Pulling Away From Kingston in 16:9 Widescreen

This is an open thread

154 Replies to “News roundup: September highlights”

  1. Reece Martin advocates cross platform transfers.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LgW1_Njbums

    This is something that would be so easy to do at SODO (and quite difficult to do at Westlake and ID/C). It could also be done at Tacoma Dome. All it would take is moving the southbound tracks to the Beacon Hill tunnel to the outside (westmost) and a new connecting over crossing south of the station. It would then shorten the tunnel portal north of Holgate too. Doing this would make so many trips that today are a single train line (like between UW or North Seattle and SeaTac Airport and SE Seattle) into an easy cross platform transfer when the lines are split. It also makes track switching much easier to build and then use when there is a service disruption.

    Please consider advocating for this at SODO when the WSBLE is released. ST has not yet proposed this. Not doing this at SODO would be a 100-year mistake as the transfers between these corridors would have to be done with one or two sets of stairs or elevators (ST now is avoiding down escalator installations in future stations) without a cross platform transfer.

      1. Thanks for the historical reference, Martin. STB was right to foresee the issue in 2009. Center platforms do enable cross platform transfers when two branches come together to use the same track. I’ll even go as far as to say this design problem at ID/C will bother some Link riders for decades. I also note that East Main side platforms will have the same issue — except riders will at least be able to cross without changing levels.

        However, it’s still a small fraction of the number of same direction transfers between the 1 Line and the 3 Line that will occur once Line 1 is split. . Basically, any rider from UW, North Seattle and Snohomish will be forced to transfer to SE Seattle and SeaTac and South King once a DSTT2 is opened per the current plans. That could easily be more riders than any station will serve (ST has not disclosed what transfer volumes are projected to be). High transfer volumes means crowded escalators and stairs, and riders having to wait for two or three loads to pass before they can board an elevator. This is a systems issue, and will affect riders from all subareas.

    1. I don’t see it as a big issue though. There is only one interline spot, and thus only one train-to-train transfer spot: the I. D. Station. As you wrote, it would be difficult to modify that station. I also don’t see that many transfers there. I’ll try and break it down:

      1) East Side and Jukdins to Stadium, SoDo and Beacon Hill. Stadium largely serves, well, the stadiums. Riders routine walk from I. D., so folks arriving from the East will probably walk, even if there was a good transfer (especially since the train coming from the north will probably be full from riders going to the same place). SoDo doesn’t have many riders, which leaves travel to Beacon Hill. This is significant, but not huge.

      2) East Side and Jukdins to Rainier Valley. If you are headed to the Mount Baker area, it is likely faster to get off at Judkins Park and catch a bus. Even for the other stops, taking the 106 might save you time. In some cases, the 7 is a better bet (since Rainier has more destinations). Again, I don’t see huge numbers of riders.

      3) Judkins to Tukwila, SeaTac, and places south. I think these riders will just take a bus to Mount Baker, and transfer there.

      4) Downtown Bellevue to Tukwila. There will be an express bus connecting these places.

      5) Downtown Bellevue to SeaTac, and places south. Either way it is a two seat ride; my guess is folks will take the faster route (the bus).

      6) People walking or taking buses to Mercer Island and South Lake Union, headed to Tukwila, SeaTac and places south. This will be a three seat ride for most. A few people might ride to the airport, but not many.

      7) Riders from East Main, and east of downtown Bellevue headed to SeaTac. Yeah, I suppose, but very few people actually take transit to the train, especially from far away. If there was a lot of people, then Metro or ST will accommodate them with an express bus (from SeaTac to downtown Bellevue) since it would save them a lot of time (and in some cases a transfer).

      7) Riders from East Main, and east of downtown Bellevue headed to the southern suburbs. Other than folks headed to Microsoft, there aren’t a lot of people doing this. Even including Microsoft, it doesn’t add up to big numbers. You save a seat by staying on the train, but the STride line is faster. Oh, and since we are talking about Microsoft, if there are a lot of riders doing that, the Microsoft bus could serve them, saving them a lot of time and comfort.

      Overall, this just doesn’t add up to that many people. The geography is all wrong. At least, until West Seattle/Ballard Link gets here. Most of those transfers will involve different levels, but West Seattle will be interlined with the East Side. This means anyone who commutes from West Seattle to Bellevue or Redmond will transfer from a bus to the train in West Seattle, then transfer from that train to the train heading towards Bellevue. Oh well, at least it is good exercise.

      It is too bad that the station isn’t fixed at I.D., but there are a lot of similar problems. The station at SeaTac does not connect well with the airport. Mount Baker and UW station are poor for various reasons. This is just one more station flaw, and frankly, given the cost, not necessarily worth the effort to fix.

      1. Interesting – so basically you think riders will prefer to take Stride between TIBS and Bellevue, rather than routing through Seattle, greatly reducing the value of modifying ID station for a central platform?

        I think you are missing out that for anyone traveling between SW King and western Pierce (aka Federal Way Link) and any of the East Link stations that aren’t downtown Bellevue saves a transfer by going to through downtown. There’s a ton more to East Link than just the Bellevue TC walkshed and Msft, particularly as Wilburton and Bel-Red get built out. Also, I don’t think it’s helpful to handwave towards employee shuttles; someone riding transit all the way from Tacoma to Bellevue is more likely to be a contractor or vendor more Msft, not an employee, and therefore ineligible for the employer shuttles.

        Why would ID be difficult to modify? Isn’t it simillar to Pioneer, where they can lay a concrete stab to create a central platform and the hurdle is in providing vertical conveyance from the central platform to the street?

      2. I must disagree that setting up SODO for cross platform transfers is somehow an unreasonable cost. Changing out one viaduct is at most $20m to $40m. A single station costs more. The tracks have to cross each other anyway and the current plans are to bore a longer tunnel underground north of Holgate under the existing tracks — certainly more expensive than moving a crossing from north of Holgate in a tunnel to south of Lander and crossing with an aerial structure instead.

        The issues have little to do with the Eastside and everything thing about traveling north-south in Seattle. In the video, it’s explained not only how such transfers are important, but how different transfer directions can vary if there is more than one transfer station. Watch the video!

        Finally, there is no other place where the lines cross that can realistically have a LEVEL cross platform transfer in both directions. It’s just way too expensive and complex to rebuild Westlake or ID/C since they are in subways. ST has proposed a possible cross platform transfer in one direction at ID/C in some alternatives but it appears to help people transfer in a reverse direction — not the same direction as this one I suggest at SODO does.

      3. AJ, the ID/C station has tail tracks in the middle to allow for track switching between the two lines. Without the tail tracks, the entire system would have to freeze for several minutes to reverse a train from one branch to the other.

      4. Oh really? I guess I haven’t been in that station since they did the East Link tie in, I didn’t realize the tail track was within the station itself.

      5. “so basically you think riders will prefer to take Stride between TIBS and Bellevue, rather than routing through Seattle, greatly reducing the value of modifying ID station for a central platform?”

        Many probably will because Stride will have only handful of stops to downtown Bellevue, on a fully 55 mph freeway. The Link alternative will have 12 stops (8+4), and anything above nine stations feels like a long trip. Plus the 30 mph segments in Rainier Valley and SODO, that might be lowered to 25 mph if the city gets too extreme with Vision Zero.

        The unoptimized transfer at Intl Dist just makes it worse, as if ST doesn’t care about Link ridership or passenger satisfaction.

        “the ID/C station has tail tracks in the middle to allow for track switching between the two lines.”

        The East Link track arrangement precludes buses in the tunnel. Whether it precludes alternate Link patterns, maybe. But it was Sound Transit that designed the East Link alignment that way; it could have designed it differently.

        Judkins Park buses probably will become popular as the most convenient way to get between Rainier Valley and the Eastside, and I can see people taking a bus from the southern CD to Mt Baker rather than a train-to-train transfers. When one transfer segment is short, there’s less of a reason to do a less-convenient train-to-train transfer. When both segments are longer, then the transfer and backtracking is a a smaller part of the total trip so feels less significant.

        It’s unclear exactly how much mode share Stride for TIB-Bellevue trips and Judkins Park buses for east Seattle trips will get. Probably a lot, but it will depend on people’s individual decisions. Link’s aesthetic advantages may weigh more strongly for some people.

        If you’re going from TIB to the Spring District or Redmond, lines 1+2 may be more attractive than Stride+Line 2, because you’ll have to transfer anyway, and the transfer will be a smaller part of the total trip.

      6. I think you are right, AJ. While a transfer at ID needs down escalators, it is still just one transfer. Because Stride only goes to Bellevue Transit Crnter and TIBS, anyone else on the Eastside won’t want to make a transfer at each place —especially because they both have some difficulty in their transfer walking (like I believe there are no down escalators at BTC). I also think that the perceived fare rules will mean that people will want to enter the Link system just once. Then there is the angst of waiting for two transit vehicles rather than one and Stride (a middle trip leg) is less frequent. So Overlake, Redmond and Spring District riders will mostly just stay on Link once they enter the paid fare area.

      7. I believe there are no down escalators at BTC
        There’s no lower level at BTC. The current transit center is at street level and Link exits the tunnel and is starting it’s ramp over I-405 where the platform is. It is a mess getting from the bus bays to Link but nothing an escalator or people mover can fix since you have to cross a major intersection. I expect anyone transferring to RR-B will use Wilburton (aka Hospital Station). Assuming they actual build the pedestrian bridge over NE 8th that is.

      8. Bernie, I mistakenly put BTC when I should have said Bellevue Downtown Link station across the street.

  2. I live near the center of Fremont and I’m not as critical of streetcars as some are, but we don’t need it. I can’t imagine this would be a significant improvement over the 40 in terms of time savings and it definitely wouldn’t beat the 28 to downtown. There are better ways to spend our limited transit dollars.

  3. RE Streetcar Extensions comment: There are plenty of extensions that can be pursued. What’s needed is guidance on when it’s a good investment. They are expensive to build and should not be done on a whim.

    That said, Magnolia seems pretty silly — especially when the proposal will be so close to following Ballard Link. For that matter, there are issues getting to Fremont along the west side of Lake Union too.

    The cool thing about the post is the 2009 streetcar map reprise made by Oran! I used to able to retrieve this map, can’t find it anywhere anymore.

    1. What’s needed is guidance on when [building a streetcar line] a good investment.

      For Seattle, the short answer is: never. There is not a single streetcar line that makes sense, other than maybe along the waterfront. There is nowhere else where we can leverage an existing rail line. It is not a priority, obviously, but running a streetcar there might eventually be worth considering.

      So that leaves the possibility of building a line where the capacity is needed, and it doesn’t make sense to invest in grade separation (what we would call light rail). We just don’t have that. There are sections where the light rail might act like a streetcar (by running on the surface) but overall, it acts more like a subway.

      At first glance, it does appear like we might have some worthy streetcar corridors. The 70, for example, carries a lot of people. But when they studied it, they concluded that the buses (running reasonably frequently) can carry the load quite easily. Even Madison — a major transit corridor — is better served by bus. Our busiest corridors on the buses that carry the most riders per mile are still not at the level where a streetcar is needed, or we have a subway line there (or both).

      One area where we do have huge numbers of riders is downtown Seattle (north to south). But in that case, we have a “spine”, or lots of buses along a common segment. This isn’t going away, and besides, underneath the spine, there is a subway. There just aren’t any places in Seattle where a streetcar makes sense.

  4. Can someone explain why it is okay to tell people they have to wear a helmet when riding a bike, but the government has no place telling people they have to wear a mask when around other people they might infect with a very active and deadly respiratory infection?

    1. Because masks are a national culture-war issue and bike helmets aren’t. A small minority of anti-vaxxers has existed for decades. And in the era of Trump rallies, Charlotesville, BLM, and Jan 6, all the far-right groups merged because they saw an opportunity to gain real political power. Anti-helmet is not a right-left wedge issue because both part of the right support it (for individual freedom) and part of the left (to increase ridership). And both are more animated about other transportation issues than helmets.

    2. Sorry, you said masks and I switched to vax, because I think of both as part of the same mitigation strategy, and vax has been the most contentious recently. But the same principle applies.

      Who was the first politician or major influencer to crusade against masks? Sometimes these are Trump’s idosyncracies, but oftentimes it’s because somebody misinformed him. Anti-masking is probably the latter. Somebody, perhaps a governor, saw it as a potential wedge issue and ran with it, and the whole right got on board. Many of them probably wouldn’t have objected to masks or vaccines if it hadn’t been for that catalyst.

      1. I don’t recall Mr. Trump ever campaigning against either masks or vaccines. Indeed, he was playing up Operation Warp Speed throughout his final year and telling us the vaccine would be available very soon. But he chose not to publicize when he got his shots. Some may not realize he got vaccinated simply because he didn’t tweet it out, and it was after he had survived catching COVID a few months earlier.

        I don’t know if the other living ex-presidents snubbed him when they did their joint press effort to proclaim that they all got vaccinated, or if he snubbed them. We may never know. (And I’ve generally been on the side opposing whatever the joint ex-presidents have gotten together to support, for other issues unrelated to the vaccines, FWIW, so that tactic may have already lost its punch.)

        What he did that I have trouble ever forgiving him is his setting a bad example by allowing everyone at his events to be maskless, and rarely ever wearing a mask in public, and then making what appeared to be a display to show his feelings about masks by ripping his off as he left Walter Reed. He provided masks at lot of his events, but left it up to individual choice. It got some of his own supporters killed, including Herman Cain, the owner of the Godfather’s Pizza chain.

        That said, the CDC discouraged public use of surgical-style masks during the first surge, and later admitted that it was to make sure the masks would be available to medical care providers. Once mass mask production was in full swing, then they urged everyone to mask up. But they did urge the mass quarantine to make up for the failure to have a mask stockpile. One could argue that Trump was towing the CDC line regarding masks at that stage, even as he was bizarrely playing up quack remedies.

        Somehow, the ridiculous movement to oppose all public health measures against the virus got organized, and a roving band of anti-maskers traveled from school board to school board, opposing mask mandates, while being threatening enough to keep the locals away from attending hearings in person. All they had to do was not wear masks en masse, and then they got to own the the public space at those meetings. The local parent groups had to organize against them online, and rely on getting an overwhelming email campaign in favor of protecting public health to counter the roving anti-mask band. But I’m pretty sure most school boards, at least urban ones, saw this strategy for what it was. The only mystery is whether the participants understood the danger in which they were putting themselves, even as some of them ended up dying from getting the virus while engaging in this suicidal effort.

        Anyway, back to bike helmets…

        I do see the criminalization of not wearing bike helmets as a social justice issue given how it has been abused by police, or otherwise somehow resulted in disparate arrests of homeless and BIPOC riders. Those organizing to decriminalize it can’t necessarily prove intent, but they’ve got the goods (the data) on the outcomes. Of course, walking to the store while black also has disparate (and sometimes unfortunately deadly) outcomes. So, is it really the helmet law that has created the disparate outcomes, or is it how we do policing (e.g. crowdsourcing from neighbors looking for any excuse to get someone out of their pristine neighborhood)? And that’s where we don’t really go much further on this blog.

        I’m not sure the advocates of helmetlessness decriminalization have been able to prove that the helmet law is pernicious in and of itself, or if it is part of a larger pattern of disparate outcomes across all modes.

        I’m also curious whether the medical professional continuing to advocate criminalization have evolved from some of their previous bad math on how bike accidents go up as bike use goes up, but percentages of accidents per ride goes down. Have they even admitted that is the case?

      2. Wait, Brent… you generally oppose whatever the ex-Presidents are supporting? So, doesn’t matter what they are supporting, you just oppose it … because you oppose it. That’s insane.

        Here’s a suggestion: learn about the issues, the facts (real facts behind them), and determine your support or opposition based on actual reasons beyond the person delivering the message. It would make for a much better world.

  5. Throwing this out to the horde as a result of the Urbanist article on the Fremont and Magnolia streetcars: while streetcars have a certain hipness and prestige, isn’t having more bus service useful? Basing this not just on the Seattle struggles, but the DC logistical struggles with the streetcar to H street (vs. a more frequent metrobus). Are the stigmas of buses that bad (i.e., poorer (sometimes homeless) folks ride buses vs. those who might ride the fancy streetcar)?

    1. Light/heavy rail is best for high-volume corridors, European-level streetcars are best for medium corridors, and buses are best for lower-volume corridors. Light/heavy rail is more expensive but has more capacity and other benefits. Buses are the least expensive so you can have more routes or frequency for the same amount of money. Seattle/Portland-style streetcars are the worst of both worlds: most expensive than buses but no travel-time or capacity benefit. The First Hill Streetcar could have been a trolleybus, as we advocated.

      If this were Europe, both Westlake and Eastlake and Jackson/Rainier might have European-level streetcars, and they’d be more effective than our buses or streetcars, and ridership would approach European levels. But local/state/federal preferences don’t value that or prioritize it for funding.

      In the current Fremont situation, the best thing would be more transit priority on Westlake, and more non-Westlake Ballard-downtown service to relieve the 40 in Fremont, and more bus frequency in both corridors. A Seattle-level streetcar wouldn’t do anything to improve things. Metro’s long-range plan calls for upgrading the 40 to RapidRide, and that would/might provide the needed transit priority. (Caveat: I’m not 100% sure Westlake doesn’t have dedicated transit lanes already. Parts south of Denny do.)

      For Magnolia, a streetcar might be more favorable to residents for non-transit reasons, just like the existing streetcar corridors in Seattle and Portland. It might make them more amenable to upzoning, maybe. It wouldn’t be cost-effective, or improve travel time or capacity.

      The Human Transit blog has a more extensive comparison of streetcars vs buses.

      1. I recall the City Center Connector study concluding that in order to provide the *equivalent* light-rail-on-wheels level of service and right of way for busses along 1st Ave., it would cost similar to building the streetcar. There are arguably other disadvantages of building the streetcar (e.g, hazards to bicycles), and one may question whether that right of way is really needed with having light rail and a busway on 3rd, but based purely on cost, you’re only really saving money on the bus option if you’re cutting corners (BRT creep).

      2. 1st Avenue has different issues than Fremont or Magnolia. The streetcar quality is superior to either of the existing ones because it has center transit-only lanes. SDOT assures us that buses would also be able to use the center lanes, if such bus routes are proposed in the future. The streetcar alignment doesn’t address Belltown, so either a bus or streetcar line could go from Seattle Center to SODO on 1st and serve all that market.

        Adding new right of way (new lanes) is similar in cost for either bus or rail. A BRT line like Link between 45th and Rainier Beach with similar travel time would cost similar to what Link costs. For high-volume corridors you might as well go with rail and get more capacity for your money. The same applies for European-level streetcars in medium corridors. There are arguments both ways on whether Westlake has enough volume to be a medium corridor, and of course it has less potential mode share because of American attitudes on transit and housing density (i.e., more people wouldn’t ride it even if it were there, and can’t live on it because the number of housing units is artificially low).

        Still, Seattle streetcars cost more than Seattle buses to operate, the 1st Avenue center lanes should be based on that corridor’s proportion of total transit need rather than on putting a shiny new streetcar downtown, and connecting the two streetcar lines would have some benefit but not a lot.

        There’s clearly a market for transit on 1st, and maybe on just part of 1st between Stewart Street and Jackson Street. The hill between 1st and 3rd is very steep south of Union. Mobility-challenged people can’t walk several blocks to a bus stop. And Durkan has a beautiful vision of tourists at Pike Place Market taking the streetcar to MOHAI and Little Saigon. Those trips are certainly much less convenient on the existing transit network, and that probably deters some tourists from going there or spending their money, and locals would benefit from those corridors too. But that has to be weighed against all the other transit needs Seattle has. It’s hard to justify a parallel route on 1st when the eastern Central District has only half-hourly buses that take over half an hour to reach downtown, Lake City has only half-hourly evening/weekend service to Northgate, Broadview to downtown on the 5 takes an hour, Lake City still has no reasonable transit option to Ballard or Aurora, the 11 has no evening/Sunday frequency, and I could go on and on. 1st Avenue seems low priority compared to all those.

      3. I recall the City Center Connector study concluding that in order to provide the *equivalent* light-rail-on-wheels level of service and right of way for buses along 1st Ave., it would cost similar to building the streetcar.

        OK, but so what? Even if we decided that center running transit on First was worth it (and it isn’t) why run a streetcar, instead of a bus. The big selling point for streetcar proponents is that it could connect to the existing streetcars. That’s nice, but a busway could connect to existing buses. We have two tiny streetcar lines. We have dozens of bus lines that go through downtown, and could be detoured to First. The route connecting the streetcar involves the First Hill section, which is clearly flawed. It also leads to a short, looping route in which many trips just wouldn’t make sense. In contrast, it wouldn’t be hard to send a bus down First and have every trip combination be plausible. Yes, running in the center requires special vehicles — so does running a streetcar.

        I’m not convinced we should do anything on First, but if we do, the best value would be to run BAT lanes along the street, both directions. Yes, this means that cars could delay the bus, but it is nothing like what happens to the streetcar right now on First Hill, a situation that will make the promised headways downtown impossible. The current plan is to have the two lines overlap, to provide a combined 5 minute frequency on First. But if the First Hill streetcar is 5 minutes late, it will pull out right behind the train headed to South Lake Union. Streetcar bunching will be common, and unless you are taking a trip entirely on First, it will make sense to walk a block or two, and avoid all the waiting.

        The streetcar plans are silly, and have always been silly. But people do silly things when they don’t understand transit, and this is just one example.

      4. @Rossb,

        “ OK, but so what?”

        Huh? “ OK, but so what?”. What are you trying to say? That ridership doesn’t matter? That economics doesn’t matter? That facts don’t matter?

        Let’s be honest here. The CCC has been studied to death. The original study said connecting the existing two lines with a streetcar made economic and transit sense. So the CCC was born.

        Then Durkan wanted to kill it so she had SDOT study it again. The result? SDOT concluded that the CCC made transit and economic sense, so build it!

        But Durkan didn’t like that answer, so she hired an outside firm to study it yet again. The result? SDOT had erred. The CCC made even more transit and economic sense than even SDOT estimated, so build it!

        But hey, maybe you slept in a Holiday Inn Express last night. So maybe you know way better than all the experts over all the years. But I really don’t think encouraging a streetcar-bus-streetcar double transfer makes good transit or economic sense, nor does proposing a bus-bus-bus double transfer. This is why we have transit experts that understand…..you know…..transit.

        Good gawd, with the CCC the completed streetcar line is projected to have more ridership that the two highest RapidRide lines COMBINED! That is a big fricking deal. And that is not something you can mimic with a bus bridge.

        Na, building the CCC makes total sense. The completed streetcar line would offer better ride quality, better all-weather capability, better economics, and substantially higher ridership than the bus bridge alternative. All those indicators say “build it!”

        Unless, of course, you stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night. If so, then more power to you. But I did not.

      5. “ OK, but so what?”

        Huh? “ OK, but so what?”. What are you trying to say?

        Uh, everything that followed. That is how paragraphs work. You lay out a topic sentence, and then back it up with the rest of the sentences. You must of slept through school.

        You seem to have trouble with even the most basic arguments. You add next to nothing on this blog, as everything you write is simply a rehash of something else someone said — the type of thing that someone else would write given enough time. Your arguments are nonsensical, and based on nothing more than “someone said this”. Your rebuttals fail to even acknowledge the other argument. Writers are forced to explain even the simplest of arguments, as if you can’t understand English. But that isn’t fair to foreign language speakers, as I’m sure it would be easier to explain these concepts.

        Sigh, OK, let me try again. Please, for the love of God, pay attention this time, OK?

        Brandon made the claim that a busway would cost the same as a streetcar railway on First Avenue. This is a solid argument by the way — one I did not refute. I made the point that in the grand scheme of things, this is irrelevant. It is irrelevant because the streetcar would not be as good as a bus, for the reasons I mentioned (which I will now repeat, because you weren’t paying attention).

        A bus would provide a better route while being faster and more reliable. It could be more or less frequent. In short, it would offer much greater flexibility in terms of routing, scheduling, and speed. All, for no extra cost, and no cost to riders. This, of course, means a lot more riders per dollar spent.

        Care to refute the argument, or are you going to continue to ignore it, and then claim that it doesn’t exist?

    2. Yes. Bus is better unless there is a need for capacity, or if there is an existing rail alignment that can be leveraged (aka tram-train)

    3. There is irrational enthusiasm for just about every mode. Streetcars have hit that sweet spot in the eye of politicians. Unlike gondolas, they are relatively common, which makes proposing them in inappropriate situations sound reasonable. They aren’t expensive, like subway lines. There is also a certain romance to them, as they hearken back to a day that never really existed, but sounds appealing. Few actually understand when they are appropriate, as AJ summarized nicely (and Jarrett Walker explained in the middle of this post: https://humantransit.org/2009/07/streetcars-an-inconvenient-truth.html). So instead we have attitudes expresses quite well in this essay written several years ago: https://seattletransitblog.com/2014/07/29/streetcars-a-momentary-lapse-of-reason/

  6. How likely is it that the massive detour on the Everett Link extension to serve Paine Field can get dramatically altered? It would add quite a bit of time and distance to the trip to the actually densifying area of downtown Everett while probably serving very few riders in perpetuity. Ideally it would be cut entirely and have a fast and frequent bus from the nearest remaining station, but even a spur shuttle line would be better. It’s also weird to me that the plan then has an almost five-mile gap between the 526/Evergreen station and Everett Station – adding another station in there would add minimal time to the overall route compared to the Paine Field detour and would be good for connectivity in the long term.

    1. Given that it’s 20 years out Paine Field may become popular as the regions 2nd major airport. PSRC is predicting a growth in population of 1.8M by 2050. That’s the equivalent of two Bellevues every two years and SEA is maxed out. Industrial uses are getting squeezed out of Seattle and the Eastside and Everett is banking on a lot of those jobs coming to Paine Field. If they haven’t pick a location for the OMF it would be a great location for that.

    2. A few early observations on Everett Link:

      1. The silly thing I see about the Seaway Transit Center detour is that it’s not projected to have a large number of riders. (https://seattletransitblog.com/2020/01/27/sound-transits-station-ridership-in-2040/)

      2. I’m expecting to see some blowback about running the line on 128th St SW. It seems very tight and likely that many homes will need to be removed or mitigated.

      3. It’s unfortunate that the 99/ Airport Road station is optional. It’s where the Swift Lines cross! It would have seemed to be more logical to defer another station instead. Of course, this simply illustrates the problem of political choices in locating rail stations rather than choices based on cost effectiveness.

      4. No station is close to the Paine Field terminal. You’ll only be able to see the terminal 1/3 of a mile away as you look out the train window as now planned.

      5. The only station planned in the SW Everett employment district is Seaway Transit Crnter. If you work beyond walking distance of this stop, you’ll be transferring to a bus anyway.

      I’m hoping that ST selects some committee members who have lived in places where daily Subway or rail riding was part of their life. A rider expérience perspective should predominate this and all other ST planning efforts.

      1. Sound Transit needs to seriously consider building elevated lines and stations right above the wide roadways, instead of taking up almost as much space as they would with surface running rail alongside the road, and having to tear down homes and businesses in the process. One thing if it’s within the I-5 buffer zone, but quite another to build elevated alongside the road in places like west Seattle and 128th ST SW/Airport Way east of Highway 99.

        BTW, I could imagine the unfunded station at Highway 99 and Airport Way being used much more than Boeing/Seaway TC. It should really go straight up 99/Evergreen Way at that point, instead of out to Boeing and back all the way across to I-5, but of course that ship has probably sailed.

      2. I’d imagine a large terminal will be built at some point, if Paine is going to grow as an airport, and at that point the county and ST can coordinate for a better terminal-rail interface.

      3. As to your bullet #5- the Seaway Transit Center is also a stop for Boeing shuttles, that take workers to the rest of the Everett site. That’s the same if a person took Metro or such to Boeing Everett, they’d have to get off at Seaway and take a shuttle to somewhere closer.

    3. Snohomish County and Everett are adamant that the Paine Field detour is necessary to attract more companies and jobs to the industrial center. They see that as a critical part of the county’s economic growth. Snohomish County has a huge commute imbalance: some 70% of Snohomish residents work in King County. They’re hoping that more jobs in Snohomish County would enable more of them to work in the same county they live in.

      Also, it was reported that about a decade ago, a large German company (maybe Siements) was considering a factory at Paine Field. They asked Snohomish officials what kind of high-capacity transit would be available to workers. The officials said, “We have abundant free parking instead.” The company was flabbergasted, because that wouldn’t be allowed in Germany: every industrial center must have a high-capacity transit plan or it wouldn’t be approved. Sometimes it can use an existing S-Bahn station, other times it can add an S-Bahn extension or U-Bahn line or something, but it can’t just force most workers to drive or provide inadequate bus capacity or speed. So the company rejected the site. That sent Snohomish/Everett politicians scrambling to get Link to Paine Field. Even if it alone won’t be very effective, because the job sites and roads sprawl even more than necessary, so practically nobody can walk to work from the station.

      Another motivation for the detour — believe it or not — is for drivers from Marysville/Arlington/Skagit County to park at Everett Station and take Link to Paine Field. That would supposedly mitigate congestion on the Casino freeway/road. Fat chance. People will take transit in high-density areas with high parking fees, but not in areas with wide open streets like 99 and Casino Road in south Everett, and not for a 3-seat ride from car to Link to shuttle, and especially not for the short distance between Everett Station and Paine Field station on top of those.

      Snohomish/Everett may change their minds in the future, but they have strongly rebuffed such suggestions in the past, so there’s no sign that they might be willing to in the future. If the economics in the industrial area change, that might incentivize the governments to change their tune, but there’s no definitive sign of that either. Boeing might downsize or eliminate its presence, other companies might or might not fill the vacated space, and additional demand beyond the current users might or might not strongly emerge. Who knows.

      As to Paine Field passenger planes, maybe they’ll grow and maybe they won’t. Didn’t some airlines recently reduce or eliminate their Paine Field flights in favor of SeaTac? Last-mile access to the terminal is another issue, as well as access for locals who don’t live along Link’s way. Other countries would prioritize convenient transit access to a new airline terminal for both local residents and longer-distance Link riders, but Snohomish as usual has not prioritized that, instead assuming most people will drive or take taxis/shuttles.

    4. “I’m hoping that ST selects some committee members who have lived in places where daily Subway or rail riding was part of their life.”

      If only ST prioritized that. If only it had a riders’ review board or rider advocate staff position. It doesn’t have anything like that ongoing. For Link expansion projects it has a stakeholders’ board, electeds’ board, and technical review board. Stakeholders are defined as local government officials, large employers, and large institutions. Riders and transit-advocacy groups like STB are lumped together into one stakeholder, so our influence is muted, and ST doesn’t get adequate feedback on riders’ experience. Even though the whole point of Link is for people to ride it and have a good experience on it.

    5. How likely is it that the massive detour on the Everett Link extension to serve Paine Field can get dramatically altered?

      I don’t think it is likely. It doesn’t make much sense. Just to be clear, every Everett extension doesn’t make sense. Along the freeway, going by Paine Field — it is all a huge waste of money for a city that could use better transit. Everett is too far away, and lacks the density and overall size for such an expensive project.

      But Paine Field is really the only shot. We know, based on past history, that a subway line along the freeway is bound to fail. But maybe, just maybe, the area around Paine Field becomes big. It is highly unlikely, but you never know. A line that at least includes neighborhoods away from the freeway stands a chance, however slim.

      1. In particular, the Paine routing may allow for the 99/Evergreen corridor to grow into a dense, transit rich corridor from Lynnwood all the way to Everett. Everyone who has agitated for Link to follow 99 rather than I5 should be supporting the Paine ‘detour.’

      2. There’s only car dealerships there now, and Everett has not lifted one finger to change that. Early on in Link planning I think Everett said 99/Evergreen are perfect as is. Everett’s density planning is downtown and around Everett Station and around the college up north. A future council may change its mind, but we can’t count on that.

        And one thing about living near an airport and airplane factory, it’s loud. Existing people may continue to live there, but new people might thing twice about moving en masse near the Everett Industrial Center.

      3. “only car dealerships there now” is a textbook description for a neighborhood that can grow dramatically in 30 years. Everett Link is about growth 2030-2050.

        Most of the growth along 99 will occur outside of Everett city limits, in the growth areas managed by the county. Yes, downtown Everett is where the city of Everett is channeling growth, but Everett Link’s alignment isn’t about serving downtown Everett, it’s about serving the corridors along the way, just like Eastgate and Factoria are the important parts of ‘Issaquah Link’ and LQA and SLU are the more important parts of ‘Ballard Link.’ Yes, downtown Everett will be a high quality terminus, but I don’t see that specific neighborhood being much impacted by the decision to go through Paine field or not.

        Frankly, I see Everett Link getting to at least Mariner and however further it needs to get to open OMF-N on time (2037, currently), but Link won’t get to Everett downtown until well after 2040, perhaps closer to 2050, depending on how much WSBLE ends up costing to complete.

        Prices may be lower near the airport, all else equal, but as long as the zoning and transit infrastructure are there, the population growth will follow. Paine Field won’t be much different than San Diego’s or San Jose’s airports in terms of size, noise, and proximity to urban centers.

      4. “see Everett Link getting to at least Mariner”

        That’s the first phase. One of the articles said the first phase would go further to Paine Field, but that’s not what ST said in the realignment.

    6. In the short term (just now until the 1 Line extends to Lynnwood City Center in 2024), I’m puzzled why there isn’t some two-way service on ST Express 513, which seems to treat Seaway as just another Park&Ride to get to the 1 Line. Why not convert deadhead trips into revenue trips from the 1 Line to Seaway in the morning, and from Seaway to the 1 Line in the evening? If it needs an injection of platform hours, find them by truncating ST Express 510 at Northgate, which will solve some other new and bizarre Everett commute issues.

      In the long term, that plan to turn back the 2 Line at Mariner is … something. So, Paine Field will be important enough to significantly impact Everett commutes, but not important enough to have the 2 Line reach it?

      I’m not a fan of building another international airport for other reasons, including climate realism.

      1. I agree about the 513. I could also see it skipping Eastmont and Ash Way in reverse-peak direction, simply because those stops are more time consuming to serve. That would make it basically the same as a deadhead, but with Lynnwood and Ash Way added on. Both of those are very quick to serve, which means you are talking about a tiny amount of extra service (assuming these buses deadhead back).

      2. RE: Turn back at line 2, I think it makes good sense. Ross made a great point elsewhere (perhaps in another post?), basically summed up as, “run trains along the freeway if you need the capacity, otherwise run buses.” So, if ST thinks it needs to run 3 minute frequency at peak, then it’s still reasonable to run the train along the freeway; if Mariner is the cut-off for needing Link’s capacity, then that’s exactly the point at which to run the train somewhere else, i.e along Airport Way.

        Or, just end the train at Mariner, which is probably what will actually happen in 2037, at least for a few years.

        RE: international airports, I don’t think Paine is intended to be a secondary international gateway. It’s intended to handle domestic volume, like a SJC, Love, Hobby, or Midway. I think it’s plausible that by 2040, domestic flights are decarbonized, either through electrification, switching jet fuel to green hydrogen or something else sustainable, or another emergent technology.

    7. RE: Paine Field alignment being bad for trips between Everett Downtown and Seattle.

      Once Link gets to at least Ash Way, I wonder if ST should reroute S2 to run from Everett to Bellevue, rather than Lynnwood to Bellevue? Riders from Everett can transfer to Link at the Ash Way freeway stop, and S2 would then displace the various STX and CT express routes that serve east King. There could even be an infill Stride station at Everett Mall, the one notable destination skipped by not running Everett Link solely on I5. Canyon Park perhaps loses out, but they are still one stop from Link (Ash Way rather than Lynnwood). Is it important that S2 connect to the Lynnwood TC for the various bus transfer options, or just that is has a strong transfer to the Spine somewhere?

      Even if S2 doesn’t change, there could still be a frequent bus (Stride or otherwise) from Everett to Bellevue, giving Everett the same direct connection to Link (at Ash Way) it would have no matter the final Paine Field alignment.

      1. So basically just get rid of the 535, and run the 532 all the time. Maybe, but I see some issues with that. First of all, there are problems serving Ash Way, from both directions. From the north, there is no HOV access. WSDOT could build it (it would be fairly cheap — it looks like it was designed for that) but I don’t know of any plans. This means that an express bus from Everett to Link is much better off just going to Lynnwood (which, after all, is a much bigger destination).

        Second, a bus leaving Ash Way can’t use the HOV lanes if it is headed towards 405. I think the same is true for the bus leaving Lynnwood (which is why it serves Alderwood Mall). But I think traffic is less of a problem, as the reverse commute (on I-5) isn’t that bad. This means that someone from Lynnwood trying to get to Bellevue would lose quite a bit of time taking the train north, then slogging their way south.

        My guess is they will just continue with the current setup (with the addition of expresses from Everett to Lynnwood). That means that during rush hour, riders from Everett get an express to Bellevue (with stops at Ash Way, etc.). During the rest of the day, those riders have to transfer at Lynnwood. Riders “downstream” (e. g. Canyon Park) get the benefit of both buses (in effect they form a spine). Canyon Park, by the way, is the most popular stop on the 532/535 combination (outside downtown Bellevue). UW Bothell gets a lot of riders as well, with just a bit more than Lynnwood (and a lot more than Everett). But the 532/535 combination is unusual. The 532 runs frequently during rush hour, but only during rush hour. The 535 runs all day, but never more than every half hour. It is an interesting design (rather clever in my opinion) but I wouldn’t make too many judgements in terms of ridership per station (other than the obvious one, which is that the shorter the trip, the more likely people will take it).

      2. I wouldn’t get rid of the 535; it would just have less frequency than the 532, and perhaps could be truncated at UW Bothell. But essentially yes, I’m wondering if the 532 becomes the far more important route once Link gets north of Lynnwood.

        I think north of Canyon Park Stride cannot leverage the HOT lanes either way, so perhaps it comes down to which route is more reliable at peak? If there could be a project to allow for I5HOV to 405, that would be ideal. (If a bus cannot take the Lynnwood HOV ramp to 405, then what is the Stride route going to be?)

        Or at Tom points out, both could be frequent, to create a high frequency overlay.

  7. Why are the 40 and D disproportionately popular? Intuitively I’d think the 7 and E would be the highest-ridership routes, because the 7 serves the densest lower-income area with a lot of intra-valley trips, and the E is so long and serves a lot of shopping destinations and is the most frequent route in north-central Seattle. But I sometimes read that the 40 and D are at the top. How can this be?

    1. 2020 System Evaluation here: https://kingcounty.gov/~/media/depts/metro/accountability/reports/2020/system-evaluation-attachment-a

      Indicates that in 2018 and 2019, the 40 and 7, and RapidRide C, D, and E were the only routes with over 10,000 riders/weekday. The E is the most popular, followed by the D.

      When I used to ride the D (I now ride my e-bike primarily), the bus would fill up on its way through Ballard and have a lot of transfers on Queen Anne Ave N, and slowly empty as it went down 3rd Ave. The 40 connects Ballard and Fremont to SLU and Downtown, and always seems busy with riders on its meandering route. I think since neither of these routes are competing with I-5 as a transportation corridor, they’re a legitimately attractive alternative to driving between neighborhoods. Basically, I think the 40 and the D pick up a lot of “choice” riders, versus what the 20th century transit dogma of transit being for “lower-income” groups.

    2. In terms of overall ridership, the E is the top. When you start measuring ridership per mile, it gets tricky.

      By my calculations, the 3/4 has the highest ridership per mile. It isn’t hard to see why. It is very urban, and there is very good frequency on it. It is also just one route. Or rather, I’m calling it one route. The 11 and 12 serve Madison, the 10, 11 and 49 serve Pike/Pine, the 1, 2, 13 and D can get you from downtown to Uptown. You get the idea. It is why all of these measurements need to be taken with a grain of salt. The E benefits from being frequent, very fast, very long and the only route along the corridor. If there were a half dozen routes, all splitting off and heading east or west at various points, it wouldn’t look that impressive. Like the old 71/72/73/74, it wasn’t about a particular route, it was about the corridor.

      Anyway, let me address your question. The D, E, 7 and 40 are all in the same league. The 40 is hurt by its frequency relative to those other routes. But the 40 is also really long. Then you have a host of issues, such as speed and delays. The 7 and 40 are fairly slow. The E is blazing fast. The D is somewhere in between. I suppose if you are in Ballard heading downtown, the detour to Uptown feels slow, but for a lot of trips (along that corridor) it is blazing fast. If you want to get anywhere along 15th or Elliot to Uptown, that bus will get you there very quickly.

      Worth mentioning: Rainier Valley does not have super high density, even with the growth. It never has. The Central Area has always had more people. Even then, it is common to think of formerly redlined areas as having the most density, but that has never really been the case in Seattle (unlike a lot of big cities).

      For what it is worth, here is my very rough calculation for ridership per mile of several of our routes. The first number is the route, followed by the total ridership, followed by ridership per mile.

      3/4 — 11,100 6 miles 1850
      D — 14,300 8 miles 1787
      44 — 8,800 5 miles 1760
      70 — 8,300 5 miles 1660
      7 — 10,800 7 miles 1542
      E — 17,300 12 miles 1441
      8 — 8,600 6 miles 1433
      C — 11,100 9.2 miles 1207
      40 — 12,000 11 miles 1090

      To me, the big takeaway is that Seattle does not have any dominant corridors, other than the one that already has a light rail line (UW to downtown). Everything else is very similar. This means either it makes sense to spread out the investment as much as possible (e. g. MoveSeattle, but with better funding) or try and find light rail routes that would have the best network effect or try and address the slowest trips.

      1. “the 3/4 has the highest ridership per mile. It isn’t hard to see why. It is very urban, and there is very good frequency on it.”

        And, oh yes, the county hospital is on it.

        “It is also just one route”

        That’s one thing to watch in these comparisons: what we need to know is ridership per corridor, and that can be split if two routes overlap or one is nearby. So the first thing I look at in these comparisons is whether they’re missing any route. The E and D are the only routes on their street, and the 5 and E are only alternatives if you live between them. In the past when the 43 was all day, there were two ways to get from Campus Parkway & 15th to Broadway & John, but only one way if you’re going partway to 10th Ave E or to 15th/19th & Thomas. So you’d get different answers if you counted “the U-District to the center of Broadway or downtown” vs “the U-District to a unique 43 or 49 stop”.

      2. Yeah, what makes the route comparison so difficult is that it isn’t apples to apples. Most of our routes overlap other routes. In many cases, the big difference is frequency. For example, the C and the 40 both carry riders along a very popular corridor, from South Lake Union to the south end of downtown. No one cares which bus they take — either one will do. But the C runs more often, so it will have higher ridership. There are very few routes that are completely by themselves the whole way. Even when buses aren’t overlapping, they may be going to a similar place. If you are trying to get from Lake City to the UW, you can take the 65 or 75 from the same bus stop. At another bus stop you can take the 372 or take the 522 and transfer. That’s why it gets complicated, and you have to dig into the stop data to come up with a meaningful analysis.

  8. While I’m certainly in favor of single occupant cars staying out of the HOV lane, calling people “heroes” for ratting them out anonymously always seemed a little much to me.

    1. I never bothered with the HERO line once I found out that WSDOT wouldn’t actually do anything to cite or send out a warning to the offender, even if you had dash cam footage.

    2. I agree. I know it is was just a handy mnemonic, but still, I would prefer something with “cheat” in it. Like 206-CHEATER. That makes it clear what is going on.

  9. The 405 express lanes are now in this weird state where they’re open to single occupancy drivers for free on weekends, but the ramps to/from Totem Lake still say HOV only. What’s the point in restricting the ramps if the lanes themselves are unrestricted?

    1. The NE 128th Street HOV ramps were built with some ST money (from Sound Move) and under the terms of the agreement(s) between ST and WSDOT they are restricted to transit and HOV use only. ST and the FTA had to approve a change prior to the toll lanes opening to allow “incidental use” of toll-paying vehicles, and ensure this use would not affect transit and HOV operations. The NE 6th ramps in downtown Bellevue are the same.

      I’m guessing, without seeing the agreements themselves, that the agreements only allow non-HOVs that are paying a toll to use them, so if there is no toll then non-HOVs can’t use the ramps. Which sounds kind of ridiculous, but when the alternative is paying millions of dollars back to the FTA then this is what we get.

      1. The NE 6th ramps are not limited to HOV if you are turning northbound; they are now full HOT ramps. Turning southbound they are HOV only, but that will change once the Bellevue to Renton HOT project is complete.

      2. If I’m reading the signs correctly, they’re HOT on weekdays, but HOV on weekend. So, on weekdays, SOV’s can pay a toll to drive in the 405 express lanes or use the express ramps. On weekends, SOV’s can drive in the 405 express lanes for free (entering and existing via the lane markings on the freeway), but can can’t use the express ramps at all.

        So, while the policy on the express lanes becomes more lenient on weekends (no restrictions), the policy on the express lane ramps becomes stricter (SOV’s cannot use them at all, even by paying a toll).

        It’s possible that I’m misinterpreting things, but the weekend rules do appear to be fundamentally inconsistent.

        (Note: I personally think weekends should use the same express/toll policy as weekdays, just with a lower toll when there’s no congestion. This will become important to keep the STRIDE buses moving on a reliable schedule. But, if the lanes are free, the ramps should be too. It doesn’t make sense to have them inconsistent with each other).

  10. Whatever transit problems we have in the Puget Sound area are dwarfed by DC’s:

    https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2021-10-22/limited-service-on-dc-metro-to-extend-through-november
    https://www.wmata.com/service/status/details/Metrorail-Service-and-Derailment-Investigation-Update.cfm

    WMATA has had to pull 60% of their subway fleet from service for inspections, which has increased headways to as much as 40 minutes. I’m not sure how much of WMATA’s acute troubles are from lack of maintenance, but it still makes me thankful that Sound Transit builds maintenance costs into project funding.

    1. Yeah, pretty much all the problems are due to lack of maintenance. It is just the latest example of how we do things poorly in this country. Perhaps, because it is the nation’s capital, it is the best example. Even when we build good things — really good things, actually — we fail to pay to maintain them.

      1. To further Ross’s post, maintenance is what gets eliminated when operation budgets and assumptions are lowballed. A system starts out new, but then ages, but the cost for new equipment is the last funding priority because all the farebox recovery and operations revenue is needed to run the system, and frequency, pensions and so on. I think most rail systems just figure they will get to a point when essentially another capital levy is required, or some kind of funding source.

        Look at NY. I think their “maintenance” shortfall is something like $5 — $6 billion in the short term, which NY hopes the feds cover
        .https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/25/nyregion/mta-budget.html

        Or $16 billion. . https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/21/nyregion/mta-subway-financial-cuts.html#:~:text=N.Y.%20Subway%2C%20Facing%20a%20%2416%20Billion%20Deficit%2C%20Plans,acknowledge%20that%20riders%20may%20face%20a%20diminished%20system.

        ST’s operations assumptions and farebox recovery, like their capital assumptions, are lowballed. But the system is fairly new, so ST will apply all of its operations revenue towards running the trains, not ever replacing them or the tracks. Pretty much what Metro did with DSTT1.

        It won’t really be a problem for another 20 or so years if ridership returns post pandemic, since the system is new. A private company couldn’t get away with the assumptions ST makes, but ST is a public agency, and most of us will be dead when the system needs replacing and ST reserved nothing for that.

  11. I’m becoming less and less of a proponent of streetcar service. If a corridor has outgrown bus capacity, then why not just go with full light rail/heavy rail service that can be grade-separated? Plus, in the case of Fremont, the 40 runs every 7-9 during peak and 15 min off peak. And it has four major transfer points (north section). I don’t see a streetcar line replacing high frequency and widespread connections the 40 has today.

    I can see a light rail line (tunneled) through Fremont > Phinney Ridge and then continuing along Greenwood or Aurora. Of course, that’s pie-in-the-sky thinking.

    1. Or perhaps as a middle step, as it might seem a dramatic leap from bus to light rail, change the law so that streetcars could be coupled together. Of course, this might mean having to extend stops to accommodate two-car train sets.

      1. I would be content with any transit just getting its own ROW. Without that, it doesn’t matter if it’s BRT or streetcar or light rail, it’s just not going to be high-quality. Maybe that has to be tunneled or elevated in some places, but the 40 seems like a great candidate for BRT (it was in the running for the RR-D route, IIRC) given that Westlake, Leary, 24th, Holman, and Northgate all are very wide.

      2. What law? It’s just a semantic definition that light rail is mostly exclusive-lane or grade-separated and has larger cars, and streetcars can be mostly mixed traffic and smaller cars. If you’re thinking about coupling Seattle streetcars, first think about ordering larger cars like half a Link car, then think about ordering articulated cars like a full Link car. Then think about a doubly-articulated car at triple length. Only after that do you need to think about coupling separate cars.

      3. Up until around 2000, when someone decided to make “modern streetcar” a marketing program, light rail was considered the modern streetcar.

        The thing being marketed as a “modern streetcar” and used in South Lake Union is a narrow design used in several Eastern European cities, but it’s small size has very limited appeal. The Siemens S70 is a wider design used more commonly.

        Several car designs from several manufacturers can be built to either width. There is no distinction.

        If you look closely, you will see that the old streetcar right of way to Fremont is mostly intact along Westlake by Lake Union. It’s a bunch of oddly shaped narrow parking strips, but it’s still there mostly.

        Why?
        Because even in 1910, “streetcars” were built to light rail standards and given separate right of way when practical.

        I don’t see anything that would prevent Link trains from running in mixed traffic, other than you wouldn’t want to do that except if absolutely necessary because of the reliability problems. Autos were eliminated from the one section of MAX that was mixed traffic for this very reason.

        In any event, worldwide, pretty much everyone agreed with you, and has since 1910 or so: streetcars should be separated from traffic as much as possible, and be made fast and relatable. Thus, they really should be light rail.

      4. Start with the law that limits the length of a vehicle that operates on public highways (RCW 46.44.030) and Seattle City Code 11.60.130.

      5. “Because even in 1910, “streetcars” were built to light rail standards and given separate right of way when practical.” No, generally streetcars ran in mixed traffic, which is most cities gave up on streetcars and switched to rubber tire technology in the 30s and 40s, because it you are going to run in mixed traffic, you are better off with rubber tries to allow for navigating obstacles.

        Interurbans, which ran at higher speeds, generally had dedicated ROW, but the streetcars that created the ‘streetcars suburbs’ often ran in mixed traffic.

      6. Maybe that has to be tunneled or elevated in some places, but the 40 seems like a great candidate for BRT (it was in the running for the RR-D route, IIRC) given that Westlake, Leary, 24th, Holman, and Northgate all are very wide.

        The 40 corridor to Ballard was in the running for light rail. I remember talking to a representative about it during one of the open houses. I asked him to pick his favorite, and after some reluctance, he picked that one. It had the best return on investment. It didn’t get much enthusiasm, since it wouldn’t be that fast.

        Anyway, yeah, the 40 is definitely a BRT candidate. I think with the current plans, it would come close. You wouldn’t get a new bridge, but the buses would cut right to the front. Other big delays would be eliminated. Of the various bus plans I’ve seen, it seems like the best. (In comparison, the 44 is just weak tea — it doesn’t go nearly far enough.) All you would need to add is off-board payment, and maybe a little signal priority and it would be quite fast (this would happen as it becomes RapidRide).

        Changing it to RapidRide would allow Metro to swap the northern tails. The D should take over the northern tail of the 40, looping around 105th, from Northgate Way to Northgate. The 40 meanwhile, should continue to turn on 85th, then just keep going on 85th until Wallingford Avenue, where it would head north, and over 92nd to Northgate. I would extend the 40 to Lake City if possible. This would replace the 20.

        I would also add bus lanes on 85th (which are long overdue). This would push traffic to 80th, where there are no buses. That’s fine by me.

    2. If a corridor has outgrown bus capacity, then why not just go with full light rail/heavy rail service that can be grade-separated?

      Yeah, that’s why streetcars are generally a niche market. There are exceptions though. For example, you simply don’t have the money for grade separation, but have the money for a streetcar. Another is if you already have a good subway, but still have enough demand on the surface to make it work (Paris does this). None of that is true for Seattle. Our really big corridors have light rail, or they have a spine (or both).

    3. If Phinney/Greenwood were hopscotch zoned high-rise from 50th to 80th with a couple of stops provided, there would behundreds — really, a few thousand — view properties produced. Ideally this would happen on all the ridges.

  12. Re the “Amazon workers getting to work five minutes faster” whine from the concrete interests. They sit on some very fine waterfront property, and their workforce is largely sour, catcalling Trumpies in the truck-nuts caucus.

    Boo-hoo! Let ’em move to Paine Field. The amount of concrete they make isn’t enough to care about.

  13. Just found out that all agencies are running Sunday service on Friday for Christmas Eve and NYE, then Saturday service on the actual holiday. This kinda of inept decision-making is yet another CLEAR sign of the massive gap between planning teams and their customer base.

  14. I’m not sure if was the 347 or 348 I rode yesterday to Northgate, around noon. But the striking thing is that other than everyone wearing masks, ridership seemed rather … normal. These buses never carried huge numbers of people, especially in the middle of the day. But there was about 20 people on the bus, which is quite good. It wasn’t all Link riders either, as people were getting on and off along the way. Some of this is no doubt due to the fact that Link connects them to more places than the 41 (which just went downtown) but still, this is impressive, and suggests that ridership is continuing to rebound.

    1. I agree. Even the 550 seems to be recovering. I rode it on a Saturday night a couple weeks back, and about half the seats were full. Almost like it was before COVID given the day of week and time of day. Contrary to what DT says, there do exist people who live on the Eastside and ride transit.

    2. I saw the same on the 550 last Saturday. Eastbound in the afternoon there were only a handful of people as usual. Westbound around 6:30pm there were a half dozen people at the 4th & Bellevue Way stop alone.

  15. It is really refreshing to see more and more support for streetcars in the local community, and even more refreshing to see the Urbanist (which I don’t always agree with) weigh in so heavily in favor of streetcars.

    But I would suggest that talking about extensions to Interbay and Magnolia at this point in time might be a bit of a bridge-to-far. I would suggest instead a simple, four phase plan:

    Phase I: Build the CCC, and future proof it.

    Phase II: Study, then select and build simple extensions to the completed line. These could be extensions up Broadway and/or up Eastlake.

    Phase III: Service improvements to the above. These would include removing the button hook on the existing FHSC line, frequency improvements, etc,

    Phase IV: Study, and potentially build a second line. The obvious candidate is a Belltown line that terminates at LQA near Climate Pledge on one end, interlines in downtown and the ID, then continues East. This is essentially what the Urbanist recommended in their original article.

    Will this happen? I don’t know. I think it makes transit and economic sense to take such a phased approach, but the Bus Transit Industrial Complex (BTIC) has been waging an all out war to kill the SC.

    Why? Because they can read the tea leaves as well as anyone, it is fairly clear by now that the more rail people get the more rail people want.

    Why? Ride quality, capacity, speed economics, environmental considerations, reliability, etc. A diesel bus just doesn’t compete, and the BTIC knows this.

    Additionally, the current two SC lines are a bit out of the public awareness, and the economics are not yet obvious. But a connected line that runs through the heart of downtown would be hard to ignore. And a SC line with more ridership than the top two performing RapidRide line COMBINED would be hard to claim as a failure.

    Plus, the CCC would pass right in front of the Pike Pl Market. Tourism pictures of the market entrance with the iconic sign would quickly be replaced with similar pictures including the streetcar. Seattle would quickly become associated with SC in a way that it has never been associated with buses.

    I think the BTIC knows all this, and they know what it means. Hence the all out effort to kill SC despite all the data indicating it makes perfect sense.

    So just build the CCC. Then we can see how much further and faster to go with streetcars.

    1. What Seattle needs is greater transit mobility citywide. Connecting the streetcars is a very small benefit, for people who already have the best transit mobility options in the city by far. Nowhere else in the city are north-south buses available every couple minutes and with off-board payment, and a parallel Link line directly underneath, soon to be two lines running every 3-5 minutes combined. Average Seattlites won’t see the streetcar any more than they do now because the heart of the city where the most people go through are between 2nd and 5th Avenues.

      RapidRide G (Madison) will change the mobility dynamic downtown. Some of the people who might take the streetcar from 1st Avenue to First Hill will take the G instead, and will get there in five minutes. The streetcar in five minutes will still be in Pioneer Square.

      Any streetcar extensions beyond the CCC must have substantial transit-priority lanes to make travel time better than existing buses. Otherwise we’re not improving the transit network, just painting the bikeshed a different color.

      The 70 is being upgraded to RapidRide J. The city or TBD is kicking in the final piece of the funding to get it built. That will give some level of improvement on Eastlake, probably as much as we’d get from a streetcar. A streetcar project would run into the same problems the RapidRide project did: bike enthusiasts insisting on a cycletrack that doesn’t leave enough space for transit-priority lanes. With RapidRide construction going through in a few years, there won’t be any appetite to upgrade it again for a decade or more. And in a decade we may still be frustrated with ST3’s funding gap and getting overall bus service to 2019’s level or above, so we might be in the same place we are now, and there won’t be much interest in an Eastlake streetcar on top of all those.

      The Bus Transit Industrial Complex is a myth. Metro operates Link and streetcars, and I’m sure it and its union staff would be willing to operate more. I notice that they were willing to operate Link and the two streetcars, and they didn’t try to block them from being built. It’s not the bus contractors or unions who are driving political decisions and hindering rail. That may be a problem in some other cities but not here. Instead there’s a general American problem with bus bias, which is a far larger issue than Metro or its union, and not something we’re going to solve now. There just isn’t an appetite for an S-Bahn and streetcar-based network like Cologne here now, even if we both wish there were.

      The 14th Avenue button hook is because 12th Avenue is too steep for a streetcar to go up. You can’t just wave that away.

      The city tried to restart the Roy Street extension option this year but the Broadway businesses resisted. They didn’t want to pay local-improvement district taxes for it, didn’t want the street torn up again so soon after the first streetcar and Link disruption, and didn’t think it would bring more customers. Who would those customers be? The only places where a streetcar ride to Roy Street makes sense are from the hospital district or Little Saigon. That’s not that many people who want to shop at upper Broadway. They already have the 60, and post RapidRide G the 49 is expected to be merged with it, serving for one thing 12th & Jackson to Roy Street more frequently and directly.

      1. “The 14th Avenue button hook is because 12th Avenue is too steep for a streetcar to go up. You can’t just wave that away.”

        I don’t think that’s actually the case. 12th between Yesler and Jackson is a very gentle grade – about a 30 foot elevation change over ~860 horizontal feet, a grade of about 3.5%. 1st Ave. has a steeper grade than this between Spring and Union, so if a streetcar can’t handle 12th, it can’t handle 1st either, thereby making the CCC an impossible project.

        Rather, I think the 14th Ave. detour had nothing to do with steepness and everything to do with some public official deciding that the building next to the 14th/Washington streetcar stop deserved front-door streetcar service, regardless of the effect it has on other riders’ time. Pictures of the building seem to suggest it might be public housing. It is not hard to imagine advocates who are focused on housing, not good transit, pushing for this detour.

      2. @asdf2,

        You are correct. The grade on 12th is not too steep for streetcar, and in fact wouldn’t even be the steepest grade on the system.

        I suspect the reason they built the buttonhook route was because they took more of “social justice” approach to the route. They wanted it far enough west to serve some of Yesler Terrace, and they wanted it far enough East to serve the retirement facility (at least I think that is what is there).

        This is sort of what Metro does with a lot of their routing decisions. But with buses the cost to implement a route is low, and the ability to change the route later is high. And nobody expects the bus to be fast or reliable.

        None of that is true with streetcar. Cost to implement is high, ability to change the route later is low, and everyone expects better speed and reliability. So basically he bus approach to routing is the opposite of what you should do.

        Unfortunately SDOT didn’t understand this.

    2. the more rail people get the more rail people want.

      Right, so transit experts like Jarrett Walker are wrong. Streetcars Rule!

      Oh, and ignore the fact that the Seattle streetcars have repeatedly failed to meet their estimates — the next streetcar will be fantastic! It will be super-duper popular, unlike the other ones. Shop keepers on Broadway will suddenly see the light, and withdraw their long standing opposition to the streetcar extension, just because.

      What crap. The Seattle streetcar idea was a mistake. It is a sunk cost, and folks tried to shine up a turd, which is understandable. Yes, the connection would add value to an otherwise complete failure, but it doesn’t mean that it is a good idea. You could do the same thing with buses, at the same cost, and get more riders. Because at the end of the day, what matters is not whether it runs on tires or rails. What matters is speed, frequency and reliability (and not necessarily in that order). The Seattle streetcar is really bad at all of those, and there is no easy way to fix it.

      Oh, and just so you know, not all buses run on diesel. Seattle actually has many buses that run on electricity, and have for years. They are also adding more battery powered buses as well.

      1. I think you’re ignoring the egregious jaywalking at First and Pike when you say that “buses could do just as well”. Around the world people get out of the way of streetcars in crowded environments; they are less willing to do so for buses moving at low speed.

        That may not be a sufficient argument for two miles of track, but it is an observable behavior and the reason that First Avenue has no bus service today.

      2. Oh come on, now you are being silly. There is no reason why people would treat a streetcar — the same size with the same number of people on it — any different than a bus. Maybe with a big streetcar (what we call in these parts “light rail”). But even then, I’ve seen my share of people jaywalk in front of trains that are moving slowly (in San Fransisco, for example).

        I think it has more to do with the design of the street, and everything else. If a tall vehicle is running down the middle of the street, it gets noticed. The fact that it isn’t slowing down for other cars makes people think twice about jaywalking in front of it.

      3. Seattle Streetcar is hardly a turd. The ridership on the two route segments already exceeds the ridership on the lowest performing RapidRide route, and that is according to Metro’s own ridership data (pre CV-19).

        And that is before before the the CCC is built to rationalize the first line. The original CCC study by SDOT put completed line ridership at 20000 to 27000 weekday riders – well in excess of the highest performing RapidRide line.

        Additionally the Urbanist article puts 2035 streetcar completed line ridership numbers at 35,000.

        Those are fantastic numbers, and have been validated by multiple follow on studies.

      4. The ridership on the two route segments already exceeds the ridership on the lowest performing RapidRide route

        Why are you comparing transit routes to RapidRide, as if RapidRide is something special? Its not like we spent much money on RapidRide. Some paint on the buses, a little off-board payment here and there, and that’s it. Put it another way, you know what also exceeds the ridership on the lowest performing RapidRide route? Over a dozen regular buses.

        RapidRide is a politically oriented system, not unlike Link, where we pick out areas and give them extra service, even though we know that it will be a bad value. RapidRide F is similar to Issaquah light rail. The 2 has more riders than the F. The 7 has twice as many riders as the F (and will probably have more riders than Issaquah Link). But unlike Issaquah Link, RapidRide F costs next to nothing. The streetcar won’t be nearly as expensive as Issaquah Link, but it will still add very little value, and cost a bundle.

        The estimates you cite fail to mention that previous streetcar estimates were way off. The idea that people prefer streetcars over buses is clearly not the case in Seattle. Maybe it is because our buses are often electric. Maybe because the bus system is relatively effective. If Tacoma adds a trolley, it is the most frequent thing around. Our streetcars fail that test, miserably. They just aren’t that special, in any respect.

        But theories aside, what is clear is that the streetcars have failed to live up to their optimistic estimates in the past, and will again. Furthermore, there is no reason why a bus wouldn’t get similar ridership. If the ridership model is right, and transit along First Avenue generates a bunch of riders, then according to the same model a bus would too. Not only are you ignoring the fact that the estimates were wrong in the past, but you are ignoring the fact that they never compared streetcar service on First with bus service on First. A bus, running the exact same route, would — according to the model you place so much faith in — get the exact same number of riders.

        But of course, no bus would do that. Because the route is stupid. It loops around on itself. The fundamental problem with the CCC is not the mode, it is the route. It is bound to fail because various trips just won’t occur. It is, in the words of Jarrett Walker, “short, squiggly and looping” — the type of route that performs poorly.

        The mode adds nothing. The route is terrible. If it wasn’t so expensive, it would be just another silly Seattle project — kinda like the big rocks down on the waterfront (Adjacent, Against, Upon). Kinda cute, but not very useful.

      5. There may be “no [obvious] reason”, but they do. It’s probably because of those sharp flanges. Jes’ sayin’.

    3. Not all rail is equal. The most effective rail — the kind that gets people clamoring for more — is grade-separated or at least exclusive-lane so that it’s faster than previous bus alternatives, and more frequent. With Northgate Link my Roosevelt-Capitol Hill travel time dropped from 40 minutes to 10 minutes. and frequency increased from 15 minutes to 8-10 minutes. That’s what makes people stop and scream for Link to their cities. Link on MLK doesn’t get any speed awards but people in Rainier Valley where initially against it have mostly come around to finding it a benefit, and raving about how easy it is to get to the stadiums or downtown now. My friend in the valley, who was a Link skeptic, now takes visitors on it.

      What do hear about the First Hill and SLU streetcars? There slow, not very frequent, there’s not much point in riding it, but maybe I’ll ride it because it’s there, for variety, and I’m not in a hurry. They aren’t clamoring for extensions, and other neighborhoods aren’t begging for streetcars. Murray canceled the Westlake, Eastlake, and Rainier streetcar plans in favor of RapidRide, and the neighborhoods just shrugged. If they were European-level streetcars the neighborhoods might clamor for them, but they aren’t.

      1. I agree.

        When it comes to transit, it isn’t about going really fast, it is about avoiding going really slow. Rainier Valley is a great example. It isn’t super fast, but it is much faster than the 7. When the line is downtown, it is going much slower, but it is still much faster than any other option. The best part about Link is not the section where it goes really fast (Rainier Beach to Tukwila) but the fact that it avoids going really slow. Transit investment is about eliminating the weakest links, and our light rail line does that.

        The same is true with the streetcar. Much is made about the grade separation on First Avenue. This would be great. But the First Hill line would still be very slow. If you are taking the train on First Avenue heading south, this won’t matter. But going the other direction, it could mean a big delay in your streetcar. It isn’t like Third Avenue, where a bus can be delayed, and it doesn’t matter, as there are a dozen ready to take its place. On First Avenue, you are dependent on that train coming from First Hill, and if is delayed, so are you. The current plans address a weak link (before it has been created) but don’t deal with a really weak link that exists now.

      2. “Slow” also includes frequency. The original purpose of FHSC is last mile trips from CHS, so even if FHSC gets great grade separation, if it’s only running every 10 minutes it will still be perceived as slow.

      3. I work in Pioneer Square. I can walk to First Hill faster than the street car will take me.

        First there is the walk to the street car. Then the wait since it is the only transit on that route. Then the circuitous route, and the inability to go around another vehicle. Finally the cost.

        Since the walk is steep I usually drive to my dentist’s office. Straight up Yesler, then left on Broadway. Middle of the day takes maybe ten minutes from my office to the parking garage where my dentist works. The cost to park is probably less than round trip on the street car.

        If the goal is to get folks to take transit I don’t think the First Hill Street Car is going to do it.

        When you come to a street car on 1st Ave. you have to ask yourself why. As Ross points out there are a lot of buses and trains that go north-south through Seattle along and under 3rd. Plus DSTT1 is heated and dry, and seen as safe during the day. There is no traffic for light rail, but even the buses cruise along 3rd pretty well, although it is sketchy.

        So to paraphrase Ross, just who will ride this street car. I work in downtown Seattle, Pre-pandemic and when the streets were a little less sketchy I would sometimes go to the market during the day, or Westlake. Why would I walk to first to take a street car when I could hope on a train in the Pioneer Square station? For the same cost.

        If it is just entertainment like the SF trolley, it is an expensive investment that won’t move anyone. If it is just transit advocates wanting as much money for transit no matter the efficacy ok, but I think that tends to turn off the voting public.

      4. “If it is just entertainment like the SF trolley, it is an expensive investment that won’t move anyone.”

        Exactly. If the downtown businesses want it, they can pay for it out of their marketing budgets. The SLU streetcar got sponsorships to defray the cost of stations, and I think Paul Allen paid part of the capital costs.

      5. “I work in Pioneer Square. I can walk to First Hill faster than the street car will take me”

        When I had jury duty, I did just that. I walked from the courthouse to First Hill for lunch, and back again. The walk was definitely faster than waiting for and riding the streetcar, even though my lunch was on Broadway, right next to a streetcar stop. Even going up the hill, walking was still faster.

    4. “the CCC the completed streetcar line is projected to have more ridership that the two highest RapidRide lines COMBINED!”

      That sounds extremely implausible. Those lines would be the D and E, or about 22,000 riders per day. according to the link Nathan D posted above. Citation, please.

      1. Here is the report that I assume Lazarus is talking about*. The ridership estimates are yearly (which I always find irritating). It calls for an increase of about 4 million riders a year, or somewhere around 10 to 15,000 *new* riders a day. All of these rides then, would involve First Avenue.

        To put things in perspective, Third Avenue handles around 50,000 riders a day. Much was made about the ridership estimates — for good reason. This would either be a huge increase in ridership, or a major shift from Third Avenue to First for transit users. The former seems unlikely (not that many people drive from one end of First to the other). So the idea is that suddenly a lot of riders who use the busway on Third will shift to First.

        Anyone who knows anything about the area would immediately question the methodology. It doesn’t really make sense. Why would so many people suddenly switch from the very frequent busway, to the infrequent streetcar? The only reason I would switch is if there was less walking. A trip would have to involve First itself for it to be faster. A trip entirely on Second, for example, would be faster using Third. This just doesn’t pass the sniff test.

        I would love to see a deep dive into this, but it would involve investigating the modeling tools they use (STOPS) and what numbers they plugged in. After looking through the manual**, it is easy to see how the numbers could vary widely, depending on how the current system is defined (see page 50, for example).

        Then there is this, from the report: Analysis for the Terminate option takes into account recent actual ridership data provided by SDOT. This is essentially the “no build” option. The fact that they modified the numbers for this option, and didn’t just go with the model raises questions about the model (and the numbers they put in). For example, how do real world numbers compare to the numbers generated by the model? I think we know the answer — the models estimates were way off. They didn’t fit the current reality. They were way off in the past, and there is no reason to assume that these new estimates are right. There is nothing in the report that suggests that they adapted their methodology to account for past failings (other than simply not using the model for the no-build option).

        It is a sloppy methodology, done by a single firm, with no competition, and little transparency. It wasn’t the priority for the firm — cost estimates were. The way to approach the problem is to first figure out why the original estimates were so wrong. Modify the inputs so that you at least get something resembling current reality. Then use those same inputs for the expansion. Instead, they came up with unrealistic numbers just like they did before.

        Oh, and there is no reason to assume that a bus would perform worse in the model than a tram. On page 50, they explain how you define a mode. The first category is “0 – Tram, streetcar, LRT, (and BRT for STOPS)”. Thus BRT would generate the same numbers as the tram.

        * https://durkan.seattle.gov//wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2018/08/FINAL-Initial-Summary_Streetcar-Cost-Review-20180831.pdf.
        ** https://www.transit.dot.gov/sites/fta.dot.gov/files/docs/STOPS_1.50_user_documentation_v5_0.pdf

  16. 2nd Mayoral debate tonight. Transit related was “how safe do you feel.” Perceptions/comments?

    1. I listened to the debate on KUOW. It was the most useless candidates’ debate I’ve seen in years. The first five minutes was an extended discussion on whether one Gonzalez campaign ad was racist. Come on. One ad is nothing compared to all the decisions a mayor would make, and both candidates are minorities and sensitive to equity, so either of them would be fine in that regard.

      Another long discussion was on police reform, and there Gonzalez had some difficulty with her two-pronged message, saying we must deemphasize (I won’t say defund) the police but at the same time keep the force sufficient. Harrell repeatedly tried to pin the defund slogan on her, another useless exercise, while emphasizing he’d keep the police numbers up and has experience as a defender and ideas to broaden the response beyond just cops with guns.

      I’m leaning more toward Gonzalez than I was, knowing that both candidates will do some things I don’t like, just different things. In the end she’s more solid on transit and urbanism, and I hope she’ll be pragmatic in her approach to policing. But if Harrell ends up as mayor, I think he’ll be OK. But he should ditch the mudslinging tactics in campaigning.

      1. It doesn’t matter. Harrell will win in a landslide. For the exact same reason Bernie posted about safety on transit.

        If crime, public safety and homeless tents in parks and on school grounds are campaign issues they are the only issue. 99% of voters don’t give a shit about the route of the 40 or ST’s operational budget estimates. This blog is so clueless about women.

        Every major city that “defunded” the police is scrambling to refund police? Why? Because it is November. Election season.

        Seattle is hurting. If you care about transit and live in N. King Co. you need to get real about ridership, general fund tax revenues, and farebox recovery. Because ST a long time ago assumed the Seattle economic engine would solve a lot of its dishonest assumptions in ST 2 and 3, but never figured a bunch of ideological idiots would kill the golden goose. On this I sympathize with Rogoff. At least he wasn’t an idiot. Just optimistic, to quote Joni Earl.

        I don’t mean this in a derogatory way, but my impression is urbanists and transit bloggers don’t make a lot of money, and assume those who do — and don’t use transit — will pay for this debacle, which was fair when downtown Seattle was safe, vibrant and exciting..

        I hope the urbanists and transit fans can afford this on their own because the folks and businesses — and commuters — who generate the general fund transit tax revenue, are leaving Seattle. For good.

        Great for East King Co. with subarea equity and uniform tax rates, where the stations, streets and stops are safe, but where parking is free and everyone drives.

        Has anyone considered the irony: on the Eastside where streets are safe everyone drives from their garage to their destination, but in Seattle where the streets are unsafe people — including women — are suppose to take transit .

        Harrell won’t fix anything, I am afraid to report, and I believe it is too late. My advice is to leave if you can afford to. Metro’s Eastside restructure should tell you everything you need to know. It won’t be great because transit can’t serve East King Co., but few will care, and the subarea has the funding to deal with the complainers like the 630 and one seat express buses to Seattle and more park and rides. Definitely more park and rides, unless the commuter doesn’t return.

        Life goes on. If transit isn’t a priority it means folks found a better alternative. But there is no alternative to safe streets.

      2. “Harrell will win in a landslide. For the exact same reason Bernie posted about safety on transit.”

        Not everybody thinks like you and Bernie. You’re outliers compared to Seattle’s average. The race may be 50/50 or 60/40 but I don’t see it wider than that. One issue is the turnout: it’s 14% as of today countywide. The prediction is around 42%. That’s still less than half, and doesn’t suggest a huge wave running to cast a ballot for Harrell.

        “my impression is urbanists and transit bloggers don’t make a lot of money”

        Several STB authors are in the tech industry and probably make over $100K. That may not seem like much compared to a lawyer.

        “on the Eastside where streets are safe everyone drives from their garage to their destination”

        Not everybody does, and ridership is growing on the Eastside, other than this covid distortion. The Eastside city governments know that 100% car use isn’t a feasible future; they’re already choking in traffic part of the week. Somebody is riding the 550 and B and 226 and 255, because asdf and I see them, and somebody on the Eastside clamored for East Link and voted for it because it passed on the Eastside. They majority drive and park there, like in all US suburbs. There’s nothing unusual in that.

        “My advice is to leave if you can afford to.”

        If there’s a mass exodus from Seattle to the suburbs and exurbs, then housing prices in Seattle will fall. :) Maybe it will even be like the 80s again. :) :) When you could easily find a place, think about it for a week, and it was still available, and it didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Will you meet me in Luther Burbank part then, you driving from Mercer Island, me taking East Link from Seattle?

      3. My ultimate point is you want as much general fund tax revenue in downtown Seattle as possible. Nearly every assumption is based on this. The Eastside is about SFH, kids, schools, and suburbia. Not The Spring District. The entire ST subarea equity is based on downtown Seattle being the financial center. Light rail all goes TOWARDS downtown Seattle. You can’t have riders afraid to exit on 3rd and Pine or James.

        .

        Most of the social services costs are in Seattle. Transit needs and costs are higher.

        If Seattle is safe, vibrant, and exciting people will come. They will commute to work. They will shop and dine. They will gladly spend money.

        Compare NY city in the 1970’s vs. 2000’s. Look at the revenue difference, and tourism.

        What was NYC’s advertising theme in the 2000’s? The safest large city in America.

        So take their money. That begins with safe streets which creates retail and restaurant density, which helps fund the arts, which means businesses want to be there because workers are willing to commute there, which means they are willing to consider transit.

        I am not saying a Harrell landslide is a rejection of transit. Just the opposite. But I don’t think Harrell and the council will ever make the tough decisions to restore Seattle’s safe streets. Which is why our firm is leaving now after 31 years.

        I don’t live far away. If things change I will visit and spend money. . But our firm will be gone forever, and the Eastside is a very compelling dining and entertainment alternative.

      4. [T]he Eastside is a very compelling dining and entertainment alternative.

        Yeah, it’s North Dallas. Gotta love it.

      5. My gut feeling is that Harrell will win, and it won’t be all that close. I could see it going 55/45 or 60/40, but I don’t think it’s going to be a 51-49 nail biter.

        I don’t get to vote in this race, but if this were 2017 (when I did live in Seattle), I probably would have chosen Gonzales without much thought because she has a better record on zoning, bike lanes, and transit. 2021, of course, is different, with the dominant issues being homelessness and policing. Granted, I’m a sample size of one, but my gut feeling is that for an evenly split race, where the median voter is undecided, I would be clearly rooting for Gonzales. The fact that I’m not, I take as an indicator that the median voter will be pretty firmly with Harrell.

      6. There was time in US history before when wealthier workers fled to the suburbs, leaving the cities vulnerable. This happened at an historic time of desegregation and cultural change that coincided with the peak of automobile culture. The combination of these factors led to a suburban boom. After this boom, these people’s children and grandchildren realized the many problems with suburban life: cultural, financial, environmental. And since then reurbanization has proceeded.

        The true threat to cities is not a flight of the wealthy, as far as I am concerned. I don’t believe the conditions that would lead to another “suburban boom” exist. If people are fed up enough with crime to move, it’s not showing up on a macro level. Seattle is still growing, and growing more wealthy. Even the pandemic, which has enabled work from home, has not signaled any sort of sea change in people’s preferences.

        Rather, the big threat is affordability, which affects all people. Affordability hollows out the working class on which cities depend, making them flee to the suburbs just to pay rent. That, in turn, reduces the cultural diversity and economics that make cities work. Lack of affordability hollows out the young and the old. A recent article in the Urbanist noted that Gen Z appears to prefer “satellite cities.” I’m confident that this preference has to do with affordability, not mere taste. Meanwhile, when the old are displaced, it serves as both a moral ill and a cultural ill, as the people who once gave the city its character, perspective, and wisdom have vanished.

        To say that crime or homelessness are not problems is going too far. But saying that this will drive an exodus to the suburbs is also going too far. These are the problems cities deal with – not threats to the city fabric itself.

      7. I listened to the debate on KUOW. It was the most useless candidates’ debate I’ve seen in years. . .
        Gonzalez had some difficulty with her two-pronged message,

        If you listened on radio then you didn’t see it. There’s a big difference. People who only listened to the Nixon Kennedy debate thought Nixon won. With the people who watched it on TV it was a landslide for Kennedy. “Some difficulty” resulted in a deer in the headlights moment. And then there’s “the smirk”.

        Elections are fought in the middle. Harrell is courting the middle to right voters and Gonzalez the middle to left. The “middle” in Seattle is pretty hard left. So Harrell has the harder battle to win a majority. As others have said a big part of the equation is voter turnout in an election that outside of Seattle Mayor is a nothing burger. This may swing in Harrell’s favor since older conservative voters have historically had a higher turnout in low profile elections.

        Harrell has more money. The campaign funding issue came up in the first debate where Gonzalez tried to pin Harrell with being funded by big tech and Harrell pointed out Gonzalez (like Sawant) relies largely on out of State contributors.

        After Trump beating Hillary I’m out of the election prediction business. I haven’t seen any polling but… after Trump beating Hillary I don’t believe the pros have any more credibility than a Ouja Board. Seattle is too passive aggressive to make their positions public but I think this decision will profoundly affect the direction Seattle takes going forward.

    2. In 2019, Amazon and the Chamber of Commerce and friends spent over $1 million in the City Council races. Notably, Amazon spent more on the city council races than it did to defeat I-976. The only candidate they supported who won was Pedersen. Most of the races weren’t even close (IIRC, only Lewis and Sawant weren’t decided on election night). It will come out to turnout (young progressive voters vote late in Seattle). If the Sawant recall was on the November ballot instead of December, I would say Gonzales wins easily because all the youngsters in District 3 would have voted. Now, I’m expecting a closer race.

      Throwing this out to the STB Seattle horde, how many of you who voted against Chamber supported candidates in 2019 are voting for Harrell today?

      1. I agree, this race will be close. Harrell is hoping for a low turnout (as the more right-wing candidate). Ooof, it is hard to right that Harrell is the more right-wing candidate, but it is true. It’s not because Gonzalez is very far left, either (she voted for additional police funding after the George Floyd murder). But it is clear that Harrell has staked out a position to the right of Gonzalez, in hopes of a reactionary response from an electorate that can’t quite wrap its head around the correlation between homelessness, cost of housing, and zoning. All it takes is a few sweeps and the problem is over. Never mind the 4,000 kids in Seattle Public Schools that are homeless (look it up).

        Harrell is also a fundamentally strong candidate in a two-person race. Very few people dislike Harrell. He is solid, capable, smart, and extremely hard working. I ran across a campaign worker handing out flyers for Harrell, and I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I was voting for Gonzalez. I mentioned that my sister was in a class with him in high school, and she said “so many people say they know Bruce one way or another”. It is really tough to beat a candidate like that.

        If Harrell wins, my only hope is that he ignores the very powerful voices pushing him, and actually governs with an open mind. He says he will, but when supporters — both NIMBY leaders or those with the big bucks who would be largely responsible for his victory — want something, it is hard to say no. I really hope Gonzalez wins — I think this is a major turning point for the city, unlike the last several elections — but if she doesn’t, I hope it isn’t as bad as I fear.

  17. The Stranger endorsed Hamdi Mohamhed over Stephanie Bowman for Port of Seattle Commissioner Position 3. I have to apologize. I do not know to much about either candidate. Or even the actual person’s responsibilities. One thing the The Stranger, brought up was Stephanie Bowman’s solution to fixing the long walk from Seatac airport to Seatac Light Rail. Bowman suggested golf carts as part of the solution. Not a real solution just a band aid. Does this mean that Hamdi Mohamed is going to spend the money to put in a people mover to make it faster? The Stranger uses that as one example but I have not actually heard Mohamed speak on it. Please let me know. Thank you.

    1. It would be relatively straightforward, but fairly expensive to extend the center connector of the existing system to the Link station. Don’t hold your breath waiting for it, though.

      1. Isn’t the existing people-mover all behind security? A new people mover couldn’t be an extension; at best it could share the fleet and OMF.

    2. I recall skimming through the voters guide last week, not knowing anything about either candidate either. I ultimately to go with the Stranger’s endorsement, even though I disagree with them on some of the other races, because I wanted the port to have somebody on there who represents the communities most directly affected by the noise and pollution the airplanes spew out.

      Airplane noise is a significant problem, and it impacts people in the flight path surprisingly far from the airport itself. Even as far away as Capitol Hill, the roar of planes overhead can be quite intense.

      1. I have been disappointed with The Stranger writers of late, and was especially disappointed with their endorsements in the primaries. But I ended up voting for all of their candidates in the general, and many of their arguments are sound. To be clear, the city attorney race is a mess — we are going to end up with someone who isn’t that smart. It is a clear “lesser of two evils”. But most of the job is not prosecuting crime, but representing the city, which makes the choice easier.

        I have also warmed to both candidates in the at-large position for city council (9). I still voted for Oliver, but Nelson wouldn’t be the end of the world (I think). I’m still a little pissed that we don’t have Thomas, but that is just the nature of our primitive voting system. (To be fair, a lot of more advanced voting systems still would not have chosen Thomas. She was the second choice by the vast majority of voters, but the first by relatively few.) A big part of the problem is this silly off-year election, which tends to favor more extreme and conservative candidates (for different reasons). That, and the whims of the editorial staff of the two major papers (The Seattle Times and The Stranger). It sucks that the Municipal League paused their endorsement process, and that we don’t have the P. I. any more.

    3. The garage is to be eventually replaced by a hotel, and I think the port is envisioning an automated walkway in the hotel.

    1. It won’t be full BRT to Woodinville. The Stride 3 terminus is 405, which will be a transfer hub to Lynnwood-Bellevue Stride. Woodinville was offered a couple alternatives like an all-day ST Express to the terminus or a peak-only ST Express to Bellevue, and the feedback was leaning toward the latter. In April STB said there was no additional information on Woodinville service. (Although it says the Bellevue express concept would be all-day, which is not what I remember.) The “Documents” link in Nathan D’s link has ST’s documents on the subject.

    2. The dribbling-out of significant projects like 522/405 BRT makes it interesting. In an ideal world, Lynnwood Link would open with the 130th station and 522 BRT. That won’t happen, and instead the small projects will come after the big one. I guess 405 BRT is largely independent, but if it followed the original timeline, we could look at the ST system in 2025 and consider it “done”, for a fairly long time.

  18. Metro could save a lot in emissions if, rather than electrifying existing routes, they would expand the bus network to more equitably cover the ENTIRE county. My neighborhood lacks decent bus service, with only 40 minute headways during peak hour in the peak direction, zero service outside of peak, and, even to a nearby (20 minute drive) neighborhood, extremely poor service to either Tacoma, Seattle, or Seatac.
    We had a friend staying in Seatac a few weeks ago and offered to have her visit for dinner. She couldn’t make it because there weren’t any bus routes that gave her a reasonable travel time for the 12 mile journey from her airport hotel to the nearest transit center from our house. (All were well over an hour… then another 15-20 minute drive from there.) We live in King County, and pay taxes to both Metro and ST. Our neighborhood zoning is R7 – and fully built-out – with nearby areas zoned R20! (7 & 20 DU/ac)
    Maybe if they provided the same level of transit service to the south 1/3 of the county as their counterparts on the eastside, more people would be able and willing to use transit, and stop driving their cars for every single trip.
    BTW, instead of having her over for dinner, we drove up to Seatac in our SOV, picked her up, drove her to a restaurant with outdoor seating, drove to a nearby store to go shopping, then drove her back to her hotel, and drove ourselves back home, all in our SOV; the preference would have been to have her over for dinner, which she wanted to do, but would have required us to drive to Seatac and back, TWICE to pick her up and drop her off, all because King County doesn’t actually offer bus service when and where people need it.
    Three days per week, now, I am driving to and from work, in my car by myself. Car takes 35 minutes each way average. Buses would take me approximately 130 to 140 minutes each way. I work in Tacoma, about a mile from downtown. I would happily bike the last mile, but even then the total one way trip would take about 100 minutes. Get people like me out of our cars – save emissions. We’ve been priced out of Tacoma in the same way we’d been priced out of Seattle. People need to earn a living, and need to be able to afford a roof over their heads. Figure it out.

    1. Metro has a long-range plan to increase all-day service countywide. It’s been waiting for a countywide tax levy that still hasn’t happened, and it also depends on ST2 Link (expected 2024) and the infill stations (expected by the 2030s). It was online but was taken off this year; I’m not sure if that’s a technical issue or the plan has been thrown into disarray with covid and the recession. But it’s a snapshot of what Metro wanted in 2016-2019.

      I’d need more information about which neighborhoods(s) you’re speaking for to say whether an increase is planned there or even feasible. Metro has had a few South King reorganizations since 2008, and they’ve gradually improved service between Federal Way, Kent, and Southcenter, for instance, and on Kent-Kangley Road and 132nd to GRCC. The 160 is a precursor to RapidRide I, which is being prioritized. The 574 goes from SeaTac to Federal Way TC, but it stops a the opposite side of the airport from the Link station, and it has a wierd 2am-9pm schedule because of early-morning airport workers. RapidRide A, of course, takes 30 minutes from SeaTac to Federal Way.

      Other RapidRide plans not yet scheduled include Kent-Des Moines to Kent and GRCC, and Federal Way to Auburn and GRCC. I don’t know if any of those might help. From your description of “an hour from SeaTac”, and assuming you didn’t forget RapidRide A to Federal Way, it seems like you must be east of downtown Auburn or Kent. In Aiburn’s case I don’t see how Federal Way TC wouldn’t have been feasible. In Kent’s case I can see how lack of coordination between two infrequent routes (SeaTac-Kent and Kent-Maple Valley) could least to a 1+ hour travel time. I’ve often remarked that Kent needs better service to SeaTac or Link in general (and to downtown Seattle).

    2. Another thing that’s happening is that in the covid era both Metro, King County, Sound Transit, and Seattle have started focusing more on equity. This is leading to more recent and proposed service in South King County (and less in the Eastside or North Seattle) than it would have gotten before. This should gradually bring more service to South King.

      Yes, transit between southeast King County and Pierce County is bad if you’re not going from Auburn to Puyallup.

    3. My neighborhood lacks decent bus service

      What neighborhood is that? It is pretty hard to understand your complaint — which may be quite reasonable — if we have no idea what you are talking about.

    1. They have poor mass transit. Have you ridden the 2, 3, 4, or 12? They can take half an hour to get from 3rd Avenue to Broadway peak hours, and the 12 is infrequent evenings/weekends. Pike/Pine has good transit but Seneca, Madison, and James/Jefferson don’t. On Broadway, the streetcar is slow and has unstreetcar-like mediocre frequency off-peak, and the 60 doesn’t help that much.

      The G will radically change this. It’s estimated to be 5 minutes from 1st Avenue to Broadway, and 5 minutes from Broadway to MLK. Nothing except Link can currently get from 3rd Avenue to Broadway in 5 minutes, and Link is too far north for some First Hill destinations and mobility-challenged pedestrians. The G will put central First Hill on ultra-frequent transit, every 6 minutes, and be much faster than current service. That will transform the area and make it easier to get around on transit.

    2. Given the notable riders per mile listed above, it looks pretty glaring to me that James should be RapidRide G rather than Madison. I believe that 2-Union has higher riders per mile too.

      To imply that RapidRide G is somehow serving Jefferson St and Cherry Street is kind of offensive frankly. In the CD, the streets/ routes are a mile apart from each other. At Boren, Harborview is still 1/4 mile away.

      It speaks volumes about the unrecognized white privilege perspective still alive and well in Seattle — even among some liberal transit advocates. Why Ballard and Alaska Junction with the cutesy one story buildings should get Link before the Harborview area says it all.

      1. Al, you know as well as any of us that Link to Harborview would be nosebleed expensive and a huge inconvenience to use. The funicular we both like is a much better value.

      2. Given the notable riders per mile listed above, it looks pretty glaring to me that James should be RapidRide G rather than Madison. I believe that 2-Union has higher riders per mile too.

        I assume you are referring to the comment I made (https://seattletransitblog.com/2021/10/27/news-roundup-september-highlights/#comment-883327). As I tried to make clear: take those numbers with a grain of salt. I didn’t go through every bus route, and there are a lot of factors that contribute to ridership. The 12 (serving Madison) is right up with those buses, with roughly 1,350 riders per mile. That is less than the 3/4, but it runs *way* less often. The 3/4 is also a very different bus. It runs through downtown, and up Queen Anne. The fact that it runs frequently means that it will grab a bigger share of downtown trips from Denny to James (a bonanza in terms of ridership). I didn’t isolate the eastern part, because I don’t have the stop data for the bus(es) and doing so gets complicated really quickly. My numbers are very rough, and meant to point out that there is no reason to think that *any* corridor is head and shoulders above another, based on ridership data. It is largely a rebuttal to the idea that the E should be converted to rail just because it has a lot of riders (on a very long, very frequent, very fast bus route).

        My guess is, if you looked at the stop data, and adjusted for frequency as well as everything else, Madison really is the best corridor for a project like this. It is possible that construction would be cheaper on James/Cherry, but I don’t see any reason to believe that is true.

        Of course, there is the argument that instead of focusing on one corridor, we should be making a lot of changes on several corridors. That would mean getting rid of the worst delays on the 3/4 for example, (without asking the bus to abandon James). But that is a completely different argument. The thing I like about this project is that it sets the bar really high for what can be achieved relatively cheaply with bus service. It might be relatively expensive, but it is nowhere near as expensive as our light rail projects. My hope is that it sets the standard — both in service and speed — for transit around here, and other corridors (like the 3/4) get similar treatment.

        By the way, this also shows how absurd federal transit funding is. It is based on big projects. It is quite possible, for example, that the changes proposed for the 40 will make a huge difference in transit not only for that bus, but all the buses that cross over the Fremont Bridge. As a result, it will lead to big increases in ridership, as well as huge amounts of time saved for riders. But my guess is, it won’t get federal funding. On the other hand, if they ran a “BRT” or streetcar — with exactly the same speed improvements — it would. Pardon my French, but that’s fucked up. It encourages cities to make huge, wasteful changes, while ignoring the little things that make all the difference. Given the world we live in, something like RapidRide G is probably the best we can hope for.

  19. Here are some reasons to favor at least one bus route transiting 1st Ave rather than than 3rd.
    Access to Pike Place Mkt., Seattle Art Museum, access via bridge to Colman Dock, access to the waterfront in general, including the Aquarium which is undergoing an expansion.
    So, maybe the bus has to go slow around the Market area, but so do car drivers. That’s no excuse.
    I thought the whole point of public transit was to go where people want to go. Saying that there are too many people hindering the progress of a bus at the Market just proves that the Market has a lot of people, so transit should go there.

    1. It’s not that First Avenue is unimportant or nobody goes there, it’s that that has to be weighed against all the other transit needs in the city. When people downtown have two excellent ways to go north-south (3rd Avenue buses or Link), while other medium-density neighborhoods have a bus only every half hour, or it takes an hour to get across North Seattle, those are more critical than adding a streetcar or BRT on 1st Avenue. If we had plenty of money we could do both, but state tax limitations and the city’s reluctance to use all it could force is to leave something out.

      1. Just one bus changing its route from 3rd to 1st would be fantastic. It could be the 1 or the 2 or the 13 or whatever. Currently the buses coming from lower QA are driving on 1st before they swing up to 3rd at Broad due to road works. If only just one route could be changed. Seems like a small ask since Belltown has lost out on light rail, tourist shuttles, the Benson streetcar, et al. It just keeps getting worse.

    2. The 120 and C-line go down the hill to the waterfront, stopping in front of the ferry, so we do have partial coverage there.

      Taking a bus on 3rd and moving it to 1st sounds good for people traveling along 1st, but has implications for existing riders. It would prevent riders from being able to wait at one stop on 3rd for whichever of many routes comes first. Unless 1st gets exclusive lanes, a bus on 1st would get stuck in traffic. You could give the bus exclusive lanes, like the streetcar was going to get, but that’s a big traffic impact, just to save riders of one bus route two blocks of walking.

      In the meantime, as a rider traveling to 1st, you don’t even save the two block of walking unless the other end of the trip is either on 1st also or along that specific route. For instance, someone going to Pike Place Market from Greenwood is not going to transfer in Belltown from the 5 to whichever bus goes down 1st. They’re just going to stay on the 5 to 3rd/Pike or 3rd/Pine and walk two blocks. The destination is on 1st, yet the bus on 1st isn’t actually adding any value.

    3. I wrote about this very subject, about three years ago: https://seattletransitblog.com/2018/09/03/mobility-alternatives-to-the-ccc/.
      (Has it only been three years, holy cow, so many things have happened).

      Anyway, long story short, I see three possibilities:

      1) Build the center lanes, with bus stops designed for special buses. Basically this means following the CCC plans, but without rail. Buses with doors on both sides would serve the stops in the middle of the street. Presumably these would be RapidRide, but there is no reason that they would have to be. Having a bunch of these special buses (with doors on both sides) opens up the possibility that combined with RapidRide G we could get them as trolleys. (The only reason the Madison BRT buses aren’t trolleys is because we don’t need that many. They will be running every six minutes, but since the route is fast and short, we only need a handful of the special vehicles. As a result, the bus maker didn’t want to make them. With a bigger order, they would accommodate us.)

      2) Build the center lanes, but with bus stops on the right side. To accomplish this with three lanes, the stops are offset, and the buses weave. At every point, the bus lanes are next to each other. Sometimes the stop is on the right, sometimes it is on the left. The advantage with this approach is that any combination of buses can serve the stops.

      3) Save money and just run BAT lanes. The big cost is making sure you have five lanes across, the entire way (two lanes of general traffic, two bus lanes, and one lane for bus stops). If you run BAT lanes, the buses just run on the right side, and the street (as it is now) is fine.

      From an operations perspective, all options are essentially free. We have more than enough buses running through downtown. Just run a few on First. At worst this leads to griping, but folks will get over it. They can easily transfer to another bus with very little waiting, often at the exact same bus stop. It doesn’t make sense that we are willing to spend a quarter billion dollars running surface transit on First, but we can’t possibly detour a bus there.

      Personally, I would go with option 3. I just don’t see ridership on First being worth the money. Not when you have so many buses running really frequently and fast a couple blocks away. Even destination you mentioned is legit. But you have to be going to two destinations on First, or at most, a destination on First and Second for the bus to make sense. For example, if you get off the ferry, and want to get to your office on Third, you are taking a bus on Third, not First.

      Oh, and BAT lanes would be fairly fast, from what I can tell. Yes, drivers can clog things up, but I think it is weird that we are going from no transit at all on First to a first class, super expensive system. Establish that riders will actually use something that runs on First before we invest so much (in my opinion).

      1. It took me a while, but here is an example of (2): https://nacto.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/IMG_4960-960×640.jpg. It isn’t a great picture, but hopefully it makes it clear. The buses run in the middle of the street. There are two bus stops in the picture. Both of them are in the middle of the street, with general purpose traffic running outside of them. The bus lanes weave in order to serve the stops. As a result, it uses three lanes, with regular buses.

        The reason this approach wasn’t used for Madison is because they really wanted to share the bus stops.

      2. Or, if you have center platforms, route the bus lanes on the opposite side so the buses can use the right side doors. I don’t know if anyone does it that way, but a yellow line still means oncoming traffic in the opposing lane. It shouldn’t be that difficult for people to figure out.

      3. That is rarely done on the street. It is confusing to see buses running opposite cars, and thus it poses a risk for pedestrians. Inside a transit tunnel, on the other hand, it allows you to have center platforms. In most transit tunnels pedestrians aren’t allowed to cross the busway/railway so there is little risk.

      4. I would imagine anywhere on the Madison corridor where it would be needed, you’d have intersections with traffic lights.

        But the shifting lanes and split platforms definitely solves the problem.

      5. “The only reason the Madison BRT buses aren’t trolleys is because we don’t need that many.”

        The reason Madison BRT buses aren’t trolley is that no American manufacturer offers trolley buses with left-side doors. Metro tried to do that and couldn’t, so it switched to hybrid buses as a fallback.

        The center lanes were part of a larger vision of possibly more center-lane segments on 45th (between I-5 and 15th) et al, so the fleet might become larger than just the G. With all the watering-down everywhere that’s unlikely now.

        Of course, Metro could reverse the direction of the center lanes like at the Bellevue Transit Center to use right-side doors. SDOT/Metro hasn’t been interested in that.

    1. Thanks!

      The more I’ve learned about automated trains the more I’m convinced that the West Seattle and Ballard Lines should be automated.

      Shorter subway stations.
      Steeper grades.
      Amazing frequencies (90 seconds to 2 minutes).

      This in addition to ST not embracing the better advantages of light rail like branching.

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