102 Replies to “Weekend open thread: Northgate Link art”

  1. It’s a shame that this opening is happening during a pandemic. My employer has prohibited employees from taking transit. I will not be participating in the festivities.

    1. It would be nice to get a list of Pugetopolis employers who are doing this. So far I’ve only heard of some Wall Street companies in New York prohibiting employees from taking transit to work. I haven’t heard of any ones locally.

    2. It’s unfortunate to hear that employers are meddling in the private lives of their employees. Have you asked whether they’re OK with climate destruction from global warming and pollution caused by their employees driving around in their own vehicles?

    3. Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching too much Barnaby Jones, but I’m suspicious of John’s story. His employer forbids public transit use? John is afraid to ride Link on his day off? I’m not buying it.

    4. It’s unfortunate, especially considering all the things that are far more risky than taking transit.

      Examples include:


      Bars and restaurants are the most risky environments as people are not able to wear masks. The loud taking also creates an environment similar to a church service ( which is well documented to be high risk if no masks are worn).

  2. Within the last year, King County has bought four parcels across from Wilburton Station. This is on the south side of 8th near 116th. They bought the ARCO station, the Burger King, and whatever business is between those two. Then they also bought a larger parcel bordering to the south of the ARCO. Does anyone know what they have planned?

    1. I remember some of the Wilburton Station plans showing a park there. I assumed it would be Bellevue Parks. It might be. KC helps cities with land purchases. For example they helped fiance the purchase of Waynes Golf Course for a Bothell park.

      1. Sam, shame on you for spreading misinformation! “Everyone” knows that the MOTU’s all drive to work on the Eastside (except the Super-MOTU’s who WFH).

        Therefore this would be a huge step backwards for the Holy Drivers by clogging up NE 8th with buses and Kiss’n’Riders. Since it is common knowledge that nobody is going to ride East Link, this is yet another misguided “Urbanist” folly, and completely out of place in MOTUville. It simply cannot be true..

        Please apologize to the readers.

    1. The tops look like people’s heads in a snapshot of motion if you look at it through peripheral vision. That’s like Picasso where the artist tries to see how abstract you can make the human form and still be recognizable as human. Or it could be bent nails or alien creatures pointing their antennas to the mother ship, but most likely it’s people dancing around. If you look at it closely, the colors are gaudy and uninspiring. It’s not the best artwork or the worst, but it has some redeeming qualities.

    2. It reminds me of this. Mortal, “Chrysler”, especially starting at 2:10 where it appears to be aliens dancing or performing a religious ritual on top of the Chrysler building after the humans are gone. And maybe pointing their antennas at the moon.

    3. If I’m not mistaken, it can’t be seen from any road or sidewalk. It’s on the western side of the OMF next to the CKC trail. Only OMF employees and bicyclists will see it.

      1. Correct on location. I don’t know if any OMF employess can see it since it’s many tracks away from the buildings. A lot of people already use that section of trail, mostly walkers and joggers. Once the connection through Bellevue to Renton is complete it will have a lot of bike traffic.

        The colors remind me of the coding on thru hole discrete component resistors. A comment I heard on a City walk was it’s a testament to ST not being able to drive a nail straight.

        I’m pretty sure it will have to be moved/removed if Link is ever extended to S Kirkland P&R.

    1. That’s one piece of transit that requires vax proof, if you are going to Canada.

      Someone asked Dr. Fauci about requiring vax proof on domestic airline travel. Right now, we don’t even require vax proof to enter the country from anywhere by plane. The delta variant, like all the variants before it, got to walk right up the concourse. Maybe it would be wise to not let future variants fly right into the US&A (which would require both the vax proof and the proof of recent negative test).

    1. I used to commute to UCSF hospital on the 6-Parnassus (and would still be if it was running), and the “frequent” proposal would be a disaster for my neighborhood. While the other two alternatives would bring the 6 back at 12-minute frequency, the “frequent” alternative would replace it with an extended 52 that would take away the direct hospital connection and only run every 20 minutes. This is on a steep hill (think a somewhat smaller Queen Anne) with no alternative transit options.

      The bigger issue is that all three of their proposals only use 85% of pre-pandemic service hours. Muni has been the slowest big transit agency to bring back service (see transitrecovery.com), even though they’ve received a billion dollars in federal funds, and the city has ended up running a surplus during the pandemic. I know that we often complain about how Sound Transit is run on here, but from shutting down the subway for 14 months to their massive cost overruns n the Central Subway to proposing a bunch of cuts with this “service restoration”, I think that Muni has them beat by a mile.

      1. The best use of one-time money for transit is not one-time bonuses for the CEO (which should only happen in the private sector), or bridging service to keep it running empty and drivers employed, but to advance capital improvements, enabling the delivery of more service for less money in perpetuity.

        Running extra service for a limited time using one-time money creates an expectation that that service can be funded in perpetuity, so lots of people get angry when the extra service has to be cut. A good example is the West Seattle bus route cuts in 2012 after the monorail money route. That money was supposed to be used for a major capital improvement, and then got frittered away on half-empty loop routes that eventually had to be eliminated.

    2. Five-minute all-day routes. I wish we had that. That’s what practically all bus and streetcar routes in Moscow and St Petersburg are, except in the outer edges where they drop to fifteen or twenty minutes. And the metro run every 2-5 minutes most of the time, 10 minutes after 8:30pm. If a route exists, it’s frequent. So their infrequent service is our frequent service.

      The only route with definite plans for close-to-5-minute service is RapidRide G (Madison). Third Avenue to Uptown and Little Saigon has de facto 5-minute or close-to-5-minute service through several overlapping routes. That’s it. Pine Street, Pacific Street, and University Way had close-to-5-minute service at least weekday and Saturday daytime but they’ve deteriorated under covid. On Pine Street evenings and Sundays, which has three routes, two or three of them often come together so the de facto frequency is 15 minutes.

      There should at least be 5-minute daytime service on the 7, 40, C, D, the Seattle part of the E; and something related to Pine Street, Broadway, University Way, and maybe Eastlake. We have a First Hill streetcar; it could be boosted to 5 minutes to connect Harborview and the hospitals to Intl Dist and Capitol Hill stations.

      1. There’s a few existing corridors that I would argue qualify for 5-minute all-day service. 3rd Ave. downtown certainly qualifies, at least from Virginia to Yesler. The U-district, from Montlake/Pacific to 42nd St. also counts at least in the northbound direction (since the buses that take the Ave vs. 15th are interchangeable).

        Link is also planned to get 5-minute all-day service from International District Station to Northgate Station in 2 years – this will huge, as the bus corridors that have it, by and large have only for very short segments where you could just walk from one end to the other – Link will become the first 5-minute corridor that seriously aims to compete with driving, rather than walking.

        For Broadway, it is not actually necessary to buy more trains or a larger maintenance barn to boost the frequency. It’s simply a matter of just running a bus halfway between each train along the exact same route with the words “First Hill Streetcar” printed on the bus’s headsign. Not saying this is necessarily the highest priority for service hours given current funding constraints (e.g. would you be willing to see the 47 deleted to pay for it?). But it is certainly an option, albeit one outside the box.

      2. The streetcar route is terrible. Running it every ten minutes is adequate. We just need to run a bus on Broadway every ten minutes as well, opposite it. The 49 could be combined with the 60 for example, but altered to just keep going straight on Broadway. Then add a bus from South Lake Union to Mount Baker via Boren. All of that should happen after RapidRide G (Madison BRT).

        Five minutes is pretty much ideal. For rail you can improve things by going more frequent, but on a bus you run the risk of bus bunching. Even for rail you have diminishing returns. Five gives you the ability to time it based on memory, while still being frequent enough that lots of people won’t care. But for our buses it is expensive, and really doesn’t make sense unless it is a combined route.

        For standalone routes (like the 7, 70, etc.) six minute all-day frequency is adequate. That is what the RapidRide G will have. The G will probably be one of the most reliable buses we have, given that the route is relatively short, with a lot of right-of-way and off board payment. That means that someone so inclined could probably time that bus reasonably well. But that is a lot less important than bumping frequency on a lot of other routes.

    3. @ericn: I don’t really like Jared’s proposal either, as he doesn’t even take advantage of the 52 shift to connect to West Portal.

      My preferred proposal would be to convert the 43 into a radial route. It would do this by taking all the service on Jackson street, rather than going towards the Marina District. The Southern part of the route would be merged with the northern part of the 44, and serve Geneva.

      @Mike Orr: Its not as good as you might think. San Francisco has far fewer Artics, so a given frequency means less capacity than would be the case in Seattle. On top of that, San Francisco has done far less stop consolidation (There are some routes, like the 1, where its really difficult), and has worse traffic than Seattle. So, only really a tier above Seattle in practice.

      And Seattle’s baseline has been improving relative to San Francisco.

  3. The new art is fine, but I wish there was more effort put into making the stations themselves more attractive. They mostly look like bland concrete and steel boxes with some art tacked on. My wish list would include more mosaics (e.g. 28th St Station NYC), murals (e.g. Mexico City stations), and brick/tile facades. It doesn’t have to be Grand Central or even King Street Station, but I’d love if it were less utilitarian.

    1. Yeah ST seems to gravitate to buildings as plain boxes, and they relegate “art” to “installations”. It seems to be imbedded in their culture.

      Contrast with the great architecture of European historic subways. Tile murals and embellishments would go a long way.

      I also think that a unique visual architectural clue to trigger riders is much better. If you are standing in a train doorway and the doors open at a station you don’t want and talking is too noisy to hear announcements, how do you know if you should stay on? If walls and lighting were more distinguishing, someone is less likely to hop off at the wrong station.

      This is what happens when you hire local people to design stations that aren’t seasoned rail commuters.

      1. Great point, unique architecture could be a useful wayfinding tool. Which is another thing ST is terrible at. Why aren’t there maps with exits and important destinations marked? When I get off the train at a station I don’t often use it’s a crap shoot whether I pick the right exit.

      2. Yes, Justin. I’ve also suggested that ST sets up installations by exit (like north and south exits) rather than levels (platform and street). Of course I feel like a salmon changing the direction of an ocean liner on this issue.

    1. Shoreliners raised a stink about the idea of light rail on Aurora Ave. Have their attitudes changed?

    2. It’s a nice utopia but it doesn’t sound politically possible. We couldn’t even get full BAT lanes on Aurora for RapidRide E; the 23rd and Rainier Avenue rechannelizations were watered down; and the 45th corridor will probably be watered down too. North Seattle cars and trucks see Aurora as a back way to avoid I-5 congestion at its worst, and they’re a significant political force. Several Aurora businesses tout the areas’s car-friendliness and abundant free parking and low-cost storefronts as essential parts of the neighborhood.

      It seems more realistic to pursue the Downtown Seattle Association’s vision of a more pedestrianized Third Avenue with two bus lanes, and fully pedestrianizing part of University Way.

    3. I think there’s a lot of improvement on Aurora we can do just by making better use of what we have now. The E line is the busiest bus route in the state and has some of the best night-owl service in the region, so there should be 24×7 bus lanes the entire length of the route. Heck, during a good chunk of last year (and maybe even into this year, time is fuzzy), the E ran *more frequently* and almost certainly carried *more people* than Link despite billions of dollars more in investment in the latter.

      Other ideas:

      Walking along most parts of Aurora is unpleasant due to the proximity of the road, but there’s also parking lots along most of the length, so Seattle and Shoreline should work on repurposing some of those to widen sidewalks or add barriers like trees between the sidewalk and road.

      Biking parallel to Aurora is actually not that bad and, unlike the 35th Ave NE (arterial) vs 39th Ave NE (greenway) debate, the elevation difference between Aurora and the parallel routes like the Interurban is a bit less, so it might be sufficient to improve crossings and other access rather than trying to pull a Broadway and mix cars, bikes, and buses in the same road, though there certainly are segments that are more than wide enough to support bike lanes in addition to the other uses if drivers weren’t liable to freak out about “war on cars”.

      Once we’ve exhausted these cheap fixes and determined that we need more investment, maybe we can revisit the rail idea from the Urbanist.

    4. Both Shoreline and South King County have full BAT/transit lanes for their entire part of the E and A, and Swift Blue has it at least for large parts of the line. Seattle didn’t because Aurora businesses and landowners objected, the same ones who advertise that Aurora is a car-friendly part of Seattle. The city prioritized them over having a highly-effective transit network like other cities have.

      1. Come on Mike, you keep repeating that bullshit. Enough already. Shoreline has BAT lanes for its entirety because Aurora is a tiny part of it. That, and the fact that Shoreline decided to spend a fortune rebuilding the streets. Where Seattle has the room, it has bus lanes. Seattle simply hasn’t spent the money on Aurora, because it isn’t a priority. Hell, they don’t even have sidewalks!

        Just look at it: https://goo.gl/maps/RQz5CBnhnnok847L9. Notice to the left there is a bus lane. Now look to the right. There is only two lanes. To add a bus lane would mean moving the fire hydrant. That isn’t cheap. Meanwhile, look next to the hydrant — no sidewalks!

        Seattle could redo Aurora like Shoreline did — and probably will, eventually. But there are other, far more important streets. Even for transit there are far more important streets. The buses move pretty well on Aurora in Seattle. The E is one of our fastest buses. In contrast, the 44 is dog slow. So is the 8. And 40. The E carries a lot of people, but so does the 7. For that matter, the main corridors downtown carry way more people. This is where Seattle has invested, and it is money well spend. There are streets with BAT lanes, next to streets with contraflow bus lanes, next to bus malls. With all due respect, Aurora is just not that important a street when it comes to transit improvements. Not for Shoreline, of course, but for Seattle.

      2. What about the sections of Aurora where there’s a bus lane only during rush hour and the rest of the time, the bus lane is used for parking? That’s inexcusable. Every stop, the bus has to wait for someone to let it in to start moving again, all so that three people can park their car on Aurora who are too lazy to park in the parking lot, or adjacent streets.

      3. @asdf2 — Fair enough, but that isn’t nearly as bad as not having BAT lanes at all. It is true — you could easily turn those rush-hour BAT lanes into 24-hour BAT lanes. But it wouldn’t make that much difference. To dramatically improve service on Aurora would likely take a lot of money, or involve reducing general purpose lanes (or both). Here are some big issues:

        1) Southbound right lane just south of the Aurora Bridge. You can add a BAT lane there, but it won’t do any good. There are too many cars taking a right turn there.

        2) Northbound right lane just north of Aurora Bridge. Same deal — people are exiting to Fremont.

        3) Southbound exit to downtown. WSDOT screwed up, and put the exit on the left side.

        The only way to really solve the problem is to have the buses run in the middle of the street. But that would require making Aurora wider (to add the bus stops) or taking a lane for the bus stop (in addition to the lanes taken for the bus). Regardless, you would have to build elevators and ramps to the bus stops, or add traffic lights and a level crossing (on the part of Aurora that is essentially a freeway). All of that is expensive. Not nearly as expensive as light rail, but still expensive.

        Aurora is long overdue for a makeover, and I seem to remember it being on Seattle’s todo list. Basically the plan it do what Shoreline did. Add sidewalks, widen it where necessary, and spiff it up. That would be the time to make the existing BAT lanes 24 hour. I would also get rid of the Linden detour, and add a northbound bus stop off Aurora there. All together it isn’t cheap, but it would improve things.

  4. “It seems more realistic to pursue the Downtown Seattle Association’s vision of a more pedestrianized Third Avenue with two bus lanes, and fully pedestrianizing part of University Way.”

    How would you make 3rd Ave. in Seattle “more pedestrianized”? Right now it is the least vibrant and least safe street in Seattle, and being a pedestrian on 3rd Ave. is a very unpleasant experience. 3rd Ave. has terrible retail.

    I could see rehabilitating 3rd Ave. and creating a sort of green pedestrian retail mall, but you would have to eliminate the buses, which in many ways are the problem on 3rd.

      1. If it were up to me the key retail corridor in Seattle is — and always has been — along Pike, from the Convention Center to Westlake Center to Pike Place Market to now the waterfront park. This was the focus when Norm Rice resurrected Seattle’s retail core.

        The region is spending $1.2 billion to expand the convention center to hold larger conventions (with King Co. loaning the project $100 million). The city is spending a fortune on the waterfront park. Right now 3rd Ave. is a wasteland, so why try to pedestrianize it or turn it into any kind of retail center, especially if it will continue to be the transit mall.

        Obviously (especially if you have read the Seattle Times’ editorial pages on Saturday and Sunday) this begins with safe and clean streets (which of course is the main problem with 3rd Ave.) Without safe and clean streets — during the day and night, and for women too — forget about it.

        When Rice was mayor the key to the revitalization was Nordstrom, and that is even truer today with the loss of Macy’s. Of course Nordstrom objected to removing cars from Pike. My guess is Nordstrom, after spending $450,000 to replace its smashed windows, is close to leaving downtown Seattle. If Nordstrom goes then everything goes, because retail areas like Pacific Place are hurting, and shoplifting has become an organized crime.

        Competing for area shoppers is very difficult for downtown Seattle. First parking is limited and expensive, when it is free on the eastside. Second Seattle is harder to get to. Third it has so much less retail density today.

        But downtown does have the tourist, and convention goer, although the commuter/shopper will probably decline pretty significantly post pandemic. Seattle also has the most culture, although Bellevue is coming on strong.

        Right now Northgate Mall, Southcenter, Bellevue Square, University Village, Lincoln Square, and so on are killing downtown Seattle because to shop in downtown Seattle you have to walk the streets, and the streets are unsafe and unclean, whereas the other regional shopping centers don’t have this problem. Throw in the fact parking is limited and expensive, and so many shops have closed, and you have the same retail core Norm Rice inherited, but with the added risk of working from home and growth on the eastside.

        Personally I don’t think the Seattle Council and mayor will make the tough decisions to change the street scene in downtown Seattle. I know some Nordstrom execs, and I expect them to leave downtown Seattle, although they don’t want to. But you put stores where the money is.

        I definitely would not spend any money on 3rd Ave. because it will likely never attract any kind of shopper or retail vibrancy. Maybe the new retail focus could be if Seattle moves west of Pike Place Market to the waterfront, until that street scene deteriorates.

        The next mayor of Seattle won’t be Norm Rice, and the problems with downtown Seattle’s retail and street scene IMO are too entrenched to fix today. So for shoppers and retailers just better and easier to move to another location. If Seattle can’t make Pike from the Convention Center to Westlake Center to Pike Place Market to the waterfront a hub forget about 3rd Ave.

      2. How does downtown compare to New York in the 1970s? I first saw NYC in 2002 so I’ve only heard what’s it like in the 70s, I don’t know exactly what it was like or how it compares to downtown Seattle now.

      3. I definitely would not spend any money on 3rd Ave. because it will likely never attract any kind of shopper or retail vibrancy… forget about 3rd Ave.

        You and I have slightly different opinions on how bad 3rd is. Parts of it are undeniably bad and have been pre-Covid. Much of the current lack of retail and restaurants is directly related to Covid. But one thing is for sure, you can’t allow one of the most important N/S corridors to be “a wasteland” and expect some other part of the DT to be an oasis. The problems need to be addressed everywhere.

      4. So, Daniel, mow ’em down? If you drag the corpses away quickly enough they aromas won’t get worse, right?

      5. “I definitely would not spend any money on 3rd Ave. because it will likely never attract any kind of shopper or retail vibrancy… forget about 3rd Ave.”

        That kind of logic is very self-defeating. If 3rd Ave. lacks retail vibrancy, let’s find ways to make it more inviting to fix the problem. We shouldn’t just throw our head in the sand and give up.

    1. Third Avenue Vision. As Link and RapidRide are extended and fewer buses are on Third Avenue, this corporate vision proposes to reduce it to two bus lanes and a partial passing lane. The reclaimed 1 1/2 lanes would be converted to wider sidewalks, street furniture, plants, outdoor cafes, etc. This was before covid so it doesn’t address its deterioration or recovery.

      I’m still waiting to hear what the city’s and businesses’ vision is for a new downtown post covid. We’ve all been in limbo over this, so my default assumption is the same kind of large and small retailers and public spaces as before. Some retailers have gone, and if they’re not replaced, will we just make do with fewer retailers and storefronts? This is a good time to update the vision but there have been no proposals or suggestions yet that I have heard of.

      1. STB commentators’ reaction to the vision ranged from cautious optimism to a worry that the DSA was trying to deprioritize transit.

      2. It will also help if the buses down 3rd Ave. become electric so that waiting for your bus no longer requires breathing the diesel exhaust of all the other buses that pass by your stop first.

      3. I agree with the idea of making 3rd an electric only zone. Buses that are strictly stink pots can use 2nd & 4th. We used to have a fleet of hybrid electrics that operated in the bus tunnel under battery power. They weren’t the greatest but incorporating battery only operation on our next generation of hybrid buses seems like a logical next step. Or are any of the current hybrids capable of battery only operation, like a Prius? They’d only need a couple of miles of battery only operation.

      4. There was something about Metro or Seattle TBD reserving a large chunk of money to convert its entire fleet to electric in a decade or two, that’s cutting into the ability to add more frequency or routes. The government prioritized this for climate reasons. I think Metro should go slower on electrifying because even diesel buses use less fossil fuels than cars, and it’s a fixed fossil fuel overhead rather than who knows how much people will drive on any day.

      5. The reason to go slowly on electrification is to add frequency and coverage in the interim. Getting twenty people out of their cars is more urgent than replacing a diesel bus before its end of life, both for the climate and for other reasons. Rushing to replace the bus fleet instead of addressing this low-hanging fruit is misguided. On paper it looks like a substantial step toward carbon neutrality and an example to drivers, but it would be more productive to increase frequency so that more people will choose transit. If the county wants a fancy electric-car conversion, focus on government car and truck fleets first, then come back to the bus fleet.

        For buses that have reached their end of life, it makes sense to replace them with electric buses. But for buses that still have several years of life left, we might as well keep using them and put the money to service hours instead.

      6. Of the options presented, I like “Transit Couplet” the best. This would mean two contraflow lanes on 3rd, and two contraflow lanes on either 2nd or 4th. Third becomes 3 lanes and a sidewalk (instead of four lanes) which makes it little less imposing. Cars can still access the street to drop people off — they just have to access the one lane going one direction. The bus lanes are reserved for buses 100% of the time.

      7. I like Bernie’s idea of bigger battery packs on the RapidRide routes which will still run on Third. That would be, at a minimum, the E, the 40 after conversion, Roosevelt Rapid Ride, (R?), and Delridge.

        The trolleys can still run on Third, but the 2 successor will probably go Pike/Pine-Eighth-Seneca and (we can hope) the 3/4 will go up Yesler to Eighth by then, too. The best service for local James users is to come from First, so no turn is needed off Third between Pike and Yesler.

      8. Bernie, didn’t the original tunnel buses use automatic slides to raise the trolley poles? I think they did not use batteries; they went through the tunnel on poles.

        Batteries were horrible then, but they’re adequate now.

      9. why contraflow on Third, Ross? That would require left-door buses.

        No, that isn’t what contraflow means (I used to think the same thing). Contraflow just means that buses (and only buses) are going one direction, while all the cars and trucks go the other direction. Two lanes of buses going one direction (so they can pass each other) with one general purpose lane going the other.

      10. The truth is, the purpose of running a transit system actually has very little to do with emissions reductions and fighting climate change, the exception being reducing local emissions in the downtown area. Rather it’s about providing an alternative to traffic congestion and provide a way to get around the city that does not charge hundreds of dollars each money for the right to participate.

        From a narrow standpoint of emissions reductions, I suspect a large chunk of the bus routes do emit more carbon than they save, and even routes that are carbon negative overall are still likely carbon-positive late at night. As a rough guide, a bus needs about 10 car trips avoided to break even, but since not every passenger is an avoided car trip (some would have walked, biked, or not taken the trip at all), you might need as many as 15 passengers to get to 10 avoided car trips. The reason why such carbon-positive bus routes exist is precisely because emissions reductions is not the primary objective of a transit system and the other objectives (coverage, social equity, etc.) outweigh the environmental aspect.

      11. I don’t think that reducing lanes is a good general idea. Buses need to be able to hopscotch on Third Avenue.

        That said, I also think that waiting a few years isn’t such a bad idea. After all, Link will be greatly expanded with a series of openings starting in just two weeks. East Link with five-minute trains to late at night for central and north Seattle is a powerful draw. So for example, there may be larger numbers of transferring riders near Link stations but less riders at other stops.

        I also expect more people to transfer outside of downtown, especially north. I could even see people happily transferring at Capitol Hill to go Downtown once trains come every 4-5 minutes.

        Because of this, I see Third Avenue buses to need the wider streets and great stops near stations but maybe not elsewhere.

        Anyway, I see the bigger issue is how to discourage sketchy people from hanging out there. That’s an design issue of lighting, shelters, signage and elements like that — along with maintenance and policing. Sometimes it only takes getting one or two business closures to move the sketchy types. It doesn’t make much sense to me to mess up an effective current street layout when the problem is more cosmetic.

      12. No, it doesn’t mean that. A “contraflow” lane is by definition “the minority” movement. There are more lanes going one dominant direction and then, typically, one going the other way, like Fifth Avenue between the Cherry HOV entrance and Terrace or the XBL in the morning in the Lincoln Tunnel. Contra-flow isn’t needed in the afternoon since the paucity of entrances in Manhattan, one of which is dedicated to buses, acts as a very effective metering system.

        Anyway, how would you make that work on Third Avenue? There are to be only three lanes if the DSA proposal is adopted with the middle lane some sort of two way passing facility. Buses are to run right-handed in the two outer lanes. There was some discussion about letting private cars into the middle lane, but we all know that would be a fuster-cluck of the first rate, resulting in head-on collisions right-and-left.

        I agree that it would be aesthetic, but probably won’t work even if it’s entirely transit. Maybe every other block could have the middle lane be for buses to pass in one direction with the other “every other” for passing in the opposite direction.

        But it really doesn’t make sense to have any “passing” lanes on a two-way transit street unless you have four total lanes, because if bus 123 passes bus 456 stopped for passengers in Block 1 using the middle lane and gets ahead of the stopped 456, it can’t stop in the next block without blocking the one it passed.

        So having passing really only works with two full lanes like in Portland where different stop sets weave around one another to stop in different blocks.

        I guess if you were going to make Third Avenue one-way it would work just fine to have two transit lanes and one GP, but what would happen with the trolley overhead?

      13. Thanks, Mike. I think that’s a mistake on Metro’s part. Seneca has a lot of activity points east of Eighth, most obviously Virginia Mason. Even though Madison is only two blocks away and will have awesome service (we hope…), it is a very busy street 24 hours a day and people coming from downtown to Ninth and Seneca (or Spring for that matter) would have to cross Madison. There are a lot of elderly people in the Seneca corridor.

        Yes, the bowtie is a pain in the butt, but shifting at Twelfth doesn’t avoid it. You’d have to have the transition at 13th or 14th to miss it.

      14. To quote Wikipedia:

        In transport engineering nomenclature, a counterflow lane or contraflow lane is a lane in which traffic flows in the opposite direction of the surrounding lanes.

        Contraflow lanes are often used for bicycles or bus rapid transit on what are otherwise one-way streets.

        For example, assume you have two bus lanes going north, and one general purpose lane going south on Third Avenue. Almost immediately, little arrows show up on maps, pointing south. People will write things like “Third Avenue is now one-way southbound”. General purpose traffic is the default. Exclusive lanes (for buses or bikes) are contraflow. Anyway, enough about semantics.

        how would you make that work on Third Avenue?

        Read my comment again. For that matter, read the document (it is page 32 of the PDF, or 59/60 if you printed it out). Two bus-only lanes going one direction, one general purpose lane going the other way. On 2nd or 4th, you have the opposite. That is why they call it a couplet.

        There are several advantages — I’ll list them again:

        1) Third Avenue would be three lanes instead of four.
        2) Cars and trucks still have access to the street.
        3) The buses never share a lane with cars or trucks.
        4) Retain the ability for buses to pass buses (there would be two bus lanes going each direction, just on different streets).

        No other proposal does that. Right now, we let trucks onto Third, because they need occasional access. Third Avenue is wide, and filled with buses. The downtown association doesn’t like that, as they believe it makes the street less appealing. This is the motivation for several proposals that would be more challenging for buses.

        The couplet — involving two pairs of contraflow lanes — solves all of the major problems in an elegant way. As for whether I would pair the street with 2nd or 4th, the traffic engineers would have to study it. For that matter, I have no idea if buses should go north or south on Third. There are really four possibilities. I think I would do it this way:

        2nd — One lane heading northbound
        3rd — One lane heading southbound
        4th — Several lanes heading northbound (no change)
        5th — Several lanes heading southbound (no change)


        2nd — Two lanes southbound
        3rd — Two lanes northbound

        There would be bike lanes on Second and Fourth. Oh, and I would also extend this all the way to Denny. That means that if you are driving east on Denny, from Western (e. g. Ballard to downtown) you couldn’t turn right onto 2nd. You would have to use an odd street (1st, 3rd, 5th). This avoids having cars flooding 2nd, only to have to dogleg somewhere else. To the south I would do something similar (that gets complicated, and this comment is long enough). Anyway, the main thing is, buses would move better through downtown, trucks and taxis could still access every street, and Third Avenue would have fewer buses.

      15. Third Avenue is already reserved for buses. It doesn’t need contraflow lanes.

        Are you trolling, Mike? That doesn’t seem like you. And yet that comment completely ignored what I wrote. I listed four advantages to the couplet option (with contraflow) and yet you ignored them. Only one of those exist right now. I hate repeating things, but I fear I have no choice. Here are the advantages again:

        1) Third Avenue would be three lanes instead of four. This is an improvement.
        2) Cars and trucks would have 24-hour access to the street. This is an improvement (for delivery people).
        3) The buses never share a lane with cars or trucks. This is an improvement. Right now cars and trucks are restricted, but only from 6:00 AM to 7:00 PM. This also leads to confusion — people may drive the street illegally by accident.
        4) Retain the ability for buses to pass buses (there would be two bus lanes going each direction, just on different streets). This is the only thing that wouldn’t change.

        Now compare it to the other options:

        Compact Transit Way — Could create bus bunching. Maybe they could pull it off, but there are no guarantees.

        Median Transitway — Even worse, as you have only one lane each direction.

        Transit Shuttle and Hub — One lane each direction, and people are expected to transfer. Worst of the options from a transit perspective.

        The Couplet is the only option that actually improves transit functionality, while shrinking Third. Even with the Compact Transit Way (clearly the second best choice) you would have cars and trucks on off-hours using Third. From a transit perspective, the couplet (AKA buses running in contraflow mode on two pairs of streets) is the best option.

      16. didn’t the original tunnel buses use automatic slides to raise the trolley poles? I think they did not use batteries

        You are correct. The dual mode buses used trolley poles. I guess they would have had to use lead acid batteries back then. One trip through the tunnel wouldn’t be bad but they’d have to have enough capacity to work a whole shift. Were the tunnel buses able to run on regular wire outside the tunnel and did they have any off wire ability? I believe they were able to pass another bus and it seems they’d need some off wire ability to do that.

      17. When you look back at how the original tunnel was run in 1990, it is kind of amazing. The busses built in 1987 were not hybrid. They had 2 conoletely seperate powertrains. One on the rear axle and one on the center axle. They had a way to disconnect one, and connect other. They had automatic raising and lowering of poles. And all of it was done mostly mechanically with a very small amount of computer technology. That means somebody had to adjust every angle on the pole and micro switch manually to make sure it worked. There were probably vaccum switches to disconnect the axles as well. That is how Jeeps worked back then. There were overhead wire switches in the tunnel to make passing possible. They were controlled by the driver’s foot switches. In 2021 it seems pretty basic, but in 1990 it seams pretty amazing.

    2. Asdf2, you are the one who (rightfully) poured cold water on the silly idea on The Urbanist to turn Aurora Ave. into a car free zone.

      If the rest of downtown Seattle was vibrant except for 3rd Ave. I could understand spending the money and energy to revitalize 3rd Ave., except that will never happen while 3rd Ave. is a transit mall. But all of downtown Seattle is in very bad shape when it comes to retail vibrancy.

      If you can’t revitalize Pike St. from the Convention Center to Pike Place Market — in fact 3rd and Pike is probably the worst part of downtown, after 3rd and Yesler — forget about revitalizing a transit mall on 3rd.

      Begin with who is the prime shopper. It is women. Combined the old male farts on this blog buy around $3.00/week in goods, including me. Women buy 99% of everything in America, and they don’t ride transit and won’t visit downtown Seattle.

      Walk into Nordstrom and look at the demographic, especially in Bellevue. IMO it is too late for downtown Seattle retail, especially with the loss of the captured work commuter.

      My guess is Nordstrom will give the next mayor 12 months to clean up the streets and bring back retail before Nordstrom leaves the downtown, although if Gonzales is elected I could see Nordstrom leaving sooner.

      Then downtown Seattle retail is screwed. If you lose Nordstrom at 5th and Pike no point worrying about 3rd Ave.

      Seattle has created a weird urbanism without street retail.

      1. Portland’s equivalent of the Bellevue mall is Washington Square Mall. It’s also the worst one in our region in terms of appearance of commercial activity. There wasn’t a single car in their vast lot when I went by a few months ago.

        “Cleaning things up” will have very little impact on weather Nordstrom in downtown Seattle survives or not. Adapting to a market where the competition is buying online is the primary competition is crucial.

        The problem with 3rd is the mix of buildings there just isn’t right to create an attractive environment for what they are envisioning.

        Portland has a nice little pedestrian mall area south of SW Market. Up until recently it was completely dead, because what was there was entirely office space. They’ve a couple of residential buildings now, and the activity level has picked up a little.

        To be the type of street they envision, it needs a mix of residential, retail, and certain types of commercial. None of that happens on 3rd.

        Something connecting Belltown with Pike Place Market or some other thing that takes advantage of the densest residential area in the city really seems like would be the place to start. The people are already there. There’s already some of the necessary retail mix there.

      2. Washington Square Mall looks very suburban? Seems like it would be more like Westfield Southcenter, which has a Nordstrom as an anchor, than Bellevue downtown.

      3. It’s in a reasonably wealthy tech dominated part of the Portland area. Intel and its derivatives are nearby. Any comparisons really break down at some point.

      4. Ultimately, what’s going to draw people downtown long-term is going to be experiences, not things. Not many are going to make a special trip downtown just to shop for clothes that you can buy anywhere. Downtown also has too much office space and not enough residential space. Excessive office space leads to a dead zone outside the 9-5 workday (and if too many people are working from home, even during the 9-5 workday). Residential space results in eyes on the street all the time, including evenings and weekends. It can also create demand for places like restaurants and grocery stores, as all those downtown residents have to eat.

        As to 3rd Ave., specifically, the simplest way to deter crazies from hanging out there is just to maintain a stronger police presence. Nobody does drug deals in the transit tunnel because there are security guards there all the time to deter it. Stationing security guards at known hotspots such as 3rd/Pine or 3rd/Virginia could have a similar effect.

      5. Ultimately, what’s going to draw people downtown long-term is going to be experiences, not things.

        Exactly, but sometimes the experience is shopping. It has been a while since I’ve been downtown (Covid and all). I like shopping — or at the very least window shopping — on First Avenue. A generation ago, this would have been considered crazy. The street was the epitome of what guys like Daniel complain about. Pure sleeze. Bums on the sidewalk, with vomit everywhere. Pawn shops and sex stores. This was so well known it was noted in “Still Life With Woodpecker”.

        Now, of course, there are dozens of cute little shops. At least there were, until Covid hammered it. Again, I haven’t been down there, but that’s what I’ve read.

        There is nothing intrinsically bad about Third, any more than First. The latter recovered, so will the former.

        The long term prospects for downtown are good. The waterfront/Pike Place area will soon be better than ever (if it isn’t already). The pedestrian promenade and new aquarium will attract people (like me). You will be able to see sharks, swimming around, from the street. How cool is that! The area is doing OK now, but will be booming.

        Then, of course, you have the business workers. Growing up, I remember so much of downtown as being sterile. Last time I had jury duty, it was the opposite. Restaurants opened in little nooks and crannies, taking advantage of the huge number of people down there. They have all been hammered by the loss of office workers. But they will recover as soon as people head back to work.

        Oh, and let’s not forget that downtown has added more housing than any other area. This doesn’t mean that every part of downtown will have a lot of life after dark, but a lot more of it will. There was a time when downtown essentially shut down at 6:00 PM. Those days are gone. The pandemic hammered big cities — so much so that lots of articles predicted the death of the city. Already you are reading article after article saying that just didn’t happen. Downtown Seattle is still suffering from the pandemic, but it will recover. It always does.

      6. There was an NPR story today that some downtown activity has returned to close to pre-pandemic levels, including tourism, hotel occupancy, and residential occupancy. It’s the closed offices that are mostly absent. Some people may be looking too much at tents and street people and aren’t noticing what else is going on.

      7. The Seattle Times has an article on retail in the downtown core today. On Saturday the entire editorial page was devoted to crime and public safety in the downtown core, and most of Sunday’s editorial page (along with endorsements for Harrell).

        Apparently Mayor Durkan approved allowing non-retail businesses like gyms, doctor offices, and so on to fill street level businesses in the retail zone due to the loss of businesses from Covid. I agree with the Times this is a dangerous strategy, and these businesses crowd out retail, and the number one key to retail is retail and façade density.

        I agree with Ross the waterfront should be a strong draw for Seattle, considering it is along Puget Sound and will have a park. But that of course depends on whether the parks and streets along the waterfront are filled with tents, and there is safe and obvious parking.

        Although I work in downtown Seattle five days/week like Ross I buy little, and shop little, although my wife and I do go out to dinner and for drinks regularly. My wife and 18 year old daughter, however, shop and buy a lot, which is exactly what every retailer will tell you. That is the customer you need.

        They just won’t go downtown to shop (although my daughter has occasionally gone to Capitol Hill during the day for the scene and some funky shops) because they feel uncomfortable walking the streets, and who wants to feel uncomfortable walking the streets. My wife prefers to dine in Bellevue or on the eastside which she knows very well, so that is where we go. I like the Pike Place Market for drinks and dinner, but the parking is a bear, so that means the cost of Uber.

        Some on this blog might claim my wife and daughter are overreacting, but they are women, and the people on this blog claiming they are overreacting are the least desirable retail demographic of all: old men, who ride transit. Sorry, but it is true. You won’t find a dept. for old men who ride transit at Nordstrom.

        If I were the next mayor of Seattle I would focus like a laser on Pike, from the convention center because the tourist is a cash cow, to Westlake Center so the city does not lose Nordstrom after it lost Macy’s and Bartell’s and so many businesses in this area, to the Market (which means finally doing something with the Sam Israel property that takes up the entire block from 1st to 2nd and Pike to Pine and currently is a nudy show), to the waterfront.

        I would put a massive police presence in these areas, and hopefully get a prosecutor who is willing to prosecute these street crimes including shoplifting which is killing Seattle retail. If necessary I would install fences along both sides of Pike.

        Then you need parking. Parking does not have to be free, but it has to be “obvious”, to use Roger Brooks’ term, which means you drive directly to it knowing there will be space, and it has to be safe, within the safe zone. People hate driving around looking for a parking spot. Asking female shoppers and diners to take a bus along 3rd, or light rail that exits in dangerous areas, is absurd. You need cars to carry the things you have bought home, and for safety.

        Finally I disagree with Ross that the work commuter will return, certainly not in full force, and the professor from Toronto stated the same, and to survive downtown cores like Seattle will have to reinvent themselves into living areas with social things that bring folks together. Yes, there will be too much office space, and what to do about that I don’t know, but losing the captured work commuter who eats downtown and shops downtown, because they are there, will be a tough blow for Seattle retail (plus the sales tax is allocated on where the online item is purchased, so even if Seattle reinvents itself its tax revenue will decline from the loss of businesses).

        The last thing I would do is make Seattle retail hostage to those who dream of abolishing cars, or who hope to manufacture ridership on transit by restricting parking or making driving too difficult, because your competition to the east, north and south is doing just the opposite, and eating your lunch, and they understand the customer who actually buys things.

      8. So, just to summarize Daniel, we need to make downtown better for the ladies. Because ladies be shopping. Oh, and ladies be driving too.

        Good God, what antiquated ideas. People walk and take transit downtown. Men and women shop there, eat there and yes, live there. As Mike wrote, the only thing really holding things back is the office workers. They will return, as soon as this country defeats Covid. That could take a while, but will happen.

      9. I read those two Times articles and I thought about posting them here. I would say Durkan’s plan to allow more non-retail is an interim step, and a new vision for downtown has yet to be articulated by the city or business community. My point is that some things have come back, which you seem to be ignoring. If Nordstrom moves that’s Nordstrom’s decision; it would be bad long-term for both the city and Nordstrom. The city doesn’t have to go slavering around Nordstrom as if it’s the only critical thing. I shopped at Norstrom growing up like my parents did, but I’ve hardly bought anything from Nordstrom for decades.

        A dense city can’t have street parking for everybody; it needs garages. Downtown’s retail garages have always been under capacity ever since Pacific Place was built at least. Even on the Seahawks’ super bowl celebration, 4th of July, the womens’ march, and the WTO protests the garages weren’t full even though downtown had more people than one could imagine any other time. The argument that downtown parking is bad boils down to people wanting street parking because it’s lower-priced or you don’t have to go into a garage. Is that really worth supporting in a dense downtown. Again, there’s not even a fraction of enough street space for everyone to park in on-street spaces even if you wanted to build that many spaces.

        Office workers will probably return. The conventional assumption is 80% will return three days a week on average. 80% is only 20% less than 100%; it’s not like 50% or 25%, which would be a bigger issue. And even if existing companies don’t return, new companies are continually forming or moving to Seattle and they’ll take some of the space. Nobody knows for sure because it will depend on a lot of individual decisions. and people don’t know what they’ll do because delta is prolonging the pandemic and they’re not sure when/if the situation can get substantially under control. If they don’t know, we don’t know. But we can assume the future will probably be at least partly like the past. If it’s 70% or 80% like the past, we should be ready for it, and not make premature changes that may turn out to be shortsighted. If there’s really going to be a fundamental shift of more than 20% and we should go in a different direction, we’ll need compelling evidence that that’s the case, not just speculations by suburbanists.

        Downtown is not going to abolish cars. The political powers aren’t ready to even consider the possibility. We can’t even get as much transit and non-car priority as Paris or London have, and they still have cars downtown.

      10. “Even on the Seahawks’ super bowl celebration, 4th of July, the womens’ march, and the WTO protests the garages weren’t full even though downtown had more people than one could imagine any other time”.

        I went to that parade. It was freezing cold. There wasn’t a parking spot available anywhere until you were east of Broadway. If downtown had more than adequate parking we could just eliminate the 20% parking tax and eliminate transit for work commuters, which is pretty much what businesses are doing now with subsidized parking, except at 100% Seattle does not have adequate parking garage space for workers. Right now there is adequate parking, and maybe in the future with WFH there will be adequate parking to go to a subsidized parking model rather than Orca cards, which cost about the same per month as a parking stall today.

        When I talk about “obvious” retail parking it does not have to be on the street, and can be in a garage, if obvious.

        “The argument that downtown parking is bad boils down to people wanting street parking because it’s lower-priced or you don’t have to go into a garage”.

        Downtown street parking is not cheaper than a garage, especially if you plan on being a couple of hours. Not sure when you last parked in downtown Seattle. I do agree any kind of underground or garage parking is unpopular with women. Kemper Freeman bemoans the fact he has $300 million (in 2015 dollars) tied up in surface parking next to Bellevue Square, but still his women customers avoid Lincoln Square, which is also free and very easy to access, but underground.

        If downtown Seattle loses Nordstrom, whether you shop there or not, it will be a signal to every other retail business to leave Seattle. Norm Rice understood that in the 1970’s.

      11. The last thing downtown Seattle needs is more parking. It already has tons and tons of unused parking. It’s simply a matter that the unused parking lies in paid garages, but people are cheap and prefer to circle around block after block, hunting for free or under-priced public street parking.

        It is also not possible for downtown to function if everybody arrives there in a separate car. The streets simply cannot handle such traffic volumes, and widening them so that they can would require leveling buildings to the point where downtown ceases to be a functional downtown anymore.

      12. “The last thing downtown Seattle needs is more parking. It already has tons and tons of unused parking. It’s simply a matter that the unused parking lies in paid garages, but people are cheap and prefer to circle around block after block, hunting for free or under-priced public street parking.”

        I don’t know how often you park in downtown Seattle asdf2, but for this comment to make sense you have to distinguish the type of parking, and whether you are talking about pre-pandemic, today, or post-pandemic.


        Residential parking was definitely less than the need pre-pandemic. This is because most buildings were allowed to install less than one stall per unit, (and some had no parking), and many of the units (at least in Belltown) were designed for retired couples. A mistake many cities made was not coupling the parking by deed to the unit, so the building owner began to charge for parking.

        The real problem for these folks (especially the elderly and women) is there is no alternative to a car and onsite parking because transit in downtown Seattle is seen as too unsafe, as is offsite parking, especially at night. They want secured parking in the building, for safety and so your car doesn’t get broken into every night. I am sure the vision they were sold was a pedestrian/urbanist lifestyle, walking at night from Belltown to the Pike Place Market for dinner, or to shop, but it is too dangerous, and now most of the stores are closed.


        There definitely was too little parking pre-pandemic for work commuters, which is why prices were so high (plus the 20% parking tax). Folks would even park under I-5 which is a very sketchy part of Seattle. Street parking is not an alternative for a work commuter because it has time limits, and even if you feed the meter all day the cost is the same or more than a monthly spot. Street parking per hour is not cheap in the core, or wasn’t pre-pandemic.

        Currently there is definitely more parking than needed downtown, at least in buildings, although prices have not dropped considerably. What it has done is allow businesses to subsidize parking rather than transit. Actually since the parking is tax deductible for the employer and the transit is not (but it is not income to the employee until I think $240/month) the cost to subsidize parking and transit is close to the same.

        Post pandemic I don’t know. I was surprised that at least on the eastside it is the tenants and lenders who demand more parking than required in the code, and every new building is competing for the blue chip tenants.

        I think either way more and more employees will demand parking subsidies, having gotten used to them. If in office work declines around 25% then parking subsidies make more sense since most employees prefer driving to transit (especially with many transfers) and there will be adequate ONSITE parking downtown. Still the number one factor for transit in downtown Seattle is commuters don’t think transit is safe due to the virus, or Seattle’s streets are safe unless you access the transit tunnel directly to your building.


        Why anyone would want to restrict parking for retail I have no idea, unless you don’t like retail.

        It is true retail shoppers prefer street parking, or did pre-pandemic, because underground parking was often full, and prefers monthly or full day parkers, and so is more expensive than the street for 2 or 3 hours.

        But over an entire day street parking (except in areas like the International District where SDOT and retailers are trying to lure shoppers with lower parking rates, except there is just too little street parking so easier to use Uwajimaya’s parking lot and buy $10 worth of goods) is as expensive as full day underground parking.

        I don’t know how full street parking is today because I don’t use it anymore. We pretty much only go to the International District to dine in Seattle, and park at Uwajimaya and buy more than $10 worth of stuff to get free parking.

        “It is also not possible for downtown to function if everybody arrives there in a separate car. The streets simply cannot handle such traffic volumes, and widening them so that they can would require leveling buildings to the point where downtown ceases to be a functional downtown anymore.”

        This statement is true, or was pre-pandemic, at least during peak hours. Of course Seattle does everything it can to make traffic congestion worse.

        Post pandemic whether one drives or uses transit will mostly have to do with how convenient transit is, and how safe Seattle is perceived to be. If working from home reduces car congestion, and employers are willing to continue to subsidize parking — and workers can commute in non-peak times — it isn’t really Seattle congestion that is the issue it is I-5, a very dysfunctional designed freeway, whereas going east on I-90 during rush hour was not bad, especially after R8-A widened the lanes to four.

        In the future I think transit will have to compete harder on time of trip, convenience, transfers, cost of fare and possibly the park and ride, congestion, and most of all safety, which is both a transit and downtown Seattle issue.

        If commuters don’t feel safe taking transit, or exiting in Seattle, they won’t take it no matter what, and employers won’t and can’t force them too, not with Bellevue businesses hiring everyone who is qualified with a very safe environment in which no one feels unsafe taking transit, except the transit is not great.

      13. The last thing downtown Seattle needs is more parking. It already has tons and tons of unused parking.

        Exactly. Basically Daniel wants to turn downtown Seattle into a mall, as if his particular antiquated tastes represent the future of American commerce. There are already too many cars downtown. Driving doesn’t scale. It makes sense for provide parking for small places, not big ones. Seattle has passed that line a long time ago.

      14. “Exactly. Basically Daniel wants to turn downtown Seattle into a mall, as if his particular antiquated tastes represent the future of American commerce.”

        Ross, I am only one cog in a huge wheel. Whether there are too many cars downtown is a judgment call each different person makes, and as I noted, in Bellevue it is the lenders and major tenants who are driving parking capacity in new buildings (and Microsoft is building a 3 million sf garage). Individuals don’t ask themselves or care whether “cars scale”; that is a transit term du jour. 10% of trips are by transit, so cars “scale”.

        I would agree pre-pandemic traffic congestion and parking were getting maxed out in Seattle (although I-5 was the real issue), especially as more and more surface lots were developed, but still work commuters drove to and from work.

        Post pandemic we may indeed see a steep drop off in folks driving to Seattle for work, and parking capacity will better match work commuters. There is no other use for underground parking spaces in downtown buildings. I simply disagreed with asdf2 that pre-pandemic there was “tons and tons” of available parking downtown being unused, which you extrapolated into there are too many cars. Whether peak transit ridership to Seattle will return is the real question.

        When it comes to parking for retailers, I think the retailers assoc. and Chamber can make their own case without me about what they need. If shoppers insist on driving to shop there are many, many destinations with adequate and free parking the favored shoppers tend to prefer.

        But if you want to go toward a “future” carless downtown, and increase transit use beyond the 10% who must use it, transit and the streets have to be safe. Otherwise there is no alternative to driving.

        Right now more folks are driving to downtown Seattle than taking transit, which probably is not sustainable, unless around 20% or 25% of commuters to Seattle don’t return due to WFH or working on the eastside, although they drove pre-pandemic. But if transit is not seen safe by commuters they won’t take it, and will find alternatives, no matter what you or I might prefer.

        People will take the mode of transportation they prefer, or find another place to work. If you don’t want people driving to downtown Seattle, and they won’t take transit, then people need to work from home, or find another place to work, although I think you think they will be “forced” to take transit so transit’s farebox recovery supports greater frequency or coverage, although I don’t think the average commuter cares about farebox recovery or frequency except for the route they take.

        The key is to make folks who currently drive WANT to take transit, not try and force them to take transit, which is the real antiquated taste and does not work in the long term.

  5. https://hbr.org/2009/09/the-female-economy

    Here is a Harvard Business Review article from 2009. It isn’t a sexist or antiquated concept in the retail world. Women buy much more than men. You go after your best customer. Like so many you try to marginalize “ladies” and want to force your views on them, like where to shop or whether to drive or not. They can make their own decisions. And do.

    Here is another good article on the percentage U.S. women buy. https://girlpowermarketing.com/statistics-purchasing-power-women/

    You state you haven’t been in downtown Seattle for months due to Covid, and even when you do you window shop. I don’t buy much stuff either. But your post is exactly the kind of ideology that retailers can’t afford if they want to survive. The office workers are only one part of revitalizing Seattle, except it is probably going to result in a permanent loss of shoppers and diners. You want to help downtown retailers, then visit, buy something, and eat and drink downtown.

    Yes, women prefer to drive. Only 11% of Americans take transit daily or weekly anyway.
    https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/07/who-relies-on-public-transit-in-the-u-s/ so already you exclude 90% of shoppers. It is why malls are surrounded by huge parking lots. Like I said, an old man taking transit is not the ideal demographic for Nordstrom, or any retailer.

    Mike tends to see things through rose colored glasses when it comes to transit, ST or downtown Seattle, mostly based on anecdotal evidence. Apparently the Seattle Times disagree on Seattle’s downtown vibrancy, which is why Mayor Durkan relaxed the rule to allow non-retail businesses in the retail zone.

    There was a mild increase in downtown activity and hotel rates, until the Delta variant. Now the downtown core is pretty much dead again, and I work here five days/week. It is much, much deader than the eastside shopping and dining areas in my experience, and I eat and drink out at least twice per week, including lunch in Pioneer Square, except very, very few establishments are open for lunch due to the lack of office workers.

    Don’t turn retail into an ideological contest. This kind of thinking has already hurt downtown Seattle retail enough, well before Covid. The issues for retail in downtown Seattle are much bigger than Covid, simply based on the retail vibrancy in other areas of the region. I think this time around, unlike when Norm Rice became mayor, retail in downtown Seattle won’t recover, in part because there are just too many better options.

    1. There is a big difference between ignoring female customers, and assuming that only women go shopping. They are both sexist concepts. Women don’t want to be shown “bikes for women”, they just want to be shown bikes. At the same time, men shop for toiletries, just like they shop for monster trucks.

      Of course I buy stuff downtown. I eat at restaurants, go to clubs. Any visit to the aquarium is likely to include fish and ships for the grandkids. Like most Americans I buy a lot of stuff online, but if I buy something in person, it is way more likely to be downtown, even though I live very close to Northgate. I like outdoor gear, and there are several companies (North Face, Patagonia, Marmot) with downtown outlets. This is the future of retail. Unlike a department store, these stores really don’t mind if you try stuff on, and then decide to buy it online. You aren’t killing the middle-man, because they are the middle man. They also have all the stuff, unlike a department store, which can only carry a certain amount of any company’s stuff.

      I’m also into maps, which means that Metsgers (downtown) warrants a visit. Maybe I buy something, maybe I don’t. I’m less likely to buy a trinket, but that’s just me. There are plenty of dudes — yes, real dudes — that love that stuff. Assume that only women shop at your store and you are just as stupid as people who think the opposite.

      Oh, and women take transit. More than men. Seriously — look it up. Women ride transit more than men. For a place like downtown Seattle — where transit trips have always been a big share of visitations — it only stands to reason that lots of women ride the bus (or the train) to downtown. Worrying about whether they have a good place to park is a suburban mindset. But then, I would expect nothing less of you.

    2. I agree that if Seattle is to thrive like it could, and should, that people, and in particular women, have to feel safe to go there; because right now there are a lot of people who don’t.

      Just don’t ask me how to get there, but starting with a more visible police presence (such as New York does in Times Square) seems to make sense.

      As far as who is spending the most money and time shopping it’s the women. Clearly. I thought that was an accepted fact! If I’m walking through a shopping district you’ll find a few men’s clothiers, and a multitude of other stores that cater to women. To illustrate anecdotally, I don’t know how many times my wife has said to me “oh, can we go in here?”… This is who the shops want: someone walking around, willing to browse, and open to buying something. That isn’t me, and I don’t think it’s most men. If I’m out to buy something I know what I want, go right to it, get it, and go home.

      So yeah, you’ll find a fair number of men ‘shopping’ too, but a lot of them are either standing around looking at their phones, or sitting on benches waiting for their wives or girlfriends to get done shopping. For a shopping area to thrive you’ve got to make it so that women want to go there, and make it easy to get to.

    3. And I went to Pike Place Market today and took the 11 up to Trader Joe’s. Last week I shopped at H-Mart and Target. I noticed the Hard Rock Cafe is advertising UFC later this month and thought I might attend it. I noticed other shops open, and a crowd at Pike Place, and middle-class pedestrians in the retail district, and a normal number of people on the 11.

  6. I noticed that ST published their future schedules (for post-Northgate Link). I immediately jumped to the 522. I heard conflicting reports about the service levels. Overall it looks OK. But it also looks a bit weird.

    For example, consider westbound weekday. It starts out infrequently, and a bit sporadic. I guess they are expecting Metro to carry the load. Fair enough.

    Then at around 9:30 in the morning, they get into a nice rhythm, with buses every 10 minutes. Things are looking great until around noon. Then frequency drops. Not to 15 minutes, but 20. That continues until 2:30 pm, where it switches to every 15 minutes — almost. It isn’t quite clockface, which makes the timing strange. It is mostly every 16 minutes. Then it transitions to 20 minutes in the evening, and half hour at night.

    Saturday service is similar. Before 9:00 it is infrequent — 20 minutes at best. Unlike the weekday, this is the only bus going along that pathway. At 9:00 AM it runs every 10 minutes until 11:30 AM. Then it transitions to every 20 minutes. That continues until 10:00 PM, where it becomes half-hourly, and then quits before midnight.

    I would rather see service more spread out. Instead of every 10 minutes, then 15, then 20, just keep it at 15. Or better yet, 12. To be fair, the 372 isn’t much better. In both cases I think the problem is that it is a suburban-oriented route. Most of the ridership comes from Lake City Way, but it spends most of its time serving the northern suburbs. As such, there is a suburban pattern (towards the city in the morning, away from it in the evening). I think it underestimates the value of the line in terms of the overall urban network. It overlaps with the 372, but the route has unique coverage (with plenty of riders) and different transfer points. Not only is this a much faster way to get to Link, but also to places west, like Greenwood, Wallingford and Fremont.

    Consider in contrast, the 65 and 75. They have 15 minute frequency all day long until 10:00 PM. The 522 is better, but only within a brief time frame.

    I also think this is another case of ST and Metro not cooperating well. If you truncated the 372 in Lake City (all the time) that would allow you to run both buses more often. Maybe you run the 322 every ten minutes, while the 372 runs every 15. That would not only be easier to understand, but likely a lot better for the average rider.

    1. I asked Sound Transit about the 522 schedule. Basically the reason for the 522 jumping between 10/20 minutes is because they don’t have enough buses to run every 10 minutes all day and they want EVERY bus to be synchronized with a train.

      But I agree that I’d rather see a consistent 15 minutes rather than a seemingly random jump from 10 to 20 to 10.

      1. Oh, and that also explains the 16 minute frequency, to line up with every other train when Link runs every 8 minutes.

      2. Trying to sync up a bus to a train is nuts, unless the train is running very infrequently. It takes too long to walk to the platform, and cross the street. For a bus that is headed to the station, it is unlikely to be well timed, especially this one. This route is long, and doesn’t have off-board payment.

        Meanwhile, what about everyone else, who isn’t taking Link? Even now, with this being an express to downtown, about a quarter of the riders aren’t going downtown. They are making other trips. This will only increase as it gets to Roosevelt — a destination in its own right. You also have the trips I mentioned (Fremont, Wallingford, Greenwood) but also trips to the UW. Yes, you can take Link, but you also can take a surface bus. There is the 45, 67, and 73, which have a combined frequency better than Link. They also go to a lot more stops. If you are headed to Campus Parkway (and a lot of people are) then it makes sense to take the fast bus to 65th, and catch a frequent bus there. The buses I mentioned (65 and 75) never tried to time the connection with Link. This shouldn’t either.

        This is just a variation on the flawed thinking that goes with this route. ST is treating it like a suburban connection (e. g. Mercer Island) where just about everyone is going to get off the bus, and catch the train. Might as well be commuter rail. But that isn’t what this bus is. This bus — whether ST knows it or not — is a real, honest to goodness, urban route. There are people making trips along the corridor all day long, and they could really use better (and more consistent) frequency.

      3. The 522 has long had odd frequent periods so it may be a continuation of that. I’d expect it to be even between 9am and 4pm, but instead it was infrequent until 1:30 pm or something like that.

        If Larry is right, it will get better over time. After the feeder network is established for a couple years ridership will probably increase, and the economy and tax revenue will probably get better as offices reopen and supply-chain bottlenecks are resolved, and ST will have time to order buses in its regular procurement cycles.

      4. So it will get better right before it gets replaced (by the bus heading to 145th Station). Seriously though, it isn’t that bad. It is just a bit weird. I feel like everyone needs to check a schedule, even if you take it frequently. There is no way you are going to be able to remember the schedule (unlike, say, the 75, where it runs every 15 minutes through the day).

      5. Oh, and this is why running the trains every 8 minutes is a bad idea. They should be run at 7.5. Consider this schedule for a particular stop:

        6:00, 6:07, 6:15, 6:22, 6:30, 6:37, 6:45, 6:52, 7:00, etc.

        or this one:

        6:00, 6:08, 6:16, 6:24, 6:32, 6:40, 6:48, 6:56, 7:04, etc.

        With the first one it is obvious when the train runs. That’s because the train runs the same every hour. There is also an obvious pattern that isn’t hard to figure out (it is running every 15 minutes, and every half of 15 minutes).

        In contrast, if you look at the schedule (https://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/documents/schedules-tacoma-link-t-line-and-link-1-line.pdf) you have to do some not very obvious math to figure out when the train will appear. For example, the northbound train leaves SoDo at 6:17, and then “runs every 8 minutes”. That means it also runs 6:39, and 7:21, and 7:45. I would be impressed if someone said “Well, the train runs at 6:17, so that means it will also run at 7:45”. Don’t be surprised if people complain, and want them to print the whole schedule during that period.

        It reminds me of this comment: https://humantransit.org/2011/12/how-frequent-is-freedom.html#comment-71295. There is value in having the schedule be a subdivision of 60. This is why.

    2. I’ve never heard the comment section complain about route 128 riders trying to sync-up with Link at TIBS. What’s acceptable down south is an outrage up north?

      1. The 128 is a low-volume coverage route, and its main transfer point is from the C at Alaska Junction. The 522 is the primary regional route for Seattle’s fifth-largest urban village (Lake City) and the entire cities of Kenmore, Bothell, and Woodinville, and part of Lake Forest Park.

      2. The 128 has a very consistent schedule — 20 minutes throughout the day. It does manage to waver a tiny amount, but so little that it is meaningless. If you are in White Center, you can catch a southbound bus at 8:18 AM. Eleven hours later, you can catch it at 7:17. For the entirety between there, you can catch it in 20 minute increments — very easy to remember. If I was catching the bus, I would aim to be there at 15 after, or 35 after or 55 after. Very simple.

        The 522, as mentioned, doesn’t have that kind of consistency. I’m not saying that Metro couldn’t use some work in that regard — there are routes that similarly funky — but it doesn’t mean it is the right approach.

  7. A new 41st District will soon emerge and you can weigh in on the four alternatives. See link below and a link to the current legislative district maps.

    Some new version will emerge as a result of negotiation among the two Dems and the two Rep. and the legislature will adopt that version or something closely akin to it.

    I like the fact that this state is one of 7 that provides for a commission-based redistricting system with balanced input from both major parties. If every state did this a huge amount of corrosive political gerrymandering would be missing. What we are seeing in states like OR and some red states is pretty blatant.

    I think the current make up for the 41st district is pretty good, and matches eastside transit routes. Of course 30 years ago folks thought MI should be part of Seattle, and not vast forests east of us. And who would have thought Bellevue would have a much higher percentage of non-white residents than Seattle.

    The areas around Bellevue including Medina, Clyde Hill and so on all agreed to a single Bellevue council many years ago, but with agreements on development in those areas. That is why you see such a stark line between single family residential zones in Bellevue and very tall commercial zones, with little in between. These areas or cities should remain part of their own district. IMO.

    Find your map and the alternatives for your current district. https://agr.wa.gov/washington-agriculture/maps/legislative-district-maps

    Here is the link to each commissioner’s proposed map (there are four commissioners)


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