and how they interact with the physical environment that makes it a lively, attractive city. This is what people mean when they call a city “vibrant”.”

        Note that nowhere in there is there any mention of separating people by comfort or suffering. Just warm bodies on the street. You’re moving the goalposts because you got caught in the absurdity of your argument. How do you know whether or not the people in a Parisienne cafe are comfortable? Did you take a poll, or find the data from someone who did? Or are you assuming that just because they’re not living on the streets they must be comfortable?

        And your not so subtle jab at me is hilarious. I frequent The Merc, and take the last Night Owl south while gothed to the nines. Having walked through Capitol Hill in the middle of the night. I love Seattle’s nightlife, clubs, and parades. I’m a volunteer for one of Seattle’s annual parades, and have been for years. But those are regular events that are in their proper venue, planned in advance, and are for/benefit the people and the community. Cafe seating does not fit the majority of those descriptions.

      11. People from all over the world visit France and Italy for their inviting streets and piazzas, and say that seeing people dining and sitting around talking is one of the highlights of the experience.

        Having tents on sidewalks and parks is abnormal. It means our housing policies are screwed up and people are falling through the cracks.

      12. Mike Orr, I highly doubt that people when asked say they visit France and Italy for the streets. They’ll point out seeing the sights, but that is viewing architecture, not transportation infrastructure. The cafes I’ll give you, but I’ll also posit is more about the cuisine and less about on street dining. Still, there’s some ambiance to dining while surrounded by all that architecture, in the few places that have such a grand view. But in short, having visited grand cities in Europe and knowing others who have as well, I find your assertion to be somewhat hard to believe.

      13. “Neighborhoods in Paris, Montreal, or New York, for example….”

        This whole “vibrancy” discussion is rather odd. I’m not sure whether commenter A Joy is trolling or not, but his/her perspective, which he/she is certainly entitled to of course, seems to be the outlier. To each his own.

        Anyway, the comment I quoted above brought a smile to this fellow commenter’s face as it mentioned three of my favorite cities in the world: NYC, my original hometown; Paris, a wonderful city I have visited several times and still feel like I have only scratched the surface; and Montreal, a lively city (with some million more people than Seattle) that I frequently escaped to when I lived in NY.

        Again, to each his own. Some may see this short list of cities and simply respond, “Ça ne casse pas trois pattes à un canard”, as the French would say. That’s their prerogative of course, but to say that these places lack “vibrancy” seems like a strange assertion to make.

        Finally, throwing in the Joni Mitchell reference was the perfect finishing touch. She is a lyrical master! Well done.

  8. Just wondering is someone writing up an actual ‘realignment’ options for Sound Transit article? (rather than just hoping some money falls from the sky) They really overpromised too many tunnels/elevated bridges with the money they actually had and it seems the board members are currently a bit afraid to actually suggest anything. It’d be interesting to see what real options Sound Transit has — better than waiting till the last second and pulling a California HSR maneuver.

    I don’t think Sound Transit can drastically change it back into the other options here https://seattletransitblog.com/2015/12/04/sound-transit-presents-st3-options/ but perhaps some serious consideration into having just 3 car stations or doing an elevated approach through downtown. Either that or cutting either one of Ballard or West Seattle out (we can call it delay for 15 years if that sounds better, but its effectively the same thing) Or heavily modifying it to be an at-grade once there.

    Anyways some serious discussions should be had, it’s clear that there is insufficient money and hoping/praying for more like that CA HSR did is not a winning strategy. There’s still more than enough money to reach many desired places, but some hard decisions on removing tunnels and lower capacity need to be made.

    1. My understanding is that there is no time limit when it comes to the taxes for Sound Transit. Thus they can build everything in the package, eventually. The only question is when. Modifying the projects could save the money, and allow them to build it sooner, but my guess is they won’t make any huge changes.

      For example, I doubt they will skip Paine Field on the way up to downtown Everett. The original plan was to finish Everett Link in 2036. They might be able to get to Ash Way by then. The full Everett Link could be completed around 2040, maybe 2050.

      The modifications will likely be with stations. For example, even before the financial problems, they moved the “preferred” Ballard station from 15th to 14th. This is a clear degradation, but could easily happen. Same thing in West Seattle. It wouldn’t surprise me if the “West Seattle Junction Station” ends up being quite a ways from the junction.

      Some of the projects have already started, and are thus going to be built more or less on time. I believe this includes extending link to downtown Redmond and Federal Way.

      So there really are two arguments going on. What modifications (good or bad) should happen with the plan, and when will each project (or sub-project) be built. Personally, I would do the following (as different stages):

      1) Make the bus improvements and infill stations.
      2) Build the downtown tunnel as a rail-convertible bus tunnel as a first step. This would have the same stations as planned, and thus be different than the WSTT, but offer many of the same benefits (https://seattletransitblog.com/2015/02/18/westside-seattle-transit-tunnel/).
      3) Extend Link up to Mariner.
      4) Everything else (Link extension, Sounder extension, parking, etc.).

      This would put the most cost effective projects towards the front (in terms of overall transit ridership per dollar or ridership time saved per dollar).

      1. Alright suggestions, though not sure why you’re bring up Paine Field and other east side link projects. The recent cost overruns by 5 billion (50% increase over original) are all regarding the Ballard to West Seattle segment. I’m not sure why we’d downscope the other equity areas when they’ve stayed within their budgets. (Besides the OMF landfill choice.)

        This ‘transit tunnel’ would have the busses come out at Seattle Center, not the best compared to the original WSTT idea. Though the detour for the 5, 26x and E line isn’t that bad with the harrison street exit/onramp onto the Aurora.

        Just delaying the west seattle/ballard link would be another decade or two with the funding shortfall projected or at high risk of being cancelled. It really needs to be downscaled if we actually want to reach West Seattle and Ballard. Probably bring back the low bridge, go down the delridge avenue, and shorten the stations to 3-cars and sound transit can just about barely afford the West Seattle/Ballard Link.

      2. The total agency needs to go through realignment. Mariner to Everett (via Paine or otherwise) would fall into #4. Snohomish does indeed have subarea capacity at this moment, but the total agency doesn’t have the agency-wide financial capacity to finish Lynnwood to Everett under the current schedule.

      3. @AJ

        Sure, but if you look at the financial charts it’s mainly the increased costs (4 billion) of Ballard and West Seattle that making ST cross above the debt limit.

        The Lynnwood to Everett only requires a slight delay mainly because of covid (I’m already penciling in around 2 year delay for all projects as their sound transit’s realignment presentation says https://www.soundtransit.org/st_sharepoint/download/sites/PRDA/FinalRecords/2021/Presentation%20-%20Realignment%20Update%2005-6-21.pdf)

        However, even a 2 year delay cannot make up for 4 billion in increased costs and cost cutting of say even removing Paine Field and removing the i-405 BRT still is not close enough (I am not advocating for cutting so much eastside projects just illustrating). The West Seatte/Ballard project needs some heavy changes no matter how it’s calculated.

      4. This ‘transit tunnel’ would have the busses come out at Seattle Center

        It would come out the same place as the train tunnel. For the north end, that means Elliot, or very close to it (https://oohwsblink.blob.core.windows.net/media/Default/images/DEIS_Downtown-01.pdf). It would be for buses from Ballard, Magnolia and West Seattle. I suppose you could put some other buses in there, but mostly from the south (e. g. 101, 150). I don’t see buses from Aurora over Queen Anne heading over there. Which isn’t to say that the bus system would look like it does now. There would be significant changes.

        The main thing is, it would be better than the stub line (Smith Cove to SoDo) that people have been talking about. Frequency within that section would be a lot better (with several buses converging) while many riders would be better off.

        I’m not sure why we’d downscope the other equity areas when they’ve stayed within their budgets.

        There is only one project that has stayed within its budget, and that’s 405 BRT (what I prioritize). All the Link and park and ride projects are over budget. I’m not sure about the Sounder expansion, but like the other Link projects (and the park and ride projects) it performs poorly. Various projects are going to be delayed — this is inevitable. It makes sense to delay the projects that are least valuable the most.

        Just delaying the west seattle/ballard link would be another decade or two with the funding shortfall projected or at high risk of being cancelled. It really needs to be downscaled if we actually want to reach West Seattle and Ballard.

        Yeah, but if we build the transit tunnel first, there would be plenty of time to discuss how to do that later. Same with Everett Link. In ten years, you might be able to get out to Mariner. Then you can discuss whether it makes sense to go further, and if so, how.

      5. @RossB

        Mhmm, the location on Elliot does kinda make the transit tunnel idea less effective.

        Yes the other projects have gone over budget — but the West Seattle/Ballard hole of 4 billion dollars is the largest and dwarfs all other budget problems. And this is before construction has even started or even the upscaled design choices of even more tunnels. Ignoring it is how you end up with CA HSR or the HART debacle, it’s better to face reality now than to ignore it.

        Lastly sure building the transit tunnel might be a solution, the point I’m making is that these discussions should be actively made. Right now it seems everyone is just ignoring realignment hoping it can just be delayed — it really can’t.

      6. Mhmm, the location on Elliot does kinda make the transit tunnel idea less effective.

        The corridor has its advantages and disadvantages. What is true of trains is true of buses.

        Right now it seems everyone is just ignoring realignment hoping it can just be delayed — it really can’t.

        Well, actually it can. The entire thing, from top to bottom, can simply be delayed. That is the nature of this. There is no set amount of tax money, nor do the taxes end at a particular date. We could take 100 years to build this if we wanted.

        I’m not saying that is the best approach, but it could easily be the approach they take. Just delay each project the same amount of time. Good project, bad project, everything gets delayed. Nothing gets modified, just delayed.

        As for Ballard to West Seattle being the big problem, that is mainly because it is the only project looked at in great detail. They haven’t looked at Issaquah to South Kirkland, for example. It is worth noting that before the cost overruns, it was the best value. It is still likely one of the better values. https://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2016/04/06/youve-got-50-billion-for-transit-now-how-should-you-spend-it/

        It would be crazy to scale it back, and then say that the other projects shouldn’t be scaled back. This is all about timing, and building things in stages.

  9. Throwing this out to the horde– how many home owners in Seattle are getting texts from speculators asking if they are interested in selling their home? And why are housing prices so high if Seattle is such a hellhole?

    1. Can’t tell you about Seattle, but the group of real estate speculators calling themselves “disinvest Portland” are contacting me about once a month. I get dozens of phone calls, texts, post cards, and at least twice a month big, expensive letters.

      The tone of the message is “sell your house to me before the value drops any lower [so I can make a huge profit in a short time]”

  10. I think Councilmember Balducci has the right idea about the realingment:
    “Balducci, who has long argued against making these decisions now, said that since this has become much more of a cost gap than a revenue gap, ‘project-based approaches’ might be a solution to the higher cost estimates.”
    We should be able to reduce the costs of these projects considerably, instead of just throwing up our hands and waiting to build them.

    1. I’ve long argued that a different technology ahould be used for many of the ST projects to enable faster speeds and lower costs.

      – Self propelled units could get all the way to Everett and Tacoma like EBART. Those trains are faster than light rail and the tracks could be segments of high speed rail in the future.

      – Ballard/SLU could be an automated line requiring a smaller bores and smaller trains at higher frequencies.

      – Issaquah could be an automated line from South Bellevue with short trains waiting at South Bellevue leaving every few minutes.

      – South Kirkland only reds a single-track automated shuttle.

      That just leaves West Seattle,

      The key to making these work is building level cross-platform transfers. It’s what systems all over the world build — but ST can’t seem to value this basic concept.

      1. > Self propelled units could get all the way to Everett and Tacoma like EBART.
        The speed of light rail/commuter rail usually has nothing to do with the technology and just to do with right-of-way.

        > Ballard/SLU
        Half-agree. Ballard and the West Seattle line don’t actually need four train cars. Part of the large expense is the giant four-car length stations (can cost the same as the tunnels themselves), mainly for trains coming from Federal Way. Otherwise you could just dig smaller two-car stations. I am actually thinking if we should go back to the smaller alternative.

        > South Kirkland/Issaquah
        These were originally supposed be BRT utilizing the CRC. And actually using BRT it makes a lot more sense as it is cheaper and can actually reach downtown Kirkland and actually have higher frequency. Sound Transit actually forced Kirkland to accept light rail over the better BRT plan. https://seattletransitblog.com/2015/11/16/kirklands-brt-design/

      2. “ The speed of light rail/commuter rail usually has nothing to do with the technology and just to do with right-of-way.”

        That’s just a silly comment. While the surroundings and tracks might effect reaching it, every technology has a maximum speed. Link light rail’s maximum speed is lower than many other rail technologies.

      3. @Al S.

        It is a common misconception that people think light rail will magically be faster than busses or subway significantly faster than light rail. This may surprise you but say the NYC metro average actual speed is only 30 mph, with the many stations it stops pretty often. Same thing for the BART, the only time they move really quickly >50mph is in the tunnels or other like freeways with a long straight track. Going from diesel to electric does help with better acceleration between station stops, but going beyond that actually brings quickly diminishing returns as the train would stopping anyways at the next station.

        Link’s light rail speed is limited because it has many station stops and because of the many curves. Additionally because of the running at-grade portions in Rainer Valley. If Link had taken the freeway alignment it would be much faster — though at the expense of a lot of ridership. The limiting factor for Link’s speed is the right-of-way and intermediate stations, not actually the technology.

      4. No reason Link as-is cannot become automated. ST doesn’t need new rolling stock or new ROW, just an investment in retrofits.

        A more interesting proposal is to do WS-Ballard as 2-car trains, boosting frequency to ensure the same capacity as the ST3 representative projects. Smaller station footprint should yield significant capital savings, and an investment in driverless tech will mean running 2-cars at 3 minutes rather than 4-cars at 6 minutes will have equivalent operating costs. Move the 4-car trains coming from the RV back into the existing tunnel.

      5. I’m with WL. Aside from brief stretches like the Lake Washington crossing, the max speed of Link is irrelevant. What matters is acceleration entering & existing stations.

        Sounder would greatly benefit from electrification mostly by improving acceleration, not because the train would have a different cruising speed.

      6. @AJ

        I’ve thought about if the Ballard and West Seattle segments can switch back to using 2-car stations. The problem is that then the north bound stations (from Federal Way not Redmond) cannot run straight through to Ballard.

        I guess there could also be a compromise configuration of 4-car tunnels just in the new tunnel where there are 2-car trains running from West Seattle to Ballard and the 4-car trains run from Federal Way to downtown Seattle sharing the same tunnel then backing out rather than continuing to Ballard.

        Or as you said just have two main lines with 4-car trains and then have a West Seattle to Ballard line with 2-car trains.

      7. I think the real capital savings only occur if WS-Ballard is designed to only operate with 2-car trains, because then the excavated station vaults can be smaller. The line would use the same rolling stock & OMFs, so a 4-car train could run out-of-service if needed (shuffling around trains during the night shift?), but not in service.

      8. Yeah, the savings from running 2-car trains is that the stations are smaller. The savings might be significant, although I’m not sure they would make that much difference. We also have issues with station placement (outside the tunnel). With smaller stations, that might help things (especially in West Seattle). I’m not so sure about Ballard.

        We should definitely investigate it, but I have a feeling that it wouldn’t save enough to open the line on time, and as it was, the thing wasn’t supposed to open until 2035. That is why I think it makes sense to open it in stages. The best way to do that is to build the tunnel as a rail-convertible bus tunnel. That is the fastest way for people from Ballard and West Seattle to benefit from the project. It would also mean better frequency from SoDo to Smith Cove (if not farther). Frequency would be better than any train tunnel. Building with big stations (but only the tunnel section) would probably be a lot cheaper than building the whole thing, but with small trains. That leaves open the possibility of running bigger trains there (eventually, when the whole thing is done).

      9. “We should definitely investigate it…”

        Yeah, a financial (and operational) analysis of this option, i.e., smaller station vaults and shorter platforms, should probably be done, though I’m skeptical that such an approach would lead to enough significant cost savings that would allow the agency to meet the original timeline (or even with a modest 2-3 year delay). I guess at the end of the day I would advocate for the longer platforms and larger station vaults to future-proof the infrastructure investment. For example, I would hate to see us spend just a little less money but wind up with a situation like that which existed at South Ferry Station in NYC for decades.

        https://seattletransitblog.com/2021/02/04/two-more-link-closures-next-quarter-float-still-intact/#comment-868635

    2. My suspicion is the future revenue (general fund and farebox) is the real issue. Folks like ETA were claiming before ST 3 the project costs for the second transit tunnel were way low at $2.2 billion (pre Bertha) as were the ST 3 project costs for N. King Co. Balducci is not generally considered on the Eastside as the sharpest knife in the drawer.

      ST underestimated these costs to sell ST 3 to the other subareas — along with some fantastical future ridership projections — figuring the explosive revenue growth in Seattle would continue, and would cover the underestimates costs.

      It might have worked except for the pandemic accelerating things, or at least been deniable until the current crop of ST executives were gone, and still may work if Seattle’s total tax revenue grows like 2010–2019, although that now looks unlikely.

      ST was like a gambler always betting on the come. One bad roll and the pyramid scheme was exposed.

      The four other subareas should be ok because their ST 3 projects were so silly due to uniform tax rates to fund ST 2 and 3 in N. King Co., especially if their contribution towards the second transit tunnel reverts to their subarea.

      The irony is light rail only makes sense in the urban parts of Seattle because of the enormous cost to transport large numbers of commuters through peak hour congestion. Issaquah and Redmond may not be “rural”, but the miles and miles of track to get to each go through rural areas.

      1. Do you know what rural means? Look at Skagit County farms, Whidbey and Vashon Islands, the Snoqualmie Valley. Mt Vernon is the largest city, and it is all alone, no similar towns around it, just miles of farms.

        There’s nothing like that on East Link. The closest is between Redmond and Duvall, and Link doesn’t go there.

        On the whole of Link the closest to rural is between South Federal Way and Tacoma Dome. That’s an anomaly, and it’s only because Pierce wants so badly to spend its subarea money on Link there. I should go down there and see how much Fife has grown and how much of the empty space has been filled in with houses and industry. Does anyone know what Pierce’s plan for the 99 corridor is?

        In Snohomish Link is not rural. It was thirty or forty years ago, but that’s irrelevant. Ash Way has TOD, and east and west of it is close-together houses and Mill Creek. I assume Mariner will be similar by the time Link gets there. South Everett, if it has any empty space left, will be filled by house tracts like Renton.

      2. “The four other subareas should be ok because their ST 3 projects were so silly due to uniform tax rates to fund ST 2 and 3 in N. King Co., especially if their contribution towards the second transit tunnel reverts to their subarea.”

        You mean two subareas. ST3 was stretched to fit not only Ballard and West Seattle, but also Everett and Paine Field. South King, while it didn’t drive the size of ST3, maxed it out, and still has several projects it wanted to get in but couldn’t. That leaves Pierce and East King. Pierce has wanted the Tacoma Dome extension for thirty years and has saved up for it, and it’s not that expensive because it’s all elevated on a highway. The 19th Avenue streetcar was just an addition because it could. Similarly, East King added Issaquah because it could. They could have delayed or downgraded those without too much gnashing of teeth, except for the Issaquah council’s ambitions. And there we mustn’t let the tail wag the dog, because Bellevue and Redmond will have Link, and 405 will have Stride.

      3. I think you are missing some important things Daniel.

        1. Downtown Bellevue daily parking rates pre-Covid ($17) are almost as high as Downtown Seattle’s are ($23) and surpasses or are equal to many major American downtowns and higher than Calgary or Toronto. (https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/5540406/Parkopedia_North-America-Parking-Index-2019_Final.pdf?__hstc=91933061.2602e2f59bd0bdd68a82cd5934874b64.1578004250210.1578004250210.1578072603724.2&__hssc=91933061.1.1578072603724). Bellevue is even the 13th highest monthly parking rate downtown. The Link system is not just for Downtown Seattle only. Those huge Link garages at South Bellevue and SE Redmond will be very attractive to people that never cross the lake. It’s no longer 1985 in Bellevue as much as you may want to rewind the clock 36 years.

        2. Mike is right that the corridors are not rural. To the credit of many local cities, most 2025 Link stations have significant density. Unlike other urban areas, our real estate market has already anticipated TOD well before opening date at lots of stations including the Spring District and south of Judkins Park. It’s also just a tad too early to pick apart stations opening after 2030 or 2035 because the details are not final — but even those have some major urban density or have early land use plans designating them to be dense.

        3. The cost problem is a design problem and not a needs problem. After ST3 is done, there are many urban corridors and destinations that are still unserved — like First Hill. The beef that some of us have is not trying to get transit riders generally — but it’s more choosing the transit technology, choosing the vertical positioning or choosing corridors which don’t appear as productive as other unstudied ones would be.

  11. Had dinner today at the new 43rd St. at an outdoor dining table occupying space that was previously street parking. The new 43rd St. is so much better than the old one.

    1. Is Cedars still open? (I’m just wondering if they survived this past year.)

      1. I think they do, although its owner sold it years ago and opened Saffron Grill up in Northgate. It really isn’t the same as what it once was.

    2. I saw it yesterday too. I went to the copy shop at 42nd and then took a look at the newly-opened station area. 43rd Street between U Way and Brooklyn has a dozen picnic tables with umbrellas and a sign saying something like ‘The Ave Outdoor Dining”. I would have eaten there but I was already planning to go to Agua Verde on the canal (highly recommended). The sidewalks on 42nd are widened and there’s no curb elevation. The station is partly visible but has, what are they called, concrete barriers along all of it. West of Brooklyn 43rd is also closed to cars, probably as a covid-era Safe Street. I didn’t notice Cedars but I think restaurants on that street are open.

  12. South Sounder all-day service. yes, BNSFRR has the ownership and power over the track and its time of use. I hope ST attempted to get WSDOT and UPRR in the same room with BNSFRR and discuss the shift of some freight to the UPRR track to allow more midday services by ST and WSDOT. South Sounder provides good speed and reliability advantages for Puyallup, Sumner, Auburn, Kent, and Tukwila; all but Tukwila were developed before WWII and have walkable street grids near the stations. If it made sense to have an additional fleet, DMU might be used at off-peak times, perhaps on the Nally Valley ROW between Lakewood and TDS.

    NE 43rd Street. The post is about the current dining. Yes, it looks nice. The main issue is how is performs after October 2. Will a bus trap develop between 15th Avenue NE and University Way NE with blockages from U Bookstore parking lot queues and waits behind general-purpose traffic turning left or right to University Way NE waiting for pedestrian traffic? Routes 44, 49, 70, and 372 will be on NE 43rd Street. It has one lane. Why was scarce ROW devoted to drainage? SDOT is placing a PBL on the right side of NE 43rd Street between Brooklyn and 12th avenues NE; the buses will be turning right across the PBL. The configuration will lead to friction, at best.

    1. It looks like 43rd is only for westbound buses and bikes (both directions). That is good. I would do the same thing for Brooklyn, between 43rd and 45th. From what I can tell, there are no automobile issues along the street, except for a small parking lot on the northwest corner of 43rd and Brooklyn. That could be accessed from 43rd, east of Brooklyn from what I can tell (although it might require a little bit of work). This section of the street would be similar to that section of 43rd, in that access would only be northbound buses, and bikes (both directions).

      It will still be very slow for buses, simply because of all of the pedestrians and bikes. Buses that terminate there (49, 70, 372) will slog towards the layover. That is no big deal though. There will be a bus stop on 43rd (I assume) so that as soon as the bus goes past the Ave, it will let everyone out. Then it slogs toward the layover (on Brooklyn). Likewise, after the layover, the bus slogs its way to 45th, then picks up the riders who got off of Link. The slow travel (with turns) won’t be done with riders (or at most, it will be done with riders after transferring from Link).

      The biggest problem will be the 44. A lot of riders will have to sit through the series of turns (left, right, left). So not only will it have to deal with all of the other buses (that could slow it down) but the pedestrian and bike traffic in the area.

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