The Urbanist has a news roundup on Sound Transit and Community Transit activities. Stride 3 (Shoreline-Bothell) is at 60% design. Community Transit is starting to write a new long-range plan. Sound Transit is asking the public about access alternatives at the South Tacoma Sounder station.

Other than that there’s been little news, so it’s up to the comments to launch discussions.

Update: A very interesting discussion of Link stations’ walk scores is in the comments.

155 Replies to “Open Thread: Slow News Day”

  1. Would be nice to see Stride extend to Shoreline College. This would open up a slew of east-west connections in the north end instead of having to transfer at Northgate or Aurora Village.

    1. Good observation. Community Transit is currently upgrading their main bus line to Edmonds College to Swift BRT. Shoreline should definitely have a similar connection.

    2. Note that ST has subarea equity; Stride3 is funded by its East King County subarea; do East KC boardmembers have a keen interest in spreading scarce service subsidy to avoid a transfer? The Metro restructure should have frequent service between SCC and the South Shoreline Link station; the next stage of the restructure process may begin early in the calendar year. (We are still searching for the lemonade recipe; Link could have been in the SR-99 envelope and served transit compatible land use rather than the freeway envelope; even with the I-5 alignment, stations at NE 155th and 130th streets would have avoided the full interchange congestion; Stride3 could have served Lake City; even with the suboptimal choices, Link will still be great).

    3. Would be nice to see Stride extend to Shoreline College.

      I agree. Ideally it falls within the ST budget, even though it means involving another subarea (as eddie mentioned). If not, maybe Metro could pay for it. The only hitch would be that it would require additional capital funding (for different buses and “stations”), not just service. It still doesn’t seem that expensive, for an important corridor. This part of the route would probably be more cost effective than the rest of the Stride line. It would carry fewer riders, but more riders per service hour. The alternatives are:

      1) Create a bus route just along that corridor. The drawback is that short routes tend to carry fewer people, simply because there are fewer direct combinations (i. e. more of the trips involve transfers).

      2) Send a Lake City bus there. If we kept the existing routing, then the 65 would be the obvious candidate. This has some advantages, but means doubling up service along 145th — an area that for the most part doesn’t deserve doubling. Another issues is that buses serving Lake City (like the 65) are often paired with other buses in the U-District, making an extension more problematic. It is likely the route would be simply too long. This means breaking up the route in the U-District, where layover space is not easy to find. Ultimately there would be additional overlap (and an additional layover) which costs money.

      3) Send a bus from the north there (e. g. the 331). I see a couple problems with that. First, it means a looping route, which like a short route, is less than ideal. Second, there would be a service disconnect. From the campus to Link there should be plenty of riders. That isn’t the case for the rest of that route.

      The ideal solution is to tack this onto the Stride route. This would work well if buses from Lake City end at 145th and Lake City Way. Doing so would either require a live loop (involving 30th and Lake City Way) or layover on 30th (just short of 145th). Right now the BAT lane (on Lake City Way) exists only on one side of the street (serving only northbound buses). SDOT could simply move the BAT lane to the other side of the street.

      1. Don’t see why Metro couldn’t pay for it (from a policy prospective; not even going to wade into a “can Metro afford it” prospective). The 595 to Gig Harbor fell outside of the ST service district and Pierce Transit pays for service beyond Tacoma Community College, as a precedent.

      2. Metro could definitely afford the service cost, as it would quite likely reduce their overall cost. The only hitch from a service standpoint is cross-agency cooperation. The info about the 595 is interesting, so I could see Metro doing the same thing if these were regular buses.

        But they aren’t. That is why I think the bigger issue is the capital costs. Stride has special buses (different colors). They have different bus stops, with kiosks. Since they are considered “BRT” (or “BRT-light”) Sound Transit may have sought federal funding for the project (I don’t know). So Metro would have to come up with the capital funding, and do the paperwork necessary to try and get an additional grant. All of this takes time, and is not as simple as just including it with a restructure.

      3. DT, Ziprecruiter has Amazon Seattle job openings for Datacenter Operations Technicians, and while the address is a little vague, there is a public listing for an AWS datacenter in Seattle:

        Not only are there AWS data centers in Seattle, their addresses are public information.

        https://www.datacenters.com/amazon-aws-seattle

        There is most definitely one here, and the likeliest location is either Amazon HQ or the Westin datacenters next door that they use the waste from to heat their HQ.

      4. It’s of no great consequence for HQ location where the data centers are. Very few corporate employees are tethered to a data center.

        Amazon’s been clear that, while they will maintain substantial employment in Seattle, they see their HQ1 as the Puget Sound more generally. Also that all of their growth in this region will be in Bellevue.

      5. There is a big difference between “we expect most (or even all) of the growth in the Puget Sound region will be in Bellevue, not Seattle” and “we are moving to Bellevue”.

        As is often the case on this blog recently, we are once again arguing over something that at best is tangentially related to transit. Let’s go back to the original comment:

        There is a debate on the Seattle Council right now over Harrell’s proposed budget, which is heavy on hiring police and law and order. Pederson and Nelson penned an editorial in the Seattle Times supporting Harrell’s budget (although I have no idea where the city will get the money to hire 500 new police officers). The progressives on the council want to spend the money on social services. I would be more concerned about the layoffs at Amazon, and Talton’s comment that Amazon now sees Bellevue as its HQ1.

        What does that have to do with transit? Not a lot. But it sure is provocative. It is almost as if the author wrote it just so that folks here could find something to argue about. Who knew it would be the HQ1 bit.

        Oh wait, that isn’t the only mention. The same author wrote this:

        I also think the pandemic and now restructuring of the tech and startup industries including layoffs are going to encourage businesses to go to less and less office space, especially in urban cores like Seattle. A lot of folks have been waiting for WFH to fade and the work commuter to recover, but I think over the next 3-4 years before East Link opens this area will go in the other direction because workers want that and it makes business sense, especially now that businesses are learning money does not grow on trees, even Amazon and Microsoft (and according to Talton Amazon now sees Bellevue as HQ1).

        This is actually a reasonable argument that has something to do with transit. Maybe tech-based commuting will shrink (in the short run, if not the long term). Fair enough.

        But now consider the other part of it. Assume for a second that Amazon jobs *do* shift to the East Side. Imagine that Amazon lays off tens of thousands of workers in Seattle and shifts them to Bellevue. What would that do to East Link ridership?

        It could easily *increase* it. So called “reverse commuting” is still commuting. Furthermore, if you do split your offices between downtown Seattle and downtown Bellevue, it means there will be lots of people going between the two offices in the middle of the day. There is no reason to assume that more jobs on the East Side (instead of Seattle) is going to make East Link weaker. Quite the contrary. The otherwise very weak station next to Microsoft is there because the company is there.

        Oh, and I just gotta say it: Unless you have been living under a rock, you have to realize that much of the “HQ” talk is simply politics. Does no one remember the “HQ2” gambit? If you forget, here is a nice rundown: https://www.palisadeshudson.com/2018/11/amazons-hq2-gambit/. This is no different. What is the saying? Fool me once…

      6. “What does that have to do with transit? Not a lot. But it sure is provocative. It is almost as if the author wrote it just so that folks here could find something to argue about. Who knew it would be the HQ1 bit.”

        No Ross, I posted the five articles I did because:

        1. Mike asked readers to post content because this blog has no new content anymore. So I chose five articles I thought were important and affected transit (if one understood). I identified the source, a summary of the article because many on this blog don’t subscribe to these publications, and where possible the author and author’s point, and then why I thought each was important and relevant to transit. The articles might have been different than the confirmation bias on much of this blog, but I think it is important to read what others have to say, especially when they have all the money. Whether some on this blog saw these articles as a reason to argue or make personal attacks says more about their personality.

        2. The articles deal with macro issues because today there is very little interest in transit among the general public. We just went through major federal, state and local elections and I didn’t hear one single politician mention transit. But the macros issues of tax revenue (and where that revenue is allocated; who ever thought that in 2023 the East King Co. subarea would equal or exceed ST tax revenue from N. King Co.), and public safety and safe streets are critical to transit ridership and public support. Just the recent posts about transit funding in 2023 when the Covid stimulus runs out are illustrative.

        The good news is those who do the decision making get this. In yesterday’s Seattle Times the main editorial was titled, “SEATTLE SHOULD STICK TO PUBLIC SAFETY RESET”. This basically repeated the editorial by Pederson and Nelson supporting Mayor Harrell’s budget (and his and Davison’s wide election victories).

        The editorial repeated the fact Seatle has gone from 1290 officers and detectives to 962 while Mosqueda wants to cut another 80 (and SPD can no longer even investigated sexual assaults on adult women). The SPD is scheduled to lose another 200 police officers and detectives in the next two years. Harrell hopes to hire 500 new officers through financial incentives because police officers don’t want to work in Seattle, except the city is facing a budget deficit for just the operating budgets for 2023 of over $200 million (before estimated lost sales tax revenue from construction).

        Anyone who doesn’t understand that public transit with its huge public subsidies depends on safe streets and general fund tax revenue is misinformed. Better to have the misinformed on this blog than in the Mayor’s office or Council chambers.

        “Oh, and I just gotta say it: Unless you have been living under a rock, you have to realize that much of the “HQ” talk is simply politics. Does no one remember the “HQ2” gambit? If you forget, here is a nice rundown: https://www.palisadeshudson.com/2018/11/amazons-hq2-gambit/. This is no different. What is the saying? Fool me once…”

        If you really believe this in 2022 I think you are in denial. I think many on this blog don’t agree with you, which is why HQ1 is such a very sensitive subject, and should be. You don’t want the city’s major employer and benefactor to hate the city council because money can move.

        A company does not go through a major national search for HQ2 (actually HQ1) for “politics”, and neither does it commit to the amount of office space in Bellevue (and Jassy wasn’t talking about Mercer Island or Renton when he used the term “Puget Sound”). Years ago I posted the worst kept secret in the commercial office world was Amazon was moving its headquarters to Bellevue. The good news is Amazon kept its HQ1/2 in this region.

        The same reasons 60% of office workers have not returned to downtown Seattle affect Amazon’s decisions, and public safety is a huge reason, and was before the pandemic, and is a big reason for next year’s huge budget deficit because downtown Seattle generates 2/3 of Seattle’s tax revenue. I spent 32 years running a business in downtown Seattle and saw firsthand how removing buses from the transit tunnel to surface streets made it impossible to hire staff. So we moved out of Seattle like so many other businesses.

        For a while some in Seattle figured Amazon would keep hiring — even at the corporate level — forever, and so Seattle would maintain its Amazon employees and Bellevue would grow through new hires. Now we know that is not true as the layoffs in Seattle begin. The pandemic changed things, and then Amazon went to a policy where an employee can choose where to work (if in office at all). But based on regional and county population growth, or really degrowth, I think it is a zero-sum game, and Bellevue Amazon workers will be at the expense of Seattle which can ill afford to lose more tax revenue that as Tacoma and San Francisco show will hit public transit hard.

        You can argue about a lot of fun things when tax revenue is growing (without personally attacking others) but it gets ugly and unfun when arguing about things when tax revenue is declining, especially public transit because it is so heavily subsidized, and today is mostly poor and powerless riders with the loss of the work commuter. Next year some on this blog, and the council, will get to argue about where to cut around $250 million in the operating budget (when the capital budget including bridges is a sham). My guess is Bellevue will not have that discussion.

      7. Seattle streets are safe now/today, and while yes you wrote years ago that Amazon is moving to Bellevue it is no more true then than it is now.

      8. So it’s Amazon who will be converting office space to housing? Good to know. I bet you’ll be able to buy a suite on Prime!

    4. Metro’s last long-range plan interlines the 65 and 330, serving Shoreline North station, 5th, 155th, the village at 155th & Aurora, and Shoreline College.

      Ideally the S3 would continue to Shoreline College. But its purpose is to serve Bothell, Kenmore, and Lake Forest Park, and what they want is access to downtown, the U-District, and the airport. ST prioritizes serving cities that don’t have any Link/Stride yet, so they can get something for their ST taxes. I don’t know how many people in Northshore attend Shoreline College, but the community never articulated it as a priority, just like they never articulated Lake City.

  2. Walk Score number of each East Link station area from Mercer Island to Downtown Redmond.

    “90–100 Walker’s Paradise
    Daily errands do not require a car
    70–89 Very Walkable
    Most errands can be accomplished on foot
    50–69 Somewhat Walkable
    Some errands can be accomplished on foot
    25–49 Car-Dependent
    Most errands require a car
    0–24 Car-Dependent
    Almost all errands require a car”

    Mercer Island – 71
    South Bellevue – 26
    East Main – 66
    Bellevue Downtown – 90
    Wilburton – 74
    Spring District/120th – 46
    Bel-Red/130th Bel-Red – 48
    Overlake Village – 70
    Redmond Technology – 48
    Marymoor Village – 53
    Downtown Redmond – 94

    1. Sam’s score/my score:

      Mercer Island – 71/10-20 depending on whether you live in the town center. No one uses transit today.

      South Bellevue – 26/0. Where do you get 26 for walkability? It is a park and ride.

      East Main – 66/25. East Main is 112th.

      Bellevue Downtown – 90/15-25. Outside the walkshed for most. Better to use the 550 or 554 when it serves Bellevue Way.

      Wilburton – 74/4. Where do you get 74 from. There is no “Wilburton”.

      Spring District/120th – 46/10 at least today, mostly for the hospital.

      Bel-Red/130th Bel-Red – 48/Not sure.

      Overlake Village – 70/20. Overlake is unwalkable from a retail standpoint. Who is going to take East Link to Overlake from one of the other stations?

      Redmond Technology – 48/10 if you are not going to Microsoft. Nothing there.

      Marymoor Village – 53/50 because of the park.

      Downtown Redmond – 94/90, except why would anyone take East Link from Downtown Redmond someplace else along East Link to dine or shop?

      The catch-22 is if you live within walking distance of an East Link station there is little need for you to take Link anywhere else along the line to meet your daily needs, and half the stations are just park and rides and commuter centers. East Link was never designed for walkability, it was designed for work commuters between the eastside and Seattle. These scores might go up a little when East Link opens across the bridge, except I don’t know how many eastsiders who can walk to a station will feel the urge to take public transit into Seattle if they don’t have to.

      1. Why would you score Redmond Tech higher than Wilburton? There’s a variety of businesses one can walk to from Wilburton station. Redmond Tech only has two things: Apartment buildings and office buildings. And, Spring District/120th isn’t the hospital stop, Wilburton is.

      2. You are right Sam. Increase my score for Wilburton. But not to 74. I agree with your thoughts on Redmond Tech, but you are the one who scored it 48. I gave it a 10, because it has to rank higher than S. Bellevue for walkability, either originating a trip from there or going there on foot.

      3. BTW, those aren’t my scores, I went to a site called Walkscore, and if you put in an address or location, it will tell you that location’s walkscore, which are defined in my first comment. And, I do agree with you about South Bellevue. It should probably have the lowest score of any current or future station Line 1 or 2 station.

    2. Walk Score is based on the number of destinations around a location, both retail and public amenities. It doesn’t track whether it’s the center of the walkshed, how you got there, or what’s outside the walk circle.

      “Mercer Island – 71/10-20 depending on whether you live in the town center”

      If you live outside the town center, it’s relevant only when you go to the center. Otherwise you take the walk score of your home. Most of Mercer Island is really bad.

      “South Bellevue – 26/0. Where do you get 26 for walkability?”

      I can’t guess Walk Score’s patented formula and which databases it used, but South Bellevue Station does have the Mercer Slough trail and nature park, I-90 trail access, historic Winters House, the blueberry farm, and (at the very edge of the 30-minute walk circle) Chace’s Pancake Corral. The formula may also weigh the number of houses across the street and the P&R itself.

      “Wilburton – 74/4. Where do you get 74 from.”

      Two large hospitals, surrounding medical clinics, Whole Foods, Chick Fil-A, strip-mall shops. In the extended walk circle there’s the big-box stores on 120th and the car dealerships.

      The stations have more factors than just their current walksheds. Bel-Red and Overlake Village will have substantial growth by 2040. South Bellevue is for the park n ride, which you keep saying Eastsiders need. It’s better to have a P&R with its own station outside downtown Bellevue than to have a P&R next to the transit center like Renton, Burien, and Lynnwood do. That kills part of the scarce walkshed.

      1. My understanding is that the walk score only looks at how far it is to walk to various amenities, not whether it is a pleasant walk. South Bellevue might have nice places for walking, but those don’t count.

    3. We should also compare the rest of the network to see how far behind the Eastside is.

      Westlake: 99.
      Capitol Hill: 99.
      UW: 55.
      U-District: 99.
      Roosevelt: 98. (I would rate 80 though.)
      Northgate: 79. (Does it know about the ped bridge?)
      130th: 52.
      Shoreline South: 27.
      Shoreline North: 34.
      Mountlake Terrace: 53.
      Lynnwood: 61. (Most development hasn’t happened yet. Alderwood Mall walkscore: 51.)
      Ash Way: 57.
      Mariner: 56.
      Airport Road: 66.
      Paine Field (Future of Flight museum): 44.
      Seaview Transit Center: 52.
      Everett Station: 76.

      University Street: 99.
      Pioneer Square: 98.
      Chinatown/International District: 98.
      Stadium: 86.
      SODO: 56.
      Beacon Hill: 87.
      Mt Baker: 89.
      Columbia City: 85.
      Graham: 88.
      Othello: 86.
      Rainier Beach: 65.
      Tukwila Intl Blvd: 57.
      SeaTac: 61.
      Angle Lake: 60.
      Kent-Des Moines: 96 (!). (I would say 75, less than Roosevelt.)
      Redondo: 77. (Too high — it’s counting from Hwy 99 and including part of central Federal Way.)
      Federal Way: 51.
      South Federal Way: 73. (Oh really? Higher than Federal Way P&R?)
      Fife: 65.
      Tacoma Dome: 61.

      Issaquah: 55. (I’m not sure where the station will be; this is the transit center.)
      Eastgate: 58.
      Richards Road: 82.
      South Kirkland: 31.

      So Seattle’s average is 84 (130th to Rainier Beach), and the Eastside’s is 62 (Mercer Island to Downtown Redmond). But people don’t live in averages; they can only go to specific locations. Another way to look at is, how many stations have a good walkshed?

      Walker’s paradise (score 90-100): Seattle has 7 stations, the Eastside has 2.
      Very Walkable (70-89): Seattle 7, Eastside 3.
      Somewhat Walkable (50-69): Seattle 3, Eastside 2.
      Car Dependent (0-49): Seattle 0, Eastside 4.

      I’d even be willing to exclude South Bellevue, since its purpose is the P&R and it doesn’t pretend to have a walkability justification.

      1. I would put a lot of the stations in the same category as South Bellevue, in that their main goal is not walk-up ridership. Mercer Island, 130th and South Shoreline (i. e. 148th) are all primarily designed as bus intercepts. For that matter, I would say the same thing about Federal Way, Lynnwood, and a lot of the stations outside Seattle. Any walk-up ridership is a bonus — most of the riders from most of the stations will transfer from a bus (or park and ride).

      2. Funny how Graham (future infill station) is listed, but not Boeing Access Road (the other infill station). I bet that one would be rated “BIG ZERO”. Totally pedestrian unfriendly area.

      3. I agree with Ross’s point, except I would say Mercer Island has the possibility of having decent walkup ridership from residents living in the town center. It isn’t S. Bellevue. The station is in the middle of the commercial core, although a SFH zone is to the north. I think the estimate was 3000 Islanders would take East Link (depending on the park and ride access), although I don’t know how many of those were estimated to walk to the station. The town center is pretty complete for most daily needs (although maybe not nightlife) which probably accounts for the 71 score. Except for hospitals there isn’t any need to leave MI, especially with Amazon.

        As for bus intercepts on the eastside, I just think that is going to be a tough sell. Going to a park and ride to a bus to light rail station will be a slog, especially if it is not for a work commute. Hence the large park and rides on the eastside. Eastsiders don’t really consider a park and ride a “seat”, especially if there is plenty of parking and it is near their home.

        I also think East Link ridership will depend heavily on whether eastsiders begin commuting to downtown Seattle again. Otherwise WFH and free parking and not bad traffic congestion (today) will lead most eastsiders to drive, and that is reflected in bus ridership on the eastside today. If you own a car you don’t ride a bus or train unless the bus or train is faster or more convenient, which requires traffic congestion and expensive parking.

        Pre-pandemic when MI was rewriting its town center code some saw Mercer Island as the ideal location for a transit user without a car. The station is in the middle of the commercial core surrounding by multi-family housing to the south, East Link was supposed to open in 2021, and someone could take light rail to work in downtown Seattle or downtown Bellevue, or Microsoft, to the airport or even to Everett and Tacoma.

        At that time some wanted to raise building heights to 14 stories to create a true “urban core”, but the citizens opposed that because they thought they had been scammed with four and five story buildings that never provided the significant public amenities promised for the additional height. So maximum building height actually declined a bit, to 5, 4 and 3 stories south of 29th (with no retail requirement south of 29th which the council is trying to rezone). Plus commercial only buildings don’t get additional height for things like affordable housing set asides so are limited to two stories.

        From the days of Aubrey Davis people have looked at the north end of Mercer Island and thought the town center should look more like downtown Bellevue with its location and public safety, and the residential neighborhoods to the north like Kirkland with retail/restaurants along the waterfront (and I suppose you could say that about Medina). But Davis adamantly opposed that when I-90 was finally agreed to, and put in zoning to prevent that, and ever since the citizens have opposed it. They don’t want to be Bellevue, Seattle, or Kirkland. They want a rural feel even though the Island is between two commercial centers.

        Today the citizens look like they were right. East Link might open in 2025, but so many WFH or just drive it won’t be transformative on the eastside, and not many eastsiders take transit into Seattle. Link will be sloooooow.
        Population growth estimates look to be inflated, and a general deurbanization is occurring. Town center residents never took to transit or gave up their cars. Now urbanists want smaller building heights like 5-7 stories, and that is what MI is zoned for, mostly residential.

        On paper I can see how those in 2016 saw the north end of Mercer Island like Capitol Hill or Kirkland or even The Spring Dist., except that is not what the citizens wanted, and about 95% of them never even consider transit, or a walkable life, and a walkable life pretty much depends on taking transit.

      4. Daniel, there are plenty of people crossing Lake Washington today for non-work trips who are using transit. You’re right that the morning peak has disappeared and the evening peak has lessened, but there are still thousands of people who use cross-lake buses every day. They will not suddenly quit because they have to change at MI an additional time during the trip.

        Remember that the buses which are being truncated will be free up a large volume of service hours since they won’t be entering the sinkhole of downtown Seattle and lower Belltown, and will be “hot looping” at MI rather than “laying over”.

        So the same pool of bus hours will go farther. Some of the windfall will go toward more frequent service between the various park and ride lots in the I-90 and I-405 South ridesheds while others will be extended into areas that only have direct service in the peak hours today. More frequent service will often mean that the total trip length is a bit shortened because the rider doesn’t have leave as long before the time to arrive at their destination, making the transfer “penalty” negative.

        Students, low-paid care providers, and people who “believe in transit” will suddenly have service available when they had none before or greater frequency and reliability on established routes. They will respond by using the service; this is true all over the country. The world is not populated solely by bourgeois office workers and ne’er-do-well street people.

        I think you sell your fellow Puget Sounders short.

      5. “Daniel, there are plenty of people crossing Lake Washington today for non-work trips who are using transit. You’re right that the morning peak has disappeared and the evening peak has lessened, but there are still thousands of people who use cross-lake buses every day. They will not suddenly quit because they have to change at MI an additional time during the trip.”:

        Tom, I didn’t mean to imply that cross lake transit ridership will disappear, although it is down pretty significantly today compared to pre-pandemic, mostly discretionary riders.

        For those who must take transit cross lake, the “Students, low-paid care providers, and people who “believe in transit”, and originate their trip on the eastside going west, I think many of those will drive to a park and ride that serves East Link if East Link is the only transit option across the lake, and cities don’t fund 630 type buses themselves. It may be different for low paid workers coming from Seattle to the eastside because there are few park and rides in Seattle (although I suppose some could take the 630 eastbound).

        I don’t know too many eastside transit riders today who drive to a park and ride to catch a bus to transfer to another bus to get to their destination (certainly if that destination is on the eastside), and they should not be expected to. Most eastside buses that serve park and rides go directly to downtown Seattle if that is their destination. Metro and ST could have implemented a “bus bridge” or transfer system on MI similar to East Link using buses if they had wanted to, but most would say that makes the transit trip worse for the rider. Riders don’t like transfers, which is a big reason MI’s park and ride was full so early pre-pandemic.

        You may be correct that “the same pool of bus hours will go farther” with East Link (except ST express buses will be eliminated cross lake), but it also means many trips originating on the eastside going west across the bridge will become worse if a bus transfer is added to the trip from the park and ride.

        So as I have stated before, I think those riders will drive to a park and ride that serves East Link (unless it is the 554 that goes to Bellevue Way), or some demand their councils fund direct buses like the 630, or maybe drive. I don’t think that is “sell[ing] your fellow Puget Sounders short”. Just expecting riders to do what is best for them, which usually means time of trip, convenience, and so on. It isn’t their job to make East Link work or meet its ridership estimates.

        In any case we won’t know for many years, but can see how the dedicated buses from Lake City to downtown Seattle work out, and if the ridership supports continuing them.

        East Link is going to run across the lake. If your trip originates on the eastside and you plan to go west across the lake why not just drive to one of the park and rides that serves East Link?

      6. It’s pretty clear that Mercer Island around the future station needs to remove zoning entirely. Anything with a walk score of 50 or above, maybe 76th to 84th from I-90 to the water, should have all the exclusionary zoning removed.

        It is also a terrific place for MI to do its share regarding the Puget Sound regional homeless problem. The area near the station would be ideal for building 500 to 1000 units of 0 -30% AMI housing to lessen the impact of gentrification in the poorer areas of the region currently taking the brunt of a load of supporting our unhoused neighbors.

      7. I will convey your thoughts to the council and citizens Cam.

        One problem may be the Dept. of Ecology which these days is very anti-development along the littoral high-water mark. Maybe a park like Luther Burbank but probably not Kirkland. Just try getting a SEPA permit for a dock rebuild.

        The other problem is zoning is predicated on a city’s GMPC housing growth targets, not someone’s desire for urbanism or ideological beliefs on “exclusionary zoning” (since zoning by nature is exclusionary), or wealth envy. Or the desire to manufacture ST’s crazy ridership estimates. MI does not need to change its zoning to meet its GMPC housing targets through 2044, so why do it.

        Your concern about gentrification is legitimate and is a plank of the Affordable Housing Committee’s focus on affordable housing under ESB1220. Unfortunately, the biggest cause of gentrification (after regional wealth) is upzoning. That is how The Central Dist. went from 85% Black in 1970 to 15% today, and FINALLY Seattle and the different housing groups are beginning to understand that.

        Nearly all the “affordable housing” (0-30% AMI supportive housing is completely different although many don’t understand that) is in older, existing multi-family and SFH housing. Upzone those zones and new construction will follow to implement the new zoning, and the poor and POC need to pack up and move. At least the AHC is finally beginning to understand that, although the wolves are on the edge of the RV and MLK.

      8. Thanks, Daniel. Much appreciated.

        Please also convey the idea to all the potential future residents who you the council will almost certainly never allow access to enhance the character of Mercer Island.

        If housing is built on MI, less of it needs to be built in Rainier Valley. But you know that.

      9. If you’d like, I can organize a tour of shelters and encampments.

        You can cheerfully explain GMPC housing targets, and they are sure to be comforted as they freeze to death in the dark.

      10. Cam, one method the AHC is looking at to preserve affordable housing is rent control. Except the AHC’s approach is unique:

        Rather than the traditional approach to rent control which is to cap rent increases on existing market rate rental housing the AHC is proposing to require all new residential housing construction (SFH and multi-family) to be capped at 0-30-50% AMI forever, while existing rental housing would not be capped.

        What are the flaws with this approach:

        1. No builder will apply to build 0-30-50% AMI housing without public subsidies.

        2. Builders will instead focus all their efforts on existing SFH and multi-family housing to renovate and upgrade and gentrify because it will not have any AMI cap.

        So new housing construction will stop, and the older and more affordable existing housing will get remodeled and gentrified. Great plan.

        I kid you not. This is how our progressive brethren think at King Co. and the state.

        Who likes this idea? Sammamish for one, because it effectively reduces its GMPC future housing growth targets to zero, because it will simply require that any new housing construction be capped forever at 0-30-50% AMI which will result in zero new housing construction through 2044. Sammamish could get rid of all its “exclusionary” zoning but no one is going to build at 0-30-50% AMI.

        Who doesn’t like it? Bellevue, because Bellevue has massive projects planned for its downtown, and requiring all new residential units to be 0-30-50-% AMI is not remotely possible (and the AHC doesn’t really explain how a city determines which applicant gets a 0% AMI permit, which gets a 30% AMI permit, and which gets a 50% AMI permit, although no one will apply for any of these permits).

      11. I’ve lived in New York City, so I’ve seen the endgame of rent-control, which is mostly deceit. The vast majority of those living in a rent controlled unit are the children and grandchildren of those, through luck and privilege, who were able to secure and retain those units.

        So I’m not a fan.

        But point 1 is dead on. There clearly needs to be substantial public investment. I wonder what communities (*cough* Mercer Island *cough*) might have the tax base to provide such subsidies, and the related services and security to make such investment successful?

      12. “I wonder what communities (*cough* Mercer Island *cough*) might have the tax base to provide such subsidies, and the related services and security to make such investment successful?”

        Cam, if I thought the AHC or King Co. were less ideological and smarter I would agree 100% with you. What I would do is tell eastside cities I am going to upzone the shit out of your SFH zones unless you contribute more. Then those cities would tell builders they either pay a fee in lieu of for a market rate permit, or they apply for a 0-30-50% AMI permit. We are talking tens of millions of dollars.

        Then you direct those funds to organizations like ARCH that have the expertise to build and manage affordable housing, and match contributions with state and federal grants. That affordable housing won’t be in the same cities the donations came from because ARCH is realistic, and its mantra is affordable housing begins with affordable land near transit and entry level jobs.

        Instead the AHC is playing right into the hands of cities like MI and Sammamish that really don’t like their housing growth targets (which disfavor SFH cities because a tiny studio and four-bedroom SFH each count as one housing unit toward the targets). Now these cities that unlike Seattle and Bellevue that don’t make a fortune on new construction can say great, on MI the next 1220 housing permits (our GMPC housing growth target through 2044) must be 30% AMI, or 40% AMI, or 0% AMI, and effectively have a zero housing growth target through 2044 because no one will apply for those permits, although MI really doesn’t want to do that, and can contribute more, but what it can contribute is what ARCH needs: cash. You simply cannot build affordable housing on MI because of the cost of the land. So take the cash.

      13. Mercer Island is the perfect community. Other neighborhoods should emulate it. Great schools. Low crime. Expensive homes that generate lots of tax revenue for the county. The island’s children grow up to become productive members of society, like doctors and lawyers. It has achieved the desirable goal of having very low homelessness and poverty. And, yes, a neighborhood’s goal should be to reduce poverty and homelessness, not to increase it. Lot’s of vegetation and green space. So, Mercer Island is good for the earth. In my opinion, there’s nothing to improve upon.

      14. Yes Sam, good point. Every community should be rich. Excellent plan.

        Wait, isn’t that Lake Wobegon, where all the children are above average?

      15. I would say Mercer Island has the possibility of having decent walkup ridership from residents living in the town center.

        I agree, but I still consider that a bonus. I think you are looking at maybe 500 a day that walk to the station. The bulk will take the bus, with a fair number driving (some who park, some who get dropped off). In contrast, a typical Seattle station (like Roosevelt or Columbia City) is mostly walk-up riders.

      16. Ross, I agree with your point about some stations not being intended for walk-up ridership. But, what I’m curious about with Eastside Link stations is, once you strip-away riders using it to get to work, and riders using it to get home, and major sports events, will many riders use for everyday things like to run errands? Unless someone is very flexible about which stores they shop at, and I don’t think most people are, Link doesn’t seem like a good option. I think most people have some pretty specific stores in mind when they’re going to run errands. “I need to go to Fred Meyer, Taco Time, and the Post Office.” And, when thinking about many of the Eastside station areas, most people are going to say to themselves … I can’t run my errands on East Link, or East Link + Bus. Not in under a half a day.

      17. Daniel, I believe you did not read my synopsis of what truncation does carefully: service levels go UP, because routes become short enough to have a break at only one end of the route (“hot looping”) or are extended beyond a park-and-ride to become “Blue Streak”-style collectors with an express leg.

        That means that for roughly half of all downtown-bound or origi nated trips, the reduction of average starting time delays by 50% because of more frequent departures means that many trips effectively have no “transfer penalty” or it becomes negative [e.g. the trip can commence LATER than it would with a less-frequent direct bus].

        This is the reality of “frequent transit”.

      18. “But, what I’m curious about with Eastside Link stations is, once you strip-away riders using it to get to work, and riders using it to get home, and major sports events, will many riders use for everyday things like to run errands?”

        Well, it doesn’t take a particularly high percentage of all travelers using Link to generate good ridership, as the train has much less total capacity (at least at proposed operating frequencies) than the roads do. A lot of trips are also social-related, meeting friends for dinner, meeting other members of some random niche activity group you’re a member of. And, the work commute ridership, while less than pre-COVID, is still not going to be zero.

        I think anyone looking for one single “canonical” Link trip that will represent the bulk of the ridership is going to be disappointing. I think it’s rather going to be a bunch of different trip categories, even one not having that much ridership individually, but collectively, they all add up. This is essentially how “drivership” works on roads, so it works for transit also.

      19. “I need to go to Fred Meyer, Taco Time, and the Post Office.”

        Picture a Fred Meyer designed like The Bon Marche, a six-story building filling a city block with entrances right at the sidewalk. The post office and Taco Time can be inside the building or across the street. You take East Link from Bel-Red to it. The entrance is right outside the station, the other two are across the street, so you can easily walk between all of them. That’s how retail used to be designed and could be designed now, if we got away from this car-dependent big-box store nonsense.

      20. “I’ve lived in New York City, so I’ve seen the endgame of rent-control, which is mostly deceit. The vast majority of those living in a rent controlled unit are the children and grandchildren of those, through luck and privilege, who were able to secure and retain those units.”

        That’s the bad kind of rent control, where it only applies to units built before a certain date, so as the population increases and ever-smaller percentage of people benefit from rent control, and the growing numbers who don’t benefit resent it, especially if they can’t afford a market-rate unit.

        There’s also a good kind of rent control in Germany. Each state has it statewide, and it applies to all buildings. So developers can’t escape it by just hopping five miles over the municipal boundary, and young people who weren’t here in 1970 have a chance to get a rent-controlled unit. The rent ceiling is high enough to cover maintenance and a modest steady profit. Developers still build new units because some profit is better than no profit. Renters know they’ll never be priced out of the apartment even when they’re age 70 and retired. Therefore they don’t feel a strong need to buy a condo or house.

      21. “the biggest cause of gentrification (after regional wealth) is upzoning. That is how The Central Dist. went from 85% Black in 1970 to 15% today, and FINALLY Seattle and the different housing groups are beginning to understand that.”

        What you’re missing is the prices would have gone up even without upzoning or densification. San Francisco and San Jose upzoned less than Seattle did, and their prices rose higher than ours. The reason prices are rising is demand is so high, so more people are competing for each unit and bidding the price up. The wealthiest people who can pay those high prices get the units, and everyone else is shut out. If you add more units, the wealthiest will go to the fanciest units, and there will still be other units open for others. Owners will have to keep the prices low to find enough tenants.

        If upzoning is the problem, then Newcastle, Sammamish, and Mercer Island would have the lowest-cost housing.

      22. @Sam — As I see it, Downtown Redmond and Downtown Bellevue are the two stations that will attract the most riders. They are both urban centers, with various amenities. Downtown Bellevue isn’t Capitol Hill, but it does have some events (I once saw Craig Robinson there — he was hilarious). Most of the other stations have some attractions, just at a smaller scale. For example, Wilburton Station is not a very urban station, but it is across the street from a Whole Foods.

        Both of the downtown stations also have plenty of people who can walk to a station. The same is true for many of the East Side stations. This includes Microsoft. I would expect a fair number of people getting on the train in the middle of the day, and heading to downtown Bellevue or Redmond, just to have lunch, or run an errand. But that just shows how important an increase in office employment is. Imagine you live in downtown Bellevue and work at Microsoft. That is a very nice transit commute. Once you are at Microsoft, you are more tempted to use the train for errands. It might require a bit of walking, but nothing terrible. The same thing might happen if you are working from home, but you could also decide to just use your car.

        I think there will be a decent amount of non-work related travel within the East Side. But East Link is really about the combination of all of these types of trips. Trips across the lake, as well as trips within the East Side. Commutes, as well as so called “pleasure” trips. These non-work trips will definitely include travel across the lake. Most of these will be from the East Side to Seattle, but there will be some going the other way. It is worth noting that the number of people living in downtown Seattle has grown considerably over the years. A few trips over the lake (like the one I took to see Craig Robinson) is quite reasonable.

        In my opinion, both downtown Bellevue and downtown Seattle are as attractive as ever. A couple weeks ago I went downtown to Pike Place, and it is fully recovered from the pandemic. The walk from Westlake was uneventful, in that it seemed “normal” (most shops were open, lots of people walking around, etc.). Pike Place was spectacular. It is so nice to see the waterfront without the viaduct, and you can see the new promenade being added, bit by bit. It will be wonderful when it is all done. The place was bustling on a cloudy, cool November day — by next summer there will be a ton of people (but they’ll be able to spread out).

        This will have an effect on other stations as well. For example, I could definitely see someone driving to South Bellevue, parking, and taking the train to downtown Seattle. Riders from Issaquah will take a bus and do essentially the same thing.

        Overall, I think East Link is fairly good because it has a fair number of stations. East Main is flawed, but at least they put a station between downtown Bellevue and South Bellevue. If there is a weakness, it is the lack of educational establishments. It skips the big one (BCC) as well as smaller ones (LWIT). It will serve a satellite BCC campus (OLS) which will be nice, but I think that is pretty small (a few hundred?). There will be plenty of people from Seattle who transfer at Mercer Island and take the bus to BCC, but it doesn’t add much within the East Side. It won’t be like Link in Seattle, which connects a couple community colleges and the biggest university in the state all within a fairly short distance.

      23. Ross, while I don’t disagree, I will say that the 2040 estimates published in the STB (in 2020) put the Redmond Town Center ridership as the lowest station with boardings at 1,300 estimated on a weekday.

        https://seattletransitblog.com/2020/01/27/sound-transits-station-ridership-in-2040/

        Of course, both East Main and Downtown Bellevue were the highest.

        I do see two themes here:

        1. The ways that station areas develop will drive ridership. I expect that 120th/ Spring District will be higher than 140th/ Bel-Red rather than lower, for example. I doubt that the full plans are fully embedded in the future anticipated land use at some stations.

        2. Bus transfers can really ramp up demand. In Redmond’s case, the big question would be whether buses go to Downtown Redmond or to Marymoor.

        3. The mega parking structures at Marymoor and South Bellevue don’t I crease parking as much as I would expect. If the garages fill up and a percentage of parked cars are HOVs — and drop off and pick up riders are added. I would expect it to be higher.

        4. With its proximity to eastern Bellevue, the hospital and RapidRide B, I would expect Wilburton to also be higher than the 2020 forecast.

        I certainly hope that Downtown Redmond evolves into a cool destination. Since it’s already going to have service, we shall see how the marketplace evolves. I even sometimes with ST would create an unofficial “community vision” forecast that would show ridership if more TOD land uses evolve and drop off/ pickup riders were added in in ways that I think that they should be.

      24. “I think there will be a decent amount of non-work related travel within the East Side. But East Link is really about the combination of all of these types of trips. Trips across the lake, as well as trips within the East Side. Commutes, as well as so called “pleasure” trips. These non-work trips will definitely include travel across the lake. Most of these will be from the East Side to Seattle, but there will be some going the other way. It is worth noting that the number of people living in downtown Seattle has grown considerably over the years. A few trips over the lake (like the one I took to see Craig Robinson) is quite reasonable.”

        The main issue is the population sizes. Seattle has 740K people; Bellevue+Redmond has 226K plus adjacent areas. That’s enough to generate a robust number of trips, because some people will cross the lake for work, medical, family, recreational, or nature reasons. Just look at the cars on the bridges, and remember we’re trying to replace some car trips with transit trips.

        As a teenager I lived in Bellevue and went to the U-District a lot. At UW I lived in the dorms but in summer I commuted from Bellevue to my campus job. Many people live in Seattle and work on the Eastside (because the Eastside has nothing like Capitol Hill, the U-District, or Ballard). I still go to Bellevue to visit relatives, Bellevue Square, the Bellevue Botanical Garden, the Bellevue Arts Fair, Redmond trails, Cartridge World in Redmond, events at Marymoor Park, Seattle Transit Hikers meets, user groups.

        “In my opinion, both downtown Bellevue and downtown Seattle are as attractive as ever. A couple weeks ago I went downtown to Pike Place, and it is fully recovered from the pandemic. The walk from Westlake was uneventful, in that it seemed “normal” (most shops were open, lots of people walking around, etc.).”

        I walk that corridor almost every day and shop at Pike Place once or twice a week. Pike Place Market has been normal for months. Crowds have returned to Pine Street around 5th and 6th. 3rd Avenue still has a lot of sketchy people and goes up and down on different days, but that hasn’t stopped shoppers or tourists. Hotels have returned to near normal. The Convention Center has had several large events in the past year, and the Paramount Theater too. Last weekend there was a blocks-long crowd coming to the Paramount, and in the summer there were even larger crowds going to the Convention Center and filling the sidewalks. The only people who haven’t come back is office workers.

      25. “I expect that 120th/ Spring District will be higher than 140th/ Bel-Red”

        Bel-Red is for future development. At a East Link open house I complained to an ST rep about the surface P&R at Bel-Red, and he assured me it’s just a placeholder until Spring District density inevitably expands to 130th; then it will be converted.

      26. “Daniel, I believe you did not read my synopsis of what truncation does carefully: service levels go UP, because routes become short enough to have a break at only one end of the route (“hot looping”) or are extended beyond a park-and-ride to become “Blue Streak”-style collectors with an express leg.”

        I understand the theory Tom. When light rail opens Metro truncates lines that duplicate the route Link takes, and then uses the savings to increase frequency (or coverage) on feeder routes. Ideally the trip despite transfer takes the same time — or even less to make up for the aggravation of a transfer — than it was on a one seat bus.

        Kind of like when the airlines claim a non-direct non-stop flight with a layover is good for you.

        I am just not sure the theory works in practice. If there is lots of traffic congestion that Link can avoid (and buses don’t have HOV lanes) then maybe the trip is quicker even with a transfer.

        On the eastside East Link will run at 8-minute frequencies at best during peak times, and 15-30 minutes otherwise. On Mercer Island bus frequency, which today is excellent (usually never more than 10 minutes) with all the buses that stop on MI, will go to 15 minutes peak, and 30-60 off peak (and 90 minutes for North Bend). I would hate to have to spend 90 minutes waiting along N. Mercer Way.

        I think a two-seat trip would have to be much, much faster to make up for the aggravation of a transfer. I really don’t see much better frequency for feeder buses under the eastside transit restructure despite any savings for Metro which Metro put at $1.5 million/year by not having to run across the bridge.

        I am not saying eastsiders who don’t live within walking distance of East Link won’t ride Link. I just think that since their trip starts out in a car to a park and ride one way or the other they will just drive to a park and ride that serves East Link.

        Personally I think the S. Bellevue station will have some of the highest boardings because that is the only way for those in the Issaquah/Sammamish/N. Bend area to catch East Link going east, and with a 1500 stall park and ride today they will know there is free parking space. For those going to Seattle I think those same folks will drive to either S. Bellevue or Mercer Island to catch East Link. Same with the other stations with large park and rides.

        For eastsiders their trip will mimic their trip on a one seat bus before East Link: drive to a park and ride and get on the train for a one seat ride to wherever they are going. If they will need to transfer to a bus after getting off East Link they will just drive to their ultimate destination.

        After all, this is why Metro and ST built all these huge park and rides on the eastside. Without these park and rides ridership on East Link would be much lower than it already will be.

      27. @Al — I think a lot of those station estimates will prove to be way off. To be fair, it is hard to estimate ridership, since there are so many different factors. The longer out you go, the more likely an area is to be developed. As you mentioned, the bus routing has a lot to do with it as well.

        But for the foreseeable future, I think they are way off with East Main and Redmond Town Center. I think East Main will be a dud. People will use the main station instead. You are closer to a few office buildings, but not that many. The Downtown Redmond Station should get way more riders than Marymoor Village. The former is a real place, with plenty of apartments and shops nearby. The latter is basically just a set of parking lots, and abuts a freeway. It is basically like South Shoreline (148th) but without the obvious bus feeder.

        One general weakness of both stations is that they are a long ways from Seattle. 45 minutes to Westlake, according to the literature. Thus you get into the problem Mike alludes to — Seattle is just a lot bigger than the East Side. While Downtown Redmond Station may contribute a significant amount of the ridership within the East Side, this may not be that big. Most of the riders of East Link will go over the lake. Still, this seems like a bigger issue for Marymoor than Downtown Redmond. The bulk of riders for Marymoor are supposed to drive to the station, find a spot to park, and then ride the train a long ways to Seattle? I’m skeptical. Way more will simply walk from their home in downtown Redmond and take the train to downtown Bellevue (or even Seattle).

      28. Al, I think ridership estimates, or really boardings, at future East Link stations focuses too heavily on density and the activities within walking distance of the station. Eastsiders are not urbanists.

        Downtown Redmond is a good example. My question is why would someone who can walk to downtown Redmond and the Link station take Link? Where are they going, and where do they need to go? What does any stop along East Link have that is not available in downtown Redmond?

        If the answer is Microsoft I agree. But after that what station offers more than where that rider is, in downtown Redmond?

        Overlake is a huge, big box store area that is very difficult to walk and lower class than Redmond. The Spring Dist. IMO will be mostly office space in about two decades. There is no point going from Redmond to Wilburton and I doubt many Redmond residents do that today, even in a car. Why?

        There is “downtown Bellevue”, although it is around 10 loooooong Bellevue blocks up the hill, but is there really anything Bellevue Way between Main and NE 8th has that downtown Redmond does not have? Maybe the costs of parking for those who will work in office in this part of Bellevue may lead them to take East Link.

        After that it is E. Main which is nowheresville, S. Bellevue, MI, and then Seattle. I live on MI. Downtown Redmond is more vibrant if I had my choice, but not worth a 30-minute ride on Link. I can probably drive to downtown Redmond today faster than East Link will take me in 2025, but I haven’t been to Redmond in over 20 years. The eastside is just very balkanized, and huge. Why leave Issaquah if you live there?

        For some eastsiders Seattle will be a draw on East Link, although the trip on East Link will be looooong from Redmond and pass by Bellevue, and for some — especially a Redmond demographic — Seattle will be the opposite of a draw, certainly for a non-work trip. As Ross notes, if I am standing in downtown Redmond looking to get a drink and something to eat am I going to burn 45 minutes each way on East Link to get to Westlake when Westlake is not as vibrant or safe as Redmond?

        The real question in my mind is how many eastsiders who don’t live near a vibrant downtown, like near Marymoor Park station, but want to get out, will drive to a park and ride to catch East Link, and how many will just keep on driving to their destination, especially non-work trips. There is a reason those large park and rides were built: to get to the vibrant locations along East Link, and in 2008 downtown Seattle, but mostly to get to work.

        I think more people will be going to Redmond on East Link than going from Redmond, but I don’t think in any case the numbers will be high without the work commuter. Eastsiders tend to eat and dine in their own little ponds, maybe because one area of the eastside — Issaquah, Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue, even MI — just is not that much different or better than another area (movie theaters being the one exception), or worth the time of trip.

      29. “Eastsiders tend to eat and dine in their own little ponds, maybe because one area of the eastside — Issaquah, Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue, even MI — just is not that much different or better than another area (movie theaters being the one exception), or worth the time of trip.”

        The big reason for getting out of your pod is social. If your friends and family are in a different part of town, you have to travel to them to see them, even if, objectively, the quality of the food isn’t much different.

        Even independently of that, people simply get bored staying in one place all the time. If you’ve got the time and the trip is cheap enough – or free – why not go ride the train to Redmond one time and check it out.

        The assumption that every trip is purely utilitarian – earn money, buy stuff – is simply not true. Humans are not robots, and don’t work like that.

      30. “If you’ve got the time and the trip is cheap enough – or free – why not go ride the train to Redmond one time and check it out.”

        Asdf2, I definitely plan on taking East Link to Redmond when it opens to check it out, albeit in three years. Redmond IMO is a great city and great place to live although it has certainly built up its town center and surrounding multi-family zone from the pictures I have seen, and we know many folks who work at Microsoft and started out living in Redmond but later moved to MI and loved Redmond.

        Even when looking to get off the Island we tend to go to Issaquah, Bellevue or Seattle (and Seattle is getting better). The issue about going to Redmond is we would drive right by Bellevue. Those are usually “special” occasions on a Saturday night, especially now that I work on MI.

        Now, I am fairly old. For the last 20 years we raised a family (who are back for the holidays). At my age, and on MI, a lot of the social gatherings are in people’s houses, which tend to be quite nice. The irony is when you get older and can afford to go out folks invite you to lovely parties at their house with all the food and booze you can eat and drink although you are on a diet and watching your alcohol intake and no one is under 50.

        When I was younger I did travel around the region more, but then again I lived in Seattle, not the eastside, just like my son lives at the UW. It is also important to understand the difference between the distances of Seattle neighborhoods and the eastside. Me going to Redmond on Link would be like someone on Capitol Hill taking Link to SeaTac to drink or dine. Taking Link from the UW to Capitol Hill to downtown Seattle (if younger) is a lot more exciting than taking Link from MI to Redmond.

        If The Spring Dist. or Overlake added a lot of multi-family housing I think a lot of those folks would take East Link TO Redmond to eat or dine, but not many folks from Redmond would take East Link to Overlake or The Spring Dist. That was my point. Redmond is the destination, not many of the other stops along East Link which was never really designed for an “urban” transit system for off-peak trips.

        Will many folks from Issaquah/Sammamish/Snoqualmie/North Bend (around 150,000 total residents) drive to S. Bellevue to catch East Link eastbound for an off-peak trip? Virtually zero. They will stay in their city, or drive to their destination with free parking.

      31. Daniel,

        A 1500 station park and ride [e.g. “South Bellevue”] will fill only four trains assuming most base-level passengers ride seated. So if somebody who wants to go to UW from Issaquah at 11:30 AM, there will be no guarantee that a space will be available when they get to South Bellevue. A wise rider will use a local Issaquah Park and Ride and transfer.

      32. It’s hard to say Tom, and we won’t know for at least three years, and anything can happen in three years.

        There has been very little transit on the Eastside that required a transfer from transit to transit. Pre-pandemic those who had to commute to Seattle drove to a park and ride to catch a one seat bus. The park and rides would fill early, which caused a lot of aggravation, but there were several park and rides along the route. MI’s park and ride got a lot of folks from south of I-90 who didn’t want to take a bus to catch a bus to downtown.

        It is hard to say what transit ridership will be across the bridge to Seattle in 2025. I think intra-Eastside transit ridership will stay low if congestion is manageable and parking is free. There could be such light peak travel to Seattle the park and rides serving East Link will have plenty of capacity, like today.

        I don’t know how many folks in Seattle are willing to take a bus to catch Link, after they get to the bus. My guess is eastsiders will drive directly to park and rides that serve East Link because that is what they did with their bus — pre-pandemic.

        If the park and rides are full options include demanding one seat buses like the 630 or more park and ride capacity or getting a job on the Eastside or WFH.

        I think over the next 3-4 years before East Link opens eastsiders more and more will switch to jobs on the Eastside and WFH anyway, because that is what they are doing now.

        I don’t think these workers ever want to find themselves in a situation again where they have to drive to a park and ride to wait for a bus to take them to wait for a train. That is just abusive in their opinion.

        I also think the pandemic and now restructuring of the tech and startup industries including layoffs are going to encourage businesses to go to less and less office space, especially in urban cores like Seattle. A lot of folks have been waiting for WFH to fade and the work commuter to recover, but I think over the next 3-4 years before East Link opens this area will go in the other direction because workers want that and it makes business sense, especially now that businesses are learning money does not grow on trees, even Amazon and Microsoft (and according to Talton Amazon now sees Bellevue as HQ1).

      33. “There has been very little transit on the Eastside that required a transfer from transit to transit. Pre-pandemic those who had to commute to Seattle drove to a park and ride to catch a one seat bus.”

        Link creates new one-seat rides, so people from mid Bellevue, eastern Bellevue, and south Redmond will sometimes be able to walk to a Link station, take a shorter bus to it (which is faster than a longer bus), or bike to it more easily. And on the west side, they can get to Capitol Hill, Roosevelt or Northgate without transferring. Or a train-to-train transfer to the airport or southeast Seattle.

        Not all Eastsiders drive to a P&R to take an express bus. Some take a bus to it now. They’d have to because P&R parking spaces can only fit a small fraction of passengers.

        “I don’t know how many folks in Seattle are willing to take a bus to catch Link, after they get to the bus.”

        Thousands of people do. If you live anywhere in Seattle except downtown or the U-District you have to take some other transit to the 550 or 271 to get to the Eastside. Some people will drive rather than do that, but others won’t. And we’re trying to build a better transit network so people can get from everywhere to everywhere more conveniently. That includes people going from Wallingford or the CD or West Seattle to the Eastside.

        “options include demanding one seat buses like the 630”

        The 630 goes to only First Hill and runs only weekday mornings. It can’t scale to everywhere in Seattle at all times. Mercer Island is the only city funding a peak-express route to Mercer Island. The restructures that resulted in routes to First Hill and SLU were an attempt to transform those routes into something non-duplicative so they wouldn’t have to be deleted. I don’t know what ridership is on them since the restructures, does anyone?

        “I don’t think these workers ever want to find themselves in a situation again where they have to drive to a park and ride to wait for a bus to take them to wait for a train.”

        Who is doing that? The advantage of a P&R is a train or express bus is right there.

        Anyway, Link both deletes some one-seat rides and creates other one-seat rides. You’re looking at only half the picture. Link creates many more one-seat rides than it deletes. The 550 has no unique destinations beyond Link except the Bellevue Way stops. If you’re going to mid Belleuve or east Bellevue, you have to take the 550 and transfer to another bus right now. I do that to get to mid Bellevue and Crossroads. East Link would have helped me with that for the past twenty-five years. Link is not eliminating any one-seat rides there because there aren’t any one-seat rides. And Link between Bellevue and Redmond will be much faster than the exiting bus routes.

      34. Mercer Island, South Bellevue, and Redmond Tech P&Rs will still have one-seat rides to downtown Seattle. The main ones that won’t are Issaquah. If all Issaquah-Seattle riders switch to driving because the transfer is too much, so what? Issaquah is not the center of the Eastside. Most of the Eastside’s population lives west of Lake Sammamish. Issaquah is further out from there, so a transfer is more justified. The biggest travel corridor that rail can serve well is between Redmond, Bellevue, and Seattle. Link is in the right place, +/- a half mile.

        In exchange for losing a one-seat ride to Seattle, Issaquahites will get express service to Bellevue every 15 minutes. That’s important to many Issaquahites. Small cities can expect to be directly connected to their nearest large city, not necessarily a larger one beyond that.

      35. “(and according to Talton Amazon now sees Bellevue as HQ1).”

        The very notion is absurd on its face. The AWS server access from the Seattle building alone is greater than the combined internet backbone of every building they use on the Eastside combined. And AWS is where Amazon makes its money.

      36. So if somebody who wants to go to UW from Issaquah at 11:30 AM, there will be no guarantee that a space will be available when they get to South Bellevue. A wise rider will use a local Issaquah Park and Ride and transfer.

        I think there are other advantages as well. It is simply less driving. It is also less stressful. If you are headed to Seattle around 11:30, you want to avoid coming back by 4:00 PM (otherwise you are stuck in traffic). As someone who regularly takes transit downtown midday, I can tell you that I ignore the clock. This is in dramatic contrast to (driving) trips taken to Snohomish County. I don’t dare attempt that in the afternoon.

        But I also think it may take a while for non-commuters to wrap their head around the fact that the bus is convenient. I’ve seen this happen with people I know. There is a very strong rail bias. Folks are well aware that the train is fast and (reasonably) frequent. But folks are not aware of which buses are similar, and which buses are not. They form outdated opinions, based on what the schedule was a while ago. These riders are far more likely to drive to the station. I could see a “take the bus to the light rail” campaign having some success, assuming that Metro actually gets decent funding in the next few years.

        Then again, maybe these riders are bound to be a small minority of the potential riders. Broadly speaking, you have two groups. Regular users (commuters, students) and people who take occasional trips. That second group can be broken down into two subgroups — those who live in an urban environment, and those that don’t. I use the term “urban” to basically mean “an area of dense housing or development”. Thus “urban” group includes folks who live in urban areas in suburban cities (e. g. downtown Redmond). The suburban/occasional user group is more like me. Yes, I live in the city a few blocks from an urban area, but I actually live in a single family zone with big lots. I don’t commute, and take transit when it suits me. I have no qualms about driving, and will do so if the transit trip sucks in comparison. The major difference between me and many of the folks in my group is that I’m a transit nerd, so I know more about the options. The buses work quite well in many cases (more than a lot of my peers know). But it is quite possible that we, as a group, make up a tiny portion of the potential ridership. Whether we drive to a Link park and ride or take the bus might not matter much at all. The midday Issaquah riders will be largely folks who are going to school at BCC, people who commute in the off-hours and people who live in apartments near a bus stop.

      37. “(and according to Talton Amazon now sees Bellevue as HQ1).”

        The very notion is absurd on its face.

        I agree 100%. There is absolutely nothing to suggest otherwise. Amazon employment may be shrinking, and it may shrink more in Seattle than in other places, but Seattle will remain the employment and corporate center of the company for the foreseeable future.

        Until they move to Chicago :)

      38. Here’s Talton’s quote … “Still, this alienated many businesses, and not only Amazon, which no longer even thinks of Seattle as HQ1 and sees its growth happening in Bellevue. ” Whichever commenter said Talton says Amazon sees Bellevue as HQ1 misquoted him.

      39. Amazon has over 125 AWS data centers in 34 regions throughout the world. If Talton is correct and Amazon no longer views Seattle as HQ1 just where does Amazon view HQ1 is?

    4. What is Judkins Park? I don’t see it in the thread and I don’t see a hyperlink for the stations.

      Apologies is I overlooked it.

  3. https://www.seattle.gov/transportation/projects-and-programs/programs/transit-program/transit-plus-multimodal-corridor-program/route-44—transit-plus The Urbanist discussion of the budget seemed to complain about the narrow scope of the project on NE 45th Street overcrossing. Route 44 flow should be the first priority. The earlier concept took a westbound lane and would have slowed Route 44 trips significantly. Note great progress on the Route 44 project near SR-99.

    1. I agree. The map shows a very small, subtle change that should make the buses faster, while also making it easier to cross the street. Right now, cars can use both lanes to go eastbound from 46th to Green Lake Way north. This adds to the number of vehicles in that lane. Instead, those cars are forced into the left lane. The bus goes straight, along with other vehicles heading that way. This might otherwise cause congestion on 46th, but there is another significant change. Right now two lanes of traffic from Aurora can flow onto Green Lake Way. Instead they will be limited to one lane. This means fewer cars on Green Lake Way. Thus when the light turns green (for eastbound traffic) it should empty out better than before. It also means that east of there, on 46th, there should be fewer cars. Some cars that would otherwise turn right will be waiting for cars going straight (to Green Lake Way). Overall it makes using Green Lake Way (and 50th) more attractive, which are streets that the buses don’t use. It is mostly a pedestrian improvement, but it benefits the buses as well.

  4. Yes on 1 has pulled ahead by 3700 votes, so the odds are looking really good.

    I noticed something rather odd about Seattle Approves’ mailers. There was a certain phrase totally missing from them: “approval”, followed by the word “voting”. They even referred to the voting system in St. Louis as “Prop 1A.”

    1. 5500 lead for Yes on 1 as of Wednesday. There don’t appear to be enough unprocessed ballots left to change the outcome. Fairvote Washington has declared victory.

      RCV dismantled approval voting by more than 3 to 1. I hope both pro-reform sides can be circumspect about the campaign and the outcome.

  5. Maybe I missed it, but I haven’t seen any discussion about the refined CID 4th Ave shallow option that ST shared at the CID Workshop #1 on 11/2. I wasn’t at the workshop, but they had a link to the workshop materials with diagrams in the WSBLE email update they sent out on 11/14. It looks very compelling from a rider perspective with a platform depth of 45’, entrances on both sides of Jackson, and potentially direct connections to the existing Link and Sounder stations.

      1. Sound Transit actually listed “use existing tunnel” as one of the options mentioned (page 14)

      2. Oy vey! I’m going to try again, but not on my phone. Ross or Mike, if you notice this, please remove the terribly misspelled version above. Thanks

        I would like to point out that “Fourth Avenue Shallower” is exactly what I proposed about a year ago. I even mentioned the possibility that the street would have to be raised a bit where the new tracks crossed the existing ones.

        I can’t find the posts, but I laid out the idea two or three times. Someone else, Al I believe, was supportive.

        Yes, it’s pretty expensive to rebuild the Fourth Avenue viaduct structure, which would be necessary. But it’s going to happen some time in the next two decades anyway, so the total cost to government is lower to do it at the same time a new station is built underneath it.

        Transfers to and from both Lines 2 and 3 and Sounder would all be much easier and quicker. Disruption would be a net of zero to the community, because it IS going to suffer disruption from the replacement of the Fourth Avenue decking anyway.

      3. Thanks, Ross or Mike. I can be a poor proof reader in the best of times, but that was definitely not the “best”……

  6. Since this thread invites reader topics I thought I would list five recent articles that I think are important on the macro scale (since they are all behind a paywall I will just describe the article and where it was printed):

    1. The Wall St. Journal has a front-page article today noting “Tech Firms Drop Office Space In A Swift Nationwide Retreat”. According to the article, these firms leased much more space than they needed even pre-pandemic, and are now flooding downtown commercial cores with empty office spaces as leases roll off or are exited as tech companies (and others) get serious about cutting costs and employees.

    So far the major tech companies have placed around 30 million sf of office space on the sublease market, increasing the nationwide vacancy rate to 12.5%, the highest since 2011. As the leases roll off the space will exit the sublease market and become vacant, so the vacancy rate is certain to increase.

    The relevance to this region is it is tech heavy, and Microsoft, Amazon and Meta have lost $3 trillion in market cap among them (which is just shareholder stock), and that will be felt in this region,

    The relevance to transit is I think it is time for transit agencies to recognize the work commuter is likely not returning, at least to urban cores, and current transit ridership is either the baseline or high and will skew more toward non-peak ridership, which has a lower fare payment percentage.

    2. In a prior post I discussed an article in the Seattle Times by Jon Talton noting the increasing budget deficit estimates for Seattle in 2023 (and every other city) and predicted the deficit would rise to over $200 million in 2023 (it had increased pretty dramatically just from April 2022).

    In a follow up article in the Seattle Times, it was noted the “cooling” commercial and residential real estate markets (prices and sales) would likely reduce REET tax revenue in Seattle $50 million to $60 million per year. The 1% cap on raising the levy cap has led many cities to balance their budgets through development, which has been booming in this region. As I have noted before, rising property values are generally better for a city than falling property/housing values because you can do something about one of them.

    Although REET 1 and 2 are limited in how they can be spent https://dor.wa.gov/taxes-rates/other-taxes/real-estate-excise-tax, what the article did not discuss is the significant tax revenue from construction: sales tax, which goes into the general fund. This double whammy along with the end of Covid relief funds and rising costs due to inflation are going to cause real budget pain for cities beginning in 2023, and require some major cuts to services.

    3. There is a debate on the Seattle Council right now over Harrell’s proposed budget, which is heavy on hiring police and law and order. Pederson and Nelson penned an editorial in the Seattle Times supporting Harrell’s budget (although I have no idea where the city will get the money to hire 500 new police officers). The progressives on the council want to spend the money on social services. I would be more concerned about the layoffs at Amazon, and Talton’s comment that Amazon now sees Bellevue as its HQ1.

    4. Due to the national debt rising to over $30 trillion, and rising borrowing rates, next year when the Congress must raise the debt ceiling the annual debt payment will likely exceed $700 billion, about double what the debt payment was in 2019. $350 billion extra is a lot of money. The debt has to be paid, but those payments come at the expense of other programs, especially if GDP and tax receipts are declining. Somewhere the Congress is going to have to find some cuts, or raise taxes, just like cities, but I just don’t see compromise on tax increases and cuts with the makeup of the future Congress, so I would not be surprised by a shutdown. The Freedom Caucus sees budget deficits with the same fever as environmentalists see carbon emissions (except for the 400 private planes that flew to the recent global summit on climate change).

    5. At the height of the pandemic the total savings rate for citizens swelled to around $2.9 trillion, in part because there were few places to spend the money and Covid relief funds. That amount is now down to $1 trillion, and credit card and other debt is increasing very quickly as citizens try to keep their heads above water. Next year, as most expect more layoffs, the rising debt and declining savings rates are going to hit a lot of citizens hard, when many states still have not refunded their unemployment trust funds or paid back the federal government for loans they took out (Washington State has been pretty responsible about this, despite the $600 million Nigerian scammers stole).

    What all of this means is what Jeff Bezos recently recommended: Now and in 2023 will be a time for frugality, and painful budget cuts, with tax revenue flowing out of urban cores which often have the highest social costs and most progressive councils, and now declining development revenue or work commuters to revitalize retail and restaurants like along 3rd Ave.

      1. I think you might be right Glenn. For some time I thought commercial property owners would object because commercial leases are more lucrative, and switching to residential could cost a lot in retrofits, and could jeopardize the underlying loans which are based on commercial lease rates and vacancy rates.

        However if the buildings are going to be empty, or well below their vacancy rates that the interest on the loan is tied to, property owners may have no option.

        The rub is the housing won’t be “affordable”. The property owners simply can’t afford affordable housing in any conversion. It will be market rate, maybe with some affordable housing set asides (10% is common at 80% AMI because 80% AMI tenants look like market rate tenants), or a fee in lieu of, but these buildings are already built so there is little leverage a city has to require affordable housing set asides or fee in lieu of in any conversion which would be very expensive to begin with.

        The real question is whether there will be the retail and restaurant vibrancy to attract people to live in an urban core. Somehow the number of residents living in these buildings will have to eventually match the lost work commuters to fund revitalization and make streets vibrant and safe. An empty urban street that is a canyon between tall steel and glass towers at night is not very inviting. I don’t know if there are enough folks in this area who want to live downtown to fill these office towers if they are converted to residential, or who can afford it. Since most of the converted housing would be market rate it would have to compete for all the other market rate housing in the area.

      2. “The rub is the housing won’t be “affordable”.”

        But if wealthy people live there, they won’t be occupying the units they’d otherwise be in if those units weren’t there. That will free up the other units for other people not as wealthy as them. That causes a chain reaction down. The same reaction that occurs in the opposite direction when new downtown units aren’t built. Then wealthier people fill the lower-end units and displace the lower-income people who’d otherwise be there.

    1. Daniel, except for iBonds and TIPS the government won’t pay one red cent more on existing debt. Nada. Nicht. Zee-roh! Yes, the rate on new debt to fund newly created indebtedness from the current deficit and that required for “rolling over” expiring T-bill will certainly shoot up. But it won’t double interest charges.

      1. You are correct Tom. But as existing debt with very low interest rates (almost zero) rolls off and is replaced with new debt with more than double the interest rate, plus the new debt necessary for the Covid costs which has added around $8 trillion since Feb. 2020 to the national debt, you will likely see a doubling of the annual debt payment in the next five years compared to Feb. 2020. For many years the Federal Reserve kept interest rates very low exactly for this reason, until inflation made that impossible.

        Although the Freedom Caucus is not very sophisticated, their passion toward the national debt is not unlike environmentalists’ passion toward climate change, and both are likely correct. Just like climate activists throwing paint on Klimt paintings these fiscal conservatives believe something drastic has to be done to get people’s attention. https://www.artnews.com/art-news/news/klimt-oil-climate-activists-protest-leopold-museum-vienna-1234646745/

      2. The Freedom Caucus only cares about the national debt when Democrats are in power. When Republicans are in power, they will happily increase the debt to deliver more tax cuts to the wealthy, which they’ll try to justify by claiming it will pay for itself with economic growth, even though everybody knows it won’t.

      3. American fiscal conservatism is different than deficit reduction. In general, the political movements are in opposition, not agreement. Deficits tend to increase as so called “conservatives” gain power. They increase security spending and reduce taxes, leading to bigger deficits. Good examples are Reagan and G. W. Bush, when deficits ballooned despite relatively good economic conditions. Deficits also increased substantially under Obama, but that was largely due to the recession (caused by lack of regulation — a key component of Republican policy) and the two very expensive wars (ditto). Obama, like Clinton, was a moderate, and more likely to pass a balanced budget under normal conditions. If anything, Obama failed in spending too little, not too much.

        As to whether the Republicans will be able to play this political card and screw up the economy by advocating austerity at absolutely the wrong time, it remains to be seen. The American public’s approach to the Republicans is not much different than Charlie Brown’s approach to Lucy. They keep thinking she won’t pull the football out, but of course she does. So yeah, it wouldn’t surprise me if America — lead by a gullible press — buys into the relatively sane Republican argument that we must do something now that the deficits are big, even though it was Republicans that made them big.

      4. That is a fair comment Ross: the party in power rarely wants to balance the budget.

        But I think we are at a tipping point. The last time the U.S. was close to such a debt to GDP ratio was just after WWII, but industrial gains and a baby boom increased GDP, things that don’t exist today.

        There will need to be cuts but no vested interest wants cuts, and tax increases but who wants tax increases. The increase in debt payments that the Peterson Institute puts at $1.2 trillion by 2032 will force change. Or our currency will devalue significantly.

      5. The debt is high because of irresponsible tax cuts for the rich. Reagan cut taxes and ballooned the debt. Clinton raised taxes and shrank it, and if we’d continued that course the debt would have vanished and been replaced by a surplus. The bondholder class freaked out at that and begged the government to keep at least a small debt so that they’d have a safe investment that paid interest. Bush II cut taxes and raised the debt; Obama raised taxes and lowered it; and Trump (or mainly Congressional Republicans) cut taxes and raised the debt. We also had a covid crisis that needed deficit spending. So the answer is not to cut needed programs and throw people into poverty; it’s to make the rich pay their fair share of taxes. Our tax rates are lower than Europe or lower than they should ideally be, so they have nothing legitimate to complain about.

      6. The debt is high because of irresponsible tax cuts for the rich.

        That, and increased military spending. The deficit increased dramatically under Reagan because that was his priority (cut taxes for the wealthy, increase spending on the military). It got much, much worse under G. W. Bush. He cut taxes, and then started two very expensive, very long wars. Estimates are that the Iraq war will cost around 3 trillion. That is about $10,000 for every man, woman and child in this country. Afghanistan is similar. These are rough estimates. A Brown University puts the number for the two wars at $8 trillion (https://www.brown.edu/news/2021-09-01/costsofwar). I can’t remember the actual line, but Mo Amer (the comedian) said something like “it turns out it is expensive to kill brown people”. Yep.

        As for whether we’ve reached a political turning point in the deficit, I don’t see it. There are very few people who have staked out that position, for the reasons you mentioned. Your average Republican won’t raise taxes for any reason. Some Democrats are interested in reducing the deficit, largely by raising taxes. In fact, they did (the Inflation Reduction Act is supposed to reduce the deficit by around 200 billion by increasing taxes). But don’t expect major cuts. It really doesn’t win any votes.

        I also don’t think there is a tipping point from a financial standpoint. Inflation is high, but that is true across the world. The dollar is very strong — as strong as it has been in a long time.

        Inflation itself is actually good for the deficit. That money we all owe (ten thousand per person, twenty thousand?) seems smaller as inflation kicks in. Higher interest rates are a problem, but those are likely to come down eventually (while the inflationary effect is permanent). In the long term, the best solution is try and grow ourselves out of it. This means having a more robust economy (again, a goal of the Inflation Reduction Act) but also by having a bigger country. We should be increasing immigration, so that more people can share in that debt.

      7. “Inflation itself is actually good for the deficit. That money we all owe (ten thousand per person, twenty thousand?) seems smaller as inflation kicks in.”

        This is true IF you don’t need to borrow further.

        https://www.pgpf.org/blog/2022/05/interest-costs-on-the-national-debt-set-to-reach-historic-highs-in-the-next-decade As this article explains, the U.S. government has had historically low borrowing rates for the last 14 years, in many cases manipulated by the federal reserve. But as the low interest rate instruments are paid off the U. S. government must keep borrowing, but at much higher rates (and now the federal reserve is selling, not buying, U.S. debt). So the annual payment on the debt (interest and principal) goes up, quite a bit, especially if the debt goes up as well. The increased payments must come at the expense of other programs. (For reasons I don’t quite understand, when interest rates fall the U.S. government does not borrow to pay off higher interest rate instruments).

        When it comes to the debt, here is a graph of total debt by year by President. https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=ITKfN5xy&id=5AA79AB80E9A0C04B294FE6EEAD8EAA8A7C73317&thid=OIP.ITKfN5xy9iKcFO9IQtvWXQHaFu&mediaurl=https%3A%2F%2Fi0.wp.com%2Fmercatus.org%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Fdebt-ceiling-history-jpg-new.jpg&exph=1275&expw=1651&q=history+of+us+debt+chart&simid=608021834668273887&form=IRPRST&ck=370AB22D95D2EB23864C6B9A3FBA3B5A&selectedindex=5&qpvt=history+of+us+debt+chart&ajaxhist=0&ajaxserp=0&cdnurl=https%3A%2F%2Fth.bing.com%2Fth%2Fid%2FR.21329f379c72f6229c14ef4842dbd65d%3Frik%3DFzPHp6jq2Opu%252fg%26pid%3DImgRaw%26r%3D0&vt=0&sim=11

        What this doesn’t tell you is what the debt was used for, and its ratio to GDP. Here is a chart of debt to GDP. https://www.longtermtrends.net/us-debt-to-gdp/ Debt has not equaled or exceeded total GDP except right after WWII, and today.

        As noted when GDP rises it mitigates the ratio of rising debt to debt ratio.

        I agree with Ross that the debt increase under Bush II was questionable because the Iraq war was a blunder. The debt increases under Obama, and then Trump and Biden, have to be compared to the strong possibility (based on FDR’s reduction of stimulus in 1937-8) that the other option was a full-blown Depression, which is much worse than debt. Biden’s expenditures in 2021 and 2022 look a lot more questionable because inflation, not a depression, was the real risk.

        I also share Ross’s pessimism that the two parties will do anything about the debt, although the debt ceiling has to be raised, and the interest and principal payments paid at the expense of other programs. The military and entitlements are the elephants in the room when it comes to expenditures (although according to George Soros the number one factor for a reserve currency is military strength. Number two is the number of Nobel prizes in the sciences a country earns). The Trump tax cuts expire in 2025 I believe and probably should not be extended, while some deep cuts are made to expenditures and entitlements. At least that is how a bankruptcy court would attack the problem.

        The U.S. can do nothing, and likely will, but at some point the payment on the debt begins to consume a very large portion of the budget, so cuts have to be made, or tax increases, or likely both.

    2. Oh, and if the Freedumb Caucus does succeed in forcing a default on interest payments, the rate on new debt will really soar.

    3. I will sell all my AMZN stocks and never buy more if they think Bellevue being HQ1 is a good idea. It would reflect poor corporate decision making. Bellevue is a sterile suburb with $3M houses. It sucks for young and ambitious people.

  7. Month old news here in Denver, but still a good thing regardless
    https://www.cpr.org/2022/10/19/rtd-light-rail-low-floor/
    RTD finally is the planning stages to consider shifting over to low floor LRVs like the Siemens S70s as they’re pursuing a grant from the FTA that’s paying to replace aging transit vehicles across the country. Wouldn’t be cheap tho. It’s likely to cost 500+ million over the time of the replacement process of 200+ vehicles over the next decade and a half. Along with paying to retrofit and redesign light rail stations to accommodate the new trains and accessibility. It’s a step in the right direction but they procrastinated so long on doing this. Along with the decision to spend more on the same vehicles back in 08 when other systems like Portland, Salt Lake City, and San Diego were already moving away from using such vehicles and towards vehicles like the S70 kinda shot them in the foot.

    1. I didn’t realize there were vehicles like that. They are high floor, but serve low-floor stations. Kind of the worst of both worlds. They seem more appropriate for long range travel (e. g. Amtrak).

    2. I was in Denver this past summer and got to ride some of these trains. Taking multiple steps up to board, and multiple steps down to alight, while carrying luggage, hurt my legs for days afterward.

      Each platform had a ramp up to the front spot, where the conductor could deploy the ramp, but I did not see anyone use it. Ridership was sparse, despite RTD being free for the month. Mask-wearing was even more sparse. I did not see any mask dispensers.

      That said, the regional all-day trains in the Netherlands had similar steps, when I was there in 2019. They were quite crowded, pre-COVID, and tough for riders with mobility challenges.

    1. I agree opening Metro at Dulles is a huge improvement in mobility options for visitors. I will point out, however, that Alaska flies multiple non stop to DCA so it’s not a total game changer for Seattleites visiting the Capitol. But more options makes shopping airfare on price easier!

      1. You are right, Ian. I now see two nonstop flights a day to DCA. Still, that’s not a high number and I’d think they would fill up making the fares expensive.

        Surprisingly, I only see two nonstops listed to Dulles — one on Alaska. There appears to be just one flight to BWI, too.

        As a major destination and hub, I would have expected more direct flights to the DC area.

      2. In general, SEA has massive capacity constraints because it is so small, hence the second airport study.

        Also, are airlines back at 100% from pre-COVID?

    2. The last time I used Dulles, it was a 30 minute bus ride, with 30 or 60 minutes of waiting (which, I don’t remember) just to get to the nearest Metro station. Then, an additional 20 minutes to ride the train downtown. This will be a big improvement.

      1. I flew into Dulles just last month. I was lucky enough to only have to wait ten minutes or so for the hourly 5A express bus direct to downtown: there was one stop at a nearby P&R, one more at Roslyn, and then the third stop was in downtown DC. About 45 minutes in all. It was a premium fair, but worth it.

        I hear the 5A is cancelled now in favor of the Silver Line, which’s definitely an improvement since the train will come a lot more frequently.

  8. I’m surprised that you can use the same user name with a different email address. I removed the comment (as you can see). It may have been an honest mistake, as the username matches their email address.

    1. We’ve had an increase in spam. In the few days before the election I found three comments with generic right-wing political messages and unique names. Yesterday there was a comment from “Ross” (presumably not RossB) with inappropriate content. I didn’t see the one from the false “Tom Terrific”. I set all of them to “spam” except one political one that was good enough to be art, and the last one that I didn’t see.

    2. Ross, thanks. My Email address has no reference to “Tom Terrific”. I thought that the system did not publish it, so there must have been some sort of hack. Did the imposter actually know the address I use?

      Anyway, a pretty moronic troll, whoever he [almost certainly] is.

    3. The email addresses here are utterly meaningless, as anybody can put literally whatever they want. I typically use a nonsense email, like foo@bar.com, as I prefer to avoid providing my real email online when I don’t have to.

      I wish the system would just accept a blank email address and end the pointless charade.

  9. “Yesterday there was a comment from “Ross” (presumably not RossB) with inappropriate content. ”

    At least it was pro-transit.

  10. Interesting front page article in The Seattle Times: “Seattle Landlords Accused Of Conspiring To Raise Apartment Rents”.

    Three lawsuits seeking class action status were filed in federal court. The plaintiffs claim, “the use of Real-Page software, which gathers information about rental units and rent prices and uses an algorithm to recommend how much landlords should charge” is a violation of anti-trust laws.

    The lawsuits are based on an investigation and article by ProPublica that was published in October and detailed the use of Real-Page in Seattle and other cities, and found for example that 70% of large apartment buildings in Belltown were run by 10 property management companies that all used the software to set rents.

    According to the Times’ article, “the cases are part of a new front in antitrust disputes because of the use of an algorithm”, that effectively is no different than a group of supposed competitors getting together to conspire to set prices.

    According to the plaintiffs, tenants are less likely to move when rents rise if there is very little difference in rents in a region because of the hassle and high costs of moving. Therefore, the landlords effectively have a “cartel”.

    1. Thanks, Daniel: that was a good synopsis.

      This is an example of the Uncertainty Principle run rampant: when the position of one electron [e.g. “rental rate”] is known, all the other electrons shed their uncertainty in order to appear at the same place simultaneously…..

    2. It’s an interesting point. The free market principles of supply and demand are all subject to the assumption that you have a competitive market.

      That said, if there is a cartel, it’s worth pointing out that cartels can only exist in markets with high barriers to entry, and the obvious reason for the high barrier to entry is a scarcity of multifamily zoned land. If single family homes were upzoned, the cumulative value of all residential real estate would be too large for any small group of landlords to be able to afford to buy it all up. That means more competition and, in the long run, lower rents.

      1. There is a form of anti-trust conduct in which parties conspire to limit supply to raise taxes. OPEC is a good example, although under this form of anti-trust scheme prices often swing pretty dramatically for many other reasons if left to the market.

        The conduct of the landlords is price fixing. It doesn’t matter what the supply is if the price is fixed.

        There isn’t a supply problem of market rate housing. The AMI in Seattle is $115,000. 100% AMI housing is around $2950/mo. assuming a person pays 30% of income toward housing, even if they insist on living alone. There is no shortage of housing at that rate.

        Even 50% AMI is $1475/mo. for housing, again if that person insists on living alone when the best way to deal with housing costs is to share housing like most do. Two individuals earning 50% AMI would have $2950/mo. for housing which is plenty for a nice two bedroom unit.

        0% to 30% AMI is really supportive housing, although the gap between zero (zero retained earning capacity) and 30% is probably the largest gap and almost meaningless and requires publicly supportive housing until hopefully those individuals can increase their AMI.

        The shortage in housing is in the 30% to 50% AMI, but again this shortage is really only for those who live alone with their own kitchen, bathroom, living room etc.

        Builders will not build this kind of housing at market rates, because they can’t make a profit if new construction. The four main ways to create or preserve this 30% to 50% housing are:

        1. Preserve existing older multi-family and single family housing where most of the 30% to 50% housing exists. The Affordable Housing Council finally realizes “displacement” is nothing more than gentrification, and is one of the main problems. which is accelerated by upzoning because builders buy low and sell high.

        2. Rent control. But for rent control to work it must apply to new and existing construction and begin at market rates with caps on annual increases. This is what St. Paul did, and housing starts plummeted.

        3. Public subsidies. These include publicly funding housing like King Co.’s efforts to buy distressed hotels, contributions by cities to organizations like ARCH although ARCH requires tenants to live with others because otherwise affordable housing is too expensive to subsidize, affordable unit set asides in new multi-family housing (usually 10% at 80% AMI) in exchange for greater regulatory limits, or a fee in lieu of.

        4. Tiny units, even 95 sf, except in areas with high land prices even 95 sf new construction will cost more than 30% AMI. But if someone plans to live alone a tiny unit is the most effective way to limit housing costs although builders will rarely build tiny units without public subsidies.

        For all of these methods one critical element is the housing must be within walking distance of frequent transit.

        The problem with upzoning is it doesn’t address the reason builders have built too little housing since 2008 in probably the best conditions for housing in history. Plus upzoning can take decades, and since it requires new construction to implement the new housing it is the most expensive per sf, especially if each new unit requires its own kitchen, bathroom and living spaces because the unit is only big enough for one.

        The other factor with upzoning SFH zones is the lots are relatively small, and even with increased regulatory limits the additional profit for a developer over a SFH just isn’t there, and builders can’t afford to hold the properties as rentals. So the builder builds a very expensive SFH in an expensive area with the new larger regulatory limits while the actual “upzoning” occurs in less expensive neighborhoods which gentrifies existing older affordable housing. The Central Didtrict is a perfect example.

        If there is one universal truth about affordable housing it is everybody wants someone else to pay for it, including the state and county, when the most immediate and cost effective method to create affordable housing is shared housing like most households.

      2. I saw a similar article a week ago when the lawsuit was anticipated. It’s an interesting argument, that landlords sharing rent prices is akin to oil cartels fixing the price. The thrust of the earlier article was that the algorithm finds the highest price, and showed that rents could go up hundreds of dollars more than landlords previously assumed. It’s just more of chasing the wealthiest tenants, and when there’s such a severe housing shortage everyone else gets shuts out.

        “There isn’t a supply problem of market rate housing. The AMI in Seattle is $115,000.”

        That’s ignoring the people who get priced of of Seattle and are forced to move to Skyway or Kent, or now Lynnwood, Auburn, and Pierce County. It’s the illusion of artificial municipal boundaries. The real issue is why are prices rising so fast? It’s because too many people are competing for under-$2000 units, which is the same as a low vacancy rate or a housing shortage.

        We need subsidized housing for those making $0 – $70K at least. That’s a wide range of AMI. We need to build more market-rate housing to avoid the problem getting even worse, as it has for the past twenty years. We should never have let prices run away like that; we should have built more market-rate housing ever since 2003 and nipped the price increases in the bud. Now that we’ve let it grow to a major crisis, we need subsidized housing at a wide range of AMI to fill the gap. But we also need more market-rate housing to prevent the problem from getting worse.

        “I saw a similar article a week ago when the lawsuit was anticipated. It’s an interesting argument, that landlords sharing rent prices is akin to oil cartels fixing the price. The thrust of the earlier article was that the algorithm finds the highest price, and showed that rents could go up hundreds of dollars more than landlords previously assumed. It’s just more of chasing the wealthiest tenants, and when there’s such a severe housing shortage everyone else gets shuts out.

        “There isn’t a supply problem of market rate housing. The AMI in Seattle is $115,000.”

        That’s ignoring the people who get priced of of Seattle and are forced to move to Skyway or Kent, or now Lynnwood, Auburn, and Pierce County. It’s the illusion of artificial municipal boundaries. The real issue is why are prices rising so fast? It’s because too many people are competing for under-$2000 units, which is the same as a low vacancy rate or a housing shortage.

        We need subsidized housing for those making $0 – $70K at least. That’s a wide range of AMI. We need to build more market-rate housing to avoid the problem getting even worse, as it has for the past twenty years. We should never have let prices run away like that; we should have built more market-rate housing ever since 2003 and nipped the price increases in the bud. Now that we’ve let it grow to a major crisis, we need subsidized housing at a wide range of AMI to fill the gap. But we also need more market-rate housing to prevent the problem from getting worse.

        ” Preserve existing older multi-family and single family housing where most of the 30% to 50% housing exists.”

        You can’t do that without subsidies or rent control. Even if the buildings aren’t improved, their rents will rise because of the housing shortage. This is happening everywhere. It used to happen just in coastal cities, but now it’s happening throughout the country.

      3. The biggest thing that’s going up is the price of land. That affects dense urban areas, upzoned suburban areas, non-upzoned areas, and existing buildings whether upzoned or not. The most acute changes are close to centers where the most people want to be. There’s only one Space Needle so if you want to live near it you have to live in a certain area. But there’s a general increase across the board, both in Seattle and in inner-ring suburbs and in Snohomish and Pierce Counties and beyond. That’s not gentrification of a neighborhood; it’s a general increase in competition. When the Central District goes up, you have to subtract the rate everything else is going up too, because that’s most of it. It’s not because the Central District is upzoned. It’s because everywhere is going up, the Central District is a central location, and its reasonably walkable and close to destinations, and people have overcome their fear of crime there.

      4. Mike, the cost of construction — new and remodels — has increased as well. There is a certain base price per sf for new construction no matter what the cost of the underlying land is, although the value of the neighborhood does affect how above base price the construction is (appliances, cabinets, counters, and so on).

        It isn’t the “upzone” that gentrifies an area like The Central District, It is the new construction the upzone incentivizes because that is new construction, and as the area further gentrifies the cost per sf for new construction goes up because the value of the neighborhood supports higher end construction. The Central District became denser but also more expensive per sf.

        I don’t know if a city like Seattle can prevent this. Rent control is one method, in part because rent control disincentivizes new construction and gentrification. Or affordable housing set asides or fee in lieu of. Or just sharing housing which is how affordable housing was preserved in the past with boarding houses.

      5. It isn’t the “upzone” that gentrifies an area like The Central District, It is the new construction the upzone incentivizes because that is new construction

        Sorry, but you are wrong. It is neither the upzone or the new construction because of the upzoning. It is simply the fact that the area became more attractive. The Central District used to be considered “the ghetto”. It was a victim of redlining, and when redlining ended, all that was left were lots of poor people forced to live in that area. As time went on, though, white people discovered that it was fundamentally a good neighborhood. A big part of it was the influx of gay people, who had bigger things to worry about than inner city crime. As more and more (often white) gay people moved in, other white people figured out that the stereotypes were wrong, or at the very least, exaggerated. It wasn’t particularly dangerous, and it was definitely convenient. You can literally walk downtown from the C. D. — how cool is that? Next thing you know, houses in the Central Area — where zoning hasn’t changed one bit — are going for way more than they were just a few years prior.

        Upzoning actually reduces the economic pressure on units. There are studies that prove it: https://furmancenter.org/files/Supply_Skepticism_-_Final.pdf. Thus the Central Area would be much more expensive if it wasn’t for what little upzoning has occurred.

  11. I have been following this blog for a long time and I have noticed in the comments drifting away from these two facts about transit: more people using electric transit is better for the environment and that transit construction has a 50-100 year lifetime.

    How this manifests in discussion is people trying to criticize station placement based on current population verses future potential. The Spring district for example will grow into an excellent station. Much of the time, the decisions such as building from Bellevue to Issaquah get ridiculed more than the travel time between Federal Way.

    There’s also an unhealthy focus on regional centers being better than each other. Transit planning should be regional and if Amazon is building a tower in Bellevue this only says the region is stronger and that Amazon is hiring east siders rather than college hires. This dialog alongside “east sider will never take transit” are points of view that are both off topic and insulting to people on both sides of the lake.

    The focus on transit should be environment, quality of ride, and quantity of ride.

    1. George, different centers and regions compete because light rail is segregated into subareas in which the tax revenue raised in that subarea must be spent there, which creates haves and have nots, and so is general tax revenue. The reality is there is not enough tax revenue, jobs (especially with the tech layoffs beginning in Seattle) and retail to go around, and optimistic future population increases look unlikely. So cities compete, which is not all bad.

      I suppose some transit will last 50-100 years, but so will roads and bridges. The key is the cost of future maintenance and operations, and replacement.

      Lines like Issaquah to S. Bellevue get ridiculed because the cost/benefit analysis is so bad, or dollar per rider mile, something transit advocates too often ignore thinking funding is infinite. If you accept the reality funding is finite (including operations costs) then you have an obligation to build transit where the most people will use it, both for the dollar per rider mile, and farebox recovery which funds future O&M.

      I disagree with the mantra build it and they will come, which means light rail and TOD. I have always thought Ross was spot on: build where they (riders and population density) are. Now. Start with a bus because it is cheap, increase frequency if necessary because that is cheap, then maybe RR or dedicated lanes, and THEN if ridership demands light rail. Don’t spend $20 billion on WSBLE to move 400-600 car drivers to light rail. I think it is important to remember that no matter what in this three-county region 90% of all trips will always be by car, especially post pandemic.

      The Spring Dist. was planned long before East Link, and from the developers I know East Link is not much of a factor, especially for housing in the area. I think The Spring Dist. will see development, but from the plans I have seen it will be a fairly sterile office district that is pretty dead at night. There just isn’t enough population or capacity for The Spring Dist. to compete with Bellevue Way (or Redmond) for retail. Again I go back to Ross’s paradigm: build light rail where people already want to live in fairly dense accommodations, like Capitol Hill, and you will get lots of riders and more density. Build it where they don’t want to live and don’t live now, like along a freeway or in the SFH zones, and you will get less ridership and no future housing density. Transit should serve people’s desires where to work and live and shop, it does not drive those decisions.

      Finally, when it comes to climate change no issue has been coopted more. Buses use roads and use diesel and provide by far the most transit. When cars become EV does that mean transit and light rail are no longer meaningful or should be funded? No, the purpose of transit is irrespective of climate. Instead Metro is now in the process of a premature conversion to battery powered buses the cost of which will require reducing frequency and coverage (and many don’t quite realize play havoc with bus layover areas that don’t have charging infrastructure, like Mercer Island).

      “The focus on transit should be environment, quality of ride, and quantity of ride.”

      I agree with the last two. The first one is just ST press hyperbole. But quality of ride has a lot to do with safety and cleanliness, which are deal breakers for the discretionary rider (who tends to pay full fare) and quantity (frequency and coverage) almost everything to do with funding, which is finite. Build WSBLE or Issaquah to S. Kirkland and you actually reduce quantity because you spent a fortune building lines no one will ride, because not many are not taking transit today on those routes for reasons that have little to do with the mode of transit (and light rail is often less convenient and slower than a one seat bus).

    2. The environment is often cited as a reason for transit, but I don’t think transit is really about the environment. If transit were really about the environment, only the most popular routes would run, and for everything else, spending the operations money to reduce carbon some other way (e.g. solar/battery storage for electricity, or buy people heat pumps) would perform better in terms of avoided carbon per taxpayer dollar.

      Rather, the purpose of transit is to provide people with an alternative to driving, and to do so in a way that is more cost effective than a taxi. So, then, the question becomes, why do need alternatives to driving? These generally boil down into the following reasons. First, cars are expensive beasts, and spending the money to own and operate one should not be a mandatory requirement to be allowed to participate in society. Second, some people have medical conditions that prevent them from driving. It could be anything from poor eyesight to poor hand/eye coordination to post traumatic stress from a prior traffic accident. I myself once had an elbow injury that, for a few days, prevented me from turning a steering wheel. Third, in order for cities to function with nearly every trip being a car trip, you have to devote huge amounts of space to roads a car storage that make the city an ugly sea of asphalt, and the most charming neighborhoods a city has to offer, impossible because there’s not enough parking. Fourth, transit complements walking very well because the fact that it’s there means you can walk as far as you want without having to commit yourself to walking back. More people walking means more eyes on the street to deter crime (and no, eyes zooming by at 40 mph do not deter crime), more sales at local businesses as people make spontaneous decisions to stop in and buy something, and a healthier population that gets more exercise.

    3. I have been following this blog for a long time and I have noticed in the comments drifting away from these two facts about transit: more people using electric transit is better for the environment and that transit construction has a 50-100 year lifetime.

      I think there is a basic understanding of that. I think people allude to it, if not state it outright. There is a strong environmental benefit to transit. It gets complicated (especially with the advent of electric cars) but there is a very strong correspondence between energy use and transit. The more people use transit, the less energy they consume.

      I also think people are well aware of the relative permanence of train infrastructure. Unlike bus stops, it is expensive to move lines and stops. It is quite likely there will never be a First Hill station, despite the obvious advantages to one. People object to a station at 14th NW for much the same reason. Of course the area around 14th will continue to grow, but it is highly unlikely that it will be as big as places to the west, or more importantly, as attractive. Capitol Hill is third in terms of ridership not only because lots of people live around there, but because lots of people want to go there. It is also a bad idea to ignore an existing area with strong transit demand in hopes that a new area will eventually become one.

      How this manifests in discussion is people trying to criticize station placement based on current population verses future potential. The Spring district for example will grow into an excellent station.

      I don’t think there is much argument about the Spring District eventually being a decent station. But there is ample evidence that simply building a station next to the freeway and hoping that it will eventually result in high ridership doesn’t work. Say what you will about future potential in places like Fife and Ash Way — they will never be like Roosevelt, let alone First Hill.

      Much of the time, the decisions such as building from Bellevue to Issaquah get ridiculed more than the travel time between Federal Way.

      The former gets ridiculed because it is a completely new line in a low density location. It primarily serves a secondary (or more likely, tertiary) location. It parallels the freeway, with many trips (such as Issaquah to Seattle) being better on the bus than the new light rail line. Simply improving the buses (which will be completely electric long before the line is built) is a much better value. There simply won’t be enough people riding the train to justify building it (even as density increases).

      The Federal Way extension is more complicated. First of all, it is an extension. As a stand-alone line (Federal Way to Angle Lake) it would be ridiculous. Even Federal Way to SeaTac would be stupid. But as an extension, it has some potential. Yes, the travel times will be long, but there is value in having a station that can be accessed easily via the freeway (on the HOV lanes). Much of the ridership at the southern terminus (Angle Lake right now) comes from much further south. Connecting buses to the station via HOV ramps saves agencies a lot of money. If the agencies decide to keep some express bus service, this allows riders to quickly and easily connect to SeaTac, Highline College, and other local destinations. Either way the agencies save money, it is simply a matter of how much. Truncate and you save a lot. Deviate slightly to serve the station and you save a little, but give riders the best of both worlds.

      It still might not be worth it, but there was no obvious alternative. There were no alternative plans for sending Link towards the freeway (or sending the freeway closer to Link) to better the bus-to-rail connection. This is in contrast to Issaquah Link. Simply send the Issaquah buses to Mercer Island (for trips to Seattle) and directly to downtown Bellevue (the only significant destination on Issaquah Link).

      This dialog alongside “east sider will never take transit” are points of view that are both off topic and insulting to people on both sides of the lake.

      I agree. There are cultural factors when it comes to transit, but they are relatively minor. For the most part, transit is based on the same set of factors. What is true of bus service is true of rail service. Things like density, proximity, linearity and frequency are very important. East Link can be graded on that basis, and for the most part, these are the types of arguments that occur. For example, is downtown Redmond enough of a destination — does it have enough “destination density” if you will — to attract significant ridership from the west. How far west? What about coming from the UW, where taking Link becomes a very indirect (i. e. non-linear) way to get there. There is population density there, but will people take Link to downtown Seattle, given the long distance? In my opinion it will do fairly well, but I can see why some would be skeptical.

      1. IIRC, we pretty much picked Issaquah Link to give something to East King, and also because at one point it was part of a much larger Central & East (520) study that was among many studies that informed what ended up getting put into ST3.

        Logically, in ST4 a “missing Link” would be to connect Ballard to South Bellevue via U District and 520, but the study found that between U District and the 520 bridge it would be very difficult to find a ROW that would either not upset the university or would not impact the wetlands, or both.

    4. Life is wholistic. You can’t fully separate transit, land use, environmental impacts, exercise, and health because they all affect each other. Environmentalism is a framework to address all of these at once, the way nature rewards a healthy ecosystem. But the other factors also have their own independent importance and urgency. So if a city improves transit for other reasons and it ends up having the same environmental benefits as a side effect, that’s as valuable as a policy focused on “the environment”.

      People have a basic need to travel to another parcel of land to work, shop, and other activities. They can’t do all of it on their own homestead, even if in the farmhouse past they did more of it. Cities are by definition denser than rural areas, with a greater expectation that people can get to all parts of the city.

      The question is, what mode(s) should the city prioritize, and subsidize if necessary? Transit is the most efficient way to move large volumes of people, with the smallest footprint, lowest cost, least environmental impact, most equity, and without shutting out people who can’t drive or can’t afford hundreds of dollars a month in car maintenance.

      Walking and biking have their own reasons for prioritization.
      Walking is the only mode built into humans, and excels for the shortest distances. Jeff Speck argues that even drivers walk more than anything else, and if you prioritize pedestrian infrastructure first, everything else will follow, because they come out of pedestrians’ indirect needs. Biking is much less expensive than driving, but it still requires individual vehicles and storage and spacing between them. So these should also be priorities, but a citywide network for a city larger than a couple miles across needs to be based on transit. That’s an independent priority, but it also happens to help the environmental situation, and you end up doing the same thing whether you obstensibly focus on the environment or transit.

      1. Yes, absolutely. This is what I was getting at above, when I wrote that investments in transit are generally better for the environment. There are other reasons to build good transit, but that is still a good one. The reasons are somewhat complicated. Part of it is efficiency. Buses just use less energy to move people. It gets complicated when you consider the entire process (vehicle creation and length of service, road maintenance, etc.) but generally speaking, transit just uses less energy. Even if buses, cars and trains are electric, the electricity has to come from somewhere. While the U. S. (and the world) transitions to more benign energy sources, we aren’t there yet. Even the transition takes energy (often a lot of concrete). Increased energy efficiency is one of the most important ways we can reduce climate change. Transit can play a big part in that.

        But it gets more complicated. Good transit can play a big role in developing communities that have more walking and biking. You can create a virtuous circle, where dense, walkable neighborhoods have good transit, becoming more dense and walkable. But it can also encourage sprawl. It does come down to a complicated set of decisions and transit is merely part of it. But again, generally speaking, transit is good for the environment for various reasons.

        It isn’t the *only* reason transit exists. This is where you get to asdf2’s point. If we were merely looking at transit from an environmental standpoint, we would focus largely on ridership per dollar. As Jarrett Walker points out (https://humantransit.org/2018/02/basics-the-ridership-coverage-tradeoff.html) no one does that. Every agency spends some effort improving coverage, even though it may not be the most cost effective (or best for the environment).

  12. Does anybody know what determines whether Link runs 3-car or 4-car trains? I wasn’t paying attention during the pandemic since there was plenty of space due to low ridership. Lately, however, I’ve noticed three-car trains running during rush hour, even though the trains are pretty full.

    1. And even during the day there are 3 car trains but when you go past the rail yard in SODO there are multiple cars sitting there. I have ridden from Northgate in the morning between 7:30 and 8 am and the cars are pretty full and that is before Roosevelt and U District with a lot more people getting on. A few get off at U District and more at UW before another heavy load at Capitol Hill. You do wonder the decision process that ST uses on how many cars for each train.

      1. Could the cars in the yard be out for maintenance, or possibly held in reserve to replace broken-down trains? I think the FTA/FRA requires some amount of reserve capacity for transit agencies.

        I’ve had similar questions about how Metro allocates buses. For instance, pre-COVID on weekends, the 44 would default to all 60′ coaches, with possibly a few 40′ coaches thrown in. Now, it’s all 40′ coaches, even when nearby routes like the 20 are running almost-empty 60′ coaches. The 20 runs less frequently but surely those 60′ coaches would be better used on the 44 where it’s been occasionally SRO on weekends with UW students back.

    2. If I were to guess, the 3 car trains are due to mandatory preventitive maintenance schedules. If you run 3 car trains, you can stretch the total maintenance intervals 25%. And that may help if they have a backlog of work due to labor shortages that are common today. I am assuming that every train/car gets sent over the pit for pm work due to a predetermined amount of mileage or hours of service. A 4 car train is probably not more expensive to drive, but adds miles or hours to a 4th car. They have more trains, but have they hired all the employees to fill up the Bellevue maintenance shop? The one that is not opening on time. There is only so much room to work in SODO.

  13. I have always thought that East Link was supposed to open before Lynwood link extension and Fedreal Way link extension. Is it possible that the problems on I-90 may have changed that? Lynwood looks like it might be closer to completion if they don’t have to tear anything up and repair it. Other than the cool drone pictures, I cand see Federal Way progress.

    1. I can’t speak to Lynnwood, but on East Link the superstructure is complete (issues with the Lake Washington bridges notwithstanding), while on FW Link, there are large sections for which the trackway is still under construction, and the stations are at early stages of construction. Barring outsized delays on East Link well beyond what’s currently said, I don’t think they’ll beat it.

    2. Here’s what I remember. The years may not be exact.

      – ST2 passed with Northgate 2020, Redmond Tech 2021, Lynnwood 2022, Federal Way (Redondo) 2023.
      – Stakeholders in south Bellevue demanded many alternatives and obstructed Link, adding a year to the EIS process. (2021 -> 2022) [1]
      – The 2008 recession forced Federal Way to contract to Angle Lake. (2016)
      – The recovery allowed Federal Way to re-expand to Kent-Des Moines (2022 -> 2023).
      – ST3 passed. Kent-Des Moines was consolidated into Federal Way (2022 -> 2024). Downtown Redmond was added as a second phase (2024?).
      – Rising land prices, the concrete strike, and ST factors forced Lynnwood to slip (2022 -> 2024?).
      – The concrete strike forced Redmond Tech to slip (2021 -> 2023?).
      – The plinth problem forced Redmond Tech to slip again (2021 -> 2024/2025?).

      Sam posted drone videos of the three segments under construction. They’re in the open threads over the past month or so.

      [1] Kemper Freeman opposed Link on Bellevue Way next to Bellevue Square and got the preferred alternative moved to 112th. (That may have been before the ballot measure?) Then he sued ST to kill East Link completely. Surrey Downs nimbys objected to 112th. The Bellevue city council generally sided with the nimbys and tried to obstuct Link. Bellevue Councilmember Kevin Wallace pushed a “vision plan” along the east side of 405 with a moving walkway across the freeway. It would conveniently have served his real-estate properties on 116th. Stakeholders demands a dozen alternatives, which take a year to study that many. An environmentalist threatened to sue ST if Link crossed Mercer Slough other than underground. All this added a year to the process.

      In ST3, ST begged the WSBLE stakeholders to agree on one or two alternatives to study, to avoid the Bellevue delay. That didn’t happen, and WSBLE ended up with even more controversies.

  14. Posting this from a 545 bus at 10 AM on a Saturday morning, with 20 people on board. Contrary to what some people think, there indeed do exist eastsiders who ride the bus, and I can see proof of it with my own eyes.

    1. There is a Husky game today, and IIRC the 545 was rerouted yesterday so some may have waited until today for their trip.

      No one is suggesting cross lake transit ridership has gone to zero. Still the 545 has 30 minute frequencies on Saturdays (when there is a Husky game). So 40 riders per hour are crossing the lake on the 545. This is why transit is subsidized so heavily, and doesn’t pay a share of the roads and bridge.

      What this ridership tells me is the 545 does not need more frequency, not that 545 should be eliminated. In the same hour thousands cross 520 in cars, despite the toll.

      40 riders per hour is not an issue for a bus using existing roads and bridges. But it is concerning for a $5.5 billion East Link that is predicated on thousands of riders/hour crossing I-90 going east to west. That is the point some are making about Eastside transit ridership post pandemic.

      1. “But it is concerning for a $5.5 billion East Link that is predicated on thousands of riders/hour crossing I-90 going east to west.”

        Fprward Thrust was justified in the 1970s when Seattle and the Eastside were much smaller. MAX Gresham and Hillsboro went to empty fields in anticipation of growth. Many European cities have light rail in/to cities the size of Bellevue/Redmond or smaller. The cars crossing the lake prove there’s huge demand. The original 520 bridge tolls were removed seven years early in the 1970s because traffic was much higher than expected. We need to shift move of those trips to transit so we’re not polluting the atmosphere and ground and destroying cities with so much car concrete and parking lots and perpetuating inequality. To do that we need to install the high-capacity transit we should have built in the 1970s, and that cities the world over would have. That means we must build East Link, regardless of what you think the commute numbers are, and in spite of your fantasy that Link was only for peak-commute volumes in the pre-covid era. You can arguably say that about Everett and Tacoma, but not about Bellevue-Redmond. They’re within the area that should have rail in any case. Because of the size of the cities, and the number of all-day trips that implies. A disproportionate number of the trips are in cars because of insane US regulations and zoning, but that’s what we need to fix.

      2. East Link is interesting, because unlike the bus it is also separated from traffic.

        East Link will be as fast, or faster, than either the 545 or the 550, despite the fact that it makes all the stops that it does, not considering schedule inconsistency. And that’s before you consider the fact that Link also removes the need to find parking, which is the biggest Eastside gripe I hear about crossing the lake.

      3. Well, the 545 doesn’t stop anywhere near Husky Stadium, so I would not expect the Husky game to impact it’s ridership. Those going to the game would be taking the 542. I’m also on the way back now. A bit more people on board this time, with one stop to go before leaving downtown. Just like the freeways are busier at 3 PM than 10 AM, so are the buses.

        I think the combined ridership of the 545 and 550, plus some Redmond Bellevue trips, plus some additional people would will ride a service that comes every 10 minutes, but not every 30, will lead to decent ridership on the train. It won’t be crushloaded. But, it won’t be empty either.

  15. Link was standing room only Friday at 2:30pm from Capitol Hill to U-District. Either there was a game on or a lot of people are taking Link to afternoon activities.

    1. I will say that one obvious (to me) missed opportunity is running Link service 24/2 Friday and Saturday nights.

      I understand that there need to be maintenance windows at some point in time, but there is a quantifiably heavy amount of traffic entering and leaving Capitol Hill at that time.

      Heck, even just run some kind of night bus shuttle instead.

    1. Sounder isn’t electrified. There are diesel low-floor “Sprinter” trains which could, at least in theory, run on Link’s surface segments. But you REALLY don’t want diesel trains in a tunnel from IDS to 92nd……

      1. More thinking about an ST4, where I feel like actually making Sounder an all-day line would be the most obvious “regional” investment that’d reach all the counties.

      2. Sprinters would be perfect for that. But it absolutely requires double tracking the UP between East Tacoma and Black River Junction and paying UP for wheelage used by BNSF trains. There is no alternative; you can’t add frequent passenger service into a two-track rail-line and there are places where BNSF can’t be tripled without major damage to downtown Kent and/or Auburn.

    2. You’d need to electrify the tracks and BNSF in their infinite wisdom HATES electrification to their tracks. The only reason we have CalTrain electrification happening is that CalTrains owns the tracks and can do whatever they want with them.

      1. Does electrification mean adding overhead wires? I assume self-powered trains could continue running below them. BNSF’s business model is low-price commodity freight, so it wouldn’t want to wire hundreds of rural miles and not recoup that from its clients.

      2. Zach, you would need to electrify BNSF only if you planned to run the trains through the Link tunnel. Diesel low-floor “Sprinter” trains could run with no changes to anything.

        Mike, yes, electrification means “overhead wires”. You will never, ever in the Twenty-first Century get third rail power outside of a tunnel, an elevated structure or a rigorously fenced right of way with no grade crossings. That does not describe the BNSF trackage in any way.

        And “yes”, self-powered trains can certainly continue to run below them, but overhead limits how high those trains can be — think “double-stacks” — and greatly increases the hazard when there is a crack-up and equipment needs to be removed from the right of way. The overhead at a minimum has to be de-energized for a section, widening the impact of the wreck, and cranes to lift the damaged equipment must be very careful of the overhead.

        That’s why no Class I freight railroad likes electrification.

      3. Double stack electrification is possible, today. In fact, here’s CSX running normal double-stack cars under SEPTA electrification: http://testplant.blogspot.com/2013/09/electrification-clearance-for-double.html

        If needs must, we now have battery locos and MUs that can charge in motion in electrified territory. Stadler makes a bunch of units like this.

        You can even have tunnels built for diesel trains. You just need to build in an adequate ventilation system, but that isn’t wildly different compared to a road tunnel which has similar requirements due to ICE cars.

        But yes, I was thinking that the logical version of an ST4 would require some kind of GO-Transit type project where we end up with a publicly owned pair of tracks.

        It’d be nice if the state thought about setting up a state rail authority like how Virginia has done. They’ve gone and purchased freight ROWs as well.

      4. Henry, yes, they can, but railroads do not like it at all. Since the Reading was already electrified (by SEPTA), and CSX has no other way into and through Philadelphia, they live with it. BNSF has made it clear that the Seattle-Tacoma main will not be electrified.

      5. Henry, also, your original post implied using Link trackage for “tram-trains”. There’s nowhere except the downtown to Northgate tunnel where that would make sense, and that tunnel is emphatically not designed for diesel vehicles and probably can’t be retro-fitted.

  16. I don’t know if this is happening to anyone else but, a few operators are telling me that the stop I use to get home from the grocery store may no longer be used. Metro isn’t getting rid of the stop. Operators are just considering refusing to stop there. The crime problem is the reason.

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