Over the weekend, the South Bellevue P&R inconspicuously reopened to the public after being closed for more than 4 years of East Link station construction. The new park-and-ride greatly expands capacity from the previous 500 some surface stalls to around 1500 spaces. Prior to its closure, the park-and-ride was a major source of commuter ridership for those coming from east via I-90 and south via 405.
East Link service itself is still some two years out but the City of Bellevue had prioritized early reopening of the park-and-ride. However, with ridership still hampered due to the pandemic, the garage is unlikely to see substantial use for now. With the reopening, routes 241, 249, 550, and 556 are also now using the new bus loop, sparing riders the unpleasant experience of having to wait on busy and pedestrian-unfriendly Bellevue Way.
Longer-time readers will remember that the location of the park-and-ride was in dispute when Bellevue bitterly clashed with Sound Transit over the alignment. There was a brief period of time when an alternative station location straddling I-90 was proposed. Although we would view picking between mega-garages as choosing the lesser of two evils, the existing site is far superior, in terms of pedestrian and transit accessibility.
With the park-and-ride reopening and live train testing finally commencing on the Bellevue-Overlake segment, glimpses of operational rail transit should plenty whet the appetite of Eastside transit riders for 2023.
166 Replies to “South Bellevue Park & Ride reopens to little fanfare”
As per “live train testing”, it sounds more like they are just doing the clearance check. Towing an LRV around behind a hi-railer isn’t really the same as a powered LRV operating on its own.
And you can tell it is a clearance check because of the orange sticks (they probably have a more technical term) attached to the LRV. If a stick makes contact with any part of the stationary structure then they fail the test.
The sticks are longest at the left and right upper crowns because that is where the dynamic motion of the LRV will result in the greatest reduction in clearance. You just can’t simulate dynamic motion by towing at walking speeds.
But hey, after the clearance checks they will start to do powered tests. They just need to finish the OCS first, and last I saw much of that wasn’t installed yet from IDS to MSS.
But progress is progress, and the opening of East Link isn’t that far off. East Link will be the biggest improvement in regional mobility since the opening of NG Link. I can’t wait to see NGS to IDS interlined with twice the number of trains per hour.
I saw an ST bus yesterday at S Bellevue P&R. I thought it was just using it for a layover but I guess it was live. It’s been nice not having the light active at the P&R.
When I read “live train testing” that implies using electrical power to move a rail vehicle to me. This will be a towed vehicle instead — so I would call it mere “rail vehicle track.testing”.
I’m waiting with a bit of holding my breath for the soon-happening Lake Washington Bridge test like this. The floating bridge engineering is what I consider the biggest risk to the line being successfully operated.
I must confess that the phrase “bus loop” triggers me. Powers forbid that they create a nice pedestrian crossing and a pleasant place to wait on the other side of the arterial, so that through-riders won’t forever have their trip extended by a pointless loop-de-loop in the middle of the route.
Or that a business or two be allowed to pop up on the other side of the street, where riders could grab a cup of their preferred beverage while waiting.
Bus loops are, via their very existence, pedestrian unfriendly, to the pedestrians already on the bus and not getting off there, and to the pedestrians who would be happy to stretch their legs and walk a minute to save a minute on their bus ride.
Parking garages are expensive. Bus loop-de-loops are expensive to operate and cost ridership. Pedestrian amenities, like shelters, wide sidewalks, and seats, are cheap and have almost no operating cost.
Yesterday, I rode the 550 through the South Bellevue Park and Ride bus loop. It accomplished nothing except to waste the time of everybody already on the bus. Exactly zero people got on or off there.
The need for the bus to detour goes back to this old-school thinking where people who drive and park are, by-definition, choice riders, and won’t stand for having to, god-forbid, wait at a traffic light to cross a street while walking between their car and the bus stop. And, delaying the captive riders to cater to them won’t reduce ridership because, well, they’re captive. I wish they would focus on simply running buses in a straight line. The bus shelter on the street is just fine.
Good news, at least this won’t be an issue anymore for the 550, once Link replaces it in two years. Although, it will continue to be an issue for other routes, such as the 554, forever.
The ST bus I saw was at the P&R around 5:30PM. I thought it was a layover because there was not a sole in sight anywhere (I couldn’t see inside the bus). There’s really no place for a bus to stop SB. NB you could pull out but then you’d need a light to get back into traffic. Overall the expense to torture the Link route to serve this P&R and build structured parking was a huge waste. It will only be used during peak hours because when people start commuting again it will be full before 8am and won’t start emptying out until around 5PM. The rest of the day all the buses will be making a useless loop and waiting at the traffic signal.
Ah, that is because the bus loop better serves transfers to/from Link. And that will be the priority going forward. Not thru buses.
It’s a design choice. Prioritize Link transfers? Or prioritize thru buses? They decided Link transfers are more important.
Yeah, but why can’t the 550 just use its existing stops on Bellevue Way. I totally get the bus loop for routes that will terminate at the station, but until the East Link restructure there’s no reason for the 550 to use the loop (unless perhaps the bus stops are temporarily closed due to station construction impacts?).
The maps clearly show a northbound bus stop on the street, just like there was before the station. I don’t see a southbound bus stop, but it’s at the edge of every ST Display Board map I could find so hopefully it is still there, untouched by the project.
By making ST Express 554 less tolerable to take between Eastgate and downtown Bellevue, they will get more people to transfer to the 2 Line for the portion of the journey between South Bellevue and downtown Bellevue to end the pain of the bus trip. I’m sure those riders will feel so prioritized.
Line 2 ridership maximized. Mission accomplished.
But, hey, its just painful until the 4 Line opens.
I’m sorry, but the transit landscape around here is changing. Change has come, and over the next 3 years even more change is coming. But it is counterproductive to view every change, no matter how small, through the lens of some sort of mode war.
Yes, the bus loop might add a little time for some riders, but it will also save a lot of time for many more riders. And for those thru riders who choose to stay on the bus and not transfer, they can still do that. They have that choice.
There is no grand conspiracy to inflate Link ridership numbers by forcing transfers and/or degrading bus service. Quite the contrary, there is only an effort to optimize service as provided by each mode. That is the whole point of things like Link expansion, bus restructures, and in some cases bus loops close coupled with intermodal stations.
I suspect ST got this one right, but come 2022 we will know for sure. Until then, the best we can all do is to embrace change. Because change is coming whether or not we are all onboard with it.
It is clear that the priority is serving park and ride users. Everything else is secondary.
It remains to be seen whether the through-routes (554 and 241) will loop through the station. It is quite possible they will do so, but only southbound (a compromise of sorts).
Worth considering is why someone would take the 554 in the first place. If they are in Issaquah or Eastgate and are headed to Seattle, they might as well take one of the buses from Mercer Island. From Issaquah to Redmond, it makes sense to just take the 269. The main reason to take the bus from the east is to get to downtown Bellevue, or some place along the way. You do have Bellevue Way riders headed to Seattle, so there is that. It is quite possible though, that a loop around the station makes things worse for most of the riders. Time will tell, of course, but if it does loop around, I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the riders just stay on the bus, given the relatively short distance to downtown Bellevue, and the fact that the bus serves more of it.
Bellevue Way moves fast enough, I don’t think transferring from the 554 to go to downtown Bellevue makes much sense.
Even for those that are transferring from Link in the southbound direction, I’m not convinced the detour really saves them time. They still have to wait for the light to cross Bellevue Way either way, it’s just a question of waiting for the light on the bus vs. as a pedestrian. The detour might make the transfer a bit more pleasant for people transferring, at the cost of the time of those who aren’t, but nobody actually saves time from this (*)
(*) Car drivers who no longer get stuck behind the bus stopping on the street save ~30 seconds, but that’s it. Transit riders save nothing, regardless of what trip they’re making.
The trunk detour will go away when Link replaces the 550 and can go straight to the P&R without detouring. After that the only route that will go past the P&R is coverage route, until RapidRide K comes. RapidRide K is deferred indefinitely and its alignment hasn’t been designed yet, so there’s at least a little hope it can avoid the loop. The precedents at TIB and Shoreline South are unpromising, but it will be a future set of politicians deciding it, in a different public climate. so maybe they can do what the ones before couldn’t.
According to the EastLink restructure plans, the 554 will be passing through south Bellevue park and ride as well.
I believe the 111 and 249 will be the only buses terminating there. The 554 will serve the station, and keep going. The 111 will run every half hour in the middle of the day, while the 249 will run ever hour. The 554 will run every 15 minutes. It is a similar ratio during rush hour. This means most of the buses will keep going. Likewise, I can only assume (given the frequency and the routes) that most of the riders will be on the 554 (not the other two buses).
If the 554 detours, it would be a waste of time. If the station area is set up so that it must, it is a flaw with the station. If ST decides to send the buses there, it is a flaw in the route. Hopefully the 554 just ignores the loop.
(meant to reply to Ross, so reposting)
The maps clearly show a northbound bus stop on the street, just like there was before the station. I don’t see a southbound bus stop, but it’s at the edge of every ST Display Board map I could find so hopefully it is still there, untouched by the project. I don’t think any bus ‘needs’ to detour because of the street design.
Feels like this should be a both/and – routes that terminate can use the bus loop, which is very helpful for bus operations (buses can idle; drivers can exit the vehicle, etc.) and for riders (could be a half dozen different routes boarding at the same time, so helpful to have them in different locations rather than lined up based upon random arrival times and passengers wandering around looking for the right bus), while through-route can use the same bus stops on Bellevue Way they have been using for decades.
could be a half dozen different routes boarding at the same time
Most likely there will be three. The 111 and 249 (infrequent buses) will use the loop and terminate there. Both are infrequent. The 554 should do as you say (stop along the street) since it will keep going (to downtown Bellevue or Issaquah). That bus is more frequent (running 10 minutes during rush hour, and 15 in the middle of the day).
226 and 203 are also proposed to terminate at S Bellevue station, but fair point, all those are infrequent. Looking at the Display Boards, there is more space set aside for bus layover than the bus stops themselves (bus stops at only 1/4 of the station footprint; NE bus stops, NW paratransit, SW kiss & ride, and SE pedestrians only), so I imagine KCM will find the station super useful as a place for bus layover.
Perhaps we can look at the underutilization of the bus bays as a good thing as that means most of the high frequency I90 express routes are instead using MI Station?
I also see S Bellevue as a great location for private routes, which would presumably use bus bays distinct from the KCM routes. Local shuttles, such as to T-Mobile’s campus or Snoqualmie Casino, and I90 intercity buses to Central/Eastern Washington, would be good uses if there are ‘excess’ bus bays.
226 and 203 are also proposed to terminate at S Bellevue station
Oh yeah, I missed those. In any event, these sorts of loops next to a station have trade-offs. On the plus side, a loop can provide a layover, as well as an easy place for the bus to turn around. I see a couple downsides to a bus loop:
1) Needless detours.
2) Wasted space.
As mentioned, a bus doesn’t have to use the loop, which means that the only potential flaw is using too much space. In this case, I don’t see them doing anything with it. I don’t think the locals would allow them to put in, say, a bunch of low income housing.
From a bus network standpoint, this doesn’t strike me as a necessary loop. There are buses that end there, but it is easy to imagine every bus continuing. In contrast, the Northgate Station is essentially a dead end. It could get by without a loop, but it would be messier.
Personally I think the layout at Roosevelt we’ve stumbled into is ideal (or close to it). There is a parking lot, and a place for the buses to turn around (and layover) but it is a few blocks from the station. The area right next to the station is all apartments or retail. Some of the transfers are awkward, but not to the point where you would gain anything by having the bus(es) detour, even if there was an easy way to do so. For example, the 67 and 73 don’t let you off right next to the station. One option is to get off north of 68th, cross Roosevelt, and walk down to the entrance at Roosevelt. Another is to get off south of 65th, and cross the street twice. It is easy to imagine a big loop next to the station, with buses detouring to serve it, but it wouldn’t be worth it. There are too many people taking those buses who are headed to the UW.
I suppose the bus layover and turnaround space could be nearby, but given the land use around the station, if the layover space was moved that pavement would most likely become a plaza or more kiss-in-ride spots, so I don’t thinks there is any real TOD opportunity that is being squandered, unlike an urban station like Roosevelt. ST or KCM would need to go acquire land elsewhere to create layover space, so might as well use the land the public already owns?
Also, Bellevue Way is unique in that immediately south of the station it is functionally the freeway onramp, not a local street. I suppose a bus could use 112th and 113th to turnaround, but looping through the station will be faster. In the East Link restructure posts, I strongly advocated that any route serving S Bellevue should terminate there because of the immense congestion in that area (and complete lack of bus priority on local streets) meant that I thought routes would be far more reliable and resilient if they terminated at S Bellevue rather than traveled onward.
So yes, if a route (like the 554) does not terminate at the station, it shouldn’t use the loop, but I think the existence of the layover space and the decidedly non-urban local environment strongly supports most routes terminating at the station, using the loop to do the necessary U-turn and leveraging the layover space for rest and recovery.
This is somewhat analogous to 147th, where the Stride route could go onwards to Aurora and perhaps Shoreline CC as a terminus, but the existence of a bus loop and layover spaces at the Link station makes 147th a useful terminus for bus operations, but here at S Bellevue I think there is little lost by not through running any route past the station, boosting the argument to simply terminate routes here.
… at S Bellevue I think there is little lost by not through running any route past the station
I disagree. Clearly there are corridors on both ends that need serving, and both Metro and ST agree with that. The only question is whether there is too much of an imbalance. I don’t think there is. This is not like Mercer Island.
There are three reasons the 554 goes by South Bellevue Station:
1) Serve Bellevue Way
2) Provide a one-seat ride to downtown Bellevue
3) Connect to Link
The third can be achieved just as well, if not better by simply continuing on I-90 to Mercer Island. But someone has to serve Bellevue Way, and ST decided to do so.
But what if they didn’t? The various buses that terminate there would simply keep going, and backfill service on Bellevue Way. It would take a little work (to coordinate the routes) but not much.
This would be quite plausible if … they could do something useful with that property. As I wrote in my first comment (and you repeated) that is highly unlikely. This may be a waste of space, but the space was going to be wasted either way. There is no way the neighborhood was going to let them develop the area next to the station — you might as well make it a loop, and allow the bus agencies to take advantage of it.
Bellevue Way has a lot of apartments; it’s one of the areas in Bellevue that most needs a bus. And ST has implicitly promised a bus there since the 550 was created in the 1990s. And it allows the 554 to serve both the closest Link station to Seattle and downtown Bellevue.
I’d forgotten about the 554 when I said there would be only coverage routes on Bellevue Way. That was from earlier Metro plans, when it was thought the 554 would terminate at either South Bellevue or Mercer Island. ST’s proposal to have a 554 extension replace the 550’s Bellevue Way segment was new this fall.
Please clarify, the 554 will not be going to S Bellevue until after East Link is in service, right? And then it will force a transfer for DT riders there instead continuing as present to MI. I guess it’s a coin toss as to which one is faster (depends on traffic) but continuing to BTC on Bellevue Way is a head scratcher. If there’s a need for more bus service on Bellevue Way then it seems that should be Metro.
The new route for the 554 when East Link opens was a bit of a shock, except it accepts the reality more and more eastside workers are going to work in Bellevue.
The 554 needs to continue onto the BTC because as Ross has pointed out that is its intended destination, not East Link, and the BTC is one or two blocks from the action in Bellevue.
People on the 554 will be going to Bellevue, not Seattle, and if they are heading from areas east of I-90 to Bellevue from park and rides that is effectively a one seat transit ride, which they will do if the destination is the BTC and downtown Bellevue. If their trip is to Seattle they won’t do that because it is another transfer and seat, and will either drive to the S. Bellevue park and ride to catch East Link, drive to work, or demand express buses.
Mercer Island will be almost exclusively a peak commuter intercept, but with 15 minute headways to different park and rides IIRC, when it was anticipated in 2017 (when it was expanded upon by ST and Metro) to be the main intercept because East Link was predicated on cross lake ridership.
Right now the only real issue in the litigation between MI and ST is over the bus layover area on N. Mercer Way. The intensity of the intercept under the restructure is less than MI offered, and can be accommodated without drop offs on the north side of N. Mercer Way, except driver layovers need drop offs on the north side of NMW.
For these reasons I think most commuters coming from Seattle will take East Link to S. Bellevue to catch the 554 east, because that is what they did before, and it will be more frequent. Plus it gives them the option of taking East Link to the main 112th station to shop or dine in Bellevue (especially if there is an easy shuttle to the mall which there will be), and then back to the BTC station to catch the 554 back to Issaquah or their park and ride.
My guess is if ST considered terminating the 554 at East Link Bellevue would have something to say about that, because the entire eastside restructure is about making it easy for eastside workers to get to and work in Bellevue, but difficult to get to Seattle, which will attract large Seattle employers to open offices in Bellevue, which will be helped by eastside workers refusing to commute to or work in Seattle.
Why the surprise?
The 554 has no need to go to Seattle after Link opens. It’s one of the reasons light rail is being built.
Giving people a one-seat ride to some other location rather than transferring to light rail in the middle of nowhere is certainly preferable.
I’m with Bernie – Bellevue Way is absolutely an important corridor to serve, but I don’t think it should be serve by a route that is also an express on I90; it’s not a good fit in terms of reliability and operating patterns. It should be served by a local KCM route that is coming from the north and terminates at S Bellevue.
But if KCM truly is unable to provide any route on that corridor, 554 will be fine.
I’m with Bernie – Bellevue Way is absolutely an important corridor to serve, but I don’t think it should be serve by a route that is also an express on I90; it’s not a good fit in terms of reliability and operating patterns.
I would think service from Issaquah will be quite reliable.
The main issue I have with the proposed 554 is the mishmash of service to Issaquah. Metro will provide 15 minute service from Issaquah to Mercer Island, while ST will provide 15 minute service from Issaquah to South Bellevue. That is a lot of service (excessive in my mind) and yet outbound, it can’t possibly be combined. If you are coming from Seattle, you get 15 minute service, even though there are 8 buses an hour running between Link and your destination (Highlands). The only place where you can take advantage of that frequency is Eastgate to Issaquah.
If we had a lot of service hours, I wouldn’t mind it in the least. But we don’t, so I would rather see the bus go somewhere else. Going south would seem like the best choice. The bus could go to Factoria, and then split, with one bus becoming the 111, and the other bus the 240. That means the 111 would get off the freeway at Coal Creek and follow the 240 route from Factoria to Bellevue Way. Another alternative is to go to Eastgate (via the freeway) but then head north. That works, but it becomes a loop, which means that some trip pairs just wouldn’t happen. It would cross paths with the B (and other buses) that would provide for a much faster trip to downtown Bellevue. A third choice would be to just end at Eastgate. You give Issaquah riders a two-seat ride to downtown Bellevue, and retain the connection from Eastgate to Bellevue Way/downtown Bellevue. I would either do that, or go south.
A big part of the problem is that there are two different agencies doing exactly the same thing. It is tough to balance it. I don’t think ST can just give Metro money and them to plan the whole thing — they have to come up with routes they call their own. If they aren’t routes that Metro would run, or if the service pattern doesn’t match, it doesn’t save Metro that much money. But ST isn’t going to balance things out by taking over routes like the 249. They want signature routes — routes that are special. Either because they travel long distances, saving those riders a lot of time, or routes that carry lots of people. The 554 is the latter. It just doesn’t mesh very well with Metro planned. I would rather ST take over the 270 (a signature route, and well in keeping with their style) but for whatever reason, that didn’t happen.
FWIW, yesterday evening Bellevue Way SB was stopped all the way from the P&R up to where 112th branches off. Pre-Covid this was standard operating procedure. I remember there was supposed to be an HOV lane added SB as part of East Link construction but that didn’t happen. In the evening the only prayer of a hope for a bus returning to Issaquah from S Bellevue in a timely fashion is I-90 the whole way.
Ross, I think the idea is for Eastgate to have that high frequency service, so I don’t think staff would be keen on sending one of those routes elsewhere. If you don’t want that many service hours going all the way to Issaquah, then perhaps advocate for one of the routes to terminate at Eastgate TC?
perhaps advocate for one of the routes to terminate at Eastgate TC
I did that. That was my second choice. My first choice is to send the buses to Factoria.
Perhaps they could be combined. It is definitely awkward, but imagine the buses going to the Eastgate overpass (dropping off riders) then taking a right, and looping around on 36th (taking over the proposed 240). Eventually that splits, with the 111 being the other branch. Factoria riders have an awkward connection to Link (and downtown Bellevue), but the good frequency makes up for it. I also assume that the 240 from Eastgate is slower than the 554, which means that the main way Factoria riders get to downtown Bellevue is faster (and a lot more frequent).
This treats Eastgate as a major hub, which is quite reasonable. BCC is one of the biggest destinations on the East Side without a Link station. It might be the biggest, although there is competition from downtown Kirkland and Juanita. The proposed map has a lot of buses headed there from the north — all of which suggests a detour is worthy.
This would cause some other reshuffling. For example, this would replace the 240 south of Eastgate. The 240 would be truncated at Eastgate or combined with the 250. The latter sounds better, but now it is a bit long. Truncate it in Redmond, and have the 251 or 930 backfill Avondale. That means a one-seat ride from Bellevue College to downtown Kirkland. Nice.
Overall, that just seems better. Factoria gets much better service to Link, Eastgate and downtown Bellevue. Kirkland gets a one seat ride to BCC. Issaquah can still get to downtown Bellevue either by transferring in Mercer Island or at Eastgate. The former probably makes sense during rush hour (when traffic is heavy along Bellevue Way) while the latter makes sense the rest of the day. Overall, Issaquah loses out, but still has it pretty good. Riders of the 111 have a slower trip to South Bellevue, but gain a one-seat ride to Factoria and Eastgate (and better connections to various places north of Eastgate). You save quite a bit of service, which can be put into, say, making the 270 more frequent.
Of course none of that will happen, because it doesn’t fit the style of ST. If this was all Metro, I could see it. But not with the mix of agencies.
So East Link is opening in 2023 and Lynnwood Link in 2024? So East Link trains will terminate at Northgate for a year?
Correct, for just 13 months between scheduled East Link opening (June 2023) and Lynnwood opening (July 2024). But it could end up being the temporary terminus for a bit longer, since East Link is so far ahead of schedule (was 9 months of float, but is now 7). Current scheduled service dates are as follows :
East Link: June 30, 2023 (223 days float)
Lynnwood: July 17, 2024 (132 days float)
Downtown Redmond: November 19, 2024 (80 days float)
Federal Way: December 31, 2024 (148 days float)
How crazy would it be if ST opened Eastlink in Q4 2022? Probably wont happen, but a spring 2023 opening would be well-received by this group. Is the project still on or under budget?
The System Expansion Committee meeting this month had a briefing from the program manager that there was some issue with the thickness of the concrete (the more technical terms elude me now) on the tracks on the floating bridge redoing which will add 4 months to the substantial completion timeline of the floating bridge section. Since their planned “goal” is for July 2023, the person said that they were still on track for that. The pessimist in me sees that float all but disappear for the East Link project by the end of it.
It will be curious to see if ST embraces other early uses for the garage. Seahawk, Sounder or Husky game bus shuttles? Overnight parking for airport bus shuttles?
It’s so close to Mercer Island and Eastgate parking that it could also be replacement to enable partial or full closure of that parking if any rehab or reconfiguration is needed there.
With not much time left until East Link opens, it doesn’t seem that strategic to introduce other early uses. Still, it could be considered.
Bellevue college uses a similar sized garage for COVID testing
Ssh, don’t tell Daniel sports events are another trick to increase ridership numbers.
Of course, that was the intention all along. The purpose of high-capacity transit is to carry the volume of all-day, all-direction trips, and to robustly handle spikes without melting down: peak hours, game days, parades and demonstrations, bypassing a road closure or unusual gridlock, etc. Trains can do this more effectively than buses, serve more stations along the way without losing travel time, and can better handle periodic spikes and clear a large crowd, as its name high-capacity implies.
Buses could also have high capacity of course, if they have a dedicated right of way like Link, and if it goes directly to the stations rather than requiring getting off the freeway and going through turns and traffic lights, but the cost to build such robust ROW approaches the cost of rail. But buses don’t have as high capacity as rail because they can’t be linked together more than two or three. Link’s 4-car trains are really 8-car trains because each car is a pair of articulated cars.
I’m dubious that Stride will really live up to the name BRT, much less approach Link’s capacity. But it will be a substantial improvement in all its corridors, in both travel time, all-day frequency, and capacity. That should translate into higher ridership, because there’s probably latent ridership in these corridors that would appear if buses were more frequent and performed better. Given the latent demand, bad existing service, and low price of Stride, to me Stride 1/2/3 are the most important non-Seattle projects in ST3 alongside the Redmond and Federal Way extensions.
The hourly daytime/30 min peak frequency on the 535 Lynnwood – Bellevue is just sad. There ought to be some intermediate improvement between now and Stride, especially since Stride is de-prioritized in the realignment process.
The 30-minute headway on ST Express 535 is the intermediate improvement, just implemented with the October service change.
Thanks Brent. I didn’t realize they had done this. Good improvement for daytime service. Half hourly throughout the day is probably enough for now.
Seahawk, Sounder or Husky game bus shuttles?
That is essentially the same use though. Drive and take transit. I’m sure almost all of the people parking will take Link, but I can imagine someone taking a bus. Maybe you live a couple miles from there and get together every Friday night with someone who lives in the Highlands. Traffic sucks, and the bus will get you there (and back).
I could see it for hockey games, since that is a bit tricky to get to. Not sure if it is great for that though — I would think Eastlake and downtown Bellevue are better (for different reasons). Eastlake is a very big lot, and my guess is it won’t be as full as it used to be once Link opens.
As far a different use, hard to say. Farmer’s Market? Homeless shelter? Mushroom farm? I don’t know if anything makes sense, other than what asdf2 suggested — a space for dealing with a crisis of some sort.
Ross, my comment was intended to be about the time period between now and 2023 when East Link opens. Once East Link, certainly link will be better to use.
Lots of people take game-day buses from the P&Rs, both specials and regular routes like the 550. Otherwise those specials wouldn’t be there. The 550 pre-pandemic got to standing room only westbound on weekend game evenings.
By the way, I mentioned that when I took the 550 westbound on November 6th, a Saturday evening around 6pm, a half dozen people got on at the 4th & Bellevue Way stop, most of the double seats had somebody, and that may have been the time my friend and I couldn’t get seats together and had to sit next to other people.
The Seahawks dropped the Park and Ride Shuttle service several years ago,
For the Huskies games it is from the following Park and Ride lots, Eastgate, Houghton, Kingsgate, and South Kirkland. With the WSU game on the Friday after Thanksgiving there were will be a completely different shuttle service as different lots will be used and riders will have to purchase a charter bus pass in advance of the game. That will not be Metro buses but private charter buses instead. I remember some years ago for another Friday game when shuttle service was still being provided from the Northgate Transit Center it was private buses and they used a lot at the mall.
Jeff Pittman, private charter busses cannot legally use mass transit facilities for any reason, the only two current exceptions being certain Amazon shuttles in SLU and Microsoft shuttles on the East side. It is a violation of RCW 9.91.025, namely Section 1 Subsections (h), (m), and (p). Violations are criminal misdemeanors.
Then change the law to allow it.
AJ, why? Why should private charter organizations be allowed to make profit off of public infrastructure? Private enterprise has no business on mass transit property, all the way down to snack shacks and advertising, video or not.
Besides, it is a state law. I don’t think you are going to find the state happy to change their laws just because a couple of counties really really want them to.
A Joy, I’m not sure why you have a beef with private transportation. I will note that all private vehicles are allowed to park at South Bellevue, and drop off and pick up people there. I believe it’s only areas designated as public transit vehicles only that a private vehicle ban would apply — and maybe a ban on signage or sandwich boards.
Personally, I would rather that Link gets as many riders as possible — and we should try to accommodate as many modes of access as possible unless things get too crowded at a specific location or situation. Blanket private shuttle bans seem like badly misguided policy to me — created out of malice rather than desiring transit benefit.
Privately owned vehicles by the general public are permitted, yes. Vehicles owned by private, for profit companies are absolutely not permitted to park, pick up, or drop off passengers at mass transit facilities. I’ve researched this and fought to have facilities cleaned up from exactly this type of criminal behavior (specifically at Issaquah Park and Ride, TIBS, Sea-Tac Station, and UW Station), so I know what I am talking about. Metro and ST do not care, and you have to compel them to enforce the law. But it is 100% illegal, and transit officials will admit this to you.
What if the shuttles are free, A Joy?
Even Uber and Lyft vehicles would seem to be illegal under the application you describe. Those are also for-profit vehicles.
I can understand how some transit center parking garages can become free parking lots for private transportation services. However, the best solution to end that is simply to charge for parking using permits or collection methods.
Al S, Uber and Lyft skirt the law by using vehicles owned by members of the public. They should be illegal, absolutely. But they inhabit and exploit a very specific legal loophole.
It’s the other way around, public transit agencies have been prohibited from operating shuttles if a private company is willing to. That blocked Sounder shuttles for several years.
The argument about private sports shuttles using P&Rs misses the elephant in the room: those people aren’t driving SOVs all the way to the stadium and causing much more congestion there. That’s much more important than whether the shuttles are public or private. Weekdays the P&Rs are full of commuters and it may be necessary to limit private shuttles, but weekends almost all the P&R spaces are empty and would otherwise go unused if it weren’t for the shuttles, so why not? If the law prohibits them it should be adjusted.
I didn’t realize that by posting the information about the Husky football shuttles that I was going to open up a whole discussion on private charter buses using public facilities.
The shuttle service by the Huskies was a requirement from the city when the UW expanded the capacity of the stadium from around 58,000 to 75,000 some years ago and until recently more park and ride lots were included like Northgate and Federal Way but now it is just the 4 on the east side. The UW also contracts with Metro for additional bus service for game day from Ballard and Lake City on routes 44, 65 and 75 and before Link on route 43 from downtown. The UW pays for the cost of the shuttles and additional service.
The Seahawks dropped their shuttle service after the federal government disapproved of public transit vehicles being used for that purpose and the team contracted with a private bus company to provide the service instead but the fares were so much higher then the Metro shuttles resulting in low ridership. So after the government relented and again allowed Metro to provide the service the Seahawks decided to no longer provide the service and the subsidy that they had paying for it.
For both the Husky and Seahawks services the subsidies allowed Metro to break even and make a small profit.
my comment was intended to be about the time period between now and 2023 when East Link opens
Ah, OK, yeah, that makes a lot more sense. Yeah, it would definitely work as a shuttle location for Husky, Seahawk, Sounder and Mariner games until East Link opens.
Allowing private shuttles serve transit hubs, rather than some deserted parking lot serves a legitimate public purpose. Namely, it allows people without cars the ability to ride transit to get to the shuttle.
For instance, let’s suppose a ski resort wanted to operate a shuttle to a parking lot somewhere in Belleuve. South Bellevue P&R would be an excellent pick-up point for transit riders who live near stations elsewhere on the line, given Link’s high frequency and wide operating hours. But, if the ski bus isn’t allowed to use South Bellevue P&R, they have to find another parking lot somewhere else, probably one with much worse transit access. Now, the person who wants to ski, but doesn’t have a car, isn’t able to ride Link to the bus anymore, simply so public officials about feeling bad about a private company making use of a public park and ride. It just doesn’t make sense.
asdf2 makes a really good point. These P&R lots are sized for peak capacity. A weekend ski/board/tube/snowshoe bus would fill up a tiny fraction of the stalls available and as pointed out allow people w/o cars to access it. Sometimes you get back later (much later) than expected because of Pass closures; but Link would still be running. I’m not advocating for anything like Trail Head Direct which was a huge waste of transit dollars. This would be private funded buses going up to say Snoqualmie Pass. There used to be a ski train! I’d use it to Ski Patrol. Save the hard miles on the Subi and be able to relax/sleep instead of white knuckle jockeying with the sled haulers. And if I end up riding down in an ambulance with a patient I don’t have a car stuck up the hill.
“I didn’t realize that by posting the information about the Husky football shuttles that I was going to open up a whole discussion on private charter buses using public facilities.”
Well, I wouldn’t give commenter A Joy’s feedback a whole lot of thought anyway since he/she is completely off base. I’m not going to get into a whole back and forth with said commenter since I’ve had this same discussion previously with him/her. The statute this commenter has cited deals with personal code of conduct violations on or at transit facilities, which has nothing to do with the use of such facilities by unapproved and/or noncontracted public or private passenger transportation service providers.
The state does indeed have a transit code of conduct statute on the books that serves as the basis for local ordinances, which in turn would be utilized in issuance of an actual violation citation. The corresponding King County code can be found here:
Title 28 deals with the Metropolitan functions of King County*. In chapter 28.96, the transit code of conduct violations are stated, as well as the enforcement mechanisms:
“28.96 REGULATION OF CONDUCT ON TRANSIT PROPERTY
28.96.010 Civil infractions – misdemeanors.
II. PUBLIC COMMUNICATIONS ACTIVITIES
28.96.030 Transit vehicles and tunnel platform areas. 28.96.040 Tunnel mezzanine and plaza areas.
28.96.050 Other passenger facilities.
28.96.060 Letter of authorization.
28.96.070 Table endorsement: tunnel plaza and mezzanine levels only.
28.96.080 Sound amplification endorsement: tunnel plaza and mezzanine level only.
III. COMMERCIAL ACTIVITIES 28.96.210 Regulation of commercial activities on transit property.
28.96.220 Commercial parking within park and ride lots.
IV. SPECIAL EVENTS 28.96.310 Regulation of special events on tunnel property.
28.96.420 Immediate expulsion.
28.96.430 Suspension of use privileges.
28.96.440 Infractions – penalty. 28.96.450 Misdemeanors – penalty.
28.96.500 Alternative internal process for managing fare evasion.
28.96.610 Limitation of obligations.”
The civil infractions and misdemeanors for conduct violations largely mirror the state statute referenced earlier. Seattle has similar language on the books in its municipal code. Again, none of this is relevant to commenter A Joy’s objection to private shuttles or charter buses use of public transit facilities (such as a park and ride lot).
I’ll note two key provisions in the county code that are relevant:
“28.96.010 Civil infractions
A. The following actions are prohibited in, on or in relation to, all transit properties. For conduct not amounting to a violation of another applicable state or local law bearing a greater penalty or criminal sanction than is provided under this section, a person who commits one of the following acts in, on or in relation to transit property is guilty of a civil infraction to which chapter 7.80 RCW applies:
20. Using transit property, including, but not limited to, park and ride lots or garages, without paying a fee or obtaining a permit if a fee or permit is required for the use of such property.”
“III. COMMERCIAL ACTIVITIES
28.96.210 Regulation of commercial activities on transit property.
As part of its proprietary function as the provider of public transportation, the county seeks to generate revenue from the commercial use of transit vehicles, the tunnel and other passenger facilities to the extent such commercial activity is consistent with the security, safety, comfort and convenience of its passengers. Accordingly, all commercial activity is prohibited on transit property except as may be permitted by the county in a written permit, concession contract, license agreement, advertising agreement or other written agreement. Provided, however, posting of commercial literature in accordance with department regulations is permitted on kiosks or bulletin boards installed by the department for use by passengers and the general public for such purpose. (Ord. 11950 § 16, 1995).
28.96.220 Commercial parking within park and ride lots.
A. The county may permit the following types of commercial parking within park and ride lots:
1. For overflow parking for nearby business, except that the parking shall not be used to satisfy parking requirements under any land use or development code or other law or regulation; or
2. For customer parking for privately-operated passenger transportation services.
B. Permission under subsection A. of this section shall be granted by the county entering into licenses, leases or other contractual use agreements. The agreements shall include terms requiring payment based on consideration of these factors: 1. The fair market value of the use of transit property;
2. The actual costs incurred by the county in processing the request for use, in providing additional operation and maintenance of the park and ride lot and in administering the agreement; and
3. The existence of offsetting benefits that will directly support the county’s transit program.
C. Any such an agreement shall protect the primary purpose of the transit property through such means as time-of-day restrictions, and shall be terminable by the county in the event of increased demand by transit commuters for parking. The agreements shall provide that this determination shall be at the sole discretion of the county.
D. For each park and ride location at which such a use is authorized, the Metro transit department shall post a public notice advising transit commuters how to comment to the department management regarding the effect on availability of transit commuter parking.
E. Any such an agreement shall be consistent with state, county and municipal law and applicable agreements with other agencies, including, but not limited to, the Federal Transit Administration, Sound Transit and the Washington state Department of Transportation. (Ord. 18777 § 43, 2018: Ord. 18635 § 36, 2017: Ord. 16770 § 4, 2010).
The bottom line on all of this is that the jurisdictions that operate the public transit facilities ultimately control the use of said facilities, which includes allowing other private or public passenger transportation services to also utilize them upon a formal agreement between the parties.
Some suggested reading on a couple of related matters:
Oh, and for the record, charter bus services are regulated by the WA UTC.
*King County Metro is a metropolitan county transit agency that operates under chapter 35.58 RCW.
Tlsgwm, I am surprised I have to tell this to you, but the KCC and SMC cannot override the RCW. Something that is illegal under the RCW cannot be made legal anywhere in the state of Washington. That isn’t how the balance of powers between states, counties, and cities works, and is why the only exception is some federal buildings/locations like military bases
That said, according to the people I have spoken to at Sound Transit and Metro Transit, only Amazon and Microsoft have county/city level permissions to operate within mass transit facilities. In fact, according to Community Transit First Transit has neither sought nor obtained such permission. Amazon and Microsoft’s permits are not legal under state law, but they hold sufficient power in the region that the state and/or citizens are unable to compel ST or MT to enforce the law in this issue, unlike other, smaller violators.
“The bottom line on all of this is that the jurisdictions that operate the public transit facilities ultimately control the use of said facilities, which includes allowing other private or public passenger transportation services to also utilize them upon a formal agreement between the parties.”
Absolutely not. Every Park and Ride has a Code of Conduct posted that explicitly states the transit agency that has legal jurisdiction, and cites RCW 9.91.025 as the basis for that jurisdiction. Hell, it’s even posted inside the Link light rail cars.
As for the UTC, its own website disputes your assertion of its authority:
“Regulated Industries include electric, telecommunications, natural gas, water, and transportation. The commission regulates intrastate residential household movers, solid waste collection companies, private ferries, as well as the safety of charter buses, railroads, railroad crew transportation, and transportation for persons with special needs such as private, non-profit transportation providers.
Washington State law requires that utility and transportation rates must be reasonable to customers, giving regulated companies a chance to cover legitimate costs and earn a fair profit, so they can stay in business. What is fair to the company, and at the same time fair to the people and businesses it serves, is what the commission must decide many times over. Cases are heard in a formal, legal setting, with the commission hearing evidence from all sides before issuing a decision.”
It regulates charter bus safety and pricing. In no way does it involve itself in permitting private charter organizations to use public transit facilities.
As I stated in my comment above, I’m not going to engage in a back and forth on your complete misunderstanding of the RCW covering unlawful transit conduct. We’ve had this discussion previously and you are just as wrong now as you were previously.
Thanks Tlsgwm for your research and explanation using RCW explaining that private transit vehicles are allowed by permit and not universally banned. I suspected this all along. A broad ban seemed very illogical.
Agreed. I thought that it was a bit odd that Everett Station (unquestionably public transit infrastructure) features Greyhound and Amtrak ( unquestionably private companies) buses.
Glenn in Portland I have called CT in the past and had their transit police chase out the Greyhound busses parked at Everett Station. I can assure you it is illegal there too.
Long-distance intercity buses is another example of a type of service that would be most useful to the public if the connect at transit hubs, and artificial rules by the transit agencies preventing them from doing so should not stand in the way.
One good concrete example of this is the Amtrak Seattle->Vancouver bus. It has a stop in Richmond, on the way to Vancouver, but instead of stopping at the Bridgeport Skytrain Station, it stops at a random hotel, about a mile away. Great for people staying at that one hotel, but makes life more cumbersome for anyone wanting to use public transit to get anywhere else(*). Why it does this, I don’t know. Maybe money from the hotel, in exchange for the business? Maybe the route was set 50 years ago, before SkyTrain existed, and never moved, for reasons of intertia? Maybe old-school assumptions that everybody uses taxis, rather than public transit for the final connection, so SkyTrain doesn’t matter (which, to me, feels completely absurd; those who really want a taxi could catch a taxi just as easily from the SkyTrain station)? Or maybe Canada has arbitrary rules prohibiting privately operated buses from unloading passengers at SkyTrain stations? But, whichever it is, it’s quite annoying.
(*) Yes, the option does exist to stay on the bus to Pacific Central Station and connect to the SkyTrain there. But this requires fighting traffic all the way downtown, and if you have to get on the SkyTrain anyway, you’re not even saving a connection. This option also adds a ton of backtracking for those whose final destination is not all the way downtown.
Amtrak and Greyhound share the station in Bellingham. Amtrak is a private company about as much as the US Postal Service is. Interesting, just looking at prices it’s $13 Bham to Seattle but $15 Bham to Everett. Amtrak is only $19 which sounds like a great deal for a weekend junket. Only one train a day so I’d have to spend the night at my son’s house. Or, have to look into taking the Dog one way and the train the other. Another Page 2 travel story. Maybe instead of a heat dome I’ll have a mudslide ;-)
Amtrak is a private company with voting shares owned by the Department of Transportation and common stock owned by an assortment of private companies and individuals. The Amtrak here buses are operated by MTR Western, which is definitely a private company.
Amtrak, if not subsidized by the Federal Government would be gone in a NY minute. It’s 1984 double speak to claim Amtrak isn’t a government entity.
Jeebus, Mao, give it a break. If Metro, ST, ET and CT want to let private buses stop at their park-and-rides, what skin is it off your nose? I seriously doubt that they’d allow it if it increased their costs. It’s a public asset, and corporations are the biggest single group of taxpayers in the state.
You’re as bad in your prejudice against profit as Daniel is against shared community efforts.
Just because Amtrak has some certain shares owned by the federal government and receives a subsidy, doesn’t mean it isn’t a private company. As far as the law goes, they have to act like a private company with shareholders and not a government agency. If a law bans private companies from doing something but allows a public transit agency, then Amtrak is excluded because it is incorporated as a private company.
The public subsidy and ownership of voting shares has nothing to do with how the law applies to what they are and are not allowed to do.
@Tom Terrific, letting private businesses profit on public property is skin off of every citizen’s noses by its very nature. It’s not about costing the public more money. It’s about making undue profit off of a public asset. And I’m against that. All of it. Sidewalk cafe seating, closing roads for restaurant seating (bike/pedestrian pathways are a much better choice), taco trucks, even sandwich board signs. We give away far too much to private industry as it is. The last thing we should do is allow them to steal more.
“corporations are the biggest single group of taxpayers in the state.”
Sure, but not more than they take in other ways. Our internet infrastructure? Used by tech companies for more than they pay. Restaurants pay less than 1 month’s total parking for 1 month for a year long permit to use closed roads for their seating. Cafes pay even less. They pay nothing for the signs they put on the sidewalks, blocking wheelchair access and tying them to metal signs.
Businesses in the US are parasites. They never give more than they get. Private charters are no different. They’re designed to pull a private profit on the public dime. If they want to move people for money, they can build their own facilities.
“You’re as bad in your prejudice against profit as Daniel is against shared community efforts.”
I have nothing against profit, just rampant/excessive profit and profit at the cost of public infrastructure. Private for profit groups have already taken plenty from us. We don’t need to let them take more for free.
No need to give anything away. Charge market rate for private companies to use tax payer built transit facilities. The permit process is already in place. It’s like the ski areas that have special use permits for forest service land. That does come for free. The FS makes a bundle on it that is used to manage the rest of their land. Win, win.
not “does”, “doesn’t”. Sorry, should have done a better job of proof reading.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but it’s not “our internet infrastructure”. It’s all owned by various corporations who charge each other for using the various segments.
Yes, scientists working for the antecedent to today’s DARPA invented the protocol, but they long ago put it in the public domain. Nobody has any “free-speech rights” on the internet, and it can be “censored` to whatever degree the owners decide among themselves.
“Glenn in Portland I have called CT in the past and had their transit police chase out the Greyhound busses parked at Everett Station. I can assure you it is illegal there too.”
Lol. More nonsense. Aside from Sound Transit’s assets across the way, the park and ride properties around Everett Station are owned by the city of Everett and controlled by ET. Contacting CT makes little sense.
And here is the nail in the coffin for the whole premise behind this ridiculous argument, i.e., that private passenger transportation service providers are unilaterally prohibited from utilizing public transit facilities, specifically under RCW 9.91.025:
“Everett Transit may allow certain private transportation providers, as defined in ESB 5096 passed by the Washington State Legislature on 4/21/17, to use its park and ride facility during off-peak hours.”
“Upon receipt of the request, Everett Transit will confer with any partner agency which has an interest in the park and ride facility in question. Upon concurrence by said partner agency, Everett Transit will issue a letter of permission allowing the private transportation provider to use the park and ride facility during non-peak hours. Any fees associated with use of the park and ride will be determined at the time the request is received.”
You can read the full explanation here:
And speaking of the authorizing legislation referenced, i.e., ESB 5096, wouldn’t it be odd for the state to authorize regional mobility grant funds for this stated purpose if there was such an explicit prohibition as commenter A Joy’s alleges? (RQ) It doesn’t work that way and hence why there’s no conflict in law at issue here.
[Engrossed Senate Bill 5096] TRANSPORTATION BUDGET AN ACT Relating to transportation funding and appropriations; amending RCW 43.19.642, 46.20.745, 46.61.5054, 46.68.030, 46.68.060, 46.68.280, 46.68.290, 46.68.325, 47.29.170, 47.56.403, 47.56.876, 47.60.530, and 81.53.281; amending 2016 c 14 ss 102-104, 201-223, 301-311, 401-404, and 406-408 (uncodified); adding a new section to 2016 c 14 (uncodified); creating new sections; making appropriations and authorizing expenditures for capital improvements; providing an effective date; providing a contingent effective date; and declaring an emergency.”
Ch. 313, Sec. 220, part 5(b) reads as follows:
“5(b) In order to be eligible to receive a grant under (a)
[Ed. note: This is referencing appropriations for regional mobility grants.] of this subsection during the 2017-2019 fiscal biennium, a transit agency must establish a process for private transportation providers to apply for the use of park and ride facilities. For purposes of this subsection, (i) “private transportation provider” means: An auto transportation company regulated under chapter 81.68 RCW; a passenger charter carrier regulated under chapter 81.70 RCW, except marked or unmarked stretch limousines and stretch sport utility vehicles as defined under department of licensing rules; a private nonprofit transportation provider regulated under chapter 81.66 RCW; or a private employer transportation service provider; and (ii) “private employer transportation service” means regularly scheduled, fixed-route transportation service that is offered by an employer for the benefit of its employees.”
The legislative language can be found in session laws for 2017, volume 2, on pages 1213-1214 using this link:
Additionally, in subsequent (budget-related) legislative sessions, the state legislature has reauthorized the funding for this grant program maintaining the same language.
The garage was originally scheduled to open on Sept. 19, 2021 I believe. Pre-pandemic the idea was the use of the park and ride would give an estimate of ridership on East Link, especially cross lake, which could help with the restructure, and the logistics of such a busy light rail station.
But since the 550 is nearly empty today (and ridership was down 1/3 after it was removed from DSTT 1) it is impossible to determine from the 550 ridership on East Link, and the need for the park and ride. Plus now the 554 will access the S. Bellevue park and ride rather than Mercer Island, but the 554 is also empty. For the same reasons the Mercer Island park and ride is empty.
Pre-pandemic the eastside was all abuzz over capacity on East Link based on ST’s inflated ridership estimates, and what the congestion would be like at S. Bellevue Park and Ride with 1500 stalls and buses, plus East Link. Anyone familiar with this station pre-pandemic knows going south on Bellevue Way or anywhere on 405 from 4 to 7 was very, very slow, or going up SE 8th. According to WSDOT’s presentation to the Mercer Island council the $800 million redesign of 405 south of SE 8th will eliminate peak congestion, which seemed a bit farfetched pre-pandemic, but who knows post pandemic.
Today no one knows what kind of ridership will return, and there are several other factors affecting the S. Bellevue park and ride. One is whether commuters from Issaquah skip the feeder bus and drive directly to S. Bellevue, or whether Issaquah demands express peak buses to Seattle because riders object to the transfer or drive directly to Mercer Island or S. Bellevue, if they return at all. My guess is the S. Bellevue intercept will have much higher ridership than Mercer Island.
One obvious use of the park and ride in the meantime is for Bellevue shoppers and workers. The garage is free. Bellevue Square could easily run a shuttle back and forth (although right now there is ample free parking for shopping in downtown Bellevue), and I know pre-pandemic Bellevue workers would drive to the park and ride for free parking and catch a bus to downtown Bellevue or even walk. One of the big draws for downtown Bellevue is after work it is a very safe and vibrant place to dine, drink or shop. I agree with others game days could see high use.
My guess is even if ridership on East Link is much lower than estimated by ST the park and ride will likely be used to capacity post pandemic. One because commuters from Issaquah to Seattle will bypass the feeder bus and drive directly there (especially if they know there will be a parking spot), two people who work downtown Bellevue and don’t want to pay for work parking, three shoppers and diners in Bellevue.
Pretty much the same reason LFP designed its town center amendments around a parking garage, but then LFP is not Bellevue, and the N. King Co. subarea is not the East King Co. subarea. Politics is everything when it comes to Link.
It could turn out the parking garage gets more use than East Link. I think it was very wise for Bellevue to insist the park and ride be at S. Bellevue, because there are so many benefits to Bellevue other than East Link, which Bellevue insisted run along 112th because Bellevue never saw East Link as transformative for Bellevue.
The I-90 P&Rs were full pre-pandemic, especially the ones closer to Seattle, and people used to drive from one to another looking for a space. They drive from a P&R closer to Seattle to one further from Seattle or not directly on I-90; i.e., a less desirable one from their perspective. So if office commutes return, that will return. The additional spaces will get filled up, because they were already at capacity and turning people away, and those will be the cars that fill them first. The issue is not whether the spaces will be filled, but a values judgment whether the costs of the P&R are worth it, or the fact that plowing the same amount of money into feeders, local, and coverage service would serve more people and give more people more mobility choices. But that decision has been made, and it was for P&Rs. Although now the ST3 P&Rs are being deprioritized to last place in the construction schedule.
“One is whether commuters from Issaquah skip the feeder bus and drive directly to S. Bellevue, or whether Issaquah demands express peak buses to Seattle because riders object to the transfer.”
There are always people who will only take express routes and drive to P&Rs rather than taking a feeder or local route. But there are also people who will take feeders. There are also people who demand one-seat express rides to downtown Seattle rather than transferring to Link. Sometimes they get them, sometimes they don’t. ST probably won’t offer express buses to downtown, but Metro might. Metro’s long-range plan has all-day expresses on Federal Way-downtown, Auburn-Kent-downtown, and Renton-downtown. It doesn’t have any planned on I-90. The ones from the north were retained in U-Link, redirected to SLU and First Hill in Northgate Link, and are expected to disappear with Lynnwood Link.
Currently on I-90, ST Express provides baseline all-day service on the 554 and 550, and Metro supplements it peak hours with the 215-218. That can be seen as a supplement to address the peak demand that can’t fit into the 554/550, and an A/B stop pattern to compensate for peak congestion, and because entire busfuls are going to half the stops each. The 15 plays the same role with the D. The 15’s travel time compensates for the difference between the D’s peak and off-peak travel times, and serves the busfuls of people who can’t fit onto the D.
East Link is expected to absorb all that, and there are no Eastside-to-downtown routes in either ST’s or Metro’s plans. That could change if political pressure is large enough; it depends on boardmembers’ and councilmembers’ attitudes at the time. Sometimes Metro is bold on restructures and refuses to keep one-seat peak expresses, other times it’s timid and doesn’t. Who knows which way it will fall when East Link opens. But if people are more conscious that one-seat expresses would eat away at potential local routes, RapidRide upgrades, and feeders that could be provided instead, and that those services would make it easier to travel within the Eastside and make the Eastside more transit-oriented, they may push back against one-seat expresses. It just depends which political vision is stronger at the time.
Based on pre-pandemic eastside commuting, commuters driving to a park and ride will drive to a park and ride that directly serves their one seat ride, and to some extent allows some shopping afterwards.
That is why folks from Issaquah would drive to Mercer Island (and in the past to catch the 550 because it accessed the transit tunnel and was seen as safer). Studies show commuters will not take more than two seats to get anywhere, and seat number one is from your doorstep to the park and ride. So the next seat better be going to the rider’s ultimate destination.
Pre-pandemic ridership on Link was around 60% of ST’s estimates. I think it will be lower post pandemic. Some of that decline will be WFH, and some adding a transfer to the commute.
Commuters from Issaquah driving directly to the S. Bellevue Park and ride are not what Bellevue wants, and probably not what the Issaquah/Sammamish commuters want, which means not what their councils want. That is a lot of political power in a subarea with the money. No commuter is going to worry about whether an express bus (certainly to SLU or First Hill) degrades non-peak transit in east King Co., because so very few care about non-peak transit on the eastside anyway, or use it. If I mention transit at an eastside party people look at me like I am crazy or speaking Chinese (except for some reason virtually everyone has a negative opinion of ST).
When it comes to SLU look for the major employers like Amazon to offer employees a private shuttle from the eastside with a few stops along I-90, or to work in their eastside offices (or maybe Issaquah to fund a 630). From what I hear from commercial brokers Amazon is prioritizing its eastside offices over its Seattle offices, and right now there is an exodus of commercial tenants from Seattle, with more waiting for their leases to expire, which is reflected in the very few lease renewals despite very generous terms by landlords.
The good news is if an Issaquah/Sammamish commuter works in downtown Bellevue the 554 is their one seat ride. The system only breaks down and requires three seats if an eastside worker is commuting to Seattle. So the easiest way to solve this is to have eastside workers work on the eastside, although still driving to the 1500 stall S. Bellevue park and ride will be popular rather than driving to a park and ride to catch the 554 to work in Bellevue.
That is just how eastsiders think. Once in their car with a a cup of coffee and the radio on they are thinking about their ultimate destination, not a series of transit seats to get somewhere, which is why they like parking directly at their destination, if possible. It is very, very hard to get a car driver to think like a transit rider, and even transit riders like buses that go in a straight line with as few stops as possible.
“If I mention transit at an Eastside party, people look at me like I’m crazy” goes in the selection bias hall of Fame alongside Paulene Kael’s “I only know one person who voted for Nixon” quote
Somehow, Metro is proposing to continue Route 630, a transit van.
Not all Eastside commuters or South Bellevue P&R users come from Issaquah. Many come from the area between Bellevue Way/118th and Bellevue College and Somerset. So even if Issaquah residents don’t use it, others will take their place. The same if Issaquah residents don’t take Link, stop using transit, or change their job to an Eastside one: that gives more resources to increase transit in other areas. Those Issaquah riders may even end up taking the same 554 to Bellevue.
My guess is most Issaquah riders either drive to an Issaquah park and ride, or walk to an Issaquah bus. There are two reasons people use park and rides: parking at their destination is hard (or expensive) and traffic sucks. Well, traffic sucks from Issaquah to South Bellevue (or Mercer Island) and parking at their destination won’t get any easier.
Yes, this means that people will take a 3 seat downtown (with the first being a drive) but so be it. The alternatives are much worse. Driving in rush hour traffic is horrible. I used to work in Factoria, and hated my commute. I tried taking the bus, and it just took too long. Driving was just too stressful. Eventually I quit and took a job somewhere else. I would have loved to take a 3 seat ride of the type described. I’ve taken several 3 seat rides now that Northgate Link is open — the key is frequency. In this case, the first seat (driving) is essentially instantaneous. The third trip is very frequent (six minutes). That leaves only the bus, and the buses will be frequent as well (18 buses an hour from the Highlands). This means there is a minimal amount of waiting, even if it is a bit of a hassled to transfer. The alternatives are worse.
“Amen” to that! Why there are at least 50,000 Asian-Americans in the $127,233-138,447/year cohort. And don’t ignore the 8,500 AfricanAmericans in the $157,228-174,318 group! Wrap all that up with the 672,818 EuroAmericans in the 247,818-291,334 cohort and you have a sterling example of the American Melting Pot.
Cue the Star-Spangled Banner waving and a “High Flight” voiceover.
I rode the 550 yesterday, and it was not nearly empty. Most of the seats were full. This was around 10 AM.
This link has ridership on the 550 through first quarter 2021.
Ugly, ridership down 75% but they’re still spending the same amount of $$$. Cost per boarding has gone from just over $8 to almost $22. AT $44/day you could just give out vouchers and have people take UberLyfte or drive and pay to park DT.
580 Lakewood-Puallup down 89.7%. Weekday boardings @72 mean this bus is being run to serve 36 people. Makes Sounder North look like the prize pig at the Fair. Bonney Lake-Summer serves half that many… really, there was ever express bus service between these two “urban centers”?
545 Redmond-Seattle down over 80%. Guessing that’s work from home and not going to bounce back.
ST could just cancel many of the routes and service would still be there via Metro.
“ridership down 75% but they’re still spending the same amount of $$$.”
That’s what happens. Both ST and Metro wanted to reduce Link and bus service even futher than they did but there was a lot of pushback from riders and cities and they relented, and federal grants filled the gap for several months. Lowering frequency from 15 minutes to 30 minutes or from 30 minutes to 60 minutes makes transit less viable for some trips: people can’t go when the bus goes, they have long transfer waits, and these affect essential workers who were the largest percent of remaining riders and disproportionately transit-dependent and we all need them to get to their jobs. So the cities and counties told the agencies to keep up all-day frequency even if it means taking money from other parts of their budget.
The 550 has gotten busier in the past month or two. That’s after the Q1 report. People are starting to go out more and returning to Eastside transit.
I’ve started taking the 226 the past few months when I can make the transfer from the 550, and it has more people on it than I expected too. I thought I’d be the only one on the bus but there’s usually 2-4 others.
The 550 article starts with “ST Express 550, connecting Bellevue to Seattle, is the highest ridership bus in the Sound Transit Express system.” An interesting thing happened during the pandemic. The 550 was the highest-ridership route for decades but in 2020 the 512 overtook it.
The 550 took a lot of service hits in 2017 and after, losing the South Bellevue P&R, Rainier freeway station, DSTT, and sometimes part or all of the Bellevue Way segment. That lost riders who were using it for those reasons. Then covid hit and Eastsiders and Eastside workers are disproportionately tech teleworkers, so they vanished from all Eastside transit. (The B, 226, 250, 255, 545, etc, all had much lower ridership than comparable routes in Seattle and South King County.)
But the 512 has been getting busier and busier for a decade and remained high throughout covid, because Snohomish-Seattle trips have more essential workers, more transit-dependent people, and more people willing to take transit because the north end’s geographical constraints and transit attitudes are not the same as the Eastside’s. My friend in north Lynnwood says that for the past year on Sundays when the schedule says every 30 minutes, it actually comes every 15-20 minutes, apparently to avoid overcrowding and make social distancing more feasible.
The 550 didn’t need that crowd relief or social distancing because it had so few riders, and it really runs every 30 minutes on Sundays.
Social distancing, that’s another reason ridership was so low and the per-passenger subsidy so high. Metro and ST were actively discouraging non-essential trips, and passing up stops if the bus had more than 8-16 people on it already, depending on the size of the bus. That’s a 25% capacity ceiling.
I’ll give you that but some reference on all of your claims would be good (i.e stop just making this up). Just because the Feds paid for useless service doesn’t mean it should continue (or even have ever been done).
Daniel, plastic can’t be “vibrant”. Its non-crystalline structure dampens out any rhythmic waves.
Not to mention that the “dancers” are geeks and MOTU’s, so the motions aren’t that rhythmic anyway. There’s that to consider, for sure.
But, raelly, I do so love how you personalize “Bellevue”. You talk about him like he’s an old friend. How long have you been close?
I’d love to know where this vibrancy in Bellevue is located.
I visited it twice in 2010 and 2011, but found there was more vibrancy, not to mention recreational opportunities, in Magnolia village. The downtown park with its fountain was kinda nifty, but had maybe 5 other people in it. I found one Indian place near the transit center that was open, and other than watching the buses arrive and depart and their food it didn’t offer much. Plus, there are a number of places in Magnolia you can cross the street without people trying to kill you, which was not my experience in Bellevue.
The slough had a few trails that were ok-ish, but nothing compared to Discovery Park, and there didn’t seem to be any wintering birds there, and the view was of the freeway interchange. It did have a huge amount of traffic noise though, if that’s your thing.
I know I went up to the botanic garden as I remember distinctly the tangle of dangerous intersections required to get back to the transit center, but somehow the garden didn’t make much of an impression as I can’t remember a thing about them.
So, I never went back to the east side, as it seemed quite an effort to get there without any particular points of interest.
Tom, I know you think MOTU’s is a clever phrase (Masters Of the Universe) but you and Glenn miss the entire point: Metro and ST can’t afford to make value judgements about their riders. They simply need to identify where those riders want to live, work and play, and figure out how to get them there within their budgets. It gets trickier when those riders begin to change their decisions, like moving their office from Seattle to Bellevue, which then requires an entire restructure of eastside transit. Metro and ST don’t care if Glenn visited Bellevue in 2010 or 2011.
Plus I don’t know if you and Glenn understand this, but: 1. there are more MOTU’s in downtown Seattle than downtown Bellevue (although they may live on the eastside); and 2. MOTU’s don’t ride transit.
I am guessing you and Glenn have never worked in or run a retail store or restaurant. These folks also can’t afford to make value judgements about their customers because they don’t live on government assistance. MOTU’s are highly valued customers. People who ride transit no so much, although they tend to disparage those who actually pay for transit.
2011? Lol. That’s like saying there’s nothing going on in South Lake Union because you walked around there 9 years ago.
The Bellevue botanical gardens are excellent when there are Christmas lights. If I had to pick one Bellevue park, I’d recommend Weowna.
I like most Seattle parks but I find Discovery park highly overrated; the lighthouse is nice but most of the trails are decidedly nondescript, which I think underscore the fact that much of this is subjective preference. I know it’s difficult for some on this blog to understand, but there are tens of thousands of people who choose to live on the eastside simply because they like it better and they don’t harbor some secrete hatred or jealousy of Seattle.
Which is also why the DT claims that Bellevue offers a “better urban experience” are quite silly. Better than what? Better in what way?
In any event, it would be interesting to know where to go when visiting Bellevue to experience this urbanism.
I’m not surprised someone from Portland prefers Magnolia over Bellevue.
Sam, I was born and raised in the Puget Sound Region. Magnolia is orders of magnitude better than Bellevue. Any part of Seattle is orders of magnitude better than any part of Bellevue.
Bellevue is an affluent suburb with those kinds of amenities. The vibrancy is people in the malls and upscale bars, and occasionally walking on the sidewalk but not very often. And it’s clean and doesn’t have tents or punkers or socialist demonstrations. (Of course there are punk rockers in Bellevue, there’s just so few of them they’re hard to notice.) Some people prefer that kind of atmosphere, and those are the ones who say Bellevue is better.
Others prefer to see lots of pedestrians walking around, and a wider variety of cultural expression, and pedestrian-friendly buildings, and a lot of people using transit. That’s more important to them than whether the ground isn’t clean enough or there’s a problem with tents on a few blocks.
The Bellevue park was busy November 5th when I visited. A lot of people were dressed up so they may have come from a wedding party. The park was recently completed so the moat makes an entire circle, there’s an extensive children’s play area on the south side, and the northeast corner (4th & Bellevue Way) has a new entrance with a water wall like Westlake’s. There’s a larger water wall near the play area, There’s a pool that’s turned into a covered ice skating rink in December. If you stand at the south end of the park and look north, the moat and the design of the north wall and staircase look vaguely like a medieval castle. And the eastern edge has a woodsy garden strip. The park was originally the site of a high school and school administration buildings. Parts of those building foundations are still there and incorporated into the park lawn, and there’s an archway commemerating the schools. (It looks old and authentic, but the date range on it couldn’t have been original; it must have been added later. The dates are something like the 1940s to 1980s. But there was no school there when I went to Bellevue High in the early 80s.)
The Bellevue Botanical Gardens are an easy walk from RapidRide B. Get off at 124th and walk south eight blocks to Main Street, and west to the entrance. Both 124th and Main are quiet residential streets. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s or thereabouts there’s a nightly exhibit called Garden d’Lights. Volunteers spend the entire year making sculptures out of strings of colored Christmas lights. There’s a red spider, a green frog, a blue river, a yellow corn field/rabbit thing or something, and dozens of other animals that change from year to year. The exhibit has won awards and is worth seeing. It was suspended last year but back this year. You have to buy tickets online in advance.
Also at 124th & Main is an entrance to Kelsey Creek Park. Go south through the sports fields to the trailhead. It’s like a large greenbelt, part of it forested, and the creek, and in one place a former farm. The hardest part is not getting lost in it; I don’t know my way around. To get directly to the farm you have to drive from the east on a maze of residential streets. I went through the park from the 124th entrance and ended up at a western exit. I didn’t know where I was, but trusting that the street would go somewhere, and knowing that downtown Bellevue and 405 were a mile west and downhill, and NE 8th Street was a half dozen blocks north, and the house/street numbers decrease going west and increase going north, I found my way to civilization.
Another good Bellevue walk is through the Bellefields Park. It’s been blocked by construction on 112th and around the South Bellevue P&R but eventually it will be usable again. Take the 271 to SE 8th Street & the Lake Hills Connector or walk from the transit center. Cross 405 on 8th and turn left 118th Ave SE (going south, west of 405). This area is horrible 1970s office towers like you’re in hell but keep going. On the right is Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center. The trailhead is either there or a bit further south. It quickly turns into woods, and a bit of a hill down there’s a waterfall. Continue through the woods and then the blueberry fields. The trail through the blueberry field is a causeway. The trail ends at South Bellevue P&R, so you can get on the 550 or future Link there. Access has been disrupted by construction the past few years, and the blueberries won’t be out until next summer, but it’s a great transit walk and will eventually be back.
I am guessing you and Glenn have never worked in or run a retail store or restaurant.
Really? I would take that bet. Care to comment guys? (I thought everyone worked at retail at some point).
Anyway, Bellevue is vibrant in a U-Village kind of way. Lots of people shopping, a lot of people walking around, almost everyone got there by car, some nice attempts at interesting architecture, but most of the retail is corporate schlock. OK, high-end schlock (a bit of an oxymoron I know). There is no character — nothing that makes it different than any other mall/auto centered place in America, or the rest of the world for that matter. But business is good, so in that sense, it is definitely vibrant.
When someone visits Seattle, and asks me where they should go, I always steer them away from the Space Needle. I send them to the International District, or Pike Place Market. Yes, the latter is cliche, but it is also authentic. You can get great food there, and wander around independent, local shops. Or Pioneer Square — it can be sleazy, but that comes and goes and besides, it is kind of interesting from an historic standpoint (it is the origin of the term “Skid Road” — which is an excellent book on Seattle, by the way).
I guess my point is, Bellevue is vibrant, but has little character. For example I find Burien has more character, let alone various neighborhoods in Seattle. To be fair, the folks in charge have done a good job of providing a decent amount of walking routes. This is mall-type walking, but it is still better than walking along the auto-centered streets. The downtown park is nice, and there are plenty of restaurants that pop up here and there. What is most striking is how it ends suddenly and dramatically in most directions. I remember someone I know, years ago talking about the sudden rise of skyscrapers in the area. “It is like Manhattan”, she said. Uh, no, sorry — not at all. It is, at its core, a car-based suburb, with all the drawbacks that entails.
By the way, it isn’t like Seattle doesn’t have similar areas, but it is very easy to walk from there to someplace a lot more interesting.
Bellevue is a very diverse city Mike. There is a significant difference between east and west Bellevue, and as I have pointed out before Bellevue is much less white than Seattle. If you want good Indian food you want east Bellevue. The difference in AMI between Seattle and Bellevue is $103,000 and $127,000, but the difference in AMI between east and west Bellevue is much greater than that (and technically excludes Medina).
The main reason most folks moved to the eastside was the schools, and suburban neighborhoods. Then it became quite popular with Asians. But at that time most commuted to work in Seattle because that is where most of the firms and businesses were, and that was the main purpose of transit.
The changes in Bellevue are recent, and have a lot to do with the situation in Seattle. Once businesses and eastside workers figured out they could open offices in Bellevue and not commute to Seattle Bellevue really exploded.
Kemper Freeman tells an interesting story about Bellevue. Before the new I-90 bridge there was an exit and entrance to Leschi just before the Mount Baker Tunnel. The top grossing restaurant in King Co. at that time was Daniels at Leschi, because eastsiders after paying a fortune for a baby sitter went there, because Bellevue was considered boring and suburban, and the trip to Daniels at Leschi was fast and safe, and the setting is quite pretty on the lake.
The new I-90 bridge eliminated the entrance and exit at Leschi and so the owner of Daniels figured he was ruined. Kemper told him why not open a Daniels in Bellevue, but the owner of Daniels said no one in Bellevue, after paying a fortune for a babysitter, is going to dine in Bellevue. At the time I agreed, and we had small kids and paid a fortune for a baby sitter.
Long story short he did open his restaurant in Bellevue, and it (or maybe the old Keg at Factoria) became the top grossing restaurant in King Co. According to Kemper that was when a light went off for Bellevue developers and businesses: all the money was on the eastside, but it was going to Seattle. ( I think this was around the time they tried to get an NBA franchise).
The recent issues in downtown Seattle (and the opening of Amazon on the eastside and continued growth of Microsoft and aging of that workforce) have given Bellevue a gift they never imagined. They don’t need to attract Seattle money to the eastside; they just need to keep eastside money on the eastside.
When I say Bellevue is much more vibrant than downtown Seattle I am speaking as someone who works in downtown Seattle five days/week, and once was part of that eastside group who only dined in Seattle if it was a fancy night out, and because the better restaurants were in Seattle, from Belltown (until it became too unsafe and the restaurants moved) to the market to even Pioneer Square. Now we never dine in Seattle today.
The streets of Seattle are pretty dead, but in Bellevue from the mall to old Main Street they are humming. The mall is packed, although I am not a big mall fan, but my wife and daughter are. There must be 50 restaurants in Lincoln Square north and south and the mall, many excellent, and the two or three best restaurants in King Co. are on Old Main Street.
I am not sure it will ever get to the point that Seattle couples after paying a fortune for a baby sitter will drive to Bellevue, but all Bellevue (and Kirkland, Redmond and Issaquah) needs is for eastside money to stay on the eastside, and to attract businesses employing eastsiders to move to the eastside.
Seattle is making it way too easy for Bellevue IMO, and to be honest I agree with some of your assessment and miss going into Seattle for arts or restaurants or a more funky vibe. But Seattle streets are not “funky” these days, they are dangerous, and if workers at the King Co. Courthouse need escorts to and from work that is a danger sign. The real problem for Seattle is the “Seattle is Dying” meme is becoming entrenched on the eastside, and will be very hard to change.
The folks who voted for Harrell and Davison go to Bellevue, either to work or dine, sometimes. I think part of what they were saying with their vote is this is bullshit, we don’t want to pay a fortune for a babysitter to drive to Bellevue to shop and dine, and it is crazy Bellevue is way more vibrant than Seattle.
I tend to agree. Living on the north end of Mercer Island and going to Seattle or Bellevue is pretty much the same distance wise, except Bellevue is safe, parking is free but more importantly obvious and easy (I don’t mind paying valet parking at the market if I felt safe walking around it and it was vibrant) and the place is hopping, and the one thing you don’t want to do is pay a fortune for a babysitter for your Saturday night and go someplace dead.
Seattle will never get eastsiders to move to Seattle, and in fact many more Seattle families are moving east for the same reasons as always, but now Seattle is not getting eastsiders to commute to Seattle to work, or to dine and shop. Already that is showing up in declining tax revenues in Seattle, although the Seattle council thinks the head tax will supplement the lost business and retail taxes, but my guess is those subject to the head tax will also migrate east.
What does this have to do with transit and land use. Well, the eastside is never going to upzone its residential neighborhoods, and transit use which was primarily for work commuting to Seattle is going to much less than anticipated, although the subarea has the money even with declining ridership, although I doubt any transit levy can pass in East King Co. today. But in the end transit is such a minor factor on the eastside whether it succeeds or not won’t create much of a stir, and if I were ST I would want that Bellevue shuttle to take the riders to downtown Bellevue.
Saffron Grill and Taste of India are better Indian fare than anything you’ll find in an east Bellevue restaurant. The good Indian food in Bellevue is the informal tiffin lunch program that operates out of local homes and brought directly to the software development teams.
“But Seattle streets are not “funky” these days, they are dangerous, and if workers at the King Co. Courthouse need escorts to and from work that is a danger sign.”
Again with the tired and stale narrative. I use the bus stop outside of the King County Courthouse all the time. Pioneer Square, specifically the exit right next to the big, scary, park is my most commonly used stop within Seattle City Limits. And as I am disabled, I am an easy mark. Yet nobody frightens or bothers me when I pass right by the encampment there.
Workers at the Courthouse want escorts to and from work. They need no such thing, however. Many more local citizens pass by that very location every day than the entire Courthouse employs, and they do so with no problems. It’s a vocal minority that has any issues with the area.
“Again with the tired and stale narrative. I use the bus stop outside of the King County Courthouse all the time. Pioneer Square, specifically the exit right next to the big, scary, park is my most commonly used stop within Seattle City Limits. And as I am disabled, I am an easy mark. Yet nobody frightens or bothers me when I pass right by the encampment there.”
“Workers at the Courthouse want escorts to and from work. They need no such thing, however. Many more local citizens pass by that very location every day than the entire Courthouse employs, and they do so with no problems. It’s a vocal minority that has any issues with the area.”
Tell Dow, not me A Joy. Too bad you are disabled from any and all work, or King Co. could hire you to work in the courthouse without an escort, except the only escorts are from the ferry terminal and King St. station because the courthouse workers (especially the women) are pussies and won’t take public transit to and from the courthouse.
Interestingly the Smith Tower just offered tenants escorts to their parking garages after work, (Weyerhaeuser has refused to reopen their new offices in Pioneer Square) because so many tenants are bailing because they can’t get their unreasonable employees to take transit to work and so now we have to subsidize parking, but The Smith Tower has no onsite underground parking so employees have to walk to their parking garages.
I will tell my eastside employees you told them to stop being pussies, and the bus stops on 2nd and 4th and Washington/Yesler are plenty safe, even for those who are totally disabled from any work.
Oh wait, we don’t have any eastside employees anymore because they won’t commute to Seattle and all got jobs on the eastside.
“I remember someone I know, years ago talking about the sudden rise of skyscrapers in the area. “It is like Manhattan”, she said. Uh, no, sorry — not at all. It is, at its core, a car-based suburb,”
It’s like Los Angeles: highrises with parking minimums. The garage entrances, wide streets to access them, and the general cartering to cars that comes with them, put an upper limit on the ability to be pedestrian-friendly. People follow suit by not walking as much there, because it’s further to walk to things and fewer other pedestrians.
“The real problem for Seattle is the “Seattle is Dying” meme is becoming entrenched on the eastside”
That meme has been around for fifty years.
“The streets of Seattle are pretty dead, but in Bellevue from the mall to old Main Street they are humming.”
Bullhucky. Pike Place Market is crowded again. In Pike-Pine and the few surrounding blocks, even if you exclude the Pike Place crowd and the street people, there are still more people walking around than there are on Bellevue Way between the mall and Main Street. Near Lake Union Park there are more pedestrians again, and in the park there’s a beach that gets a crowd. The waterfront has pedestrians too, although not as many as it could because there’s so much construction.
“I will tell my eastside employees you told them to stop being pussies…”
Of this I have little doubt. Fortunately those who know me are well aware I don’t use such misogynistic language, so your words will fall upon deaf ears when it comes to those whose opinions concerning me are relevant to my life. You see, I said nothing of the sort. I mentioned people worried about criminal activity, specifically from the homeless, are a vast minority. Because most people in the area understand that it is a minority of homeless individuals who are criminals, drug users, and/or mentally ill. Statistics and reality trump false narratives, even those pushed by Nextdoor, Fisher Broadcasting, and Sinclair Broadcast Group.
This isn’t anything new either. “Seattle is Dying” wasn’t Eric Johnson’s first anti-homeless hit piece documentary. Nor has he been content to just wring his hands in the Seattle region, bemoaning LA’s homeless problem despite not going there to research it in person. He’s been clutching these particular pearls long before it was a popular pass time. It’s only now that people have latched onto the lies and falsehoods, believing them to be gospel truth rather than an tired and long disproven axe grinding crusade.
“Bellevue Square could easily run a shuttle back and forth…”
No, it couldn’t. Private charters busses cannot legally use public mass transit facilities in this state.
A Joy, the shuttle stop could be along any street near the station under Bellevue’s jurisdiction. In fact, the city of Bellevue could fund the shuttle if necessary. Bellevue is very business oriented. For example, there are many places along 112th where a shuttle could go. And in fact Bellevue’s long range plan is to run a driverless electric shuttle from the light rail stations up NE 8th, down Bellevue Way to Mainstreet, back to 112th, back to the station. Bellevue just didn’t want surface rail near its core downtown and retail district.
My understanding is the 630 originating on Mercer Island will use existing transit stops near regional park and rides. I don’t hear any objections to that on Mercer Island. The 630 pre-pandemic when it ran to downtown Seattle was very popular, in part because we have almost no intra-Island bus service to reach our bus stop.
If you think the state is going to fight Bellevue over this you are mistaken. Plus in your own posts you have identified exceptions to the law you cite, so there is precedent.
If budgets are going to affect frequency, and ridership ever returns, buses are going to be packed. A city would be foolish to disallow private shuttles from using dedicated stops to help with the passenger flow at no cost to the city.
Obviously Bellevue made the conscious decision to locate light rail and the stations outside its retail core, but still both ST and Bellevue understand there needs to be mobility from the stations to the downtown core. At some point I think the riders of East Link will insist on some kind of shuttle.
You are citing a law no one will enforce if it is sanctioned by Bellevue, or any city.
I must say I find your frequent laissez-faire attitude towards the law curious, as you have admitted multiple times to being a lawyer. I suspect you would not take kindly to a judge/jury/prosecutor/whoever saying “Good luck getting us to enforce that law” during your proceedings.
As for enforcement, Bellevue has no say in that. The appropriate organization that one reports such issues to is the KCSO, specifically their transit division. I have spoken with them about this issue on dozens of occasions, and can assure they can compelled to do their jobs regardless of what the city of Bellevue might want.
A Joy, the first thing a lawyer learns is to be laissez faire about the law.
The second is to learn to think backwards: remedy and enforcement come first. You have cited a criminal statute. I am not a prosecutor.
I have taken several appeals to the GMHB over policies the Mercer Island council was taking I disagreed with, on my own nickel. But in this case, like many on this blog, I have no objection if employers or Bellevue want to run private shuttles on their own dime, or use ST property. Bellevue and the eastside subarea paid for that property, and Bellevue makes damn sure ST understands that.
Finally, if big dogs like Bellevue, Microsoft, Amazon, or Kemper Freeman, or even Mercer Island with the 630, want to have private shuttles use ST property that is not a fight I want, especially when my client is me, since no one I know is complaining. Bellevue has made it very clear it intends to run a shuttle system when East Link opens, and I would guess riders would like that shuttle to pick them up as close to the station as possible. Or is the goal to discourage use of East Link, because no one is taking East Link to get to the S. Bellevue station or 112th as their ultimate destination.
Since the violation is a misdemeanor, I highly doubt a Bellevue prosecutor who is overworked wants that fight (with their employer) either.
Now if you want to write a check for a $10,000 retainer I know some lawyers who can represent you as a kind of private attorney general, but my guess is if any good they would tell you it ain’t worth the fight, and any survey by East Link riders would probably state their number one choice is to have the shuttle stop as close to the train as possible, and for it to be free which it will be.
“Sam, I was born and raised in the Puget Sound Region. Magnolia is orders of magnitude better than Bellevue. Any part of Seattle is orders of magnitude better than any part of Bellevue.”
A Joy, like I told Tom, Metro and ST cannot design a transit system around your value judgements. Whether you prefer Magnolia over Bellevue (which is a huge and many zoned city) is irrelevant, especially considering Magnolia has very little commercial zoning and 22,000 total citizens, around 10% of whom take transit.
Transit needs to be dispassionate. Of course there is huge wealth and class envy among many transit riders over those who don’t ride transit, but the only metrics that matter to ST and Metro are where are those riders going, and when are they going. That determines coverage and frequency, which determines costs.
The reality is Link is not going to move folks from cars to transit, especially after the pandemic. Neither is Metro, which apparently was so bad we needed Link. Metro is pretty good at figuring out where the folks who ride transit live, work and play (with an 80% subsidy), and can change those routes like in the eastside restructure that is fundamentally different than what Metro and ST anticipated pre-pandemic, just two years ago.
ST’s course on the other hand is fixed, and ST had to make some huge assumptions when it designed Link. Some was cost oriented like running it along I-5, and much political like the route East Link takes. Very, very hard to estimate where eastside suburban transit riders will want to live and work when they mainly use cars except for peak work commutes.
The good news is even if they don’t use transit they subsidize your fare, 80% for Metro and 60% for ST, although as Bernie noted those subsidies today are much, much higher, and if the subsidy was applied to the fare they would cost over $10 each. And if disabled or senior you get an even bigger subsidy, sometimes 100%. So why so angry at the folks who pay for your transit, or the folks who want to run private shuttles to improve the system on their own nickel using ST property those same folks paid for through their subarea? ST doesn’t make any money, only takes it, and cities like Bellevue are keenly aware of that.
Weird. I know many lawyers, including some over at Perkins Coie. You are the first one who has ever said “the first thing a lawyer learns is to be laissez faire about the law.” to me.
But you are still confused about a few things. Misdemeanors IIRC do not include a mandatory court appearance. Only gross misdemeanors. Even then, the relevant court system is King County, not City of Bellevue.
And there is no need for me to retain any kind of private counsel. As I have mentioned before, I have experience getting this section of the RCW enforced at four transit facilities already. I highly doubt South Bellevue will be any different, as the city of Bellevue has no say or input on the matter. What they want is completely irrelevant to the KCSO.
“So why so angry at the folks who pay for your transit, or the folks who want to run private shuttles to improve the system on their own nickel using ST property those same folks paid for through their subarea?”
Because that is not what is happening. There is not any system improvement nor are those “improvements” on their own nickel. In the case of Bellevue Square shuttles, they will be paid for via increased prices at Bellevue Square retailers. In the case of sports shuttles, they used to charge an increased fare above and beyond standard mass transit fares for their use. Some other places simply add the fare to the price of the ticket they charge you for the sporting event. But in all cases, it is never on the private business’s dime. They charge the masses a quarter for the dime they put into the system. It is for profit, and it is making private profit on the public’s expense, both in terms of financing and in terms of misappropriated land use. If private businesses want to contribute to transit, they can buy their own land and build their own facilities. But they will never do that, because they are parasites, not symbiotes.
Ridership will end up being a lot more resilient than shoppership at the mall. The powers-that-be in Bellevue are looking increasingly prescient keeping the 2 Line far away from the mall. Maybe it will be replaced by a more economically reliable use, like tons of high-rise housing, some day?
As for slightly missed deadlines, can we put ST in charge of the 10-year Plan to End Homelessness?
The powers-that-be in Bellevue are looking increasingly prescient keeping the 2 Line far away from the mall.
Ha, no. There should be a stop on Bellevue Way, even if there is a mall there. East Main is a joke, which means that transit in Bellevue will forever be stunted by the lack of at least one station on Bellevue Way. Forcing all of the buses to zig-zag to the one downtown Bellevue station downtown is not good.
The Bellevue Mall superblock as the same zoning as the rest of downtown, so it is possible that the west side of Bellevue Way between 4th & 8th will look like the east side does now, with 3 floors of uninterrupted retail and then 20~30 story towers of apartments, hotels, and offices.
But generally I agree with Brent. The Mall is the edge of downtown; the urban core goes from 100th to the ERC, so East Link places 3 stations within the core, East Main, Downtown, and Wilburton. Simillar to how Seattle’s downtown has surged north during the Amazon boom, Bellevue’s CBD will surge east and cross 405.
The East Main station sacrifices good access to Bellevue Way for good access to 112th and 1116th, two streets that may have the same density of activity as Bellevue Way at the end of this decade. As much as the current station’s walkshed is hindered by 405 and Surrey Down’s zoning, a Bellevue Way station would have the Downtown Park within the walkshed and a hard drop off in activity west of 100th. ST was wise to choose to cheaper/easier alignment.
As for the zig-zagged bus routes, why not just let the 270 stay on Bellevue Way and terminate at S Bellevue? The 270 is all about connecting U-District to Bellevue CBD and providing a more direct route for trips that would require a backtrack to get to Link; if a rider wants to transfer to another bus route at the Bellevue TC to travel onwards, they can just take Link to cross the lake.
249 would probably still zig over to the Bellevue TC since it’s a local route and KCM would probably want to provide a 1-seat ride between those residential neighborhoods and the bus nexus at the TC, regardless of the location of other Link stations. So … aside from the 270, I don’t see any bus route impacted?
East Main (terrible name, there is no East Main and it’s west of 405) is a place holder. It will initially have ~0 ridership. But across the street is Bellevue’s Hotel District and they are clustered there because of zoning. I expect the old 2 story structures will be replaced in the next decade or two and “Wilburton” (aka the old Auto Row) has huge upzones in the City planning. Eventually the ‘Grand Esplanade’ will be built that is close to being a lid over 405. All this is at least one boom/bust cycle away.
One thought, the Red Lion could rent out parking for airport use and they could be (maybe are) a rental car hub. They’ve got acres of empty asphalt right now.
I can see Bell Square evolving into something like Water Tower Place in Chicago. The south and west sides would have stunning views with height restrictions in those directions unlikely to never change. But Kemper likes to wait for a bust and buy up half completed properties for pennies on the dollar.
Here is what’s planned for the southeast corner of Bellevue Square, on the corner of NE 4th and Bellevue Way. There’s a parking garage there now.
3/4 of the corners at 112th & Main have been upzoned for midrises. The fourth corner is the station and a mini-park and the tunnel portal. The one-story hotel will be gone in a few years.
The major projects PDF is a good summary; as long as Amazon doesn’t go bust, all of this will be built in this current business cycle. https://bellevuewa.gov/city-government/departments/development/development-activity
Immediately around East Main, the NE corner will “BelleVista Place” (two 17 one 15 story towers) and the NW corner “Broadstone Bellevue Gateway” (22 story tower). I haven’t seen a plan for Red Lion recently, but the Red Lion company sold the parcel to a developer several years ago, so likely redeveloped simillar to the other two corners. By the end of this decade, East Main will have more activity (jobs, housing) in a 10 minute walkshed than Northgate.
South of the Red Lion, here’s the vision:
Basically, they are aiming to replicate the built environment of Old Bellevue. In other words, East Main’s station area will look exactly like the station area for a theoretical Bellevue Way station.
“But Kemper likes to wait for a bust and buy up half completed properties for pennies on the dollar.” Except here he already owns all the relevant land. Sam’s link is the next phase of the gradual redevelopment of Kemper’s kingdom.
1. Bellevue Square (mall part) is not the popular destination it was even 10 years ago. I agree that walking to it is increasingly less important.
2. I think East Main is a terrible name. I think it reflects Bellevue’s general interest in being bland. Actually Bellevue Downtown is not that much better as other stations also are destined to be thought of as “downtown” as it grows to the east and south. Of course, changing a station name is more challenging at ST than in any other transit system (and they won’t change the name for 10 years) so not changing until at least 2033.
4. Developers aren’t stupid. Any height that gets allowed will be utilized. It reminds me of how Midtown Atlanta got very tall buildings once MARTA opened (tallest building in Georgia is across from North Station on a site which was low-rise and parking in 1985). Only Bellevue’s warped “values” (“we need to see Mt Rainier from City Hall”) hold the development potential back.
4. As the Line 4 transfer station, East Main station may get a massive overhaul. It’s not going to be easy to add a wye to Eastgate and Issaquah there. (This will build renewed interest in crossing Mercer Slough and putting the wye further south.)
they are aiming to replicate the built environment of Old Bellevue.
Although there’s not much of it left, I always thought Old Bellevue would have been a better name than East Main. Of course in 20 years this will be the closest station to the majority of the rebranded Wilburton neighborhood which will leave everyone wondering why the station on NE 8th isn’t called Hospital Station as it is on all of the planning and construction documents.
I would disagree on Al’s perception of Bellevue Mall. The reason the heart of Bellevue is at its western edge along Bellevue Way is in large part due to the mall. Before Bellevue there was the mall. Mall traffic declined during the early days of the pandemic but came back very quickly, at the same time Seattle was losing retail merchants permanently, and the decline of Seattle retail has of course greatly benefited Bellevue Mall. I don’t know a single eastside woman or girl who shops in Seattle anymore.
The mall also attracts the customers who then cross over into Lincoln Square North and South. Lincoln Square is not nearly the retail powerhouse the mall is, (although it does have movie theaters which are important for a retail/restaurant experience, and about 50 restaurants between the two), but it would have very little traffic without the mall across the street.
The question is whether a new development in The Spring Dist. or Wilburton can create its own mall/retail experience to compete with Bellevue Mall. Otherwise these new areas will simply become housing and commercial space with a few restaurants for lunch and maybe a drink after work. Past attempts to create a new mall in Bellevue like the Bravern have not been successful.
Some think East Link will lure retail shoppers to these areas, but most retail and mall owners are not big fans of public transit, and want the customer who drives and buys lots of stuff. Most eastside ridership on East Link will be work commuters, and I don’t know how many will want to exit a train to shop at retail. We certainly don’t expect many on Mercer Island due to the station or intercept.
One main reason for the success of Bellevue Mall is the acres of surface parking next to it. Freeman has made it explicitly clear he really doesn’t care what men think or want because men don’t buy anything. His main customers, women and girls, like surface parking next to the mall. For example, both Lincoln Square buildings have six stories of underground parking that is very easy to use because you don’t have to circle around each floor to descend to the next floor, but women don’t like underground parking, even next to an elevator. At the same time, the mall and Lincoln Square have huge amounts of underground retail parking that is free after 5 and on weekends, and that would be very expensive to replicate in The Spring Dist. or Wilburton. Plus don’t forget the thousands of Amazon employees who will be within walking distance of the mall and Lincoln Square.
My guess is Bellevue will run a shuttle from East Link stations to both Bellevue Way and Main St., because I have been to seminars in which Steve Marshall laid out the plans for the shuttle. Bellevue’s form of urbanism is drive to an obvious and free parking spot, and then walk to all the retail/restaurant density, which is how eastsiders think. Same urbanism many on this blog like, just a different mode to get there.
I think it will be very difficult for Wilburton or The Spring District to create a retail mall that can compete with Bellevue Square, but if anyone can do it it is Kemper Freeman, because I think the large anchor tenants will trust him, but his goal is to expand his mall and properties south along Bellevue Way (which makes sense with the increased housing and work density west of 405).
The ultimate goal is to link Old Main Street to the mall via the park and 4th, and Freeman’s current development plans at 4th and Bellevue Way highlight that plan. Plus I don’t know where a retail mall in The Spring Dist. or Wilburton can place the necessary surface parking, or free underground parking if it is subscribed for residential parking based on Bellevue’s minimum parking requirements with underground stalls running around $90,000 each today ($115,000 if ST is building it).
My guess is The Spring Dist. and Wilburton will end up mainly second class — but very expensive — residential and commercial space, with light retail and a few restaurants along the lobbies and maybe second floors since the code requires that, and Bellevue will probably figure out a shuttle to get them to Bellevue Way and the mall where the action is, or residents will just Uber. The high end property will stay west of 405, and will get more expensive the closer you get to Bellevue Way, because basically within three blocks east of Bellevue Way you have a great walkable retail/restaurant experience.
I know some on this blog hate Freeman, and malls in general, but if you look at the skyscrapers in Bellevue with Bellevue Mall (and Lincoln Squares) at the heart of it, and factor in the Amazon workers and probably even more Amazon space, you can bet Bellevue Mall will be the most popular and lucrative retail space in this region, by far.
DT, I didn’t say that it was unimportant. I merely said it is not as popular as it was 10 years ago. That’s a side effect observation of online shopping and waning interest in wandering through large enclosed malls — and is not a geographic observation.
East Main Station sits very close to the freeway. There are skinny blocks to the east, and then space taken up by the freeway. To the southwest there is single family homes, that will likely stay that way for a long time. That leaves the northwest, and much of that overlaps the walkshed of the downtown Bellevue Station. It is about a six minute walk between the two stations.
In contrast, it is about a 12 minute walk between 4th and Bellevue Way to the downtown station, which means essentially no overlap. There are skyscrapers along Bellevue Way, along with large apartment complexes. The mall isn’t great, but malls are being rebuilt all the time (see Northgate). The only weakness is the park, but that takes up a relatively small part of the walkshed. Unlike the freeway, it is pleasant, which means that people don’t hesitate to walk relatively long distances using it. Lots of people would make a walk like this: https://goo.gl/maps/zoVuarrz6CDhxDFw7. In contrast, very few will make this walk, even if it is redeveloped, and even though it takes the same amount of time: https://goo.gl/maps/NsaxsyGaGjGN7MUn8.
why not just let the 270 stay on Bellevue Way and terminate at S Bellevue
Because it needs to connect to the downtown Bellevue station. The 270 does more than go between the UW and downtown Bellevue. It also runs along Bellevue Way (or it will). It is about a 14 minute walk from the skyscraper at Bellevue Way and 10th to the station (https://goo.gl/maps/54TGTaq7cbm1o4SH8). That will be the only frequent bus making that (and a lot of other) connections. Sending those riders down to South Bellevue and then back up to Redmond (or wherever) wouldn’t work.
It would make sense to stay on Bellevue Way if there were station(s) on Bellevue Way. This is another fundamental weakness of the stops west of I-5. The East Main station really offers nothing from a network perspective. The only bus that is going to connect to it is the 202, a coverage bus. The corridor is weak, unlike Bellevue Way.
In every respect a station on Bellevue Way would be better than the one at East Main. It would get more riders, and allow for a much better transit network. Most importantly, it would lead to more transit use (and happier transit users).
I don’t know how you define “popular” Al. Certainly online shopping has affected many retail establishments, but the eastside population growth and incredible increase in housing and work density near the mall have resulted in increased mall traffic, and that does not yet include tens of thousands of Amazon employees who are high income. The decline in Seattle retail has also helped the mall. The mall and Lincoln Squares have also greatly expanded its restaurant offerings.
The key to retail (and restaurants) is retail/restaurant density. People looking to dine out or shop want many options without having to drive to each one. We have struggled with that on Mercer Island even though we have a town center next to I-90, and pre-pandemic a very busy bus stop between Seattle and the eastside, but no one ever got off to shop. This is downtown Seattle’s problem right now. There are just too few retail stores and restaurants surrounding the heart, which is/was Westlake Center, so the retail/restaurant scene is not really walkable.
Lincoln Square north was started because it was next to the mall (and Freeman purchased it during the economic downturn). Same with Lincoln Square south. Same with Amazon’s new towers. They want to be within walking distance of the retail/restaurant action, which is the mall and now Lincoln Squares. Amazon doesn’t want to have to recreate the retail/restaurant scene in its new towers, and I doubt developers in The Spring Dist. or Wilburton will attempt to compete with Bellevue Mall. They know commercial and residential, not retail.
It doesn’t matter how an Amazon employee gets to work, they want to be able to walk to lunch or after work shopping/dining without having to drive. With Bellevue’s huge blocks that means around 108th is the cut off, without some kind of shuttle, which is helped by the very safe streets. Each block east of Bellevue Way the property declines in value, because everyone wants to be able to walk to the retail hub. Get east of 405 and the value really goes down.
I just wish Seattle would take a cue from Bellevue’s zoning, and create a “mall” from the convention center to Pike Place Market that is safe, walkable, and retail/restaurant rich. Concentrate the retail and restaurants, especially if like right now there are too few in Seattle to create density.
You would need obvious and safe parking around this “mall” or promenade to complement transit and Link (although Bellevue is not based on Link at all), which was a key factor when Norm Rice revitalized this area with $2 parking. The loss of Macy’s however probably ended this dream, that supposedly was to begin with the development of the old Sam Israel property that goes from Pike to Pine, and 1st to 2nd, (along with the expansion of the convention center), but for some reason is still undeveloped. If Nordstrom leaves retail in that area will die, probably permanently, and Nordstrom is adamantly opposed to making Pine pedestrian only.
RossB, it’s as useless to speculate about moving an East Main station in Downtown Bellevue as it is is to speculate about moving the 520 bridge. It’s a done deal.
That said, station area development is as much a function of local land use regulation and real estate markets more than the current land uses. I don’t think Bellevue would have upzoned for taller buildings south of the Main Street corridor on Bellevue Way. I see the City much more likely to approve large tall redevelopments on 112th.
I’d agree that the Surrey Downs quadrant is a TOD opportunity missed. However, the same resistance would have encountered for sires more than 500 feet south of Main Street near Bellevue Way anyway.
I’d disagree that the blocks between 112th and 405 are “skinny”. The Hilton site across from the station by itself looks just as large and wide as many other large blocks in Downtown Bellevue, for example.
I would not be surprised if the Lexus building on Main east of 405 eventually becomes redeveloped into a tall building. There are plenty of towers on the opposite sides of a freeway in other cities. As long as there is a suitable pedestrian connection like a Main Street sidewalk, it’s not a major barrier to development.
People in Atlanta never thought so many buildings over 200 feet tall would ever get built in Midtown — but they did. The same thing could easily happen in Downtown Bellevue near all of its stations depending on height restrictions as the market and vision to build tall buildings there already exists.
To the extent that retail has to have parking, it would be better urbanism if the parking could at least be shared, rather than private lots reserved for each individual store. Bellevue Square does this within the realm of the mall itself, but you still can’t combine a trip between a store inside the mall and outside the mall without either getting back in the car to drive across the street or risking getting your car towed.
On the other side of 405, there’s some particularly bad design, as the streetscape actively discourages people from walking between the Home Depot, Best Buy, and REI to combine multiple stores into one shopping trip. I suppose the business owners like it this way because it prevents them from needing to bother policing their parking lots from people shopping elsewhere, but that line of thinking is very short sighted. Once you have to get back in your car to shop at the other store, it’s all too easy to just drive home and do the rest of the shopping another time, at which point, the rest of the shopping might happen somewhere else, or online through Amazon, or not at all if what you were buying wasn’t really all that important. In the long run, making it easy for people to walk from store to store should be good for business for everyone.
DT, Kemper Freeman is a savvy developer, right? The Lincoln Square projects are clearly an example of how retail is a lower proportion of building mass — and how the better market is to build east of Bellevue Way as opposed to the west parking areas of Bellevue Square. Consider that the walking distance between the east edge of Lincoln Square is almost as close to the Link station entrance as it is to the parking garage edge on the west side of Bellevue Square.
Al, Kemper Freeman has often moaned about the hundreds of millions of dollars he has tied up in surface parking west of the mall, but without that parking the mall fails, and so do Lincoln Square north and south. Kemper only bought Lincoln Square North when the original developer defaulted and Kemper got it for very cheap, which was way before housing costs in downtown Bellevue exploded. Still both Lincoln Square towers have massive amounts of parking, except it is underground, and women don’t like underground parking.
Like most mall owners Kemper is not a big fan of public transit. There is a reason East Link runs along 112th and 405. I am not even sure if ST had agreed to run East Link underground under Bellevue Way Freeman would have supported that, although IMO that was the best route. For example, would I walk to the Link station on Mercer Island if it stopped along Bellevue Way? Probably not if with my wife and parking is free, but definitely not if it stops on 112th, or even worse in The Spring Dist. or Wilburton. I used to work on 8th and 108th and with Bellevue’s huge blocks that was a long walk to the mall. From 112th to Bellevue Way that is a very long and steep walk.
The key distance to measure is from Bellevue Way east, not from Link west, to determine property values. I doubt very many owners or tenants in Lincoln Square take transit, or will take East Link, and that includes most of the high rises west of 405, although Link might get ridership to offices in The Spring District and Wilburton, especially for trips that begin on the eastside.
Bellevue’s development plans have very little to do with Link or transit. Since the agreement has always been to preserve the SFH neighborhoods bordering downtown Bellevue, Bellevue decided to massively upzone its commercially zoned space, in part to appease property owners with Bellevue’s very high parking requirements that must be 100% below grade.
Still IMO Bellevue Way and the mall will always be the highest value downtown property, which will decline as you go east, especially if they ever agree on the performing arts center on 110th and Bellevue on property Freeman donated, and is now up to $125 million in estimated cost, but from the old designs looked pretty spectacular. Bellevue plans to run a pretty frequent shuttle from the light rail stations to Bellevue Way, and hopes to have one of the first driverless, autonomous electric shuttle systems.
RossB, it’s as useless to speculate about moving an East Main station in Downtown Bellevue as it is is to speculate about moving the 520 bridge. It’s a done deal.
You are missing the point. Brent made the argument that it was a good thing we didn’t put the station by a mall. I was simply pointing that putting it next to the freeway is much worse. You are absolutely right — current use can change. But it is highly unlikely the freeway will go away, and you can’t ignore the fact that Bellevue Way has some very tall buildings, lots of housing, and no station within a ten minutes walk. This is a mistake that will forever haunt East Link, and Bellevue transit in general . No amount of mall hating or Pollyanna excitement over a building or two going up next to East Main will fix it. It isn’t as bad as skipping First Hill, but it was still a mistake.
RossB, while there are tall buildings on Bellevue Way, none exist south of SE 2nd Street — where a station parallel to East Main would have gone. To serve the BTC and allow for a curve, the next Link station south of BTC would have to be down at Main Street or further south.
Look, I get how Bellevue Downtown Station should be further west, like under the BTC or under 108th as a north-south station rather than where it is. That’s the “mistake” although it saved hundreds of billions.
However, if we are talking about station locations south of Main Street, 112th is clearly superior to Bellevue Way because nothing along Bellevue Way would realistically be upzoned to allow for taller buildings even if they were only as tall as the existing Hilton.. East Main station is on the south edge of Downtown and not in the middle of it.
“the Amazon workers and probably even more Amazon space, you can bet Bellevue Mall will be the most popular and lucrative retail space in this region”
Er, Amazon competes with malls, and Amazon employees may be more likely than average to buy on Amazon.
“I think East Main is a terrible name.”
It shows a lack of imagination. It’s not the main street in the region, or even the main street in Bellevue. And “East Main” is silly when it’s not east of anything and there’s no “West Main”. Of course “Westlake” has the same problem. “Old Bellevue” is a good idea. I don’t think many people would think “Old” is the center of town where they should get off or transfer.
“The only weakness is the park”
What? It’s Bellevue’s Central Park, the most central park in the Eastside besides Kirkland’s waterfront. American cities don’t have plazas like European cities, but a park like Bellevue’s kind of functions like one. Unlike golf courses, a multipurpose park is used by a wide variety of people, and people from all over go to the park. More could go if there are concerts and things there. A common outing is to shop, eat, and go to the park, and the park might be the first or last thing they go to before they step on the bus/train.
“I’d agree that the Surrey Downs quadrant is a TOD opportunity missed.”
If 75% of the walkshed is TOD, I’d call that a success.
“Basically, they are aiming to replicate the built environment of Old Bellevue. In other words, East Main’s station area will look exactly like the station area for a theoretical Bellevue Way station.”
Yaay! Old Bellevue’s Main Street is the most aesthetic and walkable place in the Eastside. When I say Bellevue should be more like Ballard or other Seattle neighborhoods, this is what I mean. I posted about my Main Street walk last year, and how some of the new buildings east of Bellevue Way are partly reminiscent of the aesthetics west of Bellevue Way, so they’re already off to a start. A station-area refurbishment like Old Bellevue would be welcome. It would partly compensate for putting the station so far from the pedestrian center. It may even shift the center a bit further east, if the buildings in between are attractive to a wide variety of people and interests.
RossB, while there are tall buildings on Bellevue Way, none exist south of SE 2nd Street
Looks pretty tall to me: https://goo.gl/maps/CYqsBv4wKicdCXGg9. I think that is over 20 stories.
a station parallel to East Main
Would not be in the midst of the skyscrapers on Bellevue Way. I get that. But it would be in the midst of all of the tall apartment buildings. Imagine a five minute walkshed from that station. Or, if you prefer, use this tool: https://tinyurl.com/wmufnw8p. Notice that it extends in all directions, and includes a ton of apartments, as well as skyscrapers, along with plenty of new construction nearby. The properties that aren’t developed (largely mini-malls) will surely be developed very soon, with or without a station. Now extend that out to a ten minute walkshed. Again, most of what you include is high density (residential or office space). You do abut the lake, but only at the edges (at the limits of where people would walk anyway). Notice that you still aren’t close to including the other station.
Now do the same thing with East Main. At ten minutes you include the other station, as well as much of the freeway, and a lot of the single family homes in the area. At five minutes it becomes tiny — stunted by the freeway. The only significant section is up towards the other station. East Main largely overlaps the other station, with much of its walkshed eaten up by the freeway or single family homes. Much of its measly ridership will simply be poached from the Downtown Bellevue Station. A station at Bellevue Way and Main doesn’t have any of those flaws. It is a long ways from the freeway, and doesn’t overlap the other station.
But that isn’t the only issue. As folks have pointed out, there will be a frequent bus coming from the UW to downtown Bellevue. It will be one of the more frequent bus serving Bellevue. It will run down Bellevue Way. If there was a station on Bellevue Way, it would run down Bellevue Way all the way to South Bellevue. It is possible there would be other buses going down Bellevue Way as well. I could see the B, for example, staying on 8th until Bellevue Way, and then just following the same path to South Bellevue.
From a network standpoint, this would be a dramatic improvement in transit mobility, both locally and regionally. You would give a lot more people a fast one seat ride to the UW, as well as along Bellevue Way. The latter doesn’t get enough attention. There are lots of apartments as well as offices and shops along Bellevue Way, and yet traveling along there is challenging. You can walk, but often it takes too long, and it isn’t exactly pleasant. You can take a bus, but that requires a transfer (unless you are lucky enough to catch the 249) as well as a detour back and forth. You might as well drive, even if you are only going a mile. The lack of a station west of Bellevue Transit Center (which is being moved east) limits the transit mobility of Bellevue.
Look, I get it. It is challenging to serve downtown Bellevue. But hugging the eastern edge of things — right next to the freeway — is a flaw. Cost was one factor, but I’m sure the desire to avoid automotive disruption (on Bellevue Way) played a big part as well. The only reason I brought up the issue is to point out that this is a failing in the system, not to second-guess the decision. First Hill station got rejected the first time because of fear (of cost overruns). It got rejected the second time because of costs. UW Station is poorly located because the UW was not very cooperative. Mount Baker Station is awful because it was cheaper to build it that way. All those were reasonable choices that had to be made — but they still show up as flaws with the system. Just like this.
That’s not SE 2nd St. That’s NE 2nd St Ross.
If we are talking about station locations south of Main Street, 112th is clearly superior to Bellevue Way because nothing along Bellevue Way would realistically be upzoned to allow for taller buildings even if they were only as tall as the existing Hilton. East Main station is on the south edge of Downtown and not in the middle of it.
I agree with the last sentence, but it misses my point. First of all, if the other station was at Main, then it wouldn’t make sense to add a station south of there. But if the other station was at 4th, I could see adding a station south of Main simply to pick up a lot of the existing apartments in the area. This would be a surface station (i. e. cheap). As I wrote, though, the street grid is terrible, so a lot of the potential riders couldn’t get to the station. Look at the walk to the high school (https://goo.gl/maps/mfunuQRMDs29WnNC6) or a nearby apartment (https://goo.gl/maps/Nfq5mL8MBQq1juNg6). I don’t think it could work. If you put it at 6th, you can’t access anything to the east (including the high school) and you are too far south anyway (overlapping single-family homes). If you put it at third, the only thing you can access to the east is the high school. That could work (although not especially well) but only if the other station is at 4th (or further north).
The best way to serve all of those apartments is with a frequent bus (or buses) running the length of Bellevue Way, connecting with a single station on Bellevue Way (preferably at 4th). That won’t happen.
As far as 112th goes (south of main) I don’t see how you are going to rezone anything to the west of it. That means half your ridership is gone. Except for some small clusters to the south, there aren’t any apartments over there — nothing but single family homes on very large lots (and a park). To the east it is a problem as well. Up north you are hemmed in by the freeway. Further south there is a lot of wetlands. I’m not sure how much you can build, and how much is grandfathered in. The only places with any potential are SE 8th and SE 15th. Neither seem especially promising. Even if you added some taller buildings, you wouldn’t get that many people, simply because so much of the land can’t be developed (as either swamp, roads, or untouchable single family houses). Even if you rezoned, it doesn’t look any better than a station at 6th (which wouldn’t be that good).
RossB, here is a 2018 article explaining that the site across 112th from East Main was upzoned to allow buildings up to 300 feet and that Wig Properties has purchased both the adjacent Red Lion and Hilton sites for over 15 acres of developable land.
Stay tuned! This location is quite ripe for a massive TOD across from East Main Station.
Al, you seem to be missing the point. Zoning for that tiny sliver of land isn’t the problem.
Ridership is limited in every direction, including that one. Yes, it will be nice when that one small skinny block actually adds something else. But that’s it. You can’t go any further east. It is about a one minute walk directly east of the station until you run into the freeway (https://goo.gl/maps/GAePbBaeEMmSNdp66). You go the other direction, and it is single family homes, and that won’t change. Even if they did change it, you struggle with the terrible street grid.
The only direction where you can get a significant number of riders is to the northwest. But that is well within the walkshed of the other station. That may not be obvious, so let me explain. Consider a trip to 108th and NE 2nd. At first glance, this seems like a spot that is well within the range of that station. It turns out, it is about an 8 minute walk (https://goo.gl/maps/ACJ1TYTuTbgSSS7f6). Fair enough. But it is 6 minutes from the main station to there: https://goo.gl/maps/HC9pFCnEKznMHNtd9. Everything north of NE 2nd is easier with the main station. This is true no matter how far west you go. You have this very tiny sliver until you get to the point where it just isn’t worth bothering any more, and you take a bus, or drive to your destination. You’ve got a very skinny sliver north of Main, and a very skinny sliver east of 112th and no bus-to-rail service.
It only makes sense to use that station if you going somewhere very close to it, which makes it extremely weak. Even then, a significant portion of the ridership is simply poached from the Downtown Bellevue Station. For example, you avoid a six minute walk (https://goo.gl/maps/gdQZqdsYg8jqt44h7) by using the other station. That’s nice for those folks, but it doesn’t add ridership.
A stop along Bellevue Way (at Main or 4th) would not have any of those problems. It would have good ridership from every direction, even if they never changed the existing zoning code. Ridership would dwarf that of East Main, without any change whatsoever. Very few of the riders would be poached from Downtown Bellevue, and of course you would have plenty of bus-to-train riders.
This was a big failure. Not on the scale of First Hill, but worse than Mount Baker (which is saying something). Cost had a lot to do with it, but politics played a big part as well.
While I agree with Ross the best route for East Link was on (actually under) Bellevue Way, with stops probably at Main, 4th and 8th, the fact is once it was decided it would not be underground there was no way Freeman and Bellevue were going to run a surface line down Bellevue Way, just like Seattle doesn’t plan on a surface line down 3rd Ave., but DSTT2 that the other subareas are paying half of.
This is Bellevue: these folks are not that keen on transit to begin with, and I know Freeman did not want a situation like Westlake in which the stations opened directly into the retail (especially with smash and grab crimes we are seeing in San Francisco and Chicago at high end retail stores).
Probably 104th made the most sense, if it were underground. Once it was decided tunneling was too expensive — at least for Bellevue — East Link was shunted to 112th, which basically killed its utility. 112th and 405 is cheap land for a reason. There is a reason the 554 will continue to Bellevue Way, because that is where the riders are going. I imagine many more riders will get off on Bellevue Way than at the S. Bellevue park and ride.
Long term I think Ross is correct, not running East Link somewhere along Bellevue Way or 104th was a mistake, by not putting it underground. The subarea had the money, and this is about the only urban part of the eastside in which rail could be effective. Downtown Seattle to downtown Bellevue, not 112th, was the point of East Link, or was in 2008. The Spring Dist. and Wilburton were never the goals of East Link. Those two areas will be very car centric.
But you also have to ask who will ride East Link in this part of Bellevue? Just because folks live or work there does not mean they will take transit. Density does not mean ridership if the area is quite wealthy.
The reality is the folks who live in this area (except maybe a few buildings south of main on Bellevue Way until you run into the SFH zone, and Ross is correct those zones won’t be upzoned) don’t ride transit. Their units are very expensive, they tend to be older, and they drive. Or they walk, which is why they live in this area. There are a lot of tall, expensive residential towers between Main and 8th/10th, and 110th and Bellevue Way, but that does not mean they will take transit. And take it where? Why would someone living near Bellevue Way take transit to Seattle or Redmond?
The people who would use East Link are workers, like Amazon workers, because most transit on the eastside is about work trips, and then the question is where are these folks coming from? My guess is probably from the eastside today, which is the opposite of the assumptions in 2004 and 2008, and before East Link was routed along 112th..
The parcel Al links to on 112th made some sense when Bellevue was not as built up and vibrant, and Seattle was more attractive to eastsiders. Still those hotels were not popular because of their location. The idea for the developers who purchased the property was one could live in Bellevue (or at least on 112th which is basically nowhere) and have a short ride on East Link to downtown Seattle. In fact, these folks would probably have a quicker train ride to Seattle than a walk to Bellevue Way. You get the safety and schools of the eastside with a quick train ride to work in Seattle. I doubt that is the plan today for the developers, and the vision is for some kind of shuttle to Bellevue Way.
I don’t think a lot of eastsiders will be taking Link to Seattle in the future unless big changes occur in Seattle, and the restructure assumes the same. Probably more eastsiders who live east of Bellevue will take Link to Bellevue. Otherwise why not just live in Seattle, like in Belltown, despite the safety concerns? That is the fundamental change, and so maybe placing East Link on 112th, if it was going to be a surface line, turned out correct, because it allowed a 1500 stall park and ride.
The parcel Al links to is almost the worst of all worlds: next to 405, next to 112th which is a very busy arterial, too far from Bellevue Way to walk, next to a light rail station you don’t want to take west, and why would you take it east? Which is why Bellevue relegated East Link to 112th, and wants the 554 to run along Bellevue Way.
Once you start to see how few eastsiders will take East Link to Seattle, and how few Bellevue residents or workers will take East Link east of Bellevue, you begin to understand how hard it will be to make East Link relevant on the eastside, although I imagine Bellevue will still run a shuttle from S. Bellevue to Bellevue Way, which tells you everything you need to know.
A shuttle should never have been necessary to get riders on East Link to the heart of Bellevue, and I will be interested to see if Bellevue and Freeman put their heart into that shuttle (which may depend on how hard the employers like Amazon push for it, except the Amazon workers will likely live on the eastside, and so what good is a shuttle from S. Bellevue for them). But if the park and ride is popular among eastsiders then a shuttle will be necessary.
In 2004 eastsiders, and Bellevue residents and workers, needed to get to Seattle because that was where the action was. When Bellevue saw that was no longer necessary, or desirable for Bellevue, and ST insisted East Link be on the surface through Bellevue, it was an easy choice to relegate East Link to 112th, because it was no longer needed for Bellevue.
Things change in the very long time period between EIS’s and levies and construction, and that is what happened with East Link.
I was at Bellevue Square on Monday and it surprised me on the many empty store fronts as I would not expect that. I don’t go there very often so I don’t know which stores had been closed and some of them may have been national chains that have been closing stores. On the empty ones only a couple had signs indicating that another store would be opening in that space. I have also been to Southcenter recently and it is the same there. Malls have been dying these past several years so that may be what is happening. On the other hand at the University Village there are no empty store fronts. It is a smaller shopping center.
As I said I don’t know what stores closed at Bellevue Square but I did notice that the McDonalds that had been there for years is gone as is Ruth Chris Steakhouse. Also the Mariners store is gone but the Kraken have store there.
I see East Main evolving like Crystal City (11K – 13K annual boardings before Covid), but lots depends on the developer’s plans. If the developer “turns its back” on the station by doing things like building blank walls across the street, it will makes the station have low ridership. If on the other hand it treats the station as its front door, it could be a fairly productive station on the system. While not 1000 feet wide like Crystal City, the site across the street is 500 to 700 feet wide (2-3 blocks wide) and that is not excessively “skinny”. Emeryville Bay Street is under 400 feet wide in most places and is popular — and doesn’t even have rail transit.
I see one ideal is to build a higher level street village and extend that level to cross 112th and have escalators down to the platform. The ground level would be used for parking with a street deck above that.
I don’t see 405 devaluing the opportunity for a tall building. Interstate 5 has many tall buildings adjacent to it in Seattle, and 110 has that in Los Angeles. If anything, the location becomes a visible beacon visible from the freeway for miles.
It would seem ideally positioned for a signature tower and village for either Microsoft or Amazon. Their company offices could be accessible to others with Link. A hotel district also seems possible. Unlike other sites elsewhere on the Link system, this one seems to have the economics and zoning to be pretty massive.
Fun fact: the current entrance corner to Bellevue Downtown Station (6th and 110th) is just as close to Macy’s front door in Bellevue Square as a Main and Bellevue Way station entrance would have been.
And there was much rejoicing.
live train testing finally commencing
How did they get the rail vehicle to Bellevue; trailer or all the way from Seattle by rail? I’ve yet to see any sign of OMF-E being used but it’s been completed for months. There no wire up yet from the spring district to Microsoft and they aren’t even close on the I-90 bridge. Not sure if the Bellevue tunnel is complete. or if there’s even wire up at Wilburton. No sign of a NE 8th pedestrian bridge.
Correction, I was just at the East end of Spring Blvd where it tees into NE 20th and wire is up through that intersection. I’ll take a peek at the Microsoft stations this weekend and maybe poke around the DT Bellevue stations.
I walked over to Safeway Station today in Overlake. Wire is indeed up through that station. I don’t know why they can’t open the pedestrian bridge. It would require so channeling with construction fencing but everything there looks essentially done. The old Group Health site is pretty much built out around Overlake Village. All 5 stories of residential over retail/restaurants. Not clear how many if any of the units are currently rented. They may still be finishing interiors. There was nobody around on a nice Saturday afternoon and very few of the retail spaces are rented out. There’s an old buisness park between Safeway and the station that will likely be replaced soon.
There have been at least a couple of train cars at OMF East for over a year now. I haven’t been by recently to see if there are additional cars now, but I expect that the original two were trucked over.
Correct; right now all of the vehicles in the OMFE were likely trucked over there. Very soon a Link vehicle will be able to ride the tracks from one OMF to another, but I don’t believe we are quite there yet.
The South Bellevue P&R is where transit users parked to take the bus to Seattle. But, when East Link is open, does anyone think many people who work in downtown Bellevue buildings that have paid parking garages, will use the South Bellevue Station parking garage, then take Link, to avoid paying for parking at work?
They did exactly that before the pandemic Bernie. I know several Mercer Islanders who worked in downtown Bellevue but parked at the old 500 stall S. Bellevue park and ride because it was free. Bellevue got ST to pay for a 1500 stall parking garage (with Bellevue’s money) that will definitely serve Bellevue employees, including many who could take the 554 but won’t. No way Bellevue will allow ST to charge for that park and ride. Exact same reason LFP was excited about a parking garage near its retail core. Except LFP is small and politically weak, and its subarea is broke.
Sam: of course they will; auto access riders oriented to downtown Bellevue used both South Kirkland and South Bellevue before Covid to use buses; they will also use Link at south Bellevue.
Seattle Transit Blog has finally reached its evolutionary apex as Seattle Parking Blog.
Actually, the Bike Blog beat us to it.
The “fanfare” part of the headline prompts an off-topic comment. We should encourage fanfare for maintenance projects. Let’s have a ribbon cutting for pavement management, sidewalk repair, or refurbished bus shelters. Let’s make good maintenance sexy.
The thread discusses whether car storage in transit is worthy of fanfare.
Nice that you feel safe in the areas around the courthouse and that those workers don’t need to be escorted but maybe you should talk to the county worker who was sexually assaulted in the restroom inside the courthouse or to the many people who work in the area who don’t feel safe.
I for one no longer go to downtown as I don’t feel in any part of that area.
Let’s talk about that case. The suspect (I do not know if they have been convicted or not yet) had been recently released from prison for convictions along similar grounds. Their crime had nothing to do with the homeless population in the region. Besides, how would an escort outside the building have prevented a crime inside the building? As a courthouse, there are going to be criminals on the premises. That is simply unavoidable.
As far as feelings go, I think those should rarely be taken into account when it comes to governmental decisions. Laws should be based on facts, not gut instincts or emotions. Data and science should drive policy, and they both indicate that there is no real danger in the area.
Here is a 2021 map of Seattle crime. You can enlarge the map if necessary.
Here is the description in the link of Seattle crime:
“With a crime rate of 52 per one thousand residents, Seattle has one of the highest crime rates in America compared to all communities of all sizes – from the smallest towns to the very largest cities. One’s chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime here is one in 19. Within Washington, more than 97% of the communities have a lower crime rate than Seattle.
“Importantly, when you compare Seattle to other communities of similar population, then Seattle crime rate (violent and property crimes combined) is quite a bit higher than average. Regardless of how Seattle does relative to all communities in America of all sizes, when NeighborhoodScout compared it to communities of similar population size, its crime rate per thousand residents stands out as higher than most.
“Now let us turn to take a look at how Seattle does for violent crimes specifically, and then how it does for property crimes. This is important because the overall crime rate can be further illuminated by understanding if violent crime or property crimes (or both) are the major contributors to the general rate of crime in Seattle.
“For Seattle, we found that the violent crime rate is one of the highest in the nation, across communities of all sizes (both large and small). Violent offenses tracked included rape, murder and non-negligent manslaughter, armed robbery, and aggravated assault, including assault with a deadly weapon. According to NeighborhoodScout’s analysis of FBI reported crime data, your chance of becoming a victim of one of these crimes in Seattle is one in 168.”
As noted on the map, the Pioneer Square area is one of the highest areas of crime in Seattle, when Seattle has a crime rate higher than 97% of the rest of the state, and one of the highest rates of violent crime in the entire U.S.
So I agree data and not personal anecdote are important when developing policy, but if the entire staff of the courthouse refuses to travel to work without a safety escort you really only have three options: 1. Close the courthouse down for good (which is consistent with what Weyerhaeuser is doing, at least temporarily); 2. reduce the crime rate, which the city has tried to do by closing the park; or 3. provide safety escorts, which the county is doing. No worker or employer is going to listen to A Joy on this issue, because she does not work in Pioneer Square, and certainly does not insure the safety of employees as employers do. I think most would agree A Joy’s opinions on this issue are biased due to her political ideology.
Meanwhile as businesses move out of the area, mostly to the eastside, Bellevue and Kemper Freeman are laughing all the way to the bank. It may end up the best solution is to simply relocate the King Co. courthouse to the eastside.
You can find similar info on Seattle’s website, http://www.seattle.gov/police/information-and-data/crime-dashboard, but it is important to understand Seattle rarely investigates let alone prosecutes any kind of property crime (and in fact is as concerned about Terry Stops as it is crime –Seattle prohibits stop and frisk).
The root issue here is that the homeless crazies have to go somewhere, and it has been the long-standing policy of the suburbs to dump their homeless population in Seattle so they become Seattle’s problem, then talk about how their city is well run and Seattle isn’t.
Imagine if Seattle were to someday decide to solve its homeless problem by busing them to Kemper Freeman’s mall and saying “you’re on your own”. That is essentially what Bellevue is doing in reverse.
It is hard to say asdf2 where the homeless on the streets and in the parks in Seattle originate. Studies show most are “local”, but then the term “local” can mean a short time.
Right now King Co. is doing just what you suggest, by buying distressed hotels with county sales taxes in poorer eastside neighborhoods and moving untreated homeless there. The neighbors’ main complaint is they feel tolerant Seattle policies on requiring the homeless to use shelters and on drugs are attracting the homeless to Seattle, which is why they are in Seattle, and that of course their neighborhoods already contain most of the “affordable” subsidized housing on the eastside.
I posted about this divide between east and west King Co. before. Seattle has now taken the view housing must precede treatment or rehabilitation, and I can understand that it isn’t easy rehabilitating someone living in a tent. However each hotel room costs $65,000/year, so this approach, although expedient at removing the homeless from Seattle’s streets, is not affordable long term, and is causing a big rift between east and west.
The eastside still believes in the original shelter paradigm: shelter mat or cot, sobriety and an enhanced shelter room, work and subsidized housing, and ideally non-subsidized housing, because otherwise it just isn’t affordable. So they target their funding towards subsidized affordable housing.
As A Joy has pointed out the first step, a shelter mat or cot, is unpleasant, but this journey is unpleasant, especially if it starts with sobriety and mental health treatment which can mean antipsychotic medications, which have their side effects. There are bottlenecks at the enhanced shelter stage by those who like the private room but won’t or can’t move onto work, and from subsidized to non-subsidized housing due to regional housing costs and their low earning capacity. So far the homeless moved to distressed hotels have shown a very small rehabilitation rate, and many return to Seattle of their own accord.
There is no doubt the homeless seem to prefer Seattle (Seattle has the 18th highest U.S. population but the third highest number of homeless), and it isn’t just because services are in Seattle, as many homeless refuse services.
So Seattle is going to have figure out a solution, including vast amounts of federal and county money already allocated toward homelessness but not wisely spent, and I personally would have started with some of the $148 billion targeted to date for ST.
@Daniel Thompson, as always coming in with the correlation implying causation. Specifically with the implication that the current state of the public park across the street from the courthouse or the homeless population there are a significant contributor to the crime rate in Pioneer Square. Ignoring the lack of a similar huge spike in crime rates. Take Lake Shitty for example. It has an above average homeless presence even by Seattle standards (as well as significant drug and gang activity), yet it is listed as the 10th safest neighborhood by the website you cited.
BTW, NeighborhoodScout is a for profit company that only collates reported crimes. So it provides a rather incomplete, biased, and hardly objective view of crime in general.
Claims of bias due to political ideology are rather crass here, and easily aimed in your direction as well on this topic. In fact, I daresay you bring up this topic more much more often than I do, which is telling considering this is a transit blog, not a crime or business blog.
@asdf2, there is no large group of “homeless crazies”, in this region or nationwide. The rate of mental illness among the homeless is less than twice the national average, with the single most common pathology being PTSD caused by being homeless. Remember, Seattle has over 10,000 homeless individuals, 4,000 of which are children. The number of seriously mentally ill “homeless crazies” is likely in the low hundreds, and while they are prominent, they are still a vast minority of the overall population.
A Joy, the City of Seattle decided to clean up and close the park next to the courthouse. King Co. decided to provide safety escorts to get workers back to the King Co. courthouse on 3rd and James. Weyerhaeuser decided to not reopen its brand new building in Pioneer Square due to safety concerns. The voters of Seattle elected Harrell and Davison based on public safety and homelessness.
There is no reason to complain to me (or anyone on this blog) about these decisions, or whether you agree with them. All I can do is make the best decisions for my business and my staff. That is why after 31 years in The Smith Tower we are moving our offices to the eastside, in large part because we are having difficulty getting staff to commute to downtown Seattle, and because the scene is dead, and it is uncomfortable to walk around the streets.
At the same time my wife and daughter don’t ask me where to shop, and make that decision based on what best suits them, which today is on the eastside (which is also why my daughter chose a CA university over the UW, which was her choice). My wife is uncomfortable going to downtown Seattle to dine, and admittedly she is not as brave as you are, so we dine on the eastside. I am certainly not going to have a fight with my wife over whether to dine at Carmines in Seattle or in Bellevue when there is no benefit for me.
You may disagree, and you can make the decisions you feel comfortable with. But I think you are an outlier, certainly compared to legal staff and female workers, based on the actions by the city and county and voters, and how hard it is for us to recruit staff to commute to Seattle.
Personal safety comes down to how much risk someone wants to take on, and whether there is any benefit for that risk. I represent injured workers who suffer terrible injuries as oversee civilian workers on military bases under the Defense Base Act. Enormous risk, but very lucrative pay. To work in or visit Seattle, for me, there is no benefit for the risk, and that is how staff feel because they can always get a job on the eastside, where many live.
@ A Joy — Well said.
“There is no reason to complain to me (or anyone on this blog) about these decisions, or whether you agree with them.”
In that we agree. Which is why I do not complain about them. I complain about the unfair and unwarranted demonization of the homeless, as the facts do not justify that response. But decisions are decisions, and as they are in the past kvetching about them serves no beneficial purpose to the present or the future.
“The voters of Seattle elected Harrell and Davison based on public safety and homelessness.”
Sure, but it was a vote to maintain the status quo, not for change. Durkan was extremely anti-homeless, increasing the amount of money dedicated to homeless sweeps from 15 million to over 25 million dollars in her first year of office alone. Whatever ill you see when you look out that Smith Tower window is what Seattle just voted for, and it will only be worse in 4 years.
“You may disagree, and you can make the decisions you feel comfortable with. But I think you are an outlier, certainly compared to legal staff and female workers, based on the actions by the city and county and voters, and how hard it is for us to recruit staff to commute to Seattle.”
Perhaps, but I would argue that my disagreement is based on an understanding of the facts at hand, the perspective of knowing the group being villainized, and the experience of trying to do something about the issue for over 25 years. I remember when Ave Rats and Broadway Kids would stab each other on the 7 back in the 1990s, when the violent crime issue was so bad they broke the route into pieces to prevent it (it was one of the top 3 worst routes at the time when it came to violent crime on a bus). I have watched the “sweep it under the rug and break up the encampments” strategy create the problem we have now over decades. I know what the result will be. We all do. We are living in it now. The solution is simple: housing first, always. It has worked in SLC. It has vastly improved NYC. But it will clearly never happen here.
There is no risk in working in, visiting in, or living in Seattle. That’s the whole point. This isn’t about a risk/benefit analysis at all. The statistics don’t back that up. Perception is not reality, and when one studies reality they find this concern for the soul of Seattle is ephemeral hand wringing.
Of course both of us understand that transit operators have to appeal to would-be riders, or they won’t become actual riders.
Maybe the bridge engineering will prove unreliable, or worse dangerous. Maybe ST will fail to make its service attractive to the degree that everyone on the Eastside will abandon it, and the buses will run empty.
That would be a big, wasteful shame to be sure, but it’s easy enough to reduce service in the future if that happens. I’m confident that Metro is competent to see that it’s not wanted should that come to pass, so don’t fret about the operating budget.
What’s certain, though, is that East King taxpayers are on the hook for the subarea’s capital debt, no matter what selfish financial engineering you and your cronies try to cook up.
So you really ought to be figuring out ways to help ST achieve its goals instead of sneering at “urbanists” who in fact care about mobility for the less fortunate on the Eastside — even if they are few-and-far-between.
I have been driving in Houston for the past day and have gotten a look at the dystopian future of a city completely dedicated to autos and their needs.
Cars ricochet off each other as “darting lane-changers” weave through five lanes of traffic at 75. Insurance premiums must be through the roof for local residents. THAT is what you want for Bellevue, Daniel Thompson, whether you realize it or not.
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