Initial election results will be posted at 8:15 pm, then on subsequent days by 4 pm. I assume there will be one or two comments about it.

Link will be closed between SODO and Capitol Hill November 11-13. Replacement buses will fill the gap. Trains will continue running north of Capitol Hill and south of SODO. The alert says replacement buses will run every 15 minutes, while a sign at Stadium says they’ll run every 10-15 minutes. In my experience they’re often more frequent than that. So the buses will be either less frequent, the same, or more frequent than Link.

This is an open thread.

134 Replies to “Election Open Thread”

  1. I hope the Sound Transit employees who are at the stations don’t go and hide between the trains like they did at Rainier Beach station when there was a bus between Rainier Beach Station and Tukwila Station! Sorry to say the ST employees at Rainier Beach were absolutely USELESS as travelers who left the buses could see the train but didn’t know if the train was going to leave immediately or not and the path between the drop-off and train was unnecessarily far, crossed (2) busy roads, and wasn’t very clear. ST employees just hid out behind the train as if they didn’t want to be bothered to direct people or communicate with them.

    This was contrast by the Tukwila Station ST employees, the Tukwila Station ST staff were ****FABULOUS**** First they were present, not in hiding, second they let you know what was going on and directed people where to wait.

    1. Most Link closures have fabulous support in my experience. Multiple staff at each entrance, ready to tell you where the bus stop is. Sometimes it seems like overkill. I’ve only seen it downtown and at near-downtown stations, so the outer stations may have less support. It’s worth telling ST that Rainier Beach was especially lacking, in case they haven’t realized it.

      Metro closures have less support in my experience. No staff directing you, so I’ve sometimes had to guess where the alternate bus stop is or whether the closure is still in effect.

    2. I wish Sound Transit employees and contractors would wear masks, when around riders, as their employer recommends. The positive demonstration would help improve maskfulness, and make me less afraid to be near them.

      Do that, and the employees who are not used to facing the half-maskless public will have much less reason to hide from the large number of members of the public who do not have the common courtesy to wear a mask when approaching these rightfully-frightened employees for help.

      I’ve found it far easier to protect myself on the bus (grab a back seat or one in front of a plexiglass shield, and then stand for the duration of the ride, if I must, to keep my head above anyone else’s unmasked respirations) than on the 1 Line, where I end up in near proximity to other standing maskless passengers.

      Given the unlikelihood that Sound Transit will put wearing a mask in the passenger code of conduct, we maskful riders are going to have to tactically band together to make it possible to ride the 1 Line safely. I suggest we all get in the habit of boarding the second car, and then claim the seats in the raised section, from the back forward. Make the second car the unofficial Safe Car.

      When you encounter a uniformed transit employee wearing a mask, thank them for wearing a mask. Positive reinforcement works wonders, and uniformed officers who passengers see all day set the tone for mask behavior far more than occasional riders do.

      Of course, it would also help to have mask dispensers on each end of each car so passengers know where to find them. But thank you, ST, for at least having some mask dispensers on the train.

  2. Initial results: Ranked-choice/approval voting is leaning slightly toward No (50.95%). Ranked choice is blowing away approval (74.01%). One third of registered voters are counted so far.

    I ended up voting The Stranger’s recommendation: No, and ranked-choice. I’ve long wanted ranked-choice, but these proposals had so many uncertainties that I decided to wait and see if we can get a better ranked-choice formula or do it in conjunction with eliminating primaries.

    Both the Seattle Times and The Stranger recommended No, so I’m surprised it’s trailing by only 1%.

    1. A few folks noted that both the Stranger and the Seattle Times endorsed “No” votes on Prop 1 for Seattle; so it is interesting that the first drop is so close. maybe what’s maybe more interesting is how unpredictable subsequent drops will be for that result.

    2. I personally like the system Alaska switched to – top 4 in the primary, followed by ranked choice in the general.

      Is something like this is legal to do via ballot initiative, I would definitely vote yes.

      1. Alaska’s/Maine’s system can most certainly be done by initiative in Washington. The two-go-forward rule is merely a statute.

    3. That could be an indication of how newspaper endorsements don’t carry the weight that they used to

    4. Nevada is about to enact open primaries and RCV in the general election. King County is also about to shift county executive and other positions to even-year elections, starting in 2026.

      Keeping an eye on WA-3 and WA-8 results this afternoon.

      1. Nevada has to pass the measure twice, with the second vote in 2024, before it can go into effect.

    5. While Yes appears to be losing narrowly, the epic beat-down of approval voting is a lesson I wish the Center for Election Science would take to heart.

      They have less-silly voting systems in their arsenal. If they had put Condorcet on the ballot, I bet Fairvote would have supported that.

      1. I don’t think it factored in at all, but the one argument I heard from the RCV side that ought to have been disavowed was the claim that approval voting could violate the principle of one-person-one-vote. It most certainly does not.

        Any election system that gives voters identical ballots and candidates equal access to the ballot is going to comply with one-person-one-vote.

        What violates OPOT includes gerrymandering (which has become nearly ubiquitous), inequitable ballot access, and voter suppression. Indeed, the largest violators of democratic principles in this election were the Michigan Democratic Party (which filed successful last-minute challenges to the GOPs’ best gubernatorial candidates’ ballot access petitions), and the D-controlled NC Board of Elections, which tried to throw the Green Party US Senate candidate off the ballot with a mere belief that they could find enough invalid signatures to drop his petition below the threshold.

        There were plenty of valid arguments to make against approval voting, some of them based on the data from actual elections. Straying from these only riles up the approval voting think tank to troll future RCV referenda with even more spurious arguments than they have trolled with for the past couple decades.

        But all gratitude to Logan Bowers, Troy Davis (who have not been part of the troll farm of which I wrote), and the City Council for allowing Seattle to have this debate and vote. I hope the decisiveness of the vote will inform approval fans of what average voters value, and move on.

      2. That was in the Seattle Times endorsement.

        “Seattle — with all its other problems — does not need this self-inflicted headache. Keep it simple: One person, one vote. Top two candidates move on the general election. Reject Seattle Propositions 1A and 1B.”

        I didn’t understand the argument because I couldn’t see how these systems would give some voters more say than others, which is what one-person-one-vote means. We’ve talked about how the counting formulas could have unintended consequences, and somebody might possibly find a loophole to gain an advantage with. But that’s obscure and theoretical, not something that the proponents as a whole could put their thumb on the scale with, which would violate one-person-one-vote.

        If the Times \meant that each voter should vote for only one candidate, it’s ignorant or misleading to equate that to the one-person-one-vote doctrine. Violations of one-person-one-vote would be: preventing some people from voting, charging a poll tax, allowing some people to cast multiple votes, weighing some people’s votes more heavily, gerrymandering, or allowing the legislature to override the results if their side doesn’t win.

  3. suburbanite cranks calling a red wave since January better be checking their predictive power right about now

      1. There definitely was not a red wave. I am not sure why. I think the Republicans could have picked better candidates (and D’s contributed $40 million to the extreme R candidates during the primaries), and Trump is a big ball and chain with suburban women. R’s once again dominated the state races and the Supreme Court is considering a case that would remove courts from overseeing gerrymandering.

        The key will be the House. Even a one vote majority allows that party to select the speaker, all committee chairs, and subpoena power. All the Sturm and Drang and billions spent may mean only a few seats change, but if it means the House changes that is huge. One problem McCarthy will have that Pelosi had if he is speaker is his very small majority means he will have to cater to the extreme wing of his party as Pelosi had to do with Jayapal, which means legislation heading to the Senate is usually too conservative or progressive. Pelosi is very talented at counting and delivering votes when margins are tight. McCarthy not so much. So expect a little chaos, hopefully not when it comes to debt ceilings or funding the government.

        Without the Presidency all R’s could hope for in 2022-24 is gridlock by taking the House, and a lot of hearings on Biden and his family.

        The Senate really isn’t important for D’s if they don’t have the House because all spending bills originate in the House and the President can veto legislation. Two or three D Senators are pretty conservative anyway. The only importance is if Biden gets to nominate a Supreme Court Justice in the next two years, but then again some D senators are fairly conservative, and the conservative justices are pretty young except for Thomas.

        After this election, the putative nominees for President look to be Biden, Harris and Gavin Newsom, in that order, while on the other side it is either DeSantis or Trump. I would love to see a DeSantis/Newsom race because both come from large states and are competent so the race would be a referendum on where the country wants to go, although D’s might be hurt if the economy continues to deteriorate over the next two years. Amazon and Microsoft and Meta among them have lost $2 trillion in market cap which won’t be good for this area.

        For me personally, I haven’t voted R in about 40 years although I think some in this state are too far left, but again the R’s don’t really provide a good alternative. The one election I put my heart and soul into was renewing the MI parks levy with a 66% annual increase, especially after the defeat of Prop. 1 in 2018, and right now that is passing. Now that our firm has left Seattle I really don’t care what happens there.

        One thing to look for next year is virtually every city from NY to Mercer Island is looking at a fiscal Armageddon, because all the Covid money is spent balancing the 2022 budgets and inflation is killing cities on COLA’s.

      2. I actually see the senate races for Democrats as more about defense than offense. That’s because senators serve 6-year terms and there’s a very real risk of a Trump or DeSantis presidency in 2025, so each senate seat held in 2022 means a smaller GOP senate majority in 2025, ideally to the point where party moderates such as Romney, Collins, and Murkowski have enough power to prevent anything *too* crazy from happening. And, as you say, with the House in Republican hands, Democrats aren’t passing any laws anyway.

        There’s also the issue of the courts. Even if no supreme court vacancy is likely, there’s still the lowest courts, which have been heavily stacked with right-wing judges during the Trump years. Without control of the Senate, not a single judge Biden nominates to any court is likely to get confirmed.

      3. Asdf2, already I see chaos in the House. McCarthy wants to be speaker, but he has a very slim majority so must cater to the Freedom Caucus. It hasn’t helped that Democrats funded some very right-wing candidates for the House in the R primary and those candidates won. Pelosi had her issues with Jayapal and the progressive caucus, but nothing like Jim Jordan and the Freedom caucus, and McCarthy can’t strong arm votes (or deceive progressives like Jayapal on the BBB) like Pelosi could. McCarthy is dapper and from CA and that alone breeds suspicion.

        Already some very conservative Senators like Ron Johnson from WI are calling for bills to prevent shutting down the government or raising the debt ceiling, because that is a very real possibility in the House and would be catastrophic except these folks think government itself is the problem.

        Also, McCarthy is being forced to appoint some extreme committee chairs to get their support for him being speaker, and many of these think it is payback time for all the hearings and investigations under Adam Schiff and the rest, and I predict Biden will be impeached in the House. The way the House is structured, and was run under Pelosi, just breeds hatred between the two parties.

        The reality is the Freedom Caucus and R’s in general are correct: the $30 trillion federal debt has become very dangerous and makes dealing with any kind of crisis or recession with federal stimulus impossible in the future. But get ready for a wild ride, and likely worsening economic times in 2023-24, this time including rising unemployment. I saw an article the other day that noted one year ago the most coveted job was computer engineering/coder/IT while today that job is probably the most vulnerable.

        I agree with your point about the Senate appointing lower court judges. In 2024 D’s defend more Senate seats than R’s, and Murdoch and the R gang have had it with Trump because now they know DeSantis will win the Presidency in 2024 if Trump doesn’t screw it up, and probably both houses. Which at that point Manchin and Sinema will look like visionaries for not abandoning the filibuster. I am a big fan of split government and can only hope D’s keep a house in 2024 (and wouldn’t mind R’s taking a house in WA).

      4. “because now they know DeSantis will win the Presidency in 2024 if Trump doesn’t screw it up,”

        Oh, I think it’s quite likely that Trump would screw it up. This is a guy who cares more about himself than his party and would absolutely try to seek revenge on anyone who defeats him in a party primary. I could even imagine Trump running as an independent and siphoning enough swing state votes from his die-hards to throw the election to Biden, just to spite DeSantis.

        But, I still think the more likely scenario is DeSantis standing down rather try to fight Trump in a primary. Whether Trump wins or loses in 2024, DeSantis will then run in 2028.

        Agree with everything you said about chaos coming in the House. It could potentially turn into a blessing in disguise for Democrats if it portrays the Republican party as crazy nuts in time for the 2024 election. And they’ve already accomplished as much of the Biden agenda as they realistically could anyway, even they did hold the House.

      5. I am sure DeSantis and the Republican inner circle and Rupert Murdoch are wondering where in the hell is that indictment of Trump Democrats have been promising since 2020.

      6. There definitely was not a red wave. I am not sure why.

        One possible cause is that Republicans just spent 3 years conning their followers into not taking any pandemic precautions. A number of other policies causing death aren’t popular among swing voters either.

      7. @Daniel

        Republicans only care about the national debt when they are the minority party. If Rs control Presidency and Congress, suddenly all the talk about the debt vanishes, even from the so-called “Freedom Caucus.” It’s a long con that you’ve bought into hook, line, and sinker.

      8. I understand that Matt. But at $30 Trillion national debt either the parties will need to work together or there will be an exogenous event.

        States balance budgets every year although some load up on debt. 2023 will see most cities experience large budget deficits because the Covid stimulus will be gone, inflation and legacy pension costs are coming home to roost, and most cities have neglected capital infrastructure.

      9. If anything, there was a pro-democracy wave. Nearly all the candidates in competitive races who beclowned themselves with denialism of the validity of the 2020 presidential election lost.

        But also, nearly everywhere where democracy was literally on the ballot, it won. The Portlands (both ME and OR) passed the proportional representation version of ranked choice voting. Nevada, Evanston (IL), Fort Collins (CO), Ojai (CA), and Multnomah County (containing Portland), all passed traditional single-winner RCV. And now, Yes on Question 1 has pulled ahead by 1800 votes. San Juan and Clark Counties were the only defeats for RCV in this election.

      10. “inflation and legacy pension costs are coming home to roost,”

        What coming home to roost. Do you think retirees should live in poverty and homelessness because pensions are unimportant? The alternative to pensions is universal basic income and universal housing.

        During covid, cities kept their necessary services up with the funding. It still wasn’t up to the level it should be, but the solution isn’t slashing it further, as those cities that gutted transit 80%, a kind of caricature of 1950s “cars are all we need”.

        Re inflation, who is responsible for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the major loss of oil, gas, and wheat? Some say companies price-gouging is the cause of 40% of the current inflation. There’s also supply-chain bottlenecks, and droughts and floods slashing crop yields this year. Inflation is not just happening in the US; it’s actually lower here than in many other countries.

      11. “What coming home to roost. Do you think retirees should live in poverty and homelessness because pensions are unimportant? The alternative to pensions is universal basic income and universal housing.”

        You miss my point Mike. Inflation hits those on a fixed income the hardest, even with COLA’s, as well as the poor. Many union style pensions don’t have COLA’s by the way. I don’t see either party arguing for a universal income (unless you mean social security) or universal housing (unless you mean Medicaid). Coming home to roost means cities must balance budgets by law. Either revenue goes up or costs go down.

        The rising cost of labor and materials for the same levels of service will impact city budgets that by law must be balanced. Inflation is a cancer that hits everyone, except the rich feel it much less.

        For example, Jon Talton in the Seattle Times noted on Sunday that even with the payroll tax (estimated to bring in $277 million this year) that Seattle enacted Seattle will see budget deficits beginning next year that were estimated at $117 million last April. By August the estimated deficit had risen to $141 million for 2023 to $152 in 2024 (and you know these estimates will rise further). This does not include deferred capital maintenance like bridges.

        Meanwhile over the past decade Seattle’s general and other operating funds have grown four times faster than the economy and population. Council approved taxes have totaled $700 million since 2018.

        And this was before Amazon announced that Bellevue is now its new HQ1 according to Talton, and it would begin laying off thousands of workers, my guess is mostly in Seattle. Plus in 2024 The Move Seattle levy expires. If a recession is here or happens in 2023 that puts greater pressure on city budgets due to less taxes and higher social costs.

        Seattle’s Council’s uber progressive approach maybe made economic sense before the pandemic based on what I think are inflated future population growth estimates, and before downtown Seattle lost 60% of its workers where 2/3 of the city’s tax revenue is generated. Not today, and Talton’s point was a lot of that money is migrating out of Seattle, and some is just disappearing. Amazon, Microsoft and Meta combined have lost over $2 trillion in market cap.

        Talton’s real point, which I agree with, is Seattle’s Council always felt there would be more revenue, and more taxes, because there was no option to downtown Seattle, population would increase, and people had to commute to downtown Seattle. Harrell hopes to incentivize the hiring of 500 new police officers to replace the 400 who have left, but where will he get the money?

        I don’t know how Seattle (or so many other cities) will balance next year’s operating budgets now that the Covid money has run out for them and the citizens and the federal debt at $30 trillion has exhausted federal aid, which as 2008 proves usually begins with deferring capital maintenance, except as the West Seattle Bridge proved is no longer a viable option because the infrastructure has been deferred so long. Mercer Island is not immune although the new parks levy will help, but the problem is much bigger than that.

        “During covid, cities kept their necessary services up with the funding. It still wasn’t up to the level it should be, but the solution isn’t slashing it further, as those cities that gutted transit 80%, a kind of caricature of 1950s “cars are all we need”.”

        I don’t know what the solution is. Maybe increasing taxes although as Seattle is learning money can move, and Talton argues Seattle’s Council should not have been so arrogant with business. Just like 2008 of course there will have to be budget cuts, and deferring capital maintenance until something breaks. Budgets must balance. My advice is to not balance the budget with police cuts if downtown ever wants to recover.

        Transit is the very least of the problems, because in the current environment, even before a recession and regional layoffs, so many people don’t need transit, and those who do are usually very vulnerable in an economic downturn.

        Imagine the good that could have been done for the economic challenged if the $142 billion for ST would have been allocated to social services and housing. If anything, transit and Link is one of the huge problems for budgets because it exhausted the tax capacity. Even if Move Seattle is renewed in 2024 it will only cover the 50% of projects the last levy didn’t complete due to optimistic project cost estimates, and really should go 100% to the bridges. There is simply no way WSBLE is affordable, and although Tom disagrees, I think ST will have operating budget issues pretty soon.

        It is going to be some tough sledding for cities over the next several years, with a lot of painful cuts, and the poor will get the brunt of that, and things are going to start breaking like bridges which cost more to fix when it is an emergency. Transit budgets will be no different, and Metro’s current budgets and levels of service show that, except at some point transit agencies will have to accept current ridership levels are permanent, which means cuts to coverage (which is easy especially post pandemic) and frequency (which is harder), and no doubt deferring capital maintenance.

      1. Most of the remaining ballots to be counted are in Pueblo County in Southern Colorado which has been leaning towards the Democrat nominee. We likely won’t know the results for a couple weeks as we still have to wait on cured ballots and overseas voters and there’ll be a recount most likely. This race has reminded me a lot of the 2004 gubernatorial race between Gregoire and Rossi.

  4. Well Denver will be spending money to fix and build sidewalks it seems now with how in favor people are for the initiative on the ballot. Currently standing at 53% for Yes and 47% for No.

    We also possibly passed a ballot funding initiative for affordable housing. Currently stands at 50% for Yes 49% for No

    1. With I-135 going to Seattle voters in a special ballot in February, it will be interesting to see what lessons can be learned from Denver’s affordable housing measure.

      1. I will say the housing is a statewide initiative, interesting to see who is in favor of it. While places like Denver metro, Fort Collins, and Pueblo were expected, sorta surprised by how popular it is in resort towns in Western Colorado. The one wrinkle for us is that the state also voted for lowering the income tax rate 0.10%.. which is how a lot of things are funded in this state besides sales tax.

      2. I don’t get to vote in Seattle elections, but reading *this* has left unenthusiastic about voting for housing levies in general. Every single thing that went wrote with the Los Angeles housing levy seems all too likely to happen here too.

        Then again, doing nothing doesn’t exactly solve the problem either. It’s a problem without a good solution. Upzoning at least helps keep the housing shortage from getting worse, but it’s not a magic bullet.


  5. An Eastside-only light rail stub ($) is gaining more supporters. Claudia Balducci, the ST boardmember who championed the proposal and also a a county councilmember and former Bellevue mayor, was quoted by Mike Lindblom of the Seattle Times as saying, “I have gotten more support for this idea than anything I’ve ever proposed.” Julie Timm, ST’s new CEO, says the staff will provide updates starting in mid November, for a board decision possibly in January or February.

    “The mayors of Redmond, Bellevue and Kirkland, public-policy executives from Amazon, Google, Meta and Microsoft, and 11 other Eastside leaders co-signed an endorsement letter for the starter line.”

    The stater line would most likely run from Redmond Tech to South Bellevue, using crossover tracks at Redmond Tech and East Main. That could cause brief delays because the southern crossover is inside operational segment rather than outside.

    ST is in talks with the Federal Transit Administration to approve the interim service if ST decides to go ahead with it. ST also has to weigh the impacts on the entire ST2 rollout of opening this segment early, and the impacts of not doing it. Balducci estimated they wouldn’t do it if the gap between the stater line and full East Link is less than six months, they would do it if it’s more than two years, and she’s not sure if it’s in between.

    1. I don’t know if the letter is exactly an endorsement letter. More like a letter of frustration. The letter notes the considerable investments that have been made (and not surprisingly some of the signatories were developers along the route, and ironically employers like Meta that are laying off staff), the ongoing delay, and states:

      “Not least among beneficiaries is Sound Transit which can demonstrate a commitment to delivering East Link in the most expeditious manner possible. We welcome regular public updates on your efforts to explore this option. Again, we strongly urge you to prioritize a transparent feasibility analysis of an Eastside-only starter line.”

      However the letter also notes:

      “Proceed with due care. Opening a starter line would require system resources, but the main implementation cost is a line that Sound Transit already slated and budgeted to deliver. Agency staff must evaluate the balance of operating costs versus benefits like Sound Transit staffing continuity. Ridership impacts must be understood. To be viable, the timeframe must make sense – making it imperative to complete a feasibility analysis as quickly as possible.”

      Well, yes, if money is no option, and feeder buses can be added before the eastside transit restructure while continuing current routes, there are sufficient drivers, so there is some first/last mile access (although the letter and Seattle Times article were very heavy on park and rides), and there will be a lot of riders from S. Bellevue to Microsoft so dollar per rider/mile is somewhat reasonable, and it can be studied and permitted along with approval from the FTA, and East Link across the bridge really won’t open until 2025, I guess this truncated segment might make sense, I guess, although not for riders from Seattle. Or Issaquah. Or Redmond.

      I think the signatories would be happier however if East Link opened in full in six months, as Balducci seems to suggest is a possibility.

    2. Mike, with a “Link Standard” ten minute headways and the paucity of grade crossings in East Link, the use of the Main Street scissors should be very reliable.

      It will be only a minute and a half to two minutes between the south limit of the scissors and the South Bellevue platform, and an arriving and a departing train can occupy that segment simultaneously. It is only the limits of the cross-over that is “one train at a time”.

      Will there never be a brief delay? No, of course not. But it will be thirty seconds typically when one does occur.

  6. 15th Avenue West/Northwest will get a seismic retrofit starting in early 2022 between Emerson Street and 57th Street. This includes the Ballard Bridge and Leary Way viaduct, and will impact the main intersection at Market Street. SDOT will do several projects simultaneously, from replacing overhead expansion joints to repaving the street, improving sidewalks and drainage, and repainting street markers.

    Frequent buses D, 40, and 44 cross this area, as well as peak express buses 15, 17, and 18, so there will probably be reroutes or delays during construction.

    1. I wonder if SDOT can redesign the viaduct underside with bird deterrent so the sidewalks underneath aren’t so encrusted with bird crap that it’s more appealing (not to mention safer) to walk in traffic.

  7. More links from SDOT:

    ST is working on several rider-facing technologies including a digital assistant with a trip planner, a “real-time information and dynamic re-routing tool”, a chatbot, and ORCA integration. Article by The Urbanist.

    I’ve seen ORCA reader messages gradually improving over time. It has some more messages than ORCA 1 did, including about your balance. But some features are still gone, such as the ability to cancel a trip at a station, or a distinct beep for tapout vs tapin.

    The 100th anniversary of car supremacy. (Forbes)

  8. There are far too many Link closures. If it’s our transit spine, it needs to remain open. If there are some things that require closure, they need to all be done at the same time. Not that we close Rainier Beach-Tukwila for five days, and then ten days later we close SoDo-Capitol Hill for 2+ days.

    I also think that we need to fix how the SR-520 buses deal with Link closures and 520 bridge closures. There need to be more sane options that asking someone who rides an SR520 bus that they are supposed to go across I-90 and then into the U-District in order to get to downtown or the airport. And the situation duriong Husky games is equally screwed up

    1. The last time I rode the 255 on a 520-closure day, the bus stopped in Mercer Island, providing those headed downtown an opportunity to transfer to the 550, rather than being forced to go north to the U-district and back south again. The time it adds to the run is minimal, and should e a no-brainer.

      The problem, of course, is that Metro never advertised this, and the driver never said “transfer to the 550 here to go downtown”, so people didn’t know, nobody got off, and those that were headed downtown ended going through a time-consuming detour to the U-district, anyway.

      1. @asdf2,

        This happens periodically. Metro sort of leaves it up to the user to figure some of this out. But my *suspicion* (and it is only a suspicion) is that Metro doesn’t want people to know about some of these other options. Because if a large number of people suddenly made the transfer, then the 550 would be overloaded.

        But you illustrate something important about transit on MI, namely that MI has the potential to become a major transit hub. With the eventual opening of East Link there will be increasing opportunities for transfers. And not just rail-bus transfers, but also increased bus-bus transfer opportunities for the savvy user.

        MI will have a bright future as a regional transit hub.

      2. This is only on bridge closure days, which can happen only on weekends. You’re talking about an extra 10 people or so per bus, at most (not *everybody* on the 255 is even going downtown; those headed to the U-district or points north would still stay on the bus).

        I don’t think it would overload the 550. Even if it means some people have to stand to the 550 for 10 minutes, it’s hardly a big deal.

      3. @asdf2,

        I was speaking more generally. Metro just isn’t very good about communicating the transfer options to their riders in situations like this.

        And they are even more reluctant to direct transfers to a route like the 550, which isn’t technically even their route.

      4. Can you count on the 255 making the stop in the reverse direction leaving downtown? How about the 545?

      5. “But you illustrate something important about transit on MI, namely that MI has the potential to become a major transit hub. With the eventual opening of East Link there will be increasing opportunities for transfers. And not just rail-bus transfers, but also increased bus-bus transfer opportunities for the savvy user”.

        The reality is that other than the rare occasion when 520 is closed MI will never be a transit hub, (or even then), for several reasons.

        1. Probably most importantly is because MI is the ultimate destination for very few on transit (or in a car). There are few jobs, and every retail/restaurant collection on the eastside is better. Once East Link is open someone could stay on the train to Redmond, Capitol Hill, downtown Seattle, Bellevue, et al. Why get off on MI? MI would like more retail vibrancy in its town center, but simply cannot compete with these other areas, and the residents don’t want vibrancy after 10 pm.

        2. The eastside transit restructure recognized what I have said for a long time: the major transit transfer point will be S. Bellevue, because of the 1500 stall park and ride, and the ability when East Link fully opens for transfers east to Issaquah on buses or north to Bellevue Way or along East Link from S. Bellevue without backtracking. People hate backtracking on transit, especially with a transfer.

        3. The proposed truncated eastside segment for East Link doesn’t even include MI, which suggests MI isn’t considered an important transit transfer point. No ” bus bridge” on MI. Buses from Seattle will continue to S. Bellevue, and no doubt many will drive there due to the huge park and ride and low traffic congestion. That is what will happen when East Link fully opens. Riders will ride through MI, not to, albeit 35′ below grade.

        4. East Link eliminates buses across the bridge span, so I don’t see MI being a bus-to-bus transfer. Is someone from N. Bend going to take the bus to MI to transfer to a bus back to Issaquah? The whole point of East Link is to eliminate bus to bus transfers, and ideally any transfers.

        5. The Issaquah to S. Kirkland line is designed to eliminate MI altogether as a transfer point (because it never made sense), but the decline in eastsiders commuting to downtown Seattle and the rerouting of the 554 to Bellevue Way just accelerates that. People on the eastside take transit to get to work. Commuters hate transfers. It never made sense to have buses from Issaquah and North Bend drive to MI to drop of riders who then had to backtrack on East Link to Bellevue or Microsoft. Mercer Island is the western terminus of the eastside, so having it serve as a transfer point for anyone on the eastside going to the eastside makes no sense.

        6. The one transfer on MI that might make sense is specialty buses like the 630. I could see eastside healthcare workers driving to the MI park and ride to catch the 630, unless cities like Issaquah or Bellevue fund their own specialty buses. From MI a rider on the 630 could catch a bus back to Issaquah or take East Link. Basically, all the 630 does in that situation is substitute MI as the transfer point for downtown Seattle to get to First Hill, and MI is safer and cleaner and the bus stop is right next to the train station (plus it has great grocery stores with large surface parking lots which is why the park and ride was popular).

        Many buses stop on MI today because it is an Island in a lake that I-90 runs through, and it is designed to make it easy for buses passing through to stop and get back on I-90. Not many get on or off on MI. If East Link opens a truncated segment without MI for several years that will create travel patterns that won’t include MI.

        Once East Link fully opens maybe 12 buses per peak hour will access MI from areas east, but they will be half full even during peak hours, and my guess is cities like N. Bend and Issaquah will push to terminate those buses at S. Bellevue which allows someone to catch East Link to Seattle or to Microsoft without backtracking (which was the original plan). Non-peak there is almost no frequency on MI for buses going east once East Link opens, but what Islander takes a bus east during non-peak hours when I-90 is such a fabulous road?

        Eventually with the Issaquah to S. Kirkland line MI will become a lonely light rail station with two entrances and beautiful landscaping along the way, especially with county population growth declining and WFH. But really the eastside transit restructure simply accelerates the Issaquah to S. Kirkland (or S. Bellevue) line because that is where those folks are going: east, and they don’t want to backtrack.

        If there is one basic flaw in your vision of MI, it is it includes a transfer, the Achilles Heel of Link, certainly on the eastside, although for some reason eastsiders don’t consider driving to a park and ride a “seat”, so the next seat on transit from the park and ride better go to where their ultimate destination is, hence the 554 going to Bellevue Way between Main and NE 8th, and the popularity of the S. Bellevue station for East Link.

        People going from the eastside to downtown Seattle on East Link will already be on the train when it gets to MI, which is why we spent so many years worrying about capacity at the MI station. Until a pandemic came along and Metro discovered ST’s ridership estimates on East Link — especially cross bridge — were rubbish.

      6. @DT,

        Ha! A few things we actually agree on! And a few we probably don’t.

        1). The vast majority of people who will end/begin their journeys on MI are either residents, or the relatively few people who work on MI. That is why my comments were directed at bus/rail and bus/bus transfers.

        2). The MI city government is one of the most ineffectual governments in the region. They still can’t figure out if the want to lock MI in 1950’s era amber, or if they want to increase vibrancy so MI residents don’t have to drive off the island for even the smallest of reasons.

        3). South Bellevue will be the primary transfer station along this part of East Link, but that doesn’t mean MI won’t see increased transit and increased transfers at the Link station. In fact, as you know, it is already planned. And I would expect those options to expand as people become more reliant on Link.

        5). People are smart, and they will figure things out. If a bus/rail or a bus/bus transfer on MI meets their own specific needs, then you can darn well be assured they will do it.

        But the future for MI transit is bright. Get used to it.

      7. Lazarus, transit today on MI will be the same as transit tomorrow, and if anything worse with East Link unless your one trip is from MI to Microsoft and there is space at the park and ride (and these Islanders prefer to WFH).

        East Link and buses to areas like Issaquah will not have the same frequency as the number of buses that stop on MI today, that are mostly empty, but not because they are buses and not a train, but because the riders don’t have to ride anymore. Fewer people if any will be “reliant” on East Link because fewer are commuting to work. Mode in itself does not determine whether transit works or folks ride transit.

        MI’s government is a typical, well meaning, small-town government that happens to sit in the middle of a lake between Bellevue/Issaquah and Seattle. Its citizens prefer “its 1950’s era amber”, as do Medina, Clyde Hill, Yarrow Point, Hunts Point, Beaux Arts, and many areas of Issaquah, especially now that they watch Seattle imploding. It isn’t as if their property values have suffered. Lots and lots of people want to live in these areas, hence the high property prices. It has virtually nothing to do with transit, which is about number 20 on the list of reasons they live on MI.

        “or if they want to increase vibrancy so MI residents don’t have to drive off the island for even the smallest of reasons.” You just don’t get it. Islanders don’t want to drive off Island, mostly don’t have to except for work, they don’t want vibrancy, and driving east to Issaquah or Bellevue or Factoria or wherever is a breeze on I-90. They sure as hell are not going to drive to the park and ride to catch a bus or train for some “vibrancy” to these areas east that are unwalkable. Ever try to walk around the big box zone in Issaquah?

        “People are smart, and they will figure things out.” This I agree with. They won’t want to take a bus from a park and ride in Issaquah to Mercer Island to backtrack on East Link (hence the transit restructure that routes the 554 to where East Link does not go, downtown Bellevue), and more and more don’t want to commute or travel to Seattle. History proves on the eastside they won’t take transit during non-peak times, and during peak times if parking is free and congestion low.

        I have been following East Link since 2008. Since ST/Metro announced the bus intercept on MI in late 2017 its frequency and number of folks who will transfer on MI have gotten less and less (and East Link’s delay has gotten longer and longer), although I must say the landscaping is turning out beautiful and must have cost a fortune. Riders are not going to get off on MI unless that is their destination, which is a very small number. East Link won’t change much, unless you: 1. ride transit to begin with; 2. have some kind of first/last mile access to Link; and 3. it goes where you want to go without another transfer.

        I know you denigrate buses and extoll the virtues of light rail despite the obscene cost, but as someone who tends to ride neither to me that sounds like a queen bee denigrating the worker bees who serve her. Without first/last mile access Link fails, and on the eastside the structural flaw is that first/last mile access means someone is already in their car to a park and ride, and naturally prefers to stay in that car until their destination. In more urban areas it means someone is on a bus, unless you want to live in the “unamber” areas like Capitol Hill or UW where my son lives and the university has advised all students –male and female –to not venture out alone at night.

        Link will cost $142 billion but will change very, very little, and even less now that Link is moving into the suburbs. Light rail is a tool, and in some very dense areas better than buses, but in most other areas worse. But I highly doubt folks who don’t ride buses today will ride light rail. At least what current studies show, and as Martin pointed out WSBLE will cost around $20 billion and move something like 400 drivers/day to Link when the bridge handles 100,000 cars/day.

      8. Daniel, the Eastside “stub” can’t “include MI” simply because the plinths on the East Channel Bridge are part of what is delaying full service.

      9. DT points:
        one. MI will be the best transfer point for east-west routes serving Eastgate and Issaquah; this is the avoid the back tracking you cite; South Bellevue will be better for north-south routes.
        two. The P&R garage has nothing to do with transfers; it will attract auto-oriented riders oriented to markets with paid parking.
        three. The possible interim Eastside Link line does not include MI as it is in the segment that is having its plinths replaced. The plinth timetable sets the interim timetable; it is unknown.
        four and six. The East Link Connections project still includes Route 630; you like it; I think it is inefficient as it duplicates Link and is slower.
        five. The ST3 Issaquah and South Kirkland line is terrible; it is difficult to understand its purpose; it may just have been for boardmember Butler.
        During an interim Eastside line, MI may be a transfer point if routes are provided between Issaquah/Eastgate and downtown Seattle via MI; the network has not been designed and is imaginary, awaiting the possible interim line.

    2. This was my thought also.
      The number of multiday closures and single tracking has been very high this CY.

      The relative lack of capacity when Link is down doesn’t matter if Link is down only for 1-2 hours due to cars turning left.

      Instead we have multi day closures for unspecified required maintenance.
      Fix whatever is going wrong with maint, and the Link down plan can remain half baked.

  9. Escalator/elevator report:

    University Street station: The University Street surface down escalator is fixed. On the platform, the northbound northern stairway is closed. The escalator next to it is off but open. An announcement said one of the elevators is closed.

    Westlake station: The 3rd & Pine entrance down escalator is closed. I didn’t see the rest of the station. For the past several years practically all above-mezzainine down escalators have been closed and sometimes platform escalators too, so I wouldn’t be surprised.

    Roosevelt station: One escalator is closed. Fortunately, Roosevelt has two sets of escalators.

    If anybody uses Westlake or the other DSTT stations, note which escalators/elevators are closed. Then we can see whether there really has been an improvement.

    1. Apparently, Elon Musk doesn’t allow his employees to work from home, so even with half the work force laid off, the Twitter office might not actually be getting any emptier.

  10. Trying to understand what this Link disruption means for route 255 and travel from Kirkland to Seattle. Metro thinks that riders going from Kirkland to Seattle should take route 255 to UW station, transfer to Link running every 15 minutes to Capitol Hill, find a shuttle bus stop, and take a shuttle bus running every 15 minutes?

    And if today we can still transfer to route 545 instead, once East Link opens that option fully goes away, and the only option is the three steps above?

    Please restore route 255 direct to downtown when it was actually useful to most riders. Even if you loop it at Pike/Pine. It can’t be much different in service hours than the cluster that is the Montlake exit and U-District traffic

    1. Can someone explain why the same pro-truncation arguments for the route 255 don’t also apply to the route 545?

      1. They do apply. I put in several restructure feedbacks to truncate the 545. It’s just that the decisions were made by two different agencies on a route-by-route basis, not on any common criteria. Metro was long reluctant to truncate one-seat rides but it got bold in 2016-2019 and the 255 was one of those. ST was more conservative and added runs to the 542 but kept the 545.

        One difference between the two is Redmond is a higher-ridership city, and before covid the 545 ran every 5 minutes but was still packed to the gills until 10:30am.

        The 255 has just persistently had bad luck. Right after the truncation covid hit, the 255 lost the frequency boost that compensated for the truncation, and Link was reduced to half-hourly weekends, so the backbone the 255 depended on was no longer there. Then whenever 520 construction, Montlake Bridge closures, Husky games, or marathons forced reroutes, Metro failed to consider where most of its passengers were going, and boneheadedly ran it nonstop around to UW Station from what I gather, even though many passengers were really going to the U-District or downtown and it could have stopped for them. Or it could have terminated at Intl Dist and people could take Link to UW. Or it could have gone the other way in the U-District and made stops from I-5 to UW Station and terminated there. Hopefully Metro will get better at this in the future.

        How long has 255 reroute stopped at Mercer Island? This is the first I’ve heard of it. It’s a reasonable way to serve downtown-bound passengers without the delay of getting off the freeway downtown and getting back on. Although it’s not that helpful on Sundays when both the 550 and the 554 are half-hourly and uncoordinated.

        Kirkland is just generally screwed. But its low ridership makes it less of a priority compared to Bellevue, Redmond, and Renton. I don’t see that many people on the 255. And when I used to ride the 250 from Bellevue TC to 116th & 12th, zero or one people were continuing north toward Kirkland. The 226 turned east there, and it had 4-8 riders. I couldn’t believe that few people were traveling between Bellevue and Kirkland. (asdf2 says ridership is higher in the Kirkland-Redmond part of the route.)

        One image from high school in the early 80s stays with me. One Memorial Day I took the 255 from Kirkland to downtown and I was the only one on the bus. I transferred to the 71/72/73X to the U-District, and it was standing room only on an articulated bus.

      2. For a while the 255 was a main trunk bus on the Eastside. Pre truncation and pre Covid it ran every 9-15 minutes weekdays with good loads.

        It was truncated when Covid hit so it’s impossible to separate the effects. But it’s fair to say that when other buses are back up to 60% of more of their ridership, the 255 has lost most of its ridership. Downtown jobs not returning in person is a factor. But the 255 also went much closer to Amazon offices and was more convenient for S. Kirkland P&R users. Evenings and weekends it’s simply too much work to use the 255, especially returning to the Eastside.

        Speaking for myself, if I go to a show at the Paramount or meet someone for dinner, I’m parking downtown or lower Capitol Hill and driving instead of using the bus, even if I have to pay bridge toll. I can usually find parking. For two of us the bridge toll is not any more than bus fare.

        Similar arguments do apply to the 545 but when East Link is running it’s a partial substitute. Not for the 520 freeway stations, where that infrastructure will be rendered wasted.

        The silliness of 255 service due to SR-520 construction reroutes and football games is simply an added complexity that says to avoid it. Also Metro drops evening runs in an unpredictable fashion including when it’s down to 30 minute frequency.

        Metro and ST are begging people not to use the Link shuttle buses tonight. How much easier if 255 served downtown instead of UW station.

      3. The thing with the 255, there isn’t the service hours to run separate Kirkland routes to both downtown and the U district, so you have to pick one.

        On a normal day (no Husky game, no construction detour), a U district routing adds maybe 5 minutes to go downtown. But, a downtown routing adds at least 20 minutes to go to the U district, as the least bad way to do it is an untimed connection at Evergreen Point to a 542 that runs only every 30 minutes – going downtown and backtracking to Link is worse. A u district connection is also not just about the U district. It’s also the best connection point to reach Green Lake, Northgate, or pretty much anywhere in Seattle north of the ship canal.

        For people that believe that the purpose of the bus is to get to a few blocks of Seattle with the tallest buildings, known as “downtown”, and for every other part of the city, that’s what cars are for, so the bus doesn’t matter, a U district routing sounds nonsensical. But, for someone who doesn’t have a car and wants maximal freedom to get to as many parts of Seattle as quickly as possible, a 255 that goes to the U district wins. Of course, if money we’re infinite, two separate routes would be better still, but money is finite, so that’s not an option.

        Me personally, I go to Seattle a lot, but downtown Seattle only rarely. My biggest destinations are in the area around UW/Green Lake/Fremont. Nearly all such trips are on an evening or weekend. For my use case, the new 255 is much better – even if I still need to transfer – and the old 255 borderline unusable. Fremont to Kirkland not only takes longer connecting downtown vs. the U district, it’s also less safe. For better or worse, mentally ill homeless people is much less of a problem in the U district than in downtown, and Montlake/Pacific is a much better spot, safety wise, to be waiting for a bus than 3rd/Pine.

        Yes, the new 255 doesn’t work well when there are Link service interruptions or Husky games. But, in the future, once all ongoing construction projects are complete, that should become much rarer. In the meantime, for this weekend, there are other options besides riding the Link shuttles. For instance, you can stay on the 255 to Campus Parkway and take the #70 bus to downtown. Or, if you’re beginning the trip in a car, you can drive to Mercer Island park and ride instead of South Kirkland park and ride, and ride the 550 instead of the 255. If you don’t hit traffic on 405, this option to downtown is probably fastest. (Just don’t tell Daniel Thompson that you, as an off islander, are taking one of his parking spots).

      4. Yes, Orr is correct; three cautious agencies; it made sense to restructure routes 252, 255, 257, 268, 311, 424, and 545 in March 2016 and every year since. Note the possible relief to the capacity constraint in 2019 and the speed of Link between the UW and Westlake.

  11. Probably a lot of folks here are familiar with the Transit Costs Project which is doing comparative analyses of transit projects construction costs around the world in hope of providing information and paths that US politicians and administrators can use to bring down our absurdly high construction costs.

    There’s a recent interview with the TCP leader, and Sound Transit gets a call-out:

    Governing: One of the things that comes up in the reports is that politicization of decision-making at the micro-scale raises costs. Can you describe an example of how that works?

    Eric Goldwyn: There are a couple different ways. If you look at Seattle, for instance, their board at Sound Transit is all elected officials. And they have to approve the decision to pick a locally preferred alternative. Building transit is sometimes controversial at a very local level. Some people maybe want the train to go here or there or don’t want it to cut through this or that sensitive area. So when you have elected officials who feel the heat on those things, they might say, you know, “Let’s study this alternative.” Or “Let’s not make a decision on this for another three months.” Or, “Let’s extend the comment period so people can air whatever they want to air.” You can look at the West Seattle and Ballard project — they’ve extended the comment period one or two times and they’ve postponed making a decision on the locally preferred alternative. That’s just kicking the can down the block.

    To use simple numbers, if you have a $5 billion project and you assume 5 percent inflation per year, then every year you’re not making a decision, it costs $250 million. Every six months you’re not making a decision, it’s $125 million. So if you decide to study something for six more months, OK, we can do that, but you have to understand that’s going to add, at a minimum, $125 million to this project cost. It’s useful to understand some of those tradeoffs. Delaying something that you’re going to do, after you said you’re going to do it, comes at a cost.

    1. PhillipG’s post raises two interesting issues:

      1. Historically it has been energy interests including pipelines and highway interests that have pushed to limit environmental or SEPA review of projects. For example Sen. Manchin wants to limit environmental and local (often Indian Reservation) review of energy projects. AG Ferguson is suing to block expansion of natural gas lines in WA. Arguably energy — especially if we need the electricity capacity to move fossil fuels to the grid — is much more important than passenger rail. In fact, freight rail is much more important than passenger rail. The reality is some of the projects like a 90 mile spine through many dense areas at speeds slower than the freeways alongside the tracks, or the insane idea to build passenger rail from Southern to Northern CA is the reap problem. The problem is many condition project review on whether they think the benefits outweighs the impacts when an EIS and SEPA review are designed to determine that without having the government’s opinion de facto approval.

      2. As I have pointed out many times the ST realignment was a charade. As noted in Phillip’s post, you can’t extend project completion five years and expect the taxes during the extension years to match or exceed the increase in project costs. Even in a low inflation environment, let alone 9%/year.

      Rail costs often have to do with lowball cost estimates to “sell” the project to the citizens. In this region, the biggest issue for Link is the revenue simply is inadequate to complete the promised projects, and unless paid ridership increases future M&O (that ST just raise $3 billion) is also severely over budget.

      Extending project completion five years only worsens this shortfall. My guess is the Board knew this, but hopes a ST 4 levy has a better chance passing in the future than now, or at least they won’t be on the Board when someone has to state the emperor has no clothes.

      1. With 1), energy infrastructure isn’t just about pipelines to move fossil fuels. In order to eventually achieve a carbon free electricity grid, you’re going to need lots of new high voltage power lines to move the electricity from the solar and wind farms that produce it to the cities that consume it.

        If the power lines get bogged down in endless environmental reviews, you end up with no choice but to keep burning the fossil fuels to keep the lights on, no matter how cheap solar and wind power get.

      2. Daniel, ST’s base taxation rate, which does not need continual re-authorization, will provide plenty of funding for ongoing M&O.

  12. So….. the contractor is working on various plans to bring the plinth repairs forward on East Link with the goal (maybe a stretch goal?) of starting service sometime in early 2024.

    I don’t know how those efforts are going, but with any new extension like this, ST is required to operate the extension in a demonstration face for a few months before being green-lighted to carry the general public. If the contractor is successful in speeding the repairs, then this non-passenger carrying demonstration phase *might* begin in late 2023.

    So here is the deal: since East Link in interlined with Central Link through the downtown core, and since Central Link is already cleared to carry passengers, does that mean that fare paying customers will be able to ride East Link in the urban core BEFORE customers will be allowed to ride East Link over the bridge to MI?

    Might riders in Seattle get the benefit of increased frequency and capacity on Link from IDS to NGS earlier than the opening of East Link itself?

    Ya, and I know that some on this blog claim that a doubling of Link capacity and frequency is “just semantics”, but I tend to disagree. I look forward to it, if for no other reason than lately I seem to be arriving at the Link stations just as my train departs!

    I’m currently in that other city to the south riding the rails. Portland has done a good job with LR and SC. I think ST has done better in some areas, but we could still learn a lot from Portland. For example, they don’t seem to be as stuck in this endless debate of bus vs rail, and it shows in real results.

    Kudos to Portland.

    1. Demonstration *phase*, not face. Err…

      Usually the demonstration phase is something like 4 to 6 months long, depending on issues discovered.

    2. ST hasn’t said anything about a westside stub. Line 2 is primarily for the Eastside. ST can increase Line 1 frequency or have short runs to Stadium without calling it Line 2. The only difference is whether Stadium or Judkins Park is served. I don’t see Judkins Park opening early. The Eastside stub is being championed by an ST board member and prominent Eastside politician, and business who think better transit will improve worker retention and sales and public satisfaction. Judkins Park is all residential and small, so it has no major commercial champion. North Seattle can have either a “Line 1” or a “Line 2” increase and it’s the same thing. ST hasn’t shown any interest in increasing frequency. It might if it gets concerned about crowding, but it hasn’t so far. So why would it do it now? Opening a westside Line 2 may require FTA approval, as an eastside Line 2 is undergoing. If not for the whole westside, at least for Judkins Park. When ST can simply increase Line 1 frequency without asking the FTA or changing the station signs, why wouldn’t it?

      1. @Mike Orr,

        I am most assuredly NOT suggesting a Westside only 2-Line, or any sort of new “stub”. Quite the contrary, I don’t think even Balducci’s Eastside only 2-Line will happen, and I’ve never understood the fascination for “stubs” on this blog.

        What I am asking is, “during the 2-Line demonstration phase, will riders be allowed to ride 2-Line trains between IDS and NGS?”

        It’s clear that passengers will not be able to ride 2-Line trains east of IDS during this period, that is per FTA policy, but north of IDS? Maybe!

        North of IDS the system is certified to carry passengers, and the LRV’s are the same as current and fully approved to. So would it be allowed? Because it would certainly provide benefits in the urban core.

        But to be clear. This is not a westside only line, and it is not some sort of stub. It is only a question about allowing passengers on the 2-Line LRV’s between IDS and NGS during the demonstration phase.

        Downside is you would have to sweep the LRV’s of passengers at IDS before allowing them to continue east, but this is no different than what ST has done with any other system extension, and the quality of the simulation might be better with door and passenger functions being exercised on part of the line.

        The frequency improvement comes from interlining East Link and Central Link trains in the urban core. This has always been the plan, and I can completely understand why ST wouldn’t implement any interim turnback line to improve short-term frequency given that they will get the frequency and capacity improvements anyhow when East Link opens. Opening an interim turnback line would simply be wasted time, effort, and money.

      2. I will note Mike that folks I know who are very knowledgeable about the construction and know Balducci personally have told me the concrete problems from The Spring District to Redmond Transit Center are much worse than ST has publicly acknowledged, and any truncated line would have to terminate at The Spring Dist.

        One thing the letter reveals is the frustration at the lack of transparency from the Board. The Board and Balducci knew as early as 2019 the plinths were a serious issue and could further delay opening East Link but did not disclose that until late 2022. It would be a mistake to think the letter is an endorsement of Balducci. Just the opposite.

        Tom stares the plinths on the East Channel Bridge preclude running a truncated segment to MI. I did not know that. Balducci’s original editorial and the two articles on this blog all assumed the segment would truncate at MI, with possibly some kind of “bus bridge” from Seattle to MI, a major cost in addition to current Eastside buses. If this is true it just further emphasizes that Balducci has no idea what she is talking about or is not being honest in the extent of the problems.

        I don’t think MI cares if the line truncates at S. Bellevue, but the reasons why should be clearer, and Microsoft needs to know if a truncated line can really reach its campus.

      3. Oh, you mean when the full Line 2 is in testing. It might! U-Link trains kicked passengers off at Westlake if I remember right. Did Northgate Link trains do it at UW?

      4. “I will note Mike that folks I know who are very knowledgeable about the construction and know Balducci personally have told me the concrete problems from The Spring District to Redmond Transit Center are much worse than ST has publicly acknowledged, and any truncated line would have to terminate at The Spring Dist. One thing the letter reveals is the frustration at the lack of transparency from the Board. The Board and Balducci knew as early as 2019 the plinths were a serious issue and could further delay opening East Link but did not disclose that until late 2022.”

        You say a lot of things that the board supposedly knows or believes, but there’s little other evidence that they do.

        If the stub really can’t open east of Spring District, we’ll know that eventually, and the stub won’t happen. The main motivation for the stub is the longer distance between Bellevue and Redmond, and to connect those two major cities and jobs. Maybe the people talking to you are right, but they’re anonymous so it’s hard to tell, and there’s no other evidence to collaborate it.

        “Balducci’s original editorial and the two articles on this blog all assumed the segment would truncate at MI”

        We assumed either South Bellevue or Mercer Island, since we weren’t sure if trains could get to Mercer Island or turn around there.

      5. Mike, The Seattle Times reported the Board knew as early as 2019 the plinths would likely further delay opening East Link but did not report that to the stakeholders until 2022. I think that is the frustration in the letter.

        I have a hard time believing the Board doesn’t know whether the issues with the concrete would allow opening a segment from The Spring Dist. to Overlake. It would be irresponsible to float this idea without first knowing whether it is feasible. You mention the truncated line will run to Redmond. Redmond Link won’t open until 2024-5 no matter what, and I don’t see the first/last mile access except park and rides, especially from S. Bellevue or Redmond Transit Center, assuming that park and ride is fixed.

        I have always thought it will be difficult to get an eastsider out of their car and onto Link if their destination is on the Eastside. It isn’t as if Microsoft doesn’t have a zillion parking stalls.

      6. @Mike Orr,


        If I remember right, the demonstration phase typically lasts for 3 to 6 months. That is a long time, and if riders in the urban core can use those trains during that period it will make a huge difference.

        It would be great if Seattle riders get to use East Link 3 to 6 months before East Link officially opens.

      7. “You mention the truncated line will run to Redmond.”

        Redmond Tech. South Bellevue to Redmond Tech. Redmond Downtown is in a later phase. Although East Link’s delay may end up running into it so they’d open together.

        “The main motivation for the stub is the longer distance between Bellevue and Redmond, and to connect those two major cities and jobs.”

        Here I was talking about the general cities, not specific stations. Although here I forgot it wouldn’t serve all of Redmond. When I think of “going to Redmond” I think of downtown Redmond. If the stub doesn’t go that far, that’s a strike against its usefulness. On the other hand, the only alternative off-peak is the B or 250, and they are both much slower. That’s one of the impetuses for the early stub. But you’re right, people may forget it wouldn’t go all the way to downtown Redmond, and that makes it less worthwhile than if it did.

      8. “If I remember right, the demonstration phase typically lasts for 3 to 6 months.”

        The word is “testing”, not “demonstration”. Demonstration sounds like an exhibit to an audience or a soft opening with passengers or the press.

      9. @Mike Orr,

        Testing and demonstration are actually completely different in the regulatory environment.

      10. Then what do you mean by demonstration? The testing phase is 3-9 months when the trains run without passengers. Is this what you’re calling demonstration? The regulations may call it that but ST’s marketing and the newspapers call it testing, so that’s what the public knows it by. And we’re part of the public.

      11. One important thing to remember is that if Line 2 acceptance testing goes all the way to Northgate, those trains will to some degree limit ST’s ability to add turn-back frequency north of IDS. So, if trains are getting full at that time, ST had better let passengers on those Line 2 acceptance trains.

      12. The East Link contractor has recently (just in the last week or so) finished demolishing all the plinths on the East Channel Bridge. The rails are stacked on the north side of the ROW. So they are making quick progress there, at least so far.

      13. What I am asking is, “during the 2-Line demonstration phase, will riders be allowed to ride 2-Line trains between IDS and NGS?”

        Good question. Anyone have experience with this? What we are building is fairly common — just a new branch. Folks in other cities may remember when this sort of thing happened, and what they did.

        It seems like it will be weird for riders either way. Either riders see a set of trains that doesn’t open its doors at the stations, or kicks everyone out at IDS. Either way, I assume that the test phase would involve intermittent operations, instead of running trains opposite the other line all day long (as will eventually happen). Hopefully the answer to your question is “yes”, as it would provide a nice improvement while we wait for East Link to be fully operational.

    3. Ya, and I know that some on this blog claim that a doubling of Link capacity and frequency is “just semantics”

      I doubt there are many people that feel that way. A very large portion of the ridership is between downtown and Northgate. Doubling frequency in that section will be a huge improvement for lots of riders.

  13. Two different roads in Seattle are named after a former mayor. One road for his first name, the other for his last name. Both roads are in the same neighborhood. What are the names of the two roads?

    1. Corliss Stone, 1872-1873. Corliss Ave N and Stone Way N. From the Seattle mayors list. That one stood out to me because when we moved to Seattle in 1972, we first stayed at the Camlin Hotel, then at a house in Haller Lake. Meridian Ave N splits to go around the lake, Densmore Ave N on the west side, and Corliss Ave N on the east side. Stone Ave N is a few blocks west.

      At the Camlin Hotel I had my first experience with snow, hot chocolate, and non-vanilla ice cream. I found Emergency! was on channel 5 instead of channel 4 (as it was in San Jose). Sesame Street was still on channel 9. My preschool was in a building across the street, with a playground on the roof where we played tug-of-war.

  14. That Democrats have kept the Senate means that two years of the Infrastructure Bill will continue as allocated. So ST will get money from it, as will the Interstate Bridge Replacement.

    Had that taken the Senate along with the House, Republicans would have repealed the transit portions using Reconciliation.

    1. The infrastructure bill was bipartisan. Pork for everyone. Plus reconciliation in the Senate is pointless if the President vetoes the bill.

      No matter who takes the house I don’t see much getting done in the next two years. Fiscal spending only exacerbates inflation. Plus Sinema and Manchin are pretty conservative and Manchin feels played that he didn’t get his energy regulatory reform bill, so he won’t vote for anything unless that legislation Schumer Promised him is included.

      If R’s win the house which will be a slim majority it will be chaos run by the Freedom Caucus, but sound and fury with lots of payback investigations.

      To Mike’s question, East Link always had a nine month testing period, but after the delay to 2023 ST stated it could shorten that to 6 months, although I think the floating bridge segment would probably need the full nine months.

      1. Daniel, you make good points about reconciliation and vetoes. I do expect that the “R’s” will try to hold Biden hostage to the Debt Limit, and part of the ransom might be switching the transit portions of the Infrastructure Bill to roads. As Republicans are pushed ever farther from power in the New England states where transit is popular and essential, there’s no internal check on the autoistas of the Freedumb Caucus.

        Nancy should make her final contribution to sane government in the US a Debt Limit of $100 trillion, so it doesn’t come up every couple of years. Maybe $200 trillion. If anything is “reconcilable”, it ought to be the Debt Limit, which at least potentially has enormous i pact on the Federal Budget.


    Went up on the 594 mid-day on Saturday on my way to Roosevelt. I knew Link was closed, so brought my bike as bridge.

    But there was little ambassador communication, there were crowds of clueless people in SODO. And even my driver was uninformed as to what was going on. I had to take it upon myself to make an announcement to the folks on my bus. Their were a fair amount of folks with disabilities that were understandably freaking out. I never saw any shuttles, and the the communication appeared woefully inadequate.

    Do better, ST.

    1. Elevator report. Not sure how many there are at roosevelt, but the North one was closed for repairs. Walked up the stairs with my bike on my shoulder, because I’ve been chastised for using the escalators. That was a lot of stairs for an old man.

      1. Huh?

        It’s a Sunday. Are you sure it was closed for “repairs”? Because it is a Sunday. ST often dies routine maintenance like this on the weekends. Because, you know, being a commuter oriented system, doing routine maintenance on weekends will inconvenience fewer customers.

        But regardless, ST designed this problem out. There are two elevators at Roosevelt Station. Just take the other one. That is exactly why ST installed two.

        It’s pretty easy. Just take the other elevator.

      2. To be fair, WSDOT does disruptive highway work on nights or weekends too, in order to inconvenience fewer drivers.

      3. It was Saturday. I understand there was likely another elevator. It may or may not have been working.

        My complaints are about communication. There were hundreds of clueless people milling about SODO with little direction. They hadn’t even told their drivers that they were closing the spine between sodo and cap hill. That’s absolutely a legitimate point of criticism.

        And there was no sign saying if or where there was another elevator. Sure. I could have searched around. But it may have not existed. And it may have been broken too, if it did. Rather that diddle about guessing, I walked. I was in a hurry, and didn’t have time to futz around getting sucked further into Sound Transit’s bad hair day.

        Communication. Bad.

      4. @Cam,

        My comment was in response to your comment about the elevator at Roosevelt Station. Note the nesting.

        The elevator at Roosevelt being down for maintenance has nothing to do with the bus bridge at SoDo. It is a separate event.

        The next time you are at one of the ST designed stations and you encounter an elevator which is out of service, I’d highly recommend that you simply use the other elevator. This is exactly why there are two.

        The elevators are usually conveniently located at opposite ends of the platform. They are easy to find and clearly marked. The only reason to take the stairs is if you want to get some exercise. Your choice.

      5. “The elevator at Roosevelt being down for maintenance has nothing to do with the bus bridge at SoDo. It is a separate event.”

        I know that.

        And I also suspected that there were 2 elevators. My beef is that I would have had to walk the entire distance of the platform to confirm it. If I was wrong, I’m now 15 minutes late to my meeting rather than 8 minutes. It’s really simple to post a sign.

      6. @Cam,

        If you are already running late, then the prudent thing to do would be to check all their pertinent station info before arriving at the station. Things like exit and stair location are very important when making up time, especially when you are already running late.

        Additionally, ST puts their elevator outage info right on their webpage. For example, right now their is an elevator out at University Street Station in the old Metro bus tunnel. ST has posted the following info about the current outage:

        “ University St 3rd Avenue (Exit C) elevator unavailable until further notice due to mechanical issue

        When the Exit C elevator is not operating, passengers requiring elevator service can use either the Exit A2 elevator to 3rd Avenue & University Street, or the accessible Exit B pathway to exit at 2nd Ave & University St.”

        Similar info was undoubtably posted for the Roosevelt elevator outage you encountered. Checking this info in advance would have saved you considerable time.

      7. If the elevator is out because of planned maintenance, then the lack of good signage is a bigger flaw. When things break down (unexpectedly) it may take an agency a while to deal with it. Ideally any closure should cause an agency to “jump into action”. They should call the repair crew, and place signs at the appropriate place, update kiosks, etc. But all of that requires money, and it is unlikely that ST has enough people at each station to do that. A roaming crew could do that, but again, it isn’t clear that it would be worth it.

        But if it is a planned closure, it is different. They have all week to plan the closure, and can send people to the station to notify people, so they don’t waste their time going to an elevator/escalator that is closed.

      8. @lazurus. No, this is not on me. I’m more educated on transit that 95% of the folks using it. And I live in Tacoma. This is on ST. If I have no idea if walking the entire platform is worth my time, no one else does either. That is something that could be easily remedied, if they gave two shits about their customers.

        BTW, the only reason I was late was that the announcements at Husky Stadium said 10 minutes and it a train didn’t show until 20. I could easily been on time if I had just continued riding up 20th. But I’m a transit geek and I wanted see Roosevelt station. It was beautiful, btw. The staircase was fantastic.

        Remember, I was the one telling 50 clueless people, and the f’in Sound Transit bus driver, what was up with link.

        Stop being a ridiculous apologist for ST. It’s embarrassing.

      9. @Cam,

        Just consider it to be a learning experience. Now you know that there are two elevators, that they are roughly on opposite ends of the platform, and that you can check for outages on the ST webpage. Those are all good things to know.

        And we all make mistakes. I got off the NS Streetcar in Portland last weekend at the wrong stop. I was able to recognize it quickly, and managed to get back on using the door open request button, but it was sort of embarrassing. Oh well.

        I apologized to the operator. He smiled.

      10. Of course I consider it a learning experience.

        Before I recommend a transit route to others, I ride a few times to make sure I’m not going lead folks astray, and I can give them tips.

        But my point is that this should not be necessary. Very simple messaging and signage could make trips far less likely to be disastrous.

        Another example where a bit of signage would be helpful is the 560E and 560W. They are served by the same stop in the same direction on the same side of the street at Seatac. It’s pretty easy for the uninitiated to end up in Burien instead of Renton and visa versa. That’s a pretty big disaster. Like an hour. When I was a victim I asked the driver if this happened frequently. He said multiple times a day.

        That is something that a little signage would help, and ST should be actively asking for feedback for these kinds of things, to make these much less frequent.

    2. It seems like they really should have more than just a bus bridge when they do this.

      When MAX was closed for the track replacement near Lloyd Center, they had a number of bypass routes, including a Portland Airport to Interstate Ave MAX line connection.

      For this, you could do something like a Mt Baker to UW bus bridge that would relieve some of the tangle at the downtown stations and crowding on the local bus bridge between end points.

      1. The “navigators” or whatever they were called, were simply ill-informed. One stuck his head into our 594 and asked if this was the shuttle. The bus driver said “I go up 4th.” He had no idea what the dude was even talking about.

        There are lots of metro buses that go to capital hill. There should have been a team at SODO making sure people understood their options. It didn’t appear the navigators were trained, or even new the obvious metro routes.

  16. Was riding the rails in Portland this last weekend. Very enjoyable. Was able to get almost everywhere without ever driving.

    Was curious about some of the specifics, so checked out what was published on Wikipedia. Apparently 2nd quarter 2022 weekday ridership for Max was 62,200. Oddly enough, the ridership for Link over the same period was 71,600.

    So apparently Link ridership is now about 15% higher than Max ridership. And that is before East Link, Lynnwood Link, and Federal Way Link come on line.

    Has Link really passed Max in ridership?

    1. It could be that if Max and Link ridership were compared over the last few years, Max has been recovering more slowly than Link.

      1. Yeah, MAX ridership is about 1/3 what it was in 2019. Despite its numerous flaws, the basics of Link are better than MAX, at least currently. The current Link line serves a lot of places people want to go and replaced surface transit that was really slow. MAX doesn’t go to as many important places.

        In 2019, it was some 160,000 average weekday. Weekend ridership on the orange and green has never been especially strong, so some of it depends on where you are and if you are looking at weekday or weekend ridership,

      2. @Glen in Portland,

        I would have expected Max to be less impacted by the pandemic than Link.

        Both systems are centered on downtown, but Portland has done a better job of maintaining a relatively safe feeling downtown environment and retaining a vibrant retail district. Seattle has basically flushed all that away with our non-response to homelessness and the pandemic.

        Plus, with Seattle’s downtown job mix, I’d expect WFH to have a larger negative impact on Link ridership than the similar factors would have on Max ridership. But I guess not.

        So I’m a bit surprised to see Link ridership ahead of Max’s so early after the pandemic, and by so much.

        But hey, with NGS opening it seems like a lot of people have really adapted to having Link available. Can’t wait for the much larger impact of East Link and Lynnwood Link opening. It’s going to be awesome.

      3. Yeah, it is surprising that Max is down by a third, while Link isn’t. It gets tricky, because you can’t easily isolate the effect of Northgate Link. For example, Othello is roughly 2/3 of its peak. Some of that is just natural recovery, but some has to do with the expansion. That being said, the new stations are a big part of Link, but not that big, which means that most of the recovery is just people taking trips they used to take. But with Max, they aren’t making those trips. Hard to say why. Maybe Portland just isn’t doing as well as Seattle. Prior to the pandemic, Seattle was one of the few cities with increasing transit share. Some of that was due to better bus service (within the city proper) but some of it was just increased urbanization. Despite the rhetoric, Seattle continues to urbanize, which would explain the numbers. It isn’t that Seattle is more resilient exactly, it is just that there are forces moving in opposition (fewer commuters, but lots more people taking urban trips in the middle of the day). Maybe that isn’t happening to the same degree in Portland.

        It is worth noting that the “Seattle is dying” meme is just part of a national anti-urban message (I’m sure that Portland has something similar). Seattle remains stronger than most cities, and in much better shape than the areas that are really struggling (like the rural areas in the south). But “Rural Mississippi is dying” or “Cape Coral is dying” isn’t going to appeal to the Fox News set.

    2. I’m not surprised. Link has better urban speeds than Max does. Plus, Max is mostly oriented to serving Downtown Portland and a branch to the airport than while has many destinations that are difficult and expensive to park at (Cap Hill, UW, U District, SeaTac). Downtowns took a huge trip-making hit with Covid.

      Max was getting about 120k per weekday in 2019 ( That’s similar to Link if Northgate extension is added (80k + 41k to 49k in forecasts according to this source: It was always going to be close, but Link is pulling ahead.

      1. For an urbanist, if you want to live near a MAX station and take it to your various destinations, it doesn’t give a lot of choices. It misses the Hawthorne District and Powell Blvd. It hugs the Banfield freeway between the Lloyd District and Gateway, and each station has only a few buildings and businesses within walking distance. If you live downtown or can get to one of those stations, the only places it really takes you are downtown, the suburbs, and the far end of Washington Park.

        The Blue/Red lines also spends 20 minutes crawling through downtown, due to surface running and stations very close together. They’re finally talking about a downtown tunnel and closing some stations, forty years late. The Yellow/Green lines at least improve on this, with fewer stations so it can reach a normal speed.

        Link has several major advantages with a downtown tunnel, stations in the middle of the U-District and Broadway, and serving the length of Rainier Valley. Its freeway running is north of Northgate and south of Angle Lake, where it’s less important where exactly it runs. North of Northgate it’s not missing any villages comparable to those between Westlake and Northgate (except Lake City, which is out of its way). South of Angle Lake it got caught in a dispute between Des Moines and Federal Way who wanted it on I-5, and Kent who wanted it on 99.

        If you want a high-ridership, transformative metro, it has to be like those in Vancouver, DC, Chicago, or Europe. Grade-separated speed, serving many walkable areas, with many housing choices close to stations. That’s what makes it convenient to live without a car, and so people do.

        Link and MAX are challenged in different ways. Link connects walkable activity centers in North Seattle, downtown, and Rainier Valley. It misses some opportunities north and south of it (mainly on Aurora and Pacific Highway, which have tons of room for housing expansion). WSBLE is missing more opportunities in some of the alternatives, but at least it gets to the walkable neighborhoods.

        MAX crawls downtown and doesn’t serve as many other areas pedestrians want to go. But it has five lines, so it goes to more total neighborhoods. If we had approved Forward Thrust in 1970, we’d have had a few lines open in the early 80s, and several expansions after that. And I could have ridden it between ages 16 and 43. That would have helped me and other non-drivers a lot, and given others a more robust alternative to driving and freeways and low-density houses.

        Still, Portland had several lines, and its per-capita ridership was still lower. Why was that? It’s harder to get people out of their cars in a smaller city or metropolitan area, because there aren’t as many destinations to go to, it’s easier to drive to them, and there aren’t hundreds of thousands of other people in walkable areas making them a sizeable city of their own. And Portland has more wide parallel arterials like Stark and Burnside and Powell in addition to the freeway, which makes it easier to drive and harder to think about doing anything else. In that respect, Portland is more like most American cities than Seattle is, and is smaller too. In Germany even a small city of 50,000 or 200,000 can have a robust transit network and high ridership, but that requires a significant local and national commitment to the infrastructure that American cities don’t have.

      2. Max was getting about 120k per weekday in 2019

        OK, that makes more sense. Glenn wrote that Max had 160,000 before the pandemic. Absent the pandemic, Link ridership would have had to double to pass it. For as good as Northgate Link is, that seems unrealistic. On the other hand, a 50% increase seems roughly what happened.

      3. Yeah, Portland is a significantly smaller city, with fewer dense neighborhoods.

        But that isn’t the only difference. Max operates like low-floor light rail is supposed to operate — on the surface. In contrast, Link has built a very expensive hybrid system that mostly operates as a light-metro or subway. Very little of it is on the surface, and it runs very quickly when it is running that way. There are drawbacks to having a low-floor light rail line operate in this manner, but in the grand scheme of things, it is a minor issue. Link could increase capacity if it just ran like a metro (with higher floor cars) but the difference would be minor. The main thing is, Link costs way more than Max — you would expect it to carry more people.

      4. Some concrete examples:

        • Orange line could have served Sellwood and gained thousands more riders. Preference was given to a vacant highway corridor to serve a park and ride lot, generating perhaps 100 riders per day at pre-pandemic peak. It would have been expensive to build because it would have to be either in a tunnel or take a surface street (which would not have been allowed).

        • The green line connects a few of the busy bus routes, but there is nothing within walking distance of most of the stations. If it were build elevated above 82nd Avenue it could have far more near the stations.

        • 25 years after being built, the “downtown” Beaverton station is mostly surrounded by parking lots and vacant land.

        • One of the largest college campuses in Oregon in terms of student numbers is Mt Hood Community College. MAX falls 1.5 miles short.

        • There are no freeway bus stops, so stuff like CTran 65 from east Clark County are stuck in traffic until they get to an exit, then crawl all the way from the exit to the MAX station.

        Cedar Hills, Gateway, Clackamas and Parkrose transit centers are surrounded by traffic and getting from MAX to anything people actually want to go to is an undertaking.

        • The current plan for MAX to Vancouver, WA surrounds the stations with freeway interchanges, rather than putting the line somewhere useful.

        • The yellow line ends at an exposition center that isn’t used that often.

        Because of these vacant places MAX serves, getting to places that are actually useful means either transfers, or using the same slow surface buses as before.

        There are certain things MAX does better than Link, but Link does a better job at reducing overall transit times to the places people want to go.

        Part of the problem is MAX planning is done by a land use agency, and then TriMet has to figure out how to build it. I feel that if actual transit people had a say in where MAX got built we would get much better lines.

      5. @Mike Orr,

        Portland, Seattle, and VanBC are all roughly the same population. They are all within less than a 100k of each other, with Seattle actually being the larger of the 3 cities.

        What is different between the 3 cities is density and the size of the surrounding metropolitan area. Portland is by far the least dense, and the city basically is the metropolitan area. Portland is just much more spread out so it feels much smaller.

        And I don’t understand your comment about per capita ridership in Portland. Traditionally Portland has been slightly smaller than Seattle, but has also had higher rail ridership. That would make their per capita rail ridership higher.

        Now if you compare all of Portland transit ridership, or compare to the Seattle metropolitan area, then I’m not sure. Portland tends to have smaller bus ridership because they have rail and prefer it, and there is no comparison between the Portland metropolitan area and the Seattle metropolitan area. If that is the comparison you wish to make then it is back to apples and oranges.

      6. I meant metro areas and total transit ridership. News reports since at least the 2000s have said Pugetopolis’ total per-capita transit ridership is higher than the Portland metro’s, and higher than most metros in the US except much larger ones.

        There are many reasons for this. Small cities/metro areas have a harder time shaking off the idea that they’re still a small town and too small for a comprehensive transit network. Low-density advocates reinforce this by pursuing a small-town/rural feel. When there is a smaller absolute number of transit riders and non-driving neighbors, people get rural-minded and think cars are the only way. Downtown Seattle retained a larger percent of jobs than most metro areas (I don’t know about Portland’s downtown in particular). Metro’s extensive express routes to downtown since the 1970s helped keep that viable, and with Community Transit, ST Express, Link, and Sounder, downtown Seattle’s drive-alone work-commute share went down to 30% in the late 2010s. Portland has no comparable express network except MAX. Metro got an award in the 1990s for being the largest bus-only network in the country. (Meaning areas with larger bus networks also have rail.) Culturally, Seattle has pro-transit influences from its New England settlers, Scandinavian immigrants, and proximity to Vancouver BC and Canada. Portland share’s the northwest eco-mindedness, but it’s closer to California and has more of that 20th century car influence. Like those wide arterials paralleling MAX and the freeway in eastern Portland and Gresham. And one of its suburbs is in another state, and the combined tax quirks mean you can live in Clark County and work in Portland and avoid both income tax and sales tax. This attracts anti-tax people, who also tend to be anti-transit people.


    This is ST’s August 18, 2022 update for East Link’s opening. I don’t see anything about plinths on the East Channel Bridge between Mercer Island and the eastside, which of course is not a floating bridge with the same vibration issues. Our stations have been completed for some time, although the landscaping along 80th and the roundabout are a few months from being completed.

    So the decision to not include Mercer Island in any truncated eastside segment does not have to do with plinths, or the inability to run trains from MI east.

    My guess is what is the point of including Mercer Island? The eastside transit restructure won’t be effective until all of East Link opens, and so any buses accessing Mercer Island will continue on to Seattle, Bellevue or Issaquah/North Bend, so why get off on MI. MI would object to serving as a bus bridge from Seattle, and I doubt such a rerouting of buses could be completed by 2024-5. I can’t see any eastside riders taking East Link to Mercer Island. Why would they? The 550 accesses the S. Bellevue Parking lot from Seattle in a pretty straight shot with not much congestion today, AND continues onto Bellevue Way.

    The real question is who will use this truncated segment from S. Bellevue to wherever?

    First, although I only know what I have been told I am not sure the truncated line can make it to Microsoft. Wilburton and The Spring Dist. are not destinations at this time, and won’t be for a long time unless you are shopping for a car. Overlake is a pretty poor area according to the article in the Sunday Seattle Times comparing Bellevue neighborhoods, and the commercial area is spread out. So where will riders be going on East Link from the S. Bellevue Park and Ride?

    And how will they get to S. Bellevue?

    If you live in Seattle and are one of the very few still commuting to Microsoft’s campus you are not poor, and there is enormous free parking capacity. So why not just drive to the campus rather than to S. Bellevue to catch East Link for the last leg of the trip (including 520)? Your car will certainly be safer at Microsoft. (I don’t know if Microsoft still runs shuttles from Seattle, which would eliminate transfers and many stops).

    Same with those coming from the Issaquah region. Where are they going on this truncated line? If they are going to Bellevue Way between Main and NE 8th they might drive to the park and ride to catch the 550, but not East Link, but I don’t think they are doing this today. Or maybe catch East Link to Microsoft, but I don’t think many work on the campus anymore.

    Would someone living in Redmond drive to the park and ride at the transit center to go west? First I don’t know if the park and ride will be open due to the issues with the concrete. Second if they are going to Microsoft just park at Microsoft or catch the shuttle directly to Microsoft. They won’t be going to The Spring Dist. or Wilburton, and downtown Bellevue is on Bellevue Way, not 110th/112th. Why would they go to S. Bellevue Park and Ride? To catch the 550 to downtown Seattle? No one is on the 550 today, and who lives in Redmond and works in downtown Seattle anymore?

    I think Lazarus hit on a point about S. Bellevue Park and Ride, and why there is a 1500 stall park and ride. Even when all of East Link opens folks living in the Issaquah region are not going to take a bus from a park and ride to S. Bellevue to catch East Link. They will drive directly to S. Bellevue (or maybe MI if going to downtown Seattle). I think this is true for Redmond as well. Or they may opt for the 554 because it goes to Bellevue between Main and NE 8th. East Link just like buses on the eastside has always struck me as very dependent on park and rides. I don’t see eastsiders taking a bus to East Link. There are just too many better ways to get from A to B.

    One issue I would be concerned about opening a truncated line is if no one comes. A lot of development projects in Wilburton and The Spring Dist. are getting hammered by rising interest rates and the decline in the work commuter, and were all planned pre-pandemic. If no one is on East Link and I am the bank with the loan I would be pretty nervous about projects in Wilburton (3rd class office space) and The Spring Dist. (2nd class office space), especially when I look at downtown Seattle.

    At least if East Link does not open until 2025 everyone can still believe the pre-pandemic dream about East Link. In a few months the roundabout and two station entrances on MI will look they are ready for a grand party, although my suspicion is few riders will show up when the party begins.

    1. “So the decision to not include Mercer Island in any truncated eastside segment does not have to do with plinths, or the inability to run trains from MI east.”

      The bulletin may not clearly written, but a basic step of critical thinking to at least look at the sources of information when the summary seems to contradict other reporting. See Slide 7:

      All the contract E130 plinths are toast – including the I-90 bridge east of MI. Several folks have commented on this on previous posts. To read a press-release and just assume otherwise without following its instruction to review linked materials is just pure laziness.

      1. You are correct Nathan, I did rely on ST’s press release. I also relied upon Balducci’s original editorial in the Seattle Times, Sherwin Lee’s May 2, 2022 article, Sherwin Lee’s Sept. 16, 2022 article, and the dozens if not hundreds of posts on this blog discussing MI serving as a bus intercept bus/bridge as part of the eastside only East Link segment (including your own).

        As I posted earlier, I did not know East Link cannot run across the East Channel Bridge until Tom posted that. Nothing I saw on this blog or in the press indicated that, and in fact MI was presumed to be the bus bridge for buses coming from the westside although I didn’t think that made sense. Eddie posted trains could not run east from MI but then appeared to retract that in another post. So being confused I decided to do some research on the issue.

        Unfortunately, I have a very busy life and job, and I admit it was probably foolish to expect ST to be honest in a PRESS RELEASE, and I should have treated ST like a litigation adversary and read through all the attachments for the truth, and not relied upon those on this blog (except Tom who was right) who usually are pretty knowledgeable about transit. I am not sure if that says more about ST or me. Usually with ST I rely on objective evidence, like actual ridership numbers, actual farebox recovery, actual project costs, and whether a line has opened or not.

        In any case I still agree with Lazarus an eastside only segment is unlikely because it makes so little sense. I think my analysis of a segment from S. Bellevue to wherever (and ST’s duplicitous press release makes me more confident the problems I have been told about from The Spring Dist. to Microsoft are true) is still correct (whether from MI or S. Bellevue) because either way there will be so few riders.

        What your post did impress upon me is just how extensive the problems are. Effectively they run from the CID to S. Bellevue, and involve much more than just the plinths. I went back and read an Urbanist article on the subject and they think East Link very well might not open until 2026 or later:

        “While possibly just poorly chosen words, Belman’s pledge of within “about” four years hints Sound Transit isn’t even guaranteeing to open all four lines by 2026 which it had previously pledged by 2024. With the defects with the East Link plinths still not fully assessed, further delays could be in store, but it’s hard to see any projects slipping past 2026 based on what Sound Transit has revealed thus far. And for now, all seem to be pledged for 2025, if not sooner on Lynnwood Link’s part. The light rail delays also likely entail delays for the associated bus network restructures, with King County Metro planning a major Eastside bus restructure and Metro and Community Transit also planning to overhaul bus routes north of Northgate. Both had been timed to and designed around the opening of light rail.”

        Based on this August 17, 2022 ST memo I think a 2025 opening might be fanciful. Even then ST will only commit to at least a one year delay:

        “While it is too early to accurately assess the resulting East Link project delay, we expect it to be at least one year. The below sections describe these issues in a rough order of their severity. Currently, the first item related to concrete plinths is the only issue on the critical path”.

        Was I “purely lazy” in relying on ST’s press release, and not understanding ST is really an adversary when it comes to transparency (which is the real point of the letter from the stakeholders to the Board), as were the rest of us on this blog? I guess that depends on whether it was reasonable to rely on ST being honest in a press release of this magnitude. Unfortunately I think based on ST’s history of dishonesty and lack of candor that yes, I should not have relied on the press release, and feel a little foolish for making that mistake once again after 10 years of dealing with ST’s dishonesty that in the end always comes back to bite ST in the ass.

        No one on MI — including the city manager and city council , staff or citizens — also understood trains would not be able to run from MI east in any kind of eastside only segment, so your post was very helpful because now we know, although just like the stakeholders’ letter we feel we shouldn’t have to learn that from you and Tom.

    2. “If you live in Seattle and are one of the very few still commuting to Microsoft’s campus you are not poor, and there is enormous free parking capacity. So why not just drive to the campus rather than to S. Bellevue to catch East Link for the last leg of the trip (including 520)? Your car will certainly be safer at Microsoft. (I don’t know if Microsoft still runs shuttles from Seattle, which would eliminate transfers and many stops).”

      Why comment, if you’re that poorly informed? Thousands of people commute to MSFT campus from Seattle and yes, MSFT still runs shuttles from Seattle. A lot of them.

      1. I think Daniel is arguing about the relative value of an East Link system that doesn’t cross the water. He is arguing that no one from Seattle will drive to South Bellevue and then take the train (farther east). I agree. But who cares? No one is expecting South Bellevue to have big ridership before Link goes across the water, if ever. It is about the other trips. My guess is, it would mostly be trips that involve walking to a stop (not driving, or taking a bus). You really don’t need huge number of riders to justify operating a subway (unlike building one). There are enough densely populated areas (i. e. stations within walking distance of a fair number of people) just within the East Side to get ridership of a few thousand. This may be enough to justify opening early.

      2. Metabucks, your anonymous post makes me suspect you don’t work at Microsoft, or commute to the Redmond campus. Anyone familiar with Microsoft knows it still has not gone back to in office work, except for some senior executives who drive to the campus.

        But you miss the entire point I was making. The issue was whether it makes sense to open an eastside only segment of East Link from S. Bellevue to RTS (assuming ST determines it is possible to open the track and stations from The Spring Dist. to RTS in the next 6-9 months).

        How does Microsoft employees living in Seattle taking a dedicated shuttle to the Redmond campus support East Link ridership, or opening a truncated line early? There basically is very little at S. Bellevue except a park and ride, or East Main, or The Spring Dist., or at the Redmond Tech station except Microsoft.

        Are you suggesting Microsoft will truncate the few dedicated shuttles from Seattle at S. Bellevue when the entire point of the dedicated shuttles was to avoid the inconvenience of public transit? I doubt that, because then any Microsoft employee living in Seattle having to commute to Redmond would definitely drive considering there is a 3 million sf underground garage, and every Microsoft employee I know (and I know a lot) is either WFH or drives to the campus (although they tend to be upper-level executives).

        So how frequently Microsoft is running shuttles from Seattle to its Redmond campus (and I could not find the number of shuttles and frequency when I posted my earlier post), and how many Seattle Microsoft workers are actually taking the dedicated shuttle, actually cuts against opening a truncated East Link line from S. Bellevue to Microsoft, and as I have noted before I think Microsoft will continue dedicated shuttles from Seattle (and Issaquah) after East Link opens, even if on campus work stays low.


    I remember when Mercer Island was panned by progressives for enacting its very mild ban on camping in parks, that included annual $10,000 donations to eastside shelters (in addition to the city’s donations to ARCH) in case anyone was ever removed from a MI park and taken to the shelter, which of course has never happened.

    Since then Kent and Tacoma have followed suit, and even before MI every eastside city banned camping in parks. Seattle still has the harshest rules against camping in parks, making it a gross misdemeanor rather than a simple misdemeanor like other cities, not unlike Tacoma’s old penalties. And of course, Seattleites overwhelmingly elected a mayor and city attorney who made it job one to remove tents from streets and city parks. Ah, hypocrisy….

      1. fair enough. Sorry, Ross.

        Daniel: who are the hypocrites? Your comment implies it’s the progressives who “panned” Mercer Island in 2021, but to make that claim, there’d have to be some indication that progressives haven’t similarly opposed other “camping” bans.

        Unless what you’re chuffed about is the fact that Mercer Island (and the Eastside as whole) is generally derided by progressives, whereas poorer cities like Kent or Tacoma don’t face the same degree of ire when they make some similar policy decisions. Any thoughts on why that could be?

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