Some more excellent reporting from Lizz Giordano…
Her earlier piece from last October:
“These follow recommendations from a 2019 risk assessment that also included reducing light rail speeds along the busy arterial to meet current vehicle limits of 25 mph.”
Passengers’ time and the quality of transit are also important. The right thing to do is to lower or elevate the train so it can run at full speed, not make it as slow as a coverage bus.
I think we can learn to live with an extra minute of travel time along MLK. The difficulty will be in re-timing the traffic lights.
Also, UW already has a 25 mph slow order for the UW-UDistrict tunnel segment.
From the October piece following the latest fatalities…
“Sound Transit considered gates for the Rainier Valley section, but they were deemed infeasible when the line was built.
““While they were considered for the Rainier Valley, they were rejected due to the amount of space and additional property acquisitions that they would require, as well as concerns about the volume and frequency of noise in residential and commercial areas,” said John Gallagher, a spokesperson for Sound Transit. “Pedestrian gates may be more feasible, but we are continuing to look at the effectiveness of these gates.”
“Sound Transit continues to conduct safety studies along the corridor. In 2017, the agency noticed an upward trend of near misses with pedestrians at several intersections in SoDo and the Rainier Valley. From that, more signs and pavement markers are being added by the agency.
“After the July collison, Sound Transit launched another study, this time analyzing crash data, according to Gallagher.
“In the “Final Accident Report,” Metro recommends Sound Transit explore additional safety measures.
“When asked if that included gates, Jeff Switzer, a spokesperson for Metro, said that could “include physical or operational changes along the alignment. Those decisions are Sound Transit’s to consider.”
“He declined to answer further.
“Metro also advises the light rail agency to require the use of horns at all grade crossings in the Rainier Valley. “[Light rail operators] are disinclined to use horns as standard practice along MLK corridor,” the report said.”
In an odd way, one has to admire the chutzpah of ST spokesman Gallagher and his dubious rationale. I guess he’s working for the right organization.
This whole scenario reminds me of the lackadaisical attitude the MBTA in Boston has taken with its Green Line branches and their safety record.
Fascinating article from a little over a decade ago by Erica Barnett comparing pedestrian vs car incidents and light rail on MLKing Way and Rainier Way.
I’d be interested to see a comparison of auto vs pedestrian incidents and fatalities on MLKing Way before and after Link.
I knew from the beginning that a surface alignment would inevitably cause collisions and deaths. That should be part of the cost estimate for the alternative. It costs ST money when it has to interrupt the line for a collision. It costs passengers time and makes transit less attractive. It makes people miss their airline flights. The child who was crushed or the drunken tresspasser or daredevil truck driver loses the rest of their life, and society loses them. These should all be added to the cost of the alignment, both direct costs and estimated intangible costs. That would avoid making a surface alignment look artificially cheap.
Before Link, MLKing Way was a high speed bypass for I-5.
There were some serious accidents, back then. One involving some young children, I remember.
My question is, has Link affected those accident statistics for cars, and how much shifted to Link accidents?
When they were doing the scoping meetings on the initial system, I attended every one of them.
ST was leaning towards the lower cost option: at-grade.
The community comments were split between tunnel and at-grade. No one wanted elevated.
Why pretend Link is the cause?
I’m all for grade separated, but I also think old RR and Interurban ROWs provide safer corridors because they operated in generally exclusive ROWs.
I remain puzzled why the Link tracks on MLK are so porous. There is often only a very low curb separating the train from traffic.
There are plenty of things — low fences, lights that brighten or flash in the pavement when a train approaches, maybe some gates — that could raise train visibility. I suspect that a decent percentage of accidents are caused because the car drivers or pedestrians simply do not see the train.
Here’s some random thoughts on MLK Way safety:
Maybe people could pay more attention to the trains if they weren’t having to watch out for the speeding cars. Car capacity was maintained even though the speeding suggested car lanes could have been trimmed down. How about replacing some of the car space with protected bike lanes?
Alternatively, instead of talking about keeping the train faster than the cars (a generally bad idea, since cars mostly assume they are not speeding if they are going as fast as the train), and faster than the bus (route 106), why not give route 106 a dedicated lane? (and eventually 1-Line frequency befitting its role connecting what density and business districts there are in Skyway to the train and Mt Baker TC.
Perhaps a cycle track on the west side and a bus lane on the east side?
Slow down the general car traffic so pedestrians can focus on the train.
Also, get the State Legislature to allow the expansion of the concept of school zones to pedestrian zones in general, with a color of paint on the asphalt since the signs are often hard to notice. Maybe something like diagonal yellow stripes for the duration of the zone, starting with the streets adjacent to light rail stations, and then add light rail crossing zones for pedestrians just wanting to cross the track in between stations.
Light rail was a boon for north-south pedestrian access and safety. Now is a good time to focus on east-west pedestrian access and safety.
Bothell’s mayor wrote a truly excellent twitter thread on land use and transportation, laying out why endlessly expanding roads and parking creates an feedback loop that leaves everyone no better off.
A couple, who both have high-paying Eastside tech jobs, can’t afford a townhome or house in Bellevue? Something about their story doesn’t make sense.
Yeah, Bellevue allowed tens of thousands of new desks to get built in its downtown but didn’t allow tens of thousands of new housing units. That’s the part that doesn’t make sense.
Bellevue imitates Seattle.
It is when condos cost over a million dollars.
Bellevue is going after high tax-paying jobs and ignoring the corresponding housing demand. That shouldn’t be allowed.
The controversy over Lake City and Ballard-Fremont not being PSRC urban growth centers revealed a loophole in the process. King County defines the criteria for its growth centers, and it’s based on the amount of zoned job capacity. Urban centers are expected to have housing too but that isn’t codified. Kirkland and Issaquah dutifully zoned growth centers with the minimum number of jobs in order to make them must-serve by Sound Transit, but they skimped on housing because it was optional. Lake City and Ballard-Fremont have a more even balance of jobs and housing, and that makes them more effective urban centers, but they don’t have enough jobs to meet the treshhold. Even though it’s obvious that they have a lot of jobs and it’s theoretically possible to both live and work and shop in the neighborhood without leaving it — the goal of an urban center. The county should either modify its formula or give exceptions to Lake City and Ballard-Fremont.
What I didn’t know until an article this month is that Bellevue is also skimping on housing in its urban villages. I assumed the Spring District was balanced, and that any lack was just because it wasn’t finished. But it looks like there will be a long-term housing shortage for all the jobs coming to Bellevue. That’s not right, and shouldn’t be allowed.
Mike, with East Link all the Bellevue workers can live near Judkins Park. Seattle could use the revenue.
The reality is I think there will be fewer workers in the Bellevue towers than expected pre-pandemic, depending on the migration from Seattle, and many already lived on the Eastside but are transferring offices from Seattle.
Tens of thousands of new workers are not moving into the region or Bellevue, and will not need new housing on the Eastside. They already live on the Eastside.
Take the PSRC’s 2050 Vision Statement with a big pinch of salt. It is based on 2018 data and was obsolete when adopted. The 2050 Vision Statement acknowledged the pandemic undermined many key assumptions about transit and TOD in the Vision Statement (which at the time of adoption many thought would be over in 2021, and fails to account for EV’s although EV’s are major planks of Biden’s and Inslee’s climate plans).
The PSRC said it would revisit the 2050 Vision Statement but hasn’t, because it was always a political document.
TOD makes little sense if regional population growth is less than 1%/year, people can work from home and commute sparingly, there is little traffic congestion, and the differential in carbon emissions between urban and suburban areas is eliminated by ending commuting to work in urban centers. The four county area including Kitsap Co. is already zoned for millions of SFH’s but the land is unbuilt upon.
You can’t make people do what they don’t want to do, and the market usually finds a way to let them do what they want to do. That is the technology to work from home.
The big issues now are how to revitalize urban centers with the loss of the commuter, and how to allocate transit without the farebox recovery from the commuter. Even the PSRC can’t make people commute on transit if they don’t have to commute.
Downtown has additional problems, which is the real reason for the huge increase in jobs in Bellevue, but most of those are workers who already live on the Eastside who want to work on the Eastside.
Way too much policy has been based on inflated regional population gains over the next three decades. We will be lucky if regional population doubles in 30 years, and even then current trends suggest de urbanization, especially of the workforce in a four county area larger than many states with very little density.
The reality is all those commuters did not like riding transit to work, and they don’t want to live in TOD next to transit stations and freeways. and no one can make them with WFH and employees at such a premium. The market will sort it out no matter what a 2050 Vision Statement says that was obsolete in 2021.
Mike and Nathan, you are answering a question I didn’t ask. I didn’t ask why housing construction isn’t keeping pace with office construction in dt Bellevue. I’m asking why a couple that presumably makes a minimum of $250/yr can’t afford a $400k Bellevue condo, which I’m looking at right now on Zillow.
Is that $400K condo still on the market? How many others at that price are available? Will there be enough condos at that price over the next 5-10 years for 40,000 added workers when they come? Or is it part of a dwindling supply of older units that will become an ever-smaller share of the market as the population increases and old buildings are torn down?
Seattle had lots of under-$1000 apartments and some $120K condos until it didn’t. The change occurred right after the Amazon wave hit. There had been slack in Seattle’s market since 1960s population decrease, but the Amazon wave finally squeezed the rest of it out. Again, it’s because the housing supply didn’t keep up with the population increase. In the mid 2010s Seattle was building 9 housing units for every 12 added jobs, so it was falling further behind by a quarter each year. You’ll say that not all of them want to live in Seattle, and some will insist on larger houses in the suburbs. But in aggregate there are probably an equal number who want to live in Seattle even if their job is elsewhere, so it’s a wash and we need that number of units.
“Take the PSRC’s 2050 Vision Statement with a big pinch of salt.”
Current Link construction and zoning and recent buildings were based on the previous PSRC vision around 2035. Nobody knew there would be a century-high pandemic. The 1% growth rate, if it’s true, is only a year old and may not persist. The prudent thing to do is continue our plans until/if it becomes certain that growth is slowing longer-term and office space won’t be fully used. We won’t know that until covid becomes endemic and things stabilize.
“TOD makes little sense if regional population growth is less than 1%/year”
TOD makes huge sense regardless of population growth. TOD is what allows a large number of people to live within walking distance of transit stops. The implied mixed-use means some people can both live and work and shop in the same neighborhood, and that people from outside the neighborhood will come to it, thus assuring bidirectonal all-day transit ridership. That’s important not just for transit numbers and revenue, but because it means a larger percent of the population has convenient non-car mobility options.
“he differential in carbon emissions between urban and suburban areas is eliminated by ending commuting to work in urban centers”
Much of the difference will remain. Most trips are non-work trips. Most suburbanites drive for non-work trips even if they commute by transit. Larger, more detached houses take more energy to heat and light. Their residents often have more appliances like a second freezer or a generator or a boat. There’s a one-time cost of extending longer utility and sewer lines and roads to them, and those have to be maintained. There are some countervailing opportunities like solar roofs, vegetable gardens, and electric cars powered by renewable energy, but overall per-capita carbon emissions are likely to remain hither in the suburbs.
“The PSRC said it would revisit the 2050 Vision Statement but hasn’t, because it was always a political document.”
If you’re expecting PSRC to revise it based on temporary pandemic conditions, that’s an unreasonable request. Even if you say normalicy is already starting in 2022, it’s still too new; the PSRC can’t rewrite a vision statement in one year. You can ask it to clarify its timeline and we could judge that.
“The four county area including Kitsap Co. is already zoned for millions of SFH’s but the land is unbuilt upon.”
That’s impossible. Kitsap won’t take the majority of housing and become larger than Snohomish. It doesn’t have the jobs, and the ferries are a bottleneck and near capacity. It’s widely accepted by everybody that the west sound will remain less dense and urban than the east sound, both per the west sound’s preference and because there’s no good reason to change the ratio, especially given the water barriers.
So let’s give Kitsap 20%. Then, do you want to give King the majority? Or split the rest evenly between King/Pierce/Snohomish? Or give Pierce and Snohomish the most and King an intermediate share?
Either way, you didn’t say how many millions, so let’s assume King will get 250,000 minimum. That’s two more cities the size of Renton. If they’re mostly single-family, where would you put them? The only areas with significant amounts of unbuilt land are the far exurbs like Maple Valley, Black Diamond, and the Snoqualmie Valley. One or two New Urbanist developments like Snoqualmie Ridge would hold only a few hundred units, and they may be smaller and less detached than your target demographic would like. And there’s a strong sentiment to keep the Snoqualmie Valley rural, which includes me.
“The reality is all those commuters did not like riding transit to work”
Some of them did, and some found it only a minor annoyance. But that’s life in a large metro area. Single-family houses and driving everywhere don’t scale. Some people who don’t find transit commuting ideal, nevertheless enjoy the opportunity to read or watch TV or work or nap during it, and to be out of the stress of driving in traffic.
“Tens of thousands of new workers are not moving into the region or Bellevue, and will not need new housing on the Eastside. They already live on the Eastside.”
Many of the 2010-era tech workers in Seattle came from out of state, as did the 2000-era wave. There aren’t enough unemployed skilled workers on the Eastside to fill 40,000 new jobs. If the switch from existing jobs, that just moves the hole around and those jobs would have to be backfilled.
It will be interesting if many of those workers live in Seattle, and that would be just fine for me. East Link was always intended to be bidirectional. The bridges and 545 and 550 have been even both ways for over a decade now, and the 255 and 271 are probably similar. The only thing is, Seattle will have to build enough housing to accommodate them, but that’s just more of the existing issue. Seattle has the infrastructure and walkability and mindset to handle a larger increase in housing than the Eastside does. And more Seattle residents means a larger vote share in King County and state and ST politics.
Seattle won’t become a “bedroom community” like Danny Westneat’s Suburban Times article imagines. The businesses in downtown Seattle and SLU may shrink 20% but they won’t vanish, and neither will UW or the First Hill hospitals and research centers. So there will still be a lot of people working in Seattle, and suburbanites commuting to Seattle.
PSRC 2050 vision: “The region will grow by another 1.6 million people” from 2020 to 2050. [“short summary” link] That’s similar to previous PSRC visions that have been pretty accurate: we get a million people every twenty years or so. That’s a 25% increase. Not 100%, and not several million, just 1 1/2 million. We can shrink it if you like, not down to 1% but say to 15%. So reducing the projection 40%.
Going to the full report, section “Regional Growth Strategy”, it distributes the increase into six geography categories. The home page has the numbers. So King County’s “Metropolitan Cities” (Seattle and Bellevue) get 381,000 (reduced to 229,000). “Core Cities” (Kirkland, Bothell, Renton, Kent, etc) get 346,000 (reduced to 208,000). So say we give Seattle and Bellevue an equal amount. That’s 229,000 each (reduced to 191,000). That’s over thirty years, so 38,000 average per year (reduced to 23,000). What’s wrong with that? The current construction rate will supply at least some of that.
Danielites are skeptical of downtown Seattle’s office utilization and people commuting at least a few days a week, and Seattle’s residential base, but the developers are optimistic. They’re assuming any new capacity will be filled in five years even if there’s a short-term gap. Because the population will continue to grow, businesses will continue to expand and be created, and not all of them will want to go to the Eastside or could fit in the Eastside. Seattle’s homeless/crime problem is also short-term: it rose less than two years ago and it might decrease within another two years if the city and county addresses it right and there’s not another pandemic, economic crash, or authoritarian political crisis.
It’s good to be aware of how PSRC future growth is anticipated. My understanding is that the regional growth is an extrapolation of recent growth rates (births – deaths +/- migrations) projected into the future. Then PSRC works with cities and their zoning and future land use to place where those people and jobs go.
What I find missing though is a lack of discussion on different behavioral changes in the future. Many of the current trends (more working from home, more buying electric cars and not paying fuel taxes, fewer punching a 9-5 clock, more home grocery deliveries, more using Uber/Lyft or Via or texting others for rides, more autonomous vehicles providing last mile solutions) have not been fully incorporated into travel forecasts. When it comes to transit, these are particularly important since transit trips in the region are a small proportion of all trips. Even ST3 forecasts assume the obsolete travel behaviors of 2010 or even 2000.
Of course, it seems that using forecasts to make rational decisions is gone anyway. A rational analyst would not recommend going to South Kirkland to pick up 1,100 boardings in 2040 for example. A rational analyst would not propose an Avalon Station now that the revised ridership is so low. It seems we more live in a world of “Baby Jane children” that expect their whims to be met first regardless of the logic.
Daniel, have you been the Issaquah Highlands or Redmond Ridge? Would that be an acceptable model for the single-family growth you want? I would put them closer in and include more frequent transit from the beginning, but they’re a reasonable mixture of single-family, multi-family, and neighborhood retail. And the Issaquah Highlands is TOD, since it’s organized around a major transit stop and designed to allow walking to it and around the community,. Or does single-family housing have to be quarter-acre lots and low-density single-use zoning like Lake Hills, most of Mercer Island, and the area I grew up in east of 164th?
Have no fear, Daniel’s wet dream is still alive and well.
It appears we lead the nation, and it’s even noticed in the other Washington.
But my, my…. someone must rein in ST.
Can we get a summary of that Washington Post article? It has so many popups if you’re not a subscriber that it’s hard to read.
Here’s an excerpt from the linked WaPo piece:
“But eight other states allocated more than two-thirds of their spending to expansion. Among them is Washington state, where the transportation chief warned of an annual maintenance and preservation shortfall amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.
“Washington state officials say their experience illustrates the risks of pumping money into expanding roads and skimping on rehabilitation work. The Post’s analysis shows the state the eighth worst in the country for its share of roads in poor condition, at 27 percent. At the same time, more than three-fourths of the state’s spending on roads went toward expansion — fourth highest in the nation.
“Roger Millar, the state’s transportation secretary, said his agency spends less than half of what’s needed to keep existing infrastructure in good condition and prevent costly deterioration — falling $925 million short every year. That includes maintenance, such as filling potholes, but also what he calls preservation, such as painting a bridge’s deck so the steel doesn’t rust. Meanwhile, billions of dollars’ worth of new roads and other projects are funded by a 2015 hike in the state gas tax.”
One listing at $395K for a 3br 2ba condo in Bellevue 28hrs ago. I’m sure they are looking at multiple offers by now and it will sell way over list. So, even if you’re a qualified buyer you have to win the offer lottery which people play for a year only to find out they are no longer able to compete with prices going up 20%/yr. New construction (condos) starts a $1M for <1,000 sqft.
There's interesting demographics that changed over the decades. Bellevue is aging out. There's a good reference from the city. Virtually no new single family is being added in Bellevue and hasn’t been for 20 years. What new construction exists is tear downs replaced with McMansions.
Bellevue is slowing increasing the size of the SF households. As older people who once had multiple kids downsize new families are moving in to take advantage of Bellevue’s schools. It’s still only about 2/3 of the household size back in the 70’s but is coming back every year. That combined with the number of parents in MF is putting pressure on the school district. Fortunately they didn’t close any of the HS during the lean years but went instead from a three year to a four year format. They finished enlarging and modernizing all of the schools with the exception I think of Big Picture and the International School. And it looks like HS will permanently switch to a hybrid system with a lot of seniors taking advantage of running start.
Bellevue has always had way more commuters than residents that work in Bellevue. With East Link I expect the “reverse commute” to generate more ridership than what was originally envisioned as a way for eastside “bedroom suburbs” to commute to jobs in Seattle.
“Virtually no new single family is being added in Bellevue and hasn’t been for 20 years.”
There’s no empty land left. The neighborhood I grew up in was built in 1965, presumably on farmland. My next-door neighbor was the first on the block. When I moved there in 1983 it was already filled. On 8th between 164th and Northup Way, the apartment complex and a large house development were built while I was there, on top of existing houses, not empty land. Since that’s already the outer edge of Bellevue, there’s no empty land left for greenfield houses, just densification. We could build a New Urbanist neighborhood there, or in Surrey Downs or Lake Hills or any other single-family area. That would be better than Snoqualmie or Black Diamond. There can be close-together houses but the density must increase or you haven’t gained anything.
“What new construction exists is tear downs replaced with McMansions.”
Replacing a house with a McMansion rarely increases the household size from a nuclear family to a Brady Bunch or that movie with an even larger family. (He says, “How many children do you have?” She says, “Eight. How many do you have?” He says, “Ten.”) It merely gives the previous-sized family a mansion.
“Bellevue is slowing increasing the size of the SF households.”
That’s interesting because the prevailing trend has been downward. My neighborhood in the 70s had mostly 4-5 people (2 parents, 2-3 children). Later one-child and zero-child families and one-person homes became common. If that’s now reversing, that may be the birth rate or immigration, but more likely it’s the astronomical cost of houses. One person or a couple can’t buy a house as easily as they used to, so they would think twice about buying a larger one, and only wealthy larger families would.
“Bellevue is aging out.”
Do you mean the median age is older? That’s the beginning of a nationwide trend that will last at least twenty years.
There was one vacant lot right behind my house, where we neighborhood kids used to play chute (sliding down a hill). Then a house got built on it and a couple moved in. That’s one additional house, the only unbuilt lot.
I’m glad to see that people are finally realizing that the 15th Ave NW corridor is the future, and Ye Olde Historic Ballard is the past.
You’re right, Sam. Maybe it is time to figure out how to connect the Burke-Gilman Trail with Ballard Station, and then westward to the other end of the B-G T. If you can’t go through a rock, why not go around it?
Light rail construction solved some long-standing pedestrian safety/connectivity problems on MLK. Maybe light rain construction in Ballard could do similarly for bike path connectivity and safety.
So the future is large parking lots with gas stations and chain stores, while the past is buildings like this: https://goo.gl/maps/38RJPCn2nyg3qm829.
Or by “the past” do you mean in the last five to ten years or so? Fair enough. A lot of those big buildings west of 15th really are the (quite recent) past. It is largely built out, like how so much of Roosevelt will soon be built out. In fact, this essay, explaining quite well how development favors 20th, was also written in the past (almost two years ago — it is freakin’ ancient!). The funny thing is, nothing much has changed. If you read the section about how “20th Avenue is centered on the urban village”, it all remains true, except that there are more brew pubs to the east. The area to the west of 15th is still growing faster than the area to the east. A station at 20th is still much closer to the vast majority of tall buildings. Land uses other than housing also favor 20th. Almost all of the big development east of 20th is happening on 15th or Market. In contrast, the development to the west is on every street, except maybe Ballard Avenue.
Is that your point Sam? That this is the past, and this is the future? Well you got me there, Sam. Ballard Avenue really is old, unlike, say, Bardahl. It is old and dense in ways that 15th never will be. It attracts people in much greater numbers as a result (people are attracted to old architecture and narrow pedestrian oriented streets, not major automobile thoroughfares — go figure). The thing is, it is clear that the areas surrounding the historic buildings in Old Ballard are still growing faster, even though the community is largely built out.
Looking at recent development as well as planned development (https://www.seattleinprogress.com/) there is way more activity around 20th Avenue than 15th. I count three 8-story buildings, three 7-story buildings, and a 6-story building. Along 15th there is one 6-story building, one 7-story building, and a handful of shorter buildings (which Old Ballard has as well, although mostly on the outskirts). The only 8-story building being built close to 15th is close to Old Ballard (is that the past, or the future?).
It’s not just age; there’s a fundamental difference between how buildings streetscapes were designed before universal cars and afterward. The former is walkable, has a wider variety of business choices on a block, and is more aesthetically pleasing and human-scaled. Storefronts are narrow, so more of them fit in one block, and their vertical orientation is pleasing to the eye. We could have continued this when cars became universal, and perhaps put garages at the edge of neighborhood centers, but instead we went in a different direction.
Construction nowadays is large and wide and boxy. It’s designed for cars, and pedestrians are an afterthought. Storefronts are wide, partly to fit a garage behind them, and partly because national chain stores (which didn’t exist in the 20s) like the high visibility and limited competition — but that’s what reduces choice for pedestrians. That limited choice is what makes it unlikely to match Old Ballard, and the aesthetics are uninviting too.
One interpretation of Sam’s comments is hope that the auto-oriented businesses along 15th will eventually redevelop into something better.
The 15th corridor has a much greater upside potential for growth than Old Ballard. 50 years from now, Old Ballard, (much of which is under the control of the Ballard Avenue Landmark District), will still look like the Old Ballard of today. The 15th Avenue corridor will be unrecognizable in 50 years. Skate to where the puck is going …
The 15th corridor has a much greater upside potential for growth than Old Ballard.
Yes, but mainly because what you are calling Old Ballard (everything within walking distance of 20th and Market) has already been built up. Walk in every direction from there and you see density that will never be seen at 15th and Market. Even today there are more big buildings being built around there, while they are building townhouses closer to 15th and Market. Do you think they will tear down high end townhouses fifty years from now? Do you think the industrial areas will be replaced? Get real.
The small historic section along Ballard Avenue is dense, just in ways that aren’t obvious (but Mike explained well). The street is is narrow, and the buildings — while not as high as those in the surrounding area — are still plenty high. It is a real destination, in ways that the area around 15th and Market will never be.
Unless you are a developer, or get your jollies when you see a new building go up, there is no reason to build to the east. Yes, this may spur more development — who cares? A station to the west will serve more people.
Taking a STB break. I am recuperating from a life threatening injury. Ride safe everybody.
I am so sorry to hear that A Joy and hope for a full recovery.
That’s awful. Hope you have a full and fast recovery!
Good luck recovering. I had arm surgery and was away from STB for a bit.
Visited Poland this last week. Was nice, visited Krakow and Warsaw. Definitely interesting seeing how transit works there. Observations I made while there
– TVMs on Buses and Trams are common outside of their older trams from what I remember. With the TVMs either being on the vehicle, at the stop, or both.
-Door Request Buttons, this acts as both a stop requested button and a request to open that specific door on the bus, tram, or metro which I see as useful for keeping trams from getting cold in the winter and dealing with the common issue that I see back home with people yelling “back door” to exit the bus if the driver doesn’t remember to open the back door automatically.
-Mix of Street stops where you walk into the road to the tram (Toronto) or traditional platform stops that reaches curbside.
-Pedestrian friendly generally in the places I was where drivers generally yielded to Pedestrians crossing the road
-Krakow has a good well designed central station that, for the most part is logical, nice shopping center attached that has multiple supermarkets and drugstore stores within the complex, completely indoor complex outside of the bus terminal.
-Warsaw has a good if small metro and extensive tram, bus, and suburban rail network, main thing it badly needs is modernization of stations.
-Appreciate the effort to have BRT like amenities for buses and Trams at major connection points like metro stops
-Coaches are fairly common as there’s not much of a HSR network outside of the Krakow-Warsaw route and the speed of coaches and intercity trains can feel comparable between big cities.
– Cool little tram museum in Krakow if you want to see some well perserved trams from the first half of the 20th century and see it’s evolution.
Visiting Poland from a transit perspective was overall good despite some issues like intercity connections. But I’d definitely enjoy going back.
Thanks for that perspective of Eastern Europe. We’re trying to get a clearer view of transit throughout Europe, where it’s comprehensive, where it isn’t, what works well, and what is failing. This and another report suggest it’s more uneven in Eastern Europe than in Western Europe.
Metro drivers traditionally open the back doors as far back as I remember (1979), or kept them closed, depending on whether the ride free area and pay as you leave were in effect. The ride free area ended around 2012, and then Metro shifted to “Enter front, exit rear” as is the norm in other cities.
In the mid 2010s a new fleet appeared with a green light at the rear door. When the bus stopped the light went on, and that meant you could push a bar to open the door. That’s also the norm in some other cities. But Seattlites couldn’t get used to it: they’d stand at the door and wait for it to open, and eventually someone would say “Push the bar” or “Push the door” and it would open, but it all too more time. I myself kept forgetting, even though I’d used it in other cities, because I wasn’t used to that on Metro. And even if you pushed the door immediately when the light came on, it still took time for the light to come on, longer than if the driver had just opened the door in the first place. So for all these reasons the green light was a failure and drivers went back to opening the back door. The fleets after that don’t have a green light I think.
Random Seattle transit trivia question: I have a vague recollection that, once, a kid who was fascinated with buses, stole a King County Metro bus and started driving the bus route, picking up passengers along the way. I also have a vague recollection that the route was in West Seattle, that this happened a long time ago (1980’s?), and that the kid was eventually caught, but I don’t remember what the ultimate punishment was.
Did this actually happen, or am I remembering wrong. I’m not finding anything obvious through Google searches.
I don’t recall this. Something like it may have happened. If it did happen it was probably a teenager; I can’t see passengers not noticing a preteen or 13 year old and somebody questioning it.
Are you thinking of NYC subway?
Google Keron Thomas. He posed as a motorman at 16. He studied extensively before he did it.
I might be misremembering the city. It’s also possible the “kid” might have been around 18 years old or something.
Supply-chain shortages reach the transit agencies. ($) Both Metro, CT, and PT have a shortage of repair parts for buses, and Metro has a shortage of mechanics. This is on top of the shortage of bus drivers that has canceled some runs. So far the parts and mechanics shortage hasn’t canceled any runs.
“Staffing concerns predate the pandemic, as schools haven’t been pumping out enough trained individuals to replace those retiring, said Getachew. When the pandemic hit, more workers retired early. Some left following the implementation of the vaccine mandate. At 258 workers, vehicle maintenance is currently down 33 employees from what’s considered full staff.”
“Metro increased its service in October, restoring 36 lines paused during the pandemic. But overall ridership remains at just 40% of what it was in 2019. Returning to normal capacity is likely to be slowed by a shortage of both drivers and mechanics; in a presentation to the Metropolitan King County Council last week, Metro leadership told council members that service in March will not significantly increase as had been previously planned.”
Up there somewhere is a discussion about the accuracy of PSRC regional growth numbers, etc.
What is meant by “the region” though when it says “the region will grow…”?
I’ve met people that live in Chehalis and drive to Seattle to work. A huge amount of housing is being built north of I-5 in Lacy. The same type of sprawl is happening northward.
Without adequate housing being built in the region, people will have no choice but to commute from outside the region – wherever that region boundary ends. How much of that is being counted in the planning?
It seems like this deserves a separate thread.
The PSRC’s membership is King, Snohomish, Pierce, and Kitsap Counties and entities within them. So it’s like ST: it’s not responsible for things outside them.
Here is some documentation of what PSRC does:
“ There are 18 external stations in the Puget Sound region. Through trips (classified as E-E trips) are those trips that begin and end outsid ethe region, but travel through the region at some point. These trips were originally created from an origin-destination survey conducted in 1961, and then updated in 1971 during a model update process. Since that time, the external trips have remained relatively constant, while the overall traffic at external stations has grown to match external station counts.
“A through trip table is used to represent external-to-external trip interchange. Passenger through trips are those trips that begin and end outside the region, but travel through the region at some point. These trips were originally created from an origin-destination survey conducted in 1961, and then updated in 1971 during a model update process. Since that time, the external trips have remained relatively constant, while the overall traffic at external stations has grown.”
It’s not clear when the process was updated. It’s also not clear how many workers on these entry points live outside the region (maybe it’s in another summary on the PSRC web site).
Finally, it’s not clear if or how the PSRC forecasts are used in Sound Transit forecasts. The are supposedly in sync but ST does their own forecasting.
Saint Petersburg, Russia subway. Seems like a nice system.
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