Thank you Alex for another post!
So for the last post comments were shutdown at exactly 420 comments.
Why 420? Is that some sort of backhanded commentary on the quality of the comments?
I’m pretty sure it hit an automatic comment closure condition from date of posting rather than the number of comments.
While the Seattle Transit Blob has been moribund, the Urbanist has had several transit articles, including one about bus lanes on route 40.
(Just take the leftist stuff that doesn’t relate to transit with a grain of salt).
Well don’t tease. Where’s the links?
I believe this is the article asdf2 is referring to:
What are the latest ridership figures looking like? Has sound transit posted any data for 2021.
IIRC, ST has only put out a performance report for Q1, which itself took forever to get published.
Accountability and transparency, two of Rogoff’s favorite words, really don’t mean much at this agency.
To be fair, ridership during a pandemic is going to be skewed, whether it is quarter 1 or 2, 2021.
ST optimistically estimated ridership in ST 1, 2 and 3, to use Joni Earl’s term, with a very high 40% farebox recovery goal and underestimated project costs, to keep general fund tax increases artificially low in order to sell levies. But ridership is one objective metric everyone can see.
ST and Rogoff claimed some unexplained data between first quarter and second quarter 2021 resulted in the estimated deficit going from $11.5 billion to $6.5 billion. I don’t know what that data is, and ST hasn’t stated just what that data is, but I do know ridership is an objective metric, and if it did not dramatically change from first to second quarter 2021, the only other metrics are project/ROW/construction costs going way down, or general fund tax revenues going way up, because the realignment did not cut any projects from ST 2 or 3.
My guess is ridership did not change much between first and second quarter 2021, actual project cost estimates did not decline, and I doubt general fund tax revenues have increased in N. King Co. between quarters, so I wonder how an $11.5 billion deficit estimate suddenly became a $6.5 deficit if none of the assumptions and data changed between first and second quarter, which is why ST is not eager to release second quarter data that looks remarkably like first quarter data.
I have a sneaky feeling ST is not accurately calculating inflation and increased project costs during the extension period that historically has equaled or exceeded ST revenue per year, and so is booking the increased tax revenue from the extension but not the increased project costs during that same period.
We are still in a pandemic, the numbers are just about meaningless. But being only a quarter out is actually pretty good, considering the high quality of the data.
And for the next 4 years it is going to be hard to interpret ridership data anyhow. Just think of all the changes:
1) 2021, Oct, NG Link opens.
2) 2022, Tacoma Link extension opens
3) 2023, East Link opens
4) 2024, Lynnwood Link opens
5) 2024, Redmond Link opens
6) 2024, Federal Way Link opens.
That is a lot of change in just 4 years, and it is a lot of MAJOR change. And don’t forget that with every major Link opening there is a corresponding change to Metro bus service as Metro shifts resources to become more of a complementary, feeder service to Link.
Any one of those major openings would make it hard to decipher ridership trends, but 6 major changes in 4 years? Plus bus feeder service changes?
2025 is going to be a completely different transit world around here. I doubt if the ridership data under such circumstances will be very meaningful until at least 2027. Pandemic or not.
I agree that the numbers don’t make sense until after the pandemic wanes. I think everyone hoped that would be happening now, but of course it is as bad as ever. It is possible that things will start to get back to normal by the end of the year. I would still expect some overlap though (i. e. transportation hesitancy) to start the new year, which means that even 2022 data would be flawed.
For any meaningful analysis, you need stop data, as well as directional data. I don’t think ST provided that with monthly or quarterly reports (only the annual service implementation plan). Ideally you have complete trip data (where riders boarded and alighted) but I don’t think ST has ever provided that.
Thus the report for 2022 will show Northgate Link, but the numbers will probably be skewed negatively because of the pandemic. The numbers for 2023 will be better, but by the end of the year East Link kicks in. Thus it will be difficult to compare, say, the effect of doubling frequency on travel between downtown and Northgate. We will definitely be able to see how many additional riders are making those trips — it is just that some of that increase will be because of increased frequency, and some because of the waning pandemic. By looking at monthly reports we should be able to estimate it, but it won’t be as clear cut as it would be otherwise.
You do know, Daniel, that rail systems regularly have twice the firebox revenue to direct operations costs, right?
Wait, what, you didn’t know that? Just to set you straight, it’s because trains are SO MUCH BIGGER than buses — and they couple into “trains” — so one operator can drive for as many as ten times as many (not in Seattle, more like five) times as many riders as a bus driver.
The trains also need less maintenance overall, though parts when needed are killers.
So on average, rail systems “recover” a much larger percentage of their operating costs from the firebox.
Of course their capital costs are WAAAAAYYY higher, but rights of way, tunnels, and bridges are generally considered “long-term” — very long-term or even permanent — assets. A bus is always 100% cost. Nothing is left after it is retired. The same is true of railcars, but they typically last four to six times as long as buses.
That’s a “newbie” mistake, let’s all let Daniel slide ’cause he just doesn’t know anything about transit that he hasn’t read in The Seattle Crimes or The Walled Street Journey.
So on average, rail systems “recover” a much larger percentage of their operating costs from the farebox.
Yes, but it gets a little more complicated than that. First, rail systems are typically in the most cost effective areas. For example, it would have been quite reasonable for Link to start with U-District to downtown (with several stops in between). This would have replaced the most cost effective section of Metro’s bus system. So even before switching modes, a separate agency running that line would get much better fare recovery than the rest of Metro.
Then there is the speed improvements. Typically, if you are going to invest in a rail system (with big trains) you want to make it fast. We did that with Link. This leads to an increase in ridership, and a decrease in costs (which translates to better fare recovery). The same could be done with the buses (using bus tunnels and busways).
All that being said, you are correct. A large train can simply carry more people than a bus. So even if running that train is more expensive, fare box recovery is better — as long as it picks up more riders than a bus could.
But it you don’t get good ridership, then running the train is often more expensive. This is why agencies will cut service to light rail lines if things don’t go well. They are just as prone to the negative ridership/frequency spiral as buses. Unfortunately, this has happened in many cities, as they extend their light rail lines to distant suburbs that struggle to generate decent ridership in the middle of the day. A train that gets 20 riders per hour of service is no more cost effective than a bus that gets 20 riders per hour of service — it is usually worse. It is likely this will be an issue as Link extends outward. We’ll see.
But your main point is still very important. It is easy to see how the overall fare recovery improved when Link got to the UW. Metro lost its most cost effective routes, but the big gain was with Link. Before the pandemic, they were running trains with way more people than the buses. Overall fare recovery went way up.
In contrast, often people will write about streetcars being more cost effective to operate. This is only true if they carry more riders than a bus. That has never been the case with our streetcars (they can’t) nor is it likely it ever will be. It is unlikely that the streetcar will ever get great fare recovery. More to the point, it is unlikely that it will play a big part in creating a network with better fare recovery.
“2021, 2022, 2023, 2024…”
Northgate will have the biggest impact of any extension in the past or future. UW has as many people as Microsoft, and UW Station addressed only half of the potential Seattle riders. Many people in North Seattle who want to take Link can’t effectively now because the transfer to the 75 and 372 is so bad (7 minute walk, no place eastbound to sit or shelter from the rain. the bus is sometimes late), and for many U-District trips the transfer is not better than the 49 or 70. All those will change when U-District Station opens. Capitol Hill has an impressive number of riders, but Roosevelt and Northgate are two stations, and many routes will terminate at Northgate.
Second and third place is hard to say between Bellevue/Redmond and Lynnwood. Bellevue/Redmond has Microsoft and the downtown Bellevue and Spring District offices and two-way all-day demand, but Eastsiders are culturally less inclined to take transit than those numbers suggest. Lynnwood will have dozens of express buses terminating, and pent-up demand for service between North Seattle and Snohomish County. So which of those will be larger?
Fourth place is Federal Way, fifth is Everett, and sixth is Tacoma. You get a diminishing number of riders north of Lynnwood and south of Federal Way. Everett has an edge over Tacoma because Link is time-competitive with existing service all the way to Everett. In the south end Link is challenged due to the greater distances between cities and its surface segments and Rainier Valley detour, and the larger number of highway alternatives.
“A train that gets 20 riders per hour of service is no more cost effective”
That threshold will be easy to exceed. Northgate to Lynnwood is 15 minutes (5 riders), Lynnwood to Everett is 30 minutes (10 riders), Angle Lake to Federal Way is 15 minutes (5 riders), Federal Way to Tacoma is 15 minutes (5 riders). There’s usually at least one or two on/offs per station, and each extension has at least three stations, so there’s the majority of the threshold right there.
Also, trains use less energy than buses, around a quarter in a good scenario. And one Link train is not equivalent to one bus; it’s equivalent to to 5-6 buses. Link is neither the 512 nor 41 nor 71/72/73X nor 301; it’s all of them simultaneously. Without Link we’d have to run all those routes because one route can’t do all of them without getting hopelessly slow and overcrowded. And some trip pairs like Lynnwood to Northgate or Lynnwood to Roosevelt don’t even have comparable buses now, because buses are too inefficient for these.
Yes, the ridership reports have gone from monthly to only quarterly, and the quarterly reports have gone from 2 months to 3-4 months to get published. Who made that change in public deliverables? Will a Board member question why at a meeting and give Rogoff any grief over it?
I agree that the lack of data hampers an understanding of what is happening. It’s like getting a child’s report card once a year instead of every six weeks, and even then not getting it until the child is halfway through the next year.
However, I would gladly wait another few months if ST would add routine reports on time-of-day and mode of access to/ from stations. I think station pair estimate reports would also be quite beneficial.
Today, I had out on-of-the-box idea: Have an Orca-tapped survey kiosk that can be moved around the system to ask questions of riders over a week. The Orca tap could be set to allow only one response per card per week. I think waiting riders would gladly oblige responding as they wait for a train. It could even be accompanied by a geo-registered phone app to query riders waiting in the station (QR code posted on the station walls).
Finally, it would be useful if a rider could agree to be a “probe rider” that would allow for all tripmaking to be collected on a sample week (trip pairs by time of day), followed by a follow-up survey that can ask about demographic info, mode of access and things that need improving.
The point being that riders are both ST’s customers as well as tax paying investors. An agency can’t measure “user experience” only on general measures. At some point, rider info has to be collected and analyzed objectively to assess the operation’s health and usefulness to a rider.
And one Link train is not equivalent to one bus; it’s equivalent to to 5-6 buses.
You seem to have missed the point of what I wrote. Capacity doesn’t matter if the vehicle is largely empty. If you never reach the capacity of a bus, then it is not more cost effective. That is why, for example, even if we got really big streetcars (capable of carrying as many riders as several of our buses) it wouldn’t save any money.
Everything else is about the right of way (not the mode).
The 512 is busy all day. I don’t see Link as having fewer passengers than that. So I don’t see the problem. Obviously a train can’t shrink in the evening when ridership is lower, but neither can a bus. We decided that Link would connect certain cities at a certain frequency, and that’s a baseline level of service. That in itself has its advantages. You’re thinking in terms of money per passenger but there’s more than that. There’s passenger convenience, and people being able to accomplish more things in a day, and transit being more competitive with driving. Things that other countries have but we’ve neglected. When I said efficiency I mainly meant energy usage. But trains, even if they aren’t themselves efficient, can make humans more efficient, in the sense of giving people more frequent travel options to more places. Not all trains (not the SLU or First Hill streetcars), but something like Link in Link’s corridors does.
“ Also, trains use less energy than buses, around a quarter in a good scenario.”
You are correct that trains often use much less energy per passenger mile than do buses, although the exact amount is dependent on the system and how it is being operated.
And, of course, with Link there is the added advantage that Link LRV’s are 100% carbon free – no carbon emissions in operation at all.
Per ridership publications, ST is meeting all their Federal and internal requirements for reporting. Nothing is being missed.
And there certainly isn’t any clamoring by the public for more ridership reports. The public cares more about ST maintaining their high standards for frequency, reliability, and lack of crowding than they do about the top-line number, particularly in the times of CV-19.
The only people who seem to think they need more reports are a few voices on this blog that are neither involved in policy nor involved in Federal or local compliance. Essentially they are trying to invent an issue where none exists.
I think we would all be wise just to ignore such opinions, because fake concerns and fake issues are exactly that – fake!
Al S. is absolutely correct.
ST just needs to publish the damn ridership reports in a timely manner as they were once apparently capable of doing. I really don’t give a flying crap about its supposed “meaningfulness”.
Just give us the data and those of us who are interested in such matters can dive in and dissect the information to our heart’s content. I don’t need to read a bunch of ST spin.
We have all learned by now how to get our work done during this pandemic period. Frankly, at this point in time, blaming the lack of reporting or the tardiness of any such reporting on the pandemic just doesn’t fly in my book. I work with corporate clients every day who “amazingly” have figured out how to get their financial reports compiled and finalized within the deadlines for both internal and external filings (8-K’s, 10-Q’s, etc.) each month and quarter end. Additionally, many of my clients, past and present, have internal reporting deadlines for their financials within just a six or seven workday timeframe and “somehow” consistently have met those requirements, including during these pandemic months.
So please save me all the commentary of the apologist-Lazarus bent. The changes in the ridership/performance reporting practices at ST is a conscious choice that the agency is and has been making for some time now. Some of us observers do indeed view these changes as an impediment to our visibility of the data we feel should be readily available to the public in a timely manner. One is left wondering if the agency is similarly delaying releasing their monthly ridership data to the NTD as well. It’s hard to say since the APTA reports are just quarterly and the NTD one is annually if I’m not mistaken. These conditions alone highlight why the direct timely reporting from the agency itself should be a given (as it once was).
On a related note, as we speak, ST has yet to finalize and publish its FTA- mandated “Before and After Study” for the U-Link extension project. At one time, we were promised this report repeatedly in the published Link progress reports by certain quarters. Those commitment dates came and went a long time ago and the agency no longer reports on this project in recent publications. The FTA used to require that the aforementioned “Before and After Study” being completed within 36 months of a given funded project’s opening. The stipulation was put into place so that USDoT could report to Congress on the effectiveness of its CIG appropriations. As a reminder, U-Link has been operational now for some five and a half years and this report has yet to be published.
Let me guess….that’s just more “fake news”, eh? (RQ)
Give me a break.
ridership/performance reporting practices at ST is a conscious choice that the agency is and has been making for some time
I agree with both of you. And I’m not a big fan of Mr. high 6 figure Rogoff. That said, he is a political animal that knows how to best keep his cards hidden to the agency’s advantage. In this case it’s IMHO to dupe the ST voting public. Or it may be to push out federal mandates that wouldn’t be good for the agency. If the later maybe we’re just getting back some of the $$$ that got sent to Atlanta all so many years ago.
You lost me. Why exactly do you think ST should provide you more and quicker reports? Why exactly do you think they should be spending taxpayer dollars just for you and a few transit wonks? What exact reporting requirement is ST missing with their current reporting schedule? What exact contract requirement is ST missing?
Because if you can’t point to a single funding, contractural, or legal requirement that ST is missing, then I would say ST is totally in the clear.
And ultimately ST is correct not to waste taxpayer dollars generating data that isn’t legally or contractually required. That is just good management.
Additionally, the citizenry isn’t clamoring for more data, and ST apparently has the data they need to make the required service adjustments. So everything should be OK.
But hey, if you can find a single legal or contractural requirement that ST is violating with the current reporting schedule, then I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE you to bring it to the attention of the proper parties.
But this blog isn’t the place, and none of us are so important that we can demand ST spend discretionary funding on us just because we are curious or skeptical. That is not our right, especially since the general populous really doesn’t care.
Show us the requirement, then take it to a lawyer.
Should have said “RAILCARS are so much bigger”. And where it says “The trains also need less maintenance”, it should have said “railcars” also.
Once again, you are missing the point. None of my statements — or even my examples — were about Link. My statements were about a fundamental concept in transit that is often misunderstood.
Consider the following statement:
trains often use much less energy per passenger mile than do buses
This is definitely true. In fact I would go ever further, and claim that most often trains use less energy per passenger than buses. But that is only because trains usually carry a lot more riders. This is the essential point I want to hammer home. It is easy to assume that simply running a train is cheaper than running a bus. That’s simply not true*. Run a bus for a half hour and a train for a half hour and the bus is actually cheaper. The only way that a train can be cheaper to operate is if it carries a lot more riders. If it fails to do so — and many American trains fail — then it is *more* expensive per rider than simply running a bus.
Understanding this concept is essential in critiquing the streetcar. The streetcar never carries more riders than a bus, so it is not cheaper to operate per rider — in fact it is much worse. As for Link, it is nowhere near that level — it almost always carries more riders than a bus. Will it eventually get to that level? Maybe.
You’re thinking in terms of money per passenger but there’s more than that.
No, I’m trying to explain a fundamental concept that is often misunderstood.
There’s passenger convenience, and people being able to accomplish more things in a day, and transit being more competitive with driving.
Yes, and that has absolutely nothing to do with what I wrote. I wrote about trains versus buses. All the things you attribute to trains can be accomplished by buses. The biggest difference is that trains have much bigger capacity. There are other differences (trains are easier to automate, can take advantage of existing rail, etc.) but most of the differences attributed to rail flow from the added capacity. But the added capacity only matters is if it is used.
All your caveats about badly designed rail systems are true, but at least for the part of Link to be opened between now and 2025, they don’t apply. I think almost everyone can agree that every mile of the “ST2” version of Link will probably be well-patronized. Of course the “core” from IDS to Northgate will be off the charts by this time next year, and I pretty much agree with your assessment that the hatred of Snohomans for I-5 between MLT and downtown Seattle will guarantee that Lynnwood Link will be a big success.
As for the rest of the lecture, did you have to get on your soapbox about streetcars? Really? The horse is dead and decayed. Why stir up the flies?
“All the things you attribute to trains can be accomplished by buses”
Theoretically. We’re not going to get Curitiba- or Paris-style BRT in our lifetimes. Even the BAT lanes on the 40 are in danger of being cancelled due to freight pushback, and the 44 and 48’s improvements have been watered down to little.
As for the rest of the lecture, did you have to get on your soapbox about streetcars? Really?
OK, so let me get this straight. I make a qualification of a previous statement about transit. The comment was clearly aimed at correcting a common misconception, and nothing more. I never criticized Link, yet several of the comments suggested I had. I did, however, mention the streetcar as an example for those who struggle with the concept, or think it is purely theoretical.
Yet you think I somehow broke protocol by mentioning the streetcar? People accuse me of writing things I didn’t write, but I’m a bad guy for using the closest example of this concept? What the Fuck? Just read the comment — it is pretty clear what I wrote, and why I used that as an example.
Hell, if I wanted to write about how stupid the streetcar is, I would start a new thread. Or better yet, write a Page 2 post. Oh wait, I did.
Good God, it is bad enough that this blog has dried up. The least people can do is thoroughly read a statement, to see the point the person was making. It was not about Link. It was not about the streetcar. It was only about the fact that running a train is not, in fact, always cheaper than running a bus.
We’re not going to get Curitiba- or Paris-style BRT in our lifetimes.
Nor are we going to get a Paris style metro in our lifetimes. Or New York style, Chicago style, or DC style. It is quite likely we will never get a Vancouver BC style metro, which is really pathetic, since the city is our closest neighbor, and no bigger than us. What is your point?
Oh, and it really isn’t about the mode, or particular lines, or even the lines that make up one particular mode, like SkyTrain. It is about the complete network, and in that regard, we have failed, miserably, to spend our money wisely.
I agree there should be caveats, but those caveats need to be properly understood.
Eg, the energy required to move a streetcar is vastly less than a bus. The Skoda designs in use in Seattle are less than 100 horsepower total for the entire car.
However, it’s more expensive to move the streetcar for a number of different reasons, including cost of right of way maintenance, the cost to obtain all the custom parts (TriMet MAX cars are cheaper to operate per hour than Portland streetcar because they insisted on a design with little domestic support), etc.
So, you have to have enough passengers to make up for all those other issues.
In the case of Link, you can probably get there.
In the case of the streetcar lines, I’m not sure you can ever make up for all the ancillary costs. There just isn’t enough passenger capacity to make up for all the custom order stuff.
Today, I was on a route 70 bus, passing an SLU streetcar in the opposite direction. Peeking in the windows, it was obvious that there were far more people on the #70 bus than on the streetcar. The #70 bus was even an electric trolley bus, powered by overhead wire, just like the streetcar, but much more productive.
Ross, your facts about the particular streetcar technology chosen by Seattle and Portland are quite accurate. There is a distinct “Toonerville Trolley” air about them; they’re too small and don’t train. So, your deflection would be nicely believable if you hadn’t spent the last eight years arguing how terrible streetcars everywhere and everywhen are.
So, yeah, you’ve got form on the topic.
“You lost me….”
Clearly you are indeed lost…in your own red herring argument apparently.
The expectation here is simple: ST should follow its own internal guidelines as it once did. The agency at one time published monthly ridership data and quarterly performance reports in a somewhat timely manner on its own site. Today the agency is only publishing the quarterly reports after a few months following the quarter close, in violation of its own adopted policies:
“The annual agency budget sets specific service performance targets for each transit mode. The service standards and performance measures provide a framework for evaluating each mode and how well it meets those performance targets. Performance data is reported annually in the agency’s Service Implementation Plan (SIP) and reported in monthly and quarterly reports to the Board of Directors, which can be found online at soundtransit.org/ridership”
–Sound Transit Service Standards and Performance Measures, 2018 Edition
So what has changed? If you really think that this procedural change is being driven by some imagined desire to cut costs and save taxpayers a bunch of administrative dollars, please do tell me what those savings are and how that is accomplished when the agency is already required to collect this sort of data. Sound Transit, as a recipient of Title 49 Chapter 53 funding, is classified as a full reporting agency and is required under the provisions of the various funding mechanisms contained in this chapter to report MONTHLY, as well as annual, ridership data to the National Transit Database. Here’s the exact regulation and its statutory authority:
“(a) National Transit Database Reporting System. Each applicant for and beneficiary of Federal financial assistance under 49 U.S.C. chapter 53 must comply with the applicable requirements of 49 U.S.C. 5335, as set forth in the reference documents.
“(b) Copies. Copies of reference documents are available from the National Transit Database Web site located at http://www.ntdprogram.gov. These reference documents are subject to periodic revision. Revisions of reference documents will be posted on the National Transit Database Web site and a notice of any significant changes to the reporting requirements specified in these reference documents will be published in the Federal Register.”*
(The reference documents alluded to here are the annual and monthly reporting manuals administered by the FTA. See link provided below.**)
Thus, ST is already required to supply monthly ridership data to the NTD per the authorized regulations. Monthly reporting figures are required by the end of the following month:
“Monthly reports for full reporting agencies are due on the last day of the following month (e.g., January data are due February 28).
“Exhibit 5: Monthly Report Due Dates (Month, Due Date)
January, February 28
February, March 31
March, April 30
April, May 31
May, June 30
June, July 31
July, August 31
August, September 30
September, October 31
October, November 30
November, December 31
December, January 31”
–National Transit Database
2019 Policy Manual, Office of Budget and Policy
That brings us back to the following comment you made above:
“And ultimately ST is correct not to waste taxpayer dollars generating data that isn’t legally or contractually required. That is just good management.”
And this is where the crux of your argument falls apart. Assuming that ST is indeed meeting its “contractual” monthly reporting requirements to the FTA/NTD, then the data is already being compiled anyway and this supposed cost savings you’ve conjured up becomes financially insignificant. The end result is that the public isn’t being informed about these particular metrics until several months have elapsed after the data was collected, and, as I stated earlier, the agency appears to be out of compliance with its own internal reporting policies.
Thus, I stand by my original assertions.
Additional link for relevant statutory authority:
Ah, no. You still haven’t shown that ST has actually missed a reporting date.
Quite frankly, a lot of those requirements don’t apply to ST because of the various oddities of federal funding mechanisms, and many that do have been relaxed due to CV-19. Because even the Federal bureaucracy recognizes that ridership numbers during a pandemic where the Federal government itself is encouraging social distancing and WFH are meaningless.
But to get back to my point, if you have even one semi solid example of ST missing a mandated reporting date where they don’t have previous authorization to do so, then stop wasting your time here! Take it to the appropriate authorities. Or take it to the press.
But the fact that you haven’t done that yet, and apparently are unwilling to, casts a bit of shade on the veracity of your opinion.
Come on. Take it to the authorities. I double dog dare you.
“Ah, no. You still haven’t shown that ST has actually missed a reporting date.”
Lol. There it is. That’s the tell….the tell of one whose argument has failed him.
Your argument has now descended to a full-on straw man fallacy level. Congratulations!
I never made any such assertion.
“Quite frankly, a lot of those requirements don’t apply to ST because of the various oddities of federal funding mechanisms,…”
Utter nonsense. The regs, as well as the reporting manual and NTD policy manual, spell out the requirements for all chapter 53 funding recipients, including ST.
“…and many that do have been relaxed due to CV-19.”
The devil is in the details here. The FTA put out a guidance bulletin and a FAQ announcement regarding how agencies should continue to report service performance metrics to the NTD for reporting periods in 2020. While the annual report deadline for 2019 was extended out an additional two months, full reporting agencies, such as ST, were directed to continue to provide monthly data per the schedule outlined in the current reporting manual. (The details are spelled out in the two bulletins linked below.) The “relaxation” of these requirements pertained to the agency’s enforcement practices but the monthly deadlines were not officially changed. Transit agencies unable to comply with the monthly reporting requirements were directed to contact their NTD validation analyst to design alternative data compilation methods.
BUT NONE OF THIS REALLY MATTERS because your claim (of what I actually asserted) is part of your straw man argument. As such, there’s no need to cite the remainder of your commentary as it’s just more of the same flailing at an actual relevant counter argument. I suggest you go back and re-read what I actually asserted in regard to the change in monthly ridership reporting practices at ST, i.e., they’ve opted not to report this data on a monthly basis and are taking longer to release their quarterly performance reports. The former appears to be in violation of their own internal reporting policies as I outlined previously.
Are you kidding? So far all you have provided is a big, hit, steaming pile of nothing. You haven’t provided a single firm example of ST being out of compliance with any requirement?
You quote a manual on he Cornell University webpage? Really? Because I can assure you that Cornell is not a signatory on any of ST’s interagency agreements. Nor does Cornell have a role in overseeing any of those agreements. So why quote a spurious reference to something on the Cornell webpage as “evidence”? Because it isn’t.
Na, I know this is the era of the Big Lie. Where any outlandish assertion can be made and then backed up with a media press conference with all sorts of claims of evidence of fraud and misdoings while hair dye runs down the speakers face, only to be followed up by a court appearance where not a whiff of evidence is provided. I know that. But it didn’t work out well for Giuliani. It didn’t work out well for the My Pillow guy. And it won’t work out any better here.
So I challenge you again. If you have even one firm example of ST being out of compliance – even just one! – then, please, please, please take it to the relevant authorities and make it known. And please also make it available to the Seattle Times.
Because I think the one thing we can all agree on is that we want our public agencies to be held accountable. So please do it.
Tisgwm is correct: all public agencies and private corporations have reporting requirements. Although some on this blog might not like or understand the requirements, or take the time to review the reports, many others do, and they include federal regulators and some very smart folks like Tisgwm. I certainly hope my financial advisors don’t have the same lack of curiosity when it comes to financial reports that Lazarus and Tom Terrific have when it comes to ST.
ST has an almost pathologically history when it comes to estimating project costs and future revenue. In fact, before Joni Earl ST nearly lost its eligibility for federal funds due to what Earl optimistically referred to as “optimism”, but the federal regulators thought was dishonesty.
The ST board just increased its total taxes by $35 billion. The reason given was not revenue losses due to Covid 19, but underestimated project costs in ST 3 that was just passed 4.5 years ago, when those who pay attention to these details knew in 2016 the project cost estimates were dishonest cost projections. Project costs should not skyrocket during a pandemic.
Perhaps if ST had ever completed a project on time and on budget concerns over delinquent financial reports would not be such a big deal. But the fact is ST just raised taxes $35 billion to complete a levy passed 4.5 years ago, and has never quite explained how an $11.5 billion deficit in first quarter 2021 became a $6.5 billion deficit in second quarter 2021.
According to the TT the $5 billion change is due to new “assumptions”. No shit, Sherlock. The real question is what DATA changed in that five month period to support the $5 billion reduction in budget deficits? Did ridership on light rail dramatically increase, or general fund tax receipts in N. King Co. subarea, or did project costs decline? Did the Delta variant make a full return to work more likely?
The key to required financial reports are not that they are totally honest, but that if they are demonstrably false the preparer can go to jail. So someone who knows what they are looking for, or are looking for but not is in the report, can see past the deceptions in the financial reports.
We already know damn well what the financial reports will show: there was no change in the data to support a $5 billion reduction in budget deficit estimates between first and second quarter 2021. There is virtually no way the realignment, that is just a reschedule, will pay for the projects ST claims it will.
My guess is the lack of intellectual curiosity of some on this blog about ST’s finances is whether the person thinks they will end up paying the general fund tax increases required in the realignment. If ST had balanced the deficits with fare increases, in whole or part, as it should have, maybe the intellectually uncurious would become more curious, because that is exactly is what is going to happen when the capital budget is inadequate, and ridership levels don’t come close to meeting the 40% farebox recovery goal and operation costs, and ST has burned all trust with the voters.
The vast majority of citizens in the three county ST taxing district don’t take transit. I am sure that if the Board had decided to fund the deficits by raising light rail fares to $15/trip (and eliminating the abusive senior discount) they would be just as uncurious about ST’s financials as some on this blog are about raising general fund tax increases.
Because that is where we are going, because ST has underestimated its operation costs, and overestimated its ridership/farebox recovery, just like it has for capital projects, and the only remedy ST will have based on a public that thinks ST is dishonest is to reduce frequency and coverage, or raise fares. And to be honest, when ST does that I probably will be uncurious about the financials as well.
Even if ST is underestimating costs, the choices are to either stick with them or have no transit system at all, besides the King County Metro buses. Simply throwing in the towel and saying we’re not going to have a transit system anymore because the transit agency is underestimating costs is not reasonable. What’s reasonable is to prioritize and have them build what they can with the money they have.
I think what is reasonable to expect is to get Rogoth out if there, and get someone else who will focus the culture on long term best outcomes, and ridership experience.
Based on First Hill, station and route placement from West Seattle to Ballard, and the lack of connections being built into the system for future expansion we currently don’t have that.
“ I think what is reasonable to expect is to get Rogoth out if there, ”
Wow, that is crazy talk. That is just not how things operate at Rogoff’s level.
The most likely scenario is that Rogoff stays 3.5 years and then moves on to a big promotion somewhere else, or a nice fat retirement in the place of his choosing.
Why? Because think of it; the next 3.5 years in Seattle will see the biggest expansion of high capacity, high efficiency, and fast transit that this region has ever seen – ever seen in its entire history.
Think of it: NG Link, Tacoma Link, East Link, Lynnwood Link, Redmond Link, and Federal Way Link will all open on Rogoff’s watch.
Does he deserve credit? Not totally. It will he take credit? You bet! At least partially.
So why would he leave now? And why would anyone propose that he leaves when all these good things are about to happen?
The answer is nobody. Barring a complete scandal, Rogoff will stay through at least the opening of Lynnwood Link, and probably through the opening of all the next phases.
Yep, we’re stuck with Rogoff. A DemocRat with a long tail. That’s not all bad when Biden is in the White House. Rogoff knows how to play the game and has the back channel connections that got him hired. Why would you publish data that isn’t good if it hurts your chances to get free money?
So there you go again, “Sherlock”, directly accusing “somebody” of craven disregard for legally required honest fiscal reporting. That sounds like some sort of crime to me.
So, name some names, coward. They’re public figures; you’re shielded from a libel claim.
What you do not understand is that if indeed as appears likely that North King cannot “afford” a new downtown Tunnel from Massachusetts Street to the bluff next to Elliott West with six stations as currently projected, then some sort of cost saving “compromises” will be applied, but the project will be built.
That’s because there is no effyouseeking where else to spend the eight to ten billion dollars that North King will raise in the twenty-five years of the project. Earth to Daniel, the voters of the North King Subarea voted overwhelmingly in support of ST3. If the likely more Democratic Legislature resulting from redistricting will untie their hands, they will pay for it.
Just 29 days and counting until the biggest improvement in transit mobility that this region has seen since the opening of Central Link in July of 2009. It is getting closer by the minute.
But where is the countdown clock? I know the keepers of this blog can do a countdown clock because they have done it before. But for Northgate Link? Crickets!
After October 2nd it will be a whole new world for transit users on the north end, particularly for those trying to get to the U. It’s going to be great.
Can’t wait to go to my first Husky game via Link – it’s going to be a game changer! (pun intended!)
It is exciting! And did I see a picture of restrooms at the Northgate Link Station too? craziness!
A four car line one train to Northgate is approaching the station. Please stand back from the platform edge and wait until passengers leave the train before boarding.
Yep, a lot more activity on NG Link. They appear to be doing full simulated service now. LRV’s are arriving and departing on regular intervals. The only thing missing is the passengers.
I also saw they were doing some sort of training the other day at Roosevelt Station. They appeared to be familiarizing staff and/or station ambassadors. I’m not exactly sure what was going on, but I got the impression it was aimed at being prepared for opening day crowds.
Exciting times indeed.
But where is that countdown clock?
My guess is Covid has hurt the enthusiasm (or at least fanfare) that would normally associate such a huge improvement in local transit.
Another issue is that there are obviously staffing problems on this blog. If they can’t manage adding an open thread twice a week, I don’t think they have the time to put together a countdown clock.
So far as a countdown clock, it would appear that whatever body of code is required, it already exists. It has been used several times in the past.
Even if the target date is hard-coded into the code — pretty unlikely after the second use — editing the code might take a few minutes. Obviously Frank is otherwise engaged.
Thank you, Frank, for making and continuing to host the blog.
“Thank you, Frank, for making and continuing to host the blog.”
And yet if you click the about us link at the top of the page Frank is listed as a “past staff member”.
Well, that may tell you something about the dearth of new posts. Martin wrote many more posts, but Frank was the guy who kept things running.
It is exciting! I can observe that Link has fundamentally changed places like Capitol Hill and Columbia City and Othello. For an established destination like the U-District and upper UW campus, the effects will be noteworthy within only a few months.
East Link will in my mind be the most interesting to watch. That’s because there is much redevelopment opportunity near many of those stations — located in jurisdictions that aren’t used to TOD having such a powerful incentive of frequent light rail affecting the redevelopment market.
Commute Seattle has posted a Northgate Link opening countdown clock!
This is the page for first/last mile connections for each stop.
Oct. 2, 2021 will likely have skewed ridership for at least six months. Later on, the UW should be fully in person education, and the work commuter to downtown Seattle should return. Plus hopefully the perceived risk of taking a bus or light rail will have subsided. During peak hours, post-pandemic, the Northgate Transit Center looks like it will be very busy with access to and from the station.
All three stations appear to rely pretty heavily on street parking, although much of the street parking has time limits. One issue with street parking is drivers tend to drive around and around looking for a street spot. If I read the page correctly, UW and Roosevelt will have paid parking, but Northgate won’t. It will be interesting to see what the parking rates are combined with the light rail fare.
I didn’t see anything on the map identifying secured bike storage although the maps do highlight many access points for bicyclists.
That is a really good synopsis. Great links to all the pertinent info, and a countdown clock! Good job Commute Seattle.
I would expect something similar from STB, but I get the impression they are still too focused on revisiting the 1990’s mode wars. Those are over, let’s move on. The heavy lifting in this area is moving towards rail.
Maybe STB could just link to the Commute Seattle post and call it good.
Thanks for posting Al.S!
Oh, and I like how Commute Seattle isn’t afraid to point out that Link is powered by 100% carbon free electrical power. That is something that STB didn’t give much press to.
There is some irony in the Commute Seattle Blog:
“Commute Seattle is a nonprofit transportation management association that provides education, outreach and consulting services to Downtown Seattle employers and property managers. We also provide assistance to buildings who have Transportation Management Program requirements, employers who participate in the Commute Trip Reduction Program and companies moving to a new location.”
“Our vision is a more livable and thriving metro region underwritten by broad community commitment to smart mobility choices. Commute Seattle promotes alternatives to driving alone by providing commuters, employers and property managers with information about a variety of commute options and Transportation Demand Management (TDM) strategies.”
“At Commute Seattle our mission is to foster mobility partnerships and services to keep Seattle moving and thriving for all. Through education, advocacy, training and consulting, we are helping create a mobility-supportive business culture to ensure that commuters enjoy world-class benefits and amenities.”
“Due to COVID-19, our offices are closed, but we are all working virtually. If you need to reach us for any reason, please email us or call us.”
Working from home is the ultimate “alternative[s] to driving alone” and “create[s] [the] mobility-supportive business culture to ensure that commuters enjoy world-class benefits and amenities”, except that it makes Commute Seattle moot, which is why there is so much angst among the transit groups about working from home, a totally carbon neutral approach to work, even including first/last mile access.
As Upton Sinclair once wrote: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
You are the only one here I have seen that has expressed any angst about work from home.
The rest of us understand that commuter traffic is a bad thing, because it represents a huge expense caused by a small number of people. The ability to de-emphasize one way traffic would be great for transit as well as roads, as it would mean all the infrastructure only used several hours a day could be better utilized. It also means a significant amount of parking could be inverted to housing or some other use that actually benefits people, rather than the cars they drive.
Glenn, there was an interesting guest on Fareed Zakaria last Sunday. The guest is a professor of urban planning at the University of Toronto. He stated that the death of cities is exaggerated, depending on the city and how it transforms post-pandemic, but that the 20% estimate of WFH post pandemic from the Stanford Study is probably low long term.
Cities that survive and thrive post pandemic will transform from work centers to living and social centers. Cities themselves won’t disappear, but they will move toward their boundaries, and into suburbs and exurbs, much like the Hudson Valley today, and the resurgence of NY City, due to its cultural and tourism significance.
It isn’t parking that will convert to housing because much parking has already been eliminated in downtown cores, and most parking is underground which by code cannot be converted to housing; instead it will be office space that is converted to housing. Plus, with housing, even in a city core, comes a need for 24/7 parking for those who own cars; otherwise the streets become clogged with cars. A city that depends on visitors will need to accommodate cars, peak and non-peak hours.
The impact to transit depends on how WFH affects farebox revenue, and whether the net loss from eliminating routes and coverage for commuters makes up for the loss of revenue. It also depends on how transit general fund tax revenue is reallocated from downtown to outer subareas. Transit revenue right now, in the middle of a pandemic, is not a good indicator because all transit use is down, although so is transit service.
Will spending $131 billion on a 90-110 mile light rail spine that is heavily focused on the work commuter and serves many undense areas end up a wise decision post pandemic? Probably not, because $131 billion was way too much to spend in the first place, and subarea equity ended up placing coverage to areas with too little density and ridership, and those areas are the most likely to lose ridership to the downtown core post-pandemic.
Light rail is somewhat different than buses because its costs and its route is fixed. All that can be done to reduce operational costs if ridership and farebox recovery are lower than estimated is to cut frequency or raise fares, probably beginning with peak hours, but then depending on off-peak ridership non-peak hours.
That is why I — and Tisgwm — would like to see up-to-date ST ridership reporting, and revenue statements. Those will serve as a sort of baseline to compare to pre-pandemic 2019 to figure out what long term will look like, probably between the two points.
We have spent a lot of time discussing the capital budget, and realignment, but little discussing long term operational costs if ridership is down across the board, as well as farebox recovery. To paraphrase Ross, you can move a bus route to serve riders where they are, but not light rail. Light rail will run where the tracks take it, whether the riders are there or not, although some believe light rail will create its own ridership. You can Google farebox recovery and the Wiki site lists farebox recovery for for rail systems for different areas of the world, and not surprisingly recovery percentages depend heavily on population density and work density, although some areas like Dallas have very low recovery percentages (11%).
The posts and guesses on this blog are just tiny eddies in a great river, and that great river right now is the pandemic, and how it changes life across the board. All things adapt, and have to, including ST, light rail and the great cities of the world, mostly by billions of people making decisions unconsciously.
The best farebox recovery is from regular, all day demand. Commuters are really expensive to serve.
The express bus that runs from Mukilteo to Seattle gets used one way. It runs empty the other, with no service hours, so it also loses federal operating grant money.
Dallas and other systems oriented mostly around commuters have low farebox recovery.
The concerns you see here are about making Link usable for all trips, not just commuter trips. In fact, arguably, commuter trips are the least important emphasis, because people are willing to tolerate some inconveniences with commuting because roads and parking are at their worst during those times.
The issue of car storage for residents of converted office space you raised is a real one. However, a city like Seattle, whose downtown is directly adjacent to a large tract of industrial land with many low-rise buildings and at-grade parking lots, can just build parking above the ones near a Link station.
Is this as convenient to the owners of the cars living a mile away as having the car in an attached garage is? No, of course not. But those residents presumably will have chosen the downtown location because they like using transit and walking for the majority of their trips. The two or three times a week that they need the car for a trip to a big box store or the countryside, it’s a short Link ride away.
This actually happens in dense cities all over Europe.
Now I know that it wouldn’t be acceptable to you or most of the MOTU’s in the Glorious East King Subarea. You’ve already self-selected into your Walled Island. But don’t you think that there might be 100,000 people living somewhere in the US who would like to try it for the lower costs that a converted building with little included parking would levy and find they like it?
Of course there are.
Tom Terrific, you miss my point.
The underground parking in downtown Seattle office buildings already exists. Since it is underground, residential codes would not allow it to be converted to living and sleeping spaces.
So unless the office building were demolished and replaced that parking space will remain, and the only use I can think of is parking, especially if the building owner hoped to earn any income from all this underground space. If the work commuter who drives to downtown Seattle is eliminated or greatly reduced the square footage of each residential unit vs. office unit per car would probably create adequate parking for tenants if the building is converted to residential.
There are problems, however, and the professor from Toronto addressed these. So far, most buildings that have been converted in downtown cores were older manufacturing buildings, often brick or concrete, and most were converted to non-residential use, like artist lofts.
Modern steel and glass towers have some real issues to convert to housing, like adequate plumbing for all the bathrooms and kitchens, fire ratings for residential use, elevators that might open directly into units, HVAC systems, sound proofing, etc. There are significant differences between a residential code for a tall building and the commercial code, in large part because people are sleeping there.
But probably the biggest issue is the underlying loan on the property, which is based on the income a full office tower earns. Most commercial loans have interest rates tied to occupancy. Even if occupancy stayed the same, residential rents for the same amount of office space compared to residential rents would probably accelerate or default the underlying loan, which is not good for the investors. A pool of investors or a REIT investing a couple hundred million dollars for a commercial office tower based on commercial leases (which have lower default rates) is not going to consent to conversion to residential units unless someone else guarantees the underlying loan, or pays it off.
The rest of your post makes no sense:
“Now I know that it wouldn’t be acceptable to you or most of the MOTU’s in the Glorious East King Subarea. You’ve already self-selected into your Walled Island. But don’t you think that there might be 100,000 people living somewhere in the US who would like to try it for the lower costs that a converted building with little included parking would levy and find they like it?”
Why would anyone living outside downtown Seattle care about conversion? In fact, our firm is trying to get out of its lease in downtown Seattle early to move to the eastside. I would welcome Seattle returning to its vibrant retail/restaurant past self, but also have options on the eastside. As the professor from Toronto stated, reimagining downtown cores into social and residential centers may be the only way to save them.
The other thing that makes little sense in your concluding paragraph is that you assume converting the office tower into residential housing would be cheap, or create affordable housing. What evidence do you have that converting a commercial office building into residential housing would be cheap, or would create non-publicly subsidized affordable housing, or that the parking would be eliminated even though the underground space for the parking would remain, and lenders for the huge residential towers in Bellevue insist on more parking than required in the code? I am not sure you thought this paragraph through, probably because you were so intent on insulting some class.
The reality is, it is the very large cost to convert a commercial tower into housing that is the biggest hurdle (along with possibly defaulting on the underlying loan).
Several years ago some flippers from San Francisco bought the Smith Tower with the idea of converting the tower floors into condos and making a quick buck, because managing an office tower is hard, hard work. I have a stunning office facing west and north in the tower, but the concept was ridiculous.
First, the units were going to be very, very expensive.
Second, the building’s plumbing, electrical, HVAC, fire, ingress and egress if there were a fire, and so on were totally inadequate, and since the building is made of stone it would have cost a fortune to remedy those issues.
Third, there is no onsite underground parking, so these very wealthy (probably older and white) tenants would have to find parking in Pioneer Square, and walk to and from the building in a very sketchy neighborhood.
Fourth the elevators (which at the time were manually operated) open directly into the units, and are glass due to historical preservation.
Fifth, the space when at least one full bath, a full kitchen, at least two bedrooms were included per tower floor left no square footage for any other space. Offices are pretty small per person (and cubicles are especially small per person) compared to necessary living space, so you get way fewer living units than offices in any conversion, and per sf residential earns much less than commercial space.
Needless to say the flippers defaulted (a pretty common occurrence in the Smith Tower over the last 30 years).
The fact is, I cannot think of one tall steel and glass commercial building in the U.S. that has been converted to residential, certainly not in Seattle. Unfortunately many of these steel and glass towers have reached the end of their life expectancies (think the Seafirst Black Box in downtown Seattle), but the irony is unlike the masonry building it replaced it costs as much or more to take down a steel and glass commercial tower as to build a new one, which is why there is so much orphan space in major cities these days as the prime tenants keep moving to the next new building.
If you can put together some investors to buy and convert a downtown Seattle commercial tower into housing — which won’t be affordable — I think that would be great, and you can get a great deal on the Seafirst Black Box right now, but if you think you are the first to consider this idea, and how to make money doing it, you are sadly mistaken.
I know that many buildings already have underground parking, but it’s certainly not enough to provide even one stall per unit in a tall building. I thought that was what you were referring to when you said parking would be a problem with such a conversion.
Clearly you believe that a conversion would not pencil out without a default, and your long list of sensible reasons make that clear. But if there is a default anyway because of WFH — and especially if there are a number of defaults — then somebody’s going to pick up the building for a (relative) song. Maybe that somebody will try a conversion.
What I was saying about the potential market is “No, of course no suburbanites are going to move into such a conversion, but there are a LARGE number of people who would like to live in a “real” city but can’t because rents are too high. Maybe a song-cost conversion can provide a lower cost than might otherwise be required.
What’s the alternative is WFH really does empty downtown? They can’t all become hotels.
Cities in this area have allowed sidewalks and even parking to be used for outdoor dining due to Covid. Old Front Street in Issaquah, Old Main Street in Bellevue, the Pike Place Market allowed seating in the street, and several other areas (once the Liquor Control Board was growled down). Even Mercer Island loosened its outside seating ordinance. Of course, these outside areas work best during warm weather. Come November, even with propane outdoor heaters (which emit a lot of carbon for the heat they produce), it is too cold to sit outside and dine.
There is still the issue how to get to restaurants or dining areas without parking. Is LA really going to become an urbanist, walkable utopia? Imagine living in LA without a car. All you are doing is reallocating the onsite parking for a restaurant, mostly to the street, which begins by displacing the overflow residential parking due to inadequate onsite residential parking when tenants still own cars. SDOT is trying to deal with this now.
Yesterday I went to Dick’s for a deluxe burger (not a great idea when your wife has basically gone vegan and you haven’t had meat for a while). The parking lot was packed. Could Dick’s survive without parking? No. Will these restaurants make more money if people dine outside rather than inside, without onsite parking? No.
Same with Issaquah and Bellevue. People still drove to those areas to dine outside, and like the video noted, some alternatives are valet parking (Old Main Street and Pike Place Market), Uber/Lyft, and cities like Issaquah allowing more street parking, and not surprisingly these alternatives benefit the wealthier and higher end restaurants.
Is Covid going to reduce car usage, and even in LA create a utopian urbanist/transit vision? No, the evidence so far is Covid has been terrible for transit, because there is much less traffic congestion these days so why not drive, folks are afraid they will get Covid if they ride transit, they are not commuting to work, and housing desires are becoming less urban, although if Covid forces cities like LA to look at burdensome permit regulations including restaurants which was the real point of the video, that is always good, especially in California.
The best thing for transit (and restaurants) is for Covid to go away, so more folks want to go out to restaurants, and take transit, and maybe even return to the office. If we are repurposing parking lots to replace indoor dining due to the fear and risk of contracting Covid that is not good for restaurants, or transit.
I was skeptical last winter that the outside dining scene would continue, and yet, it did! (Never mind that creating a weather controlled indoor environment “outdoors” was probably not much better than actually being indoors!).
As far as parking, LA has tons of it! You might have to walk a block or two. Which you probably had to anyway because good luck actually scoring one of those parking spots right in front of the restaurant or bar. Finally, with so many offices closed, there’s a lot of parking capacity that isn’t being used. Oh, and I also heard they have something called Uber in LA too;) Parking is a major reason people use Uber, even before the pandemic when all of those parking spots were available for cars.
Still, I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll be on the back side of this pandemic or at least in a lull between waves over the holidays.
Get the vaccine, folks.
Lots of parking lots are oversized to the point where even if every single customer drives (in a separate car), there are still tons of empty spaces. Converting some of these unnecessary parking spaces into outdoor dining should be a no-brainer. The only reason such parking spaces existed in the first place is because municipal parking codes are often by officials who have no idea how much parking a business really needs, and prefer to error on the side of requiring too much than too little (which increases the cost of doing business and turns the city into and ugly sea of asphalt). Even when cities realize they made a mistake and required way too much parking, they don’t correct because existing business that already built the unnecessary parking lobby to keep the requirement in place in order to deter competition from opening up near them. So, nothing changes.
If some of the restaurant patrons choose to park on the street, so what? Residents do not “own” the street, and parking spaces that turn over every couple hours feels like better use of limited space that parking spaces where one car just sits there all day (because the owner works from home) and never moves. There is literally no other situation where you can just borrow 150 sq. feet from someone (or the city), store your belongings in it, and not expect to pay anything in rent. But, somehow, when the belonging being stored is a car, people have come to expect this. They really shouldn’t. If residents don’t like having to search for parking, they can either sell their car or pay to park in a garage.
“Could Dick’s survive without parking? No.”
Do similar restaurants survive in Europe without parking? Yes. They locate near major transit stations and people walk up to them. The Dick’s on Broadway gets a lot of walk-ups. When cities are walkable and transit is ubiquidous, most people don’t have cars because they’re more trouble than they’re worth, or if they do have a car they only use it for weekend getaways or carrying furniture around. Instead they gather at transit stations and walk somewhere, which could be to a Dick’s-type restaurant. It’s not that restaurants can’t survive without parking, it’s that cities and suburbs have made themselves unwalkable, and Dick’s is either adapting to that or is choosing drivers as its target market.
“Could Dick’s survive without parking? ”
It depends on the Dick’s. There are seven Dick’s Drive In restaurants. The most famous Dick’s is on Broadway. In the classic Sir Mix-A-Lot tune “Posse on Broadway”, this is the Dick’s where the cool hang out. This Dick’s would do just fine without a parking lot.
The same is true for (Lower) Queen Anne. Wallingford, Lake City and Edmonds would take a hit, but probably be OK. Even Kent might survive, being relatively close to the college. Holman Road would likely struggle the most.
References: https://www.ddir.com/locations/, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QElKVs56z48.
The most famous Dick’s from”Posse on Broadway” is of course referring to that location. But almost all of his references are long gone. Torn down, or otherwise. 23rd and Union intersection is there, of course. But nothing on that intersection is. His neighborhood, gentrified away. Plus if you look at the album cover, it is a picture of the Dick’s on 45th. Look it up. Even Sir Mix Alot knew way back in 1987, that a true drive inn would make a better album cover. Broadway is no where on the album.
I walked up to the Kent Dick’s to see what the environment is like and how true were the protests that locating a Link maintenance facility there would be devastating to the neighborhood. That’s one sign of a bad location decision for the restaurant. It’s a standalone building, just the kitchen and counter, surrounded by parking that’s at least as large as it. I would have put the restaurant at sidewalk level, and in a larger building with apartments above it. Then it could make a better case for not being bulldozed.
One good thing about that Dick’s burger, it was better than I expected, and better than the 1970s-like tasteless Dick’s burgers I’ve gotten in the past. It tasted charbroiled, which i think is the best kind. But I still don’t see why people flock to Dick’s for a burger that’s like a Quarter Pounder or a 1970s burger (just a small patty, bun, pickle slice, mustard, and ketchup) and fries and shake. The shake is real ice cream, great, but if I want to have a meal I’d rather have pho or yakisoba or a sub sandwich on a baguette, not a half-rate burger as if gourmet burgers with lots of toppings and steak fries don’t exist.
I accidentally deleted a significant sentence. The bad location was referring to the fact that it’s up a small hill from the sidewalk, so it’s not the easiest to walk to, and the door isn’t just right there as you’re waling past. Having a door next to the sidewalk means people are more likely to spontaneously walk in if they weren’t previously intending to go to Dick’s. Having it up a hill where you have to walk in the car driveway and through the parking lot just makes it feel like a place for cars, and walk-ups are an afterthought. That’s one reason why walk-up clientele at the Dicks’ outside Broadway and Queen Anne may be low.
As a former employee of Dick’s, I can tell you that the Broadway store’s walkability and fame does not equate to more profit. In the before times, the Wallingford store made significantly more money from UW students driving to the restaurant, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. In fact, those nights were so frenetic there’d be over a hundred mainly drunk white males desperately trying to get the last burgers of the night. Dick’s had to hire off duty SPD just to control the masses.
Dick’s thrives in a large part due driving traffic. The Wallingford store at one point was so popular it paid for the operating costs and employee wages for the entire chain. Entire busses would stop in and every passenger would have an order. You can’t get that kind of traffic on Broadway.
Sidewalk seating is one of the things people say they love about Paris. Why is it a good and proper thing in Paris but here it’s an encroachment of the sidewalk and public space? I don’t mind sidewalk seating because I’ve always thought we should have more of it anyway. And as long as covid is circulating, I’d rather eat outside.
Eating areas in parking lots aren’t displacing cars. The spaces are empty either because the parking lot was always ovesized or because the clientele has shrunk during the pandemic. I had ribs at a pop-up restaurant in a parking lot across from the South Renton P&R. It looked like a case where the parking lot was oversized.
I’m curious which businesses will work to keep their cafe streets permits and which will not. It’s my understanding that Dan Strauss and Andrew Lewis are working with SDOT to develop a long-term street cafe street permit that would have a fee associated with it to help pay for enforcement and processes. I’d like to see some process by which businesses or residents can vote to pedestrianize their street.
With ongoing transit improvements and increasing density, the relative benefits of private car ownership are dwindling in the city – or, more accurately, car ownership is becoming more expensive as the extreme historical subsidies dwindle. It’s remarkable how effective the marketing and classism was in the midcentury (and onward) to make the extreme costs of car ownership so invisible.
It’s pretty revealing that the working class are keeping their cars longer and longer and still having to take out 6 – 7 year loans (vs. 3 – 5 just a decade ago!) to “afford” these “cheap” used cars.
The heyday of cars being affordable for the working class is over. Covid has only accelerated this trend–as it has done with many trends.
The cost of a car is still trivial compared to the cost of “close in” housing.
And that’s why housing costs are going bonkers way outside Seattle/Bellevue DT. Only having to drive 2-3 times a week is another factor.
From a Microsoft Redmond campus modernization construction update: “The campus underground parking garage is considered one of the largest underground parking structures in the world at 3 million square feet spread over four levels. It’s large enough to fit an estimated 8,000 school buses.”
I guess that tells us what they think East Link.
Let’s start with some math. A standard parking space is about 150 square feet, but a parking lot or garage typically has to have about 300 square feet per space in order to allow sufficient room for the cars to get in and out without being boxed in. That means 3 million square feet hosts approximately 10,000 cars.
Sounds like a lot. But, according to Wikipedia, the Microsoft campus holds 53,576 employees today, a number which is likely to grow in the future. Even if the long term future involves most people only coming to the office 3 days per week instead of 5, it is clear that Microsoft is absolutely assuming a non-trivial number of employees will take public transit to work (a lot of them probably on East Link). If every employee tried to drive to the office on the same day, all those cars would simply not fit.
Of course, not every employee is going to ride East Link to work, nor is it reasonable to expect that. But, one parking space per 5 employees is not at all bad. All things considered, it’s actually quite good.
I think it is less an indictment of East Link and more a critique of transit popularity in general. East Link is funded — it will happen. But if Metro is underfunded, than the East Side will continue to have crappy transit, even if a train runs through much of it. Seattle didn’t get decent transit until voters decided to pay for it themselves — and that is slowly slipping away.
To be fair, the Microsoft Campus is on the edge of the metropolis. There are urban pockets nearby, but it is largely suburban. What surrounds it on three sides is cars and wilderness. It isn’t surprising they figure they need a big parking garage. Now if it was in downtown Bellevue it would be a different story.
I don’t think the transit story on the Eastside has much to do with money. The service is there; the B, 245, 271, 545, and 550 are all reasonably frequent. But reliability and speed are poor (inexplicably wide roads with no bus lanes), and all of these routes go through territory that is very low density. It’s all about how we’re allocating space.
It’s cultural. The Eastside’s level of service is similar to South King County and about half of Seattle’s level, but the Eastside’s ridership is the lowest. The E and 120 and 40 are busy all day. The 150, 101, and 160 (former 169+180S) a second level. The B struggles to meet those (although sometimes it surprises you). The 250 (the main local route between Bellevue, Kirkland, and Redmond) is surprisingly low. The 550 pre-covid was packed peak hours, but probably not as high middays as the 150 or 101. The 545 was packed in the tech peak (8-10:30am) but plummeted evenings and weekends. Eastsiders are on average well off and live there because they like large yards and car-oriented retail and cul-de-sacs, and all of those depress ridership.
I don’t think the transit story on the Eastside has much to do with money. The service is there; the B, 245, 271, 545, and 550 are all reasonably frequent.
Relative to what? The bulk of the transit options on the East Side? That is my point. In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king. In the land of the crap those buses look fantastic.
all of these routes go through territory that is very low density
Yes, absolutely. But that is one of the causes of the problem, not the solution. The solution is to spend the money to create a better network. You won’t get huge numbers of riders (because of the low density) but you will at least have a decent network. It might seem crazy to spend a bunch of money for relatively few riders, but compared to ST3 plans for the area (Issaquah to South Kirkland) it is quite sensible. The East Side is like *most* of the United States. It doesn’t need multi-billion dollar investments in rail, it needs better bus service (and some of the street level improvements you mentioned — similar to what Seattle has been chipping away at).
RR-8 goes through about as low density as you can get between DT and Crossroads (a private golf course on one side). But that’s a feature as it provides Express service between Crossroads and DT. From Crossroads all the way to M$FT it’s turned into incredibly high density. Then into Redmond it makes a long detour down 148th and through the warehouse district to sneak in the back door to Redmond. Maybe this tail will go away when the Redmond Link extension opens.
There would be great commuter coverage if the public were able to ride the special HS bus service. But the school district contracts that from Metro. Maybe the City could kick in matching funds? The buses I’ve seen are not even close to capacity. Regular yellow bus routes (K-8) however are routed every year to make sure they run full. Some of the Crossroads stops load 20+ kids at a time.
“the B, 245, 271, 545, and 550 are all reasonably frequent.”
I posted some time ago about how on Sundays and evenings, the B is the only frequent route in entire the Eastside I can think of.
“RR-8 goes through about as low density as you can get between DT and Crossroads (a private golf course on one side). But that’s a feature as it provides Express service between Crossroads and DT.”
I’ve ridden buses on that part of 8th Street for forty years, and I did yesterday. It’s not express fast, and the golf course is about as wide as one bus stop span. The walls mask what’s behind them, but there are apartments on the north side and some condos on the south side. I’ve always thought this area should be denser, and I thought it would be Link’s corridor before ST chose Bel-Red. But it’s not low density, not in the sense that Phantom Lake or Somerset or Sherwood Forest or West Lake Sammamish Parkway are.
Yesterday I had a chance to take the 226. Usually I can’t because it’s hourly on weekends. But it was there when the 550 arrived so I ran to it. I expected to be the only person on the bus, but there were two other people also running for it, and two already on it. So with our threshold of 10 riders/hour for a minimum efficient bus route, that was half the riders right there.
Going back I would have just missed the 226 so I took the B. I made sure to get to Bellevue TC before 7:30pm when the 550 drops to half-hourly.
I also posted about the time last year I wanted to go from downtown Bellevue to downtown Redmond on a weekend. I don’t go to Redmond much but I vaguely thought there’s an ST Express bus. It turns out that’s peak only, and on weekends there’s nothing faster than the B. The B is reasonably fast between downtown Bellevue and Crossroads, but it’s not between Crossroads and Redmond. There should be something faster between Bellevue and Redmond. And there will be with East Link.
One good thing about the B I found that time was that it stops at a better entrance to the Sammamish River Trail than the 545 does, meaning there’s a ramp instead of stairs.
Another thing holding back eastside transit besides poor frequency is a lot of routes that meander, prioritizing coverage of the single family home areas over connecting together the major population centers in a straight line. The 250 is a rare exception to this, connecting downtown Kirkland and downtown Redmond in a straight line down the major arterial – and it shows. At least anecdotally, the 250 gets considerably more riders than the other Kirkland-areas routes do, including the 255 (at least on the weekend; I generally don’t ride on weekdays, so I don’t know what the ridership is like then).
To make transit on the eastside worth riding, we need more routes like the 250. Downtown Bellevue->downtown Redmond has always lacked a straight-line connection. The B-line is good for DT Bellevue->Crossroads, but too slow to be the only option for DT Redmond->DT Bellevue. Link will fill in that hole very nicely. Another area due for an overhaul is the Eastgate area, which requires far too much meandering to get anywhere. 148th and 156th should each have straight-line buses going down them from Overlake to I-90, but don’t.
And then, of course, there’s the 249, which is a total joke of a route.
Of course, fixing this is easier said than done. Faster and more frequent bus routes between the major activity centers would likely come at the cost of coverage to areas that have nothing but single family houses. My personal opinion is that it’s worth it, as the multifamily and commercial areas in the eastside is where the real ridership potential is, not the single family homes. The single family areas can get bus stops where they happen to be “on the way”, but we shouldn’t add detours to trips where we’re actually trying to attract riders in order to serve them. For the most part, Daniel Thompson’s statements about the eastside accurately describe areas such as Phantom Lake, which consist of nothing but freestanding houses and yards; his mistake is that he overgeneralizes and assumes that entire eastside is like that, ignoring the potential to build real ridership in the eastside’s denser areas, such as downtown Redmond, downtown Bellevue, downtown Kirkland, Overlake, and Crossroads – if we can serve them with transit that does not suck.
The stop spacing for RR-B on NE 8th is a 1/2 mi with one of the stops literally at the golf course. They put them “on the 8s” which is typically Bellevue’s N/S through streets. 116th will get a lot of on/offs when East Link opens. You’d think 140th would get some ridership but I rarely see anyone use any of the stops. They inserted a stop at 143rd (Stevenson & Odle). Nobody uses that stop and in the AM/PM school rush the right lane both directions is a parking lot that takes minutes to get through. Move that stop 10 blocks east and it would be where the apartments start. Then the bus could use the left lane through the school zone.
Metro killed the 249. It was mostly the dogs dinner of route tails from past revisions. This now leaves zero service on NE 20th (aka Northup) from 116th to 148th and then no coverage until 156th. There’s a huge apartment building (or maybe condos?) going up at 130th (replacing a self storage) which will be a short walk to the Link station. This is the route the 249 should have been using. BTC to 120th to 20th to Bel-Red to Overlake Village. Past there it could cover 148th to Old Redmond Rd so RR-B doesn’t have to.
255 gets way more ridership than the 250 because it serves Google and more of DT Kirkland. You just wouldn’t want to transfer if coming from BTC. Lk WA Blvd is sort of a major arterial for Kirkland but I don’t see many people that live on the lake using transit. Maybe if they work in Seattle. The 255 took a hit when truncated at Husky Stadium. Nobody is going to make that transfer to get to DT Seattle when East Link opens. If not going DT Seattle it would be better to truncate at BTC via Bellevue Way; another transit desert.
I think East Link opening will be more profound than many others think.
1. The fast, high-frequency trains will give the wide public perception of fast connections to lots of different places that people visit for various reasons. It’s effectively a new “spine” that will be understood at a basic level. ST 550 doesn’t have that strong of a core service perception. I think most of the Eastside will expect every bus route to pass by a Link station (except for Renton — which is 1/6 of the East asking subarea yet so many people don’t want to deal with this fact).
2. Getting to the 11 Eastside stations (9 in 2023) will get a heightened localized focus. Many key Eastside destinations are within walking distance so the destination connection won’t be a major disincentive for riding transit. This has implications for every access mode at the home end as this appears to be the “weakest” connection for transit — park and ride, drop-offs and pick-ups, walking, bicycling and local transit connectivity. Everything around a station from curb stops to parking supply and pricing to sidewalks to trail connections will probably get renewed close, localized scrutiny.
3. Riders crossing Lake Washington will look to using Link to get not to Downtown Seattle, but also UW, SeaTac, some medical facilities and Capitol Hill destinations. The perceived “safety” (short waits, reliable train arrivals, well-lit stations with monitoring, quietness that street-side bus stops don’t offer) is a less quantifiable but still an important new consideration when Eastsiders choose modes for making trips.
4. Eastside destinations will quickly be more attractive for many Seattle residents. For example, there is no Macy’s near a Link station currently and Bellevue Square will offer that when East Link opens. Thus, not only jobs but shopping, entertainment and recreation on the Eastside will seem much easier.
5. I expect Judkins Park to be more attractive than people think now. Thousands if new apartments are being developed. ST’s own forecasts are that about 10 percent if all East Link boardings (closer to 15 percent if the stations opening in 2023) will be at this station. Metro will need to somehow rethink Judkins Park connectivity beyond just Route 8 ( the only JP route listed on their East Link restructuring discussion).
6. The high number of immigration to the Eastside from places around the US and world with established rail transit use will be a core group of “new Link riders”. They often won’t carry the anti-transit-usefulness bias that many Eastside lifelong residents over 45 do.
You are correct that the opening of East Link will have a profound impact on regional transportation, but don’t forget that the opening of East Link will also improve transit in Seattle.
When East Link opens the core LR route through Seattle (IDS to NGS) will get a doubling of frequency with headways dropping to 3:45 during peak times. That is something that this region has never seen before, and something that really can’t be duplicated with buses.
Although it won’t be as big a change as the other things you list, it will still be a significant improvement. And I certainly look forward to it.
Yes East Link will be highly visible whereas only commuters and die hard transit fans know about the 550. The street/station area improvements you mention have already happened. Bellevue got ST to pay for almost all of the Northup upgrades so the 520 bike trail is almost connected. All of the crossings in the Spring District got sidewalks where none existed before.
Metro will need to somehow rethink Judkins Park connectivity beyond just Route 8
You mean the 7. That’s pretty darn good coverage. I walked over to the station last week but it’s completely barricaded off. I could see they are putting in a pedestrian overpass to access the west side of Rainier. Hopefully there will be access and pedestrian improvements on the east side of Rainier. From satellite views the station looks to connect also to the 48 on 23rd Ave S. I’ll hike over that way next week.
I know of two large apartments between Judkins Park and Dearborn that have notices up but haven’t started construction. There’s at least one crane NE of there which I presume is more apartments. I don’t expect any of the old industrial buildings in this area are long for this world.
The new 255 was never really given a chance, since COVID hit the moment the restructuring happened. The construction activity on 520 and the Montlake bridge hasn’t exactly helped either. Neither has the fact that the UW has not been open for normal operations in the past 18 months. These are all reasons why I typically observe more ridership on the 250 than 255. I still think the move was the right decision and will eventually pay off. We just have to be patient for COVID to end, the UW to fully reopen, and the Montlake construction to finish.
We need to get off the mindset that the bus exists to get people to one and only one destination (downtown Seattle), and for everywhere else, that’s for cars, and the 255 restructure is a good step in this direction, trading direct access to downtown for much better frequency of service.
I definitely agree with asdf2 on the new 255 routing. Even without UW back, traffic is back on I-5 and the current route even with the bottleneck at Montlake is an improvement on that. Combined with the frequency boost, we’ve actually taken the 255 more in the last year despite the pandemic than we’ve ever taken it before. We’ve actually taken the 250->255 from downtown Bellevue to get back to the U-District to avoid the slog the 550 makes, and the lack of frequency/over-crowding on the 271.
The 255 Montlake Muddle definitely shouldn’t have even been considered until after the 520 construction is finished. And by then East Link will be open. And the bus/HOV connection to the express lanes will be closer to reality. Once the Montlake lid is done there will be a hugely upgraded flyer stop capability at Montlake with frequent service to UW. Or you can transfer at one of the freeway stations on the eastside to a UW bus. The only riders it helps are those that were going to the UW but the greater number are/were trying to go DT. And even for those headed to anywhere but the stadium or Med Center are transferring anyway.
What frequency did they add? At peak when there was actually a capacity issue the 255 was constantly bunching. Sometimes three bus playing leap frog. Off peak it was already one of the most frequent routes on the eastside but mostly empty except between the P&R and DT; north of Kirkland it was really empty.
Bernie, the 255 was half-hourly at all times except peak, even dropping down to hourly after (IIRC) 9PM. It’s now got 8-10 minute peak service, and 15-20 minute off-peak service, including weekends until evenings when it drops back to half-hourly. That frequency boost would be huge even for a Seattle route, and is exceptional for an Eastside route. I doubt Metro could have made it happen without truncating it to the U-District. It even stops directly outside the Montlake station, which makes for better transfers to Link than any in-city bus route.
Now that Link is back up to decent headways, I don’t think there’s any loss in time for downtown-bound riders even if you happen to just miss a train. For everyone else, it’s a huge improvement, and will get even better once Northgate Link opens.
The route 255 change is about more than just riders headed directly to UW. Anyone headed anywhere north of the UW saves a transfer. Anyone headed to Fremont or Wallingford saves time with a more direct route, even if the number of transfers is the same.
The the idea of “just transfer to a U-district bus at a freeway station” is not viable when the only U-district bus that serves the freeway stations is the 542, which runs only half-hourly (the 271 does not serve either of the two freeway stations and cannot be made to serve them without creating a coverage hole that would require an expensive shuttle bus to fill, which would get minimal ridership). The time penalty to reach the U-district under the old 255 was several times larger than the time penalty to reach downtown under the new 255, enough to completely cancel out the benefits of the old 255 if net rider savings is the goal here.
As to off-peak frequency…Bernie is probably referring to the old 255’s midday weekday frequency, which was every 15 minutes. The problem is, for anyone has a normal 9-5 job and uses the bus to get to nonwork activities, the weekday midday schedule is nearly useless. You shouldn’t be forced to take time off of work and burn vacation days, just to be able to get somewhere on a decent-frequency bus. What matters to me a lot more is the evening/weekend schedule. There, the old 255 was every 30 minutes at best. On weekends, it dropped to every 60 minutes as early as 6-7 PM, not 9 PM – around 7 PM, the schedule even had a 70-minute gap. So, even a simple trip such as going into Seattle to visit a restaurant on a Saturday night would require a long wait for an hourly bus to get back. If the restaurant was in northeast Seattle, this would be on top of the 542->255 connection, where a Montlake bridge opening might leave you stuck at Yarrow Point for a full hour.
That’s not to say Metro could not have done better. They could have a probably should have introduced a special route for major construction events, such as the Montlake bridge closure, that would serve at least one stop downtown, given that the bus has to make a long detour, anyway. But, this was still a change that needed to happen.
Judkins Park Station will be on both the 7 and 48. That’s both of the major north-south routes in the area. The 8 not directly on it but is just five blocks away through the I-90 trail park. The western entrance of the station is at Rainier, and the eastern entrance is at 23rd. The trail is open at least between 23rd and the Mercer Island Bridge; I walked it last week. I don’t know if it’s open west of there, but if it is, it goes around the northeast side of Beacon Hill, where there’s a park and I think a Korean pagoda, and an exit at the 12th Avenue bridge. That’s as far as I’ve taken it but it’s supposed to continue to SODO.
The 249 is coming back in October. It was just suspended for covid.
I don’t believe they got much if any service hour benefit from the UW truncation. If traffic is bad to DT it’s bad through Montlake and likely worse now with the construction. The original story was they didn’t have stop capacity DT since the bus tunnel was gone. There was a game of spin the bottle and the 255 lost.
They got hours from killing routes like the 249 which for sure needed to be changed. I pulled up the Fall 2019 report (pre Covid, pre restructure). For the 249 riders per platform hr (Peak/Off Peak/Night) 17.59, 16.55, 10.83. For the 255, 23.95, 17.51, 13.69. For an Urban route that had a P&R and DT service the 255 sucked. Except for peak it was colored black as being bottom 25% in performance . It’s a commuter bus and excels in miles per platform hour. Even compared to the crappy routing the 249 was stuck with it barely beat it off peak and nights when it already had better frequency. You remove it’s major destination and throw money where the performance sucks? Yes, you increase frequency you increase ridership but the same could be said for the 249 which just needed fixed rather than shot in the head.
Thanks for the info on the 249. Unfortunately they didn’t take this opportunity to fix the route. Doubt they get any riders along W Lk Sammamish Pkwy. 156th to Bell-Red (snow route) and then all of Northup would save miles of nothing and provide coverage for people shopping or working along 20th. The Overlake Sears will soon be multistory mixed use. You get Fred Meyer, Amazon GO and a relatively short walk to two Safeways. I’m sure the coverage on Bellevue Way north of BTC will be a welcome return. I don’t know about the south end loop other than it’s all single family very expensive real estate; just like the north loop.
The 8 not directly on it but is just five blocks away through the I-90 trail park.
Would a “cross town” bus from MLK to Beacon Hil on Massachusetts make any sense? I’m not sure if that road can handle a bus the entire way but some general variant thereof.
If we are talking about what *should have happened” there should have been a better intercept on 520. Something like an elevator down to platform level and a moving sidewalk to go the 8 blocks north to the UW station, or some such accommodation for the 520 routes.
Would a “cross town” bus from MLK to Beacon Hill on Massachusetts make any sense?
On the old long range plan there was something similar. The bus started at Madison and MLK, then went south on MLK to Jackson. From there it would dogleg to 23rd, then go by the station and continue to College (not Massachusetts). Then it would up Beacon Hill on College, and then turn and lay over at the station. The plan was to run it infrequently.
Metro’s long range plan website doesn’t seem to be working. The only reason I think I’ve got the details right is because I based one of the routes on one of my proposals on it (https://seattletransitblog.com/2018/11/15/east-seattle-bus-restructure/).
Yeah, or just another station where 520 intersects Link.
It is crazy that the 520 project and Link weren’t coordinated better. WSDOT is going to spend billions adding HOV lanes on 520, connecting it to the express lanes of I-5. Either buses just skip the UW (and Link) to get on the express lanes, or buses don’t use them. It is a huge missed connection. If there were a Link stop there, some buses could keep going (e. g. peak-only express buses to South Lake Union and Lower Queen Anne) while other buses would just end in Montlake.
Even if WSDOT didn’t spend the money on the extra (and arguably unneeded) HOV lanes, the ability for 520 buses to connect to Link without going over the Montlake bridge would be huge. It is amazing that a system so fixated on serving the suburbs managed to completely ignore the needs of an inner suburb like Kirkland (and the surrounding areas).
Another thing holding back eastside transit besides poor frequency is a lot of routes that meander …
That is another casualty of funding. If an agency lacks money, then the routes will wander to provide coverage. With extra money an agency can provide straighter, more frequent routes, along with other routes that provide coverage.
There are other problems, as mentioned. Metro could do a better job serving the area (e. g. the 271 should go on Bellevue Way). The low density of much of the East Side will make it difficult to get big results if they improve service. But the biggest problem, by far, is that transit service is underfunded on the East Side, as it is in most of this country. East Link will definitely help — and is a worthy project — but ST3 funding for the East Side is an especially bad value. They would be better off just putting all the money into improved bus service, which would enable a better network.
there should have been a better intercept on 520
Originally there was no plan to access the Montlake Lid from the HOV lane. WSDOT fixed that so there can be a new flyer stop for 520 buses much nicer than the old one. With the 43, 48, 271 and 542 you’ve got a bus every 2-4 minutes during peak. Unfortunately there was no practical way to maintain the flyer stop during construction so 255 riders would mostly have to tansfer to Link DT to get to the UW or transfer twice to take a bus from BTC. The best interim solution would be for a dedicated BTC to UW route for the duration of the construction. But then who loses to pay for this coverage. Reroute the 271 through S Kirkland P&R instead of Medina; the greater good?
Bernie, I meant Route 8. I was not mistaken.
Here is the Metro pay presenting the restructuring and only Route 8 is listed as a studied low-digit route:
I think a good case to at least consider some other route changes as well. Specifically, Route 4 and Route 27 seem like other routes that could ultimately run by the future 23rd Ave entrance and be extended from their end points into Beacon Hill.
There just isn’t a good way for the 8 to divert to Judkins Park. It could cut over on Massachusetts but then would have to go all the way to Jackson to get back. If someone is coming from the south, easy just take the 7 or the 48. The 48 could jog over to MLK but that’s a transfer and doesn’t buy much if anything over just staying on the 8 until MLK and Rainer cross. If you’re north of 90 the 8 already jogs over to 23rd or you take a bus DT to get East Link just like you would Central Link. It would be nice to have three major routes directly serve Judkins East Link transfer but 2 out of 3 ain’t bad. The 8 is really only 4 blocks away so it’s going to be hard to beat simply walking. Probably the most bang for the buck would be pedestrian/transfer improvements at Mt Baker.
I think that too, Bernie. The only reasonable way for Route 8 to get to Judkins Park Station is to also change other nearby routes to replace moved segments. That’s why I said that only listing Route 8 on the restructure page seems inadequate.
I said years ago that Judkins Park needed a transit turnaround. I mentioned Forest Hills Station in San Francisco as an example. I don’t think any other STB poster agreed that it would be a valuable investment at the time.
Where would a turn-around go? I could see a one-way semi-circle loop with a monument and/or a plaza for street fairs in the middle on top of the lid east of 23rd Ave, or a transit layover point inside the I-90 to Rainier Ave loop ramp (that has been recommended to be reshaped to land perpendicular to Rainier Ave.). There may be other places for one too.
With a turnaround, Route 8 could end at Judkins Park or continue to Beacon Hill — and Route 106 or Route 4 could then be rerouted to serve MLK south of Massachusetts to get to Mt Baker Station. Another approach could be to leave Route 8 on MLK to Mt Baker, then doubling back to Judkins Park (eliminating the Route 4 tail south of I-90). With a turnaround, Metro would have many new options to have more routes serve Judkins Park.
Metro has toyed with splitting Route 8 at Madison. If that happens, Route 8 should certainly become a longer route with Judkins Park Station as the middle point. It wouldn’t make sense to have a relatively short route from Madison/MLK to Judkins Park (or Mt Baker for that matter).
There just isn’t a good way for the 8 to divert to Judkins Park.
Agreed. Although just to clarify a bit, there is no way easy way to serve MLK and the station. I mention this because it is quite likely the 8 will not serve MLK after Madison BRT (AKA RapidRide G). My guess is Metro takes the tail of the 11 (to Madison Park) and merges it with the 8 (to Uptown).
Anyway, back to bus service on MLK. The 8 does manage to go back and forth between 23rd and MLK. At first glance, this would seem to be a solution: simply move the back-and-forth dogleg further south, close to the station. The problem is, there is no easy way to go east-west between the streets south between Jackson and the station. So that means having the bus go between MLK and 23rd at both Jackson and Massachusetts. This is OK, but still not great. The bus would be spending a lot of time going back and forth while providing less coverage.
And then what? To the north it could provide coverage for 19th, as the 12 goes away. Better yet, it could serve 15th, while the 10 shifts over to 19th. To the south there aren’t many options, but it could cover the tail of the 14, allowing the 14 to take a more direct route to Mount Baker.
That would be an improvement, but add little from a network standpoint. The bus would be coverage in nature while also being fairly close to a faster, more frequent bus. Unlike the 8, I don’t see many 2-seat rides with that route (other than trips to Bellevue). Density is good, but a lot of riders would simply walk over to the more frequent 48.
Which probably explains why Metro wanted to send it to Beacon Hill. This gives this bus something from a network standpoint. For example, a trip from Cleveland to Garfield would involve the 60 and this bus (instead of a three-seat ride). I like this as a basic idea, but would alter it slightly based on your ideas.
First I would get rid of the double dogleg. Metro replaces it with a single dogleg at Jackson. This creates a service hole for part of MLK, but that part of the C. D. has parallel service to the east (with the 14). An alternative would be to have it stay on MLK all the way to Massachusetts, then take a right and go up the hill. So that would mean this, basically: https://goo.gl/maps/ySn548Y5C77KCT6h9
There would be trade-offs, of course. There would be better coverage on MLK, and the bus would be faster (fewer turns) than Metro’s plan. The disadvantage is that riders would have to walk an extra three minutes to connect to the train (if the bus just stayed on MLK it would be five minutes). Neither route would connect to Link at Mount Baker. But both connect to Beacon Hill Station, and cross paths with the 106 and 7, so that wouldn’t be that bad (trips to the airport would be the only significant loss).
It is a tough call, but I think I would err on the side of coverage for this route. But if Metro proposes what they had in the long range plan*, then I wouldn’t fight it.
* It really sucks that the long range plan website no longer works. I tried to dig up references on the Wayback Machine, but it didn’t work (it is hard to gather up info from a dynamic website like that — it is too bad they didn’t just have a few pdfs as a backup).
The 8 will be rerouted to Madison Park when RapidRide G (Madison) stars, and will no longer turn south. This was part of RapidRide G planning and was in earlier U-Link and recession cuts restructure proposals. All of these delete the 11 and 12 and reroute the 8 to Seattle Center-Madison Park.
The MLK part of the 8 will become a shuttle route from MLK & Madison to Mt Baker in Metro Connects. The detour at Yesler-23rd-Jackson is to be split into two routes, with the 8 keeping the north MLK-Yesler-23rd part and another route taking over the 23rd-Jackson-south MLK part. That must be what people are referring to when they say the 8 will be rerouted serve to Judkins Park Station.
I would guess that the “least incremental change” would be for Route 8 is to move the southern CD jog street (between 23rd and MLK) from Jackson to Massachusetts.
The problem then becomes the loss of service on MLK between Jackson and Massachusetts. Is it worth replacing? Perhaps. That’s where the restructure planning is seemingly inadequate because no other routes are listed.
Rather than speculate, I really think the Metro route structure around Judkins Park needs to be more comprehensively revisited. Added to that, I think the study should approach the alternatives both with and without a place to turn buses around to see if that investment has value.
Has Metro actually come out with a real proposal for East Link? The only document I can find is this one, (https://kingcounty.gov/depts/transportation/metro/programs-projects/fares-routes-and-service/east-link-connections.aspx) which mentions the routes it might change. According to the timeline, there should be a proposal summer of 2021, which gives them less than a month.
As for what will actually happen, it is anyone’s guess. It does seem likely that *eventually* the 8 will go to Madison Park, but it isn’t a certainty. Nothing is when it comes to a restructure. I certainly didn’t see half of what Metro proposed for Northgate Link.
My own prediction is that they do very little on the 8 this time. I certainly don’t see a split. Al’s suggestion sounds like a good prediction, as it minimizes disruption, but serves the station. I also think it is possible they do nothing (and just wait for the big restructure that will come with RapidRide G). They could wrap those two restructures into the same thing, but so far they aren’t.
Maybe we should take bets for changes to the 8 for East Link:
1) Do nothing until RapidRide G (2024). (2-1)
2) Move the doglegs to Jackson and Massachusetts. (2-1)
3) Split the 8. (3-1)
4) Something else. (2-1)
Yeah Ross, rather than modify only one route, I think “do nothing” is most likely and seems the best way to go. With Judkins Park opening in 2023 and Madison in 2024-5 the dates seem too close to make two restructures.
The service today is also decent enough to where major changes are not really needed on opening day anyway.
Once open, I expect these things to happen:
1. The new 23rd Ave entrance and the more accessible Rainier Ave entrance will shift transit riders from Metro to ST if they live within 1/3 of a mile from those entrances.
2. Buses will see more ride-to-Link riders that live between 1/3 to 1 mile away if they go near an entrance, with those riders no longer going all the way to Downtown.
3. The few thousand apartments opening up south of the station will add transit riders.
4. Renewed interest in better connecting First Hill to Judkins Park will happen.
I think it’s better to discuss restructuring once the station opens here. Riders often express hesitation about supporting something that isn’t a lived experience. Riders will be less likely to argue for current route alignments if they could see the advantage from the new station actually being open.
There is a chance that the dogleg moves, as Ross also suggests. The loss of service on MLK really isnt that drastic as part of the area is still served by Route 4, and Routes 14 and 48 are not that far away, and the new Link entrance won’t be too far away from the southern part of that area.
What is the reason for the Yesler/Jackson jog on the 8? Autozone was a must serve destination?
If everything about the 8 changes except the number then this is sort of a useless discussion. Really, what we’re talking about is delete the 8 and replace it with what?
Having a route called the 8 that goes from Seattle Center to Madison I can see as totally making sense. Then maybe take the “southern tail” and go Madison to Massachusetts, Judkins Park, and College? to Beacon Hill. Somehow should include Mt Baker in that shuttle. The thing about the 7, 48 & 8 near I-90 is that for that stretch they have 1/2 mile spacing (1/4 mile walkshed) coverage of a nice chuck of Seattle. Metro is rightly cautious of changing one of their long established successful route. I wish they’d be more committed to the “good” areas they decided to cover on the eastside and quit with the long tails that wander through neighborhoods of single family $1M+ houses.
I walked up to the 23rd station entrance yesterday. It’s the main entrance! Rainier is secondary. It’s hard to tell but looks like from the platform you have a ramp down to grade and have to cross the tracks before you can take more stairs down to Rainier. East side of Rainier you have the trail to go north. No idea about south; can’t get there from here during construction. Appears there is a ped bridge over Rainier to access the SB/west side of Rainier. I assume Metro will add stops on both 23rd and Rainier for the station. The Rainier stops could be covered from weather by the I-90 overpass.
One would think there would be signs/pictures of the area on the construction fences. Nope! ST Fail! Seriously, this would cost a few thousand dollars to do and generate a ton of good will. Instead there’s just a construction fence totally blocking the trail on SB Rainier and eating into the sidewalk on 23rd with zero explanation of what’s going on.
The Route 8 MLK segment jog to 23rd dates from a few decades ago when there was almost no commercial in the CD. There is a Walgreens there, and there was a Red Apple supermarket — and the library is at 23rd/ Yesler. Nowadays, the area has more supermarkets — but the library and pharmacy options are still limited.
As far as Al’s predictions:
1. Yes, definitely. Those close to the station will use it. The problem is that there aren’t that many people that are really close, although the numbers are growing. There has been a lot of low rise development close to the park. These are folks that only have the 4 as a way to get downtown. This part of the route only runs every every half hour, so this will be a big improvement. More about that later. Meanwhile, a lot of the development a bit further away is on Rainier (where it is a short walk to the 7). I think they will use the station only for trips to the East Side.
2. I doubt you’ll have a lot of bus-to-Link-to-downtown trips. I think bus to Link transfers will be almost entirely about getting to the East Side. I doubt anyone will get off the 7 or the 106 — the transfer won’t be that easy from that side and riders at that part are practically downtown. As it is, very few get off the 106 (even though the transfer is outstanding and it is a lot farther). I could see someone missing the 7, then taking the 48 and transferring, but that is only a small section of Rainier. (It would be a very different story if Metro/SDOT was merging the 48 and 7 as previously envisioned, but that idea seems to be dead). Finally, I doubt anyone will take a bus from the north and transfer (they will just take the one bus headed downtown).
3. There is a lot of development just about everywhere in Seattle. This will increase transit ridership. Whether people take Link or not depends on where they are going and how far they are from a station (see above).
4. There is a pretty weak argument for just connecting “Judkins Park and First Hill”. There is very little at Judkins Park, which means that is essentially a connection between the East Side and First Hill. It is also not that close, which means that such a bus would take a while. A lot of the riders would simply stay on the train until downtown, then transfer to Madison G — a bus that will run every six minutes even when the train is running every ten. On the other hand, the case for a Rainier Valley-First Hill-South Lake Union bus is very strong, and made a tiny bit stronger by the station. In other words, the use case you mention is just one small part of a route that should have been built years ago.
5. (My Prediction). The tail of the 4 will lose ridership. All of the folks that use it as their only way to go downtown will abandon it. There will be a handful of riders going from the East Side to Cherry Hill, but even then, some riders will just take the 3/4 combination from downtown, since it is a lot more frequent.
I think they will use the station only for trips to the East Side.
Sure people that are actually going DT will stay on the bus rather than transfer. But if they are headed to the UW or points north they’ll transfer to Link. There were a good number that used the 550 to get to jobs on the eastside. They’ve been hosed with the flyer stop gone. Don’t know how much of that will return.
Ross, I think you may not fully comprehend that there are many 5+1 apartment buildings in different rages of development between I-90 and Plum St just south of the station. I’m pretty sure it’s around or over 2000 new apartments in total. Many of those upcoming residents will walk to Judkins Park to ride Link rather than take a Metro bus. In 2021, it appears that there is more apartment construction in that area than on the remainder of Rainier Ave. It really is surprising to see so much happening recently.
I find it curious that Metro did not include Route 4 in its East Link opening restructures. I can’t speak for Metro planners, but I merely observed that leaving Route 4 in place gives Metro better justification to move the Route 8 jog down to Massachusetts (from Jackson) to pass by the station entrance. Otherwise, I’m stumped on why Route 8 is included at all since it’s the only Seattle route listed among candidate routes for change.
When I talk about First Hill access, I’m particularly referring to Harborview. I believe that you have even mentioned that it’s not within close walking distance to Madison.
Metro 8 is about a 5 minute walk from the east end of the Judkins Park station. Maybe they decided that by the time they made the bus route go through four turns to get it closer to the station, they were better off leaving it in the current location?
You could get better access by digging under 23rd and putting an access point on both sides, but it’s probably not worth the cost.
That’s right Bernie. I even think trips to Capitol Hill and Westlake will move to Link. It’s around 22 minutes to go from Rainier/ I-90 to Westlake on Metro Route 7 timetables. ST is saying it will be 10 minutes on Link. A rider could even miss a Link train and still get to Westlake faster!
Glenn, moving the 23rd Ave jog on Route 8 from Jackson to Massachusetts doesn’t add any turns. It’s simply changing the East-West street where the route turns.
I agree that adding new turns in the middle of any route slows it down.
Won’t it matter where all these new apartment dwellers south of Judkins Park are going when it comes to whether they will take Link, or use the Judkins Park Link station?
Going east it will likely be pretty tech oriented. Few will be going to Mercer Island because there are so few jobs there (but the grocery stores are a draw for Seattleites). Then there is downtown Bellevue, The Spring District, Wilburton, and Microsoft. But if the tenants in the 5+1 units south of Judkins Park are taking Link to jobs in these expensive areas wouldn’t they just live there (or on Capitol Hill?). What is the underlying draw of an apartment south of Judkins Park? Why do people choose to live there, and why do they ride transit?
Going west from Judkins Park you have the IDS, Pioneer Square and 3rd Ave., University Street and Westlake Station, but no SLU. But how many of these riders are going to SLU, and if they are, and are rental tenants, why not just rent in SLU? What does the data for the 7 show where riders exit the 7?
After that you have the UW and that could attract some Link riders from areas south of Judkins Park, but Roosevelt and Northgate hardly seem like destinations for people renting south of Judkins Park. I mean, where do they go now, and what mode do they use? How many will get to IDS and double back south on Link?
In answer to Ross’s questionnaire, my guess is Metro will do nothing until Judkins Park opens, the housing south of Judkins Park is completed, and Metro can figure out where those riders are going, and what mode they are using. I think the likelihood of expensive tunnels or bus intercepts for Judkins Park will be very low.
I don’t doubt areas south of Judkins Park are densifying, and many of those renters will use transit, but I am not sure they plan to go where Link goes.
In the past, not many people ever used the Rainier Freeway stop. On a busy day, one or two 550 riders would get on or off on a given trip. To suggest it’s going to magically transform into Grand Central Station after there’s rail is absurd.
Sam. Judkins Park Station expert.
The couple of times I rode the 550 from Seattle back to Bellevue in the afternoon (commute time) there were a dozen or more people boarding at the freeway station. All the restaurant workers and other service jobs are typically filled with people commuting into Bellevue. And Overlake Medical Center is 24/7. It won’t be just techies that commute on Link. With the extended hours many more will be able to use transit.
“ In the past, not many people ever used the Rainier Freeway stop. On a busy day, one or two 550 riders would get on or off on a given trip. To suggest it’s going to magically transform into Grand Central Station after there’s rail is absurd.”
Sam, I would venture to guess that most current Link stations have had significantly more riders pre-Covid than they did at their bus stops before the light rail station opened.
In the case of Judkins Park, there is a new 23rd Ave entrance that reduces walking by almost 1/4 of a mile for many people, new escalators and elevators on both sides of Rainier and a better protected platform that takes riders further with trains arriving more frequently until 10 pm at night. While we won’t know until 2023, I really doubt it will be anywhere close to as low as 550/554 boardings.
The thing about the 7, 48 & 8 near I-90 is that for that stretch they have 1/2 mile spacing (1/4 mile walkshed) coverage of a nice chuck of Seattle.
Not really. As they cross I-90, the 8 and 48 are roughly 1/4 mile apart. In contrast, the 14 and 48 are close to 1/2 mile apart.
That probably explains why Metro — in their long range plan — chose Jackson for the single dogleg. North of Jackson, a bus on MLK is the easternmost north-south bus. Take it away, and some people have a long walk to a bus. South of Jackson, they are always about 1/4 mile between the 14 and 48.
But if they are headed to the UW or points north they’ll transfer to Link.
Yeah, but they might transfer somewhere else. If they are on the 106, it would make sense to transfer sooner. If they are on the 7, then maybe they transfer at Mount Baker or just walk to a surface station. This transfer will be better than Mount Baker, but it won’t be as good as a surface transfers either. The best way to access this station will be from 23rd (as you mentioned). The only key section where it definitely makes sense to transfer is between Mount Baker and the freeway (a relatively short section).
Ross, I think you may not fully comprehend that there are many 5+1 apartment buildings in different rages of development between I-90 and Plum St just south of the station. I’m pretty sure it’s around or over 2000 new apartments in total.
There are some, but most are much closer to the 7 than the station. The area closest to the station is largely a mix of townhouses and parks (and roads). There is nothing wrong with the low rise development — it will add up, certainly. You also have a handful of older apartments.
I’m not saying there aren’t newer, bigger apartments, like this big development (https://courbanize.com/projects/grand-street-commons/information). But a lot of the new big buildings are right next to Rainier. For example, https://www.seattleinprogress.com/project/3029276/page/1. From there it is about a six minute walk to the elevators under the station. Then you have to go up and across. I figure ten minutes altogether, while the bus stop is right there. My guess a lot of the people in a lot of those places will just take the 7.
But then again, the fact that they are building so many apartments right next to a car sewer (way to go Seattle!) will likely push people towards the train station. If you are headed to downtown, there is a bus stop right across the street there, but you can’t get to it (https://goo.gl/maps/mjNYZS7RaSf7BbVv7). Might as well walk along Rainier (such a pleasant experience).
I find it curious that Metro did not include Route 4 in its East Link opening restructures.
My guess is they want to look at ridership before they kill it off. The tail of the 4 is a coverage route. It gives riders in that neck of the woods their only one-seat ride to downtown. Now they will have an alternative. At the same time, there may be a handful who take the 4 from the East Side to Cherry Hill. By waiting, it makes it easier for Metro to make their decision. The other advantage to waiting is that you might do it as part of a bigger restructure that comes with RapidRide G. That will likely include a lot of other improvements in the area (e. g. running the 48 more often) along with other things people don’t like (e. g. getting rid of the 43). If you just got rid of the tail of the 4 it makes it look like you are targeting that one area.
Right. But it is the same dynamic (just a different bus). Assume they run the bus we want (from Mount Baker to South Lake Union via Boren). Now imagine someone from the East Side wants to get to Harborview. They will just stay on the train to Pioneer Square and take the 3/4 up the hill. The 3/4 is very frequent (8 buses an hour) all day long. There is a very strong case for a Mount Baker to South Lake Union bus, but the fact that it will intersect East Link doesn’t make it much stronger.
…so many apartments right next to a car sewer … Might as well walk along Rainier (such a pleasant experience).
OK, Rainier isn’t a “walk in the park”. But it’s not just a car sewer; the 7 wouldn’t exist w/o the ROW. It’s a major trolley bus route and provides fast direct access to a lot of destinations.
On the east (NB) side of Rainier it is in fact a walk in the park from the station… well at least for a short while. Bellevue has managed to make many arterials more pedestrian and bike friendly over the last decade. Seattle could put some love into Rainier. You fund it through all the upzones and required permits to develop. OTOH, you can just walk a short distance (~200′) east and be on a very low traffic corridor. The big challenge on the west side (SB) is the on/off ramps to I-90. Looks like there was a pile of $$$ spent on the ped overpass from the station to access the west (SB) side of Rainier. Other than a bus stop you can’t get there walking w/o taking your life in your hands crossing a blind x-walk to the on ramp to EB I-90. It’s not currently that busy and could be made into a signalized stop for cars w/o impacting traffic on Rainier. Also, bike riders in Seattle are bat shit crazy. I’m amazed at the number of people that ride NB in the SB lanes of Rainier and cross that on ramp like they own it. You’d be under the bumper of an SUV if you tried that trick in Bellevue and ticketed for riding in the wrong direction; bicycles are a vehicle when they use the roadway.
The most essential part of the 8 is between Madison and Union Streets, where there’s a very steep hill between MLK and 23rd. South of that it’s flat, including in the Judkins Park, Jackson, and Mt Baker areas. So a route that goes south from Madison on MLK and turns to Yesler and 23rd and remains on 23rd past Judkins Park Station, serves all parts of the MLK walkshed.
On the east (NB) side of Rainier it is in fact a walk in the park from the station…
Yes, exactly. That is the area I focused on when initially looking at development close to the station. This explains why I initially thought there was relatively few new buildings. I was focused on the area east of Rainier — where you can make a pleasant walk to the main entrance — while Al included new buildings on the other side of Rainier.
While car sewer may be too tough of a word, it is certainly unpleasant to walk along Rainier as you get close to the freeway. Plenty of people have written about it. But one big issue is the fact that you can’t cross the damn street. Between 23rd and Massachusetts there are no cross walks, even though there are two bus stops along the way. SDOT has definitely made things better over the years, and continues to do so. But they’ve got a ways to go there.
It is quite possible that the RapidRide plans that included both a stop diet and additional pedestrian improvements called for additional crosswalks there. I can’t tell, since the county has removed all references to the project (https://live-kcm-rapid-ride-r-line.pantheonsite.io/chinatown-international-district-to-i-90/). This gets back to my main point, which is that while many would prefer taking the 7, they may end up taking Link because it is hard to get across the street. If you are going to endure an uncomfortable, time consuming walk to transit, you might as well grab the fast ride.
Between 23rd and Massachusetts there are no cross walks, even though there are two bus stops
MA & 23rd are perpendicular. Not sure about south of I-90 but there is a well used x-walk at Bush PL. That’s a bit of a hike but the only thing south or there on the other side is the old Dairygold Building which has it’s main entrance close to Bush PL. I suspect there will be an x-walk at I-90 and bus stops when the station opens.
Sammamish and the Issaquah Highlands were built up in large part from people working at Microsoft. How are they supposed to get to campus on East Link? How is somebody from Kirkland or Woodinville supposed to take Link to Microsoft? Those are who the garage is for.
8,000 school buses sounds like a lot but it’s only about 10,000 cars. There are over 50,000 workers at the campus so the garage is only 1/6 of them. Maybe a third of workers come from Seattle or areas that can take East Link.
I think the 269 is supposed to address Sammammish’s access to East Link. The one time I took it last year, it was about a 20 minute ride from North Sammammish to SR 520 & 40th (maybe slower than driving, but no parking required). The problems now are that it’s only 30-minute headways during the week, but hopefully Metro will improve on that once East Link actually opens.
They’re going from Sammamish to Microsoft, not Sammamish to East Link. I didn’t think about the Southeast Redmond station in between where they could park and ride the rest of the way.
If the Issaquah line is ever built it should buttonhole back east to RTS. Forget the stupid “stub” to South Kirkland.
This would give five minute headways between South Main and RTS.
“buttonhook”. Darn autocorrect…
This link give a good rundown of East Link driven development. Even with a 500 acre campus MSFT can’t cram all their people in. They’ve leased thousands of sqft in DT Bellevue and are expanding to other places that will be accessed by train. And they’re not the only tech giant that’s doing it. Expect a lot of inter office/campus trips on Link. MSFT may also terminate some of it’s private bus service at Link stations such as Mercer Island rather than fighting traffic through DT Bellevue & 520. Prior to the pandemic traffic on Overlake surface streets was horrendous. With all the new high density housing and tens of thousands of new jobs it will be worse when people return from remote working. Even if a large percentage only come in a few days a week, service jobs, construction, and health care have all grown like crazy.
East Link has already been transformative for Redmond & Bellevue.
I think that is a stretch. I think all of the development would have happened, even if Link wasn’t being built. Microsoft is booming. The fact that Microsoft adds a huge parking garage shows that Link is irrelevant. The Spring District is similar to South Lake Union. It is booming because it is adjacent to a downtown area that is booming, and because they allowed it to be developed. It is also between two destinations; UW and downtown for South Lake Union; Microsoft Campus and downtown Bellevue for the Spring District.
I suppose you could argue that without Link there would be no rezone, but that doesn’t explain why the area around South Lake Bellevue won’t be rezoned. I think it has more to do with the fact that like South Lake Union, it had relatively little in the way of houses, which meant that an organized anti-upzone movement could not be launched.
I’m sure it had a minor influence. But it really was the other way around. The link station makes sense because ST anticipated growth that would happen with or without the station.
We need a backup plan in case STB gets frozen again and doesn’t come back for days or ever. I suggest we use the the Facebook group “Seattle Transit Fans” as a last-resort contact point to say where we’re going, so that the community can continue. Each STB article accepts comments for a number of days and then freezes to prevent spam rot. This happened on Wednesday to the only article still open, so nobody could comment anywhere. This raised a risk that people would eventually stop checking for updates and the community would die. So we need a backup plan in case the house catches fire. Password Sam.
I don’t want conversation to migrate long-term to Facebook or Reddit or anywhere else that requires a big-company account and spies on its readers, but the “Seattle Transit Fans” group has the advantage that some of us are already on it and it has been around for several years. (I check it a couple times a year.) If you don’t have a Facebook account you can search for “facebook seattle transit fans” and you can view it read-only.
How about a post from a member of the board saying what the plan is for the non-profit that is ST B?
Everyone is a volunteer, and on that level they don’t owe anyone here anything, and yet this is a community and any information would be greatly appreciated by all I’m sure.
And I did go join Seattle transit fans. Thanks
As someone who has been in Italy the last week as part of a long term living abroad situation. Outdoor Street Cafe seating is nice and has been great in the times I have experienced it in Rome and on the coast in Northern Tuscany. They blend into the street fabric fairly well and the thru traffic doesn’t have any issue with their existence. It’s also been a positive for me as I don’t have my green vaccine card yet so I can just sit outside and eat my meal there. And the people watching is always a plus in situations like this. If we were to implement such a thing you’d need changes to speed limits but also a shift in mentality towards pedestrians sharing the road/street for it to be a success in my opinion. Which for some might be too big of a change for them to comprehend or handle.
I envy you. Could you talk more about living in Italy besides just the outdoor dining situation?
Yes. Outdoor street cafe seating needs to stick around even if Covid were to go away.
I like having the option to sit outside, even if I have proof of vaccination.
What I would like to see is a mandate for restaurants here requiring proof of vaccination to sit inside. I was recently in New York and mostly sat outside, but on two occasions had to sit inside, and both times the restaurant required proof of vaccination. It felt….safer having that requirement.
Then either rebuild the restaurants with outdoor seating or expand the sidewalks by 2 or 3 times more.
Sidewalks are for getting from one place to another, and having them covered with tables and chairs makes that difficult to impossible if you use mobility aids.
“ Sidewalks are for getting from one place to another, and having them covered with tables and chairs makes that difficult to impossible if you use mobility aids.”
Eh? No sidewalks were blocked. The only impact to sidewalks is the increased foot traffic from the servers having to go between the restaurant and the seating area.
All of the outdoor seating I’ve seen is in structures built into the outside traffic lane. Cars were coping quite nicely, and to the degree that cars went slower as the street narrowed it was a good thing.
It probably takes a while to write a decent post on this blog. I know it takes me a long time. None of my posts are real reporting — that takes a lot longer. But I’m sure there are people who are part of this blog who can do some of the research or display of this research a lot faster than me. Here is an idea for such a post, if someone wants to do the work:
Anyway, if someone has some time, and is good at that sort of thing, I think it would be interesting. I’m sure it would lead to a lively discussion as well.
The death of downtown Seattle was overrated. ($)
“This past week, a new report found that 2021 will set a record for residential units built in downtown Seattle, with more than 6,400 apartments and condos coming online. ‘Another 5,564 are scheduled for completion in 2022,’ the report noted. ‘Despite this being the largest number of units added downtown over any two-year period on record, rents are expected to increase 25% in 2021.'”
“The census count for 2020 found that the downtown area not only isn’t a wasteland, it’s Seattle’s fastest-growing neighborhood. City Council District 7, which encompasses downtown, South Lake Union, Queen Anne and Magnolia, grew by 42% since 2010 — nearly double the growth rate of the next fastest growing district, Council District 3 of Capitol Hill and the Central Area.”
“this past week Amazon said it is hiring 12,500 people in Seattle, the most of any city, in a fall jobs blitz. ‘Amazon’s hiring spree is concentrated in Seattle,’ this newspaper reported, adding that this is a ‘degree of rebuke’ to the idea the company is jilting us over the payroll tax.”
I think Amazon’s expansion in Bellevue and the HQ2 search was more of a symbolic anti-tax protest for show rather than a real rejection of Seattle. Bezos is notorious for trying to avoid taxes, so it’s not surprising he made a symbolic fuss about this tax. But Amazon is expanding in NYC and Virginia, which are not low-tax, low-cost areas. And Washington still has no income tax so people’s total taxes are a third lower than many parts of the country. And something must be done about the housing crisis; we can’t just keep sweeping it under the rug forever and pretending those tents are a permanent solution and nothing more needs to be done. Enough years have passed since the head-tax kerfuffle that Amazon can reverse course without a lot of ridicule over its flip-flop.
That 25% rent increase in one year is alarming, but I think it’s a reversal of a 25% decrease since Covid started. Rents downtown decreased the most, so it’s natural if they increase the most to make up for that loss. I don’t see rents in adjacent neighborhoods or the rest of Seattle increasing 25%, and maybe not even 10%. 10% was the highest one-year increase during a few years between 2003 and 2019. (Not including jumps in 1960s run-down units that went from $500 to $1400 after 2012; they started below market and their initial jumps were catching up.) I’ve heard some non-downtown Seattle rents went down slightly since 2019. My rent in a 2003-era downtown-adjacent building is unchanged since 2019, so I think that masks either a slight drop or slight increase, and when increases return maybe in 2023 o4 2024 they’ll be around 2-5%; i.e., average for the post-2003 period. At least that’s my estimate for Seattle’s rental market outside downtown/SLU.
I think they calculate “rent” based on an average of the units available. The new units are high rent so not surprising there would be an up tick. But as those units fill with rich techies the units they move from may see a modest decrease or at least higher availability.
Sssshhhh! Don’t tell the MOTUs’ Tribune. It will unleash another cookie-cutter Jeremaiad about needles and tents strangling Downtown Seattle.
I think the advent of battery-powered electric vehicles and eventually self-driving vehicles may change the perception of the application of parking requirements. I’m not sure what parking in 2035 will look like.
That said, a lot-by-lot application of parking requirements is rather stupid. A big new mixed-use development can justify less parking while a single small lot in an established neighborhood cannot. I see the need for tailoring parking at the neighborhood level rather than the lot level rather than have only a change in parking requirements only at the lot level. Maybe each neighborhood needs to work with a “parking space budget” rather than each lot having a stand-alone minimum.
This is in response to the parking video in the article, by the way.
What is the long-term plan for this blog? There is much more exciting transit stuff happening right now than usual, but minimal posts here. It’s a cool community of commenters but it’s too bad to see the whole publication becoming little more than a nerdy bro hangout. STB badly needs content, needs more diverse voices, needs more engagement with 2020s transit issues overall. Without that, I’m happy to see the Urbanist picking up the slack.
Dave, if you think this blog needs more content, why don’t you contribute a Page 2 or guest post? You say there is a long list of exciting transit news occurring at this very moment. Why don’t you pick one of those things, and make that your first post?
That isn’t the point Sam.
Sitting on my desk is an envelope organizer with a sticker “I rode light rail on day one”. I have ridden day one of each expansion of Line 1 – Airport, Angle Lake, Capitol Hill and UW Stadium. And if the Empire Builder doesn’t crash and burn I’ll be there on 2 October to ride down to Angle Lake and then the whole route to Northgate!. 4 years ago we moved to the transit desert of Bay City Michigan (only claim to fame…birthplace of Madona) but will return for opening day of the Northgate link. And we (wife and I) will be there for the future openings as well — already to book our tickets on the Builder as soon as the dates are official.
This video highlights the Siemens rail assembly plant in Sacramento. It’s good to see lots of new Link cars getting ready! We will need them as East Link opens in about two years!
Today I realized that ST now calls it the “1 Line” and not “Line 1” in the announcements They also don’t say “Link Light Rail” as often. I believe “Station” is also used much less often. I didn’t hear direction (“Northbound”) at all.
Yes, October 3rd is the renaming, and some of the station signs already say “1 Line”, I think at Westlake. Also, the stop announcements and on-board displays no longer have the word “Station”, and there’s a new voice announcing the stops.
IIRC people remember letters better than numbers and names even better. Crystal Mtn used to number their chairs in the sequence they were built. That worked well up until the original C-6 was built. And C-6 reclaimed it’s number as a name just because “C-6” had it’s own reputation (if you’re not an expert skier DO NOT board this bus). I’d have liked to seen Central Link rebranded as the C Line and East Link rebranded as the B Line as in RR-B, goes to Bellevue, etc. But even better would be Central Link (aka “Da Spine”) and East Link; names everybody already knows and voted for. Tourist asks for directions to the airport. Take East Link and transfer to Central Link DT. Tourist thinks to themself…. guess I don’t understand English as neither of those options is on the map. Again, IIRC London still uses names. We’re never going to have as many rail lines as London.
For reference, here is the FAQ on the rebranding of the lines.
It’s really natural to respond about branding the way each of us would prefer. However, it’s probably a bit more important to make it as universal as possible — including for those that don’t know English well or have sight or hearing impairments. I may have wanted it slightly different, but overall I’m satisfied with the outcome.
Using letters would have been somewhat confusing with RapidRide since those routes also use also use a “ball” to highlight the route letter. In fact, using N,S and T may be confusing if Metro adds more RapidRide lines — but most of those stations are outside of King County.
Another update from Nandert about the transit expansion in Los Angeles.
The big takeaway here is the Art District station moving much closer to the finish line.
He also talks more seriously about the kind of operations LA should be pursuing. Can’t say I agree with all he came up with.
I enjoy this guy’s videos! They may have some unrealistic ideas but the presentation/ script is excellent.
What do you think is unrealistic?
For me, it the massive amount of interlining that he does with the LRT network, as my experience with that in San Francisco is emphatically “F**K Interlining”.
Another thing that he doesn’t take into consideration is that with LA’s Sheer scale, it’s corridors really need to have muiltple levels of service. But the only corridor where actually does this (I-10 East), he does so in completely the wrong way.
Nandert has a focus on Westside travel. It sometimes seems that other parts of LA County are almost afterthoughts. That’s the first issue I see.
Westside LA has some huge transit travel challenges. It’s an area that was very car-centric but it’s emerging density and parking costs are making it pretty urban. Outside of I-10 and I-405, there are no freeways. It doesn’t have a central skyscraper district (like Downtown LA) in favor of many mid-rise districts so destinations are strewn all over the area that’s about 1.5 to two times larger in area than the entire city of Seattle. Finally, there are many ethnicities around LA that result on a myriad of different travel needs overlaid on each other much more so than seemingly homogenous Seattle (outside of SE Seattle). New rail lines are a challenge there because it’s now very congested all day long (so grade separated transit is almost required) yet the density is still dispersed enough to require transfers as well as long transit rides even for direct service and the distances are long enough to make subways very expensive.
Where second issue of the Nandert ideas seem unrealistic to me is with the capital costs of adding complicated new crosstown subways with junctions on the Westside. The concepts are reasonable — but the needed money doesn’t boil out of the ground at the La Brea tar pits. I think some aerial segments could be much more reasonable and quicker to implement — as well as looking to things like cable technologies to be feeders for existing stations in some cases. It’s akin to Seattle Subway wanting as many subway miles as possible as a solution in its visioning.
I kind of agree that he overemphasied the Westside in the video, but I don’t really find what he proposed for the Westside (beyond Metro Plans) to be all that excessive.
I kind of a bit of bias at play when he said that the Purple Line shouldn’t go down Whittier Blvd when there’s the Expo Line there. The Purple could be serving the inner part of Whitter and then cut north to the SR 60 that LAMTA was trying to fit into the Expo Line.
I agree that a lot of what proposed should really be elevated where possible. Los Angeles has tons of wide boulevards, and the air above those wide boulevards doesn’t have all the shit that’s below them nowadays.
The issue of distance can partially be dealt with via faster EMU’s. EMU are capable of moving faster than 55mph these days. And also, you don’t full four tracking for express service, just overtakes at strategic locations.
Los Angeles also has some more low hanging fruit in play, like reversing the Blue Line Loop in Long Beach, that would unlock considerable capacity gains.
The ad took more than half of a TAB screen. I can’t imagine that one would see anything on a phone.
It might be fine on a desktop machine, but sucks on a device.
Asdf2 bemoans transit coverage and frequency in East King Co., but misunderstands what I have been saying all along. At the same time, some on this blog think East Link will be transformational for East King Co.
What I have tried to say is East King Co. is a very difficult place to provide transit coverage and frequency, because of its sheer size, lack of housing and job density, car culture including free parking, and demographic (women and families).
According to asdf2 East King Co. should eliminate many of its bus stops to increase transit times between population centers (when actually there are job centers but not that many population centers). That might make sense to connect job centers, if you provide (or allow) the first/last mile access, which in East King Co. comes down to park and rides if you want express transit. To simply tell the residents of EKC they won’t have a stop within a mile of their house is not going to fly unless some other first/last mile access is provided.
Ross sees it as a lack of transit funding in East King Co., and that is correct, but because it is such an expensive area to provide coverage and frequency to. What I would like to see is subarea equity for Metro. Then let East King Co. decide where to spend its Metro dollars. I don’t know if service will improve, but maybe there will be more funding for E. King Co., and my guess is a local levy for Metro would have a better chance of passing with subarea equity.
Will East Link be transformational on the eastside? That depends on one metric: ridership. Will East Link create more transit riders than ride buses today or pre-pandemic, or will it simply reallocate bus riders to rail, and add a transfer or two?
My guess is East Link won’t be transformational:
1. We know East Link won’t come close to its pre-pandemic ridership estimates, which were unrealistic before the pandemic. That will affect farebox recovery, but the subarea has more money than it knows what to do with. But it will likely affect frequency in the long run.
2. “TOD” along East Link has little to do with East Link. As Ross notes, these developments in The Spring District and Wilburton were planned despite East Link in many ways. Kirkland and Bellevue didn’t even want light rail through their commercial cores. The offices and residences in these developments are not transit oriented, and of course have huge underground parking capacity.
3. According to the leading study from Stanford, post pandemic commuting to work will decline 20%, which in transit terms is huge. This area is tech oriented, so the 20% may be low.
4. Cross lake commuting looks to have an even bigger decline because so many offices are opening on the eastside.
5. Without car congestion there is little need for transit on the eastside, unless you cannot afford a car, and the eastside is not a good place to live if you can’t afford a car and the average SFH is now over $1.4 million. There is a reason transit frequency is so poor on weekends on the eastside.
6. Bernie posts that the 550 was under the radar. In fact, the 550 was ST’s highest ridership bus until it was eliminated from the transit tunnel. But even pre-pandemic the 550 was down 33% and the 554 was down 17%. No one really knows why, and where those riders went, but they went somewhere. If the 550 declines by 33% pre-pandemic something is going on.
7. Lack of first/last mile access. I live on Mercer Island and we have no transit to reach light rail. Same for much of East King Co., because East Link actually serves a tiny sliver of EKC, and the same issues with bus service today apply to bus feeder service. This will be an issue post pandemic because many commuters will now be able to commute during non-peak hours and so can drive, they will refuse to drive to a park and ride to catch a bus to a train (and maybe a bus to SLU), and many employers are moving to a subsidized parking model rather than ORCA passes, when the cost between the two is not much different to the employer.
8. Most importantly, car culture, which really comes down to demographics, and means lots of suburban moms with kids who want the safety of a car, and the ability to transport a lot of stuff. When I read asdf2 suggesting this demographic will want to take a bus to East Link from Issaquah to take East Link to shop or dine on Capitol Hill I knew he fundamentally misunderstands the eastside. No one is going to Capitol Hill from the eastside.
The number one factor IMO is the demographic and car culture. Even more than working from home. Those will not change, and those folks will not switch from a car or SUV to light rail, for the same reasons they don’t ride transit today.
With the ridership reductions from working from home, and the addition of a transfer for many to even get to East Link, I would be surprised if ridership on East Link post pandemic is even equal to bus ridership on the eastside pre-pandemic. For people who don’t love transit, or trains, (i.e. 99.5% of the rest of us), riding light rail is little different than taking a bus, except for the fixed route, higher fare, and added transfers, which still are not as important factors as car culture and demographics.
I don’t think East Link will be transformational. I think East Link will have about the same impact on the eastside as buses do today, although adding the transfer for so many could really hurt ridership.
By “transformational” I mean a change of overall public perception about using transit, Daniel. That includes these components:
1. East Link for more than just work trips. For example, I see more Mariners attendance arriving by rail when East Link opens. I see more Eastside residents going to Kaiser in Bellevue or Overlake Hospital using transit for appointments once the 2 Line opens. Dining, performances, street fairs, medical visits, in-person classes and even some shopping could easily shift from driving. It’s particularly true if someone already has an unlimited pass for work.
2. Eastside as a destination for Seattle residents . Trains at at least every 10 minutes to 10 PM means that a Seattle city resident will have less hesitation to go to the Eastside. Consider that many people use map apps to identify destinations so that Seattle users already see pins on the Eastside. It won’t take long for the question of “Is there an East Link station nearby?” gets asked. If I lived car-free on Capitol Hill and wanted to go to Crate and Barrel today I wouldn’t think about going to the Bellevue store, but once the 2 Line opens it will be easier than going to University Village.
3. The end of time-of-day worries. Making off-peak transit trips can be worrisome once service frequency drops off. The 2 Line will let someone stay late or grab dinner in Downtown Seattle or Downtown Bellevue where today they are often compelled to hurry home before 6:30. Enclosed stations give an added sense of security as opposed to a sidewalk bus stop too.
4. Parking! The addition of large free parking garages at South Bellevue and SE Redmond are a powerful draw. It will also probably free up parking spaces in Mercer Island making things nicer for your neighbors.
I think we essentially agree Al: whether East Link is a success, let alone transformational, will be determined by how many ride it.
I can see more recreational or non-work trips to Seattle on East Link, but that will likely be offset by fewer work/commuter trips. Plus recreational non-work trips are often during non-peak times when there is little congestion and parking is free on the eastside. Eastsiders are not great walkers, so if East Link is more than 3 or 4 blocks from their destination on the eastside they will likely drive. Just about every eastside location you mention has free parking, and if you are shopping you have to carry home what you purchase.
Definitely having East Link access DSTT1 will be a big safety issue for eastsiders, and no doubt accounted for some of the drop in ridership on the 550.
I also see more non-work trips from Seattle to the eastside for shopping or dining on East Link than the other way around. Right now, on the eastside, everyone thinks you are taking your life in your hands if you go into Seattle, even during the day, with front page articles in the Seattle Times about homelessness and crime. But how many Capitol Hill residents want to take a train to suburbia?
East Link was designed around eastside workers commuting to downtown Seattle, not so much from Redmond to Bellevue. It adds a transfer to many commutes, and for most will require a drive to a park and ride. Whether non-work trips make up for ridership declines in work commuters I don’t know, but still total ridership on East Link stays the same as pre-pandemic on buses, IMO, especially when you factor in the feeder buses which will need frequency too.
“East Link was designed around eastside workers commuting to downtown Seattle,”
False. It’s for people working in downtown Seattle, downtown Bellevue, the Spring District, Microsoft, downtown Redmond, going to UW, going to ballgames on weekends, going to parades and demonstrations downtown, going to Capitol Hill nightlife, shopping in downtown Bellevue, going to a specific medical clinic, and doing the all-day two-way trips that all-day transit serves and Link will serve better than the existing buses do.
“It adds a transfer to many commutes,”
But it subtracts a transfer for other commutes and trips.
“transformational” in how the City Council has approached Wilburton rezoning. A big bet has been placed on people using East Link to get into Bellevue to fill up all the planned additional office space. I think it’s also played a part in deciding to loosen the 400′ height restriction in parts of DT. Bel-Red has been in the planning stage (BROTS) for a long time with nothing happening. Without East Link I’m not sure the UW and REI/Facebook would have committed to building there. It’s also transformational in how companies like Microsoft can look at buying or leasing space anywhere with Link access and know employees can easily get from one location to another; easier than driving. Also transformational in increased property values that will entice other large parcel owners, like Coke-a-Cola to cash in.
People who want to ride consider the quality of transit when they decide where to live. If transit on the eastside sucks, they won’t live there – even many that work on the eastside will choose to commute from Seattle, in part, so they can have transit that doesn’t suck for all the other nonwork trips. Better transit on the eastside will make it easier people who work on the eastside and value transit to live closer to work and not have to cross the bridge every day. And it doesn’t even have to be the entire eastside. Just a few transit oriented pockets near the Link stations is already transformative.
You can’t just take the demographic in south Mercer Island and assume that the same type of people are going to be the ones moving into to the new housing developments in the spring district. It is much more likely that these new developments attract people who, today, don’t even consider the eastside and live in places such as Belltown or Capitol Hill.
Also, as I said in my earlier comment about Micrososft – a 10,000 stall parking may seem big, but relative to 50,000+ employees, it’s not nearly as big as it seems. Back in 2010-2015, about 1/3 of employees commuted by public transit. That’s not a trivial percentage. East Link should only increase the modeshare.
It’s a small percentage of the population that wants to use transit for virtually everything. And it really doesn’t save much money if you still own a car for occasional trips. This group probably wouldn’t want to live on the Eastside even if we had bus coverage similar to Seattle because the walkability would still pale in comparison.
The Eastside’s strong suit is great public schools. Seattle’s aren’t terrible and certainly have some best in class examples; like Garfield Jazz. A large number of people that can afford it in Seattle send their kids to private schools. That drags down the performance scores of the public schools. You combine this with multi bedroom housing cost, availability and lower violent crime and the Eastside wins hands down for families with children.
Eastside transit is far more commuter centric than Seattle. Bellevue’s CBD has reached the point it can’t grow without high capacity high quality transit. Buses can’t do that during rush hour. And they’re expensive to run anyway. I forget the population numbers but Bellevue “grows” by something like 50k people during the work day. That’s the delta of people who commute from Bellevue vs to Bellevue. With M$FT Redmond probably is similar and greater in terms of percentage of population.
East Link will create a “Pocket” from DT Redmond to Main St. in Bellevue. Virtually every need is served by Link; shopping, nightlife, medical care and commuting. Some recreation still needs a car but that’s true even if you live in Seattle. From Redmond or Bellevue you can be at Snoqualmie Pass in about 40 minutes after work. Certainly it will appeal to a slightly different demographic vs those who just must be in a “real” city. It’s already proven that there’s enough demand though for “all the high end housing you can build” anywhere in this “pocket”. Link, it’s mission to go where no bus has gone before.
I agree with Bernie. The future of light rail on the Eastside is Main Street to Redmond Technology Center, and if you’re only three miles away, why not go to Redmond Downtown?
If there is ever an Issaquah line — doubtful, but who knows with the flood of climate immigrants that nobody else seems to comprehend — it should just ignore the stupid stub to South Kirkland and run to Redmond Technology. That would give five minute headways through the important part of the system without stressing the floating bridge.
Take a look any morning at fire.airnow.gov# and see all the green circles west of the Cascades, even fairly close to active fires. Look how the smoke plumes spread eastward, even as far as Minnesota and Missouri.
The hotter the interior of the Continent gets the stronger those onshore winds are going to blow, keeping the smoke away.
Sure, occasionally there will be fires whipped up by offshore winds like last year when Southeast Portland was threatened, but the dominant flow will be eastward, warding off the fires and blowing the smoke away.
Folks, in fifteen years there will be few of those beautiful pine forests of the inter-mountain west remaining. It is a heartbreaking tragedy, but it is very literally “baked into” your future. I won’t last that long.
“This group probably wouldn’t want to live on the Eastside even if we had bus coverage similar to Seattle because the walkability would still pale in comparison”
As I said, there are pockets on the Eastside with walkability comparable to many parts of Seattle. The Eastside also has a lot of jobs, and the target people are those that work there. Crossing the lake every day by any means eats up a lot of time. If you can walk to capitol hill style amenities in Redmond and work in Redmond, no need to commute from capitol hill.
Of course, to make carfree living on the Eastside a thing, you do need much better carsharing options – even adding just a few select parking lots in Redmond and Bellevue to the Gig home area would make a big difference. The hope is that will eventually change and Eastlink could help break the chicken and egg cycle to make that happen.
I think it is a mistake to think in terms of eastsiders going carless. That is a goal they don’t care about (and neither do most Seattleites). To live on the eastside, and deal with everything from kids to Christmas Trees to the lack of transit to dogs to very long driveways to sports, just about everyone is going to own a car. They use transit because of traffic congestion, or the cost of parking (Seattle), but ironically still need a car to get to the park and ride.
So a car-share makes little sense on the eastside, with a car already in the garage. You want the eastside to reflect what you value (going carless) and that is just not a value for eastsiders. Why in the world would anyone voluntarily go carless, they wonder.
Ross hits the nail on the head when he points out there just isn’t the transit funding to provide decent and frequent (bus) transit coverage to most of the eastside. That will not change with East Link and feeder buses, especially if the fare includes both the feeder bus and East Link because Metro is going to lose revenue even though it might not make the trip across the bridge span. Metro is really going to struggle with first/last mile access to East Link, and riders will be pissed to begin with at the transfer.
In East King Co. transit ridership is peak oriented, and has been focused on Seattle because of the traffic congestion into Seattle, with pretty good bus peak service across the lake with one seat in the center roadway and access to DSTT1 in the past, and the cost of parking in Seattle (assuming park and rides are free). Without the traffic congestion, and with so much free parking, transit gets little ridership during non-peak times on the eastside, and when the 550 lost access to DSTT1 ridership fell 33%. And why would transit get off peak ridership if even Lincoln Square and Bellevue Square have free parking, and there is always a car in the garage.
If the eastside work commuter to Seattle returns post-pandemic (which will depend on WFH and Seattle, and to some extent employer subsidized parking post-pandemic), or to a lesser extent to downtown Bellevue, and commuters either tolerate the transfer from bus to Link (and park and rides remain free) East Link will get some ok ridership peak hours, about half of what ST estimated pre-pandemic when selling ST 2.
Except East Link doesn’t really access downtown Bellevue, and for many who live east of East Link — from Issaquah to Eastgate to Factoria to Renton — which is most of the eastside — and are commuting to downtown Bellevue how do you get to East Link? Will someone really take a bus to Mercer Island to catch East Link to S. Bellevue or Main Street?
Sure access to downtown Bellevue from northeast of Bellevue towards Redmond on East Link won’t be bad, but how many riders from Redmond are going to ride past Microsoft on East Link to work in downtown Bellevue? Not many is my guess.
If the eastside peak hour commuter to Seattle declines that will hit ridership on East Link hard, because there is no other reason or factor to use transit on the eastside. The eastside transit commuter, especially to Seattle, is definitely going to decline, the question is only how much.
My point is that when I’m talking about more people on the Eastside going carless, I’m not talking about existing residents giving up their cars. I’m talking about new people, moving to the Eastside for work, people who don’t even live in the Puget Sound region today at all. Many of the newcomers to our region come from other countries where riding transit isn’t stagmitized like it is in the US and don’t have the cultural aversion to riding it that you allude to so much.
For them, the initial goal is to get them to consider to at least start out without a car, especially those that are young and childless, which many are. That requires good enough transit so they don’t look at schedules and immediately give up. Even if many of them eventually end up getting a car after a few months or years, the quality of transit still plays a role in postponing it, saving them hundreds of dollars each month and reducing traffic and parking congestion. It also means more eyes on the street for people walking, making the street safer for everyone.
One may reply, if they don’t want to immediately buy a car upon moving, why don’t they live in Seattle? The simple answer is that their job is on the Eastside, they like their job, and they don’t want a long commute. One should not be forced to choose between spending hundreds of dollars per month on a car or enduring a long bus commute each day in order to accept a job offer in an urban center such as downtown Redmond or Bellevue.
HO Model Railroad Needs Home
This was a great piece of reporting; thanks for linking to it on this blog for others who may not be regular readers of this local news outlet. I read yesterday as I was enjoying some relaxation time on the holiday. (I live in Edmonds so I regularly read this publication.)
These were my two takeaways regarding the piece:
1. BNSF’s arrogance has not changed.
2. The section about the ROW ownership was very intriguing. I’ve wondered about that myself in the past as I’ve walked by these specific locations. I hope the city is correct in their conclusions about this and has this confirmed by the city attorney’s office’s review of the matter. This is paramount for the city to retain any real leverage over the impending project.
Again, thanks for sharing the link. I’m sure a new home can be found for the association’s model railroad somewhere in the area. Maybe the Port of Edmonds has some available space?
Has Edmonds resolved the emergency overpass issue? If not it seems like adding more tracks will only exacerbate the problem.
Some of the not-so-accurate (from my investigation) items in that article, and a way for anyone interested in trying to divine what might happen.
A good portion came from Sound Transit’s open house for the Edmonds Sounder station opening.
In the picture showing the big concrete wheelchair ramp, the caption reads:
“The Edmonds station passenger loading platform might be narrowed to make room for the new second track.”
The Sound Transit people I spoke with said that BNSF told them that since they pretty much didn’t know when the second track would go in, just put in the “permanent” style ramp (They had been using a temporary metal one).
Now go back and look at that picture, you’ll notice the shelters and the concrete platform section, and then it transitions to an asphalt platform (with fancy drainage), and then the platform edge.
Where the concrete portion of the platform ends will be the operating edge when the second track goes in. They will just remove that concrete ramp and rebuild it where it needs to be, I suppose.
Now follow that line to the north, and you’ll understand why the model railroad unfortunately has to leave. There will be only 9 feet between the edge of the building and the edge of the platform. This will not allow access for baggage handling from the doors on that side, hence why Amtrak needs access through the garage door on the south side. (right smack through the layout)
This also means that big glass bay window at the station needs to be removed.
When I asked the ST person at the open house, he also mentioned that the RR requires a building setback and that a portion of the roof will have to be removed.
I said “I hope the get a good architect to make it look nice.” He said “Well, from the drawings I saw, it just looks like they are going to take a giant bandsaw and cut it back.” Yikes !!
If one was speculating as to what happens north of the station building, you could just draw a line along the concrete Sounder platform edge, and see where it ends up when it gets to Main St.
Time to play with Google Maps, and Paint.
Thanks for the link. I had no idea that HO layout was there. They’ve been shut down, at least to the public, since Covid. That layout would not be easy to move but I wonder if they could partner with someone the way PSMRE does with the WSHM.
Yeah, it’s going to take a good deal of time to disassemble and carefully pack up this display as it’s quite large with tons of rather delicate scenery. Even as a non-aficionado of model railroads, I have to admit that I was genuinely impressed the first time I went in there and viewed this exhibit. There must be hundreds and hundreds of hours invested in the display as the workmanship is incredibly meticulous in its detailing. For those who are model train enthusiasts, I don’t think they’ll be disappointed if they get the chance (somehow) to pay a visit before it all gets packed up and moved.
This guy’s video is a bit clunky but otherwise gives a nice tour of the entire exhibit.
Thanks. I sure hope I get a chance to see the layout and meet to club members before it goes away.
Well that is interesting, and the kind of news that we used to be able to find on this site back when it was really the preeminent source of transit related news and information!
That said, the culture at ST could use a change, and the best way to do that is from the top.
I’m sure that, to a degree, Rogoff’s hands are tied by the board, but I’d love to get someone in charge there who has vision and can communicate it, and possibly even get it done.
For example I saw up the thread somewhere Daniel criticizing ST because he thinks there won’t be enough commuters to justify building the system. On the other hand there is a vision that by building the train to where people want to go, (i.e. west of 15th in Ballard, the Junction, First Hill, etc) people will use it all day long for all sorts of things, and that will make it a huge success.
But if they keep putting stations at places like 14th, and not building to First Hill, and not building in connections to potential future lines, then ST won’t have maximized it’s potential and in the end will fail.
You just can’t wrap your head around the cost differentials between 15th and 14th, can you? The over-water distance between the north and south banks at 14th is about 60% of what it is at 15th, and there’s no quarrel with Fishermen’s Terminal. The alignment ST has published north of a 15th bridge would not be in the middle of 15th NW. Nope; ST has it running to the west side of the street, taking out the west side of the blocks between 15th and 17th NW from Ballard up to about 52nd where it would take the entire block to 53rd in order to transition over to 15th, cross it and end in the Safeway parking lot.
A bridge at 14th with the approaches on public property in the middle of the extra-wide street where railroad tracks used to run could be enough cheaper to extend the line from a station in “West Woodland” at 14th and 53rd elevated most of the way to Leary and Market. The trackway would descend from structure after it crossed 17th NW.
That would be a surface station, the best kind for bus-intercept and integration with the community except an elevated or subway station aligned 90 degrees to the bus street with entrances on both sides of that street.
Two stations in Ballard is MUCH better than any single one.
Just to clarify JAS, I said the reduction in commuter riders will affect the operations budget, which heavily depends on farebox recovery rates and number of riders. The issues with the capital budget have mostly to do with cost estimating and shifting and declining general fund revenues.
I’ve liked your idea there for a long time TT, and agree that two stations would be great. I don’t like coming up 15th either, so in my opinion it’s got to be farther west. Whether that is a tunnel, or your idea, or something else, I don’t really care.
Yet, have you seen anyone associated with ST give any inkling that they are even considering an option?
As far as I know they are going to plop a station down on 14th, leave it pointed north into the deadend that 14th becomes at 65th, and let the future figure it out because the ST3 vote didn’t approve anything else.
And of course it’s more expensive, but it’s being built to last for a long long time so building it right is worth it.
“I’ve liked your idea there for a long time TT, and agree that two stations would be great. I don’t like coming up 15th either, so in my opinion it’s got to be farther west. Whether that is a tunnel, or your idea, or something else, I don’t really care.”
“And of course it’s more expensive, but it’s being built to last for a long long time so building it right is worth it.”
JAS, this will be the central issue in the DEIS: Ballard and West Seattle will demand tunnels and below grade stations like other Seattle neighborhoods got, even Northgate, and will argue “it’s more expensive, but it’s being built to last for a long long time so building it right is worth it.”
So will downtown Seattle when it comes to DSTT2. Except ST knows there isn’t enough money for even the original plans in the realignment, let alone a bunch of tunnels and underground stations, and DSTT2 alone will be double the estimated cost, without the 50% cost contingency.
So they will argue, just extend the ST general fund taxes another 5, 10, 15 years, to 2059, like in “realignment 1.0”.
Of course, TT thinks Ballard and West Seattle will drink the bitter brew for the larger, regional good, although I doubt it.
There is always HB1304, but it would cost Seattle around $10 billion to complete DSTT2 and the stations and tunnels West Seattle and Ballard want. But hey, like most on this blog, if I am not paying because I live in the East King Co. subarea and there are no uniform tax rates for a HB1304 levy, and our contribution to DSTT2 is capped at $275 million, sure, I think Seattle should go for a HB1304 levy for $10 billion to build it right. Or raise light rail fares to $30 in the N. King Co. subarea, which is about what it would take to raise an extra $10 billion in just N. King Co.
Jas, if it weren’t for the Ballard Interceptor, I would agree that tunneling to 20th and Market would be the right solution. But the tunnel is in the way, and to under-run it would mean an 80 foot deep station. There are enough copies of Rosslyn and Cedar Hills in the Link plan without adding another one.
Also, 14th doesn’t have to be a “dead end” if the structure there is “stacked” to allow turnouts. Doing so would allow the station to fit entirely within the envelope of 14th NW.
If ST can propose nuking the block between 52nd and 53rd, between 15th and 17th it can propose nuking the north half of the block between 64th and 65th across from Ballard HS and put up with two sharp turns.
“The report [from consultant Triunity, Inc.] also concludes Sound Transit has a “cultural problem about not wanting to deliver bad news or daylight issues in a timely manner,” keeping board members in the dark and delaying action when things go wrong.”
Yup. The consultants nailed it.
This is from the report mdnative links to:
“Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff, whose three-year contract is up for its first one-year renewal this year, is reportedly facing internal criticism from Sound Transit board members who have felt blindsided by revelations over the past year and a half that the Sound Transit 3 program, which includes light rail to West Seattle and Ballard, will cost far more than originally estimated.”
“Over the past two years, the cost to build ST3 has ballooned, compromising Sound Transit’s ability to complete the program as planned. Last month, the board adopted a “realignment” strategy that calls for moving ahead with the projects in ST3 on a delayed schedule, but accelerating projects in a predetermined order if there are sufficient revenues to pay for them.”
“A new report https://publicola.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/ST3-Cost-Estimating-Assessment-Task-3-Draft-Report-copy.pdf on the agency’s cost estimating practices, which the board received earlier this month, hints at some board members’ concerns. The report, by Denver-based Triunity Inc, concludes that under Rogoff’s leadership, Sound Transit has been slow to make crucial decisions that could reduce costs (such as choosing a preferred alignment for light rail expansion), that “siloed” divisions within the agency failed to talk to each other while developing alignment alternatives, and that staffers are reluctant to share concerns with the board because of Sound Transit’s culture of keeping bad news under wraps.”
I am glad to see I am not the only one to put “realignment” in parentheses (see, para. 2 above).
When the budget deficit was released at $11.5 billion four years after ST 3 passed I figured Rogoff would be gone by year’s end (2021). But when the deficit was reduced to $6.5 billion without any valid explanation or new data, and the Board bought it and issued its “realignment”, I assumed Rogoff would have to stay, because otherwise his dismissal would undermine the validity of the “realignment”.
The fact is the DEIS for WSBLE, and the project bids, will expose the realignment for what it is: a political CYA document, although it is interesting to see Balducci publicly begin to throw Rogoff under the bus in the article, when the ETA repeatedly warned her in 2016 the cost estimates (especially for DSTT2) in ST 3 were phony.
When something goes this wrong there always has to be a fall guy. ST and the Board can claim whatever they want, and make whatever assumptions they want, in a “realignment”, but if someone won’t build it for that price the truth will come out. The project bids are where the dishonesty ends.
The next step the Board will have to address is farebox recovery, and the operations budget. Light rail is not like a bus. If the commuters don’t come back the train still runs, to where the riders no longer are, and commuters generally pay full fare (w/o a bunch of senior or student discounts). Zillion dollar TOD’s in Bellevue don’t create a lot of public transit riders.
There are only so many ways to make up that lost farebox revenue: 1. higher fares; 2. find new riders — lots of them — someplace else although the trains path is fixed; 3. cut frequency; and/or 4. general fund tax increases, but that trick has been maxed out. Luckily ST Link is pretty new, so unlike many other systems maintenance and replacement has not been deferred for decades (except of course DSTT1).
The reality is Tisgwm’s posts are correct about reporting, and Lazarus and all of us are going to find out what we already know when the data is released (and I suppose anyone could do a FOI request for the data from the federal agencies it must be reported to on time): ridership and general fund revenue right now don’t support the $5 billion reduction in deficit estimates, and ST still has not accurately estimated DSTT2 and WSBLE.
The Board had to hire Joni Earl in 2001 at the demand of the federal agencies, and it is probably time to take that step again. If I were on the ST Board Rogoff would terrify me, because he is dishonest even with the Board, and I would know sooner rather than later DSTT2 and WSBLE will have to be put out for bid, and the bids will be double the realignment, and pretty soon ST is going to start raising issues with the operations budget due to lower than estimated ridership (way lower on East Link), part due to fantastical pre-pandemic ridership estimates, part due to the pandemic and WFH. Right now ST would rather not release that info, and like some on this blog pretend the data does not exist, or matter. It matters, and you can bet no project bidder will rely on ST’s estimates when bidding on a project like DSTT2, which is why it will have a 50% cost contingency and be nearly $6 billion.
The realignment alone raised total ST revenue through 2044 by $35 billion, a staggering figure that is six times Seattle’s entire annual budget. https://openbudget.seattle.gov/#!/year/default. Imagine all the other pressing social and infrastructure needs that could be addressed with $35 billion when buses could have accomplished what most of Link will do at a fraction of the cost.
If you really think DSTT2 and WSBLE, and some other ST 3 projects, can be built within the realignment, and a 20% or more decline in commuter ridership won’t impact the operations budget which was inflated anyway by farebox recovery goals and pre-pandemic ridership estimates, then believe what you will, and forget about the data, and wait for the project bids and DEIS, and wait for the operations budget to be restated.
Just don’t ask the average citizen who doesn’t even ride transit and is paying for this crazy train to pay for it with general fund tax increases. Pay for it with higher fares or lower frequency, especially if you stuck your head in the sand for years and years demanding grand trains to where the riders ain’t.
These — “” — are not “parentheses”; they are “quotation marks”. These — () — are parentheses.
Pay for it with higher fares or lower frequency, especially if you stuck your head in the sand for years and years demanding grand trains to where the riders ain’t.
[ah], Ballard and West Seattle are where the riders are. It’s you who said “Complete the Spine and then we’ll look at what’s next.”
And, not to put to fine a point on it, “lower frequency” — if by that you mean 30 minute headways — would pay for maybe 5% of the capital cost. [ah]
If the mods aren’t going to actually moderate then just pull the plug already.
I’ve seen other boards deteriorate, and always appreciated that posts here were pretty heavily moderated when it was appropriate.
Sorry, jas, pomposity — especially uninformed pomposity — deserves puncture. Every time and every place.
Microsoft told employees today that they will keep offices closed indefinitely. No known reopening date. In a meeting with employees, they shared that variants have changed their plans to reopen. Article is now in Seattle times, so I can share. This will mean commuter route ridership will be depressed for 2022 and possibly beyond. I was walking around downtown Seattle yesterday and saw empty buses at 5pm. Quiet sidewalks. Went into one union, and saw very little employees at 4pm. COVID is going to have a bigger impact in downtown Seattle than we imagined last year.
Metro is restoring almost all bus service October 2nd in anticipation of offices reopening. If the openings are being pushed back three or six months or more, Metro may end up re-suspending them. I don’t think that will happen in October because the drivers are already hired and assigned, but it could happen in say November or January.
I just want to get 15-minute service back on my 11. That route is so useful for many destinations. Currently it’s 20 minute weekdays, 30 minutes weekends and evenings.
This is an interesting list of the 50 most expensive housing communities in the western U.S. Probably 45/50 are in CA (and surprisingly Medina was not listed, nor Hunts Point). Why these communities are so expensive I will leave up to others.
The article below and listing by state of housing price growth shows WA and the Puget Sound region are not unique when it comes to rising housing costs, which suggests larger factors are at play.
“Home prices in the United States have posted unprecedented growth. According to the carefully followed S&P Case-Shiller home price index, in some cities, the price of a home has risen over 20% in a year. One reason for this is low mortgage rates, which allow people to afford homes that might be beyond their financial reach if rates were higher. Additionally, people have flooded into affordable markets with better quality of life than those of the expensive coastal cities like New York, San Francisco and San Jose.”
“One of the largest drivers of home prices is the ability to work from home. The COVID-19 pandemic brought this on. However, some companies have kept it as a permanent practice.”
District of Columbia: 5.8%
New Hampshire: 20.6%
New Jersey: 16.4%
New Mexico: 14.8%
New York: 8.3%
North Carolina: 19.2%
North Dakota: 6.1%
Rhode Island: 22.0%
South Carolina: 17.0%
South Dakota: 8.8%
West Virginia: 15.2%
A bunch of housing, including increasingly in rural areas, is being purchased by large investment firms.
In the case of Portland, several new housing developments and condo towers were built specifically for wealthy investors in Asia, or at least that’s what the builders told the newspaper.
Idunno, up 33%. And now they’re drowning in smoke. That’s some desperation, folks.
Thanks for the links.
I meant to reply to your other comment up above regarding that segment on the Fareed Zakaria GPS’s program that you mentioned. I typically try to catch that program most Sundays but missed this particular one. (It’s one of, if not the best, programs currently on CNN imho.) Your commentary about the discussion with the gentleman from the University of Toronto intrigued me so I sought out the segment online. I read much faster than video so I checked out the transcript instead. Here’s the link to that discussion for those others who may be interested (the segment can ne found at the 10:27 time stamp):
It was an interesting conversation. Thanks for suggesting it.
That discussion got me thinking about the Toronto area. I have a good friend from my law school days who settled in Toronto upon returning to Canada. In 2018, my spouse and I went there for a visit and I was amazed at all of the new construction that had happened in the region since my previous trip to the city several years earlier. The GTA continues to build upward and outward and pricing for SFH has been escalating rapidly this year as demand has outpaced inventory for some time now. Here’s a snapshot of the situation per RE/MAX CA:
Finally, I’m just passing this along in case you’re interested. This is what UBS Investment Research had to say about Toronto in their Sep 2020 Global Real Estate Bubble Index:
“Given Toronto’s robust population growth and lower mortgage rates, prices there have doubled within only a dozen years. The housing frenzy abated temporarily in 2018 as mortgages became more expensive and after the local government introduced a number of regulations, including a foreign-buyers’ tax and rent controls. However, market momentum has increased again recently. Underpinned by improving financing conditions, prices jumped by almost 6% over the last four quarters as demand for single-family houses in
the suburbs grew considerably. Yet affordability is already stretched. New supply should be considerable in the coming quarters. Moreover, the expected appreciation of the Canadian dollar will curb the appeal of Toronto’s property to foreign
buyers when travel restrictions are lifted.”
It will be interesting to see what the 2021 report has to say. Several US cities are bound to be included again, though Seattle is not likely to be one of them.
This was in reply to DT’s comment above from Sep 9 at 3:20pm. (My first submission failed for some reason and then when I resubmitted my reply it didn’t nest correctly. Sorry.)
Toronto is a great city. Unfortunately, it is extremely expensive. This article suggests the problem is zoning — specifically the “grand bargain” — https://viewpointvancouver.ca/2019/10/17/the-grand-bargain-illustrated/. This is the same approach that Seattle took (we called it “urban villages”). This was criticized in a new report, and was criticized by the mayor at the time — the man I would call Seattle’s last good mayor — https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/seattles-longstanding-urban-village-strategy-for-growth-needs-reworking-new-report-says/.
It all boils down to the same thing. If you draw little circles and say “grow here, and only here” you are bound to get a city that is very expensive, while simultaneously angering preservationists who care about the area inside the circle. It gains its strength from two groups. Those outside the “urban villages” get to preserve their neighborhood in amber. Ignorant urbanists get a little thrill seeing big buildings go up. But ultimately, it results in an outcome that doesn’t work for anyone. Prices go way up; communities are sterile; real urbanism doesn’t exist.
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