131 Replies to “News roundup: more”

  1. Reference the resumption of traffic volumes, I suspect that some transit riders are driving themselves to work, so they are not saddled with having to wear a mask on a bus for a trip to/from work. Even if the commute is 1 hour, it’s one hour less of having to be “forced” to wear a mask. I also suspect that some avoid transit to mitigate exposures to COVID-19. I’ve found myself driving into the City for that very reason.

    On another note…

    While not specifically transit related, it is transportation related and it deals with the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Seems that legislators on the Key and Kitsap Peninsulas want to use general fund dollars to retire the TNB bonds. It likely won’t happen, since this is the short session. I suspect this will bill (in another form) will come up in upcoming legislative biennia.

    Gig Harbor Now Article

    1. So even Democrats are seduced by Daniel’s siren call of autos everywhere. When people worry about “the robots turning on us”, they conveniently forget that they’re riding in them all the time. And we’re all excited about the possibilities of “training” cars by letting the robots negotiate in real time. It will make the freeways “more efficient”.

      Before long every square inch of flat, arable soil will be covered with single-family housing or roads for “our” robots.

      We richly deserve the oblivion we as a species have crafted for ourselves in our mindless pursuit of “ease”, “comfort” and “wealth”.

      1. “So even Democrats are seduced by Daniel’s siren call of autos everywhere.”

        On transportation and land use, Democrats span the entire ideological spectrum, from people who want cars mostly out of cities to people who believe walking is obsolete and transportation is entirely about cars. There is no one single consensus for how “Democrats” think about transportation, and there is a big difference between Democrats in city centers vs. Democrats in far-out suburbs.

        It’s essentially the pigeonhole principle. There are simply far more Democrats out there than there are homes in walkable neighborhoods. So, it follows that a lot of Democrats must live in unwalkable neighborhoods in order for the numbers to add up. People that grow up using a car for every single trip believe that’s the only way to travel, regardless of which party they belong to. The reverse is likely also true for Republicans that live in cities, there’s just a lot fewer of them.

      2. It’s not about Democrats or Daniel. The siren call originated in the 1920s when a movement arose to give cars right of way over pedestrians and streetcars on streets. Previously streetcars had the right of way like other railroads, or all modes were equal, depending on the street’s history. Giving the cars the right of way was the first step toward car supremacy, which was the movement’s and the car/oil companies’ ultimate goal.

        An overwhelming majority of Americans eventually supported car supremacy, both Republicans and Democrats, and that continues to this day. Many politicians who say they don’t, nevertheless take no action to eliminate it, they just give sidewalks and a few token transit/bike lanes, which add up to less than 1% of the infrastructure. Republicans nowadays tend to be more pro-car, just as they’re more pro low-density and anti-city, but in many cities it’s a Democratic majority that’s upholding car supremacy and not taking transit.

        I’ve seen Democrats and Socialists in Chicago and San Francisco who live near an El or BART station drive to another station’s immediate walkshed, when they know perfectly well there’s a direct subway between them that goes practically door-to-door and they even use it sometimes. I don’t see this nearly as much in New York or London, so Chicago and San Francisco seem to be more car-oriented. The only comparable thing I’ve seen in New York is people living in Jersey City or the northern suburbs driving into Manhattan on weekends or evenings.

      3. The oddest trip in New York I’ve seen is when I was staying in Manhattan and a friend who lives in Brooklyn came on a skateboard to see me. I don’t know if he crossed the river by subway or skated across the bridge. It seems like a pretty long trip for a skateboard and might have taken 45 minutes or an hour. I just can’t see myself wanting to stand on four tiny bumpy wheels at high risk of falling off for for an hour. And to get somewhere, which implies keeping the speed up, rather than just skating around or running a few errands in the neighborhood. I suppose that’s why they’re called skaters though.

      4. Hey, why should TNB users get a big fat break courtesy of statewide taxpayers when that same courtesy isn’t extended to Seattle users of the DBT or Bellevue users of the SR520 bridge?

        Fair is fair! No discrimination! If state taxpayers want to wipe out tolls on the TNB, then they should wipe out tolls on the DBT and SR520 bridge too. And TNB users only pay going one direction! Not fair!

        Na, leave the tolls in place. That is how these pieces of infrastructure got funded. And I doubt E.WA would be onboard anyhow.

        This is just a politician proposing something that obviously will go nowhere fast, but will gain her goodwill with constituents in advance of her next re-election campaign. It’s not serious.

        But can we please have a serious conversation about adding congest relieve tolls to I-5 in Seattle and on the I-90 floating bridge? It’s the easiest way to provide congestion relief without increasing GHG emissions.

      5. Lazarus, I was a rare Mercer Islander who supported tolling I-90 when 520 was tolled because it would even out the congestion, and if distance-based Mercer Island residents would pay the least. Plus FHWA had already approved SOV access from Island Crest Way westbound into a HOT lane.

        Today a congestion tax on I-90 is unnecessary because there is so little congestion, and congestion pricing really only makes sense during rush hours, and those are the drivers missing. People are driving more today not just because of Covid, but because there is no traffic congestion. On the eastside at least transit is all about the work commuter and traffic congestion (and the cost of parking in downtown Seattle, although most parking on the eastside is free).

        If reducing traffic congestion is really your goal in proposing a congestion tax (that would be more regressive than the sales tax, and why a person who uses transit worries about car congestion is beyond me) I-5 is a good place to start, but much of I-5’s congestion is due to the horrible design through Seattle.

        Begin with several billion dollars like on 405 to increase capacity and lanes and reduce bottlenecks on I-5 (unfortunately not sure what you can do about the narrowing at the convention center) and then look at HOT lanes like on 405, also quite regressive.

        Link will soon connect Lynnwood to Federal Way, so there are alternatives to driving north/south on I-5. If the office workers return to downtown Seattle Link will be a very good alternative during rush hours, if you can get to it and it goes where you need to go, so think of the ST taxes drivers are paying for the $148 billion price tag for Link as your congestion tax.

        If the workers don’t return to downtown Seattle that creates an entirely different mess so better to start wooing them back, otherwise a congestion tax won’t be necessary, but increases in many other Seattle taxes will be to make up for the lost business and sales taxes. WFH may be the best congestion tax of all, except it shifts tax revenue away from urban cores.

      6. @Dan,

        The problem isn’t congestion on I-90. The problem is congestion on I-5 and I-405.

        Basically these two interstates are seeing increased congestion between the bridges because people are choosing to drive around SR520 to avoid the toll. It doesn’t matter that there is a stretch of roadway (I-90) in the middle that can handle the increased volume, because the connecting interstates can’t. And it doesn’t help that drivers are also choosing I-5 over the DBT to avoid that toll too.

        That is the problem that tolling on I-90 and I-5 would solve.

        Things are not as simple as you seem to think. That is why we need a real discussion about increased tolling for congestion relief.

      7. Lazarus, here is your statement from your first post on congestion pricing:

        “But can we please have a serious conversation about adding congest relieve tolls to I-5 in Seattle and on the I-90 floating bridge? It’s the easiest way to provide congestion relief without increasing GHG emissions.”

        Here is your statement from your second post on congestion pricing:

        “@Dan,

        “The problem isn’t congestion on I-90. The problem is congestion on I-5 and I-405”.

        I agree congestion is not an issue today on I-90. According to the 2019 presentation by WSDOT to the Mercer Island City Council WSDOT’s redesign of 405 south of SE 8th will relieve even peak hour congestion on 405. I will believe that when I see it. As I also posted, I-5’s design is a big part of the congestion on I-5, and any congestion relief should begin with that, then move to HOT lanes.

        Then I responded:

        “Lazarus, I was a rare Mercer Islander who supported tolling I-90 when 520 was tolled because it would even out the congestion, and if distance-based Mercer Island residents would pay the least. Plus FHWA had already approved SOV access from Island Crest Way westbound into a HOT lane.”

        And you responded:

        “Things are not as simple as you seem to think. That is why we need a real discussion about increased tolling for congestion relief.”

        Which is exactly what I had written. You mentioned I-5 and I-90, and I responded to I-5 and I-90. I didn’t raise 405 because there is already congestion pricing on 405 via HOT tolls.

        The congestion on 405 has less to do with folks taking I-90 over 520 to avoid the toll, and more to do with the huge growth south of Renton along 167, and north to Bothell. 405 is well designed but oversubscribed, and WSDOT seems to think more lanes, more HOT pricing, and better interchanges at 167 and 169 (and from I-90) will solve that. Some think East Link should have run north/south on 405 rather than east/west, especially today with the change in work patterns, but the fact is those living south of Bellevue are often not the office/transit types.

        Have HOT lanes on 405 reduced congestion or car travel? No, except for the wealthy. Were tolls politically palatable on I-90? No. My guess is tolls would not be palatable on I-5 even if legal. Do I know what congestion will be like post-pandemic? No I don’t, except it will be bad on I-5 because it is bad today because the design of I-5 is flawed.

      8. People are driving more today not just because of Covid, but because there is no traffic congestion.

        My oxymoron detector is tingling. Or is this just a quote from Yogo Berra?

      9. Yogi was genius, which is why he wore the tools of ignorance.

        People are driving more today not just because of Covid, but because there is no traffic congestion

        Induced demand (some what in reverse). “I’ll”drive if it’s not too bad”

      10. My anecdotal experience is that the return of traffic has not been uniform. I-5 may be mostly back to normal, but 520 is still largely empty, in a way that would have been unheard of back in 2019. The fact that Microsoft is still mostly work-from-home has a huge impact.

      11. @Dan,

        I stand by what I wrote and how I worded it.

        Congestion relief tolls on I-90 have a role to play in reducing congestion system wide, and that is really how congestion should be viewed – as a system wide problem.

        While it might be true for cases like tolls on the TNB where no real alternative exists, it is overly simplistic to think of tolls in Greater Seattle as only having an impact at their point of application. Tolling SR520 and not tolling adjacent routes has in fact caused increased congestion that a more holistic approach to regional tolling could avoid.

        And that is all I am suggesting. We need to have a more detailed regional discussion about the use of tolls to reduce system wide congestion. And that discussion should include the discussion of induced congestion on surface streets too.

        One thing that is clear though: even a small reduction in peak volume can produce a disproportionately large reduction in congestion.

      12. Lazarus, I was a rare Mercer Islander who supported tolling I-90 when 520 was tolled because it would even out the congestion, and if distance-based Mercer Island residents would pay the least.

        Give toll cuts to Mercer Island residents and the benefits will trickle down to all other toll users!

      13. Rapid Rider, HOT lanes charge per mile. The farther you wish to go in a HOT lane the more you pay. Mercer Island is closest to Bellevue and Seattle, although being an Island there is no option to avoid one of the two bridges. The reality is with the increase in multi-family housing in the town center not all Islanders are rich.

        The State’s interest in tolling I-90 had nothing to do with congestion. The State wanted help offset the ballooning costs of 520 and the construction errors, and to pay off the bonds earlier. I raised congestion relief on I-90 as a reason to support tolling on I-90. Since there are two bridges on I-90 the tolls were to begin east of Mercer Island, and be distanced based, not just across the bridge span, and would toll going east and west.

        It turns out folks are just opposed to tolls on existing roads or bridges in principle and figure their gas taxes pay for the roads, and there was a lot of opposition from Seattle drivers too. Plus folks who use I-90 didn’t want to pay for 520, and many claimed any kind of toll or HOT lane was elitist, like Rapid Rider claims.

        The irony is, like the bus intercept on Mercer Island, it turns out tolling I-90 was a bad idea, certainly for Mercer Island, since there is so little congestion today. Lazarus wants to toll I-90 to reduce congestion on 405 from drivers trying to avoid tolls on 520 (although I doubt that is a big cause of the congestion through Bellevue on 405 — or in Seattle on I-5), but why should Islanders care about congestion on 405, or pay to alleviate it. At least that was the argument the anti-toll folks and Rapid Rider made/make.

        Now that the intercept mainly focuses on S. Bellevue, and ST has decided to not run any buses across the bridge span when East Link opens (unless Issaquah insists on some express peak buses) there is little reason for a dedicated HOV lane on the I-90 bridge span. The FHWA has already approved turning the HOV lane into either a general purpose or HOT lane, and both would allow SOV drivers from mid and south Mercer Island to access the outer lane on I-90 westbound from Island Crest Way, which means they no longer have to drive through the town center to enter I-90 westbound.

        WSDOT argues HOT lanes do reduce congestion, even for poor folks, because the wealthier folks (who usually write off the HOT toll) use the HOT lanes, that allows WSDOT to build more lanes, that reduces congestion for the poor folks. My concern is such a large chunk of the toll goes to the operations, and that HOT lanes are in fact privileged, although I like using them when there was congestion. I don’t think HOT lanes or tolls encourage folks to use transit if there isn’t the congestion to begin with, and the cost of parking in Seattle or downtown Bellevue. They just raise more money for WSDOT to build more lanes to handle more cars.

        However, in another irony, so much of this SOV traffic on Mercer Island now goes east rather than to Seattle. SOV access from Island Crest Way westbound is not quite the issue it use to be.

        Amazing how time, a pandemic, and a shifting from Seattle to Bellevue among eastside residents end up resolving Mercer Island’s concerns with East Link (although the station entrances designs are still pretty ugly, but the plantings look like they will be nice when mature).

      14. Rather than opening up the I-90 HOV lane, a better option (if an job lane is not necessary once EastLink opens) is to roll back the awful restriping they did and just leave the bridge as three lanes.

        Trying to squeeze 4 lanes into the space for 3 is bad for safety. It also takes away shoulders, which means any accident on the bridge blocks a lane. And it puts cyclists and pedestrians on the I-90 bike path at greater risk of being injured or killed by debris falling off trucks.

        If we don’t need the capacity of 4 lanes, it is better for all road users (except those that are gross speeders) to just have 3.

        Of course, that’s not the way WSDOT works. They have to stripe the freeway for 4 lanes so that they can use safety to justify widening the freeway again in the future.

      15. “Rather than opening up the I-90 HOV lane, a better option (if an job lane is not necessary once EastLink opens) is to roll back the awful restriping they did and just leave the bridge as three lanes.”

        Asdf2, I was a big opponent of restriping I-90 (R8-A). I thought it would cause a lot of collisions, especially in the tunnel, and cause risk for cars that break down.

        Turns out I was wrong. R8-A has worked quite well (until you reach 405 or I-5)

        Many of the issues on I-90 (and on I-5) had to do with lane narrowing. Adding a fourth lane cured the bottlenecks. Cars are much more reliable today, and there has not been any increase in collisions.

        I agree the bike/pedestrian lane is less pleasant (and so is it on the East Channel Bridge). Buses mostly use the HOV lane but not always, and trucks can create a lot of wind shear. The solution for that I have lobbied for is to build a plexiglass shield on top of the barrier, but so far WSDOT has refused.

        I can’t see the powers that be on the east side of the lake agreeing to reduce the lanes from 4 to 3 since restriping has worked so well, and it was such a huge public process to add a lane I doubt the FHWA or WSDOT will revisit the issue. The number of bicyclists is just too small on the bridge — mostly recreational — to offset the number of cars and trucks.

      16. I wouldn’t propose spending any money to change anything on I-90 across the lake until 405 Express Lanes and East Link are both opened. Simply put, these projects will affect bus and auto traffic in many ways.

        1. I-405S today is so congested that drivers choose I-90 and I-5 today to travel between Bellevue and Tukwila. Will the Express Lanes project make it less likely ( and reduce I-90 and I-5 volumes)? The impacts would also affect bus routes on those roadways even like Metro 101.

        2. How much will East Link reduce I-90!congestion? Already, most of the buses into Seattle will go away when rail service starts in 2023, reducing traffic. The giant South Bellevue garage will supposedly intercept hundreds that are driving today. This is a new option for Seattle destinations no matter what time of day.

        There are certainly other factors like Downtown Seattle parking costs. However these are likely the most impactful on the corridor in the next few years.

      17. My point is that, if three lanes are already free flowing, drivers gain nothing from a 4th lane. At worst, it makes traffic worse by creating merge points when an accident blocks a lane that should have been in the shoulder, or merge points onto I-5 or I-405.

        I have driven over the I-90 bridge many times both before and after the restriping; I definitely find it more stressful after.

        I fully understand that WSDOT will never actually restripe the lanes back from 4 to 3, in part because they assume ever growing volumes of vehicle travel and ignore induced demand, partly because they need the cramped conditions to justify future widenings.

    2. With the likelihood of the demise of gasoline-powered transportation, many in the public will interpret that we are addressing the GHG impact and are still enabling driving.

      The fact that congestion is re-emerging yet transit still is lacking returning riders is a short-term trend but could become a long-term one as the pandemic drags on.

      These are difficult facts that transit advocates must face. It may be that transportation dollars may need to shift to address equity challenges like funding local bus operations (noting that a higher percentage of local riders are returning to transit) rather than build costly light rail lines for workers who own cars and will look to work from home more. That in turn will shift the transit funding discussions because it is the excitement of light rail that inspires “yes” votes on referenda.

      We live in interesting times.

      1. Light rail is more efficient in high-volume corridors like downtown-UW-Northgate and downtown-UW-Redmond. It’s better for them to all be on a train than on a mass of buses that use more energy and can’t handle major demand spikes. The spine concept in general is right, it’s the basis of all the world’s subway networks: subways are for the highest-volume corridors and largest destinations that get the widest variety of riders, and buses are for the secondary corridors around them or where we can’t build a subway yet. The problem with the spine is that going beyond Lynnwood and Federal Way is more than a 55 mph light rail train can fully serve, because its speed, capacity, and need to serve intermediate markets limit what it can do. All modes and speeds have a sweet spot they’re most effective in, and it diminishes the longer you go beyond that.

        The theory behind Everett, Tacoma, Ballard, and West Seattle Link is that they’re for all trips to/from those areas, not just workers who own cars and work in offices but are now teleworking.

        There is some merit to the turn toward equity, which both Metro, ST, Seattle, and King County have done. Lower-income, higher-minority, essential-worker, and off-peak travlers and areas have been neglected for far too long, and extra resources or accelerated improvements is a worthwhile mitigation. At the same time, the highest-volume corridors need high-quality transit, and people in the most urban neighborhood are the most likely to use transit and support paying transit taxes. And some coverage trips are so difficult without a certain bus route and minimum frequency that they really need it. So all these have to be balanced. Not putting equity first and everything else behind it.

      2. Sorry Al, but there is not enough “Magic Metal” — the necessary ingredients for the powerful magnets necessary to propel EV’s — to have one for everyone who would want one. Our eight billion mindless accumulators can’t be satisfied; as you’ve said yourself, “Cars don’t scale” in crowded environments. Shared travel is essential to retaining a livable planet.

        In cities and towns that means “transit”, like it or not.

      3. TT, I remember when manufacturers argued there was not enough platinum for catalytic converters, and/or the cost was too high.

        ———————————————————————————-

        “It’s important to distinguish between: ‘rare-‘, ‘precious-‘, and ‘critical-‘ earth elements. The terms are not interchangeable, but unfortunately often are in popular media. It’s also important to distinguish between ‘reserves’ and ‘resources’. Reserves denote the amount that can be technically recovered at a cost that is financially feasible at the present price. Resources include all that can be technically recovered at any price.”

        “Electronics”

        “Electric vehicles typically use two precious earth metals: gold and silver. These are used in minute quantities in the circuit boards, which also occurs in modern fossil fuelled vehicles. The circuit boards run the electronics. These valuable metals are fully recyclable.

        “Batteries”

        “Critical earth elements typically found in Electric Vehicle batteries are: lithium and cobalt, both fully recyclable (including in NZ.) Both Lithium and cobalt metals can be reused over and over repeatedly.

        “These two elements are not particularly rare – cobalt can be found in most rocks, and lithium is the first metal in the periodic table and one of only three elements created in the primordial Big Bang. Lithium is the 32nd most common element on our planet. But both metals are critical because of modern societies’ dependence on lithium-ion battery technology for mobile phones, laptops, and now EVs. And also, in the case of cobalt, because of geopolitics: the bulk of the cobalt supply comes from the politically unstable Democratic Republic of Congo. While there are plenty of lithium and cobalt resources, there are fewer reserves of them.”

        https://www.leadingthecharge.org.nz/do_we_have_enough_rare_earth_metals_for_evs#:~:text=%20Do%20we%20have%20enough%20Rare%20Earth%20Metals,dysprosium%2C%20are%20found%20in%20a%20permanent…%20More%20

        I remember a geologist being asked during one of the droughts in the west if the drought presaged the end of water. He stated of course not, just look at the amount of river water discharged into the Pacific Ocean along the west coast each day, it was the end of cheap water.

      4. TT:
        • Light rail isn’t primarily a commuter transit. To be worthwhile there must be all day demand.
        • Work from home only works for some jobs. A huge portion of the population isn’t able to do this.
        • Link ridership seemed pretty robust when I was up there last. Stuff like feeder buses seem low however.

      5. Work from home was 25% of workers at its height, and is now down to 11% according to an article today or yesterday. It just seems larger in some industries and neighborhoods where those workers are concentrated. Tech workers and the cities they’re in have a blind spot about this: they see what they themselves and other tech workers are doing and assume that’s what the entire society is doing. But somebody has to clean their buildings, operate their stores and restaurants, staff their hospitals, maintain their roads, drive their buses, keep the electricity working and the water running, cut their hair, etc.

      6. Mike, if WFH is only 11% of the workforce — and I don’t know the support for that figure — then why according to the linked article is transit ridership down 50%:

        “The ten biggest transit agencies in Washington state carried 40 to 50 percent fewer passengers on weekdays as of late summer than they did pre-pandemic, according to a WSDOT public transportation data dashboard. Ridership on Amtrak Cascades regional trains this autumn is down even more, around 60 percent below 2019.

        “Similarly in Oregon, ridership on Trimet’s buses and light rail trains in October was about 53% of fall 2019’s levels. At Cascades East Transit, which serves Central Oregon cities, ridership in November was about 50% of pre-pandemic levels. A CET outreach manager noted that bus service in Bend is currently reduced due to a shortage of drivers

        “The state-supported Amtrak Cascades service is slowly adding back trains to help ridership recover. Three roundtrips currently run between Seattle and Portland and there are two daily roundtrips on the Portland to Eugene segment. Amtrak Cascades passenger service north of Seattle to Vancouver, Canada, remains suspended.”

        https://www.kuow.org/stories/highway-traffic-has-almost-returned-to-pre-pandemic-levels-but-transit-still-way-down

        Transit ridership is down and car driving is coming back to 2019 levels because of Covid fears (offices and transit), and folks are not returning to offices, not because somehow transit got worse (frequency and coverage cuts followed Covid related ridership declines).

        Traffic congestion occurs during peak hours because the work commuter overwhelms road and highway capacity, and hence transit (especially Link) provides a benefit cars do not: faster trip, no parking costs (assuming employer subsidized transit).

        If folks don’t return to offices in urban centers transit ridership will remain at 50% pre-pandemic levels, because many folks won’t need transit. The Stanford study suggests now a 25% to 40% reduction in office work and commuting post-pandemic, or one to two days per week on average, and I think that sounds about right.

        At that point peak travel will come down to: 1. are those workers going to work in urban centers or someplace else; 2. will there be any traffic congestion on the roads if they do drive to work; and 3. will subsidized parking 3-4 days/week be more attractive to employers and employees than transit subsidies.

        We won’t know the answers until we beat Covid, and know how many folks plan to return to in-office work, how many days/week, and what traffic congestion looks like during peak hours, because it has never been that bad during off-peak times, except maybe I-5 due to its awful design.

      7. “Mike, if WFH is only 11% of the workforce — and I don’t know the support for that figure — then why according to the linked article is transit ridership down 50%:”

        I put it down to an irrational paranoia about transit covid, a propensity to drive, and the cancellations due to driver shortages. The right-wing media machine has been scaring people about transit throughout the pandemic. Some employers are discouraging or prohibiting their employees from taking transit to work. They discourage their family and friends, and so on. Even a few transit fans on STB aren’t taking transit or doing in-person grocery shopping out of fear of the pandemic. So if they’re doing that, the general public is doing it more.

        The cancellations make transit unreliable. I met somebody at a bus stop who was mad the last two runs didn’t show up, and he may have said he won’t take transit again. That was because of a traffic jam, but he somehow thought the buses could magically get through the traffic to be on time for the next run.

        Americans’ propensity to drive is well-known, including a lot of Metro riders, so any small nudge sends them to their cars. In addition to fear of covid, as you said many people will only take transit when congestion is bad, or they’ll only take express transit. The peaks have lessened, office workers have more flexible schedules now so they can avoid the peaks, etc. If they’re going in three times a week, they may be driving elsewhere on the other two days.

        All that is inevitable given Americans’ propensities. Maybe Metro will have to raise fares or raise taxes someday, but everything is uncertain at this point, so I don’t see why we should worry about it now. When it becomes clear Metro will tell us, and then we can see how bad it is and what we can do about it. We have plenty of other things to worry about. My perennial concern is that insufficient service leads to ridership loss. Halving the frequency can lose more than half the riders (and vice-versa), because it makes some trips and transfers non-viable, or non-viable for busy people. But I’m not going to harp on cuts forced by the recession or people returning to their cars, because there’s nothing we can do about that. I’m concerned about missed opportunities: things Metro could do to improve service but isn’t, ways Seattle/King County could give Metro more resources but aren’t.

        Most of Metro’s suspended routes returned in October; I think the only ones left are peak-only and a couple others. The 226 has returned to its normal frequency, and the 249 is back. Most routes have their full all-day frequency so you can get around, you just don’t have the extra peak alternatives and crowding-relief runs you did. The main routes in Southeast Seattle are running especially often because of crowding and equity.

        The 47 (Summit) is an unusual case because Metro stopped funding it; it fell off the bottom of its performance metric. It’s suspended rather than deleted because Seattle is talking about maybe funding it with non-TBD funds, like it did with the night owls when Metro stopped funding them in 2014. The TBD is fully committed to other things, especially with the extra West Seattle service to mitigate the bridge closure, and dubious non-bus things the city chose to fund. And is it contributing to bus fleet electrification? Something is, and it’s taking it out of potential service hours or more RapidRide lines.

        The 11% came from an article about employers postponing reopenings because of omicron. It was probably in the Seattle Times or New York Times. I don’t remember because I read both every day and STB and listen to NPR and MSNBC and I forget which one they were from, and I’m not good at search engines to find them again, I can’t think of a precise and unambiguous term to bring them up. That’s why I don’t give more citations.

      8. The most recent data I could find was an article from Oct 13th using Gallup numbers for September:

        Forty-five percent of full-time U.S. employees worked from home either all (25%) or part of the time (20%) in Gallup’s September update of its monthly employment trends.

        Maybe the 11% came from the Seattle Times comment section. We’ll never know since since there’s nothing but “I seem to recall reading it somewhere”.

        I found this in the traffic article to be spot on with what I’ve experienced:

        “The biggest difference is that a.m. peak periods don’t appear to be quite as strong as they used to be,” Hallenbeck said. “The afternoon is much closer.”

        He said people who are working from home commonly go out in the afternoon to run errands and then mix with commuters to tip the freeway into a congested state.

        In the AM the NB peak on 405 into Bellevue seems to be just as bad as before the pandemic. In the PM peak iSB is really bad with 405 stop and go backing up onto I-90. I exit at Bellevue Way and traffic NB all the way through Bellevue is light. It’s starting pick up on NE 8th but nothing like it used to be right before Xmas.

      9. NHK News tonight had a piece on work from home. It was hard to track a reference but I did find the link to the story but without it “I just made it up”. Instead of a 1k essay you can read the article and decide for yourself.

        @Mike, stop just making this st*ff up and start coming up with solutions. You touched on it with subsidized grocery retail. That could work. Tell us how. Tell me why you do/don’t support Seattle policy that is the exact opposite.

        We probably both were required to read Ecotopia in HS. You do understand that is fiction?

      10. I stopped reading the Times’ comment section years ago because it’s full of fanatics and nonsense. I read STB’s comments because they have none of that; they’re full of thoughtful analyses and ideas.

        You can think what you mike about my facts. I think I remember what I read pretty well; I just don’t remember where or when it was. Maybe I can find it in my browser history; I didn’t think of that. I’m better with books, especially those that changed my way of thinking, so that’s why I cite books more.

        The PM peak is always larger. The AM peak has only commuters; many others are still asleep. The PM peak has commuters, people going to evening activities, and non-working people coming home from midday appointments and errands. They all converge in the late afternoon.

        I don’t know how to subsidize grocery stores in food deserts. I’m not an expert in that.

      11. Glenn, I didn’t say “light rail” was “primarily a commuter transit”. I agree that the vast majority of LR systems serve all-day demand, Pittsburgh being the obvious outlier. Their capacity helps absorb the peak demands, but the reason most are built is that they serve developed areas with constant base demand.

        My point was that the way Link is being built, with long tails into the suburbs where there is currently only peak commuting demand makes it like a “commuter railroad”, but the use of relatively low-speed LR technology subverts one of the main selling points of commuter rail: the high speed between stations.

        I do have some hope that, especially in Snohomish County, there will be enough activity centers strung along Link to accommodate climate change immigration to the Puget Sound region which will generate all-day demand, but it’s not absolutely certain.

        Daniel, I know that Lithium is widely distributed, but that’s exactly the problem. Because it is so light it is everywhere is small concentrations but very few places in large accumulations. That makes extraction expensive even though it won’t run out. That’s why in my original remark about it (https://seattletransitblog.com/2021/12/02/news-roundup-this-afternoon/#comment-885932) I said “economically recoverable”.

        And please, point me to the Cobalt recycling facility where my old permags can be re-melted.

      12. However, despite the reserves, production is not keeping up with demand, according to some (unsourced) publications.

        Batcha it’s that bugaboo “economically recoverable” already rearing its fuzzy head.

      13. I agree with TT on this one. Without peak hour congestion from commuters there is no point is spending over $100 billion on grade separated light rail, and there was little chance voters who are commuters would have voted for ST 2 or 3. Otherwise driving or buses work well in the HOV lanes.

        The other issue is without the full-fare peak commuter — especially on rail whose route and frequency are pretty much sunk costs — the farebox recovery will be inadequate to cover operations, and that is the long-term issue for Link, other than the fact the realignment fails to calculate the costs of inflation during the extension years, or adequately price WSBLE.

        You can’t blame ST for the pandemic, or the decline of Seattle for work-based commuting and retail, but running very expensive lines to distant areas looks like a poor decision today, and it will be interesting to see how shifting work patterns affect farebox recovery per subarea.

        Some areas like East King Co. may do quite well if work and transit patterns simply shift to the eastside rather than Seattle, although WFH will definitely reduce ridership, and ST’s future ridership estimates were inflated before Covid.

      14. TT, most cobalt recycling facilities are in Asia, where the batteries are produced. That said, several companies are building hub and spoke facilities in the US at this point in time, with the first slated to open in 2022 (in NY, though. Not here yet.)

        And the cobalt in the batteries does not need to be melted down. I don’t quite understand the chemistry behind it, but I get the impression that the lithium part of the battery is what needs to be refreshed, and the cobalt is kept the same size and shape as it was when it reached the facility.

      15. Regarding the conflicting numbers for WFH employment, the BLS figures agree with what commenter Mike Orr has indicated.

        “October 2021
        Table 1. Employed persons who teleworked or worked at home for pay at any time in the last 4 weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic by selected characteristics:

        “Total, 16 years and over (in 1,000’s):

        “Total employed- 154,966
        Persons who teleworked because of the coronavirus pandemic, Total- 18,052
        Percent of total employed-11.6%”

        For comparison purposes, these were the figures given for the previous year period (Oct 2020) in the same table format:

        150,433
        31,954
        21.2%

        It’s important to note that the surveys resulting in these BLS figures have a specific purpose. Footnote 1 from the tables clearly states this:

        “Data refer to those who teleworked or worked at home for pay specifically because of the coronavirus pandemic. This does not include those whose telework was unrelated to the pandemic, such as those who worked entirely from home before the pandemic.”

        https://www.bls.gov/cps/effects-of-the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic.htm

      16. Thanks again Tisgwm for burrowing down into government data. I know if you answer this you’d have to kill me… but, did you work for the CIA?

        I want to upfront apologize for impugning your sources Mike… but I still wish you’d include references so there can be discussion without total speculation. Maybe keep a Steno Pad handy or create a bookmarks folder. Do you recall if the article you read even listed a source for the data?

        I pulled up the BLS file for September which is the latest results I found from the Gallup survey. The BLS percentage for total WFH is 13.2% vs 45% from Gallup. The Gallup methodology is described thus:

        Gallup’s trends on remote work are based on Gallup’s COVID-19 survey conducted via web surveys using the nationally representative, probability-based Gallup Panel. The latest results are based on adults employed full time who work for an employer (are not exclusively self-employed).

        The explaination from BLS is:

        The Bureau of Labor Statistics added questions to the Current Population Survey (CPS) to help gauge the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the labor market.

        One difference that jumps out is the Gallup Poll is for adults employed full time. The BLS report includes people as young as 16 and not surprisingly the 16-19 year old range has WFH reported as 1%. It would appear the BLS total also includes the unemployed and there’s no differentiate between those “chronically” unemployed vs those unemployed because of Covid lock downs.

        The anomaly that’s hard to understand is the Gallup numbers show the WFH % holding constant from August through September but the BLS show a consistent decrease. I could attribute this to people entering new jobs. For instance people who retired deciding it was worth taking a job as a school bus driver. Or(Orr), now that we have something to run with; what say y’all?

        A more meaningful statistic might be % that have returned to the office who were previously 100% commute to work. And traffic, it’s not “back to normal”; not even close. As the article points out it’s only the PM peak that is experiencing volumes close to pre-Covid. And that’s easily explained in the linked article by people working from home mixing with the PM commute traffic. The AM traffic is still down and transit use is WAY WAY down.

      17. @Bernie
        Lol. Uh….no. My only time spent working in the public sector was right after law school when I worked in the NY State Legislature decades ago.

        “It would appear the BLS total also includes the unemployed…”

        That’s incorrect. The 154+ million and 150+ million figures for Oct 2021 and Oct 2020 respectively reflect total employed individuals aged 16 and up. The BLS aggregate data always includes this age bracket in its reporting. It’s very consistent in this respect.

        I wouldn’t put a lot of stock into the Gallup survey results. This is not meant to be a slight against the Gallup organization. It does a lot of very good polling in other areas but this isn’t one of them. On the other hand, the BLS is very, very good at what it does in compiling employment data in a number of different ways. This recent supplemental reporting on WFH and teleworking being added to their portfolio of monthly data products was a wise decision. As a result, we, the public, as well our leaders and other policymakers have a reliable and regular source of data to review and analyze in trying to understand current remote employment trends directly related to the pandemic.

        I haven’t read through the Gallup polling methodology as of yet, but I would hazard to guess that they are not segregating pandemic-related remote employment in a similar fashion. If I’m not mistaken, I believe they use a small subset sample of their Gallup Panel for the purposes here and then extrapolate to the various demographic targets using the latest figures from the CPS from the Census Bureau. But if they did the recent survey for Sep 2021 that you’ve cited the same way as they did the one that was published earlier this year, then they are asking a different question of the surveyed panel member, i.e., did said employee work remotely for anywhere from 10% to 100% (based on total hours worked) for their employer in the previous week, than the BLS is asking in their surveys. In other words, the latter is only including remote employment directly related to the pandemic while the former is including all remote employment.

        If you have the time, I would suggest reading about how these Gallup panels function.

      18. Thanks, A Joy. My point to Daniel was that there is no Cobalt recycling here in the US, nor is there any effort to collect Cobalt-containing products.

        You expressed it much better, and it’s good to hear that some efforts are at least planned.

        Also, there was a post that most EV’s use now using ordinary induction motors. That may save the effort.

        However, changing the propulsion mechanism does not end the rapacious destruction of the living world that cars enable and, in fact, drive.

      19. Bernie, I’ll try to keep track of reference-worthy links more. I do bookmark things I intend to post in the next open thread, but in this case I didn’t intend to post it, I only did so because somebody posted something contradictory I didn’t find plausable and it affected our basic transit strategies.

        The ultimate issue is how much of society’s jobs are telework-compatible. It’s far less than 50%, and tekkies can be blind to this. As a futurist in the 80s said, “You can’t eat floppy disks”, meaning the bandwagon utopias don’t don’t always address our most critical needs.

      20. I would hazard to guess that they are not segregating pandemic-related remote employment

        I pretty sure that is correct. If they segregate it it’s not in the 45% number. What’s most annoying with the Gallup methodology is they include people who only work 10% of the time (twice a month) in the “partly working from home”. They do claim 25% are fully remote but this does not include self employed (accountants, consultants, etc. are a small percentage I expect when compared to contractors, landscapers, etc.). But if as I believe is correct, the BLS numbers represent only the covid related effect that means we are essentially back to normal (11% higher). This small percentage is likely to remain remote as the Gallup numbers show there is a leveling off. This is bad news for transit markets like Seattle because it begs the question is that all there is?

      21. My only time spent working in the public sector was right after law school when I worked in the NY State Legislature
        So after that stint with the NY government you went to work for the firm… got it ;-)

    3. My guess is there are a number of reasons why transit ridership lags auto traffic:

      1) A higher proportion of transit commuters now work from home. A lot of large office buildings are still empty. Meanwhile, a lot of retail jobs are operating like before. Those other jobs tend to be more spread out — people who drive now used to drive then.

      2) Social activities have changed. There was a huge increase in outdoor activities because of Covid, and a huge decrease in people going to movies and clubs. That is still an issue. Way more people are driving to Discovery Park, instead of taking transit to a club on Capitol Hill.

      3) Some people are driving for trips that used to involve transit.

      This is all speculation, but I think it is the combination of these. I would also add that the second situation may lead to more car ownership. If your recreation used to consist of going to clubs and walking around the neighborhood, you might end up buying a car if you find yourself driving up to the mountains regularly. Once you own a car, you are more likely to use it, especially to trips that are awkward on transit.

  2. Why “West” Alderwood Station? Where’s the center of Alderwood? I thought the mall was it.

    1. Yeah, it’s a dumb designation for this particular station sighting. Alderwood is just fine. Ask anyone around here where “West Alderwood” is and you’ll get a puzzled look and the inevitable response, “Are you looking for the mall?” I’ve lived in this area for almost 20 years now and I’ve never heard anyone refer to this particular part of Lynnwood as West Alderwood.

    2. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alderwood_Manor,_Washington

      The census-designated place of Alderwood Manor is entirely east of I5, so perhaps staff is reacting to that? Perhaps they felt a need to distinguish between Alderwood Mall, which is west of I5 and in Lynnwood, and the commercial strip along 196th east of I5 that actually in “Alderwood” according to the census bureau?

      The Edmonds school district has both the Alderwood Early Childhood Center and the old Alderwood Middle School well east of I5, which also supports the naming convention. We’ll see if Tlsgwm can find some obscure federal code that supports his man-on-the-street perspective.

      I would imagine it gets shortened to just Alderwood through the public process.

      1. Whatever they call it, please, please, please don’t let them choose “ALD-C”, God.

      2. “We’ll see if Tlsgwm can find some obscure federal code that supports his man-on-the-street perspective.”

        What a childish reply. But, hey, please feel free to elaborate.

        Anyway, speaking of Census-Designated Places (CDP), the population growth percentage in the census tract where the mall actually is (#518.02) has been significant over the last decade. See the link below for the details.

        https://data.statesmanjournal.com/census/total-population/total-pochange/census-tract-51802-snohomish-county-washington/140-53061051802/

        Also, speaking of Alderwood Manor, the following is taken from the wiki entry for a CDP*:

        “The boundaries of a CDP have no legal status[1] and may not always correspond with the local understanding of the area or community with the same name. However, criteria established for the 2010 Census require that a CDP name “be one that is recognized and used in daily communication by the residents of the community” (not “a name developed solely for planning or other purposes”) and recommend that a CDP’s boundaries be mapped based on the geographic extent associated with inhabitants’ regular use of the named place.[5]”

        So yeah, let’s have Sound Transit get creative and just invent a new name and go with “West Alderwood Manor”. Great idea!

        *Link for entire wiki entry:
        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Census-designated_place

      3. All in good fun, Tlsgwm! Just ribbing your impressive ability to dive all the way to the bottom of the nitty gritty on some of these topics … as proven out with your counterexample quote on CDPs :) Well done, sir.

      1. Note that Simon has rebranded the Northgate Mall as Northgate Station. ST has a Northgate Link station. This is atop the ST three stations with “University”.

      2. All stations have “station” at least implicitly. It’s common around the world to have an adjacent real-estate development called “station”. The problem is if the development is far from a station, which doesn’t happen much. The SLU streetcar’s onboard announcements orignally called stations “[Sponsor] Station”. One was “UW Medicine Station” but it was far from UW Medicine. That’s bad. Eventually the streetcar reverted to “[Intersection] Station, sponsored by [Sponsor’}, which is fine.

        The Kent Station shopping center is next to Kent Station,. The Station at Othello Park apartments is adjacent to Othello Station and Othello Park. It may be an unfair marketing advantage against other adjacent apartments, but everybody will be in the right place if they assume the apartments are near the station and the station is near the apartments.

    3. Is “Alderwood” trademarked? If so, “Alder” would also probably work.

      The “west” part seems silly. We don’t have West Columbia City or East Ballard. We have a Shoreline North but we have a Shoreline South too. We do have a South Bellevue but that’s a name given decades ago to the lot. I think of West Alderwood as a placeholder, like SE Redmond or South Federal Way, so it’s not cast in stone and assigned without much debate.

      1. But the totally made up East Main. If there was an East Main (there’s not) it would be over by Sammamish HS. There’s only one and forever will only be one station on Main St in Bellevue so why not just Main St?

      2. Agreed about “East Main”! Technically, the station entrance isn’t even on Main St!

        I never got why “Surrey Downs” was off the table (or something similar like “Surrey Village”).

      3. Right, “East Main” is bad. It seems to mean it’s east of Seattle’s Main Street, which is actually South Main Street. I don’t know if Seattle’s Main Street was ever the primary street or just the developer’s vanity or the developer’s last name was Main. But wasn’t the land Main Street is on owned by Maynard or Yesler? And they chose Yesler Way and Jackson Street as the primary thoroughfares, unless things have changed completely since the streets were named. Which is possible, since 1st Avenue used to be the waterfront, so Main Street could have been the main street. But then why is Pioneer Square at YeslerWay rather than at Main Street? In any case, probably 99% of the people using East Main station probably don’t know Seattle even has a Main Street because it’s on only the most detailed maps.

      4. The emerging neighborhood bounded by 112th, Main, 405, and SE 8th is known as the East Main Transit Oriented District … if that name sticks with the public, then the station name will make sense. The city directly refers to it as the East Main neighborhood.
        bellevuewa.gov/city-government/departments/community-development/planning-initiatives/east-main-transit-oriented-district

        Surrey Downs is the neighborhood immediately south and west of the station, but the station is primarily the access point for the CBD north and east of the station, neither of which would be described as Surrey Downs.

        Al, I believe there will be a station entrance off of Main street, via the new Main Street park lid?

    4. It’s like “West Woodland” then for the area between 11th and 1st Ave NW. I’ve always thought of that as eastern Ballard. I don’t even remember now if West Woodland is preferred by some residents or an epithet that they’re low-density nimbys. Woodland Park seems a long way away, with Phinney Ridge in between, which is an actual physical barrier separating the communities.

      Yes, it’s just a placeholder name for planning, and the final name will be chosen late in the design process like all the other stations, so I won’t ask ST to do anything about it now. We don’t really know what ST is basing the name on, since it doesn’t match either Alderwood Mall or Alderwood Manor. If it was based on the census-defined manor area it would be called “West Alderwood Manor Station”. The EIS process will suitable time to ask ST what it based the name on and why it thinks it’s a good name. Maybe it will have a convincing answer. I just don’t see it now.

      It’s not like “Brooklyn”, which was named after an adjacent minor street, and later gained supporters because it was the original name of the neighborhood and nicely connotes Brooklyn NY and is similarly the second-main part of the city.

      1. “West Woodland” is just one of the many neighborhoods that most people in the city never heard of. My grandfather used to live in Blue Ridge, but when people asked him where he lived, he would just reply “Ballard”. West Woodland is similar, in that it is considered part of greater Ballard (which extends north to Carkeek and east to Greenwood/Phinney Ridge/Fremont) but it isn’t Ballard Ballard. It is like First Hill. First Hill is clearly downtown by many definitions. But it isn’t downtown downtown.

        Complicating matters is that West Woodland is on the edge separating neighborhoods. I think most people consider the flats to be part of Ballard. They consider Phinney Ridge to be up on the ridge. That leaves the area in between (as well as what has been called FreLard). That is, at a minimum, West Woodland. But neighborhoods don’t have official boundaries, and many definitions (including the ones by city clerk) seem inappropriate. Maps differ in their definitions.

        By the way, Pinehurst is similar to West Woodland, in that most people have never heard of it. It is part of greater Northgate (but it isn’t Northgate Northgate). When people ask me where I live I start with “Pinehurst” and then when they look confused I say “Half way between Northgate and Lake City”.

        Anyway, even if the Ballard station ends up at 14th, it would be stupid to call it “East Ballard” or “West Woodland”. It should be called “Ballard”, even though it would be nowhere near the center of it (of course if there are two stations north of the ship canal, that changes everything, and I would call that station 14th).

        Likewise, it would be stupid to call this station anything but Alderwood.

      2. “We don’t really know what ST is basing the name on, since it doesn’t match either Alderwood Mall or Alderwood Manor. If it was based on the census-defined manor area it would be called “West Alderwood Manor Station”.”

        Bingo! It’s just something ST made up for whatever silly reason. Having a Link station in this area goes at least as far back as the initial planning that gave us the first attempt at ST2 in 2007’s failed Roads and Transit ballot measure. In that measure, Link’s expansion northward in phase two included two stations beyond Lynnwood TC, at Alderwood and Ash Way. Those got chopped off, unwisely IMHO, in the second try at ST2 the following year.

      3. Yeah, but Alderwood Manor has a certain sashay to it; sort of like tacking on Village to the name.

      4. “Having a Link station in this area goes at least as far back as the initial planning”

        Well duh, it’s the largest destination in the area. But I always thought it was Alderwood Station. ST must have been calling it that at the time because I don’t see how I could have missed “West Alderwood”.

        Alderwood Manor Station might be OK for the sashay. I like having two stations named after hills, two after a lake, and one of the lakes after an angle, and one after a park, beach, pseudo-mountain, and cove. And Wilburton connotes Wilbur the pig and farms in general. I wish 130th and 145th were named Jackson Park South and Jackson Park North, both because they’re park and because they connote Central Park South and Central Park North in New York. If SE Redmond gets renamed to Marymoor or Marymoor Village, we’ll have a moor. And for people who know Marymoor is a park, it will be another park station.

      5. @Mike Orr
        I believe the West Alderwood nomenclature first popped up in the lead-up to ST3. Back then ST used the placeholder “West Alderwood Mall” on its maps, project description templates and other ST3 Plan documents.

        For example:

        http://soundtransit3.org/map#map

        http://soundtransit3.org/map#full-list

        On a side note, and for the other history buffs who might frequent this blog, this piece gives a nice historical summary of the origins of many of the SW Snohomish County community names.

        https://lynnwoodtoday.com/looking-back-south-snohomish-county-place-names-from-the-past/

      6. Well, West Alderwood is better than West Alderwood Mall. I can see “West Alderwood Mall” in the earliest planning so people would know where the station would be, and there was no existing P&R like at Northgate or Lynnwood. Still, ST didn’t call Seattle Center station “NW Seattle Center” or “SW Climate Pledge Arena”. And the “West” should have been dropped when the first or second map became finalized. The only reason for a “West” station is if there’s also a main station or east station, or if “West” is part of the neighborhood name.

        Seattle has an interesting case of “East North Street”, where East means it’s in the (far) East sector and North is the person it’s named after. I assume, because it’s not north of anything.

        UW has gotten particularly ridiculous. Stevens Way runs in a mirrored C shape, and if you want to avoid backtracking without changing the name, you could call the part north of Pend Orielle Road “North Stevens Way”. But the maps have gotten silly and added NE to everything because it’s the in the northeast sector, even though they’re not regular streets and everybody knows they’re in the northeast sector. It got even sillier and split the street somewhere else and called them east and west instead of north and south, so now you have “S Stevens Way NE”. How is somebody who’s unfamiliar with the area and has just the name to go on supposed to find the street? Which one is the sector, and why is the other one there?

  3. It seems like a missed opportunity that only 6 of PTs 42 new buses are electric. Are they that much more expensive? Supply chain issues? Maintenance and service issues?

    Anyone have any idea?

    1. Most likely PT doesn’t have the charging infrastructure built out yet to support a larger electrical fleet, so it needs to continue to diesel or CNG buses. Typical service life for a bus is 12~14 years, so a target of 20% electric by 2030 means PT will continue to purchase diesel or CNG buses for awhile.

      1. For want of a charger, the world goes up in flames.

        Not as nice a photo op, but maybe they should be focusing their dollars on charging infrastructure, if that’s the case.

        Disappointing to see 36 new fossil-fuel burners on the road for another 12+ years.

      2. 36 fossil fuel buses is better than the 432 cars those passengers would otherwise drive. Buses’ fuel efficiency per capita is at least twice that of cars, so you’d have to add 432 other cars too.

        It’s perfectly reasonable for cities to have a modern transit system even if it’s all diesel buses. We have enough carbon budget for that. What’s not reasonable is for cities to base their transportation infrastructure around SOV cars.

        This is an issue now with Metro. Metro is planning to replace its entire fleet with battery buses within a decade or so rather than waiting for each bus to reach its end-of-life. That’s unnecessary and harmful, because it takes a lot of money that could otherwise be used to increase frequency, add routes, or accelerate the planned RapidRide lines. All that would attract more people from cars, which would have a bigger benefit for both carbon emissions and the environment and society. King County is on board and is reserving money in Metro’s recession-diminished budget for it.

        Metro’s frequency is deficient, and worse in Seattle than it was in 2019. Chicago’s buses run every 5-10 minutes daytime, 20 minutes evening. San Francisco’s buses run at least every 20 minutes both day and evening (absent the covid recession). Moscow’s and St Petersburg’s buses run every 5 minutes both day and evening. That’s the kind of transit you need to get the majority out of their cars. People won’t wait 15 or 30 minutes for a bus and 15 or 30 more minutes for each transfer when they can wait 0 minutes to drive. They will wait 5 or 10 minutes to avoid the disadvantages of driving, as long as it’s guaranteed not to be longer.

    2. I assumed it was just bureaucratic slowness or budget limitations. Metro started with two battery buses for years (on the 226 and another coverage route in Bellevue) before it started buying a handful, and then after that it said it’s converting the entire fleet. The same will probably happen at PT. As if PT has the money to buy all new buses and its voters would approve a tax levy for it. I can’t see PT making such a big deal about these two buses if it didn’t intend to purchase many more.

  4. I have to disagree with Jarrett on at least one point: Nearly every delivery job does involve dealing with people. They may not be on your vehicle for long periods of time, but the interaction is still part of the job.

    As to why transit agencies aren’t hiring fast enough, there are non-job-quality factors involved. The hiring and training processes haven’t changed much, but the available space has, thanks to the pandemic. To hire and train as fast as agencies used to, you have to have several times more space, several times more classrooms, several times more training shifts, several times more trainers, larger classrooms, some combination of these, or willful disbelief in the need to social distance right now by people who are in charge of these processes.

    There is fierce competition among transit agencies for the available drivers, similar to, say, how nations are bidding up the price of vaccine doses, so the rich areas get what’s available and the poorer areas (e.g. Pierce County, relative to King County) get left making equity arguments into the wind.

    Our failure to get enough doses to southern Africa, btw, is coming back to bite us. The Biden Administration’s biggest failure may end up being not standing up a Marshall Plan to get the world vaccinated faster than the virus mutates. The economic damage to the country is far higher than the cost of buying enough doses to get the job done. Nor should we hide behind lack of “consensus” for the other vaccine-producing countries to pitch in their “fair” share. Nor do we need annual world leader con-fabs to grouse about lack of consensus, so every country that has the power to do something blames everyone else for failure to achieve consensus. Whatever. Not getting the world vaccinated is a huge policy fail. But I digress.

    Metro is now running 20-minute headway on my main bus route (60) well into the evening now, perhaps as an investment in 1-Line connecting service, perhaps because route 60 (the northern portion at least) was having (pandemic) crowding issues, or maybe the service guidelines have allowed our relatively rich transit agency to invest in all-day frequency while we haven’t been having to spend all available service hours on reducing peak crowding. Indeed, it seems likely to me that route 60 owes its evening frequency to the pandemic.

    The price of Metro being able to advance to lower priorities in the service guidelines may not just be the mothballing of some peak-direction service, but also the ability of neighboring transit agencies (e.g. Pierce Transit) to provide minimally-useful frequency on their milk runs or even trunk routes.

    This is not to argue that Metro pays too much. I think the vast majority of operators are worth what Metro pays them, and more. More likely, Pierce Transit may not be paying enough to retain its operators. That’s a budget problem. There may be more people who would love to stay in Pierce County and work for the local agency, if the agency could afford to pay them enough. That requires the local political leadership to lobby their legislators for local funding sources.

    Having local R elected officials go to the Legislature and ask for such funding sources may be the Nixon-goes-to-China moment that could pull PT out of its infrequency death spiral. Indeed, the model of pro-transit Rs getting Rs in the legislature to back transit funding is why we now have cross-Sound water taxi service.

    1. Pierce’s exec is not an unreasonable fellow. He is no Trump R. As someone who moved here from NM a year and a half ago, I have not yet gotten a feel for his stance on transit, however. His constituency largely lies in the more rural, poorly served areas of Pierce. So I assumed it wasn’t positive. But I’m happy to be surprised.

      Would he be the best place to lobby, or the local state reps, or someone else?

    2. “Our failure to get enough doses to southern Africa, btw, is coming back to bite us.”

      It’s not just that. South Africa had to wait late to build up its vaccine supply, but as of last week it had more than it could use and declined deliveries because it couldn’t use them before they expire. The reason it has extra vaccines is vaccine refusal, the same reason the US sometimes throws doses away because it can’t find enough recipeints for the rest of an open bottle or before the vaccine expires. Vaccine refusal is probably lower in Africa and Europe than it is in the US but it’s not zero, and it’s probably increasing. Many Africans have some tendencies that we’d associate with right-wing evangelicals, and now that’s being reinforced by the global Trumpist/Putin/Erdogan/Duterte/Bolsonaro/FoxNews/QAnon demagogic movement that’s also anti-vaccine.

      It’s really funny how the demagogic movement gets some of its ideas. One tiny subgroup has a bias, one or two leaders announce their position, and suddenly everybody goes that direction. In the vaccines’ case it seems to be the long-time anti-vaxxers, and somehow it spread to the entire movement.

      1. Vaccine refusal is probably lower in Africa and Europe than it is in the US

        On the nightly news last night (CBS I believe) there was a piece saying vacine refusal in Europe was at 30% and particularly bad in Eastern Europe. Italy also seems to have a large lunatic fringe population.

        It would be difficult to use the Pfizer vaccine in most of Africa. Even the Moderna would be challenging. Not sure about the Oxford Astrazeneca developed in the UK. What ever became of the Russian vaccine?

  5. Very cool story on the microtransit out of Kitsap County. It seems to make a ton of sense for the ferries which are scheduled and you likely have a few residents all trying to make a certain ferry. Outside of the ferry, it seems like it would have a hard time being able to line up multiple point-to-point pickups to make it sustainable, but they seem to make it work. Seems like it’d be a cool thing to try out

    1. I don’t see how microtransit is better than a regular bus when it comes to getting people to the ferry. You time the bus(es) to arrive before the ferry, you time it to leave after the ferry arrives. Either way, if you cover areas that don’t have a lot of people, it becomes expensive. If you have a fair number of riders, it doesn’t. This is popular because it is expensive — spend more money on a better system, and of course people like it.

    2. Bainbridge has very little transit. The routes are on KT’s site in the North Kitsap Guide, routes 93-99. They all run four times peak only, with no midday or weekend service. Maybe there was more service pre-covid, and I thought you could get from the ferry to Poulsbo midday and Saturday, but it doesn’t now. So would-be riders are eager for alternatives, especially for intra-island shopping and things. I couldn’t see anything on the Pongo site about which hours or days it runs, so does that mean it’s 24 hours? Or all except evenings,nights, and Sundays?

      1. Here’s KT’s Pingo page, but it also doesn’t say anything about when it runs.

        On-demand transit can serve 2-3 passengers per hour while even lightly-used coverage routes get 10 or more according to Jarrett Walker. They have to drive from one person’s destination to the next, or back to the origin, and make more turns and meanders than a fixed bus would, and all that adds up.

        I’ve been surprised at how many riders some coverage routes get when I started counting. Taking the layman’s appoximation of 10 per hour for a cost-effective route, I took the 906 (S 180th Street) from Southcenter to Ikea on a Saturday afternoon and counted 8, and that’s just a third of the route. The entire route is half an hour, so it just needs 10 in a round trip (ignoring layovers). Likewise my last trip in the 226 had 4 in ten minutes, but the entire route is 45 minutes so it has plenty of time to get more. The 50 and 62 are an hour from end to end, so even though they have lightly-used eastern segments it doesn’t matter much.

        (Has the 62’s eastern half picked up after the Roosevelt station opening?)

      2. Mike Orr, look through those schedules more closely; KT has routes in the 300 series that do run all-day/all-week, connecting to areas off island. But most of Bainbridge only has peak service.

      3. https://www.kitsaptransit.com/uploads/pdf/system-maps/current-system-map-february24.pdf
        The Kitsap Transit service map. Before Covid, it was fairly robust in Poulsbo and on Bainbridge. They had a clever two-way peak-only route between the Kingsgate and Eagle Harbor WSF boats via Indianola.

        There are several aspects of micro transit that make it difficult to scale, despite its backroom computing power: small vehicles with low capacity; deviations that slow the trips of early boarding riders; high cost. One wonders about the Kitsap cost per rider and what better use could be made of the service subsidy.

        Both fixed route transit and micro transit involve a combination of waiting, walking, and in-vehicle time. Fixed route transit tends to have better reliability than flexible service with deviations and uncertain pickups and running times.

        SDOT and Metro are mistakenly applying micro transit where they also provide fixed route local transit, so the new mode duplicates the older one and both have less productivity than otherwise. Via is costly per ride; Ride2 was a money burning disaster.

  6. The central tension in transit systems is the perpetual conflict between convenience and efficiency, transit analysts say. Efficient is bus stops and stations where people and vehicles collect. Convenient, as Uber and Lyft have demonstrated, is being able to walk outside a door and call a ride with an app.

    But real-time transit and traffic data filtered through increasingly sophisticated predictive – and proprietary – algorithms, have begun to bridge the gap between the two. A convenient, on-demand transit system becomes more efficient the more popular it gets and the better it analyzes data.

    I see no evidence to support the second paragraph. First, the problem is not the algorithm(s). An all seeing, all knowing being still can’t come up with a more efficient two dimensional shape than a circle. With a little bit of effort, I can concoct a program that circulates through millions of different polygons, starting with a triangle. And yet, when it is all done, you are still left with a circle as the most efficient shape. The shapes that come close are those that are closest to a circle such as a megagon (yes, I had to look that up).

    The same is true with mass transit. The more efficient a shared taxi-cab system becomes, the more it resembles a fixed-route, fixed-time (FRFT) transit system. This is the fundamental error made by proponents (most of which are techies). They assume the problem is information, when it isn’t. The idea that “on-demand transit system becomes more efficient the more popular it gets and the better it analyzes data” ignores the fact that the same thing happens with FRFT transit, to a much higher degree. Both have trade-off, but a fixed route, fixed time systems are well, fixed. If I catch a bus, I have a very good idea of how long a ride it will be, and how long I will wait (at worst). Sometimes, I know exactly how long I will wait (as I time the bus). But with an on-demand system, everything is up in the air. It might be a short ride, or it might detour all over the place before I get where I want to go. Likewise, if the system is busy, I might have to wait a really long time for the van.

    It simply can’t be as efficient as a typical bus, even a coverage route. At best it provides service for those who are unable to access regular transit, something we’ve had for a long time (as have most agencies).

  7. A couple of weekend ago I travelled from Lake Forest Park to see a movie in Northgate. I assumed the fastest way would be to take the 522 to LCW/125th and transfer to a bus to Northgate. But Google Maps told me to take the 522 all the way to Roosevelt and take Link up to Northgate. And despite being several miles longer, that did turn out to be the faster option. Which tells me that 1) Link is really good at connecting neighborhoods, 2) Metro has failed to improve local connectivity, and 3) AI is good at coming up with efficient yet counterintuitive routes.

    1. It is all about frequency. Back in the day, you would have taken either the 522 or 372, followed by the 41 or 75. Now you’ve got the 75 or 20, both of which are significantly less frequent than their old counterparts. Metro decided to put the money into special rush hour express buses to South Lake Union and First Hill, instead or service within the neighborhoods. On top of that, the mayor decided to propose a smaller package to voters (that passed overwhelmingly). That is why Metro failed to improve local connectivity (and your trip involved going to Roosevelt).

      1. The RossB answer is sound, but slightly overstated. On weekdays, Route 75 provides 15/15 (peaks/midday) headway and Route 20 provides the same. For a few signups, the STBD brought Route 41 headway to 10/10, but that investment declined with the STBD renewal, as the .15 cents does not raise as much as the VLF and .1 cents combined. The Lorig theater is east of 3rd Avenue NE. Route 522 was implemented in fall 2002; Route 41 got 15/15 headway and a coordinated connection with routes 522 and 372 at NE 125th Street; Route 75 was a bonus. For parts of LFP, ST degraded the transfer with Route 331 by discontinuing the Route 522 service to the stop pair at SR-104, so the transfer point disappeared. Yes, Route 372 only serves LFP on weekdays.

        If ST were more service oriented, both routes 522 and Link would have shorter headways and waits during all time periods. They have three large streams of tax revenue.

    2. One option you could consider is, rather than plan the entire trip out in advance, start on the 522, then pull up OneBusAway as you approach Lake City to see how long the wait is for the 75. If it’s short, get off and wait for it. If it’s long, stay on the bus and backtrack on Link.

      The specific location within Northgate you’re going to also has bearing on the answer, as the station is really on the south end of Northgate, rather than at the center. If you’re going somewhere at the north end, like Target, the walk time at the end tilts the calculus in favor of waiting for the 75 unless the wait is really long.

      1. That’s a good approach — to check your phone while on the bus. Worth mentioning is that the 20 is faster than the 75. The new 75 takes over the old 41 route, which is a bit slower to Northgate.

        I was thinking about the destination as well. The theater isn’t too far from the station, but it isn’t right next to it either. The stop for the 20 is closest. The 75 uses 100th, which is almost as much walking as from the train station (although a lot more pleasant).

        I am a bit surprised that Google suggested using Link, given the time it takes to get into the station and out again. I picked some random times, and it seemed to favor the bus-to-bus combination in almost all cases.

        Was this the weekend? That could explain it. You would be completely reliant on the 522 for the first trip. The 75 is OK, but the 20 drops down to every half hour. That means that there are a lot fewer bus-to-bus combinations that will work, and the most likely one (522 to 75) takes the slower route.

        This may be a classic case of Metro putting too much money into the commuter trips, and not enough into weekend service.

      2. Yes, the stars aligned and this was a combination of A) it was the weekend so no 372, B) the 522 just missed the 20 by a couple of minutes, C) the 522 just missed the 75 by a couple of minutes and the next 75 was running 5-10 minutes late, and D) I was going to a location close to the the Link station. But it still says something about Metro service that with 2 different buses connecting urban villages Lake City and Northgate, diverting to Roosevelt to Link was even on the table as a more competitive option.

  8. The Urbanist has an article laying out increased funding for Metro. https://www.theurbanist.org/2021/12/08/metros-2022-budget-to-restore-service-and-fund-new-capital-investments/

    “A revised budget for King County Metro will expand resources in 2022, allowing the agency to restore more service and focus on additional capital investments. Approved in November, the revised budget increases transit operations funding by nearly $55 million and appropriates $114 million in capital investments.”

    By far the largest expenditure is “$63.1 million for the interim bus base battery charging facility in Tukwila that will be capable of handling 105 battery-electric buses.”

    It isn’t clear to me how much of the new funding is due to federal stimulus funding. But electrification comes at the expense of operations. In Nov. 2020 Metro suspended the 20% — 25% farebox recovery goal, and tapped reserves to maintain Metro’s operations, although as noted in The Urbanist increased wages and costs far outstripped inflation. https://www.theurbanist.org/2020/11/20/newly-approved-metro-budget/

    Farebox recovery rates were suspended until Nov. 2022, and had dipped to below 15%. With the costs of electrification and likely reduction in future federal stimulus I would think Metro will have to increase farebox recovery rates to maintain these levels of operations and capital investment, continue to tap reserves, or pass a county wide levy.

    1. There’s only so much room to raise fares before you start to hit a death spiral. Already, fares are at a level where, once a car is a sunk cost, it is quite often cheaper to drive and park than to pay for bus fare. For short trips involving multiple people(*), bus fare can even start to rival riding in a taxi.

      (*) The cost for a one-mile trip in a taxi is around $7-8. The cost of 3 one-way adult bus fares is $8.25 (or $9 if you have neither Orca cards nor a stack of 9 quarters on you).

      Granted, lower-income people and somewhat insulated from this, due to their fare discounts, but if we ever reach a point where nobody who doesn’t qualify for the low-income discount rides the bus, then the low-income fare effectively becomes the only fare, and the only way to keep the fare recovery ratio up is to raise the low-income fare.

    2. Metro’s fares were among the highest in the country in the late 2000s to mid 2010s at least, and I doubt the rest of the country has caught up. There’s been a bunch of discussion over the years of fare comparisons between cities. Portland’s fares are like Metro’s were fifteen years ago and you can get a MAX/bus daypass for the price of a roundtrip or a bit more at any MAX TVM unless it’s changed in the past few years. The only place I’ve seen that’s noticeably more expensive is New York City — but you get three or four times potential destinations, two or three times as much frequency, and good overnight service for your dollar. You may not use all these services but they’re available so that’s a benefit in itself. Somebody who lives there will eventually need them, and it’s only because they run every hour that they’re running this hour.

      Metro has a farebox recovery window of around 20-30%, so whenever it nears the floor, the county council raises the fare. Whenever gas prices or medical insurance goes up, Metro’s fare does too. That’s how they got so high. It hasn’t been happening since covid started because the council has been more lax about it.

      When ridership plummeted in early 2010, both Metro and ST slashed service proportionally or so. Most peak and many all-day routes were suspended, the frequency gains in Seattle’s TBD vanished, and frequency was cut futher. Metro kept a core of routes running every 15 minutes all day so essential workers could get around. Link lost its peak frequency, 10 minute daytimes became 15 minutes, and 10-15 minute evenings and I think weekends became 30 minutes. I stopped riding Link because it was unusable. It reversed the situation between Link and buses. Now the 7 and 36 were more frequent than Link, Link’s wait time erased its speed advantage, and buses have posted schedules while Link’s next-arival displays were either turned off or wildly inaccurate. The displays said absurd things like 45 minutes, or remained stuck on 12 minutes for days while trains passed.

      All the city governments, the public, and King County said “No! Keep the frequency up!”, and Metro restored some service. L:ink remained bad. Frequency is essential or some trips and transfers become non-viable. Federal grants came to keep up service and they used that.In the summer Metro thought offices would reopen this fall so in October Metro restored several coverage routes and peak expresses. It said if would have to make big cuts in 2022 if ridership didn’t come back. Now it’s increasing service in 2022, presumably because of more sales-tax revenue and maybe federal grants. But I assume that just postpones the big cuts, not eliminate them.

      It all depends on whether transit should pay for itself or is an essential service, and whether usable frequency is more important than other things. The county and cities have been leaning toward the latter the past year and a half, and to me that’s a good thing. We don’t need politicians who don’t think transit is important; we see what happens in other American cities where people have to drive cars or take taxis and those who can’t can’t get around, and we need those essential workers.

    3. According to the article, this will provide for 241,000 annual service hours. This sounds great, but I don’t know what this actually means. First we have to get back to where we were (and I don’t know how much that takes).

      But I also don’t know many service hours is required for a typical route. The Metro accountability report (https://kingcounty.gov/~/media/depts/metro/accountability/reports/2020/system-evaluation-attachment-a.pdf) does provide a clue though. The 27, for example, uses about 50 hours a weekday. Assume the same on weekends, for a little over 18,000 a year. So if we doubled frequency on the 27, it would use up less than 10% of the increase. That bus is unusual in that I think it really needs an increase in frequency, and doesn’t use much service right now. The 62, for example, uses close to 250 hours a day, but doubling frequency would be overkill. I have no idea if this is even in the ballpark, but it does sound very promising. I wonder if this is anywhere near the increase we saw in Seattle when we passed the first levy (and we saw ridership jump).

      1. The number of service hours a route uses isn’t that difficult to calculate. By definition, a service hour means the total number of hours that a bus spends doing anything other than sitting at the base – be it carrying passengers, laying over between trips, or driving empty between the bus route and the base.

        A typical route takes about 45 minutes to go from one end to other. Throw in 15 minutes of layover, and a round trip cycle time is 2 hours. This means 2 hours divided by the amount of time between trips is the number of buses the route requires. This works out to be 4 buses for a route that runs every 30 minutes, or 8 buses if the route runs every 15 minutes.

        Now, let’s imagine a bus with a fairly typical “frequent” schedule – every 15 minutes from 6 AM to 9 PM, every 30 minutes from 5 AM to 6 AM and 9 PM to midnight. So, there’s 15 hours each weekday with 8 buses in circulation, plus 4 additional hours with 4 buses in circulation. Do the math, the total daily service hour cost works out to be 15*8 + 4*4 = 136 service hours. Assuming each bus requires 15 minutes of deadheading between the route endpoint and the base (which all 8 buses in service at least part of the day must pay twice), the total cost increases to 140 service hours per day.

        We can now convert the daily cost into an annual cost. The “proper” way to do this would be to multiply the cost per weekday by the number of weekdays in a year, then repeat all of the above over again with the weekend schedule, multiply by the number of weekend/holiday days in a year, and add everything up. To keep the math simple, I’m just going to assume the weekday schedule even on weekends and multiply 140 by 365. This over-estimates the weekend service cost, but my above numbers don’t account for additional rush-hour trips, which almost all routes have, so we’re actually under-estimating the weekday cost, and hopefully, the two errors at least approximately cancel out. The result of 140*365 is 51,100. So, back-of-the-envelope, a new workhorse route that runs frequent service all day long costs approximately 50,000 annual service hours.

        Now, we divide. 241,000 / 50,000 = 4.82. So, 241,000 new annual service hours is enough to fund approximately 4 new routes, systemwide (or 8 new routes that run all day every 30 minutes instead of every 15 minutes), with the frequency of the 40 or 120, plus make minor improvements to the schedules of several existing routes. This is a non-trivial chunk of change, enough to make a real difference in people’s lives.

      2. That is in the same ballpark as the chart I referenced. Assuming platform hours is the same as service hours, the chart is more accurate.

        But none of that covers the big issue — making up for the service deficit. It isn’t clear how deep in the hole we are right now. It may be that this only works out to half of the service improvement we would like to see.

        There are a lot of other complicating factors, like the driver shortage, and peak service. Peak service tends to be more expensive, which means that your service dollars don’t go as far. The driver shortage probably makes that situation worse, unless new hires would rather work part time.

      3. service hour means the total number of hours that a bus spends doing anything other than sitting at the base

        I think that’s Platform Time [hours]
        The time during which an operator operates the revenue vehicle in a) line service or in deadheading (including layover periods in the vehicle at a rest point) or b) for charter, contract, and special non-contract service, or is deadheading or laying over as a result of such service.
        The National Transit Database Glossary doesn’t have an entry for service hour/time. There is an entry for Revenue Service (Miles, Hours, and Trips)
        The time when a vehicle is available to the general public and there is an expectation of carrying passengers.

  9. A funny thing about the night owls. The maps on 3rd Avenue that tell which routes stop at which stops have a prominent box around some route numbers. You might think they’re the most frequent routes, but they’re the routes with night owls. They look quite impressive: maybe a dozen and 25% of the total compared to just four north-south routes before 2012. And they’re so prominent even people who aren’t looking for them will notice them, because as I said they look like the most frequent routes.

    But if you read the small print it’s an illusion: Metro inflated the number of night owl routes by redefining night owl to start at midnight rather than 2am. So even routes like the 5 are now night owl, even though they run no later than they previously did.

    I saw this in Bellevue too. I was at a RapidRide stop reading the schedule and it said night owl. I thought, “What?! The Eastside has never had night owls except the 280 Seattle-Bellevue-Renton loop on Bellevue Way.” And sure enough, it only meant it runs until 12:30am (westbound). The B’s predecessor the 253 always did that too. So nothing to see here, move along.

  10. I had one of those Bellevue experiences today. I ride my bike to Lincoln Square, and prepare to lock my bike up, only to discover that all of the bike racks in front of Lincoln Square are completely blocked to make room for holiday decorations on the street. It was not clear at all where bike users are supposed to park, and it was obvious that nobody in the city of Bellevue had even bothered to think about the issue or ask the question.

    What does it take to get city officials to treat bike racks as an important piece of transportation infrastructure that you don’t just casually block access to for a month straight, for the sake of decorations?

    1. Not sure what it would take. The city council is very pro-driving, and could hardly care less about biking.

  11. I did not know that pedestrians entering Judkins Park Station will have to cross a track to get to the platform if they are entering from the west entrance. I guess I thought they were going away from that with ST2 and ST3 construction projects.

    1. There’s also a track crossing to get to the west bound platform at Overlake Village. I don’t know if people crossing 520 on the Ped Bridge will be able to access the EB platform directly because the bridge (for no apparently good reason) is still fenced off.

      Judkins Park could easily have been set up to have entrances to both sides but you’d double the cost of stairs/escalators. Which may have made a center platform more cost effective. ST really isn’t very good about making station design public prior to construction.

      1. I just thought it was interesting. The first artcle on this News Round Up brought it to my attention.

      2. Luckily it’s only one track and it’s right after the train is stopped. Even if someone walks across the tracks, the driver will be moving slowly enough to stop.

        Of course, it’s not as safe as fully separated crossings. I’ll add that the entirety of MLK from Walden to Norfolk require pedestrians to cross both tracks at the same time.

        I’m more worried about where two tracks are crossed by pedestrians like at East Main. That’s compounded by trains emerging from a tunnel although in that case trains in both directions will be moving slowly.

      3. My understanding is that Judkins Park is to have no down escalators. Since the elevation changes are greater here, that seems like the more foolish cost-cutting measure to me.

        Roosevelt gets down escalators but not Judkins Park? Hello equity police!

      4. At Overlake Village I believe there is a crossing gate. But I’ll have to go back and take another look to be sure. Of course the problem with that is someone ignoring the signal and trying to beat the gate gets stuck between them.

        I just hiked over to Judkins Park. It is a center platform. Looks like the reason the Dearborn access is north of the WB track is because of the crossover switch west of the station. The construction fence has been reconfigured on Dearborn so you can now (sort of) use the east side (NB) sidewalk. If you are accessing the station from Dearborn on the east side you have a choice of one set of stairs, one escalator or one elevator. On the west side there is only one set of stairs and one elevator. So, if one elevator is out of commission are they going to create some way for people unable to use stairs to cross the street?

      5. @AI S.
        You are right about the MLK section. My comment was influenced by the 1st article. I also believe that the planning of ST2 and ST3 was to make Line 1 and 2 function more like a true Metro system. At least that was my take on it. Much more grade seperation and non grade pedestrian crossings planned in the routing and stations. So when I see it on a ST2 funded project, it just seems weird to me.

      6. ST2 significantly leverages the at-grade capabilities LRT technology, with at-grade operation in Bel-Red very simillar to Rainer Valley (albeit a shorter segment) and at-grade stations at East Main, Bel-Red, and SE Redmond.

        FWIW, I don’t believe any of the Lynnwood Link stations will have down escalators. Those were value engineered away in the final design.

        For ST3, right now it appears all of the stations are fully grade separated, but TBD if that remains. The at-grade capabilities LRT technology are an immense source of cost savings, so I hope some at-grade operations emerge as the alignments move through early design.

      7. It’s exciting to see East Link get close to completion. Will be really interesting when trains start going through but there is still a lot of work to do on I-90. I should mention that the only place you can actually see the platform is a small sliver between the station entrance on 23rd and the noise wall and the track crossing to get to Dearborn is way far away. I did notice now that you can walk under I 90 on the east side of Dearborn that the pedestrian chute is right at the level of the cars on I-90 and only has a barrier that’s about the same as the bike path on I-90. And unless they just haven’t finished it the entire length is uncovered. I would be tempted to use the 23rd entrance even though I work on Dearborn since the walk back down is on a path through the park vs walking along the freeway and Dearborn.

      8. Oops, sorry… yes that should have said Rainier. Too many years of only using that exit to get to Dearborn.

    2. Luckily it’s only one track and it’s right after the train is stopped. Even if someone walks across the tracks, the driver will be moving slowly enough to stop.

      Good point. On page six of the final design, you can see this quite well (https://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/project-documents/east-link-judkins-park-display-boards-05022018.pdf). There is a center platform, and if you are approaching from the west, you cross over the westbound track. A train headed across that crossing has come to a complete stop.

      It makes wonder if there will be a gate or signal, for when the train actually pulls out. I’m not that worried about an accident, just people streaming by, as the train waits to go. That sort of thing can happen with buses, but typically there is a traffic light. Likewise with the crossings on MLK.

  12. https://www.newsbreak.com/news/2456522181863/violent-crime-plagues-sound-transit-s-mount-baker-station?_f=app_share&s=a3&share_destination_id=ODg4NTk0NjAtMTYzOTA3NDg4MzY1Nw==&pd=060qP6wn&hl=en_US

    Tuesday, I had to pick up my car that was being serviced. Since it was raining I walked from my office to the bus stop on 5th and Jackson and caught the bus to 12th and Jackson as the repair shop is on 12th and S. King. (I am sure Mike Orr is shaking his head at paying $2.75 for 7 blocks uphill, but I was running late, and it is a Firm ORCA card).

    The station at 5th and Jackson was pretty sketchy with one fight between two women and a bunch of folks sharing a bottle of booze and the usual screaming, but the bus stop at 12th and Jackson was like an open Meth bazaar.

    I had read in the Seattle Times where the merchants feel the city has abandoned Little Saigon, and two mainstay restaurants are closing, and we often went there for Thai or Vietnamese food, but I was shocked by what I saw, and got the hell out of there as quickly as I could, along with the other riders. And this was daylight.

    It wasn’t the riders on the bus. They were the kind of folks you would expect on that route, mostly older Asians. But if the stations, bus stops and streets are not safe there is no way riders are returning, either to downtown Seattle offices or to transit in Seattle. Next time I will definitely take Uber. Forget about frequency and coverage if you are afraid to wait at a bus stop or enter a light rail station. It just blows me away that some on this blog think the solution is to transfer outside Seattle.

    1. Transferring outside downtown is to improve the network circulation and for passenger convenience, not to abandon neighborhoods and let them die. Two examples now are the 255 and 522. Say you’re going from the airport to Kirkland or Lake City. The transfer point moved from downtown to UW or Roosevelt. It’s the same level of convenience as before, but now you’re transferring in a less crowded area and you’re not adding to the downtown crowd. It removed two buses from downtown, fulfilling the city’s goal of reducing the crowd of buses there. A larger percent of the trip is on Link, which is more predictable than uneven freeway traffic, and to some people more pleasant.

      Some trips have multiple alternatives so you can transfer either downtown or elsewhere as you wish.

      It also gives the ability to transfer outside an unsafe area, but that’s a side benefit. The proper response to unsafe areas is to make them safe.

      I don’t usually ride short distances on e-purse because I’m frugal, but sometimes I do when I’m tired or carrying heavy groceries. When I had a monthly pass those short trips were free.

    2. I’ve lived in downtown for the last eleven years, and these past two years are the first times that I truly feel unsafe in the area. For instance, I would not catch any bus on third avenue now – regardless of the time after several unpleasant experiences.

    1. Interesting that they also found rideshare didn’t strongly effect rail ridership for large agencies, but did hit it in mid-range agencies. Makes me think that in larger cities with established rail systems, people who centered their transportation options around rail transit were much more likely to stick to it than people who rode the bus.

      Based on further watching, they explain that the biggest hit was to nighttime ridership, which makes sense given that even now, I’d much rather pay extra for a lyft home after bar-hopping than wait for a bus to show up.

  13. Is there a record store around with a good darkwave type selection? I haven’t bought CDs for quite a while and the stores I used to go to are gone, and Singles Going Steady only has a few genres. I’m also interested in electroswing and ambient. These can be hard to find in general record stores.

    1. My go to record store was Goodwill in Bellevue. The record section was great when it was in the old location south of FM and west of 148th. It’s not so great since they moved to the old Pay N Pak location. In the good olde days, the DT Seattle GW had the Miss Bardahl in the museum section. Now that floor area is holiday decorations. What happened to all the dioramas that were like the Lemay tour before it got shoved into ACM?

    2. I’ll go to Easy Street tomorrow and see if they have what I’m looking for or know who does. There’s also a punk record store on Pike Street I’ve been meaning to try. There was an industrial/goth store on Pike Street that would be the most likely but it’s gone. It’s unlikely to be in a Goodwill donation: I’d have to check every week for years and it still probably wouldn’t come up.

      My main record shops in the 80s and 90s were Cellophane Square and the trio of other used shops in the U-District, and Peaches and Tower Records. The only surviving shop on the Ave from that time is Big Al’s or whatever it’s called now at 52nd. Google says there’s a new shop at 55th. In the 2000s I went to Singles Going Steady for ska and oi stuff.

      In Bellevue I went to Easy Street in Overlake, not related to the one in West Seattle, and Rubato Records in downtown Bellevue.

      I don’t remember where Pay n Pak was. Was it on the northeast corner of Main & Bellevue Way? There was an Ernst there, and then something else, then a sporting-goods store, and now it seems to be a huge Starbucks.

      I suddenly got the bug for record stores because I discovered Lebanon Hanover, which reminded me of the songs at the Vogue in the 90s, but this band started in 2011. I was going to get it online but I’d rather get it locally or see if they can order it, to support a local business,.

      1. Have you ever been to Golden Oldies on 45th in Wallingford? It’s geared toward vinyl but they have CDs too. The place is packed with used merchandise so it may not be the place to go if you’re looking to buy new. They used to do special orders but I’m not sure about today. I always liked browsing thru their inventory in search of old albums I wanted to buy to replace my collection that I left back east when I moved out here. The staff always seemed friendly and helpful whenever I popped in, but I haven’t shopped there since moving to Edmonds years ago. The last I knew they were still open for business. We have a Silver Platters location here in Lynnwood but I haven’t found their staff to be as knowledgeable. They’re probably well out of your search area anyway. Good luck!

    1. Now, the million dollar question: Will ST finally join the first world and get open gangway trains?

      1. No, they had the opportunity with Northgate Link and didn’t, in spite of us begging them to. ST said it’s important to them to have identical cars so they can switch out any one for any other for maintenance. They ignored the free 20% capacity increase open-gangway cars would provide.

      2. Nobody makes that in a design that is compatible with light rail platforms.

        Among other challenges it means making fold-out cab controls at each car end, so that any cab can be converted into a mid-train end.

        It’s one of the most frustrating things about transit in the USA: unless a manufacturer sees a need for a product, they won’t offer it. If a transit agency doesn’t see a product being offered, they won’t put it into specifications to buy something. This vicious circle pretty much has the industry stuck with little progress since 1996, when TriMet decided to be the first in the nation to order a light rail car with a low floor section.

    2. potential unknown issues
      Like getting put on the register of hysterical places as the home of JP Patches.

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