A Sound Transit Train in the Pre-Dawn Northgate Fog

Maybe we can back to weekly roundups soon…

This is an open thread.

46 Replies to “News roundup: October highlights”

  1. It appears that the “building the damn thing” hyperlink is misdirected to the ST Link air quality item.

      1. No, for most of Tacoma the parking requirements are pretty typical. However, all major transit corridors are exempted from parking requirements, including Pacific Ave and 6th Ave.

  2. What is the deal with the next bus arrival time signs at Roosevelt station? They have been displaying the same erroneous RTA info for like 18 hours now. Just frozen in time.

    We arrived back in Seattle from NYC last night and were doing the Link to Metro transfer. We were waiting just inside the Link station because of the cold. We would have missed our bus if I hadn’t noticed that the signs weren’t updating and switched to OBA for better info. OBA was accurate, so it isn’t a data problem.

    At least ST shuts off their system when they know it isn’t working properly. Metro should do the same, because no info is much much better than bad info.

    So what’s the deal? Because either Metro is just not being responsive and isn’t bothering to fix the issue (shades of the Metro DSLRT escalator debacle?), or maybe Metro just doesn’t know about the problem.

    And if Metro doesn’t know about the problem, does that imply that nobody is actually using the data?

  3. re the Urbanist coverage of the CCC Streetcar: the piece asserted it began with McGinn. Actually, it began with Nickels and his Central Line; it was placed in all the AWV scenarios in 2008 and was dreamt of before that. It remains unfunded and a very weak project.

    re LFP garage: ST3 has been reset; the parking will be indefinitely paused; it never made transit sense; the land would be better used for housing next to frequent transit; the funds for garages would be better used for service hours and shorter waits.

    1. Yeah, the Lake Forest Park thing is kind of funny.

      LFP: We want a big parking garage.
      ST: OK
      LFP: But it has to be built like this.
      ST: That looks hard, we’re going to sue.
      [ST loses suit]
      LFP: Yay, we got what we wanted.
      ST: Yeah, we will build your parking garage when hell freezes over in 2046.
      LFP: Oh.

      1. So what is the option for Lake Forest Park residents to access the BRT if the park and ride promised in 2024 in ST 3 is postponed until 2046? Simple. Drive to your destination. Or maybe WFH.

        Unless of course ST will provide LFP adequate replacement bus feeder service as promised to Kenmore in the amendment to the $48 billion realignment, which I highly doubt. And to vote no on any future transit levies because ST is a fundamentally dishonest organization. The real irony is WSBLE was all based on ST 4, and a county wide Metro levy, so LFP is not the only community not getting what it was promised.

        The main purpose of the LFP code amendments was to create a “third place”, or walkable retail dense town center. The amendments were not to force ST to build a parking garage, because that had been promised in ST 3 in 2016.

        Ideally BRT and the parking garage would allow residents to access the town center, and create a dense walkable retail/transit environment. If they can’t they will find alternatives, and from the comments on several blogs many LFP residents didn’t want any changes to their town center anyway, and opposed any kind of urbanization for the sake of BRT.

        Many suburban communities are realizing BRT and light rail really don’t provide their communities much benefit, and it is a big mistake to rely on transit promises. Link and BRT are an urban solution for a suburban ethos. If ridership in 2018 was estimated for UW and Capitol Hill to be 48,000+ but really was 33,000+, who does that affect?

        ST just doesn’t get it: IT NEEDS the riders, and the riders have alternatives. Both Metro and ST will have to place operations levies on ballots pretty soon due to ridership declines, and ST is making sure its levy fails, which leaves increasing fares or reducing frequency or station maintenance the two other options.

        The real concern should be an agency like ST that cannot afford to complete the projects it promised in its levies, despite an addtional $48 billion in new taxes. The real Achilles heel for ST will be operation costs, and same for Metro now that it is suppose to pick up the broken access promises made by ST.

        If you own a car how badly can ST screw you, except for the taxes. ST only ends up screwing those too poor to own a car. A city that relies on ST, or transit, is pretty foolish. LFP can find ways to build more parking for its town center, if that is what the residents want. It won’t wait until 2046.

      2. Thompson: the parking garage is antithetical to the town center and urban places. (By the way, Ron Sher of Third Place Books is brilliant; see Crossroads Mall). With the ST3 reset, the funding for the parking has been delayed indefinitely, so its funds do not exist for current service. P&R tend to fill early in the a.m. peak and do nothing for mobility during the rest of the day. This is true on Mercer Island and elsewhere. October 2, Metro improved the peak period headway of Route 331 to 20 minutes, so it can help LFP pedestrians reach Route 522 today and Stride tomorrow. But ST should restore their stop pair at the SR-104 transfer point that they closed a few years ago. Local service could be changed again with Lynnwood Link, but will still be budget constrained.

      3. Eddie, I only went off what I read of the amendments the LFP council passed.

        A parking garage is not antithetical to retail or “urbanism”, and ST agreed to the parking garage in ST 3 in order to access BRT. This is not something LFP made up or fabricated as part of its town center code amendments. It does sound like many LFP residents were opposed to any changes or increased density in their town center, and so opposed the parking garage, and living on MI I certainly understand a city wishing ST never arrived.

        Retail needs parking, and everywhere from downtown Seattle to Bellevue Square provides parking. Right now the walkability and retail density of Bellevue is miles better than downtown Seattle, and Bellevue is based upon driving and parking at the urban core. Urbanism and retail density depend on so much more than the mode you use to get there. Not surprisingly, a good percentage of shopping and dining is done before and after work, which is why many residents like park and rides.

        It is true park and rides promised in ST 3 were postponed because ST had reached its debt ceiling, or would, with WSBLE. But in many areas like the eastside the funding is there for the subarea to complete them.

        At some point riders have to access feeder buses to rail or BRT from their doorstep. When you get to suburban areas feeder buses become problematic, and expensive, which is why you see park and rides on the eastside. If Metro can fill the gap until 2046 when the park and ride will be built I suppose that meets the intent of the amendment to the realignment. Or micro transit for the more remote areas a park and ride serves.

        Still you have to access the feeder buses. This is the actual first/last mile access that begins at your doorstep. Some would argue 20 minute peak frequency on the 331 just to reach BRT is not very attractive to someone who has a car in the garage, IF you can walk to the 331, AND the 331 stops where you are going. It is why park and rides fill so early: there are no feeder buses for these areas someone can walk to.

        The park and ride on Mercer Island is to allow residents to access the bus or light rail, because feeder bus service on the Island is virtually non-existent. Same for the 1500 park and ride in S. Bellevue. The area is too large and too undense for feeder bus service to serve, and micro transit is too expensive. It is why ST agreed to the park and ride at LFP, and those on the eastside. These park and rides were promised in the levy, and the areas demanded them because they work for these areas. You can’t blame a city for being aggrieved their park and rides are being postponed for WSBLE, due to ST’s dishonest cost estimation. Maybe the real solution is to place ST 3 back on the ballot, and make it honest.

        People in LFP have cars so they have alternatives. It has a 3.37% poverty rate with a household AMI of $126,750. https://datausa.io/profile/geo/lake-forest-park-wa/#:~:text=Lake%20Forest%20Park%2C%20WA%20is%20home%20to%20a,Park%2C%20WA%20than%20any%20other%20race%20or%20ethnicity.

        If the option is to somehow make it to the 331, wait 20 minutes to catch a bus to BRT, or just drive, someone from LFP is probably going to drive to their ultimate destination. The 3.37% living in poverty probably don’t have that option.

        I will be interested to see actual ridership on BRT in LFP compared to estimated ridership, compared to the capacity of the parking garage promised in ST 3. I wish more transit advocates would question the huge discrepancies between estimated pre-pandemic ridership in ST’s levies and pre-pandemic actual ridership.

        I thought the goal of light rail and BRT was to create a transit system that would not only serve existing bus riders switching to rail, but entice car drivers to switch to transit, but ST really does not understand first/last mile access, bus feeder service and frequency, or think those are its problem. That is why so few car drivers will switch to rail or BRT, especially if they don’t have to commute to work.

      4. Daniel: The thtrr-thousand, four-hundrer thirty-third of his canned Jeremaiad against Sound Transit and “Urbanists”

        World: Yawn….

      5. “The three-thousand four-hundred and thirty-third repetition of …”

        Whew. That’s a LOT of typos…

      6. Dan can’t imagine a city in which people can walk, or a city where storage of private automobiles doesn’t dominate land use. It’s sad, really, that he can’t imagine that the solution to a lack of feeder bus network is more feeder buses, instead of more cars and more parking.

        He says “a city that relies on transit is foolish”, as if there are no highly successful cities (of all sizes) in the world that don’t rely on mass transit. His ignorance is incredible; his myopia ever-more stunning.

      7. I find this situation amusing in part because it will have a negligible effect on ridership (unlike what Daniel fears). What it will do is send some of those drivers to feeder buses, and other drivers to other parking lots (and streets). It is especially amusing because it means that lots of Shoreline riders will have more trouble parking next to the station. That lot will fill up, and now some Shoreline riders will have to take the bus to station. But again, none of that will alter ridership. In fact, there is a big chance that ST will officially cancel the parking lot, and it will be redeveloped into something that will actually increase transit use. Imagine that.

      8. a city where storage of private automobiles doesn’t dominate land use.

        That city sounds a lot like Seattle where free on street parking takes up more asphalt than usable lanes. Parking minimums, we don’t need no stinking parking minimums. Why doesn’t Seattle with it’s “we know better” mindset charge 24/7 for all on street parking?

      9. Bernie, Seattle doesn’t charge for street parking on the majority of its streets for the same reason 70ish% of the residential land is still zoned single-family+ADUs during a housing crisis. I’d be very happy to see the city universally charge for a limited number of street parking permits like Pasadena. Even better, it should transition indefinite street parking to limited loading/unloading zones, bike/scooter racks, parklets and street cafes. If more mobility capacity is needed, parking should be turned into transit or bike lanes with wider sidewalks.

      10. Daniel: Lake Forest Park can use some of the excess parking in the “Town Center” strip mall for park and ride purposes. Or get together with Kenmore to come up with something. There is already more than enough underutilized parking capacity along that corridor.

    2. I see little benefit to the LFP garage to ST. If a transit rider is in their car already, they will probably think about driving to a Link station first since there will be two less than three miles away. It won’t have a direct Stride bus to Downtown Bellevue either. It’s only possible value will come if other garages fill up.

      This seems like a political decision as opposed to a strategic one. Frankly, the 522 project itself is mostly pork created to please leaders in the corridor (and widen/reconfigure 145th) and seemed like it should have just been a RapidRide project.

      1. 522 Stride had an unusually high amount of public support, like Ballard and 130th in Seattle did. That’s why it got into ST3, and partly why the ST3 vote was accelerated to 2016 instead of maybe the 2020s. The cities wanted it; the public wanted it,; there was no significant opposition to it, or even to its alignment. The Northshore area is very narrow and 522 is the only way to go through it, so they really need high throughout and robust transit service there and have relatively high ridership, so that probably muted the kinds of opposition that arose elsewhere.

        Suburban P&Rs exist because of suburban demand, people saying they’d vote for ST3 only if it included the large P&Rs. I assume that was the case for the LFP P&R. I don’t understand the LFP controversy, and the link in the article says nothing about why the lawsuit exists and what LFP wants from ST. So ST is trying to site a P&R because Northshore (LFP) voters demanded it, and now LFP is treating it as environmental harm and demanding mitigation, even though it was LFP residents who pushed for it?

      2. Did 522 STride pay for the continuous transit lanes from Bothell to Lake Forest Park? There’s been a ton of work there to improve what was a cobbled together shoulder running lane on a not very well build stretch of road that will improve transit and safety.

        How much actual work are they doing on 145th from Lake City Way to I-5?

  4. CCC alignment: if I recall, the final decision for station location around Westlake was one SB stop at Stewart & 4th and one NB stop on Pine (too lazy to go digging for the documents). I always fantasized about the Streetcar heading SB on 5th, right on Pine and left on 1st. The current Westlake stop would move to either 5th & Pine or 3rd & Pine. Of course, this would mean not allowing any cars to enter in that area.. Just a transit fantasy of mine.

  5. I’ve seen the new Metro displays at Northgate Station and a couple other places. NE 45th Street & University Way eastbound has a not-yet-operating one and a panel for a future ORCA reader. It’s a step forward but I see a few flaws.

    The Northgate one doesn’t show all the routes, so I was looking for the next 347/348 and it was only showing some other routes. The wall schedules were on the other side of the transit center where I couldn’t see whether my bus was approaching. There need to be more wall schedules, more displays, or more routes on the existing displays.

    The dichotomy of near-arrivals appearing as “5 minutes” and less-near arrivals as “1:02” is a bit confusing and takes longer to process. What I really want to know is when all routes will be coming, not that the 20 will come “in 5 minutes” and “at 1:02”, and maybe another route that won’t come for ten minutes will be displayed after that or maybe it won’t.

    1. The arrival sign at 45th & Roosevelt has been stuck displaying trips from June 24 since (presumably) June 24, so I would feel lucky if the signs worked at all…

    2. Yes Mike!! I made the exact same observation when I was there last night. I emailed ST about it. Out of the four bays that are there, I believe there’s only two printed schedules. And the ones that are there are an inconvenient locations.

      As for the real-time displays, I don’t believe any of them are working anywhere. The ones at Northgate, Roosevelt and the older displays along NW Market were providing erroneous info.

  6. My spouse and I recently returned from a trip to NY to take care of some family matters and to check on a property I own. We decided to get a Covid-19 test once we got back and went to a drive-thru testing site being run by the Snohomish County Health Dept. at the Ash Way Park and Ride site*. I’ve been to this location multiple times to catch a ST 512 bus but I’ve never actually parked here before (as I just got dropped off). I guess I never realized until now just how big this particular site is. We had to drive around all the cones and empty parking spaces to reach the area where the actual testing site was set up and that’s when I got curious enough to look up the numbers. WSDOT/CT has over 1,000 parking spaces here. I had been thinking it was half that number.

    The 2019 data supplied by PSRC indicates that this P&R lot is at capacity with a 100%+ utilization rate. So, I was wondering if any STB readers use this particular location on a regular basis and, if so, have they ever had issues getting a space pre-pandemic.


    *Info from CT regarding SnoCo Health Dept.’s drive-thru Covid-19 testing site. Note: The hours are currently Fri, Sat and Sun from 9am to 4pm.

    1. My friend uses Ash Way all the time but she walks or gets dropped of so she wouldn’t know about the parking situation. I’ve only been there a couple times.

    2. I have used Ash Way to carpool with people to hikes north of Seattle. Nowhere near full, but then again, this was the weekend.

    3. Yes! The park & ride would fill by 630-7a. There was a bus departing to downtown, UW and Bellevue every 5 min.. CT invested in service to/from a park and ride down the street (Swamp Creek) but it never really took off. Today, the park & ride usually fills to about 80% WITH the reduced COVID testing capacity. If the test site was there, the park & rise would prolly be around 30%.

      Sidenote: same goes for LTC even with more than half the capacity cut due to Link construction.

      1. Thanks for your feedback. The 2020 version of the report I linked to in my comment gave the utilization rate at 41% for the Ash Way P&R. Perhaps 2021 has been similar.

  7. I got a nice aerial tour this morning of the Federal Way Link expansion as the plane I was on took off from SeaTac. Nearly the entire route was clearly visible, even though the tracks aren’t in place yet. Didn’t take more than a quick eyeball peak out the plane window to see that there would have been a much better walkshed had the train just stayed on SR-99, rather than cutting over to I-5.

    1. That was the plan initially, but some of the businesses got antsy about the possibility of construction for multiple years along 99. The only place I see really benefiting is the area around Highline College and Federal Way TC

    2. The main reason ST chose I-5 is Federal Way and Des Moines were against 99. (Kent was for it.) Federal Way was worried that 99 would increase travel time or costs and delay the opening, which Federal Way has been waiting for for twenty years and voted for ST1 and ST2 to facilitate. Never mind that ST’s studies said travel time and cost would be identical on either 99 or I-5.

      Des Moines said 99 south of 240th should keep its auto-oriented character, because that provided inexpensive storefronts for immigrant startups to establish themselves in. Never mind that that auto-oriented character severely limits the number of people who can live in Des Moines and makes the businesses hard to walk to and makes the area into a hellhole people try to avoid.

      99 could also have allowed a station at 216th, where there’s already increasing density.

    3. Both Federal Way and KDM Stations are not adjacent to I-5. There are other wide highways (320th, 99, KDM/516) that are going to be difficult to cross at both stations and those also take a wide ribbon of land. I’m not so bothered about those stations.

      272nd I feel differently about. It is adjacent to an I-5 interchange that takes lots of land will be hard to reach by anything other than a car, and the site has no non-residential activity. This one seems much less strategic.

      It’s the tracks between stations that are next to I-5. In time, I think that decision will be more regretted when high speed rail starts searching for a corridor.

      1. Agree; the I5 alignment didn’t materially impact the FW or KDM station areas. The biggest drawback IMO is the potential infill stations that could have been with the 99 alignment (Mike mentions 216th).

        The 272nd station did result in a land swap with the school district to move the elementary school and consolidate the two major surface P&Rs in the area, both of which are a nice improvements. I look at 272nd like S Bellevue, a reasonable concession to P&Rs users that, once the garage is a sunk cost, doesn’t really hinder the network.

  8. I was surprised to learn in the book Titan, about the life of John D Rockefeller Sr, that he took public transit to work. He lived at West 54th street, where the MOMA now stands. (He donated his property for the museum). He took the IRT Sixth Avenue Elevated Line from his home to Standard Oil headquarters at 26 Broadway.

    1. I’m not surprised. He was 71 when the Model T began production. Streets were dirt or cobblestone and horse-drawn carriages moved slowly. Rails had a huge advantage back then.

  9. Kent/Des Moines TOD? Sound Transit will pretend to listen to us then just do whatever Seattle wants unless we really fight.

  10. According to the Seattle Times, Jessyn Farrell is on the Harrell transition team. Asking the horde, do we know if she was a Sam Zimbabwe supporter? e.g., Did they ever interact and work well together? (The horde, on another open thread, tended to support Zimbabwe keeping his job).

  11. On the Urbanist I found this quote from April 15th when she was running for Mayor:

    Farrell talked about accountability and setting goal management principles as mayor and then empowering the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to take the ball and run with it. She also said: “There’s good people at SDOT, full stop” and stopped short of saying a shakeup in managers and top executives is needed.

    1. Thanks. Sounds like Zimbabwe(or at least his top lieutenants if she suggests replacing him) may be safe. Sounds like no return to Kubly or bringing in a Rogoff.

      1. Kubley was a Murray anomaly. It was a payback/graft/etc. thing. From what little I’ve read Jessyn Farrell is pretty hard left transit but not a pay off campaign contribution supporter that got SDOT a bike share self promoter. She doesn’t have any real power but I think it’s good that Harrell is pulling expertise/opinion from a rich white woman from Larrelhurst that is pro transit. The big tent. Harrell is a smart guy (duh). But he’s got a really hard job. Sincerely, best of luck.

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