- Stephen Fesler https://www.flickr.com/photos/zheistand/5763940792/in/pool-seatrans/" title="Buses jammed on 3rd Ave">https://live.staticflickr.com/5144/5763940792_d463652a2b_z.jpg" width="640" height="408" alt="Buses jammed on 3rd Ave">also unhappy with how ST3 is turning out
- Transit update from West Seattle
- Rogoff says reduced fare enforcement partly responsible for collapsing revenues ($), ECB is skeptical
- And now the Supreme Court can make things even worse
- Plan for Kirkland’s Dan Ryan Tower ($) is coming together
- Venu Nimani is the new Dongho Chang, an unenviable position, but he says the right things
- East Link zoning blows
- Welcome to the new Community Transit Board
- Concrete strike drags on, affecting transit projects
- Pets now allowed on water taxis
- Fesler thinks big about the Rainier Valley
- Helmet law enforcement downgraded
- Lizz looks at the local record of traffic enforcement cameras
- A futuristic, electric foot ferry ($) for Bremerton
- CAHSR infighting continues
- What opened worldwide in 2021, and is coming in 2022
This is an open thread.
186 Replies to “News roundup: enforcement”
First link seems to be broken.
The link https://www.theurbanist.org/2022/01/31/dear-sound-transit-prioritize-rider-experience-take-a-mulligan-on-west-seattle-and-ballard-link/
I was surprised to read in TTP that Seattle would be opening a new streetcar line this year. On further reading, I found this gem: “Seattle’s Line T Hilltop extension, extending Tacoma’s streetcar service…”. LOL. Poor Tacoma, you’re just our suburb now I guess.
I’m really worried about the prospect of the lack of fares blowing a huge hole in the ST budget. Especially if the Supreme Court declares fare enforcement illegal. We already went from $96 million in fare collection in 2019 to $30million now and the prospect of losing all of it would be rough. Best case scenario would be going fare free and finding some funding that could supplement it. But it would need to be scalable to account for future lost revenue due to the East link opening soon and I just don’t see that happening. Another option could be turnstiles instead. I dont know. I’m pretty nervous about this in the next couple of years.
Fare enforcement obviously plays a huge role and I’d personally like to see greater enforcement even though that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. It does seems that it wouldn’t entirely solve the lost fares problem given a huge drop off in corporate ORCA cards but it would at least help. I see so many people that don’t tap their cards on the link or the busses. I get it from an individual level though. Why pay for it when you can just not pay and there are no consequences? We gotta do something though as I think this enforcement problem will only get worse
Gates. Put up gates as is done the world over. Everyone has to pay or swipe something to get through the gates. Then fare enforcement doesn’t have to ask anyone beyond the gate for a ticket. All they need to do is watch the gates and if someone tries to go around, or over, or cheat the system they can get them for that.
Yeah, I suspect that if the WA Supreme Court declares fare enforcement illegal, they’ll switch to turnstiles to still collect some fare revenue instead of shifting to a free at point of service model. It would still have a huge cost to ST to redesign all the stations around gates and entirely redesign the next Gen ORCA system.
I’m sympathetic to the free at point of service model as a way of better incentivizing transit use but I worry about the practical and political aspects of implementation of these taxes, especially in a way that would be scalable as the system is rapidly expanding in the next couple of years.
Re. Sound Transit redesigning all the stations around gates: I guess two factors are places to put the turnstiles, and access control. Sound Transit’s love affair with mezzanines is well-documented, so I think there will be ample space for turnstiles. But for access control, even the at-grade stations in Rainier Valley have fencing between the station exterior and the platforms, except for Rainier Beach. I think the way the stations are designed, it might be worthwhile considering platform screen doors that would keep people from trying to access the platforms via the train tracks.
“Put up gates as is done the world over.” Proof of payment systems are very common the world over. It would be very typical of provincial Seattle to decide that Proof of Payment systems are both immoral and illegal. Global best practice is to not use gates, unless the system is so crowded that fare performance is unpractical. Alon Levy suggests that in the western world, only 3 systems (NYC, London, Paris) merit a gated subway system. Link is most equivalent to a Stadtbahn system, which uses POP.
What happened to the Sound Transit project to make the paid fare area designated more prominently?
Also, the fare machines are inside where fare gates would go at some stations.
Finally, SF Muni Metro has gates and proof of payment. It’s possible to have both.
Yours is the only answer. Vancouver used to use the honor system, but finally had to resort to gates. The other problem in Link stations is that street people have open access to elevators and escalators which they can put out of commission in various ways. The new deep tunnel stations will be impossible for many people to use if all escalators in a given direction break down, because a lot of people can’t manage walking that many stairs up.
“Why pay for it when you can just not pay and there are no consequences?”
I can think of a few answers:
1) Companies who buy transit passes in bulk for their employees.
2) People who don’t read Seattle Transit Blog and don’t know that there is no fare enforcement.
3) People who have the money and believe that stealing is wrong, and you shouldn’t do it, even if you know you won’t get caught.
I think, in practice, the above three groups collectively cover the vast majority of riders, and the loss of fare revenue from lack of enforcement is less than many people think.
For sure. I think the non-payment rate cited in the Seattle Times was 3% in 2019 to 10-30% now, which is a huge error bar. The difference between 10 and 30% non-payment is huge, but still that means at worst 70% are still paying. My biggest worry is if they have to entirely stop fare enforcement due to the WA supreme court case, and the non-payment rate goes up even more, especially if people see others not paying and it becomes more acceptable culturally.
A higher non payment rate doesn’t necessarily even mean more people riding without paying. It could also mean fewer paid trips, but the same number of unpaid trips. Considering that lots of paid trips have been replaced by work from home, this is not at l hard to imagine.
Exactly. It is also not clear how many riders who cheat would simply not use the system, if they were forced to pay full price.
I was thinking the other way. The people who worked office jobs in 2019 and switches to work from home were probably not in the 3% that wasn’t paying, many of them using Orca passes that their employer paid for. Remove these people from the transit system, the same number of non payers makes up a greater percentage.
“I was thinking the other way. The people who worked office jobs in 2019 and switches to work from home were probably not in the 3% that wasn’t paying, many of them using Orca passes that their employer paid for. Remove these people from the transit system, the same number of non payers makes up a greater percentage.”
I am not quite sure your math works asdf2, at least not a rise in non-paying riders from 3% to 30%, but the ultimate point is if Link has lost the fare paying peak commuter then the other riders better start paying, because they are the only ones using the system or who care about the levels of service and frequency.
Total operational costs don’t go down because riders stop paying, or peak commuters stop riding, unless you begin to cut frequency. If 2020 Link frequency taught anything it is frequency on Link will end up matching ridership and farebox recovery. There is no economic difference between running a train empty and running a train with 600 non-paying riders.
Lack of fare would be a headwind, but it wouldn’t ‘blow a hole’ in ST’s budget. ST collects nearly $2B a year in taxes. Missing out of tens of millions of fare revenue (mostly on depressed ridership, not fare evasion) is almost a rounding error in the context of the overall finance plan.
ECB’s statement that “Sound Transit relies far more heavily than most transit agencies on revenue from fares” is simply false. ST may have a higher farebox recovery target than some of its peers, but ST also has much, much more dedicated tax revenue than its peers given the scope of its capital plan and 100% funding of long term SOGR through existing transit taxes.
ST has a target of 40% of operating costs being covered by fares, and they even hit it in 2017 and were close in other years before the pandemic threw everything out of whack. I think 40% of operating costs is a pretty significant hole. And ST brings in a lot through taxes, but most of that is going to capital costs and not operational costs. I’m less concerned about the current situation in the pandemic because there should be some bounce back in ridership in the coming years, but the WA Supreme Court case worries me more. I can unfortunately see ST deciding to cut back on service and increasing headways if the Supreme Court decides that fare enforcement is unconstitutional to try and save some on operational costs, which would be really bad imo.
One of the big benefits of the fares is that they will continue to scale with expanded ridership from the East Link and Lynwood extensions. There could definitely be an additional tax to better cover fares (and I’d definitely vote for it), but I think there would be little political will to be constantly voting on expanding additional taxes to cover the lost fare revenue especially as ridership and operational costs continue to grow with the expansion of the link
People who chronically evade fares are also more likely to qualify for the Reduced fare, which is $1 on both MT and ST. Rogoff is sadly mistaken if he believes this demographic of riders is cratering the ST budget. Plain and simple: ridership is down – especially the commuter crowd.
The ones that I see not tap are on Sounder. I’m guessing those are mostly company passes and people don’t know you’re supposed to tap those anyway, even though they are a pass?
I have also noticed a steep decline in the number of people who tap on and off across the system. While I realize I am a walking piece of anecdata, I’ve ridden enough over the last decade to think it is real. I doubt those who would rather not pay have not noticed what I have.
If you can’t ask for PoP, you have to put up turnstiles. I don’t think this is controversial for 90% of folks. The difference between 3% nonpayment and 30% is a chasm that we need to bridge.
I don’t care if ST is a terrible organization. I don’t care if Rogoff is a bad person. These issue have nothing to do with paying for transit. Let’s pay for it and move on to more important things. Like not boring a tunnel a mile below downtown.
That this even an needing debate is a colossal unforced error.
Operations and maintenance is only a third of ST’s expenses. In a worst-case scenario it could defer one expansion project and have enough money for operations. It’s already delaying more expansion projects than that, and it’s completely uncertain what the economy will be in the future, when most workers will return to offices, how high a ratio that will be, etc. So diverting some capital money to operations would seem small or maybe even be unnoticeable amid all the background volatility.
Mark Dublin, former transit operator for Metro, long time Puget Sound transit advocate and writer of many comments in this journal, passed away after a long illness Monday this week. His family asked me to let the transit community know – thus this entry.
He was a colleague and close friend and will be missed – his wit and knowledge written here was something I always looked forward to reading.
May his ORCA RFP get him swiftly to his next destination.
Thank you for passing along the info. I had wondered if perhaps Mark’s absence from the STB commentary was due to Covid or other health issues. Yes, may he RIP.
It was always a joy to read Mark’s posts. May he rest in peace.
Thank you Jeff.
I met Mark Dublin in 1991. He drove the Bredas and had served on an operator committee about the DSTT; ;he loved the cooperation between the union, engineers, and management. He wrote a paper on the power of the DSTT and the dual modes. The Bredas turned out to heavy, noisy lemons, but they were what we had. Some of us had dreams to restructure around the DSTT and use the Breda more intensively with shorter more frequent routes and even some through routes. With a bit of overhead, some electric trolleybus routes could have used the DSTT. There were plans for routes 43 and 70 in 1996 but the budget was taken away. Earlier, there were plans for Route 7 to be in the DSTT via a slip ramp from South Dearborn Street; that did not advance.
Mark loved art, politics, transit, and espresso. He mourned the loss of his wife and Locks apartment.
Do you happen to remember which Breda routes/shifts on which Mark was an operator? I’m just wondering if he was ever my “captain” behind the wheel when I was a daily Metro rider. Thanks.
Rest well, Mark. Thank you for your contribution and insight in this community.
It is sad news. His insight was usually refreshing and often humorous when needed!
I appreciate how he took on the illogical transit enforcement system these past few years — like the tap on/ tap off vagueness that Orca had with identical single beeps (now double beeps to tap off) and fines that came as its result.
We’ve lost a very special transit advocate.
Thank you for posting this. Rest In Peace Mark and my best wishes to his family. The eloquent symbolism of his posts were lost on some here but it made this web site much more interesting.
R.I.P. Mark. Always appreciated his insights into transit and his sense of humor.
Thanks for letting us know. Mark was a treasure, and while I admit I found some of his comments somewhat mind-bending to read, I always appreciated his contributions. He will be missed.
When Mark wrote about his experiences as a driver, he was uniquely and extraordinarily informative. He is missed.
Rest In Peace Mark. Miss my fellow oldster’s comments.
Thank you for letting us know, Jeff. Mark’s contributions to improving the transit world started decades before this blog.
If you asked me if we would ever see his likes again, I would say no.
The buses summon him home.
Oddly, Mark popped into my head randomly yesterday, for no reason I can think of. He had a very creative mind and an following his thought patterns was always entertaining and often insightful. I enjoyed him as a co-worker when I was a bus driver, and running into him periodically after that.
I will miss his comments here. I wish I got to know him personally. Sorry for your loss.
Thanks for passing this along. I didn’t know Mark except through his writings here, but he was always insightful and a true advocate for transit. He definitely will be missed.
Thank you, Jeff. I will miss his comments as well. He didn’t just have good things to say, but a unique way of describing them.
I will miss Mark. I only knew him through his comments here, but he was a strong advocate for a strong transit system like in his Chicago youth, and strong unions that could build it and give Americans a living wage. While he was here he apparently did short-term jobs for several transit organizations. He went to Sweden to help build a Gothenburg light rail line and brought back his experience with their transit.
He always wrote with lots of imagery and with allusions to current events. The imagery was similar to Russian writers; e.g., Dostoyevsky, Pasternak, Ayn Rand. Ayn he called by her birth name, Alisa Zinovyena, and her proto-libertarian philosophy was perhaps the opposite of his. Mark’s imagery and allusions were often hard to understand: he’s making a transit point, but what is it? It was easier to understand in his earlier posts.
Mark lived in Ballard for many years and loved it, but then his rent increased in the Amazon boom and he was displaced to Olympia. I asked why he couldn’t afford Kent or Auburn but never got an answer. Apparently he was on a low fixed income and got some kind of deal on his Olympia apartment. He said it was across the street from the city center or Capitol or such, so it was like a pre-WWII walkable town that we wish Pugetopolis had more of. He didn’t intend to come to Seattle or the Eastside much but then he started getting more jobs there, so he had to commute here a few times a week. The Olympia-Lakewood bus kept expanding and contracting in those days so it didn’t work for him. His preferred commute was driving on back roads to Tacoma Dome, stoppiing in Freighthouse Square, and then taking the 574 to SeaTac and Link to Seattle. Others would have taken the 594 from Lakewood to Seattle but he didn’t like that. He liked to stop at Freighthouse Square for coffee and restrooms and maybe an ethnic lunch.
He got fare-dinged on Link when he either forgot to tap or it didn’t register a tapin right, and he got really angry about that, like Erica Barnett did when it happened to her. He argued that if you have a full-fare pass, you shouldn’t get a $124 ticket for forgetting the tapping ritual, especially when it sometimes registered tapins as tapouts and the beep was identical (now it’s tapin one beep, tapout two beeps, after long advocacy by Mark and others), and when it says nowhere on the reader or card that you’d better tap or you’ll get a fine.
Since he was in Olympia, he advocated for transit in the legislature.
I did meet him once in person when he came to a Link meetup in Seattle. That’s when I found out he did MMA or something like that. Rogoff was there too, in his early days, and I remember how much Rogoff swore like an East Coaster.
The most interesting exchange I had with him is when he said Dublin was a Norse name. I said no, the Vikings founded Dublin but the name is Irish. Dubh-linn is Gaelic for black-pool or dark-pond, like Blackpool, England. Rutheford’s novel suggests Dublin was named after an existing pond.
RIP Mark, and thanks for participating in STB.
I’m going to miss his frequent comments. He was very pro transit and knowledgeable
Thank you for the information, sad as it is to hear. RIP Mark. You had a truly unique voice and you will be missed.
Thank you so much, Jeff. Mark’s comments were always pithy and thought-provoking; I had wondered if he had stepped away from this site as I and others have done recently. Although their service didn’t overlap (or even really come close), as the grandson of a Seattle Transit driver/Metro superintendent I found Mark’s tales of his time behind the wheel educational and often amusing – and many times found myself wishing I could ask my grandfather about something Mark had commented on or noted.
You will be missed deeply here, Mark – may your journey onward be even more interesting than the Crimean trolleybuses you had hoped to journey on one day!
I read Erica’s response to Rogoff’s comments to the Board and honestly I don’t think she understood the point Rogoff was trying to make, or the concept of farebox recovery. Farebox recovery is not an equity issue. It is an issue about having the necessary funds to operate light rail, and to have decent frequencies for all riders, not an issue about “equity”.
First ECB notes ST’s 40% farebox recovery rate may be, shall we say, optimistic. No shit, Sherlock, considering Metro’s is 20%. But she never asks why ST chose a 40% farebox recovery rate. Yes I suppose new train cars might be less expensive to maintain (in the short term) and replace if future replacement reserves are scrimped on, and the peak commuter pays a higher fare overall and a higher fare paying percentage, but the reason ST chose a 40% recovery rate — and wildly inflated future ridership estimates — was to lower general tax increases in order to sell ST 2 and 3.
Second ECB questions Rogoff’s claims that non-paying riders are the source of the steep decline in farebox recovery, and questions whether Covid and WFH are the cause. The problem is there is no question farebox recovery is down big time, but one thing about non-paying riders is that can be remedied. If farebox recovery is down this steeply because the peak commuter is gone for good then farebox recovery is never coming back, so stop building more lines and get ready for some long frequencies on Link. ECB may be more correct on this one than she understands, but if you are a transit advocate this is the scariest scenario.
Third ECB raises the equity card. But this totally misunderstands Rogoff’s analogy about fans at a Mariners game shelling out $80 for a ticket but then refusing to pay a fare on Link. This isn’t about low-income riders because there are programs to subsidize or eliminate their fares. Rogoff was making the point that folks who can easily pay the fare no longer are, because no one else is, so why should they if there is no fare enforcement.
Fourth, this issue has nothing to do with “fare enforcers” vs. fare “ambassadors”, except riders don’t have to give their personal information to fare ambassadors, so having a warning system is pointless because you can’t warn anyone if you can’t determine who they are. The issue is ST built a system that has no effective way to enforce fares, especially for those who can pay a fare. This system was always designed for the peak commuter using an employer subsidized Orca card who has a 100% fare paying history. Those folks are gone.
Finally ECB brings up what I consider a silly progressive idea: free fares, which would eliminate farebox recovery but not the operational costs farebox recovery is supposed to cover, a 40% hole, a common mistake among well-meaning progressives who generally misunderstand money. We all know that no matter what, ST will never realize the crazy pre-pandemic ridership estimates it used to sell the levies, that farebox recovery equals riders who pay a fare times fare rates, and it is hardly surprising non-paying riders have increased in percentage with the loss of the peak commuter and loss of enforcement, but how do you plug a 40% hole in operations? ECB forgets this part of eliminating fares.
One way is to pass a ST wide operations levy so folks can ride free, including corporate employees, around 95% of whom can afford a fare. S. King Co., SnoCo and Pierce Co. will vote a big no, Seattle will vote a big yes, and as usual the vote will come down to East King Co. What are the odds eastside peak commuters who no longer ride transit and have one underused light rail line running along 112th and no traffic congestion will vote for ANOTHER levy (on top of ST 2 and 3) after the King Co. parks levy, County library levy, the recent school board levies (that alone amount to $4000/year for me), and increased state taxes under McCleary. Oh, and ST 4 if WSBLE is ever going to get buil.
Convince eastsiders who are so tired of transit and transit taxes to approve a levy to eliminate fares on Link and I will believe. But start with the levy before blowing a 40% hole in operations (actually closer to 25% which is about the maximum farebox recovery ST can obtain post pandemic with actual ridership and little to no fare enforcement) before eliminating fares, although it looks like we are well on the way to eliminating fares simply by eliminating fare enforcement.
Or raise fares. Ordinarily that would discourage some riders, but not if you don’t have to pay a fare.
Or reduce operation costs. This begins with not building more rail. East Link, Federal Way and Lynnwood Link are going to have actual ridership numbers way below estimates, because the only real ridership is Northgate to downtown, and that is open and way down. And of course the most common tactic: skimp on reserving for train car replacement down the road.
And most naturally reduce frequencies, which hurts everyone, but most of all those who must ride transit, and those who already qualify for subsidized fares, but because now everyone qualifies for a subsidized fare — zero — either through just not paying or eliminating fares, the low-income rider gets worse frequency, and the other riders use their cars because frequencies are so long on Link (plus the transfer from a feeder bus).
This is the kind of “progressivism” that drives me nuts. Eliminate fares by eliminating enforcement or just eliminating fares to benefit poor riders of color who already qualify for subsidized fares so businesses and higher income riders can ride for free, without any plan or hope of passing an operations levy ST district wide to make up that 40% operations shortfall so now the only riders on Link will be poor riders with a subsidized fare because frequencies and service will be so bad those who can afford to drive or take Uber will skip Link.
The real problem right now is “equity” and lack of fare enforcement on Link, which has no structural enforcement like turnstiles, has created a mindset among all Link riders that you don’t have to pay a fare, even though you can afford one. Whom do you really think these hurts? Me? I think at this point ST is going to have to visit structural fare enforcement like turnstiles at light rail stations, although that will be difficult on the surface stations and stops, and even then if the peak commuter does not return Link is screwed, and even if they do ST’s inflated ridership estimates mean farebox recovery might be 25%.
Over and over and over I have warned that the shortfall in operational funding — and farebox recovery — was the real problem, and that was before Covid and WFH and the crazy idea to implement a no fare enforcement policy because that will somehow benefit the poor who qualify for subsidized fares, but will leave a system without the operational funds to provide any kind of frequency, or any kind of rail expansion.
If I were advising the Board, Rogoff, ST, or transit advocates in general my advice would be to start thinking hard about how you convince the swing eastside voter to vote yes on an operations levy for Link to either: 1. eliminate fares (zero chance); or 2. plug the hole in farebox recovery because ST lied about ridership and a bunch of freeloaders are riding Link for free when these same Eastsiders are not riding Link or transit right now and may never return (odds 10%).
It is plausible that ST would have a higher farebox recovery rate because High Capacity routes should have more favorable operating metrics, whereas KCM’s average is deflated by included a number of low ridership coverage routes. ST Express is at a disadvantage because express routes that don’t support bidirectional ridership also have poor metrics, but Link itself should absolutely have a higher farebox recovery than any of the regional bus systems.
Exactly. MAX ran about 35% recovery before the pandemic, even with a cost per hour per car about 50% higher than that of buses. Tri-Met’s buses were below 20%.
This is true all over the world where rail lines are well-placed and have around-the-clock patronage. In part because of their longer station spacing and separation from traffic and in part because of their larger interior volume, trains move the average passenger farther per hour than do buses. Thus they attract higher usage in any given corridor with enough patronage to warrant frequent service. (That’s why “well-placed” is important.)
Metro’s recovery rate is 20%, and includes a huge number of high cost per rider suburban routes. The whole point of having Link is to have much lower operating costs than is possible with buses.
Tunnel operation Costs currently limited to a single line will be shared, which should bring the price per rider down nicely.
Therefore, I see no reason why 40% for Link is outlandish. Washington Metro is 60%+ for the actual metro part, and they have expensive stuff to maintain.
Is that 20% gross fare recovery or net fare recovery for Metro?
FYI that another “link” light rail system — Metrolink in St Louis — recently approved the installation of fare gates as well as other things ($52M total) to its porous light rail platforms: https://www.ksdk.com/amp/article/news/local/business-journal/bi-state-development-52-million-dollar-plan-turnstiles-security-metrolink-st-louis/63-eb64c95b-d4d8-4c48-bd52-11f07868d447
Here are some numbers in terms of fare recovery: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farebox_recovery_ratio. You can sort by ratio. We aren’t especially high compared to our peers. Many have compared our system to BART — they have a much higher recovery ratio. Translink (our nearest neighbor) also has a mix of trains and buses, and yet has a significantly higher ratio. Boston is a bit higher. In both of those cases the agency runs all the buses (not the train and a select few buses). Given the lack of coverage routes, what this tells me is that we just don’t have that many riders per hour of train service. Looking at the numbers (again, using Wikipedia) this turns out be true. SkyTrain gets about 10,000 riders per mile. The MTBA subway, about 13,000. The Calgary light rail system (CTrain) gets about 8,400 per mile, while the MTBA light rail system gets 6,200. We get 3,800. This number probably should go up with Northgate Link (and then back down with ST3).
BART ridership per mile is not especially good. It is only a bit better than us (4,000 or so). I’m not sure why their fare recover is so high. Maybe they charge more for their bread-and-butter trip (across the bay) which makes up so much of their ridership. They also benefit from the converging trains, allowing the least productive lines (to the suburbs) to run infrequently, while maximizing ridership in the core. We will have some of that pretty soon as well (with the two trains converging through downtown to Northgate).
Ridership numbers (Wiki classifies them by type):
MBTA, if you’re referring to Boston’s T.
(An edit function would come in handy, eh? :) )
Setting that aside, I’m puzzled by BART’S higher fare recovery as well. Perhaps the reason is as you suggest, i.e., higher fares and lower operating costs on their bread and butter runs. Maybe Al S. has some thoughts?
Fares on BART are steeply distance-based. They compete with A/C for cross-bay trips and actually charge less for a single ride to downtown SF from central Oakland. For a rider who needs to transfer to or from a local A/C bus in Oakland, the whole trip is about a wash and of course quicker on BART.
It’s almost three times as much for Berryessa to Embarcadero. For in-San Francisco trips they match the Muni fare; I believe they get a subsidy from San Francisco to do that.
The reason that they do so well with such a low number of passengers per mile is that the stretch between downtown Oakland and Balboa Park is jammed with people. Even though each person pays relatively little, the trains are full pretty much all the time.
BART lines don’t operate at a high frequency with most at 15 minutes at peak hours. The combined transbay spine is frequent but even that backs off to 10 minutes after 7 pm as two lines quit running. Downtown Oakland to San Francisco would fall to 20 minutes after about 7 pm. That’s much lower frequency than Link offered before the pandemic (and that service is supposed to have more frequency per ST3 promises). If Link adopted the BART frequencies, the fare recovery would be notably higher.
BART also has cross platform timed transfers at MacArthur and Oakland City Center stations, designed into the original system. This compensates for the early shutdown of two lines and makes waiting less of a deterrent at non-peak times.
BART does have well-paid station agents which is a cost the ST doesn’t have. Instead, ST has fare ambassadors and more security staff. It would be interesting to see how that affects labor costs.
Finally, many segments operate at 79 mph. It’s possible to travel pretty far in an hour. It reduces the number of active trains needed to serve a line. The distance-based fares mean that a 30 minute trip on BART can command a much higher fare than ST gets. Riding Link for 30 minutes may cost a rider $3.50 but BART can get up to $6.00 for a 30-minute ride.
So on balance BART is structured to get hugger fare recovery on its cost. I’m not a cost accountant, but it seems that the less frequent BART trains help lots as does the higher speeds that enable higher fares and thus higher fares per hour of train operation.
Tom, do you really think the Eastside would miss the Issaquah to S. Kirkland line? I doubt the Eastside would miss East Link. The $4.5 billion would still stay in the subarea, probably to fill operational costs in East King Co.
All your ranting neglects one reality: subarea equity. A subarea gets to spend ST revenue raised in that area, and project costs must be afforded by that subarea.
I would welcome a revisit of ST 3 projects in East King Co. and can live with the ST 3 taxes, even until 2044, although the Issaquah to S. Kirkland line shows we don’t even know where to spend our excess ST 2 revenue. But don’t worry: we will be fine. If there is one thing eastsiders are not focused on it is transit although we are awash with transit revenue. Spend your energy figuring out a good place for us to spend that transit revenue.
Ah, but you misremember your prediction that essentially nobody will be riding East Link when it opens. So the “fare recovery” for East Link will be close to zero. Yet East Link will provide one leg of the main line service to Lynnwood which will be patronized, so it will have to be operated.
This will provide a handy place to sink-hole Eastside tax revenues. Moving empty trains from Judkins Park to Overlake and, soon, downtown Redmond every ten minutes should gobble up a nice share of them.
A prudent steward of the public purse would be figuring out how to convince his neighbors to use the thing rather than fulminating against it because some uppity folks from Seattle ride it.
ST doesn’t need to do a thing to plug its farebox revenues gap. It has extra taxes approved until it finishes building the ST3 project list. If fare revenues go down some of the money intended for capital projects will have to be diverted to operations. That means the expected window for the completion of the last project in the list — Issaquah-South Kirkland — will stretch ever farther into the future.
Too bad, so sad, Eastsiders.
Today is Rosa Parks birthday, and to celebrate TriMet is not charging a fare. Also carried over to Portland Streetcar and CTran in Clark County.
I think the State Supreme Court is going to hand ST and ORCA a significant blow in their ruling due to poor planning on their part. Specifically I believe if nothing else they will rule the use of RFID readers to check the “tap” status of a card to be unwarranted and unconstitutional. While ST has the right to inspect a card, the electronic verification method was a power never explicitly granted, and even if it is granted is likely an overreach under the constitution.
Note that this issue extends to Rapidride stations/systems as well. Even if Link stations are turnstiled, that doesn’t solve the on street issue. Will Rapidride busses return to front loading only? It is a question that would need to be answered.
I find it hard to believe that “you can see the card, but not read the card” will fly. “Inspecting” an orca card necessarily involves scanning it. The signal is being *emitted*, so there is no “intrusion” into the card per se, and that signal is just photons, same as if it were a paper ticket, same as if the police were checking your driver’s license and insurance. Doesn’t make sense to me.
Inspection usually is limited to physical human senses. You can touch the card and look at the card. Use of radio frequencies to determine the card’s nature is another thing entirely. Remember the old Stingray cell phone debacle? Those required warrants. ORCA cards are likely no different under the law.
So, if I have a Good-2-Go pass in my car, and I’m driving next to, but not in the I-405 Express Toll lanes, and it picks up my signal, but then discards it because I don’t trigger the threshold for actually occupying the lanes,…
Isn’t that an intrusion by the agency into my privacy?
Under that analysis, what sort of electronic payments system could pass muster?
As a practical matter wouldn’t such a ruling require all transit systems to go back to paper tickets if they wanted to keep collecting fares? That would be a terrible outcome from a public policy standpoint.
Electronic payment systems are fine. Good 2 Go, ORCA, and the like themselves are not illegal. The tap on/off readers are not illegal. It is the inspection by fare enforcement officers that is the issue. That is what can quite possibly constitute a warrantless search. There would be no requirement for paper tickets to keep collecting fares. This is about fare inspection/evasion, not point of use.
A Joy: You must also have a problem when the cashier at the store when they scan your driver’s license when there is alcohol or tobacco being purchased.
J. Reddoch, I have never had a cashier scan my license when making an alcohol purchase. I doubt the scanners of private corporations have the ability to use what is likely proprietary DoL code. The very ability to access it would be a pretty egregious violation of state security. They just manually type in my date of birth and hand my ID back to me.
A Joy: Scanning licenses for age-restricted products seems increasingly common. I bought some beer at a Seattle Bartell’s last week and the cashier didn’t even care to look at the front of my license, she just scanned the barcode on the back.
Cashier here. My scanner will tell me from your barcode if your license is valid (Not expired) and that your birthrate is correct for the product being purchased. I’m not sure what else is in it but it works for all states and some provinces. I have both one that is integrated with my POS system and separate standalone scanner. Furthermore I’ll ask you to remove your card so I can scan it. I do not take photos or virtual ID’s and am trained to deny the sale if the scan is refused.
I am not a (state) constitutional scholar, so I won’t try very hard to debate legal issues around this bizarre case. Besides, nothing we say here is likely to end up in an amicus curiae. I’m pretty confident ST has done its homework in preparation for the state supreme court hearing, and will do its best to help the justices understand the purposes of off-board payment. They make freshman mistakes at station design, payment systems, etc, but they are masters at lawyering up. Moreover, a chunk of this Court are the same justices who struck down multiple Eyman initiatives, so they have historically had ST’s back.
That said, I very much fear diminished access to RapidRide and SWIFT if they have to become pay-as-you-enter. I have no idea what plans ST has for Link, but if it becomes pay-as-you-enter-the-station, I fear diminished access to Link as well. RapidRide and SWIFT would be somewhat slowed down, but ride denial (or allowance, but with the transit police summoned) would become more of an issue. I expect ridership would drop, and with it, frequency.
For Link, the trains themselves would be as fast as they are now. But queues to check fares at the station entrances might cause people to miss trains. Station renovation to add turnstiles (where there is even room to do so, with ADA width, but possibly excluding oversized mobility aids) would be a PITA. It would almost certainly involve re-routing passengers sometimes to a different entrance more than a football field’s length away.
Riders experiencing homelessness who aren’t lucky enough to get one of the free passes would likely disappear from the trains altogether.
The plaintiff may see this case as an access and unequal treatment issue. I perceive the ACLU thinking about other issues (e.g. privacy, which has caused them to get in the way of transit improvements before, like when they wanted to protect the privacy of people driving private vehicles in bus lanes, blocking intersections, and blocking emergency vehicle access). I still say Thank God for the ACLU, but I think they are missing the bus on this one. The transit community may also be missing the bus if we aren’t hearing another wake-up call to get a transit advocate onto their local board.
There is another way this could go down. Asking for proof of payment is fundamentally no different than how people enter any place that requires payment. It is like asking for a ticket as you enter a movie theater, concert, play or club. You can’t walk by the usher and tell they can’t search you. Likewise, you can’t get on a bus without somehow paying the fare. But in all those cases, you are simply kicked out. They don’t search you, fine you, ask for your identity, and look for outstanding warrants. They just kick you out.
This, to me, is one way this could work out. You can’t arrest people for avoiding fares, but you can kick them out of the property. Of course many will just get back on. It isn’t clear to me how many people would be willing to suffer the inconvenience and humiliation, especially if the guards decided to escort you out of the station. There is no reason they couldn’t stand there, next to the ORCA readers, and act the same way that officials do next to turnstiles. As “ambassadors”, they could show you how to pay, and if you refused, simply hang out for a while to see if you planned on making a return trip, or assume the delay is enough of a deterrent. If they saw you trying to make a quick return without paying, I think they would be within their right to arrest you, as there is no fundamental difference between hopping the gate, and failing to pay as you enter.
Or you wind up having to go back to a paper ticket if some sort for ORCA2.
If honor system paid fares are not legal, where does that leave parking meters? The only difference between a parking meter and a paid fare area seems to me to be that it involves a person legally allowed to occupy a space rather than a vehicle.
The only difference between a parking meter and a paid fare area seems to me to be that it involves a person legally allowed to occupy a space rather than a vehicle.
That is a very big difference. You aren’t searching the car. Even if a car is towed, I don’t believe you can go through the car without a warrant.
In fact the sixth circuit recently held that marking a car tire with chalk for parking enforcement purposes was a violation of the fourth amendment. At this time this ruling only applies to the sixth circuit which is relatively small.
Most cities that enforce parking are trying to automate systems (credit card and meter readers). For example Mercer Island spent $100,000 on three license plate readers which allow police to run license plates immediately without a stop, which has been held constitutional, but will also be used to enforce a town center parking management plan because in the past the development code allowed inadequate onsite parking in the taller mixed use buildings (one stall per unit), and rather than those folks shifting to transit as claimed by the developers they park their second car for free on town center streets displacing retail parking. Or the buildings have begun to charge for tenant parking.
It highlights how poor development policies, and untested theories about residents giving up cars and switching to transit, end up costing cities a lot of money and hurting town center retail (a foundation of urbanism) when those theories turn out to be wrong.
So far every attempt to force residents to give up cars and switch to transit has been some kind of coercion like inflating parking costs, exacerbating traffic congestion, car fees, and so on. But the advantages of a car over transit — that has never had to compete for the driver based on a superior experience — are so great folks still drive.
The pandemic, WFH, and lack of traffic congestion have eliminated about the only advantages transit has, except cost, and people have shown that they treat the cost of a car as a necessity.
In the future transit is going to have to figure out a way to compete for at least peak commuters based on a superior experience, without traffic congestion, and probably without having to commute to work in an urban core (considering unemployment is back to 2019 levels and the peak office commuter still has not returned).
“Or you wind up having to go back to a paper ticket if some sort for ORCA2.”
Before ORCA there were cardboard or plastic monthly passes. We could go back to that. The day Link tickets are essentially the same; an inspector has to visually inspect them.
The district and appeals courts ruled against the person, so I don’t know why you think the Supreme Court is so likely to overturn it. It may be a 50/50 chance, but if one side is more likely, it’s probably the one that two courts have upheld.
ST’s original reason for not installing turnstyles was that they cost more than the 3% loss they’re supposed to prevent. But that assumed fare inspectors issuing tickets. If fare inspectors are banned and nonpayment goes way up, that might be enough to get ST to change its mind.
It may be physically difficult to install turnstyles though. The surface stations are pretty open, and ST would be even more unhappy with people going down to the track to get around the turnstyles and getting hit by a train. The DSTT mezzanines were supposedly designed for buying tickets at that level, but where would you put a turnstyle so it’s in front of all the escalators and elevators? ST still hasn’t figured that out with ORCA readers, so it’s sometimes behind you or on the side when you use an elevator on a completely different side from the escalator. SeaTac has a dual-purpose mezzanine with some people going to trains and others walking from the airport to the sidewalk or a bus. Northgate may be that way too with people going from the surface to the bridge.
The argument about contactless scanners being illegal seems like arguing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. If it’s legal to read what’s written on the card, or slide it through a magnetic reader, I don’t see how a contactless reader is any different. It may be different if you can scan dozens of cards a few feet around you, but if you have to hold the card an inch or less from the reader and only scan one card at a time, it seems effectively the same as the traditional methods.
“The district and appeals courts ruled against the person…”
Not according to the article. According to the article they declined to even hear the case, so there is no prior precedent against it.
“If it’s legal to read what’s written on the card, or slide it through a magnetic reader, I don’t see how a contactless reader is any different.”
Sliding it through a magnetic scanner wouldn’t be permitted either. Only methods of inspection that are possible through and via human senses only. It isn’t that dissimilar to the standard police are held to when talking to somebody at their front door without a warrant. If a crime is visible, they can do something about it. But outside of their casual senses, any evidence gathering requires a warrant.
An appeal to the court of appeals is a matter of right. An appeal to the state Supreme Court is discretionary. Some on this blog are smart to ask why the Supreme Court would take such a minor case which according to A Joy has no effective precedent. My guess is the court of appeals got cute with a technicality to avoid a decision (not uncommon) but the state Supreme Court now feels it has to do the work the court of appeals should have done. The reality is between the superior (trial) court and state Supreme Court you have the state court of appeals, most of whom couldn’t cut it as a lawyer.
Non lawyers sometimes inflate the importance of courts, which are really designed to resolve individual disputes. Whether at the state or federal level the big dogs under the constitution are suppose to be the executive and legislature because they are elected, and their power diffused among many.
Ideally courts don’t make silly decisions. If government wanted to make transit free, could afford free transit, and the service could maintain its purpose the legislature would have done that. It isn’t like our legislature is conservative.
Transit is a public good. 90% of citizens don’t use it but subsidize it. Riders who can afford a fare — certainly businesses — should pay a fare. For $4 you will be able to take light rail from Redmond to downtown Seattle. That is a pretty good deal to me.
Is a progressive Supreme Court that did ignore the law when it allowed dishonest car valuations because ST bonded the revenue really going to gut transit? I doubt it. The very first argument — just like the argument over I-976 — will be ST will never be able to pass another levy, a martini costs $20 in downtown Bellevue, the wealthy aren’t even on transit, and you can take light rail from Redmond to downtown Seattle for $4.
ST is I think up to $140 billion. It is a grand experiment, and times are shaky. Is a state Supreme Court going to put the knife into ST? I doubt it. If I were on the court I certainly wouldn’t. That kind of decision belongs in the legislature.
I think the court took this case to put to rest whether the government or its agencies have the authority to POLICE fares, and will use an analogy like driving which is a privilege and not a right.
You don’t want to pay $4 or prove you paid a fare? Well, either buy a BMW or walk from Redmond to downtown Seattle. $4 looks pretty reasonable to me compared to the options. And I am the “classist prick” according to Tom Terrific.
Doesn’t the whole RealID thing, where there are electronics built into common forms of ID that require a reader, sort of fly in the face of limiting these types of things to human senses only?
“Only methods of inspection that are possible through and via human senses only.”
How is this different than numerous situations outside of public transit where they scan cards or barcodes to detect proof of payment. When you enter a baseball game, they scan your ticket. They don’t just trust you because you have a piece of paper that looks like a ticket to the human senses. Similar when you board an airplane. Similarly, are companies allowed to make you swipe a badge as you walk through a door? Mine does. And our badges are contactless, just like Orca cards.
If you don’t consent to having your Orca card scanned if you get fare checked, just buy a paper ticket. It’s not that hard.
Private businesses are not subject to the same laws as public law enforcement. You can be trespassed, your right to be served refused, etc. A sporting event is a private performance. Airlines are private companies.
RealID is used like a passport is. Only scanned when one travels from one country to another. International travel is a privilege, not a right. And it doesn’t require a reader. It is perfectly valid ID without any form of radio communication. In fact, the state can’t use RFID to read your RealID as far as I know.
If the distinction is private agency vs. public agency, how is it legal for the TSA to search your bags when you fly on an airplane? Even if the airline is private, the TSA is still public. If the issue that the fare enforcement officers are technically law enforcement, able to legally write citations, follow RossB’s suggestion and just replace them with security officers, that can kick you off the train, but can’t write tickets. In practice, getting dragged off the train and having to wait for a next one is already enough of a penalty to get people to pay the fare, even without formal citations.
asdf2, the TSA is a very interesting and divisive subject under the courts. In fact, our 9th Circuit has said a warrant needs to be issued. “the government’s involvement in promulgating the FAA guideline to combat hijacking is so pervasive as to bring any search conducted pursuant to that program within the reach of the Fourth Amendment” (United States v. Ross, [9th Cir. 1994]). The 6th Circuit disagrees, calling it private conduct, an argument shared by the US Supreme Court (United States v. Morgan, [6th Cir. 1985]). But as we are in the 9th Circuit, and light rail is not airlines, the pervasive issue seems to still apply. And since a definition of pervasive is “existing in or spreading through every part of something”, PoP methods certainly would seem to apply.
You are, whether you think $4 from Redmond to Seattle is a good deal or not.
Any idiot can see it’s a good deal. It’s 18 miles via I-90, and most MOTU’s have gas-guzzlers of one sort or another, so that’s a full gallon of gas. Plus you have to park when you get there, another couple to a few dollars depending where and when.
It’s shorter via SR520, but you have to pay a toll to save the gas.
Of course trade-offs don’t mean much to MOTU’s.
I don’t understand the legal argument, but if it really is a 4th amendment issue, does that mean no transit agency in the entire united states can use proof of payment? That sounds awful. There are lot of agencies out there using proof of payment with far less money that Sound Transit has.
I also fail to see what’s different about showing your orca card vs. showing your ticket to enter a movie theater or museum. It’s not like fare enforcement officers search your entire belongings to see if you’ve paid. You either have proof of payment or you don’t.
I was a bit perplexed by Fesler’s article on an elevated RV bypass: he objects to at-grade LRV operations on safety grounds, but then wants to run a streetcars at-grade along the same ROW. Most of the benefits he mentions, from putting grass in the rail median to running Link autonomously, can be done without elevated any of the RV line. Running a ‘bypass’ along the narrower and less straight Rainier Ave is worse for through riders and seems like overkill for the 7, which simply needs good frequency and some more bus only lanes
But I did find the idea of replacing Link with a ‘streetcar’ intriguing. One of the criticism of the Duwamish bypass is that the time savings aren’t major despite spends billion on several miles of ROW, include significant elevated viaducts. So perhaps the following approach:
1. Build an elevated line over the existing RV alignment. No need to acquire ROW. Will create some disruption, but I’m assuming that core weekday operations could generally continue as-is, expect for when the new alignments needs to be tied into the system.
2. Once operational, run 4-car Link elevated with no stops between Rainer Beach and Mt Baker. Trains can run safely at high speeds, can run at much higher frequency when peak loads require it, and modest time savings by skipping 2~3 stations.
3. On the old, at grade alignment, run 1-car (or 2-car if needed) Link as a ‘streetcar.’ Can add infill stations (Graham and perhaps others) and run at the speed of traffic. Streetcar would generally have signal priority but could stop at lights if necessary. By using the same LRV fleet, no need for additional OMF or new wiring/electronics.
Could even have the express bypass skip Rainier Beach (alow ridership station), and perhaps have the southern Streetcar-Link transfer at the new Airport Road station, which is still to be built, so could be design for level transfers between streetcar & Link?
Not sure if this is any better than a standalone Duwamish bypass as the Spine and running RV Link as a spur, but I thought the idea of downgrading RV Link to streetcar operating patterns, rather than abandoning that at-grade alignment, was an intriguing idea.
I don’t see his RV bypass solution pleas going anywhere. We will have our hands full paying for WSBLE for decades. My reaction: Yeah it makes sense but it’s not going to change a thing in SE Seattle.
It does highlight how Seattle rail transit planning has been dominated by dreamers who look at map diagrams rather than those who understand the daily realities of urban rail. Thus we get increasingly expensive corridors rather than productive systems.
Agreed. Any bypass is a silly idea, that would cost a bundle. It would benefit some people a little bit, while hurting others. No one has really explained how it is supposed to work. Do you interline the trains in Tukwila, creating a reverse split? That means trains south of there would be running twice as often as in Rainier Valley/Beacon Hill. So three to five minute frequency to Federal Way, then? That seems nuts.
Another alternative would be to end one of the lines in Tukwila or SeaTac. You still have a reverse split in terms of ridership and cost. You’ve effectively doubled the cost without increasing ridership much at all. You add a stop in Georgetown, similar to every stop in Rainier Valley — except only one, not four. You have a tiny increase in ridership south of SeaTac for through riders with the minor reduction in travel time (you don’t increase frequency). You lose a few riders who have to transfer from Rainier Valley to destinations south. Overall, you increase ridership minimally, despite increasing operational cost by a huge amount. All so that a relatively small number of riders get to downtown faster.
Which begs the question — who is paying for this? No offense Georgetown, but Seattle has no interest in this project — they have way bigger fish to fry. Spending billions to only serve Georgetown would be nuts. Maybe Pierce County or South King County will pay for it? Give me a break. Anyone who thinks they want to build something like this is delusional. This is luxury transit, in an area that can’t afford basic transit.
Creating an additional rail corridor south of the ID – whether it’s a Duwamish bypass or 2nd Rainier line as suggested by Stephen – would allow for a doubling of frequency in the DSTT2, which could be very desirable for North King, particularly for Ballard-Westlake, and would reduce crowding in RV (presumably an acute problem anytime the bypass is proposed).
Of course, the same thing could be accomplished with trains turning back at SoDo, or a short spur from SoDo to Georgetown. But there’s a path to articulating how a project would create value for both N King (more capacity north of ID, less crowding south of ID, and new station areas) and S King/Pierce (more frequency, faster connection).
ST3’s DSTT2’s spare capacity create the opportunity for an additional branch both north and south of downtown. North of downtown, the branch could be to Aurora (unlikely) or in Ballard. South of downtown, the branch needs to be before surface running in RV, so it could branch at Mt Baker (as Stephen proposes) or at SoDo (as envisioned in the various Duwamish bypass scenarios). And if the lines reverse branch at TIBS, there could be another branch immediately (to Southcenter or Burien?) or a branch later, such at Tacoma Dome ( excessive frequency for SKC, but elegant branching for Pierce).
The political path is very plausible.
1. WSBLE is built.
2. Seattle wants a train both north along 15th Ave and a subway east to UW, and it wants good frequency on both. It’ll need a 5th OMF to support the expanded fleet.
3. Seattle goes to Pierce & South King and says, “hey, we’ll built this new line, but can you chip in $XX for the SoDO to TIBS segment because you’ll benefit, plus we’ll put the OMF at the end of the line in west Pierce.”
hey, we’ll built this new line, but can you chip in $XX for the SoDO to TIBS segment because you’ll benefit,
South King and Tacoma would then start laughing. Not to mention people in Seattle wondering why they should spend a dime on the project (no offense Georgetown, but come on).
A reverse split in an area that will struggle mightily with ridership just doesn’t make sense. It is just so backwards. Right now Rainier Valley suffers from low frequency in large part because of everything south of there. The ridership per mile south of Rainier Beach is abysmal, which means the cost per rider is extremely high. To make matters worse, increasing frequency in Tukwila would not increase frequency as much as Rainier Valley, simply because it is farther away (the longer the trip, the less frequency matters). Ideally there would be a turnback after Rainier Beach, but ST doesn’t think that way. They just let Rainier Valley suffer instead. Building a reverse split would just be another insult to those riders, as well as any transit sensibility.
It would just be an extremely weird thing to do. Build a second line, that will be an even bigger express than the express that already exists. The biggest flaw with the current line is the lack of stations between Tukwila and Rainier Valley, and yet you are saying folks want to make things worse. Even if there were no existing line, it would be really weird. You don’t build a subway line to minimize ridership, you build it to maximize ridership. You don’t bypass people, you head towards them.
If you want to add more trains coming from the north, you just do it. Like everywhere else in the world, you don’t hesitate to end your train inside downtown (or right outside it, after passing through it).
Ross, of course the only choice would be to turn the trains back at the Airport. There is a good market for Sea-Tac employees living in the Rainier Valley to get to work on Link.
Please remember, nobody is proposing such a bypass be built NOW. It would only be needed if South King County and northern Pierce County boom in the coming years.
There really isn’t much land left at all in East King other than the mountains. Snohomish will close the gap between Lynnwood and South Everett in the next ten years, especially with the coming changes to downtown Lynnwood.
Where else than South King and Pierce will the climate refugees from California move? They’re not going to settle in Longview or Centralia.
Everyone has been cheering all the snow in the Sierras this winter, but the truth is that the very healthy-looking cumulative moisture graph flat-lined after December 20th. The drought has eased for the coming summer, but it certainly hasn’t ended.
I can’t speak for other proponents, but all I personally am saying is “save the right of way along Airport Way” north of “downtown Georgetown”. It can’t cost more than a few million dollars to buy the development rights along that old railroad spur east of Airport Way. The narrow strip between the road and the railroad tracks south of the Boeing Field Air Terminal would accommodate one track, and turning Airport Way into a two-lanes-with-a-refuge would provide the other. The only part that would need elevation is the bit between the Air Terminal and a block or south of Albro and then an elevated crossing over the rail tracks north of there. The rest can all be at-grade and fast.
“There really isn’t much land left at all in East King other than the mountains… Where else than South King and Pierce will the climate refugees from California move?”
The Snoqualmie Valley has a lot of room left in it. East of Issaquah is an obvious answer, and suburban sprawl is growing in Snoqualmie and North Bend. With an elevation under 500 feet, it isn’t in the mountains either.
Sultan and Gold Bar are other obvious locations. They’re not in King County, but are below 250 feet above sea level, and with plenty of usable land around them.
Note that I do not want these areas to fill with climate refugees. I want the region to guard its green spaces religiously, both inside and outside city limits. It is why I am against turning Seattle’s golf courses into housing, as I feel they would be better off turned into forested parks for future generations. But there is a massive amount of land to the East that can and sadly will be used for SFH as far as the eye can see. King County (heck, many of our counties) is massive, and can easily hold millions more people. Tens of millions if we got our land use codes improved and forced taller buildings in urban cores as well as prevented sprawl outside the city limits of small towns.
Snoqualmie Valley is intentionally zoned rural. The urban area ends at Issaquah, as does the ST district, ST Express, and future Link. Infill housing belongs in Issaquah and further west. How about Sammamish? Just as Seattle could double its density and still be less than San Francisco, the Eastside could double its density and still be less than Seattle. There’s no need to tear up the Snoqualmie Valley farms like we tore up the Issaquah and Kent farms.
Mike Orr, I lived in North Bend for over a decade. The moment the water moratorium lifted, there was a huge boom in SFHs being built. Not just within city limits either. It extended throughout the UGA, even when it was beyond the city limits. The city even blocked off county roads outside their jurisdiction, and funneled traffic to county roads that couldn’t handle the load (some of which weren’t even paved). Snoqualmie’s track record is no better, with Snoqualmie Ridge promising not to divert mass transit and other critical infrastructure from downtown Snoqualmie to itself. Today, over half those pieces of infrastructure are centered on the Ridge, including the diversion of all Metro routes.
Sprawl is alive and well in the Snoqualmie Valley, and it is as pervasive as every bit of graft and underhanded dealings can manage to get away with. The rural zoning has not stopped the swath of suburbia from pushing in wherever it can.
The urban area does not end at Issaquah. North Bend has a surprisingly generous UGA, and I suspect Snoqualmie does too.
Most of the benefits he mentions, from putting grass in the rail median to running Link autonomously, can be done without elevated any of the RV line.
Exactly. There are safety issues with running the train on the ground, but for the most part they endanger drivers who ignore the signals. The same thing happens with cars and buses. It is unfortunate, and there are things that SDOT could do to improve safety (add gates) but that can be said throughout the entire city. There is only so much money to spend making things safer. Building overpasses everywhere would reduce the number of collisions, but be extremely expensive. From a safety/cost standpoint, it would be a huge waste.
The benefit from a speed standpoint would be minimal. The big benefit would be to allow for more frequency. This would only make sense if there was a split, with half the trains going to Renton. Trains could go in Rainier Valley at 3-5 minutes, and 6-10 minutes on each end. I don’t see enough potential riders from Renton to justify this, especially since this would be a significant degradation in speed for those in Renton heading downtown.
What makes a lot more sense is to add a bus-only freeway station to the BAR Link station, so that the 101/150 could stop along the way, and connect riders to Link. That, along with maybe some speed improvements on Renton Avenue.
It’s been awhile since I’ve ridden the 101, but I think it gets on the freeway AT the boeing access road. (it comes over the hill on mlk way and joins I-5 there, yes?)
And for it to detour from MLK to a BAR station would be a huge, and horrible time sink.
Doesn’t the 101 get on the freeway here: https://goo.gl/maps/4A1XFDupwSjQEucS9? That is a bit south of the BAR overpass, and train. The idea would be that the train station would also be connected to a freeway station. By “freeway station” I mean a bus stop similar to those on 520, or Mountlake Terrace. The bus leaves the HOV lanes, goes in a bus lane to the stop, then merges back into the HOV lane.
It does raise questions though. It would be too short a distance for a bus to get over to the HOV lanes, assuming they build a freeway station there. It would mean you would need to add ramps connecting SR 900 with the HOV ramps somewhere in there (maybe farther south). That doesn’t look easy, but would save time for Renton riders (I assume there is congestion getting on the freeway). Otherwise the 101 just wouldn’t make the connection.
Then again, it also looks difficult to build a freeway station. If so, why the hell are they adding this station? If you can’t connect to buses on the freeway, I don’t see the point.
“Doesn’t the 101 get on the freeway here: https://goo.gl/maps/4A1XFDupwSjQEucS9? That is a bit south of the BAR overpass, and train.”
I agree that it would be impossible to get over to a freeway station in the middle of I-5 in such a short distance. I also agree that building one there would be extraordinarily difficult. Also a ramp from SR 900 coming off the hill would have to cross southbound 900 traffic, and then contend not only with the boeing access road bridge, but the LINK light rail bridge across I-5 which is just to the south of the BAR bridge, and very close. In short I don’t think you could build one.
If you want to get creative you could create a bus only transit lane going I-5 to 599 to Tukwila International blvd to Boeing Access Road, and approach the station from the other side. Really the only delay would be at the intersection with East Marginal which bus priority would help with. But it would still be a delay of probably five minutes over what you would get with a freeway station, and it wouldn’t be accessible by ANY renton buses which kind of defeats the purpose…
Why build a station at BAR? Good question. If they have to build it I’d still like to see a co-located Sounder station, but that was taken out so… it’s a mystery.
Also a ramp from SR 900 coming off the hill would have to cross southbound 900 traffic, and then contend not only with the boeing access road bridge, but the LINK light rail bridge across I-5 which is just to the south of the BAR bridge, and very close.
I think the best bet is to start well to the south, close to the big curve. The freeway would have to widen to allow more room for the ramps in the middle. The ramps would end long before the overpasses.
Likewise, widening the freeway to accommodate a bus freeway station looks very difficult, but not impossible. Maybe there is enough room to widen the freeway to the west. The pillars (of Boeing Access Road and Link) could be an issue.
There may be more clever ways to solve the problem. No matter what, it could be done — it is just that it looks extremely expensive. We have done (or are doing) crazier freeway projects.
If this is too expensive (and it probably is) then there is no point in the station. We are better off just putting money into bus service. Keep the 101 as is, but just run an express from Renton to Rainier Beach, via MLK and Henderson. That way it connects to both the 7 and Link (ending in the neighborhood that has more people). Even if the 7 becomes RapidRide and is sent to Rainier Beach Station, that works (the express could even take over the tail of the 7).
I think that the BAR Link station is a half-baked idea. It’s like offering a half-baked loaf of bread. It’s possible to eat a little bit — but the whole loaf is not desirable.
What’s missing is an actual plan for the station, the station area and transit feeders. It’s symptomatic of the problems of ST3 in general, assembled as a mere list of projects.
There are so many opportunities that could make the station much more valuable. A long list:
– extending more RapidRide (like RapidRide I) to end there
– configuring the station to serve a Link branch (definitely to Renton — but whether that’s a stub, part of a Duwamish bypass or a line extended to South Park, White Center or Burien needs to be analyzed)
– exploring seamless connections (even gondolas or driverless shuttles on separate facilities) to nearby destinations like Museum of Flight, Skyway/ Kubota Gardens and SouthCenter
– locating government offices nearby (like moving the Dept of Elections)
– forging a relationship with SeaTac (although ID/King St and Tacoma Dome will offer Link connections to there) to serve riders or maybe even just employees (remote employee parking)
– revisiting whether Sounder or even Amtrak Cascades could stop there
– choosing a site that even could be used for sporting venues (including the Olympics someday)
I don’t have a convincing idea but I do feel that the project should be put on ice until some emerge and get traction.
When I went joy riding on New Years Eve one thing that was glaringly obvious is that; one, there is no good (in fact they’re all bad) location for a BAR Station. Two, there no reason of any kind to put a station at the level of all the HVAC equipment in that sea of light industrial. The idea isn’t half baked it’s pulled from the compost heap.
Another observation, with the possible exception of SEA, the farther stations are from DT the less all day use they see. And, the stations north of DT get way more use than stations south of DT. Both of these point to BAR being the worst idea of any infill station.
Bus intercept: Why? You’re already in the thick of the I-5 snarl as soon as you go past 405. If you did want a bus intercept there just use Rainier Beach. But much better to save bus operating hours and use Angle Lake. Money spent on improving bus transfers there would be cheaper than BAR and have the effect of making lemon aid from what’s currently an expensive free place to park. I can see a number of bus transfers for people flying in/out of SEA and this would be a big time saver over the slog to a BAR station.
extending more RapidRide (like RapidRide I) to end there
The problem is, there is nothing there. Ending a bus route in the middle of nowhere is not ideal, even if there is a station there.
You could have a crossing bus, but that doesn’t add a lot. If a bus crosses from the southwest to the northeast, it would end up in Rainier Beach anyway, going by the Rainier Beach station along the way. That leaves only a northwest to southwest bus. That’s easy to see from the perspective of the 124, but I don’t know how that would work to the east. Maybe send the 107 east on Ryan? That might work — but now you’ve lost some coverage, and haven’t added much value. You could increase frequency to the east, but that costs money. This is not like 130th (or truncations) which save Metro money.
The alternative is to send both of the buses from the east to Rainier Beach, since that is the closest significant destination. The geography is such that it isn’t a detour from the northeast, since that is the main way to cross (https://goo.gl/maps/uZBAWiHKPrJPgxd87). In other words, Metro could do all of this now, with all of the assorted connections to Link. The station doesn’t make things easier. This is not like 130th — I don’t see this improving the transit network. Either Metro has the money (and interest) in running buses east/west here, or they don’t.
Bus intercept: Why?
By bus intercept I mean a freeway station similar to Mountlake Terrace or those on SR 520. That way, buses that are going downtown anyway can connect to Link. The bus still goes downtown, but it enables people to more easily get to Rainier Valley (and Beacon Hill). Unfortunately, the 150 may be the only solid candidate. The 101 would require new HOV ramps (as mentioned above). Buses further south may be truncated, and even if they aren’t, would connect in Federal Way (reducing the value added). I think it is a worthy approach, but it makes less sense given the lengthy extension of Link. If Link ended at BAR, or even SeaTac, then we would have a bunch of express buses from the south going downtown, each of which would stop along the way and connect to Link. But that’s not the system we are building.
A Sounder intercept would add value, but it isn’t clear how much. Like a freeway station, it would be costly.
Building a freeway station or Sounder/Link station remind me of the 405 interchange that is proposed (that Dan Ryan has written about). It is an interesting idea, and clearly adds value. But it isn’t likely to be worth it. It just costs too much money for what is added. Without that, even a relatively cheap station won’t get many riders, making it a dubious value in any form.
It’s probably a bad indicator when any light rail station is identified by an arterial road with no businesses or destinations or even residences on it. There’s just no “there” there to even give it a place name.
BAR is roughly the same distance from DT as the NE 75th Station. It wouldn’t make sense to build an expensive flyer stop on I-5 there and it makes less sense to spend that money where no station, in fact no nothing, exists. Mt Lk Terrace is different in that it was built as a P&R and it’s a lot farther from DT. The only way a BAR station will ever make sense is if the light industrial turns into an urban village or BFI becomes a passenger hub airport. Neither has any chance of happening for decades if ever. If one or both of those happen (cira 2084) then it’s probably time to look at a bypass route instead of a freeway/nowhere in fill station.
None of the arguments for BAR are very good. But ST defers first to subarea cities, and Tukwila was insistent that it was high priority. It cited a planned urban village on 144th & TIB, extending the A to BAR to serve that village, and easier access to the Museum of Flight and Aviation High School (presumably via the 124). Metro Connects 2016-2020 if I remember had the A going through BAR to Rainier Beach, and maybe the 150 too.
BAR is roughly the same distance from DT as the NE 75th Station.
Huh? Do you mean the NE 85th interchange? That’s not really true (85th is much closer to downtown Bellevue than BAR is to downtown Seattle) but that misses the point. Either way it adds value, it is just that it isn’t worth the money. The distance to downtown has little to do with it.
In the case of 85th, imagine there is a much bigger gap between 85th and downtown Bellevue (similar to Mountlake Terrace and downtown). The case for spending a huge sum is still weak, because there is an obvious alternative to going all the way downtown and back: Totem Lake. In the case of BAR, there is no equivalent — there is no nearby flyover for the south end of I-5.
The main purpose of a flyover station at BAR would be to connect south end riders to Rainier Valley. They would take the express bus (heading downtown) get off at BAR, and transfer to the train. The alternative for those riders is to ride all the way downtown, and all of the way back. The time savings for riders would be significant, and likely much larger than the savings for users of the 85th flyover.
This is the main benefit, but there could be side benefits that would be similar to other flyover stations. If Metro did run local buses to the station, then riders could transfer from an express bus headed downtown to a local crossing bus. This would be similar to taking the 413 in the morning heading downtown, getting off at Mountlake Terrace, and then transferring to the 130 to get to Aurora Village.
Is it worth it to fix this “missed connection” between the express buses and Link? Probably not. It adds value, just not enough to justify what would likely be very high costs. Furthermore, it doesn’t add that much value, without spending even more money to connect the 101 there. If the train ended at SeaTac then it would provide a lot more value. Riders from Federal Way, Kent and Tacoma would get off at the station to get to Rainier Valley. But again, we aren’t building that kind of system.
The reason I keep bringing up the issue of a freeway flyover station is because it is the *only* reason to build a station like this. In almost every respect building a station close to the freeway is a terrible idea. The one thing it can get you is the ability to connect to express buses heading downtown. If this doesn’t provide that (because there are too few express buses, and it is too expensive) then this is a pointless station. Unless, of course, they made a connection with Sounder. In both cases it should be considered part of the planning. This is like paying for the wheels of a car first, and saying they aren’t that expensive. Yeah, sure, but without the rest of it there is no point.
What I really don’t get is why they didn’t propose a station on East Marginal Way (https://goo.gl/maps/Uqqy8UaSvY8XacQc7). There isn’t much there either, but at least it has potential. Even without any changes there is a lot more there. Metro wouldn’t have to change the bus routes at all.
In contrast, the station will be between the railroad tracks and the freeway, in the middle of nowhere. The main (if not only) development in that little section will be the parking garage. Right now it is a very unpleasant walk on Boeing Access Road to East Marginal Way, and it involves essentially walking along a highway with a narrow shoulder (https://goo.gl/maps/mT2LQSkd3fSpBCC16). If someone wants to take the train to work, they would need to fix the street. And even if they did that, it would still be a very unpleasant and lengthy walk over the freeway. It just doesn’t make sense to build a station sandwiched between the freeway and the railroad tracks, if you aren’t going to take advantage of either.
Ross, finally we agree on something. I too think the East Marginal at 112th is a much superior location. It’s closer to the points in Tukwila that the station is supposed to serve, it’s NOT by a stonking huge (10 lanes) freeway, and it’s not by a diesel soaked railroad track. Extending the “A” to this station would take it through the heart of Tukwila, and it’s possible to get here from Des Moines Way and even First South via 116th Way and Myers Place. A bus from White Center to Renton that passed this station would be possible.
The two-lane center flyover connecting 599 to I-5 could be re-engineered so that it was two-way bus only with a bridge for northbound buses to pass over the southbound HOV. There is room for this, and it does allow use by buses which have taken the HOV west on I-405 to turn north to this location. The first half-mile or so of 599 west of I-5 (to East Marginal) would have two bus-only lanes in the center.
Then at the East Marginal overpass the bus-only lanes would rise to an intersection in the middle of the bridge. I would advocate for widening the bridge by a lane so that southbound auto traffic would not interfere with the buses turning from a bus-only center-left turn lane. Since it would be bus-only, presence of a vehicle in the turn pocket could trigger a red light for northbound cars. It would probably make sense, as well, to widen the east side too, for an acceleration lane for the northbound turning buses.
I know there aren’t that many buses headed to this location at this time, but some of the Renton Highlands buses could be extended here from the South Renton T/C so that they would have direct single-ride connections to both downtown Seattle and downtown Bellevue.
Since there is a flow-through off-ramp from SR599 westbound to Tukwila International Boulevard northbound, northbound buses could just merge into general traffic on 599, exit at TIB and turn right on 112th. That means that the ramp down at East Marginal could be a single lane instead of two-way. That limits potential “cross-county” options for buses because they’d be going the “wrong way” on 112th. It would definitely save money, though.
Putting the intercept here would be compatible with a future Airport Way or even East Marginal/South Park “bypass” since the junction would be north of the station.
I know; I know. “It will never happen.” But it’s nice to know that if it did happen, this would be one-minute south of the five mile “express” leg of the bypass.
This BAR situation is a result of a vadveprd choice in ST3. Had ST3 called for a “North Tukwila infill station” a number of sites could have been considered. But unlike other parts of ST3 that were more broad about exact locations, this one specified BAR.
The biggest constraint to BAR is the height limitation at the end of a runway. I’ve felt that the deferred 133rf station would be a much better TOD opportunity — but any location would be better than BAR.
Heck, I wouldn’t be upset if the funds were spent on Rainier Beach station to enable station access without crossing a busy MLK at Henderson as well as provide a good bus layover configuration. Traffic driving at higher speeds makes it scary for a Link rider to use the station.
What was the word you meant? I don’t recall what originally got BAR onto ST’s radar. The ST3 candidate projects had a Link BAR station and a Sounder BAR station and a transfer between them. In the end ST selected the Link station and not the Sounder station. I don’t know about another station location, maybe that would be better. As for the heart of Tukwila, does Tukwila have a heart besides Southcenter Mall? I’ve never seen one.
There is another possible reason for a BAR station – redundancy when Sounder is running.
In the event of a track closure between BAR and downtown, riders could get on a Sounder train (when it is running) to skip the section that is closed, and then link up with LINK at the other end to travel onwards.
“In the event of a track closure between BAR and downtown, riders could get on a Sounder train”
There is no Sounder BAR station in ST3, and there’s no transit between Link BAR station and Tukwila Sounder station. If the track in south Seattle gets blocked, people could get off Sounder at Tukwila Station and take the F to TIB and Link. Or faster, take the F to Southcenter and the 150 to Seattle. But more likely ST would have replacement express buses from Tukwila Sounder station to Seattle, or would suspend Sounder South entirely.
“In the event of a track closure between BAR and downtown, riders could get on a Sounder train”
Well duh. I meant to say there would be another reason for a BAR station if they co-located it with a sounder station.
Of course they took that off the ST3 table…
There’s a couple of transportation related bills that will have executive session on Monday in the Senate Transportation committee. Monday is also the deadline for the bills to move forward.
SB5528 was already featured on the site (https://seattletransitblog.wpcomstaging.com/2022/01/11/sb-5528-gives-transit-power-back-to-voters/) and would allow jurisdictions to speed up local ST3 projects through a public vote.
SB5903 would require businesses that have a drive-thru to provide equivalent service to pedestrians and cyclists.
SB5903 is long overdue. No business should be allowed to refuse to serve you, simply because you do not have a car. Considering how slow cars move through drive-through lines (slower than walking), safety is a non issue.
I personally know someone who flew into SeaTac late at night, took a shuttle to the hotel, needed food before going to sleep, walked to a jack-in-the-box across the street (the only place around that was open), but because he wasn’t in a car, they refused to serve him at the drive thru, and the lobby was locked, so he had to just go hungry (this was years before the likes of UberEATS and Doordash). The whole thing was rediculous.
I’ve seen people walk up to drive thru windows before as if they were in a vehicle — and get service. I even saw this at a bank recently!
I’ve done if for food. It has become a bigger issue with Covid (many fast food places only opened up their drive through).
I tried to do it years ago at a bank (before they had ATMs) and was refused service. I had to wait until the inside opened up later.
Strange that they’d refuse service simple because you aren’t in a car. Maybe they had safety concerns of establishing this as a practice and encouraging the mixing of pedestrians with cars or afraid that it’s too easy for someone on foot to cut the line? Don’t know. Would be interesting to see what they’d done if you were on a bike. Those are considered to be vehicles under WA law when using the road.
I rarely go to drive-thru places but when I do I just stand between the cars. The last time was when I took the Pinehurst bus to 145th to see the Jackson Park wetland I’d heard about. There were two fast-food places there, I think Burger King and Subway. A sign on the Burger King door said the dining room was closed due to covid and to use the drive-through. One car had just gone through and there were no other cars, so I went up to the speaker and called out my order. Nobody answered and I waited a few minutes and then decided I didn’t want a burger that much anyway and went to Subway.
Today I rode the B past the Chick-Fil-A on 116th, and there was a line of cars snaking through the parking lot and onto 116th all the way up to 8th. Why would somebody sit in a car line for fifteen minutes just to get a stupid chicken sandwich on probably a bad bun?
Almost every aspect of st3 has something absurd or going worse than expected.
– New downtown stations too deep complicating the many transfers st3 will cause.
– West Seattle over budget and will be knocking down loads of houses.
– Everett has the billion dollar Pain field diversion.
– Tacoma will be slower than bus
Does anyone think there should be a reevaluation and revote? I regret that I voted yes. What would it take to get Sound Transit to propose a vote to do something different or nothing at all?
“ Does anyone think there should be a reevaluation and revote?”
ST3 was never “evaluated” to begin with! The individual projects were assembled with terrible cost estimates, inadequate contingencies and dubiously vague design details.
In other words, to have a “reevaluation” we have to have a realistic “evaluation” first. The closest one I’ve seen was independently done by Yonah Freeman in 2016 and it used the now-apparent low-ball project costs that ST presented to voters at that time. (https://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2016/04/06/youve-got-50-billion-for-transit-now-how-should-you-spend-it/)
Unfortunately, I have not seen a single Board member ask to take Freeman’s initial evaluation and update/ explore it more thoroughly.
I meant Yonah Freemark! Sorry for stating the wrong last name!
I would love to see a re-vote. Unfortunately, you would likely have the same dynamic. It is way too easy, especially in this day and age, to see people ignore all nuance when it comes to proposals like this. It often comes down to something really simplistic: Are you for transit, or against it?
It is possible that you would lose a lot of voters, especially in the suburbs, because of the high costs, and the fact that ST2 is almost done. The original vote was done right after U-Link, when it really looked like Sound Transit had solved its cost estimation problems, and it was clear that lots of people liked riding Link. It was also done at a time when many of the suburban projects were half done, implying that to finish them, you needed to pass ST3. The advertising took advantage of this fact, emphasizing the traffic from say, Everett to downtown Seattle, instead of Everett to Lynnwood. It is much easier to make the case that much of the system will be done when you can see it being built. Likewise, it is possible you could lose plenty of votes in Seattle, as people wonder if spending money on these projects is really the best value.
Then again, it is possible you will simply have the same people lined up on either side. You will have anti-tax Eyman on one side, along with the Seattle Times editorial board. On the other side, you will have The Stranger, and most likely this blog. To a lot of voters, it would simply be another “Do you like transit or not” referendum.
It isn’t clear what a “No” vote would mean. They have already spent a fair amount of money. Many projects have started. A do-over makes sense, but it isn’t clear how that would work. You basically need a substitute package, but I have no idea how the board could come up with one, given that many still want everything in ST3 (or at least the part in their district). I think this would require a local politician who is well respected, who understands the subject, and is willing to craft a major reduction, or a shift to bus service (or some combination of both). I just don’t see that happening. Even Fesler’s editorial (which I agree with) leaves readers with no clear pathway forward. What does it mean for Sound Transit to “take a mulligan”? What can voters do to help things?
I voted against ST3 because it just looked like a huge waste. But I also figured they would rethink their assumptions, and come up with something else. Doing that after the fact is harder.
I could see this being fixed, perhaps from outside Seattle. For example, a leader in Tacoma could say “Link to the Tacoma Dome is silly — it won’t help things that much — I would much rather we just spend the money on buses”. Then they could come up with a plan for a major downsizing. Keep the infill stations, the major BRT projects, as well as the extensions to Redmond and Federal Way. Otherwise balance it out (by subarea) by just providing bus service, or some combination of bus service and capital improvement. That could definitely work, but I doubt it will happen.
I was thinking a vote to wrap up a few projects that are furthest along like Redmond link, put out some buses to balance out sub areas, then cut most of the ST3 taxes. Obviously all the transit sceptics and knee jerk anti-tax folk would vote yes. But would the pro transit vote yes? I don’t think the board would vote yes unless people clamored for it.
Link to FW, Lynnwood, and Redmond are already in construction, so those are to be completed regardless of net steps. Same for the two major Stride freeway stations. And given the bond structure, cancelling the bulk of the ST3 program probably doesn’t create tax relief until the 2030s, so it’s not like there is suddenly ‘spare’ tax capacity for another entity (SDOT, KCM, etc.) to step in and levy the same taxes for a new set of projects.
I think it’s plausible to truncate ST3 to only include the following:
– Link to South Federal Way, build out the OMF-S.
– Link north of Lynnwood, perhaps to Ash Way. EIS for OMF-N and Everett routing completed but otherwise deferred.
– Major bus enhancements for Ballard, WS, Kirkland (on the ERC?) and the I90 corridor (some new freeway stations?)
– Upgrade South Sounder to 10car trains and complete EIS & negotiations for additional S Sounder trips, but hold off purchasing the easements for additional trips. With TDLE mothballed, Pierce may have the funds for an additional trip or two, but SKC may not.
I think Pierce could get behind ending the taxes earlier, though Tacoma would strongly object to not getting Link. I think the biggest obstacle would be Snohomish political leaders, which seems very keen on Link to Everett and understands that riding the coattails of pro-transit Seattle voters is the best way to make it happen.
If I’m a pro-transit advocate in Seattle, I think a better outcome would be to keep those ST3 taxes in place so the revenues contain to flow, and then advocate through the board to rethink WSBLE. Outside of Seattle, objectional projects like Tacoma Streetcar, Issaquah Link, or the Paine routing can be rethought in an ST4 without pausing ST3; the only value of pausing ST3 regionally is if you want to prevent Link from crossing into Pierce county.
I think it’s plausible to truncate ST3 to only include the following:
– Link to South Federal Way, build out the OMF-S.
– Link north of Lynnwood, perhaps to Ash Way.
Given that they haven’t started those, and they seem rather weak, I could see areas abandoning those projects if given the chance. Lynnwood is a really big deal not only for that part of the county, but for everything north of there. When it opens all the express buses will serve it. There are two things you want from a terminus: That it be a destination in itself, and that it be easy to access (by buses). Lynnwood is much better than any place to the north in both regards. Ash Way is not a significant destination. Getting to Ash Way is difficult. Buses would likely just skip Ash Way and go straight to Lynnwood.
Of course you add value, but not a lot. A few of the crossing buses would be able to connect to Link. Riders in the handful of apartments next to the station wouldn’t have to transfer. But overall, you would help out way more people by just pumping the money into bus service after Lynnwood Link.
The situation is similar in Federal Way. Highline College is a bigger destination, but the Federal Way TC is a much bigger destination than South Federal Way. More importantly, it is easy for buses to access it from the south. As with Lynnwood, this really is a big deal for those who live farther away. If ST truncates the Tacoma buses in Federal Way, they will probably increase frequency, or expand coverage, because it would dramatically reduce costs. If the bus stops on the way to downtown Seattle, it would still reduce costs, since you wouldn’t need a second bus headed to SeaTac. Yet the trip from Tacoma to SeaTac would be dramatically better, since it would be a lot more frequent. It would be about as good as you get in Tacoma. The extension to the Tacoma Dome wouldn’t add much, since riders from downtown would have to transfer anyway.
Lynnwood and Federal Way are logical termini. Everything north or south of there gives you diminishing returns. It is worth noting how unusual this is. Usually with an expansion — any expansion — you get high ridership per mile (which translates to higher ridership per maintenance/service cost). Yet that is not true with ST3, and it wouldn’t be true if they went beyond Lynnwood and Federal Way.
I think the biggest obstacle would be Snohomish political leaders
I think the biggest problem has always been the political leaders, who assume that the only way to get good transit is to get light rail to their city. It is true of Tacoma, as well as Everett. It is true of West Seattle as well. The one time that a city did a study to determine how best to improve transit, their proposal ran counter to this standard ST ideology, and was struck down by the board (“Heresy!”). The inability to find appropriate transit projects for their area is why any significant improvement is unlikely. There really has to be a different mindset — like the one taken by leaders in Kirkland — to question the assumptions that most transit experts would say are simply wrong.
“I could see areas abandoning those projects if given the chance.”
Subarea boardmembers merely have to ask the full board to defer or downscale some of that subarea’s projects, and the board might do it. The problem is that every subarea, county, and city is adamant that their project(s) are necessary and urgent. The board probably doesn’t want to get into an inter-member battle of some members pushing for deferrals in other member’s areas and creating winners and losers. So it depends on each member willing to defer or downscale their own project, and none of them are willing to, and their constituents might not be happy if they did.
I think it would be sensible to truncate Link at Mariner, Ash Way, or Lynnwood in the north end, Federal Way in the south end, cancel the Issaquah line, and replace all of them with frequent BRT or frequent ST Express (at least 15 minutes all day and evening). We could rethink Ballard and West Seattle, and boost the C and D in the meantime. And maybe the H, 21, and 40. But I’m a North King constituent so I would say that. And I’m not a Seattle mayor or city councilmember so I can think about downgrading Ballard and West Seattle without jeapordizing my reelection chances.
The board has made some progress by scheduling the P&Rs last in the realignment. That’s a way to deprioritize a category of projects without hitting one subarea’s P&R while sparing another’s. And anything that’s scheduled last could theoretically be cancelled later in the 2030s before construction starts, in either a board action or revote.
Mike, you don’t create “winners and losers” with subarea equity. If a project is deferred or eliminated the ST tax revenue raised in that area stays in that subarea.
You hate cars and park and rides but the Eastside subarea does not. That is why they were included in ST 3: in order to sell it.
The only real project that is unfunded is WSBLE. Park and rides were extended — along with ST taxes — to meet the debt ceiling for WSBLE. The Eastside subarea has so much ST revenue — before the realignment — it has no place to spend it in an area in which transit use and interest is plummeting.
Like the other subareas EKC will complete the projects promised in ST 3 if they have the revenue, even the foolish Issaquah to S. Kirkland line because the subarea will unfortunately have the revenue, along with the park and rides. Unless transit use declines so much permanently the subarea as a whole decides to do something else.
There may not be a need for more park and rides, but that will because eastsiders are no longer commuting, or even riding transit. It is ridiculous to think commuters will switch to feeder buses in a huge and undense area like King Co. It is much more likely: 1. They WFH; 2. Drive to a park and ride that serves East Link; 3. Drive to work; 4. Insist on one seat buses. Unless Metro can afford micro transit to east King Co.
Tacoma and SnoCo have have waited a long time for rail and have the ST revenue for their projects, especially if they don’t have to contribute $275 million each to a ridiculous project like DSTT2 N. King Co. cannot afford. They may not be wise projects for their area, but I think they think rail somehow makes them important, and it is their money.
Cancel WSBLE and DSTT2 and let the subareas keep their contribution to DSTT2, and ST3 can be completed and the poorer subareas will have extra revenue for operations.
If park and rides get permanently eliminated in East King Co. that will be a very bad sign for transit because it will mean they although they are affordable they are not needed because no one is riding transit, especially commuters. Like today. The park and rides are empty on the Eastside, which isn’t a good sign for transit. Transit needs riders, and too many transit advocates never understood riders have to get to transit, unless they no longer need transit.
Of course, nobody ever walks to a bus stop or transfers to a local to the 550 or Link. And 405 Stride is coming too. Metro’s and ST’s ridership was increasing everywhere before covid, and even if covid resets it to a lower level it will continue to increase. Except the Eastside is noticeably lagging behind Seattle and South King County, and that makes its buses emptier.
Woo-hoo, the MOTU Mafia’s mouthpiece goes full mobster on us, folks: “Gimme duh 12 billion, Noit King, or my boys gonna give ya patellas a party. Capiche? Maybe youse’ll get a new limo outta it if I’m feelin’ good afta.”
Tom Terrific, even though this is one of your late-night posts I am amazed how little you understand about subarea equity and WSBLE, which seems totally based on your class envy.
Cancelling WSBLE or DSTT2 does not create a $12 billion windfall for the other subareas (if the $12 billion existed). It would stay in N. King Co. Do you understand that basic fact?
I also don’t understand why you think Pierce So., S. King Co. and SnoCo are “MOTU’s”. Two of those subareas still have no rail, and S. King Co. has a single line with very few stops. Personally, I think it is egregious to require these other subareas to pay N. King Co. — the real “MOTU” — $275 million each for a DSTT2 they don’t need for their capacity when economically they pale in comparison to the real MOTU, N. King Co., and have been pretty frugal with their light rail lines and stations.
It is clear from your recent comments about east King Co. having been “built out” that you have basically no understanding of east King Co., which alone is larger than many states. There is enough land along the Issaquah-Hobart road to Ravensdale — all zoned residential — to house millions if necessary. The irony is the reason that area, that today is pretty rural feeling because of the large lots and modest sized houses, is feeling pressure to develop is because so many are fleeing Seattle for the eastside. Population growth for the region as a whole today is less than 1%/year, and will be that for decades according to the PSRC.
East King Co. paid for 100% of the east-west buses until East Link opens, and 100% of East Link across the bridge span including post tensioning, which combined are over a $1 billion gift to N. King Co. East King Co. had its park and rides extended to meet the debt ceiling for WSBLE, but the reality is transit is so dead on the eastside no one cared. The park and rides are empty today. Why build more until the current park and rides are full.
East King Co.’s real problem going forward is the area doesn’t see its future as transit related with WFH and other changes, Bellevue is not interested in “partnering” with Seattle anymore but displacing Seattle, and there really are no good transit projects on the eastside — certainly light rail — including the Issaquah to S. Kirkland line, or East Link that will run along 112th.
It is true East King Co. has boomed since subareas were first established, which has created much more ST revenue than anticipated, but the main factor affecting its huge ST reserves is East King Co. has been very frugal with its light rail lines. Basically, mostly surface lines in public rights of way, express buses on freeways, etc. Running light rail from west of I-90 to Redmond for $5.5 billion with the number of stations is very economical for light rail, although ridership will likely be 1/2 of ST’s estimates. N. King Co. should try that.
The fundamental reality you don’t seem to grasp is there isn’t $12 billion for WSBLE, let alone a windfall for other subareas. THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT OF THE REALIGNMENT AND THE EIS. There is a reason Rogoff estimated the deficit for ST in Jan. 2021 at $11.5 billion.
In fact, with the extension and “realignment” the likely price for WSBLE as chosen in the EIS will total $20 billion. The actual amount the N. King Co. subarea has for WSBLE is around zero, which is why the Board decided to build Graham St. and 130th stations. If the money was there for WSBLE, or even if some of the money was there but it was tight, the Board would not have authorized these other stations in N. King Co. but would have used it for WSBLE.
There is no “windfall” from cancelling WSBLE. Don’t you get that. The money isn’t there. It isn’t even close. The Board can’t possibly start a project that N. King cannot possibly afford, even with contributions from the four other subareas, three of which have no extra money, and two of which still have no transit. Some MOTU’s.
The fundamental question today is whether current ridership numbers reflect future ridership numbers. With unemployment at 3.8% but the office workers still not commuting to the urban core I am beginning to think the current ridership numbers are likely permanent certainly compared to the fantastical ridership estimates ST used to justify light rail.
SnoCo and Pierce Co. will complete their projects because they have the money (depending on the line) and they want the rail they were promised, even if ridership does not warrant them. But other than that ALL subareas need to pause, and see where transit ridership ends up post pandemic.
Current ridership levels would have never justified the light rail we have built, and as Rogoff noted that is reflected in operations funding shorfalls. Some think this is a temporary dip. Well, let’s find out before we build even more light rail, especially something from a gilded age like WSBLE that like so much of Link is predicated on false ridership, project cost and general fund revenue estimates.
But please stop talking about “windfalls” from WSBLE. It makes you look like you don’t understand the basic issues.
The ridership map here:
makes it fairly clear that Link ridership in Seattle will consist of people from Seattle as well as a large number that don’t live in Seattle.
Asking Seattle alone to pay for the required Link capacity is a bit like asking Mercer Island alone to pay for all the I-5 changes on the island, since those changes are happening inside the bounds of that city.
Glenn, I think you mean I-90, not I-5. But the reality is I-90 is not designed to benefit Mercer Island (and MI litigated for decades over the design) it is to connect Seattle to the rest of the country, which is why it is federally funded. MI got a light rail station only because it is an Island in the middle of Lake Washington, and it was cheaper going over MI than around it.
King Co. residents paid for DSTT1. Actual future ridership on lines 1 and 2 will have plenty of capacity in DSTT1. DSTT 2 is only necessary for WSBLE capacity, and it is just too expensive and grand in design for such a low volume line.
I am not really complaining about the contributions from the four other subareas, although I think the extravagant design and cost is unfair to Pierce, SnoCo and S. King Co. which didn’t get tunnels and underground stations. But the reality is it is the N. King Co. subarea that does not have the funding for DSTT2 or WSBLE, even with the contribution from the other subareas for DSTT2. We are talking close to $20 billion probably, with only $1.1 billion from the four other subareas.
The assumption over the last three years was transit ridership would return to pre-pandemic levels at some point, and then grow to match ST’s ridership estimates. I don’t think that is true anymore, and ridership will likely be around 1/2 of ST’s ridership estimates used to support DSTT2.
Let’s wait for ridership to return to the levels ST claimed in ST 2 and 3 that were used to justify DSTT2 (and operations) before starting on a tunnel N. King Co. cannot possibly afford, even with a $1.1 billion contribution from the four other subareas, three of which do not have that $275 million because ST underestimated their project costs too.
I live in the east King Co. subarea, so as long as our contribution is capped at $275 million for DSTT2 I am a spectator, but I think a $275 million contribution from Pierce, SnoCo and S. King Co. will really hurt the viability of their rail projects which are pretty modest in design, and will leave N. King Co. billions and billions in the red with $3.5 billion in bridge repair and maintenance unfunded, and West Seattle proved that when bridges fail they fail pretty spectacularly.
Show me the ridership numbers used to justify DSTT2, and the money for operations, then the true cost for WSBLE and N. King Co.’s reserves for such a project, and then we can talk. But doing an EIS without the money for any alternative is crazy, even for ST.
“ DSTT 2 is only necessary for WSBLE capacity, …”
This is simply not a fact.
Let’s get some facts clear here:
1. DSTT is only a portion of the Link underground segment in Seattle. When it was approved, Seattle had about 40 percent of the entire county population. The original Metro DSTT bus routes were generally going to destinations beyond the Seattle city limits (enabling much faster long-distance trips and making it easier to live outside of Seattle) and Seattle-only buses were generally on the street. It may have been in Seattle, but surely over half of those using the original tunnel lived beyond the city limits.
2. The future most demanded PM movement is southbound headed towards the ID. That means that lots are headed to Sounder (where there is no station inside Seattle except King Street) and even more are headed east towards East King, South King and Pierce. If Sounder wasn’t running and East Link was a surface express bus, that demand would drop to well below the need for DSTT2..
3. The tunnel north of Downtown will probably have about 20-25% of the riders being Snohomish residents when Lynnwood Link opens.
I’ll admit that I think that DSTT2 was driven by the need to turn South Lake Union into a high ruse district. But that’s an access issue and not a capacity one.
Assigning trips on transit to a subarea is complicated by the need to serve trips that begin in one and end in another. However, much of the the property tax, most of the sales tax and almost all of the car tags are assigned to or coming from the subarea of residence. We don’t build Berlin Walls in Seattle to restrict movement as much as certain Eastsiders like you think that one exists when doing subarea allocations. So if you think subarea funds are somehow allocated unfairly, how about agreeing that half of the place of residence revenue from car tags and sales taxes go to the home subarea and the rest goes into a regional pot or say a quarter go to North King?
Well “counselor”, if WSBLE and the second tunnel aren’t built [your “proposal”], what exactly does the $11+ billion (in 2019 dollars) that North King will collect over the next two decades ($560 million / year × 20 years) get spent on? Everything will have been built by mid-2023.
Car tabs are going to grow over that period at least as rapidly as inflation. Sales taxes will roughly keep up plus grow with the population. So it’probably actually $15 billion.
Oh, I know! We can run extra trains between Shoreline North and BAR so that one comes by every two minutes!!! What a GREAT way to shepherd the public purse!
But Ouch, even that wouldn’t use it all. Poor filthy rich North King will still have five or six billion in the bank in 2042.
What to do? What to do?
Oh, dear me, I forgot. There are two projects in North King other than WSBLE / DSTT2: Graham Street and BAR. Wowee-zowee, together they will Hoover up $300-400 million, depending on how grande [sic] they are. Wow, one-forty-eighth of the $12 to 15 bill will be spent on betterment!
Hurrah, we’re saved!
OK, it’s not 1/48 th, and the 130th Street Station is also an ST3 project, so $500 million +/-, or one twenty-fourth of expected tax revenues through 2042.
Since Interbay-Lower Queen Anne-South Lake Union-Westlake is a very good project, the thing to do with the money that isn’t required for the three small projects and operations within the subarea — somewhere between four and seven billion — is as follows. Thanks especially to Glenn for the idea of using the CCC to get through downtown.
1) build the tunnel from Denny Way Station to the West Portal, and the rest to Dravus at-grade where possible and elevated where absolutely necessary;
2) excavate Westlake Avenue south of Denny Station for a future tunnel to a shallower-than-the-current-proposals New Westlake Station; the tracks would be placed widely enough apart that a single track with a wye connection to both directional tracks could be placed between them connected to both;
3) build that third track on a ramp to the surface of Westlake where it would continue between the existing tracks for one train length (see . At the top of the ramp there would be a cross-over to the southbound CCC track for trains from Interbay. At the south end of the pocket there would be a turnout from the CCC track for trains to Interbay.
This would allow CCC trains to pass Interbay trains waiting to descend into the tunnel;
4) complete the CCC to Jackson and North Rainier and operate the InterBase service as every-other-train to Westlake and every-other-train through to Rainier.
5) extend the Sixth South track to the main line at Royal Brougham for heavy maintenance moves to Forest Street
6) build a small storage/nightly cleaning facility in the big parking lot across from Pier 91. This would require an elevated crossing of the BNSF interbay southern throat.
7) operate the system (and an improved SLU streetcar) with four- or five-section Citidis Trams, whichever length will fit in a Seattle city block. The Westlake trains would be two trams coupled together for roughly the capacity of two Link cars.
8) choose 1500 volt cars for complete interoperability with Link. Make curves Link-compatible also so that if the tunnel is eventually dug through downtown, two-car Link trains can use it.
That package can be done within the financial constraints while improving central city circulation and serving the North Rainier corridor. The half-mile between Dearborn and Judkins Park Station is the best place in the city for inexpensive land on which to build high-rise apartment/condos for middle-income people. Big buildings there won’t block any body else’s view, and above about the fifth floor will be above the hills to the east.
If they made me Transit king, I would. I would also ask to redo the ST3 project and have Ballard to UW instead of Ballard to downtown through SLU. (Tech folks can take the SLU Transit and let the Gondola advocates design something on Mercer for an 8 gondola.). By saving the money (including not having a second tunnel), let West Seattle BRT their way or go to SoDo if they really must have their rail.
Put it up for public comment (unlike the Kubly special we are stuck with).
I would support that, for sure.
I’d support that proposal as well. I too voted against ST3 as I found it to be a very seriously flawed package and a poor value overall. Components were not properly vetted, as Al S. has indicated in his comments. I was also highly skeptical of the initial cost estimates spelled out in the project templates that formed the basis for the capital cost estimates stated in the plan. I discussed the ST3 projects at length with two individuals with backgrounds in civil engineering whose opinions I value, one a friend and one a sibling. They both agreed that the capital costs were dubious. We now know that this conclusion was indeed warranted.
I’ve seen several comments insinuating that ST3 have public comment process. Where is that coming from? ST3 with through a robust public comment process, which mostly resulted in the project timeline being compressed. Just because all the Ballard-UW comments were ignored by staff/politicians doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
My understanding of the comments suggesting a new public comment period for ST 3 are based on:
1. You can’t have meaningful public comments if revenue, ridership, and project cost estimates are intentionally and materially false.
2. Now that the intentional and materially false estimates are becoming known — and getting worse — a new “public comment” period about what can be afforded with ST 3 revenue — both capital and operation budgets — is required anyway.
I think continuing to speculate on a ST 4 passing is avoiding this reality.
I saw a robust public propaganda campaign rather than a robust public process.
I’m not seeing any significant complaint about public processes here , AJ. I’m seeing complaints about deceptive cost and design facts surrounding the projects and the lack of objective evaluation metrics and disclosures when choosing project options. Plenty of individuals questioned the early details but ST ignored that feedback then — like they continue to ignore most comments to this day (unless it’s generally from a wealthy corporate interest or an elected official).
And for what it’s worth, I’ve never been a fan of the Ballard-UW idea mainly because it skips South Lake Union. There are plenty of others who question ST3 that are not supportive of Ballard-UW. That corridor faces the same elevation challenges as Downtown unless the project is to build cut and cover generally following the Burke Gilman trail. To present that issue as the distinguishing characteristic is flatly wrong.
The ST3 public “snow job” actually reminds me of how the monorail saga played out 20-25 years ago — overly optimistic results (advertised speeds ), vague design details and overly underestimated costs. ST3 is playing out like Monorail V2. I don’t think the ultimate result will be the same — but I do think that ST increasingly looks like a delusional propaganda machine rather than a judicious steward of the public.
AJ, I don’t think Ballard-UW is half as popular as its advocates like to think it is, and “all the comments” amounted to a scant fraction of what those advocates hoped. As a tiny intra-Seattle route (the UW and Ballard neighborhoods are literally only 2.2 miles apart) it doesn’t play well in over half the city, and definitely doesn’t get any traction in any non-Seattle subarea. ST was wise to keep that albatross off its neck, and I doubt any system wide measure with it included would ever pass.
I’m with A Joy on this one. If Seattle can’t get up enough gumption to put bus lanes through Wallingford where there’s a perfectly good auto arterial two blocks to the north and one five blocks to the south, it shouldn’t expect a subway through the same area.
Well, since Groundhog Day was just last week….
Tlsgwm, that only proves my point. UW-Ballard was studied years before ST3 was on the ballot, yet it wasn’t included. We can speculate as to why, but I am fairly certain it was decided that as an intra-Seattle line in a single subarea, it isn’t a ST project and would have risked sinking all of ST3. Under current plans to break the spine, there will not be any Link lines that begin and end in Seattle. It is a regional system and series of projects, and such a parochial pipe dream just isn’t in the cards as far as they are concerned.
“If Seattle can’t get up enough gumption to put bus lanes through Wallingford where there’s a perfectly good auto arterial two blocks to the north and one five blocks to the south, it shouldn’t expect a subway through the same area.”
It’s the other way around. It’s easier to get the public to approve a Link line than to get them to accept a reduction in GP lanes or parking lanes. So if you say we can’t have 45th Link until they’re willing to reduce GP lanes, then you’ll never get anything and it will be 30-45 minute travel time from the U-District to Ballard forever. That’s not acceptable when we need Seattle’s fourth-largest urban village to be integrated with the rest of the city and not have a half-hour overhead to get in and out of it. I worked and later lived in Ballard and was subject to that overhead, and it’s one reason I don’t live in Ballard anymore until it’s improved.
You’re backwards Mike. In 2019 the 44 had a peak headway of eleven to twelve minutes with 40′ trolleys. That’s a few hundred riders hour; double it to include the 31/32. You want to spend $3 billion on a subway for a thousand riders per hour? When the City never even tried BRT? The Feds would NEVER agree to it.
For those of us unaware (Me) Why would stations being to deep complicate transfers?
What’s the Everett pain field diversion?
And why will Tacoma be slower then bus?
Seattle -Tacoma will be slower than the express buses because there are intermediate stops and the speed limit on Link is only 55 mph in the best locations. However, it will connect more places so while the express traffic might drop the overall traffic might be higher.
Deep stations make them time consuming to access. If they get deep enough, the only way is escolars or elevators. With elevators alone you get capacity problems. With long escalators you wind up a long way from the station platform, and no wheelchair access directly comparable with the escalators.
The Everett diversion is the routing of Link over to the Everett airport. It won’t follow interstate 5 or other direct route from Shoreline to Everett. So, it might be a bit slower than the 512.
Rainier Valley never had a bus route to the airport before Link, so there’s one advantage right there. As Link gets further into south King County, that will be a bigger advantage. My roommate’s brother just moved here and is working in Kent. That’s easy from southwest Capitol Hill within walking distance of the 150. But if he lived in Rainier Valley and there were no Link, he’d have to backtrack to SODO to get the 150. With Link he’d have the option of taking it to the airport and transferring to the 160 to Kent, which happens to serve some of the north Kent warehouses. One housing option that probably wouldn’t work is another friend’s house in Rainier View, because it’s only on a half-hourly route (107), and it would be a long three-seat ride from there to northern Kent. But that’s the kind of thing everyone in the valley would have to do if Link didn’t exist.
161 I mean. 160 is the Renton-Kent-Auburn route. I get confused because the SeaTac-Kent route used to be 180, which is similar to 160. I have the same problem with the 540, 560, and the old Metro 340. I have to stop and think which one is which, because the old 340 and 180 are ingrained in my mind.
My understanding is that the Everett train will largely make up the time further along the route. Each stop now becomes just a quick stop, without a bunch of slow crawls getting in and out of it. And, with proof of payment and lots of doors, passenger loading is much faster.
All in all, these factors and the Paine Field Detour cancel each other out, so the total travel time from Everett to Lynnwood is the same as the 512.
Really deep stations are often only served by elevators. This can work out OK, assuming they build enough of them. The elevators are pretty good at serving people because they only make two stops (one at the platform, one up top). If people are transferring to another station, this can complicate things.
The Everett Paine Field Diversion is just the name for the route the train takes from Ash Way to downtown Everett. Instead of following the freeway, it will cut over to Paine Field. It is controversial, but in my opinion, any option is bad. Following the freeway is bad because you get very few riders along the way. The so called diversion is the right idea, but with only a few stops, and very little development, I don’t see how it will work out. Everett is just too tiny for light rail.
Taking Link from the Tacoma Dome to downtown Seattle will take longer than Sounder. Unless there is heavy traffic, the bus is the fastest option. The only time in which Link can compete with the bus is during peak hours, when Sounder runs. Thus Link will be the slowest option all day long (unless there is a problem on the freeway or Sounder).
This is just the nature of mass transit systems. It is why agencies usually don’t run subway lines out to distant suburbs or cities. Even in really big cities (like New York or London) the subway lines don’t go out that far. They do take advantage of existing rail and run longer distance trains (like Sounder) and they run express buses.
Subway lines are best for shorter distances, where lots of people are getting on and off at every stop. This is almost always close to the city center (it is in our case). Express buses are better for when almost everyone is headed to the same destination (e. g. downtown).
For example, if you ride Link from Northgate to Rainier Valley, you will see lots of people getting on and off at each stop. In contrast, if you took the 512 from downtown Everett to downtown Seattle, lots of people get on, but very few get off before the UW. Very few are going from Ash Way to Everett, let alone Ash Way to Mountlake Terrace. This travel pattern — this contrast between urban and suburban transit use — is true all day long. This isn’t just anecdotal observation — the stop data reflects this.
“The Everett diversion is the routing of Link over to the Everett airport.”
You meant to say Paine Fieid obviously, which is also known as the Snohomish County Airport and is in unincorporated SnoCo, not Everett.
“Express buses are better for when almost everyone is headed to the same destination (e. g. downtown).”
The buses get caught in traffic. And whenever there’s a collision or car breakdown, which happens almost every week, it blocks buses as well as cars. Those are the main reasons suburbanites are screaming for Link.
According to ECB’s article Rogoff stated 40% of riders the fare ambassadors encountered refused to provide identification:
“Forty percent of the people that the fare ambassadors are encountering are refusing to even identify themselves,” he said. “You need to monitor that see how we can improve on it. Because you can’t have a first, second, third, fourth or fifth warning if we don’t know who you are. And 40 percent of the folks won’t even cooperate at that level. That’s going to make this a very, very tough slog.”
This suggests to me non-fare paying riders are becoming a higher and higher percentage. It wasn’t long ago ST claimed only 3% of riders were nonpaying. Now it is up to 30%. Granted total ridership is down significantly, especially the peak commuter, but going from 3% to up to 30% with 40% of riders encountered refusing to identify themselves tells me this problem will escalate.
A 40% recovery rate after East Link, FW Link, and Lynnwood Link open is never going to happen because the ridership estimates were inflated (and the Seattle Times noted the highest farebox recovery rate pre-pandemic was 33% so the chart in ECB’s article is different), so even a 100% payment rate will be inadequate if all peak riders return.
ST can’t have a large loss of commuter riders leave Link, and then have 30% or more of the remaining riders not paying. I disagree with AJ farebox recovery is not significant and general fund revenues will make up any difference. Otherwise, I doubt Rogoff would be ringing this bell (because ST looks a lot better if the drop in farebox recovery is simply due to Covid rather than ST’s decision to not use turnstiles or the decision to eliminate fare enforcement) or ST would not have adopted a 40% farebox recovery rate in ST 2 and 3, and invented such inflated future ridership estimates, which was designed to lower general fund tax increases until ST 4 could pass.
I just wish the Ambassadors would prioritize talking to the maskless riders, and educating them on where the mask dispensers are. It might then occur to them that there ought to be dispensers on both ends of the LRVs, and the dispensers may need refills during the day.
That said, I consider a NIOSH-approved N95 mask (and being boostered) essential for riding the 1 Line safely, for the time being.
The ambassadors can do both tasks at once. Sure, about half of the maskless may then spew some baloney about this or that imaginary right, but then they risk arrest, with or without showing ID. The ambassadors should move on and get away from them, but summon the transit police to come deal with those endangering the safety of other passengers. Pull out the walkie talkie at a safe distance, and let the passenger overhear the conversation. Watch the passenger depart at the next station or pull out a mask to put on. In most cases, the police won’t even have to come. The ambassadors will win that game of chicken. The rest of the riders on that LRV will be grateful.
Those problem children who refuse to obey laws they can easily comply with by accepting a free mask have given up their right to privacy. Their unmasked smirk is not hidden on an RFD.
Honestly, the masks on board the trains are so leaky around the corners, I’m not sure how much COVID is really being prevented by going after the 5% of passengers wearing nothing and making them wear a mask that’s not much better than nothing.
Those who do want to protect themselves can and should wear an N95 or equivalent, and we now know that a well fitted, high quality mask protects the wearer, regardless of what others are doing.
But, I think we’ve reached the point where people should focus on doing the things they can control to protect themselves from the disease and quit worrying about others. If someone wants to be stupid, refuse vaccination and go out in indoor public spaces with no mask, and has to be put on a ventilator, it’s their own fault.
I find the blame-the-unvaccinated narrative both counterproductive and not supported by data, at least here in King County.
We have about 310K residents who still haven’t gotten their first COVID shot, out of a population of 2260K. Armchair math shows that almost 40% of the unvaccinated here are under 5, and therefore not eligible for vaccination yet. Their vaccines are hopefully coming in the next couple months, but we aren’t there yet. About 35% are kids 5-15 whose parents apparently haven’t given them permission to get vaccinated. Less than 25% are adults who, of their own choice, have not gotten vaccinated. I certainly don’t think public health policy should be designed around letting that set of people get COVID and die. I think it should focus more on protecting the other 75% who are unvaccinated through no fault of their own. And, of course, protecting everyone else who is doing their patriotic duty to protect themselves and their neighbors.
btw, We are not out of the woods yet. Keep an eye on BA2, which is even more contagious than the original omicron. Omicron turned out to be mild, for most of the vaccinated, but still quite nasty for the unvaccinated. If you are a parent who has chosen not to get your children vaccinated, please realize how much you are putting their lives in danger. Consult your pediatrician. If you want to cite religious objections, listen to some clear-headed thinking about how getting vaccinated is the pro-life decision.
You don’t have to do the math by age group — that same website lists that. In terms of people who are completely vaccinated in the county:
5 and older — 83%
12 and older — 87%
16 and older — 88%
That looks pretty good, but only because the rest of the country is doing so poorly. It still isn’t as good as it should be. A lot of people are just now getting around to getting a shot (notice how the numbers for “1 dose” is significantly higher).
Either way, I definitely blame the unvaccinated. The disease has overwhelmed hospitals only because people have been too stupid, stubborn or lazy to get a shot. As a result, a lot of people have suffered or died that shouldn’t have. I’m not just talking about people who didn’t get the vaccine, but others as well. If a hospital is overwhelmed, then people don’t get routine checks, and they die. Men like Robert LaMay (and the people who cheered him on) were responsible for the deaths of countless innocent people. I wish he had repented long before he suffered such a miserable, pointless death, but I feel the same way about Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi. No, I’m not saying they are equivalent, but I’m saying the situation is somewhat analogous. At least LaMay didn’t kill his children before he died (so there is that).
Concrete workers have been on the receiving end of the gig economy, and ST has used contracting-out as a cost savings of first resort since its inception. I don’t begrudge the concrete workers for playing their advantage when they finally get their turn to do so.
That said, I wish ST would look harder for a supplier of the newer forms of concrete that absorbs CO2 out of the air during production. I bet it is cheaper than building more wind farms to offset the emissions from traditional concrete production.
Amtrak ran a crew re-certification train between SEA and VAC today. Could be something; could be nothing. But it’s the first real sign of progress towards some form of service restoration north of Seattle.
Hope springs eternal.
“Arkills said Metro’s long-range plan already includes some concepts – such as suggesting that the RapidRide H Line would continue on from Delridge to Admiral and Alki once light rail eliminates the need to take it downtown.”
Oh really? I thought the 2016-2020 long-range plan had RapidRide H continuing downtown forever. If Metro is now thinking about rerouting it to Admiral (and Alki please!), that’s interesting. I wonder what Delridge residents will think when they hear about it. It’s not certain that people will be satisfied with taking a bus one or two miles and then waiting 5-10 minutes to transfer to a train they’ll only be on for another ten minutes. That’s an issue with the 21, which will have no alternative if it’s truncated at Avalon Station. Before now, H riders could continue taking it downtown, and C riders could take the Fauntleroy-WSJ-SLU express Metro’s previous LRP had. But 21 riders had no alternative, and if the H is changed like this, H riders would have no alternative either.
I thought Metro had planned to serve Admiral with a C reroute on Alki-Admiral-WSJ-WV-Burien. If it’s now attaching Admiral to the H, what will the C do? Or will it disappear completely?
“(We later found that on the “RapidRide 2050” map on page 48 of the Metro Connects plan.)”
You can read that map? I see just a spaghetti of street segments, with no indication of where routes would go or where they’d turn. It reminds me of Metro’s 1980s maps.
“Who wouldn’t agree that people who can afford hundreds of dollars for sports tickets and beer should cough up $3 for the train?”
In Germany a sports or convention ticket doubles as a transit pass for the day. It’s probably included in the cost of the ticket. King County and ST could arrange for that here. Fare inspectors are already accepting Link paper tickets, so a well-known sports ticket isn’t much of a stretch. Especially if it has an ORCA logo or something to make unambiguous that it’s transit fare.
They have it for Krakens games, right? Do any other sports tickets come with free transit in the area?
All that about Bellevue and Mercer Island is what’s been happening for decades. It’s one of the reasons I no longer live in Bellevue.
I didn’t know what Bellevue’s planned office:housing ratio was so I didn’t know it was so out of whack. There should be a similar number of housing units as office spaces, so that people could at least theoretically live and work in the same city. Of course some people won’t, but the aggregate numbers should match. You can subtract some for the Medinas and Kirklands of the world, but people shouldn’t have to commute from Bothell or Lynnwood to Bellevue because Bellevue doesn’t have enough housing for its workers.
I assumed the Spring District was going to be balanced, because the whole point of an urban village is to have both housing and jobs so that, again, people could theoretically live and work and shop in the same neighborhood. As I mostly did in the U-District. I did leave it for work, but other than that there were years when I only left the U-District/U-Village area once a month or so, and went to Northgate once or twice a year for things that weren’t available in the District. I was hoping the Spring District would be at least partly like that. Downtown Bellevue has grown enough that it’s probably feasible there.
I’ve always advocated upzoning Surrey Downs. There’s no excuse for having a single-family neighborhood so close to downtown, not when the city is no longer a small town. Chicago, New York, and other pre-WWII cities didn’t grow like that, protecting single-family neighborhoods right next to downtown. It’s obscene, making everybody else leapfrog over a few privileged houses, and unable to walk to the destinations that might have been in that walkshed.
or at least upzone near the transit centers/train stations.
of course, Bellevue already has -Those Kinds of People-.
I’m not so sure I want to be living next to them.
Karen From Hell.
Re: the State Supreme Court deciding whether fare enforcement is an “unconstitutional” violation of riders’ privacy, the fact is that “privacy” doesn’t exist on PUBLIC transportation, and the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled many times that “there can be no reasonable claim to privacy in a public place.” Privacy, contrary to common belief, does not mean merely being “left alone” by others. Actual privacy is a fleeting, temporary state in which one cannot be either seen, heard, nor interacted with in any way. So long as one is in a state of privacy, they have a “right” to privacy, but that right is not transferrable to places where privacy doesn’t exist. If you can be seen, heard or interacted with by anyone, you are not in private. Certainly, a public bus or street car is not a place where privacy exists. This ploy of claiming otherwise in order to justify doing away with fare enforcement is simply more “woke” nonsense aimed at allowing people to get away without paying the fare. If left unchecked, fare revenues would eventually fall to a level at which service cannot continue.
I’m not sure what your point is here. Skimming cell phone data in a public place, even for the police, is illegal without a warrant. the issue isn’t the nature of the place, but of the inspection. Individuals employed by the government, even if by contract, cannot employ invasive and pervasive searches without a warrant. A physical inspection is one thing, but electronic inspection, including magnetic strip readers, is another. Nobody has to agree with me here though. We are not a monolithic hive mind. But this has seemed a relatively obvious issue to me since the rolling out of ORCA. It does not surprise me that this court case exists. In fact, my only surprise is that it has taken this long.
If government can require a driver’s license to drive a vehicle, why not require a “transit rider’s license” too? Police can request a driver’s license for all sorts of minor reasons. I know it sounds like an administrative headache, but it seems like it would be a legal thing to require.
That changes nothing. The police can’t use RFID readers on your driver’s license. They can look at it, sure. But nobody is saying a fare inspector can’t look at your ORCA card.
A Joy, then do away with ORCA purses and day passes. Make everyone who uses ORCA buy a new one-month pass every month. They can subscribe so they don’t have to stand in line at the TVM every month. Anyone who wants a single-ride or day pass buys a new ticket for that ride/day.
Then no “inspection” of the pass is needed. You either hold a pass/ticket that’s valid for the ride you’re taking or you don’t and you get booted.
Now this would make the “revenue sharing” element of ORCA difficult, but you get by that with custom passes. If someone gets on a local Metro or CT bus and changes to Link they would buy a combo pass on which the two agencies negotiate a revenue split.
I wouldn’t mind the extra hassle of purchasing a ticket if it means that the trains will smell better and have less human effluvia on the floors.
Good news for Amtrak! Airlines are totally giving up on protecting the safety of their passengers and employees. This could also be good news for the climate.
Yes, I see your point, and where it concerns one’s data, you’re right. However, there is, nevertheless, a widely held belief by many who ride public transportation that they somehow have “privacy” while doing so. There is, in fact, even a placard posted on Metro buses, outlining the rules riders are expected to follow and, contained within this list is the admonishment to “respect the privacy” of the other riders…on this public transportation. There is a clear dichotomy between “public” and “private.” Where our data, including Orca card data, is concerned, this is hardly “private” information, as it is on Metro’s servers and is shared with Metro. Like any end user license agreement, it is expected of all passengers that they will abide by Metro’s rules, not the least of which is the perfectly reasonable expectation that the riders will pay the fare for their service. When there have been fare police on board to do the occasional spot check, it is hardly any “invasion of privacy” to randomly ascertain whether people are paying to ride. In fact, I think it’s a sad commentary on the society we live in that the need for this even exists. People know what is expected of them and if their intent to defraud the system has gotten so out of hand that the operating budget is being affected, it will eventually impact all who use the service. There is a tacit agreement anyone who boards the bus is making that they will at least pay the fare.
I think it would be a bit redundant, as there is an imlicit agreement to pay the fare that everyone makes by boarding the bus. Even if your idea of a transit rider’s license was to be enacted, though, there would still be the need to somehow verify that passengers have the required license. This could be done electronically upon boarding (i.e, a scanner could read the license as one passes through the doorway), which would be unobtrusive to the riders, in that, no one would be singled out or humiliated, and of course, it would save to cost of hiring fare police. As for enforcement, since the data collected could be sent to Metro, they could bill any offenders and, if the offender doesn’t pay the bill, then their license to ride would be revoked. As for how to deal with revoked licenses, it’s hard to come up with a technological means of snaring the offender without drawng attention to them.
The RapidRide G line construction has apparently unearthed remains of the streetcar line that used to run down Madison. For the people who think that streets are for cars (and not streetcars), it might be worth considering what came before cars…
Wasn’t that a cable car? It would be cool if they can recover some pieces for station art.
You are correct, it was originally a cable car, like the Yesler line. However, the eastern end was converted to streetcar beyond 14th Avenue fairly early, presumably using the Pike/Pine Street pathway to downtown. Here’s a Wikipedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madison_Street_(Seattle)
We seem to be at a juncture where someone like Joni Earl is the answer.
Yes, ST’s financial situation is as close to 2000 as it has ever been since.
The cost of collecting fares is also not included in the reported fare recovery rate, which is revenues/allocated costs for, in this case, light rail. However, some of the costs in the denominator are these costs to collect fares, which should rightfully be deducted from the numerator and include things like: 1) Costs to acquire, maintain, and collect information from ORCA machines; 2) For buses: costs to acquire, maintain, transport cash (armored car service), count cash, separate and apportion tickets to their applicable agency; 3) ORCA system costs (fare media acquisition/storage/distribution, programming of system for each agency’s fare policies, fare allocation between agencies for shared trips, troubleshooting, equipment maintenance, other backend operations, commissions for sellers, customer service staff, etc.); 4) fare policy staff and management, who discuss regional fare policies with their counterparts in other agencies; 5) fare ambassador staff and management; 6) data analysts and managers to report on revenues; 7) for buses, dwell time for the vehicle sitting and waiting for on-board payment, plus the fumes; 8) the cost of buying, installing, maintaining turnstiles would be additional costs of fare collection.
It’s far past time for the transit agencies to report the true farebox recovery rate, which is net of all expenses it takes to gather said fares.
This is from The Wire today:
“Tuesday’s house-of-origin deadline left some major proposals on the Legislature’s cutting room floor. The deadline, for House bills to clear the House and Senate bills to clear the Senate, is the latest of a series of procedural hurdles to confront would-be changes to the law. The last few days featured extended debates over controversial bills, and ultimately all that arguing and procedure ate up the available time, leaving dozens of bills stranded on the House and Senate floor calendars. Bear in mind that there’s a huge loophole: Budget bills and things deemed necessary to implement the budget are exempt from most of these deadlines.
“Today we’re looking at a few key things that died, a few key things that passed, and some interesting bridge politics that played out in Senate Transportation this week.
“2. Controversial middle-housing bill dies in House”
“One of the most hotly contested bills of the year was a proposal to force cities to allow various forms of in-fill density in neighborhoods currently zoned for single-family houses. House Bill 1782 is full of complex details, but the gist is duplexes would have been allowed nearly everywhere, with denser modes of housing allowed close to frequent transit service. For a deep dive into the policy, we’ll refer you to this piece by Melissa Santos over at Crosscut.
“In any case, the idea isn’t happening this year; the bill died on the House floor calendar Tuesday afternoon.
“This policy has been a goal of low-income housing advocates under the argument that single-family zoning is a legacy of racist red-lining and other exclusionary policies that contributes to sky-high housing prices. In recent years, the cause has also been taken up by environmentalists who see it as a way to drive up transit use and drive down, well, driving.
“In opposition, there’s a lot of heartburn at the local level from homeowners disinterested in living with more neighbors and less parking. City governments also tend to oppose the idea as undue interference in their local planning processes.
“Proponents of the idea had hoped that this was their year. Gov. Jay Inslee embraced the idea, and a coalition of unlikely bedfellows — think low-income housing advocates, market-rate construction firms, and the lobbying juggernaut that is the Washington Association of Realtors — emerged to push for it.
“But ultimately the cities, which collectively have enormous lobbying clout, prevailed. The bill as originally proposed covered cities of 20,000 or more. That’s more than 70 cities, ranging from Seattle to Silverdale in size and from Bellingham to Walla Walla in geographic reach.”
1. Another chunk of Inslee’s green-building package dies.”
“Another piece of Gov. Jay Inslee’s push to reduce carbon emissions from buildings died at Tuesday’s deadline. As we noted in The Sunday Observer a couple of weeks ago, a sweeping bill aimed at this issue died last year, and the most controversial piece of this year’s package expired at the policy committee cutoff.
“The latest casualty is House Bill 1767, which would let publically-owned electrical utilities offer incentives for consumers who want to swap gas appliances such as furnaces for electric alternatives such as heat pumps. Gas companies loathe that idea because it would let big utilities such as Seattle City Light, Tacoma Power, and the Snohomish PUD woo away their residential customers.
“The bill was a victim of an escalating intramural fight between powerful interests that are influential with majority Democrats. Greenhouse gas emissions from buildings rank close behind transportation emissions, and the natural gas burned in those buildings has become a major target of environmentalists. But much of the work to install and maintain thousands of miles of gas lines and the associated plumbing and other infrastructure in the buildings themselves is done by workers in a handful of powerful and politically active unions.
“If you want a taste of that fight, check out the Op-Eds we ran on the Wire from the “yes” side https://washingtonstatewire.us9.list-manage.com/track/click?u=98631d04603e183bb8fcab115&id=6a1605249b&e=a1fc21208dand the “no” side https://washingtonstatewire.us9.list-manage.com/track/click?u=98631d04603e183bb8fcab115&id=cc3d189f38&e=a1fc21208d.
“The remaining significant green-buildings bill, House Bill 1770, gets at the issue via the state’s building code system, essentially forcing the installation of electrified appliances instead of gas in new construction. That bill passed the House 51-47 on Saturday on a mostly party-line vote. A handful of Democrats in swing districts voted no. It gets a hearing in Senate Environment, Energy and Technology on Thursday, where you can expect the fight to resume.”
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