96 Replies to “Weekend open thread: East Link testing”

  1. Glad to see that testing for Eastlink is going on. Anyone know how it is progressing? I know the original schedule said it would open in 2023.

    1. The progress reports on Sound Transit’s website say that it’ll open June 30 2023, I’m not sure how closely they’ll stick to that though

    2. From the January 2022 progress report (https://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/documents/agency-progress-report-capital-program-january-2022.pdf):

      “East Link was baselined with 273 days of program float, and
      is currently forecast to finish 42 days behind the target
      Revenue Service Date of June 30, 2023.”

      It’s a long extension and wires are not yet up on the Lake Washington bridge segment. I’m thinking September of next year at the earliest for an opening date. I wouldn’t be surprised if it opens even later than that given the length and complexity of the line.

    3. The concrete strike has delayed materials for three months for all Link extensions as well as highway projects and housing construction. ST is increasingly turning to ghost shipments (non-union drivers) but it’s not enough to supply all the concrete. So we’ll know the opening date when the strike ends.

      1. A construction site next door to me seems to be having no trouble getting concrete deliveries. What are they doing that Sound Transit can’t?

      2. This article about Sound Transit ghost trucks says some of them have the names covered up, as the driver now owns or leases the truck independently. It’s also not ST directly hiring drivers or getting independent supples, but its subcontractors.

      3. If only ST could directly hire concrete drivers, with the blessing of the Teamsters…

        And could deal directly with sourcers of carbon-negative concrete, a process that needs to be majorly upscaled, with all due haste …

    4. From said progress report (in regard to East Link):

      “Critical Path Analysis
      The East Link critical path this month continues to run through track remediation on E130*, which is holding up E750** access to complete OCS and signal installation. Additional deficiencies continue to be discovered, which may result in an even longer path to completion. Other East Link civil contracts continue to be closely monitored for potential impacts to the E750 schedule.”

      *E130 Seattle to South Bellevue – International District Station (IDS) modification, Retrofit of existing WSDOT structures, I-90 Center Roadway and two light rail stations. [Heavy Civil GC/CM]

      **E750 Systems – Light rail systems elements, including Traction Power Electrification, Overhead Catenary System, Train Signals and Communication System. Combined with Northgate Link N830. [Heavy Civil GC/CM]

  2. This past week, Geoff Marshall rides a preview of London’s Elizabeth line central segment (line also known as CrossRail): https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OggrRqn0jSU

    Features to ponder for ST in the video:
    – Automated trains
    – Platform screen doors
    – Rapid fare gates
    – Diagonal “lifts” (elevators)
    – Three escalators grouped together
    – Long transfer tunnels
    – Open gangways (cool visual effect)
    – Screens to review smart card activity
    – Purple high-back seats
    – Branches

    Did I miss any feature that could be considered here?

    Oh, it was supposed to open in 2018 and is still not open. Plus the cost went up from about $20B to just under $25B.

      1. For the deep stations where stairs are next to two escalators, when ridership gets to the point it is merited, make both escalators go up, and let riders arriving outside the station walk down the stairs.

        The arrivals outside the station are a steady trickle, so don’t need as much capacity anyway (and most of the stairs are amply wide for plenty of capacity). That’s why transit agencies that do their homework before building a train system tend to provide two up escalators and one down escalator for each underground station entrance. Stairs work almost as well as the down escalator, do not break down, and have more capacity.

        The arrivals from the train come in large surges, so they really will need the capacity of all the escalators to avoid long waits on the platform to start the vertical portion of the trip. I’m referring in particular to U-District Station.

        For UW Station and Capitol Hill Station, the issue is whether the now-open emergency stairwells should be treated as the preferred downward path. With a good emergency alarm, hopefully people will have their wits about them and be able to turn on a dime and head up again. That’s a lot of stairsteps though, and it even winds me when I try going up those stairs.

        I don’t suppose ST has keys for the station crews to quickly turn off an escalator, hit the reverse button, and turn them into emergency up escalators. All the more reason to get riders at UW and Capitol Hill Station used to using the formerly emergency stairwells as the access path down to the platform, along with elevators, so long as they don’t disrupt vertical capacity for riders with mobility issues. But the emergency alert system needs to work, so riders coming down stairs can turn on a dime and head back up.

        At least start the escalators-up/stairs-down experiment at U-District Station, for proof of concept.

  3. I think East Link’s ridership makeup will look quite different than Line 1’s. Missing will be the large amount of students that use Line 1. A number of schools, from colleges on down, are within walking distance of Line 1 stations. That same can’t be said for Line 2. Line 1 seems built for the airport, commuters, stadiums, schools, commuters, and everyone else. Line 2 seems built for high tech workers, other commuters, and everyone else.

    1. Line 2 is built for the Eastside, so it necessarily serves Eastsiders. Eastsiders are different from Seattleites but that’s neither here nor there. It’s the region’s second economic center and a lot of people go to it, from it, and within it, so it needs a line for the sake of overall transit mobility in the region. Unusual for suburban corridors, travel is even both directions, so it’s a good fit for an all-day bidirectional metro. Half of Line 2 overlaps with Line 1 so your premise is wrong. Both Lines 1 and 2 will serve UW, North Seattle College, Seattle Central College, and Roosevelt High School. Assuming frequent bus extensions, both lines “serve” Edmonds CC and Shoreline CC, and Line 2 Bellevue College — at least it’s easier for more people from more areas to get to them than previous bus routes were/are. So Line 2 is also for everyday trips, not just for tech workers. (And tech workers make non-work trips too.)

    2. Just counting colleges, the 2 Line will serve:
      * the John Lewis Memorial Bridge to North Seattle College
      * The University of Washington
      * Seattle Central College
      * the streetcar that heads to Seattle University
      * South Bellevue Station, where passengers going to Bellevue College will transfer to ST Express 554

      The only colleges the 1 Line will serve uniquely are:
      * Highline College
      * Central Washington University – Des Moines

      When Lynnwood Giant Car Sewer Almost Within Walking Distance of the City Center Station opens, both lines will then serve a river of frequency connecting to Edmonds College. The two lines will, of course, become their own river of frequency, and a reason why Metro ought to be rethinking central and north Seattle bus service in light of the 1/2 Line’s doubled magnetic field.

      For the sake of increasing access to classroom capacity for post-high-school education, ST and CT ought to put their heads together and combine resources to the next iteration of ST Express 512, so it can serve Everett Community College.

      The 1 Line ought to have a RapidRide between Federal Way Twin Towers Car Sewers with a Challenging Walking Non-Path to Federal Way Commons Station and Green River College, and not have to wait years for it to be planned. Or maybe the plan is to have that RapidRide connect to South Federal Way Station. Anyway, RapidRide or not, that corridor needs frequency.

      1. Colleges certainly are attractive transit destinations… I wonder whether that ridership would increase if Bellevue College, Edmonds College and Everett Community College would be connected to their light rail stations via high-frequency gondola.

      2. The 1 Line carries many high schoolers too. Roosevelt and Franklin are very close to stations.

      3. The Link that exists today is within walking distance of numerous amount of schools, from colleges on down. East Link, from Mercer Island eastward, is not.

      4. yes, Mike and Brent.
        SU is also served by the G Line and routes 3, 4, and 12.
        Route 181 = RR bye and bye, serving GRC.
        Newport, Bellevue, Sammamish, Interlake highs in Bellevue and the three high schools in Sammamish, MI, and Redmond will all be one bus away from Link.

      5. “yes, Mike and Brent.
        SU is also served by the G Line and routes 3, 4, and 12.
        Route 181 = RR bye and bye, serving GRC.
        Newport, Bellevue, Sammamish, Interlake highs in Bellevue and the three high schools in Sammamish, MI, and Redmond will all be one bus away from Link.”

        I think one of the great mysteries post pandemic is who will ride East Link, and where will they be going. I know Metro struggled with these questions during the eastside transit restructure, and personally I found Metro to be much more realistic than ST when it came to ridership estimates, which were much lower than ST’s estimates, and much less Seattle oriented.

        Plus some of the major players like Bellevue changed their minds on where commuters from Issaquah and Sammamish should go, and transfer, which is now Bellevue and not MI with the 554 serving Bellevue Way for a one seat ride. Now the idea is to make it hard to get to Seattle for coveted workers, but easy to get to Bellevue. With Amazon now allowing workers to choose their office location this move looks prescient by Metro and Bellevue.

        To say high school kids on the eastside will be just a bus transfer from East Link to school is like saying just about most areas will be a bus transfer from Link, or SU is just a street car from Link. The reality is I doubt many high school students will take a Metro bus, let alone Link, to high school. First many areas like Mercer Island have no bus service to high school (including Metro or school buses) and not many off-Island students are allowed at MI schools so won’t be taking East Link to MI. Second, with two recent HS graduates I know the very first thing they want when they turn 16 is a car, any car (at least on the eastside). Taking a bus to HS is not seen as cool at that age, and anything that allows a few more minutes of sleep is coveted by teenagers. In my family my son when he turned 16 was able to drive himself and his sister to school.

        I do think though that those who live along or south of I-90 taking Link to the UW will be attractive, depending on the transfer. But commuter parking at the UW is around $100 month in the huge lots next to the stadium, and traffic congestion is very low today.

        East Link was designed as early as 2004 as a cross lake commuter line, with a connection to the Microsoft campus. Eastsiders drive unless they can’t, which usually means traffic congestion or paid parking, which means Seattle. Those are still the riders who might ride East Link, but there have been so many changes, although some things remain the same:

        1. The Microsoft demographic has changed. It is older and now more suburbany. Hence the new 3 million sf parking garage. My guess is the ridership on Link from Capitol Hill/Seattle (and you need a transfer if you live in SLU) to Microsoft will be much lower than estimated many years ago.

        2. WFH.

        3. East Link makes sense if you are going from downtown Bellevue to downtown Seattle, except East Link doesn’t really go to downtown Bellevue, no one on the eastside wants to go to downtown Seattle, and ST never considered how to get commuters to East Link on the eastside, and the reluctance of work commuters who really don’t want to be on transit to begin with to transfer. Hence the 554.

        4. More employers going to subsidized parking rather than subsidized Orca cards, which costs about the same especially if staff are rotating in office work days.

        5. Based on the last legislative session the eastside will fight tooth and nail against upzoning its residential neighborhoods, and the eastside mayors are much better organized after the last legislative session when they were caught flat footed, but rallied strong. There will be multi-family areas to be sure, but some like The Spring Dist. won’t cater to a transit audience (and my guess is will favor Uber to Bellevue Way and Old Main Street), and so many others will require a transfer (or two if you are going downtown Seattle).

        I agree with those who think ST’s targeted opening of East Link on June 30, 2023 is unlikely, but I don’t think anyone cares on the eastside about the delay. I will very interesting to see where the ridership is when East Link opens (and I see completely empty 550’s on the bridge span at 9 am on a weekday).

        The other interesting thing I will wait for is the SB 5528 levy in Seattle which will tell us what can be built when it comes to WSBLE (and what the neighborhoods will accept), if the project cost estimates are at all honest, and accept three other subareas simply don’t have more than $275 each for DSTT2.

      6. “ But commuter parking at the UW is around $100 month in the huge lots next to the stadium, and traffic congestion is very low today.”

        This is simply not true. Montlake Blvd moves very slowly for a few hours each weekday. By the time a student walks to parking and gets past the Montlake bridge, they will be able to be at Judkins Park on Link ready to cross on the Lake Washington bridge. All the while, that student can be playing with their smart phone.

      7. Al, my son just transferred back to the UW. He lived with us on MI during January and part of February while he attended classes (which did not go to in– person until late January) until he recently got a place near campus. He drove five days/week to parking lot E-18 (which I am still paying for through the quarter) and back. There is very little traffic congestion according to him. Otherwise he would have had to walk to the bus stop on MI (or use the park and ride which is mostly empty), transfer onto Link, and basically have the same walk to his classes on lower campus from the Link station. He probably saved 45 minutes each way. It may change in the future, but classes have been in session since late January (not all) and so far the absence of the commuter has made even the peak commute to the UW pretty easy.

        If he could take East Link directly to the UW he might if the traffic congestion got worse, but now he basically lives on campus which is where he should be. It is an amazing and beautiful campus, and a great place for a young kid with spring quarter coming and the cherry blossoms blooming. He does like the fact he doesn’t really need a car at school except to come back home.

      8. The UW subsidy for student parking is criminal. They got hundreds of dollars a month, and I got nothing. I was riding my bike half the time and taking the bus the other half. They shouldn’t be subsidizing able bodied kids to drive and park.

      9. two recent HS graduates I know the very first thing they want when they turn 16 is a car, any car (at least on the eastside).

        This is a common suburban phenomenon. But as the East Side urbanizes, you are likely to see more people taking the bus. Kids are generally getting their licenses later than they used to (I know several that waited until they were 18) and besides, you have to wait until you are midway through high school until you can get a license. Again, it is common for mommy or daddy to drive their kid to high school, but it is also common for youth to just take the bus. Given all that, I wouldn’t be surprised if lots of people who attend say, Bellevue High School ride the bus, or some bus/train combination. If I’m not mistaken, the Spring District is within that attendance zone, as well as the entire downtown area (which has plenty of apartments and condos).

        But there will be a lot more college students than high school students riding the train. Bellevue College is big. It is the third biggest college in the state (behind UW and WSU). It attracts people from all over (although especially from the East Side). Many on the East Side will continue to take buses, but a lot will take a bus/train combination. The connection to the other state colleges are important, as it is common for students to take an occasional course at another school (I graduated from South Seattle Community College, but took courses at the other two Seattle community colleges). As mentioned previously, lots of students will take transit to the schools in Seattle as well.

      10. @Daniel — Mercer Island is not typical for the region, or even the East Side. Not any more. I’m not saying there isn’t some truth to what you write, but it is an extreme example. Transit there is very poor, for good reason. It is extremely low density, with extremely high wealth. That is a bad combination. Again, I’m not saying that the East Side isn’t like that in general, but not to that level. I’m sure there are a lot of young people who live in Bellevue, Kirkland and even Issaquah who can’t easily afford a car, but still commute to the UW. Many feel forced to buy one if transit sucks, but it will get a bit better for plenty of people when Link gets here.

        Even the park and ride option from Mercer Island sounds reasonable, especially if his parents stop paying for his parking. It will be a flat 20 minutes from Mercer Island to UW, and most students these days know how to maximize that time (by working on their laptop). So a similar student in the future could very well just avoid the parking mess and take Link. I’m not saying to the same degree as within Seattle, but higher than some expect.

        In general that is why I expect East Link to be pretty good. There will be a mix of uses, which is essential for a good transit system. I don’t expect it to be great, like the downtown to Northgate stretch, but not as weak as most of the ST3 Link plans.

      11. I am pretty sure UW students get free Orca cards, at least today, and bus fares are 80% subsidized from general tax revenues. Bicyclists have no use tax for the roads, and I imagine get free parking at the UW. So I imagine you got a great subsidy taking transit or riding a bike to UW.

        The monthly parking fee for a surface lot at UW on parking lots that would sit empty except for football games at closer to $120/month is about fair market value. The UW makes quite a bit of money from parking fees.

        My son now walks to class (although I paid for parking through March) so technically he is subsidizing bicyclists and bus riders but getting none of the benefits, although he doesn’t seem too aggrieved by it.

        If transit wasn’t so slow, inconvenient, and dirty maybe fewer would drive to the UW. Or move close enough to the UW to walk to school. There was little sense for my son to spend an extra 60 or 90 minutes each school day to take transit to the UW and back when that transit is more expensive than driving and parking, except for the 100% subsidized Orca card.

        I suppose I should be aggrieved at all the subsidies for transit and bikes and the parking fee I am paying although no one is using it, except it is all meaningless compared to out of state or private university tuition. Now THAT is criminal.

      12. I agree, the best commute is a walking commute. I moved from Seattle to Kirkland a few ago specifically because I wanted a walking commute, even though I had a bus option from where I was before.

        But, please quit whining about your son subsidizing bicycles. Your son is not paying a usage fee for the sidewalks either, and the biggest bike facility that serves the UW – the Burke Gilman Trail – is also used by numerous walkers and joggers. The remaining “bike facilities” are basically painted bike lanes and sharrows on the roads, and bike racks on campus, all of which cost next to nothing.

      13. No one is whining about the subsidies asdf2 (except perhaps billions for DSTT2). My point was the UW charging $120/month for surface parking in lots that would exist anyway is hardly “criminal”, let alone a subsidy, especially compared to a free Orca card for students.

      14. Student’s get marginally subsidized ORCA cards. I think they pay for them in their tuition.

        When I worked there, they would give a small subsidy for ORCA, but unless you took the bus more than 3 days a week, which I didn’t, it was more expensive to get it then not get it. So, no subsidy for me. It may have changed in the last 7 years, but I doubt it.

        If you think about the opportunity costs for those parking lots, the subsidy is likely $1000s a month. Those lots are worth tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars developed. It’s honestly absurd they exist at all. There are long range plans for them, for sure.

        That is all besides the point that we shouldn’t be giving a dime to induce driving to UW. We just spent 6 gazillion dollars to drop 2 light rail stations there. And there are 10 thousand buses a minute going through there as well.

      15. Visitors are charged $18 a day, so that’s around $250/mo subsidy for students.

      16. “Bicyclists have no use tax for the roads, and I imagine get free parking at the UW. So I imagine you got a great subsidy taking transit or riding a bike to UW.”

        When I owned a home in Lake City, we owned 3 cars, which I rarely used, and paid substantial taxes on our house that went towards maintaining those roads. Then I again rarely used. I was substantially. subsidizing your drive-everywhere lifestyle in MI.

        Bill is in the mail.

      17. Before Northgate Link’s opened few people realized how many colleges and high schools Link connects together. Its marketing highlighted UW and North, Central, and Highline Collegs and UW individually but not the high schools. People didn’t realize how much grade-school students take public transit to school nowadays, or how many high schoolers take one or more college classes during the day. The school administrators did but few others.

        On Northgate Link’s opening day North Seattle College’s president gave a speech saying it was the college that spearheaded the pedestrian bridge and wanted to connect North to Central and Roosevelt High School. They said Roosevelt students take classes at North. Link can’t serve all high schools but if it happens to serve one, so much the better.

        If you look at why Seattle has so many more schools on Link than the Eastside does, it’s because Seattle has more walkable neighborhood centers, and the schools were located at those centers for that reason. In contrast, Eastside colleges and high schools are in obscure places assuming everybody will drive or take school buses to them. So the Seattle schools are where Link stations would have been anyway, and the Eastside schools are out of the way.

        My high school, Bellevue HS, has a nominal entrance on Bellevue Way with a frequent bus stop, but the campus is isolated on top of a steep hill. Interlake, Sammamish, and Lake Washington High Schools are in low-density areas. Bellevue College is at a freeway exit that local buses have to out of the way to reach, and there’s nothing around it students can walk to. The campus opened in 1969 but it took thirty more years for an all-day I-90 express bus tor each it.

      18. Mike, how about a gondola connecting Bellevue College, Eastgate and Factoria across the Slough with the South Bellevue Link station? I bet it would drive a lot of student traffic heading to other Seattle colleges for classes and vice versa.

      19. Cam, you may be confusing the UPass with parking fees. Here is the link to parking fees (that are part of the link you posted):


        “Daytime parking for student commuters is only available in E18. Parking lot assignments for other permits are based on availability at time of purchase. Additional lots are available for students with disabilities.”

        If you scroll down it notes daytime parking for commuter students is $7/day in E-18, the only lot they can use. For the quarter that worked out to around $120/month or $360-$374/quarter. The main benefit of paying by the quarter is the student does not have to hassle with paying by phone and you have priority if spots are tight. Student residents can park in other lots but I think they pay the same.

        The Orca card is free for full time students.

        The point I was trying to make was that for my son, where we live, walking or driving to the bus stop/park and ride, waiting for and catching a bus downtown to transfer at IDS or Pioneer Square (which I was not too keen on during the winter), and catching Link to UW added about 30 minutes each way since there was so little traffic.

        I don’t think studying on a bus and then train in-between walking to each is productive study time. For $7/day I would much rather have my son use that hour in the library or lab. Since March 2020 I have saved $20/day simply by bringing my lunch and coffee to work.

        Time has value, and hopefully that is something a student learns, or will learn, and something transit better learn. If traffic had been like pre-pandemic, and light rail ran from Mercer Island directly to the UW, then it might have been quicker to take transit, and he likely would have depending on the time saved. The good news is he now lives on 45th and 16th literally across the street from campus. His generation of Juniors have missed this experience due to Covid, and I think this campus experience is critical. (And I will admit he loves the Ave. for Asian food, but he is a pretty big kid).

        My son has zero pro or anti transit in him. Like 99.5% of the rest of the region he chooses the mode of transportation primarily based on time, then convenience, then safety, then cost because even with a free Orca card $7/day for parking is irrelevant when it means an extra hour in the library or lab.

        That is the new world for transit I try to explain to 0.5% of folks who choose mode of transportation (transit) first, despite the other factors, unless it is cost. The transit slave is gone, and there is little traffic congestion, and except for downtown Seattle which is dead parking costs are irrelevant. That leaves the lucrative discretionary rider who is critical to farebox recovery to compete for, and that now means getting them out of their car VOLUNTARILY.

        Transit has to compete post pandemic in a world with little traffic congestion and little parking costs, and that was supposed to be the point of spending, as you put it, gazillions on Link. What my son’s experience shows is areas of discretionary riders east of Lake Washington are going to have real issues with first last mile access to Link, adding a transfer is often a deal breaker (especially downtown Seattle), and outside downtown Seattle it is time, and not parking costs, that are the main factor why someone drives or takes transit. This time factor will only work against Link as you move east of Mercer Island, until ironically you go east enough that one seat express buses across to 520 to UW become very attractive.

        For those who can safely walk to a Link station and take a one seat ride to the UW I would think the free Orca card is a great deal, and I have no problem subsidizing that if that is the best way for them to get to the UW. E-18 parking is not going to be developed because it supports the UW’s athletic mission, for football to basketball to all the Title IX sports. Student parking is simply more revenue for the same lots, and gives students options on how to get to the UW, and I imagine most UW students are smart enough to choose the mode that best works for them, from walking to bikes to buses to Link to driving to Zoom.

      20. As I understand it, U-Pass is essentially ORCA for students, and it’s not free. It is rolled into other costs so they don’t see the bill.

        I think you are right. Your son is making a rational decision. I wasn’t arguing with that.

        I was arguing that UW shouldn’t have a policy of sweetening the deal to push people like your son to make a rational decision that destroys the environment and increases congestion around the university by subsidizing parking.

        If it were $30 bucks a day to park, would he drive?

      21. U-Pass is like an employer pass: the cost is based on the average ridership of all students. It’s a mandatory fee bundled into tuition. Being mandatory also makes it eligible for student aid reimbursement. In the past students could return the U-Pass and opt out of the fee but I don’t think that’s the case anymore.

        The reason U-Pass exists is it’s part of UW’s driving-reduction strategy. This is required both because it’s a large institution and as a condition of campus expansion. UW has expanded heavily since the mid 1990s and U-Pass is part of that. UW staff also get an great bulk discount on ORCA passes; last I heard they had to pay for it but it may be fully employer-paid now.

        U-Pass subsidies are what made routes like the 65, 75, 271, and 372 more frequent daytime and improved access to U-Village. Before U-Pass 25th Ave NE had daytime-only service, the 75 was half-hourly, U-Village had haphazard infrequent service. At some point the 271 became frequent and all-day service was added to N 40th Street; I don’t remember when that was but it may have been related to U-Pass.

    3. As cities get larger they grow more diverse, more kinds of destinations emerge, and people make more kinds of trips. The issue is whether they evolve with robust transit or without it.

      1. Cities also need to be allowed to grow in a way that fosters those kind of trips. Otherwise it just sprawls, making robust transit more challenging and less attractive. This is a big problem in Seattle, but it is worse in the inner suburbs (which is typical). In both cases there are good pockets, but way too much remains homogeneous.

      2. A rail line incentivizes destinations to cluster around its stations. It’s not inevitable but it gives it an opportunity and makes transit more competitive with driving and disincentivizes sprawl. If Forward Thrust had been built in the 1970s, there would have been something to cluster around. Since there wasn’t, there was no advantage to being in any particular location and transit had no advantage over driving, so people and businesses sprawled out everywhere. The only way to reverse that trend is to install the transit trunk that should have been there in the first place. That won’t inevitably reverse it but it makes it more likely.

    4. I think you’re right, more or less. Just to be clear, by “Line 1” you mean Angle Lake to Northgate (and fairly soon Federal Way to Lynnwood); by “Line 2” you mean East Link (Redmond to downtown). If you think of it that way, I think you are right, there aren’t a lot of schools on the East Side connected to this line. It is mostly businesses. There will be commuters (going both directions) as well as midday trips for meetings. But there will also be midday trips having nothing to do with work or school, especially within the East Side, but also across the lake. I don’t think there will be as many as the trips in Seattle (Seattle is just a lot bigger and more urban) but there will be some.

      As Mike pointed out, if you think of “Line 2” as Redmond to Northgate/Lynnwood, then this difference shrinks. You’ve basically just extended the north half of Line 1 to the East Side, giving riders from Bellevue and Redmond some of those connections. For trips from the East Side to Seattle Central and North Seattle College, this will be a big improvement. This is especially true if you are close to station outside of downtown Bellevue (e. g. Spring District to Seattle Central). For UW, it gets a bit more complicated. For some stations you avoid a transfer, but for others the bus might be the best option. From Bellevue College to Seattle Central or North Seattle College should be a lot faster. From Bellevue College to the UW should be a bit faster, even with the transfer and the extra walking. It will feel OK, too — like you are always moving, instead of waiting to catch the bus and then waiting for the bus to get to 520. Getting to Bellevue College from most places in Seattle seems similar (faster, but with an extra transfer).

      Overall, Line 2 will be more commuter based, but not hugely so. I expect plenty of midday trips, just not as many as on the other line.

  4. Has anyone come across the dreaded fentanyl smokers on the train the teevee stations have been warning us about. I ride the train a few times a week, and still haven’t come across them. Nor have I encountered them on my even more numerous bus rides. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    I don’t mean to deny, in any way, the existence of the fentanyl epidemic, or its severity on those who breath in the fumes from or ingest that poison. I’m just not convinced it was a bus or train thang for any longer than the omicron BA.1 spike cleared out most of the regular riders.

    If large numbers of adults can engage in self-harm by neither getting vaccinated against COVID-19 nor wearing masks around strangers, I have no doubt large numbers of adults can be underinformed about the nature of fentanyl, and OD on it, in the privacy of their own homes.

    1. Me neither, though I have a friend who has reported some fentanyl use. I confess that I don’t really know what it smells like, but given the reports of toxicity I would think I would know?

      That said, we don’t ride Link that often but we ride the E pretty regularly, so I would think if it were a serious problem we would have seen it there by now. We haven’t seen any drug use on the E beyond occasional drinking and pot smoking, though plenty of what appears to be dealing happens. That’s no different than the pre-COVID E/358 so nothing terribly newsworthy.

    2. When I first saw an article about it in The Seattle Times I kind of assumed they were over-hyping it – as they often do on things like this. Then just like one week later I saw and smelled it for the first time going into Westlake station after work. The smell is awful, you definitely know it when you smell it – or perhaps I’m especially sensitive to it. Since that first time two or three weeks ago I’ve seen it probably three times a week on my commute from Othello to University St or Westlake during peak commute hours. I’ve never seen anyone doing on the train itself – and I hope I never do because I would probably need to leave because of the smell – it’s always been in stations.

      1. Remember, transit operators are on duty long enough each day, that they will see it more often than you and I. That might be why it has the appearance of being ‘overhyped’.

  5. I’ve spent most of the years since 2000 living in Seattle- almost all of my adult life. I’ve never owned a car during that time, so 99.9% of my trips have been by walking, biking or transit. I’ve been bicycling less in the past 5-6 years, partly for positive reasons, but partially for negative ones.

    On the good side, I don’t think there’s any question that transit in Seattle is way better than it was 10-15 years ago, especially for those living, working, or going to school in central and northeast Seattle. The opening of University Link in Fall 2016, and the accompanying bus restructure, plus the additional service hours were revolutionary changes. I was living in the Wedgewood/Ravenna area at the time and went from having 30 minute headways on the 65, 71, and 372, to having 10-15 minute headways on the 65 and 372 (and continued service on the 71) providing a connection to Link, plus a new east/west route (the 62) with 15 minute headways. And then last fall, Northgate Link opened, with three more stations and better transfers.

    Prior to the opening of U-Link, the bus restructure, and increased frequencies, for most of the trips I made, I could almost always beat the buses on my bike, sometimes by a substantial margin. Put another way, prior to those transit changes, if I wanted to get around the city at a reasonable speed, I needed a bike to supplement my transit use, whereas now I can get around acceptably well just walking and using transit.

    On the negative side, I am biking less than I would like too because I’ve been worn down by how stressful biking in Seattle is. Biking helped keep my physically fit, it can be a lot of fun, and even with the transit improvements, I’d save at least an hour of time a week if I biked more, but having to deal with the impositions of cars is exhausting- watching out for drivers running red lights, making sudden unsignaled turns, speeding, passing too close, opening their door into my path, or even parking or driving in the bike lane makes bicycling exhausting, and I got tired of it. I’d like to get back to bicycling more, but for the past few years, the added stress exceeds the fun, fitness, and time savings. It should be safe, convenient, and pleasant to get around the city by bike, but right now, at least for me, it’s not, and it sucks.

    1. I’m afraid your attitude towards biking is common. I used to bike a lot, but I don’t anymore. It is just too stressful. I find that I almost always have to be in “race mode”. I go fast, try and keep up, and am always looking around to see who could hit me next. It requires a lot of adrenaline, and I’m just too old for that. I find myself sticking to the side streets and the bike paths. The problem is, there are a lot of trips that just don’t work well for that.

      Like transit though, things are getting better, bit by bit. A lot of the improvements don’t effect me that much, but plenty of other people. The path on Westlake is a huge improvement, and there are a lot of people who use that. When Eastlake gets improved it will be similar. There is still a long ways to go before we have something that is comprehensive, and covers most of the city, but you could say the same thing about transit.

      I agree about your assessment of U-Link. The extension to the UW and the subsequent bus restructure was huge. It also happened at a time when overall bus funding was increasing, which helped a lot. The extension to Northgate was also huge, but the restructure wasn’t. A big part of the problem is that funding decreased, or shifted out of the area. There is also no equivalent of the 62. They initially proposed something (a nice east-west bus from Lake City to Greenwood) but that ultimately got replaced with a coverage bus that took over the weakest part of the 26. Folks in the area will have to wait until Lynnwood Link (or longer) before they get good east-west service which would provide a transit network improvement similar to the U-Link restructure.

      1. I find myself sticking to the side streets and the bike paths. The problem is, there are a lot of trips that just don’t work well for that.

        This is something that I wish more people understood about bicycling in Seattle. For any two points, it’s possible to choose a less direct path (spending more time on side streets or bike trails) that reduces contention with cars, but:

        1. It takes time to discover those less direct paths. Most people will start on routes they’re familiar with from driving or riding the bus.

        2. Usually those side streets come with some added problems- the hills are steeper, the pavement is in worse condition, and the streets are narrower, with little or no room to pass cars.

        3. Adding detours to a route can increase the travel time so much that it negates the speed/time advantage that would have made me choose bicycling in the first place.

      2. 2) Illustrates one of the under-appreciated benefits of ebikes. Instead of having to ride on a car sewer to avoid hills, you can just take the traffic-calmed route, and crank the motor up to ascend the steep hills. I have a regular route where I do this to avoid a stressful left turn. With a pedal bike, this route would be impossible without having to walk up.

      3. @asdf2 — That is one of the big selling points to me. I still haven’t bought one, in part because of the cost. For many it isn’t just the cost, but the chance that it will be ripped off. I prefer a bike that is solid, and high quality, but not such high quality that it becomes a magnet for thieves. I think most e-bikes are still worth a lot these days.

      4. I do not put my ebike on the bus – it’s too big and too heavy. But, because of the electric assist, I find that carrying the bike on a motor vehicle is simply not necessary unless I’ve going very far. For example, my door-to-door travel time on the ebike from Kirkland to UW is about 30 minutes, only 5 minutes longer than the 255 bus. To SLU, about 45 minutes. To Discovery Park, about 50-55 minutes.

        If I could, I would have tried taking the e-bike on a Trailhead Direct bus to North Bend to ride the Iron Horse to Snoqualmie Pass, but that’s about it (I have done that trip with a pedal bike, though).

      5. Yeah, that’s a pretty big barrier for me. I often use my bike for the last mile, or 5.

        The only safe way out of Tacoma going N is by transit.

        I actually find taking two ferries, and riding across Vashon is the quickest way to West Seattle, except by car. That tells you our regional transportation network is broken.

      6. @Cam,

        I have taken my RadMini folded up on a Metro bus before. I know RadCity models can be put on front bike racks if they are stock and you take the battery off first.

  6. With so many Link openings between 2023 to 2025, has any company or agency been planning some merchandise to celebrate? Posters? Mugs? Placemats?

    Counting Northgate, there will be six different openings. That’s enough to create a matched set of items. It could be a cool strategy for an artist-entrepreneur to release each item in a set near their opening days.

  7. Just what you were waiting for, the Lynnwood Link restructure. There’s no specific proposal yet, but the list of affected routes is 5, 16X, 20, 28, 64, 65, 67, 73, 75, 301, 302, 303, 304, 320, 322, 330, 331, 345, 346, 347, 348, 372, E, 522, 510, 511, 512, 513, 821, 860, 871, 880, Swift Blue, Access, Sounder, and Link. Phase 2 with “service concepts” will be in Summer-Fall. Phase 3 with a “service proposal” will be Winter-Spring 2023. The King County Council will consider the final proposal Summer-Fall 2023.

    1. I’m glad that this is getting underway.

      I’m paying attention how the additional two transit openings after Lynnwood Link — 522 Stride and 130th/ Northacres Station — will be recognized in the restructure. (I find it odd that Metro seemingly calls Stride a mere 522 change.) In particular, feeder buses are essential to the usefulness of 130th/ Northacres.

      1. I don’t have strong opinions on the name — but with 130th/ Bel-Red coming on line, another name needs to be chosen very soon! I remember when ST was naming Lynnwood Link stations about 2017 so renaming seems overdue. Of course, this is an ST issue and not Metro.

    1. There were four interesting articles or news stories today:

      1. A financial report was issued that estimates $1.1 trillion in write downs for urban commercial office towers due to “obsolescence”. (From my own personal experience, I know the downtown Seattle office market is awash with subleasing opportunities as the large lessees wait for the leases to expire, although I don’t have any data on Bellevue’s market).

      2. Amazon has announced that due to the situation in downtown Seattle it will allow employees who want to or have to work in office to choose the location they prefer. This really should not have come as a shock based on Amazon’s growing presence in downtown Bellevue. Personally knowing several Amazon workers on the eastside they will be transferring to the Bellevue office, but only plan to work in office one or two days/week (except very senior management), which has resulted in the leased Bellevue space (as well as Seattle space) being too much space for the number of in office workers on any one day, so there is plenty of space at any location for any employees who prefer to transfer to work there.

      3. Since most of the world’s nickel comes from Russia, and nickel is a key ingredient in EV batteries, there will be a shortage of EV batteries over the next few years, and EV targets — which were already quite optimistic — won’t be met.

      4. The Seattle Times has a front-page article “Census: Black population shrinks in big cities, rises in suburbs”. According to the article, this “black migration” is based on the same factors as white migration in the 1970’s: schools, affordable housing, crime, and amenities. The article further notes the migration is more of a necessity than a choice, in part because Black urban neighborhoods are “starved” for investment, although the suburbs often have the same racial inequities as the urban cities, but often much less than feared, and those quoted in the article noted the gross segregation in urban cities they are fleeing from. Other major factors for the migration include:

      1. Kids being able to play outside.

      2. The decline of steel and blue-collar jobs starting in the 1970’s in urban areas.

      3. The war on drugs.

      4. The dismantling of public housing and gentrification that displaced Black residents.

      5. School closures in urban areas that disproportionately affected Black and Latino children (and I would add the increasing percentage of wealthy urban parents sending their children to private schools).

      1. Uhhh…. Don’t you think that simply being more comfortable living as a minority in a suburb also is a major factor? I’m old enough to remember how much passive violence and bigotry were inflicted on suburban black families in the 1960’s and 1970’s at levels that would not be tolerated today. It was pretty appalling back then.

  8. “Uhhh…. Don’t you think that simply being more comfortable living as a minority in a suburb also is a major factor? I’m old enough to remember how much passive violence and bigotry were inflicted on suburban black families in the 1960’s and 1970’s at levels that would not be tolerated today. It was pretty appalling back then.”

    Yes Al, I thought I made that clear in my post. However, the article in the Times seemed to indicate that the level of passive and active bigotry and violence in major urban centers against Blacks is the same or even more than in the suburbs today. It wasn’t exactly clear, but the article seemed to indicate the migration to suburbia was something Blacks felt was necessary due to the atmosphere in large cities, just like whites in the 1970’s.

    Many on this blog misunderstand how many more people of color are in suburbia today, although to be fair Blacks are still the lowest percentage. But I agree it is certainly better to move to a suburbia with other people of color, especially kids in schools. I was always amazed at the ethnic makeup of my son’s and daughter’s friends on Mercer Island. Much different and more diverse than when I attended MI schools in the 1970’s.

    1. It has its own term (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_flight). There have been a number of causes:

      1) Cheap new houses outside the city and the end of segregation.
      2) Loss of city employment. This occurred primarily in the industrial Midwest, and explains why Detroit is so hollowed out.
      3) A reversal of the post-war policies, creating more stratification and a lack of investment in the cities. In other words, Reaganism.
      4) Black home owners simply cashed out.
      5) Restrictive zoning in the central part of the city meant that often the cheapest place to live is outside it, creating the type of slums found in most of the world.

      We have experienced much of this, except maybe the second and third one. The city has been getting stronger during this period, it has just gotten more expensive. A lot of African American home owners in the Central Area and Rainier Valley just sold their house and moved to Renton, making really good money along the way (basically a combination of 1 and 4). Rent in Renton, SeaTac or Auburn is cheaper than Seattle (5).

      America in general has also gotten more integrated, especially on the coasts. This is to be expected — over time the racial issues will shrink as eventually everyone is more mixed (just as “white people” became “white people”, instead of Germans, Irish, Slavs, etc.).

  9. I was checking out East Main Link station yesterday in Bellevue. I saw something that amazed me!

    There are now oversized railroad crossing gates and signals at the places where riders will cross the tracks waiting for opening day! It’s quite imposing.

    If you haven’t been by there lately, you should check it out. If this is deemed successful, I could see these on MLK.

    1. Interesting observation. I wonder if ST is going to stick with its ridiculous past defenses for not putting up such barriers on MLK (lack of space, expense, etc.).

      1. “The East Main Station is on 112th just south of East Main. You know the station that should have been named a Surrey Downs? It’s got side platforms too, which means that Seattle-Issaquah transfers will mean everyone is crossing both tracks someday — because ST was not proactive enough to put in a change order to move the platform in 2017.”

        an unforced error eh? go ST!

      1. The East Main Station is on 112th just south of East Main. You know the station that should have been named a Surrey Downs? It’s got side platforms too, which means that Seattle-Issaquah transfers will mean everyone is crossing both tracks someday — because ST was not proactive enough to put in a change order to move the platform in 2017.

    2. They have the same thing for the track crossing at Overlake Village (aka Safeway Station). I didn’t see anything at Judkins Park but the only viewpoint is from up on 23rd a LONG way away. They also may have just not gotten around to installing them as the bridge deck and I think points west aren’t ready for testing yet.

      1. Yup. Same design implementation at Overlake Village Station. There are pictures of that as well in the article link provided above.

    1. I got one too. And yet I have managed to make some comments. Let this be the testing grounds.

      1. This is another test. This will be a bigger comment. I will copy the first three paragraphs of the Wikipedia description of the New York City Subway:

        The New York City Subway is a rapid transit system owned by the City of New York and leased to the New York City Transit Authority,[13] an affiliate agency of the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).[14] Opened on October 27, 1904, the New York City Subway is one of the world’s oldest public transit systems, one of the most-used, and the one with the most stations,[15] with 472 stations in operation[16] (424 if stations connected by transfers are counted as single stations).[1] Stations are located throughout the boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.

        The system has operated 24/7 service every day of the year throughout most of its history, barring emergencies and disasters. By annual ridership, the New York City Subway is the busiest rapid transit system in both the Western Hemisphere and the Western world, as well as the seventh-busiest rapid transit rail system in the world.[17] In 2017, the subway delivered over 1.72 billion rides, averaging approximately 5.6 million daily rides on weekdays and a combined 5.7 million rides each weekend (3.2 million on Saturdays, 2.5 million on Sundays).[1] On October 29, 2015, more than 6.2 million people rode the subway system, establishing the highest single-day ridership since ridership was regularly monitored in 1985.[18]

        The system is also one of the world’s longest. Overall, the system contains 248 miles (399 km) of routes,[9] translating into 665 miles (1,070 km) of revenue track[9] and a total of 850 miles (1,370 km) including non-revenue trackage.[10] Of the system’s 28 routes or “services” (which usually share track or “lines” with other services), 25 pass through Manhattan, the exceptions being the G train, the Franklin Avenue Shuttle, and the Rockaway Park Shuttle. Large portions of the subway outside Manhattan are elevated, on embankments, or in open cuts, and a few stretches of track run at ground level. In total, 40% of track is above ground.[19] Many lines and stations have both express and local services. These lines have three or four tracks. Normally, the outer two are used by local trains, while the inner one or two are used by express trains. Stations served by express trains are typically major transfer points or destinations.[16]

      2. OK, that worked. It’s weird, because more than once I tried to copy a comment roughly the same size in response to the comment about biking in Seattle. I’m going to try and isolate the problem. I have a paragraph that isn’t acceptable, so I’m trying to break it down:

        Yes, exactly. Items 2 and 3 are what I was getting at when I wrote that “there are a lot of trips that just don’t work well for that”. Side streets often require crossing busy streets, without even a beg button to get across. There are detours to cross over major barriers, both natural and man made. For example, there are only so many places to cross over I-5.

  10. “King County needs 244,000 new affordable homes by 2040 to ensure all families in the area can afford a place to live that costs less than 30% of their income, based on a 2019 estimate from the Regional Affordable Housing Task Force.” This in an article about an Amazon/ST plan to create 318 subsidized units ($) at Spring District and Angle Lake Stations.

    318 units are 0.1% of the need.

    1. And the preferred alignment for the WS extension will eliminate up to 633 units and 100 business affecting about 1200 employees while the DEIS claims: “research indicates that there are adequate opportunities for most residents and businesses to successfully relocate within the project vicinity.”

      1. but it’s ok, cuz ST will hand over the spare land to TOD developers who will open dense new housing 5-10 years after the line opens


    2. Amazon to the “rescue” (from Linkedin)


      Since launching the Amazon Housing Equity Fund last year, we’ve already committed more than $1.2B to help create and preserve affordable housing for 18,000 people in our hometown communities of Puget Sound, Arlington, Nashville.

      In Bellevue, Amazon has increased the stock of long-term affordable multifamily units by approximately 20%.

      And we’re just getting started.

      18k people is ~15k units. Better but still only ~1.6% of the need. Still, props to a private company to do this much. Appears to be very targeted to Bellevue… wonder why? And affordable to an Amazon tech employee still means it’s a damn expensive unit (30% of a six figure salary).

  11. “but it’s ok, cuz ST will hand over the spare land to TOD developers who will open dense new housing 5-10 years after the line opens”

    On the eastside property owners began demanding condemnation leases so they retained their property after Link was built and the property value had escalated. Too many property owners in the Overlake area saw ST condemn properties, and then the property was rezoned and sold for below market rates for housing to developers, and the developers made a killing. If the property is only needed for staging or some other temporary use then a condemnation lease is appropriate, the property owner receives rent while their property is used, and the increased value of the property — especially if suddenly upzoned after the sale or condemnation — should go to the original property owner and not developers in on the upzoning game.

    The property still gets redeveloped, and probably at the new zoning level, but the original property owner doesn’t get screwed, although I imagine it is more difficult to combine many separate properties once the project is completed.

      1. They also stop ST from spending hundreds of millions of transit dollars on affordable housing.

        I’d much rather upzoning take place after public acquisition of land, as a form of value capture, but I’d also prefer if ST simply leased constructing staging and let the private markets fund new housing rather than scarce transit dollars. If the state needs to fund affordable housing, then it should do so directly and pay ST market rate for land.

      2. “Meanwhile, as a condition of ST3, WA Leg requires that ST trade 80% of the land it gets to affordable housing developers to turn into 80% affordable housing to folks making 80% of the AMI. https://www.soundtransit.org/system-expansion/creating-vibrant-stations/transit-oriented-development So all those condemnation leases now just stop affordable housing developers from doing the sorely needed thing. Way to go, Eastside!”

        Nathan, are you suggesting the private property owners should essentially fund affordable housing through condemnation of their property at below market values, land that then gets rezoned after condemnation? Will you end up selling your house below market to be converted into affordable housing?

        I don’t think creating affordable housing meets the basis for condemnation which requires a legitimate public purpose. But even then, it requires fair market value. Property owners claimed they were being swindled by heavy handed condemnation actions by ST for their property that was suddenly upzoned after sale or condemnation, although the property condemnation was based on the fact its use was only temporary for the construction of Link.

        The other point is that IMO the 80% AMI figure is a ridiculous definition of “affordable housing”. The AMI for Bellevue today is around $127,000/year. 80% = $101,600/year. If that single person put 30% of their 80% AMI toward rent that equals $101,600 X 30% = $30,480 divided by 12 months = $2540/month to spend on monthly rent if you insist on living alone. Does that person need subsidized housing? Essentially funded by the private property owner who had his property condemned and then rezoned, according to you.

        80% AMI affordable housing is a fictional compromise developers reached that meets the definition of “affordable housing”, because developers of new construction know 80% AMI folks look a lot like the non-affordable tenants/owners in the same building, whereas the 30% and 50% AMI folks don’t.

        The irony is ST does not make money either, because it usually gives the condemned upzoned property away, or sells it at non-market rates. The developers make the profit and rent or sell it to folks who can afford $2540/month in rent, unless the housing is publicly built, which means the cost is around 30% higher than private development for the same housing and why our affordable housing dollars don’t go very far.

      1. MFTE. 12 years of no property taxes if you include some affordable housing in a project.

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