81 Replies to “Snow Open Thread”

  1. So, in the all-too-common situation where road crews plow the street, but don’t bother with the sidewalk (or, worse, use the sidewalk as a dumping ground to store all of the snow pushed off from the street), what is the pedestrian legally expected to do? Slip, slide, and/or sink 6 inches deep on every step? Wait 15-20 minutes and spend $8 hiring an Uber driver to travel 200 feet? Or, use common sense and just walk on the street?

    1. See, if the cops had been abolished, that would be several hundred million dollars to pay for people to clear the sidewalks.

    2. With the current conditions, I’ve found deep snow to be the safest. The road is often ice — polished by passing cars. On side streets with no sidewalk, it can be challenging getting around. Likewise, sometimes the sidewalks have been cleared, but not to the ground, leaving behind a thin layer of very slippery ice.

      I’ve seen people where MicroSpikes, which are similar to crampons. Those are a bit overkill in my opinion, and uncomfortable on bare sections of pavement. YakTracks are better suited with these conditions. If you don’t have access to either, bend your knees and lean forward as you walk (better to fall forward than back).

    3. Legally, it’s the responsibility of the owner of the property adjacent to the sidewalk to maintain the sidewalk, including shoveling the snow.


      It makes me wonder if SDOT had an enforcement division, and walked around pasting warnings/tickets on doors of homes/businesses that aren’t maintaining their sidewalks, how quickly that would pay for itself…

      1. Apparently, SDOT does this already. You can see sidewalks marked here as “inspected”:


        I live right next to a street where “enforcement action has been taken” but I can see zero result of that action.

      2. With a little more digging, it seems that SDOT doesn’t enforce fines for sidewalk clearing for equity concerns:


        City Auditor published a report in October suggesting SDOT work with the City Attorney to develop new and more effective enforcement options for sidewalk maintenance:


        It’s likely that the “enforcement action” taken on snowy sidewalks was simply some sort of notification to property owners reminding them of the law.

      3. The owner of the property adjacent to the sidewalk rule is nice and all, but in the end it breaks down quickly. It means many miles of sidewalk are the responsibility of various cities, most of whom lack the material supplies and especially now the employees to do anything. Sea-Tac, ST, or the airport aren’t going to touch the sidewalks around the Sea-Tac Airport Station. Those along the street bus stops? Good luck. And that’s just one location. Bike trails? Hah! The City of Seattle won’t plow them, and most road salts are toxic to salmon.

        If the City won’t do its part, it has no business trying to force residents to do their part. And commercial/industrial properties won’t do anything even with the city breathing down their necks.

        So what do we do? We walk in the six inch deep section of the snow. It at least gives our shoes/boots traction, which is better than the black ice sections.

      4. I saw that today: most of the sidewalks on Pine Street on Capitol Hill are shoveled, but not the bus stop block at 17th or the front of Cal Anderson Park. The best sidewalks are at Seattle Central College.

    4. At some point, it would be nice if cities in the northwest would get sidewalk plows. When I was a kid back east, that’s how that was done.

      Of course, that was the 1970s too, before Reaganomics and “running out of other people’s money” was the attitude about providing public services.

    5. I went out once on Monday and got half a block, but the packed-down snow on the sidewalk was more slippery than in past snows so I decided a non-critical trip wasn’t worth a fall. I’ll try again today to go to QFC and walk around. I was expecting the snow to disappear by this weekend, but if it’s going to be around for another week and a half I’ll have to think about what to do.

      My apartment building is the best about always clearing its sidewalk, but other buildings on Bellevue Avenue and Pine Street aren’t so good.

    6. I started thinking about spikes this week. I don’t really know what’s available or where. And I’m not sure I can walk down the hill to REI to get them anyway. I was going to go there on Friday to get some earmuffs, but then I didn’t have time and then the snow started. And when I went out Monday the temperature wasn’t that bad with my wool hat, so maybe I can put off earmuffs until after this snow.

    7. I made it to Trader Joe’s on the top of the hill. The snow is back to its normal state, and most sidewalks on Pine Street are shoveled, though not all of them. The steeper part between 14th and 16th is fully shoveled. Seattle Central College has the best sidewalks, snow-free the entire width. I didn’t go downtown so I don’t know what it’s like there.

    8. I saw the 10, 60, and the 90 First Hill shuttle running. The 10 is on its old routing (Pine & 15th). The most up-to-date info on reroutes is usually Metro’s Service Advisories page. It’s still unclear about the 62 though. Monday it said to transfer to the route 65 shuttle at 15th NE, but today it says the only reroute is downtown, implying it’s going to Magnuson Park as normal. I can’t confirm that.

  2. Community Transit has yet to update their rider alert page as of the time of this posting. The agency ran all of its buses on snow routes on Monday and Tuesday with multiple runs being canceled as well.

    Making matters more difficult for the agency, the county has been somewhat slow at clearing the roads/streets in some of the unincorporated areas (that they are responsible for) that CT routes rely upon. Hopefully the municipalities have done an adequate or better job with their thoroughfares.


    1. Today’s update….another day of running buses on snow routes:

      “Wednesday, December 29

      All Community Transit bus routes and Sound Transit routes out of Snohomish County are operating on Snow Route today. Expect potential delays to bus service as buses will be driving at slower speeds than usual.”

      When I went out this morning, I did note that the county road near me must’ve finally been plowed overnight. Anecdotally, most sidewalks in my neighborhood have yet to be cleared by property owners. (I did my own 90 feet of sidewalk on Monday and boy did I feel it on Tuesday. A few years back I searched for a used snowblower in working condition but didn’t have any luck. They’re rather an expensive luxury to have for our normal winter weather patterns in the Puget Sound lowlands.)

  3. I don’t know if this is true now, but this 2019 news article by the King County council suggests Metro will not turn away anyone who needs to get somewhere and can’t afford to pay a fare while the ESN is in effect. I mean, drivers aren’t supposed to turn anyone away under normal circumstances (that’s left in the hands of peace officers and FEOs), but I’m surprised it isn’t mentioned anywhere during this year’s ESN communications. https://kingcounty.gov/council/news/2019/August/08-28-JKW-snow.aspx

    1. This is the second time the ESN has been activated. I don’t remember if drivers were collecting fares in the last ESN. There have been some snow days when they didn’t. I haven’t heard anything about fares during this snow, and I haven’t been on a bus in it.

      1. Since fare collections resumed in October 2020, fare enforcement hasn’t been in effect. Riders are expected to pay their fares but they aren’t being turned away. Safety first for drivers and passengers.

        During an ESN this will always be the case. At some point metro will resume fare enforcement of some kind my guess is.

      2. By “not collecting fares” I meant Metro was officially free, drivers covered the farebox, and told people not to tap. That happened during surprise afternoon snowfalls when buses weren’t chained, and it may have happened on other snow days, I don’t remember for sure.

  4. PSA for anyone in the Wallingford/Fremont area – 31/32 and 62 are bypassing 34th & Fremont in both directions. I’m guessing this is because the hill on 35th is impassable, but I’ve seen no communication about it. We ended up running to a 62 turning off the bridge and fortunately the driver was nice enough to let us board in from the street.

    Oh, and the 28X is inexplicably running despite not being in the ESN, but is running via the Fremont Bridge and Westlake rather than Aurora, probably because 39th is impassable but that’s even more of a guess than the 31/32/62.

    1. I don’t understand, why aren’t they stopping at 34th if they pass through it anyway? I’m also assuming the 40 and 28 are stopping there, why can’t they?

      1. They’re turning onto 34th, normally they’d stay on Fremont and turn on 35th. The 28X and 40 run on 35th west of Fremont so don’t need to navigate the hill between Fremont and Stone.

        Amazingly, Metro is able to serve the Woodlawn stops by squeezing buses down Albion.

      2. Ok, that makes sense. It’s amazing Metro has exactly zero information about that online. You could easily stand there for 20 mins waiting for a bus just for it to blow right by you. Shame.

      3. I saw somebody at the 17th & Madison stop and I said the 11 isn’t running today; but I wasn’t sure about the 12 because I hadn’t checked for that route. I directed him to the 10 at 15th & Pine.

        At John & Broadway eastbound somebody had posted a handwritten sign saying the buses were on snow routes and to go to Pine Street. I wrote under the “on”, “Emergency Snow Network”, in case anybody was distinguishing between the two. Somebody at the stop thanked me.

      4. Related to this: Metro snow maps are terrible. It’s often not clear which stops are skipped or where exactly the bus is going. I was going to take the 5 today but I cannot tell where or if it stops around N 38th.

        I assume since it continues on Aurora it doesn’t stop there, but I have no way of knowing. So, I’m not going to walk all the way there to find out.

      5. I agree, even working with a college degree working in a profession where reading/writing technical documentation is required, I’m befuddled by Metro’s maps. For the 5 specifically, though, its snow route skips 38th and Fremont entirely, and runs on 45th to/from Phinney, basically the route of the old 5X and new 16X.

        The 31/32 snow route is even worse where they mostly bypass the U-District, running on Northlake and Pacific, and I have no idea where the stops would be as those streets don’t have regular bus service. The 62 has a similar problem between 45th and Ravenna, where it’s running on Green Lake without any posted stops. Generally it seems drivers are willing to be flagged down as long as riders are boarding in a safe location (we got on the 62 in the slip lane from the Fremont Bridge to 34th when it was on its unposted reroute of its snow route yesterday) but I have no idea what the official policy is.

      6. Check out the map for route 90 for a laugh. Metro says “Route 90 will serve all bus stops shown on the map” but there are no bus stops shown on the map at all.

        I realize Metro has a hard job and I understand waiting longer for less frequent snow service, but none of that matters if we have no idea where the buses are even going to be.

  5. Metro just announced a FOURTH day of ESN. Is this really the best the city and county can do? Pitiful response from our transit”experts”.

    1. Do you have a solution to the staffing shortage that prompted the switch to the ESN? Can you make drivers not get covid and have to quarantine, when omicron is transmitting like crazy? Are you going to cancel their holidays? Are you signing up to be a bus driver?

      1. Using the weather or the ESN to cover up a driver shortage issue, assuming that is the cause of these snafus, is completely disingenuous. That said, Metro’s poor track record in the snow is decades long, and has remained unchanged despite rises and falls in employee levels. Much like Real Time Arrival (the first attempts of which I remember at Northgate Transit Center back in 2002), this just seems like something Metro is physically incapable of doing right.

      2. @AJoy,

        Ya, it is odd. Metro seems to want to blame their non-performance on a labor shortage, which supposedly is caused by some combination of CV-19, weather, and holiday vacations. But the other agencies don’t seem to be impacted to the same extent, and Light Rail is basically unaffected. It doesn’t add up.

        To be honest though, Metro is stuck with a technology that doesn’t perform well in adverse conditions. Rubber tire on concrete works well when the concrete is nice and dry and contact is actually made, but separate the rubber from the concrete by a layer of snow or ice and all heck will break out.

        Metro certainly knows this. This is not their first snow experience after all. And that is what makes this so aggravating.

        Metro should know how poorly their buses perform in snow, and they should be prepared. But apparently they are not.

        Worst of all is that the communication is so poor. Real-time data is inexcusably poor, and basic info on routes and service levels is either missing or inaccurate.

        Nobody expects perfect service during a snow event, but at least Metro should be clear and concise about what service they will provide. So far? Not so much.

      3. But the other agencies [than Metro] don’t seem to be impacted to the same extent

        Is that really true? CT buses seem to be running on their snow routes (still). With ST express, the buses mainly run on the freeway (which are cleared first), so I would expect them to be more reliable. Have you ridden a lot of ST routes to make a real comparison, or are you just doing your usual complaining about Metro.

        As for real time data, are you sure that ST Express buses are working much better than Metro? I assume they use the same system, so I see no reason why it would be better or worse with one versus the other. Anyone have any idea why the snow or cold would mess it up? Or is it the software (due to the buses being on snow routes)?

        Oh, just so you know, it is not the technology. Snow on rails makes going uphill a challenge as well. They just managed to clear it for Link, and the train doesn’t go steeply uphill. It would be much worse if Seattle had a bunch of streetcars. Maybe it would work with cable cars (bring back the counter balance!).

      4. Metro’s reasoning seems to have evolved during the week. The initial switch to ESN was largely because an operator shortage was causing so many cancellations anyway, that Metro thought it was better to suspend a lot of routes rather than having them be canceled at the last minute or very late. But my daily email announcements later in the week say, “due to ongoing freezing temperatures, difficult road conditions and another expected round of snow”. I’ve never been a bus driver or in a bus agency so I can’t say whether that’s accurate or not. Many bus streets are plowed, but are road conditions too difficult to expect drivers to handle more routes? Some of the suspended streets aren’t plowed.

        BTW, to the person why was asking about Denny Way closures and tobogganing, I didn’t see it the first few days, but yesterday Denny had three car lanes open, and the fourth just had a segment blocked for maintenance or something. In past shows, the Denny viaduct over I-5 would first be open, and one car a minute would struggle up it and bystanders would debate whether it would succeed, and then it would be closed and people would sled down.

      5. @Rossb,

        “ Oh, just so you know, it is not the technology. Snow on rails makes going uphill a challenge as well.”

        Ah, no, that statement is total BS and you should know it. LR vehicles don’t have trouble with “snow on rails”, the physics simply doesn’t allow it.

        The contact area between a steel wheel and a steel rail is only about the size of a dime. Link operates in a B’2’B’ config, so only 12 total contact spots supporting the entire vehicle weight. The pressures are immense. Review your high school triple-point diagram for water. Snow and ice don’t persist at these pressures. It’s physically impossible.

        That is why rail vehicles have so much fewer problems in snow and ice than rubber tire on concrete.

        Think of it – when an LRV traverses a stretch of snow covered rail the rail it leaves behind is basically dry. When a bus traverses a stretch of snowy or icy road (assuming it can) it leaves behind….ice. It is not the same, the techs are fundamentally different.

        But hey, you assert (falsely) that is not the difference in technology. So if not technology, then what is it? Because we see over and over again that Link is basically unaffected by snow, but the bus system basically melts down into a day’s long cluster F****. Is it Metro then?

        Nope. It’s the technology. Metro just makes the situation worse by being underprepared.

        Now rail systems can have trouble with snow and ice, but they different issues and are not nearly as difficult to address. Basically we are talking about switch operations, fouled flangeways, and OCS icing issues in severe and prolonged ice storms. But these are minor, less frequent, and much easier to address.

      6. So, if we’re getting all technical, I have a question. I noticed that at Angle Lake and at Northgate there is a “3rd Rail”. The only thing I can think of is maybe it’s some sort of redundant ground/return path? Both these sections are elevated so maybe it has some structural significance?

        And, regarding OCS icing, is there a way to increase the resistance or play games with the voltage/frequency that would make the wire a heating element (perhaps run DC through the system when trains aren’t in operation???). I mean you could just draw way more current than what the trains draw but that might (probably would) cause other issues.

        And, even steam locos which had absurdly high point loading still used sand to increase traction in adverse weather conditions. My understanding is once you lose traction you can’t get “over the hump” to create the pressure that clears/dries the rail. So a train that stops has no way to get moving again.

        Speaking of sand, Metro buses used to have sand boxes. I guess they decided that because of global warming that was no longer needed.

      7. @Bernie,

        Usually for OCS the problem is icing, not snow, and the most common “solution” is to run continuous ops to prevent accumulation. For first-train-of the-day type situations they will usually run an extra train ahead of the first revenue train. Rarely they can run a service vehicle or LRV with an unpowered pantograph to clear the ice.

        But these icing situations are pretty rare. Portland sees them occasionally due to localized icing events in the gorge, but we don’t typically see them here. Different meteorology. However, never say never.

        Per sanding, the coefficient of friction once something starts sliding or spinning is much lower compared to when there is no slippage. Traditionally sanding was used for situations where the drive wheels were spinning, and steam locomotives were famous for this due to the cyclic nature of the pistons. Modern traction control systems tend to control slippage, therefore making sanding less necessary. Slippage is a bad thing, they tend to design it out.

        Per wet vs snowed rail, the difference just isn’t that great. If an LRV operates well in wet conditions it will operate almost exactly the same for snow events, particularly with frequent operations.

        Incidentally, worst case traction for LRV’s isn’t snow or ice, it is wet leaves. The pressures are so high that wet leaves tend to get turned into oil, or if you will, “grease”. And we all know that a greased rail can be a problem.

        Don’t know about the third rail you think you saw at Angle Lake. I’d have to see it. But it isn’t for traction power.

        Don’t know about the third rail you are talking about

      8. I wish I’d had a phone or camera to take a picture. It looks just like ST was planning to run a narrow gauge logging operation on the tracks at some future date. I think we can rule out that scenario. It’s clearly a 3rd rail of what appears to be the same size as the working rails. They are completely covered in rust. As I said, the one common denominator seems to be it’s on elevated sections. Maybe it’s structural. I will add that from my recollection, the ride quality on the elevated section from Rainier Beach to TIB seems to have gotten worse in the last few years. It seems it’s to the point that any further degradation will result in lower speed.

      9. @ Bernie,

        I’m not sure of the term, but railroads often add an extra rail inside of the running rails for additional safety in places where a derailment would have more serious consequences.

        For example, you see such things on railroads when crossing bridges. The idea is that, if a derailment occurs, the extra rail keeps the train cars in roughly the correct position on the bridge, instead of allowing something like a simple dragging car to progress to something much more severe.

        I’m not sure of what you saw, but it sounds like something like that. Maybe related to the adjacent platform or a switch. I’d have to see it.

    2. Yep. Metro has been pretty bad at this. I don’t mind the multiple days of ESN. That is just fine. But if you are going to operate on ESN, then at least perform on ESN.

      My wife had shopping plans with her sister, then dinner plans with her sister and father. Transit sort of worked, until after dinner.

      She took Light Rail home, then tried to transfer to a Metro bus. LR worked just fine. On schedule and no problem.

      But Metro? Not so much. The real-time bus arrival sign kept saying the next bus was in 2 minutes. This went on for 20 minutes. Still no bus. After 25 minutes she called me to come pick her up in the car.

      Of course then the bus came. But there is no excuse for such unreliable information. If you can’t publish reliable info then shut the system down. Because no info is better than erroneous info.

      1. Where was this and did she look at the date/time on the sign? On Rainier there’s a sign still giving out “real time” arrival info for 10:13AM back in 2019. I’m sure it’s accurate but only useful from a historical/hysterical perspective. I’m curious how many of these Dr Who signs are still sucking juice.

      2. @Bernie,

        Pardon me for asking, but did I understand you correctly? On Rainier there is a Metro “real time” arrival sign that is currently displaying data from 2019? 2+ years ago?

        Say it isn’t true. Please say it isn’t true.

        And if it is true, then just shut the system down. Shut it down now.

        Or did I totally misunderstand you?

      3. Nope, you got it right; Tuesday, Sept 17th 10:13AM 2019. I would have taken a picture but the reason I was there was to get back to work where I’d left my phone. And I didn’t think to take my actual digital camera with me. It’s the stop at Mt Baker light rail NB on Rainier. So there’s likely someone reading this that can confirm and perhaps document with a photo. Or maybe someone at SDOT (which credits themself with providing said historical data) read my comment and went out and took off a wire nut.

    3. I think this is really about the labor shortage. I could be wrong, but this snow seems comparable to the February 2021 snow, when Metro was fairly confident that it wouldn’t (and indeed didn’t) activate the ESN. However, even on easy mode, Metro can’t deliver all of its scheduled bus service (which is still technically in a reduced state). Like Mike Orr said, nothing you can really do about it (unless you can apply to be a bus operator), but I understand the frustration that Metro won’t just give it to us straight and say that the labor shortage means there is a lower tolerance for widespread weather disruptions. Especially if you’re wondering why your bus can’t run when there clearly isn’t emergency (think 2019) levels of snow on the ground.

      1. Thankfully the CDC has reduced quarantine recommendations for Covid. Hopefully Metro will follow them.

      2. There’s a big factor in the driver shortage this storm cycle and that’s that it’s the week between Xmas and New Years when lots and lots of people take the week off. Metro drivers are no different in wanting to visit family especially when they may not have been able to for a couple of years. And that’s OK, because demand is also way down because of snow AND people already had vacation scheduled. This year because of pent up demand and both holidays falling on the weekend even more people are off from work. Some take the time off because with so many others gone there’s nothing to do and with the weather that just “snowballs”.

        The 7 seems to be running VERY infrequently. But there’s nobody at the stop on Rainier when I drive by which has usually got half a dozen people at any given time (even when a 7 has just gone by). I also noticed on the one bus I’ve seen (a 7 on Monday) that it was running off wire. That might have been due to icing? Anyway, with the off wire capability that seems to no longer be an issue.

      3. Peter Zeihan on the American demographic change. We’rs entering a chronic labor shortage because the baby boom retirement has reached its halfway point, and covid accelerated it. The workforce won’t be large relative to the population again until 2050 when the Zoomers have children and they enter the workforce. He cites trucking as the most critical hole, and also senior management at most businesses, because GenX and Z are smaller and turned against blue-collar work as not paying enough.

      4. The trucking problem has an obvious solution, but it would take a few months to acquire the equipment to implement it. That solution is, obviously, COFC. Other than perishable items there should be NO trucks between Minneapolis and Spokane, North Platte and Pendleton/Sacramento/Barstow, Clovis and Barstow, and DFW/Houston and Colton, except for distributors from COFC ramps along the way. BNSF is double-tracked for every mile between Clovis and Barstow. UP is fully doubled from Colton east to El Paso and almost all the way to Sierra Blanca, fully doubled between Ogden and North Platte, and has two lines between Ogden and Sacramento. BNSF also has access to two lines between Sandpoint and Fargo and is doubled into Minneapolis and Spokane.

        These railroads could run trains every ten minutes over those sections of trackage given enough motive power, well cars for containers and skeleton cars for trailers.

        UP between Green River and Portland and Salt Lake City and Barstow would be the two stretches with bottlenecks.

        All that would cost a bundle for sure, as would the translift facilities at the ends of the corridors, but if you want to make a big dent in the driver problem, this is the obvious answer.

        There are a few corridors farther east that could become dedicated intermodal routes where trains would all run at the same speed so overtaking wouldn’t be a problem. Chicago-Clevelend-Pittsburg-Harrisburg on NS is all double track, as are both CSX east-west routes between Cleveland and Chicago/St. Louis. Both railroads have largely parallel secondary routes to which “freight-all-kinds” traffic could be diverted.

        CSX between central Florida and the Potomac Gateway has one-way operation as does UP out of Texas up to the Illinois gateways. Again, in most places there are secondary routes that could take FAK traffic off the I/M routes.

        The rails won’t make the necessary investment to take this traffic until it becomes clear that trucks are at the end of their rope. Maybe automated tractors for Interstate highway segments will also take some of the pressure off the longer western runs, but DO. NOT. THINK that they will work back east. There is just too much traffic darting and weaving around for full automation without dedicated lanes.

        But to spend billions on dedicated lanes when there are almost always parallel railroads which could take the traffic is a wasteful thing. And does anybody really believe that batteries are going to have the power/weight performance to pull a forty-ton eighteen-wheeler very far?

  6. I’ve seen KCM mechanics/support personnel installing snow chains at a number of locations around Seattle. However, once a bus is chained up, do operators occasionally check for chain tightness and/or damage, e.g. at route terminals or when something sounds off? I almost ran over a lost snow chain on I-90 between Seattle and Mercer Island yesterday. I also saw two different 60 buses dragging their snow chains, off the wheels, just hanging onto the bus’ undercarriage. Last year, I also saw “lost” snow chains at bus stops, either on pavement or in trash cans. Obviously, driving with chains on dry/clear pavement is not helpful for chain durability, but having operators chain-up and remove chains several times along a route is also not feasible. However, keeping a better eye on whether chains are still functional/properly attached might be helpful to a) avoid damage to the buses themselves and b) increase the safety of others on the road.

    1. Tomorrow, New Years Eve, transit is FREE!!! I’m going to take advantage of this to tour the new Link extensions. I also left my cell phone at work so will ride the 7 to pick it up. It was last summer the last time I used transit to visit Portlandia, what’s it take to get a pg 2 article published these days?

    2. I rode Link today end to end to middle (I’m a sucker for free ;-). Lots of elevators out of service and escalators out. After getting off the 255 at Montlake ALL the down escalators were closed. There were two ST employees manning the fenced off area and I noticed a sign that said Link Closed Between Capitol Hill and SODO. Bus Bridge Provided. So I took the elevator down to the dungeon and then north to Northlake. Got off there and hiked over the ped bridge. No notice of a closure or bus bridge signage I got on SB.

      Biggest take-away from my trip… ST way finding signage SUCKS. When I started my adventure from S Kirkland P&R the 255 was on Snow Route. There used to be signs at the stop that showed the snow route. Not any more. There was a “Shuttle” (that’s all it said) that took you down to Northup to catch the 255. On the bus I grabbed a leaflet that “explained” the snow route service. It claims the 255 on snow route connects DT Seattle with Kirkland TC and Totem Lake. Ah, no… the 255 does not go to DT Seattle. Printed years ago and irrelevant or just never edited and updated?

      Angle Lake had the strangest announcement ever. Trains departing every 10 minutes from the RIGHT platform. “Right” meaning correct or WTF? You’d think RT would be direction of travel maybe? No, RT was the same platform that was “Right” when we got off the train. And the fixed signage said both sides were NB (aka to Northlake). It’s not that big a deal since you can only get on one train going one direction but what an amateur show.

      1. Those “some employees” would be the ones recording the canned announcements, or writing said announcements for the disembodied voice. But yea, your at the end of the line and they direct you to the RT platform??? If they had red and green lights they could use Port and Starboard.

      2. Bus Bays are numbered by Metro. But again the way finding is lacking. I got off Link at Mt Baker. The transfer isn’t as bad as some make it out to be. But if you don’t know what bus you need your pretty much on your own. I knew I wanted a 7 on Rainier and you can see Rainier from the train. I guessed right by going north to a crosswalk. There’s a layover/bus bay complex east of Rainier but no map of where to catch what bus. Oh, and their real time arrival sign is stuck on Tuesday, September 17th, 10:13AM 2019. Can’t they just “unplug” it?

      3. Bernie, if you don’t mind me asking, is Kirkland to Rainier a common trip for you? Are you based in Kirkland or thereabouts? I’m trying to figure out whether a large or small percent of your trips are in urban areas, and whether the transit connections for those trips are harder than average. Kirkland to Rainier sounds like an unusual pattern to do frequently, so I’m wondering how common overall trips like that and longer ones to/from Rainier are.

      4. @MikeO
        I live about 2 miles from S Kirkland P&R. I work on Rainier right next to I-90. I’m a mile from the East Link station at 130th which will be super sweet. Right now transit is not an option. Judkins Park flyer stop gone. I’d have to transfer to a 554 on MI, no thanks. 255 doesn’t go DT. Transfer to Link at the UW and transfer to the 7 at the ID, double no thanks. Plus all of those options require driving or getting dropped off and it doesn’t look like by wife will ever return to working in an office.

        My commute pattern is odd. And after I have one year in I’m eligible to work 60/40 office/home. I think a more common pattern would be Judkins Park to Bellevue/Redmond. Before the flyer stop went poof there were a fair number of mostly service workers using it to commute to Bellevue. With all the fancy new apartments I expect there will be a lot of techies doing the “reverse commute”. Based on current traffic on I-90 I expect the East Link ridership to be higher Seattle to Bellevue than what was originally thought to be a commuter train from the burbs.

      5. The flyer stop loss is temporary for construction, in the sense that Link will replace it. I also see Rainier to Eastside as a large transit market with pent-up demand.

        One of my relatives lived in a condo on Rainier and worked in a Mercer Island law office in the late 2000s. He’d probably still be there if he hadn’t taken a job in a small town in eastern Washington. When his parents visited from out of state, he had them take Link to Othello. I told them about Tammi’s Bakery at Othello, and they tried it and liked it a lot.

      6. Printed years ago and irrelevant or just never edited and updated?

        I was looking at the cover of the “King County Metro Snow Guide” I picked up on the 255. Top on the cover it says WINTER 2021-22. Evidently proof reading isn’t something Metro does.

        It’s an extensive pamphlet. Folded up it reads like a book. Unfold it (something I only now did) one side of the 11×17 sheet is a map of the snow routes. I saw RR-B today on Bel-Red instead of NE 8th and indeed it clearly shows that on the map. For the 255 however it shows the stop on Pacific in front of Heath Sciences. I’m glad I didn’t look at it yesterday and just relied on my bird dog senses to find the stop.

        FYI, the real time signage at UW is working and accurate. The bizarre thing is the sign and the three mighty fine bus shelters are way north of where the old fashion Metro sign post is which is where the buses actually stop. Only reason I can think of is this allows for three buses to be at the stop at the same time and the middle one (assuming the 1st is an artic) will be somewhat in front of the south most shelter.

      7. I told them about Tammi’s Bakery at Othello

        That reminds me. On my joy ride yesterday I only had time to get off and look around Roosevelt and the U District stations (plus the dwell time at Angle Lake & a hike over the ped bridge at Northgate). I was happy to see the U District is still funky and apparently open for business (although not so much with the snow and it being New Years Eve). Likewise the area around Roosevelt has a lot within walking distance. It would be nice to see a recurring blog post (maybe once a month) that highlights a local business within the walkshed of various light rail stations.

      8. The flyer stop loss is temporary for construction
        There’s a saying in the Military that seems to apply here, Temporarily Permanent. There will not be a bus stop on I-90 ever again. Not sure that matters once East Link is operational. As a side note, the 7 currently has a scheduled I-90/Judkins Park stop under the freeway. Of course nobody is using it… sort of like South Bellevue P&R ;-)

      9. Bernie, your observations about Mt Baker transfer is pretty accurate and actually rather comical!

        Spending a teeny bit on good lighting, minor adjustments to widen the sidewalks and crosswalks on Forest and improved permanent and real-time signage would go a long way. I think bus arrival screens are great — but I must admit checking on bus arrivals using the OBA app while still on Link is my primary source for real-time info. That way I know how much time I have to get between the Link platform and the bus stop.

      10. Requiring everybody to use a smartphone to access next-arrival info is like requiring people to have a car to use the roads. And everyone is individually using redundant data to access the same thing, and the big three telecommunication companies are laughing all the way to the bank. And those telecommunication companies don’t provide any kind of transit for their money.

      11. @Bernie
        Thanks for the feedback. I was mostly interested in finding out how the new vertical conveyances are holding up, but I appreciate you sharing your other observations as well.

        We haven’t ventured out on the roads near us (north Edmonds area) since Xmas night (when the bulk of the snow fell) other than to walk around our own neighborhood. The streets near us other than the arterials haven’t been cleared and CT has been on reduced service all week if I’m not mistaken. Thankfully, between our vacation days and WFH days, neither my spouse nor myself has needed to make any trips into our respective Bellevue and Seattle offices. Today will be our first day since Xmas day to go anywhere outside our own neighborhood (trip to the grocery store and a belated New Year’s Day visit to see my spouse’s mom on Beacon Hill). We’ll be using our vehicle but still it’ll be interesting to see what the rest of the area is like (road conditions, traffic, buses in service, etc.) after being hunkered down at home for a week. Hopefully the rising temps and the ensuing rain will return things to normal in our region this coming week.

        Thanks again!

      12. how the new vertical conveyances are holding up
        There were some outages. As I said I only got off at a couple of stations. There seemed to be about as many elevators out of service as escalators. The one at the north Roosevelt entrance and one at Angle Lake plus one other I believe. All the escalators seemed to be working at U District and Roosevelt. At the elevated stations I was able to see 2-3 escalators from the train that were down for the count. I would add though a large percentage of the escalators I rode were making hideous grinding and scraping noises that seemed a cry for maintenance or repair. Could have just been the cold weather. Mall escalators have a comfy warm dry environment and they aren’t subject to the high cyclic loading inherent with a light rail station. Oh, on my return trip there were a couple of escalators down or at least out of service at Montlake. But it didn’t really impact anything. But geesh, three long escalators to get back up to the surface! This alone makes the transfer at Montlake Station worse than Mt Baker. And as long as I’m rantbling… while waiting for the 255 at Montlake I saw numerous people jay walking across Mtlk Blvd at night, in the dark, in the snow. Some of them with obvious disabilities. There is going to be a pedestrian fatality accident here. SDOT/WSDOT/UW(dot)edu needs to put up a centerline fence to eliminate this. They could put in a mid-block x-walk but from the behavior I observe these people would continue to play Frogger rather than wait for a walk sign. Or… just let Darwin get us to Net Zero.

        Underground tunnels would have been best. One argument I remember against them connecting with the hospital was safety. I did notice a prominent ST security presence. They were doing their job by doing nothing but being visible. I also saw an SUV with big letters SHERIFF parked in a lot south of Rainier Beach. On the return trip it was pulling out just as an ST vehicle was pulling in and I noticed that underneath SHERIFF it said Sound Transit (or should that be Sound “Trainsit”?). I’m guessing ST contracts service with KC Sheriff like smaller cities such as Woodinville do to have real cops on call if the Mall Cops have an issue.

      13. “One argument I remember against them connecting with the hospital was safety”

        It wasn’t general safety or ST’s decision. The UW refused to allow the Triangle parking tunnel to be extended to the station, saying it would increase UW’s security costs for mostly non-UW users.

        Instead UW did the opposite and shortened the tunnel I think. There used to be an entrance at the bottom of Rainier Vista, which was never used and was an eyesore. The ramp down to it was eliminated in the Rainier Vista renovation. On the east side of Montlake Blvd there are stairs leading down to a door; I don’t know if that connects to the tunnel or is just a room of some kind.

      14. wast west side of Montlake Blvd. South of the elevator, across the street from the Link station.

      15. The whole tunnel = unsafe mindset is just so naive and amounts to fear mongering. That’s because it’s easy to build glass commercial doors that can lock (like Westlake has) or gates that can be lowered when it’s necessary to secure a corridor. It could be open from 7 AM to 7 PM only, for example.

        As far as security costs go, why isn’t the entire UW campus behind a fence for security fence? Is a pedestrian from a light rail train somehow more “dangerous” than a pedestrian that arrives on another mode? This is blatant anti-transit bigotry rearing it’s ugly head (and seems traceable to racism as it’s origin).

      16. *was, not is. The relevant decisions were made over a decade ago and relevant decision makers have mostly retired. If Husky stadium station was in early design today, I think it would have been an easy lift to have a station entrance west of Montalke Blvd

  7. Metro is not the only transit service that is having problems in providing full service as the MTA in NYC suspended 3 subway routes today as they don’t have the crews available while on other routes they note that passengers may have to wait longer then normal as they are running as much service as possible with the crews available.

  8. Day FIVE coming up. Happy New year to metro passengers! I hope I don’t break a leg trying to use the bus”network” tomorrow.

    1. What exactly has been your problem with Metro coverage? And why on earth do people think it would be a good thing if Metro hemorrhaged money to run empty buses? This is not a normal week in the year; everyone, including bus drivers, is on vacation. It’s all good….

    2. Announcement on the radio today that Metro will return to normal service tomorrow, Sunday Jan 2nd, except where road conditions don’t allow. So, they can have only certain routes on ESN. And what’s up with all the buses using chains on dry pavement??? I’m sure WSDOT is less than thrilled with the road damage these mostly empty buses have been inflicting driving with chains on for absolutely no good reason. On the 7 yesterday one of the chains had broken (no surprise when you’re driving on pavement instead of snow) and was literally beating the crap out of the wheel well on the bus. The only saving grace was the raucous crowd on the bus largely drowned out the noise the chain was making.

      1. I read that as meaning that Metro would deactivate the ESN entirely and only run certain routes on their snow detours.

        As for chains, I imagine the problem is that it takes time to install and uninstall, and Metro already has enough trouble keeping to the schedule with bad road conditions. We went through downtown on 3rd yesterday, and they had a chain checkpoint at Benaroya with Metro maintenance people making sure chains were properly attached. The E line bus we were on had a partially detached chain and was fixed up in a couple minutes.

      2. And, was there any snow in the travel path on 3rd or were the chains just eating up the pavement? There’s no snow on either of the floating bridges and hasn’t been since Tuesday. But the buses are still hobbling along at 35mph beating up the equipment and making service worse. Also, since I had a view from Link yesterday of two bus bases it’s obvious most of the rolling stock hasn’t rolled since it snowed. There is no reason artics should be out on these snow routes with a few exceptions such as the 7 (which doesn’t need chains either).

        Bellevue School District has drop chains (push button activated) on all their buses. These are really efficient at getting you moving; stopping… not so much. They also have chain chains for all the buses which drivers are required to install when mandated. There’s required checkout on chain installation for all drivers at the beginning of each school year. Of course many times you drive part or most of the route on bare pavement just because of a small stretch that requires chains. But Metro doesn’t go off the main roads like school buses have to.

        I also wonder if snow socks could be a better solution for Metro?

      3. 3rd was just slushy, but there’s lots of other streets (even snow routes) that are iced over. I think it’s better to play it safe than let a bus carom around, or spend the time taking the chains on and off.

        On the ESN vs snow route issue, Metro just sent an email saying that some routes might have to stay suspended depending on how many buses are still out of service on Monday.

  9. A King County housing poll ($) some surprising results. Out of 501 residents — half in Seattle and half outside — the majority support allowing apartments and condos in single-family areas as a way to decelerate housing price rises. 55% support converting Seattle, and 51% support converting the suburbs. But they want the apartments for other people: 83% prefer a single-family house for themselves. 63% support densifying lots that are currently vacant or have lowrise buildings.

    “There isn’t a huge difference in support between renters and homeowners. There also aren’t significant differences in the level of support among the various age groups, along racial lines, or by degree of educational attainment.”

    47% support reducing parking minimums in new construction. That’s a minority but close to half, and it could flip to majority in a few years.

    This is reminicent of Seattle’s switch to city council districts. The intent of proponents was to maximize single-family no-upzone influence, and the district boundaries diluted the multifamily population as much as possible to make all districts except one single-family majority. But then the districts voted more multifamily-friendly and transit-friendly than expected, especially in North Seattle. So single-family residents aren’t necessarily anti-upzoning or anti-urban; many of them still support it.

    1. Many older cities on the other side of the country have two-unit home structures with each unit similar in side. They are often called “doubles” and allowed in many parts of town by right. Boston is even famous for walk-up “triples” in neighborhoods like Dorchester.

      Seattle’s new accessory unit regulations allow small apartments only but not doubles. As a result, we still won’t have the missing middle problem addressed. This shows the inability for those involved to understand the difference and why it’s important. Those of us who have lived in other cities find Seattle’s regulatory approach irrational.

      Because of this arguably arbitrary regulation, local survey questions may not be asking enough. In a good survey, an small sized-limited apartment added to a single family lot is one question, and similar-sized doubles on a single family lot would be another.

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