164 Replies to “Weekend open thread: “The System” — Classic NYC subway cinematography”

  1. King county Metro should remove buses from third avenue immediately. The area around pike and pine is unsafe. I think transit ridership would improve if bus routes didn’t have to traverse this downtown stretch.

    1. Anecdote? Evidence? Alternatives?

      This comment belongs below a Seattle Times article, not on STB.

      1. While not directly on topic, Mike’s comment goes to a truth many don’t want to believe: without addressing public safety on the streets everything else we discuss about transit — or urbanism — is irrelevant. Because the rest of us spend very, very little time on the streets, or live where there might not be much transit but the streets are totally safe.

        However, both Nathan and Mike are correct. There is no alternative to 3rd. The buses won’t leave 3rd because many businesses believe the buses are the cause of the street conditions on 3rd Ave., and the higher end downtown retailers have relocated to other Avenues. No one wants the buses. The only place a new “transit mall” (a wonderful euphemism) could go is west to 2nd or likely First, and Seattle is too hilly for that.

        The job for Harrell is to prove the current conditions on 3rd are not caused by transit. 3rd will always be sketchier than 4th — 6th, and today First (second is plenty sketchy) but it shouldn’t be like this, just like the bus stop on 12th and Jackson shouldn’t be too dangerous to use, even in the daytime.

        I can’t think of an analogy to 3rd and Pine or 12th and Jackson on the Eastside. I don’t know of anyone afraid to use transit on the Eastside. So hopefully if the Harrell administration takes public safety and crime seriously people and businesses will stop thinking transit in downtown Seattle is the cause of the conditions on 3rd Ave.

        Or we can pretend it doesn’t exist and watch transit ridership continue to decline while driving continues to increase. No one not on this blog will risk their safety for transit or progressive ideology, not when you have a car in the garage, or Uber, parking is free many places, and today there is little congestion.

        So Nathan is correct that there is no political or practical alternative to 3rd for buses through downtown Seattle, and Mike is correct many areas along 3rd in Seattle are too dangerous to use for transit. So the only alternatives are to clean up 3rd, or don’t use transit.

      2. I agree that 3rd can feel pretty sketchy, especially if you are perturbed by visible mental instability/poverty and don’t like having to keep your head on a swivel and tight grip on your stuff. “Dangerous” is a bit of a stretch, I think, but that’s probably because whenever I visit downtown, it’s either the ID or taking visitors to tourist hotspot that are too crowded to be worrisome.

        I find it strange that many people call out Pike/Pine as the sketchiest portion of 3rd, when I feel most insecure around Bell and down by Jackson.

        However, the idea that transit ridership would somehow increase if buses didn’t run down 3rd is not an idea I understand. I can’t think of a line that connects two significant destinations outside of downtown that “traverses” third avenue such that people avoid that route because it passes through 3rd, not because their destination stops are unsafe.

        Is the idea that if all the incoming buses truncated at 3rd outside of downtown, somehow that would garner more riders? Are people really afraid of the folks who get on at third and ride out of downtown?

        Because otherwise it’s a matter of social service capacity and affordable housing capacity, both of which are severely lacking.

      3. If transit ridership doesn’t recover in the next couple of years then maybe it’s time to look at join operations again in the bus tunnel. Bring Mark Dublin back as director of operations :-)

      4. Is 12th and Jackson unsafe?

        I ask because I have experience there. I used to wait for the bus there a few days per week. I understand it’s a hangout spot for many people, and it can be raucous at times. When I first got to Seattle I felt uncomfortable waiting there because I felt it was strange. But ultimately I never saw anything happen at the bus stop to anyone. Not even any catcalling.

      5. I heard the story about restaurants closing in Little Saigon because of crime on the radio news (KOMO or KIRO). I found this link that’s not behind a paywall:

        Little Saigon may lose 2 famous restaurants due to lack of pedestrians and 9 other closed areas in Seattle.

        But lots of restaurants have closed and the lack of pedestrians it mostly because of covid.

        The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (a privately owned service provider attempting to look official) has a Top Ten list they “made up” of most Dangerous Places and Bad Neighborhoods. The ID is 10th on the list for dangerous places. Check out the map for the University District. The author was obviously confused by all the Link stations with University in their name :=)


        Generally, Seattle has a low crime rate, not withstanding the significantly high rate of property crimes. Just like the other big cities, it is a safe city, which still has a few dangerous areas. And still ongoing is the massive redevelopment which would fully transform the neighborhood to a greater one. However, visiting the city means being aware of your surroundings.

      6. That’s too bad about the restaurants. I’ve been to one of those restaurants in question multiple times. I do think that the loss in foot traffic can’t only be put on crime, even if that’s the owner’s impression. But obviously the break-ins and thefts can’t be wished away.

      7. I think the lack of pedestrian traffic because of Covid/lock downs is directly related to the increase in property crime. If an area is active I think there’s less chance a car will be broken into because there’s a greater chance someone will report it and possibly catch the perp on cell phone video. It’s a trend that’s going to be hard to reverse since who wants to open a restaurant/retail/etc when these conditions exist and get worse with every boarded up business.

      8. Yes, absolutely. Check out the third bullet item from this report (https://econofact.org/crime-in-the-time-of-covid):

        * Home burglaries dropped while commercial burglaries and car thefts rose.

        … With people at home, that also meant there were fewer eyes on non-residential buildings, which led to an increase in those burglaries – by around 38% on average across the cities examined. …

    2. Hmmm, I was just at Westlake a couple nights ago. What I saw was Christmas decorations in place of the mothballed carousel and people moving around happily, still shopping the old-school way. A noticeable chunk of them were wearing Kraken jerseys.

      The monorail was getting good ridership, at least headed north. The 1 Line had heavy turnover at the station, picking up more than those alighting.

      The only grumbling I noticed was people trying to get on the elevator next to the broken-down escalator, seemingly oblivious to the other up escalator 50 yards to the west, and unwilling to climb the stairs. That’s yet another ST communication failure in not having a sign there pointing to the alternative escalator option. But hey, grousing about Metro lets ST get a pass from having to do the simplest of communications.

      I confess I’ve waited at bus stops on 3rd Ave a lot less since the Line Now Known as 1 opened. I prefer taking route 60 over route 132 south. It is less circuitous and more reliable. I tend to take route 60 rather than 132 north as well, again because it is more reliable, but I get on the 132 if it shows up first, as the 60 is more circuitous in the northbound direction. And then I transfer at the first station I reach, because the 1 Line is just faster to get where I’m going (which rarely is downtown, just because what I’m looking for happens not to be downtown).

      I expect boardings on 3rd Ave to improve this year as automated camera enforcement helps clear the SOVs off. More people actually waiting for a bus should have some effect of pushing those there for loose business away from the stops.

      1. I thought 3rd Ave. was closed to cars during the day. Do you really think “SOV’s” on 3rd are the issue for bus ridership on 3rd, or the conditions on 3rd?

        I don’t know what downtown holiday retail figures will be this year compared to other years, and no doubt Covid will affect those. But in years past my wife and I would spend a night or two at the Washington Athletic Club (with the kids when they were younger) and do most of our Christmas shopping downtown, but we stopped a few years ago., after Macy’s closed but pre-Covid. Purely anecdotal I know.

      2. “More people actually waiting for a bus should have some effect of pushing those there for loose business away from the stops.”

        It hasn’t worked for forty years so why should it work now?

      3. Brent is a smart transit rider. Link is wonderful due to its degree of grade separation. Link would be more wonderful if ST provided shorter headway and waits, especially at off-peak times. The STBD recently paid for shorter headway and waits on Route 60.

        Does Route 132 still need its deviation to Military Road South; Route 128 was added to that arterial in 1998.

        Note that routes 131 and 132 are impacted by congestion on the ramps from and to the 1st Avenue South bridge due to the West Seattle Bridge closure.

    3. Somebody with a similar name as mine but a different opinion.

      The city has a goal of reducing the number of buses on 3rd, and Metro has already been taking steps toward that. RapidRide C, D, and E included a considation of routes, and planned north-south RapidRide will continue this. Metro has broken thru-routes that turned on 3rd, like the 7/49, 11/125, and 14/47. This was to make north-south buses faster. It intended to eliminate all turns on 3rd between Olive and Yesler, but the 2 is waiting for RapidRide G (Madison), and the 3/4’s move to Yesler was delayed for money for trolley wire and eventually cancelled due to (questionable) concerns about needing a route in James. When the 550 was removed from the tunnel it went to 3rd only one way. Metro tried to keep the 41 from 3rd but public clamor made it reverse itself.

      Buses don’t cause the sketchiness on 3rd; they’re in spite of it. Only 1% of bus passengers resemble the sketchy people, although it varies depending on where the route goes. There are buses on 2nd, 4th, and 5th without the same problems.

      Some businesses may blame it all on buses, but that’s like people who say Biden isn’t president or vaccines cause autism — you can’t refute it with logic. We tried that already. Metro and Seattle aren’t going to bow to irrational demands and move dozens of bus routes immediately.

      There’s no place to put them anyway. 3rd Avenue is the busiest transit mall in North America. (If this seems strange, remember that cities with more extensive transit have more subway lines.) The only place to move them is 2nd and 4th, and they’re already full of buses. In fact, some routes were created in them because 3rd is full.

      The problems of sketchy people need to be addressed directly, both for bus riders and other downtown users. The city has been slow in building enough housing for everyone who needs it.

      1. Mike, people who are homeless because they’ve lost permanent housing don’t loiter at 3rd and Pike bellowing their aggressive nonsense. We need some form of humane incarceration for the clinically insane who refuse to take medicines that make life easier for them and those around them.

        Those who are sane but no longer economically viable in Seattle need one of two paths to success. If they were born in Western Washington and have viable family still living here, the state should subsidize their families to take care of them. If they were born somewhere other than California the state should pay to move them and their belongings back to to the state of their birth.

        The remainder — native Washingtonians who have no support system and no marketable skills — would be a much smaller cohort to house. The state could afford to do that.

        Daniel and Tlsgwm are immediately going to tell me that this is grossly unconstitutional, and they’re certainly right. But show me some other functional way to deal with people who are not harmful to themselves or others — e.g. not candidates for institutionalization — that a society in a beautiful, attractive place with nosebleed housing prices can afford and is willing to provide.

        Please don’t just hand-wave and order them to pull up on their bootstraps, Daniel, because they don’t have any. That’s what “economically viable” was meant to convey.

        Is this “cruel” and “heartless”? Yes, I admit that it is, but there are many places to live in the United States where rents for a two bedroom apartment are under $1,000/month. Many of the economically unviable people came from those places — not all to be sure, but many — hoping that the pixie dust of rapid growth would sprinkle them. But if they didn’t bring either sufficient native talent to provide an employer with enough value added to hire and retain them or education to mimic it, why should Washington State, King County and the City of Seattle be stuck supporting them?

        Give the nearly-viable people training? Yes! Support them for a reasonable length of time while they get that training? Yes! The Northwest economy needs talent for any number of non-professional careers.

        But the truly non-viable whether they’re un-trainable or unable to take directions from another human being have to be housed and fed. It ought to be a purely Federal responsibility and it ought to happen where it’s inexpensive.

      2. TT, why place such a high level of importance on where someone is born? Why force people who have lived in the area for 10 years, or even 5, to leave the region just because they were born elsewhere? Constitutionality aside, as you wished, forcing people who have lived in the region since they were children and have spent decades in this state should be allowed to stay in this state, regardless of whether or not any family remains to take care of them. As far as ” some other functional way to deal with people who are not harmful to themselves or others — e.g. not candidates for institutionalization — that a society in a beautiful, attractive place with nosebleed housing prices can afford and is willing to provide.”, that also seems like a rather unfair benchmark. Can afford is easily done, but we should never legislate based on the “don’t wanna” attitude of NIMBYs. Seattle spends tens of millions of dollars on homeless sweeps annually. That would build and maintain an awful lot of 0% AMI housing and do a lot more to solve the problem too.

      3. Most Seattle homeless are from King County, so we don’t need to worry about the transplant bogeyman. We should be concerned about suburbs that shirk their responsibility for a regional problem, and opt out of the county’s system that was set up to deal with it regionally. I was born in California but moved here when I was six, so should people like me be exiled to a state we barely remember? I can tell you that my preschool teachers were Mrs Camel and Mrs Bear.

      4. There’s no easy benchmark about how long a person has lived in a popular area that can be applied, so I said “place of birth”. I recognize the difficulties inherent in applying it.

        But Mike, your claim about “most Seattle homeless” is pretty hard to believe if you are talking about the group that is the problem: the howlers and street defecators. If you mean everyone who has had to stay with friends for a few weeks on the living room sofa, maybe so, but the ones who ruin downtown for everyone else are almost all bullying men with cognitive problems of one sort of another. MANY of them came from elsewhere. Just listen to their accents.

        They certainly shouldn’t be subjected to Nurse Ratched, but if we need to “criminalize poverty” as the Snowflake left characterizes it to make the streets attractive to the 98% of society that can and does produce economic value by institutionalizing them, then so be it. Salt Lake City has had success with micro-housing for the chronically unemployable, but it is a Mormon community with strong social supports.

        More importantly, it gets REALLY COLD there in the winter, and people regularly freeze from it without shelter. Seattle doesn’t have that barrier to entry.

      5. This isn’t so much about compassion, and helping, as it is seeing other states abdicating their responsibilities to those less fortunate and shipping them off to where the benefits are better. Yes, it happens.

        And there’s nothing wrong with demanding a certain amount of public decorum and social responsibilities from someone whatever their status and situation in life.

        We only expect the same level as we’ve come to expect from ….
        football fans.
        (erm,… okay, Nevermind THAT comparison)

      6. “They certainly shouldn’t be subjected to Nurse Ratched, but if we need to “criminalize poverty” as the Snowflake left characterizes it to make the streets attractive to the 98% of society that can and does produce economic value by institutionalizing them, then so be it.”

        Yikes. This attitude would give even Ebenezer Scrooge pause. Personally I place a higher value on human life than on “economic value”. Cities are people, not dollar signs. They should be interested in the well being of all within them, including and especially the homeless, over crass concerns over capital. Then let them die and decrease the surplus population was considered over the top a century ago, and is pretty close to what you are advocating here.

      7. Then let them die and decrease the surplus population was considered over the top a century ago, and is pretty close to what you are advocating here

        A Joy, no it’s not. What I’m advocating is a multi-path system by which society as a whole — which functionally means “the Federal government” — takes care of low-skilled or behaviorally unemployable people in a cost-effective manner.

        There are literally millions of people who would very much like to live in the Northwest but know they can’t afford to do do. Their skills don’t generate enough EVA to an enterprise for one to employ them at a market-clearing rate which will support them in such a high-cost housing market.

        Why then should some other people with similar — or worse — skills be subsidized to live here? How is that in any way “fair” or “equitable” to the folks back in Iowa with dreams of living beside an ocean?

        Instead of government splashing out $2,000/month to keep such a person in minimal housing which might be used by a “just-skilled-enough” person, it makes far more sense to support the person in Joplin or Davenport at $800.

        This is the reason to Federalize such programs completely, so Red states don’t rush to the bottom of the support scale.

        Regardless of your and Mike’s beliefs, there is a pull into higher-benefit states, even if the higher cost-of-living eats up the difference. That’s because the higher-benefit states are not just more generous they’re also less demanding.

        Again, a reason to Federalize.

        Puget Sound has little “available” housing, so the more such hopeless cases are subsidized to live here — and there ARE hopeless cases — the fewer opportunities those in “service” industries have to obtain quality housing.

        Of course, that Federalization I advocate does not now exist, so people forced out — by economic forces mind you, not by racism, classism or any other Snowflake Left slogan –will face the hostility of the parsimonious states.

        But I still come back to the observation, “Why should the taxpayers of Washington, King County and/or Seattle be responsible for people who pissed away their opportunity to get an education and some skills?” That’s a VERY common backstory to the loudmouth azzolès who are the problem in the streets.

      8. “A Joy, no it’s not. What I’m advocating is a multi-path system by which society as a whole — which functionally means “the Federal government” — takes care of low-skilled or behaviorally unemployable people in a cost-effective manner.”

        There it is again, the almighty dollar over the human life. Exactly the thing you say you are not advocating.

        “There are literally millions of people who would very much like to live in the Northwest but know they can’t afford to do do. Their skills don’t generate enough EVA to an enterprise for one to employ them at a market-clearing rate which will support them in such a high-cost housing market.”

        I absolutely do not believe this. I’ve traveled the United States, Europe, and Central America and I don’t see these masses yearning for a piece of the Seattle pie. Even the myth of The American Dream has been exposed for the lie it is. Do some people want to move to the US? Sure, a relative handful. But they aren’t specifically looking at Seattle over Silicon Valley, the Northeast, or even Austin. There’s nothing special about Seattle that draws people specifically to it.

        “Why then should some other people with similar — or worse — skills be subsidized to live here? How is that in any way “fair” or “equitable” to the folks back in Iowa with dreams of living beside an ocean?”

        The people in Iowa aren’t dreaming of living by an ocean. That’s the whole point. They’re happy with lakes and rivers, and see no reason to move halfway across the continent for a bit of acrid smelling seawater.

        “Instead of government splashing out $2,000/month to keep such a person in minimal housing which might be used by a “just-skilled-enough” person, it makes far more sense to support the person in Joplin or Davenport at $800.”

        Why exactly should skills be a benchmark for where a person is allowed to live? I’ve tried to bring this up before, and you never did answer it. Why is the sole value of human life for you placed upon the artificial altar of economic capability?

        “Regardless of your and Mike’s beliefs, there is a pull into higher-benefit states, even if the higher cost-of-living eats up the difference. That’s because the higher-benefit states are not just more generous they’re also less demanding.”

        To a very small degree, sure. But not for the homeless. They don’t have the funds to move to higher benefit states. Which we aren’t. Washington is not a high benefit state. In fact, we’re not even in the top 15 (although Oregon is number 9, California number 4, and Alaska number 2). When it comes to cities? We’re 96th out of the top 100. Even Boise spends more per citizen than we do per capita.

        “But I still come back to the observation, “Why should the taxpayers of Washington, King County and/or Seattle be responsible for people who pissed away their opportunity to get an education and some skills?” That’s a VERY common backstory to the loudmouth azzolès who are the problem in the streets.”

        Well when you start from a false premise, the answer isn’t terribly relevant. The vast majority of Seattle’s homeless are not comprised of people who have pissed away their opportunity to get an education and some skills. That is a VERY uncommon backstory, even to the loudmouths who are a problem in the streets. What is a VERY common story? PTSD from years and years of living on the streets, the single most common mental illness among the homeless.

        So I will rephrase your observation. “Why should the taxpayers of Washington, King County and/or Seattle care about their own citizens who are without homes despite having an education and some skills?”

      9. The tone of the Orr post is good.

        There was no route consolidation with the E Line implementation; it came earlier in 1999 when Route 358 replaced routes 6, 359, and 360.
        Some through routes were broken in fall 2012 when pay on entry fare collection began and there was concern about flow on 3rd Avenue. The live-loop operation of routes 10, 11, 47, and 49 was degraded by the Murray-Kubly PBL and lane reductions on Pine and Pike streets.
        When Route 550 was taken from the DSTT, it was shifted to 2nd and 4th avenues. When Route 255 was taken from the DSTT, it was shifted to 5th/6th northbound and 5th Avenue southbound.

      10. I don’t remember all the restructures but I think there were two rounds, one for C/D and another for E. The E was delayed so it may have happened after its restructure. There were repeated Metro proposals to move the 5 to Dexter, split the 2, and merge the 4 into the 3. They failed because of opposition to splitting the 2 and deleting the 4S’s 23rd tail, which had cascading effects on the surrounding routes. Later the 3N/4N did move to the 13’s terminus. The 2 is waiting for RapidRide G (Madison), when the 2S is to move to Pike-12th-Union and replace the 11 and 49. The 4S has continued to be uncertain, and Judkins Park Station may be a reason to keep it. I haven’t heard anything further about Dexter; I think the 62 is its solution now, the 5 won’t move, and the 28 may remain until Ballard Link and RapidRide 44 and 62 (which are unscheduled now).

      11. There was also opposition to moving the 5 to Dexter because of slower travel time. But the biggest opposition in all the restructures was to changing the 2, and second to changing the 12. Activists on the 2S said the 2 goes everywhere they go (e.g., Uptown), and they didn’t feel safe transferring on 3rd. (Sound familiar?) The activists on the 12 didn’t want to lose service on 19th and wanted to go specifically to Madison, not Pike/Pine or elsewhere. Activists on the 4S pointed to a blind-services institution at its terminus.

    4. I think the post’s subtext is important to flag here. Naive people blame transit for sketchiness; the comment puts bus transit as the victim rather than the cause.

      This distinction is accurate as well as important. It points the finger directly at Seattle PD and the City of Seattle including council. If Seattle wants people to use transit, make it safer!

      To me, an obvious action is to brighten lighting and put some temporary structures that police could work out of. A brightly lit police structure would be quite impactful, even when it isn’t occupied.

      Then, the next level is to determine which businesses attract the riff-raff and assess how best to relocate or repurpose them. I worked in Oakland at one time, and witnessed how closing MacDonalds and installing a gym eliminated the riff-raff overnight as an example.

      This of course gets into the institutionalization of how Seattle PD works. Either they can be seen as a friend or a foe, and culturally many beyond the riff-raff think of them as a foe.

      Perhaps the next product should be a Third Avenue Security Action Plan. That way, details can be carefully worked out — as opposed to a series of shotgun measures done without coordination or much forethought.

      1. It points the finger directly at Seattle PD and the City of Seattle including council.

        Don’t blame SPD and Carmen Best. The majority of the City Council bought into the “logic” that the police cause the crime. And they’re still at it. Harrell has a tough job. If he pulls it off, and he’s interested, I could see him as a strong candidate for King County Executive or higher political office. Or an appointment to director of HUD under any administration.

      2. Former Chief of Police Best has not been ours to blame for over a year. That’s about all I’m going to say about her time as police chief on this blog.

      3. No one claims that the police cause the crime. Only a tiny portion of the population will ever commit harmful crimes (“crimes” like drinking alcohol, or smoking weed are another matter, and represent only the dysfunctional and temporary priorities of an oppressive society). If the police can’t be trusted, because they abuse the darker members of society then you have a problem. Crime will go up for various reasons. More people will buy guns to protect themselves. It becomes harder to catch criminals, because fewer people want to cooperate with the police. The few good officers who exist (who are credit to their uniform) have a tougher job, as a lot of citizens fear, instead of welcome their presence.

        This is the world that Best inherited. This problem was well known, going back to McGinn’s time as mayor (https://www.aclu-wa.org/pages/timeline-seattle-police-accountability). Everyone who read the paper, or was otherwise even remotely following what was happening in the city knew about it. Certainly the mayor knew about it, since she was the U. S. Attorney back then (notice her name on the first bullet item). And yet, as was clearly the case, nothing much was done. That list of items shows how little progress was made, over the ten years since this was first brought to light in the courts (and if you think the problem started then, I have a bridge I will sell you).

        I believe that Best is a good cop, who had the best interests of the city at heart. But she wasn’t capable of restraining the abusive police force. To pretend that she had things under control is ridiculous. With a dysfunctional, abusive police force, you have more crime. Of course the police aren’t to blame for all of the problems, but a system that blindly poured more and more money into an abusive police force while ignoring the sources of crime (poverty, hunger, lack of mental health) is.

      4. @RossB
        I was in HS in Tacoma when the “motto” of SPD was “stop or I’ll shoot you again.” Carman Best under the Consent Decree was turning this around. She walked the talk/beat and was the right person at the right time. I get you backed the side that lost but by god I hope Seattle under Harrell can turn this around. As I’ve said in previous posts, just enforce the existing law. But Seattle decided (or the council and other elected officials decided) there would be a two tiered “justice” system.

      5. Hey guys! I’m not blaming Best.

        I am merely stating that Third Avenue sidewalk safety is the responsibility of the Seattle PD (as opposed to Metro). The job falls to them. If Seattle can spend wads of money on lots of other things, they can be more strategic about Third Avenue. It’s their job!

      6. Carman Best under the Consent Decree was turning this around.

        I’m not convinced of that. Look, guys like Daryl Gates are rare now. If you look at the attitude of the police chiefs (or “the brass” in general) all over the country, it is similar. They all talk about reforms, probably because they honestly want those reforms. But more often than not, little is done. Best is no different. She, like so many others, take baby steps when it comes to dealing with the rank and file. Then, after police brutality becomes the story of the day, they resign. Best quitting right after the protests exposed the abusive and gang-like* behavior of the police isn’t fundamentally different than Erika Shields resigning after the shooting of Rayshard Brooks. My guess is both chiefs really want a police force that acts responsibly — that essentially acts like them — but neither is willing to do the hard work to make it happen.

        It is easy to assume that all you need to make things better is to hire a police chief that is a reformer. Or better yet, a reformer who has the support of the rank and file. History suggests otherwise. Keep in mind, Best was interim chief on January 1st, 2018. In August she was appointed permanent chief. Now look at that timeline again. In October, the CPC votes unanimously to urge the city council to reject the SPOG contract, concerned by several provisions that roll back reforms contained in the accountability law. In November, Judge Robart notes apparent inconsistencies between the SPOG contract and requirements of the consent decree. 24 community organizations request City Council reject the SPOG contract. In May of 2019 (18 months into Best’s tenure as police chief), Judge Robart rules the City has fallen out of full and effective compliance in the area of discipline and accountability.

        Her support of the contract, as well as her actions (including the Adley Shepherd case) do not look like the acts of a reformer. To quote Stevie Wonder:

        But we are sick and tired of hearing your song
        Tellin’ how you are gonna change right from wrong
        ‘Cause if you really want to hear our views
        You haven’t done nothin’

        I find it especially funny that people think the city council is to blame for poor police morale, given that the council approved the labor agreement (with the help of Chief Best). That agreement undermined the reform process.

        * I don’t want to imply that Seattle has actual gangs within the police force (we aren’t L. A.) only that the police act with undo loyalty towards their fellow officers. It happens with any profession (good doctors cover for bad ones) but it is especially bad with the police.

      7. Oops — I didn’t close the italics after quoting the song lyrics. Hopefully the moderator will close them for me.

  2. I noticed last week both a 241 and 550 NB using the stop on Bellevue Way instead of going into the P&R. I’ve yet to see a single person at the P&R.

    1. I can’t imagine the current use for the S. Bellevue station or park and ride. It really is nowhere.

      No one I know is commuting by transit from the Eastside to downtown Seattle, and parking in Bellevue is free on weekends and after five, so why park at the park and ride? Even if parking did cost something two transit tickets from S. Bellevue would cover the cost of parking. Downtown.

      In the past Mercer Island thought use of the 550 and S. Bellevue Park and Ride pre East Link would give us a good idea of the intensity of the bus intercept on MI, but the conditions in Seattle that led to a 1/3 decline in ridership on the 550 pre-pandemic, Covid going into its second year, WFH, and the Eastside transit restructure have pretty much resolved that issue, although cross lake travel on East Link — at least East to west — post Covid (whenever that might be) is still a mystery, although the almost irrational concern among eastsiders about public safety and crime in downtown Seattle will play a big role.

      Who cares if the concern is rational or not because there are perfect alternatives to everything in Seattle on the Eastside today, except if you don’t mind mingling with 60,000 partially vaccinated Seahawk fans.

      If the ultimate use of East Link was to be west to East travel I am not sure ST 2 would have passed in East King Co., or at all. When things do reopen, my guess is the primary use of the S. Bellevue Park and Ride will be free parking for downtown Bellevue workers, exactly what Bellevue wanted, which means there will be several private (sorry A Joy) and a public peak hour shuttles.

    2. Isn’t the bus loop only for southbound riders, since Metro didn’t want them to have to cross Bellevue Way?

    3. Bellevue Way is wide and there’s no sidewalk on part of the west side, although I’m not sure if that’s exactly at the P&R. That part of the west side is a steel hill of nothingness right next to the road, with houses above it but few driveways down to it. The crosswalk seems to go to nowhere, or maybe just a side street up to the houses.

      1. I think you mean 112th, not Bellevue Way.

        Bellevue’s zoning appears to make 112th and the park and ride problematic, and the fact East Link doesn’t serve Bellevue Way. But a 1500 stall park and ride at the outskirts of the main commercial area is a tremendous asset — especially with frequent and free shuttles — and my guess is that is how Bellevue always imagined the use of the park and ride, rather than an intercept for those taking East Link to Seattle. Too bad Seattle didn’t embrace this idea.

        Daniel’s restaurant taught Bellevue long ago it just needed to keep Eastside workers and money on the Eastside, and that is exactly what the future 554 route is all about.

        If it were up to Bellevue there would be no buses to the Mercer Island intercept, because the goal is no longer to take Eastside workers and shoppers to Seattle on East Link but to make it as difficult as possible to take transit from the Eastside to Seattle,and as easy as possible to get to downtown Bellevue, and so far with the restructure and ridership on the 550 it looks like that is working, with an assist from Seattle policies.

      2. I meant Bellevue Way. I looked at it specifically a couple times after the P&R reopened. I saw the lack of sidewalk, hillside, and no man’s land. I just couldn’t see the west side of the intersection clearly and how much was there, or whether the missing sidewalk is exactly there or a bit further north. I’ve never been on 112th hardly at all, not since the 340 was removed from it. I went once to look at the station area, and I saw it when the 550 was rerouted to it.

      3. Correct, it’s Bellevue Way at the P&R; just like the exit sign says from I-90. 112th branches off at Bellefield Office Park. It has great sidewalks…nothing there but great sidewalks none the less. It makes sense the NB buses don’t make the loop. It’s just every bus I’d seen until this week was in the P&R. It makes transferring a bit of a pain and there’s very little time penalty for a NB bus to pull into the P&R vs pulling off on the shoulder bus stop. It’s also a nicer place for people to wait in the P&R. If parking doesn’t return to 100%+ capacity I’d love to see some of that space converted to retail; coffee shop, Boots type grocery, take & bake pizza, etc. Yeah, I know… never in a thousand years.

      4. Oh, is that what Daniel meant? The freeway exit continues north as Bellevue Way, and the first thing accessible is is a left to Enatai/108th/104th with a ped entrance to the I-90 bridge. Continuing north. another left at the P&R leads to a southbound street to the Enatai road. Continuing north is the blueberry farm. 112th splits off to the right with the one-story Bellefield Office Park. That’s where civilization starts.

        Continuing north, 108th crosses almost immediately after 112th. Then there’s the Pancake Corral. At SE 8th Street Bellevue Way turns straight north and becomes 104th (still signed as Bellevue Way). On the left 104th splits southward to Beaux Arts and Enatai. Then comes Bellevue High School and downtown Bellevue.

        I’ve never been on 112th much so I only vaguely know what it looks like and have little opinion on it. If it had more buses or businesses I’d know more about it.

      5. That’s where civilization starts… never been on 112th much… If it had more buses or businesses I’d know more about it.

        Well, they ARE in Bellevue so I HOPE the bull frogs are civilized ;-) There’s no buses because there’s no there there. Bellefield Office Park I’m pretty sure was part of Lake Washington prior to the Locks being constructed. There was a semi-serious citizen proposal to put structured parking at 405 & SE 8th to use the RR ROW for East Link instead of being a slave to the Swamp & Ride. I’d be surprised if that whole area isn’t a peat bog that will some day catch fire like the valley north of Redmond has.

      6. I’d prefer more density on 112th and 108th north of Bellevue Way, and then more bus service would be natural, but when has the city ever listened to me?

        The East Main station was earlier going to be at SE 8th St & 112th. I’ve never heard of a P&R proposal there, or any other construction. Surrey Downs would have a fit.

        I’m sure the wildlife in the slough is civilized and has caviar for dinner, unlike the uncouth Seattle wildlife.

      7. I have nothing against locals lobbying to keep business and any other necessary amenities close to home. That’s admirable. Just don’t start any tax abatement wars.

        But if the 2 Line is designed to make it difficult to take transit from the eastside to Seattle, I’m afraid it will be a miserable failure at that task.

      8. As far as the proposed ST Express 554 path goes, the South Bellevue Station bus loop is primarily a nod to Seattle riders wanting the quickest and easiest transfer to continuing on to Bellevue College and Issaquah, at the expense of riders traveling from central Bellevue to Bellevue College and Issaquah, paid for by eastside subarea tax collections. It is an unwelcome nod, AFAIAC, but the asphalt is already dry. I just want Metro to know my displeasure at its love for bus loops. The eastside subarea will be paying the extra cost of operating southbound buses on said loop in perpetuity.

      9. I’d prefer more density on 112th…The East Main station was earlier going to be at SE 8th St & 112th. I’ve never heard of a P&R there

        Until you get to SE 8th you’re skirting the swampwetlands. The P&R proposal was part of the group looking to use the BNSF alignment (B7?). It was right at 405 where there is an existing small P&R. It was a lot better than the P&R floating in the sky proposals at I-90 and Bellevue Way. The City Council poo-poo-ed the B7 alignment because it would have eliminated a furniture store which I believe is now out of business. What they really wanted was a big ass parking garage at S Bellevue because, that’s what Bellevue does (Balducci referred to it as “magical”). It was the liberal democrat portion of the council that pushed it through.

        Surrey Downs would have a fit.

        The exact opposite. This would have pushed the alignment over to where real engineers determined was the best route for a RR which was far away from Surrey Downs.

        I’m sure the wildlife in the slough is civilized and has caviar for dinner, unlike the uncouth Seattle wildlife.

        I’m sure you’re right, but do you have a reference to back up this claim? :-P

      10. Only the dog phone ($). A researcher made a his dog a smart ball, so that when the dog moves the ball it triggers a videophone and calls its human. He logged the dog’s usage for a fortnight and wrote a scientific paper on the results. The dog apparently never made any intentional calls, just accidental, and when they were connected the dog wasn’t interacting much, was just climbing on top of a couch or sleeping. But future research and dog training might be able to accomplish more. A dog behaviorist warns that we don’t necessarily know a dog’s intentions, why it initiates a call, and that it might want to interact with technology in a different way than we expect. So no, I can’t guess that swamp critters like caviar, or that they call their wetland the Riviera.

      11. The missing sidewalk is from just south of the P&R to 112th. There’s a bit of sidewalk to access the road across from the P&R, but no north-south sidewalk on the west side of Bellevue Way.

  3. A week ago there was some discussion on closing Hwy 99 through South Park as a South Park group had advocated for (in favor of 509). How about using the Hwy 99 corridor partially (one direction) as a Link “airport express” light rail alignment?!? It would lead into the Tukwila line to the South. Not quite sure about the Northern part though, I guess there would be several options. Instead of a Boeing Access Road station, we may then put one along West Marginal Way, may be by the Gateway Corp Center (BECU) which could also serve the Tukwila Community Center and Allentown and allow for bus transfers. What do you think?

    1. I think you should write a Page Two post (hint, hint, wink, wink). Seriously, I don’t know what this would look like so a map would be excellent. Would it serve Georgetown? Realistically I think this has less chance than my suggestion of leasing any vacant parking at S Bellevue for retail. But I love great ideas ST will never ever consider since we don’t elect the board members (yah, giddy up dead horse).

    2. A Georgetown bypass line has always been vague, so that routing may be as good as any. It was in ST’s long-range plan in the early 2010s. When ST updated the plan in 2014 for ST3, it deleted the corridor as not worthwhile enough. The beneficiaries of it — South King and Pierce — didn’t lift a finger to save it. They were all focused on finishing Federal Way Link as quickly as possible. North King has higher priorities so it won’t champion it. It’s hard to argue for a bypass when Ballard and West Seattle are so long away and 45th and Lake City (522) still have no concrete plans.

      1. If the Junction would get served by gondola, the $2+b savings could be used for a Georgetown bypass instead and may be another gondola line to serve White Center, Westwood, and may be even the Fauntleroy ferry. Then the Rainier line could be extended to Skyway and Renton which would become the gateway to Maple Valley and Kent. It seems like a much smarter solution than to spend $3.2b to go up the hill towards the Junction. This approach was proposed by https://twitter.com/WSSkyLink/status/1461552751045869570 though I wonder about the exact alignment. Do you know what ST had in mind?

      2. ST’s plan was to go south from SODO to TIB and rejoin the main line. Rainier Valley would continue as-is or terminate at TIB. There has been no ST concept toward Renton that I’m aware of; that’s all unofficial transit-fan suggestions. The subareas are instead working to extend the West Seattle line south to Burien and east to Renton. Travel time wouldn’t be bad, 40 minutes from Renton to downtown, comparable to the 101, because of grade-separated speed. ST studied this in the run-up to ST3: it showed high cost and few riders. The subareas became quiet after that so I don’t know if this line would be revived in ST4.

      3. Good point, I reviewed the original alternatives. B4 proposed an alignment along 1st Ave to Georgetown and then to Burien and Renton but that’s quite a detour.
        I’m thinking about continuing along 5th Ave or 4th Ave with a Georgetown station. Then cross the Duwamish and on to Hwy 99 with a South Park station and continue until it joins the existing line towards TIBS.
        It would serve the South part of West Seattle peninsula and certainly speed up the airport and ultimately Tacoma travel time.

    3. Only if South Park is seriously up-zoned to make it worthwhile. But the South Parkers apparently just want to have more quiet for the existing residents. That’s entirely understandable, but insufficient. If Link goes up the west side of the Duwamish Waterway it has to cross at some point which means at a minimum a mid-level opening bridge. At the high end it means a tunnel or high bridge.

      No, if there’s a bypass it should run along Airport Way where at-grade right of way is possible by reducing Airport Way to three lanes with a center refuge. It’s much cheaper and avoids the Duwamish crossing and elevated through Georgetown and over Argo Yard.

      1. https://cultivatesouthpark.org/reconnect was talking about pollution and reconnecting the divided community and turning hwy 99 into affordable housing, not just noise reduction.
        Airport Way would certainly be an alternative as it would also serve the Museum of Flight and the Aviation High School.

    4. I don’t want to be rude, but the idea of a bypass is ridiculous. I have a very hard time understanding why anyone would want to bypass all the people, as if that would improve things. Why we are at it, how about a bypass of Capitol Hill Station, so that people can get to the UW faster. Better yet, skip the UW and Capitol Hill, and just run a train from Northgate to downtown (call it the 41 train).

      Look, the whole point of a mass transit system is to move a lot of people, not move a small handful faster. A lot of the ridership south of Rainier Valley starts at Rainier Valley. How would this work, anyway? Does the Rainier Valley line just end at Rainier Beach? That would mean Metro has to run buses from there to SeaTac. That is going to make service worse somewhere, and result in an overall decrease in ridership.

      Or do they run them both, making for a reverse split? That means 20 minute service in Rainier Valley, and 20 minute service along the Duwamish. Again, overall ridership would go down.

      Besides, the line already is an express. There are no stops between Rainier Beach and Tukwila, a distance of over 5 miles! That is not how mass transit systems are supposed to work. Ideally you have stops every quarter to half mile or so. Sometimes you can’t (e. g. East Link has the lake) but the express nature of the line is a bug, not a feature. Creating another line with the worst aspects of the existing line would be silly.

      1. I think a key driver behind the push for a bypass is the constrained headways in the Rainier Valley, which both creates issues with total throughput capacity (aka peak crowing) and prevents the operation of a second branch line, perhaps as a spur to Renton. Neither of those issues exist with Northgate Link.

        A better analogy would be extending a Ballard-UW Link across Lake Washing to provide Kirkland/Redmond as a ‘bypass’ for East Link. Sure, Kirkland/Redmond would have a ‘faster’ trip to Seattle,’ but the project only makes sense if East Link across I90 is over capacity.

      2. “I have a very hard time understanding why anyone would want to bypass all the people”

        The argument (which i don’t support) is that the south end has unusually long travel times: 37 minutes from Westlake to SeaTac (vs 29 minutes on the former 194), 55 minutes to Federal Way (vs 41 minutes on the 577), and 75 minutes to Tacoma Dome (vs 57 minutes on the 594). (Bus times are at noon southbound.) So the bypass is a high-priority mitigation for that. But ST, South King, and Pierce don’t accept this argument. Pierce says Tacoma Dome is mostly about attracting jobs/workers/shoppers to Tacoma (presumably from South King County), and the airport connection which they see as key to attracting employers.

        MLK can’t go above 6-minute frequency as long as the level crossings exist, because cross-traffic timings would become unworkable. So any branch to Renton would require splitting existing service. I’ve long been admimant that every branch must be 10 minutes minimum because that’s part of the basic promise of rapid transit. So 20-minute frequency on any branch is a no-no. We’ve fought hard to get European-level frequency on Link rather than the 15-minute American frequency (MAX, BART, etc), and so far ST has stuck to it (with the notorious exception of last year), so I don’t want to lose that.

      3. Rainier Valley never had a route to the airport before Link, so if it goes away there may be no bus replacement. It had an on-again, off-again — but mostly off — route to Southcenter, TIB isn’t all the way to Southcenter but it’s closer than the off-again buses got (which was Rainier Beach), and you can transfer to the F or 128 to Southcenter at TIB but not at Rainier Beach.

      4. Belair Airporter has a stop at the convention center. On the occasions I’ve used it, I was the only passenger getting on or off in downtown Seattle.

        There are certain markets transit agencies don’t serve because it would step on too many private bus and taxi toes. I’m guessing this is like that.

      5. “So any branch to Renton would require splitting existing service.”
        Mike, I agree, that wouldn’t be attractive due to the limitations of the Rainier line. I had envisioned that the Rainier line would always go to Renton but there would be a shuttle between Rainier Beach station and a (new) Tukwila station. Yes, it would require two transfers, but if properly timed, it may not be as bad.
        The main reason for a South Park “express” is not the fact that it shortens travel time to the airport and beyond, but that it would allow for shorter headways and therefore additional capacity towards Federal Way in the future.

      6. Metro has gotten ingenious about extending routes to avoid short, low-productivity shuttles. The 106 is out because its Renton-Mt Baker connection is needed, and I assume the 107’s Renton-Beacon connection is needed too. You could spit the 50 at SODO and extend the eastern end to TIB. Metro is not interested in having the 50 skip SODO, so it will always be a weak route between southeast Seattle and West Seattle. There may be other possibilities.

        Extending the A to Rainier Beach might be a possibility too. Tukwila wants to extend it to BAR, and Metro Connects may have extended it further to Rainier Beach.

      7. I was not thinking about a bus shuttle, but some automated train using the existing track, may be even using some type of APM technology so that operation is cheap, but there are lots of alternative.
        A South Park alignment would not only strengthen the airport/Tacoma route, but also provide a Georgetown and South Park station and a new Tukwila station. From South Park it could serve White Center and shorten the 60 or a gondola could go up the hill to serve White Center, Westwood and possibly the Fauntleroy ferry terminal. Some RapidRide C and H riders may find this connection much faster and reliable than riding the bus through West Seattle.

      8. Ross, a proper bypass would indeed have duplicate service between Sea-Tac and wherever the northbound split occurred. There are a lot of airport workers who have settled in the Rainier Valley.

        Ideally a southbound RV train would arrive at Sea-Tac station three or four minutes before a southbound bypass train headed to Tacoma to allow an efficient “in-direction” transfer. Northbound the RV train would depart a three or four minutes after the bypass train for the same reason.

        Again, you suffer from the inability to see a future different from the recent past. There will very probably be a large in-migration from the desert regions of Arizona and Southern California driven by the severe conditions asked into that near-term future.

        South King County will be the beneficiary of that in-migration if it occurs. Obviously, there is no reason to build a bypass now, but there is ample reason. For ST to purchase development-blocking liens on the strip of land between Airport Way and the BNSF tracks from BAR to the Forest Street MF for an express track. Trenching, elevating or even over-passing Martin Luther King Jr Blvd would pretty expensive by comparison to a largely at-grade bypass along Airport Way.

      9. AJ is correct. The bypass may seem “ridiculous” to some now, but if the RV Link segment gets overcrowded (and the segment under Beacon Hill has some of the highest forecast 2040 ridership loads per train) either more frequent trains or a “bypass” will become popular with RV residents. Keep in mind too that overcrowded trains would affect anyone leaving Downtown Seattle headed south and not just RV residents.

        Overcrowding is common on urban rail corridors in major cities across the world, and has been normal on several US transit systems before Covid. It’s a real thing!

        It’s reasonable to do an early study to assess the situation. Otherwise, it’s a topic that will keep getting debated until the need finally arises — and that would begin a 20-year task of planning, funding and building a solution while RV residents would suffer for that long period of time. That study should be focused on a primary question: What are the costs for solutions to possible RV overcrowding?

      10. The answer to the above question lies in “what would Seattle be willing to accept to allow more frequent trains in the Rainier Valley” as the cost of a line different line would kill off an awful lot of far more worthy projects.

        Peak-period pre-pandemic, TriMet was running MAX across the 8 lanes of Highway 99E every 2-3 minutes. Granted, it’s a one-way couplet through there, and it’s MAX so it’s not fast. Even so, it’s a lot of train traffic that isn’t really a blip compared to all the cross streets.

        It seems to me like there should be a vastly cheaper way of accommodating more trains in the Rainier Valley by changing the road configuration or otherwise reducing the train vs traffic conflicts.

        At absolute worst, how much did it cost to undercut the BNSF main line in Tukwila and put the cross streets under the line? You’d have to drop a couple lanes to make left turns, etc possible but this isn’t an impossible feat that other cities haven’t had to deal with.

      11. Glenn, Martin Luther King Jr Blvd is in a fairly narrow and steep valley through a good part of its length, so the better strategy would be to bridge the crossing arterials over the Link trackway and the street, at least north of Othello and at Henderson where the west approach is up Beacon Hill.

        But given the similar cost of the Lander Street Bridge and the need to widen King Blvd to allow for ramps up to the bridged arterials — or at Othello and Cloverdale down as you suggest — a largely at-grade bypass in the alignment that I’ve outlined elsewhere would probably be cheaper. It would also avoid five, soon to be six, station stops for through riders. Since there might reasonably be one added at “downtown” Georgetown, it would actually be five. Assuming 40 seconds’ dwell and the thirty seconds lost slowing and starting up for each stop, that’s six minutes in stops saved per trip for riders between points north of Beacon Hill and south of Rainier Beach.

        It’s about a mile farther via King and the Beacon Hill tunnel, so add another minute and a quarter, if Link were allowed to run at 50 between stations on the Boulevard. There are several pedestrian crossings between the stations, so to get that speed they’d have to be closed or bridged themselves, making the trackway much more a barrier through the neighborhood.

        It’s better to let Link in the RV be a big streetcar as it was built and provide Southwest King County a “Metro”-level access to the Seattle CBD as have the north and east portions of the county.

        But only if the expected growth there materializes, of course.

      12. Yes, the time has come for ST to study eliminating level crossings on MLK and quantify the cost. We should push them to do that, because every other issue is stagnating around it: frequency ceiling, capacity ceiling, speed ceiling, no capacity for a Renton branch, and people getting killed and cars getting smashed and service getting interrupted at the crossings. Building it would require additional funding because ST 2/3 are fully committed (the voter-approved projects have legal priority on existing revenue), but a preliminary cost estimate would advance and focus the debate more than anything else could.

        I’m sure some STBers would be happy to give an estimate in the meantime, and that could be a starting point, but to have credibility with politicians it would need to be a professional study and reviewed by multiple people. Hmm, could Seattle Subway commission such a study and find volunteers to fund it? ST would probably insist on its own study anyway, but it would have some weight.

        I’m not sure how comparable MLK is to the Portland situation. The southern half of Seattle is full of long narrow north-south penninsulas that are cut off from their neighbors more or less. Going west to east they’re the western shore, California Ave SW, 35th, Delridge, 16th, West Marginal Way, SODO, Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley, and to a lesser extent the Lake Washington shore.

        MLK and Rainier are five miles long but half a mile wide, with a major western barrier and a minor eastern barrier. Building Link closed most of the crossings and made them right-turn only, so only five or so are left. SDOT says increasing frequency beyond six minutes would make it difficult to scehedule adequate crossings. Six minutes with bidirectional trains is de facto three minutes, and each crossing last almost a minute. The crosssings aren’t just for cars: pedestrians need them too, even just to access a northbound or southbound train or bus. So Link itself needs them for passenger access.

        I don’t know whether it makes more sense to lower Link or the streets or raise one of them, but that’s something the study would hopefully compare. And hopefully somehow avoid steep ramps or stairs for pedestrians.

  4. Thanks for the video on this weekend’s open thread. Although the video could use some better editing, it did assemble some nice historical footage. So, yeah, thanks again.

    Watching this clip reminded me of a few articles on the NY MTA that I have bookmarked on my phone that I’ve been intending to share on this blog but haven’t gotten around to doing so (until now).

    This one from the NYT ($), “The Case for the Subway”, is a feature piece from a couple of years ago but still very relevant:


    These two more recent articles discuss the impact of the pandemic on MTA ridership trends:



    1. The NYC covid statistics seem very similar to Sound Transit’s – rush hour traffic isn’t as pronounced anymore and demand in less affluent areas (South King) has not fallen nearly as much as in more affluent neighborhoods (North Seattle, West Seattle Junction…) One reason I am trying to figure out ways to serve South King sooner rather than later, I don’t think we build light rail through West Seattle and extend it South all the way to Renton, that may take 3 or 4 decades, we need to serve the people who rely on public transit asap.

      1. How much transit does Renton need? Something like Sounder every half hour through the day, or does it need the every 10 minutes of Link?

        One of the things that makes Sounder expensive is having the crews only operate a single train per day. You could make it more economical by using a few of the crews for a full shift. Having all those security guards stand around on the platforms is another expense, and I’m not sure how easy it would be to dispense with all that.

      2. In the future Renton will need transit north to Bellevue, not west to Seattle or West Seattle. Renton is the largest area of affordable housing on the Eastside without changing zoning or building million dollar condos or public housing on the Eastside.

        If you want more affordable housing on the Eastside that eastsiders and not Seattle urbanists want take the Issaquah line and run it from S. Bellevue to Renton right along 405 with huge park and rides along the way.

        Yes Renton didn’t understand this and Issaquah did, but Renton is Renton, and very few people in Issaquah will be taking Link to Seattle, and they will take a one seat bus to Bellevue, or if necessary Seattle.

        Renton is where a middle class family can stilll afford a SFH on the Eastside, and those workers will be necessary in the new Bellevue.

      3. Renton needs 10-minute robust transit, the same as Bellevue, Kent, Rainier Valley, Ballard, Lake City, etc. Renton is the second-largest city in East King now, and an equity emphasis area. I don’t know what exactly it needs, but something to connect it quickly to downtown and southeast Seattle. Sounder should be half-hourly like Caltrain for the entire south end, but BNSF’s costs and freight conflicts make that infeasible. Even with that, the Renton Sounder station is in western Renton in the middle of nowhere, not within walking distance of anything. So something going to downtown Renton is also important. And preferably past downtown to southern or eastern Renton or The Landing.

      4. “In the future Renton will need transit north to Bellevue, not west to Seattle or West Seattle.”

        Stride South will address that. Although it won”t help the last mile(s) to eastern/southern Renton.

        The Burien-Renton Link line (presumably interlined with the West Seattle-Burien extension) was requested by Renton and Tukwila and the South King subarea themselves. It would also serve Southcenter, which the 1/3 Line doesn’t.

      5. South and North King Co. subareas don’t have the money to run rail to Renton. East KC does, probably even without repurposing the Issaquah line.

        If you were Renton would you rather have light rail to downtown Bellevue, Microsoft and Redmond, and Seattle with a transfer at S. Bellevue, or rail to South Seattle, Tukwilla and Federal Way?

        Renton property values would skyrocket just at the announcement. End of the last affordable housing on the Eastside, certainly SFH. Use Link to reach affordable housing, which presently East Link definitely doesn’t do.

      6. Most of the Burien-Renton line is in South King, which doesn’t have money and is prioritizing Federal Way and Sounder. A Renton-Bellevue line would be comparable to what ST studied as a Sounder corridor in the run-up to ST2. ST said 405 South doesn’t have the ridership yet for light rail, although it might in a few decades. Stride South is an interim solution to test the waters and prebuild ridership. It will do what you want Renton-Bellevue Link would do, at least in terms of serving the new Renton transit center. A light rail line could theoretically have more stations serving more of Renton, but since nobody has drawn a concept of it or said what it would do after downtown Renton, it’s all just abstract. East King could have had Link in Renton if it had asked for it instead of pursuing the stupid Issaquah line.

      7. A future Renton rail connection deserves a reasonable study. The pre-ST3 studies introduced infeasible rail alternatives. Renton was not assertive to refine them. For example, to upgrade to have light rail along the ERC and not expand the option to propose bypass tracks (hence the trains assumed 20 minute spacing) or put a stop in or near Factoria or make Renton riders have transfer further east than TIBS are all ways to sandbag an alternative — and ST did all three in their study.

        I can’t say what would wor better. I can only opine that study is needed to determine initial costs, ridership and impacts.

        Finally, I’ll say that a South Renton transit garage direct access from 405 Express lanes should have been planned.

      8. Daniel, what is wrong with Stride South, and why isn’t it a solution? You said East Link is unjustified, so an alternative would be Stride, so you have an emerging example right there. If it’s “Buses are too declasse”, that applies to East Link too.

        As for Renton’s house values, you can’t have it both ways, both more affordable and skyrocketing. The severe housing crunch is pushing up lower-priced areas faster than higher-priced, so they’re heading toward equalization. Probably not exact equalization because there’s only one Bellevue Square, one Microsoft headquarters, one Space Needle, etc, but closer than they are now, and that means higher for lower-income people. House prices ultimately come down to the fact that there are very few houses for sale (and have been since 2008), and rents to the fact that South King County has had much less multifamily growth than Seattle or the Eastside so again few units are available.

      9. But Daniel, will the wanna-be MOTU’s of Renton be any more enthusiastic about taking transit! (YECCCCHHH!) than the Genuine, 24-karat MOTU’s of Issaquah, Bel-Red or Merciless Island?

      10. Renton needs 10-minute robust transit, the same as Bellevue, Kent, Rainier Valley, Ballard, Lake City, etc.

        I wouldn’t consider any neighborhood in Renton similar to Rainier Valley, Ballard or Lake City. The latter are urban neighborhoods, with a lot more density. There is a much stronger case for running the 7 or 44 every ten minutes than running the 101 every ten minutes.

        Likewise, there are Bellevue neighborhoods with much higher employment and residential density than anything found in Renton. Kent is a much better analogy.

        The 101 runs every 15 minutes in the day, which is fine, given the distance. Likewise the 106 runs every 15 minutes, connecting Renton to Rainier Valley relatively frequently, despite the low density stops in between. The problem are buses like the 105 (which goes through some of the most densely populated parts of Renton) which only runs every half hour. For areas like Renton, the goal should be bump the frequency of routes like this (that are clearly not coverage) to 15 minutes.

        Complicating things are the split destinations that Daniel mentioned. There are people headed to Bellevue (and the rest of the East Side) as well as Seattle. More are headed to Seattle, and my guess is that will continue. But the trips to Bellevue are significant. Fortunately, ST is addressing that, which will help.

        Overall, Renton really doesn’t need anything special (light rail would be silly). It just needs a bit more funding for the buses. In that sense, it is like every neighborhood (and city) you mentioned.

      11. In addition to improved bus service, I think Renton merits at least 1 if not 2 more infill Stride stations not included in ST3, which might be something ‘special’. I think there is much opportunity for Stride and the local bus network to better interface in Renton. Not of the magnitude of light rail, but still significant capital investment in transit infrastructure for a city of Renton’s size.

      12. “ I wouldn’t consider any neighborhood in Renton similar to Rainier Valley, Ballard or Lake City.”

        The central part of Renton is certainly height-restricted because the airport is so close.

        However, Renton does have some pretty dense developments in places. There are locations like Renton Landing with buildings just as dense as a Seattle neighborhood.

        Further, Renton also has major regional employment and shopping areas and a major hospital. Many in the Rainier Valley and the rest of SE Seattle shop and do things in Renton — yet transit doesn’t often make that easy.

        Renton also has many foreign-born residents as well as many adults renting rooms or living with extended relatives. It may look “low-density” but that doesn’t mean that there are just 1 or 2 adults per unit and they all have cars.

        And let’s not forget that Skyway is not part of Renton but it is on the way from Seattle. In fact, if Renton had been able to annex it and other designated areas it would have a similar population and square miles (thus about the same density) as a city as Bellevue does (with 9 planned Link stations).

        The major question for a rail alternative is whether it needs to be aerial or underground. The density is not there for underground like a few areas mentioned in Seattle. The cost differences by grade are significant — so if a mostly at-grade line could be added (say along MLK from future BAR to central Renton), it could pencil out as more cost-effective (as compared to other planned Eastside rail segments).

        Rather than do amateur analysis, I still think the best approach is to encourage better long-range transit planning there. There are many current and future needs and markets that could be served by transit better there. The terrain is challenging for rail. Before dismissing the idea, I think some energy needs to be put into developing and then costing and analyzing some system concepts.

    2. Please do share your Rainier Valley-Renton concept. The other concepts have it bending back to TIB and a secondary line to Renton. Rerouting it to Renton instead of TIB would be new and could advance the discussion. I’d be sad to yank Rainier Valley-airport service, which was new with Link, but we can discuss alternatives for it. There’s definitely a transit market between Renton and Rainier Valley because the economic and cultural levels are similar. When lower-income people started getting priced out of Seattle in the 1990s they moved first to Skyway, Renton, and Tukwila, and that has continued to strengthen. The 106 is their bus route. The 107 plays a secondary role through lower-density areas. The 101 must not be forgotten because it’s a long steep walk from Renton MLK to any other bus route. Our concepts truncate the 101 at BAR or Rainier Beach. Metro intends to continue running the 101 forever. (It does intend to truncate the 150, however.)

      Another issue is the disconnection between western Renton on the one hand, and eastern and southern Renton where most of the people live. They all have to transfer in downtown Renton. I’d like to connect the 105 or 160 to the 106 or 101. But the 160 is to be upgraded to RapidRide I (Auburn-Kent-Renton), and that makes it difficult to argue to extend it beyond downtown Renton. And Metro seems to have a blind spot about the Renton Highlands’ plight.

      1. Mike, I envision moving the Rainier Valley station a block North and branch the line thereafter to follow Renton Ave with a station around Kubota Garden and one in Skyway to Renton.
        To connect the South Park express line and the Rainier line you might be able to run an automated train between the Rainier Valley station and the new Tukwila Gateway Center station.
        The B4 alignment was going from Burien along I-405 to South Center and Renton. The South Center station would not be very convenient. I would rather suggest a gondola connection between TIBS, Strander Blvd, Sounder station and Renton TC. Currently this is served by RapidRide F, but the route is not direct and difficult in traffic.

      2. There’s definitely a transit market between Renton and Rainier Valley

        Agreed. The 106 does a good job serving it, but like many buses, it could use better evening and weekend service.

        This is also where the BAR station comes in. Build that, along with a freeway station for buses. The 101 (and similar express buses) stop there on there way to downtown, so that folks can make a quick two seat connection to Beacon Hill and a different part of Rainier Valley. Whether that is worth the money or not is another matter. But it is certainly a much better value than sending the train to Renton instead of SeaTac.

        I think it is odd that some folks want an express to SeaTac (bypassing Rainier Valley) while saying that Renton will be happy without one. Do you really think that folks in Renton will be happy to see the 101 go, and take a much slower trip to downtown, just because it is a train? If we keep the 101, then ridership to Renton resembles that part of the 106, which really isn’t that high (not high enough to justify a train). South of Henderson, the bus picks up 1,000 people, and most of those are spread out along the way (not coming from the Renton TC). A Renton extension without getting rid of the 101 would carry only a handful of people (likely less than the number that go from Rainier Valley to SeaTac). It would leave the obvious question as to what to do with the line that goes to SeaTac. Creating a split would doom each section. Eliminating the connection between Rainier Valley and SeaTac would place undo burden on Metro, and reduce ridership.

        Those sorts of plans are just solutions looking for a problem.

      3. “Do you really think that folks in Renton will be happy to see the 101 go, and take a much slower trip to downtown, just because it is a train?”

        Sure, by the same logic of many other bus truncations. A Link extension into Renton would be, in theory, more reliable and more frequent than the 101 and therefore a worthwhile tradeoff of the higher speed for the 101. Especially if I5 congestion continues to get worse and the HOV lanes on I5 no longer function, shifting those trips to a train that has decided ROW would be desirable.

        You also mocked the Dwamish bypass above, arguing that strong route with many stops is better than an express bypass. The same logic would apply to preferring the 106 upgraded to Link over the 101, no?

        IMO, Renton is best served by better bus service to Seattle and Bellevue, but I can understand why, long term, some advocates desire to upgrade the Seattle-Renton corridor to light rail.

      4. RossB is correct. Check out Route 105. It attracts almost 30 riders per platform hour. Even before Stride, ST routes 560 and 566 connect Renton and Bellevue. Metro has Route 342 on top of them, though it is almost empty.

      5. RossB also made a pitch for shorter Route 106 headway and waits in the evening and on the weekends. Bravo. Note that Transit used scarce hours to extend Route 106 to IDS from Mt. Baker in fall 2016 instead.

      6. If RapidRide I brings more people to Renton at higher frequency, I bet more people would also expect to be able to continue towards Seattle. I expect lower income housing to continue to grow in South Renton, the Kent/Auburn valley and Maple Valley. Swift will serve the Eastside and Burien, but Seattle won’t have any high frequency options. The 106 takes more than half an hour to Mt Baker whereas Link would take 20min.

    3. After playing around with the interactive map/data on the NYS OSC site, I can’t help but wonder why we can’t have nice things like this here.

    4. “I wouldn’t consider any neighborhood in Renton similar to Rainier Valley, Ballard or Lake City. The latter are urban neighborhoods, with a lot more density. There is a much stronger case for running the 7 or 44 every ten minutes than running the 101 every ten minutes.”

      I envisioned running the 106 every 10 minutes rather than the 101. The 106’s 15-minute frequency is a good step forward for a suburb but the goal should be 10 minutes. (And long-term I want 5 minutes on all core route.) The 101’s 15-minute frequency is good for a suburb; the problem is when it drops to 30 minutes weekends and evenings. Link is minimum 10 minutes until 10pm, that’s one of the reasons the larger suburbs need it, because they can’t get that guarantee for buses. Even though it’s physically possible, Metro and ST won’t guarantee it. The 550 is still 30 minutes on Sundays, and the only Eastside routes I know of that are better than that are the B and 255. The 106 has repeatedly gained and lost 15-minute Sunday and evening service over the years; it currently doesn’t have it. RossB may favor increasing the 15-minute span (and I certainly do), but there’s no guarantee Metro would do it, or would keep it even if it does. Renton needs something better than just a maybe, and something better than another countwide Metro levy failure.

      Metro leans strongly on keeping the 101 forever, unlike the other south end expresses. That makes some sense because Renton is so far east of Link that it’s arguably a separate corridor.

  5. Does anyone know why the S. Bellevue Park and Ride has only 35 “secured” bike lockers? With 1500 parking stalls I would think a bike would be good last mile access to downtown Bellevue.

    On Mercer Island we are beginning our (late) 8 year cycle rewrite of our comp. plan. A number of citizens have raised our out-of-date bike/pedestrian facilities plan, considering East Link is coming, and at least our town center is flat, we have little intra-Island transit, and in the past 53% of our park and ride was used by off-Islanders. And our shared- Ebike plan was a dud.

    The bicyclists seemed amazed when I pointed out ST has installed maybe 10 secured bike stalls that are open to the weather (there is a two year wait for one of the few covered bike lockers at the park and ride).

    These folks tend to ride expensive bikes. I asked them that if there are only maybe 10 secured lockers, in the rain, and you have a bike worth several thousand dollars and won’t leave it at the station why are we dedicating bike lanes to the light rail station rather than using that road space for more retail street parking. Do we really need dedicated bike lanes to a station with 10 or so secured bike lockers in the rain?

    When I asked the city why — despite its constant preening about being green — it didn’t insist on more bike lockers they claimed they did but ST refused, and they hoped the shared bike plan would be a hit so no one would care about leaving their expensive bike chained to an outside bike rack a short escalator ride from the train. My comment was the bike thieves would think they had broken into Greg’s Greenlake Cycle.

    1. Metro’s current bike lockers take a lot of space and they only provide very few causing a long waitlist. I wish they would use some of the Dutch solutions and provide more of those, that would certainly encourage taking a bike to the station.

    2. “Do we really need dedicated bike lanes to a station with 10 or so secured bike lockers in the rain?”

      Many bring their bike on the train with them so yes.

      1. Can you bring a bike on light rail even during peak hour commutes? Seems like a bike would take up a lot of critical passenger space, and could be tricky getting onto a packed train.

        On Mercer Island I would definitely suggest taking your bike onto the train. Foot traffic is low during the day around the station entrances, and I would be hesitant to leave an expensive bike locked to a bike rack if a thief could just cut the lock and ride down the escalator (assuming it worked) onto a train never to be seen again. My guess however is most of the bicyclists on Mercer Island who attended the meeting and who would use East Link were interested in riding their bike to the station, but not taking it with them on the train.

        I will ask the city whether the MI bike lockers at the park and ride will shift to on demand use. I am sure that will make many happy as a bike locker has no opened in some time. Not sure what a bicyclist does if they arrive after the lockers are full. I guess take their bike with them, or leave it locked to an outside bike rack. Too bad there isn’t some kind of daily reservation system for a small fee, like there should be for the park and ride.

      2. “Do we really need dedicated bike lanes to a station with 10 or so secured bike lockers in the rain?”

        It’s not like people using the lockers will be the only ones using the bike lanes. The lockers are designed for people with expensive bikes, but for many, simply riding a cheap bike and locking it to a rack with a u-lock is good enough.

        It’s also not the case that everybody using the bike lane will even be riding Link to begin with. They could be just riding around their neighborhood to the community center or Luther Burbank Park. Or, maybe they live in one of the houses or condos nearby and want to ride their bike to the town center. Or, maybe they use it in one small section of a recreational loop around the island.

        Just as the road next to the Link station is not used exclusively by drivers parking at the station, the bike lane on that road isn’t exclusive to transit riders either.

      3. And also with respect to “in the rain”. Yes, Seattle has rain, but it’s not like it rains here every single day. During the summer (the peak riding season), it hardly rains at all. It doesn’t make sense to argue that people should have no bike lanes to ride on in the summer because not enough people are riding in the winter.

      4. asdf2, I was referring to the bicycle/pedestrian facilities plan in our comprehensive plan relating specifically to access to the light rail station. Recreational bike lanes and the shoulders along The Mercers are different issues, (which are also contentious when all the off-Island bicyclists descend on MI in the summer). The issue with the bike lanes is there is a trade off with more retail street parking in the town center vs. dedicated bike lanes.

        I didn’t get the idea from the meeting on Mercer Island the bike proponents were talking about riding old, cheap bikes to the station, or want to own old, cheap bikes, and due to the topography on the Island I suspect many were talking about their E-bikes, which generally are not cheap. But a good non-E-bike is not cheap either.

        Historically, pre-pandemic, the use of bikes as first/last mile access to the bus stop was not strong on MI, even from the town center that is flat. Weather, the demographic, topography, kind of jobs, the lack of transit use to begin with, etc. all influence that, probably including the lack of secured bike storage. Plus I think the truly dedicated bicyclists just ride their bike all the way into Seattle or Bellevue rather than to a bus or train on MI. From what I got from the meeting, people were asking for secured and covered bike storage, like the lockers at the park and ride that are quite limited too.

        On the other hand, there is quite a movement to build more commuter parking, and the agreement with ST provides $4.5 million in ST matching funds for new commuter parking, but of course pre-pandemic that was based on heavy peak hour congestion.

        My point is if there are only a few secured bike areas at the light rail station, that are outside in the rain, bike access to the station won’t be great, and so it makes more sense to dedicate town center street capacity to retail street parking and have the bicyclists ride on the road, or in sharrows. After all, the traffic on MI town center streets is not too heavy, although sometimes a bit chaotic with all the turn lanes.

        If however it could be shown a very large number of Islanders would ride their bike to the light rail station (or take transit to begin with), and would be willing to leave their bike locked to an outside rack, or take their bike with them on the train, then dedicated bike lanes might make sense.

        So that is the issue for our Plan: should we use the street capacity for more retail street parking — which is necessary because the taller mixed-use developments in the town center have inadequate onsite residential parking and/or the building owners charge a lot for that parking when street parking is free — when demand for more town center retail is a core issue before the council right now, or dedicate that roadway to dedicated bike lanes.

        Other factors, or unknowns, are transit use vs. town center retail needs post pandemic as more Islanders work from home and thus need more local retail, and the likelihood the council will declare MI “built out” in the next comp, plan based on the recent elections for council, something I think several eastside cities will do, which will mean they won’t change their zoning to accommodate more residents or housing because they are “built out”. Few understand all the mandates to upzone don’t come with any state or county funding for more schools, roads, water and sewer lines, police and fire, park acres/1000 residents, and so on, and so increased population does not benefit existing citizens, and raises their taxes.

        My guess right now is the road capacity will go towards more street retail parking (and hopefully a parking management plan that eliminates overflow residential parking on town center streets) rather than dedicated bike lanes to the light rail station because not enough Island bicyclists will ride their bike to the stations, and future changes post-pandemic support more local retail rather than off-Island transit use. Just my guess, but I follow the council closely, and was a big supporter of some of the recent successful council candidates.

  6. I don’t have usage data. I know on MI there is a two year wait for one of the secured, covered bike lockers (or was pre-pandemic) at the park and ride. I am not sure usage data is relevant if you have a 1500 stall park and ride and major transit intercept but only 35 secured bike lockers. I am going to go out on a limb and guess the bike locker “usage” at S. Bellevue post pandemic will be 100%, or 35 bikes, if they truly are secured and covered. Does anyone on this blog leave their bike at a Link station?

    It could be ST was looking only at first mile access to S. Bellevue in a rather undense area, rather than last mile bike access to Bellevue from folks who drive to the park and ride, which maybe made sense in 2008 but not today.

    1. The reason why there’s such a long wait list is an artificial construct of the way bike lockers are managed. Until recently, all lockers were leased out on a long-term basis, with each locker permanently reserved for one particular person. This was very inefficient since any day, the one particular person the locker was leased to decided not to bike, nobody else could use the locker, and it would just sit there, empty. Worse, the fact that the lockers were so limited created a hoarding effect, where anybody that thought they might ever have need for a locker would grab one the moment one became available, and would never relinquish it, even if their commute changed and they didn’t need it anymore.

      Fortunately, the new BikeLink lockers are much better than this. These are leased out on-demand, an hour at a time, and, in practice, are never full. It is past time for all of the bike lockers, systemwide, to be converted from the old legacy system to the new BikeLink system.

      1. This is exactly correct.

        I recently received notice that my keyed, leased locker at Columbia City station will be converting to On-Demand “sometime in the first Qtr. of 2022.”

  7. Except, who’s going to ride a bike to S Bellevue? Other than access from maybe the mtn to sound greenway nobody is going to ride a bike on Bellevue way; or if they do they won’t live long. And anyone riding a bike would more than likely just ride across the I-90 bridge. That’s what I plan to do when they finish Eastrail. If it’s ugly I’ll ride/walk to 130th in the Spring District. If it’s nice enough to ride as far as S Bellevue I’ll keep going.

    1. I can see reasons for people to do it. If you’re coming from the Newcastle area, it’s a pretty smooth bike ride along mostly trail. A bike will be much faster than the 240 feeder bus proposed by Metro with its insane detour to Eastgate and downtown Bellevue. Similar if coming from the Newport/Factoria area.

      Once on the bike, why not continue riding onward to Seattle? If it’s a nice whether, staying on the bike is certainly an option. But, if you have time constraints, switching over to the train will almost certainly be faster. Plus, if it’s raining, a 3-mile ride in the rain is a lot less cold and wet than a 10-mile ride in the rain. Trust me, I’ve done both many times.

      Also, not everybody has good bike storage options once they get to Seattle. Yes, most downtown office towers have an indoor bike room, but if you’re trip is social/recreational, rather than work, you’re typically stuck with open racks on the street. If I were making the trip on an expensive bike, I would much prefer to leave it in a fully enclosed locker at a Link station than out in the open on a downtown street.

      1. Agreed; the time constraint becomes even more relevant if the rider is heading to UW or transferring to travel onwards from downtown. Given the trail’s routing, S Bellevue is the best option for someone who wants to quickly get on a train.

        Also, I could see people take the reverse trip, particularly to T-mobile and other jobs in Factoria, if they live in Seattle. With an electric bike or powered scooter, that’s a very easy trip from Link to Factoria that someone can take without need to shower/change clothes at work. Particularly with that fancy new bridge over Factoria Blvd, the mountain-to-sound greenway will be a great way to access Link, and for many trip pairs near the trail it is probably faster/more reliable than a bus to Link

      2. Also, I could see people take the reverse trip, particularly to T-mobile and other jobs in Factoria, if they live in Seattle.

        Yes, definitely. I used to do something similar to get to Fremont. I would take the bus to the UW, and then ride my bike from there. I was lucky enough to get a locker, since my wife worked there. This is also where a decent bike share system could work.

      3. I agree, in nice weather a scooter would do great from S. Bellevue to Factoria, but not everybody is into it. For the general public, a gondola would do great from S. Bellevue to Factoria to Eastgate. May be BCollege and T-Mobile could fund it…

    2. When I had a bike with a U-lock and I was going to a club, I’d thread my helmet and the sleeve of my jacket through the lock, so then I wouldn’t have to pay to check my jacket inside, and it would be waiting for me when I came out. Of course this doesn’t work if it’s raining.

  8. Today, around noon, the I-90 bridge to Seattle was closed for at least an hour. Not sure if this was due to high winds or a major accident, but it does beg the question: After East Link is up and running, what happens to service in Bellevue and Redmond when wind conditions (or the Blue Angels) require closure of the I-90 bridge? Will trains be able to turn around at Mercer Island Station? Or, will trips within the eastside simply have no service until the bridge re-opens?

    I can only prey and hope that Sound Transit did not cheap out on installing Mercer Island turnaround track.

      1. Thanks, Jason, good to know!
        Seattle Times at some point claimed West Seattle connection is required for 3 line as otherwise Everett trains can’t turn around. Coming from Everett they could easily pick up additional Eastside riders on Mercer Island, turn around and head back to the city.

      2. Excellent news. Hopefully, we won’t need it, but much better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

      3. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Cross-overs ARE NOT SUFFICIENT to turn an in-service train. Unless the train is double-cabbed and the transfer of control takes place VERY rapidly, one or the other track will be fouled for several minutes by the train while the operator “walks the train” to the previously trailing cab. As an emergency removal of a disabled train it’s fine, but it would be a Five-Alarm fustercluck to try doing it as a scheduled thing.

        A turnback must at a minimum have a pocket track on the “away” side of the intermediate terminal station, very preferably with a paved sidewalk in a generous buffer between the pocket and one of the service tracks.

      4. Hmm, it seems like there would be space for such pocket track right under Mercer Way. I guess cross overs were built for emergency cases, but not for turn back service, TT.

      5. That’s right, Tom!

        Crossovers are valuable when a platform is blocked as a way to get around the blockage. It was a lack of crossovers in the DSTT that required Connect 2020 so they are very important.

        However, turning a train around requires tail tracks or sidings as you describe.

        So the question that needs answering is this: Where are third tracks or sidings on East Link where a driver can walk through the train? I am pretty certain that the OMF can serve that purpose but I don’t know about the rest of the line.

      6. Any station platform can serve that purpose, as done temporarily at UW or SeaTac. MAX does this sometimes when eg a sofa gets lost off a pickup on I-84 and winds up on the tracks.

        They don’t even have to have a platform, Just a siding with clearance to walk next to the tracks. I was on one MAX train that had one car develop an issue. It was taken out of service and the remaining car finished the trip as a single car train. When I got on it was a single car train. However, when it arrived at the Clinton street station, a spare car was waiting at the siding at Clinton street. The siding has no platform. The first car pulled into the station, the second car was coupled on, and the train continued as a two car train. There was no need for a platform, except as a place for the car occupied by passengers to be stopped. If you’ve built a pocket track, siding, or other place for a train to be stationary, chances are the operator is going to also have to leave the cab at that location as well.

        Though it definitely works far better if this is a platform.

      7. Glenn, UW and Sea-Tac worked to turn trains with a pair of scissors crossovers “upstream” of the platforms each when they were terminals! Jason was proposing that crossovers be used to turn trains in regularly scheduled service at intermediate stations. Tuat simply cannot work.

        Your example of a MAX car on a siding is another instance of an unusual circumstance. All sorts of track geometries can be used from time to time in order to ameliorate them. That was pretty slick of Tri-Met.

        Tri-Met also uses platforms to turn trains at Beaverton TC and Gateway as you described, but they have a third, “pocket” track in which they store and reverse the trains. ST chooses not to widen the right-of-way to accomodate the pocket within the station, so it places the pocket in the space used by the center platforms it favors adjacent to the station. Given that most of its stations are in the air or underground, that makes sense.

        Can we just agree that using ONLY a cross-over to turn a train back at an intermediate station as a regularly scheduled service is unsustainable?

      8. I will say that given the double scissors at MI and the minimum 10 minute headways on the bridge it might have been possible to reverse trains there IF trains were double-cabbed east of Judkins Park. That is, a replacement operator would board the trailing car of a train to be reversed at MI at Judkins Park and ride to MI while he or she gets set up in the cab. The train would pass through the cross-over ahead of the station and stop at the inbound platform.

        The newly-seated “back-end” operator would claim control of the train and leave after a normal station dwell. The former operator would ride back across the main channel bridge, removing the controller along the way, and detrain at Judkins Park for a break and to await another eastbound to be turned at MI. This is a bit expensive, but “doable”.

        However, I said “might have” because the placement of the Seattle-side scissor is so far west of the platform that it would be quite difficult to schedule the opposing move to the inbound track. The extra minute or so that the scissors is west of the MI platforms would make any schedule bariability difficult to accommodate.

        So I have to admit that it is possible to turn trains at a platform in regular service on a relatively low-frequency line if the agency is willing to pay for double-cabbing.

      9. The ability to reverse trains at Mercer Island is not intended to be something that would be used for normal operations. It is only for unusual situations where there is a service disruption, in an effort to maintain service on at least part of the route, even if at a slightly lower frequency.

        For instance, take the Blue Angels, which closes the I-90 bridge for a few hours every year. A three-hour window in the middle of the day with no service at all between Redmond and Bellevue is simply not acceptable. That leaves two service options for this period: run the trains and turn them around at Mercer Island, or run shuttle buses between train stations. Considering that shuttle buses would bunch and get stuck in traffic, and force riders to look up new boarding locations they’re not used to, it is unquestionably better for riders to just run the trains, even if the special turnaround movements require running them every 12-15 minutes, rather than every 10 minutes.

      10. I’m not sure if they would shut down Link for the Blue Angles. They do for cars because of rubber necking and/or people having the cr#p scared out of them. They’re not concerned about a plane crashing into the bridge or they wouldn’t let pedestrians and bikes out onto the traffic lanes during the closure to watch the show.

      11. I’m pretty sure they will shut down Link during high winds and the Blue Angels. They also shut down I-5 when there’s fireworks at the Space Needle, with no exception for buses. Their jobs are on the line and they can be sued if they don’t follow excessive safety recommendations. The Blue Angels is only a few hours a year so we mustn’t make too much out of it. And since it’s known beforehand, ST can preposition trains on the Eastside. Whether they terminate at South Bellevue or Mercer Island is less significant: the existing buses get rerouted to 405 and 520 and Mercer Island has either no service or a shuttle. So it’s not getting worse than it currently has. I don’t know whether there are turnbacks on the Eastside mainland. At worst ST could run one bidirectional train on each track. And it’s only for a few hours at a time.

      12. Fun speculation: if East Link were automated, that would eliminate the ostensible reason for the Blue Angels closure. Would WSDOT allow trains then? A plane could lose power and fall on a train, but that’s tiny compared to the possibility of falling on land. It’s a moot point since ST hasn’t even studied automated trains. It talked in the early 2000s about considering it, but didn’t consider it for Ballard or the shared 1/2 Lines segment.

      13. “They’re not concerned about a plane crashing into the bridge or they wouldn’t let pedestrians and bikes out onto the traffic lanes during the closure to watch the show.”

        Not quite true. Pedestrians are only allowed in one section of the traffic lanes, next to Seattle. The bike trail across the rest of the lake is closed, along with the traffic lanes.

        It would be nice if they could find a way to keep Link running normally and safely during the event, but I wouldn’t just assume that.

      14. I think asdf2 is correct about planes. Same reason the flight path can no longer go over Seward Park and the houses there. As asdf2 notes the bridge span where the planes fly over is not open to spectators, just the initial part of the bridge deck. Cars are not prohibited because of rubber necking; cars are prohibited due to the risk of a plane crash. Buses are also prohibited during practice flights and the Sunday show. My guess is East Link would be closed during those times as well. In the past folks were able to somehow survive with the closure, and if necessary, there is always 520 or one can drive around. If necessary I am sure ST could run a bus from MI along East Link’s route if East Link can’t operate from Mercer Island to Redmond, but I doubt it is worth it for the small time the bridge is closed in the middle of August.

      15. P.S. Has the Urbanist eliminated comments to its articles? Granted there would be days between comments and half were from the writers themselves (and I wondered sometimes if The Urbanist had more writers than readers), but I thought the comments — although rare — were an often-necessary counterpoint to The Urbanist’s extremely far left ideology.

        I saw recently where Claudia Balducci commented on The Urbanist about the planning councils on the eastside. Despite being mayor and a King Co. councilmember for this area she had no idea they existed, their history, or purpose. She commented these councils no longer serve their areas and should be abolished by state action. I could only think she hasn’t served the eastside since she joined the King Co. Council, and anyone who is chair of the PSRC and ST Board with her record should not represent the eastside. Let some other area have her, and let me know if your area wants her as your county council representative. No charge, free delivery.

      16. Link has a bus bridge during planned closures; it’s just slow to get established during unplanned closures. The bus bridges are sometimes better than Link’s service because they’re every 10 minutes even when Link is less (probably because of pre-negotiated plans and contracts), and agents stand outside station entrances to guide people. It’s two articulated buses for every pulse, and there’s lots of publicity beforehand.

        UW Station is in an in-between state during Husky games and 520 closures. These don’t affect Link, but the bus reroutes are really awful. Sometimes the 48,, 255, and 271 continue running, while all northeast Seattle routes are rerouted to Campus Parkway, with only one 10-minute shuttle on Pacific Street. And I guess when 520 was closed the 255 was rerouted to I-90, I-5 and U-District Station, a much longer way around, and worse than just reinstating a downtown terminus temporarily. (Intl Dist or Stadium have been suggested.) Did this really happen in the closures this year?

      17. “Has the Urbanist eliminated comments to its articles?”

        I still haven’t gotten into the habit of reading the Urbanist regularly, so I don’t know. :)

        “She commented these [neighborhood] councils no longer serve their areas and should be abolished by state action”

        She’s right about that though. The councils are stacked by extreme nimbys, who don’t represent the entire neighborhood’s view, and have veto power over the larger area’s and citywide’s interests. There’s a similar problem with Seattle’s neighborhood advisory councils, which are different and don’t have formal veto power, but they claim to speak for the neighborhood when they only speak for the most extreme subset of residents. You’re sympathetic to these extreme residents so it’s not surprising you think they should keep their existing power. You’ve also said Bellevue should defer more to that Eastside transportation roundtable, which seems stacked by anti-transit, anti-train business interests. They’re in favor of BRT to scuttle light rail, but when it comes to implementing BRT or raising taxes for it, they’re against BRT. With the exception of 405 Stride, because if there’s anywhere that should get more bus service it’s 405.

        “Despite being mayor and a King Co. councilmember for this area she had no idea they existed, their history, or purpose.”

        I don’t know about that part. My relatives have been her constituents throughout all her roles, and they and I think she’s one of the best Eastside politicians around with the best vision. She — like the Eastside and King County governments in general — know that the Eastside can’t grow or keep its economic effectiveness without expanding transit and becoming more transit-oriented and addressing transportation-equity issues. I didn’t say totally transit-oriented, but more transit-oriented. That’s what East Link, Stride North and South, RapidRide K, Bellevue’s Transit Master Plan, and Issaquah Link are intended to achieve. And that means saying no to the extreme special interests on the neighborhood planning boards. I don’t know why Balducci didn’t know about these boards, unless she didn’t understand the question.

      18. “ Tri-Met also uses platforms to turn trains at Beaverton TC and Gateway as you described, but they have a third, “pocket” track in which they store and reverse the trains. ST chooses not to widen the right-of-way to accomodate the pocket within the station, so it places the pocket in the space used by the center platforms it favors adjacent to the station.”

        This depends on the situation.

        A problem TriMet has is the planning agency here thinks like DT: everyone only drives, so there’s lots of park and ride lots. This means the ratio of peak ridership vs regular ridership is pretty bad. Eg; the Orange line needs three tracks at its south end because peak period prepandemic, it had three trains arrive in quick succession, and northbound there were two departures scheduled 2 minutes apart. Most of the time, the line only gets 15 minute service, and two tracks are fine for that. Gresham only gets two tracks, but peak period “in the before time” it had trains every 7 minutes.

        One thing would be to just add a simple crossover beyond the Mercer Island station. This would allow the trains to pull into the station, pull through the station, then treat the track beyond the station as a tail track to reverse back onto the other track going the other way. TriMet sometimes does this at the Clackamas Town Center station, though most of the time the tail track there isn’t used.

      19. Jason also showed a crossover BEFORE the Mercer Island station. If the train would cross there (right after the prior train leaves) so that the driver can get off with the passengers, walk to the other end while new passengers get on, he could then continue the ride back to Seattle.

      20. Just to be clear, turning ALL trains to and from the east at MI using the scissors just east of the platforms is just using MI as a terminal briefly. That’s entirely doable for the Angels or bad wind events.

        I was replying to the speculation of making MI the terminal for eventual “Line 2” Everett trains instead of West Seattle during normal service when “Line 3” East Link trains would be running their normal route.

        That would be almost impossible to make work with the west side scissors 3/4 of a mile from the platform even with double-cabbing.

      21. Glenn, Martin, with East Link expected never to run more frequently than ten minutes between trains, it might seem that a train could “slip in” between them using the upstream scissors, but even that is too dangerous to the schedule to do on a regular basis without double-cabbing from Judkins Park. It takes the operators a minute or so to shut the control down at the former leading end, and a couple of minutes to activate and test the new leading end. Tri-Met trains are two articulated cars long while Link trains are twice as long, doubling the walk time. Tri-Met headways on the Red Line trains that turn back are always 15 minutes, because of the single-track segments. Line 2 trains will presumably run at ten minute intervals.

        The placement of the scissors 3/4 of a mile from the platforms at MI means that the approaching train would foul the westbound track longer than normal placement would.

        Using the adjacent east side scissors would be entirely unacceptable because it would require the operator to BACK INTO the station in regular service or “walk the train” on adjacent, active revenue trackage. I seriously doubt that ST would ever countenance that.

        Finally, would the train stop at the eastbound platform to discharge or would passengers bound for MI ride along on the backing movement. Stopping twice would add more time yet to this disruptive operation.

        If passengers were in the train the agency would not allow the train to be walked. The train would have to be backed blind into the station.

        There are just too many safety questions to using the “farside” scissors. It will not happen.

  9. With SB5528 Senator Peterson is trying again to get additional taxing authority to secure additional transit funding for Seattle, similar to the Monorail tax. (kind of like Hackney did last year with SB1304)

  10. @Daniel T
    “P.S. Has the Urbanist eliminated comments to its articles?”

    (Placing my reply here instead of up above since it seemed out of place to me.)

    Succinctly, I don’t know the answer to your question. Honestly, I don’t read The Urbanist blog with any regularity any longer, as I once did. I think some of the writers there have thin skin and don’t seem to like to have the points in their articles questioned. I stopped reading the blog regularly a few years back when I was having difficulty getting my comments to post. The decisive point for me came when a comment that had posted to a piece by Mr. Fesler was later removed, most likely because it contradicted the entire premise behind his piece. (It did NOT violate any of the blog’s commenting policies as I always keep that in mind.) When I emailed them about the matter and didn’t receive any reply, that told me that I was just wasting my time and I stopped reading the blog. Today, I read their pieces infrequently, typically only when I come across a linked piece posted on this blog (which I do read almost daily).

    Anyway, that’s my two cents’ worth.

    1. The Urbanist produces a lot of content. Some of the articles are pretty informative, but the desire for new content every day led to some articles by folks who really were not qualified. Being a committed “urbanist”, or riding a bike, does not make one an expert on land use or transit.

      The new executive editor Doug Trumm feels the site is more for propaganda, and sees urbanism as a cult. He regularly will remove replies he simply disagrees with, especially if they are well written and question the assumptions and conclusions in the article. I can imagine Tisgwm would be Trumm’s worse nightmare.

      I also thought allowing the author of an article to bicker back and forth in the comment section with readers who replied was not productive, or having other regular article writers jump in to the defend the author of the article.

      Trumm has a hard time seeing an issue from both sides. Urbanism to him is a religion. It is like arguing with Billy Graham. He is truly an ideologue, which makes those who disagree with him infidels, or people to be silenced. Unfortunately as the last election shows a large percentage of Seattle residents who vote pretty blue disagree with many of his positions, which he believes is ignorance.

      I remember when they put in a system that allowed readers to vote favorable or unfavorable on an article or reply. Because of Trumm’s heavy handed editorial style his articles and replies got an overwhelming number of negative replies even when they probably did not deserve such opprobrium from the readers, mostly directed at his editorial style, so of course he eliminated that feature. A number of readers know Trumm personally or from the past, and would bring up his frustration at never being allowed to join the Wallingford community council.

      I also posted some replies that were removed. One questioned Trumm’s continued use of several thousand housing units for the warehouse property in S. Seattle that Amazon purchased. The number of units Trumm was using for the square footage of the site if converted to housing equaled around 150 sf per unit, so Trumm would delete the reply. He also didn’t like my questioning his cost estimations to build 5000 new publicly subsidized housing units in Seattle, which he had at around $240,000/each when in the past each unit plus maintenance (which depends heavily on AMI and contributions from the tenants) cost closer to $450,000/unit. He never could understand that if new construction, housing will never be affordable if there is no public subsidy, and that builders have a built-in bias to build the least affordable housing as possible, because it increases their profit.

      So I stopped replying too. Not that I am the last word in expertise on these issues, and land use is simply politics, and transit is simply money, but a lot of folks in Seattle — and most on the eastside — think like I do, so might as well listen to them before finding out in an election for mayor and city attorney you are way out on a limb, and your blog now has very little influence on the new mayor or city attorney.

      1. Thanks for the feedback, as troubling as it is to hear. It sounds to me as though you have experienced commenting issues similar to my own.

        If all their blog is going to do is stick their fingers in their ears and recite “la, la, la, la, I can’t hear you” when readers challenge any of their pieces, then I think they may as well just shut down their comments section. Otherwise, it just operates as a pointless echo chamber.

    2. Billy Graham was always the most reasonable, least politically divisive, most non-corrupt evangelical leader or televangelist. He focused on the gospel when others were focusing on right-wing social issues or making money.

      1. I’d never really though about it that way but you’re 100% correct. Union Gospel Mission I believe was also in the vein of it’s God’s to judge.

    3. The Urbanist would benefit from more diverse voices. I encourage you to try commenting again, though perhaps without the same acerbic humor that does you well here in the STB threads.

    4. As far as I know, I haven’t had any issues commenting on Urbanist articles. They occasionally have good transit news before STB does, but they also have a tendency, which I don’t care for, to veer away from urbanism into general left-wing politics. Two themes in particular I see on there a lot that irk me are 1) acting as if money is infinite, and fiscal responsibility doesn’t matter, so long as it’s money raised from taxing the rich, 2) Viewing anything the left doesn’t like as motivated by racism, whether it has anything to do with race or not (*). The urbanist has also had a tendency to endorse leftist fringe candidates well outside the mainstream.

  11. Except when he wasn’t, like his conversations in the Oval Office with Richard Milhous Nixon.

    It’s a pretty low bar to begin with anyway.

    Sorry, Mike, but I don’t get your reply’s connection to Daniel’s comments. Care to elaborate?

    1. This was in reply to Mike Orr’s comments above. (I’m not sure why it didn’t nest correctly, as I thought I hit the proper reply.)

    2. In his later years the others including his son got worse and more non-cooperative, while he didn’t.

  12. Knowing we’re not linear here (this discussion started w/ 3rd Ave. downtown, veered from Tacoma to Lake City to Renton to Bellevue, and ended with a bike lawsuit in Ballard) I note that 3rd Ave. since the 1960s from Cherry to Lenora has been a noisy, sterile, concrete roadway shadowed by tall buildings with no setbacks, and since the 1980s, a badly-designed “transit tunnel” underneath. It could have been a combined transit-way for bikes and buses, safer for pedestrians, with planted islands down the center for bikes, planted curbsides for buses, and a tunnel that accommodated rail AND bus, but in Seattle’s typical failure of design, foresight and budgeting, it isn’t. I hold in mind the possibility of improvement, but won’t hold my breath for it.

  13. I-405 at NE 132nd Street
    pre-construction meeting Notice

    Register for a pre-construction public meeting for the I-405 – NE 132nd St Interchange Project on Dec. 15

    The Washington State Department of Transportation will construct a new on-ramp to northbound I-405 and a new off-ramp from southbound I-405 at Northeast 132nd Street in Kirkland, creating a new half-diamond interchange. This project will improve access to the Totem Lake regional growth center and surrounding neighborhoods in Kirkland. It will also provide a new route to access I-405, creating an alternative to using local streets and helping reduce pressure on heavily congested nearby interchanges. Construction is expected to begin in March 2022.

    You’re invited to join an online meeting to learn more about the project, hear about the upcoming work, ask questions of the project team, and learn how to stay informed during construction. This meeting will be held online via Zoom.

    Wednesday, Dec. 15, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
    Register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_C60fAPE6T1CpB-Kw3tAUrA

    I had no idea WSDOT was doing this. I think 132nd is currently the HOV only exit closest to Evergreen Medical Center. IMHO this is a terrible project. More interchanges create conjestion because of the weave’n’bob. Nobody except emergency vehicles and transit should be using 132nd.

    I get Kirkland has upzoned “Totem Lake Mall” and maybe traffic will get back to where it was decades ago. Just fix 124th; and it’s not really all that broken. WSDOT is all about cars when they should be all about Transportation.

    1. Apparently it has been in the 405 Master Plan. I would prefer no project, but I think this new interchange is preferable to expanding the current interchange at 124th. If this results in a future widening of 132nd, it will be a horrible investment, but if it is truly nothing more than upgrading the two existing intersections (132 w/ 116 & Totem Lake) to roundabouts and adding off-ramps, it’s not terrible. The biggest bummer is there will no longer be a road in Totem Lake that crosses 405 without being a interchange with 405 (aside from the ERC).

      The HOV exit is at 124th. If this new exit pushes more traffic onto Totem Lake Blvd, this will be bad for local transit, but if instead it pulls traffic off of 124th onto 132nd, perhaps it will help buses. The interchanges will be roundabouts, which will help local buses turn left most of the day, but might back up terribly during peak hours.

      I would love for a 2nd Stride station immediately over Eastrail, to serve the southern half of Totem Lake. This is not in any current plans for WSDOT or ST.


      1. Honestly, my biggest gripe about transit in the Totem Lake area is not this, but the detour into and out of the Totem Lake Transit Center. There is really no reason for any bus to go in there, except for routes such as the 255 that end there. The 225, 239, etc. should simply be stopping nearby on the street.

  14. FYI for any model train afficionados on this blog:


    “If you go”:

    What: Model Train Festival

    When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17-Jan. 2, (Museum will be closed on December 24-25).

    Where: Washington State History Museum, 1911 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma

    Tickets: Timed for social distancing. See website for rates.

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