Last night, Sound Transit reported that Link service will finally be restored to regular service starting tomorrow today, May 8th:

CEO Julie Timm had actually broke the news on Saturday, revealing that there was a push to restore service as early as that evening, but with the caveat of further disruptions down the road. Fortunately, Sound Transit found a way to add scaffolding above the ceiling, which will allow completion of repairs while still getting back to regular service on Tuesday today.

68 Replies to “Link service returns to normal today”

  1. I’m reading too many tweets and getting my wires crossed. Link is back to normal today.

  2. The Seattle Times wrote that Monday would have eight-minute peak period Link service; Tuesday would have eight-minute peak period service. Normal = through service.

    I still hope for six-minute peak period headway and shorter off-peak headway as ST improves it rider focus under Timm.

  3. I’m liking this CEO’s style!

    Now all I need is a masked-up safe zone somewhere on the train. Pretty please.

    Let those who are immunocompromised, have people at home who are, or have a job where there are, get to experience this better-than-New-Normal level of customer service!

    1. Never going to happen. There’s no reason why you can’t wear a well fitted N95, rather than have society accommodate you at every level.

      1. There’s no reason why you, the disabled, can’t find your own solution, rather than have society accommodate you at every level.

        Funny how that sounds, doesn’t it? Fortunately the ADA is there to help those who do need that extra help from the rest of us in society. It would be great to see the immunocompromised have that same basic courtesy afforded to them.

        Brent, serious question: since I believe that you are more involved in this area than I am (I just avoid exposing myself or those I need to protect): do you think that the ADA could potentially be used as a vehicle to drive some of the changes you and I have been advocating for?

        I suppose that that is also a question for the lawyers in the forum, too.

      2. This is not an ADA issue. N95 is perfectly capable of solving your fake disability. It’s in fact much safer if you wear the N95 yourself than request to be in an isolated section of the train.

      3. SLUer, Please do not sound as if you mean to insult people. Caring for people with compromised immune systems is not fictitious in any way, as I am certain you are aware of. It is entirely possible that the ADA will not cover this issue; if so, then so be it, but my question was genuine, and intended to foster discussion. I am saddened to see that you reacted to it with such derision.

        Furthermore, if you do not see the similarity, in principle, between someone with a physical impairment, such as the inability to walk or see, and someone with a medical condition, such as cancer, which entails having literally no immune system to speak of during treatment, I am even more saddened.

      4. My N95 mask primarily protects those around me. If everyone around me is wearing a mask, that does more to protect me.


      5. If pedestrians and cyclists can’t be bothered to buy a car, why should everyone else accommodate them with special infrastructure?

      6. I think that perhaps SLUer is assuming that we are asking for a “safe” area instead of wearing masks. I, at least, would feel much more comfortable having both, i.e. I would continue to wear a mask but feel more protected if those around me also did. Having an area of the train where this is done would be reasonable accommodations, and not too hard set up (granted, it would be hard to enforce). I look at it as similar to the “quiet cars” on the Acela trains, logistically.

      7. “My N95 mask primarily protects those around me. If everyone around me is wearing a mask, that does more to protect me.“

        That’s absolutely not true. Your N95 is far more effective for yourself than sitting among a bunch of people wearing cheap surgical masks in a train car.

        This city absolutely needs to go back to normal and not cater to every fringe group and prolong this pandemic any further. You’re immunocompromised? No one is stopping you from wearing an N95 and carrying hand sanitizer.

        Sorry if fake disability was a little too harsh. But it’s not much of a disability when we have a simple solution called wear a good mask yourself.

      8. The myth that masks protect only outgoing air, but not incoming air, has been debunked many times. The quality of the mask and how well it’s worn matters far more. An N95 mask on your face, with a fit that you can directly control, is far more effective in protecting you than a loose piece of cloth on the faces of others.

        If you really desire additional protection beyond that provided by your own mask, there are things you can do that don’t impact others. For instance, you can travel during off-peak hours when Link is less busy. You can pay attention to how full each car is as the train approaches and choose the one that looks emptier. You can even ride buses such as the 49, 67, or 70, instead of Link, as these buses tend to be less crowded, and you have the ability to open windows for better ventilation. But, a mandate that everyone cover their faces with loose pieces of cloth would accomplish nothing even if followed, and, in practice, would likely be rampantly disobeyed.

      9. You two both darn well know I’m talking about someone already wearing a mask, not someone not wearing a mask asking others to wear a mask.

        You two are already being accommodated with your desire to exercise absolute freedom with no responsibility, for no explicable reason, by forcing everyone to have to ride with maskless people around them.

        If those who need to be in a masked-up environment get a portion of the train, you two still have the rest of the train to ride without a mask. Accommodation of those who need that safe space is not impacting your ride. So, why are you being such jerks about this?

  4. I’m on Link. The arrival announcements are off on my train. I just left Rainier Beach which the announcement called Pioneer Square. The prior stop was Othello and the announcement said Capitol Hill.

    1. Damn, I guess Westlake is gone for good? Alas poor University-Seneca, we knew ye well…..

      [/snark for the non-Shakespeare aficionados among us]

      1. Lol. I see what you did there, Tom T.
        It’s funny though how that line from The Bard, from the gravedigger scene in Hamlet, has been so commonly misquoted at least in this country.

        “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is!”

        I loved the comment nonetheless.

  5. Apparently today went very well with Link. And tomorrow Link goes back to 8 min headways.

    Progress. Progress. Can’t wait for Lynnwood Link and East Link to come online. Those extensions will be a complete game changer for this entire region.

    1. Thanks Cam,

      I can attest to the fact that Link is back to normal today, and is mainly full (most seats taken plus a high number of standees). However, both trains I rode on were 3-car trains.

      On-train announcements were working fine on the trains I rode. No issues. But some of the platform announcements were not being made. Probably because they are working on the SCADA in advance of going live with real time arrival info.

      So good news! Now all we need to do is have ST bring some of the extensions in-line. That will be huge.

      1. Far from “huge”. More like “serious disappointment”. Express bus ridership has fallen more than that for any other transit mode in the Central Puget Sound region, other than Commuter Rail, which has essentially disappeared.

        Who’s going to appear magically on Lynnwood Link when it opens? Long term — as in “decades from now after land-use patterns are corrected” — they will be riding. But not in 2025, at least not in “huge” numbers.

        Who will stampede into the train when Federal Way is “reached”? There’s no “there” there, and doesn’t appear to be any big rush to create one.

        Ah, but that leaves “East Link”, assuming it really does open across Lake Washington. Don’t look for solace from that quarter. As Daniel frequently reminds us, East King wants to become the Buckhead of Washington and “secede” from King County, because its hordes of female paralegals refuse to come to the King County Courthouse in the middle of Fentanyl Flats.

        The pampered buslings of Megahard are not going to give up their Cushy Connector bus rides for the Fentanyl Express (a tip of the Hatlo Hat to Daniel for that pungent phrase), and who else is there?

        Nope, the Agency for whom you love to Fanboi has created a freeway-adjacent “Giant Sinkhole for Megabucks” outside Seattle proper, and the region will be paying for Les Folies for a generation.

      2. This has been predicted for some time Sam. Transit agencies were hoping 2022 would not be the new normal when it comes to ridership, but it was. Now 2023 is the new normal when it comes to transit budgets (and urban city budgets and office building valuations), and 2023 and budgets will be when the cuts come due because the stimulus has run out.

        The pandemic and WFH were transformational. It is part of the creative destruction inherent in any system. They basically rerouted the great river of commuters — who hated commuting — away from urban areas, including transit (although the article notes only 5% of trips were by transit) because artificial scaling limits were created by having so many folks commute so far at the same time to cities with inadequate parking because they did not want to or could not afford to live in the urban core near work.

        Such a terrible and unfair system had to break at some time. The pandemic just accelerated its death. The young have grown up with this new system and will never go back.

        The winners are the workers who saved two or three hours of uncompensated time commuting each day on packed and dangerous transit, their families and kids, the environment, the small cities where the workers live, technology that grew so fast because it had to, businesses that can save a fortune on urban rents (like ours), less traffic congestion, real property prices in more remote counties where workers could now live since they didn’t have to commute, Uber, door dash, and so on including those cities that can adapt and lure discretionary riders and shoppers, all the things the PSRC thought TOD would solve.

        The losers are the urban centers that reaped so much tax revenue from work commuters and commercial development and got eyes on the street, banks and REIT’s holding office loans, dysfunctional and dangerous urban cities, developers and builders who build office buildings, transit agencies who lost not just riders but normal riders paying full fare, and those who profited from that great river of commuters coming into the urban city each day.

        I believe Uber and driverless technology are the next transformation because they can better adapt to the new normal whereas so much existing transit (especially rail) is built along fixed lines to take folks from the suburbs to the city and back, and force people to mix with the public, especially in the city centers where Uber works best.

        Until then we will see a steady increase in Uber miles driven, fewer miles on transit with a lower fare paying percentage, cuts to transit service because the fare paying riders are not there, and more trips by SOV during off peak times but way fewer total miles driven or ridden because of WFH, which is one of the best things to happen to the environment when SOV’s and transit are huge carbon emitters by comparison. For a long time, environmentalists, transit advocates, the PSRC and urbanists would compare carbon emissions between transit and SOV’s, when today the comparison is SOV’s and transit vs. WFH which has zero emissions and reduces carbon emissions at the office as well that is no longer needed.

        Some urban cities, and transit agencies serving those cities, are doing better despite the loss of the commuter although upcoming budgets are going to be brutal, but those cities did not devolve into places folks just did not want to go to no matter what, such as Portland, Seattle and San Francisco. Those cities have a huge hurdle to come back on top of the loss of the work commuter, and unfortunately that will hurt transit in those cities because so much transit was built and funded based on the suburban work commuter commuting to the urban core.

        People will always need society, but there are so many better ways to socialize than spending an hour or two each way on a bus or train or in a SOV to an urban area to work with folks who often are not friends. As early as 2020 people were noting the cities that would survive in that brave new world were cities folks WANTED to go to. Not surprisingly, Portland, Seattle and San Francisco are not cities folks want to go to, although I simply cannot believe anyone — even the progressives in SF — could ruin that great city in such a short time. A good lesson for any city.

        TT in his post raises a good point about suburban Link that I have raised without the insults: Lynnwood, East and FW/TDLE. Where will those riders be going? It was always assumed they were going to downtown Seattle, or at least the UW. If they are not going to downtown Seattle why would they take Link, and to where?

      3. @TT,

        Just to be clear, my comments were mainly about how ST managed to get back to full normal ops so quickly. Many people rely on Link and its reliability for their daily transit needs. Having it back at 100% is a huge deal for the traveling public.

        As per Lynnwood Link, the problem isn’t that it won’t be successful, the problem is that it is likely to be too successful.

        Lynnwood Link was designed to operate in conjunction with East Link, both for capacity between Northgate and Westlake, and for LRV storage at OMF-E. Without additional East Link trains running interlined through the urban core it will be extremely difficult for Lynnwood Link to meet capacity demand, and increasing capacity by increasing frequency without access to OMF-E just makes the storage problem that much worse.

        The solution that I have been advancing to this double bind is to reduce base frequency system wide (LTC to Angle Lake) to free up storage in OMF-W, and then add back in a short overlay from NGS to IDS using 1 or 2-car trains to address peak capacity needs. It’s sort of a thread the needle approach that might actually work, and I’ve been told that it is actively being looked at.

        As per your comments about the Microsoft Connector buses, some might say that if Metro had properly supported Microsoft commuters then there wouldn’t be these fancy buses, but it is actually more complicated than that. Because these buses are Microsoft only, a certain amount of work discussion is allowed onboard that would not be allowed on a Metro bus or in public. So in some ways they function as an extension of the work environment. Metro buses do not.

        And the joke term for Microsoft is not Macrohard, it is Microflaccid.

      4. WFH isn’t as transformational as your implying. It was at the beginning, but I’m seeing more and more people who did WFH and see it as not always being a grass is greener situation for themselves after 2-3 years of it. It’s a lot harder to concentrate at home and can get easily distracted with other things. I’m also seeing a lot of people who do see the value in working in the office compared to WFH. Mainly for socialization and collaboration. We’re seeing now where businesses are trying to find the middle ground between both ends who are going to a hybrid schedule to balance both. I know many young people in my age range who want to be in the office but not everyday of the week to have flexibility and to keep their mental health in check.

        “I believe Uber and driverless technology are the next transformation because they can better adapt to the new normal whereas so much existing transit (especially rail) is built along fixed lines to take folks from the suburbs to the city and back, and force people to mix with the public, especially in the city centers where Uber works best.”
        It really won’t, investing in Uber is going to give you a much smaller return compared to public transit. Which still gets higher ROI than Uber ever did. Along with I know many younger people who see public transit as the future compared to Uber. The only reason Uber has existed as long is because VC funding was proping it up for many years without making money at all. Also driverless is unlikely to take off, it’s still decades away from being relatively competent and safe. Just about every European transit system has seen passanger recovery go back up to pre pandemic levels, so the notion that Uber is killing transit is one that is highly questionable.

        “As early as 2020 people were noting the cities that would survive in that brave new world were cities folks WANTED to go to. Not surprisingly, Portland, Seattle and San Francisco are not cities folks want to go to, although I simply cannot believe anyone — even the progressives in SF — could ruin that great city in such a short time. A good lesson for any city.”
        No one is moving to Boise or Billings, by the boatloads from “progressive cities” lol. Along with that we still have population increases. So no, this “progressives are killing cities” is a very silly fox news esque strawman of an argument that doesn’t really exist in reality and the data we have.

      5. @Sam,

        Yes, WFH has caused some problems for transit agencies, particularly those transit agencies and modes that have a higher percentage of farebox recovery – like Link.

        But we will see. More employers are going back to more in office time required, and more employees are beginning to learn that, if you’re not around your boss on a regular basis, then your name usually isn’t the one your boss thinks of first when it comes time to hand out promotions or big fat raises. Women and minorities are hurt particularly badly by WFH.

        But there is another factor at play too, at least in Seattle. Many employers offered free or reduced parking rates to their employees during the pandemic. This was a result of virus exposure considerations, but also of the desire to keep their employees safe from the social disorder that proliferated on our buses when Metro suspended fare enforcement.

        Those free/reduced parking rates are also currently be scaled back by employers. So it is not just more time in the office, but it is also less access to cheap/free parking.

        Both of those changes will boost ridership on transit.

      6. @Zach B,

        Good post, I concur.

        I might add one thing though, as per the “people are leaving Seattle” narrative that you see pushed in some circles, it’s a bit more complicated than just what you might think by looking at short term population fluctuations during the pandemic.

        There has always been an element of the city population that moves out of the city upon retirement. These are people that typically cash out their house value and move to a cheaper, or quieter area when the transition to fixed income.

        What happened during the pandemic was that a lot of people of retirement age got to dry run their retirement, whether that was from furloughs or from WFH. Many people came to realize that they both enjoyed retirement and could afford it.

        So there was this wave of retirement age people during the pandemic that actually, you know, decided to retire! And a percentage of those folks did exactly what a percentage of those folks always do, move somewhere else and leave the rat race behind.

        But this wave of retirees and the impact of their house sales shouldn’t be viewed as a trend, or as an indictment of the city. It’s just a temporary fluctuation that will eventually pass along with the pandemic phase of COVID-19.

        And the behavior has always been there.

      7. Actually Zach, Boise is one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. and was during the pandemic.

        Fl and TX are the two fastest growing states, while CA lost so many citizens it lost a congressional seat for the first time in history.

        No one said commuting to an office will go to zero. In 2020 The Stanford Study predicted 40% to 60% would return to in office work, or two to three days/week overall although some of that office work will migrate to the suburbs. Then Omicron hit, but still 40% to 60% has been pretty close depending on the city and industry.

        For example, Seattle has seen 40% return to office work, but at the same time many of those leases will expire over the next five years and it isn’t clear how many will be renewed, and how much space. Occupancy rates are leased space that is empty, vacancy rates are empty space that has no lease. Usually, the two should be much closer than they are today (42% and 13% respectively in Seattle) and the investment pros believe vacancy rates will rise to occupancy rates (40%) which means those office towers are under water. Basically, that is your experience with your friends: they want to work 2-3 days in office (generally Tuesday through Thursday), depending probably on where that office is and their commute. A lot want to work every day at home too.

        The article Sam posted raises an issue raised since 2020: transit agencies have farebox recovery assumptions that are based on pre-pandemic ridership levels and fare payment percentages. For Link it is 40% of operations and maintenance costs, which ST just increased its future estimates by $1.2 billion. If farebox recovery (riders X fares paid) declines then so must O&M, unless another funding source is found (and ST doesn’t keep increasing its future O&M estimates).

        When it comes to Uber it was started by VC (so were Costco and Amazon) but long ago went public. The key metric is miles driven, which is exploding. A month ago I told folks on this blog to buy Uber stock. I hope you listened. You would have made 25% in 30 days.

        2023 is the year of the new normal when it comes to budgets, both transit and urban cities, when Covid stimulus has been exhausted. The last decade has been skewed by extremely low interest rates and incredible borrowing and construction, and in 2023 that will change and budgets will have to adapt. It is never fun for cities or transit agencies to cut expenditures, but usually in the long run it is healthy because it forces them to prioritize needs when that was forgotten when money was free.

        I don’t envy Harrell and the next Seattle Council who will inherit a very sick downtown which once generated 2/3 of Seattle’s tax revenue, but they wanted the job and the easy days are over. This is the new normal, good and bad.

      8. Daniel, you have NEVER questioned Lynnwood or Federal Way Link other than simply to echo Ross or one of the rest of us. You have been proven right about East Link, but you certainly do not deserve the self-appointed cloak of “Futurist” about transit that you keep awarding yourself.

        I would note that both Ross and I were questioning Federal Way Link LONG BEFORE the Pandemic, simply because we knew that it’s too far for very many people to be heading to Seattle via Link, the alignment is crap, and there aren’t any other genuine activity centers on the line other than the airport. What sort of person who might ride transit goes to an airport regularly except one who works there? “Frequent fliers” are usually business execs who can write off the cab fare or have it reimbursed.

        Yes, there are a large number of jobs around Sea-Tac, and that’s the reason that the A-Line has 24 hour service. But there aren’t enough jobs to justify building a rail line.

        I will admit that I was overly optimistic about Lynnwood Link, but the cities are stabbing it in the back by reversing their commitments to dense development around the stations in response to constituents who think like you do about transit and are getting the vapors.

      9. “Fl and TX are the two fastest growing states, while CA lost so many citizens it lost a congressional seat for the first time in history.”
        That’s incorrect, it never lost a seat because of losing population, the US census actually had a 6% increase from the previous census and has only lost less than a single percentage point since the 2020 census but that is common throughout a decade of population eb and flow. It lost a seat because other states actually grew at a faster rate proportionally compared to California. I don’t really read it as death to California as just more of populations shuffling around along with where immigrant populations are moving.

      10. “When it comes to Uber it was started by VC (so were Costco and Amazon) but long ago went public. The key metric is miles driven, which is exploding. A month ago I told folks on this blog to buy Uber stock. I hope you listened. You would have made 25% in 30 days.”
        Amazon and Costco were not funded by VC, both were funded by loans from family members and loans from banks and credit cards. Which is very very different from VC funding.

        And no, I wouldn’t invest in Uber. Because no matter how hard you keep trying to sell people on here for Uber as the future of transport and to invest in it. I can assuredly tell you that it isn’t and still not a worthwhile long term investment. Because again, it’s not a company with a good long term outlook and validity. Public Transit is still a much safer investment because it actually realistically moves people in a meaningful way and actually drives economic development compared to a taxi and food delivery company . Uber only piggy backs off other industries to make itself feel relevant.

      11. Tom, I didn’t mean to imply I am some kind of visionary when it comes to Link ridership. In fact, in 2016-2019 we on MI were concerned about capacity based on ST’s ridership estimates for East Link (which we actually believed I am ashamed to admit) and the fact MI is the last stop going west to Seattle.

        Then the pandemic came, and even before that eastsiders stopped going to Seattle. You don’t have to be a visionary if you live here to know eastsiders don’t ride transit for trips on the eastside.

        I too thought Lynnwood Link would do the best of the three, at least pre-pandemic. During the GMPC housing allocation process cities like Lynnwood, Shoreline and Mountlake Terrace all accepted higher than required housing growth targets with the hope “TOD” would lure white collar Seattle workers who couldn’t afford to live closer to Seattle but wanted some space (SFH), and they would become Totem Lake. I don’t know Federal Way well, but never really saw that part of the region as transit oriented (think 167). East Link is just a very bad route with stations the folks ain’t in an area that post pandemic lost interest in transit.

        Lynnwood, Shoreline and MLT all began to understand what I was beginning to understand from crazy PSRC Vision Statements, upzoning bills, and ST: white collar downtown Seatttle workers don’t live next to a freeway. They live in a SFH with a dog and yard and kids and a wife, which is why they live in suburbia, whether that is Issaquah, Shoreline, West Seattle, or somewhere in S. KC. That is why if they do take transit they usually drive to a park and ride. A city does not want low-income, multi-family TOD next to a freeway in their town. That is not Totem Lake. So of course, post pandemic these cities don’t want TOD like you see along Hwy 99 S. or I-5 heading south, once they figured that out.

        I specifically wrote that you asked the perfect question for these suburban Link lines today: where will these riders be going that they will want to take Link? The obvious answer, pre-pandemic, was downtown Seattle (unless they are taking Link to Fife). But if they are not going to downtown Seattle why would these suburbanites take Link, or any transit, which will be slow, and as you noted ST express buses serving these suburban areas are empty, and at least on the eastside much more convenient than East Link will be with one seat.

        If one put aside the cost of tunnels and bridges I was told West Seattleites and Ballardites would ride Link I could see that. These are semi-urban folks not too far from downtown. But when you tell me the same about folks from Lynnwood and Federal Way and Issaquah and Redmond I have my doubts. I have always thought one of the telling moments of honesty by ST was the ridership estimates for downtown Redmond, pre-pandemic, a city of 80,000 mostly tech workers a short hop to Microsoft on the train, was 1300 boardings/day, which ironically is probably high today.

      12. “Boise is one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. and was during the pandemic. ”

        I was in Boise this weekend. It is leading all cities with the largest decline in home values in the last year, at 12%.

        They are starting to stress about their sprawl and the cost of maintaining services out in Eagle and Meridian, which are exploding. Traffic is fast and awful. In response, they just passed some pretty substantial zoning reform, especially given their conservative leadership.

        Yes, folks from California and Washington are moving there, but also from other places. I had dinner with a couple who had Orange County Californians move into their tract housing across the street in Eagle. Both always with a 45 on their hips. They were gone in 6 months. They said “Good riddance.” That shit scares people, even conservatives.

      13. “Amazon and Costco were not funded by VC, both were funded by loans from family members and loans from banks and credit cards. Which is very very different from VC funding.”

        “Follow on Funding”

        “Amazon raised a series A of $8M from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 1995. In 1997, Amazon went public to raise additional capital. By 1999, the value of the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers investment in Amazon created returns of over 55,000%.”

        “Kleiner Perkins, formerly Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), is an American venture capital firm which specializes in investing in incubation, early stage and growth companies.”

        Do you ever research what you write Zach?

        “Public Transit is still a much safer investment because it actually realistically moves people in a meaningful way and actually drives economic development compared to a taxi and food delivery company . Uber only piggy backs off other industries to make itself feel relevant.”

        How do I invest in public transit Zach? All I know is if you had listened to me and invested $10,000 in Uber last month you would have $12,500 today. Here are the statistics on ride sharing through 2021 (a low year). Net revenue for Uber was $17.46 billion. “The global ride-sharing market is expected to grow to by more than 115 percent between 2021 and 2026. The market value is expected to amount around 185 billion U.S. dollars in 2026. Uber, and Lyft are among the key players in this industry.”

        I am not saying public transit will go away. Just that it will move toward micro transit which will be more “meaningful” since it will be door to door, which is why so many transit agencies across the U.S. are experimenting with micro transit, including Metro.

      14. 12% drop in Boise seems higher than recently reported, e.g. here:

        To be fair, Redfin is more pessimistic, claiming a 14% drop:

        However, this is in line with Seattle area.

        In Bellevue, prices dropped even more (15%):

        Seattle: 13%

      15. “How do I invest in public transit Zach? All I know is if you had listened to me and invested $10,000 in Uber last month you would have $12,500 today.”
        There’s this thing called taxes. Something that improves quality of life and economics for a region when they are used and invested into providing properly funded public services like transit. Might I also point to government or municipal bonds are something people can invest into as well. Are they not as sexy about uber stock, no. But they are investments into your local community compared to a large corporation.

      16. @TT,

        Nobody has been proven right or wrong about East Link. It hasn’t even carried a single passenger yet, and won’t for some time.

        I suspect East Link will do just fine. There is a lot of pent-up demand for quality rail transit regionally. All ST Link extensions to date have been highly successful. I don’t see any reason to expect East Link to be otherwise, especially given the demographics along the route.

        And remember, East Link will also be serving Lynnwood and the Seattle urban core, where the demand for rail transit is already very high and well established.

        But hey, only time will tell. I just wish it would get done sooner.

      17. “12% drop in Boise seems higher than recently reported…”

        Yeah, I like to use Case-Schiller because it takes into account a change in the housing mix. I’m not positive that’s what I quoted though. It’s general got a bit more reporting lag.

        There are tons of measures out there and they all have advantages and disadvantages, depending on your use.

      18. Thanks Cam – yeah, as long as the source is clear, it’s interpretable. That is why I like to include my sources explicitly in the comment, so people can get those details.

        Thank you also for the tidbit about why to use Case-Schiller – that’s very useful to know.


    “Seattle’s Chinatown International District, under pressure by past freeway and stadium projects, the city’s fentanyl crisis, and disputes over future transit stations, has been named to a list of 11 “most endangered” historic places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

    It’s the first neighborhood in Washington to make the list, as well as the only U.S. community settled by Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, African Americans, and Vietnamese people, according to the trust.

    More challenges are ahead, as politicians controlling Sound Transit decide next year where to site a future light-rail station. Depending on the location and how it’s built, the project could afflict residents with noise, blocked sidewalks, dust and overflow traffic for a decade.

    State and national trust officials will gather at 11:30 a.m. today in Hing Hay Park to announce the bittersweet distinction.”

    1. To clarify, the entire portion in the post above on the CID is quoted from the article although I left off the quotation marks on some of the text. I didn’t add anything of my own.

  7. An example of how microtransit doesn’t scale. A couple weeks ago, I was on Bainbridge Island and tried to order a ride from BI Ride, their microtransit service to return to the ferry. After about 15 minutes of fiddling with the app, we got back a message that the service was busy and it would be an hour before we could get picked up. Being only three miles from the ferry dock, we ended up walking instead.

    The other direction, we rode a regular fixed route bus on a schedule perfectly coordinated with the ferry arrival, and had absolutely no issues.

    If microtransit can’t even handle a place like Bainbridge Island without being overwhelmed with demand, it can’t possibly work in a real city.

    1. I can confirm that is not an anomoly. Friends on Bainbridge have told me you basically can’t trust you could get any sort of ride to or from the ferry. Ever.

      Microtransit is not transit.

    2. Public micro transit usually does not work. High cost and poor app. Even Uber in an undense area is spotty. I have been to Sun Valley over Presidents Day, the most popular week with big money, and you can’t get an Uber for any price after 9 pm. If you have been drinking that leaves the city bus that comes every 30 minutes or so waiting in 9 degree weather with a 1/2 mile walk home from the stop.

      Uber is designed for urban and suburban areas with a high AMI.

      I think it is good that public transit is experimenting with micro transit but am not surprised the app is poor and so is coverage.

      Which is why I think public transit agencies should contract with Uber/Lyft. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. 80% of folks have the apps on their phones and the apps are fantastic and folks already have a positive experience.

      1. I see there is a Kraken team store in Bellevue. I’m wondering why the Kraken have fans there if eastsiders don’t want to go to Seattle.

      2. Yea, the monorail worked all year for Kraken games. Last year, too. Thanks for asking.

      3. Contracting with Uber and Lyft would avoid the hassle of needing to download and figure out how to use a special app for one specific area. But, it wouldn’t address a fundamental issue. Fares are subsidized, there’s only enough money to subsidize a tiny number of fares per hour, and that number is far lower than the number of seats on regular fixed-route transit buses that the same amount of taxpayer money could fund. So, you’d still be in a position with very long wait times once usage becomes non-trivial.

        Now, it is true that contracting with Uber and Lyft does offer much greater *coverage* than a place like Bainbridge could possibly get with fixed route buses. But that coverage comes at a cost of a hard cap of around 3 riders per hour, to the point where if demand ever exceeds that, people have to wait.

        Another option, I’ve imagined as a thought experiment is for a rural transit agency like Kitsap Transit to simply pay drivers minimum wage to log into the Uber app and be available, but avoid actually subsidizing fares in order to make the taxpayer money go further. This idea at least solves the problem relatively cheaply of Ubers not being available at any price, but now a 3 mile trip might cost $18 (plus tip), rather than $3. You can offer subsidies to low income locals, but then, you have to ration it in order to avoid the service money being bled dry. This makes transit start to have all the problems of other social services, where people have to waste time proving their eligibility in order to use it, and maybe also provide a reason why their trip is important enough to be worthy of taxpayer subsidy, lest we end up with headlines in the Seattle Times about “Welfare Queens” using public money to pay for a taxi ride to go play at the beach.

        Ultimately, we need fixed routes, with the exception of mandatory ADA paratransit. However, if technology someday allows taxis to become driverless, the fixed route buses can become driverless too. Driverless buses means lower labor cost, which means the same money buys more service.

      4. asdf2, I doubt that people will ride driverless buses on lightly-patronized semi-rural routes. There’s enough risk that one would be trapped alone on a moving bus with a maniac or sexual predator to deter ridership.

        Sure, maybe the agency would have monitors who could lock the bus so that the guy — it would almost always be a “guy” — can’t escape, but the victim would still be dead or raped.

        “Autonomous buses” seem to me to be a Red Herring in any application other high-volume daytime routes with lots of turnover.

  8. These double digit housing price drops are largely garbage data. There was a very sharp spike of home prices in Spring 2022 that was incredibly short lived and more a panic driven situation induced by rapidly increasing rates for jumbo loans. It’s more interesting comparing the numbers just a few months earlier or the 2021 numbers. It creates a wrong interpretation of the collapse of the housing market when nothing of the sort is happening, especially of desirable neighborhoods of Seattle.

    1. Numbers from the summer onwards will show significant stabilization of prices.

    2. It is not garbage data. It’s real data. You just need to be careful in your interpretation. We have basically returned to prices of Sept 2021. So if you would rather think of prices as flat for the last year and a half and ignore the spike, that’s fine. Weird, but fine.

      1. I think both takes are valuable – there was indeed a sharp spike, and that unsurprisingly proved to be unsustainable (and not sustained). But the longer-term trends will likely not be affected by that spike. For policy setting purposes, I can definitely see that the spike should not be weighed very significantly. I also do expect that prices will not drop significantly more at this point, so we will likely see a return to the slower upward trend. Some of it will depend on other external “one-off” factors, like what happens to the debt ceiling.

      2. Cam Soloman,

        Short term anomalies to trends are not that meaningful. It’s like noise. Just because it’s real data doesn’t mean you can interpret much from it. It’s not at all weird to ignore the noise. This is like how much of our science and the technology we take for granted works. Yes, prices dropped double digits from the spike in Spring 2022, but that spike represented just how many sales? I think the effort to use that drop from the spike to tell a narrative of the market conditions and how Seattle homeowners are doing can be very misleading.

      3. I will disagree (slightly) with the point about short term anomalies in trends not mattering. The “trend” as we have been discussing is the mean house value (or something along those lines, anyway). However, the standard deviation (i.e. “how much variation is there from the mean”) also does matter. The interpretation may be more difficult, perhaps, as there will be confounding with all sorts of explanatory variables for it (e.g. the amount of speculation in the market, which Glenn pointed out elsewhere in the thread). But even just knowing that there “is” a lot of variation, for example, is useful, when determining the relative importance of a particular spike; as someone who had to help someone with tight finances work out the best options for a property purchase just as the spike was starting in earnest, this was one of the things we looked at in terms of whether to wait or not, what sort of loan amount and duration they should look at, etc. So I would not be quite so cavalier in discounting its importance.

    3. Every month I get 20 or so calls from high pressure buyers saying something like “Portland is dying! We can help you buy buying your house at (some price half of actual market value)!”

      It doesn’t take too many of those types of buyers to run the prices down.

      As these speculators are also not interested in investing money in the properties they buy, they typically let things get really run down, and contribute to the lowering of property values. Every single case in my neighborhood, they’ve bought the house, boarded up the windows, cut down all the trees, and put up portable fencing around the place.

      But, if they didn’t expect prices to go back up, they wouldn’t be buying either.

  9. I watched the Q&A with Julie Timm just now and have to say, she is 1000% better than Rogoff, a true breath of fresh air. If anyone can get this monster built well and frugally, it is she. And she’ll keep everyone “in the loop” along the way.

    1. Agreed. I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes. I’m not sure how much power she has vs how much the board has, but is a great public face for the organization.

    2. She’s the most publicly-engaged ST CEO I can remember. If the ceiling incident had happened before her term, we’d probably get a statement with the content of her tweet by some nameless official. But she actually went to the site and told us her impressions directly, including herself as a user or at least near-user of the system.

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