RapidRide G construction is closing East Madison Street between 16th and 14th westbound to extract “old cable car infrastructure located under the roadway. This closure is expected to be in place for at least a week.” (SDOT)
Sound Transit press release on choosing a preferred alignment for the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extension (WSBLE) last Thursday.
Interview with Sound Transit CEO Julie Timm. Among other things, “Timm explained that Sound Transit is in a transition from a building agency to an operational agency, and that takes a 180-degree shift in perspective to focus on the rider experience and communication. She knows the trains need to be clean. She understands that many people don’t feel safe on the trains. She also knows that communication is a huge challenge for the agency.” (MyNorthwest, found by Alonso.)
Metro is participating in a 16-city international survey on customer satisfaction with their local bus service.
Berlin U-Bahn expansion. (Pedestrian Observations.)
Saving public transit will require fast, frequent, and reliable service.
The Bahamas has jitneys, a car-dependent layout, and insane traffic.
Carlos Moreno, the French researcher who created the “15-Minute City” concept, is targeted by conspiracy theories and death threats ($).
This is an open thread.
408 Replies to “Open Thread: Cable Car”
Here’s another take on the last ST board meeting and it’s outcome with regard to the Ballard LE preferred alignment.
An excerpt that I’m still trying to fully digest (County Executive Dave Somers happens to be my rep on the ST board):
“Though Somers supported Harrell’s North/South station proposal, he was ultimately the lone “No” vote on the final amended package. He told Crosscut his dissent was a response to the amendments his colleagues added.
“Other last-minute proposals would almost certainly cause delays, and the costs are well beyond what has been budgeted with no ideas how to pay for them. The Board should not sacrifice our timeline and budget when we have very good alternatives in front of us,” said Somers.”
Constantine also stated the 4th Ave. option was not affordable during discussions. Balducci said adding it to the DEIS would allow the Board to tell the citizens the Board did study it but it was not affordable, which most of the Board already has already indicated (I think DSTT2 will likely cost $2 billion more than estimated even with CID N/S). I doubt ST will spend much effort on the 4th Ave. station. According to the Crosscut article CID N/S will cost $160 million more than a station on 5th/midtown. I don’t know how much less disruptive construction for the CID S/N station will be to the CID compared to one on 5th, probably not much, but right there is $160 million the CID left on the table.
It’s still worth studying in the EIS so that we can compare it side by side with the other alternatives. That will also make it clear, if ST makes a bad decision, how bad it is. The costs and relative costs of each alternative will doubtless change as they’re studied further, so what’s unfavored or unaffordable now may be less so in the future. It’s important to have these alternatives in the EIS so that it’s easier to possibly switch to them later.
Exactly, get it in the EIS.
It is not unaffordable, it is unaffordable without tradeoffs. Show us what the tradeoffs are. Maybe the tradeoff is terminating at Smith Cove instead of Ballard. Maybe it is scrapping the West Seattle extension. Let’s see what public opinion looks like if the options are “north of CID” or a further 10-15+ year delay to Ballard.
What about doing in line tracks like the street car?
Also thinking current tracks along the waterfront?
This way you don’t have to build another tunnel
> What about doing in line tracks like the street car?
Do you mean a surface routing downtown? In 2016, when ST first proposed an ST3 plan, it had West Seattle Link and a Ballard streetcar. (An extension of the SLU streetcar on Westlake Ave and Leary Way.) That was to make ST3 the size of ST1 and 2. STB said that without Ballard Link we wouldn’t vote for ST3. We weren’t really convinced of West Seattle Link, but we accepted it as a compromise. It should have been Ballard Link and West Seattle muilti-line BRT. The objection to a Ballard streetcar was travel time. Right now it takes 30-45 minutes to get from Ballard to a regional transfer point, and that’s not good enough for Seattle’s fourth-largest urban village and an entire quarter of Seattle. So ST3 was expanded, both for Ballard and for Everett/Paine Field.
But since then, Ballard and West Seattle Link have been getting worse and worse. The long train-to-train transfers downtown with an ultra-deep tunnel and a North of CID station seem to defeat part of the purpose of building Link. That has made me start to think about a Ballard streetcar again, or connecting Ballard Link to the City Center Connector streetcar project (on 1st Ave and Stewart Street), as a way out of this mess. Ballard wouldn’t get excellent service, but at least it wouldn’t get something expensive that claims to be excellent service but isn’t.
> Also thinking current tracks along the waterfront?
No! The center of the pedestrian concentration is between 2nd and 5th. The waterfront has few people on it, and is a steep hill from downtown. The Sound eliminates half the potential walkshed.
The Waterfront Streetcar was single-track, so that limited its frequency to 20 minutes. A metro needs to run at least every 10 minutes to reach the sweet spot of usefulness.
Daniel, don’t be a chump. South of CID will of course be cheaper than Fifth Sort of Shallow (the “baseline” proposal which as Member Balducci said “simply can’t be built”). Any idiot knows that a back-of-the-envelope estimate for the cost of digging a hole in the ground and putting a transit station in it in 2023 is going to be more expensive than one for an otherwise identical station made in the same blind way in 2016.
That’s even more true in this instance true since construction off-street on a completely run-down site without any mitigation whatsoever will be considerably cheaper than in-street digging right at the edge of a retail core. So South of CID is clearly intrinsically much cheaper than the original plan.
King County is willing to give its abandoned Administration Building to ST so the County doesn’t have to tear it down itself, so it’s true that the demolition costs at The Giant Hole site are higher. But property acquisition costs are zero, which is certainly lower than however much purchase of the two headhouse properties for Midtown would be, though they’re probably much cheaper now than in the fevered excesses of 2016.
It’s also true that North of CID will be quite a bit shallower than Midtown, meaning there’s less till to dig and haul away. The underground version of The Rialto Bridge linking NoCID to PSS would be an extra cost, but watch that disappear from the plan in a final frenzy of “value engineering”.
So “No, The Bargain Basement plan won’t cost ‘$160 million more’ than what the original plan would have actually cost.”
Of course, no matter how relentlessly the Bored [sic] engineers away any possible value in a new tunnel, whatever it ends up costing is an indefensible lot more than just using the existing tunnel for all three lines and building Ballard as a stub or even not building it at all and giving buses the priority they deserve.
Mike, since there would be few people actually traveling through downtown on the surface to or from Ballard, a surface alignment is not a bad idea. However, trains would have to be only two cars long to fit in the 240 foot blocks and surface operation, especially in downtown can’t be automated, so O&M would be forever high.
A line on Fifth would be best from a coverage basis, and it links with Westlake very well. However the Panjandrums of the DNA would go ape at that idea. However it goes through downtown, close Westlake to non-transit use south of Denny and put stop signs for cross traffic at the intersections north of Lenora. Follow the Fremont proposal, but swap the 40’s curbside bus lanes for a center running trackway like on King Boulevard and use an opening bridge high enough to connect to 35th directly under the Aurora Bridge. There’s enough room for a trackway through the supports.
Have a short elevated section over the intersection at Fremont and Leary and continue in the middle of Leary to Market. Upzone the heck out of West Woodland along it.
Seattle could afford this on its own. Revoke ST 3 except for STRide on I-405.
Addendum. Extend and improve the Monorail for Lower Queen Anne. Improve means loops at both end so it can run more frequently.
“A line on Fifth would be best from a coverage basis, and it links with Westlake very well. However the Panjandrums of the DNA would go ape at that idea. However it goes through downtown, close Westlake to non-transit use south of Denny and put stop signs for cross traffic at the intersections north of Lenora.”
I think you mean the DSA, but I agree that if the CID could block a station at 5th, and the DSA a midtown station, taking lanes from 5th (which already loses lanes from the monorail) for a surface station serving a few riders from Ballard, that would negate subarea contributions for DSTT2, and likely would encourage Nordstrom to leave Westlake, probably has less than a zero chance of approval. We haven’t seen the fights over station and line placement in SLU yet, and those are big players.
But I don’t understand why anyone would propose this if they think DSTT2 is affordable at $2.2 billion with $1,1 billion from the other subareas. Stations at CID N/S are not as bad as many think, certainly better than scrapping WSBLE or ST 3 or a surface line down 5th or subarea contributions, at least for Seattle.
A better alternative for a surface rail line from Ballard would be along the waterfront, but the waterfront park groups would object, as would the businesses, and the nearby property owners that were assessed a LID because the park would increase the value of their properties that funded completion of the waterfront park would demand their money back, maybe Seattle’s last and best hope for revitalization, which is Harrell’s only concern.
What about express buses through the new Viaduct tunnel that is underused and could use the revenue? There you have a one-shot ride from Ballard to Sodo and I doubt many powerful stakeholders would object. Enter the tunnel in the north and a one seat to Sodo where riders could transfer to Link.
First we need to see the fights over WSBLE from Westlake to SLU to basically lower Queen Anne to see if WSBLE has any chance of getting built. Then we need to see how much Ballard is willing to pony up for stations and locations (I think WS won’t be willing to pay anything in a LID). DSTT2 was the easy part.
I think you hit the nail on the head when you write, ” since there would be few people actually traveling through downtown on the surface to or from Ballard, a surface alignment is not a bad idea”. None of the stakeholders see the ridership or benefit to their businesses or properties from the number of riders from Ballard or WS, even if underground, and Harrell doesn’t see the money from transit riders, which is why they are not “stakeholders”.
“DSA” not “DNA”
Well, Daniel, for s six mile line through a city with reasonable right of way available, it’s actually “better transit”. Yes, taking two lanes from Westlake north of Denny is pretty aggressive, but apparently SDOT is going to do it for the 40 bus so why not get more use out of the taking? It allows a more central “SLU Station” and serves, somewhat indirectly, but with a vertical conveyance reasonably, the cluster of mid-rises on Dexter and of course Lower Fremont. There is nothing west of Lower Queen Anne that is in the slightest way “dense” along the preferred alignment. There’s also the benefit of having three stations in “Greater Ballard” at Eighth, Fifteenth and Market. They’d all be on the surface and cheap.
It would probably be seven minutes slower between Leary and Market and Westlake Center, but it would serve many more people directly and could be extended to Sixty-Fifth on both 14th and 24th pretty inexpensively.
This was the original suggestion for Ballard, and it would have made a big improvement in service to Ballard and still could.
But it’s not “regional” in nature so should be a Seattle-only project, not ST.
Repeal ST3 except for the bonds already sold and STRide on I-405.
Tom, why put loops on the monorail? How about fully automating it so that the driver doesn’t need to take a break or switch from front to back?
You would also need to improve the connection from the Westlake monorail station to the Link station underneath.
The one major drawback with monorails is that track changes/crossovers take a very long time to complete compared to rails. If you have a loop aka u turn on the end then it doesn’t need to wait for the track to change on the end when reversing at the end stations.
That is why adding a loop (more accurately u turn on both ends to form a loop) could increase frequency
Monorail track switches don’t really take that long. Regular track switches aren’t instant either.
Example from Japan happens about 2:00:
(This is two lines coming into a station, and they apparently have the station set up as 4 tracks so that either line is able to go to either side of platforms going the same direction)
Why hasn’t there been a proposal to cut and cover DSTT2 on either 4th or 5th through downtown? Or for that matter, cut and cover a bus/car tunnel on 4th between I-90 and James, clearing the way for Link to run on 4th at the same depth as IDC, making for a simple transfer across Union Station.
Luni, for the same reason that “Fourth Avenue Shallower” is raising such a stink. Cutting and covering a car tunnel under the current Fourth Avenue roadway would require the same demolition and replacement of the viaduct that Fourth Avenue Shallower would.
In actuality, Fourth Avenue Shallower could do exactly as you say: run at the same depth as IDS, because that’s the actual “ground level”.
Unfortunately, the engineers who designed the Fourth Avenue Viaduct did not make provision for a double track railroad down one side or the other or even right down the middle of the supports for the viaduct. It’s a forest of girders under there. So, just like with Fourth Avenue Shallower, the viaduct would have to be replaced.
I think the engineers like “Shallower” because it means they don’t have to go quite as far south in the replacement. The tunnel can take a dive between Massachussetts and Plummer and they don’t have to replace the parts of the viaduct that aren’t actually underneath the station. Something like that.
> Why hasn’t there been a proposal to cut and cover DSTT2 on either 4th or 5th through downtown? Or for that matter, cut and cover a bus/car tunnel on 4th between I-90 and James, clearing the way for Link to run on 4th at the same depth as IDC, making for a simple transfer across Union Station.
You can dig a large pit to make it slightly cheaper, but most likely they’ll still need the mine the station. Basically there’s 3 major issues: existing tunnels/pipes, height elevation issues, and then traffic concerns with closing down the road. I’ll focus on the former two.
There’s a couple problems with every street through downtown:
1st avenue has the sr 99 tunnel
2nd avenue has the old sewer (though I think it’s a lesser issue)
3rd avenue has the existing transit tunnel (and the pilings underneath it)
4th avenue has the BNSF great northern tunnel (https://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/documents/10c-wsble-drafteis-appendixj-drawings-ballard-202201.pdf#page=56)
Then there are elevation height issues with 5th avenue and 6th avenue
For say Madison street the elevation on 2nd 93 feet, 3rd 160 feet, 4th 223 feet, 5th 198 feet, 6th 256 feet.
Considering International district elevation is 56 feet (and more importantly shallow station is at -35 feet) the distance to midtown station only 3000 feet away, the train just can’t go up such a sharp grade to reach a cut and cover station. Plus the station part needs to be level so in actuality it can only be increasing in grade for like 1500 feet bringing it up to by 60 feet but that’s still only 20 feet elevation in midtown.
That is still below 140 the actual street elevation at midtown or 200 feet if you have the deep CID alternatives.
If you want to cut-and-cover either you’ll have to be on 5th avenue. deal with the existing transit tunnel pilings somehow, and then probably exit 5th avenue becoming elevated through CID as the train just can’t get the elevation low enough to stay underground. Or be on 2nd avenue and deal with the sewer somehow.
Martin, WL explained the loops very well. Every Disney Monorail is either a simple loop or a “dogbone” which is a loop flattened to look like an ordinary double track, two-way railroad, but one in which trains never reverse.
There’s an additional advantage to the dogbone loops if done well: they’re only one train width across. So, like under the Westlake Station today (actually, even more so), the support structure can be narrower and lighter since it won’t ever have to carry two trains.
When I mentioned the Monorail above, I was planning on announcing a grand plan to turn left onto Pine just south of the Westlake Station, modified to remove the outer guidebeam since it would only ever have trains on the inner one. The single-beam guideway would run along the south side of Pine to the freeway, narrowing the bike lane or sidewalk where the supports were placed. There would be a station at Eighth and Pine for the “old” Convention Center, and the guideway would straddle the Pike/Pine off-ramp to the triangle east of Boren and Olive and then turn back west. There would be a station at Boren and Olive for the “Annex” and that huge cluster of big buildings along Minor, and then another between Fifth and Sixth. The guideway would then curve past the B of A and join the existing northbound path.
Passing close to the buildings would work well because the cars are rubber-tired and the guideway is only four feet wide at the ground for a single beam support.
Alas, I forgot the Link tunnel which is cut-and-covered east of Sixth and Pine. I doubt that there’s enough room between the decked section of the tunnel and a usable sidewalk in which to erect even single-beam supports. DARN!!!!!
It would have been an elegant way to include “East SLU” and the Convention Center in a high-capacity transitshed, link the CS with Seattle Center, and, because there needs to be a loop at the north end too, give a couple of stations along Mercer and one at Queen Anne and Harrison which would provide full coverage of Lower Queen Anne not the Hobson’s choice of the Triangle or Queen Anne and Mercer. Folks at Fourth and Mercer would board trains headed west, and those bound for Harrison would ride past Harrison on Fifth North and get off on the southbound leg of the loop.
The Monorail is quick enough that those “out of direction” movements would be very acceptable.
Sadly, though, I don’t think it’s buildable because of the tunnel. I’m certain that the Panjandrums would not allow the Monorail to continue south on Fifth Avenue even though the riders would be rich LQA’ers.
WL, what do you mean by “the existing transit tunnel pilings”? The Westlake station box? Or some “pilings” at the south end?
I ask because there are no pilings at the south end, because IDS is not in a tunnel. It is at the actual ground level replacing the old UP/Milwaukee passenger train platforms for Union Station. In fact, there’s no tunnel under the building across Jackson from IDS. The Link trains run through its basement, suitably walled off of course. The level of Sixth and the International District is achieved by fill for a block or to to the east.
The supports for Westlake’s box are certainly an issue for a tunnel that’s even “sort of shallow” like the original design at CID, and that’s why I like using Sixth for any “New Westlake” platforms, whether stub or “through”. The cut-and-covered tunnel under Pine is not in any context “lightweight”, but it’s absolutely nothing like the stupendous weight of the Underground Palace at Westlake Center.
I expect that’s why Versailles South of Pine (the favored option) is so deep. The platforms at Versailles supposedly will be seven “levels” (grant, they’re just half a “story” each) below the existing platforms.
That’s a lot deeper than needed to clear the station box, so there must be some spreading elements that reach down below the structure to pass the weight outward. Those probably don’t reach to Sixth Avenue, since the station box ends mid-block between Fifth and Sixth.
> I ask because there are no pilings at the south end, because IDS is not in a tunnel
There are pilings (or supports) at the international district station as well, though practically all alignments both 4th and 5th CID station locations are built to the side of the pilings not underneath them. Don’t know the exact reason why, due to poor soil or something but either way they do exist.
You can view it on page 30/31 here: https://www.soundtransit.org/sites/default/files/documents/10c-wsble-drafteis-appendixj-drawings-ballard-202201.pdf#page=30
> I expect that’s why Versailles South of Pine (the favored option) is so deep. The platforms at Versailles supposedly will be seven “levels” (grant, they’re just half a “story” each) below the existing platforms.
> That’s a lot deeper than needed to clear the station box, so there must be some spreading elements that reach down below the structure to pass the weight outward.
Both the 5th avenue and the 6th avenue Westlake stations are pretty deep. I think it can actually be shallower close to the station, the other problem is actually up in South Lake Union where when making the left turn it needs to pass under building foundations. At Westlake the station has an elevation of -10 feet while over at Denny station it has an elevation of -38 feet and dives even deeper to -45 feet before coming back up to -35 feet at the Harrison station.
I don’t think many people know these details as it’s in the appendixes (granted these are also multi-hundred page pdfs) not in the executive summaries, namely in Appendix J Conceptual Design Drawings – Ballard Link Extension.
Thanks, Tom, it’s certainly interesting to extend the monorail, but thus far I have not seen a good way to do so.
WL, does the Union Station Building have pilings? Sure, probably; that land is all tidal fill. But the tracks are laid right on the old gradient that the UP and Milwaukee used for passenger trains to Union Station. There were three or four short tracks under the building and two alongside which extended in a pit to Main Street. The Line 1 tracks today lie in the path of those tracks.
I’m looking at Page 31 (the Fourth Avenue Deep Station cross-section) and I see what you mean about pilings. I guess when the bus tunnel was built the engineers determined that there had to be supports under the new concrete floor of the station, because there they are in that diagram. So I stand in part corrected.
But the diagram also verifies what I said above: the bus tunnel floor and as a result the Link tracks are at almost exactly same elevation as the BNSF tracks a block west. Look closely; you can see the rails and ties on the BNSF side at elevation +19 MSL. The tracks in existing CID are at +23.
The difference is the thickness of the floor of the station box.
On the page before, in a side view, the “Ancillary area” is exactly what we’re talking about as a place to put the tracks for super connectivity.
The immediately previous pages show “Fifth Avenue Shallow” which has been rejected and would have to be stacked. This is exactly what I believe about a station on Sixth Avenue at Westlake; it too would have to be stacked in order to fit close to the surface.
Now I’m looking at Page 50 which shows ST’s version of a Sixth Avenue Station. It appears that your statement that Westlake would be -10 as you said, but what I am saying is that it doesn’t have to be that deep if it’s stacked under Sixth Avenue. DSTT1 is about +65 in the diagram at its base.
The diagram appears to show that the platforms of the existing station end at the west edge of Sixth Avenue. That’s the actual edge of the Westlake Center station box, as can be seen clearly here: https://michaelminn.net/cities/seattle/sound-transit/2011-04-16_16-42-40.jpg
I don’t know how heavy that flat bottomed section in which the tracks constrict and the tunnel narrows is, but the diagram shows clearly that it reaches across Sixth Avenue. East of there the tunnel rises slowly about one-and-a-half stories to the old entrance to the Convention Center Station and goes flat about a half-block to the turn into the TBM vault east of the Paramount.
If only the planners had been forward looking and made the tunnel three lanes wide, we would have an excellent place for a northbound deviation by simply adding a third track in the middle and having it remain flat until the others rose twenty feet above it. Alas, they did not have that vision of the future.
I believe that ST just put Sixth at the same profile as Fifth (which DOES have to be that deep because of the weight of Westlake Center has to be spread) “because”. But I do not believe that there is a valid reason for doing so. The weight of that transition section is unlikely to be anywhere near what the massive four story block of the main station is. You can see from the picture that the east wall is very thick. That’s the bearing wall for the Mezzanine and Pine Street above.
I admit that putting it “really, really deep” allows a single center platform, whereas putting it just underneath the transition segment of the tunnel under Sixth Avenue would require stacking to fit within the street right-of-way.
But it is very much “worth it”!. To knock three levels off that heinous, boring rise or descent between the Spine platforms and the BLE platforms would be a game changer in usefulness.
The Board should order the consultants to study a “shallower Sixth Avenue” tunnel at Westlake.
Martin, perhaps with high-speed switches like those Glenn showed in the video, the Westlake end could be remade into a single-beam station with one of those switches just north of it. That would limit headways, for sure, because the single-track section would be occupied for five minutes or so at at time. But if service could be every five minutes with automated trains and a dogbone around Seattle Center at the north end, it might work.
And it would be a huge win in conjunction with a mostly-surface line up Westlake to Fremont and on to Ballard on Leary Way.
Somers appears to be in the Rogoff camp of, if you can only get two of fast, cheap, and good, pick fast & cheap.
On STB’s direction.
Cam Solomon wrote in the CID article: “It sounds like you need to get the editorial board all on the same page on whether this is a news-only blog or also a group willing to dabble in advocacy. I think the later is probably essential for survival, but I’m not an expert on the life-cycle of blogs.”
STB has always been an advocacy organization; it was founded in the mid 2000s to help get ST2 passed. We also have a lot of news. I didn’t know there were so many planning issues or future projects or public hearings before I joined STB.
I think WSBLE’s downtown segment has been particularly challenging. Many issues have one obvious solution to advocate: bus routes should have a lot of transit-priority lanes and run frequently, Link stations should be within walking distance of neighborhood centers, and more neighborhoods should be walkable. But the WSBLE downtown situation is so complex it’s not straightforward to advocate just one thing. And this month it has been rushed: the North/South alternative (Constantine/Harrell) appeared a week before Thursday’s board meeting, the Restored Spine alternative (Balducci/Millar) a few days before the meeting, and our Single-Tunnel alternative was a reaction to those. And public testimony for North/South or 4th Avenue Shallower was about half-and-half, while nobody knew about Single-Tunnel because it was so new. Now I think people are digesting all this, and we may find future openings to promote any of them, depending on what other people do over the next several months. Anton is also mulling over transfer features for the South station, which he may share at some point.
We also need to work together with the other transit advocacy groups more. A few of them had a meetup this week, which I don’t know if any STBers made it to because this past week was so rushed. In the past STB has had occasional meetings, although not since the pandemic. It’s probably time for more multi-group meetings.
That’s really great to hear, Mike. I wrote that in reaction to a poster, who I may have mistakenly thought was staff here, saying this was primarily a news blog. I can’t find it now to verify who it was, but I just wanted to provide the context for my comment.
The site is currently slow to post comments or use the editing interface. Is it happening to others or just me?
I have been experiencing that as well since Wed afternoon.
Likewise, though for me it has manifested primarily in slow comment posts followed by messages of duplicate comments.
It has happened to me as well.
Me too. Just be patient, and the page will update, with your comments, within a few minutes.
You can hit the “X” and then the circle that replaces it and see the comment immediately.
And there’s an “edit” capability? Why can’t we have five minutes to fix typos like most other sites?
The conspiracy theories, for those who can’t read the paywalled 15-Minute City article, are:
* 15-Minute cities will have restricted movement in and out of them, as part of a UN climate-change lockdown. Traffic-monitoring cameras will track which cars enter or leave.
* The Ohio freight-train derailment that dumped hazardous chemicals was deliberate, to force rural Ohio residents to relocate to 15-minute cities in e.g., Cincinnati.
Yeah, but there’s crazy internet conspiracy theories about everything, so I wouldn’t think the 15 Minute City concept is all that special in generating internet rumors.
The reasons behind many of the conspiracy theories may be pretty sound. One thing big city Liberals often support is environmental “user” or “carbon” taxes that would track every mile a person drives, or double household utility bills or have surcharges on airline tickets. This would “charge” individuals for the environmental damage they do, thinking it will cause changes in personal behavior. But these sort of tax schemes are a creepy invasion of privacy and also wildly regressive towards lower income citizens. But that doesn’t stop “The Enlightened” from mixing them in with perfectly good ideas like the 15 minute city.
The problem the 15 minute city idea has here in the USA is it’s not named right. We could rename it “Small Town America Reborn” and it would instantly be more popular.
Carbon taxes are a good idea and don’t have to be an invasion of privacy. Gas taxes or an airline mileage tax require no special data collection.
It’s possible for them to be regressive, but there are also ways to prevent that, e.g. by providing the tax funds directly back to taxpayers. And in many domains, carbon or climate pricing wouldn’t be regressive. I mean, airline travel is a huge contribution to global warming that is primarily done by the richest quintile of American society. It could really be done in a way that is just and equitable.
> One thing big city Liberals often support is environmental “user” or “carbon” taxes that would track every mile a person drives, or double household utility bills or have surcharges on airline tickets.
The mileage tax is supported by Conservatives as well, or just in general the (road) construction industry. There other green-supporters who do not want an mileage tax, supporting the current implicit subsidy on EV cars since they effectively pay few road taxes.
> This would “charge” individuals for the environmental damage they do, thinking it will cause changes in personal behavior.
I’m not sure why you are citing environmental damage for the mileage tax, the main reason cited for it is to repair the road damage done by driving. Which will need to be replaced if more and more people move to EV’s as the gas tax is no longer correlated with how much one drives.
> But these sort of tax schemes are a creepy invasion of privacy
It hasn’t been detailed exactly how the mileage tax would work, under the odometer plans it wouldn’t track anything else besides how much one drives. Which honestly is the same data inferred when you fill up gas, albeit it will be centralized.
> … and also wildly regressive towards lower income citizens.
It’s not quite the same situation here compared to say the tax for education/police services/health/fire fighters etc… It is more of a usage tax and correlates to one’s usage.
Carbon taxes would be levied at the pump, only they’d be indirect through the underlying price that folks pay for the fuel. Fuel taxes would continue to be levied on that increased price, but they’re a “flat tax” by the gallon, not a percentage of the price.
It would be better to levy a tax at charging points to get money for road maintenance from EV’s, but people would charge at home. Perhaps a way to solve that would be an “odometer” in the car which didn’t measure distance but rather charge wattage and was digitally reported monthly to reduce the sticker shock of paying a whole year at a time.
That way there would be no “tracking” and EV owners would still have an incentive to be frugal with their use. The flat fee we have now punishes those who own them but use them only a little.
The big advantage of the flat tax for EV is that it is simple, and it’s effectively prioritizing simplicity over accuracy/fairness. While it is true that people who don’t drive as much end up paying more tax per mile they do drive, the amount of money we’re talking about is still tiny compared to all the rest of the costs of car ownership, and having a dead simple system that has no tracking and no opportunities for cheating is definitely a good thing. It is also true that climate benefit of EV over gas is less for people that drive less, and in a world where EVs are supply constrained, you get more CO2 avoided if the EVs that do exist are the vehicles driven every day while cars that don’t drive a lot burn gas, rather than the other way around.
In the short term, where we have a state interested in subsidizing EV purchases, simply eliminating of EV component of the registration fee and charging EV drivers no road usage tax may make the most sense, but as the number of EVs on the road increases, it would eventually have to be brought back, or else WSDOT would eventually run out of money.
Briefly discussing some alternatives for EV road usage taxes. Collecting taxes at charging stations would be very regressive, as people who live in apartments that can’t charge at home would have to pay this tax for nearly all of their daily driving, while the generally richer group of people that own their homes and utilize home charging would pay it only when on rare long-distance road trips. This seems unfair. Collecting electricity usage data from the car itself could be a solution, but won’t work with existing cars whose software doesn’t track this, nor is there an easily enforceable way to ensure that drivers are reporting their energy usage accurately. There is also no easy way to avoid Washington state tax this way for miles driven in other states.
Overall, I think a flat annual fee strikes the right balance between simplicity and fairness, provided that the annual fee scales upward with the weight of the car (big cars tear up the roads more, so should pay more) and that commercial vehicles, which tend to drive far more miles per year than personal vehicles, also pay more.
Seems like if the aim is a tax based on miles driven, the solution would just be to eliminate the gas tax and replace it with a sales tax on tires.
The flat fee tax would have other issues.
> Overall, I think a flat annual fee strikes the right balance between simplicity and fairness,
You’d essentially be taxing people who drive less more than people who drive more. And the ones who drive the most would be effectively subsidized the most. People who rarely drive their car will be punished the most
Though I guess with declining gas tax revenues and without a mileage tax, (and I doubt they can set a flat annual fee high enough?) this situation will lead indirectly to less highways being built/maintained. Either that or they increase the income tax.
I personally think WSDOT is a very bloated agency, and if the focused simply on maintaining highways rather than endlessly expanding them, the amount of tax they would need to collect to begin would be much lower.
But, we have what we have, so it comes down to tradeoffs between simplicity vs. fairness. Paying by the mile makes it more fair, but also more complicated, since now the state has to either rely on the honor system for people to report their mileage or make people taking an hour out of their day once a year driving the car to a trusted odometer reader. Considering that the flat fee WSDOT currently uses for electric vehicles is a drop in the bucket compared to all the other costs of car ownership that remain fixed regardless of miles driven, measuring how many miles everybody drives to assess a more precise number may not be worth it.
Of course, more and more highways over time are becoming toll roads, so the variable road usage fee elements are still there, they just take the form of tolls, rather than registration fees. In the long run, the entire freeway system should probably be tolled, at least in large cities.
That Berlin U-Bahn expansion is ambitious. I didn’t think it was even possible to expand the U4, as I thought there were physical impediments to expand it south of Innsbrucker Platz.
It would definitely be great to expand the U-Bahn, particularly the U3 and U4 expansions to the northeast. East Berlin doesn’t have as much U-Bahn coverage as the west (it does have reasonably good S-Bahn coverage, and the S-Bahn is faster, but it comes at the cost of not being as good for local service). They’ll have to be the small-profile rolling stock, but it’s better than no service at all.
It’ll take me some time to digest the proposed changes. From a personal standpoint, I love to see the U3 extension to Düppel. This was the area that I lived when I was a kid, and it always annoyed me that the U3 (which was actually the U2 at the time) didn’t extend just a bit further to Mexikoplatz where it would have a transfer with the S1.
The U0 would probably be a pretty significant change, adding additional cross-town coverage outside of the Ringbahn.
I just wish that Berlin could do something about Tempelhofer Feld.
Berlin can redevelop Tempelhofer Feld, it just chose not to do so for a while; the CDU-SPD coalition agreement includes redevelopment, which the Greens in the city seem a lot more pissed off about than the plans to build the A100 extension or CDU’s homophobia (in 2021 they called gay rights education an ideological experiment on children).
> Sound Transit is in a transition from a building agency to an operational agency, and that takes a 180-degree shift in perspective to focus on the rider experience and communication.
I would really like to see more analysis into the future frequency and what will actually be the service patterns. While we (and others) talk a lot about not enough peak capacity, I’m more worried about not enough frequency during the rest of the day.
For example, the DC wmata and SF bart far flung extensions basically indirectly lead to compromised off peak frequency from having to run the trains such long distances. (Simplified the Frequency = # Trains * Overall Speed / Length to run the route). As the routes became long and longer they basically ended up dropping frequency. And it gets even more costly if ST is always running four car trains as well.
Though for now the Lynnwood and Federal Way extensions actually don’t add too much time. I did some napkin math and currently it’s 57 minutes from Northgate to Angle Lake and around 79 minutes from Lynnwood to Federal Way. Honestly a lot less time added than I expected. Also does anyone know if there’s some document with all estimated travel times pairs? The sound transit pages actually only show one or two station pairs only https://www.soundtransit.org/system-expansion/federal-way-link-extension
Everett to Lynnwood estimated at 30 minutes.
I can’t see that particular routing generating enough demand for more than maybe 4 trains per hour.
SeaTac to Tacoma Dome in 35 minutes:
As with Everett, I just don’t see enough demand there for particularly frequent trains. None of these locations look like a future Burnaby.
The only tables for travel time I’ve seen are ST2 based. You have this one for Lynnwood to Federal Way: http://stb-wp.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/10143005/Screen-Shot-2015-08-09-at-9.07.39-PM.png and this one for Lynnwood to Redmond Technology Center: http://stb-wp.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/14151500/Screen-Shot-2015-08-14-at-8.12.45-AM.png. Note: the second one doesn’t have the Downtown Redmond station.
This would be worth making for the ST3 stations. If anyone knows where the data is, one of us at the blog could make it. Or if anyone wants to make it and send it to us, that works to.
I don’t think something that precise exists yet for ST3 because the specific station locations aren’t established?
But it may be possible for some of the key stations – for example, the following text is like a word problem for TDLE, but says nothing about the travel time between the two stations in Tacoma proper:
The 2 stations in tacoma are like 400 yards apart.
I guess that is a bit of an exaggeration. They are 2 long blocks apart, but actually a little over 1000 yards, depending on station placement.
Which would be fine if one stop was at 10th and Commerce and the other was at Stadium District, or some other reasonably dense area in Tacoma.
But when one is in the middle of desolation, and the other is in the middle of scorched earth, it’s pretty absurd.
The best spin possible is they are serving transit and entertainment center with TOD potential at the Dome station. And the casino at Portland station.
In reality, the Portland station is serving a truck stop and a couple of warehouses, as the walk to the casino is a hellish experience under 14 lanes of highway that I refer to as the Tour D’Homeless, under which no one will walk if they can possibly avoid it. The ultimate destination at the dome is really just serving a parking garage, for the most part.
Yeah, I think it may be possible to piece together times by looking at the main page summaries. Extrapolating other stations wouldn’t be that hard after that. I just assume that there is some sort of document that lists the travel times though. This is the main reason they are building this — so it would be weird not to call it out.
Yeah, the distance between the two Tacoma Stations is not the problem. It is actually quite reasonable — not particularly big or small, really. It is basically the distance there should be between every station. If there exceptions, then either there is an obvious reason for it (the trains has to go over water) or we should question why we are building it. Anyway, I agree. That isn’t the big problem the stations. The big problem is the nothingness within each station.
Put it this way. Imagine we owned the BNSF tracks, so Sounder Trains could run cheaply all day. Now imagine we decide to build an RER/U-Bahn type system, but with urban stop spacing in both Tacoma and Seattle. This means that Sounder would have several stations in Seattle, and work to complement the existing metro. In Tacoma it would do the same thing, but as the only rail in the city. A station at the Dome is actually quite reasonable in that case, for the same reason the existing Link has a station close to the stadiums. It is cheap to build, and still gets some riders. Anyway, after that, you put stations inside downtown. I would probably put one at 19th, 13th and 7th.
Of course we aren’t doing any of that.
Thanks this is pretty useful rather than me trying to reverse calculate it.
The time of 73 minutes from Lynnwood to Federal way is actually 6 minutes faster than what I calculated (79 minutes) so that’s nice to know.
> This would be worth making for the ST3 stations. If anyone knows where the data is, one of us at the blog could make it. Or if anyone wants to make it and send it to us, that works to.
Yeah that’s what I was thinking about doing, but of course if there is already the data for the ST3 stations would prefer to use that.
Thanks to Mike Orr for quoting it and WL for calling the Timm quote out about shifting from building to operating.
I’m glad that Timm sees this as a fundamental challenge. I feel too that the Board does not yet “get” how culturally profound this role shift will be for the agency. Every month East Link goes unopened the further the need for this perspective gets delayed. I’m particularly disheartened that the WSBLE decision was made before East Link was opened. Had East Link been opened, Balducci’s motion would probably have had more visible interest.
I wondered why Timm stayed silent about the récent shifting of the WSBLE preferred alternative. I can only hope that something significant can change, like having a standard Riders advisory committee that weighs in on future plans..
The agency, presumably, must have the data you’re seeking. It’s probably in several corridor studies and/or white papers developed during the early ST3 planning phase. Perhaps commenter AJ can be of help here?
I say this because of this reference found in the report, from March 2015,
“ST3 Regional High-Capacity Transit System Plan – Transit Ridership Forecasting Methodology Report”:
“The ST incremental model has been updated to a new base year (2014). Development of the base-year transit trip tables involved a rigorous analysis of actual ridership volumes along each transit route and a realistic simulation of observed transit service characteristics for peak and off-peak periods.
“For future year forecasts, external changes in demographics, highway travel time, and costs are distinctly incorporated into the process in stages, prior to estimating the impacts of incremental changes in transit service.
“In the first stage of ridership forecasting analysis, only changes in Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) land use forecasts are considered. In the second stage, other external non-transit changes, such as highway travel time (congestion), costs (including parking costs), and household income, are taken into consideration. For forecasts of external changes, the ST model relies on the version of the PSRC regional model in current use by WSDOT on major highway projects. The first two stages of ridership forecasting analysis result in a forecast of future year zone-to-zone transit trips within the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) district boundaries, absent any changes in the transit system itself. For current year analyses, these first two stages are not necessary.
“In the third and final stage, incremental changes in the transit level of service (e.g., access, wait, and ride travel times) and user costs (e.g., fares) are considered, resulting in final transit demand estimates for each transit network alternative under consideration.”
So, if ride travel times was a variable used in the ridership forecasting models, this data must exist in some format. Sorry that I can’t me more helpful than this.
Yeah, it is out there somewhere. I’m just not sure where.
Sorry, I don’t follow the question. Are we looking for travel times between station pairs?
I’m trying to estimate how costly it would be to run all-day trains to guestimate how frequent Sound Transit would actually run the trains during off peak hours. So I need the travel times between the station pairs, though don’t actually need all of time just the major ones where the trains could turn around at.
I would take the ST2 travel times shared above, and then for travel time from ST2 terminus to ST3 terminus, go to each project page and use the headline travle time number. Each project should have an estimate time to get from the ST3 terminus to a notable station (to SeaTac, Westlake, etc.), which includes stopping time for the intermediate stations.
I kinda tried doing that but the numbers seem a bit suspect/ don’t seem to make sense.
For instance on https://www.soundtransit.org/system-expansion/tacoma-dome-link-extension says
* South Federal Way to Tacoma Dome Station in 20 minutes
* Fife to Tacoma Dome Station in 6 minutes
* Tacoma Dome Station to Sea-Tac Airport in 35 minutes
That seems to imply SeaTac to South Federal way will take 15 minutes. But then South Federal way to Fife takes 14 minutes? and then remaining 6 minutes from there to Tacoma Dome for 35 minutes.
I don’t know why South Federal Way to Fife takes so long or if I’m counting wrong?
WL, there will be a ferry at the recently discovered swamp, so southbounds have to wait for northbounds to deboard.
I thought Seattleites just passed I-135 to raise $4 billion through bonds for housing. This levy appears to replace an expiring levy but at 3X the cost.
DT: no, I-135 included almost no funding; it requires the city to provide a bit of staff.
IIRC I -135 required the city to provide $750,000 for salaries, benefits and office space for staff (not sure if staff are I-135’s sponsors). It also allowed this small group to issue up to $4 billion in municipal bonds to spend how they wish. Does the city have to authorize the bonds? If so why wouldn’t Harrell just fund his housing initiative through I-135? Why dueling levies?
I-135 may authorize the bonds, but you still can’t issue them without a revenue stream to pay them back. As you have said many times, the city does not have money in its general fund to cover this. So, actually implementing I-135 requires a separate levy. I believe this was always the plan, although many voters may not have realized this.
Initiatives can’t raise bonds, so it did what it could: told the city voters want public housing, and required the city to set up an agency for one year to get it started. The city will have to do the rest, or it will dissolve.
I-135 was passed by voters without any sort of price tag…. and that’s why it did pass. Add a 4 billion bond to it and it’s likely not going to pass.
What Harrell is proposing is a 970 million dollar levy for low income housing that basically cuts off I-135 at the pass. Seattle voters get a “cheap out” vote on housing and let I-135 quietly die out. McCoy and I-135 crew are no match for a polished political pro like Harrell. I believe this power play was in the works even before I-135 passed…. Well played, Mr. Mayor, well played.
What I’d like to know is what is the average annual property tax increase for the average apartment unit for Harrell’s levy? Something like $300 a year? Anybody here believe that every renter in city isn’t going to pick up the tab? I’m guessing $900 for you home owners?
For 970 million the preposed levy adds 3000 units of housing over 7 years. That’s what? 325k a unit? For one bigger new apartment building a year? Why even bother?
“I-135 may authorize the bonds, but you still can’t issue them without a revenue stream to pay them back. As you have said many times, the city does not have money in its general fund to cover this. So, actually implementing I-135 requires a separate levy. I believe this was always the plan, although many voters may not have realized this.”
The promise in I-135 was that the rental stream from the completed projects would cover the bond payments, which is why the initiative covered AMI up to 120%, which is over $130,000/year in Seatle.
Few of us believed that. Public construction is usually 30% more expensive than private construction, and most private developers will admit market rate tenants don’t like to live in public projects with tenants below 80% AMI, which is why they prefer the fee in lieu of. Plus rarely are public affordable housing projects in a neighborhood in which someone with a 100% to 120% AMI would want to live since that person has between $2900 and $3200/mo. to spend on housing at 30% of gross income, even if living alone, and the first rule of building affordable housing is start with affordable land.
There are two basic types of municipal bonds: 1. those secured by the project or asset itself; or 2. general obligation municipal bonds backed by the city or state. Very few investors want municipal bonds secured by the project (unless you are talking about Puerto Rico or a jurisdiction that has a chance of bankruptcy), or want to repossess a rundown affordable housing project secured by bonds.
Although municipal bonds carry a lower interest rate because the income is tax free, municipal bonds are not the bonds your grandparents bought and held onto until maturity. Today these bonds are sold and bought many times during their lives, usually out of mutual funds. Right now, with higher interest rates and concern about banks and development in general, municipal bonds are selling for less than maturity (yield) more than usual. If you own older municipal bonds issued with very low interest rates the yield (difference between value at maturity and sale rate) is quite high.
It always seemed to me kind of silly (or Seattle-like) to me to pass an initiative that funded offices and salaries for one year for three unsophisticated initiative backers ($750,000 so generous for three) who would then get into the development game for a profit in one of the worst markets in a long time, because it is the profit that will apparently pay off the bonds. The big difference between public and private housing is if the private developer doesn’t make a profit his investors lose their investment and never use him/her again, whereas for public housing that never meets their promises no one loses their jobs, the taxpayers just have to cover the shortfall. Probably affordable and supportive housing have failed to meet their promises and goals for their funding more than any other industry in this area I can think of.
I think Tacomee is correct: no way was Harrell going to let some half ass group of three obligate the city for up to $4 billion in bonds, and asdf2 is correct the city does not have the money to pay off those bonds — which definitely would have been general obligation bonds — out of its general or operating accounts. Just the cost and legal machinery to sell $1 billion let alone $4 billion in municipal bonds, even if general obligation, in this market is a very expensive and sophisticated act, but even harder is building housing that creates a long stream of profit to sell off the bonds. No private investor would even invest in this scheme.
DSTT2 and now this move prove Harrell is more hard ball than some think, and he isn’t all dewy eyed about progressive issues and claims, and knows money does not grow on trees and next budget cycle he is looking at some painful cuts. Tacomee is likely right: Harrell never planned for I-135 to usurp his control over the money or development but didn’t have to tell the voters that. Let Seatle voters believe Santa came early. Let the three unsophisticated staff put together a billion-dollar bond offer secured by the development itself out of their one-year leased offices. Just the underwriting fee is unaffordable.
It might be tricky telling those who voted for I-135 that in one year the offices and salaries for three staff will end and I-135 will fade away , and it might be tricky for Harrell telling voters Harrell’s $970 million housing levy won’t be on top of bonds issued under I-135 so they vote for the $970 million levy, otherwise there won’t be any public funding for affordable housing.
If there is this much intrigue over $970 million for an affordable housing levy I wouldn’t get my hopes up for a 4th Ave. station that Seattle will have to pay for.
“the first rule of building affordable housing is start with affordable land.”
But if we don’t have affordable land, we need to build the housing anyway. Leaving hundreds of thousands of people cost-burdened with housing or unable to find housing is unacceptable. Pushing people out to isolated unwalkable transit-poor suburbs that refuse to upzone is unacceptable too.
I-135 is fundamentally a jobs program for someone. A few people will make money and study it and then it will disappear.
“the first rule of building affordable housing is start with affordable land.”
“But if we don’t have affordable land, we need to build the housing anyway. Leaving hundreds of thousands of people cost-burdened with housing or unable to find housing is unacceptable. Pushing people out to isolated unwalkable transit-poor suburbs that refuse to upzone is unacceptable too.”
Um, I thought the plan on this blog was to upzone the ” isolated unwalkable transit-poor suburbs”. Upzoning them won’t solve their isolation or poor transit, not with current budgets, and per sf that is the most expensive land in the region other than maybe downtown Bellevue except downtown Bellevue has a 660′ height limit with no yard setbacks while eastside SFH zones have a 30′ height limit with large yard setbacks.
I am not saying there is free land (unless publicly owned like parks) in this three-county region, but some areas like Laurelhurst or Capitol Hill have much higher land prices than say S. Seattle or the RV. If you look at the eastside affordable housing organization ARCH, they build or buy affordable housing in less expensive areas like Renton or Kent or SeaTac etc. near good transit, which is what King Co. is doing with its distressed hotel plan. King Co. is not buying the Sheraton in downtown Seattle but is buying older hotels on Aurora. Why? More units per dollar.
One big difference is Seattle sees affordable housing as permanent housing (Harrell just wants them off the street and out of the parks). The tenant will live there forever, not unlike Medicaid for the elderly, and has no obligation to increase their retained wage-earning capacity or contribute more to rent or ideally to move to unsubsidized housing.
The eastside believes this approach is not affordable, and although some think it is more equitable the fact is with the same funding it serves fewer poor residents and almost becomes a lottery, especially when it comes to congregate shelters as the first step in the migration. The eastside also believes these hotels or complexes become almost unlivable for those who do want to improve their lives and AMI and move onto non-affordable housing if they house those who have no obligation to try. Some of these hotels become prisons, especially for women and children.
ARCH sees affordable housing as transitional housing , because otherwise the system clogs, at least for those who have some hope of increasing their residual wage-earning capacity and working. I mean, who doesn’t want to live in non-subsidized market rate housing, but you have to work if you want that. If ARCH can purchase or build 50% more units in Kent or Renton than it can in west Bellevue or truly foolishly areas like Beaux Arts because you know the builders are not going to build subsidized housing in these expensive residential zones even if upzoned, and the builders have been brutally honest about that, and transit is good near the subsidized TRANSITIONAL housing, that is where it is built.
Upzoning the expensive SFH zones makes almost no sense if creating affordable housing is the goal. It is privilege anger, as Tacomee has pointed out, mainly by college educated white progressives at The Urbanist or The Stranger who are angry at a city that is more expensive than they can afford or believe they are entitled to, especially if you want to live in north white popular Seattle neighborhoods or God forbid share housing.
Under most circumstances, edge cities like Bellevue and suburbs like Mercer Island are content to leave the tough jobs like public health and social services to the big daddy city. This causes problems because the biggest city is saddled with paying for all the problems of the entire region.
Under a good regional governance scheme, the suburbs and edge cities are required to chip in. In the case of housing, this means building some housing units.
Are people calling for all of wealthy areas specifically to be up-zoned? Maybe as a way to avoid gentrification, and not a particularly smart proposal, I agree… What I have seen much more of is calls to raise the baseline, minimum density of all areas. Which reduces the chance that all building is concentrated in certain areas, which leads to “catastrophic money” as Jane Jacobs would call it, which upturns neighborhoods.
Perhaps some people are calling for density near Link stops, which makes sense given that Link provides high-quality and high-capacity transit and costs a fortune… This would be classified as making good on our investment.
> Upzoning the expensive SFH zones makes almost no sense if creating affordable housing is the goal. It is privilege anger, as Tacomee has pointed out, mainly by college educated white progressives at The Urbanist or The Stranger who are angry at a city that is more expensive than they can afford or believe they are entitled to, especially if you want to live in north white popular Seattle neighborhoods or God forbid share housing.
I don’t quite follow you then, is the plan to only upzone poor SFH areas or upzone even further the few multi family zone areas? This logic has been followed before and is exactly why the new upzonings are purposefully also in richer neighborhoods as well not only in poor ones. Either that or one comes to the ‘mistaken’ conclusion to never upzone anywhere and only build single family homes further and further out.
Plus the upzonings in the single family homes are not even that large. We are talking about going from like 1~2 story houses to 3 story townhouses and adus — not 5~7 story apartments on even block. That has mainly been relegated to commercial corridors only.
“Either that or one comes to the ‘mistaken’ conclusion to never upzone anywhere and only build single family homes further and further out.
“Plus the upzonings in the single family homes are not even that large. We are talking about going from like 1~2 story houses to 3 story townhouses and adus — not 5~7 story apartments on even block. That has mainly been relegated to commercial corridors only.”
WL, you are correct in point No. 2 above. The upzones of the SFH zone, no matter how affluent, do not create ANY additional GFA. The regulatory limits for height, yard setbacks, lot coverage (impervious surface limits), and gross floor area to lot area ratio (GFAR), are the same for a SFH or two-plex or three-plex. I don’t think a lot of folks on this blog understand this. You might be allowing a new use (multi-family) in the zone but the regulatory limits stay the same.
Total maximum GFA is the same either way. For example, for a city like MI that allows a DADU/ADU on any residential lot, although the owner must live onsite and the GFA of the DADU/ADU counts against the maximum GFA to lot area ratio, you go from a SFH plus DADU up to 900 sf to a three-plex with the same total GFAR, PLUS more or the same onsite covered parking. The upzones for most areas just won’t create much additional housing which is measured by the number of bedrooms, but will increase overall costs because each unit must have its own kitchen, bathroom, living area etc. which is why DADU’s are so expensive to build.
Since in zones like MI total GFAR is limited to 40% of lot area, each sf of housing is very expensive, because 60% of the lot is vegetated. So this will be the least affordable housing of all, whether a SFH, SFH + DADU, or three plex, because no matter what total GFAR will be 40% no matter how you slice it, but you are paying for the other 60% of lot area.
Plus these new dwellings will likely not be rentals.
With regard to your first point, upzoning will not change the existing zoning in other areas of the county. For example, upzoning SFH zones on MI will not negate the ability of a developer in Issaquah or Ravensdale or North Bend or Snoqualmie to build SFH or multi-plexes on land “further and further out” because that land is already zoned for residential development.
Right now the housing bills are struggling in Olympia because the builders, realtors and phony organizations like Sightline are opposing any affordability mandates for the upzones, which the smaller cities are insisting on if they must upzone, and progressive legislators find themselves in a box because they took the campaign donations but feel it would not look good if the upzoning bills have no affordability mandates (meanwhile Realtors are apoplectic about a bill to create a progressive REET tax to fund affordable housing, and builders are in despair because their main bill, the ability to split any SFH lot into two without any affordable mandates, died).
So yes, my approach is Seattle’s approach to UGA’s because these multi-family zones have lots large enough to pencil out and scale, the housing will be rental, the regulatory limits maximize lot use because there are no yard setbacks and the buildings can be quite tall, cities can use additional height to incentivize affordable housing set asides or a fee in lieu of which is not available in the SFH zones, it is easier to build a mix of studio, one, two and three bedroom units, and generally these lots are near walkable retail and transit so they can have lower parking minimums.
“The upzones of the SFH zone, no matter how affluent, do not create ANY additional GFA. ”
I’m not sure why you keep making this same false assertion. Is there some caveat that you’re leaving out?
“The upzones of the SFH zone, no matter how affluent, do not create ANY additional GFA. ”
“I’m not sure why you keep making this same false assertion. Is there some caveat that you’re leaving out?”
Tisgwm, can you explain how an “upzone” allowing an additional use in the SFH zone (tri-plex) that maintains the same regulatory limits for height, yard setbacks, parking, lot coverage (impervious surface limits), and GFAR available to a SFH will INCREASE total GFA allowed under those regulatory limits?
You make the same mistake many others do. You confuse number of dwelling units with total maximum GFA. If the total “volume” of the structure(s) on a lot is the same no matter what the use is, which effectively is what a GFAR limit is because most regulatory limits are two dimensional but the actual construction is three dimensional, how do you increase total GFA? You don’t.
You either have a SFH that equals 40% of lot area, or a SFH and DADU that combined equal 40% of lot area, or a tri-plex that equals 40% of lot area. The use does not affect the maximum GFAR allowed. Total GFAR is 40% no matter how many structures are on the lot. All more legal dwellings does is increase the amount of allowed GFA necessary for three kitchens, three living rooms, and a bathroom for each unit.
The fact you don’t understand this tells me why most others don’t understand this. You think more “dwellings” means more total allowed GFA. It doesn’t. Every use from SFH to SFH+ DADU to three-plex to fifty-plex gets the same total combined GFAR per lot.
I believe the I-135 staff could bring in a couple of retired builders/developers, target a piece of land already owned by the City and build some “mixed income units” that come sorta close to penciling out against at the payments. LIHI actually does this sort of thing now. It’s possible to build a couple hundred units of lower income housing and break the bank if you’re smart about it.
But Tiffani McCoy isn’t smart about it. I fully expect the I-135 staff to plan to build something on Capital Hill or Wallingford that costs a million dollars a unit, some crazy timber frame green building with 14 ft tall ceilings or gawd-knows-what. It’s all make believe after all.
I’m guessing Seattle is currently turning a corner and things are getting better. The tech layoffs are a big help. Hopefully tech can move out of it’s West Coast ghetto and go someplace new. A cooling economy and lower population is just what the doctor ordered for Seattle.
Tacomee, if Harrell won’t agree to allow the city to guarantee the municipal bonds they won’t sell and Tiffany is not building anything. No one is buying municipal bonds in this market anyway, let alone municipal bonds guaranteed by some un yet built affordable housing project based out of a three-person office in Seattle with a one-year lease in a very challenging market. Just the expense and legal and regulatory requirements of underwriting and issuing and insuring municipal bonds is a big deal.
I think you and asdf2 hit the nail on the head first time around: Harrell always saw I-135 as a joke because the proponents could never sell the municipal bonds if not guaranteed by his city. My guess is the lease on the office space is one year because that is how long I-135 obligated the city to pay for office space.
Sorry, but I have explained this on a previous thread and therefore I really don’t feel compelled to go through the exercise again. The issue here is that you seem locked in on MI’s zoning codes and regs. Those are not universal in nature. I puchased a home in a SFH in Edmonds 20 years ago. My parcel has been upzoned twice during the required periodic comp plan updates. I can now create a whole lot more total GFA on this same half-acre parcel as a result of those changes.
Sorry, but I have explained this on a previous thread and therefore I really don’t feel compelled to go through the exercise again. The issue here is that you seem locked in on MI’s zoning codes and regs. Those are not universal in nature. I puchased a home in a SFH in Edmonds 20 years ago. My parcel has been upzoned twice during the required periodic comp plan updates. I can now create a whole lot more total GFA on this same half-acre parcel as a result of those changes.”
Well no shit Tisgwm, if you increase the regulatory limits for a SFH lot you can build more GFA, or lower minimum lot sizes to subdivide so you can create additional lots.
Use zoning is different than regulatory zoning is different than minimum lot size zoning. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about MI, Bellevue, Issaquah or any city. A different use does not change the applicable regulatory limits THAT DETERMINE TOTAL GFA AND GFAR on these SFH lots. You take lot size, maximum GFAR (which ranges from around 40% on MI to 45% in Bellevue to 50% in parts of Seattle due to small lot sizes) and no matter how many slices you make (dwellings) it still must not exceed the same GFAR.
Increasing regulatory limits or requiring lower minimum lots sizes isn’t in any of the current upzoning bills before the legislature now that the bill to allow a second SFH on any residential lot has died. You are confusing subdividing lots, and minimum lot sizes, with regulatory limits per lot. But like I stated, lowering minimum lots sizes is not part of HB 1110, which is the only bill that would allow three-plexes or four-plexes.
Yes, different cities have different regulatory limits that in the end result in different maximum GFAR. If HB 1110 passes as written a SFH, SFH + DADU, three-plex, four-plex, fifty-plex will have to meet that same GFAR limit for each city, including Edmonds.
“You are confusing subdividing lots, and minimum lot sizes, with regulatory limits per lot.”
Ah, so here come all the caveats Boy, that’s a lot of words in your reply to basically finally admit that your assertion is incorrect.
I’m not confused about anything of this actually. Besides my own property here in WA, I also have rental properties in two other states. So, yeah, I’m quite up to speed on land use and zoning matters in areas where I have a vested interest.
So by your rationale I guess I’m to conclude that my parcel here with my SFH sitting on it has indeed not been “upzoned” per your very restricted definition. Perhaps you could explain then as to what you actually mean by upzoning in this very limited definition you’ve created.
For me, it’s pretty straightforward. If my property in an urban low density residential use class gets changed from R-9600 minimum lot size to R-7200, that’s an upzone in my view. If my property gets bumped up a use class from urban low density residential use to urban medium density residential use, that’s an upzone. If my property gets bumped up from that use class of urban medium density residential use (LDMR) to urban high density residential use (MR), that’s an upzone as well. So I ask again, what is your definition of a residential upzone?
You may not be aware of this, but Snohomish County does not have an exclusive SFH zone today in its land use and zoning scheme as it relates to its urban low density residential use classification. There are currently just three zoning types in this use classification: R-9600, R-8400, and R-7200. Within this use classification and three zoning designations, there are six types of improvements that are permitted: townhouses, cottage housing, duplexes, single-family attached houses, single-family detached houses and planned residential developments (which allow for a variety of differing housing types with density bonuses). Alas, I will reiterate my previous word of caution: Mercer Island’s current land use and zoning scheme is far from a universal type of thing.
“Use zoning is different than regulatory zoning is different than minimum lot size zoning. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about MI, Bellevue, Issaquah or any city. A different use does not change the applicable regulatory limits THAT DETERMINE TOTAL GFA AND GFAR on these SFH lots.”
The statements above indicate to me that YOUR confusion stems from only understanding urban low density residential use in terms of “exclusive SFH lots”. Again, that scheme of residential zoning does not exist within unincorporated SnoCo. Within the three zones that fall within this lowest density use classification, the type of improvement built on the parcel determines which bulk regs apply. Thus, the last part of your reply above, i.e., “a different use does not change the applicable regulatory limits that determine GFA…”, is also incorrect insofar as SnoCo’s development code is concerned.
Finally, getting back to your original assertion, i.e., that “the upzones of the SFH zone, no matter how affluent, do not create ANY additional GFA”, I’ll provide you with one final real world scenario that illustrates the fallacy with your argument, again right here in SnoCo using my own property as an example. I’ll even stick with the very restrictive constraint stipulated in your “no shit Tlsgwm” comment about subdividing a parcel since even that’s not necessary to illustrate the inaccuracy of your assertion. Today I could simply build (or convert my structure to) a duplex to add significant additional GFA on my lot. That would be fairly easy to do actually, though the benefit to me financially would be pretty limited. At the other end of the spectrum, a more ambitious property owner/developer could even build a modest multifamily building, as long as the site plan complied with the various bulk regs, parking requirements and design standards. In both cases no subdivision of the existing lot would be needed.
One final point. My original comment had nothing to do with the legislation you’ve referenced. It was simply meant to counter the claim that upzoning urban low density residential parcels doesn’t create additional GFA, which was your original assertion. That just isn’t the case with other real-world zoning schemes beyond the one that’s in place in your own community, as I have attempted to explain in this admittedly lengthy reply. (The discussion about ADUs, DADUs, 3+2s, etc. isn’t particularly germane to my central point here and thus was intentionally left out of my replies.)
Link to Snohomish County’s Unified Development Code:
There are no caveats Tisgwm. The issue remains the same, and was a point I was making about the upzoning bills. To make it easier let’s look at your property in unincorporated SnoCo, which sounds like it had all three upzones.
1. Lowering of minimum lot sizes. It sounds like the minimum lot size in order to subdivide was lowered for your lot/zone. This allows more houses (and of course property owners make more money, especially if the land is vacant if it can be subdivided) but does not increase total lot GFA.
For example, if I have a lot that is 10,000 sf and that is the minimum lot size for my zone, and the regulatory limits effectively limit me to 40% GFA of lot area, I could build a 4000 sf house. If I subdivide into two lots I could build two house, each 2000 sf. (Ordinarily the numbers are not so clean, and things like access roads and easements are deducted from the total lot area in order to subdivide so you always need more total lot area than the minimum). At the same time, you now need two kitchens, and maybe more bathrooms, and a second garage, so the number of bedrooms goes down, but the point is lowering minimum lot size by itself does not increase total GFAR (GFA to lot area ratio). It probably makes sense on a half-acre lot in an urbanizing area with fewer kids because no one would build a SFH that large, but less and less sense as lots get smaller because the houses become uneconomical if too small.
2. Change in Use. You mention unincorporated SnoCo does not have a true SFH zone. Most areas don’t have an exclusive SFH zone unless they are a HOA (which are exempt from the upzoning bills, and some areas like Mill Creek are 100% HOA). Nearly every city on the eastside allows an ADU or DADU as a matter of right on a SFH lot. The question is whether that ADU/DADU gets additional GFA above the lot maximum allowed for a SFH.
But again the change in use alone does not change GFAR. For example, Bellevue does not allow DADU’s. If state bills require Bellevue to permit DADU’s the GFA for the DADU will come out of the total GFA allowed for the lot. Since many of Bellevue’s newer houses are built to their maximum GFAR a DADU would not be possible because there is no left over GFAR.
3. Increases in regulatory limits. You also suggest regulatory limits have been increased in your zone, maybe by density bonuses. But density bonuses are simply an upzone in the regulatory limits targeted towards use, but rare. Some cities have them. MI in 2017 allowed an additional 5% GFAR for an ADU/DADU, which was an upzone of regulatory limits, but not a change of use since ADU/DADU’s were already an allowed use. Seattle when it passed its recent upzone allowed three separate dwellings per SFH lot but did not allow density bonuses. Instead IIRC the agreement was total lot GFAR would be limited to 50%, whether for a SFH or three separate dwellings. The problem I have with that approach is around at 45% GFAR a SFH begins to become a McMansion, out of scale with its lot and a SFH zone. But that is just my personal opinion.
The only way to increase total GFAR on a lot is to change the regulatory limits for height, lot coverage (impervious surface limits), yard setbacks, and in some cities GFAR, no matter what uses are allowed. You could allow office towers in MI’s residential zone and it would still equal 40% of lot area.
The bills in Olympia like Seattle’s last upzone don’t do that, even the lot splitting bill. They just allow different uses or a subdivision in a “SFH” zone, and right now it looks like the bills will allow cities to choose among a list of different uses from SFH to ADU/DADU’s to duplexes to tri-plexes to permit, but with the same total GFAR for any combination.
These are permissive bills, and don’t require a property owner to build any of the additional uses, and as noted above in cases in which the house already meets total GFAR none of these additional uses will be allowed, and in many eastside zones the GFAR necessary for an ADU/DADU, duplex or tri-plex is not nearly as valuable as the GFA for the main house so don’t expect an explosion of these additional uses, especially if the property owner is required to live onsite. These kinds of bills work better with vacant or undeveloped land like most of your lot, which incentivizes sprawl.
Ironically the smaller cities have demanded that if required to upzone some of the new dwellings have affordability mandates (and not the phony 80% AMI affordable housing) which the realtors and Master Builders Assoc. is vehemently opposing which is causing cracks in their new relationship. After all, if just building more market rate housing will lower housing costs, as the realtors and MBA claim, why worry about a 60% affordability mandate when prices will come down anyway? The smaller cities have also been successful in maintaining parking minimums (in some cases more than a SFH because the upzoned lot will have more residents), because…drum roll…these smaller cities and neighborhoods like mine have no transit, and Metro can’t serve them with its budget.
Right now the bills in Olympia, depending on the population of a city, would require a city to allow either one or two additional dwellings per SFH lot, but the city is not required to change its regulatory limits. For Seattle, the total number of dwellings would be three, and for a city the size of MI total dwellings would be two, which is exactly what they are today in the respective cities.
Where builders will take advantage of these new “upzoning” bills is another issue for another post, but not where many think they will (think vacant land like yours because vacant land is always the cheapest to develop), which is why gentrification is such a big issue before King Co.’s affordable housing subcommittee trying to implement last year’s ESB 1120 bill. Whether Seattleites want to admit it or not, Black Seattleites are being forced out of the city, and areas like The Central Dist. and Columbia City have gone from around 85% Black to 15% with gentrification (and because the most affordable housing for extended families is older SFH’s in marginal areas), and ESB 1220 without much direction directs cities and counties to stop that, but no one knows how, and the builders and realtors don’t care.
ESB 1220, not 1120.
Thought I’d pass this along to the gang here….
Julie Timm recently participated in a panel discussion hosted by the TransitCenter in NYC about the challenges facing transit systems in the US on several fronts. The other panelists were Darryl Haley, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager, Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority/Metro and Robert Powers, General Manager, Bay Area Rapid Transit.
The webinar was recorded and posted on their site. (It’s just under an hour in length and unfortunately I don’t believe a transcript is available. )
Building to operating?
SHTF comes to mind. 💩 (egads)
Mike, my classmate, have you ever ridden the Roosevelt Island Tram in NYC? I did a few times during my residency in E. Harlem while in college.
Sound Transit should wrap up and repackage ST3, because there is no chance that it will happen as proposed.
One foot in the grave is how I feel nowadays.
Maybe the GRB back in October killed everyone.
I just know that everyone got stupid all of a sudden in Seattle.
What class were we in?
ST1 and 2 is an essential transit trunk to provide a baseline of mobility in the region, like we should have had with Forward Thrust. WSBLE was going to serve the western half of Seattle. The representative alignment in the ballot measure was mediocre, but we agreed to it. All the changes since then have made it worse, to the point that I now wonder if it’s worth it. The specific problems I have with it are the long train-to-train transfers downtown, and the Ballard 14th alternative. This didn’t start suddenly last year; it has been eroding for the past five or six years. What do you mean by “repackaging ST3”?
There are good things in ST3: the short extensions Redmond Tech-Redmond Downtown and KDM-Federal Way that complete the ST2 vision, the three Stride lines, and 130th and Graham infill stations.
Briar (my nickname) from Mariner H.S.
Please be so kind as to not discuss what I did strike year, it’s stupidly embarrassing.
The TBD is one of my ideas to penitent for it.
Hawks Prairie is some screwy…
On the real topic at hand…
The problem is that ST3 lost its relevance due to a dramatically different business environment post-pandemic.
I really don’t know where the money is going to come from. Amazon *did* recommit to staying in Seattle, but (not going to rub in Boeing, though I believe company town comes to mind) the feds are iffy, especially with…
Okay, I brought up the Roosevelt Island Tram to mention that technology would be a better fit than a bathyscape tunnel. The group that proposed a 🚡 didn’t get the scale right 🚠.
And hiring someone who’s ill-knowledgeable about fixed guideway to run Sound Transit.
The elite trolls are really getting on my patience.
It wasn’t me; I went to Bellevue HS and UW.
I’m curious, how would people here increase transit use in their neighborhoods without increasing frequency? If the ability to increase frequency was off the table, and you were tasked with trying to increase your neighborhood’s transit usage, what would you do? And by increasing usage, I don’t mean trying to get people who regularly take transit, to take it even more often, rather, trying to get people who rarely take transit, to take it more often.
That’s the default position we’re in: trying to get people to use the transit network as is. It’s difficult if the line isn’t at least every 15 minutes. Drivers aren’t used to waiting, and they want to pack their usual number of activities in the day.
I’ve had some successes. One friend and I started going to the Ballard farmers’ market on Sundays from southwest Capitol Hill. He drove everywhere so the first few times we drove. Then I convinced him to take the bus with me, and he was impressed that it was easier than he thought, and he liked not having to circle for a parking space or pay for parking. Another friend in Rainier View I convinced to take Link whenever he goes downtown.
When my partner and I moved in together in 2010 he had a van and drove everywhere. It started needing expensive repairs, and I suggested he get rid of it and take transit like I do. He started taking the bus from southwest Capitol Hill to his Kent warehouse jpb, to classes at Shoreline and Bellevue College, etc, and was fine with that. He was glad to eliminate the $250/month parking fee. Zipcar was around then so we used it for large loads or an occasional excursion.
His brother came over from Spain last year for an internship. My partner gave him a month’s ORCA pass, and I took him to see potential neighborhoods he might want to live in in southeast Seattle and Renton, and all three of us went to downtown Bellevue to visit the park and see the mall and the dowtnown and have lunch at Maggiano’s. He got an interim warehouse job in Kent and took the bus there. He bought a folding bike for last-mile access. His internship was at a farm in central Washington so he needed to get a car, but after looking for one, his boss said he had an extra car and let him use it. They ended up going all over the state giving seminars on regenerative agriculture, so they needed a car for that. He’s American but had grown up in the UK and settled in Granada, Spain, so he wasn’t adverse to using transit. Still, by setting him up for it and showing him the less-comprehensive Pugetopolis network is still usable, he adopted transit here when maybe he wouldn’t have otherwise.
Of course, it’s easiest when you live next to downtown where the most frequent routes are and you can get a route to anywhere. It would be a lot harder in Kingsgate or Crossroads or somewhere.
As a counter-example, I’ve worked in a few placed in north Seattle (Ballard, Licton Springs, northeast Seattle). All of them had colleagues from Lynnwood and south Everett. I couldn’t convince them to commute by transit because it wasn’t realistic: the express routes bypassed Northgate, the 44 is slow, and it would have taken an hour or two each way. Some of them prefer to drive, while others have taken transit in the past and would take it if it weren’t so bad. Now that Lynnwood Link will open soon, it will be a lot easier to convince them.
Traffic congestion, tolling downtown, increasing parking rates all push people to transit. Providing more transit lanes and traffic light priority shorten travel times and increase reliability, it also allows to reallocate bus hours to more frequency as you need fewer time for the bus to reach its destination.
Assuming I’m included in that invitation:
I live near MAX green line Lents /Foster Road station. 3/4 of the neighborhood has no safe or time efficient way to get to the station due to the freeway. Several blocks have been redeveloped into fairly high density housing, but on the opposite side of the freeway the area is in terrible shape.
So I would add more access points to the bike path that crosses Foster/Woodstock, and try to get pedestrian bridges over the freeway ramps so people can safely get to the station from the east side of the freeway.
The full city block bounded by SE 96th, 96th, Woodstock and Foster could make a good park and ride lot. It’s under the freeway overpass and owned by ODOT for freeway use so nothing else is even allowed there. Right now it’s just a pile of anti-homeless boulders.
The connection between MAX and bus#9 on Powell going west is too complicated and dangerous for the same reasons. Getting a westbound bus stop close to the station would be difficult but not impossible.
The Fuller Road park and ride lot needs something else there. It’s never been used by many people and should therefore have half its land devoted to something that’s actually useful.
Something like the SoundTransit regional express routes could probably be popular here.
I think I would try a targeted educational mail campaign, introducing them to the the public bus or buses in their community. I live in a multifamily neighborhood, and not only do I rarely see anyone in my neighborhood waiting for our only bus one block away, I have a suspicion the vast majority of residents couldn’t name the route number of the bus. So, that’s why I would first try an educational campaign targeted to specific neighborhoods. With my neighborhood, it would be educating residents what route number runs nearby, and on what streets, where it goes, what popular destinations are on or near its route, and what other buses it connects to, and where they go. I might also compare the cost of a bus ride, or two bus rides, against a car+paid parking trips, or Uber trips.
“I think I would try a targeted educational mail campaign, introducing them to the public bus or buses in their community.”
“With my neighborhood, it would be educating residents what route number runs nearby, and on what streets, where it goes, what popular destinations are on or near its route, and what other buses it connects to, and where they go.”
“I might also compare the cost of a bus ride, or two bus rides, against a car+paid parking trips, or Uber trips.”
Putting aside the fact most eastsiders I know throw glossy mailers, especially from King Co., in the recycle bin without reading it, maybe they already know. The rub is the part, “and what other buses it connects to”.
Folks who live in multi-family housing, at least on the eastside, usually have a free parking space, and know parking is free on the eastside, so they avoid downtown Seattle. They have kids, need to carry things, be someplace at a time certain, don’t like to be in the dark or rain alone or with kids, don’t like first/last mile access and on the eastside the chances your bus (one, two or three seats) takes you to where you are going are remote, don’t like creepy men on the bus, and long ago decided like their cell phone a car is a necessary monthly expense they are willing to pay.
They have ridden the bus before, and some eastside work commuters to downtown Seattle use to ride it every day so they know it well. “Their” bus isn’t a secret. It just doesn’t fit their lifestyle and needs and they already own a car.
A mistake some make is thinking someone on the eastside living in multi-family housing is somehow different, or wants different things than someone living in a SFH in Clyde Hill. They want the same things and have the same trip obligations; they just can’t afford a SFH. Unless you can get them to get rid of their car, on the eastside with free parking, they are not walking past their car to walk to a bus to catch a transfer to someplace that will leave them after a transfer or two several blocks from where they are going when blocks on the eastside are loooooong, on their first trip of the day with two, three or four destinations after that.
Martin at least admits what it takes to make folks ride transit. Very expensive and limited parking, maybe a toll or congestion tax, reducing lanes to manufacture congestion, all things Seattle has tried, except post pandemic Harrell and the DSA will tell you all those tricks did is convince folks to not come downtown (or just use Uber) which will kill Seattle’s tax base and revenue, Uber is killing urban transit, and reallocate those taxes to residential properties. If that is the goal well done.
Daniel, I first asked, if you were tasked with trying to increase your neighborhood’s transit usage, what would you do? You gave a list of reasons why it can’t done. If you my employee at Metro, and that’s what you came back to me with, I would be very disappointed, to the point it may even affect your future at Metro. Do you want to try again? Daniel, we want to increase transit usage on all of Mercer Island. I’d like to hear your ideas.
“Daniel, we want to increase transit usage on all of Mercer Island. I’d like to hear your ideas.”
That is funny Sam. There is no intra-Island transit on Mercer Island, and I highly doubt that with driver shortages and budget cuts and Metro’s “equity” paradigm that will change in the future. So yes, I would tell you to save the money for the glossy mailers.
If you can’t get your fellow residents in your eastside multi-family neighborhood to ride transit getting Islanders to ride it — if it even existed — is a waste of money. The 550 and 554 come pretty frequently, but no one is on them because they don’t have to go where those buses go anymore. A lot fewer drive to work as well.
At least Martin was honest and realistic: if you want to have more people ride transit you have to MAKE them ride transit by disadvantaging cars because 99.9% of folks don’t ride transit for fun, which this blog and transit have advocated as its main weapon for decades. It is just that the rise of Bellevue/eastside and WFH have reduced that segment of riders, who are now discretionary riders who demand a much higher level of service before they will take transit, if they will.
If you want more transit ridership focus on areas where folks still have to ride transit, mostly due to income or being essential workers, or some like the UW due to parking shortages (although not U Village).
Your exact question was addressed in the linked article at the top of this thread, “Saving Public Transportation Is Going to Require ‘Fast, Frequent and Reliable’ Service”. The author wrote:
“Cities all over the country are dealing with funding gaps and struggling to figure out how to get riders back. Is it just inevitable that public transportation in the U.S. will eventually collapse and disappear?”
“Vox recently published an article that argues that’s not necessarily the case. But that doesn’t mean it will be easy to save public transportation. As the article argues, turning things around is going to require politicians and transit authorities to go all-in arguing that public transportation is a necessary service that does more than simply serve underprivileged people who are too poor to afford cars.”
“And if there’s one thing that could actually change people’s minds about public transportation, it’s a city making sure that it actually offers “And if there’s one thing that could actually change people’s minds about public transportation, it’s a city making sure that it actually offers “fast, frequent, and reliable” service. One bus that comes every hour isn’t going to cut it even if it’s a new zero-emission bus that’s free to ride. People have to actually be able to use and depend on buses and trains to get around if they’re going to start using them instead of their cars. As the nonprofit TransitCenter found in 2016, “The two most important factors driving satisfaction with transit are service frequency and travel time.” One bus that comes every hour isn’t going to cut it even if it’s a new zero-emission bus that’s free to ride. People have to actually be able to use and depend on buses and trains to get around if they’re going to start using them instead of their cars. As the nonprofit TransitCenter found in 2016, “The two most important factors driving satisfaction with transit are service frequency and travel time.”
“Unfortunately, simply framing public transportation as an important service doesn’t generally generate a lot of support. But taking a different approach can be much more effective. As Brian Taylor, a professor of urban planning and policy at UCLA, told Vox, “When framed as a social service, transit hasn’t done well securing funding. But when it’s framed as an environmental benefit or as getting people off the road, that can work.” Even if you’d still rather drive, it’s easy to see the benefit of more people using public transit because it means there will be less traffic for you to deal with.”
Personally I think this article has it all wrong. Politicians are not going to prioritize transit when WFH is killing budgets and crime is high. Peak riders rode transit when it had the same or lower levels of service and frequency than today. That is not the reason they are not riding today. They are not riding today because THEY DON’T HAVE TO. The lack of “fast, frequent, and reliable” service, or carbon emissions, or getting people off the road are not the issues, because they are off the road, at home, or driving for their discretionary trips because congestion is low and parking free.
IMO transit is not something you can sell like an ad for a new truck or SUV on TV. People ride transit because they have to, so focus service on them, not spending over $100 billion to run Link to the outer suburbs (which includes WS and Ballard), because if they don’t have to these folks won’t ride transit, and today they don’t have to.
Martin’s ideas were way off the mark. I asked what are some ideas to increase a neighborhood’s transit usage amongst people who rarely ride the bus, without increasing frequency, then he suggested very expensive infrastructure solutions that would increase frequency.
Mass mailings just yet thrown in the garbage. If you want to influence people, you’ll do better by talking about the issue directly with friends and family you hope to influence. Even then, you have find the right time and the right circumstance. The goal here is not to get to ride the bus every time they go anywhere, but to get them to try it once on a particular trip where it makes the most sense. For example, as a alternative to sky high parking rates when attending an event downtown. The bus is also useful for people who like to walk around the city, as it allows you to walk as far as you want, without being constrained by needing to walk back. I suppose Uber does this too, but it’s far more expensive, and if the bus runs frequent service, only minimally faster.
I should have asked my original question differently. Instead of asking how would you increase transit use in your neighborhood, I should have asked how could Metro increase transit ridership in neighborhoods where ridership is very low? And, without increasing frequency, without adding bus lanes and transit priority signals, without hiring more drivers to ensure reliability, etc. I was thinking more along the lines of an tv ad or mailing campaign. It seems like most people here are of the opinion that nothing can be done to get non-transit users to try transit.
> Instead of asking how would you increase transit use in your neighborhood, I should have asked how could Metro increase transit ridership in neighborhoods where ridership is very low? And, without increasing frequency, without adding bus lanes and transit priority signals, without hiring more drivers to ensure reliability, etc. I was thinking more along the lines of an tv ad or mailing campaign. It seems like most people here are of the opinion that nothing can be done to get non-transit users to try transit.
It’s not the lack of knowledge that is really preventing people from using it. Transit agencies do run ad campaigns every once in a while but it’s not really that useful besides when announcing a new route. While adding frequency definitely costs most of money the other two suggestions bus lanes really only costs paint while signal priority costs a bit more but not that much. I spot checked online seems around 10 to 30k per intersection, expensive parts can come from reconfiguring the street though.
> I have a suspicion the vast majority of residents couldn’t name the route number of the bus.
Though to answer your question I have always hoped there would be a better way to display the bus routes for usability. For a concrete example look at Apple Maps versus Google Maps transit view for Seattle. Apple’s includes the Rapidrides while Google’s only includes rail services (prioritizing the streetcar). Obviously one cannot include every bus line as there’s too many but there should be some happy medium between showing literally zero bus routes and displaying all of them. Perhaps some slider with frequency cut offs?
Lastly, I’ve always wondered why existing car traffic data couldn’t be incorporated into the bus reliability/estimates.
Your ideas suggest that you believe the problem is one of lack of information. However, why do you think that is the case? More likely, the problem is that the level of service just does not justify higher usage. However, I would suggest two more concrete things:
1. Similar to what asdf2 suggested, having a personalized outreach campaign where (let’s call them) Metro ambassadors reach out to people in the community (a good start might be those who walk past bus stops) to see if they are willing to spend 5 minutes just discussing their transit usage and travel needs. Other outreach forms are also possible, but as DT pointed out, most people throw out mailers, and personalized spam is creepy.
2. Focus information campaigns at locations where people who might be interested in transit would already go – on the bus, and at bus stops. Provide maps with connection information, and ways to find out more if they choose to. Make it simple, and easy to remember. Encourage people to take pictures of the information on their phones, etc.
However, as someone who lives in a neighborhood with limited transit, now, the problem, in the end, is one of service levels. I use it when it makes sense – as a single traveler who does not own a car, I am willing to make compromises and deal with the slower connections, etc.; when traveling with someone who owns a car, the car is almost always the right choice, unfortunately.
To answer Sam’s question, now that I understand it better, the single most important thing Metro can do to get more people on transit is to make the riders they already have satisfied so that they will organically recommend transit to their friends, rather than having to rely on “ambassadors”. At a minimum, this means setting the trip schedules to something they can operate reliably, without random cancelled trips.
It was more a question based on the low ridership I see in my area of Kirkland, which is multifamily, btw. Now, I could be wrong about my neighborhood’s low ridership. People could be driving to P&R’s and TC’s for all I know. I was speaking more to hardly ever seeing anyone waiting for the route 250 in my neighborhood. Yes, I know in other areas of Kirkland ridership is better. But, my general question is, without Metro having to spend a lot of money on increased frequency, etc., is it possible to lure non-transit users, or very infrequent transit users, into taking the bus more often? If so, what are some ideas to do that?
People that don’t eat Thai food often don’t because they’ve never had it. Transit is the same way.
So I would introduce a Metro bus that travels to different schools for a fun module of bus riding training every few years. I have actually witnessed entire classrooms of kids on buses doing field trips!
I would also give a year-long pass to every 15 year old to use at will.
Then I would begin the training early by having a preschool orca card that plays a tune when touched rather than just a beep.
The results won’t be instant, but as generations age to adulthood they should at least be comfortable riding transit, and perhaps have enough learned positive experiences so it is delightful like a favorite meal or a favorite movie.
I likely subconsciously still equate transit riding with the “fun” I had taking the bus with my aunt from 3-6 years old.
One of the most fun days to take transit is Halloween, when many riders are in costume. I is very entertaining but most transit agencies don’t think to popularize riding on that day.
“you have to MAKE them ride transit by disadvantaging cars because 99.9% of folks don’t ride transit for fun, which this blog and transit have advocated as its main weapon for decades.”
Daniel proves he hasn’t read anything on this web site for the past 20 years.
“you have to MAKE them ride transit by disadvantaging cars because 99.9% of folks don’t ride transit for fun, which this blog and transit have advocated as its main weapon for decades.”
Daniel proves he hasn’t read anything on this web site for the past 20 years.
Nobody here has ever said any such thing. The entire purpose of the web site is to advocate for better transit. Better transit means not as bad as now. Not as bad as now means more riders are likely.
The route 40 is receiving some heavy pushback from the Fremont chamber of commerce
Namely regarding the bus lanes
Sara Nelson’s opposition to these improvements is eyeroll-inducing.
I am curious if SDOT will postpone implementation of changes along Leary and Market if Strauss’ revival of the Leary alignment for the Missing Link gains traction. Could the Missing Link become part of the Route 40 Transit Plus Multimodal Corridor, instead?
Maybe a question better posed to Seattle Bike Blog.
I’d actually be okay with dropping that one north bound protected bike lane since it does currently involve the relocation of the north bound bus stop. This would maintain the 1 bus lane south and 2 general lanes south bound.
Though that probably would not be enough to satisfy Nelson
The NB bike lane was added last year, replacing a NB bus lane. The bike lane is sorely needed – I’m routinely amazed at the bravery of the northbound bikers who mix with general traffic to get to the Fremont Ave bike lanes a couple blocks north.
The car-brained business council need to realize that parking in Fremont is saturated, and so the only way to attract more customers from outside of the neighborhood is to make the bus more reliable. Everyone knows parking in Fremont is difficult – making the bus easier is an easy way to increase foot traffic.
If Nelson is worried about parking, maybe she should tell her co-founder to remove the ecoblocks from the curb space around the Fremont Brewing production facility.
That’s right, these bus lanes aren’t even taking parking – just a general traffic lane.
I rescind my snark, begrudgingly.
> The NB bike lane was added last year, replacing a NB bus lane. The bike lane is sorely needed – I’m routinely amazed at the bravery of the northbound bikers who mix with general traffic to get to the Fremont Ave bike lanes a couple blocks north
Unfortunately I feel trying to implement both bus and bike lanes here will end up with neither.
Currently there’s 54 feet of space on the road.
With viewing from the South facing north:
* 18 feet general lane/bike
* 9 feet south bound
* 9 feet north bound left turn
* 9 feet north bound straight
* 9 feet north bound straight (right)
My current idea is to implement two bus lanes on both sides and have two general lanes going north and south.
[sb bus lane, sb general, sb general, nb left, nb left/straight, nb bus lane/right]
Upsides, it maintains 2 general lanes both north and south. Busses north bound can keep using Fremont N instead of 35th Ave. Bikers can use the bus lanes as the peak volumes are 45 busses per hour and many times are less than that.
Downside is that the general lanes become pretty small at 8 feet especially southbound. More importantly this is probably too small for trucks (assuming they can’t use the bus lane) And of course for bikers this is obviously not as great as a dedicated bike lane. Honestly the road at 54 feet is probably just a tad too small to run 3 lanes north and south.
Alternatively if sticking with 5 lanes maybe have a center turn lane so both north bound and south bound can have 2 lanes and use the remaining space for (admittedly poorer) though still 6 feet bike lane? Though it is a bit compromised for the north bound cars.
I’m not quite sure I like how the busses will all be turning right though, which will conflict with the bikes. One could put the bikes in the middle of the straight/right turn bus lanes https://streetmix.net/-/2121172 with a bike signal to remove the cross over conflict, but I’m not sure I like this idea either.
Check out the Spring 2021 Presentation – slide 18:
SDOT considered a similar format and, like I said, determined that the bike lane is more important than the NB bus lane.
Unfortunately, this is the price you have to pay for not having Oliver in there pushing for more taxes to house people at over $500,000/unit.
I wish we had more people running for office that support bus lanes and bike lanes, without also being uber-progressive on general tax/spend/redistribute issues.
As I see it, there are two ways to reduce the impact of congestion on a bus:
1) Have a BAT or BUS lane.
2) Reduce the number of cars that flow into a shared lane. Basically this means dealing with the congestion at the source.
Sometimes bike lanes — or road diets — can do the latter. For example, consider where Fairview meets Eastlake. It wasn’t too long ago, Eastlake was two lanes heading northbound the whole way (https://goo.gl/maps/bKQBsmkAjFBXN6fA9). They added bike lanes, and took away a lane. This meant that north of the merge point, there are fewer cars. This made the southern part of Eastlake slower, but the northern part faster. Since buses don’t travel along the southern part, this bike lane ended up improving travel time for buses.
Queue jumps often do both. You can see that in this area as well. Fairview is two lanes northbound from Valley to the merge with Eastlake. But this will change. The RapidRide J project creates bus/BAT lanes along much of Fairview. They will end at about Yale. At that point, the bus and cars have to share lanes. But the bus is able to get ahead of all of those cars. Just as importantly, there should be less congestion north of there. The cars will have already been forced into one lane, on both Fairview and Eastlake.
In the case of Fremont, we should take a similar approach — reduce traffic at the source. For northbound Fremont, the traffic comes from over the bridge, or 34th. It is only one lane of traffic from 34th. You could close this off completely, but that would send cars up to 35th (where the buses go). I would make one small change, which is no right-on-red there.
It really isn’t the biggest issue. Most of the traffic comes over the bridge. It comes from three different streets. Westlake will be changed to one general purpose lane, and one bus lane, so that street is covered. Dexter widens from one to two lanes about 1,000 feet south of Westlake (past the point where other streets can add to the congestion). Like 34th, I would probably make a bike/safety improvement, but it wouldn’t change the number of cars going over the bridge very much.
That leaves Nickerson. Nickerson has two lanes of traffic from essentially the college onto the bridge. While it also goes from being one lane to two, there are numerous additional lanes of traffic adding cars along that section. Thus there are plenty of cars using up those two lanes as it approaches the bridge. The two lanes also contain buses, that get stuck when the bridge goes up. Here is a classic example of how a queue jump would help those buses, while also reducing traffic further “upstream”. Just make the middle lane north of Florentia (https://goo.gl/maps/9jxmuhzF5fC2kqMb8) a bus lane. The buses currently has to get over into that lane anyway. The only significant change for cars is that they have to move into that left lane if they are going north. This also allow the buses to move to the front of the bridge when it is up. Thus this is a classic queue-jump, it speeds up the buses that can take advantage of it, but also other buses (like the 40 and 62) that are converging onto Fremont.
This is not part of this project, but it should be added at some point. It will make the 40 and 62 a bit faster, and make the 31/32 a lot faster.
The business opposition may stem from the SDOT use of bus lane on Leary Way NW, North 36th Street, and Westlake Avenue North. What they should have proposed and may have meant to write was BAT or business access and transit lane. Access is needed along all three arterials to parking garages, businesses, and parallel parking.
Note the key scarcity: arterial right of way. The BGT option of Councilmember Strauss will probably be studied; but it would have impacts on business access on Leary Way NW and NW Market Street carries routes 17, 18, 29, 40, and 44; it has bus bulbs and only a few bits of parallel parking. How would the BGT users, bus riders, and shoppers interact in the limited ROW? Capital is another scarcity; it sounds more costly than the baseline SDOT project on Shilshole Avenue NW; it has its own issues.
The SDOT diction is inducing more opposition than it should. SDOT uses the term bus lane when they should use the term BAT lane (business access and transit) for several segments on Route 40 (e.g., Leary Way NW, North 36th Street, and Westlake Avenue North). The lanes should be signed as transit and right turn only. On Leary Way NW, there are parallel parking spaces and garages for condo buildings; on North 36th Street, there is parallel parking; on Westlake Avenue North, there are a few business, condo garages, and east-west streets.
The term BAT lane was developed during the first segment of the Aurora Corridor project in Shoreline in the aughts; it had WSDOT approval; BAT lanes were funded on SR-522; SDOT installed them in Interbay. SDOT needs to clean up its language. The BAT lanes of Shoreline arose from negotiation with their business community. SDOT has bus lanes; see Battery Street approaching Aurora; I doubt they really intended exclusive lanes for the three segments listed above for the Route 40 project.
The PBL on northbound Fremont Avenue North between North 34th and 35th streets would sacrifice a great transfer point for routes 31, 32, 40, and 62; it would be a sad irony for an SDOT transit project to degrade transit in this manner. I have bike through the block many times; I have taken transit there many times. It is not a block for eight-to-eighty cyclists; it is a major transit transfer point.
“The PBL on northbound Fremont Avenue North between North 34th and 35th streets would sacrifice a great transfer point for routes 31, 32, 40, and 62”
This is the same kind of thing as moving CID2 station to North of CID. It’s not as bad because it’s just across a flat street, and transfers between those routes aren’t as common as transfers between Lines 1, 2, and 3.
BAT lanes are egregiously violated throughout King County, except in Shoreline where apparently the City Council has ordered the pollice to enforce them.
The ones on SR 99 through Tukwila, Des Moines and Federal Way are a joke. There’s only one way to keep people out of them, and that’s camera enforcement in every block, with a stiff fines on the car’s owner when one is photographed in violation. Let the owner get the fine from the lunkhead kid or cousin they let drive the car.
The outside lanes on SR-99 in south King County are not BAT lanes; they are HOV lanes. I noted that when the A Line was implemented; I predicted that they would be too full to work well. The BAT lanes in Interbay and on SR-522 in Kenmore seem to work well.
Thanks, eddiew. They are clearly unenforceable, and useless.
Folks, the Bargain Basement Tunnel is coming to Seattle thanks to Dow Constantine’s insatiable hunger to be governor, and it’s a crying shame. The station locations, their accesses, and the ritual avoidance of activity centers makes WSBLE, ELE , and TDLE among the greatest transportation follies in the history of the United States. Read about the Second Avenue Subway in NYC for a tale of “Oh yes, they can start a tunnel when they don’t have the money to finish it.” Right here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Avenue_Subway
It would be best to have a “revote” and trash everything that hasn’t been built already.
Yes, figure out how to keep STRide on I-405 some way, but forget the rest. The thing is in the hands of clueless people who have a completely car-centric notion of transportation and will waste the region’s future on something that will benefit few people.
If Seattle wants great transit City Hall needs to get serious and take some lanes from cars. Sure, people will whine for a while, but most people who actually live in the City can use the bus or Rideshare for most non-heavy shopping trips. When the bus is faster, they’ll quiet down.
The people it would most inconvenience in the long-run are the residents of the outer sub-areas when they come to the City for a sportsball contest. But they elect people who don’t give a fig, so TFB for them.
I know Metro and ST are different agencies, but if I had a magic wand I would unplan the new tunnel and put the money towards maintaining Metro buses, paying their operators better and increasing security around stations. I say this because I was riding the 75 bus a couple weeks ago (I don’t live in Seattle, but visit often) and it broke down, and I ended up talking to the driver. She said that her buses break down often these days and that over the past 2-3 years the job has gotten much worse, to the point of feeling like a “human punching bag.”
It makes me angry that the system as it is is dysfunctional, not very good for either staff or riders, and yet billions of dollars are planned for these dubious new extensions which will actually make things worse for many people! I get that this is down to politics, but that doesn’t make it make any more sense or make it any less of wasteful use of resources.
There is one ST3 funded Link extension with good value, and that’s extending Link to downtown Redmond, rather than ST2’s terminus at Microsoft. Right now, that’s looking to be about it. The Ballard/SLU line could have been also good value, but not the way they’re doing it, spending money on a second tunnel through the downtown core, while cheaping out on good station access in Ballard itself. What Everett and Tacoma need is not Link, but more buses. And also the missing half of the I-5/Ash Way bus ramp to speed up service.
Tom, Executive Constantine announced recently that he will not run for Governor. There must be another explanation.
Constantine would run if Inslee elects to not run again. Personally I think it is time for new blood. Inslee was never the sharpest knife in the drawer. I often think Inslee doesn’t really understand his own proposals and policies others probably draft. Genial though. I remember The Stranger’s headline in the Presidential primary: “Inslee releases climate action plan. Surges to 0.3% in polls”.
It would likely come down to Constantine or Ferguson. I would vote for Constantine. I worry Ferguson is too much of an opportunist and has no executive experience.
DSTT2 and WSBLE would have absolutely zero impact in the election. Who would understand let alone give a rip about CID N/S vs CID/Midtown? Crime, schools, jobs, maybe zoning, business, abortion, maybe guns, race, maybe the environment, would be the major issues, as usual.
Some on this blog wonder why transit riders don’t have a seat at the table. It is because they don’t contribute to campaigns or generate tax revenue (at least transit itself doesn’t). It doesn’t help that around 99% of transit advocates are male, and females determine who becomes President or Governor because they tend to vote together. With WFH a lot fewer “normal” females are riding transit.
After all, who is a transit advocate going to vote for? The R for Governor? Or will the statewide theme be $152 billion is too little to spend on ST when 99% of the voters when they heard that number would think WTF. Then maybe transit would be an issue in the campaign, although not good for Dow since he is chair of the ST Board.
I absolutely do consider transit when choosing who to vote for, but only on local races where it actually matters. For state and national races, I pretty much vote on other issues and ignore transit, as it really matters very little to local transit who the governor or local legislator is. (It definitely does matter on other issues though, so it is still worth the effort to vote).
While larger values play a role, I think the some like me look at the “how” of public decisions.
As a person who supports rational decision making, I raise my eyebrow of concern about the CID N/S episode. It’s not just a transit issue. It’s a bigger issue of how decisions get made.
For a single elected official to push through a non-studied alternative as the preferred after literally 5 years of study screams of serious power manipulation on Constantine’s part. After years of toeing the ST “inconsistent with ST3” line, to suddenly play the card at the 11th hour makes him appear to be an unapologetic and self-serving hypocrite. I no longer trust him about anything.
I agree Al. The DEIS process for DSTT2 was rushed. I think the CID racism campaign caught everyone by surprise, then the $800 million price tag for 4th Ave. S., then Harrell’s and the DSA’s objection to the disruption for a midtown station so at best it would very deep, and then Pierce and SnoCo demanding no more delays and pretty much stating $275 million each was all they would or could contribute left Constantine and the Board in a pickle. If allowed Seattle would debate DSTT2 until 2080.
Even with such short time it was a mistake to argue for interlining because that had no chance and was way outside ST 3 and Seattle’s interests. The fight should have been over better station placement, except no one can up with better station placement the stakeholders will accept and that stays within budget, or even close, and is downtown so it increases capacity. Otherwise subarea contribution would be lost. I still haven’t heard of any stations other than CID N/S that meet all these criteria.
Let’s say that 15-minute climate-change lockdown neighborhoods are a reality. I understand that residents will need permission from the government to leave their quadrant. But, what if we want to leave on something eco-friendly, like a bicycle? Will we still need permission? All of this is happening so fast. I have a lot of questions.
The USA can’t even handle gun control. The idea of “climate change lock-downs” restricting free movement is a complete joke. Except there are people, even on this blog, who think it’s a good idea…. even though it will never happen.
Many environmentalists are big time enemies of both capitalism and democracy. They live in a world where the “great unwashed” burn all of the resources and kill the planet. The world would be better off under some sort of Soviet style system where educated elite get to call all the shots.
Back to ST3….. the majority of posters here support spending huge sums of money for this “train system of the future” while our current under funded bus system craters. Sounds Transit sees no need to serve the “great unwashed” of today.
Where did that straw-man come from? Who exactly is “for” “climate-change lockdowns”? Brent would like us all to wear masks on transit and have “mask cars” on Link trains (a good idea), but that’s quite a step from “climate-change lockdowns”.
Look, we get it, you don’t like anyone who doesn’t use a hammer sometime during their usual workday. You’ve made that plain, and it’s certainly your right. But this is MAGA nuttery.
Multiple people cogently responded to your comment yesterday about carbon taxes, privacy, and equity. When I see you ignore my and their responses, come to the bottom of the comments, and assert that environmentalists are enemies of democracy, I make up that you don’t care about anything anyone else is saying. I make up that you are ignoring people that are trying to engage you and choosing to cast innuendo about them instead, when you talk about “some on this blog.”
When this happens, I feel disappointed and discouraged about discussing with you. Perhaps you would be willing to share where you are coming from with this.
> The idea of “climate change lock-downs” restricting free movement is a complete joke.
I’ve always found it a bit curious that people are very against say closing down smaller neighborhood street for bikes/walking only. But then propose building a suburb with culdesacs where nothing can cross the closure and suddenly it’s fine.
Or say restricting left turns for busses/light rail. But then restricting left turns to speed up cars on stroads is fine. Even the complaints that train crossing block the road temporarily — in the case of freeways typically when built they just remove the crossings completely.
I was honestly a bit confused at their hostility to the mileage tax last comment blaming environmentalists for proposing it. It has quite heavy support from the gas industry and construction industry to tax ev cars their “fair” share.
“Many environmentalists are big time enemies of both capitalism and democracy. They live in a world where the “great unwashed” burn all of the resources and kill the planet. The world would be better off under some sort of Soviet style system where educated elite get to call all the shots.”
Really? I think it’s pretty clear that the main problem is the current elite of the world. They’re the ones shaping policies that destroy the environment, not to mention taking private jets and yacht trips. The “great unwashed” are kind of just along for the ride, for the most part.
“Who exactly is “for” “climate-change lockdowns”?”
Sam is just having fun with the fantasy, “What if there were a climate-change lockdown?” I was thinking of starting a similar thread.
In answer to Sam’s question, bikes would be fine since all transportation eco-friendlier than cars would be encouraged.
The concept of lockdown is based on a misunderstanding of 15-Minute Cities. Their purpose is to provide more walkable destinations, not to prevent people from going elsewhere. Since only 20% of Pugetopolis or the US is walkable, many people live in unwalkable areas because they can’t afford walkable areas, not because they prefer unwalkable areas. So the answer is to create more walkable areas.
If we had a police state where everybody was confined to a 15-minute silo and leaving it was frowned upon, there would be a lot more changes than 15-minute cities. Bicycles don’t currently have licenses so there’s nothing definitive to monitor or ask permission for. Cell phones or implants are a more effective way to track people than car license plates.
Semi-related is the Silo series, about how the powers that be poison the air to force people into 144-story silos they can’t leave.
“Let’s say that 15-minute climate-change lockdown neighborhoods are a reality.”
It doesn’t make sense to speculate any further because climate lockdowns will never become a reality, and nobody, no matter how progressive, is proposing it.
The original talk of “climate lockdowns” on the right came from distortions of Oxford’s plan to divide the city into sectors and limit car traffic between the sectors. It’s purpose was not really about climate, but about reducing local car traffic to fight congestion. The original proposal was designed poorly, with an explicit cap of number of car trips between neighborhoods per person per year, rather than simply a fee for street use in a car, as central London does. And it got distorted by right wing media into “climate lockdowns”. However, to partially answer your question, I can say that Oxford’s proposal did leave all non-car travel modes, be it walking, biking, or public transportation, completely unrestricted, as the whole point was to limit car traffic, not choke off neighborhoods from each other.
Reducing carbon emissions is important. I think the extreme wings of both sides tend to politicize or even moralize it. I don’t think I have ever seen an issue more co-opted, including by transit when transit’s value is irrespective of climate change. If carbon emissions were not an issue that doesn’t mean transit should not be subsidized.
It also doesn’t help that climate advocates who tend to be rich (or politicians) emit 10 thousand times more carbon than the ordinary working stiff with their private planes, yachts, mansions, yards, etc. as though the ordinary citizen can’t see the blatant hypocrisy.
If the plan is to fundamentally change the way citizens live it won’t work. In fact even very little “sacrifice” will likely not work. The rich certainly don’t plan to sacrifice.
EV’s when they cost the same and have the same range and charging, heat pumps, LED light bulbs, solar panels, smart metering, WFH, green construction, are some of the changes that require no sacrifice, although it does take time to perfect them so there is no sacrifice, and often new construction (ironically SFH).
At the other end Biden learned Americans are not willing to give up gas cooktops, and in fact the “research” claiming gas cooktops increase carbon is very flawed. Those power plays hurt the climate goals. Americans are not going to urbanize over claims density produces less carbon, although they may move to large,safe, vibrant cities for other reasons, but naturally hate commuting to work without being compensated for their time.
If someone does not bike or ride transit today they won’t tomorrow because of carbon, and they will revolt if forced. Transit spent a fortune trying to convince captive riders it was greener, until WFH which is truly green. That is why the linked article in this thread I quoted is wrong: folks won’t switch to transit because it is “green”, and anyone who thinks the massive construction of Link is green is being disingenuous. Transit has to be better transportation than cars or Uber to lure discretionary riders, detoured so many efforts to disadvantage cars and Uber that WFH eliminated.
As asdf2 notes traffic or congestion tolls make sense if you need a replacement for the gas tax or to reduce car traffic, although they are very regressive taxes and a better dilution for most areas is WFH. . But if carbon is the goal the engine, not the car, needs to be changed, and even Inslee and Biden recognize that in their climate plans that ironically rely on the ingenuity of the market to replace things in people’s lives that produce less carbon but require no sacrifice.
“It also doesn’t help that climate advocates who tend to be rich (or politicians) emit 10 thousand times more carbon than the ordinary working stiff with their private planes, yachts, mansions, yards, etc. as though the ordinary citizen can’t see the blatant hypocrisy.”
That’s lumping together disparate things. There’s some overlap between people with private planes and climate advocates, but no evidence it’s the majority of plane owners or climate advocates. Is Greta Thunburg hiding a yacht? A lot of yachts are owned by Russian oligarchs, business billionaires, and probably oil executives, who aren’t leading climate advocates. Some public figures say they need a private plane for security, to avoid being assassinated. The amount of oil going to agriculture, middle-class cars, freight, and plastics dwarfs the amount going to yachts and private planes.
As for yards, you’re one of the strongest advocates of them on this blog. Fortunately some of them are switching from monoculture lawns to low-water plants, diverse shrubs, pollinators, and edible plants.
You can Google biggest climate hypocrites. Probably the two biggest are Al Gore and John Kerry.
Because the rich and famous make up a small percentage of the population it is true their total carbon emissions — as a total group — reflect that percentage, but not per capita.
But their influence is enormous, so when ordinary citizens see their hypocrisy they give up, too. When Biden visited Trudeau just last week they sped through town in a 20 SUV convoy. That tells the viewer they don’t really care about climate change, unless they think it benefits them politically, or for self virtue.
It is why we are at a point today in which citizens will adopt lower carbon technologies if it has no cost or sacrifice to them. Because they see the influential unwilling to sacrifice even though cost is irrelevant to them.
It doesn’t help that every special interest group has tried to co-opt climate change for their benefit.
Unfortunately, the concept of asking or compelling people to make sacrifices in their lifestyle to reduce carbon emissions is a dead end. In theory, it could work if all 8 billion people simultaneously agree to do it and go 50 years without anyone changing their minds. In practice, all 8 billion people (or the governments controlling all 8 billion people) agreeing on anything is effectively impossible. On top of this, any individual country that tried to force through the types of economic sacrifices actually necessary to stop climate change would immediately face civil unrest, and their leaders would quickly be replaced with leaders that would go back to business as usual. If the country is democratic, it would happen through elections, but even if the country is autocratic, forcing people to drastically lower their carbon emissions would be so unpopular that, if kept up, would likely lead to the dictator eventually being overthrown. Remember, without nonpolluting alternatives in place, forcing people to drastically lower their carbon emissions means strict rationing of everything from driving to meat eating to home heating to air conditioning. It just won’t fly. Furthermore, there’s a strong prisoners’ dilemma element: any country that tries to *individually* impose climate sacrifices on people not only makes everybody in their country mad, but all of the problems caused by climate change still happen anyway (because no one country is big enough to stop it unilaterally, no matter what sacrifices they make), and climate change does not magically “exempt” people and countries from its effects just because they made a good-faith effort to prevent it while others didn’t. In short, all the sacrifices become for nothing.
Pretty much the only solution that has any chance of working is technological progress – make the cleaner sources of energy objectively cheaper, more reliable, and easier to use than the dirty alternatives for as many applications as possible, to the point where fuel oil eventually becomes as obsolete as whale oil. Lots of progress has been made of the past few decades, but we need more. To really stop climate change, we probably need the price per kWh of battery storage to drop by an additional 10-fold, along with improvements in energy density per unit of weight or volume. We also need further drops in prices of wind turbines and solar panels, along with efficiency improvements in solar panels, allowing more power to be generated with less land. Cheaper digging technology to allow geothermal power to be used economically everywhere, not just in places with special geography, would also go a long way.
Once the alternatives are present and objectively cheaper, and the old dirty technology is popped up purely by inertia, at that point, using the power of government to compel switching to the cleaner technology starts to become reasonable, and unlikely to generate much pushback. We’ve already reached this point with light bulbs, and in some cases, heat pumps (at least for new construction in states like Washington that combine cheap electricity with relatively mild climates). I don’t think we’re there yet for electric cars, but it’s at least plausible that we get there within the next 10 years (if not, the 2035 zero-emission mandate for new cars will inevitably get postponed, a scenario I believe has a greater than 50/50 chance of happening).
Going back to the them of transit: it’s impact on climate is quite often overstated and misunderstood. Transit certainly *can* reduce carbon emissions, but only if ridership exceeds a certain threshold (I think, about 10 passengers per diesel bus, less for electric trolley buses). Many Seattle routes certainly exceed this threshold, and I have no doubt that running popular routes such as Link or the 7 result in less carbon emissions than not running them. However, transit is also full of coverage routes that get far less ridership than this and are likely net carbon emitters compared to the alternative of not running the bus. Remember, not every passenger on a bus is a car trip avoided – some would have walked, biked, ridden a different bus, carpooled, etc., or simply not made the trip at all, in response to any particular bus trip being removed from the schedule. System-wide, I think big-city bus systems like King Country Metro do, in fact, result in some net emissions reduction, they also cost a lot of money each year to operate, and from a pure carbon emissions standpoint, my intuition tells me you’d avoid more carbon emissions if the $$ to run the bus system were spent in other ways, such as clean electricity generation, electric car subsidies, or heat pumps. Exurban and rural agencies, such as Skagit Transit and Commmunity Transit may very well be net carbon emitters. But, nevertheless, in spite of what I just said, these bus systems are still worth running, for the simple reason that the ultimate purpose of a transit system is not really about reducing carbon emissions. It’s about providing a form of cheap, reliable travel that is accessible to all, and providing people with an alternative to congested roadways. If transit happens to reduce carbon emissions a little bit as a side effect, all the better. But, even when it doesn’t, the transit system still has to run because people still have to get places.
But at least we should consider the carbon footprint before we make certain investments. WSLE construction will generate 614,000 tons of carbon and only reduce 400 daily trips (once it connects downtown), it will be a negative contributor to our climate goals.
“ But at least we should consider the carbon footprint before we make certain investments. WSLE construction will generate 614,000 tons of carbon and only reduce 400 daily trips (once it connects downtown), it will be a negative contributor to our climate goals.”
Actually we don’t know the ridership impacts of creating that horrible transfer Downtown. It may actually reduce the number of riders because of the worse transfer times.
The Board should have never recommended an option without asking for and seeing the ridership impacts and greenhouse gas emission impacts first. It’s clear they don’t care about these things at all when it comes to WSBLE.
I find it doubtful that this will qualify for a large amount of federal funding, if the FTA ridership model shows such awful ridership.
I’m not an expert in these sorts of things, but the fact that the CCC scored so highly in the FTA’s ridership forecasts does lead me to question just how accurate the FTA’s ridership forecasting algorithm really is, and how easily it can be gamed to allow projects that everyone knows is dubious to score highly.
I would not assume in the slightest, that just because common sense says a particular project will generate low ridership, that the FTA’s funding formula will say it will generate low ridership. The FTA’s funding formula is, at the end of the day, just a formula. If you can feed the formula with enough questionable inputs and argue eloquently enough to FTA bigwigs that inputs which don’t make sense actually do make sense, the formula, whatever it is, will feed you back garbage output. If the CCC can be made to score highly, I’m sure West Seattle Link can do, if the people who prepare the FTA grant application are skilled enough. This is the kind of thing that lends me somewhat skeptical to the entire FTA grant process in the first place.
> I’m not an expert in these sorts of things, but the fact that the CCC scored so highly in the FTA’s ridership forecasts does lead me to question just how accurate the FTA’s ridership forecasting algorithm really is, and how easily it can be gamed to allow projects that everyone knows is dubious to score highly.
The ridership forecast ‘algorithm’ isn’t really that complicated actually. They mainly just add up total residents/jobs around each station and then guesstimate based on that. As noted in the first sentence “Average population density across all station areas is 19,100 persons per square mile, which rates” High on FTA benchmarks. The main thing the FTA changed to make it more accurate was that transit agencies in the past (1980s, 1990s) lied about the upzonings that would happen. That’s why there’s sections on” Performance of Land Use Policies” checking if the upzoned areas actually got built in the past. Cities used to just point to a future growth area for FTA money and then just deny every permit that wasn’t a single family housing building.
The ridership amount is definitely inflated, honestly I think most optimistically it’ll get ridership closer to say route 8 or 70 which would be more like just 8k ~10k total.
> I’m sure West Seattle Link can do, if the people who prepare the FTA grant application are skilled enough.
The main trick they used was interlining / breaking the spine and including the Ballard tunnel so they can count the Northgate and Rainier Valley riders (from like 50k to 120k riders). But they aren’t able to actually guess random numbers. For the West Seattle segment only they probably just counted adding up the existing busses that go to West Seattle and some multipler factor to arrive at the number ~30k.
For a counter example the King of Prussia project was cancelled since the FTA refused to find it noting it’s low ridership only 10k for the 3 billion dollar cost. I guess the more boring answer is that many other cities propose much worse projects that in comparison Seattle’s projects look semi reasonable. I still do wish the FTA took a more active role in shepherding these large transit projects though, rather than just approving/ denying funding.
Guys, the Center City Connector grant from FTA is a “Small Starts” grant. It maxes out at $75M. That’s why Seattle had to come up with any higher cost. Interestingly, it just got raised to $150M in the Biden infrastructure bill.
WSBLE is going for a “New Starts” grant. That grant process much more rigorous because the awards are much bigger. FTA will certainly take ST to task on its projections. It should be noted that the law restricts FTA money to no more than 60% of the project cost.
On the FTA site, it says that ST budgeted WSBLE in two parts for $9B and $3.2B. We know that’s way too low. Also, the projects have yet to be rated by FTA.
Regarding the FTA’s CIG programs, don’t forget the requirements for grant recipients to follow through on the “Before and After Studies”. I do wonder how much scrutiny these have actually received within the FTA, The USDOT as a whole as well as Congress and whether these mandated reports are an effective tool for evaluating whether the granted funds are being used to support the best transit projects across the country.
Fwiw, it took forever for ST to finalize its Before and After Study for University Link. I posted about it a couple of times here on this blog but there didn’t seem to be too much interest frankly. I do think there is great value in the exercise; I’m just not sure the recipient agencies take the task seriously enough.
Speaking of the CCC, I dearly hope that SDOT will have the vision to make the stations a full block long. That way, when everyone finally realizes that Ballard can only be a tram system, and that the best tram system is the original Kubly-era alignment through Fremont, the CCC can take Ballard-Downtown south through Downtown and (perhaps someday) to North Rainier.
Others have suggested this, and if the SLU end of the streetcar also received longer stations, it would also become “real transit”.
Not taking into account politics and sub areas and etc, would scrapping the Sounder North and diverting funds from its operations and planning help pay for the 4th Ave Shallow option?
Cancelling the Graham St. station would get you 1/3 of the $800 million. Maybe half. I never understood why the Board added stations at 130th and Graham St. when it knew N KC did not have the funding for WSBLE. Now 130th is almost 100% over estimated cost and I imagine Graham St. will be, while the estimated cost of WSBLE has more than doubled.
Well, the Board did not “know,” given the explicitly approved a fully funded plan.
130th’s cost is negligible compared to WSBLE. It was a very reasonable early win for N King.
Plus keeping the station on 20th instead of 15th in Ballard would save $200 million unless Ballard wants to pass LID.
The Graham infill station doesn’t cost that much.
> Since 2016’s original estimate of $65–$70 million, Graham Street station is now estimated to cost $12 million more.
It’s a completely at-grade station not an elevated one like 130th where there are high costs from the two sets of elevators/escalators needed on both sides since it’s not a median platform.
The only real gain from delaying it is probably just construction time and the low political importance it has. It’s honestly cheaper than adding/removing an extra set of entrances to some of the Ballard/West Seattle stations
The only real costs to Graham are widening Martin Luther King Boulevard to accommodate the platforms. Thr station structure is in the low single digit millions.
The point of 130th was to make a station that would be east to serve Lake City. You’d get something like Main/Science World in Vancouver BC.
Of course, they decided upon 135th instead, making it much more difficult to make it into a useful bus transfer station, saving little operational money in the long term.
So far, except for Stride, Redmond Link and Graham Street, every piece of ST3 has somehow turned out to make transit worse over previously planned service.
Daniel, don’t you mean “on 14th”? To my knowledge ST has never had a Preferred Alternative west of 15th. Maybe I’m wrong, but let us know when they advocated such a placement, please.
@Glenn — The north entrances to the 130th Station will be just north of 130th (closer to 130th than 131st Place). Ideally it would straddle 130th (with entrances on both sides) but walking distance will be shorter than one train car. I would expect the distance from bus to platform to be quicker than most, simply because it isn’t that far from the surface.
If it wasn’t for the crossing of the street, it would be about as good as any in our system. For eastbound buses (Lake City to Bitter Lake) it will be fine. The light tends to favor east-west buses. Depending on how they set it up, it is possible they will often have a complete light cycle without any restrictions there (simply because few cars will go on 5th, north of 130th). It is the north-south crossing (of 130th) that might take a while. This involves buses going the other way (Bitter Lake to Lake City). This is why the straddling idea would have been best. Not because it would have made much of a difference in terms of walking distance, but because it avoids a street crossing.
But the same is true for a lot of our stations. Roosevelt Station is served by north-south buses, and riders have to cross the street both directions. To go from the westbound 31/32 to the U-District Station, you have to cross the street. Sometimes the buses turn, and get riders closer, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Consider 145th. It is so far from 145th, they renamed the station (to 148th). People are not expected to walk from 145th — instead the bus will make turns to get riders closer. This means the bus spends more time on its route, which ultimately leads to worse frequency and less reliability.
One way to think of it is the time it takes to get from the platform to somewhere a mile away. Frequency makes a big difference, but consider the other factors. You’ve got walking time, but also the time it takes for the bus to leave the area. At Northgate, for example, riders are picked up quite close to where they leave the station (as long as they pick the right exit). But then the bus has to make a series of turns to get out of there. In contrast, riders at 130th may have to wait for that light, but at least once on the bus, it is a straight shot to Lake City. It is too bad there is no pedestrian overpass, but things could be worse.
It is also worth mentioning that while the 130th Station will definitely improve transit for Lake City (and Pinehurst) it will make a much bigger difference for folks in Bitter Lake. Right now the options are poor. The only bus that connects to Link runs every half hour, and takes a long, round-about way to get there. The station will make a huge difference.
“I never understood why the Board added stations at 130th and Graham St. when it knew N KC did not have the funding for WSBLE.”
Because you don’t know the board knew that, or that it was true when the decision was made. You’re imputing your assumptions onto the boardmembers, when you have no way of knowing their thoughts or motivations.
130th, as has been said repeatedly, brings two urban villages more directly into Link. Graham fills in a long gap between stations, in one of Link’s higher-density, higher-ridership, most-walkable areas areas. From the Rainier BBQ near Graham to Othello Station it’s a 20-minute walk; going north to Columbia City Station it’s even longer. This indicates a gap in the line’s walkshed, and if you’re starting from a block or two east or west of MLK the gap is even larger. That’s the reason for the station.
So both 130th and Graham Stations are low-hanging fruit that should have been included in the first place, and are inexpensive to add. They should have been scheduled earlier for both those reasons.
The delay in starting projects is waiting for the money to come in. Two-thirds of the revenue stream are going to ST2 construction. When that ends in the mid 2020s, then most of it can go to ST3 projects and they’ll proceeed faster.
Daniel, because accountants don’t decide which stations get built, politicians do.
“People are not expected to walk from 145th — instead the bus will make turns to get riders closer. This means the bus spends more time on its route, which ultimately leads to worse frequency and less reliability.”
Buses won’t spend more time because they won’t go north to 148th and back south to 145th; instead they’ll continue in a completely different direction. Routes from east or west that don’t terminate will continue north, turning them into different routes than if they continued east or west. That in turn changes the nature of the network: you can’t go east-west on 145th past 5th Ave NE, but you will be able to go north and possibly west further north, such as on 155th.
145th itself is on the edge of several neighborhoods (Lake City, Northgate, Bitter Lake, 155th/Aurora), not the center of any of them, and there’s little on 145th itself. So it’s not as bad as it initially appears. The demand is toward Bitter Lake and 155th/Aurora, and routes making the turn at 5th & 145th will tend to go in those directions.
Mike, you are missing my point. You are arguing the benefit of stations at 130th and Graham St., both of which I have posted seem like worthy projects to me (although the huge increase in the estimated cost for a station at 130th has curbed my enthusiasm).
What I was pointing out is a subarea has only so much ST revenue so choices have to be made. That includes stations for DSTT2 (and $800 million for a station on 4th Ave. S is ridiculous even if money did grow on trees). That station should never have been added to the DEIS because it only extends the false hope that got N KC in this bind to begin with.
Then you have station locations in Ballard, SLU, and WS. All of these decisions are affected by the cost of stations on 130th and Graham St.
Of course the Board knew there wasn’t the funding for WSBLE. It said so in the draft DEIS when it said third party funding would be needed. Rogoff over two years ago identified a $12 billion deficit for ST 3. The “realignment” occurred at the same time the Bosrd decided to green light 130th and Graham St.
I know transit advocates in N KC hold out hope a miracle will occur and the (other people’s) money will be found for all the wishes in WSBLE. If that dream does not come true it means all the hard choices will have to made at the end. We saw the beginning of this with CID N/S. We will see it in SLU, and in Ballard, and with proposed LID’s.
N KC stakeholders and transit advocates can have everything they want, except now they will have to pay for it themselves. Harrell has made it clear the city won’t be chipping in. I doubt the CID will agree to an $800 million LID for a station on 4th (or to fund its own mitigation for construction). I don’t think WS will agree to a LID that destroys hundreds of homes based on hopes WS urbanizes when these folks drive when the bridge is closed and Link will be worse transit than buses today.
Not sure about Ballard. The DEIS will recommend the cheapest station location and design with an a la carte menu Ballardites are willing to pay for (so don’t trust ST’s project cost estimates with your own money).
WSBLE has increased in cost from $6 billion to $15 billion and that is low and yet DSTT2 is still estimated to cost $2.2 billion (plus $160 million for CID N/S N KC does not have so must come from “capturing” value in vacant buildings the city and county owns). Of course the Board and ST are manipulating the cost estimates as they always have.
The Board knew about the plinth issue in 2019 and yet didn’t announce the additional three year delay in opening East Link until 2022, even to the major cities along the route. Of course the Board knew WSBLE was not affordable when it green lighted 130th and Graham St. in the middle of a “realignment” that extended project completion concurrently with ST taxes. because otherwise the cost estimate for 130th would not have been so off.
If the revenue is fixed and likely to be lower in N KC with WFH and you further blow the budget early on with stations at Graham St. and 130th the painful decisions at the end will be even more painful.
All I said was forget about a station on 4th, and get ready for more station locations that might not be ideal from a transit point of view because the Board knows damn well WSBLE is not affordable. Otherwise Constantine wouldn’t have had to come up with the crazy claim he could capture value from valueless buildings with a Link station just to cover $160 million.
“The Board knew about the plinth issue in 2019 and yet didn’t announce the additional three year delay in opening East Link until 2022, even to the major cities along the route.”
If the ST Board knew about a delayed opening, and Eastside politicians are on the ST Board, doesn’t that mean that Eastside politicians would know about a delayed opening? Why would Eastside cities be in the dark if their mayors serve on the ST Board?
“Of course the Board knew there wasn’t the funding for WSBLE. It said so in the draft DEIS when it said third party funding would be needed.”
That was for extra options not in the representative alignment, specifically a Ship Canal tunnel and a West Seattle tunnel. That shows disingenuousness by Ballard and West Seattle for not raising those before the vote if they wanted them so much. It doesn’t mean those are unaffordable parts of the base project; they’re not part of the base project.
Sam, there are no Eastside mayors on the ST Board of cities served by East Link. Auburn and Renton are the two. Which surprises me.
The Seattle Times and The Urbanist both reported ST and the Board knew in 2019 the plinth issue would likely delay the opening of East Link but “hoped” that would not be the case. With a scheduled opening in 2023 the Board had to come clean in 2022 which caught everyone by surprise. I don’t think mayors or city councils had any inkling of the delay but were keeping that from the citizens. Even Metro went through an Eastside transit restructure process it has now delayed.
Balducci did get a lot of blow black, more about the concealment than the desire for East Link. She has proposed an interim line from S. Bellevue to Overlake but I never thought that was a realistic or wise proposal and was designed to deal with the blow back at the surprise East Link is now delayed until 2025, although that re-raises concern East Link might not be able to run four car trains every 8 minutes at 50 mph.
Delays are different from unaffordable projects. You were talking about unaffordable projects. Replacing the plinths undoubtedly adds costs (unless the contractor is obligated to pay for all of it), but it’s not necessarily an unaffordable cost.
In 2019 the ST Board Chair and the Mayor of Redmond weren’t one in the same?
Mike, project cost overruns are not an issue in E KC. I was simply comparing your trust in the ST Board when it comes to exploding project cost estimates for WSBKE with the failure to disclose the fact East Link very likely would not open in 2023 while the Eastside — and Metro — were preparing for that opening.
The increase in project cost estimates for WSBLE — that are still low — have a bit to do with add ons in WS and Ballard but not $9 billion worth. The base plan you reference is way over budget, although I agree with you that transit advocates in N KC are not realistic when it comes to what is affordable. For some time I have suggested transit advocates begin to discuss the least bad cuts. Instead I get dreams about a station on 4th Ave. S or 20th
WSBLE is not affordable. DSTT2 won’t cost $2.2 billion plus $160 million for CID N/S.
Even if WSBLE was possibly affordable the cuts to station design and location going forward to meet the subarea’s revenue, less the cost for stations at 130th and Graham St., are going to be painful, so don’t be surprised.
Sure ST can tell WS and Ballard they get the lowest cost options including surface lines and stations, but then they will make the same decision the CID did: no thanks. They won’t drink the bitter Link ale, to use TT’s phrase.
Then what do we call the line? CID S to Smith Cove?
@Daniel, I always enjoy reading your insights. But I was referring to the Sounder North Line, Everett to Seattle. AJ has some thoughts on that as well.
Jordan, according to AJ, ending Sounder N. would save around $100 million. Some on this blog anticipate Sounder N. being terminated when Lynnwood Link opens. $100 million is 1/8th the additional cost of the shallow 4th Ave. station, and I agree with AJ that SnoCo would object to those funds being reallocated to DSTT2, especially after the SnoCo rep during the DEIS hearing objected to adding the 4th Ave. station to the DEIS because it is not remotely affordable.
I know you prefaced your question by putting aside subarea equity, but I think that is the elephant in the room. So the relevant question is where in N KC can the funding be found for a shallow station on 4th Ave. S. The only source I can think of, other than capturing development revenue at CID N, is a LID, which would mostly fall on the CID, especially after the Board approved accelerating stations on 130th (significantly over budget) and Graham St. I don’t see the City of Seattle contributing to a 4th Ave. station after Harrell’s machinations on CID N/S.
I personally agree with the SnoCo rep that it was a mistake to add a station on 4th Ave. S. to the DEIS the N KC subarea can never afford because it offers false hope to some.
On the other hand, I think Sound S. should probably be ended, and the $1 billion in ST 3 capital upgrades scrapped, because Pierce will need those funds to complete TDLE. The problem there is TDLE is now likely to be completed sometime after 2035, which means ending Sound S. with its 11-13% farebox recovery would be around 12-14 years before TDLE opens when Pierce already thinks this whole ST Link process has screwed it. It isn’t explaining to Pierce Co. why it has loaned out $1.2 billion to other subareas to complete their Link while Pierce is supposed to use FWLE — when it opens — for the next 12-14 years.
Every subarea other than E KC will be going through the questions you posed for 4th Ave. S. for their projects, but it will be subarea specific. You just can’t put aside subarea equity, and I am sure privately some subareas are chaffed at having to contribute $275 million each to DSTT, no matter where the stations are.
Insofar as any reduction of O&M spend fund capital spend, yes.
Check out page 3, sources and uses – from 2017-2046, Snohomish will spend $440 million on Sounder. That’s in Year of Expenditure, and some of that have already been spend, so in 2023 dollars killing off Sounder North in the near future probably doesn’t free much more than $100M over the life of the plan.
Plus, the chance of those savings going to a Seattle capital project are exactly zero.
For those who occasionally visit Portland:
Please be aware the new connection for the red line will be cut in between April 16th and May 6. TriMet will also use the required closure for rail replacement along I-84 and other maintenance needs.
Regular service from Rose Quarter west, 20 minute service Gateway east, and shuttle buses between.
I have no idea where that paste came from. It should have been a pasted link to this:
That other thing was a link I texted someone some time back.
Thanks, Glenn. I wondered how yhey were going to connect that new flyover track.
This means that the 7.5 minute headways between Blue and Red won’t be true at Gateway. People will have to choose one platform or the other.
Will they have the Green either right before or right after the Red to even the headways at the existing platform?
Thanks, Glenn. I wondered how they were going to connect that new flyover track.
This means that the 7.5 minute headways between Blue and Red won’t be true at Gateway. People will have to choose one platform or the other.
Will they have the Green either right before or right after the Red to even the headways at the existing platform?
I’m hoping they have an arrival indicator that says people need to go wait at the other platform.
The typical schedule, even on low frequency Sundays, has been red, blue, green, blue, red, with the blue line operating more often than the other two and between the other two.
Note schedule today after about 9:30:
(Sunday mornings are *very* light in TriMet land, so service levels are correspondingly atrocious until late morning)
MAX Green Line to City Center/PSU
MAX Blue Line to Hillsboro 9:41am
MAX Red Line to City Center & Beaverton
MAX Green Line to City Center/PSU
MAX Blue Line to Hillsboro
9:52am MAX Green Line to City Center/PSU
9:56am MAX Red Line to City Center & Beaverton
(Note before 7:30 there are a few bizarre repositioning moves, such as a blue line train to Clackamas which shouldn’t exist. In that case, it’s a westbound blue line train from Ruby Junction to Gateway, stops at the southbound platform, reverses direction, then continues south as a green line train).
Also remember the whole point of this project is to get frequency on the red line up to somewhat better levels..
Maybe they can actually make use of the Marta/SoundTransit 2 minute warning?
(That was supposed to be a reply to Tom Terrific)
It’ll definitely be a bit awkward but I’m not sure what else they could have done without a major undertaking. Ideally, Gateway would be an east-west station, but the only way to do that would be to put the whole thing over the freeway. Putting the red line under the existing station could work, but you’d still sometimes be at the wrong platform.
Thankk you, Glenn. When I worked at Nike years ago the Blues and reds were 7-8-7-8 non peak out of Beaverton going east, but it looks like don’t bother with even spacing any more.
In their infinite wisdom, KCM decided to overhaul their web page. I can no longer find route maps or schedules. Nice job guys. The one time in the past year I go to use it.
Guess I am driving.
Most government websites are poorly laid out. I’ve always found bus timetables by going to Google and searching something like Seattle + bus + 65. Usually the first hit is the right link.
However because of Metro upgrading their website, all of the Google links are no longer valid. So that information is not accessible. It feels like it would have been better to design to leave the old website up until after the new website is ready to go.
Internal links are also broken. I use an old bookmark to the routes list. It doesn’t work today and there’s a link to the King County home page. The home page has a prominent button, “Find Your Schedule”, that raises an error. Scrolling down there’s a “Metro” button, which earlier this morning went to a list of routes, but choosing a route was a dead link. Now it gives the same error as the first button. So clearly Metro is in the middle of reconnecting the parts of the new site, or an unexpected failure happened. It’s better that this happens on a Sunday than a weekday; the same reason Metro starts bus revisions on a Saturday so there’s two days to handle any unexpected problems before the Monday rush. I don’t know when the new site went up: I first noticed it today after this comment, but it could have gone up Friday or earlier. If it did go up today, that indicates somebody is working on it today and will hopefully fix it today. If it went up Friday, maybe there’s nobody there on the weekend to fix it. (My company avoids rolling out web/server changes on Friday afternoon for this reason; better to roll them out on Monday.)
The Eastrail pedestrian bridge at Wilburton station spanning NE 8th street was constructed a couple of weeks ago.
I look forward to having Link in West Seattle, which has potential for being a legit urban neighborhood with a reasonable amount of TOD. The increasingly younger, educated, and more diverse population, as well as proximity to downtown give it many built in advantages. I don’t think WS should be written off as city burbs just yet, there’s a lot of changes happening.
A big question is how close to the most urban parts of West Seattle (aka Alaska Junction) will the station actually get? The closer you get, the more expensive and built up the land, which incentives ST to cheap out and build the station further away. Looking at general cost overruns and what’s happening with Ballard as precedent, I would not at all see surprised to see the “junction” station end up east of Fauntleroy, which would make it a whole lot less useful then it could be.
The other problem, of course, is that a stub line which ends in SODO is not much use either, and ST refuses to route the line into the existing tunnel with the other routes, as that would require admitting that the capacity need for a second downtown tunnel is B.S. So, now West Seattle is stuck waiting for DSTT2, if it ever finishes, to get a line that actually goes anywhere. The good news for West Seattle is that, when and if everything is all done, they get to have their trains go through DSTT1, which means a one seat ride to Capitol Hill and the U district. It’s at the expense of Rainier Valley and SeaTac, but still good from the narrow perspective of West Seattle.
Who would commute TO west seattle in there morning to work a professional job?
Build a true dedicated BRT row for the right spots then have a network of buses serving the entire area and not 2/3 stops.
Light rail was clearly the wrong choice for west Seattle. A really expensive wrong choice.
The city will need to massively upzone all the station areas….. And then wait 30 years.
Meanwhile west seattlites will whine for decades about the upzone and “parking.”. Wait for it….
All the businesses along California Ave, ferry workers, West Seattle high school staff, the hospital on 35th, support staff at the low-income housing on 35th, etc.
Multi-line BRT would serve almost all of them better than Link.
Contrast Ballard, which has a more centralized and larger activity center (the South of Market triangle, and a little secondary activity on 15th. This can be served by a rail line on 15th. Or if you add the secondary activity on 24th, you have a Y shape, with both prongs walking distance apart.
Rainier Valley is concentrated on Rainier Ave and MLK Way, forming a Y shape, with a maximum 10-15 minute walk between the prongs (at Henderson Street). If Beacon Hill is added, then you have a three-pong fork.
West Seattle has a stick-shift shape. California Ave north and south, 35th south, Delridge south, and 16th south, all with an east-west corridor between Spokane and Alaska Streets. A rail line can serve only 1/5 of the prongs, and the steep hills hinder walking between them. The ST3 project doesn’t serve any of the prongs: only the shaft. But most of the activity is along the prongs. This is what makes West Seattle Link weak. The proposed extension to Burien and Renton would serve one prong — not the densest one. Although it would add Westwood Village and maybe White Center, which is notable.
Would someone please explain to me what the big deal is with the East Link “plinths” is all about?
This shouldn’t be that big a deal. Slab track substructure is commonly available in off the shelf modules that can snap into place. Without the line being in operation this should not be a particularly big deal to replace these, even if the rail is already installed.
There aren’t too many good examples of this system available online, but here is one:
Designed for much higher speeds than Link and to serve as replacement for lines in active operation.
If you want to read about, this is a PubliCola article explains it really well. An excerpt …
“Sound Transit started unearthing problems with its I-90 crossing in 2019, when inspectors discovered that the top surface of some plinths did not connect with the rails they were supposed to be supporting. To close these gaps, Sound Transit’s Kiewit-Hoffman installed mortar between the blocks and the rails, a solution Sound Transit deputy director Kimberly Farley said the agency believed would fix the problem. Subsequently, though, that mortar failed, and Sound Transit discovered another set of problems, “including concrete placements that were too low, too high, constructed to the wrong geometry, or resulting in voids under rail fasteners,” according to a staff report.
During work to fix those construction problems, the team discovered additional issues, “such that the overall scope of the challenges has increased rather than decreased”; for example, many of the blocks had improperly installed or missing rebar, which strengthens concrete and prevents it from cracking. During this time, Sound Transit also discovered that the nylon bolt holders were stripped and decided to replace all of them. They also noticed that some of the pre-cast concrete blocks that support the rails across the bridge were cracking.”
And is the management at Kiewit-Hoffman under indictment for fraud and reckless endangerment? Sadly, “No, they are not.”
Shades of the Florida condo.
When is Washington’s government going to learn that it needs a crew of well-paid, permanent construction engineers to oversee the corrupt “private sector” contractors the government uses to build things?
The condo in FL was 40 years old on saltwater. The condo board and owners had been informed of the problems. They just didn’t want to pay the assessments to repair the problems. That collapse raised insurance premiums on all condo buildings and toughened the now mandatory 40 year old structural assessment that has raised the costs of condo ownership and made new projects much more difficult to insure.
If there was criminal liability it was the derailment that killed and injured dozens because ST wanted to meet a certain trip time despite known dangers in the track. No indictments. I don’t even think anyone was fired. Rogoff wasn’t
A real problem today is many of the large contractors won’t bid on ST projects and there just are not many who can do these large and often novel projects that have hundreds of change orders. . ST doesn’t have the expertise to design or build these Link projects, although I agree the plinth problem is a head scratcher the contractor will pay to remedy.
If we began to criminalize construction or design mistakes not much will get built.
There is no free lunch. No doubt these new insurance rates are reflected in rents.
No Daniel, the Florida Condo was also full of “not being full of rebar”.
I think that Glenn’s implicit question, “Why was pre-fab panel track from a producer with a solid ‘track record’ not used, at least on the tangent sections?” is dead on. [And, “Yes, that was a pun.”]
The structure on the bridge is certain to be more stressed, especially in high winds when the structure goes dynamic. But the defective plinths are all on static track on structure, something of which ST has built many miles.
Why the outbreak of poor results on this stretch of track? It can only be the choice of contractor, or if the same contractor has built other segments, then the contractor’s management of the East Link project.
Alonso may also have a proper insight that building all of Lynnwood, Federal Way and East Links at the same time may have exhausted the skilled construction labor force in King County. If true, it is incumbent on the contractors to recruit competent workers from other parts of the country where they are available — construction has been in a deepening pause everywhere since early 2020 — and take their housing and travel costs out of their profit margin.
“Oh we didn’t imagine that we couldn’t get good help when we bid!” is no excuse.
And also, why is it so time consuming to fix? It should be a matter of jackhammering out the defective ones and pouring new ones.
Pouring these plinths isn’t rare. Almost every urban rail line in the USA has direct fixed track with these somewhere.
I don’t think you can use a jackhammer on a freeway, if you want to keep the freeway usable afterwards. Removal would have to be done with saw cuts, and I remember reading something about having to do concrete scanning to avoid existing rebar before drilling new rebar post-holes to mount the plinths. Seems time consuming to me.
I don’t think they’re slow-walking anything – I think Kiewit-Hoffman is motivated to do it right the second time, since it seems likely that ST will pursue reimbursement for costs incurred by delays to other contractors.
Nathan, the trackway is at least three feet higher than the old reversible lane roadway. Thr jackhammer isn’t going to effect the integrity ofcthe structure.
TT, the plinths I’m talking about are mounted directly to the freeway deck.
Yes, I can see that now. I guess the center roadway structure isn’t meant to support trains. How long before it starts to degrade and forces the replacement that ST did not do to start with?
This thread explains the issue. A problem from early on is how to prevent the vibrations from a four car train traveling at 50 mph dropping from a fixed bridge deck to a floating concrete bridge span when the density of the concrete was never “tensioned” for light rail.
If the size of a 4 car train is the problem, could east Link not be run with one or two car trains instead? If smaller trains creates capacity issues, you can always increase frequency as needed.
I don’t think that’s it.
What has been said here in the past is that the “plinth” issue prevented trains from running from Northgate to Judkins Park because the plinth from CID to the bridge had some defect or other.
If it was the bridge joint, they’d be able to operate Northgate to Judkins Park trains.
Glenn, the plinth issue is separate from the joint hinge and post tensioning and raising the rails off the bridge span. What I am saying is I think micro fracturing of the concrete due to vibrations has been an issue ST and the Eastside have dealt with for years and I think is the bigger possible concern. It seems to me any transit agency should be able to run light rail over dry ground. Does Link in other areas use plinths? Why didn’t East Link simply use the design and construction process for those plinths on East Link?
This article from UW goes into some detail on the engineering approach to building rail across the I-90 floating bridge. The solution deployed is a purely custom design that accounts for dynamic forces. You have to account for not only forces in the ZYZ directions, but also torsional movement that are not traditionally compatible with fixed rail construction.
There shouldn’t be anything to design. They’re just concrete cubes. Plop down a wooden form, pour the concrete, let it set, and move on to the next one.
Much of Link has track embedded in the concrete itself. DSTT, ML King, and maybe a couple others are this way. All of the elevated sections and much of the tunnel section uses what they are calling “plinths” but to me appear to be something more commonly called “Cologne egg” type track. “Direct fixation track” and I’ve more often heard the concrete risers called “pedestals” but no matter. Everyone has their own terminology.
Anyway, they don’t seem especially difficult to replace, since they are available pre-cast.
My guess (and it is only that) is that in reality, they’ve not been able to hire enough track construction workers to keep both East Link and Lynnwood Link going at the same time.
Thanks for that link, but what I’ve been told is that they can’t operate Northgate to Judkins Park due to the problem plinths. That section doesn’t involve the bridge. It’s all standard construction. Problems on that section shouldn’t be especially difficult to correct, as it just be regular pandrol clips, etc.
Unless maybe some section of the joint extends all the way to the Judkins Park station?
My understanding is that ST requested use of a lighter-weight concrete to avoid overloading the roadways designed for automotive use. The contractor agreed, and then whatever construction/installation method they used failed on some relatively small percentage of the plinths, but high enough that ST requested total replacement. These plinths are in use on the approach bridge west of Judkins down to SODO, and all along I-90 until the track rises off I-90 and onto ST-built trackway.
That’s the deal with the plinths.
You guys are right about the plinth defects. From my understanding the corrective work was to use grout topping to meet the specified tolerances. Once concrete cures and you add subsequent topping material, you create a cold joint that can be prone to spalling and failure since it’s not as strong of a bond as when you do a single pour. I recall reading somewhere that some of the defective locations showed exposed rebar which is a major no-no and made worse by the high exposure to water along the bridge segment.
Yeah, if they’re having to use special light weight concrete I can see where that would cause issues.
Thanks for the better information.
Glenn, yes, in Europe they use a lot of prefabricated substructures, TSB builds one in Germany, but it sounds like Sound Transit / Hewitt decided to build their own and failed.
I’ve still not yet been able to find the year in which I counted some 28 MAX trains per hour per direction, but I think it might have been before the 2008 economic downturn or something. Anyway, some interesting things of note:
Blue Line, westbound
Hollywood Transit Center:
7:09, 7:17, 7:24, 7:28, 7:32, 7:39, 7:43, 7:54. 7:58
7:06, 7:21, 7:36, 7:51
Note that only 2 red line trains operate during that hour. That’s because they come from the red line, but at Gateway turn into blue line trains and head all the way to Hillsboro rather than turn at Beaverton. They appear in the schedule as either.
This is the type of flexibility allowed by operating all three lines through that set of stations. If needed, one can become another.
TriMet has been doing that a lot, but especially since the 2008 cutbacks, and then the addition of the green and orange lines. Eg, at one time there was a need for more capacity on the orange line, but only one trip. So, a green line train was extended past downtown Portland and operated as an orange line train.
Note most of the time it’s every 15 minutes (which is appropriate because the routing choices were awful so ridership isn’t brisk most of the time). But, there’s one train at 6:27 pm and another at 6:31 pm.
How does all that apply to Link?
If all three lines are combined in one tunnel, it allows for a lot of flexibility to combine the different lines if it becomes necessary for operational reasons. It’s not ideal for passenger legibility, but during certain circumstances it may be desirable. Eg, suppose ML King gets closed due to a major accident? Some Ballard trains may have to be turned in West Seattle and a few others turned in Redmond. A few other possibilities exist, but you get the general idea: sometimes for operational flexibility, TriMet has found it desirable to occasionally blend some of the trains across two lines.
More from Seattle Times on the outside consultant hired by Seattle and the lead up to the vote.
A rare instance I agree with Seattle Times commentariat.
I don’t think Harrell was opposed to a station on 5th next to the CID for DSTT2. The CID was adamantly opposed. Harrell simply decided he was not going to be the person who forced a station on 5th on the CID, and ST did a very poor job of outreach and negotiating mitigation with the CID for such a station.
Similarly, the DSA and downtown businesses opposed a 6–10-year construction of a station in midtown that would either be extremely deep or close down 5th or 6th (or 4th) for years. Again Harrell decided he would not force such a station on these stakeholders he is desperately trying to keep in downtown Seattle.
Interlining is not part of ST3, and is a last resort remedy if there isn’t enough money for WSBLE. Interlining would mean Seattle would lose $1.1 billion in subarea contributions, so it was never a realistic alternative, and never part of the DEIS. It might be someday if the money runs out, but not today.
So where else to put the stations from Sodo to Westlake? That is the real issue. If they are in midtown, they will be very deep to avoid years of disruption (even though there will be years of disruption). They won’t be on 5th next to the CID. No one has $800 million for a station on 4th Ave. S. Most on this blog panned the midtown station, and even the CID station because it did not have a center platform.
So if anyone on this blog was King for a day where would you site the two stations from Sodo to Westlake for DSTT2 that is even plausibly within budget, doesn’t create a decade of disruption, isn’t super deep, is near the other stations so folks can transfer, remembering transit riders are really not a powerful stakeholder?
The only stations that meet all the criteria I see are CID N/S, and those require the optimistic claim DSTT2 will “capture” $400 million in development revenue to meet the $2.2 billion price tag + $160 million for CID N/S, so I guess any alternative stations better create $400 million in development revenue because that is baked into the budget.
Oh just shut UP about the “$1.1 billion”. Not digging DSTT2 south of Westlake will save FAR MORE than the lost contributions because it saves two building two deep stations, and the other sub-areas will have to contribute some proportional but far smaller amount to capacity expansions in DSTT1. Everybody wins budgetarily.
You graduated from UW Law so ipso facto you’re a pretty smart guy. Why is this not obvious to you?
Tom, you miss the point. The question is why it isn’t obvious to Harrell, Constantine, Morales and Gonzales, not me? I live in E KC.
Because they see value in a second transit tunnel through downtown Seattle that is half paid for by the four other subareas, and will cost N KC $1.1 billion it apparently thinks it has.
I don’t think it will cost $2.2 billion, and have doubts all the subareas have their share, but I am not on the Board or mayor of Seattle.
The four decision makers I list above are smart people and represent N KC. Dow was in my law school class. Ask them why interlining wasn’t even an amendment or option in the DEIS. My rep Balducci did the smart thing and made sure her subarea would use DSTT1 since the Seattle reps and members had decided there would be two tunnels.
If DSTT2 does cost $2.2 billion, ALL the subareas have their share, then if I were Harrell I would definitely vote for DSTT2 over interlining, and can’t really think of any station options other than CID N/S. I would just want to make sure my subarea used DSTT1 because it continues north and few want to go to Ballard even though it is the fourth largest urban growth area in Seattle, which really means all of WSBLE is a very poor use of transit funds based on dollar per rider mile. I voted against ST 3, but Seattle voted yes, so here we are. No reason to blame me.
Oh, and if you’re going to whine that I said that I trusted ST’s estimates for the Westlake-Massachusetts Street segment, I would point out that $2.36 billion is indeed “a LOT MORE” than $1.1 billion.
I guess does anyone know if they need to completely rebuild the 4th street viaduct for the deep 4th avenue option as well? Or is that only pertaining to the shallow/shallower option.
So you are asserting that Constantine and Harrell are willing to force a poorer set of transit destinations on the riders living in one quadrant of the City, make access to the airport less convenient for those of another plus all the folks farther north, and relegate two quadrants of them to time-consuming access to transit in the CBD, all just to “shake down” the other sub-areas? Even worse, you are fine that they’re doing it without the merest nod to the possibility that the projections made nearly a decade ago in a different economic environment may have changed permanently?
You choose to throw up your hands and chuckle about “The Stupid Libs” while they do it instead of buttonholing them in your primary workplace — which they also frequent — and telling them that there is a better way?
What a great American you are!
P.S. Yes. I misquoted myself. It should have been “FAR MORE”.
WL, good question. I don’t think the whole thing needs to be rebuilt with the Deep Fourth option, just the two blocks just south of Second South Extension where the station would be. That’s why “Shallower” is so much more expensive.
But “Deeper” is another slow access castle in the ground.
Based on my memory of an SDOT comment letter submitted to ST (which I’m having trouble finding now), 4th Ave Shallower has more impacts on other bridges north and south of the station, presumably due to interactions with foundations. Most notably this apparently includes some amount of reconstruction of the Yesler Street bridge, which was rebuilt by SDOT in 2017.
These impacts seem wildly overstated, but I’m not a structural engineer and don’t know the foundation design of these structures. Maybe the increased cost ($100M over the 4th Ave Shallow alternative) is the contingency for potential impacts based on low-risk tolerance for settling/subsidence caused by the TBM?
I forgot there was an actual “4th Avenue Deep” option as opposed to “4th Avenue Shallow” or “4th Avenue Shallower”.
TT is right – 4th Avenue Deep is going deep to avoid surface impacts and reconstruction of the viaduct.
Regardless though, I do agree with Daniel, if they want to split the spine then you’ll need some transfer station and I can’t think of some easier way to build a station near CID.
The only other ideas I can think of is the Lumen parking lot which would be relatively easy to build but honestly that is farther at around 600~700 and it would probably be easier just to transfer at a Pioneer square station. (Idk maybe add some airport moving walkways?) Or the i90 in the sky station idea described by Mike.
If we want 4th the only way I see it is the viaduct is not rebuilt fully — probably to a smaller scale of 3/4 lanes rather than the current 6 lanes. I’m not quite sure who to ask for permission for a smaller viaduct but if it’s possible could bring the cost down quite a lot.
For 5th sound transit will have to offer something more than just saying after displacing these businesses we can build TOD on the land.
“What matters is not the situation as of March 22nd, but what now happens afterward, as boardmembers and the public have time to digest the two amemdments, the debate session, the unexpectedly mixed public testimony, and the brand-new single-tunnel proposal lurking in the background. What the board said on March 22 may not be exactly the same as what it says on April 22 or May 22 or in 2024. The illusion that all CID players are on the same side has been shattered. The board will continue to grapple with the costs of its plan, which will become clearer as the EIS is completed. People may find they can no longer defend their previous positions. Pushback against ultra-poor transfers may become more widespread. The single-tunnel alternative may gain more traction in a few months or next year. And if it does, we’re ready with a preliminary outline and some analysis of the tradeoffs, that ST can start from.”
If the Board and ST actually acknowledge WSBLE is unaffordable, or some subareas don’t have their full contribution, then the DEIS could be reopened to study interlining. I have suggested affordability will be the one issue that could reopen interlining, but it would be a major change to ST 3 and ST’s capacity arguments and Seattle will fight it bitterly, and ST is not known for honesty when it comes to project cost estimates.
After all, how can one tunnel be better than two if you are Seattle? But until then interlining will not be part of the DEIS. It is not “lurking” in the background, and 99% of the ST district citizens have no idea what DSTT2 or WSBLE even mean. The Board members have gone back to their day job. We are wasting our time arguing for interlining after the vote because it is not part of the DEIS and so ST will not study it.
“The illusion that all CID players are on the same side has been shattered.” I disagree with this comment, and think Barnett’s reporting was unclear, to say the least.
The petition actually stated the CID persons who signed it wanted both a shallow 4th Ave. station that the CID is not willing to contribute to (not a station on 5th) that would cost $800 million, AND mitigation ($$$) for the disruption. Plus the DSA and business interests still don’t want a station in midtown. No chance after the accusations of racism by CID representatives that they will get a station at 4th and mitigation. Somers was right that the Board should have never voted to add a station on 4th to the DEIS because it has zero chance because it is unaffordable and only raises false hope, and the CID isn’t going to get s%$t from the Board.
The parts of WSBLE to focus on now are SLU, Ballard and WS. These areas and what they are willing to pay for in a LID (the CID was unable to pay for anything and wanted mitigation) and will accept in design and disruption will decide if WSBLE gets built at all. My guess is transit fans are going to be disappointed one station after another.
If the Board has to reopen the DEIS to add interlining as an option because it has “discovered” WSBLE is not affordable despite an increase in estimated cost from $6 billion to $15 billion which is now is of public record then it means WSLBE is not affordable and that would mean going back to square one.
I have never thought DSTT2 or WSBLE were remotely affordable and think the likely outcome, and admission by a future Board, is that WSBLE will have to be scrapped. You don’t need interlining if there are only Lines 1 and 2, and I think that will be the eventual outcome. I think a DSTT2 with stations at CID N/S and good stations in SLU, Ballard, and WS is a better outcome than no WSLBE, but I think no WSLBE will be more likely because the money just isn’t there for N KC, and Harrell won’t contribute one dime of city money. Interlining won’t be a happy day.
“If the Board and ST actually acknowledge WSBLE is unaffordable, or some subareas don’t have their full contribution, then the DEIS could be reopened to study interlining.”
That’s what I’m saying: they could add it at any time for this or other reasons, either before the EIS is finished, or in a supplemental EIS after it’s finished. Normally we don’t like to see adding late alternatives and dragging out the process, but this is an unprecendented and probably unique situation.
The default position is the North/South alternative, and that may be more than 50% likely, but it’s not 100% certain.
“We are wasting our time arguing for interlining after the vote because it is not part of the DEIS and so ST will not study it.”
You just contradicted yourself. You said above it could be added, and you believe the current plan is unaffordable and some subareas (e.g., Pierce) won’t be able to pay their existing share. That would be a brick wall which would force ST to do something different. That “It’s not part of the DEIS so we can’t do it” is a circular argument: ST could add it to the DEIS.
Regarding that December 2015 change to split the spine and build a second tunnel: the board on March 22nd didn’t want to reconsider that. One staff member said the reason for DSTT2 was platform capacity issues. I think that was him remembering off the top of his head, and that’s not necessarily all of it. At the time it seemed to be train-signaling issues. In any case, a thorough review would reveal all the issues and the reasoning behind them, and they could be reevaluated. The board is not willing to do this now, but who knows how individual opinions might change in the future.
“admission by a future Board, is that WSBLE will have to be scrapped.”
If that happens, if the board determines WSBLE can’t be built as planned, or it would take longer than they’re willing to extend ST3, then I think boardmembers would suggest at least one or more alternatives to scrapping the whole thing, and there would be a debate on them. The single-tunnel alternative might reappear as one of those options. I can’t see a boardmember proposing to cancel WSBLE, some activists pushing for the single-tunnel alternative, and another boardmember coming up with another proposal, and then the board just immediately passes a motion to cancel WSBLE with only a few minutes’ debate and no consideration of other possibilities. That would be such a bit thing and have such large impacts that I think at least a few boardmembers would want to slow it down and consider a few possibilities. Just like how a few boardmembers managed to get a vote on the Constantine/Harrel and Balducci/Millar possibilities this past round.
“Or the i90 in the sky station idea described by Mike.”
That wasn’t by me.
Mike, thank you for challenging Daniel on his inconsistent positioning on a Single-Tunnel Solution (“STS”). It’s not “No Build”, because there are issues of circulation (of both passengers and air) and signaling that would need to be addressed. But it’s inherently an order of magnitude cheaper than digging an unneeded parallel tunnel between Pike and Massachusetts Streets with two new stations, no matter where they are placed.
He says that the Board won’t even consider the STS except as a fall-back after it determines that DSTT2 is unaffordable, and therefore it’s a waste of time to advocate for it.
Then in the next paragraph — sometimes the next SENTENCE — he crows that he has “always said that DSTT2 is unaffordable”. He’s like a wife-beater who blames her for the bruises.
You’re right, I was the guy who originally thought of “Istanbul in The Clouds” for Line 2 to transfer to Line 1 with less walk than at North of CID to Pioneer Square. Thank you for the name “Istanbul” as a nice counterpoint for South of CID to Tlsgwm’s brilliant “Constantinople” for North of CID. I do like “I-90 In The Sky”, too, because of the “internal rhyme”.
It won’t be built, though. It would be weird and windy.
“Single-Tunnel Solution (“STS”). It’s not “No Build”, because there are issues of circulation (of both passengers and air) and signaling that would need to be addressed.”
It’s more than that. Single-tunnel implies at least a Ballard-Westlake and a West Seattle-SODO segment. No Build implies none of that: nothing at all, just canceling WSBLE entirely.
“Then in the next paragraph — sometimes the next SENTENCE — he crows that he has “always said that DSTT2 is unaffordable”. He’s like a wife-beater who blames her for the bruises.”
Tom, when you write something like this on a public blog, and the administrators leave it up, it destroys what little credibility you have, but more importantly harms the credibility of the entire blog, and you have no right to do that.
Serious people, stakeholders, and decision makers don’t write stuff like this, let alone about something as nuanced and complex as DSTT2 and interlining. Even The Stranger and certainly the Urbanist would never allow something like this.
It also doesn’t help when some on this blog, during an active legislative process to adopt the DEIS, use insulting names for the proposed stations Constantine and Harrell proposed. Does anyone think this is how the DSA or Amazon communicate with Harrell or Constantine or ST, or wonder why transit riders always end up with the short end of the stick? Istanbul or Constantinople are sophomoric terms, not very clever I am afraid (and cleverness is a real turnoff in the legal and legislative world), and instantly turn off power brokers like Harrell and Constantine which is why they never read this blog.
If they did read this blog what would they find?
They would find a lawyer (me) posting that based on all the factors Constantine and Harrell had to deal with would have voted with all 16 Board members on the DEIS and CID N/S, except I would have agreed with Somer that it was a mistake to leave a station at 4th Ave. S. in the DEIS. They would see I understood the point of Balducci’s and Millar’s amendments, and of course was not surprised they did not pass because they were not designed to pass. They would also see I have serious reservations about N KC’s ability to fund DSTT2 Or three other subareas) or that it will cost $2.2 billion, or N KC can afford WSBLE. Things THEY ALREADY KNOW. ALL 16 OF THEM.
Then they would see me trying and trying and trying to explain to you how the DEIS works, and the legislative process. You get involved BEFORE the vote, and ideally you have a blog that has built up some credibility that has not been destroyed among the serious and powerful folks by posters like you. You write to your Board member, and meet with them, over and over and over because this is not their day job. They would wonder what in the world you are talking about when you demand interlining AFTER the DEIS when it is not part of the DEIS, ST said there isn’t the capacity, it wasn’t part of ST 3, and only an idiot would think Harrell is going to give up $1.1 billion in subarea contributions to at least run DSTT2 to SLU, the real point of DSTT2 and WSBLE, unless there isn’t the money or neighborhood desire for Ballard and WS that will always be the first cuts if the funding for WSBLE is not there. Maybe one of them would ask did this “Tom Terrific” (and who in the world uses a pseudonym like this) ever email us his concerns, or meet with us, or God forbid contribute to our election, except some staff person would say I am told he is a crank on a crank blog called STB because your posts reflect this blog.
I know you care deeply about interlining although you were about the last to the party, but if probably will never happen, because if the money runs short the last thing Harrell will cut will be the tunnel to SLU. He knows Ballard will choke on the LID, and WS will probably say no thanks, but all he really wanted was a tunnel to SLU, and $1.1 billion for the other subareas to pay for it. They don’t care about WS or Ballard Link because they have no desire to go there so Harrell and Constantine can cut all they want, but they do want a tunnel to SLU.
You need to learn you always don’t get what you want, especially if you don’t participate in the legislative process, don’t understand the legislative process and competing interests, don’t understand the outcome, have very little money or power, use a pseudonym, and post things that instantly destroy any credibility you might have with those who do have money, power, and decision-making authority.
But please don’t harm the credibility of the rest of this blog with your tasteless comments and ignorance.
>remembering transit riders are really not a powerful stakeholder
The idea of being king for a day is that I don’t have to care about “stakeholders.”
“LID the CID”. It sounds very Mercer Islandish, doesn’t it?
Daniel, I too want a tunnel to SLU. If you would read more carefully you’d see that I want to eliminate “DSTT2 between Westlake and Massachusetts Street”. I will admit that when I write “Westlake” I should use “Westlake Center” so that it doesn’t sound like I’m talking about the Avenue. Sometimes I say “Pike Street” or “Pine Street” to be more specific and include the “tails”.
So far as the “sophomoric” naming, another attorney came up with “Constantinople”, so some L.L.B.’s do have a sense of humor.
If Dow Constantine and Bruce Harrell are so thin-skinned that they would reject a good idea because the proponents of that good idea are irreverent “Yippies”, well, maybe they should contemplate how that worked out for Richard Nixon.
And I wasn’t “the last to the party”. I admit I have tried for several years to figure out a way to branch within the tunnel. I began several years before you started reading the blog. After having to abandon branching in the Pine Street tunnel because it narrows east of Westlake Center and the street is quite narrow, I even came up with a plausible solution. Unfortunately, it would tear the hell out of Third Avenue for at least a couple of years and probably more like four or five. It would also require disassembling the tube for the northbound track north of University-Seneca Street and that would certainly give ST the vapors. Just before Martin wrote his first post proposing a stub I threw up my hands and said, “Well, what the heck, just make Ballard a Stub”. Again, I wasn’t the first to propose that.
However, If that isn’t “trying to make a Single-Tunnel Solution work”, I really don’t what one might call it. Actually, I know what you would call it: “sophomoric”.
I certainly wasn’t the first to throw in the towel completely — Ross has been saying “No” to DSTT2 since before the vote, but like all the rest of us here, except maybe Lazarus, we basically agree with you that the City can’t afford the entirety of WSBLE, but we think that of the four major parts of the project: SoDo to Alaska Junction, Massachusetts Street to Westlake, Westlake to Smith Cove, and Smith Cove to downtown Ballard, the most important is Westlake to Smith Cove, with which you apparently agree. I’d rank them 3-4-1-2.
So the problem I have with you is that you refuse to spend some of your “social capital” and, frankly, use your position of influence as an Officer of the Court, probably in both the City and County jurisdictions, to remind those two men aware that there are many reasons “to re-open that decision” as Constantine put it. That decision was made three-quarters of a decade ago in an entirely different business environment for both the City and the Nation as a whole, but especially the City.
> So the problem I have with you is that you refuse to spend some of your “social capital” and, frankly, use your position of influence as an Officer of the Court, probably in both the City and County jurisdictions, to remind those two men aware that there are many reasons “to re-open that decision” as Constantine put it.
I’m a bit confused what exactly you imagine Daniel or even Harrell/Dow to actually do. If they were to go and completely revise it too far I’m not sure it would be supported by the rest of the community. We (or someone) needs to convince the rest first that the single tunnel idea is good before they can move forward with changing the transit proposal that drastically. Currently even Everett/Tacoma/Eastsiders think the new tunnel is necessary.
Or on a more exact level, what gain does the Mayor or the County Executive get from dropping the tunnel? They would just be known as the person who cancelled the new transit tunnel. You’d need to provide some more incentive or rationale than just saying it is affordable.
WL, what I think is the right thing to do is to “re-open” the ridership projections from 2016 that were the genesis of the two-tunnel solution. This is the major problem that progressive government repeatedly runs up against. Situations change but the Processoholics refuse to recognize that they have and bull ahead with “The Plan!”, even when it’s out-of-date.
Yes, the Republicans often game the system with spurious claims of “fiscal irresponsibility”. But this really is fiscal irresponsibility.
They don’t have to make a big to do about it, just make it part of the preparation for the Final EIS.
When I was a DB contractor at lots of places I got a reputation of being “outspoken”, sometimes in a less-than-subtle way. I never got fired for it, though one time I did quit when the PM simply refused to listen. Daniel doesn’t have to be obnoxious. He’s well-known to these folks; they’ll listen.
He even noted that he was in the same UW Law class as Dow Constantine.
Neither Harrell nor Constantine knows about the ins-and-outs of transit. Sure, we’re not “professionals” here, but we understand several orders of magnitude what works with transit than the average elected official. As Daniel asserts, they have much more acute problems in their faces every day.
You can be double-damn-betcha certain that the “Consultants” are not going to suggest an STS, because they want to retire on Sound Transit billings in 2050 when the last TBM holes through in Ballard.
What a fundamentally corrupt system public works is.
Re-establish the CCC, Joe, and get some of this K-rap built for a reasonable price.
Yes, the Republicans often game the system with spurious claims of “fiscal irresponsibility”. But this really is fiscal irresponsibility.
Agreed. To a certain extent, this is just an example of how we are victims to our time. In a different era, the left of center would make the case, while the right of center would point out the flaws. In this case, the right of center party would basically say “Spending money on transit is reasonable, but this is not a good project from a cost/benefit standpoint. We need to get better bang for the buck.”
None of that is happening, because the right has lost all credibility. They oppose even the most cost-effective transit proposals. They would oppose the Broadway/UBC line in Vancouver, even if you built it at half the cost. Even Sara Nelson — a self described Democrat — opposes bike lanes to speed up the 40.
This gets into the other aspect of this (which you mentioned). The people in charge just don’t understand transit. This goes for the people supporting it, and the people opposing it. Everything is polarized, with a greatly oversimplified view of things. There is no nuance. Either you are for transit spending, or against, it.
I would not say that Constantine and Harrell don’t understand transit. A second grader would see that two blocks of an underground maze with lots of stairs is a horrible arrangement.
I see that what they want is to satisfy property owners Downtown. To their political life, this is about real estate and not transit service. The riders are naive pawns in a development poker game. Bluntly put, some blocks are preferred for station sites by land owners and others are not.
It’s also implicit in the effort are all the huge engineering firms and the staff seeking job security to build. The longer it takes and the more elaborate the engineering is, the longer that they have well paying jobs and corporate profits. A 35 year old manager newbie hired in 2018 will be 65 in 2048 when DSTT2 probably finally opens.
Unfortunately, despite all the “liberal” self perception of Seattle, no force has the clout to push back from the developer profit motive. If thousands of CID interests push back to no avail, then who can? The silence of the environmental advocates is particularly noteworthy considering the lack of benefit from the investment.
I even think that a factor is lawsuit avoidance.
Reopening ST ridership estimates reminds of a famous line by a golfer named Sam Snead: never look for your ball where you don’t want to find it.
Ridership estimates — even if honestly re-estimated — would have no impact on what is built in ST 3. Pierce is not going to loan $1.2 billion to the other subareas to build their Link and then have Link end at FW. If necessary, Pierce will scrap the capital improvements to Sounder S., and even Sounder S. itself, but Link is going to run to the Dome.
Same with Everett. SnoCo is not going to have Link terminate at Lynnwood when Everett is the County seat and Link runs to Fife and Redmond. Everett is not Fife is what they think. My guess is E KC will end up loaning SnoCo the funding to complete Everett Link, although hopefully without the dog leg, with a very looooooooong maturity on the loan.
The reality is honest ridership estimates today would likely show East Link will have the lowest ridership compared to estimates, especially on the eastside, but it got built, and probably Issaquah Link that will have two riders on it. Because it has the money. Ridership estimates won’t really affect DSTT2 because I think DSTT2 will be the last project cut if WSBLE runs into funding problems because it extends Link to SLU, and the Seattle Center, and if you are going to build subways and tunnels you build them to SLU, not in Ballard or WS. A lot of folks focus on the stations at CID N//S, when what they should focus on is Westlake to SLU, and hopefully ST gets that right.
The Board knows ridership estimates were inflated, and so were future population growth estimates, and Rogoff told them last June the ticking time bomb is farebox recovery and rising O&M cost estimates due to declining ridership vs. “optimistic” predictions to sell the levies. I mean, how ridiculous is it for Harrell to tweet out asking us for ideas about how to convert office towers in downtown Seattle to residential as though we know more than Moody’s analytics, or his staff is unaware that report was the subject of a major article in The NY Times. But Harrell is a smart guy. His tweet is designed for some other reason, although I am not sure what it is.
Ridership has nothing to do with what will get built. Never did because ST always knew the estimates were false but hopes eternal. What matters now is capital funding, and that will determine what gets built (and how much E KC has to “loan” to other subareas), where the cuts will first occur if necessary (WS and Ballard, not DSTT2), and down the road the ticking time bomb: rising O&M cost estimates and much lower farebox recovery when the original goal of 40%, even including the suburban lines, was also “optimistic”.
A good lesson I learned practicing law when I got to the point I could get good cases is assume everything you know the other (better) attorney with the checkbook knows, which makes life easier because I know exactly what the other side will do. It is like playing chess with someone better than you. You lose, but you know early on exactly how you will lose (unless your opponent is Bobby Fisher). Same with ST and the Board. They know all of this if I do.
Constantine and Harrell and the Board know everything we know so are not going to go looking for their ball where they don’t want to find it when ridership has nothing to do with what gets built because otherwise most of Link would never get built. Who knows, maybe the downtown Seattle work commuter will return, or this area will grow by 1 million residents over the next 20 years who all want to urbanize or ride Link, or WS residents will fall in love with Link, or eastsiders will decide Link is better than driving, or Harrell will magically find a way to convert office towers into residential at a reasonable cost and folks will want to live downtown even though they no longer work there.
That is what I call looking for your lost ball in the fairway.
“He’s like a wife-beater who blames her for the bruises.”
“Serious people, stakeholders, and decision makers don’t write stuff like this, let alone about something as nuanced and complex as DSTT2 and interlining. Even The Stranger and certainly the Urbanist would never allow something like this.”
I view the comments section as a discussion among friends, and sometimes friends say less-than-nice things but don’t mean it as a serious insult. When I read the wife-beater metaphor, my thought was I wasn’t sure how accurate it was to the situation, and I’m still not sure. I could censor it, but I’m not sure how much of an insult it is. I could also censor your complaint as “whining about moderation policy/practice”. I’ll let Ross decide this since he’s more aggressive about censoring than I am.
STB is a hobby site run by unpaid volunteers. Seattle Subway and TCC and GGLO have people who put on ties and schmooze with the movers and shakers and write legislation proposals, but STB doesn’t.
My “Constantinople” and “Istanbul” station metaphors are of course just a joke. I’ve already been phasing out referring to the North/South alternative as “Constantine/Harrell” and the Restored Spine alternative as “Balducci/Millar”, because over time it will matter less and less who initially tweeted about them. In fact, Balducci/Millar registered all three alignment-alternative amendments, even the ones they disagreed with. Politicians reading STB know it’s the public speaking informally, so I don’t think metaphoric station names will derail any proposal. Note that I didn’t use those names in article titles or bodies, only in comments.
The problem with saying that STB is “just a hobbyist site” is that it’s at odds with other claims made in the past (I believe including by you, though apologies if you did not and I am misremembering) which state that STB started out as an advocacy site and has had non-trivial impact in effecting change upon the outcomes.
If it’s a hobbyist site and everyone treats it as a hang-out in their best friend’s living room, then so be it, but then we shouldn’t assume that there will be anything useful coming out of it, it’s just venting.
It appears to me that, if effecting change is the goal, as some here have advocated, then the venue cannot be run as “just” a living room hangout or venting site.
I have no stake in the matter; it’s all’y’all’s blog and you do as you please. But IMHO (and it is genuinely humble) the “venting” method will not be particularly great at effective change, not in this specific case (the “no DSTT2” outcome). It will require organized advocacy. If you all who run the blog don’t want to take that on, I totally understand. But then it may be wise to strongly clarify that, so that those who do have that goal (and I think that there are a few who do) will dedicate their energy towards that purpose in other venues which will do the advocacy required.
Just my two cents, etc.
“The problem with saying that STB is “just a hobbyist site” is that it’s at odds with other claims made in the past (I believe including by you, though apologies if you did not and I am misremembering) which state that STB started out as an advocacy site and has had non-trivial impact in effecting change upon the outcomes.”
It’s both, and has always been both. I don’t see a contradiction between the two. I’m not changing the site’s direction and I don’t think I have. We can discuss it more in the next open thread where there’s more room. STB also has a unique niche in presenting transit best-practices analysis and proposals, which I think is a third thing.
We definitely need to discuss how to advocate for the Single-Tunnel alternative and the other WSBLE issues, and whether STB needs to do something different than it has in the past, and whether it can fulfill that role. The whole WSBE situation downtown is complicated, with multiple issues and tradeoffs. I’ve said repeatedly that I like the Single-Tunnel alternative best now, but I could still support a couple other alternatives as a compromise, so I’m not sure how much I could be single-mindedly focused on Single-Tunnel or doing intense activism for it. My main focus now is making people (politicians/public) aware of the possibility, and mentioning it enough that people don’t forget about it, and looking for opportunities to go further with it (i.e., signs of the politicians/public being more willing to consider it).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the blog cannot try to do both (or even all three, as you pointed out there is the education component, too).
I am simply pointing out that in my __humble__ opinion it cannot do so effectively, so I am encouraging a discussion as to what the most effective way to engage is. What I would not like to see is people with a lot of enthusiasm who get discouraged because their efforts do not materialize in any significant change – not if there are better ways for them to spend that same level of effort. So I think that the discussion is worth having for that reason alone. I agree that we can postpone it until the next open thread, though :)
First off, I hope this comment nests correctly given the length of this segment of the commentary. Lol.
“Ridership estimates — even if honestly re-estimated — would have no impact on what is built in ST 3.
That’s a rather bold statement, particularly since the current financial plan relies upon over $15B of grant funding.
Tisgwm, to the extent ridership affects grant funding that is consistent with my comment that funding rather than actual ridership will affect whether the capital Link projects get built. If there is the money Issaquah Link, WSBLE, DSTT2, TDLE, and Everett Link will get built and will likely receive federal grants despite the fact we all know the ridership estimates are rubbish.
From what I can see with Link or other transit projects around the country ESTIMATED ridership is rarely questioned by the Feds. Look at the ridership estimates for WSLE Martin has discovered from the actual DEIS vs the cost, or what were likely the ridership estimates for The Central Line in SF (that of course was estimated to cost 1/3 of actual costs but was in Pelosi’s district) that today has 3000 riders/day, or the 1300/day ridership estimates for downtown Redmond, and I would argue the power of the federal political representatives and political party of the President likely determine whether questionable transit ridership estimates — especially rail — are really scrutinized. The estimated ridership is simply inflated. ST still estimates 53,000 daily riders on East Link.
That is why ST is never going to revisit its pre-pandemic ridership estimates. They don’t matter as far as the capital projects go, and never have despite being inflated, but will matter when it comes to future O&M budgets that depend on ACTUAL ridership.
With Patty Murray chair of appropriations I doubt federal funding for Link will get a close scrutiny. She wants that funding for her state, whether it is a wise use of federal money or not, and she has a lot of power and her party is in love with rail.
Mike, thanks. The “simile”, which I admit was crude and potentially insulting was not in any way meant to imply that Daniel is anything but a gentleman in his interpersonal relationships. I actually do like his accuracy and erudition and admire his stamina and willingness to take heat for locally unpopular positions.
In the simile the wife is “Progressives” and “Transit Activists”. You can decide for yourself who might be the wife-beater. It certainly might be me; I can be pretty scornful when BEBT(*) newbies come dashing in breathlessly with an idea we’ve been discussing on and off for a couple of years.
Or it might be Daniel, who does like to take a little nick of flesh out of the Progs and Transit Geeks from time to time.
* — “Bright Eyed and Bushy Tailed”
I would not say that Constantine and Harrell don’t understand transit
I would. OK, that is a bit harsh, and almost nonsensical. Like a lot of things, there are various degrees of understanding. But I think if there was a “Transit 101” class, neither Constantine or Harrell would be able to take a test instead of the class (the way that Harrell did for calculus*). To put it another way, they would fail the test unless they attended the class. It isn’t that they aren’t capable of learning it, it is that they have focused on other things. Both Harrell and Constantine got a bachelor’s degree in political science, and a J. D. at the UW. This is quite appropriate for their job. But I seriously doubt they took any classes on transit, or even spent much time on it in any of their other classes.
This is normal. Only a small subset of Americans spend time looking or studying transit. I know there are classes in transit (https://cuppa.uic.edu/academics/upp/upp-programs/certificates/ptpm-certificate/) but I don’t think the UW offers anything. Nor do I think either man has spent time looking at the issue. This, to me, is the real issue. There are only a handful of people who study transit in school. Many pick it up later. Jarrett Walker got a Ph.D. in theatre arts and humanities at Stanford. Obviously he got additional education later, but a lot of the information he picked up on his own (or as an intern at TriMet). There is plenty of science surrounding various transit issues, but much of “transit 101” is self taught. I just don’t think Harrell or Constantine have taught themselves transit issues. They are too busy dealing with their regular jobs.
Again, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with that. The problem is that they are put in this position. They don’t realize that there lack of knowledge is a big problem and thus they make incorrect assumptions. Neither Constantine nor Harrell is to blame for coming up with the idea of a “spine”, but it is the same, fundamental problem. It is based on ignorance. People who have a solid understanding of transit — and certainly experts in the field — would not propose that. What is true of the spine is true of almost all of the major projects in ST3, and definitely true of the second tunnel.
* I only know this because my sister was in the same calculus class as him in high school.
Don’t forget, Constantine also has a Master’s degree in Urban Planning, so he probably did have to study some transit planning. I’m not saying that makes him an expert in transit planning, but because of his degree, he probably believes he’s an expert in it.
I think that is a fair and accurate statement Ross. But Presidents, governors and mayors usually don’t have expertise in the technical details. That is why they have agencies and agency heads. Like Spotts.
An executive’s expertise is politics. What to prioritize and why. The art of what is possible, and affordable, with usually a dozen competing ideas and stakeholders.
They are not Kings. They know they must prioritize what their voters prioritize. They have dozens of issues on their plates. If the lament is that they don’t prioritize transit more my guess is they would tell you, one of many competing interests, to get the citizens to make transit more of a priority. ,
Gonzales was the transit candidate not Harrell. Harrell’s voters mostly don’t ride transit (in fact 90% don’t ride transit). Constantine represents all of king Co. and most of it is transit agnostic.
Politicians are different because they learn and can accept 49% of the voters can hate them or their priorities (and around 45.% will no matter what which like Harrell is considered a landslide) and they win.
Crime, schools, jobs, housing, healthcare, kids, these are the things that truly touch people’s lives and do voters prioritize those. Most would look at how much this region spends on transit — even if the choices are not always the best — on think that is adequate for an issue they and the stakeholders from the CID to DSA don’t prioritize.
Of course; you are absolutely correct about that. The County Council wisely decided over a decade ago to involve itself less in bus planning. They issued some guidelines and IIRC “ranking criteria” and let Metro staff largely make those decisions.
However, digging a second tunnel through downtown Seattle two blocks from the existing one is more than just “transit”; it is an enormous financial commitment of historic proportions. You say this over and over, and I think most people on the Blog have come to agree with you.
The “need” for this new facility was identified in late 2015 during the finalization of the list of projects to be included in ST3. It was a surprise at the time, and largely arose from a comparison between the facilities to be built to serve West Seattle and those for Ballard. Plus, South Lake Union’s development was on a tear and everyone said, “How did we forget about that?!?”
The future looked rosy for the region, with Amazon adding hundreds of jobs a month, so the new tunnel, which would certainly add capacity to move trains through downtown Seattle and would serve at least the edge of SLU, was added. Adding “true Link” to Ballard also allowed Everett Link to be bent to serve the Paine Field industrial area as well. Everybody got some cheese.
In the ensuing few years — before the Neutron Bomb of the Pandemic hit — increases in transit ridership nearly ceased. People blamed “The Convention Center” — another enormous financial commitment that the County undertook — and “kicking the buses out” of the existing tunnel then, but the clear message that it’s not “rebounding” after the Pandemic is clear now.
So, the Board’s slap-dash “solution” to the objections of some vocal CID groups — and in particular the County Executive’s callous refusal to even consider re-analyzing the need for the new tunnel — is fiscal misfeasance on a stunning scale.
The North King Sub-Area is going to garner a lot of money from the various taxes ST levies over the next twenty-five or thirty years, and certainly has the ability to build at the very least two of the four elements of WSBLE and probably three of them, depending which three it chooses to build.
Clearly, the most expensive is the stretch Pike Street to Smith Cove inclusive, but it’s also the most useful. It will have four underground stations and probably an elevated one if completed, plus about five and a half miles of one-way tunnel bore.
The next most expensive is likely to be SoDo to somewhere in West Seattle. It will feature a svelte clone of the iconic West Seattle High Bridge with longer approaches, because “train”, a long and mostly rather tall elevated structure through the Youngstown neighborhood with a station having platforms more than fifty feet in the air and a terminating tunnel with two underground stations as planned. But probably just one.
The section of the tunnel to be dug between Massachusetts and Pike Streets just got a lot cheaper, but it also became much less “useful” since its previously compact transfer hub has been replaced by a Rube Goldberg, twisting, up-and-down underground passageway almost two blocks long and service to the upper office core of downtown has been dropped.
Since ridership to that office core is the primary casualty of the past five years’ declines first in the growth and then in the actual numbers of patronage of ST’s services, maybe that loss is not a bad thing, but “Midtown’s” placement next to Columbia Center, City Hall and the Library were main “selling points” of the new tunnel.
The least costly segment of the project is Smith Cove to Market Street, and it is almost certain to be the segment chopped if the second tunnel is built and the money runs out. The Coast Guard’s desire to repair the yachts of Russian oligarchs somewhere in Lake Union has scuppered the High Bridge idea, and nobody wants an opening Bridge, so a tunnel under The Ship Canal and an underground station it will be for Ballard! That’s expensive enough to put completing the entire project out of reach.
West Seattle has always been the worst “value” for its cost, but it’s the only significant “Early Win” available to North King. It’s also easy to do in isolation because its trains are planned to use the existing tunnel, so it will be built first. The most valuable segment, Westlake to Smith Cove, would have to be planned as a “Stub” to be built next. Either an MF would have to be included or a non-revenue connecting tunnel added to support “standalone” service to SLU, LQA and Smith Cove.
So the RDSTT (“Redundant Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel”) will be step two, because to authorize the MF or the connecting tunnel would be tantamount to The Board “giving up on” RDSTT.
The money will run out somewhere between “South Lake Union Station” and the Seattle Center Station, and the cross-overs just North of Denny Way Station will serve as the “platform selectors” for a terminal at SLU Station. It’s not optimal, but they’re “close enough” to the platforms. Bet on it.
So, It is the ultimate irony that the effort to improve the “quality” of the facility to be built to serve Ballard will likely result in Ballard’s having no facility at all if the second tunnel section is completed.
At the end of the day in 2045 or so, North King will have spent fifteen billion dollars on service to West Seattle that few people ride, a severe degradation of the destinations for Southeast Seattle riders, and a Very Short Stub of two stations in South Lake Union that will be primarily used by riders who transfer at Westlake Center, no matter how convoluted the path.
However, four-term Governor Dow Constantine will be able to “cut the ribbon” at SLU Station, between stops on his “listening tour” of the State where he “expresses concern” for the difficulties people are having traveling around the region.
“However, digging a second tunnel through downtown Seattle two blocks from the existing one….”
I think I pretty much agree with everything you’ve spelled out in your commentary above (the one beginning with the above cited sentence). It truly is a remarkable lack of long-range vision by KC Exec Constantine, Seattle Mayor Harrell, as well as most of the members of the current ST Board. I do get the irony that you’ve highlighted as well.
Btw, the visual of that elevated guideway over to the Delridge station and climb over the Youngstown neighborhood to its tunnel portal is certainly going to be something, and perhaps something still discussed by Seattle denizens long after I’m gone.
“Ask them why interlining wasn’t even an amendment or option in the DEIS”
We only published the single-tunnel idea three days before the board meeting. The board was preoccupied with two other alternatives proposed five days and seven days before the meeting. By the time of the meeting, most boardmembers had probably never heard of the single-tunnel alternative or thought about it, none of the transit/neighborhood/activist sites had had a previous article about it, and only one person mentioned it in public testimony. So it’s not surprising the board wasn’t ready to introduce or vote on an amendment for it.
What matters is not the situation as of March 22nd, but what now happens afterward, as boardmembers and the public have time to digest the two amemdments, the debate session, the unexpectedly mixed public testimony, and the brand-new single-tunnel proposal lurking in the background. What the board said on March 22 may not be exactly the same as what it says on April 22 or May 22 or in 2024. The illusion that all CID players are on the same side has been shattered. The board will continue to grapple with the costs of its plan, which will become clearer as the EIS is completed. People may find they can no longer defend their previous positions. Pushback against ultra-poor transfers may become more widespread. The single-tunnel alternative may gain more traction in a few months or next year. And if it does, we’re ready with a preliminary outline and some analysis of the tradeoffs, that ST can start from.
+10. Well said. (And needed to be said imho.)
These stations do not meet your own criteria.
City/County have to add $400M at least – not within ST’s budget.
The disruption of these stations hasn’t been assessed, and will likely be 6-10 years of continuous closure of James street and portions of 4th Avenue.
shallower than 140′ is a low bar, but sure, 85′ isn’t “super deep” relatively.
CID N: 2-3 escalators and more than a city block is a generous interpretation of near
CID S: 5-10 min to anything, and is in the armpit of I-90 and the East Link curve.
CID South is not really a plausible location for any light rail station — period.
They put it in hoping we would shut up because, “Hey look, you’re getting two CID stations now!”
Not falling for it.
Oh, there’s a fanciful vision for filling the area between Fifth and the freeway from Royal Brougham to Seattle Way/Dearborn with a very high density neighborhood. Sixth and Plummer would be a great site for a station to serve it, but whether it comes to anything or not remains to be seen.
The truth is, Stadium could serve the neighborhood also.
If they move forward with CID North, they will likely cancel CID South station. The original proposal by Dow only included CID North.
Very possibly, though they might include a bare station box for the developer of the area to complete.
“The city that pioneered electric scooters will take them off the street—and big rental operators are fuming.”
It may be the start of a trend, or it may not. There are mixed impacts of Uber, scootershares, and bikeshares. There are factions for and against each of them, and the majority view in each city may change over time. There’s also the difference between politicians introducing something, and voters stating their opinion in a referendum. Sometimes politicians like something more than voters due, or public opinion changes, or the product changes and becomes less beneficial.
I’ve always been skeptical of Uber, and wonder if it will really last. I was afraid scootershares would make the sidewalks unsafe, but that hasn’t happened: scooter use is mostly benign, and my only annoyance is occasionally misparked vehicles. But the cost structure isn’t what it was with the first bikeshare: they’re much more expensive per trip, so that deters me from using them. That in turn makes me wonder what’s the point in keeping them. I won’t actively try to get them removed, but if there was a referendum, I’m not sure how I’d vote. I may even start using them occasionally, although I don’t know when that might be.
I have never used them either, in large part, due to the price. I’ve found that there is essentially no distance where the scooters make sense. Anything short enough longer than a couple of miles, you’re paying a lot more for the scooter than you would riding the bus, and if you’re in a hurry, willing to spend money to save time, you probably want Uber’s car service, rather than the scooter service, unless traffic is at a complete standstill. For short trips, the scooters aren’t competing with cars and transit so much as walking and jogging. Spending $4 and 8 minutes to scooter somewhere I could just jog to for free in 10 minutes seems like poor value to me. And that’s not a even getting to the issue that, on Seattle’s steep hills, the scooters are downright dangerous – at least Paris is flat.
I also dislike the per-minute pricing in general, particularly how the trip meter continues to run each time you stop for a red light or ship canal bridge opening. For some trips, you’re actually paying more for time stopped than time moving, which seems quite unfair, and for each minute at a red light to cost you just as much in a rental scooter as in a taxi feels like outright price gouging.
And, environmentally, these scooters are not so great either. Scooters out in the wild have a surprisingly short lifespan, which is typically measured in months, not years. When they stop working, a lot of them end up abandoned in parks and lakes. And, while the scooter ride itself might be emission free, the gig worker’s gas guzzler that repositions the scooter at the end of your trip certainly isn’t. All in all, it would not shock me the least if a conventional car service, if operated with electric vehicles, ends up having a lower carbon footprint per passenger-mile than scooter share.
https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/03/world/europe/paris-electric-scooters-ban.html Great news from Paris. The clutter undisciplined parking is dangerous and obnoxious; they often block curb ramps, bus stops, and sidewalks. They are often used dangerously.
Doesn’t Paris also have a very extensive and popular dock-based bikeshare system, and a similarly extensive bike lane network? Scooters are dangerous (and it seems like they would be especially dangerous on Paris’ many rough cobblestone streets), but they are popular in Seattle. Maybe if SDOT can paint enough bike lanes to make something like Pronto feasible again, banning scooters would be worthwhile.
> The clutter undisciplined parking is dangerous and obnoxious;
Honestly I find cars blocking sidewalks whether parked improperly or edging into the crosswalk when making right turns much much more often than escooters. Also the city could add few bike/escooter parking spots in popular areas. They really take up a miniscule amount of space compared to the swaths of street parking given to cars.
> They are often used dangerously.
Are you talking about the escooters being dangerous for pedestrians or dangerous for the riders?
For the first one, a lot of the conflict stems from not having bike lanes. I mean if on Aurora or Rainier I doubt one can escoot or for that matter even bike safely without fear of a vehicle hitting them.
For the latter, I checked and from https://komonews.com/news/local/hundreds-of-riders-report-getting-injured-from-riding-electric-scooters-in-seattle:
> The reasoning for the crashes included weather, potholes or raised pavement, and interactions with drivers.
I won’t try to sugarcoat it, there is definitely a learning curve with using an escooter (that hopefully is helped by the first time slow speed handicap), but also a lot of the issues again come from car conflicts. These issues really aren’t that different than what happens for bikers.
Why do Seattle streetcars run on the sides of the road on Westlake and Broadway, but run in the middle of the road on Jackson? And why did most all streetcars run in the middle of the road in the early 1900’s?
Center street running was pretty common in the early years.
At least some of this is probably because that’s where traffic flowed both directions, and many streetcar lines were single track with passing sections. These passing sections could be exceedingly frequent. When they dug up Portland’s Montavilla line a few of years ago, there were passing sidings about every block. The track switches were operated by springs so they weren’t especially expensive and didn’t need an operator. Cars would always move to the track on the right side when passing, so having the switch only operate in one direction wasn’t an issue.
It should be noted though the years before maximizing auto throughput, city streets were a general purpose utility and the center seems likely to have been the most reliable clear space for anything needing to go through.
Witness this from 1906 San Francisco (famous as it was from a cable car several days before the big earthquake leveled almost everything in the movie). Note that there aren’t any particular rules about what area is dedicated to what use:
That video is great! It’s hard to tell if the streetcar had designated stops, or they stopped when asked or flagged down, or both.
You’d have to ask SDOT why. Jackson Street is more congested, denser, and more constrained than Broadway or Westlake. It has four bus routes in the side lanes (14, 36, 49, 106), two of them ultra-frequent and one frequent. It also serves as the path to the base for other trolley routes.
Historically streets were horse-carriage ways. When streetcars were invented, they were the primary and fastest form of transportation so they had the right of way in the center. The original streets were mud-prone dirt roads, so the tracks and streetcars were the only reliable thing about them.
> Why do Seattle streetcars run on the sides of the road on Westlake and Broadway, but run in the middle of the road on Jackson? And why did most all streetcars run in the middle of the road in the early 1900’s?
To expand on Glenn’s answer a bit, part of it really has to do with the station placement. In the past with trolley’s placing in the center was the fastest but also there weren’t requirements for level boarding. For example SF’s muni https://goo.gl/maps/R8pw2PjH7tjxU9w7A not every stop actually has a ramp for you to get off. Or there’s weird road / trolley stop/ another road lane.
For Westlake (4 lanes) they need to have level boarding somewhere so had it on the sidewalk, that meant you needed to have the streetcar on the right side. For Broadway (4 lanes) instead they opted to narrow the road in certain areas to add the station on the right/left side so you could still exit on the right side (https://goo.gl/maps/m5yg47rsvxA5B1238). For Jackson instead there are (5 lanes) so there was space to put a median station in the middle and have people exit off the left onto the median station.
Though the Westlake description isn’t quite accurate, technically there is parking on both sides so it is more like 5/6 lanes. Another option would be to have median stations and remove parking on one side so you could still maintain 2 through lanes.
Slightly on topic, this is also how the RapidRide G has center platform stations and can be in the ‘left’ lane sometimes. The new BRT busses have doors on the left in addition to the right.
Here’s a pic of Seattle’s 1st Av from around 1906ish. It’s looking north from Cherry St. If you expand the pic, you’ll see a lone streetcar in the center of the road. BTW, the buildings on the near left are now gone, and replaced with a large parking garage. The large, square building in the center, called the Colman building, is still standing today. Same dude at Colman Dock. Also, notice all the pedestrians back then! Anyway, how would someone catch that streetcar back in the day?
This is how Buster Keaton caught cable cars operating in the middle of the street:
I expect the primary reason is the overhead on Jackson. Streetcars with pantographs cannot run in the same direction directly under the two wire overhead of ETB’s without “shorting” the two wires. That’s the reason for the elaborate “special work” at 12th and Jackson, and at Broadway and Jefferson, Pine and John.
San Francisco gets around this on Market Street by powering their streetcars with a single trolley pole connected to the “hot” ETB wire. The rails serve as the “ground in alk streetcar systems.
Note the ST board made a poor mode choice of streetcar to mitigate the sad deletion of the First Hill Link station. This was led by Nickels. They chose a monument rather than good service. The ST2 capital cost was about $135 million. Much of that capital could have been shifted to service hours. It could have funded five-minute headway service on electric trolleybus service between East Aloha Street and Pioneer Square; the overhead was in place. The McGinn SDOT chose to have the streetcar deviate to 14th Avenue South to avoid high cost at 12th Avenue South and South Jackson Street. Local trip makers on South Jackson Street have a choice of the FHSC (about five trips per hour per direction) at inside islands or routes 7, 14, 36, or 106 (about 20 trips per hour per direction) at outside stops. The two overhead systems are separate and required extraordinary work; even so, the FHSC uses battery power along much of its pathway.
I’m working on the next open thread. I thought somebody sent me a link or there was a link in a third-party article to an hour-long video about general rail or transit issues. I was going to watch it later for next open thread, but I can’t find it now. Does this sound familiar to anybody? Something from a few days ago or last week?
Was it perhaps this video link I had posted earlier? It was a panel discussion hosted by the TransitCenter in which our own ST CEO Julie Timm participated.
No – but I did want to relay the SR 167 Open House that’s open until April 15th. Lots of good stuff that they’re considering including:
– 21 new or enhanced bus routes
– BRT along 167 with new + increased Sounder service
– Bike + pedestrian facilities, etc.
– Grady/Rainer grade separation for the South Renton Transit Center
This online open house for sr 167 is kinda disorganized but it does look interesting.
The Direct Access ramps for Kent, Auburn and Sumner look interesting. (The black diamond on the maps) Or aka center hov lane exits so busses/hov cars don’t have to exit from the right lane.
> Grady/Rainer grade separation for the South Renton Transit Center
Interesting I didn’t realize they are planning on building a new south renton transit center for the new stride. Also they are already planning for the renton lrt station?
“Interesting I didn’t realize they are planning on building a new south renton transit center for the new stride.”
The City of Renton has been wanting to move the transit center to reduce the number of buses in downtown Renton. That got folded into the Stride project. The new transit center will be at the South Renton P&R. I don’t know exactly where its entrances or access will be.
> The City of Renton has been wanting to move the transit center to reduce the number of buses in downtown Renton. That got folded into the Stride project. The new transit center will be at the South Renton P&R. I don’t know exactly where its entrances or access will be.
It looks like the north east corner of S Grady Ave/ Rainier Ave S. Going West bound it looks relatively simple for the busses to access the Transit Center. However going East bound it does look like kinda of a mess to use the cloverleaf interchange during peak times. I’m kind of surprised they chose a location that they don’t have and aren’t planning on adding a direct access ramp from the hov lanes. Though it does interact well with other bus routes.
Interesting tweet from Harrell:
“The challenges facing our downtown require us to reimagine what’s possible.
is sponsoring a call for innovative ideas on how to convert empty office space into needed housing units. Submit your proposal by April 28.
https://twitter.com/MayorofSeattle/status/1643048237149065216 [See the link for links in the tweet, and replies that lean pretty conservative].
Some other links on converting office buildings to housing are:
As these articles (which I have posted before) note the main concerns are office buildings are designed differently than residential buildings and so often are not convertible, and the cost per sf to convert the buildings to residential is very high.
Probably the biggest hurdle at this time is residential buildings have much less value than (full) office towers, and so prices for office towers will have to fall further, and defaults increase, before conversion makes any kind of economic sense to the owners or lenders. The Wall St. Journal had an article not long ago noting that some investors and venture capitalists are simply walking away from their office tower investments because the loan exceeds the value of the building today with low occupancy and lease rates.
Not to mention, 10% of the City of Seattle’s workforce is fully remote. 10% comes into the office just one day a week. And the other 80% comes in two or more says a week. I’m sure it’s similar percentages over at the County.
If the City, and County, aren’t willing convert some of their own unused office space into housing, they forfeit the right to encourage the private sector to do so. Lead by example, or shut up.
Be careful what you wish for….. If the City tries to convert some of the office space it owns into affordable housing…. it might cost 1 million dollars a unit.
Harrell knows there’s a big problem with downtown office space…. This is why Sound Transit is such a great vehicle to use to get County or City office space demolished and turned into something else.
The replies to Harrell’s tweet were interesting. More like something you would see on Nextdoor rather than The Urbanist, although I think they reflect Harrell’s suburban/SFH voters. It explains IMO some of Harrell’s actions.
The catch-22 is why would someone want to live in a city they are unwilling to work in? That is what the replies get at. Make Seattle a must see, safe, attractive, vibrant place to visit and live and work first, before fantastical ideas about converting older office buildings into new residential buildings that are too expensive per sf and possible in about 10% of the buildings.
The reality is most of the county and city buildings around CID N are either completely closed or obsolete or very awkward to convert, like a jail, admin. building, courthouse, and so on. You can’t simply close a tall office building for several years and then just “open it back up”. Those are teardowns, although the county recently spent $100 million to refurbish the courthouse, except staff and jurors and lawyers refuse to go there, in part because there is no onsite parking so you have to walk through some tough areas to get to the courthouse. Who ever thought a courthouse in Kent would be more popular and vibrant than one in downtown Seattle?
A lot of the unbuilt development in Bellevue can at least pivot to residential, but I don’t see that kind of demand for “urban” multi-family living on the eastside, and areas like Wilburton, East Main, and The Spring Dist. won’t be able to compete with Bellevue Square for retail so why live there?* Getting any kind of bank loan today, especially after First Republic failed based on bad commercial development loans, is about zero.
Once folks started WFH you basically cut in half the amount of office/home space they need because they no longer needed two spaces, one for work and one for living, and this region got duped by Dept. of Commerce future population growth estimates. In 2021 King Co. lost 20,000 residents, in 2022 it gained 14,000 residents, which means county population levels are likely to grow very little over the next 20 years. Inslee and his Dept. of Commerce were just lying about population growth to support upzoning bills with totally dishonest claims like this region will need 1 million homes over the next 20 years.
* Last Friday night my wife and I drove to Redmond to see a movie that was no longer playing anywhere else. The good news is there was no traffic congestion on I-90, 405 or 520 at 5 pm. It had been at least 20 years since I had been in Redmond. Without a doubt some of the worst land use planning and development I have ever seen. The movie theater (we were the only ones in the theater) is in maybe the worst “outdoor” mall I have ever been to, surround by ugly flat sided seven story multi-family buildings my wife said looked like dog crates stacked on top of one another. The bartender told me Redmond had gone to s$%t. Surely I thought a city of 90,000 residents would have a vibrant downtown core so after the movie (this is around 8 pm) we drove downtown. Nothing. Dead. Factoria is ten times more vibrant. There is no chance anyone would take East Link east to Redmond for retail or restaurants over Bellevue, even if they have to hike up the hill to Bellevue Way. What a disappointment Redmond was. It reminded me of Oak Harbor on steroids but without the retail. Redmond reminded me of everything wrong with urbanism when done wrong and cheaply. No way should East Link have been extended to Redmond because no one will go there if they didn’t live there.
“No way should East Link have been extended to Redmond because no one will go there if they didn’t live there.”
I would because I have people who I know live out that way like in Duvall. Just because you won’t use it doesn’t mean someone else isn’t needing to go out that way. Along with how you’re looking at things in a present sense instead of a future sense. Along with Redmond has been upzoning it’s downtown in the last decade by a lot with new developments Downtown. It’s also a logical end point for rapid rail in connecting to local and regional busses for NE King near Redmond to Kirkland, Totem Lake, Duvall, Sammamish, and Woodinville.
I personally love the way Downtown Redmond has grown and developed. The dense housing between Cleveland Street and Bear Creek has exploded, the park finally gives it a gathering place like Marina Park in Downtown Kirkland, Redmond Town Center is a relaxing open-air mall that’s lovely in the summer and is the favorite of my little niece in Beacon Hill (she likes it even more than Alderwood and Southcenter).
The eventual accessibility of Link for those who live in those new housing and who can take the bus to the nearby Redmond Park and Ride adds to the attractiveness of the area. It will be useful for accessing Seattle and Bellevue for work and events. Downtown Redmond just joined Downtown Kirkland as somewhere I’d love to move to if I had the financial and personal independence, and Link is a big reason why.
Michael, I must have missed the vibrant town center. We looked for it on Friday night at 8 pm. Pretty hard to miss Kirkland’s vibrant downtown on Friday night at 8 pm. I also thought a lot of the multi-family construction, especially surrounding the “mall”, was cheap-looking for a city like Redmond, although some of the lower 2-3 story height multi-family/town homes on the way to the mall was nicer, with yards.
The “mall” itself was dead, and a weird design for an outdoor mall in which there is no “interior”, and everything opens onto the very large parking lot with very large gaps between businesses rather than facade density. I have since learned this is a common complaint about the Redmond Mall. Usually in places like Phoenix or CA the parking is on the perimeter of the mall and the stores focused on the interior of the mall. We never found the open-air mall downtown you mention.
I have friends who live in Redmond and used to live in Redmond, and by all accounts as a SFH suburban place to raise a family it is very nice. I was just surprised that for a city that large and wealthy there was so little retail vibrancy or density, and so much of the multi-family construction was so ugly.
My ultimate point however is for anyone living west of Redmond looking for any kind of retail or restaurant density they are going to take Link west to Bellevue, even if they have to walk up the hill. East Link this far east was to serve Microsoft, although that ridership has declined significantly, and then onto Redmond since East Link had gone that far. I just don’t see a lot of eastsiders taking East Link to Redmond for the retail or restaurants with Bellevue to the west.
I always hope density and “urbanism” create retail density and vibrancy, or walkability, but did not find that in Redmond despite the relative wealth of the city and large population gains over the last decade. (Of course, I also think Kirkland has gone too far in the other direction, and its downtown retail/restaurants have lost a lot of charm they once had despite facade density and vibrancy, so maybe I am just hard to please). I will live on East Link and will be able to walk to the station, but I don’t see myself taking it to Redmond with Seattle to the west and Bellevue several stops before Redmond, although as I noted at 5 pm on Friday there was almost no traffic congestion from MI to Redmond.
We can’t base long-term alignment decisions on short-term lack of vibrancy. In ten or twenty years downtown Redmond will look different, and it likely will have more to go to and more residents. The Bellevue-Redmond-Kirkland triangle is the core of the “second city”‘ in the region, and the Eastside already has 300K-ish people, so that alone is enough reason for a 15-mile Link line to Redmond. It was worthwhile with Forward Thrust 1970 when the population was lower, and it’s worthwhile now. Microsoft’s headquarters is one more reason.
Over the years the residents and shops and businesses will change multiple times, and the neighborhood may have a different feel. But unless you think downtown Redmond and all the east Sammamish communities beyond it will be evacuated soon, the Link line will be worthwhile.
You could take Link from Mercer Island to Redmond to walk Redmond’s extensive trail’ network. That’s what asdf2 and I will be doing. I’m also impressed with the number and variety of local independent restaurants and businesses in both the mixed-use buildings and the unconverted one-story buildings. More than I’d expect given downtown Redmond’s size and only-recent development.
What bothers me about downtown Redmond is it feels like a city around a stroad, and the number of one-story buildings with surface parking lots. But again, all that will be different in ten or twenty years. The City of Redmond has been impressive in both its recent density and in streamlining Link permitting rather than being obstructionist. It’s an example for the region.
Redmond Town Center is one of the oldest post-1980s lifestyle centers, so it’s a little dated. It’s not worth writing home about, and it missed out on housing and such. But that’s not the only thing Redmond has. The area I’m most excited about is north of NE 76th Street: Cleveland Street, Redmond Way, and the few blocks north of it. That’s what I consider the center of Redmond’s potentially-vibrant area. Not Redmond Town Center, which is further south and I have less hope for.
Redmond is building the physical potential for vibrancy: the mixed-use buildings with independent restaurants and businesses, the park outside the library/city hall, the trails spreading out from the park, the renovated East Lake Sammamish trail going south to Issaquah (past Redmond Town Center and Marymoor Park), a couple other historical parks east of city hall, etc. All that prepares the physical landscape for vibrancy and people walking around outside. Whether it rises to the occasion depends on what the people and businesses do in the future. And whether you take Link to the restaurants and trails and Marymoor Park, because you’ll be part of the vibrancy and making it happen, or not. Maybe we’ll have an STB meetup/walk there someday, after the full East Link opens.
Mike, your post about future population growth in Redmond and Link ridership is the argument ST is making to validate DSTT2: future capacity. I doubt the future population growth estimates or ST’s Link ridership estimates are even remotely accurately, but like you ST and the Board WANT to believe they are true because they are building ST 3 no matter what.
You’re reading your prejudice into it. I said Link is justified for the CURRENT population level and nature of the cities, and it was justified in the PAST and should have been built forty years ago. You’re the only one saying the Eastside needs a lot of future growth to justify Link, a specific number that you think won’t be reached. Growth has slowed but I don’t see it stopping or reversing. Every time people say Seattle has stopped growing, it starts again in a year or two. The same with Eastside and regional growth. It may be slower, but nobody expected the ultra-high growth rate in 2012-2018 to remain forever or be reached again. We’re not going to suddenly get another Amazon-sized company, or at least there’s no indication of one on the horizon.
You’ll point to the feds and say the grants were predicated on that specific population estimate in twenty years, but to me that’s the fed’s issue and if they’re concerned they’ll tell us. That doesn’t change my opinion that East Link is justified regardless of that, and we public/politicians have a right to vote for what we think would be good for the region, regardless of some arbitrary numeric threshold.
I’ve been to downtown Redmond many times since the pandemic and it seems pretty vibrant to me. I’m not sure where this “ghost town” thing is coming from.
ST is anticipating that the biggest ridership generator for Downtown Redmond Link will be the Marymoor parking garage (3100 boardings). Downtown Redmond is listed as just 1300 boardings. .
I think ST is way over-estimating the number of park and riders at SE Redmond Station. Remember, these estimates were drawn in a former world where far more people commuted every day to downtown Seattle. SE Redmond station will, for sure, get come riders. But, 3100/day feels unreasonably high. The prediction for 1300 riders/day in downtown may also be off, but based on post-pandemic ridership patterns, I don’t think it will be off by nearly as much as the 3100 figure for SE Redmond Station.
Now, it is true that the ridership at SE Redmond Station will not be just park and ride. There’s a bus from Sammamish which might net a whopping 15 riders per day, as well as some big apartment buildings under construction that should generate some walk-up ridership. But, the numbers do not add up to anywhere near 3100 daily riders.
The area around the Redmond Central Park has grown so much since Sound Transit did their rider estimates, I bet the estimates are too low. There is plenty vibrancy there with multiple bakeries, restaurants, library, grocery stores etc. There are also plenty riders going to their transit center which is in walking distance.
The Marymoor rider estimates are not only based on the parking garage, but it’s also a major gateway to the plateau and the area east of the station in general. The Link station will make it quite attractive to take a car or bus there.
Anyone familiar with The Central Line subway in San Francisco? The Wall St. Journal used it yesterday as a poster child for bad public projects across the U.S. because interest rates were so low.
According to the Journal, the 1.7 mile line opened in January 2023 at a cost of $1.95 billion, three times as much as initially estimated, and is drawing fewer than 3000 riders/day, in part because riders have to walk three football fields to connect to other transit lines and take three escalators to reach platforms 12 stories underground. A huge supporter of the project was Nancy Pelosi, which probably explains federal money for a project that one would think on its face would not qualify for federal funding.
The ticking time bomb for older cities like Chicago are legacy pension costs. About 80% of property tax dollars in Chicago go to pensions, and still the four main pension funds in Chicago only have 25% of the funding to cover future pension costs which is less than Detroit’s pension system when it had to declare bankruptcy. 25% of all general state tax revenues in Illinois pay for pensions. A real irony is many of the pensioners have moved to states with lower tax rates and no income tax. Fortunately, our local cities including Seattle don’t have these legacy costs, and the state pension system is pretty sound, although our Link system sounds a lot like The Central Line in many places, and I don’t think ST has been totally honest about the effects of higher interest rates on O&M costs and capital project costs.
The last time I was in San Francisco, before covid, the Chinatown north-south bus routes in the northern half of the corridor were so packed peak hours that it took a couple minutes at every stop for people to climb in and out. So the Central Subway was supposed to relieve that. The southern half of the corridor I don’t know as much about, but there’s no other north-south train there, and when I walked from Market Street to the Caltrain depot it took twenty minutes. So the corridor looks theoretically worthwhile. I don’t know what the station access or depths is like.
I don’t know why ridership is very low; it must be related to the loss of office jobs in SF. Somebody said Chinatown is dead with boarded-up storefronts. I don’t know how accurate that is. I’d expect their Chinatown to remain successful like ours or more so, because of the number of residents and visitors who go to it even if office workers are absent. But I haven’t been there since before covid so I don’t know for sure.
“our Link system sounds a lot like The Central Line in many places”
The Central Line may have a few similarities with WSBLE’s downtown stations if the 300-yard transfer and three escalators is accurate. But the Link system as a whole is not like the Central Line. Link is like BART and serves several neighborhoods and cities and trips between them. The Central Line is about the length of the SLU Streetcar, so it only serves as central-area circulation.
I actually wonder if it’s worth building an underground line that short. But maybe there are plans to extend it north. Extending it to the nothern Marina would be useful, and would allow a parallel bus route to be replaced. Extending it to Marin would correct the mistake of not building BART there in the first place. But this is a MUNI project so it wouldn’t go outside the city or have wide stop spacing. There’s also the Geary corridor to the west, the busiest, most rail-eligible east-west corridor in the city, so maybe it might someday turn west to there.
The line they built doesn’t have many advantages over the existing 30 bus. By the time you get downstairs you could have traveled much farther on the existing route. And the 30 bus travels farther
It’s like a similar situation with say the 40 bus versus the south lake union streetcar. Or the rapidride C versus the future west Seattle link stub
It was me, Mike, and I’ve been there in the fall of 2021, the fall of 2022 and this January. It’s dead. DEAD. DEAD! The only things left are low-level convenience stores.
WL, the 30 certainly travels farther to the north, but it ends at Fourth and Townsend at the CalTrain terminal, the place that the T goes onto the tracks it’s had for twenty years.
If Third and then Stockton were like they were in 2019 or earlier, a lot of people would take the train to get through what was then the crush-loaded part of the route and maybe catch up with an earlier bus. They might not end up making better time, but at least they’d miss the crush.
The SF Central Subway’s biggest problem is the station platform depths. Parallel bus routes are heavily used and notoriously crowded and slow — so if riders aren’t picking the rail it’s because of the excessive vertical distance resulting in taking too much time and effort.
Of course, the stations are deep because the line has to go under both BART and Muni tunnels as well as a mezzanine at Market St (which is at the bottom of Nob Hill). That’s in addition to the underground walkway for 2 blocks.
It very much is a warning about DSTT2, which faces similar challenges.
The person who said Chinatown is dead implied the buses are pretty empty too. Has anyone been in SF recently?
I was in San Francisco in February. I made a point to visit every station on the new Central Subway. Chinatown was by far the best station, followed by Union Square which connects to the other MUNI lines and BART. The Moscone Station was kind of bland IMO. There were MUNI ambassadors at all the stations who you could ask for information about the new subway. I was surprised how deep the stations were and the project reminded me of the new Link stations. I also took the regular Muni buses up to Haight Street, and the Golden Gate Bridge. The buses were newer, you could tap your Clipper Card at the back door of the bus. There were fewer people riding public transportation than I remembered when I lived in SF, but the experience is now so much better. Overall very impressed with what they’re doing there.
Re. the common ground of fiscal conservatives and good transit advocates:
I wish we could just cut lanes on arterials, build some lane dividers, and use a modern signal priority system to build a real Bus Rapid Transit system. We could probably do it a tenth of the cost of Link and get most of the benefit.
> I wish we could just cut lanes on arterials, build some lane dividers, and use a modern signal priority system to build a real Bus Rapid Transit system.
That’s why I’m kinda excited for the rapidride G as a “full brt” and hope it will spread more to more corridors.
Also actually a lot of the these corridors were originally going to implement what you said. The Ballard to Seattle at grade option was going to be a rapid streetcar/lrt with signal preempting or also the brt to Everett was going to be median bus lanes before everything was “upscaled” to lrt
That would be great, WL. That’s also why I am disappointed about the prospect of RapidRide G being forced to go off-course to unify with this new Pioneer Square Station. Before the proposed changes, it would have intersected with the Midtown Station.
I think there is a lot of potential of full BRT, particular in inner Seattle where more people could actually live without a car if transit were better (higher frequency, more coverage).
It would be really interesting to talk to an analyst or a planner at SDOT or King County Metro to see what that typical delays are in bus operations. What type of system could we have if we invested into bus operations, instead of light rail?
That would be great, WL. That’s also why I am disappointed about the prospect of RapidRide G being forced to go off-course to unify with this new Pioneer Square Station. Before the proposed changes, it would have intersected with the Midtown Station.
I think there is a lot of potential of full BRT, particular in inner Seattle where more people could actually live without a car if transit were better (higher frequency, more coverage).
It would be really interesting to talk to an analyst or a planner at SDOT or King County Metro to see what that typical delays are in bus operations. What type of system could we have if we invested into buses instead of light rail?
RapudRide G opens next year. The DSTT2 won’t open until 2038 at the earliest and — given bonding capacity, cost inflation from “optimustic” cost estimates being too low, unforeseen engineering hurdles (see the recent Fife problem), sloppy construction oversight (the East Link problem) and potential lawsuits — is likely to open between 2045 and 2050. There are at least two rounds of bus restructuring by then.
Frankly, I’m seeing some real world challenges to RapidRide G operations anyway. The grades are steep and the bus interiors will have large spaces with no seats or convenient grabs for riders or bicyclists holding their bikes inside the bus. Plus all of the Downtown stops are on significant slopes except for First Avenue, making it troublesome for wheelchair riders to get to the medical offices on the corridor. Turning at Third Ave isn’t that bad of an outcome.
I’m hoping that by the time DSTT2 opens (if ever), they will connect RapidRide G with Route 7 because the median boarding would work great on Rainier!
>It would be really interesting to talk to an analyst or a planner at SDOT or King County Metro to see what that typical delays are in bus operations. What type of system could we have if we invested into buses instead of light rail?
You don’t have to guess, actually Sound Transit already investigated many of these corridors before. Here’s the overview document of the major corridors (granted most of these are on the regional level rather than city):
Most of the bus alternatives follow closely to the existing transit plus or rapid rides.
For example the Corridor 8 of a rapid streetcar would be around 17~24 minutes to reach downtown. Mainly following the existing route 40. The main changes are adding bus lanes on Leary and Westlake avenue as well as adding a new bridge. Compared to the 13~17 minutes with the new transit tunnel subway. It’s relatively cheap at 500 million dollars mostly for the bridge.
The West Seattle bus alternatives do mainly focus on routing down on Delridge Way (similar to Rapidride H) rather than to Alaskan Junction. Notably the plan is to have bus lanes on the entirety of Delridge way.
There was also a plan for U District to Ballard by BRT along Leary then Pacific street. Though I guess if route 40 get’s its bus lanes you could just run a bus down that corridor?
There’s more in depth in other documents for example South King https://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1157426/south-king-county-hct-level-2-executive.pdf or Seattle to Ballard https://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/SDOT/About/DocumentLibrary/Reports/B2D_FinalReport%2005-16-14.pdf.
The proposed Ballard and Eastlake streetcars had no promises of transit lanes. What I objected to was the slow segment between Stewart Street and Denny Way, where the SLU streetcar stops at every single block for a traffic light, in addition to stations every two blocks. That would cripple Ballard and Eastlake streetcars no matter how good the tails are, and SDOT never promised good tails that I heard. The whole point of Ballard Link is to reduce the 30-45 minute overhead of getting into or out of Ballard from the nearest regional transfer points (Westlake or U-District). A streetcar that still takes 30 minutes to get to Ballard is no improvement over the D or 44. So we’d need ironclad transit lanes that could reduce the travel time to 15 minutes or so.
> The proposed Ballard and Eastlake streetcars had no promises of transit lanes.
Both the Seattle level 1 alternatives and the candidate projects did promise transit lanes. The candidate project actually promised more of preempting signal priority for the interbay one.
For the interbay option the level 1 alternative noted “Streetcar in center alignment on 1st Ave, crossing Denny Way, extending to Republican, then west to bridge connection to center alignment in Elliott Ave W. Center at- grade alignment on Elliott Ave W and 15th Ave W”
The candidate project noted: “It would include a rail-only movable bridge over Salmon Bay and at-grade light rail in exclusive lanes on 15th Avenue Northwest and Elliott Avenue West, with signal priority so trains would generally stop only at stations. Eight stations are included – seven at-grade and one aerial.”
For the Westlake option, it would also have exclusive lanes:
“At-grade on Westlake Ave from Stewart Street to Valley Street, with revised alignment both directions in exclusive lanes. Center or curb alignment to be determined. At-grade in center alignment where development exists on both sides and then along west side of Westlake Avenue N to portal at approximately Halliday Street.”
There’s only one section with shared lanes the
> Keep two travel lanes on Leary Way NW, remove parking. Shared lane is required under 15th Ave NW overpass.”
http://soundtransit3.org/candidate-projects C-01a and C-01d description
Well, SDOT and McGinn failed to market those features then. It would have made me feel better about the streetcar option, and less insistent on grade-separated Link to Ballard. Because I was afraid of it turning out like the SLU streetcar is now.
Mike, Westlake south of Denny, or at least south of Ninth and Blanchard is useless for autos and should become a Grand Promenade with the tracks down one side. Put STOP signs on all the streets crossing except for Virginia and Lenora and just let the transit roll. Most cars crossing will have to pause briefly and then continue. A small percentage will have to wait for a transit vehicle to clear.
Underpass Denny to improve eadt-wast traffic flow.
WL, thanks for the details about the Kubly Tramline. You are a genuine expert; you understand what is necessary to make transit work. Well done.
Your proposal to do both Ballard at-grade options is interesting, but I think it’s “overkill”. How many riders will 15th West ever generate? The Fremont route with a short stretch of elevated through the center of Fremont makes a lot of sense, though. I still think that the Monorail (extended and upgraded) is the best for LQA.
> Your proposal to do both Ballard at-grade options is interesting, but I think it’s “overkill”. How many riders will 15th West ever generate?
I agree, doing both is overkill. If I had to choose one I would just choose the Westlake option (to Ballard via Fremont). I suggested implementing both more for political reasons (and because it is cost effective) as a replacement for the current Ballard tunnel.
If one only implemented the 15th Ave W option (following Rapidride D basically) Then there will be outcry from South Lake Union over the loss of the SLU and Denny stations compared to the current alignment. Obviously running an at-grade alignment to run onto Westlake Ave and then turning left onto Mercer or Denny Way is going to take forever to reach Ballard. So I opted to suggest just implementing both to replace the current Candidate project since they are relatively cheap.
> Underpass Denny to improve east-wast traffic flow.
Speaking of Denny Way, Seattle is implementing the ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems) for Denny Way, and I’m guessing close to wrapping up. It’s the feature that can control how long green light and pedestrian signals remotely. Though slightly notorious for almost never giving the pedestrian signal to people on Mercer ST.
If you look carefully along the east side of Westlake, you’ll see there is still a fair amount of right of way there. It’s a mixture of Northern Pacific freight branch line to the warehouses along Lake Union and the old interurban route.
Putting something there would still be an expensive uphill battle, but it wouldn’t be the same fight as taking buildings.
>It would be really interesting to talk to an analyst or a planner at SDOT or King County Metro to see what that typical delays are in bus operations. What type of system could we have if we invested into buses instead of light rail?
You don’t have to guess, actually Sound Transit already investigated many of these corridors before. Here’s the overview document of the major corridors (granted most of these are on the regional level rather than city):
That is all well and good, but I don’t think it addresses the key needs. The ST studies were all based on predefined trip pairs. They simply came up with variations on them. So they looked at downtown to West Seattle, or Ballard to downtown. MoveSeattle took it a step further, and looked at several significant corridors (https://seattletransitblog.com/2015/12/21/rapidride-the-corridors/). I would back up even further. I would compare the various bottlenecks as well as the cost to the agency as well as riders. The last two likely go together (a bus that runs often usually does so because lots of people ride it). It is quite likely, for example, that the 3/4 section around First Hill is a very big deal, whereas the rest of the route is not. Spend a bunch of money on similar “spot fixes” across the city, and it is likely you end up something a lot better than what ST is building (and even better than what MoveSeattle had in mind). In some cases (as Al suggests) this might mean center running buses. But in plenty of others, it could be as simple as BAT lanes.
[Edit: My previous last sentence made no sense. It was left over, and I forgot to erase it.]
WL, OK, that’s an excellent explanation. In your post about the original Fremont option you mention that they planned a tunnel starting at Halladay Street. (I think you got it confused with “Halliday Street” in Portland or maybe autocorrect got you.
I expect that the cost of a tunnel there could be borne by the Sub-area with so much else unburdened, but if not, I think it’s actually reasonable to cross the Ship Canal on an opening bridge directly underneath the Aurora and go up the Troll Avenue ROW to 35th. It’s clearly wide enough for a two track tramway between the supports: https://firstname.lastname@example.org,-122.3473428,3a,75y,179.86h,80.64t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1siePhb65Xf8elPWeyumaFRA!2e0!7i16384!8i8192
Now the elevation above Lake Union is limited by the BIG support at 34th. It looks like it has a clear span of about thirty feet to where it starts to arch inward: https://email@example.com,-122.3473424,3a,75y,355.1h,107.98t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sRuq2Ze8MbaH6RRuTXQB6Bw!2e0!7i16384!8i8192
The slope inward is gentle enough that the pans and overhead would fit; the question is, would the cars also. It would be nice to have a measurement of the width there at that stained horizontal line.
North of there the supports are smaller and more frequent, so they don’t clamp together until nearly the top of the posts. The guideway could rise along with the roadway beneath it and clear cars on 35th. Note the tracks in the first picture if you rotate toward Fremont Avenue. I wouldn’t go on the surface, but there’s room for tram-scale supports.
Or dive into the ground by the time you get to 35th and go cut-and-cover subway through Fremont to a couple of blocks west of Fremont Avenue. That means surfacing in the middle of Leary Way, though, and that would not be popular; it’s an “attractive nuisance” and dangerous to surface a rail line in the middle of a street. San Francisco has repeated tragedies at the ends of the Sunset Tunnel which are pretty unprotected.
I know this is “crazy stuff” but it’s worth keeping in the back pocket.
> That is all well and good, but I don’t think it addresses the key needs. The ST studies were all based on predefined trip pairs. They simply came up with variations on them. So they looked at downtown to West Seattle, or Ballard to downtown. MoveSeattle took it a step further, and looked at several significant corridors ….
> They didn’t look at the travel delays on the 3/4 compared to the 8. This, to me, is far more important.
I mean as I noted, it was a more regional study by Sound Transit. For city only routes that’s really more up to Seattle DOT to look into.
Regarding the 3/4, are you referring to the plan to move it onto Yesler? I’m not quite sure what else one could do unless if you want to add a bus lane to James Street.
We can probably continue discussion in the next open thread.
I mean as I noted, it was a more regional study by Sound Transit. For city only routes that’s really more up to Seattle DOT to look into.
The regional study by Sound Transit included city-only routes. In fact, no Seattle project in ST3 (unless you count the infill stations) extends beyond the border of the city. In that sense, there are no Seattle “regional” plans. If Sound Transit can study (and implement) train service to West Seattle, then it could certainly improve transit to First Hill and Cherry Hill (the path of the 3/4) given that those places are more likely to be regional destinations.
Regarding the 3/4, are you referring to the plan to move it onto Yesler? I’m not quite sure what else one could do unless if you want to add a bus lane to James Street.
Either one would work. Moving to Yesler is OK, as long as you backfill service on James (up to 5th). I would not rule out keeping the same route, and just adding sufficient BAT lanes. I looked at it before, and it seems quite plausible. I can go into that in more detail, but I was merely listing it as an example. A better one is congestion around the Fremont and Ballard bridges. These slow down numerous buses. Thus a corridor-based approach isn’t necessarily the best. I think it makes way more sense to take a “hotspot” approach. There are places that have very common delays. There are other places where the delays can be quite long. Some delays effect a lot of buses. Where these three come together is where we should focus our efforts.
Sometimes that means that tunneling makes sense. Sometimes with tunneling, it makes sense to put in rail. But often, it is just a matter of doing what we are doing with the 40, or taking it a step further, like the G.
> The regional study by Sound Transit included city-only routes. In fact, no Seattle project in ST3 (unless you count the infill stations) extends beyond the border of the city. In that sense, there are no Seattle “regional” plans.
Even the Seattle only plans have regionalism in mind, Sound Transit really really loves the regional idea. For the West Seattle extension their eventual idea is to then continue extending it to Burien/Renton. For the Ballard extension they envision it going to Crown Hill, Northgate, Lake City then eventually to Bothell. And even the u district one’s (though separate line) were in the context of connecting it with U District and then connecting up over to Redmond/Kirkland via 520.
> If Sound Transit can study (and implement) train service to West Seattle, then it could certainly improve transit to First Hill and Cherry Hill (the path of the 3/4) given that those places are more likely to be regional destinations.
I’m not saying it shouldn’t but it really hasn’t been the focus of it. Also it did fund the RapidRide Madison. Part of the problem is probably Seattle itself, focusing all the demands and asks from Sound Transit on the link. It is hard to tell the other subareas after asking for 12 billion dollars on link tunnels you’d also want real brt on every corridor even though it’d be more cost effective.
> I can go into that in more detail, but I was merely listing it as an example.
Sure I’d love to hear it. I’d like to clarify I definitely agree with you that these spot improvements and bus lanes are much more useful per dollar and should be done first. But really I don’t think Sound Transit is going to really look into these routes, it needs to be Seattle/SDOT. Sure Sound Transit might fund or implement them but Seattle needs to ask for them.
“Sound Transit really really loves the regional idea. For the West Seattle extension their eventual idea is to then continue extending it to Burien/Renton.”
That was to unite the desires of West Seattle and Burien. It wasn’t just a regional vision, but to give Burien/northwest South King County something substantial for the taxes it has been paying.
But really I don’t think Sound Transit is going to really look into these routes, it needs to be Seattle/SDOT. Sure Sound Transit might fund or implement them but Seattle needs to ask for them.
I don’t think it is realistic either. But I was just referring to what Andrew wrote. He wrote:
t would be really interesting to talk to an analyst or a planner at SDOT or King County Metro to see what that typical delays are in bus operations. What type of system could we have if we invested into bus operations, instead of light rail?
To which I would reply: A much better one.
To be clear, I am specifically talking about ST3. Despite some worthy aspects to it (e. g. Ballard rail), if you just built the infill stations, and spent the rest of the money on bus improvements, you would have a much better system. It gets a bit more complicated if you go back to ST2 (Northgate to downtown is a very good line).
@Mike, wouldn’t it be much easier to build an APM/cable liner from Burien to TIBS to connect the Burien TC to Link? May be even continue over I-5 to Southcenter… or just double STRide frequency between Renton/TIBS/BurienTC.
Running WSLE through Highline to serve Burien seems like a waste.
Thinking about what Andrew B said
> I wish we could just cut lanes on arterials, build some lane dividers, and use a modern signal priority system to build a real Bus Rapid Transit system
I’ve been wondering what corridors are best to build real center median BRT. Especially if you could use the left-door BRT busses. It does require typically taking away 3 lanes in the middle (the 3rd lane for the left side boarding station) Or alternatively one could have asymmetric right side boarding stations (only in one direction).
15th Ave W has 7 lanes and one could convert the middle 3 lanes into BRT similar to Van Ness or Eugune’s EMX. Then for the remaining 4 lanes have 2 travel lanes in each direction. There could still be left turns at some intersections if there isn’t a bus station there. I guess the intention in the original studies was for a median freeway like station at 15th Ave W/ Dravus St bridge? It would also have to skip the 15th Ave W/ Leary St stop to stay in the middle.
Aurora avenue can accommodate it and it generally has less left turns conflicts, though that same benefit has makes it exceeding hard to actually build a station that people can access. For example Aurora Ave N. and 46th street the right lane works easy as a stop, I’m not sure how a center boarding station stop would work here. North of green lake though there’s no longer the ‘wall’ in aurora. Though politically I feel converting 15th Ave W would be easier than Aurora Ave.
For Delridge Way, I wonder if adding a reversible single bus lane (similar to Eugune EMX) in the direction of peak capacity would work well considering the relatively low frequency.
For Rainier Ave, I was going to say it looks like a good candidate for it, but it quickly narrows from 6 lanes down to 5 then 4/3 lanes. Though granted one could remove the parking in some sections and convert into a travel lane.
For Westlake Ave, while I did cite how there were plans to build a center streetcar there never were detailed plans explaining how they were going to add a station considering there’s only 4 lanes for some stretches.
Inside stops are used by SF Muni without left side doors. See:
SDOT may have selected a relatively costly option with islands and boutique buses. SDOT figured out how to provide priority to the northbound Route 40 and C Line trips at Harrison and Mercer streets.
SDOT also chose hybrid buses; seems like they could have use standard trolleybuses.
eddiew, Van Ness is quite a bit wider than Madison. They did the same sort of thing that ST did on Martin Luther King, put left turn bays at intersecstions between the stations, preserving two driving lanes in each direction.
WL, I’d put the tracks on one side with a Grand Mall in the rest of it, at least south of Ninth and Blanchard. North of there Westlake Ave would be three lanes NB with the tracks on the west, with Ninth three lanes SB. Denny would underpass the train and northbound traffic on Westlake.
The Denny Station would be just South of the street,, and there could be ramps down to walkways notched into the wall of the Denny way underpass to give no-stoplight access to the east side of Westlake.
At Mercer the train should descend into a trench or covered tunnel as far as the Ninth Avenue intersection and surface on whichever side of Eestlake is better for heading north. The “SLU Station” would be in the trench.
Again, this is a fall-back if ST3 completely fails in the North King Subarea.
How do others feel about Redmond Town Center and the area between 520 and NE 74th Street (south of Redmond Way)? How good is it now, what potential does it have, and how willing are the powers that be to make it something better?
I think it’s dependent on three things:
– Will Redmond accept taller buildings (at least 200 feet)?
– What will the parking situation be? (Will Marymoor overflow? Will paid parking evolve?)
– Will a major trip attractor negotiate purchase of Redmond Town Center and reuse the site for something like a hospital/medical center or college campus or something else?
Downtown Redmond doesn’t need 200 foot buildings. It’s becoming a relatively dense suburban town center with just the proliferation of 6 story residential buildings.
Redmond Town Center also has an urgent care center, several office buildings, and a couple of hotels. It’s already a multipurpose center besides retail. I don’t see another college coming on the Eastside unless/until Bellevue College, UW-Bothell or Lake Washington Voc-Tech get overcrowded.
It sounds like a lot of you haven’t been to downtown Redmond in a long time. It’s not only the station area that’s transforming. If you go a few blocks to the north near Bella Bottega, apt buildings are sprouting up around there, as well as over by city hall.
I’m not trying to be provocative Sam and doubt urbanists would care much about a quintessential suburban city like Redmond. If Redmond is “urbanism” then I guess MI is a 15 minute city in which definitions in this area get dumbed down.
I was there last Friday. We drove from MI to Redmond mall in 20 minutes at 5 pm. All I said is I was surprised at the lack of retail vibrancy and density for a city the size of Redmond that has been on a density kick, and thought a lot of the larger residential buildings looked cheap for Redmond.
With all the other closer options I doubt I would go back back to Redmond for a drink or to have dinner. I am sure there are lots of buildings, and even a healthcare facility, but just Totem Lake is much better, next to a major hospital, and has a very good walkable mall. (I guess Totem Lake is urbanism too).
With the wealth and time to plan I think Redmond could have built a more vibrant and walkable retail core, although I understand it’s primary mission is a SFH city to raise kids in. Nicer to live in then visit although the park is nice but not really in Redmond.
On a scale of most to least urban there’s: New York City, Toronto, Chicago, Duesseldorf, Vancouver, San Francisco, central Seattle, the U-District, downtown Bellevue, downtown Redmond, downtown Kirkland, downtown Mercer Island, the Issaquah Highlands. I’d draw the cutoff of a sizeable urban neighborhood after downtown Bellevue.
Then there’s smaller things like downtown Kent’s redevelopment, and the few blocks of apartments east of Southcenter, and The Landing. Those are too small to take seriously, but they’re at least a start. Then there’s the vaporville of downtown Lynnwood, which may be good someday but it hasn’t really started, so I’ll withhold judgment until it’s built up if ever.
Redmond is not “a quntessential suburban city”. That would be something like Kent East Hill, Renton, or Issaquah. One-story buildings, surface parking lots, big-box stores, single-family houses, and token attempts to do more that don’t really amount to anything yet. (Except the Issaquah Highlands.) Redmond is breaking out of that and trying to responsibly grow into more of a city. It will probably always have a large single-family periphery, but the core of downtown Redmond and the plans for Overlake Village are already better than a typical suburb.
“If Redmond is “urbanism” then I guess MI is a 15 minute city”
There’s kind of two scales: real walkable urbanism like in Seattle, and a handicapped kind of urbanism on the Eastside that needs to be rated on a suburban scale. The difference is the difference between Manhattan/San Francisco type density and Los Angeles type density. Los Angeles has such high parking minimums and wide streets that it limits how good and pedestrian-friendly it can be. Downtown Bellevue is following the Los Angeles model. And downtown Redmond is so small I don’t know whether it can have everything one might need.
As to whether downtown Mercer Island is a 15-minute city; I couldn’t tell from my visit to a few blocks of it. The question is whether it has everything to meet most of most people’s everyday needs without leaving the neighborhood, except maybe for work or school. When I lived in the U-District, I found I only had to leave the neighborhood once a month or so. Is downtown Mercer Island like that? You would know that better than I, since you know what all the businesses and amenities are.
When you were disappointed in Redmond, but you apparently went to Redmond Town Center and were describing that, I wondered if you’d missed the part north of Redmond Wsay that I consider the best part of Redmond. “Redmond Town Center” is misleading in its name; it’s a marketing gimmick.
“[Redmond’s] primary mission is a SFH city to raise kids in”
That was Redmond forty years ago. What Redmond primarily is now is what it’s building so much of. Which is a walkable mixed-use core and a tech industrial center. It’s doing all that against the wishes of nimbys who want it to remain like it was in the 1970s.
When I rode the Snoqualmie Valley Shuttle and took the bus from Duvall to Redmond TC, it went through Redmond Ridge in the middle. What struck me was how much the land both east and west of Redmond Ridge looked like how it was when I was a child: large empty woods and grasslands with an occasional house or church here or there. It was hard to believe that still existed. But that’s how the rest of Redmond was more or less like, just a bit higher density with tract house developments in parts of it. When I was in high school we drove on Old Redmond Road, and it was pretty sparse and remote then. Redmond Way was pretty sparse west of maybe 160th.
Mike, you don’t even need to ask that. Downtown Redmond is one of the best suburban Link station areas in the entire light rail system, and it has enormous potential. A visionary, Daniel is not. He was just being provocative to get a reaction and to troll urbanists.
It is an almost ideal layout! The bus stops and drop offs surround the escalators!
> the area between 520 and NE 74th Street (south of Redmond Way)
I’m assuming you mean NE 76th street?
> How good is it now, what potential does it have, and how willing are the powers that be to make it something better?
I don’t think it will grow much. I checked the zoning map and projects
There isn’t a single in progress apartment project listed in the town center area. There are other projects north of Redmond way though. There was a hotel the Anderson Park Hotel being built.
I’m not quite sure, but I’m guessing the parking requirements are too high on the area for anyone to demolish and build new buildings. Otherwise land like 7214 170th Ave NE Space A-1, Redmond, WA 98052 has a ton of parking lots that could be converted into apartments. Or even say the BJ’s restaurant.
South of Redmond Way. Right across from the Link station. They just started building it.
I got the overall impression looking at the city’s current comp plan update process and the associated docs available online that they are focusing on the Overlake metro center more so than the Downtown urban center. Admittedly I haven’t been following this area’s planning that closely of late, so perhaps that isn’t the actual intent. Your thoughts?
Fwiw. My spouse and I have spent some leisurely weekend afternoons strolling around the downtown area or visiting one of the brew pubs and generally enjoyed the area for what it currently has to offer. Of course, coming from SnoCo we drove there and generally go thru that area when visiting my spouse’s sibling who lives in Sammamish. (If we have our dog with us then we’ll head over to Marymoor Park usually.) I’m optimistic that once East Link is up and running that it will give the downtown area some additional oxygen. I could see folks, outside of work commutes, going back and forth along the corridor from downtown Bellevue to downtown Redmond. I’m not sure how much ridership that would generate but with some additional attractions and/or repurposing of the Redmond Town Center I would expect some increases in that regard.
Interesting that apartment building at 16595 Redmond Way seems to be the same location as the hotel (at Redmond Way and 166th AVE NE)? Or perhaps they are building adjacent to one another.
To be clear I’m not saying the rest of redmond isn’t developing just was responding to Mike’s question about specifically the town center area. I always did find it odd that the other areas had apartments being built like Spectra Apartments (south of 520). Or even all of these proposed apartments near the light rail (AMLI Redmond Way at 16771 Redmond Way ) https://www.redmond.gov/406/Projects are north of Redmond Way. There’s nothing being built south of Redmond Way.
Though browsing wikipedia a bit more it seems there is a plan to change that https://www.redmondtowncenterproject.com/. Also interesting an H mart is opening in the old bed bath and beyond.
Though reading the comments not quite sure if the council will approve it with https://courbanize.com/projects/redmondcenter/comments?topic=Vision
> No high rises. Redmond doesn’t need the extra congestion. Other areas of the US need the growth
> More housing no, more parking yes
> Although it will be primarily transit oriented in there to serve the residence, it is important that it is accessible by car with reasonable easy and free parking.
But yeah in all very interesting, I didn’t know Redmond Town Center might under go a similar transformation like what Northgate mall is undergoing.
Yes there is more action in Overlake, but not sure how you can takeaway there is no active development in downtown. Just Google Map it and you can see several active sites.
Following your own 406 link, the following midrise projects are in Downtown (which I think is what you mean by “town center”?), plus there a link to a number of townhome projects.
https://www.redmond.gov/1375/Porch-Park (I think this is nearly done)
https://www.redmond.gov/519/Redmond-City-Center (right across from the station, Sam provided a picture)
And then there are a handful of midrise projects in motion in SE Redmond/Marymoor.
Tlsgwm, you understand what quality transit means to a neighborhood when well-integrated. People take casual trips because it’s easy and they don’t have to find parking.
You’re from New York, so you grew up with quality transit. It really makes a difference what one’s background is.
Thank you for that acknowledgement. Yes, I was very lucky to grow up in a city that had an extensive transit system despite all of its well-documented challenges of that era (60s-70s). Utilizing the buses and the trains to get around the city, even when I was a kid not always with a token in my pocket, was certainly a formative time. ;)
I do enjoy reading your comments as well. I don’t always understand all of the engineering details you frequently include in your commentary but I tend to get the general ideas as you present them. Sadly, I can no longer rely upon my oldest brother and his civil engineering smarts when it comes to these sorts of details as he passed a couple of years ago. He was well aware of what our area was attempting to do with regard to creating a regional mass transit system as I had consulted with him numerous times in the lead-up to the ST3 vote. I even thought about those conversations a bit when I was at his burial, doing my part using the spade to put the earth back over his casket (a Jewish custom). I know I’m incredibly biased but he was one of the smartest guys I have ever known and it’s just too bad he will never get to ride Link from Sea-Tac up to Lynnwood for a family visit. He would’ve gotten a kick out of that.
Tlsgwm, thank you. You got me with your tribute to your brother. Family History is my other fanaticism, so it was nice to read of your regard for him.
So much other growth is occurring other parts of the station area, that Redmond Town Center isn’t a concern. Besides, it will probably naturally transform and grow as the area around it transforms and grows. Perhaps they’ll add more housing over time, upgrade the shopping experience, or bulldoze the whole thing and build something else. It really doesn’t matter what they do. It’s like that shopping center/block across the street from Roosevelt Station. True, it’s a much smaller shopping center, but nobody here asked what’s going to be done about it? “But, Sam, it has a Whole Foods! Redmond Town Center does not have a grocery store!” Right. They don’t have one now. As the station area increases, it’s probably only a matter of time before they add one.
What’s important is the entirety of the Roosevelt village. Roosevelt has a surprisingly wide variety of retail and amenities for its size. Whole Foods, Ravenna/Cowen Park, Rising Sun produce, the vacuum-repair shop, hi-fi stereo shops, the Greek pizza restaurant, the new age bookstore, the high school, etc. And in the outskirts the guitar store, the Friendly Foam Shop, Greenlake, etc. The upzone got caught up in Sisleyville, a slumlord who neglected his properties and the neighborhood didn’t want him to make a killing on redevelopment, so they stunted the upzone and shot themselves in the foot. But Roosevelt is an impressive urban village both before and after the upzone, and punches above its weight. It’s a good intermediary between the U-District and Northgate.
Mike, I’m surprised to see you, of all people, criticize a respected affordable housing advocate and provider. Many of Sisley’s tenants spoke highly of him because he charged very affordable rents. DT said Sam Israel was a slumlord. Now you are say Hugh Sisley was a slumlord. I look up to both men.
Btw, to the larger point of commercial properties next to current and future Link stations that aren’t living up to their potential, Redmond Town Center isn’t even close to the top of that list.
I’ve forgotten who Sam Israel is or where this affordable housing was. Was he the head of that Love Family commune cult?
I was overdoing the praise for Sisley and Israel, but there actually is a Stranger article saying many of Sisley’s tenants loved him because he rented his homes at well-below market rates. Granted, his properties were very dilapidated.
Sam Israel during the 1900’s bought and owned many dozens of properties in Pioneer Square and downtown. He collected buildings like other people collect stamps. Think of the typical old Pioneer Square brick building. Think of the two story building on the corner of 1st and Pike that has a Starbucks. That’s the kind of stuff he would buy. Old buildings. He’d buy them, then not redevelop them, rent them out at below market, and never sell.
Some people called him a slumlord because he hardly fixed up or redeveloped his old buildings. Preservationists liked him because he didn’t tear down and replace the old buildings he bought. Tenants liked him because he didn’t charge top dollar for rent.
Downtown Redmond has some good bones: a tight street grid from before WWII, sidewalks, multifamily housing, a city campus, bike infrastructure, the library, good schools, and industrial zoning next to the branch of the former BNSF Woodinville subdivision. The city took a good step in converting Redmond Way and Cleveland Street back to two-way. They are encouraging Overlake to grow. That is a bit more problematic as the local street grid is weak, the SR-520 interchanges attract congestion, Link is in the freeway envelope. It is frustrating that the city may have encouraged ST to be overly cautious about restructuring Route 545; the UW Link station opened in March 2016.
Given all the closures we’ve had over the years to either the 520 bridge, the Montlake entrance and exit ramps, the Montlake Bridge, plus a bunch of random weekends with big service reductions of Link (remember Connect 2020?), I think continuing to run separate routes for Redmond->UW and Redmond->downtown was the correct call.
Once the construction is all finished around Bellevue Link and the Montlake lid, at that point, that is the right time to retire the 545.
Open house tonight for both Overlake and SE Redmond. The SE Redmond one seems vision-y, so perhaps interesting in the context of Mike’s initial question.
Are the concepts online? I’m not seeing a link to them.
Mike – concepts seem to be linked on this page:
Microsoft is sponsoring a webinar “Digital Transforming Transit – A Fireside Chat w/ AC Transit”
“Join this live fireside chat with Samir Saini, Industry Director for State/Local Government with Microsoft and Ahsan Baig, CIO for AC Transit. They will discuss the latest digital transformation trends in the Transit sector and how AC Transit is deploying innovative technologies to improve the rider experience, increase operational efficiency, and enhance safety and sustainability. This is a must-attend event for anyone involved in the transit industry who wants to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and strategies for transit digital transformation.”
Considering software companies in the USA still hasn’t figured out how to get real time arrival to work, the concept of “Digital Transformation” seems a bit of a lofty goal, but that’s what’s being marketed to transit agencies.
> Digital Transforming Transit – A Fireside Chat w/ AC Transit”
I always was impressed that Oakland (AC Transit) managed to build their East Bay BRT before San Francisco’s Van Ness/Geary.
Considering that the early design and engineering for each project began about 20 years ( and the decision to build some sort of BRT preceded that), it was like watching a race of two turtles.
Isn’t anyone on here paying attention to the data drop for today’s board meeting – “Vehicle storage shortage & Lynnwood service levels”.
No action required today, but holy cow are there some interesting nuggets in there.
And it looks like a 2-Link overlay NGS to IDS using 2 car trains, realistic spares and moving some warranty work to OMF-E *might* actually fit. Detailed analysis required.
Also, just as important as what is being said in the presentation material is what isn’t being said. Errr…..
20% of 96 (22×4 + 2×4) is 20 (5×4). Integer math.
That would save 4 slots of their 21 LRV overage. That is significant.
What am I missing here?
Honestly I don’t understand why they suddenly need so many trains. Lynnwood to angle lake is only an increase of like 13 minutes over the existing 50 minutes.
Even with the increase of 7 minutes travel time that should be like ~74 ish minutes. Not sure why they now need from 60 revenue trains all the way to 88 revenue trains almost 50% more
I think ST may be confusing what “spares” are for. The number of spare vehicles are set for those “purchased” as opposed to merely those “ready to be put into immediate service”. Surely ST could just haul over a spare stored at OMF-E overnight if more were needed for an unusual reason.
It’s also troublesome to me that the other obvious ways to store vehicles — like the unserved 2-Line tracks just south of CID or the unserved tracks between Angle Lake and KDM (Federal Way Link delayed due to problems south of KDM) — are not discussed. In particular, the 2 Line tracks must be made available several months before 2-Line opening day — so why is ST planning like the LW bridge tracks will not be able to be used (even if the vehicles have to be pushed over) by the time Lynnwood is ready?
I’m not an operations guy, but this problem seems solvable.
Spares are usually most useful during mid-life overhaul, when significant numbers of cars need to be removed from service for things like replacing the door controls, etc. None of the ST fleet is old enough for that.
Furthermore, despite some surface running, Link is vastly less likely to have to remove cars from service to to collisions.
So it seems to me they should probably evaluate their need for spares on actual accumulated experience with these cars.
I got the impression reading through the presentation that they were bumping up the spare ratio BECAUSE of their actual experience with their older LRVs. Is that not correct?
Just to clarify are you saying they are planning on running 2-car trains on 2-Link because they don’t have enough trains? Or because that is just how much ridership is estimated on that level.
This would be without E-Link over the bridge.
My proposal would be just a 2-car 2-Link overlay NGS to IDS until the plinth problem gets solved.
No need for full 4-car trains if you are just running an overlay to satisfy the choke point.
They are looking at a lot of things, the overlay is just one of them.
“No action required today, but holy cow are there some interesting nuggets in there.”
Yeah. I was just looking at the presentation earlier. Some things I expected because of the change in sequencing of extensions coming online. (I think the OMF storage issue was discussed on an STB post many months ago.) The surprise for me was the part about the 14 (8 and 6) extra trains that are being used now due to the increased runtime and the needed increase in spares due to LRV reliability issues, respectively.
Ya. A 14% miss in runtime is ridiculous. They need to do a deep dive in that.
Isn’t anyone on here paying attention to the data drop for today’s board meeting
Do you have a link?
No. Got my copy a different way.
Can’t find the video but do have the powerpoints.
> Lynnwood was planned to open after East Link, providing 4-minute combined peak service with the 1 Line and 2 Line each running every 8 minutes… Opening Lynnwood prior to East Link/OMFE will require temporarily reduced service levels to match fleet storage limitations.
> Original planned runtime Northgate-Angle Lake 50 minutes (is actually 57 minutes)
Potential fixes are Operate shorter trains but maintain current 8-minute peak headways.
• Maintain current 4-car trains but reduce peak headways beyond 8 minutes.
• Analyze feasibility of providing more frequency in areas with the highest demand.
• Turnback operations and/or overlay service
(not all trains serving the full Lynnwood-Angle Lake line).
But yeah it is pretty interesting to know that Turnback operations are actually possible. Also I don’t know why they don’t want to just run 3 car-trains instead. Also this document is pretty useful for me to calculate how many trains are needed
Vehicle storage shortage & Lynnwood service levels
Rider Experience and Operations Committee 04/06/23
Thanks for the link.
I do remember someone from ST stating that the system was meant to be flexible. It was designed so that the turn backs could be used later, in response to demand. It would not surprise me at all, if they go that route. Running every 15 minutes from Northgate to Lynnwood (and every 7.5 minutes south of there) seems quite reasonable. Basically open Lynnwood Link with 15 minute service (instead of after East Link). That matches midday 512 frequency. It is possible that Community Transit (and even ST) continue to send peak-only buses to downtown in response, but mostly as a way to deal with complaints, not crowding.
Then again, just running 3-car trains seems a lot simpler.
RossB, yes, three-car trains please. Let’s read between the presentation lines; ST has an affection for monumental four-car trains. Lynnwood to Angle Lake might have a round trip cycle time of 174 minutes (77 + 77 + 10 +10); a six-minute headway would require 29 trains plus two spare trains; 31 x 3 = 93 LRV. That leaves more than enough for the larger spare ratio (27). See slide 11 for some options. With a six-minute headway, waits would be shorter and more riders would be attracted. Note that a six-minute headway with three-car trains provides the same capacity as an eight-minute headway with four-minute trains: (60/6)x3=30 and (60/8)x4=30. Slide 11 may have a typo; in the second sub bullet, ST meant “increase” (not decrease) headway. The RossB six-minute headway option is not mentioned, but seems best. The two types of LRV cannot be used in the same train, but one would think threes of each type could be formed into trains.
“The RossB six-minute headway option is not mentioned, but seems best.”
3 car trains at 6 min headways doesn’t address the stated problem. The stated problem is LRV storage in OMF-C.
Current estimated in service LRV needs at 8 min headways and 4-car trains is 88 (excluding gap trains). If you adjust that to 6 min headways and 3-car trains you get:
88(8/6)(3/4) == 88
It’s exactly the same as the 8 min baseline. There is no difference. Essentially going to 6 min headways and 3 car trains did nothing to address the core problem – storage.
Now if the problem was platform crowding, then maybe there is a difference. But that hasn’t been flagged as the main issue, and peak crowding will be between NGS and WLS anyhow.
With the exception of WLS, those stations all have large center platforms and should be able to handle the load. Even more so since ridership demand still has some directional component to it.
WLS? Another gift from Metro! But WLS shouldn’t see the number of boardings as stations between there and NGS.
Platform crowding shouldn’t be the core issue.
Lazarus, the LRV storage issue is only addressed on slide 10. The other slides discuss service. Where are the LRV today?
Yeah I get that. Slide 11 already listed several of the possible temporary options…
“Potential changes to 1 Line service
• Potential options include:
• Operate shorter trains but maintain current 8-minute peak headways.
• Maintain current 4-car trains but reduce peak headways beyond 8 minutes.
• Analyze feasibility of providing more frequency in areas with the highest demand.
• Turnback operations and/or overlay service (not all trains serving the full Lynnwood-Angle Lake line).
• A mix of these three options.
• All available service options for this temporary period are expected to increase crowding between Northgate–Westlake.”
I’m assuming that what RossB was suggesting was 6-min headways south of Lynnwood, say from Northgate, and implementing a turnback operation there.
Btw, how many LRVs could be reasonably stored at the tail tracks at Lynnwood Station?
“• Turnback operations and/or overlay service (not all trains serving the full Lynnwood-Angle Lake line).”
That is the option I’ve been pushing for several months now. And if done properly it wouldn’t necessarily increase crowding on NGS to WLS. But it has to be done in conjunction with a frequency REDUCTION on 1-Link, LTC to ALS.
The concept would be to reduce the base frequency on the 1-Line to something like 10, 11, or even 12 min headways. Then to add an overlay NGS to IDS at the same base frequency.
The overall reduction in base frequency would free up LRV storage needs (fewer required LRV’s), while the overlay would address overcrowding on NGS to IDS. Basically the overlay would function exactly like the eventual 2-Link on that segment (fully interlined), but without access over the bridge. And it wouldn’t need to be 4-car trains.
It’s a balancing act, and it depends a bit on screenline data north of NGS and south of IDS, but if done properly it might work.
My calcs show 11 in headways is the sweet spot, but there are other knobs to turn, and I need higher resolution data.
But I think this problem is solvable.
Tlsgwm, my guess would be “two”, one on each tail track. I haven’t visited the station site, but the current Street view looks like the tails atr about a train-and-a-half long, about what one would expect with a “farside” scissors cross-over between the station and holding spaces. I think they’d have to be “backed in” in the evening, to avoid forcing the closing operator to walk that long, unlighted viaduct.
That’s easy enough. The operator shuts down, locks up and departs the northernmost car, then boards, unlocks and boots up the southernmost car and backs into the parking track. It might take a couple of minutes longer, but it’s much safer and more pleasant on a rainy December night.
Lazarus, that’s exactly the optimum solution. It puts the service where it’s needed. It also avoids possible problems on Rainier.
It ought to be ten and five if possible, in otder not to disadvantage the important ridership from SoDo south.
Lazarus, one suggestion: turn back at Stadium not IDS/CID. The center track is a Red Herring there. It has no platform access. Using Stadium with two-car trains is not a bad walk. The walkway should be covered, though, and paved to be used in a scheduled service. Right now trains waiting in the pocket at ball games almost all come from Forest Street and don’t have a reversal.
The proposal would be to have revenue service on the overlay be NGS to IDS, but to have the turnbacks be at NGS and Stadium.
The reasons for ending revenue service at IDS are multiple, including that it mimics eventual 2-Link service, and that it doesn’t wreak havoc with event ridership departing Lumen Field.
Lazarus, OK; I get it. Well thought through.
Thanks for the reply Tom T. I also took a look at Google Maps street view but was unsuccessful at coming up with a good estimation, so thanks for your feedback in that regard. Actually the mapping app made me laugh as it switched between older and newer pics of the site as I moved down 46th to the HOV/transit ramp. Suddenly the station/parking facility was gone and there stood a big parking lot and the old McDonald’s Furniture building instead. Ha!
I looked up some old documents I still have on my device trying to find some of the detailed station drawings. I couldn’t find what I wanted but I did find this document that was from the City of Lynnwood, from 2011 I believe, when they were advocating for that second station to the northeast, along Alderwood Mall Blvd south of 196th, called “Lynnwood City Center Station”. In this document it shows the crossover tracks section at 455 ft followed by the tail tracks at 400 ft. There appears to be some 75ft between the platform and another 75ft buffer at the stub. I have no idea if this is standard spacing for when a LR line is stubbed or not, but that’s what these drawings illustrate in this particular case. With that said, I happily defer to your expertise in this area.
One other thing I took a look at was the latest edition of ST’s Design Criteria Manual (5th revision, May 2021). On pages 2-6 and 2-7, it states the following:
“2.4.11 Special Trackwork
A. Special trackwork shall be provided and configured to operate the system and to provide operational flexibility required during different periods of the day or during emergencies, delays, failures, repairs, maintenance and special events.
1. Special trackwork at terminus stations shall be capable of sustaining the design peak period headway.
2. Special trackwork configurations shall include:
1. Single-track headway should be no greater than twice the operating headway (includes time to move through interlocking). With Sound Transit approval crossovers may be located in such a manner as to ensure an achievable single-tracking headway of no greater than 15 minutes, including 20-second dwell times at each station along the single-track section.
C. Pocket Track
1. Pocket or storage tracks shall be capable of holding at least one train of maximum length and be energized by the overhead catenary.
2. Pocket tracks shall be spaced at distances no greater than ten miles for efficient off line storage of trains as part of the line’s failure management strategy. The yard and tail tracks at terminus stations may be considered for off-line storage in lieu of a pocket track.
3. Pocket or storage tracks shall be provided at potential mid-line turn back locations.
4. Mid-line pocket tracks shall be designed to enable entry and exit at both ends of the pocket track and onto the main line.
D. Tail Tracks
1. Tail tracks shall be provided at each permanent and temporary terminus station unless otherwise approved by Sound Transit.
2. At terminus stations, each tail track shall be capable of accommodating a train of maximum length while at the same time providing sufficient safe braking distance based on the speed code for trains entering the platform. Where it is not feasible to provide tail tracks of such lengths, then a lower speed code shall be specified and coordinated with bumping post location and design.
3. Tail tracks offer flexibility and support to train schedules by providing the following: space for layover requirements, train staging for special events and failure management, safe braking distances into platforms, and room for construction, testing, and commissioning of new extensions to occur simultaneous with revenue service therefore reducing or eliminating service interruptions.”
I have/want to assume that ST is configuring its ST2/ST3 LR extension projects in compliance with these design standards.
correct, Tlsgwm, each final station (even if temporary) needs to have crossover before the station and tail track afterwards. This is causing some headaches in Ballard atm as the station on 15th next to Safeway would have to be mined at considerable cost under the Target store for the tail track.
If we go with short automated trains not only could the station box be smaller but the trail track, too. Then we may not need to mine under the Target store.
Martin, frequent short trains are SO much better than long less frequent ones. Thank you for pointing out all the ways they save capital costs. If they aren’t automated they do mean larger operating costs.
However, if they can be automated such that trains half as long run twice as often, the cost per passenger mile for the equipment maintenance and energy is exactly the same! There is no added cost, except for an extra “dispatcher” or two at the control center for each shift. That’s not nothing, but it isn’t much either.
The TCS makes most of the minute-by-minute decisions. The DS is just there to handle the one-off events and really slows things down.
When I was a kid I used to go over the Cherokee Yard on the old Frisco in Tulsa and watch the DS run the CTC from Springfield, Missouri to Sapulpa and the branch up to Fort Scott, Kansas. It was a 1940’s control panel and he (they didn’t have female dispatchers then, but they do now) would have to “line the railroad” in front of a train. If there weren’t any opposing moves he’d flip the toggles and punch the buttons to activate the control points for as much as forty or fifty miles, but when there was a coming “meet”, the groups he’d line would get smaller and smaller until he’d be doing just one “block” at at time. That allowed the DS to put the first arrival at the siding that was willy-nilly “chosen” by the progress of the two trains “in the hole” and give the second arrival a yellow run on the main through its entry into the siding zone. That way the second train could roll down half the distance to the exiting red before it really had to slow down, and maybe the first arriver would clear the turnout before the second train even got that far and the signal would go green for it.
The engineer of the main holding train would go to Run Eight immediately and try to drag his tail end past the other end of the siding before the first train had to come to a stop. If the sidings were one and a half times as long as the meeting trains, it would often work that neither train had to stop fully.
I remember one time riding a Wabash passenger train north of Decatur on my way to college in the ’60’s when we needed to overtake a freight train that was too long for the sidings on what was mostly a St. Louis to Chicago passenger and fruit-from-Texas branch.
The DS somehow ran the freight past the north end of the siding and told it to stop (maybe by radio, or maybe they did it this way regularly) until we came along and cleared the south end of the siding. Once we had, the DS threw the green for SOUTHBOUND at that end. While we sort of drifted through the siding headed north, the freight started backing southward in Run Eight with huge volumes of smoke going straight up (the Wabash was NOT a wealthy railroad…), and suddenly, about 3/4 of the way through the siding the exit light turned green (I was in the dome car so I could see all this) and our train just JUMPED out of the siding.
That was some creative dispatching. (Hey, this is an “Open Thread”….)
yes, TT, creative dispatching!!! I remember as a kid our teacher took us to the local rail switching center and we watched in awe the huge wall with a replica of all the tracks and switches in the area and the lights showing the movement of each train – before computerization and huge screens!
Anyone else notice traffic getting obscenely worse in downtown, SLU and Cap Hill past couple of days? Going through a couple of light cycles.
Not sure about larger trends but Traffic is typically worse on wednesdays with the hybrid return from work ( as some people don’t go to work on Monday nor Friday)
Route 8 report, 7:15pm northbound, from Mt Baker TC to Denny & Bellevue. I was the only one on the bus for the first third. At Powell Barnett Park (north of Yesler) people started getting on at every stop or two. It’s like they’re using the 8 as an “extended Capitol Hill”. I think in earlier trips I’ve also seen almost everybody ride through between Mt Baker TC and MLK & Yesler. It may be simply that denser areas get more on/offs, or the southern end of the 8 has more competition from other routes. I’ve always had reservations about the Denny-Madison route concept (8/11), which would break these trips and eliminate the back way between MLK/Mt Baker and John/Denny.
My takeaway from your story is you chose a one-seat bus ride over a one-seat light rail ride because the bus got you a few blocks closer to your destination.
Mike, yes, the MLK segment of Route 8 is largely superfluous; it is too close to Route 48.
This article raises the Issue whether the stakeholders think the problems on 3rd are due to transit or crime, and I think explains the decisions by the CID about a station on 5th or the DSA’s opposition to a station in midtown vs the years of disruption, , and Harrell’s approach to DSTT2.
Here is the second interesting article. Housing prices are dropping 10% irrespective of supply. The Wall St. Journal had an article noting the sale of multi-family housing projects fell 75% year over year . It is fools gold to think builders building market rate housing will create affordable housing — or actually housing at less than 100% of AMI if $115,000 – for someone living alone.
The great hypocrisy about the state upzoning bills before the legislature is the CITIES are demanding affordability mandates for upzoning but the Realtors, MBA, and phony organizations like Sightline that sold its soul for the money, are opposing affordability mandates banking on the fact Progressives are too naive to understand.
Sometimes I wish that progressives would just once understand money and why they so often don’t understand decisions.
Higher interest rates depress home prices. This is not shocking, just basic economics. When rates go down, home prices will go back up again.
But, in the long term, supply and demand still applies. More supply = lower price.
Can somebody explain what has been going on with Sound Transit text alerts recently? They seem to be sending out more and more high priority alerts that get cancelled a few minutes later.
Today at 9:24am “1 line service is suspended until later today due to emergency response”
Then at 9:29 “All clear”
So there was something that cancelled all Link service along the entire line … for 5 minutes? Or other times there will be an alert that a certain Link station is being served by a shuttle bus followed by an “all clear” less than 10 minutes later. Was that even enough time for a single shuttle bus to get going?
Sounds like ST is overreacting to demands to be more proactive about service alerts. May be something to submit a comment about to the rider experience/operations committee about – or just tweet @JulieETimm if you’re on twitter.
Mass transit systems in American cities face post-pandemic fiscal cliff
Thanks Sam but hardly new. Even I have been posting about the same issues over the last year (although I certainly didn’t discover them).
Link is different because there is so much capital construction going on folks aren’t concentrating on farebox recovery that is down due to ridership and non- fare payment while ST is grudgingly adjusting upwards its future O&M estimates that were of course lowballed. Lucky for ST Link is a fairly new system and most agencies looking to cut corners raid the replacement fund.
Lack of peak riders and just normal riders reduces farebox recovery and according to the article increase crime, and increases the ratio of scary riders to scared riders. It is a double edged sword.
I don’t know what the solution is. So far the riders are not coming back. States and cities have exhausted Covid stimulus, WFH is hitting revenue in large cities that have large expensive transit systems. the national debt is nearing $32 TRILLION, and a lot of transit agencies are not very efficiently run. An average $150,000/yr cost per employee in the article is very high.
The article is very pro transit and conservative vs good. It rolls out the usual reasons more general tax subsidies are necessary, especially transit coverage and frequency shouldn’t depend on ridership, but the loss of the middle class peak commuter has removed a very powerful political constituent. Transit just is not a political issue these days because these list riders no longer care. The article can’t claim transit is indispensable to society and life if so few are using it.
The irony is that in this transit environment we are expanding our light rail network into the lowest ridership areas when ST KNOWS it doesn’t have the farebox recovery to cover O&M because it promised — and assumed — a 40% farebox recovery rate, and wildly inflated future ridership even before the pandemic.
Obviously transit agencies don’t want to cut compensation or levels of service, but I don’t see large influxes of funding for O&M so don’t know what options they will have. The best solution is to get riders back, but that looks like the hardest solution.
Relative to 2020 and 2021, transit has been recovering. Not all the way to prepandemic levels, but definitely increasing year over year. It’s still not known yet where it will end up.
I was curious how Sound Transit is faring and checked https://www.soundtransit.org/ride-with-us/system-performance-tracker/ridership
* ST Express definitely has lost many riders and is unlikely to regain them. Checking the 2022 and 2023 months it shows an over 50% ridership fall compared to 2019
* Sounder is even worse with 2022 and 2023 showing over 70% decrease in ridership compared to 2019
Link is a bit more complicated while annual ridership is back to ‘normal’ (around 2 million boardings) part of it is masked by the U District and Northgate new station openings.
When I check individual stations for example, Westlake dropped 20%, Pioneer Square dropped 40%, Columbia City 33% (comparing Jan 2023 to Jan 2019).
However, an interesting trend is that there are a lot more riders proportionally on the weekend now versus weekday.
Back in 2019 the Weekend’s got around 0.17 to 0.25 million now in 2022 it’s consistently over 0.27 and 0.30 million. While weekday riders have dropped from 1.70~1.80 million down to 1.40~1.60 million. Or I guess another way viewing the data is that ridership is now equalizing across all the days
“When I check individual stations for example, Westlake dropped 20%, Pioneer Square dropped 40%, Columbia City 33% (comparing Jan 2023 to Jan 2019).”
So 80% of Westlake ridership is still there, 60% of Pioneer Square, 66% of Columbia City. Overall transit ridership is around 80% of 2019. When a store has a 20% off sale or house prices fall 20%, we don’t say it’s an earth-shattering disaster that threatens the viability of retail or housing, we say it’s a recession-type dip. Even if people were shocked away from transit due to fear of covid and have settled into car-driving ways, over the next months and years the long-term trends toward transit will continue reverting to norm, for the same reasons ridership increased in the first place:
* congestion is increasing
* driving is a hassle and expensive
* parking is expensive in some places
* you have to park a long way from ballgames
* you can’t relax and do something else while driving
* an aging population is increasingly unable to drive
* people under 16 can’t drive and those between 16-25 are less interested in it
* immigrants and visitors are coming from countries that don’t have a knee-jerk adversion to transit
Shut it down.
Seriously, if you want to know the value of something,
Do Without It.
We’ve been told “everyone wants to drive“, and transit riders use other people’s money for their mobility, so let them drive, too.
It would be a Grand Experiment.
If transit isn’t valuable in the post-pandemic world, then it will become apparent. No worries about the homeless on transit, because they’re won’t be any.
Society can’t function without transit. Essential workers take it to hospitals and grocery stores and logistics jobs. Tens of thousands of additional cars would create gridlock. There’s a shortage of used cars that can’t handle a massive increase in purchases.
I don’t know why you need to experiment, it is literally Seattle before the link or many existing Texan cities
Do it for 1 month.
If you only did it for a week, people would take vacations or other days off, escaping the consequences.
In fact, the downtown merchants should have a special sale to celebrate the whole month!
Always good to bring this one back up: whenever people start to panic about losing access to OPM:
The way to ensure that Link meets its target of a 40% farebox contribution to O&M costs, is to stop building it. Put the rails on the completed grades between Angle Lake and Highline College and from Northgate to Lynnwood and complete whatever needs to be done between Redmond Tech and Redmond Downtown, then STOP!
None of the “extensions” in ST3 except Redmond Downtown is worth a plugged nickel. [I have been saying this since 2016, Daniel. But you were only reading The Crimes and Nextdoor in those days.]
Link operators are paid more than bus drivers, as is appropriate. A Link train costs a significant fraction of a million dollars, so wrecking one is a bad look. But they aren’t paid six times as much, so the cost per passenger-mile on a full Link train is dramatically lower than that of even a full artic.
The energy costs for one car of a Link train [two “sections” with a bending section in the middle] are roughly equal to that of an artic. The vehicle is a LOT heavier, requiring more power to overcome inertia and accelerate from a stop, but the grades are gentler and the rolling friction resisting constant speed is much lower than a rubber tried vehicle suffers. Now that artics are pretty universally hybrids, regenerative braking is a wash between the two types of vehicle. Overall, though, energy costs per passenger-mile are somewhat lower for LRT than buses.
Vehicle maintenance costs are less clearly favored between the two types of vehicle. Diesel mechanics are widely available, whereas workers skilled in passenger railcar maintenance have to be trained and work through a “learning curve” period. Experienced staff, especially the electricians so important to proper functioning are very well paid..
The parts for the prime mover and running gear of articulated buses are significantly cheaper than those for railcars, which are to a pretty significant degree all “bespoke” — customized to each system’s requirements. On the other hand, railcars only have ONE/ type of power plant, the motors on each powered truck, and they don’t lug their energy storage around with them. Overall costs per passenger-mile for vehicle maintenance are likely to be within a power of two one way or the other. It wouldn’t be critical in any case, because both sorts of vehicles have achieved good reliability these days.
Maintenance of the transitway is the final class of O&M costs, and those are 100% in favor of buses. The Highwaymen maintain the “way” for buses, but rail systems have to pay for theirs, and it’s not cheap. Fortunately, modern concrete-tied light rail trackways are pretty close to immortal. The dynamic forces generated by a passing light rail train are a couple of orders of magnitude smaller than than those of a four-unit SD70 lash-up and its one hundred car coal unit train. So once it’s laid, most of the maintenance to an LR trackway consists of periodic bolt-tightening.
So, overall what is the likelihood that the ST2 Spine can meet that goal of 40% in the absence of peak hour rushes to downtown Seattle and Bellevue? I’d say it’s very good, actually close to a certainty.
I wish I knew where to find a figure for the fully-allocated costs of an ST LRV car service-hour, but I don’t think it’s published. A few years ago Tri-Met said it was $280 for MAX, and those are relatively similar cars, though purchased at lower prices. At $3 per trip that would require 94 pph to cover it, so figure 150 for ST’s more recent cars plus inflation.
So 40% would require 60 pph per car. Given the rapid turnover between Northgate and Mount Baker, I’m sure that Line 1 meets that criterion. Whether East Link and the north and south extensions do initially is doubtful, but they will “grow into” a lesser shortfall as the station areas grow.
The ST3 extensions, except a Ballard Stub will all fail catastrophically.
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