137 Replies to “Weekend open thread: speedrunning Seattle transit”

  1. I saw the video either yesterday or the day before. Fun challenge. Especially for a traveler that does not know our system.

    Did he say he believes the Convention Station is going to reopen when the Convention Center expansion is complete?

    1. Apparently he did and the comments corrected him. It’s one of the complicated things a visitor wouldn’t understand. He made a few other mistakes, like calling the F an express bus, getting the year of Link’s opening wrong, saying he’s riding Line 1 (which is true since ST recently renamed it, but there’s only one line so it’s redundant to say now), talking about the 2024 extensions to Lynnwood and Federal Way without mentioning East Link, and saying that Link has two lines now. I thought, “What? East Link isn’t opened yet.” Later it became apparent he was referring to Tacoma Link. You can’t blame him for that; that’s how ST’s misleading website presents it. He never mentioned going to Tacoma so he’s probably never seen Tacoma Link and how different it is.

      Likewise with the F, he was probably guessing from the website what it would be like, and thought it was an express bus, and didn’t know about ST Express which is what people here think of as an express bus.

    2. Can we talk about third avenue. It’s become even more dangerous to catch a bus on third avenue. Sidewalks covered in tents, rampant drug use. We can’t restore transit service confidence until they clean up the cities most important transit corridor

      1. Restaurants like Wild Ginger, on 3rd and Union, which is temporarily closed, will have to remain closed as long as they are surrounded by tents. A few doors down, Steak n Shake, located behind a wall of tents, is permanently closed.

      2. This is one reason it’s good to have connections outside of downtown, rather than funneling everyone to 3rd Ave. For example, if I want to go from Ballard to Kirkland, I can avoid downtown completely and change buses in the U district. With the old 255, I’d be stuck running the gauntlet on 3rd Ave.

      3. Can we talk about the fact that only a small fraction of people are so fearful of 3rd that they absolutely wouldn’t take a bus there. 3rd Avenue has problems but it’s not the black hole people make it out to be. There are tents on a couple blocks, but they don’t cover the entire sidewalk, and they’re not on more than a block or two at a time. I haven’t seen any direct drug use, although it’s probably there.

        3rd & Pine has had problems for forty years, so it’s not going to be a quick fix. And people had confidence in transit service there for decades until covid gave people fear of transit gerns.

      4. Interesting that at the same time Alex posted his post above someone posted a picture of the tents on 3rd and Pike on Mercer Island’s Nextdoor.

        Within an hour there were 91 replies, mostly saying Seattle is dying, but citizens on the Eastside are truly worried that what they see in Seattle will migrate to the eastside, and not just the homeless but crime to defund the police to Chop.

        I am not sure what the issues will be in the race for Seattle’s mayor (considering Sawant’s recall vote and Charter Amendment 1 are on the same ballot I can guess) but the issue on the Eastside will essentially be don’t bring Seattle to the Eastside.

        I am really surprised at the very negative opinion of Seattle on the Eastside, and these are folks who know and regularly go into Seattle (mostly downtown, not the neighborhoods). I find it surprising that one suggestion — on STB no less — to deal with the homeless at 3rd and Pine is to move bus transfers outside downtown Seattle.

      5. Here’s a link to SDOT web cams. Not a tent I could find. There does seem to be a large number that are “down for maintenance” so it’s possible undesirable images are being blocked. There’s lots of news stories about shootings and assaults on 3rd and the area near the Court House is notoriously bad. But in the news footage there’s nary a tent to be seen. OTOH, I’ve been in Sodo a few times over the last year and there are tents everywhere. I know they line the freeway in the area of 45th. But on a recent trip to Rainier Ave S. I was surprised that there wasn’t any issue at all. Don’t know about nearby Judkins Park. There’s been a couple of stories just in the last couple of weeks of stuff being thrown from overpasses onto I-90 and going through peoples windshields that were attributed to a nearby homeless encampment.

      6. Seattle, 3rd & Pike to Pioneer Square at Night

        A Youtube walking tour shot last February. Dirty, graffitti, boarded up businesses but not a tent to be seen until you get to main. Maybe the winter weather has something to do with it. Construction barricades looked to be more of an issue than tents. And while crime is getting worse the main reason businesses closed was Covid.

      7. I catch busses on Third all the time and don’t feel even remotely unsafe. And the rampant pot use is a step up from the rampant crack use in the 90’s. Third is getting more safe as time goes by, not less safe.

      8. The numbers for Seattle are not good and they are not getting better.

        2020 crime report: Seattle saw highest homicide number in 26 years; overall violent crimes lower

        Last published report from SPD is 2018. Sort of like ST, if the news is bad they bury it:

        SPD 2018 Crime Report

        The start of the death spiral was really 2016.

        Seattle is “safer” than only 4% of cities in America. A bit misleading since it places Bellevue, Redmond & Kirkland only in the 16-18% range and Mercer Island at only 42%]. But if it makes you “feel” safer in Seattle, Portland is at 2% (tied with Baltimore & Detroit). And an SPD that is losing officers at a record rate is a real problem.

      9. If I have to transfer at 3rd and Pine to get somewhere, I will do it. Still, if I’m choosing between two routes that take the same amount of total time, one passes through downtown, the other doesn’t, I will choose the option that avoids waiting for a bus on 3rd Ave.

        I visit Seattle about once a week or so. Almost always to one of the neighborhoods, almost never downtown. The neighborhoods have some cases of tents and crazies too, but if far fewer of them than downtown does.

        It is true that, on the Eastside where I live, visible homeless is nearly non-existent. But, it’s not because the Eastside has some magical solution to the homeless problem. It’s that they’ve figured out that the cheapest and easiest way to get homeless people off the streets is to dump them onto somebody else’s streets. It works great for the Eastside, but it leaves Seattle the burden of taking care of the lion’s share of the homeless population across the entire region. The result overburdens Seattle and is simply not fair.

      10. “one suggestion — on STB no less — to deal with the homeless at 3rd and Pine is to move bus transfers outside downtown Seattle”

        That’s a feature of Link. :) When the downtown tunnel was a bus tunnel, the SODO busway functioned as an extension of it, so you effectively had a frequent circulator from Convention Place to Spokane Street, and you could transfer at any stop along it. Link will extend that even further, so instead of transferring downtown you can transfer at Roosevelt, U-District, Capitol Hill, etc. That’s part of the plan to reduce the number of buses downtown and move transfers to other areas. And if you’re going from Greenwood to Rainier Valley or Bellevue, say, you just make one transfer in north Seattle, and you don’t have to transfer downtown.

      11. the Eastside… figured out that the cheapest and easiest way to get homeless people off the streets is to dump them onto somebody else’s streets. It works great for the Eastside, but it leaves Seattle the burden

        You’re right that all the Eastside has to do is enforce the law and the drug problem will stay in Seattle because Seattle figured out the bigger the problem the more tax dollars they can generate for bureaucracy. The more Seattle spends the bigger the “problem” so the more they spend. But the scope of the problem Seattle has created does spill over to surrounding cities. And those with less money to spend, like Everett, Seatac, Burien, et al are being affected by Seattle recklessness.

      12. “Within an hour there were 91 replies, mostly saying Seattle is dying, but citizens on the Eastside are truly worried that what they see in Seattle will migrate to the eastside”

        That reconfirms my impression that Nextdoor is where the biggest nimbys congregate. A guy in Madison Park said similar things were on Nextdoor there.

        “not just the homeless but crime to defund the police to Chop.”

        That depends on your city councils, and you have some say in that. Seattle isn’t unique, it’s typical of American central cities. A thousand American attitudes and policies make central cities and suburbs that way. And as suburbs get bigger, they find themselves becoming more like the central cities. But not all the way. Seattle will probably always be the most liberal, the most woke, and have most of the parades and demonstrations and homeless because that’s how American metro areas are designed. A thousand attitudes and policies reinforce it.

        I’ve seen Bellevue for decades come to realize this and to have things that were previously considered “only in Seattle”. Crime, traffic, homeless, drugs — Bellevue and Kirkland started seeing them increasing in the 1980s and knew they would inevitably become major issues and there was no way to avoid them so they’d better be prepared.

        Bellevue went from being a Republican to a Democratic area. How much further that will go I don’t know, but I doubt there will be significant calls to defund the police there or set up CHOP in the Bellevue Park (BOP?) or a sudden relaxation of attitudes about tents. It all depends on what the tekkies and their children think and do, because they’re the largest chunk of the population there. They might want some change there and the city council is already making changes, but as for activism, with Seattle so close they’ll probably just keep coming to Seattle for that. 4th Avenue is where you want the TV cameras to see your campaign signs and turtle costumes, because that has the biggest impact, both regionally and to whatever extent nationally. And it has the most infrastructure to accommodate people coming in and out from throughout the region. If they all went to Bellevue or Renton, the infrastructure would melt down. Where’s the Bellevue Center to match Seattle Center?

      13. @Bernie:

        “The numbers for Seattle are not good and they are not getting better.

        2020 crime report: Seattle saw highest homicide number in 26 years; overall violent crimes lower.”

        From that story we find that three of those were in the downtown core, and four on Capitol Hill. In a year with protests and all the pearl clutching about the CHOP. We weren’t talking about Seattle as a whole. We were talking about Third in downtown. The numbers for downtown are fine, and getting better when you look at the numbers relative the the amount of people in and through the area. With the potential aberration in 2020, a crazy year by anybody’s standards.

      14. A Joy is correct. (How often do I get to write that :) ). Seriously though, A Joy is correct. Bernie linked to an article, and didn’t bother to read it. Overall violent crime is down in Seattle, but murders are up. Northgate had more murders than downtown. As someone who walks around Northgate a lot, I can tell you that I feel perfectly safe there (as does my wife, my kids, my grand kids, and everyone else I know). Thanks for your concern though (Northgate is not dying).

        Murder rates across the country went up. No one is exactly sure why, but I can hazard a guess: frustration related to the pandemic. Lots of people got laid off. If you’ve ever been laid off, you know how frustrating it is. You have a combination of financial insecurity as well as a loss of self worth. most of the victims were young men. My guess is most of the murderers were young men. This is the age group (and gender) most likely to lash out violently when dealing with frustration and the age group likely to lack opportunity during the pandemic. In England these are the guys that fight each other with their hands (mods versus rockers in the 60s, the “no future” punks of the 70s). In America we shoot each other.

        The good news is that crime numbers were trending down at the end of 2020. Seattle still has a murder rate much lower than most of the country.

      15. I did read the article and quoted the entire title. Read past the headline to where the numbers are, “overall violent crime rates in the city are actually slightly lower than the previous year: SPD recorded 4,580 violent crimes in 2020 compared to 4,673 recorded in 2019.” That’s a 2% drop in reported violent crime for one year but it follows years of increase.

        Go back to the link for Seattle WA Crime Rate 1999-2018. It shows the same trend for violent crime as murder in Seattle starting back in 2016. Down below (way below) are the numbers for the US and Washington.

        And yes, from everything I’ve actually been able to document, with the exception of the area know as the Blade, 3rd Ave doesn’t appear to be any safer than the rest of Seattle. Look at the list of cities in the above link. Seattle ranks #5 in violent crime. It is better than Spokane and Tacoma but scroll down to the Eastside cities. Renton’s crime rate is half that of Seattle… keep scrolling. Bothell, Redmond and Bellevue have only 20% the number of violent crime per capita as Seattle. Kirkland, the fastest growing Eastside city, 16%.

      16. We were talking about Third in downtown. The numbers for downtown are fine, and getting better when you look at the numbers relative the the amount of people in and through the area.

        Only if you look at the crime map through rose colored glasses. The DT core is all shaded most dangerous. And no, the numbers clearly show that since 2016 the per capita rate is getting worse; significantly worse. It’s not going to get better when police response times are going up because the SPD is understaffed and can’t retain officers.

      17. @Bernie:

        “3rd Ave doesn’t appear to be any safer than the rest of Seattle.”

        That wasn’t the argument you were making earlier. You were saying the strip of 3rd Ave. through downtown was less safe. I’ll agree it isn’t more safe than the rest of Seattle. I was pointing out the poor value of numbers in isolation, with no perspective towards both time and other neighborhoods. But those numbers show that 3rd is hardly a hive of scum and villainy best avoided.

        “The DT core is all shaded most dangerous.”

        There are over a dozen neighborhoods shaded most dangerous on that map. Including Leschi. Downtown is as dangerous as many SFH dominated neighborhoods according to your link. Colors are not numbers. The crime map is not the supporting evidence you seem to think it is.

      18. “Most dangerous” is relative. I’ve been going downtown for decades, and the past decade almost every day. The only times I’ve been assaulted or maybe a prelude to an assault were once around 1979 and once around 2000.

        The Stranger used to publish the police blotter, and it said the block around my U-District apartment had a crime almost every day. Yet it never affected me and I never even saw it.

      19. But those numbers show that 3rd is hardly a hive of scum and villainy best avoided.
        If you go back and read the posts you’ll see I posted two different times that I couldn’t find any supporting evidence that 3rd was worse than 2nd or 4th and in fact posted links to video that show no sign of tent encampments being an issue on 3rd. However, the area on 3rd by the court house has serious issues. It’s not a new problem but it’s worse with the pandemic and shortage of police officers. And this article from KING5 calls out 2016 as when it all started to go seriously wrong.

        Court Operations Supervisor Nadia Simpson:
        “For those of us who work in the courthouse it’s not if we’re going to get assaulted, it’s a matter of when,”

      20. Murder rates across the country went up. No one is exactly sure why, but I can hazard a guess: frustration related to the pandemic. Lots of people got laid off.

        Yes rates went up nationally since the start of the pandemic reversing a decline from 2016-2018; the same time period Seattle started going the wrong way. CDC numbers for 2019 was 5.8 nationally per 100,000. That’s flat from CDC numbers for 2018 (note the CDC reports ~0.75 higher numbers than the FBI for the same year). Seattle’s homicide rate is far lower than the worse cities over 100,000.

        Denver is seeing a similar trend to Seattle but started with a worse rate. Police chiefs say the”biggest effect of COVID is the inability to put known criminals in jail. And in fact there have literally been get out of jail free cards handed out to prevent get out of jail dead.

      21. Bernie:

        It’s not a new problem but it’s worse with the pandemic and shortage of police officers.

        Just what, exactly, are the police supposed to do? The court ruling was that the cities can’t chase homeless out of camping in public spaces unless they have adequate supply of shelter space or other solutions.

      22. @Glenn
        Just what, exactly, are the police supposed to do?

        That is the crux of the problem. SPD isn’t allowed to do their job which is a big reason they are leaving in record numbers. Many recruits are making lateral moves almost immediately after being sworn in. The 5k signing bonus is way less than it would cost these departments provide training. Why is it that Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond and other departments aren’t handcuffed by same court decisions? Pete Holmes comes to mind.

        Look at the timeline. 2016 is when it went sour. What happened then? The city council started being elected by district. The wackos took over and homeless drug addicts flooded into Seattle and the police got zero support. Prior to that Kathleen O’Toole, who I believe was part of the Federal Consent decree had been doing a fine job of reforming SPD. Seattle not only was better than the national average for murder rate it tied the WA State rate. Violent crime wasn’t great but it wasn’t showing huge increases and I suspect reporting rates were going up as policing got better.

        A question for you, why is it even worse in Portland?

      23. @Bernie

        You responded to what I wrote. This is what I wrote:

        “I catch busses on Third all the time and don’t feel even remotely unsafe. And the rampant pot use is a step up from the rampant crack use in the 90’s. Third is getting more safe as time goes by, not less safe.”

        This is how you responded:

        “The numbers for Seattle are not good and they are not getting better.”

        Since I brought up the concept of safety and Seattle getting better, I get to say what the topic of my discussion is. We, you and I, were talking about 3rd. Not Seattle as a whole. You may have been talking to other people about Seattle as a whole, but that’s not on me.

        “Look at the timeline. 2016 is when it went sour. What happened then? The city council started being elected by district. The wackos took over and homeless drug addicts flooded into Seattle and the police got zero support.”

        Wait, what? The point of district elections is to allow the views of elected representatives to better reflect those of the people who elect them. So in this case, you would be calling Seattle residents wackos. And the voting records of Seattle City Council members in the past 4 1/2 years has been anything but radical, especially radically antipolice. Most of the budget cuts and police accountability measures were watered down, deadlocked into nothingness, or voted in by Seattle residents. Mayor Durkan has been explicitly pro-police, defending them over African American, Hispanic, and LGBTQ voices. The vast majority of Seattle’s homeless come from Seattle or King County, disproving the “magnet theory”, as King County homeless spending is intentionally disproportionately spent in Seattle to centralize assistance in one location. Homeless drug use in Seattle is roughly 3-4% lower than the national average (30-34% vs. 34-38%), and is the vast minority of people living on the streets.

        The “wackos” never took over, homeless drug addicts never flocked to Seattle, and the SPD got massive amounts of support from the agencies and groups that actually matter to them.

      24. Bernie: trying to figure out why Portland is “worse” is complicated.

        Eg, murder rate is a bit lower than national average. The statistics show things like assault, but it doesn’t say if those were domestic abuse or the type of stranger on stranger crime that everyone is afraid of, but is actually a relatively small part of crime statistics.

        I know our domestic violence rate is much, much higher now than it was before the pandemic. I also know that thanks to Trump policies, much of the immigrant and other marginalized communities are letting their situations get much worse before they get reported to authorities. Portland Police have a long history of racism (when I was a kid they would throw dead possums into Black owned businesses), so naturally under the current environment pretty much all of the marginalized communities are faring much worse.

        Within 1/2 mile of my house, there have been three or so police shootings of unarmed people in recent years. Thus, nobody in my area wants to call the police except as a last resort, so things get pretty bad before they are viewed as a desirable option, even by those that aren’t marginalized.

      25. Seattle ranks #5 in violent crime.

        For Washington State! The fact that it is well below Spokane, for example, is quite surprising. Generally speaking, the bigger the city, the more crime you have (per person). Spokane is an independent city (not a low income suburb) yet it has worse crime than Seattle. Same with Tacoma.

        But compared to most cities in the United States, crime rates are very low. As for the increase in murders, they are nation wide (https://www.npr.org/2021/01/06/953254623/massive-1-year-rise-in-homicide-rates-collided-with-the-pandemic-in-2020). Furthermore, the murders were not concentrated around Third Avenue, or even downtown. The crime rate you cited for Seattle showed the numbers going up and down, not trending up. It clearly shows that 2018 (the last date shown) was not as bad as 2005 or 2006, let alone what it was like during the 1970s. This doesn’t show a trend, any more than traffic fatalities in Seattle don’t show a trend. They are simply fluctuating. You are grabbing bits of unrelated data, and trying to turn it into a narrative.

        Finally, you are placing way too much importance on policing. It is true that Seattle police could do a better job. That has been true for a very long time — since before McGinn took office. But since 2011, when the DOJ reported “a pattern or practice of constitutional violations regarding the use of force that result from structural problems, as well as serious concerns about biased policing”, mayor after mayor has done nothing. There is no question that these “structural problem” have made things worse. But even the best police force (or the worst) can only do so much. Countries with a small police force, but a large safety net have a lot less crime. The country (and Seattle) should see something in the way of relief if Biden’s proposal for an increase in community violence prevention programs goes through.

        Of course if the Republicans insist that what we need to do is “get tough on crime”, then we will continue to spend way too much money arresting, prosecuting and jailing criminals, and way too little on preventing crime. For the money, this is an ineffective way to reduce crime.

      26. Spokane was a surprise. Spokane Valley is relatively safe. Median income is slightly lower in Spokane but cost of living is lower too. Spokane has more police officers per capita. The number that jumps out is % living in poverty. Seattle 10%, Spokane Valley 11.7%, Spokane 16.1%.

        Found a city crime map that SPD has on their website. You can filter by precinct, type of crime, etc. Looks like the longest time period is last 7 days.

      27. And an SPD that is losing officers at a record rate is a real problem and opportunity.

        If the “Blue Wall” that gets its jollies from beating up on skinny hippies and grandmas wants to move on to someplace that applauds that, good riddance.

      28. I hate to agree, but Belltown is getting more dangerous. I’ve been living on 4th Ave for 14 years, checking the schedule multiple times before heading to the 3rd and Wall stop, or using the one at 3rd and Vine when possible. Walking down 1st or 5th to reach the Market.

        But in the last couple month I’m starting to fear walking home. It’s not the tents. It’s the people trying to enter the building after me; the folks screaming at 3 am; the guy on 5th and Battery throwing a needle to pedestrians.

      29. If the “Blue Wall” that gets its jollies from beating up on skinny hippies and grandmas wants to move on to someplace that applauds that, good riddance.
        You mean like Carman Best? Problem for SPD right now is they can’t even keep the new recruits that make it through training. The first step in fixing a problem is admitting there is one and Seattle is a long way from doing that. It may already be too late to prevent a return to the bad old days.

    3. It’s interesting that after he rode the F he thought it was impressively fast it and took “only” fifteen minutes from TIB to Tukwila Sounder station, whereas I think of the F as meandering and slow. Although the worst part is if you’re going from Renton or The Landing to Southcenter or TUB, and he didn’t see that kind of trip.

      1. The only reason the F seemed fast is because the two worst detours on it (Sounder and TIBS) both happened to be his points of origin and destination, so they were to his benefit. In the real world, the number of trips where it actually makes sense to ride a bus between TIBS and Tukwila Sounder station is almost zero.

        The F’s detours essentially prioritize one person’s joyriding over the needs of people actually trying to get somewhere.

      2. The worst detours are Sounder and the Boeing Commercial office in southwest Renton. Those are the biggest detours. The TIB detour is tiny compared to them.

      3. True, but they also don’t matter because the particular trip is off the bus before it happens.

        Detours are bad in general, but they’re especially bad when you detour an all day bus to serve a destination with a peak only demand pattern. This is something Metro needs to get through it’s thick skin.

      4. I would like to see ridership data on the F before making any conclusions, but I agree with the other comments. I don’t like the detour to Link, but it is relatively minor, and it quite possible that transfers make up a huge portion of the ridership. The Sounder Station is another story. From what I can tell, there isn’t much there, other than the Sounder Station. This connection (if it is even necessary) can be achieved by timed buses (starting and ending at Sounder Station). At least, that was my initial thought.

        But that isn’t the only zig-zag. If anything, the Sounder Station is simply “on the way”, once you decide to serve that part of Tukwila. If I’m not mistaken, this is the route (or part of the route): https://goo.gl/maps/g94VVehMZ2EgdzNu8. Once you’ve decided to serve Andover, you’ve committed yourself to a huge detour. Just to get over to Andover requires going west, when the general direction of the bus is east. Then you have to cross the Green River. This is the only crossing between 405 and 180th (using 180th would be an even bigger detour). Then you have to cross the greenbelt/bike path and the railroads tracks. From what I can tell, they again took the most direct route (there are roads heading northeast from there, but they are private owned).

        So it really isn’t about Sounder, it is about serving Andover Parkway. This in itself is a big detour, but to continue northeast requires a lot of zig-zags.

        I think the bus is trying to do too much. My guess is, this is just RapidRide politics. There wasn’t enough money for several routes, and none of the communities wanted to be left out. So they tried to cover a bunch of neighborhoods, and it became a mess. It should be split into multiple routes.

        I would start by keeping the F on Southcenter boulevard until it become Grady. That is a good straight shot connecting Burien with Renton. Andover is served with the 150 (which means a simple transfer). I’m not sure how to cover the stops that would be lost east of Andover — maybe extend the 156 to Kent? That’s a lot less of a detour, and probably a better match in terms of frequency (again, just by guessing).

        The F does not perform well, despite the money put into it. It is by far the worse performing RapidRide bus, and performs worse than just about every Seattle bus that is currently running (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, etc.). Southend buses in general don’t perform well, but this lags some of the routes in the area, including the 164 which doesn’t (or didn’t) go downtown. Straightening it out (i. e. reducing its coverage) is probably in order. (Again, unless the stop data says otherwise). This probably should have happened with the last restructure (https://seattletransitblog.com/2020/08/22/south-king-county-route-restructure-to-break-up-high-performing-180/) but moving around RapidRide bus stops takes more effort.

      5. “From what I can tell, there isn’t much there, other than the Sounder Station.”

        There isn’t anything there. If there were we wouldn’t make as much fuss about the detour.

        “This connection (if it is even necessary) can be achieved by timed buses (starting and ending at Sounder Station).”

        The reason the F has the detours is Metro was trying to save money by not having a separate peak route to serve Sounder. So it’s a similar situation as Link. Instead of two networks to serve city and longer-distance trips, they chose one hybrid network which doesn’t serve either market as well.

      6. There’s a private road NE of the Tukwila station. If that could be appropriated for use as a short busway, getting to / from Sounder becomes a bit less troublesome.

      7. I agree with Ross – the Sounder station is ‘on the way’ if the bus is to serve Andover. I wouldn’t get ride of the detour – serving Southcenter is important, in particular the connection to Link but also the connection to Burien & Renton; Southcenter is a major jobs center and the major retail center for the area. I suppose you could double the frequency on the 150, but that would involve a ton of hours running to Seattle & back … maybe create a 151 that only runs between TIBS and Kent?

        If the goal is to create a more direction connection between Burien, TIBS, and Renton, isn’t that what Stride is going to achieve? Once Stride is running, most riders will be using the F for trips in with the ‘detours’ are ‘on the way.’ For trips where the F’s detour is a major time suck, Stride will become the primary option. Stride is the linear route, with the F serving as the local shadow tying in destinations south of 405, notably Southcenter but also Sounder & Longacres.

        I wouldn’t try to rethink the F until KCM and Sound Transit can coordinate on a better way for Stride to more directly serve Southcenter, such as a freeway station at Andover West.

      8. “I agree with Ross – the Sounder station is ‘on the way’ if the bus is to serve Andover”

        The street, yes. Looping through the bus bays, no. Nor is looping through the bus bays even necessary to serve Sounder. People have to walk from the street to get to any other destination. They can do it to catch a train.

        Really, I think the F needs to be two routes. A primary route that just stays on Southcenter Blvd./Grady Way. And a peak only route that serves the Boeing buildings and Sounder station.

        Perhaps the new F can cut over to Tukwila Parkway. to at least partly serve Southcenter, keeping the overhead of the detour minimal.

      9. Fair, not defending the off-street loops. But I still don’t see the purpose of a straight route on Grady with Rapid Ride frequency after Stride is running.

      10. Southcenter is a major ridership generator. There are more riders at that one stop than all of Renton combined, at least off peak. So that detour is worth it, and Stride won’t serve it. If the F didn’t make that Sounder detour it could remain on Strander Blvd/180th to Oakesdale, Then it would be making 3 turns between Baker Blvd and Rainier Avenue instead of 7 turns. That would feel faster and more streamlined. It’s when it’s already made three turns and then makes four more that it feels really meandering and time-consuming. I don’t know whether Oakesdale, 16th, and Lind are the best streets for it, but assuming they are, it could continue to serve them. There are a lot of stores south of the mall that people go to at one time or another, so that’s probably more worth serving than Grady Way.

      11. Looping through the bus bays, no

        I wouldn’t send the bus looping to the bus bays (or doing whatever loop is necessary for Sounder) but again, that is a very minor delay. The big delay is caused by the tremendous backtracking to get over to Andover, followed by the zig-zags to head back towards Renton. If you are headed to or from Andover (either direction) then the delay is minor. If you aren’t, then this is nothing like the bigger detour to leave Southcenter Boulevard.

        Yeah, I forgot to mention 405 Stride. This will further complicate things and further chip into the ridership of the F. This also makes the case for a straighter F harder. But this is the logical route — with or without the Stride line.

        The basic problem is that you have lots of medium-to-low destinations, and they can’t be connected easily. The F seems to be wandering back and forth, desperately looking for riders, because there really aren’t that many out there. It treats Andover like a premier destination, when it isn’t. Even if you are headed to Southcenter, it is likely you will have a very long walk — or a transfer — to get to your destination anyway. That’s part of the problem. It is a huge compromise route. If Southcenter was a premier destination, then the F would make that turn and keep going south. Even that would be challenging, just given the large, sprawling nature of the area (https://goo.gl/maps/CBVqb2Dc7oaqxAHB9). It goes out in all directions, with parking lots being the dominant land form. From an employment standpoint, the area is similar to the area around Grady Way. But that broad area has as much employment density south of Strander than north of it. From a retail standpoint the F gets close to the main mall, but is nowhere near the Parkway Super Center (the other mall to the south). There are stores scattered all over the place, and the F can’t come close to covering them, unless it makes an even bigger detour.

        Which again, is why this should be multiple routes. Run the F along the main corridor connecting Burien to Renton — there are enough stops along the way to complement Stride (which has very few). The 150 runs every 15 minutes, which is fine for a transfer (especially since it covers more of Southcenter). The 156 could be extended to Renton (ending at the transit center), which would make for a SeaTac/Southcenter Mall/Sounder/Renton route. The savings from the shorter F could be put into the extension. I would also enlarge the loop of the 906 so that it connects to the F (since the F won’t go south of 405). If need be, add extra runs timed with Sounder.

        You lose frequency between Renton and (that part of) Tukwila. You lose a one-seat connection from Tukwila to Burien. Both of those seem worth it to me for a better connection from Burien to Renton. Yes, Stride will provide the same thing, but with only two stops, for a lot of riders that would mean the choice becomes a three-seat ride, or a very long, tedious bus ride, ironically called “Rapid”.

      12. The completion of the Strander/ SW 27th St underpass at the tracks would give Metro and opportunity to eliminate the jog at Tukwila Sounder station. However, the project doesn’t look like they’ve planned for that as the diagram doesn’t show a stop for this bus:

        https://www.psrc.org/sites/default/files/tipfhwa2018-pres-tukwilastrander_.pdf

        As for the appropriateness of RapidRide F, I see restructure opportunities once Stride and RapidRides H and I open. It comes down to trip pairs that riders make, but I think any route works better if it connects to Link and neither of these two planned RapidRides do. If the Renton transit center moves to Grady as planned as part of Stride, RapidRide F almost certainly has to be rerouted for that as well.

        A final issue with RapidRide F is that II mostly serves non-residential areas. While there are some stops with residential in the walkshed, it’s mainly a route that either requires transferring to use it unless a rider is making a trip that doesn’t begin or end at home.

        It’s effectively a low-cost rubber tired streetcar. It’s not like any other RapidRide route.

      13. Pioneer Square is also getting more dangerous. Over the weekend someone walking their dog was accosted. When the person refused to give their coat to the perpetrator they were violently shoved to the ground and their dog kicked to death. Over a coat.

        This morning while walking from my garage to The Smith Tower someone sky high without any pants on accosted me. It used to be daytime was ok, and night not ok, but the tents and street people are increasing, and just walking from my parking garage to the building is edgy. As a result Smith Tower security sent out a memo recommending tenants avoid walking through Pioneer Square at this time.

        I also think the finishing up of a number of construction projects and the construction workers leaving has made things worse.

        It also puts me on edge to see so many bloody syringes lying on the streets and in the alleys. An unintended consequence of free needles is they are discarded on the streets.

        There was also the shooting of a homeless person in a park by another homeless person over the weekend. Good to know zero AMI homeless can afford a pistol and ammunition.

        Seattle appears to be in a strange experiment for progressives in which the residential neighborhoods are upzoned and the downtown core abandoned. To me it seems like a form of urban sprawl, the opposite of the zoning approach Bellevue is taking.

        Hopefully the mild upzoning of Seattle’s residential neighborhoods will support retail vibrancy there, but I think retail will be limited, also an unusual approach for “urbanists”. Our decision at this point is to demand a release from our lease due to the neighborhood being too dangerous.

        I have to say I find it a bit ironic all the Seattle residents including urbanists and transit advocates have all left downtown Seattle but a 62 year old eastsider is still stuck down there.

      14. It’s been a growing problem in the USA since Reaganomics and the diversion of federal efforts to deal with homelessness got dumped onto volunteer organizations that supposedly do things better than government programs.

        I don’t know how it is in Seattle, but here the various homeless organizations only offer either day shelter or overnight shelter. So, even if you are able to take advantage of the shelters (and many view them as too dangerous for an option) you still need to shuffle yourself from one part of town to another..

        Other than more housing I don’t know what the solution is.

      15. Southcenter is a major ridership generator. There are more riders at that one stop than all of Renton combined, at least off peak.

        I seriously doubt that. I don’t have the number broken down by time of day, but for an outbound bus, I can group it like so (boarding, alighting):

        Burien TC to before Andover: 1830 — 750
        Andover to before Grady: 520 — 760
        Grady/Renton: 330 — 1150

        The second section is everything south of 405. There are a few things we can conclude from this:

        1) Over a third of the riders never go south of 405. Specifically, 750 riders in Burien, and 330 riders in Renton.
        2) About 300 riders ride all the way through the “detour”.
        3) The area south of 405 make up somewhere around a quarter of the ridership.

        It is worth noting that the second group is clearly suppressed by the extremely slow trip. How much is hard to say. But we know based on evidence that squiggly routes perform poorly (https://humantransit.org/2013/08/translink-high-and-low-performing-routes.html). Anecdotally, I know people who drove rather than taking similar routes.

        Here is a deeper dive:
        Burien TC: 500 — 0
        Link: 690 — 380
        Andover and Baker: 320 — 520
        Sounder: 92 — 58
        Renton TC: 135 — 413

        Burien TC and Link make up about 2/3 of the boardings before Andover. Renton TC makes up a much smaller portion of the alightings. It is hard to tell how much Stride will cut into the ridership of this route (how many of the 300 riders who through-route will switch).

        About 800 riders endure the detour to Link. About 1,000 benefit from it. The ratio is much worse for Sounder (at least 600 to 150).

        Andover and Baker is by far the biggest stop south of 405. Thus the 105 (via a transfer) would at least cover the most popular section south of 405. Sounder is the second most popular stop, and a timed Burien-Sounder (along with the existing 960) could get a lot of those riders. At worse, you have about 80 riders who would have to take a three-seat ride to get to their destination (if you went with my proposal). My guess is you would more than make up for that with the changes I proposed. Some people would have more transfers, some less, but overall, I think ridership would be better.

      16. There may be markedly different peak vs off-peak ridership. Most of my trips on the F are off-peak between, at one end, Renton TC or The Landing, and at the other, Southcenter or TIB, Additionally I see people getting on/off the F at Renton TC, Southcenter, and TIB while I’m there for other reasons. The only place I see more than one or two people at a time is Southcenter, where there’s often four to eight people. I rarely take it west of TIB so I don’t know what Burien is like, but there are masses taking it between Burien and TIB I don’t see it at TIB.

        Peak hours may have a lot of people taking it between Sounder, Renton, The Landing, and southwest Renton, and between Burien and TIB, that raise your numbers.

        The most important thing is that there’s something between Renton and Southcenter. That could be an extension of the 105, which would give the Renton Highlands a one-seat ride to someplace other than just downtown Renton. But the F is full-time frequent, while the 105 is half-hourly. It needs to be 15 minutes to generate its optimal ridership and usefulness.

        The idea of keeping it on Grady Way to speed it up loses its point with Stride. Stride will be express between Renton TC, TIB, and Burien. Those who want a fast trip between those can take it. Those who want to go between Renton and Southcenter or Burien and Southcenter need a frequent way to get there, and the number of shoppers/workers is too many to expect them all to walk down from Grady Way to Baker Blvd. And residents, since Baker Blvd is a growing residential area.

      17. The idea of keeping it on Grady Way to speed it up loses its point with Stride. Stride will be express between Renton TC, TIB, and Burien.

        Right, but that is only three stops. There are plenty of potential riders between there that would be asked to make a transfer. Based on the data, quite a few. Assuming the same ratio of riders, about 2/9 (2/3 times 1/3) go between those stops, leaving 7/9 with a two-seat (or even three-seat) ride if they used the express. Those riders will just have to live with the detour. That is just an estimate though, and the future existence of the express does make the case for a direct route weaker.

        Peak hours may [be different]

        Maybe, or maybe anecdotal evidence is just that. Keep in mind, the Southcenter stop *is* substantial. It definitely stands out. The other stops are smaller, but since there are more of them, they add up.

        My bigger point is that the detour doesn’t add up to that many riders. For an eastbound bus, there are 520 boardings, and 760 alightings on that entire section south of 405. That is significant, but not huge. Going both ways, that is about 2500, or a little more than what the 50 does (even though this bus runs a lot more often).

        To be fair, this would be a significant hit to the ridership of the F. That is almost half the riders. My point is that not everyone would abandon the bus. Many would transfer. A lot would take a different bus, even if it runs less often. The F, meanwhile, would go a lot faster, which means it is quite possible it would have better ridership-per-hour, and ridership-per-mile performance, even if you did nothing else. You also gain some riders with additional stops on Southcenter Boulevard, and through-riders that don’t take it now, because it is so slow.

        The most important thing is that there’s something between Renton and Southcenter.

        I agree. I wouldn’t remove coverage there. I proposed an extension of the 156.

        That could be an extension of the 105, which would give the Renton Highlands a one-seat ride to someplace other than just downtown Renton.

        That could work as well. I think it could layover like the 105 (in Southcenter).

        But the F is full-time frequent, while the 105 is half-hourly. It needs to be 15 minutes to generate its optimal ridership and usefulness.

        Here is where we disagree. I am not trying to generate optimal ridership and usefulness for this one section of the F. I am trying to generate optimal ridership and usefulness for the entire system. The more you focus service on poorly performing routes (or in this case, sections) the worse the overall outcome. Again, to review here:

        1) Riders trying to get to Southcenter would have to make a transfer to the 150. This goes for either direction. For some in Renton, it might even be faster (if you get lucky with the transfer).

        2) Other riders to the stops south of 405 have to deal with a less frequent trip (from Renton) and either an out of the way connection (all the way to Grady, then back) or three-seat ride (involving the 150). This sucks, but other than Sounder riders, there are very few people making this trip. About 100 from Renton, and 150 from Burien.

        3) Sounder riders have an express to Burien, along with the timed regular route to Renton.

        The savings would then be put into other routes that are more cost effective. It might even go into running the F more often (e. g. every 12 minutes). To be clear, the complete route isn’t that bad. But this section likely performs poorly, given the frequency and extra effort put into it (making it RapidRide). It isn’t that the ridership is abysmal, it is that the ridership is mediocre, but serving it takes so long.

        All that being said, the 105 is a borderline bus in my opinion. It has ridership similar to the F, and could easily run every 15 minutes. Extending it to Southcenter, and then running it every 20 minutes would be a reasonable thing to do. That would be only a bit more than revenue neutral (by my calculations). I think that would be a big improvement.

    1. Yeah, it would have made sense to take the fast ferry after taking the regular ferry. I think it also would have made sense to take a trolley. The trolley seems like a bigger difference than the RapidRide.

    2. Build housing for whom? These are zero AMI people. There are supposedly 11,000+ homeless in greater Seattle. King Co. is spending between $63,000 to $72,000 per homeless person each year for a distressed hotel room. Do the math. This does not include healthcare, addiction treatment, food and so on.

      Meanwhile Seattle is upzoning and building 100% market rate AMI housing.

      I think the situation in Seattle is unlikely to be fixed. There are too many homeless, the cost is too great, Seattle has too many other needs like bridges, the treatment needs too complex, and the acceptance of homeless camping in parks and on streets has become too acceptable now to reverse.

      The solution is to leave the downtown core, although the problem is migrating to Seattle neighborhoods.

      I hope Seattle finds a way to address the problem, but I think ot is too expensive at this point, the homeless industrial complex is too entrenched for the money, and I don’t think Seattleites or the council has the will. In fact many on this blog see no problem.

      1. While it may be a bold absolute statement, I do not think anybody on this blog sees no problem. We may have differing perspectives and understandings of the relevant demographics, leading us to a different conclusion about what the cause and solution are. But I think we can all agree that homelessness in Seattle reached a problematic level/status long ago.

      2. I don’t see how anyone could say it’s not a problem. It doesn’t get discussed here because this website is supposed to be mostly about transit. Housing policy wanders in because it impacts transit.

        It’s a USA wide problem. In suburban and rural places there are just more less obvious places to hide.

      3. We may have differing perspectives and understandings of the relevant demographics, leading us to a different conclusion about what the cause and solution are.

        That’s a fer sure! Having to sleep in a tent is a problem for that person if they got priced out of where they could afford to live. If they keep whatever income they had and take advantage of available assistance and don’t create any more of an issue than camping someplace that’s not allowed then it’s generally a small problem for anyone except the person in the tent.

        What’s causing the problem for transit is when theft becomes the means to support a chosen lifestyle. And when said individuals are above the law and allowed to harass people riding transit. How long until one of these people decides to target buses with objects thrown from overpasses?

        Homelessness, sometimes a tragedy, isn’t the problem. The problem comes from enabling drug addicts. Related is a failure of our mental health care system that goes back decades. But the problem in Seattle mushroomed when enabling drug use was seen as a way to create a crises that justified ever increased funding to make it worse.

        It’s a double whammy for transit because it decreases demand and competes for funding that would otherwise make more people want to use it.

      4. @Bernie

        Yeah, about those demographics? The vast minority of people living on the street are drug addicts. Same for criminal convictions. Mental illness rates are only 20% higher among the homeless when compared to the general public.

        Theft is nobody’s means to support a chosen lifestyle. Housed people with an axe to grind are more likely to drop objects onto busses from an overpass than homeless individuals. Nobody by and large is enabling drug addicts, and our homeless rates have nothing to do with our admitted failure of a mental health system.

        You chose to be an excellent example of what I was talking about though.

  2. “I’m in Seattle Washington, in the downtown bus tunnel about to hop on a light rail.”

    Uh… Good luck getting a bus through the tunnel today, though I don’t doubt there is still some signage somewhere referring to the DSTT as the “Bus Tunnel”.

    Also: Gusty choice to take F Line over to Sounder Station to catch the last train into Seattle.

    1. Yes, I would have taken the least-frequent line first and not trusted the vagreties of transferring from a frequent line to an infrequent line. He could have gone the other way to Tukwila on Sounder first, and taken the F and Link back. Although that may be impossible now if the morning reverse-commute Sounder run is suspended.

      1. Assuming it’s legal to start and end in different points, I think the most optimal route would be to start at Tukwila station during morning rush hour to get the Sounder leg out of the way. Once downtown, you ride Link from International District station to Westlake. Here, things start to get interesting. I would next take the Monorail to Seattle Center, the hoof it down Thomas or Mercer to the SLU streetcar on Westlake. Ride the streetcar for one stop, then get off and switch to the C-line for the bus segment. Ride the C-line to the ferry terminal, and finish with the water taxi to West Seattle, which is a shorter ride than Bainbridge Island or Bremerton.

      2. I think the most optimal route would be to start at Tukwila station during morning rush hour to get the Sounder leg out of the way.

        I think your plan won’t be optimal because of the monorail. The monorail website says that service runs from 11 AM to 7 PM. Take the last Sounder from Tukwila in the morning and you arrive in Seattle more than two hours before the monorail starts running. That’s a lot of time to kill, and you’ll probably find yourself waiting around a while for the monorail even if you save it for the last thing.

        To work around the monorail schedule you’ll probably want to board Sounder in the evening. The South Sounder route has one evening reverse commute
        trip if you still want to start in Tukwila (though you’d only have 44 minutes to board the monorail after arriving at King Street, so heading directly to the monorail from Sounder would probably be prudent). My idea (detailed below) was to take Sounder North to Edmonds and end your run on the ferry to Kingston.

      3. Ok, I guess I was foolish to just assume that the monorail would be running at 8 AM on a weekday without bothering to check the schedule. In that case, I guess I’d take everything I said and do it in reverse and in the afternoon. Start at Seacrest Park and take the ferry in, C line to Denny, streetcar one stop, walk to Seattle Center, Monorail to Westlake, Link to ID station, Sounder to Tukwila Station.

      4. The late start is probably a covid thing. In normal times commuters park in the Mercer garage and take the monorail downtown to avoid downtown parking rates.

      5. The late start is probably a covid thing.

        Yes. From what I can tell, the monorail hours before the pandemic were:

        Sunday 8:35 AM – 10:59 PM
        Monday 7:35 AM – 10:59 PM
        Tuesday 7:35 AM – 10:59 PM
        Wednesday 7:35 AM – 10:59 PM
        Thursday 7:35 AM – 10:59 PM
        Friday 7:35 AM – 10:59 PM
        Saturday 8:35 AM – 10:59 PM

    2. I don’t think there are any signs saying “Bus Tunnel”, but the name is still widespread in guidebooks and the media, and even some locals still call it the “bus tunnel”, or don’t recognize it if you call it anything else. Even I probably still say “bus tunnel” sometimes because the name was so ubiquidous for decades.

    3. He mentioned that the tunnel only takes trains now. In general I think he did a very good job of explain all of the different modes. He called the RapidRide an “express”, but in his explanation of it, said it is basically “BRT light” which I think is a better term to use. His critique of various modes seemed pretty reasonable as well. The only bad assumption he made was that things would be the same, or that this is normal. We are still in a pandemic, and the hours of transit have been cut back.

      Probably the biggest difference is the monorail. Not only are the hours cut back (here is an old website of their hours: https://moovitapp.com/index/en/public_transit-line-SEATTLE_MONORAIL-Seattle_Tacoma_Bellevue_WA-522-1921507-32737173-0) but there are improvements being planned. This will make it feel like less of a toy, and merely a highly specialized, but important piece of our transit system.

      Assuming an open jaw is OK, I would probably do the following:

      1) Start with Sounder into town.
      2) Ride the ferry.
      3) Walk to Third and take a regular bus north a few blocks.
      4) Take the 3/4 (a trolley) up to Broadway and Jefferson.
      5) Ride the trolley back towards downtown.
      6) Ride the RapidRide D to the Seattle Center.
      7) Take the monorail back to Westlake.
      8) Ride Link to the UW.

      You could swap the order by doing the ferry later, but this puts the most infrequent trips at the beginning (which makes timing things a lot easier).

      This wouldn’t necessarily be the fastest way to cover a bunch of modes, but I think it gives viewers a better feel of transit in Seattle. By taking a bus up Third Avenue, you show off how fast and frequent surface transit is within downtown Seattle. Likewise, riding the 3/4 up the hill gives you a feel for the different ride of a trolley. Taking the streetcar through that section would be a good demonstration of how the streetcar is more of a toy than the monorail. The D is a popular RapidRide route, and you would get a feel for how the off-board payment system makes things better in an urban environment (where there are lots of people at each bus stop). There is a subtle difference between a regular bus and a RapidRide route (and the RapidRide is definitely not an “express”). You end with Link, and the connection between the two most popular stops (Westlake and the UW).

  3. I’ve got to give a big shoutout to this local bicyclist and Youtuber. His local bike tours are very enjoyable and informative. Some recent videos include: Bellevue’s 108th Ave Corridor Guide. Rhododendron Botanical Garden Tour. South Lake Washington History Ride. Tukwila History Ride. He puts a lot of work into his videos. Maybe someday STB can feature one of his videos.

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5tdUReLNZaZbbL9DygeBKw

  4. Because this guy’s channel is usually about streets and stations, I’m surprised it was just about riding different modes. I found it to be pretty uninteresting and less informative than most of his videos. I expected to see more discussion of streets and stations as well as things like signal priority and street treatments.

    1. I was surprised he focused on a whirlwind tour of modes, but maybe it was a one-time interest. I would have focused on two or three modes and gone a longer distance through more neighborhoods. Although I guess he did get the full underground/surface/elevated experience going from Pioneer Square to TIB. The ferry was probably the highlight of the trip; at least many people think so.

      For a shorter ferry round trip he could have taken the C to Fauntleroy and the Vashon ferry, which is twenty minutes each way. Or the West Seattle water taxi, although that may not be the “ferry” experience he wanted. The Mukilteo-Clinton ferry is only 30 minutes each way and runs every half hour, so it’s best for a quick round trip, but unfortunately it takes a helluva long time to get from Lynnwood Transit Center to the Mukilteo ferry terminal on transit, because the bus is both meandering and infrequent.

      If you take the Bremerton ferry, there’s a nice walk through the small pre-WWII town, and a bridge to the small island Manette with a park. But the ferry ride is a full hour each way and runs only every couple hours.

    2. He’s saving those topics for other videos in his “Seattle series”. You can’t cram every single thing into one video. Very few people would watch it. This one is having a bit of fun. Transit runs like this have a long, established history like the Tube or NYC Subway challenges.

  5. I found his comments on the monorail being dated and rough pretty brutally honest. It really will need some rehab possibly beyond the Current refresh if it is going to get heavier and continuing use. After all, it’s almost 60 years old.

  6. Dave loses time by doing a round-trip ferry ride.

    Given the seven “modes” he mentions (Link, Sounder, RapidRide, regular Metro bus, monorail, streetcar, Washington State Ferry), here’s how my speed run would go:
    1) Start at Westlake and Virginia, ride the streetcar one stop southbound.
    2) Walk to the Westlake monorail station, take the monorail to Seattle Center.
    3) Walk from the monorail station to 5th and Denny, take Metro 3 or 4 (whichever shows up first). Get off at 3rd and Virginia.
    4) Board RapidRide C, D, or E (whichever shows up first). Get off at 3rd and Seneca.
    5) Walk to the University Street station, board Link, get off at Chinatown/ID.
    6) Walk to King Street Station, board the Sounder North, get off at Edmonds.
    7) Walk to the ferry terminal, board the ferry to Kingston.

    The Sounder only runs twice a day so that’s the most time-sensitive piece of this speed run. The last Sounder is scheduled to arrive closer to a ferry sailing than the first one. If both services go according to schedule you’ll leave King Street at 5:35, arrive in Edmonds at 6:02, board the 6:15 ferry and be in Kingston about half an hour later. The question is how fast can you complete the first five steps? All steps are on relatively frequent services, so you could maybe do them all in an hour if the transfers all work out perfectly (a true speed run), but it would be smart to build in some buffer time to ensure you don’t miss the Sounder.

    It would be nice to be able to do the steps in the opposite order, getting the Sounder out of the way toward the beginning and freeing you up to do the rest of the steps as quickly as possible with no need to put in buffer time. Unfortunately the last Sounder inbound arrives downtown at 8:14 AM, nearly three hours before the monorail starts running for the day.

  7. I’m not sure what my favorite transit tour would be, but my favorite bicycle tour that I did several times was: from the northern U-District, ride west on Ravenna Blvd and around north Greenlake, west on the small streets around 73rd to Greenwood, north to 85th, west to where it ends at 32nd Ave NW, north and down the switchback road to Golden Gardens, south along the shore and west to the Ballard Bridge, south to Dravus, east a couple blocks to the Port trail, and down the trail through the waterfront to south Seattle. From there you can go to Alki or make a Costco run (I did the latter and put groceries in my bike rack), and then came back north via 4th Ave S and 4th Ave to Westlake, Valley, Eastlake, and University Way.

    1. I think my favorite transit loop tour is:

      Rapid Ride C – Downtown Seattle to Fauntleroy
      Vashon Ferry
      Metro 118 to Talequah
      Pt. Defiance Ferry
      Walk around Pt. Defiance Park for a good while
      Pierce Transit 11 to Downtown Tacoma
      Tacoma Link to Tacoma Dome
      Sounder to King Street
      Link to wherever you caught the C

      Another nice excursion on a clear day is:
      Downtown Seattle to Edmonds via CT 512 or 511 and CT116 or 196, or Sounder (if they restore the 4:05PM Sounder north)
      WSDOT ferry to Kingston
      Kitsap Fast Ferry to Downtown Seattle

      1. I’ve done this Tacoma loop too, only I walked to downtown Seattle from Magnolia (my friend lived in a 1920s era DADU there) on the bike trail and then took the ferry from Seattle to Vashon Island.

    2. How far asunder can we go and still qualify as a transit loop relevant to this blog?

      I’ve done Seattle-Bainbridge Island – Port Townsend – Fort Casey State Park – Mukilteo – Seattle in a day. Definitely would be faster if Sounder North were bi-directional or if Amtrak stopped in Mukilteo. The lack of coordination between Island Transit 1 and 6 was a bit annoying too.

      It was cheap at the time too. I think the entire loop in 2010 was less than $10.

  8. The Montlake bridge will be closed to traffic for 28 days in August. Is there any chance that Metro will create a reasonable route 255 reroute for Kirkland and S. Kirkland P&R users heading to downtown Seattle? No chance. They’ll be treated to a detour via I-5 through the U-District. It will turn a 20 minute trip into close to an hour long trip.

    I still remember when Metro justified the route 255 redirection by saying that it would make the travel time more reliable. What they have done is made the route largely unusable. There are no platform hour savings with the constant reroutes due to all the different, uncoordinated construction reroutes. And no creativity that says let’s send the 255 to Westlake station or ID station when the 520 bridge or Montlake bridge or Montlake exits are closed. This was totally foreseeable.

    How much of route 255 ridership has vanished? I bet that it’s a lot more than from route 545 even with Microsoft largely closed.

    1. I think much of the closure, the bridge sidewalk is still open, so the bus could just drop off passengers at Montlake and Shelby and U-turn back to Kirkland. Of course, that would take some creativity to pull off which, as you said, Metro doesn’t have.

      That said, as someone who regularly visits the northern half of Seattle but hardly ever goes into downtown anymore, I still prefer the new route.

      My biggest gripe about the 255 now is an overly padded schedule that leaves buses constantly just sitting and waiting every couple of miles, which the Metro beuracracy will likely never even notice, much less fix.

    2. I’ve been on buses that have consumed an hour on I-5 from the ship canal to downtown Seattle. I’m not convinced that’s a superior routing.

      It’s unfortunate they aren’t going to wait a couple months until Northgate Link opens.

      1. The work is weather dependent. They also have times of the year when they can’t work because of salmon runs although I’m not sure if that applies here. Basically it’s now or wait another year. August is the lowest use period. They really can’t do this when UW is in full swing. And, SDOT’s current director is actually an engineer and doesn’t want another West Seattle Bridge debacle. The work is already way overdue.

        The idea of looping up to the surface and doing a U turn sounds very workable but it may run afoul of ADA regulations. And that’s assuming they will even have the bridge open for pedestrian use during all the times the 255 runs. I would expect not.

        The other factor is they are able to accelerate the 520 work by taking advantage of this closure. Yes, it has in the past taken 30 minutes to make the weave and get DT but traffic is still light with people working from home and the usual summer slack. Seems the best workable solution would be to go DT and use the Bus Tunnel, Oh snap, the buses got kicked out.

      2. Someone earlier suggested the 255 could take I-90 and terminate at International District or Stadium station.

      3. ST already has problems with Judkiks Park being closed because of East Link construction. I can’t see how taking the great circle route improves things. Considering the current reality, going DT with the 255 seems to be the best solution. Metro’s routing, pretty much the worst, but safe to prevent lawsuits at all cost?

      4. Bernie: the buses got kicked out because of this ridiculous convention center expansion project, then East Link construction. I’ve yet to hear anyone on here be particularly complimentary about the timing of the convention center project.

        Any chance of getting WSDOT to change what they do with the express lanes for a month? It seems like an outdated concept, as the traffic on the north end always seems much worse in the reverse commute direction. They were set up with a 1960s philosophy when downtown was to be the only business district. Maybe turn them into two direction HOV lanes for a month or something?

        That wouldn’t help the 255 much but it might help a few other routes.

      5. @Glenn,
        I’ve pretty much given up on trying to understand the history. I do think SDOT now has someone in charge that’s competent (for a change). The bike scam artist set the city back years.

        Any chance of getting WSDOT to change what they do with the express lanes for a month?

        not sure what you’re asking. I’m guessing it is about sending the 255 DT? That seems to make sense vs the reroute thru the U-Dsrt. Traffic is light on I-5 and I expect it will continue to be so. WSDOT and Seattle are onboard with this closure accelerating the 520 project overall. I’ve been involved at a technician level with the 520 project and these closures really, help.

      6. Many of the reroutes are evenings and weekends when the I-5 traffic isn’t relevant. And even during peaks I-5 doesn’t add more than a few minutes. It takes like 5 minutes to ride the three long escalators at UW station.

        I’m seeing 255 riders get off at Yarrow Point station and wait for the 545. That costs them 50c more. And that’s when there isn’t a reroute.

        The reasons for the truncation are not adding up. Reliability of the service is way down. Platform hours aren’t being saved. The service is less useful. As ridership returns across the system, the mistake of the 255 truncation should be reversed. It can be revisited when all the construction at Montlake is finished.

      7. The express lanes are changeable direction lanes that dedicate the entire bottom level of the I-5 bridge to one way commuters. This seems to work if everyone who works in downtown Seattle lives in Wallingford. It doesn’t seem to particularly suit today’s travel patterns, especially in an era when so much former office work is being done from home.

        Converting those into something that goes both directions all day (it’s multiple lanes wide after all) might help reduce the mess seen by buses on the upper deck. Not sure how much the 255 and other 520 buses would be helped, but the cascading effect of traffic not using the Montlake bridge moving to others might be, and congestion there shifting to I-5?

        Either way, the current express lane arrangement seems very outdated for the current traffic needs.

      8. “It can be revisited when all the construction at Montlake is finished.”

        But, we all know that won’t happen. There’s just too much inertia and political process in changing bus routes. In practice, if the 255 reverts now, 20 years later, when the downtown offices are full again and COVID is long gone, buses will still be crawling in traffic on I-5 and a trip to north Seattle will require either a downtown detour or long wait at Yarrow Point or Evergreen Point for the 542. When someone in 2040 suggests a truncation, Metro officials will reply “20 years ago, we tried that and it didn’t work”.

      9. “It can be revisited when all the construction at Montlake is finished.”

        I sure hope it is. With the new “flyer stop” on the lid and the extension to DT without having to get on I-5 (not Montlake but part of the Rest of the West) it makes a lot more sense to go DT than crawl through the Montlake muddle. But I don’t thing that’s scheduled to be done for another 8-10 years. What’s the longest transfer time at Montlake during say7am-6pm? Hopefully they turn the ramps at Montlake into HOT lanes.

      10. The “the extension to DT without having to get on I-5” would apply only in the westbound direction and only during morning rush hour. There is no planned HOV ramp to the lid in the eastbound direction, so to serve it, the bus would have to fight the general purpose traffic in the Montlake exit ramp (which is usually worse eastbound than westbound). Even westbound, the bus would still have to slog it out on I-5 when the express lanes aren’t open. And, even when the express lanes are open, the bus would have to sit 20 minutes in line at the exit ramp from the express lanes to Stewart St., like the 510/511 and other buses have had to do for decades.

        By contrast, the Link connection is only going to get easier with time. The HOV exit ramp to the lid will get buses out of the worst of the traffic. And, after dropping people off, the train to downtown will run all day every 5 minutes instead of every 10.

      11. By contrast, the Link connection is only going to get easier with time. The HOV exit ramp to the lid will get buses out of the worst of the traffic.

        Not only that, but there will be HOV lanes all the way to the Montlake bridge. This means that a bus will get right to the front, even when the bridge has been open for a while. This will be much faster than today.

        The savings will be significant, and since the UW is a major destination, that is the way to go. Otherwise frequency would be reduced significantly, while a lot of riders go back to schlepping their way from the Montlake bus stop to the UW.

        This is really a temporary problem, and I agree with some of the other comments — I could definitely see sending the bus downtown until the mess is over. But I wouldn’t make that change permanent. The only buses going downtown should be rush-hour only buses (if that).

  9. Portlandia is the whitest major city in the U. S. The most harmful policy for Black and minority groups in Portland has been gentrification. Gentrification which is the spawn of upzoning has actually forced Black and minority groups and businesses out of Portland. Now there are no black businesses in Portland to throw a dead possum into. Some progress.

    1. Portlandia is the whitest major city in the U. S.
      I don’t believe that’s true and fail to see how it has anything to do with discussion.

    2. Portland has done far, far less upzoning than Seattle, which is the root of the problem. With the population in the area continuing to increase and all except a few small areas unchanged from single family home zoning, a premium price is being paid for what housing is in Portland. If you can’t afford those premium prices, then you have to move out.

      In many cases, affordable houses are being replaced with much larger homes, but with the same single families as before — just with a lot higher price paid.

      It might be even worse if we had market rate property taxes as Washington does. However, the current proprietary tax relief system undervalues land so huge new houses on urban lots are cheaper.

    3. What people decry as “gentrification” is really just econ 101 and Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand. Protesting gentrification is about as useful as trying to protest the laws of gravity. Even without upzoning, gentrification would happen anyway. The only difference would whether each current house gets replaced with one big house or several smaller ones.

      The argument I especially can’t stand is the attitude of “my neighborhood is a dump; to keep it cheap, my neighborhood must always remain a dump; therefore, anything that improves my neighborhood, from bike lanes to parks to street trees, I must oppose”. This attitude in particular, leads to a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you don’t result. Invest in black/brown neighborhoods, that’s racist because you’re contributing to gentrification. Don’t, that’s racist because only the white neighborhoods get investment. So, the only the only “fair” way to do it is to not invest in any neighborhood, and turn the whole city a dump. Sorry, but this whole line of reasoning, I simply don’t buy.

      1. Yeah the anti-gentrification talking points you mention have always struck me as being super fatalistic. I kind of get it. If you can’t afford nice things, people coming in and making things nicer in your neighborhood means you very well might not be able to afford it anymore. Can’t we focus on making sure people can afford nice things, rather than stopping people from making things nicer?

    4. Seattle was the whitest major city for decades, so if Portland is now first, Seattle is probably second.

      1. Depends on how you define major city. If you go for +100,000 then it’s not even close. Spokane and Boise have a larger white % than Seattle or Portland by a wide margin. Eugene has a greater % of white population than Portland. Portland ME has a much higher % of white population than Portland OR.

        Welcome to City-Data

        If you narrow the definition of major city to +500,000 Portland might come out on top. But then you’re saying places like Salt Lake aren’t a major city.

      2. The same website shows some interesting numbers:

        White alone: Seattle is towards the top, but there are plenty of cities above us, including Portland.

        Black alone: We are towards the bottom, but again, Portland is below us.

        Two or more races: We are towards the top, with Portland lagging not that far behind. Honolulu, of course, is well represented by its native son, Obama.

        None of this should be too surprising. The cities that have a large African American community were either former slave cities, or part of the great African American diaspora. Seattle is a West Coast city, with a strong Asian American population, although not as strong as cities that grew when Asian and African Americans built the railroads (and “settled” the West).

        In my opinion — and I want to emphasize this, since I am no expert on Portland — Seattle did a much better job of overcoming Jim Crow in the late ’60s and ’70s. There was a concerted effort by various leaders (religious and academic) to improve things, and I think it paid off. The schools in the ghetto didn’t suck — in fact quite the opposite. Money was spent on education, which then attracted people from white, highly educated areas (Montlake) which then lead to a highly educated urban population, and plenty of mixing. At the same time, the leaders from the churches and other non-profits wouldn’t let the “slums” get slummy. From what I can tell, Portland had worse problems in that regard (which might explain their lower mixed race numbers).

        More recently, software had a profound demographic effect on the city, as it is now a lot younger, male, and white than it would be if Boeing was still the biggest employer.

    5. There are two kinds of gentrification. One is when a few buildings in one neighborhood are upgraded and attract more affluent residents that displace previous residents, while surrounding neighborhoods remain unaffected. Some say this is the only proper definition of gentrification.

      The other kind is when an entire metropolitan area gets more expensive, and that’s what’s happening in Seattle. You can’t just stop it by keeping zoning low or having a building moratorium, prices will rise anyway. You may be able to slow it down temporarily, as Seattle is doing with Rainier Beach. But you can’t keep those prices low forever. Not if people are still moving to the region and many are more affluent than existing residents.

  10. What has been happening in Portland? For decades it’s had a larger presence of white power and anti-racist activists than Seattle, more prone to demonstrations and violence. So it was natural that the demonstrations would flare up after the police killings last year, and last for months and months in downtown Portland. How long did large nightly demonstrations last, or are they still going on? How much did the city defund the police?

    I’m trying to figure out how much of the rise in homicides is due to a shrinking police force, vs the pandemic, vs other reasons.

    1. Mike Orr, the presence and attitudes of the protesters you mention is not that much different between Seattle and Portland. Portland Antifa/BLM protesters were more aggressive in 2020 because the Portland Police were more aggressive in their response to the protests, essentially adding fuel to the fire. And while Patriot Prayer/Proud Boy members are more vocal in Portland, they’re more active up here. In 2019 they lead an armed forced of over 50 men with AR15s from Westlake up to Cal Anderson Park to violently disrupt Trans Pride through force of arms. The only thing that stopped them was a last minute call from Durkan to the SPD saying they had permission to use anti-riot tactics to stop them.

      The difference between Seattle and Portland in many metrics (including African American population statistics) is often a percentage point or less. Despite the sibling rivalry, in reality they are sister cities.

    2. The Proud Boys just started a few years ago. I’m talking about a persistent trend from the 80s through the 10s, many of them not members of any of the big-name groups. Yes, they are probably more numerous in Pugetopolis because the total population and job opportunities are higher but they tend to lie low here, whereas in Portland they may be numerically smaller but louder. That’s doubtless why the Proud Boys went to Portland for their demonstration.

    3. So far, there really hasn’t been any changes here in terms of the police funding. There’s been noise, but that’s it.

      Based on comments I get in phone conversations with people outside the northwest, apparently Faux News says downtown Portland is a smoking hellhole ruin or something?

      These are photos of our local anarchist smoking hellhole or whatever that I took a few days ago. As you can see, it didn’t quite look like the bombing of Dresden or whatever:
      https://mobile.twitter.com/LeftCoastLeftst/status/1398112008961105922

      Most of the safety complaints I’ve heard have to do with the homeless encampments, and nothing to do with the protests.

      The protests do still happen, for various things.

      1. Didn’t Mayor Ted Wheeler declare a state of emergency on April 20, and then extend that state of emergency on April 23, due to riots and damage to downtown businesses? I thought there had been something like 90 straight nights of downtown protests and/or riots.

        Has the state of emergency been lifted and the protests/riots ended?

        My wife and I in the past enjoyed taking the train to Portland for a weekend of shopping. I think Portland did a much better job than Seattle of maintaining its historic architecture and downtown charm.

      2. It has kept its historic architecture better. I’ve long noticed that Portland, Tacoma, and Spokane have kept a lot of their 19th and early 20th century buildings while in Seattle it seems like most of it has been torn down.

        However, Portland has stronger concentrations of visible homeless and drug addicts than Seattle does, especially on parts of Burnside Street. Seattle’s tents may have gotten more prolific in the past year, but it’s deeper and sadder and there are more intense scammers in Portland.

      3. The police wound up declaring a riot a few nights back, but the protests have been mostly peaceful since the federal goon squad (who tear gassed Ted Wheeler while he was making a speech to try to reduce the violence at the protests. The majority of the violent activity was around the federal courthouse. Once Trump’s goon squad went away, so did the vast majority of the violence.

        The big problem the businesses face is the mass conversion of retail to online. Our downtown is still very much a relic of 1970s thinking. Some 45% of downtown land is devoted to parking, so the mixture of residential, parking, retail and office space isn’t quite as good as it is in Seattle. Places with less land devotion to parking and more orientation on residential and businesses that appeal to nearby residents (Hawthorne, Belmont, Sellwood, St Johns, Alberta, etc) are doing fine. Places based around national department stores as anchors and attracting lots of long distance driving (downtown, Clackamas Town Center mall, Lloyd Center mall) seem to be doing quite badly. I’m hoping that the current situation will allow downtown to reorient its land uses. Converting some of the parking garages to residential is really our only hope of accommodating population growth, as so much of the rest of town seems frozen in amber.

        We’ve a few of the historic buildings downtown, but unlike Seattle no historical district protects them and several get demolished every year. A few places in Seattle have preserved the antique storefront shell while putting a new building inside, but nobody seems to have done that here.

      4. Apologies for the extra italics. Apparently the {I} tag to create them works, but the {/I} to end them doesn’t?

      5. It is very easy to make a mistake with closing tags. I do it about 10% of the time. There are a lot of ways of making the mistake. Maybe you used the wrong letter, forgot the slash, used a backslash instead of a slash , or had the order wrong (). All are easy to do.

  11. How many modes of public transportation has anyone taken with their dog? All 3 counties can be included in the answer. So far I have only tried a KCM bus. Local run only. And I did it after 9pm when there were not many passengers to make sure he would behave and not bother others. Kind of a test run. I have brought him on a ferry, but I was driving and let him walk on the upper car deck. Not sure that really counts. I would like to take him up to the the sun deck on the second pedestrian floor. My undetstanding is that is ok.

  12. I’m curious if anyone has ideas for other kinds of Seattle transit challenges they would design. A Tube Challenge on Link would be pretty boring with their being only one line. One could do it with RapidRide, but that would involve a whole lot of annoying dead-heading. Maybe visiting each Link station without riding Link? Going to and changing routes in each council district?

    1. Tube challenge only with the trolley bus lines?
      Bonus if you can figure out how to work in as much irregular service wire as possible, such as the rarely used link between the north end of the 1 and 2?

      1. I thought it also used that section on some really late night Sunday trips or something, but that might have gone away with the badly needed night owl restructuring.

    2. My favorite challenge sadly is no more. It was basically a Convention Place to University Street Station run. I found that if I just missed my bus at CPS, I could navigate the timing of the lights in downtown while at a healthy jog and catch it at USS.

  13. That homeless hotel in Renton is a success. ($) “[Shantell Neal] Duncan started last year living at the Downtown Emergency Service Center’s Queen Anne shelter, but when the pandemic broke out he, along with more than 200 others, were moved to the Renton hotel. The two environments, he said, are night and day. He is less stressed by the stability of having his own personal space, knowing his things are protected and having more time to organize his life. The setting also enabled him to get a job at the Walmart store less than half a mile away.”

    So one person at the hotel is a Renton worker.

    “Dr. Russell Berg, a Harborview doctor who once paid weekly visits to the Downtown Emergency Service Center’s main shelter and now treats patients on-site at the Red Lion full time, said he’s seen changes in patients here that are nothing short of transformative…. At the hotel, which allows people to stay 24/7, people can elevate their limbs, allowing injuries to heal, wash regularly and obtain the medications Berg prescribes. With on-site laundry service, private bathrooms, medication delivery and an on-site clinic, Berg said he’s watched a number of his patients go back into the workforce. This kind of shelter, he said, became “a great enabler of stability.””

    The article says there’s a K-shaped trend in homeless outcomes. Those who were in shelters got access to hotels and more services and are having more success putting their lives back together. Those who weren’t in shelters are mostly shut out of services that were closed or downsized in the pandemic, and are spiraling down.

    “Andrea Longino falls into the second camp. She started out 2020 living in an RV in West Seattle, but as chaos in her life spun new turns during the pandemic, she found herself sleeping in a tent for the first time. Nearly overnight, the in-person counseling Longino once relied on went remote and the library computers she used to try and organize her life were inaccessible. Public buildings and Starbucks locked their doors and largely stayed that way, so she still struggles to find restrooms. Her mental health has suffered because of these added stressors, Longino said. And over the last year, she’s watched people like her pushed into even more extreme circumstances. “It’s like they’ve taken everything that people need in order to function away,””

    So one person who didn’t want to be in a tent is in one anyway. If this is typical, it flies in the face of the idea that people are in tents by choice so it’s OK to just sweep the tents away.

    “Last fall, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced a “shelter surge” that would open three new hotels to people who weren’t already inside, intended as a potential pipeline to a wave of new supportive housing being created this year. So far, two hotels have opened, and the city intends to open three new tiny house villages this summer. Last month, King County Executive Dow Constantine declared an ambitious $100 million plan to bring in 500 people off the street by year’s end and recently announced a plan to buy hotels to turn into housing for 1,600 people.”

    Good for taking steps to add more temporary housing. Even if it’s not enough, it’s a step in the right direction.

    1. So one person who didn’t want to be in a tent is in one anyway. If this is typical, it flies in the face of the idea that people are in tents by choice so it’s OK to just sweep the tents away.

      It is typical. According to a survey, 98% of people living in tents said that they would move into safe and affordable housing if available: http://archive.kuow.org/post/6-pictures-show-what-homelessness-looks-2018

      This idea that “people want to be homeless” is just another bullshit excuse to do nothing. Of course there are a few, but that’s not the main problem. https://theconversation.com/four-myths-about-homelessness-voices-from-a-tent-city-96943.

      Here is an article by CBS News about the subject: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/homeless-in-america-the-issues-forcing-people-in-seattle-onto-the-street-60-minutes-2019-12-01/. I encourage everyone to read the whole thing, but here is a good quote:

      Dennis Culhane, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has been researching homelessness for 35 years. He doesn’t believe drug addiction and mental illness explain why there’s been a recent rise in the number of unsheltered people.

      Anderson Cooper: Why is this happening?

      Dennis Culhane: The best evidence we have is that it’s the real estate market. You have a lot of wealthier individuals, especially in places like Seattle, who are driving up the price of housing and there’s just not enough housing to filter down to the lower income people.

      Obviously the pandemic has made things worse. But the evidence is clear. It has nothing to do with drug use, mental illness, or a preference to live in a tent next to the freeway. It has everything to do with the high cost of housing. This is why I believe that zoning (which pushes up the cost of market rate housing) is the biggest reason we have so many homeless.

      The city (and county) seem to be on the right track (from what I can tell) but they got a really late start dealing with the problem. It does appear that we are taking a coordinated “housing first” strategy, but we are playing catch-up. You can see this in the timeline: https://regionalhomelesssystem.org/about-us/background/. Houston was doing similar work about ten years ago, and we just started.

      Unless the cost of rent comes down, we will have a lot more homeless than most of the country. Unless we change the zoning, we are going to have to spend a lot more money than other cities to deal with the problem.

    2. I believe the Renton City Council passed legislation a few months ago that terminates the hotel in Renton this June. According to the press reports, chaos within the hotel and crime in the surrounding neighborhood led citizens to demand an end to the hotel. As far as I know no other eastside city has permitted such a hotel since then. Many thought King Co.’s pilot program was a disaster, and was poorly coordinated with eastside cities.

      The Renton hotel was the pilot program for King Co.’s plan to use the 1/10th of one percent sales tax increase to buy distressed hotels (including outside Seattle) to house the homeless. Most eastside cities did not see the hotel as a success, and I believe every eastside city other than Mercer Island opted to allocate the tax increase revenue from their jurisdiction to their own housing programs rather than give it to King Co. (Since King Co. failed to enact the tax by Sept. 30 cities were allowed to opt out under the state legislation allowing the 1/10th of one percent tax increase).

      The original paradigm was a congregate shelter (mat or cot), then enhanced shelter room, to subsidized housing, to ideally non-subsidized housing. For example, ARCH on the eastside still follows this paradigm, which means its main focus is affordable, not emergency, housing because the homeless need to migrate to non-emergency housing at some point. Since its inception ARCH has created around 4500 affordable housing units, for all levels of AMI.

      The benefits of this paradigm are cost, the ability to handle many more homeless (which was affected by Covid-19 which has led to more homeless on the street), and an ability to determine those homeless who are willing to treat for addiction or mental health issues before giving them an enhanced shelter room, which will determine which homeless have the chance to migrate to some kind of AMI subsidized housing.

      The downside is it takes time, and what to do with those who don’t want to treat for addiction, live inside, or treat for mental health. There is also the issue that when first entering a congregate shelter a homeless person loses many of their possessions, has little privacy, and can feel unsafe, and so this first step is a big one, and many think living in a tent is more attractive.

      A new paradigm begun by Seattle homeless advocates and King Co. is to begin with housing, effectively skipping to the enhanced shelter room as the first stage. There are benefits, as noted in Mike’s post, and it removes the homeless from the streets immediately, which is a critical focus for Seattle.

      The problem is cost. A shelter cot or mat costs around $3000/year, and an enhanced shelter room costs around $17,000/year, while King Co. today is spending around $65,000/year for each hotel room it leases for a homeless person. As the Renton hotel highlighted, placing 220 untreated homeless persons without much screening into a single building will come with issues, including for the surrounding neighborhoods. Mike highlights two success stories out of 220 homeless in the hotel.

      If you house 11,000 Seattle homeless at $65,000/year (not including medical, treatment, food, etc.) forever it is just not affordable. Whether you subscribe to the first paradigm of shelter cot to enhanced room, or the second in which housing precedes treatment, there is only enough money and hotel rooms if the homeless (at least a majority) become sober, healthy, and migrate to some kind of 0+ AMI housing.

      Seattle citizens will have the opportunity this fall to vote on the Charter Amendment. The claimed numbers and goals are wildly unrealistic, but what is not is the fact the amendment will require Seattle to place 12% of its general fund revenue for the next five or six years towards housing the homeless, and essentially allocate all affordable housing to emergency housing. And even then it is not nearly enough.

      Seattle citizens have decided in the past to pursue expensive transit projects, waterfront parks, bike paths and sidewalks, convention center remodels, equity funding, and avoiding bridge repair. Other than avoiding bridge repair these are worthy things for a vibrant city to focus on, especially if tourism (including conventions) is a major revenue source. All of these items have their vocal advocates, and none want to reallocate their funding for emergency housing, except the number of homeless in Seattle has reach some pretty scary numbers.

      In the end, as always, one interest that benefits significantly from the Charter Amendment is the vast homeless industry. As always, the one interest that suffers significant are the other, less poor, poor.

      The Charter Amendment, or any huge expenditure by Seattle at this time to house the homeless in hotels, will simply reallocate funding for 30%, 50% and 70% AMI housing, which is counterproductive because the few success stories from the homeless hotels don’t want to live there forever, they want to migrate to an actual subsidized apartment or unit, except the funding won’t be there for them to leave the hotel no matter how sober, based on their income working at Walmart, which is probably the ceiling for their AMI.

      The irony is some of the most vocal proponents of housing the homeless are like A Joy the ones who will end up disadvantaged the most, because her chance at 0% — 50% AMI housing will evaporate because the funding will go into emergency housing for the homeless (less a cut for the homeless industry of course) in hotel rooms costing $5000/month. Unless of course she becomes homeless and pitches a tent on 2nd Ave. and goes to the top of the list.

      Personally I don’t think many Seattle progressives truly understand the costs we are talking about to house the homeless, some forever, and once they do understand the cuts necessary to reallocate 12% of Seattle’s general fund revenue each year to emergency housing will object, especially if it begins to cut into their cherished interests, and the biggest interest funding-wise is transit.

      1. To sum up the article. In outdoor homeless encampments, many of the homeless are drug addicts.

      2. “In the end, as always, one interest that benefits significantly from the Charter Amendment is the vast homeless industry. As always, the one interest that suffers significant are the other, less poor, poor.”

        Funny. Most homeless NPOs, including the majority that were listed on the Charter Amendment’s web page as supporters, have come out against the Charter Amendment. Primarily for its support of homeless sweeps. You’d think if they benefitted from it so much, they’d at least support it.

  14. “Obviously the pandemic has made things worse. But the evidence is clear. It has nothing to do with drug use, mental illness, or a preference to live in a tent next to the freeway. It has everything to do with the high cost of housing. This is why I believe that zoning (which pushes up the cost of market rate housing) is the biggest reason we have so many homeless.”

    “Unless the cost of rent comes down, we will have a lot more homeless than most of the country. Unless we change the zoning, we are going to have to spend a lot more money than other cities to deal with the problem.”

    I would disagree to the extent that drug use and addiction, mental illness, and a preference to live in a tent are major factors in homelessness, and it would be a mistake to design a housing program that did not take these issues into account, or assume the homeless are blameless for their homelessness. There are a hell of a lot of needles and syringes in these tent encampments, and holding down a job and paying rent is difficult if you are addicted to heroin. A major function of shelters in addiction and mental health treatment.

    The cost of housing is a factor I believe in creating homelessness (including gentrification), but hoping zoning changes will solve current homelessness is a cure cities like because it costs them nothing, but solves little homelessness.

    First, rents are not coming down in Seattle, and zoning won’t change that because upzoning requires new construction which is the least affordable if not publicly subsidized. Builders and developers want to build the most expensive construction the neighborhood will support because it increases their profit.

    Second, even if there was some moderation in the increase in rents from upzoning, or even a flatlining, you are talking about zero AMI housing for the homeless, and rents are not going to zero. I agree the cost to house zero AMI folks, or even 30% to 50% AMI folks, increases for the city that must subsidize that housing because it must compete for the same land and construction materials/labor, but upzoning as a cure for homelessness is a myth (just like it is to manufacture ridership for transit), which is why Seattle will continue to see housing prices and rents rise in the future for non-subsidized housing. The wealth disparity in Seattle (and IMO the housing investment trusts) are the real issues for high rents.

    If the solution to homelessness is upzoning and waiting for new construction to lower rents to the point 0% (homeless), or 30% or 50% AMI tenants, can afford a unit without public subsidies we will be waiting at least 20 years for that new “affordable” construction, and probably forever.

    Housing costs and rents in Seattle are going up, upzoning or no upzoning, so the solution for homelessness better not count on upzoning creating affordable housing, let alone zero AMI housing. Few places are as dense or expensive as Manhattan, or have as many homeless. If only upzoning was the cure. But it isn’t.

    1. I would disagree …
      [… giving no evidence to support my case, but spending paragraphs repeating arguments that Ross shot down with ample evidence. ]

      Look, dude, we know you like to write. But maybe you should research a subject a little bit, rather than just “going with your gut”.

      Here is repeat of the studies and reports I cited:

      Rental costs being the primary factor for homelessness:

      https://dupagehomeless.org/research-demonstrates-connection-between-housing-affordability-homelessness/
      https://theconversation.com/four-myths-about-homelessness-voices-from-a-tent-city-96943
      https://www.cbsnews.com/news/homeless-in-america-the-issues-forcing-people-in-seattle-onto-the-street-60-minutes-2019-12-01/

      The relationship between market rate housing and rental costs (and thus zoning and costs):

      https://www.lewis.ucla.edu/research/market-rate-development-impacts/

      Just because the situation is complicated (i. e. multi-factorial) doesn’t mean there isn’t a straight forward solution:

      1) Change the zoning to reduce housing costs.
      2) Do what Houston did to deal with homelessness (https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2019/1118/Houston-we-have-a-solution-How-the-city-curbed-homelessness). We are actually doing a lot of that, but we got a late start, and NIMBYs (in places like Renton) are delaying progress.

    2. “I would disagree to the extent that drug use and addiction, mental illness, and a preference to live in a tent are major factors in homelessness…”

      Yes, we get that you disagree. But the data shows that your opinion is wrong. Especially when it comes to mental illness, as the rates of mental illness are only 20% higher among the homeless when compared to the population at large. But preference to live in a tent? That’s such an insignificant fraction of people it isn’t even worth mentioning.

      “There are a hell of a lot of needles and syringes in these tent encampments, and holding down a job and paying rent is difficult if you are addicted to heroin.”

      You really seem to be fixated on heroin and needles for some reason, which is kind of weird. Meth is much more popular on the streets than heroin, after all. And heroin is much easier to smoke than it is to inject. Every time you bring up heroin, syringes, and needles, I feel like you’re dredging up some childhood memory of an 80’s or 90’s DARE video. It really shows how out of touch and stereotyping you really are on the subject.

      1. “The Roots of Seattle’s Homelessness Crisis”:

        “Drug overdose is currently the leading cause of death among people who are homeless. In King County, more people enter detox for heroin than they do alcohol. In 2014, the 156 opiate overdose deaths were the highest ever recorded in King County – more than triple the number of deaths in 2009. More than 3,600 people received methadone treatment in King County, but our region’s lack of treatment capacity leaves more than 150 people on a waitlist each day. Washington State ranks 47th in the nation for psychiatric beds per capita.”

        http://www.seattle.gov/homelessness/the-roots-of-the-crisis

        ————————————————————————-

        “Homelessness and Addiction”

        “On any given night in January 2019, 567,715 people didn’t have a place to call home. According to HUD’s Annual Point-in-Time Count, that means 17 out of every 10,000 Americans are homeless. Unfortunately, homelessness and addiction often go together.

        For example, some studies show around 40% of the homeless population struggle with alcohol misuse. Furthermore, over 26% struggle with homelessness and drug misuse. Mental illness also affects homelessness and addiction more than the average American. ”

        https://sanalake.com/addiction-resources/homelessness-and-addiction/

        ——————————————————————————-

        “The Complex Link Between Homelessness and Mental Health”:

        “KEY POINTS”

        “An estimated 20 to 25 percent of the U.S. homeless population suffers from severe mental illness, compared to 6 percent of the general public.

        “The combination of mental illness, substance abuse, and poor physical health makes it difficult to maintain employment and residential stability.

        “Better mental health services would combat not only mental illness but homelessness as well.”

        https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mind-matters-menninger/202105/the-complex-link-between-homelessness-and-mental-health

        ———————————————————————————

        A Joy has been challenged on several occasions to cite the sources for her claims about homelessness/addiction/mental illness on The Urbanist, and has always refused, claiming she is not Google. What is the point of claiming Meth is now more popular than heroin, or it is easier to smoke heroin than inject it (with or without citation). It is the ADDICTION, not form of addiction, that is the issue in addressing homelessness.

        There is a reason King Co. has a needle exchange program.
        https://kingcounty.gov/depts/health/communicable-diseases/hiv-std/patients/drug-use-harm-reduction/needle-exchange.aspx

        What I am fixated on is finding a solution to homelessness, and if we bury our heads in the sand about mental health, and drug/alcohol addiction, we will never find the solution. The point isn’t that the homeless are bad people because they are addicted or have severe mental illness, the point is they DO have addictions and severe mental illness, which in large part is why they cannot earn an income and afford housing.

        To deny this dooms any solution before we even begin. Yes, more publicly subsidized housing will be necessary, and expensive, especially if the goal is simply to give a hotel room or apartment to an addict for the rest of their lives, or neglect to treat the mental illness. Being a housed heroin or meth addict isn’t a great life either.

      2. “Drug overdose is currently the leading cause of death among people who are homeless. In King County, more people enter detox for heroin than they do alcohol. In 2014, the 156 opiate overdose deaths were the highest ever recorded in King County – more than triple the number of deaths in 2009. More than 3,600 people received methadone treatment in King County, but our region’s lack of treatment capacity leaves more than 150 people on a waitlist each day.”

        That’s a lot of conflation and false equivalence there. Most alcoholics don’t think they have an addiction problem, so they don’t seek help. You cited an earlier source that claimed substance abuse was the cause of death in approximately 1/3rd of homeless deaths. This is unsurprising, as drug abuse is present in about 30-34% of the homeless population. Still an unacceptably high number, but also still a vast minority of cases.

        Opiate overdoses are not automatically heroin overdoses. Opiates are a large family of chemicals, including many that are still used today for chronic pain. But here, both you and the author disingenuously imply that every opiate death is due solely to heroin. Likewise, methadone is used to treat all forms of opiate addiction.

        “For example, some studies show around 40% of the homeless population struggle with alcohol misuse. Furthermore, over 26% struggle with homelessness and drug misuse. Mental illness also affects homelessness and addiction more than the average American. ”

        These are not local statistics. A simple Google search for the local statistics will show significantly lower numbers. Alcohol is also considered a drug for purposes of these studies, so the use of “Furthermore” is incredibly misleading.

        “An estimated 20 to 25 percent of the U.S. homeless population suffers from severe mental illness, compared to 6 percent of the general public.”

        This is simply incorrect. NAMI lists the number of people in the US with a mental illness at 20.6%, and Psychology Today lists it about 25%.

        https://www.nami.org/mhstats

        https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/when-your-adult-child-breaks-your-heart/201512/untreated-mental-illness?amp

        “A Joy has been challenged on several occasions to cite the sources for her claims about homelessness/addiction/mental illness on The Urbanist, and has always refused, claiming she is not Google.”

        This is also factually incorrect. One single person has requested I provide sources, hardly a “repeated challenge” and more of a “squeaky wheel”. And much like I just did above with you, a simple Google search reveals the truth. I am not a teacher or a student. I correct inaccuracies as I see them and at my leisure. I am required to do nothing.

        “What is the point of claiming Meth is now more popular than heroin, or it is easier to smoke heroin than inject it (with or without citation). It is the ADDICTION, not form of addiction, that is the issue in addressing homelessness.”

        You. You are the point. You claim that needles litter the city streets all over the place. You are the one making about needles and tents, not drug abuse and the housing crisis.

        “What I am fixated on is finding a solution to homelessness, and if we bury our heads in the sand about mental health, and drug/alcohol addiction, we will never find the solution.”

        Then why bring up needles and syringes constantly? Or at all? Emergency housing lowers addiction rates. People who get off the streets no longer have to turn to drugs to deal with their constant state of existence. This is well studied. The suction to homelessness, that being housing, is how you address/solve the issue of drug use and mental illness. You’ve put the cart before the horse.

        “Being a housed heroin or meth addict isn’t a great life either.”

        Very true. But it is orders of magnitude times easier to have the will, means, and time to fight one’s addiction or mental illness when one has a stable roof over their head. This is why housing first works, and why it is desperately needed. To provide people with the lack of constant distress they need so that they can begin to improve themselves.

  15. Ross, you wrote:

    “But the evidence is clear. It [homelessness] has nothing to do with drug use, mental illness, or a preference to live in a tent next to the freeway. It has everything to do with the high cost of housing.”

    I didn’t want to say it in my original post because you are somewhat sensitive, but this may be the stupidest comment on homelessness I have read. Yes, of course housing costs are a factor in causing homelessness (you really don’t need to cite to some internet article you found to prove that), but do you really believe addiction and mental illness have nothing to do with homelessness, and rehousing the homeless? Why do you think shelters provide addiction and mental health treatment, or the hotel in Renton has onsite treatment for both. BECAUSE YOU NEED SOME INCOME IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE HOMELESS.

    Do you really think any city including Seattle can afford to just give anyone a free place to live, forever, without that person migrating to some kind of work and subsidized housing in the 30% to 70% AMI range, or requiring sobriety and mental health treatment? The entire shelter paradigm is based on migration, so new homeless have an opportunity, because resources are limited.

    Look, I get it: you hate SFH zoning, probably because you think it is elitist. So you think eliminating SFH zoning will solve global warming, create wealth equity, manufacture the ridership estimates ST made when selling ST 2 and 3, cure homelessness, cure cancer, create an urbanist utopia despite the fact it is hollowing out our downtown core, lower rents and housing prices, and solve just about every other problem we have.

    One of the problems with addressing complex issues like global warming or homelessness is folks who propose their pet ideology as the cure to every problem. Upzoning our residential neighborhoods is not going to solve homelessness I am sorry to inform you, one because it won’t lower rents, and two because it won’t lower rents to zero.

    Do you understand emergency housing for the homeless is so expensive (just for the housing) because they have no income to contribute? The rental rates in the city are irrelevant when it comes to rehousing the homeless in emergency housing, and many will never have a residual wage earning capacity.

    Since the issue for you is just one of “affordable” housing (without discussing the level of AMI subsidy) can you maybe give me a timeline when the new construction from upzoning in Seattle will begin to lower rental rates and the homeless will abandon our streets for market rate apartments, even though most homeless have no retained residual wage earning capacity, and need 0% AMI housing? 20 years? 30 years? 40 years? The answer is never.

    Affordable and emergency housing require public subsidies, but the financial recourses are limited, and I think that is the fundamental thing you don’t’ understand. Upzoning increases underlying land prices, and incentivizes new and expensive construction. Upzoning through gentrification actually causes homelessness and displacement. But you don’t see that because your pet ideology is eliminating SFH zones, so SFH zones must be the cause of every problem, and the solution, and few things are worse than chasing the wrong solution even though you want it to be the solution.

    1. “One of the problems with addressing complex issues like global warming or homelessness is folks who propose their pet ideology as the cure to every problem.”

      Given your ideology is the cause of all of those problems, I’m not inclined to view your “more of the same” answers to them as anything but nonstarters.

      Systemic change is coming, whether you like it or not.

      1. What is the systemic change you are talking about Ness? And what is it designed to address?

        Are you talking about the Charter Amendment to address homelessness? I personally don’t support dedicating 12% of Seattle’s general fund towards emergency housing on top of the 1/10th of 1% sales tax increase, but that is up to Seattle voters. I also worry about giving so much more money to the same folks who have done a pretty awful job solving homelessness in this area so far despite the huge sums spent. For example, Share Wheel has not moved a single participant into permanent housing, I think the situation in Seattle has reached a point in which it will be very difficult to remove the homeless from streets and parks, and as I have posted before Seattleites just need to learn to live with it, like I have in Pioneer Square over 30 years. Right now east and west King Co. are too divided over this issue to expect any County wide solution.

        Is it creating a light rail spine from Everett to Tacoma to Redmond that will cost $90 billion through 2041, and have $4 one way fares? Personally I thought that was too expensive, and serves areas that don’t have sufficient ridership to support the cost of light rail (and ironically will leave out some areas that arguably do, like Graham Street, 130th, First Hill, West Seattle and Ballard). But it doesn’t really affect me (except for the taxes), and first/last mile access will be strained in some of these less dense areas. I will be able to walk from my home to a light rail station, so let’s see how it turns out.

        Is it Seattle Subway’s plan for a subway system throughout King Co.? Seems a little expensive to me.

        Is it upzoning residential neighborhoods in Seattle? I don’t know what the intent is. Mild upzones of the residential neighborhoods seems to me to deurbanize the downtown core, and its retail. It won’t create affordable housing, or result in lower rents or housing prices (you should understand that by now if you pay rent). Will it affect me? No. In fact I just received notice my house increased in value $300,000 last year, or nearly $10,000/day. I think that is wrong, and support affordable housing, but if market based in a high income city — whether Seattle or San Francisco — that is very difficult, and if publicly subsidized very expensive, depending on which paradigm you use. Upzone my property to multi-family and I will make a million dollars as soon as the new zone is completed.

        Are you talking about systemic changes to the wealth gap, which I think is a huge problem? In fact, the pandemic exacerbated the divide, and the stock market is at all time highs, with record untaxed and unrealized gains for some, but not for most. Washington State passed a capital gains tax with a floor of $250,000/year aimed at one person, Jeff Bezos, who I believe has already changed his residency to Texas, and my guess is it will be struck down by the courts or repealed through an initiative. Historically the poor have distrusted income taxes, certainly in WA.

        Do I support defunding the police? No I do not, and in fact cities from NY to Baltimore to LA are refunding cuts to their police departments as violent crime surges. Anyone should know crime affects the poor much more than it does the wealthy.

        How about where systemic change is really needed, in our public school system. 25% of Seattle parents send their kids to private schools, second highest in the nation, because they can afford it. But the unions will never allow that. So rich kids will continue to get a superior education beginning with kindergarten.

        Is it finally addressing global change. The last time Washington State — which has a governor who all but proclaimed himself the global warming presidential candidate, and surged at one point to 0.3% in the polls — came even close to its carbon emission goals was 2012, due to the recession. I have never seen an issue so pimped by hucksters than global warming.

        Will there be systemic change in democracy and voting? Yes, and I predicted this when the Republicans took 2/3 of the state legislatures in 2020, which few noticed. Next up: redistricting congressional districts. It is a virtual lock Republicans will take one, and probably both, houses next year, so systemic change has about 14 months left to get going.

        For decades I have heard the poor claim they will band together and create systemic change that will finally even the playing field with the rich, although the rich are usually rich for a reason. I thought Sanders might be that person, but the Dems went with Biden, architect of the 1984 and 1994 crime bills. When the rich fight back with all they have the poor seemed stunned.

        Let me know what this systemic change is, and when I can expect to see it, who its champions will be, and when it will be safe for me to leave my office in Pioneer Square to walk around for lunch.

  16. Here is the main quote on the homeless in Houston from the Zillow abstract from the first link in Ross’s post above:

    “Houston is a fascinating counterpoint to both Los Angeles and Baltimore. Homelessness is a lot lower in Houston than the expected baseline generated by the model – and than other markets in the same cluster, with similar costs of housing and rates of poverty. In Houston, poverty pushes up homeless rates from the baseline, while rent affordability has little impact. In fact, homelessness has fallen in Houston despite rents rising. There’s such a strong mix of latent factors driving down homelessness – things unique to the community of Houston beyond housing affordability and poverty – that it can be useful to understand Houston’s dynamics at the ground level, in person.”

    Ross cites this article for the proposition:

    “Rental costs being the primary factor for homelessness”:

    The statement in the article relating to Houston and the impact of rent affordability on homelessness is the opposite of Ross’s statement. Please read the articles you cite to before posting links to them, and accusing others of not doing their research.

    https://dupagehomeless.org/research-demonstrates-connection-between-housing-affordability-homelessness/

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