Sound Transit releases

WSBLE study results and new options (for the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extension). Public input until February 17.

ST2 Link openings scheduling. Staff are exploring the possibility of opening the East Link starter line without delaying Lynnwood Link’s opening, a partial ST Express restructure with the starter line (no specific routes yet), and a “Federal Way starter line” (opening Kent-Des Moines before Federal Way).

ST is seeking volunteers for its North King Community Oversight Panel. Seattle is seeking volunteers for its Move Seattle Levy Oversight panel.


Why it’s hard to build good and inexpensive transit in the US. Two people asked me to post this RMTransit video about what drives quality down and costs up in projects that are built. Link is the first example at 1:47. “Seattle’s experience with Link Light Rail that has the costs of a subway system but the capacity and service quality of a light rail system should be instructive here.” He says an automated system with smaller trains and higher frequency could have cost less, had higher reliability and better service, and attracted more riders. He goes on to list other US transit systems and issues. I hear a lot of diagnosing problems but not many concrete solutions, so that leaves me at a loss with what to do. Maybe I’m not understanding the video.

American cities with a combination of higher walkability and lower rents. (CityNerd)

Urban gondolas around the world. (RMTransit) The recent wave started with Mendellín’s metrocable in 2004. Reece discusses which situations gondolas work well in.

Other News

Metro’s Lynnwood Link restructure open house registration. Scroll down to “Community Engagement”. Dates are February 4 and 27.

Seattle Comprehensive Plan virtual open house January 30.

Free transit passes are now available for Seattle low-income housing residents ($) and Climate Pledge Arena events ($).

Bus Doggy Doggs in Alaska ($).

The Federal Transportation Administration has a new grant fund for equity transit projects ($).

Amtrak Cascades has a survey for its long-range plan update. (Urbanist)

SDOT pats itself on the back for its best accomplishments in 2022.

RapidRide G (Madison) construction is 40% complete.

This is an open thread.

150 Replies to “News Roundup: Lots of Things”

  1. It still floors me that the best thing ST could do for transferring riders is to have a same direction cross platform transfer at SODO. It’s such an obvious system improvement. Do these people just not ride on other systems around the world?

  2. > WSBLE study results and new options (for the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extension). Public input until February 17.

    I am heavily concerned that a lot of these options are adding on additional cost +100 million here or +200 million there to mitigate construction impacts. If you add them all up it’s going to be yet another couple billion added. They really should have investigated actual ways to save money not to spend even more. If this starts to go down the path of Honolulu’s rail transit or San Jose’s ever deeper and larger BART tunnels Sound Transit will run out of money and delay/cut/cancel stations and lines.

    For example spend an additional 200 million to avoid streetcar closures? Except if you think about the entire streetcar project has only spent that much and you could use that money to practically fund the entire center city connector.

    Shifting the Seattle Center station west to mitigate construction impacts to the Seattle Center area for an additional 60 million? This is essentially making the station less useful at a higher cost.

    They need to be looking into drastically more measures to save money and get it back on track by looking into options that are politically harder but much cheaper. For Ballard they should look into elevated with a draw bridge if they are placing the station on 14th/15th anyways. For the stations of SLU/Downtown/Midtown they seriously need to consider making them much shallower both for rider experience and for much faster and cheaper construction. The station boxes should be built on the street itself — these super deep tunnels trying to keep the car lanes open really are ballooning the cost.

    1. “For Ballard they should look into elevated with a draw bridge if they are placing the station on 14th/15th anyways”

      I thought the Port of Seattle said nope to a bridge, or it has to be as high as the Golden Gate– which is why a tunnel and the bridge costs almost the same.

      (I always supported Ballard to UW because going over the ship canal was always going to be a pain).

      1. No the Port of Seattle said no to a fixed bridge at lower heights and demanded such a high height for a fixed bridge. For a draw bridge there are no such requirements.

        > “Potential revised bridge concepts could possibly include moveable bridges or higher fixed-height bridges,” said Sound Transit public information officer, Rachel Cunningham in an email to My Ballard.

        For Ballard to UW line, while I do heavily like the idea, I honestly don’t think there’s enough ridership in Wallingford to really make up for digging a deep tunnel for it. If it was politically feasible I’d say dig a cut-and-cover tunnel but that is not very easy. Or if 45th street were wider I’d say build an elevated alignment. Alternatively build a streetcar along the waterfront via Leary Way as was the older plans.

      2. The scoping for the high bridge over the Ship Canal also identified major risks stemming from uncertainties around putting new bridge piers in the waterways. Besides, real estate along 15th (or even 14th) Ave NW is only getting more expensive, and the aerial alternative requires major land grabs. I’d love for the ride to be above-ground from Ballard, since the views of the Olympics can be stunning, but if it’s the same price to go underground, the choice is obvious.

  3. If that was the rationale to reach more residents or if it was a small expense I wouldn’t be against it. But these are large expenses that are quickly adding up and their rationale was to move it farther away from destinations people want to reach. The project is already overbudget and rather than research ways to save money they have looked into even more ways to spend money before the project has even started.

  4. I actually think moving the Seattle Center station further west on Republican is a great idea. It allows more convenient access to the 3rd Ave W pedestrian bridge to the waterfront and Olympic Sculpture Park as well as the significant number of office buildings and labs on Western Ave. It also provides more convenient access to those living on the southern slope of West QA which has significantly dense housing along Olympic/10th, Roy and Republican. We also don’t disrupt a main arterial for people to get to Ballard and Magnolia with endless construction on Mercer.

    We have the Monorail for inside the Seattle Center.

    1. Two ways to think about the monorail – is it just a last-mile connect between the Seattle Center & Westlake station, or is it a part of the network. If there is a monorail Belltown infill station as proposed (but not yet funded), I think the Link-monorail transfer in QA becomes more important as a way to connect Belltown to Ballard/Interbay. But you do make a good point that if we view monorail as the primary way to connect Link to the Seattle Center, then can the QA station focus on other parts of QA (while still being useful when there are major events and people are generally willing to walk longer to catch a train)

  5. I took the Amtrak Cascades survey the Urbanist linked to. One of the questions was what keeps you from using Amtrak Cascades more often? I mentioned that Flixbus goes to both Vancouver B.C. and Portland, takes about the same time, and costs much less. It’s a no brainer, I usually go with Flixbus.

    1. plus with Flixbus, you don’t have to ride with the riff-raff from Edmonds (or Camano Island for that matter) when going to Vancouver BC.

      However, Amtrak has 4 direct buses (non-stop until the border) between King Street Station and Vancouver BC, for a few dollars more ($45 – Amtrak; $38 + $3.99 fee for Flixbus), and it’s about 30 minutes quicker.

      Amtrak Cascades isn’t targeting the bus-crowd.

      Although I think they should be targeting the hockey-fans with a midday Vancouver BC-Seattle train. But, what do I know?

      1. @Jim ever heard of “The Jet” bus? Check it out. It’s a first class motorcoach that recently began service DC-NY. If that operated between Seattle and Vancouver, I’d probably choose them over Amtrak.

      2. Jim, I haven’t taken the Amtrak bus to Vancouver BC yet but I will keep that in mind. I definitely notice the difference between the Amtrak Cascades vs Flixbus crowd. Amtrak Cascades is an older more homogenous demographic, whereas Flixbus is younger and multicultural. There’s the student crowd since the Bellingham stop is at Western Washington University and UBC students take Flixbus as well. Then throw in European travelers who use the service. I assume it’s because they’re familiar with the brand from budget travel around Europe. Fun fact – in Europe they also have FlixTrain!

    2. @SLUer thanks for the heads up about the survey. I just completed mine. I answered “lack of frequency” prevents me from using Amtrak.

    3. I went to Vancouver monthly in the late 90s and early 00s and did multiple trips to California and the East Coast and to Atlanta on Greyhound because it was less expensive than Amtrak, and it had a good Vancouver schedule. (I could take it Friday after work, spend Friday and Saturday night in Vancouver, and come back Sunday morning.)

      But around 2006 I switched to Amtrak because I decided I’d rather pay a bit more for a better experience and more room. I use it for my West Coast and Chicago trips; I haven’t taken it further than that. Now I only take Greyhound to places Amtrak doesn’t go or the schedule is unacceptable. (Like Spokane, where Amtrak arrives and departs at midnight.) I haven’t tried Flixbus or the others.

      “with Flixbus, you don’t have to ride with the riff-raff from Edmonds (or Camano Island for that matter) ”

      What riff-raff? The people I’ve met from there are ordinary suburban people. Or do you just mean it runs nonstop?

      “Amtrak Cascades isn’t targeting the bus-crowd.”

      It’s designed for tourists. People add it on to a flight or cruise. Travel agents have flight+Cascades packages, and it partnered with Alaska Airlines.

      1. Mike, if you haven’t been to Vancouver lately I recommend you go soon. Get yourself a Compass Card and ride all over on the Skytrain network. Take the Seabus to North Vancouver and back, and even ride the West Coast Express for a stop or 2 and return to the city on Skytrain. The Millenium Line through Burnaby is quite the experience as it makes its way through massive residential high-rises on either side. The regular bus is fun as well. All the lines run so frequently you don’t even need a schedule. It’s so worth checking out!

      2. @Mike ..I wouldn’t say The Cascades is designed for tourists. Yes, tourists use it – especially during the summer. But I’d say The Cascades is primarily used by recreational travelers who are reside locally.

      3. “What riff-raff? The people I’ve met from there are ordinary suburban people.”
        It all depends on your tolerance for the “Privileged Class” ;-)

        ” Or do you just mean it runs nonstop?”
        That’s one of the things with these bus services, they don’t want to diverge from the basic freeway envelope, which is why it isn’t included even in the King St. Station to Bellingham buses that are branded “Cascades” services by Amtrak/WSDOT.

        Ignoring the ‘value’ of the Stanwood stop, it’s obvious Edmonds is a transportation hub.

        Edmonds waterfront has a lot of potential, it just never seems to get enough coordinated connections. I’m hoping post-covid enhancements in transit/ferry/long-distance services will correct that.

      4. @Jordan Cascade’s features are designed to attract tourists. Greyhound is more of a least-common-denominator point A to point B service. That’s reflected in the average of their clientele. College students and backpackers take both, but businesspeople and higher-class/older tourists are more common on Amtrak. Lower-income people, loud people, and truck drivers traveling to/from a job are more common on Greyhound.

        (I didn’t realize so many truckers rode Greyhound until I met them; they had short-term jobs several states away from where they lived. I also learned that driving a bus vs driving a truck is not that different, and some drivers had done both, so the truckers were in some sense having one of their own drive them home from a job.)

    4. I don’t take Amtrak, because there isn’t a stop anywhere near me, it is too expensive, it is slower than driving, and I already have incurred the cost of car ownership due to needing to get to and from work in a region (North America) that has, overall, lousy public transit.

  6. Fascinating idea ST is exploring: Repurposing Union Station for Link transfers. I’m not sure if this has been pitched before but I thought about the same thing when choosing a station location for ID became a hot issue. Union Station SHOULD be used to accommodate station placement as much as possible.

    A visual concept of the idea is in slide #16 of the WSBLE presentation.

    1. I really like it, especially since Union Station is such a beautiful station and has a large great hall much like Grand Central in NYC.

      Also, in conjunction with this, I am really glad to see that they are considering making the 4th Avenue station much shallower than what was previously proposed. Let’s hope that they actually do this and that they can find a way to keep a few lanes of 4th Avenue open, since it has quite a few buses running on that street. Another benefit I can see from this is that the Midtown and Westlake stations can be less deep underground if the CID station isn’t as deep.

      1. Adding onto my previous comment, I saw that someone on Twitter recently posted this interesting presentation from Sound Transit regarding the 4th Avenue station option:

        The design changes can be seen on slides 10-12, and on slide 12 there are section views. These are pretty interesting as they show that the station is being made shallower and has the mezzanine directly underneath 4th Avenue rather than several floors below 4th Avenue like the original Shallow 4th Avenue option that was in the DEIS. Also, it shows another section view located where the new tunnel will cross the existing DSTT, and instead of having it bored underneath the DSTT as was originally planned, it looks like it would be built cut-and-cover underneath 4th Avenue.

        It’s certainly an intriguing idea, and I really hope they explore it further. Let’s hope that something like this won’t succumb to concerns about impacting traffic on 4th Avenue. I want to be optimistic about this, but the presentation was dated from November, and I haven’t heard anything about this until I saw this Twitter post a couple days ago. (

    2. If it were me, I’d look at leasing the interior of the station to the people that run the International District Night Market and see if it can be made a permanent retail fixture in the station. It might help make the structure pay for itself and help bring a bit of prosperity to the area. It’s a huge, beautiful space currently not used for anything, and if a Link line is in the basement then so much the better,

  7. Calling an early opening of an extension on the 1 Line a “starter line” … Um, no.

  8. Lots of great things to see as staff/board continue to think through project sequencing.

    – Don’t impact Lynnwood Link opening date because of the East Link issues
    – think “creative” (slide 9) on how to manage the Lynnwood crowds before able to double frequency.
    – Run the starter-line at good enough frequencies to make it useful. Starter line is for short trips, so all day frequency is key.
    – Think about tweaking bus routes around the starter-line but don’t over do it
    – Explore “FW starter line” so KDM station isn’t penalized for the long-span bridge issue.

    1. @AJ,

      What presentation are you referencing? Terminology sounds a bit like an overlay plan on the Westside to get Lynnwood Link open when ready.

      1. Yeah it was unclear to me if ‘creative’ was to run an overlay operating pattern to improve peak frequency, ask KCM/CT to funnel less riders into Link until it is able to connect to OMF-E, or something else entirely.

        I think the only thing staff has ruled out is non-revenue service across I90 to store trains at OMF-E but run them in service on the west side.

      2. @AJ,

        The problem (although it really isn’t a “problem” per say) with Lynwood Link is that it will be the popular option as soon as it opens. Yes, you *could* delay the bus restructures and try to starve Lynnwood Link of some ridership demand, but this is unlikely to produce much of an effect.

        Why? Because this is a commute type route, and many of the current bus riders are already using other means to intercept their buses. These commuters will simply adjust the first part of their commute to intercept Lynnwood Link instead of the bus.

        Case in point, CT. Last I saw CT still ran a bus from LTC to DT Seattle. You could delay the CT restructure and run this bus parallel to Lynnwood Link service, but the average commuter boarding the bus at LTC is likely to just board Link instead.

        And of course delaying the CT restructure wouldn’t help CT either. In fact it would probably hurt CT as at least some of their Seattle bound ridership base jumps to Link instead. That has budgetary implications.

        Na, the goal should be to open Lynnwood Link when ready and with both restructures. If a way can be found to do that, then so much the better.

        I like the overlay idea with overlay revenue service IDS to NGS and 1-Link service LTC to Angle Lake. Hopefully it works.

        More analysis required.

  9. San Francisco, Boston, NY, Washington D.C. and Seattle were top scorers for walkability but disqualified based on costs of rent (capped at $2000/mo. for a 2 bedroom). In fact most of the most walkable cities were cut based on rent prices. I just don’t see the walkability for Seattle but it doesn’t look like retail vibrancy was a factor as much as how many walk to work.

    Walkability also could be just a neighborhood (which would qualify areas of LA except for cost) and not the downtown core. For this narrator cost was the major issue. Safety also wasn’t a factor.

    Top scoring cities seemed to me to be older but declining cities maybe designed before the car influenced city design so rents are lower. St. Louis, Buffalo, Madison WI (college town), Newark NJ,, Chicago but not in the city, mostly east of the Mississippi.

    1. There are two ways to have low rents: build enough housing to keep up with population growth, or have a population that’s stable or falling. Few US cities do the first, so the second is more predominant. Luckily the US has some cities that were built up before the automobile era so they’re walkable and some still have streetcar or trains. Population loss has kept them affordable. They’re mostly in the Rust Belt so they’re cold. They also don’t have a lot of job opportunities, so it can be hard to support yourself there unless you’re financially independent or have a do-anywhere job.

      Seattle’s walkability, come on. U-District, Capitol Hill, Ballard, Greenwood, Fremont, West Seattle Junction area, Uptown, Belltown, downtown, First Hill, Pioneer Square, Little Saigon, Rainier Valley. In all of them you can meet many of your needs on foot, and some have additional entertainment or recreational options.

      Chicago is bifurcated. The south side is losing population and has a lot of shootings. The north side is gaining population and is a successful walkable area that attracts “back to the city” people.

      He acknowledged there’s a lot of criteria that make it complicated to rank cities. Data sources are limited, do you count cities with only a few walkable neighborhoods?, and he included some personal factors. He was looking for a place to live, not visit, so “retail vibrancy” was less important than having the shops you need. The boutiques don’t do me any good because I don’t buy those things, but I want a place with some good grocery stores, library, gym, hardware store, park, frequent transit, etc, within walking distance.

      1. What struck me in the video was the top 10 cities — including Baltimore and Rochester — are affordable for a reason:: they are not attractive places to live for many reasons so population is declining so rents are lower (excluding Madison which is a college town).

        Walkability in the top cities w/o consideration of rent is a byproduct of the city’s other attractions. I could list dozens of cities with high rent prices that are not very walkable.

        The Wall St. Journal recently reported on a huge migration shift in this country from north to south. Weather (many of the video’s walkable cities have unwalkable weather), cost of living, jobs, safety (Baltimore) are all factors more important than walkabikity, especially if you have kids.

        Rents are high in attractive cities because people want to live there with high AMI’s, businesses want to be there, and housing always lags population growth, and declines which is why the top cities in the video have lower rents. Is anyone really going to move to any of these cities for walkability when safety, retail vibrancy and weather.are not factors in walkability ?

        What this video really measured was density and low rents because once a lot more people lived in these older cities.

      2. DT, I’ve visited many of these cities and frankly they are physically attractive although the weather is less than ideal.

        I’d say that they are generally economically unattractive, although they all have types of employment that a working adult can do.

        I’ll note that DC to Baltimore (downtowns) is the same distance as Lakewood to Seattle (downtowns).

      3. “What struck me in the video was the top 10 cities — including Baltimore and Rochester — are affordable for a reason:: they are not attractive places to live”

        That’s because American society caters to the top 10% instead of everybody. Inequality and poverty are treated as inevitable when they’re not. Why should people have to choose between attractive and walkable and affordable? We should make everywhere all three.

    2. I think you are referring to the CityNerd video:

      While I enjoy and admire Ray’s willingness to present quantitative analysis in his videos, I think it’s important to mention that there can be more to housing affordability than merely rent. Utility costs in Florida can be hundreds of dollars every month while in Seattle it’s remarkably modest. Saving $500 in rent only to pay $500 more in A/C electricity each month changes the cost to a renter.

  10. Re: RMTransit’s critique of Link

    His main criticism is the 10 min frequency, which I vehemently agree with. Given that we used to enjoy 6 -7 min frequency at peak, 10 min does suck, particularly since peak trains are actually pretty full. I think once we get our rail fleet fully in operation (gen 2 fleet + rehabbed gen 1 fleet) and once East link trains are running, we’ll have better frequency through the core.

    Reliability is the other criticism, and I also agree this is a problem. A big chunk of the reliability problems are with Rainier Valley (surface segment), which currently tend to affect the entire system. Once again East Link will help keep things moving through the core when there are issues in RV. Also, we’re starting to see wear and tear in the system cause reliability problems (cracked rails, issues with gen 1 fleet).

    In short, I think East Link and expanding the fleet will improve capacity and reliability through the core (ID Northgate), but we still need to figure out short and long-term solution to fix the RV segment.

    1. “In short, I think East Link and expanding the fleet will improve capacity and reliability through the core (ID Northgate), but we still need to figure out short and long-term solution to fix the RV segment.”
      They honestly need to bury or elevate the line at this point in the long term of whenever they decide to build Graham Street. Short term might be traffic calming the area.

      1. Or bury Link through the RV like ST did from UW to Roosevelt that has way less density and “equity” instead of building WSBLE. .

      2. “Or bury Link through the RV like ST did from UW to Roosevelt that has way less density and “equity” instead of building WSBLE. .”
        8,255 per square mile in RV and a very diverse neighborhood in terms of race and income. So no, you’re very wrong about this.

      3. Zach you misread my
        post. I wrote the RV is denser and more diverse than the stretch from UW to Northgate. Did you really think I was proposing burying Link in the RV because it is less dense and less diverse than Roosevelt?

      4. Sorry, your comment was a touch confusing as i wasn’t sure what you meant. Thanks for clarifying.

    2. “His main criticism is the 10 min frequency, which I vehemently agree with.”

      That critique was a little inaccurate; I put it down to an outsider’s limited knowledge. That always happens with transit systems, cities, everything. Link has 8-minute peaks, and it has had 6-minute peaks in the past. There’s no technical reason Link can’t run every 6 minutes all day; it just requires a board decision. Lines 1 and 2 combined will run every 3-5 minutes.

      However, he’s right that light rail technology limits capacity, and ST has chosen options that limit it further. Open gangways would allow 20% more capacity. MAX has some train ends without a driver cabin, and it fits 6 more seats in a U-shape, with room for a few standees in the middle. Link’s specs are 55 mph. Similar light rails are often 65 mph and maybe up to 80 or 85. You just have to order heavier-duty trains and make the track curves and inclines more gradual. Since Link was intended to go thirty miles out to Everett and Tacoma, it should have higher-speed trains. Drivers looking up at the elevated train should see it going faster than cars, not slower. Sound Transit ignored or didn’t research these issues. In the run-up to U-Link and ST3 we asked ST in multiple rounds of feedback to order open-gangway trains but it didn’t. At a board meeting one boardmember said they’d look into seeing if they can retrofit higher higher speeds into the Rainier Beach-TIB segment but I never heard anything more about that.

      When ST compares the cost of surface, elevated, and underground, it adds up the construction costs and real-estate acquisition. It should also include the cost of people killed in surface-train collisions, and of halting service for hours after those and running into cars crossing the tracks. There’s not just the human cost and family expenses, but the other passengers’ time, and the economic cost of them missing a flight or meeting because of the outage. None of this would happen if the track were elevated or in a trench or tunnel.

      1. Yeah the RV segment should be properly understood as a branch, not the trunk line. 8 minute headways on a branch outside of the urban core seems reasonable compared to global benchmarks. Criticizing the frequency in the core before East Link is complete is missing that the core system is not yet complete.

    3. I see two conceptual solutions:

      1. The first is to add a Duwamish Bypass and add a new line number (5 Line). 1 Line will stop 19 times between CID and TD. The trains will be very crowded under Beacon Hill and very empty south of South Federal Way. It’s a huge service imbalance and it will take as long to get from South FW to TD (20 minutes) as it does to go between RB and CID (19 minutes). By skipping the MLK segment, Link can then run higher frequency through Downtown (3 minutes). Transfers between 1 Line and 5 Line could be made at SeaTac or TIBS.

      2. The second is to change the elevation of the track or the street. New grade separated stations could even shift a block or two from the current ones. By closing half of MLK for a few blocks at a time (jogging traffic to a single lane on the other side of MLK), cut and cover construction seems straightforward — and wider station areas can be moved a block or two from the existing station sites.

      The pedestrian safety issue needs to be addressed regardless of the solution. MLK is extremely wide and that makes crossing MLK take lots of time. Transferring bus riders always have to cross MLK now.

      Of course, ST has no plans to even study solutions. Thus, it’s hard to know which one works better. We are left to speculate.

    4. Complaining about reliability and then pointing out that we are incurring subway cost levels is a Catch-22. The cost effectiveness of light rail is at-grade operations, like in RV and Bel-Red. Necessarily at-grade intersection crossing are less reliable. If you want the reliability of a subway/elevated network, then you incur subway/elevated costs.

      I’m not sure anything needs to be ‘fixed’ in the RV. It is working as intended – cheaper but slower and less reliable than an elevated line. We could build something better, which would cost more, but then we’ve built something different.

      1. “I’m not sure anything needs to be ‘fixed’ in the RV. It is working as intended – cheaper but slower and less reliable than an elevated line.”

        In other words, its intention is wrong. Transit should have a high level of quality and convenience. We can’t change the past, and we have higher-priority transit needs to address first before fixing Rainier Valley, but ST should at least acknowledge its importance and make it a long-term goal, and show how it’s balancing it with other capital needs.

      2. Mike, you just posted the same thing AJ posted: RV has crummy surface routing as intended but there are higher priorities than fixing this critical bottleneck in Line 1 (and of course if you live north of CID you will get double frequency without bottlenecks when East Link opens even that work commuter is gone).

        AJ is correct: Link through the RV is operating as intended: cheaper, slower, less reliable, more dangerous surface rail through a marginal neighborhood so ST can tunnel north of CID because there are higher transit priorities than the RV and always will be.

        To argue the “intent” is wrong but actually fixing it is the lowest priority IS, as AJ posts, the intent.

        Now if white businessmen actually took Link from the airport to the new $2 billion convention center and were delayed, well that would be entirely different.

        “Equity” in Seattle is so phony. If there is an unfair mistake that creates a gross inequity in service in public services between brown/poor and white/wealthy areas and it is never fixed because there are always “higher priorities” that is the intent. Accept it.

      3. “RV is operating as intended: cheaper, slower, less reliable, more dangerous surface rail through a marginal neighborhood so ST can tunnel north of CID”

        Rainier Valley was designed in the 1990s. DSTT2/Ballard is being designed twenty-five years later. There was no inkling of DSTT2 when Rainier Valley was designed: everything beyond the Spine would be decided after the Spine. Sound Transit’s original position was still in effect when Rainier Valley was design: tunnels and elevated were only justified if topography precluded surface or in downtown-like areas, like earlier American light rails had been (MAX, San Jose, San Diego). DSTT1 was already there. Extending the tunnel to 63rd was essential because of the hills and Ship Canal. Extending the tunnel to 95th proved to be cheaper than weaving up and down and around I-5’s foundations. By the time ST2 came around, ST had changed its position: now everything would be grade-separated. It was in ST2 until Bellevue begged for a tunnel and asked ST to economize in the Spring District and south Redmond. ST3 is all grade separated at this point. It’s not that Rainier Valley is brown and SLU is white: it’s that one is downtown and the other isn’t, and they’re built in different eras when different policies prevail. There was no deal to sacrifice Rainier Valley so that SLU would have a tunnel. There was no inkling of DSTT2 or SLU when Rainier Valley was built, and Ballard was an indefinite thing that would be decided after the Spine was finished if it ever was.

        The issues then are different than the issues now. Then ST’s overriding goal was to maximize surface to keep capital costs comparable to previous American light rails. There were no concrete plans beyond the Spine. Now we have to look at which areas were left out of the Spine and get transit to them, proportional to their size and density and distance from a Spine station. Getting Link into Ballard and West Seattle means serving the western half of the city, the way the Spine serves the eastern half. Getting 130th station is important because of the size and density and potential of Lake City and Bitter Lake. Rainier Valley has a 10-minute train faster than local buses. Other areas don’t, and some are a long way from a Link station. That’s what makes them higher priority now when we have the luxury to think of service beyond one corridor to Everett and Tacoma and Redmond. If Rainier Valley (or southeast Seattle as a whole) didn’t have Link yet, then it would be higher priority.

      4. Daniel, I don’t in principle have anything against grade separating light rail in the RV but would South King leaders support the extra funding / longer wait times required to complete it?

        Also the RV has been very disappointing in their track record of allowing any amount of TOD around a number of their key stations. Many station areas in the Rainier Valley have seen less development since 2009 than stations such as Roosevelt have seen since 2021.

        There are multiple neighborhoods in the city such as Ballard and SLU that have been more welcoming to allowing denser development and welcoming new neighborhoods than the rainier valley has.

        It’s interesting to me that you think it’s an equity problem that Sound Transit as of current is trying to get light rail to the denser, more populous, neighborhoods of the city that have been much more welcoming of new development even without having been connected by light rail of any kind and still won’t until the 2030’s. Maybe the RV should contemplate not sabotaging higher density development so they can keep their low density parking lots and gas stations right next to some of their key stations

      5. Sorry, allow? There’s been a whole ton of development all over Rainier Valley in the past twenty-five years. Rainier Valley is less desired by developers, residents, and businesses than central and northern Seattle: that’s why development is less. It’s also a smaller and less-commercial area. The most-desired area is around Columbia City, and it goes down the further south you go away from downtown. So development is spreading outward from Columbia City, and some other developments in North Rainier.

        The Mt Baker station area upzone is smaller than we’d like, and we’ve complained about that, but this blanket condemnation of the valley is inaccurate. Zoning between Mt Baker and Othello stations is fine. Rainier Beach Station area has gotten the least interest from developers, and the city has adopted a slow-upzone process there to minimize displacement of poor people in at least one part of the valley, and to allow it to attract a more sustaining commercial base for the lower-income community. That’s one small part of the valley, the least important because it’s the furthest from downtown, so that’s fine.

        It’s the city that controls zoning, so the city that says what’s allowed in the area. There aren’t a ton of landowners sitting on surface parking lots and one-story buildings like Wendy’s because they’re opposed to growth and want to keep it like the 1980s. It’s just that there’s limited demand by developers, so it’s proceeding one lot at a time and going more slowly than central or north Seattle.

      6. JJ, I don’t think building light rail, and grade separation, should depend on future zoning or density for these reasons:

        First, I don’t believe in the “build it and they will come” approach when light rail costs so much. That is how we got the spine: based on inflated ridership estimates, future population growth, and TOD along freeways. Link will never meet its 40% farebox recovery goal.

        Second, grade separation is about safety and reliable schedules, which is why in the “right” neighborhoods it is underground. I don’t see how either of those depend on density or zoning. We don’t build less safe freeways based on zoning. We have a 90-mile spine with one area that can disrupt the entire spine.

        Third, telling the one true equity area along Link they don’t get safe and grade separated light rail because they have not accepted a certain level of zoning when Roosevelt got 60 blocks of underground Link and is less dense is not a good look. Where is all this upzoning in West Seattle for WSBLE that will cost $20 billion if the preferred design is built?

        Fourth, as Mike notes, you confuse zoning and construction. In fact, the RV is denser than most of the rest of Link. Existing zoning from Everett to Tacoma probably could accommodate another 5 million residents if fully realized and built out without any zoning changes. The zoning is there, but builders are naturally more interested in the more expensive areas along Link (that are grade separated strangely enough), and want to wait to see all these new residents before building. The reality is the zoning in the RV is probably greater than 80% of the rest of Link, probably higher if you remove downtown Seattle. Have you seen the zoning at S. Bellevue or most of East Link?

        Fifth, many misunderstand a point Al S. — who actually lives in this area — has raised: ethnic groups often live in multi-generational housing, and so a SFH houses many people, which is why actual density in the RV is so high despite the number of SFH’s. (On MI average households for married couples is 3.1). White progressive urban transit advocates tend to live alone, without kids, and so think everyone lives alone.

        Sixth, zoning may increase the number of dwellings but often does not increase actual housing (number of bedrooms) or population density. Most of the zoning or upzoning along Link is quite mild: a four-plex replacing a four-bedroom house, each with their own kitchen, bathroom and living area. Our housing affordability crisis is really a crisis of living alone. What really determines housing density? Poverty, because poor people rarely live alone.

        Seventh, black residents of the RV are afraid upzoning will lead to gentrification and displace them, which the Affordable Housing Subcommittee FINALLY realizes is a huge issue. They were displaced from the Central District (before the $133 million RR G) due to gentrification, and surely as night follows day they are being displaced from Seattle as it extends south and each sf in new construction filled by white urban progressive transit advocates increases dramatically in cost compared to the housing it replaced, which is why S. King Co. has become such an equity zone.

        Eighth, and most importantly, if ST did not have the population density let alone zoning to come close to its ridership estimates Link was not a good investment, let alone non-grade separated. This idea you build Link along a freeway and upzone the worthless land next to the freeway and Link station and folks will move there so they can ride Link is going to turn out to be fantasy, especially on the eastside, and especially post pandemic.

        If all Link were at grade, and a lot not grade separated, your argument might make sense. But alas only communities of color and poor communities got crummy Link, while according to your paradigm all the rest of Link including north of Sodo and East Link will have zoning and density greater than the RV, which is not true. And of course, West Seattle to Ballard will be all underground, not because the communities are white and relatively wealthy but because “of their zoning”.

        Black communities use a much simpler and honest approach, not unlike a little brother or sister uses: did their community get the same treatment as the wealthy white communities. When it comes to Link the answer is obviously no, although white urban progressive transit advocates hate to think they may be racist like they think their suburban brethren are.

      7. So much to unpack and so little time.

        And of course, West Seattle to Ballard will be all underground, not because the communities are white and relatively wealthy but because “of their zoning”.

        Blatantly false.

      8. Ah, Nathan, sarcasm and irony are lost on you. Of course the reason West Seattle and Ballard will be all underground has nothing to do with the zoning in either community, and will be because they are wealthy, white, privileged, entitled and whiny. Did you really think I was stating WS and Ballard would get a $20 billion underground Link because of their mild zoning? At least you got the “blatantly false” part right.

      9. Did you really think I was stating WS and Ballard would get a $20 billion underground Link because of their mild zoning?

        No, obviously. I think you routinely confuse self-postulated hyperbole with fact, and also use every logical fallacy in the book to routinely comment incoherent nonsense. I think you can and should do better.

      10. Nathan, are you agreeing that the RV and south Seattle should get at grade Link without grade separation because of their zoning? That was the discussion. I stated why I felt zoning should not determine whether Link is at grade or grade separated.

        Can you identify the differences in zoning between the route along Link through the RV and South Seattle and zoning in West Seattle, Ballard and Roosevelt that would support those Link lines all being underground while Link through the RV is at grade and in many areas not grade separated. Are you arguing density is greater in West Seattle, Ballard and Roosevelt than in the RV and south Seattle, and so those wealthier areas should get underground lines and stations?

        That was the issue you never addressed.

      11. A little history. The original plan was to build the line elevated in Rainier Valley, remarkably similar to what Ballard and West Seattle has planned. Residents objected, believing elevated rail to be a blight. Given the history of the community they felt like it would be the worst of Chicago. They pushed to have it underground, but Sound Transit balked, given the massive cost overruns at the time. Residents preferred surface over elevated, and Sound Transit was happy to oblige. So basically if they built it the way ST had originally intended, it would be remarkably similar to what Ballard and West Seattle is supposed to have.

        They didn’t just “take a lane”, though. They bought up the property (which pissed off some of the people). This pushed up costs, but it was probably still cheaper than elevated. They bought as little land as possible, which lead to weird lots when they sold it. This hampered development. This is covered here:

        Things have grown a little bit since that article, but not a lot. Part of the problem is that the community centers are to the east. Rainier Beach used to be relatively blighted, but has grown quite a bit. But that growth is around the center of the neighborhood (close to he high school) not by the station. But those weird lots didn’t help, either. There has been some development by the station, along with a fair amount close to Othello. Same with Columbia City, even though most of the growth is closer to the center of the Community (to the east). One issues is that in order to build, the old owners have to sell. This is the problem in Lake City. There is a lot of land that could be developed, but the family that owns all those car lots isn’t interested in selling. Then there is the whole ridiculous “design review” process — like throwing sand in the gears of a business that is actually trying to build homes for people to live.

      12. “reason West Seattle and Ballard will be all underground has nothing to do with the zoning in either community, and will be because they are wealthy, white, privileged, entitled and whiny”

        West Seattle and Ballard aren’t even underground yet and you guys are arguing about why it’s underground. The representative alignment is elevated. ST hasn’t chosen anything different yet: everything else is just alternatives. It will choose a preferred alignment for the EIS in the next month, and that may or may not be underground. Underground alignments would require third-party funding, and nobody in the last seven years has stepped up to fund them.

      13. The West Seattle preferred alternative is underground since they changed it to the “medium tunnel” last summer and they just released another set of proposals which would eliminate the Avalon Station in exchange for an even longer tunnel that would reduce displacements and save costs. The new proposed tunnel portal is at 32nd SW and Andover.

        I would be careful about calling people “wealthy, white, privileged, entitled and whiny”. Those generalizations only serve to isolate the transit advocates and urbanists from people who are generally sympathetic to their views. The light rail follows the path of least political resistance, and for that, the burden lies with the elected board members to make decisions that benefit the community as a whole.

  11. I hear a lot of diagnosing problems but not many concrete solutions, so that leaves me at a loss with what to do.

    Like he says, automate the trains. Saves you about $30/hr per train. It would have required eliminating the grade crossings, so while you save on signaling equipment, you spend on elevating or tunneling. Short term pain for long term gain.

    1. I’m all for 100% grade seperation and automation, but I think it’s gonna drag out way faster than the short term to actually implement those capital improvements.

      1. @BW,

        Here you are:

        The “Rapid” in “RapidRide” is just marketing fluff. There is nothing truly “Rapid” about it.

        I once got off a RR-D bus and walked ahead and caught the previous RR-D bus. So much for “Rapid”.

        But then again, I tend to be a “rapid” walker.

      2. RapidRide should really have been called “Frequent Ride”, since that is the main benefit. To be fair, it is a mix. Some routes are faster than others.

        Anyway, if you think the RapidRide G is similar to a typical RapidRide route, you haven’t been paying attention. That is like saying Tacoma Link is just like Central Link (e. g. the “T Line” is the same as the “1 Line). Sorry, no. Same basic equipment and branding, but very different in what they actually provide.

      3. Oh, and the G didn’t get delayed that much — I think it was the concrete strike and the pandemic. It is the J Line (Roosevelt) that has been a fiasco since the beginning. They probably should have just skipped RapidRide for now and focused on 40-style improvements and improving the bike paths. It is quite possible that travel along Westlake will be considerably faster well before we see any significant improvement along Eastlake.

      4. RapidRide A and the Shoreline part of the E have full BAT lanes; the others have it on only a few parts of the route if even that. The G is impressive with exclusive center lanes in the middle third and BAT lanes in the western third. I fear the H, I, and J will be unimpressive, because enhanced stations and a few intersections can only do so much to speed up the buses: there will still be no way to get to White Center in twenty minutes or Burien in 30. At the same time, the C, D, and E have repeatedly shown significant gains in ridership, within the top ten routes. So they’re doing something right. The guaranteed frequency evenings have made me more willing to go to those neighborhoods. So the most consistent thing among the RapidRide lines is frequent.

        Some bus agencies call their entire agency the X Rapid Transit District, even though the routes are anything but, and they’re less frequent than in Seattle.

      5. T-Link vs C-Link is spot on – they aren’t even the same rolling stock. RR-G will have different buses with different capability than the rest of RRs, even if they have the same color scheme. Except with RR the short urban route is better, while with Link the long suburban lines have better technology and ROW.

        Frequent Ride is clever and is probably more clear to the median rider … but don’t besmirch frequency. Better frequency IS more rapid travel.

  12. According to an article on the BBC violence on public transit is increasing across English speaking North America. One theory is the relative lack of effective social services here is creating increased stress among the entire lower income segment of the population.

    So, the whole “Seattle is dying” thing is really probably more of a “Reaganomics is dying” thing.

    1. You had an extra double quote at the end of the URL. You may have entered it as href=URL"" or href=""URL insttead of href="URL". I do that sometimes and then my link doesn’t work. I fixed the link above.

      1. Thanks.
        It was the second time this happened.
        As adding quotes on the iPhone is a somewhat annoying process involving switching to the numbers keyboard, it’s hard to see where the extra came from, unless the iPhone is adding that automatically now. I’ll watch to see what it does the next time.

      2. It is really easy to make a mistake. That’s why I often just write the URL, instead of making an anchor tag (link). The same goes for making things bold. The tags are easier, but if you do something like *this* it is similar, and if you mess it up, it is no big deal.

      3. I doubt you added an extra quote, you just pasted the URL outside the quotes. That’s what happens to me if I don’t double-check the tag. The text-to-HTML converter adds implied quotes around the entire URL, and it misinterprets one of your quotes as part of the URL.

    2. The past several years I’ve become convinced that inequality and poverty in American society causes stress in people at the short end of the stick, as they have to deal with all the crap their situation brings, and that leads them to become frustrated and angry, which then causes the behavioral problems that affect the rest of society. In other words, if we invest in all our citizens as Finland and Scandinavia do, with a decent social safety net and high-quality education, rather than throwing away the people at the bottom and blaming them for their predicament, then they wouldn’t be stressed and desperate, and the behavioral problems wouldn’t occur, and we’d all be better off.

      1. It’s not just a cause of them to become to become angry.

        It is well understood that constant stress causes a buildup of damaging hormones that among other things can lead to mental illness.

        By not having a good safety net system, we therefore guarantee a constant supply of troubled individuals that require far more expensive services than if we had a decent safety net.

      2. Except Glenn linked to a story about violence on public transit in Toronto increasing. Canada has a good social safety net and public schools.

      3. Toronto does, but they also have a cost of living crisis. Which exacerbates the problem further. It’s a similar story in Vancouver as well.

      4. It’s not just more expensive service for them. The rest of us suffer from crime on the streets, drug-addicted people around, people living in parks and on buses and in libraries because they have nowhere else to go, our country’s competitiveness because they’re not scientists or nurses, etc.

        Daniel keeps complaining about homeless people and criminals on 3rd Avenue and Pioneer Square. That exists because we don’t have a good social safety net. If we did, 99% of that wouldn’t be there, and it would be far easier to deal with the remaining 1%.

      5. “Except Glenn linked to a story about violence on public transit in Toronto increasing. Canada has a good social safety net and public schools.”

        It’s better than the US but not as good as Scandinavia. The pandemic also caused a lot of dislocations in people’s lives, and the rise in violence started then, so it seems to be caused by the pandemic, even if all the causal links aren’t obvious.

      6. Canada used to have a safety net. It’s been subjected to the same conservative attacks as those in the USA, often funded by US conservative groups. Homelessness in particular is a well documented problem.

      7. There’s also an association between mental well-being and population density. Mike keeps mentioning Finland. One thing he fails to mention is Finland has the lowest population density of any country in the European Union.

      8. So I guess rural areas in the US have no poor people, no housing-cost burdened people, no mental illness, because Sam has shown us that those problems are just side effects of density.

      9. On a more practical level in response to Glenn’s original linked story about violence on public transit, one thing I wish Metro and ST did is to have workers whose job it is be sort of transit ambassadors or customer service reps, who ride local trains and buses, answering questions, etc. Sort of like how the DSA has those workers in bright blue and green windbreakers all over downtown, who are called community safety & hospitality ambassadors. Something like that, but they don’t check fares. They purpose is to be a helpful, visible and reassuring presence on transit. They ride busy trains and buses downtown, and perhaps throughout the county, and maybe they also walk around some of the busier or more notorious transit centers and Link stations. If Metro and ST already have this type of worker, they need a lot more of them.

      10. Study conducted in Sweden.

        Interesting that one dense city is Copenhagen, and in a number of studies that city ranks pretty high in terms of population happiness (lack of depression).

        I can’t speak to Sweden, but one problem with density is that some cities provide a lot better outdoor access than others. Eg, Potsdam, Germany has a large number of parks and trails so that most of the population has a pretty easy walk to a publicly accessible forested area. London has a few nice, large parks, but for the amount of population in the city the access isn’t great.

        Meanwhile in Lacy, the farming areas north of I-5 are being developed as a tangle of massive industrial complexes with huge housing developments interweaves with them, so that the whole thing is a mass of traffic not allowing anyone to really walk anywhere, and there’s only several tiny parks. I guess they assume everyone will drive over to Olympic National Park or something if they want to get away from all the traffic noise.

        Anyway, it would be good to see a further study to see what happens in cities with density where that density is also utilized for giving people good access to those things they need to live well balanced lives. I suspect it looks like Copenhagen.

      11. In addition to Sam’s idea: those ambassadors should also send feedback into the system so people know what isn’t working about the system.

  13. Jeers to Sound Transit and/or SDOT for making the transfer from the 522 to Link less safe for people walking. The old 522 stop was Roosevelt and 65th, which had a traffic light and a crosswalk signal. The new stop is at Roosevelt and 66th, which doesn’t appear to have a crosswalk signal. And the bus stop is so close to the intersection that the bus itself blocks the line of sight between people crossing Roosevelt and southbound cars in the left lane. I fear it’s only a matter of time before a pedestrian is injured by a car speeding down Roosevelt not realizing people are crossing in front of the bus.

    (not to mention this also adds a 1-2 minute walk for each 522–>Link transfer)

    1. Dude. There is a signal at the north end of the platform that you just push to stop traffic. Then you can safely cross the street in the crosswalk to access the north entrance to the Link station.

      There is also a similar signal at the south end of the platform. Push the button and cross there and you will find a nice new SEA restaurant on 66th. A nice little diversion on your safe journey to either entrance of the Link station.

      Just push the button, But always look too. Because better safe than sorry.

    1. I haven’t gone that far in one trip, but we frequently take Empire Builder to/from WI (~44 hours) and occasionally Coast Starlight to/from LA (~36 hours). We did EB once in coach and that gets miserable after more than a day so definitely recommend a room if it’s in the budget. The cost is offset a bit since it includes meals, plus note that for a while Amtrak was only allowing sleepers into the dining car to reduce density during COVID. Cafe car food is better than nothing, but not by much unless you really like grease (Amtrak could run the locomotives on it in a pinch).

      Even if you’re delayed, you can still move around and there’s places where you can get off and stretch your legs for a bit. Hopefully soon they’ll bring back communal dining, which can be a good way to talk to people outside your common social circles/comfort zone.

      1. What I noticed in the photos is the view through the windows of how just big and open the U.S. is and watching that would be mesmerizing. I sent this link to my wife. We want to take a trip to NY and I am really interested in doing this one way.

    2. Taking a long distance Amtrak trip in a sleeper is an alternative to
      Driving – (about 2300miles (roughy $1,150 in mileage costs))
      Lodging – 2 nights… let’s just say around $200.00 for conversation’s sake
      Meals – maybe 6 meals which would be $180.00

      Since Montana is reasonably large (Big Sky Country, after all), I just guessed she was leaving from Whitefish to base the mileage costs on.

      $1500 for one person, Whitefish, MT to New York City.
      (and Where Ya Gonna Park The Car?)

      $800 sounds cheap compared to that option.

      If you want fast, …
      FLY !
      You’re only shoehorned into a cramped seat for a few hours.
      Cost-wise, probably cheaper, assuming you’re near a popular airport where the prices are competitive.

    3. I’ve only ridden coach but I have taken Amtrak to Chicago (48 hours) and San Jose (24 hours). When I last traveled in 2013 roomettes were $150-200 higher per night over coach seats. Now I’m getting anywhere from $163 (Seattle-Whitefish) to $440 (Seattle-San Jose), with Chicago ($617 for 2 nights) in between. The price was similar to a hotel night, although they’re now sometimes out of whack. The best deal is just before or after departure, when any empty roommettes revert to the lowest price. The price includes three meals, and the meals include salad/drink/dessert. Roommettes also have access to a sleeper-only lounge car with movies.

      In coach you get just a seat, but it has more room than a bus, more space for carry-on luggage, and an electric outlet, and it’s easier to sleep on.

      1. A few things have changed since 2013.

        Sadly, the Coast Starlight no longer has the ‘Parlor Car’.
        Which was the best part of that trip, if you ask me.

        The price of the rooms don’t change that dynamically (i.e. just before departure), but they’ve come up with and auction style way to grab rooms on the cheap. It’s called ‘Bid Up’ –

      2. Sad to hear about the demise of the Parlor Car. I took the Coast Starlight from LA-Seattle and one of the best perks of having a roomette was the wine and cheese tasting in the parlor car.

      3. Amtrak has a lot of Superliner sleeper cars out of service now, both for refurbishing (apparently they won’t look like they’re from the 80s anymore) and also for maintenance due to weather damage. Since they use demand-driven pricing, that pushes the price for the remaining rooms and roomettes up. Basically the only way to guarantee the lowest price is to buy 6+ months out; I’ve never used BidUp since I don’t want to risk being stuck in coach on Empire Builder for two days. I’d be OK doing that on the Coast Starlight since that’s only a day, though we don’t go to/from LA as often so hasn’t been an issue.

        One caution for this year is apparently Amtrak hasn’t always pulled the sleepers from their booking system before they’re removed from service, and there’s been people over on the Amtrak forums that have said they’ve been downgraded to coach with very little warning. Amtrak does that for people with more recent tickets first, so it’s another reason to buy early.

    4. Spaces get more expensive as they sell out.

      And they can sell out over any section of the line, just like coach seats. If a bunch of oil workers in North Dakota decide to go visit family in Chicago, it impacts the price for Spokane-Minneapolis prices.

      With Greyhound suffering from competition from Flixbus they’ve reduced a number of their services post-pandemic, so Amtrak may be seeing more traffic post-pandemic.

      1. I read somewhere that when the travel restrictions into the US were lifted, that the long-distance trains were sold out, and contributing a lot of revenue due to the pent-up demand for travel.

        All those retirees with their investment cash burning a hole in their pockets !

      2. Thanks Jim.

        One thing I learned from the article: that 750 mile state supported train limit was established based on the Carolinian. It’s 708 miles, and they wanted North Carolina to be forced to continue paying for that but didn’t want a bunch of other stuff cut if states couldn’t support their trains.

  14. An issue came up about whether the RR G will serve Broadmoor, The Madison Valley, and Madison Park.

    Here is a map of the RR G line.

    Here is a map of Broadmoor.

    I don’t know how many Broadmoor residents will use the RR G, and Broadmoor is admittedly large including the golf course, but it does appear from the map the RR G’s last stop along E. Madison is within walking distance of Broadmoor. Many of the other stops along the RR G will require a user to walk several blocks to get to a stop as well.

    Here is a map of Madison Park.

    Some areas of Madison Park are probably too far for some to walk to the terminal stop on the G (and many think Madison Park only includes the restaurants along the water), and Madison Park includes much of Broadmoor, but other parts of Madison Park look to me like they are within walking distance of the RR G.

    Even parts of Washington Park are within walking distance of the G.

    I also don’t understand why some think the RR G serves mostly distressed communities of color. For example, The Central District is 15% Black today, and anything west of 12th is not distressed or even communities of color. The eastern part of the RR G goes through some of the most exclusive parts of Seattle. In fact, Metro touts density, not distressed communities of color, as the purpose of the RR G, and every part of the RR G is gentrifying rapidly.

    Maybe if the RR G followed East Cherry or Jefferson an argument could made about equity but not E. Madison east of 15th. Maybe the G should add another stop farther east to serve the rest of the area although density falls off although “density” isn’t really all that great along the G anyway except the areas that have been upzoned and gentrified, and my guess is the RR G will add to the gentrification.

    1. Right. The G ends in Madison Valley, not Madison Park. Madison Park will be served by another bus (e. g. the 11). Except it won’t follow the current path of the 11. Where it goes remains a mystery. Some want it to take over the 8, and go to Uptown. Others want it to go downtown via Thomas/Olive/Pike-Pine (like the 10). I would send it to Uptown, as suggested here As for Broadmoor, no bus serves it. So far as I know, no bus has ever served it. I suppose you could (the guard could just wave the bus in) but it isn’t worth it. It is pretty rare (and pointless) to serve a gated community (not enough riders).

    2. I also don’t understand why some think the RR G serves mostly distressed communities of color.

      Who said that? Seriously, I can’t find a reference to that anywhere.

      The eastern part of the RR G goes through some of the most exclusive parts of Seattle.

      Um, no it doesn’t. The RR G ends at MLK. There are some nice places to live there, but I wouldn’t call it exclusive. Not cheap, sure, but that is true of most of the city (since we haven’t built enough housing for all the people to live).

      I’m not sure why you are suddenly a social justice warrior, but there are other considerations in that regard. First Hill is a major medical center. There are various public service offices all along that corridor. Many low income people work and go to school along the route as well. It may not be the focus of the bus line, but many low income people will benefit from this. How exactly they will benefit gets very complicated, but if ridership is really high, chances are, low income people are benefiting. Some may live in the neighborhood being served, while others use the RapidRide G for part of their journey. But they benefit either way.

    3. The RapidRide D project was originally outlined to 100th, the G to 23rd, and the J to 43rd. After the vote some members of the community — including some transit fans like myself — tried to get the D extended to Northgate, the G to Madison Park or Madison Valley, and the J to Northgate or 65th. Extensions were limited by the projects’ respective budgets. What we actually got was the D to 100th (no extension), the G to Madison Valley (partial extension), and the J to 43rd (no extension).

      The Madison Valley extension is to serve the densifying area in the valley. The valley has gotten a lot of apartment buildings and retail in the past fifteen years. In contrast, Madison Park fiercely resists growth. In the last comprehensive plan update, Madison Park and Magnolia were told if they didn’t accept upzoning they’d be low priority for transit improvements. So Madison Park is low priority, and the project budget couldn’t stretch to it anyway.

    4. “I also don’t understand why some think the RR G serves mostly distressed communities of color.”

      I’ve never heard that. The CD was majority black and lower-income thirty years ago, but that doesn’t apply now and didn’t when the G was planned. The purpose of the G is for transit best practices: to connect high-pedestrian downtown with high-pedestrian First Hill and the emerging valley density. First Hill is the major medical district, has had highrises for decades, and Madison Street on First Hill has gotten a ton of growth in the past decade. East-west transit is notoriously slow — the Seneca, Madison, and James routes are significantly slower than the Pine, Yesler, and Jackson routes, and get the worst congestion peak hours. RapidRide G is to address that and provide some fast service between downtown and First Hill and 23rd, and that was extended to the valley.

      Travel time estimates for RapidRide G are amazing: 5 minutes from 1st to Broadway, and 5 minutes from Broadway to MLK. That has never existed in east Seattle bus routes. It’s all because of the exclusive center lanes in the middle third of the route, and BAT lanes in the western third, and in-line stations. The existing 2, 3, 4, and 12 have none of that.

    5. The agencies’ and governments’ equity emphasis started in 2000 with the pandemic. RapidRide G was planned before that. Equity emphasis sometimes overrides other considerations now, but not always. Even if RapidRide G were planned now rather than in the early 2010s, it’s likely it would still be a priority.

      James/Jefferson Street is also a priority. Metro’s long-range plan and mid 2010s restructures envisioned an ultra-frequent route 3 (every 7.5 minutes), but never a RapidRide conversion.

      1. The federal government paid $80 million out of $133 million toward RR G so I guess that is a no brainer for Seattle. Plus east–west travel — by car or transit — is tough in Seattle, whether it is West Seattle to Beacon Hill, Madison Park to the Seattle waterfront, or UW to Ballard, or east to west on 85th.

        RR G was definitely sold in part based on “equity”:

        “Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan praised federal sponsors, who weren’t present, for their support and highlighted the importance of the project. “While Seattle builds the best transit and transportation infrastructure in the country, support from our federal partners has become even more critical,” she said. “Senator Murray, Secretary Buttigieg, and the federal delegation have prioritized projects that are good for Seattle, good for jobs, and good for transit. Senator Murray has been relentless in her support of this critical project and other City and regional priorities. As we deal with the effects of COVID-19, it is more important than ever to invest in a transportation system that gets our frontline workers, historically underserved communities and communities of color where they need to go quickly and reliably.”

        Granted I don’t see the “equity” or “color” in the route. Maybe if it actually ran along MLK and didn’t just terminate on MLK next to Broadmoor. Or Maybe Durkin was thinking of the past when I lived near this district growing up.

        Along with Al and Lazarus what I don’t understand is why RR G did not continue to Lake Washington. Madison Park has a lot of multi-family housing and a very vibrant restaurant area that would be attractive to affluent residents along this route from Capitol Hill to downtown Seattle. Why wouldn’t Metro and SDOT finally connect Lake Washington to Madison Park? Because Madison Park is not “equity” enough, although the walkshed of RR G will include (arguably) Broadmoor and Washington Park which are not equity zones IMO?

        I am always amazed at how much these projects cost, although as Ross notes the total bill often includes necessary utility and street maintenance the city shifts to the feds. But $133 million for some paint on buses and streets over existing streets sure seems like a lot. A lot of transit IMO is spending other people’s money so efficiency and value per dollar are often not prime considerations.

        It will be interesting to see how much ridership RR G gets. Al doesn’t think much, and post pandemic he might be right because there won’t be the riders going east to west to downtown Seattle. Madison Park like Ballard is very hard to get to. I live on the north end of MI, and just like someone in West Seattle I can get to just about anywhere in Seattle faster than someone in Madison Park or Ballard because of the excellent freeway system.

        Maybe RR is the future for Ballard rather than WSBLE, especially if the feds will pay for a big chunk of it, although based on the current House I don’t see that despite the infrastructure bill. For example, the Gov. of NY just announced a proposed payroll tax increase on NY employers despite employers fleeing NY to pay $1.3 billion toward MTA when I would have thought those costs would be covered by the federal infrastructure bill.

        If folks on this blog could have their choice but could only choose one would they spend the money on:

        1. RR G (including not reaching Lake Washington).

        2. RR from Ballard to Westlake.

        3. RR from Ballard to UW.

        4. RR along LCW.

        Because lets face it, like so much transit in this area the RR G and all of these proposals have very little to do with equity or communities of color despite Durkin’s claims, which of course is why LCW gets no bus service and RR G cost $133 million.

        Post pandemic and the decline of in office work in downtown Seattle I lean towards 3 or 4.

      2. “City, County, and even Federal Transit Administration (FTA) officials spoke at the event, emphasizing the route’s role in connecting the region’s growing transit system.”

        “The RapidRide G Line will open up access to a world of opportunities for thousands, without having to set foot in a car,” FTA administrator Nuria Fernandez said. “The line also reaches into historically underserved neighborhoods with an affordable, reliable transportation option, which creates more equity.”

      3. Actually DT I have advocated for RR-G to turn north and end at UW Link (Montlake) in several prior posts. That would have created a “medical” RapidRide with riders and two directional demand.

        Madison Park is quaint and has some apartments and “village retail” — but very few people go there outside of a mile or two unless they are dining at one of the tasty restaurants there. I see Broadmoor as only a few blocks of the corridor.

        I’ve chatted with lifelong Seattle residents who talk about how Madison Park area residents wanted the trolley wires removed in the 1950’s and 1960’s and that was accommodated by restructuring the route segment to have a diesel bus. Ironically, with no ETB, RR-G would face less opposition if it ran further to the lake’s edge. (Side note: Madison runs Sound to Lake — but not RR-G. Madison running all the way is not an argument for RR-G.)

        A census tract map of Seattle showing percent black pretty much demonstrated that the highest concentrations are in SE Seattle, Lake City and southern West Seattle. This corridor Is has much lower percentages if taken as a whole..

        The speeches are written that way because the northern edge was once bordering the district that was (illegally) racially zoned for blacks 80-100 years ago. If what a political figure says in a scripted speech was always true, Trump would still be President.

        Does anyone realistically expect a patron of Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, or 23rd/Jackson (Catfish Corner) to use RR-G? The only black institutions I see in the Madison corridor are two prominent mostly black churches (First ÂME and Mt Zion).

        Similarly the route skips the more low income serving hospital (Harborview) in favor of more elite ones (Swedish and Virginia Mason).

        My complaint about the project was also related to the vehicle technology related to the specific corridor itself. I feel that SDOT planned the route (this was SDOT’s idea and not Metro’s) as if it is relatively flat or with gentle hills rather than with the many blocks over 10% grades and a few well above 15% grades (19% max). Having ridden on this bus many times while standing, it’s downright scary! It’s not just on a slope — but on a very sleep slope! It’s really hard to step on or off at some stops. No adjustments to accommodate the steep grades seem to have been made. When the project was adopted the implication was it was to be ETB. It was too far down the project development line when the ugly truth (no US articulated bus available as ETB with doors on both sides, and wide gaps to allow double doors in both sides) became apparent. Add to this the need to hang on to something when standing, and the need to have wide clearances to board bicycles and wheelchairs (fewer nearby hand holds) on pretty steep grades is to me is a convergence of an awful and perhaps dangerous rider experience — because it’s terrifying now on a typical ETB!

        I’m not against left door buses and median stops per se. They could be powerful ways to upgrade Aurora or Rainier (as opposed to having curb bus lanes) for example. It’s the context that they are planned for use here that is my issue — a context based on my experiences riding buses on Madison!

        I feel that the money, time and energy creating this project should have gone into upgrading Routes 3/4. Yesler bridge over I-5 could have been used to skip James St congestion. The only silver lining to RR-G that I see is that this becomes a Guinea pig project with mistakes — so future similar projects can be done better.

      4. “Maybe RR is the future for Ballard rather than WSBLE”

        That’s the default fallback if WSBLE doesn’t happen. ST3 includes projects to upgrade RapidRide C and D, which were to be early deliverables in the interim before WSBLE was finished. That money still hasn’t been spent, and last I heard ST and Metro or SDOT were negotiating over the design of the upgrade.

        Getting Ballard on Link is important to lessen the travel-time overhead of getting into and out of Seattle’s fourth-largest urban village. But WSBLE has made so many mistakes it arguably doesn’t address that well, so what’s the point? The fallback is to improve the D, 40, and 44. SDOT is pursing route 40 street improvements anyway, and it has been adding queue jumps to the 44, so it hasn’t been sitting idle. So maybe Ballard’s future will not be as good as Link could have been, but not as bad as the status quo.

    6. Ugh. RapidRide G. I think it’s doomed to be an albatross.

      1. It wasn’t in any plans until 2012 Transit Master plan developed by SDOT (not Metro). It wasn’t mentioned in the 2007/8 plan at all. SDOT elevated it to #1 priority in a very subjective screening process.
      2. There are no level boarding stops near a Link station. Watch those wheelchairs roll!
      3. SDOT planners (not Metro) decided they wanted buses with doors on both sides to serve a few median stops. That means passenger areas without somewhere to hold as the bus goes up and down First Hill. This includes bicycles on the bus as the project requires them to be inside the bus. Yeah enjoy that bicyclist holding his bike while climbing a steep slope after searching for somewhere to hold both him and the bike.
      4. The obsession with a median operation and left door buses meant stops blocking Madison St so if an ambulance comes they have to risk going around the median in the opposite direction of traffic or wait for a bus to clear the station.
      5. Implications were that it would be electric trolley bus but now it’s battery electric. It’s unknown if the extra battery weight and heavier articulated bus can climb the hill. It’s still not been tested.
      6. When Metro proposed thé initial U-Link restructure, RR-G wasn’t part of it! It’s not an optimal choice. Yeah it’s also skipping the CD in favor of Madison Valley. Of course both areas have gentrified so much that few low income POC are left.
      7. Rather than turn it around at Third Ave it turns around on First Ave — the only flat place to board Downtown. The reason is to serve ferry riders mainly from Kitsap County and even then it’s still a two block walk.

      Did I miss anything?

      1. There is quite a lot of multifamily housing, public parks, and some businesses in Madison Park. Not going any further east than MLK seems odd.

      2. @Sam,

        You speak truth, although maybe not for the reason you reference.

        Madison is the only street in Seattle that runs uninterrupted from the saltwater of Puget Sound to the freshwater of Lake Washington.

        And it is essentially a diagonal street that cuts across the main street grid. Which means it is a time saver for anyone traveling along that corridor. Don’t believe me? Then revisit the Pythagorean theorem.

        So ya, having two, discontinuous bus routes service this corridor makes exactly zero sense. After spending all this time and money on RR-G, why not just have it go all the way.

        Salt to fresh, A one seat ride.

      3. The web page talks a lot about federal funding and years of construction, but it sounds like the only actual transit work is construction of 4 center platforms. The vast majority of the items on the City of Seattle list are sewer and storm water work (on a street that has already been paved for many years, so it’s not like RR G changes any of that), street repaving, bike lanes, public art, and pedestrian improvements. All fine work, but I’m not at all convinced all of that deserved to be covered by Small Starts program money.

      4. RR G was a smart grab of Federal cash to completely rebuild a major arterial in the city. It seems like a pretty common tactic to pay for major maintenance & reconstruction since the USA has either forgotten (or maybe just never learned) how to pay for fundamental major maintenance of core infrastructure. We only know how to build new stuff, not maintain what’s already here.

        Anyways, it’s a neat trick. “We want to run lots of very heavy buses on this street for this BRT route, so we need to rebuild the foundation of the roadway to support the buses. We definitely don’t need to rebuild it because of all the heavy trucks that already use the street. Oh look, that means we need to redo a bunch of private utility infrastructure that’s at the end of its reliable life – while we’re at it, might as well increase its capacity! And, we’ll also need to improve pedestrian infrastructure to make access to the BRT stations as good as can be… Aw darn, now it’s unaffordable for the city. Hey FTA: money please!”

        Not that I’m opposed to the city being smart about grabbing Federal grants – if this was a competitive applicant, then that just means that rejected New Starts applicants weren’t as clever about pitching their projects.

        PS: not going past MLK is probably exactly designed to prevent any notions of serving Broadmoor, since according to some, transit must Only Be For The Poors. However, once RR-G is running, it seems relatively trivial to extend it through to Madison Park. The layover loop is obvious – it wouldn’t have to do the full loop that the 11 does – just take a lap around the Park itself. The trick is convincing the residents there to give up their curbside parking along Madison from MLK to Lake Wash. shoreline.

      5. @Nathan — Yes, I’m sure that had a lot to do with it. The same thing happens with bike lanes. A simple set of bike lanes will suddenly cost a huge amount, as they tack on the cost of redoing the sewage system to the project. That kind of thing is common in government (e. g. people want extra money for adding bike lanes, but not maintaining the sewage system) but when you can get the federal government to chip in, all the better. To your point, if you look at the design sheets for this project (e. g. you can that they specifically mention storm drains, as if that has much relevance to transit.

        Not going past MLK is probably exactly designed to prevent any notions of serving Broadmoor, since according to some, transit must Only Be For The Poors.

        Not really. Apparently it was money related, but that isn’t the big problem. Ridership drops rapidly once you go east of MLK. Service on the G will be expensive, since the plan is to run buses every 6 minutes, all day long. It is fairly far from MLK to Madison Park — it doesn’t make sense to increase the service cost a lot for relatively few riders. Not only that, but the John/Thomas corridor becomes the Madison corridor, right where the G is supposed to end. The 8 has been around so long that we just take this very awkward turn for granted. It makes way more sense to just have the 8 keep going east, and end at Madison Park. That is a better match of ridership to frequency.

      6. To Al’s points:

        1. So what? Metro doesn’t always follow their long range plan. They also revise their plans. Things change.
        2. That is true of our entire system. Sometimes the stops are level, sometimes they aren’t. The idea that this project — which got federal approval, which means an extra level of scrutiny — is somehow not compliant with ADA regulations seems absurd. That would be a lawsuit waiting to happen.
        3. You are saying there won’t be hand holds on the bus? Sorry, but that’s silly — of course there will be hand holds. If you are trying to make the case that bikes shouldn’t be on the bus, join the club.
        4. As opposed to what happens today, when an ambulance is completely stopped in traffic. At least the bus lanes give the ambulance a passing lane — something that doesn’t exist now.
        5. Trolley would be ideal, but we run diesel/hybrid up the hill now, during special times called “the weekend”. Eventually the buses will run on wire (or at worst be battery powered).
        6. What? Light rail to the UW was a given long before there was any thought of a “Madison BRT”. Come on. Rail to the UW was inevitable after ST1 was passed (they should have started with it, but whatever). Oh, and it isn’t “skipping the CD” — it runs through the north end of it. You think Minor and Meany aren’t part of the C. D.? Please.
        7. You say that like it is a bad thing. Additional riders will be served by extending it to First. Lots of them will come from the ferry. Good.

        I can see why people balk at the cost, or quibble about some of the choices. But this is by far the closest thing to BRT ever built in this city. It will likely serve as a model for future projects, like converting the 3/4 to BRT. Not RapidRide, stuck-in-traffic-half-the-time, BS BRT, but something that actually resembles the speed, frequency and ridership found in systems around the world.

      7. “not going past MLK is probably exactly designed to prevent any notions of serving Broadmoor, since according to some, transit must Only Be For The Poors.”

        SDOT and Metro aren’t like that. The issue was the cost of an extension that wasn’t in the ballot measure and there wasn’t remaining money for in the budget.

        There are also other philosophical tradeoffs. In one of the 2010s restructures (I forget whether it was the C/D, E, recession cuts, U-Link, or more than one of them) SDOT proposed an all-Madison route from downtown to Madison Park. Metro didn’t like the idea and proposed instead to reroute the 49 to Madison (a Broadway-Madison route). So the agencies, transit fans, and public are divided on whether an all-Madison route is better or worse than different routes for eastern and central/western Madison. It has to do with the lower density in the east, the lack of non-office destinations in the west, and the lack of non-medical destinations on First HIll. In the end it got subsumed under the larger opposition to splitting the 2 and splitting the 12 (disconnecting 19th from Madison or deleting 19th altogether), so neither the 11 nor 12 nor 49 was modified.

        But RapidRide G will replace the 12; that’s certain. Whether the 19th tail will be attached to another route or disappear is unclear. And Metro has repeatedly tried to split the 2 in several restructures, and still intends to as of the 2020 long-range vision. It’s assumed that all this will happen in the G restructure. (The long-range vision replaces the 2, 11, and 49 with a Pine-12th-Union route and a UDistrict-Broadway-Beacon route.)

      8. If Madison Park were a a high scoring equity priority area, with same density as today, they would have run the G Line all the way to the lake. I’m not saying Madison Park not being an equity priority area was the only factor in the G not going there, but I believe it was certainly a factor.

      9. There is quite a lot of multifamily housing, public parks, and some businesses in Madison Park. Not going any further east than MLK seems odd.

        I mentioned this in the other comment. Madison Park is a worthy destination — it just isn’t as big as the rest of the corridor. To get to Madison Park would extend the line roughly 40%, but get maybe 10% more riders. That isn’t a good value from a service standpoint, let alone capital (it also increases the chance of delays).

        So ya, having two, discontinuous bus routes service this corridor makes exactly zero sense.

        I’m not sure what you are saying. The Denny/Thomas/John corridor will certainly have a bus. Let’s call that bus the 8. That corridor converges onto Madison. A bus will not keep going on John, as it is residential and steep ( That can be considered the end of the corridor, which means that it makes sense to end there. The nearest layover is only a couple blocks away, at MLK. Consider that the baseline. The G goes to Madison Park, and the 8 ends at MLK & Madison. Now just swap the tails. This has a better balance of service.

        There is another possibility for the 8, which is to turn abruptly on 23rd. The problem with that idea is that you are doubling up service on 23rd, which is not very cost effective. Likewise, turning on MLK means watering down the 8, as that part of MLK is a level below the rest of the 8 (just as the 8 is a level below the G). MLK is also very close to 23rd, which means you don’t really add coverage, either.

        Ending the G at MLK and sending the Denny/Thomas/John bus to Madison Park is the best approach.

      10. The routing of RapidRide G was a long negotiation and discussion in the 2010s. It’s not worth second-guessing it now without reviewing all that. I gave a quick summary as I remember it of the tradeoffs, who said what, and how the result came about, but there was a lot more discussion between SDOT, Metro, and the public over multiple years. You’d also want to look at the discussions on the 11 and 12 in all the restructures between 2012 and 2016.

      11. If Madison Park were a a high scoring equity priority area, with same density as today, they would have run the G Line all the way to the lake.

        If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas.

        First of all, if the area was only as dense as Madison Park it wouldn’t exist at all, even if there were lots of low income, minority people. No one is running buses every six minutes in Kent.

        Yes, in some hypothetical world where Broadmoor was a low income gated community (just like… uh…) and the zoning in the surrounding neighborhood were not originally designed to exclude poor people and people of color then sure, maybe they would extend the line. But that is certainly not the world we live in. There is a very strong correspondence between density and low income/historically disadvantaged neighborhoods. The Madison Park neighborhood was always white, while places to the west were not. You can see that by looking at this map which includes historical data: In terms of race, it hasn’t changed much over the years. In contrast, the ratio of Black people west of there has. But it still ranges somewhere between 11% and 22% for the entire corridor (much higher than average for the city or county) until it abruptly changes to 1.2% as you get past MLK. It isn’t quite the sudden shift that occurred in the 1970s (90% to 4.3%) but same idea. If you were to look at density, it is the same thing. The areas to the east were always lower density. Racially restrictive zoning and zoning designed to limit density went hand in hand.

        Here is a short video produced by KCTS (PBS): Here the subject is explored in more depth:

      12. I’ve been trying to find the type of map I will link to, that has areas shaded in gray that are King County Metro Equity Priority Areas, but showing the area of Seattle a little bit further south. More specifically, I want to see a map that shows the Madison street, and E Madison street corridor, all the way from downtown to Madison Park, that shows equity priority areas. Can someone with better map-finding skills than me find that map? Here’s an example …

      13. Ross, the Magnuson park area historically never used to be an equity priority area. Even if the term wasn’t invented back then, the area wouldn’t have been consider one. But now, because there’s some low income housing there, it’s an equity priority area. So, all it would take for a section of Madison Park to be an equity priority area is, for example, if the Seattle Housing Authority were to buy an apartment building and convert it to low income housing. Yes, some equity priority areas exist because of decades of prejudicial decisions and laws, but some exist in middle class or wealthier areas simply because low income housing was placed there.

      14. Sam, yes, the city could create an equity-priority area by converting a large apartment building to subsidized housing. But far north Seattle’s equity pockets are more than just that. I don’t know the status of the large apartment buildings at 145th & 30th, whether they’re public housing, all on housing vouchers as a block, or many units just drifted into vouchers and below-market rents accidentally. But the equity pockets are more than that; it’s other units around Lake City and Broadview and northern Northgate that can’t all be “public housing buildings”; they just drifted that way individually because Lake City and Broadview are less-desirable areas, so there was less pressure on housing prices. They’re less desirable because they’re at the far edge of the city, the furthest from downtown or the other fashionable neighborhoods.

  15. All three escalators at Northgate from the mezzanine level to the track level are out of service this morning. All three.

    You can’t make up this level of incompetence.

      1. If the escalators are just off without any signage, it’s likely that someone hit the Emergency Stop button just for kicks, but the stop buttons aren’t connected to any network that talks to ST, so ST has no way of knowing if the escalators are Stopped due to vandalism or breakdown until someone tells them directly.

        ST CEO Timm says via Twitter that she’s working on a way to get more survey of system operations to improve responsiveness, but also apparently ST (or, more likely, its contractually obligated elevator contractor) is actually fairly responsive if the escalator simply needs to be reset.

      2. Don’t the stations have full-time security guards? Don’t they ever pass by the escalator and notice it has stopped? Like when they go up or down it to patrol another floor?

    1. You’d think that ST would revisit the job descriptions of security guards and fare ambassadors to help reduce the duration of equipment closures somehow — but no. This is ST we are talking about. “Ride the wave — not the escalators.”

  16. I am posting this here although it is im response to posts on the LCW thread because Ross might feel those line of posts are not germane to his original article.

    A transit “grid” throughout King Co. is both physically impossible due to topography, size and density, and unaffordable. Direct buses make sense when the combination of bus + Link is bad enough folks don’t want to ride it. “Choice” riders are not transit slaves, and nearly every one of them owns a car in the garage. Those riders feel zero moral obligation to help ST meet its inflated ridership estimates if the trip is too inconvenient (which often means more inconvenient than driving).

    Light rail has two advantages: 1. It is grade separated so it is better in heavy traffic congestion or in dense areas with clogged roads (often by design) or where parking is artificially high in cost, although ironically that disadvantages that area from creating retail density or vibrancy; and 2. it can carry a lot of riders depending on frequency. Its two main disadvantages are: 1. cost; and 2. the route is fixed and serves a tiny part of King Co. that in many areas the route was compromised due to cost or politics, so it must rely on transfers and first/last mile access because most folks don’t want to live right next to a freeway so population and commercial centers are inland, and virtually everyone hates a transfer because of the added delay, walk, and the uncertainty.

    Some hope that over decades housing will match transit: those who prefer transit and Link will migrate to TOD within walking distance of a Link station which will serve as the first/last mile access, which is often true over time, except those dwellers are usually in the lower income strata and so any kind of retail vibrancy around the station is very rare, especially if there is little or no parking; and those who prefer to drive will move to the outer SFH zones. The BTC had nothing to do with the retail vibrancy of downtown Bellevue.

    When you take these together what it means to me is:

    1. Metro and ST are lucky right now because King Co. is 2200 sq. miles and everyone in King Co. pays taxes toward transit, whether they use it or not, but it is virtually impossible to serve those 2200 sq miles if all citizens begin to demand service. So many on this blog are urbanists and have little idea how remote and undense most of King Co. is, but benefit from the county wide taxes for transit in the urban areas. Just like LCW, if these areas suddenly densify or move away from their car centric lives the transit service they will demand will come from existing (urban) service, not more taxes and subsidies. Fortunately for Metro today those folks are actually moving away from transit, which affects farebox recovery.

    2. Very few, like almost none, TOD’s will be like Totem Lake (which really never was “TOD”, which sits between Kirkland and Bellevue and next to a major hospital in one of the highest AMI areas, and wisely included lots of parking. Most Link TOD will be affordable, or effectively affordable, housing, with little parking for out-of-area retail shoppers with more money, and so visions of Totem Lake or U Village like retail vibrancy at the stations is very unlikely. Think more like Yesler Terrace projects. There is only so much retail to go around. If downtown Seattle can’t create retail density or vibrancy don’t expect TOD’s in Mountlake Terrace, Shoreline, and Lynnwood to do it with poorer residents.

    3. There will certainly be places and routes where first/last mile access + Link is just bad transit. First, people just hate transferring AFTER getting off Link. That is why taking Link as part of a trip to First Hill will be unpopular. So transit agencies or cities will subsidize one seat buses. These buses will have a lot to do with just how “choice” the riders are. The 630 serves eastside and MI healthcare workers, and so will a 322 from north of the Lake, and my guess is the hospitals and medical facilities put a lot of pressure on Metro for the 322 since Kenmore maybe can’t afford to subsidize it like MI, and not surprisingly that service comes from someplace, else like LCW. That is just reality. Should have run Link to First Hill. Buses like the 554 will run directly to Bellevue Way because Bellevue and Issaquah want those riders on Bellevue Way, and they don’t want to transfer, period. Less choice areas may get two and three transfer trips.

    4. Without park and rides there is no way to provide first/last mile access to the eastside and most suburban/rural areas in King Co. If nothing else, it would be cost prohibitive and drain all the transit revenue from more urban and poor areas. With a park and ride the driver pays for the car, fuel, driver and maintenance, and for some reason does not really see the drive to a park and ride as a seat, IF that is the last transfer. I think it is highly unlikely these suburban riders/drivers will drive to a park and ride to catch a bus to go to a station that serves East Link, certainly not post pandemic, and certainly not if there is a transfer after getting off Link. That is just the reality. IF they use East Link they will drive to a park and ride that serves East Link, or they will just drive to where they are going because other than downtown Seattle the parking is free.

    5. Downtown Seattle is a dinosaur designed by progressives when folks were transit slaves, and those folks had all the money for the stores and restaurants and downtown taxes. Expensive and hard to find parking is just one issue killing downtown Seattle retail, and without that retail vibrancy all along 3rd folks don’t want to transfer in downtown Seattle, which is a problem because Link is based on downtown Seattle, which made sense pre-pandemic. Unless Seattle becomes perceived as safe as the eastside, and there is real retail vibrancy and eyes on the street, Link is going to suffer because so many will refuse to transfer in downtown Seattle and instead will insist on one-seat buses or will drive, which will again depend on just how “choice” that rider/driver is. Unless Link moves transfers out of downtown Seattle, which makes more and more sense since so few riders are actually going downtown.

    6. When I read Jeff’s post I thought to myself who doesn’t drive to medical appointments if they have a car? I don’t drive much these days, but I certainly drive to medical appointments. It costs like $5 to park at the Polyclinic, or Evergreen, and I am not going there because I am sick. Who takes a bus or Link to a medical appointment if they are not feeling well or are sick or weak, especially if they have a car? We have to realize the car has to be a complement to any transportation and transit system because of the absence of first/last mile access need, because nearly everyone owns one, and because to serve many of those drivers with direct service would be prohibitively expensive. We want those folks driving.

    Although some like to think so, transit does not create or lead anything, which is why it is so heavily subsidized. It follows, and it serves, mostly the poor, especially these days hence the focus on equity because so many of the powerful choice riders no longer use transit. 2022-23 are very difficult times for transit because of the massive changes the pandemic brought, and realization that many assumptions ST made like future population growth, TOD, commuting, transit slaves, and so on were “optimistic”. Today transit has to serve a de-urbanizing area with a rising cost structure, labor shortage, and likely less tax revenue and subsidies including farebox recovery. In that environment expanding service makes very little sense, and I think 2023 will be a pivotal year for budgets.

    1. “ Who takes a bus or Link to a medical appointment if they are not feeling well or are sick or weak, especially if they have a car? ”

      Patients having their eyes dilated is one category.

      1. “ Who takes a bus or Link to a medical appointment if they are not feeling well or are sick or weak, especially if they have a car? ”

        “Patients having their eyes dilated is one category.”

        Fair enough Al, although I don’t know how easy it is to catch a bus blind, especially with a transfer or two. Do they dilate eyes anymore? I haven’t had my optometrist do that in decades?

        There are also many medical procedures in which the patient is only released to someone, sometimes because of medications or anesthesia, and must have a car or Uber. I just had that situation with my wife at Evergreen Hospital. It was a minor procedure, parking was free at the hospital, but when my wife was ready to go home the nurse took her by wheelchair to the curb where I had to be waiting with a car because those were the required procedures. Otherwise they won’t do the procedure.

        For those who live or are alone, or can’t afford a car, doesn’t Via provide a service to take elderly patients directly to healthcare visits?

      2. “There are also many medical procedures in which the patient is only released to someone, sometimes because of medications or anesthesia, and must have a car or Uber.”

        That’s a problem in itself; the medical system is biased toward cars.

      3. @Mike Orr,

        I was once walking in the back areas of Venice and found myself next to a hospital. Up pulls a boat with its lights flashing and sirens wailing, and the staff proceeds to unload a gurney from the boat to the dockside and rush some poor guy into the hospital.

        So, at least in some cities, hospitals ARE NOT biased towards cars.

        But I would be willing to bet that most hospitals are biased towards the transportation method that gets their patients to the hospital as quickly as possible, and gets them home as safely as possible. That is just common sense.

        In the US that means cars. In Venice that apparently means boats. But I suspect the goal is the same. Speed and safety.

      4. I meant the American medical system, and specifically in the context of discharges, and obviously where a car isn’t clearly necessary.

        I live less than ten blocks from the Polyclinic, and my next door neighbor asked me to bring him home after something, and to pretend I had a taxi waiting around the corner. So I did, and walked him home. Naturally I was looking for any signs he might collapse along the way, but he was doing fine and there wasn’t.

        I had a colonoscopy at Ballard Swedish and a relative drove me home. After anesthesia I tend to wake up quickly and completely and the nurses are often surprised at how soon I’m chatting. When we got out of the clinic I said I was hungry and asked to go to Ba Bar in U-Village on the way home. My relative was like “Are you sure you’re well enough” but I felt fine and had no problems.

        In cases like that I don’t see why people can’t go home on a bus if they have somebody with them.

      5. Dilation makes things mildly fuzzy but not blind. Most diabetics end up with eyes dilated at least once a year or two — and more often if there are complications. It isn’t an optometrist but an ophthalmologist that does it .

        Certainly there are many outpatient procedures these days that make driving oneself less than ideal. Radiation. Chemo. Colonoscopy. Dental extractions. People do it often because they have no reasonable options outside of going alone and in many cases driving alone.

        It’s one reason that — although not done as frequently as going to work or school — major medical facilities should have great transit for patients. It’s in the public interest of safety to get people not functioning at 100% off the road — on top of the advantages of having a high concentration of employment and general activity.

  17. “There are also many medical procedures in which the patient is only released to someone, sometimes because of medications or anesthesia, and must have a car or Uber.”

    “That’s a problem in itself; the medical system is biased toward cars.”

    Mike, that is like saying ambulances are biased toward cars. Do you really think the “medical system” is biased toward “cars”? If you dial 911 do you ask where the nearest bus stop is? That is one of the craziest things I have read on this blog.

    Did you expect Evergreen and its insurer to have my wife walk from the hospital to a bus stop which was probably a long distance after surgery and then walk from the bus to home while recovering from anesthesia? Plus I don’t think my wife was willing to be in public after surgery. Usually the patient just wants to get home and into bed, and not make a transit holiday out of it.

Comments are closed.